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rior malversations—and the invaluable means of denunciation and authoritative anil irresistible investigation which we possess in our representative legislature, puts it in the power of any man of prudence, patience, and respectability in that House, to bring to light the most secret, and to shame the most arrogant delinquent, and to call down the steady vengeance of public execration, and the sure light of public intelligence, for the repression and redress of all public injustice.
The charm is in the little word Publicity! —And it is cheering to think how many wonders have already been wrought by that precious Talisman. If the House of Commons was of no other use but as an organ for proclaiming and inquiring into all alleged abuses, and making public the results, under the sanction of names and numbers which no man dares to suspect of unfairness or inattention, it would be enough to place the country in which it existed far above all terms of comparison with any other, ancient or modern, in which no such institution had been devised. Though the great work is done, however, by that House and its committees—though it is there only that the mischief can be denounced with a voice that reaches to the utmost borders of the land—and there only that the seal of unquestioned and unquestionable authority can be set to the statements which it authenticates and gives out to the world ;—there is still room, and need too, for the humbler ministry of inferior agents, to circulate and enforce, to repeat and expound, the momentous facts that have been thus collected, and upon which the public must ultimately decide. It ¡p this unambitious, but useful function that we now propose to perform, in laying before our readers a short view of the very interesting facts which are detailed in the valuable work of which the title is prefixed, and in the parliamentary papers to which it refers.
Prisons are employed for the confinement and security of at least three different descriptions of persons:—first, of ihose who are accused of crimes and offences, but have not yet been brought to trial; 2d, of those who have been convicted, and are imprisoned preparatory to, or asa part of, their punishment ; and Sil, of debtors, who are neither convicted nor accused of any crime whatsoever. In both the first classes, and even in that least entitled to favour, there is room for an infinity of distinctions—from the case of the boy arraigned or convicted for a slight assault or a breach of the peace, up tothat of the bloody murderer or hardened depredator, or veteran leader of the house-breaking gang. All these persons must indeed be imprisoned—for so the law has declared; but, under that sentence, we humbly conceive there is no warrant to inflict on them any other punishment—any thing Tnore than a restraint on their personal freedom. This, we think, is strictly true of all the three classes we have mentioned; but it will scarcely be disputed, at all events, that it is true of the firstand the last. A man may avoid the penalties of Crime, by avoiding all c-rimioality: But no man can be secure against
False accusation; and to condemn him who is only suspected, is to commence hi« punishment while his crime is uncertain, Nay, it is not only uncertain, as to all who are untried, but it is the fixed presumption of the law that the suspicion is unfounded, and that a trial will establish his innocence. We suppose there are not less than ten or fifteen thousa: d persons taken up yearly in Great Britain and Ireland on suspicion ol crimes, of whom certainly there are not two-thirds convicted; su that, in all likelihood, there are not fewer than seven or eight thousand innocent persons placed annually in this painful predicament—whose very imprisonment, though an unavoidable, is beyond all dispute a very lamentable evil; and to which no unnecessary addition can be made without the most tremendous injustice.
The debtor, again, seems entitled to at least as much indulgence. I: lie may." says j\lr. Buxton, "have been reduced to his inability to satisfy his creditor by the visitation of God,—by disease, by personal accidents, by the failure of reasonable project:-, by the largeness or the helplessness ot lus lamily. His substance, and the substance of his creditor, may have perished together in the (lames, or in the waters. Human foresight cannot always avert, and human industry cannot always repair, the calamities to which our nature is subjected ;.—surely, then, some debtors are entitled lo compassion.''—(p. 4.) Of the number of debtors at any one time in confinement in I hose kingdoms, we have no means of forming a conjecture; but beyond all doubt they amount to many thousands, of whom probably one half have been reduced to that state by venial errors, or innocent misfortune.
