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Title: Elizabeth Fry
Author: Pitman, Mrs. E. R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Elizabeth Fry" ***

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+Famous Women+

ELIZABETH FRY.



_The next volumes in the Famous Women Series
will be:_

THE COUNTESS OF ALBANY. By Vernon Lee.
HARRIET MARTINEAU. By Mrs. Fenwick Miller.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. By Elizabeth Robins Pennell.


_Already published:_

GEORGE ELIOT. By Miss Blind.
EMILY BRONTË. By Miss Robinson.
GEORGE SAND. By Miss Thomas.
MARY LAMB. By Mrs. Gilchrist.
MARGARET FULLER. By Julia Ward Howe.
MARIA EDGEWORTH. By Miss Zimmern.
ELIZABETH FRY. By Mrs. E.R. Pitman.



[Illustration: Famous Women]

ELIZABETH FRY.

BY

MRS. E.R. PITMAN.


BOSTON:
ROBERTS BROTHERS.
1884.

_Copyright, 1884,_
BY ROBERTS BROTHERS.


UNIVERSITY PRESS:
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.



                        CONTENTS.


                        CHAPTER I.
                                                      PAGE.
  LIFE AT EARLHAM, A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.                   1

                        CHAPTER II.

  LIFE'S EARNEST PURPOSE.                                12

                        CHAPTER III.

  ST. MILDRED'S COURT.                                   23

                        CHAPTER IV.

  A COUNTRY HOME.                                        29

                        CHAPTER V.

  BEGINNINGS AT NEWGATE.                                 39

                        CHAPTER VI.

  NEWGATE HORRORS AND NEWGATE WORKERS.                   52

                        CHAPTER VII.

  EVIDENCE BEFORE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.                  75

                        CHAPTER VIII.

  THE GALLOWS AND ENGLISH LAWS.                          97

                        CHAPTER IX.

  CONVICT SHIPS AND CONVICT SETTLEMENTS.                112

                        CHAPTER X.

  VISITS TO CONTINENTAL PRISONS.                        131

                        CHAPTER XI.

  NEW THEORIES OF PRISON DISCIPLINE AND MANAGEMENT.     153

                        CHAPTER XII.

  MRS. FRY IN DOMESTIC AND RELIGIOUS LIFE.              182

                        CHAPTER XIII.

  COLLATERAL GOOD WORKS.                                212

                        CHAPTER XIV.

  EXPANSION OF THE PRISON ENTERPRISE--HONORS.           228

                        CHAPTER XV.

  CLOSING DAYS OF LIFE.                                 253

                        CHAPTER XVI.

  FINIS.                                                265



ELIZABETH FRY.



CHAPTER I.

LIFE AT EARLHAM, A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.


A hundred years ago, Norwich was a remarkable centre of religious,
social and intellectual life. The presence of officers, quartered with
their troops in the city, and the balls and festivities which attended
the occasional sojourn of Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester,
combined to make the quaint old city very gay; while the pronounced
element of Quakerism and the refining influences of literary society
permeated the generation of that day, and its ordinary life, to an
extent not easily conceived in these days of busy locomotion and
new-world travel. Around the institutions of the established Church had
grown up a people loyal to it, for, as an old cathedral city, the charm
of antiquity attached itself to Norwich; while Mrs. Opie and others
known to literature, exercised an attraction and stimulus in their
circles, consequent upon the possession of high intellectual powers and
good social position. It was in the midst of such surroundings, and with
a mind formed by such influences, that Elizabeth Fry, the prison
philanthropist and Quaker, grew up to young womanhood.

She was descended from Friends by both parents: her father's family had
been followers of the tenets of George Fox for more than a hundred
years; while her mother was granddaughter of Robert Barclay, the author
of the _Apology for the People called Quakers_. It might be supposed
that a daughter of Quaker families would have been trained in the
strictest adherence to their tenets; but it seems that Mr. and Mrs. John
Gurney, Elizabeth's parents, were not "plain Quakers." In other words,
they were calm, intellectual, benevolent, courteous and popular people;
not so very unlike others, save that they attended "First-day meeting,"
but differing from their co-religionists in that they abjured the strict
garb and the "thee" and "thou" of those who followed George Fox to
unfashionable lengths, whilst their children studied music and dancing.
More zealous brethren called the Gurneys "worldly," and shook their
heads over their degenerate conduct; but, all unseen, Mrs. Gurney was
training up her family in ways of usefulness and true wisdom; while
"the fear of the Lord," as the great principle of life and action, was
constantly set before them. With such a mother to mould their infant
minds and direct their childish understandings, there was not much fear
of the younger Gurneys turning out otherwise than well. Those who shook
their heads at the "worldliness" of the Gurneys, little dreamt of the
remarkable lives which were being moulded under the Gurney roof.

One or two extracts from Mrs. Gurney's diary will afford a fair insight
into her character:--

     If our piety does not appear adequate to supporting us in the
     exigencies of life, and I may add, death, surely our hearts cannot
     be sufficiently devoted to it. Books of controversy on religion are
     seldom read with profit, not even those in favor of our own
     particular tenets. The mind stands less in need of conviction than
     conversion. These reflections have led me to decide on what I most
     covet for my daughters, as the result of our daily pursuits. As
     piety is undoubtedly the shortest and securest way to all moral
     rectitude, young women should be virtuous and good on the broad,
     firm basis of Christianity; therefore it is not the tenets of any
     man or sect whatever that are to be inculcated in preference to
     those rigid but divine truths contained in the New Testament. As it
     appears to be our reasonable duty to improve our faculties, and by
     that means to render ourselves useful, it is necessary and very
     agreeable to be well-informed of our own language, and the Latin as
     being most permanent, and the French as being the most in general
     request. The simple beauties of mathematics appear to be so
     excellent an exercise to the understanding, that they ought on no
     account to be omitted, and are, perhaps, scarcely less essential
     than a competent knowledge of ancient and modern history, geography
     and chronology. To which may be added a knowledge of the most
     approved branches of natural history, and a capacity of drawing
     from nature, in order to promote that knowledge and facilitate the
     pursuit of it. As a great portion of a woman's life ought to be
     passed in at least regulating the subordinate affairs of a family,
     she should work plain work herself, neatly; understand the
     cutting-out of linen; also she should not be ignorant of the common
     proprieties of a table, or deficient in the economy of any of the
     most minute affairs of a family. It should be here observed that
     gentleness of manner is indispensably necessary in women, to say
     nothing of that polished behavior which adds a charm to every
     qualification; to both which, it appears pretty certain, children
     may be led without vanity or affectation by amiable and judicious
     instruction.

These observations furnish the key-note to Mrs. Gurney's system of
training, as well as indicate the strong common-sense and high
principles which actuated her. It was small wonder that of her family of
twelve children so many of them should rise up to "call her blessed."
Neither was it any wonder that Elizabeth, "the dove-like Betsy" of her
mother's journal, should idolize that mother with almost passionate
devotion.

Elizabeth was born on May 21st, 1780, at Norwich; but when she was a
child of six years old, the Gurneys removed to Earlham Hall, a pleasant
ancestral home, about two miles from the city. The family was an old
one, descended from the Norman lords of Gourney-en-brai, in Normandy.
These Norman lords held lands in Norfolk, in the time of William Rufus,
and have had, in one line or another, representatives down to the
present day. Some of them, it is recorded, resided in Somersetshire;
others, the ancestors of Mrs. Fry, dwelt in Norfolk, generation after
generation, perpetuating the family name and renown. One of these
ancestors, John Gurney, embraced the principles of George Fox, and
became one of the first members of the Society of Friends. Thus it came
to pass that Quakerism became familiar to her from early
childhood--indeed, was hereditary in the family.

Elizabeth tells us that her mother was most dear to her; that she seldom
left her mother's side if she could help it, while she would watch her
slumbers with breathless anxiety, fearing she would never awaken. She
also speaks of suffering much from fear, so that she could not bear to
be left alone in the dark. This nervous susceptibility followed her for
years, although, with a shyness of disposition and reserve which was but
little understood she refrained from telling her fears. She was
considered rather stupid and dull, and, from being continually
described as such, grew neglectful of her studies; while, at the same
time, delicacy of health combined with this natural stupidity to prevent
anything like precocious intelligence. Still, Elizabeth was by no means
deficient in penetration, tact, or common-sense; she possessed
remarkable insight into character, and exercised her privilege of
thinking for herself on most questions. She is described as being a shy,
fair child, possessing a poor opinion of herself, and somewhat given to
contradiction. She says in her early recollections: "I believe I had not
a name only for being obstinate, for my nature had a strong tendency
that way, and I was disposed to a spirit of contradiction, always ready
to see things a little differently from others, and not willing to yield
my sentiments to them."

These traits developed, in all probability, into those which made her so
famous in after years. Her faculty for independent investigation, her
unswerving loyalty to duty, and her fearless perseverance in works of
benevolence, were all foreshadowed in these early days. Add to these
characteristics, the religious training which Mrs. Gurney gave her
children, the daily reading of the Scriptures, and the quiet ponderings
upon the passages read, and we cannot be surprised that such a character
was built up in that Quaker home.

At twelve years of age Elizabeth lost her mother, and in consequence
suffered much from lack of wise womanly training. The talents she
possessed ripened and developed, however, until she became remarkable
for originality of thought and action; while the spirit of benevolent
enterprise which distinguished her, led her to seek out modes of
usefulness not usually practiced by girls. Her obstinacy and spirit of
contradiction became in later years gradually merged or transformed into
that decision of character, and lady-like firmness, which were so
needful to her work, so that obstacles became only incentives to
progress, and persecution furnished courage for renewed zeal. Yet all
this was tempered with tender, conscientious heart-searching into both
motives and actions.

During her "teens" she is described as being tall and slender,
peculiarly graceful in the saddle, and fond of dancing. She possessed a
pleasing countenance and manner, and grew up to enjoy the occasional
parties which she attended with her sisters. Still, from the records of
her journal, we find that at this time neither the grave worship of
Quakerism nor the gayeties of Norwich satisfied her eager spirit. We
find too, how early she kept this journal, and from it we obtain the
truest and most interesting glimpses into her character and feelings.
Thus at seventeen years of age she wrote:--

     I am seventeen to-day. Am I a happier or a better creature than I
     was this day twelvemonths? I know I am happier--I think I am
     better. I hope I shall be happier this day year than I am now. I
     hope to be quite an altered person; to have more knowledge; to have
     my mind in greater order, and my heart too, that wants to be put in
     order quite as much.... I have seen several things in myself and
     others I never before remarked, but I have not tried to improve
     myself--I have given way to my passions, and let them have command
     over me, I have known my faults and not corrected them--and now I
     am determined I will once more try with redoubled ardor to overcome
     my wicked inclinations. I must not flirt; I must not be out of
     temper with the children; I must not contradict without a cause; I
     must not allow myself to be angry; I must not exaggerate, which I
     am inclined to do; I must not give way to luxury; I must not be
     idle in mind. I must try to give way to every good feeling, and
     overcome every bad. I have lately been too satirical, so as to hurt
     sometimes: remember it is always a fault to hurt others.

     I have a cross to-night. I had very much set my mind on going to
     the Oratorio. The Prince is to be there, and by all accounts it
     will be quite a grand sight, and there will be the finest music;
     but if my father does not wish me to go, much as I wish it, I will
     give it up with pleasure, if it be in my power, without a
     murmur.... I went to the Oratorio. I enjoyed it, but I spoke sadly
     at random--what a bad habit!

     There is much difference between being obstinate and steady. If I
     am bid to do a thing my spirit revolts; if I am asked to do a
     thing, I am willing.... A thought passed my mind that if I had some
     religion I should be superior to what I am; it would be a bias to
     better actions. I think I am by degrees losing many excellent
     qualities. I am more cross, more proud, more vain, more
     extravagant. I lay it to my great love of gayety and the world. I
     feel, I know I am falling. I do believe if I had a little true
     religion I should have a greater support than I have now; but I
     have the greatest fear of religion, because I never saw a person
     religious who was not enthusiastic.

It will be seen that Elizabeth at this period enjoyed the musical and
social pleasures of Norwich, while at the same time she had decided
leanings towards the plain, religious customs of the Friends. It is not
wonderful that her heart was in a state of unrest and agitation, that at
times she scarcely knew what she longed for, nor what she desired to
forsake. The society with which she was accustomed to mingle contained
some known in Quaker parlance as "unbelievers"; perhaps in our day they
would be regarded as holding "advanced opinions." One of the most
intimate visitors at Earlham was a gentleman belonging to the Roman
Catholic communion, but his acquaintance seemed rather to be a benefit
than otherwise, for he referred the young Gurneys in all matters of
faith to the "written word" rather than to the opinions of men or books
generally. Another visitor, a lady afterwards known to literature as
Mrs. Schimmelpenninck, was instrumental in leading them to form sound
opinions upon the religious questions of the day. They were thus
preserved from the wave of scepticism which was then sweeping over the
society of that day.

Judging from her journal of this date, it is not easy to detect much, if
any, promise of the future self-denying philanthropy. She seemed
nervously afraid of "enthusiasm in religion"; even sought to shun
anything which appeared different from the usual modes of action among
the people with whom she mingled. A young girl who confessed that she
had "the greatest fear of religion," because in her judgment and
experience enthusiasm was always allied with religion, was not, one
would suppose, in much danger of becoming remarkable for philanthropy.
True, she was accustomed to doing good among the poor and sick,
according to her opportunities and station; but this was nothing
strange--all the traditions of Quaker life inculcate benevolence and
kindly dealing--what she needed was "_the expulsive power of a new
affection_." This "new affection"--the love of Christ--in its turn
expelled the worldliness and unrest which existed, and gave a tone to
her mental and spiritual nature, which, by steady degrees, lifted her
up, and caused her to forget the syren song of earth. Not all at
once,--in the story of her newborn earnestness we shall find that the
habits and associations of her daily life sometimes acted as drawbacks
to her progress in faith. But the seed having once taken root in that
youthful heart, germinated, developed, and sprang up, to bear a glorious
harvest in the work of reclaiming and uplifting sunken and debased
humanity.



CHAPTER II.

LIFE'S EARNEST PURPOSE.


There was no sharp dividing-line between worldliness and consecration of
life in Elizabeth Gurney's case. The work was very gradually
accomplished; once started into earnest living, she discerned, what was
all unseen before, a path to higher destinies. Standing on the ruins of
her former dead self, she strove to attain to higher things. The
instrument in this change was a travelling Friend from America--William
Savery.

These travelling Friends are deputed, by the Quarterly Meetings to which
they belong, to visit and minister among their own body. Their
commission is endorsed by the Yearly Meeting of the Ministers and Elders
of the Society, before the Friend can extend the journey beyond his own
country. The objects of these visits are generally relating to
benevolent and philanthropic works, or to the increase of religion among
the members of the Society. Joseph John Gurney himself visited America
and the Continent upon similar missions, and in some of his journeys
was accompanied by his illustrious sister.

William Savery was expected to address the Meeting of Friends at
Norwich, and most, if not all, of the Gurney family were present.
Elizabeth had been very remiss in her attendance at meeting; any and
every excuse, in addition to her, at times, really delicate health,
served to hinder attendance, until her uncle gently but firmly urged the
duty upon her. Thenceforward she went a little more frequently, but
still was far from being a pattern worshipper; and it will be conceded
that few, save spiritual worshippers, could with profit join in the
grave silence, or enjoy the equally grave utterances of ordinary
meeting. But William Savery was no ordinary man, and the young people at
Earlham prepared to listen to him, in case he "felt moved" to speak,
with no ordinary attention. Giving an account of this visit, Richenda
Gurney admitted that they liked having Yearly Meeting Friends come to
preach, for it produced a little change; from the same vivacious pen we
have an account of that memorable service. Memorable it was, in that it
became the starting-point of a new career to Elizabeth Gurney.

The seven sisters of the Earlham household all sat together during that
eventful morning, in a row, under the gallery. Elizabeth was restless
as a rule when at meeting, but something in the tone of William Savery's
voice arrested her attention, and before he had proceeded very far she
began to weep. She continued to be agitated until the close of the
meeting, when, making her way to her father, at the men's side of the
house, she requested his permission to dine at her uncle's. William
Savery was a guest there that day, and, although somewhat surprised at
his daughter's desire, Mr. Gurney consented to the request. To the
surprise of all her friends Elizabeth attended meeting again in the
afternoon, and on her return home in the carriage her pent-up feelings
found vent. Describing this scene, Richenda Gurney says: "Betsey sat in
the middle and astonished us all by the great feelings she showed. She
wept most of the way home. The next morning William Savery came to
breakfast, and preached to our dear sister after breakfast, prophesying
of the high and important calling she would be led into. What she went
through in her own mind I cannot say, but the results were most powerful
and most evident. From that day her love of the world and of pleasure
seemed gone."

Her own account of the impressions made upon her reads just a little
quaintly, possibly because of the unfamiliar Quaker phraseology.
"To-day I have felt that _there is a God!_ I have been devotional, and
my mind has been led away from the follies that it is mostly wrapped up
in. We had much serious conversation; in short, what he said, and what I
felt, was like a refreshing shower falling upon earth that had been
dried for ages. It has not made me unhappy; I have felt ever since
_humble_. I have longed for virtue: I hope to be truly virtuous; to let
sophistry fly from my mind; not to be enthusiastic and foolish but only
to be so far religious as will lead to virtue. There seems nothing so
little understood as religion."

Good resolutions followed, and determined amendment of life, as far as
she conceived this amendment to be in accordance with the Bible. While
in this awakened state of mind, a journey to London was projected. Mr.
Gurney took her to the metropolis and left her in charge of a
trustworthy attendant, in order that she might make full trial of "the
world" which she would have to renounce so fully if she embraced plain
Quakerism. Among the good resolutions made in view of this journey to
London, we find that she determined not to be vain or silly, to be
independent of the opinion of others, not to make dress a study, and to
read the Bible at all available opportunities. It was perhaps wise in
her father to permit this reasoning, philosophical daughter of his to
see the gayeties of London life before coming to a final decision
respecting taking up the cross of plain Quakerism; but had her mind been
less finely balanced, her judgment less trained, and her principles less
formed, the result might have been disastrous.

She went, and mingled somewhat freely with the popular life of the great
city. She was taken to Drury Lane, the Covent Garden theatres, and to
other places of amusement, but she could not "like plays." She saw some
good actors; witnessed "Hamlet," "Bluebeard," and other dramas, but
confesses that she "cannot like or enjoy them"; they seemed "so
artificial." Then she somewhat oddly says that when her hair was dressed
"she felt like a monkey," and finally concluded that "London was not the
place for heartful pleasure." With her natural, sound common sense, her
discernment, her intelligence and purity of mind, these amusements
seemed far below the level of those fitted to satisfy a rational
being--so far that she almost looked down on them with contempt. The
truth was, that having tasted a little of the purer joy of religion, all
other substitutes were stale and flat, and this although she scarcely
knew enough of the matter to be able correctly to analyze her own
feelings.

Among the persons Elizabeth encountered in the metropolis, are found
mentioned Amelia Opie, Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Inchbold, "Peter Pindar," and
last, but by no means least, the Prince of Wales. Not that she really
talked with royalty, but she saw the Prince at the opera; and she tells
us that she admired him very much. Indeed, she did not mind owning that
she loved grand company, and she certainly enjoyed clever company, for
she much relished and appreciated the society of both Mrs. Opie and Mrs.
Inchbald. This predilection for high circles and illustrious people was
afterwards to bear noble fruit, seeing that she preached often to
crowned heads, and princes. But just then she had little idea of the
wonderful future which awaited her. She was only trying the experiment
as to whether the world, or Christ, were the better master. Deliberately
she examined and proved the truth, and with equal deliberation she came
to the decision--a decision most remarkable in a girl so young, and so
dangerously situated.

Her own review of this period of her life, written thirty years later,
sums up the matter more forcibly and calmly than any utterance of a
biographer can do. She wrote:--

     Here ended this important and interesting visit to London, where I
     learned much, and had much to digest. I saw and entered many
     scenes of gaiety, many of our first public places, attended balls
     and other places of amusement. I saw many interesting characters in
     the world, some of considerable eminence in that day. I was also
     cast among the great variety of persons of different descriptions.
     I had the high advantage of attending several most interesting
     meetings of William Savery, and having at times his company and
     that of a few other friends. It was like the casting die of my
     life, however. I believe it was in the ordering of Providence for
     me, and that the lessons then learnt are to this day valuable to
     me. I consider one of the important results was the conviction of
     those things being wrong, from seeing them and feeling their
     effects. I wholly gave up, on my own ground, attending all public
     places of amusement. I saw they tended to promote evil; therefore,
     even if I could attend them without being hurt myself, I felt in
     entering them I lent my aid to promote that which I was sure, from
     what I saw, hurt others, led them from the paths of rectitude, and
     brought them into much sin. I felt the vanity and folly of what are
     called the pleasures of this life, of which the tendency is not to
     satisfy, but eventually to enervate and injure the mind. Those only
     are real pleasures which are of an innocent nature, and are used as
     recreations, subjected to the Cross of Christ. I was in my judgment
     much confirmed in the infinite importance of religion as the only
     real stay, guide, help, comfort in this life, and the only means of
     having a hope of partaking of a better. My understanding was
     increasingly opened to receive its truths, although the glad
     tidings of the Gospel were very little, if at all, understood by
     me. I was like the blind man, although I could hardly be said to
     have attained the state of seeing men as trees. I obtained in this
     expedition a valuable knowledge of human nature from the variety I
     met with; this, I think, was useful to me, though some were very
     dangerous associates for so young a person, and the way in which I
     was protected among them is in my remembrance very striking, and
     leads me to acknowledge that at this most critical period of my
     life the tender mercy of my God was marvelously displayed towards
     me, and that His all-powerful--though to me then almost unseen and
     unknown--hand held me up and protected me.

Self-abnegation and austerity were now to take the place of pleasant
frivolities and fashionable amusements. Her conviction was that her mind
required the ties and bonds of Quakerism to fit it for immortality. Not
that she, in any way, trusted in her own righteousness; for she gives it
as her opinion that, while principles of one's own making are useless in
the elevation and refinement of character, true religion, on the
contrary, does exalt and purify the character. Still the struggle was
not over. Long and bitter as it had been, it became still more bitter;
and the nightly recurrence of a dream at this period will serve to show
how agitated was her mental and spiritual nature. Just emancipated from
sceptical principles, accustomed to independent research, and deciding
to study the New Testament rather than good books, when on the
border-land of indecision and gloomy doubt, yet not wholly convinced or
comforted, her sleeping hours reflected the bitter, restless doubt of
her waking thoughts. A curious dream followed her almost nightly, and
filled her with terror. She imagined herself to be in danger of being
washed away by the sea, and as the waves approached her, she experienced
all the horror of being drowned. But after she came to the deciding
point, or, as she expressed it, "felt that she had really and truly got
real faith," she was lifted up in her dream above the waves. Secure upon
a rock, above their reach, she watched the water as it tossed and
roared, but powerless to hurt her. The dream no more recurred; the
struggle was ended, and thankful calm became her portion. She accepted
this dream as a lesson that she should not be drowned in the ocean of
this world, but should mount above its influence, and remain a faithful
and steady servant of God.

Elizabeth's mind turned towards the strict practices of the Friends, as
being those most likely to be helpful to her newly-adopted life. A visit
paid to some members of the Society at Colebrook Dale, intensified and
confirmed those feelings. She says in her journal that it was a dreadful
cross to say "thee," and "thou," instead of speaking like other people,
and also to adopt the close cap and plain kerchief of the Quakeress;
but, in her opinion, it had to be done, or she could not fully renounce
the world and serve God. Neither could she hope for thorough
appreciation of these things in her beloved home-circle. To be a "plain
Quaker," she must in many things be far in advance of father, sisters,
and brothers; while in others she must tacitly condemn them. But she was
equal to the demand; she counted the cost, and accepted the
difficulties. At this time she was about nineteen years of age.

As a beginning, she left off many pleasures such as might have
reasonably been considered innocent. For instance, she abandoned her
"scarlet riding-habit," she laid aside all personal ornament, and
occupied her leisure time in teaching poor children. She commenced a
small school for the benefit of the poor children of the city, and in a
short time had as many as seventy scholars under her care. How she
managed to control and keep quiet so many unruly specimens of humanity,
was a standing problem to all who knew her; but it seems not unlikely
that those qualities of organization and method which afterwards
distinguished her were being trained and developed. Added to these, must
be taken into account the power which a strong will always has over
weaker minds--an important factor in the matter. Still more must be
taken into account the strong, earnest longing of an enthusiastic young
soul to benefit those who were living around her. Earnest souls make
history. History has great things to tell of men and women of faith; and
Elizabeth Gurney's life-work colored the history of that age. A brief
sentence from her journal at this time explains the attitude of her mind
towards the outcast, poor, and neglected: "I don't remember ever being
at any time with one who was not extremely disgusting, but I felt a sort
of love for them, and I do hope I would sacrifice my life for the good
of mankind." Very evidently, William Savery's prophesy was coming to
pass in the determination of the young Quakeress to do good in her
generation.



CHAPTER III.

ST. MILDRED'S COURT.


After a visit in the north of England with her father and sisters,
Elizabeth received proposals of marriage from Mr. Joseph Fry of London.
His family, also Quakers, were wealthy and of good position; but for
some time Elizabeth seemed to hesitate about entering on married life.
Far from looking on marriage as the goal of her ambition, as is the
fashion with many young women, she was divided in her mind as to the
relative advantages of single and married life, as they might affect
philanthropic and religious work. After consultation with her friends,
however, the offer was accepted, and on August 19th, 1800, when she was
little more than twenty years of age, she was married to Mr. Fry, in the
Friends' Meeting House, at Norwich. Very quickly after bidding her
school-children farewell, Mrs. Fry proceeded to St. Mildred's Court,
London, her husband's place of business, where she commenced to take up
the first duties of wedded life, and where several of her children were
born.

The family into which she married was a Quaker family of the strictest
order. So far from being singular by her orthodoxy of manners and
appearance, she was, in the midst of the Frys, "the gay, instead of the
plain and scrupulous one of the family." For a little time she
experienced some difficulty in reconciling her accustomed habits with
the straight tenets of her husband's household and connections, but in
the end succeeded. It seems singular that one so extremely conscientious
as Elizabeth Fry, should have been considered to fall behindhand in that
self-denying plainness of act and speech which characterized others; but
so it was. And so determined was she to serve God according to her
light, that no mortification of the flesh was counted too severe
provided it would further the great end she had in view. Her extreme
conscientiousness became manifest in lesser things; such, for instance,
as anxiety to keep the strict truth, and that only, in all kinds of
conversation.

Thus, she wrote in her journal:--

     I was told by ---- he thought my manners had too much of the
     courtier in them, which I know to be the case, for my disposition
     leads me to hurt no one that I can avoid, and I do sometimes but
     just keep to the truth with people, from a natural yielding to them
     in such things as please them. I think doing so in moderation is
     pleasant and useful in society. It is among the things that
     produce the harmony of society; for the truth must not be spoken
     out at all times, at least not the whole truth. Perhaps I am
     wrong--I do not know if I am--but it will not always do to tell our
     minds.... I am one of those who try to serve God and Mammon. Now,
     for instance, if I wish to say anything I think right to anyone, I
     seldom go straight to the point, but mostly by some softening,
     round-about way, which, I fear, is very much from wishing to please
     man more than his Maker!

It is evident that Elizabeth Fry dared to be singular; very possibly
only such self-renouncing singularity could have borne such remarkable
fruits of philanthropy. It required some such independent, philosophical
character as hers to strike out a new path for charitable effort.

During the continuance of the Yearly Meeting in London, the home in St.
Mildred's Court was made a house of entertainment for the Friends who
came from all parts of the country. It was a curious sight to see the
older Friends, clad in the quaint costume of that age, as they mingled
with the more fashionably or moderately dressed Quakers. The sightseers
of London eighty years ago must have looked on amused at what they
considered the vagaries of those worthy folks. The old Quaker ladies are
described as wearing at that date a close-fitting white cap, over which
was placed a black hood, and out of doors a low-crowned broad beaver
hat. The gowns were neatly made of drab camlet, the waists cut in long
peaks, and the skirts hanging in ample folds. For many years past these
somewhat antiquated garments have been discarded for sober
"coal-scuttles," and silk dresses of black or gray, much to the
improvement of the fair wearer's appearance. These Friends were
entertained at Mr. Fry's house heartily, and almost religiously. And
doubtless many people who were of the "salt of the earth" were numbered
among Mr. Fry's guests, while his young wife moved among them the
embodiment of refined lady-like hospitality and high principle.
Doubtless, too, the quiet home-talk of these worthy folks was only one
degree less solemn and sedate than their utterances at Yearly Meeting.

Mrs. Fry followed up her chosen path in ministering to the sick and poor
among the slums of London. She visited them at their homes, and
traversed dirty courts and uninviting alleys in the quest of individuals
needing succor. Sometimes she was made the instrument of blessing; but
at other times, like all philanthropists, she was deceived and imposed
upon. One day a woman accosted her in the street, asking relief, and
holding an infant who was suffering evidently with whooping-cough. Mrs.
Fry offered to go to the woman's house with the intention of
investigating and relieving whatever real misery may have existed. To
her surprise the mendicant slunk away as if unwilling to be visited; but
Mrs. Fry was determined to track her, and at last brought her to earth.
The room--a filthy, dirty, poverty-cursed one--contained a number of
infants in every conceivable stage of illness and misery.
Horror-stricken, Mrs. Fry requested her own medical attendant to visit
this lazar-house; but on going thither next morning he found the woman
and her helpless brood of infants gone. It then turned out that this
woman "farmed" infants; deliberately neglected them till she succeeded
in killing them off, and then concealed their deaths in order to
continue to receive the wretched pittances allowed for their
maintenance. Such scenes and facts as these must have opened the eyes of
Mrs. Fry to the condition of the poorest classes of that day, and
educated her in self-denying labor on their behalf.

She also took an interest in educational matters, and formed an
acquaintance with Joseph Lancaster, the founder of the Monitorial
system, and quickly turned her talents to account in visiting the
workhouse and school belonging to the Society of Friends at Islington.

About this time, one sister was married to Mr. Samuel Hoare, and
another to Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Other members of her family passed
away from this life; among them her husband's mother, and a brother's
wife. Some time later Mr. Fry senior, died, and this event caused the
removal of the home from St. Mildred's Court to Plashet, in Essex, the
country seat of the family. Writing of this change, she said: "I do not
think I have ever expressed the pleasure and comfort I find in a country
life, both for myself and the dear children. It has frequently led me to
feel grateful for the numerous benefits conferred, and I have also
desired that I may not rest in, nor too much depend on, any of these
outward enjoyments. It is certainly to me a time of sunshine."



CHAPTER IV.

A COUNTRY HOME.


The delight expressed in her diary upon her removal to Plashet, found
vent in efforts to beautify the grounds. The garden-nooks and
plantations were filled with wild flowers, gathered by herself and
children in seasons of relaxation, and transferred from the coppices,
hedgerows and meadows, to the grounds, which appeared to her to be only
second in beauty to Earlham. Mrs. Fry was possessed of a keen eye for
Nature's beauties. Quick to perceive, and eager to relish the delights
of the fair world around, she took pleasure in them, finding relaxation
from the many duties which clustered about her in the spot of earth on
which her lot was cast. Her journal tells of trials and burdens, and
sometimes there peeps out a sentence of regret that the ideal which she
had formed of serving God, in the lost years of youth, had been absorbed
in "the duties of a careworn wife and mother." Yet what she fancied she
had lost in this waiting-time had been gained, after all, in
preparation. This quiet, domestic life was not what she had looked
forward to when in the first flush of youthful zeal. Still, she was
thereby trained to deal with the young and helpless, to enter into
sorrows and woes, and to understand and sympathize with quiet suffering.
But the time was coming for more active outward service, and when the
call came Elizabeth Fry was found ready to obey it.

Towards the end of 1809 her father died, after great suffering; summoned
by one of her sisters, Elizabeth hurried down to Earlham to catch, if
possible, his parting benediction. She succeeded in arriving soon enough
to bear her much-loved parent company during his last few hours of life,
and to hear him express, again and again, his confidence in the Saviour,
who, in death, was all-sufficient for his needs. As he passed away, her
faith and confidence could not forbear expression, and, kneeling at the
bedside, she gave utterance to words of thanksgiving for the safe and
happy ending of a life which had been so dear to her. The truth was, a
burden had been weighing her down for some time past, causing her to
question herself most seriously as to whether she were willing to obey
"the inward voice" which prompted her to serve God in a certain way.
This specific way was the way of preaching in Meeting, or "bearing
testimony," as she phrased it, "at the prompting of the Holy Spirit." It
will be remembered that this is a distinguishing peculiarity of the
society which George Fox founded. Preaching is only permitted upon the
spur of the moment, as people of the world would say, but at the
prompting of the inward voice, as Quakers deem. Certainly no one ever
became a preacher among the Friends "for a piece of bread." If fanatics
sometimes "prophesied" out of the fullness of excited brains, or fervid
souls, no place-hunter adopted the pulpit as a profession. Only,
sometimes, it needs the presence of an overwhelming trial to bring out
the latent strength in a person's nature; and this trial was furnished
to Elizabeth Fry in the shape of her father's death. The thanksgiving
uttered by her at his death was also publicly repeated at the funeral,
probably with additional words, and from that time she was known as a
"minister."

In taking this new departure she must not be confounded with some female
orators of the present age, who often succeed in turning preaching into
a hideous caricature. She was evidently ripening for her remarkable
work, and while doing so was occasionally irresistibly impelled to give
utterance to "thoughts that breathe and words that burn." Still, after
reaching the quiet of Plashet, and reviewing calmly her new form of
service, she thus wrote, what seemed to be both a sincere and
common-sense judgment upon herself:--

     I was enabled coming along to crave help; in the first place, to be
     made willing either to do or to suffer whatever was the Divine will
     concerning me. I also desired that I might not be so occupied with
     the present state of my mind as to its religious duties, as in any
     degree to omit close attention to all daily duties, my beloved
     husband, children, servants, poor, etc. But, if I should be
     permitted the humiliating path that has appeared to be opening
     before me, to look well at home, and not discredit the cause I
     desire to advocate.

Wise counsels these, to herself! No woman whose judgment is
well-balanced, and whose womanly-nature is finely strung, but will
regard the path to the rostrum with shrinking and dismay. Either the
desire to save and help her fellow-creatures, "plucking them out of the
fire," if need be, is so strong upon her as to overmaster all fear of
man; or else the necessities and claims of near and dear ones lay
compulsion upon her to win support for them. Therefore, while every
woman can be a law unto herself, no woman can be a law unto her sisters
in this matter. As proof of her singleness of heart, another passage may
be quoted from Mrs. Fry's journal. It runs thus, and will be by no
means out of place here, seeing that it bears particularly upon the new
form of ministry then being taken up by her:--

     May my being led out of my own family by what appears to me
     _duties_, never be permitted to hinder my doing my duty fully
     towards it, or so occupy my attention as to make me in any degree
     forget or neglect home duties. I believe it matters not where we
     are, or what we are about, so long as we keep our eye fixed on
     doing the Great Master's work.... I fear for myself, lest even this
     great mercy should prove a temptation, and lead me to come before I
     am called, or enter service I am not prepared for.... This matter
     has been for many years struggling in my mind, long before I
     married, and once or twice when in London I hardly knew how to
     refrain. However, since a way has thus been made for me it appears
     as if I dared not stop the work; if it be a right one may it go on
     and prosper, if not, the sooner stopped the better.

Very soon after penning these words, the Meeting of which she was a
member acknowledged Mrs. Fry as a minister, and thus gave its sanction
to her speaking in their religious assemblies.

But, not content with this form of service, she visited among her poor
neighbors, bent on actively doing good. She secured a large room
belonging to an old house, opposite her own dwelling, and established a
school for girls on the Lancasterian pattern there. Very quickly, under
the united efforts of Mrs. Fry, the incumbent of the parish, and a
benevolent young lady named Powell, a school of seventy girls was
established, and kept in a prosperous condition. This school was still
in working order a few years ago.

Plashet House was a depot of charity. Calicoes, flannels, jackets,
gowns, and pinafores were kept in piles to clothe the naked; drugs
suited to domestic practice were stored in a closet, for healing the
sick; an amateur soup-kitchen for feeding the hungry was established in
a roomy out-building, and this long years before public soup-kitchens
became the rage; whilst copies of Testaments were forthcoming on all
occasions to teach erring feet the way to Heaven. But her charity did
not stop with these things.

An unsavory locality known as "Irish Row," about half a mile off, soon
attracted her attention. The slatternliness, suffering, shiftlessness,
dirt and raggedness, were inducements to one of her charitable
temperament to visit its inhabitants, having their relief and
improvement in view; while her appreciation of the warm-heartedness and
drollery of the Irish character afforded her genuine pleasure. Proximity
to English life had not refined these Irish; their houses were just as
filthy, their windows as patched and obscured with rags, their children
just as neglected, and their pigs equally familiar with those children
as if they had lived in the wilds of Connemara. Shillalahs, wakes,
potatoes, and poverty were distinguishing characteristics of the
locality; whilst its inhabitants were equally ready, with the free and
easy volatility of the Irish mind, to raise the jovial song, or utter
the cry of distress.

The priest and spiritual director of "Irish Row" found himself almost
powerless in the presence of this mass of squalid misery. That Mrs. Fry
was a Quaker and a Protestant, did not matter to him, provided she could
assist in raising this debased little colony into something like orderly
life and decency. So he cooperated with her, and with his consent she
gave away Bibles and tracts, vaccinated and taught the children, as well
as moved among them generally in the character of their good genius.
When delicate and weak, she would take the carriage, filled with
blankets and clothes for distribution, down to Irish Row, where the
warm-hearted recipients blessed their "Lady bountiful" in terms more
voluble and noisy than refined. Still, however unpromising, the soil
bore good fruit. Homes grew more civilized, men, women, and children
more respectable and quiet, while everywhere the impress of a woman's
benevolent labors was apparent.

