10 NOVEMBER 1860, Page 16

INDIAN (*ADDS. * THE volume before us is from the hand

that last year produced an admirable digest of avast body of= facts concerning-the sanitary condition of our -soldiers in subject of incalculable int-- pa:tame to the existence of an. Anglo-Indian empire. The pre- sent work is not less ably and carefully elaborated than its-pre- decessor. It exhibits the same industry in collecting statistical data, the.sarae-prudence in testing them, the same skill and. good sense in methodizing them and developing the practical conclu- sions to which they point. The subject; it must be owned, is one of less immediate interest to readers at home ; but it greatlyson- cerns the good government, and consequently the prosperity, of India ; and that is a subject to which no Englishman can 'afford, on national or even on personal grounds, ,.to remain indifferent. Bad .government of India means so much the less wealth accruing thence to. British enterprise and industry, so much: the more wasteful expenditure there of British life and treasure, so much the more money taken out of everybody's pocket by the Chancellor of the Exchequer: , _ ' The mortuary hills of the Indian gaols are "the most appalling that are to be found among, any class of human beings on the face of the civilized world." This is a strong statement, but Dr. Ewart justifies it by facts and figures equally strong. His tabu- lated account of the sickness and mortality from all diseases among Native prisoners in Bengal for, twenty-one years, in Bombay for twenty-three years,, and in Madras for ten years, shows thatthe deaths per 1000 of prisoners amounted to 72-5 in. the first-named Presidency,. 61..5 in the second, and 61.3 in the third. This is equivalent to the fact that the periods necessary for the entire extinction of the criminal population iindergoing imprisonment in each of the three Presidencies have been about fourteen ,years, sixteen years, and sixteen years respectively. The rate of mor- tality in Indian gaols cannot be accurately compared with that which prevails among the free population, because the two prime requisites on one side are wanting, namely, a trustworthy census, and an exact registration of deaths.; 'but it appears very probable that the deaths in the Native pOpulation, exclusive of the army and of criminals, do not exceed an average of thirty-two per thousand-throughout India. Hence the excess of mortality.against the prisoners is 40.5 per thousand in Bengal; 29.5 in Bombay,; 29'3 in Madras. These figures represent just so much preventible mortality, as well as a fearful amount of injustice, for they imply the conversion annually of thousands of minor into capital punish- ments. The European troops serving in India are the only class in that country affording death-rates which approach those inci- dent to the inmates of the gaols ; but the excess against the latter in all India is no less than 21.8 per thousand—" a mere fraction of a unit below the mean mortality-rate of the aged and the young, the male and female population of. England and Wales." The mortuary bills of the Indian gaols owe their " appalling " character, in Dr. Ewart's opinion, chiefly to bad discipline and bad sanitary arrangements. All possible faults are commonly combined in the latter, especially in Bengal ; and the discipline is a system which, in addition to many other evils, "has corruption for its basis, and a rotten method of defective classification,er even promiscuous association, for its superstructure." But other causes, not so easily remediable, have their share in producing the • The Sanitary Condition and Discipline of Indian Gaols. By Joseph Belot, M.D. Published by Smith, Elder, and Co.

lamentable result. These are, the peculiar predisposition to disease common to the low and wretched class to which the pri- soners generally belong, and the little power their constitutions i possess to resist its attacks even with the aid of medical treat- ment. Making all due allowance, however, for these two un- favourable conditions, there still remains a very wide margin of preventible mortality ; and our author is confident that the pri- soners' death-rate might speedily be reduced to, say, 32 per thousand, on an average, for all India." Even after this point shall have been attained, he believes that a further great reduc- tion may be accomplished, seeing what remarkable results have followed from improved sanitation in the prisons of England. There the death-rate in 1850 was 11.8 per thousand, while that of the Infanhy of the Line was 18/, and that of the general male population, of ages corresponding to those of the prisoners, was 15.92 per thousand.

The latest statistical returns from the Indian gaols prove that many of them were " pest-houses of the moat fatal description," and the probability is, that such they remain to the present mo- ment. The very wonderful variation in the rates of mortality exhibited in those returns is proof positive of corresponding in- equalities of sanitation. Official tables are quoted by Dr. Ewart, from which we gather the following facts—In Bengal gaols, in the year 1855-6, the lowest mortality occurred at Nuddeah (15.95), the highest at Bha.ugulpore (402.48) ; in 1856, the range was from Pone (9.98) to Bhaugulpore (263.59) ; in 1857, from Mel- lish (11.74) to Mymensingh (417.48) ; in 1858, from Dargeeling (24.4) to Akyab (783.8). During ten years (1846-1855), the several death rates in 51 Bengal gaols varied from 24.5 at Noak- hally to 182.3 at Bhaugulpore. In 1857, the mean rate of mor- tality in 29 Punjaub gaols was 66.7 per thousand, the lowest rate being that of Shahpore (3.0), the highest that of Peshawur (240.1). In 14 Bombay prisons, in 1853, the maximum mortality was at

Broach (104.65), the minimum at Sattarah (4.52). In 33 Madras gaols, during the ten years ending 1853, the average rate was 61 per thousand, the minimum being 12 at Tellieherry, the maximum 237.5 at Negapatam.

These figures go far to substantiate the conclusion, which Dr. Ewart draws from a much more elaborate survey of facts, that the majority of Indian gaols- are unwholesome in site and con- struction, and badly administered; nor does he seem unwarranted by the details he adduces in asserting, that "most of the disad- vantages of the prisoners, as regards health and the chances of 'life, are so palpably artificial and unnecessary, that they may be easily removed by intrinsic means, without putting the State to any extra expense." One of the worst and most easily remedied defects of the system is, that want of administrative unity which was the darling vice of the Company's rule, and which continues to flourish rankly after its demise. A 'resent, the medical officer of an Indian gaol has no power to enforce sanitary measures. He may recommend them, but all the real executive or direotorial action is vested in the civil officer, the chief result being an enor- mous waste of time and money in useless correspondence. Di. Ewart would put an end to this abuse at once. He proposes that "the medical officer should be as supreme in all matters connected with preventive, as he is now in respect to curative medicine," for this, he alleges, " would guarantee the provision of a maximum of well-timed, well-directed, and prompt execu- tive action, and that too with a minimum of expense and agency."