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Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4 (Panopticon, Constitution, Colonies, Codification) [1843]

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Jeremy Bentham, 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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An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 4 contains A View Of The Hard-Labour Bill; Panopticon; Or, The Inspection-House; Panopticon Versus New South Wales: Or, The Panopticon Penitentiary System, And The Penal Colonization System, Compared.; A Plea For The Constitution; Draught Of A Code For The Organization Of The Judicial Establishment In France; Bentham’s Draught For The Organization Of Judicial Establishments; Emancipate Your Colonies!; Jeremy Bentham To His Fellow-Citizens Of France, On Houses Of Peers And Senates; Papers Relative To Codification And Public Instruction; Codification Proposal.

For a complete list of the titles in The Works of Jeremy Bentham see this page.

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Table of Contents:

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Edition: current; Page: [i]
published under the superintendence of his executor,
Volume Four
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Reproduced from the Bowring Edition of 1838-1843

Library of Congress Catalog Number 62—13987

printed in the united states of america

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  • A VIEW OF THE HARD-LABOUR BILL; Being an abstract of a pamphlet, intituled, “Draught of a Bill, to punish by Imprisonment and Hard Labour, certain Offenders; and to establish proper places for their reception:” interspersed with Observations relative to the subject of the above Draught in particular, and to Penal Jurisprudence in general, . . . . . . . . . . . Page 1
  • PANOPTICON; OR, THE INSPECTION-HOUSE: Containing the Idea of a New Principle of Construction applicable to any sort of Establishment, in which persons of any description are to be kept under inspection; and in particular to Penitentiary-Houses, Prisons, Houses of Industry, Work-Houses, Poor-Houses, Manufactories, Mad-Houses, Lazarettos, Hospitals, and Schools: with a Plan of Management adapted to the principle: in a series of Letters, written in the year 1787, from Crecheff in White Russia, to a friend in England, . . . . . . 37
  • PANOPTICON VERSUS NEW SOUTH WALES: or, the Panopticon Penitentiary System, and the Penal Colonization System, compared. In a Letter addressed to the Right Honourable Lord Pelham, . . . . . . . . . 173
  • A PLEA FOR THE CONSTITUTION: Showing the enormities committed, to the oppression of British subjects, innocent as well as guilty; in breach of Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act, and the Bill of Rights. As likewise of the several Transportation Acts, in and by the Design, Foundation, and Government of the Penal Colony of New South Wales: including an Inquiry into the Right of the Crown to Legislate without Parliament in Trinidad, and other British Colonies, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
  • DRAUGHT OF A CODE FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE JUDICIAL ESTABLISHMENT IN FRANCE: With Critical Observations on the Draught proposed by the National Assembly Committee, in the form of a Perpetual Commentary, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285
  • EMANCIPATE YOUR COLONIES! Addressed to the National Convention of France, anno 1793: Showing the Uselessness and Mischievousness of distant Dependencies to an European State, . . . . . . . . . . . . 407
  • JEREMY BENTHAM TO HIS FELLOW-CITIZENS OF FRANCE, ON HOUSES OF PEERS AND SENATES, . . . . . . . . . . 419 Edition: current; Page: [iv]
  • PAPERS RELATIVE TO CODIFICATION AND PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: Including Correspondence with the Russian Emperor, and divers constituted authorities in the American United States, . . . . . . . . . 451
  • CODIFICATION PROPOSAL, Addressed by Jeremy Bentham to all Nations professing Liberal Opinions; or Idea of a proposed all-comprehensive Body of Law, with an accompaniment of reasons, applying all along to the several proposed arrangements: these reasons being expressive of the considerations, by which the several arrangements have been presented, as being, in a higher degree than any other, conducive to the greatest happiness of the greatest number, of the individuals of whom the community in question is composed: including Observations respecting the hands, by which the original draught of a work of the sort in question, may, with most advantage, be composed: also, Intimation, from the Author, to the competent authorities in the several nations and political states, expressive of his desire and readiness to draw up, for their use respectively, the Original Draught of a Body of Law, such as above proposed, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 535


Page Col. Line
89 1 32 put the comma before instead of after half.
237 2 31 for prinso put prison.
242 2 4 dele the second by.
311 2 30-31 for paragraphe put paraphe.
365 2 34 for latter put former.
- 35 for former put latter.
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originally published in 1778.

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  • Preface, - - - - - - Page 3
  • General view of the Bill, - - 6
  • Sect. 1. Preamble—Reasons for the Bill, - ib.
  • 2. Labour-Houses to be erected throughout England and Wales, - - - 7
  • 3. Supplies for building, how to be levied and distributed, - - - - ib.
  • 4. —and applied, - - - - ib.
  • 5. Counties to be consolidated into Districts, ib.
  • 6. Committees of Justices to be appointed for each District by the Sessions, 8
  • 7. —or else by the Custos Rotulorum, - ib.
  • 8. How to be supplied or changed, - ib.
  • 9. Appointment of Clerks and Treasurers, ib.
  • 10. Supplies appropriated, - - - ib.
  • 11. Committees, when and where to be held, ib.
  • 12. Ground, to whom to be conveyed, - 9
  • 13. Dimensions of the Buildings—Accommodations, - - - - - ib.
  • 14. Power to contract with Builders, - 11
  • Contents of Sections from XV. to XIX., ib.
  • 15. Disabilities to Alien removed, - ib.
  • 16. Purchase-monies applied, - - ib.
  • 17. Proprietors compelled, - - - ib.
  • 18. Price to be settled by a Jury, - ib.
  • 19. Costs to await the Verdict, - - ib.
  • 20. Saving for Dwelling-houses and Pleasure Grounds, - - - - ib.
  • Contents of Sections XX. to LII., - 12
  • 21. Power to make Regulations for the Labour-Houses, - - - - ib.
  • 22. Establishment of Officers, - - ib.
  • 23. Governor to have an interest in the Work, ib.
  • 24. Establishment of Officers, how variable, 13
  • 25. Governor a Body Corporate—his Economical Powers, - - - - ib.
  • 26. Expenses, how to be apportioned among the Counties, - - - - 14
  • 27. Accounts to be kept by the Officers, ib.
  • 28. —and audited by the Committees, - ib.
  • 29. Powers given them as Auditors, - ib.
  • 30. Convicts what, when and for what terms to be committed to these Houses, - 15
  • 31. —how to be disposed of till the House is ready, - - - - - ib.
  • 32. —what to be ordered to hard labour upon Rivers, - - - - - ib.
  • 33. Proviso for Convicts pardoned on condition, - - - - - 16
  • 34. —how to be conveyed, and under what Certificate, - - - - - ib.
  • 35. Charges of Conveyance, - - - ib.
  • 36. Governors and Superintendents, their general Powers and Punishments, 16
  • 37. Convicts—Works they are to be employed in, - - - - - ib.
  • 38. —their Lodging and manner of working, - - - - - - 17
  • 39. Days and Hours of Work, - - ib.
  • 40. Diet and Apparel, - - - - 20
  • 41. Penalties on Officers infringing the above Regulations, - - - - - 21
  • 42. Convicts, how to be provided for on Discharge, - - - - - ib.
  • 43. Convicts to be divided into Classes, 22
  • 44. Furniture and Police of the Lodging-rooms, - - - - - - ib.
  • 45. Provision for Religious Duties, - 23
  • 46. Health, - - - - - - 24
  • 47. Visitors—their Appointment, Powers, and Emoluments, - - - - 25
  • 48. Power to suspend Officers, - - ib.
  • 49. Task-masters, their Duty, - - ib.
  • 50. Powers of the Governor in punishing Offences committed in the House, ib.
  • 51. —of Visitors and Committees, - - 26
  • 52. —in rewarding and reporting for Mercy, - - - - - ib.
  • 53. Superintendents, how to employ their Convicts, - - - - - 27
  • 54. —not in delivering Ballast to Vessels, ib.
  • 55. —how to diet and clothe them, - - 28
  • 56. —and correct them, - - - ib.
  • 57. How Convicts may be pardoned, and how equipped on their Discharge, - - ib.
  • 58. Expenses of Chaplaius, Surgeons, and Coroners, and other charges, how to be defrayed, - - - - ib.
  • 59. Provision for Divine service, - - ib.
  • 60. Returns to be made of the State of the Establishment, - - - - 29
  • 61. Penalties for Escapes on the Party, ib.
  • 62. —on his Assistants, - - - - 30
  • 63. Prosecutions for Escapes facilitated, ib.
  • 64. Penalties to be proceeded for summarily, - - - - - 31
  • 65. Judges may do Business out of their Jurisdiction, - - - - ib.
  • 66. Clauses of Indemnity, - - - ib.
  • 67. Limitation of Actions, - - - ib.
  • 68. Present Act repealed, - - - ib.
  • Supplemental Hints and Observations, ib.
  • Table referred to in Sections 3, 5, 6, 9, and 11, - - - - - 34
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When the proposed Bill, of which the ensuing sheets are designed to give a view, first fell into my hands, I was employed in finishing a work of some bulk, in which I have been treating the subject of punishment more at large. In that work, I should have come in course to speak of the particular species of punishment which is the subject of this bill. In that work, therefore, several of the observations would have come in course to be introduced, which I have here subjoined to several parts of the text I have been abstracting: and being there digested into a method, and forming a part of a system to which I have been giving that degree of regularity which it has been in my power to give it, would probably have come with more force, and shown to more advantage, in company with the rest. On this account, had I been at liberty with respect to time, I should rather have wished to have published the whole together first, before I had detached from it these scattered fragments. The publication, however, of the proposed bill in question, with the intelligence that accompanied it, effectually precluded any such option. To have delayed the publication of this part of my principal work, till the bill had been brought in and passed, would have been to delay it till that season had been over, in which, if in any, such parts of it as relate to the present subject, promised to be most useful.

When I had read Mr. Howard’s book on Prisons, one fruit of it was, a wish still more earnest than what I had been led to entertain from theory, to see some general plan of punishment adopted, in which solitary confinement might be combined with labour. This capital improvement (for as such I cannot help regarding it) in penal legislation, I sat wishing, with scarce any mixture of hope, to see carried into execution: for somehow or other, the progress that had been already made in it near two years ago in the House of Commons,* had escaped me. How great, then, was my pleasure and surprise at seeing a plan (which had already been pre-announced by the Judges in their circuits,) originating, as appeared, from a high department in administration, and carrying wit it every presumption of its being adopted; in which, not only almost all the excellent matter of the book I have been speaking of is engrafted, but many capital improvements superadded! This incident gave me fresh alacrity, and suggested fresh designs.

This bill (or draught of a bill, as it is called in the title, not having been as yet brought into Parliament) is accompanied with a Preface, short, indeed, but ample, masterly, and instructive. In this preface, an instructive but general idea is given of the theoretic principles upon which the plan of the bill is grounded; and a more ample and detailed account of the documents which furnished materials and reasons for the several provisions of detail. A history of the steps that have been taken in the formation and prosecution of the plan is also interwoven.

Upon this it will naturally enough be asked, What was the occasion, and what can be the use of the ensuing sheets? why publish them? I answer—Because the bill itself is in fact not published:—because, were it published, the contents of it are not quite so perspicuous as I imagined they might be made:—because I hoped to be a means, in some degree, of forwarding the good purposes of it, by stating to the public, more in detail than it would have been competent either to the text or to the preface to have done, the reasons on which the leading provisions in it seemed to be grounded, and by suggesting a few hints in the way of correction or addition.

“Not perspicuous?” I think I hear somebody exclaiming:—“what Act of Parliament was ever more so?” None, I must confess, that I can think of: but this affords me no Edition: current; Page: [4] reason for retracting. The legislator, one would indeed naturally suppose, might (and if he might, why should not he?) speak his own meaning so plainly, that no one could speak it plainer; so concisely, that no one could render his expression more concise; in such a method, both as to matter and form, that no one could cast it into a better. He might, one should think: for what should hinder him? Is he the less qualified for making himself understood and remembered by being a legislator? If he did, then, as he might do, expositions would be useless, and abridgments would be impracticable. But does he?—consult the twelve immense volumes of Acts of Parliaments; to which another is in the way to add itself every three years.

Let me not all this while be understood to reflect censure on a great master of language, on whom nothing less than censure is intended. Had custom (that is, the law of Parliament) left him at liberty to follow the dictates of his own intelligence, little or nothing, I suppose, would have been left to any one else to add to it on the score of perspicuity: if (supposing the bill and the preface to come, as they purport to do, from the same hand,) it be reasonable to judge what he could have done, from what he has done. On this head I have scarce an idea of making any greater improvement on his draught than what he could have made, if he had pleased, and would, if he had thought proper. He thought, I suppose (if it occurred to him to propose the subject to his thoughts,) that one plan of reformation was enough to proceed upon at once. On the present occasion, his business was to reform a part of the system of punishment adopted by our legislation; not to go about reforming the legislative style. He has therefore, of course, conformed in a great measure to the style in use, though with a considerable defalcation from the usual complement of tautologies and redundancies: his publication being a draught of the very instrument which it is intended should pass into an act.

The present abstract of it having no pretensions to be considered in that light, I have held myself at liberty to afford the reader many of those assistances which parliamentary men, in all their authoritative publications, seem so studious to reject. I have therefore prefixed numbers to the sections: I have given them marginal contents: I have made frequent breaks in the letterpress: I have numbered, every now and then, the leading articles, which, though included together in one section, seemed to claim each of them a separate measure of attention; and, by allotting to each a separate line, have displayed them more distinctly than if lumped together in one unbroken mass. These, and other such typographical assistances, are no more than what it is common enough for writers, on the most ordinary subjects, to give their readers: nor would they be looked upon as singular, or indeed worth mentioning, but with respect to those intricate and important discourses which stand most in need of them.

Another, and rather more serious task, has been to break down the long sentences, into which this composition (being intended to be passed into an Act of Parliament) could not but have been cast into a multitude of shorter ones: to retrench the tautologies and superfluities with which this composition, though remarkably scanty on this head (being intended for an Act of Parliament,) could not but abound. In the course of these operations, I have here and there ventured to make some little alteration in the order of the several matters contained in the same section: but with entire sections I have nowhere taken the like liberty.

This abstract, then, (to mention a more general use that may be made of it) will of itself be sufficient to prove, that a sentence of any given length is capable of being cast into as many sentences, and, consequently, that each sentence is capable of being made as short as there can be occasion to desire. It is therefore of itself sufficient to divest the long-windedness of our legislative (one may say in general of our legal) style, of the plea of necessity, the only one which a man could think of urging in its favour. Had this been even my principal object, I should of all others have wished for a bill like this to work upon, for the same reason that grammarians take the works of Pope, and Swift, and Addison, for examples of solecisms in grammar.*

But to return. By the means above mentioned I will venture to hope, and that without any pretensions to make it a ground of vanity, that this abstract may be found to read somewhat more pleasantly than even the bill itself; and that on this head the reader, who means only to take a general view of the bill, and who is not in that line of duty or of study which would lead him to weigh words and syllables, may, as far as he thinks he can depend upon the fidelity of this copy, find it answer his purpose as well as the original.

I am sorry I cannot give equal satisfaction to his curiosity with respect to the Preface; in which the elegance of a style, which is the Author’s own, has been at full liberty to display itself, unfettered by technical forms and prejudices. This I must not transcribe, nor can presume to imitate. The uncouth piles of parliamentary composition have not often been graced with such a frontispiece.

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Amongst other things we learn by it, is, that “the difficulties which towards the end of the year 1775 attended the transportation of convicts,”* gave great weight to the inducements, if they were not themselves the sole inducement, that led to the institution of this plan. It may be some consolation to us, under the misfortunes from which those difficulties took their rise, if they should have forced us into the adoption of a plan that promises to operate one of the most signal improvements that have ever yet been made in our criminal legislation. It may not even be altogether extravagant to suppose, that at the end we may be found to have profited not much less than we shall have suffered by these misfortunes, when the benefits of this improvement come to be taken into the account. For let it be of ever so much consequence that trade should flourish, and that our property should go on increasing, it seems to be of not much less consequence that our persons should be safe, and that the property we have should be secure. If, then, the efforts of our statesmen, to save the nation from the stroke of those adversities have not been attended with the success they merited, let them not make it an excuse to themselves for sinking into despondency. Let them rather turn their activity into a new channel: let them try what amends can be made, in some other line, to their own reputation, and to the public service: let them look at home; and if, after all that can be done, the nation must lose something in point of external splendour, let them try what they can gain for it in point of domestic peace.

I understand that the plan is not yet looked upon as absolutely completed, which may be one reason why the circulation of it has been hitherto confined to a few hands. The ample use, however, and liberal acknowledgment that has been made of the helps afforded by former volunteers, induced me to hope, that any lights that could be thrown upon the subject, from any quarter, would not be ill received.

Whatever farther additions or alterations the proposed bill may come to receive before it has been carried through the House, there seems to be no great likelihood of their bearing any very great proportion, in point of bulk, to the main body of the bill as it stands at present. And as it is not yet clear but that it may be carried through in the course of this session in its present state, it seemed hardly worth while to delay this publication in expectation of further materials that may either never come, or not in such quantity as to make amends for the delay. It will be an easy matter, if there should be occasion, to give a supplemental account of such new matter as may arise. The attention of the country gentlemen has already been drawn to the subject by the general accounts given of the plan by several of the judges on their circuits: and it should seem that no farther apology need be made for giving as much satisfaction as can be given in the present stage of the business, to the curiosity which a measure, so generally interesting, can scarce fail to have excited. That curiosity is likely to be farther raised by some fresh inquiries, which I understand it is proposed to institute in the House of Commons: and as the result of these inquiries comes to transpire, the use and application of it will be the better seen, by having so much of the plan, as is sketched out already, to refer to.

The haste with which, on the above accounts, it was thought necessary to send the ensuing sheets to the press, must be my apology for some inaccuracies which, I fear, will be discoverable in them, as well in point of method as of matter. It is not a month since the proposed bill first fell into my hands in the midst of other indispensable avocations.

The use of them, however, if they have any, will, I hope, not be altogether confined to the short period between the publication of them and the passing of the bill into a law. For when a great measure of legislation is established, though it be too firmly established to be in danger of being overturned, it is of use, for the satisfaction of the people, that the reasons by which it is or may be justified, be spread abroad among them.

Lincoln’s-Inn, March 28, 1778.


The persons who are styled “convicts” in the ensuing abstract, are styled “offenders” in the proposed Bill. I gave them the former name, to avoid a confusion I found occur in speaking of them, at times when there was occasion to speak of such fresh offences as may come to be committed by the same persons during their confinement, or of certain other offences which the bill has occasion to prohibit in other persons.

In regard to sex, I make, in general, no separate mention of the female; that being understood (unless where the contrary is specified) to be included under the expression used to denote the male.

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This Bill has two capital objects: 1st, To provide a new establishment of Labourhouses all over England; 2dly, To extend and perpetuate the establishment already set on foot, for the confinement of convicts, to labour upon rivers. It consists of sixty-eight sections. The fifty-two first are employed upon the former of the above objects: the seven following upon the latter: and the remaining nine upon certain customary provisions of procedure, and a few other matters that apply alike to both.

First with regard to the establishment of Houses of Hard Labour. The first twenty sections are employed in making provision for the erection of the buildings, and for the appointment of the magistrates and other officers to whom the management of that business is committed. The remaining thirty-two sections are employed chiefly in prescribing the regimen to be observed in them when built.

So much for the general outline of this regular and well digested plan. Let us now take a view of the sections one by one.

The first Section, or Preamble, states the general considerations which determined the author to propose the establishments in question. These considerations are, the insufficiency of transportation for the purposes of example and reformation; the superior efficacy of a course of confinement and hard labour; and the unfitness of the present houses of correction for that purpose.

Observations.—Here would naturally be the occasion for a commentator to dilate more particularly than it would have been in character for the bill itself to have done, upon the inconveniences of the old punishment of transportation, which it meant to supersede, and the advantages of the new mode of punishment, which it is the object of it to introduce. This I shall have occasion to do at large hereafter; stating in course the advantages and disadvantages of each: but a slight and immethodical sketch is as much as the present design gives room for.

The punishment of transportation, in its ordinary consequences, included servitude, the punishment here proposed to be substituted in the room of it. At all events, it included banishment. These two it comprehended professedly and with design; besides an uncertain, but at any rate a very afflictive, train of preliminary hardships, of which no account was taken; amongst others, a great chance of producing death.

Taking it all together, it had a multitude of bad properties; and it had no good ones, but what it derived from servitude, or which are to be found in the latter punishment in a superior degree.

1. In point of proportion it was unequal: for a man who had money might buy off the servitude.* With regard to the banishment, it, was again unequal; for nothing can be more unequal than the effect which the change of country has upon men of different habits, attachments, talents, and propensities. Some would have been glad to go by choice; others would sooner die.

2. It was unexemplary: what the convicts suffered, were it much or little, was unknown to the people for whose benefit it was designed. It may be proved by arithmetic, that the purpose of example is, of all the purposes of punishment, the chief.

3. It was unfrugal: it occasioned a great waste of lives in the mode, and a great waste of money in the expenses, of conveyance.

4. It did answer indeed, in some degree, the purpose of disabling the offender from Edition: current; Page: [7] doing further mischief to the community during the continuance of it; but not in so great a degree as the confinement incident to servitude. It has always been easier for a man to return from transportation, than to escape from prison.

5. It answered, indeed, every now and then, the purpose of reformation: But by what means? By means of the servitude that was a part of it. It answered this purpose pretty well; but not so well upon the whole, under the uncertain and variable direction of a private master, whose object was his own profit, as it may be expected to answer under regulations concerted by the united wisdom of the nation, with this express view.

Section II. provides in general terms for the erection of houses for the purposes of confinement and labour throughout England and Wales. These houses are to be entirely separate from all other public habitations, whether destined for the custody or punishment of offenders, or for the maintenance of the honest poor. The legal appellation they are directed to be called by, is that of Houses of Hard Labour.

Observations.—It might, perhaps, be as well to call them Hard-Labour Houses, or Labour-Houses, at once. This, or some other equally compendious, is the name that will undoubtedly be given them by the people at large; the tendency of popular speech being to save words and shorten names as much as possible. Such a name should be analogous to the names Rasp-huys [Rasping-house,] and Spin-huys [Spinning-house,] in use in Holland; and, in short, to our English word Work-house. The technical name would by this means be the same as the popular. This would, pro tanto, save circumlocution, and guard against error in law proceedings. Where departing from the popular forms of speech is not necessary, it is always inconvenient. So much for an object, which, perhaps, may be thought to be hardly worth the words that have been spent upon it.

Section III. is designed to make provision for the raising of the monies to defiay the charges of purchasing ground and building; and it prescribes the proportions in which such monies, when raised, are to be distributed among the districts established in the next section for the purposes of the act.* These proportions it takes from the number of convicts that have been ordered for transportation, in each county, within the compass of a year, upon an average taken for seven years last past. A blank is left for the particular fund out of which the monies are to issue.

Observations.—The contribution by which these monies are to be raised, is made, we see, not a local, but a general one. A local tax, however, is that which seemed most obviously to suggest itself, since the expenditure is local; but a general one appears to be much preferable. Had the tax been local, it would have been raised upon the plan of the county taxes; it would by that means have fallen exclusively upon householders bearing scot and lot. But the benefit of it, be it what it may, is shared indiscriminately among the whole body of the people. Add to this, that the sums of money requisite for this purpose will probably be large. These, were they to be raised at once, in the several districts, in the manner of a county tax, would be apt to startle the inhabitants, and prejudice them against the measure.

As to the proportion in which the supplies are to be distributed among the several districts, this is taken, we see, from the average number of convicts. This was an ingenious way of coming at the extent it would be requisite to give to the respective buildings, and the terms allotted would naturally be proportioned to the extent. Rigid accuracy in this apportionment, does not seem, however, to have been aimed at. According to the method taken, the allowance to the smaller counties will be somewhat greater in proportion than to the larger. There are a great many counties whose average number is settled at one: the computation does not descend to fractions. This, if it be an error, is an error on the right side.

For two of the towns that are counties of themselves, no average number of convicts, I observe, is stated: these are, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Haverfordwest.

Upon turning to the table subjoined to the bill, it appears, that at Haverfordwest there have been no convicts at all within the time in question. At Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the average is stated at five. The omission in the bill seems therefore to be accidental.

Section IV. provides for the payment and application of the monies mentioned in the preceding section. They are directed to be paid to committees of justices, or their order, and applied to the building of the houses above mentioned. The deficiencies, if any, in the provision thus made, are to be borne afterwards by the districts.

By Section V., all England, including Wales, is cast, for the purposes of this act, into districts of a new dimension. This division is made commensurate to the division into circuits, as well as to that into counties. A certain number of these districts are included in each circuit; and each district includes one or more counties. Towns, that Edition: current; Page: [8] are counties of themselves, are put upon a footing, in this respect, with counties at large. London and Middlesex form each a district by itself. The whole principality of Wales, together with Cheshire and Chester, are included in one district. The whole number of districts is nineteen. The reason it gives for this junction of the counties is, that it will serve to lessen the expense.

Observations.—The circuit divisions, it seems, were thought too large; the county divisions too small; besides that the latter are unequal. This is the case more particularly with the towns that are counties of themselves, in comparison with some of the larger shires. The use of making the districts less than the circuits, and at the same time larger than the counties, is the adjusting the buildings to a convenient size. An establishment for the reception of a large number of persons may be conducted, as the preambular part intimates, at a proportionably less expense, than an establishment for the reception of a small number. The uses of making them less than the circuits, are two:—1st, The lessening the expenses of conveying the convicts from the place of trial to the place of punishment; 2dly, The lessening the trouble and expense of the justices, who are to travel out of their own counties, to the town where they are to meet to carry the act into execution. It is doubtless on the former principle, that we are to account for the comprising the twelve Welsh counties, together with Cheshire and the city of Chester, in one district; for in this district, extensive as it is, the average number of convicts has been found to be less than in any other. On the two latter principles, it may seem rather inconvenient that this district should be so large. It is to be hoped, on this account, that the situation chosen for the labour-house for this district will be as central as is consistent in other respects with convenience.

Section VI. establishes the committees of justices, who are to be appointed by the general sessions of their respective counties, to meet together for the purposes of carrying this act into execution at a particular place within each of the districts, within which their respective counties are included:* and it settles the proportion which the number of committee-men in each county is to bear to the number of committee-men in every other. These committees are empowered to appoint stated meetings (giving ten days notice) and to make adjournments. The committee-men are to be appointed at the next general sessions after the passing of this act.

Observations.—The power of sending justices as committee-men is given, we may observe, to all the counties at large, in various proportions, from one to five inclusive, likewise to all the town-counties except three—Berwick, Chester, and Haverfordwest. Whether these omissions are accidental or designed, is more than I can take upon me to conjecture.

Section VII. provides against any failure in the sessions to appoint committee-men, or in the committee-men to take upon them their office. If at the next general sessions after the passing of the act, no committee-men should be appointed, or not enough, or if any should refuse, power is given to the custos rotulorum to supply the deficiency within three months.

Observations.—This provision seems to proceed on the supposition, that in some places the measure of the bill may prove unpopular among the country magistrates. By way of a spur to them, this power is therefore given to the custos rotulorum: but may it not be possible, especially in some of the remote counties (suppose the Welsh counties) that even the custos rotulorum may be tinctured with the local prejudices? It should seem there could be no harm, rather than there should be a gap in the execution of the act, in substituting the Lord Chancellor to the custos rotulorum, in the same manner as he is substituted to the sessions.

Section VIII. gives the sessions the power of changing their committee-men from year to year: also of supplying vacancies at any time when they may happen.

Observations.—For conformity’s sake, might not this latter power, in default of the sessions, be given to the custos rotulorum? and, (if such an addition were to be adopted) in his default, to the Lord Chancellor?

Section IX. requires the committees to appoint each a clerk and treasurer, with such salaries as they shall think reasonable, removeable at pleasure: the treasurer to give security in proportion to the sum likely to come into his hands.

Section X. appropriates the monies to be received by the committees, or their treasurer, to the uses of the act.

Section XI. appoints the place and time of the first meeting of the several committees; empowering them (after choosing their chairman, clerks, and treasurer) to adjourn to any other time and place within the same district. It then directs them, at this or any subsequent meeting, to make choice of a piece or pieces of ground to build on, one or more for each district. The orders for this purpose are to be certified in London and Middlesex to the King’s Bench, and else-where Edition: current; Page: [9] to the judges on their circuits; except that, in the Welsh district, they are to be certified, not to any of the Welsh judges, but to those of Chester: in case of their disapproval, a second order is to be made, and so toties quoties: so also if the spot pitched upon be such as cannot be purchased under the powers given by the act.* With regard to the choice of the spot, it gives some directions. The committees are required to have regard to

1. The healthiness of the situation.

2. The facility of getting water.

3. The nearness to some trading town.

4. But to avoid choosing any place within a town, if any other convenient place can be found.

5. To give the preference to a place surrounded with water, if in other respects healthy and proper.

Observations.—With regard to the places of meeting, it seems rather extraordinary, that in the Welsh district, a place so far from central as Chester should be appointed. This obliges the whole body of committee-men from Wales to travel out of their principality; and a Pembrokeshire justice, who has to traverse all North and South Wales, may have, perhaps, near two hundred miles to go before he reaches the place of his destination. This inconvemence, indeed, is open, in some measure, to a remedy, by the power given to the committees to choose the place of their adjournment; but at any rate, be the place ever so central, in so large a district, it cannot but be very remote from the abodes of the greater part of the committee-men. On this account, more especially if the Welsh district is to remain undivided, might it not be proper to allow to the committee-men, at least to such as had to travel out of their own counties, a small sum (were it no more than ten shillings a-day) to help to indemnify them for their expenses? To many a magistrate, who might, in other respects, be better qualified for the business than a richer man, the expense (to say nothing of the trouble) of making frequent journies to such a distance as he might have occasion to travel to, might be an objection sufficient to prevent his acceptance of the office. There seems, at any rate, to be much more reason for giving a salary to these committee-men, than to persons to be appointed visitors to the labour-houses; since the visitors may be taken from the neighbourhood of the house, and the committee-men must, many of them, come from a great distance. Suppose the allowance were to be sixpence a-mile (the distance to be ascertained by the oath of the traveller), and a sum not exceeding ten shillings a-day, so long as the committee continues sitting?

The directions respecting the choice of the spot are well imagined, and strongly mark the judgment and attention of the author. His ideas on this matter seem to quadrate pretty exactly with “the singular and well-directed researches” (as he styles them) of Mr. Howard, to whose merits, as a zealous and intelligent friend of human kind, it is difficult for language to do justice.

One direction is, that a preference be given to a spot surrounded with water, if it be in other respects healthy and proper. Unless the water be running water, it is not very likely to be healthy.

Section XII. appoints a nominal proprietor, to whom the ground, when purchased, is to be conveyed. This person is to be the town-clerk, for London; the clerk of the peace, for Middlesex; the clerk of assize of the circuit, for the other English districts; with a blank left for the Welsh; and for this purpose the officers in question are respectively constituted bodies corporate.

Observations.—After such a provision, might it not be necessary, or would it be superfluous, to provide that any action might be brought by the committee in the name of any of the officers therein named, without naming the person who holds the office? This is a precaution taken in some acts. The occasion, if any, which may make it necessary, is that of a vacancy happening in any of those offices, at a time when it is requisite to bring (suppose) an action of trespass, for any encroachment or other trespass committed upon the spot thus to be made the property of the public. The trespass is committed (suppose) at a juncture that does but just admit of an action’s being brought in such time as to be tried at the next assizes. The county is one of those in which the assizes are held but once a-year. To obviate this difficulty, if there be one, why might not the committee be empowered to bring any such action in their own name? in short, why might not the committee themselves be the body corporate? This would save circuity; since whatever is done by the officer above mentioned, must be by their direction, and under their controul.

Section XIII. gives a proportion for determining the size of the several houses. They are to be large enough to contain three times the average number of convicts in a year, it being supposed that each convict will continue in them three years upon an average.

It likewise gives some directions with respect to the apartments. Each house, with its appurtenances, is to contain,

  • 1. Lodging-rooms for the convicts.
  • 2. Storehouses and warehouses.
  • 3. An infirmary, with a yard adjoining.
  • 4. Several cells or dungeons. Edition: current; Page: [10]
  • 5. A chapel.
  • 6. A burying-ground.
  • 7. Apartments for the officers.

Observations.—To the above accommodations, it might, perhaps, be not amiss to add a garden, to supply the house with vegetables. The laborious part of the work might be done by the prisoners themselves, who might be employed in it, either some few of them for a constancy, or all of them occasionally. In the latter case, the privilege of being thus employed might constitute an indulgence to be given in the way of reward, as it would be an agreeable relief from their ordinary domestic labour.* It seems probable, that a part of the labour might be more economically employed in this way, than upon the ordinary business of the house; even though the prime cost of a wall to inclose the garden were taken into the account.

With regard to the “cells or dungeons,” as they are called, there are some cautions that seem highly necessary to be observed. That, for the punishment of the refractory, there should, in every such house, be some places of confinement, under the name of dungeons, seems perfectly expedient: at the same time that it is altogether inexpedient there should anywhere be any place that should partake in all respects of the nature of those pestiferous abodes.

The purposes for which dungeons seem in general to have been calculated (I mean such purposes as are Justifiable,) are two: safe custody, and terror. The first must, in all cases, and the second may, in many cases, be desirable. But in aiming at these two purposes, another highly mischievous effect has unintentionally been produced; the exclusion of fresh air, and, as one consequence of it, the exposure of the room to perpetual damps. These apartments have been contrived under ground; hence there have been no lateral outlets, but the entrance has been at top through a trap-door. By this means the air has remained almost continually unchanged; being breathed over and over again, it has soon become highly unfit for respiration, and having in a short time dissolved as much of the damp as it could take up, the remainder has continued floating without any thing to carry it off. The pernicious consequences of such a stagnation, in generating the most fatal and pestilential diseases, have been inferred from theory, and have been but too fully verified by experience and observation.

The business is, then, to make the necessary provisions for the purposes of safe custody and terror, without excluding the fresh air. To effect the first of these purposes, other means in abundance are afforded upon the face of the bill, as it stands at present (and if these be not sufficient, more might be afforded) by the structure and regimen of the prison. Some expedients relative to this design will be suggested in the course of these observations.

With regard to terror, the chief circumstance by which a dungeon is calculated to answer this purpose, is the exclusion of daylight. In a dungeon, this effect is produced by a constant and unalterable cause—the subterraneous situation of the place: but the same effect may be produced more commodiously, by means which might be applied or not, according as they are wanted, and that without excluding the fresh air. The means I am speaking of are very simple. Air travels in all directions; light only in right lines. The light, therefore, may be excluded without the air, by adapting to the window a black scuttle inflected to a right angle. If the door be made on the side opposite to the window, there will be as much draught as if the window opened directly into the air without the scuttle. Light might also be prevented from coming in at the door, by a return made to it in the same manner. By these means the prisoner’s ordinary apartment, or any other apartment, may be made as gloomy as can be desired without being unhealthful.

I do not deny but that the terrors of a dungeon may depend in some degree upon the circumstance of its being under ground. In the imaginations of the bulk of men, the circumstance of descent towards the centre of the earth is strongly connected with the idea of the scene of punishment in a future life. They depend, in some measure, likewise, upon the circumstance of stillness; and the stillness may, at the same distance from a sounding body, be made more perfect in a dungeon than in an ordinary room: the uninterrupted continuity of the walls, at the same time that it excludes fresh air and daylight, serving also to exclude sound. But I cannot look upon the first of these circumstances of terror as being of that importance, as to warrant the paying so dearly for it as must be paid by the exclusion of wholesome air, which is so apt to change a punishment, meant to be slight and temporary, into a capital one. As to the purpose of stillness, it might be answered in a nearly equal degree, by building cells (which, at any rate, should be called dungeons) at a distance from the house. If the utmost degree of stillness were thought not to be absolutely necessary to be insisted on, a man’s own lodging-room might at any time, by the contrivance above mentioned, be fitted up for the purpose. On Edition: current; Page: [11] another account, however, the lodging-rooms are not quite so answerable to the design, as a place on purpose, since something of the effect depends upon the strangeness of the place; and upon its being known to be appropriated to a penal purpose.

After all, it does not seem advisable to rest the whole of the punishment altogether upon the ground of terror, since terror is obliterated by familiarity. To make up a uniform complement of punishment, it is found necessary to have recourse to other circumstances of distress; such as the hard diet appointed by this bill. This consideration makes it the less necessary to be at any inconvenient expense in screwing the sentiment of terror up to the highest pitch.

Section XIV. directs, that as soon as a spot of ground shall have been purchased, advertisements shall be inserted by the committees in the local newspapers, for builders to give in plans, with proposals and estimates: that a plan, when agreed upon by the committee, shall be presented to the judges as before;* and that, after their approbation, signified in writing, the committee may contract with the architect, and superintend the execution.

Sections XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. and XIX. are taken up with a set of regulations, which, though very necessary, are collateral to the main purposes of the act, being employed in giving the usual system of powers requisite to effectuate purchases to be made for public purposes. With regard to these, it will be sufficient to give a very general sketch of the contents.

Section XV. removes the disabilities that proprietors of certain descriptions lie under to alien.

Section XVI. provides for the distribution of the purchase-money among the parties interested.

Section XVII. prescribes the usual course for bringing unwilling proprietors to compliance.

Section XVIII. gives the usual powers for settling disputes concerning the value of the spot, by the verdict of a jury.

Observations.—In settling the fine to be imposed on witnesses in case of contumacy, it limits it, on the side of diminution, to twenty shillings, and on the side of increase to ten pounds. This provision seems liable to an inconvenience to which fines imposed by statute are very apt to be liable, that of the punishment’s proving, in many instances. less than equivalent to the profit of the offence. A witness, we shall say, knows of a circumstance, not notorious in its nature, that tends to diminish the value of the land: or, let the circumstance be notorious, one witness alone is summoned, his design of failing not being suspected. The value in question being the value of the fee-simple, it will be somewhat extraordinary, if the difference made by such a circumstance be not more than ten pounds. In such case, the owner, indemnifying the witness, is sure of gaining more than ten pounds, with only a chance of losing a sum between ten pounds and twenty shillings. A case might be figured, though not so natural an one, in which either the witness or one of the parties might have an inducement to suppress a circumstance that tended to increase the value of the lands.

On the other side, the danger is greater but the inconvenience less. The public does not suffer so much by a charge affecting the public purse, as an individual by a loss affecting his purse to the same amount.

Would there be any improper hardship in obliging the party in this case (as he is in so many more cases of greater inconvenience to him) to be examined upon oath?

If proper evidence cannot be got at one time, it ought to be got at another. The trial, therefore, should be adjourned; or rather, to prevent private applications to the jurymen, a new trial should be appointed. Power should be given in such case to compel the appearance of the contumacious witness by arrest; and if at last he appears and is examined, the natural punishment for his offence would be the being subjected to the costs of the preceding trial; since, if any part of the charge were not borne by him by whose delinquency it was occasioned, it must fall upon somebody who was innocent. This punishment, however, ought to be open to mitigation in consideration of his circumstances; since a charge to this amount, though it might be a trifle to one man, might be ruin to another.

In order, however, to ground a warrant for the apprehension of a witness who, on a former trial, had made default, an averment upon oath should be exacted from the party on whose behalf the warrant is applied for, that in his belief the person whose testimony is required is a material witness.

In justice to the author, it may be proper, in this place, to observe, that the deficiencies, if such they should be thought, which the above proposals are calculated to supply, are not chargeable upon this bill any more than they are upon all the acts in the statute-book that have correspondent passages.

Section XIX. provides, as is usual, that the costs of such a trial shall await the verdict.

Section XX. makes a saving for dwelling-houses and pleasure-grounds.

Edition: current; Page: [12]

So much concerning the ground-plot and the buildings. Next come the provisions relative to the regimen of the labour-houses: these occupy the thirty-two following sections, all but six, from the thirtieth to the thirty-fifth inclusive, which concern the disposal of convicts, previous to the commencement of their punishment.

Section XXI. provides, that when the houses are ready, or nearly so, the committees shall appoint officers, lay in stock, and establish regulations in the cases not provided for by the bill: with power at any time to make additions and alterations: every regulation to be approved of by the judges afore mentioned.

Section XXII. enumerates the different classes of officers to be appointed for each labour-house: empowers the committees to make removals and supply vacancies, and to exact security for the due execution of the respective offices.

These officers are to be,

  • 1. Two visitors.
  • 2. One governor.
  • 3. One chaplain.
  • 4. One surgeon or apothecary.
  • 5. One storekeeper.
  • 6. One task-master.
  • 7. One gaoler.
  • 8. “Such under-keepers, and other officers as the committee shall judge necessary.”

Section XXIII. respects the salary of the governors: it directs that this salary shall be so ordered by the committee as to “bear a constant proportion to the quantity of labour performed in each house;” and arise chiefly, or, if possible, totally from that source: and this to the end that “it may become the interest as well as the duty of each governor to see that all persons under his custody be regularly and profitably employed.”

Observations.—The principle here laid down as the ground of the above provision is an excellent lesson to legislators, and is of more use in that view, than, from its seeming obviousness when announced, it might at first appear to be. It is owing to the neglect of it, that we hear such frequent complaints of the inexecution of the laws—a misfortune ordinarily charged to the account of individuals, but which ought in fact to be charged upon the laws themselves. The direction here given is a happy application of that principle. It is by strokes like these that genius and penetration distinguish themselves from shallowness and empiricism. The means that are employed to connect the obvious interest of him whose conduct is in question, with his duty, are what every law has to depend on for its execution. A legislator, who knows his business, never thinks it finished while any feasible expedient remains untried, that can contribute to strengthen this connexion. The Utopian speculator unwarrantably presumes, that a man’s conduct (on which side soever his interest lie) will quadrate with his duty, or vainly regrets that it will not so.

The object in view in it, we see, is partly economical and partly moral: that such a profit be drawn from the labour of the convicts as may altogether, or at least in part, compensate the expense of the establishment; and that the morals of the convicts may be improved by a habit of steady and well-directed industry. The means by which it aims at the attainment of this object, are the giving to the person who has the government of the convicts, an interest in causing the labour to be thus applied. This, as far as it goes, is excellent, but perhaps there are means by which the power applied to produce labour might receive a still further increase. This power can operate no farther than as it comes home to the persons whose labour is in question. These persons are the convicts. Giving the governor an emolument in proportion to the labour they exert, it is expected, will cause them to exert more labour than they would otherwise: why? because the governor will employ such means as he has in his hands to induce them to exert it. These means must be either punishment or reward, these being the only certain inducements by which one man can influence the conduct of another. Of these two inducements, punishment is the most obvious, and at first view, the least costly to him who is to apply them. Taken singly, however, it is not always the most efficacious, nor in the end the most economical. The quantity of work done will depend upon the ability of the workmen; the quantity of work which a task-master can exact by dint of punishment, will depend upon the apparent ability of the workmen. Now, if the apparent ability of the workmen were always equal to the real, punishment alone might be sufficient to extract from him all the labour he can exert. But this is not the case: a man can always suppress, without possibility of detection, a great part of the ability he actually possesses, and stifle in embryo all the further stock of ability he might have possessed in future. To extract, therefore, all the labour that can be got from him, it is necessary to apply reward in aid of punishment; and not only to punish him for falling short of the apparent measure of his ability, but to reward him for exceeding it. Thus it is, that the course which recommends itself to sentiment, as the most humane, approves itself to reason as the most useful.

It seems, therefore, as if it might be an useful supplement to the above provision, if the convicts themselves were to be allowed some profit, in proportion to the produce of Edition: current; Page: [13] their own labour. This profit should be the gross profit, because that depends upon themselves; not the clear profit, because that depends upon the economy of the governor. Such a provision would have a double good effect—on the welfare of the public at large, in making their labour more productive, and on their own happiness, by making them take a pleasure in their business.

It is to be observed, however, that this regulation can have effect only in the case where the produce of the labour of one man can be distinguished from that of the labour of another. From a passage in section 27th, it looks as if the notion of the author were, that it could be done in all kinds of manufactures. But this, I fear, is hardly the case. If not, would it or would it not be worth while to restrict the employment of the convicts to such manufactures in which it could be done? Where it cannot, the profit that each man can reap from his own labour will be lessened in proportion as the number of his comrades is increased. To illustrate this,

By the Day. By the Week.
Let the value of the gross produce of each man’s labour be, upon an average, 6d. 3s.
Let the profit allowed him be one-sixth, 1d. 6d.
If he has five comrades, whose work is blended indistinguishably with his own, so that there are six persons in all to share the profit of his labour, his share will be but one-sixth of that one-sixth, that is, ⅙ of 1d. 1d.

He shares, it is true, in the profit upon their labour; but over this he has not that command that he has over his own. He knows, therefore, that he cannot depend upon it: if he could depend upon it, it would not be worth his while to exert his own.

A question that occurs here is, in what manner shall the workmen be let in to participate of the profits? Shall he be enjoined a certain task without profit, and then be allowed the whole profit upon the overplus? or, shall he be enjoined a less task, and then be allowed a share only in the profit upon the overplus? or, shall he be allowed a share, but of course a less share, upon every part of the produce of his labour, be it less or more? All these three expedients appear to be practised in different foreign work-houses, the first (or possibly the second) in the great house of correction at Ghent;* the second, in the house of correction at Delft in Holland; the third, in the first great house of correction in Hamburgh. The first, however, is liable to this objection: if the task be such, as any man of the least degree of adroitness can perform, it must, to some of the most adroit, be a very slight one: to such persons the reward will be a very lavish one; more, certainly, than is necessary, perhaps more than is expedient. If it be such as requires more natural adroitness than falls to the share of every body, some will be altogether excluded from the reward. The second expedient, too, will, in a greater or less degree, be liable to the one or the other of these objections. The third is free from both: this, therefore, seems to be the preferable one of the three.

As to the making the emoluments of the governor bear a constant proportion to the quantity of labour, the best way seems to be, to give him so much per cent. upon the produce of it, at the same time insuring it not to fall short of such or such a sum; suppose one hundred pounds a-year. The sum it is thus insured at must, on the one hand, be as much as is requisite to induce a competent person to undertake the charge: on the other hand, it must not be so much as appears likely to come near the probable profit that might be made from the percentage upon the produce of the labour. If this profit were to be less than the salary allowed in lieu of it, or indeed, if it were but little more, it would not make it worth his while to bestow the trouble it might take him to improve that fund to the best advantage.

Section XXIV. gives power to the committees to “increase, diminish, discontinue, or vary the number of officers,” with the approbation of the judges as before; “except by taking away or discontinuing the offices of

  • “1. Visitor.
  • 2. Governor.
  • 3. Chaplain.
  • 4. Surgeon or Apothecary.”

Observations.—Possibly the meaning might have been more clearly expressed by giving the power to suppress any of the officers mentioned in section 22d, (except as herein is excepted) or create any new ones, or alter the number of officers in each office. Thus ample, at least, I take the powers to have been, that were meant to be conferred.

Section XXV. establishes the economical powers of the governor.

1. It constitutes him a body corporate.

2. It empowers him to contract for the articles wanted in the house: to wit,

  • 1. For clothing, diet, and other necessaries, for the use of the convicts.
  • 2. For implements and materials of any manufacture they may be employed in.

3. It empowers him to carry on such manufacture, and to sell the produce.

4. It empowers him to draw on the treasurers of the several counties included within Edition: current; Page: [14] the district, for the amount of the above expenses.

5. Also for the other expenses of the house, under the following heads, viz.

  • 1. Salaries.
  • 2. Wages.
  • 3. Coroner’s fees.
  • 4. Funeral charges.
  • 5. Repairs.
  • 6. Other necessaries in general.

6. It empowers him to draw for the first quarter in advance: such draught being allowed by the committee, and countersigned by their clerk.

7. Lastly. Whatever monies he receives as above, it enjoins him to apply to the purposes for which they are issued.

Observations.—It could hardly have escaped the notice of the author, to what a degree the power of making these contracts lies open to abuse; and yet, upon the face of the clause now before us, this power is committed solely to the governor, without any express reference to the committee for their concurrence. The danger, however, is not altogether unprovided against. They have a general power of displacing him; and the dependence seems to have been upon their availing themselves of that power to exercise an occasional negative upon these contracts, or to make such general regulations as they should deem requisite to obviate the abuse.

Section XXVI. proportions the sum to be drawn for upon each county, &c. within the district, to the average number of the convicts, as declared in section 8.* Disputes concerning the proportions, it refers to the judges, as before, whose determination it makes final.

Section XXVII. prescribes the accounts that are to be kept by the governor, storekeeper, and task-master.

1. The governor is directed to enter into a book “all accounts touching the maintenance of the house, and the convicts therein.”

2. The governor and storekeeper are each to keep separate accounts of all the stock brought into the house.

3. The storekeeper is to deliver out the stock to the task-master, and take receipts from him.

4. The task-master is to deliver out the work to the convicts.

5. The task-master is to keep accounts of the quantities daily worked by them respectively.

6. He is to return the materials, when wrought, to the storekeeper, taking his receipt for them.

7. He is to dispose of the wrought materials, with the privity of the governor, to whom he is to pay the produce; for which the governor is declared to be accountable to the committee.

8. The governor and storekeeper are to keep separate accounts of the materials wrought and disposed of, under the following heads:—

  • 1. Species and quantity of the materials in question.
  • 2. For what sold.
  • 3. When sold.
  • 4. To whom sold.

Section XXVIII. directs the manner in which the above accounts shall be audited by the committee:—

1. They are to examine the entries, to compare them with the vouchers, to verify them by the oaths of the governor and storekeeper, and upon that to allow or disallow them.

2. An account, if allowed, is to be signed by two or more members of the committee.

3. If the balance should be in favour of the governor, they are to pay him by draughts in the manner above set forth: if against him, they may either leave it in his hands, or order it to be paid over as they think proper.

Section XXIX. empowers the committee, in case of their suspecting fraud, to examine upon oath any persons whatsoever respecting the above accounts; and in case of any false entry, or fraudulent omission, or other fraud, or any collusion of an officer or servant with any other officer or servant, or with any other person, to dismiss the officer or servant, and appoint another: or, if they think fit, to indict the offender at the next sessions of the peace for the place wherein the house is situated: and it limits the punishment to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both; saving the right of action to any party injured.

Observations.—With respect to the punishment of officers, this section, when compared with section 24, seems not altogether free from ambiguity. After empowering the committee to dismiss officers for misbehaving in any of the manners specified, it goes on and subjoins, in the disjunctive, another mode of punishment: they may be dismissed, it says, “or” indicted. It looks, from hence, as if it were not the intention of the author, that an offender of the description in question should be punished by dismission and indictment both; yet this he might be, notwithstanding, under the general power of dismission at pleasure, given by section 24; unless this section be understood pro tanto to repeal the other.

It may be said, by way of reconciling the two sections, that the sense is, that the offender may, if thought proper, be dismissed, or he may be indicted; but that if he has been dismissed, he is not to be indicted. But suppose him to have been indicted first, Edition: current; Page: [15] and perhaps convicted, may he, or may he not then afterwards be dismissed?

As to the quantum of punishment allowed to be inflicted upon indictment, this may, perhaps, be liable, though in a much inferior degree, to the objection against a correspondent provision stated in section 18.

With respect to the jurisdiction within which the indictment is to be preferred, may there not be some danger in confining it to the sessions of the peace for the very place within which the house is situated? Suppose the delinquent to be a governor, and the house to be situated in a small town, such as Warwick or Wells.* the house at Warwick is calculated for 118 convicts; that at Wells for 126. The contracts for the maintenance of the house are all to be made by the governor: might not this privilege give him a considerable degree of influence among the grand jurymen for such small places as those towns? There are no separate sessions, indeed, for Wells or Warwick; so that the grand jurymen at the sessions there, would come out of the body of the county: but it might very well happen, on any given occasion, that the grand juries for the respective counties might, the greater part of them, come out of those towns; and the towns of Lincoln, Norwich, Durham, York, Gloucester, Worcester, Exeter, and Chester, all of them places wherein the committees are to meet, and within which, therefore, labour-houses are likely enough to be situated, have all separate sessions of their own. The houses, indeed, are directed not to be “within any town, if any other convenient place can be found;” that is, not encompassed with buildings; but this may not everywhere hinder their being within the jurisdiction; nor is the direction peremptory; and they are recommended to be near a town, to wit, a town of trade. The danger, certainly, is not very great; but it may be obviated without difficulty. All that is necessary is, to empower the committee, if they think fit, to prefer the indictment in any adjoining county at large; or in London or Middlesex, if the district be in the home circuit.

Section XXX. declares for what offences, and for what terms, convicts may be committed to these houses. These are

For petty larceny, { any term not exceeding two years.
For offences punishable by transportation, { for 7 years, { any term not exceeding 5 years, nor less than 1 year,
{ for 14 years, { any term not exceeding 7 years.

Offenders are to be sent to the houses as soon as the committee certifies to the judges, as before, that the house is ready to receive them.

Section XXXI. empowers the several courts, in the meantime, until the labour-houses are made ready, to commit offenders to the county bridewells, enjoining the justices in sessions to fit up those places for the “temporary reception, safe custody, employment, and due regulation of the offenders” that are to be sent there: and it declares that for such time the places in question shall be deemed labour-houses, for all the purposes within the meaning of this act.

Section XXXII. is confined to male convicts. It empowers courts to commit offenders of the male sex to work upon the Thames, or upon any other river that may be fixed upon for that purpose by an order of council. These are to work under the direction of a superintendent: to be appointed, for the Thames, by the justices of Middlesex; for any other river, by the justices of such adjoining counties as shall be fixed upon by the privy council.

The terms for which they may be committed are } not to be less than { 1 year, } nor to exceed { 7 years.

The provisions of this section are in the preambular part of it declared to be designed “for the more severe and effectual punishment of atrocious and daring offenders.”

Observations.—The confinement and labour upon the Thames is looked upon, it appears from this, as being severer than the confinement and labour is at present in the county bridewells, or is expected to be in the labour-houses in question. It is not expressly referred to the option of the courts, which of these two species of hard labour or confinement they will order a man to: but as, by separate clauses, they are empowered to order a convict of the description in question to each, and not peremptorily enjoined to order him to either; it follows of necessity, that it was meant they should have that option. The preambular words above quoted being too loose to operate in the way of command, can be intended only for direction.

With regard to the superintendent under whose management the Thames convicts are to be, it speaks of him as one who is to be appointed by the Middlesex justices. Now, the present act, under which the present superintendent has been appointed, is, by the last section of the bill, to be repealed. This being the case, it looks as if a fresh appointment Edition: current; Page: [16] of the same or some other person to be superintendent would be necessary, unless some slight alteration were made in the wording of this clause.

Section XXXIII. extends the provisions respecting convicts sentenced to transportation, to capital convicts pardoned on that condition: and it allows and enjoins any one judge, before whom the offender was tried, upon a written notification of his Majesty’s mercy, given by a secretary of state, to allow the offender the benefit of a conditional pardon, as if it were under the great seal.

Section XXXIV, proscribes the method in which an offender is to be conveyed from the place of sentence to the place of punishment, together with the documents by which the right of conveying him thither, and keeping him there, is to be established.

Upon the making of any order for the commitment of an offender to hard-labour, a certificate is to be given by the clerk of the court to the sheriff or goaler who has him in custody.

In this certificate are to be specified,

  • 1. The Christian name of the offender.
  • 2. His surname.
  • 3. His age.
  • 4. His offence.
  • 5. The court in which he was convicted.
  • 6. The term for which he is ordered to hard-labour.

Immediately after the receiving such certificate, the gaoler is to cause the offender to be conveyed to the place of punishment, and to be delivered, together with the certificate, as the case is, to the governor or superintendent, or “such person or persons as such governor or superintendent shall appoint:” and the person who receives him is to give a receipt in writing, under his hand: which receipt is declared to be a sufficient discharge to the person who delivers him. This certificate, “the governor or superintendent, or other person or persons to whom such offender shall be so delivered,” is required “carefully to preserve.”

Observations.—With respect to the words, “such person or persons as such governor or superintendent shall appoint,” I doubt some little difficulty may arise. Does the passage mean any person in general acting under the governor or superintendent? any person employed by them as a servant in the discharge of the duties of their office? or does it mean, that some one particular person or persons should be appointed by them for this particular purpose; so that a delivery made to any other person in their service should not be good? On the one hand, it is not every person who may be occasionally employed in the service, whom it would be safe to trust with such a charge: on the other hand, it might be attended with a good deal of inconvenience, if upon any occasion the governor or superintendent, and any one person respectively appointed by them for this purpose, should by any accident be both absent, or disabled by illness. A remedy for both inconveniences may be the directing the governor to give standing authorities for this purpose in writing, to such a number of his servants, as may obviate any danger there might be of their being all out of the way at the same time. In such case, there could be no inconvenience in making it necessary to the discharge of him who is to deliver the prisoner, that he who is to receive him shall have produced and shown him such authority.

Section XXXV. provides for the fees and expenses of conveyance. The clerk of the court, on granting the certificate, and the sheriff or gaoler, on delivering the offender, are to have the same fees as would respectively have been due to them, had he been “sentenced to” transportation.

The expense of those fees, and the other expenses of conveyance, are to be borne by the jurisdiction over which the court presides; and are to be paid by the clerk of the court, upon an order made by the general sessions of the peace for the jurisdiction.

Section XXXVI. appoints, in general terms, the powers a governor or superintendent, or persons acting under them, are to have, and the punishments they are to be liable to in case of misbehaviour: those powers and these punishments it declares to be the same as are incident to the office of a sheriff or gaoler.

Section XXXVII. gives directions respecting the species of work in which the convicts are to be employed. For this purpose it marks out two classes of employments, correspondent to so many different degrees of bodily strength. Those whose strength is in the first degree, whether of the one sex or the other, it destines to labour of the “hardest and most servile kind:” those whose strength is in a lower degree, to “less laborious employments:” and in determining whether an offender shall be deemed to come under one of these classes or another, it directs that the three circumstances of health, age, and sex, be all taken into consideration.

Of each of these classes of employment it gives examples. Of the hardest and most servile kind it proposes,

  • 1. Treading in a wheel.
  • 2. Drawing in a capstern for turning a mill, or other machine or engine.
  • 3. Beating hemp.
  • 4. Rasping logwood.
  • 5. Chopping rags.
  • 6. Sawing timber.
  • 7. Working at forges.
  • 8. Smelting.
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Of the less laborious class, it instances:—

  • 1. Making ropes.
  • 2. Weaving sacks.
  • 3. Spinning yarn.
  • 4. Knitting nets.

Of these and other such employments, it leaves it to the committees to choose such as they shall deem most conducive to the profit, and consistent with the convenience, of the district.

Section XXXVIII. regulates the lodgment of the offenders.

1. The males are at all times to be kept “separate from the females; without the least communication on any pretence whatsoever.”

2. Each offender is in all cases to have a separate room to sleep in.

3. Each offender, as far as the nature of his employment will admit, is to work apart from every other.

4. Where the nature of the employment requires two persons to work together, the room they work in is directed to be of “suitable dimensions.”

5. Such two persons shall not continue together but during the hours of work.

6. Nor shall the same two persons work together for more than three days successively.

7. If the nature of the work requires “many” to be employed together, “a common work-room or shed” may be allotted them.

8. But in this case the governor, or somebody under him, “shall be constantly present to attend to their behaviour.”

9. If the work require instruction, instructors shall be provided, who shall be paid by the committee.

It likewise gives some directions concerning the dimensions and structure of the lodging-rooms.

1. They are not to exceed in { length { twelve feet.
{ breadth { eight feet.
{ height { eleven feet.

2. They are to have no window within six feet of the floor.

Observations.—Nothing can be better contrived than this little string of regulations. They appear to be such as cannot but be conducive in the highest degree to the two great purposes of safe custody and reformation. They involve, it is true, a very considerable degree of expense; but perhaps there is no case in which there is more to be said in behalf of a liberal supply.

With regard, indeed, to the first of the above restraints, this, it must be confessed, is of itself, in some cases, a pretty severe, and, upon the whole, rather an unequal punishment. The amorous appetite is in some persons, particularly in the male sex, so strong as to be apt, if not gratified, to produce a serious bad effect upon the health; in others it is kept under without difficulty. On the score of punishment, therefore, this hardship, could it be avoided, would, or account of its inequality, be ineligible. Under a religion which, like the Mahometan or Gentoo, makes no account of the virtue of continence, means perhaps might be found, not inconsistent with the peace of the society, by which these hardships might be removed. But the Christian religion, at least according to the notions entertained of it in Protestant countries, requires the temporal governor to put an absolute negative upon any expedients of this sort. Since, then, the gratification of this desire is unavoidably forbidden, the best thing that can be done is to seclude the parties as much as possible from the view of every object that can have a tendency to foment it. On this account, the first of these regulations is as strongly recommended by humanity as a means of preserving the quiet of each individual convict, as it is by policy as a means of preserving the peace of the whole community of them at large. Happily, the dispositions of nature in this behalf second, in a considerable degree, the dispositions of the legislaton. Hard labour, when not compensated by nourshing and copious diet, has a strong tendency to diminish the force of these desires, whether by diverting the attention, or by diminishing the irritability of the nervous system, or by weakening the habit of body: and the desire, when the habit of gratifying it is broken off, subsides, and becomes no longer troublesome.

With regard to the size of the rooms, this we see has limits set to it on the side of augmentation; on the side of diminution, it has none. This partial limitation, I must confess, I do not very well perceive the reason of. Errors, if at all, seem more to be apprehended on the side of diminution than on that of augmentation. That the rooms should not be less than of a certain size, is conducive to health. The danger seems to be, lest the committees should, out of economy, be disposed to put up with narrower dimensions. If the sums provided by the bill out of the national fund are not sufficient, the deficiency, we may remember, is to be provided for by the counties.

Section XXXIX. prescribes the times of work.

1. The days of work are, unless in case of ill health, to be all days in the year: except

  • 1. All Sundays.
  • 2. Christmas-day.
  • 3. Good-Friday.

2. The hours of work, as many as daylight and the season of the year will permit, including two intervals; to wit,

1. For breakfast Half an hour.
2. For dinner One hour.
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3. At the close of the day, when workingtime is over, such of the materials and implements as admit of removal, are to be removed from the work-rooms to places proper for their safe custody, there to be kept till it come round again.

Observations.—With respect to the hours of work, the duration of daylight, if taken for the sole measure, (as one would suppose it to be by this passage in the bill) would, I doubt, be found rather an inconvenient one. In the depth of winter, the time of working can scarcely begin so early as eight in the morning, nor continue so late as four in the afternoon. In the height of summer, it may begin earlier than three in the morning, and it may continue later than nine in the evening; but if from eight till four, that is, eight hours, be enough, from three to nine, that is, sixteen hours, were even nothing more than the duration of the labour to be considered, is surely too much. But labour of the same duration and intensity is severer in summer than in winter, heat rendering a man the less able to endure it. The better way, therefore, seems to be, if not to make the time of working longer in winter than in summer, at least to make it of an equal length. As eight hours, or the least time of daylight, therefore, is evidently too short a time, this will make it necessary to have recourse to lamps or candles. As the walls and floors will of course be of brick or stone, without any combustible linings, these artificial lights can scarcely be attended with any danger.

Whatever be the hours of labour fixed upon as most proper for an average, there are some among the employments above mentioned,* that will probably be found too laborious for a man to be confined to during the whole time. In such a case, either he must remain without any thing to do, or employed in some kind of work so much less laborious as to serve as a kind of relaxation from the other. The latter course seems beyond comparison the best. On this account, it seems as if it would be of advantage that no person should be confined exclusively to the most laborious of the classes of employments above specified; but that such offenders as were destined principally to an employment of that class should, for some part of the day, be turned over to one of the sedentary kind. On the other hand, neither would it be so well, perhaps, that offenders of the least robust class should be confined wholly to employments purely sedentary. The relief of the former and the health of the latter would, it should seem, be best provided for by a mixture of the laborious and the sedentary. By this means, the time of the convicts might, it should seem, be better filled up, and the total quantity of their labour rendered more productive

The great difficulty is, how to fill up their time on Sundays: for, with regard to men in general, more particularly to persons of this stamp, the danger always is, that if their time be not filled up, and their attention engaged, either by work or by innocent amusement, they will betake themselves either to mischief or to despondency. Divine service, it is true, is appointed to be performed, and that twice-a-day; but that, according to the ordinary duration of it, will not fill up above four hours; that is, about a quarter of the day.

To fill up the remainder, four expedients present themselves:—1. One is to protract the time of rest for that day, which may be done either by letting them lie longer, or sending them to bed earlier.

Another is, to protract the time of meals.

A third is, to protract the time of divine service.

A fourth is, to furnish them with some other kind of employment.

The two first are commonly enough practised by the working class of people at large who are at liberty; but when put both together, they will not go any great way.

The time of attendance at church might be lengthened in two ways: 1. By adding to the ordinary service a standing discourse or discourses, particularly adapted to the circumstances of the congregation. This might consist, 1st, of prayers, 2dly, of thanksgivings, neither of which, however, could with propriety be very long; and 3dly, of a discourse composed of moral instructions and exhortations. The instructions and exhortations would naturally have two objects: the conduct of the hearers, 1st, during the continuance of their punishment: 2dly, after their restoration to society

2. Another way of adding to the church service is by music. This will, at any rate, be a very agreeable employment to many, and, if properly managed, may be a very useful one to all; even to those who have no natural relish for music in itself. The influence which church music has over the generality of men, in bringing them to a composed and serious turn of mind, is well known. The music might be either vocal only, or assisted by an organ. In either case, the vocal part might, with a little instruction, be performed by the congregation themselves, as it is at the Magdalen, and other public foundations.

3. As to other employments, walking (in as far as their limits will permit them) might go some way towards filling up their time. This would be an additional use for the garden proposed in the observations to section 13. On this occasion, to prevent insurrections and cabals, the convicts might be connected two and two together; a slight Edition: current; Page: [19] chain, not heavy enough to incommode them by its weight, might answer the purpose. Each offender would by this means be a clog and a spy upon his companion. In this view, the idea adopted in section 38, with regard to the manner of working, might be pursued, so as that the same two persons should not be coupled together two successive days; nor should it be known before-hand, what two persons are to be together. To prevent this, the names should be drawn out every day by lot. By this means, supposing an offender had succeeded so far in a project of escape or mischief, as to engage some one of his comrades to join with him, he could not, for a long time afterwards, unless by a very extraordinary turn of chance, resume the conversation without the privity of two others, whose dispositions could not be known before-hand. If the expedient of a garden were to be employed, such an arrangement would have a farther good effect, in rendering it more difficult for them to wander out of bounds, and do mischief to the cultivated part of it.

The interruptions of bad weather, and the shortness of the day, at any other time than the height of summer, would still leave a considerable part of their time which could not be filled up in this manner; either, therefore, they must be permitted to employ themselves in some other manner, or they must be compelled to absolute inaction. They cannot, as other persons of the working class do, employ themselves on those days in visiting their friends.

They may employ themselves, it is true, in reading the Bible or other books of piety: but there will be a great many who cannot read; and of those who can, many will have so little inclination, that on pretence of reading, they will do nothing.

It is to little purpose to issue directions, which, in the nature of them, furnish no evidence of their having been complied with. The not attending to this, is a common stumbling-block to superficial reformers. The evidence of a man’s having complied with a direction to work, is the work he has done: this may be judged of at a glance. But what is the evidence of a man’s having employed himself in reading? His giving a good account of what he has read. Unquestionably: but such an one as it would be to little purpose to think of exacting, for, though his attention has been diligent, his memory may be weak. Besides, who is to Judge? who could find time enough to catechise such a multitude? It would require no small number of schoolmasters to turn such an establishment into a school.

Upon the whole, I can see no better expedient at present, than that of permitting them (not obliging them, but permitting them) to betake themselves to some easy sedentary employment, such as knitting, spinning, or weaving, that might afford them a small profit. This profit, if made their own, would make the employment pleasant to them. Devotion, it is true, is better on such a day than industry; but industry is better on every day than total idleness, that is, than despondency or mischief. The necessity in this case seems at least as strong as that which has induced the legislature to permit the practice of certain trades on the day in question, and which is universally understood to authorize persons of all descriptions to pursue most of their household occupations. It were hard if an institution, confessedly no original part of the religion we profess, but only adopted into it by early practice, and in later times sanctioned by human authority, must, at all events, be permitted to oppose the main ends of religion, innocence and peace.