Even with regard to the convicted, we humbly conceive it to be clear, that where no special severity is enjoined by Ihe law, any additional in/liction beyond that of mere coercion, is illegal. If the greater delinquent« alone were subjected to such severities, thert" might be a colour of equity in the practice; but, in point of fact, they are intlicted according to the state of the prison, the usage of the place, or the temper of the jailor;— and. in all cases, they are inflicted indiscriminately on the whole inmates of each unhappy mansion. Even if it were otherwise, '• Who.'' says Mr. В., "is to apportion this variety ol wretchedness? The Judge, who knows nothing of the interior of the jail; or the jailor, who knows nothing of the transactions of the Court 7 The law can easily suit its penalties lo Ihe circumstances of the case. It can adjudge to one offender imprisonment foi one day; to another for twenty years: But what ingenuity would be sufficient to devise, and what discretion could be trusted lo inflict, modes of imprisonment with similar variations'?''—p. 8.
But the truth is. that all inflictions beyond that of mere detention, are clearly illegal.- Take tho common case of fetters — from Bracton down to Blackstone, all our lawyer* declare the use of them to be contrary to law. The last says, in so many words, that " the law will not justify jailors in fettering a piisoner, unless where he is unruly or has attempted an escape;” and, even in that case, the practice seems to be questionable—if we can trust to the memorable reply of Lord Chief Justice King to certain magistrates, who urged their necessity for safe custody— “let them build their walls higher.” Yet has this matter been left, all over the kingdom, as a thing altogether indifferent, to the pleasure of the jailor or local magistrates; and the practice accordingly has been the most capricious and irregular that can well be imagined. “In Chelmsford, for example, and in Newgate, all accused or convicted of felony are ironed.—At Bury, and at Norwich, all are without irons.—At Abingdon the untried are not ironed.—At Derby, none but the untried are ironed 1-At Cold-bathfields, none but the untried, and those sent for reexamination, are ironed.—At Winchester, all before trial are ironed; and those sentenced to transportation after trial.—At Chester, those alone of bad character are ironed, whether tried or untried.” pp. 68, 69.
But these are trifles. The truth of the case is forcibly and briefly stated in the following short sentences:—
“You have no right to deprive a man sentenced to mere imprisonment of pure air, wholesome and sufficient food, and opportunities of exercise. You have no right to debar him from the craft on which his family depends, if it can be exercised in prison. You have no right to . him to suffering from cold, by want of bed-clothing by night, or firing by day. And the reason is plain–you have taken him from his home, and have deprived him of the means of providing himself with the necessaries or comforts of life; and therefore you are bound to furnish him with moderate indeed, but suitable accommodation.
“You have, for the same reason, no right to ruin his habits, by compelling him to be idle, his morals, by compelling him to mix with a promiscuous assemblage of hardened and convicted criminals, or his health by forcing him at night into a damp unventilated cell, with such crowds of companions, as very speedily render the air foul and putrid, or to make him sleep in close contact with the victims of contagious and loathsome disease, or amidst the noxious effluvia of dirt and corruption. In short, no Judge ever condemned a man to be half starved with cold by day, or half suffocated with heat by night. Who ever heard of a criminal being sentenced to Rheumatism, or Typhus sever ? Corruption of morals and contamination of mind are not the remedies which the law in its wisdom has thought proper to adopt.”"
The abuses in Newgate, that great receptacle of guilt and misery, constructed to hold about four hundred and eighty prisoners, but generally containing, of late years, from eight hundred to twelve hundred, are eloquently set forth in the publication before us, thoug we have no longer left ourselves room to specify them. It may be sufficient, however, to observe, that the state of the Women's wards was universally allowed to be by far the worst; and that even Alderman Atkins ad
* I do not now reprint the detailed statements which formed the bulk of this paper, as originally published; and retain only the account of the maryellous reformation effected in Newgate, by the heroic labours of Mrs. Fry and her sisters of o; —of which I think it a duty to omit nothing that may help to perpetuate the remembrance.
