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THERE are several Lives of Howard in ex- 
istence, but, with the exception of Dr. 
Stoughton's Howard the Philanthropist, the longer 
and better ones have all been for some years out 
of print ; and Dr. Stoughton's book, full and care- 
ful as it is, is somewhat discursive, and gives more 
space to ecclesiastical matters, which have but 
little to do with Howard, than seems to be 
necessary. Hence there appears to be room for 
another biography which shall tell the main facts 
of the philanthropist's life, and recall his memory 
to the present generation. In preparing it, the 
writer has made full use of Howard's own writ- 
ings, as well as of the early Lives by Aikin and 
Brown. Of these Aikin's View of the Character 
and Public Services of the late John Howard (1792) 
is our earliest authority, and has the advantage 
of being written by one of Howard's closest 
personal friends. It is, however, very slight and 
sketchy, and leaves much untold. A far fuller, 


and more thorough work is Brown's Memoirs of 
the Public and Private Life of John Howard the 
Philanthropist, the first edition of which was 
published in 1818. Brown had access to 
Howard's private diary, as well as to a number 
of his letters, and made careful inquiries of his 
relatives, friends, and servants ; but unfortunately 
he was unable to obtain any letters from members 
of the Whitbread family. This necessitated a 
certain incompleteness in his work, and left a 
gap which much needed to be filled up. In spite 
of this, his volume will always remain the great 
storehouse of material for all subsequent workers, 
and will ever be the main authority for Howard's 
life. It needs, however, to be supplemented by 
the Rev. J. Field's Correspondence of John Hoivard 
(1855), in which the philanthropist's letters to 
Mr. and Lady Mary Whitbread were for the first 
time made public. Field had a few years earlier 
published a painstaking Life of Howard, shortly 
after the appearance of which he was informed 
of the existence of this correspondence, and 
happily obtained permission to publish it, thereby 
materially adding to our knowledge of Howard. 
This volume, then, and Brown's Memoir, together 
with Howard's own writings, are the main 
sources from which the present sketch has been 
compiled, although full use has also been made 
of the notices of Howard which appeared shortly 


after his death in the Gentleman's Magazine and 
the Universal Magazine for 1790, as well as of 
Dr. Stoughton's work already referred to. Other 
Lives, such as that by Hepworth Dixon, have been 
consulted, but none of them add materially to 
our knowledge. 

In regard to the illustrations it may be well 
to note that the history of the frontispiece is 
given on p. 190. The " Portrait of the second Mrs. 
Howard " (No. 2) is taken from Brown's Memoir, for 
which the engraving was made from an original 
miniature, which Howard himself gave to his 
faithful servant, Mrs. Prole. The " Scene in Bride- 
well " (No. 3) is, of course, the familiar one from 
Hogarth's " Harlot's Progress." The representa- 
tions of the "Courts of the King's Bench" and the 
"Fleet" (Nos. 4 and 5) are reproduced from Acker- 
man's Microcosm of London. The " Poor Debtor's 
Cell" (No. 6) is from an engraving in the British 
Museum. The next three illustrations (Nos. 7, 
8, and 9) are all taken from Howard's State of 
Prisons. No. 10, "Howard relieving Prisoners," 
is from an old print published in 1791 shortly 
after Howard's death, and the illustration of 
"Howard's Tomb" is taken from the sketch by 
R. Heber in Clarke's Travels, vol. i. p. 573. 

E. C. S. G. 




Howard's Parentage Date and Place of Birth School 
Days Apprenticeship Howard his own Master 
"Look among the Cabbages " Foreign Tour 
Marriage Death of Mrs. Howard 



Changeof Residence Foreign Tour Capture byFrench 
Privateer Experiences in a French Prison 
Howard elected F.R.S. Settles at Cardington 
Second Marriage Anecdotes of Mrs. Howard 
Removal to Watcombe Return to Cardington 
Birth of a Son, and Death of Mrs. Howard 





Life at Cardington A wholesome Despotism Kindly 
Relations with his Tenants Foreign Travel 
Letters from Abroad Ascent of Vesuvius Return 
Home Trouble among the Congregationalists 
Howard's Sundays His Treatment of his Son . 17 



Appointed High Sheriff of Bedford Discoveries as to 
Treatment of Prisoners Practical Efforts to remove 
Hardships A New Career Burke's Panegyric 
Cowper's Lines on Howard Method of Travelling 
Proceedings in Parliament Howard before the 
House of Commons A new Subject of Inquiry 
Howard a Candidate for Parliament Foreign 
Tours Attempts to gain Admission to the Bastile 
Letter from Abroad Further Tours Howard at 
Warrington Publication of The State of Prisons 
Description of the Work 35 





Failure of Earlier Attempts at Prison Reform Abuses 
disclosed by Howard Faulty Construction of 
Buildings Gaol Fever Lack of Discipline Idle- 
ness and Riotous Habits of Prisoners " Garnish " 
Absence of Classification of Prisoners Lack of 
Provision for Sustenance Gaolers Surgeons 
Chaplains State of Prisons in Scotland and 
Ireland 61 



Absence of Gaol Fever in Foreign Prisons Better State 
of Things generally than in England Good Rules 
in Switzerland and Holland Less Drunkenness 
than in England Abuses Horrid Dungeons at 
Vienna The Ducking Stool Torture . . 82 



Death of Howard's Sister Renewed Investigations into 
the State of Prisons The Question of Transporta- 
tion The Hulks Act for the Establishment of 
Penitentiaries ForeignTour Accident atAmster- 
dam Letters from Abroad Visit to a Capuchin 
Convent Return to England Investigation into 



the Condition of Prisoners of War Tour in 
England, Scotland and Ireland Difficulties con- 
cerning the Penitentiaries Howard resigns his 
Office as Commissioner Foreign Travel Letter 
from Moscow Howard and the King's Courier 
Visit to Ireland Travels in Spain The Inquisi- 
tion Letter from Spain Second Edition of The 
State of Prisons published ..... IOI 



Howard's attention turned towards the Plague Sets off 
on a tour to inspect the Lazarettos Adventures in 
France betters from Italy Howard at Malta 
Voyage to Smyrna A Sea-fight Howard in 
Action Quarantine at Venice Bad News from 
England Letters Home Christmas at Vienna 
The Emperor The Countess Return to 
England Visit to Ireland Meeting with John 
Wesley Publication of the Book on Lazarettos . 131 


Howard starts on his Last Journey Its Object Letters 
from Moscow Letters from Cherson Visits to 
Military Hospitals Illness Visit from Admiral 
Priestman Death Funeral Monument at 
Cherson Statue in St. Paul's Cathedral . 166 




Howard's Dislike to have his Portrait taken Devices 
to escape "Snap-shots" Portraits of Howard 
Personal Appearance Mode of Life Humour 
Anecdotes Love of Children Relations with 
his Servants and his Tenants Business-like 
Habits Personal Religion Courage Modesty 
Result of Howard's labours Conclusion . . 187 


1. Portrait of Howard . . . Frontispiece 

2. Portrait of Mrs. Howard ' . to face p. 12 

3. Scene in Bridewell .... to face p. 47 

4. Court of the King's Bench . . to face p. 60 

5. Court of the Fleet .... to face p. 71 

6. Poor Debtor's Cell .... to face p. 74 

7. Employment of Criminals in Switzerland to face p. 87 

8. Employment of Female Criminals in 

Switzerland to face p. 112 

9. Criminal led about in the Spanish Mantle to face p. 119 

10. Howard relieving Prisoners . . to face p. 130 

11. Howard's Tomb .... to face p. 183 

12. Howard's Statue in St. Paul's Cathedral to face p. 186 




Howard's Parentage Date and Place of Birth School Days 
Apprenticeship Howard his own Master "Look 
among the Cabbages " Foreign Tour Marriage 
Death of Mrs. Howard. 

OF the childhood and early life of John 
Howard but few particulars have come 
down to us. His father was a wealthy upholsterer 
in the city of London, residing at one time at 
Enfield, and later on at Clapton ; and the fact that 
he was fined for Sheriff in the year 1742 testifies 
to his prosperous circumstances. His mother's 
name is said to have been Cholmley. According 
to his monument in St. Paul's Cathedral, the in- 
scription for which was written by his kinsman 
Mr. Whitbread, he was born at Hackney on the 2nd 


of September 1 726, and though the statements as 
to place and date have both been questioned, yet, 
if Hackney be understood as including Clapton, 
it is probable that the inscription is correct. 
Howard's own authority may be claimed for the 
statement that he was born at Lower Clapton, " in 
an ancient house which had been many years in 
possession of his father and grandfather"; 1 and 
if he was accurate in informing a friend in 
November 1787 that he was then sixty-one years 
of age, the year of his birth must have been 1726. 2 

1 Dr. Aikin, Howard's personal friend and earliest bio- 
grapher, "believes" that he was born at Enfield, "about 
the year 1727 (Vtnv of the Character and Public Services of John 
Howard, p. 9). Enfield is also given as the place of his birth 
in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1790 (vol. Ix. part I. p. 369); 
and Field, in The Correspondence of John Howard, says : " I have 
been favoured with a copy of the family register, part of 
which is in Howard's own handwriting, and this records 
that he was born at Enfield," p. i. In spite of this, however, 
it is probable that Clapton was really the place. It is given 
in the notice in the Universal Magazine for 1790 (vol. Ixxxvi. 
p. 170), characterised by Howard's friend, the Rev. S. 
Palmer, as "much the best" notice of him that had 
appeared (/'. p. 236) ; and in this particular matter Palmer 
himself was able to corroborate the assertion of the 
biographical notice, by the assurance that he had " more 
than once heard " Howard himself speak of the house at 
Clapton as that in which he was born (#. p. 319). This, 
taken with the evidence of the monument, seems to be 

2 See the Gentleman's Magazine (vol. Ix. part I. p. 287). 
The date 1716 is also confirmed by a paper of directions 


Howard's mother, who had previously borne to 
his father a daughter, died while he was still in 
infancy, and being a delicate child he was sent, for 
the sake of his health, to Cardington, near Bedford, 
where his father owned some property ; and thus 
in very early days began his connection with the 
place which was to be famous as his home in later 
years. As the boy grew, his father, being a strict 
Independent, sent him for his education to a 
dissenting school at Hertford, kept by a Mr. 
Worsley. Beyond the fact that he remained here 
for seven years we know little or nothing of his 
school days. But in after years he certainly felt 
that the choice of the school had not been a 
happy one, for he is reported to have said, with 
more indignation than he usually expressed, that 
he left it "not fully taught any one thing." l On 

which Howard drew up with regard to his burial, in case he 
should die during his Eastern tour to investigate the condition 
of lazarettos in 1786. In this he gives a proposed inscription 
for his monument: "John Howard, died 1786, aged 59. 
Christ is my hope." The paper was sent to Mr. Whitbread 
on Oct. 26, from Venice, but it contains internal evidence 
of having been written early in the year, some months before 
Howard's birthday, and was probably composed in the spring 
at Malta. He contemplates the possibility of dying " either 
here, or at Zante, Smyrna, or Constantinople " ; and as he left 
Malta for Zante and Smyrna towards the end of April it 
must have been written before this, when his age would be 
59, if he was born on Sept. z, 1726. 
1 Aikin's Vieiu, etc., p. 12. 


his removal from Hertford he was placed for a 
time under the care of a Mr. John Eames, a man 
of considerable reputation, and tutor in philosophy 
and languages at a dissenting Academy in London. 
But Howard cannot be said to have been fortunate 
in his education ; and it is evident that in after 
years he felt his deficiencies somewhat acutely. 
Dr. Aikin's statement, that he " was never able 
to speak or write his native language with gram- 
matical correctness," is fully borne out by his own 
letters, the spelling of which is distinctly original ; 
and in preparing his books for publication we 
know that he was glad to avail himself of the help 
of others whose literary attainments were greater 
than his own. " His acquaintance," Aikin adds, 
" with other languages (the French perhaps 
excepted) was slight and superficial." 1 An ex- 
ception must certainly be made as regards French, 
for Howard's own accounts of his travels not only 
supply ample proof of the facility with which he 
could converse in the language, but also show that 
he had no difficulty in actually passing himself 
off as a Frenchman, as occasion required. It is 
probable, however, that his knowledge of this 
and other languages was acquired later, and 
picked up by him in the course of his travels. 
Indeed, it would have been something quite un- 
usual had he left school with anything more 

1 Aikin's Virw, etc., p. 13. 


than a " slight and superficial " acquaintance with 
any modern language besides his own mother 

School days ended, Howard was apprenticed to 
a wholesale grocer in Watling Street ; but on his 
father's death, a few years later, he was left 
practically his own master, and in possession of 
ample means, of which his guardians left him entire 
control on his coining of age, although, accord- 
ing to his father's will, he was not to come into his 
property until the age of twenty-four. Business 
was not to Howard's liking, and accordingly 
before his time was up he bought himself out, 
intending apparently to live a life of ease and 
comfort, with Clapton as his head-quarters. To 
this period belongs the earliest anecdote that has 
come down to us of him, and, slight as the incident 
is, it may be mentioned here as illustrative of the 
kind - heartedness and whimsical humour which 
were characteristic of the man throughout his life. 
Many years later an old gardener, who had been for 
long in the service of the Howards at Clapton, 
used to relate, that during some alterations which 
were being made in the house, his young master 
used to come every other day to superintend the 
work, and that he timed his visits so as to be 
there when the baker's cart was passing, when he 
would purchase a loaf, and, tossing it over the wall 
into the garden, exclaim to the gardener, " Harry, 


look among the cabbages, and you will find some- 
thing for your family." 

To the same period must be assigned the first 
of the numerous foreign tours which Howard was 
to make. The journey in this case, unlike so 
many of his later ones, was undertaken with no 
further object beyond his own interest and enjoy- 
ment, and possibly the benefit of his health. Of 
the details of the tour we know nothing, save the 
fact that he visited France and Italy ; but it was 
perhaps at this time that some of the pictures 
and works of art were purchased which after- 
wards adorned the house at Cardington. 

We now come to the curious story of Howard's 
first marriage. Like his illustrious contemporary, 
Dr. Johnson, he married a woman old enough to 
be his mother ; and, like Richard Hooker, his 
marriage was to some extent due to the discomfort 
of life in lodgings. But whereas in Hooker's case 
the marriage was suggested by the landlady, who, 
after representing that he ought to have some one 
to look after him, presented him with her 
daughter Joan as a suitable wife, in Howard's 
case the suggestion was all his own, and it was 
the landlady herself, and not her daughter, to 
whose charms he succumbed. The facts are these. 
On his return from his travels, Howard, whose 
health was anything but good, was advised to 
move into the country, and settled down in lodg- 


ings at Stoke Newington. He suffered from 
want of proper attention in the rooms which he 
first selected, and presently moved into the house 
of a Mrs. Sarah Loidore, or Lardeau the name is 
given in both forms. Here he was seized with a 
severe illness ; and so grateful was he for the 
attention shown to him by his landlady, that, on 
his recovery, the first thing he did was to offer her 
his hand in marriage. Owing to the disparity of 
their ages, for Mrs. Lardeau was over fifty and 
Howard himself but twenty-four, the lady hesitated 
to accept. But her suitor was persistent, and in 
the end obtained her consent. The marriage,, 
which took place in 1752, turned out better than 
might have been expected. Mrs. Howard is 
represented as a " sensible worthy woman," and 1 
her husband was sincerely attached to her. He 
was, as we have seen, in easy circumstances 
himself, and showed his disinterestedness by 
settling his wife's small fortune upon her sister. 
The union, however, was not destined to be of 
long duration, for Mrs. Howard, who was in weak 
health at the time of the marriage, died towards 
the close of 1755, and Howard was left a widower 
before he was thirty. 



Change of Residence Foreign Tour Capture by French 
Privateer Experiences in a French Prison Howard 
elected F.R.S. Settles at Cardington Second Marriage 
Anecdotes of Mrs. Howard Removal to Watcombe 
Return to Cardington Birth of a Son and Death of 
Mrs. Howard. 

THE death of Mrs. Howard led to the break- 
up of the house at Stoke Newington. 
Howard in characteristic fashion distributed his 
furniture among his dependents and poorer neigh- 
bours, and in after years his old gardener delighted 
to tell how, on this occasion, he received as his 
" dividend " a bedstead and bedding, a table, six 
chairs, and a scythe, in addition to a guinea for a 
single day's work, probably in removing furniture. 
For a time Howard took lodgings in St. Paul's 
Churchyard, but being now free to indulge his 
taste for roving and his desire to see foreign 
countries, it was not long before he started once 
more upon his travels. Shortly before this, there 



had taken place the great earthquake of 1755, 
whereby Lisbon was laid in rums ; an J TTdward", 
moved probably by curiosity rather than any 
philanthropic design of relieving distress, deter- 
mined to visit the scene of the calamity and to 
make a tour in Portugal. He failed, however, to 
reach the country, for the Hanover, the packet in 
which he sailed, was captured by a French 
privateer, and taken into Brest. The account of 
Howard's experiences on this occasion must be 
given in his own words, as he refers to the incident 
in a note in his book on Prisons, in order to illus- 
trate the sufferings of prisoners of war. 

"Before we reached Brest I suffered the 
extremity of thirst, not having for above forty 
hours one drop of water, nor scarcely a morsel of 
food. In the castle at Brest I lay six nights upon 
straw, and observed how cruelly my countrymen 
were used there and at Morlaix, whither I was 
carried next ; during two months I was at Carhaix 
upon parole, I corresponded with the English 
prisoners at Brest, Morlaix, and Dinnan : at the 
last of these towns were several of our ship's crew, 
and my servant. I had sufficient evidence of their 
being treated with such barbarity that many 
hundreds had perished, and that thirty-six were 
buried in a hole at Dinnan in one day. When I 
came to England, still on parole, I made known to 
the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen 


the sundry particulars which gained their atten- 
tion 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." l 

In addition to the account of his sufferings, 
contained in this note, a few details are added by 
Brown. At Brest the prisoners were kept for a 
considerable time without nourishment ; at last 
a joint of mutton was thrown into the filthy 
dungeon, which the prisoners were obliged to tear 
to pieces and gnaw like dogs. At Carhaix, where 
he spent two months on parole, the person at 
whose house he lodged supplied him, though an 
utter stranger, with both clothes and money for 
he had been stripped of his belongings at Brest. 
And when at length he was allowed to return to 
England it was only upon his promise that he 
would once more return to captivity, should the 
English Government refuse to exchange him for a 
French naval officer. 2 

It is curious that at this early period, many years 
before his philanthropic labours began, Howard 
should thus have experienced in his own person 
something of the sufferings which he was to spend 
his later years in alleviating. The incident, how- 
ever, stands by itself, and can hardly be said to 

1 The State of Prisons, p. II. 

2 Brown's Life, p. 19, cf. Universal Magazine for 1790. 


have affected his career. It is true that, in the 
note already referred to, he says that the sufferings 
which he endured on this occasion "perhaps in- 
creased " his " sympathy with the unhappy 
people " whose condition he was then investigat- 
ing. But the fact that seventeen years were 
allowed to elapse before he entered on his philan- 
thropic labours is sufficient proof that these 
sufferings of his were in no sense the moving cause 
of his subsequent efforts for the relief of distress. 

It must have been shortly before, or immediately 
after, the adventure just related that Howard 
was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, on 
May 20, 1756. His scientific attainments do not 
appear to have been anything exceptional. But 
he was interested in meteorology and kindred 
subjects, and his exact mind delighted in close 
observation and the collection of statistics. His 
contributions, however, to the Transactions of the 
Society were neither numerous nor important. 
The earliest appears in the volume for 1764, and 
consists of a short letter " On the Degree of Cold 
observed at Cardington in the Winter of 1763." 
Two others are found in later volumes, " On the 
Heat of the Waters at Bath," and On the Heat 
of the Ground on Mount Vesuvius." 

On his return to England from his captivity 
Howard's first care, as his own words show, was to 
make representations concerning the state of the 


prisoners of war, to the Commissioners for the Sick 
and Wounded Seamen. This done, an exchange 
was effected with a French officer, and as soon as 
he was at liberty he settled down on his estate at 
Cardington, and proceeded to enlarge and improve 
the house, intending to make it his home for life. 
Two years later, in 1758, he married again. The 
lady of his choice was Miss Henrietta Leeds, 
daughter of Edward Leeds, Esq. of Croxton, 
in Cambridgeshire. The marriage was well 
calculated to make Howard a happy man. In- 
deed, in after years, he is said to have frequently 
referred to the few years of his union with his 
wife as the only years of true enjoyment that he 
had ever spent. The tastes of husband and wife 
were similar, and Mrs. Howard delighted to 
second her husband's efforts to improve the con- 
dition of the tenants upon his estate. The few 
stories that are preserved of her indicate great 
gentleness and simplicity of character. Howard 
himself, we are told, used in later years to 
describe how before their marriage he had 
suggested to her that " to prevent all altercations 
about those little matters which he had observed 
to be the chief grounds of uneasiness in families," 
the decision on any question that might arise 
should rest with him. To this the lady seems 
readily to have assented, and, to judge from the 
disposition of the two parties, there is little doubt 

'From the portrait in Brtrwn's Memoir 


that the arrangement was a judicious one, and 
that it proved satisfactory in its working. 

After their marriage Howard is related to have 
taken his wife to some place of public resort in 
London, in order to see what effect it would have 
upon her mind ; and as she appeared to be lost in 
thought, and to show no interest whatever in the 
scene before them, he suddenly turned to her, and 
exclaimed, "Now, Harriet, I must insist on your 
telling me what you have been thinking about/' 
"Well," was her answer, "if I must tell you, I 

have been thinking of Mr. 's sermon last 

Sunday ! " 

One other anecdote has been preserved, telling 
how when Howard, on making up his accounts, 
found that he had an unexpected balance in his 
favour, and suggested to his wife a journey to 
London for their own pleasure, or any other in- 
dulgence she might choose, he received for answer 
the remark, " What a pretty cottage it would 
build." Accordingly, the journey was abandoned, 
and the cottage was forthwith erected. 

It is evident from these stories that the husband 
and wife were well suited to each other ; and, 
what is more important than anything else, they 
were united in religious feeling, although the one 
was a dissenter, and the other a member of the 
Church of England. It has already been men- 
tioned that the elder Howard was a Congrega- 


tionalist. His son had early joined himself to 
the same body, of which he remained an attached 
member to the end of his life. His relations with 
the ministers of the various chapels which he 
attended, whether in London or at Bedford, were 
uniformly cordial, and some of the firmest friend- 
ships of his life were made with them. Mrs. 
Howard was a churchwoman, and, during her life- 
time, Howard seems to have usually accompanied 
her, at least once on Sundays, to the parish church 
(where later on he erected a monument to her 
memory), though he never shrank from acknow- 
ledging himself a dissenter. He was a man of 
Evangelical piety, firmly convinced of the truth of 
the somewhat narrow Calvinistic creed in which 
he had been brought up, but of a large-hearted 
charity, tolerant of others who differed from him, 
and ever ready to unite with any who were in- 
spired with the same spirit of benevolence and 
philanthropy which grew upon him as he gave it 

Soon after the marriage, in consequence of the 
weak state of Mrs. Howard's health, a change of 
residence from Cardington was advised, and 
Howard removed to Watcombe near Lymington, 
in the New Forest, where he purchased an estate. 
The result of the experiment was not satisfactory. 
The place was too damp ; and after three or four 
years the estate was sold, and the Howards 


returned to Cardington. This was to be their 
home for life, and they now set to work in earnest 
in improving the property. Their own house and 
gardens were considerably altered, and it was at 
this time that the root-house, which figures in a 
well-known story of Howard and his son was 
built. This was a favourite resort of Howard's, 
for quiet thought and meditation. He would 
spend hours here, and had it fitted up with a small 
bookcase containing works of a devotional char- 
acter, such as Hervey's Meditations (a favourite 
work among the Evangelicals of the last century), 
and the writings of Flavel and Baxter. Of the 
improvements made on the estate, and of Howard's 
efforts and plans for the good of his tenants, a more 
detailed account is reserved for the next chapter. 
He was now evidently looking forward to spending 
a quiet and retired life, with plenty to occupy him 
in the management of his property, and the pur- 
suit of those scientific studies and observations in 
which he delighted. As he says himself, in the 
earliest letter of his which has been preserved, he 
had his books and instruments comfortably about 
him, and was hoping for more time to enjoy them. 
Ten or a dozen hands were employed on the estate 
in digging and planting under his superintendence; l 
and the only thing that was wanting to complete 
his happiness, the birth of a son and heir, was 

1 See Field's Correspondence of John Howard, p. 14. 


granted to him in the spring of 1765. But his 
happiness was soon dashed to the ground, for four 
days later Mrs. Howard, who till then had seemed 
to be going on well, suddenly passed away in her 
husband's arms. In the family register Howard 
himself has recorded his sad loss as follows : 

"John, my son, was born about four o'clock, 
March 27, 1765. Sabbath evening, March 31, 
1765, died the dear mother. Unaffected piety, 
meekness, and goodness ran through her whole 
life. O God, sanctify the dear memorial ! Thy 
grace imparting the same temper and mind ; that 
we both, by Thine unbounded goodness, in and 
through Jesus Christ, may be followers of her faith 
and patience, and be for ever with the Lord. O 
glorious day ! " l 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Howard, p. 1 8. 



Life at Cardington A wholesome Despotism Kindly Re- 
lations with his Tenants Foreign Travel Letters from 
Abroad Ascent of Vesuvius Return Home Trouble 
among the Congregationalists Howard's Sundays 
His Treatment of his Son. 

AFTER the death of his wife, Howard, whose 
health was not robust, continued to reside 
quietly at Cardington, finding his recreation in 
his meteorological observations, and in registering 
the temperature ; and his serious occupation in 
the improvement of his estate, and earnest 
endeavours to better the condition of his tenants. 
He was a sanitary reformer and an educationalist, 
in days when neither sanitary reform nor educa- 
tion were of much account. 1'he village of 
Cardington lies low, and many of the cottages 
on his estate were damp and unhealthy. 
Accordingly, new and improved ones were 
erected, each with a small garden attached ; and 


these were still let at the original low rent. 
Schools of a somewhat primitive character were 
started, and maintained by his liberality till the 
end of his life. The greatest pains were taken to 
find employment for the tenants ; and stringent 
rules were laid down for their conduct. They 
must avoid the public-house, and eschew all such 
amusements as their landlord disapproved of. 
They must attend public worship either at 
Church or at Chapel ; and in order to facilitate 
matters, one of his own cottages was fitted up 
as a meeting-house, where from time to time 
dissenting ministers would conduct service. 
Whig though he was in politics, Howard was 
a believer in a wholesome despotism ; and in 
order to secure full power to remove any who 
failed to conform to his regulations, he only 
admitted persons to his cottages as tenants 
at will. 

In all his efforts for the benefit of the poor, 
Howard had the warm support of his neighbour, 
Mr. Samuel Whitbread, lord of the manor at 
Cardington, and owner of a considerable property 
there. Mr. Whitbread was a connection of the 
Leeds family, and, through his wife, Howard 
claimed to be his cousin. A close friendship 
sprang up, not only between the two men, but 
also between Howard and Lady Mary Whit- 
bread, a daughter of Lord Cornwallis, who was 


married to his friend in 1769- Happily a con- 
siderable number of his letters to them both 
have been preserved, which materially add to 
our knowledge of his life and character. His 
correspondence with Mr. Whitbread is largely 
concerned with business details, which show the 
happy relations existing between the two 
neighbours, and their earnest solicitude for the 
welfare of their tenants, so that we can easily 
believe the statement of a contemporary, that, 
as the result of their efforts, " Cardington, which 
seemed at one time to contain the abodes of 
poverty and wretchedness, soon became one of 
the neatest villages in the kingdom " ; and the 
following description of Howard's kindly re- 
lations with his tenants is worth citing : 

"He would visit the farmers, his own tenants 
especially, and converse with them in the most 
affable manner. He also visited the poor, sat 
down in their cottages, and generally ate an 
apple while he talked with them. Even the 
schoolboys, whenever they had an opportunity, 
would place themselves in his way ; for he never 
failed to speak kindly to them, and to give each 
of them a halfpenny, if he had enough in his 
pocket to supply them, invariably concluding his 
advice by telling them to be good children, and 
to wash their hands and faces. To the cottagers 
he was also very particular, in requesting them to 


keep their houses clean ; especially recommend- 
ing that the rooms should be swilled, and he had 
sinks made in them for that purpose. He not 
only gave away the milk of his dairy, which was 
not used in his house ; but sent it round to the 
poor, that they might not lose their time in 
coming for it." l 

This quiet life of unassuming benevolence 
lasted for some years, residence at Cardington 
being broken from time to time by visits to 
various watering-places, such as Bath or Bristol 
Hot wells a favourite resort of Howard's and 
by two or three tours abroad, undertaken partly 
for pleasure, and partly for the benefit of his 
health. In 1767 he made a short tour in 
Holland with his brother-in-law, Edward Leeds ; 
and two years later a longer journey was under- 
taken, and the best part of two years was spent 
by him upon the Continent. The course of his 
travels was somewhat erratic. Starting through 
France he visited Geneva, where he spent some 
weeks. From thence he proceeded to Milan and 
Turin, with the intention of spending the winter 
at Rome and Naples. Conscientious scruples, 
however, arose in his mind, which he thus 
records in his journal. 

" My return without seeing the southern parts 
of Italy was after much deliberation. I feared 
1 Brown's Life, p. 107. 


a misimprovement of a talent spent for mere 
curiosity, at the loss of many Sabbaths ; and as 
many donations must be suspended for my 
pleasures, which would have been, as I hope, 
contrary to the general conduct of my life ; and 
which, on a retrospective view on a deathbed, 
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." x 

Influenced by these motives Howard made his 
way back, via Geneva and Paris, to Holland, 
intending to return home. But the state of his 
health was such that a more prolonged absence 
from Cardington seemed desirable. He there- 
fore determined to retrace his steps, and carry 
out his original intention of spending some time 
in Italy. Accordingly, in March 1 770, he returned 
to Paris, and again journeyed south, visiting 
several places in France, and so on to Italy, 
where some time was passed in Florence, Naples, 
and Rome. Thence he made his way during the 
summer to Loretto, Bologna, and Venice, crossed 
the Tyrol into Germany, and, after visiting various 
towns there, came down the Rhine to Holland, 
where we find him at the end of August ready 
to return in a few weeks to England. 

Several letters written during this tour have 

1 Field's Correspondence of John HotvarJ, p. 23. 


been preserved, some to the Rev. Joshua Symonds, 
a Congregationalist minister at Bedford, and a 
close personal friend of Howard, and some to 
Lady Mary Whitbread. These are interesting, as 
showing the bent of Howard's mind at the 
time ; and as specimens of them the following 
seem worth inserting here. Others may be 
found in Brown's Life of Howard and Field's 
Correspondence. " 

John Howard to the Rev. J. Symonds. 

"ABBEVILLE, January ^th, 1770. 

" DEAR SIR, Having an opportunity, by an 
Italian gentleman with whom I have travelled, 
I thought a few lines would not be unacceptable. 
After I landed in France, my first object was 
Geneva, where I spent some time before I went 
into Italy. The luxury and wickedness of the 
inhabitants would ever give a thinking mind 
pain, amidst the richest country, abounding with 
the noblest productions of human power and 
skill. I was seven days re-crossing the Alps. 
The weather was very cold ; the thermometer 
11 below the freezing point. The quick 
descent by sledges on the snow, and other 
particulars, may perhaps afford a little entertain- 
ment some winter's evening. I returned to 
Geneva. There are some exemplary persons; 
yet the principles of one of the vilest men 
(Voltaire) with the corruptions of the French, 
who are within one mile of the city, have greatly 
debased its ancient purity and splendour. I 


spent about ten days at the dirty city of Paris. 
The streets are so narrow, and no footpaths, that 
there is no stirring except in a coach ; and as 
to their hackney carriages, they are abominable. 
There were but few English at Paris. I dined 
with about twenty at our ambassador's (Lord 
Harcourt). I am now on my route to Holland, 
a favourite country of mine ; the only one, except 
our own, where propriety and elegance are mixed. 
Above all, I esteem it for religious liberty. 

