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TOPICS OF THE DAY. -

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TOPICS OF THE DAY. REFORMATORIES.—Even without making allowances for partiality, Mr. Sydney Turner's Report on Reforma- tories is far from encouraging. The number of young offenders committed in 1861 exceeded by nine per cent. the number of the previous year. Various reasons are assigned for this increase, but none satisfactory, as the most probable are likely to be of permanent operation for example, the number of discharged criminals who become the .trainers of crime, and the over-use (as it is termed) of Reformatories. Now we see no hope of any considerable diminution of the number of discharged prisoners, for whom there is not the outlet of transporta- tion, and as for the over-use "of Reformatories, it seems to us to be a consequence of the system hardly preventi- ble. The more successful indeed the Reformatories are. the greater will be the temptation to seek their advan- tages by means counter to the object. If they get to be considered gratuitous schools of religious, moral, and rudimental instruction, it is to be supposed that parents will not put their children in the way of obtaining so excellent an education at the public cost? But will they do evil that good may come of it ? This is a ques- tion which people of the class concerned are not very wont to raise, and which, if raised, they generally answer in the direction of their wishes, by underrating the present evil and exaggerating the future good. Let the boy break the law now, and he will be made what he ought to be for life afterwards, well kept and cared for in religion, morals, health, and what not, and all for little or nothing." Such is too apt to be the fond parent's reason- ing, offence being the eligibility for these places of training. Saeing that more than half the inmates of Reformatories are committed for first' and very petty offences, Mr. Turner proposes to refuse admission to children on the first commitment. The words he uses are of vast significance, and convey an argument in themselves—" to refuse admission! But will they be refused admission if admission, as implied, be so desirable? If a first committtal will not qualfy will ther-t be any difficulty in obtaining a second committal with its ad- Vantages ? The door turns compliantly on the hinge of crime. There is soine contradiction between Mr. Turner's statement that the majority of offences are very petty, and that the sentences are pass,d more in reference to the child's circumstances and temptations than to the degree of guilt, for this very explanation would show that the sentences are mitigated by considerations that do not enter into the view of justice. But, however that may be, make heavier offences or a second, com- mittal the condition of admission to the Reformatory, and the heavier offences or second committal will full surely be forthcoming if the cheap school of virtuous training be deemed desirable.-Examiner. COTTOJT PROSPECTS —The public speculations OR "substitutes for cotton" are in great measure vitiated by one universalerror; they omit to take into account that the American cotton supply is not annihilated, but only suspended, and may at any moment rush in upon the market, and, therefore, they fail to recognise the first and most essential requisite of any really adequate substitute, that it should be able to maintain its ground fairly. both in quality and price against the American cotton, if that should suddenly be restored to us.' Now the importance of this condition cannot be ever-estimated, for it limits necessarily the use of substitutes even while the bleckade lasts. No man can afford to buy, in large quantities, a supply of material which may at any moment be rendered nearly unsaleable, ot, at all events, unsaleable at any remunerative prices, by the return of the old material into our markets, We should all be, for the time, in a far better position if the supply of American corton were not mereiv suspended but destroy ed. Cotton is ll) neces- sary of life; and if we colld not get all we want, we should put up very quietly with costlier or harsher mate- rials. Linen would always cost mere, no doubt.; and jute, if it can be used, would no- be,- so pleasant to wear; but still mankind would be either a little more frugal or a little less comfortable; cotton would rise somewhat in price; coarser and finer materials would to some extent Superseded; and all would soon go on very comfortably if this ambuscade, as we may call it, of the American cotton did not threaten with immediate and heavy loss all who chose to ignore its possible return to life, by buying materials Which could only be manufactured at a profit so long as this cotton remains in suspended animation and beyond the reach of commercial activity. Hence the one great Requisite of any efficient substitute for the American cotton—so long as the American cotton culture itself is not finalty annihilated-ic, that it shall be as good in quality, as cheap in price, and as unlimited in ¿quauchy,- as the yield of the American cotton fields themselves. 60 long as this is not the case, so long as any substantial disadvantage, relatively to the American cotton, remains, SO long manufacturers will buy and manufacture only at a great risk of sudden Joss and that they cannot buy largely and employ their*workmen fearlessly under such a permanent risk, is obvious enough. Now, bearing this .first principle in mind, let us ask whether any of the Suggested substitutes for cotton have any chance ef real success ? We fear, as yet, no chance. They may, some of them, alleviate the pressure of the moment, and supply a few hours' occupation per week for the Lancashire mills over and above what the Indian and other Eastern cotton supplies; but we fear they are not likely to be Used, except very sparingly, and very cautiously, simply because the fabrics woven sfrom them are likely to prove a heavy loss whenever the American reserve comes into action. In the first place, as to Mr. Harben's zostera anarina, we fear that all the practical conditions of the problem are entirely unexplored. That the fibre is good enough is very likely; there are, probably, few vegetable substances in nature which do not yield some more or less Useful fibre of this kind and tbia