John Howard

JOHN HOWARD, whose name as a philanthropist must be familiar to a number of our readers, was born at Clapton, in the parish of Hackney, in the immediate vicinity of London, in or about the year 1727. His father was an upholsterer and carpet-warehouseman, who had acquired a considerable fortune in trade, and had retired from business to live at Hackney.

Being a dissenter, and a man of strong religious principles, he sent his son at an early age to be educated by a schoolmaster named Worsley, who kept an establishment at some distance from London, where the sons of many opulent dissenters, friends of Mr. Howard, were already boarded. The selection appears to have been injudicious; for in after-life Mr. Howard assured an intimate friend, with greater indignation than he used to express on most subjects, that, after a continuance of seven years at this school, he left it not fully taught any one thing.' From Mr. Worsley's school he was removed, probably about the age of fourteen, to one of a superior description in London, the master of which, Mr. Eames, was a man of some reputation for learning. His acquisitions at both seminaries seem to have been of the meagre kind then deemed sufficient for a person who was to be engaged in commercial pursuits; and it is the assertion of Mr. Howard's biographer, Dr. Aikin, founded on personal knowledge, that he was never able to speak or write his native language with grammatical correctness, and that his acquaintance with other languages - the French perhaps excepted - was slight and superficial.' In this, however, he did not differ perhaps from the generality of persons similarly circumstanced in their youth, and destined, like him, for business.

At the age of fifteen or sixteen Mr. Howard was bound apprentice by his father to Messrs. Newnham and Shipley, extensive wholesale grocers in Watling Street, who received a premium of L700 with him. His father dying, however, shortly afterwards, and the state of his health or his natural tastes indisposing him for the mode of life for which he had been destined, he made arrangements with his masters for the purchase of the remaining term of his apprenticeship, and quitted business. By the will of his father, who is described as a strict methodical man, of somewhat penurious disposition, he was not to come into possession of the property till he had attained his twenty-fourth year. On attaining that age, he was to be entitled to the sum of L7000 in money, together with all his father's landed and moveable property: his only sister receiving, as her share, L8000 in money, with certain additions of jewels, etc., which had belonged to her mother. Although nominally under the charge of guardians, Mr. Howard was allowed a considerable share in the management of his own property. He had his house at Clapton, which his father's parsimonious habits had suffered to fall into decay, repaired or rebuilt, Intending to make it his general place of residence. Connected with the repairing of this house an anecdote is told of Mr. Howard, which will appear characteristic. He used to go every day to superintend the progress of the workmen; and an old man who had been gardener to his father, and who continued about the house until it was let some time afterwards, used to tell, as an instance of Mr. Howard's goodness of disposition when young, that every day during the repairs he would be in the street, close by the garden wall, just as the baker's cart was passing, when he would regularly buy a loaf and throw it over the wall, saying to the gardener as he came Harry, go and look among the cabbages; you will find something for yourself and family.'

After passing his twentieth year, Mr. Howard, being of delicate health, quitted his native country, and made a tour through France and Italy, which lasted a year or two; but of the particulars of which we have no account. On his return to England, probably about the year 1750, he took lodgings in Stoke Newington, living as a gentleman of independent property and quiet, retired habits, and much respected by a small circle of acquaintances, chiefly dissenters. The state of his health, however, was such as to require constant care. His medical attendants, thinking him liable to consumption, recommended to him a very rigorous regimen in diet, which laid the foundation,' says one of his biographers, of that extraordinary abstemiousness and indifference to the gratifications of the palate which ever after so much distinguished him.' This condition of his health obliged him also to have recourse to frequent changes of air and scene. Newington, however, was his usual place of residence. Here, having experienced much kindness and attention during a very severe attack of illness from his landlady, Mrs. Sarah Loidoire, an elderly widow of small property, he resolved to marry her and although she remonstrated with him upon the impropriety of the step, considering their great disparity of ages - he being in his twenty-fifth, and she in her fifty-second year - the marriage was concluded in 1752. Nothing but the supposition that he was actuated by gratitude, can account for this singular step in Mr. Howard's life. The lady, it appears, was not only twice as old as himself, but also very sickly; and that no reasons of interest can have influenced him, is evident, as well from the fact that she was poor in comparison with himself, as from the circumstance of his immediately making over the whole of her little property to her sister. Mr. Howard seems to have lived very happily with his wife till her death shortly afterwards, in November, 1755.

On his wife's death, he resolved to leave England for another tour on the continent. In his former tour he had visited most of the places of usual resort in France and Italy; during the present, therefore, he intended to pursue some less common route. After some deliberation, he determined to sail first to Portugal, in order to visit its capital, Lisbon, then in ruins from the effects of that tremendous earthquake the news of which had appalled Europe. Nothing is more interesting than to observe the effects which great public events of a calamitous nature produce on different minds; indeed one of the most instructive ways of contrasting men's dispositions, is to consider how they are severally affected by some stupendous occurrence. It is to be regretted, therefore, that we are not informed more particularly by Howard's biographers of the reasons which determined him to visit the scene of the awful catastrophe which had recently occurred in Portugal whether they were motives of mere curiosity, or whether they partook of that desire to place himself in contact with misery, that passion for proximity to wretchedness which formed so large an element in Howard's character, and marked him out from the first as predestined for a career of philanthrophy.

Before leaving England to proceed on his tour to the south of Europe, Mr, Howard broke up his establishment at Stoke Newington, and, with that generosity which was so natural to him, made a distribution among the poorer people of the neighborhood of those articles of furniture for which he had now no necessity. The old gardner already mentioned used to relate that his dividend of the furniture on this occasion consisted of a bedstead and bedding complete, a table, six new chairs, and a scythe. A few weeks after this distribution of his furniture, Mr. Howard set sail in the Hanover, a Lisbon packet. Unfortunately, the vessel never reached her destination, being captured during her voyage by a French privateer. The crew and passengers were treated with great cruelty by their captors, being kept for forty hours under hatches without bread or water. They were carried into Brest, and confined all together in the castle of that place as prisoners of war. Here their sufferings were increased; and after lying for many hours in their dungeon without the slightest nourishment, they had a joint of mutton thrown in amongst them, which, not having a knife to cut it, they were obliged to tear with the hands, and gnaw like dogs. For nearly a week they lay on straw in their damp and unwholesome dungeon, after which they were separated, and severally disposed of. Mr. Howard was removed first to Morlaix, and afterwards to Carpaix, where he was allowed for two months to go about on parole - an indulgence usually accorded to officers only, but which Mr. Howard's manners and behavior procured for him from the authorities. He was even furnished, it is said, with the means of returning to England, that he might negotiate his own exchange for some French naval officer, a prisoner of war in the hands of the English. This exchange was happily accomplished, and Mr. Howard was once more at liberty, and in England. His short captivity in France, however, was not without its good effects, by interesting him strongly in the condition of those unfortunate men who, chancing like himself to be captured at sea during war, were languishing in dungeons both in France and England, and atoning by their sufferings for the mutual injuries or discords of the nations to which they belonged. Mr. Howard's imprisonment may be said to have first given a specific direction to his philanthropic enthusiasm. In his 'Account of the State of Prisons,' published a considerable time afterwards, he subjoins the following note to a passage in which he contrasts the favorable treatment which prisoners of war usually receive, with the cruelties which domestic prisoners experience I must not be understood here to mean a compliment to the French. How they then treated English prisoners of war I knew by experience in 1756, when a Lisbon packet in which I went passenger, in order to make the tour of Portugal, was taken by a French privateer. Before we reached Brest, I suffered the extremity of thirst, not having, for above forty hours, one drop of water, nor hardly a morsel of food. In the castle of Brest I lay for six nights upon straw; and observing how cruelly my countrymen were used there and at Morlaix, whither I was carried next, during the two months I was at Carpaix upon parole I corresponded with the English prisoners at Brest, Morlaix, and Dinnan. At the last of these towns were several of our ship's crew and my servant. I had sufficient evidence of their being treated with such barbarity, that many hundreds had perished, and that thirty-six were buried in a hole at Dinnan in one day. When I came to England, still on parole, I made known to the Commissioner of Sick and Wounded Seamen the sun dry particulars, which gained their attention and thanks. Remonstrance was made to the French court; our sailors had redress; and those who were in the three prisons mentioned above were brought home in the first cartel-ships. Perhaps what I suffered on this occasion increased my sympathy with the unhappy people whose case is the subject of this book.' In Mr. Howard's conduct, as here described by himself, we discern the real characteristic of active philanthropy. How few men are there who, like him, would have turned a personal misfortune to such good account; and who, while enduring sufferings themselves, would have occupied their thoughts with the means of putting an end, for all time coming, to the system which permitted such sufferings! Most men would have occupied the time of their imprisonment with sighs and lamentations; and once at liberty, they would have returned gleefully to the enjoyment of their homes, without troubling themselves about their less fortunate fellow-sufferers whom they had left behind, or at least without conceiving that their exertions could do anything for their benefit. But it is the characteristic of men like Howard, when once their attention is called to a wrong, not to rest until they have seen it rectified.

