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Circumstances of Mr. Wakefield's Imprisonment, continued
Proposals for à Greek and English Lexicon-Letters.
Mr. WAKEFIELD was too sanguine in his expectation of a speedy issue to his misunderstanding with the gaoler. Men in such stations are generally possessed of “hearts unknowing how to yield.” Our friend was perplexed and harassed upon this account during several months of the year 1800, “ exposed,” as he describes it, “ to all the degrading vexations and mortifying insults of persecution, without the dignity of suffering.”
It was a serious aggravation of this injury, that its consequences could not be confined to himself, but extended, in a distressing manner, to his wife and family, and all who were interested in his happiness. The particulars of the affair cannot be better related than in his
own words, copied from a papero which we received from him at the time.
“ About ten days before my arrival two of my
brothers came down to Dorchester, and agreed with the gaoler to give him one hundred pounds a year for my board and lodging. I was to occupy a single room in the house, and to have my meals with the family. It was mentioned that if I drank fermented liquors of any kind I should provide them for myself; that I was little solicitous about my dinner, and took most pleasure in my tea at breakfast, and in the afternoon. Few words passed on the occasion; but the gaoler declared, that if
o Should the minute detail in this paper require an apology, we offer it in the words of Dr. Johnson,
“ These diminutive observations seem to take away something from the dignity of writing, and therefore are never communicated but with hesitation, and a little fear of abasement and contempt. But it must be remembered that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyment; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities,
the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, -or is ruffled by obstacles, and frequent interruption."
“ Journey to the Western Islands,"
" Bamff,” Works viii. 232.
one thing was more agreeable than another, he should be glad to provide it for me.
“ For some time after my arrival, the article of diet went on tolerably well; but I soon perceived that, in consequence of familiarity and other circumstances, even my most reasonable wishes began to be treated with neglect. The morning and afternoon meals, which they knew to be essential to my habits, became extremely bad.
The hours also of the meals were so variable as to occasion constant headaches and languor for want of regular sustenance.
“ A fortnight before the expiration of half a year
my imprisonment, I told the gaoler that the extreme irregularity of their meals made it impossible for me to diet with them any longer; and I accordingly furnished my own provisions in my own room. I expected l.im to offer some accommodation in this article, by enforcing more regularity, but not a word of civility to this effect came from his lips. When
quarter was completed, I made the regular quarterly payment, but sig. nified that I should not be willing to pay at that rate in future, after such treatment, and being thus compelled to purchase my own provisions. I added that I should lay the affair
before the magistrates. He said that I might do as I pleased, but that I must continue to pay as before. From an inability to relieve myself, I paid my other two quarters, to the end of the year.
“ As the gaoler, in consequence of my persisting to remonstrate against his unjustifiable demands, had declared his fixed determination to remove me from his house, at the expiration of the year (if the magistrates should not prevent him) into the Common Gaol, amongst the felons, where I must have slept in a stone cell without fire-place, or window, with an open grate-work of iron, which admits the rain; dreading the effects of his resentment, at my request, the Duke of
applied to Mr. Morton Pitt, one of the magistrates, and Lord
through Mr. Fox, to Mr. Frampton, another of the magistrates, to interfere in my behalf, and induce the gaoler to suffer me to continue, on reasonable terms, or provide apartments in the prison, detached from the common felons.
“ In consequence of these applications, Mr. Morton Pitt and Mr. Frampton called upon
The former made declarations of civility, but intimated, that, if I could not agree with the gaoler, I could have no accommodation but in a cell, and not in the debtors' house, as I
wished, and where three rooms were unoccupied; though the gaoler himself admits any felon into that house, who will pay him half a crown a week for the privilege; two of which description are there at this time.
6. Before the conclusion of my first year's imprisonment, several letters were exchanged between Mr. Morton Pitt and myself. The purport of his was, that an accommodation might easily take place between the gaoler and myself. I had mentioned that I was willing to give a guinea per week for the use of my room alone; that no person whom I had consulted could think me justified in offering more, but deemed, in reality, that offer to be beyond what was reasonable; which was also the opinion of the most respectable individual among the magistrates, to whom however I never spoke on this subject, but who thought my treatment had been very unhandsome.
In the mean time, Mr. Morton Pitt had agreed with the gaoler that I ought to pay seventy pounds a year for my room, exclusive of board, though for the latter, the gaoler always charges every debtor a guinea a week. As I did not assent to this agreement, I laid the whole of my case before all the magistrates, about a week before the end of the year, and intreated their interference.