In French Prisons

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1886 407 IN FRENCH PRISONS. TIl. St. Paul prison at Lyons, where I spent the first three months of my incarceration, is not one of those old, dilapidated, and damp dungeons which are still resorted to in many French provincial towns for lodging prisoners. It is a modern prison, and pretends to rank among the best prisons departemtntales. It covers a wide area enclosed by a double girdle of high walls; its buildings are spacious, of modem architecture, and clean in aspect; and in its general arrangement the modern ideas in penitentiary matters have been taken into account, as well as all necessary precautions for making it a stronghold in the case of a revolt. Like other departmental prisons, its destination is to receive those prisoners who are awaiting their trial, as also those of the condemned whose penalty does not exceed one year of imprisonment. A subterraneous gallery connects it with another spacious prison for women-the St. Joseph. It was on a December night that I arrived there from Thonon, accompanied by three gendarmes. After the usual question&, I was introduced into a pistols which had been cleaned and heated for receiving me, and this pistols became my abode until the following Marcb. On a payment of six francs per month and three francs to the waiter, each prisoner incarcerated for the first time may hire a piBtol6 for the time of his preventive incarceration, and thus avoid living in the cells. The pistols is also a cell, but it is £IOmewhat· wider and much cleaner than the cells proper. A deep window under the ceiling gives enough of light, and six or seven paces may be measured OD its stone pavement, from one corner to the opposite one. It has a clean bed and a small iron stove heated with coke, and for one who is occupied and is accustomed to solitude it is a tolerably comfortable dwelling-place-provided the incarceration does not last too long. Not so the cells which occupy a separate wing of the prison. Their arrangement is the same as everywhere DOW iB Europe: you enter a broad and high gallery, on both sides of which you see two or three storeys of iron balconies j all along these balconies are the doors of the cells, each of which is ten feet 10D~ and six or sevfln feet wide, and has an iron bed, a small table, and a small bench-all three made fast to the walls. These cells are very dirty at LyoDs, ,...... THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March full of bugs, and never heated, notwithstanding the wetness of the climate and the fogs which rival in density, if not in colour, those of London. The gas-burner is never lighted, and so the prisoner remains in an absolute obscurity and idleness from five, or even four on a winter night, until the next morning. Each prisoner himself cleans his cell; that is, be descends every morning to the yard to empty and wash bis bucket with dirty water, and be enjoys it~ exhalations during the day. Even the simplest accommodation for avoiding tbis inconvenience, which we found later on at ClairvauI, has not been introduced at Lyonp. Of course, no occupation is given to the prisoners during the preventive incarceration, and they mostly remain in perfect idleness throughout the da.y. The prison begins to exercise ita demoralising influence as soon 88 the prisoner has entered within its walls. Happily enough, the imprisonment before the trial is not so dreadfully protracted as in my own mother-country. If the affair is not too complicated, it is brought before the next assizes, which sit every three months, or before the following ones ;, and cases where the preventive incarceration lasts for more than ten or twelve montbsare exceptional. As to those affairs which are diRposed of by the Pol·ice Oorrection-neUe Courts, they are u8ually terminated-always by a condemnation- in the course of one month, or even a fortnight. Afew prisonerp, already condemned, are also kept in the cells-there being a recent law which permits the counting of three months of cellula.r imprisonment as four months of the penalty. This category, bowever, is not numerous, a special permission of the Ministry being necessary in each separate case. Small yards, paved with &sphalte, and one of them subdivided into three narrow compartments for the inmates of the cellular department, occupy the spaces between the high wing of the prison. There the prisoners take Rome exercist', or spend several hours in such work as may be done out-doors. Every morning I could see from my window some fifty men descending into the yard; there, taking seats on the aspbalte pavement, they were beating the wound-off cocoons from which the floss silk is obtained. Throu~h my window, or while occasionally passing by, I sometimes saw also swarms of boys invading one of the yards; and at a three years' distance I cannot remember these boys without a sad feeling and heartburn. 'l'he condemnations pronounced against children by the always condemning Pol-ice Correctionnelle Courts are, in fact, much more ferocious than those pronounced against adults. The adult may be condemned to a few months or a few years of imprisonment; the boy is invariably sent for the same crime to a ' House of Correction,' to be kept there until his eiRbteenth or twenty-first year. When the prosecutions against the Anarchists at Lyons bad reached their culminating point, a boy of fifteen, Cirier, was condemned by the Lyons Court of Appeal to be 1886 IN FRENOH PR1801rS. 409 kept in priSon until the age of twenty-one, for having abused the poliCe in a speech pronounced at a public meeting. 