On his return to England, Mr. Howard went to reside on the small estate of Cardington, near Bedford, which had been left him by his father, and which he had increased by the purchase of an additional farm. He appears to have resided here for the next two years, leading the life of a quiet country gentleman, superintending his farms, and earning the respect and good-will of all the neighborhood, by his attention to the comforts of his tenants, and his charities to the poor. It was during this period also, on the 13th of May 1756, that he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; an honor which did not necessarily imply that he possessed reputation as a scientific man, or even a man of brilliant abilities, but only that he was a gentleman of respectability, who, like many others of his class, took an interest in scientific pursuits. Howard's attainments in science do not seem to have ever been very great, and the only point of his character which connected him particularly with a scientific body, was his taste for meteorological observations.

On the 25th of April 1758, Mr. Howard contracted a second marriage with Miss Henrietta Leeds, eldest daughter of Edward Leeds, Esq., of Croxton, Cambridgeshire. The lady whom he had selected as his partner in life is described as amiable, affectionate, pious, and in every way worthy of such a husband. Her tastes were the same as his, and she cordially seconded all his charitable plans for the assistance and relief of those who depended upon his benevolence.

For seven years Mr. Howard enjoyed uninterrupted happiness in the society of his wife. During this period he resided first at Cardington, next for about three years at Watcombe in Hampshire, and latterly at Carding ton again. The even tenor of his existence during these years presents few incidents worth recording. Reading, gardening, and the improvement of his grounds, occupied most of his time. His meteorological observations were likewise diligently continued; and it is mentioned, as a proof of his perseverance in whatever he undertook, that on the setting in of a frost, he used to leave his bed at two o'clock every morning while it lasted, for the purpose of looking at a thermometer which he kept in his garden. His charities, as before, were profuse and systematic. His desire, and that of his wife, was to see all around them industrious and happy. To effect this, they used all the influence which their position as persons of property and wealth gave them over the villagers and cottagers in their neighborhood. One of their modes of dispensing charity was to employ persons out of work in making articles of furniture or ornament; and in this way, it is said, Mrs. Howard soon increased her stock of table-linen to a quantity greater than would ever be required by any household.

On the 31st of March 1765, Mrs. Howard died in giving birth to a son, the first and only issue of their marriage. This event was a source of poignant affliction to her husband. On the tablet which he erected to her memory in Cardington church, he caused to be inscribed the following passage from the book of Proverbs: - ' She opened her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue was the law of kindness.' Her miniature was ever after his constant companion by sea or land; and the day of her death was observed by him annually as a day of fasting, meditation and prayer.

From the death of his wife in 1765 to the end of the year 1769, Mr. Howard appears to have remained in England, and at Cardington as before, with the exception of a month or six weeks in the year 1767, which he devoted to a tour through Holland. His principal occupation during these four years was the education of his infant son. From the circumstance that this boy, when he arrived at the years of manhood, conducted himself in a profligate manner, and at last became insane, much attention has been drawn to Mr. Howard's mode of educating him in his infancy; some insisting that his conduct as a parent was harsh and injudicious, others going so far as to asert that this man - whom the world reveres as a philanthropist, and whose benevolent soul yearned for the whole human race was in his domestic relations a narrow and unfeeling tyrant. This last assertion - although, abstractly considered, there is nothing impossible or absurd in it, inasmuch as we may conceive such a thing as real philanthropy on a large scale conjoined with inattention to one's immediate duties as a husband or father - appears to have absolutely no foundation whatever in Howard's case; and to have originated either in malice, or in that vulgar love of effect which delights in finding striking incongruities in the characters of great men. Nor does the other assertion - that Howard's mode of educating his infant son was harsh and injudicious - appear more worthy of credit. The truth seems to be, that Howard was a kind and benevolent man, of naturally strict and methodical habits, who entertained, upon principle, high ideas of the authority of the head of a family. A friend of his relates that he has often heard him tell in company, as a piece of pleasantry, that before his marriage with his second wife he made an agreement with her, that in order to prevent all those little altercations about family matters which he had observed to be the principal causes of domestic discomfort, he should always decide. Mrs. Howard, he said, had cheerfully agreed to this arrangement; and it was attended with the best effects. The same principle of the supremacy of the head of a family - a principle much less powerful in society now than it was a generation or two ago - guided him in his behavior to his son. 'Regarding children,' says Dr. Aikin, 'as creatures possessed of strong passions and desires, without reason and experience to control them, he thought that nature seemed, as it were, to mark them out as the subjects of absolute authority, and that the first and fundamental principle to be inculcated upon them was implicit and unlimited obedience.' The plan of education here described may to some appear austere and injudicious, while others will cordially approve of it, as that recommended by experience and common sense; but at all events, the charges of harshness and cruelty which some have endeavored to found upon it are mere calumnies, refuted by all who knew Mr. Howard, and were witnesses to his affection for his son.

Sensible of the loss which the boy had sustained by the death of his mother, Mr. Howard placed him, in his fifth year, under the care of a lady in whom he had confidence, who kept a boarding-school at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. This and other arrangements having been made, he went abroad on a fourth continental tour towards the end of 1769. Proceeding through the south of France, and spending a few weeks in Geneva, he visited most of the remarkable places in Italy, some of them for the second time; and returned home through Germany in the latter part of 1770, having been absent in all about twelve months.

When Howard had again settled at Cardington, he resumed his benevolent schemes of local improvement. It appears that the vicinity of Bedford, and Cardington especially, was inhabited by a very poor population, liable to frequent visitations of distress from the fluctuations of the only manufacture which yielded them employment - that of lace; as well as generally from the unhealthy and marshy nature of the soil, rendering agues prevalent. Mr. Howard's first care with respect to those to whom he was attached as landlord, was to improve their dwellings. At different times,' says his biographer, Mr. Brown, he pulled down all the cottages on his estate, and rebuilt them in a neat but simple style, paying particular attention to their preservation, as much as possible, from the dampness of the soil. Others which were not his property before, he purchased, and reerected upon the same plan; adding to the number of the whole by building several new ones in different parts of the village. To each of these he allotted a piece of garden-ground, sufficient to supply the family of its occupier with potatoes and other vegetables; and generally ornamented them in front with a small fore-court, fenced off from the road by neat white palings, enclosing a bed or two of simple flowers, with here and there a shrub, or an evergreen; thus imparting to these habitations of the poor, with their white fronts and thatched roofs, that air of neatness and comfort so strikingly characteristic of everything in which he engaged.' These comfort able habitations, which he let at a rent of twenty or thirty shillings a year,' says another biographer, Dr. Aikin, 'he peopled with the most industrious and sober tenants he could find; and over them he exercised the superintendence of master and father combined. He was careful to furnish them with employment, to assist them in sickness and distress, and to educate their children.' In consequence of these exertions of Mr. Howard, aided and seconded by those of his friend and relative, Samuel Whitbread, Esq., who possessed property in the same neighborhood, Cardington, which seemed at one time to contain the abodes of poverty and wretchedness, soon became one of the neatest villages in the kingdom - exhibiting all the pleasing appearances of competence and content, the natural rewards of industry and virtue.' Industry and cleanliness were the two virtues which. Mr. Howard sought by all means to naturalize among the villagers of Cardington. It was his custom to visit the houses of his tenants now and then, conversing with them on the state of their affairs. During such visits he was particular in requesting them to keep their houses clean; and it was one of his standing advices that they should swill the floors well with water.' After talking with the children, he would tell them, at parting, to be good boys and girls, and keep their faces and hands clean.'

