Part 12 out of 15
'Stop!' cried the locksmith, in a voice that made them falter--
presenting, as he spoke, a gun. 'Let an old man do that. You can
spare him better.'
The young fellow who held the light, and who was stooping down
before the door, rose hastily at these words, and fell back. The
locksmith ran his eye along the upturned faces, and kept the weapon
levelled at the threshold of his house. It had no other rest than
his shoulder, but was as steady as the house itself.
'Let the man who does it, take heed to his prayers,' he said
firmly; 'I warn him.'
Snatching a torch from one who stood near him, Hugh was stepping
forward with an oath, when he was arrested by a shrill and piercing
shriek, and, looking upward, saw a fluttering garment on the house-
There was another shriek, and another, and then a shrill voice
cried, 'Is Simmun below!' At the same moment a lean neck was
stretched over the parapet, and Miss Miggs, indistinctly seen in
the gathering gloom of evening, screeched in a frenzied manner,
'Oh! dear gentlemen, let me hear Simmuns's answer from his own
lips. Speak to me, Simmun. Speak to me!'
Mr Tappertit, who was not at all flattered by this compliment,
looked up, and bidding her hold her peace, ordered her to come down
and open the door, for they wanted her master, and would take no
'Oh good gentlemen!' cried Miss Miggs. 'Oh my own precious,
'Hold your nonsense, will you!' retorted Mr Tappertit; 'and come
down and open the door.--G. Varden, drop that gun, or it will be
worse for you.'
'Don't mind his gun,' screamed Miggs. 'Simmun and gentlemen, I
poured a mug of table-beer right down the barrel.'
The crowd gave a loud shout, which was followed by a roar of
'It wouldn't go off, not if you was to load it up to the muzzle,'
screamed Miggs. 'Simmun and gentlemen, I'm locked up in the front
attic, through the little door on the right hand when you think
you've got to the very top of the stairs--and up the flight of
corner steps, being careful not to knock your heads against the
rafters, and not to tread on one side in case you should fall into
the two-pair bedroom through the lath and plasture, which do not
bear, but the contrairy. Simmun and gentlemen, I've been locked up
here for safety, but my endeavours has always been, and always will
be, to be on the right side--the blessed side and to prenounce the
Pope of Babylon, and all her inward and her outward workings, which
is Pagin. My sentiments is of little consequences, I know,' cried
Miggs, with additional shrillness, 'for my positions is but a
servant, and as sich, of humilities, still I gives expressions to
my feelings, and places my reliances on them which entertains my
Without taking much notice of these outpourings of Miss Miggs after
she had made her first announcement in relation to the gun, the
crowd raised a ladder against the window where the locksmith stood,
and notwithstanding that he closed, and fastened, and defended it
manfully, soon forced an entrance by shivering the glass and
breaking in the frames. After dealing a few stout blows about him,
he found himself defenceless, in the midst of a furious crowd,
which overflowed the room and softened off in a confused heap of
faces at the door and window.
They were very wrathful with him (for he had wounded two men), and
even called out to those in front, to bring him forth and hang him
on a lamp-post. But Gabriel was quite undaunted, and looked from
Hugh and Dennis, who held him by either arm, to Simon Tappertit,
who confronted him.
'You have robbed me of my daughter,' said the locksmith, 'who is
far dearer to me than my life; and you may take my life, if you
will. I bless God that I have been enabled to keep my wife free of
this scene; and that He has made me a man who will not ask mercy at
such hands as yours.'
'And a wery game old gentleman you are,' said Mr Dennis,
approvingly; 'and you express yourself like a man. What's the
odds, brother, whether it's a lamp-post to-night, or a feather-
bed ten year to come, eh?'
The locksmith glanced at him disdainfully, but returned no other
'For my part,' said the hangman, who particularly favoured the
lamp-post suggestion, 'I honour your principles. They're mine
exactly. In such sentiments as them,' and here he emphasised his
discourse with an oath, 'I'm ready to meet you or any man halfway.--
Have you got a bit of cord anywheres handy? Don't put yourself
out of the way, if you haven't. A handkecher will do.'
