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LONDON:

R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HILL.

TO

The Right Ljun. the Earl of Carlisle,

MY LORD,

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THE titles of Peer and Minister of State are among the least of those which have induced in me the wish to connect your Lordship's name with this Volume.

They are, nevertheless, considerations which, in a like the present, it is not unimportant to add to the others; because they infer the poweras you have the will to secure the progress of our great Social Reforms; one of the most important of which-already inscribed with the name of a former Howard-this Book is written to promote.

With every sentiment of esteem,

I am, your LORDSHIP's

Most obedient, humble Servant,

HEPWORTH DIXON.

PREFACE.

ABOUT twelve months ago I commenced a series of

papers in the Daily News on the chief prisons of the metropolis. My object was twofold : (1) to paint the actual condition of these little-known establishments at the present time; and (2) to lay before the public such facts as help to form a judgment on the comparative merits of the various schemes of criminal treatment now in course of open trial. The revelations made in the course of these inquiries were found to possess for the public a far greater interest than I could have expected. The articles were copied as they appeared into several London and provincial papers. They were translated from time to time into French and German ; they were also reprinted in America. So favourable a reception induced me to revisit and report upon some of the chief prisons in the provinces, and to adopt the idea of collecting the reports into a volume on their completion.

The latter circumstance led me also to enlarge the plan, so as to take in the Past as well as the Present

-the Political Dungeon as well as the Felon's Cell. The “papers” had, consequently, to be rewritten and greatly increased in length ; in fact, they can only be considered as the germs of the present work, twothirds of which is entirely new.

A few words will suffice as to the sources whence my information is derived. So far as regards the actual condition of the various prisons, all the statements are made from personal knowledge and on my own responsibility. The details given in respect to their past history are nearly all gleaned from my own reading. The Tower only excepted, the London prisons have never' yet found a historian : a case of neglect by no means merited, considering how closely they are connected with the social and literary history of our country. Nearly all the information which is still extant lies widely scattered in plays, poems, letters, biographies, and sermons. It was not my purpose--as will be found explained elsewhereto collect these fragments; but I have not omitted to weave into my work such of them as seemed to me to possess a peculiar interest, anecdotical, social, or literary. I indulge in the hope that this volume will supply a long-felt desideratum in the literature of our domestic history.

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