'l'he president of the same meeting, for exactly the same offence, was condemned to one year of imprisonment, and he is long since at liberty, while the 'boy Cirier will remain for several years more in' prison. Similar condemnations are quite usual in French Courts. I do not emctly know what the French penitentiary colonies for children may be, the -opinioD8 which I have heard being very contradictory. Thus I was told that the children are there taught agriculture, and that they are treated not very badly,especially since several improvementswhich have been introduced of late j but I was told also, on the other side, that -a few years ago, in a penitentiary colony in the environs of Clairvaux, the children were unscrupulously overworked by a person to whom they were intrusted, or rather rented by the State, and that they were abused. At any rate, we saw at Lyons numbers of boysmostly runaways and' incorrigible ones' from the penitentiary colonies; and to see the demoralisation developed among these boys was really awful. Bmtalised as they are by the warders, and left without any honest and moralising influence, they are foredoomed to become permanent inmates of prisons, and to die in a central prison, or in New Caledonia. The warders and the priest of the St. Paul prison were unanimous in saying that the only desire which day and night haunts these young people is that of satisfying the most abject passions. In the dormitorie8, in the church, in the yards, they are always perpetrating the same shameful deeds. When we see the formidable numbers of the attentats ala pudeur brought before the Courts every year, let us always remember that the State itself maintains, at Lyons and in fact in all its prisons, special nurseries for preparing people for those abject crimes. I seriously invite, therefore, those who elaborate Bchemes for the legal extermination ofold offenders in New Guinea, to hire, for a fortnight or so, a pistole at Lyons, and to re-examine there their foolish schemes. They would perceive that they begin their reforms from the wrong end, and that the real cause of the old offender lies in the perversion due to such infection-nests 88 the Lyons prison is. As for myself, I suppose that to lock up hundreds of boys in Buch infection-nests is 8urely to commit a crime much worse than any of those committed by any of the old offenders themselves. On the whole, the prisons are not places for teaching much honesty, and the St. Paul prison makes no exception to the rule. The lessons in honesty given f.-om above are not much better thari those imparted from below, &s will be seen from what follows. Two different systems are in use in ~'reDch prisoDs for Bupplying the inmates with food, dress, and other necessaries. In some of them the State is the undertaker who supplies both food and dress, as also the few other things which the prisoner can purchaEe at the canteen with VOL. XIX.-No. 109. E E 410 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March his own money (bread, cheese, some meat j wine aDd tobaeco for those who are not yet condemned; priion-knives, combs, brushes, paper, and 80 on). In this case, it is the State whiob miaes a certain percentage, varying from three to nine-tenths on the payment, due to the prisoner for the work he has done in prison, either for the State, or for private undertakers j three-tenths of the wages are retained if the prisoner is under preventive incarceration; five-tenths if he is CODdemned for the first time; and six, seven, eight, or nine-tenths if he hashad one, two, three, four, ormoreprevious condemnations; one-teIltb of the salary always remaining for the prisoner, whatever the number of condemnations. In other prisons the wbole is rented to a priva~ undertaker, who is bound to supply everything due in accordance with regulations. The undertaker in this case raises the just named tenths on the salaries of the prisoner, and he is paid, moreover, by the State a few centimes per day for each prisoner. As to those inmates who find it more advantageous to labour for the trade outside (skilled shoemakers, tailors, and scribes are often in this case), they are bound ~ pay to the undertaker a certain redemption money-mostlylOd. per day-and then they are dispensed from compulsory labour. Now, the St. Paul prison is established on the second system j everything is supplied by a private undertaker, and I must confess that everything is of the worst quality. The undertaker unscrnpulously robs the prisoners. Of course the food is far from being as bad as it is ill Russian prisons, but still it is very bad, especially if compared with what it is at Clairvaux. The bread is of a low quality, and the soup and Tation of boiled rice, or kidney..beans, are often execrable. As to the canteen, everything is dear and of the lowest kind; while the Clairvaux administration supplied us for threepence a piece of good steak with potatoes, we paid at Lyons sixpence for a slice of very bad boiled meat, and in the same proportion for everything. How the works are conducted and paid at Lyons I cannot judge from my own experience, but the above account does not inspire much confidence in the honesty of the enterprise. As to the dr~ it is of the worst kind, and also much inferior to what we saw at Clairvaux, where also it leaves very much to desire. When taking my daily walk in one of the yards at Lyons, I often saw the recently condemned people going to change their own dress for that of the prisoners, supplied by the undertakers. They were mostly work~ en, poorly but still decently' dressed-as French workmen, even the poorest, usually are. When they had, however, put on the uniform of the prison-the brown jacket, all covered with multicoloured. rags roughly sewn to cover the holes, and the patched-up trousers ail inches too short to reach the immense wooden shoes-they came out quite abashed with the ridiculous dress they had assumed. The very first step of the prisoner within the prison walls was thus to be wrapped up in a dress which is in itself a story of degradation. 