The Story of John Howard the prison-reformer

Material Information

The Story of John Howard the prison-reformer
Series Title:
Stories of noble lives
Added title page title:
Story of John Howard the prison reformer
Added title page title:
John Howard the prison-reformer
Added title page title:
John Howard the prison reformer
Added title page title:
Story of John Howard the philanthropist
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
London (Paternoster Row) ;
New York
T. Nelson and Sons
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
120 p. : ill. ; 17 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Philanthropists -- Biography -- Juvenile literature -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Prison reformers -- Biography -- Juvenile literature -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1879 ( rbgenr )
Biographies -- 1879 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1879
Juvenile literature ( rbgenr )
Biographies ( rbgenr )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )


General Note:
Spine title: Story of John Howard the philanthropist.
General Note:
Imprint also notes publisher's location in Edinburgh.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
024350280 ( ALEPH )
24046697 ( OCLC )
AHP0179 ( NOTIS )


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"An arm of aid to the weak,
A friendly hand to the friendless."



o ntcni s.

I. I rnTODUCTION, ..... .. 7


[11 EXI'Epl NCES OF HIS l1ANHOD, .. .. 13

IV. THE I' ItSON-REFORlMEt, .. .... 3



VII. His LA-T YEARn .... .. 101



E are not to imagine that life was given
to us solely for our individual enjoy-
ment, or even for the performance of
our domestic responsibilities. Each one of us, on
the contrary, has a duty to discharge towards his
fellows; each one of us is bound to remember
that his influence extends beyond his personal
sphere, beyond his family circle, beyond his
neighbourhood; that he is a link in the great
chain of society; and that he possesses no means
of estimating the full measure of the colouring
his thoughts and actions may communicate to
the thoughts and actions of others. The impetus


given to a single stone will hurl an avalanche
down the mountain-side. Drop a pebbik into
the water, and the circle caused by its fall creates
a series of circles, which increase in number and
area until they reach the margin of the pool. A
sound striking the nearest wave of air sets in
motion an atmospheric current which will travel
round the world. And so the influence of the
individual, more or less directly, touches all
humanity; yes, even the unborn races of man-
kind. You impress your neighbour with sym-
pathics and aspirations, which he, in turn, im-
presses upon his neighbour, and this third agent
acts upon a fourth, and the fourth upon a fifth;
until the attempt to calculate the long succession
of effects resulting from apparently so slight a
cause confuses the astonished mind. Life, then,
is a mystery which we share with all who have
been, who are, or who are to come. We cannot
isolate ourselves. It is impossible for us to shut
ourselves apart from our "flesh and blood." We
cannot say that the seed we sow shall never
germinate. And such being the case, it behoves
us ever to keep in mind the solemn obligations of
our position : so to think, so to speak, so to act,
as that our thoughts, and words, and deeds may


all contribute to swell the sum of human happi-
Alas, such a responsibility is very weighty!
It seems almost to exceed our little strength; and
if we would discharge it with any degree of
success, we must be careful that we do our duty,
-neither more nor less than our duty,--in the
state and condition of life in which it has pleased
God to place us. This does not mean that we are
to make no effort to rise. On the contrary, it must
be part of our duty so to do, if opportunity offer;
for opportunities are the gifts of Providence, which
;t were sinful to neglect. But we are to avoid
repining; we are to put aside sordid ambition.
We are to set before ourselves as our life's ideal
the honest discharge of our duty towards God and
towards our neighbours. Ah, how much is im-
plied in these few simple words Patience, and
endurance, and courage, and perseverance, and
industry; faith in the Most High; hopefulness
in the present, and confidence in the future;
strict fulfilment of one's promises, loyal adherence
to one's words, zealous culture of one's capacities;
a keen sense of one's own unworthiness, and a
generous forgiveness of the shortcomings of one's
fellows; love, charity, chivalrous heroism;--we


shall need all these, and more, if we would acquit
ourselves gallantly in the battle of life !
The biographies of great men may assist us in
following up our difficult path with steadfast per-
severance, if we study them aright, and are prompt
to profit by their lessons. There we shall find
that those who have most eagerly obeyed the
voice of duty rank highest in the roll of fame;
that the world gives of its love and gratitude to
the calm enduring spirits who have worked and
struggled as in the eye of God and his holy angels;
while for the slaves of pride and ambition, for the
slaves of idols and false ideals, it does but reserve
a cold applause. Compare the renown of a Watt,
a Galileo, a Locke, a Newton, with the "glory"
which plays about an Alcibiades, an Alexander,
a Charles the Twelfth How pure, how lofty the
former; how trivial, how meretricious the latter !
It is, then, only by faithfully and lovingly doing
our duty that we shall merit and receive the
good-will of our fellow-men. It is thus only we
shall earn the eternal fame which hallows the
memories of a sage like Franklin, a philosopher
like Brewster, a Christian missionary like Xavier,
or a philanthropist like Howard.
It is to the life of the last-named, the life of


John Howard, we purpose to devote the following
pages, convinced that his example cannot be too
frequently put before the minds of youth, and
that it would be difficult to select a more striking
illustration of the true happiness which attends
the zealous and unselfish performance of duty,-
duty which to the mean soul wears so dread an
aspect; but to the patient, humble worker ever
smiles with a heavenly radiance!

Stern Lawgiver yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through thee, are
fresh and strong."
WORDSWORTH, Ode to Duty, s. 6.

--* \. .-L I'



ERY little is known, or, at least, very
little that is accurate, of the early
I years of the great Prison Reformer.
Even the date of his birth is uncertain. But it
would seem to have taken place at Enfield, some
time in the year 1726 or 1727. According to
other authorities, he was born in 1724 or 1725,
at Clapton, Cardington, or Smithfield.
A man's fame, however, does not depend upon
his birthplace; and it is as unnecessary as it would
be hopeless, in the absence of the original bap-
tismal register, to attempt any reconciliation of,
or any too arbitrary choice between, these con-
flicting accounts. As Mr. 1[epworth Dixon re-
minds us, Howard belonged to no sect exclusively,
to no district. His renown cannot be monopolized
by any petty parish. His glories, like his exer-


tions, are confined by no bounds of district or
province; the power of his name and the light
of his example are the common heirlooms of man-
John Howard, the philanthropist's father, having
amassed a considerable fortune as a London trades-
man, had retired from business, and settled him-
self at Clapton, a northern suburb of the metro-
polis, shortly before his son's birth. Thus we
may conjecture that he was somewhat advanced
in years when his son was born. Not much is
known of his character; but he has come down
to us as a pious Protestant Nonconformist, regular
in his habits, pure in his life, unobtrusive in his
manners, and strict in the management of his
If we know little of Howard's father, unfortun-
ately we know still less of his mother. We say
unfortunately, because most men who have at-
tained fame have owed their higher qualities to
their mother, and one would have been glad to
trace her influence on the character and tempera-
ment of her son. It is hinted that she was of
the "Martha" type; a woman troubled and careful
about many things, with all her energies concen-
trated on the performance of her household duties


She had but two children: John, of whom we
are writing, and a daughter, whose birth she did
not long survive. Mr. Howard married a second
time, but had no issue, and his second wife lived
but for a few months.
At a very early age young Howard, who was
of a frail and sickly constitution, was entrusted
to the care of a farmer, named Prole, who lived
at Cardington, near Bedford, and rented a small
estate there of Mr. Howard. Here the future
philanthropist spent his childhood; and here, sub-
sequently, attracted by the happy memories of his
youthful years, he purchased a considerable pro-
perty, and made his principal residence.
In due time he was sent to a Dissenters' school
at Hertford, conducted by Mr. John Worsely.
After spending some years to little profit, he was
removed to a school in London, under Mr. John
Cames, a man of unusual acquirements in litera-
ture, theology, and science. With this tutor he
remained until he was sixteen, but, owing to a
slow intellectual development, or the effects of a
feeble constitution, he made but indifferent pro-
gress in his studies. On leaving school, he would
appear to have possessed little scholastic learning
-little Latin, and less Greek; but he had a fair


acquaintance with English literature, wrote English
passably, and had some command of French. He
was ignorant of even the very elements of science;
but his knowledge of the politics, geography,
history, and condition of foreign countries, was
unusually full. Though not a scholar, he was
evidently well-informed; and the defects of his
education may partly be attributed to the causes
already mentioned, and partly to the circumstance
that his father intended him to follow the same
vocation as himself; a vocation in which an
acquaintance with the ancient classics, however
desirable, is not necessary.
By way of pointing a moral, we may recommend
our young readers to make as good use of their
time as Howard made of his, if they cannot do
better; and to reach quite as high a standard of
knowledge, though they may reasonably attain to
a higher.
We next find Howard bound as an apprentice
to the firm of Newham and Shipley, wholesale
grocers in Watling Street, London. That he
might be carefully initiated into every branch of
the business, and at the same time treated in a
manner becoming his future social position, his
father paid the'unusually large premium of 700.


It is no wonder that he was allowed various indul-
gences not altogether adapted to his status as an
apprentice-such as his own private apartments,
a valet, and a couple of riding horses. And it
is no wonder that, having such indulgences, he
should acquire a decided distaste for business, and
seize the earliest opportunity of freeing himself
from its trammels. His father died on the 9th
of September 1742, dividing his personal property
between his son and daughter, and leaving to the
former, on his attaining his majority, the whole
of his landed estates. He availed himself of his
new fortune to purchase his liberty from Messrs.
Newnham and Shipley, and terminate the contract
into which he had entered with them.
Though he had not reached his majority, his
father's executors, in their well-deserved reliance
on his prudence and discretion, immediately en-
trusted him with a large share of the management
of his property. One of his first duties was to
superintend the repairs of his father's residence
at Clapton. For this purpose he visited it every
other day, and in connection with these visits a
pleasant anecdote is told.
An old man, who had been gardener to the
elder Mr. Howard for many years, and who con-


tinued in that situation until the son let the
house, would often relate, in his old age, as an
instance of his young master's punctuality and
charitableness of disposition, that he never failed
to be at the long buttressed wall, separating the
garden from the high road, exactly as the baker's
cart went by; when he just as regularly pur-
chased a loaf, threw it over the wall, and, enter-
ing the garden, would say good- humouredly,
"Harry, look among the cabbages, and you will
find something for your family."
As soon as he came of age, Howard, desirous
of improving his mind by the study of men and
manners, set out on a tour through France and
Italy. He was absent nearly two years, and
returned to England in 1745,-not only intel-
lectually, but physically benefited. The contem-
plation of the fine memorials of antiquity and the
exquisite works of modern art which embellish
the great and glorious cities of Italy, could not
but enlarge his sympathies and refine his taste;
while the genial climate of Southern Europe re-
cruited his frame and reinvigorated his energies.
He did not fail to use his advantages, we are
told, as an educated man and a man of fortune :
so far as he was able, he visited every gallery
(522) 2

and exhibition of note. Nor was he content
with merely studying the many marvels of skill
and beauty, the masterpieces of painter and
sculptor, which everywhere met his delighted
gaze; so far as his means permitted, he became
a purchaser of them. In this, as in his later
tra\ els on the Continent-except, indeed, in those
philanthropic enterprises which wholly engrossed
his heart and mind, his feelings and his thoughts
-he collected numerous paintings and antiques,
with which he afterwards adorned his favourite
residence at Cardington.

