Elizabeth Fry
by Mrs. E. R. Pitman
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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 preeminence 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."



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.

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MARGARET. A Tale of the Real and the Ideal, of Blight and Bloom. By SYLVESTER JUDD. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.50.

THE VICAR'S DAUGHTER. By GEORGE MACDONALD. With illustrations. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.50.

MY MARRIAGE. A Novel. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00.

Our publications are for sale by all Booksellers, and will be mailed postpaid, on receipt of price, by the publishers,



"It is a very good office one man does another, when he tells him the manner of his being pleased."—SIR RICHARD STEELE.

LETTERS HOME. From Colorado, Utah, and California. By CAROLINE H. DALL: 12mo. $1.50.

"There is a freshness about her Diary that is not often met with in books of this sort, and a happy regard for the minor details which give color and character to descriptions of strange life and scenery," says the N.Y. Tribune.

SEVEN SPANISH CITIES, and The Way to Them. By E.E. HALE. 16mo. $1.25.

"Mr. Hale makes Spain more attractive and more amusing than any other traveller has done."—Boston Advertiser.

GONE TO TEXAS; or, The Wonderful Adventures of a Pullman. By E.E. HALE. 16mo. $1.00.

"There are few books of travel which combine, in a romance of true love, so many touches of the real life of many people, in glimpses of happy homes, in pictures of scenery and sunset, as the beautiful panorama unrolled before us from the windows of this Pullman car."


"Those who have read Mr. Stevenson's delightful 'Travels with a Donkey,' in which he told the story of a unique trip among the mountains of Southern France, will gladly welcome this bright account of a canoe voyage through the canals of Belgium, on the Sambre, and down the Oise. Unlike Captain Macgregor, of 'Rob Roy' fame, Mr. Stevenson does not make canoeing itself his main theme, but delights in charming bits of description that, in their close attention to picturesque detail, remind one of the work of a skilled 'genre' painter."—Good Literature.


By ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. With Frontispiece illustration by Walter Crane. 16mo. $1.00.

"Charming, full of grace and humor and freshness,—such refined humor it is, too, and so evidently the work of a gentleman. What a happy knack he has of giving the taste of a landscape, or any out-door impression, in ten words!"

Our publications are sold by all booksellers. Mailed, postpaid, on receipt of the advertised price.



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