Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/158

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church of St. George, in the borough of Southwark, on the left-hand side of the way going southward, the Marshalsea Prison. It had stood there many years before, and it remained there some years afterward; but it is gone now, and the world is none the worse without it.

"It was an oblong pile of barrack building, partitioned into squalid houses standing back to back, so that there were no back rooms; environed by a narrow paved yard, hemmed in by high walls duly spiked at top. Itself a close and confined prison for debtors, it contained within it a much closer and more confined jail for smugglers. Offenders against the revenue laws, and defaulters to excises or customs, who had incurred fines which they were unable to pay, were supposed to be incarcerated behind an iron-plated door, closing up the second prison, consisting of a strong cell or two, and a blind alley some yard and a half wide, which formed the mysterious termination of the very limited skittle-ground in which the Marshalsea debtors bowled down their troubles."

When the dear little old lady had bidden me farewell, I bowing her out in my best Chesterfieldian manner, holding one of the big doors wide open till she passed, I went again in search of the sexton or the verger or the beadle, but that ubiquitous person had suddenly become quite offish, and his suave, most obliging manner—I mean his compound manner—had disappeared. He listened attentively to what I had to say, made no reply, and became instantly interested in the inspection of some possible dust on a pew seat across the church. Not wishing to disturb him,