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For SEPTEMBER, 1799.
Art. I. Travels through the States of North America, and the Pro
vinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the Years 1795, 1796,
solations of war, and trembling at the frightful progress of anarchy and confusion, Mr. Weld was induced to cross the Atlantic, for the purpose of examining into the truth of the various accounts which have been given of the flourishing con-, dition of the United States of America ; and he was solicitous to ascertain how far, in case of future emergency, any part of the vast territories of the western continent might be regarded as a desirable place of abode. With such a view, he visited the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and the two Canadas; and the result of his observations and inquiries he has now communicated to the public, with the humble hope that this his first production may meet with a generous indulgence.
Mr. Weld does not, by any means, encourage a spirit of emigration. If he crossed the Atlantic prepossessed in favour of the people and the country which he was about to visit, he has returned with sentiments of a very different nature; and few indeed have been the instances, in which men accustomed to the thousand nameless comforts of an European life, would feel themselves happy in the wilds and deserts of America.
Of the style in which these travels are written, and of the nature of Mr. W.'s remarks and observations, an opinion may be formed from the extracts which we shall now offer to the perusal of our readers.
In his account of Philadelphia, Mr. Weld takes particular notice of the gaol, and of the laws of Pennsylvania with respect to the punishment of crimes :
· The gaol is a spacious building of common stone, one hundred feet in front. It is fitted up with solitary cells, on the new plan, VOL. XXX. B
and the apartments are all arched, to prevent the communication of fire. Behind the building are extensive yards, which are secured by lofty walls. This gaol is better regulated, perhaps, than any other on the face of the globe. By the new penal laws of Pennsylvania, lately enacted, no crime is punishable with death, excepting murder of the first degree, by which is meant, murder that is perpetrated by wilful premeditated intention, or in attempts to commit rape, robe bery, or the like. Every other offence, according to its enormity, is punished by solitary imprisonment of a determined duration. jections may be made to this mode of punishment, as not being suffi. ciently severe on the individual to atone for an atrocious crime ; nor capable, because not inflicted in public, of deterring evil-minded persons in the community from the coinmission of offences which incur the rigour of the law; but on a close examination, it will be found to be very severe ; and as far as an opinion can be formed from the trial that has been hitherto made by the state of Pennsylvania, it seems better calculated to restrain the excesses of the people than any other. If any public punishment could strike terror into the lawless part of the multitude; it is as likely that the infliction of death would do it as any whatsoever ; but death is divested of many of his terrors, after being often presented to our view ; 60 that we find in countries, for instance in England, where it occurs often as punishment, the salırtary effects that might be expected from it are in a great measure lost. The unfortunate wretch, who is doomed to forfeit his life in expiation of the crimes he has committed, in numberless instances, looks for. ward with apparent unconcern to the moment in which he is to be launched into eternity; his companions around him only condole with him, because his career of iniquity has so suddenly been impeded by the course of justice : or, if he is not too much hardened in the paths of vice, but falls a prey to remorse, and sees all the horrors of his impending fate, they endeavour to raly his broken spirits by the con. soling remembrance, that the pangs he has to endure are but the pangs of a moment, which they illustrate by the speedy exit of one whose death he was perhaps himself witness to but a few weeks before. A month does not pass over in England without repeated executions; and there is scarcely a vagabond to be met with in the country, who has not seen a fellow creature suspended from the gallows. We all know what little good effect such spectacles produce. But immured in darkness and solitude, the prisoner suffers pangs worse than death a hundred times in a day: he is left to his own bitter reflections ; there is no one thing to divert his attention, and he endeavours in vain to escape from the horrors which continually haunt his imagination. In such a sitnation the most hardened offender is soon reduced to a state of repentance.