1886 IN FRENOH PBJ80NS. 411 I did Dot see much of the relations between the administration and the common-law prisoners at Lyons. But I saw enough to perceive that the warders-mostly old police-soldiers-maintained all the well-known brutal features of the late Imperial police. As to the higher administration, it is pervaded with the hypocrisy which oharacterises the ruling classes at Lyons. To quote but one example. The Director of the prison bad reiterated to me on many occasions the formal promise of never sequestrating any of my letters, without letting me know that such letters had been confisc~ted. It was all I claimed. Notwithstanding that, several of my letters were confiscated, without any notice, and my wife, ill at that time, remained anxious without Dews from me. One of my letters, stolen in this way, was even transmitted to the Prooureur Fabreguettes, who read it before the Court of Appeal. I might quote several other examples, but this one will do. There'is in our system of prisons a feature well worthy of notice, but completely lost sight of, and which I would earnestly commend to the attention of all interested in penal matters. The leading idea of our penal system is obviously to punish those who have been recognised as' criminals; 'while in reality the penalty of aeveral years of imprisonment hurts much less the ' criminal' than people quite innocent-that is, his wife and children. However hard the conditions of prison-life, man is so made that he finally accommodates himself to these oonditions, and considers them as an unavoidable evil, as lOOn as he cannot modify them. But there are people who never can nor will accommodate themselves to the imprisonment of the man who was their only sopport in life. Such are the prisoner's wife and his cliildren. The judges and lawyers who so freely pronounce sentences of two, three, and five years of imprisonment--have they ever reasoned about the fate they are preparing for the prisoner's wife? Do they know how few are the women,who can earn more than six or seven shillings per week? And do they know that to live with a family on such a salary means sheer misery with all its dreadful consequences? Have they ever reflected also about the moral sufferings which they are inflicting on the prisoner's wif~-the scom of her neighbours, "the sufferings of the woman who naturally exaggerates those of her husband, the preoccupations for the present and the future?'. • • Who can measure all these sufferings, and count the tears shed by a prisoner's wife? He who could, would certainly say that the law hits far less the man considered as a criminal than his family which it considers &s innocent. If the slightest attention were ever given to the sufferings of the prisonerI' kinsfolk, 8uI'ely the inventors of schemes of civilised prisons would not have invented the re()t)ption-halls of the modem dUDgeons. They would have said to thpmselves that the only consolation of the prisoner's wife is to see her husband, and they would not BB2 412 THB NINETEENTH OENTURY. March have inflicted on her new and quite useless sufferings, and planned those halls where everything has been taken into accouD~verytbing excepting the wife who comes once a week to cast a glance on her husband, and to exchange a few words with him. Imagine a circular vaulted ball, miserably lighted from above. If you enter it at the reception-bonrs, you are literally stunned. A clamour of some hundred voices speakin~, or rather crying all at once, rises from all parts of it towards the vault, which sends them back and mingles them into an infernal noise, together with the piercing whistles of the warders, the grating' of the locks, and the clasbing of the keys. Your eyes must be first accustomed U> the darkness before you recognise that the clamour of voices comes from six separate groups of women, children, and men, crying all at once to be heard by those whom they address. Behind these group', you perceive along the walls six other groups of human faeeP, hardly distinguishable in:the darkness behind iron-wire networks and iron bars. You cannot divine at once what is going on in these groups. The fact iE', that to have an interview with his kinsfolk the prisoner is introduced, together with four other prisoners, into a small dark coop, the face of which is covered with a thick network of iron bars. His kinsfolk are introduced into another coop opposite, also covered with iron bars, and separated from the former by a passage three feet wide, where a warder is posted. Each coop receives at once five prisoners; while in the opposite coop some fifteen men, women, and children-the kinsfolk of the five prisoners-are squeezed. The intA!rviews hardly last for more than fifteen or twenty minntes, all speak at once, louder and louder, and amidst the clamour of voices, each of which is raised louder and louder, one soon must cry with all his strength to be heard. After a few minutes of Buch exercise, my wife and myself were voiceless, and were compelled simply to look at each other without speaking, while I climbed like a tiger on the iron bars of my coop to raise my face to the height of a small window which feebly lighted the coop from behind; and then my wife could perceive in the darkness my profile on the grey ground of the window. She used to leave the receptionhall saying that such a visit is a real torture. I ought to say a few words about the Palais de Justice of Lyon~ where we were kept for ten days during our trial. But I should be compelled to enter into such disgusting details that I prefer to go on to another subject. Suffice it to say that I have seeD rooms where the arrested people were awaiting their turn to be called before the examining magistrate, amidst ponds of the most disgusting liquids; and that there are within this' Palace' several dark cells which have alternately a double destination: sometimes they are literally covered with human excretioDs; and a few days later, after a hasty sweep, they are resorted to for locking up newly Arrested 1886 IN FRENOa PRISONS. 413 people. Never in my life had I seen anything 80 dirty &8 this Palace, which will always remain in my recollections as a palace of filth of all descriptions. It was with a real feeling of relief that I returned from thence to my pistole, where I remained for two months more, while most of my comrades addressed the Court of Appeal. This last confirmed, of course, the sentences pronounced by order of Government in the Police Correctionnelle Court j and a few days later, on March 17, 1883, we were brought in the night, in great secrecy, and with a ridiculous diSpIRY of police force, to the railwaystation. There we were packed up in cellular waggoDs to be transported to the ' Maison Centrale' of Clairvaux. It is remarkable how so many improvements in the penitentiary system, although made with excellent intentions of doing away with some evils, always create, in their turn, new evils, and become a new source of pain for the prisoners. Such were the reflections which I made whenlockedupin a cell of the cellularwaggonwhichwas slowlymoving towards Clairvaux. A French cellular waggon is an ordinary empty waggOD, in the interior of which a light frame-work consisting of two rows of cells, with a passage between, has been constructed. But I aDi afraid of conveyjng a false and exaggerated impression to my readers when I write 'two rows of cells.' 