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Above all, they could exercise under the utterly lost. Lunatics raving mad ranged free air of heaven, in the long but narrow up and down the wards, a terror to all they passage which bordered the gaol on the encountered. Common women were freely northward, and which was handsomely admitted; mock marriages were of conpaved with Purbeck stone." No other stant occurrence, and children were freprisoners could take the air: the master's quently born within the precincts of the debtors might stretch their legs in the hall gaol. There was but little restriction ward; the master's felons in the high hall, upon the entrance of visitors. When any a long gallery just under the chapel in great personage was confined in Newwhich stood the stone anvil on which the gate, he held daily levees and received condemned men's chains were struck just numbers of fashionable folk. Thus Count before they entered the Tyburn cart. Konigsmark, when arrested for complicity Enough has been said to show how des. in the murder of Mr. Thynne,
- lived noperate was the case of the bulk of the in- bly” in the keeper's house (no doubt in mates of Newgate. The whole place the press yard), and was daily visited by except the press yard was so dark' that persons of quality: When political priscandles, “ links or burners,” were used all oners, Jacobite rebels, or others were inday long; the air was so inconceivably carcerated, their sympathizers and supfoul, that the ventilator on the top of the porters came to “comfort them” by prison could exercise no appreciable ef. sharing their potations. Even a notorifect. That malignant disease, the gaol ous highwayman like Maclean, according fever, was chronic, and deaths from it of to Horace Walpole, entertained great frequent occurrence. Doctors could be guests, and it was the “mode” for half yot with difficulty to attend the sick in the world to drive to Newgate and gaze on Newgate, and it was long before any reg. him in the condemned hold. ular medical officer was appointed to the In sharp contrast with the privations prison. Evil was in the ascendant through- and terrible discomforts of the poorer sort out;, wickedness and profligacy pros. was the wild revelry of these aristocratic pered; the weakest always went to the prisoners of the press yard. They had wall. Tyranny and oppression were every luxury to be bought with money, widely practised: not only were the gaol. freedom alone excepted, and that was ers extortionate, but their subordinates, often to be compassed by bribing dishon. the inferior turnkeys, even the bed-mak- est officials to suffer them to escape. The ers, and the gate-keeper's wife levied Jacobites captured in the '15” fared black mail on the pretence of affording sumptuously; they had fish at exorbitant relief, and with threats or actual ill-usage prices, early peas at forty shillings a dish, when payment was withheld. Certainvenison pasties, hams, chickens,' and favored prisoners wielded recognized au- other costly meats.” Money was so plenthority over their fellows. Unwritten but tiful among them that while change for a accepied customs suffered the general guinea was difficult to procure in the body to exact" garnish,” or “chummage,” street, any quantity of silver could always from new comers, fees for the privilege of be got in Newgate. Their leisure time approaching the fire, and generally for was spent in, playing shuttlecock, or baskimmunity from persecution, the sums ing in the smiles of female admirers, some thus raised being forth with expended in of whom were ladies of the highest rank. strong drink. The or
" cellarmen were They kept late hours, collecting in one selected prisoners who could sell candles another's rooms to roar out seditious at their own prices, and got a percentage songs over endless bowls of punch. At upon the liquors consumed, with other times they exhibited much turbulence, and advantages. Other prisoners, were ein- refused to be locked up in the separate ployed in the disiribution of food; in the chambers allotted to them. On Jacobite riveting and removing of shackles; even anniversaries they wore state dresses, in the maintenance of discipline, and when drank the absent king's health, and coni. so acting were armed with a flexible ported themselves defiantly. Nothing weapon, "to the great terror and smart of much was done to them; and all this those who dispute their authority.” Into Jeniency is the more remarkable because these tilthy dens, where misery stalked the bulk of those within the precincts of rampant and corruption festered, unhappy Newgate were so disgracefully ill-used. prisoners brought their families, and the One case may be quoted, that of the Rev. population was greatly increased by num. Lawrence Howell, a non-juring parson, bers of innocent persons, women, and even who a few years later found himself in children, to be speedily demoralized and the gaol for publishing a so-called im
proper work, and who was “slowly muro | The most scandalous scenes occurred on dered there by the intolerable borrors of the gallows. The hangman often quarthe place."
