« AnteriorContinuar »
debtor and creditor account with heaven,' from gloating over the monuments to their cupidity—the jails and alms-houses.
• Where then, ah where, shall poverty reside,
To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride ?!”
Mr. Sheriff Watson, one of the founders of Industrial Schools in England, remarks in a letter, “ If we could restrict the use of intoxicating liquor out of prison, as you have done it within, a juvenile delinquent would now seldom be seen within its walls; but no ordinary man's wages can stand the drain of the spirit-shop, and the demands of his children for food and education, and it too often happens that the whiskey-seller has the preference, and Juvenile Delinquency, as it is absurdly called, still disgraces our country.” A father or' mother converted into a brute by the indulgence of a base and depraved appetite, becomes to a family of little children like "a wild boar out of the woods turned into a garden of delicate flowers ;" and nothing short of a miracle can possibly save their children from becoming vagrants. So formidable does the hydra-headed monster, Intemperance, seem to the Inspectors of the Philadelphia County Prison, that they are induced thus to speak of it in their Eighth Annual Report: “ The House of Correction, when esta- . blished, may be the means of reforming a few; but, as long as the cause is suffered to exist, we cannot expect to remove the evil; the only effectuel remedy is to break up the low groggeries that are festering in all parts of the city. Let stringent laws be enacted and enforced in regard to the sale of intoxicating liquors, and our citizens will be relieved from the necessity of erecting a House of Correction, and the population of our Alms-house and Prisons will soon be reduced to one-half of its present number."
The evils of the prevailing vice of intemperance are nowhere more plainly and painfully visible than in the Juvenile Delinquent institutions, the nativities of whose inmates clearly show among what class of our people the vice most prevails. A few facts will show the sources from whence juvenile vagrancy comes. Thus it is reported, by the Massachusetts Reform School, that of 324 inmates in 1849, there were 66 of foreign birth, of whom 42 were Irish, and of the 268 native born, no less than 96 were of Irish parentage. So of 361 received into the New York Juvenile Asylum in 1853, there were 134 of foreign birth, and 80 more of Irish parentage; and of 278 admitted into the New York House of Refuge in 1850, there were 25 foreign born, and 163 more of Irish parentage. During the year 1853 there were received 112 in the Rochester House of Refuge, 73 of whom were of foreign birth, and of these 40 were Irish. Of 157 admitted into the House of Refuge, in 1853, at Cincinnati, 107 were foreign born. Marshal Tukey, of Boston, made a report to the Mayor of that city in 1849, respecting the number, character, social circumstances, &c., of the street children, in habits of vagrancy, wandering about and contracting idle habits, &c., from which it appears that the whole number of the class of children designated, between six and sixteen years of age, was 1066, which were arranged as follows: of American parents 103, and of foreign parents 963!
These are facts which speak in unmistakable language, but they are by no means all at command on the subject. It has been stated in the publie journals, that of 16,000 commitments for crimes in New York city, during 1852, at least one-fourth were minors, and that no less than 10,000 children are daily suffering all the evils of vagrancy in that city. In 1849, the Chief of the Police Department of that city, called attention to the increasing number of vagrant, idle, and vicious children of both sexes, growing up in ignorance and profligacy, and destined to a life of misery, shame, and crime, the number of whom were given upon authority and with an exactness which claim confidence. He stated that there were then 2,955 children of the class described, known to the police in eleven patrol districts, of whom two-thirds were females between eight and sixteen years of age. "Most of these children," it was at the same time stated, “were of German or Irish parentage, the proportion of American born being not more than one in five."
Thus facts might be added to facts, showing the enormous amount of juvenile depravity in this country; but enough have been given to show the neglect of HOME CARE, and the necessity of devising means to improve HOME INFLUENCES.
Considering this condition of things in our country to exist, we need not be surprised at a remark of the Earl of ELLESMERE, who recently passed through our country. In presenting to the House of Lords a petition from the magistrates of Manchester, praying for the establishment of reformatory institutions for juvenile delinquents, he referred to what he had personally witnessed. “In the United States,” he said, "education was in a more advanced position than in any other part of the world; but he would not be acting disrespectfully to those States in saying that, for want of some system of schools of a reformatory
description, much juvenile crime prevailed there.” As is well remarked by the Prison Discipline Journal, he was aware of the existence and character of our public institutions in Philadelphia, New York, Rochester, Westborough, &c., but evidently regarded these (useful though they are) as no part of a system. He doubtless felt that where all power is lodged in the hands of the people, all the people should be wise and virtuous enough to use it without abusing it; and he had seen enough with his own eyes in his own land to satisfy him, that this virtue and wisdom are not wrought into men and women, whose infancy and childhood are passed in sottish ignorance and brutal sensuality, and hence his natural wonder that we had not a system of early education adapted especially to the lowest grade of children and youth."
