Puslapio vaizdai

dies. If you like fans, and couches, and blinds, and voyaged Madeira, get them-as for me Squashee, I am as yet content without them, and when I want them I must work for them too. One of the finest things ever said on this question was said by Lord John Russell, when, hearing the lament of the diminished supply of sugar, and the miserable condition of the West Indies, he replied in words after this fashion-that he understood the population in these islands was happy, contented, and improving, and that it was nothing to him that they did not produce as much sugar spontaneously as they did under the lash, for he had yet to learn that the amount of sugar produced was the measure of human happiness and virtue.


We assent to the principle that men who abuse their liberty to the proved and manifest prejudice of the community should be deprived of it: and therefore we have much more sympathy and agreement with Mr. Carlyle when he speaks reprovingly of the disposition which is perhaps too much growing among us to treat the criminal with a gracious and almost condoling respect. The criminal has taken that for which he has not wrought, and which has not been given to him by those who made it their own by work-or he has deprived a fellow-creature of his sight, or a limb, or liberty, or character, or life and he has proved himself unworthy of that liberty which he cannot use without an invasion on his brother man, and therefore we would take it away from him for whatsoever time was necessary to teach him that lesson— and we would not try twenty times in half a dozen years whether he had learnt it or not, but very quickly test him by longer periods, extending, if need be, at length to life. But what crime has the Black committed except the crime of being black? of being "the image of his Maker,” as old Fuller finely said, " cut in ebony?" The crime, too, in Mr. Carlyle's eyes, of not caring sufficiently for peppers and sugars, which Mr. Carlyle proclaims it is a law of God and Nature, he (surely not he at least, if any, but they who were originally placed there by God or went there themselves) should produce in large quantities, sufficient to supply the wants of as many gentlemen, residing at Chelsea, or elsewhere, as may require them. But the criminal

black wretch, not having had a long taste of liberty or education, or the artificial wants of our old civilisation, is content with a hut, a girdle, and a pumpkin! And what were our ancient British ancestors content with? A good reason to make them slaves for ever-they had a disposition to be content with acorns and wigwams, and would not work for some Roman Carlyle, most likely, who wanted a house upon the Thames, and a chariot! The sin of which the writer of these Pamphlets has allowed himself to be guilty against an oppressed class of his fellow-creatures, and, the ungenerous use of his intellectual powers in support of that sin, exposes him to the reprobation which other acts of tyranny and oppression receive.

The Pamphlet on Model Prisons, though saturated with the same spirit of sneering sarcasm on all that good and humane men have been doing on the subject of prison discipline and gaol reform since the awakening times of Howard, and dwelling with similar diabolical zest on the unsuccessful aspects of many of the results, yet, as summoning the attention to the fact, which there is a disposition to overlook in the thick of the aims of undiscriminating clemency, namely, that we are, after all, administering punishment and dealing with crime, impresses us as not only not without value, but as being exceedingly useful and seasonable.

"Several months ago, some friends took me with them to see one of the London Prisons; a prison of the exemplary or model kind. An immense circuit of buildings, cut out, girt with a high ring wall, from the lanes and streets of the quarter, which is a dim and crowded one. Gateway, as to a fortified place; then a spacious court, like the square of a city; broad staircases, passages to interior courts; fronts of stately architecture all round. It lodges some thousand or twelve hundred prisoners, besides the officers of the establishment. Surely one of the most perfect buildings within the compass of London. We looked at the apartments, sleeping-cells, diningrooms, working-rooms, general courts, or special and private excellent all, the ne-plus-ultra of human care and ingenuity; in my life I never saw so clean a building; probably no Duke in England lives in a mansion of such perfect and thorough cleanness.


"The bread, the cocoa, soup, meat, all the various sorts of food, in their respective cooking places, we tasted; found them of excellence superlative. The prisoners sat at work, light work, picking oakum, and the like, in airy apartments with glass roofs, of agreeable temperature and perfect ventilation; silent, or at least convers

ing only by secret signs: others were out, taking their hour of promenade in clean and flagged courts; methodic composure, cleanliness, peace, substantial, wholesome comfort reigned everywhere supreme. The women, in other apartments, some notable murderesses among them, all in the like state of methodic composure and substantial wholesome comfort, sat sewing; in long ranges of washhouses, drying-houses, and whatever pertains to the getting-up of clean linen, were certain others, with all conceivable mechanical furtherances, not too arduously working. The notable murderesses were, though with great precautions of privacy, pointed out to us; and we were requested not to look openly at them, or seem to notice them at all, as it was found to cherish their vanity' when visitors looked at them. Schools, too, were there; intelligent teachers of both sexes, studiously instructing the still ignorant of these thieves.