"Thus, dear sir, I am travelling from one 
country to another ; and I trust, with some good 
hope, through abundant grace, to a yet better. 
My knowledge of human nature should be 
enlarged by seeing more of the tempers, tastes, 
and dispositions of different people ; but shudder, 
my soul, at the glimpse of a thought of its. 
dignity and excellence for 'how is the gold 
become dross ! ' 

" I bless God I am well. I have a calm and 
easy flow of spirits. I am preserved and 
supported through not a little fatigue. My 
thoughts are often with you on the Sabbath 
day. I always loved my Cardington and Bedford 
friends ; but I think distance makes me love 
them more. But I must conclude, with my 
affectionate remembrance of them ; and my 
arcent wish, desire, and prayer for your success 
in promoting the honour of God, and the love 
of our Divine Redeemer. I am truly, your 
affectionate friend, etc., 



John Howard to Lady Mary Whitbread. 

" ROME, June I$t/i, 1770. 

" MADAM, I have just received a very obliging 
letter, on my return from Naples. When ladies 
condemn we must plead guilty, and hope our 
judges are merciful ; so I enter not on my 
defence. Since I had the pleasure of writing 
to Mr. Whitbread from Genoa, I have visited 
Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence. In those places, 
as indeed both in Rome and Naples, I often see 
paintings of the first and second class, leaving all 
inferior ones. I confess that I had seen nothing 
before I came to Rome. I had often read of the 
Laocoon, the Apollo, the Gladiators, the Pantheon 
and Coliseum, the paintings of Raphael, Titian, 
and Guido, yet the description fell far short, 
as it does also of the magnificence and elegance 
of St. Peter's. To that church and the Vatican 
I go most evenings, the views from the latter 
being inexpressibly fine. The Pope I have often 
seen. The worthy good man dispenses with my 
kneeling. I should tremble to pay that homage 
to any human creature that I have seen paid 
to him. The Pretender passed close by me 
yesterday, and I had a full strong view of him. 
He had the look of a mere sot very stupid, dull, 
and bending double ; quite altered to when I saw 
him twenty years ago in France. 

"The situation of Naples is fine. As I have 
the best cartes, it may afford your ladyship some 
pleasure to see them. I ascended Mount 
Vesuvius ; and when I was up three parts of 


the hill, the earth was, by my thermometer, 
somewhat warmer than the atmosphere. I then 
took the temperature every five minutes till I 
got to the top. The heat was continually in- 
creasing. After I had stood the smoke a quarter 
of an hour I breathed freely ; so with three men 
I descended as far as they would go with me, 
where the earth or brimstone was so heated that, 
in frequent experiments, it raised my ther- 
mometer to 240, which is near 30 hotter 
than boiling water, and in some places it fired 
some paper I put in. As these experiments 
have never before been made, I thought the 
account of them might afford your ladyship 
some entertainment. 

" We begin to have hot weather here, so I 
shall make my pilgrimage in the night to 
Loretto, and from thence to Venice, where I 
shall stay about a fortnight, when I think I 
shall take my route through Germany to my 
favourite country, Holland. When at Rotter- 
dam I shall hope to be favoured with a letter, 
though, I believe, I shall hardly be there till 
the middle or latter end of September, as I 
seldom fix any route or time in any place. 
This uncertainty prevents my hearing so often 
from my friends as I could wish. Permit me 
to say, I am, with much esteem, Your lady- 
ship's obliged and most obedient servant, 


" P.S. My best compliments to Mr. Whit- 


The same to the same. 

" THE HAGUE, August zSf//, 1770. 

" MY LADY, On my arrival last week in 
Holland, I had the pleasure to find a very 
obliging letter from you. I greatly rejoice to 
hear of your own and Mr. Whitbread's health, 
yet I feel some concern for my young friend. 

" I came down the Rhine, and stayed some 
time both at Mentz and Cologne, which were 
not new to me, nor were Aix-la-Chapelle or Spa, 
though the great alterations made me hardly 
recollect that place. It seemed an English 
colony there were four hundred ; but I give the 
preference to many of our own public places, as 
Scarborough, Matlock, Bristol, etc. Indeed in 
Italy, however magnificent the objects, and highly 
elegant the curiosities may be, we in England 
have the solid, the substantial, and important, 
which we ought to value above all the rest. 

" I have been well gratified with foreign 
elegance, and shall sit down at home in peace ; 
as the comfortable, useful, and honourable life 
should be our aim. I am sure I require the most 
favourable allowance of my friends. I intend to 
be in England in about a fortnight; yet permit 
me on this side of the water, to present my 
thanks for the favour of your very kind letters. 
I beg to be remembered to my friend, who need 
not fear growing too fat. In expectation of the 
pleasure of so soon seeing him, I am, my Lady, 
Your ladyship's obliged and obedient servant, 



Howard wrote in good spirits ; but the tour 
does not appear to have been entirely successful 
in removing the depression from which he 
suffered, or in the restoration of his health, for 
we find that his residence at Cardington con- 
tinued to be broken by visits to various watering- 
places. In fact, at this period of his life, it looks 
very much as if he was in danger of thinking too 
much about his health, and of becoming a con- 
firmed valetudinarian, a fate from which he was 
happily saved by the absorbing interest of the 
career of active benevolence on which he was 
so soon to enter. Before, however, passing on 
to describe this, a curious episode, which took 
place soon after his return from his prolonged 
continental tour deserves notice, and something 
must also be said on the much controverted 
question of Howard's treatment of his son. 

There was no Congregational Chapel at 
Cardington, and, when at home, Howard was 
in the habit of spending his Sundays in Bedford, 
where he had fitted up for his convenience a 
small house near the " old meeting-house " where 
he worshipped the same in which John Bunyan 
had once ministered. Of this the Rev. Joshua 
Symonds, mentioned above, was the minister. 
The question of the propriety of Infant Baptism, 
and of the right method of administering the 
sacrament, whether by immersion or affusion, 


was at that time regarded as an open one among 
the Independents or Congregationalists, to whom 
the old meeting-house belonged, and in spite of 
the tradition of Banyan's day the custom there 
had latterly been to administer baptism to 
infants. Consequently, no little excitement was 
caused by the pastor's public announcement, on 
Feb. 9, 1772, that he had changed his views 
on the subject, and could no longer con- 
scientiously practise infant baptism. The con- 
gregation was sharply divided on the question. 
The majority seems to have supported Mr. 
Symonds, but a considerable minority determined 
to secede and form a separate congregation on 
the old lines. In this proceeding Howard took 
a leading part. He interested himself greatly 
in the building of the new meeting-house, not 
only subscribing liberally towards it, but also 
lending without interest a considerable sum that 
was required to meet a deficit. He did not, how- 
ever, allow the secession in any way to interfere 
with his friendly relations with Mr. Symonds, nor 
did he withdraw his subscriptions in aid of his 
work, but continued them to the end of his life. 
While the new meeting-house for the seceders 
was in course of erection temporary premises were 
taken, the services at which were conducted by 
various ministers, and among the number was a 
young man fresh from college, a son of the Rev. 


M. Townsend who had been Howard's pastor in 
the old days at Stoke Newington ; and Brown 
in his Life quotes some recollections of young 
Townsend which give us an interesting picture 
of Howard's Sundays. Townsend found, to his 
pleasure, that he was to be Howard's guest for 
the four Sundays on which he was told off to 
take the duty at Bedford. " He found him not 
disposed to talk much ; and supposed that he 
talked to him less than he would otherwise have 
done, because he was young in years, and almost 
boyish in appearance ; besides, that he sat but 
a short time at table, and was in motion during 
the whole day. On the Sabbath he ate little 
or no dinner, and spent the interval between 
the morning and afternoon service in a private 
room, alone. He had prayer in his family every 
day, morning and evening, and read the Scrip- 
tures himself; but asked his guest to pray. He 
was very abstemious, lived chiefly upon vegetables, 
ate little animal food, and drank no wine or 
spirits. He hated praise ; and when Mr. Town- 
send once mentioned to him his labours of 
benevolence, he spoke of them slightingly, as 
a whim of his, and immediately changed the 
subject." l 

The first minister appointed to the new 
meeting-house was one Thomas Smith, with 
1 Brown's Life, p. 115. 


whom Howard formed one of the closest friend- 
ships of his life. During his foreign tour he 
was his frequent correspondent, and when at 
home the two friends were constantly together. 
Mr. Smith's daughter has left on record that 
her father used to say that his intercourse with 
Howard gave him some of the most delightful 
hours of his life. " Mr. Howard would then 
completely unbend himself, and give the most 
interesting accounts of his past travels ; open to 
him all his future plans, all his trials and sorrows 
in short, every feeling of his heart, in the most 
free and confidential manner." The two men 
used to take long rides together in the mornings, 
and Howard delighted to keep his friend out 
so long that he would be too late for his early 
dinner, when he would say to him, " I find, my 
friend, that you can fast as long as I can ; but 
now you must go to Cardington and spend the 
day with me, as Mrs. Smith will have dined 
long before this time." l 

It will be remembered that, on his wife's death, 
Howard was left with the care of a little boy 
only a few days old. The story of the poor 
child's life is an unhappy one, and as Howard's 
treatment of his son has been made the subject 
of some controversy it cannot be altogether 

1 Stoughton's John Ho-ward, p. 85. 


passed over here. There is no doubt that his 

ideas on education were peculiar. The boy was 

brought up on Spartan principles, and subjected 

to a sterner discipline than was wise. Indeed 

Aikin admits that, in after years, Howard 

" was sensible that he had in some measure 

mistaken the mode of forming his son to that 

character he wished him to acquire." l But there 

is also no doubt whatever that he was at heart 

a most affectionate father, devoted to his child, 

and that, whatever severity of treatment there 

may have been was caused, not by unkindness, 

but by an injudicious attempt to cariy out his 

principles. Frequent references in his diary and 

correspondence show that his " ever-dear boy " 

was constantly in his thoughts. It is impossible 

to read them without feeling that they are of 

themselves amply sufficient to repel the notion 

that there was any lack of affection on his part ; 

while the charge of habitual cruelty that was 

brought against him soon after his death was 

immediately refuted by his friends, and shown 

1 Aikin's Fle-w, etc., p. 47. It is not a pleasant story 
which is told by Brown {Life, p. 62), as illustrating the 
Spartan discipline to which the boy was subjected that 
on one occasion when Howard, accompanied by his son, 
was walking in the garden with a lady, the poor child 
was bidden to take off his shoes, and walk as best he 
could without them, till his father ordered him to put 
them on again. 


to rest on a glaring exaggeration and ridiculous 
misrepresentation of the fact. The story, which 
is said to have been pretty widely circulated, was 
that, by way of punishment, Howard was in the 
habit of shutting up his son in the root-house 
erected in his garden, and of confining him there 
all night. Brown, who gives the story, made 
careful investigation into the truth of it, and 
states the result of his inquiries as follows : 

" One afternoon, as he was walking with the 
child in the garden, according to his usual 
practice, whilst the servants were at dinner, he 
took him into the root-house, and, after having 
been engaged in playing with him for some time, 
he sat him down upon the matted bench, and, 
being called away at the moment by the arrival 
of a gentleman who wished particularly to see 
him, told him to stay there until he returned. 
His mind being occupied with the business upon 
which he had been brought into the house, he 
unfortunately forgot the child and the situation 
in which he had left him ; and it was two or 
three hours before he came into his mind, when 
he hastened to the root-house, and found him 
sitting very contentedly where he had placed 
him. On finding that the child had been left 
so long alone, he was very much vexed with 
himself at his absence of mind, and took him 
immediately in his arms into the house ; telling 


him at the same time, in his most affectionate 
manner, that he had quite forgotten him." 

The story, Brown says, was well known to 
Howard's friends, and to some of his servants, 
who had a distinct recollection of it. 1 Yet on 
this simple accident the absurd charge of 
habitual cruelty has been based ; for it was 
nothing but a baseless calumny which suggested 
that young Howard's subsequent unhappy career, 
and the hopeless insanity which overtook him 
at an early age, were due to the sufferings he 
was made to endure as a child. This notion 
was suggested in a singularly ungenerous notice 
of Howard which appeared in the Gentleman's 
Magazine 2 immediately after his death. Not a 
particle of evidence was ever brought forward 
to confirm it, and against it may be set the 
unanimous testimony of those who were acquainted 
with the family, and remembered young Howard 
as a child. The witness of several of these, in- 
cluding personal friends and domestic servants, 
is quoted in Brown's Life ; and it is perfectly 
clear that, w r hile Howard had a horror of any- 
thing like indulgence, and had a great belief 
in the efficacy of " firmness," on which he 
evidently prided himself, there was, beyond the 
Spartan discipline to which he subjected him, 

1 Brown's Life, p. 59. 

2 Gentleman s Magazine, vol. Ix. p. 277. 



never anything of harshness or unkindness in 
his treatment of his son. As time went on, he 
was increasingly absorbed in the philanthropic 
labours to which he had devoted himself. But 
the boy was never allowed to run wild. Careful 
provision was made for his training and educa- 
tion ; and a review of the dates of the father's 
several journeys suggests that he often timed 
them so as to be at home for the holidays, and 
that he was anxious, when possible, to remain 
at Cardington, until his son was safely despatched 
again to school. 

We can well believe that the childhood of 
young Howard, like that of many another mother- 
less boy, with a father immersed in occupations 
which perpetually took him away from home, 
must have been a lonely one. But there is no 
sort of reason to imagine that it was rendered 
unhappy by any lack of natural affection, or 
want of proper care on the part of the surviving 



Appointed High Sheriff of Bedford Discoveries as to Treat- 
ment of Prisoners Practical Efforts to remove Hard- 
ships A New Career Burke's Panegyric Cowper's 
Lines on Howard Method of Travelling Proceedings in 
Parliament Howard before the House of Commons 
A new Subject of Inquiry Howard a Candidate for 
Parliament Foreign Tours Attempts to gain Admis- 
sion to the Bastile Letter from Abroad Further Tours 
Howard at Warrington Publication of The State of 
Prisons Description of the Work. 

SO far there has been nothing remarkable in 
Howard's life. His desire has been to " sit 
down at home in peace," and to lead a " comfort- 
able, useful, and honourable life." He realised 
his duty as a landlord far better than the great 
majority of country squires of his day, but that 
was all. He was now in his forty-sixth year, and 
there seemed every prospect that he would settle 
down permanently to a quiet life at Cardington, 



amusing himself with his thermometers, planting 
trees, building cottages, interesting himself in 
their drainage and water supply, exercising patri- 
archal discipline over his tenants, chatting with 
them and eating apples at their doors, with no 
further ambition, and no desire to make himself 
useful on a larger scale. That which completely 
changed the character of his life was his experience 
as High Sheriff of the County of Bedford. To this 
office he was appointed in 1773. It will be re- 
membered that he was a dissenter, and thus, by 
the provisions of the Test Act, was liable to severe 
penalties if he failed to qualify by receiving Holy 
Communion, according to the order of the Church 
of England. He had regularly attended his parish 
church during his wife's lifetime, and his rela- 
tions with the Vicar of Cardington were always 
of the most friendly character, but there is no 
evidence that he had ever received the Holy 
Communion ; and he was certainly the last man 
to receive it merely as a qualification for a civil 
office. Happily the law was not very vigorously 
enforced. No notice was taken of his failure 
to comply with its provisions, and he served his 
year of office without any objection being raised 
to him. 

Up till this time Howard had never shown any 
special interest in the condition of prisoners con- 
fined in gaol, nor was he more familiar with the 


details of the law concerning them than a quiet 
country gentleman of a retiring disposition might 
naturally be expected to be. Accordingly, at the 
first Assize he was called upon to attend, it was a 
great shock to him to discover that a number of 
prisoners who were acquitted were nevertheless 
carried back to prison and once more confined 
there, simply on the ground that they had not 
paid the customary fees due to the gaoler and to 
" the tipstaff for being taken into custody " ; for, 
strange and almost incredible as it may seem to 
us, if through some stupid mistake of a blundering 
constable or justice's clerk, a person was unlucky 
enough to be arrested, however innocent he might 
be, it was impossible for him to regain his liberty 
without first having paid the bill presented to him 
for the privilege of being taken up, conducted to 
gaol, and lodged there. 

John Bunyan's publisher, Francis Smith, has 
left us an account of his experiences when thrown 
into gaol, for " having a hand in printing and com- 
piling dangerous books," in which he says, " I was 
locked up in a room where I had neither chair nor 
stool to rest upon, and yet ten shillings per week 
must be the ' price, and before I had been there 
three nights 7, 15s. was demanded for present 
fees. That is to say, 5 to excuse me for wearing 
irons, ten shillings for my entrance week lodging, 
five shillings for sheets, five shillings for " garnish " 


money, 1 and the rest for turnkey's fees." 2 This 
was in 1660, but the century which had passed since 
then had brought with it little or no change for 
the better. Thus, at the county gaol of Howard's 
own town of Bedford, there was a printed notice 
signed by the gaoler 

" All persons that come to this place, either by 
warrant, committment, or verbally, must pay, before 
discharged, fifteen shillings and four pence to the 
gaoler, and two shillings to the turnkey." 

Elsewhere, as in the table of rates and fees to 
be taken by the gaoler for the county of Salop, 
settled by the justices of the peace for the said 
county, such a notice as this appeared 

" To the gaoler, for the discharge of every person 
charged with felony, or other crime, or as an ac- 
cessory thereto, against whom no bill of indict- 
ment shall be found by the Grand Jury, or who on 
his or her trial shall be acquitted, or who shall be 
discharged by proclamation for want of prosecu- 

If at assizes . 0134 

If at sessions . 090" 

In the case of a debtor it was quite a common 
occurrence for the fees thus demanded to reach a 
larger sum than the original amount for which 
the unhappy wretch was incarcerated. The debt 

1 On the meaning of this, see below, p. 72. 

2 See Brown's Life ofjohn Sunyan, p. l8z. 


might be paid, but still the poor creature was 
compelled to languish in prison until somehow or 
other he had satisfied the demands made upon 
him by the officials. Instances of this are fre- 
quently recorded by Howard, and he tells us further 
that " many young creatures, when their term is 
expired, are detained in prison ; others stript of a 
remaining handkerchief, apron, or petticoat. 
Such necessaries have I seen left with the 
keepers till they could bring their fees." 1 

Such were the evils which first attracted his 
attention ; and here is the account which he 
himself has left us in the Introduction to his book 
on Prisons of his discovery, and of the endeavours 
which he made to remove the hardship. 

" The distress of prisoners, of which there are 
few who have not some imperfect idea, came 
more immediately under my notice when I was 
Sheriff of the county of Bedford ; and the circum- 
stance which so excited me to activity in their 
behalf was, the seeing some who by the verdict 
of juries were declared not guilty ; some on whom 
the grand jury did not find such an appearance of 
guilt as subjected them to trial ; and some 
whose prosecutors did not appear against them : 
after having been confined for months, dragged 
back to gaol, and locked up again till they should 
pay sundry fees to the gaoler, the clerk of assize, etc. 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 40. 


" In order to redress this hardship, I applied to 
the justices of the county, for a salary to the 
gaoler, in lieu of his fees. The bench were 
properly affected with the grievance, and willing 
to grant the relief desired ; but they wanted a 
precedent for charging the county with the 
expense. I therefore rode into several neigh- 
bouring counties in search of one ; but I soon 
learnt that the same injustice was practised in 
them ; and, looking into the prisons, I beheld 
scenes of calamity, which I grew daily more and 
more anxious to alleviate. In order, therefore, to 
gain a more perfect knowledge of the particulars 
and extent of it by various and accurate observa- 
tion, I visited most of the county gaols in 
England." x 

The effect of the discoveries which Howard 
thus made, and of the sights and scenes which 
he now saw for the first time, was to start him on 
a career of benevolence which was only terminated 
by his death. His whole course of life was changed. 
From this time onwards he was constantly in the 
saddle. Journey succeeded to journey with be- 
wildering rapidity. He was hardly ever at home 
for more than a few weeks at a time. Oc- 
casionally, especially during his boy's holidays, a 
short time of rest was spent at Cardington ; but 
no sooner were the holidays over than he was off 

1 The State of Prisons, p. I. 


again on a tour of inspection, investigating the 
condition of every prison and house of correction 
in England, or carrying on his researches in 
Scotland and Ireland, and extending them far 
beyond the borders of his own country, so that in 
the course of his seventeen years of untiring 
exertions, in the noble words of Burke's famous 
panegyric, he " visited all Europe not to survey 
the sumptuousness of palaces or the stateliness of 
temples ; nor to make accurate measurements of 
the remains of ancient grandeur ; nor to form a 
scale of the curiosity of modern art ; nor to collect 
medals, or collate manuscripts but to dive into 
the depths of dungeons, to plunge into the in- 
fection of hospitals, to survey the mansions of 
sorrow and pain, 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 : it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. 
It was a voyage of discovery, a circumnavigation 
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 realised in his own." l 

The speech, containing this fine passage, was 
delivered in the year 1781, and in the same year 
1 Speech at Bristol, see Burke's Works (i%$z), vol. iii. p. 421. 


William Cowper introduced into his poem on 
" Charity " the following apostrophe to Howard : 

" Patron of else the most despised of men, 
Accept the tribute of a stranger's pen ; 
Verse, like the laurel, its immortal meed, 
Should be the guerdon of a noble deed ; 
I may alarm thee, but I fear the shame 
(Charity chosen as my theme and aim) 
I must incur, forgetting HOWARD'S name. 
Blest with all wealth can give thee, to resign 
Joys doubly sweet to feelings quick as thine, 
To quit the bliss thy rural scenes bestow, 
To seek a nobler amidst scenes of woe, 
To traverse seas, range kingdoms, and bring home, 
Not the proud monuments of Greece or Rome, 
But knowledge such as only dungeons teach, 
And only sympathy like thine could reach ; 
That grief, sequestered from the public stage, 
Might smooth her feathers, and enjoy her cage ; 
Speaks a divine ambition, and a zeal, 
The boldest patriot might be proud to feel. 
Oh that the voice of clamour and debate, 
That pleads for peace till it disturbs the State, 
Were hush'd in favour of thy generous plea, 
The poor thy clients, and Heaven's smile thy fee." 

It would be tedious to describe in detail the 
various journeys which Howard made, the course 
of which was frequently erratic ; and often it is 
only from incidental notices in his book that we 
are able to trace them. A table of those journeys, 
undertaken before the publication of the first 


edition of his book on Prisons, is added at the 
close of this chapter, and from this the reader 
will be enabled to form some idea of them, and 
can hardly fail to be astonished at the amount of 
ground which Howard covered, and the rapidity 
of his movements. He began by travelling from 
place to place with some moderate degree of 
comfort in a post-chaise. But very soon he dis- 
covered that his clothes were rendered so offensive 
by the pestilential atmosphere of the dungeons 
and dens of horror which he visited that he was 
unable to bear the windows closed. He therefore 
abandoned his carriage, at least in England, and 
was obliged to travel commonly on horseback. 
fe The leaves of my memorandum book," he also 
tells us, " were often so tainted, that I could not 
use it till after spreading it an hour or two before 
the fire : and even my antidote, a vial of vinegar, 
has, after using it in a few prisons, become in- 
tolerably disagreeable. I did not wonder that in 
those journeys many gaolers made excuses ; and 
did not go with me into the felons' wards." l 

A few further particulars of his mode of travel- 
ling are given by Aikin, partly from his own 
knowledge, and party from a gentleman who had 
himself had much conversation with Howard 011 
the subject. 

" When he travelled in England or Ireland, it 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 7. 


was generally on horseback, and he rode about 
forty English miles a day. He was never at a 
loss for an inn. When in Ireland, or the High- 
lands of Scotland, he used to stop at one of the 
poor cabins that stick up a rag by way of sign, 
and get a little milk. When he came to the town 
he was to sleep at, he bespoke a supper with 
wine and beer like another traveller, but made his 
man attend him, and take it away, while he was 
preparing his bread and milk. He always paid 
the waiters, postillions, etc., liberally, because he 
would have no discontent or dispute, nor suffer 
his spirits to be agitated for such a matter ; say- 
ing that, in a journey that might cost three or 
four hundred pounds, fifteen or twenty pounds 
addition was not worth thinking about. When 
he travelled on the Continent, he usually went 
post in his own chaise, which was a German one 
that he bought for the purpose. He never 
stopped till he came to the town he meant to 
visit, but travelled all night if necessary ; and 
from habit could sleep very well in the chaise for 
several nights together. In the last tour but 
one he travelled twenty days and nights to- 
gether without going to bed, and found no in- 
convenience from it. He used to carry with him 
a small tea-kettle, some cups, a little pot of 
sweetmeats, and a few loaves. At the post-house 
he could get his water boiled, send out for milk, 


and make his repast, while his men went to the 
auberge." l 

Howard's earliest tours, which were made in 
the autumn and winter of 1773-1774 were not 
without immediate result, for in March 1774 he 
was examined before a Committee of the House of 
Commons. The attention of Parliament had 
been drawn to the condition of prisoners in gaol 
by a Mr. Popham, member for Taunton, who had 
actually introduced a Bill to effect the reform in 
the matter of fees which Howard so earnestly 
desired, as early as February 1773, some months 
before Howard himself had begun his investiga- 
tions. The Bill after being read a second time 
was dropped in Committee, but was introduced 
again in the following session, in 1774. It was on 
this occasion that Howard was examined before 
a Committee of the whole House ; and so great 
was the impression made by the evidence which, 
from his personal observations, he was able to give, 
that, upon the House resuming, the Chairman re- 
ported that " he was directed by the Committee 
to move the House, that John Howard, Esq., be 
called in to the bar, and that Mr. Speaker do 
acquaint him that the House are very sensible of 
the humanity and zeal which have led him to 
visit the several gaols of this kingdom, and to 
communicate to the House the interesting ob- 

1 Aikin's fif-w, etc., p. 224. 


servations he has made upon that subject." l The 
motion was carried nem. con., and Howard was 
summoned to the bar to receive the thanks of the 
House, an honour which he greatly appreciated, 
as he showed a few years later by the dedication 
of his work on The State of Prisons " to the 
Honourable House of Commons, in gratitude for 
the encouragement which they have given to the 
design, and for the honour they have conferred 
on the author." It should be added that 
Popham's Bill for paying the fees of felons, dis- 
charged out of prison, from the county rate, 
became law in this session, as did also another Bill, 
introduced at the same time, for better providing 
for the health of prisoners. Unfortunately the 
machinery for enforcing both Acts was so faulty 
that,as Howard's subsequent investigations showed, 
the good done by them was very limited, and their 
provisions were frequently ignored and evaded. 
It was actually left for Howard himself, a private 
person, to have copies printed and sent round, at 
his own expense, to every gaol in the kingdom. 
Perhaps the gravest evil of all was the absence of 
any provision for inspection, an omission the impor- 
tance of which Howard at once discerned. Nor 
is it unreasonable to suppose that it was largely 
due to this that he felt himself called on to con- 
tinue his self-imposed labours, and for the rest of 
1 Brown's Life, p. 133. 


his life to constitute himself a sort of unofficial in- 
spector-general of prisons and houses of correction. 

The greater part of the year 1774 was spent 
by him in journeys all over England and Wales, 
new subjects for investigation opening out before 
him in the course of his travels. 

"Seeing in two or three of [the county gaols] 
some poor creatures whose aspect was singularly 
deplorable, and, asking the cause of it, the answer 
was that 'they were lately brought from the 
bridewells.' This started a fresh subject of in- 
quiry, I resolved to inspect the bridewells ; and 
for that purpose travelled again into the counties 
where I had been ; and, indeed, into all the rest ; 
examining houses of correction, city and town gaols. 
I beheld in many of them, as well as in the 
county gaols, a complication of distress ; but my 
attention was principally fixed by the gaol fever 
and the smallpox, which I saw prevailing to the 
destruction of multitudes, not only of felons in 
their dungeons, but of debtors also." l 

1 State of Prisons, p. i. The bridewells, or houses of correc- 
tion, took their name from a miraculous well of St. Bride or 
St. Bridget, near Blackfriars. Here there was a royal palace 
(familiar to readers of Shakespeare as the scene of the 
third act of Henry vm.) This palace standing idle in the 
reign of Edward vi. was, at Bishop Ridley's suggestion, sur- 
rendered by the King to the Corporation as a refuge and 
workhouse for the unemployed and vagrants. Subsequent- 
ly it was converted into a place of punishment and reforma- 


A short suspension of his labours was neces- 
sitated in the autumn of this year, as he consented 
to stand as a candidate for Parliamentary honours 
for the borough of Bedford. It was the time of 
troubles with the American colonies. Party 
spirit ran high, and matters were complicated in 
the borough by a quarrel between the Duke of 
Bedford (whose influence till recently had been 
paramount) and the Corporation of the town ; 
while there was a strong party that desired to be 
represented, neither by the nominees of the Duke 
nor by those of the Corporation, but by indepen- 
dent candidates. These persons persuaded Howard 
and his neighbour, Mr. Whitbread, to stand in 
opposition to the official candidates of the Corpora- 
tion, Sir W. Wake and Mr. Sparrow. A better 
choice could not have been found. But the time 
allowed for their canvass was but short, and at 
the close of the election Howard found himself at 
the bottom of the poll, the candidates of the Cor- 
poration being both returned by a substantial 
majority. 1 A petition was presented against their 

tion for disobedient apprentices and idle and refractory 
characters ; and the name was given to similar houses of 
correction in all parts of the country. 

1 The numbers as originally declared were Wake, 527; 
Sparrow, 517; Whitbread, 429; Howard, 402. As the 
result of the petition they were altered to the following : 
Whitbread, 568 ; Wake, 541 ; Howard, 537 ; Sparrow, 529. 
The election turned largely on the question of the legality of 


return, and in the end Whitbread and Wake 
were declared to be elected, the two unsuccessful 
candidates being Howard (who was now only 
four votes behind Wake) and Sparrow. The 
result was certainly a disappointment to Howard, 
but he was able to take it philosophically, and, as 
he said himself, " calmly to retire," and to hope 
that it might be " promotive of his best interest." l 
The whole incident was merely a passing episode 
in his life. He had never shown any ambition 
for a political career ; and when, later on, he was 
solicited to come forward again, he steadily re- 
fused to stand. We need not greatly regret his 
failure to secure the seat. Had he been returned, 
it is doubtful whether he would have been able 
to do anything like the same amount of good as 
a member of Parliament as that which he was 
enabled to do in the original and independent 
career which he marked out for himself. 

Even as it was, the election was scarcely 
suffered to interfere with his labours. No sooner 
was it over than long before the question of the 
petition was decided he started again on another 
tour, this time extending his journey to parts of 
Scotland and Ireland, in order to investigate the 
state of things in the prisons there. 

the votes of honorary freemen, and of those of burgesses 
who had partaken of the benefits of a local charity. 
1 Letter to the Rev. J. Symonds. 


He was now contemplating making public the 
results of his investigations ; but while disclosing 
to the country the horrible state of things which 
existed in almost every gaol in the kingdom, he 
was anxious also to suggest such remedies as 
might be found possible. It occurred to him, 
therefore, that something useful to his purpose 
might be collected abroad. Accordingly he laid 
aside his papers, and travelled into France, 
Flanders, Holland, and Germany. In most places 
he appears to have experienced little or no 
difficulty in obtaining an entrance into the prisons. 
France was an exception. At the Bastile, to his 
great disappointment, he failed altogether, though 
from no lack of assurance on his part. 

" I knocked hard " he tells us " at the outer 
gate, and immediately went forward through the 
guard to the drawbridge before the entrance of 
the castle. But, while I was contemplating this 
gloomy mansion, an officer came out much sur- 
prised ; and I was forced to retreat through the, 
mute guard, and thus regained that freedom, 
which for one locked up within those walls it 
is next to impossible to obtain." l 

Elsewhere in France, Howard was more 
successful ; but only because he made the happy 
discovery, that there existed an arret of parliament 
for the regulation of prisons, which directed 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 176. 


gaolers to admit all persons desirous of bestowing 1 
charity on the prisoners under their charge. 

To this period belongs the following letter 
written to his friend Mr. Smith : 

John Howard to the Rev. T. Smith. 

" BRUXELLES, May 17, 1775. 