'Two rows of cupboards' would be more correct, for the cells are just of the size of small cupboards, where one may sit down on a narrow bench, touching the door with his knees and the sides with his elbows. ODe need not be very fat to find it difficult to move within this narrow space; and he need not be too much accustomed to the fresh breezes of the sea-side to find difficulties in breathing therein. A small window protected by iron bars, which is cut through the door of the cupboard, would admit enough air; but to prevent the prisoners from seeing one apother and talking, there is an additional little in8trument~of torture in the shape of a Venetian blind, which the warders close as soon as they have locked up somebody in the cupboard. Another instrument of torture is an iron .stove, especially when it runs at full speed to boil the potatoes and roast the meat for the warders' dinner. My fellow-prisoners, all workmen or a great city, accustomed to the want of fresh air in their small workshops, did not actually suffocate, but two of us were prevented from fainting only by being allowed to st()P out of our respective cupboards and to breathe some air in the passage between. "Happily enough, our journey lasted only fifteen hours; but I have Russian friends, who were expelled from France, and who have spent more than forty-eight hoW"S in a cellular waggon on their way from Paris to the Swiss frontier, the waggon being left in the night at some S~tiOD, while the warders called at. the Macon and other prisons. The worst is, however, that the prisonerj are completely given up 414 THE 'NINETEENTH OENTURY.. March to the mercy of the two warders; if the warders like, they put the cuffs on the hands of the prisoners already locked up in the cupboards, and they do that without any reason whatever; aDd if they like better, they, moreover, chain the prisoners"feet by means of irona riveted ~ the floor of the cupboards. All depends upon the good or bad humour of the warders, and the depth of their psychological deductions. On the whole, the fifteen hours which we spent in the cellular waggon remain among the worst reminiscences of all my comrades, and we were quite happy to enter at last the cells at Clairvaux. The central prison of Clairvaux occupies the site ofwhat formerly was the Abbey of St. Bernard. The great monk of the twelfth century, whose statue, carved in stone, still rises on a neighbouring hill, stretching its arms towards the prison, had well chosen'his residence at the mouth of a fine little dale supplied with excellent water from a fountain, and at the entrance to a wide and fertile plaiD watered by the Anbe. Wide forests cover still the gentle slopes of the hills, whose flanks supply good building-srone. · Several lime-kilns and forges are scattered round about, and the Paris and Belfort railway runs now within a mile from the prison. During the great Revolution the abbey was confiscated by the State, and its then extensive and solid buildings became, in the earlier years of our century, a Dlp8t de Mtm,diciU. Later OD, their destination was . changed, and DOW the former abbey is a ' Maison de Detention et de Correction,' which shelters about 1,400 and occasionally 2,000 inmates. It is one of the largest in France; its outer wall-the mu,. .d'enceim,tB--a formidable masonry some twenty feet high, incloses, besides the prison proper, a wide area occupied by the buildinglt of the administration, barracks of the soldiers, orchards, and even cornfields, and has an aggregate length of nearly three miles. The buildings of the prison proper, with its numerous workshop!, cover a square about 400 yards wide, inclosed by another still higher wall-the 'In:'U'r de ronde. With its lofty chimneys, which day and night send their smoke towards a mostly cloudy sky, and the rhythmical throbbing of its machinery, which is heard late in the night, it has the aspect of a little manufactnring town. In fact, there are within its walls more manufactttres than in many small towns. There are a big manufacture of iron beds and iron furnitnre, lighted by electricity, and employing more than 400 men; workshops for weaving velvet, cloth, and linen; for making frames to pictures, lookingglasses, and meters ; for cutting glass and fabricating all kinds of ladies' attire in pearl-shell; yards for cutting stone; Bour mills, and a variety of smaller workshops; all dress for the inmates being made by the men themselves. The whole machinery is set in motion by four powerful steam-engines and one turbine. An immense orchard and a com-field, as also small orchards allotted to each warder and 1886 IN FBENOH PRISONS. 416 emp1ny~; are al80 comprised within the outer wall ad cultivated by the prisoners. Without seeing it, one could hardly imagine what an immense fitting up and expenditure are necessary for lodging and giving occupation to some 1,400 prisoners. Surely the State never would Itave undertaken this immense expenditnre, had it not found at Clairva11%, St. Michel, and elsewhere, ready-made buildings of old abbeys. And it never would have organised so wide a system of productive work, had it not attracted private undertakers by renting to them the prisoners' labour at a very low price, to the disadvantage of free private industry. And still, the current expenses of the State for . keeping up the Clairva11X prison and the like must be very heavy. A numerous and costly administration, seventy warders, nourished, lodged, &lid paid from 45l. to 66l. per year, and a company of801dien which are kept at Clairvau, bear hard on the budget-not to speak of the e~nses of the central administration, the transport of prisoners, the infirmary, and so on. It is obvious that the abovementioned percentage, raised on the salaries of the prisonen, which