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passing the act as conveniently might be, to fix upon the ground therein described, or upon any other convenient and proper spot, within certain limits, for the erection of one or more penitentiary houses, and giving the usual compulsive powers for purchasing the ground that should be so chosen.
“ That articles of agreement were thereupon drawn up by the solicitor to the treasury, and approved by the attorney and solicitor general, for the purpose of carrying the proposal into effect, reciprocally binding upon the proposer and upon the lords commissioners of his majesty's treasury.
“ That encouraged by these proofs of confidence and approbation, and by these assurances of support, Mr. Bentham had proceeded to the performance of his part of the contract, and had incurred an expense of many thousand pounds of his own money, in addition to that advanced by the treasury, in consequence of the preparations which he had made ; but that his further progress had been impeded, and the contract had remained without execution, from difficulties in regard to obtaining a spot of ground proper for the purpose.
“ Your committee, however, are informed by the lords commissioners of his majesty's treasury, that they have always felt a disposition to carry into effect the contract intended to be executed, whenever a proper spot of ground could be obtained ; and that the contract intended to have been entered into has been delayed, because an essential part of such contract was to be the giving possession of the land upon which the penitentiary house was to be erected; but that they are ready to enter into the contract whenever the preliminary difficulties relative to the ground are removed.
Upon further inquiry, your committee find that a spot has been pointed out, which appears well adapted to the object, and against the appropriation of which to a purpose so interesting to the public no solid objection occurs; and that the preliminary difficulties above alluded to have arisen from the rules and orders of the house relative to bills of inclosure, which are supposed to be applicable to the ground in question. The difficulty is therefore one which may be easily removed before the next session of parliament; and your committee were glad to receive from Mr. Bentham himself the assurance of his perfect readiness to proceed with his part of the business.
“ It is, in the judgement of your committee, no small recommendation of the plan alluded to, that the contractor proposes to employ the prisoners on his own account, receiving a proportionably smaller sum from the public for their maintenance.
“ But it must be noticed and remembered, that the great and important advantages which distinguish that plan from any other which has been hitherto suggested, consist in the certain employment and industrious livelihood which it insures to those whose terms of confinement are expired; in the responsibility which the contractor proposes to take upon himself for the future good behaviour of the criminals intrusted to his care, even when they shall no longer be under his controul ; in the publicity which is meant to be given to the whole conduct and effect of the establishment, moral, medical, and economical, as well by an annual report of its state and proceedings, as by that constant facility of inspection which will in an unusual manner be afforded by the very form and construction of the building, upon which the prompt and easy exercise of the superintending powers of the governor himself principally depends.
“ Your committee are led to dwell the more on the importance of these advantages, when they contemplate the accounts which have been furnished to them of the periods of enlargement of the several convicts now confined in the hulks, to which they desire to direct the most serious attention of the house, bearing in mind, as they do, the evidence given by an experienced magistrate, of the pernicious effects produced upon the unfortunate persons who are confined in those seminaries of vice; recollecting too, not only that New SOUTH WALES is at the present moment fully supplied, but that it affords no security for the future good behaviour of those who, having outlived the periods of their sentences, may return again io afflict the society from which they have been separated.
“ It appears, that of 1,534 convicts on board the hulks on the 5th of June 1798, 93 will be enlarged in this year, 346 in the next, and 1,411 within the period of seven years.
" If a similar progress be made in the enlargement of those who are still confined in the different gaols, the whole number of felons that will be turned loose on the public will amount to 1,791, a discharge at the rate of 254 per annum, continuing for a period of seven years.
“Of the 2,934 unemancipated and unsettled convicts existing in New South Wales and Norfolk Island on the 22nd of October 1796, it is probable, from a consideration of the years in which they have been severally sent thither, that the periods'of discharge of a still greater number will have expired in the same seven years; and if it could be supposed that the whole or the greater part would endeavour to avail themselves of that circumstance to return to the scene of their former delinquency, the prospect
would indeed be dreadful, when viewed through the medium of the experience which the magistracy of this inetropolis has already had of the effect of such returns.
"Mr. Colquhoun's testimony or this point is, that all of the delinquents that have returned from these settlements, who have come within his knowledge, are either at this moment thieves on the toun, or have been executed for new offences !
“ Your committee therefore trust, that no further delay will interfere with the execution of the contract above mentioned, not only because any such delay would add to the loss already sustained by the contractor, and thereby enlarge his claim to compensation; but because it would deprive the public for a longer time of the benefits of a plan, which they cannot but look to as likely to be productive of the most essential advantage, both in point of economy and police. A mode of compensation has indeed been proposed by the contractor, which, so far as it goes, has the advantage of not being attended with any expense to the public, and to which it does not appear to your committee that any substantial objection can be made.”
