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THE EXPERIENCES OF A FIRST-CLASS MISDEMEANANT. THEN Dr. Jameson and his
, hard labour, some doubt existed in the highest had been presented to Ministers praying for the modifiquarters as to
cation of the senwhether the Lord
tence; and at last, Chief Justice in
after some little tended that they
dubitation, it was should be treated as
decided at a Cabinet first-class misdc
that the Royal premeanants. A tele
rogative should be gram was therefore
invoked in order to sent from the Home
retransfer the raiders Office to Holloway,
to the familiar ordering the
fortress at Holloway, prisoners not to be
where they at the subjected to the
present moment are ordinary treatment
still ensconced. of criminal convicts
The action of the until opportunity
Home Office in this had been afforded of
case was governed to ascertaining the exact
some extent by the nature of the judicial
precedent of 1885, sentence. Hence the
when in my own case report to which the
a sentence passed by Press Association
a judge was modified gave widespread
by a Minister. When currency, that the
this precedent was Home Office had
invoked at the Home ordered them to be
Office in favour of Dr. treated as first-class
Jameson, the reply misdemeanants. Be
was that the case fore that report was
was one of doubtful circulated, the Home
legality. The Home Office, having ascer
Office no doubt still tained that the sen
remembers the hubtence made no pro
bub that was made vision for exceptional
when stormy deputatreatment, had
tions of angry ordered the prison
matrons from Exeter
Hall invaded the out the sentence ac
official precincts with cording to law.
petitions for my reThat meant that Dr. Where Dr. Jameson, Sir J. Willoughby, and his companions are
lease, and when, to Jameson and his
add to the discomofficers were to be
fort of outside subjected to the usual indignities and hardships storm, the wrath of the Prime Minister blazed fiercely prescribed by law for the punishment of criminal con about the Department. The end of it was that the victs. They were carted over in Black Maria to Worm Home Office, coerced alike by outside pressure and wood Scrubbs, and there for one day and one night Ministerial displeasure, converted me from an ordinary were subjected to the usual discipline. They wore criminal convict into a first-class misdemeanant by one prison clothes, slept on plank beds, and were dieted with of those absurd official fictions which are so dcar to the the skilly and brown bread which form the staff of the bureaucratic mind. convict's life. Meanwhile the papers, misled by the I had been three days and three nights in Coldbath Press Association's report, had been praising the Gorern Fields Prison as an ordinary criminal convict, when the
authorities to carry
turnkey suddenly opened the cell door, Alung me my him. Since his conviction, however, I have recorered a clothes, and told me to dress and be ready to go to copy, and reproduce the substance of it here, with the Holloway. I obeyed, went to Holloway, and was soon rough original sketches, and a portrait of the writer, not established in Edmund Yates's old cell-a cell sub as first-class misdemeanant, but as Dr. Jameson was in sequently occupied by Jabez Balfour before his convic Wormwood Scrubbs-an ordinary criminal convict of the tion-wondering somewhat as to how the change had second division. been brought about. Next morning I received an official For those who may never have heard or who have long visit from the doctor. He asked me how I was. Never ago forgotten the circumstances under which I was sent was better in my life," I replied. He looked grave. “I to gaol, I may say that I was prosecuted and convicted don't quite see how that will do," he said, “I am on a charge of conspiring to abduct a girl of thirteen officially instructed to report upon your health. My years of age, Eliza Armstrong by name, whom I had instructions are that your life was in such imminent endeavoured to rescue from a life of shame, into which I danger, owing to the conditions of your imprisonment, had been assured her mother wished to sell her. The that it was imperative you should be brought here, it jury found me guilty of being deceived by my agent, Weing necessary in order to save your life. And now you strongly recommended me to mercy, and expresseu tell me that you never were better in your life!”
emphatic approval of the motive with which I acted, and I laughed heartily, seeing how the land lay. “Well,” of the result-the passing of the law raising the age of I said, “if you are officially informed that I was dan consent—which I achieved. My sentence—three months' gerously ill, all that you can now do is to report that the imprisonment without hard labour-was passed at the change has effected a marvellous cure, for I am now Old Bailey after a protracte: trial, in which the Archquite well.”
bishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Manning, the Bishop of The good doctor smiled grimly, and took his departure. London, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Morley, Mr. Labouchere, and What his report contained I have never heard. But it a host of others were subpoenaed as my witnesses. Not was well for me the Home Office acted first and inquired till long after I had served my time was it discovered afterwards.
that Eliza Armstrong was illegitimate. During the trial The precedent so established brought the Government
I had proposed to ask a tishing question that might have into sharp collision with the judge. It had not been
elicited the truth, but Sir Charles Russell-nov Lord considered proper heretofore to interfere with a judicial
Russell of Killowen-who was retained on our side, sentence without first consulting with the judge. Mr.
would not hear of any such question being put unless we Justice Lopes, the judge who sentenced me, was reported
had evidence to produce in justification of casting such at the time to have received the first intimation of the a slur upon the mother's character. Had the question change in his sentence from the papers. Rumour had it
been put, the whole issue of the trial would probably that there was much wrath in high judicial quarters, and
have been different. For the judge ruled that, as I in a day or two offended dignity was appeased by the admittedly had not the father's consent, I was guilts, publication of an official notification that the judge,
had the mother consented to part with her child. As being placed in possession of the official report as to my
the girl was in reality illegitimate, the father bad no health, entirely concurred in the modification of my legal rights. sentence.
This, however, is an old story now, into which it is The precedent was invaluable, because it showed with
unnecessary to go further. So, without further preface. what ease the Home Office can do anything it is made to
here is the story of my experiences in gaol, which do. The official non possumus perished when my sentence
resemble very closely those of the raiders, who are still was modified by virtue, not of imputed righteousness,
enjoying Her Majesty's hospitality on the breezy heights but imputed ill-health. With this precedent ready to
of Holloway. hand, Ministers had no difficulty in overruling the Lord I.-AS CRIMINAL CONVICTS IN COLDBATH. Chief Justice, and converting his criminal convicts into Sentence was pronounced. a buzz of eager conversation first-class misdemeanants.
filled the crowded court. Friends were pressing round As many of the friends and relatives of Dr. Jameson
the dock, where we had spent so many exciting days. t? and his officers must have wondered much how their
say good-bye. All was movement-& feverish murmur friends fared at Wormwood Scrubbs and how they are
of many voices. The long tension had given way, bast suffering at Holloway, I think it may not be amiss to
words were being hurriedly exchanged — "Good-hye,
good-bye, God bless you!" "I rather be in your reprint here the description which I wrote eleven years place than in that of your ju ige”-it was Mr. Waugh ago of my adventures in the samo dolorous regions. who said that, although I did not know his voice at the They were originally printed in the Pall Mall Gazette,
time from other voices rising from below. “Once more, and when republished as a threepenny pamphlet, under
good-bye." And waving my hand to the excited throng, the title “My First Imprisonment,” some thirty thousand
I descended the steps, with a confused vision of horse
hair wigs, eager faces, and a patch of scarlet still lingercopies were sold. The pamphlet has long been out of ing on my retina. Down we went, Jacques * and I-and print, and I was not even able to obtain a copy to send to Dr. Jameson to prepare him for what was awaiting
Jacques was the faithful and enthusiastic guide who had personally conducted me through the maze of the modern Labyrinth.
we were prisoners. We
IN BLACK MARIA. had been below for a few minutes every day of the
We were alone locked in trial, but now we went
with the warders. A lamp further afield.
at one end shed a dim
light down the centre. FIRST IMPRESSION OF
At last we started. As NEWGATE.
we drove through the Newgate is a deserted
prison gates we heard the paol. The long corridors,
hoarse roar of the crowd like combs of empty cells,
which had waited to give stand silent as the grave.
us a parting yell of exeAs we were marched down
cration as we left the passages and through one
scene in which for so iron gate after another, I
many days we had been experienced my first feel
the central figures. It of a gaol. Those who
was a poor howl, the have not been in prison
crowd apparently being will understand it when
small; but like Don Silva they in their turn receive
in the “Spanish Gypsy," sentence of imprisonment.