does Dot exceed an average of 7d. per day and per head of employed men, faUs very short of defraying all these heavy expenses. Leaving aside the political prisoners who are occasionally sent thither,· there are at Clairvaux two different categories of inmates. The great number are common-law prisoners condemned to more than one year of imprisonment but not to hard labour (these last being transported to New Caledonia); and there are, besides, a few dozen of soldiers condemned by martial courts-the so-called ~icm""aire8. These last are a sad product of our system of militarism. A soldier who has assaulted his corporal, or officer, is usoally condemned to death; but if he has been provoked-which is mostly the case-the penalty is commuted into a twenty years' imprisomnent, and he is sent to Clairvau. I caDnot explain how it happens, but there are tUten,ticmnailru who have to undergo two or three like condemnation_probably for assaults committed during their imprisonment. There was much talk, during our stay at Clairvaux, of a man, about forty years old, who had cumulated an aggregate penalty reachirig sizty-five years of.imprisonment; he eouid fulfil his sentence only if he could prolong his life beyond his hundredth year. On the 14th of Jo1y, twenty-five years of his term were taken off by a decree of the President of the Republic; but still the man had some forty years more to remain imprisoned. It may seem incredible, but it is true. Everybody recognises the absurdity of such condemnations, and therefore the tUtention71aVr68 are Dot submitted to the usual regimen of the common-law prisoners. They are Dot CODstrained to compulsory labour, and they enter a workshop only if they like. They wear a better grey dress than other prisoners, and are permitted to take 416 THE NINETEENTH ·OENTUBY. March wine at the canteen. Those who do not go to the workshops occupy a separate quarter, and spend years and years in doing absoluUl, nothing. It is easy to conceive what some thirty soldiers, who have spent several years in barracks, may do when they are locked up for twenty years or so in a prison, and have no occupation of any kindt either intellectual or physical. Their quarter has 80 bad a. reputation t.hat the rains of brimstone which destroyed the two Biblical towns are invoked upon it by the administration. As to the common-law prisoners, they are submitted to a regimen of compulsory labour, and of absolute silence. This last, however, is 80 adverse to human nature that it has in fact been given up. It is. simply impossible to prevent people from speaking when air work in the workshops; and, without trebling the number of warders and resorting to ferocious punishments, it is not easy to prevent prisoners from exchanging words during the hours of rest, or from chat~ring in dormitories. During our stay at Clairvaux we saw the system abandoned more and more, and I suppose that.the watchword is now merely to prohibit loud speaking and quarrels. Early in the morning-at five in the summer, and at six in the winter-a hell rings. The prisoners muat immediately rise, roll up their beds, and descend into the yards, where they stand in ranks, the men ofeach workshop separately under the command ofa warder. On his order, they march in Indian file, at a slow pace, towards their respective workshops, the warder loudly crying out, un, deux I un, deux! and the heavy wooden shoes answering in cadence to the word ofcommand. A few minutes later, the steam-engines sound their call, and the machines run at full speed. At nine (half-past eight in the summer) the work is stopped for an hour, and the prisoners are marched to the refectories. There they are seated on benches, all faces turned in one direction, so as to see only the backs of the men on the next bench, and they take their breakfast. At ten they return to the workshops, and the work is interrupted only at twelve, for ten minutes, and at half-past two, when all men les8 than thirty-five years old, and having received no instruction, are sent for an hour to the school. At four the prisoners go to take their dinner; it lasts for ballan- hour, and a walk in the yards follows. The same Indian files are made up, and they slowly march in a circle, the warder always crying his cadenced un, deux I They call tbatfair6la queue <U 8auciBBcmB. ~t five the work begins again and lasts until eight in the winter, and until nightfall during the other seasons. As soon as the machinery is stopped-which is done at six, or even earlier in September or March-the prisoners are locked up in the dormitories. There they must lie in their beds from half-past six until six the next morning, and I suppose that these hours of enforced rest must be the most painful hours of the day. Certainly, they are permitted to read in their beds until nine, but the permiBSion 1886 IN FBENOH PRISONS. 417· iI eft'ective only for those whose beds are close to the gas-burners. At nine the lights are diminished. During the night each dormitory remains under the supervision of pr6vtJt8 who are nominated from among the prisoners and who have the more red lace on their sleeves, as they are the more assiduous in spying and denouncing their comrades. On Sundays the work is suspended. The prisoners spend the day in the yards, if the weather permits, or in the workshops, where they may read, or talk-but not too loud-or in the school-rooms, where they write letters. A band composed of some thirty prisoners plays in the yard, and for half-an-hour goes out of the interior walls to play in the cour iChonft6Ur-a yard occupied by the lodgings of the administration-while the fire-brigade takes some exercise. At six all must be in their beds. Besides the men who are at work in the workshops, there is also a brigada ezterieurs, the men of which do various work outside the prison proper, but still within its outer wall-such' as repairs, painting, sawing wood, and so on. They also cultivate the orchards of the house and those of the warders, for salaries reaching but a few pence per day. Some of them are also sent to the forest for cutting wood, cleaning a canal, and so on. No escape is to be feared, because only such men are admitted to the exterior brigade as have