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HOUGH he returned to England in 1745
with his health considerably improved,
he was still so much of an invalid that
the air of the country was necessary to him.
Accordingly, he took lodgings at Stoke Newing-
ton,-then a pleasant village, within easy dis-
tance of the metropolis,-and, entering upon a
strict regimen prescribed by his physicians, de-
voted his leisure to the agreeable task of mental
cultivation. The subjects of his study were the
less abstruse branches of natural philosophy, and
the theory of medicine. An attack of nervous
fever reduced him to a condition of great debility,
but his abstemious diet and quiet living rescued
him from danger. The attention he received dur-
ing his long illness from his landlady, a woman of
cheerful disposition and active habits, so won upon


him, that he asked her to become his wife. As
she was more than double his age, and scarcely
less an invalid than himself, she promptly re-
fused; but he pressed his suit with an urgency
which would not be denied. In 1752 they were
married, and for three years they lived together
very happily. She appears to have been in every
way worthy of the attachment she had inspired,
an attachment founded upon respect rather than
upon love; and on her death, in 1755, Howard
felt her loss so greatly that he abruptly broke up
the establishment he had formed at Stoke New-
ington, and sought consolation in travel.
The tenible earthquake of 1755 had just in-
volved the fair city of Lisbon in ruin, and Howard
determined upon visiting the scene of an event so
unusual and appalling. He embarked on board
the packet Hanover early in 1756, but before she
got clear of the Channel she was captured by a
French privateer-France and England were then
at war-and her crew and passengers, after being
kept without food or water for forty hours, were
thrown into the dungeons of the castle of Brest.
There they were kept for some time longer in the
agonies of hunger and thirst; and when at length
a joint of mutton was churlishly flung into their


midst, they were obliged, for want of a knife, to
tear it in pieces and gnaw it like dogs. His first
insight into the horrors of prison-life as they then
existed,-horrors of which it is almost impossible
for the present generation to conceive an accurate
idea,--is thus described by himself in studiously
simple and unexaggerated language :-
"In the castle at Brest I lay six nights upon
straw; and observing how cruelly my country-
men 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 Dinan;
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 Dinan in one day.
When I came to England, still on parole, I made
known to the commissioners of sick and wounded
seamen the sundry particulars, which gained their
attention and thanks. Remonstrance was made
to the French court; our sailors had redress, and
those that were in the three prisons mentioned
above were brought home in the first cartel ships.*
* Ships carrying a flag of truce, and employed in the exchange of prisoners
The French word cartel strictly means "a challenge."


A lady from Ireland, who married in France, had
bequeathed in trust with the magistrates of St.
Maloes sundry charities, one of which was a penny
a day to every English prisoner of war at Dinan.
This was duly paid, and saved the lives of many
brave and useful men."
On obtaining his freedom Howard returned to
England, and took up his residence on his estate
at Cardington, in Bedfordshire. Here he occupied
himself in works of benevolence, which bore wit-
ness to the natural humanity of his character, the
warmth of his heart, and his breadth of sym-
pathy. The peasantry on his estate were comfort-
ably housed, fairly paid, and provided with con-
stant employment; while, both from his example
and teaching, they learned habits of industry,
order, and frugality to which they had previously
been unaccustomed. No poor man was turned
away from his gate unrelieved. The sufferer was
soothed by words of compassion; the sick recei ved
advice and assistance. Howard, in truth, was all
that a country gentleman should be; his bene-
ficial influence, like the light of the sun, radiated
to every object within its sphere, fertilizing,
brightening, blessing.
On the 2nd of May 1758, he married a second


time. His wife was Henrietta Leeds, a lady of
considerable personal attractions, about his own
age, with a well-cultivated mind, and of sound
religious principles. She heartily co-operated with
him in his earnest endeavours to improve the
condition of the rural population, and won the
affection and respect of all who came into contact
with her.
A pleasing sketch of Howard's life-work at the's
period is given by his friend Dr. Aikin, and it
shows that Howard had mastered the great secret
of a conscientious career: he did thoroughly what-
ever he had to do, and he did the duty which he
found immediately at hand. Some men seem
always in want of an aim, an object. They
wander through life restless and uncertain, com-
plaining that they have not found their right
sphere of labour. But if they were content at first
to take up the work which lay nearest to them,
however inappropriate it might seem, or however
uncongenial they might find it, depend upon it,
reader, the right work would, in due time, pre-
sent itself. There is a place in this world for
everybody, and our motto should be, Everybody
for his place; but, unfortunately, we are apt to
cherish exaggerated notions of our capabilities,


and, yielding to vague dreams and feverish visions,
to seek any and every position but the one which
God has fitted us to fill!
Dr. Aikin defines it to have been the capital
object of Howard's ambition that the poor in his
village should be the most orderly in their man-
ners, the neatest in their persons and habitations,
and possessed of the greatest share of the comforts
cf life, that could be met with in any part of
England. And as it was his disposition, he says,
to carry everything he undertook to the greatest
pitch of perfection, so he spared no pains or ex-
pense to effect his purpose. He began by erect-
ing on his estate a number of neat cottages, to each
of which was annexed a plot of garden-ground.
In this project, according to Dr. Aikin, he was
nobly seconded by his admirable wife. "I re-
member his relating that once, having settled his
accounts at the close of a year, and found a
balance in his favour, he proposed to his wife to
make use of it in a journey to London, or any
other gratification she chose. What a pretty
cottage it would build!" was her answer; and
the money was so employed. We learn, from the
same authority, that the comfortable habitations
thus established on his estates he was careful to


people with the most sober and industrious tenants
he could find, whom he furnished with regular
employment, assisted in sickness and distress, and
whose children he helped to educate. He en-
forced the condition that they should regularly
attend their respective places of worship, and
abstain from immoral and pernicious amusements.
The result was that Cardington, from being one
of the poorest and wretchedest villages in the
kingdom, became a little Eden, an oasis in the
On the 27th of March 1765, Howard's wife
gave birth to a son: four days afterwards she sud-
denly passed away. It has been well said that no
tongue can tell, no pen describe, the misery which
fell upon her bereaved husband. Like many
undemonstrative men, he was capable of profound
affection, and there can be no doubt that he had
accumulated upon her all the treasures of his love.
Heavily, therefore, fell the unexpected blow. The
iron went home to his soul. The sunniest side of life
was thenceforth, to Howard, all black and clouded.
But he submitted to the Divine will with the resig-
nation of a pious heart, and endeavoured to console
himself in his sorrow by scrupulous attention to
the training and education of his only son.


For such a task, however, he was neither fitted
by character nor experience, and he laid too much
stress on the cultivation of the faculties of the
intellect to the neglect of the proper development
of the sympathies of the heart. Howard's system
of management did not answer well, and his son's
later career was a source of infinite sorrow and
disappointment to him.
In 1769, his health failing, he resolved upon
another visit to the Continent. Landing at Calais,
he went through France to Geneva, and thence,
after a residence of a few weeks, proceeded to
Milan. He then went on to Turin, where his
strength was so rapidly restored, that he aban-
doned his intention of wintering in Italy. Some
of the reasons which actuated him in this decision
he has recorded in his diary, and as they are
strongly illustrative of his sincere and unaffected
piety, we transcribe them :-
"TURIN, 1769, November SO.
"Miy return without seeing the southern parts of Italy
was after much deliberation. I feared a misimprovement of
a talent spent for mere curiosity, at the loss of many Sab-
baths; and as many donations must be suspended for my
pleasure, which would have been, as I hope, contrary to the
general conduct of my life, and which, on a retrospective
view on my death-bed, would cause pain as unbecoming a
disciple of Christ, whose mind should be formed in my soul.


These thoughts, with distance from my dear boy, determine
me to check my curiosity. Oh, why should vanity and
folly, pictures and baubles, or even the stupendous moun-
tains, beautiful hills, or rich valleys, which ere long will all
be consumed, engross the thoughts of a candidate for an
everlasting kingdom-a worm ever to crawl on earth, whom
God has raised to the hope of glory, which ere long will be
revealed to them who are washed and sanctified by faith in
the blood of the Divine Redeemer Look forward, O my
soul! how low, how mean, how little is everything but what
has a view to that glorious world of light, life, and love!
The preparation of the heart is of God. Prepare the heart,
0 God, of thy unworthy creature, and unto thee be all the
glory through the boundless ages of eternity !
(Signed) "J. H.

"This night my trembling soul almost longs to take its
flight, to see and know the wonders of redeeming love-join
the triumphant choir-sin and sorrow fled away-God my
Redeemer all in all-oh happy spirits that are safe in
those mansions !"

But before Howard had accomplished more than
half his homeward journey, his enfeebled health
compelled him to return to the warm airs and
sunny skies of the Land of the South. He visited
Florence and Rome, whose mighty ruins moved
him to admiration; Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Leg-
horn, Pisa, and Venice. Thence he crossed the
Alps, and through the romantic scenes of the
Tyrol pushed forward to Munich. After a short
residence in that classical city, he descended the


enchanted and enchanting Rhine to Rotterdam,
where he took ship for England.
In 1771 we find him once more at Cardington,
but suffering still from his various disorders. A
visitor about this time gives us an interesting
glimpse of his home-life:-
He was not disposed to talk much; he sat
but a short time at table, and was in motion dur-
ing the whole day. On the Sabbath he ate little
or no dinner, and spent the interval between
divine services in a private room, alone. He had
prayers in his family every morning and evening.
He was very abstemious, lived chiefly upon vege-
tables, and drank no wine or spirits. He hated
praise; and when his works of benevolence were
once mentioned, he spoke of them slightingly, as
a 'whim of his,' and immediately changed the
Hitherto, as we have seen, Howard, though
doing his duty as a Christian and a country
gentleman, had not fallen in with any special
work fitted to develop the dormant energies of
his character. Had we to close our biography
here, the reader might well inquire, Why was it
written? For Howard so far, notwithstanding
the virtues of his life, has shown himself in no


way superior, we are glad to say, to the great
majority of the "gentlemen of England." But in
1773 an apparently accidental circumstance-
though in the Divine order of events nothing is
really accidental-opened up for him a new
career; opened up to him an enterprise exactly
adapted to the measure of his powers, to his per-
severance, strict sense of duty, and fervent bene-
volence. He was appointed High Sheriff of
Bedfordshire; and looking around him to master
the responsibilities of his high office, he was struck
by the ill condition of the prisons of the county.
Further inquiry led to revelations of the barbari-
ties practised within their walls which shocked
his sensitive nature, and to exposures of illegal
and iniquitous customs, whose existence we now-
a-days are almost unable to realize. As, for in-
stance, in Bedford jail, the two dungeons for felons
were both eleven feet below the surface of the
ground; so that the walls and floors-and on the
latter the wretched inmates slept-were always
damp, and sometimes quite wet. There was but
one courtyard for both sexes. Moreover, a person
imprisoned for debt, after he had arranged with the
creditor who had imprisoned him, could not obtain
his liberty unless he was prepared to pay to jailer