when Father Isidor was It is a feel of stone and
hanged, weiron, hard and cold, and,
Knew the sbout when, as in Newgate, the
For wonted exultation of the crowd prison is empty, there is
When malefactors die-or saints ur
heroes. added the chill and silence of the grave. The first
It was the last sound thing that strikts you is
from the outside world the number of iron gates
which we heard — a that are to be locked
curious contrast to the and unlocked, and the
cheering crowd whichi word turnkey first seems
little more than two real to you, Overhead
months before had the tiers of cells, with
followed us from Hyde their iron balustrades and
Park to Northumberland iron stairs, rose story
Street. After ten minutes' after story. It was as if
drive we arrived at Cold
PICKING OAKUM. you were walking at the
bath-in-the-Fields. bottom of the hold of some great petrified ship, looking
IN THE RECEPTION-ROOM. up at the deserted decks. What a sepulchre of hopes it
Jacques and I were made to stand in line, and once was, and how many ghosts of the unhallowed dead then marched off through echoing corridors and the just walk these aisles and corridors, where rings now usual endless series of grated gates to the reception-room, but the echo of the clang of the iron gate, or the
where some dozen or more fellow-prisoners were already spring of the lock, as the warder passes his prisoners assembled waiting till the dregs had drained into this along the via dolorosa that leads to the condemned
human cesspool from all the contributory police-stations. cells.
We were seated on forms fronting an officer, who entered AFTER THE SENTENCE.
our names, emptied our pockets, labelled us, and sent us When we reached these grim chambers we turned to across the room to select caps and shoes. The night was the left and entered the warder's office. It was bright law and cold. There was a glorious fire close to the and cheerful, and the fire glowed from the grate like a officer, but so far from us as to make us only colder for live thing, after the deadly chilly mirk of the prison, its sight. The officer was smart, somewhat rough, There we sat and waited, and as the minutes passed, although not with me; but as we sat waiting an hour in and we waited and waited, some faint sense of the the great empty room with our fellow-criminals, he change came over me. At last, after years of incessant became drowsy, and, contrary to regulations, the criminal stress and strain, and after six months in which every crew began to exchange notes. A wild-looking larrikin hour had to get through the work of two, I had come to whispered to me, “Do you know how much them wot a place where time was a drug in the market—where was in the Armstrong case has got?” I had the pleasure time was to hang heavy on my hands, where, after being of announcing my sentence, and explaining that we were long a bankrupt in minutes, I was to be a millionaire “them wot was in it," and noting the sensation that in hours. It was a sudden transition from the busy, followed. “You've got off cheap,” said my left hand crowded stirring excitement of an existence ex neighbour. Then came in a broken-down old gentleman ceptionally full of life and interest to the dull monoiony who had evidently seen better days. He had been drinkof a gaol.
ing, and smelt of it, although he was sober enough to walk At last the prison van was ready. We were ushered with a stick. When his pockets were searched no fewer out into the yard. “Look there," said the warder to than nine pocket knives were discovered hidden in about Jacques; “ see that door-that is where you will be next as many different pockets. The unearthing of each fresh time you come here.” “What is that?” said Jacques. pocket-knife produced a titter of merriment. “Now, old
The condemned cell,” said the warder, with a grim Dicky Nine Knives," said the officer, “what is your laugh, and we marched off to the prison van.
name?” And the poor, dilapidated, red-nosed creature
said his name was Mr.
