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IN TWO PARTS.
COLIN ARROTT BROWNING, M.D.
SURGEON, ROYAL NAVY.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."--Hosea iv. 6.
every one that believeth."-Rom. i. 16.
When, in the year 1831, on being appointed to the Surry, the duties and responsibilities involved in the surgeon-superintendency of a convict ship, were, for the first time, imposed upon me, I felt myself greatly at a loss from the want of anything like a system of management and instruction; and my inexperience of the nature of the service on which I had entered, and of the details of its duties, caused me no small degree of anxiety. I had, it is true, a copy of the printed official instructions; but these, althouglhinhoy afforded me a general view of the duties of my station, supplied me with nothing like a scheme of education and discipline, and necessarily left the minutiæ of duty to my discretion.
Much of the time occupied by my first voyage, was expended in observation and experiment, and was therefore in some measure lost to many of the prisoners, as it respected their advancement in knowledge and moral improvement.
I entered on my second charge, which was in the ship Arab, in the year 1834, prepared with a system of instruction and government, the result of my experience in my first appointment, and to which some additions afterwards suggested themselves, during our progress to the Colonies. As my third voyage, in the Elphinstone, advanced, my plan received farther improvements, and was finally brought to the state in which it is now exhibited, in the second part of this volume. Its fitness for the management of female convicts,* was ascertained in the year 1840; when, (having in the mean time served in a ship of war,) I accomplished, in the ship Margaret, my fourth voyage.
The narrative of the “ Convict Ship,” presents a living, moving spectacle, of the same system in operation among 264 convicts, in my fifth voyage, on board the Earl Grey; and the subjoined notice of the Theresa, shows its happy effects,
* Very slight modifications only are required, consisting chiefly in a mere change of the designations of office-bearers. For example, chief and second matrons ; matrons of deck, of divisions, and so forth ; school mistresses and inspectress of schools. The duties are precisely the same, with such exception as may be involved, in the prohibition of all communication between the prisoners and any person on board, not of their own sex; the prisoners not being permitted to quit the place assigned them, or to go before the barricade which separates them from the forecastle, occupied by the crew, or abaft the break of the poop ; nor the matrons to quit their post, under any pretext whatever, until they are duly relieved; for it is here most emphatically asserted, that the women themselves must supply their own guardians.
under the Divine blessing, during my sixth voyage,-surpassing in some respects, those I experienced during the five preceding ones.
My chief object in first publishing “ England's Exiles" was, the hope that it might be useful to officers engaging in the service to which it refers. When I entered upon my first appointment, I should have been exceedingly glad to have been furnished with such a system; and to those placed in similar circumstances, it may at least supply some useful hints.
To several individuals, experienced in the Christian instruction and training of the neglected masses of our population, it has appeared that the same system is calculated to be useful, not only in convict ships, but, with suitable modifications, in emigrant ships, as well as in our country prisons and houses of correction ; perhaps also in large manufactories.
We hear much in our days of the separate, solitary, and silent systems of prison discipline ; but unless the CHRISTIAN system be brought to bear, with Divine power, on the understandings and consciences of criminals, every other system which professedly contemplates their reformation, must, to the disappointment and confusion of its projectors, prove an utter failure. If we would see an efficient system of moral discipline in operation in our prisons, penitentiaries, and convict hulks, we must provide for the effectual instruction of their inmates in the great facts and doc