Among Mr. Howard's other benefactions to the locality of Cardington, he established schools for the education of the boys and girls of the neighborhood, in the rudiments of knowledge. Of these it was strictly required that they should regularly attend some place of worship on Sundays; whether the established church, or any other, was indifferent, provided it was a church at all. His anxiety on this point also led him to convert one of his cottages into a preaching station, where the neighboring clergymen of different pursuasions, or occasionally a clergyman from a distance passing through the village, might officiate to such as chose to attend; and very rarely was the little congregation without at least one sermon a week. Mr. Howard, when at Cardington, was invariably present at these meetings. His regular place of worship was the Old Meeting-house at Bedford, of which the Rev. Mr. Symonds was pastor for 1766 to 1772. In the latter year, however, when Mr. Symonds declared his adherence to the theological tenets of the Baptists, Mr. Howard seceded along with a considerable part of the congregation, and established a new meeting-house. The truth is, however, that, with all his piety, and indeed on account of the very strength and sincerity of it, the theological differences of sects occupied very little space in his attention, and did not in the least affect his schemes of philanthropy; and though a dissenter of a particular denomination himself, dissenters of all other denominations, as well as members of the established church, were equally the objects of his respect and his benevolent solicitude.

The following recollections of Mr. Howard's habits at this period, by the Rev. Mr. Townsend, who resided with him at Cardington for a short period, in the interval between the secession from the Old Meeting-house, and the erection of the new one, may be interesting: He found him,' he said, not disposed to talk much; he sat but a short time at table, and was in motion during the whole day. He was very abstemious; lived chiefly on vegetables, ate little animal food, and drank no wine or spirits. He hated praise; and when Mr. Townsend once mentioned to him his labors of benevolence ' - not those general ones for which he is now so celebrated, but his exertions for the improvement of the condition of the people in his neighborhood - ' he spoke of them slightingly, as a whim of his, and immediately changed the subject.' He was at all times,' adds his biographer, Mr. Brown, remarkably neat in his dress, but affected no singularity in it. Though he never thought it right to indulge in the luxuries of life, he did not despise its comforts. Wine or fermented liquors of any kind he himself never drank; but they were always provided, and that of the best quality, for his friends who chose to take them. He always maintained an intercourse of civility with some of the most considerable persons in the country, and was on visiting terms with the greater part of the country gentlemen around him, and with the most respectable inhabitants of the town of Bedford, churchmen and dissenters. His aversion to mix much with promiscuous assemblies was the result of his religious principles and habits, which taught him that this was no very profitable method of spending his time; yet however uncomplying he might be with the freedoms and irregularities of polite life, he was by no means negligent of its received forms; and though he might be denominated a man of scruples and singularities, no one would dispute his claim to the title of a gentleman.'

From these details our readers will be able to fancy Mr. Howard as he was in the year 1773 - a widower country gentleman, of plain, upright, methodical habits, aged about forty-six; devout and exemplary in his conduct, and a dissenter by profession, but without any strong prejudices for or against any sect; temperate and economical, but the very reverse of parsimonious; fond of traveling, and exceedingly attentive to what fell under his observation; of a disposition overflowing with kindness at the aspect of a miserable object, and prompting him to go out in search of wretchedness, and to distribute over his whole neighborhood the means of comfort and happiness. Such was Mr. Howard in the year 1773; and if he had then died, his name would never have been so celebrated as it is over the world, but would only have been remembered in the particular district where his lot was cast, as the names of many benevolent landlords and good men are locally remembered all over the country. Fortunately, however, a circumstance happened which opened for this unostentatious benefactor of a village a career of world-wide philanthropy. This was his election, in the year 1773, to the important office of high-sheriff of the county of Bedford. Regarding the special circumstances which led to his election to such a post, we have no information. It may be mentioned, however, that, in accepting the office, he subjected himself to the liability of a fine of L500 - the laws which disqualified dissenters from holding such offices not having been yet repealed, although they were practically set at defiance by the increasing liberality of the age. A story was indeed once current that Mr. Howard, on his nomination to the office, stated to earl Bathurst, then lord chancellor, his scruples about accepting it, arising from the fact of his not being a member of the Church of England; and that lord Bathurst, in reply, gave him an assurance of indemnification, in case any malicious person should endeavor to put the law in force against him. This story, however, does not appear to have been well-founded.

The duties of a high-sheriff in England are important and various. To him are addressed the writs commencing all actions, and he returns the juries for the trial of men's lives, liberties, lands and goods. He executes the judgments of the courts. In his county he is the principal conservator of the peace. He presides in his own court as a judge; and he not only tries all causes of forty shillings in value, but also questions of larger amount. He presides at all elections of members of parliament and coroners. He apprehends all wrongdoers, and for that purpose, he is entitled to break open outer-doors to seize the offender. He defends the county against riot, or rebellion, or invasion. The sheriff takes precedence of all persons in the county. He is responsible for the execution of criminals. He receives and entertains the judges of assize, on whom he is constantly in attendance whilst they remain in his shire. To assist him in the performance of his duties, the sheriff employs an under-sheriff, and also a bailiff and jailers, from whom he takes security for their good conduct. Such was the office to which, fortunately for society, Mr. Howard was appointed at the annual election of sheriffs in the year 1773.

The office of high-sheriff became a different thing in the hands of such a man as Howard from what it had been before. It was no longer a mere honorable office, all the drudgery of which was performed by the undersheriff; it was no longer the mere right of going in state twice a-year to meet the judges, and of presiding during the gayeties of an assize-week; it was a situation of real power and laborious well-doing. Already alive to the existence of numerous abuses in prison management - as well by his general information respecting the institutions of the country, as by his own experience of prison life in France seventeen years before - he had not been a month in office before all the faculties of his heart and soul were engaged in searching out and dragging into public notice the horrible corruptions and pollutions of the English prison system.

Within Mr. Howard's own cognizance as sheriff of Bedfordshire, there were three prisons - the county jail, the county bridewell, and the town jail, all in Bedford; and, as a matter of course, it was with these that his inquiries commenced. Various abuses struck him in their management, particularly in that of the county jail, the accommodations of which, whether for the purposes of work, health, or cleanliness, he found very deficient. But what roused his sense of justice most of all, was to find that the jailer had no salary, and depended for great part of his income on the following clause in the prison regulations All persons that come to this place, either by warrant, commitment, or verbally, must pay, before being discharged, fifteen shillings and fourpence to the jailer, and two shillings to the turnkey.' The effect which this and similar exactions from prisoners in the Bedford jail made upon him, will be best learned from his own statement prefixed to his Account of the State of Prisons.' The distress of prisoners,' he says, of which there are few who have not some imperfect idea, came more immediately under my notice when I was sheriff of the county of Bedford; and the circumstance which excited me to activity in their behalf was seeing some 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 subjected them to trial - and some whose prosecutors did not appear against them - after having been confined for months, dragged back to jail, and locked up again till they should pay sundry fees to the jailer, the clerk of assize, etc. In order to redress this hardship,' he continues, I applied to the justices of the county for a salary to the jailer in lieu of his fees. The bench were properly affected with the grievance, and willing to grant the relief desired; but they wanted a precedent for charging the county with the expense.'

With a view to find the precedent required, Mr. Howard undertook to visit the jails of some of the neighboring counties, that he might inquire into the practice adopted there. His first visits were to the jails of Cambridge and Huntingdon; and in the course of the same month - November 1773 - he prosecuted his tour through those of the following counties in addition - Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stafford, Warwick, Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford, and Buckingham. In each and all of these jails he found abuses and grievances; different, indeed, in one from what they were in another, and in some fewer and less shocking than in others, but in all disgraceful to a civilized country. In all of them, the income of the jailer was derived, as at Bedford, from fees exacted from the prisoners, and not from a regular salary; nay, in one of them the sheriff himself drew fees from the prisoners; and in another, that of Northampton, the jailer, instead of having a salary, paid the county L40 a-year for his office. To enter into the details of his investigations of the abuses of the various prisons above enumerated, as these are given in the first edition of his

Account of the State of Prisons,' would be impossible; suffice it to say, that Mr. Howard's reports on the various jails he visited are not mere general assertions that this or that jail was defective in its arrangements, but laborious and minute accounts of the statistics of each - containing in the briefest possible compass, every circumstance respecting every jail which it could possibly be useful to know. Indeed no parliamentary commission ever presented a more searching, clear, and accurate report than Howard's account of the state of the prisons he visited.

