Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION X.: OF AIRING AND EXERCISE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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SECTION X.: OF AIRING AND EXERCISE. - 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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OF AIRING AND EXERCISE.
The use of airing is to serve as a preservative to health.
Literally taken, it means nothing but exposure to the air. But under the notion of airing is tacitly included that of exercise. As a means to the above end, either would be incomplete without the other.
In the choice of a plan of airing for a penitentiary-house, and in particular for a Panopticon penitentiary-house, the following are the qualities that appear to be particularly desirable:—
1. That it be sufficient for the purpose of health, for the sake of which it is instituted.
2. That it be subject to the inviolable law of inspection.
3. That it be not incompatible with the degree of seclusion pitched upon.
4. That it be capable of being applied regularly and without interruption.
5. That it be favourable to economy, viz. either by being productive of a profit, or at least of being applied with as little expense and consumption of time as may be, on all days except those in which religion is understood to put a negative upon that worldly consideration.†
Walking in a wheel is a species of exercise that fulfils to perfection every one of the above conditions.
1. It does every thing that can be wished for with regard to health. You may give a man as much or as little of it as you please. It is but a particular mode of walking up hill. A lazy prisoner cannot cheat you. The turns may be numbered—there are known contrivances for that purpose. A partial or tyrannical inspector cannot assign to a prisoner too little of this exercise, or too much. The effect is produced by the mere weight of the body successively applied to different points. Exertion cannot be shrunk from by one man, or exacted beyond measure from another. The exercise is the same, or nearly the same, for one man as another: for a heavy man as for a light one.
2. That it is capable of exposure to inspection, is evident enough. It is scarce necessary to observe that the axis of the wheel should be placed in a line not widely deviating from a right line drawn from it to the inspector’s eye, when stationed in the look-out or exterior lodge.
3. It is not incompatible with the strictest plan of seclusion: not even with absolute solitude. Whatever persons are companions in a cell, the same persons and no others may be companions in a wheel. The different parties may relieve one another in the way that will be pointed out presently, without any opportunity of converse.
It is beyond comparison more compatible with seclusion, and even with solitude, than ordinary walking. Requiring more exertion, a given quantity of it will go much farther, and is performed without change of place. It is walking up a hill, and that a pretty steep one.
4. It need not suffer any interruption whatesoever: not even in the worst of weather. To each airing-wheel there is an awning, to be used only in bad weather, supported by a few slight iron pillars, and composed of canvass, or whatever else is cheapest. It is provided with side-flaps all round: such of them only as are necessary to keep out the weather are let down; that side alone excepted which is towards the inspector, and which, if let down, would impede his view. To extend the protection to this open side, the aperture is covered by a short projection like a porch.
5. It is not only favourable to economy, but the only operation ever thought of in this view that is so. It is all profit; and this profit is obtained without any sacrifice. It is not in the smallest degree the less healthful for the profit which it brings: walking up hill is not at all a worse exercise, though it will go farther, than walking on plain ground. Health and economy are not upon such bad terms as the authoritative plans of penitentiary management seem to suppose: an operation is not unfitted for the one purpose, merely by being fade subservient to the other. No other of the modes as yet proposed of applying forced labour is equally advantageous, or equally unobnoxious to abuse. Heaving at a capstern, the exercise placed on a line with it by the penitentiary act, bears, as we have already seen, no comparison with it.
6. This exercise, it may be observed, is applicable with equal propriety to both sexes. What should hinder the setting a woman to walk up a hill, any more than a man? But who could think of setting the weaker and softer sex to strain and struggle at a capstern?
To attempt to determine what are the most advantageous applications of all that could be made of the power thus acquired, would be equally useless and impracticable. It may be applied to any purpose whatsoever, that the form of the building or the dimensions of the outlets do not exclude. Every one who is at all conversant with the principles of mechanics knows, that when you have obtained anyhow a given quantity of power, the direction that may be given to it, and the uses it may be applied to, are at your command. If your trade requires it, you may have a perpetual motion if you please. You may do what the penitentiary act advised you—saw stone, polish marble, beat hemp, rasp logwood, or chop rags. You may do a thousand things besides; and amongst the thousand, a thousand to five, some that will be more profitable than those. Having it in this case cheaper than you can employ even the powers of nature—having it in short for nothing, you may apply it with advantage, in every instance where there is advantage to be made by dividing labour, in such a manner as to commit the production of the force and the direction of it to different hands.
One indispensable demand there is for it, and but one—the raising water for the supply of the establishment: and health will thus receive a double sacrifice. But for this purpose a small part of the quantity of this sort of labour requisite for airing and exercise will be sufficient: the rest will remain free to be dedicated to economy, in whatever may be its most productive shape.
