The Star-Chamber, Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Star-Chamber, Volume 2.

The arrangements of the inner ward were nearly similar, and differed only from the outer, in so far that the accommodations were superior, as they had need to be, considering the price asked for them; but even here nothing like cleanliness could be found.  In this ward was the chapel.  At a grated window in the gate stood the poor debtors rattling their begging-boxes, and endeavouring by their cries to obtain alms from the passers-by.

Below the warden’s lodgings, which adjoined the gate, and which were now occupied by the deputy, Joachim Tunstall, was a range of subterranean dungeons, built below the level of the Fleet.  Frequently flooded by the river, these dungeons were exceedingly damp and unwholesome; and they were reserved for such prisoners as had incurred the censure of the inexorable Court of Star-Chamber.  It was in one of the deepest and most dismal of these cells that the unfortunate Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey breathed his last.

Allusion has been previously made to the influence exercised within the Fleet by Sir Giles Mompesson.  Both the wardens were his friends, and ever ready to serve him; their deputy was his creature, and subservient to his will in all things; while the jailers and their assistants took his orders, whatever they might be, as if from a master.  Thus he was enabled to tyrannize over the objects of his displeasure, who could never be secure from his malice.

By the modes of torture he adopted through his agents, he could break the most stubborn spirit, and subdue the strongest.  It was matter of savage satisfaction to him to witness the sufferings of his victims; and he never ceased from persecution till he had obtained whatever he desired.  The barbarities carried out in pursuance of the atrocious sentences of the Court of Star-Chamber were to him pleasant spectacles; and the bleeding and mutilated wretches, whom his accusations had conducted to the pillory, when brought back to their dungeons, could not escape his hateful presence—­worse to them, from his fiendish derision of their agonies, than that of the executioner.

CHAPTER XXIII.

How Sir Jocelyn was brought to the Fleet.

After his arrest by the serjeant-at-arms, Sir Jocelyn was taken, in the first instance, to the Star-Chamber, where some of the Lords of the Council were sitting at the time, and examined respecting the “libellous language and false scandal” he had used in reference to the proceedings of that high and honourable court.  The young knight did not attempt to deny the truth of the charge brought against him, neither did he express contrition, or sue for forgiveness; but though he demanded to be confronted with his accusers, the request was refused him; and he was told they would appear in due time.  Several interrogatories were then addressed to him, which he answered in a manner calculated, in the judgment of his hearers, to aggravate the original offence.  After this, he was required to subscribe the minutes of his confession, as it was styled; and a warant for his committal to the Fleet Prison, and close confinement within it, was made out.

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The Star-Chamber, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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