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THE FAMILY COUNCIL.
"1. The Family Council shall be composed (exclusive of the justices of the peace) of six of the relations by blood or marriage, chosen either in the parish where the council is convened, or within the distance of two myriamètres,' half on the maternal, half on the paternal side, and following the order of nearness of relationship. A relative by blood shall be preferred to one by alliance of the same degree (a brother to a brother-in-law for example), and among relations of the same degree the elder shall be preferred to the younger.
“ 2. The brothers of the same blood and the husbands of the sisters are alone excepted to the limitation of number of which the council is to consist. If there are six or more they shall all be members of the Family Council, which they alone shall form, together with the widows in the ascending line, and those in the ascending line who have right to be excused, if such there are.
“ If the brothers and brothers-in-law be less than six, the other relations shall only be called to complete the council.
“3. When the relations by blood or marriage of one or other side are not in sufficient number on the spot, the magistrate shall call other relations by blood or marriage, either domiciled at a greater distance or in the parish' itself, persons known to have been in the habits of friendship with the father or mother of the person to be interdicted.
“4. The magistrate may, however, even when there are present on the spot a number sufficient of relations by blood or alliance, summon at whatever distance relations nearer in degree of relationship or of the same degree as those present; in such a way, however, that some shall be removed of these last, so as not to make the council exceed the number before named.
“5. The time for appearing shall be appointed for a fixed day by the magistrate (juge de paix), but in such a manner that there shall be always between the citation and the day appointed for the meeting of the council an interval of at least three days, when all parties reside in the district, or within the distance of two myriamètres. “6. If however, among the parties summo
moned, some shall be found domiciled beyond the regular distance, there shall be an interval of one day for every three myriamètres.
“7. The persons, whether relations or friends, who are thus cited, are to appear in person or by a substitute especially appointed. The substitute cannot represent more than one person.
“ 8. Every relation by blood or alliance, or friend thus cited, and who shall not appear without legal excuse, will incur a penalty of not more than fifty francs, to be declared without appeal by the magistrate.
“ 9. If there be sufficient excuse, and it is agreed either to wait for the absent er or to replace him, in such a case, as in every
other 1 Rather more than six miles. ? The word parish is the nearest approach to commune."
where the interest of the person to be judged seems to demand it, the magistrate may adjourn or prorogue the meeting.
“10. The council shall be held of right in the house of the magistrate, unless he himself point out another place. The presence of at the least three-fourths of those summoned will be necessary for these deliberations.
“11. The family council shall be presided by the magistrate, who will have the right to discuss questions, and have the casting vote in cases where the opinions are equally divided.
“ 12. If the person to be interdicted is domiciled in France, but possesses property in the colonies, the special administration of his property shall be given to a protutor. In this case the guardian and the protutor shall be independent one of the other, and not responsible for their several management of property.
“ 13. The guardian will act and administer as guardian from the very day of his nomination, if it takes place in his presence; if not, from the day on which the appointment shall be notified to him.
“14. The guardianship is a personal charge which does not descend to the heirs of the guardian; these will only be responsible for the manner in which the affairs have been conducted, and, if of age, are bound to continue the guardianship until the nomination of a new guardian.
"Now, on considering the practice in the two countries on this most important subject, it must be obvious that much is done for the protection of the lunatic, but there is no graduation of restriction ; all found of unsound mind are equally interdicted, though they might go about with impunity, or where their unsoundness of mind was perfectly harmless. I would, with great humility, call your Lordship's attention to the clause in the French Code, which might, after the consideration of the law officers of the crown, be modified so as to lessen the extreme penalty of unsoundness of mind '-confinement in a lunatic asylum for a series of desolate years.
“ This clause is especially intended for those cases in which a young man of weak intellect is destroying his property and lavishing his means childishly, and yet is in the enjoyment of good bodily health, and able to appreciate the good things of this world. I purposely abstain from examples, because it would make this paper too long.