relled with his victim over the garments, As a general rule the movement through which the former looked upon as a lawful Newgate was pretty rapid. The period perquisite, and which the latter was disof imprisonment for debtors might be posed to distribute among his friends; often indefinitely prolonged, and there now and again the rope broke, or the drop was the well-known case of Major Ber- was insufficient and Jack Ketch had to nard and his companions, who were de- add his weight to the hanging body to tained for forty years in Newgate without assist strangulation. Occasionally there trial or the chance of it, on an alleged was a personal conflict and the hangman charge of being concerned in the assas- was obliged to do his office by sheer sination plot against William III. Some, force. The convicts were permitted to too, languished awaiting transfer to the make dying speeches, and these orations West Indian or American plantations by were elaborated and discussed in Newthe contractors to whom they were legally gate weeks before the great day; while sold. But for the bulk of the criminal down in the yelling crowd beneath the prisoners there was one speedy and ef. gallows spurious versions were hawked fectual system of removal, that of capital about and rapidly sold. It was a distinct punishment. Executions were wholesale gain to the decency and good order of the in those times. The code was sanguinary metropolis when Tyburn and other dis. in the extreme. Male coiners were quar- tant points ceased to be the places of tered as traitors, and females were burnt. execution, and hangings were exclusively Larceny, forgery, bankruptcy, all these carried out in front of Newgate, just over were punished by death, and the gallows the debtors' door. But some of the worst tree was always heavily laden.
features of the old system survived. There was every element of callous There was still the melodramatic sermon, brutality in the manner of inflicting the in the chapel hung with black, before a extreme penalty of the law. From the large congregation collected simply to time of sentence to the last dread mo. stare at the convicts squeezed into one ment the convict was exhibited as a show, pew, who in their turn stared with mixed or held up to public contempt and execra. feelings at the coffin on the table just betion. Heartless creatures flocked to the fore their eyes. There was still the same gaol chapel to curiously examine the as. tumultuous gathering to view the last act pect of condemned malefactors on the in the tragedy, the same bloodthirsty mob Sunday the gaol sermon was preached. swaying to and fro before the gates, the Those men who had but a short time to same blue-blooded spectators, George live mingled freely with their fellow-pris. Selwyn or my Lord Tom Noddy, who oners, recklessly carousing, and often breakfasted in state with the gaoler, and making a boast that they laughed to scorn so got a box seat or rented a window opand rejected the well-meant ministrations posite at an exorbitant rate. The popu. of the ordinary. The actual ceremony lace were like degenerate Romans in the was to the last degree cold-blooded and amphitheatre waiting for the butchery to. wanting in all the solemo attributes befit. begin. They fought and struggled desting the awful scene. The doomed was perately for front places: people fell and carried in an open cart to Tyburn or were trampled to death, hoarse roars. other appointed place; the halter already came from thousands of brazen throats, encircled his neck, his coffin was at his which swelled into a terrible chorus as feet, by his side the chaplain or some de. the black figures of the performers on the voted amateur philanthropist and preacher gallows stood out against the sky. " Hats like Silas Told, striving earnestly to im- öff!” “ Down in front !” these cries prove the occasion. For the moh it was echoed and re-echoed in increasing vola high day and holiday; they lined the ume, and all at once abruptly came to an route taken by the ghastly procession, end — the bolt was drawn, the drop had encouraging or flouting the convict ac- fallen, and the miserable wretch had gone cording as he happened to be a popular to liis long home. hero or unknown to criminal fame. In The policy which had brought about the first case they cheered him to the the substitution of Newgate for Tyburn echo, offered him bouquets of flowers, or no doubt halted half-way, but it was copressed him to drink deep from St. Giles's lightened, and a considerable move to Bowl; in the latter they pelted him with wards the private executions of our own fith and overwhelmed him with abuse. I times. It was dictated by the more hu. mane principles which were gradually | progress. The plan did not find favor making head in regard to criminals