PRISON UNIFORM. fellow, his journalistic days had been over some time. The prisoners' complete outfit is as follows:-Cap and “ Costermongers," a prisoner in Clerkenwell once re shoes, selected in the reception-room; a pair of worsted marked, “when times are bad, turn journalists ”—a fact stockings, even more monumental specimens of industry which explains many things. Most of the prisoners were and ingenuity than the boots—which was darn and drunk. Several might have avoided imprisonment by which was original stocking no one could tell, and in the paying a few shillings' fine; bat when you have not got darning one of the heels had somehow managed to stray à sixpence, a few shillings' fine is as hopeless as a king's half down the foot towards the toe; flannel shirt and ransom.
drawers; a blue-striped cotton shirt; trousers, waistcoat, HATS AND SHOES.
coat, pocket handkerchief, and stock. The stock is Prisoners are allowed to select their own hats and narrow strip of cloth, which buttons round the neck and shoes out of a miscellaneous assortment of all sizes.
over which the shirt collar folds. There is only one Whether the ordinary criminal head is abnormally small, pocket in the suit, into which the large, coarse pocket or whether the persons who had preceded us that day
handkerchief is thrust. The trousers are held in situ were abnormally big-headed men, I do not know ; but I by the waistband. At Coldbath the band had only one found nearly all the hats-dun-yellow glengarries without buckle, and a hole pierced to receive it. If I might make buttons or tails—too small for me. At last, after trying
a suggestion to benevolent governors, it is that wherever some twenty bats which had been going in succession the single-pronged waistband is used they will pierce round the score of my fellow-prisoners, I found one which
more than one hole in the thong of the buckle. The was luckily split open a little, so that by wearing it with
girth of prisoners differs so much that if there were thre the back to the front I could get a tolerable fit. The
holes an inch apart it would conduce much both to shoes were another difficulty. They were fearfully and
comfort and seemliness. Where there is only one hole, wonderfully patched. Some of them were monuments of
and the prisoner is slim, he has continually to be hitching careful industry. By careful selection I got two mis
up his breeches. It is a small reform, and it could fellowed ones which I thought would fit. When I came
easily be carried out. At Holloway the waistband has to lace them, however, I found them nip my feet so
the ordinary double sharp-pronged buckle, which makes badly that, after trying them for two days, I had to get
its own holes, and this, of course, is the best. But them changed. My new pair were so large I had to fill
somebody no doubt is wearing my old breeches to-das, them up with oakum when I went for exercise, and
and although they were of a most lovely hue-a fine shade then stumbled along as best I could.
of rich creamy-coloured yellow, plentifully bespattered
with the broad arrow—he will be often tempted, if he lx THE BATH.
thin and of an impatient disposition, to swear at the When we had all been entered up, we marched in absence of means for girthing himself up tight. When single file downstairs along passages until we came to the dressed complete a small pocket comb is given you and a bath and dressing
pair of leather bootroom. Here we were
laces, an article I halted, and sent to bath
never possessed since in detachments. I
I gave up wearing a squirmed a little at the
leather bootlace as a thought of the bath
watch-guard. Whei from the description of
the last loiterer bal the Amateur Casual,
finished his toilette ve but I was agreeably
tramped back to the surprised. The bath
reception-room, where, was filled fresh for
after a time, we were each prisoner; the
taken off to our cells water was clean, and although it might have
THE FIRST MEAL IN been pleasanter if a
GAOL. little more of the chill
Before we went, had been taken off, for
however, a tin looking it was nearly nine at
like an old American night in mid-Novem
beef tin, with someber, there was nothing
thing like paste at the to complain of. Your
bottom of it, and a own clothes are then
small loaf of hard taken away, and a
wholemeal bror prison suit given you.
bread, were handel The suits are allotted
to each of us. I in sizes. Jacques,
thought of the waiter being large and stout,
at the London Club, was ill to fit, and his
where I had dined the toilet took him along
night before, and time. As we had MY LITTLE ROOY."
valorously put the tin come in with drawers
to my lips, following and flannels, we were allotted underclothing—fairly the example of my neighbours. The viscous fluid comfortable, although the drawers were short in the leg. crawled slowly down the tin and touched my lips. Braces are superfluities of civilisation. So are cuffs, And there it stopped. Gruel at the best is an abomination collars, and neckties.
