Howard, John

, the indefatigable friend of the poor and unfortunate, was born at Hackney, in 1726. His | father, who kept a carpet-warehouse in Long-lane, Smithfield, ciymg wiule he was very young, left him to the care or‘ guardians, by whom he was apprenticed to Mr. Newnham, grandfather to the late alderman Newhham, a wholesale grocer in the city of London. His constitution appearing too weak for attention to trade, and his father having left him, and an only sister, in circumstances which placed them above the necessity of pursuing it, he bought out the remainder of his indentures before the time, and took a tour in France and Italy. On his return, he lodgei at the house of a Mrs Lardeau^ a widow, in Stoke- Newing. ton, where he was so carefully attended by the lady, thai though she was many years older than himself, he form an attachment to her, and in 1752 made her his wife. She Wag possessed of a small fortune, which he generously presented to her sister. She lived, however, only three yeai after their union, and he was a sincere mourner for hei loss. About this time he became a fellow of the royal society, and, in 1756, being desirous to view the state ol Lisbon after the dreadful earthquakej he embarked for thai city. In this voyage, the Hanover frigate, in which hi sailed, was taken by a French privateer, and the inconveniences which he suffered during his subsequent confine ment in France, are supposed to have awakened his sympathies with peculiar strength in favour of prisoners, and to have given rise to his plans for rendering prisons less pernicious to health. It is supposed, that after his release, he made the tour of Italy. On his return, he fixed himself at Brokenhurst, a retired and pleasant villa near Lymington, in the New Forest. Mr. Howard married a second time in 1758; but this lady, a daughter of a Mr. Leeds, of Croxton in Cambridgeshire, died in child-bed of her only child, a son, in 1765. Either before, or soon after the death of his second wife, he left Lymington, and purchased an estate at Cardington, near Bedford, adjoining to that of his relation Mr. Whitbread. Here he much conciliated the poor by giving them employment, building them cottages, and other acts of benevolence; and regularly attended the congregations of dissenters at Bedford, being of that persuasion. His time was also a good deal occupied by the education of his only son, a task for which he is said to have been little qualified. With all his benevolence of heart, he is asserted to have been disposed to a rigid severity of discipline, arising probably from a very | strict sense of rectitude, but not well calculated to form a tender mind to advantage. In 1773, he served the office of sheriflj which, as he has said himself, “brought the distress of prisoners more immediately under his notice,” and led to his benevolent design of visiting the gaols and other places of confinement throughout England, for the sake of procuring alleviation to the miseries of the sufferers. In 1774, trusting to his interest among the sectaries at Bedford, he offered himself as a candidate for that borough, but was not returned; and endeavouring to gain his seat by petition, was unsuccessful. He was, however, in the same year, examined before the House of Commons, on the subject of the prisons, and received the thanks of the house for his attention to them. Thus encouraged, he completed his inspection of the British prisons, and extended his views even to foreign countries. He travelled with this design, three times tnrough France, four through Germany, five through Holland, twice through Italy, once in Spain and Portugal, and once also through the northern states, and Turkey. These excursions were taken between 1775 and 1787. In the mean time, his sister died, and left him a considerable property, which he regarded as the gift of Providence to promote his humane designs, and applied accordingly. He published also in 1777, “The State of the Prisons in England and Wales, with preliminary Observations, and an Account of some Foreign Prisons,” dedicated, to the House of Commons, in 4to. In 1780 he published an Appendix to this book, with the narrative of his travels in Italy; and in 1784, republished it, extending his account to many other countries. About this time, his benevolence had so much attracted the public attention, that a large subscription was made for the purpose of erecting a statue to his honour; but he was too modest and sincere to accept of such a. tribute, and wrote himself to the subscribers to put a stop to it. “Have I not one friend in England,” he said, when he first heard of the design, “that would put a stop to such a proceeding?” In 1789, he published “An Account of the principal Lazarettos in Europe, with various Papers relative to the Plague, together with further Observations on some foreign Prisoas and Hospitals; and additional remarks on the present state of those in Great Britain and Ireland.” He had published also, in 1780, a translation of a French account of the Bastille; and, in 1789, the duke of Tusany’ new code ef civil law, with an English translation* | In his book on Lazarettos, he had announced his. intention of revisiting Russia, Turkey, and some other conntries, and extending his tour in the East. “I am not insensible,” says he, “<>f the dangers that must attend such a journey. Trusting, however, in the protection of that kind Providence which 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 prosecution of this design, let not my conduct be uncandidly imputed to rashness or enthusiasm, but to a serious, deliberate conviction, tnat 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 couid be expected in the narrower circle of a retired life.” He did actually fall a sacrifice to this design; for in visiting a sick patient at Cherson, who had a malignant epidemic fever, he caught the distemper, and died, Jan, 20, 1790. An honour was now paid to him, which we believe is without a precedent: his death was announced in the London Gazette.

Mr. Howard was, in his own habits of life, rigidly temperate, and even abstemious; subsisting entirely, at one time, on. potatoes; at another, chiefly on tea and bread and butter; of course not mixing in convivial society, nor accepting invitations to public repasts. His labours have certainly had the admirable effect of drawing the attention of this country to the regulation of public prisons. In many places his improvements have been adopted, and perhaps in all our gaols some advantage has been derived from them. We may hope that these plans will terminate in such general regulations as will make judicial confinement, instead of the means of confirming and increasing depravity (as it has been too generally), the successful instrument of amendment in morality, and acquiring habits of industry. While the few criminals, and probably very few, who may be too depraved for amendment, will be compelled to be beneficial to the community by their labour; and, being advantageously situated in point of health, may suffer nothing more than that restraint which is necessary for the sake of society, and that exertion which they ought never to have abandoned. Considered as the first mover of these important plans, Howard will always be honoured with the gratitude of his country; and his monument, lately erected in St. Paul’s cathedral, is a proof that this gratitude is not | inert. The monument is at the same time a noble proof of the skill and genius of the artist, Mr. Bacon, and represents Mr. Howard in a Roman dress,- with a look and attitude expressive of benevolence and activity, holding in one hand a scroll of plans for the improvement of prisons, hospitals, &c. and in the other a key while he is tramp* ling on chains and fetters. The epitaph contains a sketch of his life, and concludes in words which we also heartily adopt: “He trod an open but unfrequented path to immortality, in the ardent and unremitted exercise of Christian charity. May this tribute to his fame excite an emulation of his truly glorious achievements!” To this may be added the eloquent eulogium pronounced upon Mr. Howard by Mr. Burke, in his “Speech at Bristol, previous to the election in 1780.” Having occasion to mention him, he adds, “I cannot name this gentleman without remarking, that his labours and writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has visited all Europe, not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art not to collect medals, or collate manuscripts; but to dive into the depths of dungeons to plunge into the infection of hospitals to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gage and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original, and 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. He will receive, not by retail, but in gross, the reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter1

1

Aikin’s Life of Howard, 8vo. Account of his death, Clarke’s Travels, vol. I. p. 604 —Gent. Mag. vol. LX. LXIII. LXVI. LXIX. Hayley’s Life of liuomey, p. 87.