Mr. Stead in Prison
The Pall Mall Gazette, quoted in Benjamin Waugh, William T. Stead: a Life for the People (1885)
To-day the Rev. Benjamin Waugh was permitted by the courtesy of the Home Office to hold half an hour’s conversation with the prisoner on matters of business. Mr. Waugh was shown into the waiting-room, bare, barren, and forbidding, with a long deal table in the middle of the room, with bench-like seats round it. There the visitor waited for a quarter of an hour, when he was taken upstairs to the visiting room, where the prisoner was already seated. The visiting-room, it is sufficient to say, is similar to the first, but with a better light. A warder sat in the room, and Mr. Waugh sat at the other end of the table, for he was not allowed either to shake hands with or otherwise welcome his friend. Mr. Stead wore a yellow Glengarry-shaped cap, of which he observed that it “was like the cap he wore when a boy, but that it was without the ribbons.” He wore a loose-fitting short jacket of rough light yellow material, buttoned at the throat—of course without a collar, showing all the tops of the shirt and waistcoat in irregular line. He appeared to have been “cropped,” but the visitor was allowed to ask no questions. His beard and moustache, of course, remained. His trousers were loose, baggy, of yellow linen of the duck type, with the Government arrows stamped with ink in four different places. His boots were large and must have been uncomfortable; one was patched upon the toe, and the other had a thick new yellow leather sole upon it. He wore a round cloth label on his left breast marked R 2/8.
Mr. Stead looked very cold, and put his hands inside his baggy sleeves as if for warmth. He was in good spirits, and seemed able to say many things, but the interview was business. Mr. Stead was supplied with a mattress last night. By the regulation of the prison he has a Bible in his cell, but from its situation we have reason to believe that he will not have light to read it. Mr. Stead arrived at Coldbath Fields last night, when he received the regulation supper of skilly and brown bread. He was knocked up at six for a breakfast of skilly and brown bread, after which he saw the doctor. His dinner is suet pudding and brown bread at noon, and supper at 5.30 of skilly and brown bread. He sees no one again till breakfast the next morning. It may be said that a prisoner sentenced to hard labour has to pick three pounds of oakum as his daily task: Mr. Stead, not having been so sentenced, will have to pick one pound.