It was the annual custom of a tribe of gypsies to pitch their tents in a
green lane near Plashet, on their way to Fairlop Fair. Once, after the
tents were pitched, a child fell ill; the distracted mother applied to
the kind lady at Plashet House for relief. Mrs. Fry acceded to the
request, and not only ministered to the gypsies that season, but every
succeeding year; until she became known and almost worshipped among
them. Romany wanderers and Celtic colonists were alike welcome to her
heart and purse, and vied in praising her.

About this time the Norwich Auxiliary Bible Society was formed, and Mrs.
Fry went down to Earlham to attend the initial meeting. She tells us
there were present the Bishop of Norwich, six clergymen of the
Established Church, and three dissenting ministers, besides several
leading Quakers and gentlemen of the neighborhood. The number included
Mr. Hughes, one of the secretaries, and Dr. Steinkopf, a Lutheran
minister, who, though as one with the work of the Bible Society, could
not speak English. At some of these meetings she felt prompted to speak,
and did so at a social gathering at Earlham Hall, when all present owned
her remarkable influence upon them. These associations also increased
in her that catholicity of spirit which afterwards seemed so prominent.
Some of her brothers and sisters belonged to the Established Church of
England; while in her walks of mercy she was continually co-operating
with members of other sections of Christians. As we have seen, she
worked harmoniously with all: Catholic and Protestant, Churchman and
Dissenter.

On looking at her training for her special form of usefulness we find
that afflictions predominated just when her mind was soaring above the
social and conventional trammels which at one time weighed so much with
her. We know her mostly as a prison philanthropist; but while following
her career in that path, it will be wise not to forget the way in which
she was led. By slow and painful degrees she was drawn away from the
circles of fashion in which once her soul delighted. Then her nature
seemed so retiring, and the tone of her piety so mystical, while she
dreaded nervously all approach to "religious enthusiasm," that a career
of publicity, either in prisons, among rulers, or among the ministers of
her own Society, seemed too far away to be ever realized in fact and
deed. Only He, who weighs thoughts and searches out spirits, knew or
understood by what slow degrees she rose to the demands which presented
themselves to her "in the ways of His requirings," even if "they led her
into suffering and death." It was no small cross for such a woman thus
to dare singularity and possibly odium.



CHAPTER V.

BEGINNINGS IN NEWGATE.


It is said by some authorities that in her childhood Mrs. Fry expressed
so great a desire to visit a prison that her father at last took her to
see one. Early in 1813 she first visited Newgate, with the view of
ministering to the necessities of the felons; and for all practical
purposes of charity this was really her initial step. The following
entry in her journal relates to a visit paid in February of that year.
"Yesterday we were some hours with the poor female felons, attending to
their outward necessities; we had been twice previously. Before we went
away dear Anna Buxton uttered a few words of supplication, and, very
unexpectedly to myself, I did also. I heard weeping, and I thought they
appeared much tendered (_i.e._ softened); a very solemn quiet was
observed; it was a striking scene, the poor people on their knees around
us in their deplorable condition." This reference makes no mention of
what was really the truth, that some members of the Society of Friends,
who had visited Newgate in January, had so represented the condition of
the prisoners to Mrs. Fry that she determined to set out in this new
path. "In prison, and ye visited me." Little did she dream on what a
distinguished career of philanthropy she was entering.

And Newgate needed some apostle of mercy to reduce the sum of human
misery found there, to something like endurable proportions. We are told
that at that date all the female prisoners were confined in what was
afterwards known as the "untried side" of the jail, while the larger
portion of the quadrangle was utilized as a state-prison. The women's
division consisted of two wards and two cells, containing a superficial
area of about one hundred and ninety yards. Into these apartments, at
the time of Mrs. Fry's visit, above three hundred women were crammed,
innocent and guilty, tried and untried, misdemeanants, and those who
were soon to pay the penalty of their crimes upon the gallows. Besides
all these were to be found numerous children, the offspring of the
wretched women, learning vice and defilement from the very cradle. The
penal laws were so sanguinary that at the commencement of this century
about three hundred crimes were punishable with death. Some of these
offences were very trivial, such as robbing hen-roosts, writing
threatening letters, and stealing property from the person to the
amount of five shillings. There was always a good crop for the gallows:
hanging went merrily on, from assize town to assize town, until one
wonders whether the people were not gallows-hardened. One old man and
his son performed the duties of warders in this filthy, abominable hole
of "justice." And the ragged, wretched crew bemoaned their wretchedness
in vain, for no helping hand was held out to succor. They were
"destitute of sufficient clothing, for which there was no provision; in
rags and dirt, without bedding, they slept on the floor, the boards of
which were in part raised to supply a sort of pillow. In the same rooms
they lived, cooked, and washed. With the proceeds of their clamorous
begging, when any stranger appeared among them, the prisoners purchased
liquors from a tap in the prison. Spirits were openly drunk, and the ear
was assailed by the most terrible language. Beyond the necessity for
safe custody, there was little restraint upon their communication with
the world without. Although military sentinels were posted on the leads
of the prison, such was the lawlessness prevailing, that Mr. Newman, the
governor, entered this portion of it with reluctance."

As Mrs. Fry and the "Anna Buxton" referred to,--who was a sister of Sir
Thomas Fowell Buxton,--were about to enter this modern Inferno, the
Governor of Newgate advised the ladies to leave their watches in his
care lest they should be snatched away by the lawless wretches inside.
But no such hesitating, half-hearted, fearful charity was theirs. They
had come to see for themselves the misery which prevailed, and to dare
all risks; and we do not find that either Mrs. Fry or her companion lost
anything in their progress through the women's wards; watches and all
came away safely, a fresh proof of the power of kindness. The
revelations of the terrible woes of felon-life which met Mrs. Fry
stirred up her soul within her. She emphatically "clothed the naked,"
for she set her family to work at once making green-baize garments for
this purpose until she had provided for all the most destitute.

To remedy this state of things appeared like one of the labors of
Hercules. Few were hopeful of the success of her undertaking, while at
times even her undaunted spirit must have doubted. In John Howard's time
the prisons of England had been distinguished for vice, filth,
brutality, and suffering; and although some little improvement had taken
place, it was almost infinitesimal. Old castles, or gate-houses, with
damp, dark dungeons and narrow cells, were utilized for penal purposes.
It was common to see a box fastened up under one of the narrow,
iron-barred windows overlooking the street, with the inscription, "Pity
the poor prisoners," the alms being intended for their relief and
sustenance. Often the jail was upon a bridge at the entrance of a town,
and the damp of the river added to the otherwise unhealthy condition of
the place. Bunyan spoke, not altogether allegorically, but rather
literally, of the foul "den" in which he passed a good twelve years of
his life. Irons and fetters were used to prevent escape, while those who
could not obtain the means of subsistence from their friends, suffered
the horrors of starvation. Over-crowding, disease, riot, and obscenity
united to render these places very Pandemoniums.

It seemed almost hopeless to deal with ferocious and abandoned women.
One of them was observed, desperate with rage, tearing the caps from the
heads of the other women, and yelling like a savage beast. By so much
nearer as woman is to the angels, must be measured her descent into ruin
when she is degraded. She falls deeper than a man; her degradation is
more complete, her nature more demoralized. Whether Mrs. Fry felt
unequal just then to the task, or whether family affliction pressed too
sorely upon her, we do not know; her journal affords no solution of the
problem, but certain it is that some three years passed by before any
very active steps were taken by her to ameliorate to any decided extent
the misery of the prisoners.

But the matter seethed in her mind; as she mused upon it, the fire
burned, and the spirit which had to burst its conventional trammels and
"take up the cross" in regard to dress and speech, looked out for other
crosses to carry. Doing good became a passion; want, misery, sin and
sorrow furnished claims upon her which she would neither ignore nor
deny.

John Howard had grappled with the hydra before her, and finally
succumbed to his exertions. As the period of his labors lay principally
between the years 1774 and 1790, when the evils against which Mrs. Fry
had to contend were intensified and a hundred times blacker, it cannot
do harm to recall the condition of prisons in England during the last
quarter of the eighteenth century; that is, during the girlhood of
Elizabeth Fry. Possibly some echoes of the marvellous exertions of
Howard in prison reform had reached her Earlham home, and produced,
though unconsciously, an interest in the subject which was destined to
bear fruit at a later period. At any rate, the fact cannot be gainsaid
that she followed in his steps, visiting the Continent in the
prosecution of her self-imposed task, and examining into the most
loathsome recesses of prisons, lunatic asylums, and hospitals.

The penal systems of England had been on their trial; had broken down,
and been found utterly wanting. Modern legislation and philanthropy have
laid it down that _reform_ is the proper end of all punishment; hence
the "silent system," the "separate system," and various employments have
been adopted. Hence, too, arose the framing of a system of education and
instruction under the jail roof, so that on the discharge of prisoners
they might be fitted to earn their own maintenance in that world which
formerly they had cursed with their evil deeds. But it was not so in the
era of John Howard, nor of Elizabeth Fry. Then, justice made short work
with criminals and debtors. The former it hanged in droves, and left the
latter to literally "rot" in prison. Two systems of transportation have
been tried: the one previous to Howard's day succeeded in pouring into
the American plantations the crime and vice of England; whilst the
other, which succeeded him, did the same for Australia. After the breach
between the American colonies and the mother-country, the system of
transportation to the Transatlantic plantations ceased; it was in the
succeeding years that the foul holes called prisons, killed their
thousands, and "jail-fever" its tens of thousands.

Yet, in spite of hanging felons faster than any other nation in Europe,
in spite of killing them off slowly by the miseries of these holes,
crime multiplied more than ever. Gigantic social corruptions festered in
the midst of the nation, until it seemed as if a war which carried off a
few thousands or tens of thousands of the lower classes, were almost a
blessing. Alongside the horrible evils for which Government was
responsible, grew up multitudes of other evils against which it fought,
or over which it exercised a strong and somewhat tyrannical upper-hand.
In society there was a constant war going on between law and crime.
Extirpation--not reform--was the end aimed at; the prison officials of
that time looked upon a criminal as a helpless wretch, presenting fair
game for plunder, torture and tyranny. The records in Howard's journals,
and the annals of Mrs. Fry's labors, amply enlighten us as to the result
of this state of things.

In Bedford jail the dungeons for felons were eleven feet below the
ground, always wet and slimy, and upon these floors the inmates had to
sleep. At Nottingham the jail stood on the side of a hill, while the
dungeons were cut in the solid rock; these dungeons could only be
entered after descending more than thirty steps. At Gloucester there was
but one court for all prisoners, and, while fever was decimating them,
only one day-room. At Salisbury the prisoners were chained together at
Christmas time and sent in couples to beg. In some of the jails, open
sewers ran through corridors and cells, so that the poor inmates had to
fight for their lives with the vermin which nourished there. At Ely the
prison was in such a ruinous condition that the criminals could not be
safely kept; the warders, therefore, had had recourse to chains and
fetters to prevent the escape of those committed to their charge. They
chained prisoners on their backs to the floor, and, not content with
this, secured iron collars round their necks as well as placed heavy
bars across their legs. Small fear of the poor wretches running away
after that! At Exeter the county jail was the private property of a
gentleman, John Denny Rolle, who farmed it out to a keeper, and received
an income of twenty pounds per annum for it. Yet why multiply instances!
In all of them, dirt, cruelty, fever, torture and abuses reigned
unchecked. Prisoners had no regular allowance of food, but depended on
their means, family, or charity; the prisons were farmed by their
keepers, some of whom were women, but degraded and cruel; many innocent
prisoners were slowly rotting to death, because of their inability to
pay the heavy fees exacted by their keepers; while the sleeping-rooms
were so crowded at times, that it was impossible for the prisoners to
lie down all together for sheer lack of space. Torture was prohibited by
the law of England, but many inhuman keepers used thumb-screws and iron
caps with obnoxious prisoners, for the amusement of themselves and their
boon companions. Several cases of this kind are recorded.

So hideous an outcry arose against these horrors, that at last
Parliament interfered, and passed two bills dealing with prisoners and
their treatment. The first of these provided that when a prisoner was
discharged for want of prosecution he should be immediately set free,
without being called upon to defray any fees claimed by the jailer or
sheriff; while the second bill authorized justices of the peace to see
to the maintenance of cleanliness in the prisons. The first set at
liberty hundreds of innocent persons who were still bound because they
could not meet the ruinous fees demanded from them; while the second
undoubtedly saved the lives of hundreds more. These were instalments of
reform.

Thus it will easily be understood that whatever the condition of
Newgate and other English prisons was, at the date of Mrs. Fry's labors,
they were far better than in previous years. Some attempts had been made
to render these pest-houses less horrible; but for lack of wise,
intelligent management, and occupation for the prisoners, the wards
still presented pictures of Pandemonium. It needed a second reformer to
take up the work where Howard left it, and to labor on behalf of the
convicts; for in too many cases they were looked upon as possessing
neither right nor place on God's earth. In the olden days, some judges
had publicly declared their preference for hanging, because the criminal
would then trouble neither State nor society any further. But in spite
of Tyburn horrors, each week society furnished fresh wretches for the
gallows; whilst those who were in custody were almost regarded as
"fore-doomed and fore-damned."

During the interval which elapsed between Mrs. Fry's short visits to
Newgate in 1813, and the resumption of those visits in 1817, together
with the inauguration of her special work among the convicts, she was
placed in the crucible of trial. Death claimed several relatives; she
suffered long-continued illness, and experienced considerable losses of
property. All these things refined the gold of her character and
discovered its sterling worth. Some natures grow hard and sullen under
trial, others faithless and desponding, and yet others narrow and
reserved. But the genuine gold of a noble disposition comes out brighter
and purer because of untoward events; unsuspected resources are
developed, and the higher nobility becomes discernable. So it was with
Elizabeth Fry. The constitutional timidity of her nature vanished before
the overpowering sense of duty; and literally she looked not at the
seen, but at the unseen, in her calculations of Christian service. Yet
another part of her discipline was the ingratitude with which many of
her efforts were met. This experience is common to all who labor for the
public weal; and from an entry in her journal we can but conclude that
this "serpent's tooth" pierced her very sorely at times. "A constant
lesson to myself is the ingratitude and discontent which I see in many."
Many a reformer could echo these words. But the abiding trial seemed to
be the remembrance of the loss of her little daughter, Elizabeth, who
passed away after a week of suffering, and who was laid to rest in
Barking churchyard. The memory of this five-year old child remained with
her for many years a pure and holy influence, doubtless prompting her
to deal tenderly with the young strayed ones whom she met in her errands
of mercy. How often the memory of "the touch of a vanished hand, and the
sound of a voice that is still," influences our intercourse with the
living, so that while benefiting them we do it as unto and for the dead.



CHAPTER VI.

NEWGATE HORRORS AND NEWGATE WORKERS.


About Christmas 1816, or January 1817, Mrs. Fry commenced her leviathan
task in good earnest. The world had been full of startling events since
her first two or three tentative visits to Newgate; so startling were
they, that even in the refined and sedate quietude of Quakerism there
must have existed intense interest, excitement, and possibly fear. We
know from Isaac Taylor's prolific pen, how absorbing was the idea of
invasion by the French, how real a terror was Bonaparte, and how full of
menace the political horizon appeared. Empires were rising and falling,
wars and tumults were the normal condition of society; the Continent was
in a state of agitation and warfare. Napoleon, the prisoner of Elba, had
returned to Europe, collected an army, and, contesting at Waterloo the
strength of England and Prussia, had fallen. He was now watched and
guarded at St. Helena, while the civilized world began to breathe
freely. The mushroom kingdoms which he had set up were fast tottering,
or had fallen, while the older dynasties of Europe were feeling once
more secure, because the man who hesitated not to sacrifice vast myriads
of human lives to accomplish his own aggrandizement, was now bound, and,
like a tiger in chains, could do nought save growl impotently.

Meanwhile the tide of prison-life went on, without much variation.
Newgate horrors still continued; the gallows-crop never failed; and the
few Acts of Parliament designed to ameliorate the condition of the
prisoners in the jails had almost become dead letters. In 1815 a
deputation of the Jail Committee of the Corporation of London visited
several jails in order to examine into their condition, and to introduce
a little improvement, if possible, into those under their care. This
step led to some alterations; the sexes were separated, and the women
were provided with mats to sleep upon. Visitors were restrained from
having much communication with the prisoners, a double row of gratings
being placed between the criminals and those who came to see them.
Across the space between the gratings it was a common practice for the
prisoners to push wooden spoons, fastened to long sticks, in order to
receive the contributions of friends. Disgusting in its ways, vicious in
act and speech, the social scum which crowded Newgate was repulsive,
dangerous, and vile in the extreme.

It is evident that the circle to which Mrs. Fry belonged was still
interested in philanthropic labors on behalf of the criminal classes,
because we find that Sir Thomas F. Buxton, Mr. Hoare, and several other
friends were busy, in the interval between 1813 and 1816, in
establishing a society for the reformation of juvenile thieves. This
matter of prison discipline was therefore engaging the attention of her
immediate circle. Doubtless, while listening to them, she remembered
most anxiously the miserable women whom she had visited some three years
previously.

It seems that Mrs. Fry succeeded with the women by means of her care for
the children. Low as they were in sin, every spark of maternal affection
had not fled, and they craved for their little ones a better chance than
they had possessed themselves. To a suggestion by Mrs. Fry that a school
should be formed for the benefit of their little ones they eagerly
acceded. This suggestion she left with them for consideration, engaging
to come to a decision at the next visit.

At the next visit she found that the tears of joy with which they had
welcomed the proposition were not feigned. The women had already chosen
a school-mistress from among themselves. A young woman, named Mary
Cormer, who had, although fairly educated, found her way to prison for
stealing a watch, was the person chosen. It is recorded of this young
woman that she became reformed during her stay in Newgate, and so
exemplary did she behave in the character of teacher, that Government
granted her a free pardon; which, however, she did not live long to
enjoy.

It is pleasant to record that the officials aided and furthered this
good work. An empty cell was granted for the school-room, and was
quickly crammed with the youngest of the criminals. After this step had
been taken, a young Friend named Mary Sanderson made her appearance at
Newgate to assist, if it were possible, in the work, but was almost
terrified away again. She informed Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton of her
experiences and terrors at her first encounter with the women: "The
railing was crowded with half-naked women, struggling together for the
front situations with the most boisterous violence, and begging with the
utmost vociferation." She felt as if she were going into a den of wild
beasts, and she well recollects quite shuddering when the door was
closed upon her, and she was locked in with such a herd of novel and
desperate companions.

Could lasting good be effected there? It seemed hopeless. Indeed, at
first it was scarcely dreamt of; but, the stone once set rolling, none
knew where it would stop. Marvellous to say, some of the prisoners
themselves asked for ministrations of this sort. Feeling that they were
as low down in the mire as they could be, they craved a helping hand;
indeed, entreated not to be left out from the benevolent operations
which Mrs. Fry now commenced. The officers of Newgate despaired of any
good result; the people who associated with Mrs. Fry, charitable as they
were, viewed her plans as Utopian and visionary, while she herself
almost quailed at their very contemplation. It also placed a great
strain upon her nervous system to attend women condemned to death. She
wrote: "I have suffered much about the hanging of criminals." And again:
"I have just returned from a melancholy visit to Newgate, where I have
been at the request of Elizabeth Fricker, previous to her execution
to-morrow at 8 o'clock. I found her much hurried, distressed and
tormented in mind. Her hands were cold, and covered with something like
the perspiration which precedes death, and in an universal tremor. The
women who were with her said she had been so outrageous before our
going, that they thought a man must be sent for to manage her. However,
after a serious time with her, her troubled soul became calmed." Another
entry in the same journal casts a lurid light upon the interior of
Newgate. "Besides this poor young woman, there are also six men to be
hanged, one of whom has a wife near her confinement, also condemned, and
seven young children. Since the awful report came down he has become
quite mad from horror of mind. A straight waistcoat could not keep him
within bounds; he had just bitten the turnkey; I saw the man come out
with his hand bleeding as I passed the cell. I hear that another who has
been tolerably educated and brought up, was doing all he could to harden
himself through unbelief, trying to convince himself that religious
truths were idle tales." Contemporary light is cast upon this matter by
a letter which the Hon. G.H. Bennett addressed to the Corporation of
London, relative to the condition of the prison. In it this writer
observed:--

     A man by the name of Kelly, who was executed some weeks back for
     robbing a house, counteracted, by his conversation and by the jests
     he made of all religious subjects, the labors of Dr. Cotton to
     produce repentance and remorse among the prisoners in the cells;
     and he died as he lived, hardened and unrepenting. He sent to me
     the day before his execution, and when I saw him _he maintained the
     innocence of the woman convicted with him_ (Fricker, before
     mentioned), asserting that not her, but a boy concealed, opened
     the door and let him into the house. When I pressed him to tell me
     the names of the parties concerned, whereby to save the woman's
     life, he declined complying without promise of a pardon. I urged as
     strongly as I could the crime of suffering an innocent woman to be
     executed to screen criminal accomplices; but it was all to no
     effect, and he suffered, maintaining to the last the same story.
     With him was executed a lad of nineteen or twenty years of age,
     whose fears and remorse Kelly was constantly ridiculing.

About this time, Mrs. Fry noted in her journal the encouragement she had
received from those who were in authority, as well as the eager and
thankful attitude of the poor women themselves. Kindred spirits were
being drawn around her, ready to participate in her labors of love. In
one place she wrote almost deprecatingly of the publicity which those
labors had won; she feared notoriety, and would, had it been possible,
have worked on alone and unheralded. But perhaps it was as well that
others should learn to coöperate; the task was far too mighty for one
frail pair of hands, while the increased knowledge and interest among
the upper classes of society assisted in procuring the "sinews of war."
For this was a work which could not be successfully carried on without
pounds, shillings and pence. Clothing, books, teachers, and even
officers had to be paid for out of benevolent funds, for not an idea of
the necessity for such funds had ever crossed the civic mind.

A very cheering item, in April, 1817, was the formation of a ladies'
society under the title of "An Association for the Improvement of the
Female Prisoners in Newgate." Eleven Quakeresses and one clergyman's
wife were then banded together. We cannot find the names of these good
women recorded anywhere in Mrs. Fry's journal. The object of this
association was: "To provide for the clothing, instruction, and
employment of the women; to introduce them to a knowledge of the
Scriptures, and to form in them, as much as possible, those habits of
sobriety, order and industry, which may render them docile and peaceable
whilst in prison, and respectable when they leave it." Thus, stone by
stone the edifice was being reared, step by step was gained, and
everything was steadily advancing towards success. The magistrates and
corporation of the city were favorable, and even hopeful; the jail
officials were not unwilling to coöperate, and ladies were anxious to
take up the work. The last thing which remained was to get the assent
and willing submission of the prisoners themselves to the rules which
_must_ be enforced, were any lasting benefit to be conferred; and to
this last step Mrs. Fry was equal.

On a Sunday afternoon, quickly following the formation of the
association, a new and strange meeting was convened inside the old
prison walls. There were present the sheriffs, the ordinary, the
governor, the ladies and the women. Doubtless they looked at each other
with a mixture of wonder, incredulity, and surprise. The gloomy
precincts of Newgate had never witnessed such a spectacle before; the
Samaritans of the great city no longer "passed by on the other side,"
but, at last, had come to grapple with its vice and degradation.

Mrs. Fry read out several rules by which she desired the women to abide;
explaining to them the necessity for their adherence to these rules, and
the extent to which she invited coöperation and assistance in their
enforcement. Unanimously and willingly the prisoners engaged to be bound
by them, as well as to assist each other in obedience. It will interest
the reader to know what these rules were. They were:--

1. That a woman be appointed for the general supervision of the women.

2. That the women be engaged in needlework, knitting, or any other
suitable employment.

3. That there be no begging, swearing, gaming, card-playing,
quarrelling, or universal conversation. That all novels, plays, and
other improper books be excluded; that all bad words be avoided, and
any default in these particulars be reported to the matron.

4. That there be a good yard-keeper, chosen from among the women, to
inform them when their friends come; to see that they leave their work
with a monitor when they go to the grating, and that they do not spend
any time there except with their friends. If any woman be found
disobedient in these respects, the yard-keeper is to report the case to
the matron.

5. That the women be divided into classes of not more than twelve, and
that a monitor be appointed to each class.

6. That the monitors be chosen from among the most orderly of the women
that can read, to superintend the work and conduct of the others.

7. That the monitors not only overlook the women in their own classes,
but, if they observe any others disobeying the rules, that they inform
the monitor of the class to which such persons may belong, who is
immediately to report them to the matron, and the deviations be set down
on a slate.

8. That any monitor breaking the rules shall be dismissed from her
office, and the most suitable in the class selected to take her place.

9. That the monitors be particularly careful to see that women come
with clean hands and faces to their work, and that they are quiet during
their employment.

10. That at the ringing of the bell at nine o'clock in the morning, the
women collect in the work-room to hear a portion of Scripture read by
one of the visitors, or the matron; and that the monitors afterwards
conduct the classes thence to their respective wards in an orderly
manner.

11. That the women be again collected for reading at 6 o'clock in the
evening, when the work shall be given in charge to the matron by the
monitors.

12. That the matron keep an exact account of the work done by the women,
and of their conduct.

As these rules were read out, the women were requested to raise their
hands in token of assent. Not a hand but was held up. In just the same
manner the names of the monitors were received, and the appointments
ratified. After this business had been concluded, one of the visitors
read the twenty-first chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel; and then ensued a
period of solemn silence, according to the custom of the Society of
Friends. After that the newly-elected monitors, at the heads of their
classes, withdrew to their wards.

The work room was an old disused laundry, now granted by the sheriffs,
and fitted up for the purpose. Repaired and whitewashed, it proved a
capital vantage-ground whereon to give battle to the old giants of
Ignorance, Crime and Vice, and ultimately to conquer them.

The next thing was to obtain a sufficiency of work, and at the same time
funds to purchase materials. At first, the most imperative necessity
existed for clothing. For a long time the most ample help came from Mrs.
Fry's own family circle, although many others contributed various sums.
Indeed, the Sheriffs of London on one occasion made a grant of £80
towards these objects, showing thus that, although punitive measures
were more in their way, they were really glad to uphold the hands of
anybody who would deal with the vexed problems which such hordes of
criminals presented.

After the criminals themselves were clothed, their work went to provide
garments for the convicts at Botany Bay. Some tradesmen to whom Mrs. Fry
applied, willingly resigned these branches of their trade, in order to
afford the opportunity of turning the women's industry to account. This
was a decided step gained, as the Corporation then learnt how to make
the prisoners' labors profitable, and at the same time to avert the
mischiefs of vicious idleness.

The ladies tried the school for a month quietly, and found it so
successful that they determined to lay a representation before the
Sheriffs, asking that this newly-formed agency should be taken under the
wing of the Corporation. They wisely considered that the efficiency and
continuance of this part of their scheme would be better ensured if it
were made part and parcel of the City prison system, than by leaving it
to the fluctuating support and management of private benevolence.

In reply to this petition and representation, an answer was received
appointing a meeting with the ladies at Newgate. The meeting took place,
and a session was held according to the usual rules. The visiting
officials were struck with surprise at the altered demeanor of the
inhabitants of this hitherto styled "hell upon earth," and were ready to
grant what Mrs. Fry chose to ask. The whole plan, both school and
manufactory, was adopted as part of the prison system; a cell was
granted to the ladies for punishment of refractory prisoners, together
with power to confine them therein for short intervals; part of the
matron's salary was promised out of the City funds, and benedictions and
praises were lavished on the ladies. This assistance in the matter of a
matron was a decided help, as, prior to her appointment, some of the
ladies spent much of each day in the wards personally superintending
operations. So determined were they to win success, that they even
remained during meal times, eating a little refreshment which they
brought with them. After this appointment, one or two ladies visited the
prison for some time, daily, spending more or less time there in order
to superintend and direct. Some months after this a system of work was
devised for the "untried side," but for various reasons, the success in
that department of Newgate was not as marked. It was found that as long
as prisoners indulged any hope of discharge, they were more careless
about learning industrious and orderly habits.

At this meeting with the civic authorities, Mrs. Fry offered several
suggestions calculated to promote the well-being of the prisoners,
sedately and gently explaining the reasons for the necessity of each.
They ran thus:--

"1. Newgate in great want of room. Women to be under the care of women,
matron, turnkeys, and inspecting committee.

"2. As little communication with their friends as possible; only at
stated times, except in very particular cases.

"3. They must depend on their friends for neither food nor clothing, but
have a sufficiency allowed them of both.

"4. That employment should be a part of their punishment, and be
provided for them by Government. The earnings of work to be partly laid
by, partly laid out in small extra indulgences, and, if enough, part to
go towards their support.

"5. To work and have their meals together, but sleep separate at night,
being classed, with monitors at the head of each class.

"Religious instruction. The kind attention we have had paid us.

"Great disadvantages arise from dependence upon the uncertainty and
fluctuations of the Sheriff's funds; neither soap nor clothing being
allowed without its aid, and the occasional help of charitable people."

Two extracts from the civic records prove how warmly the authorities
received these suggestions, and in what esteem they held Mrs. Fry and
her coadjutors.

                                                SATURDAY, May 3, 1817.

     Committee of Aldermen to consider all matters relating to the jails
     of this city.

     Present--The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, and several
     Aldermen.

     The Committee met agreeably to the resolutions of the 29th ult. at
     the Keeper's House, Newgate, and proceeded from thence, attended by
     the Sheriffs, to take a view of the jail at Newgate.

     The Committee, on viewing that part of it appropriated to the
     female prisoners, were attended by Mrs. Elizabeth Fry and several
     other ladies, who explained to the Committee the steps they had
     adopted to induce the female prisoners to work and to behave
     themselves in a becoming and orderly manner; and several specimens
     of their work being inspected, the Committee were highly gratified.

At another place is the following entry. After giving date of meeting,
and names of committee present, the minute goes on to say:--

     The Committee met at the Mansion House and were attended by Mrs.
     Elizabeth Fry and two other ladies, who were heard in respect of
     their suggestions for the better government of the female prisoners
     in Newgate.

     Resolved unanimously: "That the thanks of this Committee be given
     to Mrs. Fry and the other ladies who have so kindly exerted
     themselves with a view to bettering the condition of the women
     confined in the jail in Newgate, and that they be requested to
     continue their exertions, which have hitherto been attended with
     good effect."

Mrs. Fry's journals contain very few particulars relating to her work at
this precise time. It seemed most agreeable to her to work quietly and
unknown as far as the outside public was concerned. But a lady-worker
who was in the Association has left on record a manuscript journal from
which some extracts may fitly be given here, as they cast valuable light
on both the work and workers.

     We proceeded to the felons' door, the steps of which were covered
     with their friends, who were waiting for admission, laden with the
     various provisions and other articles which they required, either
     as gifts, or to be purchased, as the prisoners might be able to
     afford. We entered with this crowd of persons into an ante-room,
     the walls of which were covered with the chains and fetters
     suspended in readiness for the criminals. A block and hammer were
     placed in the centre of it, on which chains were riveted. The room
     was guarded with blunderbusses mounted on movable carriages. I
     trembled, and was sick, and my heart sunk within me, when a
     prisoner was brought forward to have his chain lightened, because
     he had an inflammation in the ankle. I spoke to him, for he looked
     dejected and by no means ferocious. The turnkey soon opened the
     first gate of entrance, through which we were permitted to pass
     without being searched, in consequence of orders issued by the
     sheriffs. The crowd waited till the men had been searched by the
     turnkeys, and the women by a woman stationed for that purpose in
     the little room by the door of the entrance. These searchers are
     allowed, if they suspect spirits, or ropes, or instruments of
     escape to be concealed about the person, to strip them to ascertain
     the fact. A melancholy detection took place a few days ago. A poor
     woman had a rope found upon her, concealed for the purpose of
     liberating her husband, who was then sentenced to death for highway
     robbery, which sentence was to be put into execution in a few days.
     She was, of course, taken before a magistrate, and ordered into
     Newgate to await her trial. She was a young and pretty little Irish
     woman, with an infant in her arms. After passing the first floor
     into a passage, we arrived at the place where the prisoners'
     friends communicate with them. It may justly be termed a sort of
     iron cage. A considerable space remains between the grating, too
     wide to admit of their shaking hands. They pass into this from the
     airing-yard, which occupies the centre of the quadrangle round
     which the building runs, and into which no persons but the visiting
     ladies, or the persons they introduce, attended by a turnkey, are
     allowed to enter. A little lodge, in which an under turnkey sleeps,
     is also considered necessary to render the entrance secure. This
     yard was clean, and up and down it paraded an emaciated woman, who
     gave notice to the women of the arrival of their friends. Most of
     the prisoners were collected in a room newly appropriated for the
     purpose of hearing a portion of the Sacred Scriptures read to them,
     either by the matron or by one of the ladies' committee--which last
     is far preferable. They assemble when the bell rings, as near nine
     o'clock as possible, following their monitors or wardswomen to the
     forms which are placed in order to receive them. I think I can
     never forget the impression made upon my feelings at this sight.
     Women from every part of Great Britain, of every age and condition
     below the lower middle rank, were assembled in mute silence, except
     when the interrupted breathing of their sucking infants informed us
     of the unhealthy state of these innocent partakers in their
     parents' punishments. The matron read; I could not refrain from
     tears. The women wept also; several were under the sentence of
     death. Swain, who had just received her respite, sat next me; and
     on my left hand sat Lawrence, _alias_ Woodman, surrounded by her
     four children, and only waiting the birth of another, which she
     hourly expects, to pay the forfeit of her life, as her husband has
     done for the same crime a short time before.

     Such various, such acute, and such new feelings passed through my
     mind that I could hardly support the reflection that what I saw was
     only to be compared to an atom in the abyss of vice, and
     consequently misery, of this vast metropolis. The hope of doing the
     least lasting good seemed to vanish, and to leave me in fearful
     apathy. The prisoners left the room in order. Each monitor took
     charge of the work in her class on retiring. We proceeded to other
     wards, some containing forgers, coiners, and thieves; and almost
     all these vices were engrafted on the most deplorable root of
     sinful dissipation. Many of the women are married; their families
     are in some instances permitted to be with them, if very young;
     their husbands, the partners of their crimes, are often found to be
     on the men's side of the prison, or on their way to Botany Bay....

     They appear to be aware of the true value of character, to know
     what is right, and to forsake it in action. Finding these feelings
     yet alive, if properly purified and directed it may become a
     foundation on which a degree of reformation can be built. Thus they
     conduct themselves more calmly and decently to each other, they are
     more orderly and quiet, refrain from bad language, chew tobacco
     more cautiously, surrender the use of the fireplace, permit doors
     and windows to be opened and shut to air or warm the prison,
     reprove their children with less violence, borrow and lend useful
     articles to each other kindly, put on their attire with modesty,
     and abstain from slanderous and reproachful words.

     None among them was so shocking as an old woman, a clipper of the
     coin of the realm, whose daughter was by her side, with her infant
     in her arms, which infant had been born in Bridewell; the
     grandfather was already transported with several branches of his
     family, as being coiners. The old woman's face was full of
     depravity. We next crossed the airing-yard, where many persons were
     industriously engaged at slop-work, for which they are paid, and
     after receiving what they require, the rest is kept for them by the
     Committee, who have a receipt-book, where their earning and their
     expenditure may be seen at any time, by the day or week. On
     entering the untried wards we found the women very different from
     those we had just left. They were quarrelling and very disorderly,
     neither knowing their future fate, nor anything like subordination
     among one another. It resembles the state of the women on the tried
     side before the formation of the Visitors' Association. Not a hand
     was employed, except in mischief. One bold creature was ushered in
     for committing highway robbery. Many convicts were arriving, just
     remanded from the Sessions House, and their dark associates
     received them with applause--such is the unhallowed friendship of
     sin. We left this revolting scene and proceeded to the school-room,
     situated on the untried side of the prison for want of room on the
     tried. The quiet decency of this apartment was quite a relief, for
     about twenty young women arose on our entrance, and stood with
     their eyes cast on the ground.

Another extract from the diary of this lady will be found to describe,
in graphic terms, the visit to the prison recorded in the Corporation
minutes. As one reads the simple and truth-like story, the scene rises
before the mind's eye:--the party of gentlemen upon their semi-official
visit; the awe-stricken prisoners, scarcely comprehending whether this
visit boded ill or well to them; and the little company of quiet, godly,
unfashionable Quaker ladies, who were thus "laying hands" upon the lost
of their sex, in order to reclaim them. Such a picture might well be
transferred to canvas.

     Rose early and visited Newgate, where most of the Committee met to
     receive the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, several Aldermen, and some of
     the Jail Committee. Even the irritable state of city politics does
     not interfere with this attempt at improvement. The women were
     assembled as usual, looking particularly clean, and Elizabeth Fry
     had commenced reading a Psalm, when the whole of this party entered
     this already crowded room. Her reading was thus interrupted for a
     short time. She looked calmly on the approaching gentlemen, who,
     soon perceiving the solemnity of her occupation, stood still midst
     the multitude, whilst Elizabeth Fry resumed her office and the
     women their quietude. In an impressive tone she told them she never
     permitted any trifling circumstance to interrupt the very solemn
     and important engagement of reading the Holy Scriptures; but in
     this instance it appeared unavoidable from the unexpected entrance
     of so many persons, besides which, when opportunity offers, we
     should pay respect to those in authority over us, to those who
     administer justice. She thus, with a Christian prudence peculiar to
     herself, controlled the whole assembly, and subdued the feelings of
     the prisoners, many of whom were but two well acquainted with the
     faces of the magistrates, who were themselves touched and
     astonished at being thus introduced to a state of decorum so new
     within these walls, and could not help acknowledging how admirably
     this mode of treatment was adapted to overcome the evil spirit
     which had so long triumphed there. The usual silence ensued after
     the reading, then the women withdrew. We could not help feeling
     particularly glad that the gentlemen were present at the reading.
     The prisoners crowded around the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to beg
     little favors. We had a long conference with these gentlemen
     relative to this prison and its object, and to the wisest
     regulations for prison discipline, and the causes of crime.
     Indeed, we could not have received more kind and devoted attention
     to what was suggested. Elizabeth Fry's manner seemed to awaken new
     trains of reflection, and to place the individual value of these
     poor creatures before them in a fresh point of view. The Sheriffs
     came to our committee-room. They ordered a cell to be given up to
     the Committee for the temporary confinement of delinquents; it was
     to be made to appear as formidable as possible, and we hope never
     to require it.

