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between the compartments, which are closed off by an iron grating, such as separates wild beasts from the spectators in a travelling menagerie : this plan renders a cursory sort of inspection very facile. In these compartments the twelve or twenty convicts eat, converse, and sleep. There is here no silence, no separation; conversation is not prevented. Not only is every facility afforded to the prisoners for extending their lists of friends, but care is also taken that they shall have all the means of detailing to each other the corrupting details of their past lives. The mischief that is done in this way is incalculable. The herding together of criminals, of lesser dyes of guilt than the convicts of Woolwich can boast, is so productive of evil, that government has shown a strong desire to provide against it; yet here are about the worst class of men in England—the refuse of Millbank—men sent back from Pentonville as incorrigible, after eighteen or twenty months of stern discipline-left together to their mutual contaminațions, with little or no check upon their talk, which is, in fact, for the most part, too disgusting to be listened to by any one less degraded than themselves ! Such a circumstance supplies its own comment.
There are a school and schoolmasters on board : this is certainly something. But the poor wretches have never been accustomed to mental application, nor indeed to continuous attention of any kind; and the act of acquiring knowledge is the most irksome which they have to perform. A child is soon wearied
of its book; so is the child-mind of the convict. He also requires to have his intellectual food in small doses, frequently given. We thought this simple fact pretty well known; but, if known in the dockyards, it is not heeded. By an ingenious contrivance, knowledge is rendered hateful to the convict, and the teacher absolutely repulsive : the men to whom an hour's instruction at a time is as much as their untrained minds can profitably endure, are sent to school for an entire day, about once in nine or ten days. An entire day at writing and reading and grammar! What is the consequence? In three hours -in some cases in less the convict's powers of attention are utterly exhausted; he grows listless, learns nothing, makes no progress.
The lesson, which should be life to him, is detested ; and as often as he dares, he throws himself on the sick list, whenever his turn comes round for attendance at school.
The hulk has no redeeming feature. We have no proper means of calculating its cost; but, probably, it is not even less expensive than a barrack would be ; for the vessel requires to be changed every few years, and the cost of fitting up is not a trifle. No reform can render a ship a proper place of penal infliction. The system should be given up. Not that we would cease to employ criminals in the dock-yards ; on the contrary, under the mark system, or a modification of that system, we should be willing to see the plan extended. But a barrack should be built on shore, and separate sleeping cells should be provided for the convicts. No good can be permanently done without this. All efforts to convey secular or religious knowledge must be vain so long as from ten to twenty degraded men are left to sleep in the same compartment, and corrupt each other by contact and conversation.
Jy ill b a n k.
MILLBANK Prison is the largest penal establishment in England. It is so extensive that the outlines of the structure may be traced on any
welldrawn plan of London. In form, it consists of six pentagonal buildings, surrounding an open courtyard; the whole surrounded by a lofty wall of octagon shape. This wall encloses an area of about sixteen acres, seven of which are covered with the buildings and airing yards; the other nine are laid out as gardens. There is but one entrance, that fronting the Thames. The corridors in which the cells are situate, are upwards of three miles in length. The situation is not good, being on a low marshy ground, almost close upon the river bank, near Vauxhall-bridge. The purchase of such a site in the first instance, was a manifest "job" on the part of the government. The land cost 12,0001., although a much better site on the river bank near Battersea was offered for less than half the money. There is always more in these purchases for State purposes than meets the
present situation tended swamp
is a very unhealthy one. The soil on which the prison stands, is a deep and soft peat. Not many years ago, the whole neighbourhood was one ex
The building itself rests on a solid and very expensive concrete, laid down for the purpose. Although, as yet, the neighbourhood is open -the unhealthiness of the site probably operating to prevent rapid occupation of the environs-and the circulation of air unimpeded by masses of houses, the rate of mortality is commonly very high in Millbank Prison. If an epidemic visit London, Millbank Prison is one of the first places in which its presence is detected. When a contagious disorder broke out in 1823, it had to be temporarily abandoned. The convicts were all removed to the dock-yards under a special Act of Parliament ; and there they remained until the following year. Of late years it has somewhat improved in this respect. The draining and ventilation are now most complete. But all that science can suggest and medical skill can administer, are inadequate to make it a healthy prison. Here the cholera first appears ; hence, we fear, it will depart the last. And this in spite of care and attention, regular diet (excellent in quality and sufficient in quantity), admirable cleanliness, and order.
Millbank has suffered more than one transformation during its brief history. At first it was built, at the enormous cost of half a million of money, as a penitentiary-house - a modification of Jeremy Bentham's celebrated plan of prison-arrangement;