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unfit in degree, though perhaps not altogether in principle, for sedentary or studious occupations. The late Charles Skinner Matthews, the friend of Lord Byron, and celebrated by him, was distinguished for extraordinary powers of mental application. He conceived that he might be able to increase those powers to their greatest possible extent by going through a process of training, which he did, under the guidance of a well-known master of the art, to whom I have already alluded in this article, and who vouched to me for the truth of this statement. As study forms no part of pugilistic training, but would be destructive of it, young Matthews could form no idea of his growing aptitude or inaptitude in that respect till he made a trial. When he was told he was in a complete state, he shut himself up, and formally set forth his books. He then tried, and tried to bring his mind to bear, but utterly in vain; and the experiment ended in his kicking over his reading apparatus with great force, and sallying forth in quest of some active adventure, for which alone he found he had made himself fit.
It is the test of sound principles that they are received slowly, and, when established, that they endure long. It is the test of quackery that it is greedily listened to, quickly adopted, and quickly laid aside. The cause is, that sound principles appeal to the reason, and false ones to the prejudices and narrow interests of mankind; and mankind are much more governed by prejudices and narrow interests than by reason. It is pity that rulers do not take the more difficult, but more honourable course of bringing reason into play. It is a clear proof that they are more intent on profiting by mankind, than that mankind should profit by them.
Whenever one man is willing to serve another at the expense of principle, it must be from one of two reasons; either he cannot know what principle is, or he sacrifices it, for some view of his own.
If we were not obliged to do any thing, we should do nothing. Our necessities start us, and habit and inclination keep us going, some at one rate, some at another, some to one distance, some to another. Our actual necessities teach us to create artificial ones, and they urge us on with fresh and greater force, till often the less we need, the more we strive, and at last some are found to reverse the order of things, and end by heaping up superfluities at the expense of their necessities; as misers starve themselves to death. Their necessities led them to acquire superfluities, and their superfluities lead them to disregard their necessities. They only are reasonable, who never sacrifice the end to the means, and are content with what may be termed the necessary superfluities; that is, such superfluities as can minister to their real enjoyment, and which are not purchased with more labour than they are worth. It is true that, with many, acquisition becomes the enjoyment; and that if they were to cease to acquire, they would cease to enjoy, whether in wealth or power; but it is a spurious enjoyment, which argues only a grovelling, or grasping habit, unfitting declining years, which should be dedicated to other objects of contemplation.
Published also monthly with the Periodicals, stitched in a wrapper.
IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY-STREET, STRAND.
BY THOMAS WALKER, M. A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.
PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW, 356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.
No. XXIII.] WEDNESDAY, OCT. 21, 1835. [PRICE 3d.
Prison discipline, like many other subjects which occupy public attention, is not worth the time and expense which are bestowed upon it. After the repeated experiments that have been made to reform criminals in prisons, and the signal want of success, I should think the hope must by this time be given up even by the most sanguine. I believe that after the immense expense that has been lavished upon the attempt, the instances of reform really attributable to the system, do not amount to one in five hundred; and if it is calculated how many might have been saved from a prison at all by the application of the same means to the purposes of good government, it must be concluded that prison discipline with a view to reform is a great deal worse than useless. But it is bad in another point of view. The sole end of imprisonment ought to be punishment, in order to deter from crime, and punishment by a separation from the world and all its advantages; and the greater the contrast, the greater will be the punishment. Now
in the reform system, however strict the discipline is professed to be, there is necessarily a degree of attention and indulgence which much mitigates the pains of imprisonment, and causes the criminal to quit his confinement with any feeling but of that dread which ought to operate as a lesson to himself, and a warning to others. To the neglected wretches, who form the bulk of prisoners, a reform prison offers no terrors. They do not like confinement and regularity, but then they find so many sets off in the attentions they meet with, and the comforts provided for them, that is, comforts compared with their frequent privations, and their physical state becomes so much improved, that when they come again into the world, their retrospect is far from one of unmixed repugnance to a prison life; and if they return, as they generally do, to their vicious courses, the sufferings they bring upon themselves must make them frequently almost sigh after a renewal of restraint. It often occurs to me, when I am committing disorderlies to prison for short periods, that to many of them the prospect of control is not altogether disagreeable; and if we reflect what sufferings they must entail upon themselves by their gross irregularities, it is not to be wondered that it should be so. I consider, then, all attempts at reform within the walls of a prison as misplaced, and as contrary to, and defeating, the true end of imprisonment, which should present a striking contrast to a state of liberty and its enjoyments. The second object of prison discipline, and that which certainly is now occupying public attention, is to render prisons as effective places of punishment as possible; but this, under efficient government out of doors, would be a very simple process indeed. My objection to the course pursued is, that it is turning attention in the wrong direction, and causing neglect, where attention is most of all wanted. If I were asked what I thought would be the best mode of prison discipline for diminishing the present mass of crime, I should answer, that there ought to be no such mass, and that the question is not a question of pri
son discipline, but of government. Prison discipline is no cure for systematic crime to the present extent existing, but the cure is to be found in government discipline independent of prisons. All systematic crime arises from defective government, and is beyond the reach of prisons. Isolated crime only is that which cannot be altogether prevented by good government, and it is the proper object for punishment and prevention by imprisonment. Supposing systematic crime to be done away with by good government, then, and not till then, comes the question of prison discipline in its true and very narrow limits. I have remarked before that imprisonment should present a striking contrast to liberty and its enjoyments. There are two ways of effecting this; one, which is the way at present being pursued, is to make imprisonment very severe; and the other, which is the way that ought to be pursued, is by improvement in government to render liberty and its enjoyments as sweet as possible, so that a simple separation from them, within four walls, may be sufficient punishment without any refinements and contrivances of severity. A necessity for severe punishments is a scandal to a government. When the inside of a prison is made the subject of great attention, it proves that what is on the outside is the subject of great neglect. Govern men well, and crime will be unfrequent, and simple confinement sufficient punishment. Individuals above the neglected mass are not deterred from the commission of crime by any consideration of degrees of severity of confinement, but by confinement itself; and if there were no neglected mass, there would be no necessity for what is called prison discipline: it would not be worth a thought. If an agriculturist were asked how to clear a marsh from weeds, he would answer, drain it, and what spring up after will easily be subdued. So, to clear the country from crime, govern well, and the individual cases which arise will be disposed of without difficulty. Great as is the quantity of crime at present existing, it is to me quite