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11. – Discourse delivered before the Alumni of the University of
Pennsylvania, at their First Annual Meeting on the 14th of July, 1836. By Thomas J. WHARTON. Philadelphia ; James Key, Jr. & Brother. 8vo. pp. 46.
This discourse was delivered at the eightieth commencement of the Pennsylvania University. Both in style and matter it is one of the best discourses of the kind, which this season has produced. The historical notices of the University, which we find in it, are exceedingly interesting, though the facts contained in them have not been generally known beyond the limits of Pennsylvania. Most of them are highly honorable to the character of the State and of its capital city. In the year 1743, though Philadelphia contained but 12,000 inhabitants, the amount subscribed in aid of the University by the gentlemen who projected it, was more than £ 2000, and in a few years more it rose to upwards of 7000 pounds sterling. The first suggestion of the institution was made by Dr. Franklin, to whom the city of Philadelphia was so largely indebted in almost all projects for the public good.
During the early period of the American revolution, the governors of the college were suspected of being unfriendly to the cause of the colonies. This turned the popular prejudice strongly against the institution, and in 1779 the case brought before the legislature. It was alleged that the trustees had “ departed from the plan of the founders, and narrowed the foundation of the institution.” The enemies of the college totally failed to make good the charge; but the rancor of party spirit supplied the lack of proof, and the charter of the college was annulled. This, Mr. Wharton states, is the first and only instance in which the legislature of Pennsylvania has ventured to abrogate a charter or interfere with vested rights. The proceeding, however, was reversed by the next legislature, and ample reparation made to the college for this base violation of its chartered rights. Mr. Wharton's comments upon this proceeding strike us as not only sound, but seasonable. It is well to apply the lessons of the past, in forming a judgment upon the current radicalism of the present.
Mr. Wharton's style is full, elegant, and dignified. were inclined to find fault, we should do so on the score of its diffuseness, But the rhetorical nature of such an address is perhaps a justification. At any rate, the address is so full of just opinions well expressed, — the tone and spirit of it are so temperate and wise, – that we are only inclined to dwell upon its excellences.
12. — Influence of the Ministry at Large in the City of Boston.
By A SPECTATOR. Boston; James Munroe & Co.
12mo. pp. 72. Tuis pamphlet is a collection of papers, which were printed some time ago in the Christian Register. It is full of details of the deepest interest, set forth in a style of singular terseness and descriptive strength. The sketches, drawn from real life, and real life in its humblest form, rival in pathos and power the pictures of romance. The author of this little book has evidently been, not merely an eyewitness, but an actor in the scenes he describes. His manner of telling the touching stories he has collected, of want and woe, of vice reformed, and unbelief changed to faith, is too vivid and feeling to have been acquired by art and study. We have been constantly reminded, while reading these papers, of the celebrated Passages from the Diary of a Physician," except that the latter are longer, more elaborate, and more finished. The former are the more touching and vivid. "The short and simple annals of the poor” are here forcibly related, and hard must be the heart which is not moved to pity, by the sad narration.
The author of these papers goes into a thorough discussion of the effects of the ministry at large, in all its bearings. It appears to us that his arguments are perfectly conclusive, as to the beneficial agency of such a ministry, and that they must awaken a powerful sympathy with the efforts of those whose talents are devoted to so noble a career of duty. We are happy to learn that New York has followed the example of Boston. A single society, influenced by the stirring eloquence of the Rev. Mr. Dewey, has raised an ample sum for the support of a minister at large; and we understand that one of the most distinguished young men in the profession is at present employed in that responsible office.
13. — An Address delivered before the Massachusetts Charitable
Mechanic Association, at the Celebration of their Tenth
Without making any pretensions to fine writing, Mr. Homer has given us a very excellent discourse. His aim is to impart instruction and inspire just sentiments. He speaks as a practical man to practical men; as a patriot to his countrymen; and as a Bostonian, to the mechanics of the good town. In the
first part of his discourse, he points out the defective organization and imperfect action of the Society whom he addresses. This duty he performs with freedom, but in no harsh spirit. To illustrate his views, he introduces, with great propriety, descriptions of similar associations in other cities. In this part of his discourse, he states a variety of interesting facts as to the condition, intelligence, and opportunities of acquiring knowledge, enjoyed by the mechanics in Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere. Mr. Homer then considers the subject of combinations and strikes among journeymen, and points out their true character and disastrous consequences. His remarks upon this topic have an especial value, coming as they do from a man who has a full and practical acquaintance with the course of affairs among the mechanics.
The whole discourse is animated with an excellent moral feeling. Mr. Homer inculcates habits of order, sobriety, and self-respect, among mechanics, in a most emphatic manner. The address has much in it to interest a wider circle of readers, than that for whose particular instruction it was prepared.
14. — De la Réforme des Prisons, ou De la Théorie de
l'Emprisonnement, de ses Principes, de ses Moyens, et de ses Conditions pratiques. Par M. Charles Lucas, Inspecteur-général des Prisons du Royaume, Membre de l'Institut, &c. &c. Tome premier. Paris. 1836. 8vo. pp. 385.
