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THREE ROWS OF KIDNEY BEANS.
ONE ROW OF CABBACES.
THERE ARE 70 GOOSEBERRY BUSHES ROUND THIS PLOT—
TWO FEET OF FLOWERS ALONC THE TOP.
ONE ROW OF BROAD BEANS.
SEVEN FEET OF CARROTS.
FOUR FEET OF ONIONS.
| CARROTS. | ONIONS.
FIVE ROWS OF LETTUCES.
SIX ROWS OF CABBAGES.
FIVE ROWS OF PEAS.
ONE ROW OF ONIONS.
FOUR FEET OF ONIONS.
FOUR ROWS OF PEAS.
FOUR ROWS OF CARBAGES.
FOUR FEET OF TURNIPS.
FIVE ROWS OF POTATOES.
I LETTUCE- I I
| SEED. | °NIONS- |
THREE ROWS OF KIDNEY BEANS.
FIVE ROWS OF BROAD BEANS.
FIVE ROWS OF CABBAGES.
TURNIPS. | ONIONS.
SIX ROWS OF POTATOES.
FOUR ROWS OF CABBAGES.
FOUR FRUIT TREES, GOOSEBERRIES, &C."
In France, as already mentioned, children who commit acts of vagrancy or crime are usually consigned for a certain number of years to prison for moral rectification. Latterly, asylums for reclaiming youth have been established in various departments of that country; and to give an idea of their character, I offer the following account of a visit which I made to Mettray in the summer of 1844.
VISIT TO METTRAY.
Mettray is situated within a few miles of Tours, in the midst of a pleasant and fertile district of country. The founder of the Colonie Agricole de Mettray, as it is properly styled, is an enthusiastic philanthropist, who, animated by what he had seen of a rural penitentiary for youth at Horn, near Hamburg, returned to France, and commenced operations along with his friend, the Viscount Bretigneres de Courteilles, on the estate of the latter gentleman. The project, after receiving the countenance and pecuniary assistance of a society formed on purpose to encourage it, was begun in 1839, since which time the establishment at Mettray has been gradually increasing in importance, and may now be said to be in as prosperous a condition as couid reasonably be expected. I do not know any institution in England -with which to compare Mettray. It is not a place of voluntary retreat, like a house of refuge, hecause young criminals are sent to it by courts of justice; neither is it a prison, for it has no bolts, bars, or environing walls, and is, to all appearance, a singularly neat and orderly cluster of rustic cottages and mansions, in the midst of gardens, playgrounds, and fields. Arriving at the gateway where strangers are set down, the party of -which I made one were shortly waited upon by one of the resident directors, a venerable gentleman in an ample blue surtout, and a long white beard. By this courteous old person we were obligingly conducted over the establishment, beginning with the dormitories, the workshops, the school-room, and the chapel, and ending with the infirmary, the kitchen, and the general sale depot of manufactured articles. Explanations of the discipline and mecanique were given as we went from point to point, and various pamphlets were put into my hands, which are now lying before me, and at the service of any one who would wish to imitate the good deeds of the founders of Mettray.
In organising the institution, it has been a leading- and judicious principle to imitate, as nearly as possible, the plan of parental supervision. All the inmates are divided into families of forty boys, each family under the general charge of a chief. Under this functionary are two eontre-maitres, each having the special direction of a section of twenty boys. These eontremaitres are assisted by two lads, chosen by the prisoners from among themselves under certain regulations, and whose duties last for a month. The title given to these assistants is frire aini, or elder brother; and it is an object of ambition to be considered worthy of such an appointment. The houses, ranged along two sides of a spacious garden, are individually adapted for the accommodation of a family. On the ground-floor is the workshop, with a shed outside for receiving implements of field labour. The upper part of the house consists of two floors, each containing twenty hammocks, and also bed-closets for the superintendents. The lower of these sleeping-rooms being cleared during the day by slinging aside the hammocks, is used as a refectory for the whole forty boys. At night, the dormitories being kept lighted, are under the surveillance of the eontremaitres and chiefs, who, by apertures in their respective closets, can watch the movements of their charges without being themselves seen. I see, by one of the printed reports, that the cost of each house, including furniture, amounts to 8300 francs, or £332, and that the annual rent per boy is under ten francs. In some instances the houses have been free gifts of wealthy donors, from motives of piety or benevolence. In one case a father has built a house in memory of a beloved daughter—a fine trait, I think, of paternal feeling. One of the royal princesses has also contributed a house to the establishment, which is patronised by the first families in France. Having viewed the houses and workshops of shoemakers, carpenters, tailors, harness-makers, and blacksmiths, we were taken into the large school-room, where, at certain hours, instruction is given of an elementary kind, including the inculcation of religious and moral precepts. The chapel adjoining is a neat, though plain structure, and suited for the Roman Catholic form of worship; all other sects being excluded from the establishment, in order, as it is alleged, to prevent discussion and the growth of antipathies among the inmates—a poor apology, it will be considered, for limiting the charity to the members of one form of faith. In the infirmary, an airy suite of apartments, we found only a single patient. This department is under the management of three females; and, need I sayr, they are Sisters of Charity? The cleanliness, order, and tastefulness of this and other parts of the establishment charmed us, and, to mark our general approval, we purchased a variety of articles at the depot.
