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serted a request that the General Assembly might be pleased to pay increased attention in the discharge of their religious duties to the instruction of prisoners and the education of the young. By whose suggestion this request may have been inserted in the Prince's letter, it is perhaps at this date impossible to ascertain; but the circumstance is worthy of record, as illustrative of the laudable attention of a paternal government to the well-being of its subjects; and as a specimen of the relative duties of the State and of the Church when in friendly union. As a matter of courtesy, the Assembly responded to the request of the Prince, by an assurance that it would be duly attended to. But Dr. Macgill felt with some others that all this might be mere words of course, and that unless something more were done, the matter thus presented to them by the highest authority in the land, might after all be overlooked. He therefore rose in his place in the Assembly, and after a suitable address, proposed that a committee should be formed for the purpose of taking into consideration the most efficacious plan for promoting the moral improvement of prisons, bridewells, &c., and for adopting a more systematic and effective mode of conducting the education, and particularly the religious education of the working classes of society, especially in large and populous cities. A committee was accordingly named, and Dr. Macgill appointed convener. During the sitting of the Assembly that same year, they held several meetings; and the informa

tion which the convener was enabled from his previous enquiries to communicate, put it in their power to draw up a suitable interim report, which was approved by the Assembly and ordered to be printed, and sent to all the Presbyteries of the Church; to the ministers of those burghs and parishes where bridewells and prisons are situated; to the magistrates of towns and the conveners of counties throughout Scotland. This Report recommends that the Assembly should adopt such means as to its wisdom shall appear proper, for procuring to Scotland the benefit of an act of Parliament, similar in its object to one already passed for England and Wales, and which embodies many excellent regulations regarding the appointment of ministers and teachers for jails. It farther recommends to the ministers in burghs to embrace every opportunity for promoting the reformation and improvement of prisoners, and in concert with the magistrates to afford their aid and support to every measure adopted for guarding against the further corruption of the unhappy persons placed under confinement; for giving instruction to the young and the ignorant; awakening the careless and the obdurate to repentance; and bringing back deluded wanderers to the fold of the chief Shepherd. On the subject of education in large towns, it recommends to the Assembly to adopt suitable means for obtaining for each parish in every large town, at least one parochial school, suitably endowed, for instruction in elementary education, in addition to, and notwithstanding the establishment of schools appropriated to Latin and the higher branches. It further recommends the Assembly to renew their appointment on every minister in this Church to attend to the state of the schools within their respective parishes, and by superintendance, examination, advice, and any means which circumstances may suggest, endeavour to maintain and diffuse the blessings of a good and religious education among all classes of young persons, belonging to the parishes committed to their charge.* The Report was also transmitted to Lord Sidmouth, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Lord Advocate, (Sir William Rae,) and the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Commons on Jails; and a letter was addressed to each of these gentlemen explanatory of the object of the Assembly, and soliciting their countenance and aid. The letter, which was drawn up by the convener, stated in addition, the deep interest which the Committee of the Assembly felt in the other important subjects relative to prisons under the consideration of the House of Commons, especially those relative to classification of prisoners, and the evils arising from idleness, intemperance and gaming, by which our jails have in so many instances been rendered the nurseries of vice. The Committee intimated further the pleasure it would give them to furnish any information in their power, which might

copy of the Report at length will be found in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor for Dec. 1819.

be required on these important subjects. A Subcommittee was appointed for carrying these measures into effect, and the great burden fell, as usual in such cases, on the convener. He not only executed with dispatch the trust reposed in him, but by personal communication with the official authorities, did every thing in his power to further the object. It happened in this case as in others of a similar kind. The measures proposed were of too good a character to interest ordinary minds, and the total absence of all party feeling, together with the entire benevolence of the scheme, secured for the excellent convener and his praiseworthy efforts a bare toleration, or rather hardly so much. As a matter of form, indeed, the "cordial and unanimous thanks” of the Assembly were regularly given him for his “able and disinterested” labours; but as to any effective co-operation in carrying out the measures contemplated, Dr. Macgill was doomed to feel the pains of protracted disappointment. Few of the members of Committee thought it worth while to attend the meetings. The Lord Advocate and Lord Sidmouth, though “cordially approving,” were too busy about other matters; and even a paid functionary in London to whom the business of drawing out a Bill on Parochial Schools in Burghs, had at the Lord Advocate's suggestion been intrusted, had the hardihood to write to the convener, that he had great doubts in regard to the necessity of the proposed Bill, as the present acts sufficiently provided for the case, and the want

*

(of Schools) was not felt in Burghs and Towns”! Dr. M. combated the hostile opinions of this gentleman, and obtained the countenance and encouragement of the Lord Justice Clerk, the Procurator, and Sir Henry Moncrieff; but it does not appear that there was any zeal on the subject in any effective quarter ; and the issue was-nothing was done. The general subject of Prisons, however, was advantageously laid before the public, and many valuable hints and reports of “inspections" were brought forward.* It remained for the Hon. Fox Maule, during the ministry of a liberal government, to introduce and carry a comprehensive parliamentary measure on the subject, a measure which cheered the heart of Dr. M. during his declining years, and whose beneficial effects Scotland, we trust, will long feel. In regard to Parochial Schools for Burghs, matters remain nearly in statu quo; and it is not creditable to any party that it should be so. In Glasgow, indeed, and in some other places, the legacies of Dr. Bell have been made available to this end, and with the very best results. In Edinburgh, the Schools lately established by act of Parliament on the foundation of George Heriot's Hospital, promise to be a

* In two of the earliest numbers of the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, (Sept. and Oct. 1810,) a very full and favourable review of Dr. Macgill's Remarks on Prisons was inserted. The article was written by Dr. Andrew Thomson, the eminently gifted Editor of that periodical, and he has successfully infused into it no small portion of that energy of thought and power of expression for which he was so remarkable.

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