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of the defendants, when called upon, before the judge. things can be conceived which more deeply concern our countrymen, than the scene which we have united our endeavours with those of Mr. Pearce, to lay open to their view. Here, for the present, we shall make a pause. The remaining parts of the business we shall endeavour to explain at a future opportunity.
ART. V.-Spanish Prisons.
ROM epoch in which the Inquisition refined upon and
Fperfected all the horrors of imprisonment, the state of the gaols
in the Peninsula had until lately been most dreadful. During the French invasion, though the immediate melioration of the prisons was frequently discussed, the whole nation was too incessantly occupied by the terrible struggle in which it was engaged, to give any efficient attention to this, or indeed any other subject unconnected with that devastating war. Something, however, was done; and the abolition of the "Holy Office" released many victims from that "awful thrall," which placed them beyond the reach even of benevolent curiosity, and left them to the arbitrary decrees of secret tribunals, and to the unseen vengeance of irresponsible and unknown judges.
Many of the leading characters of Spain have at one period or another learned, by sad and severe experience, the miseries of the former prison system; they have been taught to sympathize with the wretched prisoner, for they have been the witnesses of, and the sharers in, the horrors of his imprisonment.
At Madrid, the writer of this article has seen cells from which prisoners have come forth in utter and incurable blindness: there were others in which the body could rest in no one natural position, neither sitting, nor standing, nor kneeling, nor lying down.
Though numberless instances of cruelty rush upon his mind, their recital might be ill-placed here; but it may be well, for the sake of illustration, to refer to the sufferings of two individuals, well known in this country, who have since occupied high and important offices in the state. One of them stated, that in the three first days of his arrest he employed himself in counting the number of vermin which he destroyed on his body; they amounted to thirty thousand! Another deputy declared, that when allowed to change his linen, it had on every occasion become so pestiferous, that nothing which he could offer would induce any individuals, however poor, to receive it into their houses, and it was washed from time to time by a benevolent and respectable lady, who, in her open balcony, undertook a task which her lowest menial had refused to perform.
In truth, no sufferings can be conceived more intolerable than those of many a prisoner confined in former times in the gaols of the Peninsula.* In a moist, miserable and dreary dungeon, oppressed with heavy chains, without a book to console him by day, without even a handful of straw on which to stretch himself at night; supplied with bad and insufficient food; shut out from all notice, from all sympathy, and in the hands of those whose hearts were as cold and as hard as the walls that inclosed him-what situation can be more terrible? The writer once noticed, on the walls of a Spanish prison, an admirable picture, drawn with charcoal, of an old and exhausted victim (pourtrayed perhaps by the sufferer himself), his beard unshorn, his body wasted, his countenance betokening despair, his fetters insupportable; and beneath were these lines:
"O deem not, in a world like this,
That the worst suffering is to die!
And to such sons of misery, death must have been a blessing. Immediately after the re-establishment of the Constitutional Government in Spain, the first Cortes occupied themselves in ap
An extract from a recent publication on Prisons, by Dr. Jacobo Villanova y Jordan, one of the Spanish Judges, may here be added:
"In 1814, the King, for the first time, visited the prisons of Madrid. At this period those frightful chains were in use, which he ordered to be destroyed. There, also, were to be seen the cells, under ground, destitute of ventilation, where, to the ruin of health and morals, many poor wretches were obliged to sleep together, and respire the most impure and noisome atmosphere; and the courts whence, at the close of day, legions of immense rats issue forth, spreading into every corner, robbing the poor prisoner of his scanty allowance, and disturbing his rest. The criminal, the lover, and the murderer, the debtor and the robber, the forger and the ruffian, were herded indiscriminately together, and he who was guiltless, along with them. Among the keepers, some were found who hardly knew the persons of their prisoners. In the prison called the Town Gaol (which is shortly to be abolished, and the prisoners sent to that termed "De la Corte," there was a square room, about eight yards in length, and nine feet high; it was entered by an extremely dark and narrow passage, at each end of which were two doors. The prisoner confined within this space never saw the light of heaven. The pavement was of sandstone, and in the centre there was an iron collar, with a chain to confine the prisoner down to it. Although I have not seen the grillera of this gaol, I imagine it was as bad, or even worse than that of the Town Gaol. It was an instrument used for torture, for such prisoners as did not confess, to compel them to do so."
"No es verdad que la muerte,
plying remedies to some of the most obvious evils of the prison system. They speedily decreed, that no prisoner whatever should, on any pretence whatever, be confined in any unwholesome or subterraneous dungeon, or in any place not visited by the natural light of day. They also ordered, that no chains or fetters of any sort should, on any occasion, be employed; and it was no small satisfaction to us, in our progress through Spain, to witness the destruction of those dismal cells which had been the scenes of so much calamity. The Cortes proceeded to form a Prison Committee, whose attention is especially directed to the state of the Spanish gaols; and several writers have sprung up, who have been directing the public attention to the subject, and who have excited a spirit of inquiry, and a desire of useful exertion throughout the Peninsula. Several of the public journals have lent themselves cheerfully to the important object; and that anxiety for information, which is the herald of benevolent action, is most remarkable in every quarter. In most of the towns in Spain, the prisons are placed under the inspection of citizens elected by the popular suffrages; and their attention to their charges has greatly tended to stop the arbitrary proceedings which had been sanctioned, as it were, by the habits of centuries.