I speak all along under correction, and what I propose is only upon the supposition that no other means can be found of filling up their time in a manner more suitable to the day.

With regard to the making the windows not less than six feet above the floor, this regulation is also recommended by Mr. Howard. His design in it, I cannot find he has anywhere mentioned; I suppose it to be to prevent the convicts from looking out. The prospects or moving scenes, whatever they might be, which the windows, if lower, might open to their view, might serve to distract their attention from their work. This privation may be considered in the light of an independent punishment, as well as in that of a means of insuring their subjection to the other.

Besides this, Mr. Howard is strenuous against glass windows: he would have nothing but open grating. In this case, the height of the windows would be a means, in some measure, of sheltering the inhabitants from the wind, though, on the other hand, it would expose them more to rain. I know not, however, that he has been anywhere explicit in giving his reasons for reprobating these conveniences.

One reason may be the insuring a continual supply of fresh air; but this does not seem conclusive. In apartments, indeed, so crowded and ill-contrived as many of those he had occasion to visit, the windows, being glazed, might, by accident, be attended with bad effects; for I think he complains, in many places, of the closeness of such rooms, owing, as it seems, either to the windows not being made to open, or to the inattention or ignorance of the gaoler or prisoners in not opening them. But under the excellent regulations provided for these houses, the apartments never will be crowded; they will not be crowded more than those of a private house; Edition: current; Page: [20] and in a private house it never surely was understood to be necessary, or even of use to health, that there should be nothing but grates for windows. If the convicts were to eat in a common room, the setting open the doors and windows for an hour and a-half, (which is the time allotted them for meals,) would be quite sufficient for the purpose of ventilation.

Another reason for having nothing but grating may be the contributing to give a gloomy and distressful appearance to the outside of the prison. This reason, as far as it applies, seems to be a very good one. But it applies only to the front of the house; for this is all that need, or indeed that ought, to be exposed to the eyes of passengers. The apartments thus exposed might be destined for those whose labour was the hardest, and whose treatment, upon the whole, was designed to be the severest; or the whole or a great part might be taken up with common working-rooms, not made use of for lodging-rooms.

Section XL. regulates the articles of diet and apparel. For food the convicts are to have

1. Bread, and any coarse meat, “or other inferior food.”

2. For drink, water or small beer.

3. The apparel is to be coarse and uniform, with certain obvious marks or badges on it. The declared purposes of these marks are, 1st, to humiliate the wearer; 2dly, to prevent escapes.

4. The articles under the above heads are to be ordered in such a manner as the “committee shall from time to time appoint.”

5. No offender is to be permitted to have any other food, “drink, or clothing, than such as shall be so appointed.”

Persons wilfully furnishing him with any articles of the above kind, other than what shall have been so appointed, are to forfeit not more than £10, nor less than 40s.

Observations.—The expedient of marking the apparel is well imagined, and quadrates with the practice of several foreign countries.* It is designed, we see, to answer two purposes: 1st, that of a separate punishment, by holding up the wearer in an ignominious light; 2dly, that of safe custody, to ensure the continuance of the whole punishment together. The first of these purposes it may be made to answer as completely as any other that can be proposed: with respect to the latter, it will readily be acknowledged not to be perfectly efficacious.

Marks employed for this purpose, may be either temporary or perpetual. Against perpetual marks, in every case, then, except where the confinement is meant to be perpetual, there is this conclusive objection, that they protract a great part of the punishment beyond the time that was meant to be prescribed to it. Temporary marks may either be extraneous or inherent. The marks here proposed are evidently of the former kind. These, so long as they continue, are very efficacious means of detection, and may be made more palpable than any that are inherent. They serve very well, therefore, as obstacles to an escape during the first moments; in short, until such time as the fugitive can by force or favour procure fresh apparel. But if he is once housed among his friends or confederates, the use of them is at au end. If his person be not known, he may go about boldly like another man.

Inherent marks seem never hitherto to have been thought of. These may be produced by either mechanical means or chemical.

Instances of mechanical means are the partial shaving of the head, or of the beard, or the chin, or mouth; or the shaving of one eye-brow. But the mark made by the partial shaving of a part of the face, of which the whole is usually kept shaved, is as soon got rid of as any mark that is but extraneous: besides that, it is inapplicable to boys and women. The mark made by the shaving of one eye-brow seems to promise better; but it is not free from all objections. In the first place, it is not absolutely a sure one. Some persons have naturally so little hair on their eye-brows, that, if the whole of it were taken off from both, it might not be missed: and artificial eye-brows are said to have been made of mouse-skin, or in other ways, and that so natural, as not to be detected without previous suspicion. In the next place, there is some danger that a mark continually renewed, as this must be, by repeated shavings, would be in some degree perpetual. If the same eye-brow were to be constantly subjected to the operation, the hair might be so thickened as to appear different from the other eye-brow. If sometimes one eye-brow and sometimes the other were to be shaved, there must frequently be times when the growth of them will be alike, and the distinction no longer apparent. As far, then, as it goes, the best expedient seems to be the keeping them constantly both shaved.

Instances of chemical means of producing marks are washes applied to the forehead, or to one or both cheeks, or, in short, to the whole face, so as to discolour it. Chemistry furnishes many washes of this sort. Of several of these I have often undesignedly made trial upon myself. Various metallic solutions produce this effect in a state so diluted as prevents any objection on the score of expense. The stain lasts without Edition: current; Page: [21] any fresh application, as long as the stratum of skin which it pervades; that is, to the best of my recollection, about a week. No other washes have ever yet been found to discharge it.

Marks of this kind, we see, cannot be put off like those of the former; nor, if made as extensive as they may be, can they be concealed without such a covering as would be almost equally characteristic with the mark itself. When the term of punishment was so near being expired, that it could manifestly not be worth while to run the risk of an escape, they might be disused. For greater security, they might be so shaped, perhaps, as to express the surname of the offender, the first letter of his christian name, and the name of the place in which the labour-house he belonged to was situated.

One great advantage of these permanent marks with respect to the offender, is, that they would render the use of chains less necessary. The convicts upon the Thames, in consequence of repeated escapes, are made to work constantly in fetters.

By Section XLI. officers and servants belonging to the house are specially restrained from contravening the regulations established in the preceding section Upon any such delinquency the offender is to be suspended by the governor forthwith the governor is to report him to the visitors, and the visitors to the committee at their next meeting. The committee is to inquire upon oath, and, if found guilty, to punish him by

  • 1. Forteiture of his place;
  • 2. Or fine, not more than ten pounds;
  • 3. Or imprisonment, for not more than six months.
  • 4. Or any number of such punishments in conjunction.

An exception is made with regard to any diet or liquors ordered, in case of illness, by the surgeon or apothecary.

Observations.—The fine in this and the preceding section is not liable to the objection made to the like provision in section 29. The profit of the offence can never, in any shape, come nearly equal to the greatest quantum of the fine. Let the offences in the two cases be compared, it will be seen how much greater the temptation is in the latter than in the former.

The regulations in this and the preceding section, about not punishing the convicts with any extra articles of consumption, might need to be a little altered, if what I have ventured to propose concerning the allowing them a part of their earnings* were to be adopted. These earnings must either be hoarded up for them, to be given them at their discharge, or allowed them to be spent. In the first case, the danger is, lest an advantage so distant should not, in their imprudent minds, have influence enough to operate as an inducement. “I may be dead before then,” a man may say, “and what use will all the money be of to me? besides, if I am alive, how can I be sure that I shall get it? What need have I, then, to punish myself with working more than I am obliged to do?” I should not, therefore, expect any very general or considerable good effect from such an allowance, without the liberty of spending it, or at least a part of it, at present. The business, then, would be, to determine the articles in which they might be allowed to spend it. Even drink, so it be not any of those drinks that are known commonly by the name of spirituous liquors, need not be absolutely excluded: but, for very good reasons, which are strongly insisted on by Mr. Howard, no profit upon the drink should be allowed to the governor, or any persons under him: or else (what would come nearly to the same thing) if there were a profit allowed upon that article, it should not be greater, nor indeed so great, as the profit to be allowed upon the other articles among which they were to be permitted to take their choice. The smallness of their fund would probably of itself be sufficient to limit their consumption within the bounds of sobriety. If not, the quantity of drink of each sort, which any one man should be allowed to purchase, might be expressly limited. The circumstances of their being so much apart from one another, and so much under the eye of their inspectors, would obviate the difficulty there would be otherwise in carrying such a limitation into effect.

Section XLII. makes provision for the equipment of the offender upon his discharge. Upon his commitment, the clothes he brings with him are to be cleaned, ticketed, and laid up. Upon his discharge, they are to be delivered back to him, together with such additional clothing as the visitors shall think proper. A sum of money is also to be allowed him for his immediate subsistence, to the amount of not more than five pounds, nor less than forty shillings. And if he has behaved himself well during his confinement, the visitors are to give him a certificate to that effect under their hands.

Observations.—There is something singularly characteristic in the foresight and humanity displayed in this provision. It is copied from the experimental act of 1776. After a long seclusion, the convict is once more turned adrift into society. His former connexions Edition: current; Page: [22] are by this time, perhaps, dissolved; by death, by change of abode, or by estrangement: at any rate, he is probably at a distance from them. His known delinquency and his punishment, though, after such a course of discipline, it is to be hoped it will not operate upon all persons so as to prevent their employing him, may, however, operate upon many. Meantime, if he be totally unprovided, he must either sink at once into the idleness and misery of a poor-house, or beg, or starve, or betake himself to courses similar to those which brought him to the place of punishment he is just freed from. The expedient, therefore, of giving him a temporary supply, is an highly proper one, though not so obvious as, for the credit of human sagacity and compassion, it were to be wished it were.

But supposing an offender’s behaviour to have been such as renders it improper for the visitors to give him the certificate here mentioned, what is to become of him then? Were no certificate to be given in any case, some persons might, perhaps, be induced to run the hazard of employing a convict, to whom it would not have been proper to have granted one. But when it is known that a certificate of good behaviour is granted to the generality of the convicts, the denial of such a certificate to any one amounts in fact to a certificate of the contrary. In such a case, it is not very probable that he will find employment anywhere. The supply provided for him, liberal as it is, can reprieve him only, not save him, from the above-mentioned dilemma.

In such a case, I see but two courses that can be taken. One is, to empower the committee to continue him in his confinement, till his behaviour shall have entitled him to his certificate: the other is, to enlist him by compulsion in the land or sea service. How far it would be consistent with the honour of either of those services to admit a man with such a stamp of uncancelled ignominy upon him, is more than I can take upon me to determine. At any rate, it seems hardly proper to let him rank upon a par with honest men. In the sea service, provisions being found him, his pay might very well bear to be reduced below the common level: in the land service, provisions not being allowed, the subsistence is too bare to admit of the least reduction.

It is to be hoped, indeed, that after so strict and well-regulated a course of discipline as that prescribed by the bill, there will be very few convicts to whom it will be necessary to deny the certificate in question; but it is fit that every case that can happen should be provided for.

Section XLIII. provides that the offenders shall be divided into three classes; in each of which every offender is to be ranked, during an equal part of his time: and as he advances from a prior to a subsequent one, his confinement and labour are to be gradually less and less severe. The different gradations of severity are to be settled from time to time by regulations to be made by the committee, so as not to clash with the provisions of this bill.

Observations.—This division of the convicts into classes will be examined, when we come to consider the uses that are made of it.

Section XLIV. regulates the furniture and police of the lodging-rooms.

1. Every lodging-room is to be “provided with matting for lying upon, a coverlid, and two or more coarse blankets.”

2. “Also with proper tools or instruments for their employment.”

3. No person (except as herein is excepted) is to “be permitted to go at any time into these rooms, or to see or converse with the offenders.”

4. Persons excepted are, 1. The officers and servants of the house; 2. Any person who has an order from any member of the committee.

5. At night, as soon as the time of work is over, a bell is to be rung, the doors of the rooms locked, and the lights in them put out; and from that time, till the hour of work comes round again, a watchman is to patrole over every part of the house every half-hour at least.

Observations.—Under the article of bedding, I see no mention made of sheets. Was this omission undesigned, or was it meant that they should have none? or would not the use of linen, if not absolutely necessary, at least be conducive, however, to the preservation of their health? Mr. Hume, I think, in his History, Mr. Barrington,* and, I believe, medical writers, have mentioned the use of linen as being a principal cause why the leprosy, which was once so common in this country, is now so rare.

I see no mention neither of a bedstead. Mr. Howard in general terms recommends bedsteads for health and cleanliness. A bedstead, however cold the materials (suppose iron,) will be warmer than the stone or brick floor, with only matting to cover it; for the surface of the iron in the bedstead being much less than that of the covered part of the floor, the natural warmth of the body, accumulated on the bedding, will be conducted away much less readily by the former than by the latter. At any rate, the elevation given by a bedstead will save the bedding from being trampled on, and covered Edition: current; Page: [23] with dust and dirt. It will also give access for the air to ventilate the under part of it.

Bedsteads are actually allowed to felons in many gaols.*

I see no provision made here for firing: yet some provision of this sort seems absolutely necessary, at least in extreme cold weather, for those whose employments are chiefly of the sedentary kind, and for all of them at times, when no work is done, as on Sundays. For this purpose, it is by no means necessary, nor even advisable, that there should be a fire to every room, nor between every two rooms, nor indeed that there should be in any of the rooms any fireplaces at all. The most economical way as yet in use, of generating and applying heat for this purpose, seems to be that which is practised in hot-houses, by means of flues or lateral chimnies, in which the smoke deposits its heat in its passage to the atmosphere. The fire employed in heating the bread-oven might, perhaps, be occasionally made useful in this way. I have heard it suggested, that the steam of boiling water might perhaps be applied to the purpose of heating rooms, in a method that might be more economical than that of heating them by smoke. If this expedient were employed, the coppers in which the victuals were boiled might perhaps be adapted to this purpose.

The provision for excluding promiscuous visitants seems highly eligible. In a nation, however, so jealous of every thing that savours of secresy in the exercise of coercive power, even over the most obnoxious of its members, it required no mean degree of intrepidity to propose it. I had, in truth, but little hope of seeing it proposed, much less adopted and acquiesced in, as it already is in the instance of the Thames convicts. An acquiescence so complete and general as this has been found to be, argues a greater fund of solid sense, and less sensibility to inflammatory ideas, than perhaps, before the experiment was made, could reasonably have been hoped for. This, together with many other examples to the like effect, may serve to silence at least, if not to remove, any objections that may be entertained against a measure acknowledged to be beneficial in itself, on the score of its being obnoxious to popular sentiment, unwarranted by the dictatcs of utility.

The establishment of Visitors, who are frequently to be changed, and the admission of occasional visitants by order from any member of the committees, are expedients that seem amply sufficient for obviating any real danger of abusive severity. It is surely a notion too wild to be seriously entertained, by any one who will give himself leisure to reflect, that the whole body of country magistrates, and the whole circle of their acquaintance, are likely to be tainted with the principles of aristocratic tyranny. Supposing this, against all probability, to be the case, and that any one habit of undue severity were established, any one false brother would be sufficient to betray the secrets of the confederacy, and expose it to the resentment of the public.

At the same time, it is highly expedient to give as little admittance as possible to persons of such ranks in life as are most obnoxious to the punishment inflicted in these houses. The cirumstances of secresy and seclusion give an air of mystery to the scene, which contributes greatly to enhance the terrors it is intended to impress. True it is, that the convicts, as they come to be discharged, and to mix again with society, will circulate, among persons of the same ranks in life, such accounts of what they have seen and felt, as it may be thought will be sufficient to correct any inaccuracies in the notions that may have been suggested by imagination. This, however, I take it, will not be altogether the case. Experience and ocular observation might indeed, in time, dissipate the illusion, and bring down the apparent horrors of the scene to a level with the real suffering; but in the susceptible minds of the giddy multitude, it is not mere report alone that can obliterate the influence of first impressions.

Section XLV. makes provision for communicating to these societies the benefits of religion.

1. On all Sundays, as also on Christmasday and Good-Friday, there is to be morning and evening service, with a sermon after each; at which services all the convicts (unless disabled by illness) are to be present.

2. The two sexes are to be kept at a distance from, and, by means of partitions, out of sight of, one another.

3. Of the officers and servants, such as can be spared from their employments, are likewise (unless prevented by illness) to be present.

4. The chaplain is required to visit, at their request, and empowered to visit at his own discretion, any of the offenders, sick or in health, who may stand in need of his spiritual assistance: so that his visits interfere not with their stated labours.

Observations.—It were to be wished on this occasion, if it could be done without inconvenience, that such of the convicts as may happen to be of a religion different from the established, might have the benefit of spiritual consolation in their own way. It is no answer, to say with a sneer, that the inhabitants of these houses are in little likelihood of being encumbered with religious scruples; Edition: current; Page: [24] for a total indifference to religion is by no means a necessary accompaniment to an occasional deviation from the dictates of morality; on the contrary, it is no uncommon thing to observe, in the same person, a great inattention to the essentials of morality, joined to an anxious attention to the inessentials and externals of religion. This point, however, could not be compassed without some difficulty. It would be endless to set up as many chapels as there may chance to be sects in this community. At any rate, it is not the belonging or professing to belong to any other sect, that should be allowed to excuse a man from attending the stated service; for, if this were the case, persons who cared nothing about religion would be apt to profess themselves of some dissenting sect, that, instead of going to chapel, they might spend the time in idleness. The being obliged to give such attendance would be no hardship to any, even in a religious view; for I do not believe there is at this time of day any sect which holds it sinful merely to be present at divine service performed according to the rites of the church of England.* I suppose there are few, indeed, but would even think it better to attend that service than none at all.

Jews and Catholics would be the worst off: Jews, with their continual domestic ceremonies, and Catholics with their numerous sacraments. Catholics seem, at first sight, to be without hope of remedy: a door, however, though but a narrow one, is opened for their relief, by the general power vested in the members of the committees to give orders of admission. As to Jews, I must confess, I can see no feasible way of making, in each labour-house, the provisions requisite for satisfying all their various seruples. As it happens, there seems reason (I do not know whether to say to hope, but at any rate) to believe, that of such of them as are likely to become inhabitants of these houses, there are not many on whom these scruples would sit heavy. The only expedient I can think of for the indulgence of these people is, to have one labour-house for all the convicts of this persuasion throughout the kingdom. In such case, it would be but reasonable that the whole community of Jews should be at the expense of this establishment, including the charges of conveyance. They might then have their own rabbis, and their own cooks and butchers.

The provision for the concealment of the sexes from each other has been exemplified by the practice in the Magdalen and other chapels.

In some of the larger houses, considering the number of persons, either sick or in health, who might be disposed to receive the assistance of a minister, or to whom a zealous minister might be disposed to give it, especially if these additions were to be made to the service that are proposed under section 39, a single chaplain might hardly be sufficient to go through all the duty. In such case, the contributions that might be required of occasional visitors at chapel, who are likely to become numerous, might probably provide for another chaplain.

Section 58, which relates to convicts working upon rivers, provides for the burial of such as die under confinement. I see no such provision relative to such as may die in the labour-houses. Would it not be proper to annex to each house a piece of ground to be consecrated for that purpose?

Section XLVI. makes provision for the article of health.

1. There are to be two or more yards, in which the offenders are to be permitted to take the air by turns, as their health may require, in these yards, if proper employment can be found, they are also to be permitted to work, instead of working in the house.

2. Any oflender appearing to be sick, is, upon report made by the surgeon or apothecary that his sickness is real, to be ordered by the governor to the infirmary, if his sickness be of a nature to require it, and entered in a book upon the sick list, and upon the surgeon or apothecary’s report of his being recovered and fit to work, he is to be brought back to his lodging-room, and put to work again, as far as is consistent with his health.

Observations.—The number of yards is required, we see, to be two at least: the intention is mainfest enough, though it is not mentioned: it is, that the two sexes may, in conformity to the plan of separation marked out in sections 38 and 41, have each a yard to themselves.

As to the purpose of airing, the best place of all is the top of the house. The air on the top of the house is likely to be purer than the air in any yards can be, surrounded as such yards must be by a high wall: 1st, such a situation would be higher than the damp or the noxious effluvia would ascend, were the air to remain unchanged: 2dly, besides this, the air, on account of the openness of the situation, would, in fact, be continually renewing. For this purpose, it would be necessary the roof of the house should be flat, and covered with lead. The infirmary might be situated in the highest story, so that from thence to the leads would Edition: current; Page: [25] be but a few steps. It is doubtless for these or similar reasons, that a situation thus elevated is very generally chosen for the infirmary in foreign prisons.* In order that those whose health might require it, might enjoy the benefits of air and exercise in some degree, even in rainy weather, it would be of great use if the building, or a great part of it, were raised upon arcades. This Mr. Howard recommends strongly for so much of it as is occupied by lodging-rooms, on the score of security.

The expense, indeed, of building upon arches, and of leading, would be very considerable; but the plan seems to be, not to spare expense. The Conciergerie at Paris, the Dol-huys at Amsterdam, the Maison de Force at Ghent, are raised upon arcades:§ in the Bastile at Paris, the roof is flat and leaded. I must confess, I see not why England should be less able to bear such an expense than France, Holland, or Austrian Flanders.

Section XLVII. regulates the appointment, powers, and salaries of the visitors.

1. Each committee is to appoint two visitors, “Justices of the Peace, or other substantial householders,” who are to be resident in the district.

2. Of these visitors, one is to be changed every year: no one is to continue for more than two successive years; but any one, after an interval of two years, may be again appointed.

3. The visitors are to attend at least once in every fortnight.

4. At each attendance they are to go through the following heads of duty:

  • 1. To examine the state of the “house” [buildings.]
  • 2. To see every convict.
  • 3. To inspect the accounts of the governor and storekeepers.
  • 4. To hear any complaints concerning the behaviour of the officers and servants.
  • 5. Or of the convicts.
  • 6. And in general to examine into the conduct and management of the house.

5. For these purposes, every visitor is empowered to examine any persons upon oath.

6. They are likewise empowered to apply punishments or rewards as under-mentioned.

7. They are from time to time to make their reports to the judges, as before, or to the committee of the district.

8. They are to have a gratuity, if they think proper to demand it, for each attendance, to be settled by the committee, and approved of by the judges.

Observations.—The rotation established among these officers is grounded upon approved principles, that are exemplified in many other instances. If the same two visitors were to be continued for life, the degree of discipline kept up in the house might come to depend more upon the notions and temper of those two persons, than upon settled rules. Having no emulation to animate them, they might grow torpid and indifferent: they might contract too close an intimacy with the governor and other officers, so as to be disposed to connive at their negligence or peculation: they might make what is called a job of their office, looking upon the emoluments of it as an establishment for life. On the other hand, were both visitors to go out at once, the fresh comers would for a time be new and awkward in their office; and the fund of experience collected at each period would be dissipated by every fresh appointment. But upon this plan, that fund is continually accumulating, and is transmitted entire through every succession. At the same time, by admitting the re-election of a visitor after a certain interval, room is left for accepting the services of such gentlemen as, in point of inclination and ability, may show themselves most competent to the office.

Section XLVIII. gives power to the visitors to suspend any officer or servant, except the governor, in case of “corruption, or other gross misbehaviour.”

Section XLIX. appoints the duty of the task-master.

1. He is constantly to superintend the works carried on by the convicts.

2. He is to “take an account of every neglect of work or other misbehaviour.”

3. Also of any instance of extraordinary diligence or good behaviour.

4. He is to make his reports from time to time to the governor, who is to cause them to be entered in a book to be kept for that purpose.

Section L. defines the powers of the governor in punishing offences committed in the house. These are enumerated under the following heads:—

  • 1. Disobedience of the “orders of the house.”
  • 2. Idleness, negligence, or wilful mismanagement of work.
  • 3. Assaults, not attended with any dangerous wound or bruise, by one convict upon another.
  • 4. Indecent behaviour.
  • 5. Profane cursing and swearing.
  • 6. Absence from chapel.
  • 7. Irreverent behaviour at chapel.

2. For any of the above offences, the governor may punish by close confinement in a “cell or dungeon,” for any term not exceeding three days, and keeping the offender upon bread and water only.

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3. Touching any of the above offences, the governor may examine “any” persons upon oath.

Section LI. empowers the visitors and the committee to punish certain other instances of bad behaviour in a severer manner.

1. To the visitors power is given to punish, in any convict, the following additional offences:—

  • 1. Absolute refusal to perform his work.
  • 2. Wilful abuse of the materials.
  • 3. Attempts to escape.
  • 4. Assaults on any person at large, who happens to be present.
  • 5. Assaults on any officer or servant of the house.

2. They are empowered also to punish any assaults by one convict upon another, that may happen not to have been punished by the governor.

3. Also any of the offences which the governor is authorized to punish in the case where, by reason of the enormity or repetition of the offence, the punishment which the governor is empowered to inflict of his own authority, is thought by him not to be sufficient.

4. For any of the above offences, the visitors may punish by either

  • 1. Moderate whipping.
  • 2. Confinement upon bread and water in a dungeon, for any time not exceeding ten days.
  • 3. Or both the above punishments in conjunction.

5. Concerning the above offences they are empowered to examine upon oath, with an injunction that it be in the presence of the offender.

6. In the cases No. 2 and 3, “the governor may, and he is hereby required to, order such offender to the cells or dungeons,—and is immediately,” or at the next coming of the visitors, to “report such offence to such visitors; who are hereby empowered and required to inquire and determine concerning the same.”

7. In case of any offence which the visitors shall deem worthy of a greater punishment than they are authorized to inflict, they shall report the offence, with the nature and circumstances of it, and the name of the offender, to the next meeting of the committee.

8. To the committee power is given to punish offences thus reported to them, by either

  • 1. Moderate whipping.
  • 2. Confinement upon bread and water in a dungeon.
  • 3. Turning down from a higher class to a lower.
  • 4. All or any of the above punishments in conjunction.

9. “In case of removal into a prior class, the offender shall, from the time of making such order of removal, go through such prior class, and also the subsequent class or classes, in the same manner, and for the same time, as under his or her original commitment.”

Section LII. is the converse of the section last preceding: it opens a door to pardon, upon the ground of extraordinary good behaviour.

1. If in any convict committed by justices in sessions, the visitors “shall at any time observe, or be satisfactorily informed of, any extraordinary diligence or merit,” and make report accordingly, “the said justices” [shall] “may, if they think proper, advance him into a higher class.”

2. When any convict has been promoted as above, the time of his confinement is to “be computed as if he or she had regularly passed through the prior class or classes.”

3. With regard to any convicts committed by the judges,* whether originally, or upon a pardon granted upon that condition, for a certain term, the judges are, upon a like report, to have like power to alter and shorten his confinement.

4. Convicts, committed for life, may, upon being reported to the judges as aforesaid, be by them reported to his Majesty for mercy.

Observations.—This and the two last preceding sections bearing a close relation to one another, I shall consider them together. As to the last of the two paragraphs I have printed in italics, I must confess I am not altogether certain about the sense of it. My doubt is, whether a convict, upon his degradation into a lower class, is to be punished with respect to the severity of his treatment only, or, besides that, with respect to the duration of his confinement. I am inclined to imagine, both ways; but this construction seems not to be absolutely a necessary one.

A convict, suppose, has been committed for three years. He has served the first year of his time, and half his second. Of course, he has been half a year entered in the second class. He now commits an offence which the committee think proper to punish with degradation: he is turned down into the first class. What now is to become of him? Is he to stay two years and a half longer, to wit, one half year more in the first class, and a year in each of the other classes, or only one year and a half, that is, half a year in each of the three classes? In the first case, it seems hardly proper to say, that he has gone through “such prior class, and also the subsequent classes, in the same manner and for the same time as under his original commitment;” for it seems that he has gone through such prior class, and also the subsequent Edition: current; Page: [27] classes (in the same manner, perhaps, but) for a longer time than he was to have had to go through them in under his original commitment. Had there, however, been no distinction in the treatment to be given to the respective classes, it must have been understood in this sense, as prolonging the total time; for the provision would have had nothing but the circumstance of time to operate upon.

Another doubt I have respecting the clause in section 50, which limits the time for which a governor is empowered to keep a convict in a dungeon upon bread and water to three days. This passage I know not very well how to reconcile to a clause in section 51. In this latter section, in case of an offence which, in the opinion of the governor, deserves a greater punishment than what he is himself authorized to inflict, he is directed to report it to the visitors, who, in such case, are authorized to order the offender to confinement in a dungeon, there to be kept on bread and water, if that be the mode of punishment they think proper to adopt, for ten days. Thus far, then, their power extends; to the confining a man for ten days. To the governor, in the last preceding section, it was not thought proper to give so great a power: his power was to extend no farther than to the confining a man for three days; yet in this same section, in the case above mentioned, where, by the supposition, he cannot punish by confinement for more than three days, the governor is empowered and “required” to order the convict to the dungeon, and “immediately, or the next time the visitors shall come,” report the offence to them, for them to punish it. Now, for what time the convict committed in this manner to a dungeon is to remain there, is not expressly said: as no time is mentioned for his releasement, it seems impossible to put any other construction upon the clause than that he is to stay there till the coming of the visitors. But the visitors may not come for a fortnight.* So long, then, may a convict remain in one of these dungeons by the authority of a governor. The consequence is, that indirectly a power is given to this officer, of inflicting a punishment more than three times as great as that which it is thought proper, in direct terms, to empower him to inflict; and (as far as concerns this species of punishment) greater than that which it has been thought proper, in any terms, to empower the visitors to inflict. On this occasion, no mention, I observe, is made of dieting upon bread and water: the governor is simply required to order the offender to one of the dungeons. Is he then, or is he not, in this case, authorized to add that hardship to the confinement? Is the dieting in this manner, or is it not, to be regarded as an article included of course in the regimen of a dungeon? This power of punishing an offender previously to trial, is confined, I observe, to the governor: it is not given to the visitors.

The provision for disposing of the convicts into classes, so as to be liable to be advanced or to be degraded, seems an excellent expedient for strengthening the influence of the several authorities to which it is meant to subject them. It seems extremely well contrived for exciting emulation; for making a standing and palpable distinction betwixt good and ill behaviour, and for keeping their hopes and fears continually awake. If it should be thought proper to indulge the convicts with a share in the profit of the labour, this would afford a farther means of adding to the distinction.

Here ends that part of the bill which concerns the establishment of labour-houses. What follows in the seven next sections is confined to the system of labour to be carried on upon rivers. The greater part of them are employed in re-enacting so many corresponding clauses of the present act.§ Concerning these, it will not be necessary to be very particular.

Section LIII. establishes, in general terms, the authority of the superintendents above spoken of. It empowers them, upon the delivery of any male convict into their custody, to keep him, for the term mentioned in his sentence, to hard labour. This hard labour is to be applied “either to the raising of sand, soil, and gravel, or in any other laborious service for the benefit of the navigation of the Thames, or of such other navigable rivers or harbours as aforesaid;”** when on the Thames, “then at such places only, and subject to such limitations, as the Trinity-House shall from time to time prescribe.”

Observations.—This, as to the greater part of it, is an exact transcript of the latter part of section 5 of the present act.††

Section LIV. prohibits superintendents from employing their convicts in delivering ballast to ships: it restricts the application of the labour to the above-mentioned object of benefiting the navigation of the rivers or harbours in question; except that it permits the employing them in making or repairing embankments or sea-walls.

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Observations.—This section is an exact transcript of section 6 of the present act, with the addition only of the above exception. As this new kind of employment was meant to be permitted, the insertion of the above exception for that purpose, was no more than prudent, at least, if not absolutely necessary: for the main design in making of embankments or sea-walls is to save the land from being carried away or overflowed; and it may be of little or no service to the navigation. Mr. Campbell, superintendent of the Thames convicts, pursuing the spirit of his instructions rather than the letter, has already ventured to employ his convicts in some useful works on shore: perhaps it might not be amiss to add a retrospective clause for his indemnity.

As to the prohibition above mentioned, no reason for it is given. I imagine the reason to have been the preventing that intercommunication which, in such a case, would have been necessary between the convicts and the ships’ crews. It can have nothing to do with any privileges of the Trinity-house; not being confined to the Thames, but extended to all rivers and harbours where convicts shall be employed.

Section LV. provides for the diet and apparel of convicts, under the care of superintendents, as section 40 did for those who are to be confined in the labour-houses. In point of diet, it directs that they be fed with bread, and any coarse or inferior food, and water or small beer, as in section 40; only the word “meat” is dropped here after the word coarse (whether by accident or design is more than I can determine.) The apparel it leaves altogether to the “discretion of the superintendents:” it likewise prohibits the supplying the convicts with any other food, drink, or clothing, under a penalty of not more than ten pounds, nor less than forty shillings.

Observations.—This section is the same as section 7 of the present act; except with regard to the penalty, which, by the present act, is not to be more than forty shillings.

Section LVI. invests superintendents with the power of correction. A convict refusing to perform his work, or “guilty of any other misbehaviour or disorderly conduct,” may be punished by the superintendent, by “such whipping, or other moderate punishment, as may be inflicted by law on persons committed to a house of correction for hard labour.”

Observations.—This section is the same in every respect as section 8 of the present act.

Section LVII. provides a supply for convicts of this description, upon their discharge, to the same amount as section 52 did for the convicts in the labour-houses. It likewise provides for the discharge of any convict, previous to the expiration of his term, upon a letter written, upon a recommendation from the judges as in section 60, by a secretary of state. The sum of money, and the clothing, it refers, in this case, to the determination of the above judges.*

Observations.—This section is the same, in every respect, as section 9 of the present act.

Section LVIII. makes provision in the lump for the assistance, medical and religious, to be given to the convicts in question, as likewise for the burial of such as may chance to die, as also for these and all other expenses attending the keeping of the convicts under the care of such superintendents. These expenses it directs to be annually laid before the House of Commons, and undertakes, that, after deducting the net profits (if any) of the labour, they shall be provided for in the next supplies granted by parliament. The chaplains, surgeons, and apothecaries to be provided, are to be such as “the superintendent shall find it expedient, or shall be required” (it does not say by whom) “from time to time to employ.” The convicts are to be “buried in the most commodious parts of the shores, in or near which they have been employed,” and “according to the form prescribed by the liturgy of the Church of England. The necessary charges of such funerals, and also of the coroners, who shall sit on the bodies of such convicts, are to be defrayed in the manner above mentioned.”

Section LIX. provides, that such chaplains shall read morning and evening prayer, and preach a sermon after each, every Sunday, as also on Christmas-day and Good Friday.

Observations.—These two sections are so many additions to the present act. In this the whole business was referred so entirely to the discretion of the superintendent, that no express provision was made for either the spiritual or medical assistance, or the burial of the convicts. Neither was any provision made for the coroner’s fees; whereby that expense (which was not altogether a trifling one) falls solely as yet upon the counties bordering that part of the Thames they are employed upon; that is, upon the counties of Kent and Essex, one or both of them. These omissions are supplied in the bill before, as it was highly requisite they should be.

In the meantime, they have been voluntarily supplied by the attention of Mr. Campbell, the present superintendent. A surgeon of a battalion attends the convicts once a-day; and the surgeon-general of the artillery visits them once a-week. A clergyman, sent by the Countess of Huntingdon, gives them the assistances belonging to his profession, without any gratuity from Mr. Campbell, or any expense Edition: current; Page: [29] to the establishment. Not content with performing the ordinary duty in the manner provided for in the bill, he is assiduous in giving them the benefit of his instructions by every means, and at every opportunity in his power. He has distributed Bibles among them; and has endeavoured to direct their attention to the sacred writings, by giving them rewards for performing little exercises proposed to them as tests of their proficiency.

The loose and general way in which these and other exigencies are provided for, with respect to convicts of the description now before us, especially when compared with the strict and minute attention paid to the regimen of the labour-houses, are strong testimonies of the extraordinary confidence reposed in the present superintendent. I have never heard of any fact so much as surmised, that afforded the least reason for deeming that confidence misplaced, and I have much reason for entertaining a contrary opinion; yet I should be sorry to see the merit of this individual officer made an argument for entailing powers so unlimited upon what person soever may chance at any time hereafter to bear his office. The establishment upon the Thames has been acknowledged to be intended but as a measure of experiment; it is to be hoped, therefore, that when the effect of the regimen prescribed for the hand-labour houses has been approved by experience, it will be extended to the establishments upon rivers. Jealousy, not confidence, is the characteristic of wise laws.

Section LX. enjoms the governors and superintendents to make returns of the state of the convicts under their care. These returns are to contain the following particulars:—

  • 1. The name of each convict committed to their custody.
  • 2. His offence.
  • 3. His sentence.
  • 4. His state of body.
  • 5. His behaviour while in custody.

They are also to exhibit the names of all such convicts, as, since the last return, have passed out of their custody, whether

  • 1. By death.
  • 2. By escape.
  • 3. By releasement, whether by order of a Secretary of State or otherwise.

For the purpose of making these returns, regular books are to be kept by the persons who are respectively to make them.

They are to be made by the superintendent of the Thames convicts to the King’s Bench, the first day of every term; by the governors of labour-houses, and the superintendents of any other work, to the judges, as before,* at each assize; to the justices of the peace for every county and division within the district, at the two sessions holden next after Easter and Michaelmas.

They are to be made upon oath, to be administered to them by the respective courts.

Observations.—The ordering these returns is a measure of excellent use in furnishing data for the legislator to go to work upon. They will form altogether a kind of political barometer, by which the effect of every legislative operation relative to the subject, may be indicated and made palpable. It is not till lately that legislators have thought of providing themselves with these necessary documents. They may be compared to the bills of mortality published annually in London; indicating the moral health of the community (but a little more accurately, it is to be hoped,) as these latter do the physical.

It would tend still farther to forward the good purposes of this measure, if the returns, as soon as filed, were to be made public, by being printed in the Gazette, and in the local newspapers. They might also be collected once a-year, and published all together in a book.

Section LXI. provides a penalty for escapes. This penalty, if the convict had been ordered to hard labour in lieu of capital punishment, is death: if in lieu of transportation, in the first instance, an addition of three years to his term of servitude; in the second instance, death.

Observations.—I cannot help entertaining some doubts of the expediency of capital punishment in case of escapes. Punishments that a man has occasion to choose out of, should be commensurable. That which is meant to appear the greater, should either be altogether of the same kind, or include one that is of the same kind with the lesser; otherwise, the danger always is, considering the variety of men’s circumstances and tempers, lest the punishment which appears the greater to the legislator and the judge, as being in general the greater, should appear the lesser to the delinquent. On the other hand, you may be sure of making your punishment appear the greater to the delinquent, when, keeping to the same species, you can either increase it in degree, or add a punishment of another species. A fine may to one man be worse Edition: current; Page: [30] than imprisonment; imprisonment may to another man be worse than a fine: but a fine of twenty pounds must to every man be worse than a fine of ten pounds; imprisonment for six months, than imprisonment for three: so also must imprisonment, though it were but for a day, added to a fine of ten pounds, than a fine of ten pounds by itself.

In the present instance, it may very well happen, that a convict may even prefer certain death to his situation in a labour-house or on board a lighter: in such case, the punishment of death, it is plain, can have no hold on him. What is still more likely to happen is, that although he would not prefer certain death to such a situation, he would yet prefer such a chance of death as he appears likely to be liable to, after having effected his escape. I say, after having effected it: for the attempt, I observe, is not made punishable in this manner.

It may be objected in the first case, that if death were preferable in his eyes to servitude, he would inflict it on himself. But the inference is not just. He may be restrained by the dread of future punishment; or by that timidity which, though it might suffer him to put himself in the way of dying at a somewhat distant and uncertain period by the hand of another, would not suffer him, when the time came, to employ his own. In either of these cases, capital punishment, so far from acting as a preventative, may operate as an inducement.

In cases of escape, little, it should seem, is to be done in the way of restraint, by means that apply only to the mind: physical obstacles are the only ones to be depended on. To the catalogue of these, large additions and improvements have been made, and still more, as I have ventured to suggest, might be made, if necessary, by the present bill. The degree of security which these promise to afford, seems to be quite sufficient, without having recourse to capital punishment. This will save the unpopularity of inflicting a punishment so harsh, for an offence so natural.

In preference to capital punishment, I would rather be for applying hard labour for life. Such a punishment is already admitted of by this bill.*

Section LXII. inflicts penalties on such persons as may be instrumental to escapes.

1. Any persons rescuing such a convict, either from the place of his confinement, or from the custody of any who are conveying him to it, or assisting in such rescue, are to suffer as for rescuing a felon, after judgment, from a gaoler.

2. Any persons who, by supplying arms, or instruments of disguise, or otherwise, assist a convict in escaping, or attempting to escape, are to suffer as for felony.

3. Persons who, having the custody of such a convict, or being employed by one that has, permit him to escape, if voluntarly, are also to suffer as for felony.

4. If negligently, are to be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and are to be liable to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, or to imprisonment for not more than six months, or to both.

Observations.—The punishment here appointed for negligently permitting an escape, is, I fear, liable to be too small; especially considering, that a wilful permission of this sort may frequently, for want of direct proof, be no otherwise punishable than as an act of negligence. If a convict of this stamp be a man of substance, as may sometimes happen, he may be very well able to give an underkeeper such a reward for his connivance as may very well indemnify him against the chance of losing ten pounds, and suffering even a six months’ imprisonment. What is remarkable, this punishment is no greater than that which, in another part of this bill, is appointed for the trivial offence of supplying a convict with prohibited meat or drink. Instead, therefore, of saying that it should not be more than the quantum specified, I would rather say that it should not be less. At any rate, it should contain some imprisonment; for, against imprisonment, a man cannot be so completely indemnified as against fine.

I see no punishment for the attempt to rescue, or the assisting in such attempt: yet the attempt to rescue is an offence as much more atrocious than the assisting in a quiet attempt to escape, as robbery is than simple theft.

What is the use of describing the punishment of a rescuer in a round-about way by reference? why not make it felony at once? The standing punishment for the rescuing of a felon (meaning a simple felon) is no more than simple felony. It ought, however, to be greater, or else the assisting in a quiet attempt to escape ought to be less: otherwise the offender has nothing to determine his choice in favour of an offence less mischievous, in preference to an offence more mischievous.

I take for granted it could never have been the intention that, under this clause, the rescuer of a capital felon pardoned on condition, should suffer capitally.

Section LXIII. is calculated to facilitate the prosecution of persons concerned in escapes.

1. Convicts escaping may be tried in the county in which they are retaken.

2. In a prosecution for an escape or rescue, Edition: current; Page: [31] or attempt to escape or rescue, either against the convict himself, or any person assisting him, the certificate above mentioned (after proof made that the culprit is the same that was delivered with such certificate) is to be deemed conclusive evidence of his being the person who was ordered to the confinement therein mentioned.

Observations.—To show the beneficial effects of these provisions, in saving useless trouble, the way would be to state and explain the several rules of law which they dispense with; but this is a piece of information that would not be very interesting to readers at large, and lawyers have no need of it.

Section LXIV. appoints the mode of procedure for the recovery of the pecuniary penalties inflicted by this bill, when no particular method is prescribed.* It is to be summary, before two justices of the peace: the imprisonment, in case of failure, is to be for not less than one month, nor more than six. The other provisions are what are usually inserted in cases of summary procedure.

Section LXV. is another provision of procedure, dispensing, for the purposes of this act, with the general rule of law, that judges must be in the jurisdiction for which they are doing business. It sometimes happens, that the court-house for a town that is a county of itself, is the court-house for the county at large, but the judges’ lodgings are not situate in both. It therefore declares, that, for the above purposes, they shall be “constrved and taken to be situate in both.

Observations.—Here the hand of the lawyer is visible: a plain man would have contented himself with saying, that a judge of the description in question might do such business as might be done at his lodgings, for any county, although he were in an adjacent one. But there never was yet a lawyer, who, when either would equally well serve the turn, did not prefer a false account to the true one. The old maxim, which, to another man would seem inflexible, “nothing can be in two places at once,” bows down before him. These paradoxes are a kind of professional wit, which is altogether innocent in the intention, though not altogether harmless in its effects. This is no reflection on the author: it is only attributing to him, in common with every body, what nobody is ashamed of.

Section LXVI. allows persons prosecuted for anything done in pursuance of this bill, to plead the general issue: if the suit terminate in their favour, gives them treble costs; if against them, and by verdict, exempts them from costs, unless the judge certify his approbation of the verdict.

Section LXVII. limits the place and time of such a prosecution. The jurisdiction is to be that wherein the act was done; the time, within six months of it.

Section LXVIII. and last, repeals the present act, except with regard to such offenders whose terms are unexpired.

Observations.—Perhaps the simpler, and more commodious way, would be to take a section by itself, for giving the requisite continuance to the above terms, and doing what else is necessary (for I suspect that more may be necessary) to prevent the unintended consequences of such a repeal; and then, in another section, to repeal the act simply and absolutely.

Some hundred years hence, when conciseness shall be deemed preferable to prolixity, and the parliamentary style shall have been divested of all those peculiarities which distinguish it, to its disadvantage, from that of common conversation, the formulary for that purpose may be as follows:—

The Act 16 George III. c. 43. stands repealed.

The Act 16 George III. may be repealed, but the memory of the proposer of it will survive.


The following observations, though they connect with the subject of Section 1, could not well have been introduced previously to Section 30, 43, and 52.

Besides those stated under Section 1, a farther advantage which the punishment proposed to be established in the labour-houses has over transportation, is that of superior divisibility; by which means the quantity of it is capable of being proportioned with greater nicety, to the different degrees of malignity in different offences. The punishment of hard labour is divisible in point of intensity as well as of durations; and a division of it in the former of these ways is actually directed to be made in section 43. That of transportation is divisible no otherwise than in point of duration. In this point it is, in its own nature, indeed, incapable of being divided to as great a degree of nicety as hard labour is. Very little advantage, however, of this property of it, has been made in practice. I am not certain whether there may not have been a few instances in which convicts have been transported for as short a time as three years; but in general, the only terms in use have been for seven years, for fourteen years, and for life. In the duration of the confinement in the hard-labour houses, as many different periods are allowed on one occasion or another, Edition: current; Page: [32] as may be marked out between one year and seven years. I cannot see, however, why even a greater latitude than this should not be admitted of, especially on the side of diminution; in other words, why a shorter time than a year should in no case be allowed. One should think, that for many of the offences that are punishable by transportation, a less term than one year, and for petty larceny, a less term than two years (the terms respectively allowed of,) might suffice. But on this head I shall insist no farther, as it would lead me from the particular object of the proposed bill, to discussions that belong to a general survey of criminal jurisprudence.

Another point in which the punishment proposed by the bill, has the advantage of transportation, is that of being in the way of being remitted at any time, on the ground of merits displayed subsequently to the offence. Provision, we may remember, is made for that purpose in section 52. But a convict who is transported, though he be not out of the reach of pardon, is out of all hope of pardon on that ground, since he lies out of the reach of all observation which could dictate the expediency of such indulgence.

The following hints connect, in some measure, with the subject of section 13, and with a principle adopted in section 40.

A suitable motto over the doors of these houses might have many good effects. It might contribute to inculcate the justice, to augment the terror, and to spread the notoriety of this plan of punishment.

The following sentence might, perhaps, answer the purpose:—“Had they been industrious when free, they need not have drudged here like slaves.”

Or this,—

  • “Violence and knavery
  • Are the roads to slavery.”

The latter is that which I should prefer, on many accounts. It is more expressive, indicating more particularly the kind of misbehaviour that was the cause of their punishment; and the proverbial turn of it, together with the jingle, will render it more apt to be circulated and remembered by the people. Violence respects those who may be committed upon a pardon for robbery, or those who may have been committed in any way for malicious mischief; knavery, the common run of thieves and sharpers. Fraudulent and forcible, is a division that runs in a manner through the whole catalogue of offences against the police.

The efficacy of this motto might be still farther assisted by a device. Over the door there might likewise be a bas-relief, or a painting, exhibiting a wolf and a fox yoked together to a heavy cart, and a driver whipping them: the wolf as an emblem of violence and mischief; the fox of knavery. In the back ground might be a troop of wolves ravaging a flock of sheep, and a fox watching a hen-roost.

Bas-rehefs, if made in artificial stone, might be cast, a number of them in the same mould, and be the same for all the labour-houses.

Should it be thought an improvement, a monkey, as being more peculiarly the emblem of wanton mischief, might be added to the above train. Among the offences which it is proposed should be punishable in this manner, are many that come under the denomination of malicious mischief. In this case, the inscription, instead of “Violence and knavery,” had need to be, “Mischief, rapine, knavery.” The danger is, lest the addition of an animal, whose manners are calculated more constantly to excite merriment by their drollery, than displeasure by their mischievousness, should give such a cast of ridicule to the whole contrivance, as should counteract the design of it.

The device adopted in the house of correction at Mentz, and other foreign prisons, according to the account given of it by Mr. Howard,* does not seem so well imagined as it might be. It consists of a waggon drawn by two stags, two lions, and two wild boars; and the purport of the inscription is, that “if wild beasts can be tamed to the yoke, we should not despair of reclaiming irregular men.” The equipage here represented, has nothing in it that is very characteristic of the persons whose conditions it is meant to allegorize; and there seems to be something awkward in making the hopes of succeeding, with regard to men, rest, as it were, upon no better footing than the success of the contrivance there imagined respecting brutes. I have read of hogs being now and then employed in some parts of France to help to draw a plough. We have read of gods and goddesses, and now and then, perhaps, a Roman general in his triumph, who have been drawn by lions; but I never heard yet of a stag’s being yoked to a waggon, either as a truth, or in the way of fable; much less appearance is there of its being acknowledged for a known truth that waggons may be made to draw with a team composed of stags, and boars, and lions.

Let me not be accused of trifling: those who know mankind, know to what a degree the imagination of the multitude is liable to be influenced by circumstances as trivial as these.

With regard to the site of the building, might it not be a proper direction to give, that care should be taken to have such a quantity of ground all around the building included in the purchase, as might prevent any houses from being built within such a Edition: current; Page: [33] number of yards distance? An establishment of this sort might, in some way or other, afford inducements to people of the lower classes to settle near it. But the near vicinity of any house might be productive of several bad effects. it might facilitate escapes; it would take away from the sequestrated appearance of the scene; it would put the convicts and their neighbours into the way of engaging in conversations which might be of prejudice to both.

With regard to such convicts as it may be thought expedient to put to works of the sedentary kind, it might be of use, on the score of economy, if such of them as have a trade of their own that can be carried on in the house, should be permitted to work at that trade, in preference to another. Hatters, stocking-weavers, tailors, shoemakers, and many other handicrafts, might carry on their trades in such a situation, nearly as well as anywhere else; so it were in the wholesale way, and not for particular employers. The trades that will be set up in the house for the instruction of the convicts will hardly be of the most lucrative kind; and if they were, it can hardly be expected that a man should earn as much at a trade that is new to him, as at one he has been bred up to. The difference would be so much loss to the public during the time a convict continues in the labour-house. But it might, besides that, be a loss to him, and through him to the public, for the remainder of his life: if his confinement has been long, he may have lost, by the time it is over, a great part of his skill. In the compass of a few years, a course of hard labour may have irrecoverably deprived a man of that pliancy of muscle and nicety of touch that is necessary in some trades.

The convicts who come within the view of this institution may be distinguished into two classes: the one consisting of malefactors by profession, who possess no honest talent; the other of persons of different trades and employments, who have subjected themselves to the censure of the laws by an occasional deviation from integrity. The first cannot but be benefited by the institution in point of talent, as well as in other respects; the others, howsoever benefited in other respects, may, in many cases, be sufferers in point of talent, if their industry be forced out of its old channels

Edition: current; Page: [34]

TABLE referred to in Sections 3, 5, 6, 9, & 11.

(k) But see note (d).
(l) Carmarthen is among the jurisdictions included, &c. see note (g): but no committee-justices are allowed it.
(h) Viz. for each, one.
(g) The county of the city of Chester is, in § 3, p. 5 of the bill, among the jurisdictions included in the computation of the number of convicts for the Welsh district: it is also specified in § 5, p. 6, among the jurisdictions comprised within that district: but no committee-justices are allowed it by § 6. The county of the town of Haverford-west is, in § 3, p. 5, included in the computation of the average number of convicts for the Welsh district: but it is not specified in § 5, p. 6, among the jurisdictions comprised within that district; nor are any committee-justices allowed to it in § 6.
(f) Viz. for each Riding, two.
(d) No number of convicts is stated for Newcastle in the bill: in the table annexed to the bill it is stated at five. This makes a difference of fifteen in the number to be provided for.
(b) The town of Berwick is specified in § 5, p. 7 of the bill, among the jurisdictions comprised within the northern circuit: but no committee-justices are allowed to it in § 6.
(c) The average number of convicts for Berwick is computed in the lump with the number for Northumberland.
(e) The number in the table is 66. See note (d).
(a) Viz. for each of its Parts, one.
(i) Blanks are left for these in the bill: a column is here allotted to them for the convenience of any one who may choose to fill up the blanks with a pen, when those in the bill are filled up.
No. of Districts. Districts in each Circuit. Place of Meeting in each District. Counties in each District. Justices for each County. Convicts in a Year in each County. Convicts to be provided for in each District. Sums to be allotted to each County. (i)
I. HOME CIRCUIT. 1st. Chelmsford { Essex 3 18 } 90 {
{ Hertfordshire 3 12 } {
II. 2d. Maidstone { Kent 3 26 } 99 {
{ Canterbury 1 1 } {
{ Sussex 3 6 } {
III. 3d. Kingston Surrey 5 42 126
IV. MIDLAND CIRCUIT. 1st. Lincoln { Derbyshire 2 8 } 90 {
{ Lincolnshire (a) 3 10 } {
{ Lincoln 1 1 {
{ Nottinghamshire 2 6 {
{ Nottingham 1 3 } {
{ Rutlandshire 1 2 } {
V. 2d. Warwick { Leicestershire 2 4 } 108 {
{ Leicester 1 2 } {
{ Northamptonshire 2 7 {
{ Warwickshire 2 18 } {
{ Coventry 1 5 } {
VI. NORFOLK CIRCUIT. 1st. Bedford { Bedfordshire 2 7 } 75 {
{ Buckinghamshire 2 9 } {
{ Cambridgeshire 2 4 } {
{ Ely 1 2 } {
{ Huntingdonshire 2 3 } {
VII. 2d. Norwich { Norfolk 3 15 } 93 {
{ Norwich 1 2 {
{ Suffolk 3 14 } {
VIII. NORTHERN CIRCUIT. 1st. Durham { Cumberland 2 5 } (e) 51 {
{ Durham 2 6 } {
{ Northumberland 2 (c) 5} {
{ Berwick (b) } {
{ Newcastle 1 (d) {
{ Westmoreland 1 1 } {
IX. 2d. Lancaster Lancashire 5 26 78
X. 3d. York { Yorkshire (f) 6 30 } 105 {
{ York 1 3 } {
{ Kingston 1 2 } {
XI. OXFORD CIRCUIT. 1st. Oxford . . { Berkshire . . . . 3 13 } 69 {
{ Oxfordshire . . . 3 10 } {
XII. 2d. Gloucester { Gloucestershire . 2 22 } 123 {
{ Gloucester . . . 1 3 } {
{ Herefordshire . . 2 8 } {
{ Monmouthshire . 2 8 } {
XIII. 3d. Worcester { Shropshire . . . 2 16 } 135 {
{ Staffordshire . . 2 15 } {
{ Litchfield . . . . 1 1 } {
{ Worcestershire . 2 10 } {
{ Worcester . . . . 1 3 } {
XIV. WESTERN CIRCUIT. 1st. Exeter . . { Cornwall . . . . 3 12 } 105 {
{ Devonshire . . . 3 22 } {
{ Exeter . . . . . 1 1 } {
XV. 2d. Salisbury . { Dorsetshire . . . 2 10 } 135 {
{ Poole . . . . . 1 1 } {
{ Hampshire . . . . 2 19 } {
{ Southampton . . 1 1 } {
{ Wiltshire . . . . 2 14 } {
XVI. 3d. Wells . . . { Somersetshire . . 4 25 } {
{ Bristol 2 17 } {
XVII. London London 5 107 321
XVIII. London, &c. Middlesex 5 296 888
XIX. WELSH DISTRICT. (g) Chester { Cheshire 3 } 48 {
Welsh Counties at large }(h) 12 16 } {
{ Carmarthen (l) 1 } {
Total of the Convicts for all the Districts 955 (k) 2865 (k)
Edition: current; Page: [36] Edition: current; Page: [37]



with A PLAN OF MANAGEMENT adapted to the principle:

IN A SERIES OF LETTERS, written in the year 1787, from crecheff in white russia, to a friend in england.


Edition: current; Page: [38]


  • Preface, - - - Page 39
  • Letter I. Idea of the Inspection Principle, 40
  • II. Plan for a Penitentiary Inspection-house, - - - ib.
  • III. Extent for a Single Building, 42
  • IV. The Principle extended to uncovered Areas, - - - 43
  • V. Essential Points of the Plan, 44
  • VI. Advantages of the Plan, - 45
  • VII. Penitentiary-houses—Safe-custody, - - - - 46
  • VIII. Uses—Penitentiary-houses—Reformation, - - 47
  • IX. Penitentiary-houses—Economy—Contract—Plan, - ib.
  • X. Choice of Trades should befree, 49
  • XI. Multiplication of Trades is not necessary, - - 51
  • XII. Contractors’ Checks, - 52
  • XIII. Means of extracting Labour, 54
  • XIV. Provision for Liberated Persons, - - - 55
  • XV. Prospect of saving from this Plan, - - - ib.
  • XVI. Houses of Correction, - - 58
  • XVII. Prisons for safe Custody merely, 59
  • XVIII. Manufactories, - - 60
  • XIX. Mad-Houses, - - - ib.
  • XX. Hospitals, - - - 61
  • XXI. Schools, - - - - 62

  • Sect. I. Principal Particulars settled or altered, - - - - - 67
  • II. General View of the whole Edifice, - - - - 68
  • III. Annular Well, instead of Stories of Intermediate Area, - - 69
  • IV. Protracted Partitions omitted; or rather taken into the Cells, 71
  • V. Cells, Double instead of Single, ib.
  • VI. Dead-Part, - - - - 76
  • VII. Chapel introduced, - - 78
  • VIII. Inspection-Galleries and Lodge, 80
  • IX. Of the Communications in General, - - - - - 86
  • X. —Prisoners’ Staircases, ib.
  • XI. —Inspectors’ Staircases, 88
  • XII. Of the Staircase for Chapel Visitors, and for the Officers’ Apartments, - - - 89
  • XIII. —Cell-Galleries, - - 90
  • XIV. —Doors, - - - ib.
  • XV. —Diametrical Passage, 91
  • XVI. —Exit into the Yards, - 92
  • XVII. Exterior Annular Well, - 94
  • XVIII. Windows, - - - - 95
  • XIX. Materials, - - - 97
  • XX. Outlets, including Airing Yards, 98
  • XXI. Approach and Fences, - 105
  • XXII. Means of Supplying Water, 110
  • XXIII. Mode of Warming the Building, ib.
  • XXIV. Economy observed in the Construction, - - - 118

  • Sect. I. Leading Positions, - - 121
  • II. Management—in what Hands, and on what terms, - - 125
  • III. Of Separation as between the Sexes, - - - - 134
  • IV. Of Separation into Companies and Classes, - - - 137
  • V. Employment, - - - 141
  • VI. Diet, - - - - - 153
  • VII. Clothing, - - - - 156
  • VIII. Bedding, - - - - 157
  • IX. Health and Cleanliness, - 157
  • X. Airing and Exercise. - 158
  • XI. Schooling and Sunday Employment, - - - - 161
  • XII. Of Ventilation, Shading, and Cooling, - - - 162
  • XIII. Distribution of Time, - - ib.
  • XIV. Of Punishments. - - 164
  • XV. Mode of Guarding on the Outside, - - - - ib.
  • XVI. Provision for liberated Prisoners, 165
  • Note by Mr. Bentham, 24th January 1821, - - 171.
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☞ For the Explanation of the several Figures of this Plate, see “Outline of a Work, entitled Pauper Management improved;” Bentham’s Works, vol. viii., p. 369 to p. 439.

The Ranges of Bed-Stages and Cribs are respectively supposed to run from End to End of the radial Walls, as exhibited in the Ground Plan: they are here represented as cut through by a Line parallel to the Side of the Polygon: in the Bed-Stages, what is represented as one in the Draught, is proposed to be in two in the Description.


Fig. I.—Elevation.

Samuel Bentham, Knight of the Order of St George of Russia, Brigadier-General in the Russian Service, and Inspector-General of his Majesty’s Naval Works, inrenit.


Fig. II.—Section.


Fig. III.—Ground Plan.


Fig. IV.—Bed-Stages for Single Persons.


Fig. V.—Bed-Stages for Married Couples; alternating with sets of Cribs for Children, four in a set.


Fig. VI.—Cribs for Infants.

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Morals reformed—health preserved—industry invigorated—instruction diffused—public burthens lightened—Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock—the gordian knot of the Poor-Laws not cut, but untied—all by a simple idea in Architecture!—Thus much I ventured to say on laying down the pen—and thus much I should perhaps have said on taking it up, if at that early period I had seen the whole of the way before me. A new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example: and that, to a degree equally without example, secured by whoever chooses to have it so, against abuse.—Such is the engine: such the work that may be done with it. How far the expectations thus held out have been fulfilled, the reader will decide.

The Letters which compose the body of this tract were written at Crecheff in Russia, and from thence sent to England in the year 1787, much about the same time with the Defence of Usury. They were addressed to a particular person, with a view to a particular establishment then in contemplation (intelligence of which had found its way to me through the medium of an English newspaper), and without any immediate or very determinate view to general publication. The attention of the public in Ireland having been drawn to one of the subjects to which they relate, by the notice given not long ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of a disposition on the part of government there, to make trial of the Penitentiary system, it is on that account that they now see the light through the medium of the Irish press.

They are printed as at first written, with no other alteration than the erasure of a few immaterial passages, and the addition of a Postscript, stating such new ideas as have been the fruit of a more detailed and critical examination, undertaken chiefly with an eye to the particular establishment last mentioned, and assisted by professional information and advice.

In running over the descriptive part of the letters, the reader will find it convenient to remember, that alterations, as stated in the Postscript, have been made, though he need not at that period trouble himself with considering what they are: since in either shape the details will serve equally well for the illustration of the general principle, and for the proof of the advantages that may be derived from it.

In what concerns the Penitentiary system, I may be observed to have discussed, with rather more freedom than may perhaps be universally acceptable, a variety of measures either established or proposed by gentlemen who have laboured in the same line. A task this, which I would gladly have avoided: but complete justice could not otherwise have been done to the plan here proposed, nor its title to preference placed in a satisfactory point of view. Among the notions thus treated, it is with pleasure rather than regret that I observe several which on a former occasion I had myself either suggested or subscribed to. I say with pleasure: regarding the incident as a proof of my having no otherwise done by others than as I not only would be done by, but have actually done by myself: a consideration which will, I hope, make my apology to the respectable gentlemen concerned, and assist their candour in recommending me to their forgiveness. If by the light of reciprocal animadversion I should find myself enabled to rectify any errors of my own which may still have escaped me, the correction, instead of being shrunk from as a punishment, will be embraced as a reward.

In point of method and compression, something might have been gained, had the whole, Letters and Postscript together, been new cast, and the supplemental matter worked up with the original. But time was wanting; and, if the invention be worth any thing, the account given of it will not be the less amusing or less instructive, for being exhibited in an historical and progressive point of view.

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The concluding Letter on Schools is a sort of jeu d’esprit, which would hardly have presented itself in so light a form, at any other period than at the moment of conception, and under the flow of spirits which the charms of novelty are apt enough to inspire. As such, it may possibly help to alleviate the tedium of a dry discussion, and on that score obtain the pardon, should it fail of receiving the approbation, of the graver class of readers.

Crecheff in White Russia


Dear * * * *,—I observed t’other day in one of your English papers, an advertisement relative to a House of Correction therein spoken of, as intended for * * * * * * *. It occurred to me, that the plan of a building, lately contrived by my brother, for purposes in some respects similar, and which, under the name of the Inspection House, or the Elaboratory, he is about erecting here, might afford some hints for the above establishment.* I have accordingly obtained some drawings relative to it, which I here inclose. Indeed I look upon it as capable of applications of the most extensive nature; and that for reasons which you will soon perceive.

To say all in one word, it will be found applicable, I think, without exception, to all establishments whatsoever, in which, within a space not too large to be covered or commanded by buildings, a number of persons are meant to be kept under inspection. No matter how different, or even opposite the purpose: whether it be that of punishing the incorrigible, guarding the insane, reforming the vicious, confining the suspected, employing the idle, maintaining the helpless, curring the sick, instructing the willing in any branch of industry, or training the rising race in the path of education: in a word, whether it be applied to the purposes of perpetual prisons in the room of death, or prisons for confinement before trial, or penitentiary-houses, or houses of correction, or work-houses, or manufactories, or mad-houses, or hospitals, or schools.

It is obvious that, in all these instances, the more constantly the persons to be inspected are under the eyes of the persons who should inspect them, the more perfectly will the purpose of the establishment have been attained. Ideal perfection, if that were the object, would require that each person should actually be in that predicament, during every instant of time. This being impossible, the next thing to be wished for is, that, at every instant, seeing reason to believe as much, and not being able to satisfy himself to the contrary, he should conceive himself to be so. This point, you will immediately see, is most completely secured by my brother’s plan; and, I think, it will appear equally manifest, that it cannot be compassed by any other, or to speak more properly, that if it be compassed by any other, it can only be in proportion as such other may approach to this.

To cut the matter as short as possible, I will consider it at once in its application to such purposes as, being most complicated, will serve to exemplify the greatest force and variety of precautionary contrivance. Such are those which have suggested the idea of penitentiary-houses: in which the objects of safe custody, confinement, solitude, forced labour, and instruction, were all of them to be kept in view. If all these objects can be accomplished together, of course with at least equal certainty and facility may any lesser number of them.

Crecheff in White Russia


Before you look at the plan, take in words the general idea of it.

The building is circular.

The apartments of the prisoners occupy the circumference. You may call them, if you please, the cells.

These cells are divided from one another, and the prisoners by that means secluded from all communication with each other, by partitions in the form of radii issuing from the circumference towards the centre, and extending as many feet as shall be thought necessary to form the largest dimension of the cell.

The apartment of the inspector occupies the centre; you may call it if you please the inspector’s lodge.

It will be convenient in most, if not in all cases, to have a vacant space or area all round, between such centre and such circumference. You may call it if you please the intermediate or annular area.

About the width of a cell may be sufficient for a passage from the outside of the building to the lodge.

Each cell has in the outward circumference, Edition: current; Page: [41] a window, large enough, not only to light the cell, but, through the cell, to afford light enough to the correspondent part of the lodge.

The inner circumference of the cell is formed by an iron grating, so light as not to screen any part of the cell from the inspector’s view.

Of this grating, a part sufficiently large opens, in form of a door, to admit the prisoner at his first entrance; and to give admission at any time to the inspector or any of his attendants.

To cut off from each prisoner the view of every other, the partitions are carried on a few feet beyond the grating into the intermediate area. such projecting parts I call the protracted partitions.

It is conceived, that the light, coming in in this manner through the cells, and so across the intermediate area, will be sufficient for the inspector’s lodge. But, for this purpose, both the windows in the cells, and those corresponding to them in the lodge, should be as large as the strength of the building, and what shall be deemed a necessary attention to economy, will permit.

To the windows of the lodge there are blinds, as high up as the eyes of the prisoners in their cells can, by any means they can employ, be made to reach.

To prevent thorough light, whereby, notwithstanding the blinds, the prisoners would see from the cells whether or no any person was in the lodge, that apartment is divided into quarters, by partitions formed by two diameters to the circle, crossing each other at right angles. For these partitions the thinnest materials might serve; and they might be made removeable at pleasure; their height, sufficient to prevent the prisoners seeing over them from the cells. Doors to these partitions, if left open at any time, might produce the thorough light. To prevent this, divide each partition into two, at any part required, setting down the one-half at such distance from the other as shall be equal to the apperture of a door.