doubtless yields a more than usual supply of better than usual quality, though China grass seems to be its equal or superior in every way. But this granted, we have got little if any nearer to the practical solution of the question! Cotton once picked merely wants cleaning to be ready for use. The fibre of the zostera marina is enveleped in a sheath, which has to be stripped off-apparently by chemical means,—before it is in any state for manu- facture. How is this process to be done on a large scale ? At what cost can it be done? Will it leave the fibre uninjured? Will the fibre e@ produced be either as good as cotton, or, if not as good, yet so much cheaper that the difference in price would compensate the difference in quality.? What would be the length of the fabre ? Would it need cutting to fit it for the cotton machinery, and if so, could the additional process be performed without unduly increasing the cost ? All these are questions which Mr. Harben had absolutely left uncon- sidered, yet they are of the very essence of the problem. There are plenty of substitutes for cotton at a somewhat greater cost- -and the cost depends on the cost of pre- paration quite as much, of course, as the cost of pro- duction. If the zostera marina, be ever eo plentiful, and could really yjeld some 5,000 or 3,000 tons per week throughout the year-for that is, in fact, about our con- sumption of American cotton—and of this no proof at all has been adduced-could it be prepared so as to be fit for use at 3d. or even 4d. per lb., and would it then be as good as cotton at that price ? If not-and positively no presumption even has been afforded that it weuld fulfil any of these conditions— it will not solve the Lancashire problem.—Spectator. THE CONVICTED FORGER,- William Roupell has at length assumed the garb of a convict. The one continued mistake of his life- his desperate resolve to stop at no half measures of gui -It-his unprecedented forgeiies, have relentlessly reduced him from a high and envied position to a level with the lowest criminals who ever appeared in the dock of the Old Bailey. The reputed millionaire and ex-member for Lambeth may now, at his leisure, contemplate the slippery path by which his rapid descent Was made from the world of fashion to the convict gaol. It is quite possible, however, that the skilful forger of his father's will may find employment suitable to his peculiar talents in the new antipodean world to which he Will shortly be transported. Redpath has already dis- tinguished himself by a proposal to establish a savings bank, of which, of course, he himself was to be the cashier. There are some hopes yet remaining for the man who with words of philanthropy on his lips could, onblushingty, and with a hypocritical regard for others' welfare, make a suggestion so strongly calculated to re- call the series of gigantic embezzlements for which he became a d nizen in the Southern Hemisphere. Robson, too, has been displaying his well-known predilection for horseflesh and the appropriation of other people's property. When at the Crystal Palace it was his boast that in his own carriage, drawn by two splendid animals, he could beat the tram from London to Sydenham by a minute. Somehow or other, although a convict, he was enabled to hire horses even in Australia to indulge in the luxury of fast driving or furious riding but having one day forgoiten to return the horse, or having workel himself into the delusion that the animal was his own Property, he sold it, and thereby incurred the withdrawal of his ticket of leave. In a few years, or perhaps even in less time, the convict, who on Wednesday last so gracefully completed the absorbing criminal drama in ^hich he has been so long engaged, may also be at uberty with a local ticket of leave, and in a letter to the governor of the colony may probably pro-' pose some ingenious plan for the detection _of forged documents, and the better security "of intending puchasers of landed estates. The convict's doom is deemed not only a disgraceful but a horrible one. Tied to a chain, and working laboriously like a galley- slave, is the popular idea of such a destiny. Different, however, is the result. Like Robson and Redpath, the ex-member for Lambeth will doubtless soon approve himself a useful member of Convictdom, and find him- self comfortably ensconced in an office where the work is the reverse of galling, and anxiety of mind and care are unknown. Passive remorse may possibly still find a place in the mind of a man who bai given himself up to repentance. The very desire so obtrusively displayed in his extraordinary speech at the Central Criminal Conrt, that the public may be induced to believe that he has deli- berately and absolutely sacrificed himself to atone for his guilt will no doubt assist him greatly among the charita- bly disposed in bis new sphere oflabour, in obtaining that relief which will be so congenial to a man of education and refinement. We have no wish to refuse him all the credit that can be properly his due for the efforts which he declares he has made to satisfy injured justice. But after a full consideration of his speech, wha.t does it amount to ? Simply, that he submits ta his fate unmur- muringly, and that no one can understand him. He claims all the guilt as his own—though he is full of I apologies for having given way to temptation—and declines to appeal for mercy. If, however, the repent- ance of William Rouped be sincere, there is still a paradox which it remains in his power to explain. He declares that he was never personally extravagant, that he never gambled, and that he was not a libertine. The vast sums which he continued to get rid of did not go in any of those easy and disreputable ways in which fast men manage to make ducks and drakes of large fortunes. There were no race-horses and expensive stable; to keep up-no private establishments of a most recherche and elegant description to maintain—no faultless and un- surpassed dinners were habitually given. Then, how did tne hundreds of thousands of money go? To whom, and what for? A friend is spoken of. Is it possible that the individual for whom the convict sold liis soul, to be so ill-requited afterwards, is yet in the background gorged with plunder? Would the memoirs clear up that question ?—The Press.

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