but one or two months more to remain at Clairvaux. Such is the regular life of the prison-a life running for years without the least modification, and which acts depressingly on man by its monotony and its want of impressions-a life which a man can endure for years, but which he cannot endure-if he has no aim beyond this life itself-without being depressed and reduced to the state of a machine which obeys, but has no will of its owna life which results in an atrophy of the best qualities of man and a development of the worst of them., and, if much proloDged~ renders him quite unfit to live afterwards in a society of free fellowcreatures. As to us, the' politicals,' we had a special regimen-namely, that of prisoners submitted to preventive incarceration. We kept our own dress; we were not compelled to be shaved, and we could smoke. We occupied three spacious rooms, with a separate small room for myself, and had a little garden, some fifty yards long aDd ten yards wide, where we did some gardening on a narrow strip of earth along the wall, and could appreciate, from our own experience, the benefits of an 'intensive culture.' One would suspect me of exaggeration if I enumerated all crops of vegetables we made in our kitchen-garden, less than fifty square yards. No compulsory work was imposed upon us; and my comrades-all workmen who had left at home their families without support-never ~ould obtain aDy regular employment. They tried to sew ladies' stays for an undertaker of Clairvaux, but soon abmdoned the work, seeing that with the deduction of three418 THE NINETEENTH OENTURY. March tenths of their salaries for the State they could not earn more than from three to four pence a day. They gladly accepted the work in pearl-shell, althongh it was paid but a little better than the former, but the orders came only occasionally, for 8 few days. Over-production had occasioned stagnation in this trade, and other work could not be done in our rooms, while: any intercourse with the common-law prisonen was severely prohibited. Reading and the study of languages were thus the chief occopations of my comrades. Aworkman can study only wheD he has the chance . of being imprisoned-and they studied eamestly. The study of languages was very successful, and I was glad to find at Clairvam a practical proof of what I formerly maintained on theoretical ground&-namely, that the Russians are not the only people who easily learn foreign languages. MyFrench comrades learned, with great ease,English, German, Italian, and Spanish; some of them mastered two langnagelJ during a two years' stay at Clairvaux. Bookbinding was among us the most beloved occupation. .Some instruments were made out of pieces of iron and wood, heavy stones and small carpenters' pftBJel were resorted to; and as we finally obtained-about the end of the second.year-some tools worth this name, all learned bookbinding with the facility with which an intelligent workman learns a new profession, and most of us reached a great- perfection in the art. A special warder was always kept in our quarter, and as soon 88 some of us were in the yard, he regularly took his seat on the steps at the door. In the night we were locked up under at least sh or seven locks, and, moreover, a round of warders pased each two homs, and approached each bed in order to ascertain that nobody had vanished. Arigorous supervision, never relaxed, and maintained by the mutual help of all warders, is exercised on the prisoners as soon 88 they have left the dormitories. During the lut two years I met with my wife in a little room within the walls, and, together with some one of our sick comrades, we took a walk in the solitary little garden of the Director, or in the great orchard of the prison; and never during these two .years was I left out of sight of the warder who accompanied us, for so much as five minutes. No newspapers penetrated into our rooms,· excepting scientific periodicals or illustrated weekly papers. Only. in the second year of our imprisonment were we permitted to receive a halfpenny colourless daily paper, and a Governmental paper published at Lyons. No socialist literature was admitted, and I could not introduce -even a book of my own authorship dealing with socialist literature. As to writing, the most severe control was exercised on the manuscripts I intended to send out of the prison. Nothing dea1.iDg with social questions, and still less with Rosslan affairs, was permitted to issue from the prison-walls. The common-law prisoners are permitted to write letters only once a month, and only to their Dearest rela· 1886 IN FRENCH PRISONS. 419 tives. As to us, we could correspond with friends as much as we liked, but all letters" sent or received were submitted to a severe oensonhip, which was the cause of repeated confliots with the administration. The food of the prisoners is, in my opinion, quite insufficient. The daily allowance consists chiefly of bread, 850 grammes per day (one pound and nine-tenths). It is grey, but very good, and if 8 prisoner complains of having not enough of it, one loaf, or two, per week are added to the above. The b~eakfast consists of a soup which is made with a few vegetables, water, and American lard--this last very often rancid and bitter. At dinner the same soup is given, and 8 plate of two ounces of kidney-beans, riee, lentils, or potatoes is aaded. Twice a week the soup is made with meat, and then it is served only at breakfast, two ounces of boiled meat being given instead of it· at dinner. The men are thus compelled to purchase additional food at the canteen, where they have,_ for very honest prices varying from three-farthings to twopence, small rations of cheese, or sausage,pork-meat, and sometimes tripe, as also milk, and small rations of figs, jams, or fruits in the summer. Without this supplementary food the men obviously could not maintain their strength j but many of them, and especially old people, earn so little that, after deducting the percentage money raised by the State, they cannot spend at the canteen even twopence per day. I Jeally wonder how they manage to keep body and soul together. Tfo different kinds of work- are made by the prisoners at Clairvaux. Some of them are employed, by the State, either in its manufactures of lineD, cloth, and dress for the prisoners, or in various capacities in the bouse itself (joiners, painters, man-nurses in the infirmary, accountants, &c.). They are mostly paid from 8d. to lOde a day.