These windows of the inspector’s lodge open into the intermediate area, in the form of doors, in as many places as shall be deemed necessary to admit of his communicating readily with any of the cells.

Small lamps, in the outside of each window of the lodge, backed by a reflector, to throw the light into the corresponding cells, would extend to the night the security of the day.

To save the troublesome exertion of voice that might otherwise be necessary, and to prevent one prisoner from knowing that the inspector was occupied by another prisoner at a distance, a small tin tube might reach from each cell to the inspector’s lodge, passing across the area, and so in at the side of the correspondent window of the lodge. By means of this implement, the slightest whisper of the one might be heard by the other, especially if he had proper notice to apply his ear to the tube.

With regard to instruction, in cases where it cannot be duly given without the instructor’s being close to the work, or without setting his hand to it by way of example before the learner’s face, the instructor must indeed here as elsewhere, shift his station as often as there is occasion to visit different workmen; unless he calls the workmen to him, which in some of the instances to which this sort of building is applicable, such as that of imprisoned felons, could not so well be. But in all cases where directions, given verbally and at a distance, are sufficient, these tubes will be found of use. They will save, on the one hand, the exertion of voice it would require, on the part of the instructor, to communicate instruction to the workmen without quitting his central station in the lodge; and, on the other, the confusion which would ensue if different instructors or persons in the lodge were calling to the cells at the same time. And, in the case of hospitals, the quiet that may be insured by this little contrivance, trifling as it may seem at first sight, affords an additional advantage.

A bell, appropriated exclusively to the purposes of alarm, hangs in a belfry with which the building is crowned, communicating by a rope with the inspector’s lodge.

The most economical, and perhaps the most convenient, way of warming the cells and area, would be by flues surrounding it, upon the principle of those in hot-houses. A total want of every means of producing artificial heat might, in such weather as we sometimes have in England, be fatal to the lives of the prisoners; at any rate, it would often times be altogether incompatible with their working at any sedentary employment. The flues, however, and the fire-places belonging to them, instead of being on the outside, as in hot-houses, should be in the inside. By this means, there would be less waste of heat, and the current of air that would rush in on all sides through the cells, to supply the draught made by the fires, would answer so far the purpose of ventilation. But of this more under the head of Hospitals.*

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Crecheff in White Russia


So far as to the characteristic parts of the principle of construction. You may now, perhaps, be curious to know to what extent a building upon this principle is capable of being carried, consistently with the various purposes to which it may come to be applied. Upon this subject, to speak with confidence belongs only to architects by profession. Indulge me, however, with a few words at a venture.

As to the cells, they will of course be more or less spacious, according to the employment which it is designed should be carried on in them.

As to the whole building, if it be too small, the circumference will not be large enough to afford a sufficient number of cells: if too large, the depth from the exterior windows will be too great; and there will not be light enough in the lodge.

As to this individual building of my brother’s, the dimensions of it were determined by the consideration of the most convenient scantlings of the timbers, (that being in his situation the cheapest material,) and by other local considerations. It is to have two stories, and the diameter of the whole building is to be 100 feet out and out.

Merely to help conception, I will take this size for an example of such a building as he would propose for England.

Taking the diameter 100 feet, this admits of 48 cells, 6 feet wide each at the outside, walls included; with a passage through the building, of 8 or 9 feet.

I begin with supposing two stories of cells.

In the under story, thickness of the walls 2½ feet.

From thence, clear depth of each cell from the window to the grating, 13 feet.

From thence to the ends of the partition walls, 3 feet more; which gives the length of the protracted partitions.

Breadth of the intermediate area, 14.

Total from the outside of the building to the lodge, 32½ feet.

The double of this, 65 feet, leaves for the diameter of the lodge, 35 feet; including the thickness of its walls.

In the upper story, the cells will be but 9 feet deep; the difference between that and the 13 feet, which is their depth in the under story, being taken up by a gallery which surrounds the protracted partitions.

This gallery supplies, in the upper story, the place of an intermediate area on that floor; and by means of steps, which I shall come to presently, forms the communication between the upper story of cells to which it is attached, and the lower story of the cells, together with the intermediate area and the lodge.

The spot most remote from the place where the light comes in from, I mean the centrical spot of the building and of the lodge, will not be more than 50 feet distant from that place; a distance not greater, I imagine, than what is often times exemplified in churches; even Edition: current; Page: [43] in such as are not furnished in the manner of this building, with windows in every part of the exterior boundary. But the inspector’s windows will not be more than about 32½ feet from the open light.

It would be found convenient, I believe, on many accounts, and in most instances, to make one story of the lodge serve for two stories of the cells; especially in any situation where ground is valuable, the number of persons to be inspected large, the room necessary for each person not very considerable, and frugality and necessity more attended to than appearance.

For this purpose, the floor of the ground story of the lodge is elevated to within about 4½ feet of the floor of the first story of the cells. By this means, the inspector’s eye, when he stands up, will be on, or a little above, the level of the floor of the above mentioned upper story of the cells; and, at any rate, he will command both that and the ground story of the cells without difficulty, and without change of posture.

As to the intermediate area, the floor of it is upon a level, not with the floor of the lodge, but with that of the lower story of the cells. But at the upper story of the cells, its place, as I have already mentioned, is supplied by the above-mentioned gallery; so that the altitude of this area from the floor to the ceiling is equal to that of both stories of the cells put together.

The floor of the lodge not being on a level with either story of the cells, but between both, it must at convenient intervals be provided with flights of steps, to go down to the ground story of the cells by the intermediate area, and up to the first floor of the cells by the gallery. The ascending flights, joined to the descending, enable the servants of the house to go to the upper story of the cells, without passing through the apartment of the inspector.

As to the height of the whole, and of the several parts, it is supposed that 18 feet might serve for the two stories of cells, to be inspected, as above, by one story of the lodge. This would hold 96 persons.

36 feet for four stories of cells, and two of the lodge: this would hold 192 persons.

54 feet for six stories of the cells, and three of the lodge: this would hold 288 persons.

And 54 feet, it is conceived, would not be an immoderate elevation.

The drawings which, I believe, will accompany this, suppose four for the number of stories of the cells.

You will see, under the head of hospitals, the reasons why I conceive that even a less height than 9 feet, deducting the thickness of a floor supported by arches, might be sufficient for the cells.

The passage might have, for its height, either the height of one story, or of two stories of the cells, according as the number of those cells was two or four. The part over the passage might, in either case, be added to the lodge, to which it would thereby give a communication, at each end, with the world without doors, and ensure a keeper against the danger of finding himself a prisoner among his prisoners.

Should it be thought, that, in this way, the lodge would not have light enough, for the convenience of a man of a station competent to the office, the deficiency might be supplied by a void space left in that part, all the way up. You may call it if you please the central area. Into this space windows may open where they are wanted, from the apartments of the lodge. It may be either left open at the top, or covered with a sky-light. But this expedient, though it might add, in some respects, to the convenience of the lodge, could not but add considerably to the quantity and expense of the building.

On the other hand, it would be assistant to ventilation. Here, too, would be a proper place for the chapel: the prisoners remaining in their cells, and the windows of the lodge, which is almost all window, being thrown open. The advantages derivable from it in point of light and ventilation depending upon its being kept vacant, it can never be wanted for any profane use. It may therefore, with the greater propriety, be allotted to divine service, and receive a regular consecration. The pulpit and sounding-board may be moveable. During the term of service, the sky-light, at all other times kept as open as possible, might be shut.

Crecheff in White Russia


In my two last letters, I gave you such idea as it was in my power to give you by words, of this new plan of construction, considered in its most simple form. A few more with regard to what further extensions it may admit of.

The utmost number of persons that could be stowed in a single building of this sort, consistently with the purposes of each several institution, being ascertained, to increase the number, that of the buildings must of course be increased. Suppose two of these rotundas requisite: these two might, by a covered gallery constructed upon the same principles, be consolidated into one inspection-house. And by the help of such a covered gallery, the field of inspection might be dilated to any extent.

If the number of rotundas were extended to four, a regular uncovered area might in Edition: current; Page: [44] that way be inclosed; and being surrounded by covered galleries, would be commanded in this manner from all sides, instead of being commanded only from one.

The area thus inclosed might be either circular like the buildings, or square, or oblong, as one or other of those forms were best adapted to the prevailing ideas of beauty or local convenience. A chain of any length, composed of inspection-houses adapted to the same or different purposes, might in this way be carried round an area of any extent.

On such a plan, either one inspector might serve for two or more rotundas, or if there were one to each, the inspective force, if I may use the expression, would be greater in such a compound building, than in any of the number singly taken, of which it was composed; since each inspector might be relieved occasionally by every other.

In the uncovered area thus brought within the field of inspection, out-door employments, or any employments requiring a greater covered space than the general form of construction will allow, might be carried on upon the same principle. A kitchen-garden might then be cultivated for the use of the whole society, by a few members of it at a time, to whom such an opportunity of airing and exercising themselves would be a refreshment and indulgence.

Many writers have expatiated with great force and justice, on the unpopular and unedifying cast of that undistinguishing discipline, which, in situation and treatment, confounds the lot of those who may prove innocent, with the lot of those who have been proved to be guilty. The same roof, it has been said, ought not to inclose persons who stand in predicaments so dissimilar. In a combination of inspection-houses, this delicacy might be observed without any abatement of that vigilance with regard to safe custody, which in both cases is equally indispensable.

Crecheff in White Russia


It may be of use, that among all the particulars you have seen, it should be clearly understood what circumstances are, and what are not, essential to the plan. The essence of it consists, then, in the centrality of the inspector’s situation, combined with the wellknown and most effectual contrivances for seeing without being seen. As to the general form of the building, the most commodious for most purposes seems to be the circular: but this is not an absolutely essential circumstance. Of all figures, however, this, you will observe, is the only one that affords a perfect view, and the same view, of an indefinite number of apartments of the same dimensions: that affords a spot from which, without any change of situation, a man may survey, in the same perfection, the whole number, and without so much as a change of posture, the half of the whole number, at the same time: that, within a boundary of a given extent, contains the greatest quantity of room:—that places the centre at the least distance from the light:—that gives the cells most width, at the part where, on account of the light, most light may, for the purposes of work, be wanted:—and that reduces to the greatest possible shortness the path taken by the inspector, in passing from each part of the field of inspection to every other.

You will please to observe, that though perhaps it is the most important point, that the persons to be inspected should always feel themselves as if under inspection, at least as standing a great chance of being so, yet it is not by any means the only one. If it were, the same advantage might be given to buildings of almost any form. What is also of importance is, that for the greatest proportion of time possible, each man should actually be under inspection. This is material in all cases, that the inspector may have the satisfaction of knowing, that the discipline actually has the effect which it is designed to have: and it is more particularly material in such cases where the inspector, besides seeing that they conform to such standing rules as are prescribed, has more or less frequent occasion to give them such transient and incidental directions as will require to be given and enforced, at the commencement at least of every course of industry. And I think, it needs not much argument to prove, that the business of inspection, like every other, will be performed to a greater degree of perfection, the less trouble the performance of it requires.

Not only so, but the greater chance there is, of a given person’s being at a given time actually under inspection, the more strong will be the persuasion—the more intense, if I may say so, the feeling, he has of his being so. How little turn soever the greater number of persons so circumstanced may be supposed to have for calculation, some rough sort of calculation can scarcely, under such circumstances, avoid forcing itself upon the rudest mind. Experiment, venturing first upon slight trangressions, and so on, in proportion to success, upon more and more considerable ones, will not fail to teach him the difference between a loose inspection and a strict one.

It is for these reasons, that I cannot help looking upon every form as less and less eligible, in proportion as it deviates from the circular.

A very material point is, that room be Edition: current; Page: [45] allotted to the lodge sufficient to adapt it to the purpose of a complete and constant habitation for the principal inspector or headkeeper, and his family. The more numerous also the family, the better; since, by this means, there will in fact be as many inspectors, as the family consists of persons, though only one be paid for it. Neither the orders of the inspector himself, nor any interest which they may feel, or not feel, in the regular performance of his duty, would be requisite to find them motives adequate to the purpose. Secluded oftentimes, by their situation, from every other object, they will naturally, and in a manner unavoidably, give their eyes a direction conformable to that purpose, in every momentary interval of their ordinary occupations. It will supply in their instance the place of that great and constant fund of entertainment to the sedentary and vacant in towns—the looking out of the window. The scene, though a confined, would be a very various, and therefore, perhaps, not altogether an unamusing one.

Crecheff in White Russia


I flatter myself there can now be little doubt of the plan’s possessing the fundamental advantages I have been attributing to it: I mean, the apparent omnipresence of the inspector (if divines will allow me the expression,) combined with the extreme facility of his real presence.

A collateral advantage it possesses, and on the score of frugality a very material one, is that which respects the number of the inspectors requisite. If this plan required more than another, the additional number would form an objection, which, were the difference to a certain degree considerable, might rise so high as to be conclusive: so far from it, that a greater multitude than ever were yet lodged in one house might be inspected by a single person; for the trouble of inspection is diminished in no less proportion than the strictness of inspection is increased.

Another very important advantage, whatever purposes the plan may be applied to, particularly where it is applied to the severest and most coercive purposes, is, that the under keepers or inspectors, the servants and subordinates of every kind, will be under the same irresistible controul with respect to the head keeper or inspector, as the prisoners or other persons to be governed are with respect to them. On the common plans, what means, what possibility, has the prisoner, of appealing to the humanity of the principal for redress against the neglect or oppression of subordinates in that rigid sphere, but the few opportunities which, in a crowded prison, the most conscientious keeper can afford—but the none at all which many a keeper thinks fit to give them? How different would their lot be upon this plan!

In no instance could his subordinates either perform or depart from their duty, but he must know the time and degree and manner of their doing so. It presents an answer, and that a satisfactory one, to one of the most puzzling of political questions—quis custodiet ipsos custodes? And, as the fulfilling of his, as well as their, duty would be rendered so much easier, than it can ever have been hitherto, so might, and so should, any departure from it be punished with the more inflexible severity. It is this circumstance that renders the influence of this plan not less beneficial to what is called liberty, than to necessary coercion; not less powerful as a controul upon subordinate power, than as a curb to delinquency; as a shield to innocence, than as a scourge to guilt.

Another advantage, still operating to the same ends, is the great load of trouble and disgust which it takes off the shoulders of those occasional inspectors of a higher order, such as judges and other magistrates, who, called down to this irksome task from the superior ranks of life, cannot but feel a proportionable repugnance to the discharge of it. Think how it is with them upon the present plans, and how it still must be upon the best plans that have been hitherto devised! The cells or apartments, however constructed, must, if there be nine hundred of them (as there were to have been upon the penitentiary-house plan,) be opened to the visitors, one by one. To do their business to any purpose, they must approach near to, and come almost in contact with each inhabitant; whose situation being watched over according to no other than the loose methods of inspection at present practicable, will on that account require the more minute and troublesome investigation on the part of these occasional superintendents. By this new plan, the disgust is entirely removed, and the trouble of going into such a room as the lodge, is no more than the trouble of going into any other.

Were Newgate upon this plan, all Newgate might be inspected by a quarter of an hour’s visit to Mr. Akerman.

Among the other causes of that reluctance, none at present so forcible, none so unhappily well grounded, none which affords so natural an excuse, nor so strong a reason against accepting of any excuse, as the danger of infection—a circumstance which carries death, in one of its most tremendous forms, from the seat of guilt to the seat of justice, involving in one common catasťrophe the violator and the upholder of the laws. But in a spot so constructed, and under a Edition: current; Page: [46] course of discipline so insured, how should infection ever arise? or how should it continue? Against every danger of this kind, what private house of the poor, one might almost say, or even of the most opulent, can be equally secure?

Nor is the disagreeableness of the task of superintendence diminished by this plan, in a much greater degree than the efficacy of it is increased. On all others, be the superintendent’s visit ever so unexpected, and his motions ever so quick, time there must always be for preparations blinding the real state of things. Out of nine hundred cells, he can visit but one at a time, and, in the meanwhile, the worst of the others may be arranged, and the inhabitants threatened, and tutored how to receive him. On this plan, no sooner is the superintendent announced, than the whole scene opens instantaneously to his view.

In mentioning inspectors and superintendents who are such by office, I must not overlook that system of inspection, which, however little heeded, will not be the less useful and efficacious: I mean, the part which individuals may be disposed to take in the business, without intending, perhaps, or even without thinking of, any other effects of their visits, than the gratification of their own particular curiosity. What the inspector’s or keeper’s family are with respect to him, that, and more, will these spontaneous visitors be to the superintendent,—assistants, deputies, in so far as he is faithful, witnesses and judges, should he ever be unfaithful, to his trust. So as they are but there, what the motives were that drew them thither is perfectly immaterial; whether the relieving of their anxieties by the affecting prospect of their respective friends and relatives thus detained in durance, or merely the satisfying that general curiosity, which an establishment, on various accounts so interesting to human feelings, may naturally be expected to excite.

You see, I take for granted as a matter of course, that under the necessary regulations for preventing interruption and disturbance, the doors of these establishments will be, as, without very special reasons to the contrary, the doors of all public establishments ought to be, thrown wide open to the body of the curious at large—the great open committee of the tribunal of the world. And who ever objects to such publicity, where it is practicable, but those whose motives for objection afford the strongest reasons for it?

Crecheff in White Russia


Decomposing the plan, I will now take the liberty of offering a few separate considerations, applicable to the different purposes to which it appears capable of being applied.

A Penitentiary-house, more particularly is (I am sorry I must correct myself, and say, was to have been) what every prison might, and in some degree at least ought to be, designed at once as a place of safe custody, and a place of labour. Every such place must necessarily be, whether designed or not, an hospital—a place where sickness will be found at least, whether provision be or be not made for its relief. I will consider this plan in its application to these three distinguishable purposes.

Against escapes, and in particular on the part of felons of every description, as well before as after conviction, persons from the desperateness of whose situation attempts to escape are more particularly to be apprehended, it would afford, as I dare say you see already, a degree of security, which, perhaps, has been scarce hitherto reached by conception, much less by practice. Overpowering the guard requires an union of hands, and a concert among minds. But what union, or what concert, can there be among persons, no one of whom will have set eyes on any other from the first moment of his entrance? Undermining walls, forcing iron bars, requires commonly a concert, always a length of time exempt from interruption. But who would think of beginning a work of hours and days, without any tolerable prospect of making so much as the first motion towards it unobserved? Such attempts have been seldom made without the assistance of implements introduced by accomplices from without. But who would expose themselves even to the slightest punishment, or even to the mortification of the disappointment, without so much as a tolerable chance of escaping instantaneous detection?—Who would think of bringing in before the keeper’s face, so much as a small file, or a phial of aqua fortis, to a person not prepared to receive any such thing, nor in a condition to make use of it?* Upon all plans hitherto pursued, the thickest walls have been found occasionally unavailing: upon this plan, the thinnest would be sufficient—a circumstance which must operate, in a striking degree, towards a diminution of the expense.

In this, as in every other application of the Edition: current; Page: [47] plan, you will find its lenient, not less conspicuous than its coercive, tendency; insomuch that, if you were to be asked who had most cause to wish for its adoption, you might find yourself at some loss to determine between the malefactors themselves, and those for whose sake they are consigned to punishment.

In this view I am sure you cannot overlook the effect which it would have in rendering unnecessary that inexhaustible fund of disproportionate, too often needless, and always unpopular severity, not to say torture—the use of irons. Confined in one of these cells, every motion of the limbs, and every muscle of the face exposed to view, what pretence could there be for exposing to this hardship the most boisterous malefactor? Indulged with perfect liberty within the space allotted to him, in what worse way could he vent his rage, than by beating his head against the walls? and who but himself would be a sufferer by such folly? Noise, the only offence by which a man thus engaged could render himself troublesome (an offence, by the bye, against which irons themselves afford no security,) might, if found otherwise incorrigible, be subdued by gagging—a most natural and efficacious mode of prevention, as well as punishment, the prospect of which would probably be for ever sufficient to render the infliction of it unnecessary. Punishment, even in its most hideous forms, loses its odious character, when bereft of that uncertainty, without which the rashest desperado would not expose himself to its stroke. If an instance be wanted, think what the means are, which the so much admired law of England makes use of, and that in one of its most admired branches, to work, not upon criminals, but upon its favourite class of judges? what but death? and that no common death, but death the slow but necessary result of lingering torture. And yet, whatever other reproach the law may be thought to merit, in what instance was it ever seen to expose itself in this way to the reproach of cruelty?

Crecheff in White Russia


In my last, I endeavoured to state to you the advantages which a receptacle, upon the plan of the proposed building, seemed to promise in its application to places of confinement, considered merely in that view. Give me leave now to consider it as applicable to the joint purposes of punishment, reformation, and pecuniary economy.

That in regard to persons of the description of those to whom punishments of the nature in question are destined, solitude is in its nature subservient to the purpose of reformation, seems to be as little disputed, as its tendency to operate in addition to the mass of sufferance. But that upon this plan that purpose would be effected, at least as completely as it could be on any other, you cannot but see at the first glance, or rather you must have observed already. In the condition of our prisoners (for so I will call them for shortness sake) you may see the student’s paradox, nunquam minus solus quam cum solus, realized in a new way: to the keeper, a multitude, though not a crowd; to themselves, they are solitary and sequestered individuals.

What is more, you will see this purpose answered more completely by this plan, than it could possibly be on any other. What degree of solitude it was proposed to reduce them to in the once-intended penitentiary-houses, need not be considered. But for one purpose, in buildings of any mode of construction that could then and there have been in view, it would have been necessary, according to the express regulations of that plan, that the law of solitude should be dispensed with; I mean, so often as the prisoners were to receive the benefits of attendance on Divine service. But in my brother’s circular penitentiary-houses, they might receive these benefits, in every circumstance, without stirring from their cells. No thronging nor jostling in the way between the scene of work and the scene destined to devotion; no quarrellings, nor confederatings, nor plottings to escape; nor yet any whips or fetters to prevent it.

Crecheff in White Russia


I am come now to the article of pecuniary economy; and as this is the great rock upon which the original penitentiary-plan I understand has split, I cannot resist the temptation of throwing out a few hints relative to the mode of management, which I look upon as the most eligible in this view; but which could not, as you will see, have been established with anything like the advantage, upon any other ground than that of my brother’s inspection principle.

To come to the point at once, I would do the whole by contract. I would farm out the profits, the no-profits, or if you please the losses, to him who, being in other respects unexceptionable, offered the best terms. Undertaking an enterprise new in its extent, in the description of the persons to be subjected to his management, and in many other circumstances, his success in if, if he does succeed, may be regarded in the light of an invention, and rewarded accordingly, just as Edition: current; Page: [48] success in other inventions is rewarded, by the profit which a monopoly secured by patent enables a man to make; and that in proportion to the success which constitutes their merit. He should have it during good behaviour; which you know is as much as to say, unless specific instances of misbehaviour, flagrant enough to render his removal expedient, be proved on him in a legal way, he shall have it for his life. Besides that when thus secured he can afford to give the better price for his bargain, you will presently see more material reasons to counterbalance the seeming unthriftiness of granting him a term, which may prove so long a one. In other respects, the terms of the contract must, of course, depend upon the proportion of capital, of which the contract gave him the use. Supposing the advance to amount to the whole manufacturing stock, he must of course either pay something for his contract, or be contented with a share of the gross profits, instead of the whole, unless that from such profits an interest upon the capital so advanced to him should be deducted: in which case, nobody, I suppose, would grudge him the whole net profit after such deduction, even though the rate of interest were much below the ordinary one: the difference between such reduced rate of interest and the ordinary one, would constitute the whole of the expense which the public would be at. Suppose, to speak at random, this expense were to amount to £6000, £8000, or £10,000 a-year, for the 3000 convicts which, it was computed, would be the standing number to be maintained in England,* I should not imagine that such a sum as even this latter would be much grudged. I fancy the intended expedition to Botany Bay, of which I am just apprized, will be rather more expensive. Not that it appears to me that the nation would remain saddled with any such expense as this at the long run, or indeed with any part of it. But of this hereafter.

In the next place, I would give my contractor all the powers that his interest could prompt him to wish for, in order to enable him to make the most of his bargain, with only some slight reservations, which I will mention afterwards; for very slight ones you will find they will be, that can be needful or even serviceable in the view of preventing abuse.

But the greater latitude he has in taking such measures, the less will he grudge the letting it be known what the measures are which he does take, knowing, at the same time, that no advantage can be taken of such knowledge, by turning him out in case of his success, and putting in another to reap the fruits of his contrivance. I will then require him to disclose, and even to print and publish his accounts—the whole process and detail of his management—the whole history of the prison. I will require him, I say, on pain of forfeiture or other adequate punishment, to publish these accounts, and that upon oath. I have no fear of his not publishing some accounts, because, if the time is elapsed and some accounts not published—a fact not liable to dispute—the punishment takes place of course: and I have not much fear that the accounts, when published, will not be true; because, having power to do every thing that is for his advantage, there is nothing which it is his interest to conceal; and the interest which the punishment for perjury gives him not to conceal, is manifest, more especially as I make him examinable and cross-examinable viva voce upon oath at any time.

It is for clearing away as much as possible every motive of pecuniary interest that could prompt him to throw any kind of cloak or reserve upon any of his expedients for increasing his profits, that I would insure them to him for life.

From the information thus got from him, I derive this advantage. In the case of his ill success, I see the causes of it, and not only I, but every body else that pleases, may see the causes of it; and amongst the rest, those who, in case of their taking the management out of his hands, would have an interest in being acquainted with such causes, in order to obviate or avoid them. More than that, if his ill success is owing to incapacity, and that incapacity such as, if continued, might raise my expense above the calculation, I can make him stop in time—a measure to which he can have as little objection as myself; for it is one advantage of this plan, that whatever mischief happens must have more than eaten out all his profits before it reaches me.

In the case of his good success, I see the causes of that too; and every body sees them, as before; and, amongst others, all persons who could propose to themselves to get into a situation similar to his, and who in such case would naturally promise themselves, in the event of their getting into his situation, a success equal to his—or rather superior; for such is the presumption and vanity natural to man.

Without such publication, whom should I have to deal with, besides him? certainly, in comparison, but a very few; not many more than I may have had at first: the terms, of course, disadvantageous as at first; for disadvantageous terms at first, while all is yet in darkness, they certainly must be.

After such publication, whom should I have then? I should have every body; every body who, by fortune, experience, judgment, Edition: current; Page: [49] disposition, should conceive himself able, and find himself inclined, to engage in such a business; and each person seeing what advantage had been made, and how, would be willing to make his offer in proportion. What situation more favourable for making the best terms?

These best terms, then, I should make at his death, even for his establishment; but long before that, had I others upon the carpet, I should make similar good terms for all those others. Thus I make his advantage mine, not only after it has ceased to be his, but almost as soon as it commences so to be: I thus get his success in all the rest, by paying for it only in the one; and in that not more than it was necessary to pay for it.

But contractors, you will say perhaps, or at least if you don’t, there are enough that will, “are a good-for-nothing set of people; and why should we be fleeced by them? One of them perjured himself not long ago, and we put him into the pillory. They are the same sort of gentry that are called farmers-general in France, and publicans in the Gospel, where they are ranked with sinners; and nobody likes them anywhere.” All this, to be sure, is very true: but if you put one of them into the pillory, you put another of them into the post-office; and if in the devoted city five righteous would have screened the whole gang from the perdition called for by the enormities of ninety-five unrighteous, why should not the merits of one Palmer be enough to make it up for the demerits of twenty Atkinsons? Gentlemen in general, as I have had manifold occasion to observe, love close reasoning, and here they have it. It might be thought straying from the point, if I ventured to add, that gentlemen in the corn trade, or in any other trade, have not commonly quite so many witnesses to their bargains, as my contractor would have to the management of his house.

Crecheff in White Russia


In my last I troubled you with my sentiments on the duration of the first contract, and the great article of publicity in the management, which was my motive for admitting of a duration so unlimited. But long before my contractor and I had come to any settlement about these points, he would have found various questions to propose to me. One thing he would not fail to say to me is—What trades may I put my men to when I have got them? My answer is soon given. Any whatever that you can persuade them to turn their hands to. Now, then, Sir, let us think for a moment, if you please, what trades it may be most for his advantage to put them to, and what it is therefore most likely he should be disposed to put them to.

That he may get the better view of them, I throw them into four classes. In the first, I place those who already are possessed of businesses capable of being carried on with advantage in the prison: in the second, those trained up to businesses which, though not capable in themselves of being carried on within such limits, yet by the similarity of operation have a tendency to render it more or less easy for a man to learn some of those other businesses which are: in the third rank, I would place such as had been trained up indeed to industry, but to branches which have no such tendency as I have just mentioned; such, for instance, as porters, coalheavers, gardeners, and husbandmen. In the last I would place men regularly brought up to the profession of thieving, and others who have never been brought up to any kind of industry. Some names for these different classes I may as well endeavour to find as not; for names they must have when they get into their house; and if I perform not that business myself, somebody else must do it for me. I will call them the good hands, the capable hands, the promising hands, and the drones. As to the capable hands, they will, of course, be the more valuable, the nearer the businesses they understand approach to those of the good ones; in other words, the less difficulty there would be in teaching the latter the business of the former. The same observation of course applies to the promising hands; in as far as the advantage which the one possess by habit the others may appear to possess by disposition. Lower down in the scale of detail I will not attempt to lead you.

You have a very pretty law in England for enriching the country, by keeping boys backward, and preventing men from following the trades they could get most by. If I were jealous of Russia’s growing too rich, and being able to buy too many of our goods, I would try to get such a law as that introduced among these stupid people here, who have never yet had the sense to think of any such thing. Having no such jealousy against any country, much less against my own Utopia, I would beg that law might be banished from within my walls. I fancy my contractor would be as well pleased with its room as its company; and as the same indulgence has been granted to other persons of whose industry no great jealousy seems to be entertained, such as soldiers and sailors, I have no great fear the indulgence would be denied me. Much I believe is not apprehended in that way from the red-coats and jack-tars; and still less, I believe, would be apprehended from my heroes.

This stumbling-block cleared away, the Edition: current; Page: [50] first thing I imagine my contractor would do, would be to set to work his good hands; to whom he would add as many of his capable hands as he could muster.

With his promising hands and his drones, he would set up a manufacture. What, then, shall this manufacture be? It may be this, and that, and t’other thing, says the hard-labour bill: it shall be anything or everything, say I.

As to the question, What sort of manufacture or manufacturer would be likely to answer best? it is a discussion I will not attempt to lead you into, for I do not propose at present to entertain you with a critical examination of the several actual and possible manufactures, established and establishable in Great Britain. The case, I imagine, would be, that some manufacturer or other would be the man I should have for my contractor—a man who, being engaged in some sort of business that was easy to learn, and doing pretty well with as many hands as he was able to get upon the ordinary terms, might hope to do better still with a greater number, whom he could get upon much better terms. Now, whether there are any such manufacturers, and how many, is what I cannot so well tell you, especially at this distance; but, if you think it worth while to ask Mr. Daily Advertiser, or Mr. St. James’ Chronicle, I fancy it will not be long before you get some answer.

In my View of the Hard-Labour Bill, I ventured to throw out a hint upon the subject of putting the good hands to their own trades. Whether any and what use was made of that hint, I cannot recollect; for neither the act which passed afterwards, nor any chapter of that history, has travelled with me to Crecheff; nor should I have had a single scrap of paper to refresh my memory on that subject, but for the copy of my own pamphlet which I found on my brother’s shelf. The general notion seemed to be, that as the people were to be made to work for their punishment, the works to be given to them should be somewhat which they would not like; and, in that respect, it looks as if the consideration of punishment, with its appendage of reformation, had kept the other of economy a little behind the curtain. But I neither see the great danger nor the great harm of a man’s liking his work too well; and how well soever he might have liked it elsewhere, I should still less apprehend his liking the thought of having it to do there. Supposing no sage regulations made by any body to nail them to this or that sort of work, the work they would naturally fall upon under the hands of a contractor would be that, whatever it might be, by which there was most money to be made; for the more the prisoner-workman got, the more the master could get out of him; so that upon that point I should have little fear of their not agreeing. Nor do I see why labour should be the less reforming for being profitable. On the contrary, among working men, especially among working men whom the discipline of the house would so effectually keep from all kinds of mischief, I must confess I know of no test of reformation so plain or so sure as the improved quantity and value of their work.

It looks, however, as if the authors of the above provision had not quite so much faith in such an arrangement as I must confess I have. For the choice of the trade was not to be left to the governor of the prison, much less to the prisoner-workman, but was given to superintending committees of justices of the peace. In choosing among the employments exemplified, and other similar ones (for if I mistake not this restriction of similarity was subjoined) it was indeed recommended to those magistrates to take “such employments as they should deem most conducive to profit.” But the profit here declared to be in view was, not the profit of the workman or his master the governor, but I know not what profit “of the district,” the “convenience” of which (though I know not what convenience there could be, distinct from profit) was another land-mark given them to steer by. If you cast an eye on the trades exemplified (as I believe I must beg you to do presently) you will find some difficulty, I believe, in conceiving that in the choice of them the article of profit could have been the uppermost consideration. Nor was this all; for besides the vesting of the choice of the employments in committees of justices in the first instance, the same magistrates are called upon to exercise their judgment and ingenuity in dividing the prisoners into classes; in such sort, that the longer a man had stayed in the house his labour should be less and less “severe,” exception made for delinquency, in which case a man might at any time be turned down from an upper class to a lower. But had the matter been left to a contractor and his prisoner-workmen, they would have been pretty sure to pitch upon, and to stick to, what would be most conducive to their profit, and by that means to the profit of the district; and that without any recommendation. Whether the effect of that recommendation would have been equally sure upon the above-mentioned magistrates, would have remained to be decided by experience. Understanding me to be speaking merely of a magistrate in the abstract, you will forgive my saying, that in this one point I have not quite so great a confidence in a set of gentlemen of that description, as I have in that sort of knave called a contractor. I see no sort of danger, that to the contractor there should be any one object upon earth dearer than the interest of the contractor; but I see some Edition: current; Page: [51] danger that there may be, now and then by accident, some other object rather dearer to the magistrate. Among these rival objects, if we do not always reckon the pleasure of plaguing the contractor, should he and the magistrate chance not to agree, we may however not unfrequently reckon the exercise of his (the magistrate’s) own power, and the display of his own wisdom; the former of which, he may naturally enough conceive, was not given to him for nothing, nor the latter confided in without cause. You must, I think, before now have met with examples of men, that had rather a plan of the public’s, or even of an individual’s for whom they had a more particular regard, should miscarry under their management, than prosper under a different one.

But if, without troubling yourself about general theories of human nature, you have a mind for a more palpable test of the propriety of this reasoning, you may cut the matter short enough, by making an experiment upon a contractor, and trying whether he will give you as good terms with these clogs about him, as he would without them. Sure I am, that, were I in his place, I should require no small abatement to be made to me, if, instead of choosing the employments for my own men, I was liable at every turn to have them taken out of my hands and put to different employments, by A, B, and C to-day, and by X, Y, and Z to-morrow.

Upon the whole, you will not wonder that I should have my doubts at present, whether the plan was rendered much better for these ingenious but complicated refinements. They seemed mighty fine to me at the time, for when I saw contrivance, I expected success proportionable.

Crecheff in White Russia


So far as to the choice of businesses: As to the new ones, I see no reason why any point should be made of multiplying them: a single one, well chosen, may answer the purpose, just as well as ever so many more. I mention this, because though it may be easy to find one species of manufacture, or five, or ten, that might answer with workmen so cramped, and in a situation so confined, it might not be quite so easy to find fifty or a hundred. The number of hands for which employment is to be found, can scarcely be admitted as a reason for multiplying the subjects of manufacture. In such a nation as Great Britain, it is difficult to conceive that the greatest number of hands that can be comprised in such an establishment, should be great enough to overstock the market; and if this island of ours is not big enough, this globe of ours is still bigger. In many species of manufacture, the work is performed with more and more advantage, as every body knows, the more it can be divided; and, in many instances, what sets bounds to that division, is rather the number of hands the master can afford to maintain, than any other circumstance.

When one turns to the hard-labour bill, it looks as if the framers of it had been under some anxiety to find out businesses that they thought might do in their penitentiary-houses, and to make known the result of their discoveries. It accordingly proposes for consideration a variety of examples. For such of the prisoners as were to be worked the hardest: 1. treading in a wheel; 2. drawing in a capstern for turning a mill or other machine or engine; 3. beating hemp; 4. rasping logwood; 5. chopping rags; 6. sawing timber; 7. working at forges; 8. smelting. For those who are to be most favoured: 1. making ropes; 2. weaving sacks; 3. spinning yarn; 4. knitting nets.

I find some difficulty, however, in conceiving to what use this instruction was destined, unless it were the edification of that class of legislators, more frequently quoted for worth than knowledge—the country gentlemen. To some gentlemen of that respectable description, it might, for aught I know, be matter of consolation to see that industry could find so many shapes to assume, on such a stage. But if it was designed to give a general view of the purposes to which manual labour may be applied, it goes not very far, and there are publications enough that go some hundreds of times farther. If the former of its two chapters was designed as a specimen of such works of a particularly laborious cast, as are capable of being carried on to the greatest advantage, or with least advance of capital, or with the greatest security, against workmen of so refractory a complexion—or if either chapter was destined as a specimen of employments that required least extent of room—in any of these cases the specimen seems not a very happy one:—1st and 2d, Of the treading in a wheel, or drawing in a capstern for turning a mill, nothing can be said in respect of pecuniary productiveness, till the mill, the machine, or the engine, are specified; nor anything that can be found to distinguish them from other employments, except the room and the expense which such implements seem more particularly to require, 3d, Beating of hemp is a business too proverbial to be unknown to any body, and in those establishments where it has had compulsion for its motive, has not hitherto, I believe, proved a very profitable one; and if I may believe people who are of the trade, and who have no interest to mialead me, Edition: current; Page: [52] hemp beaten by hand, though it takes more labour, does not fetch so good a price, as when beaten at a water-mill. 4th, Rasping logwood is an employment which is said by Mr. Howard, I think, and others, to be carried on in some work-houses of Holland, and I believe to some profit. But I know it has been carried on likewise by the natural primum mobiles; witness a wind-mill, which, I remember, a tenant of yours employed in this way; and I can conceive few operations in which those natural powers promise to have greater advantage over the human. 5th, Chopping rags is a business that can answer no other purpose than the supplying materials for paper-mills, which cannot anywhere be established without a supply of running-water—an element which, I am sure in many, and, I am apt to think, in all paper-mills hitherto established, affords for this operation a primum mobile much more advantageous than human labour. In the 6th, 7th, and 8th examples, viz. sawing timber, working at forges, and smelting, I see nothing to distinguish them very remarkably from three hundred others that might be mentioned, unless it be the great room they all of them occupy, the great and expensive establishment which they suppose, or the dangerous weapons which they put into the hands of any workman who may be disposed to turn that property to account. 9th, As to rope making, which stands at the head of the less laborious class, besides being, as I always understood, remarkably otherwise, it has the particular property of taking up more room than, I believe, any other manufacturing employment that was ever thought of. As to the three last articles of the dozen, viz. weaving sacks, spinning yarn, and knitting nets, I know of no particular objections that can be made to them, any more than to three score others. But, without going a stone’s throw from the table I am writing upon, I could find more than as many businesses, which pay better in England, than these three last, in other respects exceptionable ones, which are as easy to learn, take up as little room, and require a capital nearly, or quite as moderate, to set up. By coming here, if I have learnt nothing else, I have learnt what the human powers are capable of, when unfettered by the arbitrary regulations of an unenlightened age; and gentlemen may say what they please, but they shall never persuade me that in England those powers are in any remarkable degree inferior to what they are in Russia.* However, not having the mantle of legislation to screen me from the ridicule of going beyond my last, I forbear to specify even what I have under my eye, knowing that in Mr. Arthur Young, a gentleman whom no one can accuse of hiding his candle under a bushel, anybody that chooses it might find an informant, who, on this, as well as so many other important subjects, for every grain of information I could give, could give a thousand.

But without any disparagement to that gentleman, for whose public-spirited labours and well-directed talents no man feels greater respect than I do, there are other persons, who on these same subjects could, for such a purpose, give still more and better information than he, and who would not be less communicative: I mean, as before, Mr. Daily Advertiser and his brethren.

There are two points in politics very hard to compass. One is, to persuade legislators that they do not understand shoemaking better than shoemakers; the other is, to persuade shoemakers that they do not understand legislating better than legislators. The latter point is particularly difficult in our own dear country; but the other is the hardest of all hard things everywhere.

Crecheff in White Russia


The point, then, being settled, what trades the people may be employed in, another question my contractor will ask is, what powers he is to have put into his hands, as a means of persuading them to betake themselves to those trades? The shortest way of answering this question will be to tell him what powers he shall not have. In the first place then, he shall not starve them. “What then,” you will say perhaps, “do you think it likely that he would?” To speak the truth, for my own part I have no great fear of it. But others perhaps might. Besides, my notion is, that the law, in guarding itself against men, ought to do just the contrary of what the judge should do in trying them, especially where there is nothing to be lost by it. The business, you know, of the judge, is to presume them all honest till he is forced to suspect the contrary: the business of the law is to conclude them all, without exception, to be the greatest knaves and villains that can be imagined. My contractor, therefore, I make myself sure, would starve them—a good many of them at least—if he were let alone. He would starve, of course, all whom he could not make pay for their board, together with something for his trouble. But as I should get nothing by this economy, and might lose some credit by it, I have no mind it should take place. Bread, though as bad as wholesome bread can be, they shall have, Edition: current; Page: [53] then, in plenty: this and water, and nothing else. This they shall be certain of having, and, what is of full as much consequence, every body else that pleases shall be certain of their having it. My brethren of the would-be-reforming tribe may go and look at it at the baker’s: they may weigh it, if they will, and buy it, and carry it home, and give it to their children or their pigs. It shall be dealt out by sound of trumpet, if you please; and Christian starers may amuse themselves with seeing bad bread dealt out to felons, as Christian ambassadors are entertained with the sight of bags of bad money counted out to Janissaries. The latter wonder I saw: the other I assure you would give me much more pleasure.

With this saving clause, I deliver them over to the extortioner, and let him make the most of them. Let him sell porter at the price of port: and “humble port” at the price of “imperial tokay:” his customers might grumble, but I don’t think you would, and I am sure I should not: for it is for that they were put there. Never fear his being so much his own enemy, as to stand out for a price which nobody will give.

In the next place I don’t know that I should be for allowing him the power of beating his boarders, nor, in short, of punishing them in any shape. Anywhere else, such an exemption must have been visionary and impracticable. Without either punishment, or interest given him in the profits of his labour—an interest which, to get the better of so many adverse motives, must have been a pretty strong one, how could you have insured a man’s doing a single stroke of work? and, even with such interest, how could you have insured his not doing all sorts of mischief? As to mischief, I observed to you, under the article of safe custody, how easy their keeper might make himself upon that score: and as to work, I flatter myself you perceive already, that there need be no great fear of a want of inducements adequate to that purpose.

If, after all, it should be insisted that some power of correction would be absolutely necessary—for instance, in the case of a prisoner’s assaulting a keeper or teacher at the time of receiving his food or his instruction (a case which, though never very probable, would be always possible)—such a power, though less necessary here than anywhere else, might, on the other hand, be given with less danger. What tyranny could subsist under such a perfect facility of complaint as is the result of so perfect a facility of inspection? But on this head a word is sufficient, after what I have said in considering the general heads of advantage dependent on this principle. Other checks assistant to this are obvious enough. A correction-book might be kept, in which every instance of chastisement, with the cause for which it was administered, might be entered upon record: any the slightest act of punishment not entered to be considered as a lawless injury. If these checks be not enough, the presence of one or more persons, besides him by whom the correction was actually administered. might be required as witnesses of the mode and quantum of correction, and of the alleged cause.

But, besides preventing his starving them or using them ill, there is another thing I should be much inclined to do, in order to make it his interest to take care of them. I would make him pay so much for every one that died, without troubling myself whether any care of his could have kept the man alive. To be sure, he would make me pay for this in the contract; but as I should receive it from him afterwards, what it cost me in the long run would be no great matter. He would get underwriter’s profit by me; but let him get that, and welcome.

Suppose three hundred prisoners; and that, out of that number of persons of their ages, ten, that is, one out of thirty, ought to die every year, were they taken at large. But persons of their character and in their condition, it may be expected, will die faster than honest men. Say, therefore, one in twenty, though I believe, as jails stand at present, if no more than one in ten die, or, for aught I know. out of a much smaller number, it may be thought very well. Give the contractor, then, for every man that ought to die, for instance ten pounds: that sum, repeated for every man in twenty among three hundred, will amount to a hundred and fifty pounds. Upon these terms, then, at the end of the year make him pay ten pounds for every man that has actually died within that time; to which you may add, or escaped, and I dare say he will have no objection. If by nursing them and making much of them he should find himself at the end of the year a few pounds the richer by his tenderness, who would grudge it him? If you have still any doubt of him, instead of the ten pounds you may put twenty: you will not be much the poorer for it. I don’t know, upon second thoughts, whether somewhat of this sort has not been put in practice, or at least proposed, for foundlings. Be that as it may, make but my contractor’s allowance large enough, and you need not doubt of his fondness of these his adopted children; of whom whosoever may chance while under his wing to depart this vale of tears, will be sure to leave one sincere mourner at least, without the parade of mourning.

Some perhaps may be for observing, that, upon my own principles, this contrivance would be of no use but to save the useless, Edition: current; Page: [54] since the contractor, of himself, knows better things than not to take care of a cow that will give milk. But, with their leave, I do not mean that even the useless should be starved; for if the judges had thought this proper, they would have said so.

The patrons of the hard-labour bill, proceeding with that caution and tenderness that pervades their whole system, have denied their governor, as they call him, the power of whipping. Some penal power, however, for putting a stop to mischief, was, under their plan, absolutely necessary. They preferred, as the mildest and less dangerous power, that of confining a man in a dark dungeon under ground, under a bread-and-water diet. I did then take the liberty to object against the choosing, by way of punishment, the putting of a man into a place which differed not from other places in any essential particular, but that of the chance it stood of proving unwholesome; proposing, at the same time, a very simple expedient, by which their ordinary habitations might be made to receive every other property of a dungeon; in short, the making of them dark.

But in one of my brother’s inspection-houses, there the man is in his dungeon already (the only sort of dungeon, at least, which I conceive any man need be in,) very safe and quiet. He is likewise entertaining himself with his bread and water, with only one little circumstance in his favour, that whenever he is tired of that regimen, it is in his own power to put himself under a better: unless my contractor chooses to fine himself for the purpose of punishing his boarder—an act of cruelty which I am in no great dread of.

In short, bating the checks you have seen, and which certainly are not very complicated, the plan of establishment which such a principle of construction seems, now at least, if not for the first time, to render eligible, and which as such I have been venturing to recommend, is exactly upon a par, in point of simplicity, with the forced and temporary expedient of the ballast-lighters—a plan that has the most perfect simplicity to recommend it, and, I believe, not much else. The chief differences are, that convicts are not, in the inspection-houses, as in those lighters, jammed together in fetters under a master subject to no inspection, and scarce under any controul, having no interest in their welfare or their work, in a place of secret confinement, favourable to infection and to escapes.

Crecheff in White Russia


Understanding thus much of his situation, my contractor, I conceive, notwithstanding the checks you have seen, will hardly think it necessary to ask me how he is to manage to persuade his boarders to set to work.—Having them under this regimen, what better security he can wish for of their working, and that to their utmost, I can hardly imagine. At any rate, he has much better security than he can have for the industry and diligence of any ordinary journeyman at large, who is paid by the day, and not by the piece. If a man won’t work, nothing has he to do, from morning to night, but to eat his bad bread and drink his water, without a soul to speak to. If he will work, his time is occupied, and he has his meat and his beer, or whatever else his earnings may afford him, and not a stroke does he strike but he gets something, which he would not have got otherwise. This encouragement is necessary to his doing his utmost: but more than this is not necessary. It is necessary every exertion he makes should be sure of its reward; but it is not necessary that such reward be so great, or any thing near so great, as he might have had, had he worked elsewhere. The confinement, which is his punishment, preventing his carrying the work to another market, subjects him to a monopoly; which the contractor, his master, like any other monopolist, makes, of course, as much of as he can. The workman lives in a poor country, where wages are low; but in a poor country, a man who is paid according to his work will exert himself at least as much as in a rich one. According to Mr. Arthur Young, and the very cogent evidence he gives, he should work more: for more work that intelligent traveller finds always done in dear years than in plentiful ones: the earnings of one day affording, in the latter case, a fund for the extravagance of the next. But this is not all. His master may fleece him, if he pleases, at both ends. After sharing in his profits, he may again take a profit upon his expense. He would probably choose to employ both expedients together. The tax upon earnings, if it stood alone, might possibly appear liable to be evaded in some degree, and be frustrated in some cases, by a confederacy between the workmen and their employers out of doors; the tax upon expenditure, by their frugality, supposing that virtue to take root in such a soil; or in some instances, perhaps, by their generosity to their friends without doors. The tax upon earnings would probably not be laid on in an open way, upon any other than the good hands; whose traffic must be carried on, with or without his intervention, between them and their out-of-door employers. In the trades which he thought proper to set up of himself for his capable hands, his promising hands, and his drones, the tax might be levied in a more covert way by the lowering of the price paid by him, in comparison of the free prices given out of doors for similar work. Where he is Edition: current; Page: [55] sure of his men, as well with regard to their disposition to spend as with regard to their inability to collude, the tax upon expenditure, without any tax upon profits open or covert, would be the least discouraging: it would be the least discouraging for the present, as the earnings would sound greater to their ears; and with a view to the future, as they would thereby see (I mean such of them as had any hopes of releasement) what their earnings might at that happy period be expected to amount to, in reality as well as in name

Crecheff in White Russia


The circumstance touched upon at the close of my last letter, suggests another advantage, and that not an inconsiderable one, which you will find more particularly, if not exclusively, connected with the contract plan.

The turning of the prisoners’ labour into the most profitable channels being left free, depending upon the joint choice of the two only parties interested in pushing the advantage to the utmost, would afford a resource, and that I should conceive a sure one, for the subsistence of the prisoners, after the expiration of their terms. No trade that could be carried on in this state of thraldom, but could be carried on with at least equal advantage in a state of liberty. Both parties would probably find their account in continuing their manufacturing connexion, after the dissolution of every other. The workman, after the stigma cast on him by the place of his abode, would probably not find it so easy to get employment elsewhere. If he got it at all, it would be upon terms proportioned in some measure to the risk which an employer at large might think he would run on his own part, and in some cases to the danger of driving away fellow-workmen, by the introduction of an associate who might prove more or less unwelcome. He would therefore probably come cheaper to his former master than another man would; at the same time that he would get more from him in his free state than he had been used to get when confined.

Whether this resource was in contemplation with the planners of the hard-labour bill, I cannot pretend to say: I find not upon the face of that bill any proof of the affirmative. It provides a sum for each prisoner, partly for present subsistence, partly as a sort of little capital to be put into his pocket upon his discharge. But the sole measure assigned to this sum is the good behaviour of the party, not the sum required to set him up in whatever might have been his trade. Nor had the choice of his employment been left to the governor of the house, still less to the prisoner, but to committees of justices, as I observed before.

As to the Woolwich Academy, all ideas of reformation under that name, and of a continuance of the like industry as a means of future provision, seem there to have been equally out of the question. That they should hire lighters of their own to heave ballast from, does not appear to have been expected; and if any of them had had the fortune to possess trades of their own before, the scraping of gravel for three, five, or seven years together out of the river, had no particular tendency, that I can see, to rub up the recollection of those trades. The allowance upon discharge would, however, always have its use, though not always the same use. It might help to fit them out for trades; it might serve them to get drunk with; it might serve them to buy any house-breaking implements which they could not so well come at to steal.—The separation between the landlord and his guests must on his side have been rendered the less affecting, by the expectation which he could not but entertain of its proving but a short one. Nor was subsequent provision of one sort or other by any means wanting, for those who failed to find it there. The gallows was always ready with open arms to receive as many as the jail-fever should have refused.

Crecheff in White Russia


Many are the data with which a man ought to be furnished (and with not one of which am I furnished) before he pretended to speak upon any tolerable footing of assurance with regard to the advantage that might be expected in the view of pecuniary economy from the inspection plan. On the one hand, the average annual amount of the present establishments, whatever they are (for I confess I do not know,) for the disposal of convicts: The expected amount of the like average with regard to the measure which I have just learnt has been resolved upon, for sending colonies of them to New South Wales, including as well the maintenance of them till shipped, as the expense of the transportation, and the maintenance of them when they are got there:—On the other hand, the capital proposed to have been expended in the building and fitting up the experimental penitentiaryhouse:—The further capital proposed to have been expended in the furniture of it:—The sum proposed to have been allowed per man for the maintenance of the prisoners till the time when their labour might be expected to yield a produce. These points and a few others being ascertained, I should then be curious to know what degree of productiveness, Edition: current; Page: [56] if any, would be looked upon as giving to the measure of a penitentiary-house, either of any construction or of this extraordinary one, the pre-eminence upon the whole over any of the other modes of disposal now in practice or in contemplation. Many distinct points for the eye to rest upon in such a scale will readily occur:—1st, The produce might be barely sufficient to pay the expense of feeding;—2d, It might farther pay the expense of clothing;—3d, It might farther pay the expense of guarding and instructing, viz. the salaries or other emoluments of the numerous tribe of visitors, governors, jailors, task-masters, &c. in the one case, and of the contractor and his assistants in the other;—4th, It might farther pay the wear and tear of the working-stock laid in;—5th, It might farther pay the interest of the capital employed in the purchase of such stock;—6th, It might farther pay the interest of the capital laid out in the erecting and fitting up the establishment in all its parts, at the common rate of interest for money laid out in building;—7th, It might farther pay, at the ordinary rate, the interest of the money, if any, laid out in the purchase of the ground. Even at the first mentioned and lowest of these stages, I should be curious to compare the charge of such an institution with that of the least chargeable of those others that are as yet preferred to it. When it had arisen above the last, then, as you see, and not till then, it could be said to yield a profit, in the sense in which the same thing could be said of any manufacturing establishment of a private nature.

But long before that period, the objections of those whose sentiments are the least favourable to such an establishment would, I take for granted, have been perfectly removed. Yet what should make it stop anywhere short of the highest of those stages, or what should prevent it from rising even considerably above the highest of them, is more, I protest, than I can perceive. In what points a manufacturer setting up in such an establishment would be in a worse situation than an ordinary manufacturer, I really do not see; but I see many points in which he is in a better. His hands, indeed, are all raw, perhaps, at least with relation to the particular species of work which he employs them upon, if not with relation to every other. But so are all hands everywhere, at the first setting up of every manufacture. Look round, and you will find instances enough of manufactures where children, down to four years old, earn something, and where children a few years older earn a subsistence, and that a comfortable one. I must leave to you to mention names and places. You, who have been so much of an English traveller, cannot but have met with instances in plenty, if you have happened to note them down. Many are the instances you must have found in which the part taken by each workman is reduced to some one single operation of such perfect simplicity, that one might defy the awkwardest and most helpless idler that ever existed to avoid succeeding in it. Among the eighteen or twenty operations into which the process of pin-making has been divided, I question whether there is any one that is not reduced to such a state. In this point, then, he is upon at least as good a footing as other manufacturers: but in all other points he is upon a better. What hold can any other manufacturer have upon his workmen, equal to what my manufacturer would have upon his? What other master is there that can reduce his workmen, if idle, to a situation next to starving, without suffering them to go elsewhere? What other master is there, whose men can never get drunk unless he chooses they should do so? and who, so far from being able to raise their wages by combination, are obliged to take whatever pittance he thinks it most for his interest to allow? In all other manufactories, those members of a family who can and will work, must earn enough to maintain not only themselves but those who either cannot or will not work. Each master of a family must earn enough to maintain, or at least help to maintain a wife, and to maintain such as are yet helpless among his children. My manufacturer’s workmen, however cramped in other respects, have the good or ill fortune to be freed from this incumbrance—a freedom, the advantage of which will be no secret to their master, who, seeing he is to have the honour of their custom in his capacity of shopkeeper, has taken care to get the measure of their earnings to a hair’s-breadth. What other manufacturers are there who reap their profits at the risk of other people, and who have the purse of the nation to support them, in case of any blameless misfortune? And to crown the whole by the great advantage which is the peculiar fruit of this new principle, what other master or manufacturer is there, who to appearance constantly, and in reality as much as he thinks proper, has every look and motion of each workman under his eye? Without any of these advantages, we see manufacturers not only keeping their heads above water, but making their fortunes every day. A manufacturer in this situation may certainly fail, because so may he in any other. But the probability is, he would not fail: because, even without these great advantages, much fewer fail than thrive, or the wealth of the country could not have gone on increasing as it has done, from the reign of Brutus to the present. And if political establishments were to wait till probability were converted into certainty before trial, Parliament might as Edition: current; Page: [57] well go to bed at once, and sleep on the same pillow with sister convocation.

To speak in sober sadness, I do dearly love, as you well know, in human dealings no less than in divine, to think and to say, as far as conscience will allow me, that whatever is, is right;” as well concerning those things which are done, as concerning those which have been left undone. The gentlemen who gave themselves so much trouble about the penitentiary-house plan, did extremely well; and, for aught I know, the gentlemen who put it under the table at last, may have done still better. If you have a mind to share with me in this comfortable feeling, turn once more to that discarded favourite, and observe what load of expense, some part then necessary, some perhaps not altogether so, it was to have thrown upon the nation; and, at the same time, what will be still more comfortable to you, how great a proportion of that expense would be struck off, by the new and of course still greater favourite, which I have ventured to introduce to you.

In the first place, there was to have been a vast extent of ground; for it was to have had rope-walks and timber-yards, and it is well it was not to have had dock-yards. Then, for the sake of healthiness, that ground was to have a command of running water: then again, for the convenience of dignified inspectors, that ground and that water were to have been in the vicinity of the metropolis. It was to have been on the banks of the Thames—somewhere, I think, about Wandsworth and Battersea; and a site fit for I know not how many of the most luxurious villas that fancy could conceive or Christie describe, was to be buried under it. Seven-and-twenty thousand pounds, I think, was the price talked of, and, for aught I know, paid, for the bare ground, before so much as a spade was put in it.* As to my contractor, eighteen or twenty acres of the most unprofitable land your country or any other contains, any waste land, in short, which the crown has already in its possession, would answer every plea he could put in; and out of that he would crib gardens for his own accommodation, and farm-yards, and I know not what besides. As to running water, it is indeed to every purpose a very agreeable circumstance, and, under the ordinary jail regimen, a very desirable, possibly an essential one. But many of the Lords and Commons make shift without it, even at their villas, and almost all of them when not at their villas, without ascribing any want of health they may labour under to the want of running water. As to my contractor’s boarders, they must have water, indeed, because everybody must have water; but under the provision I have made for turning the operations of cleanliness into motions of course, I should apprehend their condition might still be tolerable, should they have no other running stock of that necessary element than what falls to the share of better men.

When the ground thus dearly wrung from the grasp of luxury came to be covered, think what another source of expense was to be opened, when, over and above nine hundred roomy chambers for so many persons to lie in, three other different classes of apartments were to be provided, to I know not what number nor extent, for them to work in, to pray in, and to suffer in!—four operations, the scenes of which are, upon our plan, consolidated into one.

I need not add much to what I have said in a former letter, about the tribe of subordinate establishments, each of them singly an object of no mean expense, which it seems to have been in contemplation to inclose within the fortress: I mean the mills, the forges, the engines, the timber-yards, and the rope-walks. The seal which stamps my contract dispels, as if it were a talisman, this great town in nubibus; and two or three plain round houses take its place. Either I am much mistaken, or a sum not much exceeding what was paid or destined for the bare ground of the proposed penitentiary-houses, would build and completely fit up those round houses, besides paying for the ground.

To this account of the dead stock is to be added, if I may say it without offence, that of the live stock of inspectors, of every rank and denomination: I mean the pyramid of under-keepers, and task-masters, and store-keepers, and governors, and committees of magistrates, which it builds up, all to be paid up and salaried, with allowances rising in proportion to the rise of dignity: the whole to be crowned with a grand triumvirate of superintendents, two of whom were to have been members of parliament, men of high birth and quality, whose toilsome dignity a minister would hardly have affronted by the offer of salaries much inferior to what are to be found annexed to sinecures.

I will not say much of the “other officers,” without number, which I see, by my View of the Hard-labour Bill, were to have been added, and of course must have been added, in such number as the “committees” of your * * * * to whom this business was then committed, or at any rate some other good judges should have judged “necessary.”

Officers and governors, eo nomine, my contractor would have none: and any superfluous clerk or over-looker, who might be found lurking in his establishment, he would have much less tenderness for, than your gardener Edition: current; Page: [58] has for the sow-thistles in your garden. The greatest part of his science comes to him in maxims from his grand-mother; and amongst the foremost of those maxims is that which stigmatizes as an unfrugal practice, the keeping of more cats than will catch mice.

If, under all these circumstances, the penitentiary-houses should have been somewhat of a bugbear, it will be the less to be wondered at, when one considers the magnitude of the scale upon which this complicated experiment was going to be made. I mentioned in round numbers nine hundred as the number of convicts which was going to be provided for; but 888 was the exact number mentioned in the bill. Three eights, “thus arranged, a terrible show!” But granting this to be the number likely to require provision of some kind or other, it surely does not follow that all that require it must necessarily be provided for in this manner, or in none. If the eight hundred and eighty eight appear so formidable, gentlemen may strike off the hundreds, and try whether the country will be ruined by an establishment inferior to that which an obscure ex-countryman of theirs is going to amuse himself with.

What I have all along been taking for granted is, that it is the mere dread of extravagance that has driven your thrifty minister from the penitentiary-house plan—not the love of transportation that has seduced him from it. The inferiority of the latter mode of punishment in point of exemplarity and equality—in short, in every point but that of expense, stands, I believe, undisputed. I collected the reasons against it, that were in every body’s mouth, and marked them down, with, I think, some additions (as you may or may not remember) in my view of the hard-labour bill, supplement included. I have never happened to hear any objections made to those reasons; nor have I heard of any charms, other than those of antiquity and comparative frugality, that transportation has to recommend it. Supposing, therefore, what I most certainly do not suppose, that my contractor could not keep his people at home at less expense than it would take to send them abroad, yet if he could keep them at no greater expense, I should presume that even this would be reckoned no small point gained, and that even this very moderate success would be sufficient to put an end to so undesirable a branch of navigation.

Nor does any preference that might be given to the transportation plan, supersede the necessity of this or some other substitute to it, in the many cases to which it cannot be conceived that plan should be extended. Transportation to this desert for seven years—a punishment which under such circumstances is so much like transportation for life—is not, I suppose, to be inflicted for every peccadillo. Vessels will not be sailing every week or fortnight upon this four or five or six months navigation: hardly much oftener, I should suppose, than once a twelvemonth. In the meantime, the convicts must be somewhere: and whether they are likely to be better qualified for colonization by lounging in an ordinary jail, or rotting on board a ballast bulk, or working in an inspection-house, may now, I think, be left for any one to judge.

Crecheff in White Russia


In considering my brother’s inspection plan as applicable to the purpose of establishments designed to force labour, my principal theme has hitherto been the national establishment of penitentiary-houses. My first design, however, was to help to drive the nail I saw agoing: I mean the house of correction, which the advertisement informed me was under consideration for your * * * *. I had little notion, at the outset, of attempting any such up-hill work as the heaving up again that huge stone, the penitentiary-house, which the builders at last had refused, and which, after the toiling and straining of so many years, had tumbled to the bottom. But the greater object grew upon me as I wrote; and what I found to say on that subject I grudged the less, as thinking it might, most of it, be more or less applicable to your establishment. How far, and in what particular respects, it may prove so, I have no means of knowing: I trouble you with it at a venture. In my last I proposed, if the nation were poor and fearful, a penitentiary-house upon a very small scale—so small, if such caution were thought necessary, as not to contain so many as a hundred prisoners. But however poor the nation may be, the * * * * * of * * * * surely is rich. What then should hinder your * * * * * from standing forth and setting the nation an example? What the number of persons you may have to provide for in this way is supposed to be, I have no means of knowing; but I should think it strange if it did not considerably exceed the one just mentioned. What it is you will risk by such an experiment, is more than I can see. As far as the building is concerned, it is a question which architects, and they alone, can answer. In the meantime, we who know nothing of the matter, can find no reason, all things considered, why a building upon this plan should cost more than upon another. But setting aside the building, every other difference is on the profitable side.

The precautions against escapes, and the restraints destined to answer the ends of punishment, would not, I suppose, in your establishment be quite so strict, as it would be Edition: current; Page: [59] necessary they should be in an establishment designed to answer the purpose of a penitentiary-house. Bars, bolts, and gratings, would in this of your’s, I suppose, be rejected; and the inexorable partition walls might for some purposes be thinned away to boards or canvass, and for others thrown out altogether. With you, the gloomy paradox of crowded solitude might be exchanged, perhaps, for the cheerfulness of a common refectory. The Sabbath might be a Sabbath there as elsewhere. In the penitentiary inspection-house, the prisoners were to lie, as they were to eat, to work, to pray, and to do every thing, in their cells, and nowhere else. In your house of correction, where they should lie, or how they should lie, I stay not to inquire.

It is well, however, for you * * * * gentlemen, that you are so rich; for in point of frugality, I could not venture to promise you anything like the success that I would to “poor old England.” Your contractor’s jailbirds, if you had a contractor, would be perpetually upon the wing: the short terms you would be sending them to him for, would seldom admit of their attaining to such a proficiency, as to make a profit upon any branch of industry. In general, what in a former letter I termed the good hands, would be his chief, if not his whole dependence; and that, I doubt, but a scanty one.

I will not pester you with further niceties applicable to the difference between houses of correction, and work-houses, and poor-houses, if any there should be, which are not work-houses; between the different modes of treatment that may be due to what are looked upon as the inferior degrees of dishonesty, to idleness as yet untainted with dishonesty, and to blameless indigence. The law herself has scarcely eyes for these microscopic differences. I bow down, therefore, for the present at least, to the counsel of so many sages, and shrink from the crime of being “wiser than the law.”

Crecheff in White Russia


A word or two respecting the condition of offenders before conviction: or, if that expression should appear to include a solecism, of persons accused, who either for want of bail, or as charged with offences not bailable, have hitherto been made, through negligence or necessity, to share by anticipation so much of the fate of convicts, as imprisonment more or less rigid may amount to.

To persons thus circumstanced, the inspection principle would apply, as far as safe custody was concerned, with as much advantage as to convicts. But as there can be no ground for punishing them any otherwise than in so far as the restraint necessary for safe custody has the effect of punishment, there can be as little ground for subjecting them to solitude; unless where that circumstance should also appear necessary, either to safe custody, or to prevent that mental infection, which novices in the arts of dishonesty, and in debauchery, the parent of dishonesty, are so much in danger of contracting from the masters of those arts. In this view, therefore, the partitions might appear to some an unnecessary ingredient in the composition of the building; though I confess, from the consideration just alleged, they would not appear in that light to me. Communication must likewise be allowed to the prisoners with their friends and legal assistants, for the purpose of settling their affairs, and concerting their defence.

As forced labour is punishment, labour must not here be forced. For the same reason, and because the privation of such comforts of any kind as a man’s circumstances allow him, is also punishment, neither should the free admission of such comforts, as far as is consistent with sobriety, be denied; nor, if the keeper is permitted to concern himself in any part of the trade, should he be permitted to make a greater profit than would be made by other traders.

