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cult to realise the idea, yet it is a thought of a prisoner's condition historical reality, that around the and fate, to question whether, after wealthy seaports of Britain many a all, this elaborate machinery for safe household was subject to the same custody was more humane than the terrors and domestic privations, which speedy and remorseless remedies of in later days drew the sympathy of all their more selfish and less considerate good men to the dusky dwellers in contemporaries. The old jail, such as the huts of Senegambia and Congo, Howard found it to be in all parts of De Foe's amusing Life of Colonel the empire, has been sketched by Jack is the story of a boy kidnapped Lord Cockburn in a few words with in Newcastle and sold in Virginia ; a rare felicity, due to his having and the incident was not more unna- lived through the transition stage tural in its day than Marryat's anec- of prison discipline, and feeling the dotes of press-gangs during the great force of the contrast between the old war.
and the new. Of the“ Heart of MidWhen this American outlet was Lothian” he says: “A most atrocious stopped by the Revolution, there jail it was, the very breath of which arose a cry, far louder than any that almost struck down any stranger who has lately been uttered, to rid the entered its dismal door, and as illBritish empire of her increasing and placed as possible, without an inch terrible band of felons. They ought, of ground beyond its black and horit was said, to be cast at once into rid walls. And these walls were the desert; either they must go, or very small, the entire bole being honest men must go-there was no filled with little dark cells ; heavy room within these two islands for manacles the only security; airless, both. The cry of that age was far waterless, drainless, a living grave. more reasonable than the cry of 1856. One week of that dirty, fetid, cruel The science of punishment had hardly torture-house was a severer punishgot beyond the principle of getting ment than a year of our worst modern rid of criminals by the shortest prisons, more dreadful in its suffermeans : if these were merciful, it was ings, more certain in its corruption, well, but the shortest should be taken. overwhelming the innocent with a Frequent executions were not so more tremendous sense of despair, much the fruits of hardened cruelty, provoking the guilty to more audaor of the doctrine that society must cious defiance."--Memorials, p. 242. take vengeance upon criminals, as of With no other alternative but the the feeling of relief-of clean effectual cramming of such receptacles, it quittal-created by the extinction of seemed not only a blessed riddance an evil life. Imprisonment, such as to the country, but a merciful disit was in Britain, was a homage to pensation to the wretched victims the doctrine that a community must themselves, to shovel them forth into bear the burden of its criminals, such the most distant solitude known on as other nations did not pay. In the face of the globe, and leave them France, and over the European con- there. The cry was responded to in tinent generally, to have been in pri- the spirit in which it was raised ; son was almost a patent of nobility. and with so thorough an absence of Custody within strong walls was too all forethought and arrangement was costly a punishment for criminals of the first cargo of convicts freighted the common order. The prisons were off to Australia, that the fine inlet on state fortresses, dedicated to the cus- which stands the capital of New tody of persons important enough to South Wales was literally discovered affect the interests of the state ; for by the expedition wandering along the humbler people, ignominious the vast coast of the island-continent death, mutilation, stripes, the pillory, in search of the most eligible of the and gang-slavery were the appropri- landing-places which fortune might ate punishments. And when, in the place at their disposal. At home reign of George III., the ever-thought- there was an immediate feeling of ful British people found that their jails relief. Half the circumference of the were becoming fuller and fuller, it globe was placed between society naturally occurred to them, as they and its greatest pests. There was
much natural chuckling on the wis- from his nearest neighbour, would dom of a scheme which gave little have little opportunity for the pracchance of even the expiree returning, tice of the accomplishments in which since only by a long and costly voy- he excelled. Among the more violent age could he enjoy his liberty at criminals the unsubdued passions home. As to the real fate of the would occasionally arise, and a muroutcasts, people were not too curious der or a burning-down would diversify in their inquiries. Whatever it was, the monotony of colonial life. But the public were inclined to find á on the whole, during their infancy general verdict of “served them and youth, the penal settlements right.” Of the miseries to which rubbed on in a tolerably satisfactory they were exposed we can only form manner. It was when wealth and a general notion by the rapidity with population increased, and the new which death removed them from social system, into which the consuffering. A not unnatural incident victs were to be diffused, came to an expedition sent to land “any- into existence, that the criminal elewhere," was a failure in the arrange- ment was found too strong for the ments to supply it with food. Fa- virtuous. No general terms can conmine followed ; and before a system vey an adequate expression of the of supply was fully organised, a result. In the island, which used to second cargo of convicts was thrown be called by the appropriately-soundon shore. That death had been busy ing name of Van Diemen's Land, with these -- 164 had died in one there was, perhaps, more human vessel- seems to have been received wickedness concentrated together, as a merciful dispensation, since it than the world in its long history brought the number to be fed in the had ever before experienced. The new colony within the compass of its energy of the Anglo-Saxon race and resources.