Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION II.: MANAGEMENT—IN WHAT HANDS, AND ON WHAT TERMS. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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SECTION II.: MANAGEMENT—IN WHAT HANDS, AND ON WHAT TERMS. - 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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MANAGEMENT—IN WHAT HANDS, AND ON WHAT TERMS.
Economy, it has been already shown, should be the ruling object. But in economy, every thing depends upon the hands and upon the terms. In what hands, then? upon what terms? These are the two grand points to be adjusted, and that before any thing is said about regulations. Why? Because, as far as economy is concerned, upon those points depends, as we shall see, the demand for regulations. Adopt the contract-plan—regulations in this view are a nuisance: be there ever so few of them, there will be too many. Reject it—be there ever so many of them, they will be too few.
Contract-management, or trust-management? If trust-management, management by an individual or by a board? Under these divisions, every possible distinct species of management may be included. You can have nothing different from them, unless by mixing them. In an economical concern like this, contract-management, say I—Board-management, says the act: which says right? I. Who says so? The act itself. A principle is laid down; I adopt it: regulations are made; they violate it. What is the consequence? Error upon error, as well as inconsistency: error in preferring trust-management to contract-management; error in preferring board-management to trust-management in single hands: error in opposite shapes, both embraced at the same time. Trust-management appointed where nothing but contract-management was tolerable: contract-management preferred in the instance where, if in any, trust-management might have been harmless and of use.
By whom, then, shall we say, ought a business like this to be carried on?—by one who has an interest in the success of it, or by one who has none?—by one who has a greater interest in it, or by one who has an interest not so great?—by one who takes loss as well as profit, or by one who takes profit without loss?—by one who has no profit but in proportion as he manages well, or by one who, let him manage ever so well or ever so ill, shall have the same emolument secured to him? These seem to be the proper questions for our guides: where shall we find the answers? In the questions themselves, and in the act.
To join interest with duty, and that by the strongest cement that can be found, is the object to which they point. To join interest with duty, is the object avowed to be aimed at by the act. The emolument of the governor is to be proportioned in a certain way to the success of the management. Why? that it may be “his interest” to make a successful business of it, “as well as his duty.”‡ How, then, is it made his interest? Is he to take loss as well as profit? No; profit only. Is he to have the whole profit? No, nor that neither; but a part only, and that as small a part as gentlemen shall please. Well—but he is to receive none, however, if he makes none? Oh yes; as much profit, and that as secure an one as gentlemen may think fit to make it. He may have ever so large a share of any profit he makes, or ever so small a share; and whether he makes any or none, he may have a salary, all the same. Let him get as much as he will, or get as little as he will, or lose as much as he will, or waste as much as he will, he is to have a salary for it, and in all these cases the same salary, if they please. All this in the same section and the same sentence which lays down the junction of interest with duty as a fundamental principle.
And whom does the management depend upon, after all? Upon this governor?—upon the man in whose breast this important junction is to be formed? Oh no: upon a quite different set of people: upon a committee. And who are this committee? A set of trustees, three in number, who would be turned out with infamy, if they were found to have the smallest particle of what is here meant by interest in the whole concern. They are the persons to manage, they are the persons to contrive, they are the persons to work: the governor, with his magnificent title, is to be their tool to work with. Upon them everything is to depend; upon his excellency nothing: he is their journeyman; they are to put him in, they are to turn him out, and turn him out when they please. Three “gentlemen, or other creditable and substantial persons,”* who are to come now and then, once in a fortnight or so,† as it suits them—sometimes one, sometimes another, when they have nothing else to do—these are the people who are to govern: the person who is to be nailed to the business, and to think of nothing else, the person upon whose shoulders the whole charge of it is to lie—the governor a non gubernando, ut lucus a non lucendo, is to be a puppet in their hands. As to their doing their duty, how that is to be brought about, seems not to have been much thought of. He, however, is to do his: that he may be sure to do it, it is to be made his interest; that it may be his interest, he is to have a motive given him for doing it, and that motive is to be a “profit” he is to have “upon the work.” This profit—what is it, then, to depend upon? Upon his exertions? No: it is to be fixed by the committee; and whether, when fixed, it shall amount to anything, is to depend upon their management, upon their wisdom, their diligence, and their good pleasure.