'Don't be a fool, master,' whispered Hugh, seizing Varden roughly
by the shoulder; 'but do as you're bid. You'll soon hear what
you're wanted for. Do it!'
'I'll do nothing at your request, or that of any scoundrel here,'
returned the locksmith. 'If you want any service from me, you may
spare yourselves the pains of telling me what it is. I tell you,
beforehand, I'll do nothing for you.'
Mr Dennis was so affected by this constancy on the part of the
staunch old man, that he protested--almost with tears in his eyes--
that to baulk his inclinations would be an act of cruelty and hard
dealing to which he, for one, never could reconcile his conscience.
The gentleman, he said, had avowed in so many words that he was
ready for working off; such being the case, he considered it their
duty, as a civilised and enlightened crowd, to work him off. It
was not often, he observed, that they had it in their power to
accommodate themselves to the wishes of those from whom they had
the misfortune to differ. Having now found an individual who
expressed a desire which they could reasonably indulge (and for
himself he was free to confess that in his opinion that desire did
honour to his feelings), he hoped they would decide to accede to
his proposition before going any further. It was an experiment
which, skilfully and dexterously performed, would be over in five
minutes, with great comfort and satisfaction to all parties; and
though it did not become him (Mr Dennis) to speak well of himself
he trusted he might be allowed to say that he had practical
knowledge of the subject, and, being naturally of an obliging and
friendly disposition, would work the gentleman off with a deal of
These remarks, which were addressed in the midst of a frightful din
and turmoil to those immediately about him, were received with
great favour; not so much, perhaps, because of the hangman's
eloquence, as on account of the locksmith's obstinacy. Gabriel was
in imminent peril, and he knew it; but he preserved a steady
silence; and would have done so, if they had been debating whether
they should roast him at a slow fire.
As the hangman spoke, there was some stir and confusion on the
ladder; and directly he was silent--so immediately upon his holding
his peace, that the crowd below had no time to learn what he had
been saying, or to shout in response--some one at the window cried:
'He has a grey head. He is an old man: Don't hurt him!'
The locksmith turned, with a start, towards the place from which
the words had come, and looked hurriedly at the people who were
hanging on the ladder and clinging to each other.
'Pay no respect to my grey hair, young man,' he said, answering the
voice and not any one he saw. 'I don't ask it. My heart is green
enough to scorn and despise every man among you, band of robbers
that you are!'
This incautious speech by no means tended to appease the ferocity
of the crowd. They cried again to have him brought out; and it
would have gone hard with the honest locksmith, but that Hugh
reminded them, in answer, that they wanted his services, and must
'So, tell him what we want,' he said to Simon Tappertit, 'and
quickly. And open your ears, master, if you would ever use them
Gabriel folded his arms, which were now at liberty, and eyed his
old 'prentice in silence.
'Lookye, Varden,' said Sim, 'we're bound for Newgate.'
'I know you are,' returned the locksmith. 'You never said a truer
word than that.'
'To burn it down, I mean,' said Simon, 'and force the gates, and
set the prisoners at liberty. You helped to make the lock of the
'I did,' said the locksmith. 'You owe me no thanks for that--as
you'll find before long.'
'Maybe,' returned his journeyman, 'but you must show us how to
'Yes; for you know, and I don't. You must come along with us, and
pick it with your own hands.'
'When I do,' said the locksmith quietly, 'my hands shall drop off
at the wrists, and you shall wear them, Simon Tappertit, on your
shoulders for epaulettes.'
