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possess sovereign virtues for the restoration of moral health in man. The constant wearying tramp, tramp; the white mouse in his cage; poor Sisyphus toiling up the mountain, yet never to obtain rest at its summit; this may, indeed, most heartily disgust men with the course they are then treading, and they may resolve to avoid for the future all such paths as may seem likely to lead to it; but their sorrows will be only that of the thief described by a poet of a former day:
“I fear that my sorrow will scarce save my bacon ;
I should fancy there is little to touch the moral feelings, little to soften the heart, in the dull and wearying round of the tread-mill, however much it may harden and improve the muscles of the legs.
Of a similar nature to the tread-mill, and producing the like results, is the punishment of piling shot, adopted in many of our military prisons. This intellectual and highly useful occupation consists in stooping to pick up a heavy shot, carrying it a given distance, adding others to it, and then, in like manner, removing the whole pile to some other spot, where their services seem likely to be equally required.
So far from producing any good effects upon the minds and manners of offenders, these punishments have been very generally found to render them more callous and obdurate than before; and disciplinarians of a wider range of mind, have substituted useful employment for the profitless labour above mentioned. Under their benevolent auspices, trades of all sorts have been introduced within our prison-walls; shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, &c., all follow their several callings under the eyes of duly qualified overseers; and when a convict has unfortunately no previous knowledge of any handicraft, he is allowed to choose one to which to be apprenticed. Thus we turn a gaol for criminals, into a factory for industrious artisans.
But although there is a considerable improvement over the old system, in putting men to works that may be beneficial to themselves and mankind generally, yet there are evils in the plan above described. Having all his daily wants amply supplied, the materials and implements necessary for his trade provided, the convict goes to work under far more favourable circumstances than his brother mechanic of unspotted character; and whilst he is able to undersell him in the market, still, in the trifle usually allowed him out of the sale of the produce of his labour, he finds a small profit over and above his actual wants. Thus do we see encouragement held out to the vicious and dissolute artisan; whilst he who has a trade taught him, is amply compensated for the confinement he is forced to submit to. In his case the gaol becomes a training-school.
The solitary system is the grand panacea in the opinion of some. Shut out from all intercourse with his fellow-men, it is thought the minds of the most debased and reprobate amongst us must become softened and humanized.
This, like the other punishments we have been considering, must act with very different force upon different individuals. To the man of any feeling and intellect it must be a most grievous affliction, tending to drive him to despair and to break down the very foundations of
Indeed it has been found, not unfrequently I believe, to produce absolute insanity.
On the other hand, the mere animal, the log, the creatures “whose God is their belly," will dose and slumber away their time, and greatly prefer a life of slothful indolence, to the compulsory
labour which they would have to undergo in a prison where a different management obtains ;
perhaps, indeed, to liberty, if that liberty should require daily toil to support existence.
To one man the grave would appear a happy refuge from the horrors of this living tomb, and he would hail even the hangman as a kind friend come to release him from a state of intolerable torment. To another, any state of being would seem preferable to the dread of yielding up his caitiff existence. He would hug his chain to the last, drink the last drop of the bitter portion presented to his lips, rather than take the dread leap which shall usher him into the unseen world, into the presence of Him in whose gracious promises he feels he has no part, whose vengeance he has but too much reason to dread. He thinks it far better to bear the ills he has,
" Than fly to others that he knows not of; ”
that " whilst there's life, there's hope," and clings to it with all the tenacity of despair.
Whilst travelling in North America, some years since, I was taken over the penitentiary at Ka model prison in its way, and, as far as memory serves me, I will give my young reader an account of what I saw there.
A high and massive stone wall enclosed an ample space of ground, in which stood the prison
and buildings attached to it. The angles of the wall had small towers erected on them, and all round the interior, just below the coping, a platform was laid, upon which two or three warders, well armed, were seen pacing up and down, and from their elevated position commanding a view of the whole interior space, and the approaches to the gaol on every side. .
The penitentiary itself, or rather such part of it as was erected, for it was in course of building when I visited it, was a handsome edifice of welldressed grey stone. When finished, I think it would be capable of containing between two and three hundred convicts of both sexes; but at the time I saw it, the number of those confined within its walls did not much exceed one hundred.
I was not a little surprised and interested, on being informed that the noble building in course of erection, and all I saw around me, was the work of the convicts themselves.
One often hears the expressions " he has forged his own chain,” “he is making a rod for his own back," "he will twist a rope to hang himself," and the like; figuring thereby the ill-turn a man has done, or is doing, for himself; but here were many men actually employed in building up their prison walls, fixing bolt and bar to hinder their