Power and inclination beget action: unite them—the end is accomplished, the business done. To effect this union in each instance, is the great art and the great study of government. How stand they here? Instead of their being brought together, they are kept at arm’s length. Power is lodged in one place, inclination in another: as to their ever coming together, if they do, they must find the way to one another as they can. The committee, with the inducements given to the governor, might have done tolerably: the governor, with the power given to the committee, better still. Which of these plans is pursued? Neither. The governor, thanks to the pains that have been thus taken with him, has all the inclination in the world to make good management of it; but as to the power, it is none of his. The committee have power in plenty: but as to inducements to give them inclination, they have none. At least, if they have any, it is not for anything the act has done to give it them: if they have any, it is to bountiful nature they are indebted for it, and to themselves. Taking such opposite courses, can the act be right in both? I don’t see how. If it is not redundant in the one instance, it is deficient in the other. Sir Kenelm Digby invented a sympathetic powder: applied to one body, it was to cure wounds in another. The prescription here proceeds upon the same principle. Money is put into the hand of the servant, called a governor; and the reward thus applied is to operate upon the affections, and determine the conduct, of the masters—the committee. Under such a constitution, upon what does the chance it leaves for good economy depend? Upon the governor’s writing orders for himself, and their signing them: upon their being pensioned by him, or acting as if they were.
When I spoke of their having the power, all I meant was, that what power is given, such as it is, is in their hands. But it is a power big with impotence. What is to be the number of this committee? Three, and three only. What if one of them should be ill, or indolent, or out of the way, or out of humour, and the two others should not agree? What is to be done then? Nothing. What then is to become of the establishment? It is to go to ruin. The prisoners are to sit with their hands before them and starve; for not a handful of hemp, no, nor a morsel of bread, can the governor buy or agree for, without the committee.‡ “Oh, but any two may act,” says the statute, “without the other.” Yes, that they may: and how is it to be done? The two who, by the supposition, cannot agree, are to agree which of them shall be chairman, in order that there may be one of them who shall have everything his own way.∥ For such is the constitution of this committee: an assembly of two, one of them with a casting voice.
If two heads, while they remain two heads, cannot govern the smallest household, what will they do in so large a one? If division begets confusion in a family of three, what must it do in a family of thrice three hundred?
The complication was not yet thick enough. Clouds are heaped upon clouds—all to give shade and perfection to economy. I shall not, however, spend many words upon the orders and regulations that were to be made, all for the benefit of this infant plant, by a legislature composed of three estates: the governing committee, the justices of the peace in quarter-sessions, and the judges of assize, or, if in Middlesex, of the King’s Bench: of whom the judges of assize were to listen to plans of household and mercantile management with one ear, while they were trying causes with the other, in a country through which they were riding post.—“Oh no, no:—it’s your mistake: it was not to meddle with economy that the judges were called in—it was to check cruelty, to prevent negligence, to restrain mischievous indulgence, to enforce good morals.” I do not mistake. It was for economy, and for nothing else. Had the hulks committees to regulate for them, or justices of the peace to check the committees, or judges to check the justices? Were the hulks more exempt from danger of cruelty, or negligence, or partiality, or corrupt indulgence, or bad morals? No: but on board the hulks there was no economy to nurse; so that courts of quarter-sessions, and judges of assize, and courts of King’s Bench, would there have been of no use.
“But are not there establishments of a similar nature, actually governed by multitudes?” Yes, plenty: but why? because the multitudes, though such in show, are, in effect, reduced to one. So far as the multiplicity has its effect, it does mischief, and mischief it continually is doing: so far as it has no effect, it does none. The colleagues jostle and jostle, till they find out which of them is the strongest; the business goes on, when, like the serpent rods, one of them has swallowed up the rest. Sometimes, if the power be large enough to cut into shares, the battle ends by compromise: what was given in coparcenary, is used in severalty; and as nature will sometimes repair the errors of the physician, compact furnishes a palliative for the weakness of the law.