The Bible teaches us that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people ;” and if ignorance be the cause of poverty and of crime, and education the means of elevating man, it is the duty of the American people to adopt more efficient means to educate the friendless and homeless, and thus stay the progress of juvenile degradation and sin. More especially is this a public duty, in a republican form of government like ours, which ought not to be neglected. “The American Republic above all others, demands from every citizen unceasing vigilance and exertions," said Judge Story, "since we have deliberately dispensed with every guard against danger or ruin, except the intelligence and virtue of the people. It is founded on the basis that the people have wisdom enough to frame their own system of government, and public spirit enough to preserve it; and that they will not submit to have them taken from them by force. We silently assumed the fundamental truth that, as it never can be the interest of the majority of the people to prostrate their own political equality, so they never can be seduced by flattery or corruption, by the intrigues of faction or the arts of ambition, to adopt any measure which shall subvert them. If this confidence in ourselves be jastified, let us never forget that it can be justified only by a watchfulness and real proportionate to our confidence. Let us never forget that we must prove ourselves wiser and better and purer than any other nation yet has been, if we are to count on success."
But it will be said that ample provision for the education of all has already been made, and that in no other country does there exist so perfect a system of Common Schools as in our own. This may all be so, and yet experience has shown that juvenile delinquency is rapidly on the increase, and that some further measures are necessary to arrest it. Our schools are open, it is true, to all; but it is a lamentable fact that many of the children of those who exercise no parental care over them, do not attend these schools, but grow up in ignorance, idleness, and vice, and that most of this class are children of foreigners. A brief examination of the statistics furnished by the last Census returns, will make this fact apparent.
According to the statistics of De Bow's Compendium of the United States, for 1850, there were then 9,516,538 native whites, and 1,344,346 foreigners in the United States, who were over the age of twenty; and these were found in the respective States, as follows: STATES. NATIVES. FOREIGNERS.
....7,803,345 Slave,......... .2,867,537.
..3,057,539 Total,.............9,516,538.. ..........1,344,346...... ..........10,850,884 The number returned of those over twenty years of age, who were not able to read and write, was 982,898 whites, and 90,522 free colored : making an aggregate of 1,053,420 illiterate persons in the Union. Of these there were :
STATES. NATIVE. Wol FOREIGN. FREE COLORED. AGGREGATE.
Total,........767,784.............195,114...............90,522...........1,053,420 These returns show that about one-tenth of those who were over twenty years of age, including the free colored, were incapable of reading and writing, and one in every twelve of the white population. In the slave States, considerably over one-sixth of the number were thus illiterate, while in the free States only about one-sixteenth part were so. But the most remarkable feature is the proportion of foreign illiterate. In the Union it is twice that of the native; in the free States about 16 per cent. ; in the slave States about 10 per cent.; whilst the proportion to the whole number of foreign is one in every seven in the United States.
According to the same returns, there were, in 1850, in the United States, 4,792,576 native whites, and 313,681 foreign whites, who were between five and fifteen years of age. Of the native whites, 3,915,620 were at school, making a percentage of 80.81 of native whites at school to those of five years and under fifteen, while the percentage of those of foreign whites at school, to those of the same age of their class, was 51.73. These facts explain from whence the increase of juvenile delinquency comes. It may be safely assumed, that the advancement in knowledge is a fair criterion by which to judge the care and moral culture children have received, and thus judged, it must be manifest to all that to the immense foreign immigration we are indebted, to a very great extent, for the enormous juvenile vagrancy in the country. A fact worthy of notice, in this connection, was stated a year or two since by Judge Kelley, in his address at the opening of the Philadelphia House of Refuge for colored children, and it was this: "No graduate of the High School has ever been arraigned before the courts on a criminal charge ; and no pupil of any public school, who had passed the third division of a Grammar school, is known to have been convicted.” Bishop Potter states further, that, comparing the number of white adults who cannot read and write, adding a due proportion of colored persons and children, we shall find about one-twenty-ninth of the population who are unable to read and write. If education does not diminish crime, there should be a similar proportion found among the convicts; that is, one in twenty-nine shonld be unable to read, and the rest should be educated. But what is the trne state of the case ? One in two, instead of one in twenty-nine, are unable to read; showing that the tendency to crime among the ignorant is fourteen and a half times greater than it ought to be, on the supposition that education has no tendency to diminish crime.
Well may we adopt the language of a writer already quoted, and ask the American people “whether they intend to sit still and see this fair land gradually overrun by those giant evils that trample out the heart of Europe? Will they supinely wait till, like the Netherlands, one-fifth of the population are paupers ? Has not Europe green fields and splendid palaces ? Shall America rival her in these, and in her huts and filthy dens, and jails and alms-houses ?
"If a rich man dies the law appoints a guardian for his children. Certainly. It ought to do so. They have property, they must be educated, they must be placed in a proper sphere—in proportion to their money. they must be fondled, and nursed, and watched. 1,"It would be a pity if a young man, with such bright prospects,' should become vicious; the world would wring its hands and sigh, and maudlin sympathy would drop a tear. But shall not the poor orphan have a guardian appointed for him ? You say we have guardians of the poor-questionable, very. These only take charge when there is no other remedy; these take the poor child to a place where he will run from bad to worse.
" The alms-house and the jail are foul blots on the face of nature, marring the beauty of God's world, covering the unsightly magnificence, the view of the church and school-house. Lay their corner-stones silently.