We know it is very wrong to indulge ourselves in prejudices of any sort, whether in favor of theories or against them, in favor of practical men or of speculative writers. Both are important and useful in their place. But we confess we find it difficult to conquer a certain feeling of disgust and repugnance, when we see a plain practical subject overlaid and smothered under a mass of refined distinctions, formal divisions, technical phraseology, and scientific parade. There are some authors who seem to be aware that the value of their works depends on the number and power of their original ideas, or new combinations of facts and opinions, while there are others who appear to think nothing can have intellectual weight, unless it has the same quality physically, and that the number of reams of paper over which they can spread their elaborated ideas is quite as important as the number of ideas themselves. M. Charles Lucas, unfortunately for us, belongs to the latter class; and we have been compelled to turn over a great many useless pages, and to read a great many idle words, in order to present to our readers the brief meaning of the long harangue; “ der langen Rede kurzer Sinn."
The main object of the work is to show, that a very different treatment is due to the different classes of persons, who, from various causes, are so unfortunate as to fall under the punishment of imprisonment; and that the juvenile offender, the debtor, the accused, the convicted of high crimes, and of less serious offences, the male and the female, should be subjected to very different discipline, according to the nature and aggravation of their offence, and the susceptibility of their characters. Now this is so strikingly true, and at the present day beginning to be so generally admitted, that we do not perceive the necessity of attempting to convince thinking men of it, by entering on the subject in a first volume of 385 pages, besides an introduction of 103, to be followed by, we know not how many, of equal dimensions. What is the utility of the division of imprisonment into three kinds; the preventive, to prevent escape and mutual corruption, the repressive, to prevent recommittals, and the penitentiary, to prevent the continuance of criminal habits and intentions?
All imprisonment of the guilty is, or ought to be, preventive and correctional. The only justifiable object of it is the prevention of crime; and the only question that need be raised on the whole matter, from beginning to end, regards solely the adaptation of the means to this proposed result, in relation to the different characters that are to be subjected to the punishment. Is this a question to be settled by theories? Is this a subject which requires volumes to discuss ? Certainly it is important to have definite and comprehensive views on this as on other topics; but experience, founded on continued and diversified experiments and researches, can alone determine the true value of particular means, and the relative success which attends different plans. Various schemes of imprisonment have been tried, both in this country and elsewhere, within a few years, and what we esteem most important in relation to the subject, at the present moment, is an accurate investigation of the results of these different practices. Sufficient time has not yet elapsed to develope all their consequences, and therefore such inquiries cannot be so entirely satisfactory and conclusive as we trust they will become a few years hence. Still much may now be determined with certainty, which is of very great value towards forming a perfect scheme of imprisonment; and as new suggestions are continually made, we feel confident that the path of improvement, on which we have entered, will be followed to the end.
There is one evil connected with our system in this country, which is mentioned by M. Lucas, and for which we will now venture to suggest a remedy. He says, with truth, that the number of re-committals cannot be accurately ascertained here, because the liberated convict wanders froin one State to another, and is never recognised, unless returned to the same penitentiary. It would not be difficult, we think, to detect these migrating rogues, if a regular periodical correspondence were maintained by the directors of each penitentiary with all the others in the Union, containing the names and personal description of all their inmates. The importance of the results of such communications would more than repay the labor of making them.
Another object of the work of M. Lucas, besides the developement of a grand theory of imprisonment, and one which he seems to consider of no slighi importance, as he has given a considerable part of the Introduction and occasional hints throughout the volume to its assertion, is to disabuse the European public of the absurd notion, which seems to have prevailed to some extent in England, France, and Germany, that we are making valuable progress in this country in prison discipline, and that we have begun some establishments of the kind which might be profitably imitated in Europe. According to M. Lucas, there is no such thing as penitentiary discipline in this country. Nay, not merely so, but there never will, and never can be any such thing. He describes the American system as one, - but let him speak for himself;
“Un système qui arrivait à deux grands résultats, sans doute, à empêcher la corruption mutuelle des détenus, et à produire l'intimidation ; mais un système purement repressif, dépourvu de toute éducation pénitentiaire. Nous irons plus loin; non seulement nous dirons à ces auteurs (Messrs. de Beaumont et de Tocqueville) que le système pénitentiaire n'est pas encore né aux États-Unis; mais que ce n'est pas inême sur le sol américain qu'il peut et doit naître.” — Introduction, pp. lviii., lix.
And a little further on he says;
“ Une fois parvenu à empêcher la corruption mutuelle des détenus et à produire l'intimidation, il est, sinon dans les calculs positifs, du moins dans les instincts secrets de la civilisation américaine, de ne pas aller au-delà. Il ne faut donc pas chercher un système pénitentiaire dans les résultats de la réforine américaine ; il ne faut pas mème l'attendre de ses essais, ni de ses efforts." — p. Ixi.
This is so liberal, so enlightened and complimentary an assertion, that we scarcely know how to reply. We would not VOL. XLIV, - NO. 94.