From such a constitution, what could have been expected? What has happened. A committee is appointed, and the first and only thing they do is to quarrel. The act for building the house passed in 1779: we are now in 1791, and still there is no house. They quarrelled before the first stone was laid, and before it was agreed where it should be laid: they quarrelled about that very question. But there could not have been a stone laid but what would have been just as capable of raising a quarrel as the first—no, nor a barrel of flour been to be bought, nor a bundle of hemp, nor a petticoat, nor a pair of breeches. The constitution being such as it was, the happiness was, that it showed itself so soon. Better the project should stop as it did, as soon as the ground was bought, than after £120,000 had been spent in covering it, and perhaps as much more in stocking it. “Oh, but it was by accident that it stopped.” No; it was not by accident—it was by the nature of things; you have seen it was: it would have been by accident if it had gone on.
And does not management of all kinds go on, and go on very well, in partnership? To be sure it does: why? because common interest either keeps men together, or separates them in time. Agreeing, they cast their parts and divide the business between them as they find convenient: disagreeing, they can part at any time. Necessity compels the separation: ruin is the penalty of refusal.—How is it with a set of uninterested board-managers like the committee? Going, they lose everything: staying, they lose nothing—whatever comes of the trust.
Economy has two grand enemies: peculation and negligence. Trust-management leaves the door open to both: contract-management shuts it against both. Negligence it renders peculiarly improbable: peculation, impossible.
To peculate is to obtain, to the prejudice of the trust, a profit which it is not intended a man should have. But upon the contract plan, the intention, and the declared intention is, that the contractor shall have every profit that can be made.* Does the trust lose anything by this concession? No; for it makes him pay for it before-hand. Does he pay nothing, or not enough? The fault lies, not in the contract plan in general, but in the terms of the particular contract that happens to be made: not in the principle, but in the application.
As to negligence, to state the question is to decide it. Of whose affairs is a man least apt and least likely to be negligent? another’s, or his own?
Economy being put under the guardianship of contract-management, what more is it in the power of man to do for it? It has the joint support of the principles of reward and punishment, both acting with their utmost force, and both acting of themselves, without waiting for the slow and unsteady hand of law. What the manager gains, stays with him in the shape of reward: whatever is lost, falls upon him in the shape of punishment. In this way, public economy has at least all the support and security that private can ever have.
It has more: it has a support peculiar to itself—publicity; and that in every shape: at least it may have, and, as we have seen already, ought to have.* To publish his management, a man must attend to it; and the more particular he is obliged to be in his publication, the more particularly he must attend to it. What safeguard is there in private management, that can compare to this? It is not in human nature to go on for a length of time in a course of notorious mismanagement and loss. A man could not help seeing it of himself; and if he could, the public would not let him: he must mend his management, or quit the scene. False accounts he could not publish: what hope could he have of keeping the falsehood from discovery? The attempt to conceal mismanagement in this way would cost more trouble than to avoid it. To enable the public to look at his accounts, a man must look at them himself. No man travels quietly on in the road to ruin with the picture of it before his eyes. When a man fails through indolence or negligence, it is because he keeps no accounts, or has not the heart to look at them. There is little danger that a man chosen for such a situation should publish accounts that were imperfect or confused—it would be a confession of incapacity or fraud: if there were, a form might be prescribed to him, and a form exhibited by the first contractor, and approved of by the public, would be as a law to his successors. They might make it more instructive: they would not dare to make it less so.
Economy, I have said, should be the leading object; and it is principally because the contract plan is the most favourable to economy, that it is so much superior to every other plan for this kind of prison management. But turn the subject all round—view it in what lights you will, you will not find any on which the contract plan is not at least upon a par with trust-management, even in its least exceptionable form. Economy out of the question, turn to the other ends which a system of prison-management ought to have in view. In which of all those instances is a contracting manager more in danger of failing than an uninterested one? Turn to the two other rules that have been put in a line with that of economy, and in the infringement of which, in some way or other, every species of mismanagement in such a situation may be comprised: which of them is a contractor, with the guards upon him that we have seen, more likely to infringe, than a manager who has no pecuniary interest at stake? In every one of these points, we shall find the probity of the uninterested trustee exposed to seductions from which that of the contractor is free: that of the latter armed with securities with which that of the former, if provided, is not provided in the same degree. What I allude to is popular jealousy; but of that a little farther on. Turn to the motives which a man in this situation can find for paying attention to his duty. In the instance of the uninterested manager, what can they be?—love of power, love of novelty, love of reputation, public spirit, benevolence. But what is there of all this, that may not just as well have fallen to the contractor’s share? Does the accession of a new motive destroy all those that act on the same side? Love of power may be a sleepy affection; regard to pecuniary interest is more or less awake in every man. Public spirit is but too apt to cool; love of novelty is sure to cool: attention to pecuniary interest grows but the warmer with age.