mitted, that in that quarter some alteration might be desirable, though, in his apprehension, it was altogether impracticable. Though by no means inclined to adopt the whole of the worthy, Alderman's opinions, we ma safely say, that we should have been muc disposed to agree with him in thinking the subjects of those observations pretty nearly incorrigible; and certainly should not have hesitated to pronounce the change which has actually been made upon them altogether impossible. Mrs. Fry, however, knew better of what both she and they were capable; and strong in the spirit of compassionate love, an of that charity that hopeth all things, and believeth all things, set herself earnestly and humbly to that arduous and revolting task; in which her endeavours have been so singularly blessed and effectual. This heroic and affectionate woman is the wife, we understand, of a respectable banker in London; and both she and her husband belong to the Society of Friends—that exemplary sect, which is the first to begin and the last to abandon every scheme for the practical amendment of their fellow-creatures—and who have carried into all their schemes of reformation a spirit of practical wisdom, of magnanimous patience, and merciful indulgence, which puts to shame the rashness, harshness, and precipitation of sapient ministers, and presumptuous politicians. We should like to lay the whole account of her splendid campaign before our readers; but our limits will no longer admit of it. However, we shall do what we can ; and, at all events, no longer withhold them from a part at least of this i. narrative.
“About four years ago, Mrs. Fry was induced to visit Newgate, by the representations of its state made by some persons of the Society of Friends.
“She found the female side in a situation which no language can describe. Nearly three hundred women, sent there for every gradation of crime, some untried, and some under sentence of death. were crowded together in the two wards and two cells, which are now appropriated to the untried, and which are found quite inadequate to contain even this diminished number with any tolerable convenience. Here they saw their friends, and kept their multitudes of children; and they had no other place for cooking, washing, eating, and sleeping.
“They all slept on the floor; at times one hundred and twenty in one ward, without so much as a mat for bedding; and many of them were very nearly naked. She saw them openly drinking spirits; and her ears were offended by the most terrible imprecations. Every thing was filthy to excess, and the smell was quite disgusting. Every one, even the Governor, was reluctant to go amongst them. He persuaded her to leave her watch in the office, telling her that his presence would not prevent its being torn from her! She saw enough to convince her that every thing bad was going on. In short, in giving me this account, she repeatedly said–. All I tell thee is a faint pic. ture of the reality; the filth, the closeness of the rooms, the ferocious manners and expressions of the women towards each other, and the abandoned wickedness which every thing bespoke, are quite indescribable."”—pp. 117–119.
Her design, at this time, was confined to the instruction of about seventy children, who were wandering about in this scene of horror; and for whom even the most abandoned of their wretched mothers thanked her with tears of gratitude for her benevolent intentions! while several of the younger women flocked about her, and entreated, with the most pathetic eagerness, to be admitted to her intended school. She now applied to the Governor, and had an interview with the two Sheriffs and the Ordinary, who received her with the most cordial approbation; but fairly intimated to her "their persuasion that her efforts would be utterly fruitless." After some investigation, it was officially reported, that there was no vacant spot in which the school could be established; and an ordinary philanthropist would probably have retired disheartened from the undertaking. Mrs. Fry, however, mildly requested to be admitted once more alone among the women, that she might conduct the search for herself. Difficulties always disappear before the energy of real zeal and benevolence: an empty cell was immediately discovered, and the school was to be opened the very day after.
"The next day she commenced the school, in company with n young My, who then visited n prison for the first lime, and who since gave me n very interesting description of her feelings upon that occasion. The railing was crowded with half naked women, struggling together for the front situalions wiih the most boisterous violence, and bcusine with the utmost vociferation. She felt as if she was going into a den of wild beasts; and she well recollects quite shuddering when the donr closed upon her, mid ehe was locked in, with such n herd of novel and desperate companions. This day. however, the school surpassed their utmost expectations: 'heir only pain arose from the numerous and pressing applications made by young women, who longed to be taucht and employed. The narrowness of the room rendered it then impossible to yield to these requests: But they tempted these ladies lo project a school for I he employment of the tried women, for teaching them M read and to work."
"Whin this intention was mentioned to the friends of these ladies, it appeared at first so visionary and unpromising, that it met with very elender encouragement: they were told that the certain consequence of introducing work would he, that it would be stolen; that though such an experiment might be reasonable enough, if made in the country, among women who had been accustomed to hard labour, it was quite hopeless, when tried upon those who had been so long habituated to vice and idleness. In short, it was predicted, and by many too, whose wisdom and benevolence added weight to iheir opinions, that those who had set at defiance the law of the land, wiih nil its terrors, would very speedily revolt from an authority which had nothing to enforce it; and nothing more to recommend it than its simplicity and gentleness. But the noble zeal of these unassuming women was not to be so repressed; and feeling that their design was intended tor the good and the happiness of others, they trusted that it would receive the guidance and protection of Him who often is pleased to accomplish the highest purpose« by the most feeble instruments.
