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a subject of national pride. It is therefore, in this, and indeed in every point of view, desirable, that the whole of its proceedings should be strictly consistent; and, as the law equitably regards the untried as innocent, it is the more anxiously to be withed, that those whom it has declared innocent, should not be confounded with the guilty. If it can be proved that the ends of justice are more effectually answered by this practice of detention, let it by all means be enforced.. But however we may concur with Sir Richard in the view which he has taken of this subject, we are obliged to remark, that the manner in which it appears to have been insisted on is not very consistent with that decorum which the subject itself required, and to which the parties interest ed in the discussion were eminently entitled. Upon this occafion, and indeed in most instances in which the sheriffs have interfered, Sir Richard has contrived to advance himself so prominently, as to reflect on his worthy colleague the discredit of comparative inactivity. The correspondence between the sheriffs, introduced in the appendix, sufficiently shows, that Mr Sheriff Smith was by no means treated with the respect which he merited, both as senior officer, and as a colleague in the execution of the same duties. This want of harmony is the more to be regretted, since, wherever it subfifts between those who fill the higher magisterial offices, it is uniformly productive of some public disadvantage. The tone and character of Sir Richard's letters to his colleague, respecting their memorial to the Recorder of London on the objectionable practice of detention, very evidently proves, that Sir Richard's conduct was equally precipitate and disrespectful. Our limits will not permit us to do more than refer the reader to the appendix of the work before us, if he should happen to feel more interest than ourselves in the querulous correspondence of these worthy magistrates.
We have now to perform the very painful duty of accompanying the sheriffs through the gaols within their jurisdiction; and many of our readers will, we have no doubt, shudder at the scenes which they present, of misfortune, misery, and crimi. nality. The prisons which come under the cognizance of the sheriffs of London, are, Newgate, or the county gaol ; the Poultry and Giltspur-street Compters, which are the city prisons; and Ludgate, which is appropriated for debtors who are citizens of London.
Newgate is the great receptacle for prisoners of every description. The annual average number of persons confined in this gaol, is said to fluctuate from four to five hundred prisoners. A few years ago, nearly eight hundred were at one time confined there. A contagious fever was the consequence of this barbarous VOL. XIII. NO, 25.
ed. They have a little better accommodation with respect to room ; but, as the average number of debtors has been computed at about two hundred persons, the gaol is not sufficiently large to admit of a separation of classes, suited to their different habits and feelings. They are, besides, subjected to many restraints, which are not imposed on those who are confined in the Fleet and King's Bench prisons. The very circumstance of being committed for debt to Newgate, has a tendency to degrade an unfortunate individual, more than confinement for the same cause in any other prison. The character and appearance of this gaol are suited to the exclusive reception of felons. The unhappy debtor feels debased, in his own estimation, by imprisonment under the same roof with thieves and murderers; and the assistance which he would often receive in any other place, is denied him in a gaol where he most requires it, and where, it is falsely presumed, that none but the most degraded and worthless of mankind are detained. Like the soldier disgraced by corporal punishment, he often ceases afterwards to put a just value on himself in the station in which he is placed. The plan of appropriating Newgate for the reception of felons alone, and of confining debtors in a separate prison, which has been often proposed, and is strongly recommended in the work under consideration, could not fail to be productive of great advantages ; especially if strict attention were given to the important point of dividing the prisoners into such classes as might prevent all the injurious consequences arising from that indiscriminate mixture of persons, which surely cannot be too severely censured.
- In the want of room,’ Sir Richard observes,' is comprehended most of the evils which belong to this prison. Separation cannot be effected among the different classes of the prisoners, while there is only one small yard, containing but two wards, for every description of women, and while there are but two common yards for every description of men. Those only committed for trial; those actually convicted ; hardened and first offenders ; the profligate and the evildisposed ; the innocent and the guilty, ought not to be mingled indiscriminately together. While this is the practice, Newgate is necessarily little better than a public seminary of vice, and for teaching the art of thieving. I have been shocked to see boys of thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen, confined for months together in the same yard with hardened and incorrigible offenders. Those committed for first, or for small offences, are constantly placed within this same sphere of moral contamination. I have attempted all that could be done with two yards; and for many months the transports and respites from death have been kept in one yard, while the fines, and persons committed for trial, have been kept in the other. Of course, however, amidst persons of these two general descriptions, would be M2