and turnkey a sum of between seventeen and
eighteen shillings. Unless this fee was forth-
coming, he was thrust back into his cell, literally
to rot-for in those days that common but seem-
ingly monstrous expression had "the naked and
terrible significance of truth." The same cruelty
was meted out to persons accused of crime, when
pronounced innocent; so that a poor man, for being
innocent, might suffer a life-long imprisonment!
Add to these considerations the then appalling
severity of our criminal code, and we need not
wonder that, after a further investigation of the
horrors of the prison-world, Howard's generous
spirit inspired him to undertake a new crusade.
In order to fit himself for the work, he visited
most of the jails of England.
At Leicester he found that debtors, whose only
offence, in most cases, was their wretched poverty,
were confined in a damp, dark, underground dun-
geon, with two small holes-the larger not exceed-
ing twelve inches square-to let in air and light.
At Nottingham the jail was built on the slope
of a hill; down about five-and-twenty steps were
three rooms for the accommodation of those who
could pay an extravagant fee. The poorer, and
therefore the more honest, were compelled to


descend another twelve steps into a series of cells
cut in the solid rock for their reception, one of
which only was in use at the time of Howard's visit,
-a cavern 21 feet long, 30 feet broad, and 7 feet
high. Here human beings lingered through the
best part of a lifetime; and here, after a long
and undeserved captivity, they not infrequently
At Lichfield jail the rooms were small and
close; no yard, no straw, no water.
At Gloucester the Castle had but one court for
all classes of prisoners, and one day-room for both
males and females. In the debtors' wards windows
were wholly wanting, a part of the plaster-wall
being broken through to admit the light. The
whole prison had not been whitewashed for years,
and was in great need of repair. Many persons
had died in the preceding year, owing to a fever
engendered, it was believed, by a large dunghill
which stood directly opposite to the stairs leading
into the sleeping-room!
The prison of Salisbury had only one yard,
and no day-room at all, either for felons or debtors.
Immediately outside the prison-gate a large chain
was passed through an iron staple fixed in the
wall, and at either end a debtor, padlocked by


the leg, stood, selling to the passers-by purses,
nets, laces, and other articles of jail manufacture,
as Bunyan had done at Bedford during his long
sufferings for conscience' sake. Another curious
custom prevailed at Salisbury : prisoners, securely
chained together, were sent into the city at Christ-
mas time to beg; one carrying a box for money,
another a basket to receive donations of pro-
For another painful picture let us turn to York
Here the courtyard was small, and without
water, the pump being ingeniously placed just
outside the palisades. Water, consequently, had
to be carried in by the servants of the establish-
ment; a circumstance which explained the unut-
terable squalor and filthiness of the place. When
we remember that means of ventilation were in
those days exceedingly imperfect, we must pro-
nounce a cell 7i long, 61 feet wide, and 81 feet
high, as dangerously small: in fact, each cell con-
tained only about 414 cubic feet of air, or thirty-
six hours' consumption for one individual. More-
over, they were close and dark; air and light
being admitted either through a hole about four
inches by eight, over the door, or through half a


dozen perforations of an inch or so in diameter.
Yet in these horrible dungeons three human indi-
viduals were commonly locked up for the night,
which, in winter, lasted fourteen to sixteen hours.
There could be no wonder, as Dixon says, that
the fell Destroyer was so busy in this jail! For
into these loathsome holes the wretched prisoners
were nightly thrust, with only a damp floor,
barely covered by a thin layer of straw, for their
bed of rest; while a sewer, running through one
of the passages, rendered them still more offensive
and pernicious.
The infirmary for the sick consisted of a single
room; so that when it was occupied by an inmate
of one sex, the sick of the other, should there be
any-as was frequently the case-lingered in
their noisome dens until death relieved them
from their misery.
A case of this kind came under Howard's per-
sonal observation. At the time of his visit a
woman was ill, and, of course, occupied the infir-
mary; a man was afterwards seized with the
"distemper,"-which, at that period, was the per-
manent scourge of every prison in Great Britain,-
but was forced to remain, despite his sufferings,
in his fever-infected dungeon.
(522) 3


Does the reader want any more facts, or is he
convinced that Prison Reform was a work well
worthy of the courage, benevolence, and piety of
John Howard ? Let him accompany us, however,
on a visit to the jail at Ely. The building, to
begin with, was in so ruinous a condition as to
be unfitted for the reception of prisoners; hence,
to insure their safe custody, the wardens chained
them on their backs to the floor, passing over
them several bars of iron, and fastening an iron
collar, covered with spikes, round their necks, as
well as placing a heavy bar of the same metal
over their legs. The keeper received no salary,
but extorted as much as he could from the poor
wretches under his charge; there was no surgeon
to attend upon the sick, no chaplain to minister
to minds diseased. Neither felons nor debtors
received any fixed allowance of food: to the use
of the former a small court-without water, but
with a sewer-was appropriated; the latter had
no free ward, and were even deprived of straw to
lie on.
Sick at heart, yet resolved to do what in him
lay to bring about a reformation of such awful
evils, Howard proceeded on his tour of inspec-
tion, visiting prison after prison. From 'Ely he


went to Norwich, from Norwich to Ipswich, from
Ipswich to Colchester, from Colchester to London.
Next he determined to visit the west of England,
and we find him in succession at Exeter, Launces-
ton, Ilchester, Bristol, Hereford.
His extraordinary exertions, meanwhile, had
attracted the attention of several members of Par-
liament. It was felt that the condition of its
prisons was a scandal and a reproach to the
country. A Committee of Inquiry was appointed,
and Howard was summoned to give evidence
before it. The answers he gave to the questions
put to him were so full, clear, and exact, that a
vote of thanks was accorded to him by the House
of Commons. This was an honour Howard had
never expected to receive; and though he doubt-
lessly felt adequately recompensed for his labours
by the approval of his own conscience, yet so
gratifying a testimony to their usefulness he could
not undervalue; and we may well believe that it
stimulated him to persevere in the good work he
had undertaken. We are none of us insensible,
and, indeed, no rightly constituted mind ever will
be insensible, to the approbation of our fellows;
nor is there anything selfish or improper in the
desire of fame.



B ARLY in 1774, Howard resumed his
enterprise with fresh energy. From
London he travelled north to Durham,
Newcastle, Morpeth, Carlisle; everywhere meeting
with startling evidence of the wretched condition
of the poor prisoner, who fared equally ill
whether he was guilty or innocent, a criminal or
a debtor. Having visited the jails of Westmore-
land and Lancaster, he proceeded to Liverpool
and then to Chester. Chester Castle, the county
jail, he thus describes :-
This castle is the property of the king. The
first room is a hall or chapel. Down eighteen
steps is a small court, which was common to
debtors and felons. It is lately divided; but the
high close pales which separate the two courts,
now so very small, deprive both debtors and


felons of the benefit of fresh air. The former,
in their free-ward, the Pope's kitchen; the latter,
in their day-room, the King's kitchen. Both
these are six steps below the court: near the
former is the condemned room. Under the Pope's
kitchen is a dark room or passage; the descent
to it is by twenty-one steps from the court. No
window; not a breath of fresh air; only two
apertures with grates in the ceiling into the Pope's
kitchen above. On one side of it are six cells
(stalls), each about eight feet by three, with a
barrack bedstead, and an aperture over the door
about eight inches by four. In each of these are
locked up at night sometimes three or four felons.
They pitch these dungeons two or three times
a year: when I was in one of them, I ordered
the door to be shut, and my situation brought to
mind what I had heard of the Black Hole at
On his way homewards the untiring philan-
thropist revisited the prisons at Stafford, Derby,
Nottingham, Northampton, and Leicester. After
enjoying a week's repose at Cardington, he tra-
velled into Kent, and examined the offensive jails
of Canterbury, Maidstone, and Rochester. Again
he appeared in London, and at Clerkenwell found


a condition of things existing which deeply moved
his indignation. At the Fleet he was surprised
by the scandalous neglect of all discipline, and
the shameful violation of all morality.
They also play in the court," he says, at
skittles, mississippi, fives, tennis, and other games;
and not only the prisoners: I saw among them
several butchers and others from the market, who
are admitted here, as at any other public house.
The same may be seen in many other prisons
where the jailer keeps or lets the tap!
Besides the inconvenience of this to prisoners,
the frequenting a prison lessens the dread of being
confined in one. On Monday night there was a
wine club; on Thursday night, a beer club-each
lasting usually till one or two in the morning. I
need not say how much riot these occasion, and
how the sober prisoners, and those that are sick,
are annoyed by them.
Seeing the prison crowded with women and
children, I procured an accurate list of them, and
found that when there were 243 prisoners, their
wives and children were 475."
Scenes not less disgraceful and demoralizing
took place at the Bridewell, the King's Bench,
the Compter: in fact, instead of being places for


the punishment or reformation of criminals, they
were nurseries of vice and dens of iniquity.
Indefatigable in his labours of benevolence and
charity, Howard next directed his steps towards
Wales. Here he visited Flint and Ruthin, Car-
narvon and Dolgelly, Montgomery and Presteign;
and on his return, the prisons of Ludlow, Wor-
cester, and Oxford.
In some of the county jails he observed a
number of poor creatures whose aspect was pecu-
liarly deplorable; and asking the cause of their
wretched appearance, he was told they were
lately brought from the bridewells." The answer
induced him to extend the scope of his inquiries.
He resolved to inspect the bridewells, and for that
purpose travelled over the ground he had already
so carefully explored; examining houses of cor-
rection, and city and town jails, penetrating into
recesses and obscure corners which were seldom
illumined by the light of law or justice. In many
of them, as well as in the county jails, his heart
was deeply grieved by sights of misery; but his
attention was principally fixed by the jail-fever
and small-pox, which carried off hundreds of vic-
tims among debtors as well as felons, the unfor-
tunate as well as the criminal. For to both was


meted out the same measure; and the pauper,
thrown into prison for a debt of a few shillings,
was treated with as much severity as the brutal
outcast accused of robbery or violence or taking
away life. In truth, the latter fared better than
the former; and a Claude Duval or a Jack Shep-
herd or a Dick Turpin, notwithstanding his low
profligacy and many crimes, was feasted and
patronized as if he had achieved something for
the good of his fellows.
Howard inspected the bridewell at Marlborough.
He found all the rooms situated on the ground-
floor, and rendered most offensive, especially the
men's night-room, by a sewer which traversed
the interior of the building. There was no court;
no water accessible to prisoners; no straw. For
petty offenders there was no allowance; but for
felons, two pennyworth of bread a day.
Yet some writers there are who can lament the
" good old times," when such things could be and
not provoke the nation's wonder! Instead of
indulging in sentimental regrets for a past which,
notwithstanding its picturesque externals, was so
full of rottenness and vice within, would it not
be wiser if they did their utmost to enlighten and
improve the present, so that the future may show


as glorious an advance upon it, as it shows upon
the past ? We must not stand still. A great
work has been accomplished since Howard died,
and the world is better, and brighter, and happier
than it was in his day. But progress is the law
of humanity, and we must press forward to the
radiant heights which shine beyond with the light
of love and truth and faith; remembering that
each of us, in his sphere, can effect much towards
the general advancement by adding to the happi-
ness and consulting the welfare of his neighbours.
Stone upon stone; a column here, and a buttress
there; each doing the work that lies close to his
hand; and so the stately structure will rise higher
and higher, day by day, until its topmost towers
touch those eternal heavens to which our hearts
are for ever aspiring !