But amongst persons of such description, and in such a multitude, there will always be a certain number, nor that probably an inconsiderable one, who will possess no means of subsistence whatever of their own. These then will, in so far, come under a predicament not very dissimilar to that of convicts in a penitentiary-house. Whatever works they may be capable of, there is no reason why subsistence should be given to them, any more than to persons free from suspicion and at large, but as the price for work, supposing them able to perform it. But as this ability is a fact, the judgment of which is a matter of great nicety, too much it may be thought by far to be entrusted to such hands, if to any, some allowance must therefore be made them gratis, and that at least as good a one as I recommended for the penitentiary-house. In order to supply the defects of this allowance, the point then will be, to provide some sort of work for such, who not having trades of their own which they can work at, are yet willing to take work, if they can get it. If to find such work might be difficult, even in a house of correction, on account of the shortness of the time which there may be for learning work, for the same reason it should be still more difficult in a prison appropriated to safe custody before conviction, at least in cases where, as it will sometimes happen, the commitment precedes the trial but a few days. If on the ground of being particularly likely to have it in his power to Edition: current; Page: [60] provide work, the contracting keeper of a penitentiary-house should be deemed the fittest person for the keeping of a safe-custody house (for so I would wish to call it, rather than a prison,) in other respects he might be thought less fit, rather than more so. In a penitentiary-house, he is an extortioner by trade: a trade he must wholly learn, every time he sets his foot in a safe-custody house, on pain of such punishment as unlicensed extortioners may deserve. But it by no means follows, because the keeper of a penitentiary-house has found one, or perhaps half-a-dozen sorts of work, any of which a person may make himself tolerably master of in the course of a few months, that he should be in possession of any that might be performed without learning, or learnt in a few days. If, therefore, for frugality’s sake, or any other convenience, any other establishments were taken to combine with that of a safe-custody house, a house of correction would seem better suited to such a purpose, than a penitentiary-house. But without considering it as matter of necessity to have recourse to such shifts, the eligibility of which might depend upon local and other particular considerations, I should hope that employments would not be wanting, and those capable of affording a moderately good subsistence, for which a man of ordinary faculties would be as well qualified the first instant, as at the end of seven years. I could almost venture to mention examples, but that the reasons so often given stop my pen.

Crecheff in White Russia


After so much as has been said on the application of our principle to the business of manufactories, considered as carried on by forced labour, you will think a very few words more than sufficient, in the view of applying it to manufactories carried on upon the ordinary plan of freedom.

The centrality of the presiding person’s situation will have its use at all events; for the purpose of direction and order at least, if for no other. The concealment of his person will be of use, in as far as controul may be judged useful. As to partitions, whether they would be more serviceable in the way of preventing distraction, or disserviceable by impeding communication, will depend upon the particular nature of the particular manufacture. In some manufactories they will have a further use, by the convenience they may afford for ranging a greater number of tools than could otherwise be stowed within the workman’s reach. In nice businesses, such as that of watch-making, where considerable damage might result from an accidental jog or a momentary distraction, such partitions, I understand, are usual.

Whatever be the manufacture, the utility of the principle is obvious and incontestible, in all cases where the workmen are paid according to their time. Where they are paid by the piece, there the interest which the workman has in the value of his work supersedes the use of coercion, and of every expedient calculated to give force to it. In this case, I see no other use to be made of the inspection principle, than in as far as instruction may be wanted, or in the view of preventing any waste or other damage, which would not of itself come home to the workman, in the way of diminishing his earnings, or in any other shape.

Were a manufactory of any kind to be established upon this principle, the central lodge would probably be made use of as the compting-house: and if more branches than one were carried on under the same roof, the accounts belonging to each branch would be kept in the corresponding parts of the lodge. The lodge would also serve as a sort of temporary store-room, into which the tools and materials would be brought from the work-houses, and from whence they would be delivered out to the workmen all around, as well as finished work received, as occasion might require.

Crecheff in White Russia


I come now with pleasure, notwithstanding the sadness of the subject, to an instance in which the application of the principle will be of the lenient cast altogether: I mean, that of the melancholy abodes appropriated to the reception of the insane. And here, perhaps, a noble lord now in administration might find some little assistance lent to the humane and salutary regulations for which we are chiefly indebted to his care.*

That any of the receptacles at present subsisting should be pulled down only to make room for others on the inspection principle, is neither to be expected nor to be wished. But, should any buildings that may be erected in future for this purpose be made to receive the inspection form, the object of such institutions could scarce fail of receiving some share of its salutary influence. The powers of the insane, as well as those of the wicked, are capable of being directed either against their fellow-creatures or against themselves. If in the latter case nothing less than perpetual chains should be availing, yet in all instances where only the former danger is to be Edition: current; Page: [61] apprehended, separate cells, exposed, as in the case of prisons, to inspection, would render the use of chains and other modes of corporal sufferance as unnecessary in this case as in any. And with regard to the conduct of the keepers, and the need which the patients have to be kept, the natural, and not discommendable jealousy of abuse would, in this instance as in the former ones, find a much readier satisfaction than it could anywhere at present.

But without thinking of erecting mad-houses on purpose, if we ask Mr. Howard, he will tell us, if I do not misrecollect, that there are few prisons or work-houses but what are applied occasionally to this use. Indeed, a receptacle of one or other of these descriptions is the ready, and, I believe, the only resource, which magistrates find vested in their hands. Hence it was, he so often found his senses assailed with that strange and unseemly mixture of calamity and guilt—lunatics raving and felons rioting in the same room. But in every penal inspection-house, every vacant cell would afford these afflicted beings an apartment exempt from disturbance, and adapted to their wants.

Crecheff in White Russia


If any thing could still be wanting to show how far this plan is from any necessary connexion with severe and coercive measures, there cannot be a stronger consideration than that of the advantage with which it applies to hospitals; establishments of which the sole object is the relief of the afflicted, whom their own entreaties have introduced. Tenacious as ever of the principle of omnipresence, I take it for granted that the whole tribe of medical curators—the surgeon, the apothecary, the matron, to whom I could wish to add even the physician, could the establishment be but sufficient to make it worth his while, find in the inspection-lodge and what apartments might be added above it, their constant residence. Here the physician and the apothecary might know with certainty that the prescription which the one had ordered and the other made up, had been administered at the exact time and in the exact manner in which it was ordered to be administered. Here the surgeon would be sure that his instructions and directions had been followed in all points by his pupils and assistants. Here the faculty, in all its branches, might with the least trouble possible watch as much as they chose to watch, of the progress of the disease, and the influence of the remedy. Complaints from the sick might be received the instant the cause of the complaint, real or imaginary, occurred; though, as misconduct would be followed by instant reprehension, such complaints must be proportionably rare.

The separation of the cells might be in part, continued either for comfort or for decency. Curtains, instead of grating, would give the patients, when they thought fit, the option of being seen. Partitions of greater solidity and extent might divide the fabric into different wards, confining infection, adapting themselves to the varieties of disease. and affording, upon occasion, diversities of temperature.

In hot weather, to save the room from being heated, and the patients from being incommoded by the sun, shades or awnings might secure the windows towards the south.

I do not mean to entertain you here with a system of physic, or a treatise upon airs. But a word or two on this subject you must permit me. Would the ceilings of the cell be high enough? Is the plan of construction sufficiently favourable to ventilation? I have not the good fortune to have read a book published not long ago on the subject of hospitals, by our countryman Mr. Aikin, though I remember seeing some account of it in a review. But I cannot help begging of you to recommend to the notice of your medical friends, the perusal of Dr. De Maret’s paper, in the Memoirs of the Academy of Dijon for the year 1782. If either his facts or his reasoning are to be trusted, not only no loftiness of ceiling is sufficient to ensure to such a building a purity of air, but it may appear questionable whether such an effect be upon the whole promoted by that circumstance.*

His great anxiety seems to be, that at some known period or periods of the day, the whole mass of air may undergo at once a total change, not trusting to partial and precarious evacuations by opening here and there a window; still less to any height or other amplitude of room—a circumstance which of itself tends to render them still more partial and precarious. Proscribing all rectilinear walls and flat ceilings forming angles at the junctions, he recommends accordingly for the inside of his building, the form of a long oval, curved in every direction except that of the floor, placing a door at each end. By throwing open these doors, he seems to make it pretty apparent, that the smallest draught will be sufficient to effect an entire change in the whole stock of air; since at which ever end a current of air happens first to enter, it will carry all before it till it gets to the other. Edition: current; Page: [62] Opening windows, or other apertures, disposed in any other part of the room, would tend rather to disturb and counteract the current, than to promote it.

From the same reasoning it will follow, that the circular form demanded as the best of all by the inspection principle, must, in a view to ventilation, have in a considerable degree the advantage over rectilinear; and even, were the difference sufficiently material, the inspection principle might be applied to his oval with little or no disadvantage. The form of the inspection lodge might in this case follow that of the containing building; and that central part, so far from obstructing the ventilation, would rather, as it should seem, assist it, increasing the force of the current by the compressure.

It should seem also, that to a circular building, the central lodge would thus give the same aptitude to ventilation, which the Doctor’s oval form possesses of itself.

To save his patients from catching cold while the current is passing through the room, the Doctor allows to each a short screen, like the head of a cradle, to be rested on the bed.

Here the use of the tin speaking-tubes would be seen again, in the means they would afford to the patient, though he were equal to no more than a whisper, of conveying to the lodge the most immediate notice of his wants, and receiving answers in a tone equally unproductive of disturbance.

Something I could have wished to say on the important difference between the general and comparatively immaterial impurity resulting merely from the phlogiston, and the various particular impurities constituted by the various products of putrefaction, or by the different matters of the various contagions. Against these very different dangers, the mode and measure of precaution might admit of no small difference. But this belongs not necessarily to the subject, and you would not thank me, any more than gentlemen of the faculty who understand it better than I, or gentlemen at large who would not wish to understand it.

An hospital built and conducted upon a plan of this kind, of the success of which everybody might be an observer, accessible to the patients’ friends, who, without incommoding or being incommoded, might see the whole economy of it carried on under their eye, would lose, it is to be hoped, a great part of those repelling terrors, which deprive of the benefit of such institutions many objects whom prejudice, in league with poverty, either debars altogether from relief, or drives to seek it in much less eligible shapes. Who knows but that the certainty of a medical attendance, not occasional, short-lived, or even precarious, as at present, but constant and uninterrupted, might not render such a situation preferable even to home, in the eyes of many persons who could afford to pay for it? and that the erection of a building of this kind might turn to account in the hands of some enterprising practitioner?

A prison, as I observed in a former letter includes an hospital. In prisons on this construction, every cell may receive the properties of an hospital, without undergoing any change. The whole prison would be perhaps a better hospital than any building known hitherto by that name. Yet should it be thought of use, a few cells might be appropriated to that purpose; and perhaps it may be thought advisable that some cases of infection should be thrown out, and lodged under another roof.

But if infection in general must be sent to be cured elsewhere, there is no spot in which infection originating in negligence can, either in the rise or spread of it, meet with such obstacles as here. In what other instance as in this, will you see the interests of the governor and the governed in this important particular, so perfectly confounded and made one?—those of the keeper with those of the prisoners—those of the medical curator with those of the patients? Clean or unclean, safe or unsafe, he runs the chance that they do: if he lets them poison themselves, he lets them poison him. Encompassed on all sides by a multitude of persons, whose good or bad condition depends upon himself, he stands as a hostage in his own hands for the salubrity of the whole.

Crecheff in White Russia


After applying the inspection principle first to prisons, and through mad-houses bringing it down to hospitals, will the parental feelings endure my applying it at last to schools? Will the observation of its efficacy in preventing the irregular application of undue hardship even to the guilty, be sufficient to dispel the apprehension of its tendency to introduce tyranny into the abodes of innocence and youth?

Applied to these, you will find it capable of two very distinguishable degrees of extension:—It may be confined to the hours of study; or it may be made to fill the whole circle of time, including the hours of repose, and refreshment, and recreation.

To the first of these applications the most captious timidity, I think, could hardly fancy an objection: concerning the hours of study, there can, I think, be but one wish, that they should be employed in study. It is scarce necessary to observe that gratings, bars, and bolts, and every circumstance from which an inspection-house can derive a terrific character, Edition: current; Page: [63] have nothing to do here. All play, all chattering—in short, all distraction of every kind, is effectually banished by the central and covered situation of the master, seconded by partitions or screens between the scholars, as slight as you please. The different measures and casts of talent, by this means rendered, perhaps for the first time, distinctly discernible, will indicate the different degrees of attention and modes of culture most suitable to each particular disposition; and incurable and irreproachable dulness or imbecility will no longer be punished for the sins of idleness or obstinacy. That species of fraud at Westminster called cribbing, a vice thought hitherto congenial to schools, will never creep in here. That system of premature corruption, in which idleness is screened by opulence, and the honour due to talents or industry is let out for hire, will be completely done away; and a nobleman may stand as good a chance of knowing something as a common man.

Nor, in point of present enjoyment, will the scholars be losers by the change. Those sinkings of the heart at the thoughts of a task undone, those galling struggles between the passion for play and the fear of punishment, would there be unknown. During the hours of business, habit, no longer broken in upon by accident, would strip the master’s presence of its terrors, without depriving it of its use. And the time allotted for study being faithfully and rigidly appropriated to that service, the less of it would serve.

The separate spaces allotted for this purpose would not in other respects be thrown away. A bed, a bureau, and a chair, must be had at any rate; so that the only extraordinary expense in building would be for the partitions, for which a very slight thickness would suffice. The youth of either sex might by this means sleep, as well as study, under inspection, and alone—a circumstance of no mean importance in many a parent’s eye.

In the Royal Military School at Paris, the bed-chambers (if my brother’s memory does not deceive him) form two ranges on the two sides of a long room; the inhabitants being separated from one another by partitions, but exposed alike to the view of a master at his walks, by a kind of a grated window in each door. This plan of construction struck him, he tells me, a good deal, as he walked over that establishment (about a dozen years ago, was it not?) with you; and possibly in that walk the foundation was laid for his Inspection-House. If he there borrowed his idea, I hope he has not repaid it without interest. You will confess some difference, in point of facility, betwixt a state of incessant walking and a state of rest; and in point of completeness of inspection, between visiting two or three hundred persons one after another, and seeing them at once.

In stating what this principle will do in promoting the progress of instruction in every line, a word or two will be thought sufficient to state what it will not do. It does give every degree of efficacy which can be given to the influence of punishment and restraint. But it does nothing towards correcting the oppressive influence of panishment and restraint, by the enlivening and invigorating influence of reward. That noblest and brightest engine of discipline can by no other means be put to constant use in schools, than by the practice which at Westminster, you know, goes by the name of challenging—an institution which, paying merit in its fittest and most inexhaustible coin, and even uniting in one impulse the opposite powers of reward and punishment, holds out dishonour for every attention a boy omits, and honour for every exertion he can bestow.

With regard to the extending the range of inspection over every moment of a boy’s time, the sentiments of mankind might not be altogether so unanimous. The notion, indeed, of most parents is, I believe, that children cannot be too much under the master’s eye; and if man were a consistent animal, none who entertain that notion but should be fonder of the principle the farther they saw it pursued. But as consistency is of all human qualities the most rare, it need not at all surprise us, if, of those who in the present state of things are most anxious on the head of the master’s omnipresence, many were to fly back and change their note, when they saw that point screwed up at once to a pitch of perfection so much beyond whatever they could have been accustomed to conceive.

Some there are, at any rate, who, before they came into so novel a scheme, would have many scruples to get over. Doubts would be started—Whether it would be advisable to apply such constant and unremitting pressure to the tender mind, and to give such herculean and ineludible strength to the gripe of power?—whether persons, of the cast of character and extent of ideas that may be expected to be found in the common run of schoolmasters, are likely to be fit receptacles for an authority so much exceeding anything that has been hitherto signified by despotic?—whether the in-attention of the master may not be as necessary to the present comfort of his pupil, in some respects, as the attention of the one may be to the future welfare of the other, in other respects?—whether the irretrievable check given to the free development of the intellectual part of his frame by this unintermitted pressure, may not be productive of an imbecility similar to that which would be produced by constant and long-continued bandages on the corporeal part?—whether what is thus acquired in regularity may not be lost in energy?—whether that Edition: current; Page: [64] not less instructive, though less heeded, course of discipline, which in the struggles of passion against passion, and of reason against reason, is administered by the children to one another and to themselves, and in which the conflicts and competitions that are to form the business of maturity are rehearsed in miniature; whether I say, this moral and most important branch of instruction would not by these means be sacrificed to the rudiments, and those seldom the most useful, of the intellectual?—whether the defects, with which private education has been charged in its comparison with public, would not here be carried to the extreme?—and whether, in being made a little better acquainted with the world of abstraction than they might have been otherwise, the youth thus pent up may not have been kept more than proportionably ignorant of the world of realities into which they are about to launch?—whether the liberal spirit and energy of a free citizen would not be exchanged for the mechanical discipline of a soldier, or the austerity of a monk?—and whether the result of this high-wrought contrivance might not be constructing a set of machines under the similitude of men?

To give a satisfactory answer to all these queries, which are mighty fine, but do not any of them come home to the point, it would be necessary to recur at once to the end of education. Would happiness be most likely to be increased or diminished by this discipline?—Call them soldiers, call them monks, call them machines: so they were but happy ones, I should not care. Wars and storms are best to read of, but peace and calms are better to enjoy. Don’t be frightened now, my dear * * * * *, and think that I am going to entertain you with a course of moral philosophy, or even with a system of education. Happiness is a very pretty thing to feel, but very dry to talk about; so you may unknit your brow, for I shall say no more about the matter. One thing only I will add, which is, that whoever sets up an inspection-school upon the tiptop of the principle, had need to be very sure of the master; for the boy’s body is not more the child of his father’s, than his mind will be of the master’s mind; with no other difference than what there is between command on one side and subjection on the other.

Some of these fine queries which I have been treating you with, and finer still, Rousseau would have entertained us with; nor do I imagine he would have put his Emilius into an inspection-house; but I think he would have been glad of such a school for his Sophia.

Addison, the grave and moral Addison, in his Spectator or his Tatler, I forget which, suggests a contrivance for trying virginity by means of lions. You may there find many curious disquisitions concerning the measures and degrees of that species of purity; all which you will be better pleased to have from that grave author than from me. But, without plunging into any such discussions, the highest degree possible, whatsoever that may be, is no more than anybody might make sure of, only by transferring damsels at as early an age as may be thought sufficient, into a strict inspection-school. Addison’s scheme was not only a penal but a bloody one: and what havoc it might have made in the population of the country, I tremble but to think of. Give thanks, then, to Diana and the eleven thousand virgins, and to whatever powers preside over virginity in either calendar, for so happy a discovery as this of your friend’s. There you saw blood and uncertainty: here you see certainty without blood. What advantage might be made by setting up a boarding-school for young ladies upon this plan, and with what eagerness gentlemen who are curious in such matters would crowd to such a school to choose themselves wives, is too obvious to insist on. The only inconvenience I can think of is, that if the institution were to become general, Mrs. Ch. H. and other gentlewomen of her calling, would be obliged either to give up house-keeping, or take up with low wenches or married ladies.

Dr. Brown the estimator would have been stark mad for an inspection-school upon the very extremity of the principle, provided always he were to have been head-master, and then he would have had no other schools but those. His antagonist, Dr. Priestly, would, I imagine, be altogether as averse to it, unless, perhaps, for experiment’s sake, upon a small scale, just enough to furnish an appendix to Hartley upon Man.

You have a controversy, I find, in England, about Sunday-schools. Schools upon the extremity of the inspection-principle would, I am apt to think, find more advocates among the patrons than among the oppugners of that measure.

We are told, somewhere or other, of a King of Egypt (Psammitichus, I think, is his name) who thinking to re-discover the lost original of language, contrived to breed up two children in a sequestered spot, secluded, from the hour of their birth, from all converse with the rest of humankind. No great matters were, I believe, collected from this experiment. An inspection-house, to which a set of children had been consigned from their birth, might afford experiments enough that would be rather more interesting. What say you to a foundling-hospital upon this principle? Would * * * *’s manes give you leave to let your present school and build another upon this ground? If I do not misrecollect, your brethren in that trust have gone so far as to make a point, where it can be effected, of taking the children out of the Edition: current; Page: [65] hands of their parents as much as possible, and even, if possible, altogether. If you have gone thus far, you have passed the Rubicon; you may even clap them up in an inspection-house, and then you make of them what you please. You need never grudge the parents a peep behind the curtain in the master’s lodge. There, as often as they had a mind, they might see their children thriving and learning, if that would satisfy them, without interrupting business or counteracting discipline. Improving upon Psammitichus’s experiment, you might keep up a sixteen or eighteen years separation between the male and female part of your young subjects; and at the end of that period see what the language of love would be, when Father Francis’s Ganders were turned into Father Francis’s Geese.

I know who would have been delighted to set up an inspection-school, if it were only for the experiment’s sake, and that is Helvetius: at least, if he had been steady to his principles, which he was said to be: for by that contrivance, and by that alone, he might have been enabled to give an experimental proof of the truth of his position (supposing it to be true) that anybody may be taught anything, one person as well as another. It would have been his fault, if what he requires as a condition, viz. that the subjects of the experiment be placed in circumstances exactly similar, were not fulfilled.

A rare field for discovery in metaphysics: a science which, now for the first time, may be put to the test of experiment, like any other. Books, conversation, sensible objects, everything, might be given. The genealogy of each observable idea might be traced through all its degrees with the utmost nicety: the parent stocks being all known and numbered. Party men, controversialists of every description, and all other such epicures, whose mouth waters at the mammon of power, might here give themselves a rich treat, adapted to their several tastes, unembittered by contradiction. Two and two might here be less than four, or the moon might be made of green cheese; if any pious founder, who were rich enough, chose to have her of that material. Surrounded by a circle of pupils, obsequious beyond anything as yet known under the name of obsequiousness, their happiness might in such a mansion be complete, if any moderate number of adherents could content them; which unhappily is not the case. At the end of some twenty or five-and-twenty years, introduce the scholars of the different schools to one another (observing first to tie their hands behind them) and you will see good sport; though perhaps you may think there is enough of that kind of sport already. But if you throw out this hint to anybody, you will take care, as far as sects and religions are concerned, not to mention names; for of these, how few are there but would be ready to pull us to pieces, if they saw their rivals set down upon the same line, as candidates for the same advantage? And this is what we should get by our impartiality.—You may, however, venture to hint, that the money which is now laid out for propagating controversy, by founding sermons and lectures, might be laid out with greater certainty of advantage in the founding controversial inspection-schools. The preachers must be sad bunglers, indeed, if they had not there as many adherents as auditors; which is not always the case in the world at large. As to flagellation, and other such ceremonies, which more through custom than necessity are used by way of punishment in schools, but which under some institutions form the routine of life, I need not take up your time in showing how much the punctuality of those transactions might, in the latter case, be improved by the inspection principle. These monastic accomplishments have not been in fashion in our country for some ages:—therefore it would be lost labour to recommend the principle in that view. Neither are they a whit more so where I write; so that I should get as little thanks for my pains, were I to make such a proposal here. On the contrary, we are dissolving monasteries as you would lumps of sugar. A lump, for instance, we got the other day at Kieff, enough to feed a brace of regiments, besides pickings for other people. But if in my return to England, or at any other time, I should happen to go by the monastery of La Trappe, or any other where they are in earnest about such business, it would be cruelty to deny them the assistance it might be made to receive from the inspection principle. Flinching would then be as impracticable in a monastery, as cribbing in a school. Old scores might thus be rubbed out with as much regularity as could be desired; nor would the pride of Toboso have been so long a-disenchanting, could her Knight have put his coward Squire into an inspection-house.

Neither do I mean to give any instructions to the Turks for applying the inspection principle to their seraglios: no, not though I were to go through Constantinople again twenty times, notwithstanding the great saving it would make in the article of eunuchs, of whom one trusty one in the inspection-lodge would be as good as half a hundred. The price of that kind of cattle could not fail of falling at least ten per cent., and the insurance upon marital honour at least as much, upon the bare hint given of such an establishment in any of the Constantinople papers. But the mobbing I got at Shoomlo. only for taking a peep at the town from a thing they call a minaret (like our monument) in pursuance of invitation, has cancelled any claims Edition: current; Page: [66] they might have had upon me for the dinner they gave me at the divan, had it been better than it was.

If the idea of some of these applications should have brought a smile upon your countenance, it won’t hurt you, my dear * * * *; nor should it hurt the principle. Your candour will prevent you from condemning a great and new invented instrument of government, because some of the purposes to which it is possible to apply it may appear useless, or trifling, or mischievous, or ridiculous. Its great excellence consists in the great strength it is capable of giving to any institution it may be thought proper to apply it to. If any perverse applications should ever be made of it, they will lie in this case as in others, at the doors of those who make them. Knives, however sharp, are very useful things, and, for most purposes, the sharper the more useful. I have no fear, therefore, of your wishing to forbid the use of them, because they have been sometimes employed by school-boys to raise the devil with, or by assassins to cut throats with.

I hope no critic of more learning than candour will do an inspection-house so much injustice as to compare it to Dionysius’ ear. The object of that contrivance was, to know what prisoners said without their suspecting any such thing. The object of the inspection principle is directly the reverse: it is to make them not only suspect, but be assured, that whatever they do is known, even though that should not be the case. Detection is the object of the first: prevention, that of the latter. In the former case the ruling person is a spy; in the latter he is a monitor. The object of the first was to pry into the secret recesses of the heart; the latter, confining its attention to overt acts, leaves thoughts and fancies to their proper ordinary, the court above.

When I consider the extensive variety of purposes to which this principle may be applied, and the certain efficacy which, as far as I can trust my own conceptions, it promises to them all, my wonder is, not only that this plan should never have hitherto been put in practice, but how any other should ever have been thought of.

In so many edifices, as, from the time of the conquest to the present, have been built for the express purpose of safe custody, does it sound natural that, instead of placing the prisoners under the inspection of their keepers, the one class should have been lodged at one end, perhaps, of a vast building, and the other at another end?—as if the object of the establishment were, that those who wished to escape might carry on their schemes in concert, and at leisure. I should suppose the inspection principle must long ago have occurred to the ingenious, and been rejected by the judicious, could I, after all my efforts, conceive a reason for the rejection. The circular form, notwithstanding its taking demonstrably less materials than any other, may, for aught I know, on its first construction, be more expensive than one of equal dimensions in any of the ordinary forms. But this objection, which has no other source than the loose and random surmise of one who has had no experience in building, can never have held good in comparison with all the other prisons that we have, if in truth it holds good in comparison with any. Witness the massy piles of Newgate, of which the enormous, and upon the common plans by no means unnecessary expense, has been laid out in the purchase of a degree of security, not equal to that which the circular form would have given to the slightest building that could be made to hold together. In short, as often as I indulge myself in the liberty of fancying that my own notions on this head may prove conformable to other people’s, I think of the old story of Columbus and his egg.

I have now set this egg of ours on its end:—whether it will stand fast, and bear the shocks of discussion, remains to be decided by experience. I think you will not find it stale; but its freshness is a circumstance, that may not give it an equal relish to every palate.

What would you say, if by the gradual adoption and diversified application of this single principle, you should see a new scene of things spread itself over the face of civilized society?—morals reformed, health preserved, industry invigorated, instruction diffused, public burthens lightened, economy seated as it were upon a rock, the gordian knot of the poor-laws not cut but untied—all by a simple idea in architecture?*

I am, &c.

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Principal Particulars either settled or altered, since the first hasty design, as described in Letter II. and imperfectly represented in Plate I. See Plate II.

1. Annular Well, or vacancy, all the way up, crowned by an uninterrupted opening sky-light, instead of stories of intermediate annular area to every two stories of cells.

2. Cells enlarged in depth, by throwing into them the space occupied in the first design by the protracted partitions, and by giving to the upper row in each pair the same depth as to the under row.

3. Cells, two laid into one.

4. Cells—number of stories, six instead of four.

5. Chapel, a regular one, now inserted in the centre: partly instead of the small central area; partly at the expense of the several stories of inspection-lodge.

6. Instead of three similar stories of inspection-lodge, in the two upper stories annular inspection-galleries, backed by the chapel-galleries, in the lowest story annular inspection-gallery, inclosing a circular inspector’s lodge.

7. No cupola, a part inserted in the first hasty sketch, rather by way of finish, than with a view to any special use.

8. The dead part, viz. that part of the circuit in which there are no cells, here occupying 5-24ths of the circuit instead of 2-48ths, i. e. 1-24th: in height five stories out of six, instead of two out of four, and covered by a projecting front.—N. B. This dead part, depending in point of magnitude and disposition so much upon local and other individual data, could not well be settled in all its parts, and accordingly is not represented in the draught.

9. Communications, now partly altered, partly fixed: particularly the only thorough passage, termed the diametrical passage, now cut through a sunk story, and at its exit joined by a covered way, projected downwards from the lowermost inspection-gallery, and terminating in a central look-out for the inspection of the yards.

10. The form polygonal (a double duodecagon, or polygon of 24 sides) instead of circular.

11. Diameter—According to the present draught 120 feet (exclusive of the projecting front,) instead of 100 feet, the diameter thought of in the original imperfect sketch, with a view to local circumstances.

12. Materials.—Iron much employed, and used for the cell-galleries, for staircases, for doors, and even for pillars, chiefly hollow, instead of brick, stone, or wood.—Plaister proposed for the cell floors.

13. Mode of supplying the building with water: chiefly by an annular cistern, running round the top of the building, under the roof, immediately within the wall.

14. Mode of warming the building: by streams of fresh air, heated in the new way by passing through the inside of vessels, to which fire is applied on the outside; instead of stagnant air, heated by its contiguity to hollow receptacles to which fire is applied on the inside, as in the ordinary German stoves and hot-house flues.

15. Outlets or external area, settled in subordination to the inspection principle: the covered way a semi-diameter of the area, terminating Edition: current; Page: [68] in a central look-out, instead of encompassing the area, and being attached to the surrounding wall.

16. Approach and surrounding fences, now first settled, and that too in strict subordination to the same principle.

N. B.—The degree of anxiety displayed in the plan of exterior fortification there exhibited, had a more particular view to the state of things in Ireland than in England.

With relation to most of these points further elucidation will be necessary; and with regard to several of them, something in the way of justification will be expected: such will be the business of the ensuing pages.

In a General View of the whole Building, according to its present form, three very different, though connected masses, may be distinguished.

1. The projecting front, a rectangular mass, which, being designed to go towards furnishing habitation for the officers of the establishment, has little to distinguish it from a common dwelling-house.

2. The cellular part, including, as well that part of the circuit which is actually disposed of in cells, as the dead part, which, for the sake of stability, it is thought necessary to lay out in the cellular form, although, for want of light, as being covered by the front, it would not be conveniently applicable to the same use.

3. The inspection-tower, comprehending on one story the lowermost inspection-gallery, with the inclosed inspector’s lodge; in another, the middlemost inspection-gallery, in which is inclosed the lowermost chapel-gallery, and within that again the area of the chapel;* on a third, the uppermost chapel-gallery.

The cellular mass, together with the inspection-tower inclosed within it, compose the characteristic part of the building; the projecting front forms an accidental and inessential appendage.

The whole of the characteristic part may be conceived as composed of two towers, one within the other, with the annular well between them.

A particularity that will require to be constantly kept in mind is, that in the two polygono-cylindrical masses, the circumscribing and the inscribed, not only the numbers of the stories do not agree, the latter having but half the number of the former, but that no one story in the interior part coincides in point of level with any one story of the exterior that surrounds it. This want of coincidence is not an accidental, but a characteristic, and almost essential circumstance: since it is by being placed about midway between the floor and the ceiling of the lower-most of each pair of cells, that one floor in each story of the inspection-tower affords a perfect view of two stories in the cellular part.

Principal Dimensions of the Polygonal Part, comprehending the Cellular Part, with the included Inspection-Tower, being the whole of what is represented in Plate II.
In some of the impressions of the draught, by mistake 13 feet only. Of the four additional feet thus given to the intermediate well, one was at the expense of the cells, the three others at the expense of the chapel-galleries. It is now, however, proposed to allow it one foot, at the expense of those galleries, making at the diameter eight feet instead of seven: exclusive of the four, which, to the purpose of ventilation, may be considered as little different from so much void space, being so imperfectly occupied by the cell-galleries, constructed of open work like balconies.
§ In some of the impressions of the draught, by mistake 11 feet.
In some of the impressions of the draught, the lowermost of these galleries has 3 feet of addition given to it, at the expense of the included lodge: this addition it is now proposed to take away, for the reasons given in Sect. 8.
In some of the impressions of the draught, by mistake 9 feet only.
Semidiameter of the area of the chapel, including the central aperture, 15
Width of a chapel-gallery, 12
Width of an inspection-gallery, 5
Width of the annular area in the same story, and well over it, 7§
Width of the grated annular passage, encompassing the annular area on the sunk story, being the same width as that of the cell-galleries above, 4
Depth of a cell within-side, 14
Thickness of the wall, 5
Total, 62
Add the other semidiameter, 62
Total diameter, 124
Under the Floor of the Chapel.
Semidiameter of the inspector’s lodge, thickness of the wall included, 27
Brought over, 27
Width of the inspection-gallery, 5
Add the other semidiameter, 32
Diameter of the building at the outer circumference of the inspector’s gallery in that story, 64
Which is the same as in the other stories.
Cellular Part alone.
From the floor of the sunk story to the floor of the lowest cell level with the ground, including the thickness of the floor, 7 6
From the floor to the crown of the arch in each cell, 8 0
Thickness of the arch at the crown, 1 0
Height of the first floor of cells from the ground, including the thickness of the floor above, 9 0
— of the second floor, 18 0
— of the third floor, 27 0
— of the fourth floor, 36 0
— of the fifth floor, 45 0
— of the sixth floor, 54 0
From the crown of the arch on the outside to the lowest part of the slanting roof within the walls, 3 0
From thence to the level of that part of the roof where the annular sky-light begins, 5 0
From thence to the level at which the sky-light terminates, 5 6
Thickness of the roof in that part, 1 0
14 6
Total depth of the annular well, 76 0 76 0
Height of the building from the ground in the cellular part, 69 6
Inspection Tower alone.
From the intermediate area to a level with the floor of the lowermost story of cells, 7 6
Thence to the floor of the inspection-gallery, 4 0
From the floor of the inspection-gallery to the roof of ditto, including the thickness of the floor and roof, 8 0
Void space between the lowermost and the middlemost inspection-galleries, 10 3
Height of the middlemost inspection gallery, including the thickness of the floor and roof, 7 6
Void space between the middlemost
Brought over, 37 3
inspection-gallery and the uppermost, 10 3
Height of the uppermost inspection-gallery in front, including the thickness of the floor and roof, 7 6
Void space between the uppermost inspection-gallery and the uppermost part of the roof where the annular sky-light terminates, exclusive of the thickness of the roof, 20 0
Thickness of the roof, 1 0
Height from the floor of the sunk story and annular well as before, 76 0
Inspector’s Lodge alone.
In some of the impressions of the draught but 21: the difference, 6 feet, being owing, half of it, to the three feet of addition given by mistake to the annular well, at the expense of the included inspection-tower; the other half, to the addition (now proposed to be taken back) given within that tower to the inspection-gallery in this story, at the expense of the included lodge.
* The diameter here given to these apertures is the same as that given to the opening sky-light over them: but they admit of extension, as the demand for light or any other consideration may require.
From the centre to the circumference of the central apertures in the floor and the ceiling,* 6
Of the annular space between that and the partition dividing the lodge from the surrounding gallery, being the space underneath a chapel gallery, added to that underneath the chapel area, 21
Total semidiameter of the inspector’s lodge, 27
Add the other semidiameter, 27
Total diameter, 54

Annular Well, instead of Stories of Intermediate Annular Area.

How to give to the inspectors access to the prisoners in their cells? In the first design, stories of intermediate area, serving as passages, were allotted to this purpose: in number agreeing with the stories of inspection-lodge: in point of level, coinciding, as was necessary, with the lowest story of each pair of cells. Apertures, cut here and there through the uppermost of these stories of passages, were to give light and air to those below.

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For what purpose these passages? For communication, and no other. But the more I considered, the more plainly I perceived, that for uninterrupted communication there would be no use. The first succedaneum that presented itself was a multitude of flying staircases of open iron-work: at last I satisfied myself, that two flights of staircases, from top to bottom, for the prisoners, and short passages joining them from the several stories of the inspection-part, would answer every purpose.* Out went accordingly the stories of intermediate area. Space took the place of matter, from the bottom of the building to the top: and thus a well was formed all the way up, crowned by an uninterrupted sky-light, as broad, and opening in as many places, as possible.

Airiness, lightsomeness, economy, and increased security, are the evident results of this simple alteration: above all things, airiness, the want of which it might not by any other means have been very easy to remove. This vacuity does service in a thousand shapes: a ditch in fortification, it is a chimney, and much more than a chimney, in ventilation. In this point of view, the distance between the particular ceiling and the general sky-light is so much added to the height of ceiling in each cell: so that instead of 6 cells, each 8 feet high and no more, we have in fact, 6 cells, one of 66 feet, another of 57, a third of 48, a fourth of 39, a fifth of 30, and the lowest not less than 21 feet.

Communication, impeded in as far as it is dangerous, is, instead of being retarded, accelerated, where it is of use. To the inspector, in his gallery, a single pole answers, as we shall see, the purpose of many staircases: by this simple implement, without quitting his station, he gives the prisoners egress from, and regress into, their cells. Machines, materials of work, and provisions, find a direct passage by help of a crane, without the tedious circuity of a staircase: whence less width of staircase may suffice. The posts at which, were iron gratings of no avail, it would be possible for a desperate prisoner to attack an inspector in his castle, are reduced to three narrow passages on each side: and these, too, crossed and guarded by doors of open-work, exposing the enemy, while they keep him at a distance. Of all this more particularly in its place. A short hint of the several advantages could not well be omitted in speaking of the part to which they are due.

Add to these another, nor that an inconsiderable one, in point of extent and facility of inspection: for though there are but two stories of cells, of which an eye situated in a story of the inspecting tower can reach every part alike, yet in addition to this perfect view partial views are thus opened, from which the management may derive, as we shall see, very material assistance.

What degree of support the inspector of each story of inspection-gallery derives from the view thus acquired by his colleagues in the two other stories, may be seen by the lines described for that purpose in the cells. They are drawn as if from an eye stationed in the back part of the several inspection-galleries. The figures 1, 2, 3, mark the stories of inspection-gallery from which they are respectively drawn. When two of these lines proceed from the same cell, the letter s denotes that one of them, which was drawn from the height of the eye of a middle-sized man when sitting, and stooping to read or write—say three feet six inches; the letter u, that drawn from the eye of the same man standing upright—say five feet five inches.

From this particularity in point of construction, the following observations may be deduced with a view to management:

1. There is no cell of which some part is not visible from every story in the inspection-tower: and in the lowermost story, not only from the inspection-gallery, but even from the included inspector’s lodge.

2. The part thus visible is considerable enough, in point of room, to receive, and expose perfectly to view, a greater number of prisoners than it can ever be proposed to lodge in the same cell.

3. No prisoner can ever make any attempt upon the grating that forms the interior boundary of his cell, without being visible to every one of the three stations in the inspection-part.

4. During meal-times and at church-times, by stationing the prisoners close to the grating, two out of three inspectors may be spared.

5. The cell-galleries are, every one of them, perfectly commanded by every station in the inspection-part.

6. An attempt can scarcely, if at all, be made on a window in the third story of cells, without being visible, not only to its proper story (viz. the 2d) of the inspection-part, but likewise to the first; nor upon a window in the 4th story of cells, without being visible not only to its proper story (viz. the 2d) of the inspection-part, but likewise to the 3d. Those of the 4th story at least, as well as the two above it, are sufficiently guarded by their height; upon the supposition that the cells afford no ropes, nor materials of which ropes could be made in the compass of a night, by persons exposed constantly to the eye of a patrolling watchman.

7. To give to an inspector at any time the Edition: current; Page: [71] same command over the cell of another inspector as over his own, there needs but anorder, drawing a line of limitation in the cells in question, and confining the inhabitants within that line. So long as a prisoner keeps within it he continues visible; and the instant he ceases to be so, his very invisibility is a mark to note him by.

Protracted Partitions omitted; or rather, taken into the Cells.

In the original design, the protracted partitions had two uses: 1. To cut off all view of distant cells; 2. To cut off converse with the cells contiguous on each side. In securing this effect, a large quantity of brick-work, and an annular space of 3 or 4 feet all round, were expended.

Upon maturer consideration, it appeared that the same effect might be equally secured by slighter and cheaper means; and the space thus sacrificed allotted to some other more necessary purpose. Views of the opposite semicircle may be intercepted by sheets of canvass filling up the intervals left by the stories of the inspection-gallery,*—view and converse, as between cells contiguous or adjacent, by barriers of the slightest nature interposed within the cells; such as a netting of wire for example, or even of packthread. The object is rather to mark the line, than to oppose a physical obstacle to the violation of it. If transgression be rendered impracticable without discovery, it is sufficient; since it is not here and there an instance that can produce any material mischief, or to the delinquent any gratification capable of paying for the danger. By this slight and flexible barrier, no room need be consumed. As well at top as at bottom, it will give place to furniture; such as a shelf, or the foot of a loom, a bedstead, or a table; and upon order given, it may be removed at any time.

When the protracted partitions were contrived, it was with a view to the assumed necessity of absolute solitude: that plan being, for reasons given below, now relinquished, neither this expedient, nor those now proposed to be substituted to it in the same intention, are any longer of the same importance.

If the interception of view can be considered as an object entitled to much attention, it can only be as between the different sexes. Of the provision made for that purpose, a full account will be found below.


The change is not a trifling one. It will not lightly be acceded to: the expediency of it will be expected to be fully and satisfactorily made out. It shall be so: by reason, by authority, and by practice. In the letters, I assumed solitude as a fundamental principle. I then copied, and I copied from recollection. I had no books. I have since read a little: I have thought more.

Not that the Panopticon system has any interest in the change. You may apply it, indeed, to mitigated seclusion, but so you may, with equal facility, to absolute solitude. Applied to the degree of mitigated seclusion here proposed, it clears the punishment of its inconveniences, and gives it the advantages that have been looked for from solitude: applied to solitude, it enables you to screw up the punishment to a degree of barbarous perfection never yet given to it in any English prison, and scarcely to be given to it by any other means.

Double cells suppose two prisoners at least in company; and admit of three, or even, in case of necessity, four; and that with much less inconvenience, as we shall see, in point of room, than would result from the putting of two into a cell designed only for one. As to any greater number, I lay it out of the question. The choice lies, it must be remembered, not betwixt solitude and crowded rooms, but betwixt absolute perpetual and universal solitude, on the one hand, and mitigated seclusion in very small assorted companies, on the other: companies, in the formation of which every regard might be paid, and naturally would be paid, to every sort of consideration by which expediency can be influenced—to age, temper, character, talents, and capabilities. Single cells throughout, that is, a number of cells equal to that of the prisoners for whose reception they are designed—cells in which, under the Panopticon discipline, they are to work, and eat, and attend Divine service, as well as sleep, and out of which, unless for the purpose of being aired and exercised, they are never to stir: suppose them doomed, or at least meant to be doomed, during the whole time of their imprisonment, to the state of unmitigated solitude above mentioned; that time, for the most part, a term of not less than seven years.

Of perfect solitude in the penitentiary discipline I know but of one use,—the breaking Edition: current; Page: [72] the spirit, as the parase is, and subduing the contumacy of the intractable. In this quality it may be a necessary instrument: none, at any rate, can be more unexceptionable; none can be more certain in its effect.* In what instance was it ever known to fail?

But in this quality the demand for it can be but temporary. What it does, if it does anything, it does quickly—better, according to Mr. Howard, in two or three days, than in more. Why, then, at an immense expense set up a perpetual establishment for the sake of so transitory a use?

In the character of a permanent article of discipline, continued throughout the whole of the confinement, if it were thought necessary on any account, it must be for one or other of two purposes:—1. To prevent the spread of mischievous instruction; or, 2. To prevent conspiracies for the purpose of escape.

It is not necessary for either purpose: I mean always in contradistinction to the mitigated plan of seclusion, which gives to each man, but one, or at most two companions: I. Not for the former. In the cases in which mischievous inclinations have been apprehended, and in which a plan of solitude, more or less steadily adhered to, has been employed or thought of by way of remedy, the following circumstances have generally concurred:—1. The multitude of the prisoners collected together large and indeterminate; 2. The composition of that multitude not capable of being regulated by any power of selection; 3. The whole multitude left together, during the whole, or almost the whole of the four-and-twenty hours, without inspection or controul, and that in a narrow space, where no one, however desirous, could escape from the conversation of any other; 4. All of them at liberty, without any other check than that of poverty, to supply themselves to any excess with the means of intoxication; 5. A part, more or less considerable, of that number, about to be turned loose again upon the public in a short time, with the lessons of mischief fresh in their ears, and ready at the first opportunity to apply the theory to practice. Under the arrangement to which, upon maturer consideration, I have given the preference in comparison with the first hasty conception of perpetual solitude, not one of the above circumstances has place. The number of the prisoners proposed to be put together is very small; in general, but two, at the utmost not more than four: the composition of these little groupes dependent upon the ruling powers in the first instance, and capable of being varied every moment, upon any the slightest intimation which experience or even suspicion can afford: every groupe, and every individual in it, exposed more or less to the scrutiny of an inspecting eye during every moment of their continuance there: all means of intoxication for ever out of reach: the degree of seclusion determined upon, capable, whatever it be, of being—thanks to the all-efficient power of the Panopticon principle—maintained inviolate, while every plan of solitude yet attempted has been broken in upon, and its purpose in great measure frustrated, by occasional associations: and the pernicious instruction, should any such be communicated, not capable, were it to find a learner ever so ripe for it, of being applied to practice for many years to come.

If from reason we turn to example, an instance where the plan of perpetual, total, and universal solitude has been adopted and steadily adhered to, will not anywhere, I believe, be found. Either it has not been aimed at, or if aimed at in principle, it has been relented from in practice.

In the Wymondham Penitentiary-House, each prisoner, it is true, has a separate cell to sleep in: it is, however, only upon occasion* Edition: current; Page: [73] that he works there. If he does not work there, he must work, and unquestionably does work, in company, viz. in the workroom of twenty feet four inches by ten feet, which was not destined for a few. As a preservative against mischievous instruction, what, then, at those times, that is, throughout the day, becomes of solitude?

In the Gloucester Penitentiary-House, as well as in the other Gloucester prisons, solitude, under the two modifications there adopted, viz. with and without the concomitant of darkness, is, with great propriety, and in conformity to the principle I am contending for, “directed merely as a punishment for refractory prisoners, and to enforce the discipline of the prison.”

In the penitentiary-house, indeed, it is provided, that during the hours of rest, the prisoners shall be “kept entirely separate—in separate cells.” So much for the night. How is it all day long?—“During the hours of labour,” they are to be “kept separate.”—How?—absolutely? No: but only “as far as the nature of the employment will adnut.”

What follows immediately after, I do not perfectly comprehend:—“When the nature of the employment may require two persons to work together,” (it does not say two persons or more) “the taskmasters, or assistant, (it is said) shall be present to attend to the behaviour of such offenders, who shall not continue together except during such hours of labour.” How is this? Not more than two persons ever to work together? nor even two without a taskmaster, or his assistant, to attend them? Upon any idea of economy, can this be looked upon as practicable? One man at £50, or £30, or £25 a-year, to do nothing but look on, for every two men who are expected to work? The governor is allowed, I observe, for but one subordinate of each of those descriptions. Are there, then, to be but three pair of prisoners on the whole establishment, to whom the indulgence of so much as a single companion is to be allowed? are all the rest to remain in solitude for the want of an attendant to each pair?—This cannot be. By two, then, we are to understand two or more: in short, here, as at Wymondham, there are working-rooms in common, in which none are to be without an inspector stationed in some part of the room.—But in this case, too, what becomes of solitude?

If the benefits expected from solitude in the character of a preservative, were not given up by this relaxation, they would be by another. The following I observe prescribed, as one of the four degrees of punishment “to be applied in the discipline of all the prisons,” the Penitentiary prison, therefore, among the rest. The prisoner, though “on working-days confined to his cell, except during the times of airing,” and though “removed singly to the chapel,” is, “provided his or her behaviour be orderly or decent,” to be “allowed on Sundays, to air in the courts, in the society of his or her class.”§ Under this indulgence, too, what becomes of the antiseptic regimen? May not the same person who opens a school of corruption as soon as the keeper’s back is turned, be orderly and decent during his presence? may not there be eye-prisoners, as well as eye-servants? cannot the arts of housebreaking and pilfering be taught on Sundays, as well as on week-days? cannot they be taught quietly, and in a low voice?

So much as to evil instruction. Now as to safe custody. Upon the Panopticon plan, at least, absolute solitude is equally unnecessary to this purpose. Towards effecting an escape, what can two or three do more than one, confined as they are by iron grates while they are within the prison, and by walls when they are without? and, in either case, never out of the eye of an inspector, who is armed and out of reach of attack, and within reach of whatever assistance he can desire? and this, too, as we shall see, but a part of the securities with which the system is armed? for every thing cannot be said at once, nor repeated at each sentence.

Upon the common plans, absolute solitude while the prisoners were out of sight might, for aught I can say, be a necessary precaution: at least it cannot be said to be an useless one. In the course of sixteen hours, a good deal might be done by two or three persons, steeled against danger, reckoning life as nothing, and secure of not being observed.

If perpetual and unremitted solitude is not necessary either to prevent the spread of mischievous instruction, or to prevent escapes, to what other purpose can it be either necessary, or of use? To reformation? but that you have already, either without any solitude, or by the help of a short course of it. What further proof would you wish for? what further proof can human eyes have, of such a change, beyond quietness, silence, and obedience?

To the purpose of example? The effect in the way of example, the effect of the spectacle, receives little addition from the protracted duration of the term.

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Are you afraid the situation should not be made uncomfortable enough to render it ineligible? There are ways enough in the world of making men miserable, without this expensive one: nor, if their situation in such a place were made the best of, is there any great danger of their finding themselves too much at their ease. If you must torment them, do it in a way in which somebody may be a gainer by it. Sooner than rob them of all society, I would pinch them at their meals.

But solitude, when it ceases to be necessary, becomes worse than useless. Mr. Howard has shewn how. It is productive of gloomy despondency, or sullen insensibility. What better can be the result, when a vacant mind is left for months, or years, to prey upon itself.

This is not all. Making this lavish use of solitude is expending an useful instrument of discipline in waste. Not that of punishments, or even a proper variety of punishments, there can ever be a dearth: I mean, of what is usually in view under that name—suffering employed in a quantity predetermined, after an offence long past. But of instruments of compulsion, such as will bear scrutiny, there is no such great abundance.

Starving thus employed, is open to suspicion, and may not always be practicable, without prejudice to health. Acute applications, such as whipping or beating, are open to abuse, and still more to suspicion of abuse. Applied in this way, they would be execrated under the name of torture. Solitude thus applied, especially if accompanied with darkness and low diet, is torture in effect, without being obnoxious to the name.

Compared to that mitigated degree of seclusion which admits of allowing two or three to a cell, it is unthrifty in a more literal sense. Pecuniary economy must be sacrificed to it in a thousand shapes:—1. It enhances the expense of building; 2. It consumes room; 3. It cramps the choice of trades; 4. It cramps industry in any trade.

1. It enhances the expense of building. Admit of double cells instead of single, and observe the saving. Half the number of the partition-walls; a considerable part of the expense of warming; half that of lighting; half the apparatus, whatever it be, dedicated to cleanliness; and the expense of waterclosets, upon the most perfect plan, need the less be grudged.

2. It consumes room: 1. Admit of double cells, you gain to the purpose of stowage and manufacture, the space occupied by the partition-walls you have thrown out; 2. It precludes the saving that may be made in double cells, by putting together two sorts of workmen, one of whom required more room than the average allowance, the other less; a weaver, for example, and a shoemaker.

3. It cramps the choice of employments: 1. It excludes all such as require more room than you would think fit to allow to your single cell; 2. It excludes all such as require two or more to work in the same apartment.*

4. It cramps industry in any employment: 1. It precludes an experienced workman from having boys given to him for apprentices; 2. Nor probably would the same quantity of work be done by two persons in a state of solitude, as would be done by the same two persons in a state of society, at least under the influence of the inspection principle. Who does not know the influence that the state of the spirits has upon the quantity of the work?

Sequestered society is favourable to friendship, the sister of the virtues. Should the comrades agree, a firm and innocent attachment will be the natural fruit of so intimate a society, and so long an union.

Each cell is an island:—the inhabitants, shipwrecked mariners, cast ashore upon it by the adverse blasts of fortune: partners in affliction, indebted to each other for whatever share they are permitted to enjoy of society, the greatest of all comforts.

Should disagreement intervene, how easy will separation be! and what should hinder it? Should the mischief be the result of illnature or turbulence of one alone, the remedy Edition: current; Page: [75] is at hand:—consign him to solitude till tamed; take from him the blessing, till he has learned to know its value; punish him in the faculty he has abused.

A fund of society will thus be laid up for them against the happy period which is to restore them to the world. A difficulty will thus be obviated which has been remarked as one of the most unfortunate concomitants of this mode of punishment, and as having but too powerful a tendency to replunge them into the same abandoned courses of life which brought them to it before. Quitting the school of adversity, they will be to each other as old school-fellows, who had been through the school together, always in the same class.

Let us keep clear of mistakes on all sides. There are four distinctions we should be careful to observe in regard to solitude:—One is, between the utility of it in the character of a temporary instrument applicable to a temporary purpose, and the necessity of it, in the character of a permanent ingredient in the system of discipline. Another is, between the peculiar effects of solitude, and the advantages which are equally obtainable by means of sequestered society, in small assorted companies. A third is, between the effects of such associations, under the common plan and under the all-preservative influence of the inspection principle.

A fourth is, between the duration the solitary discipline is capable of requiring in a penitentiary-house, and that which it may possibly be of use to give to it in a house of correction. It may be longer in the latter.* Why? Because, in a penitentiary-house, all it can be wanted for is to produce immediate submission: for as to reformation and change of character, years are remaining for that task: the offender is not returned from thence into unlimited society. In a house of correction, the term being so much shorter, the remedy must be so much the more powerful. If the reformation of the offender is not completed in his solitary cell, there is no other place for it to be continued in; for from thence he is returned to society at large.

One thing is good for physic, another thing for food? Would you keep a man upon bark or antimony?

Rejecting, then, the idea of absolute solitude, I lay two of the cells proposed in the original draught into one. Two, accordingly, is the number I consider as forming the ordinary complement of the double cell thus formed: three, if three are anywhere to be admitted, I style a super-complement: four, a double complement.

The degree of extensibility thus given to the establishment seems a very considerable advantage: the number is not rigorously confined to the measure originally allotted to it: provision is made for the fluctuation and uncertainty naturally incident to the number of inhabitants in such a house. Though two should be deemed the properest complement for a general one, even so considerable an one as four, especially if not universal, does not seem to threaten any formidable inconvenience. As to safe custody and good order, four is not such a number as can well be deemed unmanageable: if it were, how would so many more be managed all day long in the work-shops, and that without the benefit of invisible inspection, as on the common plans? As to room, four would have much more in one of these double cells, than two would have in a single cell formed by the division of such a double cell into equal parts. A partition, in certain cases, excludes from use a much greater space than that which it covers.

Under this arrangement, solitude, in its character of a temporary instrument, is by no means laid aside. On the contrary, it is made applicable to a greater, indeed to an almost unlimited extent, and, what is more, without any additional expense. Two, I call, as before, the ordinary complement for these double cells. Conceive the whole number of the cells provided with their ordinary complement: to consign a delinquent to solitude, there needs no more than to deprive him of his companion, and by transferring the companion to another cell, give that one other cell a super-complement. In this way, by only giving to half the number of cells a super-complement, half the number of prisoners might be consigned to solitude at once: a multitude of solitaries beyond comparison greater than what is provided for in any prison in which solitude is not meant to be the Edition: current; Page: [76] constant state of the whole. Even supposing the cells universally provided with a super-complement, give two-thirds of them a double complement, and you may still consign to solitude one-third of their inhabitants at the same time: and so, in case of an universal double complement, one quarter, upon no worse terms than the putting five persons into a space, which, in the ordinary way of providing for the inferior classes, is often made to hold a greater number without any very decided inconvenience.

In estimating the effects of putting two or three or four prisoners together (all under inspection, it must be remembered, all the while) the advantage of grouping them at the discretion of the inspector must not be overlooked. Very inattentive indeed must he have been to this capital part of his business, if in a very short time the character of every individual among them be not known to him as much as is material to his purpose. He will, of course, sort them in such a manner as that they may be checks upon one another, not assistants, with regard to any forbidden enterprise.

Let us not be imposed upon by sounds: let not the frightful name of felon bereave us of the faculty of discrimination. Even antecedently to the time within which the reformatory powers of the institution can be expected to have had their effect, there will be perhaps no very considerable part of the whole number, whose characters need inspire much more apprehension than would be justified by an equal number of men taken at large. It is a too common, though natural error to affix to this odious name, whatsoever difference of character may accompany it, one indistinguishing idea of profligacy and violence. But the number of the persons guilty of crimes of violence, such as robbery, the only sorts of crimes which in such an establishment can be productive of any serious mischief, bear, comparatively speaking, but a small proportion to the whole. Those whose offences consist in acts of timid iniquity, such as thieves and sharpers, even though trained to the practice as to a profession, are formidable, not to the peace of the establishment, but only in the capacity of instructors to the rest; while the qualities of perhaps the major part, whose criminality is confined to the having yielded for once to the momentary impulse of some transient temptation, are such as afford little or no danger in any shape, more than would be afforded by any equal number of persons in the same state of poverty and coercion taken at large. They are like those on whom the tower of Siloam fell—distinguished from many of their neighbours more by suffering than by guilt. Drunkenness, it is to be remembered, the most inexhaustible and most contagious source of all corruptions, is here altogether out of the question. Intoxication cannot be taught, where there is nothing (for this I take for granted) where with a man can be intoxicated.*


It will be necessary, on a variety of accounts, to reserve some part of the circuit of the building for other purposes than that of being disposed of into cells. A chapel, a part of the establishment for which a place must be found somewhere, occupies upon the present plan a considerable portion of the inspection-tower. Even the whole of that circle, were there to be no chapel, would not suffice for the lodgment of all the persons for whom lodgment would be necessary. There must be a chaplain, a surgeon, and a matron; especially, if besides male, there should be female prisoners, which in a building of this kind there may be, as we shall see, without inconvenience. Should the establishment not be of sufficient magnitude to call upon the chaplain and the surgeon for the whole of their time, and to give a complete lodgment to those officers and their families, some sort of separate apartment they must still have, the surgeon at least, to occupy while they are there.

To such an establishment, not only a governor, but a sub-governor, will probably be requisite: and for the sake of giving an inspecting eye to the approach without, as well as for other purposes, it will be necessary, as we shall see, that the former, and convenient that the latter at least, should have an apartment fronting and looking out that way. And for the lodgment of the governor, at least, there will be required a space sufficient for a style of living, equal or approaching to that of a gentleman.

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There must therefore be some part of the building, over and above the central, provided for the lodgment of these several sorts of curators, and consequently not like the rest, disposed of in the form of cells. The part of the circuit thus sacrificed and blocked up, as we shall see, by a projecting front, is what I call the dead-part.*

To take from the cells the whole of the space thus meant to be employed, would absorb a greater part of the circuit than would be necessary, and thus make an uneconomical diminution in the number of prisoners capable of being provided for. To obviate this inconvenience, in a building of 120 feet diameter, which, were the whole of it disposed into cells, would, by having 24 double cells in a story, and six such stories, contain 288 prisoners, I take, for supposition’s sake, for the dead part, a space no more than equal to five such cells.

To obtain what further room may be requisite, and that without any further prejudice to the number of the cells, I add a quadrangular front, projecting, say for instance 20 feet, reckoning from a tangent to the circle. This, with the help of the space included by a perpendicular drawn from such tangent to the last of the cells thus sacrificed on each side, would form a considerable projection, extending in front about 73 feet. By this means, the officers in question might all of them possess some sort of communication with the exterior approach, while the back part of the space thus appropriated would give them communication with and inspection into the part allotted to the prisoners, and, to such of them as required to be stationed in the heart of the building, access to their common lodgment in that place.

The front, thus formed, would not however require to be carried up to the utmost height of a building so lofty as the circular part, viz. upon the present plan about 68 feet, roof included. Prisoners, as their occasion to ascend and descend recurs, as we shall see, at very few and stated periods, may be lodged at almost any height, without sensible inconvenience; but this is not equally the case with members of families in a state of liberty. The ceilings, though higher than those of the cells (which are 8 feet in the clear,) would not require to be so lofty as the distance from floor to floor in the inspection part; a number of stories, though not so great as six, yet greater than three, might therefore be thus alloted. To dispose of the surplus to advantage, I omit a height at top equal to and level with that of the uppermost story of cells. The corresponding part of the circuit of cells, comprehending a space equal to that of five of these double cells, is thus restored to the light, and free to be converted into cells. This part, or any of the cells composing it, may answer upon occasion the purpose of an infirmary.

It possesses in this view a peculiar advantage: The front may have a flat roof, which, being raised to the level of the floor, or the bottom of the windows of this infirmary part, Edition: current; Page: [78] and covered with lead or copper, will form a terrace, on which convalescents, though incapable of the fatigue of descending and reascending, may take the air. A space of 73 feet in front, and in width where narrowest, (viz. at its junction with the circle,) 20 feet, and where widest (viz. at the furthest part from the circle,) near 32 feet, would afford very convenient room for this purpose; and the separation between the males and females might here likewise, if thought necessary, be kept up by a partition wall cutting the terrace in the middle.

A more convenient infirmary could scarce be wished for. The only expense attending it, is the difference between that of a flat and that of an ordinary roof for the quadrangular projection over which it looks; and even this difference is not an essential one. On the ordinary plans, while there are no sick, the infirmary is vacant and useless. Such need not be the case here. Guarded and watched in the same manner, the infirmary cells are as fit for the reception of prisoners in health as any other cells. When the establishment is in this state of repletion, suppose an infirmary cell wanted for a sick person, it is but dismissing its former inhabitant, or inhabitants, to an ordinary cell or cells, upon the principle already mentioned.

The part thus denominated the dead-part, would be very far from lost. It would afford room for many necessary articles in the composition of the building. Out of it ought to be taken:—

1. Staircases for the prisoners and inspectors; for which, see the head of Communications.

2. Entrance and staircases for the chapel visitors; for which, also see the head of Communications.

3. Passage and staircase to the inspector’s lodge; for which, see the same title.

4. Vestry for the chaplain.

5. Organ and organ-loft.

6. Clock-house and belfry.

Chapel Introduced.*

The necessity of a chapel to a penitentiary-house, is a point rather to be assumed than argued. Under an established church of any persuasion, a system of penitence without the means of regular devotion, would be a downright solecism. If religious instruction and exercise be not necessary to the worst, and generally the most ignorant of sinners, to whom else can they be other than superfluous?

This instruction, where then shall they be placed to receive it? Nowhere better than where they are. There they are in a state of continued safe custody; and there they are without any additional expense. It remains only to place the chaplain; and where the chaplain is, there is the chapel. A speaker cannot be distinctly heard more than a very few feet behind the spot he speaks from. The congregation being placed in a circle, the situation, therefore, of the chaplain should be, not in the centre of that circle, but as near as may be to that part which is behind him, and, consequently, at the greatest distance from that part of it to which he turns his face.

But between the centre of the inspection-tower all round, and the intermediate well, there must be, at any rate, whatever use it may be put to, a very considerable space. What, then, shall be done with it? It cannot be employed as a warehouse consistently with the sanctity of its destination; nor even independently of that consideration, since, if thus filled up, it would intercept both sight and voice. Even if divine service were out of the question, it is only towards the centre that this part could be employed for stowage, without obstructing inspection as much as in the other case it would devotion; nor can it, even in that part, be so employed, without narrowing in proportion the inspector’s range, and protruding his walk to a longer and longer circuit. What, then, shall we do with this vacuity? Fill it with company, if company can be induced to come. Why not, as welt as to the Asylum, the Magdalen, and the Lock Hospital, in London? The scene would be more picturesque; the occasion not less interesting and affecting. The prospect of contributions that might be collected here as there, will bind the manager to the observance of every rule that can contribute to keep the establishment in a state of exemplary neatness and cleanliness, while the profit of them will pay him for the expense and trouble. Building, furniture, apparel, persons, every thing, must be kept as nice as a Dutch house. The smallest degree of ill scent would be fatal to this part of his enterprise. To give it success, prejudices indeed would be to be surmounted; but by experience—continued and uninterrupted experience—even prejudice may be overcome.

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The affluence of visitors, while it secured cleanliness, and its concomitants healthiness and good order, would keep up a system of gratuitous inspection, capable of itself of awing the keeper into good conduct, even if he were not paid for it: and the opposite impulses of hope and fear would thus contribute to ensure perfection to the management, and keep the conduct of the manager wound up to the highest pitch of duty. Add to this the benefit of the example, and of the comments that would be made on it by learned and religious lips: these seeds of virtue, instead of being buried in obscurity, as in other improved prisons, would thus be disseminated far and wide.

Whatever profit, if any, the contractor could make out of this part of the plan, why grudge it him? why to his establishment, more than to any of those just mentioned? Not a penny of it but would be a bounty upon good management, and a security against abuse.

If the furniture and decoration of the chapel would require some expense, though very little decoration would be requisite, a saving, on the other hand, results from the degree of openness which such a destination suggested and rendered necessary. On the original plan, the whole circuit of the central part, then appropriated solely to inspection, was to have been filled with glass: on the present plan, which lays this part open in different places, to the amount of at least half its height, that expensive material is proportionably saved.

On the present plan, it will be observed, that three stories of cells only, viz. the second, third, and fifth from the top, enjoy an uninterrupted view of the minister.* That the inhabitants of the other stories of cells may have participation of the same benefit, it will be necessary they should be introduced, for the occasion, into or in front of such of the cells as are in a situation to enjoy it. This might be effected, and that with the greatest ease, were the whole establishment to receive even a double complement.

The two parties, composed of the fixed inhabitants of each cell on the one hand, and the strangers imported from a distant cell on the other, might be stationed either in one continued row in the front of the cell-galleries, or the one party in that line, and the other immediately within the cell-grating. In neither case need the law of seclusion be suffered to be infringed by converse: both parties are alike awed to silence by an invisible eye—invisible not only to the prisoners in front, but to the company behind: not only the person of each inspector, but his very station, being perfectly concealed from every station in the chapel.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [81] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [83] 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 Edition: current; Page: [84] 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. Edition: current; Page: [85] 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 Edition: current; Page: [86] 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.*


Under the general name of Communications may be comprised—

1. The passages, and galleries serving only as passages.

2. Staircases.

3. Gates, doors, and apertures answering the purpose of doors.

None of these but are articles of very material concern in a prison.

In a Panopticon-prison, one general problem applies to all: to extend to all of them, without exception or relaxation, the influence of the commanding principle. Cells, communications, outlets, approaches, there ought not anywhere to be a single foot square, on which man or boy shall be able to plant himself—no not for a moment—under any assurance of not being observed. Leave but a single spot thus unguarded, that spot will be sure to be a lurking-place for the most reprobate of the prisoners, and the scene of all sorts of forbidden practices.

In an ordinary public building, there is a use in having the communications spacious and numerous: in a prison, they ought rather to be few and narrow. Convenience is the great object in the one case; security in the other. The fewer, the easier guarded; the narrower, the less force there can be at any given point to oppose to the commanding and defensive force of the prison. Nor will the sacrifice requisite to be made of convenience be found so great as might be imagined. In an ordinary public building, persons have occasion to pass in indeterminate numbers at a time, and the same person frequently. In a well-contrived and well-regulated prison, at least in a prison upon this construction, the persons who are to pass, and the times at which they have occasion to pass, are all foreknown and registered. Sacrifice, did I say? The reader has already seen much convenience gained, and I hope he will see scarce any sacrificed.

The objects that required to be attended to, in planning a system of communications for an establishment of this kind, were—1. The ends to be kept in view in the contrivance; 2. The places to and from which communications were to be contrived; 3. The persons and things for which the communications might be wanted.

The ends to be kept in view with regard to the prisoners, are principally four:—

1. Uninterrupted exposure to invisible inspection.

2. Inability to attack the keeper, or do other mischief.

3. Separation of the sexes, if both are included in one building.

4. Prevention of converse with prisoners of other cells, at times of passing to and fro.

The places in question are—1. The cells; 2. The inspection-galleries; 3. The inspector’s lodge; 4. The chapel; 5. The warerooms; 6. The fire-places; 7 The yards.

