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more they diminish : a fact by no means to be overlooked.
Pentonville is healthy ; but, in connexion with this assertion, it is to be remembered that the fact says nothing for the discipline; because the site is healthier than that of any other London gaol—the building, drainage, conveniences, are more perfectand it has the advantage of better medical supervision. Nor are its peculiar advantages confined to these matters. The inmates are rigorously selected on account of health and strength, as well as from the least sickly period of life. And in addition to all these circumstances, favourable to Pentonville, it must be noticed that persons who become so unwell as to appear incurable, or unfit to bear any longer the rigour of the discipline, are sent back to Millbank and the hulks to die, or receive pardons on medical grounds. The sickness and mortality returns are therefore not to be taken in their unqualified expression as indices of the effect of isolation upon the bodily health. Statistics founded on a state of things so perfectly abnormal are of no value in solving the problem of these prisons. In fact, to be good as an experiment, Pentonville should be a medium, and not a model prison ; its appliances might be as perfect as science could suggest, or skill administer ; but its trial should have been made upon the ordinary run of criminals.
And now, what is the final result? What is the condition of the Pentonville exiles when they pass away from its jurisdiction? Are they really re
formed ? Be it remembered, that no man is suffered to go
until he is believed by the chaplain and authorities to be quite reformed. As yet, all the data for answering this important question are not collected. What is collected is chiefly from the government agents who have charge of the exiles during the voyage to Australia. Accounts from such sources are naturally expected to be favourable, for two reasons ; namely: first, the exile, being still under the rigid authority which crushed his spirit out of him in England, and still holds him at its mercy, is really likely to strive to behave well while he remains under his superior's eye on board ; and, secondly, the officer in charge of the men, and responsible for their good conduct, without stating what is false, is likely to make matters a little more couleur de rose than they are, for his own sake and credit, especially as the report is given only in the most vague and general terms. Still there is enough to make one pause and suspend judgment as to the curative power of Pentonville, even when tested with all the appliances and conditions, appliances and conditions in their very nature impossible to introduce generallywhich we have noticed. In their last report the commissioners, after citing a letter of favourable impressions from Mr. Andrews, surgeon-superintendent of the “ Marion,” in which vessel the last batch of prisoners were sent out, go on to say :
-“ It is fair, however, to add, that in a subsequent letter to our Secretary, dated 24th of September, 1847, Mr. Andrews, while he continues to express his own satisfaction with the conduct of the Pentonville exiles, admits his belief that Mr. Simmons, the instructor on board, does not view the moral conduct of the Pentonville exiles in as favourable a light as he does.” Well, this is not very encouraging at best.. Of the two authorities, we think the instructor on board the one more likely to be right. Why is he not asked to make a report ? Why should the opinions of so competent a witness be filtered into court through the mind of the reluctant surgeon-superintendent ?
Whatever facts have come before the public at home in illustration of the moral effects of the system of isolation, are of a nature to strengthen the belief that the “instructor on board” is correct in his appreciation of the condition of the Pentonville exiles. There is as yet no case known in which, after being taken out of the cell, these men have behaved well. It is true, there are not many
facts of this kind yet collected; but such as have been collected are very decided and suggestive in character. The reader will probably be aware that several
hen it was found next to impossible to continue the usual exportation of criminals to Australia and the Cape of Good Hope, without driving the free settlers into rebellion, government thought proper to try the experiment of employing convicts in the erection of some great public works at home. To this end, it was resolved to form a breakwater in Portland Island. Accommodation was provided for several hundred prisoners on the plans of Major Jebb; and the works commenced. Some of the
convicts sent down to Portland Island were from Wakefield New Gaol, from Reading, and from Pentonville. Their conduct has been almost uniformly bad; marked by a disobedient, idle, mutinous spirit. The last batch of forty sent from Pentonville, only a few weeks since, mutinied the very next day after their arrival in the island; as soon, in fact, as they found out that they would have to work hard in their new quarters. They flatly refused to work; a riot ensued, and blood would undoubtedly have been shed, had not the military guard promptly interfered and arrested the mutineers. They were then brought back to their cells in Pentonville; but before they could be fairly caged, they contrived to create a good deal of alarm, and to break a vast number of windows. Window-breaking continued, indeed, for several weeks after their return to the prison; and not many days ago, one of these fellows, giving rise to a suspicion that he was harbouring some vicious intention, was searched, and two knives found in his possession, which the baffled wretch declared he had secreted for the purpose of stabbing the governor: These are things to make us pause.
Park hur st.
THE Isle of Wight is remarkable in many ways. The Undercliff-the Queen's marine residence—the Dairyman's Daughter—the Cowes regatta—the cost of hotels—the Needles—the Juvenile Penitentiary, are a few of the things for which it is famous. The place last named is an object of no small interest and attraction, as a peep at the visiting-book will discover. Its situation is delightful. It stands on the sides of two gentle hills, about three miles from Cowes, on the road to Newport, and in the heart of the royal forest of Parkhurst,—from which you get, looking across the Medina, a rich view of wood and water, corn-field and upland, stretching away until the eye rests upon the Camberwell-Italian towers of Osborne-house, the palace of her present Majesty ; and, further to the south, on the picturesque ruins of Carisbrooke Castle, the prison of her unfortunate ancestor, Charles I.
Standing as it does within view of the seaabode of royalty, the Penitentiary for Juvenile Offenders cannot easily escape all the sunshine of