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enly Father." The only effect of such instruction upon the mind of a child, that reflects at all, must be to darken and confound. And it seems to us, that the extreme difficulty, rather we should say the impossibility, of giving under this system, at that important age, any clear or satisfactory views as to the object of worship, affords in itself no slight previous indication, that it cannot be a part of that Gospel, one grand end of which is to instruct the ignorant, and to guide the young to God. How much more simple, how much more affecting, the instruction of our Saviour himself—"This is life eternal: to know THEE the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
Neither can we regard the doctrine of inherent, total depravily, to which frequent reference is made in this work, as in any view a proper principle in a system of education. Not only because in our apprehension it is unsupported by scripture, but because even supposing its truth, it can never on this subject be applied to any useful practical purpose. For let a parent's speculative views be what they may, and his professions of them sincere as they ought, we are persuaded that he never will, that he never can, look upon his infant child as a being totally depraved; or commence his work of instruction, as if he had nothing to do but to root out corruption. This dogma might enter into his theological creed, and darken his views of mankind in general; but the common sensibilities of his nature would be perpetually opposing its influence within the circle of his family. With something less of theoretic devotion to a system, he might admit,-what personal experience and observation no less than the word of God most clearly teach, the great deceitfulness of the human heart,the wayward propensities of our nature to sin, and the infinite danger, to which virtue is exposed from the maxims, habits, and examples of an evil world: and convictions, like these, scriptural and rational as they are, would be more than sufficient to supply the necessary rules and cautions; and would excite to parental vigilance with far happier effect, than the gloomy, discouraging sentiment, which our author supposes.
For ourselves we look upon religious education as eminently a means of grace; one of the earliest, most important and efficacious ordinances of heaven, to form, direct and elevate human character. Its principles therefore should be simple and easily understood, the dictates of reason and experience, and above all, the clear instructions of God's word. They should exhibit such views of the Deity as are most encouraging and attractive. Nor will it be difficult at that susceptible age, to impress the most important truths of religion. The child can early be taught
his relation to and dependence upon his heavenly Father. He can soon learn to reverence and love Him as the great Being, who forms, sustains, and blesses all; who brought him into life, who rocked the cradle of his infancy, and to whom he owes his health, and friends, and every thing he enjoys. By very simple, yet touching instruction he can be taught, that all, which he sees about him, of the glory and beauty of creation in heaven, earth, air, and sea, is the work of God-and thence he will be led to adore.
But we may extend early religious instruction much farther than this; for as Christians we possess a system of religion admirably suited by its simplicity and purity to affect and form the infant mind. When separated from the errors and corruptions of man, with a sublimity and energy all its own, it approves itself at once to the contemplation of the philosopher and to the feelings of a child. Besides the paternal views it opens of the character of God, of his mild and benevolent government, of his unfailing bounty, and of his universal, unintermitted care; besides the awakening and salutary truth it enforces, of his all pervading presence, and of his heart-searching eye, it exhibits in the person and example of Jesus Christ an object peculiarly suited to attract and delight even the youngest mind. And it seems to us, that there is nothing, in which the moral grandeur and sublimity of his character were more apparent, than in its adaptation to the conceptions of children. It would seem, as if he had softened for them the splendour of his perfections, that he might win and engage their hearts. His gentleness, his meekness, his simplicity and truth, his tenderness and love, are precisely the qualities, which render their period of life the most engaging; and by an affectionate and judicious parent may be exhibited with an admirable influence, as the model of their imitation. Here is the grand advantage of Christian education, that in its perfect morality it prescribes no precept, without furnishing at the same time a most alluring example.
But we do not mean to enlarge. We hope that the republication of this little work may be useful in exciting increased attention to one of the most important of all objects. There are parents, who anxiously think of every thing for their children, but how they shall form their characters and prepare them for an immortal life. To such we earnestly recommend the pious and faithful zeal of this exemplary father. convince them, that there are considerations, infinitely more valuable than the present comfort and prosperity of their offspring; but they will better learn for themselves in the pages of the New-Testament, the doctrines they must teach, and the pure spirit of that religion, which they must labour to infuse.
Observations on Penal Jurisprudence and the Reformation of the Criminal code; with an Appendix, containing the latest Reports of the State Prisons or Penitentiaries of Philadelphia, New-York, and Massachusetts, and other Documents. By WILLIAM ROSCOE, Esq. 8vo. London. 1819.
THE Contents of this volume, as they are the result of real philanthropy, address themselves forcibly to all the benevolent, who, to the common compassionate regard for the wretched, unite a willingness to aid, by their individual exertions or influence, all endeavours to relieve the suffering, to reclaim the guilty, or to invigorate generally the moral principle among men. They are particularly suited to awaken a strong interest in those, who have at heart a feeling for the purity and peace, and, if we may so speak, the integrity of our society in its progress to refinement.—It is not confined to the philosopher, to know that, as society advances, crimes multiply faster than virtues; and those who are happiest in the consciousness of the comparatively unsullied character of our society at this day, of our present youthful innocence, are perhaps the saddest as they contemplate the moral changes, that await a manhood of power consolidated and immense, and an old age weakened by wealth and corrupted by luxury.