'We'll see that,' cried Hugh, interposing, as the indignation of
the crowd again burst forth. 'You fill a basket with the tools
he'll want, while I bring him downstairs. Open the doors below,
some of you. And light the great captain, others! Is there no
business afoot, my lads, that you can do nothing but stand and
They looked at one another, and quickly dispersing, swarmed over
the house, plundering and breaking, according to their custom, and
carrying off such articles of value as happened to please their
fancy. They had no great length of time for these proceedings, for
the basket of tools was soon prepared and slung over a man's
shoulders. The preparations being now completed, and everything
ready for the attack, those who were pillaging and destroying in
the other rooms were called down to the workshop. They were about
to issue forth, when the man who had been last upstairs, stepped
forward, and asked if the young woman in the garret (who was making
a terrible noise, he said, and kept on screaming without the least
cessation) was to be released?
For his own part, Simon Tappertit would certainly have replied in
the negative, but the mass of his companions, mindful of the good
service she had done in the matter of the gun, being of a different
opinion, he had nothing for it but to answer, Yes. The man,
accordingly, went back again to the rescue, and presently returned
with Miss Miggs, limp and doubled up, and very damp from much
As the young lady had given no tokens of consciousness on their way
downstairs, the bearer reported her either dead or dying; and being
at some loss what to do with her, was looking round for a
convenient bench or heap of ashes on which to place her senseless
form, when she suddenly came upon her feet by some mysterious
means, thrust back her hair, stared wildly at Mr Tappertit, cried,
'My Simmuns's life is not a wictim!' and dropped into his arms with
such promptitude that he staggered and reeled some paces back,
beneath his lovely burden.
'Oh bother!' said Mr Tappertit. 'Here. Catch hold of her,
somebody. Lock her up again; she never ought to have been let out.'
'My Simmun!' cried Miss Miggs, in tears, and faintly. 'My for
ever, ever blessed Simmun!'
'Hold up, will you,' said Mr Tappertit, in a very unresponsive
tone, 'I'll let you fall if you don't. What are you sliding your
feet off the ground for?'
'My angel Simmuns!' murmured Miggs--'he promised--'
'Promised! Well, and I'll keep my promise,' answered Simon,
testily. 'I mean to provide for you, don't I? Stand up!'
'Where am I to go? What is to become of me after my actions of
this night!' cried Miggs. 'What resting-places now remains but in
the silent tombses!'
'I wish you was in the silent tombses, I do,' cried Mr Tappertit,
'and boxed up tight, in a good strong one. Here,' he cried to one
of the bystanders, in whose ear he whispered for a moment: 'Take
her off, will you. You understand where?'
The fellow nodded; and taking her in his arms, notwithstanding her
broken protestations, and her struggles (which latter species of
opposition, involving scratches, was much more difficult of
resistance), carried her away. They who were in the house poured
out into the street; the locksmith was taken to the head of the
crowd, and required to walk between his two conductors; the whole
body was put in rapid motion; and without any shouts or noise they
bore down straight on Newgate, and halted in a dense mass before
Breaking the silence they had hitherto preserved, they raised a
great cry as soon as they were ranged before the jail, and demanded
to speak to the governor. This visit was not wholly unexpected,
for his house, which fronted the street, was strongly barricaded,
the wicket-gate of the prison was closed up, and at no loophole or
grating was any person to be seen. Before they had repeated their
summons many times, a man appeared upon the roof of the governor's
house, and asked what it was they wanted.
Some said one thing, some another, and some only groaned and
hissed. It being now nearly dark, and the house high, many persons
in the throng were not aware that any one had come to answer them,
and continued their clamour until the intelligence was gradually
diffused through the whole concourse. Ten minutes or more elapsed
before any one voice could be heard with tolerable distinctness;
during which interval the figure remained perched alone, against
the summer-evening sky, looking down into the troubled street.
'Are you,' said Hugh at length, 'Mr Akerman, the head jailer here?'
'Of course he is, brother,' whispered Dennis. But Hugh, without
minding him, took his answer from the man himself.
'Yes,' he said. 'I am.'
'You have got some friends of ours in your custody, master.'