What is the proportion of time that ought to be allotted to this part of the discipline? The quantity, it is evident, will admit of very considerable variation. It will be less fatiguing, without being less conducive to health, if performed at twice rather than once, and divided between distant parts of the day. Less than a quarter of an hour each time work hardly answer any purpose; but that time may be doubled, trebled, quadrupled, if economy should require it. Happily the human frame allows of a considerable latitude in this as well as in most other parts of the dietetic regimen; nor therefore will it follow, that because half an hour spent in this way out of four and twenty would be sufficient, a whole one, or even two whole ones, would be too much.
Under the notion of hard labour, the penitentiary act prescribes, as we have seen, eight hours of this exercise out of the four and twenty, at the time of the year when it is least fatiguing, and a quarter as much again when it is most so.
The different parties, I have said, or individuals, may relieve one another without opportunity of converse. On the striking of the clock, an inspector from his gallery opens the cell where the prisoner is whose turn it is to go into the wheel. He takes his course in the track already described.* Arrived at the door which leads to the wheel, by opening it he gives motion to a bell, at the sound of which, and not before, the prisoner who is walking in the wheel quits it and returns to his cell. Silence is enjoined to both parties by a general law. The shifting, being the work but of a moment, and then performed under an inspector’s eye, can never, under these circumstances, afford room for a prohibited conversation of any continuance or effect. By the bell attached to the door that opens from the staircase upon the gallery adjoining to his cell, notice is given of the arrival of the returning prisoner to the inspector of his story, who immediately repairs to that spot in the inspection gallery which is opposite to the cell in question, and opens it, as before, to let in the returning prisoner, in the same manner that he who has just descended was let out. The inspector, having a less circle to move in, will naturally have reached his station before the prisoner has reached the corresponding one; but, should this not be the case, the prisoner is instructed to wait in the front of his own cell, without speaking or looking towards either of the adjacent ones. The same instruction is given with regard to every cell by which he has ocaasion to pass in his way down and up. And this instruction is not likely to be broke through, as, besides the general security for its observance afforded by the inspection principle, the inspector has, by the above-mentioned bell, received warning to observe.
Mode of Airing on the Parade.—Two inspectors, in the first place, repair from the lowest inspection-gallery by the line of communication to the look-out, taking with them fire-arms, with a proportionable supply of ammunition. In their way they carefully observe that the side doors opening into the parade in the yards from the covered-way through the prisoners’ lanes, are locked. Notice being given to the inspectors within, that those in the look-out have taken their station, the prisoners are, in the way already described, let out of their cells. Arrived at the parade, they take their stations on the lines corresponding to their respective cells. They halt till it be seen that they have properly occupied their respective posts. Then, on a signal given from the look-out, the march begins.
To mark the time, and to preserve regularity the better, the assistance of martial music may be called in. Though the object be not military, there is nothing to hinder the copying in this respect the regularity of the military discipline. What are the institutions in which regularity may not have its use? By military arrangement, any number of persons may be kept together or asunder at pleasure, while in motion as well as while at rest. By military discipline, a large number may be kept virtually separated, though collected within a narrow space. At the time of exercise, what conversation can be carried on, even between next neighbours, though not a yard asunder? Even in the milder discipline of the school, if the master thinks proper to command silence, what conversation can be carried on within the circuit of his eye?
It is in this way that hundreds, as we have seen, may enjoy the benefit of air and exercise without the liberty of conversation, in a space which, without an arrangement of this sort, would not be sufficient to afford to three, no, nor to two, the same limited indulgence. In this way, the space absolutely necessary for the purpose may be determined to a foot square, and reduced to the smallest allowance possible.*
Thus much for airing, considered as conjoined with exercise. But too much care cannot be taken to profit by every opportunity that presents itself, of giving the prisoners the benefit of the salutary influence of the open air. The house which they inhabit is beyond example airy. True, but still it is a house. We shall come presently to the head of schooling. This exercise of the mind, though it cannot conveniently be conjoined with bodily exercise, may in fit weather be as well performed in the yard as in a confined air. It therefore ought to be, whenever the inclemency of the weather does not absolutely forbid it.
[† ]In the Wymondham penitentiary-house, the place allowed, the only one that can be allowed, for airing, is the inclosed quadrangle within the building, an area of about 70 to 80 feet. In this the air is taken—by whom? by all the prisoners? No: but by “some” only. And by those how? regularly? No: but “occasionally.” Why by some only, and by those only ocasionally? Does the necessity of air and exercise to health and life come at odd times, and vary with the degrees or fancied degrees of guilt?
[* ]Through the prisoners’ staircase on that side, the grated passage, the prisoners’ straits, the prisoners’ rising-stairs, and the prisoners’ lane, out of which a side-door opens, leading to the wheels. See Part I. § 10, 15, 16, 17, and 20.
[* ]The expense of the music is scarce worth mentioning. On such simple instruments as a fife and drum, a very slight degree of instruction will be sufficient to the simple purpose of affording a measure to the time. That among such a multitude two or three persons susceptible of this degree of instruction should not be to be found, if not already possessed of it, is not to be supposed.