" DEAR SIR, The very kind part you take in 
my affairs makes me flatter myself that a line will 
not be disagreeable. Since I left England I have 
visited several gaols in French Flanders, as almost 
every one in Paris ; and indeed with no little 
trouble or resolution did I get admittance into 
those seats of woe, as, at this time, both at Paris, 
Versailles, and in many provinces, there has been 
the greatest riots and confusion. The military 
patrole the streets of Paris night and day : [there 
are] daily executions, one of which with pain I 
attended last Thursday. I came late last night 
to this city ; the day I have employed in visiting 
the gaols, and collecting all the criminal laws, as 
I have got those of France ; however rigorous 
they may be, yet their great care and attention 
to their prisons is worthy of commendation ; all 
[is] fresh and clean ; [there is] no gaol distemper ; 
no prisoners ironed ; the bread allowance far 
exceeds that of any of our gaols, e.g., every 
prisoner here has two pound of bread a day, once 
(a day) soup, and a Sunday one pound of meat. 
But I write to my friend for a relaxation from 
what so much engrosses my thoughts. And 
indeed I force myself to the public dinners and 
suppers for that purpose, though I show so little 


respect to a set of men who are so highly 
esteemed (the French cooks), as I have not 
tasted fish, flesh, or fowl, since I have been this 
side of the water, Through a kind Providence I 
am very well, calm, easy spirits. The public 
voitures has not been crowded, and I have met 
in general with agreeable company. I hope to 
be in Holland the beginning of next week ; the 
country, especially Flanders, affords the pleasing 
prospect of the greatest plenty. This dry 
weather affects them less than in other countries. 
I beg my best compliments to Mrs. Smith. 
Remember me to Mrs. Belsham, and any of our 
friends who may be so kind as to think of me. 
Permit me to remain, with affection and esteem, 
Dear Sir, your obliged friend and servant, 


This tour lasted from April to July 1775. In 
the autumn of the same year a second inspection 
of English prisons was commenced. This occupied 
him till the month of May in the following year. 
It was then broken off, in order that he might 
repeat his visits to those foreign countries in 
which he had been the year before, and also 
extend his researches to Switzerland. This 
Continental journey over, he resumed his 
inspection of English prisons, and by the close of 
1776 he felt that he was ready to publish. 
Mistrusting his own literary powers he first took 
his note and memorandum books to a friend in 

London, one Richard Denshaw, a fellow-pupil 
with him under Mr. Eames, who assisted him in 
arranging them. They were next submitted to 
another friend, Dr. Price, who thoroughly revised 
them and prepared them for the press. After 
this Howard took them to Warrington in 
Lancashire, where was the press at which he 
desired to have his book printed, and where 
resided his friend Dr. Aikin, whose assistance 
he was anxious to secure. 

Of Howard's manner of life at Warrington 
Brown in his biography has given us a tolerably 
complete account. It was, as might be expected, 
characterised by great method and regularity. 
Lodgings were taken near to the printer's, and no 
journeyman printer could have worked harder 
than Howard himself did. He rose every 
morning at two, and worked at the correction 
of proofs till seven, when he breakfasted. 
" Punctually at eight he repaired to the printing- 
office, and remained there until the workmen 
went to dinner at one, when he returned to his 
lodgings, and, putting some bread and raisins or 
other dried fruit in his pocket, generally took a 
walk in the outskirts of the town during their 
absence, eating, as he walked along, his hermit 
fare, which, with a glass of water on his return, 
was the only dinner he took. . . . When he had 
returned to the printing-office, he generally 


remained there until the men left work, and then 
repaired to Mr. Aikin's house, to go through 
with him any sheets which might have been 
composed during the day ; or, if there were 
nothing upon which he wished to consult him, 
would spend an hour with some other friend, or 
return to his lodgings, where he took his tea or 
coffee, in lieu of supper ; and at his usual hour 
retired to bed. He did not do this, however, 
without closing the day with family prayer ; a duty 
which he never neglected, though there was but 
one, and that one his domestic, to join him in it ; 
always declaring, that where he had a tent, God 
should have an altar." l 

In this manner some weeks were spent, and by 
the month of April, 1777, the book was ready to 
be issued. It was published as a large quarto 
volume, and Howard insisted on fixing the price 
at so low a rate that, according to Aikin, "had 
every copy been sold he would still have presented 

1 Brown's Life, p. 208. Brown adds that Howard 
maintained the practice of family prayers throughout his 
journeys in every part of Europe, " it being his invariable 
practice, wherever and with whomsoever he might be, to 
tell Thomasson [his confidential servant] to come to him at 
a certain hour, at which, well knowing what the direction 
meant, he would be sure to find him in his room, the doors 
of which he would order him to fasten ; when, let who 
would come, nobody was admitted until this devotional 
exercise was over." 


the public with all the plates, and great part of the 
printing." l Copies were also distributed by him 
with lavish profusion to "all the principal" persons 
in the kingdom, and all his particular friends " ; 
and thus, for the first time, the public was made 
aware of the state of things which existed in 
every town and county gaol throughout the 
kingdom. Nothing could be more matter of fact 
than the book. There is a studious avoidance of 
every appearance of exaggeration. No attempt 
is made to draw harrowing pictures of the horrors 
which Howard himself had witnessed, or of the 
sufferings of the unfortunate prisoners immured 
in the dungeons he had visited. The bare facts 
spoke for themselves. He contented himself 
with the driest possible enumeration of such 
particulars as he deemed material. After a brief 
Introduction, and an account of the foreign prisons 
he had visited, he takes the several counties of 
England separately. Details are given in a 
tabular form of every gaol and bridewell ; the 
nature of the accommodation, the number of 
prisoners confined in them, the names of the 
officials, the salary (if any) of gaoler, surgeon, and 
chaplain ; the allowance of food for the prisoners, 
and the fees exacted from them. A specimen, 
taken at random, will best show the plan on 
which the work is arranged, and the various 

1 Aikin's View, etc., p. 6z. 


allusions in it will, it is hoped, be easily understood 
from the general description of the state of things 
which Howard revealed, to which a separate 
chapter must be devoted. 



Salary, 12, now taken off. 

Fees, Debtors^ 

\ 155. 4d. 
,, Felons J 

Transports, 8 each. 

Licence, Beer. 

Prisoners' Allowance, Debtors, none. 

,, Felons ; i Ib. of bread a day. 

Garnish, 2s. 

Number of Number of 

Debtors. Felons, etc. 

1773, Nov - 20 ... 9 7 

1776, Jan. 7 . . . 16 10 

Oct. 30 ... 7 5 

1779, March 26 ... n 3 

,, Nov. 25 . . '. 5 4 

1782, May i ... 8 z 



Chaplain, None. 
Surgeon, Mr. HARPER. (Salary, none ; he makes a bill.) 

Remarks. This gaol, built about 1772, is in a 
close part of the city. I was shewn a fine spot 
which some gentlemen very judiciously preferred. 
It has eight lodging-rooms for master's side 
debtors, and the common ward. Women-felons 


have only one room, and that without a fireplace. 
The men have a day-room. To their dungeons there 
is a descent of twelve steps to a passage only 4 
feet wide ; the four dungeons are about 9 feet by 
6 ; at the upper corner of each, a little window, 
11 inches by 7. All are very damp, dirty, and 
offensive : we went down with torches. Only one 
court for all prisoners. No straw ; no infirmary ; no 
bath. Rooms might be made for criminals in the 
area where the old county hall stood ; in which 
case the horrid dungeons need not be used, and 
the sexes might be separated. Neither clauses 
against spirituous liquors, nor the Act for preserv- 
ing the health of prisoners, are hung up. 

One of the felons, James Ward, received his 
majesty's pardon, on condition of his going to sea. 
Mr. Francis Waters, clerk of the assize, wrote in 
the letter which enclosed the pardon (which 
was dated August 25, 1781): 'The Secretary of 
State's fee is l, 7s. and my fee <l, Is., which 
you'll take care to receive on the back of the 
pardon from the officer who receives him.' As no 
officer would take him on condition of paying this, 
together with 19s. 4d., the gaoler's and under- 
SherifTs fees, I found the poor wretch in May 
1 782, languishing in prison on his pound of bread 
a day. 



As settled by his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the 
city of Coventry, at the General Quarter Sessions of the 
Peace held at the said city, the izth day of January 
1778, according to an Act of Parliament, the 32 
George the n., for the relief of debtors. 

s. d. 
Every prisoner that lies on the keeper's side, if 

he has a bed to himself pays by the week o z 6 
Those prisoners on the keeper's side, and have 

a bed between two, pay each by the week o i 6 
If on the common side, each prisoner weekly .006 
To the gaoler for discharging every prisoner 

committed or detained in his custody . 013 4 
To the turnkey on every such discharge ..020 
To the under-Sheriff for every discharge ..040 
For receiving and entering every declaration, o i o 
For a copy of each warrant against each prisoner o i o 
For every certificate of the cause of a prisoner 

being detained in prison in order for 

being discharged . ... . .030 


lo/A March 1778. I have reviewed the above Table of 
Fees and do hereby establish and confirm the same. 


1 The State of Prisons, p. 310. As will be seen from the 
dates given, the specimen is taken from the fourth edition of 
Howard's work, in which the details of later visits are 
entered. The plan of the first edition is just the same. 


Table of Howard's Journeys between 1773 and the 
Publication of his First Edition in 1777. 

1773. November. Cambridge, Huntingdon, 
Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, 
Stafford, Warwick, Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford, 

December. Hertford, Berks, Wilts, Dorset, 
Hants, Sussex, Surrey. 

1774. January, February. Cornwall, Devon, 
Somerset, Hereford, Monmouth, London. 

March, April. Durham, Northumberland, 
Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lancashire, Cheshire, 
Shropshire, Stafford, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, 
Northampton, Kent, London. 

June, July. North Wales, Cheshire, Worcester, 

July-September. Berks, Somerset, Gloucester, 
Hereford, Monmouth, South Wales, Bristol, 
Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wilts, Herts, 

October-December. Lincoln, York, Lancashire, 
Warwick, Buckingham, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, 
Cambridge, Hertford. 

1775. January, February. Scotland, Ireland. 
April-July. France, French Flanders, Austrian 

Netherlands, Holland, Germany. 

November, December. Huntingdon, Rutland, 
Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stafford, Lanca- 


shire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Montgomery, Radnor, 
Worcester, Hereford, Monmouth, Gloucester, 
Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wilts, Hants. 

1776. January-March. Berks, Buckingham, 
Northampton, Warwick, Derby, York, Durham, 
Cumberland, Westmoreland, York, Lincoln, Cam- 
bridge, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertford, Kent, Sussex, 
Herts, Dorset, London. 

May -August. France, Switzerland, Germany, 
Holland, Austrian Netherlands. 

September-December. Wilts, Gloucester, Mon- 
mouth, South Wales, Worcester, Warwick, Shrop- 
shire, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumber- 
land, Westmoreland, York, Leicester, Nottingham, 
Huntingdon, Cambridge, York, Derby, Leicester, 
Warwick, Oxford, London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, 
Hertford, Gloucester, Somerset, Wilts, London. 

1777. January-March. Warrington, superin- 
tending the printing of The State of Prisons. 



Failure of Earlier Attempts at Prison Reform Abuses dis- 
closed by Howard Faulty Construction of Buildings 
Gaol Fever Lack of Discipline Idleness and Riotous 
Habits of Prisoners "Garnish" Absence of Classifi- 
cation of Prisoners Lack of Provision for Sustenance 
Gaolers Surgeons Chaplains State of Prisoners in 
Scotland and Ireland. 

AT this point it will be convenient to give 
a general summary of the condition of 
English prisons, as Howard found them, and of 
the state of things which he exposed to the public. 
It should, however, in fairness to others be pointed 
out that he was not absolutely the first to interest 
himself in those confined in gaol, or to endeavour 
to ameliorate their unhappy condition. Even 
before the close of the seventeenth century an in- 
vestigation into their condition was undertaken 
by the recently founded Society for the Promotion 
of Christian Knowledge, at the recommendation 
of Compton, Bishop of London, and an important 



report was drawn up and presented to the Society 
by Mr. Shute, one of its earliest and most active 
members. 1 To visit the prisoners had long been 
regarded as one of the Church's "works of mercy/' 
and it is interesting to find this charitable work 
included among the practices to be followed by the 
early " Methodists " in the days of " the holy club " 
at Oxford. 2 This was in 1730, just after the ap- 
pointment of a Parliamentary Committee, of which 
General Oglethorpe was the chairman, to make 
inquiries into the condition of prisoners and the 
state of prisons. 3 The inquiry revealed the most 

1 See the History of the Society for Promoting Christian 
Knowledge, pp. 50 and 54, where the Report is given in 

2 See Overton's John Wesley, p. 25. 

3 It is to this Committee that allusion is made in Thomson's 
" Winter," in the following lines : 

" And here can I forget the generous band 

Who, touch'd with human love, redressive search'd, 

Into the horrors of the gloomy jail, 

Unpitied and unheard, where Misery moans, 

Where Sickness pines, where Thirst and Hunger burn, 

And poor Misfortune feels the lash of vice ? 

While in the land of Liberty, the land 

Where every street and public meeting glow 

With open freedom, little tyrants raged ; 

Snatch'd the lean morsel from the starving mouth ; 

Tore from cold wintry limbs the tatter'd weed ; 

E'en robb'd them of the last of comforts, sleep ; 

The free-born Briton to the dungeon chain'd, 

Or, as the lust of cruelty prevail'd, 

At pleasure mark'd him with inglorious stripes ; 


appalling state of things, but still nothing seems 
to have come of it ; l nor were any further practical 
measures taken for prison reform in this country 
until 1773, when Mr. Popham introduced the Bill 
already alluded to, and Howard commenced his 
researches. Before this, however, the Marquis 
Beccaria had published in Italy in 1764 his 
Treatise on Crimes and Punishments, which was 

And crush'd out lives, by secret barbarous ways, 
That for their country would have toiled or bled. 
O great design ! if executed well, 
With patient care and wisdom-tempered zeal. 
Ye sons of mercy ! yet resume the search ; 
Drag forth the legal monsters into light, 
Wrench from their hands Oppression's iron rod, 
And bid the cruel feel the pains they give. 
Much still untouch'd remains ; in this rank age, 
Much is the patriot's weeding hand required. 
The toils of law, what dark insidious men 
Have cumbrous added to perplex the truth, 
And lengthen simple justice into trade, 
How glorious were the day that saw these broke, 
And every man within the reach of right ! " 
The first edition of " Winter " was published in 1726, and 
these lines were added in the edition of 1730, as was also 
the passage beginning, " Ah, little think the gay licentious 
proud," an extract from which Howard placed on the title 
page of his bpok. 

1 The need of classification of prisoners, of the exclusion 
of ' ' all sorts of revel-mirth " from places where offenders are 
confined, of "labour and low diet," and religious instruction,, 
were forcibly pointed out by Bishop Butler in his Spital 
sermon, preached before the Lord Mayor in 1740. See Butler's^ 
Worts (ed., Halifax) vol. ii. p. 308. 


translated into English two years later. Whether 
this work was known to Howard before he began 
his labours we cannot tell. He certainly was 
acquainted with it later, and greatly valued it, for 
he refers to it constantly in his own books But, 
in any case, the work had not led to any re- 
form in the condition of our prisons when he 
started on his career ; and it is impossible to 
exaggerate the horrors which he discovered and 

" To begin with, the construction of the buildings 
used as prisons was as bad as it could possibly be. 
As often as not they opened right on to the streets, 
so that the barred windows, to which the wretched 
inmates crowded for light and air were easily 
accessible to the passers-by. This naturally led 
to constant communication between these confined 
in gaol and their friends outside. Beer and 
spirituous liquors were freely introduced, the 
keepers calmly replying to any remonstrances 
with a confession of their helplessness to prevent 
the practice. Every encouragement was given to 
attempts at escape, for nothing was easier than for 
an accomplice to introduce a file, or even to assist 
in filing through the bars. Thus Howard notes 
of Leeds town gaol, which consisted of " four rooms 
fronting the street, 12 feet by 9> and a smaller 
one," that " two deserters lately escaped by filing 
the bars. Since the windows are double-barred 


so that no files can be conveyed to the prisoners." 1 
In consequence of this, and also of the ruinous 
and dilapidated condition into which thej prisons 
were allowed to fall, through the unwillingness 
of the authorities to spend money upon them, the 
gaolers frequently had recourse to irons, in order 
to prevent their prisoners from escaping. Men 
and even women were " chained to staples fixed[in 
the barrack bedsteads," or dragged after them 
"chains and logs." 2 In one case, where there 
had been several escapes, owing to the fact that the 
prison was out of repair, Howard actually " found 
that the magistrates had sent to the keeper a 
number of thumb-screws for securing prisoners." 3 
It is scarcely necessary to say that the rooms were 
badly lighted and badly ventilated. It was the 
time of the iniquitous window tax ; and, as gaolers 
were required to pay this out of their own pocket, 
the result was what might have been expected. 
"This," says Howard, "tempts them to stop the 
windows and stifle the prisoners." 4 The buildings 
were frequently so decayed and ruinous as to be 
utterly unfit for human habitation ; the floor was 
generally damp ; sometimes there was " an inch or 
two of water " upon it ; and the straw or bedding 
was laid on such floors. 5 Proper sanitary provision 
was almost unknown. At Knaresboro', Howard on 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 414. 2 Ib. p. 305. 3 Ib. p. 304. 
4 Ib. p. 8. s Ib. p. 7. 



his first visit found a single room, about 12 feet 
square, with a window 17 inches by 6, used as 
the prison for town debtors, and writes of it as 
follows : 

" Earth floor ; no fireplace ; very offensive ; a 
common sewer from the town running through it 
uncovered. I was informed that an officer, confined 
here some years since for only a few days, took in 
with him a dog, to defend him from vermin ; but 
the dog was soon destroyed, and the prisoner's 
face much disfigured by them." 1 

At Plymouth was a den of horror, known as The 
Clink : 

"Fifteen feet by 8 feet 3 inches,and about b\ 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 transportation, 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 said he had 
much rather have been hanged than confined in 
that noisome cell. In another room (13 feet by 
5|, and 6 feet 9 inches high, the window only 18 
inches by 14, and the wall 2 feet 8 inches thick), 
at my last visit there were two prisoners ; one of 
whom assured me he had been there upwards 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 413. 


of seven weeks, and sometimes with four or 
five other prisoners, where they were almost 
suffocated." l 

Under such circumstances it is no wonder that 
small-pox and the loathsome gaol fever were rife. 
The havoc wrought by this last disease was some- 
thing terrible. " From my own observations in 
1773, 1774,, and 1775," writes Howard, "I was 
fully convinced that many more prisoners were 
destroyed by it, than were put to death by all the 
public executions in the kingdom. This frequent 
effect of confinement in prison seems generally un- 
derstood, and shows how full of emphatical meaning 
is the curse of a severe creditor, who pronounces 
his debtor's doom to rot in gaol. I believe I have 
learned the full import of this sentence, from the 
vast numbers who, to my certain knowledge, and 
some of them before my eyes, have perished by 
the gaol fever." 2 

This scourge was nothing new, nor was the 
mischief wrought by it confined to prisoners. 
"Multitudes caught the distemper by going to 
their relatives and acquaintance in the gaols ; many 
others from prisoners discharged; and not a few 
in the courts of judicature." The "Black Assize, 
held at Oxford in 1577, was long remembered, 
when all who were present died within forty hours 
the Lord Chief Baron, the Sheriff, and about three 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 389. 2 Ib. p. 8. 


hundred more." " At the Lent assize in Tauiiton, 
1730, some prisoners who were brought thither 
from Ivelchester gaol, infected the court ; and Lord 
Chief Baron Pengelly; Sir James Sheppard, sergeant ; 
John Pigot, Esq., Sheriff; and some hundreds 
besides, died of the gaol distemper." In 1750, 
little more than twenty years before Howard 
began his investigations, "the Lord Mayor, one 
alderman, and many of inferior rank," had perished 
from the same disease in London. 1 Again and 
again Howard remarks on the prevalence of the 
disease ; 2 and whereas nearly everybody seemed 
to regard it as a necessary evil, to be calmly 
acquiesced in, he was urgent in insisting that it was 
largely due to want of cleanliness and fresh air, 
and that if only gaols were kept clean and 
properly drained and ventilated, it might be 
entirely eradicated ; and events have happily 
proved that he was right. 

Some general idea of the life of those confined 
in gaol may be gathered from the pages of the 
novelists of the last century. Readers of The Vicar 
of Wakefield or Fielding's Amelia will remember the 
extraordinary state of things described in them; and 
Mr. Pickwick's experiences in the Fleet so late 
as 1830 are familiar to everybody. In order to 
understand how such things could be it must be 

1 All these instances are cited by Howard, op cit., p. 9. 
See pages 255, 259, 261, 280, 324, 347, 360, 391, 401. 


remembered that until the reform of our criminal 
law, which began with the Acts of 1823 and 1824, 
prisons were scarcely looked upon as places of 
punishment. They were for the most part merely 
regarded as places where accused persons awaiting 
trial were lodged gaol deliveries being held in 
some counties but once a year, or even, as in Hull, 
once in three years ; l or where culprits, duly tried 
and convicted, were temporarily detained until 
their sentence, usually either a capital one or one 
of transportation, could be carried out ; or, again, as 
the homes where the wretched debtors whom a 
mistaken system deprived of all means of paying 
their liabilities, were confined, as often as not for 
the natural term of their existence. Imprison- 
ment in itself had as yet "no regular place in 
the code of penalties." 2 This fact must be firmly 
grasped, for it explains much that would be other- 
wise incomprehensible, notably the entire lack of 
discipline. If imprisonment be not regarded as a 
penalty, it may seem natural that no obstacles 
should be placed in the way of intercourse between 
those whom the law was thus keeping until they 
were wanted and their friends outside. Thus visitors 
were freely admitted, and debtors were allowed 
to have their families with them. To this Howard 
frequently draws attention. 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 415. 

2 Encyclopedia Britannica, Art.., " Prison Discipline." 


" Debtors crowd the gaols with their wives and 
children. There are often by this means ten or 
twelve people in a middle-sized room, increasing 
the danger of infection, and corrupting the morals 
of children." l 

At Bury St. Edmunds he "always found a 
number of people drinking, as at a common ale- 
house." 2 At the Fleet he saw "several butchers 
and others from the market, who are admitted 
here as at another public-house." 3 Indeed, he 
tells us that " half the robberies committed in and 
about London are planned in the prisons, by that 
dreadful assemblage of criminals, and the number 
of idle people who visit them." 4 

The same fact is the explanation of the idle- 
ness of prisoners, the fruitful parent of manifold 
evils. It is true that in the bridewells offenders 
were committed to hard labour, and so were 
supposed to work. But, as a matter of fact, there 
were few bridewells in which any work at all was 
done, or could be done. Neither tools nor 
materials of any kind were supplied to the 
prisoners, and they were left, like the inmates of 
the ordinary town and county gaols, to spend their 
time in sloth, profaneness, and debauchery. 
Gaming and drinking were the principal ways of 
killing time. Howard enumerates cards, dice, 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 17. 2 Ib. p. 306. 

8 Ib. p. 219. *lb. p. 10. 


skittles ; mississippi and portobello tables ; 
billiards, fives, tennis ; and says that " in the 
country the three first are most common, and 
especially cards ; there is scarce a county gaol but 
is furnished with them ; and one can seldom go in 
without seeing prisoners at play." l At the Fleet 
"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,'* 
adds Howard, " how much riot these occasion, and 
how the sober prisoners, and those that are sick,. 
are annoyed by them." 2 The same thing was, 
found at the King's Bench, and "one could 
scarcely even enter the walls without seeing 
parties at skittles, mississippi, portobello, tennis,, 
fives, etc." 3 

At both these places Howard found certain 
printed rules, made by the prisoners themselves, 
" to be obeyed and observed by every member of 
this College" (as they were pleased to term it). 
Many of them were arbitrary and improper ; but" 
he adds in his third edition in 1784 " they are 
abolished." 4 At the Marshalsea, one Sunday in 
the summer 1775, almost six hundred pots of beer 
were brought in from a public-house in the neigh- 
bourhood, the prisoners not then liking the 
tapster's beer." 5 At Newgate some of the debtors 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 13. 2 16. p. 219. 3 Ib. p. 244. 
*Ib. p. Z48. SJ&. p. 252. 


had in their apartments casks of beer for sale ; 
and on the felons' side a person stood with cans of 
beer." * 

Almost universal was the custom of demanding 
" garnish." This was a tax levied by the 
prisoners on all new-comers, whereby they were 
made to pay their footing ; " pay or strip," or 
" pay or run the gauntlet," being the formula with 
which they were welcomed ; and should the un- 
fortunate persons be unable or unwilling to meet 
the charge, some article of clothing would be 
forcibly taken from them as an equivalent. " In 
many gaols," adds Howard, "to the garnish paid 
by the newcomer, those who were there before 
make an addition ; and a great part of the follow- 
ing night is often spent in riot and drunkenness. 
The gaoler or tapster, finding his account in this 
practice, generally answers questions concerning it 
with reluctance. Of the garnish which I have 
set down to sundry prisons, I had my information 
from prisoners who paid it. But I am aware that 
the sum is sometimes varied by sets of succeeding 
prisoners, and the different circumstances of a 
newcomer. In some gaols, if a felon can pay the 
debtors' garnish (which is commonly more than 
that of the felons) he is entitled to the garnish 
paid afterwards by the new-come debtors." 2 

Again, there was often an entire absence of 

1 Lazarettos, p. 125. 2 The State of Prisons, p. 13. 


classification of prisoners. Even the separation 
of the sexes was not always properly carried out. 
Howard records a most disgraceful state of things 
in this way at various gaols. 1 Few prisons separ- 
ated men and women in the daytime. All sorts 
of prisoners were confined together "Debtors 
and felons, men and women, the young beginner 
and the old offender ; and with all these, in some 
counties, such as are guilty of misdemeanours 
only." " In some gaols you see boys of twelve or 
fourteen eagerly listening to the stories told by 
practised and experienced criminals, of their ad- 
ventures, successes, stratagems, and escapes." 2 
There were even cases where the unfortunate 
prisoners were disturbed and terrified by having 
idiots and lunatics confined with them. 

Almost more extraordinary perhaps may appear 
to us the lack of any proper provision for the 
sustenance of prisoners. By immuring them the 
law precluded them from ordinary means of 
obtaining subsistence, but did not seem to regard 
itself as responsible for maintaining them. Some- 
times a meagre provision of bread a pennyworth, 
or three farthings worth a day was allowed. 
Sometimes there was literally no allowance what- 
ever. By an Act passed in the thirty-second year 

1 See the shocking state of things described at Kingston, 
p. 278. 

a The State of Prisons, p. 8. 


of George n., debtors were enabled to secure four- 
pence a day from their creditors, but this was 
practically a dead letter ; and thus the unfortunate 
debtor was worse off than the highwayman, the 
housebreaker, and the murderer. The prisoners 
were left to subsist upon the voluntary contribu- 
tions of the charitable, or on the proceeds of such 
industries as they might be able to carry on in 
the prison. Cases of actual starvation are more 
than once noted by Howard. 1 And not in- 
frequently we find such entries as these " The 
prisoners, felons as well as debtors, sell at the 
grates of their separate day-rooms, laces, garters, 
purses, etc., of their own making." 2 At the 
windows of York City and County Gaol they were 
selling " nets, purses, laces, etc. ; over it is an in- 
scription on a stone tablet, " He that giveth to 
the poor, lendeth to the Lord." 3 At Lincoln 
" the debtors make considerable quantity of 
garters, purses, etc., of a very good sort ; most of 
which they weave in a cheap but convenient 
hand frame." 4 At Northampton " debtors, felons, 
and petty offenders were at work, spinning and 
making pegs for shoemakers, etc." 5 In Leicester- 
shire " they make an annual collection by a kind 
of voluntary brief. The gentlemen of the grand 
jury recommend it to the clergy, most of whom 

l The State of Prisons, p. 39. 2 Ib. p. 293. 

3 Ib. p. 409. *Ib. p. 327. 5 Ib. p. 334. 


From an engraving in the British Alnseii 


promote the collection in their several parishes." l 
At Hull a collection is made from which the 
debtors receive some supply, on Sundays and 
Thursdays. 2 "The Corporation" this is in con- 
nection with Yarmouth town gaol, where there 
was an allowance of a penny loaf a day " sends 
out a begging basket three times a week." 3 At 
Salisbury Howard found outside the prison gate 
" a round staple fixed in the wall ; through it was 
put a chain, at each end of which a common-side 
debtor, padlocked by the leg, stood offering to 
those who pass by, nets, laces, purses, etc., made 
in prison." Here also he notes, that " at Christmas, 
felons chained together are permitted to go- 
about ; one of them carrying a sack or basket for 
food, another a box for money." 4 

Not only, however, was there no proper pro- 
vision for the maintenance of those confined in 
gaol. In many \ cases there was literally none for 
those whose business it was to keep them 
there. Indeed, sometimes the gaoler not only 
received no salary for his duties, but was actually 
required to pay a rent. Of course this meant that 
he made what he could out of the prisoners under 
his care. Hence the iniquitous system of fees, 
and charges not only for the comforts but also for 
the most elementary necessities of life. Unless. 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 314. 2 Ib. p. 415. 

3 Ib. p. 299. * Ib. p. 376. 


the unfortunate prisoners were prepared to pay 
for the luxury of a bed, or even a portion of one, 1 
they were literally required to "lie upon straw," 
and that often damp and mouldy. Even this was 
sometimes not allowed ; for the significant entry, 
" no straw," is a not infrequent one in Howard's 
book. But the gaoler's best source of income 
undoubtedly was the tap. It was quite the 
exception for him not to hold a licence for beer 
and wine. Thus it became directly his interest 
to encourage drinking among the prisoners. 

" Gaolers who hold, or let, the tap, find their 
account not only in conniving at, but promoting 
drunkenness and midnight revels, so that most of 
our gaols are riotous alehouses and brothels. 
What profligate and debauched company of both 
sexes do we see let into our gaols, that the tap 
may be kept running ! Even condemned criminals 
are sometimes heated with liquor until they be- 
came outrageous, as Lewis was, who was executed 
at Leicester in 1782. Besides this the gaoler's 
interest in the sale of liquors may prompt him 
to be partial in his behaviour to his prisoners ; 
to treat at least with neglect those who are poor 
and have nothing to spend, which is the case of 

J The charge was of course often but small; but in the 
summer of 1776, the King's Bench in Southwark was so 
crowded that a prisoner paid five shillings a week for half a 
bed (The State of Prisons, p. 244). 


the greater number ; while he shall caress dis- 
honest debtors, who take shelter in a prison, in 
order to live there in riot, upon the property of 
their creditors." l 

Let it be remembered, also, that there was no 
system of inspection ; and that the justices, if they 
ever came near the prison at all, probably con- 
tented themselves with viewing the outside, 2 and 
it will easily be understood what hells upon earth 
the majority of English gaols and houses of 
correction were. The inmates were left absolutely 
to the tender mercies of the gaoler (who often 
lived at a distance) and his underlings, while the 
whole system appeared to be framed for the 
express purpose of encouraging rapine and cruelty 
on the part of these officials. The marvel is, that 
among them there were to be found any who 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 26. 

2 Should any justice express a desire to make a closer inspec- 
tion the gaoler was generally ready with an artifice to prevent 
him, for "when a gentleman, particularly a magistrate, 
has come with an intention to visit the gaol, the keeper has 
pretended the utmost willingness to accompany him, but at 
the same time has artfully dropped a hint, that he fears that 
there maybe some danger in it, as he is apprehensive that 
the fever has made its appearance among them. The visitor, 
alarmed, returns thanks for the kind caution, and instantly 
leaves the house. On such occasions," Howard grimly 
remarks, "I have always the more insisted on the necessity 
of a close inspection, and have generally found the prison 
very dirty indeed, but nofe-v er " (The State of Prisons, p. 468). 


were at all enlightened or animated by humane 
sentiments. Yet, in more than one instance, 
Howard freely accords them commendation for 
their treatment of their prisoners. 1 Nothing is 
more striking in his book than his sense of fairness, 
and, amid all the horrors he describes, and the 
censures he is compelled to pass, his readiness to 
seize upon anything in the least hopeful, and to 
award praise, wherever, on a most liberal construc- 
tion, praise might be due. 