The persons in question are—1. The prisoners; 2. The keepers; 3. Visitors to the head-keeper and other officers, on business or curiosity; 4. Visitors to the chapel.

The things in question may be reduced to the head of—1. Machines; 2. Materials for work; 3. Finished work; 4. Provisions.

Prisoners’ Staircases.

Staircases for the prisoners are of course requisite from the bottom to the top of that part of the building which they are to inhabit: from the sunk story below the cells, to the upper story of the cells.

I make two sets of staircases, and but two—I put them into the dead-part—I place them in stories one over another, and not, as Edition: current; Page: [87] was once proposed to me, winding all over the building—I place them in a line within the inner boundary or back front of the cells, yet not extending so far the other way, as to the exterior boundary or fore front—I make them of iron bars—I make the flight of steps run in a direction parallel, and not at right angles, to the cell-galleries and inspection-galleries—I give them pulley-doors with warning-bells where they open into the galleries—I carry them down to the sunk story below the cells—I make them at the utmost not wider than the galleries.

1. I make two of them, partly to shorten in some degree the passage to each, but principally to provide for the separation of the sexes, if both are received into one building, as in a building of this kind they might be without inconvenience.*

2. I make no more than two. In a building for ordinary uses this number might be scanty; it is not so in such an one as the present. The occasions on which they will be wanted are few; they may be all known and numbered.

3. I place the staircases of different stories in one pile, one over another, not in a spiral running round the building. In the latter case, the prisoners on each side would in their ascent and descent pass each of them by the cells of all the floors below his own. But such a perambulation would but ill accord with that plan of seclusion, which, from the mitigation given to it, may and ought to be adhered to with the greater strictness. On the plan here preferred, the perambulation, and thence the opportunity of converse, is reduced to its least limits.

4. I place them in the dead-part—1. Because by that means I do not make sacrifice of any of the cells; 2. Because I thereby bring them within reach of the governor, or sub-governor, or both, in such manner, that those officers may give an eye that way, without quitting for the purpose the projecting front, in which will be the principal abode of the one, and the occasional business of the other.

5. I place them within the interior boundary or back front of the cells, and consequently within the line of the cell-galleries. This I do, that the width of the cell-galleries in that part may afford sufficient landing-place, as well for a prisoner when he has opened the door leading to the staircase from the cell-gallery, as to an inspector in his way to the prisoners’ staircase from the inspection-gallery, of which a little further on.

6. Instead of carryng them home to a line with the fore front or exterior boundary of the cells, so as to occupy the whole depth, I make them fall short of that line by a few feet—say four feet, exclusive of the thickness of the wall, and the apertures, corresponding to windows, that may be made in that thickness. In the space thus reserved, I put waterclosets, at least for the governor’s house on his side; more especially on his ground-floor. Edition: current; Page: [88] In this recess ne commands, without being seen, a view of the staircase, by which means he is necessarily obliged, as well as without trouble enabled, to give a look into the prison once a-day at least, at uncertain and unexpected times. The ground-floor is more peculiarly adapted to this purpose, since from that station his chance of getting a sight of the prisoners, as they ascend and descend, extends to the inhabitants of every story of cells in the semicircle on that side: whereas on a superior story the chance would not extend to such of the prisoners, whose cells were situated in any inferior one.

7. The staircases are of iron bars, and not of brick or stone—1. That they may be the more airy; 2. That one part may intercept the light from another as little as possible; 3. That the prisoners, as they go up and down, may be exposed as much as possible to view from the inspection-galleries in that quarter.

8. It is also for the latter reason that the flights of steps run parallel to the inspection-galleries. Had their course been at right angles to those galleries, the stairs being interposed, between the prisoners in their ascent or descent and the inspector’s eye, would have screened them from his view.

9. The use of the pulley-doors, which, on opening, ring warning bells, is to give notice of the approach of a prisoner, upon an occasion mentioned elsewhere; to the inspector, who, by that means, is summoned to let him into his cell, and in the mean time to have an eye upon his motions.

10. I place the doors, as in a protracted partition, crossing the cell-gallery at that part in its whole width, and consequently terminating in a line with the balustrade; the door being hung on at the side nearest to the cells, and opening from the landing-place, behind which runs the staircase upon the cell-gallery, and not from the cell-gallery upon the landing-place. In this way, partly by the wall, partly by the mode of opening, the view is pretty effectually cut off, as between the prisoners on the staircase and those within the cells.*

11. In making the staircases at all wider than the galleries, there would be no use:—1. There can never be any occasion for conveying by the former anything that cannot pass along the latter. 2. There is not even so much occasion for width in the staircase as in the galleries, since anything that could not be conveyed by the staircases might be hoisted up into the galleries by the crane. 3. Anything that required greater width, might be conveyed, either by the lodge staircase or through the central aperture, to the inspection-gallery on that floor, and to the two higher floors by the chapel-visitors’ staircases,—of which presently.


As to the keepers, inspectors, or taskmasters, there are three sets of staircases, of which they may have the use. The two first are the two sets of prisoners’ staircases just mentioned: the other set is that composed of the lodge staircase on the lower floor of the inspection-tower, and the chapel-visitors’ staircases in the two upper ones.

In addition, however, to the prisoners’ staircases, there will be required for the inspectors, from their galleries, short passages or staircases of communication, traversing the intermediate area. These I call the traversing or inspectors’ staircases.

To make the inspector’s staircase, I proceed in this manner. At the side of the landing-place opposite to that in which I have placed the door, I carry the cellular partition-wall all the way up, not only across the region of the cell-galleries, but also across the intermediate area, so as to join the inspection-gallery. By this means, a solid opaque back is given to these staircases in every story; and a complete separation is made between the several piles of cells with their staircases, and the remainder of the dead-part. Parallel to this, and between this and the pile of staircase-doors, at the distance of about four feet. I place a thin partition all the way up, with blinded spying-holes running in the line level with the inspector’s eye.

Between the two, run two narrow flights of steps, no more than about two feet wide each: by that which is nearest the thick partition, the inspector descends to that part of the prisoners’ staircase which is upon a level with the inferior one of his two stories of cells; by the other, he ascends to that which is upon a level with the superior one: or vice versâ. Each flight of steps, upon its gaining the landing-place, is crossed by a grated door of equal width, made in the grating which on that site forms a boundary to the landing-place from top to bottom, and opening upon the landing-place. This door, which is kept constantly locked, the key being in the custody of the inspector, serves, when shut, to keep the prisoners from straggling out of their staircase over the inspector’s staircases, to pry into the inspection-galleries. Being of open work, it affords the prisoners in their staircase a sight, it is true, of an inspector when crossing over to them on his staircase. But this transient exposure is no derogation to his omnipresence. To all who see him, he is present: nor is he absent with regard Edition: current; Page: [89] to those who do not see him; since from his not being present where they can see him, viz. on his staircase, it does not follow but that he may be present at some other part of his station, from whence he may be viewing him, while he is himself invisible.

It is needless to dwell very particularly on the apertures which for the sake of ventilation may be made here and there in both these traversing partitions, as likewise in the interior transverse boundary of the staircase, from whence the thicker of those partitions is continued: the use of them is to give room for currents of air to pass in a horizontal direction, as well as in the perpendicular one.

Those which might be accessible to the prisoners, viz. those made in the partitionwall of the prisoners’ staircase, are in dimensions not big enough to give passage to the body of a man or boy: situated out of the reach of the prisoners, they are closed by opening or sliding windows or shutters, capable of being opened and shut by a pole, to which the inspector has access, and the prisoners not without his leave.


To the staircase for company resorting to the chapel, I allot the middle one of the five piles of cells in the dead-part. Of the lower-most of these half, the height is occupied by the upper part of the diametrical passage through the sunk story. The passage to this staircase, twenty feet in length, taking that for the depth of the projecting front, will be right over the above-mentioned diametrical one. To reach this elevation, there will be an ascent of 4½ from the ground, to be performed by seven or eight steps.* To light it, which can only be done from above, will require the sacrifice of the centre one of the five uppermost cells, the four others of which are destined for the infirmary. The reasons for using iron not applying here, I make this staircase of stone. Being in use only on Sundays for promiscuous company, and then for no more than four or five hours of that day, it may serve for the officers’ apartment on each side: on which account, the expense of stone need the less be grudged.

By two passages, one over another, and crossing the intermediate area, it will distribute the different companies to their respective seats through the channel of the inspection-galleries. Of these passages, the lower one is upon a level with the area of the chapel; the upper one, upon a level with the uppermost inspection-gallery. The area of the chapel being 4½ feet below the level of the middlemost inspection-gallery behind it, the passage divides itself into three. The central part reaches the chapel-area without change of level, by a trench cut through the inspection-gallery to that depth: on each side of it is a flight of steps, seven or eight in number, by which such of the company as propose to sit in the lowermost of the two chapel-galleries will be conveyed through the inspection-gallery of that story to that elevation. The uppermost passage, having no area to lead to, will be uniformly on an elevation with the inspection-gallery and chapel-gallery, to which alone it leads. The inspection-galleries, encircling all round the chapel-galleries to which they are respectively attached, will discharge the company through doors made in any number of places that convenience may point out. The company who go to the area of the chapel will have an ascent of 13½ feet to make, to reach their destination; those who go to the lower gallery, 18 feet; those who go to the upper, 36 feet.

With the company’s staircase and the passages attached to it, it may be objected that the prisoners’ galleries and staircases possess an indirect communication. But so must every part of every prison, with every other, and with the exit. In the present instance, this communication is not such as can be productive of the smallest inconvenience, either in the way of danger of escape, or in the way of offensive vicinity with regard to the company. To make use of the company’s galleries in the way of escape, prisoners must first have forced their way into one of the inspection-galleries. How is this to be effected? And at night, should they, after having forced the grating of their cells, attempt to force the door that opens from their straircase into the inspection-gallery, there they find the inspector, whose bed is stationed close to that door, that he may be in constant readiness to receive them. As to vicinity, the nearest part of the prisoners’ staircases will be at twelve feet distance; nor will they be any of them on any part of those staircases at the time: the doors that open into them from the cell-galleries will then be locked. As to view, the prisoner’s staircases are indeed open; but this only in front, and the company’s staircases and passages are closed: nor will they see anything of the prisoners, till, from their seats in the chapel, they behold them at a distance on the other side of the intermediate area, ranged in order in their cells.

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Under the name of galleries have been mentioned—1. The prisoners’, or cell-galleries; 2. The inspection-galleries; 3. The chapel-galleries. It is only the first that come under the head of communications. The two others have been spoken of already.

Of the cell-galleries little need be said. Attached to the several stories of cells, they hang over one another, and over the grated passage, which but for its grating would form a part of the intermediate area. I give them four feet in width, with balustrades of about 3½ feet high. These fences should in height be of more than half that of a man, not only to prevent his falling over unawares, but lest a desperate prisoner should, by a mere push, have it in his power to throw over a keeper or fellow-prisoner: more than the height necessary to afford that security is superfluous, and it tends to reduce the size of the packages capable of being hoisted up from the intermediate area into the cells.

I make them of bars rather than solid work, for the sake of ventilation, and of iron rather than wood, for the sake of strength and durability.

Underneath the galleries runs the passage called the grated passage, of the same width with those galleries, but on a level with the intermediate area below, from which it is separated by a grating also of iron, and reaching from within the thickness of a man (or rather of a boy) of the floor of that area, to within the same thickness of the under surface of the lowermost cell-gallery under which it runs. Into this the prisoners are received upon their landing from the lowest staircase, instead of being turned loose into the intermediate area, where they would have unlimited access to the under-warehouses, and by introducing themselves immediately under the inspection-galleries, station themselves out of the reach of the inspector’s eye.

Through this grated passage there must be doors, which may be of the same materials, to give access to servants, or prisoners employed as servants, to the fireplaces, and other offices under the cells. On each side of the diametrical passage there must be at least one pair of such doors, and there may be any greater number that convenience may require.

The form of the balustrades is not altogether a matter of indifference. On account of cheapness and transparency, the upright bars should be as few and as slender as the regard due to strength will allow. On account of safe custody, the form should be such, in every part, as to preclude a prisoner from taking a spring from them, so as to jump upon the roof of any of the inspection-galleries which, in a horizontal line, will in the nearest part be at not more than eight feet distance. On this account, the upright bars, instead of finding separate horizontal bars at bottom to meet them and afford them support in a line exactly under them, are inflected towards the bottom; and the perpendicular part and the horizontal being both in one piece, the former receives sufficient support from the latter, and the first transverse piece that presents itself capable of affording a man a treading place to spring form, runs two or three inches within a perpendicular let fall from the rail. Prevented in this way from rising to an upright posture by the overhanging rail, it would be impossible for the most active jumper to take the smallest spring; he would tumble directly down like a dead-weight. Such a configuration may often be seen in balconies, though given without any such view. On the same account, the rail, instead of being flat, should be brought to an edge, in such manner that the section of it shall exhibit a triangle, either equal-legged or right-angled; and if right-angled, with the right angle within side, so that the side opposite the right angle may form a slope too steep to spring from.

These precautions, which would neither of them cost any thing, seem abundantly sufficient: if not, there are a variety of ways in which the deficiency might be effectually made up; though perhaps not without some little inconvenience or expense.*


The only ones that need any very particular notice are the folding-doors that form the grating to the cells. These folding-doors open outwards: 1. Because by this means they may be made so as, when unlocked, to lift off the hinges, in order to give admittance to machines and bulky packages; and this, as I am assured by my professional guide, without prejudice to the security they afford: 2. Because the opening of them inwards would be productive of continual embarrassment, unless within each cell a space, equal to that required for one of the leaves to turn in, were left vacant and of no use. The two leaves I make unequal: the lesser something less than 4 feet, the width of the gallery; the larger will of course take the rest of the space, viz. about 6 feet. The lesser is the only one Edition: current; Page: [91] I design to open on ordinary occasions: were it equal to the other, that is, were it about 5 feet, its excess of length, when open, beyond 4 feet (the width of the gallery into which it opens) would prevent its opening to an angle so great as a right angle; whereby the passage it would afford to bulky packages would be proportionally narrowed.

As to locks, those contrived by the Rev. Mr. Ferryman, for the late Mr. Blackburn, and by him made use of in the construction of the Gloucester gaol, I trust to, upon the report of that ingenious architect, as incapable of being picked: as such, if they are not dearer than ordinary ones in a proportion worth regarding, they will of course demand the preference. But the inspection principle, without detracting anything from the ingenuity of the invention, takes much from the necessity of that and many other prison contrivances. For in a Panopticon, what can be the necessity of curious locks? what are the prisoners to pick them with? by what means are they to come at any sort of pick-lock tools, or any other forbidden implements? And supposing the locks of these doors picked, and the locks of more than one other set of doors besides, what is the operator the better for it? Lock-picking is an operation that requires time and experiment, and liberty to work at it unobserved. What prisoner picks locks before a keeper’s face?

An appendage which will have its use in the instance of every door to which the prisoners have access, is a warning-bell attached to it in such a manner as to ring of itself upon every opening of the door. The door should likewise be made to shut to of itself, for instance, by the common contrivance of a weight with a line passing over a pulley. By the former of these implements, the attention of the inspector is drawn upon the prisoner; by the latter, the prisoners are prevented from rendering the bell useless by leaving the door open by design or negligence.


On the sunk story, right through the centre of the building, and leading from the approach through the centre of the projecting front, runs the only thorough passage, called the diametrical passage. It serves for the following purposes:—

1. Admitting the officers of the house and visitors into the inspector’s lodge; 2. Admitting machines and bulky packages into the annular area, from whence they may be either conveyed into the store-rooms on that floor, or by pulleys or cranes hoisted up into the store-rooms in the roof over the cells.

Lengths of the Diametrical Passage.
From the door in the projecting front, to the circumference of the exterior circle of the cellular part—say 20
From the circumference of the great circle to the exterior circle of the intermediate area, viz. that part of it over which run the cell-galleries, 17
N.B.—Here it meets the light from the sky-light that crowns the intermediate area.
From the outer to the inner circumference of the intermediate area, 11
From the inner circumference of the intermediate area to the circumference of the central aperture in this story, 26
N.B.—Here it again receives the light in like manner from above.
From this anterior part of the circumference to the posterior part, 12
From the posterior part of the circumference o the central area, to the inner circumference of the intermediate area on the other posterior side, 26
N.B.—Here it again receives the light.
From thence to the interior circle of the grated passage under the cell-galleries on that side, 7

Here it is cut into three, in a manner that will be described in speaking of the exit. On the left hand of the diametrical passage is a staircase leading to the inspector’s lodge.

On the details of this staircase, with regard to situation, dimensions, and form, it is neither easy nor necessary at this stage of the design to make a fixed decision. They are left very much at large by the governing principle, and convenience on this head will depend in good measure on local circumstances, such as the form and dimensions of the under warehouse against which the staircase will abut, and the form and dimensions of the officers’ apartments on that side, in or near the projecting front.

The form which in a general view appears most advantageous, is that of a straight and simple flight of steps without return or curvature. The convenience of a return is, that half the room is saved; the inconvenience of it is, that the space a man has to traverse, in order to reach a given point, is augmented to the amount of what would be the whole length of the staircase if laid out in a right line. The point, however, at which it terminates and opens into the lodge, should at least not go much beyond the central point of that apartment, lest, through ignorance or design, access should be gained to the inspection-gallery, and thence to the cells, by visitors to whom such privileges might not be thought fit to be allowed.

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Regularity would require, but convenience does hardly, that on the right hand of the passage there should be a similar staircase.*

At the line where it falls into the anterior part of the central area, the diametrical passage is crossed by a pair of folding-gates of open iron-work, occupying its whole width. These gates prevent promiscuous visitors from advancing any farther, and straggling either into the warehouse on each side, or the posterior part of the intermediate area.

Before it reaches this transverse gate, it receives no side doors on either side. Such doors, if opening into the anterior part of the intermediate area, would require porters to guard them; if into the warehouse, viz. the space between the intermediate and central area, they would render it less safe to make use of the labour of the prisoners in that part of the building.

The pavement of the diametrical passage being upon a level with that of the annular area, and the exterior surface of the crown of the arch level with the floor of the lowermost inspection-gallery and that of the inspection-lodge, the height of this passage will be in the clear about 11 feet, and including the thickness of the arch, 12 feet.

In the floor of the lodge the central aperture will in the day be in general left open, in order to give light to the central area. At bed-time, it might either be closed for warmth, or left open for security; in order to expose to the view and offensive force of a keeper lying with a light in the lodge, any prisoner or prisoners, who, contrary to all human probability, should have made such progress in a project of escape, as to find themselves in a situation to make an attempt upon the transverse gate.

At the foot of the staircase to the lodge might be a door, the opening of which should ring a warning-bell, to advertise the inspector of the approach of visitors as he is sitting in his lodge. In consideration of this security, added to that of the porter stationed at the entrance into the approach, the front door, opening from the approach into the diametrical passage, need not be locked; nor will any such person as a turnkey, or porter to the house, be necessary. At the foot of the staircase, visitors might be stopped from proceeding farther without ringing a bell and obtaining the assistance of the inspector in the lodge, which by the help of known contrivances he might afford without stirring from his seat.

To protect the lodge, when thus thrown open, from the cold blasts of a thorough passage, it will probably be thought necessary to add to the grated gates above mentioned, a pair of close folding doors; as likewise a similar pair of doors on the opposite or posterior side of the central area. With this defence from cold, there need be the less scruple about stationing a keeper to sleep in the lodge, with the central aperture open in the floor.


The exit into the yards is one of the nicest parts of the anatomy of the prison.

The diametrical passage, when arrived at the anterior circumference of the farther side of the annular area, is absorbed by it: but recommencing at the posterior circumference, is there cut into three branches: a middle one, being a line of communication joining without discontinuance the inspection-gallery over-head to the watch-house, or look-out, that serves for the inspection of the yards; and two lateral ones, one on the male, and the other on the female side. Taking their common departure from the grating of the annular grated passage, they run on in parallelism, like a nerve, an artery, and a vein.

The nerve which conveys to the most distant extremity of this artificial body the allvivifying influence of the inspection principle—the line of communication, I mean—at its origin in the inspection-gallery, preserves its level for some space; that is, so long as it hangs over the intermediate area, and till it reaches the region of the cell-gallery. While it does so, I call it the inspector’s bridge: and, to distinguish it from a similar pass on the outside of the building, the inspector’s inner bridge. At that line, in order to fall within the width of the grated passage, and get from thence into the arch that leads to the outside of the building, it makes a sudden drop. Four feet being the whole width, two of them are allowed to form the slope at the descent, Edition: current; Page: [93] the other two are allotted to give room for the inspector at the instant after his landing, and before any part of his body is within the arch.* The space occupied by the first two of these four feet I call the inspector’s drop: that occupied by the other two, the inspector’s landing-place. Under the lowermost story of the prisoner’s cells, all round, runs a sunk story of cells, composed of arches of the same width and depth, but wanting a foot and a half of the height of those which compose the cells. That part of the line of communication which runs through and occupies one of these subterraneous arches, I call the straits. The whole width I divide into three passages: the middle one, being a continuation of the inspector’s landing place, I call the inspector’s straits. The two others, one on each side of the inspector’s straits, receive the prisoners, and conduct them through the arch from the grated passage: these I call the prisoner’s straits. The floor of the inspector’s straits I make as much higher as the height of the arch will admit, above the floor of the prisoner’s straits on each side: the reason is, that he may have the more commanding view of them, as he and they go out together. As a farther help, their floor may drop a step just before their arrival at this pass; and from thence it may sink a little further by a very gentle slope: and the advantage would be increased by giving an arched form to the partition on the side of the prisoners on either hand, the curve bending from his side towards theirs. In this way, the advantage given him may amount to about 14 inches, a superiority which, taking into account the differences of height between man and man, seems to be as much as can be requisite. This superiority will be thus made out:—

f. in.
Distance from the floor of the cell above (thickness of the arch included) to the floor of the grated passage beneath, 7 6
Fall of the latter floor by a step, 0 10
Total depth of the floor on which the prisoners tread, below the floor of the cell above, 8 4
Thickness of the above arch, 1 0
Space allowed in height for the inspector’s passage, 6 1
Distance of the platform he walks upon below the floor overhead, 7 1
Distance of the floor the prisoners walk upon below the same level, as before, 8 4
Substract the inspector’s distance, 7 1
Remains the height of the inspector’s foot above that of the prisoners, 1 2

In point of width, the line of communication, at its origin from the inspection-gallery, and before it reaches the entrance of the arch, has no particular limitation: but at that pass, which I call the straits, it must conform to the dimensions which the width of the arch allows, after reservation of a sufficient space for the prisoners on each side. If anything like difficulty occur anywhere, it must be at the very entrance into the arch, since from that pass it widens gradually to the exit. Ought the width of all three passages to be alike? or should any, and which, have the advantage in this respect over the other two? The occasions on which inspectors will have to pass one another will occur but rarely: but in the instance of the prisoners, these occasions will be still more unfrequent. On week days, twice a-day each prisoner descends to the airing-wheel: but should they descend even in pairs, or three’s, they would not cross one another at all; for one does not quit the wheel till another has arrived there. Neither on Sundays is there any occasion for them to cross, at least at this particular spot: and all their motions may be predetermined and provided for. Restraint is suitable to their condition; freedom to that of the inspector. A confined space will have the further use of cramping any exertions a prisoner might be disposed to use, in the view of bursting in upon an inspector when engaged in so narrow a pass, with a partition between them of so little thickness.

Here follows, then, an example of the dimensions, in point of width, that might be given to these passages:—

At the entrance into the Arch. At the exit from the Arch.
f. in. f. in.
Clear width of the space for the male prisoners’ passage, on the right hand side of the inspector’s passage, 2 6 4 2
Thickness of the partition of the inspector’s passage, 0 7 0 7
Clear width of the inspector’s passage, 3 10 4 0
Thickness of the partition of the inspector’s passage on the female side, 0 7 0 7
Clear width of the female prisoners’ passage, 2 6 4 2
10 0 13 6

Upon this view, the widths capable of being allowed are so much beyond what is absolutely necessary, as to leave a considerable latitude of choice. The partitions may Edition: current; Page: [94] accordingly be made more or less thick, according to the nature of the materials. When the inspector’s passage, having gained the region of the yards, assumes the name of the covered way, the partitions which bound it will naturally require the strength and thickness of a wall; while the prisoners’ passages, having no longer any part of the building to bound them, will require each of them a wall on purpose, as will be seen under the head of Outlets.

To give the inspector his possible view of the prisoners as they pass, there must, of course, be sight-holes. They may be closed with glasses. They ought to be conical; narrower on the inspector’s side than on the prisoners’ side. Though these holes should on the different sides be on the same level, they will not yield to the eye of the prisoner the thorough light: for they are considerably above his eye, and no line drawn towards his eye, from any hole on the one side, would pass through any hole on the other: another advantage in sinking the floor of the prisoners’ passage below the level of the inspector’s passage. The wall of this passage, in the same manner as those of the inspection-gallery of which it is the continuance, should for the same reason be painted black: those of the prisoners’ passages, for the opposite reason, kept as white and as glossy as possible.

The least convenient part of the whole is the inspector’s drop.*

But out of this very inconvenience I extract a superior advantage. The descent is by a sort of ladder, deviating so little from the perpendicular as to oblige a man, in order to find footing as he goes down, to turn his face to instead of from the steps: in so doing, he gets, and is obliged to get, a view of the diametrical passage and the warehouse on each side; such as it would have been difficult to have given him by any other means. A rope or bar to hold by on each side saves him from all danger, and even from all inconvenience, beyond that of being obliged to turn himself half round.

A few inches below the level of the ceiling of the diametrical passage, is a sight-hole in the partition that forms a back to the steps: through this, as he descends with his face to the ladder, he gains a full view of that passage: and on each hand another sight-hole, through which he gains a view equally full, through correspondent apertures, of the inside of the warehouse on each side. By this means, the labour of the prisoners may be made use of with the less scruple in all those stations, without the necessity of stationing along with them in each place an inspector on purpose, and yet without departing in this, any more than in any other instance, from the principle of omnipresence.

As to the relative width to be given to this line of communication in its different parts, it admits of considerable latitude. The most natural course is to give it the same width throughout. In its whole width, whatever that be, it blocks up, not only the whole of the opposite cell of the first story of cells, but even a part of the height of the second story: filling up the place of the cell-gallery in both instances. To give a passage round from the cell-gallery on one side to the cell-gallery on the other, requires some little contrivances, with relation to which it is not necessary to be either very particular or very determinate. In the upper one of the two stories, the obstruction may be obviated, partly by lowering the ceiling of the line of communication in that spot; partly by giving a step or two from the cell-gallery on each side, to carry the passenger in that spot across and over the obstruction: in the lower one of the two stories, by cutting out of the cell, all round the obstruction, a space sufficient to make a passage of equal width with the cell-gallery, viz. four feet.

It is scarce necessary to observe, that in order to maintain in this part the limitation set to the prisoners’ path, and to prevent them from straggling into the intermediate area, or clambering up the line of communication, so as to get at top of the inspection-gallery, or force their way in at the windows, the grating of the annular grated passage must, in its form, be governed by the configuration of the parts in question, and apply itself to them with particular care: and where any part of the line of communication is within reach of the prisoners, either walking in their passage or abiding in their cells, it should be of materials equally impregnable.


All round the polygonal part of the building, runs an annular trench, which may be called the Exterior Annular Well, and its floor the Exterior Annular Area. In width I make it 12 feet; less than that not being sufficient to afford length enough to the line of communication in that part between the inside of the building and the look-out in the yards. Edition: current; Page: [95] The floor, for the sake of carrying off the water, is 8 inches lower than the floor of the prisoners’ passage through the building, which, as mentioned in speaking of the exit, is itself 10 inches below that of the interior annular well.*

It is bounded all round by a wall, which, after serving for the mere support of the earth from the area below to the surface of the ground above, is crowned by a parapet, reaching about 4 feet above that surface. This 4 feet added to the 7½ feet, and the 1½ feet, i. e. to the 9 feet, makes 13 feet, the height which a prisoner who had let himself down into the well would have to climb up before he could gain the yards.

It is filled up and cut through in one part only, viz. at and by the line of communication above mentioned, running in the same direction with the diametrical passage.

The uses of it are as follow:—

1. To give light and air to the sunken story under the cells.

2. To prevent prisoners from escaping, upon the supposition of their having let themselves down from the windows. It answers in this point of view the purpose of a ditch in fortification on the outside of the building, in the same manner as the intermediate well that runs parallel to it in the inside.

3. To reduce the ascent which the chapel-visitors have to perform in order to gain the chapel, and to afford a place for a kitchen and other such offices to the governor’s house, without sacrificing a ground-floor to that purpose, and lodging him and his family at an inconvenient height.

4 To afford all round a commodious place for cellaring, capable of being enlarged indefinitely as occasion may arise.

Were there no such trench cut on the outside, what would be the Consequence?—Either—

1. The building remaining in all other particulars the same, the ground must be brought close to it all round;—or,

2. The story under the cells must be omitted altogether, as well in the cellular part as in the inspection-tower;—or,

3. That story must be raised above ground, and the whole building made so much higher.

In all three cases, the 2d and 4th of the above advantages would be lost. A prisoner who had let himself down from any of the windows would find nothing capable of preventing him from going on to the exterior wall: the convenience of cellaring would be lost: and, the floor of the lowest story of cells being even with the ground, there would be nothing to hinder the prisoners in the yards from holding promiseuous converse with the prisoners on that story of the cells.

In the first case, too, the space under the cells would be reduced to the condition of mere cellaring: not fit for any person to abide in, or pay frequent visits to, on account of the absolute want of free air; debarred in a great degree from the light, of which the intermediate well would at that depth afford but a very scanty measure. The warehouses under the lodge would likewise suffer in point of ventilation, by being deprived of the draught which might be occasionally made by throwing open the windows of the rooms under the cells, at the same time with the doors opening from them into the intermediate area.

In the second case, there would be no place for lighting fires under the cells; no place for warehouses anywhere; no means of conveying the prisoners into the yards, without giving them the faculty of promiscuous intercourse, by carrying them in their passage to and from their staircases abreast of every cell in the lowermost story of cells. There would be no diametrical passage; no means of conveying bulky articles into the cells and store-rooms overhead, through the intermediate area; and that most indispensable of all apartments—that vital part of the whole establishment—the inspector’s lodge, would be cut to pieces and destroyed.

In the third case, which is the least unfavourable one, the second and fourth, of the above advantages, as already mentioned, would be sacrificed, as also the third: 8 feet would be added to an ascent already greater than could be wished; and no advantage worth mentioning would be gained.


Being informed, that in a building of this height, and consequently of this thickness, glass would not cost more than wall, my instructions to the architect were, Give me as much window as possible; provided they are not brought down so low as to render it too Edition: current; Page: [96] cold. In consequence, I have two windows in each cell: each 4 feet wide and 5 feet high.

It was Mr. Howard that first conceived the prevailing antipathy to glass: it admits prospect, and it excludes air. Prospects seduce the indolent from their work: air is necessary to life. On any other than the Panoptican plan, the antipathy may have some reason on its side: on this plan, it would have none. Blinds there are of different sorts which would admit air, without admitting prospect: glazed sashes when open will admit air. But blinds, as soon as the inspector’s back was turned, would be put aside or destroyed; and windows would be shut: for the most ignorant feel the coldness of fresh air, and the learned only understand the necessity of it to health and life. True: but in a Panopticon the inspector’s back is never turned. In this point, as in others, who will offend, where concealment is impossible?

In Mr. Howard’s plan, observe what is paid for shutting out prospects. The tall must be kept from idling as well as the short; and a tall man may make himself still taller by mounting on his bed, or standing on tiptoe. Therefore, windows must not begin lower than seven feet from the floor. But above this seven feet there must be a moderate space for a hole in the wall called a window: partly for this reason, and partly to make sure of sufficient height of ceiling, a cell must be at least ten feet high in the inside. Such accordingly is the construction, and such the height, of the cells at Wymondham.*

To what climate is this suited? To the East or West-Indies; perhaps to some part of Italy; certainly not to any part of our three kingdoms. To what employments? To laborious employments—to employments that are to be carried on out of doors; to few that in such a place can be carried on within doors—to few indeed that can be termed sedentary ones. What weaver, what spinner, what shoemaker, what tailor, what coachmaker, can work with drenched or frozen hands?

To mitigate the cold, and to exclude snow and rain, Mr. Howard allows a wooden shutter. But to do this, such a shutter must exclude light. What is the wretched solitary to do then? creep into his bed, or sit down and pine in forced and useless indolence.

Mr. Howard, with all this, allows no firing. One would think from him there were no winter.

The thicker walls are, and the higher above the floor holes in the wall instead of windows are, the better they serve to keep out cold and rain: hence another reason for piling bricks upon bricks, and giving rooms in prisons the height of those in palaces.

In rooms that have no light, that is, not three or four feet above the eye, weaving can scarcely be carried on: from such rooms, that profitable employment, that quiet employment, in other respects so well suited to an establishment of this kind, is therefore in all its infinity of branches peremptorily excluded. For this, therefore, among other reasons, there must be other places for working in. Accordingly, at Wymondham, for 50 feet 4 by 14:8 of cells, you have on one part 20:6 by 10 feet of work-room; and in another part, a work-room of the same dimensions for only 29 feet 4 by 14 feet 8 of cells.

At Wymondham, these holes are guarded each of them, inside and out, by a double grating: a single one under the eye of an inspector is enough for me. Were a prisoner to elude this eye (though how he is even by night to elude the eye of a watchman, constantly patroling, I do not know,) and get through this grating (though how a man is to force iron bars without tools, I am equally at a loss to conceive,) where will he find himself? In the yards? No, but in a well, in which he has a wall of 13 feet high to climb, as we shall see, ere he can reach the yards. And were he over this wall, where would he be then? In a space inclosed by another high wall, with three centinels in an inclosed walk, patrolling on the other side.

So far from there being any need of double gratings, the single grating need not have cross bars. It is not necessary it should be capable of resisting either long-continued attempts, or violent ones.

If anywhere, in any particular pile of cells, any unguarded circumstance in the construction afforded the means of descent otherwise than by climbing down instead of dropping, advantage could not be taken of the weakness from any other pile in the circuit: in the polygonal form, the projecting angles rendering Edition: current; Page: [97] it impossible to climb horizontally on the outside, from a window of any cell to any window of the cell contiguous on either side.

If fastened up in two places on each side, and in the middle at top and bottom, the gratings may want about 7 inches of reaching the brick work at bottom, and about ten inches of reaching that at top; especially if they terminate at top and bottom, not in a horizontal bar, but in a row of perpendicular spikes: by this means, little more than 3½ feet in height of grating will serve for a window 5 feet in height; and in width little more than 2½ feet of grating will serve for 4 feet.

Among the offenders who are liable to be consigned to these scenes of punishment, it is but too common to see boys of little more than ten years of age. A thin person, boy or man, can generally get his body through, wherever he can pass his head; that is, if not hindered by the breadth of his body, he will not be by the thickness. But a person cannot press against the point of a spike, as he could against a bar. From these data, gratings might be formed, requiring a much less quantity of materials than what is commonly employed, yet of sufficient strength for the present purpose.

Arched Work—Much Iron—Plaster Floors.

The peculiarities of the present plan are not confined to the head of construction: they extend in some degree to the materials. The abundant use made of iron will hardly fail to be observed.

In preferring brick or stone-work to wood, and in consequence arches to other partitions, it does no more than follow the plans already in vogue. Such a mode of construction is more particularly necessary in a Panopticon, than in a building of perhaps any other form. The circumstance that renders it so peculiarly favourable to ventilation, renders it of course equally exposed, if made of combustible materials, to accidents from fire. Were a fire to begin anywhere, especially towards the centre, it would spread all round—the wind would pour in from all quarters—the whole would be presently in a blaze—and the prisoners, being locked up in their cells, and even were their cells open, deprived of all exit except through one or two narrow passages, would be burnt or suffocated before any assistance could be applied.

This at least would be the case were it not for the care taken to keep accumulated a large fund of water in the cistern at the top of the building, ready to be poured in whenever and wherever there may be occasion for it. But notwithstanding this assistance, and the great security against all such accidents afforded by the circumstance of unremitted inspection, as a building of this sort is designed for duration, and the difference in point of expense need not be considerable, it seems best to be on the safe side.*

The great use here proposed to be made of iron has been made on different occasions with a view to different advantages: sometimes to admit air, sometimes to save room, sometime for the sake of strengh. In all instances, it has the advantage of being peculiarly impregnable to putrid contagion—even plaster, brick, and stone, not being in this respect altogether above reproach. Hence the great stress laid on frequent white-washing, wherever any of the three latter materials are employed.

It is partly on account of the admission it gives to air, that I prefer it for both the prisoners’ staircases, and for all their galleries. In arched galleries of brick or stone, besides that they would take up room, the air might be apt to stagnate. Substituting open-work to such close materials, adds in effect so much in width to the annular well. The interstices between the bars, instead of forming an obstruction to a current of air, serve rather to accelerate it.

It was the consideration of the little room taken up by this material, that suggested it to me as peculiarly well adapted to the purpose of affording supports to the chapel. Brick pillars, of the thickness necessary to support so lofty a building, would afford a very material obstruction to the voice in its passage from the minister to the prisoners, when stationed in their cells, or in the galleries before their cells. It is on the same consideration, likewise, that I propose to make considerable use of it in the construction of the inspection-galleries. It is to obtain both these advantages, that I make use of no other material for one entire boundary (viz. the interior one opposite the windows) of every cell.

To obtain that sort of strength which consists in inflexibility, with less unwieldiness, and at a less expense of materials, it occurred to me to make the pillars hollow. Being of iron, they may thus be made not only to take up beyond comparison less room, but even to possess greater strength, even when hollowed to such a degree as not to exceed brick Edition: current; Page: [98] or stone in weight. It occurred to me, that iron was cast in large masses to serve for water-pipes. Upon inquiry at a great foundery where it is cast for such purposes, I learnt that in that manufactory it could be cast hollow for a length of 12 feet, but no more. Upon consulting with my professional adviser, I was informed that that length could be made to suffice; and it occurred to him, that of the eight supports which would be a sufficient number for such a building, some might be made to answer the purpose of water-pipes for conveying the water from the roof; and to me, that others of them might be made to serve for chimneys—articles for which it might otherwise be not altogether easy, in a building of so peculiar a construction, to find a convenient place.

In point of economy, I hope to find this useful material not more expensive, but rather less so, than the quantity of stone or brick-work that would be requisite to answer the same purpose;* since cast-iron, and, in most instances, even that not of the finest quality, would answer as well as hammered, with half the expense.

It is at the recommendation of the same intelligent artist that I adopt those called stucco or plaster floors, in preference to any other; and this for a variety of reasons:—

1. They are incombustible. In this respect they have the advantage of wooden floors.

2. They take up very little room. The thickness of 1½ inch over the brick-work at the crown is sufficient. In this point they have the advantage over all other floors, and most of all over wood, which, besides boards, require joists to lay them on.

3. They are uniform, without crevices or interstices. In this respect they have also the advantage over all other floors: in the highest degree over brick, then over wood, and even over stone. The inconvenience of crevices and interstices, as is well remarked by Mr. Howard, is to harbour dirt, and occasionally putrescent matter, capable of fouling the air, and affording ill scents.

4. They are cheap: when thus thinly laid, much cheaper than wood, or stone, or even than any choice kind of brick, such as clinkers; and full as cheap as any tiling that would be proper for the purpose.

5. They are, it is true, liable to crack, especially on the first settling of the building. On the other hand, if a crack takes place, they are easily and effectually repaired.

Mr. Howard lays great stress on the unwholesomeness of such floors as, by their roughness, such as unplaned boards, or by numerous and wide interstices, are apt to harbour putrescent matter: but I know not that he anywhere recommends plaster floors, which are freer than any ordinary floors from that inconvenience.


Are airing-yards to be looked upon as a necessary appendage to the building? If so, what extent ought to be given to them? Ought any, and what, divisions to be made in them, corresponding to so many divisions among the prisoners? In what manner may the influence of the inspection principle be extended to them to the best advantage?—The answers to these questions will depend partly upon the general plan of management in view, partly upon local circumstances.

Of these points, the first and third are considered under the head of management: and the result is, that airing-yards to be used on working-days are not essential to the establishment; but that for Sunday’s use they would be at least convenient: that if both sexes are admitted, one division, and consequently two separate yards, are indispensable: but that, as between prisoners of the same sex, the advantage to be gained by any further division seems hardly decided enough to warrant the expense

Whatever be the extent of the airing-ground, and whatever the number of divisions made in it, two erections must at any rate be made in it, in order to extend to these exterior appendages the all-vivifying influence of the commanding principle: 1. A look-out, or exterior inspection-lodge; 2. A line of communication for prisoners as well as inspectors, between this look-out and the building. Let the look-out, then, be considered as occupying the centre of a circle: of this circle, the line of communication forms one radius: from the same centre may be projected, as co-radii, walls in any number corresponding to the number of divisions pitched upon. See Plate III.

Edition: current; Page: [99]

In section 16 we left the line of communication at the spot at which, having cleared the building, it cuts across the external annular area. But at this spot it is considerably below the level of the ground in the yards through which it leads. The surface of the ground I suppose exactly on a level with the floor of the lowermost story of cells; which floor is 7:6 above the level of the intermediate area. The floor of the prisoners’ passages, being 10 inches below the level of that area, has 8:4 to rise before it comes to a level with the surface of the ground. That of the inspector’s passage, being five inches above the level of the same area, has consequently but 7:1 to rise before it comes to a level with the ground. But in the straits under the arch we gave the inspector the advantage in point of ground over the prisoners to the amount of 1:3; and for this advantage there is the same occasion in one part of the line of communication as in another. Adding, therefore, this rise to that of 7.1, which the floor of the inspector’s passage has to make in order to reach the level of the ground, we have 8:4, which is the same rise as that given to the prisoners’ passages. In this way the two floors preserve their parallelism during the whole of their course.

The particulars of this course may be thus made out:—

Prisoners’ Passage on each Side.
f. in.
Lengths—Exterior landing-place from the outside of the wall of the building to the commencement of the flight of steps which may be called the prisoners’ rising-stairs, 2 0
Prisoners’ emerging or rising-stairs, from the exterior landing-place to the prisoners’ bridge, 8 4
Prisoners’ bridge, from the prisoners’ rising-steps to the prisoners’ lanes, running parallel to the inspector’s covered-way, on the surface of the ground through the yards, 1 8

Underneath this flight of steps there is ample room left in the exterior annular area, as well for passing as for conveying goods. Before it has advanced in length to within four feet of the wall bounding the external area, it is more than six feet above the level of that area in that part; and at the surrounding wall, 9 feet.*

Inspector’s Passage between the Prisoners’ Passages.

Lengths—The same as above: the difference, which is only in point of level, being the same throughout, except that, in this passage, the flight of steps gaining the level to which they lead a little earlier than in the prisoners’ passage, the inspector’s bridge is a few inches longer than that of the prisoners’.

As to the floor of the prisoners’ rising-stairs, iron seems preferable, partly for the reasons which plead in general in favour of that material, partly on account of the small degree of thickness it requires. A wooden floor, or a brick floor supported upon an arch, might reduce the height above the floor of the exterior well to such a degree, as to make it necessary either to sink the floor of the well in that part still more, or to increase the width.

From their immersion out of the building, the three passages should be covered through the whole length of their course across the external area: that of the inspector, for the sake of obscurity, as well as for the sake of protection in bad weather: the two prisoners’ passages on each side, partly for the latter reason, but principally to cut off converse with the cells immediately above; for which reason they must also have a back reaching up all the way to the roof, so as to form a complete case.

When the prisoners have got the length of the lanes, or of the yards on each side, that is, at the least, near thirteen feet distance from the building, the interception of converse must, as it safely may, be trusted to the expedients employed for preventing those in the cells from looking out of their windows.

When the prisoners are a few feet advanced Edition: current; Page: [100] beyond the external area, they come to a door, which lets out upon the open ground such of them as belong to the two yards immediately contiguous on each side; since it would be useless to carry them on to the look-out, only to return them from thence into those yards. If there are no more divisions, no more yards, than these two, here the prisoners’ lanes terminate: if there are other yards, the lanes lead on till they terminate in the common central yard encompassing the look-out. The inspector, at any rate, has his door corresponding in situation to those just mentioned.

The central yard is a circular, or rather annular yard, encompassing the look-out: it serves for the discharge of the different classes of persons into their respective yards. That the individuals thus meant to be kept separate, may not have it in their power to straggle into the central yard and there meet, the entrances into their several yards are closed by gates or doors. Lest by a mutual approach towards their respective doors, they should obtain an opportunity of converse, the doors are placed, not in the circumference where the walls terminate, but in a set of short partition-walls joining the respective walls at a little distance from the ends—the intermediate portion answering the purposes of the protracted partitions spoken of in Letter II. in the first rough sketch of the building. A wall carried through the central yard, so as to join the look-out, perfects the separation between the male and female side.*

Near to the lateral doors opening from the covered way on each side, will be the situations for the airing-wheels: the numbers and exact situations of which will depend on local circumstances, and on the details of the plan of management pursued.

Hereabouts, too, might be the temperate baths, or bathing-basons, in which prisoners might at stated hours be obliged to wash themselves. By means of a slight awning, these baths might easily be concealed from the view of the prisoners in the building, while they were fully exposed to the observation of an inspector (or, according to the sex, an inspectrix) from the look-out.

Made long rather than circular, they would be the better adapted to the purpose of enforcing such a continuance in this state of discipline as should be deemed expedient. The prisoner being required to pass through from one end to the other, the number of traverses would thus afford as exact a measure as could be wished for, of the degree of discipline to which it were proposed to subject him.

Of the construction of the look-out, it seems hardly necessary to attempt a minute description. It should be polygonal, that form being cheaper than the circular. It might be an octagon; or, were the number of the airing-yards definitively fixed, the number of its sides might be the same with that of the yards, the walls of those divisions corresponding to the angles of the building. The fittest form and size for it would vary, according to local circumstances and the plan of management. The precautions relative to the thorough light need not here be so strict as in the prison; the greater distance rendering the figure, when obscured by blinds, more difficulty decernible: and the obscurity would be farther favoured by heightening the elevation. Experiment would easily show what sort and thickness of blind was best adapted to the purpose. If a strict inspection be required, the inspection-lantern already described would furnish a proper model: if a looser were deemed sufficient, a room employed as a work-shop in some sedentary trade, such as that of a tailor or shoemaker, might answer the purpose. In the capacity of apprentices or journeymen, he might have a few of the most orderly and trust-worthy among the prisoners. On working days, according to the plan of management here proposed, he would have nobody to inspect but such of the prisoners as were occupied for the time being in walking in the wheels: at that time he would of course front that way as he sat, and a casual glance stolen now and then from his work would answer every purpose. It is on Sundays, and on Sundays alone, that the prisoners in general would be at certain hours in the yards; and during those periods he might give his whole time and attention to the business of inspection, as it would then be his only occupation.

A male and female inspector might here also be stationed under one roof; whose inspection might, by the means explained in another place, be confined to their respective divisions. This junction and separation would of course be necessary, if a bath for females were placed near the walking-wheel on that side.

As to the degree of spaciousness to be given to the yards: in a general sketch which has no individual object in view, to specify dimensions will be seen to be impossible: principles, with illustrations, are the utmost that can be expected.

The objects to be attended to are, on the one side, room and ventilation; on the other, facility of inspection, and cheapness.

To estimate what may be necessary for room, it would be necessary first to settle the operations that are to be carried on in the yards, and the articles that are to be placed in them. Such are—

1. Airing-wheels: enough for supplying Edition: current; Page: [101] water to the building. See the Section on Airing.

2. Additional number of airing-wheels: in the whole, a wheel (say) to every 18 persons, or a proportionable number of double, treble, or quadruple wheels. I call the wheel a single, double, treble one, &c., with reference to the number of persons that are to be set to walk in it at once.

3. Machines to be kept in motion by such supernumerary airing-wheels.

4. Bathing-basons, one or two, according to the sexes.

5. Open schools, for Sunday’s schooling. See the Section on Schooling.

6. Walking or marching parade for Sunday’s exercise.

As to ventilation, though a distinct object, it is one that will hardly require a distinct provision. A space that affords room enough for the walking-parade can scarcely be deficient in point of airiness.

In ventilation, much depends upon the form of the ground. A declivity is in this point of view preferable by far to a dead flat. Place the building upon a rising ground: the wall, though a high one, may be but little or not at all higher than the surface of the ground is for for some distance round the building. So far as this is the case, so far the walls afford no obstruction at all to the current of air.

But even in a dead flat, there seems little necessity for bestowing any expense, in giving on this score any addition to the quantity of space absolutely necessary for the marching exercise above alluded to. Noxious trades out of the question, the only imaginable sources of contamination to which the air is exposed are putridity and respiration. Against the former, sufficient security may be afforded by the discipline of the prison:—no hogs—no poultry—no dunghill—no open drain—no stagnant water. As to mere respiration, it can scarcely be considered as capable of producing the effect to a degree worth notice, in a place ever so little wider than a water-well, if open to the sky.

As to facility of inspection, it is obvious, that the longer you make your airing-yard, the less distinct the view which the inspector will have of a prisoner at the further end of it. But the consideration of the expense will be sufficient to put a stop to the extension of this space, long enough before it has acquired length sufficient to prejudice the view.

In speaking of the expense, I do not mean that of the ground; for that, everywhere but in a town, will be of little moment: but the expense of the walls. I speak not merely of the surrounding wall; for, whatever be the height of that wall, the separation-walls, if there are any, cannot, as we shall see, have less. For the surrounding wall, according to the common plans at least, no ordinary height will suffice. But, by doubling the height of your wall, you much more than double the expense; since, if you would have it stand, you must give it a proportionable increase of thickness.

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The height of the separation-walls, I have said, must not be less than that of the surrounding wall: why? because if the former join on to the latter, they must be of the same height, or whatever height is given to the surrounding wall is so much thrown away. The attempt, if any, will of course be made at that part where the wall is lowest, which will serve as a step to any part which rises above it. Let a wall of twelve feet be joined by another of six feet: what is the obstacle to be surmounted? Not one wall of twelve feet, but two walls of six feet each. In fortification, the strength of the whole is to be computed, not from the strength of the strongest part, but from that of the weakest.

That the separation-walls should join the surrounding wall, is not indeed absolutely necessary; but whether the discontinuance could in any instance be made productive of any saving upon the whole, seems rather questionable. They may indeed be left short of it to a certain distance; the gap being supplied by a ditch, to which the persons meant to be separated on each side, may be prevented from approaching near enough for the purpose of converse, by a palisade, which may be a very slight one, being intended rather to mark transgression than to prevent it. In the day-time, there will be no possibility of approaching the ditch without detection, since it will be full in view: at night, there will be no motive, as there will be no persons on the other side to hold converse with—no prisoners in the yards. The ditch itself need not be continued far on each side of the wall: but the palisade must be continued all along; for if it were to terminate anywhere, it would be useless; and if it were to join the wall anywhere, it would take so much from the height. But the palisade, however slight, would cost something: and, what is more material, the space between that and the wall would be so much sacrificed; and the greater the space, the more extensive, and consequently more expensive, must be the wall. If, therefore, the surrounding wall should not rise much above the height, which for the purpose of preventing converse it would be necessary to give to the separation-walls, reducing the height of the latter by the help of the above expedient would not be worth the while.

But although no saving should be to be made in the height of the separation-walls, this is not the case with regard to such part of the general surrounding wall as is not accessible to the prisoners. What part that may be, will be immediately conceived by turning Edition: current; Page: [102] to the draught—See Plate III. In a line with the projecting front, continue the wall of the building on each side till it meets the two lateral of the four surrounding walls. To this wall, and to every wall that is behind it, must be given the same extra height, whatever that be. But to whatever walling there is before it, no greater height need be given, than if there were no such thing as a prison in the case.

Thus much, supposing the necessity of high walls and multiplied divisions. But if my ideas be just, both these articles of expense may be saved: the former, by the mechanical regularity of the airing discipline—See the Section on Airing:—the other, by the mode of guarding—See the next Section.*

The less the space is between the look-out and that one of the four surrounding walls that runs at right angles to the direction of the covered way, the nearer the two radii drawn towards the ends of such a wall will of course approach to parallelism. Direct them so as to terminate, not in the opposite wall, but in the two lateral walls that join it at right angles, and you have a long space, which, without departing from the inspection principle, might, if the employment presented any adequate advantage, be converted into a rope-yard.

Why introduce here the mention of rope-making? Is it that I myself have any predilection for that business? By no means: but others, it seems, have. My first care is on every occasion to point out that course which to me appears the best: my next is to make the best of whatever may chance to be preferred by those whose province it is to choose. To a gentleman to whose information and advice upon this occasion particular attention appears to have been paid by a committee of the House of Commons, to this gentleman it occurred that rope-making was of all trades one of the best adapted to the economy of a penitentiary-house. Of the many advantageous properties he attributes to it, a considerable number may, for aught I know, belong to it without dispute. But in one instance, at least, his zeal has got the better of his recollection. In rope-making, “no implement employed that can contribute to escapes!”—To a seaman, a rope is itself a staircase. Will any charitable hand take charge of it on the other side of the wall? over goes the rope one instant—the next, over goes the sailor. And can no other hand support itself by a rope? Was La Tude a seaman? Will the walls of a penitentiary-house be like the walls of the bastile? A vigorous arm will supply the place of practice. I speak but what I have seen.

Rope-making is, perhaps, of all trades known, that which takes up the greatest space. Elsewhere it requires no walls: but here it must not only have walls, but those, too, of an extra height and thickness.

With all this, should any rope-making legislator, or any legislator’s rope-making friend, make a point of it, in a Panopticon penitentiary-house, I would even admit a ropery. But in what character? as one of the most—no, but as one of the least promising of all trades. I would admit it—not certainly in the view of favouring, but rather of trying the strength and temper, and displaying the excellence of my instrument. I would take my razor and hack stones with it—not as thinking stone-cutting the fittest employment for razors in general, but in the way of bravado, to shew that my razor can perform what in ancient lore stands recorded as a miracle for razors. I would provide part of my prisoners with this gentleman’s ropes; I would arm another part with another gentleman’s sledge-hammers; a third part with another gentleman’s cast-iron; a fourth with a fourth gentleman’s saws, taking my chance for my felons serving their keepers as the children of Israel served the Ammonites.—For what? for security’s sake? No: but just as I would set up a sword-cutlery, or a gun-manufactory with a powder-mill attached to it, if any gentleman would show me such a measure of extra profit attached to those trades, as should more than compensate the extra risk and the extra expense of guarding and insurance.

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Protesting, therefore, against this of rope-making, as one of the least eligible of trades for any other prison, I would not, by any peremptory resolution, exclude even this from a Panopticon penitentiary-house. Let Euristheus speak the word, and I will turn in serpents to my infant in its very cradle.—Why? Is it that serpents are the best nurses? No: but because my infant is an Hercules.

Recapitulation of the Horizontal Lengths of the several component parts of the Line of Communication between the lowermost Inspection-gallery within the building and the Look-out in the yards.

I. Inspector’s Passage.
1. Inspector’s Inner-Bridge (over the intermediate area,) 8
2. Inspector’s Drop (within the circle of the grated passage,) 2
3. Inspector’s Inner-Landing-place (within the same circle,) 2
4. Inspector’s Straits (passage through the subterraneous arch under the cells,) 17
5. Inspector’s Outer-Landing-place, from the termination of the arch to the commencement of the rising-stairs, 2
6. Inspector’s Rising-stairs, from the exterior annular area to a little above the level of the ground, 8
7. Inspector’s Outer-Bridge (over the remainder of the above area,) about 2
8. Inspector’s Covered-way, { Undeterminable, depending on the magnitude of the establishment and other local circumstances.
9. Steps up to the Look-out, {
II. Prisoners’ Passages on each side.
1. Prisoners’ Straits, 17
2. Prisoners’ Landing-place, 2
3. Prisoners’ Rising-stairs, 8
4. Prisoners’ Bridge, about 2
5. Prisoners’ Lanes, { Undeterminable, for the same reason.

The Figure annexed represents an Airing or Marching Parade. It serves to show how a given number of men may be aired by walking, in the least possible space, without infringement on the Plan of Separation.

Length of the Parade, say 150
Width, 96
Number of feet in each walk, 6
Multiplied by the number of parallel walks in the above width, 6
Gives the number of feet occupied by the walks in the above width, 36
Number of feet of vacant interval between walk and walk, 12
Multiplied by the number of intervals in the above width, 5
Gives the total number of feet of vacancy in the above width, 60
Sum of the width of the walks, added to that of the intervals, gives the total width as above, 96
Number of feet of interval between line and line in the same walk, say 6
Number of lines capable of being contained, on the above conditions, in an area of the above dimensions, in the manner represented in the figure, 146
Multiplied by the average number men in a line, 3
Gives the total number of men that may be aired by marching on a parade of the above dimensions, without approaching nearer than as above, 438

Each cell is supposed to occupy a distinct line: the numbers in a line being 1, 2, 3, or 4.

The number annexed to each line shows the station occupied by each cell when the figure is completed.

The lines might be marked out by double rows of clinkers; the track of each man by a single row; and the walks, if necessary, by stakes and ropes.

At every turning, the outermost man at one or other side turns a quarter-round, as in the military exercise, while his comrades on the same line, by a short run, gain the new line. Thus the exercise of running is combined with that of walking.

The number annexed to each line shows the station occupied by the inhabitants of each cell when the figure is completed.

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This plan being designed merely for illustration, it was not thought worth while to bestow the pains that would have been necessary to give it a thorough discussion, and clear it altogether from the imperfections that may be observed in it. From this example, it will be easy to accommodate the line of march to the form of the ground; giving it the radical figure, and making the entrance from the central yard. The walks would in that case diverge from one another in pairs at the farthest extremity, like fingers on a hand. But the greater the divergence, the more space will, it is evident, be consumed in waste.

The wheels, which on six days serve for gain as well as air and exercise—would there be any objection to their serving on the seventh for air and exercise without gain? If not, then even the walking-parade, with the expense of the walls with which it must be surrounded, might be struck out as superfluous.

The question would be particularly material in a town, where not only the expense of the walling might be grudged, but the ground itself might be unobtainable.

In such a situation, if the wheel-exercise were thought improper for Sundays, even the roof of the building, might, if made flat on purpose, be made to answer the purpose of a marching parade; only in this case the space not being sufficient to air the whole number of prisoners at once, without breaking in upon Edition: current; Page: [105] the plan of separation, the half only, or the third part, can partake of the exercise at a time.

The same situation might, with like management, be made to serve likewise for the schools, proposed to be held, whenever weather will permit, in the open air on Sundays. See the Section on Schooling.


In the contrivance of the fences, I had of course two classes of persons in view: the prisoners within; and hostile mobs, or such individuals as might be disposed to form plans or join in plots for the escape of prisoners, without. To these were added, in the contrivance of the approach, the subordinate keepers; as likewise, though with a different view, the chapel-visitors. While the government or coercion of the first three of these four descriptions of persons was to be provided for, the accommodation of the last, those still better than gratuitous inspectors, who, instead of being paid for inspecting, may be content to pay for it, must not be neglected.

The approach, I make one only: a walled avenue, cut through and from the surrounding wall to the front of the building, thrown back purposely to a certain distance—say, for example only, 240 feet, twice the diameter of the polygonal part of the building, neglecting the projecting front. The aperture thus made is closed by a set of gates a small one, close to the porter’s lodge, for foot passengers; next to that, a larger one, for carriages to go in at; and beyond it, one of the same size as the second, for carriages to return by. At the very entrance, the avenue is contracted as much as it can be, consistently with the above-mentioned purposes; it grows gradually wider and wider as it approaches the building; arrived at a distance equal to the breadth of the projecting front, it stops short. Conceive a square having this front for one of its sides. In the opposite side, the walls that bound the avenue terminate. In the same line terminate two walls or other fences, which, issuing at right angles from the front, bound the two remaining sides of the square. The avenue, though gradually expanded from the entrance to the spot where it falls into the square, wants on each side some feet of occupying the whole width. That interval is filled up on each side by a pair of gates, which, being of open work, afford to the building access to, and view of, the spaces on each side the avenue; designed partly and principally for containing offices, and affording small gardens to the officers. In the centre of the square stands a lamp-post, or some such object, serving as a direction to carriages in turning; and from this central mark, to the pier between the two gates across the entrance, it might perhaps be found convenient at chapel-times, to keep a strained rope or chain, for the purpose of separating the path of the returning, from that of the approaching vehicles; thus obviating the confusion, which, without such precaution, is apt to arise in a throng of carriages.

The public road runs, according to local circumstances, either in the same direction with the avenue, or else at right angles to it, and parallel to the wall cut through to form the approach. No public highway, either carriage-road or foot-path, runs near to it in any other quarter.

Parallel to the gates, and to the extent of the gates, the road is bounded on the other side by a wall, which may be called the protection-wall, and behind it a branch of the road, which may be called the protection-road.

i. Why only one approach to so large a building?

1. For the sake of economy: the more approaches, the more porters.

2. For the sake of safe custody and subordination: the more exits, the more places to watch, and the greater the danger of escape. And were there more exits than one, all would not be equally under the view of the head-governor. What if he, and the next in authority under him, had each a separate exit under his care? The inspective force would be diminished by one half: on the one side, the subordinate would be withdrawn from under the controul of his principal; on the other, the principal would lose the assistance of the subordinate.

ii. Why throw the building back in this manner, and place it in a recess, rather than close to the road, and flush with the surrounding wall?

1. For security; and that, in the first place, against enterprises from within. Suppose a prisoner, by permission or by negligence, got out and landed at the front of the building: on this plan, what chance has he gained of an opportunity of escape? He is inclosed in a defile, with the building at one end, and the gates that open to it on the other; exposed on one side to the whole view of the front, and on the other to that of the gate-keeper, without whose concurrence the gates can afford him no exit, and the prison habit betraying him to both. On the other hand, suppose a part of the building to have doors or windows opening to the highway: let a man but have got through any one of those apertures, he finds himself at large. What though the part thus bordered by the road should be no part of the place designed for prisoners, but only of the house or lodging of one of the officers, the governor for example? Edition: current; Page: [106] Such places may not be always inaccessible to the prisoners, at least to all of them. A prisoner may be there by permission, engaged in some domestic employment; he may have stepped in thither on some pretence; he may have been let in on purpose by the infidelity of some servant of the house. Should even the prisoners be all of one sex, there may be servants of the other. Of a prison so circumstanced, where is the part that can be sure of being always proof against the united assaults of Cupid’s arrows and Danaë’s golden shower?

2. Against clandestine enterprises from without. What enterprises of this nature can be attempted with the smallest prospect of success? Without procuring the door to be opened by the porter, a man cannot pass the gate; he is then inclosed in a defile as before, reconnoitred all the while from the lodge at one end, and the building at the other. The gate which lets him in might, in the act of opening it, and without any attention on the part of the porter, ring a warning-bell proclaiming the stranger’s entrance and approach.

3. Against hostile enterprises by mobs. The enterprises of mobs cannot, like the attempts of individuals, be sudden and secret: they have always a known cause. The guards are everywhere upon the watch. Is mischief threatened? The porter rings his bell—a sentinel fires his piece—the force of the prison is collected in the front. What mob will make any attempt against the gates? No sooner have they begun, than they find themselves exposed to the fire of the whole front; that front more than twice the breadth of the space they occupy, and converging thither as to a point. There needs no riot-act; the riot-act has been read by the first man who has forced himself within the gates. The line is completely drawn beyond all power of mistake—all within it are malcfactors. The avenue is no public highway; it is the private inclosure of the keeper of the prison: those who force themselves within it do so at their peril.

In the ordinary state of prison-building, all preparations for an attack, everything short of the actual attempt, may be carried on without molestation under the keeper’s nose. The rioters collect together in force, in what numbers they think proper, and with what arms they can procure. What shall hinder, or who shall so much as question them? It is the king’s highway: one man has as much right there as another. Let them have what arms they will, still who shall question them? Every man has a right to carry arms, till some overt act demonstrates his intention of employing them to a forbidden purpose. Observe now the consequences: The walls of the prison are impregnable; its doors well fortified; windows looking to the highway it has none. But the keeper’s doors are like other doors—his windows like other windows. A bar or a log will force the one—a stone or push will lay open the other. Where the keeper enters, there may the rioters enter, and there may the prisoners get out, when they are in the keeper’s place. The cuckoo is completely hedged in, except at one place which is not thought of.

At Newgate, the building, including the keeper’s house, runs along the public footway: and the fate of that edifice at the disgraceful era of 1780 displays the consequence. No impediment does it present, natural or legal, that can hinder any single man, or any body of men, from introducing their eyes or hands close to the keeper’s windows. A little army may come up with clubs and iron crows to the very door, ready to force it open; and till the attack is actually begun, there is neither right nor obstacle to impede, much less power to hinder them.

All the other prisons in London, that I recollect, the King’s Bench amongst the rest, are in the same predicament. Had the contrary precaution been observed, the tragedy of St. George’s fields would hardly have been acted. The ill-fated youth, whose death drew forth in its day such a torrent of popular discontent, would not have fallen, or his fall would have been acknowledged to have been not undeserved.

In a great town, the ground may not always admit of giving the remedy its full extent; though, to a certain extent, and that sufficient to give a vast advantage over the common plans, it might be made use of almost everywhere.

Even Mr. Howard’s plan, though uncircumscribed by any considerations of local necessity, even Mr. Howard’s plan of perfection in the abstract, has overlooked it. The piles of building allotted to the convicts are indeed placed all of them within, and at a distance from, the surrounding wall; but lodges for porters, a house for a chaplain, and another for a steward or storekeeper, form part of it. Alongside, for anything that appears, runs the public way: nor is there any thing to hinder a mob of rioters from forcing themselves in at the chaplain’s and the steward’s door and windows, till the outrage is begun.

Thus it stands upon the face of the engraved plan. His after thoughts, so far from obviating the inconvenience in question, double it. His last opinion is in favour of “a spacious walk, clear of buildings, through the centre, with three courts on each side, and the chapel and chaplain’s apartments at the opposite end, facing the governor’s own apartment.”* Is the chaplain, then, to have an outlet at his end, as well as the governor Edition: current; Page: [107] at his? This will require another pair of lodges (for the plan gives two) and at least one other porter. At any rate, the chaplain and his family are out of the reach of lending an inspecting eye to observe the approach of those who come on the design, or with the pretence of visiting the governor, his family, or his servants. The inspective force at that end is pro tanto diminished by the removal of that constituent part of it. What Mr. Howard’s reasons were for this change of opinion, he has not told us.

No one can be more anxious than Mr. Howard to prevent every part of the building where prisoners are lodged from having windows to the street. Why? Because such windows, besides affording converse, will let in spirituous liquors, not to mention implements for escape. Windows to the governor’s house, or the chaplain’s, will not indeed let in spirituous liquors, or any thing else, into the prison clandestinely, but they will let in armed deliverers openly, where they are in force.

iii. The avenue—why contracted at the entrance?—The narrower the entrance, the less the expense of the gates which close it, and the more perfectly it lies within the command of the porter. At the spot where it reaches the building, were it no wider than it is at the entrance, it would scarce afford turningroom for carriages, much less the standingroom which would be requisite at church time. Were it of less width than the front, so much of the front as was excluded, so much of the inspective force which that part of the building furnishes, would be lost.

Of the total area inclosed by the general surrounding wall, the magnitude must of course depend upon a variety of circumstances; some of a more general, others of a local or otherwise particular nature. Behind the building, it will be occupied by the prisoner’s yards, of which in the last section. In front of the building, on each side of the approach, it will be occupied by exterior offices and officer’s gardens.

On the outside all round, at a small distance (say 12 feet) from the wall, runs a slight palisade of open work. The intermediate space receives four centinels, whose paths flank and cross one another at the ends. The walls, instead of forming an angle, are rounded at the junctions. The palisade will serve as a fence to the grounds on the other side: but highways on which the public in general have a right to pass, whether carriage-ways, or simple foot-ways, are kept from approaching it as far as may be.