* There is a tragic signifi- the skill of a high civilisation were cance in these words of Governor yoked to the service of the most Collins—“Had not such numbers brutal propensities of the savage. died, both in the passage and since There were scenes which civilisation the landing of those who survived buries beneath deadened memories, the voyage, we should not at this as the Dead Sea and the Salt Desert moment have had anything to re- cover the cities of the plain ; and ceive from the public stores : thus the ingenious philosopher who specustrangely did we derive a benefit from latively discovered man's first step the miseries of our fellow - crea- out of cannibalism, had he been there, tures."
might have practically studied the Those who looked into the trans- conditions under which civilisation portation system beyond the mere can drive him back to this primitive riddance promised by it, anticipated resource of the barbarian conqueror; that a severance from old habits and and yet might have found that huold companions might prompt the man ingenuity had developed praccriminal to start on a new and better tical horrors beyond this creation
To give him the means of of his imagination. The penal colore-entering a new social system, it nies were not left to this terrible was thought good that free emigrants fate without an effort for their reshould be encouraged to settle in demption. Philanthropy attempted the penal colony. The arrangement its mitigation. The social amenities seemed to work well. The scanty which grow in the school of virtue population scattered over a large were brought artificially into the space, and many other circumstances, mart of vice. They made it worse : created conditions unfavourable_tó for, lacking one-half of the natural the development of crime. The conditions of social wellbeing and expert London thief, placed in a purity, partial freedom aggravated gum-slab hut little larger than his the depraved tendencies, and proved coffin, on a wide-squatting allotment, that beinys so degraded by misfeeding on tea and damper, ten miles management could be dealt with
* COLLINS' New South Wales, i. 123.
solely by the even hand of discipline. He is quite right. The Diddler, after a The easy recklessness with which long and brilliant career, got “lagged" the convict had been cast to the op- at last
. With the happy versatility posite end of the earth had now of his order he immediately assimithoroughly reacted on the commu- lated himself to the enforced connity which exulted over the riddance. ditions of his new mode of life. In A social condition of such a character the convict-prison at home, in the that it cannot, without an outrage on transport-ship, ever obedient to rule, decorum, be described except vaguely, civil, obliging, and handy, he entitled was that into which parents had to himself to the good opinion of all the send their sons and daughters, if they officers. He passed through the wished them to participate in the for- hands of several chaplains, some of tunes of the most successfulofcolonies. whom referred to him in tracts and While the ear still rings with the sermons as a brand snatched from cry to send the convicts back again, the burning; while even the most we are apt to forget how loud was suspicious of them could not but say the demand that Government should that he had expressed himself as conabandon the pandemonium at the trite, and had given a willing ear to antipodes. And the punishment, spiritual instruction, which might, it
. attended by so many horrors abroad, was hoped, not be totally barren of was it really a terror to evil-doers good fruit.' Thus he arrived with a at home? Of the hardships which Haming character, and was assigned ended many a life, they heard little. to a good master-strict but kind. At all times abject misery has diffi- Under judicious discipline, he was culty in sounding its complaints to kept so clear of his old practices, that a distanee. Success, however, has he was not detected in any: and the means of trumpeting its renown, when at last he obtained a ticket-ofand the echoes of prosperity among leave, there was a sum at his disposal transported convicts drowned the sufficient for the establishment of a faint inurmurs of disaster. The cri- grog-shop: Meantime his “blowen,” minal class, true to their order, the Smasher, left at home forlorn, nourish every incident or argument pursued her vocation recklessly, until tending to prove that, after all that she too was "booked” and sent after is pattered about righteousness and him ; and so these two loving hearts integrity, it may turn out that they were united to commence that Elyare in the right and the moralisers sian life of wealth and prosperity in the wrong. To show what ground which rewards the constancy and the newly-arrived convict might have fortitude of the hero and heroine in for sending exulting news home to legitimate romance. They are not a his companions, let us for a moment shade more honest, this couple, than realise the examples which, it has they were when they met at the flash been shown on abundant evidence, shop to get up some job to allay hunhe was likely to see on his arrival ger and recruit the ragged wardrobe. at Sydney.
