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the tread-mill, and there is more dread of coming to gaol. The tread-mill, when administered mildly, is no effectual punishment; industry, regularity, and order, are inculcated by it, when properly applied. The men work between nine and ten hours a day, two-thirds on, and one-third off: he calculates they walk from forty-eight to fifty steps in a minute, each step seven inches apart. As regards juvenile offenders, a less term of imprisonment than that usually applied, with private whippings, is more effectual than longer terms. The sense of shame is not gone off with the short imprisonment, and, combined with the pain of feeling, makes a lasting impression; but if they are kept for a long time, communicating, as they must do, however the gaol is managed, that tends to lessen the sense of shame, and perhaps to harden them. With respect to poaching, he observes, that the commitment for poaching is a commitment for non-payment of money, and does not enforce hard labour." We may employ them, but then the Act says in something not severe. Unless we can employ them so as to fatigue the body, the other is an amusement, and wears away the term of imprisonment; and, in respect to moral instruction, where you do not fatigue the body by labour, you do not affect the man's mind; and I think there is a defect in the Game Laws: if it is necessary to commit at all, it is necessary to attach hard labour to it. I think it would be extremely wholesome if the power of hard labour was given with respect to almost all convictions." As to any labour less severe than the treadmill, he thinks it would be a sort of amusement, and would be rather desired by the prisoners than otherwise, to pass time away. Whenever in prison any sort of labour is introduced that requires art, they must be watched, or they will spoil it. "Prisoners can be employed in scarcely any thing but as mere machines; when they are to furnish any article of value, if they are put out of humour they will spoil it. I think in that case, their inclinations must be consulted, rather than forced by discipline, which is wrong." As to solitary confinement, it operates on different individuals very differently. A sluggard would sleep the greater part of the time, whereas it would drive an active person nearly to madness. As to moral improvement, Mr. Orridge seems in some doubt. He observes that hypocrisy goes to a great extent in prison; that there are many whom he has never known properly till he had no power over them; that a complete scoundrel conceals himself. "I had thought that after thirty years I had a knowledge of criminal character, but I believe I shall die a novice at last." With respect to classification, judging from thirty years' experience, he classes them by character and conduct, and not by crime; always informing the magistrate if he deviates much from the rule laid down in the Act of Parliament. He thinks the classification according to law does no good at all; a man of the most atrocious character may be sent to prison for a very slight offence. With respect to education, he has great doubt of the efficiency of the system of education as now conducted; he would give the preference to instruction rather than no instruction; but he thinks there wants to be a system of industry promoted with the instruction. He thinks the Sunday Schools are very excellent things; the children are never employed on that day, and as they will congregate, they had better congregate in Sunday Schools. But where there is only a system of education without sowing the seeds of industry, it does not go far enough. The boys are at school all day, and do not learn habits of industry from their parents as they used to do. They afterwards, however, frequently forget what they have learnt. He remembers a charity school in the town where he resides, in which the woollen business was conducted; they went to labour by spinning, and on the alternate days they went to reading; there
were very few commitments of persons educated in that school. He thinks, however, upon the whole, that if education had not been introduced, the increase of crime would have been greater than it now is.
Sir Thomas Baring, a member of the Committee, having acted as a magistrate for about twenty years, in the county of Hants, states, that offences of an atrocious character have diminished, excepting horse and sheep-stealing; but petty offences increased to a very great degree. There have been frequently as many as fifty, sixty, and seventy prisoners in the House of Correction for offences against the Game Laws, exclusive of offences against the Game Laws of greater magnitude. The Committee call the attention of the House to the following parts of the examination of Sir Thomas Baring:
Do you remember at what time the great increase of offences with regard to game began?—I think for the last three or four years there has been a great increase.
Do you attribute that to the increase of distress, or the increase of game affording greater opportunity?—To both.
Have the people been generally in a worse condition during the last three or four years than they were before?—I think they certainly have; and whenever the price of agricultural produce is low, distress prevails amongst the agricultural labourers.
During times of distress, is poaching the most common offence?— I think it is almost the only offence to which distress drives the agricultural labouring population, except poultry stealing and wood stealing, which have prevailed to a great degree also.
Do you think that if there were no game, distress would have caused poultry stealing, and other offences of the like kind to an equal amount?— I should think not, from the facility with which that offence may be committed, as compared with other petty offences.
Has there been a great increase in the quantity of game preserved ?— -Very considerable, and confined to small woods, making it extremely easy for them to be taken.
To what species of game do you refer ?-Game in the woods-hares and pheasants; but I can mention an instance where game is preserved to the highest degree almost of any property in that part of the country; and in consequence of some illiberal observations in one of the newspapers, that the proprietor had occasioned a number of persons to be committed for poaching, I had the curiosity to inquire what number of persons had been committed for poaching upon that property since the game was first preserved, for the last thirteen years, and in that period only three persons had been committed for poaching on that property.