To pass from the gaolers to the surgeons and 
chaplains : the Act of 1774 made provision for the 
appointment of both these officers, in accordance 
with the claims of humanity. But in many 
instances the Act seems to have been shamefully 
neglected. Not infrequently it appears from 
Howard's notes that none had been appointed. 
Even in those cases where the letter of the Act 
was complied with, and chaplains and surgeons 
were appointed, the stipends were miserably 
inadequate, and the duties attached to the offices 
were too often shamefully neglected. It actually 
appears that in one case the surgeon told Howard 
that, by the terms of his contract, he was excused 
from attending prisoners confined in the dungeons 
with gaol fever ! 2 Yet here also it is pleasant to 

1 Instances are given at Norwich (p. 293), at Northampton 
(p. 334), and at Newcastle (p. 413). 

2 The State o/Prisont, p. 383. 


record, that in more than one instance Howard 
bears testimony to the noble and self-denying 
labours of both medical men and chaplains. At 
Newcastle " Dr. Rotheram, a physician in this town 
visits the prisoners veiy assiduously, without fee 
or reward." l At Carlisle " the gaol fever, which 
some years ago carried off many of the prisoners, 
did not deter Mr. Parish from visiting the sick 
every day." 2 At Bristol he tells us that " the 
Rev. Mr. James Ronquet has been unwearied in 
attention to the spiritual and temporal interests 
of the prisoners, officiating near twenty years 
without a salary. He had only once a gratuity 
of <20." 3 At Huntingdon, Howard found to his 
sorrow, at his visit in 1776, that "Mr. Brock, the 
late chaplain, who officiated very constantly twice 
a week, and had a salary of only ,20, was dismissed. 
He would have continued his attendance, without 
the salary, but an order was made expressly for- 
bidding it." 4 

Such was the condition of prisons in England 
when Howard began his labours. In Scotland 
and in Ireland things were not very different. 

In Scotland the condition of the prisons 
themselves was as bad as it could possibly be. 
The following defects were the chief ones noted : 

"They have no courts belonging to them, 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 423. 2 Ib. p. 429. 

3 Ib. p. 403. 4 Ib. p. 286. 


generally want water, and sewers are not clean ; 
they are not visited by the magistrates ; too 
little attention is paid to the separation of the 
sexes ; the keepers are allowed licenses for the 
sale of the most pernicious liquors the conse- 
quence of which is, that the county allowance 
being paid in money to the prisoners, they 
generally spend it in whisky instead of bread." l 

Howard was, however, struck with the smallness 
of the number of prisoners whom he found in 
those gaols which he visited, and attributed it 
partly to the shame and disgrace annexed to im- 
prisonment ; partly to the solemn manner in which 
oaths are administered, and trials and executions 
conducted ; and partly to the " general sobriety of 
manners produced by the care which parents and 
ministers take to instruct the rising generation." 2 

In Ireland, on the contrary, the gaols were 
crowded ; and one reason was, that acquitted 
prisoners were detained till they had discharged 
their fees to the Clerk of the Crown, or Peace, the 
Sheriff, gaoler, and turnkey. " Even boys almost 
naked, and under the age of twelve, are sometimes 
confined for a year or two for these fees, though 
amounting to no more than about forty shillings." 
At Kilmainham, where there were fifteen acquitted 
persons confined for fees, Howard succeeded in 
persuading the officials to relinquish their claim 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 1O2. 2 Ib. p. 196. 


to half the fees, and, by himself paying the other 
half, restored several of these unhappy creatures 
to liberty. " Some/' he tells us, " had children 
dying with the smallpox, others had hardly rags 
to cover them. But this distress had no more 
effect on the clerk of the crown, sheriffs, and 
gaolers, than to engage them to give up half 
their fees." l In one matter prison discipline in 
Ireland was distinctly in advance of that in 
England, for Howard found, not without some 
surprise, that no liquors were permitted to be sold 
by gaolers in any of the prisons that he there 
visited ; and on inquiry learnt that an Act of the 
Irish Parliament had been passed against it some 
years before. The good effects of the Act un- 
fortunately were not so great as they might have 
been, for spirituous liquors were freely introduced 
by others. Thus, at the city Marshalsea in Dublin, 
" the wives and children of the debtors, living 
with them, bring in spirits, and this makes most 
of the lower rooms gin shops." 2 In other matters 
there was no improvement, and the want of 
cleanliness may be imagined from the following 
note : " The only building designed for a bath, 
which I saw in the gaols in Ireland, was in the 
court yard at Trim, June 17, 1782. I looked 
into it, and found it was the gaoler's pigsty." 3 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 204. 2 Lazarettos, p. 80. 

3 Ib. p. 207. 




Absence of Gaol Fever in Foreign Prisons Better State of 
things generally than in England Good Rules in 
Switzerland and Holland Less Drunkenness than in 
England Abuses Horrid Dungeons at Vienna The 
Ducking-stool Torture. 

HOWARD'S researches into the condition of 
foreign prisons were made, it must be 
remembered, not primarily for the sake of dragging 
to light such abuses as might be found in them, 
but rather with the object of discovering what 
might be learnt from them by way of example, for 
the reform of prisons at home. Consequently, he 
was always on the look-out for good points, and 
for such things as might seem worthy of imitation. 
One thing which impressed him greatly was the 
absence of gaol fever. This scourge of our English 
prisons was almost if not quite unknown on the 
Continent. It is strange that it should have 
been so, for in many places the dirt and filth 
were as bad as in England, and the neglect 



of elementary sanitary precautions was as dis- 
graceful as anything that Howard had disclosed 
at home. In Denmark the Stock-house at 
Copenhagen was in a shocking state. " Dirty 
beyond description " is Howard's note ; and he 
adds that "the offensiveness of this prison always 
gave me a headache, such as I suffered at my 
first visits to English prisons." l In Sweden the 
prisons were "as dirty and offensive as those in 
Denmark/' and when Howard attended at the 
trials in the Court of Justice at Stockholm, " the 
want of fresh air, in consequence of the windows 
being shut," affected him " so much as to make 
him ill a considerable time afterwards." 2 At 
Lille, where there were small and dark dungeons 
fifteen steps underground, he actually caught 
fever from visiting the sick; 3 but of the gaol 
fever proper he found no traces anywhere. In 
Germany he testifies that the Germans were well 
aware of the necessity of cleanliness in prisons, 
and that care was generally taken to build their 
gaols and houses of correction in suitable situations. 
An exception is noted in the case of the house of 
correction at Brunswick, where, although the 
person who conducted Howard over earned a 
pan of charcoal through the rooms, " his fumigation 
could not overcome the offensiveness of this dirty 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 78. 2 It. p. 8z. 

8 Ib. p. 164. 


house." 1 At Lausanne he had a conversation 
with an eminent medical man, who " expressed 
his surprise at our gaol distemper, from which 
Switzerland was entirely free " ; and he added that 
" he had not heard of its being anywhere but in 
England." * In Italy Howard thought that from 
the heat of the climate the gaol fever would be 
very likely to prevail, but notes that he did not 
find it in any of the prisons. 3 Russia was entirely 
free from it, and he saw no symptoms of it in 
Moscow, or in any part of the country. 4 At 
Vienna, where were many " horrid dungeons," 
Howard thought that he had succeeded in 
discovering a case. In one of the dark dungeons, 
down twenty-four steps, was a poor wretch loaded 
with heavy irons and chained to the wall ; 
" anguish and misery appeared with clotted tears 
on his face. He was not capable of speaking to 
me." It seemed a clear case at first. " But on 
examining his breast and feet for petechice, or spots, 
and finding that he had a strong intermitting pulse, 
I was convinced that he was not ill of that dis- 
order." 5 

There can be no doubt that at this time England 
was behind rather than before many other 
countries, and that right principles of prison 
discipline were far better understood in several 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 71. 2 Ib. p. 125. 3 Ib. p. 117. 
4 Ib. p. 94. , B Ib. p. 103. 


states of continental Europe. It was from the 
prison for juvenile criminals at San Michele, in 
Rome, that Howard drew the motto from Cicero, 
which he prefixed to his book ; as over the door 
of this house he found inscribed what he justly 
calls "the following admirable sentence, in which 
the grand purpose of all civil policy relative to 
criminals is expressed " : Parum est improbos 
coercere poena nisi probos efficias disciplina. 1 

The wretched custom of demanding "garnish " 
from newcomers was almost peculiar to England ; 
at any rate it was "not common in foreign 
prisons." 2 In France it was strictly prohibited. 

* The State of Prisons, p. 114. 

2 Ib. p. 84. The regulations might not recognise garnish, 
but it is to be feared that it was very commonly exacted by 
the prisoners. James Choyce, a master-mariner who was 
taken prisoner by the French in 1802, certainly speaks of it 
as if it was common. " We remained five days in the prison 
at Limoges, where there were a number of French villains 
of notorious character, who insisted on our paying our foot- 
ing, and, as we had no money, tried to strip the clothes .off 
our backs. This we naturally resisted, and the jailors hear- 
ing the row put us in a separate apartment, otherwise we 
should have been stripped of every rag we had on. This we 
found to be the custom in all large gaols, where felons were 
confined, who, having nothing to lose but rags and dirt, en- 
deavoured to plunder all newcomers, whether French or 
English ; and any poor conscripts, who had deserted and 
been caught, and were sent from prison to prison till they 
reached the army, fell a prey to these merciless scoundrels." 
The Log of a Jack Tar, p. 159, cf. p. 175, where Choyce 


" If prisoners demand of a newcomer anything 
of that sort, on whatever pretence ; if, in order to 
obtain it, they distress him by hiding his clothes, 
etc., they are shut up for a fortnight in a dark 
dungeon, and suffer other punishment. They are 
obnoxious to the same chastisement for hiding one 
another's clothes, or being otherwise injurious." ] 

^i^ In general there seems to have been more 
attempt at discipline, classification, and proper 

\ separation of the sexes than in England ; and 
prisoners were less at the mercy of gaolers and 
; turnkeys. In France, Howard found " good rules 
, for preserving peace ; for suppressing profaneness ; 
for prohibiting gaolers or turnkeys abusing prisoners 
by beating them or otherwise ; forbidding their 
furnishing them with wine or spirituous liquors, 
so as to cause excess, drunkenness, etc. Keepers 
are punished for this, when known to the magis- 
strates, by a fine for the first offence ; and for the 
second by stripes. They are allowed to sell some 
things to their prisoners ; but the quality, quantity, 
and price must be such as the ordinances of police 
define and require. The turnkeys visit the dun- 
geons four times a day ; in the morning when the 
prisons are opened, at noon, at six in the evening, 

describes how he joined others in making newcomers pay 
their bien--uenu, as it was called, and " lived well that night and 
day " as the result. 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 167. 


and at ten at night. ... If the turnkeys find 
any prisoners sick, they must acquaint the 
physician and surgeon, who visit them ; and, if 
needful, order them to more wholesome rooms till 
they recover." l It is also noted that "the nom- 
ination of a gaoler belongs to the magistrates. 
When he has been nominated he is proposed to 
the procureur-general ; and if, after a careful in- 
quiry into his character, it appears that he has the 
reputation of a man of probity, he is fixed in the 
office, and takes an oath of fidelity. The office is 
freely given him without any expense whatever ; 
so that keepers are not tempted, by paying for 
their places, to oppress their prisoners : to remove 
all pretext for so doing, rents, which they formerly 
paid to the Crown, are remitted, and the leases 
given up." 2 

In Switzerland he found many excellent rules. 
Solitary confinement was the rule for the felons,, 
that they may not, said the keepers, tutor one- 

Proper care was taken of the sick. The keepers, 
were forbidden to sell to the prisoners, wine,, 
brandy, or other provisions. Gaming of any sort 
was prohibited. Care was taken for the spiritual 
wjpHjjifingr of the^prisoners. and^it^seemed to 
Howard that a principal object was""**~to~" make 

1 Tht State of Prisons, p. 168. - Ib. p. 169, 

3 Jb. p. 124. 


them better men." l He gives an amusing account 
of an escape of some prisoners at Berne, and of the 
way in which it was regarded by the authorities. 

" An old keeper having left the door of one of 
the men's wards unlocked, twelve prisoners forced 
the outer door, and walked off; the people, who 
happened to see them, suffering them to pass, 
because they supposed that they were going to 
work in the streets. When four or five of them, 
some time after, were retaken and carried to their 
old lodgings, the magistrates ordered that they 
should not be punished, considering that everyone 
must be desirous of regaining liberty. As they 
had not been guilty of assault or violence in mak- 
ing their escape, the punishment fell on the keeper 
for his negligence." 2 

What struck Howard most in this countiy, as 
also in some parts of Germany and Holland, was 
the excellent manner in which the houses of 
correction were conducted. Both in Germany 
and Holland these were white-washed every year. 
Of the enlightened principles wTuch he found to 
prevail in the last-mentioned country he speaks 
with the utmost enthusiasm. 

" Prisons in the United Provinces are so quiet, 
and most of them so clean, that a visitor can 
hardly believe that he is in a gaol. They are 
commonly (except the rasp-houses) whitewashed 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 126. 2 Ib. p. 125. 


once or twice a year ; and prisoners observed to 
me, how refreshing it was to come into the rooms 
after they had been so thoroughly cleaned. A 
physician and surgeon is appointed to every 
prison ; and prisoners are in general healthy. In 
rtiost of the prisons for criminals, there are so many 
rooms that each prisoner is kept separate. They 
never go out of their rooms ; each has a bedstead, 
straw mat, and coverlet. But there are few 
criminals, except those in the rasp-houses and spin- 
houses. Of late, in all the seven provinces, seldom 
more executions in a year than from four to six. . . 
Debtors also are but few. The magistrates do not 
approve of confining in idleness any that may be 
usefully employed ; and, when one is imprisoned, 
the creditor must pay the gaoler for his mainten- 
ance, from five and a half to eighteen stivers a day, 
according to the debtor's former condition in 

life No debtors have their wives and 

children living with them in prison, but occasional 
visits in the daytime are not forbidden. You do 
not hear in the streets as you pass by a prison, 
what I have been rallied for abroad, the cry of 
poor hungry starving debtors. The states do not 
transport convicts ; but men are put to labour in 
the rasp-houses, and women to proper work in the 
spin-houses, upon this professed maxim, " Make them 
diligent, and they will be honest." The rasping log- 
wood, which was formerly the principal work done 


by the male convicts, is now in many places per- 
formed at the mills much cheaper ; and the 
Dutch, finding woollen manufactures more profit- 
able, have lately set up several of them in those 
houses of correction. In some, the work of the 
robust prisoners does not only support them ; but 
they have a little extra time to earn somewhat for 
their better living in prison, or for their benefit 
afterwards. Great care is taken to give them 
moral and religious instruction, and reform their 
manners, for their own and the public good. The 
chaplain (such there is in every house of correc- 
tion) does not only perform public worship, but 
privately instructs prisoners, catechises them every 
week, and I am well informed that many come 
out sober and honest. Some have even chosen to 
continue and work in the house after their dis- 
charge." l 

To this account is added in a note a story of an 
Englishman who was imprisoned in the rasp-house 
at Amsterdam for some years, and was permitted 
to work at his trade of shoemaking. " By being 
constantly kept employed, he was quite cured 
of the vices that were the cause of his con- 
finement " ; and Howard was told that at his 
release he received a surplus of his earnings, 
which enabled him to set up his trade in London, 
where he lived in credit ; and at dinner com- 

1 The State of Prisons, pp. 44-46. 


monly drank " Health to his worthy masters at 
the rasp-house." l 

It is clear that Holland was at this time far 
beyond every other country in grasping the right 
principles of prison discipline ; and at the end of 
the very full account which he gives of the system 
in vogue there, Howard says : " I leave this 
country with regret, as it affords a large field for in- 
formation on the important subject I have in view. 
I know not which to admire most the neatness 
and cleanliness appearing in the prisons, the industry 
and regular conduct of the prisoners, or the humanity 
and attention of the magistrates and regents." 2 

For the most part there seems to have been far 
less drunkenness in foreign prisons than was 
customary in England. Even then our national 
vice was conspicuous. In many places abroad 
spirituous liquors and gaming were strictly pro- 
hibited ; and only very occasionally does Howard 
note, as in one place in Sweden, that " the gaoler 
here, as in the other prisons, sells liquors. His 
room, like those I have too often seen in my own 
country, was full of idle people who were drink- 
ing." 3 A proper allowance of food seems also to 
have been more general than in England. It is 
true that in Russia both felons and debtors had to 
subsist, as best they could, on voluntary contribu- 
tions, and " alms received from passengers in little 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 46. 2 Ib. p. 66. 3 Ib. p. 83. 


boxes placed before the windows"; 1 but else- 
where Howard generally found that the food 
allowed was superior in quality and quantity to 
what was customary in England. In France it 
was decidedly better. 2 This was also the case in 
Holland, and so struck was Howard with the 
provision made at the rasp-house at Rotterdam 
that he gives the regulation for the daily diet for 
a week in full ; 2 and certainly, if the regulation 
was properly adhered to, the prisoners here had 
nothing to complain of. 

Turkey is a country from which it was scarcely 
to be expected that England would have been 
able to learn much in the way of prison discipline. 
Yet even there Howard found that, in the midst 
of much which shocked and horrified him, there 
were some things which were better managed 
than at home. Thus he notes that "in those 
cities which I have seen in Turkey the debtors 
have a prison separate and distinct from the 
felons," and adds that "without such a separation 
in England, a thorough reformation of the gaols 
can never be effected." 3 Again, he was struck 
with the stillness and quietness of the prisons at 
Constantinople, for which he was "at a loss to 
account," until he "reflected that the only 
beverage for the prisoners is water." 4 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 87. a Ib. p. 48. 

3 Lazarettos, p. 62. 4 Ib. p. 63. 


There were of course plenty of horrors to be 
found in almost every country which Howard 
visited. Even in those countries in which right 
principles of prison discipline were understood, 
and good regulations obtained, the administration 
was often faulty. In many countries loathsome 
dungeons and deliberate cruelty seemed to be 
the rule rather than the exception. At Vienna 
he found very few of the dungeons empty. 

" Some had three prisoners in each dungeon ; 
and three horrid cells I saw crowded with twelve 
women. All the men live in total darkness, and 
are not permitted to make any savings from their 
daily allowance (of four creutzers) for the purpose 
of procuring light. They are chained to the 
walls of their cells, though so strong, and so 
defended by double doors, as to render such a 
security needless. No priest or clergyman had 
been near them for eight or nine months ; and 
this is reckoned, even by these criminals, so 
great a punishment, that they complained to 
me of it with tears, in the presence of their 
keepers." x 

In the same city he noticed that the bakers 
were punished for frauds "by the severity and 
disgrace of the ducking-stool." 

" This machine of terror, fixed on the side of 
the Danube, is a kind of long pole or board, 

1 Lazarettos, p. 66. 


extending over the water, at one end of which 
the delinquent, being fastened in his basket, is 
immersed." l 

Strange to say, a somewhat similar practice 
was not entirely unknown in England, for, at 
the Liverpool bridewell, Howard discovered a 
bath with "a. new and singular contrivance." 
At one end of the bath was "a standard for a 
long pole, at the extremity of which was fastened 
a chair. In this all the females (not the males) 
at their entrance, after a few questions, were 
placed, with a flannel shift on, and underwent a 
thorough ducking, thrice repeated. An use of 
the bath," he adds, " which I daresay the legis- 
lature never thought of, when in their late Act 
they ordered baths with a view to cleanliness 
and preserving the health of the prisoners ; not 
for the exercise of a wanton and dangerous kind 
of seventy." 2 

Bad as things were, it is pleasant to feel that 
in one matter England was distinctly in advance 
of most other countries ; for although, as we 
have seen, irons were customary for the safe 
custody of the prisoners, and there was a terrible 
amount of wanton cruelty practised by gaolers, 
yet the deliberate infliction of torture, either by 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 105. 

2 Ib. p. 437. On a later visit Howard was glad to find 
that " this use of the bath was discontinued." 


way of punishment or to extract a confession, 
was happily a thing of the past. 1 This was by 
no means universally the case on the Continent. 
In Sweden, it is true, it had just been abolished 
by the reigning monarch, Gustavus in., who had 
ordered a dark cellar, applied to that purpose 
in the great prison at Stockholm, to be bricked 
up. 2 So also in Prussia, Frederick the Great 
had set the example in Germany of abolishing 

1 It is the boast of the common law of England that it 
never recognised torture as legal. In spite of this, how- 
ever, torture was for some centuries habitually inflicted, both 
as a means of obtaining evidence and as a part of punish- 
ment, being ordered by the Crown or Council, or by some 
extraordinary tribunal like the Star Chamber. In Henry 
vi. 's reign the rack was first introduced into the Tower, 
and under the Tudors torture was in frequent use. A list 
of the principal kinds of torture employed at the Tower 
is given by Lingard (History of England, vol. vi., Appendix), 
including the rack, the scavenger's daughter, iron gaunt- 
lets, and little ease. It should be added that the feme 

forte et Jure, suffered by prisoners who refused to plead, 
differed from torture in nothing but name. In cases where a 
prisoner stood mute, he was condemned to be stretched 
upon his back, and to have iron laid upon him as much 
as he could bear and more ; and so to continue, fed upon 
bad bread and stagnant water through alternate days, until 
he pleaded or died. The last case of this inhuman treat- 
ment of a prisoner seems to have occurred in 1726, but 
it was not legally abolished until a year or two before 
Howard began his labours (12 George ra. c. 20). See the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Art. "Torture." 

2 The State of Prisons^ p. 82. 


the cruel practice. Elsewhere it was still 
customary. Of Hanover Howard writes : 

"The execrable practice of torturing prisoners 
is here used in a cellar where the horrid engine 
is kept. The time for it is, as in other countries, 
about two o'clock in the morning. A criminal 
suffered the Osnaburg torture twice, about two 
years ago ; the last time, at putting to him the 
third question (the executioner having torn off 
the hair from his head, breast, etc.), he confessed, 
and was executed. On such occasions a counsellor 
and secretary attend, with a doctor and surgeon, 
an Osnaburg executioner, and sometimes the gaoler. 
If the criminal faints, strong salts are here 
applied to him, and not vinegar, as in some 
other places." l 

At Hamburg one of the most excruciating 
instruments of torture that Howard ever saw 
was kept and used in a deep cellar of the prison. 
" It ought," he says, " to be buried ten thousand 
fathoms deeper. It is said the inventor was the 
first who suffered by it; the last was a woman, 
a few years ago." 2 

At Mannheim the prisoners committed to the 
Maison de Force were " commonly received in form 
with what is called the bien venit. A machine is 
brought out, in which are fastened their necks, 
hands, and feet. Then they are stripped ; and 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 99. 2 Ib. p. 70. 


have, according as the magistrate orders the 
grand venu of twenty to thirty stripes, the demi 
venu of eighteen to twenty, or the petit venu 
of twelve to fifteen ; after this they kiss the 
threshold and go in. Some are treated with 
the same compliment at discharge. The like 
ceremony is observed at many other towns in 
Germany." l 

At Nuremburg was one of the worst prisons 
Howard ever saw. " The dark, unhealthy 
dungeons, and the dismal torture chamber, do 
no honour to the magistracy of this city." Here 
he .found that the gaoler was accustomed to 
make use of what he calls "a low trick," to 
prevent the escape of his prisoners, " by terrifying 
them with the apprehension of falling under the 
power of witches " ! 2 

Osnaburg was even worse. Indeed, the state 
of things here was so disgraceful that Howard 
was tempted to omit all mention of it ; and 
only inserted an account of it, in the hope that 
it might lead to some reform. There were 
seventeen chambers for criminals, with no light 
but by a small aperture over each door. In 
one of these Howard found an unfortunate 
prisoner who had been confined for three years, 
and had survived the cruelty of the torture, the 
method of which was "more excruciating than 

1 The State of Prison, p. 135. 2 Ib. p. 130. 



in most other countries/' and was commonly 
known by the name of the Osnaburg torture. 1 

At Munich, in the Prison de la Cour, was a 
"black torture room," of which he gives the 
following description : 

" In this room there is a table covered with 
black cloth and fringe. Six chairs for the 
magistrates and secretaries, covered also, with 
black cloth, are elevated two steps above the 
floor, and painted black. Various engines of 
torture, some of which are stained with blood, 
hang round the room. When the criminals 
suffer, the candles are lighted ; for the windows 
are shut close, to prevent their cries being heard 
abroad. Two crucifixes are presented to the 
view of the unhappy objects. But it is too 
shocking to relate their different modes of cruelty. 
Even women are not spared." 2 

Nothing, however, surpasses the account given 
of the two prisons, known as the old and the 
new, at Liege. 

" In two rooms of the old prison I saw six 
cages made very strong with iron hoops, four 
of which were empty. (The dimensions were 
seven feet by six feet nine inches, and six feet and 
a half high. On one side was an aperture of six 
inches by four, for giving in the victuals.) These 
were dismal places of confinement, but I soon 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 67. - Ib. p. 129. 


found worse. In descending, deep below ground 
from the gaoler's apartments, I heard the moans 
of the miserable wretches in the dark dungeons. 
The sides and roofs were all stone. In wet 
weather, water from the fosses gets into them, 
and has greatly damaged the floors. Each of 
them had two small apertures, one for admitting 
air, and another, with a shutter over it strongly 
bolted, for putting in food to the prisoners . . . 
The dungeons in the new prison are abodes of 
misery still more shocking; and confinement in 
them so overpowers human nature, as sometimes 
irrecoverably to take away the senses. I heard 
the cries of the distracted as I went down into 
them. One woman, however, I saw, who (as I 
was told) had sustained this horrid confinement 
forty-seven years without becoming distracted. 
The cries of the sufferers in the torture-chamber 
may be heard by passengers without, and guards 
are placed to prevent them from stopping and 
listening. A physician and surgeon always attend 
when the torture is applied ; and, on a signal 
given by a bell, the gaoler brings in wine, vinegar,, 
and water, to prevent the sufferers from expiring. 
1 The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.' " l 

Passing to France, we find that torture was 
still customary in some prisons there. At 
Avignon, where Howard noticed the rings, 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 137. 


pulleys, etc., for the torture, the gaoler told him 
that he had seen drops of blood mixed with 
the sweat, on the breasts of some who had 
suffered it. 1 

In Russia the punishments were hideously 
cruel. In St. Petersburg Howard was shown 
all the instruments commonly used, including a 
machine (happily already disused) for breaking 
the arms and legs, an instrument for slitting or 
lacerating the nostrils ; and the knout, or knoot, 
as he always writes it. He was also present at 
the infliction of this terrible punishment upon 
two criminals, one of whom was a woman, who 
received twenty-five strokes, her companion re- 
ceiving sixty, after which "both seemed but 
just alive." 2 

Even in Switzerland Howard found " excruciat- 
ing engines of torture," at Freyburg. 3 At Geneva 
he "hoped to have found no torture-chambers," 
but "had only the pleasure to hear that none 
had suffered in them these twenty-five years." 4 

1 Lazarettos, p. 52. 2 The State (^Prisons, p. 86. 

3 16. p. 115. 4 Ib. p. 124. 



Death of Howard's Sister Renewed Investigations into the 
State of Prisons The Question of Transportation The 
Hulks Act for the Establishment of Penitentiaries 
Foreign Tour Accident at Amsterdam Letters from 
Abroad Visit to a Capuchin Convent Return to 
England Investigation into the Condition of Prisoners 
of War Tour in England, Scotland, and Ireland Diffi- 
culties concerning the Penitentiaries Howard resigns 
his Office as Commissioner Foreign Travel Letter 
from Moscow Howard and the King's Courier Visit 
to Ireland Travels in Spain The Inquisition Letters 
from Spain Second Edition of The State of Prisons 

THE first three months of 1777 were, as we 
have already seen, occupied with the 
printing of the first edition of The State of 
Prisons, the dedication of which to the House of 
Commons bears date Cardington, April 5, 1777. 
Of Howard's movements during the remainder of 
the year we have scarcely any notices. As far as 
we can gather no prisons were visited by him. 

It is probable that the greater part of the year 



was spent in the enjoyment of a well-earned rest 
at Cardington. In August, however, the rest was 
broken by a summons to London, owing to the 
illness of his sister, which terminated fatally before 
he could arrive, as he describes in the following 
curious letter to his servant Thomasson : 

''THOMAS, I got to town about seven o'clock 
this morning, but alas ! too late to see my poor 
sister, and take one final leave. She died five 
o'clock yesterday afternoon. You will come to 
town on Friday, bring all my black clothes 
butter, cheese, sage, balm, and mint. Ann will 
buy a mourning gown. I will pay for it. I hope 
to be down some time next week. Yours, 

August 13, 1777." 

Miss Howard, by her will, left to her brother a 
sum of ,15,000 and her house in Great Ormond 
Street. This accession to his fortune was 
evidently not unwelcome. The expenses of his 
journeys must have been enormous ; and we can 
well believe an admission, made later on to Mr. 
Whitbread, that he had been somewhat involved 
by his reforming schemes. 2 But he had no 
intention of using the legacy for his own comfort. 

1 Brown's Life, p. 227. 

2 The statement occurs in a letter to Mr. Whitbread, of 
June 21, 1785, quoted in Field's Correspondence of John Howard, 
p. 88. 


It was regarded by him as a " talent for which he 
would have to give account." l He felt that his 
son was well provided for, and accordingly he had 
no scruple in devoting the legacy to the prosecu- 
tion of his benevolent designs. The house was 
presently sold, and the whole amount of the funds 
that accrued to him seems to have been spent in 
the cause to which he had devoted his life. 

Howard's rest at Cardington was of no long 
duration. The first days of the following year, 
1778, saw him busily engaged again on his in- 
vestigations. For some time he had devoted 
much thought to the question of transportation, 
which had been a customary penalty for grave 
offences for the greater part of the century. It 
grew naturally out of the laws which prescribed 
banishment for certain offences, and was definitely 
established by an Act of Parliament passed in the 
reign of George i. (1718), whereby offenders who 
had escaped the death penalty were handed over 
to contractors who engaged to transport them to 
the American colonies. 2 The evils which at- 
tended the system were manifold. Howard was 
fully alive to them. He regarded transportation 
as " impolitic," and as " always injurious to the 
community." He had, as he tells us in the Intro- 

1 Brown's Life, p. 228. 

2 The sums paid to these gentlemen figure under the head 
of " Transports " in Howard's book, see above, p. 56. 


duction to his book on Prisons, " taken some pains 
to make inquiries concerning the state of Tran- 
sports, with regard to whom many cruelties and 
impositions were commonly practised, and whose 
condition was in many respects equally contrary 
to humanity and good policy." He hoped also 
that he had " discovered means of remedying 
these evils in a considerable degree, and of dis- 
burthening the counties of a heavy expence with 
which they were charged," l when an entirely 
new turn was given to the matter by the change 
of relations which had recently taken place be- 
tween England and her colonies. The American 
colonies, to which the convicts had till now been 
transported, had declared their independence in 
1773, and had thus introduced a dead lock. 
Their independence was not yet recognised by 
England. The law still required transportation ; 
but the colonies would no longer receive the 
convicts. Accordingly, the British Government, 
making a virtue of necessity, in 1776 passed an 
Act " to authorise for a limited time the punish- 
ment, by hard labour, of offenders who for certain 
crimes are or shall become liable to be transported 
to any of His Majesty's colonies and plantations." 
The plan adopted was to confine such criminals 
and it was estimated that provision must be made 
for at least a thousand annually in hulks on the 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 42. 


Thames, or elsewhere ; and there to employ them 
in hard labour. These hulks Howard had visited 
in the autumn of 1776, and he was horrified with 
what he found there. With characteristic self- 
restraint, however, he refrained from exposing 
the evils in his book, which was published in the 
following year, considering that it was a new 
departure for which sufficient trial had not yet 
been given, and that the arrangement was not 
intended to be a permanent one. He contented 
himself, therefore, with the following note : 

" I went one Sunday in October last to see the 
men-convicts on board the Justitia, near Woolwich. 
I wished to have found them more healthy ; and 
their provision good of the sort; and to have 
joined with them in divine service. But as the 
scheme is new, and temporary, I am not willing 
to complain." l 

But although Howard did not expose in public 
the abuses which he witnessed, his investigations 
were not without result. He probably spoke with 
his customary plainness to those in authority. 
Anyhow, when he paid a second visit to the hulks 
in January 1778, he was pleased to find that in 
many ways a better state of things was prevailing, 
although there was still plenty of room for im- 
provement. Parliament now took the matter up, 
and a Select Committee of the House of Commons 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 76 (ed. I.). 


was appointed to inquire into the measures which 
had been pursued for carrying into effect the Act 
of 1776 referred to above, and into the results 
obtained under it. Before this Committee Howard 
was examined on April 1 5 ; nor did he shrink from 
detailing before the representatives of the country, 
the horrors which he had generously suppressed 
in his book. In answer to the questions put to 
him, he " gave an account of his first visit to the 
Justitia, in which he stated that he saw the con- 
victs all together upon deck, and found, by their 
wretched appearance, that there was some mis- 
management in those who had the care of 
them. Many had no shirts, some no waistcoats, 
some no stockings, and others no shoes. Several 
of them required medical attendance, but had 
none. By waiting to see their messes weighed 
out, he ascertained that the broken biscuit actu- 
ally given to them was green and mouldy, though 
that which the captain showed him as a sample 
was good and wholesome, a piece of deception for 
which he indignantly reproached him, as he con- 
victed him of falsehood, by showing him the 
biscuit in the face of the whole crew. In every 
other respect, these poor wretches were as miser- 
ably neglected. Even the sick who were only 
separated from the healthy, if any such there 
could be in this loathsome prison, by a few 
boards roughly nailed together, had nothing to 


sleep upon but the bare decks. Their drink was 
water, and many of them told him in a whisper, 
lest their inhuman task-masters should overhear 
their complaints, that their meat was much 
tainted. With so much food for pestilence, we 
need not wonder that he discovered, in this ill- 
conducted hulk, a disagreeable smell, like that of 
a gaol ; or that he should express his decided 
conviction, that had not the Legislature turned its 
attention to the subject, instead of a third or a 
fourth part, all the convicts confined here would 
have been lost." l Howard further gave evidence 
of the improved state of things which he found 
on the occasion of his second visit, and took the 
opportunity of bringing before the Committee 
the disgraceful state of the bridewells of the 
country, pointing out that they were utterly 
inadequate to receive the convicts for whom it 
was necessary to make provision. 