“ The clause is this :-
“« On rejecting a demand for interdiction, the tribunal may, nevertheless, if circumstances require it, order that the defendant shall not hereafter plead, compromise, borrow, receive personal property, purchase, or give receipts, alienate or mortgage his property, without the assistance of a council, who shall be appointed at the same time.'
“ Undoubtedly it often happens that a man is of too weak a mind to transact affairs without being taken in or cheated, and yet quite able to enjoy uncontrolled the comforts of life, being prevented only from being ruined, by being obliged to consult a wiser head in cases of importance."
The “ Family Council," and the provisions above described, form a system which in comparison with that existing in England does not
seem to command such advantages as to induce us to prefer it. It is nevertheless useful to be able to test one system of law by another, and especially so in this case, as that wbich exists in relation to lunacy in England is admitted to be by no means perfect. Hints (and nothing more) may possibly be taken from the practice in France. Except as possibly suggesting these, Dr. Seymour's pamphlet is worthless.
The Claims of Ragged Schools to Pecuniary Educational Aid from the
Annual Parliamentary Grant. By Mary Carpenter. London: Partridge & Co.
MARY CARPENTER has a right to be heard on this subject, for she knows by personal experience, and through personal labour and sacrifices, what Ragged Schools are, what they do, and what they want. We, in these
pages, have also a right to demand a hearing for her, because the subject of Ragged Schools and the Reformatory are closely connected with those of crime, the criminal courts, and the prison. Until we grow hardened by the repeated spectacle of the criminal dock, our heart is dismayed with the number of those who, assize after assize, occupy it—at that constant succession of criminals evidencing the fertile causes of crime, some of which are known to be removable, yet remain unremoved.
It would be dull repetition of established truths-recognized by all whose attention has been directed to the subject, and whose judgment is worth regard—to affirm tha vitiated thousands of children in the land, who are born in abject poverty, and nurtured in ignorance and squalor, form the bulk of the “ dangerous classes,” and fill our jails. Both in and out of prison they live on the industrious classes. The practical philanthropist, in providing some instruction and exhibiting some care for their welfare, is doing service to the state, not only to be reckoned by positive advantages obvious to the practical eye and the sensitive purse, but in respect of preventing evil which is incalculable.
The author of the pamphlet before us pleads for efficient aid from the Committee of Council on Education; now this committee is rather a troublesome body to deal with, red-tapish and crotchety; yet they have, it must be remembered, difficult duties to perform-difficult in themselves, and not rendered lighter by having to confer in a multitude of cases, with impracticable and unbusinesslike people, who rush up from parsonages with more wants than wit.
But let us see why the Committee of Council object to lend the aid of national funds for Ragged Schools. We read :
F'irst, that in giving educational help, an officer of the State ought not to take it for granted that there would be permanently a Ragged School class in the country, and therefore ought not to make provision for it.
“Surely this is not the principle on which the Government of our country is carried on! It arises from a wrong state of things' un
questionably, that the Ragged School exists ;-it arises equally from a'wrong state of things' that the pauper class exists ;—that thousands of our countrymen and women annually find it impossible to obtain an honest living in England ;-that the sanatory condition of our large towns is such as to perpetuate disease both of body and mind ;-that crime is constantly committed even in open day. And does the Government of our country remain passive, and allow of the existence of dreadful evils, because these things ought not to exist; and does it not become a statesman to do something more than ignore them ? Should he not rather grapple with each evil in such way as appears most for the good of society in general, and for the individual concerned ? Does not the Government provide in such way as seems best for the necessities of paupers ;-aid in the emigration of those whose labour will find a better market in more distant parts of the kingdom ;-grapple vigorously with the unwholesome condition of streets and alleys, and even of private houses ;-and, with respect to the thousands of criminals who annually spring up afresh in our country, does it not withdraw them from society, feed and clothe them, and otherwise provide for them, even at the risk of appearing thereby to discourage the honest labourer, who has often a far more scanty fare for himself and family than the pauper and the felon. No Government does act on such a principle in other matters—why should it do so in respect to the 'something rotten in our State' which poisons its very core, the millions of untaught children who neither can nor will avail themselves of the higher educational establishments ?
