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matter. At Preston, where the enforced exercise is not, however, more than enough, some of the prisoners complained of, and all would gladly avoid it. They would rather crouch in a corner of their wellwarmed cells. But it is a serious question for society to ask itself— What are such men fit for? Will two years' indulgence in such habits prepare them for a life of renewed trials and struggles ? This is a point of great importance to the tax-payers. It may or may not act well with transports — the exiles of Reading, Wakefield, and Pentonville—that is a distinct subject of discussion ; but before the English public suffer the whole country to be covered with similar expensive institutions, it behoves them to consider how such a system of treatment will act upon minor criminals, the almost innumerable cases which constitute the body, of from three days' to twelve months' sentences.
Notwithstanding the favourable modifications introduced into the separate system in the new gaol at Wakefield, the same classes of mental phenomena develop themselves as at Pentonville. The tendency to insanity-often remote, but nevertheless realcannot be doubted. To get independent information on such a subject from the prison officials is almost out of the question, and naturally so. For the most part, these officers are chosen for their confidence in the system which they have to administer. Nearly all of them are actuated by a desire to carry their experiment out successfully; and those who cannot help having doubts are generally too cautious to speak of their fears. We have therefore only the official reports to assist our judgment in this important point; and while keeping to the letter of fact, we cannot expect the paid inspectors of prisons and the morally responsible visiting justices to make report against themselves. Facts, however, cannot be denied. The last official report gives this list of events in the new gaol at Wakefield connected with our present inquiry Two “suicides ;” one case of “partial insanity;" four cases of “mental delusion ;” and an untold number of cases in which prisoners were “seriously depressed." These returns are not wanting in vagueness, excepting the suicides and the case of insanity; but the vagueness is just the character of all such exhibitions. A man in the incipient stage of mental disease is always “strange," "curious,” “ foolish,” or the like. Effects do not come out boldly and distinctly. They show themselves slowly, and by degrees. Great dubiety characterises these cases. One of the suicides was a woman, within fifteen days of her release ; the other was a man who had been in prison two years, and his term of confinement was within six weeks of expiry. Inquiry was, of course, made in both these cases of self-murder; and the result is that the visiting justices“ believe” that the woman committed the awful deed “from dread of returning into society without the means of gaining a livelihood.” Well, the dead can tell no tales, and the poor creature cannot contradict the magistrate who assigns this motive. But, if she were really so fond of the gaol and so afraid of the world, one might
have thought that, not being a novice in the
of the law, she would have known how to effect a return to prison in a very short time. The man was found dead in his cell. He had inserted a bit of wood in a hole in the wall, and hung himself on it by his braces. What was the cause of this great crime ? The same answer as before. “ The difficulty of finding employment on his discharge seemed to have preyed upon his mind.” The double excuse betrays a great lack of invention. How should he know this difficulty? How realize it in so terrible a shape ? Is there something in the prison system fertile in the conjuration of such horrid phantoms? This is the question of questions. We all know the susceptibility of weak nerves and partly paralysed minds—how readily they create devils to affright themselves with.
But were the minds of these wretches paralysed and their nerves shaken — and how? The magistrates also felt bound to investigate the origin of the minor cases of “insanity,” “ mental delusion,” and “serious depression ;” and they have frankly stated the result of their inquiries thus : “That no connexion could be traced between the diseases which had occurred, and the locality, diet, drainage, or ventilation ; but that there appeared little doubt that the cases of mental delusion might be attributed to the separate system, as they were much benefited by the adoption of a modification of the discipline, showing that the system of total separation’ is not applicable under all cases.
With this decision our own experience entirely coincides.
Flotts County Gaul.
The county gaol of Notts is the Newgate of the midland counties -except in its external appearance. It wants the massive grandeur—the look of solid strength—the impregnable and defying aspect of its metropolitan rival; but for its persistency in retaining all the good, sound, solid, abuses of the past, it refuses to yield the palm. Few better specimens of the horrid dungeon-like prisons in which our forefathers, in their ancestral wisdom," delighted, can now be found in this country. In Spain, in Italy, and in Austria, such places are common enoughmuch too common, even yet, in spite of all the labours of the Congresses of Frankfort and Brussels, and the exertions of royal and noble authors--but in this island they are becoming scarce. The county gaol of Notts is, therefore, a curiosity in its way. There is an air of prison antiquity about it-a patrician dignity, which is peculiar to “houses” of long standing and high position. It is both. It was built long ago, some time in the mythical ages, and it stands on the brow of a lofty precipice, frowning down upon the humble cottages at its base. There is an atmosphere of time and its traditions floating about it. No rude and revolutionary hand has touched its glories. There is enough of the past in its dungeons and corridors to satisfy even the young England squires, who hunt the fox, in the manner of their fathers, over the pastures of their tenants. As well became so vulgar a thing, “the march of improvement” has kept at a respectful distance. The invasion of a spirit of reform, of economy, of humanity, has been successfully repulsed.
The county gaol of Notts, as I have said, is built on a lofty precipice—that is, on the edge of the platform on which the higher part of the town of Nottingham is romantically situated. It is literally built in the rock, out of which the cells are hewn; and could all the work of human hands be removed from its face, the holes, as seen from the marsh below, would have the appearance of enormous eagles' nests, From the main street, by the flank of the Town-hall and Court-house, you descend a narrow passage, which brings you to a gate ; thence you pass, still descending, along another passage leading to an office for the gaoler. This is a low, small
in which an enormous fire must be kept up to expel the damp; and all the walls of which are hung round with chains, manacles, hand-locks, and other engines of coercion. Some of the irons are of frightful weight, and seem to have been made for the race of stalwart Sherwood foresters, rather than for the ordinary run of English felons. Other foul and ugly instruments