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criminal himself—that he should be dealt with in the earliest stage of his career, before the evil that is in him has had time to fix itself in the organization, to grow fast in the ever hardening granite ? The ugly face which appals in the prison, is only the image of the uglier mind underneath. It is the consciousness of this fact that saves us from feeling mere disgust : the animal that is before us may be repulsive, but we cannot lose our interest in the immortal soul which resides in its frame.
The inmates of Millbank provide the visitor with much stuff for thought. They are the very cream of the criminal population of this country. The condemned cells in Newgate could alone furnish specimens of satanic villany equal to these. No one will consider the management of such an establishment as an easy matter. From the constitution of its powers, Millbank is far less under the control of press and parliament–far less accessible to the influence of public opinion—than any other prison in England. The public have no right to enter it; neither have the magistrates. It is entirely under the rule of the government. The Home Secretary appoints three inspectors, who have, subject to his approval, its entire management, together with the exclusive right of making a report. Now this we consider to be wholly injudicious ; therein agreeing with the commissioners, who recently met to inquire into certain abuses alleged to have been committed in the management of Millbank. No other gaol is allowed to be managed and
inspected by the same persons. There are, of course, very strong reasons for keeping the establishment under the immediate control of the executive power ; but regular and rigid inspection is also absolutely necessary to its well-working. And in order that this inspection may be thoroughly impartial and independent-for unless it be so it is worse than useless—the governing body should be totally distinct from the body of inspectors. The present concentration of functions renders the introduction of abuses easy ; the chariness with which access to the prison is granted to the public, renders their detection difficult.
The number of prisoners at present confined in Millbank-preparing for the hulks, for Pentonville, or for the colonies—is about 1,550. In the course of the year, from 4,000 to 5,000 pass through the prison. When the dangerous character of these men is considered, it is easy to see that nothing less than an iron discipline could keep them at all in order. Standing in the centre of a large room, in which 140 are employed in tailoring and picking oakum, it is thrilling to think what a mass of disorderly passion, of brute ignorance, of criminal desires, is held down and prostrated before and within a few yards of you by the presence of a few unarmed officers. In former times—not many years ago, indeed—these men would all have been chained to the walls, and manacled with irons, hand and foot. Now they are perfectly free. There is no more restraint upon them than is exercised over the workmen in a well-ordered manufactory. Silence and attention to work are alone enforced. This, however, is enough. The order is perfect. The silence is profound The march of industry is steady and regular. There is a unity of action, a promptness in obeying orders, which would do no discredit to a well-drilled regiment on parade. Nevertheless, the stranger cannot divest himself of the feeling that he is standing on a volcano, which may, for anything he can safely assume to the contrary, explode at any moment, and make sad havoc by its violence—the more fatal for being only temporary. He feels himself in the position of Van Amburgh in the cage of lions.
The discipline is therefore rigid. The slightest relaxation might produce incalculable mischief, Complaints have been made that it is too severe; and the commission of inquiry just referred to sat in consequence of complaints of this nature having been preferred to parliament. The governor, Captain Groves, a soldier-like man, of peremptory habit, accustomed to the rigid discipline of the army, did not entirely escape censure. But the difficulties of his position should be allowed for. Generally speaking, Millbank is admirably administered—so far as the mere administration is concerned. Every part is clean and sweet. The prisoners are content and orderly; and the workshops are judiciously conducted. Some irregularities in prison punishments -severities, indeed, and not undeserving of the mild reproval which they obtained at the hands of the commissioners—have arisen in consequence of the rules being very complex and contradictory. Even the governor appeared not to be aware of the illegality of certain acts, and unconscious of the extent and limitations of his own powers. These irregu. larities occur no more. The governor exhibits a praiseworthy desire to mitigate severity, and to try the effect of the mildest punishments. Flogging is still permitted in the prison by the rules ; but recourse is now seldom had to this degrading punishment. The same may be said of the black cell. It is not easy to get punishments which are at the same time humane and deterring Discipline must be maintained at any price. Order must first be taken care for. And it is believed, from long experience, that, with many of these abandoned wretches, the fear of punishment is the only incentive to good behaviour. Nor is a light and ordinary severity sufficient. The fellows are hardened, physically as well as morally, A course of prisons, and the rigours incidental to a life of crime, have taught them to deride the dark cell, and to laugh at the stoppage of a dinner. Some minds are so low they can only be reached by the cat—and this is especially the case with hardened street-bred juvenile offenders. Great discretion is, however, to be used in applying the lash. It is very degrading, and should be resorted to only when all other punishments have failed.
mitting persons to them. You descend about twenty steps from the ground-floor into a very dark passage leading into a corridor, on one side of which the cells-small, dark, ill-ventilated, and doubly barredare ranged. No glimpse of day ever comes into this fearful place. The offender is locked up for three days, and fed on bread and water only. There is only a board to sleep on; and the only furniture of the cell is a water-closet. On a former visit to Millbank, some months ago, I was told there was a person in one of these cells,
“ He is touched, poor fellow !" said the warden, “in his intellects.” But his madness was very mild. He wished to fraternise with the other prisoners ; declared that all mankind are brethren ; sang hymns when told to be silent ; and when reprimanded for taking these unwarranted liberties, declared that he was the “governor.” They said he pretended to be mad; which, seeing that his vagaries subjected him to continual punishments, and procured him no advantages, was very likely! They put him into darkness to enlighten his understanding ; and alone, to teach him how unbrotherly men are. Poor wretch! He was frightened with his solitude, and howled fearfully. I shall never forget his wail as we passed the door of his horrid dungeon. The tones were quite unearthly, and caused an involuntary shudder. On hearing footsteps, he evidently thought they were coming to release him. While we remained in the corridor, he did not cease to shout and implore most lamentably for freedom : when he heard us retreating, his voice rose into a