Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION VIII.: INSPECTION-GALLERIES AND LODGE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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SECTION VIII.: INSPECTION-GALLERIES AND LODGE. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 4.
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INSPECTION-GALLERIES AND LODGE.
In the three stories of the inspection-tower, annular inspection-galleries, low and narrow, surrounding in the lowermost story a circular inspection-lodge; instead of three stories of inspection-lodge, all circular, and in height filling up the whole space all the way up.*
Two desiderata had been aimed at in the contrivance of the inspector’s stations: 1. The unbounded faculty of seeing without being seen, and that as well while moving to and fro, as while sitting or standing still: 2. The capacity of receiving in the same place visitors who should be in the same predicament.
The second of these objects is not to be dispensed with. If the governor or sub-governor cannot, for the purposes of his business, receive company while he remains in this station, he must, as often as he receives them, quit not only the central part, but the whole circle altogether, leaving his place in the inspection part to be supplied by somebody on purpose. Hence, on the one hand, a relaxation of the inspective force: on the other, an increase in the expense of management.
Suppose it possible, as I conceive it will be found, for the inspector’s invisibility to be preserved, upon condition of giving up that of the visitors, would the former advantage be sufficient without the latter? Not absolutely: for confederates, as the discrimination could not well be made, might gain entrance in numbers at a time, and while one was occupying the attention of the inspector, others might by signs concert enterprises of mischief or escape with the prisoners in their cells. Such, at least, might be the apprehension entertained by some people—at least upon the face of this single supposition; though to one whose conception should have embraced the whole system of safeguard and defence, the danger would, I think, hardly appear formidable enough to warrant the incurring any expense, or sacrificing any advantage.
Upon the first crude conception, as stated in the Letters, my hope had been, that by the help of blinds and screens, the faculty of invisible inspection might have been enjoyed in perfection by the whole number of persons occupying the central part, wherever they were placed in it, and whether in motion or at rest. I am now assured, and I fear with truth, that these expectations were in some respects too sanguine. I mean, as to what concerns ideal and absolute perfection: at the same time that for real service, their completion, I trust, will not be found to have sustained any material abatement.
Were I to persist in endeavouring to give this property of invisibility with regard to the cells, as well to the person of the inspector as to every part of the large circle in which I place him, and to every object in it, his situation would stand exposed, I am assured, to this dilemma: if he has light enough to do any business, he will be seen, whatever I can do, from the cells: if there is not light enough there for him to be seen from the cells, there will not be light enough to enable him to do his business.
The difficulty would not be removed, even though the chapel part in the centre were thrown out, and the inspector’s apartment extended so as to swallow up that central part, and occupy the whole circle. My expedient of diametrical screens, or partitions crossing each other at right angles, would not answer the purpose:† if they extended all the way from the circumference to the centre, leaving no vacuity at that part, they would divide the whole circle into separate quadrants: a man could be in but one of these quadrants at a time, and while he was in that one he could see nothing of the cells corresponding to the others. Stationed exactly in the centre, he would see indeed, but he could at the same time be seen from, all the cells at once. No space can ever be so exactly closed as to exclude the light, by any living figure.
Supposing the apertures I had contrived in the screens instead of doors capable of answering the purpose, they would leave to the lodge so provided but little if any advantage over an annular gallery at the extremity of the circle, as contrived by Mr. Revely. The circuit might be performed nearer the centre; but still, to carry on the process of inspection, a circuit must be performed. Nor could it be performed in an exact circle: the smaller circle thus meant to be performed would be broken in upon and lengthened in four places by zigzags, which would retard a man’s progress more than an equal length of circle, and might, upon the whole, consume a portion of time little less than what would be requisite for performing the perambulation in Mr. Revely’s inspection-galleries.*
Add to this, that the darkness thus spread over the station of the inspector would not admit of any cure. A candle could not be made to illuminate any object he had occasion to see, without throwing out rays that would render him more or less visible, and his situation and occupation more or less apparent, from the cells. If a screen, concentric to the circumference of the room, were anywhere interposed, and light admitted within side of it by a sky-light or void space over the centre of the building, that would increase the length of the zigzag circuit to be performed through the diametrical screens still more: if there were no such concentric screens, the thorough light would be completely let in, rendering the inspector and every other object in the room completely visible from all the cells.
Happily, this union of incompatible conditions, however requisite to fill up the measure of ideal perfection, is far from being so with regard to practical use. In the narrow annular gallery, as contrived by Mr. Revely, the condition of invisibility may be preserved, I am assured, in full perfection. By being painted black in the inside, that station may be rendered, by the help of blinds, as I had proposed, completely dark, its narrowness rendering it impermeable to the thorough light.