At two of the corners, the place of the palisade might be occupied by two guard-houses: each with two fronts to flank and command the two centinel’s walks. To one of these I should give such a situation and such a height as to enable it to command the airing yards: but at that quarter in which it would be at the greatest distance from those destined for the reception of female prisoners, if that sex be admitted, it might have a platform in that situation, and in that elevation, without having any windows either way. It might have a communication with the airing-yards, to be made use of in case of alarm and demand of succour from the keepers in the building or the yards. The communication might be effected in any one of several ways: by a drawbridge, by an under-ground passage, or by a ladder kept under lock and key; the key always in the hands of the commanding officer. To prevent converse between the soldiers and the prisoners, the doors opening into the platform (for windows that way it has none) ought to be locked up, and the key kept in the same custody. It is for this same reason that I attach it, not to the wall, but to the palisade which is detached from the wall.

iv. Why the palisade?—To cut off from the public in general all facility and all pretence for approaching the wall near enough to attack the centinel, to hold converse with the prisoners in the yards, or to plant ladders or throw over ropes to enable them to escape.

v. Why of open work, rather than close? a wall, for instance, or a park-pale?—For cheapness; and that nobody may approach it without being seen.

vi. The centinel’s walks, why crossing and flanking each other?—That each centinel may have two to check him. Who in such case would venture or offer to bribe any one of them to connive at projects of escape? The connivance of any one, or even any two, would be unavailing.

vii. The walls—why rounded off at the meetings?*—To avoid giving the assistance which angles afford to the operation of climbing up in the inside. Add to which, that the greater the space thus rounded off, the greater the part of each centinel’s walk which is laid open to the view of the two others.

As to the height of the wall, and the thickness, which will be governed by the height, the quantum of expense necessary on this score would depend upon the decision made as to the resorting or not resorting to the military establishment for a guard. With this assistance, added to that of the palisaded walk, walls of very moderate height would be sufficient: say 8 or 9 feet, about 2 or 3 feet above the height of a tall man. This height Edition: current; Page: [108] would be sufficient to prevent any intelligible converse between prisoners and centinels: forbidden conversation will not be carried on in a loud voice, in the ears and under the eyes of the superiors who forbid it. Without this assistance, it might be rather difficult to draw the line.

By rejecting this assistance, the requisite quantity and expense of walling that might be thought requisite, might be increased in another way. The higher the wall, the more obstructive to ventilation. The higher the wall, the more ample the space that on that account it might be thought necessary to inclose within it; and the greater that space, the more walling it would take to inclose it.

Did it depend upon me, though I would get a military guard if I could, yet even without such assistance, trusting to so many other safeguards, I think I would put up with an 8 or 9 foot wall. In the look-out, sits constantly an inspector, armed and instructed, and commanding all the yards. By a bell, he summons to his assistance at any time the whole collected force of the prison.

viii. To what use the protection-wall, and the protection-road?—The use is tolerably well indicated by the name. Behind the wall, and in the road, in case of an attack by a riotous mob upon the gates, as many passengers as do not choose to take part in it will find shelter; and the attack may be opposed with fire-arms from the building with the less scruple, as no one can suffer from it whose guilt has not made him the author of his own fate.

And would you wish, then, to see a perhaps well-meaning, though culpable multitude devoted in heaps to slaughter? No, surely: though better thus than that the prison should be destroyed, the prisoners turned loose upon society, and justice struck with impotence. But the truth is, that nothing of this sort will happen: the more plainly impracticable you make the enterprise, the surer you may be that it will never be attempted. Prevention is the work of humanity. Cruelty joins with improvidence in making the instruments of justice of such apparent weakness as to hold out invitation to a destroying hand.

This is perhaps the first plan of defence against rioters, of which the protection of the peaceable passenger ever made a part—the first in which the discrimination of the innocent from the guilty was ever provided for or thought of.

In the instance of every prison—of every public building as yet existing—an attack once begun, what is the consequence? The guilty must be suffered to perpetrate without controul their forbidden enterprise, or a continual risk incurred of involving the innocent in their fate. What is the effect of streetfiring? a medley massacre of rioters and passengers, of guilty and innocent, of men, women, and children.

The maximum of economy, with regard to the figure of the ground, and thence of its surrounding fences, remains yet to be suggested; and situations may be conceived, in which it would not be irreconcileable with convenience. The quadrangular figure is that which will naturally have first presented itself. But three lines are enough to inclose a space. The ground may therefore be triangular; nor, if regularity and beauty, in as far as it depends upon regularity, are disregarded, is it necessary that of this triangle any two sides should be equal. An equal legged-triangle, with the legs longer than the base, is to be preferred to an equilateral triangle, much more to a triangle having the angle opposite the base equal to or greater than a right one. The reason is, that the figure may have a space running out in length, in order to afford a sufficient length of avenue; the point or apex being cut off, in order to form the entrance.

The number of the centinels, too, if the military plan of guarding be approved of, and if the difference in point of number be an object, will, in this way, be reduced from four to three.

With or without a guard, the inspection principle, seconded by other assistances, we have seen, or shall see, relative to the plan of management, supersedes the necessity, without detracting anything from the ingenuity, of Mr. Blackburne’s expensive system of mural fortification. “If a man gets to the other side of the wall,” said he to me one day, as he has said to others, “it must be by getting either through, or under, or over it. To prevent his getting through, I make it of stone, and of stones too massy to be displaced, as bricks may be, by picking. To prevent his getting under, I make a drain. As he undermines, no sooner is he got within the arch, than out flows the water and spoils his mine.” To prevent his getting over, there was a system of precautions, one under another, too long to be repeated here. Sound logic was here combined with admirable ingenuity; in all this there might be nothing which, on a certain supposition, might not be necessary. What is that supposition?—that in some cases a number of prisoners, in others at least one prisoner, have time almost without stint to carry on their operations unobserved. In all other modes of construction, under all other systems of prison-management, the supposition speaks the truth. But under the Panopticon mode of construction, under the plan of management which it supposes and provides for, is this the case?—exactly the reverse. What prisoner carries on plans of escape under a keeper’s eye?

In a dark night, it may be said, the benefit Edition: current; Page: [109] of the inspection principle fails you. Yes, if there be no lamps sufficient to light the wall;—yes, if there be no watchman patrolling in the house. The question then lies between the expense of this system of complicated circumvallation, and the expense of lighting, or rather the expense of providing a single watchman to go the rounds. I say, that a watchman will be sufficient security without even lighting on purpose, and that, in an establishment like this, a watchman need cost nothing: since the people necessary for guarding and instructing by day, will be sufficient to watch at night by turns. Even in the darkest night, and without artificial light, can a prisoner, without tools, at no more than 25 feet distance from the watchman, first force through the glass of a window, and then through iron bars on the other side? Will he hazard any such attempt, when, supposing him against all probability to succeed, there is still a wall of 13 feet high for him to climb (I mean that which bounds the exterior well,) and beyond that, another?

To get clear altogether of the obstruction afforded by walls to ventilation, it has been proposed* to dig a ditch, and to set down the wall at the bottom of the ditch. The expedient seems unnecessary, the expense of it considerable, and the inconvenience material and unavoidable.

The inconvenience is, that whatsoever it may do with regard to security, it gives up seclusion. Of what breadth must your ditch be? A hundred, two hundred feet, would not preclude converse with the ear; nor four hundred feet, nor a thousand, with the eye. The grounds all round would be a continual rendezvous for the associates and confederates of the prisoners; that is, for all sorts of malefactors. It would be a continual scene of plans of mischief, and plots for escape. What should hinder a man on the outside from tossing over a rope or a rope-ladder to a prisoner prepared to receive it? what should hinder twenty men from doing the same thing at the same time?

How is the ditch to be constructed? If the sides are perpendicular, they must be supported by brick-work, or the earth will be continually washing and crumbling in, till it reduces the depth of your ditch, and consequently the height of your wall, to nothing. Are they to be thus supported? Then, besides the expense of an enormous ditch, you have that of two walls instead of one. Are they to be sloping without brick-work? The width of this enormous ditch must then be enormously increased, and still the obnoxious effect will be gradually produced. By the prisoners, at least on their side, everything will be done, that can be done, to accelerate it. Among their friends, too, on the outside, to contribute a stone or an handful of earth, will be a pious work.

At any rate, you have on each side a receptacle for stagnant water. Which would be the greater?—the service done to health by the sinking of the wall, or the detriment by the accumulation of this water?

It would be incompatible with the mode of guarding above proposed, by centinels inclosed in inaccessible lanes; unless stationed at such distances as would occasion an enormous addition to the length of their walks, and to the quantity of ground consumed; for it would be altogether ineligible to bring the guards so near as to possess an easy intercourse with the prisoners.

Were it indeed worth while, the advantage in point of ventilation expected from this idea, might be obtained by a partial adoption of it, with the help of one of the precautions already indicated. It would not be necessary to lay the space open all round: it would be sufficient were it laid open at one end, and that end might be narrowed in the manner of the approach as above described. But at that end, the property of the ground on the other side, to a very considerable distance, would require to be attached to the establishment, in such manner that no stranger should have it in his power to approach near enough to hold any sort of converse, either with the prisoners, or even with the centinel; whose path must also be at such a distance from the nearest spot to which they can approach, as to prevent all converse between him and them, in a voice too loud to escape the ear of the inspector in the look-out.

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Two sources of supply present themselves: the rain-water collected on the roof; and common water, such as the situation furnishes, to be forced up by the labour of the prisoners in the airing-wheels.

The first supply is not a constant one, and will go but little way towards answering the exigencies of so numerous an inhabitancy. It must, however, be carried off at any rate, and any one of the eight iron tubes that form the supports of the inspection-tower, will afford a channel adequate to the purpose. Branches from this main would serve to convey the water to reservoirs in or near to the kitchen and the laundry on the sunken floor.

The only combustible parts of the building, or rather the only parts of the building affording a few combustible materials, will be the inspection-lodge, the inspection-galleries, and the chapel-galleries. By way of provision against such accidents, a fire-engine should be kept in a place contiguous to the central area, with pipes communicating either with the reservoirs above mentioned, or with the more copious and certain ones, which supply the water that is forced up by the wheels.

To receive this water, an annular cistern runs all round the building. It is placed immediately under the roof, and within the outer wall. The wall affords it support; the roof, a covering from dust and any other matters that might foul the water. Under it run down, in a perpendicular direction to the bottom of the building, at the places where the partition-walls join the outer wall, piles of iron pipes serving as mains, one placed between, and serving for, every two piles of cells. From each of these mains run 12 short branches with a cock to each, one to each of the twelve cells. Of these mains, which for 19 cells on a story cannot be fewer than 10, supposing none to be wanting for the dead-part; two, by the help of so many branches running over and across the exterior area, will serve likewise for conveying the water up by the pumps worked by the wheels.*

Shall the whole supply of water be carried up to the top of the building? or shall the quantity required for each story of cells, be carried no higher than is necessary to convey it to those cells? The latter arrangement would save labour, but it seems questionable whether upon the whole it would be the most economical one. Instead of one cistern, it would require six, each of which must have its supports running round the building; and though each would require but one sixth part of the capacity of the general cistern, it would require almost as much workmanship, and much more than one sixth, perhaps as much as one-half, of the materials. To form a precise statement of the comparative economy of the two plans, compute the value of labour saved by that which gives six particular cisterns, and set against it the probable annual average of the extra repairs, added to the interest of the extra capital which it would require. But a more simple, and what seems to be a decisive consideration, is the insecurity that would result from these annular cisterns running round on the outside, one under every story but the lowest: they would be so many ladders to climb down by; from whence would also result the necessity of the further expense of having strong bars to those stories of cells, to which, upon the present plan, as already observed, no such guards are necessary.

As to the particular mode of conveying the water to the cistern, it is a topic I pass over, as bearing no relation to the particular construction or destination of the present building; with only this remark, that, as the height is more than double that to which water can be raised by the pressure of the atmosphere, some other sort of pump than the common lifting one must be employed. Forcing pumps I observe employed in the New St. Luke’s Hospital, and proposed by Mr. Howard in his Plan of a Penitentiary-house.


The possible differences in the mode of applying Edition: current; Page: [111] artificial heat to a building by means of culinary fire, may be comprised in the following short analysis: It may be either open or close; if close, either unventilative or ventilative. The open, in which the fuel is burnt on hearths or in grates, with or without the benefit of a chimney, is that most in use in our three kingdoms. The unventilative is exemplified in the Dutch, Russian, and Swedish stoves; and in England in those used for hot-houses, and in those used in dwelling-houses and other buildings under the name of Buzaglo, who first brought them in vogue: the ventilative, in the stoves called Dr. Franklin’s, or the Pennsylvania stoves, and in those for which Messrs. Moser and Jackson* have enjoyed a patent for some years.

The common, or open mode, is what, on account of the expense, nothing but absolute necessity would justify the employment of in a prison. Expense of chimneys, grates, and other fire implements; expense of fuel, and of the time employed in conveying it: these expenses must be multiplied by the whole number of cells; for whatever need there is of it for any one, the same is there for every other. Even the mischief that might be done by fire, through design or carelessness, secure as a building thus constructed is from such mischief in comparison of an ordinary house, is not altogether to be neglected.

The second, or unventilative method, besides its being far from a pleasant one to those who are not accustomed to it, is by no means exempt from the suspicion of being unfavourable to health. The heat subsists undiminished, no otherwise than in as far as the air in the room remains unchanged: calefaction depends upon the want of ventilation. The air will not be as warm as is desired at a certain distance from the heated stove, without being much hotter than is desired in the vicinity of it: between the two regions are so many concentric strata, in one or another of which every sort of putrescible substance will find the state of things the most favourable to the prevalence of that noisome and unhealthy fermentation. The breath and other animal effluvia, while they are putrifying in one part of the room, may be burning in another. The unchanged and unchangeable air is corrupted; the lungs, the olfactory nerves, and the stomach, are assailed in all manner of ways at once, by empyreuma, by putridity, and by respiration.

In the different modes of producing these noisome effects, there are degrees of noisomeness. An iron stove is worse than an earthen one: it contracts a greater degree of heat; and the vapour produced by the solution of a metal in burnt animal or vegetable oil, is an additional nuisance, over and above what an unmetallic earth will produce.

Over these impure methods of obtaining heat, the ventilative is capable of possessing a great advantage. The air which is to receive the heat being continually renewed, may be brought from the pure atmosphere without; and instead of being stagnant, flows in in a perpetually-changing stream. Instead of burning in one part, while it is freezing in another, the air of the room is thus rendered throughout of the same temperature. A succession of cold air from without is the less necessary, as the warm air, what there is of it, is not less pure; and this pure, though heated air, if introduced, as it ought to be, from the lower part of the room, helps to drive up before it, to that part of the room which is above the level of the organs of respiration, that part of the air which, by having been breathed already, has been rendered the less fit for breathing.

By the Pennsylvanian stoves, these advantages were, however, possessed in but an imperfect degree.—Why?—Because the warming-chamber was a metallic one; it was of iron. By partitions made between an iron back to the grate, and another such back, or the brick-work behind, the air was made to pass through a long, though tortuous channel of that metal, in a too highly heated state.

In the room of the metal, substitute a pure and unmetallic earth, the mischief has no place.

The misfortune is, that by means of earth alone, the operation has not hitherto been found practicable, unless perhaps it be upon a large scale. In iron, your warming-chamber may be very thin, is soon heated, and is not liable to be put out of order by the heat. In earth, that receptacle, if thick, that is, of the thickness that must be given to it if made of Edition: current; Page: [112] bricks, is a long while in heating, a great deal of the heat is absorbed and lost in it; it gives out its heat with difficulty to the air, which, before it has had time to take up a sufficiency of the heat, is passed through and gone;* add to which, that in joining the bricks, mortar must be used, and this mortar will be liable to shrink and crack by the heat, and lose its hold. On the other hand, if the earth be thin, as in retorts and crucibles, it will be liable to break by accidental violence, or crack by change of temperature; and, at any rate, it will not receive the heat from the fuel, or communicate it to the air, so soon as metal would.

The warming-chamber, or set of warming-chambers, employed by the artists above mentioned, is calculated to obviate both those inconveniencies. It consists of earthen retorts, open at both ends, and inclosed in iron ones. The air which is to be heated, passes through the interior earthen vessel without coming in contact anywhere with the exterior iron one. The iron retort, being that which alone is exposed to the immediate action of the fire, defends from accidents the earthen one within. The earthen one, being the only one of the two that is in contact with the air, defends that element from the contaminating influence of the heated metal on the outside.

The ventilative plan, modified in such manner as to avoid the use of iron for the inside of the warming-chamber, at least of iron in a too highly heated state, being determined upon, the question is, how to apply it in such a building to the most advantage?

The first expedient that occurs is the making of what use can be made of the fires employed for the preparation of the food. From this source, any quantity of heat might doubtless be obtained; but whether in such a situation it could be obtained to any considerable amount upon advantageous terms, seems rather disputable. In ordinary kitchens a good deal is produced, more or less of which might be employed perhaps in this way to more advantage than it is in common. But in a building of this form, and designed for such inhabitants, if the heat employed in the preparation of the food were disposed of to that purpose to the best advantage, the quantity that would remain applicable to any other purpose would, I believe, turn out to be but inconsiderable. That it would not be always sufficient for that of the warming of such a building I am altogether confident.

The deficiency must at any rate be made up by stoves to be provided on purpose. In Edition: current; Page: [113] this view, the sort sold by the ingenious artists above mentioned, present themselves as the most eligible yet known.

What, then, is the degree of artificial heat which the whole of the apparatus employed should be capable of maintaining?—what size and number of stoves would be necessary to insure it?—from whence ought the air to be taken into the warming-chamber?—whereabouts to be discharged from it?—how to be made to visit every cell?

As to the number of degrees of extra heat which the apparatus should be capable of affording, it should hardly be less than 40 of Fahrenheit’s scale. Forty added to 32, the degree at the freezing point, would make 72, 17 degrees above the height commonly marked temperate. But in time of frost, the heat is commonly more or less below the freezing point: one instance I remember of its being so much lower as 46 degrees; 14 below 0. This, it is true, was for a few hours only, and that in the open air, and in a situation particularly exposed. And in a building where the kitchen fires might at any rate afford something, and the warmth of so many bodies, added to that of so many lights, would afford something more, and where the thickness of the walls would afford so much protection against sudden vicissitudes, no such very extraordinary deficiencies seem probable enough to be worth providing for. My learned adviser, above mentioned, thinks I may venture to set down the lowest degree to be apprehended as 25. Forty added to this makes 65; 10 degrees above the temperate point. This may be more than will ever be necessary. But in a permanent provision, some allowance should be made for accidents, and in a business of such uncertainty, still more for miscalculation. Officers, it is to be remembered, not less than prisoners, must be kept in view. Should necessity be the only object to be provided for in the one case, comfort and custom must be attended to in the other. Happily for the least regarded class, in a building of this form, to be warmed in this manner, very little distinction in regard to this important branch of comfort can be made.

As to the number and size, the seven supports (one of the eight being made use of as a water-pipe) afford so many chimneys, each of which is capable of receiving its stove. But how many out of the seven would be necessary, and those of what size? Experience would determine: but as a provision must be made in the construction of the building antecedent to any experience that can be obtained in the building itself, data collected from experience of other buildings must be looked out for. Such data are not altogether wanting. A single stove of Moser and Jackson’s construction, being employed in St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, raised the heat eleven degrees of Fahrenheit’s scale, and it did not appear that it was able to raise it any more. To produce in that church 40 degrees of extra heat, the number above fixed upon for our prison, it would therefore require four such stoves. What follows?—That to ascertain, a priori, from the above datum, as well as may be, the size and number of stoves of the same construction necessary for our building, three other data would be necessary: the dimensions of the above stove; the dimensions of the inside of that church; and the dimensions of the inside of the Panopticon proposed; noting, withal, that the quantity of glass in the central sky-light, in the annular sky-light, and in the cell windows, added to the number of the partition-walls between cell and cell, would probably lay the Panopticon under some little disadvantage in comparison with that church.

In the above manner, some conjecture may be formed relative to the total quantity of calefactive power that would probably be requisite: I mean, of the sum of the contents of the warming-chambers, in whatever manner they may be disposed.

But when the sum total of the contents is fixed upon, the number and relative size of the several warming-chambers is not a matter of indifference. Equality of distribution requires that the number should be as great as possible, and the capacities of the several warming-chambers equal. Eight supports, that is, eight chimneys to the twenty-four piles of cells, would give a stove to every three piles of cells. The dead-part occupying the space of five piles of cells, the middle one of the three supports that look to the dead-part would be the proper one to give up, and make use of as a water-pipe; the seven others would afford seven stoves among nineteen piles of cells.*

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Will the distribution thus made be sufficiently minute? Experience alone can decide with certainty. Of the three piles of cells corresponding to each stove, the middle one, if there were any difference, should receive more heat than the other two. But this difference I should expect to find little or nothing; and if it were but small, it would be rather a convenience than otherwise: varieties of temperature might thus be adjusted to differences with regard to employment, health, constitution, and good behaviour.

At its exit from the warming-chamber, shall the heated air be suffered to take its own course, or shall it meet with a tube to conduct it to the part at which it begins to be of use? This, too, would be matter of experiment, and the experiment might be performed without any considerable expense. Terminating in the nearest part of the intermediate well, each tube would require about 14 feet in length. For the materials, the worst conductors of heat that would not be too expensive, should be selected: a square pipe of four thin boards of that length, each four or five inches over. These might be covered with a case of loose cloth, of the texture of the warmest blanketing, which, to keep off the dust, and contribute still more to the confinement of the heat, might be enclosed in a similar tube. If by the help of these radial tubes, the distribution were not found equal enough, they might be made to terminate in a circumferential one of similar materials: the whole of the channel of communication, or discharging duct, as it might be called, would thus represent the exterior part of a wheel, composed of hollow spokes terminating in a hollow felly. The felly thus constituted should be pierced at equal and frequent intervals with equal apertures, the sum of which should be equal, and no more than equal,* to the sum of the apertures of the radial tubes.

Why these radial tubes? since, as far as they extended, they would prevent the horizontal distribution of the heat, and, though composed of such materials as to absorb as little of it as possible, they would at any rate absorb some.—For this reason: that without them a great part of the air, indeed the greatest, by mounting directly to the ceiling of the sunken story, would be already four or five feet above the floor of the lowest story of the cells: and the ceiling, as well by the nature of its materials as by its relative extent of surface, would absorb beyond comparison more of the heat than would be absorbed by the tubes.

The horizontal distribution of the heated air being thus provided for, how to provide for its distribution in a perpendicular direction among the six stories of cells in the same pile? For if no particular provision were made, the natural tendency of the heated air being to make its way out by the shortest passage, the greater part of it would mount up perpendicularly to the sky-light, where it would necessarily find chinks at which it would make its exit, without ever having visited the cells.

To prevent this aberration, and to ensure a regular draught through every cell, I insert a chain of tubes reaching from bottom to top, but with regular interruptions. In the floor of each cell of the lowest story of cells, close to the front wall, at an equal distance from the two side-walls, and consequently at the crown of the arch, I leave a round hole, say four inches in diameter, passing through the brick-work into the sunken story below. To this hole I adapt a hollow tube of thin cast iron, of the same diameter. This tube is continued in height to within a few inches of the ceiling above; which brings it to between eight and nine feet in length. Arrived at that height, it terminates in a horizontal mouth, which may be closed by a sort of grating, transformable at pleasure into an unperforated plate. Between this mouth and the lower end of the tube, is a wire grating, to prevent correspondence by papers. Immediately over this tube, is the open end of a similar tube with an expanding aperture, flush with the ceiling, and consequently at a few inches distance from the mouth of the first-mentioned tube; partly for the purpose of inviting the current that way in the same manner, partly for the sake of conveying the breathed air of that lowermost cell into the upper region of the next above it; and so all the way up.

The uppermost of all this chain of tubes runs through the roof, and opens immediately above. It may be there covered with Edition: current; Page: [115] a horizontal valve, the weight of which will be sufficient to close it, and exclude the colder air on the outside. When lifted up by the stream of heated air from within, the efflux of that air will be sufficient to prevent the influx of the colder air from without.

Why, instead of a single hole in the brickwork, a tube, and that running to such a height?—For two reasons: that it may not afford a means of secret converse between the cells; and that the air which has been breathed in the cell below may not be conveyed to any part, in which it would be liable to be breathed again, of the cell above: it is accordingly discharged as high as possible above the level of the organs of respiration.

Should the precaution be deemed necessary, a few slight bars might be disposed in such a manner as to prevent a prisoner from introducing his head or ear near enough to the mouth of the tube to gain an opportunity of converse. But frugality forbids the being at the expense of these bars, before experience has shown the need of them. The probability is, that no such need would ever occur; since a man could not make use of the aperture of the tube for speaking, without mounting upon something, nor mount upon any thing for that purpose without subjecting himself to a great chance of being observed. Nor then would it avail him anything, unless the person to whom he addressed himself in the cell above or underneath were elevated and occupied in the same manner at the same time, which, without doubling the chance of detection, could not be. Add to which, that if there be more than one in either cell, they too must be privy to the intercourse; and in a situation like this, privity without disclosure may in justice, and ought in policy, to be put, in respect of punishment, upon a footing with complicity.

The level at which the warmed air was discharged could not be too low: the only spot in which there can be a certainty of placing it without inconvenience is the floor of the intermediate area and the space under the lodge. Thus situated, the tube would not be above seven or eight feet below the level of the floor of the lowermost story of the cells which are to be warmed by it. If it were in the ceiling, it would be already three or four feet above them, and before it could cross the intermediate well, would have been carried still higher. If it were anywhere between the floor and ceiling, it would be in the way, and stop the passage, unless it were considerably higher than a man’s head, and then it would require pillars here and there to support it. To sink it to that level, either the stoves themselves might be sunk down accordingly, or a perpendicular tube might drop from the warming-chamber to join the radial tube. The former expedient seems the most economical and the most simple.*

It might perhaps be no bad economy to have a sort of curtain for the annular skylight, to cover it as soon as the lights are lit in cold weather. When not used, it might be kept coiled up on rollers, at the upper part of the sky-light, that is, at the part where it joins the roof of the inspection-tower, and from thence drawn down over and across the annular well, and fastened by rings to ranges of hooks inserted a little above the interior windows of the chambers over the cells. It might be of the thickness and texture of the warmest sort of blanketing. It would be assistant to warmth, not only by keeping the air from impinging against the glass of the sky-light, and there discharging its heat, but likewise by stopping the current, and directing it towards the cells. The sky-light, it should be observed, must unavoidably be secured by innumerable crevices, one between every two panes: for in that situation, in order to prevent their cracking by the vicissitudes of temperature, the panes, instead of being fixed in the frame, and the crevices stopped with putty, must be placed so as to lap over one another, without any thing to close the chinks.

Provision remains yet to be made for the lodge. This might be effected by a small tube running from each of the stoves. It need be but a small one; for the warmth yielded by the supports themselves through which the smoke is passing, cannot but be considerable. Not improbably it would be sufficient. If upon trial it should prove otherwise, it would be easy to add the tubes To distribute the heat the better, and assist the ventilation, they should open at the circumference of the room, but just above the floor, alternating with the chimneys. The air, as fast as it was heated by the chimneys or by respiration, would, together with the heated air from the tubes, make its way out at the central aperture. There would be no danger either of phlogistication from the iron, or want of ventilation. The utmost heat which the smoke could impart to the chimneys would not be considerable enough to produce the former inconvenience, and the central aperture is a sufficient security against the latter.

Were it not for the distance there is between the spot where the air receives its heat, Edition: current; Page: [116] and the apartments for which it is wanted, it is evident the discharging-ducts could not be too short; since the more extensive they are, the more of the heat they absorb.

As to the inspection-galleries—being immediately over the spot at which the discharge of the heated air is effected, they can be at no loss for a supply: it is but leaving here and there in the floor an aperture capable of being closed at pleasure. Indeed, it matters not how thin the floors of those galleries are: if of mere boards, the mere crevices might answer the purpose.

From whence shall the air be admitted into the warming-chambers of the stoves? From the entrance, by an admission-duct—a sort of an aeriduct, if the term may be allowed, appropriated to the purpose. In general, this is a point very little attended to. Air of some sort or other will be found everywhere, and any sort, it is thought, may serve. Air already within the building might even be taken in preference; since by the stay it has made there it has already acquired some heat. But if the dependence is on what draws in through doors and crevices, there can be no air any further than in proportion as there is an influx of cold air at all those inlets. The cold air that comes in at the crevices will in most instances find its way to the bodies of those whom it is intended to keep warm: that which comes in at the doors will in every instance. But if a supply, adequate to the evacuation kept up by respiration and other causes, is introduced through the warming-chambers, no such influx of cold air will take place.

This aeriduct, then, will be nothing but a flue similar to those employed for conveyance of the smoke in hot-houses. Short tubes of iron will serve for its junction with the warming-chambers. The quantity thus drawn in can scarcely be sufficient for respiration;* if it were, the deficiency might be made up by tubes discharging the cold air at a height above the heads of the inhabitants, and pointing upwards.

The Penitentiary-act puts an inexorable negative upon all this contrivance. According Edition: current; Page: [117] to that act, all penitentiary-houses must absolutely be warmed, “dried and moderately warmed in damp or cold weather,” “by flues,” and these flues must come “from the flues in the kitchens, and other public fires belonging to each house.”*

The invention of Messrs. Moser and Jackson, as well as all other inventions, past, present, and to come, that make no use of flues, is here rejected, seven years before it was ever thought of. I must be allowed a word or two in behalf of these ingenious artists: I am a co-defendant with them—a partner in their guilt. The same statute which prohibits their mode of warming a penitentiary-house, proscribes my mode of building one, and my mode of managing one, in almost every circumstance. What has the service been a gainer by this rigour? We shall see. Economy, I presume, and that alone, was the power that dictated it. Humanity, however peremptory she might be in her injunctions that felons should have warm bed-chambers, would not of herself have been thus particular about the mode.

On the kitchen fires, which are put foremost, seems to be the grand reliance: the other public fires seem rather to be thrown in as make-weights.

That economy could draw much advantage from this source will not, I believe, seem very probable to any one who may have cast an eye over one of the preceding pages. A Panopticon Penitentiary-house is a room: this statute Penitentiary-house was to have been a town, with streets in it. In the room, this resource seemed to amount to little: what would it amount to in the town? I would as soon think of warming London by the fires of the tavern kitchens.

Thus, then, stands the economy of the contrivance. That the bed-chambers may be economically warmed by flues from kitchens, kitchens and kitchen fires, and so forth, are to be multiplied till there are enough of them for the bed-chambers. Could the new-invented stoves be employed on any terms under this act? By prescribing the one mode, does it peremptorily proscribe the other? Would an indictment lie, or only a mandamus?—This is more than I would presume to answer. But what must be done at all events, or the positive injunctions of the law disobeyed, is—to build the kitchens. That done, and whatever degree of heat is necessary being produced in that way, whatever degree is not necessary, might perhaps be produceable in the most economical manner by the new-invented stoves.

A little lower we shall see more of these culinary laws: but the virtue of the present one is not yet exhausted. To decide this, as well as all other questions relative to the construction of the building, three superintendents are employed. Suppose the three (no very unnatural supposition) to have taken up each of them a different system about warming: one a patron of the ingenious artists above mentioned; another a disciple and partisan of Dr. Franklin’s; the third an adorer of the memory of the departed sage to whom this statute is so much indebted, and an inexpugnable defender of the letter of the law: so many superintendents, so many irreconcilable modes of warming the house. How would they agree?—As the three original superintendents did about the place where it was to be put.

The error lies, not in regulating badly, but in regularing at all. Economy, household economy, is the child of the hour: it changes with prices, which change with the progress of ingenuity, the course of taxation, the copiousness of supply, the fluctuations of demand, and a thousand incidents besides. Meddling with matters like these the legislator will probably be wrong to-day; he will certainly be wrong to-morrow.

Were I obliged to make a law about heat, I would rather enact the degree, than the mode of producing it. In no cell shall the heat be suffered to be fewer than such a number of degrees, nor more than such another number, above the freezing point in such or Edition: current; Page: [118] such a scale. Insure this degree, you whose business it is, as cheaply as you can. Is the temperature thus fixed upon a proper one? It will not be less so a thousand years hence. Minuteness might be objected, but not improvidence.

To what end this economy all the while?—That felons may have fires, or what is equivalent, in their bed-chambers. I say in their bed-chambers. For in these cells they are to do nothing but “rest:”* this is carefully provided: other apartments are to be given them for working-rooms and dining-rooms. Fires in bed-chambers for felons? Is it every gentleman whose bed-chamber has a fire in it, or so much as a place to make one? In the coldest and dampest weather, is it altogether universal, even in the most opulent families, to have a fire to go to bed by?

“And have not your felons, then, this luxury?” Yes; that they have—and glad I am they have it. Why?—because it costs nothing: they have no other rooms than their bed-chambers. Is it that they may have warm rooms to sleep in? No; but that such of them as are employed in sedentary trades, may work and sit comfortably in the short intervals of their work, instead of shivering in forced and comfortless inaction. By night as well as by day, they work as long as health and ease permit. They are not, like some we shall see hereafter, compelled to laziness beyond that of the laziest child of luxury—chained to their beds by law.


It may be reduced to three principal heads: 1. Making the same apartment serve for every thing; 2. Making the cells capable of serving for two, three, or four inhabitants, instead of one; 3. Making them no larger than is necessary.

1. Six several modes of action or existence are incident to the persons for whose reception the building is particularly designed: to work, to eat, to sleep, to pray, to be punished, and to be nursed. One and the same place serves my prisoners for all of them. If the restriction is severe, it is not unexampled. In our own three kingdoms, it is the lot of many hundred thousands, perhaps of some millions, of better men.

I see nothing that should hinder a man from working where he eats, working where he sleeps, eating where he works, eating where he sleeps, sleeping where he works, or sleeping where he eats. All this, and more, it has more than once happened to myself to do in the same room for a considerable time together, and I cannot say I ever found any bad consequence from it.

I conceive it not altogether impossible for a man, nor even for a Christian, to pray where he does all this: Christ and his apostles did so. Synagogues excepted, neither Christ nor his apostles knew what it was to pray in any consecrated place.

Not that for all this I have any objection to that rite. It seems neither difficult to show that it does service to religion, nor easy, if possible, to show that it does disservice.

In my plan, I accordingly admit a consecrated space, and that by no means a confined one—a place in which no operation that does not minister to religion shall be carried on. All I contend for is, that it is not necessary that the prisoners should themselves be situated in that place—that it is sufficient to every purpose, if, without being situated there, they see and hear what passes there. The place where the minister is situated, and where the more considerable part of the auditory are situated, the place to which the eyes and the thoughts of the prisoners are turned, is holy ground.

As little reason do I see why the same place should not serve them for being punished in. Separate apartments for this purpose are surely, of all luxuries, one that can best be spared.

As to nursing, whether, upon the common plans of construction, separate rooms for that use were necessary, is not strictly to the purpose here. The bed-chambers being all single ones, I do not immediately apprehend what advantage the patients were to get by being removed out of those rooms into others, unless it were that of having fires in their rooms—a benefit which, without shifting their quarters, they might have received from portable stoves. A portable stove not only costs less than a room, but is sooner made. Were the infirmary-rooms at any time to be filled, it would be rather an awkward circumstance Edition: current; Page: [119] for a patient in a high fever to wait for attendance, till an additional infirmary could be built and in readiness to receive him. At Moser and Jackson’s, a good portable stove may be had upon the purest principle for 3½ guineas, ready made; stoves of inferior quality, and less elaborate contrivance, probably at a still cheaper rate.

But be this as it may in the Penitentiary-town designed by the act, in a Panopticon Penitentiary-house nursing-rooms on purpose would be unnecessary beyond dispute. Rooms better adapted to that use than every cell is of itself, or even so well, can hardly be shown anywhere. By nursing-rooms on purpose, I mean rooms which, when they are not put to this use, are not put to any other. For as to particular cells, more particularly well suited to the purpose of an infirmary than other cells, such have already been pointed out, and under that very name;* but the convenience they would afford to the sick is no reason why, when there are no sick, they should remain unoccupied. Indeed the whole of the upper story of cells is peculiarly well adapted to this use. None of the air that has visited any one of these cells, ever visits any other part of the whole building; and being so much nearer than any others to the roof, they can receive a portable stove and its chimney, with so much the less inconvenience and expense.

All these different sets of apartments the Penitentiary act supposes—all but one, the dining-rooms, it expressly orders. I see no mention in it of powdering-rooms.

On the common penitentiary plans, each prisoner must at any rate have a sleeping-room to himself. Why? Because, being under no sort of inspection or controul during the hours allotted for sleep, which under the common management occupy the greatest part of the twenty-four, even two, much more any greater number, might prompt and assist one another in plotting to escape. But the rooms they sleep in might at some times be too cold for working in, or they would not hold the machines which it is thought advisable to employ—or their work requires that they should be under the eye of an inspector, which they cannot be in these rooms: therefore there are to be other rooms for working in.

Have any notions about health and airiness contributed to this opinion about the necessity of different rooms for the different parts of the twenty-four hours? I am not certain, though something to this effect I think I have observed in the publications of Mr. Howard. But even under the common Penitentiary discipline, I should not think any such multiplication necessary, much less under the plan of management here proposed. To how many hundred thousands of his Majesty’s honest subjects is such luxury unknown! Even among persons somewhat above the level of the lowest class, what is more common than to have but one room, not only for one person, but for a whole family—man, wife, and children? and not only working, and sleeping, Edition: current; Page: [120] and eating, but cooking to be performed in it? Among the Irish cottars, as we learn from Mr. Arthur Young, that is, among the bulk of the Irish people, one room is the only receptacle for man, wife, children, dog, and swine. Has that one room so much as a single window in it, much less opposite windows, or any aperture but the door? In towns where one room forms the sole dwelling-place of a whole family, has not that room closed windows in it? Is there any commanding power to enforce the opening of any of those windows? does not the aversion to cold forbid it? Are they so much as capable of being opened, if at all, for more than half their length, and that the lower half?*

Let me not be mistaken. Far be it from me to propose the manner in which the common people live through ignorance, as a proper model to be pursued by those who have the good fortune to be possessed of more intelligence;—far be it from me to insinuate that a bad regimen ought to be prescribed, only because it is practised;—all I mean is, that the degree of airiness most frequent in the dwellings of the greater part of the people is inferior, and much inferior, to that which might be obtained without multiplication of rooms, even according to the hitherto received mode of construction for penitentiary-houses, and according to the mode of management hitherto pursued in them. In prisons even so managed, the inhabitants would not, in this respect, be worse off, but much better off, than the common run of men at liberty. Yet even in this respect, how inferior are some of the most approved plans of construction, in comparison of the one now proposed! There, when you shut out rain or snow, you shut out air: here, rain or not rain, windows open or not open, you have fresh air in plenty—in much greater plenty than is usual in a palace.

2. Of such part of the saving as results from the substituting a steady plan of mitigated seclusion in small apartments, to an alternation of solitude and promiscuous intercourse, nothing farther need be said here: it has been fully vindicated in a preceding section.

3. Of the waste of room observable in the common plans, a great part is to be placed to the account of height. Not more than eleven feet, but not less than nine, is the height prescribed by the Penitentiary act. The Wymondham-house takes the medium between these two extremes. Waste it may well be called. I suspected as much at the time of writing the letters: I speak now with decision, and upon the clearest views. In respect of health, height of ceiling is no otherwise of use, than as a sort of succedaneum to, or means of, ventilation. In either view, it is beside the purpose: as a succedaneum, inadequate; as a means, unnecessary. If your air, indeed, is never to be changed, the more you have of it, the longer you may breathe it before you are poisoned: this is all you get by height of ceiling. But so long as it is undergoing an incessant change, what signifies what height you have? Take a Panopticon penitentiary-house on one hand, and St. Paul’s employed as a penitentiary-cell, on the other: let the Panopticon, aired as here proposed to be aired, and warmed as here proposed to be warmed, contain 4 or 500 prisoners; let St. Paul’s, hermetically closed, have but a single man in it; the Panopticon would continue a healthy building as long as it was a building; in St. Paul’s, the man would die at the end of a known time, as sure as he was put there.§

In this one article we may see almost a half added to the expense in waste. Ten feet from floor to ceiling, when less than seven feet would serve!—when less than seven feet does serve, and serves to admiration! I am almost ashamed of the eight feet I ask: it is for the mere look’s sake that I ask it. The experiment has been tried: the result is known, though not so well known as it ought to be. Have the hulks ten feet of height?—have they eight feet?—have they seven? I look at Mr. Campbell’s hulks, and to my utter astonishment I see that nobody dies there. In these receptacles of crowded wretchedness, deaths should naturally be more copious than elsewhere. Instead of that, they are beyond Edition: current; Page: [121] comparison less so. I speak from the reports. I know not the exact proportion; my searches and computations are not yet complete; but as to so much I am certain. I speak of the ordinary rate. Now and then, indeed, there comes a sad mortality—Why?—because where pestilence has been imported, hulks neither do nor can afford the means of stopping it. But, bating pestilences, men are immortal there. Among 200, 300, quarter after quarter, I look for deaths, and I find none—Why?—because Mr. Campbell is intelligent and careful, Pandora’s cordials unknown there, and high ceilings of no use.

This experiment is new matter: it is no fault of the legislators, of whom I speak, not to have made use of it. In their time it did not exist: how should it? It was this very statute of theirs that produced it. While they were building their penitentiary-castle with one hand, they little thought how with the other they were cutting the ground from under it. The information does exist now: the fault will be not theirs, but that of their successors, if, like the Wandsworth purchase, the knowledge thus acquired lies in waste.

Mention not the mortalities: it is impossible they can have had the low ceilings for their cause. The mortalities have been rare: for these three or four years none; from that period immortality begins. Have the ceilings been higher since that time? Had Captain Cook ten feet, eight feet, seven feet between decks?—Captain Cook, under whom, in a voyage that embraced all the climates of the globe, out of 80 men not a single one died in a space of between four and five years?* Out of 112, in the same time, but five, nor of those more than two in whom the seeds of death had not been sown before their embarkation?

What was your National Penitentiary-house to have cost? £120,000.—How many was it to have holden? 960.—What did your Liverpool Jail cost? About £28,000.—How many will that hold? 270.—What! make the nation pay £120 for what you have done for £100? How comes that about?—How? Why, from the Act: the Act will have high ceilings—how could I lower them?—the Act will have spacious rooms—how could I narrow them? The King was to pay for every thing: every thing was accordingly to be upon a royal scale. At Liverpool it was otherwise: those who ordered were to pay.—Such was the purport of a conversation I had with Mr. Blackburne.



This surely is no place for anything like a complete and regular system of prison-management. Such an enterprise would have been above my strength. It would have required opportunities which I have not possessed, and time more than at present can be spared.

A work of this kind is, however, still to execute. Mr. Howard’s publications present no such work. They afford a rich fund of materials; but a quarry is not a house. No leading principles—no order—no connexion. Rules, or hints for rules, in places which, unless by reading the book through again, you can never find a second time; recommendations, of which the reason is not very apparent, and for which no reason is given; some perhaps for which no sufficient reason, if any, could be given. My venerable friend was much better employed than in arranging words and sentences. Instead of doing what so many could do if they would, what he did for the service of mankind, was what scarce any man could have done, and no man would do but himself. In the scale of moral desert, the labours of the legislator and the writer are as far below his, as earth is below heaven. His was the truly christian choice; the lot, in which is to be found the least of that which selfish nature covets, and the most of what it shrinks from. His kingdom was of a better world; he died a martyr, after living an apostle.

To please everybody, is acknowledged to be in no instance a very easy task. There are perhaps few instances in which it is less so than this of penitentiary discipline. There are few subjects on which opinion is more under the sway of powers that are out of the reach of reason. Different tempers prescribe different measures of severity and indulgence. Some forget that a convict in prison is a sensitive being; others, that he is put there for punishment. Some grudge him every gleam of comfort or alleviation of misery of which his situation is susceptible: to others, every little privation, every little unpleasant feeling, every unaccustomed circumstance, every necessary point of coercive Edition: current; Page: [122] discipline, presents matter for a charge of inhumanity.

In the midst of these discordant sentiments, this promiscuous conflict, in which judgment and regulation are so apt to be led astray, sometimes by the negligence of insensibility, sometimes by the cruel anxiety of cowardice, sometimes by the excess of tenderness, and now and then perhaps by the affectation of it, a few leading positions, if by good fortune any such should be to be found, to which men of no description whatever, be their degree of judgment or cast of temper what it may, shall find it easy to refuse their assent, will not be without their use: unfortunately, the application of those principles will still leave but too wide a field for uncertainty and variance. But even in case of variance it will be something to have placed the question upon clear ground, and to have rendered it manifest to every eye on what point it turns, whether the disagreement is an irremediable one, or whether any means of putting an end to it may be hoped for from farther investigation.

But, in the first place, a summary view of the objects or ends proper to be kept in view in the planning of such a system may not be without its use. They may be thus distinguished and arranged:—

1. Example, or the preventing others by the terror of the example from the commission of similar offences. This is the main end of all punishment, and consequently of the particular mode here in question.

2. Good behaviour of the prisoners during their subjection to this punishment; in other words, prevention of prison offences on the part of prisoners.

3. Preservation of decency, or prevention of such practices in particular as would be offences against decency.

4. Prevention of undue hardships; whether the result of design or negligence.

5. Preservation of health, and the degree of cleanliness necessary to that end.

6. Security against fire.

7. Safe custody, or the prevention of escapes, which, as far as they obtain, frustrate the attainment of all the preceding ends.

8. Provision for future subsistence; i. e. for the subsistence of the prisoners after the term of their punishment is expired.

9. Provision for their future good behaviour, or prevention of future offences, on the part of those for whose former offences this punishment is contrived. This is one of the objects that come under the head of reformation.

10. Provision for religious instruction;—a second article belonging to the head of reformation.

11. Provision for intellectual instruction and improvement in general;—a third article belonging to the head of reformation.

12. Provision for comfort; i. e. for the allowance of such present comforts as are not incompatible with the attainment of the above ends.

13. Observance of economy; or provision for reducing to its lowest terms the expense hazarded for the attainment of the above ends.

14. Maintenance of subordination; i. e. on the part of the under officers and servants, as towards the manager in chief—a point on the accomplishment of which depends the attainment of the several preceding ends. No one of these objects but was kept in view throughout the contrivance of the building; none of them that ought to be lost sight of in the contrivance of the plan of management. The management was indeed the end: the construction of the building but one amongst a variety of means, though that the principal one.

I may perhaps subjoin in the way of recapitulation, a general table of ends and means—a tabular view of the several expedients employed or suggested for the attainment of the above ends.

In the meantime, this summary enumeration of the ends themselves may serve to direct our attention, and afford us some guidance in judging of the proposed expedients as they present themselves; and incidentally of the regulations and expedients that have been established or recommended by others, either with a view to the same ends, or at least with relation to the same subject.

From the different courses taken in the pursuit of these several ends, or some of them, errors have been adopted, by which the lot of the persons devoted to this punishment has been affected in opposite ways: the treatment leaning, in some instances, too far on the side of severity; in others, too far on the side of lenity and indulgence. It is for the correction and prevention of such errors, that the three following rules are proposed, to serve as guides in the pursuit of the above enumerated ends. These are the leading positions above alluded to. Should their propriety be admitted, there is not a single corner of the management in which their utility will not be recognised.

1. Rule of Lenity.—The ordinary condition of a convict doomed to forced labour for a length of time, ought not to be attended with bodily sufferance, or prejudicial, or dangerous to health or life.*

2. Rule of Severity.—Saving the regard due to life, health, and bodily ease, the ordinary condition of a convict doomed to a punishment which few or none but individuals Edition: current; Page: [123] of the poorest class are apt to incur, ought not to be made more eligible than that of the poorest class of subjects in a state of innocence and liberty.

3. Rule of Economy.—Saving the regard due to life, health, bodily ease, proper instruction, and future provision, economy ought, in every point of management, to be the prevalent consideration. No public expense ought to be incurred, or profit or saving rejected, for the sake either of punishment or of indulgence.

Propositions of such latitude may be thought to require a few words of explanation:—propositions of such importance may require something to be said in the way of justification. The precaution is not superfluous. The reader who feels himself interested in the subject would do well to scrutinize them. It is but fair he should have this warning; for if these are really fit to compose a test, no plan of management has yet been either pursued or proposed, that will abide it.

Injuries to health and bodily ease are apt to result principally from either that part of the management which concerns maintenance, or that which concerns employment. The supply for maintenance may be defective in quantity, or improper in quality: the labour exacted in the course of the employment may be improper in quality, or excessive in quantity.

What must not be forgotten is, that in a state of confinement, all hardships which the management does not preserve a man from, it inflicts on him.

The articles of supply necessary to preserve a man from death, ill health, or bodily sufferance, seem to be what are commonly meant by the necessaries of life. The supplies of this kind with which, according to the rule of lenity, every such prisoner ought to be furnished, and that in the quantity requisite to obviate those ill consequences, may be included under the following heads:—

1. Food, and that in as great a quantity as he desires.

2. Clothing at all times in sufficient quality and quantity to keep him from suffering by cold, with change sufficient for the purposes of cleanliness.

3. During the cold season, firing or warmed air sufficient to mitigate the severity of the weather.

4. In case of sickness, proper medicine, diet, and medical attendance.

5. In the way of precaution against sickness, the means of cleanliness in such nature and proportion as shall be sufficient to afford a complete security against all danger on that score.

The reasons against inflicting hardships affecting the health, and such privations as are attended with long-continued bodily sufferance, are—

1. That being unconspicuous, they contribute nothing to the main end of punishment, which is example.

2. That being protracted, or liable to be protracted, through the whole of a long and indefinite period, filling the whole measure of it with unremitted misery, they are inordinately severe; and that not only in comparison with the demand for punishment, but in comparison with other punishments which are looked upon as being, and are intended to be, of a superior degree.

3. That they are liable to affect and shorten life, amounting thereby to capital punishment in effect, though without the name.

Punishments operating in abridgment of life, through the medium of their prejudicial influence with regard to health, are improper, whether intended or not on the part of the legislator. In the latter case, the executive officer who subjects a man to such a fate without an express warrant from the judge, or the judge who does so without an express authority from the legislator, appoints death where the legislator has appointed no such punishment, and incurs the guilt of unjustifiable homicide, to say no worse of it.

If intended on the part of the legislature, they are liable to the following objections:—

1. They are severe to excess, and that to a degree beyond intention as well as proportion. Styled less than capital, they are in fact capital, and much more; the result of them being not simple and speedy death, as in the instances where death is appointed under that name, but death accompanied and preceded by lingering torture.

2. They are unequal; causing men to suffer, not in proportion to the enormity of their offences, either real or supposed, but in proportion to a circumstance entirely foreign to that consideration; viz. their greater or less capacity of enduring the hardships without being subjected to the fatal consequence.

Food is the grand article. It is the great hinge on which the economy of supply turns. It is the great rock on which frugality and humanity are apt to split. Food ought not to be limited in quantity, for this reason:—Draw the line where you will, if you draw it to any purpose, the punishment becomes unequal. Unequal punishment is either defective or excessive: it may be in both cases at once; but in one or the other it cannot but be. In the present instance, the sole result of the inequality is excess: so many as the allowance fails to satisfy, so many are subjected to an additional burthen of punishment foreign to the design. Draw the line where you will, you can never draw it right: useless or improper is the only alternative: it is only in proportion as humanity loses, that frugality can gain by it. Pinch many, and those hard, your line is proportionably unequal Edition: current; Page: [124] and unjust: pinch few, and those but slightly, what you save is but little, and you serve Mammon for small wages. The inequality is all sheer injustice; it has no respect at all to conduct: the punishment proportions itself, not to the degree of a man’s delinquency, but to the keenness of his appetite. It is not the injustice of a day, nor of a week, but of whole years; and the weight of it rather accumulates than diminishes by time. As the quantity of food desired by a man, living in other respects in the same manner, is pretty much the same, if the measure falls considerably short of any man’s desires any one day, so will it every other: as his hunger would not cease even at the conclusion of his meal, much less will it during any part of the interval betwixt meal and meal: the consequence is, that the whole measure of his existence is filled up with a state of unremitted, not to say increasing sufferance.

I have distinguished this mode of producing sufferance from an injury to health, merely not to strain words: but the difference is but in words. If a man experience a constant gnawing of the stomach, what difference is it to him whether it comes from improper food, or from want of food? If a constant shivering, what matters it whether from an ague, or from want of fire?

By this violation of the law of lenity, true economy does not gain near so much as at first sight might appear. That a man who is ill fed will not work so well as a man who is well fed, is allowed by everybody. But the great cause that prevents economy from gaining by this penury is, that what is grasped with one hand is squandered with the other. Those who limit the quantity of food, neither confine the quality to the least palatable, which is in a double point of view the cheapest sort, nor avoid variety and change. Provocations are thus administered, while satisfaction is denied; and what is saved by pinching the stomach is thrown away in tickling the palate. Make it a rule to furnish nothing but of the very cheapest sort, and if there should be two sorts equally cheap, to confine the men to one, you need not fear their eating too much. Every man will be satisfied: no man will be feasted, no man will be starved.

This abundance will be no violation of the rule of severity. The lot of delinquents will not be raised above that of the innocent at large, except in as far as the latter is sunk below the ordinary level by accidental imprudence or misfortune. All men in a state of innocence and liberty do not in fact enjoy a full supply of necessaries. True: but there are none but what might, if they would dispense with luxuries. The deficiencies produced by accidental misfortune are supplied by public bounty; and, bating such accidents, the wages of labour, at the lowest rate known in the three kingdoms, are such as will leave nothing to desire on the head of real necessaries.* To the extent of their means, the poorest enjoy, at any rate, the liberty of choosing.

This economy will be no violation of the rule of lenity: though superfluous gratifications be so far denied, no bodily sufferance is produced. The privation is not carried beyond the bounds which the rule of severity prescribes. While so many honest men fail of being satisfied in quantity, why should criminals be indulged in quality?

Nor does the rule of severity exclude a certain measure even of super-necessary gratification. The rule of economy, as we shall see, not only admits but necessitates the calling in the principle of reward; and reward might lose its animating quality, if it were debarred from showing itself in a shape so inviting to vulgar eyes. Nor, when all the luxury that economy can stand in need of is thus admitted, need there be any apprehension lest the rule of severity should be violated by the admission, and the lot of labouring prisoners be rendered too desirable. The irksomeness of the situation strikes every eye: the alleviations to it steal in unobserved.

Punishments affecting health, or life, by imposing on men the obligation of exercising any employment injurious in that way, are productive of the collateral inconvenience of imposing hardship on innocent men, by holding up the occupation they follow in an ignominious Edition: current; Page: [125] point of view, and disposing them to be discontented with their lot.

An occupation of this nature will hardly be imposed, but under the notion of causing to be done for the community, something or other which would not be done for it at all, or at least not so well or not so cheap, otherwise. But no occupation of that tendency can be assigned, which would not be, and, if the law permits, is not already, embraced by a sufficient number of free individuals, who being paid what, in their instance and according to their estimation, is an equivalent, carry it on by choice. Whether the work done by compulsion, is done, upon the whole, cheaper, for its goodness, than the work done voluntarily, is as it may be: but what is certain is, that those who submitted to it without regarding it as a hardship, find it converted to their prejudice into a hardship which it was not before.

As to the rule of economy, its absolute importance is great—its relative importance still greater. The very existence of the system—the chance, I should say, which the system has for existence, depends upon it. That in all other points of view this mode of employing criminals is preferable to any other, seems hardly to be disputed: but what men are afraid of is the expense. Let the rule of economy be steadily submitted to, and prudently turned to account, frugality will gain as much by the penitentiary system as every other end of punishment.

In such a situation, whatever expense is incurred, or saving foregone, for the mere purpose of adding to the severity of the punishment, is so much absolutely thrown away. For the ways in which any quantity of suffering may be inflicted, without any expense, are easy and innumerable. Instances of this waste have been already seen in a preceding section:* more will be found in a succeeding one.

The measure of punishment prescribed by the rule of severity, and not forbidden by the rule of lenity, being ascertained, the rule of economy points out, as the best mode of administering it, the imposing some coercion which shall produce profit, or the subtracting some enjoyment which would require expense.


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 Edition: current; Page: [126] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [128] 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 Edition: current; Page: [129] 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 Edition: current; Page: [130] 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 Edition: current; Page: [131] 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.”

Contractor—“Watch me.”

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.

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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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [134] 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.


In all plans of penitentiary discipline, the distribution of the prisoners into classes is a point that has been more or less attended to. In this classification, the object regarded as most important has been the separation of the sexes. In the present plan, provision for that purpose has not been neglected. On this head, as on most others, the provision made must be governed in some degree by the peculiar structure of the building. The means employed in buildings of the ordinary form have little or no application here.

Two modes of effecting the separation offer themselves at first view. The one is, to provide for female convicts a building and an establishment entirely separate: the other is, to allot to this purpose, if the same building is employed for both sexes, at least a separate ward. The unfrugality is an objection that applies with more or less force to both these expedients.

It applies with particular force to the case of a building and establishment altogether separate. The numbers to be provided for being variable, a fixed provision must ever be attended with a loss. The fluctuation to which the total number of prisoners, male and female taken together, is liable, is a distinct object, for which, upon this plan, provision has been already made. But the proportion between males and females is equally liable to vary and to fluctuate. Provide two establishments, one for males and a separate one for females: the one may be comparatively empty, while the other overflows; at the same time that no relief can be afforded by the superabundance of room in the one, to the deficiency of it in the other.

The same inconvenience will still obtain in a greater or less degree, in the case of separate wards. Whatsoever be the proportion fixed, cells will be vacant in one part, while they are wanting in the other.

The best arrangement, were the numbers Edition: current; Page: [135] such as to need it, and the proportions suitable, might be to have three Penitentiary Panopticons; one always filled with males, another always filled with females, and a third to receive, in such proportions as accident furnished, the overflowings of the other two. The difficulty here in question having no place in either of the unmixed establishments, I proceed here on the supposition of a mixed one.

Conceive such a Panopticon divided into two sides: that on the right of the entrance I call the male side; that on the left the female. For the male side, I provide as many male inspectors as shall be found requisite; adding, at least, one female, whom I style the matron, for the female side. To each sex I allot a separate staircase, running from top to bottom. No female is ever to set foot on any part of the male staircase: no male on any part of the female. Neither is any male, in passing from his cell to the male staircase, to pass by any of the women’s cells: he is to come round to the male staircase, however distant: and so, vice versa, in regard to females.

Supposing females enough to occupy the whole female side of two stories of cells, thus far there is no difficulty. I place them in the lower pair of cells, subjected to inspection from the main or lower story of the inspection-tower, viz. that which is underneath the chapel, and in which the annular inspector’s gallery incloses a circular inspector’s lodge. The left-hand semicircle of the whole circuit, lodge, and inclosing gallery together, I allot to the matron, with her female assistant or assistants, if such should be found necessary. The right-hand I appropriate to the male inspector with his subordinates. In the lodge, a moveable screen marks their respective territories. In the encircling gallery, a similar screen or a curtain answers the same purpose.*

As far as sight is concerned, two pieces of canvas, hung parallel to each other at about 18 inches distance (the thickness of the partition-walls of the cells) across the intermediate area and the cell-gallery, will serve effectually enough to cut off from the prisoners of each sex all view of those of the other, even where the cells are contiguous. In regard to conversation, the males on the one side the separation-wall, and the females on the other, must respectively be prohibited from approaching within a certain distance of the end of that wall; that is, from approaching within that distance of their respective grates: and to enforce the observance of this prohibition, as well as to save the parties from unintentional transgression, a moveable interior grate, or lattice-work, very slight and very open, or netting, may be placed within each of the two cells at the requisite distance from the main grate.

As far as hearing is concerned, the separation, it is evident, would be effected in a manner still more simple and effectual, if between the males on the one side and the females on the other, a whole cell could be left vacant. If, then, the numbers are such as to leave any such vacant cells, the vacancy will of course be left in the spot where it answers the purpose of separation. Should the number of cells occupied by females be even, but less than the number contained in the female side of two stories of cells, the mode of effecting the separation is almost equally simple. The set of moveable partitions must be shifted accordingly, viz. the curtains crossing respectively the inspector’s gallery, the intermediate area at that height, and the cell-gallery, and the screen which separates the matron’s side from the male side of the lodge.

If the number of female cells, though still even, should be greater than as above, two modes of making provision for it present themselves. One is, to enlarge the matron’s side of that floor at the expense of the male inspector’s, as the latter was, on the former supposition, enlarged at the expense of the former: the other is, to leave the division even, and take what farther cells are requisite for females from a higher pair of cells; parting off the corresponding part of the inspection-gallery, the annular-well, and the cell-galleries, as before.

Is the number of cells an uneven one? The mode of effecting the separation is again somewhat different, though still scarcely less obvious than before. In this case, the female part in one of the stories of a pair of stories of cells would extend further than in the other: hang the separation-curtain in the annular area as you please, a female cell must be exposed to the view of a male inspector, or a male cell to that of a female one. To obviate this irregularity, one of the cells must be left vacant. If the number on the establishment should be short of the full complement, it would be only leaving the vacancy here, instead of elsewhere: if it should have the full complement, or more, the inhabitants of the vacant cell must be turned over to other cells, which will thus be in the case already explained of having a super-complement.

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On the sunk story, from which the exit is into the yards, and in particular at the exit, the separation is still more perfectly effected, and more easily managed. A single piece of canvas, let fall from the inspector’s bridge across the intermediate area, does the business at once.

Here may perhaps occur, as a disadvantage, what, on a general survey, appeared in the light of an advantage—that each inspector, over and above the perfect view he has of his own pair of cells, has a partial view of all the others in the same pile. Hence it will be observed, that notwithstanding the precautions above detailed, a male inspector will have some view of a female cell; and vice versa, though it be less material, a female inspector will have a similar view of a male cell. The answer is, that the boundary line, viz. that at which a prisoner begins to be visible to an inspector in the gallery above or below the one belonging to the cell in question, will appear in practice beyond danger of mistake. Within this line, which may be sufficiently defined by a very simple mark, such as a rope hung across, the female prisoners may be warned and enjoined to confine themselves at stated portions of the twenty-four hours; for in regard to such an imperfect and distant view, decency is the only consideration that makes it very material to place the female part of the prisoners so completely out of sight of the male part of the inspectors: and it is only to certain times and certain occasions that the laws of that virtue will in such a case apply. The imperfect view from a superior or inferior story of the inspection-part is in few instances so extensive but that a female prisoner, in dressing herself, for example, or undressing herself, may be perfectly out of the reach of a male inspector’s eye; and in those few instances, provision may be made, either by leaving of vacancies, or by interposition of screens, in manner already mentioned. All this while, what must not be forgotten is, that a female prisoner cannot be exposed in a manner ever so imperfect to the eye of a male inspector, without being exposed in a much greater degree to the observation of one of her own sex; a circumstance which affords sufficient security against any voluntary trespasses against decency that might be committed by a female prisoner, through impudence, or in the design of making an improper impression upon the sensibility of an inspector of the other sex.

The same consideration will serve to obviate an objection which the slightness of the partitions that separate the male from the female side of the inspection-tower might suggest. The great object in regard to the separation of the sexes is that between prisoners and prisoners; and that object is completely provided for. As to what concerns prisoners on the one hand and inspectors on the other, it is only at certain times that the female prisoners need, or even ought, to be out of all view of male inspectors; at other times, the utmost that can be requisite is, that they should not be exposed to the view of the inspectors of the opposite sex, without being at the same time exposed, in at least equal degree, to those of their own. Neither of these objects is more than what an ordinary attention to discipline is sufficient to insure.

A due attention to the same considerations of time and circumstance will be sufficient to insure the same regard to decency in that part of the discipline which concerns the inspection of the external yards. While the female convicts are taking their air and exercise at one of the walking-wheels, an inspector of the opposite sex, especially at the distance at which he is placed in the look-out, is as unexceptionable as one of their own. When bathing is to be performed by females, it is in a yard into which no prisoner of the other sex need ever set foot, and exposed to no other inspection than that of a female inspector occupying her quarter in the look-out; or, if necessary, the times of bathing might be different for the different sexes, and each inspector might in his turn give place to the other, quitting the look-out altogether.

The good Howard expresses himself much distressed to know what to do about making a choice between the sexes for the management of a penitentiary-house for females.* Female rulers might want firmness: in male ones, probity and impartiality might be warped by the attraction of female eyes. The panopticon principle dispels this, as well as so many other difficulties. Among the prisoners, a coalition between the sexes would be an abuse; among the inspectors, it is a remedy against abuse. The weakness of the matron would find a support in the masculine firmness of the governor and his subordinates: a weakness of a different kind, on the male side of the establishment, would find its proper check and corrective in the vigilance of matronly severity. As to the matron and her subordinates of her own sex, it is not surely too much to assume, that for these stations individuals will be chosen, to whom age as well as character have given an authority not to be shaken by any such improper influence. The mixed inspection, let it be observed, I suppose to be simultaneous: if alternate only, the check would have little force. The male ruler would have carte blanche while out of the eye of his female colleague.

Must the iron law of divorce maintain throughout the whole of so long a term an unremitted sway? Can the gentle bands of wedlock be in no instance admitted to assuage Edition: current; Page: [137] the gripe of imprisonment and servitude? Might not the faculty of exchanging the first-allotted companion, for another far otherwise qualified for alleviating the rigours of seclusion, be conceded, without violation of the terms, or departure from the spirit of the sentence? Might not the prospect of such indulgence be an incentive to good behaviour, superadded to all that punishment can give? These are questions to which a humane manager would surely be glad to find (and why need he despair of finding?) a fit answer on the lenient side.


A mode of separation according to a plan of division into classes, being exhibited in Plate III., something will be expected to be said in explanation of it.

As to this part, the draught had two objects: one was, to show in what manner the inspection principle might be applied in undiminished perfection to an uncovered area, and that without prejudice to any number of divisions, which, in what view soever, it might be found convenient to make in it: the other was, to show in what manner the mischiefs so much lamented by Howard and other prison reformers, as resulting from promiscuous association, might be diminished by a division of the prisoners into classes, accompanied by a local and physical separation correspondent to that ideal one.

Dissatisfied with the division into classes, though carried to a degree of improvement hitherto without example, I turned my thoughts to the preservation of the degree of seclusion observed in the distribution of the prisoners among the cells, viz. a division into small and regulated companies: and it was in the course of this inquiry that I hit upon the plan of airing, of which the marching parade is the scene.*

The mischiefs in question being, by means of this plan of airing, obviated, if I am not mistaken, as far as the nature of things will admit, all other plans which fall short of obviating those mischiefs in equal degree, and accordingly the above-mentioned plan of division into classes, are consequently superseded: in this one, therefore, of the two points of view above mentioned, the divisions exemplified in the draught are of no use.

A few additional observations, for the purpose of placing in the clearest light the relative eligibility of the several possible modes of disposing of prisoners in respect of society among themselves, may not be altogether ill bestowed.

The principal and most simple modifications of which the management in relation to this head is susceptible, stand expressed as follows:—

  • 1. Promiscuous association.
  • 2. Absolute solitude.
  • 3. Division into limited companies.
  • 4. Separation corresponding to a division into classes.
  • 5. Alternation of solitude with promiscuous association.
  • 6. Alternation of solitude with division into limited companies.
  • 7. Alternation of solitude with separation according to classes.

Of these courses, the first stands reprobated on all bands. The second I have rejected for the reasons given at large in Part I. Section 6. The third is that which I have preferred to the second, for the reasons given in the same section. The fourth is that which occurred to me at first as preferable to the first and second, but stands superseded by the third. The fifth is that established by the penitentiary act, and the plans which follow it, partly as it should seem for want of viewing the evil in its full magnitude, partly for want of knowing how to obviate it. The utmost improvement to which that system would naturally conduct is the exchange of this fifth mode for the seventh. The sixth is mentioned here only to complete the catalogue, its inutility being indicated by the same considerations which show the sufficiency of the third.

Companies and classes—where is the distinction?—Here: in companies, the numbers are determinate; in classes, indeterminate. In the plan represented by the draught, the classes, though more in number than have ever yet been discriminated, would still, in an establishment of any magnitude, be few: but though they were as numerous as the cells by the number of which that of the proposed companies is determined, the division according to classes would never coincide with or answer the purpose of the division into companies. Why? Because the number of individuals in each class being essentially indeterminate, some classes might be empty while others overflowed; and in those that overflowed, the number would consequently exceed the measure pitched upon as the greatest that could be admitted without departing from the ends in view.