     The soldiers who guarded Newgate were, at our own request,
     dismissed. They overlooked the women's wards, and rendered them
     very disorderly.... I found poor Woodman lying-in in the common
     ward, where she had been suddenly taken ill; herself and little
     girl were each doing very well. She was awaiting her execution at
     the end of the month. What can be said of such sights as these?...
     I read to Woodman, who is not in the state of mind we could wish
     for her; indeed, so unnatural is her situation that one can hardly
     tell how, or in what manner, to meet her case. She seems afraid to
     love her baby, and the very health which is being restored to her
     produces irritation of mind.

This last entry furnishes, incidentally, proof of the barbarity of the
laws of Christian England at that time. Human life was of no account
compared with the robbery of a few shillings, or the cutting down of a
tree. This matter of capital punishment, in its turn, attracted the
attention of the Quaker community, together with other philanthropic
individuals, and the statute book was in time freed from many of the
sanguinary enactments which had, prior to that period, disgraced it.

By this time notoriety began to attend Mrs. Fry's labors, and she was
complimented and stared at according to the world's most approved
fashion. The newspapers noticed her work; the people at Court talked
about it; and London citizens began to realize that in this quiet
Quakeress there dwelt a power for good. Given an unusual method of doing
good, noticed by the high in place and power, together with praise or
criticism by the papers, and, like Lord Byron, the worker wakes some
morning to find himself or herself famous. But growing fame did not
agree with Elizabeth Fry's moral or spiritual nature. She possessed far
too noble a soul to be pleased with it; her responsibility and her
success, except so far as they affected the waifs she desired to bless,
were matters for her own conscience, and her God. She mentioned in her
journal her fears whether or not this publicity, and the evident respect
paid her by the people in power in the city, might not develop worldly
pride of self-exaltation in her. Highly-toned and pure as her spirit
was, it shrank from any strain of self-seeking or pride. Only such a
spirit could have conceived such a work of usefulness; only such an one
could endure the inevitable repulsion which attends such work among the
degraded, and conquer.



CHAPTER VII.

EVIDENCE BEFORE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.


Public attention was so far aroused on the subject of prison discipline,
and the condition of criminals, that a Committee of the House of Commons
was appointed to examine into evidence respecting the prisons of the
metropolis. On the 27th of February, 1818, Mrs. Fry was examined by this
Committee, relative to her personal experiences of this work, and her
own labors in connection with it. The clear, calm statements made by her
before this Committee cast considerable light upon her doings, and the
principles upon which she acted. There is no exaggeration, no
braggadocio, no flourish of philanthropy,--simply a straightforward
story of quiet but persistent endeavors to lessen the human misery
within the walls of the prison at Newgate; for, hitherto, her efforts
had been confined to that jail.

"_Query_. You applied to the Committee of the Court of Aldermen?"

"_Ans_. Not at first; I thought it better to try the experiment for a
month, and then to ask them whether they would second us, and adopt our
measures as their own; we, therefore, assembled our women, read over our
rules, brought them work, knitting, and other things, and our
institution commenced; it has now been about ten months. Our rules have
certainly been occasionally broken, but very seldom; order has generally
been observed. I think I may say we have full power among them, for one
of them said it was more terrible to be brought up before me than before
the judge, though we use nothing but kindness. I have never punished a
woman during the whole time, or even proposed a punishment to them; and
yet I think it is impossible in a well-ordered house to have rules more
strictly attended to than they are, as far as I order them, or our
friends in general. With regard to our work, they have made nearly
twenty thousand articles of wearing apparel, the generality of which is
supplied by the slop-shops, which pay very little. Excepting three out
of this number that were missing, which we really do not think owing to
the women, we have never lost a single article. They knit from about
sixty to a hundred pairs of stockings and socks every month; they spin a
little. The earnings of work, we think, average about eighteenpence per
week for each person. This is generally spent in assisting them to live,
and helps to clothe them. For this purpose they subscribe out of their
small earnings of work about four pounds a month, and we subscribe about
eight, which keeps them covered and decent. Another very important point
is the excellent effects we have found to result from religious
education; our habit is constantly to read the Scriptures to them twice
a day. Many of them are taught, and some of them have been enabled to
read a little themselves; it has had an astonishing effect. I never saw
the Scriptures received in the same way, and to many of them they have
been entirely new, both the great system of religion and morality
contained in them; and it has been very satisfactory to observe the
effect upon their minds. When I have sometimes gone and said it was my
intention to read, they would flock up-stairs after me, as if it were a
great pleasure I had to afford them."

"You have confined yourself to reading the Scriptures, and pointing out
generally the moral lessons that might be derived from them?"

"Yes, generally so."

"Without inculcating any particular doctrine?"

"Nothing but the general Scripture doctrine; in short, they are not
capable of receiving any other."

"Nothing but the morals of the Scripture,--the duties towards God and
man?"

"That is all; we are very particular in endeavoring to keep close to
that. We consider, from the situation we fill, as it respects the
public, as well as the poor creatures themselves, that it would be
highly indecorous to press any particular doctrine of any kind, anything
beyond the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. We have had considerable
satisfaction in observing, not only the improved state of the women in
the prison, but we understand from the governor and clergyman at the
penitentiary, that those who have been under our care are very different
from those who come from other prisons. We also may state that when they
left Newgate to go to Botany Bay, such a thing was never known in the
prison before as the quietness and order with which they left it;
instead of tearing down everything, and burning it, it was impossible to
leave it more peaceably. And as a proof that their moral and religious
instruction have had some effect upon their minds, when those poor
creatures were going to Botany Bay, the little fund we allowed them to
collect for themselves, in a small box under our care, they entreated
might all be given to those that were going, those who remained saying
that they wished to give up their little share of the profit to the
others."

"Do you know anything of the room and accommodation for the women in
1815?"

"I do not; I did not visit it in that year."

"What was it in 1817?"

"Not nearly room enough. If we had room enough to class them, I think a
very great deal more might be accomplished. We labor very much in the
day, and we see the fruit of our labor: but if we could separate them in
the night, I do think that we could not calculate upon the effect which
would be produced."

"At present, those convicted for all offenses pass the day together?"

"Very much so; very much intermixed, old and young, hardened offenders
with those who have committed only a minor crime, or the first crime;
the very lowest of women with respectable married women and
maid-servants. It is more injurious than can be described, in its
effects and in its consequences. One little instance to prove how
beneficial it is to take care of the prisoners, is afforded by the case
of a poor woman, for whom we have obtained pardon (Lord Sidmouth having
been very kind to us whenever we have applied for the mitigation of
punishment since our committee has been formed). We taught her to knit
in the prison; she is now living respectably out of it, and in part
gains her livelihood by knitting. We generally endeavor to provide for
them in degree when they go out. One poor woman to whom we lent money,
comes every week to my house, and pays two shillings, as honestly and as
punctually as we could desire. We give part, and lend part, to accustom
them to habits of punctuality and honesty."

"Is that woman still in Newgate, whose husband was executed, and she
herself condemned to death, having eight children?"

"She is."

"Has not her character been very materially changed since she has been
under your care?"

"I heard her state to a gentleman going through the other day, that it
had been a very great blessing to her at Newgate, and I think there has
been a very great change in her. Her case is now before Lord Sidmouth,
but we could hardly ask for her immediate liberation."

"What reward, or hope of reward, do you hold out?"

"Rewards form one part of our plan. They not only have the earning of
their work, but we endeavor to stimulate them by a system of marks. We
divide our women into classes, with a monitor over every class, and our
matron at the head. It is the duty of every monitor to take up to the
matron every night an account of the conduct of her class, which is set
down; and if they have a certain number of what we call good marks at
the end of any fixed period, they have for rewards such prizes as we
think proper to give them--generally small articles of clothing, or
Bibles and Testaments."

"Be so good as to state, as nearly as you can, what proportion of the
women, without your assistance, would be in a state of extreme want?"

"It is difficult to say; but I think we average the number of eighty
tried women. Perhaps out of that number twenty may live very well,
twenty very badly, and the others are supported by their friends in some
degree. When I say twenty who live very well, I mention, perhaps, too
large a number--perhaps not above ten. I think their receiving support
from out-of-doors is most injurious, as it respects their moral
principles, and everything else, as it respects the welfare of the city.
There are some very poor people who will almost starve at home, and be
induced to do that which is wrong, in order to keep their poor relations
who are in prison. It is an unfair tax on such people; in addition to
which, it keeps up an evil communication, and, what is more, I believe
they often really encourage the crime by it for which they are put into
prison; for these very people, and especially the coiners and passers of
bank-notes, are supported by their associates in crime, so that it
really tends to keep up their bad practices."

"Do you know whether there is any clothing allowed by the city?"

"Not any. Whenever we have applied or mentioned anything about clothing,
we have always found that there was no other resource but our own,
excepting that the sheriffs used to clothe the prisoners occasionally.
Lately, nobody has clothed them but ourselves; except that the late
sheriffs sent us the other day a present of a few things to make up for
them."

"There is no regular clothing allowed?"

"It appears to me that there is none of any kind."

"Have you never had prisoners there who have suffered materially for
want of clothing?"

"I could describe such scenes as I should hardly think it delicate to
mention. We had a woman the other day, on the point of lying-in, brought
to bed not many hours after she came in. She had hardly a covering; no
stockings, and only a thin gown. Whilst we are there, we can never see a
woman in that state without immediately applying to our fund."

"When they come in they come naked, almost?"

"Yes, this woman came in, and we had to send her up almost every
article of clothing, and to clothe her baby. She could not be tried the
next sessions, but after she had been tried, and when she was
discharged, she went out comfortably clothed; and there are many such
instances."

"Has it not happened that when gentlemen have come in to see the prison,
you have been obliged to stand before the women who were in the prison
in a condition not fit to be seen?"

"Yes, I remember one instance in which I was obliged to stand before one
of the women to prevent her being seen. We sent down to the matron
immediately to get her clothes."

"How long had the woman been in jail?"

"Not long; for we do not, since we have been there, suffer them to be a
day without being clothed?"

"What is the average space allowed to each woman to lie upon, taking the
average number in the prison?"

"I cannot be accurate, not having measured; from eighteen inches to two
feet, I should think."

"By six feet?"

"Yes. I believe the moral discipline of a prison can never be complete
while they are allowed to sleep together in one room. If I may be
allowed to state it, I should prefer a prison where women were allowed
to work together in companies, under proper superintendence; to have
their meals together, and their recreation also; but I would always have
them separated in the night. I believe it would conduce to the health
both of body and mind. Their being in companies during the day, tends,
under proper regulations, to the advancement of principle and industry,
for it affords a stimulus. I should think solitary confinement proper
only in atrocious cases. I would divide every woman for a few weeks,
until I knew what they were, but I would afterwards regulate them as I
have before mentioned."

"Has gaming entirely ceased?"

"It has of late: they have once been found gaming since we had care of
the prison, but I called the women up when I found that some of them had
been playing at cards, and represented to them how much I objected to
it, and how evil I thought its consequence was, especially to them; at
the same time I stated that if there were cards in the prison, I should
consider it a proof of their regard if they would have the candor and
the kindness to bring me their packs. I did not expect they would do it,
for they would feel they had betrayed themselves by it; however, I was
sitting with the matron, and heard a gentle tap at the door, and in
came a trembling woman to tell me she had brought her pack of cards,
that she was not aware how wrong it was, and hoped I would do what I
liked with them. In a few minutes another came up, and in this way I had
five packs of cards burnt. I assured them that so far from its being
remembered against them, I should remember them in another way. I
brought them a present of clothing for what they had done, and one of
them, in a striking manner, said she hoped I would excuse her being so
forward, but, if she might say it, she felt exceedingly disappointed;
she little thought of having clothing given her, but she had hoped I
would give her a Bible, that she might read the Scriptures. This had
been one of the worst girls, and she had behaved so very badly upon her
trial that it was almost shameful. She conducted herself afterwards in
so amiable a manner, that her conduct was almost without a flaw. She is
now in the Penitentiary, and, I hope, will become a valuable member of
society."

"You have stated three things which to your mind are essential to the
reformation of a prison: first, religious instruction; secondly,
classification; thirdly, employment. Do you think that any reformation
can be accomplished without employment?"

"I should believe it impossible; we may instruct as we will, but if we
allow them their time, and they have nothing to do, they must naturally
return to their evil practices."

"How many removals of female prisoners have you had in the last year, in
Newgate; how many gone to Botany Bay?"

"Eighteen women; and thirty-seven to the Penitentiary."

"Can you state out of what number of convicts these have been in the
course of a year?"

"I do not think I can; but, of course, out of many hundreds."

"In fact, has there been only one regular removal within the last year?"

"But one. There is one very important thing which ought to be stated on
the subject of women taking care of women. It has been said that there
were three things which were requisite in forming a prison that would
really tend to the reformation of the women; but there is a fourth, viz:
that women should be taken care of entirely by women, and have no male
attendants, unless it be a medical man or any minister of religion. For
I am convinced that much harm arises from the communication, not only to
the women themselves, but to those who have the care of them."

"In the present arrangement is it not so with regard to the women?"

"It is very nearly so; but if I had a prison completely such as I
should like it, it would be a prison quite apart from the men's prison,
and into which neither turnkeys nor anyone else should enter but female
attendants and the Inspecting Committee of Ladies, except, indeed, such
gentlemen as come to look after their welfare."

"In what does the turnkey interfere now with the prison?"

"Very little; and yet there is a certain intercourse which it is
impossible for us to prevent. And it must be where there is a prison for
women and men, and there are various officers who are men in the prison;
it is impossible that they should be entirely separate. In the present
state of Newgate such a plan as I have in my mind respecting the proper
management of women prisoners cannot be put into execution. We must have
turnkeys and a governor to refer to; but I should like to have a prison
which had nothing to do with men, except those who attended them
spiritually or medically."

"Do you believe men to be as much excluded from all communication with
the women now as is possible in the present state of Newgate?"

"Yes, I think very nearly so. My idea with regard to the employment of
women is, that it should be a regular thing undertaken by Government,
considering (though, perhaps, I am not the person to speak of that) that
there are so many to provide for; there is the army and navy, and so
many things to provide for them; why should not the Government make use
of the prisoners? But I consider it of the utmost importance, and quite
indispensable for the conduct of these institutions, that the prisoners
should have part of the earnings of their work for their own use; a part
they might be allowed to take for tea, sugar, etc., but a part should be
laid by that there maybe some provision for them when they leave the
prison, without their returning to their immoral practices. This is the
case, I believe, in all prisons well regulated, both on the continent of
Europe and America. In a prison under proper regulation, where they had
very little communication with their friends, where they were
sufficiently well fed and clothed, constantly employed and instructed,
and taken care of by women, I have not the least doubt that wonders
would be performed, and that many of those, now the most profligate and
worst of characters, would turn out valuable members of society. After
having said what I have respecting the care of women, I will just add
that I believe that if there were a prison fitted up for us, which we
might visit as inspectors, if employment were found for our women,
little or no communication with the city, and room given to class them,
with female servants only, if there were a thousand of the most unruly
women they would be in excellent order in one week; of that I have not
the least doubt."

The natural consequence of this evidence was increased publicity and
increased usefulness; the first to Mrs. Fry's sorrow, and the second to
her great joy. Much as she desired to work in secret, it was not
possible; nor, all things considered, was it for the best that she
should do so. The prison reform which she desired to see carried out was
destined to cover, and indeed, required a larger area than she could
obtain. But the fame of her improvements at Newgate, the tales of lions
being turned into lambs, and sinners into saints, by the exertions of
this woman and her band of helpers, caught the ear and thrilled the
heart of the public. The excitement produced among the community
deepened and intensified as more of the work became revealed.
Representatives of every class in society visited the gloomy precincts
of Newgate, in order to see and hear for themselves how far these
wonders extended, while at every hospital and fashionable board the
theme was ever the same. At one time Mrs. Fry was at Newgate in company
with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other celebrities; while at
another time she appeared at the Mansion House, honored by royalty, the
"observed of all observers." The Queen of England, among others, was
anxious to see and converse with the woman who had with such quiet power
succeeded in solving a great social problem, and that where municipal
authorities had failed.

Mrs. Fry, although belonging to that religious community which takes not
off the hat to royalty, possessed loyal feelings. Therefore, when Queen
Charlotte commanded her to appear at the Mansion House, in order to be
formerly presented to her, with true womanly grace and respect she
hastened to obey. It was intended that the presentation should have
taken place in the drawing-room, but by some mistake Mrs. Fry was
conducted to the Egyptian Hall, where a number of school-children were
waiting to be examined. Mrs. Fry occupied a post near the platform; and
after a little time the Queen, now aged and infirm, perceived her. As
soon as the examination of the children was over she advanced to Mrs.
Fry. Her Majesty's small figure, her dress blazing with diamonds, her
courtesy and kindness as she spoke to the now celebrated Quakeress, who
stood outwardly calm in the costume of her creed, and just a little
flushed with the unwonted excitement, attracted universal homage.
Around stood several bishops, peers, and peeresses; the hall was filled
with spectators, while outside the crowd surged and swayed as crowds are
wont to do. For a few moments the two women spoke together; then the
strict rules of etiquette were overcome by the enthusiasm of the
assembly and a murmur of applause, followed by a ringing English cheer,
went up. This cheer was repeated by the crowd outside, again and again,
while the most worldly butterfly that ever buzzed and fluttered about a
court learnt that day that there was in goodness and benevolence
something better than fashion and nobler than rank. This was almost, if
not quite, Queen Charlotte's last public appearance; she very soon
afterwards passed to her rest, "old and full of days."

Ever true to her own womanly instincts, we find Mrs. Fry lamenting, in
her journal, that herself and the prison are becoming quite a show; yet,
on the other hand, she recognized the good of this inconvenience,
inasmuch as the work spread among all classes of society. Various
opinions were passed upon her, and on one occasion a serious
misunderstanding with Lord Sidmouth, respecting a case of capital
punishment, severely tried her constancy. Some carping critics found
fault, others were envious, others censorious and shallow; but neither
good report nor evil report moved her very greatly, although possibly at
times they were the subject of much inward struggle.

This question of Prison Reform at last reached Parliament. In June,
1818, the Marquis of Lansdowne moved an address to the Prince Regent,
asking an inquiry into the state of the prisons of the United Kingdom.
He made a remarkable speech, quoting facts relating to the miseries of
the jails, and concluded with a high eulogium on Mrs. Fry's labors among
the criminals of Newgate, giving her the title "Genius of Good." This
step drew public attention still more to the matter and prison-visiting
and prison reform became the order of the day. As public attention had
been aroused, and public sympathy had been gained for the cause, it is
not wonderful that beneficial legislative measures were at last carried.

Meanwhile the ladies continued their good work. It was one of the
cardinal points of their creed, that it was not good for the criminals
to have much intercourse with their friends outside. In past times
unlimited beer had been carried into Newgate; at least the quantity so
disposed of was only limited by the amount of ready cash or credit at
the disposal of the criminals and their friends. This had been stopped
with the happiest results, and now it seemed time to adopt some measures
which should secure some little additional comfort for the prisoners. In
order to effect this a sub-matron, or gate-keeper, was engaged, who
assisted in the duties at the lodge, and kept a small shop "between
gates," where tea, sugar, and other little comforts could be purchased
by the prisoners out of their prison earnings. This step was a
successful one, for with the decrease of temptation from without, came
an increase of comfort from within, provided they earned money and
obeyed rules. Plenty of work could be done, seeing that they all
required more or less clothing, while Botany Bay could take any number
of garments to be utilized for the members of the penal settlement
there.

Two months after Lord Lansdowne's motion was made in Parliament, Mrs.
Fry, together with Joseph John Gurney, his wife, and her own daughter,
Rachel, went into Scotland on a religious and philanthropic tour. The
chief object of this journey seems to have been the visitation of
Friends' Meetings in that part of the kingdom; but the prison enterprise
was by no means forgotten. In her journal she records visits to meetings
of Friends held at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Knowsley.
At the latter place they were guests of the Earl of Derby, and much
enjoyed the palatial hospitality which greeted them. They made a point
of visiting most of the jails and bridewells in the towns through which
they passed, finding in some of them horrors far surpassing anything
that Newgate could have shown them even in its unreformed days. At
Haddington four cells, allotted to prisoners of the tramp and criminal
class, were "very dark, excessively dirty, had clay floors, no
fire-places, straw in one corner for a bed, and in each of them a tub,
the receptacle for all filth." Iron bars were used upon the prisoners so
as to become instruments of torture. In one cell was a poor young man
who was a lunatic--whence nobody knew. He had been subject to the misery
and torture of Haddington jail for eighteen months, without once leaving
his cell for an airing. No clothes were allowed, no medical man attended
those who were incarcerated, and a chaplain never entered there, while
the prison itself was destitute of any airing-yard. The poor debtors,
whether they were few or many, were all confined in one small cell not
nine feet square, where one little bed served for all.

At Kinghorn, Fifeshire, a young laird had languished in a state of
madness for six years in the prison there, and had at last committed
suicide. Poor deranged human nature flew to death as a remedy against
torture. At Forfar, prisoners were chained to the bedstead; at Berwick,
to the walls of their cells; and at Newcastle to a ring in the floor.
The two most objectionable features in Scotch prisons, as appears from
Mr. Gurney's "Notes" of this tour, were the treatment of debtors, and
the cruelties used to lunatics. Both these classes of individuals were
confined as criminals, and treated with the utmost cruelty.

According to Scotch law, the jailer and magistrates who committed the
debtor became responsible for the debt, supposing the prisoner to have
effected his escape. Self-interest, therefore, prompted the adoption of
cruel measures to ensure the detention of the unfortunate debtor; while
helpless lunatics were wholly at the mercy of brutalized keepers who
were responsible to hardly any tribunal. Of the horrors of that dark,
terrible time within those prison-walls, few records appear; few cared
to probe the evil, or to propose a remedy. The archives of Eternity
alone contain the captive's cries, and the lamentations of tortured
lunatics. Only one Eye penetrated the dungeons; one Ear heard. Was not
Elizabeth Fry and her coadjutors doing a god-like work? And when she
raised the clarion cry that _Reformation_, not _Revenge_, was the object
of punishment, she shook these old castles of Giant Despair to their
foundations.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE GALLOWS AND ENGLISH LAWS.


About this period the subject of Capital Punishment largely attracted
Mrs. Fry's attention. The attitude of Quakers generally towards the
punishment of death, except for murder in the highest degree, was
hostile; but Mrs. Fry's constant intercourse with inmates in the
condemned cell fixed her attention in a very painful manner upon the
subject. For venial crimes, men and women, clinging fondly to life, were
swung off into eternity; and neither the white lips of the
philanthropist, nor the official ones of the appointed chaplain, could
comfort the dying. Among these dying ones were many women, who were
executed for simply passing forged Bank of England notes; but as the
bank had plenary powers to arrange to screen certain persons who were
not to die, these were allowed to get off with a lighter punishment by
pleading "Guilty to the minor count." The condemned cell was never,
however, without its occupant, nor the gallows destitute of its prey. So
Draconian were the laws of humane and Christian England, at this date,
that had they been strictly carried out, at least four executions daily,
exclusive of Sundays, would have taken place in this realm.

According to Hepworth Dixon, and contemporary authorities, the
sanguinary measures of the English Government for the punishment of
crimes dated from about the time of the Jacobite rebellion, in 1745.
Prior to that time, adventurers of every grade, the idle, vicious, and
unemployed, had found an outlet for their turbulence and their energies
in warfare--engaging on behalf of the Jacobites, or the Government,
according as it suited their fancy. But when the House of Hanover
conquered, and the trade of war became spoiled within the limits of
Great Britain, troops of these discharged soldiers took to a marauding
life; the high roads became infested with robbers, and crimes of
violence were frequent. Alarmed at the license displayed by these
Ishmaelites, the Government of the day arrayed its might against them,
enacting such sanguinary measures that at first sight it seemed as if
the deliberate intent were to literally cut them off and root them out
from the land. That era was indeed a bloodthirsty one in English
jurisprudence.

Enactments were passed in the reign of the second George, whereby it
was made a capital crime to rob the mail, or any post-office; to kill,
steal, or drive away any sheep or cattle, with intention to steal, or to
be accessory to the crime. The "Black Act," first passed in the reign of
George I., and enlarged by George II., punished by hanging, the hunting,
killing, stealing, or wounding any deer in any park or forest; maiming
or killing any cattle, destroying any fish or fish-pond, cutting down or
killing any tree planted in any garden or orchard, or cutting any
hop-bands in hop plantations. Forgery, smuggling, coining, passing bad
coin, or forged notes, and shop-lifting; all were punishable by death.
From a table published by Janssen, and quoted from Hepworth Dixon, we
find that in twenty-three years, from 1749 to 1771, eleven hundred and
twenty-one persons were condemned to death in London alone. The offenses
for which these poor wretches received sentence included those named
above, in addition to seventy-two cases of murder, two cases of riot,
one of sacrilege, thirty-one of returning from transportation, and four
of enlisting for foreign service. Of the total number condemned, six
hundred and seventy-eight were actually hanged, while the remainder
either died in prison, were transported, or pardoned. As four hundred
and one persons were transported, a very small number indeed obtained
deliverance either by death or pardon. In fact, scarcely any extenuating
circumstances were allowed; so that in some cases cruelty seemed
actually to have banished justice. It is recorded, as one of these
cases, that a young woman with a babe at the breast, was hanged for
stealing from a shop a piece of cloth of the value of five shillings.
The poor woman was the destitute wife of a young man whom the press-gang
had captured and carried off to sea, leaving her and her babe to the
mercy of the world. Utterly homeless and starving, she stole to buy
food; but a grateful country requited the services of the sailor-husband
by hanging the wife.

The _certainty_ of punishment became nullified by the _severity_ of the
laws. Humane individuals hesitated to prosecute, especially for forgery;
while juries seized upon every pretext to return verdicts of "Not
guilty." Reprieves were frequent, for the lives of many were
supplicated, and successfully; so that the death-penalty was commuted
into transportation. Caricaturists, writers, philanthropists,
divines--all united in the chorus of condemnation against the bloody
enactments which secured such a crop for the gallows. Men, women, girls,
lads and idiots, all served as food for it. Jack Ketch had a merry time
of it, while society looked on well pleased, for the most part. Those
appointed to sit in the seat of justice sometimes defended this state of
things. One of the worthies of the "good old times"--Judge
Heath--notorious because of his partiality for hanging, is reported to
have said: "If you imprison at home, the criminal is soon thrown back
upon you hardened in guilt. If you transport you corrupt infant
societies, and sow the seeds of atrocious crimes over the habitable
globe. There is no regenerating a felon in this life. And, for his own
sake, as well as for the sake of society, I think it better to hang."

As a caricaturist George Cruikshank entered the field, and waged battle
on behalf of the poor wretches who swung at the gallows for passing
forged Bank of England notes. He drew a note resembling the genuine one,
and entitled it "Bank note, _not_ to be imitated." A copy of this
caricature now lies before us. It bears on its face a representation of
a large gallows, from which eleven criminals, three of whom are women,
are dangling, dead. In the upper left hand corner, Britannia is
represented as surrounded by starving, wailing creatures, and surmounted
by a hideous death's head. Underneath is a rope coiled around the
portraits of twelve felons who have suffered; while, running down, to
form a border, are fetters arranged in zig-zag fashion. Across the note
run these words, "_Ad lib., ad lib._, I promise to perform during the
issue of Bank notes easily imitated, and until the resumption of cash
payments, or the abolition of the punishment of death, for the Governors
and Company of the Bank of England.--J. KETCH." The note is a unique
production, and must have created an enormous sensation. Cruikshank's
own story, writing in 1876, is this:--

     Fifty-eight years back from this date there were one-pound Bank of
     England notes in circulation, and, unfortunately, many forged notes
     were in circulation also, or being passed, the punishment for which
     offense was in some cases transportation, in others DEATH. At this
     period, having to go early to the Royal Exchange one morning, I
     passed Newgate jail, and saw several persons suspended from the
     gibbet; _two_ of these were women who had been executed for passing
     one-pound forged notes.

     I determined, if possible, to put a stop to such terrible
     punishments for such a crime, and made a sketch of the above note,
     and then an etching of it.

     Mr. Hone published it, and it created a sensation. The Directors of
     the Bank of England were exceedingly wroth. The crowd around Hone's
     shop in Ludgate Hill was so great that the Lord Mayor had to send
     the police to clear the street. The notes were in such demand that
     they could not be printed fast enough, and I had to sit up all one
     night to etch another plate. Mr. Hone realized above £700, and I
     had the satisfaction of knowing that no man or woman was ever
     hanged after this for passing one-pound Bank of England notes.

     The issue of my "Bank Note note not to be Imitated" not only put a
     stop to the issue of any more Bank of England one-pound notes, but
     also put a stop to the punishment of death for such an offense--not
     only for that, but likewise for forgery--and then the late Sir
     Robert Peel revised the penal code; so that the final effect of my
     note was to stop hanging for all minor offenses, and has thus been
     the means of saving thousands of men and women from being hanged.

It may be that the great caricaturist claims almost too much when he
says that the publication of his note eventually stopped hanging for all
minor offenses; but certainly there is no denying that this publication
was an important factor in the agitation.

It is said that George III. kept a register of all the cases of capital
punishment, that he entered in it all names of felons sentenced to
death, with dates and particulars of convictions, together with remarks
upon the reasons which induced him to sign the warrants. It is also said
that he frequently rose from his couch at night to peruse this fatal
list, and that he shut himself up closely in his private apartments
during the hours appointed for the execution of criminals condemned to
death.

Tyburn ceased to be the place of execution for London in 1783; from that
year Newgate witnessed most of these horrors.

Philanthropists of every class were, at the period of Mrs. Fry's career
now under review, considering this matter of capital punishment, and
taking steps to restrain the infliction of the death penalty. The Gurney
family among Quakers, William Wilberforce, Sir James Mackintosh, Sir
Samuel Romilly, and others, were all working hard to this end. In 1819
William Wilberforce presented a petition from the Society of Friends to
Parliament against death punishment for crimes other than murder.
Writing at later dates upon this subject, Joseph John Gurney says: "I
cannot say that my spirit greatly revolts against life for life, though
capital punishment for anything short of this appears to me to be
execrable." And, again, "I cannot in conscience take any step towards
destroying the life of a fellow-creature whose crime against society
affects my property only. I am in possession, like other men, of the
feelings of common humanity, and to aid and abet in procuring the
destruction of any man living would be to me extremely distressing and
horrible." As a banker, Mr. Gurney felt that the punishment for forgery
should be heavy and sharp, but less than death. In the Houses of
Parliament various efforts were made to obtain the commutation of the
death penalty, and when in 1810 the Peers rejected Sir Samuel Romilly's
bill to remove the penalty for shop-lifting, the Dukes of Sussex and
Gloucester joined some of the Peers in signing a protest against the
law. The time appeared to be ripe for agitation; all classes of society
reverenced human life more than of old, and desired to see it held less
cheap by the ministers of justice.

According to Mrs. Fry's experience, the punishment of death tended
neither to the security of the people, the reformation of any prisoner,
nor the diminution of crime. Felons who suffered death for light
offenses looked upon themselves as martyrs--martyrs to a cruel law--and
believed that they had but to meet death with fortitude to secure a
blissful hereafter. This fearful opiate carried many through the
terrible ordeal outwardly calm and resigned.

Among the condemned ones was Harriet Skelton, a woman who had been
detected passing forged Bank of England notes. She was described as
prepossessing, "open, confiding, expressing strong feelings on her
countenance, but neither hardened in depravity nor capable of cunning."
Her behavior in prison was exceptionally good; so good, indeed, that
some of the depraved inmates of Newgate supposed her to have been
condemned to death because of her fitness for death. She had evidently
been more sinned against than sinning; the man whom she lived with, and
who was ardently loved by her, had used her as his instrument for
passing these false notes. Thus she had been lured to destruction.

After the decision had been received from the Lords of the Council,
Skelton was taken into the condemned cell to await her doom. To this
cell came numerous visitors, attracted by compassion for the poor
unfortunate who tenanted it, and each one eager to obtain the
commutation of the cruel sentence. It was one thing to read of one or
another being sentenced to death, but quite another to behold a woman,
strong in possession of, and desire for life, fated to be swung into
eternity before many days because of circulating a false note at the
behest of a paramour. Mrs. Fry needed not the many persuasions she
received to induce her to put forth the most unremitting exertions on
behalf of Skelton. She obtained an audience of the Duke of Gloucester,
and urged every circumstance which could be urged in extenuation of the
crime, entreating for the woman's life. The royal duke remembered the
old days at Norwich, when Elizabeth had been know in fashionable society
and had figured somewhat as a belle, and he bent a willing ear to her
request. He visited Newgate, escorted by Mrs. Fry, and saw for himself
the agony in that condemned cell. Then he accompanied her to the bank
directors, and applied to Lord Sidmouth personally, but all in vain. It
was not blood for blood, nor life for life, but blood for "filthy
lucre;" so the poor woman was hung in obedience to the inexorable
ferocity of the law and its administrators.

On this occasion Mrs. Fry was seriously distressed in mind. She had
vehemently entreated for the poor creature's life, stating that she had
had the offer of pleading guilty only to the minor count, but had
foolishly rejected it in hope of obtaining a pardon. The question at
issue on this occasion was the power of the bank directors to virtually
decide as to the doom of the accused ones. Mrs. Fry made assertions and
gave instances which Lord Sidmouth assumed to doubt. Further than this,
he was seriously annoyed at the noise this question of capital
punishment was making in the land, and though not necessarily a cruel or
blood-thirsty man, the Home Secretary shrank from meddling too much with
the criminal code of England. This misunderstanding was a source of deep
pain to the philanthropist, and, accompanied by Lady Harcourt, she
endeavored to remove Lord Sidmouth's false impressions, but in vain.
While smarting under this wound, received in the interests of humanity,
she had to go to the Mansion House by command of Her Majesty Queen
Charlotte, to be presented. Thus, very strangely, and against her will,
she was thrust forward into the very foremost places of public
observation and repute. She recorded the matter in her journal, in her
own characteristic way:--

     "Yesterday I had a day of ups and downs, as far as the opinions of
     man are concerned, in a remarkable degree. I found that there was a
     grievous misunderstanding between Lord Sidmouth and myself, and
     that some things I had done had tried him exceedingly; indeed, I
     see that I have mistaken my conduct in some particulars respecting
     the case of poor Skelton, and in the efforts made to save her life,
     I too incautiously spoke of some in power. When under great
     humiliation in consequence of this, Lady Harcourt, who most kindly
     interested herself in the subject, took me with her to the Mansion
     House, rather against my will, to meet many of the royal family at
     the examination of some large schools. Among the rest, the Queen
     was there. There was quite a buzz when I went into the Egyptian
     Hall, where one or two thousand people were collected; and when the
     Queen came to speak to me, which she did very kindly, I am told
     that there was a general clapp. I think I may say this hardly
     raised me at all; I was so very low from what had occurred
     before.... My mind has not recovered this affair of Lord Sidmouth,
     and finding that the bank directors are also affronted with me
     added to my trouble, more particularly as there was an appearance
     of evil in my conduct; but, I trust, no greater fault in reality
     than a want of prudence in that which I expressed."

The Society of Friends had always been opposed to capital punishment.
Ten years previously, Sir Samuel Romilly had determined to attack these
sanguinary enactments, one by one, in order to ensure success. He began,
therefore, with the Act of Queen Elizabeth, "which made it a capital
offense to steal privately from the person of another." William Alien
records in the same year, 1808, the formation of a "Society for
Diffusing Information on the Subject of Punishment by Death." This
little band worked with Sir Samuel until his painful death in 1818;
while Dr. Parr, Jeremy Bentham, and Dugald Stewart aided the enterprise
by words of encouragement, both in public and in private. In Joseph John
Gurney's Memoirs, it is stated that Dr. Lushington declared his opinion
that the poor criminal was thus hurried out of life and into eternity by
means of the perpetration of another crime far greater, for the most
part, than any which the sufferer had committed.

The feeling grew, and in place of the indifference and scorn of human
life which had formerly characterized society, there sprang up an eager
desire to save life, except for the crime of murder. In May, 1821, Sir
James Mackintosh introduced a bill for "Mitigating the Severity of
Punishment in Certain Cases of Forgery, and Crimes connected
therewith." Buxton, in advocating this measure, says truly:

     The people have made enormous strides in all that tends to civilize
     and soften mankind, while the laws have contracted a ferocity which
     did not belong to them in the most savage period of our history;
     and, to such extremes of distress have they proceeded that I do
     believe there never was a law so harsh as British law, or so
     merciful and humane a people as the British people. And yet to this
     mild and merciful people is left the execution of that rigid and
     cruel law.

This measure was defeated, but the numbers of votes were so nearly
equal, that the defeat was actually a victory.

Time went on. In 1831, Sir Robert Peel took up the gauntlet against
capital punishment, and endeavored to induce Parliament to abolish the
death-penalty for forgery; the House of Commons voted its abolition, but
the Lords restored the clauses retaining the penalty. One thousand
bankers signed a petition praying that the vote of the Commons might be
sustained, but in vain; still, in deference to public opinion, after
this the death-penalty was not inflicted upon a forger. Nevertheless,
there remained plenty of food for the gallows. An incendiary, as well as
a sheep-stealer, was liable to capital punishment; and so severely was
the law strained upon these points, that he who set fire to a rick in a
field, as well as he who found a half-dead sheep and carried it home,
was condemned without mercy. But the advocates of mercy continued their
good work until, finally, the gallows became the penalty for only those
offenses which concerned human life and high treason.



CHAPTER IX.

