Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/85

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��an interest that his debtor be kept under close confinement, that by his squalor carceris he may be brought to the payment of his just debt." L He was to learn the fulness of the meaning of " the curse of a severe creditor who pronounces his debtor's doom, To Rot in Gaol." 2 At the present time even in Siberia there cannot, I believe, be found so cruel a den as that old Edinburgh To! booth, by whose gloomy walls Johnson passed on his way to Boswell's comfortable home close by, where Mrs. Boswell and tea were await- ing him. In one room were found by a writer who visited the prison three lads confined among " the refuse of a long succession of criminals." The straw which was their bed had been worn into bits two inches long. In a room on the floor above were two miserable boys not twelve years old. But the stench that assailed him as the door was opened so over- powered him that he fled. The accumulation of dirt which he saw in the rooms and on the staircases was

so great, that it set him speculating in vain on the length of time which must have been required to make it. The supply of the food and drink was the jailer's monopoly ; whenever the poor wretches received a little money from friends outside, or from charity, they were not allowed the benefit of the market price. The choice of the debtor's prison was left to the caprice of his creditor, and that which was known to be the most loathsome was often selected. 3 The summer after Johnson's visit to Edinburgh


��' John Erskine, quoted in Tytler's Life of Lord fCames, vol. i. app. x. p. 74, and in Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 299.

��Howard's State of the Prisons, p. 17. Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 300.

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