To what do you attribute that?-In consequence of the strict watch, and the number of persons employed to preserve the game.
Do you believe that, if the labourers were paid adequate wages, there would be much poaching?-I feel confident that there would not, and I can speak from personal experience. In the part of the country in which I reside, poaching existed to a considerable extent; from attention to the employment of the poor, and to their conduct also, I can say, for the last two years no one instance of poaching has occurred committed by persons of that neighbourhood. It had been the custom of farmers in the winter months to reduce the price of labour from 9s. and 10s. to 7s. and 8s.; I prevailed upon them last year not to reduce the labour at all, but to keep it at 9s., and I endeavoured to show thein, and did succeed in persuading them, that they would not lose by the system; that they would have nearly as much to pay in parish rates, and the result has been that the people were
well off: and in no instance has there been a complaint made to me, as a magistrate, from any party in the neighbourhood, for any criminal offence committed; a circumstance which has not occurred in any former year.
Were all the labourers employed during the winter?-The whole of them were employed; whenever a person was found wanting employment, by agreement amongst the farmers he is taken into the employment of some one of them, and not allowed to remain unemployed.
Do you not think that the present manner of administering the poor laws leads to an increase of the population beyond the means of employment?— I think the poor laws have been very much abused. If restricted to their original intention and purpose, they would be productive of the greatest benefit to the country; abused, they are productive of great evil. If they were confined simply to provide for the aged and infirm, and impotent, and not applied, as they are now, to the payment of part of the wages to the labourers, they would be productive of good. There is also mixed up in what is termed poor rates that which does not belong to them, and which ought to be separated; and I think, if persons of intelligence would look more accurately into the management of the poor, and to their comforts and conduct, the system of the poor laws would be a national benefit, and not an injury, both to the poor and to the rich.
What do you think is the objection felt to making that change on the part of the farmers generally?—I think, in the first instance, the desire to throw the burthen from themselves upon others, and also, in a great measure, from an indifference which prevails in their minds with respect to the moral character and conduct of the poor; that when they have to pay 9s. wages instead of 7s. they do not take into consideration that in the event of their paying 73. they will very frequently have nearly as much to pay in the shape of their proportion to the poor's rate.
Should the Committee be renewed next year, some valuable information may be expected from Sir T. Baring, on the subject of prison discipline. The Committee refer the House to his evidence for the plan of a village shop which he has adopted, with great benefit to the labourer.
Sir James Graham, Baronet, has acted for the last eight years as a magistrate for the county of Cumberland until within the last eighteen months he has not observed any increase of crime; but since the commencement of distress among the hand-loom weavers in Carlisle and its vicinity, crime has increased in that particular district. In the county of Cumberland it is universally the custom to refuse any payment of wages out of the poor rates; the consequence is, that the rate of wages is higher in Cumberland than almost any other agricultural county. A ploughman there receives at least 12s. a week; in many cases the cottagers have rooms rent-free, and in no case does a field labourer receive less than 180. a day, if he be a good workman. Mr. Sturges Bourne's Act has been carried almost universally into execution; select vestries assemble regularly according to the provisions of that Act; neither rent nor wages are paid out of the poor rates; except in special cases, relief is refused; and the poor rates, notwithstanding the increase of manufacturing poverty, have diminished even in the manufacturing districts, since 1819. In the parishes with which I am more particularly connected, as being the principal proprietor within them, upon the first passing of Mr. Sturges Bourne's Act, I availed myself, with the concurrence of the vestry, of a provision contained in it for raising money for the purpose of enlarging the poor-house. At that time the parishes to which I allude were in the habit of paying rents out of the poorrates; they became convinced that this was an unwise and prodigal expenditure, and though the outlay in enlarging the workhouse was considerable, amounting to somewhat more than 4007., at least half of
one year's rate, yet when the workhouse was finished, they were enabled at once to refuse relief to all persons unwilling to go there, and the number of applicants diminished so much, that in the course of two years the parish was re-imbursed for the whole outlay; and, at the present moment, as I mentioned before, no rents are paid out of the poor rates, aud no persons are relieved except under very special circumstances, at their own houses." The habits of the agricultural labourers are moral, industrious, and economical. There still exists a great spirit of independence, and the utmost want and distress are often endured with patience, in preference to an application to the vestry, In Cumberland, however, both the farmers and agricultural labourers are content with very mean and scanty food; the sustenance of the labourer consists almost entirely of milk, potatoes, and oatmeal; he very rarely eats meat. The, situation of the farmer is very little better or more luxurious. Upon the whole, neither the farmer nor the agricultural labourer is in a worse condition than he was thirty years ago. Sir James Graham is of opinion "that the power given by Mr. Sturges Bourne's Act, of enlarging workhouses, and of making them capable of containing all persons to whom the parish is bound to give