To change his prospect, the inspector must, it is true, be obliged to shift his station. He must therefore from time to time patrol and go his round in the manner of a centinel or a watchman: and this must form a considerable part of his employment. It need not, however, occupy any thing near the whole.† Stationed at no more than 28 or 29 feet from the exterior windows, and close to the space illuminated by the ample sky-light over the annular well, he would have light enough to read or write by: and these employments, by the help of a portable stool and desk, he might carry on at times, at any part of the circle. Books may be kept, entries made, as well in a room of an annular figure, as in a round or square one.
Nor will the time employed in perambulation be thrown away, or expended upon the single purpose of keeping order among the prisoners. Had he, instead of this ring, had the whole circle to range in, he would have had frequent occasion thus to travel in the circumference, were it only to give occasional orders and instructions to the prisoners as they sit at work in their cells, as well as to let them in and out, in manner already mentioned.‡
One expedient there remains, by which, if it be worth while, the invisibility of the inspector may be preserved to him, without the obligation of ever stirring from his seat. This, however, is subject to two restrictions: one is, that whenever he quits a particular spot in the room, to pass to any other part of the same room, he must become visible: the other is, that his invisibility is not shared by any other person in the room. The expedient is to place the inspector in a kind of lantern, shaped somewhat like two short-necked funnels joined together at their necks.
Placed as before on a floor situated midway between the floor and the ceiling of the lowermost of the two stories he commands, his light comes to him from a spot elevated above the eye of a person standing in the uppermost of those stories; consequently, in all cases above the eye of any person dwelling in that upper story. Level with his eye, whether sitting or standing, the lantern narrows to such a degree as to enable him to carry his eye close to the circumference all round, without changing the spot he sits or stands on.
To give him his view, the lantern is pierced at both elevations with small holes, corresponding, as upon trial shall be found most convenient, each of them to one or two or some greater number of the cells. These holes are no larger than the aperture of a common spying-glass, and, like that, closed by a piece of glass, which if necessary might be coloured, or smoked, or darkened by a blind. Grant that after all they will not perfectly exclude the thorough light, nor prevent his figure from being to a certain degree visible from the cells: still, however, the part of his figure thus betrayed will be so small, that to the purpose of discovering to a prisoner in his cell whether the eye of the inspector is at that moment directed towards him or not, it will be the same thing as if he were invisible. That by diminishing the apertures to a certain degree, the effect might be compassed, is indubitable; for the lantern might be of the thinness of paper: in short, it might in that part be of paper, and then a pin-hole would be sufficient to give him a view. Any opaque object, to let down by a line and pulley on his going out, would prevent his absence from being discernible. The difference between a body of that magnitude constantly at rest, and one occasionally in motion, would be masked by the smallness of the apertures.
At the altitude reaching between the height of his eye when sitting, and the height of his eye when standing, the lantern could not be too narrow: it should be only just wide enough to admit his head and shoulders with ease. Above and below that height, the wider the better, for the sake of air and room, so as it did not swell out in such manner as to intercept his view.
The next question is, how to prevent the prisoners from seeing when it is he quits his station? His exit and return, if performed by a door in the side, would be visible from all, or almost all the cells—his lantern not serving him in the capacity of a screen on such occasions, to any degree worth mentioning. To prevent such discovery, his entrance must be, not at an ordinary door on the side, but at a trap-door, by a ladder from below. The lantern might, however, besides that, be furnished with a door at the side, to give him passage at times, when the concealment of his situation was no longer material, and when he saw occasion to show himself for any purpose to the inhabitants of any particular cell; for instance, to give a prisoner passage to or from his cell, for the purpose and in the manner already mentioned.
The central aperture, large as it is, would be no bar to the employing of this contrivance. The lantern, it is true, could not occupy this central part: it must be placed somewhere on one side of it, in some part of some surrounding ring. The inspector, therefore, while staioned in this lantern, would not have a view equally near of all his cells, but of all he would have some view, and that, one may venture to say, a sufficient one: the difference would only be the distance from the centre of the lantern to the centre of the building; say from ten to a dozen feet. The part, too, from which he was in this manner farthest removed, might be the dead-part, where there are no cells—a division which, upon the present plan, occupies five parts in twenty-four of the whole circuit.
Still, however, an apartment thus circumstanced would not serve perfectly well for visitors; for they, at any rate, would be visible to the prisoners: which, for the reasons already mentioned, it were better they should not be. Here, then, comes in one use of the inspector’s lodge, a room situated within the inspection-gallery, and encircled by it all round. Many other uses, and those very material, will be observed in it, when the constraction has been described: uses, to which, it will be equally manifest that a transparent room, fitted up with an inspection-lantern, would not be applicable with advantage.
