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pleasures are past, all the fatal consequences alone remain. He calls to mind, for he can still recollect, his days of innocence, of security and happiness, and these appear the happier and the brighter from the contrast with his present misery. He regrets the errors of his life: if he has a wife, children, or near relations, sentiments of affection for them revive and strengthen in his heart, mixed with remorse for the misfortunes and disgrace he has brought upon them. There is yet another advantage of his solitary situation. It is singularly favourable to the influence of religion. In this total absence of all external pleasures or impressions, religious ideas obtain new power over his soul. Still struck with the idea of his crime, his misfortunes, and the singular or peculiar circumstances which have led to the detection of his crime; the more he reflects upon these things, the more he thinks he feels the interposition of the hand of Providence, which by unknown ways has confounded his devices, and set at nought all his precautions. But if it be God who punishes him, it is God alone who can relieve him; and full of this persuasion, he begins to think more and more seriously of the threats and the promises which are held out by religion-threats, of which in the region of solitude and darkness he begins to feel the accomplishment-promises, which open to him, if he repent, a perspective of eternal happiness. A inan must be formed of materials different from the generality of mortals, if in this situation he refuses admittance to the consolations of religion." * * * "A minister of religion, availing himself of this propitious moment, who brings the balm of religious instruction and hope to the humbled and dejected criminal, is the more secure of success, since in this forlorn situation he appears as the only friend and benefactor of the wretched."
The opinion of the beneficial effects of solitary confinement does not depend on theory only, but is supported by facts and attested by high authorities. Howard, in speaking of the solitary cells of Newgate, says, "I have been informed by those who had frequent and long opportunities of observation, that criminals, who affected the most undaunted assurance and preserved the most intrepid air during their trial, and who even had shown no symptom of sensibility on hearing their sentence of death pronounced, were nevertheless struck with horror, and shed tears, on entering these gloomy solitary cells."
Hanway also gives us the evidence he received from one of the keepers of Clerkenwell prison. He assures us that all those prisoners who had been confined in solitary cells gave in a few days extraordinary signs of penitence.
In contrast with the advantages of solitary confinement, our author
author places the disadvantages of crowding together in prison offenders of different ages, of different degrees of moral depravity, and of different degrees of knowledge of evil.
"This unhappy result of the ill-regulated, indiscriminate, society in prisons, is too manifest to have escaped even the most superficial observers. That prisoners shut up together in a narrow space, corrupt one another, is a common saying. This observation is made continually in a variety of forms, and frequently with the addition of abundance of metaphors. The word corruption, like most of the words which compose our moral vocabulary, is unluckily less adapted to give precise ideas than to express a vague sentiment of disapprobation. To avoid, then, the declamatory style, we must examine the particular evils, the pernicious habits, which arise from this mixture of society; and we may thus obtain a clear idea of what is meant by corruption. The hurtful consequences of this mixed society in prisons are-the strengthening the motives that prompt to the commission of crimes; weakening the considerations which restrain from crimes, and the gaining new knowledge in the art of executing evil."********
"With respect to the motives which excite to crime, it may be sufficient here to advert to that which is most common-rapacity, or the desire of gain; the greatest number of crimes arise from this source. Among, the lower classes, the product of a petty theft goes further in purchasing pleasures than could the lawful wages of a day's labour. Some of their pleasures can be bought at a low price: food; strong liquors; dress; lottery tickets; tickets for the play-house; and to crown all-women. Now all these things form the continual subject of conversation among prisoners, and have been the motive for the criminal exploits of those among them, who by their talents or their success have acquired celebrity. Round them is formed a circle of eager, humble, auditors, who listen with envy and admiration to the history of the prowess of the hero. The imagination is inflamed by these stories, which, for such an audience, have all the merit and the charm of romance,-intrigues, dangers, courage, glory, success, and the rewards of success. The more numerous the society in prison, the more will these histories of adventures be varied; and what can be more natural, more interesting, for prisoners, than to inquire into the particulars of the exploits which have brought them to live together?"
Whilst all the vicious passions are thus nourished and strengthened, all those considerations which tend to restrain from the commission of crime are combated and weakened, "The first object of all these associates is to treat the law with contempt, and to brave its threats. Each, instigated by pride, affects indifference
VOL. I. NO. I.
difference for the punishment which he feels, or which he fears; he dissembles his painful sensations; he exaggerates his pleasures; and piques himself, according to the proverbial phrase, in putting a good face upon a losing game. Thus the proudest and the most intrepid becomes the model for all the rest: he excites their sensibility till he raises it to the pitch of his own enthusiasm.From feelings of natural sympathy, also, fellow-prisoners strive to soften each other's sufferings, and to console one another by little good offices and proofs of good-will, which increase not only their mutual confidence and attachment, but the power they obtain over each other by conversation, precept, and example. It may be said, perhaps, that to suppose the existence of such benevolence and kind affections among the people's wretched lee,' is to give them virtues which they do not possess. But those are mistaken who imagine that human creatures are either perfectly good or utterly bad. Even those whose crimes have brought them under the penalties of the law, may have still left within them some estimable or amiable qualities;-they may especially be susceptible of compassion. Experience proves this to be true. We should fear to calumniate even vice."
