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HIS SECLUSION AT CARDINGTON. .
lay the foundation of a fund for the relief of the sick. and destitute. Under the united efforts of this conscientious couple, the poor of Cardington were raised
course of seven years ignorance and brutality had been cleared from the soil, and morality and social happiness planted in their stead. At the end of this period, however, Mrs. Howard gave birth to a son, and left her husband once more desolate. The love of Howard for his second wife stands apart from every other feeling of his life. The blow, sent him weeping to the earth. Years after her death, upon the eve of his departure from England upon one of his humane expeditions, he was walking hand-in-hand with his son in the plantations about Cardington. Suddenly he stopped. “Jack," he faltered to the boy, “in case I should not come back, you will pursue this work or not as you think proper; but remember this walk was planted by your mother, and if you ever touch a twig of it may my blessing never rest upon you.”
For eighteen months after his bereavement Howard secluded himself in Cardington, and then had recourse to his usual remedy for sorrow—he travelled again. If gravity had hitherto been the prevailing colour of his mind, it henceforth took a deeper and a holier hue. He lived the life of an ascetic, and his journal is the record of continual and impassioned prayer. After three years' absence Cardington was revisited, and but for an event of ordinary significance which then took place, the pious and well-disciplined Howard might have pursued his journey to the grave unknown to any but the poor who in his
neighbourhood were, whilst he lived, the objects of his tenderest solicitude and care. In 1773 he was nominated to the office of sheriff of Bedford. To be appointed to a duty was with Howard to incur the obligation to fulfil it. During the trials of prisoners he sat in court and listened attentively to the proceedings. When the trials were over he visited and inspected the prison. The hideous glare that met him in the felon's cell struck his soul with horror, and revealed to him at once the nature of his mission. The dream of life was at an end, its action had begun. Less with a yearning of human love than with an overwhelming sense of responsibility to his Maker, Howard set about the task of rescuing England from the shame and disgrace that attended her blind and brutal punishment of malefactors. The effort was tremendous ; so was the penalty—but the success surpaşsed both.
It is difficult for us to realize the gigantic nature of the undertaking. The problem of our own day is the punishment of public offenders; but its solution is light and easy compared with the labour that confronted Howard upon the threshold of his extraordinary crusade. We know at least the nature of the sad material with which we have to deal. We have separated and classified the corrupt mass, and rendered it fitting to receive salutary and corrective treatment whenever enlightenment shall have fixed upon the process. We have not removed the guilty from the pale of our sympathies, and given them up to wilful torture and abominable neglect. The transgressors of the law lose the rights of citizenship, but are not deemed in consequence brute beasts. We THE PRISON OF THE LAST CENTURY.
remember that criminals are men, and that the murderer who forfeits his life to society has still a soul, it may be to be pardoned and redeemed of Heaven. A century ago, and these things were forgotten-if indeed they had ever been known. A more ghastly exhibition than the prison of the last century the mind cannot conceive; the most innocent and unfortunate debtor was thrust into the hole with the most guilty and hardened of cut-throats, and shared the worse fate of the two if he had no means to bribe his gaoler into human charity. Swearing, cursing, blasphemy, and gaming, were the habitual practices of the keepers and the kept; drunkenness was no vice, and the admixture of the sexes no impropriety; religious worship was unknown in a region that seemed cut off from civilization and made over to fiends to govern in the true spirit of Beelzebub; there was corruption from the first official to the meanest gaoler, and more crime within the precincts of the gaol than without. Old criminals corrupted new comers; the governors and their precious crews corrupted all.
Whilst inspecting the prisons of Bedford, Howard had been struck with a strange anomaly. He tells us himself that from its observation he was incited to further activity on behalf of his unhappy clients.
“ Some,” he says, “ who by the verdict of juries were declared not guilty—some on whom the grand jury did not find such an appearance of guilt as
cutors did not appear against them-after having been confined for months, were dragged back to
gaol, and locked up again until they should pay sundry fees to the gaoler, the clerk of assize, &c."
Howard applied at once to the justices of the county for a salary to the gaoler, who, he contended, ought to be paid by the community and not by the discharged innocents. The justices demanded a precedent for the application, and the good Howard mounted his horse forthwith and proceeded to the neighbouring counties in search of one. He not only did not find his precedent, but saw in the course of his progress and search, sights that rendered the Bedford practice a very harmless proceeding indeed, and confirmed his resolution to devote himself henceforward to the reformation of the gaols of England and the world.
One or two specimens of what the inquirer saw will serve for many. He went to Gloucester.
“ The castle of that city was in the most horrible condition. It had but one court for all prisonersonly one day-room for males and females. The debtors' ward had no windows, a part of the plaster wall being broken through to let in light. The night-room (or main) for men felons, though up a number of steps, was found to be close and dark, and the floor so ruinous that it could not be washed. The whole prison was greatly out of repair, while it had not been whitewashed for years. Many persons had died in it the year preceding Howard's visit—a circumstance attributed to a fever engendered by a large dunghill which stood directly opposite to the stairs leading up to the sleeping room. The keeper had no salary—the debtors no allowance of food! The first lived on extortion, the second on charity.”
THE GAOLS OF ELY, NORWICH, AND EXETER. 135 In the episcopal city of Ely,
“ The prison was rickety and ruinous—totally unfit for the safe custody of criminals. Of this the wardens were well aware, but instead of strengthening the walls and doors—which would have cost money, and affected the episcopal coffers, they adopted the cheaper plan of chaining the prisoners on their backs to the floor, passing over them several bars of iron, and fastening an iron collar, covered with spikes, round their necks, as well as placing a heavy bar of the same metal over their legs to prevent attempts at escape.”
From Ely, Howard proceeded to Norwich. There
“ He found the cells built underground, and the keeper paying 401. a year to the under-sheriff for his situation. The gaol delivery was but once a year; and the allowance for straw for the whole prison was only a guinea per annum.
The felons' gaol at Exeter was a private speculation. As might be expected, the dungeons,
“ Though but a few steps underground, were close, dark, and confined; the windows small, and the whole very unhealthy. An infirmary had been built, but the steps leading up to it were in a ruinous state, and the surgeon told Howard that he (the surgeon) was excused by contract from attending any prisoner in the cells who might be sick of the gaol fever."
From one end of England to the other, from county to county, and from town to town, did Howard travel, in order to drag forth the disgusting mysteries of the British prison house. The first ray of light that burst upon prison gloom was the