Among unfit things, there are degrees of unfitness. As trust-management is, in every form it can put on, ineligible in comparison of contract-management, so, among different modifications of trust-management, is board-management in comparison of management in single hands. When I speak of single-handed management as the better of the two, I mean it in this sense only, that, by proper securities, it may be made better than the other is capable of being made by any means. Pecuniary security against embezzlement—publicity in all its shapes, against speculation and negligence: in board-management, danger of dissension, want of unity of plan, slowness and unsteadiness in execution, are inbred diseases, which do not admit of cure.
When single management has given cause for complaints, it has been only on account of some accidental concomitant, or for want of those effectual checks of which it is in every instance susceptible.
A manager has in his hands large sums of public money more than are necessary for the service. Is this the fault of single management? No; but of the negligence of the law, which leaves so much public money in private hands. A manager holding public money in a quantity not more than sufficient, embezzles it. Is this the fault of single management? No; but of those who let him have it without account, or without security.
Can these guards, or any guards, ever put uninterested management even in single hands upon a par with interested? Never, till human nature is new made. They will prevent peculation; they will prevent gross negligence; they may prevent all such negligence as is susceptible of detection: will they screw up diligence and ingenuity to their highest pitch? Never, while man is man. A man himself can never know what he could get, unless the profit is his own. What a man has got and pocketed, or thrown away, you may punish him for: can you punish him for the extra profit which, for want of a peculiar measure of industry and ingenuity, such as the genial influence of reward could alone have inspired him with, he failed of getting? Good and bad are terms of comparison. Be your management ever so thrifty, or ever so productive, you can never know which epithet it deserves, till you have seen it in interested hands. Till then, you have no standard to compare it to. Good in comparison of what it has been, it may be bad in comparison of what it might be.
The advantages of the contract mode over both the others are not yet at an end. Along with uninterested management goes a salary. This is at least a natural arrangement, and, under the prevailing habits and modes of thinking, the only probable one. This salary is so much thrown away. “And will not a contractor equally require payment?” Doubtless: but where will he look for it? To the fruits of his own industry, not of other men’s. The difference in point of productiveness between management with, and management without interest, is the fund he draws upon for his salary—and there needs no other.
I said thrown away; but it is worse than thrown away: it is so much thrown into the treasury of corruption, otherwise called the stock of influence. Whether, in the British constitution, the quantity of that stock requires diminishing, has been matter of debate: that it is in any need of increase, seems never to have been so much as insinuated.
In this respect, if trust-management in single hands is bad, board-management is worse. It is worse in proportion to the number of the members. Though the salary, and consequently the waste, should be no greater in this case than the other, the influence, and consequently the means of corruption, is abundantly so. One man with three hundred a-year is but one placeman: a board of three, with three hundred a-year amongst them, makes three placemen—each with a train of contingent remainder-men at his heels, all equally upon their knees to influence. In political corruption as in physical, to every mass of substantial putridity you have an indefinite sphere of equally putrid vapour. “And do not contracts make influence, as well as places?” Not if made as they ought to be, and might be. The contractor’s dependence is on the advantageousness of his offer; the placeman’s on the interest he can make with the distributors of good things.
Salary, according to the usual meaning of the word, that is, pay given by the year, and not by the day of attendance, so far from strengthening the connexion between interest and duty, weakens it; and the larger, the more it weakens it. That which a salary really gives a man motives for doing, is the taking upon him the office: that which it does not give him any sort of motive for, is the diligent performance of its duties.
It gives him motives, if one may say so, for the non-performance of them; and those the stronger, the more there is of it. It gives him pleasurable occupations, to which those laborious ones are sacrificed: it sets him above his business: it puts him in the way of dissipation, and furnishes him with the means. Make it large enough, the first thing he does is to look out for a deputy; and then it is what the principal gives the deputy, not what you give the principal, that causes the business in any way to be done.