The sense of honour and morality in a prison, however, is not that which is useful to society at large. The sort of honesty, or of honour, which is in esteem among them, is that which is useful only to their own banditti; such as that of the Arabs, who live by pillage, but who are renowned for their good faith towards those of their own tribe. The perverted state of society among criminals shut up together promiscuously in prisons, operates in destroying not only the restraints to vice which arise from a sense of morality, or from the fear of public opinion, but it also tends inevitably to destroy the still more powerful restraints of religion. "These depend on the fear of the punishments denounced by God either in this life or the next, against those who disobey his commands. In the Christian religion, the crimes prohibited by human laws are those which are also prohibited by divine laws; and the influence of religion, extending as it does even to the most secret actions and thoughts, is a restraint peculiarly necessary to this class of men. Religion is at first rather forgotten, than destroyed, in the minds of the generality of offenders, especially in those who are only novices in guilt; but the religious impressions which they may have early received are perhaps weak, and easily effaced. What will become of them in a prison? Though they may not, perhaps, hear in a prison disputes about the existence of a God, or the truth of revelation; though they may not meet with dogmatical professors of incredulity, Manicheans, or subtle disciples of Hobbes, Spinosa, Boulanger, Bayle,
or Freret; yet the arguments which they may hear will have the more effect from being suited to the level of their capacities; the buffooneries of a profane jester will be reason sufficient with his companions; sarcasms against the ministers of religion will to them be a complete refutation of religion itself; and the bully who loudly maintains that only cowards let themselves be intimidated by threats of punishment in another life, is too sure to touch the most tender chord, that false sentiment of honour by which his auditors are governed.-Besides destroying all these religious and moral restraints, which deter from vice, this association of criminals furnishes them with the means of becoming perfect in the whole science and practice, and in all the mysteries, of crime: their conversation, animated by the vanity of the speaker and the sympathy of the auditors, continually turns, as we have observed, on the ingenious means, the frauds and impostures, to which they attribute their success. In a prison are learned all the secrets of the trade, the preparations for robberies, the methods of disguise, the arts of escape and evasion, and all the stratagems of this anti-social war. If the anecdotes of robberies and murders have, as we usually find, the power of exciting general curiosity, how much more interesting must they be for those whose secret inclinations they flatter, and whom they at the same time instruct in the means of gratifying their vicious propensities! Thus is formed in a prison a depôt of criminal experience, to which each individual contributes: 30 that he who was skilled only in one branch of this pernicious manufacture soon becomes an adept in every other.-We see, then, that the common_expression,that a prison is a school for vice-is but too just. This school for vice far surpasses most other schools by the force of the motives which operate upon the scholars, and by the efficacy of the means of instruction. In other schools, the motive in general is fear, which has to struggle continually against the disposition to idleness in these schools of vice the stimulant is hope, which concurs and combines with the habitual inclinations of the pupils. In one case, the science to be learned is taught only by a master who may or may not be qualified to teach; but in the other case each scholar contributes to the instruction of all.-In a legitimate school, the pupil has amusements far more agreeable than his prescribed occupations or tasks; in the school for criminals, instruction in the arts of vice becomes the principal recreation of their melancholy state of confinement."
If this were the proper place for it, we could produce curious facts in confirmation of all that is here asserted. One anecdote, mentioned by the editor in a note, we cannot omit.
"A very extraordinary robbery was committed about the year
1780 at Lyons. The police, not being able to obtain any informa tion concerning the perpetrator of the crime, sent one of their own officers to the Bicetre, disguised as a prisoner. There he played his part well: he interested his audience extremely by the detailed account he gave of his recent exploit. In this assembly of connoisseurs in criminal arts, one amongst them suddenly exclaimedNo man alive but Philip could have made such a great stroke!' This was a ray of light to the police- Philip was in fact the head of the gang; but he had taken his measures to secure his flight and his booty."
To go on with our business-Imprisonment, which is one of the class of simply restrictive punishments, is compared with compulsory and active punishments, such as working at the galleys formerly in France-working on the Thames in England-working on the high roads; or any kind of compelled labour, either at public works, or in Bridewells, or Houses of Industry, &c.
Here we meet with a fact well worth recording, and which may serve as a warning to legislators, not to wear out that sensibility to shame, which is one of the most powerful motives by which they can govern the good, and reform the criminal.
"In public works, where criminals are employed, the publicity of their disgrace tends more to deprave the individuals, than the habit of labour tends to reform them. At Berne there are two classes of offenders: the one employed in cleaning the public streets, and in public works; the others are occupied in the interior of the prisons.-These last, after their liberation, seldom are guilty of fresh offences, seldom are brought again under the penalties of the law: the other class are scarcely set at liberty before they make use of their freedom to commit new crimes. At Berne, this difference was generally ascribed to the impudence acquired by those, who, from the nature of their punishment, had been exposed to daily, renewed, disgrace. Besides, it is possible that after they had undergone such ignominy, no one in the country would have any communication with them, or would give them any employment." [To be continued.]
ART. XI.-Memoirs of Granville Sharp, Esq. By Prince Hoare. 4to. London 1820.
R. THOMAS SHARP, the first of the excellent ancestors of Mr. Granville Sharp mentioned in these Memoirs, was a respectable tradesman at Bradford in Yorkshire. During the war between Charles the First and the Parliament, "he rose into notice from the particular degree of favour in which he stood