Of the separation according to classes, as contradistinguished from the separation into companies secured as by the airing plan, the chief inconveniences are the two following: it leaves the convicts still, as we have seen, in crowds; and if pushed to any length, and carried into effect by separation-walls, it is Edition: current; Page: [138] proportionably attended with a great addition to the expense.*

That it leaves the prisoners in crowds is evident; for separation according to classes implies association as between individuals of the same class: of whom, though the separation resulting from the classification were to be carried ever so far, the numbers would still, as we have seen, be indeterminate.

Crowds, among men whose characters have undergone any sort of stain, are unfavourable to good morals. This property belongs to them independently of any mischievous communications that may result from the qualities of individuals. They exclude reflection, and they fortify men against shame. Reflection they exclude, by the possession they take of the attention, by the strength as well as variety of the impressions they excite, by the agitation which is the accompaniment of the incessant change. Their effect in hardening men against shame is not less conspicuous. Shame is the fear of the disapprobation of those with whom we live. But how should disapprobation of criminality display itself among a throng of criminals? Who is forward to condemn himself?—who is there that would not seek to make friends rather than enemies of those with whom he is obliged to live? The only public men care about is that in which they live. Men thus sequestered form a public of their own: their language and their manners assimilate: a lex loci is formed by tacit consent, which has the most abandoned for its authors; for in such a society, the most abandoned are the most assuming, and in every society the most assuming set the lead. The public thus composed sits in judgment over the public without doors, and repeals its laws. The more numerous this local public, the louder its clamour, and the greater the facility it finds of drowning whatever memory may be left of the voice of that public which is absent and out of view.

In the publications of Howard and other prison-reformers, two sorts of associations I observed, affording so many standing topics of regret: mixture of debtors with criminals; and mixture of the as yet unhardened with the most hardened and corrupted among criminals. Other associations might also here and there be noticed in the same view: such as that between minor delinquents and such classes of criminals whose offences were of the deepest dye; that between convicted and unconvicted criminals; and that between criminals under sentence of death, and others whose lot was less deplorable. But it was in the two instances first mentioned that the impropriety seemed to present itself in the most glaring colours.

In a penitentiary-house, one only of all these mixtures can come in question; viz. that between the hardened with the unhardened, the raw with the old offender.

Under the penitentiary act, and the plans of management that have been grounded on it, the condition of the prisoners alternates between the two opposite extremes: a state of absolute solitude during one part of the twenty-four hours; a state of promiscuous association in crowds during the remainder. This plan, it has been shown, unites the ill effects of solitude and association, without producing the good effects obtainable from the former. To vacant minds like these, a state of solitude is a state of melancholy and discomfort; which discomfort, by the perpetual recurrence of promiscuous association, is in the way of reformation useless. It is the history of Penelope’s web reversed: the work of the night is unravelled by the day.

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The distinctions observed in the formation of the classes will not be altogether lost: they will serve as guides in the formation of the companies. For this purpose, two rules present themselves:—1. Put not in the same company, corrupt and uncorrupted; 2. The more corrupt the individuals, the less numerous make the company. The choice as to numbers will be in general between four, three, and two: these considerations may serve to determine it.

As to the principles which determined the characters of the several classes, I took them from the source that all principles are naturally taken from—common opinion and the authority of others. This in the first instance: but for a definitive choice, I have done by them as I do by all principles, as far as time and faculties permit—I have subjected them to the test of utility. The bulk of them have stood this test; others have given way. The distinction between old offenders and raw offenders amongst males, and that between the dissolute and the decent among females, are in the former case: that between the daring and the quiet among males is in the latter.

As to the two distinctions adopted, I shall leave them on the same basis of common opinion on which I found them.

The other being rejected, something in the way of reason may be expected to account for the rejection. This reason will not be long to seek. Quiet or daring is a distinction that respects safe custody and obedience. But in a prison thus guarded, and under a government thus armed, the importance of this distinction vanishes altogether. From four—no, nor from four hundred, were they all loose together, and all Herculeses, could such an establishment have anything to fear: entrenched behind the surrounding wall—armed and invisible against the defenceless and exposed, a single female might bid defiance to the whole throng. The least number of rulers that could possibly be made to suffice for inspection and instruction, would be amply sufficient for mastery. As to obedience, it follows in the most perfect degree from the inability to hurt, the exposure to chastisement, and the absolute dependence in respect of the means of sustenance. In a situation like this, the distinction between the quiet and the daring is therefore obliterated, the most transcendent audacity being cut down to the scantling of quietness.

What misled me was the apprehension manifested in the common plans with regard to nocturnal escapes, and the anxiety not to suffer even two to be together during the night, notwithstanding the almost promiscuous association admitted of in the day. If, then, escape and rebellion, said I, are so much to be apprehended, the more daring the character of those who are left together, the greater the cause for apprehension; and if the quiet are left with the daring, the daring may corrupt them, and make them like themselves. True; but a number of men in whom the obnoxious quality is already in full vigour will be still more formidable than an equal number in a part of whom only it hath as yet taken place. Whatever, then, be the reason for separating the quiet from the daring, the reason is still stronger for separating the daring from each other. But in a place like this, audacity, be there more or less of it, must in any case be equally without effect. The distinction, therefore, is in every point of view of no use.

How different the case in the common plans of penitentiary management! Each cell is in its interior out of view of everything. Even supposing every prisoner separate, what turnkey or taskmaster could be sure of being an overmatch for each of them, and not only an overmatch at the long run, but secure against assault in the first instance? Suppose the prisoners in pairs, what two, or even what three, of their rulers, could look upon themselves as out of the reach of danger? Any man who has no regard for his own life is master of another’s. In this state of desperation, which unhappily is not without example, a few prisoners might be enough to clear a common prison of its rulers.

Housebreakers seemed to be the sort of criminals from whom, on every score, the worst was to be apprehended. They would naturally be among the most daring; they would be amongst the most skilful and experienced in mischief of all kinds, and in contrivances for escape. True; and the more formidable when single, the more dangerous, were there any danger in the case, if left in the company of each other. But what becomes of danger, from the most audacious and most skilful, even of housebreakers, where there is nothing to favour escape, and every thing to render it impossible?

Having brought the plan of seclusion thus far on in its way to perfection, let us see how far, and in what respects, it still falls short of the mark. Not far, I hope; nor will the distance afford an objection, if it be seen that a nearer approach would be impossible.

One cause of imperfection is, that among Edition: current; Page: [140] any two of the most experienced in mischief, neither perhaps, but might still find some new lesson of mischief to learn of the others. The tracts in which their experiences have respectively run, may happen to have been more or less different. Therefore, though but two of this description were left together, and the plan of mitigated seclusion by division into companies carried to its utmost; still it is not carried so far as could be wished.

Another is, the difficulty that may attend the ascertaining the character of the individual, and consequently the determination of the class to which he ought to be referred.

To the first objection, the answer is short. If this degree of seclusion be not sufficient, there is nothing beyond but absolute solitude. But the ineligibility of that plan has, I hope, been sufficiently made out.* Evil of absolute solitude is certain—it is immediate—it is intolerable—it is universal. Evil resulting from an association thus strictly limited is but contingent—it is remote—it is far from universal;—at the worst, it is not great. What does it amount to? that one of them may suggest to the other some trick he was not as yet master of. What if now and then such a thing should happen? Whatever communications are made in this way will be soon made; and the time in which it would be possible to turn them to account in the way of practice will not come for years. But of this enough has been said already.

So much as to the suggestion of the means of mischief. Is the suggestion of incentives any more to be apprehended?—a material question; for if the propensity be out of the way, expedients and contrivances will die away of themselves. What should the corrupter insinuate? That there is no danger in guilt?—but the assertion is anticipated and disproved by the very fact of their being there. That there is pleasure in guilt?—but the pleasure is dead and gone: the punishment, that has sprung out of its ashes, is present in every tense; in memory, in sufferance, and in prospect. That shame does not flow from guilt?—they are steeped in it up to the lips: they have a scornful world to gaze at them, and each, but one, two, or at most three companions, to keep him in countenance.

What other corruptive theme should come upon the carpet? Debauchery?—it is not practicable; no, not in any shape: checks unsurmountable; instruments and incentives none.

Profaneness?—nor that neither. Profaneness has clamour for its natural associate: separated from this concomitant, it loses its zest. Clamour they are absolutely debarred from: instant punishment would follow it. But who ever whispers an execration, or a profane oath? What is an execration? what is a profane oath? Morally speaking, a mere vulgar expression of anger, or an abjuration of restraint. But is this a place where anger can be gratified or find vent?—is this a place where restraint can be thrown off? To check swearing, is to check anger and audacity; and to check anger and audacity, is to check swearing. To apparent submissiveness they will be forced; and, after a time, from apparent submission, real will ensue. Men become at length what they are forced to seem to be: propensities suppressed are weakened and by long-continued suppression killed.

A more consolatory, a more inviting, and, as it should seem, a much more natural topic of conversation, is the melioration of their lot, present and future: how they shall earn most by their work, and what they shall do with what they earn, now that they can do nothing but work, and that dissipation in every shape is impossible, and all means of it out of reach: how to make the best of their present situation while it lasts: how to employ the distant, though longed-for period of their release, in such projects of productive industry and innocent enjoyment, as their recovered liberty will allow of, and as it would be among the objects of a good plan of management to hold up to them and to facilitate. To be engrossed by the present moment is among the characteristics of that lowest class of individuals, among whom the species of guilt which lead to this mode of punishment are most apt to be found: it is in a more especial manner the character of such of them as have actually fallen into those snares. The force, as well as evil effects of this propensity, stand demonstrated by the very act by which they fell: being in one instance so powerful, is it rational, then, to conclude that in another it will be of no effect? Where a cause is one and the same, some degree of uniformity cannot but be looked for in its force: where its effects happen to be on the evil side, they ought to be looked out for, and provided against; but neither are the good, merely because they happen to be good, to be thrown out of the account, and regarded as impossible. No—as it was the interest of the moment that ruled him in the one case, so will it in the other. When that irresistible prompter beckoned him into the track of guilt, he fell into delinquency: now that, with a much steadier Edition: current; Page: [141] finger, it points to the paths of innocence, he will confine himself to those paths.

Reformation, therefore, mutual reformation, seems in such a state of things happily much more probable than increased corruption, even among those who are already the most corrupt and hardened.

This nearer and less gloomy view of the probable future, I would wish to recommend to the attention of those desponding moralists, who, led away by general and hasty conceptions, look upon the reformation of a thorough-bred London felon as an object altogether hopeless. Had delinquents of this description been frequently seen under such a course of discipline, and the result had been thus unfavourable, the despondency would have ground to stand upon. But in what instance has an engine of anything like such power ever yet shown itself to human eyes?

Should seclusion, pushed to the very verge of absolute solitude, not yet promise enough, will colonization promise more? Turn to New South Wales: 2000 convicts of both sexes, and 160 soldiers (not to speak of officers,) jumbled together in one mass, and mingling like beasts: in two years, from fourteen marriages, eighty-seven births; the morals of Otaheite introduced into New Holland by the medium of Old England.*


I. Of what nature shall be the employments carried on in this house? of what quality, in consequence, the labour exacted of the prisoners?

2. In what quantity shall that labour be?

3. How much within the day? how many, and what working hours?

4. Any more at one season than another? and if so, at what season?

5. Any difference according to length of standing? i. e. according to the share which has elapsed of each man’s respective term?

To each of these questions I will endeavour to find some answer: not surely in every instance with the view of fettering my contractor; nor in any instance is it for his sake that I should think of encroaching upon his free-will: but it will do him no harm at least to hear what I have to say to him in the way of suggestion or advice. Beyond advice I should never think of going with him in that view, though I were armed with all the powers of law; since the more incontestible the goodness of the advice, in the shape of advice, the more palpable the inutility of it in the shape of obligation.

Of these five rules, the third, fourth, and fifth, are inserted here principally in deference to the penitentiary act; the fifth, in particular, is one which would never, I confess, have gained entrance into my imagination, but through the medium of that statute.

I. Of what quality? To that question I must give three answers:—

1. The most lucrative (saving the regard due to health) that can be found.

2. Not one only, but two at least in alternation, and that in the course of the same day.

3. Among employments equally lucrative, sedentary are preferable to laborious.

1. What, then, are the most lucrative, will it be asked? Who can say?—least of anybody, the legislator. Sometimes one sort, sometimes another. No one sort can possibly, unless by dint of secresy or legal monopoly, stand in that predicament for ever. But there are those which are essentially disqualified from ever standing in it: they are those, as we shall see, which stand foremost on the list recommended by the penitentiary act.

2. Thus far, however, may be answered in the first instance: No one sort at any time; two at least should succeed one another in the course of the same day. Why? because no one sort will answer all the conditions requisite. Health must never be neglected. The great division is into sedentary and laborious. Consult health: a sedentary employment must be sweetened every now and then by air and exercise—a laborious employment by relaxation. But exercise is not the less serviceable to health for ministering to profit; nor does relaxation mean inaction: when inaction is necessary, sleep is the resource; a sedentary employment is itself relaxation with regard to a laborious one. And though the body should even be in a state of perfect rest, that need not be the case with the mind. When a man has worked as long as without danger to health he can do at a sedentary employment, he may therefore add to his working time, by betaking himself to a laborious one: when a man has worked as long as without pain and hardship he can do at a laborious employment, he may work longer by changing it for a sedentary one. No one employment can therefore be so profitable by itself, as it might be rendered by the addition of another. Mixture of employments, then, would be one great improvement in the economy of a prison.

In the mixture thus made, which of the ingredients, supposing them on a par with respect to profit, ought on other accounts to predominate? The sedentary: and that upon two grounds—economy and peace. The Edition: current; Page: [142] harder the labour, the more in quantity, and the more nourishing in quality, the food requisite to enable a man to go through with it. At the same time, the higher fed a man in such a situation is, the more robust and formidable he will be in case of his becoming refractory, and the more likely to become so. Among men in general, but more particularly among men of a description so untamed, a daring temper is the natural concomitant of a robust frame. A blacksmith or sawyer will naturally require more food, and that of a more substantial kind, than a weaver, a staymaker, or a tailor. This latter consideration, it is true, refers only to the common plans: in a Panopticon, be the prisoners well or ill fed, strong or weak, the peace of the house is equally secure.*

Mixture ministers to economy in other ways: it helps quantity, it improves quality. By variety it renders each less irksome; but the less irksome a man’s work is to him, the more as well as the better he will work.

Could a man be made even to find amusement in his work, why should not he? and what should hinder him? Are not most female amusements works?—are not all manly exercises hard labour?

ii. How much in quantity?—Of course, as much as can be extracted from each without prejudice to health. The question is already put—the answer already given: it is given by the rule of economy—it is given by the rule of severity; nor is there anything in the rule of lenity to contradict it.

iii. What, then, should be the working hours? As many of the four and twenty as the demand for meals and sleep leave unengaged.

Would the number be too great to be spent in an employment of the laborious class? Give the surplus to a sedentary one. Suppose, then, two employments of the different classes equally productive, and that the laborious one is too fatiguing to be continued during half the number of the working hours, what is to be done? Take away from this employment hour after hour, and transfer them to the unlaborious one: do this, till there remains no more of the former than a man can fill up in that manner, without being debarred by the fatigue from bestowing the whole remainder of the disposable time on the sedentary employment.

To what imaginable good purpose, even in the way of amusement, could so much as a moment of absolute inaction serve?—to conversation? But what should hinder their talking from morning till night, if they are disposed for it? Not meals, certainly; no, nor work neither: few laborious employments exclude conversation, and scarce any sedentary ones.

iv. More hours at one season than another?—Another question already answered; and answered in the negative. In all seasons as much as may be; therefore at no season more or less than at another. Less of the laborious, perhaps, at one time than another; viz. less now and then, when the heat of the weather is such as to render the laborious employment too fatiguing: but then so much the more of the sedentary. Now and then, the heat may be so great, for a part of the twenty-four hours, that almost any sort of bodily exertion would be hardship. Be it so: but if this can happen at any time, it is only by accident—it is not the effect of the season, but the event of the day; and though the body rest, it is no reason why the mind should lie in waste. Though it be too hot, for instance, to weave, it will hardly be too hot to write, to read, or hear a lesson.

v. Fewer hours, or less work done in the time, at one degree of standing in the prison Edition: current; Page: [143] than at another?—Why should there? or, consistently with the rules already laid down, can there be? At every period, as much work as can be obtained—as great a part of the twenty-fours employed in work, as, consistently with the above limitation, can be; therefore, in every part the same.

Thus says plain humble economy: what says the penitentiary act? We shall see. The first thing it does is to set out with a wrong object—labour for labour’s sake. Had economy been the mark, the demands of lenity, as well as of due severity, might have been all along satisfied with little trouble, and without any expense. Abandoning the first, it attains neither of the other two; aiming sometimes at the second, sometimes at the third, it attains neither: vast expense in straining the discipline, and it is inordinately relaxed; vast expense in relaxing it, and it is intolerably severe.

At the first step, economy is kicked out of doors. Two classes of prisoners—two classes of employments; one requiring the most violent exertions—the other, none. Whether a prisoner shall be put to the one or to the other is to depend—upon what? The money to be earned? No; but upon “age, sex, health, and ability;”—age, sex, health, and ability, and nothing else. What is the professed object?—profit? No: Hardness, servility, drudgery—and there it ends. “Every” prisoner is to be “kept”—yes, every prisoner—so far as is consistent with—“sex, age, health, and ability, to labour of the hardest and most servile kind, in which drudgery is chiefly required;”—such as “treading in a wheel, drawing in a capstern,” and so forth; “and those of less health and ability, regard being also had to age and sex, in picking oakum, weaving, spinning, knitting, or any other less laborious employment,” [§ 33.] How many, then, are to be employed in the sedentary sort of employments?—as many as can be employed to greater advantage than in the other? No; but those, and those only, to whom, for want of health and ability, the “hard,” and “servile,” and “drudging” work cannot be given. No picking, no weaving, no spinning, no knitting, though orders came without number for that sort of work, and not one for the labour of the capstern or the wheel. It is to be a mere Catherine wheel, or an Ixion’s wheel—a mere engine of punishment, and nothing else. Two modes of employment present themselves: the first as hard work again as the second—the second as profitable again as the first; the individual equally free for either. What can be done? Either the unprofitable one must be given him, and the profitable one rejected, or the principle of the act departed from, and its injunctions flatly disobeyed.

We are told somewhere towards the close of Sully’s Memoirs, that for some time after the decease of that great and honest minister, certain high mounts were to be seen at no great distance from his house. These mounts were so many monuments of his charity; for those of his economy stood upon very different and more public ground. The poor in his neighbourhood happened to have industry to spare, and the best employment he could find for it was, to remove dirt from the place where it lay, to another where it was of no use.

By the mere force of innate genius, and without having ever put himself to school to learn economy of a French minister, a plain English jailor, whom Howard met with, was seen practising this revived species of pyramid architecture in miniature. He had got a parcel of stones together, shot them down at one end of his yard, and set the prisoners to lug them to the other: the task achieved, “Now,” says he, “you may fetch them back again.” Being asked what was the object of this industry, his answer was—“To plague the prisoners.” This history is a parable—this governor the type of our legislator. Ask him, “What is work good for?” answer—“To plague prisoners?”*

We have seen the constant benefit of alternation. What says the act? Laborious with laborious, sedentary with sedentary, if you please. Sedentary with laborious? Yes; it you can make a prisoner go backwards and forwards from constitution to constitution, from sex to sex, and from age to age. We have seen the occasional benefit of change: what latitude does the act allow on this head? The same. Should a greedy governor attempt in either way to smuggle economy into the house, the rigid hand of a committee-man, or an inspector, or a visiting justice, might pull him by the sleeve and say to him, “Sir, this must not be; it is contrary to law. You may put those of the one class to tread in a wheel, draw in a capstern, saw stone, polish marble, beat hemp, rasp logwood, chop rags, or make cordage, as you please; you may set the others to pick oakum, weave sacks, spin yarn, or knit nets: but know, sir, that by him who is for the capstern or the wheel, no nets are to be knit, yarn to be spun, sacks to be woven, or oakum to be picked. When the capstern heaver has hoven till he can heave no more, he is to sit, lie, or stand still and lounge: when he who has been picking oakum is in want of air and exercise, he may go and take a walk, provided his walking hour be come, and that no other use be made of it. And mind, sir, that a man of the wheel-walking cast be not turned Edition: current; Page: [144] over to oakum-picking—although all the wheels should be engaged, or although there should be a demand more than can be supplied, for the oakum, and none for the labour of the wheel. For know, sir, that we are in Hindostan—Bramah has spoken—the castes must not be confounded.”

“Imagination! imagination!—as if there were a magistrate in the kingdom that could hold such language.” O yes, many: patience, and we shall see. Meantime, does not the act say all this? What does it say then? What is the object of the clause, or what the use of it?

What is at the bottom of this predilection for hard labour? Sound. The labour is made hard, that it may be called hard; and it is called hard, that it may be frightful, for fear men should fall in love with it. Hard labour was the original object. The error is no new one: sentences of commitment to hard labour are as frequent in our penal code as the execution of them has been rare. It is no peculiar one: it is to be found upon the continent as well as here. Dutch rasp-house—Flemish maison de force—everything impressed the mind with the idea of hard labour. House of hard labour was accordingly the original name. House of hard labour, it was suggested by somebody, is a name by which no house will ever be called, and the well-imagined word penitentiary-house was put in its stead. But though the name was laid aside, the impression which had suggested that name remained in force.

The policy of thus giving a bad name to industry, the parent of wealth and population, and setting it up as a scarecrow to frighten criminals with, is what I must confess I cannot enter into the spirit of. I can see no use in making it either odious or infamous. I see little danger of a man’s liking work of any kind too well; nor if by mischance it should fail of providing him in suffering enough, do I see the smallest difficulty of adding to the hardness of his lot, and that without any addition to the hardness of his labour. Do we want a bugbear? Poor indeed must be our invention, if we can find nothing that will serve but industry? Is coarse diet nothing? is confinement—is loss of liberty in every shape—nothing? To me it would seem but so much the better, if a man could be taught to love labour, instead of being taught to loath it. Occupation, instead of the prisoners’ scourge, should be called, and should be made as much as possible, a cordial to him. It is in itself sweet, in comparison of forced idleness; and the produce of it will give it a double savour. The mere exertion, the mere naked energy, is amusement, where looser ones are not to be found. Take it in either point of view, industry is a blessing: why paint it as a curse?*

Hard labour? labour harder than ordinary, in a prison? Not only it has no business there, but a prison is the only place in which it is not to be had. Is it exertion that you want? violent exertion? Reward, not punishment, is the office you must apply to. Compulsion and slavery must, in a race like this, be ever an unequal match for encouragement and liberty; and the rougher the ground, the more unequal. By what contrivance could any man be made to do in a jail, the work that any common coal-heaver will do when at large? By what compulsion could a porter be made to carry the burthen which he would carry with pleasure for half a crown? He would pretend to sink under it: and how could you detect him? Perhaps he would sink under it—so much does the body depend upon the mind. By what threats could you make a man walk four hundred miles, as Powell did, in six days? Give up, then, the passion for penitentiary hard labour, and, among employments not unhealthy, put up with whatever is most productive.

It is to this grim phantom of hard labour that economy, however, is sacrificed in a thousand shapes. Trades fixed, though they should be losing ones: working-hours—half, as we shall see, struck off at one stroke; then a considerable share of the remaining pittance; then again a double share: laborious employments prescribed, to the exclusion of sedentary ones; employments which demand much food, to the exclusion of those which require but little: and after all these sacrifices, and all this regulation, more regulation added, by which it is made impossible, as we shall see, to have hard labour as hard here as elsewhere.

As to the general complexion of the employment, the act, as we have seen, is peremptory: as to the particular species, it contents itself with recommendation. But even recommendation had much better have been let alone. Bad or good, a recommendation in such a matter has no business in a law: bad, it is pernicious; good, it is unnecessary. Is an act of parliament a place to say to a man, “Sir, here is a trade which will answer your purpose?”

Good when given, it will be bad soon after. Two things, and two things only—a secret and a monopoly—can give to any sort of trade a permanent superiority of advantage. Bad? it is positively pernicious—it is not simply Edition: current; Page: [145] useless. Recommendation falling from such a height acquires force, and has the effect of a command. We shall see it has. Unfortunately, the recommendations given here are not only bad in the details, but bad in principle: bad in principle, by assuming that human force, when separated from human reason, is capable of being made use of to advantage; bad in detail, by exhibiting among the modes of giving application to human force, some that are peculiarly disadvantageous.

In the first place, bad in principle. There are two modes of applying human labour: one is where the task of generating the force and that of giving direction to it, are the work of the same man; as in common sawing performed by hand, or turning in a foot lathe: the other is, where the task of production is performed by one man, and that of direction by another; as in a turning lathe turned by a detached wheel. In the latter way, human labour, when employed for the mere purpose of labour, can never be employed to advantage upon a large scale. Why? because, not to mention wind, water, and steam, there are always animals to be found, any one of which may be made to generate more force than many men, without costing so much to keep as one. If, then, all the brute force you want is no more than what a single man is enough to generate, human labour may so far be employed in that way to advantage; for you cannot have a beast to work without employing a human creature, a boy at least, to keep it to its work.* But if the quantity of force you want is anything above what one man can generate and keep up for a sufficient length of time, to employ human force in that brute way, can never answer: an old blind horse, an ox, perhaps even an ass, will turn a wheel, a little boy will serve for driving, and the keep of beast and boy together will perhaps not exceed the keep of one man, certainly not equal that of two.

The elementary primum-mobiles, wind, water, steam, wherever they can be applied, are applied, as being cheaper, in preference even to the animal: still cheaper of course they must be than that which consists of human labour.

“But do not you yourself make this use of human labour? do not you employ in this way, not one, not two of your prisoners, but the whole number?” Yes; that I do: but why? because I get it for nothing; which is still less than what the boy and the ass would cost me. I can undersell the broom-maker, Edition: current; Page: [146] who stole the sticks: I steal my brooms ready made. The labour I employ in this way, I steal the whole of it from idleness. The same labour does the business of health and economy at the same time. My prisoners, if they did not walk in a wheel, must, like other prisoners, walk out of a wheel: and, in the latter case, the same degree of exercise would require more time spent in walking, than in the former.

Inexpediency in detail is another property of these imperious recommendations. For instances of laborious employments, eight sorts of operations are promiscuously brought together: “Treading in a wheel, or drawing in a capstern for turning a mill or other engine, sawing stone, polishing marble, beating hemp, rasping logwood, chopping rags, and making cordage.”

What are we to understand from this heterogeneous specification? In the two first instances, the only thing mentioned is the mode of generating the force: in the other six, the direction to be given to it, the application to be made of it. Is it that the force generated, as in the two first instances, is meant to be applied to produce the effects respectively specified in the other six? Hardly. Sawing stone and polishing marble, I am assured, are operations that have never yet been performed any otherwise than by hand. Beating hemp and rasping logwood are performed thriftily by wind and water; unthriftily here and there perhaps by hand: hemp-beating, especially, so unthriftily as to be banished from all free manufactories, and confined to prisons, where its sole use is, like that of the blunt saw, to plague those who work with it. Chopping rags is performed, at all paper-mills I ever saw or heard of, by the force of that element, an abundant supply of which is essential to the manufacture. Was a business like this ever performed by a mill or other engine moved by a walking-wheel or capstern? I must have good proof of it before I believe it. My conclusion is, that in the recommendation of the wheel and the capstern “for turning a mill or other engine,” the views of the legislator had not got the length of pitching upon any particular sort of work to be performed by the mill or other engine—that the operations mentioned immediately afterwards were not meant as instances of work to be performed by such means; but that the intention was, that they should all of them be performed by hand. If so, two different misrecommendations are enveloped in this one clause. One is, the employing of human labour for the generation of brute force, in preference to the elementary and other irrational agents: the other is, the performing by hand a variety of operations, not only to the neglect of the most advantageous methods of employing machinery, but to the neglect of those very methods which itself has been pointing out.

As to the making of cordage, the ineligibility of such an employment for such a place has been pretty fully shown above.* Immense space—that space inclosed at an immense expense, which, be it ever so immense, will hardly be sufficient—and all this to carry on a manufactory of implements of escape.

The strangest recommendation is that which is intimated by the placing the labour of the wheel and that of the capstern on the same line, as if indifferently applicable to the same purposes. The first is of all the known modes of generating pure force by human exertion the most advantageous: the other, unless in very particular circumstances, perhaps the least so. In the place in question, these circumstances are never to be found. Compared with a perpendicular wheel, the sort of horizontal wheel called a capstern would, in such a place, be a miserable contrivance. The most painful and intolerable muscular contraction will not produce, in the latter way, a quantity of force approaching to that which is produced by the successive application of the weight of the body in the mere act of walking in the other. The capstern-heaver would be dead before the wheel-walker felt the sensation of fatigue. The advantage of that horizontal wheel is, that you can put more men by far to it than you can put to the perpendicular one: you can lengthen the levers; you can multiply them to a great degree; you could even put story of them over story. Hence it is of use where, having plenty of men, who if not employed in this way could not be employed at all, you want now and then a heavy lot of work done in a short time. Such is the case in seamanship. Accordingly, in seamanship the capstern is made use of with great advantage—in heaving anchors out, in raising them, and so forth; and I question whether there be another instance. Since Edition: current; Page: [147] the world began, I do believe it has never been employed to keep up a constant force.

Even laying profit out of the question, as the authors of the penitentiary act do, and setting up labour as its own end without looking for any thing beyond it, we shall find the lesson equally pregnant with delusion. Even in this point of view, nothing can be more opposite than the labour of the capstern and that of the wheel. Wheel-work is open to abuse on neither side: capstern-work, on both sides.* Laziness on the part of the workman, negligence or partiality on the part of the inspector, may reduce the exertion to nothing: tyranny may screw it up to a pitch fatal to life.

Nor is wheel-work less happily adapted to the purposes of economy in other points of view. Knowing by trial the quantity of force necessary for giving motion to your wheel, you can provide for the keeping up of that force with the utmost certainty: you can know before-hand what each man can and will do, as well as afterwards whether he has or has not done it. In this way, as no man can cheat you, nor is the quantity of work dependent at all upon good-will, slave’s work is worth as much as freeman’s work, neither being capable of doing more nor better than the other in the same time.

The regulation about hours strikes me, I must confess, as a most extraordinary one. Working-hours, never more than ten out of the four-and-twenty; and, for a quarter of the year, not more than eight: eight for three months, nine for two months more, and ten for the other seven. For greater certainty, a curfew clause: all lights and fires out before nine. Of the quantity of labour that might be had, more than five parts out of 15 in point of time, as we shall see, thrown away, for the sake of getting the other nine or ten of a hard sort: and all the while, by this very limitation in point of time, matters so arranged, that it shall be not only difficult on other accounts to have the labour as hard here as elsewhere, but upon this account impossible.—This an act for the promotion of hard labour! Say rather for the prevention of it.

What a lesson to the country! That little more than half the labour the honest poor, the industrious tradesman, are forced to go through in order to live, is a lot too hard for felons! What is the tendency, not to say the fruit, of all this hard labour so unhappily bestowed in the field of legislation? to render hard labour impossible in the place it is specially destined for, and odious everywhere else.

In one circumstance of it, the regulation is a perfect riddle to me:—most work when the weather is hottest. That the number of working-hours should be made variable according to the heat of the weather, how little necessary soever as we have seen, was, however, natural enough; but the principle by which the variation is determined seems a perfect paradox. When was the number to be the greatest?—when the season was hottest—in Edition: current; Page: [148] the height of summer: when the least? when the season was coldest—in the depth of winter: in the temperate months, it was to take a middle course. What can have been the object here? In a clause in which the quantity of labour was directly and professedly limited and reduced, one should have thought, it had been lenity and indulgence. But where is the indulgence of working a man hardest when he is hottest, and giving him least work when work would be a blessing to him, to keep him from the cold?

Even the propriety of marking the temperature in this imperfect and indirect way by the season, instead of the perfect and direct way, would itself be questionable. For observe the consequence: work is to be lessened (or, as this clause will have it, increased) upon the supposition of its being sultry, when perhaps it is below temperate: work is to be increased (or, as this clause will have it, diminished) upon the supposition of its being hard weather, when perhaps it is above temperate. Whether the thermometer is between 20 and 40, or between 50 and 60, or between 60 and 80, is a fact just as easy to ascertain as whether it be January, April, or August. If the idea of regulating work by temperature is not ridiculous, it is not accuracy that will render it so. If heat and cold are to be measured, it is surely as well to do it by a right standard as by a wrong one.

But we have already seen that it is quality only, and not quantity of work, that ought to be influenced by temperature; and that neither the one nor the other ought to be regulated by law.

Eight then, and no more, is the greatest number of hours during which, in the cold season, any sort of work, sedentary or laborious, is in this establishment for hard labour to be carried on: so at least says section 34. True it is, that by section 45, a possibility is created of a prisoner’s working at additional hours over and above those which have been mentioned. A possibility? Yes; and that is quite enough to say of it. A special permission must be given by the committee: it is to be given only “to the most diligent and meritorious;” only “in the way of reward or encouragement”—they may choose whether they will give it in this shape, or in that of an allowance of a part of the earnings of the stated hours: it is to be only “during the intervals of the stated labour;” not therefore in any interval between a time of labour and any other time, such as that of rest or meals: all “working tools, implements, and materials” ... ... that “will admit of daily removal,” are, by section 34, to be “removed” when the “hours of work are passed, to places proper for their safe custody, there to be kept till the hour of labour shall return;” and by section 40, “the doors of all the lodging-rooms are to be locked (with the prisoners, I suppose, in them,) and all lights therein extinguished, after the hour of nine.”

A possibility (did I say?) of extra work? Yes; and what is there more? The governor, on whom it so unavoidably depends, has motives given him for thwarting it, and none for forwarding it: none for forwarding it, since the earnings at these extra-hours are to go entire to the prisoner-workmen—no part of them to him. But of the labour of the stated hours, a great part, if not the whole, is to go to him. [§ 20.] Of the hard work, which is the only sort the act allows of where hard work can be got, so much as can be got within the compass of the stated hours, he will therefore be sure to get from them: but of the only two species of labour which the act exhibits at the head of the list of specimens and patterns (treading in a wheel, and heaving at a capstern,) there is not one which it would be possible for a taskmaster to compel the continuance of, so much as during eight hours of the twenty-four, the smallest of the numbers of stated hours prescribed. Judge, then, whether he will give up any of that time which is his, in order to make them a present of it.*

Another anticlimax not less extraordinary is yet behind: labour made less and less, according to length of standing. When a man has served a third of his time, so much is to be struck off from his work; when two thirds, so much more. Less and less of it there is thus to be, the more valuable it is become to everybody, the easier it sits upon himself, and the nearer he is arrived to the period when he will have that and nothing else to depend upon for his subsistence.

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What is at the bottom of all this contrivance?—possibly the principle of the blunt saw: when prisoners require most plaguing, most labour is to be got out of them; when less plaguing will suffice, the superfluous labour is to be tossed by, as being of no further use. While their work is troublesome to them, and they are awkward at it, and it is worth but little, they are to be made do as much of it as they can: the more it comes to be worth, as it answers in a less degree the purpose of plaguing them, the less of it there is to be.

At Westminster school, the climax of instruction takes, if it is not much altered within these thirty years, a somewhat different course. Whatever be the task, the longer a boy has been about it, the greater is the quantity of it expected from him in a given time. Memory, invention, whatever be the faculty concerned, the supposition is, that it would rather be improved than impaired, fortified than debilitated, by use. If ten lines are to be got by heart for an exercise in the second form, twenty lines are to be mastered the same way in the third. If a Greek distich is to be construed and parsed in the fourth form, a tetrastich is to be discussed within the same time and in the same manner in the fifth. The supposition there evidently is, that learning is a good thing—that the more a boy can be made to imbibe of it the better—and that, in short, he could hardly have too much. That any proposition to this effect was hung up in any part of the school-room, is more than I ever heard. But if it had been, it could not have been more thoroughly recognised, nor the truth of it more steadily assumed in practice. In these new invented schools of penitence and industry, a proposition not less steadily assumed and implicitly conformed to is, that industry, that productive labour, is a bad thing—that it is fit only for punishment—that an honest man cannot have too little of it: that it is fit only for felons, and for them only while the marks of guilt are fresh upon their heads—that the less of it a man goes through, the better it is for him. Accordingly, the object of this clause is to wean him from it by degrees; regarding it as fit not for ordinary diet, but only for physic, the dose of it is lessened, in proportion as the effect with a view to which it was first administered, is supposed to be produced.

For my part, I see nothing in the principle pursued in the school of literature that should render it unfit for adoption in the school of productive industry: I can find nothing in the design of either institution that should prevent its reception in the other. But were there in this case a repugnancy that I do not see, so that all that I could obtain were the option of giving it to the one or to the other as I chose, I must confess it would be to the more humble establishment of the two that I should be disposed to give the preference. It is by reading Latin and Greek that we learn to read Greek and Latin; but it is by digging, and grinding, and weaving, that we live.

I have sometimes thought that, considering the light in which the matter seems to have been viewed, industry has been let off tolerably cheap, and that it is a happiness the divisions in this newly-devised school of industry have not been more than half the number of those in the school of literature. Had there been as many classes at Wandsworth as there are forms at Westminster, it would not be easy to say to what profundity of gentlemanly repose the anti-climax might have been pushed. As, in the one place, the seventh form is filled with the few whose persevering spirit enables them to tug at Hebrew roots; so, to the other, none should be admitted whose oblivion of labour had not learnt to shew itself at their finger’s ends, as in China, by a seven-inch length of nail.

The stock of relaxants is not yet exhausted. When hours after hours of the working-time have been struck off, for fear the prisoners should not yet be idle enough, some of the best of them are to be picked out, their work is to be taken altogether out of their hands, and they are to be suffered to go idling about the house. By a separate section inserted for the purpose (§ 39,) the governor is empowered “to employ at his discretion any” ... ... “who shall be ranked in the third class, as servants, overseers, or assistants, in the management of the works, and care of their fellow-prisoners, instead of being confined to such their daily labour as aforesaid.”

I say idling; for house-service, in comparison of a working trade, is idleness: superintendence of course, still greater idleness. A preceding clause (§ 32) took them from whatever good trades they had been bred to, to put them to a bad trade, contrived for punishment and nothing else. A part of them are now to be taken even from that bad trade. By the time their term is out, and they are to be turned loose again upon the wide world, they are to have unlearned every thing that can afford them the smallest prospect of a maintenance. For in such a place what possible provision can house-service lead to? who will take house-servants from such a house? House-service requires confidence: character is insisted on. Of handicraft trades, most require very little, some scarce any.

The clause calls itself an enabling clause. What is it? Were it any thing, it would be a restraining one. Servants—what servants worth speaking of can really be wanted in such a house? Are the prisoners to be too Edition: current; Page: [150] proud, or has the act made them too busy, to sweep out their own rooms? Could not the task of keeping clean the common rooms (since upon this plan there were to be common rooms) be performed by rotation? does it require picked men to do it? I say it is in effect a restraining clause. Supposing no such regulation, such sort of service, what little of it there is necessary, would have been performed on one or other of two plans.—either upon the rotation plan, every one doing a small share; or, were any selection made for a sort of service requiring no sort of skill, it would be of such as were awkwardest at their trades. I speak of a manager of common plain sense, who were not handcuffed, and whose profit were staked upon the success. Here he is dissuaded from the rotation plan; an establishment of servants is recommended to him; and in choosing them, he is forbidden to take them from any of the three classes but that which includes such as are expertest at their trades, as far as expertness is to be inferred from practice.

I call it, then, a restraining clause—and so it is with regard to good management and industry: for with regard to abuses and idleness, its enabling tendency is not to be denied. The objects we are most conversant with will naturally be uppermost in our thoughts. In the creation of this new microcosm, no wonder if the old and great world should sometimes have been in view. Of this chief seat of relaxation in the most relaxed of all the relaxed classes, the idea seems as if it had been taken from Lord Chesterfield’s hospital of incurables: niches are accordingly left in it here and there, capable of being fitted up into little snug places and sinecures.

Of all this elaboration and complication, what, then, is the effect? Mischief—mischief in all its shapes: listlessness, idleness, incapacity of earning subsistence—mischief, and nothing else. What was the end in view? Not mischief, most assuredly. What then? In good truth, I do not know. Punishment is one use it is applied to, and that the only use. By § 47, powers of punishment are provided, and that of “removing such offenders, if ranked in the second or third class, into any prior class,” is of the number. What then? This delicate piece of mechanism, with all its softness, and smoothness, and relaxation, is it after all but an engine of punishment? An excellent one it would be, were it as good as it is expensive. Perillus’s bull, had it been of gold instead of brass, would scarce have equalled it.*

This reason, such as it is, makes bad still worse: complication and obscurity, and that Edition: current; Page: [151] complication a cover for tyranny and injustice. The meaning, if I do not misunderstand it, was, that for a prison-offence, the committee should have the power of adding to any prisoner’s term of confinement an additional one, ever so short or ever so long, so as it did not exceed the original one. In that case, the simple course would have been to have said so. Instead of that, the meaning is expressed in a round-about way by reference to these classes. What is the consequence? That when six years, for instance, was the term for the original offence, for the prison-offence you can have nothing less than two years; nor if you would have more than two years, anything less than four years: two years or four years, then, with an additional time, such as the committee may think proper to add to it, is the only alternative: two years the least quantity in such a case; or else this precious engine, which it cost so many thousand pounds to make, is not to be used; if you won’t use it harshly, you shan’t use it at all: so says the letter at least of this law.*

The necessity, howsoever it might sit upon the prisoners, would not sit very heavy upon the governor: I mean, if he has in effect that interest in the productiveness of the establishment which the act wishes him to have. It will be no secret to him, that the same quantity of labour at the expiration of an apprenticeship, is worth rather more than at the commencement of it. Nor will the necessity sit much heavier on the committee, if they either set a value upon the friendship of the governor, or set the same value upon this engine of punishment as appears to have been set upon it by the maker: the committee of three, I mean, who, when not so many as three, are not more than one, and who, sitting in the dark, with an interested prosecutor, their creature and their dependent, at their elbow, cumulate the functions of judge and jury. This I know, that were I a candidate Edition: current; Page: [152] for the management contract, I would make no inconsiderable allowance for such a clause, especially so worded: I mean, if I could bring my conscience to such a degree of relaxation, that the idea of taking a sentence of imprisonment for a few years, and altering it under the rose into a punishment for life, sat as easy upon me, as that of a similar transformation appears to have sitten, I hope through inadvertence, upon the planners of the colonization scheme.

The mischief roll is not yet read through. The proportion of punishment, such as it is, what does it depend upon?—upon the degree of delinquency which called for it? No—not in any shape. The punishment is proportioned, not to the magnitude of the offence, but to the length of a man’s term: not to the offence for which he is punished, but to another offence which has nothing to do with it, and which has already had its punishment.

That punishment is the only use this classification is put to in the act itself, is certain. But was it really designed for an engine of punishment, and nothing else? If so, the awkwardness of it is not less remarkable than the expensiveness. Three equal periods of a man’s term, three years say, is the time it is supposed to be wanted for. For one of those periods it can’t be used; since for such time as a man is in this “first” class, as it is called, meaning the lowest, there is no lower class into which he can be turned down. What is this period during which it can’t be used? The very period, of all others, during which, if in any, it would be wanted. When is it that punishment in every shape is in most demand?—when is it that unruliness is most to be apprehended, and requires the greatest force to combat it? One would think it were when coercion was most new. A bit for breaking in horses, which has this peculiar property belonging to it, that it can’t be used till the horse has gone a twelvemonth upon the road! an engine that cost £11,700, and that can never be used till experience has shown that there is no need of it!

Was the sinecure establishment that we have seen grafted on this classification plan, meant as a fund of reward? It is still worse contrived for reward than the engine of punishment made out of the classes is for punishment: that cannot be used till one-third of the term is over; this, not till two-thirds are at an end.

One glance more, and I have done. Two divisions or classifications, the reader may have observed, running on together: two classifications made upon so many different principles: the first grounded on capacity for hard labour, as indicated by age, sex, health, and ability: the other on length of standing; that is, not on absolute length of standing, but relative—relation had to the proportion elapsed of each man’s term. If this account be obscure, I am sorry for it, but I cannot help it: were it altogether otherwise, it would not be a faithful one. These divisions cross and jostle one another in effect; but in idea each may be considered by itself. Let us observe for a moment the consequence of the first of them. Two classes of persons are carefully distinguished, and placed in situations as opposite as possible: from that moment, their treatment, as to everything that remains of it, is uniformly the same. Two sets of people, and but two: to heave at a capstern, or what is looked upon as equivalent, the employment of the one; to knit nets, or some such thing, the occupation of the other. No medium: straining to excess, or sitting almost without motion. The labour of the former might be too severe; that of the latter not sufficiently so. Preservatives require to be employed against both excesses: clauses to restrain undue severity in the one case, clauses to restrain undue lenity in the other. What does our legislator? He twists both kinds of clauses together, and applies them indiscriminately to both classes of workmen, and both classes of work. What is the consequence? Every such clause is a two-edged sword: with one edge it destroys one part of the company; with the other edge, the remainder. With the one he thus cuts up one half of his own purposes; with the other, the other half. Because 14 or 15 hours would be too long for one set to heave at a capstern, the others, who are to do nothing but sit and knit, are not to have any more than 10, than 9, than 8 hours, to do that in, or anything else: because three or four hours would be nothing to employ in knitting, those who are to heave at a capstern are to heave on for not less than 8, 9, or 10 hours, and longest when the heat of the weather has rendered the fatigue most intolerable: because those who are to sit knitting would soon be dead were they to do nothing but sit or lie a-bed without exercise, the capstern-heavers, who have been heaving and straddling till they cannot set one foot before the other, are also to have their walk: because the capstern-heavers will be dead with fatigue before their day is half spent, the knitters are to have 14 hours out of the 24, and never less than 12, to soak in bed; and this is called keeping them to hard labour: because the capstern-heavers will be worked to death before their term is one third over, the knitters, by the time they have gone through a third of theirs, are to have a part of their knitting hours struck off; and by the time they have gone through two thirds, the abatement is to be doubled.

“Exaggeration! exaggeration! Can you seriously, then, pretend to believe that mischiefs like these would really ensue?”—I Edition: current; Page: [153] hope not—I trust not; at least, not in any such degree: in some way or other, the worst of them would be got rid of. These, like others, would somehow or other find something like a remedy. True: but who should we have to thank for it?—those who contrived the act? No, but those who would have to execute it; that is, to struggle under it, and save themselves from executing it. Of two things, one: executed, it is ruinous; not executed, it is useless: such is the dilemma that pursues it through every part of its career. The provisions either will, or will not, have the effect of peremptory ones. In the one case, they are productive of the mischief which we see: in the other, they are of no effect against the mischiefs which they themselves have in view.

Recapitulation.—Errors collected under the single head of Employment—fruits of legislative interference in matters of domestic and mercantile economy.

1. Setting out with a wrong object—hard labour instead of profit.

2. Undertaking to give any regulations or instructions at all with regard to choice among the species of employment.

3. Grounding the choice upon a wrong principle—employing human exertion to generate pure force.

4. Making peculiarly disadvantageous applications of that disadvantageous principle—capstern-work put upon a line with wheel-work.

5. Prescribing other employments particularly disadvantageous upon the face of them; such as beating hemp, rasping logwood, chopping rags—operations already performed to more advantage by machines moved by the elementary primum-mobiles.

6. Putting a negative upon mixture of employments, though alike recommended by health, economy, and comfort.

7. Putting a negative upon a free change of employments, as economy may occasionally require.

8. Limiting the quantity of labour, either one way or other, in point of time: working-hours not fewer than 8, 9, or 10 in a day, nor more.

9. Making the limitation different in different seasons: 10 hours for seven months, 9 for two other months, and 8 only for the remaining three; thence losing so much in the two latter seasons.

10. Making the limitation such, that the exercise shall be hardest in the season when men are least able to bear it.

11. Making further deduction from the sum of labour on the ground of length of standing: striking off so much when one third of the term is over, and so much more when two thirds, with or with out limiting the amount of the deduction, or specifying the mode.

12. Making the deductions per saltum: two degrees only of relaxation, two classes only of prisoners, to the disregard of the numerous differences indicated by the circumstances of individuals.

13. Facilitating undue preferences:—by the power given of changing the work from real to nominal.

14. Authorising excessive additions to the duration of punishment, by a judicature secret and arbitrary, and liable to be interested.

15. Establishing an expensive fund of reward and punishment; and that so constituted, that it can never be used till the inutility of it has been demonstrated by experience: degradations and indulgences that cannot take place till one third or two thirds of a man’s time is over.

16. Prescribing, under the common notion of hard labour, two classes of employments as opposite in point of severity of exercise, as possible, without any medium.

17. Prescribing for such opposite measures of exertion, the same measure of relaxation; and that in every particular—hours, seasons, and length of standing.


On the important head of diet, the principles already established leave little here to add.

1. Quantity—unlimited;* that is, as much as each man chooses to eat.

2. Price—the cheapest.

3. Savour—the least palatable of any in common use.

4. Mixture—none.

5. Change—none, unless for cheapness.

6. Drink—water.

7. Liberty to any man to purchase more palatable diet out of his share of earnings.

8. Fermented liquors excepted, which, even small beer, ought never to be allowed on any terms.§

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Thus speak our three rules. Look round among the systems in practice: we shall find them all three transgressed, and what is more, the opposite excesses united in one and the same transgression. Many different dietaries have been adopted, prescribed, or recommended. These opposite defects may be observed more or less in all of them. In all of them, the food is limited in quantity: in all of them, it is more or less too good in quality. At Wymondham, three different sorts of things in turn, but of the only one of which the quantity is specified, viz. bread, a deplorably scanty measure. Thus far, however, right, as, except one meal in the week, animal food forms no part of it.*

Twopenny worth of bread only for a whole day! and this under the hardest as well as the easiest work! Twopenny worth of bread? Many a man will eat as much with his meat at a single meal. The allowance settled, too, not by quantity but by value! If thus scanty when at the largest rate, what must it be when one third of it is struck off? Under a regimen like this, a prison must be a scene of perpetual famine. I read it in the dietary: Howard read it in men’s countenances. “Several young men,” says he, (his visit was in 1788) “seemed as if they could not go out so fit for labour as they come in.” Nobody, it is said, dies there. I believe it—they do not stay there long enough: but there are slow poisons as well as quick ones. Nobody, it is added, is sick there. I deny it: everybody is sick there, and always. Is not a perpetual gnawing in the stomach a disease? Work little or much, behave well or ill, this is to be their fate. Were I to put a man to such a regimen, which as a necessary means to a fit end I should not scruple, I should speak honestly, and call it torture—I should use it instead of a thumb-screw: it is applying the rack to the inside of the stomach, instead of the outside of a limb. Men that have once been there, do not come there a second time. I dare say they don’t; nor would they, were their allowance thrice as great as it is. It is said, the profits of the work are more than double the expense of this maintenance. I dare say they are. Why?—because the maintenance is less than half what is sufficient.

The good Howard, who with me protests against this dietary, has given us one of his own: and in this, as in so many other instances, has shown how little self was in his thoughts. Good things, a variety of them, and butcher’s meat amongst the rest. Butcher’s meat twice, or rather four times aweek, to felons whose diet is to be their punishment! Butcher’s meat for the lowest vulgar, as if for fear a cheaper diet should not agree with them! He himself all this while never suffering a morsel to enter within his lips. Yet what man ever enjoyed a more uninterrupted flow of health and spirits?

This inconsistency, in a word, runs through all the dietaries I have ever met with. Nobody has ever had the courage to be either cruel enough to feed felons as so many honest men would be glad to be fed, or extravagant enough to give them as much of the poorest food as they require. The simplest course, one would think, was doomed to be always the last thought of.

I look at the hulk dietaries; and in these, animal food abounds more than in any other. This is not difficult to be accounted for. The prisons are ships—the guards seamen: it must Edition: current; Page: [155] be seaman’s provender. What was the custom at sea, would of course be kept in view, not what was the custom elsewhere, where men are kept cheaper; much less, what are the demands of nature. Neighbour’s fare could not well be denied; especially when such a price was paid for it. Howard, too, had been there, and grumbled: and there were those who had the fear of Howard before their eyes. The powers above were doubtless told, that all this good living was well paid for in work: men who work hard must be well fed; and when men are well fed, those who feed them must be well paid for it. What has not been said, I suppose, to the powers above, is however most true, that what is paid for thus working men and feeding them, over and above what need be paid, is more than even the pretended value of their work.

Turn now to the penitentiary act. Another visit to the kitchen, and as much got by it as before. By § 35, every offender is to be “sustained with bread and any coarse meat or other inferior food, and water or small beer.”

For humanity, for health, for comfort, what does this do? Nothing. In what respect can the prisoners be the better for this article? In none. What says it? That the food shall be sufficient? No. That it shall be wholesome? No; not so much even as that. What then?—that bread shall form a part of it. They are to have—what? bread and something besides. What is that something to be? is it to be meat, at all events? No: but either meat, so as it be coarse, or any thing else whatever, so as it be of an inferior kind. Inferior to what? That the statute has not told us, and it would have been rather difficult for it to have told us.

For economy, what does it? Nothing.—Does it set up any sort of barrier against unthriftiness or waste? May not meat, though coarse, be unthrifty food, if furnished in an unnecessary quantity, or laid in upon unthrifty terms? Might not their caterer cram them with Polignac rolls, for anything there is in the act to hinder him?

It does worse than nothing. One thing it does determine: bread they must have—bread for ever, and at all events. Why always and at all events bread? Is it that bread is always the cheapest of all food? By no means. Whether it be so at any time, it is not necessary to inquire: it is sufficient that it is not always. Bread is a manufacture. Does not the earth afford substances that will serve for food—that are actually made to serve for food, with less expense of manufacture? Is bread anywhere a necessary article? Is it so much as universal amongst ourselves? Are there are not hundreds of thousands, nay millions, of honest men in the three kingdoms, to whom the very taste of it is unknown? Is not Ireland fed with potatoes? Is not Scotland fed with oatmeal? Is that inferior grain so much as manufactured into bread? Are Irishmen a puny race? Is the arm of the Highlander found weak in war?—What a lesson to hold out to so large a portion of the people!—that the food they are content with, the best their country can afford them, is not good enough for felons!*

For what purpose, then, can this regulation serve?—for what could it have been meant to serve? For guidance?—for instruction? Did it need the united power and wisdom of King, Lords, and Commons, to inform us that there are things which may be eaten with bread, and that meat is one of them? Almost equally useless is that part which prescribes the drink, though not equally pernicious. They are to have—what? Either water or small beer. If the being confined to water is an undue hardship, what does this clause to save them from it? If it is not an undue hardship, why expose the public to be put to the expense so much as of small beer? In what respect is the regulation of the smallest use to them? Though they were to have beer given to them, is there anything in the act to prevent its being sour or musty?

For what use, then, this regulation about diet, when profusion is left without bounds, and when the prisoners may be starved or poisoned for anything that it does to save them? Ask of what disservice: the answer is plain, and not to be contradicted. It prevents them from being fed so cheaply as otherwise, without any prejudice to health, they might be. In this important article good economy and this act cannot exist together.

Ask my contractor, and after a year or two’s trial he will tell you distinctly how many thousands the nation would have had to pay for this excursion into the kitchen. The world, you will find, might be sailed round and round for a small part of the expense.

Vain would it be to say, “So long as you give them bread, though it be but a morsel, you may compose the bulk of their food of whatever is cheaper, without violating the letter of the law.” Certainly: but could you Edition: current; Page: [156] without violating the spirit? without departing from what it was evident the authors had in view? Is not the article of bread put foremost? Is it not evident that, according to the notion and intention of those who drew this clause, bread was to compose the principal part of the men’s food? But suppose the clause not obligatory—what would it then be? Nugatory. Here, as before—mischief, or nothing—such is the alternative.

Turn them over to a contractor, and observe how different the result. No need to rack invention to prevent his spending too much upon their food. Leave it to him, and one thing you may be sure of, that in this way, as in all others, as little will be spent upon them as possible.

The only thing to fear in this case is, lest he should not bestow as much upon them as he ought. But against this you have your remedy. Do what the penitentiary act has not done: require that the food shall be wholesome, and that there shall be enough of it. This is something. It is such ground as not only popular censure, but a legal indictment, may be built upon. Is it not yet enough? Say that, punishment apart, he shall feed them to the extent of their desires. Will he still fail you? Hardly. Even upon the plan of the present penitentiary act, some eyes, upon the Panopticon plan all eyes, are on him. The latitude thus given him, with regard to the choice of the food, which of course will be of the cheapest sort, is even of service to his integrity, and to the comfort of the prisoners in this respect, by the jealousy it excites. Whatever he does in this way is his own doing—the result of a motive, of which the force is known to every one, and regarded with a suspicion which is as universal as it is reasonable. It is his own doing, and seen by everybody to be so. No pretence of public good—no letter of any law to afford shelter to inhumanity or avarice.


A few words under the head of clothing, and but few.

Health, comfort, and decency, prescribe the limits on one side: economy on the other. Fashion, the supreme arbiter everywhere else, the cottage not excepted, has no jurisdiction here.

The penitentiary act points out two other objects as proper to be kept in view: humiliation, and safe custody. So much for generals: happily, under this head, it keeps clear of specifications.

Two hints I will venture to offer to my contractor in this view:—

i. For men, coat and shirt-sleeves of unequal length: the left as usual—the right no longer than that of a woman’s gown.

Economy is served by this contrivance in a small degree: safe custody in a greater. The difference of appearance in the skin of the two arms will be an essential mark. In point of duration, nothing can be more happily suited to the purpose; it is a permanent distinction, without being a perpetual stigma.

Exclusive of this pledge, I look upon escape out of a Panopticon—I have said so over and over—as an event morally impossible. But suppose it otherwise: how great the additional security which an expedient thus simple would afford!

A man escapes. Minute personal description, signalement, as the French call it, is almost needless: one simple trait fixes him beyond possibility of mistake. His two arms wear a different appearance: one, like other men’s—the other, red and rough, like that of a female of the working-class. No innocent man can be arrested by mistake. He bares his two arms:—“Observe they are alike; I am not the man—you see it is impossible.”

The common expedient is, one sleeve of a different colour. This costs something—it saves nothing; and when the coat is off, the security is gone.

Hardship there can be none: the tenderer sex, even in its tenderest and most elevated classes, has both arms bare. Among the Romans, even the most luxurious and effeminate, not the fore-arm only, but the whole arm, was bare, up to the very shoulder.

ii. In both sexes, on working days, shoes wooden; stockings, none: on Sundays, stockings and slippers.

Shoes wooden, for several reasons:—

1. They are cheaper than leather.

2. Among the common people in England, they are known as a sort of emblem of servitude.

3. By the noise they make on the iron bars, of which the floors of the cell-galleries are composed, they give notice whenever a prisoner is on the march. Putting them off, in order to prevent this, and escape observation, is an act which, if forbidden, will not be practised, where non-discovery will be so perfectly hopeless. Besides that the bars would give pain to bare feet not accustomed to tread on them.

4. Were the prisoners to go bare-foot, the bars which form the floor of the galleries must be so much the closer, consequently the more numerous and expensive.

5. In climbing, with a view to escape, it would be impossible to make use of the feet, either with the wooden shoes on, or with naked feet kept tender by the use of shoes. Common leather shoes, especially when stout and coarse, are of great assistance in climbing, Edition: current; Page: [157] and bare feet, hardened by treading on iron and on the bare ground, might find no great difficulty. Bare feet, that were accustomed to shoes, would serve as indifferently for running as for climbing; and a fugitive would hardly carry about with him so palpable a mark of his condition as a pair of wooden shoes.

Neither in this privation, fashion apart, is there any real hardship. Not to mention antiquity, or foreign nations, in Ireland, shoes and stockings are rare among the common people in the country.* In Scotland, these habiliments are not generally worn by servant-maids, even in creditable families.

It is on account of fashion, and the notions of decorum dependent on fashion, and to avoid giving disgust to the chapel-visitors, that I propose stockings and slippers for Sundays. Slippers in preference to shoes, as helping to keep up the distinction, and being less expensive. Slippers, according to our customs, suit very well the condition of those who it is not intended should ever be absent from home. But in the East, they are worn at all times in preference to shoes.

As to the rest, see the title of Health and Cleanliness.


A word or two, merely to set the manager at liberty on the article of bedding. More unlegislative minuteness—more unthrifty fixation. Each prisoner is to have a bedstead; that bedstead is to be iron; the sheets are to be one or more; they are to be hempen; there is to be a coverlet; there are to be blankets; there are to be two or more of them, and they are to be coarse. Why a bedstead at all events, and that of iron, by act of parliament? Not that there is any harm in giving prisoners iron bedsteads: it is what I might, for aught I know, give them myself, if it depended upon me. Here, again, what is the object?—comfort, or economy? The former gains nothing, and the latter suffers by it. Spite of the act, your bedstead, though of iron, may be so dear as to be an unfrugal one, or so scanty as to be an uncomfortable one. Procrustes, were he manager, would find nothing in it against his bed. Is it that iron is the cheapest material for bedsteads? A contractor, then, had it been left to him, would have employed it. But it is not cheaper: a wooden one of the same size may be had for less money; and a bedstead, even a wooden one, will last for ages.

But why force bedsteads upon the manager at all? Is it so certain that they will be preferable to hammocks? Is it so certain that they will be cheaper? Will they be warmer? Will they require less bedding? Will they take up so much less room? Is there anything in hammocks inconsistent with good health? Had the immortal crews of the Resolution and Adventure anything else to lie on? Can hammocks, any more than iron bedsteads, harbour bugs?

Why matting? Is it that you are afraid of their having feather-beds? My contractor would ease you of your fears. Why matting, and not straw? Matting is not so favourable to cleanliness as straw. Matting, being a manufacture, costs something to make, and cannot be shifted every week or fortnight, on account of the expense: straw might; the more easily, because, having performed this service, it might be applied to other uses with little loss of value.

Sheets, why hempen at all events? If flaxen be cheaper, why have hempen ones? If dearer, what fear is there that the governor, if he undertook the business by contract, would allow them?

Blankets, too—to what end speak of blankets and coverlets, and enact that the blankets shall be “coarse,” leaving the coverlet to be of eider-down? Peculation or extravagance might give each man blankets by dozens, and those of beaver or vigogna wool, for anything there is here to prevent it: avarice might starve him with a worn-out linen coverlet, two thread-bare blankets, and those not worth picking off a dunghill.


Hints relative to this subject are not noble Edition: current; Page: [158] in themselves; but they are ennobled by the end.

1. No blowing of noses but with a handkerchief.

2. No spitting, but in a handkerchief or spitting-box.

3. No tobacco in any shape.

4. Washing of hands and face at rising and going to bed.

5. Washing of hands immediately before and after each meal.

6. Washing of feet at going to bed.

7. Hair of the head to be shaved or cropt: if shaved, to be kept clean by washing; if cropt, by brushing.

8. Bathing to be regularly performed: in summer once a-week; in spring and autumn once a-fortnight; in winter once a-month.*

9. Shirts clean twice a-week.

10. Breeches washed once a-week: coats and waistcoats once a-month in summer; once in six weeks in spring and autumn; and once in winter: sheets, once a-month: blankets, once in summer.

11. Clothes all white, and undyed: by this means they can contract no impurity which does not show itself.

Observations.—Much of the regimen on this head must of course be arbitrary: it may be tightened by some—it may be relaxed by others, and yet nobody to blame.

Nothing like all this nicety with regard to cleanliness can be necessary to health: in some points, it is more than is practised by persons of the highest stations and of the greatest delicacy. But the great use of it is to ensure success to the plan of chapel-visitation, in which view it is absolutely necessary to prevent everything that can give disgust to any of the senses. To get a bow straight, bend it, says the proverb, the opposite way.

This part of the regimen has even a higher object. Between physical and moral delicacy, a connexion has been observed, which, though formed by the imagination, is far from being imaginary. Howard and others have remarked it. It is an antidote against sloth, and keeps alive the idea of decent restraint, and the habit of circumspection. Moral purity and physical are spoken of in the same language: scarce can you inculcate or commend the one, but some share of the approbation reflects itself upon the other. In minds in which the least grain of Christianity has been planted, this association can scarce fail of having taken root: scarce a page of scripture but recalls it. Washing is a holy rite: those who dispute its spiritual efficacy, will not deny its physical use. The ablution is typical: may it be prophetic!—Alas! were it but as easy to wash away moral as corporeal foulness!

Here might regulation range, and economy receive no disturbance. Accordingly ... ... shall I say?—No: I will not be spiteful:—but however, so it is, the penitentiary act is silent.

On reception in particular, thorough cleansing in a warm bath—thorough visitation by the surgeon. This in a reception-house without the building. Clothing new from top to toe—the old thoroughly scoured or condemned. Ablution—regeneration—solemnity—ceremony—form of prayer:—the occasion would be impressive. Grave music, if the establishment furnished it; psalmody at least, with the organ. To minds like these (to look no farther,) what preaching comparable to that which addresses itself to sense?


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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [160] 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.

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Every penitentiary-house, it is observed in the Letters, besides being a penitentiary-house, was liable to be an hospital. Every penitentiary-house—I might have added, every Panopticon penitentiary-house more particularly, might be, and ought to be a school—to children at any rate, since so it is, that even that tender age is not exempt either from the punishment, or from the guilt that leads to it; and why not for the illiterate at least among men? Not many surely will there be, even among the adult members of this community, whose education has been so complete as to have left them nothing to learn that could be of use either to their master or to themselves. To read, to write, and to cast accounts—such ordinary branches of instruction might be common to them all. Of such of them as possessed the seeds of any peculiar talent, the valuable qualities might be found out and cultivated. Drawing is of itself a lucrative branch of industry, and might be made assistant to several others. Music, here as elsewhere, might be made an assistant to the productive value of the chapel. If to a just comprehension of his own interest, the contractor should add a certain measure of spirit and intelligence, he will naturally be disposed to put them in possession, according to their several capacities, of every such profitable talent they can be made to acquire. Who can doubt of it?—their acquirements are his gains. Where is the academy of which the master has so strong or so immediate an interest in the proficiency of his pupils?

Instruction being to be administered, at what times of the week and of the day? Two words—Sunday Schools—resolve every difficulty. In them we see a vacant spot, nor that an inconsiderable one, of which instruction in its most respectable branches, intellectual as well as moral and religious, may take possession, without any opposition on the part of economy. Time was wanting for such employments; employments were wanting for this time: both demands are satisfied by a principle so happily established and approved.

Of what nature shall the employment be at those times? Let religion pronounce, the answer cannot be long to seek. Two modes of occupation present themselves: exercises of devotion; and lessons of instruction in such acquirements as are capable of being inlisted in the service of devotion. That the whole extent of the time could not be exclusively appropriated to the former purpose, is obvious enough: the very sentiment is more than will be to be found, until it be planted by instruction, in such corrupt and vacant minds. Paternosters in incessant repetition, with beads to number them, may fill up, if you insist upon it, the whole measure of the day: but the words, instead of being signs of pious thoughts, would be but so many empty sounds—and the beads without the words would be of equal efficacy.

I speak under correction: but for my own part, I must confess, that among arts capable of being employed in the service of religion, I see none that need be excluded, even on this consecrated day, so long as they are actually and faithfully occupied in that service. Among the most obvious are those already mentioned in a more general view; especially that branch of music which has received the name of psalmody. And if arts of a more refined and privileged texture, such as that of design in any of its numerous branches, could find admittance into so unpolished a society, why should they be excluded even on that day, so long as they wear the habit of the day?*

Mode of Airing and Exercising on Sundays.—To take their lessons they repair, when season and weather permit, to a kind of open amphitheatre in the airing-yard, of which, if necessary, there may be several, placed between the walks of the airing-parade—for which once more see the figure. The form of this erection is circular, with part of the circle cut off as by a secant, in which the instructor stations himself so as to have none of his pupils behind him, nor out of his view. Over the seats may be thrown occasionally a canvass awning, supported by iron pillars, with flaps to let down on the weather side, in case of violent wind or rain. If these flaps be not let down, or not let down on the side towards the look-out, the prisoners in their school are open to the eyes not only of the schoolmaster, but of the inspectors stationed in that exterior lodge. But at the worst, the vicinity of these armed protectors averts from the instructor every idea of danger.