In the instance of the contracting manager, the greater the success of the management, the stronger the motive he has to do his utmost to increase it. In this instance, the emolument is in reality a reward: in that of the placeman, only in name. In the latter case, the service with which the emolument is connected is, not the successful performance of the business, but the mere act of undertaking it.
This is not all. Salary, in proportion to its magnitude, not only tends to make a man who happens to be fit for his business less and less fit, but it tends to give you in the first instance an unfit man, rather than a fit one. The higher it is, the nearer it brings the office within the appetite and the grasp of the hunters after sinecures—those spoilt children of fortune, the pages of the minister and of every minister, who, for having been born rich, claim to be made richer—whose merit is in their wealth, while their title is in their necessities—and whose pride is as much above business, as their abilities are below it.
If you could get a manager for nothing, though he will serve you less badly than if he had a salary, he will not serve you so well as a contractor. What he gains or saves may be an amusement, but what he loses or fails to gain will be no loss to him. From his desiring the situation without salary, what is certain is, that he loves the power: what is not certain is, that he loves the business. Should the work at any time be too heavy for him, he can shift it off upon anybody, the power remaining where it was. From his liking the business while it is a new thing, it does not follow that he will continue to like it when the novelty of it is worn away. From his retaining the situation when he has got it, it does not follow that he likes the business of it, or that he likes any business; for the giving it up would require an effort, and the retaining it requires none. The chance of extraordinary profit (I mean with reference to trust-management, for with reference to common mercantile management it is but ordinary) is upon the same inferior footing as before; and so is the security against positive loss, whether resulting from negligence or peculation. In the nature of things is it possible that a man who has no interest in the business should be as much attached to it, as zealous to make it succeed, as one whose all depends upon it?
The unpaid, as well as uninterested manager, stands behind all others on another account. The more confidence a man is likely to meet with, the less he is likely to deserve. Jealousy is the life and soul of government. Transparency of management is certainly an immense security; but even transparency is of no avail without eyes to look at it. Other things equal, that sort of man whose conduct is likely to be the most narrowly watched, is therefore the properest man to choose. The contractor is thus circumstanced in almost every line of management: he is so more particularly in the present. Every contractor is a child of Mammon: a contracting manager of the poor is a blood-sucker, a vampire; a contracting jailor, a contracting manager of the imprisoned and friendless poor, against whom justice has shut the door of sympathy, must be the cruellest of vampires. The unpaid, as well as uninterested manager, is, of all sorts of managers, the most opposite to him who is the object of this distinguished jealousy: he expects and receives confidence proportionable; though on several accounts not entitled, as we have seen, to so much, he enjoys more. A man who, in a station so uninviting, has the generosity to serve for nothing, while others who occupy the most flattering situations are so well paid for it, will assume to himself accordingly, and make in other respects his own terms. Unless the honour of serving the public gratis were generally put up to auction, a plan never yet proposed, nor the more likely to be adopted for being proposed, this must always be the case. Standing upon the vantage ground of disinterestedness, he looks down accordingly upon the public, and holds with it this dialogue:—Gentleman Manager—“I am a gentleman: I do your business for nothing: you are obliged to me.” Public—“So we are.” Gentleman Manager—“Do you mind me?—I am to get nothing by this:—I despise money:—I have a right to confidence.” Public—“So you have.” Gentleman Manager—“Very well, then;—Leave me to myself—Never you mind me—I’ll manage every thing as it should be—I don’t want looking after: don’t you put yourselves to the trouble.” Public—“No more we will.” What is the fruit of all this good understanding? Frequently negligence: not unfrequently peculation.* Peculation, where it happens, is not liked: but of what is lost by negligence, no account is taken. So good are the public, and in theory so fond of virtue, they had rather see five hundred pounds wasted at their expense, than five shillings gained.
Between the public and the candidate for a management-contract, there passes, or at least might be made to pass, a very different conversation:—
Public—“You are a Jew.”
Contractor—“I confess it.”
Public—“You require watching.”
Public—“We must have all fair and above board. You must do nothing that we don’t see.”
Contractor—“You shall see every thing: you shall have it in the newspapers.”
Public—“Contractors are thieves.—Sir, you must be examined.”