But prison gruel without any salt is about as
savoury a beverage as the contents of
THE VIEW FROM “HAPPY HOLLOWAY." hard labour prisoners was a distinction without a difference. “If I had to do a turn," standing up there against the wall. The gaoler explained said he, “I should prefer hard labour, for you don't the whereabouts of the various articles, handed me the do much more work, and you do get a bit moru bedclothes and a mattress about an inch thick, and then food.” As there are very few of the judges who know left me to my meditations. The cell was better than I this, and as Lord Justice Lopes in particular seemed expected—that is to say, it was larger, loftier, and not a. to imagine that by sentencing us to imprisonment with bad kind of retreat, immeasurably superior to all the out hard labour he was giving us a lighter sentence hermits' cells I had seen or heard of. There was a jet of than be awarded to Mdme. Mourez, I will quote here an gas, turned off and on by a tap outside the cell, the clean extract from Sir E. Du Cane's book on convict prisons, scrubbed wooden table and stool, and there also was the the contents of which seem to be unknown to at least one wooden salt cellar. Prison salt cellars are of wood, and judge on the bench :
there is no stinting of quantity. I salted my skilly, and The distinction made by the use of the term “imprisonment
broke the bread into it to soften it, fished it out with my to denote sentences of two years and under, and penal servitude wooden spoon, and tried to eat a piece or two. I unrolled to denote sentences of five years and upwards, no longer has my bedclothes, laid my plank bed down, stretched the any significance, now that they are both carried out in the mattress, and felt thoroughly glad to be alone after all United Kingdom; and it is misleading, for both classes of the turmoil. Here was quiet at least. prisoners are undergoing “imprisonment” and are equally in à condition of penal servitude. The use of the term “hard labour” in imposing the sentence of imprisonment, which is After a little time I lay down and slept. I woke once not used in passing one of penal servitude, might also well be or twice and heard the chimes of a clock in some distant omitted, for any prisoner sentenced to imprisonment should be spire, and dozed again, with a strange kind of consciousand is by law required to labour under specified conditions ness of the presence of an immense multitude of friendly suitable to his health and his capacity; and, in fact, except faces all around me. The enthusiastic audiences that I the specific kind of labour called first-class hard labour, defined had addressed in the North were visible as you see things in the Prisons Act, 1865, as crank, treadwheel, and other like kind of labour, the term “hard” has no particular mcaning,
in a camera obscura, on this side and on that, and I heard and its employment in the sentence makes no practical
the din and ghostly echoes of their cheers in the otherdifference.
wise unbroken silence of the prison. At a quarter to six HOW TO MINGLE MERCY WITH JUSTICE.
the bell rang, and every one was on the alert. A warder
opened the door and gave me instructions. I was only Judges ought to serve experimentally for a short term all the varieties of sentences which they inflict, except
in a reception cell Rş, that is to say, in the seventh cell
on the second floor of the reception wing. I would have of course the capital penalty. At present they are often to be taken to my destined abiding place in the course of scandalously ignorant of the nature of the penalties the day. I need not, therefore, clean out my cell, or which they deal out right and left, often in the most attend chapel, until I got into my regular cell. A reckless fashion. Lord Justice Lopes, I have subse prisoner swept out my cell. Then one of the principal quently heard, expressed his surprise that a sentence of warders came round. He was a big kindly man. “You
simple imprisonment” carried with it all the penalties may have made a mistake,” he said, “but you have done and indignities of hard labour, minus the non-existent
a good work.” crank and the rarely used treadmill. He is not the only
CHAPLAIN STOCKEN. judge on the bench whose general information on the
An hour afterwards I heard another voice engaged in sabject of the treatment of criminal convict prisoners
conversation with Jacques. Our cells were opposite, and stands sadly in need of a little personal investigation and experience.
you could hear a voice from across the corridor. I could not catch all that was said, but there was some sneering
allusion to the Salvation Army, some words about criminal Here was my cell. As I entered it my first sensation vice and Mdme. Mourez. Then it ceased, and in a few was one of pleasant satisfaction. There was the plank moments my door was unlocked, and a man with a high bed. I had heard so much about it from Irish members, hat cn, in appearance not unlike a “gent with a sporting and had so often alluded to it in my campaign in the turn," looked in. Well," he said, as he scanned me North, that it seemed almost like an old acquaintance from head to foot," don't you think you've got off very
MY FIRST CELL.