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count of the former voyage deferred, in order that both might appear together before the public, faithfully, in an associated view.
The success which happily attended the measures employed in the Neptune, was sufficiently encouraging to induce me to give a full trial how far a similar system might avail with the females, under such modifications as a regard to their sex, and attention to occasional circumstances, might render necessary. For several
years my thoughts had been directed to every investigation that could contribute to the stock of information previously acquired, and consequently assist in the development of vicious principle in some of its most powerful and mischievous ramifications, to be enabled thus possibly to trace it step by step to its primary source. The results of some of these inquiries appeared to me important; and I thought their connexion with the present subject so close, that its interest would be lessened had they all been suppressed. These considerations have led to discussions which at first sight may seem extraneous or irrelevant, such as Seduction, &c.; but I hope, on reflection, the present arrangement will not be found objectionable.
I had been very early in life impressed with the conviction that the bountiful hand of the Creator implants in the mind of man the seeds of virtue, which seldom totally perish during his lifetime, although they may remain long unproductive: an experience of the world more than commonly extensive, perhaps, has every
day tended to confirm the justness of that conviction. This position I have always considered as involving a question of the first interest to society, whether it be taken in a moral, political, or philosophical point of view; and I hope it is not arrogating too much to say, that the opportunities I have had, opportunities not unimproved, of inaking observations, give me a claim to form an opinion not wholly without authority. In the authenticity of the sources whence my
information has been derived, and the identity of facts as occurring in real life, thus following with the observations from actual experience, the peculiar merit of the following pages consists, if indeed any merit shall be allowed them. It would afford but little interest to know the difficulties by which I was surrounded, and the many distressing feelings by which I was harassed, during the composition. I may, how
, ever, obtain some indulgence from the liberal-minded, by stating, as I can with great truth, that
time was almost incessantly occupied in attendance to professional duties and the avocations of superintendence, with many intervening hours of painful indisposition, and other unavoidable circumstances, during the voyage, by which my thoughts were distracted and attention diverted. The baste with which I was often obliged to write, or lose the impressions of the occasion, leaves me little hope but that incorrectness of style, with rough and inartificial periods, will be exposed occasionally. I beg, however, that it may be distinctly understood, that my opinions have, at least, not been formed from crude, superficial, or transient observation ; but, on the contrary, are grounded on due application of patient reflection and laborious determination.
Although it may appear that advantage has been taken of the thoughts of some eminent authors, yet it can by no means be admitted that the present work is the offspring of a library. Any one acquainted with the space allotted for the Surgeon's use in a small convict ship, must know the impossibility of having books of reference always at hand; and even had this want not existed, my time would not allow of consulting them. Many of the quotations are from memory,—some, indeed, of very distant recollection. I am sensible that critical vigilance may find abundant materials for animadversion : nor do I wish that the reader should glance superficially over it; on the contrary, a hope is indulged, that the candid critic will examine its principles minutely, and point out its The frequent mention made of myself
, and the introduction of letters written by the convicts of whom I had charge, will incur, perhaps too justly, the imputation of vanity and egotism ;—the coarseness of description necessarily used in the sketches made of crime from actual observation, may be censured as improper in a work addressed to a lady ;—and the journal will exhibit numerous instances of repetition of the subject : of these objections I was fully aware at the time of writing, but found them unavoidable. I had pledged myself to record facts exactly as they
occurred, without decoration or disguise; and in no instance has truth been sacrificed to courtesy or private feeling.
To promote the happiness both temporal and eternal of an unfortunate portion of the community,—a class too long neglected,—is my only aim. In the management of convicts I am not wedded to any particular system ; I have described that which at present appears to me preferable, and I believe I may fairly consider it my own, no other, so far as I know, having been proposed or acted on before: but if any one will bring forward a better, so far from regarding him with an eye of jealousy as a rival, I shall hail him as a fellow-labourer, a benefactor, and a friend.
Without further trespassing on the reader's patience, the following sheets are now submitted, with all due deference, to public revision. My object is to excite inquiry, and draw to the subject the attention of those who can command the means of redressing the evils pointed out, a task which every good man, surely, will consider of vital importance to the morals and happiness of the community. Animated with a wish only to be useful in the humble station in which it has pleased Providence to place me, I shall thankfully acknowledge such improvements as the more extended experience of the benevolent, intelligent, and liberal may
henceforth enable them to communicate.
Vigo Lane, Dec. 1821.