The inspector’s lodge is a circular, or rather annular apartment, immediately underneath the chapel. The diameter I propose now to give it is 54 feet, including the aperture in the centre.*
The central aperture in this story is of the same diameter, as in the area of the chapel and the dome that crowns it, viz. 12 feet: it serves here to light the centre of the diametrical passage, of which, under the head of communications. This aperture is likewise of farther use in the way of safeguard; for which also see the head of communications.
As the central aperture in the floor of the lodge gives light to the passage in the story underneath, so does the correspondent aperture in the area of the chapel give light to the lodge.
Of these central apertures, that which is in the floor of the chapel takes nothing of the room from visitors. During chapel times it is closed: the state of darkness to which it thereby reduces the lodge is then of no consequence, since at those times nobody is there. So likewise, in a cold winter’s evening, when day-light gives place to candle-light, the faculty of closing this aperture will probably be found to have its convenience. Its height, at the circumference, is that of the inspection-gallery, about 7 feet; at the central aperture about 13½ feet;† within that aperture, about 61 feet, that being the depth below the sky-light by which the central apertures are crowned. The ceiling is consequently a sloping one; dropping, in the course of 18 feet, about 6½ feet, viz. from 13½ to 7.
All round the circuit, the dead-part excepted, runs a narrow zone of window, to open to the lodge an occasional view of the cells. Of these, the two lower stories may be seen through the lowermost inspection-gallery; the others without any intermedium.
The ways in which this view might be opened are more than one: the simplest is to put two rows of panes; one for giving a view of the two lowermost stories of cells, a little below the highest part of the upright partition: the other for the four remaining stories, in the chord subtending the angle made by the junction of that partition with the ceiling. To these may be adapted blinds of coarse white muslin or linen, pierced every inch or two with eyelet holes about the size of an ordinary silver spangle. By this means, matters may unquestionably be ordered in some way or other, so that no view at all shall be obtainable in the cells of any thing that passes in the lodge; at the same time that a person in the lodge may, by applying his eye close to any of the holes, obtain a perfectly distinct view of the corresponding cells.
By the central aperture, were that all, a moderately good light, it is supposed, would be afforded to the lodge: and this light cannot but receive some addition from the luminous zone thus given to the circumference.‡
To gain the height at which the business of inspection can in this manner be occasionally performed from the lodge, an ascent of about 1½ or 2 feet must be made: this may be done by a circular bench of about 2 feet wide, attached all round to the partition-wall. It may be distinguished by the name of the inspection-platform or inspection-bench.
By means of the lower part of this zone, the inspector of the gallery attached may himself be inspected by his superiors from the lodge: reciprocity will be prevented by the advantage in height given to the commanding station. He may also be relieved at any time; and whenever the windows of the gallery are thrown open for air, the lodge succeeds, in a manner of course, to its inspection-powers; the view brightening of itself at the time when a view particularly clear is more particularly wanted. So, likewise, when the inspector in the gallery is obliged to show himself at any particular spot; for instance, by opening the door of one of the cells, losing thereby his omnipresence for the time.∥
The lodge is the heart, which gives life and motion to this artificial body: hence issue all orders: here centre all reports.
The conversation-tubes, spoken of in the Letters, will on this occasion be recollected: here they will find employment in more shapes than one.
One set is for holding converse with the subordinate inspectors in the two superior galleries. A small tube of tin or copper* passes from the lodge, in a horizontal direction, to one of the supports of the lowermost inspection-gallery, running immediately underneath the roof, to which it is attached by rings. Here, bending to a right angle, it runs up along the support till it reaches that one of the two superior galleries for which it is designed: it there terminates in a mouth-piece level with the ear or mouth of a person sitting there. A similar mouth-piece is fitted to it at its commencement in the lodge.
A tube of this sort for each gallery may be attached to every one, or every other one, of the 19 gallery-supports, corresponding to the number of the cells.
The tubes belonging to the different stories should be attached together in pairs, with their respective mouth-pieces in the lodge contiguous, that a superior in that apartment may have it in his power to hold converse with the subordinates of the two different galleries at the same time, without being under the necessity of vibrating all the while from place to place.
