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sent in by his friends. But he may not have a part of it only sent in. On admittance, he makes his election, either to maintain himself entirely, or to take the regular fare. An average of a dozen persons always prefer the former course.
But no luxuries are permitted to be introduced into the prison under this regulation. Wines, spirits, tobacco, and all mere luxuries are entirely prohibited, except when brought in by the warrant of the gaol surgeon; and not more than a pint of malt liquor can be obtained each twenty-four hours. With respect to employment, the authorities provide none; but they give each man permission to work for himself, or for any one who will employ him. Thus, the shoemaker's friends bring him in shoes to make or mend ; the tailor's, clothes to repair, and so on. Every man is at liberty to labour in his own vocation, and for his own advantage ; the swindler may overreach himself—the coiner debase his brain, or, like Brutus, coin his heart—the thief may pick his own pocket. The prison has nothing to do with the detenue's labour. If he can turn it to account, he is at liberty to do so, and for his own profit. At first sight this may appear wrong.
To find a man food and lodging at the expense of the county, and yet leave his labour unsequestrated, is no doubt to put a sort of premium upon crime. But the period of his detention is generally so short, that it would cost more to provide the apparatus of work, than could be made out of the sequestrated labour. The experiment has been tried, and found to fail. Until a
man is convicted of crime, he does not willingly settle down to prison labour. His thoughts are all concentrated upon the chances of his trial. Nothing less than the spur of personal profit is able to overcome the tendency to reverie or cogitation under such circumstances. But idleness is so fearful, and at the same time so seductive a vice, that its very approach should be jealously kept off. Any kind of work, even wasted and unprofitable work, like the crank and the wheel, is better than none at all.
The one great fault of this prison is its size. It is too large for the ground on which it stands. The building comes too near the wall. Consequently, it is neither very airy nor very safe. Security is obtained more by the rigorous discipline than by the formidable obstacles presented to escape by the nature of the building. With these points excepted, the Middlesex House of Detention is a fair prison, as prisons now stand. It is far, very far, before Newgate. Before trial—but then the time should be as short as is possible consistent with justice—separation is a good and wholesome system. For a few days it can do little harm. But we should remember that separation, like fasting, is an abnormal condition of human nature, and must not be prescribed for too long periods. Fasting is sometimes very beneficial for short terms ; so may separation be. A wise doctor will guard against carrying the regimen to excess in either case. Society, we should always recollect, is man’s habit ; and to wrest him from it, is, perhaps, the severest of punishments. For a few days, however, no great mental mischief can be done by isolation of the suspected criminal from his fellows ; and the advantages arising from it, in a social point of view, are many and substantial.
COMPARED with Newgate, the prison of Coldbathfields is certainly not an imposing edifice. It has the thorough aspect of the old English gaol. It looks like a house of punishment, though not a place of torture. There is not much to detain us outside, so let us enter. The first idea is one of agreeable surprise : the interior by no means corresponds with the exterior appearance.
First of all, we notice the immense sweep of the wall, which includes no less than nine acres of ground. In front we see the huge pile of buildings appropriated to the prisoners; on the left the offices of the prisons, all clean and orderly to a degree of nicety which it is not always found easy to maintain in a private residence ; on the right stands the governor's house,-anything but repulsive in its appearance; and occupying a large piece of ground along and under the wall, a flowergarden in the finest possible order, and in such a state of culture and floral health as to excite-considering the neighbourhood—both curiosity and interest. This garden, we learn, is cultivated entirely by the prisoners, who are wisely permitted, as considerations of health or good conduct dictate, to have out-door employment. Such a circumstance, taken in connexion with the ample space, the full supply of light and air afforded to the prisoners, and the general system of the prison, causes Coldbathfields to be one of the healthiest places of confinement in the metropolis. Though it has an average of from 1,200 to 1,400 occupants the year round, more than three or four persons are seldom found in the infirmary at once—a state of the health-calendar very different to that of Newgate or Millbank, or even to that of Pentonville, though in this latter establishment convicts of sound constitutions only are chosen as the subjects of the experimental discipline !
The Clerkenwell House of Correction was built in the reign of the first James. The increase of vagabondage had become so great about that time, that the Bridewell no longer served to hold the number of offenders ; the judges therefore built this prison, and the city authorities gave five hundred pounds towards it, for keeping their poor employed.
The oldest portion of the Coldbath-fields prison now standing was built in 1794 ; large additions have been made from time to time, and a considerable wing has just been erected and occupied on the female side. For a long time after it was rebuilt, Coldbath-fields had a reputation for severity. In 1799, Gilbert Wakefield, the classic, expressed a