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It is not a very slight degree of cold, nor a slight measure of bad weather, that should exclude them, on this only day out of seven, from the healthful influence of the open air. But in case of absolute necessity, the business of reformatory instruction may be transferred to the chapel, there to be carried on between or after the times of divine service.

Introduced into the middlemost inspection-gallery by the correspondent traversing-staircase, in the same order as into the airing-parade, and with similar precautions, they take their stations in the chapel-area and lower-gallery attached to it, two armed inspectors having first stationed themselves in the gallery above. Their station gained, the doors by which they have been discharged into it from the circumambient inspection-gallery are locked.* The schoolmaster may either occupy the clerk’s place under the pulpit, or quit it and go round to them, according to the nature of the instruction to be conveyed.


Of ventilation, considered as a part of the regimen, little need be said. In the cold season the process is carried on, and that in perfection, by the apparatus employed for warming: and even in warm weather, where no artificial heat is introduced, the same structure can scarce fail of ensuring the same effect. Were it otherwise, nothing more easy than to keep the windows open, especially on Sundays, and on week-days at airing times, when the prisoners are absent from their respective cells. In other prisons, comfort and health are at variance; and the preference given by uncultivated minds to present feelings over remote considerations, renders the enforcement of this part of the discipline more or less precarious. In a Panopticon, in this as in almost all other articles, transgression is impossible.

For shading in very hot weather, a strip of canvass to each window may be necessary in the greater part of the circuit.

Of the apparatus contrived for warming, a part might, if it were ever worth while, be made subservient to the opposite purpose. A cellar might occasionally be taken into the aëriduct spoken of in the section on warming, and in this cellar as in any other, there might be ice.


Example for Working Days.
MEALS (two in a day),
Airing and exercise in the wheel for those employed in sedentary work within doors, at two different times, in the whole, at least 1
Sedentary work, 14
Example for Sundays and Church-Holidays.
Meals, 2
Sleep, 11
Morning service, 1
Evening service, 1
Schooling—including catechising and psalmody, 9

Out of the time for sedentary work may be taken the small portion that will be necessary for the cleansing of the cells on ordinary days, and the more thorough cleansing to be given in the afternoon of Saturdays. As the cleansing could not so well be performed by candle-light, nor work done after the cleansing, whatever time remained after this latter operation might be bestowed on schooling. The time applied to the latter purpose would, of course, vary according to Edition: current; Page: [163] the season; but in such variation there would be no inconvenience.

Is the time allowed for meals too little? Half an hour for breakfast, and an hour for dinner, is an allowance common among working people in a state of freedom. My boarders, let it be remembered, have not two courses and a dessert: my workmen have not to go to a distance for their repast. Is the number of meals in a day too small? It is twice as great as that in use among the people of antiquity: it is twice as great as that which satisfied Homer’s kings.

Is the time allowed for sleep too little? Lord Coke does not allow his student so much by a third.* Did he mean to subject his pupil, the darling of his affection, a youth of birth and education, to hardships, and to hardships too severe to be imposed on felons? Lord Coke knew what a man engaged in sedentary occupations wanted; he spoke from experience. The condition of my felons is, in this respect, twice or thrice as eligible as that of many an honest servant at an inn.

Are 14 hours out of 24 too many for even a sedentary trade? Not more than what I have seen gone through in health and cheerfulness in a workhouse by honest poor.

This sketch, let it be observed, is offered rather in the way of example, than in the shape of a peremptory rule. All I mean to represent as fixed, nor with that unrelenting rigour, is the time for meals and sleep: as to everything else, the proportions may be infinitely diversified, according to particular convenience.

Fifteen hours in the day employed in lucrative occupations: for, in this regimen, be it never forgotten, even the time found for health is not lost to industry. Fifteen hours out of the twenty-four, without the smallest hardship, and that all the year round; not much less, as we have seen, than double the quantity thus employed in the establishments contrived at such an immense expense for the extraction of forced labour.

Let it not be forgotten, meal times are times of rest: feeding is recreation. Even change of work, especially if from gymnastic to sedentary, is repose, not to speak of recreation.

The four and twenty hours a field for discovery! could any one have thought it? Five, six, seven, precious hours, out of fifteen, thrown away as offal! Such is the account rendered by the authors of the penitentiary act, of the talents committed to their charge!

Seven hours taken from industry, taken even from health, yet not added even to comfort, not to mention an object so perfectly unthought of as the improvement of the mind.

I say, even from health. By the custom of sleeping, or what is still worse, of lying a-bed awake, to excess, the animal frame is relaxed, the spirits sunk, and the constitution debilitated and impaired; the habit of indolence is at the same time formed and riveted, and the texture of the mind vitiated along with that of the body. This a meliorative, a reformative regimen! I had almost called it a corruptive one. As soon would I turn Macbeth and murder sleep, as thus murder health by smothering it under a pillow.

Whence all this waste of health and time, one may almost say of good morals? Is it to save money? Is it that ingenuity has not yet found out an employment for candle-light that will pay the expense of candles? Those employments at least might be carried on by candle-light, and by very little candle-light, (knitting, for example) which are carried on without eyes. But if nothing in this way could be found for them that would fetch money, they should have light to learn to read, or to write, or even to sing by, rather than consume time and health in shaking or shivering in bed, comfortless and alone, to save consuming candles.

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On this head, I shall not at present be minute: with regard to particulars, a few hints may serve—principles have been laid down in another work.*

Punishments may be increased in number without end, without being increased in severity; they may be diversified with advantage by being adapted to the nature of the case.

One mode of analogy is, the pointing the punishment against the faculty abused: another is, ordering matters so that the punishment shall flow, as of itself, from the offending cause. Outrageous clamour may be subdued and punished by gagging; manual violence, by the strait waistcoat; refusal to work, by a denial of food till the task is done. The Spartan discipline may, on this head, furnish a hint for the management of a penitentiary-house, without pushing the imitation so far as to make want of dexterity a capital offence, or treating British criminals with the degree of severity said to be practised by Spartan parents on their innocent children.

Here, if anywhere, is the place for the law of mutual responsibility to show itself to advantage. Confined within the boundary of each cell, it can never transgress the limits of the strictest justice. Either inform, or suffer as an accomplice. What artifice can elude, what conspiracy withstand, so just, yet inexorable a law? The reproach, which in every other abode of guilt attaches itself with so much virulence to the character of the informer, would find nothing here to fasten upon; the very mouth of complaint would be stopt by self-preservation—“I a betrayer? I unkind? Your’s is the unkindness, who call upon me to smart for your offence, and suffer for your pleasure.” Nowhere else could any such plea support itself—nowhere else is connivance so perfectly exposed to observation. This one stone was wanting to complete the fortress reared by the inspection principle: so many comrades, so many inspectors; the very persons to be guarded against are added to the number of the guards. Observe here, too, another advantage of limited association over absolute solitude. In an ordinary prison, society is a help to transgression: in the cell of a Panopticon, it is an additional security for good behaviour.

Covered with the rust of antiquity, the law of mutual responsibility has stood for ages the object of admiration. Fresh from the hands of Alfred, or whoever else first gave it existence, what was the composition of this celebrated law? Nine grains of iniquity to one of justice. Ten heads of families, with walls, woods, and hills between them, each to answer for the transgressions of every other! How different the case under the dominion of the inspection principle! Here shines justice in unclouded purity. Were the Saxon law to be reduced to the same standard, what would be the founder’s task? To give transparency to hills, woods, and walls, and to condense the contents of a township into a space of 14 feet square.


For the more perfect defence of the surrounding wall, I have already ventured to propose a military guard. Such a species of protection, though altogether foreign to the inspection principle, and less necessary to a Panopticon prison than any other, would not be without its use. It would add to the security, without adding to the expense. As far as the construction of the wall is concerned, it might even save expense; since with this help the height and consequent thickness of that boundary need be no greater than what was necessary to prevent conversation between the centinels without and the prisoners, except in a voice too loud not to be heard by the inspector in the look-out.

Mr. Howard, in competition with his own opinion, to which it gives me pleasure to find my own ideas so conformable—the good Howard.§ with the candour so well suited to his benevolence, produces the counter opinions of two friends of his—the one a worthy man whom I will mention, Dr. Jebb, because he is no more—the other a gentleman of the best intentions, and of the purest zeal for liberty, whom on the present occasion I choose rather to mark by these titles than by his name. According to the one, in no particular or possible circumstance the interference of the established “army should be admitted;” according to the other, “the objections against the military are numerous, obvious, weighty, and irresistibly conclusive.” It is with concern one sees such opinions with respectable names to them, so worded and in print. A man writes naked opinions to a friend to whom he writes any thing: but to the public he gives reasons. As to the “objections,” of which, however “obvious,” none, I must confess, are discernible to my eyes—of these objections, if they weigh any thing, the lightest would have had more weight in it than all this sound. What!—“in no particular or possible circumstance?”—would it have been better Edition: current; Page: [165] that London should have burnt on, than that the military should be employed in putting out the fires?

Upon the subject of this class of men, my notions, though not altogether so heroical, are, like those of the good Howard, much more simple. I would have as few of these regulars as possible; but from these few, as from all other public servants, I would draw as much service as I could. In what respect is the military instrument of domestic peace distinguished from the civil? In being more expert in the business, more efficient, better disciplined, more trained to suffer while it is possible, as well as to act when it is necessary, and in the event of his acting too briskly or too soon, more sure to be forthcoming and made responsible. But if the military, or any other strong and efficient power, is to be employed on any occasion, and against any body, against whom should it be made use of with less scruple, than against felons and their allies?

Is not prevention better than punishment? The better you are seen to be prepared against an attack, the less your danger of sustaining one. Which, then, shews the best countenance against desperadoes and incendiaries—an accidental civil force, or a standing military one? I mean always that sort of standing army which consists of a civil officer commanding a corporal’s guard. Si vis pacem, para bellum, a maxim but too apt to be abused in matters of foreign politics, is surely in no great danger of being misapplied in the politics of a prison—a sort of monarchy which has never yet been noted for plans of conquest, or aggressive enterprise.

It is a matter of subordinate consideration, but surely not altogether undeserving of attention, that a service like this, of all peaceful services the most resembling a service of defensive war, is, with a view to that sort of war, one of the best schools that peace can afford, of military discipline. Among citizens, what sort of enemy so formidable? and what sort of citizen is it least to be regretted that a soldier should be in the habit of looking upon as an enemy?

Add to this, that the more frequently a guard changes, the less in danger it is of being corrupted. Let the change, then, be made a frequent one: the more it is so, the greater the number of those to whose lot it falls to share the benefit of this branch of military practice.

Would not the parade of military rigour help to impress the minds of men without doors with the idea of hard government?—would it not help to widen the distance between the lot of the persons thus coerced, and the condition, not only of the guiltless citizen, but even of the less obnoxious among malefactors? Would it not in this manner add to the terrific influence of the punishment, without adding to the sufferings of those who undergo it? Surely it would: for, once more, who is there that will deny the effect of scenery upon the eyes of the gaping multitude?*

The military guard thus given to the surrounding wall would not supersede the necessity of an unmilitary porter for the gate. Whoever officiated in that capacity ought, for several reasons, to be acquainted with the persons of all who belong to the establishment, and who, as such, may be allowed to pass and repass without examination. He ought likewise to be acquainted with the persons of the prisoners, lest any of them should make their escape in disguise; for instance, by borrowing or stealing the clothes of any of the under officers, or servants, or persons admitted occasionally to work in or about the house.

A centinel, therefore, that is, a soldier continually changing, would not so well answer the purpose. An artisan, whose employment consisted in some sedentary trade—a cobbler or a weaver, for example—might probably be found to accept of it, perhaps without any other recompense than the lodging it would afford; at any rate for less than what would be necessary to pay him for his whole time.


How to make provision for the prisoners at the expiration of their terms?—how to ensure for the future, with least hardship on their part, with due regard to their respective characters and connexions, and at the least expense, their good behaviour and their subsistence? It is time to be short—here follows a slight sketch.

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i. The prisoner not to be discharged but upon one or other of three conditions:—

1. Entering into the land-service.

2. Entering into the sea-service for life.

3. Finding some responsible householder who will be bound in the sum of [£50] for his good behaviour, by a recognisance renewable from year to year; with a stipulation for surrendering the body in case of non-renewal.*

ii. To furnish an inducement capable of engaging not only relations or other particular friends, but strangers, to take upon them such an obligation, authority given to the prisoner to enter into a contract for a term of any length, conferring on his bondsman the powers following, viz.

1. Power of a father over his child, or of a master over his apprentice.

2. In case of escape, powers of recaption, the same as by 17 Geo. II. ch. 5, § 5, in case of vagrants; with penalties for harbouring or Edition: current; Page: [167] enticing, as by 5 Eliz. ch. 4, § 11, in case of persons bound, for want of employment, to serve as servants in husbandry.*

3. The contracting governor of the Panopticon penitentiary-house to be bound to keep the prisoner there, after the expiration of the term, though it should be for life, until discharged in one or other of the three ways just mentioned; and that upon terms, at any rate, not exceeding those on which he would be bound to receive a fresh prisoner:—and so in case of surrender by a bondsman.

4. The prisoner’s parish to be bound, in such case, to give the crown an indemnification, not exceeding the utmost amount of the charge borne by reason of any pauper by that parish.

5. The bondsman to be bound for the maintenance, as well as the good behaviour of the liberated prisoner, during the term of the engagement.

6. The governor of the penitentiary-house to be bound, on failure of the particular bondsman, to the extent of half the penalty specified in his recognisance in case of forfeiture.

7. The governor bound also, on such failure, for the prisoner’s maintenance; but without being obliged to grant him relief on any other terms than those of his returning to the penitentiary-house, or engaging in his service for such time as shall have been agreed on.

8. Such bondsman’s recognisance to be taken before justices in quarter or petty sessions, with power to the governor to oppose and cross-examine, as in the King’s Bench in case of bail.

9. The recognisance to be registered with the clerk of the peace, and annually renewed: upon failure of renewal, the responsibility of the governor to revive, and with it the power of recaption.

10. Power to the governor and the prisoner to enter into a contract of engagement for any number of years, and that before the expiration of the term, subject to attestation before a justice, as in case of enlistment, and examination touching his consent, as in the Common Pleas in case of a feme covert joining in the disposal of an estate.

11. In case of dispute between the governor or any other master-bondsman and any such servant, justices to have cognisance, as at present in case of servants in husbandry.§

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12. Any such contract so made with a prisoner, not to give him a fresh settlement.

13. Power to government to remove to his parish any such remanent remaining on the penitentiary establishment after the expiration of his term.*

14. Power to the parish to bind over to the governor a remanent removed, or liable to removal; and that for a term not exceeding seven years in the first instance, nor one year ever after.

Is there anything wanting in the provision made by this plan?—anything to public security, to economy, to humanity, to justice?

The securing the public against the future ill-behaviour of a discharged convict has hitherto been looked upon as a problem, insoluble except by death, or some other punishment which, under the name of a temporary, should be in effect a perpetual one. The idea of absolute incorrigibility is accordingly the idea which, in many an estimate, stands inseparably annexed to that of a thorough-bred London felon. Be it so: upon this plan, be he ever so incorrigible, the public will have nothing to fear from him, since, till he has given satisfactory proof to the contrary, he will not be let loose. When a suspected person is put under the care of a boatswain or a recruiting serjeant, the public peace, as far as he is concerned, is universally looked upon as sufficiently provided for; and the great diminution thereby supposed to be effected in the proportionable number of crimes is reckoned upon as no inconsiderable compensation to set against the miseries of war. But to put even this security in competition with that which is afforded by the Panopticon discipline, would be doing the latter great injustice. The security afforded by the military discipline, or a still better—such, then, is the assurance which the public obtains of the good behaviour of every individual who has gone through his term in a panopticon penitentiary-house; such alone excepted, for whom the affection of friends may have found particular bondsmen, and who, by the confidence thus reposed in them, have given proofs of a degree of trust-worthiness sufficient to place them, in this respect, on a level rather above than under that of the ordinary run of men.

Will reformation, inward reformation, be, or not be, the result of such a course of discipline? My own persuasion, my full persuasion, and I hope it is not too sanguine a one, is, that with very few, or perhaps no exceptions, it will be found to be so; and that at any rate, in such a period as that of seven years, the very disposition to mischief will be found to have been subdued. But should even the disposition remain, the ability will, at any rate, be chained down; and so long as that is the case, how it is with the disposition, is a question which, to every temporal purpose at least, it is as immaterial as it would be difficult to resolve.

As to economy, the terms on which a man is subsisted cannot in any instance be more disadvantageous to the public than on the present footing; and no bounds are set to the reduction of the disadvantage.

Is there anything wanting in the attention paid to the particular circumstances and feelings of individuals? Merely for want of employment, persons to whom no guilt is imputed may, by the statute of Elizabeth, be forced into service in husbandry, or, by the custom of pressing, enforced by occasional laws, into one or other branch of the military service; and in both cases without any option as to the employment, much less as to the employer. Here, no fewer than four options are given to convicts—options, too, which extend to the very person of the employer. Men accustomed to a style of life superior to that of the common run of those who are obnoxious to this fate, would, under a punishment nominally the same, suffer more than their comrades in effect. Such persons may, by the generosity of a disinterested bondsman, find themselves clear of every obligation of service. A father may thus rescue his son, an uncle a nephew, a brother a brother, from the hardships of a degrading servitude. Independently of such contingencies, prisoners who have either brought a general good character into the house (for even such will not be altogether wanting,) or acquired one there, and are either able to get a livelihood, or provided with friends who would furnish them with one, will be sure of bondsmen: and the faculty of investing the bondsmen with such ample powers will Edition: current; Page: [169] render it so much the easier for the prisoner to find one. The more valuable a member of the community he is become in all respects, the better will his condition be, since he will find employers bidding against one another to obtain him.

Suppose him, for want of particular friends or connexions, engaged with the governor or some other undertaker in a subsidiary panopticon: in what respects would his condition differ from that of ordinary service?—only in the engagements being for a longer term, and putting it out of the power of the servant, by absence or intoxication, to deprive the master of the benefit of his service. In these circumstances, a variety of indulgences would naturally take place: abatements would be made in the number of working-hours; a curtain would guard the times of recreation and repose from the importunity of an inspecting eye; every seventh day would be a day of perfect liberty; the comforts of matrimony would in this situation at any rate lie within reach;—in short, instead of being termed a state of confinement sweetened by indulgences, the justest as well as simplest point of view in which it can be considered is that of a state of free service, only somewhat better guarded than ordinary against misbehaviour and abuse.

I hear an objection—“Your subsidiary panopticon is a receptacle for manufacturers working in numbers under a common roof, and such receptacles are found by experience to be nurseries of vice. The manufactories, the only manufactories favourable to virtue, are the dispersed, the rural manufactories—those which spread themselves over the face of a country, and are carried on in private families by each man within the circle of his little family, in the bosom of innocence and retirement.” Be it so: it may be so, for aught I know. But how great the difference, or rather how striking the contrast, betwixt an ordinary manufactory and one carried on upon the panopticon principle! Is there anything in the air of the country or in the structure of a cottage that renders it inaccessible to vice? is the connexion betwixt virtue and secresy so exclusive? No: the advantage which the domestic manufactory has in this respect, over the most public manufactory, is not to be compared with that which the panopticon discipline has over that of the purest of all manufactories upon every other plan, public or private. In what other house, public or private, can equal security be found for the fidelity of the married, for the chastity of the single, and for the extinction of drunkenness, that murderous infatuation, in comparison of which every thing else that goes by the name of vice is virtue?*

How is it that in public manufactories vice insinuates itself? How? How but for want of the inspecting eye of some one who has the power, and may be made (if he has not already) to have the inclination to suppress it? With respect to drunkenness, above all things, is it possible that such inclination should be wanting to any master?—of all others, to the master of an indented servant? The drunkenness of the servant is the master’s loss: what the one suffers in his health and morals, the other suffers in his purse.

This plan is not altogether so simple as I should have been glad to have found it: but simplicity, though it ought never to be out of our eyes, is not always in our choice. There are other plans, which, at least as far as concerns the option—I should say the no-option—given to the convict, are much more simple: but I leave to whoever is ambitious of it, the praise of purchasing simplicity at the expense of economy, good morals, humanity, and justice.

A plan is good or bad, either simply with relation to the end in view, or comparatively with relation to others directed to the same end.

The end in view here is to ensure the good behaviour and subsistence of convicts after the expiration of their punishment, regard being had to economy, humanity, and justice. If perfection be still at a distance here, shall we find anything nearer to it in the colonization scheme, or the penitentiary act?

Out of 687 convicts, sent to a country from whence return without assistance from government is known to be impossible. 20 had been sentenced for 14 years, 630 for 7 years, 12 but for 5 years (tenderness for the tender sex dictated the limitation here,) 35 only, little more than a twentieth of the number, for life. Was it the intention that, at the expiration of these terms, vessels should be sent out to give effect to the limitation in the sentence? If so, what becomes of the security? and what are we to think of the expense? Was it that they should be left Edition: current; Page: [170] fixed for life on the spot to which they were consigned with such nicety of discrimination, for fourteen, seven, and five years? If so, what is the sentence, or the pretended execution of it, but a mockery of justice?*

Suppose them brought back: what is the provision for them then? None; no more than if they had never been sent there. Suppose them to stay: what is to be the lot of such of them as become chargeable—I mean supposing the time come when there can be any that are not chargeable? Either they are left to starve, or Great Britain is their parish, though they cannot be removed to it. Will their maintenance there cost less, at the distance of seven months sail, than at home?—in a country which has nothing, than in a country which has every thing?

So much for the colonization scheme: what says the penitentiary act?

Decent clothing;—money in a man’s pocket—for a year not more than £3, nor less than 20s.—for a shorter term in proportion; and if anybody will talk of finding employment for him, and he has behaved well, more money to the same amount at the year’s end.

From twenty to sixty shillings at a year’s end? What is that to do? how is it to find a man employment? No employment without an employer: how is it to give him one? what inducement does it hold out to anybody to take upon him that friendly office? None; no powers—no factitious security of any sort, to supply the natural want of confidence. Were employment offered, what obligation, what inducement, to accept of it? They may choose to become beggars, not to say thieves—and what is there to hinder them? If the fear of starving on the spot will not force a man to work, will a few shillings to be received at a year’s end bribe him to it? For whose sake should anybody furnish the employment?—for his own? The act gives him no motive. For the convict’s? No; nor in that way neither. If he will not to save him from starving, will he for the sake of getting him a few shillings, which he is not to have till it has been proved that he can do without it? Of what kind is the employment to be?—one that requires no confidence? The allowance is not wanted: why throw away so much money? If a man has gained an honest livelihood for a year together, what Edition: current; Page: [171] should hinder his continuing to do so? Is confidence necessary? the allowance is of no use. Will the one, two, or three pounds, the convict is to have a year hence, render him trustworthy to-day, in the eyes of any one to whom he would not appear so otherwise?

One man is fortunate enough to have connexions: another man has none. The one gets a friend to say he will take him (for as to engagement it is out of the question;) the other, not. Both live out their year with equal honesty. Why is the former to have all that money, and the latter none of it? why give him who has most merit nothing, while you pay the other for his good fortune? Let him who has the happiness to have friends enjoy the benefit of their friendship: but is he to be rewarded for it too, and that at the public charge?

Decent clothing—so far, so good—a man is not to be turned out naked. But all that money in his pocket—as soon as he is out of the house, what is that for? Is it to furnish him with a few other necessaries besides clothing, such as bedding, household furniture, and tools? One would think so. But if so, how comes the allowance to be pared down and reduced in the inverse ratio of the time he has passed in prison? Will a shorter bed or a smaller table serve a man who has been there but half a year, than him who has been there a whole one? One would think the foundation of the act in this part were the supposition of its own injustice; and that the money, instead of equipment-money, were meant as smart-money. “Poor fellow! You have suffered so much more than such an one: here is so much more for you, to make you amends.”

Set a beggar a-horseback, and the proverb tells you where he will ride. Is the beggar likely to prove the more prudent horseman for having been bred in the school of felony? The penitentiary act sets a whole regiment of such beggars on horseback, and it gives them no master to hold the reins. Men who have given such testimonies of themselves, surely are not much injured in being compared to school-boys. Can prudence, can economy, be expected generally to prevail during the ecstasy that will so naturally mark the period of emancipation? Is not the idlest school-boy he who has the heaviest pocket? What parent, instead of giving the quarter’s board to the master, would give it to the child? Light come, light go, says another proverb, not more familiar than true: the same sum, collected by a man’s own economy, might hope for a better fate.

These little pecuniary allowances do not strike at the root of the difficulty—they do not apply to the right person. In the convict, you see a man in whose breast the passion of the day is accustomed to outweigh the interest of the morrow: in the contracting governor, you have a man who knows what his lasting interest is, and is in the habit of pursuing it.

The means he may have of exercising a desirable influence on the behaviour of the convict, are as powerful as heart can wish: make it his interest to exert that influence, and the object is attained. This man, whom you know, is the man to deal with, and not the convict, of whom you know nothing but what is to his disadvantage. With the latter, it is all nudum pactum—all giving, no receiving: you can stipulate nothing, you can depend upon nothing in return. Strike your bargain with the contracting governor, you have some ground to stand upon; you can get an indemnity in case of disappointment: if your discharged prisoner turns out honest, the object is attained; if otherwise, you get your money back again with interest.

Nothing can be more laudable than the humanity which dictates the provision we have been examining; the misfortune is, that so respectable a motive should not have pitched upon happier means.

The following Note respecting this Work was given by Bentham to Dr. Bowring, 24th January 1821.

The Plates referred to in this work were destroyed by a fire at the printer’s.* An improved plan of construction is shown in a small plate inserted in the work entitled “Pauper Management improved.”

The main body of the Panopticon was sent to the press at Dublin by Sir John Parnell, at that time Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. Sir John Parnell tried in vain to obtain the adoption of the plan in Ireland. Mr. Pitt, with his colleague Mr. Dundas (afterwards Lord Melville,) laboured, and with like success, in England. The design of building a Panopticon prison lingered from 1791 to 1813, when, by the erection of another prison, without any of the advantages, and more than ten times the expense, it was finally extinguished. George the Third was inexorable. He had been irritated at the author by the Edition: current; Page: [172] guished. George the Third was inexorable. He had been irritated at the author by the Plan for the Judicial Establishment in France; and before that, anno 1789, by two letters in a morning paper signed Anti-Machiavel, written against the war in which the King laboured without success to engage the nation against Russia. To the first of those letters appeared an answer, which the Earl of Shelburne, who had been Secretary of State, and after that Prime Minister, and at that time had his connexions in the King’s family, gave the author to understand was written by the King himself.

After delays upon delays, an act of Parliament was passed, by which the faith of Parliament was pledged to the author for the adoption of his plan; and at last, in 1813, another act to authorise the violation of that pledge. To prepare for this violation, a Committee of the House of Commons had been got up by the Secretary of State, Lord Sidmouth. The plan had been recommended by the famous Finance Committee of 1797-8, of which Mr. Abbott, afterwards Speaker, now Lord Colchester, was chairman. A contract had been entered into, and in consequence the author put into possession of a spot of land. For the commencement of the business, the signature of George III. was necessary; after an unexampled delay of three weeks, that signature was at length peremptorily refused. The official correspondence on the subject would fill a volume. To the all accessible and inspectable prison in question, Lord Sidmouth has substituted a Bastile, not to be visited, without his order, even by constituted authorities.

While nations consent to put into any hands an uncontroulable power of mischief, they may expect to be thus served.

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A PLAN exhibiting the idea of a mode of Fortification adapted to Prisons: containing—1. Mode of forming the Approach; 2. Application of the Inspection Principle to the External Area attached to a Panopticon; 3. Mode of guarding against attempts on the surrounding Walls;—also representing the mode in which three Panopticons might be connected under one Establishment.




A B C D-represents a Panopticon, with the area belonging to it, inclosed by a general surrounding wall.

E, the Approach; contracted at the entrance, that it may be the more easily guarded by a sentinel or gate-keeper. Next to him is a small Gate, opening into a Foot-path; next to that a larger Gate, at which carriages are to enter; then a similar one at which they are to go out; beyond that again, a Footway, into which no opening is made, as being too far from the gate-keeper’s station to be under his guard. The gates may be of iron, in order to be seen through from the house; and ten feet high, so as not to be climbed over but with great difficulty: to increase which, they might be crowned with a broad projecting coping.

S, a Lamp-post, or some such object, by way of central mark to direct carriages in turning.

I I, Two Gates, one on each side of the Approach, opening into the part of the area allotted to exterior offices, and officers’ gardens. They are of iron, that they may be seen through from the house.

F, a Wall, serving, in case of an attack, to guard the country behind from the fire of musquetry from the house.

Between E and F, the ordinary Road.

Between F and G, a branch of the road, by which peaceable passengers may pass under shelter at the time of an attack.


A B K K, Space allotted for Airing Yards, to exemplify the mode of marking out divisions for the reception of different classes of prisoners.—N. B. It is not supposed that so many would be necessary; the number here given is put only by way of example.

L, a Look-out or Inspection Lodge, from whence a single inspector may inspect all the yards.

M L, a Covered Way, through which an inspector may pass from the building and back again, without the knowledge of the prisoners.

C C, Circular Yard, encompassing the look-out, and affording a common approach to all the yards.

A C, Uncovered Passage for the Male Prisoners to the central yard.

B C, Ditto Ditto for Females to ditto.

Between the walls are iron gates, not so high as to impede in any degree the inspectors’ view. The partition walls project beyond the gates into the central yard, to prevent prisoners in different yards from holding converse.

F K C D, Space for Exterior Offices and Gardens.


V1 V2, Two Guard-houses, each flanking the paths of two sentinels. That towards the yards (V2) might have a storey so high as to command them; and it might have a communication with them not to be used but in case of alarm: for instance, by an underground passage, opening into the commanding officer’s apartment, or by a ladder kept under lock, he alone keeping the key.

To prevent all converse, however distant, between the soldiers and the prisoners, it should have no windows looking out into any part of the yards; for which reason it is also detached from the wall, and placed at the greatest distance from the female prisoners.

The double line encompassing the surrounding wall, represents a slight Pallisado, to prevent passengers from approaching the wall without putting themselves into the predicament of delinquents. The dotted line represents the Walks of the sentinels: each walk is extended in such manner as to cross and flank two others, that each sentinel may have two others to check him.


N H O, Road forming the communication between the central and two lateral Panopticons.—N. B. In this case the walls H H, as to that part of each which crosses and blocks up the road, must be conceived to be away; as also the whole of the walls A C and B D.

A K X T, Additional Space for Airing Yards, upon the supposition of a second Panopticon.

B K P R, Ditto, upon supposition of a third ditto.

d. e. f. g. Communications for the second and third Panopticons with the Look-out L, similar to those from the first. (N. B. It is to prevent confusion, that they are thus cut off in the draught.) Had they been projected straight forward, like those from the first, they could not have joined the look-out without being bent towards it in an angle, which would have concealed more or less of the area from the inspectors’ view. It is to avoid the same inconvenience that the walls at X and P are brought forward almost to a tangent to the circle, instead of being placed nearer to the diameter; for example, in the same direction as the walls K K.

X W C, Additional Space for Offices and Gardens, upon supposition of a second Panopticon.

P Q D, the same, upon supposition of a third Panopticon.

N. B.—The walls should all of them be rounded off at their junctions, as at T R Q, &c., to avoid giving the assistance which angles afford in climbing.

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In a Letter addressed to the Right Honourable Lord Pelham.

My Lord,

The letter of which these printed pages form a part, was begun in the view of its being submitted to your Lordship in manuscript. Destined to represent the treatment experienced during a period of eight or nine years from the servants of the crown, by a plan that has twice at their own solicitation received the sanction of parliament—(the second time, after urgent reasons given by the committee on finance for the continually professed execution of it, and no reasons ever given by any body for the suspension of it)—the history had advanced to that stage, in which, for the first time, a disposition to “relinquish” the plan now termed a “project” (after a contract drawn, and land purchased in execution of it)—degraded thus from a plan to a project—had been avowed. Now, lately having, through an authentic channel, received intimation of an intention on your Lordship’s part to “converse on the subject with the Lord Chancellor and the Judges;” it occurred to me, that whatever opinion, if any, were eventually to be obtained from any such high and ever revered authority, any such opinion would not be the less instructive, if in this, as in other instances, it were to have had the opportunity of grounding itself on such evidence as the nature of the case afforded.

After this explanation, I proceed to submit to your Lordship that part of the originally intended address which bears more particularly upon the point in question, detaching it on the spur of the occasion from whatever was originally designed to precede or follow it.*

Fourth and last ground for the relinquishment of the Penitentiary system: “The improved state of the colony of New South Wales.

Of the three other grounds the inanity has been displayed: there remains this single ground to bear the strain of the whole measure—I mean, not of the penitentiary establishment, but of the relinquishment of it.

To justify the predilection shewn for the distant establishment, and the use thus made of that predilection, those who have taken upon themselves to make this collateral use of it, have two propositions to make good:

1st, That of the two rival modes of punishment—the punishment by transportation to New South Wales, and the punishment by confinement under the intended penitentiary establishment—the former is the preferable one.

2d, That it is to such a degree preferable, as to justify the laying aside the other altogether, and inclusively the imposing on the public that expense—expense in all its shapes—money, public faith, character of public men—with which the ultimate sacrifice of the thus long suspended establishment would be attended.

The first proposition is the leading one: in this is contained the principal point in issue: this being determined in the negative, the other will be superseded. How, then, shall it be tried? by analytical investigation, supported Edition: current; Page: [174] by specific evidence? or by vague assertion, supported by a few customary phrases? “In the former mode, certainly,” says a voice, which I recognise for your Lordship’s, being that of reason and justice—by the former mode, as being the only true one, how far soever it may be from being either the more generally commodious of the two or the more usual.

The two rival systems in question being systems of punishment, whichever of the two is the preferable one, must be that which will prove to be so on joint reference to the several objects or ends of penal justice.

Objects or ends of penal justice, five:

1st, Example—prevention of similar offences on the part of individuals at large, viz. by the repulsive influence exercised on the minds of bystanders by the apprehension of similar suffering in case of similar delinquency.

2dly, Reformation—prevention of similar offences on the part of the particular individual punished in each instance, viz. by curing him of the will to do the like in future.

3dly, Incapacitation—prevention of similar offences on the part of the same individual, by depriving him of the power to do the like.

4thly, Compensation or satisfaction, viz. to be afforded to the party specially injured where there is one.*

These four from Blackstone and from everybody: to these four I will venture to add a fifth, Economy. The four first, direct ends—ends to which the several measures adopted ought to tend in a direct course; the last, an indirect or collateral end—a mark which, though not the direct object of any such measure, ought not to be departed from to any greater distance, than the pursuit of the other direct ends shall be found to render unavoidable.

The list of these objects belongs to the A B C of legislation: if the application of it to practice had been equally familiar, your Lordship will judge whether it would have been possible the country should ever have seen any such establishment as Mr. Pitt’s and the Duke of Portland’s “improved colony of New South Wales.”

Assuming these five to be what without dispute they ought to be, the common objects of both systems, let us consider each object by itself; and calling in the two systems, one after another, hear what each promises to perform, or may be considered as having performed, towards the attainment of that common end.

I. First object—Example—prevention of future offences by means of it. What, in the first place, is the course taken for this purpose by the colonial, the transportation system? The convicts and their punishment are removed by it to the antipodes, as far as possible out of the view of the aggregate mass of individuals, on whose minds it is wished that the impression should be made.

What is the course taken in the same view by the penitentiary system—Scene of punishment, the vicinity of the metropolis—the very spot which contains the greatest number of spectators of all descriptions, and in particular of those in whose instance there is the strongest reason for wishing that the impression may be made.

Plan of management—such as has for its object the pointing the impression by all imaginary contrivances to this end, the strengthening it by all apposite means, the multiplying by every imaginable device the number of the visitors and spectators—a perpetual and perpetually interesting drama, in which the obnoxious characters shall in specie, at any rate, be exposed to instructive ignominy, the individuals being with equal facility capable of being exposed to it, or screened from it, as, in the judgment of those to whom it belongs to judge, may be deemed most eligible upon the whole.

II. Second object—Reformation. Under this head, what, in the first place, does the “improved colony?” Delinquency, in the case of offences in general, and the class of offences here in question more particularly, may be considered as having for its positive and primary cause, a sort of morbid sensibility with reference to those enjoyments and those sufferings or uneasinesses, the pursuit or avoidance of which have respectively given birth to the offence. It may be considered, again, as having for its negative and secondary cause, the absence of those peculiar appropriate restraints, from which, had they been present, that vicious propensity might have received an efficacious check. Delinquents, especially of the more criminal descriptions, may be considered as a particular class of human beings, that, to keep them out of harm’s way, require for a continued length of time that sort of sharp looking after, that sort of particularly close inspection, which all human Edition: current; Page: [175] beings, without exception, stand in need of, up to a certain age. They may be considered as persons of unsound mind, but in whom the complaint has not swelled to so high a pitch as to rank them with idiots or lunatics. They may be considered as a sort of grown children, in whose instance the mental weakness attached to non-age continues, in some respects, beyond the ordinary length of time.*

To this mental debility it is the characteristic feature of the system in question—transportation to a new planted colony—to be radically incapable of administering that corrective aid which, in the case in question, is so perfectly indispensable. Field husbandry is, under this system, the principal employment—field-husbandry carried on by individuals or heads of families, each occupying a distinct dwelling, the interior of which is altogether out of the habitual reach of every inspecting eye. At sleeping times, meal times, times of recreation, no inspection whatsoever: even at working times, none but what is imperfect, interrupted, and accidental. Hence no preventive check to those propensities, the peculiar strength of which has been but too plainly demonstrated by the offence by which the individual was conducted to the scene of punishment—propensities, the indulgence of which is either itself a crime, or introductory to those vicious habits which are regarded as the immediate sources of crimes—sloth, drunkenness, gaming, venereal irregularities, profaneness, quarrelsomeness, mischievousness, rapacity.

Thus, then, on the ground of controul to vicious propensities, stands the parallel between the transportation system and the penitentiary system—the transportation system according to the New South Wales edition of it—the penitentiary system according to that edition of it to which, even in the act of sacrificing it on the altar of secret influence, no man ever durst take upon him to refuse the application of an improved one. Colonizing-transportation-system: characteristic feature of it, radical incapacity of being combined with any efficient system of inspection. Penitentiary system: characteristic feature of it, in its original state, frequent and regular inspection; in its extraordinary and improved state, that principle of management carried to such a degree of perfection as till then had never been reached, even by imagination, much less by practice.

Inspection, the only effective instrument of reformative management, being thus essentially inapplicable, and the founders of the colonial system having thus given themselves the nature of things to fight against, they set about it at their ease. Reformation, it was understood, is a species of manufacture: like other manufactures, it requires its particular capital or stock in trade: the assortment being good, that is, in sufficient quantity, and of the accustomed quality, the business will go on in regular course like other businesses. Different sorts of workmen must be got, most of them in red clothes; but to complete the set, there must be some in black, and these must have a particular sort of workshop to themselves, with tools belonging to it. Accordingly, an assortment was provided, not only of officers, civil and military, but of ministers of religion. Besides soldiers, and barracks, and guns, there were to be, and were accordingly, sooner or later, in a proportion more or less adequate, chaplains, and chapels, and good books. Thus far the head reformers saw: farther than this, it was not given them to see. Would the books be read? the chapels visited? the chaplains heard? That was the concern of the chaplains when they got there. Was it in the nature of the case, that any of these events should ever happen? a wild, speculative, out of the way question this—quite out of the line of practice. With great submission, however, to better judgment, it would not, I will venture to say, have been altogether an irrelevant one: a trigger is scarce pulled before the breath may be driven out of a refractory body; but to purify a corrupted heart, especially where nothing is to be got by purifying it, is an operation not quite so simple or so sure.

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Circumstances so favourable to a system of incapacity and negligence, could scarce in any other case have presented themselves. The measure was, indeed, a measure of experiment, and experiment is that sort of operation which calls for the exercise of all sorts of faculties: but the subject-matter of experiment was, in this peculiar case, a peculiarly commodious one—a set of animæ viles—a sort of excrementitious mass, that could be projected, and accordingly was projected—projected, and as it should seem, purposely—as far out of sight as possible.

Turn now, my Lord, to the penitentiary system; in which, if the principles pursued as above, are to be considered as the standard of orthodoxy, the scent of heresy must be acknowledged to be but too strong. In a Panopticon penitentiary system, supposing religion to be really a source of benefit—supposing it good for anything beyond a show—men would have had the full benefit of it. Church attendance would there have neither been forcible nor yet eludible. The presence of my chaplain it would have been little less possible for them to fly from, than from that of the Almighty whom he served. Unable, neither would they have wished, to fly from it. It would have been adorned and fortified by those accompaniments which, in ministering to this branch of instruction, would have combined with it as much appropriate and congenial entertainment, as inventive industry could contrive to bring together in a situation from which every rival attraction might so effectually be excluded. Yes, my Lord, my whole treasury of artifices would have been ransacked for contrivances to render the tuition as interesting as possible to the pupils; my whole dispensary would have been rummaged for sweets and conserves, to render the physic of the soul as palatable as possible to a class of patients in whom the need of it is so eminently deplorable. Nothing which, in the judgment of my superiors ad hoc in the spiritual college, should, in consideration of its conduciveness to the end, stand approved, or though but tolerated, Edition: current; Page: [177] would, on account of the novelty of it, have been shrunk from, or on account of the expense of it, have been grudged. Valeat quantum valere potest, would have been my maxim; and that (mistake me not, my Lord) not as a pretence for indifference and neglect, but as a memento and a spur to attention and to activity. Men who have the interests of religion most at heart, and whose endeavours have been most conspicuously bent to the turning it to the best possible account in the way of practice—such are the men my hopes had always pointed to for counsel and support. Such, my Lord, were veneficia mea—my pious frauds: the stock of them, I assure your Lordship, was not a scanty one. Delinquency (if—and—would have given leave)—delinquency in habit, in act, even in idea, would have been shut out; shut out, not merely by spiritual bars, by moral bars, by legal bars, but by physical ones.

In no point did my system rest itself upon cold forms. In body, in mind, in every way, if my patients suffered, I suffered with them. By every tie I could devise, my own fate had been bound up by me with theirs. Vicinity to the public eye—vicinity was the object with me, not distance. Recluse by inclination, popular at the call of duty, I did not shun the light—I courted it. Self-devoted to the task of unremitting inspection, it would have been a reward to me, not a punishment, to be as unremittingly inspected.

Thus, in so far as reformation is concerned, stands the comparison between the two systems, on the ground of general principles or theory, if a word so much in disgrace with men in whose vocabulary practice is synonymous with wisdom, may for the moment be endured. A theory is, indeed, no farther good than in so far as its indications receive, as occasion serves, the confirmation of experience. But experience, though an instructive guide, is apt to be a costly one. In the present instance, in the compass of ten or eleven years, it had cost, four or five years ago, upwards of a million:* by this time little less, probably, than a million and a half; of which near the odd million (as your Lordship will see) might have been saved, and with it the shame of a project, involving in its very essence the impossibility of success, saved, together with lives by hundreds, and crimes and immoralities without account, if antecedently to the experiment, in addition to the tongue of an orator, there had been an eye at the treasury, capable of reading in the book of human nature.

Under a system of suppression persevered in, spite of parliamentary warnings, for these ten years, from what source shall the testimony of experience be collected? Happily a more competent, a more instructive, a more authentic source: a source, in any point of view, more valuable, could scarce have been wished for, than that which the public, during the sleep of superior office, has been put in possession of by an eye-witness—the professed moral historiographer of the colony, the late Judge Advocate, Captain Collins. Nor yet simply the historiographer, but the panegyrist, the professed panegyrist likewise: a character which, when accompanied, as in this instance, with that candour and those internal marks of correct veracity with which it is so rare for it to be accompanied, renders the testimony, in this point of view, more than doubly valuable.

Fortunate it is, that whether from firmness in one quarter, or from negligence in another, the principle of suppression has passed by a mass of information that renders its exertions elsewhere of little use. The work is dedicated, and dedicated by permission, to the late Lord Sydney: in great letters, the title of “Patron of the work,” as well as that of “Originator of the plan of Colonization,” are conferred upon the noble lord. “To your patriotism,” says the panegyrist to the patron, “the plan presented a prospect of political and commercial advantage.” “The following pages,” continues the worthy magistrate, with perfect simplicity and unquestionable truth, “will serve to evince with how much wisdom the measure was suggested and conducted; with what beneficial effects its progress has been attended; and what future benefits the parent country may with confidence anticipate.”

In the preface, he concludes with acknowledging himself to be “anxiously solicitous to obtain” for the colony “the candid consideration of his countrymen; among whom,” he says, “it has been painful to him to remark a disposition too prevalent for regarding it with odium and disgust.” ... ... “Its utility consists,” according to him, in, that “besides the circumstance of its freeing the mother country from the depraved branches of her offspring, in some instances reforming their dispositions, and in all cases rendering their labour and talents conducive to the public good, it may prove a valuable nursery to our East India possessions for soldiers and seamen.” ... ... He speaks of a time in which “he began to think ... ... that some account of the gradual reformation of such flagitious characters, as had by many” (he very candidly adds, “and those not illiberal”) “persons in this country been considered as past the probability of amendment, might not be unacceptable.” So Edition: current; Page: [178] far the magistrate historian: as to the flagitious characters, there is no want of them; but as to any evidence of their reformation, here and there a white blackamoor excepted, it is all of it in his wishes—there is none of it in his book. How far the general conceptions, thus conveyed in the preface, are in agreement with the rigid truth of things, will appear from the more specific statements collected a little farther on, at the bottom of the page. For these little inadvertencies, if such they should prove, the interests of the public service are but so much the more in the author’s debt; since, if confining himself to the province for which he appears so eminently qualified, the superior province of the historian, he had left the task of the panegyrist to inferior hands, the satisfaction which, as matters stand, I flatter myself with being able to afford your Lordship on this ground, might have been less complete.

Of passages to the like effect with those which are here transcribed, enough might have been found to fill a volume. Those which are given here are selected as exhibiting the condition of the colony at the latest points of time; this being the stage at which the reforming tendency of the discipline, had it possessed any such tendency, had had the longest time to operate. General statements and observations are moreover preferred to histories of individual criminals, or crimes, partly out of deference to the logical rule, syllogizari non est ex particulari—partly because the particular anecdotes of this kind, being the materials of which a very considerable part of that large but interesting work are composed, could not possibly have been comprised within the limits prescribed by the object of this address.

The persons spoken of as reformed, are for the most part spoken of by name: in number they would scarcely, I think, be found to exceed a score—certainly not double that number, even including the many backsliders. The number of the unreformed is to that of these reformed characters, as a hundred or so to one. A bettermost sort of rogue—a man in whom on any occasion the smallest degree of confidence can be reposed, appears in that country to be beyond comparison a scarcer animal than a black swan. One thing the historian is clear in, that as to all but the few lusus naturæ thus distinguished, the longer they stay in that scene of intended reformation, and the more they are left to themselves (that is, the more entirely they are left to the separate influence of the pure principle of colonization, without any admixture of its discarded rival, the principle of inspection,) the worse they are; those who have the yoke of bondage still about their necks being a sort of half honest, half sober, half provident profligates, in comparison of those called settlers whose term is at an end.*

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Reformation being the topic at present on the carpet, it is to this that the present string of extracts will therefore be confined. The other topics glanced at in the passages quoted out of Mr. Collins’ preface, belong to the head of incapacitation—I mean with reference to the commission of fresh offences within the limits of the mother country: to incapacitation, I say, and economy. The merits of the plan in relation to these objects, will be considered apart, under their respective heads.

Such was the state of the “improved colony” in September 1796, at the termination of the period comprised in the first and already published history of Mr. Collins. A continuation from the same able and candid hand is Edition: current; Page: [180] promised (I see) by the public prints, for a time which may perhaps have arrived before these pages of mine have reached your Lordship’s eye.

What subsequent improvements the colony may have received in relation to this same head, is a point on which I cannot pretend to any information from that source.*

In the mean time, so far as concerns general results, which are all your Lordship would endure to see crowded into this place, accident has put into my hands two testimonies of no mean account. In one respect they have the advantage of any which even your Lordship’s authority could command: they are in each instance the uninfluenced and undisguised effusions of the pen, committed to paper without the idea of being made subservient to this or any other public purpose. They wear no factitious colours; neither of that flattering cast which is so apt to give a tinge to the smallest piece of paper that can ever find its way from any such quarter to your Lordship’s office, nor yet of the opposite cast.

The first is an extract of a letter from Captain Hunter, at that time Governor of the colony. The date of it is the 20th of May 1799: about two and a half years had been at that time added to the experience reported by Captain Collins:—

Sydney, New South Wales, 20th May 1799.

“The fatigue to which the Governor of this territory must submit, both mental and corporeal, is far beyond any idea you can have of the nature of his duty rendering such fatigue necessary in the Commander in chief.

“My former knowledge and acquaintance with this country encouraged me in a hope, which, however, in some respects proved delusive, that I should, with ease to myself, and with proper effect and advantage to the public, have been able to manage all the duties of my office. But I had not been long entered upon it, before I was awakened from that dream of comfort and satisfaction, the prospect of which I had so vainly indulged. The seeds of those vexations which had so disappointed me, had been sown for a very considerable time, and being rather of a prolific nature amongst such people, had gained so much strength, that it will require immense labour to grub them up by the root.

“I have persisted in my attempt to that end, and mean not to change my system; which, be assured, from being calculated to lay restraints upon every species of vice and immorality, cannot amongst such characters be a very popular one: that, however, will be a matter of no immediate concern with me, if I succeed only in a small degree to check the growing profligacy and abandoned turn of the lower classes of the people.

“This is a good country, and will do well, but its progress in improvement would be considerably hastened, could government be prevailed upon not to overstock us with the worst description of characters; for, whilst the mass of the people continue to be of that class, our difficulties will ever be very considerable: the industrious and well-disposed become a continual prey to the idle and worthless.

It was not to myself that this letter was addressed, neither had I then, nor have I since, had the honour of any personal acquaintance with the gentleman from whom it came. It was a letter perfectly spontaneous, addressed to a person with whom he had never before had any written intercourse.

Your Lordship sees what it is the governor of the improved colony, down to that time, could find to speak of—great labours, no successes. Could any thing have been found that could have been made to wear the appearance, though it were but of a half success, would it have been passed unnoticed? Meantime, if in the line of moral improvement the governor made such small advance, it was not (if the governor himself, or the judge advocate is to be believed) for want of trying it.

The country (your Lordship sees) is a “good country;” but the word good might lead to conclusions rather wide from truth, if a distinction were not to be made between God Almighty’s works and * * * * *’s. To its Almighty Creator is it indebted for those capabilities which neither neglect nor mismanagement can deprive it of: the use made of them had been depending upon * * * * *. Your Lordship sees upon what condition its chance of improvement depended—(in the opinion of the governor at least, upon whom everything had been depending under * * * *;) upon its not being applied to the chief, if not the only purpose for which it had been established, and for which it continues to be kept up: the purpose, with reference to which, according to * * * * *, it was so much superior to everything else. By the Edition: current; Page: [181] governor, after all the labours of which he speaks so feelingly, the nature of things could not be changed. While those who have become bad for want of inspection, remain without any inspection,* (as they must do there, such of them as are not in jail there,) they will remain as bad as ever, or rather, according to the estimate given of them as above by the late chief magistrate, become still worse.

The next article, from a source than which that distant region never furnished a more respectable one, bears date the 7th of October 1800. The part that applies to the present purpose, comes after a paragraph of considerably greater length, which I may have occasion to submit to your Lordship under the head of Economy:

“Governor King, who has the command, will make many regulations, as far as is in his power, for the security and advantage of the colony; and likewise pay some attention to the morals and instruction of the rising generation, to which none has been hitherto given; for certainly, if we ever hope to see worth or honesty in this settlement, we must look to them for it, and not the present degenerate race.”

What your Lordship might not otherwise have supposed, this letter is from a female pen, as well as to a female eye; not a word more in it that bears reference to anything that can be called politics. Mere accident threw it into my hands. For authentication sake, designation will (I suppose) be regarded as indispensable; but where that sex is concerned, the most reserved mode that can be thought of, is the most respectful and the Edition: current; Page: [182] best.* Such was the state of this “improved,” and ever-improving colony, with the benefit of at least a year’s improvements, more than—and—could as yet have heard of at the time (I mean July 1800) when the idea of “relinquishing” the penitentiary system, in consideration of the superiority of their improved colonial system, was first declared in black and white, after having been determined in petto for a length of time unknown to me. A year’s improvements more, and still—and—did not know that there were children there, or if there were, that they were worth saving from the gallows.

“But have not colonies,” says your Lordship, “has not transportation to those colonies been a source of good, and even in this particular line? Have not reformation and honest industry been among the experienced fruits of it?” Yes, my Lord, where the bulk of the population has been ready found and composed of men of thrift and probity—where the mass of the population being formed, the children of improvidence have been dropped in in driblets, absorbed and assimilated as they dropped in, by the predominant mass of the population into which they were received. In America, a master waiting to take charge of the delinquent as soon as landed—that employer a man of thrift—one of a neighbourhood all composed of men of thrift, all ready to make common cause against a fugitive or refractory bondsman: the bondsmen not collected together in any one place in numbers, but distributed among a number of families, one or a few at most in each. Such was a sort of society in which each convict would have to serve and be trained up in unremitting habits of unavoidable industry during his bondage: of the same cast was the society in which, if he settled at all in that quarter of the world, he would have to settle upon his restoration to independence.

Thus it was in America—thus it was with the convict consigned to any one of those old established colonies. How was it in New South Wales? The native inhabitants a set of brutes in human shape—the very dregs even of savage life—a species of society beyond comparison less favourable to colonization than utter solitude; a set of living nuisances, prepared at all times for all sorts of mischief: for plundering the industrious; for quarrelling with the quarrelsome; for affording harbour to the fugitive. Other inhabitants, none but the very profligates themselves, who were thus sent by thousands from British gaols, to be turned loose to mix with one another in this desert; together with the few taskmasters that were to set them to work in the open wilderness, and the military men who were sent out with them in large but still unequal numbers, to help to keep within bounds the mischief they would be sure to occupy themselves with when thus let loose. Excepting these military guardians, whom, the endeavour was, though a vain one, to keep from mixing with their wards, it was of the very dregs of society—of men unfit to live at large in society—of men proved to be such by experience, and those collected together in multitudes, that the mass of society in this colony has hitherto been, was even meant to be, and for some generations at least would, for any rational ground that the founders could have for expecting the contrary, continue to be composed.

To an eye incapable of seeing further into things than their names, the two above contrasted scenes of existence were indeed the same, since both were colonies; but in themselves no two measures could in this respect be more different than transportation of convicts in retail, into a colony ready formed by honest men, and transportation of convicts by wholesale, into a colony not formed, but to be formed, and to be formed of convicts.

“But may not a set of regularly honest settlers be collected thither by degrees? and thus, with the addition of the improved characters, how few soever at first among the emancipated convicts, accumulate in time into whatever majority may be requisite to form the basis of an industrious and thriving population?” Possibly, my Lord; the bounds of possibility are wide: not even very improbably, so it be in some future century; in the present one, hardly. For what is there that should draw thither men of thrift and capital?—draw them to a place which, except a part of the stock of necessaries for its own inhabitants, neither does produce, nor presents any the smallest indication of being about to produce anything that will not be at the very time produced in other places, as well as imported into Britain from other places at a much cheaper rate—to a place in which, in the meantime, “the industrious and well disposed” will (as the late chief magistrate and the late governor seem to agree in observing) “become a continual prey to the idle and worthless.

Loud and frequent have been the complaints (nor altogether, I suppose, without truth) about inveigling men (as it is called) to North America; cruel and fraudulent are the epithets given to the practice: to North America, where if manners are not, upon the whole, so amiable, yet crimes of all sorts, Edition: current; Page: [183] probably crimes of depredation certainly, are even more rare than here: to America, where a human being not employed in industry, productive or professional at least, is scarcely to be found. If to invite men to such a country be an act of fraud and cruelty, what must the act of that man be, who should seek to engage an honest settler to sink his capital, his industry, and his prospects, in New South Wales?

But of the prospect of advantageous produce from this as well as all other sources, more will come to be said presently, under the head of economy, to which it more immediately belongs.

III. Third object or end in view—Incapacitation; rendering a man incapable of committing offences of the description in question any more: understand in the present instance in the same place—the only place (it should seem) that was considered as worth caring about in this view.

In this object was seated, to all appearance, the strong hold and main dependence of the system: of reformation it would (I dare believe) have been acknowledged in a whisper there was nothing meant but the form: it was a mere make-believe. In the expedient employed for rendering it impossible for a man to do any more such mischief in the only spot in the world worth thinking about, consisted the sum and substance of the new system of compulsive colonization.

This contrivance was as firmly laid in school-logic as could be wished. Mischievously or otherwise, for a body to act in a place, it must be there. Keep a man in New South Wales, or anywhere else out of Britain, for a given time: he will neither pick a pocket, nor break into a house, nor present a pistol to a passenger, on any spot of British ground within that time.

Depredation, though committed out of Britain, would indeed not the less be depredation; but happily for our statesmen, here came in another rule of logic to their aid. Things not apparent, and things not existing, belong to the same account; the depredation and all other kinds of mischief and vice not making their appearance—that is, not here in Britain—it is the same thing as if there were none. Of the aggregate mass of his Majesty’s subjects, good, bad, and indifferent, taken together, such as remained in this and the next island constituted, according to this mode of taking stock, the only articles that had any pretensions to a place in the inventory. Those who were to be sent out of it belonged neither to the list of souls to be saved, nor to the list of moral beings. On these principles, how the people thus sent thither behaved while there, was a point which, so long as they did but stay there, or, at any rate, did not come back here, was not worth thinking about. Such was the religion, such the morality, which presided over the design and execution of the picture of industry and reformation in New South Wales.

Admitting that immorality and misery are rendered matters of indifference by being shifted from place to place, and that mischief of all kinds, so it be excluded from certain parts of his Majesty’s dominions, may be regarded as annihilated—two points remain still to be considered:

One is, in what degree the contrivance thus hit upon for securing the country in question, against the future presence of the individuals in question, is productive of that effect?

The other is, how far the advantage thus purchased is consistent with the principles of law and justice?

The answer, not to keep your Lordship in suspense, will, I believe, be found to be, that so far as the object is attained, it is attained at the expense of justice; but that even with that expense, the degree in which it is attained is very imperfect: imperfect from the first, and, in the nature of things, destined to become more and more so, the longer the establishment continues; and that, upon the whole, the shame of inefficacy is, in the very nature of the project, added to the odium of injustice.

The nature of the expedient being to be stated in the first place, before the efficacy of it can be examined into, the topic of justice will demand, on this as well as other accounts, the precedence. A word or two in the way of history is on this occasion unavoidable.

Transplantation to the colonies, a measure employed for the first time (at least under authority at this time reputed legal) soon after the Restoration,* is a mode of punishment which in lieu of, or in addition to, the other punishments annexed to offences comprised under the unfathomable and inexpressive appellation of felonies, extended itself gradually into use, so long as the now independent States of America remained upon the list of British colonies. This, like other chronical punishments, being divisible ad libitum into portions of all lengths, different lengths, adapted to the supposed exigency of the different cases of delinquency, have on different occasions, with great care and precision, been marked out: seven years, fourteen years, and for life: the length beyond comparison the most common, seven years: to say nothing of other lengths, not without example, such as terms between 7 and 14 years, and between 0 and 7 years. The statute in which the pains taken about the measurement of these lots are more conspicuous Edition: current; Page: [184] (I believe) than in any other, is a statute of the present reign, the statute of 1779;* the original penitentiary act—one of the two acts, which in a letter that will probably be one day presented in a more particular manner to your Lordship’s notice,—declares himself to have “examined” and “understood the object of.” In this statute, the several gradations of this species of punishment, or those of them at least which are in use, are brought together; and a sort of system of equivalence is established between the several degrees of this species of chronical punishment and a set of corresponding degrees, in three corresponding scales of so many other species of chronical punishment: confinement in the hulks, confinement in the then intended national and definitive penitentiary-houses, and confinement in the then existing gaols, in their destined character of so many local and temporary substitutes to those general penitentiary-houses.

This punishment, which while British America continued the scene of it, had fulfilled the ends of punishment in some points, failed in others. To the primary object, that of example, it was most obviously and incurably incompetent. Unequal in its essence, rendered still more unequal by its accidental concomitants, it was to one man as bad as death, to another a party of pleasure. By an irregularly applied, as well as unexplicitly declared distinction, on most individuals it imposed the additional yoke of bondage; others it left in possession of independence. To any one who had proposed to himself a spontaneous emigration to the same place, it presented a license for practising with impunity such offences as would send him there. So far was pure incongruity. With reference to the two other objects, reformation and incapacitation, it proved efficacious or inefficacious according to contingencies—contingencies altogether out of the thought as well as view and influence, not only of those to whom it was administered, but of those by whom it was administered, as well as of those by whom it was ordained. In some instances a man became in a greater or a less degree reformed; and in those instances the mother country commonly saw no more of him: in others, he remained unreformed; and in those she was sure to receive him back.

Reformation is a very complex object: thought and contrivance are necessary to the Edition: current; Page: [185] pursuit of it. Local exclusion is a very simple object: it may be aimed at almost without thought. In the one case, if any thing be effected, it must be by mind operating on mind; Edition: current; Page: [186] although operations purely physical may (as I have had already occasion to observe) be among the means employed, and with assured efficacy, in that view. In the other case, body operating upon body is sufficient to the task. This observation may serve to explain the ground of whatever little portion of thought can possibly have been concerned, in the choice made of New South Wales. In a plan in other respects proper and adequate, simplicity is unquestionably a recommendation of no mean importance. But it will neither stand in lieu of efficacy, nor atone for injustice.

When, for persons of the description in question, the obtainment of the accustomed situations in America was found to be, or supposed to be, or said to be, no longer practicable, another spot came to be looked out for, and the spot chosen was this new discovered and pre-eminently distant region, that had been christened, or new christened, New South Wales.

The word distant, were it not for the appearance of affectation, should have stood in capitals. In it will be found not only the grand recommendation of the plan, but the only assignable or so much as imaginable property, which, though it were but for a moment, can have presented itself in that light. Of the several efficient causes of probable reformation to be looked out for in a colony, as having actually been afforded by the old colonies as above, not a single one could have been found existing anywhere in this newfound land. Existing demand for bondsmen—for bondsmen to be employed in separate families—in a ready-formed community composed of men of thrift—with an opportunity of settling in a society of the same complexion on the return of independence—conveyance thither at an inconsiderable expense, or without any expense;—all these requisites were altogether wanting, together with all others that can be imagined.* Distance—the indisputable attribute of this favourite spot—distance, the supposed mother of security, was the virtue which it is evident was regarded as making up for the absence of every other. Of this attribute it was seen to be possessed in a degree altogether beyond dispute. The moon was then, as it continues to be, inaccessible: upon earth there was no accessible spot more distant than New South Wales. The security that had been afforded by America in this respect, the security against the return of the expelled emigrants, had been but an incomplete one: why? because the distance was comparatively so small; means of communication accordingly so abundant. The security, promised in that same way by New South Wales, was the best possible: why? because the distance was the greatest possible; means of communication already established, none; and such as for this purpose would be to be established, would be to be established by government itself: consequently (it was taken for granted) would be altogether at the command of government. From such premises, the conclusion, true or false, was obvious enough: Let a man once get there, we shall never be troubled with him any more.

Setting aside law and justice, the expedient was at any rate a plausible one: and except the revolutionary noyades and fusillades, the Calcutta black-hole, and a few other such foreign devices, a remedy against living nuisances could hardly be more promising or more simple. But suppose for a moment any such considerations as those of law and justice to be entitled to a place in the account, surely never did this country witness an exercise of power more flagrantly reprehensible, more completely indefensible.

In the design of it, if this were really the design of it, it amounted to neither more nor less than the converting at one stroke all inferior degrees of the species of punishment in question, into the highest—all finite lengths into one infinite length. In its conception, the operation is simple enough: banishment for life—for so many years as a man shall live—is as easy to conceive as banishment for any other number of years, fixed or limited; more so than banishment in different lengths, for different numbers of years. But the effects of it upon the legal system, which it was thus sporting with, would take a volume to delineate. All the distinctions which, under this head, the statute-book affords in such numbers, between punishment and punishment—adjusted Edition: current; Page: [187] with so much care to so many corresponding distinctions, real or supposed, between guilt and guilt—all this elaborate pile of distinctions, which for near a century and a half the legislature had been employing itself in building up, was upon this plan to be undermined and levelled at one blast.

In the whole body of the law, if effects are regarded, and not mere words, where shall we find a feature that bears any the least resemblance to this case? I protest I know not. A punishment has been precisely fixed by law—fixed not in species only, but in degree: fixed thus by each particular law upon the species of delinquency, it has been fixed afterwards upon each individual delinquent by a sentence grounded upon that law. The fixation thus performed, there comes upon the back of it another punishment—a punishment of prodigiously greater magnitude—a punishment added by one knows not who, added by an invisible hand, added by the hand of power (for in default of literal designation we must resort perforce to figurative)—added by the hand of power, without a hearing, and to all appearance without thought. In truth, so oblique was the course by which the object was pursued, that no adequate idea of it can possibly be conveyed by any concise form of words: a description of it will be attempted a little further on.

For a measure of this stamp, in what quarter of the English law can a precedent be looked for with any prospect of success? One case there is, in which after a verdict of conviction and damages found by a jury, the court, if they they think fit, have it in their power to increase the damages. It is the case of mayhem. I mention it as the nearest case, though at so wide a distance. Even in that case, not an atom of suffering is imposed upon the injurer, that is not in the shape of compensation converted into enjoyment for the benefit of the party injured. But so strange is the institution to an English eye, so incongruous to the spirit and general tenor of English law, that this singular instance of an apparent extension of punishment or something like punishment, after sentence or what is equivalent to sentence, would scarcely have been thought of but for its singularity, having scarcely ever, within my memory, been brought to view by practice.

For a lot of punishment to be cut down, cut down by royal prerogative, from the length marked out by law, to a length short of that which has been marked out by law, is a case common enough—a case within every day’s observation—a case but too common, were it not that in this quarter of the law, unhappily so loose and incongruous is the texture of it, as to render it matter of praise, perhaps even of merit, on the part of one of the three estates of the legislature, to make changes, even regular and habitual changes, in the work executed at former periods by the whole. Be this as it may, the case of rigour short of the law is in every day’s experience. But of rigour beyond the law, this surely may be set down for the first (as I dare hope it will prove the last) example. When the work of mercy and lenity is performed as above by the king’s prerogative, it is performed in retail—performed by a separate decision pronounced in each individual case. Where, by an abuse of the same sacred instrument (an abuse, the nature and progress of which may perhaps receive a more particular explanation in another place,) the work of rigour has been performed as here, it has been performed by wholesale; in a word, in the same summary and compendious style as that of the noyades and fusillades above mentioned.

In speaking of a rigour beyond the law, I must take the liberty of warning your Lordship against a wrong reading, which otherwise might have been suggested by preceding recollections. Rigour is the word here, not vigour:—not to vigour—not to anything like what is commonly understood by force—but rather to fraud—to the very opposite of open and manly force—belongs the credit of whatever is done in the way of rigour in the present instance.

“Oh but,” I have heard it said, “whatever may here be done, the law remains unchanged; rights remain untouched; rights remain inviolate. Now, as before, so long only as a man’s term of transportation continues, does his return to Britain stand prohibited: now, as before, the term ended, the prohibition is at an end. Let him come back then, if he choose it; nor, if he is able, is there any law to hinder him: no more law to hinder him