CONVICT SHIPS AND CONVICT SETTLEMENTS.


More work opened before the indefatigable worker. Frequently batches of
female convicts were despatched to New South Wales, and, according to
the custom at Newgate, departure was preceded by total disregard of
order. Windows, furniture, clothing, all were wantonly destroyed; while
the procession from the prison to the convict ship was one of brutal,
debasing riot. The convicts were conveyed to Deptford, in open wagons,
accompanied by the rabble and scum of the populace. These crowds
followed the wagons, shouting to the prisoners, defying all regulations,
and inciting them to more defiance of rules. Some of the convicts were
laden with irons; others were chained together by twos. Mrs. Fry
addressed herself first to the manner of departure, and, rightly judging
that the open wagons conduced to much disorder, prevailed on the
governor of Newgate to engage hackney-coaches for the occasion. Further,
she promised the women that, provided they would behave in an orderly
manner, she, together with a few other ladies, would accompany them to
the ship. Faithful to her promise, her carriage closed the line of
hackney-coaches; three or four ladies were with her, and thus, in a
fashion at once strangely quiet and novel, the transports reached the
place of embarkation.

There were one hundred and twenty-eight convicts that day; no small
number upon which to experimentalize. As soon as they reached the ship
they were herded together below decks like so many cattle, with nothing
to do but to curse, swear, fight, recount past crimes, relate foul
stories, or plot future evil. True, there was some attempt at order and
classification, for they were divided into messes of six each, and Mrs.
Fry eagerly seized upon this arrangement to form a basis of control. She
proposed to the convicts that they should be arranged in classes of
twelve, according to ages and criminality; to this they assented. A
class thus furnished two messes, while over each class was placed one of
the most steady convicts, in order to enforce the rules as much as
possible. She provided in this way for superintendence.

The next arrangement concerned work for the women, and instruction for
the children. "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do;"
accordingly the ladies looked about for plans and methods whereby the
enforced weariness of a long voyage should be counteracted. They had
heard that patch-work and fancy-work found a ready sale in New South
Wales, so they hit upon a scheme which should ensure success in more
ways than one. Having made known their dilemma, and their desires, they
were cheered by receiving from some wholesale houses in London
sufficient remnants of cotton print and materials for knitting to
furnish all the convicts with work. There was ample time to perfect all
arrangements, seeing that the ship lay at Deptford about five weeks; as
the result of Mrs. Fry's journeys to and fro, every woman had given to
her the chance of benefiting herself. In this way they were informed
that if they chose to devote the leisure of the voyage to making up the
materials thus placed in their hands, they would be allowed upon arrival
at the colony to dispose of the articles for their own profit.

There was thus a new stimulus to exertion as well as a collateral good.
Hitherto, no refuge, home, or building of any description had existed
for the housing of the women when landed at the port of disembarkation.
There was "not so much as a hut in which they could take refuge, so that
they were literally driven to vice, or left to lie in the streets." The
system of convict-management at that date was one of compulsory labor,
or mostly so. This plan tended to produce tyranny, insubordination,
deception, vice, and "the social evil." In the case of men, Captain
Mackonochie testified that they were sullen, lazy, insubordinate and
vicious; the women, if not engaged quickly in respectable domestic
service, and desirous of being kept respectable, become curses to the
colony. But by the means adopted by Mrs. Fry each woman was enabled to
earn sufficient money to provide for board and lodging until some
opening for a decent maintenance presented itself. They thus obtained a
fair start.

Provision was also made for instruction of both women and children on
board ship. It may be asked how children came there? Generally they were
of tender years and the offspring of vice; the authorities could do
nothing with them; so, perforce, they were allowed to accompany their
mothers. Out of the batch on board this transport-vessel, fourteen were
found to be of an age capable of instruction. A small space was,
therefore, set apart in the stern of the vessel for a school-room, and
there, daily, under the tuition of one of the women better taught than
the rest, these waifs of humanity learned to read, knit and sew. This
slender stock of learning was better than none, wherewith to commence
life at the Antipodes.

Almost daily, for five weeks, Mrs. Fry and her coadjutors visited the
vessel, laboring to these good ends. Ultimately, however, the _Maria_
had to sail, and many were the doubts and fears as to whether the good
work begun would be carried on when away from English shores. No matron
was there to superintend and to direct the women: if they continued in
the path marked out for them, their poor human nature could not be so
fallen after all. Mrs. Fry had a kind of religious service with the
convicts the last time she visited them. She occupied a position near
the door of the cabin, with the women facing her, and ranged on the
quarter-deck, while the sailors occupied different positions in the
rigging and on other vantage points. As Mrs. Fry read in a solemn voice
some passages from her pocket-Bible, the sailors on board the other
ships leaned over to hear the sacred words. After the reading was done,
she knelt down, and commended the party of soon-to-be exiles to God's
mercy, while those for whom she prayed sobbed bitterly that they should
see her face no more. Does it not recall the parting of Paul with the
elders at Miletus? Doubtless the memory of that simple service was in
after days often the only link between some of these women and goodness.

As time went on, many anxious remembrances and hopes were cast after
the convicts who had been shipped to New South Wales. To her sorrow, she
found, from the most reliable testimony, that once the poor lost
wretches were landed in the colony, they were placed in circumstances
that absolutely nullified all the benevolent work which had gone before,
and were literally driven by force of circumstances to their
destruction. The female convicts, from the time of their landing, were
"without shelter, without resources, and without protection. Rations, or
a small amount of provision, sufficient to maintain life, they certainly
had allotted to them daily; but a place to sleep in, or money to obtain
shelter or necessary clothing for themselves, and, when mothers, for
their children, they were absolutely without." An interesting but sad
letter was received by Mrs. Fry from the Rev. Samuel Marsden, chaplain
at Paramatta, New South Wales, and although long, it affords so much
information on this question, that no apology is required for
introducing it here. As the testimony of an eyewitness it is valuable:--

     HONORED MADAM,

     Having learned from the public papers, as well as from my friends
     in England, the lively interest you have taken in promoting the
     temporal and eternal welfare of those unhappy females who fall
     under the sentence of the law, I am induced to address a few lines
     to you respecting such as visit our distant shores. It may be
     gratifying to you, Madam, to hear that I meet with those wretched
     exiles, who have shared your attentions, and who mention your
     maternal care with gratitude and affection. From the measures you
     have adopted, and the lively interest you have excited in the
     public feeling, on the behalf of these miserable victims of vice
     and woe, I now hope the period is not very distant when their
     miseries will be in some degree alleviated. I have been striving
     for more than twenty years to obtain for them some relief, but
     hitherto have done them little good. It has not been in my power to
     move those in authority to pay much attention to their wants and
     miseries. I have often been urged in my own mind, to make an appeal
     to the British nation, and to lay their case before the public.

     In the year 1807, I returned to Europe. Shortly after my arrival in
     London, I stated in a memorial to His Grace the Archbishop of
     Canterbury the miserable situation of the female convicts, to His
     Majesty's Government at the Colonial Office, and to several members
     of the House of Commons. From the assurances that were then made,
     that barracks should be built for the accommodation of the female
     convicts, I entertained no doubt but that the Government would have
     given instructions to the Governor to make some provisions for
     them. On my return to the colony, in 1810, I found things in the
     same state I left them; five years after my again arriving in the
     colony, I took the liberty to speak to the Governor, as opportunity
     afforded, on the subject in question, and was surprised to learn
     that no instructions had been communicated to His Excellency from
     His Majesty's Government, after what had passed between me and
     those in authority at home, relative to the state of the female
     convicts. At length I resolved to make an official statement of
     their miserable situation to the Governor, and, if the Governor did
     not feel himself authorized to build a barrack for them, to
     transmit my memorial to my friends in England, with His
     Excellency's answer, as a ground for them to renew my former
     application to Government for some relief. Accordingly, I forwarded
     my memorial, with a copy of the Governor's answer, home to more
     than one of my friends. I have never been convinced that no
     instructions were given by His Majesty's Government to provide
     barracks for the female convicts; on the contrary, my mind is
     strongly impressed in that instructions were given; if they were
     not, I can only say that this was a great omission, after the
     promises that were made. I was not ignorant that the sending home
     of my letter to the Governor and his answer, would subject me to
     the censure as well as the displeasure of my superiors. I informed
     some of my friends in England, as well as in the colony, that if no
     attention was paid to the female convicts, I was determined to lay
     their case before the British nation; and then I was certain, from
     the moral and religious feeling which pervades all ranks, that
     redress would be obtained. However, nothing has been done yet to
     remedy the evils of which I complain. For the last five and twenty
     years many of the convict women have been driven to vice to obtain
     a loaf of bread, or a bed to lie upon. To this day there never has
     been a place to put the female convicts in when they land from the
     ships. Many of the women have told me with tears their distress of
     mind on this account; some would have been glad to have returned to
     the paths of virtue if they could have found a hut to live in
     without forming improper connections. Some of these women, when
     they have been brought before the magistrate, and I have
     remonstrated with them for their crime, have replied, "I have no
     other means of living; I am compelled to give my weekly allowance
     of provisions for my lodgings, and I must starve or live in vice."
     I was well aware that this statement was correct, and was often at
     a loss what to answer. It is not only the calamities that these
     wretched women and their children suffer that are to be regretted,
     but the general corruption of morals that such a system establishes
     in this rising colony, and the ruin their example spreads through
     all the settlements. The male convicts in the service of the Crown,
     or in that of individuals, are tempted to rob and plunder
     continually, to supply the urgent necessities of those women.

     All the female convicts have not run the same lengths in vice. All
     are not equally hardened in crime, and it is most dreadful that all
     should alike, on their arrival here, be liable and exposed to the
     same dangerous temptations, without any remedy. I rejoice, Madam,
     that you reside near the seat of Government, and may have it in
     your power to call the attention of His Majesty's Ministers to this
     important subject--a subject in which the entire welfare of these
     settlements is involved. If proper care be taken of the women, the
     colony will prosper, and the expenses of the mother-country will be
     reduced. On the contrary, if the morals of the female convicts are
     wholly neglected, as they have been hitherto, the colony will be
     only a nursery for crime....

     Your good intentions and benevolent labors will all be abortive if
     the exiled females, on their arrival in the colony, are plunged
     into every ruinous temptation and sort of vice--which will ever be
     the case till some barrack is provided for them. Great evils in a
     state cannot soon be remedied.... I believe the Governor has got
     instructions from home to provide accommodation for the female
     convicts, and I hope in two or three years to see them lodged in a
     comfortable barrack; so that none shall be lost for want of a hut
     to lie in. If a communication be kept up on a regular plan between
     this colony and London, much good may be done for the poor female
     convicts. It was the custom for some years, when a ship with female
     convicts arrived, soldiers, convicts, and settlers were allowed to
     go on board and take their choice; this custom does not now openly
     obtain countenance and sanction, but when they are landed they have
     no friend, nor any accommodation, and therefore are glad to live
     with anyone who can give them protection; so the real moral state
     of these females is little improved from what it always has been,
     nor will it be the least improved till they can be provided with a
     barrack. The neglect of the female convicts in this country is a
     disgrace to our national character, as well as a national sin. Many
     do not live out half their days, from their habits of vice. When I
     am called to visit them on their dying beds, my mind is greatly
     pained, my mouth is shut; I know not what to say to them.... To
     tell them of their crimes is to upbraid them with misfortune; they
     will say, "Sir, you know how I was situated. I do not wish to lead
     the life I have done; I know and lament my sins, but necessity
     compelled me to do what my conscience condemned."... Many, again,
     I meet with who think these things no crime, because they believe
     their necessities compel them to live in their sins. Hence their
     consciences are so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that
     death itself gives them little concern....

                        I have the honor to be, Madam,
                            Your most obedient humble servant,
                                                   SAMUEL MARSDEN.

This appeal was not disregarded: in due time official apathy and
inertness fled before the national cry for reform. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fry
continued her efforts on behalf of the convicts on board the transports,
ever urging upon those in power the imperative necessity for placing the
women under the charge of matrons. They still continued on the old plan,
and were wholly in the power of the sailors, except for such supervision
as the Naval Surgeon Superintendent could afford. Some little
improvements had taken place, since that first trip to the Maria
convict-ship, but very much still remained to be done. To these floating
prisons, frequently detained for weeks in the Thames, Mrs. Fry paid
numerous visits, arranging for the instruction, employment, and
cleanliness of the women. A worthy fellow-helper, Mrs. Pryor, was her
companion, on most of these journeys, frequently enduring exposure to
weather, rough seas, and accidents. On one occasion the two sisters of
mercy ran the risk of drowning, but were fortunately rescued by a
passing vessel. Very fortunate, indeed, was it, that a deliverer was at
hand, or the little boat, toiling up the river, contending against tide,
wind and weather, might have been lost. That voyage to Gravesend was
only one among many destined to work a revolution in female convict
life.

Alterations, which were not always improvements, began to take place in
the manner of receiving these women on board ship. The vessels were
moored at Woolwich, and group by group the miserable complement of
passengers arrived; in each case, however, controlled by male warders.
Sometimes, a turnkey would bring his party on the outside of a
stage-coach; another might bring a contingent in a smack, or coasting
vessel; while yet a third marched up a band of heavily-ironed women,
whose dialects told from which districts they came. Sometimes their
infants were left behind, and, in such a case, one of the ladies would
go to Whitehall to obtain the necessary order to enable the unfortunate
nursling to accompany its mother; but generally speaking, the children
accompanied and shared the parents' fortunes.

Cruelties were inseparable from the customs which prevailed. In 1822,
Mrs. Pryor discovered that prisoners from Lancaster Castle arrived, not
merely handcuffed, but with heavy irons on their legs, which had
occasioned considerable swelling, and in one instance serious
inflammation. _The Brothers_ sailed in 1823, with its freight of human
misery on board, and the suffering which resulted from the mode of
ironing, was so great, that Mrs. Fry took down the names id particulars,
in order to make representations to the Government. Twelve women
arrived on board the vessel, handcuffed; eleven others had iron hoops
round their legs and arms, and were chained to each other. The
complaints of these women were mournful; they were not allowed to get up
or down from the coach, without the whole party being dragged together;
some of them had children to carry, but they received no help, no
alleviation to their sufferings. One woman from Wales must have had a
bitter experience of irons. She came to the ship with a hoop around her
ankle, and when the sub-matron insisted on having it removed, the
operation was so painful that the poor wretch fainted. She told Mrs. Fry
that she had worn, for some time, an iron hoop around her waist; from
that, a chain connected with hoops round her legs above the knee; from
these, another chain was fastened to irons round her ankles. Not content
with this, her hands were confined _every night_ to the hoop which went
round her waist, while she lay like a log on her bed of straw. Such
tales remind one of the tortures of the Inquisition.

The "Newgate women" were especially noticeable for good conduct on the
voyage out. Their conduct was reported to be "exemplary" by the Surgeon
Superintendent, and their industry was most pleasing. Their patchwork
was highly prized by many, and indeed treasured up by some of them for
many years after. Officers in the British navy assisted in the good work
by word and deed; in fact, Captain Young, of Deptford Dockyard, first
suggested the making of patchwork as an employment on board ship. From
some correspondence which passed between Mrs. Fry and the Controller of
the Navy, in 1820, we find that the building for the women in New South
Wales was begun; while in a letter written about this time to a member
of the Government, she explains her desires and plans relative to the
female convicts after their arrival at Hobart Town, Tasmania.

This letter is full of interesting points. After noticing the fact of
the building at Hobart Town being imperatively needed, she goes on to
suggest that a respectable and judicious matron should be stationed in
that building, responsible, under the Governor and magistrates, for the
order of the inmates; that part of the building should be devoted to
school purposes; that immediately on the arrival of a ship, a Government
Inspector should visit the vessel and report; that the Surgeon
Superintendent should have a description of each woman's offense,
character, and capability, so that her disposal in the colony might be
made in a little less hap-hazard fashion than hitherto; that the best
behaved should be taken into domestic service by such of the residents
of the colony as chose to coöperate, while the others should remain at
the Home, under prison rules, until they have earned the privilege of
going to service; and that a sufficient supply of serviceable clothing
should be provided. She further recommended the adoption of a uniform
dress for the convicts, as conducive to order and discipline, and, as a
last and indispensable condition, the appointment of a matron, in order
to enforce needful regulations. This epistle was sent with the prayer
that Earl Bathurst would peruse it, and grant the requests of the
writer. It is refreshing to be able to add that red tapeism did not
interfere with the adoption of these suggestions, but that they met with
prompt consideration.

Every year, four, five, or six convict-ships went out to the colonies of
Australia with their burdens of sin, sorrow and guilt. Van Diemen's Land
and New South Wales received annually fresh consignments of the outcast
iniquity of the Old World. Mrs. Fry made a point of visiting each ship
before it sailed, as many times as her numerous duties permitted, and
bade the convicts most affectionate and anxious farewells. These
good-bye visits were always semi-religious ones; without her Bible and
the teaching which pointed to a better life beyond, Mrs. Fry would have
been helpless to cope with the vice and misery which surged up before
her. As it was, her heart sometimes grew faint and weary in the work,
though not by any means weary of it. As an apostle of mercy to the
well-nigh lost, she moved in and out among those sin-stricken companies.

Captain (afterwards Admiral) Young, Principal Resident Agent of
Transports on the river Thames, forwarded the good work by every
possible means. From the pen of one of the members of his family, we
have a vivid picture of one of these leave-takings. It occurred on board
a vessel lying off Woolwich, in 1826. William Wilberforce, of
anti-slavery fame, and several other friends, accompanied the party.
This chronicler writes:--

     On board one of them [there were two convict ships lying in the
     river] between two and three hundred women were assembled, in order
     to listen to the exhortations and prayers of perhaps the two
     brightest personifications of Christian philanthropy that the age
     could boast. Scarcely could two voices even so distinguished for
     beauty and power be imagined united in a more touching engagement;
     as, indeed, was testified by the breathless attention, the tears
     and suppressed sobs of the gathered listeners. No lapse of time can
     ever efface the impression of the 107th Psalm, as read by Mrs. Fry
     with such extraordinary emphasis and intonation, that it seemed to
     make the simple reading a commentary.

We find in the annals of her life the particulars of another visit to
the _George Hibbert_ convict-ship, in 1734. She had, about this time,
pleaded earnestly with Lord Melbourne, the Home Secretary, for the
appointment of matrons to these vessels. She records gratefully the
fact, that both his lordship and Mr. Spring Rice received her "in the
handsomest manner," giving her a most patient and appreciative hearing.
She succeeded at this time in obtaining a part of the boon which she
craved. Mrs. Saunders, the wife of a missionary returning to the colony,
was permitted by the Government to fill the office of matron to the
convicts. For this service, Government gave the lady a free passage.
There was double advantage in this, because, when by reason of
sea-sickness, Mrs. Saunders felt ill, Mr. Saunders occupied her place as
far as possible, and performed the duties of chaplain and school-master.
The Ladies' British Society, formed by Mrs. Fry, for the superintendence
of this and other good works relating to convicts and prisons, united in
promoting the appointment of this worthy couple, and were highly
gratified at the result of the experiment; as appears by extracts from
the books of the Convict Ship Committee. Finally, when the voyage was
ended, the Surgeon Superintendent gave good-conduct tickets to all whose
behavior had been satisfactory, and secured them engagements in
respectable situations. Better than all, there was a proper building
which ensured shelter, classification, and restraint. The horrors of the
outcast life, so vividly described by Mr. Marsden in his letter from
Paramatta, no longer existed. The work of these ladies, uphill though it
had been, was now bearing manifold fruit. And the results of this more
humane and rational system of treatment upon the future of the colonies
themselves could not but appear in time. There were on board this very
vessel, the _George Hibbert_, 150 female convicts, with forty-one
children; also nine free women, carrying with them twenty-three young
children, who were going out to their husbands who had been transported
previously. When it is remembered that these people were laying the
foundations of new colonies, and peopling them with their descendants,
it must be conceded that in her efforts to humanize and christianize
them, Mrs. Fry's far-reaching philanthropy became a great national
benefit. With modest thankfulness, she herself records, after an
interview with Queen Adelaide and some of the royal family, "Surely, the
result of our labors has hitherto been beyond our most sanguine
expectations, as to the improved state of our prisons, female
convict-ships, and the convicts in New South Wales."



CHAPTER X.

VISITS TO CONTINENTAL PRISONS.


Contrary to the general practice of mankind in matters of pure
benevolence, Mrs. Fry looked around for new worlds to conquer, in the
shape of yet unfathomed prison miseries. Many, if not most people, would
have rested upon the laurels already won, and have been contented with
the measures of good already achieved. Not so with the philanthropist
whose work we sketch. Like an ever-widening stream, her life rolled on,
full of acts of mercy, growing wider and broader in its channel of
operations and its schemes of mercy. In pursuance of these schemes she
visited prisons at Nottingham, Lincoln, Wakefield, Leeds, Doncaster,
Sheffield, York, Durham, Newcastle, Carlisle, Lancaster, Liverpool, and
most other towns of any size in England. She extended these journeys, at
different times, into Scotland and Ireland, examining into the condition
of prisons and prisoners with the deepest interest. It was her usual
custom to form ladies' prison-visiting societies, wherever practicable,
and to communicate to the authorities subsequently her views and
suggestions in letters, dealing with these matters in detail.

But her fame was not confined within the limits of the British Isles.
Communications reached her from St. Petersburg, from Hamburg, from
Brussels, from Baden, from Paris, Berlin, and Potsdam; all tending to
show that enquiry was abroad, that nations and governments as well as
individuals were waking up to a sense of their responsibilities. Both
rulers and legislators were beginning to see that _preventing_ crime was
wiser than _punishing_ it, that the reformation of the criminal classes
was the great end of punitive measures. This conviction reached, it was
comparatively easy for the philanthropists to work.

Before proceeding to the Continent, however, we find notes of one or two
very interesting visits to the Channel Isles. Her first visit was made
in 1833, and, to her surprise, she found that the islands had most
thoroughly ignored the prison teachings and improvements which had been
gaining so much ground in the United Kingdom. The reason of this was not
far to seek. Acts of Parliament passed in England had no power in the
Channel Isles; as part of the old Duchy of Normandy, they were governed
by their own laws and customs. The inhabitants, in their appearance,
manners, language, and usages, resemble the French more than they do the
English. Nothing deterred, however, Mrs. Fry made a tour of inspection,
and then according to her custom sent the result of her inquiries, and
the conclusions at which she had arrived, in the form of a letter to the
authorities. That letter is far too long for reproduction _in extenso_,
but a few of its leading recommendations were:--

     1st. A full sufficiency of employment, proportioned to the age,
     sex, health and ability of each prisoner.

     2d. A proper system of classification, including the separation of
     men from women, of tried from untried prisoners, and of debtors
     from criminals.

     3d. A fixed and suitable dietary for criminals, together with an
     absolute prohibition of intoxicating drinks.

     4th. A suitable prison dress with distinctive badges.

     5th. A complete code of regulations binding on all officials.

     6th. The appointment of a visiting committee to inspect the prison
     regularly and frequently.

     7th. Provision to be made for the instruction of criminals in the
     common branches of education, and for the performance of divine
     service at stated seasons by an appointed chaplain.

After adverting to the fact that the island was independent of British
control, she alluded to "the progressive wisdom of the age" in respect
to prison discipline and management, and urged the authorities to be
abreast of the times in adopting palliative measures. The whole penal
system of the islands required to be renewed, and it promised to be a
work of time before this could be effected. We find that Mrs. Fry
exerted herself for many years to this end; but it was not until after
the lapse of years, and after two visits to the islands, that she
succeeded.

The hospital at Jersey seemed to be a curious sort of institution
designed to shelter destitute sick and poor, as well as to secure the
persons of small offenders, and lunatics. Punishment with fetters was
inflicted in this place upon all those who tried to escape, so that it
was a sort of prison. Mrs. Fry's quick eye detected many abuses in its
management, and her pen suggested remedies for them.

At Guernsey, the same irregularities and abuses appeared, and were
attacked in her characteristic manner. In both these islands, as well as
in Sark, she inaugurated works of charity and religion, thus sowing
imperishable seed destined to bear untold fruit. Finally, after more
visits from herself, and special inspectors appointed by Government, a
new house of correction was built in Jersey, while other improvements
necessary to the working out of her prison system were, one by one,
adopted.

In January, 1838, she paid her first visit to France, being accompanied
on this journey by her husband, by Josiah Forster, and by Lydia Irving,
members of the Society of Friends. True to her instinct, she found her
way speedily into the prisons of the French capital, examining,
criticising, recommending and teaching. She could not speak much French,
but some kind friend always interpreted her observations. From her
journal it seems that solemn prayer for Divine guidance and blessing
occupied the forenoon of the first day in Paris; after that, visits of
ceremony were paid to the English Ambassador, and of friendship to other
persons. Among the prisons visited were the St. Lazare Prison for women,
containing 952 inmates, La Force Prison for men, the Central Prison at
Poissy, and that of the Conciergerie. The first-named, that of St.
Lazare, was visited several times, and portions of Scripture read, as at
Newgate. The listeners were very much affected, manifesting their
feelings by frequent exclamations and tears. Lady Granville, Lady
Georgina Fullerton, and some other ladies accompanied Mrs. Fry to this
prison on one visit, when all agreed that much good would result from
the appointment and work of a Ladies' Committee. Hospitals, schools, and
convents also came in for a share of attention; and after discussing
points of interest connected with the prisons with the Prefect of
Police, she concluded by obtaining audience of the King, Queen and
Duchess of Orleans.

On the journey homeward the party visited the prisons of Caen, Rouen and
Beaulieu, distributing copies of the Scriptures to the prisoners. She
notices with much delight the united feeling in respect of benevolent
objects which existed between Roman Catholics and herself. Her own words
are "a hidden power of good at work amongst them; many very
extraordinary Christian characters, bright, sober, zealous Roman
Catholics and Protestants."

In the commencement of 1839, the low state of the funds of the different
benevolent societies formed in connection with her prison labors,
exercised her faith. None ever carried into practice more fully the old
monkish maxim _Labor est orare_. Refuges had been formed, at Chelsea for
girls, and at Clapham for women, while the Ladies' Society and the
convict-ships demanded funds incessantly. A fancy sale was held in
Crosby Hall, "conducted in a sober, quiet manner," which realized over a
thousand pounds for these charities. After recording the fact with
thankfulness, Mrs. Fry paid her second visit to the Continent, going as
far as Switzerland on her errand of mercy.

At Paris she was received affectionately by those friends who had
listened to her voice on her previous visit. Baron de Girando and other
philanthropists gathered around her, oblivious of the distinctions of
creeds and churches, and bent only on accomplishing a successful crusade
against vice and misery.

Among the hospitals inspected by her were the hospital of St. Louis for
the plague, leprosy, and other infectious disorders; the Hospice de la
Maternité, and the Hospice des Enfans Trovés. This latter was founded by
St. Vincent de Paul for the bringing up of foundlings, but had fallen
into a state of pitiable neglect. From the unnatural treatment which
these poor waifs received, the mortality had reached a frightful pitch.
It seemed, from Mrs. Fry's statements, that the little creatures were
bound up for hours together, being only released from their "swaddlings"
once in every twelve hours for any and every purpose. The sound in the
wards could only be compared to the faint and pitiful bleating of lambs.
A lady who frequently visited the institution said that she never
remembered examining the array of clean white cots that lined the walls
without finding at least one dead babe. "In front of the fire was a
sloping stage, on which was a mattress, and a row of these little
creatures placed on it to warm and await their turn to be fed from the
spoon by a nurse. After much persuasion, one that was crying piteously
was released from its swaddling bands; it stretched its little limbs,
and ceased its wailings." Supposing these children of misfortune
survived the first few weeks of such a life they were sent into the
country to be reared by different peasants; but there again a large
percentage died from infantile diseases. Mrs. Fry succeeded in securing
some ameliorations of the treatment of the babes; but sisters, doctors,
superior, and all, seemed bound by the iron bands of custom and
tradition.

The Archbishop of Paris was somewhat annoyed at her proceedings and
expressed his displeasure; it seemed more, however, to be directed
against her practice of distributing the Scriptures, than really against
her prison work.

At Nismes, under the escort of five armed soldiers, because of the known
violence of the desperadoes whom she visited, she inspected the Maison
Centrale, containing about 1,200 prisoners. She interceded for some of
them that they might be released from their fetters, undertaking at the
same time that the released prisoners should behave well. At a
subsequent visit, after holding a religious service among these felons,
the same men thanked her with tears of gratitude.

Much to her delight, she discovered a body of religionists who held
principles similar to those of the Society of Friends. They were
descendants of the Camisards, a sect of Protestants who took refuge in
the mountains of the Cevennes during the persecution which followed the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and were descended originally from
the Albigenses. Their three most distinguished pastors were Claude
Brousson, who took part in the sufferings at the general persecution of
the Protestants; Jean Cavalier, the soldier-pastor who led his flock to
battle, and who now sleeps in an English graveyard; and Antoine Court,
who formed this "church in the desert," into a more compact body. The
first of these pastors was hanged for "heresy" at Montpellier, in 1698;
but he, together with his successors, labored so devoutly and so
ardently, that the persecuted remnant rose from the dust and proved
themselves valiant for the truth as they had received and believed it.
It was not possible that the seed of a people which had learnt the
sermons preached to them off by heart, and written the texts on stone
tablets, in order to pass them from one mountain village to another,
could ever die out. The descendants of those martyrs had come down
through long generations, to nourish at last openly in Nismes. Mrs. Fry
recognized in them the kindred souls of faithful believers. After this,
the party spent a fortnight at a little retired village called
Congenies, where they welcomed many others of their own creed. A house
with "vaulted rooms, whitewashed and floored with stone," sheltered them
during this quaint sojourn, while the villagers vied with each other in
contributing to their comforts.

At Toulon they visited the "Bagnes," or prison for the galley slaves.
These poor wretches fared horribly, while the loss of life among them
was terrible. They worked very hard, slept on boards, and were fed upon
bread and dry beans. At night they were ranged in a long gallery, and in
number from one hundred to two hundred, were all chained to the iron rod
which ran the entire length of the gallery. By day they worked chained
together in couples.

At Marseilles a new kind of prison was inspected by her; this was a
conventual institution and refuge for female penitents, under the
control of the nuns of the order of St. Charles, who to the three
ordinary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, added that of
converting souls. Superintending ladies in the city, who bore the title
of "directresses," were not even permitted to see the women immured
there; indeed, only one was permitted to enter the building in order to
look after the necessary repairs, and even she was strictly restrained
from seeing a penitent or sister. It seemed hopeless in the face of
these facts to expect admission, but Mrs. Fry's name and errand
prevailed. Accompanied by one of these nominal directresses, she was
admitted and shown into a large, plainly-furnished parlor. After she had
waited some little time, the Lady Superior presented herself at the
grating, and prepared to hear the communications of her visitors. In the
course of the conversation which passed, it appeared that there were
over one hundred penitents in the convent, who mostly became servants
after their reclamation. It seemed that they "were not taught to read or
write, neither was the least morsel of pencil, paper, pen, ink, or any
other possible material for writing permitted, from the fear of their
communicating with people without." The Superior admitted that portions
of the Bible were suitable to the inmates, such as the Parables and
Psalms, but said that as a whole the Scriptures were not fit to be put
into the hands of people in general. Mrs. Fry departed from this "home
of mystery and darkness," very unsatisfied and sad. She next visited a
boys' prison, conducted by the Abbé Fisceaux, which excited her
admiration.

At the "Maison Pénitentiaire" at Geneva, the arrangements appeared to be
as complete as possible, and most praiseworthy. The treatment varied in
severity, according to the guilt of the criminals, who were divided into
four classes. They were in all cases there for long terms of
imprisonment, but were allowed either Catholic or Protestant versions of
the Scriptures, according to their faith. After paying short visits to
Lausanne, Berne, and Zurich, the party returned home.

As her life passed on and infirmities grew apace, it seemed that Mrs.
Fry's zeal and charity grew also, for she planned and schemed to do good
with never-flagging delight. Early in 1840, she departed again for the
Continent, accompanied this time by her brother, Samuel Gurney, and his
daughter, by William Allen and Lucy Bradshaw. During this journey and a
subsequent one, she had much intercourse with royal and noble
personages. At Brussels they had a pleasant audience of the King, who
held an interesting conversation with them on the state of Belgian
prisons. A large prison for boys at Antwerp specially drew forth their
commendations; it seemed admirably arranged and conducted, while every
provision was made for the instruction and improvement of the lads. At
Hameln, in Hanover, they found one of the opposite class, a men's
prison, containing about four hundred inmates, but all heavily chained
"to the ground, until they would confess their crimes, whether they had
committed them or not." One wonders if this treatment still prevails in
the Hameln of Robert Browning's ballad. At Hanover they waited on the
Queen by special command, and during a long interview many interesting
and important subjects were brought forward.

At Berlin they were received by royalty in the most cordial way. Mrs.
Fry's niece, in a letter, gives a vivid account of the assembly at the
royal palace specially invited to meet the Quakeress and her party.

     The Princess William has been very desirous to give her sanction,
     as far as possible, to the Ladies' Committee for visiting the
     prison, that my aunt had been forming; and, to show her full
     approbation, had invited the Committee to meet her at her palace.
     So imagine about twenty ladies assembling here, at our hotel, at
     half-past twelve o'clock to-day, beautifully dressed; and, further
     fancy us all driving off and arriving at the palace. The Princess
     had also asked some of her friends, so we must have numbered about
     forty. Such a party of ladies, and only our friend Count Gröben to
     interpret. The Princess received us most kindly, and conducted us
     herself to the top of the room; we talked some time, whilst
     awaiting the arrival of other members of the royal family. The
     ladies walked about the suite of rooms for about half an hour,
     taking chocolate, and waiting for the Crown Princess, who soon
     arrived. The Princess Charles was also there, and the Crown Prince
     himself soon afterwards entered. I could not but long for a
     painter's eye to have carried away the scene. All of us seated in
     that beautiful room, our aunt in the middle of the sofa, the Crown
     Prince and Princess and the Princess Charles on her right; the
     Princess William, the Princess Marie, and the Princess Czartoryski
     on the left; Count Gröben sitting near her to interpret, the
     Countesses Böhlem and Dernath by her. I was sitting by the Countess
     Schlieffen, a delightful person, who is much interested in all our
     proceedings. A table was placed before our aunt, with pens, ink,
     and paper, like other committees, with the various rules our aunt
     and I had drawn up, and the Countess Böhlem had translated into
     German, and which she read to the assembly. After that my aunt gave
     a concise account of the societies in England, commencing every
     fresh sentence with "If the Prince and Princesses will permit."
     When business was over, my aunt mentioned some texts, which she
     asked leave to read. A German Bible was handed to Count Gröben, the
     text in Isaiah having been pointed out that our good aunt had
     wished for, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen," etc. The
     Count read it, after which our aunt said, "Will the Prince and
     Princesses allow a short time for prayer?" They all bowed assent
     and stood, while she knelt down and offered one of her touching,
     heart-felt prayers for them--that a blessing might rest on the
     whole place, from the King on his throne to the poor prisoner in
     the dungeon; and she prayed especially for the royal family; then
     for the ladies, that the works of their hands might be prospered in
     what they had undertaken to perform. Many of the ladies now
     withdrew, and we were soon left with the royal family. They all
     invited us to see them again, before we left Berlin, and took leave
     of us in the kindest manner.

One result of the reception accorded Mrs. Fry by royalty was the
amelioration of the condition of the Lutherans. It came about in this
way: in the course of her inquiries and intercourse among the people of
the Prussian dominions, she discovered that adherents to the Lutheran
Church were subject to much petty persecution on behalf of their faith.
True they were not dealt with so cruelly as in former times, but
frequently, at that very day, they were imprisoned, or suffered the loss
of property because of their religious opinions. The matter lay heavily
on Mrs. Fry's benevolent heart, and, seizing the opportunity, she spoke
to the Crown Prince at the meeting just described, on the behalf of the
persecuted Christians. The Crown Prince listened most attentively, and
advised her to lay the matter before the King in any way she deemed
proper. A petition was therefore drawn up by William Allen, translated
into German, and with much fear and trembling presented to His Majesty.
The following day the King's chaplain was sent bearing the "delightful
intelligence" that the petition had been received; further, the King had
said that "he thought the Spirit of God must have helped them to express
themselves as they had done."

About this time we find the following entry in her journal: "I have been
poorly enough to have the end of life brought closely before me, and to
stimulate me in faith to do _quickly_ what my Lord may require me."
Accordingly, engagements and undertakings multiplied, and 1841 witnessed
another brief visit to the continent of Europe. She seemed more and more
to get the conviction that she must lose no time while about her
Master's business, and such her prison, asylum and hospital labors most
assuredly were. The shadows of life's evening were gathering around her,
and heart and flesh beginning to fail, but no efforts of charity or
mercy might be found lacking.

On this visit her brother, Joseph John Gurney, and two nieces
accompanied her. Soon after arriving at the Hague, Mrs. Fry and Mr.
Gurney, being introduced to the King by Prince Albert, were commanded to
attend at a royal audience. This the travellers did, and, after about an
hour's conversation, departed highly gratified. Another day they spent
some time with the Princess of Orange, the Princess Frederick, and other
members of the royal house: all these personages were anxious to hear
about the work of prison reform, and to aid in it. After this they
departed for Amsterdam, Bremen, and other places; but their journey
resembled a triumphal progress more than anything else. The peasantry
followed the carriage shouting Mrs. Fry's name, and begging for tracts.
Sometimes, in order to get away, she was compelled to shake hands with
them all, and speak a few words of kindly greeting.

They extended the journey into Denmark, and were treated with marked
honor from the first. The Queen engaged apartments for the travellers at
the Hotel Royal, and on some occasions took Mrs. Fry to see schools and
other places, in her own carriage. On a subsequent day, when dining with
the King and Queen, Mrs. Fry and Mr. Gurney laid before their Majesties
the condition of persecuted Christians; the sad state of prisons in his
dominions; they also referred to the slavery in the Danish colonies in
the West Indies. Mr. Gurney having only recently returned from that part
of the world, he had much to tell respecting the spiritual and social
state of those colonies. Mrs. Fry records that at dinner she was placed
between the King and Queen, who both conversed very pleasantly with her.