Howard continued to persevere in his mission
of mercy. He frequently met with a harsh re-
ception, but he was not to be daunted by a
churlish countenance or coarse speech. He went
to Haverfordwest, and Caermarthen, and Usk, and
Berkeley, and Bristol. And let the reader recol-
lect that travelling in 1774 was infinitely more
wearisome and difficult than in 1874, and that


the tour which now seems so agreeable, and which
we accomplish in a few hours, was then protracted
over many days, and attended by inconveniences
of which we can scarcely form a conception. It
is astonishing that Howard's frail constitution
could endure such incessant labour; that his
energies did not give way under the burden he
imposed upon them. He was supported, however,
by the consciousness that he was labouring alike
in the service of God and man; and it may be
said, without irreverence, that when our Maker
finds us a work to do, he invariably finds us the
strength with which to do it.
In the autumn of 1774 his researches were
pushed to Taunton, Bridgewater, Exeter, Bodmin,
Plymouth. Here is his simple but touching
description of the town jail at the last-named
city :-
Two rooms for felons; and a large room
above for debtors. One of the former, the clink,
17 feet by 8, about 5 feet high, with a wicket
in the door 7 inches by 5, to admit light and air.
To this, as I was informed, three men who were
confined near two months under sentence of trans-
portation, came by turns for breath. The door
had not been opened for five weeks, when I with


difficulty entered to see a pale inhabitant. He
had been there ten weeks, under sentence of
transportation; and he said he had much rather
have been hanged than confined in that noisome
cell. No water; no sewer; no court. The
jailers live distant; they are the three sergeants
at mace. Fees, 15s. 10d.; no table. Allowance
to debtors, none but on application; felons, two-
pennyworth of bread a day. No straw."
A week later, and Howard was in Dorsetshire.
Thence he passed into Wiltshire and Hampshire;
and after two months of painful and wearisome
investigation-having traversed fifteen counties,
and inspected about fifty prisons-he returned
to Cardington to enjoy the rest he so greatly
His enthusiastic spirit, however, soon triumphed
over physical fatigue; and before the end of the
year he resumed his enterprise, travelling through
the counties of York, Lancaster, and Warwick.
In 1775 he commenced a tour of prison inspec-
tion in Scotland and Ireland; but if he made, as
he doubtlessly did make, notes of what he saw
during his excursion, they have not been preserved.
It is known, however, that at Glasgow his phil-
anthropic labours were honoured with public re-


cognition, and the freedom of the city was pre-
sented to him.

By this time, as one of his biographers remarks,
Howard had ascertained the condition of the prin-
cipal prisons in Great Britain. He had not only
made himself acquainted with the enormities per-
petrated in many of them, but had observed in
all the most deplorable laxity of discipline. His
own repugnance to the cruelties he had discovered
led him, not unnaturally, though much too san-
guinely, to believe that if made known to the
proper authorities, they would be immediately
put down; and that, when once a reign of mercy
was introduced, the needed sanitary and moral
improvements would quickly be accomplished.
It was a new world, so to speak, in which his
active philanthropy had found a sphere of labour;
and in the course of his investigations had received
ample proof of the general ignorance which pre-
vailed in reference to their subject. He deter-
mined, therefore, to publish the results of his
experience, and to suggest such amendments in
the economy of the prisons as he hoped would
correct its gravest defects. He recollected the
wise adage, however, which tells us that more


haste" is "worse speed;" and desirous of fully
mastering the conditions of his difficult subject,
he resolved, before he published, to ascertain if
any useful facts could be obtained abroad.
On this new, romantic, but glorious crusade, in
which he was both leader and host, general and
army, Howard entered in April 1775. Reaching
Paris, the first place he visited was the gloomy
and terrible Bastile, which, beyond all the prisons
of Europe, perhaps, was rendered gloomy by asso-
ciations of tyranny, suffering, guilt, despair, and
misery. Within its dreadful precincts, however
Howard was not permitted to enter; but he
gained admission to the other prisons of Paris-
the Grand Chatelet, the Petit Chatelet, Fort
L'Eveque, and the Bicetre. He found them
better managed than those of England. However
rigorous the administration of the laws might be,
he thought the great care and attention which
the French paid to their prisons worthy of all
commendation. "All fresh and clean," he wrote;
"no jail distemper, no prisoner ironed; and a
larger bread allowance than in the best of the
English jails.
From Paris Howard proceeded to Brussels, and
from Brussels to Ghent, where he was much im-


pressed by the admirable arrangements of the
Maison de Force. He found much to praise,
also, at Bruges, Rotterdam, the Hague, Amster-
dam. At the last-named city he was surprised
by the small number of prisoners for debt. The
population was 25,000, and yet there were but
eighteen debtors. And why ? Because, he writes,
when one is imprisoned, the creditor must pay
the jailer for his maintenance. Another reason:
The situation was held to be very disgraceful. A
third, and perhaps the principal: The great care
taken to train up the children of the poor, and
indeed of all classes, to habits of industry.
A glimpse of prison-life, as Howard saw it in
the Spinning House at Amsterdam, will probably
interest the reader.
The prison was reserved for the reception of
women only. The visitor found in it a number
of criminals, some of whom had led the most
abandoned lives, sitting in the presence of the
mother, quiet and orderly, at their different sorts
of work. The hours of labour were from six to
twelve, and one to eight. I saw them go," says
Howard, "from work to dinner. The keeper, or
father, as they call him, presided. First, they
sang a psalm; then they went down in order to


a neat dining-room, where they seated themselves
at two tables, and several dishes of boiled barley,
agreeably sweetened, were set before them. The
father struck with a hammer; then, in profound
silence, all stood up, and one of them read, with
propriety, a prayer, about four or five minutes.
They then sat down cheerful; and each filled her
bowl from a large dish which contained enough
for four of them. Then one brought, on a waiter,
slices of bread and butter, and served each pri-
soner. The mother was seated at a desk (where
she had a full view of her family at work) with
a Bible before her."
Here, then, it was evident that the authorities
aimed at something more than the punishment-
namely, the reformation-of the law-breakers.
In Germany the first prison visited by Howard
was at Bremen. Next he repaired to Hamburg,
and thence to Lunenburg, Zell, Hesse-Cassel,
Mannheim, Mentz. At Mentz he found that
most of the flour used in the city was ground at
a mill in the prison-the delinquents working at
it two hours in the morning, and two in the after-
noon. Over the door was carved a waggon, drawn
by two stags, two lions, and two wild boars; and
an inscription explained the device to mean, that


if wild beasts can be tamed to the yoke, we should
not despair of reclaiming men of irregular lives.
The results of Howard's Continental investiga-
tions seem to us very fairly summed up by Mr.
Hepworth Dixon. They are results which are
now recognized in our prison system, and accepted
by every political economist; so frequently do
we find the truths which are slowly comprehended
by one century, regarded as familiar truisms by
the next.
In almost every country of the Continent which
Howard had yet visited, he had found the prisoners
EMPLOYED; and this was the great and all-important
point of contrast with the usage in England. In
fact, hard work was the chief correctional agent
at that time in operation abroad; while in Eng-
land the thing aimed at was not correction, but
confinement. In several foreign cities he found
the criminals toiling and moiling in sight of the
general public. "As their crimes had been ag-
gressions upon society," says Dixon, "so, under
the surveillance of the corporate body which they
had wronged, were they compelled to make atone-
ment for, and compensation by, their labour;
beinz employed in rough, hard, menial work.
For the greater part, they were occupied in clean-


ing the streets, repairing the highways, cutting
stone, and so forth. Nor did the humane and judi-
cious inspector discover that any ill consequences
flowed from these open-day punishments. The
labour so obtained was useful in some degree to
the state. It inured the culprit to habits of un-
ceasing industry; and it had a wholesome effect
upon those classes of the community from whicI
the criminal population springs."
In considering the claims of Howard to be
ranked among the great men whom the world
delights to honour, the reader must not forget
that he was something more than a sentimental
philanthropist, who went from prison to prison,
listening to the tale of sorrow, but did nothing for
its relief. He was an active and practical re-
former, who laboured,; while improving the cir-
cumstances of the prisoner, to convert his prison
discipline into an agency of moral reformation.
Every criminal rescued from the thraldom of vice,
and taught to walk in the paths of honesty and
virtue, is a distinct gain to society; and Howard,
therefore, has a double title to our gratitude as
well as to our admiration.

No sooner had he landed at Dover, on his re-
(522) 4


turn, than he resumed his persevering inquiries
into the condition of the English prisons. They
were rewarded, as usual, by the discovery of some
startling facts. At Chelmsford, divine service
had not been performed for upwards of a year.
The warnings and consolations of the gospel had
thus been withheld from the sinful hearts which
so sorely stood in need of them Happily, how-
ever, his influence was already beginning to make
itself felt. He was clothed with no official au-
thority, but men instinctively recognized the
grandeur of his mission. No good work is ever
done in vain; and the suggestions which he freely
threw out were adopted in many prisons with a
success which proved their wisdom. It was
known, too, that nothing escaped his vigilant eye;
that nothing could overcome his sense of duty;
and that behind him were rapidly marshalling
those irresistible forces of PUBLIC OPINION which
the most powerful sovereigns cannot afford to
defy. So he had the satisfaction of finding that
at Appleby and Norwich, Maidstone and Horsham,
his plans of prison reform had been cordially taken
up, and were being honestly carried out. Even
in the metropolis the power of John Howard the
philanthropist could prevail over vested interests


and official ignorance. Orders had been given for
rebuilding Newgate.
"The builders of old Newgate," says Howard,
" seem to have regarded in their plan nothing but
the single article of keeping prisoners in safe
custody. The rooms and cells were so close as to
be almost the constant seats of disease and sources
of infection, to the destruction of multitudes, not
only in the prison, but abroad. The city had,
therefore, very good reason for their resolution to
build a new jail; but it has some manifest errors.
It is now too late to point out particulars. All I
say is, that, without more than ordinary care, the
prisoners in it will be in great danger of the jail-
The cells built in old Newgate a few years
since, for condemned malefactors, are intended for
the same use at present. I shall, therefore, give
some account of them. There are upon each of
the three floors five cells, all vaulted, near nine
feet high to the crown. In the upper part of
each cell is a window, double-grated, near three
feet by one and a half. The doors are four inches
thick. The strong stone wall is lined all round
each cell with planks, studded with broad-headed
nails. In each cell is a barrack-bedstead. I was


told by those who attended me, that criminals
who had affected an air of boldness during their
trial, and appeared quite unconcerned at the pro-
nouncing of sentence upon them, were struck
with horror, and shed tears, when brought to
these darksome, solitary abodes......I went twice
to prayers there. The few prisoners who were
present seemed attentive; but we were disturbed
by the noise in the court. Surely, they who
will not go to chapel-who are by far the greatest
number-should be locked up in their rooms dur-
ing the time of divine service, and not suffered to
hinder the edification of such as are better dis-
Having completed his examination into the
condition of the metropolitan prisons, and of those
of Kent and Surrey, Howard resolved on another
visit to the Continent, to see if any additional
lessons were to be gained in the way of prison-
reform. He found, however, that the jails of pro-
vincial France were no better than those of pro-
vincial England, notwithstanding the superiority
of the prisons of Paris to those of London. Great
was the contrast in republican Switzerland. There
most of the reforms were in actual operation
which, in England, have been adopted within a