His visits to the jails of the counties adjoining Bedford had only disclosed to him those depths of misery which he was yet to sound. Looking into the prisons,' he says, I beheld scenes of calamity which I became daily more and more anxious to alleviate. In order, therefore, to gain a more perfect knowledge of the particulars and extent of it, by various and accurate observation, I visited most of the county jails in England.' This more extensive tour was begun in December 1773, and by the 17th of that month he had inspected the jails of the counties of Hertford, Berks, Wilts, Dorset, Hants, and Sussex; occupying, therefore, it will be perceived, a much less space of time in his survey than most official commissioners, and yet probably doing the work much better. The next six weeks he appears to have spent at Cardington with his son, then about eight years of age, and at home no doubt on his Christmas vacation; but towards the end of January 1774, his philanthropic tour was resumed. The jails of Rutland shire were first visited, then those of York: on his journey southward from York he passed through the shires of Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, visiting the prisons of each: a fortnight was then devoted to an examination of the monster prisons of London: from London he set out on a journey to the western counties, inspected the jails of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Hereford, and Monmouth; and, after a short absence, returned to London, having, in the course of three months of expeditious and extensive, but most thorough scrutiny, acquired more knowledge of the state of English prisons than was possessed by any other man then living. Such is the effect of having a definite object in view, and attending exclusively to it. If we measure ability by mere largeness of intellect, there were undoubtedly hundreds of abler men than Howard then alive in England; but what is the lazy and languid greatness of these intellectual do-nothings compared with the solid greatness of a man like Howard, who, gifted by God with a melting love for his fellow-men, laboriously and steadily pursued one object, made himself master of one department, and dragged into daylight one class of social abuses till then unknown or unheeded?

It happened by a fortunate conjunction, that at the time Mr. Howard was pursuing his prison inquiries, a few members of the legislature were interesting themselves in the same subject. In the previous session of parliament a bill had been introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Popham, member for Taunton, proposing the payment of jailors, not by fees from the prisoners, as heretofore, but out of the county rates. The bill had been dropped in committee on the second reading; but the subject of prison management was resumed next session, the principal movers in the inquiry being Mr. Popham, and Mr. Howard's intimate friends, Mr. St. John and Mr. Whitbread. It would appear that it had been in consequence of consultations with Mr. Howard that these gentlemen broached the subject in parliament at so early a period in the session; at all events, we find Mr. Howard immediately after his return from his western tour, examined before a committee of the whole House regarding his knowledge of the state of English prisons. So full and valuable were the details submitted to the committee by Mr. Howard, that on the House being resumed, the chairman of the committee, Sir Thomas Clavering, reported that he was directed by the committee to move the House that John Howard, Esq. be called in to the bar, and that Mr. Speaker do acquaint him that the Esq., are very sensible of the humanity and zeal which have led him to visit the several jails of this kingdom, and to communicate to the House the interesting observations he has made upon that subject.' The motion was adopted unanimously; and Mr. Howard had, accordingly, the honor of receiving the public thanks of the House for his philanthropic exertions. To show however, how little the spirit which animated these exertions was under stood or appreciated, we may mention that it is related that during his examination before the committee, one member put the question to him, At whose expense he traveled?'

Mr. Howard, however, was still only at the commencement of his labors. In the month of March 1774, only a few days after receiving the thanks of the House of Commons, he set out for the extreme north of England, to visit the jails there. In an incredibly short space of time he had traversed the counties of Durham, Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lancaster, Chester, and Shropshire, visiting the jails in each; then, after revisiting those of Stafford, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, and Northampton, he returned home to Cardington; from which, after a week's repose he sent out for Kent. With the examination of the jails of Kent, Mr. Howard's first survey of the jails of England may be said to have been finished. To give once for all, an idea of the minute and thorough manner in which he discharged his self-imposed duty, we may quote his remarks on the county jail at Durham. After giving a list of the officials and their salaries, he proceeds thus: 'The high jail is the property of the bishop. By patent from his lordship, Sir Hedworth Williamson, Bart., is perpetual sheriff. The court for master's side debtors is only 24 feet by 10: they are permitted sometimes to walk on the leads. They have beds in the upper hall, and in several other rooms. Their rooms should be ceiled, that they might be lime-whited, to prevent infectious disorders, and that great nuisance of bugs, of which the debtors complain much here and other places. Common side debtors have no court; their free wards, the low jail, are two damp, unhealthy rooms, 10 feet 4 inches square by the gateway. They are never suffered to go out of these except to chapel, which is the master's side debtor's hall; and not always to that: for on Sunday, when I was there, and missed them at chapel, they told me they were not permitted to go thither. No sewers. At more than one of my visits I learned that the dirt, ashes, etc., had lain there many months. There is a double-barreled pump, which raises water about 70 feet. Felons have no court; but they have a day-room, and two small rooms for an infirmary. The men are put at night into dungeons: one, 7 feet square, for three prisoners; another, the great hole, 16? feet by 12, has only a little window. In this I saw six prisoners, most of them transports, chained to the floor. In this situation they had been for many weeks, and were very sickly; their straw on the stone floor almost worn to dust. Long confinement, and not having the king's allowance of two shillings and sixpence a-week, had urged them to attempt an escape; after which the jailer had chained them as already mentioned. There is another dungeon for women felons, 12 feet by 8; and up stairs, a separate room or two. The common side debtors in the low jail, whom I saw eating boiled bread and water, told me that this was the only nourishment some had lived upon for near a twelvemonth. They have, from a legacy, one shilling and a sixpence a-week in winter, and one shilling a-week in summer, for coals. No memorandum of it in the jail: perhaps this may in time be lost, as the jailer said two others were - namely, one of Bishop Crewe, and another of Bishop Wood, from which prisoners had received no benefit for some years past. But now the bishop has humanely filed bills in Chancery, and recovered these legacies, by which several debtors have been discharged. Half-a-crown a-week is paid to a woman for supplying the debtors with water in the two rooms on the side of the gateway. The act for preserving the health of prisoners is not hung up. Jail delivery once a-year. At several of my visits there were boys between thirteen and fifteen years of age confined with the most profligate and abandoned. There was a vacant piece of ground adjacent, of little use but for the jailor's occasional lumber. It extends to the river, and measures about 22 yards by 16. I once and again advised the enclosing this for a court, as it might be done with little expense; and it appears that formerly here was a doorway into the prison. But when I was there afterwards in January 1776 , had the mortification to hear that the surgeon, who was uncle to the jailer, had obtained from the bishop, in October preceding, a lease of it for twenty-one years, at the rent of one shilling per annum. He had built a little stable on it.'

Having completed his survey of the English jails, Mr. Howard turned his attention next to those of Wales; and by the end of the autumn of 1774, he appears to have visited the principal jails in that principality. During these last months the field of his inquiries had been extended, so as to embrace a new department. Seeing,' he says 'in two or three of the jails some poor creatures whose aspect was singularly deplorable, and asking the cause of it, the answer was, They were lately brought from the bridewells.' This started a fresh subject of inquiry. I resolved to inspect the bridewells; and for that purpose traveled again into the counties where I had been; and indeed into all the rest, examining houses of correction, city and town jails. I beheld in many of them, as well as in the county jails, a complication of distress.'

Mr. Howard's philanthropic labors for now nearly a twelve-month had of course made him an object of public attention, and it became obviously desirable to have such a man in parliament. Accordingly, at the election of 1774, he was requested by a number of the electors of Bedford to allow himself to be put in nomination for that town, in the independent interest, along with his friend Mr. Whitbread. Mr. Howard consented; but when the polling had taken place, the numbers stood thus Sir William Wake, 527 votes; Mr. Sparrow, 517; Mr. Whitbread, 429 and Mr. Howard, 402. A protest was taken by the supporters of Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Howard, most of whom were dissenters, against the election of the two former gentlemen, on the ground that the returning officers had acted unfairly in rejecting many legally good votes for Messrs. Whitbread and Howard, receiving many legally bad ones for the other two candidates. Petitions impeaching the return were also presented to the House of Commons by Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Howard.

Nothing, however, could divert our philanthropist from his own peculiar walk of charity, and the interval between the election and the hearing of the petitions against its validity was diligently employed by him in a tour through Scotland and Ireland, for the purpose of inspecting the prisons there, and comparing them with those of England and Wales. With the Scotch system of prison management he seems to have been, on the whole, much better pleased than with that of England; and he mentions, with particular approbation, that in Scotland all criminals are tried out of irons; and when acquitted, they are immediatelydischarged in open court ,' and that women are not put in irons.' Still he found sufficient grounds for complaint in the state of the prisons themselves. The prisons,' he says, that I saw in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, Jedburgh, Haddington, Ayr, Kelso, Nairn, Banff, Inverness, etc., were old buildings, dirty and offensive, without courtyards, and also generally without water.' The tolbooth at Inverness,' he afterwards observes, has no fire place, and is the most dirty and offensive prison that I have seen in Scotland.' In the Irish prisons he found, as might have been expected, abuses even more shocking than those he had generally met with in England.

