LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XVI. 1819
William Roscoe to Sir James Mackintosh, [1823]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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“Although it is a very long time indeed since I had the pleasure of your society, and that only for a very short period, yet your track has been too public and too intimately connected with the advancement of civilisation to allow me to lose sight of you; to which I cannot refrain from adding, that there is also an unbroken link in the affectionate respect and attachment which you and I entertain in common for the memory of a most dear and lamented friend; which, if this intrusion stood more in want of apology than I trust you will think it does, would itself be sufficient for that purpose. I suspect, however, that this long introduction is more gratifying to my own feelings than necessary to recommend the subject of my letter, which, I well know, cannot of itself fail to attract as much of your attention as it may be in your power to bestow upon it. Conceiving, then, that in the approaching session of parliament you will again take the lead in bringing for-
wards such measures as seem necessary for the improvement of our criminal law, I have taken the liberty of submitting to your inspection a tract which I have just published, under the title of ‘
Additional Observations on Penal Jurisprudence,’ which are in part intended as an answer to an article in the Edinburgh Review for February last, but which also relate to the punishment of criminals, and the treatment of prisoners both in this country and America, and endeavour to ascertain the true principles by which we should be guided with respect to it. It appears to me, from the facts and publications which have come to my knowledge on both sides the Atlantic, that the philanthropic spirit, which, for some years past, has been employed in improving the condition of the most wretched portions of our fellow-creatures, has greatly declined, or has been put down by an opposite body, who have lately risen up in great force, and with unblushing front have endeavoured to recal the enormities of past ages, and to resort, for the reformation of their own species, to punishments of the most brutal and degrading kind. You will perceive I allude to the fashionable punishments of the tread-wheel in this country, and that of solitary confinement, already established in some of the American States, and rapidly extending itself over the rest.

“In this emergency I have not been able to
remain silent, although I can by no means flatter myself with the hope of producing any impression on the public mind, which seems, in every quarter where I have had an opportunity of judging of it, to be fully made up to the most vindictive, severe, and unprofitable kinds of punishment that human invention can devise. If, however, I could hope to suggest an additional argument on this subject, in opposition to a system which I hold in inexpressible abhorrence, I should not regret the time and thought I have employed upon it, and it is with this view I have intruded on a few of my friends, who, I know, feel an interest in every thing which tends to the extinction of crime and the mitigation of suffering, with a copy of my tract. Among these you stand too eminently conspicuous to escape the trouble I give you, as well by my pamphlet as by this long epistle, which may at least serve to assure you,” &c.