){any, however, are employed in the above-mentioned workshops by

private undertakers. Their salaries, established by the OhamlYre de Oom'lM'rCB at Troyes, vary very much, and are mostly very low, especially in those trades where no safe scale of salaries can be established on account of the great variety of patterns fabricated and of the great subdivision of labour. Very many men earn but from 6d. to 8d. per day'; and it is only in the iron bed manufacture that the salaries reach Is. 8d. and occasionally more; while -I fo~nd that the average salaries of 125 men employed in various capacities reached only lId. (1 franc 17 centimes) per day. This figure is, however, perhaps above the average, there being a great number of prisoners who earn but 7d. or even 5d., especially in the workshop for' the fabrication of socks, where old people are sent to die from the dust and exhaustion. Several reasoDs might be adduced as an apology for these small salaries; the low quality of prison-work, the fluctuatioDs of trade, and • several other considerations ought no doubt to be taken into account. 420 TH~ NINETEENTH OENTURY. March But the fact is that undertakers who have rapidly made big fonunes in the prisons are Dot rare; while the prisoners consider with full reason that they a~e robbed when they are paid only a few pence for twelve hours' work. Such a payment is the more insufficient, as one half, or more, of the salaries is taken by the State, and the regular food supplied by the State is quite inadequate, especially for a man who is doing work. If the prisoner has bad a previous condemnation before being sent to a central prison-and this is very oRen the case-and if his salary is 10d. per day, 6d. are taken by the State, and the remaining 4d. are divided into two equal parts, one of which goes to the prisoner's reserve-fund and is handed over to him only on the day of his delivery ; while the other part-that is, 2d. only-is inscribed on his ' dispo«able' account and may be spent for his daily e~pense8 at the canteen. With 2d. per day for supplementary food a workman obviously cannot live and labour. In consequence of that a system of gratificatitYns bas been introduced; they mostly vary from two to five shillings, and they are inscribed in full on the prisoner's 'disposable' account. It is certain that this system of gratifications has given rise to many abuses. Suppose a 8killed workman who is condemned for the third time and of whose salary the State retains seven-tenths. Suppote further that the work he has made during the month is valued at 408. The State taking from this salary 288., there will remain only 68. to be inscribed on his 'disposable' account. He proP98eS then to the undertaker to value his work only at 208. and to add a gratification of 108. The undertaker accepts, and 80 the State has only 148.; the undertaker disburses 308. instead of 408.; and the prisoner has on his disposable account 38., as also the whole of the gratification-that is, 138.; all are thus satisfied, and if the State is at 1088 of 148.---ma foi, tant pis I Things look still worse if the great tempter of mankindtobacco- be taken into account. Smoking is severely prohibited in prisons, and the smokers are fined from od. to 48. every time they are discovered smoking. And yet everybody smokes or chews in the prisons. Tobacco is the current money, but a money EO highly prized that a cigarette-a nothing for an accomplished smoker-is paid 2d., and the fJd. paq'Uf,t of tobacco has a currency worth 4& or even more in times of scarcity. This precious merchandise is so highly esteemed that each pinch of tobacco -is first chewed, then dried and smoked, and finally taken as snuff, although reduced to mere -.sb. Useless to say that there are undertakers who know how to exploit this human weakness and who pay half of the work done with tobacco valued at the above prices, and that there are also warders who carry on this lucrative trade. Altogether, the prohibition of smoking is a source of so many evils that the }'rench Administration probably.will be compelled soon to follow the example of Germany and to sell tobacco 1886 IN FRENOH PRISONS. 421 at the canteens of the prisons. This would be also the surest meaDS for diminishing the number of smokers. We came to Clairvaux at a propitious moment. All the old administration had been recently dismi88ed, and a new departure taken in the treatment of prisoners. A year or two before our arrival a prisoner was killed in his cell by the keys of the warders. The official report was to the effect that he bad hanged himself; but the surgeon did not sign this report, and made another report of his own, stating the assassination. This circumstance led to a thorongh reform in the treatment of prisoners, and I am glad to say that the relations between the prisoners and the warders at Clairvaux were without comparison better than at Lyons. In fact, I saw much less brutality and more human relations than I was prepared to see-and yet the system itself is so bad that it bring! about most honible results. Of course the relatively better wind which now blows over Clairvaux may change in a day or two. The smallest rebellion . in the prison would bring about a rapid change for the worse, &8 tbere are enough warders and inspectors who sigh for 'the old system,' which is still in use in other French prisons. Thus, while we were at Clairvaux, a man was brought thither from Poissy-a central prison close by Paris. He considered his condemnation 8S unjust, and cried loudly day after day in his cell. In fact, he already bad the symptoms of a commencing madness. Now to silence him the Poissy authorities invented the following plan. They brought a fireengine and pumped water on the man through the opening in the door of bis cell j they then left him quite wet in his cell, notwithstanding the winter's frost. The intervention ofthe Press was necessary to bring about the dismissal of the Director. As