« ForrigeFortsæt »
come acquainted, on undertaking the education of one of his sons.
It would be unjust to the well-known sentiments and feelings of Mr. Wakefield, did we forbear to acknowledge his obligations to this gentleman, who, besides his kind liberality to him before his removal to Dorchester, expressed his regard by various accommodations, continued through the whole term of our friend's imprisonment.
Mr. Wakefield's Application in Behalf of the Prisoners
Observations on the Regulations of the Prison, &c. from his miscellaneous Papers.
MR. WAKEFIELD remained a few days at Dorchester, to pay his respects to those friends from whom he had received so many civilities. He also made an attempt to serve the cause of humanity, which, if it appeared at first to fail, was perhaps, eventually, not quite unsuccessful.
The happiness which he experienced on returning to the bosom of his family, did not withdraw his thoughts from the misery of those whom he had left behind, in the gaol. He immediately made an application to the superintending magistrates in behalf of the prisoners.
In this appeal, conscious of the integrity of his motives for undertaking so invidious a task, he fearlessly stated grievances and abuses, of which he reasonably supposed the magis
trates to be ignorant, but which had come under his own observation, or had been confirmed to him by the frequent and united testimony of the prisoners themselves.
These grievances and abuses, of which his knowledge was not derived from personal observation, were stated to him by a large number of the sufferers, and the communication was quite of their own accord. For Mr. Wakefield, to avoid giving the slightest ground of mistrust and jealousy to the magistrates, was religiously scrupulous never, in any instance, to suggest motives of discontent, or dissatisfaction to the prisoners.
The reason why his manly efforts were now unsuccessful may be easily discovered. The prisoners themselves, still subjected to the will of those whom they had accused, were his only witnesses. Such persons, from whom nothing of the spirit of martyrdom could be expected, not unnaturally, declined to substantiate before the magistrates those representations of their treatment, with which they had interested Mr. Wakefield in their behalf.
By an extract of a letter from a gentleman in that neighbourhood, written some time after our friend's death, we are enabled to shew the impression which his conduct left on the mind of a highly respectable
an eye-witness of the whole transaction, whose name, for obvious reasons, we do not feel ourselves at liberty to bring forward.
" There was one part of Mr. Wakefield's conduct,” he remarks,“ which impressed my mind strongly with an idea of the greatness of his character, and which manifested clearly a mind above every selfish consideration; fully determined to do that which appeared to him to be his duty, without regarding the calumny which he knew his conduct would furnish his! enemies with an opportunity of casting on his motives : I mean, his application to the magistrates of the county in behalf of the prisoners, immediately on his leaving the prison.
“ He entered the lists alone, in the face of the gaoler, his son, and the leading men of the county. His only witnesses were the prisoners themselves, who, from motives of fear, would not substantiate those grievances of which they had previously complained. However, he obtained the end by stirring up the gentlemen of the county to a greater attention, and thus in soịne measure promoting the comfort of the prisoners.
“What had previously passed between the gaoler and our friend being well known, such conduct would be easily imputed to revenge,
and the idea of such an imputation would have deterred many good men from the arduous undertaking. But nothing could damp the ardour, or stifle the zeal of this champion in the cause of humanity.”
It appears from an examination of Mr. Wakefield's miscellaneous papers, which consist, in a great measure, of mere hints to assist his memory, that he designed to give a large account of the defects in the management of prisons, and the treatment of prisoners, grounded upon the observations he had made during his abode in Dorchester Gaol. Among these
papers, is a rough sketch of an intended introduction to such an account, in which he thus expresses himself:
“ As I regard my late prosecution as eventually proving a signal blessing to myself in various respects, in the confirmation of
my sentiments, the melioration of my heart, and the improvement of my fortune: so my experience, I hope, has enabled me to benefit the community, by pointing out the calamities, which oppress a numerous and unhappy class of our fellow-subjects.
- All that I have written as of my own knowledge, Simplicity has dictated, Truth and Candour have presided over it, and Conscience