The result of the inquiry was, on the whole, 
favourable to the system of the hulks as against 
transportation. The Committee recommended 
its continuance, and an Act was passed to render 
the system permanent. At the same time a Bill 
was prepared for the establishment of a proper 
system of penitentiaries and houses of correction, 
such as those which Howard had seen and had 

1 Brown's Life, p. z$z, quoting the Journals of the House 
of Commons. 


so highly approved of in Holland and elsewhere. 
In the form in which it passed and received the 
royal assent on June 30 of this year, this Act pro- 
vided for the erection of two penitentiary houses 
in Middlesex, Essex, Kent, or Surrey, and en- 
trusted the superintendence of the execution of 
the Act to three Commissioners, namely, Dr. 
Fothergill, Mr. Whatley, the Treasurer of the 
Foundling, and Howard himself. Some time, 
however, before the Bill passed, Howard was out 
of England, for, in order to gain more information 
upon this subject, he started, only two days after 
his examination before the Committee of the 
House of Commons, on a fresh tour abroad. This 
tour occupied the greater part of the year. He 
began by revisiting Holland, where he was de- 
layed for some time by a rather serious accident ; 
being knocked down in the streets of Amsterdam 
by a runaway horse. He was badly bruised, and 
a good deal shaken by the fall ; and although he 
managed after a few days to move on to the 
Hague, he was there confined to his room for 
more than six weeks by an inflammatory fever 
due to the effects of the accident. 1 As soon as 
ever he was able to travel again, he resumed his 

1 With characteristic courtesy Howard refers in a note to 
the kindness and friendship which he received on this 
occasion from Sir Joseph Yorke, the English ambassador at 
the Hague (The State of Prisons, p. 66). 


investigations. He visited the Rasp and Spin 
houses in most of the towns in Holland, and 
passed on from thence to Germany, whence he 
wrote the following letter to his friend, the Rev. 
T. Smith : 

John Howard to the Rev. Thomas Smith. 

"BERLIN, June, 28, 1778. 

" DEAR SIR, It is with pleasure I heard by 
John Prole's letter which I received last Thurs- 
day (on my arrival), that you are at Cardington ; 
it gives me pleasure to think that a place on 
which I have employed so many of my thoughts 
should afford my friend any entertainment. My 
pain and fever, brought on by the accident I met 
with in Holland, made me almost despair of 
accomplishing my journey, or even ever returning 
to England ; but, through sparing mercy, I am 
recovered, and have now the pleasing hope before 
me. I was presented on Friday to Prince Henry, 
who very graciously conversed with me ten 
minutes, and said, ' He could hardly conceive of a 
more disagreeable journey, but the object was 
great and humane.' 

"We are here just on the eve of an important 
event the king of Prussia in Silesia, and the 
Emperor encamped within a few miles of him, 
40,000 men ready to destroy one another, as the 
prejudices or passions of an arbitrary monarch 
may direct. This would be a matter of great con- 
cern to a thinking mind, had it not the firm belief 
of a wise and over-ruling Providence. I hope 
in about a fortnight to be clear of the armies 


and to be at or near Vienna, till which time a 
thought of England is too distant. 

" I have both parts of this day joined with the 
French Protestants, a pleasure I shall be debarred 
of many weeks. I am here nobly lodged, drank 
tea this afternoon with Prince Dolgoruky, the 
Russian Ambassador, yet I thirst for the land of 
liberty, my Cardington friends, and retreat. 

" Please, Sir, to tell John Prole I observe the 
contents of his letter ; I shall write in five 
or six weeks, and that I must build no more 
cottages (as he is still fetching materials to finish 
the last), till I have quite done with my gaol 

"Through the Hanoverian dominions and that 
part of Germany I have seen, there is prospect of 
great plenty of corn, which must prevent it being 
very dear in England. I take my leave with 
affectionate compliments to Mrs. Smith, and a 
kiss for the babe ; and accept the tenderest 
assurances of regard from, dear Sir, your friend 
and servant, 


" Thermometer 79 in the shade. 

"I beg to be remembered to any inquiring friends 
at Bedford, that I am well ; and in spirits to under- 
take any enterprise but one, which I hope never 
more will be pressed on me, 1 as totally destructive 
of that tranquillity and ease, in which I hope to 
pass the few remaining years of my life. 

J The allusion is clearly to the suggestion that he should 
again contest the borough of Bedford at the next election, 
cf p. 49. 


" Adieu, my friend. Let me share your serious 

"J. H. 

"To the REV. MR. SMITH. 

Cardington, near Bedford (Angleterre)." 

From Germany Howard proceeded to Austria 
and Italy, countries that he had not previously 
visited since he began his investigations. To this 
tour belongs an amusing incident, the account 
of which is given by Brown. Howard was visit- 
ing a Capuchin convent at Prague, and " found 
the holy fathers at dinner round a table, which, 
though it was meagre day with them, was sump- 
tuously furnished with all the delicacies the 
season could afford, of which he was very politely 
invited to partake. This, however, he not only 
declined to do, but accompanied his refusal by a 
pretty severe lecture to the elder monks, in which 
he told them that he thought they had retired 
from the world to live a life of abstemiousness 
and prayer, but he found their monastery a house 
of revelling and drunkenness. He added, more- 
over, that he was going to Rome, and he would 
take care that the Pope should be made ac- 
quainted with the impropriety of their conduct. 
Alarmed at this threat, four or five of these holy 
friars found their way the next morning to the 
hotel at which their visitor hadj ; taken up his 
abode, to beg pardon for the offence they had 


given him by their unseemly mode of living, and 
to entreat that he would not say anything of 
what had passed at the Papal See. To this 
request our countryman replied, that he should 
make no promise upon the subject, but would 
merely say that if he heard that the offence was 
not repeated, he might probably be silent on 
what was past. With this sort of half-assurance 
the monks were compelled to be satisfied ; but, 
before they took leave of the heretical reprover 
of their vices, they gave him a solemn promise 
that no such violation of their rules should again 
be permitted, and that they would keep a con- 
stant watch over the younger members of their 
community, to guard them against similar ex- 
cesses ; and here the conference ended." 1 

After this some time was spent by Howard in 
Italy, where, among other places, he visited 
Florence, Rome, and Naples, investigating the con- 
dition, not only of the gaols, but also of the hospitals 
and charitable institutions, of which he had heard 
much and in which he was greatly interested. 
From Italy he returned to Switzerland and some 
parts of Germany which he had not previously 
visited ; and towards the close of the year we find 
him back in Holland, whence he journeyed to 
France. Here he interested himself in the con- 

1 Brown, quoting Thomasson's MS. Journal, in Life, etc., 
P. H9- 



dition of the English prisoners of war who were 
confined at Calais and Dunkirk, and was success- 
ful in obtaining some alleviation of their lot, 
though he was informed by the French officials 
interviewed, that they had received great com- 
plaints from French prisoners, similarly situated 
in England, of the treatment which they had 
there received. The information was of a kind 
that Howard was not likely to neglect. On his 
return to England, at the beginning of 1 779? he at 
once waited on the Commissioners of the Sick and 
Wounded Seamen, and not only gave them an 
account of the English prisoners in France, but 
also informed them of his intention to visit the 
French prisoners in England. A short rest was 
taken at Cardington during his boy's holidays ; 
but no sooner were these over than he began a 
third systematic visitation of English prisons, in 
order to see what improvements had been made in 
consequence of the recent Acts of Parliament. 
These he was desirous of laying before the public, 
in an appendix to his book. Mindful of his 
promise to inquire into the condition of French 
prisoners in England, he commenced his tour by 
visiting those parts of the country where the 
majority of such prisoners were confined. As 
might be expected, he found that things were 
very far from satisfactory, for, though the Com- 
missioners seem to have been sincerely anxious to 


do their best, yet the prisoners were far too much 
at the mercy of their local agents, who, in several 
instances, proved unworthy of the trust reposed 
in them. Howard, therefore, strongly recom- 
mended the appointment of independent persons 
as inspectors, to report quarterly as to health, pro- 
visions, etc. He indicated also a further advan- 
tage which would result from such an appoint- 

" These prisons are usually guarded by the 
militia, and the sentinels have in several instances 
shown themselves too ready to fire on the prison- 
ers, in which they have been countenanced by in- 
experienced officers. Several persons have thus 
been killed on the spot, though perhaps there was 
no serious design of an escape. The agent is too 
much in awe of the officers to make due inquiries 
and representations on these occasions ; whereas 
an independent gentleman would probably exert 
himself in a proper manner." l 

The greater part of this year was occupied with 
this systematic visitation of English prisons, to- 
gether with those of Scotland and Ireland, to 
which he paid a second visit in the course of the 
summer. The month of November saw him once 
more established at Warrington, preparing an 
appendix to his work. This was published in 
1780, and almost simultaneously a second edition 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 189. 


of the work was issued in octavo, in which the 
additional matter collected in the appendix was 
inserted in its proper place. Howard was happy 
in being able to report that in many cases a de- 
cided improvement had taken place since he began 
his researches. Many abuses had been remedied, 
and the gaol fever was far less prevalent. Indeed 
he notes that during the course of his prolonged 
tour in 1779^ he only found one person ill of it. 
He was in Newgate, lying under sentence of 
death. 1 The appendix and second edition were 
greatly enriched, not only by the account of 
prisons in Italy and Austria, and those parts of 
Germany which Howard had not visited when the 
previous edition was published, but also by a full 
account of foreign hospitals, to the condition of 
which he had, as we have seen, recently paid 
great attention. 

During this same year (1780) much time and 
thought were devoted by Howard to the subject 
of the penitentiaries, for the erection of which 
the Act passed two years before had provided. 
Personally he had not been anxious to have any- 
thing to do directly with the measures for carry- 
ing it into effect, and had only accepted the office 
of supervisor at the earnest request of Sir William 
Blackstone, and with the express stipulation 
that his friend Dr. Fothergill, in whose judgment 

1 TAe State of Prisons, p. 468. 


he had the greatest confidence, should be joined 
with, him in the office. These two supervisors 
were thoroughly agreed, but difficulties very soon 
arose with Mr. Whatley, the third of the number, 
and with others concerned in the administration 
of the Act. Howard speaks of " constant opposi- 
tion " from " some of those whom the Act ap- 
pointed judges of the situation, plans, etc. " l 
Details were hard to settle, and upon his return 
from Warrington he found that little or no progress 
had been made with the preliminary arrange- 
ments ; and that the first thing to be done was to 
determine upon a site for the first of the penitenti- 
aries to be erected. Howard and Dr. Fothergill 
were of one mind in recommending a site at 
Islington. To this Mr. Whatley refused to agree, 
urging as against it the claims of one at Limehouse. 
Neither party would give way, and the supervisors 
being thus divided, the matter was to be referred 
to the decision of His Majesty's judges ; when, 
towards the close of the year, the death of Dr. 
Fothergill deprived Howard of the colleague 
whose appointment he had made a condition of 
his own. He was now left alone to contend with 
Mr. Whatley, whose opposition he felt most keenly. 
Consequently he came to the conclusion that the 
position was an impossible one, and that, there 
being no chance of agreement, nothing remained 

1 Lazarettos, p. 226. 


for him but to resign his office. This step he 
took at the beginning of 1781, sending in his 
resignation to Lord Bathurst, the President of 
the Council, in the following letter : 

" MY LORD, When Sir William Blackstone pre- 
vailed upon me to act as supervisor of the 
buildings intended for the confinement of certain 
criminals, I was persuaded to think that my 
observations upon similar institutions in foreign 
countries would, in some degree, qualify me to 
assist in the execution of the Statute of the 19th 
year of his present Majesty. With this hope, and 
the prospect of being associated with my late 
worthy friend, Dr. Fothergill, whose wishes and 
ideas upon the subject I knew corresponded 
entirely with my own, I cheerfully accepted his 
Majesty's appointment, and have since earnestly 
endeavoured to answer the purpose of it ; but at 
the end of two years I have the mortification to 
see that not even a preliminary has been settled. 
The situation of the intended buildings has been 
made a matter of obstinate contention, and is at 
this moment undecided. Judging, therefore, from 
what is past, that the further sacrifice of my time 
is not likely to contribute to the success of the 
plan, and being now deprived, by the death of Dr. 
Fothergill, of the assistance of an able colleague, 
I beg leave to signify to your Lordship my deter- 
mination to decline all further concern in the 
business, and to desire that your Lordship will be 
so good as to lay before the King my humble 
request, that his Majesty will be graciously 
pleased to accept my resignation, and to appoint 


some other gentleman to the office of a supervisor 
in my place. I have the honour to be With 
great respect, etc. 


Six weeks later he wrote to his former colleague, 
Mr. Whatley, who was apparently superseded, as 
three new supervisors were appointed Sir. G. 
Elliot, Sir C. Bunbury, and Dr. Bowdler. They 
were equally unsuccessful with their predecessors, 
and the scheme was finally dropped ; and a few 
years later, to Howard's disgust, a return was made 
to the " expensive, dangerous, and destructive 
scheme of transportation," 2 the recently discovered 
island-continent of Australia affording a place for 
the reception of those convicts for whom the 
United States of America were no longer available. 

John Howard to G. Whatley. 

" CARDINGTON, March 10, 1781. 

" DEAR Sm, I was last night favoured with your 
letter. I have been some time waiting for my 
dismissal, but I now suppose that I shall only see 
it in the Gazette. No one can doubt of your 
zeal for the public, who considers the honourable 
character you sustain as patron to the orphans. 

"Though we had an equal right to our own 
opinions, yet it was an unhappy affair, as it 
divided the Bench. It was natural to think that 
both they themselves and the new supervisors 

1 Lazarettos, p. ^^6. 2 Ib. p. 147. 

From an engraving in Hmvard's State of the Prisons in England and Walts 


would wish all contests obliterated, and so they 
will probably ngw fix on a spot which has not 
been proposed by any of us. 

"Two eminent physicians had given their 
opinion against building the penitentiary houses at 
Bromley (since our old friend's death), which I 
conjecture may have been another cause of an 
entirely new appointment ; yet the supposition 
above is the more probable. 

" We both have this satisfaction, that we acted 
for the best ; and this we know, we have got rid 
of a deal of trouble, which would have ended 
only with our lives. With esteem, I remain, Sir, 
your most obedient servant, 


Being now relieved from all responsibility 
Howard was free to pursue his own course. 
There were several countries of Europe, in which 
he had not as yet inspected the prisons. He, 
therefore, determined to make a more extended 
journey than any he had yet taken. He left 
England in May 1781, and spent the greater part 
of the year in inquiring into the state of prisons 
in the principal countries of Northern Europe. 
A few days were spent in Holland en route for 
Denmark, where he had never yet been. Nearly 
a week was passed at Copenhagen, where he saw 
prisoners punished by being led about the city 
in the Spanish mantle, a kind of heavy vest, 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Hoivard, p. 66. 


something like a tub, with an aperture for the 
head, and irons to enclose the neck. From thence 
he crossed the Sound to Sweden, and after 
travelling to various places in that country he 
proceeded to Russia, visiting not only St. 
Petersburg and Moscow, but Cronstadt, Wyschnei, 
Wolotschok, and Tver as well. It was on this 
journey that he was present when two criminals 
suffered the penalty of the knout, and, from what 
he saw on the occasion, he can have had no 
difficulty in believing the statement, which the 
executioner is said to have made to him, that 
criminals often died under the punishment. 

From Moscow the following letter was de- 
spatched to Cardington to Mr. Smith, describing 
his experiences and plans : 

John Howard to the Rev. T. Smith. 

"Moscow, September 7, 1781. 

" DEAR SIR, I am persuaded a line will not be 
unacceptable even from such a vagrant. I have 
unremittedly pursued the object of my journey, 
and have looked into no palaces, or seen any 
curiosities so my letters can afford little 
entertainment to my friends. I stayed above 
three weeks at St. Petersburg. I declined every 
honour that was offered me, and, when pressed to 
have a soldier to accompany me, I declined that 
also. Yet I fought my way pretty well five 
hundred miles and bad roads in less than five 


days. I have a strong, yet light and easy carriage, 
which I happily bought for fifty roubles (about 
ten guineas). This city is situated in a fine plain, 
[and is] totally different from all others, as each 
house has a garden, which extends the city eight or 
ten miles, so that four and six horses are common in 
the streets. I content myself with a pair, though 
I think I have drove to-day nearly twenty miles to 
see one prison and one hospital. I am told sad 
stories of what I am to suffer by 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 my publication 
would be translated into Russian. My next step 
is for Warsaw, about seven or eight hundred 
miles ; 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 a day or two 
before I set out from St. Petersbui-g, but I 
travelled it off, the nights last week being warm. 
I thought I could live where any men did live ; 
but this northern journey, especially in Sweden, 
I have been pinched : no fruit, no garden stuff, 
sour bread, sour milk ; but in this city eveiy 
luxury, even pine apples and potatoes. Baron 
Dimsdale and his lady will be on his retum about 
my time : we propose meeting at Berlin, but I 
am under a promise to visit Professor Camper and 
Mr. Hope in Holland, who has sent me into 
Russia an order to see the prisoners of war, so I 
cannot accompany them. I must also review 
some places in Flanders before my return. A 
line to the Post-house at Amsterdam would be a 
cordial to me. I have no time yet to write to 


John Prole ; please to acquaint my boy I am well, 
and will write to him from Warsaw. I hope Mrs. 
Smith has anything she chooses out of my garden. 
Remember me to my friends Mr. Gadsby, Mr. 
Belsham Leachs, Mr. Costins, etc. How does 

Mr. go on at ; shall I find him a useful 

neighbour, relative to my schools, etc. ? Accept 
the best wishes of, dear Sir, your affectionate 


Leaving Russia Howard passed on to Poland, 
not yet partitioned among her more powerful 
neighbours. He then proceeded once more to 
Germany, to visit some districts in which he had 
never yet examined the prisons. It is to this 
period that a story belongs which is given by Dr. 
Aikin, and which is worth inserting as an illustra- 
tion of the ' firmness ' on which Howard certainly 
prided himself not a little. 

"Travelling once in the King of Prussia's 
dominions, he came to a very narrow piece of 
road, admitting only one carriage, where it was 
enjoined on all postillions, entering at each end, to 
blow their horns by way of notice. His did so ; 
but, after proceeding a good way, they met a 
courier travelling on the king's business, who 
had neglected this precaution. The courier 
ordered Mr. Howard's postillion to turn back ; 
but Mr. Howard remonstrated, that he had 
complied with the rule, while the other had 


violated it ; and therefore that he should insist 
on going forward. The courier, relying on an 
authority, to which in that country everything 
must give way, made use of high words, but in 
vain. As neither was disposed to yield, they sat 
still a long time in their respective carriages ; at 
length the courier gave up the point to the 
sturdy Englishman, who would on no account 
renounce his rights." * 

On his way back to England he passed again 
through Flanders, and at Bruges, as usual, inspected 
the hospital, which was managed by sisters of 
charity. They asked their visitor whether he 
was a Catholic : to which he replied, " I love 
good people of all religions." Then said they, 
" We hope you will die a Catholic." 2 

The next year (1782) is marked by no foreign 
tour, but almost the whole of it was devoted to a 
fourth visitation of the gaols in all parts of 
England, and a third of those in Scotland and 
Ireland, to each of which Howard paid two visits 
in the course of the year. In Ireland he was much 
gratified by the honour done to him by Trinity 
College, Dublin, in presenting him with the 
degree of doctor of laws. But what he cared 
about still more was the passing of an Act by the 
Irish Parliament for discharging all prisoners who 

1 Aikin's Piew, etc., p. 219. 

2 The State of Prisons, p. 149. 


were confined for fees only. He was glad also to 
find that the House of Commons had taken up the 
subject of prison discipline, and had appointed a 
Gaol Committee to make inquiries, to which he 
was able to give valuable information. Another 
subject which greatly interested him was the 
condition of the Protestant Charter Schools, of 
which glowing accounts had been given to the 
public. Of the truth of these accounts he had 
his suspicions, which the investigations he now 
made proved to be only too well founded. The 
schools were in a shocking condition ; their 
administration was radically bad, and they 
demanded a thorough Parliamentary inquiry. 
Howard was unable to go into the subject as 
fully as he desired at this present time, but he 
made sufficient notes to enable him to add a 
short section on the subject in the next edition 
of his book ; and, as will be seen later on, he 
subsequently returned to the inquiry, and made 
a more thorough investigation of it. 

The beginning of 1783 saw him once more 
starting on his travels abroad. Except Turkey, 
the only countries in Europe which he had never 
yet visited were Spain and Portugal. To these 
he now turned his steps. On the last day of 
January he sailed from Falmouth for Lisbon. 
Here, to his great disappointment, he failed to 
gain admittance into the Inquisition, and was 


obliged to content himself with inspecting the 
other prisons and the hospitals. Entering Spain 
by way of Badajos, on March 9, he renewed his 
attempts to secure admission into the prisons of 
the Inquisition. At Madrid he obtained from a 
friend an introduction to the Inquisitor General, 
who received him early one morning, and con- 
ducted him to the tribunal, which was hung with 
red. " Over the inquisitor's seat there was a 
crucifix, and before it a table, with seats for the 
two secretaries, and a stool for the prisoner." 
These very ordinary objects were all that he was 
allowed to see, as, in spite of his urgent request, 
the Inquisitor declined to show him any other 
part of the prison. 1 At Valladolid he managed 
to see a little more. 

" I was received at the inquisition prison by the 
two inquisitors, their secretaries, and two magis- 
trates, and conducted into several rooms. On 
the side of one room was the picture of an 
Auto-de-Fe in 1667, when ninety-seven persons 
were burnt ; at this time the Spanish Court 
resided at Valladolid. The tribunal room is like 
that at Madrid, but has an altar, and a door (with 
three locks) into the secretary's room, over which 
was inscribed, that the greater excommunication 
was denounced against all strangers who presume 
to enter. In two other tribunal rooms were the 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 160. 


insignia of the Inquisition. In a large room, I saw 
on the floor and shelves many prohibited books, 
some of which were English ; in another room I 
saw multitudes of crosses, beads, and small 
pictures. The painted cap was also showed 
me, and the vestments for the unhappy victims. 
After several consultations, I was permitted to 
go up the private staircase, by which prisoners 
are brought to the tribunal ; this leads to a 
passage with several doors in it, which I was 
not permitted to enter. On one of the secretaries 
telling me, ' None but prisoners ever enter those 
rooms,' I answered I would be confined for a 
month to satisfy my curiosity ; he replied, ' None 
come out under three years, and they take the 
oath of secrecy.' I learnt, by walking in the 
court and conversing with the inquisitors, that 
the cells have double doors, and are separated 
by two walls, to prevent prisoners conversing 
together, and that over the space between the 
Avails there is a sort of chimney or funnel, enclosed 
at the top, but having perforations on the sides, 
through which some air and a glimmering of 
light enter. These funnels, the inquisitors told 
me, are double-barred ; and one of them serves 
two cells. Both the inquisitors assured me that 
they did not put irons on any of their prisoners. 
The passages into which some of the cells open 
have small apertures for the admission of light. 


In a gloomy area at the back of the prison, there 
was nothing but a great mastiff dog. It is well 
known that from this court there is no appeal. 
I need not say how horrid the secrecy and severity 
of it appear. I could not but observe that even 
the sight of it struck terror into the common 
people as they passed. It is styled, by a 
monstrous abuse of words, the holy and apostolic 
court of inquisition." * 

With this scanty information he was compelled 
to be satisfied, and shortly after he resumed his 
journey. By the middle of April he was at 
Pampeluna, whence he wrote to Mr. Smith an 
account of his travels. 

John Howard to the Rev. T. Smith. 

" PAMPLONA, ijtA April 1783. 

" DEAR SIR, I am still in Spain ; the manner of 
ti-avelling with mules is very slow. I was fourteen 
days betwixt Lisbon and Madrid (400 miles). 
You carry all your provisions ; the luxury of 
milk with my tea I seldom could get. I one 
morning robbed a kid of two cups of its mother's 
milk but I bless God I am pure well, calm 
spirits. The greatest kindness I received from 
Count Fernan Nunez, the Spanish ambassador 
at Lisbon, through whose recommendation to 
Count Compomanes every prison has been flung 
open to me : I have a letter to one of the 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 160. 


magistrates through every city that I pass. I 
have been here three days, but must stay a 
few days longer before I cross the mountains. 
The Spaniards are very sober and very honest, 
and if he can live sparingly and lay on the 
floor, the traveller may pass tolerably well 
through their country. 

" I have come into many an inn, and paid 
only five pence for the noise (as they term it) 
I made in the house ; as no bread, eggs, milk, 
or wine do they sell. Peace has not been 
declared. Many will hardly believe it ; they talk 
of General Elliot with a spirit of enthusiasm ; 
never were two nations so often at war, and 
individuals have such esteem and complacency 
one towards another. I travelled some time with 
an English gentleman, but my stops for the 
prisons, etc., not being convenient, he went off 
with his Spanish servant. I go through Bayonne, 
stopping only one day, and pitch my tent at 
Bordeaux, where I have much business, some 
horrid dungeons, etc. I am still in time for 
my Irish journey in July and August, as I 
promised the Provost, that Parliament meeting 
in October. I have very little more to do in 
England, before I go into the press, after which 
I hope to be in comfort at my own fire-side. 
Remember me to Mr. Barham, Gadsby, and our 
united friends. With much esteem, I remain, 
your friend and servant, 


" P.S. I hope you have fine weather, as I have ; 
every shutter open till night ; many towns have 


not one pane of glass thermometer 68 in the 

" The Rev. MR. SMITH, at Bedford, 
via London." 

The journey was continued through France and 
French Flanders, where Howard was detained for 
a short time by a fever caught in visiting the 
prisoners at the Tour de St. Pierre in Lille, 
where were confined "three debtors, five 
smugglers, and four vagrants." Five of these 
"were sick in a very offensive room with only 
one bed." To this illness he refers in the 
third edition of his book. " I have reason to 
be abundantly thankful for recovery from a 
fever which I caught of the sick in this prison, 
at my last visit ; and would make my grateful 
acknowledgment to that kind hand, by which I 
have been hitherto preserved." l 

After a delay of about ten days Howard was 
able to resume his journey, and to continue his 
inspection of prisons in the Netherlands and 
Holland ; and by the end of June he was back 
in England, ready for his promised journey in 
Ireland in July and August. A few more gaols 
in England remained to be visited in the autumn, 
and then he was ready for the publication of a 
fresh (second) appendix, and a third edition of 
the whole work, into which was introduced the 

1 The State of Prisons , p. 164. 



fresh information gained during the tours of 
the last few years. A large amount of new 
material had been collected by him, requiring 
new sections on Denmark, Sweden, Russia, 
Poland, Silesia, Portugal, and Spain. Moreover, 
he was anxious to note all the improvements 
and happily they were not a few which had 
taken place since he began his investigations. 
In his second edition he had been able to omit 
many of the notes of censure respecting the 
management of gaols, as to cleanliness, ailments, 
bedding, and the like, which he had previously 
thought it his duty to insert, and he was now 
thankful to erase still more. 1 The preparation 
of this new edition cost him considerable labour, 
and occupied much of his time in 1784, a year 
in which he made no journey, but apparently 
spent more time at Cardington than he had 
ever done since he first entered upon his 
philanthropic labours. He had now been engaged 
in them for ten years ; and in one of his MS. 
books he summed up the number of miles he 
had travelled in the course of his various 
journeys. This curious document came into 
Brown's hands, so that he was able to append 
it in a note to his Life, from whence it is copied 
here. 2 

1 The State of Prisons, p. 211. 2 Brown's Life, p. 651. 


An Account of the Number of Miles travelled on the 
Reform of Prisons. 


In Great Britain and Ireland, 1773, '74, '75, '76 10.318 

First Foreign journey, 1775 1,400 

Second ditto, 1776 1,700 

Third ditto, 1778 4.636 

In Great Britain and Ireland, 1779 . . 6.490 

Fourth Foreign journey, 1781 . . 4*465 

In Great Britain and Ireland, 1782 . . 8,165 

Fifth Foreign journey, 1783 . . . 3>34 

To Ireland ...... 715 

To Worcester 238 

To Hertford, Chelmsford, and Warrington 602 

Total . . 42,033 

JOURNEYS IN 1779. 1781 

ist, Western . . . . . 534 

2nd, Southern ..... 368 

3rd, Eastern . . . . . 512 

4th, Kent, etc. . . . . . 353 

5th, Northern 957 

6th, South Wales . . . . 580 

yth, Scotland and Ireland . . . 1151 

8th, North Wales .... 690 

9th, Nottingham and Hunts . . 450 

loth, Lincolnshire and Bedford . . 500 

nth, Liverpool, etc .... 395 

Total. . 6490 8165 

To God alone be all the Praise ! I do not regret 
the loss of the many conveniences of life, but bless 
God who inclined my mind to such a scheme. 



Howard's attention turned towards the Plague Sets off on 
a Tour to inspect Lazarettos Adventures in France 
Letters from Italy Howard at Malta Voyage to 
Smyrna A Sea-fight Howard in Action Quarantine 
at Venice Bad News from England Letters Home 
Christmas at Vienna The Emperor The Countess 
Return to England Visit to Ireland Meeting with 
John Wesley Publication of the Book on Lazarettos. 

WE now enter upon a new chapter in 
Howard's life, and one that shows his 
dauntless courage and devotion to the good of 
humanity in a more striking light than any other. 
During his researches into the condition of prisons 
he had given much consideration to the subject 
of those contagious and infectious diseases which 
he had found so prevalent in them ; and visits to 
one or two lazarettos on the Continent had turned 
his thoughts in the direction of that frightful 
scourge of which Europe lived in constant dread, 



namely, the plague. This subjecthe now determined 
to investigate thoroughly, and to collect all the 
information possible for himself, in the hope that 
something might ultimately be done to stamp 
out the evil. He thus describes, in the Intro- 
duction to his book on Lazarettos, how his plans 

" In my latest tours I had with pain observed, 
that, notwithstanding the regulations which had 
been made in our own country, and elsewhere, 
for preserving health in prisons and hospitals, yet 
that infectious diseases continued occasionally to 
arise and spread in them. I had also been led, 
by the view of several lazarettos in my travels, to 
consider how much all trading nations are exposed 
to that dreadful scourge of mankind which those 
structures are intended to prevent, and to reflect 
how very rude and imperfect our own police was 
with respect to this object. It likewise struck 
me, that establishments, effectual for the preven- 
tion of the .most infectious of all diseases, must 
afford many useful hints for guarding against the 
propagation of contagious distempers in general. 
These various considerations induced me, in the 
last edition of The State of Prisons, to express a 
wish "thatsome future traveller would give us plans 
of the lazarettos at Leghorn, Ancona, and other 
places." At length I determined to procure these 
plans, and acquire all the necessary information 


respecting them, myself ; and, towards the end of 
the year 1785, I went abroad for the purpose of 
visiting the principal lazarettos in France and 
Italy. To the physicians employed in them, I 
proposed a set of queries respecting the nature 
and prevention of the plague ; but their answers 
not affording satisfactory instruction, I proceeded 
to Smyrna and Constantinople. For, although 
the subjects of the Turkish Empire be little en- 
lightened by the modern improvements in arts 
and sciences, I conceived that, from their inti- 
mate acquaintance with the disease in question, 
and from the great difference between their 
customs and manners, and ours, some practices 
might be found among them, and some informa- 
tion gained, not unworthy the notice of more 
polished nations. I also pleased myself with the 
idea, not only of learning, but of being able to 
communicate somewhat to the inhabitants of these 
distant regions, if they should have curiosity 
enough to inquire, and liberality to adopt the 
methods of treating and of preventing contagious 
diseases which had been found most successful 
among ourselves." l 

The first indication of his intention is given in 
a letter addressed to his cousin, Mr. Whitbread, on 
October 26, 1785. 