In March 1775, Mr. Howard having by this time returned to England, his petition and that of Mr. Whitbread against the return of Sir William Wake and Mr. Sparrow were taken into consideration by a committee of the House of Commons. On a revision of the poll, the numbers, after adding the good votes which had been rejected, and striking off the bad ones which had been accepted, stood thus - Mr. Whitbread, 568; Sir William Wake, 541; Mr. Howard, 537; Mr. Sparrow, 529. Thus, although by a small majority, Mr. Howard lost the election; his friend, Mr. Whitbread, who had formerly been in the same predicament, was now returned at the top of the poll in lieu of Mr. Sparrow.

It was perhaps a fortunate circumstance for the world that Mr. Howard did not succeed in being returned to parliament. He might no doubt have been of great service as a member of the legislature; but his true function was that which he had already chosen for himself - a voluntary and unofficial inquirer into the latent miseries of human society. It was not so much as a propounder of schemes of social improvement that Mr. Howard appeared; it was rather as an explorer of unvisited scenes of wretchedness, who should drag into the public gaze all manner of grievances, in order that the general wisdom and benevolence of the country might be brought to bear upon them. In a complex state of society, where wealth and poverty, comfort and indigence, are naturally separated from each other as far as possible, so that the eyes and ears of the upper classes may not be offended and nauseated by the sights and sounds of wo, the interference of this class of persons - inspectors, as they may be called, whose business it is to see and report - is among the most necessary of all acts for social wellbeing.

Mr. Howard having completed his survey of the prisons of Great Britain, began to prepare his reports for publication. I designed,' says he, to publish the account of our prisons in the spring of 1775, after I returned from Scotland and Ireland. But conjecturing that something useful to my purpose might be collected abroad, I laid aside my papers, and traveled into France, Flanders, Holland, and Germany.' The precise route which he pursued during this, his fifth continental tour, is not known; he appears, however, to have gone to France first. He gives the following account of his attempt to gain admission to the famous Bastile of Paris. I was desirous of examining it myself, and for that purpose knocked hard at the outer gate, and immediately went forward through the guard to the drawbridge before the entrance of the castle. But while I was contemplating this gloomy mansion, an officer came out much surprised, and I was forced to retreat through the mute guard, and thus regained that freedom which, for one locked up within those walls, it is next to impossible to obtain.' On this singular adventure of Mr. Howard one of his biographers makes the following remark. In the space of four centuries, from the foundation to the destruction of the Bastile, perhaps Mr. Howard was the only person that was ever compelled to quit it reluctantly.' Although denied admission to the Bastile, Mr. Howard was able to obtain entrance into the other prisons of Paris. His first application, indeed, for admittance to the Grand Chatelet was unsuccessful; but happening to remark that, by the tenth article of the arret of 1717, jailers were authorized to admit persons desirous of bestowing charity on the prisoners, he pleaded it before the Commissaire de la Prison; and in this way gained admission not only to that prison, but to the others. Except for the horrible subterranean dungeons, in which he found that certain classes of prisoners were sometimes confined in France, he appears to have considered the prisons in that country better managed than those of England.

Mr. Howard's proceedings in France, French Flanders, and the Netherlands, will be best gathered from the following letter to a friend: - ‘ I came late last night to this city; the day I have employed in visiting the jails, and collecting all the criminal laws, as I have got those of France. However rigorous they may be, yet their great care and attention to their prisons is worthy of commendation: all fresh and clean; no jail distemper; no prisoners ironed. The bread allowance far exceeds that of any of our jails; for example, every prisoner here has two pounds of bread a-day; once a-day, soup; and on Sunday, one pound of meat. I write to you, my friend, for a relaxation from what so much engrosses my thoughts. And indeed I force myself to the public dinners and suppers for that purpose, though I show so little respect to a set of men who are so highly esteemed (the French cooks), that I have not tasted fish, flesh, or fowl since I have been this side the water. Through a kind Providence I am very well; calm, easy in spirits. The public voitures have not been crowded, and I have met, in general, agreeable company. I hope to be in Holland the beginning of next week.'

After visiting the principal prisons in Holland and part of Germany, most of which seem to have particularly pleased him, when contrasted with those at home, Mr. Howard returned to England in the end of July, 1775. Not to rest, however; for he immediately commenced a second survey of the English prisons. This was interrupted, in the beginning of the year 1776, when he made a trip to Switzerland to visit the Swiss jails., taking some of the French ones in his way. Returning to England, he resumed his second survey of the English and Welsh prisons; and when this was completed to his satisfaction in the beginning of 1777, he took up his residence for the spring at the town of Warrington, in Lancashire, where he had resolved to have his work on prisons printed. His reasons for printing the book there, rather than in London, were various; one of them was, that he wished to be near his friend Dr. (then Mr.) Aikin, employed as a surgeon in Warrington, whose literary talents were of assistance to him in fitting the work for publication. Dr. Aikin gives the following account of the process which Mr. Howard's notes underwent, in order to qualify them for being sent to press - his own composition, as our readers are already aware being none of the most correct in a grammatical point of view. On his return from his tours,' says Dr. Aikin, he took all his memorandum-books to an old, retired friend of his, who assisted him in methodising them, and copied out the whole matter in correct language. They were then put into the hands of Dr. Price, from whom they underwent a revision, and received occasionally considerable alterations. With his papers thus corrected, Mr. Howard came to the press at Warrington; and first he read them all over carefully to me, which perusal was repeated sheet by sheet, as they were printed. As new facts and observations were continually suggesting themselves to his mind, he put the matter of them upon paper as they occurred, and then requested me to clothe them in such expressions as I thought proper. On these occasions such was his diffidence, that I found it difficult to make him acquiesce in his own language, when, as frequently happened, it was unexceptionable. Of this additional matter, some was interwoven with the text, but the greater part was necessarily thrown into notes.' So intent was he upon the publication of the work, that, for the purpose,' we are told by his biographer, Mr. Brown, of being near the scene of his labors, he took lodgings in a house close to his printer's shop; and during a very severe winter he was always called up by two in the morning, though he did not retire to rest till ten. His reason for this early rising was, that in the morning he was least disturbed in his work of revising the sheets as they came from the press. At seven he regularly dressed for the day, and had his breakfast; when, punctually at eight, he repaired to the printing-office, and remained there till the workmen went to dinner at one, when he returned to his lodgings, and putting some bread and raisins, or other dried fruit, in his pocket, generally took a walk in the outskirts of the town, eating, as he walked, his hermit fare, which, with a glass of water on his return, was the only dinner he took. When he had returned to the printing-office, he generally remained there until the men left work, and then repaired to Mr. Aikin's house, to go through with him any sheets which might have been composed during the day; or, if there were nothing upon which he wished to consult him, he would either spend an hour with some friend, or return to his own lodgings, where he took his tea or coffee in lieu of supper, and at his usual hour retired to bed.'

In April 1777 appeared the work which had cost him so much labor. Its title was, 'The State of the Prisons in England and Wales, with Preliminary Observations, and an Account of some Foreign Prisons. By John Howard, F.R.S.' Although the work was very bulky, consisting of 520 quarto pages, with four large plates, yet 'so zealous was he,' says Dr Aikin, 'to diffuse information, and so determined to obviate any idea that he meant to repay his expenses by the profitable trade of book-making, that he insisted on fixing the price of the volume so low, that, had every copy been sold, he would still have presented the public with all the plates and great part of the printing.' Besides, he distributed copies profusely among all persons who possessed, or might possibly possess, influence in carrying his benevolent views into effect. 'As soon as the book appeared,' continues Dr. Aikin, the world was astonished at the mass of valuable materials accumulated by a private unaided individual, through a course of prodigious labor, and at the constant hazard of life, in consequence of the infectious diseases prevalent in the scenes of his inquiries. The cool good sense and moderation of his narrative, contrasted with that enthusiastic ardor which must have impelled him to the undertaking, were not less admired; and he was immediately regarded as ono of the extraordinary characters of the age, and as a leader in all plans of meliorating the condition of that wreched part of the community for whom he interested himself.'

To give an idea of the extent of the evils of the prison system in the time of Howard, and of the thorough manner in which these were taken cognizance of by him, we will present our readers with an abridgment of the introductory section of his work, in which, before passing to his special report on the state of the various prisons which he had visited, he gives a summary, or 'General View of Distress in Prisons.' The extracts will be found not only interesting in their connexion with Howard's life, but also interesting in themselves.

