« PreviousContinue »
them to their homes, surprise them at their work, seek out a respectable lodging for the houseless, or for those whose home was a hotbed for crime; she would entreat a master to admit a servant to his former employment, and persuade others to make trial of some delinquent of whom she thought well: the juvenile offenders were presented to the superintendents of Sunday schools for admission, and the regularity of their attendance inquired into; she would write to the distant parents of a liberated prisoner, to beg them to receive the returning prodigal, and encouragement was given to the sailor to call upon her on his return from the voyage. These are some of the particulars of the labours of twenty-four years, not executed by a committee, but by an individual, and she by no means of a robust constitution; and during the greater part of the time working with her hands for her daily bread. The bodily labour was great, but the mental strain was much greater. The disappointment, the bitter disappointment which so often followed her highest hopes, did its work on the outward frame; although it had no effect in the way of discouragement; her great business and object was to do God's will; and her faith in him "that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers,' gave her full encouragement that the seed sown should prosper, that the increase would be given, although the appearing might be long in coming.
The "Every-day Book" proves that she was allowed to see some fruit of her labours: a leaf of this book will best explain its plan and con
Skinner. Psalm 119, 1 verse
Hymn 3 verses.
It astonishes me to observe how strictly and constantly the prisoners labour to learn their verses from the Holy Scriptures, every day. Poor old S. takes uncommon pains to remember one every day. T., who, on April 21, could only attempt one, has for some time learned five regularly, and several of Watts's Divine Songs: since yesterday, he has learned fourteen, from John xv., perfectly. It is no less gratifying and wonderful to observe the success of H., who, with a defective memory, perseveres by constant study in furnishing his mind and memory with from two to five verses daily.
I was particularly pleased with the progress of B.; and the youngest B. had learned perfectly the verse which, as he could not read it alone, I had commenced teaching him yesterday. But when I returned to R. H., a dull person, who has been committed four days, he said he had been so busy mending his clothes, that he had not had time. I entered on the subject, explaining its advantages, and on his acknowledging that as an ignorant and guilty creature he was not happy,
that he needed instruction, God's mercy, and to be reclaimed from a bad course, that he had better, knowing the thing to be right, give his mind to what I proposed, and not consult his inclination, but at once begin to store his mind with suitable portions from the Testament.
May 17 records, "This morning R. H. repeated three verses from Matt. viii."
Some extracts from the Every Day Book will show her opinion as to the advantage of hard labour in prisons, her manner of dealing with prisoners, etc.
December 29.-B., the vagrant, who was discharged on the 26th, and promised to leave the town, did not, but entered a shop and stole a pair of stockings, with the hope and intention of getting into our gaol, I have no doubt whatever.
Jan. 1.-B. seems quite happy: I should judge him to be familiar with prisons. He is very well behaved to me: when I reproved him for the crime which brought him here, and charged him with committing the theft immediately on his discharge, for the purpose of coming again, he did not deny it were he separate from the rest, or at work on a tread-wheel, he might be less anxious to come. He is, I feel convinced, a dangerous companion for any less advanced in iniquity.
Jan. 30.-K., knowing I reproved R. for not leaving the town, immediately after his former discharge, when I went to-day observed, that B. declared on leaving the prison yesterday, he would instantly return to his own parish, and not be found in a prison any more. P. interrupted him by saying with an angry feeling, "You
must not talk of R. coming often to prison, I never come without finding you here." It seems quite clear, that where there are no means of separation, nor any hard work, whilst also for men doing nothing, they have more to eat than many have out of prison, and, at the same time, have the society and conversation they prefer, such persons are not likely to keep long out of our gaol.
A specimen of her manner of reasoning and dealing with the prisoners, may not be unacceptable.
Feb. 2.-I had been accustomed to allow the prisoners, in the middle of every day, to write a copy in my absence, with the view of filling up their time. On Friday, in consequence of a note being sent over to the female prisoners' ward, the governor, to prevent the improper use of pen and ink, took both away, with their books also. Since that day, not a single prisoner has learned any lessons. On leaving after reading with them to-day, I asked why it was that all had done so ?-F. J. replied he wished to write, that would do him some good, the other would do none, so he would learn no more. I reasoned with him, but his reply was, "I am sure it will do me no good." I turned to the Bible as a standard to convince him. "As for that,” said he, "I won't believe one word of it, it is all nonsense; victuals is what I want." " Yes," replied B., a poor ignorant creature, "victuals is what we want, and not to be put in here for nothing; we don't want religion, we want victuals." I then took pains to show, that religion,
which enforced justice, industry, etc., brought plenty; and in the absence of its principles, there was want and destitution. I still referred to the Bible; it was my standard, although F. J., in rejecting it, had none. F. J. said exultingly, "I have a right to think as I like." I replied, “If such be your thoughts, you have no right, viperlike, to cast forth the poison upon other people." It was remarkable, that when he spoke the most dangerous things, the others seconded him at the beginning of the contest; not so at the end. I requested as a favour, an answer to one plain question did they still wish me to visit them, or was it their wish that I should keep away? if it were the latter, as I would never go where I was unwelcome knowingly, I would never enter the room again until they were gone. All but F. J. eagerly desired that I would still come, that they were quite sure I intended good to them, and hoped I would on no account leave them. I told them it was enough, I would visit them still. J. B. said, "Although I am bad, and have not followed them up, I am convinced that your views are right:" he acknowledged that what I taught from the Bible was true, and those who followed up such views were the best people. All agreed to this excepting F. J.: and at parting I said, "If any of you think proper to learn more from the Scriptures, I shall feel happy to hear you, except F. J.; with his views I shall not hear any from him."
Feb. 3.-On entering the middle-room to-day, all received me in the most respectful and grateful manner; all had learned a lesson from the Scrip