comparatively recent period. The felons were
kept each in his separate cell, that they might not
plot together, or instruct one another in the ways
of evil. None were in irons; and the cells,
though secure, were healthy and lightsome. In
most of them was placed a stove. But in Swit-
zerland, Howard found something better than the
best-ordered prisons-namely, the means to pre-
vent them from being crowded; even the children
of the poorest being provided with a moral and
religious education.
Moreover, the prison-system in Switzerland
was eminently a curative and reformatory one.
A principal object here, writes Howard, is to make
the criminal a better man. This, he adds, should
always be the leading view in every house of
correction; and the earnings of the prisoners
should be only a secondary object. As rational
and immortal beings, we owe this to them; nor
can any criminality of theirs justify our neglect
in this particular.
Howard visited the prison at Bale. His ac-
count of it is interesting. The jail for felons was
in one of the towers. It was empty of prisoners,
but several rooms were ready, and each was pro-
vided with clean straw and blankets. To every


prisoner was allotted a room or cell, in which he
was constantly shut up, except when conducted
to the council-chamber for examination. One of
the strongest cells, about six feet high, was situated
near the great clock. It was entered from the
flat roof by a ladder, which, after the prisoner
had descended, was removed. His daily rations
were thrust in at a side wicket. When Howard
expressed his surprise at the singular strength of
this gloomy oubliette, the jailer told him that, not
the less, a prisoner had recently effected his escape
from it. He was allowed a spoon with which to
take his soup. This he had sharpened, to cut
out a piece from the timber of his room. Then,
by dint of practice, he acquired a knack of bat-
tering at the trap-door when the great clock, by
striking, drowned the noise of his blows; and in
fifteen days he forced all the bolts and fasten-
ings. In attempting to lower himself from the
lofty roof by a rope which he found, the rope
gave way. He fell, and received such severe in-
juries that the surgeon at first pronounced his
recovery impossible. However, his bones were
set. He actually did recover; and he was par-
In Holland, the administration of the prisons


was conducted upon enlightened principles. Con-
victs were not transported, but men were put to
labour in the rasp-houses, and the women in the
spin-houses; the regulating maxim being, "Make
them diligent, and they will be honest." Great
care was taken that moral and religious instruc-
tion should be given to each prisoner, and every
effort was made to reform their manners, for their
own and the public good. The chaplain not only
performed public worship on Sunday, but during
the week privately instructed the members of his
unhappy flock, and carefully catechised them.
Howard ascertained that the result, in numerous
cases, fully proved the wisdom of the system, and
was calculated to fill with joy the heart of every
thoughtful and benevolent man.
Our reformer returned to England profoundly
impressed by the superiority of the Continental
nations in the administration of their prisons and
the treatment of their criminals over his own.
Summing up all he had seen and learned, he was
constrained to say: "When I formerly made the
tour of Europe, I seldom had occasion to envy
foreigners anything I saw with respect to their
situation, their religion, manners, or government.
In my late journeys to view their prisons, I was


sometimes put to the blush for my native country.
The reader will scarcely feel, from my narration,
the same emotions of shame and regret as the
comparisons excited in me on beholding the
difference with my own eyes; but, from the
account I have given him of foreign prisons, he
may judge whether a desire of reforming our own
be visionary-whether idleness, debauchery, dis-
ease, and famine be the necessary, unavoidable
attendants of a prison, or only connected with it
in our own ideas, for want of a more perfect
knowledge and more enlarged views. I hope,
too, he will do me the justice to think that
neither an indiscriminate admiration of everything
foreign, nor a fondness of censuring everything at
home, has influenced me to adopt the language of
"a panegyrist in this part of my work, or that of
"a complainant in the rest."
A few prisons still remained to be seen in
England by our indefatigable enthusiast. And
yet, in the course of three years, he had travelled
no fewer than 13,418 miles, and had pursued
his noble enterprise almost without intermission,
in health and in sickness, unaided by any external
influence, unsupported except by a consciousness
of the purity of his motives. Having made some


brief journeys in various directions, and revisited
the metropolitan prisons, he began to arrange for
publication the vast mass of notes he had collected.
In this laborious task he was assisted by a friend,
the Rev. Mr. Densham; and the chaos having been
reduced into tolerable order, the manuscripts were
submitted to the revision of Dr. Price, a polemical
writer, at one time of considerable repute. Next
they were printed at Warrington, under the super-
intendance of Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Aikin, a surgeon
and a litlerateur-the brother of Mrs. Barbauld;
and, at length, in April 1777, the great work on
" The State of Prisons" was given to the world.
It was eagerly read, and produced an immense
effect. It let in a flood of light upon a dark,
obscure world of which the general public were
wholly ignorant, and yet which reacted in a
hundred different ways upon the social life of the
country. Its revelations were full of pathos; its
anecdotes were enthralling; its descriptions had
all the advantage of novelty. Its pages, in fact,
had the interest of romance, and, at the same
time, the dignity of truth. Such books are not
of frequent occurrence; and when they do appear,
their publication, necessarily, becomes an event to
be remembered and talked about.


Leaving the work for the present, we may
now devote our attention to the personal habits
and mode of life of its author, which will be
found not unworthy of consideration.
The reader cannot fail to have been surprised
that a man by nature so delicate, and even frail,
should have been able to endure such a pro-
tracted labour; to have entered fever-infected
dungeons, to have travelled over half a continent,
to have borne day and night the burden of a
constant mental pressure, and yet to have escaped
unscathed, uninjured! It has been said of him
that he seemed to bear a charmed life, and that
whatsoever the danger into which he ventured,
he came forth in safety. This was owing partly,
we believe, to his faith in his work. It was a
holy work, and he believed in it, and God was
ever about his footsteps. For we shall find that
Heaven blesses and sustains the man who does his
duty, and who by prayer solicits the divine assist-
ance. But it was owing also to his temperance and
regular living. He ate no flesh; drank neither
wine nor spirits; bathed in cold water daily;
was moderate in his meals; eschewed late hours
and night revels; rose early. Thus he strength-
ened a weak constitution, until he could fearlessly


penetrate into dungeons whither even the jailer
and the physician feared to follow him.
From his youth upward, we are told, his diet
had always been of the simplest; and the older he
grew, the more resolute he became in habits of
abstemiousness. Some details of his way of living
while he resided at Warrington, superintending
the production of his great book, have been pre-
served. It was then mid-winter, but he rose at
two o'clock precisely, washed, performed his
devotions, then worked at his papers until seven,
when he breakfasted, and dressed for the day.
At eight o'clock punctually, he repaired to the
printing-office to inspect the progress of his sheets
through the press. He remained until one, when
the compositors went to dinner.
During their absence, he walked to his lodg-
ings, and, putting some bread and dried fruit into
his pocket, sallied forth to enjoy his customary
walk; eating, as he trudged along, his hermit
fare, and drinking therewith a glass of cold water,
begged at some cottager's door. This was his
only dinner.
By the time the printers had returned to their
work, Howard had generally, though not always,
found his way back. Sometimes, however, he


would call upon a friend, and spend an hour or
two in pleasant talk; for he was by no means an
ascetic-the social instincts glowed brightly in
his nature.
He remained at the office until the men left off
work for the day, when he withdrew to Dr.
Aikin's family circle, and spent a quiet evening;
or retired to his lodgings, and after tea and
prayers, betook himself to rest at an early hour.
We commend Howard's example to the imita-
tion of our readers, if they would enjoy through
life that greatest of all earthly blessings,-mens
sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy
body. Not, indeed, that we ask them to follow
strictly in his footsteps-to rise at two, or to
refrain wholly from meat-conditions which in
most cases would be impracticable and injurious.;
but to abide by the two leading principles of his
rule of life-temperance and cleanliness. If a
man wishes to degrade himself to the level of the
brutes, he has only to eat and drink to excess. If
he would always have his mental powers at his
command-his judgment clear, his imagination
vigorous, his capacity for work uninjured--he
must practise moderation; moderation at the table
and in bed, for an excess of sleep is as un-


wholesome as an excess of food. Let him, more-
over, avoid intoxicating liquors. As the old
Greek said, Api-rov xUev vuwp (Water is best)!
These are not trivial matters; they are closely
bound up with our happiness here and hereafter.
For the drunkard shall not enter the kingdom of
heaven; and upon earth his portion is misery,
want, and shame.
In August 1777, Howard was called to London,
suddenly, to attend the death-bed of his only
sister, but arrived too late to take a loving fare-
well of one who had been very dear to him. He
felt the blow keenly, but was too simply and
truthfully pious to waver in his usual feelings
of submission to the will of Heaven, and trustful-
ness that all was ordered for the best.



E have said that Howard's book had
seized upon the attention of the public.
Necessarily, it also attracted the notice
of the legislature, and Parliament began to take
up in a serious spirit the various questions in-
volved in a reform of the prison-system of Eng-
land. A Bill bearing directly upon the subject
was prepared by Sir William Blackstone and Mr.
Eden; but more information being required as to
the system in vogue upon the Continent, Howard
once more resumed his philanthropic enterprise.
In April 1778 he crossed to Holland. But
only a day or two after his arrival at Amsterdam,
while he was walking in the street, a runaway
horse threw him down, and injured him so severely
that he was unable to travel for several days.
As soon as possible he was removed to the Hague,


where his illness developed into fever, which
endangered life, and laid him up for six weeks.
His life-work was not finished, however, and
God restored him to health. As soon as he was
strong enough, he commenced his tour of inspec-
tion and inquiry, visiting the Hague, Rotterdam,
Gonda, Haarlem, Utrecht, Deventer, Middleburgh,
Breda; finding much to admire and little to con-
Continuing instant in well-doing, from Holland
he travelled into Germany. Here the aspect of
affairs was unfavourable, and the condition of the
prisons at Osnaburg and Brunswick seems to
have been in no wise superior to that of the
English prisons. At Berlin, on the contrary,
they were well-ordered, healthy, clean, and under
careful superintendence.
At Vienna most of the prisons secured his
approval, but in the Maison du Bourreau he
found cause for just and severe censure. Here,
in one of the dungeons, he came upon a miserable
object-a prisoner loaded with heavy irons, and
chained to the wall; anguish and misery had
left their traces in clotted tears on his wan and
wasted face. This scene seems to have suggested
the description in Hayley's Ode to Howard:"-

Where, in the dungeon's loathsome shade,
The speechless captive clanks his chain,
With heartless hope to raise that aid
His feeble cries have called in vain:
Thine eye his dumb complaint explores;
Thy voice his parting breath restores;
Thy cares his ghastly visage clear
From death's chill dew, with many a clotted tear,
And to his thankful soul returning life endear."
While at Vienna, Howard was frequently
honoured with invitations to dine at the royal
table, with the ambassadors and nobles of the
queen's court. A signal instance of his courage
and love of truth occurred during his residence
here. One day, while at dinner with Sir. R.
Murray Keith, the English ambassador, the con-
versation turning upon the torture, a German
gentleman of the party observed, that the glory
of abolishing it in his own dominions belonged to
his imperial majesty. "Pardon me," said Howard;
"his imperial majesty has only abolished one species
of torture to establish in its place another more
cruel: for the torture which he abolished lasted,
at the most, a few hours; but that which he has
appointed lasts many weeks-nay, sometimes years.
The poor wretches are plunged into a noisome dun-
geon, as bad as the Black Hole at Calcutta, from
which they are taken out only if they confess
what is laid to their charge."