Contractor—“Examine me as often as is agreeable to you, gentlemen—any of you, or all of you. I’ll go before any court you please. Thieves stand upon the law, and refuse answering when it would show you what they are. I refuse nothing. I stand upon nothing, gentlemen, but my own honesty, and your favour. If you catch me doing the least thing whatever that should not be, let my Lord Judge say go, and out I go that instant.”
Choosing board-management, the penitentiary act, to do it justice, was as moderate under the articles of salary and influence as it well could be. Seven persons only can be found with useless salaries:* the two nominal governors, the three who compose the governing committee, their clerk, and the inspector, in as far as his office regards the penitentiary-house. The governor’s and committee clerk’s salary was to be settled by the committee: the committee, though appointed according to custom by the crown, were to have their salaries settled by another authority, the justices of the peace in sessions. The inspector, an officer to be appointed by the crown, is the only one of them whose salary is fixed by the act—£200 a-year, a salary moderate enough, if it had been of any use. Even the board, thus confined to the smallest number possible, were to have no pay but in proportion to attendance—an excellent regulation, which, while it insures assiduity in this bye-corner of the political edifice, is a satire on the rest.†
The contract plan, I have said, saves a world of regulations. It does most certainly. What object should they have? Prevention of cruelty? Details will never do it. If the disposition exist, tie it down in one shape, it breaks out in another. Checks for this purpose must be of a broader nature—broad enough to comprehend the mischief in all its forms: life-insurance, transparent management, summary justice.* —Prevention of undue lenity and indulgence? A very little in this way will suffice. Self-interest is the great check here: it may be trusted without much danger. Few indulgences but either cost money, or diminish labour. The only danger is, lest some which are improper on other accounts should be granted for the sake of money; such as spirituous liquors,† gaming, and a few others. These, indeed, may be refused by law: but these come within a narrow compass.—Economy? Is that the object? Under the contract plan, the idea would be too ridiculous. Is it in spite of his teeth, that a man is to be made to pursue the management that would answer best to him?
Under the plan of trust-management, such care may not be altogether superfluous. Two qualities are requisite—intelligence and industry. On neither head can the legislator be absolutely at his ease. Of himself he is sure: he cannot be equally sure of his unknown deputy. He himself has the business at heart and in his thoughts: whether the future manager will either understand or care anything about the matter, is as it may happen. The principal has to teach him his duty, and when taught, to keep him to it. Is the contractor to be treated in the same manner? Yes, if it requires the same pains to make a man pursue his interest, as to keep him to his duty.
Mistakes, if made by legislation, cannot they be corrected by legislation? O yes, that they may; and so may mistakes in generalship. In what time? With good fortune, in a twelve-month: with ordinary fortune, in two or three years, or in another parliament. When the army has been cut to pieces for having been enacted to march the wrong way, get an act of parliament, and you may order a retreat: when the capital has been sunk in a bad trade, get an act of parliament, and you may try another.‡
Spite of all this, economy was to be beat into men’s heads by a legislative hammer. Rules of economy for almost every branch of the concern—building, employment, diet, bedding, furniture. And what comes of it all?—We shall see. It will be worth seeing. Who are they, whose labours, thus employed, are worse than thrown away?—are they without name or reputation? They are among the highest on the list of public men.
Notwithstanding all this pains taken to teach, as well as to enforce good economy, should bad economy prevail after all, observe the remedy. By § 62, provision is made for “checking or redressing waste, extravagant expense, and mismanagement.” Justices in sessions, upon inspection of the accounts, may report it to the King’s Bench, “who shall take order therein immediately:” but the waste must be “notorious,” and the mismanagement “gross.”—Immediately after what? After hearing the report, that is, half a year, perhaps, after the “observation” of the mischief, and a quarter of a year more, perhaps, after the commission of it—the delinquency going on all the while. Whoever will take the trouble to compare the times of quarter-sessions and law-terms will find that this remedy, such as it is, is in season only in the spring and winter months, and then is not a very speedy one. Against “waste,” at least, and “extravagant expense,” and every mismanagement by which the contractor would be a loser, the remedy afforded by contract-management is rather more simple, and is in season all the year round.
Oh, but this contract plan—it’s like farming the poor: and what a cruel inhuman practice that is!—Be it so in that instance: the present is a very different one.
