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Works & Memoirs of W. T. Stead

"Sentence was pronounced, a buzz of eager conversation filled the crowded court. Friends were pressing round the dock, where we had spent so many exciting days, to say good-bye. All was movement—a feverish murmur of many voices. The long tension had given way, last words were being hurriedly exchanged—" Good-bye, good-bye, God bless you!" "I'd rather be in your place than in that of your judge"—it was Mr. Waugh who said that, although I did not know his voice at the time from other voices rising from below. "Once more, good-bye." And waving my hand to the excited throng I descended the steps, with a confused vision of horse-hair wigs, eager faces, and a patch of scarlet still lingering on my retina. Down we went, Jacques and I—Rebecca and Mdme. Mourez had preceded us—and we were prisoners. We had been below for a few minutes every day of the trial, but now we went further afield. Newgate is a deserted gaol. The long corridors, like combs of empty cells, stand silent as the grave. As we were marched down passages and through one iron gate after another, I experienced my first feel of a gaol. Those who have not been in prison will understand it when they in their turn receive sentence of imprisonment. It is a feel of stone and iron, hard and cold, and, when, as in Newgate, the prison is empty, there is added the chill and silence of the grave.."

W. T. Stead, My First Imprisonment


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