There are prisons,' he begins, 'into which whoever looks will, at first sight of the people confined, be convinced that there is some great error in the management of them; their sallow, meagre countenances declare, without words, that they are very miserable. Many who went in healthy, are in a few months changed to emaciated, dejected objects. Some are seen pining under diseases, 'sick and in prison, expiring on the floors, in loathsome cells, of pestilential fevers and confluent small-pox; victims, I must not say to the cruelty, but I will say to the inattention, of sheriffs and gentlemen in the commission of the peace. The cause of this distress is, that many prisons are scantily supplied, and some almost totally destitute, of the necessaries of life.

'Food. - There are several bridewells in which prisoners have no allowance of food at all. In some, the keeper farms what little is allowed them; and where he engages to supply each prisoner with one or two pennyworths of bread a-day, I have known this shrunk to half, sometimes less than half the quantity - out of, or broken from, his own loaf. It will perhaps be asked - Does not their work maintain them? The answer to that question, though true, will hardly be believed. There are few bridewells in which any work is done, or can be done. The prisoners have neither tools nor materials of any kind, but spend their time in sloth, profaneness, and debauchery, to a degree which, in some of those houses that I have seen, is extremely shocking. The same complaint - want of food - is to be found in many county jails. In above half of these debtors have no bread, although it is granted to the highwayman, the housebreaker, and the murderer; and medical assistance, which is provided for the latter, is withheld from the former. In many of these jails, debtors who would work are not permitted to have any tools, lest they should furnish felons with them for escape, or other mischief. I have often seen these prisoners eating their water-soup (bread boiled in mere water), and heard them say, 'We are locked up, and almost starved to death.' As to the relief provided for debtors by the benevolent act 32d of George II, I did not find in all England and Wales, except in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, twelve debtors who had obtained from their creditors the fourpence a-day to which they had a right by that act. The truth is, some debtors are the most pitiable objects in our jails. To their wanting necessary food, I must add not only the demands of jailers, etc., for fees, but also the extortion of bailiffs. These detain in their houses (properly enough denominated spunging-houses), at an enormous expense, prisoners who have money. I know there is a legal provision against this oppressions but the mode of obtaining redress is attended with difficulty, and the abuse continues. The rapine of these extortioners needs some more effectual and easy check no bailiff should be suffered to keep a public-house. . . . Felons have in some jails two pennyworth of bread a-day; in some, three halfpennyworth; in some, a pennyworth; in some, none. I often weighed the bread in different prisons, and found the penny loaf seven ounces and a half to eight ounces; the other loaves in proportion. It is probable that, when this allowance was fixed by its value, near double the quantity that the money will now purchase might be bought for it; yet the allowance continues unaltered, and it is not uncommon to see the whole purchase, especially of the smaller sums, eaten at breakfast - which is sometimes the case when they receive their pittance but once in two days; and then on the following day, they must fast. This allowance being so far short of the cravings of nature, and in some prisons lessened by farming to the jailer, many criminals are halfstarved; such of them as at their commitment were in health, come out almost famished, scarcely able to move, and for weeks incapable of labor.

Water. Many prisons have no water. This defect is frequent in bride wells and town jails. In the felon's courts of some county jails there is no water; in some places where there is water, prisoners are always locked up within doors, and have no more than the keeper or his servants think fit to bring them; in one place they were limited to three pints a-day each - a scanty provision for drink and cleanliness.

'Air. - And as to air, my reader will judge of the malignity of that breathed in prisons, when I assure him that my clothes were, in my first journeys, so offensive, that in a postchaise I could not bear the windows drawn up, and was therefore obliged to travel commonly on horseback. The leaves of my memorandum-book were often so tainted, that I could not use it till after spreading it an hour or two before the fire; and even my antidote - a vial of vinegar - has, after using it in a few prisons, be come intolerably disagreeable. I did not wonder that in those journeys, many jailors made excuses, and did not go with me into the felons' wards. From hence any one may judge of the probability there is against the health and life of prisoners crowded in close rooms, cells, and subterranean dungeons for fourteen or fifteen hours out of the four-and-twenty. In some of these caverns the floor is very damp; in others there is an inch or two of water; and the straw, or bedding, is laid on such floors - seldom on barrack bedsteads. Where prisoners are not kept in underground cells, they are often confined to their rooms, because there is no court belonging to the prison - which is the case in many city and town jails; or because the walls round the yard are ruinous, or too low for safety; or because the jailor has the ground for his own use. Some jails have no sewers or vaults; and in those that have, if they be not properly attended to, they are, even to a visitor, offensive beyond description. How noxious, therefore, to people constantly confined in those prisons! One cause why the rooms in some prisons are so close, is the window tax, which the jailors have to pay; this tempts them to stop the windows, and stifle the prisoners.

'Bedding. - In many jails, and in most bridewells, there is no allowance of bedding or straw for prisoners to sleep on; and if by any means they get a little, it is not changed for months together, so that it is offensive, and almost worn to dust. Some lie upon rags, others upon the bare floors. When I have complained of this to the keepers, the justification has been, The county allows no straw; the prisoners have none but at my cost.

'Morals. - I have now to complain of what is pernicious to the morals of prisoners; and that is, the confining all sorts of prisoners together - debtors and felons, men and women, the young beginner and the old offender; and with all these, in some counties, such as are guilty of misdemeanors only. In some jails you see - and who can see it without sorrow? - boys of twelve and fourteen eagerly listening to the stories told by practised criminals of their adventures, successes, stratagems, and escapes.

'Lunatics - In some few jails are confined idiots and lunatics. These serve for sport to idle visitants at assizes, and at other times of general resort. Many of the bridewells are crowded and offensive, because the rooms which were designed for prisoners are occupied by the insane. When these are not kept separate they disturb and terrify the other prisoners.

Jail Fever. - I am ready to think that none who have given credit to what is contained in the foregoing pages, will wonder at the havoc made by the jail fever. From my own observations in 1773, 1774, and 1775, I was fully convinced that many more prisoners were destroyed by it than were put to death by all the public executions in the kingdom.* This frequent effect of confinement in prison seems generally understood, and shows how full of emphatical meaning is the curse of a severe creditor, who pronounces his debtor's doom to rot in jail. I believe I have learnt the full import of this sentence from the vast numbers who, to my certain knowledge, and some of them before my eyes, have perished by the jail fever. But the mischief is not confined to prisons. In Baker's Chronicle, p. 353, that historian, mentioning the assize held in Oxford in 1577 (called, from its fatal consequences, the Black Assize), informs us that all who were present died within forty hours - the lord chief baron, the sheriff, and about three hundred more ' - all being infected by the prisoners who were brought into court. Lord Bacon observes, that the most pernicious infection next the plague, is the smell of a jail when the prisoners have been long, and close, and nastily kept; whereof,' he says, we have had in our time experience twice or thrice, when both the judges that sat upon the jail, and numbers of those who attended the business, or were present, sickened and died.' At the Lent assize in Taunton, 1730, some prisoners who were brought thither from Ivelchester jail infected the court; and lord chief baron Pengelly, Sir James Sheppard, sergeant, John Pigot, Esq., sheriff, and some hundreds besides, died all of the jail distemper. At Ax minster, a little town in Devonshire, a prisoner discharged from Exeter jail in 1755, infected his family with that disease, of which two of them died; and many others in that town afterwards. The numbers that were carried off by the same malady in London in 1750 - two judges, the lord mayor, one alderman, and many of inferior rank - are well known. It were easy to multiply instances of the mischief; but those which have been mentioned are, I presume, sufficient to show, even if no mercy were due to prisoners, that the jail distemper is a national concern of no small importance.*

Vicious examples. - The general prevalence and spread of wickedness in prisons and abroad by discharged prisoners, will now be as easily accounted for as the propagation of disease. It is often said, a prison pays no debts;' I am sure it may be added, that a prison mends no morals. Sir John Fielding observes, that a criminal discharged, generally by the next session after the execution of his comrades, becomes the head of a gang of his own raising.' And petty offenders who are committed to bridewell for a year or two, and spend that time, not in hard labor, but in idleness and wicked company, or are sent for that time to county jails, generally grow desperate, and come out fitted for the perpetration of any villainy. Half the robberies in and about London are planned in the prisons, and by that dreadful assemblage of criminals, and the number of idle people who visit them. Multitudes of young creatures, committed for some trifling offense, are totally ruined there. I make no scruple to affirm, that if it were the wish and aim of magistrates to effect the destruction, present and future, of young delinquents, they could not devise a more effectual method than to confine them so long in our prisons, those seats and seminaries of idleness and every vice.

