Jack Sheppard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.
from the Condemned Hold, stripped of his fine apparel, clothed in the most sordid rags, loaded with additional fetters, and thrust into the Stone Hold,—­already described as the most noisome cell in the whole prison.  Here, without a glimpse of daylight; visited by no one except Austin at stated intervals, who neither answered a question nor addressed a word to him; fed upon the worst diet, literally mouldy bread and ditch-water; surrounded by stone walls; with a flagged floor for his pillow, and without so much as a blanket to protect him from the death-like cold that pierced his frame,—­Jack’s stout heart was subdued, and he fell into the deepest dejection, ardently longing for the time when even a violent death should terminate his sufferings.  But it was not so ordered.  Mr. Pitt returned with intelligence that the warrant was delayed, and, on taking the opinion of two eminent lawyers of the day, Sir William Thomson and Mr. Serjeant Raby, it was decided that it must be proved in a regular and judicial manner that Sheppard was the identical person who had been convicted and had escaped, before a fresh order could be made for his execution; and that the matter must, therefore, stand over until the next sessions, to be held at the Old Bailey in October, when it could be brought before the court.

The unfortunate prisoner, meanwhile, who was not informed of the respite, languished in his horrible dungeon, and, at the expiration of three weeks, became so seriously indisposed that it was feared he could not long survive.  He refused his food,—­and even when better provisions were offered him, rejected them.  As his death was by no means what Jonathan desired, he resolved to remove him to a more airy ward, and afford him such slight comforts as might tend to his restoration, or at least keep him alive until the period of execution.  With this view, Jack was carried—­for he was no longer able to move without assistance—­to a ward called the Castle, situated over the gateway on the western side, in what was considered the strongest part of the jail.  The walls were of immense thickness; the small windows double-grated and unglazed; the fire-place was without a grate; and a barrack-bed, divided into two compartments, occupied one corner.  It was about twelve feet high, nine wide, and fourteen long; and was approached by double doors each six inches thick.  As Jack appeared to be sinking fast, his fetters were removed, his own clothes were returned to him, and he was allowed a mattress and a scanty supply of bed-linen.  Mrs. Spurling attended him as his nurse, and, under her care, he speedily revived.  As soon as he became convalescent, and all fears of his premature dissolution were at an end, Wild recommenced his rigorous treatment.  The bedding was removed; Mrs. Spurling was no longer allowed to visit him; he was again loaded with irons; fastened by an enormous horse-padlock to a staple in the floor; and only allowed to take repose in a chair.  A single blanket constituted

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Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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