'I have a good many people in my custody.' He glanced downward, as
he spoke, into the jail: and the feeling that he could see into
the different yards, and that he overlooked everything which was
hidden from their view by the rugged walls, so lashed and goaded
the mob, that they howled like wolves.
'Deliver up our friends,' said Hugh, 'and you may keep the rest.'
'It's my duty to keep them all. I shall do my duty.'
'If you don't throw the doors open, we shall break 'em down,' said
Hugh; 'for we will have the rioters out.'
'All I can do, good people,' Akerman replied, 'is to exhort you to
disperse; and to remind you that the consequences of any
disturbance in this place, will be very severe, and bitterly
repented by most of you, when it is too late.'
He made as though he would retire when he said these words, but he
was checked by the voice of the locksmith.
'Mr Akerman,' cried Gabriel, 'Mr Akerman.'
'I will hear no more from any of you,' replied the governor,
turning towards the speaker, and waving his hand.
'But I am not one of them,' said Gabriel. 'I am an honest man,
Mr Akerman; a respectable tradesman--Gabriel Varden, the locksmith.
You know me?'
'You among the crowd!' cried the governor in an altered voice.
'Brought here by force--brought here to pick the lock of the great
door for them,' rejoined the locksmith. 'Bear witness for me, Mr
Akerman, that I refuse to do it; and that I will not do it, come
what may of my refusal. If any violence is done to me, please to
'Is there no way (if helping you?' said the governor.
'None, Mr Akerman. You'll do your duty, and I'll do mine. Once
again, you robbers and cut-throats,' said the locksmith, turning
round upon them, 'I refuse. Ah! Howl till you're hoarse. I
'Stay--stay!' said the jailer, hastily. 'Mr Varden, I know you for
a worthy man, and one who would do no unlawful act except upon
'Upon compulsion, sir,' interposed the locksmith, who felt that the
tone in which this was said, conveyed the speaker's impression that
he had ample excuse for yielding to the furious multitude who beset
and hemmed him in, on every side, and among whom he stood, an old
man, quite alone; 'upon compulsion, sir, I'll do nothing.'
'Where is that man,' said the keeper, anxiously, 'who spoke to me
'Here!' Hugh replied.
'Do you know what the guilt of murder is, and that by keeping that
honest tradesman at your side you endanger his life!'
'We know it very well,' he answered, 'for what else did we bring
him here? Let's have our friends, master, and you shall have your
friend. Is that fair, lads?'
The mob replied to him with a loud Hurrah!
'You see how it is, sir?' cried Varden. 'Keep 'em out, in King
George's name. Remember what I have said. Good night!'
There was no more parley. A shower of stones and other missiles
compelled the keeper of the jail to retire; and the mob, pressing
on, and swarming round the walls, forced Gabriel Varden close up to
In vain the basket of tools was laid upon the ground before him,
and he was urged in turn by promises, by blows, by offers of
reward, and threats of instant death, to do the office for which
they had brought him there. 'No,' cried the sturdy locksmith, 'I
He had never loved his life so well as then, but nothing could move
him. The savage faces that glared upon him, look where he would;
the cries of those who thirsted, like wild animals, for his blood;
the sight of men pressing forward, and trampling down their
fellows, as they strove to reach him, and struck at him above the
heads of other men, with axes and with iron bars; all failed to
daunt him. He looked from man to man, and face to face, and still,
with quickened breath and lessening colour, cried firmly, 'I will
Dennis dealt him a blow upon the face which felled him to the
ground. He sprung up again like a man in the prime of life, and
with blood upon his forehead, caught him by the throat.
'You cowardly dog!' he said: 'Give me my daughter. Give me my
They struggled together. Some cried 'Kill him,' and some (but they
were not near enough) strove to trample him to death. Tug as he
would at the old man's wrists, the hangman could not force him to
unclench his hands.
'Is this all the return you make me, you ungrateful monster?' he
articulated with great difficulty, and with many oaths.
