the abolition of the Poor-Laws will begin to appear. [E. R. 1821.]


PRISON discipline is an object of considerable importance; but the common rights of mankind, and the common principles of justice, and humanity, and liberty, are of greater consequence even than prison discipline. Right and wrong, innocence and guilt, must not be confounded, that a prison-fancying Justice may bring his friend into the prison and say, "Look what a spectacle of order, silence, and decorum we have established! here no idleness, all grinding!-we produce a penny roll every second, our prison is supposed to be the best regulated prison in England, -Cubitt is making us a new wheel of forty-felon power,-look how white the flour is, all done by untried prisoners-as innocent as lambs!"-[E. R. 1824.]


Because punishment does not annihilate crime, it is folly to say it does not lessen it. It did not stop the murder of Mrs. Donatty; but how many Mrs. Donattys has it kept alive!-[E. R. 1824.]


THE labour of the tread-mill is irksome, dull, monotonous, and disgusting to the last degree. A man does not see his work, does not know what he is doing, what progress he is making; there is no room for art, con



trivance, ingenuity, and superior skill-all which are the cheering circumstances of human labour. The husbandman sees the field gradually subdued by the plough; the smith beats the rude mass of iron by degrees into its meditated shape, and gives it a meditated utility; the tailor accommodates his parallelogram of cloth to the lumps and bumps of the human body, and, holding it up, exclaims, "This will contain the lower moiety of a human being." But the treader does nothing but tread; he sees no change of objects, admires no new relation of parts, imparts no new qualities to matter, and gives to it no new arrangements and positions; or, if he does, he sees and knows it not, but is turned at once from a rational being, by a justice of peace, into a primum mobile, and put upon a level with a rush of water or a puff of steam. It is impossible to get gentlemen to attend to the distinction between raw and roasted prisoners, without which all discussion on prisoners is perfectly ridiculous.-[E. R. 1824.]


Ir is said, that labour may be a privilege as well as a punishment. So may taking physic be a privilege, in cases where it is asked for as a charitable relief, but not if it is stuffed down a man's throat whether he say yea or nay.[E. R. 1824.]


You take up a poor man upon suspicion, deprive him of all his usual methods of getting his livelihood, and then giving him the first view of the tread-mill, he of the



Quorum thus addresses him:- "My amiable friend, we use no compulsion with untried prisoners. You are free as air till you are found guilty; only it is my duty to inform you, as you have no money of your own, that the disposition to eat and drink which you have allowed you sometimes feel, and upon which I do not mean to cast any degree of censure, cannot possibly be gratified but by constant grinding in this machine. It has its inconveniences, I admit; but balance them against the total want of meat and drink, and decide for yourself. You are perfectly at liberty to make your choice, and I by no means wish to influence your judgment."-[E. R. 1824.]


If there are, according to the doctrines of the millers, to be two punishments, the first for being suspected of committing the offence, and the second for committing it, there should be two trials as well as two punishments. Is the man really suspected, or do his accusers only pretend to suspect him? Are the suspecting of better character than the suspected? Is it a light suspicion which may be atoned for by grinding a peck a day? Is it a bushel case? or is it one deeply criminal, which requires the flour to be ground fine enough for French rolls?

Such reasoning is doubly important, when it comes from an author, the leader of the Quorum, who may say with the pious Æneas,


-[E. R. 1824.7

Quæque ipse miserrima vidi, quorum pars magna fui.



To compel prisoners before trial to work at the treadmill, as the condition of their support, must, in a great number of instances, operate as a very severe punishment. Is it no punishment to such man to walk up hill like a turnspit dog, in an infamous machine, for six months? and yet there are gentlemen who suppose that the common people do not consider this as punishment! —that the gayest and most joyous of human beings is a treader, untried by a jury of his countrymen, in the fifth month of lifting up the leg, and striving against the law of gravity, supported by the glorious information which he receives from the turnkey, that he has all the time been grinding flour on the other side of the wall. [E. R. 1824.]



PUNISHMENTS are not merely to be estimated by pain. to the limbs, but by the feelings of the mind.—[E. R. 1824.7


A MOST absurd argument was advanced in the honourable House, that the practice of employing counsel would be such an expense to the prisoner!—just as if any thing was so expensive as being hanged! What a fine topic for the ordinary! "You are going" (says that exquisite divine) "to be hanged to-morrow, it is true, but consider what a sum you have saved! Mr. Scarlett or Mr. Brougham might certainly have presented arguments to



the jury, which would have insured your acquittal; but do you forget that gentlemen of their eminence must be recompensed by large fees, and that if your life had been saved, you would actually have been out of pocket above 201.? You will now die with the consciousness of having obeyed the dictates of a wise economy; and with a grateful reverence for the laws of your country, which prevents you from running into such unbounded expense-so let us now go to prayers."-[E. R. 1826.]


It is a most affecting moment in a court of justice, when the evidence has all been heard, and the Judge asks the prisoner what he has to say in his defence. The prisoner, who has (by great exertions, perhaps, of his friends) saved up money enough to procure counsel, says to the Judge, "that he leaves his defence to his counsel." We have often blushed for English humanity to hear the reply. "Your counsel cannot speak for you, you must speak for yourself;" and this is the reply given to a poor girl of eighteen-to a foreigner-to a deaf man-to a stammerer-to the sick-to the feeble-to the old-to the most abject and ignorant of human beings! It is a reply, we must say, at which common sense and common feeling revolt:-for it is full of brutal cruelty, and of base inattention of those who make laws, to the happiness of those for whom laws were made. We wonder that any juryman can convict under such a shocking violation of all natural justice. The iron age of Clovis and Clottaire can produce no more atrocious violation of every good feeling and every good principle. Can a sick man find strength and nerves to speak before a large assembly?

« ElőzőTovább »