1 Lazarettos, p. I. 


John Howard to Samuel Whitbread, M.P. 

" DEAR SIR, For several months past I have 
thought on a scheme of a new publication, of an 
8vo size, for the use of those who will give sincere 
attendance on prisons, hospitals, and poor-houses. 
This I had partly resolved on before I came to 
town ; and it inclined me rather to sell than to 
let my Hackney estate. It will take me about 
eighteen months to collect new materials (three 
or four of them I shall be abroad, and shall go to- 
Marseilles), to get plans of lazarettos, and to ascer- 
tain their manner of treating the sick. If I 
thought the French would now confine me 1 I 
would endeavour to get an ambassador's protec- 
tion, or that of the Secretary of State. I know 
such schemes are liable to fatal miscarriages ; but 
I have made up my mind on the subject ; so I 
thought it proper to give you the earliest in- 
telligence of my determination. With esteem, I 
am sincerely yours, JOHN HOWARD." 

In November he left England for Holland, in- 
tending to start his inquiries at Marseilles, where 
the jealousy of the French with regard to their 
trade in the Levant made it a matter of extreme 
difficulty to obtain access to the lazarettos. An 

1 Howard's apprehension of imprisonment was probably 
due to his knowledge of the attitude of the French govern- 
ment towards him, in consequence of his having published 
in French and English a suppressed pamphlet on the Bastile. 
He had also incurred the displeasure of the authorities, 
by dissuading some of the English prisoners of war at 
Dunkirk from entering the French navy. 


attempt was made to gain permission for Howard 
to visit it, through the good offices of Lord 
Carmarthen, the Foreign Secretary. This was, 
however, unsuccessful, as Lord Carmarthen not 
only reported that "it was with some difficulty 
that even the Emperor was allowed to see the 
lazarettos," l but also assured Howard that he 
"must not think of entering France at all, as, if 
he did, he would run a risk of being committed 
to the Bastile." 2 Nothing daunted by the refusal 
of permission Howard determined to make the 
attempt without it. He crossed the frontier and 
boldly proceeded to Paris. What followed must 
be told in Brown's words. 

" Immediately on his arrival he took his ticket 
for a seat in the Lyons diligence ; and that he 
might incur less risk of discovery, lodged in an 
obscure inn, near the place whence that convey- 
ance started. Having gone to bed, however, 
according to his usual custom about ten o'clock, 
he was awoke between twelve and one by a 
tremendous knocking at his room door, which, 
starting up in somewhat of an alarm, he immedi- 
ately opened ; and, having returned to bed, he 
saw the chambermaid enter with a candle in each 
hand, followed by a man in a black coat, with a 
sword by his side, and his hands enveloped in an 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Hoivird, p. 97. 
2 Brown's Life, p. 414. 


enormous muff. This singular personage immedi- 
ately asked him if his name was not Howard. 
Vexed at this interruption, he hastily answered, 
" Yes, and what of that ? " He was again asked 
if he had not come to Paris in the Brussels dili- 
gence, in company with a man in a black wig. 
To this question he returned some such peevish 
answer, as that he paid no attention to such trifles ; 
and his visitor immediately withdrew in silence. 
Not a little alarmed at this strange adventure, 
though losing none of his self-possession, and 
being unable to recompose himself to sleep, Mr. 
Howard got up, and, having discharged his bill 
the night before, took his small trunk, and, re- 
moving from this house, at the regular hour of 
starting took his seat in the diligence and set off 
for Lyons." l On the journey he passed himself off 
as a medical man, and acted in that capacity with 
some success for a lady who was one of his fellow- 
travellers. At Lyons, although visiting the gaols 
and hospitals, he avoided publicity as much as 
possible, the secret of his identity being only 
entrusted to one or two Protestant ministers. 
The same course was followed at Marseilles, 
where, on visiting one of his Protestant friends, 
he was met with the words, " Mr. Howard, I have 
always been glad to see you till now. Leave 
France as soon as you can; I know they are 
1 Brown's Life, p. 415. 


searching for you in all directions." He also now 
learnt that the " man in a black wig " was a spy, 
and that he would have been arrested in Paris, 
but for the accident of the absence of one of the 
officials. In spite of the intelligence thus given 
him, Howard insisted on seeing all that he had 
come to see, and would not leave Marseilles until 
he had gained admission to the lazaretto. From 
Marseilles he travelled to Toulon, where, by pass- 
ing himself off as a Frenchman, he secured an 
entry to the arsenal. He was now anxious to 
visit Italy, but his friends were evidently much 
alarmed for his safety, and thought that he ran 
considerable risk of arrest if he attempted to cross 
the frontier in the ordinary way. He therefore, 
by the help of a liberal fee, induced the master of 
a small sailing vessel to smuggle him out of the 
country, and after some exciting experiences was 
safely landed in Italy. 1 To his friends at home 
he wrote the following accounts of his adventures : 

John Howard to the Ren. T. Smith. 

NICE, Jan. 30, 1786. 

" SIR, I persuade myself that a line to acquaint 
you that I am safe and well out of France will 

1 It has been thought that Howard and his friends may 
have exaggerated the risks which he ran : but the main facts 
are beyond dispute ; and there is no doubt whatever as to 
the mysterious visit paid to him in the night. 


give you pleasure. I had a nice part to act ; I 
travelled as an English doctor, and perhaps among 
the number of empirics I did as little mischief as 
most of them. I never dined or supped in public ; 
the secret was only trusted to the French Protes- 
tant ministers. I was five days at Marseilles, and 
four at Toulon. It was thought I could not get 
out of France by land, so I forced out a Genoese 
ship, and have been many days striving against 
wind and tide three days in an almost desolate 
island, overgrown with myrtle, rosemary, and 

" Last Sunday fortnight, at the meeting at 
Toulon, though the door [was] locked, and 
curtains drawn, one coming late put the assembly 
in fear, even to inquiry before the door was 
opened. I was twice over the arsenal, though 
[there is] a strict prohibition to our countrymen. 
There is a singular slave, who has publicly pro- 
fessed himself a Protestant these thirty-six years, 
a sensible good man, with an unexceptionable and 
even amiable character. The last person who was 
confined merely for his religion was released 
almost eight years ago. My friend may think I 
have taken a final leave of a perfidious, jealous, 
and ungenerous nation. 1 

" I am bound this week for Genoa, and then to 
Leghorn where a lazaretto has been built within 
these few years. I know, Sir, you will not trea 

1 Howard had the traditional eighteenth-century Englis "* 
man's dislike of the French, as the following note of 
witnesses, " However I may esteem some few of the Fre 
yet their government I dislike their national charact' 
detest' 1 (Brawn's Life, p. 421). 


any new attempt as wild and chimerical, yet I 
must say it requires a steadiness of resolution not 
to be shaken, to pursue it. 

" My best compliments to Mrs. Smith, and 
our Bedford friends ; and please to inform John 
Prole that I am well. 

" I write this with my windows open in full view 
of an orange grove, though the mountains at a 
great distance I see covered with snow. With 
my best wishes, I remain, your affectionate friend, 

" The Rev. MR. SMITH, 

Potter St., Bedford (Angleterre)." 

John Howard to Samuel Whitbread, Esq., M.P. 
"LEGHORN, Feb. 13, 1786. 

" DEAR SIR, I have the pleasure the particular 
pleasure to receive a letter from you, with the 
account of my son and several other interesting 
matters. I came here early yesterday morning 
by sea from Genoa. I have seen several lazar- 
ettos, and have received every assistance from 
the governor here as I did from the magistrates 
of Genoa ; so I have copied all the plans, and 
the regulations are given me. I have all en- 
couragement to pursue my object, and I persuade 
nyself it will be of use to mankind, 
yo " I have now taken a final leave of France. I 
m sensible that I ran a great risk, but I accom- 
i /shed my object in five days at Marseilles. At 
haveulon.I went all over the arsenal, though strict 
are bfers are given that no strangers, particularly 
the n English, shall come in. All business there is 


at a stand, and four hundred workmen were just 
discharged. Three men-of-war were on the stocks, 
but there was no timber, and there is no money. 
The misery in the southern provinces is beyond 
conception. I forced a small vessel out at 
Toulon, and was a few days in a desolate island. 
My Protestant friends thought I could not get 
out by land as my person was ascertained at 
Paiis. They were my friends, and the only 
friends I could trust, and happy I was to arrive 
at Nice, out of the country of a deceitful, jealous, 
and ungenerous people. 

" I bless God I am well, with calm and easy 
spirits. In no way do I alter my mode of living. 
I have been happy in meeting with good company, 
so that I got a bed in monasteries, etc. I can 
bear great fatigue, and when forced into disagree- 
able company, in dirty houses, I make them, and 
thus myself, as easy as possible. I go to Florence, 
Rome, and Naples, as I cannot go through Germany. 
I hope to see your son en passant. Several persons 
of different countries whom I have met, spoke in 
the highest commendation of him. I value myself 
on the relationship. 

" I thank you for your letters in Holland. They 
know of my return that way. I hope all things 
go easy in Bedfordshire. Your elegant lodge 
there I suppose is nearly finished. 

" Whether I shall be quiet at Cardingtoii a year 
or two before I die, God knows, but I must say 
I hope and wish for it. ... I direct to you the 
letter for my son. I hope he will find the happy 
medium, and be a wise and good man. 

" May I say that I see the fruits of my labour 
in France and other countries ! I rejoice and 


glory in my mode of travelling. France might 
have deprived me of liberty, but could not have 
made me miserable ; like as in the torture, there 
is an impassable line. Affectionate compliments 
to Harriet, etc. A line under your letter to 
Thompson that I am well. Can yet fix nothing 
of my servant's meeting me. I go on at a much 
easier expence. I am, dear sir, truly and affection- 
ately yours, 


This last letter indicates Howard's route. 
Landing at Nice, after an adventurous voyage 
from Toulon, he had proceeded overland to 
Genoa, and thence by sea to Leghorn, inspecting 
the prisons and lazarettos at each place. From 
Leghorn, he journeyed via Pisa to Florence, 
where he was delighted with the great improve- 
ment that had taken place in the condition of the 
prisons and hospitals, " in consequence of the great 
care and attention of the Grand Duke" since his 
visit to this city, about seven years before. " The 
prisons were white-washed ; debtors were separ- 
ated from felons ; and the number of prisoners 
was diminished." l Rome was the next place 
visited. Here he was accorded an interview with 
the Pope, Pius vi. The usual ceremonial was 
dispensed with, but, at parting, the Pope dismissed 
him with his benediction, saying, as he laid his 

1 Lazarettos, p. 57- 


hand on his visitor's head : " I know you English- 
men do not value these things ; but the blessing 
of an old man can do you no harm." After a 
fortnight in Rome, about the same time was 
spent in Naples, where he took ship for Malta, 
then under the government of the Knights of 
St. John. Sir William Hamilton, the English 
ambassador at Naples, had given him a letter 
to the Grand Master, which procured him ad- 
mission to all the prisons and hospitals. After 
inspecting them, he was asked by the Grand 
Master what he thought of all that he had seen ; 
and, with his customary candour, he spoke out 
plainly of the many abuses he had discovered. 
" But," he tells us, my " animadversions were 
reckoned too free ; yet being encouraged by the 
satisfaction which the patients seemed to receive 
from my frequent visits, I continued them, and 
I have reason to believe they produced an alter- 
ation for the better in the state of these hospitals 
with respect to cleanliness and attention to the 
patients." l To this he refers in a letter written 
to Mr. Whitbread from Zante, to which he now 
made his way, hoping there to meet with a ship 
bound for Smyrna. 

1 Lazarettos, p. 60. 


John Howard to Samuel Wkitbread, Esq., M.P. 

" ZANTE, May i, 1786. 

" DEAR SIR, I wrote to you from Naples, where 
I took shipping for Malta. As there was no 
object in my line in Sicily, we lay four or five 
days close to Messina, Catania, Syracuse, etc. 
We saw some of the awful effects of the earth- 
quake ; and even a fortnight before there was 
a shock, which the ships felt at a great distance. 
I was three weeks at Malta, to see the celebrated 
hospital, reported to have six hundred patients, 
all served by the knights, etc., in plate. My 
letter from Sir William Hamilton to the Grand 
Master flung open every place to me. At the 
first visit he promised to supply me from his 
own table with butter for my tea, and about a 
pound was directly sent to me, with promises, 
compliments, etc. In a week after, I waited 011 
the Grand Master, who asked me what I thought 
of his hospitals. I told him freely my opinion, 
and pointed out many glaring abuses and impro- 
prieties which, if his Highness would but at 
times look into his hospitals, would be redressed. 
Alas ! here was an end of all my presents ; so my 
tea was ever after with dry bread. I did not, 
however, cease visiting those places even to the 
last day, as there was a placidness in the 
countenances of the patients through the many 
alterations that were then made. I took a formal 
conge of the Religion, as there called, who are de- 
tested by the Maltese for their pride and pro- 
fligacy. In short, they are a nest of pirates, 
running on the Barbary coast, and catching all 


the little boats of fishermen and traffickers in the 
creeks, bringing them with their wives and 
children into perpetual slavery. They wear the 
cross, the ensign of the Prince of Peace, and yet 
declare eternal war and destruction to their fellow- 

" There being no ship at Malta for Smyrna, I 
came here in search of one, either for that city 
or for Constantinople, and the first fair wind one 
is expected. We have had a bad travelling year, 
constant storms in this sea ; but I am told I may 
expect good winds, as this sea is bad six months 
and good the remainder. There is a report here 
that a large Turkey ship is lost in the Levant, 
but the crew saved. We have no inns here, but 
I have a good room in the late bishop's palace, 
who died last year. I have it to myself, and 
am locked in, but the old bishop has not yet 
haunted his heretical successor. He left me an 
old chair, but bed, and even chamber articles, I 
was forced to purchase at Malta. 

"That which we call the currant in England, is 
a grape. I shall send a barrel home, to make the 
poor at Cardington a Christmas pudding. 

" My friend, I am afraid, thinks me a rash ad- 
venturer on account of my French expedition ; 
but courage and conduct accomplish many things. 
Perhaps I should not tell him I am going on my 
present expedition with but little money in my 
pocket and no credit ; yet I persuade myself that 
I shall not want. Should I draw on you I doubt 
not you will pay my drafts ; l but I spend little 

1 Mr. Whitbread was always ready to act as Howard's 
banker, and on more than one occasion Howard was in- 


money. The medical line, during the contagion, 
live very low. Everything here is very cheap, 
meat 2d. a pound. Supplies are from Turkey ; 
the Continent is about eight or ten miles off. The 
Greeks are fine figures, but the young women 
never appear till they are married. Please to 
inform my son, and any person you think proper, 
I am well. I will write to him from my next 
encampment. With affectionate compliments to 
Harriet, Lady St. John, and my worthy young 
friend Samuel. I am, most sincerely yours, 

" S. WHITBREAD, Esq., M.P." 

At Zante a passage was secured in a miserable 
Turkish boat, but Howard was lucky in doing 
the voyage in six days and a half. 1 He spent 
some time at Smyrna, examining the prisons and 
hospitals there ; after which he sailed to Con- 
stantinople, intending to travel from thence 
overland to Venice. His determination, how- 
ever, to see and experience everything for 
himself led to a change of plans, which is thus 
described in the work on Lazarettos. 

"On further consideration I determined to 
seek an opportunity of performing quarantine 
myself; and with this view to submit to the 
inconveniences of a sea voyage to Venice, the 

debted to him for advances, to enable him to meet the very 
heavy expenses in which his labours involved him. 
1 Aikin's Vie-w, etc., p. 132. 


place where lazarettos were Jirst established. 
And, in order to obtain the best information by 
performing the strictest quarantine, I further 
determined to return to Smyrna, there to take 
my passage in a ship with a foul bill." x 

The voyage thus courageously undertaken was 
an unusually long one. The vessel was detained 
by contrary winds ; nor was the risk of catching 
the plague the only danger to which Howard was 
exposed, for the ship was attacked by a Tunisian 
privateer with whom they had a " smart skirmish." 

" In this skirmish one of our cannon, charged 
with spike-nails, having accidentally done great 
execution, the privateer immediately, to our great 
joy, hoisted its sails and made off." 2 

The cannon which did such execution was, 
according to Aikin, 3 pointed by Howard himself; 
and he afterwards learnt that the captain, hold- 
ing that if they were taken the only alternatives 
before them would be death or perpetual slavery, 
had determined to blow up the ship rather than 

Arrived at Venice, Howard made trial of 
quarantine to his heart's content. He was 
placed with his baggage in a boat fastened by 
a cord ten feet long to another boat in which 
were six rowers. As they neared the shore, 

1 Lazarettos, p. IO. 2 Ib. p. 22. 

3 Aikin's fieiv, etc., p. 134. 


the cord was loosed, and his boat was pushed 
in by a long pole to the shore. Here he was 
met by the official, who conducted him to the 
"new lazaretto/' where he was to undergo his 
quarantine. He describes it as "a very dirty 
room full of vermin, and without table, chair, or 
bed." His representations of the offensiveness of 
the place secured his removal a few days later to 
the "old lazaretto," where his hopes to be more 
comfortable were disappointed, for the apartment 
appointed for him was " no less disagreeable and 
offensive than the last." A third lodging was, 
however, more comfortable, and, by the help of 
a little whitewash, was rendered "so sweet and 
fresh " that Howard soon recovered his health, 
which had suffered considerably from the in- 
sanitary character of the quarters first assigned 
to him. His judgment on the various regula- 
tions for performing quarantine was that they 
were "wise and good," but that there was "such 
remissness and corruption in executing these regu- 
lations, as to render the quarantine almost useless, 
and little more than an establishment for provid- 
ing for officers and infirm people." 1 

At Venice Howard received a budget of letters 
from England, and was much disturbed and dis- 
tressed by two pieces of news which here reached 

1 Lazarettos, p. 22. 


The former of these was a design, which had 
been started by some well-meaning but indiscreet 
admirers of his, of erecting a statue in his honour. 
The plan was first suggested in the columns of 
the Gentleman's Magazine, by a person who could 
claim only the slightest acquaintance with 
Howard. It was eagerly taken up, and for some 
months the columns of the same periodical were 
filled with suggestions of all kinds for the 
memorial. Nothing could possibly have been 
more distasteful to Howard himself. His own 
friends were well aware of it, and most of them 
would have nothing to say to the design. He 
had always shrunk from publicity, and detested 
anything approaching to display. When, there- 
fore, he was informed, by letters from home, of 
the proposal thus to honour him, he was horrified, 
and at once wrote to his friends to express his 
distress, and to beg them to use all their influence 
to stop the scheme ; following this up a little 
later by a letter sent to the promoters from Vienna, 
where he was in December, urgently requesting 
that the design might definitely be abandoned. 

" GENTLEMEN, I shall ever think it an honour to 
have my weak endeavours approved by so many 
respectable persons, who devote their time, and 
have so generously subscribed, towards a fund for 
relieving prisoners and reforming prisons. But to 
the erecting a monument, permit me, in. the most 


fixed and unequivocal manner, to declare my re- 
pugnancy to it, and that the execution of it will 
be a punishment to me. It is, therefore, gentle- 
men, my particular and earnest request, that it 
may for ever be laid aside. With great respect, I 
am, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant, 


"VIENNA, Dec. 15, 1786." 

Even this proved ineffectual, and so, when he 
returned to England early in the following year, 
the first thing he did was to write again to the 
promoters and subscribers, entirely declining to 
have anything to do with the proposed memorial, 
or to permit his name to be in any way associated 
with it. 

To the Subscribers for erecting a Statue, etc., 
to Mr Howard. 

" MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, You are entitled 
to all the gratitude I can express for the testi- 
mony of approbation you have intended me, and 
I am truly sensible of the honour done me ; but, 
at the same time, you must permit me to inform 
you that I cannot, without violating all my feel- 
ings, consent to it, and that the execution of your 
design will be a cruel punishment to me. It is, 
therefore, my earnest request, that those friends 
who wish my happiness and future comfort in 
life would withdraw their names from the sub- 
scription, and that the execution of your design 
may be laid aside for ever. 


" I shall always think the reform now going on 
in several of the gaols of this kingdom, and which 
I hope will become general, the greatest honour 
and the most ample reward I can possibly receive. 

" I must further inform you that 1 cannot per- 
mit the fund, which in my absence and without 
my consent, has been called the Howardian Fund, 
to go in future by that name ; and that I will 
have no concern in the disposal of the money 
subscribed ; my situation and various pursuits 
rendering it impossible for me to pay any atten- 
tion to such a general plan, which can only be 
carried into due effect in particular districts by a 
constant attention and a constant residence. I 
am, my Lords and Gentlemen, your obedient and 
faithful humble servant, 


" LONDON, Feb. 16, 1787." 

This was conclusive, and the scheme was 
dropped. Some persons received their subscrip- 
tions back, a sum of 200 was apportioned to the 
relief of prisoners, and the remainder of the 
money collected was invested, and employed,, 
after Howard's death, in the erection of a monu- 
ment in St. Paul's Cathedral and the striking of 
a medal in his memory. 

The other matter of which Howard received 
intelligence at Venice was of a more serious 
nature. The proposal for a statue was an 
annoyance, and nothing more. But the accounts 
which he now received of his son's behaviour 


were such as to cause him the gravest anxiety 
and most acute suffering. The boy had been 
carefully educated. At one time Howard had 
intended to send him to Eton, but the accounts 
which he received of the absence of religious 
training there decided him against it ; and young 
Howard was placed under the care of a tutor in 
the Midlands. At the age of eighteen he was 
sent to Edinburgh University, where he was 
placed under the care of Dr. Blacklock. Here, 
apparently, for the first time his conduct was 
such as to cause his father serious uneasiness, 
and he was presently removed. In 1784 he was 
entered as a Fellow Commoner at St. John's 
College, Cambridge ; and it was while he was 
there that his behaviour became so strange as 
to leave no doubt that it was due to insanity. 
Howard had always done his best to see what he 
could of him in the holidays, and certainly on 
one occasion had taken him with him on a visit 
to Ireland. But, all through his life, the boy must 
have been left far too much to the care of tutors 
and servants. One who had more to do with him 
than almost anyone else was Howard's confidential 
servant, Thomasson. Unfortunately his master's 
confidence in this man was entirely misplaced, 
and there seems to be no doubt that he en- 
couraged young Howard in a course of dissolute 
conduct, which, it is thought, may have con- 


ti-ibuted largely to the malady to which he now 
fell a victim. 

It was at Venice that the first news of the 
unhappy lad's strange conduct at Cardington, 
during his Cambridge vacations, reached his father, 
at the same time that he received the earliest 
intimation of the design of erecting a statue in 
his honour. His letters, written during his 
quarantine, are full of these subjects, and show 
the intense agitation which they caused him. 
Writing to Thomasson, in whom he still had 
unbounded confidence, after describing his 
adventure with the privateer, and speaking of 
his condition "in an infectious lazaretto," he 
says that through all his trials his steady spirits 
never forsook him, " till yesterday, on the receipt 
of my letters, the accumulated misfortunes almost 
sink me." To John Prole, his faithful bailiff, he 
writes more at length : 

" It is with great concern I hear the account of 
my son's behaviour. I fear he gives you, as well 
as others, a great deal of trouble. A great loss to 
children is their mother ; for they check and form 
their minds, curbing the corrupt passions of pride 
and self-will, which is seen very early in children. 
I must leave it to Him with whom are all hearts ; 
and sigh in secret, trusting that the blessing of 
such an excellent mother is laid up for him. As 
to another affair, it distresses my mind. Whoever 


set it afoot, I know not ; but sure I am, they 
were totally unacquainted with my temper and 
disposition. I once before, on an application to 
sit for my picture to be placed in public, hesitated 
not a moment, in showing my aversion to it. 
And, as I knew I was going on a dangerous 
expedition, Thomas will remember about the last 
words I said to him : ' If I die abroad, do not let 
me be moved ; let there be only a plain slip of 
marble placed under that of my wife's, Henrietta, 

with this inscription : " John Howard died 

aged . My hope is in Christ." ' This I said 

that Mr. Leeds and my son might know that my 
mind was fixed and still unaltered. I have set 
many engines to work to check the flames, for I 
bless God I know myself too well to be pleased 
with such praises ; when, alas ! we have nothing 
of our own but folly and sin." 

Subsequent letters from England brought fuller 
details of an even more distressing character. 
Howard was anxious to return home as fast as 
possible, but his health had suffered so seriously 
that he was unable to make a rapid journey. 
Writing from Vienna, where he was compelled 
to stop and rest for some time, to Mr. Smith, he 
explains the delay in his movements, and pours 
out his heart to his old friend on his son's un- 
happy condition. 

John Howard to the Rev. T. Smith. 

"VIENNA, December 17, 1786. 

" MY GOOD FRIEND, I acknowledge it is too 
long since I last wrote to you. Various occur- 
rences, as a traveller in an unfrequented path, have 
happened to me " perils by land, perils by water." 
After a long and dangerous voyage, the immediate 
confinement in one of the most offensive lazarettos, 
without chair, table, or a board to lay my bed on, 
with the dreadful accounts I received of my son, 
almost broke my steady spirits. The ill-judged 
zeal of some persons in another affair vexed me 
not a little ; but in this my mind was fixed a 
statue I detest ; I should have carefully avoided 
the sight of it ; it would indeed have been a 
punishment to me ; and as I have last post wrote 
to the Committee, in the most plain and unequi- 
vocal manner, I am persuaded that the affair is at 
an end. The money will be far better employed 
in the Fund for Relieving Prisoners and Reforming 
Prisons. My son's conduct is a bitter affliction to 
me ; the loss of his mother, and such a mother, to 
check and guide the infant passions ; the uninter- 
rupted health and strength he enjoyed was pro- 
ductive of many an anxious thought, yet I hoped 
the best. By my accounts he has lost his senses ; 
if so, calm restraint and confinement, with proper 
medical assistance, is necessary. I have wrote 
last post to Mr. Tatnall, with my free consent and 
full acquiescence in whatever steps he and his 
uncles may think proper to take ; as I can form 
no proper judgment at this distance ; and my 
presence or commands would have little weight 


with him, and still less, if distracted. Yet I shall 
hasten home as fast as possible ; but as my apart- 
ment at the lazaretto was as offensive as a sick- 
ward is at night (the Venetians being very dirty), 
the walls probably not washed these fifty years, 
I soon lost all stomach to my bread and tea, and 
was listless, as I have known several persons in 
similar circumstances by their confinement in our 
gaols. I talked of lime-whiting my room, but I 
soon found the prejudices the Venetians had 
against it ; so I privately procured a quarter of a 
bushel of lime, and a few days after proper 
brushes. Early one morning, three hours before 
my guard was up, I began with my valet who was 
sent to light my fires (having determined to lock 
up my guard, if he opposed me), and slacking the 
fresh lime at different times, always with boiling 
water (my brick walls and ceiling being before 
brushed down), we washed every part of my room, 
and afterwards the floor, with boiling water, and 
finished our job by noon, so that at four o'clock 
I drank my tea, and at night lay in a sweet and 
fresh room ; and in a few days my appetite and 
strength returned. I had before tried the wash- 
ing the walls with boiling water, but it had no 
effect on the infectious walls, etc. 

" I stayed a week after I left the lazaretto, at 
Venice, and in three days came by sea to Trieste ; 
I found at the former, and at this place, the slow 
hospital fever creeping upon me, by my long con- 
finement, the whole air of the lazaretto being 
infected. Mr. Murray, our last ambassador from 
Constantinople, died there of the putrid fever. 
But the sub -governor of Trieste spared me his 
easy and good carriage, and I came here last 


Tuesday, in four nights and five days ; three of 
the former I travelled, but one night I was forced 
to stop ; I am much reduced by fatigue of body 
and mind ; I have great reason to bless God that 
my steadiness of resolution does not forsake me 
in so many solitary hours. If my night fever 
keeps off, I will soon go the long stride to 
Amsterdam. Pray let me there receive a letter 
from you (at Messrs. Hopes, bankers) ; give me your 
advice, fully and freely. Is my son distracted ? 
Is it fi-om the probability of his vice and folly at 
Edinburgh ? How could Mr. receive him to 
the sacrament ? What do you advise ? My old 
servants, John Prole, Thomas, and Jos. Crockford, 
have had a sad time. I hear they have been faith- 
ful, wise, and prudent. Please to thank them 
particularly, in my name, for their conduct; two 
of them I am persuaded have acted out of regard 
to his excellent mother, who I rejoice is dead. 
Remember me to our connected friends at 
Bedford. I am, with all good wishes, ever yours, 


" P.S. Excuse writing, etc., as wrote early by a 
poor lamp. What I suffered I am persuaded I 
should have disregarded on the lazaretto, as I 
gained useful information. The regulations are 
admirable, if they were better kept. Venice is 
the mother of all lazarettos, but, O ! my son, my 

" P.S. The post not going out till this evening, 
the 19th, I just add, that I had a poor night ; 
much of my fever, though quite off now, six 
o'clock ; yet must stop two or three days longer. 


The mountain air, I hope, will take it off, and I 
shall get on by the light nights. 1 only want a 
month's rest, for indeed nobody knows what I 
have suffered this journey ; many weeks dry 
biscuits and tea ; often have I wished for a little 
of my skimmed milk. Yet I bless God for many 
comfortable Sabbaths, and my mind steadily 
approving the object I had in pursuit. Adieu, 

" To Rev. Mr. SMITH, Potter Street, 
Bedford (Angleterre)." 

During his stay at Vienna Howard was honoured 
by an interview with the Emperor, Joseph n., of 
which he gives a full account in his diary, which 
is worth transcribing. 

"Xmas Day, 1786, Vienna. I this day had the 
honour of near two hours conversation in private 
with the Emperor : his very condescending and 
affable manner gave me that freedom of speech 
which enabled me plainly and freely to tell him 
my mind. His Majesty began on his Military 
Hospital, then the Great Hospital, also the 
Lunatic Asylum, the defects of which I told him. 
On prisons I fully opened my mind : it pleased 
God to give me full recollection, and freedom of 
speech. His Majesty stopped me, and said, ' You 
hang in your country.' I said ' Yes, but death was 
more desirable than the misery such wretches 
endure in total darkness, chained to the wall 
no visitor, no priest, even for two years together ; it 


was a punishment too great for human nature to 
bear ; many had lost their rational faculties by it.' 
His Majesty asked me the condition our prisons 
were in at London. I said ' they were bad, but 
in a way of improvement ; but that all Europe 
had their eye on His Majesty, who had made such 
alterations in his hospitals and prisons.' I said 
' the object was to make them better men, and 
useful subjects.' The Emperor shaked me by 
the hand, and said I had given him much 
pleasure. The Emperor freely and openly con- 
versed with me. I admire his condescension and 
affability, his thirst and desire to do good, and to 
strike out great objects. He was not a month on 
the throne before he saw every prison and 
hospital ; now he continually and unexpectedly 
looks into all his establishments. I have seen 
him go out in his chariot with only one footman 
no guards, no attendants ; sometimes drives 
himself with only his coachman behind ; looks in- 
to everything, knows everything I think means 
well. The Emperor told his Minister he was 
greatly pleased with my visit ; I had not pleaded 
for the prisoners with soft and nattering speech 
that meant nothing : some things I advised he 
should do, others he should not do." 