'Give me my daughter!' cried the locksmith, who was now as fierce
as those who gathered round him: 'Give me my daughter!'
He was down again, and up, and down once more, and buffeting with a
score of them, who bandied him from hand to hand, when one tall
fellow, fresh from a slaughter-house, whose dress and great thigh-
boots smoked hot with grease and blood, raised a pole-axe, and
swearing a horrible oath, aimed it at the old man's uncovered head.
At that instant, and in the very act, he fell himself, as if struck
by lightning, and over his body a one-armed man came darting to the
locksmith's side. Another man was with him, and both caught the
locksmith roughly in their grasp.
'Leave him to us!' they cried to Hugh--struggling, as they spoke,
to force a passage backward through the crowd. 'Leave him to us.
Why do you waste your whole strength on such as he, when a couple
of men can finish him in as many minutes! You lose time. Remember
the prisoners! remember Barnaby!'
The cry ran through the mob. Hammers began to rattle on the walls;
and every man strove to reach the prison, and be among the foremost
rank. Fighting their way through the press and struggle, as
desperately as if they were in the midst of enemies rather than
their own friends, the two men retreated with the locksmith between
them, and dragged him through the very heart of the concourse.
And now the strokes began to fall like hail upon the gate, and on
the strong building; for those who could not reach the door, spent
their fierce rage on anything--even on the great blocks of stone,
which shivered their weapons into fragments, and made their hands
and arms to tingle as if the walls were active in their stout
resistance, and dealt them back their blows. The clash of iron
ringing upon iron, mingled with the deafening tumult and sounded
high above it, as the great sledge-hammers rattled on the nailed
and plated door: the sparks flew off in showers; men worked in
gangs, and at short intervals relieved each other, that all their
strength might be devoted to the work; but there stood the portal
still, as grim and dark and strong as ever, and, saving for the
dints upon its battered surface, quite unchanged.
While some brought all their energies to bear upon this toilsome
task; and some, rearing ladders against the prison, tried to
clamber to the summit of the walls they were too short to scale;
and some again engaged a body of police a hundred strong, and beat
them back and trod them under foot by force of numbers; others
besieged the house on which the jailer had appeared, and driving in
the door, brought out his furniture, and piled it up against the
prison-gate, to make a bonfire which should burn it down. As soon
as this device was understood, all those who had laboured hitherto,
cast down their tools and helped to swell the heap; which reached
half-way across the street, and was so high, that those who threw
more fuel on the top, got up by ladders. When all the keeper's
goods were flung upon this costly pile, to the last fragment, they
smeared it with the pitch, and tar, and rosin they had brought, and
sprinkled it with turpentine. To all the woodwork round the
prison-doors they did the like, leaving not a joist or beam
untouched. This infernal christening performed, they fired the
pile with lighted matches and with blazing tow, and then stood by,
awaiting the result.
The furniture being very dry, and rendered more combustible by wax
and oil, besides the arts they had used, took fire at once. The
flames roared high and fiercely, blackening the prison-wall, and
twining up its loftly front like burning serpents. At first they
crowded round the blaze, and vented their exultation only in their
looks: but when it grew hotter and fiercer--when it crackled,
leaped, and roared, like a great furnace--when it shone upon the
opposite houses, and lighted up not only the pale and wondering
faces at the windows, but the inmost corners of each habitation--
when through the deep red heat and glow, the fire was seen sporting
and toying with the door, now clinging to its obdurate surface, now
gliding off with fierce inconstancy and soaring high into the sky,
anon returning to fold it in its burning grasp and lure it to its
ruin--when it shone and gleamed so brightly that the church clock
of St Sepulchre's so often pointing to the hour of death, was
legible as in broad day, and the vane upon its steeple-top
glittered in the unwonted light like something richly jewelled--
when blackened stone and sombre brick grew ruddy in the deep
reflection, and windows shone like burnished gold, dotting the
longest distance in the fiery vista with their specks of
brightness--when wall and tower, and roof and chimney-stack, seemed
drunk, and in the flickering glare appeared to reel and stagger--
when scores of objects, never seen before, burst out upon the view,
and things the most familiar put on some new aspect--then the mob
began to join the whirl, and with loud yells, and shouts, and
clamour, such as happily is seldom heard, bestirred themselves to
feed the fire, and keep it at its height.
