Publisher Description

This is a historical book. Readers of Charles Dickens must all have remarked the deep and abiding interest he took in that grim accessory to civilization, the prison. He not only went jail hunting whenever opportunity offered, but made a profound study of the rules, practices and abuses of these institutions. Penology was, in fact, one of his hobbies, and some of the most powerful passages in his books are those which have their scene of action laid within the shadow of the gaol. It was this fact which led to the compilation of the papers comprised in the present volume. The writer had been a student of Dickens from the days when the publication of his novels in serial form was a periodical event. When he first visited England, many of the landmarks which the novelist had, in a manner, made historical, were still in existence, but of the principal prisons which figure in his works Newgate was the only one which existed in iv any approximation to its integrity. The Fleet and the King’s Bench were entirely swept away; of the Marshalsea only a few buildings remained, converted to ordinary uses. In this country, however, the two jails which interested him, still remain, with certain changes that do not impair their general conformance to his descriptions. These papers, therefore, consist of personal knowledge, as a voluntary visitor, be it understood, of Newgate. The Tombs in New York, and the Eastern District Penitentiary in Philadelphia, supplemented by references to the records. For the Fleet, Marshalsea, and Kings Bench, the writer is indebted to the chronicles and descriptions of Peter Cunningham, John Timbs, Leigh Hunt, and other ingenious and interesting historians of the London of the early Victorian era. In connection with the paper relating to the Eastern District Penitentiary of Philadelphia, his thanks are due for the assistance and information rendered by Mr. Michael J. Cassidy, the Warden.

Fiction & Literature
October 21
Public Domain
Public Domain

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