"With these impressions, they had the boldness to declare, that if a committee could be found who would share the labour, and a matron who would епгяи* never to leave the prison, dav or night, they would undertake to try the experiment, that is, they would themselves find employment for the women, procure the яеттгч money, till the city could be induced to relieve them, and be answerable for the safety of the property committed into the hands of the prisoners.
The committee immn/iately prtiented ittelf; it
consisted of the wife of a clergyman, and eleven (female) members of the Society of Friends. They professed their willingness to suspend every other engagement and avocatidh, and to devote themselves lo Newgale; and in irulh, they have performed their promise. Wiih no interval ol relaxation, and wiih but few intermissions from ihe call of oiher and more imperious duties, they have since lived amongst the prisoners."
Even this astonishing progress could not correct the incredulity of men of benevolence and knowledge of the world. The Reverend Ordinary, though filled with admiration for the exertions of this intrepid and devoted band, fairly told Mrs. F. that her designs, like many others for the improvement of that wretched mansion, "would inevitably fail." The Governor encouraged her to go on—but confessed to his friends, that "he could not see even the possibility of tier success." But the wisdom of this world is foolishness, and its fears but snares to entangle our feet in the career of our duty. Mrs. F. saw with other eyes, and felt with another heart. She went again to the Sheriffs and the Governor:—near one hundred of the women were brought before them, and, with much solemnity and earnestness, engaged to give the strictest obedience to all the regulations of their heroic benefactress. A set of rules was accordingly promulgated, which we have not room here to transcribe ; but they imported the sacrifice of all their darling and much cherished vices;— drinking, gaming, card-playing, novel reading, were entirely prohibited—and regular application to work engaged for in every quarter. For the space of one month these benevolent women laboured in private in the midst of their unhappy flock; at the end of that short time they invited the Corporation of London to satisfy themselves, by inspection, of the effect of their pious exertions.
"In compliance with this appointment, the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, and several of the Aldermen, altended. The prisoners were assembled together; and it being requested that no alteration in their usual practice might take place, one of the ladies read a chapter in the Bible, and then the femalea proceeded to their various avocations. Their attention during the time of reading, their orderly and sober deportment, their decent dress, the absence of every thing like tumult, noise, or contention, the obedience, and the respect shown by them, and the cheerfulness visible in their countenances and manners, conspired to excite the astonishment and admiration of their visitors.
"Many of these knew Newgate; had visited it a few months before, and had not forgotten ih» pninful impressions made by a scene, exhibiting, perhaps, the very utmost limits of misery and guilt. —Thev now aaw, what, without exaggeration, may he called a transformation Riot, "licentiousness, and tilth, exchanged for order, sobriety, and comparative neatness in the chamber, the apparel, and th« persons nf the prisoners. They saw no more an assemblage of abandoned and shameless crea tures, half-naked and half-drunk, rather demanding, than requesting charily. The prison no more resounded with obscenily, and imprecations, and licentious songs; and to use the coarse, but the just, expression of one who knew the prison well, ' this hell upon earth," alreadv exhibited the appearance of an indusirious manufactory, or a well regulated family.
"The magistrates, to evince their sense of the importance of the alterations which had been effected, immediately adopted the whole plan as a part of the sysiem of Newgate; empowered the ladies to pun nil the refractory"by short confinement, undertook part of ihe expense of the matron, and loaded the ladies with thanks and benediction«."
pp. 130, 131.
We can add nothing to this touching and elevating statement. The story of a glorious victory gives us a less powerful or proud emotion—and thanks and benedictions appear to us never to have been so richly deserved.
"A year, says Mr. Buxton, has now elapsed since the operations in Newgate began; and those most compelen! lo judge, the lai« Lord .Mayor and the present, the lite Sheriffs and the present, the late Governor and ihe present, various Grand Juries, the Chairman of the Police Committee, the Ordinary, and ihe officers of the prison, have all declared their satisfaction, mixed with as'onishmi'nt, at tilt: alteration which has taken place in the conduct of the females.