Don Jacobo Villanova, now a Judge at Valencia, proposed to the Cortes the adoption of Mr. Bentham's Panopticon plan of a prison, with sundry modifications. His scheme was referred to the Prison Committee, who requested a Report from the Royal Society of Madrid. That Report being favourable, the Commit tee proposed that in all the capitals of the kingdom, and in all the towns in which there resides a Judge of the first rank,-viz. between three and four hundred-prisons shall be constructed on the central inspection plan, of a size suited to the population, in which security, ventilation, salubrity, and an abundance of water, shall be provided for; that these prisons shall be constructed remote from all other buildings, and at the extremity of the towns or cities referred to. They declare that the government of a prison shall be deemed honorary, and be given to military officers-in the provinces, captains-in the capital, colonels-whose salary shall be, in Madrid, 24,000 rials *; in the chief towns, 16,000 rials †; in the small towns, 10,000 rials; and that he shall be personally responsible for the security and discipline of the prisoners, and for carrying into effect the prison regulations. The magistrates shall elect all other officers of the prison, and shall form the regulations, which must be submitted to the Government for approval. They propose that all prison fees whatever shall be abolished; that there
† About £160.
shali be classification dependent on age, crimes, signs of penitence, &c.; that the untried shall not be confounded with the condemned; that labour shall be introduced, the severity of which shall depend on the character of the crime, and other circumstances connected with the criminal; that a committee be appointed for visiting the prisons, and for seeing that the proposed regulations be carried into effect.
The Committee of the Cortes introduce the subject with the following melancholy details, in which there is no exaggeration, nor attempt to delude.
The prisons of Spain, beginning with those of Madrid, are horrible caverns, in which it is impossible that health should be long preserved. It seems impossible that men should ever have been found so fierce and inhuman as to construct such edifices for their fellow-men. But if this appear incredible, how much more so is it that in the nineteenth century these dwellings should be still kept up-the shame and the execration of humanity? Dark dungeons, without light or air, are found in the two prisons of Madrid, of the Corte and of the Villa;-nothing but a miserable and insufficient ration provided for human beings;-condemned to live for years in utter darkness;-breathing mephitic air;-hearing nothing but the noise of bolts and fetters;-having no companions but the swarms of vermin which cover the walls of their gloomy abode, which incessantly prey upon their persons;-and condemned to sleep upon a mat, covered with a few filthy rags.
The doom of those who occupy the courts is hardly better. Exposed through the day to the intemperance and inclemency of the seasons; lazy; wearied with their own existence; obliged constantly to listen to oaths and curses, grossness and obscenitythey suffer in an earthly hell-and to them the terrible denunciations of religion can have no anticipated terrors. And if in the day their fate is horrible, by night it is worse. Condemned to sub
terraneous dungeons, damp and full of vermin, shut out from the common air-these are the scenes of their repose; and the hour which brings to other mortals rest and sleep, prepares for them only mortification, shame, and misery.
Such is the gloom and insalubrity of the prisons of the kingdom. In Andalusia, there is not one which humanity can approve. Of the 1,285 towns of the Chancelleria of Valladolid, only 167 have safe and wholesome prisons*, so that 1,118 towns are without prisons, or possess such as are unhealthy and insecure; and almost all are without sufficient means of subsistence. In Grenada there
This is said by way of contrast; there is no prison that can be called wholesome.
are but twenty-two prisons which can be called capacious, secure, and tolerably salubrious: there are four hundred and ninety-one small, insecure prisons, dependent on charity. Those of Gallicia are in the worse condition. In Asturias, there is not one which is safe, or which possesses the means of serving focd to the prisoners, In Estramadura, there are only a few, and those unhealthy. In Arragon, the only secure and healthy prisons are those of Alcaniz, Calatayud, and Zaragoza; the rest are so bad, that it is impossible to say which is the worst among them; and there are 1,280 towns and villages without any prison. In the whole kingdom of Valencia, where there are a million of inhabitants, there is scarcely one secure and wholesome prison. In Catalonia, there are many districts without prisons; the number of tolerably safe and healthy prisons is forty-five; but they have no funds for the maintenance of the criminals: but the prisons of the Balearic Isles are worse than all. They are mazmorras (Moorish dungeons), and holes, where the stench, the humidity, and want of air, have caused more mortality than the most virulent pestilence.
The loss of liberty, and the punishment imposed by the law, are surely enough for the unfortunate criminal. What right has society, by its neglect or indifference, to superadd these horrors; to confirm all that is atrocious in vice; to eradicate every thing that is left of virtue; to mingle the swindler with the homicide; the young and timid practitioner with the old and daring and irreclaimable criminal; and in a situation where, to do them any justice, every individual prisoner requires an individual guard?
It is, indeed, high time that such scenes of outrage should exist no longer; that such horrors should be blotted from the very memory of man. It is, indeed, high time that the light of civilization should penetrate those deadly dungeons-dungeons unvisited as yet by the pure light of day, or the beams of the vivifying sun.
For the Cortes this work was reserved, and to them its glory will belong; and it will bear their memory down to future grateful generations. "Is it possible," said some of the prisoners in the Madrid gaol, to one of the committee who visited them, " is it possible that the fathers of the country are already assembled in the sanctuary of the laws, and that they will not meliorate our situation? We ask no pardon for our crimes; * we will suffer with resignation the penalties of the law; but why this unnecessary bit
• When the writer was at Seville, the following verses were put into his hands by the prisoners, in which the same sentiments are expressed, but in language less polished:
V. S. condecorados
A esta carcel an benido