During our perambulations over the grounds, we had occasion to see parties of the inmates at work in the fields. With a dress mostly of coarse linen, straw-hats, bare legs, and clumsy wooden shoes, they cut a miserable figure, and a more ill-looking set of swarthy boys and lads could scarcely be pictured. The dress of the contre-maitres at the heads of their divisions was a little tetter, but also of linen; they appeared to exert a firm control over their gangs or families, and are, as I was informed, a respectable class of young men, who, by their training here, are well fitted for taking the command of similar establishments elsewhere. The number of inmates or prisoners in the colony at the time of my visit was one hundred and ninety.
To understand the principle of seclusion at Mettray, it must be recollected that there is a law in France which sweeps the country of juvenile offenders. Every boy or girl under sixteen years of age, convicted of a crime, is considered guilty without discernment, and if not claimed by parents, is retained in prison tilL twenty years of age. This partly accounts for the vast number of juvenile detenus which I saw in various quarters; but there is another cause. Many children are abandoned and thrown upon the public in a very heartless way, and being seized by gens-d'armes wherever they may wander, they help Materially to fill asylums and prisons. I was informed that such abandonment of children is frequently a result of second Marriages—the man who marries a widow with children turning the whole into the streets. I do not remember having ever heard of any such barbarity in England, ill as step-children are sometimes treated. Mettray has received inmates, or colonists, as they are termed, from many of the principal prisons, where they have been selected from the mass for general good conduct, or other favourable circumstances, and also increased its numbers oy taking boys abandoned by nurses or parents, or who are houseless and vagrant orphans.
The great object entertained by the founders and conductors of Mettray, is thoroughly to discipline and purify minds tainted with crime, or affected by unsettled habits; and, by instruction in different kinds of labour, strictly suitable for rural districts, put the unfortunate inmates in the way of earning an honest livelihood on dismissal. The question arises, Will the projectors succeed in their benevolent intentions 1 According to their own account, everything promises well for the institution. The boys are no doubt exposed to the most beneficial influences, and if anything can reclaim from incipient wickedness, this must do it. Still the formidable difficulty remains, of establishing the reclaimed youths in respectable situations throughout the country after leaving the colony. As the number is not great, this may be accomplished by dint of friendly interposition; but that aa annual dispersion of some thousands could be effected—supposing France to be provided with such a colony in every department— is, I fear, not among things possible, unless the army were employed as a regular means of consumption. On the score of relieving the prisons, government pays, I believe, 160 francs for each convict annually; and as the produce of the labour greatly aids the voluntary contributions, the financial part of the scheme is encouraging. How far a colony of such a mixed character could be made to answer in England, is doubtful. The boys of Mettray do not run away, which, to an Englishman, seems very incomprehensible. But there are powerful reasons for this apparent self-denial. Independently of French, and, indeed, continental boys generally, being a poor-spirited set of urchins, without that love of adventure which is a mainspring of juvenile delinquency in this country, and is, in fact, a mainspring of all our greatness as a nation, it would be almost impossible for a colonist to abscond undetected. Were he to attempt such a freak, a gendarme would pick him up at the first town in which he set his foot, and he would be sent to prison in disgrace. Besides, no money is given to the colonists; the overplus of certain gains being carried to their account in the savings' bank of the establishment.
On the whote, the impressions made on my mind from a visit to Mettray were of an agreeable kind, and I felt assured it was, morally speaking, prodigiously in advance of prisons of all sorts, and would not unlikely form a model for further and perhaps still more favourable experiments in juvenile reclamation.
It would have been easy for me to have extended the present tract to the compass of a volume; for the subject is one of the most important of the day, and admits of much varied illustration. Enough, however, has been said to prove the necessity for, and value of, Schools of Industry, both as regards the prevention of crime, and the reclaiming of the young from vicious habits.
THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS FAMILY.
1 EARLY four hundred years ago, there was, at a short % \ distance from the city of Antwerp, a blacksmith's -} cottage. It was not much better than a hut—lowP roofed, mud-walled, and consisting of only one room. j It was situated a little aloof from the high road, in one of „, those solitary nooks which are so often found, when least Fyj suspected, in the neighbourhood of large cities. Only at C times there came through the distance the faint hum of a -populous town, and the high spires of the renowned cathedral stood out in bold relief against the sky, which was of that pale bluish gray peculiar to an October evening, when the brilliant autunm sunsets are in some degree gone by.
The blacksmith's wife sat spinning by the half-open door of her humble dwelling. She was a woman of middle age; her face was of that peculiar Flemish cast which the Dutch painters "ave made so well known—round, fair, and rosy, with sleepy eyes of pale blue, bearing an expression of quiet content, almost amounting to apathy. A few locks of silky flaxen hair peeped from under her Flemish cap, and were smoothly laid over a rather high forehead, where, as yet, no wrinkle had intruded, kbe looked like one on whom the ills of life would fall lightly; No. 126. l