Whether the voice alone will be sufficient, or whether a bell with be necessary, to summon a subordinate inspector from the most distant part of his gallery to the station corresponding to that chosen by the superior in the lodge, may perhaps not be capable of being decided to a certainty without experiment. If a bell be necessary, it may be convenient to have one for every tube; and the wire, by running in the tube as in a sheath, will be preserved from accidents.†
The other set of conversation-tubes is to enable an inspector in the lodge to hold converse in his own person, whenever he thinks proper, with a prisoner in any of the cells. Fixed tubes, crossing the annular well, and continued to so great a length, being plainly out of the question, the tubes for this purpose can be no other than the short ones in common use under the name of speaking-trumpets. To an inspector stationed in the lodge, it is not indeed in every part of every cell that a prisoner with whom he may have occasion to hold converse will be already visible. But to render him so, there needs but an order summoning him to the grating; which order may be delivered to him through the local subordinate, from the inspection-gallery belonging to that story of cells.
Here may be observed the first opening of that scene of clock-work regularity, which it would be so easy to establish in so compact a microcosm. Certainty, promptitude, and uniformity, are qualities that may here be displayed in the extreme. Action scarcely follows thought, quicker than execution might here be made to follow upon command.
Turn now to the good Howard’s Penitentiary-town, and conceive a dozen task-masters and turnkeys running on every occasion from one corner of it to the other and back again (little less than ¼ of a mile) to receive some order from the governor, the prisoners their own masters all the while.
Hither come the customers to such prisoners as exercise their original trades; at stated times to bring materials and take back work, and at most times to give orders. By the conversation-tubes, converse for this as well as every other permitted purpose, is circulated instantaneously, with the utmost facility, to the greatest distance. Even the intervention of the local inspector is not necessary: a call from a speaking-trumpet brings the remotest prisoner to the front of his cell, where he may be seen by the customer, as well as heard. Under each speaking-trumpet hangs a list of the prisoners to whose cells it corresponds. The names are on separate cards, which are shifted as often as a prisoner happens to be shifted from cell to cell. As to the two lowest stories of cells, converse with them may be carried on directly from the corresponding inspection-gallery.
The lodge may serve as a common room for all the officers of the house. Of its division into male and female sides, I speak elsewhere. On the male side, the sub-governor, the chaplain, the surgeon, and perhaps another officer, such as the head schoolmaster, may have each his separate apartment, divided, however, from the rest no otherwise than by a moveable screen, not reaching to the ceiling, and leaving free passage as well round the central aperture as round the inspection-platform attached to the surrounding wall.
In this same apartment, the officers, male and female, may take their meals in common. Room is not wanting. Why not, as well as fellows in a college? This surely would not be the least active nor least useful of all colleges. Too much of their time cannot be spent in this central station, when not wanted on immediate duty. No expedient that can help to bring them hither, or keep them here, ought to be neglected. The legitimate authority of the governor and sub-governor will here receive assistance, their arbitrary power restraint, from the presence of their associates in office. A governor, a sub-governor, will blush, if not fear, to issue any tyrannical order in presence of so many disapproving witnesses; whose opinion, tacit or expressed, will be a bridle upon his management, though without power to oppose and disturb it. Monarchy, with publicity and responsibility for its only checks: such is the best, or rather the only tolerable form of government for such an empire.
In Mr. Howard’s Penitentiary-town, each officer has his house—all separate, and all out of sight and hearing of the prisoners. This latter arrangement may be the more agreeable one of the two to the servant; but which is the best adapted to the service?
The want of side windows, as in other rooms, will render it eligible at least, if not necessary, to make a provision of air-holes for the purpose of ventilation.
The supports to the surrounding gallery, as shown in the engraved plan, might, if made hollow, answer this intention, and save the making an apparatus of tubes on purpose. In this case, however, each support would require a horizontal tube inserted into it at right angles, which might run close and parallel to the conversation-tubes, immediately under the ceiling.
It is at the level of the ceiling that these air-tubes should discharge themselves into the lodge, and not at the level of the floor. In the latter case, they could not answer this intention without a continual blast, which in cold weather would be very troublesome. In the other way, the blast beginning above the level of the head, is directed upwards, and gives no annoyance. Health is not bought at the expense of comfort.
In giving the slope to the ceiling in manner above mentioned, I had two conveniences in view: ventilation and stowage. To ventilation, which is the principal object, a rectilinear slope in this case is more favourable, not only than a horizontal ceiling, but even than a coved ceiling or dome. Both would have left a space untraversed by the current: in the one case, the space would have been angular; in the other, there would still have remained some space for stagnant air, though lessened by the abrasion of the angle.