Hush !" exclaimed the ambassador; your
words will be reported to his majesty."
"What 1" replied Howard, indignantly; "shall
my tongue be tied from speaking truth by any
king or emperor in the world ? I repeat what I
asserted, and maintain its truth."
Deep silence followed, and every one present
admired the intrepid boldness and courageous
veracity of the philanthropist.
From Vienna Howard proceeded to Gratz,
Laubach, and Trieste. At the last-named place
he embarked in a small vessel for Venice, and
for two days and nights was buffeted about the
"stormy Adriatic" by contrary winds.
He entered Italy, as he himself tells us, with
high expectations of considerable information, from
"a careful attention to the prisons and hospitals, in
"a country abounding with charitable institutions
and public edifices. At Venice, the greatest prison
is situated near the ducal palace, and it was one
of the strongest Howard had ever seen. There
were between three and four hundred prisoners,
many of them confined in dark and loathsome
cells for life, executions here being very rare. But
Howard rejoiced to find that even dungeons such
as these were free from jail-fever and epidemic
(522) 5


disease. None of the prisoners were loaded with
chains. The allowance of bread to each weighed
fourteen ounces.
By way of Padua, Ferrara, and Bologna,
Howard repaired to Florence, of whose public
institutions he furnishes the following account:-
"In Florence," he says, "are two prisons. In
the great prison, Palazzo degl' Otto, were only
twenty prisoners. Six of them were in the
secret chambers, which are twenty-one strong
rooms. None of the prisoners were in irons.
They had mattresses to lie on. Their bread was
good. In the torture-chamber there was a machine
for decollation, which prevents that repetition of the
stroke which too often happens when the axe is used.
"In the other prison, Delle Stinche, there are
five doors to pass before you come to the court.
The opening of the first is three feet wide, and
four feet nine inches high, with an inscription
over it: Oportel Misereri.
"The hospital S. Maria Nova was crowded
and too close: though the men's fever-ward was
454 feet long. The women are attended by nuns,
who have a passage under ground from the op-
posite convent. The hospital I most frequently
visited was S. Giovan di Dio. In it there are


five rooms, with single beds for priests. The
bedsteads of all were iron, and the boards of the
hospital were varnished. The great attention of
this order of friars to the sick in every country
does them honour. In the S. Paolo della Con-
valescenza, recovering patients remain four days.
In the almshouse, S. Bonifazio, the wards are all
clean, and show the care of the nuns who attend
on this charity."
From these quotations the reader will be en-
abled to form an idea of the nature of Howard's
work, of the scenes of suffering he was compelled
to witness ; and hence they will be led to do justice
to his lofty sense of duty and exalted benevolence.
He was a man of fortune, with cultivated tastes
and artistic sympathies, who might have enjoyed
at Cardington a life of elegant, if inglorious, case,
surrounding himself with sights and sounds of
beauty. But he had a higher sense of the obliga-
tions which his position imposed upon him. He felt
that it was his duty to do something towards leav-
ing the world better and happier than he found it,
and having undertaken a mission worthy even of
an apostle, he did not fear to encounter suffering,
and physical weariness, and perils by sea and
land, in its zealous fulfilment.


After travelling upwards of 4600 miles, solely
to mitigate the sorrows of a class whom society
generally regards with indifference or contempt,
Howard returned to England in December 1778.
lie hastened to Cardington to meet his son, and
to enjoy a few days of tranquillity and repose
among his friends. His affection for his son was
very deep, and in his company he spent a happy
Christmas. When young Howard returned to
school, the philanthropist resumed his labour of
mercy, commencing a reinspection of the prisons
of England, to ascertain whether any and what
improvements had been effected in their condition
since his last visit. The result of these inquiries
he designed to publish, along with the information
obtained in his Continental tour, in an appendix
to his "State of Prisons."
He first directed his steps to the jails in which
were confined the prisoners captured during the
recent war. Both at Bristol and Plymouth he
was grieved to find that a lack of consideration
was observable in their treatment. He then visited
the new county jail and bridewell at Bristol,
where the improvements he had suggested were
all strictly and honestly carried out, with the
happy result of a wonderful amendment, not


only in the health, but in the morals of their in-
In March 1779, he was at Aylesbury; soon
afterwards, at Oxford; and his biographers trace
him in his benevolent career from city to city
and town to town, indefatigable, resolute, and un-
daunted. From Marlborough he hastened to Dc-
vizes; from Devizes to Portsmouth; from Ports-
mouth to Winchester. Returning home through
Sussex, he was gratified at the reforms which had
been introduced into the county jail at Petworth.
After a few days spent at Cardington, prepar-
ing his new book for the press, he set out on an
eastward tour, and visited, in about a fortnight,
Newport-Pagnell, Northampton, Coventry, Oak-
ham, Leceister, Wymondham, Aylsham, Acle, Nor-
wich, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Lavenham, Clare,
Chelmsford, and Barking; arriving in London on
the 8th of April. How he contrived to accomplish
so much in so short a time, and so thoroughly,
excites our astonishment. It is a remarkable
proof of the power of industry and method.
Our limited space, however, prevents us from
entering into the details of all his perambulations,
east and west, north and south. It will satisfy
the reader, probably, to know that, in the course


of the year 1779, or rather, from the end of
February to the end of November, he traversed
almost every county in England, Ireland, and
Scotland, travelling, to and fro, no fewer than
0990 miles.
His labours, meanwhile, had borne so much
fruit, that an Act of' Parliament had been obtained
for building two penitentiary-houses in Middlesex,
Surrey, Kent, or Essex, to try the great experi-
ment of Home Correctional Discipline.
The Government, as might be supposed, psmed
the prison-reformer first superintendent ot the
undertaking. He was averse to accepting it, but
was overruled by his friend Sir William Black-
stone. He soon felt himself trammelled, how-
ever, by the ties of office; and on the death of Sir
William, which occurred early in 1780, he hastened
to resign it. With his retirement, the project,
which the ministry had never heartily taken up,
was abandoned, and in its stead the Botany Bay
Transportation Scheme was substituted; a scheme
which inflicted a grievous evil on one of our finest
colonies, and whose manifold deficiencies eventu-
ally led to its abandonment.

In May 1781, Howard once more departed for


the Continent. In one of the prisons of Rotter-
dam a number of Englishmen were at the time
confined; a few weeks previously they had under-
gone a public whipping for an ingenious attempt
at escape. To provide themselves with imple-
ments, they had melted their pewter spoons, and
by means of a mixture obtained from a chemist as
a cure for the toothache, hardened the metal suf-
ficiently to enable them to form it into keys. In
all probability their device would have been suc-
cessful, had not their intention been treacherously
revealed by an English Jew who was in the secret,
and who expected his own pardon as a recompense
for his baseness. The dexterous but unfortunate
prisoners were seized and carried to the whipping-
post, where, in sight of their comrades in captivity,
they received a severe flagellation; while the
traitor Jew was released, although he had been
previously sentenced to imprisonment for life for
a very grave offence.
From Rotterdam Howard went to Bremen.
Thence he departed for Denmark and Sweden; and
after visiting their capitals, repaired to St. Peters-
burg. Here he had no sooner taken up his resi-
dence at a hotel than he received a message from
the empress, inviting him to appear at court.


With his customary frankness, but with fitting
courtesy, he declined the honour, informing the
courtier who waited upon him that he had de-
voted himself to the work of visiting the dungeon
of the captive and the residence of the wretched,
not the palaces and courts of kings and czarinas.
His object was to obtain access to the prisons of
St. Petersburg, unfettered by official restrictions,
that he might form an independent judgment
whether the boasted clemency of the Russian
Government was fact or fiction. It was pro-
claimed throughout Europe that capital punish-
ment had been abolished in Russia. Howard,
however, had reason to believe that it was re-
tained in effect if not in name, and that the change
really consisted in substituting a more barbarous
method of execution.
Determined to ascertain the truth, if it were
possible to do so, he adopted the bold expedient of
driving directly to the abode of the executioner.
The man was astonished and alarmed at the sud-
den apparition of a gentleman and a stranger, and
Howard endeavoured to increase his confusion by
assuming a certain haughtiness of tone, mien, and
aspect. Acting as if he had authority to examine
him, he told him that if he answered his questions


truly, he had no cause for apprehension. The
man promised to speak the truth. Can you in-
flict the punishment of the knout so as to occasion
death in a short time ?" Yes, I can," was the
reply.-" In how short a time? In a day or
two."-" Have you ever so inflicted it? I
have."-" What! lately ? Yes; the last man
punished with my hands by the knout died of the
punishment."--"How do you render it thus
fatal ? By one or more strokes on the sides,
which carry off large pieces of flesh."-" Do you
receive orders to inflict the punishment in this
manner? "I do."
It may have been to this last instance of deadly
punishment that Howard refers, as an eye-witness,
under the date of August 10, 1781 :-"I saw
two criminals, a man and a woman, suffer the
punishment of the knout. They were conducted
from prison by about fifteen hussars and ten
foot-soldiers. When they arrived at the place of
punishment, the hussars formed themselves into a
ring round the whipping-post, the drum beat a
minute or two, and then some prayers were read,
the populace taking off their hats. The woman
was taken first; and after being roughly stripped
to the waist, her hands and feet were bound with


cords to a post made for the purpose, a man stand-
ing before the post, and holding the cords to keep
them tight. A servant attended the executioner,
and both were stout men. The servant first marked
his ground, and struck the woman five times on
the back. Every stroke seemed to penetrate deep
into the flesh. But his master, thinking him too
gentle, pushed him aside, took his place, and gave
all the remaining strokes himself, which were evi-
dently more severe. The woman received twenty-
five, and the man sixty. I pressed through the
hussars, and counted the number as they were
chalked on a board; both seemed but just alive,
especially the man, who yet had strength enough to
receive a small donation with some signs of grati-
tude. They were conducted back to prison in a
little waggon. I saw the woman in a very weak
condition some days after, but could not find the
man any more."
The instrument from which the poor wretch
received, too probably, his death-wound, is thus
described among the apparatus of punishment and
torture which the head of the St. Petersburg
police showed to our philanthropic enthusiast.
The knout whip is fastened to a wooden handle a
foot in length, and consists of several thongs about


two feet long twisted together, to the end of which
is fastened a single tough thong of a foot and a
half, tapering towards a point, and capable of be-
ing changed by the executioner when too much
softened by the blood of the criminal. Besides
this terrible scourge, he was shown the axe and
block; the machine formerly used for breaking the
arms and legs; an instrument for splitting the
nostrils of offenders; and other diabolical inven-
tions, of which cruelty, in the name, the dishonoured
name of justice, satisfied its thirst for blood.
It may well be believed, after a recital of these
facts, that in the prisons of Russia Howard found
no suggestions calculated to ameliorate the condi-
tion of those of his own country. On the con-
trary, they were dens of horror, where adults and
children, men and women, the guilty and the unfor-
tunate, were huddled together, in darkness and
misery, without sufficient air, without sufficient
food, loaded with heavy irons, and uncheered by
a single gleam of hope !
During Howard's residence in St. Petersburg,
however, a circumstance occurred which showed
that Russia possessed at least one man capable of
loving humanity, and of appreciating the efforts
made by our philanthropist to mitigate the suffer-


ings of some of his fellow-creatures. A public
society had awarded to a General Bulgartow a gold
medal, in recognition of his generosity in enlarg-
ing certain benevolent institutions, and, more par-
ticularly, in supporting a seminary for the educa-
tion and maintenance of young ladies overtaken
by poverty. When the honour was offered to
him, he replied that his services to mankind
reached his own country only; but there was a
man whose extraordinary benevolence embraced
the whole world; who had already, with infinite
toil and peril, extended his humanity to all
nations, and who alone, therefore, was worthy of
so splendid a distinction Accordingly, he sent
the medal to John Howard.
From St. Petersburg Howard made an excur-
sion to Cronstadt, to visit the galleys; for it is to
be observed that he never depended for his facts on
the reports of others: he saw into everything, and
inquired into everything, for himself. Returning
to the capital, lie was seized with a severe fit of
ague ; but his enthusiasm triumphed over physical
infirmities, and having no time to lose, he started
forthwith on an expedition to Moscow. Nearly
all that we know of this expedition is embodied in
the following letter, dated Moscow, September 7,