Happily such is not the opinion of so distinguished a statesman as Lord JOHN RUSSELL, who, when addressing a Ragged School at Sheffield, in 1857, thus spoke:
"It is absolutely necessary, as it appears to me, that for the present, at least, the voluntary efforts of those who love mankind, and have a feeling of regard for their neighbours, and for the safety of society, should combine in endeavouring to provide by what are called Ragged Schools, and by Schools of a similar description, a supply for the wants to which I have adverted. I believe that if these wants are supplied, although we can never hope in our most sanguine expectations that temptations will not divert many from an honest and religious course, yet that the number of those who are sent to prison, who, not having originally vicious inclinations, have been perverted by bad example and the circumstances of their positionthat the number of those who are criminally punished will very sensibly decrease, and society be a great gainer thereby.'
" Secondly, it was objected that the children of Ragged School classes were in general not the children of parents who could not pay, but rather of those who would not pay. This was asserted in reliance on the inquiries which had been made. More extended inquiries, made in other quarters, would certainly have elirited very different results. The fundamental rule of the London Kagged School Union is, that no children shall be admitted who can attend the higher schools. Such is the general principle of admission throughout the kingdom. Of course it rests with the managers to exclude such children as can go elsewhere, and to keep the school down to the class intended.
“The third and last argument against giving educational aid to
Ragged Schools is, that the doing so might make them permanent institutions, and draw down other schools to them, instead of raising the class received by them.
"It would indeed be right that a Government should guard against such a danger, if it really existed. But we believe that such a danger spurely imaginary. During the twelve years that Ragged Schools have been in operation, we have never heard of a single instance of a National or British School being drawn down to the condition of Ragged School, or of its injury from the proximity of one.
"The Certified Industrial Schools are proposed as a substitute for Ragged Schools. They can never take that position, because a large proportion of the children which attend the latter do not in any way subject themselves to police interference, nor would it be at all desirable that parental responsibility should be withdrawn unless when absolutely necessary for the child's welfare. But these are placed in even a worse condition than Ragged Schools by the Minute of Dec., 1857. The only additional aid given is £5 per annum for the food of each child sent under Magisterial order; this will barely suffice for food ; clothing and sleeping accommodation must also be provided with extended industrial training. It cannot be expected that voluntary effort will undertake what ought to be done by the State for children under its sentence."
Now our pages are not influential, we fear, with the members of the Committee of Council on Education. But many of our readers know the nature and history of juvenile as well as of other crime, and they know, we trow, what it is to contribute to the taxes annually, nay, perennially, perquarterly, and perpetually required for government purposes. They will agree with us, that in aiding such persons as Mary Carpenter to educate the poorest children, and to lift from the deepening slough of ignorance and wickedness the miserable offspring of the unfortunate and degraded, the produce of taxation is better employed than in paying policemen, building jails and repressing crime" generally.
We commend the pamphlet we are now noticing to the attention of those of our readers who concern themselves in matters touching the interest of the poor, and the cause of and cure for crimes.
The chief difficulty in effecting good in these affairs, we have always believed to be the finding of men and women who can and will give themselves to this sort of work. It is the human soul in the few who are active and thorough, by which worthy deeds are wrought. Government, or rich contributors can provide money for any good purpose ; but nought will come of it, unless there be a genuine spirit to direct the scheme and carry out personally the object. Ragged Schools are not got up for amateurs' amusement or dilletante display. Their character forbids the idea of mock philanthropists having much to do with them ;-they exist through the hearty zeal of honest, brave, and working members of society. Having these, and Government having funds at their disposal for educational purposes, we claim that these schools shall not be cut off from a share of these funds, of which