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is a useless and expensive institution. The mortification arising from confinement, in no case ameliorates the character of the man. it may generate suilenness, spleen, and selfahasement; but it never works the desired remedy.
A Gaol ought to be a complete school for good hahits. Early rising, particular cleanliness, no idle moments beyond those set aside for recreation, no excess of eating or drinking, the practice of every thing useful in life, a knowledge of good manners, and all other useful knowledge which the time of confinement admits of being imparted. Nothing more easy than to conduct a Gaol upon this plan. Soldiers and sailors are disciplined to any and every thing; why not the same with prisoners?
I could never find it in my mind to say any thing against the Tread Mill, after having seen and considered the had efects of idleness in a number of men lounging about a yard with nothing to do; but it may be advantageously dispensed with, if a proper system of discipline and labour were established. The Tread Mill must be the most irksome of ail employment; for it is a perpetual round of tedious motion, without the sight of producing any thing, or of working a change upon any substance. There is a satisfaction in producmg a new thing, or in working a change ia the quality of any substance, from rough to smooth, from dulness to a polish, &c. but at this system of grinding corn, or working wheels, there is the same joyless round as that of a horse in a mill: the better when blind.
First, I would allow a prisoner to be only eight hours in his sleeping cell; and of that time he rnightemploy as much in reading and writing as he liked. In this Gaol, the abominable practice exists, of keeping the prisoners locked in their cells near sixteen or full fifteen hours in the winter; and, in the case of convicted felons, in a state of nakedness— clothes removed from them! The very thought of this always chills me with horror: and I notice, that it is rare to see such a person who has been long in the Gaol with a healthy face. It is impossible that he can be in health. Fifteen hours of inaction and listlessness is enough to prey upon any man's health, if he be naked, damp, and cold. It is like rotting him out of life. His rest must consist of that period of time when he can get into motion and before a fire.
Out of the cell, the first object should be a general cleanliness; next some scholastic proceeding—some repetition of tasks; and then a procedure to labour. Two hours in the day for cooking and feeding would be sufficient, as in large institutions, cooking is an employment for some set persons. The same with regard to washing; though it would be a very usefuJLhahit to teachevery prisoner to wash his own linen, stockings, &c. and to make him do it well.
The greatest difficulty in a Gaol, tmder the existing managements, is, to find a sufficiency of labour for the prisoners; and this can never be done without some new arrangements, or unless, as ought to be the case, there were fewer commitments. Sending smugglers, poachers, and debtors, to a gaol, is one uniform mischief, and productive of no good. Imprisonment for trifling assaults and vagrancy is another evil. In short, a gaol ought to be kept for thieves only, and those who have done some great persoual violence. Then it might be made a house of correction; now it becomes a house of infection, a sort ol'county pest-bouse, that turns out all its patients, worse thau they entered, to infect others.
Some kind of recreation should be allowed to prisoners; and the only manly exercise, that a Gaol yard will admit, is, bowling at pins or skittles. I never look at the debtors playing at that boy's play marbles, but I wish they had a set of skittles and bowls. They have now an excellent yard for it; and so has al.most every other class of prisoners. I would encourage such a thing only as a matter of good recreation and healthy manly exercise, and not to excite a spirit of gambling, or phiying for liquors. I know that these recreatious are encouraged in some.gaols, and 1 cannot but ihink them usefully encouraged; as a man, to me, lounging about in idleness, with a pipe in his mouth, is a hateful sight. Suppose we say two hours a day for this recreation, and the skittles may be easily removed so as to prevent an abuse of time with them; two hours for food and cleanliness, four hours for scholastic exercise, eight hours hard labour, and eight hours in the sleeping cells. Time well filled up in this manner viould soon improve the man, would excite a spirit of industry and good hahils, and would, above all things, give him a good disposition.
In a Ganl, there should be no sabhath, no priest's day, no idle dav: for that would be enough to destroy all the good hahits acquired in the six; aud now, where men are notoverworked, it is a great evil. Where slavery is enforced—where a man labours fourteen or sixteen hours a day—to him a sabbath is truly a day of rest. In all other respects, the priest and the alehouse-keeper, two mischievous members of society, gain most by it.
These projects are rather foreign to the purpose of this letter; but they will serve to contrast the existing system, which, you have expressed yourself fearful, that, if at liberty to interfere, I should corrupt. 1 have told you, and 1 repeat, that there is nothing pure in this gaol to be corrupted. There is nothing good, in or belonging to, the management of this gaol. The correction, excepting the cruelty of the lash, is all frivolity, and a trifling with the thing. 1 know not a man about the gaol but wants just that same correction which the prisoners want—abetter knowledge of things, and of.right and wrong as relating to them. '1 he Gaoler is the most unfit niau imaginable to enforce correction. If it were to be done upon your Christian system, your hell and devil system, upon the principle of terror, then your Gaoler is the man, as far as a prisoner is iguoraut enough to be frightened at him; but upon any principle of mild and moral instruction, he exhihits nothing but a had example, as often raging like a madman as in any other mood. Though, by the bye, in the way of a good word, the prisouers, who knew him before Air. Wood was appointed Chaplain, say, that the latter has softened hjm a great deal. His is not the disposition to communicate useful correction. Mr. Wood would be the man for a Gaoler, if he were not unfortunately a priest. A man moral and wise enough never to evade his duty, but still mild and sensible enough to make himself beloved by the worst of men.