1781." It runs thus:-" I am persuaded a line
will not be unacceptable, even from such a vagrant
as I am. I have unremittingly pursued the ob-
ject of my journey; but having looked into no
palaces, nor seen any curiosities, my letters can
afford little entertainment to my friends. I stayed
above three weeks in St. Petersburg. I declined
every honour thatwas offered me; and when pressed
to have a soldier to accompany me (to Moscow), I
declined that also. Yet I fought my way pretty
well ; five hundred miles over bad roads, in less
than five days. I have a strong, yet light and
easy carriage, which I bought for fifty roubles, or
about ten guineas. This city is situated in a fine
plain, totally different from all others. Each
house has a garden, which extends the city eight
or ten miles; so that four and six horses are com-
mon in the streets. I content myself with a pair;
though I think I have driven to-day near twenty
miles to see one prison and one hospital. I am
told sad stories of what I am to suffer from the
cold ; yet I will not leave this city till I have made
repeated visits to the prisons and hospitals, as the
first man in the kingdom assured me that my
book would be translated into Russian. My next
step is for Warsaw, about seven or eight hundred


miles; but every step being homeward, I have
spirit to encounter it, though through the worst
country in Europe. I bless God I am well, with
calm, easy spirits. I had a fit of the ague before
I left St. Petersburg, but I travelled it off, the
nights last week being warm. I thought I could
live where any man did live; but this northern
journey, especially in Sweden, where there was no
fruit, no garden stuff, and only sour bread and
sour milk, I have been pinched. In this city,
however, is every luxury, even pine-apples and
potatoes." *
Traversing Poland and Siberia with much
rapidity, he re-entered Prussia. At Berlin he
was rejoiced to notice that a very considerable im-
provement had been effected in the prisons, and
that the house of correction was clean and health-
ful. The Orphan House was judiciously regulated,
and the children were happy and contented, be-
cause their time was fully employed.
On his way from Berlin to Hanover, an inci-
dent occurred which shows the enthusiastic re-
former's keen hatred of oppression under any guise.
This letter gives a vivid illustration of Howard's unassuming character.
In ill health he had accomplished five hundred miles in five days, animated
by no other motive than a desire to benefit humanity; and yet he writes with
complete unconsciousness that there was anything extraordinary in his con-
duct, anything deserving of praise or honour.


The reader must remember the autocratic char-
acter of Prussian administration, to appreciate the
full significance of the anecdote.
He had come to a very narrow piece of road;
so narrow as to admit of the passage of only one
vehicle at a time; and hence it was enjoined on
all postilions entering at either end to blow their
horns by way of .notice. Howard's postilion did
so; but, after travelling a good distance, they
met one of the king's couriers, who had neglected
the usual precaution. Armed, as he thought, with
all the terror of the State, the courier ordered Mr.
Howard to turn back; but our philanthropist re-
monstrated, explaining that he had complied with
the rule which the other had violated, and in-
sisting that he was therefore at liberty to go for-
ward. The courier, relying on an authority to
which, in Prussia, every knee is accustomed to
bend, indulged in violent menaces and loud ejacu-
lations; but all to no purpose. As neither was
disposed to yield, they sat still a long time in
their respective carriages ; but at length the courier
gave up the point to the sturdy Englishman, who
would on no account "renounce his rights."

In the prison-system of Hanover, Howard found


much to condemn. Obtaining an introduction to
the Duke of York, who was also Prince-bishop
of Osnaburgh," he ventured to address the young
prince in condemnation of the "torture" which
was still inflicted in the episcopal city. The duke
inquired how it was inflicted; but Howard re-
fused to describe it, on the ground that the descrip-
tion would too keenly wound his feelings; but
he implored the prince to direct his ministers to
inquire into the matter, so that the horrid instru-
ment might be abolished. The result of the con-
versation was, that the young duke pledged him-
self to prohibit its use when he came of age.
From Hanover, by way of Holland and the
Austrian Netherlands, our philanthropist returned
once more to England, completing one of the
longest and most interesting tours in which he had
yet been engaged. Arriving in London about the
middle of December, his first care was to accom-
pany his son to Cardington, that they might
enjoy their Christmas holidays together. At this
time he devoted much of his attention to the
future course of young Howard's education. At
first he resolved to send him to Eton, and had
made every necessary preparation for his removal;
but learning that at that institution no efficient


moral or religious supervision could then be ex-
pected, he changed his plans, and finally placed
him under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Walker of
This duty discharged, he commenced, in Jan-
uary 1782, a new series of prison visits through-
out the British Isles, an arduous labour in which
he was engaged, with scarcely a day's inter-
mission, for the entire twelvemonth; concluding it
with an inspection of the Fleet prison, in London,
on the 30th of December.
Our limited space precludes us from dwelling
upon the details of the year's work. Nor, in-
deed, by doing so, should we serve any useful
purpose, for necessarily they would exhibit no
novelty. But it is desirable that we should re-
cord the honour conferred upon Howard during
his tour in Ireland, the degree of Doctor of Civil
Law having been accorded to him by the Uni-
versity of Dublin.
In this year of toil Howard travelled upwards
of eight thousand miles.
Having resolved to visit Spain and Portugal,
the only countries of Europe of whose penal and
charitable institutions he was ignorant, Howard
sailed from Falmouth on the 31st January 1783,
(522) 6


and, after a favourable voyage, landed at Lisbon.
Here he was glad to learn that imprisonment for
debt had been abolished. A charitable society
existed for promoting the release of prisoners who
might be otherwise detained for fees. This op-
portunity for the exercise of his own active bene-
volence was not to be neglected. In the prison
of the Limoiero lay 774 criminals, who were
humanely treated. It contained also a manu-
factory, or reformatory school, in which about
1000 vagrant and deserted children were em-
ployed. In the numerous secret chambers in this
prison, and at the Castle, several prisoners were
rigorously confined. The ecclesiastical prison
contained six priests and three women, committed
"pro salute animarum,"-for the safety of their
souls I Howard failed to obtain admission to the
prison of the Inquisition, reserved for religious
offenders and heretics; but he learned that it con-
tained nineteen vaulted cells, separated by walls
six feet thick, and that some of these were totally
Totally dark! Will the reader endeavour to
realize to himself the meaning of these words-
the unhappy condition of a poor creature, im-
prisoned for conscience' sake, in a narrow dun-


geon, from which the light of day was wholly ex-
cluded !
Quitting Lisbon early in March, Howard visited
the prison at Evora and Elvas, and then, crossing
the Spanish frontier, repaired to Badajoz. Most
of the jails in this celebrated city were spacious
and well-conducted. Then he went to Toledo,
and from Toledo to Madrid, Valladolid, Bruges,
Pampeluna. On his way home he visited Lisle,
Bordeaux, and Paris; Utrecht, Antwerp, Ghent,
and Ostend-arriving in England about the 23rd
of June.
In the middle of August, accompanied by his
son, Howard went to Ireland. After a short in-
terval, he reappeared in London; and later in the
year retired to Warrington, to prepare another
edition of his great work.
A calculation found in a memorandum-book of
this date, shows that in his philanthropic enter-
prises he had travelled no fewer than 42,033
miles. Lest the record should be regarded by
any stranger as indicative of self-esteem, Howard
added :-
To God alone be the praise I do not regret
the loss of many conveniences of life, but bless
God, who inclined my mind to such a scheme."


Here we may fitly introduce the glowing eulo-
gium pronounced by Edmund Burke on the labours
of our illustrious prison-reformer.
"I cannot name this gentleman," he says,
"without remarking that he has done much to
open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has
visited all Europe; not to survey the sumptuous-
ness of palaces or the stateliness of temples; not
to make accurate measurements of the remains of
ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curio-
sities of modern art; not to collect medals or to
collate manuscripts ;-but to dive into the depths
of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hos-
pitals ; to survey the mansions of sorrow and
pain, and to take the gauge and dimensions of
misery, depression, and contempt; to remember
the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit
the forsaken, and compare and collate the dis-
tresses of all men in all countries. His plan is
original, and it is as full of genius as it is of
humanity. It was a voyage of discovery, a cir-
cumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit
of his labour is felt more or less in every country.
I hope he will anticipate his final reward, by
seeing all its effects fully realized in his own.
He will receive, not by retail, but in gross the


reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he
has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of
charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to
merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter."
A strange but authentic anecdote is told in
illustration of Howard's remarkable moral courage,
and the influence he possessed over the minds of
men of the lowest class. During an alarming riot
at the Savoy prison, the prisoners had killed two
of the warders or keepers ; and their fury was
so excessive that no person dared to approach
them, until Howard chivalrously insisted on en-
tering their midst. In vain his friends, in vain
the jailers, sought to dissuade him; he calmly
presented himself, unattended, among two hun-
dred ruffians; and such was the power of his
name, such the personal effect of his tranquil and
benignant manner, that they soon desisted from
their clamour, listened to his gentle admonitions,
represented their grievances, and at last -uli- I'
themselves to be reconducted in quiet to their cells.
"These men knew how he had toiled to improve
their wretched condition, and could appreciate, if
they could not imitate, the nobility of his ex-

.. / .- ; ',.- .' '- j -, *
-.--- 1 .-.Ji. -. .*"-



E must pass over the next two years of
Howard's life-from 1783 to 1785
-with a brief allusion. He spent
them partly at Cardington, partly in London.
They were not altogether happy years, for his
prolonged philanthropic exertions had involved
him in pecuniary difficulties, and he was sorely
troubled by the misconduct of his son, whose pro-
fligate habits had brought about a mental disorder.
His father was compelled to remove him from the
University of Edinburgh, where he had placed
him in 1783, and retire with him to Cardington.
Here, separated from his evil companions, and
treated with wise and considerate affection, he
partially recovered. In the hope he might yet
be trained into a useful member of society, he
was then entrusted to the care of the Rev. .


Robinson of Cambridge, and entered at that uni-
versity as a fellow-commoner of St. John's Col-
lege. This difficulty settled, and his affairs being
to some extent adjusted, through the generous
kindness of his friend Whitbread, Howard felt
himself at liberty to resume that career of active
benevolence to which the best years of his life
had been consecrated; and he resolved, as his
final contribution to the welfare of humanity, to
investigate the condition of the plague hospitals
of Europe. The task was one of infinite personal
danger, for the plague selects its victims indiscri-
minately-from young and old, rich and poor;
all ages, all classes, all constitutions, furnish its
victims-and no man could enter a lazaretto, or
plague hospital, in Howard's days, with any cer-
tainty of escaping the deadly contagion. For the
terrible character of the disease was augmented
by an entire neglect of those sanitary precautions
to which we now-a-days attach, and justly, so
high a value.
Howard, however, was not of the stuff which
quails before considerations of personal peril. He
never counted the cost; enough for him to know
that there was a work to be done, and that it was
a good work. He shrank not from self-sacrifice.