But of late they have been so rapidly Past him rolls an open carriage mounting fortune's wheel, that they magnificently equipped, occupied by have had no opportunity to resume a well-dressed man, whose full form their old business. and lustrous face betoken high liv- The new-comer might have seen ing, and his careless lounge indolence the same prosperity typified around and wealth. Opposite to him sits a him in many shapes. These busy woman in silk and fur, weighted with warehouses by the wharf are the projewellery. You will call her appear- perty of the eminent “fence” who ance brazen-faced, or haughty, accord- trained half the thieves in Whiteing to the extent to which it deceives chapel. The owner of the suburban you about her real character. Faint mansion, gleaming in plate-glass, with reminiscences begin to dawn on the the portal heavily decorated with awed and admiring convict. Is it heraldic devices, is a bold blackleg,
, possible! Can that be his old “pall,” who, after hundreds of dishonest acts the Downy Diddler-and that stun- within the margin of the law, was so ning lady, is she Bess the Smasher? far deserted by his habitual prudence
as to attach another man's name to a was the squatting system. The bill instead of his own. There were squatters, though the term was humstill some slight drawbacks in the ble enough in its origin, were the prosperous convict's lot. He could territorial aristocracy of Australianot, for instance, by any effort suc- and a very powerful aristocracy, ceed in being presented at Govern- They were capítalists; and in a land ment House; and a sympathising where a great proportion of the public of the devoted worshippers of people were needy, and the law was wealth have thought it hard that feeble, their capital gave them a there should be a privilege of this power restrained by few responsikind which wealth could not buy for bilities, They grasped at vast a man because of his antecedents. stretches of territory; and when the
The knowledge that transportation Government insisted that the sovemight open the way to fortune, was reignty of the British Crown should often exemplified in courts of justice, be asserted over the seizures, they by an episode—soon, let us hope, likely maintained an obstinate contest, to be a tradition of the past the which ended in a compromise, by convict, on his sentence being award- which they paid a small licence-duty ed, loudly thanking the court for for their runs. In the scanty pasgiving him the high punishment of tures of Australia, where several transportation, instead of the lower acres are required to feed one sheep, nominal punishment of imprison- the owner of the flocks dispersed ment. It is true that transportation over wide stretches required a num. had some terrors and disagreeables. ber of dependants of a humble and Instances have been known of tears servile character. The clever artished by the convict at the parting san or the ambitious peasant loathed scene;
but, as a witness before the the monotony of the bush. Slaves last Committee on Transportation would have been an extremely conjustly remarked, there are tears shed venient commodity to these squatting at the embarkation of emigrants, and lords, and they tried to obtain as yet people emigrate from choice. much of it as the constitution perThere is much open ground for mitted to our colonies. They enspeculation on the amount of terror deavoured to make arrangements, by which the chance of transportation which “assisted emigrants”—those may have communicated to criminals whose outfit and passage money were generally. But more instructive than wholly or partially paid from their all such speculations, is the significant land-fund-should be bound to serve fact. that there were very alarming on the lands to which they were symptoms of outbreak when it was exported ; should be, in short, adimparted to the convicts in the scripti glebæ, like feudal villains ; large prisons that they were not to but it was too late in the progress of be transported for the periods to free principles for such a project to which they were sentenced, but to be realised. They had therefore to be detained in Britain for periods content themselves with the best averaging half the time. The female available alternative, and endure the convicts in Brixton proclaimed their idleness and mischievousness of asdisappointment by a frantic and un- signed convicts. This field for the controllable outbreak. Some of them expansive dispersal of convicts was had the hardihood to maintain that quite peculiar. Such another may they were grossly deceived and possibly arise, but cannot be counted wronged, since they had pleaded on. The squatting interest fought guilty to false charges to obtain the hard for the continuance of transbenefit of transportation.
