Better prison than the workhouse

by Instant Noodle

Six young girls, inmates of the Lambeth workhouse, were brought up at Union Hall, charged with breaking several squares of glass. In their defence, they complained that they had been treated worse in the workhouse than they would be in prison, and said that it was to cause their committal to the latter place they committed the mischief. What a beautiful picture of moral England this little anecdote exhibits! What must be the state of society in a country where crime is punished less severely than poverty?

Old England, bless’d and favour’d clime!

Where paupers to thy prisons run;

Where poverty’s the only crime

That angry justice frowns upon.

Today is End Poverty Day.

This is from one of the earliest issues of Punch, when it was considerably more radical than later on in the 19th century.

October 23rd, 1841