To extirpate moral evil, is among the dreams of the visionary. To apportion with a discriminating regard to the subjects of it, punishment to crime,-by chastisement or restraint to subdue or soften the obduracy of the vicious; by a wholesome discipline to chasten and control the wayward; in short, so to lay the sanctions of the law, that by every form of penal application the delinquent shall feel himself rather drawn to penitence than driven to despair,-is among the noblest aims of the legislator and philanthropist.
The main object of the work before us seems to be in aid of the glorious attempt of Howard-to interest public feeling and enlighten public opinion, by presenting views of the various systems in operation on the European Continent, in England and our own country,and by stating their defects and advantages, to suggest the necessity and means of changing some and improving others. The tendency of all the reasoning in the book (except that upon some isolated questions, such as the abolition of punishment by death, and others, all of too wide a scope to admit of hasty discussion by him or us) is such, to be sure, as discovers a little of the systematizing spirit, and would go to
substitute a Penitentiary for all the forms of punishment, coercion or restraint, as the grand corrective of all crime-from guilt of the deepest die, to delinquencies which fault and folly have barely tinged.
Though our readers may not coincide with all the arguments, however plainly they proceed from a feeling heart and an intelligent mind, yet the facts communicated and considerations offered in this volume to those who would "do good with knowledge," entitle it to much attention. There are some particular considerations which make it of unusual importance to us on this side the water. Our population is not only swelling beyond parallel, but of the thousands flowing in upon us from under the operation of different and various laws, very many will probably be rightly adjudged to tenant for a time, and crowd our prisons. The question then becomes an important oneHow shall their punishment be made productive of good to themselves and the community? Mr. Roscoe labours solely to answer this question. Both his general arguments,-we mean those founded on the nature and effects of punishment,—and his inductive reasoning from the many valuable facts with which his book,is stored as to the existing varieties of prison discipline as well as the codes of penal law, unite in support of a Penitentiary as best suited to answer the ends of all punishment. First as respects the individual, to soften the mind and not harden the heart, and secondly as regards the community, to turn the labours of the imprisoned to the public account; and at the same time bold out to the transgressor the opportunity of amendment, and furnish him with motives to reform. We cannot, in a notice which is intended only to invite attention to an important subject, begin with a statement of Mr. Roscoe's sentiments and doctrines in the several departments of Penal Jurisprudence, and lead our readers after him through the chief prisons of almost every state and metropolis in Europe; giving next a full account of the prisons, prison-discipline, and penal laws of England; then crossing the water, and entering into a minute history of the State Penitentiaries and Prisons in our own country, describing and accounting for their original success and subsequent decline of usefulness; then discussing the best mode of Penitentiary discipline, and closing with a large and full appendix, stored with documents and facts, all going to substantiate the positions and confirm the reasonings of the author. Much less shall we attempt to answer all the arguments (many of which we hold to be exceedingly fallacious and ungrounded) which he has ingeniously enough arrayed to beat down established doctrines, that are at war with his Penitentiary project, and to New Series-vol. I
establish his point. We shall however enter a little more into a detail of the contents of this book, and notice some of the author's peculiarities of sentiment; and shall give some extracts, which may very probably furnish a better knowledge of the work, than any general statements of ours on the subject of which it treats.
Mr. Roscoe begins with discussing the motives and end of Punishment; and as his whole system hinges on his peculiar sentiments here, which, as expressed, we think, are without sufficient qualification, we shall give what we deem the essence of the doctrine.
"Instead of connecting the ideas of crime and punishment, we ought to place together the ideas of crime and reformation—considering Punishment as only one of the modes for effecting such reformation."
"It requires but a very slight acquaintance either with the principles of human nature, or the history of civil society to be convinced, that punishment, simply and in itself, has never been found a sufficient preservative against the commission of crime. The first impulse of the mind upon the infliction of pain by way of punishment is not contrition, but resentment; a hardening of heart, not only against those who inflict it, but against the rest of the world; and too often, it is to be feared, a resolution to balance the account, as soon as possible, by a repetition of the same, or a commission of a greater offence. Hence, it has been shown by the experience of all ages, that as punishments have increased in severity, crimes have been multiplied. It is only by the calm exercise of reason, by removing the inducement, or correcting the disposition to crimes, or by taking a sincere interest in the welfare of the offender, and convincing him, that the evils he experiences are the unavoidable consequences of his own misconduct, and are inflicted upon him for his own good, that we can expect any beneficial effect. Upon the practicability of this is founded the great plan of modern improvement, called the Penitentiary System, the advantages of which are every day becoming more apparent, and which, when perfected by experience, cannot fail to produce the most important and happiest results on the moral character and condition of mankind." p. 10.
By the reformation of which he speaks, he means that of the individual criminal-thus laying too entirely out of the idea of punishment, its terrifying effects on all who are not within the immediate grasp of offended Law. Though we are aware that this doctrine of his is occasionally qualified a little in this work, -yet we are forced to confess, and we do it once for all, that the whole tenor of his reasoning, and the effects of his proposed improvements have too exclusive a tendency to ameliorate the condition and improve the characters of those, whose guilt has subjected them to punishment, and too remote and weak an influence in the prevention of crime. So long as the fears of men shall be among the prime regulators of action, so long must punishment, if we would not surrender the peace of society, have something more in view than the mere reformation of the offender.