To the same occasion belongs another rather 
comical incident. The governor of Upper Austria, 
in the course of a visit to Howard, made some 


inquiry as to the state of the prisons in the pro- 
vince to the government of which he had been 
appointed. "The worst in all Germany," was 
the answer, " particularly in the condition of the 
female prisoners ; and I recommend your countess 
to visit them personally, as the best means of 
rectifying the abuses in their management." 
The lady, who had accompanied her husband, 
exclaimed indignantly at this, "/ go into 
prisons ! " and abruptly quitted the room, retiring 
downstairs with such rapidity that Howard feared 
she would meet with an accident. He was not, 
however, deterred from shouting after her as she 
fled : " Madam, remember that you are a woman 
yourself, and must soon, like the most miserable 
female prisoner in a dungeon, inhabit but a small 
space of that earth from which you equally 

Shortly after this Howard was well enough to 
return to England. He reached London early in 
February 1787, only to find that his worst anti- 
cipations were realised, for his son had completely 
lost his reason, and had been brought by his 
uncles to Cardington where he was placed under 
proper control. It seemed best to leave him 
there for a time, as all hope of a recovery was not 
abandoned. Howard naturally felt that, under 
these circumstances, Cardington was no place 
for him ; and therefore it is no wonder that in a 


very short time he was off on his travels again. 
In March he began a ffth inspection of English 
gaols, which occupied him pretty constantly 
throughout the remainder of this year and the 
greater part of the next, being only broken in 
upon by a visit to Scotland, and two to Ireland, 
where he made a more thorough and searching 
inquiry into the condition of the Protestant 
Charter Schools than he had previously been able 
to do. There were thirty-eight of these schools, 
which had been founded in the interests of 
Protestantism, and, strong Protestant as Howard 
was, he would naturally have been disposed to 
regard them with favour. He was, however, 
thoroughly disgusted with the disgraceful way in 
which they were managed, and in his rounds saw 
enough of the evil of compulsory proselytism to 
lead him, when examined before a Committee of 
the Irish House of Commons, to make some strong 
remarks on the subject, and to express an earnest 
desire that free schools might be universally 
established " for children of all persuasions," and 
that " the Protestant cause " might be less regarded 
in bestowing the advantage of education upon the 
poor. 1 

It was in Dublin, during one of these visits to 
Ireland, that Howard was introduced to John 
Wesley (on June 21, 1787), who has left in his 

1 Lazarettos t p. 119. 


diary a brief notice of the interview. " I had the 
pleasure of a conversation with Mr. Howard, I 
think one of the greatest men in Europe. No- 
thing but the mighty power of God can enable 
him to go through his difficult and dangerous 
employment." l Howard was equally pleased with 
Wesley, and, speaking afterwards of the interview 
to Alexander Knox, told him how he had been 
encouraged to go on vigorously with his designs. 
" I saw in him how much a single man might 
achieve by zeal and perseverance, and I thought, 
Why may I not do as much in my way as Mr. 
Wesley has done in his, if I am only as assiduous 
and persevering? And I determined I would 
pursue my work with more alacrity than ever." 
Two years later, Howard called on Wesley in 
London to present him with a copy of his book on 
Lazarettos, but Wesley was then in Ireland, and 
Howard had to content himself with leaving the 
following message for him : " Present my respects 
and love to Mr. Wesley, tell him I had hoped to 
see him once more perhaps we may meet again 
in this world, but, if not, we shall meet, I trust, in 
a better." So far as is known the two men never 
saw each other again, but about this time Wesley 
wrote to his brother Charles (June 20, 1789) his 
opinion of Howard : " Mr. Howard is really an 

1 See Tyerman's Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. iii. pp. 
495. 58i. 


extraordinary man ; God has raised him up to be 
a blessing to many nations. I do not doubt but 
there has been something more than natural in 
his preservation hitherto, and should not wonder 
if the providence of God should hereafter be still 
more conspicuous in his favour." 

These tours ended, Howard was ready to 
publish the results of his last four years' work ; 
and for this purpose retired once more to Warring- 
ton, to superintend the printing of his new book, 
and to consult over it with Dr. Aikin. Some time 
was spent here in the autumn of 1788, and early 
in the following year the volume was ready for 
publication. It is, as its title indicates, a miscel- 
laneous work : An Account of the Principal Laza- 
rettos in Europe : with various papers relative to the 
Plague ; together with further observations on some 
foreign prisons and hospitals, and additional remarks 
on the present state of those in Great Britain and 
Ireland. Even this does not exhaust the list of 
subjects treated of, for a section of some length 
is added on the Charter Schools of Ireland. The 
portion of the work which treats of lazarettos 
and the plague is of course concerned with a 
subject which was entirely novel, but the re- 
mainder of the volume may be regarded as an 
appendix to the previous work, bringing his in- 
quiry into the condition of our prisons up to date. 
He was able to note with satisfaction the good 


results which had been obtained by the Act for 
Preserving the Health of Prisoners, and speaks 
warmly of " the liberal and humane spirit which 
engages the public to alleviate the sufferings of 
prisoners in general, and, particularly, to release 
many industrious though unfortunate debtors. 
But at this point," he was compelled to add, 
" the spirit of improvement unhappily seems to 
stop, scarcely touching upon that still more im- 
portant object, the reformation of morals in our 
prisons ; yet it is obvious that, if this be neglected, 
besides the evil consequences that must result 
from such a source of wickedness, a suspicion will 
arise, that what has been already done has pro- 
ceeded, chiefly, from the selfish motive of avoiding 
the danger to our own health, in attending courts 
of judicature. 

" In this further reformation, it will be absolutely 
necessary to begin with the capital ; for as, in my 
former visits, when I have met with the gaol fever 
in country prisons, I have been almost constantly 
told, that it was derived from those in London ; so 
the coiTuption of manners also, flowing from that 
great fountain, spreads far and wide its malignant 
streams. In what prison in London is there a proper 
separation of criminals, the old from the young, 
convicts from the untried ? Where are the night- 
rooms for solitary confinement and reflection ? 
Where is any proper attention paid to sick and 


dying prisoners ? Where are the rules and orders 
of magistrates for the direction of gaolers, and the 
government of prisoners ? In what gaol are not 
the ears shocked with the profaneness both of 
prisoners and turnkeys ? Where is any regard 
paid to the Lord's day ? Where is not the after- 
noon of that day a time of greater concourse of 
visitants than any other? And, though the 
gaoler's taps are abolished, yet are not publicans 
continually waiting to serve the prisoners and their 
company ? Is not beer now sold by the debtors ? 
And do not turnkeys keep shops in the gaols ? " l 

This paragraph, which contains Howard's last 
remarks on the subject, forms a terrible indictment 
of the system still acquiesced in throughout the 
country, even after sixteen years of persistent 
labour on his part ; while the fact that every one 
of the reforms which he indicates as desirable has 
since been effected, with the happiest results, is 
the best testimony to the clearness with which he 
had grasped the principles on which alone a satis- 
factory system of prison discipline can be properly 
carried out. 

1 Lazarettos, p. 233. 



Howard starts on his Last Journey Its Object Letters from 
Moscow Letters from Cherson Visits to Military 
Hospitals Illness Visit from Admiral Priestman 
Death Funeral Monument at Cherson Statue in St. 
Paul's Cathedral. 

IT might well have seemed to Howard that with 
the publication of the volume on Lazarettos 
his work was ended. There was no longer any 
reason why he should not once more reside at 
Cardington, as his unfortunate son had by this 
time become so hopelessly insane that it had been 
found necessary to remove him to a private asylum 
at Leicester, where he remained till his death in 
1799; at the age of thirty-four. The house was 
thus once more free, had Howard been disposed 
to settle down in it to that " comfortable, useful, 
and honourable life," which had once been his 
aim. 1 But his ideal had greatly changed since 
then. He now felt that "a retirement to ease 
1 Cf. p. 26. 



would be cowardly, sinful, and base." * There can 
be little doubt that his domestic sorrows, with 
which Cardington was so closely associated, made 
the thought of residence there distasteful to him. 
Besides this, habit had become second nature to 
him. He had lived the life of a wanderer for so 
long, and had spent so many years upon those 
researches of which he spoke slightingly as his 
"hobby," that it would have been unnatural to 
him to abandon them and settle down to a quiet 
life in the country. He felt that his time was 
short, and that there was still much to be done in 
the line which he had marked out for himself. 
He was consumed with the earnest desire to 
"give some check to far greater ravages than any 
occasioned by the destructive weapons of war." 2 
Writing to Mr. Whitbread as early as May 12, 
1788, he announced his intention of taking "a far 
more extensive journey " than any that he had yet 
made ; and at the close of his book on Lazarettos 
he disclosed his purpose more fully. 

" To my country I commit the result of my past 
labours. It is my intention again to quit it for 
the purpose of revisiting Russia, Turkey, and some 
other countries, and extending my tour in the 
East. I am not insensible of the dangers that 
must attend such a journey. Trusting, however, 
in the protection of that kind Providence which 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Howard, p. 147- 2 Il>. 


has hitherto preserved me, I calmly and cheerfully 
commit myself to the disposal of unerring wisdom. 
Should it please God to cut off my life in the pro- 
secution of this design, let not my conduct be 
uncandidly imputed to rashness or enthusiasm, but to 
a serious, deliberate conviction that I am pursuing 
the path of duty ; and to a sincere desire of being 
made an instrument of more extensive usefulness 
to my fellow-creatures than could be expected in 
the narrower circle of a retired life." l 

Some doubt has been expressed as to the exact 
object with which this tour in the East was to be 
made. Dr. Aikin had several conversations with 
Howard on the subject, which left on his mind 
the impression that he was influenced by a " wish 
to have objects of inquiry pointed out to him " 
rather than by " any specific views present to his 
own mind." 2 Much of the ground over which he 
proposed to travel was new to him, for the plan of 
his travels included Asiatic Turkey, Egypt, and 
the coast of Barbary. Here he was sure to find 
much to interest him. But, besides such more 
general objects, it is clear that he had a specific 
one. He realised that the mystery of the plague 
was not yet solved, and was anxious to investigate 
it still further, and obtain on the spot all possible 
information as to the nature and causes of the 
disease, the way in which it spread, the best 

1 Lazarettos, p. 235. 2 Aikin's Pie-iv, etc., p. 184. 


method of treatment, and the means for its cure 
and prevention. 1 He was well aware of the risks 
that he ran, and never expected to live to return 
to England. He, therefore, spent some time at 
Cardington, with his usual thoughtfulness and pre- 
cision setting his affairs in the most perfect order ; 
and made a round of farewell visits to many of his 
friends, whom he never expected to see again 
upon earth. "We shall soon meet in heaven," 
he said to one of them on parting, and added, 
" The way to heaven from Grand Cairo is as near 
as from London." 

It was early in July that he set forth, taking 
with him his servant Thomasson, who had accom- 
panied him on many of his previous journeys, and 
who cannot have lost his confidence. His route 
lay through Holland and Germany to Russia, 
where, after a visit to St. Petersburg, some time 
was spent in Moscow. From this city he wrote 
an account of his movements and plans to his 
friend, Dr. Price. 

John Howard to Dr. Price. 

"Moscow, September 22, 1789. 

" MY DEAR FRIEND. Your kind desire of hearing 
from me engages me to write. When I left Eng- 

1 See Brown's Life, p. 564, and cf. Field's Correspondence of 
John Ho-ward, p. 163. " I hope to investigate and ascertain 
with precision the cause of the plague." Letter to Mr. 
Whitbread, August 16, 1789. 


land, I first stopped at Amsterdam. I proceeded 
to Osnaburg, Hanover, Brunswick, and Berlin : 
then to Koningsbergh, Riga, and Petersburgh, at 
all which places I visited the prisons and hospitals, 
which were all flung open to me, and in some the 
burgomasters accompanied me into the dungeons, 
as well as into the other rooms of confinement. 

" I arrived a few days ago in this city, and have 
begun my rounds. The hospitals are in a sad 
state ; upwards of seventy thousand sailors and 
recruits died in them last year. I labour to con- 
vey the torch of philanthropy into these distant 
regions, as in God's hand no instrument is weak, 
and in whose presence no flesh must glory. 

" I go through Poland into Hungary. I hope to 
have a few nights of this moon in my journey to 
Warsaw, which is about a thousand miles. I am 
pure well ; the weather clear ; the mornings fresh ; 
thermometer 48, but have not yet begun fires. 
I wish for a mild winter, and shall then make 
some progress in my European expedition. 

" My medical acquaintance give me but little 
hopes of escaping the plague in Turkey, but my 
spirits do not at all fail me ; and, indeed, I do not 
look back, but would readily endure any hardships, 
and encounter any dangers, to be an honour to my 
Christian profession. 

" I long to hear from my friend, yet I know not 
where he can direct to me, unless at Sir Robert 
Ainslie's, Constantinople. I will hope all things. 
Remember me to sisters, nieces, and Mr. Morgan. 
I am, my much esteemed friend, most affectionately 
and sincerely yours, JOHN HOWARD. 

"Rev. Dr. PRICE." 


Shortly after this letter was written his plans 
underwent a change. Russia and Turkey were 
at this time at war ; and the condition of the 
military hospitals was exactly the kind of subject 
in which Howard would take the keenest interest. 
Reports had reached him of the wretched state 
of the sick and wounded soldiers of the Russian 
army ; and accordingly he determined to proceed 
to the seat of war, in the hope that he might " do 
some good," and "fairly try " his favourite remedy, 
in which he believed intensely, " the powders of Dr. 
James." 1 He hoped also to find at Sebastopol or 
elsewhere some neutral ship which might carry 
him to Constantinople and so enable him to reach 
Turkey. His adventures on the journey from 
Moscow to Cherson (a port on the Dnieper in 
what was then known as Russian Tartary) are de- 
scribed in a letter to Mr. Whitbread, to which a 
special interest attaches, as it is his last extant letter. 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Howard, p. 171. Readers of 
Boswell's Life of "Johnson will remember the various allusions 
to Dr. James (Johnson's "poor Jamey") in that immortal 
work. He was an old schoolfellow of Johnson's, who 
helped him in his Medicinal Dictionary " writing the proposals 
for the dictionary and also a little in the dictionary itself." 
Howard, however, believed in the efficacy of his medicines 
a good deal more than did the illustrious doctor, who writes 
of them thus : "I never thought well of Dr. James's com- 
pounded medicines ; his ingredients appear to me sometimes 
inefficacious and trifling, and sometimes heterogeneous and 
destructive of each other." 


John Howard to Samuel Whitbread, Esq., M.P. 

" CHERSON, in TARTARY, Nov. i^th, 1789. 

"DEAR SIR, I wrote to you on my arrival at 
Moscow, on the first, and, permit me to say, con- 
stant impression of your kindness. I also wrote 
to you about a fortnight after, informing you of 
my intention to visit the army and navy hospitals 
towards the Black Sea. I was somewhat sensible 
of the dangers I had to encounter and the hard- 
ships I had to endure in a journey 1300 or 
1400 miles, with only my servant. I went 
on pretty well till on the borders of Tartary, 
when, as I depended on my patent chain, my 
great trunk and hat-box were cut off from 
behind my chaise. It was midnight, and both 
of us, having travelled four nights, were fast 
asleep. However, we soon discovered it, and, 
having recovered the shock, I went back 
directly to the suspected house, and ran in 
among ten or twelve of the banditti. At 
break of day I had some secured, and search 
made. My hat-box was found, but my great 
trunk I almost despaired of, though 1 stayed 
before the door in my chaise two days. 
Providentially, the fourth day it was found by 
a peasant. The brass nails glistened in a part 
where the oilskin was worn. His oxen would 
not go on ; he beat them, but they would not 
go on ; he then saw something, but durst not 
approach till another peasant came up, when, 
after signing themselves with the cross, they 
went up to it, and carried it directly to the 


magistrate of the village. He sent after me to 
a town about eighty miles off, where I was to 
stay two or thi'ee days, and I returned. I found 
by my inventory that not a single handkerchief 
was lost, and they missed about a hundred guineas 
in a paper, in the middle of the trunk. My 
return stunned them. All would have been 
moved off before light. I have broken up the 

band ; four will go into . I am well. My 

clothes and bedding I think waraier since I 
got them out of the fire. I saw some other 
travellers who were robbed, and had lost their 
money and goods on the road. 

" Thomas showed me his marketing. A quarter 
of lamb, that he said would cost 5s., he had 
paid 7|d. for. My marketing is a good melon 
for l|d., which supplies my English luxury of 
currants with my bread and tea. I have 
visited the hospital here, in which there are 
about eight hundred sick recruits. I have this 

week been about forty miles, for between , 

a deserted town, and Otschakow, lies the army 
hospital. There I stayed two or three days, as 
I found about 2000 sick and wounded. They 
are dreadfully neglected. A heart of stone 
would almost bleed ! I am a spy, a sad spy 
on them, and they all fear me. The abuses of 
office are glaring, and I want not courage to 
tell them so. 

" I have just received your kind letter from 
Warsaw. I read it over and over again with 
fresh pleasure. I exult in the happiness and 
prosperity of your house, and that my young 
friend likes Cardington. 

"I shall be moving for the navy hospital, at 


Sebastopol, in the south of the Crimea, about 
the end of the year ; and I hope by some 
means to be at Constantinople the beginning 
of March. 

" The wild Cossacks who live underground in 
the Crimea must look sharp if they rob me, 
as I will not go to sleep any night on the 
road, and I am well armed. I am persuaded 
no hurry or fear will be on my mind. My 
journey, I still think, will engage me for three 
years ; and, as I have a year's work in England, 
I think little of Cardington. 

"The land for several hundred miles is the 
finest garden mould, not a stone mixed with it, 
nor a single tree, nor any inhabitants. A 
person may have any quantity for ten years, 
and after that by paying the Empress fifteen 
roubles (about 1% guineas a year). Fine hay- 
stacks a person showed me ; two-thirds he took, 
and one-third he gave the Empress, but no rent. 
He said he had bought fine meat for less than 
^d. a pound before the army came into this 

" I shall, I understand, take possession of some 
poor Turk's deserted house in the Crimea for 
two months. As I am well informed, there were 
double the number of inhabitants in the capital 
than there now are in all that fine country. 
The cruelty of the Russians forced 100,000 
to quit their country. Great things are ex- 
pected on the great St. Nicholas's Day next 
month. He is the patron saint of this country, 
who assisted them in destroying 4000 or 5000 
men, women, and children at Otschakow last 
year, on his day. But as our trades are different 


I wish to have no further acquaintance with that 
saint. Ever wishing to be with my affectionate 


' ' SAMUEL WHITBREAD, Esq. , M. P. " 

Cherson was reached about the middle of 
November ; and here as well as at Witowka and 
St. Nicholas, places at no great distance off, 
Howard had ample opportunities of inquiring 
into the condition of the military hospitals. 
" Hospital scandals " did not attract the same 
attention in those days as they do now, and all 
that Howard saw were about as bad as they 
could possibly be. Of Cherson he writes : 
" Bedsteads, beds, and coverlets very dirty ; 
wards and passages never washed, nor beds 
changed when patients die, and the sick were 
very dirty in their persons and linen ; the 
rooms close and offensive ; all disorders mingled 
together, except those with the itch and last 
stage of the flux. The attendants are men sent 
from the regiments on account of their being 
useless from stupidity or drunkenness ; . . . the 
prevalent diseases are scurvy and intermittent 
fever. These disorders, from the closeness and 
dirtiness of the wards, scanty linen and bedding, 
improper diet and bad attendance, soon turn to 
a putrid fever with flux, which carries off the 
patients in a few days ; . . . the primary objects 


in all hospitals, seem here neglected, viz., cleanli- 
ness, air, diet, separation, and attention. These 
are such essentials, that humanity and good 
policy equally demand that no expence should 
be spared to procure them. Care in this respect, 
I am persuaded, would save many more lives 
than the parade of medicines in the adjoining 
apothecary's shop." 1 

At St. Nicholas he tells us he found " fifty such 
objects of wretchedness" as he had never before 
seen together. " Most or all of them were recruits 
in the prime of life ; many dying laid on hard 
coarse reeds no linen, no coverlets ; only a few 
remnants of their old clothes to cover them ; 
their persons dirty beyond description ; their 
shirts in rags. I turned to the officers, and 
requested them to look on their fellow- creatures, 
who were thus inhumanly treated, adding that 
in none of the countries I had ever visited, had 
I found so little attention paid to the military 
as in Russia. I knew what I said would have 
no other effect on them but to make them 
despise me, but I should assuredly relate what 
I had with so much concern and indignation 
beheld." 2 

His constant visits and suggestions were not 
entirely without result, as on the occasion of 
his last visit to the military hospital at Cherson 
1 Lazarettos, appendix, p. 1 8. 2 III. p. 20. 


he notes : " On January 6, I went the round 
of all the wards of the military hospital and 
sickrooms of the regiment quartered here. As 
to the former, I found a great alteration with 
respect to cleanliness, in the persons, linen, and 
bedding of the sick. In the latter, some small 
alteration for the better in that particular, but 
not so general as in the military hospital." l 

This passage, which occurs in the very last 
entry made in his note-book, refers to January 
6, 1790. Even then the germs of the fever 
from which he died must have been in him. 
The circumstances of his illness and death were 
in the first instance communicated to Dr. Aikin 
by Thomasson, who was with him to the last ; 
and further details were obtained on the spot 
a few years later from Admiral MordvinofF, chief 
Admiral of the Black Sea Fleet, and Admiral 
Priestman, an English officer in the Russian 
service, by Dr. Clarke the traveller, and given 
to the world in his Travels in Various Countries." '' 

Towards the close of 1789 the town of Cherson 
had been filled with officers from the Russian 
army, to whom leave of absence had been freely 
given after the taking of the fortress of Bender 
from the Turks. The cessation of hostilities was 

1 Lazarettos, appendix, p. 20. 

" Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, by 
Edward Daniel Clarke, LL.D. See vol. i. p. 604 seq. 


made the occasion of much gaiety, and several 
balls and masquerades were held, shortly after 
which many of the gentry of the neighbourhood 
were attacked by a fever, which, in Howard's 
opinion, had been brought by the officers from 
Bender. Among the number was a young lady, 
who was living some miles from Cherson. Howard's 
reputation as a physician caused an urgent request 
to be sent to him to visit her. At first he de- 
clined, 011 the ground that he only gave such 
assistance as he could to the poor ; but, on being 
much pressed, he consented, and paid her one or 
two visits in the latter part of December. He 
then returned to Cherson, where some little time 
later he received a letter begging him to pay her 
another visit. The letter had been by some 
accident considerably delayed, and, much vexed 
at this, Howard insisted on setting off at once 
in spite of the cold, and drenching rain. No 
carriage could be obtained, and he had to content 
himself with an old dray horse, mounted on which 
he was exposed to the full fury of the storm. 
There can be little doubt that he caught a chill 
on the journey, though he himself was under the 
impression that he took the fever from the patient, 
who to his great distress died the following day. 
Howard at once returned to Cherson, and a few 
days later (on January 8, 1790) went out to dine 
with Admiral Mordvinoff. He stayed later than 


usual, and on his return home complained of feel- 
ing unwell, saying that he " thought he had some- 
thing of the gout flying about him." : He dosed 
himself regularly, and after a feverish attack had 
recourse to Dr. James's powders, which he took 
for some days, for though Prince Potemkin, who 
was in command of the Russian forces, sent his 
own physician to attend him, his own prescriptions 
were never interfered with. 2 On the 12th and 
again on the 17th of January he was seized with 
fits of an alarming character, after which he rapidly 
grew worse. It was on one of these days that he 
received a visit from his friend, Admiral Priestman, 
whom until this illness he had been accustomed 
to visit everyday, "when, with his usual attention 
to regularity, he would place his watch on the 

1 He had already suffered from this in the course of his 
journey, as, writing to Mr. Whitbread early in September, he 
had said, " I am pretty well. The gout at times gives me 
mementos, but my abstemious course and water probably 
kept me on my legs for what time ? I bless God I have no 
anxiety about that" (Field's Correspondence, etc., p. 169). 

2 Dr. Aikin thinks that this frequent use of James's 
powders must have been prejudicial; and suggests that 
Howard's name should be "added to the numerous lists of 
those whose lives have been sacrificed to the empirical use of 
a medicine of great activity, and therefore capable of doing 
much harm as well as good " (Aikin's Vieiv, etc., p. 197). It 
may be remembered that much the same was said in the 
case of Oliver Goldsmith, whose end was thought to have 
been hastened by an injudicious use of the same remedy. 


table, and pass exactly an hour with him in con- 
versation." Priestman himself gave the account 
of what followed to Dr. Clarke, in 1800. 1 Finding 
that Howard failed to visit him, he went himself 
to see him, and found him weak and ill, sitting 
before a stove in his bedroom. In answer to an 
inquiry as to his health Howard replied that he 
felt his end was drawing near, that he had several 
things to say to his friend, and thanked him for 
having called. The admiral tried to cheer him 
by endeavouring to turn the conversation, but 
without success, for Howard rejoined : " Priest- 
man, you style this a very dull conversation, and 
endeavour to direct my mind from dwelling upon 
death ; but I entertain very different sentiments. 
Death has no terrors for me ; it is an event I 
always look to with cheerfulness, if not with 
pleasure ; and be assured it is to me more grate- 
ful than any other. I am well aware I have but 
a short time to live ; my mode of life has 
rendered it impossible that I should get rid of 
this fever. If I had lived as you do, eating 
heartily of animal food, and drinking wine, I 
might, perhaps, by diminishing my diet, be able 
to subdue it. But how can such a man as I am 
lower his diet, who has been accustomed for years 
to exist on vegetables and water, a little bread, 
and a little tea ? I have no method of lowering 

1 Clarke's Travels, etc., lot. cit. 


my nourishment, and therefore I must die. It is 
such jolly fellows as you, Priestman, who get over 
these fevers." Directions as to his funeral were 
added. " There is a spot/' said he, " near the 
village of Dauphigny, which would suit me nicely : 
you know it well, for I have often said I should 
like to be buried there ; and let me beg of you, 
as you value your old friend, not to suffer any 
pomp to be used at my funeral ; nor any monument 
or monumental inscription whatsoever to mark 
where I am laid ; but lay me quietly in the earth, 
place a sun-dial over my grave, and let me be 
forgotten." Priestman went off, at his request, 
to make arrangements with the owner of the 
spot indicated ; and shortly afterwards a letter was 
brought to Howard from England containing a 
greatly improved report of his son's condition. 
It was read to him by Thomasson, and, at the 
close, Howard turned his head towards him 
saying, " Is not this comfort for a dying father ? " 
He also desired Thomasson, if ever by the bless- 
ing of God his son was restored, to tell him how 
much he had prayed for his happiness. He then 
gave further directions about his funeral, begging 
that he might not be interred with the rites of 
the Greek Church, but that Admiral Priestman 
would read the burial service of the Church of 
England over him. Hardly had he made this 
request before he was seized with a third attack, 


which deprived him of the power of speech. It 
was now early on the morning of January 20. 
Admiral Mordvinoff had come in to see him, and 
found that the end was rapidly approaching. A 
physician was sent for, but came too late to be 
of any service ; and, shortly after his arrival, 
Howard's spirit passed away. 

He was buried in the spot which he had him- 
self selected, 1 Admiral Priestman reading the 
English Burial Service, according to his desire ; 
but such was the popular feeling aroused by his 
death that it was found impossible strictly to 
carry out his wishes with regard to the character 
of the funeral, " for the concourse of spectators 
was immense, and the order of his funeral was 
more magnificent than would have met with his 
approbation." The Prince of Moldavia was present 
" in a sumptuous carriage, drawn by six horses, 
covered with scarlet cloth." The admirals, 
generals, and staff officers of the garrison, the 
magistrates and merchants of Cherson, followed 
in their carriages, together with a large body of 
cavalry, and " an immense concourse of spectators 
on foot, amounting to two or three thousand." ' 

1 The village was at that time apparently known as 
Dophinovka, from Mr. Dauphine, its owner. It is now 
known as Stephanovka, and lies in the valley of Verofchina, 
six versts north of Cherson. 

2 Clarke's Travels, vol. i. p. 609. 


In another matter also Howard's wishes were 
disregarded. He had asked to have a sun-dial 
placed over his grave. For some reason that is 
not apparent this was not done, but in place of 
it there was erected by Admiral Mordvinoff "a 
small brick pyramid, white-washed, but without 
any inscription." l When Clarke and Heber saw 
it, it was already falling into ruin, and since then 
an endeavour has been made to carry out Howard's 
wishes, and its place is taken by a block of marble 
surmounted by a sun-dial, 2 bearing the following 
inscription in Latin and Russian : 


Whoever thou art, thou standest at 
the tomb of thy friend . 


When the tidings of Howard's death reached 
the shores of England the feeling of sorrow was 

1 Heber's Life, vol. i. p. 277. Henderson visited it in 
i8zi, and found the pyramid still there, with an inscription 
" Vixit propter alios " upon it (Biblical Researches, p. 284). 

~ In Mr. Scullard's lecture, John Ho-ward, a photograph of 
the tomb as it now stands is given, as well as one of the 
monument raised to Howard's memory in Cherson itself, 
near the Church of the Assumption opposite the prison. 
This is an obelisk of grey stone, with a sundial on one face, 
and Howard's medallion in bronze on the other. In Clarke's 
Travels, vol. i. p. 573, will be found the representation of the 
original pyramid erected over the tomb, from a drawing by 
Heber which is reproduced here. 


universal. 1 The fact was announced in the 
Gazette of March 23, a distinction which, it 
is said, was never before conferred on a private 
person ; and the honour of a statue, which he had 
declined in his lifetime, was at once accorded to 
him. It was erected in St. Paul's Cathedral, and 
the following inscription, from the pen of his 
friend and kinsman, Mr. Whitbread, was placed 
upon it : 

This extraordinary man had the Fortune to be 

honoured whilst living, 
In the manner which his Virtues deserved ; 

He received the thanks 

Of both Houses of the British and Irish Parliaments, 
For his eminent services rendered to his Country 

and to Mankind. 

Our National Prisons and Hospitals, 

Improved upon the Suggestions of his Wisdom, 

Bear testimony to the solidity of his Judgment, 

And to the Estimation in which he was held 

In every Part of the Civilised World, 

Which he traversed to reduce the sum of 

Human Misery ; 

1 Thomasson on his return to England handed over 
Howard's papers, containing the notes of his last tour, to 
Dr. Aikin and Dr. Price, who were named as his literary 
executors. Dr. Price died very shortly afterwards, but the 
various memoranda which Howard had made were printed 
by Dr. Aikin exactly as he left them, as an appendix to 
the second edition of the work on Lazarettos, which was 
published in 1792. 


From the Throne to the Dungeon his Name was mentioned 
With Respect, Gratitude, and Admiration. 

His Modesty alone 
Defeated various efforts that were made during his life, 

To erect this Statue, 

Which the Publick has now consecrated to his Memory. 
He was born at Hackney, in the County of Middlesex, 

Sept. ii d MDCCXXVI. 

The early Part of his Life he spent in Retirement, 
Residing principally upon his paternal Estate, 

At Cardington, in Bedfordshire ; 
For which County he served the Office of Sheriff in the 


He expired at Cherson in Russian Tartary, on 
the xx th of Jan. 


A Victim to the perilous and benevolent Attempt 
To ascertain the Cause of, and find an efficacious Remedy 

For the Plague. 

He trod an open but unfrequented Path to Immortality, 
In the ardent and unintermitted Exercise of 

Christian Charity. 

May this Tribute to his Fame 

Excite an Emulation of his truly glorious Achievements. 

Up to this time no statues had been admitted 
into the Cathedral, and this was the first instance 
in which permission to erect one was accorded. 
Arrangements were made almost simultaneously 
for a statue of Dr. Johnson to be also placed 
there, but that of Howard was actually the first 
to be erected. 1 Thus, in the words of Dean 

1 The whole of the correspondence containing the nego- 
tiations between the Committee of the " Howardian Fund" 


Milman, " The first statue admitted to St. Paul's 
was not that of statesman, warrior, or even of 
sovereign ; it was that of John Howard, the 
pilgrim, not to gorgeous shrines of saints and 
martyrs, not even to holy lands, but to the loath- 
some depths and darkness of the prisons through- 
out what called itself the civilised world. Howard 
first exposed to the shuddering sight of mankind 
the horrible barbarities, the foul and abominable 
secrets of those dens of unmitigated suffering. 
By the exposure, he at least let some light and 
air into these earthly hells. Perhaps no man has 
assuaged so much human misery as John Howard ; 
and John Howard rightly took his place at one% 
corner of the dome of St. Paul's, the genuine 
Apostle of Him, among whose titles to our vener- 
ation and love, not the least befitting, not the least 
glorious, was that He went about doing good." l 

and the authorities of St. Paul's Cathedral is in the British 
Museum (Addit. MSS., 26055). 