and with him, but he enters into no particucrime. Many more years were to elapse, lars, and limits his criticisms to remarkhowever, before the eloquence of Romillying, “that without more than ordinary was to bear fruit in the softening of our care the prisoners in it will be in great sanguinary penal code. But already John danger of gaol fever.” According to Howard had commenced his labors, and modern notions the plan was no doubt his revelations were letting in a flood of faulty in the extreme. Safe custody, a light upon the black recesses of prison leading principle in all prison construclife. It is to the credit of the authorities tion, was compassed at the expense of of the city of London that they had rec- most others. The prison façade is a ognized the necessity for rebuilding New. marvel of massive strength and solidity, gate on a larger and more approved plan but until reappropriated in recent years before the publication of Howard's re- its interior was a limited confined space, ports. The great philanthropist made his still darkened, and deprived of ventilafirst journey of inspection towards the tion, by being parcelled out into courts, end of 1773; in the following year he laid upon which looked the narrow windows the information he had obtained before of the various wards. the House of Commons, and in 1777 pub- The erection of the new and commodi. lished the first edition of his celebrated ous gaol, as it is described in an act of “State of Prisons.” As early as 1755 the the period, proceeded rapidly, but three Common Council had condemned New- or four years after Howard's visit it was gate in no measured terms; declared it to still uncompleted. This act recites what be habitually overcrowded with “victims had been done, referring to the valuable, of public justice, under the complicated extensive areas, which had been taken in distresses of poverty, nastiness, and dis. in prosecution of this great prison, and ease ;” they had neither water, nor air, provides additional funds. In 1780, hownor light in sufficient quantities; the ever, an unexpected catastrophe hapbuildings were old and ruinous, and in- pened, and the new buildings were set on capable of any "improvement or tolerable fire by the Lord George Gordon rioters, repairs." It was plainly admitted that and so much damaged that the most comthe gaol ought to be at once pulled down. prehensive repairs were indispensable. But as usual the difficulty of providing These were executed in 1782. Many funds cropped up, and the work, though years were to elapse before any further urgent, was postponed for some years. alterations or improvements were made. The inadequacy of the prison was so ob- It was soon evident that Dance's Newvious, however, that the matter was pres- gate, imposing and appropriate as were its ently brought before a committee of the outlines and façade, by no means satisfied House of Commons, and the necessity for all needs. The progress of enlightenrebuilding clearly proved. A committee ment was continuous, while complaints of the Corporation next met in 1767 to that would have been stifled or ignored consider ways and means, and they were previously were now occasionally heard. fortified in their decision to rebuild by The wretched prisoners continued to be convincing evidence of the horrible con- closely packed together. Transportation dition of the existing prison. A letter ad-had now been adopted as a secondary dressed to the committee by Sir Stephen punishment, and numbers who escaped Jansen stigmatizes it as “an abominable the balter were congregated in Newgate sink of beastliness and corruption." He waiting removal beyond the seas. The spoke from full knowledge, having been population of the prison had amounted to sheriff when the prison was decimated by nearly six hundred at one time in 1785. gaol fever. In the same year Parliamen- According to a presentment made by the tary powers were obtained to raise money grand jury in 1813, in the debtors''side, to rebuild the place, and the new Newgate built for one hundred, no less than three was actually commenced in 1770, when hundred and forty were lodged; in the Lord Mayor Beckford, father of “Vathek” female felons' ward there were one hunBeckford, laid the first stone. Its archi- dred and twenty in space intended for tect was George Dance, and the prison only sixty. These females were destitute building, which still stands to speak for and in rags, without bedding, many withitself, has been counted one of his finest out shoes. In later years the figure rose works. Howard, who gives this historic still higher, and it is authoritatively stated prison the first place in his list, must have that there were as many ight, nine, visited it while the new buildings were in even twelve hundred souls immured with.