• But punishment by imprisonment, according to the laws of Pennsylvania, is imposed, not only as an expiation of past offences, and an example to the guilty part of society, but for another purpose, regarded by few penal codes in the world, the reform of the criminal. The regulations of the gaol are calculated to promote this effect as soon as possible, so that the building, indeed, deserves the name of a penzientiery house more than that of a gaol. As soon as a criminal is committed to the prison he is made to wash; his hair is shorn, and if not decently clothed, he is furnished with clean apparel ; then he is thrown into a solitary cell, about nine feet long and four wide, where he remains debarred from the sight of every living being excepting his gaoler, whose duty it is to attend to the bare necessities of his nature; but who is forbidden, on any account, to speak to him without there is absolute occasion. If a prisoner is at all refractory, or if the offence for which he is imprisoned is of a very atrocious nature, he is then confined in a cell secluded even from the light of heaven. This is the worst that can be inflicted upon him.
• The gaol is inspected twice every week by twelve persons appoint. ed for that purpose, who are chosen annually from amongst the citizens of Philadelphia. Nor is it a difficult matter to procure these men, who readily and voluntarily take it upon them to go through the troublesome functions of the office without any fee or emolument whatever. They divide themselves into committees; each of these takes it in turn, for a stated period, to visit every part of the prison; and a report is made to the inspectors at large, who meet together at times regularly appointed. From the report of the committee an opinion is formed by the inspectors, who, with the consent of the judges, regulate the treatment of each individual prisoner during his confinement. This is varied according to his crime, and according to his subsequent repentance. Solitary confinement in a dark cell is looked upon as the severest usage ; next, solitary confinement in a cell with the admission of light ; next, confinement in a cell where the prisoner is allowed to do some sort of work; lastly, labour in company with others. The prisoners are obliged to bathe twice every week, proper conveniences for that purpose being provided within the walls of the prison, and also to change their linen, with which they are regularly provided. Those in solitary confinement are kept upon bread and water; but those who labour are allowed broth, porridge, puddings, and the like: meat is dispensed only in small quantities, twice in the week. Their drink is water; on no pretence is any other beverage suffered to be brought into the prison. This diet is found, by experience, to afford the prisoners strength sufficient to perform the labour that is imposed upon them; whereas a more generous one would only serve to render their minds less humble and submissive. Those who labour, are employed in the particular trade to which they have been accustomed, provided it can be carried on in the prison ; if not acquainted with any, something is soon found that they can do. One room is set apart for shoemakers, another for taylors, a third for carpenters, and so on; and in the yards are stone-cutters, smiths, nailers, &c. &c.
• Excepting the cells, which are at a remote part of the building, the prison has the appearance of a large manufactory. Good order and decency prevail throughout, and the eye of a spectator is never assailed by the sight of such ghastly and squalid figures as are continually to be met with in our prisons ; so far, also, is à visitor from being in. sulted, that he is scarcely noticed as tie passes through the different wards. The prisoners are forbidden to speak to cach other without there is necessity; they are also for bidden to laugh and to sing, or to
make the smallest disturbance. An overseer attends continually 10 see that every one performs his work diligently; and in case of the sinallest resistance to any of the regulations, the offender is immedia ately cast into a solitary cell, to subsist on bread and water till he returns to a proper sense of his behaviour ; but the dread all those have of this treatment, who have once experienced it, is such, that it. is seldom found necessary to repeat it. The women are kept totally apart froin the men, and are employed in a manner suitable to their sex. The labourers all eat together in one large apartment ; and regularly, every Sunday, there is divine service, at which all attend. It is the duty of the chaplain to converse at times with the prisoners, and endeavour to reform their minds and principles. The inspectors, when they visit the prison, also do the same ; so that when a prisoner is liberated, he goes out, as it were, a new man; he has been habituated to employment, and has received good instructions. The greatest care is also taken to find him employment the moment he quits the place of his confinement. According to the regulations, no person is allowed to visit the prison without permission of the inspectors. The greatest care is also taken to preserve the health of the prisoners, and for those who are sick there are proper apartments and good advice provided. The longest period of confinement is for a rape, which is not to be less than ten years, but not to exceed twenty-one. For high treason, the length of confinement is not to be less than six nor more than twelve years. There are prisons in every county throughout Pennsylvania, but none as yet are established on the same plan as that which has been described. Criininals are frequently sent from other parts of the state to receive punishment in the prison of Philadelphia.
