14 SEPTEMBER 1850, Page 13


Parkhurst Prison have tried to set fire to the building. Their perseverance in arson certainly does not say much for the reformatory process. It is not repentance, but con- flagration, that is the final result of the discipline. The system literally ends in smoke. These practical results rather justify the dread with which the neighbours of Redhill viewed the arrival of theyOong convict colony, than the apology of those who argued against the forebodings. If the disciples are inclined to such frolics under the very nose of vigilant authority, what would have been the result of an extensive importation into the Cape of Good Hope or the wide Australian settlements ?

To judge of the pudding by its eating, we incline to surmise i

that there must be some defect n the method of discipline adopted at Parkhurst. Captain Maconochie was declared, by some exacting official, to have failed, becauie after his departure the convicts in Norfolk Island reverted to their depravities; but when all its said against him, it does appear that he acquired an effective control over even the most hardened of criminals : in Parkhurst, so favoured officially, the managers still remaining cannot keep the lads in order.

These repeated attempts challenge a full and searching inquiry. It Will not satisfy the public if it extend only to the " conduct* of the officers, especially if they be acquitted. The system and its practical effects must be revised. It will not do to presume that the system, being of a " religious " kind, is one which ought to succeed : the question is, whether it does succeed or not. Appear- ances are against it, and the public will expect to know the truth, without official reserve or dogmatic disguise. Do not let US know what ought to be the effect of the preaching method according to the anticipation of its advisers, but what is the effect as exhibited in the behaviour of those who are subject to it.