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In December 1851, a First Conference was held at Birmingham, for the purpose of consulting on the means of establishing preventive and reformatory schools for those classes of children which have come, with an appalling sort of propriety, to be distinguished as the “perishing and dangerous.” On that occasion the chairman, M. D. Hill, Esq., announced to the meeting that he was authorized, anonymously, to offer a prize of 2001. for the best Essay on the subject then under consideration.

That offer is now acknowledged to have originated with Lady Noel Byron, who will have the satisfaction of presenting some of the fruits of it at the Second Conference, to be held at the same place, the 20th December 1853.

The objects specifically to be kept in view were set forth with the utmost precision in the following advertisement :

PRIZE ESSAY. OBJECTS :-1. To prove that it is the duty of society-1. To save the young, as far as possible, from the commission of sin. 2. To save them, as far as possible, from becoming worse after its commission.

II. To show that public opinion requires to be elevated and enlightened, until it shall be considered utterly unworthy' of a civilized and Christian people to view these questions merely, or even principally, in an economical light; and until it shall be generally recognized as a barbarism and disgrace that any child should be allowed to form habits of begging and stealing, or be left exposed to the danger of corruption in the haunts of vice and schools of crime.

III. To state in detail the means whereby the objects above-named (I.) may be obtained; and to consider the consequences likely to follow from the adoption of those means to-1. The children intended to be benefited -2. Their parents and families—3. Their parishes, neighbourhood, the Government, and the Christian community.

CONDITIONS :—The prize to be 2001. ; to be paid as soon after Christmas 1852, as the award can be made.

The essays to be sent by the 1st of November, 1852, addressed to the care of Alfred Hill, Esq., 44, Chancery-lane, London, post or carriage free.

The Very Rev. the Dean of Salisbury.
John Shaw Lefevre, M.A.
Matthew Davenport Hill, Recorder of Birmingham.

The Author * of “ Reformatory Schools.” Each essay to have a motto affixed, and to be accompanied by a sealed letter containing the name and address of the Author; which letters are not to be opened until after the adjudication is made.

In case of difference of opinion amongst the adjudicators, reference will be made to the donor of the prize.

The donor substituted her own name for that of Mr. M. D. Hill's, on account of that gentleman's absence from England.

Twenty-eight writers competed for the prize, with essays which were, many of them, in different respects, of considerable value ; but four were plainly distinguishable from the rest, especially as more strictly answering to the tests by which they were to be tried—sound principles and practicable measures, as well as literary excellence and skilful development of the subject.

* Miss Mary Carpenter.

Of the four thus selected from the others for further consideration, the merits of the two best appeared to the adjudicators to be too nearly balanced to justify their awarding the prize exclusively to either, and in consequence of this difficulty of decision, the donor augmented the amount of the prize, and assigned 1501. to each of the successful competitors.

These two Essays occupy the volume now published.

It had been intended, with the kind permission of the writers, to append considerable extracts from the other two Essays which were distinguished from the mass; but that intention is abandoned, or, at least, deferred to some future occasion. They seemed likely to make the volume too bulky, and the necessity for publication before the Birmingham Conference would not admit of the delay required for selection.

December 2, 1853.

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