The reduction of the height of the ceiling at this part leaves a quantity of room, of which some use may be made in the way of stowage. From the area of the chapel, the floor must, as well as the ceiling below, have a certain degree of slope to afford the second story of cells a view of the minister. But the declivity in the ceiling begins, not under the circumference of that area, but much nearer the centre, viz. at the central aperture. Hence, after necessary allowance for thickness of floor and ceiling, there will remain a void space of considerable extent all round, the exact dimensions of which it is needless to particularise. Disposing the slope here and there in regular and gentle flights of steps, for the purpose of communication, in other places the thickness of 2 or 3 or 4 steps may be laid together, to receive drawers or presses.
A place still more convenient in proportion to the extent of it in the way of stowage, will be the space immediately underneath the inspector’s platform in the lodge. It will serve for presses or drawers opening into the surrounding gallery.
A more considerable space runs from behind the two superior galleries, under the steps of the chapel-galleries to which they are respectively attached. Tools and materials of work, of which the bulk is not very considerable, will find very convenient receptacles in these several places, where they will be in readiness to be delivered out and received back, by being handed over the annular well, to the prisoners in their cells.
As to the mode of warming the lodge, it will be considered in the section so entitled.*
[* ]It is to the ingenuity of Mr. Revely that I am indebted for this very capital improvement, which I did not submit to without reluctance. It occurred to him in contriving the construction of the chapel, in the room of some crude ideas of my own, a detailed description of which would take up more room than it would be worth. The floors of the present inspector’s galleries were to have been continued inwards as far as what constitutes now the area of the chapel. The governor and his subordinates were to have lived in them on week days, and on Sundays these floors were to have answered the purpose of galleries to the chapel. All the way up from floor to floor there were to have been windows, which were to have been got rid of somehow or other during the time of divine service.
[† ]See Letter II.
[* ]The truth is, what one would hardly have supposed, that for performing this perambulation, a walk of about 46 feet and back again in a straight line, is pretty well sufficient. Station the inspector anywhere with his eye contiguous to the outer circumference of his ring, he can, without quitting the spot he stands or sits on, command a view of seven cells on each side. In the same ring, 46 feet may be described in walking without deviating from the right line: and 46 feet is the length of the chord subtending the space occupied in the circumference by 5 cells. A walk, then, in a line equal and opposite to the chord subtending the part of the gallery that corresponds to the dead-part, will give an inspector in his gallery a view of the whole circuit. If, as in case of the admission of female prisoners, the circuit be divided in any story between a male and female inspector, the part allotted to each may, it is evident, be commanded without any change of place. The views thus obtained are not, it must be confessed, complete ones: more or less of every cell but two being all along intercepted by the partition-walls. But it is chance only, and not design, that can withdraw a prisoner in any part of the circuit out of the inspector’s view: never knowing in what part of the gallery the inspector is at the time, no one part of any cell can promise him any better chance of concealment than another.
[† ]The greatest distance from one part of his range to the other would be 93 feet, being half the length of the circumference of the circle at that part.
[‡ ]See Sect. 3, Annular Well, and Part II. Sect. Airing.
[* ]In some of the impressions of the draught it appears but 42 feet: difference 12 feet. But of this, six feet is taken away from this part by an error in the draught, as already mentioned: the other six feet, by the three feet added to the depth of the inspection-gallery in this story—an addition which I have determined to take away: it has no specific use; and it would throw the lodge so far back as to be precluded by the bottom of the middlemost inspection-gallery from the possibility of having any view at all of the uppermost story of cells.
[† ]The draught does not give quite so much. The higher the better, so long as it does not raise the floor of the chapel so much as that the heads of the chapel visitors, when standing, shall conceal the minister from the prisoners when kneeling in the second story of cells.
[‡ ]The Pantheon at Rome, which is more than twice the height of the space between the floor of the lodge and the opening sky-light over the aperture, is lighted, and, according to Mr. Revely’s observation, very well lighted, by an aperture of about twice the diameter of the one here proposed.
[∥ ]In a Panopticon which had eight stories of cells, it might perhaps be not amiss to make the experiment of the lantern. It might be performed on a floor between the lodge and the chapel; the ladder or small staircase to it, like that of a pulpit, ascending through the ceiling of the lodge. It might be tried at a small expense: and in case of its not answering, it would be easy to give to this story the form of the other. Possibly, in different ways, both arrangements might have their use.
[* ]About the size of a pea shooter, a plaything used by children for blowing peas, will probably be sufficient.
[† ]The power possessed by metallic tubes of conveying the slightest whispers to an almost indefinite distance, can be no secret to such readers as have seen any of the exhibitions of speaking figures, whose properties depend upon this principle.
[* ]How to reconcile the use of the lodge as a dining-room with the purity of air necessary to the reception of company in the chapel? By making the Saturday’s dinner the last meal, dedicating to ventilation the whole interval between that period and the commencement of divine service in the ensuing day.