in an area of about three-quarters of an strongly condemned in the report of the acre in extent. We have the evidence of Commons committee. The chapel contrustworthy persons that grievous abuses gregation was generally disorderly; prisstill continued unchecked. All prisoners oners yawned, and coughed, and talked were still heavily ironed until large bribes enough to interrupt the service; women had been paid to obtain relief. All man- were in full view of the men, and many ner of unfair dealing was practised towards greetings, such as
“How do you do, the prisoners. The daily allowances of Sall?" often passed from pew to pew. food were unequally divided. Bread and No attempt was made to keep condemned beef were issued in the lump, and each convicts, male or female, separate from individual had to scramble and fight for other prisoners; they mixed freely with bis share. Prisoners had no bedding be- the rest, saw daily any number of visitors, yond a couple of dirty rugs. Exorbitant and had unlimited drink. gaol fees were still demanded on all sides; It was a little before the publication of the governor eked out his income by what the committee's report that that noble he could extort, and his subordinates took woman, Mrs. Fry, first visited Newgate. bribes wherever they could get them. It The awful state of the female prison, as was customary to sell the place of wards- she found it, is described in her memoirs. man, with its greater ease and power of Nearly three hundred women, representoppression, to the highest bidder among ing all crimes and categories, were the prisoners. Unlimited drinking was crowded together in two wards and two allowed within the walls; the prison tap, cells, where they saw their friends, kept with the profits on sales of ale and spirits, their multitude of children, and bad no was a part of the governor's perquisites. other place for cooking, washing, eating, All this time there was unrestrained in- and sleeping.” They slept on the floor; tercommunication between the prisoners; many were nearly naked; spirits and the most depraved were free to contam- strong drink freely circulated; the most inate and demoralize their more innocent frightful oaths and imprecations were on fellows. Newgate was then, and long every lip. Everything was filthy, and the continued, a school and nursery for crime. smell intolerably'disgusting. The officials It was established beyond doubt that were reluctant to go among these terrible burglaries and robberies were frequently unsexed creatures. Mrs. Fry was strongly planned in the gaol, while forged notes advised to leave her watch behind her at and false money were often fabricated the lodge, or it would be torn from her. within the walls and passed out into the What she saw when she entered baffled town.
description. To use her own words, The disclosure of these frightful evils" The filth, the closeness of the rooms, led to a Parliamentary inquiry in 1814, the ferocious manners and expressions of and the worst facts were fully substan. the women towards each other, and the tiated. The prison was not water-tight, abandoned wickedness which everything rain came in through the roof; broken bespoke, baffle description.” Three years windows were left unglazed; it was gen-elapsed between her first visit and her erally very dirty; the gaoler admitted that second. In the interval, the report last with its smoked ceilings and floors of oak, quoted had borne some fruit. An act caulked with pitch, it never could look had been brought in for the abolition of clean. The prisoners were not compelled gaol fees, gaol committees had been apto wash, and cleanliness was only en- pointed to visit and check abuses, and forced by a general threat to shut out something had been done to ameliorate visitors. Sometimes a more than usually the condition of the neglected female out-filthy person was stripped, put under the casts. The accommodation had been expump, and forced to go naked about the tended; mats had been provided; gratings yard. The poor debtors were in terrible erected to separate the prisoners from straits, herded together, and dependent those who came to visit. Yet the scene upon casual charities for supplies. Birch, within was still dreadful. Some women the well-known tavern-keeper, and others, were gambling, or fortune-telling, others sent in broken victuals, generally the begging at the bars for money with spoons stock meat which had helped to make the attached to sticks, and fighting for the turtle soup for civic feasts. The chaplain alms thus obtained. What Mrs. Fry took life very easy, and, beyond preaching quickly accomplished against such treto those who cared to attend chapel, min. mendous difficulties, is one of the bright: istered but little to the spiritual wants of est facts in the whole history of philan. b's charge, and his indifference was thropy. How she persevered in spite of