1. The objects or ends in view, so far from being the same, are opposite. There, comfort: here, punishment; moderate and regulated punishment, indeed, but, however, punishment. In the one case, whatever hardship is sustained is so much misery in waste: in the other case, howsoever it be to be regretted, it is not altogether lost; it contributes, at any rate, to swell the account of terror, which is the great end in view.
2. Another difference is in the checks. Here, an unexampled degree of publicity: there, next to none. There, though no hardships are intended, the severest may take place: here, whatever are intended to be felt are intended to be seen; and nothing in that way that is not intended, can stand any chance of remaining concealed. Who but parishioners, and how few even of them, ever think of looking into a poor-house? But in what corner of a Panopticon penitentiary-house could either avarice or negligence hope to find a lurking-place? Time is fatal to curiosity. True, in an individual, but not in a succession of individuals. The great dependence of the penitentiary act is on a single inspector—one inspector for the thousand houses its town was to contain, and who was also to serve for the hulks, “and all the other places of criminal confinement in London and Middlesex” besides:* and so well satisfied is it with this security, as to allot £200 a-year to pay for it. Let money or friendship (no very extravagant supposition) make a connexion between this inspector and the managers he is to inspect, what is the security worth then? Here, to one room, you have inspectors by thousands. Is it possible that a national penitentiary-house of this kind should be more at a loss for visitors than the lions, the wax-work, or the tombs? Of the 25,000 individuals born annually in London, I want but one out of a hundred, and him but once in his life, without reckoning country visitors. Call it a spectacle for youth, and for youth only: youth, however, do not go to spectacles alone.
3. A third difference respects the quality of the managers. For the poor-house of a single parish, what can you expect better than some uneducated rustic or petty tradesman? the tendency of whose former calling is more likely to have been of a nature to smother than to cherish whatever seeds of humanity may have been sown by nature. For a station of so conspicuous and public a kind as that of the governor of a national penitentiary-house, even upon the footing of a contract, men of some sort of liberality of education can scarce be wanting—men in whose bosoms those precious seeds have not been without culture. Such men were certainly not wanting for the originally-designed penitentiary-house: upon what principle should they ever be despaired of, for what I hope I may style the improved one? In a concern of such a magnitude, the profit, if it be any thing, can hardly be inconsiderable: the number and quality of the candidates may be expected to be proportionable. A station that is at any rate conspicuous, and that may be lucrative—a station in which much good as well as much evil may be done—in which no inconsiderable merit as well as demerit may be displayed in a line of public service, is in little danger of going a-begging. And should the establishment be fortunate in its first choice, the reputation of the servant will help to raise the reputation of the service.
Where, then, is the resemblance? Not that I mean to pass any censure on contract-management in the other instance. It may be eligible without any modifications: it may be eligible only under certain modifications: it may be radically and unalterably ineligible. All this I pass over, as being foreign to the purpose.
Whoever else may be shocked at the idea of farming out prisoners, the authors of the penitentiary act are not of the number. They approve it, and adopt it: they confirm it on board the hulks. What is the business done, or supposed to be done, on board those vessels? Scraping gravel from the bottom of a river—a business in which there was nothing that could be gained or lost to anybody: nothing to buy but necessaries, nothing to make, nothing to sell—no capital to be disposed of. What was the business intended to have been carried on in the penitentiary-houses? A vast and complicated mercantile concern—not one manufacture, but a congeries of manufactures. They saw before them two establishments, a mercantile and an unmercantile one: The mercantile, affording peculiar aliment and temptation to peculation;—shrinking, like every other mercantile concern, from the touch of extraneous regulation;—rendering official and mercenary inspection the less necessary, by the invitation it holds out to free and gratuitous inspectors;—possessing, in that innate facility of inspection, a peculiar safeguard against any abuses that could result from inhumanity or negligence. The unmercantile concern, affording, in comparison, scarce any aliment or incitement to peculation;—containing nothing of mercantile project that could be hurt by regulation;—at the same time, by the very nature of the place and of the business, excluding all promiscuous affluence, all facility, and almost all possibility of spontaneous visitation;—possessing, in consequence, no natural safeguard against negligence or inhumanity, but rather offering to those, and all other abuses, a perpetual screen:—in a word, the mercantile concern, by every distinguishing circumstance belonging to it, repelling regulation and trust-management: the unmercantile one, calling for those checks, and admitting of them with as little inconvenience as any other that could be imagined. Such are the two establishments:—what were the modes of management respectively allotted to them? To the mercantile, trust-management, board-management: to the other, contract-management. The mercantile, loaded and fettered with incessant regulation, permanent as well as occasional, known and unknown, present and future, is delivered over to a body of managers who have no interest in the success—a prey to delays, to want of unity of plan, to fluctuation, to dissension. The unmercantile and uninspectable one, left altogether without regulation:* the prisoners abandoned to the uncontrouled and uncontroulable discretion of a single despot, taken from the white-negro trade.† Where there is management that regulation might spoil, they regulate without mercy: where there is nothing to spoil, they abstain from regulating, as if for fear of spoiling it.