At Minden, they had varied experiences of travelling and travellers'
welcomes. "I could not but be struck," says Mrs. Fry in her journal,
"with the peculiar contrast of my circumstances: in the morning
traversing the bad pavement of a street in Minden, with a poor, old
Friend in a sort of knitted cap close to her head; in the evening
surrounded by the Prince and Princesses of a German Court." The members
of the Prussian royal family were anxious to see her and hear from her
own lips an account of her labors in the cause of humanity. The
representatives of the House of Brandenburgh welcomed Mrs. Fry beyond
her most sanguine expectations; indeed, it would be nearer the truth to
say that in her lowly estimate of herself, she almost dreaded to
approach royal or noble personages, and that therefore she craved for no
honor, but only tolerance and favor. She never sought an interview with
any of these personages, but to benefit those who could not plead for
themselves. Her letters home exhibit no pride, boastfulness, or triumph;
all is pure thankfulness that one so unworthy as she deemed herself to
be should accomplish so much. Writing to her grandchildren she says:

     "We dined at the Princess William's with several of the royal
     family. The Queen came afterwards and appeared much pleased at my
     delight on hearing that the King had stopped religious persecutions
     in the country, and that several other things had been improved
     since our last visit. It is a very great comfort to believe that
     our efforts for the good of others have been blessed. Yesterday we
     paid a very interesting visit to the Queen, then to Prince
     Frederick of Holland and his Princess, sister to the King of
     Prussia; with her we had much serious conversation upon many
     important subjects, as we also had with the Queen.... Although
     looked up to by all, they appear so humble, so moderate in
     everything. I think the Christian ladies on the Continent dress far
     more simply than those in England. The Countess appeared very
     liberal, but extravagant in nothing. To please us she had apple
     dumplings, which were quite a curiosity; they were really very
     nice. The company stood still before and after dinner, instead of
     saying grace. We returned from our interesting meeting at the
     Countess's, about eleven o'clock in the evening. The royal family
     were assembled and numbers of the nobility; after a while the King
     and Queen arrived, the poor Tyrolese flocked in numbers. I doubt
     such a meeting ever having been held anywhere before,--the curious
     mixture of all ranks and conditions. My poor heart almost failed
     me. Most earnestly did I pray for best help, and not unduly to fear
     man. The royal family sat together, or nearly so; the King and
     Queen, Princess William, and Princess Frederick, Princess Mary,
     Prince William, Prince Charles, Prince Frederick of the
     Netherlands, young Prince William, besides several other princes
     and princesses not royal. Your uncle Joseph spoke for a little
     while, explaining our views on worship. Then I enlarged upon the
     changes that had taken place since I was last in Prussia; mentioned
     the late King's kindness to these poor Tyrolese in their affliction
     and distress; afterwards addressed these poor people, and then
     those of high rank, and felt greatly helped to speak the truth to
     them in love. They finished with a hymn."

Her last brief visit to the Continent was paid in 1843, and spent wholly
in Paris. Mrs. Fry was particularly interested in French prisons, as
well as in the measures designed to ameliorate the condition of those
who tenanted them. Reformation had become the order of the day there as
in England; the Duchess of Orleans, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg, M.
Guizot, the Duc de Broglie, M. de Tocqueville, M. Carnot, and other high
and noble personages were much interested in the subject. A bill to
sanction the needful reforms was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies
by the Minister of the Interior, and ably supported by him in a speech
of great lucidity and power. Said he, when laying it before the Chamber:
"Our subject is not entirely to sequestrate the prisoner nor to confine
him to absolute solitude. Some of the provisions of the bill will
mitigate the principle of solitary confinement in a manner which was
suggested by the Commission of 1840, and should not pass unnoticed by
the Chamber. Convicts sentenced to more than twelve years' hard labor,
or to perpetual hard labor, after having gone through twelve years of
their punishment, or when they shall have attained the age of seventy,
will be no longer separated from others, except during the night." The
bill further provided, besides this mitigation of the solitary
confinement system, that the "Bagnes," where galley slaves had hitherto
labored, should be replaced by houses of hard labor, and that smaller
prisons should be erected for minor offenses instead of sending
criminals convicted of them to the great central prisons. The bill was
certainly destined to effect a total revolution in the management of
such places as St. Lazare and similar prisons, in addition to giving
solid promise of improvement in the punitive system of France.

During this brief final visit to the French capital, Mrs. Fry entered on
her sixty-third year, aged and infirm in body, but still animated by the
master passion of serving the sad and sorrowful. Her brother, Joseph
John Gurney, together with his wife, were with her in Paris, but they
pursued their journey into Switzerland, while she returned home in June,
feeling that life's shadows were lengthening apace, and that not much
time remained to her in which to complete her work. The impressions she
had made on the society of the gay city had been altogether good. Like
the people who stared at the pilgrims passing through Vanity Fair, the
Parisians wondered, and understood for the first time that here was a
lady who did indeed pass through things temporal, "with eyes fixed on
things eternal"; and whose supreme delight lay, not in ball-rooms,
race-courses, or courts, but in finding out suffering humanity and
striving to alleviate its woes. Doubtless many of the gay Parisians
shrugged their shoulders and smiled good-humoredly at the "illusion,"
"notion," "fanaticism," or whatever else they called it; they were
simply living on too low a plane of life to understand, or to criticise
Mrs. Fry. Except animated by somewhat of fellow-feeling, none can
understand her career even now. It stands too far apart from, too highly
lifted above, our ordinary pursuits and pleasures, to be compared with
anything that less philanthropic-minded mortals may do. It called for a
far larger amount of self-denial than ordinary people are capable of; it
demanded too much singleness of purpose and sincerity of speech. Had
Mrs. Fry not come from a Quaker stock she might have conformed more to
the ways and manners of fashionable society; had she possessed less of
sterling piety, she might have sought to serve her fellow-creatures in
more easy paths. As a reformer, she was sometimes misunderstood, abused,
and spoken evil of. It was always the case and always will be, that
reformers receive injustice. Only, in some cases, as in this one, time
reverses the injustice, and metes out due honor. As a consequence,
Elizabeth Fry's name is surrounded with an aureola of fame, and her
self-abnegation affords a sublime spectacle to thoughtful minds of all
creeds and classes; for, simply doing good is seen to be the highest
glory.



CHAPTER XI.

NEW THEORIES OF PRISON DISCIPLINE AND MANAGEMENT.


Mrs. Fry's opinions on prison discipline and management were necessarily
much opposed to those which had obtained prior to her day. No one who
has followed her career attentively, can fail to perceive that her
course of prison management was based upon well arranged and carefully
worked out principles. In various letters, in evidence before committees
of both Houses of Parliament, and in private intercourse, Mrs. Fry made
these principles and rules as fully known and as widely proclaimed as it
was possible to do. But, like all reformers, she felt the need of
securing a wider dissemination of them. Evidence given before
committees, was, in many points, deferred to; private suggestions and
recommendations were frequently adopted, but a large class of inquirers
were too far from the sphere of her influence to be moved in this way.
For the sake of these, and the general public, she deemed it wise to
embody her opinions and rules in a treatise, which gives in small
compass, but very clearly, the _rationale_ of her treatment of
prisoners; and lays down suggestions, hints, and principles upon which
others could work. Within about seventy octavo pages, she discourses
practically and plainly on the formation of Ladies' Committees for
visiting prisons, on the right method of proceeding in a prison after
the formation of such a committee, on female officers in prisons, on
separate prisons for females, on inspection and classification, on
instruction and employment, on medical attendance, diet, and clothing,
and on benevolent efforts for prisoners who have served their sentences.
It is easy to recognize in these pages the Quakeress, the woman, and the
Christian. She recommends to the attention of ladies, as departments for
doing good, not only prisons, but lunatic asylums, hospitals and
workhouses. At the same time she strongly recommends that only _orderly_
and _experienced_ visitors should endeavor to penetrate into the abodes
of vice and wickedness, which the prisons of England at that day mostly
were. Among other judicious counsels for the conduct of these visitors
occur the following, which read as coming from her own experience. That
this was the case we may feel assured; Mrs. Fry was too wise and too
womanly not to warn others from the pit-falls over which she had
stumbled, or to permit anyone to fall into her early mistakes:--

     "Much depends on the spirit in which the worker enters upon her
     work. It must be the spirit not of judgment but of mercy. She must
     not say in her heart, 'I am holier than thou'; but must rather keep
     in perpetual remembrance that '_all_ have sinned,' and that,
     therefore, great pity is due from us even to the greatest
     transgressors among our fellow-creatures, and that in meekness and
     love we ought to labor for their restoration. The good principle in
     the hearts of many abandoned persons may be compared to the few
     remaining sparks of a nearly extinguished fire. By means of the
     utmost care and attention, united with the most gentle treatment,
     these may yet be fanned into a flame; but under the operation of a
     rough and violent hand they will presently disappear and be lost
     forever. In our conduct with these unfortunate females, kindness,
     gentleness, and true humility ought ever to be united with serenity
     and firmness. Nor will it be safe ever to descend, in our
     intercourse with them, to _familiarity_, for there is a dignity in
     the Christian character which demands, and will obtain, respect;
     and which is powerful in its influence even over dissolute
     minds.... Neither is it by any means wise to converse with them on
     the subject of the crimes of which they are accused or convicted,
     for such conversation is injurious both to the criminals themselves
     and to others who hear them; and, moreover, too frequently leads
     them to add sin to sin, by uttering the grossest falsehoods. And
     those who engage in the interesting task of visiting criminals must
     not be impatient if they find the work of reformation a very slow
     one.... Much disadvantage will accrue generally from endeavors on
     the part of visiting ladies to procure the mitigation of the
     sentences of criminals. Such endeavors ought never to be made
     except where the cases are remarkably clear, and then through the
     official channels. Deeply as we must deplore the baneful effects of
     the punishment of death, and painful as we must feel it to be that
     our fellow-creatures, in whose welfare we are interested, should be
     prematurely plunged into an awful eternity, yet, while our laws
     continue as they are, unless they can bring forward _decided facts_
     in favor of the condemned, it is wiser for the visiting ladies to
     be quiet, and to submit to decrees which they cannot alter."

In reference to the choice of officers, she strongly insists that all
officers--superior and inferior--shall be females. She prefers a widow
for the post of matron, because of her superior knowledge of the world
and of life; and never should she or her subordinates be chosen "because
the situation is suited to their wants, but because they are suited to
fill the situation." She holds it of the first importance that the
matrons should not only be of a superior station in life, but that they
should be decidedly religious. This little book was written in 1827, but
from her insistence upon this as a first requisite in proper dealing
with female prisoners, it appears likely that the then recent act of
George IV., had not been commonly complied with. This act provides that
a "matron shall be appointed in every prison in which female prisoners
shall be confined, who shall reside in the prison; and it shall be the
duty of the matron constantly to superintend the female prisoners."
Again, another clause of the Act says, "Females shall in all cases be
attended by female officers." That these provisions had only been
partially carried out, is proved by her words relative to this clause:
"Since the passing of the late Act of Parliament for the regulations of
prisons, our large jails have been generally provided with a matron and
female turnkeys; but it is much to be regretted that in many smaller
prisons no such provisions have yet been adopted. Nor ought it to be
concealed that the persons selected to fill the office of matron are, in
various instances, unsuited to their posts; and in other cases are
unfitted for its fulfillment, by residing out of prison."

With respect to the classification of prisoners, Mrs. Fry recommends
four classes or divisions which should comprise the total:--1st.
Prisoners of previous good character, and guilty only of venial crimes.
This class, she suggests, should be allowed to dress a little better and
be put to lighter labors than the others. From their ranks, also, should
temporary officers be selected, while small pecuniary rewards might be
with propriety offered. 2d. Prisoners convicted of more serious crimes.
These should be treated with more strictness; but it should be possible
for a prisoner, by constant good conduct and obedience to rules, to rise
into the first class. 3d. In this class the privileges were to be
considerably diminished, while the 4th class consisted only of hardened
offenders, guilty of serious crimes, and of those who had been
frequently committed. "This class must undergo its peculiar privations
and hardships." Still, that hope may not entirely give place to despair,
Mrs. Fry recommends that even these criminals should be eligible for
promotion to the upper classes upon good behavior. It will be seen that
this system partook somewhat of Captain Machonochie's merit, or
good-mark system, introduced by him with such remarkable success into
Norfolk Island.

Among other suggestions relative to the classification of prisoners we
find one recommending the wearing of a ticket by each woman. Every
ticket was to be inscribed with a number, which number should agree with
the corresponding number on the class list. Each class list was to be
kept by the matron or visitors, and was to include a register of the
conduct of the prisoners. In the case of convicts on board convict-ships
proceeding to the penal settlements, Mrs. Fry recommended that not only
should the women wear these tickets, but that every article of
clothing, every book, and every piece of bedding should be similarly
numbered; even the convicts' seats at table should be distinguished by
the same numbers in order to prevent disputes, and to promote order and
regularity.

She considered the most thorough, vigilant, and unremitting inspection
essential to a correct system of prison discipline; by this means she
anticipated that an effectual, if slow, change of habits might be
produced.

With regard to the instruction of prisoners, she held decided views as
to the primary importance of Scriptural knowledge. The Bible, and the
Bible alone, was to be the text-book for this purpose, while nothing
sectarian was to be admitted; but in their fullest sense, "the essential
and saving principles of our common Christianity were to be inculcated."
She recommended reading, writing, arithmetic, and needlework, the last
to carry with it a little remuneration, in order to afford the women
some encouragement. While acknowledging the wisdom of the Act of
Parliament which provided that prayers should be read daily in all
prisons, she strongly urges visitors and chaplains to teach privately
"that true religion and saving faith are in their nature practical, and
that the reality of repentance can be proved only by good works and by
an amendment in life and conversation."

For the employment of prisoners she recommends such occupations as
patchwork, knitting stockings, making articles of plain needlework,
washing, ironing, housework, cooking, spinning, and weaving. It should
in all cases be _constant_, and in the worst cases, _disciplinary_
labor. She recommends, under _strict limitations_, the treadmill for
hardened, refractory, and depraved women, but only for short periods.
All needleworkers especially should receive some remuneration for their
work, which remuneration should be allowed to accumulate for their
benefit by such time as their sentences expire, in order that when they
leave prison they may possess a little money wherewith to commence the
world afresh. Her words are: "The greater portion of their allotted
share of earnings, however, must be reserved for them against the time
of their leaving prison and returning to the world. The possession of a
moderate sum of money will _then_ be found of essential importance as
the means of preventing an almost irresistible temptation, the
temptation of want and money, to the renewal of criminal practices. And
if, in laboring for this remuneration the poor criminal has also gained
possession of the _habit_ of industry, and has learned to appreciate
the sweets of regular employment, it is more than probable that this
temptation may never occur again."

Mrs. Fry quotes largely from the Act of Parliament, relative to the
matters of diet, medical attendance, clothing, bedding, and firing. It
seemed to be the fact that the provisions of this Act did not extend to
prisons which were exclusively under local jurisdiction; she therefore
recommends lady visitors and committees to see them enforced as much as
possible. While preserving even-handed justice between criminals and the
country whose laws they have outraged, by suggesting that their
treatment should be sufficiently penal to be humiliating, that their
hair should be cut short, and all personal ornaments forbidden, she
pleads earnestly for proper bedding and firing. She says: "During
inclement weather, diseases are sometimes contracted by the unfortunate
inmates of our jails, which can never afterwards be removed. I believe
it has sometimes happened that poor creatures committed to prison for
trial, have left the place of their confinement, acquitted of crime, and
yet crippled for life."

From the same volume we find that Government had then inaugurated a
wiser, kinder system of dealing with the convicts destined for the
colonies. By the new regulations, females were allowed to take out with
them all children under the age of seven years; while a mother suckling
an infant was not compelled to leave England until the child was old
enough to be weaned. Again, the convicts were not to be manacled in any
way during their removal from the prison to the convict-ship; "but as
the rule is often infringed, it is desirable that ladies of the
committee should be vigilant on the subject, and should represent all
cases to the governor of the prison, and afterwards, if needful, to the
visiting magistrates." Further, the Government, or the boroughs, had to
provide the transports with needful clothing for the voyage; and, at the
end of it, the surgeon's or matron's certificate of good behavior was
sufficient to ensure employment for most of the women. Altogether it
seems certain that a new era for prisoners had dawned, and new ideas
prevailed in regard to them. How much Mrs. Fry's labors had contributed
to this state of things will never be fully known; but her work was
almost accomplished.

This little book, which is a perfect _Vade Mecum_ of prison management,
was written in the interest of lady visitors, and for their use. It is
still interesting, as showing Mrs. Fry's own mode of procedure, and the
principles upon which she acted. The few quotations given in this
chapter will, however, suffice for the general reader. She concludes
with a pregnant sentence: "Let our prison discipline be severe in
proportion to the enormity of the crimes of those on whom it is
exercised, and let its strictness be such as to deter others from a
similar course of iniquity, but let us ever aim at the _diminution of
crime_ through the just and happy medium of the REFORMATION OF
CRIMINALS."

Not only in the published page, but in other ways--in fact in every
possible way--did Mrs. Fry continue to proclaim the need of a new method
of ordering criminals, and also of so treating them, that they should be
fitted to return to society _improved_ and not _degraded_ by their
experience of penal measures. In 1832, she was called upon to give
evidence before another committee of the House of Commons, upon the best
mode of enforcing "secondary punishments" so as to repress crime. On
this occasion she dwelt particularly upon the points noticed in her book
published five years previously, and added one or two more. For
instance, while advocating complete separation at _night_, she quite as
earnestly contended against what was known as the "solitary system." On
this point she maintained that "solitude does not prepare women for
returning to social and domestic life, or tend so much to real
improvement, as carefully arranged intercourse during part of the day
with one another under the closest superintendence and inspection,
combined with constant occupation, and solitude at night." In her
evidence there occurs the following passage:--

     Every matron should live upon the spot, and be able to inspect them
     closely by night and by day; and when there are sufficient female
     prisoners to require it, female officers should be appointed, and a
     male turnkey never permitted to go into the women's apartments. I
     am convinced when a prison is properly managed it is unnecessary,
     because, by firm and gentle management, the most refractory may be
     controlled by their own sex. But here I must put in a word
     respecting ladies' visiting. I find a remarkable difference
     depending upon whether female officers are superintended by ladies
     or not. I can tell almost as soon as I go into the prison whether
     they are or not, from the general appearance both of the women and
     their officers. One reason is that many of the latter are not very
     superior women, not very high, either in principle or habits, and
     are liable to be contaminated; they soon get familiar with the
     prisoners, and cease to excite the respect due to their office;
     whereas, where ladies go in once, or twice, or three times a week,
     the effect produced is decided. Their attendance keeps the female
     officers in their places, makes them attend to their duty, and has
     a constant influence on the minds of the prisoners themselves. In
     short, I may say, after sixteen years' experience, that the result
     of ladies of principle and respectability superintending the female
     officers in prisons, and the prisons themselves, has far exceeded
     my most sanguine expectations. In no instance have I more clearly
     seen the beneficial effects of ladies' visiting and superintending
     prisoners than on board convict-ships. I have witnessed the
     alterations since ladies have visited them constantly in the river.
     I heard formerly of the most dreadful iniquity, confusion, and
     frequently great distress; latterly I have seen a very wonderful
     improvement in their conduct. And on the voyage, I have most
     valuable certificates to show the difference of their condition on
     their arrival in the colony. I can produce, if necessary, extracts
     from letters. Samuel Marsden, who has been chaplain there a good
     many years, says it is quite a different thing: that they used to
     come in a most filthy, abominable state, hardly fit for anything;
     now they arrive in good order, in a totally different situation.
     And I have heard the same thing from others. General Darling's
     wife, a very valuable lady, has adopted the same system there; she
     has visited the prison at Paramatta, and the same thing respecting
     the officers is felt there as it is here. On the Continent of
     Europe, in various parts--St. Petersburg, Geneva, Turin, Berne,
     Basle, and some other places--there are corresponding societies,
     and the result is the same in every part. In Berlin they are doing
     wonders--I hear a most satisfactory account; and in St. Petersburg,
     where, from the barbarous state of the people, it was said it could
     not be done, the conduct of the prisoners has been perfectly
     astonishing--an entire change has been produced.

On the 22d of May, 1835, Mrs. Fry was desired to attend the Select
Committee of the House of Lords, appointed to inquire into the state of
the several jails and houses of correction in England and Wales. She
went, accompanied by three ladies, co-workers, and escorted by Sir T.
Fowell Buxton. The Duke of Richmond was chairman of the committee, which
included some twelve or fifteen noblemen. An eyewitness wrote afterwards
respecting Mrs. Fry's behavior and manner: "Never, should I think, was
the calm dignity of her character more conspicuous. Perfectly
self-possessed, her speech flowed melodiously, her ideas were clearly
expressed, and if another thought possessed her besides that of
delivering her opinions faithfully and judiciously upon the subjects
brought before her, it was that she might speak of her Lord and Master
in that noble company."

The principal topics treated of in her evidence before this committee
were connected with the general state of female prisons. Among other
things, she urged the want of more instruction, but that such
instruction should not be given privately and _alone_ to women; that the
treadmill was an undesirable punishment for women; that matrons were
required to be suitable in character, age, and capability for the post;
that equality in labor and diet was needed; and she insisted on the
imperative necessity of Government inspectors in both Scotch and English
prisons and convict-ships. She enlarged upon these matters in the manner
the subject demanded, and gave the committee the impression of being in
solemn earnest. Her quiet, Christian dignity impressed all who listened
to her voice, while the most respectful consideration was paid to her
suggestions. In reply to a question touching the instruction of the
prisoners, she says:--

     I believe the effect of religious and other instruction is hardly
     to be calculated on; and I may further say that, notwithstanding
     the high estimation and reverence in which I held the Holy
     Scriptures, before I went to the prisons, as believing them to be
     written by inspiration of God, and therefore calculated to produce
     the greatest good, I have seen, in reading the Scripture to those
     women, such a power attending them, and such an effect on the minds
     of the most reprobate, as I could not have conceived. If anyone
     wants a confirmation of the truth of Christianity let him go and
     read the Scriptures in prison to poor sinners; you there see how
     the Gospel is exactly adapted to the fallen condition of man. It
     has strongly confirmed my faith; and I feel it to be the bounden
     duty of the Government and the country that these truths shall be
     administered in the manner most likely to conduce to the real
     reformation of the prisoner. You then go to the root of the matter,
     for though severe punishment may in a measure deter them and others
     from crime, it does not amend the character and change the heart;
     but if you have altered the principles of the individual, they are
     not only deterred from crime because of the fear of punishment, but
     they go out, and set a bright example to others.

Both the _silent_ and _solitary_ systems were condemned by her as being
particularly liable to abuse. She considered the silent system cruel,
and especially adapted to harden the heart of a criminal even to moral
petrefaction. But the strongest protest was made against _solitary_
confinement. Upon every available opportunity she spoke against it to
those who were in power. Unless the offense was of a very aggravated
nature, she doubted the right of any man to place a fellow-creature in
such misery. Some intercourse with his fellow-creatures seemed
imperatively necessary if the prisoner's life and reason were to be
preserved to him, and his mind to be kept from feeding upon the dark
past. To dark cells she had an unconquerable aversion. Sometimes she
would picture the possibility of the return of days of persecution, and
urge one consideration founded upon the self-interest of the authorities
themselves. "They may be building, though they little think it, dungeons
for their children and their children's children if times of religious
persecution or political disturbance should return." For this reason, if
for no other, she urged upon those who were contemplating the erection
of new prisons, the prime necessity of constructing those prisons so as
to enable them to conform to the requirements of humanity.

Her opinions and reasons for and against the solitary system of
confinement are well given in a communication sent to M. de Béranger
after a visit to Paris, during which the subject of prison-management
had formed a staple theme of discussion in the _salons_ of that city.
With much practical insight and clearness of reasoning, Mrs. Fry
marshalled all the stock arguments, adding thereto such as her own
experience taught.

In favor of the solitary system were to be urged:--

1st. The prevention of all contamination by their fellow-prisoners.

2d. The impossibility of forming intimacies calculated to be injurious
in after life.

3d. The increased solitude, which afforded larger opportunities for
serious reflection and, if so disposed, repentance and prayer by the
criminal.

4th. The prevention of total loss of character on the part of the
prisoner, seeing that the _privacy_ of the confinement would operate
against the recognition of him by fellow-prisoners upon regaining their
liberty.

Against it the following reasons could be urged--

1st. The extreme liability to ill-treatment or indulgence, according to
the mood and disposition of the officers in charge.

2d. The extreme difficulty of obtaining a sufficiently large number of
honest, high-principled, just men and women, to carry out the solitary
system with impartiality, firmness, and, at the same time, kindness.
This reason was strongly corroborated by the governors of Cold Bath
Fields Prison, and the great Central Prison at Beaulieu. Their own large
experience had taught them the difficulty of securing officers in all
respects _fit to be trusted_ with the administration of such a system.

3d. The very frequent result of the administration of this system by
incompetent or unfit officers would be the moral contamination of the
prisoners.

4th. The enormous expense of providing officers and accommodation
sufficient to include all the criminals of the country.

5th. The certainty of injury to body and mind from the continuance of
solitude for life. The digestive and vocal organs, and the reason would
inevitable suffer. In proof she quoted the notorious imbecility of the
aged monks of La Trappe: "We are credibly informed of the fact (in
addition to what we have known at home) that amongst the monks of La
Trappe few attain the age of sixty years without having suffered an
absolute decay of their mental powers, and fallen into premature
childishness."

6th. The danger lest increased solitude instead of promoting
repentance, should furnish favorable hours for the premeditation of new
crimes, and so confirm the criminal in hardened sin.

7th. The impossibility of fitting the prisoners for returning to society
under the system; whereas by teaching them useful employments and
trades, and training them to work in company for remuneration, habits
and customs may be induced which should aid in a life-long reformation.

Two or three years after the enunciation of these principles and
reasons, Mrs. Fry addressed a valuable communication to Colonel Jebb in
reference to the new Model Prison at Pentonville, then (1841,) in course
of construction:--

     We were much interested by our visit to this new prison. We think
     the building generally does credit to the architect, particularly
     in some important points, as ventilation, the plan of the
     galleries, the chapel, etc., and we were also much pleased to
     observe the arrangement for water in each cell, and that the
     prisoner could ring a bell in case of wanting help.

     The points that made us uneasy were, first, the dark cells, which
     we consider should never exist in a Christian and civilized
     country. I think having prisoners placed in these cells a
     punishment peculiarly liable to abuse. Whatever restrictions may be
     made for the governor of a jail, and however lenient those who
     _now_ govern, we can little calculate upon the change the future
     may produce, or how these very cells may one day be made use of in
     case of either political or religious disturbance in the country,
     or how any poor prisoner may be placed in them in case of a more
     severe administration of justice.

     I think no person should be placed in _total_ darkness; there
     should be a ray of light admitted. These cells appear to me
     calculated to excite such awful terror in the mind, not merely from
     their darkness but from the circumstance of their being placed
     within another cell, as well as being in such a dismal situation.

     I am always fearful of any punishment, beyond what the law publicly
     authorizes, being privately inflicted by any keeper or officer of a
     prison; for my experience most strongly proves that there are few
     men who are themselves sufficiently governed and regulated by
     Christian principle to be fit to have such power entrusted to their
     hands; and further, I observe that officers in prisons have
     generally so much to try and to provoke them that they themselves
     are apt to become hardened to the more tender feelings of humanity.
     They necessarily also see so much through the eyes of those under
     them, turnkeys and inferior officers, (too many of whom are little
     removed either in education or morals from the prisoners
     themselves,) that their judgments are not always just.

     The next point that struck us was, that in the cells generally the
     windows have that description of glass in them that even the sight
     of the sky is entirely precluded. I am aware that the motive is to
     prevent the possibility of seeing a fellow-prisoner; but I think a
     prison for separate confinement should be so constructed that the
     culprits may at least see the sky--indeed, I should prefer more
     than the sky--without the liability of seeing fellow-prisoners. My
     reason for this opinion is, that I consider it a very important
     object to preserve the health of mind and body in these poor
     creatures, and I am certain that separate confinement produces an
     unhealthy state both of mind and body. Therefore everything should
     be done to counteract this influence, which I am sure is baneful in
     its moral tendency; for I am satisfied that a sinful course of life
     increases the tendency to mental derangement, as well as to bodily
     disease; and I am as certain that an unhealthy state of mind and
     body has generally a demoralizing influence; and I consider light,
     air, and the power of seeing something beyond the mere monotonous
     walls of a cell highly important. I am aware that air is properly
     admitted, also light; still I do think they ought to see the sky,
     the changes in which make it a most pleasant object for those who
     are closely confined.

     When speaking of health of body and mind, I also mean health of
     soul, which is of the first importance, for I do not believe that a
     despairing or stupefied state is suitable for leading poor sinners
     to a Saviour's feet for pardon and salvation.

Mrs. Fry held quite as decided opinions upon lunatic asylums and their
keepers. It was something terrible to her to know that poor demented
creatures lay pining, chained and ill-treated, in dungeons; knowing no
will but the caprice of their keepers. She spared no efforts to improve
their condition; by tongue and pen she sought to enforce new principles
and modes of action, in relation to lunatics, into the mind of those who
had to govern them. So incessant were her labors to attain the ends she
had set before her, that there was not a country in Europe which she
did not influence. Almost daily communications were coming in from
France, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, and other countries,
detailing the success of the new plans which she had introduced and
recommended to the respective Governments. A regular correspondence was
kept up between her and Mr. Venning of St. Petersburg, by order of the
Empress of Russia, who took the greatest interest in the benevolent
enterprise. From some letters given in the _Memoirs of Mrs. Fry_ it
seems that the Empress felt a true Womanly compassion for the inmates of
the Government Lunatic Asylum, and inaugurated a system of more rational
treatment. How far her influence on behalf of the imprisoned and insane
was induced and fostered by the English Quakeress, was never fully known
until after her death, when a most interesting letter, addressed to the
children of Mrs. Fry, was published. This letter was sent to them by Mr.
John Venning, brother to Walter Venning, who had opened the
correspondence, but who had, like the benevolent lady with whom it was
maintained, "passed over to the majority." From this correspondence it
was found that the Emperor and Empress of Russia, the Princess Sophia
Mestchersky, Prince Galitzin, and many ladies of high rank, had been
stirred up to befriend those who had fallen under the strong arm of the
law, and to make their captivity more productive, if possible, of good
results.

Not only so, but lunatics, more helpless than prisoners, had been cared
for, as the outcome of Mrs. Fry's visits to St. Petersburg, and her
communications with the powers that were at that era. With these
preliminary words of explanation, the subjoined letter speaks for
itself:--

     I cheerfully comply with your desire to be furnished with some of
     the most striking and useful points contained in your late beloved
     mother's correspondence with myself in Russia, relative to the
     improvement of the Lunatic Asylum in St. Petersburg. I the more
     readily engage in this duty, because I am persuaded that its
     publication may, under the Lord's blessing, prove of great service
     to many such institutions on the Continent, as well as in Great
     Britain.... I begin by stating that her correspondence was
     invaluable, as regarded the treatment and management of both
     prisoners and insane people. It was the fruit of her own rich
     practical experience communicated with touching simplicity, and it
     produced lasting benefits to these institutions in Russia. In 1827,
     I informed your dear mother that I had presented to the Emperor
     Nicholas a statement of the defects of the Government Lunatic
     Asylum, which could only be compared to our own old Bedlam in
     London, fifty years since; and that the dowager Empress had sent
     for me to the Winter Palace, when she most kindly, and I may say,
     joyfully, informed me that she and her august son, the Emperor, had
     visited together this abode of misery. They were convinced of the
     necessity, not only of having a new building, but also of a
     complete reform in the management of the insane; and further that
     the Emperor had requested her to take it under her own care, and to
     appoint me the governor of it. I must observe that in the meantime
     the old asylum was immediately improved, as much as the building
     allowed, for the introduction of your dear mother's admirable
     system. Shortly after, I had the pleasure of accompanying the
     Empress to examine a palace-like house--Prince Sherbatoff's--having
     above two miles of garden, and a fine stream of water running
     through the grounds, situated only five miles from St. Petersburg.
     The next day an order was given to purchase it. I was permitted to
     send the plan of this immense building to your dear mother for her
     inspection, as well as to ask from her hints for its improvement.
     Two extensive wings were recommended, and subsequently added for
     dormitories. The wings cost about £15,000, and in addition to this
     sum from the Government, the Emperor, who was always ready to
     promote the cause of benevolence, gave three thousand pounds for
     cast-iron window-frames, recommended by your dear mother, as the
     clumsy iron bars which had been used in the old institution had
     induced many a poor inmate, when looking at them, to say with a
     sigh, "Sir, prison, prison!" Your dear mother, also strongly
     recommended that all, except the violent lunatics, should dine
     together at a table covered with a cloth, and furnished with plates
     and spoons.

     The former method of serving out the food was most disgusting. This
     new plan delighted the Empress, and I soon received an order to
     meet her at the asylum. On her arrival she requested that a table
     should be covered, and then desired me to go round and invite the
     inmates to come and dine. Sixteen came immediately, and sat down.
     The Empress approached the table, and ordered one of the upper
     servants to sit at the head of it and to ask a blessing. When the
     servant arose to do this, they all stood up. The soup, with small
     pieces of meat, was then regularly served; and as soon as dinner
     was finished, they all rose up spontaneously and thanked the
     Empress for her motherly kindness. I saw that the kind Empress was
     deeply moved, and turning to me she said, "_Mon Cher_, this is one
     of the happiest days of my life." The next day the number increased
     at table, and so it continued increasing. After your dear mother's
     return from Ireland, where she had been visiting, among other
     institutions, the lunatic asylums, she wrote me a letter on the
     great importance of supplying the lunatics with the Scriptures.
     This letter deserved to be written in letters of gold; I sent it to
     the Imperial family; it excited the most pleasing feelings and
     marked approbation. The court physician, His Excellency Dr. Riehl,
     a most enlightened and devoted philanthropist, came to me for a
     copy of it. It removed all the difficulty there had been respecting
     giving the Holy Scriptures to the inmates. I was therefore
     permitted to furnish them with copies, in their various languages.
     It may be useful to state the result of this measure, which was
     considered by some to be a wild and dangerous proceeding. I soon
     found groups collected together, listening patiently and quietly to
     one of their number reading the New Testament. Instead of
     disturbing their minds, it soothed and delighted them. I have
     witnessed a poor lunatic, a Frenchman, during an interval of
     returning reason, reading the New Testament in his bed-room, with
     tears running down his cheeks; also a Russian priest, a lunatic,
     collected a number together, while he read to them the Word of God.

     On one occasion I witnessed a most interesting scene. On entering
     the institution, I found a young woman dying; her eyes were closed,
     and she was apparently breathing her last breath. I ordered one of
     the servants of the institution to read very loud to her that
     verse, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
     Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have
     everlasting life." Dr. K---- observed, "Sir, she is almost dead,
     and it is useless." On my urging its being done, lo! to the
     astonishment of all present, she opened her eyes and smiled. I
     said: "Is it sweet, my dear?" She nodded assent. "Shall it be read
     to you again?" A smile and nod of the head followed. She evidently
     possessed her reason at that moment, and who can trace, or limit,
     the operation of the Holy Spirit, on the reading of God's own Word
     even in her circumstances?

     When I received a letter from your mother I always wrote it out in
     French, and presented it in that language to the Empress; and when
     she had read it, it was very encouraging to see with what alacrity
     she ordered one of her secretaries to translate it into Russian,
     and then deliver it to me to be conveyed to the asylum, and entered
     into the journal there, for immediate adoption. I remember on one
     occasion, taking a list of rules, at least fourteen in number, and
     the same day were confirmed by the Empress. These rules introduced
     the following important arrangements; viz., the treating the
     inmates, as far as possible as sane persons, both in conversation
     and manners toward them; to allow them as much liberty as possible;
     to engage them daily to take exercise in the open air; to allow
     them to wear their own clothes and no uniform prison-dress; also to
     break up the inhuman system of permitting the promiscuous idle
     curiosity of the public, so that no one was allowed to see them
     without permission; a room, on entering the asylum, was prepared
     for one at a time, on certain days, to see their relations. The old
     cruel system drew forth many angry expressions from the poor
     lunatics: "Are we, then, wild beasts, to be gazed at?"

     The Empress made a present to the institution of a piano-forte; it
     had also a hand-organ, which pleased the poor inmates exceedingly.
     On one occasion the Empress, on entering the asylum, observed that
     the inmates appeared unusually dull, when she called them near, and
     played on the hand-organ herself an enlivening tune.

     Another important rule of your mother's was, most strictly to
     fulfill whatever you promise to any of the inmates, and, above all,
     to exercise patience, gentleness, kindness, and love towards them;
     therefore, to be exceedingly careful as to the character of the
     keepers you appoint. These are some of the pleasing results of your
     mother's work. The dowager Empress, on one occasion, conversing
     about your mother, said: "How much I should like to see that
     excellent woman, Madame Fry, in Russia;" and often did I indulge
     that wish. What a meeting it would have been, between two such
     devoted philanthropists as your mother and the dowager Empress, who
     was daily devoting her time and fortune to doing good.... Although
     the Empress was in her sixty-ninth year, I had the felicity of
     accompanying her in no less than eleven of her personal visits to
     the Lunatic Asylum, say from February to October, 1828. On the 24th
     of October she died, to the deep-felt regret of the whole empire.
     Rozoff, a young lunatic, as soon as he heard it, burst into tears.
     She would visit each lunatic, when bodily afflicted, and send an
     easy chair for one, and nicely-dressed meat for others; and weekly
     send from the palace wine, coffee, tea, sugar and fruit for their
     use.