prediction of certain failure; how she inate association of tried and untried, old won the co-operation of lukewarm offi- and young, pure and hopelessly depraved. cials; how she provided the manual labor Lunatics were still mixed up with the rest. for which these poor idle bands were The state of the middle yard,” where the eager, and presently transformed a filthy worst prisoners were herded together, was den of corruption into a clean, white- as terrible as in the darkest tiines. Matwashed workroom, in which sat rows of ters were somewhat better on the female women recently so desperate and de- side, although the efforts of the Ladies graded, stitching and sewing orderly and Committee, instituted by Mrs. Fry, bad silent: these extraordinary results with sensibly relaxed. Still, there was now a the most unpromising materials have been resident matron and female officers, read and appreciated all over the world. where previously the women had been
There was no one, unfortunately, to un under the sole control of the male turndertake the same great work upon the keys. male side, and this is plain from a letter Well might the inspectors close their addressed to the Common Council by the report with an expression of poignant Hon. H. G. Bennet, who had been chair- regret, not unmixed with indignation, at man of a committee on the police of Lon. the frightful picture presented of the exdon. He had been a witness to the ministing state of Newgate. istrations of Mrs. Fry, and he is keenly This report framed a strong indictment anxious that the city should cease to against the Corporation, who were mainly treat its prisoners “in a manner against responsible. The charges were which coinmon sense and the most ordi. swerable, the only remedy immediate and nary humanity revolt.”. “The misman- searching reform. As a matter of fact agement of Newgate has been for years various abuses and irregularities were put notorious," he says, yet there is no real an end to the following year, but the alterreform. The occasional humanity of a ations, so said the inspectors in a later sheriff may remedy an abuse, redress a report, only introduced the outward sem. wrong, cleanse a sewer, or whitewash a blance of order. “ The master evil, that wall, but the main evils of want of food, of gaol association, and consequent con. air, clothing, bedding, classification, moral tamination, remained in full activity." discipline remain as before." But appeals, Year after year the inspectors repeated however eloquent, were of small avail. their condemnatory criticisms, but were Time passed, and there was a general im- unable to effect any radical change. For petus towards prison reform; the question quite another decade; Newgate continued became cosmopolitan; close inquiry was a byword with prison reformers. made into the relative value of systems of 1850, Colonel, afterwards Sir Joshua Jebb, punishment at home and abroad. Mill. told the select committee on prison discibank Penitentiary was erected at a cost of pline, that he considered Newgate, from half a million, to give full scope to the ex. its defective construction, one of the worst periment of reformation. Public atten. prisons in England. Captain Williams, a tion was daily more and more called to prison inspector, was of the same opinion, prison management. Yet through it all and called Newgate quite the worst prison Newgate remained almost unchanged. It in his district. The fact was, limitation was less crowded, perhaps, since relieved of space rendered it quite impossible to by the opening of the Giltspur Street reconstitute Newgate and bring it up to Compter, and that was all that could be the standard of modern prison require. said. In 1836, when the newly appointed ments. Either great additions must be government inspectors made their first made to the site, an operation likely to be report, the internal arrangements of New- exceedingly costly, or a new building must gate were quite as bad as ever. These be erected elsewhere. These points had inspectors were earnest men, who had already been discussed repeatedly and at made prisons a study. One was the Rev. length by gaol committees and the Court Whitworth Russell, for many years chap- of Åldermen, and a decision finally arrived lain of Millbank; the other Mr. Crawford, at, to erect a new prison on the Tufnell who had written an admirable State paper Park Estate, in the north of London. And upon the prisons of the United States, the this, now known as Holloway Prison, was result of long personal investigation. opened in 1852.
It is almost inconceivable that the old Newgate, relieved of the unnatural de. evils should have been suffered to flourish mands upon its accommodation, was easily in view of the changes introduced else- and rapidly reformed. It became now where. There was still the old indiscrim. simply a place of detention for city pris.