portation. But the depression That transportation to Australia, partly caused by the losses from unwith all its prominent evils, should usual droughts - which began to have so long existed, and at last come weigh on the Australian colonies to so sudden an end, is owing to a about the year 1840, broke the sulocal peculiarity which at first modi- premacy of the squatters. Meanfied the growth of the evil, and after- while other interests—as, for instance, wards protracted its existence. This the building, the mercantile, and the
copper-mining, had risen to power; should be afforded to the prisoner and even before the discovery of the for spiritual instruction; but the regold-fields, the influences opposed sult cannot be recorded, for these are to the reception of convicts had matters beyond the function of statriumphed. The diggings at last tistics; and it is at once obvious concentrated, in one wild hunt after that to admit the criminal to plead gold, all the reckless and fierce spirits religious reformation and change of scattered along the border of Aus- heart as a ground for reinstatement tralia. There was no longer a voice in society, as if he were a good and to support a practice which, on the honest man, would be the offer of a one hand, recruited this dangerous bribe for the grossest hypocrisy. It assemblage by pouring into it the is feared that even the slight influcriminality of Britain ; and, on the ence which a prison-chaplain's good other, professed to punish offenders by opinion of a convict may have in his sending them to that golden harvest favour, is often a temptation to those after which all restless spirits aspired. masters of the art of duplicity to Transportation to the old Australian exercise their skill. colonies was consequently doomed. It is for temporal purposes alone
Until some other opening presents that we can speak of the results of itself, we must draw largely on the prison discipline. Its immediate resources of prison discipline at home object is to make both those who are in the disposal of convicts; and it under its infliction, and those who is therefore a more important ques- may some day be so, aware that abtion than for nearly a century it stinence from crime is the best policy. has been, In what condition is the In the matter of reformation, there science of prison discipline ?--
? seems yet much to be learnt about the what has it accomplished !—what character of the motives which influcan it do for us? The majestic theo- ence criminals. Benevolent gentlerist, who deals not with results un- men transcribe them from the moless they are sudden, brilliant, and tives that have influence on their overwhelming, says of course that own kind and honest hearts. Judgprison discipline is a failure. Were ing from the motives by which they it so, the position of Britain at this are often expected to be influenced, moment would be awkward ; but is one might suppose the criminal it so ? Perhaps those who question classes to be very eminent for their the progress it has made, compare its susceptibility to all kindly and gentle results with those of other agents, emotions-generous, frank, confiding, without remembering the difference and grateful. But the truth is, that of the material to be wrought on. they are rather below the average of The clergyman, the schoolmaster, and the world in general, in these amiable the social reformer, have to deal with qualities. Their wills are weak average mankind. The jailer's func- enough, but their hearts are genetion is among a population selected by rally hard; as the hearts of many a the criterion of their wickedness, and mother, wife, or sister, broken against it is utterly losing sight of the practical theirs during their obdurate career, and obtainable ends of prison discip- can testify. There has been, indeed, line, to expect that any method shall in the career of many of them a mobe discovered which at once, as if ment when a word of gentle counsel, by a chemical combination, shall a little kindly assistance, perhaps a convert criminality to goodness. touch of well-directed attention,
Every Christian must believe that might have turned them into a diffethere is one way in which a criminal rent groove from that fatal one in may be thoroughly changed. He which they have been hurried on. In may have undergone religious con- many instances, too, where the end version, and have awakened to such has been confirmed crime, there had a sense of the sinfulness of his career doubtless been at one juncture a conin the eye of God, that he shall sin dition of the heart which it would no more. But it is not for man to bring immortality to a tragic poet to read the record of such an interven- be able to see and draw; when in a tion. Every possible opportunity moment of aggravated temptation