1 Milman's Annals of St. Paufs, p. 480. It is remarkable 
that no fewer than three of Howard's friends among Non- 
conformist ministers, Dr. Stennet, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Bull, 
should have taken as the text of their funeral sermons for 
him, the words to which Dean Milman here refers : " Who 
went about doing good." The text which Howard himself 
had desired to be taken, if any funeral sermon was preached, 
was Ps. xvii. 16 "As for me, I will behold Thy presence 
in righteousness : and when I awake up after Thy likeness, 
I shall be satisfied with it." And from this Mr. Smith 
preached at Bedford. 




Howard's dislike to have his Portrait taken Devices to 
escape "Snapshots" Portraits of Howard Personal 
Appearance Mode of Life Humour Anecdotes 
Love of Children Relations with his Servants and hN 
Tenants Business-like Habits Personal Religion 
Courage Modesty Result of Howard's Labours 

IT is hoped that the narrative which has been 
given will enable the reader to form some 
conception of what manner of man Howard was, 
but it may be well, in conclusion, to append a 
chapter giving some account of his personal 
appearance, and adding a few facts and anecdotes 
illustrative of his disposition and character. 

As to his personal appearance, there remain 
several descriptions of him, and not a few sketches 
to show us what he was like, although he had a 
singular dislike to having his portrait taken, and 
not only steadily refused to sit for it, but 
resorted to all kinds of whimsical expedients in 



the endeavour to baffle those artists who tried to 
sketch his features by stealth. The "snapshots" 
which these gentlemen took were numerous. 
He was not safe from them even at his devotions 
in church ; and, as he said himself, it cost him 
"a great deal of trouble and some money to make 
this insignificant form and ugly face escape a 
power of draughtsmen, painters, etc., that were 
lying in wait" for him. The kind of shifts to 
which he had recourse, he thus explained to his 
friend Mr. Pratt, the author of The Triumph of 
Benevolence, a poem in honour of Howard's work. 
" I have detected a fellow at work upon this 
face of mine, ugly as it is, even as I have been 
walking in the streets of London ; and, if a 
hackney-coach has been within call, I have 
popped into it, drawn up the blinds, and sat snug 
till I got to my own door, and then 1 have leaped 
out, and run into my own house, as if I was 
apprehensive a bailiff was at my heels. Nay, I 
have often had my door itself infested by a 
lurking artist, who was literally in wait to take 
me off. But one day, since my return, a trick I 
played one of these takers-off diverted me 
excessively. You must know I am a great gaper 
at the novelties that are continually presented at 
the print-shops in this great city ; I was stand- 
ing at that of Carrington Bowles, in St. Paul's 
Churchyard, the other day, to look at some 


political caricatures very pleasantly executed, 
when, happening to cast my eye side-long, I 
discovered a fellow operating on my phiz l with 
all his might. Perceiving himself caught in the 
fact, he lowered his paper, and pretended to be, 
like myself and a number of others, looking only 
at the prints. I was just then in the humour to 
pay off this deception by another ; so seeming, 
like him, to be wholly engrossed by a figure called 
Scotch Economy, well calculated to provoke the 
risible muscles, I threw mine into such contortions, 
and gave such sudden changes from one deformity 
to another, that had my painter etched any one 
of my features in its then position, the resemblance 
between my actual self and the copy would have 
been just as striking as I could desire it to be. 
The painter, however, at length perceived the 
stratagem, and smiling, as if he gave me credit for 
it, put his pencil into his pocket and went away. 
I own I enjoyed the joke, and have since practised 
it more than once, with no less success." ' 

1 William Cowper, the poet, had just the same dislike to 
have what he also calls his " phiz" taken. See his letter to 
John Newton, under the date July 7, 1781. " Whoever 
means to take my phiz will find himself sorely perplexed in 
seeking for a fit occasion. That I shall not give him one 
is certain ; and if he steals one, he must be as cunning and 
quick-sighted a thief as Autolycus himself. His best course 
will be to draw a face, and call it mine, at a venture.'' 

2 Pratt's Gleanings, vol. i. p. zz6. 


In spite of these odd devices the artists were 
not wholly unsuccessful. A number of sketches 
and engravings remain to testify to their success. 
There are at least two paintings of him. One of 
these, attributed to Mather Brown, an American 
portrait-painter, is now in the National Portrait 
Gallery. The second is in Howard's own house 
at Cardington. Nothing is known of its history, 
The pose of the head is exactly the same as in 
the picture in the National Portrait Gallery, but 
the colouring of the dress is different. In Mather 
Brown's portrait the coat is pepper-and-salt and 
the waistcoat red, but in the Cardington picture 
both are black. If the portrait in the National 
Portrait Gallery is really by Mather Brown he 
must have painted Howard twice, for in 1789 
there was published by E. Scott a large engraving 
(reproduced here as the frontispiece) "from an 
original portrait by Mather Brown in the possession 
of Mr. William Ellis." This is said by a friend of 
Howard, in the Universal Magazine for 1790, to 
be "really like him, much more so than any 
other I have seen." It is a three-quarters-length 
portrait, whereas that in the National Portrait 
Gallery represents only the head and bust ; but 
otherwise the two are identical. It appears, then, 
that the last mentioned is a version on a smaller 
scale of the original picture from which Scott's 
engraving was taken ; and it is probable that the 


lead in the Cardington portrait was also taken 

3m it, or from an engraving of it. 1 

Besides these two paintings there exist a 
number of sketches and engravings of Howard, 
all of them in profile, as is natural, since the 
artists had to take him unawares. The following 
are those known to me : 

1. A Drawing from life, by T. Holloway ("T. 
Holloway, ad vivum delin. et sculp."^) This 
has also been engraved by Freeman for Brown's 
Life. It is perhaps the best known of Howard's 
portraits, having been reproduced both in Field's 
Life, and also in his Correspondence of John 
Howard. The original drawing was apparently 
in the possession of Mrs. Prole, Howard's faithful 
servant, and the engraving was made specially 
for Brown's Life, as was also that of the second 
Mrs. Howard, from an original miniature, which 
Howard himself had given to Mrs. Prole. 2 

2. Very similar, but with the face turned to 
the left instead of the right, is the engraving 

1 In the Universal Magazine for April 1790, there is an 
engraving of the head and bust by T. Cook, corresponding 
very closely with the painting in the National Portrait 
Gallery, but it is said to be " taken from a large print, 
engraved by Mr. Edmund Scott, from an original painting 
in the possession of Mr. William Ellis."' This " large print " 
is of course that which is here reproduced as the frontis- 

2 See Brown's Life, pp. xix. and 40. 


given in Aikin's View. It was " sketched by an 
artist in London and engraved in London," and 
Aikin, who knew Howard well, speaks of it as 
" a most resembling likeness. It is somewhat of a 
caricature, but has very exactly the expression of 
his countenance when in a very serious attentive 
mood." 1 

3. A Pencil Sketch, now in the vestry of the 
Howard Chapel at Bedford, taken by stealth as 
he sat in church. This is admirably reproduced 
in Mr. Scullard's lecture, John Howard, and 
(not so well) in Ellis's Men with a Mission : 
John Howard. I have not been able to ascertain 
whether the sketch is that alluded to in the 
Gentleman's Magazine for 1790, which speaks of 
a print of " the benevolent ['Howard, done from 
an original sketch taken by stealth as he sat in 
church, published by W. Allen, Dame Street, 
Dublin." 2 

4. The Gentleman's Magazine for 1790 also 
gives a print of a pencilled likeness (with hat on), 
" taken from nature, March 1 788," of which the 
writer of a letter signed Hibernensu says : " I 
pledge myself it was drawn from the life (unknown 
to Mr. Howard) while at my house by a young 
but ingenious artist." 3 

1 Aikin's fiew, etc., p. 209. 

2 The Gentleman's Magazine, 1790, part I. p. 369. 

3 Ib. 


5. Medallion Portrait in the European Mag- 
azine for 1790. T. Prattent, sculp." 

6. Full-length Figure, prefixed to Anecdotes 
of the Life and Character of John Howard, Esq., 
F.R.S., written by a Gentleman, 1790." The 
portrait was " sketched with a pencil from life by a 
lady who resided some months under the same roof 
with Mr. Howard previous to his last expedition." 

7. Full-length Figure, represented opening a 
prison door. This, like the last - mentioned 
portrait, is given in a small book published in 
London a few weeks after Howard's death. 

8. Seated Figure, in three-cornered hat. 1 
Howard is described, by one who knew him, as 

"about the middle size, stout and well made, 
dark complexion, with dark quick eyes and 
aquiline nose ; " 2 while a daughter of Dr. Aikin, 
writing many years later from her recollections, 
speaks of him as " a small man, brisk in his move- 
ments, with a lively eye, and expressive counten- 
ance." 3 His " red waistcoat " (which appears in 
Mather Brown's portrait), and " pepper-and-salt 
coat" lingered in the memory of another who 
had seen him in his childhood. 4 It was possibly 

1 Two plaster casts of Howard's face were taken after his 
death by order of Prince Potemkin, who retained one himself, 
and gave the other to Thomasson, from whom it was 
purchased by Mr. Whitbread. It has, however, long since 
disappeared, aricTnothing is known of it at present. 

2 Stoughton's John Howard, p. 288. 3 I6. p. 307. *Ib. p. 289. 



the briskness of his movements, which caused 
him on one occasion to be taken for a dancing- 
master ! 

The simplicity of his tastes and habits will 
have been abundantly apparent from what has 
been already said. No man had fewer wants 
than Howard. In diet he was abstemious to a 
degree. For many years before his death he was 
a total abstainer and a vegetarian. In his 
London house he says that there were "not a 
dozen joints of meat in seven years." 1 "Water 
and the plainest vegetables sufficed him. Milk, 
tea, butter, and fruit were his luxuries ; and he 
was equally sparing in the quantity of food, and 
indifferent as to the stated times of taking it." 2 
Real luxuries of all kinds he eschewed on prin- 
ciple, and in order that he might have more to 
spend on the work to which he had devoted his 
life. In his early years he evidently had a taste 
for art, and delighted in music as well as painting 
and sculpture. But after he had entered upon 
his career of benevolence he deliberately abstained 
from indulging it. It was not, as with Charles 
Darwin, that the taste was atrophied by disuse, 
but that he feared that it might interfere with 
the object to which he had consecrated his life. 
On one occasion Aikin tells us he was "prevailed 

1 Field's Correspondence of John Ho-warJ, p. 89. 
3 Aikin's fievt, etc., p. 222. 


upon in Italy, to go and hear some extraordinarily 
fine music ; but, finding his thoughts too much 
occupied by it, he would never repeat the 
indulgence." l 

His letters and several anecdotes that have 
been preserved show that he was by no means 
deficient in humour. He could appreciate a joke, 
even at his own expense, and was not above 
being guilty of a grim pleasantry, when he wished 
to rebuke others. Thus we are told that on his 
journeys, if the post-boy had not given complete 
satisfaction, on his arrival at his destination he 
would desire the landlord to send for some poor 
widow of good character, and to bring her and 
the post-boy together to his room. He then paid 
the latter his fare, giving him the exact sum due 
to him, and told him that " as he had not thought 
proper to attend to his repeated requests as to 
the manner of being driven, he should not make 
him any present ; but, to show him that he did 
not withhold it out of a principle of parsimony, 
he would give the poor person present double 
the sum usually given to a postillion." 

This queer device of his soon became known, 
and he said that he " had not long practised it 
before he experienced the good effects of it on all 
the roads where he was known." 2 Something of 
the same spirit was shown on his buttoning up 

1 Aikin's yieiv, etc., p. 212. 2 Ib. p. 218. 


his pockets when the workmen at Warringtoii 
made use of bad language, remarking, as he did 
so, " I always do this whenever I hear men swear ; 
as I think that anyone who can take God's name 
in vain can steal, or do anything that is bad." l 

It would be a mistake to regard him as entirely 
lacking in the lighter graces. His letters to 
Lady Mary Whitbread form only one among 
several indications of the pleasure which he took 
in the friendship and society of ladies, and of the 
old-fashioned courtesy with which he treated 
them. He was, as we have seen, devotedly 
attached to his wife, and felt her loss deeply. 
Whether at any time he definitely contemplated 
marrying again is not certain. It has been stated 
that he actually made an offer to a sister of his 
friend, Dr. Aikin, who was afterwards well-known 
as Mrs. Barbauld ; 2 and he himself told an amusing 

1 StOUghton's John HmvarJ, p. 277. 

2 Brown's Memories of Seventy Tears, quoted in StOUghton's 
John Howard, p. 274. Cf. the story in Brown's Life, p. 401. 
Brown's story, which he was told by a lady who had the 
circumstances related to her by Howard himself, was that 
" his first visit to a considerable town in the North of England, 
at a period of his life when he had not contemplated the 
extension of his tours of philanthropy beyond the limits of 
his native country, if indeed he had then entered upon 
them at all, was for the purpose of gaining an introduction 
to a lady who had already acquired a literary reputation by 
her maiden name, very deservedly increased since she bore 
another, with a view, should he find the fascination of her 


story of the way in which on one occasion he was 
attracted by "a young lady of a most engaging 
manner and appearance, which very strongly re- 
minded him of his Harriet. The lady and her 
companion, an elderly gentleman, were his fellow- 
passengers on a packet, and so much struck was 
he with her that, on arriving at the place of des- 
tination, he caused his servant to follow them, 
and get intelligence who they were. It was not 
without some disappointment that he learned 
that the old gentleman was an eminent merchant, 
and the young lady his wife." 1 

Of children he was passionately fond, and more 
than one of those of whom in their childhood he 
took notice have left on record their appreciation 
of his kindness, and the eagerness with which 
they looked forward to a visit from him. Whatever 
of severity there was in his treatment of his son 

manners and the virtues of her heart equal to the brilliancy 
of her talents, to make her an offer of his hand. When he 
arrrived at the inn, he fell in company with a gentleman, 
of whom he made some inquiries respecting the lady and her 
family, when he had the mortification to learn that she was 
engaged to the person whom she soon afterwards married, 
though he was somewhat amused at finding that his inform- 
ant was as much disappointed at this circumstance as him- 
self, having come to precisely on the same errand." 

This clearly refers to Lucy Aikin, who published her first 
volume of poems in 1773, when living at Warrington, and 
was married to Dr. Barbauld in the following year. 
1 Aikin's Vleiv^ etc., p. 234. 


was entirely a matter of principle, and due to no 
lack of affection. 

Of his relations with his servants and depend- 
ents something ought to be said. Nothing could 
be pleasanter than they were, from the days when 
he tossed the loaf over the wall for his old gardener. 
His old nurse, who only died during his residence 
at Watcombe, was provided for and watched over by 
him with the greatest tenderness and care. His 
wife's maid afterwards married his bailiff, John 
Prole, and these two served him with the utmost 
devotion and fidelity all his life. After the 
husband's death there was found a paper which 
he had written, entitled, " A Father's Legacy to 
his Children," in which he describes the character 
of his " much esteemed and worthy master, Mr. 
Howard," and sets it forth as an example to his 
children, " especially in his diligence and activity 
in promoting the honour and glory of God, and the 
real good of his fellow-creatures." l Of Thomas- 
son his personal servant, who was a mere lad when 
he entered his service, and who continued with 
him to the last, something has been already said. 
The fact that Howard took him with him on his 
last journey is incompatible with the idea that 
he gave any credence to the stories of the man 
having betrayed his confidence and misled his son. 

1 Extracts from this document, which was privately 
printed, are given in Brown's Life, p. 656. 


Yet there seems to be no doubt that the stories 
were true, and that the man was utterly unworthy 
of the trust reposed in him. After Howard's 
death Mr. Whitbread took him into his service 
for a time, but was compelled to discharge him 
for serious misconduct. 1 We have already noticed 
the paternal regard which Howard bestowed 
upon his tenants during his residence at Carding- 
ton ; but it might have been anticipated that, 
after he had become absorbed in his prison re- 
searches, he would scarcely have been able to 
devote so much thought and care to their welfare. 
Absentee landlords are almost sure to lose touch 
with their tenants. It would not have been un- 
natural if, as he was so constantly away from 
home, he had left all details to his bailiff, and 
contented himself with receiving his rents regu- 
larly. But nothing comes out more clearly in his 
correspondence than the astonishing way in which 
up to the last he insisted on looking into the 
minutest details himself; and was as mindful of 
the wants and well-being of his tenants when 
wandering to the farthest extremities of Europe 
as he was when continually residing at Cardington. 
Here is an extract from a letter to John Prole 

1 His subsequent history is given in Brown's Life, p. 653. 
After his dismissal by Mr. Whitbread, he took a public- 
house, but failed, and died a pauper in the Liverpool 


written from the lazaretto at Venice, when his 
heart was heavy with anxiety about his son, 
and distracted by other matters, and when he 
had been absent from England for almost a 

"Now as to our Cardington affairs, I hope 

everything goes smoothly on ; Mr. , etc., and 

cottagers do not get behind-hand in their rent ; 
when Rubin leaves his farm, if you choose it, it 
shall not be raised ; if otherwise, should it not be 
nearly the same as Smith's ? I wish [you] to give a 
look on my garden, the hedge in Close Lane, 
and Clumps ; I hope the sheep are prevented 
jumping over. Walker's Close and my closes I 
hope, are neat ; the latter [were] very indifferent 
when I last returned ; there were many nettles 
and weeds. Take in for a month John Notting- 
ham or William Wiltshire to keep them down, by 
spading them quite up. After Christmas desire 
Mr. Lilburn to settle your accounts to the two 
Christmases ; as it will be easier for me, separat- 
ing the school bills, donations, taxes, etc., from 
other things. Samuel Preston I hope is well ; if 
otherwise, anything I will do for the two widows. 
Mrs. Morgan I hope is well. Tell her if Notting- 
ham's girl continues good, two guineas she will 
lay out for her in any manner she thinks proper. 
Some fine new currants will I hope come soon, as 
I was about six weeks ago at Zante, and are finer 


this year than usual (as indeed I have not seen a 
shower of rain in Turkey for four or five months, 
but fine dews) ; they are for my tenants, widows 
and poor families at Cardington, about threepence 
each. You will pay to Mr. Symonds my subscrip- 
tion to Michaelmas. 1 At Christmas give Mrs. 
Thompson and Beccles each l Is. Od. ; Rayne, 
what I usually give him, 10s. 6d. if not given 
last Christmas, then l Is. Od. ; Dolly Basset, 
l Is. Od. ; the blind man's widow, 10s. ; five 
guineas to ten poor widows that is, to each half 
a guinea, where you think it will be most accept- 
able ; one of which widows [is to be] Mrs. 
Tingey, in memory of Joshua Tingey, who I 
promised to excuse one year's rent ; five guineas 
also to ten families that you think proper objects, 
one of which [should be] Richard Ward. I think 
you said Abraham Stevens left a girl and boy, one 
of which is dead ; privately inquire the character, 
disposition, circumstances of the other. You will 
accept of coat, waistcoat, and breeches. I hope 
the walks before my house, Joshua Crockford's, 
the new one near the bridge and by Broadfield's 
and Walker's, are neat. Tell Joseph Walker to 
remind Mr. Whitbread relative to his brother's 
pay, etc. Is my chaise horse gone blind, or 
spoiled ? Duke is well, must have his range 
when past his labour ; not doing such a cruel 
1 See above, p. 28. 


thing as I did with the old mare ; I have a 
thousand times repented of it." 

Such a letter gives a remarkable insight into 
the methodical and business-like habits of the 
man, his capacity for detail, the clearness of his 
recollection, and his thoughtful and systematic 
charities. It is clear from his whole career that 
in almsgiving and charity he acted upon the rule 
which he laid down in one of his private memo- 
randa : " Our superfluities should be given up for 
the convenience of others. Our convenience 
should give place to the necessities of others. 
And even our necessities give way to the ex- 
tremities of the poor." 1 

Of his simple faith and piety, and (founded 
upon them) his perseverance and dauntless 
courage, his devotion to duty, and determination 
to do the thing that is right, there is no need to 
say much. They are manifest in every step of 
his career. It would have been easy to illustrate 
them by large extracts from his private medita- 
tions, and the " covenant " which he drew up in 
1770, and renewed on subsequent occasions; but 
it has been thought better to omit these here. 
They were never intended to be read by others, 
and cannot be fairly judged but by those who are 
in the fullest sympathy with the writer of them. 
His courage was a part of his religion. He was 

1 Stoughton's John Howard, p. 342. 


absolutely without fear, whether of infection or of 
injuries from men. To the question as to the 
precautions which he took to avoid the former, 
his answer was that "next to the free, goodness 
and mercy of the Author of my being, temperance 
and cleanliness are my chief preservatives. Trust- 
ing in Divine Providence, and believing myself in 
the way of my duty, I visit the most infectious 
hospitals and noxious cells ; and while thus em- 
ployed, I fear no evil. However, I seldom enter 
an hospital or prison before breakfast ; in an 
offensive room I avoid drawing my breath deeply ; 
and on my return sometimes wash my mouth and 
hands." * As to the latter it has been well said 
that he " carried in his small and homely stature, 
a certain grave and potent personality, made up 
of unaffected earnestness, simplicity of purpose, 
and religious courage, which awed and com- 
manded from the first, alike prisoners and prison 
keepers." ' This is strikingly illustrated by the 
well-knoAvn story of the way in which he quelled 
a riot in the Savoy : " Two hundred of the 
prisoners had broken loose and killed two of 
their keepers, nor dare anyone approach, till 
Howard, in spite of the remonstrances of his 
friends, calmly entered in among them, and 

1 Lazarettos, p. 232. 

2 H. W. Bellows on John Harvard, quoted in Stoughton, 
P- 339- 


"such was the effect of his mild and benign 
manner, that they soon listened to his remon- 
strances, represented their grievances, and at 
last allowed themselves to be quietly recon- 
ducted to their cells." l It is apparent also in 
the ascendancy he gained wherever he went, 
and the way in which prison gates were flung 
open at his word, and the secrets of the dungeons 
revealed at his bidding. It was universally felt 
that he was "an exception to all rules," 2 and his 
commands were obeyed without question. Two 
striking facts he has himself recorded, which are 
worth noticing here. First, in all his journeys he 
was never once stopped by robbers or highway- 
men, nor ever knew himself to be in any great 
danger from such ; 3 and, secondly, in all his visits 
to gaols and prisons, in this and other kingdoms, 
he never received any insults either from keepers 
or prisoners ; nor ever lost anything in any of 
them, except that once he lost "a large new 
handkerchief" out of his pocket. This he did 
not miss for some time after, but on a subsequent 
visit, ten months later, it was presented to him 
by a prisoner, with the remark that he believed 
that he had dropped it when he was last there ! 4 
Of his own powers and exploits he had a 
singularly modest opinion. Nothing was more 

1 Brown's Life, p. 393. 2 It. p. 331. 

3 The State of Prisons, p. 464. * Lazarettos, p. 215. 


distasteful to him than any public reference to 
his good works and labours for the benefit of 
others. If they were alluded to in his pi'esence, 
he never lost an opportunity of speaking slight- 
ingly of them. They were his "hobby," his 
"whim." He was only "mad Jack Howard/' 
as he delighted to call himself, 1 or " the plodder 
who goes about to collect materials for men of 
genius to make use of." 2 This last estimate is 
a really discriminating one. For, great as our 
admiration for Howard must be, it cannot be 
denied that he was deficient in what is commonly 
called "genius." His great merit lay in the 
resolute persistence with which lie limited out 
the real facts, and exposed them to the public. 
But when we come to ask what he actually 
achieved by his seventeen years of self-denying 
labour, there can hardly fail to be some feeling of 
disappointment that the result is not greater. 
There were, of course, numberless cases of in- 
dividual distress which were relieved by him : 
scores of prisoners confined for some paltry debt, 
or languishing in gaol because of their inability 
to pay their fees for the privilege of being taken 
into custody on some charge of which the law 
had declared them innocent, were released by 
his charity. But the system remained much the 
same after his exertions as it was before. Some 
1 Brown's Life, p. 304. 2 Aikin's Vie-w, etc., p. ^^ j. 


changes for the better were certainly made, but 
they were few in number. So long as he was 
going his rounds, his personal influence secured 
greater care and humanity on the part of gaolers 
and turnkeys, and stirred up magistrates to some 
sort of realisation of their responsibilities ; but, 
when this stimulus was removed, things soon 
drifted back to their old state of neglect and 
cruelty. When Mrs. Fry began her work in 
Newgate in 1815 things seem to have been 
just as bad as when Howard first visited it in 
1775. The real reform of our prisons belongs to 
a later date. Howard was essentially a pioneer. 
It was an untried path that he trod. His work 
needed supplementing, before it could have the 
fuTTresults he desired. His own words, spoken to 
a friend just before he started on his last journey, 
were prophetic of what actually happened. 
" When I am dead, someone else will take up 
the matter and cany it through." It is to 
Mrs. Fry, and her brother-in-law, Sir T. Fowell 
Buxton, and those who laboured with them in 
the "Society for the Reformation of Prison Dis- 
cipline," that we must give the credit of actually 
bringing about the changes which have made 
prison discipline a reality, and have removed the 
almost incredible scandals of which only a century 
ago scarcely anyone took any account. Yet 
Howard's was a noble life, and was not lived in 


vain. He laid down the lines on which reform 
must proceed ; the need of almost every im- 
provement that has been made was first indicated 
in his books ; and his life has been the inspiration 
of every prison reformer since his day. It is a 
splendid example of a life consecrated to a single 
object, and lived in the belief that it was the call 
of God which summoned him to it. Whittier's 
fine lines on Charles Sumner, the American 
statesman, are singularly applicable to him, and 
with them this brief sketch of his life may be 
fitly concluded. 

"No trumpet sounded in his ear, 

He saw not Sinai's cloud and flame, 
But never yet to Hebrew seer 
A clearer voice of duty came. 

God said ; Break thou these yokes, undo 

These heavy burdens. I ordain 
A work to last thy whole life through, 

A ministry of strife and pain. 

Forego thy dreams of lettered ease, 
Put thou the scholar's promise by, 

The rights of man are more than these. 
He heard, and answered, 'Here am I.' 

He set his face against the blast, 

His feet against the flinty shard, 
Till the hard service grew, at last, 

Its own exceeding great reward." 


Aikin. Dr., 53, 163, 168, 179. 
Aikin, Miss, 197. 
Assize, the Black, 67. 

France, state of prisons in, 51, 86, 
99 ; Howard's adventures in, 

Bastile, the, 50. 

Bathurst, Lord, 117. 

Beccaria, the Marquis, 63. 

Bedford, election at, 48. 

Blackstone, Sir W., 115. 

Bridewells, 47. 

Bunyan, John, 37. 

Burke, E., panegyric on Howard, 

Butler, Bishop, 62. 

Cardington, 15 ; Howard's life at, 


Chaplains, gaol, jg. 
Charter Schools in Ireland, 161. 
Cherson, Howard's visit to, 175 ; 

death at, 183 ; monument at, 


Clapton, Howard's birth at, 2. 
Clarke, Dr., 177. 
Congregationalists, the, 27. 
Cowper, W., lines on Howard, 

42 ; letter from, 189. 

Dauphigny, 181. 
Denshaw, R., 53. 
Debtors, treatment of, 71. 

Enfieki. 2. 

Fleet Prison, the, 71. 
Fothergill, Dr., 115. 


"Garnish," 72, 85. 
Gaol fever, 67, 83. 
Gaolers, 75. 

Hackney, i, 2. 

Hamburg, 96. 

Hamilton, Sir W., 143. 

Hanover, 96. 

Holland, prisons in, 88. 

Howard, John, place and date of 
birth of, i ; education of, 3 ; 
apprenticed to a grocer, 5 ; 
death of the father of, 5 ; mar- 
riage of, 6 ; death of first wife 
of, 7 ; sails for Portugal, 9 ; 
taken prisoner by a French 
privateer, 9; elected F.R.S., 
IT ; marries again, 12 ; settles 
at Watcombe, 14 ; removes to 
Cardington, 15 ; birth of a son, 
15 ; death of second wife, 16 ; 
life at Cardington, 19 ; travels 
abroad, 20; treatment of son, 
30 ; appointed High Sheriff of 
Bedford, 35 ; how led to take 
an interest in prisons, 39 ; mode 
of travelling, 43 ; gives evidence 
before Parliament, 48 ; foreign 
travels of, 50 ; life at Warring- 
ton > S3 ' publishes The State of 
Prisons, 54 ; death of sister, 
102 ; renewed labours, 103 ; visits 
to the hulks, 105 ; foreign travels, 
108 ; renewed investigations in 
England, 114 ; publishes ap- 



pendtx and second edition, 114 ; 
travels in Northern Europe, 
119 in Russia, 120 Poland, 
122 Prussia, 122 England, 
Scotland, and Ireland, 123 
Spain and Portugal, 124; pub- 
lishes third edition, 129; re- 
searches as to the origin of the 
plague, 132 ; Eastern tour, 135 ; 
adventures in France, 136 ; visit 
to Malta, 143 ; skirmish with 
a privateer, 147 ; undergoes 
quarantine at Venice, 147 ; re- 
ceives bad news from pome, 
149 ; spends Christmasat Vienna, 
158; returns to England, 160; 
travels, 161 ; publishes book on 
Lazarettos, 163 ; starts on hLs 
last journey, 169; adventures 
in Russia, 172 ; arrives at Cher- 
SO") '75 1 illness, 177; death, 
182; funeral, 182; monument 
at Cherson, 183 in St. Paul's, 
184 ; portraits of, 190 ; personal 
appearance of, 193 ; tastes and 
habits of, 194. 

Howard, John (the younger), birth 
of, 15 ; early years of, 30 ; mis- 
conduct of, 152 ; insanity of, 
160 ; death of, 166. 

Howard, Mrs. (the first), 6 ; death 
of, 7. 

Howard, Mrs. (the second), 
marriage of, 12 ; anecdotes of, 
12. 13 ; death of, 16. 

Hulks, the, 105. 

Inquisition, the, 124. 

Leeds, Miss H., 12. 
Liege, 98. 

Madrid, 125. 
Malta. 143. 
Mannheim, 96. 
Mantle, the Spanish, 119. 
Marshalsea, the, 71. 
Mordvinoff, Admiral, 177. 
Munich, 98. 

Newgate, 71. 
Nuremburg, 97. 

Oglethorpe, General, 62. 
Osnaburg, 97. 

Penitentiaries, 107. 

Plague, the, 132. 

Pope, the, Howard'* interview 
with, 142. 

Popham, Mr., 45. 

Prague, incident at, in. 

Pretender, the Young, 24. 

Price, Dr., 53, 169. 

Priestman, Admiral, 179. 

Prisons (English), early attempts 
to reform, 61 ; faulty construc- 
tion of, 64 ; abuses in, 65 ; 
(foreign), state of, 81 ; (Irish), 
80 ; (Scotch), 79. 

Prisoners of war, treatment of, 

Prole, John, 153, 198. 

Prussia, prisons in, 95. 

James, Dr., 171, 179. 

Joseph ii., the Emperor, Howard's 

interview with, 158. 
Journeys, Howard's table of, 59, 


Quarantine, Howard's experience 
of, 147- 

Russia, too. 

King's Bench, the, 71. 

Lardeau, Mrs., 7. 

Lazarettos, Howard's researches 

or >. 133 : publication of book on, 


Savoz prison, the, riot in, 203. 
Smith, the Rev. '!'., 29, 51, 109, 

120, 127, 138, 155. 
Smyrna, 146. 
Society for Promoting Christian 

Knowledge, 62. 
Sparrow, Mr., 48. 

INDEX 211 

Statue of Howard, design for, Valladolid, 125. 

149 ; erected in St. Paul's, Venice, quarantine at, 147- 
j3*. Vesuvius, Howard s ascent of, 25. 

Surgeons, gaol, 78. Vienna, prisoners in, 93. 

Sweden, prisons in, 91, 95. 
Switzerland, prisons in, 87, 100. 
Symonds, the Rev. ]., 22, 27, Wake, Sir W., 48. 

Warrington, 53, 1141 163, 

Watcombe, 14. 

Wesley, John, 161. 
Thomasson, 54, 102, 152, 169, 184, Whatley, Mr., 116, 118. 

\Vhitbread, Lady Mary, 1 8, 24, 26. 

Thomson's Seasons, 62. Whitbread, Mr., 18, 48, 135. MO, 

Torture, 94. i+4, i&7> *7 2 > *79- 

Townsend, the Rev. M., 29. 
Transportation, 103. 
Turkey, prisons in, 92. Zante, 144, 146. 



HV Gibson, Edgar Charles 
8978 Sumner, Bp. of Gloucester, 
H8G5 1848-1924 

John Howard