[‡ ]19 Geo. III. ch. 74. § 18.
[* ]§ 15.
[† ]§ 45.
[‡ ]§ 21.
[∥ ]§ 15.
[* ]This is to be understood only in as far as profit and loss is the avowed object. As to sacrificing to schemes of profit some other of the ends in view, such as good morals, proper severity, or proper indulgence, it forms a separate consideration, and will be spoken of in its place.
[* ]Letters IX. and XII.
[* ]It was but the other day that a very respectable society, instituted for the most benevolent of purposes, lost in this way more than half its funds. They were in a single hand: board management would have saved them. Is board-management therefore necessary? By no means. The man in whose hands they were lodged had nothing of his own: no pecuniary security had been required of him. Legal powers were wanting: no authority to examine him—no court to summon him to. He would give in no accounts: perhaps he had kept none. What he had, he gave: fine sentiments and fine periods in plenty. He was a gentleman: he had given his time for nothing: the same benevolence that had prompted others to give their money, had promptedhim to receive it. Was such a man to be questioned? Questions import suspicion. Suspicion, by a man of fine feelings, is only to be answered by defiance.
[* ]Seven, did I say? I was too hasty—I should have said nine; adding to the seven, one of the two surgeons, and one of the two chaplains.—Two sexes, two houses: two houses, two chaplains, and two surgeons. This is trust-logic, fine gentleman’s logic, placeman’s logic: contract logic is of humbler mould.
[† ]A word or two may not be amiss by way of recapitulation. Interested management, when accompanied by the safeguards of which it is susceptible, has the advantage of uninterested management, however modified: 1. In carrying the probability of the best economy to the highest pitch; 2. In exciting scrutiny by the jealousy it inspires. In these particulars, it has the advantage of uninterested, even where the latter is in single hands, and those unpaid.
[* ]What details are there on this head in the law of master and apprentice?
[† ]A prohibition on this head, inserted into the penitentiary act, has been attended with the happiest consequences. To this cause principally, if not solely, may be attributed the general good health of the convicts on board the hulks, as noted in Part I. Section 24, and of those at Wymondham. The success of this single clause has made ample payment to the authors of the penitentiary act for all their trouble, and to the public ample atonement for their errors.
[‡ ]Looking at the governor, and his governors the committee, I cannot help thinking of a general under field-deputies. One set is, I believe, the most ever general was saddled with, and they have commonly given him sufficient trouble. The general of the penitentiary act has three sets of them, one above another: standing committee, justices in sessions, and judges of assize.
[* ]§ 63.
[* ]There is indeed a clause, but a very vague one (§ 60,) for subjecting the superintendents of the hulks to the “direction given” respecting the “governors of the penitentiary-houses;” but in terms so general and pregnant with ambiguity, that little, if anything, can be collected from it. One thing only is certain, viz. that it leaves no room for the introduction of any regulations besides those given in the act itself; for, by § 16, such future regulations can originate only with the committee of three, whose authority is confined to penitentiary-houses.
[† ]This refers to the class merely, let it be observed, and not to the individual. Unhappily where conduct is buried in darkness, it is by the class only that the individual can be judged. The inspector mentioned in the act has never been appointed. No powers whatever are given him, unless the right of entry given by implication is to be called a power. The same right is given to justices of the peace within their territory (§ 41.) He was to visit and report four times a-year. He was to have enough to do besides; for he had the same powers with regard not only to the penitentiary-houses, but all the other “places of criminal confinement in London and Middlesex.” (§ 63.)