Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ministry. The chaplain was an upright and intelligent man—a little jealous of laics, perhaps, but wellintentioned, and very desirous of doing good in his office. A prisoner was about to be discharged of whose future good conduct he felt assured, and he asked Mr. Wright if he could find the man a situation. He at once exerted his influence, and succeeded. This was the commencement of his ministry of love. The case turned out well. Another and another followed. When his own employers could take no more, he applied to other masters to whom he was known. At first there was great repugnance to his scheme; but this feeling gradually wore away, as the protégés of the strange mediator were found to behave well. He had, and still has, always a supply of reformed criminals on hand ; and in this way

he has succeeded, humble as are his means, in ten years' time, in rescuing upwards of three hundred persons from the career of crime. Many of these cases are very peculiar; and very few indeed have relapsed into error. He has constantly five or six persons on his list, for whom he is seeking work. Very frequently he persuades the former employer to give the erring man another trial. Sometimes he becomes guarantee for their honesty and good conduct-for a poor man, in considerable sums—201. to 601. In only one instance has a bond so given been forfeited, and that was a very peculiar case.

The large majority keep their places with credit to themselves and to their benefactor. Most of them—for Thomas Wright never loses sight of a man he has once

befriended, at least not through his own neglectattend church or Sunday-school, adhere to their temperance pledges, and live honest and reputable lives. And all this is the work of one unaided, poor, uninfluential man! What, indeed, might he not do, were he gifted with the fortune and the social position of a Howard ?

Nor is this all. He gives away a large portion of his own earnings. He cannot always procure situations for men immediately on their discharge. Weeks may elapse before he is able to do this. But in the meantime? Why, rather than allow them to relapse into crime through want, he actually keeps them-sometimes three or four at a time-out of his own pocket.

What do these facts indicate ? If an obscure individual can do so much, what might not an organized society do? Is not this man's time too valuable to be wasted in the common duties of a foundry? A small pension from government-a tithe of the amount his exertions has saved to the state-would set him free to devote his entire life to the good work. Why do not the philanthropists of Manchester organize a society with which he might co-operate ? A few hundred pounds judiciously laid out, would save the city and its neighbourhood many thousands. A little assistance, as Mr. Wright is continually finding, applied at the right moment, saves from a life of crime. Every such redemption is a great gain to the communityeven as a matter of money. Remember how much

the yet unfinished course of the three Kellys has already cost. Cure is much cheaper than punishment.

There are some few other points of interest suggested in the ensuing pages—such as the operation of certain defective penal 'laws, examples of which will be noticed in the reports of Brixton, Lancaster Castle, Wakefield, and Reading ; but the reader will find these for himself in the proper places, as well as similar topics of debatable character. No further space need be taken up with them here.

CHAPTER II.

The Tow e r.

THE Tower of London is described by Stow, as a citadel to defend or command the city ; a royal palace for assemblies or treaties ; a prison of state for the most dangerous offenders; the armoury

for warlike provisions; the treasury of the ornaments and jewels of the crown; and general conservatory for the records of the national courts. Under each of these heads, the Tower is a subject for history; under each a volume might be written-full of curious lore, of stirring events and startling crimes. There is not an item in the account that fails to call up a host of memories. How often, in the time of the early Norman kings, was the Tower used to overawe the city—that city, ever full of sturdy Saxon spirits, ready to beard the face of power even in its firmest strongholds! Every one has read of the feud which raged between Mandeville, Earl of Essex, governor of the great fortress, and the Londoners, in the days of King Stephen ; how the gallant citizens drove the Empress Matilda—who had gained Mandeville to her party by bribes—

away from the capital, on her refusal to restore to the Saxon people the laws of the Confessor and besieged the Earl and hard pressed him—though the Tower was too strong to be taken with the military means at their disposal. Who does not remember how the adherents of King John held the Tower against all the might of barons and citizens—even until Magna Charta was signed ; when it was agreed, amongst other things, that the City of London and the Tower should remain in the hands of the insurgents, as a guarantee that the terms of the Charta should be fulfilled ? All the monarchs of Plantagenet race used the Tower as a point from which to annoy and command the commons; and few of them so far escaped the consequences of such a policy, as not to have needed its protection against the rage of their oppressed but never very submissive people. It was into the Tower that the court of the boy-King, Richard the Second, retired from the fury of that great uprising of the men of Kent and Essex, headed by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw; and it was from the same rtress that rode at the head of sixty horsemen into Smithfield, on that memorable day when Walworth stabbed the rebel chief, and placed his master's life in the greatest danger--only averted by the young monarch promising to be himself the leader of his excited subjects. As a palace, the early history of the Tower is, in fact, the history of the English court. Probably from the Conquest to the expulsion of the Stuart dynasty-certainly from the time of King

D

« AnteriorContinuar »