     Among the many striking features in your mother's correspondence,
     her love to the Word of God, and her desire for its general
     circulation, were very apparent. Evidently, that sacred book was
     the fountain whence she herself derived all that strength and grace
     to carry on her work of faith and labor of love, which her Divine
     Master so richly blessed.... In December 1827, when accompanying
     the Emperor Nicholas through the new Litoffsky Prison, he was not
     only well pleased to find every cell fully supplied with the
     Scriptures--the rich result of his having confirmed the late
     Emperor Alexander's orders to give the Scriptures gratis to all the
     prisoners--but on seeing some Jews in the prison he said to me: "I
     hope you also furnish these poor people with them, that they may
     become Christians; I pity them." I witnessed a most touching scene
     on the Emperor's entering the debtors' room; three old, venerable,
     gray-headed men fell on their knees and cried, "Father, have mercy
     on us!" The Emperor stretched out his hand in the peculiar grandeur
     of his manner, and said: "Rise; all your debts are paid; from this
     moment you are free"; without knowing the amount of the debts, one
     of which was very considerable. I hope this feeble attempt to
     detail a little of your dear mother's useful work may be
     acceptable, leaving you to make what use of it you think proper.

Such testimonies as these must have been peculiarly grateful to Mrs.
Fry's family, because it is natural to desire not only success in any
good work, but also grateful remembrance and appreciation, of it.
Sometimes, however, the reverse was the case; even those whom she had
endeavored to serve had turned out ungrateful, impudent and hardened.
Yet her loving pity followed even them: still, like the Lord whom she
served, she loved them in spite of their repulsiveness and ingratitude.
And when some notably ungrateful things were reported to her respecting
the female convicts on board the _Amphitrite_, she only prayed and
sorrowed for them the more. Especially was this the case when she heard
that the ship had gone down on the French coast, bearing to their tomb
beneath the sad sea waves, the 120 women, with their children, being
conveyed in her to New South Wales. Not one hard thought did she
entertain of them: all was charity, sorrow and tenderness. And if for
one little moment her new theories as to the treatment of criminals
seemed to be broken down, never for an instant did she set them aside.
She knew that perfection could only be attained after many long years of
trial and probation. While undermining the old ideas, she set herself an
equally gigantic task in establishing the new.



CHAPTER XII.

MRS. FRY IN DOMESTIC AND RELIGIOUS LIFE.


Hitherto our little monograph has dealt mainly with Mrs. Fry's _public_
life and work. Possibly, however, the reader may now feel curious to
know how she bore the strain of private responsibilities; how as a wife,
mother, neighbor, and Christian, she performed the duties which usually
fall to people in those positions. It does not appear that she was
wanting in any of them.

As the wife of a city merchant, as the mistress, until reverses came, of
a large household, as the mother of a numerous family of boys and girls,
and as the plain Friend, and minister among Friends, she seems to have
fulfilled the duties which devolved upon her with quiet, cheerful
simplicity, persevering conscientiousness, and prayerful earnestness.
She was much the same in sunshine and in shadow, in losses and in
prosperity; her only anxiety was to do what was right. From the
revelations of her journal we find that self-examination caused her
frequently to put into the form of writing, the questions which
harassed her soul. There can be no reasonable doubt that she _was_
harassed as all over-conscientious people are--with the fear and
consciousness that her duties were not half done. How few of this class
ever contemplate themselves or their works with anything like
satisfaction! A short extract from her journal penned during the first
years of her wedded life affords the key to this self-examination, a
self-examination which was strictly continued as long as reason held her
sway. This entry is entitled "Questions for Myself."

"First.--Hast thou this day been honest and true in performing thy duty
towards thy Creator in the first place, and secondly towards thy
fellow-creatures; or hast thou sophisticated and flinched?

"Second.--Hast thou been vigilant in frequently pausing, in the hurry
and career of the day, to see who thou art endeavoring to serve: whether
thy Maker or thyself? And every time that trial or temptation assailed
thee, didst thou endeavor to look steadily at the Delivering Power, even
to Christ who can do all things for thee?

"Third.--Hast thou endeavored to perform thy relative duties faithfully;
been a tender, loving, yielding wife, where thy own will and pleasure
were concerned, a tender yet steady mother with thy children, making
thyself quickly and strictly obeyed, but careful in what thou requirest
of them; a kind yet honest mistress, telling thy servants their faults,
when thou thinkest it for their or thy good, but never unnecessarily
worrying thyself or them about trifles, and to everyone endeavoring to
do as thou wouldst be done unto?"

A life governed by these principles, and measured by these rules, was
not likely to be otherwise than strictly, severely, nervously good. We
use the word "nervously" because here and there, up and down the pages
of her journal are scattered numerous passages full of such questions as
the above. None ever peered into their hearts, or searched their lives
more relentlessly than she did. Upright, self-denying, just, pure,
charitable, "hoping all things, bearing all things, believing all
things," she judged herself by a stricter law than she judged others;
condemning in herself what she allowed to be expedient, if not lawful,
in others, and laying bare her inmost heart before her God. After she
had done all that she judged it to be her duty to do, she humbly and
tearfully acknowledged herself to be one of the Lord's most
"unprofitable servants." It would be useless to endeavor to measure such
a life by any rules of worldly polity or fashions. An extract written
at this time, relative to the welfare and treatment of servants, may be
of use in showing how she permitted her sound sense and practical daily
piety to decide for her in emergencies and anxieties growing out of the
"mistress and servant" question. "At this time there is no set of people
I feel so much about as servants; as I do not think they have generally
justice done to them. They are too much considered as another race of
beings, and we are apt to forget that the holy injunction holds good
with them: 'As ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them.' I believe in striving to do so we shall not take them out of
their station in life, but endeavor to render them happy and contented
in it, and be truly their friends, though not their familiars or equals,
as to the things of this life. We have reason to believe that the
difference in our stations is ordered by a wiser than ourselves, who
directs us how to fill our different places; but we must endeavor never
to forget that in the best sense we are all one, and, though our paths
may be different, we have all souls equally valuable, and have all the
same work to do, which, if properly considered, should lead us to have
great sympathy and love, and also a constant care for their welfare,
both here and hereafter. We greatly misunderstand each other (I mean
servants and masters in general); I fully believe, partly from our
different situations in life, and partly from our different educations,
and the way in which each party is apt to view the other. Masters and
mistresses are greatly deficient, I think, in a general way; and so are
most servants towards them; it is for both to keep in view strictly to
do unto others as they would be done unto, and also to remember that we
are indeed all one with God."

As the mother of a large family, Mrs. Fry endeavored to do her duty
faithfully and lovingly. Twelve sons and daughters were given to her,
trained by her more or less, with reference not only to their temporal
welfare, but their spiritual also. In all the years of motherhood many
cares attached themselves to her. Illness, the deaths of near relatives,
and of one little child, the marriage of some of her children out of the
Society of Friends, losses in business, and consequent reduction of
household comforts and pleasures, the censure which sometimes followed
her most disinterested acts, and the exaggerated praise of others, all
combined to try her character and her spirit. Through it all she moved
and lived, like one who was surrounded with an angelic company of
witnesses; desirous only of laying up such a life-record that she could
with calmness face it in "that day for which all other days are made."

One after another the little fledglings came to the home-nest, to be
cared for, trained up, and fitted for their peculiar niches in life. But
in 1815, a new sorrow came to the fireside; the angel reaper Death cut
down the little Elizabeth, the seventh child, nearly five years of age,
and the special darling of the band. Her illness was very short,
scarcely lasting a week; but even during that illness her docile,
intelligent spirit exhibited itself in new and more endearing phases.
Death was only anticipated during the last few hours of life, and when
the fatal issue appeared but too certain the parents sat in agonized
silence, watching the darling whom they could not save. Mrs. Fry begged
earnestly of the Great Disposer of life and death that he would spare
the child, if consonant with His holy will; but when the end came, and
the child had passed "through the pearly gates into the city" she
uttered an audible thanksgiving that she was at last where neither sin,
sorrow, nor death could have any dominion. No words can do justice to
this event like her own, written in her journal at that time. The pages
recall all a mother's love and yearning tenderness, together with a
Christian's strong confidence:--

     It has pleased Almighty and Infinite Wisdom to take from us our
     most dear and tenderly-beloved child little Betsy, between four
     and five years old. In receiving her, as well as giving her back
     again, we have, I believe, been enabled to bless the Sacred Name.
     She was a very precious child, of much wisdom for her years, and, I
     can hardly help believing, much grace; liable to the frailty of
     childhood, at times she would differ with the little ones and
     rather loved her own way, but she was very easy to lead though not
     one to be driven. She had most tender affections, a good
     understanding for her years, and a remarkably staid and solid mind.
     Her love was very strong, and her little attentions great to those
     she loved, and remarkable in her kindness to servants, poor people,
     and all animals; she had much feeling for them; but what was more,
     the bent of her mind was remarkably toward serious things. It was a
     subject she loved to dwell upon: she would often talk of "Almighty
     God," and almost everything that had connection with Him. On Third
     Day, after some suffering of body from great sickness, she appeared
     wonderfully relieved ... and, began by telling me how many hymns
     and stories she knew, with her countenance greatly animated, a
     flush on her cheeks, her eyes very bright, and a smile of
     inexpressible content, almost joy. I think she first said, with a
     powerful voice,--

         How glorious is our Heavenly King,
           Who reigns above the sky;

     and then expressed how beautiful it was, and how the little
     children that die stand before Him; but she did not remember all
     the words of the hymn, nor could I help her. She then mentioned
     other hymns, and many sweet things ... her heart appeared
     inexpressibly to overflow with love. Afterwards she told me one or
     two droll stories, and made clear and bright comments as she went
     along; then stopped a little while, and said in the fullness of
     her heart, and the joy of a little innocent child.... "Mamma, I
     love everybody better than myself, and I love thee better than
     anybody, and I love Almighty much better than thee, and I hope thee
     loves Almighty much better than me."... I appeared to satisfy her
     that it was so. This was on Third Day morning, and she was a corpse
     on Fifth Day evening; but in her death there was abundant cause for
     thanksgiving; prayer appeared indeed to be answered, as very little
     if any suffering seemed to attend her, and no struggle at last, but
     her breathing grew more and more slow and gentle, till she ceased
     to breathe at all. During the day, being from time to time
     strengthened in prayer, in heart, and in word, I found myself only
     led to ask for her that she might be for ever with her God, whether
     she remained much longer in time or not; but, that if it pleased
     Infinite Wisdom her sufferings might be mitigated, and as far as it
     was needful for her to suffer that she might be sustained. This was
     marvellously answered beyond anything we could expect from the
     nature of the complaint.... I desire never to forget this favor,
     but, if it please Infinite Wisdom, to be preserved from repining or
     unduly giving way to lamentation for losing so sweet a child.... I
     have been permitted to feel inexpressible pangs at her loss, though
     at first it was so much like partaking with her in joy and glory,
     that I could not mourn if I would, only rejoice almost with joy
     unspeakable and full of glory. But if very deep baptism was
     afterwards permitted me, like the enemy coming in as a flood; but
     even here a way for escape has been made, my supplication answered
     ... and the bitter cup sweetened; but at others my loss has touched
     me in a manner almost inexpressible, to awake and find my
     much-loved little girl so totally fled from my view, so many
     pleasant pictures marred. As far as I am concerned, I view it as a
     separation from a sweet source of comfort and enjoyment, but surely
     not a real evil. Abundant comforts are left me if it please my kind
     and Heavenly Father to provide me power to enjoy them, and
     continually in heart to return him thanks for His unutterable
     loving kindness to my tenderly-beloved little one, who had so sweet
     and easy a life and so tranquil a death.... My much-loved husband
     and I have drunk this cup together in close sympathy and unity of
     feeling. It has at times been very bitter to us both; but as an
     outward alleviation, we have, I believe, been in measure each
     other's joy and helpers. The sweet children have also tenderly
     sympathized; brothers, sisters, servants, and friends, have been
     very near and dear in showing their kindness not only to the
     darling child, but to me, and to us all.... We find outwardly and
     inwardly, "the Lord did provide."

The little lost Betsey, who "just came to show how sweet a flower for
Paradise could bloom," was thenceforth a sacred memory; for from that
day they had a connecting link between their household and the skies.
Very frequently, even in the midst of her multifarious engagements, her
thoughts wandered off to the little grave in Barking burying-ground,
where rested the remains of the dear child, and, perchance, a tenderer
tone crept into her voice as she dealt with the outcast children of
prisons and reformatories. Soon after this event the elder boys and
girls went to school among their relatives, and only the youngest were
left at Plashet House with her. As a new baby came within six months
after little Betsey's death, the motherly hands were still full. She
found, however, time to write letters of wise and mother-like counsels.

     My much-loved girls:--Your letters received last evening gave us
     much pleasure. I anxiously hope that you will now do your utmost in
     whatever respects your education, not only on your own account, but
     for our sake. I look forward to your return with so much comfort,
     as useful and valuable helpers to me, which you will be all the
     more if you get forward yourselves. I see quite a field of useful
     service and enjoyment for you, should we be favored to meet under
     comfortable circumstances in the spring. I mean that you should
     have a certain department to fill in the house, amongst the
     children and the poor, as well as your own studies and enjoyments;
     I think there was not often a brighter opening for two girls.
     Plashet is, after all, such a home, it now looks sweetly; and your
     little room is almost a temptation to me to take it for a
     sitting-room for myself, it is so pretty and so snug; it is newly
     furnished, and looks very pleasant indeed. The poor, and the
     school, will, I think, be glad to have you home, for help is wanted
     in these things. Indeed, if your hearts are but turned the right
     way, you may, I believe, be made instruments of much good, and I
     shall be glad to have the day come that I may introduce you into
     prisons and hospitals.... This appears to me to be your present
     business--to give all diligence to your present duties; and I
     cannot help believing, if this be the case, that the day will come
     when you will be brought into much usefulness.

As the years rolled on, her boys went to school also; but they were
followed by a loving mother's counsels. From her correspondence with
them we cull a few extracts to prove how constant and tender was her
care over them, and how far-reaching her anxieties. Two or three
specimens will suffice.

Upon the departure of each of her boys for boarding-school she wrote out
and gave him a copy of the following rules. They are valuable, as
showing how carefully she watched over their mental and moral welfare.

"1st. Be regular, strict in attending to religious duties; and do not
allow other boys around thee to prevent thy having some portion of time
for reading at least a text of Scripture, meditation and prayer; and if
it appear to be a duty, flinch not from bowing the knee before them, as
a mark of thy allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Attend
diligently when the holy Scriptures are read, or to any other religious
instruction, and endeavor in Meeting to seek after a serious waiting
state of mind, and to watch unto prayer. Let First Day be well employed
in reading proper books, etc., but also enjoy the rest of innocent
recreation, afforded in admiring the beauties of nature; for I believe
this is right in the ordering of a kind Providence that there should be
some rest and recreation in it. Show a proper, bold, and manly spirit
in maintaining among thy play-fellows a religious character, and strict
attention to all religious duties. Remember these texts to strengthen
thee in it. 'For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me, and My words, of him
shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, in
His Father's, and of the holy angels.' 'But I say unto you, whosoever
shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess
before the angels of God; but he that denieth Me before man shall be
denied before the angels of God.' Now, the sooner the dread laugh of the
world loses its power, the better for you.... But strongly as I advise
thee thus faithfully maintaining thy principles and doing thy duty, I
would have thee very careful of either judging or reproving others; for
it takes a long time to get the beam out of our own eye, before we can
see clearly to take the mote out of our brother's eye. There is for one
young in years, much greater safety in preaching to others by example,
than in word, or doing what is done in an upright, manly spirit, 'unto
the Lord, and not unto man.'

"2d. I shall not speak of moral conduct, which, if religious principles
be kept to, we may believe will be good; but I shall give certain hints
that may point out the temptations to which schools are particularly
liable. I have observed a want of strict integrity in school-boys, as it
respects their schoolmasters and teachers--a disposition to cheat them,
to do that behind their backs which they would not do before their
faces, and so having two faces. Now, this is a subject of the utmost
importance--to maintain truth and integrity upon all points. Be not
double-minded in any degree, but faithfully maintain, not only the
upright principle on religious ground, but also the brightest honor,
according to the maxims of the world. I mourn to say I have seen the
want of this bright honor, not only in school-boys, but in some of our
highly-professing society; and my belief is that it cannot be too
strictly maintained, or too early begun. I like to see it in small
things, and in great; for it marks the upright man. I may say that I
abhor anything like being under-handed or double-dealing; but let us go
on the right and noble principle of doing to others as we would have
others do to us; therefore, in all transactions, small and great,
maintain strictly the correct, upright, and most honorable practice. I
have heard of boys robbing their neighbors' fruit, etc.; I may truly say
that I believe there are very few in the present day would do such
things, but no circumstances can make this other than a shameful
deviation from all honest and right principles. My belief is, that such
habits begun in youth end mostly in great incorrectness in future life,
if not in gross sin; and that no excuse can be pleaded for such actions,
for sin is equally sin, whether committed by the school-boy or those of
mature years, which is too apt to be forgotten, and that punishment
_will_ follow."

In a letter to her eldest son she begs him to try to be a learned man,
not to neglect the modern languages; but so to improve his time at
school that he may become in manhood a power for good; and then, by
various thoughtful kindnesses manifests her unwearying care for his
welfare.

She gratefully acknowledges, in another communication to a sister, the
assistance which that sister rendered in educating some of the elder
girls, for a time, so enabling Mrs. Fry herself to be set free for the
multitude of other duties awaiting her.

As years rolled by, an acute cause of sorrow to her was the marriage of
one, then another of her numerous family out of the Society. They mostly
married into families connected with the Church of England; but as the
Society of Friends disunite from membership all who marry out of it,
and as parents are blamed for permitting such unions, her sorrow was
somewhat heavy. She even anticipated being cut off from the privilege of
ministry in the Society; but to the credit of that Society, it does not
appear that it silenced her in return for the forsaking, by her
children, of "the old paths." Whether Quakerism was too old-fashioned
and strict for the young people, or the attractions of families other
than Friends more powerful, we cannot say. However, it seems that the
young folks grew up to be useful and God-fearing in the main, so that
the Church universal lost nothing by their transference into other
communions.

  When joy seems highest
  Then sorrow is nighest,

says the old rhyme. An experience of this sort came to Mrs. Fry. One of
her children had just married an estimable member of the Society of
Friends, and while rejoicing with the young couple, she appeared to be
drawn out in thankfulness for the many mercies vouchsafed to her. Her
cup seemed brimming over with joy; and after the bridal party had
departed, one of her daughters came across the lawn to remark to her
mother on the beauty of the scene, finishing by a reference to the
temporal prosperity which was granted them. Mrs. Fry could do no other
than acquiesce in the sentiments expressed, but added, with almost
prophetic insight, "But I have remarked that when great outward
prosperity is granted it is often permitted to precede great trials."
This was in the summer of 1828; before that year ended the family was
struggling in the waves of adversity, losses, and trials--struggling,
indeed, to preserve that honest name which had hitherto been the pride
of Mr. Fry's firm.

One of the houses of business with which Mr. Fry was connected at this
time failed, and his income was largely diminished. The house which he
personally conducted was still able to meet all its obligations; but the
blow in connection with this other firm was so staggering that they were
forced to submit to the pressure of straitened means, at least for a
time. We are told, indeed, by Mrs. Fry's daughters, that this failure
"involved Mrs. Fry and her family in a train of sorrows and perplexities
which tinged the remaining years of her life." The strict principles and
the not less strict discipline of the Society of Friends rendered her
course of action at that juncture very doubtful. Occupying the prominent
positions she had before the nation--indeed before the world, for Mrs.
Fry's name was a household word--it seemed impossible to her upright
spirit to face the usual Meeting on First Day. Her sensitive spirit
winced acutely at the reproach which _might perchance_ be cast upon the
name of religion; but after a prayerful pause she and her husband went,
accompanied by their children--at least such of them as were then at
home. She occupied her usual place at the Meeting, but the big tears
rolling down her face in quick succession, testified to the sorrow and
anguish which then became her lot. Yet before the session ended she
rose, calmed herself, and spoke, most thrillingly, from the words,
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," while the listeners
manifested their sympathy by tears and words of sorrow. In November of
that sad year she wrote the following letter to one of her children, in
reference to the trial:--

     I do not like to pour out my sorrows too heavily upon thee, nor do
     I like to keep thee in the dark as to our real state. This is, I
     consider, one of the deepest trials to which we are liable; its
     perplexities are so great and numerous, its mortifications and
     humiliations so abounding, and its sorrows so deep. None can tell,
     but those who have passed through it, the anguish of heart at times
     felt; but, thanks be to God, this extreme state of distress has not
     been very frequent, nor its continuance very long. I frequently
     find my mind in degree sheathed against the deep sorrows, and am
     enabled not to look so much at them; but there are also times when
     secondary things arise, such as parting with servants, schools, the
     poor around us, and our dear home. These things overwhelm me;
     indeed, I think naturally I have a very acute sense of the sorrow.
     Then the bright side of the picture arises. I have found such help
     and strength in prayer to God, and highly mysterious as this
     dispensation may be in some points of view, yet I think I have
     frequently, if not generally, been able to say, "Not as I will, but
     as Thou wilt," and bow under it. All our children and
     children-in-law, my brothers and sisters, our many friends and
     servants, have been a strong consolation to me.

It was not possible, however, for Mrs. Fry to suffer without
experiencing an unwonted measure of sympathy from all classes of the
community. Many hearts followed her most lovingly in these hours of
humiliation and sorrow; and when it was known that she must leave
Plashet House, the tide of deep sympathy overflowed more than one heart.
As a preliminary step the family moved, first to St. Mildred's Court,
then to the home of their eldest son. The business which had been
carried on there by Mr. Fry and his father was now conducted by his
sons; and by this the young men were enabled to provide for the comfort
of their parents. Their bidding good-bye to Plashet, however, entailed
very much that was sad to others. The schools hitherto supported by the
Frys were handed over to the care of the vicar of the parish; many old
pensioners and servants had to be given over to the kindness of others,
or in some cases, possibly, to the not very tender mercies of "the
parish;" while she herself, who had always laid it down as an
indispensable rule to be _just_ before being generous, was compelled to
conform her manner of life to somewhat narrow means.

Shakespeare says: "Sorrow comes not in single spies but in battalions,"
and experience proves the adage to be true. William Fry, the eldest son
of the family, was thrown upon a bed of illness, as the result of an
over-strained and exhausted brain; soon after, sickness spread through
the whole family, until the house, and even Plashet,--which, being
empty, afforded them a temporary shelter,--became a hospital on a small
scale. Yet at this time the kindly letters of sympathy and condolence
received from all quarters must have comforted and cheered her anguished
spirit. From a number of such communications we give two, one from
William Wilberforce, the other from Mrs. Opie. Wilberforce wrote:--

     You, I doubt not, will be enabled to _feel_, as well as to know,
     that even this event will be one of those which, in your instance,
     are working for good. You have been enabled to exhibit a bright
     specimen of Christian excellence in _doing_ the will of God, and, I
     doubt not, you will manifest a similar specimen in the harder and
     more difficult exercise of _suffering_ it. I have often thought
     that we are sometimes apt to forget that key, for unlocking what
     we deem to be very mysterious dispensations of Providence, in the
     misfortunes and afflictions of eminent servants of God, that is
     afforded by a passage in St. Paul's Epistle to his beloved
     Phillipians: "Unto you it is given, not only to believe on Him, but
     also to suffer for His sake." It is the strong only that will be
     selected for exhibiting these graces which require peculiar
     strength. May you, my dear friend (indeed, I doubt not you will),
     be enabled to bear the whole will of God with cheerful confidence
     in His unerring wisdom and unfailing goodness. May every loss of
     this world's wealth be more than compensated by a larger measure of
     the unsearchable riches of Christ.... Meanwhile you are richly
     provided with relatives and friends whom you love so well as to
     relish receiving kindnesses from them, as well as the far easier
     office of doing them....

In reply to this, it would seem that Mrs. Fry, while thankful for the
sympathy manifested on all hands, doubted the advisability of resuming
her benevolent labors among prisons and hospitals. Mr. Wilberforce
proved himself again a wise and far-seeing counsellor. He wrote:--

     I cannot delay assuring you that I do not see how it is possible
     for any reasonable being to doubt the propriety ... or, rather, let
     me say _the absolute duty_--of your renewing your prison
     visitations. A gracious Providence has blessed you with success in
     your endeavors to impress a set of miserables, whose character and
     circumstances might almost have extinguished hope, and you will
     return to them, if with diminished pecuniary powers, yet, we may
     trust, through the mercy and goodness of our Heavenly Father, with
     powers of a far higher order unimpaired, and with the augmented
     respect and regard of every sound judgment ... for having borne
     with becoming disposition a far harder trial certainly than any
     stroke which proceeds immediately from the hand of God. May you
     continue, my dear Madam, to be the honored instrument of great and
     rare benefits to almost the most pitiable of your fellow-creatures.

The _Record_ newspaper had suggested that additional contributions
should be sent to the chief of the societies which had been inaugurated
by Mrs. Fry, and so largely supported by her. The Marquis of
Cholmondeley wrote to Mrs. Opie, inquiring of that lady fuller
particulars of the disaster, in so far as it affected or was likely to
affect Mrs. Fry's benevolent work. He had been a staunch friend of her
labors, having seconded them many times when the life of a wretched
felon was at stake; and now, continuing the interest which he had
hitherto exhibited, he was fearful lest this business calamity would put
a stop to many of those labors. Mrs. Opie, whose friendship dated from
the old Norwich days, lost no time in writing as follows to her
suffering friend:--

     Though I have not hitherto felt free in mind to write to thee, my
     very dear friend, under thy present most severe trial, thou hast
     been continually, I may say, in my thoughts, brought feelingly and
     solemnly before me, both day and night. I must also tell thee that,
     two nights ago, I had a pleasing, cheering dream of thee:--I saw
     thee looking thy best, dressed with peculiar care and neatness, and
     smiling so brightly that I could not help stroking thy cheek, and
     saying, "Dear friend! it is quite delightful to me to see thee
     looking thus again, so like the Betsey Fry of former days;" and
     then I woke. But this sweet image of thee lives with me still....
     Since your trials were known, I have rarely, if ever, opened a page
     of Scripture without finding some promise applicable to thee and
     thine. I do not believe that I was looking for them, but they
     presented themselves unsought, and gave me comfort and confidence.
     Do not suppose, dear friend, that I am not fully aware of the
     peculiar bitterness and suffering which attends this trial in thy
     situation to thy own individual feeling; but, then, how precious
     and how cheering to thee must be the evidence it has called forth,
     of the love and respect of those who are near and dear to thee, and
     of the public at large. Adversity is indeed the time to try the
     hearts of our friends; and it must be now, or will be in future, a
     cordial to thee to remember that thou hast proved how truly and
     generally thou art beloved and reverenced.

Mrs. Fry's health failed very much during the dreary months which
followed. Nor was this all, for trials, mental and spiritual, seemed to
crowd around her. It was indeed, though on a scale fitted to her
capacity, "the hour and power of darkness." She says in her journal,
that her soul was bowed down within her, and her eyes were red with
weeping. Yet she rallied again. After spending some months with their
eldest son, William, at Mildred's Court, Mr. and Mrs. Fry removed to a
small but convenient villa in Upton Lane, nearly adjoining the house and
grounds of her brother, Samuel Gurney. This house was not only to be a
place of refuge in the dark and cloudy days of calamity, but to become,
in its turn, famous for the visits of princes and nobles, who thus
sought to do honor to her who dwelt in it. Writing in her journal, on
June 10th, 1829, Mrs. Fry said:--

     We are now nearly settled in this, our new abode; and I may say,
     although the house and garden are small, yet it is pleasant and
     convenient and I am fully satisfied, and, I hope, thankful for such
     a home. I have at times been favored to feel great peace, and I may
     say joy in the Lord--a sort of seal to the important step taken;
     though at others the extreme disorder into which our things have
     been brought by all these changes, the pain of leaving Plashet, the
     difficulty of making new arrangements, has harassed and tried me.
     But I trust it will please a kind Providence to bless my endeavor
     to have and to keep my house in order. Place is a matter of small
     importance, if that peace which the world cannot give be our
     portion.... Although a large garden is now my allotment, I feel
     pleasure in having even a small one; and my acute relish for the
     beautiful in nature and art is on a clear day almost constantly
     gratified by a view of Greenwich Hospital and Park, and other parts
     of Kent; the shipping on the river, as well as the cattle feeding
     in the meadows. So that in small things as well as great, spiritual
     and temporal, I have yet reason to ... bless and magnify the name
     of my Lord.

Two of her nieces accompanied her, in 1834, upon a mission to the
Friends' Meetings in Dorset and Hants; and recalling this journey some
time later, one of them said, speaking of her aunt's peculiar mission of
ministering to the tried and afflicted: "There was no weakness or
trouble of mind or body, which might not safely be unveiled to her.
Whatever various or opposite views, feelings, or wishes might be
confided to her, all came out again tinged with her own loving, hopeful
spirit. Bitterness of every kind died when entrusted to her; it never
re-appeared. The most favorable construction possible was always put
upon every transaction. No doubt her feeling lay this way; but did it
not give her and her example a wonderful influence? Was it not the very
secret of her power with the wretched and degraded prisoners? She could
always see hope for everyone; she invariably found or made some point of
light. The most abandoned must have felt she did not despair for them,
either for this world or for another; and this it was which made her
irresistible."

In taking a view of this good woman's religious life and character, it
will be helpful to see her as she appeared to herself--to enter into her
own feelings at different periods of her life, and to listen to her
heart-felt expressions of humility and perplexity. Thus, in relation to
the ups and downs of life with her, we find in her journal this
passage:--

     The difference between last winter and this winter has been
     striking! How did the righteous compass me about, from the
     Sovereign, the Princes, and the Princesses, down to the poorest,
     lowest, and most destitute; how did poor sinners of almost every
     description seek after me, and cleave to me? What was not said of
     me? What was not thought of me, may I not say, in public and in
     private, in innumerable publications? This winter I have had the
     bed of languishing; deep, very deep, prostration of soul and body;
     instead of being a helper to others, ready to lean upon all, glad
     even to be diverted by a child's book. In addition to this, I find
     the tongue of slander has been ready to attack me. The work that
     was made so much of before, some try to lessen now. My faith is
     that He will not give me over to the will of my enemies, nor let me
     be utterly cast down.

In relation to her conscientious fear of the admixture of sin with her
service of God and of humanity, she wrote:--

     I apprehend that all would not understand me, but many who are much
     engaged in what we call works of righteousness, will understand the
     reason that in the Jewish dispensation there was an offering made
     for the iniquity of _holy things_.

In regard to marriage she writes:--

     We have had the subject of marriage much before us this year; it
     has brought us to some test of our feelings and principles
     respecting it. That it is highly desirable to have young persons
     settle in marriage, I cannot doubt, and that it is one of the most
     likely means of their preservation, religiously, morally,
     temporally. Moreover, it is highly desirable to settle with one of
     the same religious views, habits, and education, as themselves,
     more particularly for those who have been brought up as Friends,
     because their mode of education is peculiar. But if any young
     persons, upon arriving at an age of discretion, do not feel
     themselves really attached to our peculiar views and habits, then,
     I think, their parents have no right to use undue influence with
     them as to the connections they may incline to form, provided they
     be with persons of religious lives and conversation. I am of
     opinion that parents are apt to exercise too much authority upon
     the subject of marriage, and that there would be really more happy
     unions if young persons were left more to their own feelings and
     discretion. Marriage is too much treated like a business concern,
     and love, that essential ingredient, too little respected in it. I
     disapprove of the rule of our Society which disowns persons for
     allowing a child to marry one who is not a Friend; it is a most
     undue and unchristian restraint, as far as I can judge of it.

As the time passed, and her family got scattered up and down in the
world, the idea occurred to her that, although members of different
sects and churches, they could unite in fireside worship and study of
the Bible, _as Christians_. Many of them were within suitable distances
for occasional or frequent meetings, according to their circumstances;
while some of the grandchildren were of an age to understand, and
possibly profit by, the exercises. In response to the motherly
communication which follows, these family gatherings were arranged, and
succeeded beyond the original expectations of she who suggested them.
They continued, under the title of "philanthropic evenings," to cement
the family circle, after Mrs. Fry had passed away. The tone of the
letter inviting their co-operation is that of a philanthropist, a
mother, and a Christian. It shows plainly that with all her engagements,
worries and trials, she had not absorbed or lost the spirit of the
docile Mary in that of the careful Martha.

     MY DEAREST CHILDREN:

     Many of you know that for some time I have felt and expressed the
     want of our social intercourse at times, leading to religious union
     and communion among us. It has pleased the Almighty to permit that
     by far the larger number of you no longer walk with me in my
     religious course. Except very occasionally, we do not meet together
     for the solemn purpose of worship, and upon some other points we do
     not see eye to eye; and whilst I feel deeply sensible that,
     notwithstanding this diversity among us, we are truly united in our
     Holy Head, there are times when, in my declining years, I seriously
     feel the loss of not having more of the spiritual help and
     encouragement of those I have brought up, and truly sought to
     nurture in the Lord. This has led me to many serious considerations
     how the case may, under present circumstances, be in any way met.

     My conclusion is that, believing as we do in the Lord as our
     Saviour, one Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier, and one God and Father
     of us all, our points of union are surely strong; and if we are
     members of one living Church, and expect to be such for ever, we
     may profitably unite in some religious engagements here below.

     The world, and the things of it, occupy us much, and they are
     rapidly passing away; it will be well if we occasionally set apart
     a time for _unitedly_ attending to the things of Eternity. I
     therefore propose that we try the following plan: if it answer,
     continue it; if not, by no means feel bound to it. That our party,
     in the first instance, should consist of no others than our
     children, and such grandchildren as may be old enough to attend.
     That our objects in meeting be for the strengthening of our faith,
     for our advancement in a religious and holy life, and for the
     promoting of Christian love and fellowship.

     I propose that we read the Scriptures unitedly, in an easy,
     familiar manner, each being perfectly at liberty to make any remark
     or ask any questions. That it should be a time for religious
     instruction, by seeking to understand the mind of the Lord, for
     doctrine and practice, in searching the Scriptures, and bringing
     ourselves and our deeds to the light.... That either before or
     after the Scriptures are read we should consider how far we are
     engaged for the good of our fellow-men, and what, as far as we can
     judge, most conduces to this object. All the members of this little
     community are advised to communicate anything they may have found
     useful or interesting in religious books, and to bring forward
     anything that is doing for the good of mankind in the world
     generally.

     I hope that thus meeting together may stimulate the family to more
     devotion of heart to the service of their God; at home and abroad
     to mind their different callings, however varied; and to be active
     in helping others. It is proposed that this meeting should take
     place once a month at each house in rotation. I now have drawn some
     little outline of what I desire, and if any of you like to unite
     with me in making the experiment, it would be very gratifying to
     me; still I hope all will feel at liberty to do as they think best
     themselves. Your dearly attached mother,

                                                  ELIZABETH FRY.


None but a parent whose spiritual life was pure, true, and deep, could
feel such a constant solicitude about the spiritual progress and
education of her family. Nor was this solicitude confined to the
membership of her own circle. All who in any way assisted in her special
department of philanthropy were councilled, wisely and kindly, to _act_
rather than _preach_ the gospel of Christ. In communications of this
sort we find the newly-appointed matrons to the convict-ships advised to
show their faith more by conduct than profession; to avoid "religious
_cant_;" to be prudent and circumspect; to have discretion, wisdom and
meekness. So she passed through life; the faithful friend, the patient,
wise mother, the meek, tender wife, the succorer of all in distress.
Everyone felt free to go to her with their troubles; a reverse of
circumstances, a sick child, a bad servant, or turn of sickness, all
called forth her ready aid, and her wise, far-seeing judgment. And even
in the last months of her life, when, worn out with service and pain,
she was slowly going down to the gates of death, her children and
grandchildren were cut off suddenly by scarlet fever, she bowed
resignedly to the Hand which had sent "sorrow upon sorrow." And when she
who had been as a tower of strength to all around her, was reduced to
the weakness of childhood by intense suffering, the survivors clung yet
more closely to her, as if they could _not_ let her go. So as physical
strength declined, she actually grew stronger and brighter in mental and
moral power. The deep and painful tribulations which characterized her
later years, but refined and purified the gold of her nature.



CHAPTER XIII.

COLLATERAL GOOD WORKS.


It must be remembered that Mrs. Fry's goodness was many-sided. Her
charity did not expend itself wholly on prisons and lunatic asylums. It
is right that, once in a while, characters of such superlative
excellence should appear in our midst. Right, because otherwise the
light of charity would grow dim, the distinguishing graces of
Christianity, flat and selfish, and individual faith be obscured in the
lapse of years, or the follies and fashions of modern life. Such saints
were Elizabeth of Hungary, around whose name legend and story have
gathered, crowning her memory with beauty; Catherine of Sienna, who was
honored by the whole Christian Church of the fourteenth century, and
canonized for her goodness; and Sarah Martin, the humble dressmaker of
Yarmouth, who, in later times, has proved how possible it is to render
distinguished service in the cause of humanity by small and lowly
beginnings, ultimately branching out into unexpected and remarkable
ramifications. One can almost number such saints of modern life on the
fingers; but for all that, their examples have stimulated a host of
lesser lights who still keep alive the savor of Christianity in our
midst; and towering above all her contemporaries in the grandeur of her
deeds and words, Mrs. Fry still lives in song and story.

Among the collateral good works which she instituted and carried on, the
first in order of time, and possibly of importance, as leading to all
the others, was the "Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners
at Newgate." As this association and its objects were fully treated of
in a previous chapter, it is unnecessary to enlarge upon it here. It
suffices to say that it sought the welfare of the female prisoners
during their detention in prison, and, also, to form in them such habits
as should fit them for respectable life upon their discharge. Out of
twelve ladies forming the original association started in 1817, eleven
were Quakeresses.