relief, and a steady adherence to the principle of never giving it out of the workhouses, coupled with such regulations of the workhouse itself as are now consistent with the law of the land (the utility of which is exemplified in the management of the workhouse at Liverpool), would supply the means of checking the natural improvidence of the labourer, and his disposition to early marriage; he would fear to make himself dependent on parish relief; he would look at the workhouse with dread, not, as at present, almost with indifference; and by the increased exertions of the labouring classes themselves, by greater prudence on their part, formed by a wiser administration of the existing law, I am disposed to think that the poor-rates might be reduced throughout England; at all events, that their rapid inroads might be arrested." The select vestries exercise the power vested in them with sound discretion; character is almost invariably an ingredient in their decisions. The most fertile source of crime is the preservation of game; the lower orders, in common with the highest, have a natural love of the sport, even stimulated, perhaps, by the risks attendant on its gratification; the tameness of the pheasants, which were formerly almost unknown in this neighbourhood, and which are now seen constantly in the fields close to the road, is a great temptation to the lower orders to take them. "Persons going armed at night on a marauding excursion seldom confine their depredations to the taking of game; and many cases of petty thefts, such as robbing of hen-roosts and out-houses, have been brought before me, which I have been able clearly to trace to persons going out at night with the intention of poaching. On the whole, I should think poaching the cause, rather than the consequence, of criminal habits." When an unemployed labourer applies to the parish for relief, he is usually sent to break stones upon the turnpike-road, which work is paid by the square yard of stone broken; he is fed and clothed at the expence of the parish; his earnings are carried to the account of the parish; if he does not break the average quantity of stones, the keeper of the workhouse brings the pauper before a magistrate, who has it in his power to send him to the house of correction. In a gaol and house of correction at Carlisle, the tread-mill has been at work about eighteen months. Sir James Graham cannot perceive that the work appears very irksome to the prisoners. The severity of the tread-mill at Carlisle is about the average severity; the severity of this punishment very much depends upon the height of the steps, and the frequency of the rotation of the wheel. These vary in almost every gaol. "I have always been of opinion that, by legislative interposition, the degree of labour ought
to be regulated and made the same in every gaol and house of correction throughout England; because it does appear to me absurd, that, where the crime is the same, and the punishment is intended also to be the same, from the accidental circumstance of the hard labour in one gaol being more severe than in another, the punishment ordained as uniform should vary to any degree."
Is the allowance increased for the prisoners who are put upon the treadmill? The only difference is, that they are allowed beer, which is denied to other prisoners; and as I have mentioned the disparity of punishment arising from the circumstance of the tread-mill in one gaol being more severe than in another, I perhaps may be allowed to express an opinion, that a difference in the diet, which in one gaol is much more spare than in another, partakes of the same inconvenience I have alluded to with respect to the difference of hard labour, not contemplated by the law.
Have you made any observation generally on the effect of prison discipline in the gaol of Carlisle ?-I have; and the result of that observation, coupled with inquiries from persons who have had great experience, such as Mr. Orridge, the gaoler at Bury, and his son, who is the gaoler at Carlisle, led me to think that in very few cases is a gaol ever a place of reform; we have reason to know that the best conducted prisoners are those who are anxious to obtain a mitigation of their sentence by their good conduct within the walls of the prison; and in many cases a portion of their sentence has been remitted in consequence of such good conduct, and within a very short period those very individuals have committed fresh crimes of a deeper die.
So that you are of opinion that, generally speaking, the good conduct of prisoners is not to be attributed to any real reformation in their character? -Most decidedly.
With respect to the reformation of offenders in prison, you stated that your views on that subject were much less sanguine than they had been; do you attribute their non-reformation to their early character, or to their always associating in prison with criminals?—I must ascribe the cause of their not being reformed to the deep taint of their character before they are sent to prison; because in the gaol of Carlisle, classification is carried even further than the late Prison Act directs; the prisoners are rarely left alone; they are constantly under the eye of the governor and the watchmen, who attend them when on the tread-mill; there they are not allowed even to speak to each other; a large portion of the twenty-four hours is spent by each prisoner alone in his own cell, and the contamination arising from intercourse is almost entirely prevented; consequently, I can only arrive at the conclusion, that the non-reformation of prisoners is owing to a taint of their character before they are sent to prison.
Do you think that prison discipline can ever effect much more than has been effected in the best regulated prisons in this country?-I think it impossible to carry wholesome discipline further than it is now carried in the best regulated gaols in England, with the exception, however, of the two suggestions I have made, relative to equalizing the punishment of the tread-mill, and assimilating the diet in every gaol throughout England. Your Committee earnestly hope that the House will, early in the ensuing Session, direct the inquiries on this subject to be resumed.
June 22, 1827.
END OF VOL. I.