With the exception of the boys' school, and 1 am of opinion, that it will be difficult to'find a boy who has been essentially benefitted by it, the only pretence to instruction in this place, is the distribution of Bibles, Prayer Books, Catechisms, and the nonsense of praying and preaching in the chapel; an unwholesome regulation for the congregation of a mass of foul and offensive air; for the Christian Idol knows not how to purify and sweeten his worshippers*. Before I came to Dorchester Gaol, I never rightly understood the purpose of burning incense in the Catholic Chapels. >Now, I often wish it were done in the Chapel of Dorchester Gaol; for, after a congregation of the Christians
• have just read of a French Duke (D'Aumont) an old emigre, I believe, who has been incensed at the portal of a church by a priest. I dare say it was very necessary. There is more than one duke, more than one living king, who has need ef being well incensed every hour in the day, to make him a sweet Christian. _ .
for prayer and worship, it is rendered the most foul part of the Gaol, to which I have been peculiarly exposed, by the currents pressing towards my room. I know of nothing so offensive in the way of smell, nothing so unwholesome as an air, unless it be the fetid emission of the American Skunk, of which I have read. 1 assure you, Sir, that I have been painfully compelled to inhale much more corruption from my fellow prisoners, than I have imparted to ihem; and have often wished that I could inhahit one of the Gaoler's garrets, so as to be in a more elevated situation, and more out of the way of that very pure congregation of Christians, which you fear I shall corrupt, if left free to mingle with them.
These Bibles, Prayer Books, &c, or any of the books issued by that society in London called a Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, cannot be so used as to teach any thing useful. They are a mere stultitifying routine of reading. They are not meant to do good; but merely to support that vastly profitable thing called the Church; to do which, it is an essential first principle, to keep the body of the people as ignorant as possible. That society has not •one good motive. To perpetuate clerical exactions, as the church of Rome wished to perpetuate the sale of indulgences to fill her coffers, is its first, and its last principle. But it has no power to impede what I am doing—so let it last as it will last, so long as there is an income to be called The Church. To subscribe to it has become the last test for orthodoxy; and this was one of the motives of its establishment, when the Dissenters began to be formidable.
The alterations which I recommend in the management of a Gaol are of no Utopian scheme—they are simple and practicable at every point. For literature, I would make a Goal equal to any of the Colleges of our Universities *, aud that, from the superior influence over prisoners by the force of discipline. Books for such an institution would not be expensive; perhaps the same money which is now wasted in Bibles, &c, would be near enough. From the nature of imprisonment, attention to those books may be commanded. All kinds of mechanical artsmay be cheaply introduced into a Gaol, and every Goal, in truth, be made a Mechanics' Institution. It is a mental process of this kind that can alone
* Not in Latin, Greek, or any other dead languages; but in Grammar, the use of figures, in history and in all the sciences. In arts as far as practicable.
raise the mind above the propensity to thieve. By your present system of punishment—by seeking to deter men from theft by terror, by torture, and by every thing that is vile, you do but further degrade the mind that was before degraded, and perpetuate the hahit that ought to be eradicated.
Abolish the office of Chaplain—employ two able schoolmasters with his salary—convert your Chapel into a library of books on history and science and a school—bring your prisoners into it in classes—and keep up a perpetual round of labour, study and cleanliness in the Gaol, excepting* the two hours for recreation, the two for feeding, and the eight for sleep. You will then have nothing to fear from the powers of any one to corrupt your prisoners. What you mean by my corrupting them is, that you desire to keep them ignorant. I have certain opinions of certain things: those opinions are either right or wrong: if right, why should you fear them? If wrong, why cannot you, the Chaplain, or the Gaoler, shew them in that light? You pay homage, Sir, to rue and my opinions, in expressing your wish to keep them from the other prisoners. You admit their truth and their force. I do not fear your opinions; why do you fear mine? If yours do not concur with mine, I am ready to comhat tbem and to shew you your error. I would not despair of bringing any man to my opinions in one hour, if he would sit down and hear and answer my questions with candour and sincerity of heart. If my opinions were erroneous, I should never have been imprisoned for them. Men in error, men who preach nousense, and know less than men in power, are never imprisoned. They are laughed at. Johanna Southcote and her establishment of preachers were not imprisoned, but laughed at. Lord Sidmouth, then Secretary of State for the Home department, sent for Tozer, her High Priest, reasoned with him, as far as either were capable of reasoning, and dismissed him with compliments and good wishes. Can you say why Lord Sidmouth did not take the same steps with me? Tozer's published doctrines, as well as mine, went to sap the foundation of the religion established by law. For what I know, Tozer still preaches the coming of Shiloh, though Johanna be dead ; and I have been near five years a prisoner, with robberies upon my property such as were never practised upon any man for his opinions by a Government proceeding upon a pretence of law.
As to mingling with the prisoners, I have never shewn a