In addition to what we have thus communicated, all that is further necessary, or rather all that is practicable at present on our part, is to adduce the more important of the historical facts which have filled
since the date of that report ; facts from which our readers will derive a knowledge of the present state of this important branch of our practical system.
From the date of that report, notwithstanding the powerful reasons which it pressed upon the legislature for the speedy abandonment of a system pregnant with evils of such magnitude, and or the adoption of a system which promised with great certainty tu produce so many advantages of the highest importance, the business lay in a state of almost total neglect till 1811, a' space of thirteen or fourteen years; the hulks and Botany Bay all the while manufacturing, at the full rate of employment, their two natural commodities--human depravity, and human wretched
In that year, under the stimulus of some complaining members of parliament-chiefly sir Samuel Romilly-who held up the vices of the existing system to public view—a committee was appointed to consider of the expediency of erecting penitentiary houses, and to inquire into the effects which have been produced hy the punishment of transportation to New South Wales, and of imprisonment on board the hulks.
The latter part of their instructions that committee appear to have altogether overlooked ; for, as to the effects, good or bad,
hich have been produced by the punishment of transportation to
New South Wales, and imprisonment on board the hulks, they have hardly adduced a single fact, or offered a single observation. 'They confined themselves to penitentiary houses, on which, however, they bestow the highest praises, and recommend them with great, warmth. That which we consider as chiefly to be lamented in the labours of this committee is that they recommended the rejection of Mr. Bentham's noble plan of a penitentiary house, on reasons which to us appear to be far from satisfactory-reasons, which in our opinion will not bear the test of the most superficial examination. We believe that there are circumstances of secret history connected, formerly with the suspension, and finally with the rejection of that system ; circumstances of a nature exceedingly to be deplored. The rejection of Mr. Bentham's plan was followed by an act for the erection of a penitentiary house in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, on the common plan. This we regard as vastly preferable to the hulks and Botany Bay. But it was to build a Chalcedon with Byzantium before their eyes; a moral Chalcedon, instead of a moral Byzantium ; the difference transcending all calculation :--as compared with Mr. Bentham's, the moral powers insignificant ; as compared with his, the expense enormous ! The peniten- . tiary house, however, thus provided for the metropolis, is to contain but six hundred convicts. The system of the hulks, therefore, and Botany Bay, is still destined to go on.
One circumstance more is too important to be omitted. A gentleman of the name of Holford was chairman of the committee, who reported unfavourably of Mr. Bentham's Panoplicon plan. And that gentleman is the person chosen, with very considerable emoluments, to be the superintendant of the new penitentiary. Of Mr. Holford there is no ground that we know of to complain. But in the case of those who ruled the appointment, the choice of a man to sit in judgement upon a plan, who was to be disappointed of a great source of emolument by the execution of that plan, looks pretty much like a determination to set it aside.
your last number, amongst many valuable observations on some recent works of the excellent Mrs. Cappe, there is what appears to be a general condemnation of Charity Schools, by which the writer means such schools as provide food and clothing as well as instruction. As you would not wish to be misunderstood, or to have your authority pleaded for an opinion which upon mature consideration you might think it right to qualify, I hope you will find room for a few brief remarks.-In No, 17, page 24, is the following passage :
« We shall adduce another opinion of our intelligent authoréss, because we are glad to have her authority for an opinion with which we have for a long time been not feebly impressed. Notwithstanding the pains which she has taken with charity schools, and the degree of perfection to which in some instances she had carried the management of them, she scruples not to make a decided declaration against their utility. One circumstance to which our attention had always been strongly attracted, is, that they narrow the field of utility. The funds which might extend the benefits of education to some hundreds of children are expended upon twenty.-- But the twenty children in the charity school, they tell us, are clothed and fed. True. And why are they clothed and fed in addition to education, while others have none of these advantages ? --why schools to feed and clothe the children? If their parents are able to feed and clothe them, why not allow them? If their parents are not able, an obligation is imposed upon the parish to do so. Why exempt the parish, at the expense of withholding the means of instruction in the arts of reading and writing from a number of children, many times greater than those whom your friends will enable you to clothe and feed ?-Mrs. Cappe not only dwells upon these important circumstances, but actually represents the mode of existence in á charity school as being radically incapable of serving as a good preparation for the business of life. One habit a charity school can never breed ; and that is, a habit of looking forward, and of making provision for the future.”
In presuming to call in question some of these positions, I do not attempt an essay on the subject, but simply throw out a few