Page:Transportation and colonization.djvu/22

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of banishment that the famous edict of the emperor Claudius, referred to in the eighteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, subjected all persons "infected," to use the phraseology of the Roman historian, "with the Jewish and Egyptian superstitions;" for on its being decreed in the Roman senate that four thousand criminals of this description should be transported to Sardinia, to be employed in the public works of that island, the philosophical historian, alluding to the extreme insalubrity of the climate, and the consequent probability that the criminals would speedily die, coolly observes that the loss in that case "would be insignificant."[1] It was probably also to this species of banishment that the apostle John was subjected in the island of Patmos; the profession of Christianity being then regarded by the Roman magistrates as an infamous crime. At all events, it is evident from these instances, that penal settlements were established and maintained by the Romans, for the reception and employment of transported criminals, in the island of Sardinia and in the isle of Patmos.

The first of the European nations that followed the example of the Romans in the formation of such settlements were the Portuguese and the

  1. "Vile damnum," Tacit. Annal. lib. ii.