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disgrace to the metropolis. The City magistrates have, at length, undertaken to build a new prison. Ground has been obtained for the purpose at Holloway, and the foundations are commenced. We call upon every humane magistrate on the bench to accelerate these works. The present City House of Correction is incapable of improvement, so long as it continues to be crowded as it is now, and the only hope of the benevolent public lies in the speedy completion of the new prison.
MIDWAY from Fleet-street to the river, in Bridgestreet, Blackfriars, stands a stone-fronted edifice, only distinguished from the houses on either side of it by an open doorway leading into an inner court. This is the Bridewell-a prison hardly less intimately connected with the history of London than the neighbouring ruins of the Fleet. As the gaol is out of sight, at the back of the premises, thousands who walk this busy thoroughfare have no knowledge of its existence.—In ancient times, there was a holy well in the vicinity of this place, famed for its wondrous curative virtues : no doubt it was a medicinal spring. Pilgrims, sick in soul or body, flocked to it from all parts of the country to avail themselves of its life-giving properties. The well, as a matter of course, had its monkish legend and its patron saint. St. Bridget or Bride--whose name is yet impressed upon the chief edifices of the locality-was the lady under whose influence the waters wrought such wonders. The lame, the leper, and the aged, always surrounded the holy precincts—and the piety of Edward VI. caused him to give up, for their reception, a “beautiful and stately house” near the spot, which, from the name of the saint, was called the Bridewell. In time, however, the saint lost her peculiar sanctity, and the well its virtues. Pilgrims ceased to travel hither to drink or bathe in the waters, attracted elsewhere by the fame of some newer saint, and the hospital was slack of business. Then the city authorities, to whom Edward had presented the hospital, converted it into a house of correction for unruly apprentices. The disorders of the Bridewell boys—which soon became more notorious than the disorders of the lame, the leper and the blind—are familiar to every one read in the annals of London. By-and-by it became customary to send hither riotous persons of other classes, vagrants and so on. Other buildings for like purposes were also erected in various parts of the country, and the local name of Bridewell went with them—but not its holy associations. In Howard's day the Bridewells had fallen into as deplorable a condition as the worst of the ordinary prisons.
Brídewell, both as a palace and a prison, is frequently referred to by the older drainatists. The stately and beautiful house, as Stow calls it, was built by Henry VIII. for the residence of the Emperor Charles V. during his visit to the court of London. In 1528, says Stow, Cardinal Campeius was brought to the king's presence, being then at Bridewell, whither he had called all his nobility, judges and counsellors ; and there on the 8th of November, in his grand chamber, he made unto them an oration touching his marriage with Queen Katharine. Shakspeare lays the scene of the whole of the third act of Henry VIII. in the palace of Bridewell. It remained a royal palace until Bishop Ridley begged it from Edward VI. as a workhouse for the poor and a home for the vagabond. Madam Creswell, a woman of infamous character, but frequently referred to by the dissolute poets of the time of Charles II., died here. In her will this woman left ten pounds to the person who should preach her funeral sermon, on condition that he said nothing but what was well of her.
A man was found willing to earn the money : after a sermon, therefore, on the general subject of death, he concluded—“ By the will of the deceased, it is expected that I should mention her, and say nothing but what was well of her. All that I shall say of her is this, she was born well, she lived well, and she died well; for she was born with the name of Creswell, she lived in Clerkenwell, and she died in Bridewell.” The fourth plate in Hogarth’s fine story of the “ Harlot's Progress” is a scene in this prison—a scene not much unlike what
still be witnessed. Bridewell is at present a sort of House of Correction to the City of London. The summary convictions, and apprentices sentenced to solitary confinement, are sent hither. Either owing to their improved manners or to their diminished importance in the state, the London 'prentices are seldom to be found here now in any force. Special provision is made for them, and great care is taken to prevent them from entering into any discourse with, or otherwise making the acquaintance of, the low vagrants and misdemeanants who ordinarily occupy the building. They are placed in small cells, closed in with double doors, which shut out sound as effectually as sight. Communication is therefore next to impossible. Sometimes these disorderly apprentices are very troublesome : many of them know something of the great traditions of their order, and are anxious to maintain their ancient reputation for lawlessness and riot. It would, however, be a grand mistake to confound these rollicking youngsters with the felon population of the prison. They are the materials of which City aldermen are made : probably more than one magistrate upon the civic bench can remember his own pugnacious conduct in the Blackfriars Bridewell.-For the correction of such refractory urchins it is well adapted.
As a House of Correction for criminals it could hardly be worse. The building itself is bad, and as it stands upon a cold damp soil, it is far from healthy. In wet weather the doors have water trickling down them, and the air is quite humid. Then the prisoners' apartments are small and straggling. There is a small room here and another there, the whole so ill arranged that no sort of superintendence, worthy of the name, can possibly be maintained. Each talks and does what seemeth good in his own judgment.
The cells and corridors are confined and dark :