Howard, as we have seen, had mastered the
principles of medical science, and, with the assist-
ance of his friends, Dr. Aikin and Dr. Jebb, he
drew up a list of queries to be addressed to the
physicians or medical officers in charge of the
lazarettos he proposed to visit.
He left England in November 1785. It was
his desire to commence his inquiries at Marseilles,
as one of the principal Mediterranean ports ; but
aware of the jealousy with which the French
watched over their Levantine trade, he foresaw
that he should find some difficulty in gaining
admission to the Marseilles lazaretto. He waited,
therefore, at the Hague, and secured the good
offices of Lord Caermarthen, then Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs. From the Hague, after
"a few days, he went to Utrecht, where he received
"a despatch, informing him that not only had his
request been refused, but a warning given that if
he entered France, on any pretence whatever, lie
would be cast into the Bastile. In these circum-
stances, his friends urged him not to proceed.
But he had resolved upon his course, and feeling
that any report upon lazarettos would be incom-
plete which omitted that of Marseilles, he deter-
mined, at whatever risk, to make the attempt.


By way of Dort, Antwerp, and Brussels, the
intrepid philanthropist proceeded to Paris. To
escape recognition, he withdrew to a small and
obscure inn, having secured a place in the Lyons
diligence, which started on the following morning.
At an early hour he retired to bed, but about
midnight was aroused by a violent knocking
at his room door. On the door being opened,
his servant entered, followed by a man in black
clothes, with a sword at his side, who impera-
tively demanded if his name was Howard.
"Yes," he replied; and what of that ?" Did
you come to Paris in the Brussels diligence, ac-
companied by a man in a black wig ?" To which
Howard answered, that he paid no attention to
such trifles as the colour of men's perukes!
The mysterious visitor then departed. Howard
was not again disturbed; and the next morning
he started for Lyons. He travelled in the
character of an English physician, and was for-
tunate enough to do credit to his part by pre-
scribing, with success, for a lady who fell ill on
the journey.
On his arrival at Lyons he was advised not
to expose himself, and he accordingly continued
his visits to two or three Protestant clergymen.


He was unable, however, to depart without an
inspection of the prisons and hospitals of the
On reaching Marseilles, he repaired to his
friend, the Rev. Mr. Durand, who, immediately
on seeing him, exclaimed: "Mr. Howard, I have
always been delighted to see you until now.
Leave France as quickly as you can; I know
they are searching for you in all directions."
Here he learned that an accident only had pre-
vented his arrest at Paris. It had recently
happened that numerous arrests had been made
on what proved to be very frivolous pretences,
and much odium had thereby been thrown upon
the prefect and government. The prefect, there-
fore, having occasion to leave Paris for the day,
had given orders that no more arrests should be
made until his return. This did not take place
until the evening following Howard's arrival,
and in the interval he had escaped into the
Howard did not follow his friend's advice.
Having got into Marseilles, in spite of the French
Government, he was determined to see its laza-
retto. His resolution conquered every obstacle.
He not only gained admission to the lazaretto,


but secured all the information he required, and
a minute, practical account of its working in
every department.
While tarrying at Marseilles, he heard of an
interesting prisoner in the galleys at Toulon,
and resolved to visit him. He accordingly
dressed himself up as a French exquisite, of the
highest ton; and thus disguised, reached Toulon,
and obtained leave to inspect the convict-hulks.
The following is his account of his interview
with the prisoner:-
"There is but one slave here who now pro-
fesses himself a Protestant, and his name is
Francois Condb. He has been confined in the
galleys two and forty years, for being concerned
with some boys in a quarrel with a gentleman
(who lost his gold-headed cane) in a private
house in Paris. The boys were apprehended;
and this Conde, though only fourteen years of
age, and lame of one arm, was condemned to the
galleys for life. After four or five years he pro-
cured a Bible, and learned by himself to read;
and becoming, through close application to the
Scriptures, convinced that his religion was Anti-
Christian, he publicly renounced it, and declared
and defended his sentiments. Ever since, he has


continued a steady Protestant, humble and
modest, with a character irreproachable and ex-
emplary, respected and esteemed by his officers
and fellow-prisoners. I brought away with me
come musical pipes of his turning and tuning.
He was in the galley appropriated to the aged
and infirm; and these, besides the usual allow-
ance of bread, have an additional allowance from
the king of nine sous per day."
In a small coasting-vessel Howard made his
escape to Nice, and thence he proceeded to
Genoa and Leghorn, at both places visiting the
lazarettos, which were considered the best in
Europe. At Leghorn, the Grand Duke of Tus-
cany invited him to dinner; an honour which
the humble and unassuming Howard respectfully
The hospital at Pisa, which was his next
resting-place, he pronounced an excellent institu-
tion. He was delighted with the elegant appear-
ance of the women's ward, which was furnished
with light iron-grated doors to admit the air
and sunshine freely. They commanded a view
of a beautiful botanic garden, so that the inmates
were not without a source of mental gratirica-


From Pisa, Howard made his way to Florence,
and from Florence to Rome, where, however, he
devoted little time to an examination of its
splendid memorials of antiquity and masterpieces
of art, but kept ever before him his one object,-
the relief of the oppressed and suffering. In the
noble hospital of San Michele he passed two
whole mornings, but found it sadly neglected by
its official superintendents. The favourite insti-
tution of the then Pope was a seminary, or school,
for young women, where the exquisite neatness,
economy, and industry never failed to excite the
visitor's admiration. Howard had an audience
of the Pope, who dispensed with the ceremony
usually exacted from those admitted to his pres-
ence; and on taking leave of the philanthropist,
clasped his hand, and said : I know you English-
men do not value these things; but the blessing
of an old man can do you no harm."
At Naples the unwearied traveller embarked
for Malta, where he arrived on the 30th of
March, after a wild and dangerous voyage. The
vessel was so buffeted and tossed about by a
tremendous storm for hours, that the captain
and crew were afraid she would founder. Malta
was then in the possession of the Knights of St.


John, or Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem; a
chivalric order which, in the olden times, had
done Europe good service by their exploits against
the Turks, but had grievously fallen from their
high estate. The Grand Master afforded Howard
every facility for visiting the prisons and hospi-
tals, but the results of his inspection were not
satisfactory. The former were exceedingly small,
squalid, and ill-regulated, and the punishment
of the torture was still in vogue. The latter
exhibited the same proofs of neglect and in-
difference. "I observed," says Howard, "that
the physician in going his rounds was obliged to
keep his handkerchief to his face; the wards
were all so dirty, as to make it needful to per-
fume them : the use of perfume I always reckon
a proof of inattention to cleanliness and air, and
this inattention struck me here very forcibly.
The number of patients admitted into these hos-
pitals during ,he three weeks I was at Malta,
was above five hundred; they were attended to
by the most ragged, dirty, unfeeling, and in-
human individuals I ever saw. On one of my
visits I found them amusing themselves with
the incoherent exclamations of a delirious and
dying patient. The horses and mules of the


Grand Master, kept in an adjoining building,
were taken much greater care of, and were at-
tended to by a greater number of individuals, all
of whom looked decent and clean. I cannot help
adding, that in the centre of each range of stables
a fountain was constantly running into a stone
basin; but in the hospital, though there was a
place for a fountain, there was no water."
Leaving the confines of Europe, Howard now
set sail for Smyrna, on the coast of Asia Minor,
where he arrived on the 16th of May. After the
usual course of inspection, he was back again to
Europe; and at Constantinople his chivalrous
philanthropy carried him into the plague-infected
hospitals, which even the physicians refused to
approach. Rumours of his medical skill reached
the ears of an officer high in authority in the
Sultan's court, whose daughter was afflicted with
an illness which had baffled all the remedies
known to the Turkish pharmacopoeia. Howard
prescribed for her. She recovered, and the grate-
ful father pressed upon the wonderful English
doctor a purse of 2000 sequins, or about 900.
Howard, however, would accept of no other fee
than a dish of grapes from the officer's garden.
It is needless to say that during his sojourn in


the city of the Bosphorus he was abundantly sup-
plied with these.
A painful illustration of the summary and
sanguinary character of Turkish justice is re-
corded by Howard. The chamberlain who had
supplied the city with bread, was summoned be-
fore the Grand Vizier. On his arrival in great
pomp at the palace, he was asked why the bread
was of so indifferent a quality. The last har-
vest was not a good one," he replied. Ap-
parently satisfied on this point, the Vizier next
inquired, "'Why is the weight short ?" That,"
said the chamberlain, "may occasionally happen
with two or three loaves out of so large a
number;" adding, that greater care should be taken
in the future. He was ordered from the pres-
ence; an executioner was commanded to strike
off his head in the street forthwith, and his body
was exposed to the public view for three days,
with three light loaves beside it, to denote the
crime for which the poor wretch had suffered so
disproportionate a penalty I
We are compelled to pass over the details of
the remainder of Howard's continental tour.
The latter part of it was overclouded by the sad
intelligence which reached him of the renewed


misconduct of his son. Young Howard had again
fallen into evil ways, and broken loose from all
control. On the receipt of your letter," wrote
the unhappy father to Mr. Whitbread, his loyal
and generous friend, "I could hardly lift up my
head. With David I say, '0 my son Absalom, my
son, my son !' and am ever ready to add, Would
to God the raging waves had swallowed me up !
But-I check myself-' Shall I receive good
from the hand of God, and shall I not receive
evil?' Will travelling amuse him? I consent
to do anything. I once thought he was of a soft,
complying temper; I afterwards saw what
grieved me. I have often cautioned him not to
fling away, by his folly and indiscretion, the
probable advantages he enjoyed, but to bend his
mind to some particular study; but, alas! alas!
I shall hasten home."
Howard was also distressed at this time by a
proposal which had been made for the erection of
a statue in his honour. His humility, and deep
sense of his unworthiness, shrank from all public
recognition of his benevolent labours. Probably
no man was ever more indifferent to reputation
or public fame. Applause seems to have been
positively unwelcome to him. He feared lest
(522) 7


the motives which had inspired his unprecedented
exertions in the great cause of humanity should
be misunderstood, and he would appear to have
distrusted himself; to have been afraid lest, all
unwittingly, some mean or selfish feeling should
be mixed up with his large-souled sympathy for
the victims of oppression and cruelty.
We must not wholly omit the romantic ex-
periences which diversified this great and good
man's otherwise monotonous career of philan-
thropic work. Towards the end of 1781 we find
him at Venice, where he visited the hospitals,
galleys, and prisons, and obtained an insight into
the terrible tyranny of the Venetian Government.
We have said "terrible tyranny," and that our
expression is not exaggerated, the following anec-
dote, related by Howard, will show:-
A German merchant happening to be at Venice
on business, supped every night at a small inn,
in company with a few other persons. An officer
of the State Inquisition came to him one evening,
and ordered him to follow whither he led, and to
deliver to him his trunk, after having put his
seal upon it. The merchant asked why he must
do this; but received no answer to his inquiry,
except by the officer putting his hand to his