"From an inner upper room or gallery, we looked down into a range of private courts, where certain Chartist Notabilities were undergoing their term. Chartist Notability First struck me very much; I had seen him about a year before, by involuntary accident, and much to my disgust, magnetizing a silly young person; and had noted well the unlovely voracious look of him, his thick oily skin, his heavy, dull-burning eyes, his greedy mouth, the dusky, potent, insatiable animalism that looked out of every feature of him; a fellow adequate to animal magnetise most things, I did suppose; -and here was the post I now found him arrived at. Next neighbour to him was Notability Second, a philosophic or literary chartist, walking rapidly to and fro in his private court, a clean highwalled place; the world and its cares quite excluded, for some months to come; master of his own time and spiritual resources to, as I supposed, a really enviable extent. What literary man' to an equal extent! I fancied I, for my own part, so left with paper and ink, and all taxes and botherations shut out from me, could have written such a Book, as no reader will here ever get of me. Never, O reader, never here in a mere house with taxes and botherations. Here, alas, one has to snatch one's poor Book, bit by bit, as from a conflagration; and to think and live, comparatively, as if the house was not one's own, but mainly the world's and the devil's. Notability Second might have filled me with envy."

Passing over the portrait, drawn with living effect, of the Governor of the Prison, we proceed to the comment most relative to the point in hand.

"This excellent captain was too old a commander to complain of anything; indeed he struggled visibly the other way, to find in his own mind that all here was best; but I could sufficiently discover

[ocr errors]

that in his natural instincts, if not mounting up to the region of his thoughts, there was a continual protest going on against much of it; that nature and all his inarticulate persuasion (however much forbidden to articulate itself) taught him the futility and unfeasibility of the system followed here. The Visiting Magistrates, he gently regretted rather than complained, had lately taken his tread-wheel from him, men were just now pulling it down; and how he was henceforth to enforce discipline on these bad subjects, was much a difficulty with him. They cared for nothing but the tread-wheel, and for having their rations cut short :' of the two sole penalties, hard work and occasional hunger, there remained now only one, and that by no means the better one, as he thought. The 'sympathy' of visitors, too, their pity' for his interesting scoundrel subjects, though he tried to like it, was evidently no joy to his practical mind. Pity, yes but pity for the scoundrel-species? For those who will not have pity on themselves, and will force the Universe and the Laws of Nature to have no 'pity' on them? Meseems I could discover fitter objects of pity!


Abundantly clever and accurately exact as is this description of a Model Prison, no rose-colour hues thrown over them can make of the deprivation of liberty, and the consciousness (if it were supposing too great a refinement to say of guilt, yet) of being degraded and prostrate beneath a strong arm outside itself, things easy to be borne, notwithstanding the taxes and botherations which the free and innocent man has to bear, and because he is free and innocent has strength to bear. Nevertheless, there is room for grave question whether there is not an amount of sympathy and tenderness for crime among us which is itself becoming criminal. We do not, indeed, see how any item in the above description is to be cancelled, or what single step is to be retraced. No one will maintain that it is a necessary or legitimate part of the punishment of crime to expose it to loathsome disease; then, when you confine human beings, you must remove all active causes of disease; and doing this in the cheapest and most systematic manner, you necessarily do it in the most perfect. Neither is it a necessary or legitimate part of the punishment of crime to confound its various degrees of criminality; then you must remove one of the most appalling portions of the old gaol punishment to every sensitive mind, its undiscriminating companionship, and cease to throw the debtor and the murderer to live for months together in the same room.

A Christian Legislature cannot think moral pollution a legitimate part of the punishment of crime; then age and sex must be separated. Neither can it (believing that "for the soul to be without knowledge is not good") deny instruction and moral influence, especially to the young; then necessarily ensue the daily visits of the schoolmaster and the chaplain. So far from retracing our steps, it is possible that we shall be obliged to take more in the same direction, for the question has already arisen, whether the transference of persons-who are sent out of prison, who must live, but whose labour society does not want, and whose labour, if it did want, it would rather want than employ, and who have no alternative, therefore, but to steal, be committed again, imprisoned again, or die-whether their transference to other scenes, where honest living is possible to them (even if it were to replace the wild beast and the wild forest and make habitations fit for man), be not a further step in the progress of a wise humanity, and whether we can consistently stop short of it: yet what a coleur-derose account would not then be extended from the happiness of the model prison to the bliss of the Prisoner's Emigration Society? All these changes have originated in an improved state of mind and feeling in mankind themselves, and the restoration of the old brutal neglects, and the old Draconic punishments, would soon have a perceptible influence in degrading and hardening mankind. We do not suppose that Mr. Carlyle would restore dirt, disease, jailfevers, cursing and swearing, and miscellaneous companionship, to our prisons; but he would not, certainly, be very nice, and we are not sure that we should either. In other matters his acquaintances of the Model Prison he does not think likely to be reclaimed "by the method of love."

"Hopeless for evermore such a project. These abject, ape, wolf, ox, imp and other diabolic-animal specimens of humanity, who of the very gods could ever have commanded them by love? A collar round the neck, and a cart-whip flourished over the back; these in a just and steady human hand, were what the gods would have appointed them; and now when by long misconduct and neglect, they had sworn themselves into the Devil's regiments of the line, and got the seal of chaos impressed on their visage, it was very doubtful whether even these would be of avail for the unfortunate commander of twelve hundred men! By 'love' without hope

« AnkstesnisTęsti »