These gentlemen who, when they are told of the misery which our prisoners suffer, content themselves with saying, " let them take care to keep out," prefaced perhaps with an angry prayer, seem not duly sensible of the favor of Providence which distinguishes them from the sufferers. They do not remember that we are required to imitate our gracious Heavenly Parent, who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil; they also forget the vicissitudes of human affairs; the unexpected changes to which all men are liable; and that those whose circumstances are. affluent, may in time be reduced to indigence, and become debtors and prisoners. As to criminality, it is possible that a man who has often shuddered at hearing the account of a murder, may, on a sudden temptation, commit that very crime. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall, and commiserate those that are fallen.'

* Of the famous Black Assize at Oxford, mentioned in the text as an instance of the malignity of the jail fever, the following is the account given by the chronicler Stowe: - The 4th, 5th, and 6th days of July, 1577, were holden the assizes at Oxford, where was arraigned and condemned one Rowland Jenkes for his seditious tongue; at which time there arose such a damp, that almost all were smothered. Very few escaped that were not taken at that instant. The jurors died presently. Shortly after died Sir Robert Bell, lord chief baron; Sir Robert D'Olie, Sir William Babington, Mr. Weneman, Mr. D'Olie, high sheriff; Mr. Davers, Mr. Harcourt, Mr. Kirle, Mr. Phetplace, etc. There died in Oxford three hundred persons; and sickened there, but died in other places, two hundred and odd, from the 6th of July to the 12th of August, after which day died not one of that sickness, for one of them infected not another, nor any woman or child died thereof.' An occurrence so horrible gave rise of course to much speculation at the time, and various strange explanations were had recourse to, of which the following will serve as a specimen: - `Rowland Jenkes,' says one anonymous writer, ' being imprisoned for treasonable words spoken against the queen, and being a popish recusant, had notwithstanding, during the time of his restraint, liberty sometimes to walk abroad with a keeper; and one day he came to an apothecary and showed him a recipe which he desired him to make up; but the apothecary, upon the view of it, told him that it was a strong and dangerous recipe, and required some time to prepare it, but also asked him to what use he would apply it. He answered, to kill the rats that, since his imprisonment, spoiled his books; so, being satisfied, he promised to make it ready; after a time he cometh to know if it was ready; but the apothecary said the ingredients were so hard to procure, that he had not done it, and so gave him the recipe again, of which he had taken a copy, which mine author had there precisely written down, but did seem so horribly, poisonous, that I cut it forth, lest it might fall into the hands of wicked persons. But after, it seems, he had got it prepared, and against the day of his trial had made a week or wick of it [for so is the word - that is, so fitted, that, like a candle, it might be fired], which, as soon as ever he was condemned, he lighted, having provided himself with a tinder-box and steel to strike fire. And whosoever should know the ingredients of that wick or candle, and the manner of the composition, will easily be persuaded of the virulency and venomous effects of it.' This explanation seems to have been adapted to the public appetite for the wonderful; at all events, being anonymous, it is to be regarded as nothing more than a curiosity. The generally received explanation was, that the disease arose from infection brought into court by the prisoners; and the opinion, sanctioned by lord Bacon, that this infection was a fever bred by the filth of the jail, was but too surely confirmed by subsequent instances of a precisely similar nature.

Such, in an abridged form, is the introductory section of Mr. Howard's work, entitled A General View of Distress in Prisons;' but in order fully to appreciate the enormous extent of his labors, it would be necessary to follow him into the remainder of the work, in which he describes and criticises, one by one, the various prisons, both foreign and British, which he had visited during the preceding four years. It is only in this way that one can gain an adequate conception of the misery and wretchedness of 'the prison system of Great Britain in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

Mr. Howard did not consider that his labors were over when he had published his work on prisons, and laid before the world grievances which had long flourished in society undetected and unknown. In the end of the first edition of his work, he had made a promise that, if the legislature should seriously engage in the reformation of our prisons, he would take a third journey through the Prussian and Austrian dominions, and the free cities of Germany. This,' he says, I accomplished in 1778, and likewise extended my tour through Italy, and revisited some of the countries I had before seen in pursuit of my object.' His observations during this tour he published in a second edition of his work in 1780. Wishing, before the publication of a third edition, to acquire some further knowledge on the subject, he again visited Holland, and some cities in Germany. I visited also,' he says, the capitals of Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and Poland; and, in 1783, some cities in Portugal and Spain, and returned through France, Flanders, and Holland.' The substance of all these travels he threw into a third and final edition of his work on prisons.

Thus, during ten years, had Howard labored incessantly at a single object, allowing no other to interfere with it; traveling almost without intermission from place to place and undergoing innumerable risks. From a table drawn up by one of his biographers, it appears that, between 1773 and 1783, he had traveled on his missions of philanthropy, at home and abroad, upwards of forty thousand miles. Forty thousand miles traveled in ten years! not from mountain to mountain, or from one object of natural beauty to another, but from jail to jail, and bridewell to bridewell - no wonder that Howard, on the retrospect of such a labor fairly accomplished, wrote in his diary, bless God who inclined my mind to such a scheme.'

During his journeys in Great Britain and Ireland, Mr. Howard was usually accompanied by a single servant. He traveled generally on horseback, at the rate of forty miles a-day. He was never,' says his biographer, Dr. Aikin, at a loss for an inn. When in Ireland, or the Highlands of Scotland, he used to stop at one of the poor cabins that stuck up a rag by way of sign, and get a little milk. When he came to the town he was to sleep at, he bespoke a supper, with wine and beer, like another traveler; but made his man attend him, and take it away while he was preparing his bread and milk. He always paid the waiters, postilions, etc., liberally, because he would have no discontent or dispute, nor suffer his spirits to be agitated for such a matter; saying that, in a journey which might cost three or four hundred pounds, fifteen or twenty pounds in addition were not worth thinking about.'

In the spring of 1784 Mr. Howard, now about fifty-seven years of age, retired to his estate of Cardington, intending to spend the remainder of his life in peace and quiet, assisting in his private capacity in furthering those schemes of prison improvement which his disclosures had set on foot. He resumed the mode of life which he had led before commencing his prison inquiries; with this difference, that, being now a distinguished public character, his visitors were more frequent and more numerous than formerly. There was one sad circumstance, however, which embittered the peace of this benevolent man. His only son, who had received his early education at several academies in England, and had been sent in his eighteenth year to the university of Edinburgh, and placed under the care of the venerable and well-known Dr. Blacklock, had unhappily contracted habits of extravagance and dissipation; which, to any parent, and especially to one of Howard's principles, must have caused poignant grief. Already the unfortunate young man had shown symptoms of that malady, brought on by his own imprudent and vicious conduct, which ultimately settled into complete insanity. Of the full extent of this domestic misfortune Mr. Howard was not yet aware.

After nearly two years of repose, interrupted only by the circumstance to which we have alluded, Mr. Howard resolved to quit home OD a new mission of philanthropy, fraught with greater danger than the one he had accomplished so successfully. During his inquiries into the state of prisons, his attention had been often directed to the spread of infectious diseases, and the inadequacy of the means provided for checking the progress of fever, pestilence, etc., whether originating in jails or elsewhere. The subject thus suggested to him occupied much of his thoughts during his leisure at Cardington; and he at length determined to devote the remainder of his life to an inspection of the principal hospitals and lazarettos of Europe, with a view to ascertain their defects, and the possibility of effecting such improvements in them as would in future preserve the populations of Europe from the ravages of that dreadful visitation - the plague.

Towards the end of November 1785, Mr. Howard left England on his new expedition of philanthropy. He proceeded first to France, with a view to inspect the lazaretto at Marseilles; but, owing to the jealousy of the French government, it was with the utmost difficulty he could accomplish his object; indeed he narrowly escaped apprehension and committal to the Bastile. After visiting the hospitals of Genoa, Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence, he next proceeded to Rome. Here he was privately introduced to Pope Pius VI, himself a benevolent man. On this occasion the ceremony of kissing the pope's toe was dispensed with; and at parting, his holiness laid his hand on his visitor's head, saying kindly, I know you Englishmen do not mind these ceremonies, but the blessing of an old man can do you no harm.' From Rome our traveler went to Naples, and thence to Malta, pursuing always, as his single object, a knowledge of the state of the hospitals on his route. Writing from Malta to a friend in England, he says, I have paid two visits to the Grand Master. Every place is flung open to me. I am bound for Zante, Smyrna, and Constantinople. One effect I find during my visits to the lazaretto; namely a heavy headache - a pain across my forehead; but it has always quite left me in an hour after I have come from these places. As I am quite alone, I have need to summon all my courage and resolution.'