• So well is this gaol conducted, that instead of being an expense, it now annually produces a considerable revenue to the state.'
The city of Washington, or the Federal city, planned in 1792, is designed to be the metropolis of the United States; and the congress is to assemble there, for the first time, in the year 1800. In the opinion of our traveller, the many local advantages of this city will render it, at a future period, the grand emporium of the West ; and a rival in magnitude and splendour to the cities of the old world.
• The city is laid out on a neck of land between the forks formed by the eastern and western or main branch of Patowmac River. This neck of land, together with an adjacent territory, which is in the whole ten miles square, was ceded to congress by the states of Maryland and Virginia. The ground on which the city immediately stands was the property of private individuals, who readily relinquished their claim to one half of it in favour of congress, conscious that the value of what was left to them would increase, and amply compensate them for their loss. The profits arising from the sale of that part which has thus been ceded to congress win be sufficient, it is expected, to pay for the public buildings, for the watering of the city, and ily for paving and lighting of the streets. The plan of the city was
drawn by a Frenchman of the name of L'Enfant, and is on a scale well suited to the extent of the country, one thousand two hundred niiles in length, and one thousand in breadth, of which it is to be. the metropolis; for the ground already marked out for it is no less than fourteen miles in circumference. The streets run north, south,. east, and west ; but to prevent that sameness necessarily ensuing from the streets all crossing each other at right angles, a number of avenues are laid out in different parts of the city, which run transversely ; and in several places, where these avenues intersect each other, are to be hollow squares. The streets, which cross each other at rightangles, are from ninety to one hundred feet wide, the avenues one hundred and sixty feet. One of these is named after each state, and a hollow square also allotted to each, as a suitable place for statues, columns, &c. which, at a future period, the people of any one of these states may wish to erect to the memory of great men that may appear in the country. On a small eminence, due west of the capitol, is to be an equestrian statue of General Washington,
• The capitol is now building upon the most elevated spot of ground in the city, which happens to be in a very central situation. From this spot there is a complete view of every part of the city, and also of the adjacent country. In the capitol are to be spacious apartments: for the accommodation of congress; in it also are to be the principal: public offices in the executive department of the government, together : with the courts of justice. The plan on which this building is begun is grand and extensive ; the expense of building it is estimated at a million of dollars, equal to two hundred and twenty-five thousand: pounds sterling
• The house for the residence of the president stands north-west of the capitol, at the distance of about one mile and a half. It is situated upon a rising ground not far from the Patowmac, and commands a most beautiful prospect of the river, and of the rich country beyond it. One hundred acres of ground, towards the river, are left adjoina ing to the house for pleasure grounds. South of this there is to be a large park or mall, which is to run in an easterly direction from the river to the capitol. The buildings on either side of this mall are all to be elegant in their kind; amongst the number it is proposed to have houses built at the public expense for the accommodation of the foreign ministers, &c. On the eastern branch, a large spot is laich out for the marine hospital and gardens. Various other parts are ap. pointed før churches, theatres, colleges, &c. The ground in general, within the limits of the city, is agreeably undulated ; but none. of the risings are so great as to become objects of inconvenience in a town. The soil is chiefly of a yellowish clay mixed with gravel. There are numbers of excellent springs in the city, and water is readily had in most places by digging wells. Here are two streams: likewise, which run through the city, Reedy Branch and Tiber Creek': The perpendicular height of the source of the latter, above the level of the tide, is two hundred and thirty-six feet. .
* Upon the granting possession of waste lands to any persona commonly called the location of lands, it is usual to give particular