Nearly akin to this society, was that for "The Improvement of Prison
Discipline and Reformation of Juvenile Offenders." This society aimed at
a two-fold object: first, by correspondence and deputations to awaken
the minds of provincial magistrates and prison officials to the
necessity for new arrangements, rules, and accommodations for
prisoners; while it afforded watchful oversight and assistance to the
numerous class of juvenile offenders who, after conviction, were
absolutely thrown friendless upon the country, to continue and develop a
course of crime. At the time of the formation of this society, public
meetings were first held to further the welfare of prisoners, and to
prevent the increase of crime. The doctrine of "stopping the supplies"
first began to be understood; while even the most confirmed stickler for
conservation could understand that there could not be a constant
succession of old or middle-aged criminals to be dealt with by the law,
provided the young were reformed, and trained in the ways of honesty. At
one meeting, held at the Freemasons' Hall in 1821, in order to further
the work of this society, Lord John Russell made an eloquent speech,
concluding with the almost prophetic words: "Our country is now about to
be distinguished for triumphs, the effect of which shall be to save, and
not to destroy. Instead of laying waste the provinces of our enemies, we
may begin now to reap a more solid glory in the reform of abuses at
home, and in spreading happiness through millions of our population."

A society possessing broader aims, and working in a wider field, was the
"British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female
Prisoners," formed in 1821, and really an outgrowth of Mrs Fry's efforts
to _reclaim_ the women whom she _taught_ while in prison. It existed as
a central point for communication and assistance between the various
associations in Great Britain engaged in visiting prisons. Its
corresponding committee also maintained interchanges of ideas and
communications with those ladies on the Continent who were interested in
the subject.

The Convict Ship Committee looked after the welfare of those who were
transported, saw to the arrangements on board ship, the appointment of
matrons, furnished employment, and secured shelters in the colonies, so
that on arriving at the port of disembarkation the poor convicts should
possess some sort of a place into which they could go. Further details
of this branch of work will be given in the next chapter.

The chief work of the society, however, lay in providing homes for
discharged female criminals. In 1824, "Homes" or "Shelters" were opened
at Dublin, Liverpool, and many other places in England, Scotland, and
the Continent. Tothill Fields Asylum, a small home for some of the most
hopeful of the discharged prisoners, was opened at Westminster. Miss
Neave, a charitable Christian lady, was fired with some of Mrs. Fry's
enthusiasm, and devoted both time and money to the carrying out of the
project. She relates that the idea first entered her mind when out
driving one morning with Mrs. Fry. That lady, speaking of her work,
said, in somewhat saddened tones: "Often have I known the career of a
promising young woman, charged with a first offence, to end in a
condemned cell. Were there but a refuge for the young offender, my work
would be less painful." As the result, Tothill Fields Asylum was opened,
with four inmates. Very soon, nine were accommodated, and within a few
years, under the new name of "The Royal Manor Hall Asylum," it sheltered
fifty women of different ages.

Another class of discharged prisoners, viz., little girls, were also
provided for by this society. To these were added destitute girls, who
had not yet found their way into prison; and the whole number were
placed under judicious training in a "School for Discipline," at
Chelsea. This institution became most successful in training these
children up in orderly and respectable habits. At one time Mrs. Fry
endeavored to get this home under Government rule, but Sir Robert Peel
considered that the ends of humanity would be better served by keeping
it under the control of, and supported by, private individuals.

A temporary stay at Brighton suggested the formation of the District
Visiting Society. This aimed, not at indiscriminate alms-giving, but at
"the encouragement of industry and frugality among the poor by visits at
their own habitations; the relief of real distress, whether arising from
sickness or other causes, and the prevention of mendicity and
imposture." Visitors were appointed, who went from house to house among
the poor, encouraging habits of thrift and cleanliness; whilst a savings
bank received deposits, and trained these same poor to save for the
inevitable "rainy day."

Probably one of the most extensive works of benevolence and good-will
carried on to success by Mrs. Fry, next to her prison labors, was the
establishment of libraries for the men of the Coast Guard Service. This
arose from a circumstance which occurred during the sojourn at Brighton,
for the benefit of her somewhat shattered health, in 1824.

During her residence there she was subject to distressing attacks of
faintness in the night and early morning. Again and again, it was
necessary to immediately throw open her chamber window for the admission
of the fresh air; and always upon such occasions the figure of a
solitary coast-guardsman was to be seen pacing the beach, on the
look-out for smugglers. Such a post, and such a service, presenting as
it did a life of hardship and danger, inevitably attracted her
sympathetic attention; and she began to take an almost unconscious
interest in the affairs of this man. Shortly after, when driving out,
she stopped the carriage and spoke to one of the men at the station. He
replied civilly, that the members of the Preventive Service were not
allowed to hold any conversation with strangers, and requested to be
excused from saying any more. Mrs. Fry, feeling somewhat fearful that
her kindness might bring him into difficulty with his superiors, gave
the man her card, and desired him to tell the man in command of the
station that she had spoken to him with the sole object of inquiring
after the welfare of the men and their families. A few days afterwards,
the lieutenant who commanded at that post waited upon Mrs. Fry, and,
contrary to her fears, welcomed her inquiries as auguries of good. He
confessed to her that the officers, men, women, and children, all
suffered much from loneliness, privation, semi-banishment--for the
stations were mostly placed in dreary and inaccessible
places--unpopularity with the surrounding people, and harassment by
constant watching, through all weather, for smugglers. The nature and
regulations of the Coast Blockade of Preventive Service precluded
anything like visiting or _personal_ kindness. There was really no way
of benefiting them except by providing them with literature calculated
to promote their intellectual and religious good, besides furnishing an
occupation for the dreary, lonely hours which fell to their portion.
This course Mrs. Fry immediately adopted.

She first applied to the British and Foreign Bible Society; the
Committee responded with a grant of fifty Bibles and twenty-five
Testaments. These were distributed to the men on the stations in that
district, and most gratefully received. As a proof of the gratitude of
the recipients, the following little note was sent to Mrs. Fry by the
commanding officer:--

     MY DEAR MADAM,--Happy am I in being able to make you acquainted
     with the unexpected success I have met with in my attempt to
     forward, among the seamen employed on the coast, your truly
     laudable and benevolent desire--the dissemination of the Holy
     Scriptures. I have made a point of seeing Lieutenant H., who has
     promised me that if you will extend your favors to Dutchmere, he
     will distribute the books, and carefully attend to the performance
     of Divine service on the Sabbath Day. Also Lieutenant D., who will
     shortly have a command in this division. I trust, Madam, I shall be
     still further able to forward those views, which must, to all who
     embrace them, prove a sovereign balm in the hour of death and the
     day of judgment. With respectful compliments to the ladies, allow
     me to remain, dear Madam, your devoted servant.

This communication enclosed another little note from the seamen, which
expressed their feelings as follows:--

     We, the seamen of Salt Dean Station, have the pleasure to announce
     to those ladies whose goodness has pleased them to provide the
     Bibles and Testaments for the use of us seamen, that we have
     received them. We do therefore return our most hearty thanks for
     the same; and we do assure the ladies whose friendship has proved
     so much in behalf of seamen, that every care shall be taken of the
     said books; and, at the same time, great care shall be taken to
     instruct those who have not the gift of education, and we at any
     time shall feel a pleasure in doing the same.

Some ten years later, when visiting in the Isle of Wight, she conceived
the plan of extending the system by supplying libraries to all the Coast
Guard stations in the United Kingdom. The magnitude of the work may be
realized when we state that there were about 500 stations, including
within their boundaries some 21,000 men, women and children. How to set
about the work was her next anxiety, for it seemed useless to attempt it
without at least £1,000 in hand. She submitted the proposition to Lord
Althorp, at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, and asked for a
grant of £500 from Government, in order to supplement the £1,000 which
she hoped to raise by private subscriptions. A grant could not, however,
be made at that time on account of different political considerations;
but within a few months one was obtained, and her heart rejoiced at this
new proof of appreciation of her work on the part of those high in
office. An entry in her journal in February, 1835, reads thus:--

     The way appears opening with our present Ministers to obtain
     libraries for all the Coast Guard stations, a matter I have long
     had at heart. My desire is to do all these things with a single eye
     to the glory of God, and the welfare of my fellow mortals; and if
     they succeed, to pray that He alone who can bless and increase, may
     prosper the work of my unworthy hands. Upon going to the Custom
     House, I found Government had at last granted my request, and given
     £500 for libraries for the stations; this is, I think, cause for
     thankfulness.

Private subscriptions were sedulously sought, and large sums flowed in;
besides these, many large book-sellers, and the chief religious
publishing societies gave donations of books. These were valued in the
aggregate at about one thousand pounds. The details of the work were
left to herself, while the Rev. John W. Cunningham, Captain W.E. Parry,
and Captain Bowles selected the books.

The total number of volumes for the stations amounted to 25,896. Each
station possessed a library of fifty-two different books, while each
_district_, which included the stations in that part of the country,
possessed a larger assortment for reference and exchange. Most of the
parcels were sent, carriage free, in Government vessels, by means of the
Custom House. This work involved many journeys to London, and much
arduous labor. The Rev. Thomas Timpson, a dissenting minister in London,
acted most efficiently as secretary, and lightened her labors to a large
extent. During the summer of 1835, the work of distributing these
volumes was nearly all accomplished; and as during that summer Mr. Fry's
business demanded his presence in the south of England, she decided to
seize the opportunity of visiting all the Coast Guard stations in that
part of the country. In this way she journeyed along the whole south
coast, from the Forelands to Land's End, welcomed everywhere with
true-hearted veneration and love. She addressed herself principally to
the commanders of the different stations, bespeaking for the books care
in treatment and regularity in carrying out the exchanges. These
gentlemen manifested the warmest interest in the plan, and promised
their most thorough co-operation.

At Portsmouth she visited the Haslar Hospital, and while in Portsea,
the female Penitentiary. In the latter institution she desired to speak
a few words to the inmates, who were, accordingly, assembled in the
parlor for the purpose. Mrs. Fry laid her bonnet on the table, sat down,
and made different inquiries about the conduct of the young women, and
the rules enforced. It appeared that two of them were pointed out as
being peculiarly hardened and refractory. She did not, however, notice
this at the time, but delivered a short and affectionate address to all.
Afterwards, on going away, she went up to the two refractory ones, and,
extending her hand to them, said to each, most impressively: "I trust I
shall hear better things of thee." Both of them burst into unexpected
tears, thus acknowledging the might of kindness over such natures.

At Falmouth, during this same excursion, she supplied some of the
men-of-war with libraries. Some of the packets participated in the same
boon, so that each ship sailing from that port took out a well-chosen
library of about thirty books. These library books were changed on each
succeeding voyage, and were highly appreciated by both officers and
seamen.

In 1836, the report of the Committee for furnishing the Coast Guard of
the United Kingdom with Libraries, appeared. From it, we find that in
addition to the £500 kindly granted by the Government at first towards
the project, Mr. Spring Rice, a later Chancellor of the Exchequer
granted further sums amounting to £460. Thus the undertaking was brought
to a successful termination. There were supplied: 498 libraries for the
stations on shore, including 25,896 volumes; 74 libraries for districts
on shore, including 12,880 volumes; 48 libraries for cruisers, including
1,876 volumes; school books for children of crews, 6,464 volumes;
pamphlets, tracts, etc., 5,357 numbers; total, 52,464 volumes and
numbers.

These were distributed among 21,000 people on Coast Guard stations, and
to the hands on board many ships. Years afterwards, many and very
unexpected letters of thanks continued to reach Mrs. Fry from those who
had benefited by this good work.

"Instant in season and out of season," this very trip in the south of
England produced another good work. She, with her husband and daughter,
returned home by way of North Devon, Somerset, and Wiltshire. At
Amesbury she tarried long enough to learn something of the mental
destitution of the shepherds employed on Salisbury Plain, and set her
fertile brain to contrive a scheme for the supply of the necessary
books. She communicated her desires and intentions to the clergyman of
the parish, and Sir Edward and Lady Antrobus, who unitedly undertook to
furnish a librarian. A short note from this individual, addressed to
Mrs. Fry some few months after, proved how well the thing was working.
In it he said: "Forty-five books are in constant circulation, with the
additional magazines. More than fifty poor people read them with
attention, return them with thanks, and desire the loan of more,
frequently observing that they think it a very kind thing indeed that
they should be furnished with so many good books, free of all costs, so
entertaining and instructive, these long winter evenings."

About the same period Mrs. Fry formed a Servants' Society for the succor
and help of domestic servants. She had known instances wherein so many
of this class had come to sorrow, in every sense, for the lack of
temporary refuge and assistance, that she alone undertook to found this
institution. In an entry made in her journal in 1825, we find the
following reference to this matter:--

     The Servants' Society appears gradually opening as if it would be
     established according to my desire. No one knows what I go through
     in forming these institutions; it is always in fear, and mostly
     with many misgivings, wondering at myself for doing it. I believe
     the original motive is love to my Master and love to my
     fellow-creatures; but fear is so predominant a feeling in my mind
     that it makes me suffer, perhaps unnecessarily, from doubts. I felt
     something like freedom in prayer before making the regulations of
     the Servants' Society. Sometimes my natural understanding seems
     enlightened about things of that kind, as if I were helped to see
     the right and useful thing.

In closing this chapter, some allusion must be made to her latest
effort. It dates from 1840, and owed its foundation principally to her.
It was that of the "Nursing Sisters," an order called into existence by
the needs of every-day life. As she visited in sick-chambers, or
ministered to the needs of the poor, she felt the want of efficient
skilled nurses, and, with the restless energy of a true philanthropist,
set about remedying the want. Her own leisure would not admit of
training a band of nurses, but her desire was carried into effect by
Mrs. Samuel Gurney, her sister-in-law. Under this lady's supervision,
and the patronage of the Queen Dowager, Lady Inglis, and other members
of the nobility, a number of young women were selected, trained, and
taught to fulfil the duties of nurses. They were placed for some time in
the largest public hospitals, in order to learn the scientific system of
nursing; then, supposing their qualifications and conduct were found to
be satisfactory, they were received permanently as Sisters. These
Sisters wore a distinctive dress, received an annual stipend of about
twenty guineas, and were provided with a home during the intervals of
their engagements. There was also a "Superannuation Fund" for the relief
of those Sisters who should, after long service, fall into indigence or
ill-health. Christian women, of all denominations, were encouraged to
join the institution; while the services of the Sisters were equally
available in the palace and in the cottage. No Sister was permitted to
receive presents, directly or indirectly, from the patients nursed by
her, seeing that all sums received went to a common fund for the benefit
of the Society. These Sisters appear to have worked very much like the
modern deaconesses of the Church of England. They rightly earned the
title of "Sisters of Mercy."

These are but examples of Mrs. Fry's good works,--done "all for love,
and none for a reward."

Many other smaller works claimed her thoughts, so that her life was very
full of the royal grace of charity. The list might have been still
further extended, but to the ordinary student of her life it is already
sufficiently long to prove the reality of her religion and her love.



CHAPTER XIV.

EXPANSION OF THE PRISON ENTERPRISE.--HONORS.


It is an old adage that "nothing succeeds like success." Mrs. Fry and
her prison labors had become famous; not only famous, but the subjects
of talk, both in society and out of it. Kings, queens, statesmen,
philanthropists, ladies of fashion, devotees of charity, authors and
divines were all looking with more or less interest at the experiments
made by the apostles of this new crusade against vice, misery, and
crime. Many of them courted acquaintance with the Quakeress who
hesitated not to plunge into gloomy prison-cells, nor to penetrate
pest-houses decimated with jail fever, in pursuance of her mission. And
while they courted her acquaintance, they fervently wished her "God
speed." Two or three communications, still in existence, prove that
Hannah More and Maria Edgeworth were of the number of good wishers.

In a short note written from Barley Wood, in 1826, Hannah More thus
expressed her appreciation of Mrs. Fry's character:--

     Any request of yours, if within my very limited power, cannot fail
     to be immediately complied with. In your kind note, I wish you had
     mentioned something of your own health and that of your family. I
     look back with no small pleasure to the too short visits with which
     you once indulged me; a repetition of it would be no little
     gratification to me. Whether Divine Providence may grant it or not,
     I trust through Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, that we
     may hereafter meet in that blessed country where there is neither
     sin, sorrow, nor separation.

Many years previous to this, Hannah More had presented Mrs. Fry with a
copy of her _Practical Piety_, writing this inscription on the
fly-leaf:--

     TO MRS. FRY. Presented by Hannah More, as a token of veneration of
     her heroic zeal, Christian charity, and persevering kindness to the
     most forlorn of human beings. They were naked, and she clothed
     them, in prison, and she visited them; ignorant, and she taught
     them, for _His_ sake, in _His_ name, and by _His_ word, who went
     about doing good.

No words can add to the beauty of this inscription.

During one of Maria Edgeworth's London visits, the name and fame of Mrs.
Fry, and Newgate as civilized by her, formed such an attraction that the
lively Irish authoress must needs go to see for herself. In her
picturesque style she thus affords us an account of her visit:--

     Yesterday we went, the moment we had swallowed our breakfast, by
     appointment to Newgate. The private door opened at sight of our
     tickets, and the great doors, and the little doors, and the thick
     doors, and doors of all sorts, were unbolted and unlocked, and on
     we went, through dreary but clean passages, till we came to a room
     where rows of empty benches fronted us, and a table, on which lay a
     large Bible. Several ladies and gentlemen entered, and took their
     seats on benches, at either side of the table, in silence.

     Enter Mrs. Fry, in a drab-colored silk cloak, and plain, borderless
     Quaker cap; a most benevolent countenance; Guido Madonna face,
     calm, benign. "I must make an inquiry; is Maria Edgeworth here? And
     where?" I went forward; she bade us come and sit beside her. Her
     first smile, as she looked upon me, I can never forget. The
     prisoners came in, and in an orderly manner ranged themselves on
     the benches. All quite clean faces, hair, caps and hands. On a very
     low bench in front, little children were seated, and watched by
     their mothers. Almost all these women, about thirty, were under
     sentence of transportation; some few only were for imprisonment.
     One who did not appear was under sentence of death; frequently
     women, when sentenced to death, become ill, and unable to attend
     Mrs. Fry; the others come regularly and voluntarily.

     She opened the Bible, and read in the most sweetly solemn, sedate
     voice I ever heard, slowly and distinctly, without anything in the
     manner that could distract attention from the matter. Sometimes she
     paused to explain; which she did with great judgment, addressing
     the convicts--"_We_ have felt! _We_ are convinced!" They were very
     attentive, unexpectedly interested, I thought, in all she said, and
     touched by her manner. There was nothing put on in their
     countenances; not any appearance of hypocrisy. I studied their
     countenances carefully, but I could not see any which, without
     knowing to whom they belonged, I should have decided was bad; yet
     Mrs. Fry assured me that all those women had been of the worst
     sort. She confirmed what we have read and heard--that it was by
     their love of their children that she first obtained influence over
     these abandoned women. When she first took notice of one or two of
     their fine children, the mothers said that if she could but save
     their children from the misery they had gone through in vice, they
     would do anything she bid them. And when they saw the change made
     in their children by her schooling, they begged to attend
     themselves. I could not have conceived that the love of their
     children could have remained so strong in hearts in which every
     other feeling of virtue had so long been dead. The Vicar of
     Wakefield's sermon in prison is, it seems, founded on a deep and
     true knowledge of human nature; the spark of good is often
     smothered, never wholly extinguished. Mrs. Fry often says an
     extempore prayer; but this day she was quite silent; while she
     covered her face with her hands for some minutes, the women were
     perfectly silent, with their eyes fixed upon her; and when she
     said, "You may go," they went away _slowly_. The children sat quite
     still the whole time; when one leaned, her mother behind her sat
     her upright. Mrs. Fry told us that the dividing the women into
     classes, and putting them under monitors, had been of the greatest
     advantage. There is some little pecuniary advantage attached to the
     office of monitor which makes them emulous to obtain it. We went
     through the female wards with Mrs. Fry, and saw the women at
     various works, knitting, rug-making, etc. They have done a great
     deal of needle-work very neatly, and some very ingenious. When I
     expressed my foolish wonder at this to Mrs. Fry's sister, she
     replied, "We have to do, recollect, Ma'am, not with fools, but with
     rogues."... Far from being disappointed with the sight of what
     Mrs. Fry has done, I was delighted.

This _naïve_, informal chronicle of a visit to Newgate incidentally lets
out the fact that the gloomy prison was fast becoming attractive to
visitors--indeed, quite a show-place. That Mrs. Fry's labors were
receiving official honor and recognition also, there is plenty of
evidence to prove. In Prussia, her principles and exhortations had made
such headway that the Government was adapting old prisons and building
new, in order to carry out the modern doctrines of classification and
employment. In Denmark, the King had given his sanction to the measures
proposed by the Royal Danish Chancery for adding new buildings to the
prison. As soon as these buildings were completed the females would be
separated from the males, female warders were to be appointed,
employment found for all prisoners, and books of information and
devotion were to be supplied to each cell; while a chaplain (an unknown
official, hitherto) was to be appointed. In Germany, four new
penitentiaries were to be constructed; viz., at Berlin, Münster in
Westphalia, Ratibor in Silesia, and Königsberg. Two of these
penitentiaries were to be exactly like the Model Prison at Pentonville;
separate confinement was to be practically carried out, and the
prisoners were to be taught trades under the superintendence of picked
teachers. From Düsseldorf came information that all the female prisoners
were improving under the new _régime_; that an asylum for discharged
prisoners was effecting a wonderful transformation in the characters and
lives of those who sought refuge there; and that the inmates only left
its shelter to secure situations in service. In addition to these
cheering items she had the satisfaction of holding communications with
many princely, noble and royal personages on the Continent, respecting
the progress of her favorite work, and the new regulations and buildings
then adopted.

To return to her home-work and its ramifications will only be to prove
how far the great principles which she had taught were bearing fruit.
The Government Inspectors were working hard upon the lines laid down by
Mrs. Fry; and if at times they found anything which clashed with their
own pre-conceived ideas of what a prison should be, they were always
ready to make allowance for the difficulties of pioneer work, such as
this lady and her coadjutors had to do at Newgate. At Paramatta, New
South Wales, where, according to a letter from the Rev. Samuel Marsden
in an earlier part of this work, the condition of female convicts had
been scandalous to the Government which shipped them out there, and
deplorable in the extreme for the poor creatures themselves, a large
factory had been erected, designed for the reception of the convicts
upon their landing. It served its purpose well, being commodious enough
to receive not only the new importations, but the refractory women also,
who were returned from their situations. It was well managed; the
inmates being divided into three classes, and treated with more or less
kindness accordingly. True, at one time, even after the erection of this
factory, from the management being entrusted to inefficient hands, a
scene of disorder and misrule had prevailed; but that had been promptly
and firmly repressed. Hard labor and strict discipline had succeeded in
reducing the temporary confusion to something like order, and made
residence there the dread of returning evil-doers, whilst it afforded a
refuge for new-comers. Sir Richard Bourke, and Sir Ralph and Lady
Darling, used every endeavor to make the place a success; while, at
home, Lord Glenelg and Sir George Grey gave the matter, on behalf of
the Government, every needful and possible aid. A good superintendent
and matron were appointed from England, and supplied with every
requisite for the instruction and occupation of the convicts at the
factory.

This cordial co-operation of the Colonial Office in her schemes of
improvement for the female convicts at Paramatta, encouraged her to
attempt the same good work for the convicts at Hobart Town, Tasmania. It
happened that by 1843 the transportation of females to New South Wales
had ceased, the younger establishment at Hobart Town receiving all the
female convicts; but, like the hydra of classic lore, the evil sprang up
there as fresh and as vigorous as if it had not been conquered at
Paramatta. Lady Franklin and other ladies communicated with Mrs. Fry,
showing her the great need that still existed for her benevolent
exertions in that quarter. From these communications it seemed that the
assignment of women into domestic slavery still continued, in all its
dire forms. When a convict ship arrived from England, employers of all
grades became candidates for the services of the convicts. With the
exception of publicans, and ticket-of-leave men, who were not allowed to
employ convicts, anybody and everybody might engage the poor banished
prisoners without any guarantee whatsoever as to the future conduct of
the employer toward the servant, or specification as to the kind of work
to be performed. Those convicts who have behaved themselves best on the
voyage out were assigned to the best classes of society, while the
others fell to the refuse of the employers' class. As it was a fact that
a large proportion of the tradesmen applying for servants were convicts
who had fully served their time, it may be imagined how lacking in
civilization and integrity such employers often were. But if the
condition of the convicts was hopeless after their assignment to places
of service, it was, if possible, more hopeless still in the home, or
"factory," in which they were first received. Some of the letters before
referred to cast a flood of terrible light upon the condition of the
poor wretches who had quitted their country "for that country's good,"
even when under supposed discipline and restraint. A passage from one of
these letters reads like an ugly story of "the good old times!"

     The Cascade Factory is a receiving-house for the women on their
     first arrival (if not assigned from the ship), or on their
     transition from one place to another, and also a house of
     correction for faults committed in domestic service; but with no
     pretension to be a place of reformatory discipline, and seldom
     failing to turn out the women worse than they entered it.
     Religious instruction there was none, except that occasionally on
     the Sabbath the superintendent of the prison read prayers, and
     sometimes divine service was performed by a chaplain, who also had
     an extensive parish to attend to.

     The officers of the establishment consisted, at that time, of only
     five persons--a porter, the superintendent, and matron, and two
     assistants. The number of persons in the factory, when first
     visited by Miss Hayter, was five hundred and fifty. It followed, of
     course, that nothing like prison discipline could be enforced, or
     even attempted. In short, so congenial to its inmates was this
     place of custody (it would be unfair to call it a place of
     punishment) that they returned to it again and again when they
     wished to change their place of servitude; and they were known to
     commit offences on purpose to be sent into it, preparatory to their
     reassignment elsewhere.

     Yet, after visiting the factory, and hearing everybody speak of its
     unhappy inmates, I could not but feel that they were far more to be
     pitied than blamed. No one has ever attempted any measure to
     ameliorate their degraded condition. I felt that had they had the
     opportunity of religious instruction, some at least might be
     rescued. I wish I could express to you all I feel and think upon
     the subject, and how completely I am overwhelmed with the awful sin
     of allowing so many wretched beings to perish for lack of
     instruction. Even in the hospital of the factory the unhappy
     creatures are as much neglected, in spiritual things, as if they
     were in a heathen land. There are no Bibles, and no Christians to
     tell them of a Saviour's dying love.

Mrs. Fry laid these communications before the Colonial Secretary without
delay, praying him to alter this terrible state of things. She was at
once listened to. The building was altered, by orders from England; the
convicts were divided into classes; employment and discipline were
provided; daily instruction, both secular and religious, was imparted;
so that, by degrees, the establishment became what it should have been
from the first--a house of detention, discipline, and refuge. In
addition, a large vessel called the _Anson_ was fitted up as a temporary
prison, sent out to Hobart Town, and moored in the river. This vessel
received the new shipments of transports from England, and afforded, by
its staff of officers, opportunity for a six months' training of the
convicts, who then were not permitted to enter the service of the
colonists until after this period had expired. By these different means
Mrs. Fry had the satisfaction of knowing that the convicts had yet
another opportunity of amendment granted them after leaving the prisons
of their native land. It has already been observed that in most of the
prisons of the United Kingdom female warders were employed, while
matrons were appointed on the out-going convict ships. Contrary to the
lot of many reformers, Mrs. Fry was spared to see most of the reforms
which she had recommended, become law.

After Mrs. Fry's death an interesting report was issued by the
Inspector-General of Prisons in Ireland, relating to the Grange Gorman
Lane Female Prison, Dublin. Mrs. Fry had taken special interest in this
prison, it having been the first erected _exclusively for women_ in the
United Kingdom, and intended, if found successful, to serve as a sort of
model for other places. The experiment had proved entirely successful
and satisfactory; matron, warders and chaplain all united in one chorus
of praise. Major Cottingham, the Inspector-General, wrote:--

     Although I made my annual inspection of this prison on February
     18th, 1847, as a date upon which to form my report, yet I have had
     very many opportunities of seeing it during past and former years,
     in my duties connected with my superintendence of the convict
     department. The visitors may see many changes in the faces and
     persons of the prisoners, but no surprise can ever find a
     difference in the high and superior order with which this prison is
     conducted. The matron, Mrs. Rawlins, upon whom the entire
     responsibility of the interior management devolves, was selected
     some years since, and sent over to this country by the benevolent
     and philanthropic Mrs. Fry, whose exertions in the cause of female
     prison reformation were extended to all parts of the British
     Empire, and who, although lately summoned to the presence of her
     Divine Master, has nowhere left a more valuable instance of her
     sound judgment and high discriminating powers than in the selection
     of Mrs. Rawlins to be placed at the head of this experimental
     prison, occupied alone by females; and so successful has the
     experiment been, that I understand several other prisons solely
     for females have been lately opened in Scotland, and even in
     Australia. In this prison is to be seen an uninterrupted system of
     reformatory discipline in every class, such as is to be found in no
     other prison that I am aware of.

The matron alluded to in the above extracts gratefully acknowledged that
Mrs. Fry's plan had completely succeeded in every respect, while she was
equally grateful in owning that to her instructions and wise maternal
counsel she herself owed her own fitness for that special branch of the
work.

The testimonies to her success not only came in from official quarters,
but from the prisoners themselves. This chronicle would scarcely be
complete without a specimen or two of the many communications she
received from prisoners at home and from convicts abroad. True, on one
or two occasions the women at Newgate had behaved in a somewhat
refractory manner, for their poor degraded human nature could not
conceive of pure disinterested Christian love working for their good
without fee or reward; but even at these times their better nature very
soon reasserted itself, and penitence and tears took the place of
insubordination. To those who had sinned against and had been forgiven
by her, Mrs. Fry's memory was something almost too holy for earth. No
orthodoxly canonized saint of the Catholic Church ever received truer
reverence, or performed such miracles of moral healing.

The following communication reached her from some of the prisoners at
Newgate:--

     HONORED MADAM,--Influenced by gratitude to our general benefactress
     and friend, we humbly venture to address you. It is with sorrow we
     say that we had not the pleasure of seeing you at the accustomed
     time, which we have always been taught to look for--we mean Friday
     last. We are fearful that your health was the cause of our being
     deprived of that heartfelt joy which your presence always diffuses
     through the prison; but we hope, through the mercies of God, we
     shall be able personally to return you the grateful acknowledgments
     of our hearts, before we leave our country forever, for all the
     past and present favors so benevolently bestowed upon what has been
     termed the "most unfortunate of society," until cheered by your
     benevolence, kindness and charity: and hoping that your health,
     which is so dear to such a number of unfortunates, will be fully
     re-established before we go, so that after our departure from our
     native land, those who are so unfortunate as to fall into our
     situation may enjoy the same blessing, both temporally and
     spiritually, that we have done before them. And may our minds be
     impressed with a due sense of the many comforts we have enjoyed
     whilst under your kind protection. Honored and worthy Madam, we
     hope we shall be pardoned for our presumption in addressing you at
     this time, but our fears of not seeing you before the time of our
     departure induce us to entreat your acceptance of our prayers for
     your restoration to your family; and may the prayers and
     supplications of the unfortunate prisoners ascend to Heaven for the
     prolonging of that life which is so dear to the most wretched of
     the English nation. Honored Madam, we beg leave to subscribe
     ourselves, with humble respect, your most grateful and devoted,

                                      THE PRISONERS OF NEWGATE.

The following letter was from a convict at Paramatta, New South Wales,
some time after her banishment to that colony:--

     HONORED MADAM,--The duty I owe to you, likewise to the benevolent
     society to which you have the honor to belong, compels me to take
     up my pen to return you my most sincere thanks for the heavenly
     instruction I derived from you, and the dear friends, during my
     confinement in Newgate.

     In the month of April, 1817, that blessed prayer of yours sank deep
     into my heart; and as you said, so I have found it, that when no
     eyes see and no ears hear, God both sees and hears, and then it was
     that the arrow of conviction entered my hard heart; in Newgate it
     was that poor Harriet, like the Prodigal Son, came to herself, and
     took with her words, and sought the Lord. Truly I can say with
     David, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have
     learned Thy ways, O Lord."... Believe me, my dear Madam, I bless
     the day that brought me inside Newgate walls, for then it was that
     the ways of Divine truth shone into my dark mind.'... Believe me,
     my dear Madam, although I am a poor captive in a distant land, I
     would not give up having communion with God one single day for my
     liberty; for what is the liberty of the body compared with the
     liberty of the soul? Soon will the time come when death will
     release me from all the earthly fetters that hold me now, for I
     trust to be with Christ, who bought me with His precious blood. And
     now, my dear Madam, these few sincere sentiments of mine I wish you
     to make known to the world, that the world may see that your labor
     in Newgate has not been in vain in the Lord. Please give my love to
     the dear friends; the keeper of Newgate, and all the afflicted
     prisoners; and although we may never meet on earth again, I hope we
     shall all meet in the realms of bliss, never to part again.

                  Believe me to remain your humble servant,
                                                   HARRIET S----.

In addition to the grateful acknowledgments of "those who were ready to
perish," Mrs. Fry won an unusual meed of honorable esteem from the noble
and great. Sovereigns and rulers, statesmen and cabinet councillors, all
owned the worth of goodness, and rendered to the Quaker lady the homage
of both tongue and heart. Beside that notable visit to the Mansion House
to be presented to Queen Charlotte, in 1818, Mrs. Fry had many
interviews with royalty--these royal and noble personages conferring
honor upon themselves more than upon her by their kindly interest in her
work.

In 1822 the Prince and Princess Royal of Denmark visited England, and
spent considerable time in inspecting public institutions, schools, and
charities tending to advance the general well-being of the people. Of
course Mrs. Fry's name was spoken of prominently, seeing that she was
then in the full tide of her Newgate labors. The Duchess of Gloucester
first introduced Mrs. Fry to the Princess, when a few words of question
and explanation were given in relation to the prison enterprise. But
some days later, the family at Plashet House were apprised of the fact
that the Princess intended honoring them with her company at breakfast.
She came at the hour appointed, and, while partaking of their
hospitality, entered fully into Mrs. Fry's work, learning of her those
particulars which she could not otherwise gain. The foundation of a firm
friendship with the Princess Royal of Denmark was thus laid, which
continued through all Mrs. Fry's after life.

In 1831 she obtained her first interview with our gracious Queen, then
the young Princess Victoria. Then, as now, the Royal Family of England
was always interested in works of charity and philanthropy, and the
young Princess displayed the early bent of her mind in this interview.
In the most unaffected style Mrs. Fry thus tells the story: "About three
weeks ago I paid a very satisfactory visit to the Duchess of Kent, and
her very pleasing daughter, the Princess Victoria. William Allen went
with me. We took some books on the subject of slavery, with the hope of
influencing the young Princess in that important cause. We were received
with much kindness and cordiality, and I felt my way open to express not
only my desire that the best blessing may rest upon them, but that the
young Princess might follow the example of our blessed Lord; that as she
grew in stature she might also grow in favor with God and man. I also
ventured to remind her of King Josiah, who began to reign at eight years
old, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, turning
neither to the right hand nor to the left, which seemed to be well
received. Since that I thought it right to send the Duke of Gloucester
my brother Joseph's work on the Sabbath, with a rather serious letter,
and had a very valuable answer from him, full of feeling. I have an
invitation to visit the Duchess of Gloucester the next Fourth Day. May
good result to them and no harm to myself; but I feel those openings a
rather weighty responsibility, and desire to be faithful and not
forward. I had long felt an inclination to see the young Princess, and
endeavor to throw a little weight into the right scale, seeing the very
important place she is likely to fill. I was much pleased with her, and
think her a sweet, lovely and hopeful child."

Some three years afterwards the Duke of Gloucester died, and his death
recalled the old times when he was quartered at Norwich with his
regiment. The biographers of Elizabeth Fry tell us that the Duke "was
amongst the few who addressed words of friendly caution and sound advice
to the young and motherless sisters at Earlham." She never forgot the
old friendship--a friendship which had been increased by the unfailing
interest of both the Duke and Duchess in her philanthropic work. As soon
as she heard of the bereavement she wrote the following letter to the
Princess Sophia of Gloucester:--

     MY DEAR FRIEND:

     I hope thou wilt not feel it an intrusion my expressing my sympathy
     with thee in the death of the Duke of Gloucester. To lose a dear
     and only brother is no small trial, and for a while makes the world
     appear very desolate. But I trust that having thy pleasant pictures
     marred in this life may be one means of opening brighter prospects
     in the life to come, and of having thy treasure increased in the
     heavenly inheritance. The Duchess of Gloucester kindly commissioned
     a lady to write to me, who gave me a very comforting account of the
     state of the Duke's mind. I feel it cause for much thankfulness
     that he was so sustained through faith in his Lord and Saviour; and
     we may humbly trust, through His merits, saved with an everlasting
     salvation. It would be very pleasant to me to hear how thy health
     and spirits are after so great a shock, and I propose inquiring at
     Blackheath, where I rather expect to be next week; or if thou
     wouldst have the kindness to request one of thy ladies in waiting
     to write me a few lines I should be much obliged. I hope that my
     dear and valued friend, the Duchess of Gloucester, is as well as we
     can expect after her deep affliction.

Shortly after this she paid a visit of condolence to the Duchess by
appointment.

Early in 1840 the young Queen, her present Majesty, sent Mrs. Fry a
present of fifty pounds by Lord Normanby for the Refuge at Chelsea, and
appointed an audience. On the first day of February Mrs. Fry,
accompanied by her brother, Samuel Gurney, and William Allen, attended
at Buckingham Palace. This was only a few days before Her Majesty
espoused Prince Albert. Mrs. Fry writes as follows in her journal,
respecting that interview:--

     We went to Buckingham Palace and saw the Queen. Our interview was
     short. Lord Normanby, the Home Secretary, presented us. The Queen
     asked us when we were going on the Continent. She said it was some
     years since she saw me. She asked about Caroline Neave's Refuge,
     for which she has lately sent me the fifty pounds. This gave me an
     opportunity of thanking her. I ventured to express my satisfaction
     that she encouraged various works of charity, and I said it
     reminded me of the words of Scripture, "With the merciful Thou wilt
     show Thyself merciful." Before we withdrew I stopped, and said I
     hoped the Queen would allow me to assure her that it was our prayer
     that the blessing of God might rest upon the Queen and her Consort.