to the numerous revolts which have broken out during the last two months in several French prisons, they seem to show that 'the old system' is in full force Btill. And now, what are these better relations between warders and priBoners which I ,saw at Clairvaux? Many chapters could be written about them, but I shall try to be as short as possible, and point out only their leading features. It is obvious that a long life of the warders in common and the very necessities of their service have-developed among them a certain brotherhood, or rather esprit ds earps, which causes them to act with a remarkable uniformity in their relatioDs with the prisoners. In consequence of that uprit d6 corps, as soon as a prisoner is brought to the prison, the fint question of the warders is wbether be is a Boomis or an insoumiB-a submi.ive fellow, or an insubordinate. If the answer is favourable, the prisoner's Ufe may be a tolerable ODe j if not, he will not soon leave the prison; and if he happens ever to leave it, he will do it with broken health, and so exasperated against society at large that he will be loon reinterned in a JVison and finiah his days there, if not in New Cale422 THB NINETEENTH OENTUBY. donia. t If .the pmODel is deacribed as an insuborQinate, be will be punished again and again. If.he speaks in the raub, UtJaough not louder ~tbBD tbe other&, a remonatmnce will be. made in 111ch .terms that-be will.replyand be pUDiahed. .And·each~pUDil1unellt will .be so disproportionate .that he will object agaiJa,. &Del the .punishment be doubled. 'A man who has been once &ent- to; tIhe punishment quartet, is .sure to retum thither a few days after be bas been released from it,' say tbe warden, even the mildest ones. Andthis puDiabment is Dot a light one. The man is not beaten ; .he is not knocked down. No, we.are oivilisecl.people, and t1l.e· punished man i. merely brought to the .ce1lu1a~ quarter, and locked up in a cell. .The cell is quite empty.: it has neither bed· Dor bench. For the night a mattress is given, and the prisoner muat lay his dress outside. his eell, at the door. Bread and water are his food. 'As soon '88 the prison-bell rings in th,e morning, he is .taken to a small 'covered yard, and there he mus*-walk. Nothing more; but .·our refined civilisation has learned how to make a torture even of this natural exercise. At a formal slow ;pace, under the erieB of 11/R" dB~ the -patients must walk aU the day long, roUD.d the building. ~hey walk~.for twenty minutes; _then & rest .follows.· For ten minutes they must sit don immovable, each of them on his numbered .tone, and walk again for twenty minutes) and so OD· tbroughaU the day, as long' as the engines of the .workshops are running; .and the punishment does not last ODe day, O~ two; it lasts for whole months. 'It:is so cruel that the prisoner implores but one thing: 'Let ·me return ·to the workshopR.~-' Well. we ahall see 'that in a fortnight or two,' is the usual answer. But the fortnight goes over, and the next one ~,aod the patient still ooDtinues to walk for twelve hours every day. Then he revolts. . He begins to cry in his' cell, to in&wt the warders. Then he become~ 'a rebel ~--,-a, dreadful qualification for auy one w:bo is in the hands of the brotherhood of warders-and as such he will rot in the cells, and walk throughout his life. If he assaults a warder, he will not be sent to New Caledonia: he will still remain in his cell, and ever walk an" walk in the small building. One man, a peasant, seeing DO issne from this horrible situation, preferred to poison himself -rather than live such a life-a terrible story which I shall some day tell in full. As we were walking with my wife in the garden, more than two hundred yards distaot from the cellular quarter, we heard sometimes horrible, desperate cries coming from that building. My wife, terrified and trembl~Dg, seized my arm, and I told her that it was the man whom they bad watered with the fire-pump at Poisey, and now, quite contrary to the law, had brought, here, to Clairv&ux. Day after day-two, three day. without interruption. he cried: 'VacMs, (/T6dJi/ns, as,aBBi"", I' (vach6 is t1.le name pf the warders in the prison language), or loudly called out his story, until he fell, exhausted, on • 1886 IN J'RENOH PRIBONS. 423 the floor of his cell. He considered as unjust his detA!ntion at Clairvaux in the punishment quarter, and he declared loudly that be would kill a warder rather than remain all his life in a cell. For the next two months he remained quiet. An inspector had vaguely promised him that he might be sent into the workshops on the 14th of July. But the 'F~te National' came, and the man was Dot released. His exasperation then had no limits; he cried, insulted, and 888Ilulted the warders, destroyed the wooden parts of his cell, and finally was sent to the black-hole, where heavy irons were laid upon his hands and feet. I have not seen these irons, but when he reappeared again in the cellular quarter, be loudly cried out that he was kept in the black-hole for two months, with irons on his hands and feet 80 heavy that he could not move. He already is half mad, and he will be kept in the eell .until he becomes a complete lunatic, and then • • • then be' will be lubmitted to all those tortures which lunatics have to ·eBdors ill prideDs and ~11l1D8. • • • And the immense problem of suppresliDg these a~ities mses at itt full size before us~ The relations between the admillistration and the prisoners are Dot imbued at Clairvaux with the blUtality which I often have spoken of OD former occasions. And yet our penitentiary system -fatally brings about such horrible results 88 the above-the more horrible as they must be considered.a Decesilary consequence of the system itself. But why are theee.· lufferiDg& I ioftieted 0& human creatures? What are the moral result. achieved at the 008t of such 8ufferings and of so heavy an expenditure of ~uman labour as that implied by our prisons P In what directioa lies the solution of the immense problem railed by our 8yBtA!m oft puni8hm8Dts aDa prisons P Such are the grave questions whicla neoeuarily riee before 'he observer. To these questions I shall return on another occuion•. P. KBOPGUIN.