"It is true, and the Ladies' Committee are anxious that it should not be concealed, that some of the rules have lieen occasionally broken. Spirits. they fear, have more than once been introduced | and it was discovered at one period, when many of the ladies were absent, that card-playing had been resumed. But, though truth compels them to acknowledge these deviations, they have been of a very limited extent. I could find but one lady who heard an oath, anrl there had not been above half a dozen ins'ances of inioxicaiion; and the ladies feel justified in slating, that the rules have centrally been observed. The ladies themselves have been treated »Hi uniform rcsp-'ct and gratitude."
pp. 132, 133.
At the close of a Session, many of the reformed prisoners were dismissed, and many new ones were received — and, under their auspices, card-playing wan again introduced. One of the ladies, however, wont among them alone, and earnestly ami affectionately explained to thi'tn the pernicious consequences of this practice; and represented to them how much she would be gratified, if, even from regard to her, they would agree to renounce it.
"Soon after she retired to the ladies' room, one of the prisoners came, to her. and expressed, in a manner whh'h indicated real feeling, her sorrow for having broken the rules of so kind a friend, and pave her a pack of cards: lour others did the same. Having burnt the cards in their presence, she felt hound to remunerate them for their value, and to mark her sense of their ready obedience by sonic small present. A tew days afterwards, she called the first to her, and idling her intention, produced a neat muslin handkerchief. To her surprise, the girl looked disappointed; and. on being asked the reason, confessed she had hoped that Mrs.
would have given her a Bible with her own name written in it! which she should value beyond any thing else, and always keep and read. Such a request, made in such a manner, could not be refued; and the lady assures me that she never gave
a Bible in her life, which was received witb w> dock
interest and satisfaction, or one, which she 'Ь:чч more likelv to do good. It is remarkable, that tft § girl, from her conduct in her preceding prison. з*лз in court, came to Newgale with the worst of ctiraciers."—p. 134.
The change, indeed, pervaded ererjr department of the female division. Thoee who were marched off for transportation, matead of breaking the windows and furniture, a;... gains off, according to immemorial usa^. w :tt drunken songs and intolerable disorder, tuui a serious and tender leave of their comparions, and expressed the utmost gratitude Il their benefactors, from whom they parted with tears. Stealing has also been entirely suppressed; and, while upwards of twe: u thousand articles of dress have been roai.ufactured, not one lias been lost or purloined within the precincts of the prison!
We have nothing more to say; and would not willingly weaken the effect ot this ;n> pressive statement by any observations ci ours. Let us hear no more of the (t.ificolty of regulating provincial prisons, when !!•• prostitute felons of London have been th-и easily reformed and converted. Let us nrvr-r again be told of the impossibility of repre-.ing drunkenness and profligacy, or introit.c-. ^ habits of industry in small establishmentwhen this great crater of vice and corruption has been thus stilled and purified. And. atovr all. let there be an end of the pitiful apoKT. of the want of fund?, or means, or asentf. . effect those easier improvements, \vhen Birnen from the middle ranks of life—wh*3 quiet unassuming matrons, unaccn.*!om-'i :business, or to any but domestic eiertkr:«. have, without funds, without agents, without aid or encouragement of any description. trusted themselves within the very ceritr. infection and despair; and. by opening -h-.r hearts only, and not their purses, nave effea ed, by the mere force of kindness, gentlenes«, and compassion, a labour, the like to which does not remain to be performed, and which has smoothed the way and insured sua--— to all similar labours. We cannot £r.rv '¡-f happiness which Mrs. Fry must enjoy I.t-i.. the consciousness of her own great achievements ;—but there is no happiness or bower of which we shuuld be to proud to be p»f-' takers: And we seem to relieve our o»r hearts of their share of national trratituii''.' thus placinir on her simple and modest b- • that truly Civic Crown, which far outshiw» the laurels of conquest, or the coronal* r/ power — andean only be outshone i!*-' '.' •'• those wreaths of imperishable glory w L •" await the champions of Faith and Chant;, a higher state of existence.