In January, 1842, the Lady Mayoress pressed Mrs. Fry to attend a
banquet given at the Mansion House, in order principally to meet Prince
Albert, Sir Robert Peel, and the different Ministers of State. After a
little mental conflict she decided to go, with the earnest hope and
purpose of doing more good for the prisoners. A summary of her sayings
and doings at that banquet is best supplied in her own words:--

     I had an important conversation on a female prison being built,
     with Sir James Graham, our present Secretary of State.... I think
     it was a very important beginning with him for our British Ladies'
     Society. With Lord Aberdeen, Foreign Secretary, I spoke on some
     matters connected with the present state of the Continent; with
     Lord Stanley, our Colonial Secretary, upon the state of our penal
     colonies, and the condition of the women in them, hoping to open
     the door for further communications with him upon these subjects.
     Nearly the whole dinner was occupied in deeply interesting
     conversation with Prince Albert and Sir Robert Peel. With the
     Prince I spoke very seriously upon the Christian education of their
     children ... the infinite importance of a holy and religious life;
     how I had seen it in all ranks of life, no real peace or prosperity
     without it; then the state of Europe, the advancement of religion
     in the continental courts; then prisons, their present state in
     this country, my fear that our punishments were becoming too
     severe, my wish that the Queen should be informed of some
     particulars respecting separate confinement. We also had much
     entertaining conversation about my journeys, the state of Europe,
     modes of living, and habits of countries. With Sir Robert Peel I
     dwelt much more on the prison subject; I expressed my fears that
     jailers had too much power, that punishment was rendered uncertain,
     and often too severe; pressed upon him the need of mercy, and
     begged him to see the new prison, and to have the dark cells a
     little altered.... I was wonderfully strengthened, bodily and
     mentally, and believe I was in my right place there, though an odd
     one for me. I sat between Prince Albert and Sir Robert Peel at
     dinner, and a most interesting time we had.... It was a very
     remarkable occasion; I hardly ever had such respect and kindness
     shown to me; it was really humbling and affecting to me, and yet
     sweet to see such various persons, whom I had worked with for years
     past, showing such genuine kindness and esteem so far beyond my
     most unworthy deserts.

Royalty and nobility thus concurred in carrying out, although perhaps
unconsciously, the Scriptural command: "_Esteem such very highly in love
for their works' sake._" It is interesting to notice how very
frequently, in this world, the course of events does coincide with the
words of Holy Writ, and the honor which Providence showers upon a
remarkable servant of God. It is equally interesting, also, to see how
completely, in the philanthropic Quakeress, the nobility of moral
greatness was acknowledged by the highest personages in the land.

Very soon after this meeting at the Mansion House, the King of Prussia
arrived in England, to stand as sponsor to the infant Prince of Wales;
and, speedily after his arrival, he desired to see Mrs. Fry. He neither
forgot nor ignored her visits to his dominions in the interests of
charity; and he concluded that a woman who could travel thousands of
miles upon the Continent, in order to ameliorate the condition of
prisoners and lunatics, must be worth visiting at her own home. By his
special desire, therefore, she was sent for, to meet him at the Mansion
House. After the dinner, at which no toasts were proposed, in deference
to Mrs. Fry's religious scruples, an appointment was made by the King to
meet her at Newgate on the following morning, and afterwards to take
luncheon at the house in Upton Lane. This memorable engagement was
carried out in its entirety about midday. Mrs. Fry and one of her
sisters set out to meet the party, which included the King, his suite,
the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs, some of the Ministers of
State, and a large number of gentlemen. The poor women of Newgate
numbered about sixty, and doubtless their attention was somewhat
distracted by the grand company present; but Mrs. Fry, with her
accustomed common-sense, reminded them that a greater than the King of
Prussia was present, even "the King of Kings and Lord of Lords." After
this admonition she read the 12th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans,
and expounded and conducted a short devotional service. Then, she says,
"the King again gave me his arm, and we walked down together. There were
difficulties raised about his going to Upton, but he chose to persevere.
I went with the Lady Mayoress and the Sheriffs, the King with his own
people. We arrived first; I had to hasten to take off my cloak, and then
went down to meet him at his carriage-door, with my husband and seven of
our sons and sons-in-law. I then walked with him into the drawing-room,
where all was in beautiful order--neat, and adorned with flowers. I
presented to the King our eight daughters and daughters-in-law, our
seven sons and eldest grandson, my brother and sister Buxton, Sir Henry
and Lady Pelley, and my sister-in-law Elizabeth Fry--my brother and
sister Gurney he had known before--and afterwards presented twenty-five
of our grandchildren. We had a solemn silence before our meal, which was
handsome and fit for a king, yet not extravagant, everything most
complete and nice. I sat by the King, who appeared to enjoy his dinner,
perfectly at his ease and very happy with us. We went into the
drawing-room after another silence and a few words which I uttered in
prayer for the King and Queen. We found a deputation of Friends with an
address to read to him; this was done; the King appeared to feel it
much. We then had to part. The King expressed his desire that blessings
might continue to rest on our house."

Solomon says: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business he shall stand
before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." Elizabeth Fry's life
was a living proof of the honors that a persistent, steady, self-denying
course of doing good invariably wins in the long run.



CHAPTER XV.

CLOSING DAYS OF LIFE.


Indefatigable workers wear out, while drones rust out. As the years are
counted, of so many days, months, and weeks, many workers of this class
die prematurely; but a wiser philosophy teaches that "He liveth long who
liveth well." Into her years of life, long, eventful, and busy,
Elizabeth Fry had crowded the work of many ordinary women; it was little
wonder, therefore, that at a time when most people would have settled
down to enjoy the relaxations and comforts of a "green old age," she had
begun to set her house in order, _to die_. Her energies had been fairly
worn out in the service of humanity, and from the time that she made the
resolution to serve God, when moved by William Savery's pleadings, right
onward through forty-eight years of sunshine and shadow, vicissitudes
and labors, she had never swerved from her simple, earnest purpose. The
propelling motive to that long course of Christian usefulness may be
found in a few words uttered by her shortly before her death: "Since my
heart was touched at seventeen years old, I believe I have never
awakened from sleep, in sickness or in health, by day or by night,
without my first waking thought being, 'how best I might serve my
Lord.'" That unchanged desire ultimately became the master-passion of
her life.

Honors clustered thickly about her declining days. She was the welcomed
guest of royalty and nobility; on the Continent, as well as in far-away
English colonies, her name was pronounced only with respectful love. Her
eldest son was appointed to the magistracy of the county; her relatives
and associates were foremost in every enterprise intended to benefit
mankind; while both in Parliament and out of it, her recommendations
were respectfully adopted. Had her years been counted on the patriarchal
scale, instead of by their own shortened number, she could have reaped
no higher honors; for titles were in her ears but empty sounds, and
wealth only meant increased responsibility. Not many nobler souls walked
this earth, either in Quaker garb or out of it.

In 1842 her state of health appeared to be so infirm and shattered that
her brother-in-law, Mr. Hoare, offered her the loan of his house at
Cromer. She accepted the offer for a couple of months, and found a
little benefit for the bracing air. She mentioned in her diary at this
time that she had "an undue fear of an imbecile or childish state"--a
not unlikely feeling to be cherished by an energetic woman accustomed
all her life long to the work of helping others. At the end of October
she returned home, thankfully rejoicing, however, in an improved state
of health.

But a new series of trials awaited her. Death seemed to visit the happy
family circle so often that one wonders almost where the tale will stop.
Four or five grand-children passed away in rapid succession. After the
funeral of the first grand-child, she assembled the family party in the
evening, and with a little of the old fire and yearning affection, gave
them exhortation and consolation. Then she prayed for all the members of
the three generations present. After this funeral service she paid a
final visit to France; and then returned home, to descend still further
into the valley of suffering.

Her sister-in-law--also named Elizabeth Fry--died during this time of
weakness and pain. There had been a close bond of sympathy between these
two women; they had travelled many times together as ministers in the
Society of Friends, and had been united by the closest bonds of womanly
and Christian affection. The faithful sister-in-law preceded the
philanthropist to "the better land," by about fifteen months.

In the summer of 1844 she attended her beloved meeting at Plaistow once
more. She had been so long in declining health, that meeting with the
associates of former years, for worship, had been of necessity an
enjoyment altogether out of the question. But Sunday after Sunday, as
the "church-going bell" resounded on the still morning air, her spirit
yearned to worship God after the manner of her sect. Still, for weeks
the attempt was an abortive one. The difficult process of dressing was
never accomplished until long after 11 o'clock, the hour when the
meeting assembled. The desire was only intensified, however, by these
repeated disappointments, and finally it was resolved that the attempt
should be made on Sunday, August 4th, at all risks. It succeeded. Drawn
by two of her children, in a wheeled chair, she was taken up to the
meeting, a few minutes after the hour for commencing worship. Her
husband, children and servants followed behind, fearing whether or no
the ordeal would be too heavy for the wasted frame. But after remaining
for some time in the wonted quiet of the sanctuary, an access of
strength seemed to be granted her, and in somewhat similar spirit to
that of the old patriarchs, when about to bid farewell to the scene of
labor and life, she lifted up her voice once more with weighty, solemn
words of counsel. The prominent topic of her discourse was "the death of
the righteous." She expressed the deepest thankfulness, alluding to her
sister-in-law, Elizabeth Fry, for mercies vouchsafed to one who, having
labored amongst them, had been called from time to eternity. She quoted
that text, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they cease
from their labors, and their works do follow them." She dwelt on the
purposes of affliction, on the utter weakness and infirmity of the
flesh, and then tenderly exhorted the young. She urged the need of
devotedness of heart and steadfastness of purpose; she raised a tribute
of praise for the eternal hope offered to the Christian, and concluded
with these words from Isaiah: "Thine eyes shall see the King in His
beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off." Prayer was
afterwards offered by her in a similar strain, and then the meeting
ended. Shortly after this, a removal to Walmer was effected, in the vain
hope that the footsteps of death might be retarded.

From one of her letters, written at this date, we quote the following
passage:--

     I walk in a low valley, still I believe I may say that the
     everlasting arms are underneath me, and the Lord is very near. I
     pass through deep waters, but I trust, as my Lord is near to me,
     they will not overflow me. I need all your prayers in my low
     estate. I think the death of my sister, and dear little Gurney, has
     been almost too much for me.

But Mrs. Fry was to pass through still deeper waters of affliction and
trial while in her suffering state. A visitation of scarlet fever
attacked the family of her son William, and, in spite of all medical
attentions, he and two of his daughters fell beneath the destroyer's
hand. A scene of desolation ensued; the servants, as they sickened, were
taken to Guy's Hospital, and the Manor House was deserted, for those
members of the household who had escaped the infection had to flee for
their lives. For a time, the dear ones who ministered to Mrs. Fry were
too terror-stricken and crushed by the trial to venture on telling their
mother all; more than that, they feared for her life also. But the
"Christian's faith proved stronger than the mother's anguish. She wept
abundantly, almost unceasingly; but she dwelt constantly on the unseen
world, seeking for passages in the Bible which speak of the happy state
of the righteous. She was enabled to rejoice in the rest upon which her
beloved ones had entered, and in a wonderful manner to realize the
blessedness of their lot." Her other children gathered around her at
Walmer, anxious to comfort her, and be themselves comforted by her in
this succession of bereavements. She had been such a tower of strength
to all her family, in the years which had gone, that they almost
instinctively clustered around her now with the old trustful, yearning
devotion; but she was, although firm in spirit, so frail in body as to
be like the trembling ivy requiring the most constant and tender
support. Writing in her journal about this time, Mrs. Fry thus expressed
her feelings: "Sorrow upon sorrow! The trial is almost inexpressible.
Oh! dear Lord, keep thy unworthy servant in this time of severe trial;
keep me sound in faith and clear in mind, and be very near to us all."
Shortly after this entry a beloved niece died; and, as if the hungry maw
of Death were not yet satisfied, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, her
brother-in-law, friend and coadjutor in so many benevolent schemes, also
became a victim. It is certain that these numerous losses weaned her
much from life; it is also certain that her splendid reasoning powers
gave way for a time, and the infirmity of premature old age crept over
her mind. In this way she was mercifully kept from being utterly
crushed. Yet, while her mental strength remained, she thought lovingly
of those ladies who had been associated with her in her philanthropic
works and penned a few lines of parting counsel to them. The following
is the text of the last written communication addressed by her to the
Committee of the Ladies' British Society:--

     My much-loved friends, amidst many sorrows that have been permitted
     for me to pass through, and much bodily suffering, I still feel a
     deep and lively interest in the cause of poor prisoners; and
     earnest is my prayer that the God of all grace may be very near to
     help you to be steadfast in the important Christian work of seeking
     to win the poor wanderers to return, repent and live; that they may
     know Christ to be their Saviour, Redeemer and hope of glory. May
     the Holy Spirit direct your steps, strengthen your hearts, and
     enable you and me to glorify our Holy Head in doing and suffering
     even unto the end; and when the end comes, through a Saviour's love
     and merits, may we be received into glory and everlasting rest and
     peace.

In the spring of 1845 she paid a last visit to Earlham Hall. She had,
with the tenacity of desire peculiar to invalids, longed intensely to
behold again the scenes amid which her youth was spent, and to welcome
once more those familiar faces yet left in the old home. While there she
was several times drawn to the meeting at Norwich, and even spoke on
different occasions with her wonted fire and persuasiveness. It seemed
as if her powerful memory was revived, seeing that the stores of
Scripture which she had made hers were now drawn upon with singular
aptness and felicity. After paying one or two farewell visits to North
Repps and Runcton she returned once more to Upton Lane. Once settled
there, she received many marks of sympathy from the excellent of all
denominations, as well as from the noble and rich. The Duchess of
Sutherland and her daughters, the Chevalier de Bunsen, and others who
had heard of or known her, called upon her with every token of
respectful affection; while, on her part, she spoke and acted as if in
the very light of Eternity. So anxious, indeed, was she still to do what
she conceived to be her Master's work, that she made prodigious efforts
to attend meetings connected with the Society of Friends and with her
own special prison work. Thus she was present at two of the yearly
meetings for Friends in London in May, and on June 3d attended the
annual meeting at the British Ladies' Society. This meeting was removed
from the usual place at Westminster to the Friends' meeting-house at
Plaistow, in deference to Mrs. Fry's infirm health and visibly-declining
strength. In a report issued by this society, some four or five weeks
after Mrs. Fry's death, the committee paid a fitting tribute to her
labors with them, and the sacred preëminence she had won in the course
of those labors. In the memorial they referred to this meeting in the
following terms:--

     Contrary to usual custom, the place of meeting fixed on was not in
     London, but at Plaistow, in Essex, and the large number of friends
     who gathered around her on that occasion, proved how gladly they
     came to her when she could no longer, with ease, be conveyed to
     them. The enfeebled state of her bodily frame seemed to have left
     the powers of her mind unshackled, and she took, though in a
     sitting posture, almost her usual part in repeatedly addressing the
     meeting. She urged, with increased pathos and affection, the
     objects of philanthropy and Christian benevolence with which her
     life had been identified. After the meeting, and at her own desire,
     several members of the committee, and other friends, assembled at
     her house. They were welcomed by her with the greatest benignity
     and kindness, and in her intercourse with them, strong were the
     indications of the heavenly teaching through which her subdued and
     sanctified spirit had been called to pass. Her affectionate
     salutation in parting, unconsciously closed, in regard to most of
     them, the intercourse which they delighted to hold with her, but
     which can be no more renewed on this side of the eternal world.

At this time Mrs. Fry found intense satisfaction in learning that the
London prisons--Newgate, Bridewell, Millbank, Giltspur Street, Compter,
Whitecross Street, Tothill Fields, and Coldbath Fields--were all in more
or less excellent order, and regularly visited by the ladies who had
been her coadjutors, and were to be her successors.

A few weeks later she was taken to Ramsgate, in the hope that the
sea-air would restore her strength for a little time; and while there
her old interest in the Coastguard Libraries returned, fresh and lively
as ever. It was, indeed, a proof of the ruling passion being strong in
almost dying circumstances. She attended meeting whenever possible,
obtained a grant of Bibles and Testaments from the Bible Society,
arranged, sorted, and distributed them among the sailors in the harbor,
with the help of her grandchildren, and manifested, by her daily
deportment, how fully she had learned the hard lesson of submission and
patience in suffering.

A few days before the end, pressure of the brain became apparent; severe
pain, succeeded by torpor and loss of power, and, after a short time,
utter unconsciousness, proved that the sands of life had nearly run
down. A few hours of spasmodic suffering followed, very trying to those
who watched by; but suddenly, about four on the morning of October 13th,
1845, the silver cord was loosed, the pitcher broken at the fountain,
and the spirit returned to God who gave it.

In a quiet grave at Barking, by the side of the little child whom she
had loved and lost, years before, rest Elizabeth Fry's mortal remains.
"God buries His workers, but carries on His work." The peculiar work
which made her name and life so famous has grown and ripened right up to
the present hour. In this, "her name liveth for evermore."



CHAPTER XVI.

FINIS.


Since the days when John Howard, Elizabeth Fry and other prison
reformers first commenced to grapple with the great problems of how to
treat criminals, many, animated by the purest motives, have followed in
the same path. To Captain Maconochie, perhaps, is due the system of
rewards awarded to convicts who manifest a desire to amend, and show by
their exemplary conduct that they are anxious to regain once more a fair
position in society. Some anonymous writers have recently treated the
public to books bearing on the convict system of our country; and
professedly written, as they are, by men who have endured longer or
shorter periods of penal servitude, their opinions and suggestions
certainly count for something. The author of _Five Years' Penal
Servitude_ seems to entertain very decided opinions upon the present
system and its faults. He speaks strongly against _long_ sentences for
first offences, but urges that they should be made more severe. He
thinks that short sentences, made as severe as possible, consistent with
safety to life, would act as a deterrent more effectually than the long
punishments, which are, to a certain degree, mild to all well-conducted
prisoners. He also most strongly advocates separation of prisoners;
insisting that "the mixing of prisoners together is radically bad, and
should at all costs be done away with. Men who are imprisoned for first
offences, whether it be in a county jail or a convict prison, should
most certainly be kept perfectly distinct from 'second-timers,' and not
on any account be brought into contact with old offenders, who, in too
many cases, simply complete their education in vice." He further states,
in a concise form, what, in his estimation, should be the aim of all
penal measures. 1st. The punishment of those who have transgressed the
laws of the country, and the deterring others from crime; 2d. The
getting rid of the troublesome and criminal class of the population; 3d.
The doing of this in the most efficient and least costly way to the
tax-paying British public. He even quotes the opinion that New Guinea
would be suitable as a place of disposal for the convict class. But many
and good reasons have been given against shipping off criminals to be
pests to other people; this system has been already tried, and failed to
a large extent, although it certainly had redeeming features. Looking
at the matter all round, it seems utterly impossible to devise a convict
system which shall meet fairly and justly all cases. Could some system
be set in operation which should afford opportunity for the thoughtless
and unwary criminal, who has heedlessly fallen into temptation, to
retrace his steps and attain once more the height whence he has fallen,
it would be a boon to society. On the other hand, the members of the
really criminal class only anticipate liberty in order to use it for
fresh crime, for, in their opinion, the shame lies in detection, not in
sinning. What can be done with such but to deal stringently with them as
with enemies against society? This writer can fully bear out Mrs. Fry's
emphatic recommendations as to the imperative necessity that exists for
complete separation and classification of the prisoners, in all our
penal establishments. Association of the prisoners, one with another,
only carries on and completes their criminal and vicious education.

There is, however, a general _consensus_ of opinion as to the
desirability of reformatory, rather than punitive measures, being dealt
out to children and very young persons. This system has, in almost every
case, been found to work well. The authors of _The Jail Cradle, Who
Rocks It?_ and _In Prison and Out_, have dealt with the problem of
juvenile crime--and not in vain. From the latter work, the following
paragraph proves that in this matter, as in many others, Germany is
abreast of the age:--

     In Germany, no child under twelve years of age can suffer a penal
     sentence. Between twelve and eighteen years of age, youthful
     criminals are free to declare whether, while committing the
     offense, they were fully aware of their culpability against the
     laws of their country. In every case, every term of imprisonment
     above one month is carried out, not in a jail, but in an
     institution specially set apart and adapted for old offenders.
     These institutions serve not only for the purpose of punishment,
     but also provide for the education of the prisoners, _the neglect
     of education being recognized as one of the chief sources of
     crime_.

Mrs. Fry dealt with women principally, and it was only in a very limited
degree that she could benefit the children of these fallen ones. Still
there can be no doubt that she did a large service to society in taking
possession of them and educating them while with their mothers. What
that work involved has been fully told in the preceding pages; its
results no pen can compute. Woman-like, she aimed at the improvement of
her own sex; but the reform which she inaugurated did not stop there.
Like a circle caused by the descent of a pebble into a lake, it widened
and extended and spread until she and her work became household words
among all classes of society, and in all civilized countries. Most women
would have shrunk back appalled at the terrible scene of degradation
which Newgate presented when she first entered its wards as a visitor;
others would have deemed it impossible to accomplish anything, save
under the auspices of Government, and by the aid of public funds. Not
thus did she regard the matter, but with earnest, oft-repeated
endeavors, she set herself to stem the tide of sin and suffering to be
found at that period in Government jails, and so successfully that a
radical change passed over the whole system before she died. Probably it
is not too much to say that no laborer in the cause of prison reform
ever won a larger share of success. Certainly none ever received a
larger meed of reverential love.



_Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications._

FAMOUS WOMEN SERIES.

EMILY BRONTË.

BY A. MARY F. ROBINSON.

+One vol. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.+


     "Miss Robinson has written a fascinating biography.... Emily Brontë
     is interesting, not because she wrote 'Wuthering Heights,' but
     because of her brave, baffled, human life, so lonely, so full of
     pain, but with a great hope shining beyond all the darkness, and a
     passionate defiance in bearing more than the burdens that were laid
     upon her. The story of the three sisters is infinitely sad, but it
     is the ennobling sadness that belongs to large natures cramped and
     striving for freedom to heroic, almost desperate, work, with little
     or no result. The author of this intensely interesting,
     sympathetic, and eloquent biography, is a young lady and a poet, to
     whom a place is given in a recent anthology of living English
     poets, which is supposed to contain only the best poems of the best
     writers."--_Boston Daily Advertiser._

     "Miss Robinson had many excellent qualifications for the task she
     has performed in this little volume, among which may be named, an
     enthusiastic interest in her subject and a real sympathy with Emily
     Brontë's sad and heroic life. 'To represent her as she was,' says
     Miss Robinson, 'would be her noblest and most fitting monument.'...
     Emily Brontë here becomes well known to us and, in one sense, this
     should be praise enough for any biography."--_New York Times._

     "The biographer who finds such material before him as the lives and
     characters of the Brontë family need have no anxiety as to the
     interest of his work. Characters not only strong but so uniquely
     strong, genius so supreme, misfortunes so overwhelming, set in its
     scenery so forlornly picturesque, could not fail to attract all
     readers, if told even in the most prosaic language. When we add to
     this, that Miss Robinson has told their story _not_ in prosaic
     language, but with a literary style exhibiting all the qualities
     essential to good biography, our readers will understand that this
     life of Emily Brontë is not only as interesting as a novel, but a
     great deal more interesting than most novels. As it presents most
     vividly a general picture of the family, there seems hardly a
     reason for giving it Emily's name alone, except perhaps for the
     masterly chapters on 'Wuthering Heights,' which the reader will
     find a grateful condensation of the best in that powerful but
     somewhat forbidding story. We know of no point in the Brontë
     history--their genius, their surroundings, their faults, their
     happiness, their misery, their love and friendships, their
     peculiarities, their power, their gentleness, their patience, their
     pride,--which Miss Robinson has not touched upon with
     conscientiousness and sympathy."--_The Critic._

     "'Emily Brontë' is the second of the 'Famous Women Series,' which
     Roberts Brothers, Boston, propose to publish, and of which 'George
     Eliot' was the initial volume. Not the least remarkable of a very
     remarkable family, the personage whose life is here written,
     possesses a peculiar interest to all who are at all familiar with
     the sad and singular history of herself and her sister Charlotte.
     That the author, Miss A. Mary F. Robinson, has done her work with
     minute fidelity to facts as well as affectionate devotion to the
     subject of her sketch, is plainly to be seen all through the
     book."--_Washington Post._



Famous Women Series.

MARGARET FULLER.

BY JULIA WARD HOWE.

     "A memoir of the woman who first in New England took a position of
     moral and intellectual leadership, by the woman who wrote the
     Battle Hymn of the Republic, is a literary event of no common or
     transient interest. The Famous Women Series will have no worthier
     subject and no more illustrious biographer. Nor will the reader be
     disappointed,--for the narrative is deeply interesting and full of
     inspiration."--_Woman's Journal._

     "Mrs. Julia Ward Howe's biography of _Margaret Fuller_, in the
     Famous Women Series of Messrs. Roberts Brothers, is a work which
     has been looked for with curiosity. It will not disappoint
     expectation. She has made a brilliant and an interesting book. Her
     study of Margaret Fuller's character is thoroughly sympathetic; her
     relation of her life is done in a graphic and at times a
     fascinating manner. It is the case of one woman of strong
     individuality depicting the points which made another one of the
     most marked characters of her day. It is always agreeable to follow
     Mrs. Howe in this; for while we see marks of her own mind
     constantly, there is no inartistic protrusion of her personality.
     The book is always readable, and the relation of the death-scene is
     thrillingly impressive."--_Saturday Gazette._

     "Mrs. Julia Ward Howe has retold the story of Margaret Fuller's
     life and career in a very interesting manner. This remarkable woman
     was happy in having James Freeman Clarke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and
     William Henry Channing, all of whom had been intimate with her and
     had felt the spell of her extraordinary personal influence, for her
     biographers. It is needless to say, of course, that nothing could
     be better than these reminiscences in their way."--_New York
     World._

     "The selection of Mrs. Howe as the writer of this biography was a
     happy thought on the part of the editor of the series; for, aside
     from the natural appreciation she would have for Margaret Fuller,
     comes her knowledge of all the influences that had their effect on
     Margaret Fuller's life. She tells the story of Margaret Fuller's
     interesting life from all sources and from her own knowledge, not
     hesitating to use plenty of quotations when she felt that others,
     or even Margaret Fuller herself, had done the work better."--_Miss
     Gilder, in Philadelphia Press._



Famous Women Series.

MARIA EDGEWORTH.

BY HELEN ZIMMERN.

     "This little volume shows good literary workmanship. It does not
     weary the reader with vague theories; nor does it give over much
     expression to the enthusiasm--not to say baseless encomium--for
     which too many female biographers have accustomed us to look. It is
     a simple and discriminative sketch of one of the most clever and
     lovable of the class at whom Carlyle sneered as 'scribbling
     women.'... Of Maria Edgeworth, the woman, one cannot easily say too
     much in praise. That home life, so loving, so wise, and so helpful,
     was beautiful to its end. Miss Zimmern has treated it with delicate
     appreciation. Her book is refined in conception and tasteful in
     execution,--all, in short, the cynic might say, that we expect a
     woman's book to be."--_New York Tribune._

     "It was high time that we should possess an adequate biography of
     this ornament and general benefactor of her time. And so we hail
     with uncommon pleasure the volume just published in the Roberts
     Brothers' series of Famous Women, of which it is the sixth. We have
     only words of praise for the manner in which Miss Zimmern has
     written her life of Maria Edgeworth. It exhibits sound judgment,
     critical analysis, and clear characterization.... The style of the
     volume is pure, limpid, and strong, as we might expect from a
     well-trained English writer."--_Margaret J. Preston, in the Home
     Journal._

     "We can heartily recommend this life of Maria Edgeworth, not only
     because it is singularly readable in itself, but because it makes
     familiar to readers of the present age a notable figure in English
     literary history, with whose lineaments we suspect most readers,
     especially of the present generation, are less familiar than they
     ought to be."--_Eclectic._

     "This biography contains several letters and papers by Miss
     Edgeworth that have not before been made public, notably some
     charming letters written during the latter part of her life to Dr.
     Holland and Mr. and Mrs. Ticknor. The author had access to a life
     of Miss Edgeworth written by her step-mother, as well as to a large
     collection of her private letters, and has therefore been able to
     bring forward many facts in her life which have not been noted by
     other writers. The book is written in a pleasant vein, and is
     altogether a delightful one to read."--_Utica Herald._



FAMOUS WOMEN SERIES.

GEORGE SAND.

BY BERTHA THOMAS.

One volume. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00

     "Miss Thomas has accomplished a difficult task with as much good
     sense as good feeling. She presents the main facts of George Sand's
     life, extenuating nothing, and setting naught down in malice, but
     wisely leaving her readers to form their own conclusions. Everybody
     knows that it was not such a life as the women of England and
     America are accustomed to live, and as the worst of men are glad to
     have them live.... Whatever may be said against it, its result on
     George Sand was not what it would have been upon an English or
     American woman of genius."--_New York Mail and Express._

     "This is a volume of the 'Famous Women Series,' which was begun so
     well with George Eliot and Emily Brontë. The book is a review and
     critical analysis of George Sand's life and work, by no means a
     detailed biography. Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, the maiden, or
     Mme. Dudevant, the married woman, is forgotten in the renown of the
     pseudonym George Sand.

     "Altogether, George Sand, with all her excesses and defects, is a
     representative woman, one of the names of the nineteenth century.
     She was great among the greatest, the friend and compeer of the
     finest intellects, and Miss Thomas's essay will be a useful and
     agreeable introduction to a more extended study of her life and
     works."--_Knickerbocker._

     "The biography of this famous woman, by Miss Thomas, is the only
     one in existence. Those who have awaited it with pleasurable
     anticipation, but with some trepidation as to the treatment of the
     erratic side of her character, cannot fail to be pleased with the
     skill by which it is done. It is the best production on George Sand
     that has yet been published. The author modestly refers to it as a
     sketch, which it undoubtedly is, but a sketch that gives a just and
     discriminating analysis of George Sand's life, tastes, occupations,
     and of the motives and impulses which prompted her unconventional
     actions, that were misunderstood by a narrow public. The
     difficulties encountered by the writer in describing this
     remarkable character are shown in the first line of the opening
     chapter, which says, 'In naming George Sand we name something more
     exceptional than even a great genius.' That tells the whole story.
     Misconstruction, condemnation, and isolation are the penalties
     enforced upon the great leaders in the realm of advanced thought,
     by the bigoted people of their time. The thinkers soar beyond the
     common herd, whose soul-wings are not strong enough to fly aloft to
     clearer atmospheres, and consequently they censure or ridicule what
     they are powerless to reach. George Sand, even to a greater extent
     than her contemporary, George Eliot, was a victim to ignorant
     social prejudices, but even the conservative world was forced to
     recognize the matchless genius of these two extraordinary women,
     each widely different in her character and method of thought and
     writing.... She has told much that is good which has been untold,
     and just what will interest the reader, and no more, in the same
     easy, entertaining style that characterizes all of these
     unpretentious biographies."--_Hartford Times._



Famous Women Series.

GEORGE ELIOT.

BY MATHILDE BLIND.

One vol. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.

     "Messrs. Roberts Brothers begin a series of Biographies of Famous
     Women with a life of George Eliot, by Mathilde Blind. The idea of
     the series is an excellent one, and the reputation of its
     publishers is a guarantee for its adequate execution. This book
     contains about three hundred pages in open type, and not only
     collects and condenses the main facts that are known in regard to
     the history of George Eliot, but supplies other material from
     personal research. It is agreeably written, and with a good idea of
     proportion in a memoir of its size. The critical study of its
     subject's works, which is made in the order of their appearance, is
     particularly well done. In fact, good taste and good judgment
     pervade the memoir throughout."--_Saturday Evening Gazette._

     "Miss Blind's little book is written with admirable good taste and
     judgment, and with notable self-restraint. It does not weary the
     reader with critical discursiveness, nor with attempts to search
     out high-flown meanings and recondite oracles in the plain 'yea'
     and 'nay' of life. It is a graceful and unpretentious little
     biography, and tells all that need be told concerning one of the
     greatest writers of the time. It is a deeply interesting if not
     fascinating woman whom Miss Blind presents," says the New York
     _Tribune_.

     "Miss Blind's little biographical study of George Eliot is written
     with sympathy and good taste, and is very welcome. It gives us a
     graphic if not elaborate sketch of the personality and development
     of the great novelist, is particularly full and authentic
     concerning her earlier years, tells enough of the leading motives
     in her work to give the general reader a lucid idea of the true
     drift and purpose of her art, and analyzes carefully her various
     writings, with no attempt at profound criticism or fine writing,
     but with appreciation, insight, and a clear grasp of those
     underlying psychological principles which are so closely interwoven
     in every production that came from her pen."--_Traveller._

     "The lives of few great writers have attracted more curiosity and
     speculation than that of George Eliot. Had she only lived earlier
     in the century she might easily have become the centre of a mythos.
     As it is, many of the anecdotes commonly repeated about her are
     made up largely of fable. It is, therefore, well, before it is too
     late, to reduce the true story of her career to the lowest terms,
     and this service has been well done by the author of the present
     volume."--_Philadelphia Press._



FAMOUS WOMEN SERIES.

MARY LAMB.

BY ANNE GILCHRIST.

+One volume. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.+

     "The story of Mary Lamb has long been familiar to the readers of
     Elia, but never in its entirety as in the monograph which Mrs. Anne
     Gilchrist has just contributed to the Famous Women Series. Darkly
     hinted at by Talfourd in his Final Memorials of Charles Lamb, it
     became better known as the years went on and that imperfect work
     was followed by fuller and franker biographies,--became so well
     known, in fact, that no one could recall the memory of Lamb without
     recalling at the same time the memory of his sister."--_New York
     Mail and Express._

     "A biography of Mary Lamb must inevitably be also, almost more, a
     biography of Charles Lamb, so completely was the life of the sister
     encompassed by that of her brother; and it must be allowed that
     Mrs. Anne Gilchrist has performed a difficult biographical task
     with taste and ability.... The reader is at least likely to lay
     down the book with the feeling that if Mary Lamb is not famous she
     certainly deserves to be, and that a debt of gratitude is due Mrs.
     Gilchrist for this well-considered record of her life."--_Boston
     Courier._

     "Mary Lamb, who was the embodiment of everything that is tenderest
     in woman, combined with this a heroism which bore her on for a
     while through the terrors of insanity. Think of a highly
     intellectual woman struggling year after year with madness,
     triumphant over it for a season, and then at last succumbing to it.
     The saddest lines that ever were written are those descriptive of
     this brother and sister just before Mary, on some return of
     insanity, was to leave Charles Lamb. 'On one occasion Mr. Charles
     Lloyd met them slowly pacing together a little foot-path in Hoxton
     Fields, both weeping bitterly, and found, on joining them, that
     they were taking their solemn way to the accustomed asylum.' What
     pathos is there not here?"--_New York Times._

     "This life was worth writing, for all records of weakness
     conquered, of pain patiently borne, of success won from difficulty,
     of cheerfulness in sorrow and affliction, make the world better.
     Mrs. Gilchrist's biography is unaffected and simple. She has told
     the sweet and melancholy story with judicious sympathy, showing
     always the light shining through darkness."--_Philadelphia Press._

_Sold by all Booksellers. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of the price, by
the Publishers,_

ROBERTS BROTHERS, BOSTON.



MARGARET FULLER'S WORKS AND MEMOIRS.

WOMAN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, and kindred papers relating to the
Sphere, Condition, and Duties of Woman. Edited by her brother, ARTHUR B.
FULLER, with an Introduction by HORACE GREELEY. In 1 vol. 16mo. $1.50.

ART, LITERATURE, AND THE DRAMA. 1 vol. 16mo. $1.50.

LIFE WITHOUT AND LIFE WITHIN; or, Reviews, Narratives, Essays, and
Poems. 1 vol. 16mo. $1.50.

AT HOME AND ABROAD; or, Things and Thoughts in America and Europe, 1
vol. 16mo. $1.50.

MEMOIRS OF MARGARET FULLER OSSOLI. By RALPH WALDO EMERSON, WILLIAM HENRY
CHANNING, and JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE. With Portrait and Appendix. 2 vols.
16mo. $3.00.

     MARGARET FULLER will be remembered as one of the "Great
     Conversers," the "Prophet of the Woman Movement" in this country,
     and her Memoirs will be read with delight as among the tenderest
     specimens of biographical writing in our language. She was never an
     extremist. She considered woman neither man's rival nor his foe,
     but his complement. As she herself said, she believed that the
     development of one could not be affected without that of the other.
     Her words, so noble in tone, so moderate in spirit, so eloquent in
     utterance, should not be forgotten by her sisters. Horace Greeley,
     in his introduction to her "Woman in the Nineteenth Century," says:
     "She was one of the earliest, as well as ablest, among American
     women to demand for her sex equality before the law with her
     titular lord and master. Her writings on this subject have the
     force that springs from the ripening of profound reflection into
     assured conviction. It is due to her memory, as well as to the
     great and living cause of which she was so eminent and so fearless
     an advocate, that what she thought and said with regard to the
     position of her sex and its limitations should be fully and fairly
     placed before the public." No woman who wishes to understand the
     full scope of what is called the woman's movement should fail to
     read these pages, and see in them how one woman proved her right to
     a position in literature hitherto occupied by men, by filling it
     nobly.

     The Story of this rich, sad, striving, unsatisfied life, with its
     depths of emotion and its surface sparkling and glowing, is told
     tenderly and reverently by her biographers. Their praise is eulogy,
     and their words often seem extravagant; but they knew her well,
     they spoke as they felt. The character that could awaken such
     interest and love surely is a rare one.

»» The above are uniformly bound in cloth, and sold
separately or in sets.

Sold everywhere. Mailed, post-paid, by the Publishers,

ROBERTS BROTHERS, BOSTON.



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