Page:Millicent Fawcett - Some Eminent Women.djvu/44

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EMINENT WOMEN OF OUR TIMES

At no time did she seek to obtain from the governor of the prison any authority over the prisoners; that is, she never sought to control them against their will; authority over them she had, but it was the authority which proceeded from her own personal influence. The prisoners did what she wished, because they knew her devotion to them. Her hold over them is best proved by the fact that never but once did she meet from them with anything that could be called rudeness or insult.

Next to her care for godliness and education, her chief thoughts were given to provide employment for the prisoners, first for the women, and then for the men. A gentleman gave her 10s., and in the same week another gave her £1. Her gratitude for the possession of this small capital is touching to read of. She expended it in the purchase of materials for baby-clothes, and borrowing patterns, she set the women to work upon making little shifts and wrappers. The garments, when completed, were sold for the benefit of the women who had made them.

Her capital grew from thirty shillings to seven guineas, and in all more than £400 worth of clothing, made in this way, was sold. The advantages were twofold. First, the women were employed and taught to sew, and secondly, each woman was enabled to earn a small sum, which was saved for her till the time of her release from prison. This money was frequently the means of giving the discharged prisoner a chance of starting a new life and gaining an honest livelihood.

Sarah Martin gave particular attention to this very important branch of her work. A man or a woman just out of prison, branded with all the stigma and disgrace of the gaol, is too often almost forced back into crime as the only means of livelihood. Endless were the devices and schemes which Sarah Martin employed to prevent this. She would seek out respectable lodgings for the prisoners on their discharge; she would see their former employers and entreat that another chance might be given; her note-