After remaining about three weeks at Malta, Mr. Howard set out for Zante. From thence,' he says, 'in a foreign ship I got a passage to Smyrna. Here I boldly visited the hospitals and prisons; but as some accidents happened, a few dying of the plague, several shrunk at me. I came thence to Constantinople, where I now am, about a fortnight ago. As I was in a miserable Turk's boat, I was lucky in a passage of six days and a half. I am sorry to say some die of the plague about us. One is just carried before my window; yet I visit where none of my conductors will accompany me. In some hospitals, as in the lazarettos, and yesterday among the sick slaves, I have a constant headache; but in about an hour after it always leaves me. I lodge at a physician's house, and keep some of my visits a secret.' From Constantinople he returned to Smyrna, where the plague was also raging; his object being to obtain a passage from that port to Venice, in order that he might undergo the full rigors of the quarantine system, and be able to report, from personal observation, respecting the economy of a lazaretto. On the voyage from Smyrna to Venice, the ship in which he sailed was attacked by a Tunis privateer, and all on board ran great risks. At length, after a desperate fight, a cannon loaded with spikes, nails, and old iron, and pointed by Mr. Howard himself, was discharged with such effect upon the corsair vessel, that it was obliged to sheer off. From Venice he writes thus to his confidential servant Thomasson, at Cardington; the letter being dated Venice Lazaretto, October 12, 1786 I am now in an infectious lazaretto, yet my steady spirits never forsook me till yesterday, on the receipt of my letters. Accumulated misfortunes almost sink me. I am sorry, very sorry, on your account. I will hasten home; no time will I lose by night or day. But forty days I have still to be confined here, as our ship had a foul bill of health, the plague being in the place from whence we sailed. Then that very hasty and disagreeable measure that is taken in London wounds me sadly indeed. Never have I returned to my country with such a heavy heart as I now do.' The two circumstances which he alludes to in this extract as distressing him so much, and making him so anxious to leave Venice and return home, were the misconduct of his son, of which he had received further accounts, and a proposal which had just been made in London, and of which intelligence had been conveyed to him, to erect a monument to commemorate the nation's sense of his former philanthropic labors.

The term of his quarantine at Venice being finished, he proceeded to Trieste, and thence to Vienna. How the thoughts of his sad domestic affliction mingled and struggled with his daily exertions in connexion with the great object of his tour, we may learn from the following touching postscript to a letter to Mr. Smith of Bedford, written from Vienna, and dated 17th December 1786 Excuse writing, etc., as wrote early by a poor lamp, What I suffered, I am persuaded I should have disregarded in the lazaretto, as I gained useful information. Venice is the mother of all lazarettos; but oh, my son, my son!' At Vienna Mr. Howard had an interview with the Austrian emperor, who entered into conversation with him on the subject of his tour, discussed with him the state of the prisons and hospitals in his Austrian dominions, and expressed his intention to adopt some of his suggestions for their improvement. The attention shown by the emperor to his distinguished visitor procured him the notice of many of the courtiers; and a characteristic anecdote is told of his interview with the governor of Upper Austria and his lady. The Austrian noble asked Howard, in a somewhat haughty manner, what he thought of the prisons in his government. The worst in all Germany,' said Howard; 'particularly as regards the female prisoners; and I recommend your countess to visit them personally, as the best means of rectifying the abuses in their management.' I! said the astonished countess; I go into prisons! and she rapidly descended the staircase with her husband, as if shocked beyond measure. The philanthropist indignantly followed, and called after her, 6 Madam, remember you are but a woman yourself; and must soon, like the most miserable female in a dungeon, inhabit a little piece of that earth from which both of you sprung.'

Returning home in February 1787, after an absence of fifteen months, Mr. Howard found his unhappy son a confirmed and incurable lunatic. For some time he attempted to keep him in his own house at Cardington, under a mild restraint; at length, however, he yielded to the advice of the medical attendants, and suffered him to be removed to a well conducted asylum at Leicester.

The proposal to erect a memorial to Mr. Howard, was so strenuously resisted by him on his return to England, that it was obliged to be given up. Out of L1533 which had been subscribed for the purpose, about L500 pounds were returned to the donors: the remainder was placed in the stocks - L 200 of it being employed in obtaining the discharge of fifty five poor prisoners in London, a similar sum in the striking of a medal in memory of Howard, and the rest being appropriated, after his death, to the object for which it had been collected. Howard's opposition to the scheme of erecting to him any species of monument, amounted to positive antipathy ' indeed nothing was more remarkable in his character than his dislike to be praised for what he had done. When one gentleman happened to speak to him respecting his services to society in a flattering manner, Howard interrupted him by saying, 'My dear sir, what you call my merit is just my hobby-horse.'

The three years which followed Mr. Howard's return from his first tour through the lazarettos of Europe, were spent by him in a new general inspection of the English, Scotch, and Irish prisons, with a view to ascertain whether any improvements had been effected in them since his former survey; and in the preparation of a work giving an account of his recent continental journey. This work was entitled, 'An Account of the Principal Lazarettos of Europe, with Papers Relative to the Plague; and was published in the year 1789. It contained, in the form of an appendix, additional remarks on the state of British prisons.

In the conclusion of his work on Lazarettos, Howard announced his intention of again quitting England to visit the hospitals of Russia, Turkey and the Eastern countries, in order to gain more accurate and extensive views of the plague. am not insensible,' he says, 'of the dangers that must attend such a journey. Trusting, however, in the protection of that Providence which has hitherto preserved me, I calmly and cheerfully commit myself to the disposal of unerving wisdom.'

Should it please God to cut off my life in the prosecution of this design, let not my conduct be uncandidly imputed to rashness or enthusiasm, but to a serious, deliberate conviction that I am pursuing the path of duty, and to a sincere desire of being made an instrument of more extensive usefulness to my fellow-creatures than could be expected in the narrower circle of a retired life.' With regard to his objects in undertaking this journey, his biographer, Dr. Aikin, observes that he had various conversations with him on the subject; and found rather a wish to have objects of inquiry pointed out to him by others, than any specific views present to his own mind.

On the 4th of July 1789, Mr. Howard, accompanied by a single servant, quitted England on his last philanthropic journey. He passed through Holland, part of Germany, Prusia, and several cities of Russia, examining the state of the hospitals; and about the end of the year had. reached Cherson, a new settlement of the Russian empress at the mouth of the Dnieper. This was destined to be the closing scene of his labors.

Visiting, according to one account, the Russian hospital of the place; according to another, a young lady, whose friends were anxious that he should prescribe for her, as he had done successfully in many similar cases, he caught a malignant fever, which, after an illness of twelve days, carried him off on the 20th of January, 1790, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. On his deathbed he showed the same calm and Christian spirit which had distinguished him through life. To Admiral Priestman, who resided at Cherson, and who visited him during his illness, and endeavored to amuse and cheer him by his remarks, thinking to divert his thoughts, he said, Priestman, you style this a dull conversation, and endeavor to divert my mind from dwelling on death; but I entertain very different sentiments. Death has no terrors to me; it is an event I always look to with cheerfulness, if not with pleasure; and be assured the subject is more grateful than any other. I am well aware that I have but a short time to live; my mode of life has rendered it impossible that I should get rid of this fever. I have no method of lowering my nourishment, and therefore I must die. It is such jolly fellows as you, Priestman, that get over these fevers.' Then alluding to the subject of his funeral, he continued - 'There is a spot near the village of Dauphigny; this would suit me nicely. You know it well, for I have often said that I should like to be buried. there; and I beg of you as you value your old friend, not to suffer any pomp to be used at my funeral; nor any monument, nor monumental inscription whatever, to mark where I am laid; but lay me quietly in the earth, place a sun-dial over my grave, and let me be forgotton.' These directions were in spirit, although not strictly complied with; and on the 25th of January 1790, the body of Howard was buried in the spot which he had chosen near the village of Dauphigny, at a little distance from Cherson.

The authorities and the inhabitants of the place testified their respect for him by attending his remains to the grave. Instead of the sun-dial, a small brick pyramid was erected on the spot. In Cardington church, according to his direction, a plain slip of marble was erected by his wife's tomb, bearing this inscription: John Howard; died at Cherson, in Russian Tartary, January 20th, 1790. Aged 64. Christ is my hope.' A more stately monument was soon afterwards erected to his memory in St. Paul's Cathedral. Howard's son, who never recovered from his malady, died in April 1799, in his thirty-fifth year.