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outlawed race, and no man felt himself bound, either as a Christian or as a member of society, to treat them as human beings. In this part there is, of course, a treadwheel ; though we are glad to find that it is but seldom put into operation. Purposeless work is almost as bad as no work. While engaged in it, the offender feels that he is doing nothing, that his time and strength are being absolutely thrown away. What an example to set to idleness and depravity, with all the sanction of authority and law !
Nominally, the “silent system ” is in operation in this older portion of the prison ; but it is only nominally so. The straggling plan of the buildings, and especially of the work-shops, prevents proper inspection. Still we apprehend that but little mischief takes place in the work-rooms; for in them the mind is not left to “rot.” The men are engaged in occupations which interest the mind and provide exertion for the body. We would particularly notice the forges and blacksmiths' shops. These, as well as the tailoring, shoemaking, weaving, and other common work-rooms, we should be sorry to see done away with. The sights and sounds of industry with which they abound, are far more agreeable to our senses than the heavy monotony of the silent corridor of separate cells. Herein you can get, not only a considerable return from the labour forfeited by violence to the state, but may induce habits of thrift, industry, and hardihood ; the very qualities which the criminal orders most require to have cultivated. Weakness of character is almost always the leading cause of crime; the men who fall, fall because they are too weak to resist the temptations of pleasure, profit, or indulgence. To strengthen the character—to instruct the mind and brace the will—these are the essential means of reformation. Hard work and good instruction : these are the agencies of redemption for the fallen pariahs of society. But beyond the work-room we have little to commend in the old part of Kirkdale. The education afforded is very inadequate. The schoolroom is a small, dark, miserable hole, into which only about twenty or twenty-four persons can get themselves inserted at any one time. The prison is particularly in need of an improvement in this respect. All the cells in this part are bad. They are small, cold, dark. They are not heated ; and in the winter-frost are bitterly chilly. The floor and walls are of stone. There is no glass in the windows; a small shutter serves at once to shut out the light and to let in the piercing winds. In these miserable kennels—though we ought to apologise to all puppydom for comparing their housements with those of Kirkdale prisoners—three persons are nightly thrust, because there is not room to place them in separate sleeping cells. And why is not more accommodation provided ? Why, Sir, the expense is so very great and times are so very bad. A good and forcible argument, no doubt. Law may be broken and
the human sense of right violated, in case of absolute necessity. But let us be sure that the necessity is real. Truly, when we come out of one of these dark and miserable dungeons, and look upon that very picturesque church front, gilded with the glory of a morning sun, which never finds its way into the cell, we cannot but think it a very “gothic” piece of extravagance indeed.
Livrrpool Borough Gaul.
WITHIN the memory of men still living, the borough gaol of Liverpool was an isolated building. At a distance from the town, and near to the Mersey bank, it stood upon some low meadow lands, and the road to it was a favourite walk with the Liverpool promenaders. It was built in the time of Howard, on the designs of Mr. Blackburn, and, for its day and generation, was a great stride in prison improvement, as any one may see who will take the trouble to compare it with the descriptions of the pandemonium which it superseded. In the wartime it was used as a place of security for prisoners of war, and
many a man is still alive who cair remember his father taking him to the grim, gaunt, and terrible place, to let him have a peep at the “ wicked Frenchmen” there incarcerated. son is now, however, in the heart of one of the lowest parts of the town, in the immediate vicinity of the docks, and on the Waterloo-road.
In the last general report presented to the Home Secretary, the magistrates of the borough remark :
The pri“The average number of prisoners lately has been about 800, and on several occasions the number has not been less than from 900 to 980. This extraordinary increase in the number of prisoners confined in a gaol calculated only for 750, has rendered necessary a few alterations in some of the wards and other temporary measures to meet the pressure.” Very neatly set down! The terms, however, require a slight amendment to fit the present time. The prison was constructed, at the suggestion of Howard, so as to afford a separate sleeping-room for each individual ; and, in strict language, it can only be said to be calculated to accommodate as many prisoners as it possesses separate sleeping-cells. These are
-for debtors, 18; for criminals and misdemeanants, 321 : total, 339. On the other hand, we are sorry to say that the number of inmates still continues to increase. The prison has always been overcrowded, or at least has been so for some years past; but now it is in a state of frightful demoralisation from the excess of numbers. In 1846, the average was 549 ; in 1847 it advanced to 659, being double the number for which it is calculated, within an insignificant fraction. In that year
the greatest amount of prison population at any one time was 747; at the end of 1848 it had gone up to 1,047. These figures suggest their own morals; 1,047 offenders shut up in a gaol built to accommodate only 339 !
What, in the name of all that is diabolical, can be expected from such a mode of dealing with criminals