Pœna autem vehemens ac multò sævior illis,

Quas et Cæditius gravis invenit aut Rhadamanthus,

Nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem.—Juv. Sat. xiii. (1)

Think my former state a happy dream,

From which awaked, the truth of what we are
Shows us but this, I am sworn brother now
To grim Necessity, and he and I
Will keep a league till death.

(1) ["Trust me, no tortures which the poets feign,
Can match the fierce, the unutterable pain
He feels, who, night and day, devoid of rest,
Carries his own accuser in his breast.".

Richard II.


THAT a Letter on Prisons should follow the narratives of such characters as Keene and Grimes is unfortunate, but not to be easily avoided. I confess it is not pleasant to be detained so long by subjects so repulsive to the feelings of many, as the sufferings of mankind; but, though I assuredly would have altered this arrangement, had I been able to have done it by substituting a better, yet am I not of opinion that my verses, or, indeed, the verses of any other person, can so represent the evils and distresses of life as to make any material impression on the mind, and much less any of injurious nature. Alas! sufferings real, evident, continually before us, have not effects very serious or lasting, even in the minds of the more reflecting and compassionate; nor, indeed, does it seem right that the pain caused by sympathy should serve for more than a stimulus to benevolence. If, then, the strength and solidity of truth placed before our eyes have effect so feeble and transitory, I need not be very apprehensive that my representations of Poor-houses and Prisons, of wants and sufferings, however faithfully taken, will excite any feelings which can be seriously lamented. It has always been held as a salutary exercise of the mind, to contemplate the evils and miseries of our nature: I am not therefore without hope, that even this gloomy subject of Imprisonment, and more especially the Dream of the Condemned Highwayman, will excite, in some minds, that mingled pity and abhorrence, which, while it is not unpleasant to the feelings, is useful in its operation. It ties and binds us to all mankind by sensations common to us all, and in some degree connects us, without degradation, even to the most miserable and guilty of our fellow-men.

The Mind of Man accommodates itself to all Situations; Prisons otherwise would be intolerable Debtors: their different Kinds: three particularly described; others more briefly An arrested Prisoner: his Account of his Feelings and his Situation The Alleviations of a Prison - Prisoners for Crimes Two condemned: a vindictive Female: a Highwayman- The Interval between Condemnation and Execution - His Feelings as the Time approaches — His Dream.

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'Tis well-that Man to all the varying states
Of good and ill his mind accommodates ;
He not alone progressive grief sustains,
But soon submits to unexperienced pains :
Change after change, all climes his body bears;
His mind repeated shocks of changing cares:
Faith and fair Virtue arm the nobler breast;
Hope and mere want of feeling aid the rest.

Or who could bear to lose the balmy air Of summer's breath, from all things fresh and fair, With all that man admires or loves below; All earth and water, wood and vale bestow, Where rosy pleasures smile, whence real blessings flow;

With sight and sound of every kind that lives,
And crowning all with joy that freedom gives?

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