Imagens das páginas

is in favour of Brixton ; some of its inmates being robust agricultural labourers; whereas the Clerkenwell prison is almost entirely supplied with the sickly inhabitants of the great city.

These remarks do not lead up to the inference that the faults of this gaol—and they are very grievous ones—admit of no remedies. The magistrates of Surrey contemplate its demolition, and the erection of an entirely new prison on the separate system. They speak of a gaol with 700 cells; and it is said they have already borrowed 110,0001. for the purpose. If this intention be carried out, the expenses will probably amount to 30,0001. more :-about 2001.

per cell being the general cost of a prison on the separate system. But we see no reason for such magnificent outlays. There is plenty of available land on two sides of the present buildings, and these latter might be easily improved and enlarged. For less than half the sum named, if we are not misinformed, accommodation might be made for 700 prisoners, on the labour or self-supporting principle, by taking in the erections now standing, and enlarging at the back.

This is a point for the ratepayers, as well as the visiting justices, to consider. If they are content to expend 140,0001., when 50,0001. or 60,0001. would be amply sufficient, they have a perfect right to do so.


Maurhester Flow Gaul.

The principal gaols in Lancashire are the four great county prisons, viz., Kirkdale, Lancaster Castle, the New Bailey, and Preston House of Correction, and the borough gaols of Manchester and Liverpool. To each of these we shall successively invite the attention of the reader.

As a preliminary, it is well to notice and rectify a common error. Manufacturing districts generallyand Lancashire more than others—are commonly believed to furnish the great mass of our criminals. This mistake is so notorious that it is continually re-appearing in the press and in parliament without contradiction or correction. A recent writer has even gone to the length of asserting it as a law, that crime increases in exact accordance with the density of town populations. To persons unacquainted with statistics, with official returns and blue-book literature, this assumption seems not unnatural. Where can the race of criminals be reared, but in the great cities? Are not the fields and hamlets, where trade comes not, and only flowers

and fragrance flourish, too Arcadian for crime? Oh, of course! every school-boy sees that. If any man doubts, let him forthwith read the poets and be convinced. Do not we all know how


and innocent is the country life? Theocritus and Virgil have not lived in vain-no; nor has Young England written to no purpose.

How are fierce and brutal passions, ignorance, idleness, and dissipation compatible with maypoles and village greens? It is true there are a few poachers, who occasionally invade the peace and purity of the sylvan scenes. Everybody will admit that. Ay, but then they are the exceptions, which prove

the rule. No one's education has been so imperfect as not to acknowledge this.

State papers tell a different tale. It is sad to think how these practical masses of figures in bluebooks spoil our romances. But it cannot be helped. Murder will out—and so will truth. Well, the fact is, then, that this wild, excited, wealthy, whirling Lancashire, is one of the most virtuous—all things considered, perhaps the most virtuous—of the counties of England. Taking for example the elapsed years of this decade, (1840 to 1847,) Chester, Gloucester, Worcester, Warwick, Somerset,—these are the counties which carry off the palm of vice. Middlesex, of course, from its being the head-quarters of wealth, luxury, and fashion, is high on the black list. Lancashire, North Lancashire especially, is low down in it, there being only six counties with a lower proportion of convicted offenders; viz., Cornwall, Durham, Derby, Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland. The following is an excerpt from the returns for 1847 :-Middlesex had 1 conviction in every 334 inhabitants ; Worcester, 1 in 340 ; Gloucester, 1 in 421; Warwick, 1 in 449 ; Surrey, 1 in 496; Chester, 1 in 504; Bucks, 1 in 509; Berks, 1 in 512 ; Southampton, 1 in 518; Wilts, 1 in 538; Hereford, 1 in 544; Rutland, 1 in 551 ; Oxford, 1 in 560 ; Stafford, 1 in 567; Norfolk, 1 in 568; Hertford, 1 in 571; Monmouth, 1 in 581 ; Devon, 1 in 587 ; Somerset, 1 in 589 ; Essex, 1 in 602 ; Dorset, 1 in 603; Sussex, 1 in 609; Suffolk, 1 in 647; Bedford, 1 in 653 ; Kent, 1 in 668; Leicester, 1 in 681 ; Huntingdon, 1 in 696; Cambridge, 1 in 697. Then comes Lancaster—twentyninth in the list of forty English counties—with 1 in 744; a number which contrasts singularly with the returns from some of the more Arcadian and agricultural counties. Yet this return includes the population of Manchester, Liverpool, Wigan, Bolton, Oldham, Preston, and other busy and wealthy towns. Yorkshire, with its great cluster of industrious cities, is still lower in the list-its convictions being only 1 in 972. Mr. Clay, of Preston, who takes a proper pride in the virtues of his county, has laboured to show that Lancaster is about the most orderly and most obedient to the law in England. His facts and his arguments are unauswerable. When we allow for the vast increase of commitments occasioned by the influx of Irish paupers into Liverpool and Manchester ; when we observe the crowds of Celtic faces in the ranks and rows of the New Bailey, Kirkdale,

and Preston House of Correction; and then consider how low, with all these alien additions to swell the return, the criminal calender actually is, we cannot but wonder and admire. More than half the population of the Borough gaol in Liverpool is Irish, and the same proportion will hold good of nearly all the prisons in Lancaster at this moment. Other facts, so far as North Lancashire is concerned, point to the same conclusions. In this division of the county, with a population of 500,000 souls, no execution for capital crime has taken place for more than twelve years. Such a circumstance, we believe, appertains to no other county of like extent in England. This is a striking fact. But to return to our more immediate topic.

The new Manchester gaol for the borough is situate outside the town, about two miles from the Exchange, on a flat piece of ground on the Gorton-road, and conveniently near to the Longsight railway station. The area enclosed within the boundary wall is about ten acres in extent. The wall is lofty, and built of summit stone. At three of the principal angles are octagonal towers, to be used as residences by the officials, which give a certain picturesque effect to the mass of building. The main entrance is a massive gateway, flanked with handsome wings in a bold style of Italian architecture, varied by massive columns and

square blocks of stone, finished in rustic. These wings will form the residences of the governor and chaplain. The whole building forms a striking addition to the architectural beauties of the city.

« AnteriorContinuar »