20 JANUARY 1866, Page 13


[Co THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR "3 SIR, — The frightful revelation of the morality of the Casual' Wards of our workhouses made by the correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette, will set us thinking upon more trying questions than those of the adequacy of the accommodation provided for our vagrant class. The appalling feature of the case is not that there should be some human beings in London so hopelessly demo- ralized, but that their number should be so vast as the statistics of our refuges and casual wards would make it.

The questions which seem to be pressed upon us are such as these .-

Is not philanthropy utterly incompetent to deal with the dregs or refuse of an enormous and a chaotic population ? Is there not reason to fear that the recent multiplication of refuges and the opening of unlimited casual wards may have had some effect in fostering the growth of the class of habitual vagabonds? Is it not necessary to regard this class as presumptively criminal, or to bring it under prison discipline ?

If so, it would surely be desirable to separate the nightly relief of casual vagrants from the workhouse system. The obvious course in such a case would be to establish asylums—say four or five—in different parts of London for the reception of such persons, and to place them under the control of the Metropolitan Police. The existing refuges, as well as the casual wards, might be absorbed with advantage into such an establishment.—