Memoirs of Richard Cumberland: written by himself. Containing an Account of his Life and Writings, interspersed with Anecdotes and Characters of the most distinguished Persons of his Time with whom he had Intercourse or Connection. 4to. pp.533. London: 1806.*
We certainly have no wish for the death of Mr. Cumberland; on the contrary, we hope he will live long enough to make a large supplement to these memoirs: But he has embarrassed us a little by publishing this volume in his lifetime. We are extremely unwilling to say any thing that may hurt the feelings of a man of distinguished talents, who is drawing to the end of his career, and imagines that he has hitherto been ill used by the world: but he has shown, in this publication, such an appetite for praise, and such a jealousy of censure, that we are afraid we rannot do our duly conscientiously, without giving him offence. The truth is, that the book has iather disappointed us. We expected it to be extremely amusing; and it is not. There is too much of the first part of the title in it, and too little of the last. Of the life and writings of Richard Cumberland, we hear more than enough ; but of the distinguished persons with whom he lived, we have many fewer characters and anecdotes than we could have wished. We are the more inclined to regret this, both because the general style of Mr. Cumberland's compositions has convinced us, that no one could nave exhibited characters and anecdotes in a more engaging manner, anil because, from what he has put into this book, we actually see that he had excellent opportunities for collecting, and still better talents for relating them. The anecdotes and characters which we have, are given in a very pleasing and animated manner, arid form the chief i merit of the publication: But they do not oc-! cupy one tenth part of it ; and the rest is filled j with details that do not often interest, and ob-! nervations that do not always amuse.
Authors, we think, should not, generally,! be encouraged lo write their own lives. The j genius of Rousseau, his enthusiasm, and the novelty of 'his plan, have rendered ihe Con- J fessions, in some respects, the most interest- j ing of books. But a writer, who is in full possession of his senses, who has lived in the; world like the men and women who compose it, and whose vanity aims only at the praise of great talents and" accomplishments, must not hope to write a book like thr Confessions: and is scarcely to be trusted wilh the delineation of his own character or the narrative of his own adventures. We have no objection,
* I reprint part of this paper—for the sake chiefly of the anecdotes of Hentley, Bubb Dodingtpn,: Йоате Jenyns, and a few others, which I think remarkable—and very much, also, for the lively And graphic account of the impression of Gnrrick'e new style of acting, as compared with that of Quin end the old cchoola—which is as good and as curious as Colley Cibber'e admirable sketches of Betterton and Booth.
however, to let authors tell their own story, as an apology for telling that of all their acquaintances; arid can easily forgive them for grouping and assorting their anecdotes of their contemporaries, according to the chronology, and incidents of their own lives. This is but indulging the painter of a great gallery of worthies with a panel for his own portrait; and though it will probably be the least like of the whole collection, it would be hard to grudge him this little gratification.
Life has often been compared to a journey; and the simile seems to hold better in nothing than in the identity of the rules by which those w'ho write their travels, and those who write their lives, should be governed. When a man returns from visiting any celebrated region, we expect to hear much more of the remarkable things and persons he has seen, than of his own personal transactions; and are naturally disappointed if, after saying that he lived much with illustrious statesmen or heroes, he chooses rather to tell us of his own travelling equipage, or of his cookery and servants, than to give us any account of the character and conversation of those distinguished persons. In the same manner, when at the close of a long life, spent in circles of literary and political celebrity, an author site down to give the world an account of his retrospections, it is reasonable to stipulate that he should talk less of himself than of his associates; and natural to complain, if he tell» long stories of his schoolmasters and grandmothers, while he passes over some of the most illustrious of his companions with a bare mention of their names.
Mr. Cumberland has offended a little in this way. He has also composed these mémoire, we think, in too diffuse, rambling, and careless a style. There is evidently no selection or method in his narrative: and unweighed remarks, and fatiguing apologies and protestations, are tediously interwoven with it, in the genuine style of good-natured but irrepressible loquacity. The whole composition, indeed, has not only too much the air of conversation: It has sometimes an unfortunate resemblance to the conversation of a professed talker; and we meet with many passages in which the author appears to work himself up to an artificial vivacity, and to give a certain air of smartness to his expression, by the introduction of cant phrases, odd metaphors, and a sort of practised and theatrical originality. The work, however, is well worth looking over, and contains many more amusing passages than we can afford to extract on the present occasion.
Mr. Cumberland was born in 1732 ; and he bas а тегу natural pride in relating that his