Page:Millicent Fawcett - Some Eminent Women.djvu/25

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EMINENT WOMEN OF OUR TIMES

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philanthropists like herself. Aided by a band of fellow-workers and wise advisers, chief of whom were Mr. Matthew Davenport Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, and his daughters; Dr. Tuckerman, of the U.S.A.; Mr. Russell Scott, of Bath; Mr. Sheriff Watson, of Aberdeen; and Lady Byron, Mary Carpenter set to work to establish a voluntary reformatory school at Kingswood, near Bristol. Her principle was that by surrounding children, who would otherwise be criminals, with all the influences of a wholesome home life, there was a better chance than by any other course, of reclaiming these children, and making them useful members of society. To herd children together in large, unhomelike institutions, was always, in Mary Carpenter's view, undesirable; the effect on character is bad; the more perfectly such places are managed, the more nearly do the children in them become part of a huge machine, and the less are their faculties, as responsible human beings, developed. Over and over again, in books, in addresses, and by the example of the institutions which she managed herself, Mary Carpenter reiterated the lesson that if a child is to be rescued and reformed, he must be placed in a family; and that where it is necessary, for the good of society, to separate children on account of their own viciousness, or that of their parents, from their own homes, the institutions receiving them should be based on the family ideal so far as possible. With this end in view, the children at Kingswood were surrounded by as many home influences as possible. Miss Carpenter at one time thought of living there herself, but this scheme was given up, in deference to her mother's wishes. She was, however, a constant visitor, and a little room, which had once been John Wesley's study, was fitted up as a resting-place for her. On a pane of one of the windows of this room her predecessor had written the words, "God is here." She taught the children herself, and provided them with rabbits, fowls, and pigs, the care of which she felt would exercise a humanising influence upon them. The whole discipline of the place was directed by her; one of her chief difficulties