Although the heat was so intense that the paint on the houses over
against the prison, parched and crackled up, and swelling into
boils, as it were from excess of torture, broke and crumbled away;
although the glass fell from the window-sashes, and the lead and
iron on the roofs blistered the incautious hand that touched them,
and the sparrows in the eaves took wing, and rendered giddy by the
smoke, fell fluttering down upon the blazing pile; still the fire
was tended unceasingly by busy hands, and round it, men were going
always. They never slackened in their zeal, or kept aloof, but
pressed upon the flames so hard, that those in front had much ado
to save themselves from being thrust in; if one man swooned or
dropped, a dozen struggled for his place, and that although they
knew the pain, and thirst, and pressure to be unendurable. Those
who fell down in fainting-fits, and were not crushed or burnt,
were carried to an inn-yard close at hand, and dashed with water
from a pump; of which buckets full were passed from man to man
among the crowd; but such was the strong desire of all to drink,
and such the fighting to be first, that, for the most part, the
whole contents were spilled upon the ground, without the lips of
one man being moistened.
Meanwhile, and in the midst of all the roar and outcry, those who
were nearest to the pile, heaped up again the burning fragments
that came toppling down, and raked the fire about the door, which,
although a sheet of flame, was still a door fast locked and barred,
and kept them out. Great pieces of blazing wood were passed,
besides, above the people's heads to such as stood about the
ladders, and some of these, climbing up to the topmost stave, and
holding on with one hand by the prison wall, exerted all their
skill and force to cast these fire-brands on the roof, or down into
the yards within. In many instances their efforts were successful;
which occasioned a new and appalling addition to the horrors of the
scene: for the prisoners within, seeing from between their bars
that the fire caught in many places and thrived fiercely, and being
all locked up in strong cells for the night, began to know that
they were in danger of being burnt alive. This terrible fear,
spreading from cell to cell and from yard to yard, vented itself in
such dismal cries and wailings, and in such dreadful shrieks for
help, that the whole jail resounded with the noise; which was
loudly heard even above the shouting of the mob and roaring of the
flames, and was so full of agony and despair, that it made the
It was remarkable that these cries began in that quarter of the
jail which fronted Newgate Street, where, it was well known, the
men who were to suffer death on Thursday were confined. And not
only were these four who had so short a time to live, the first to
whom the dread of being burnt occurred, but they were, throughout,
the most importunate of all: for they could be plainly heard,
notwithstanding the great thickness of the walls, crying that the
wind set that way, and that the flames would shortly reach them;
and calling to the officers of the jail to come and quench the
fire from a cistern which was in their yard, and full of water.
Judging from what the crowd outside the walls could hear from time
to time, these four doomed wretches never ceased to call for help;
and that with as much distraction, and in as great a frenzy of
attachment to existence, as though each had an honoured, happy
life before him, instead of eight-and-forty hours of miserable
imprisonment, and then a violent and shameful death.
But the anguish and suffering of the two sons of one of these men,
when they heard, or fancied that they heard, their father's voice,
is past description. After wringing their hands and rushing to and
fro as if they were stark mad, one mounted on the shoulders of his
brother, and tried to clamber up the face of the high wall, guarded
at the top with spikes and points of iron. And when he fell among
the crowd, he was not deterred by his bruises, but mounted up
again, and fell again, and, when he found the feat impossible,
began to beat the stones and tear them with his hands, as if he
could that way make a breach in the strong building, and force a
passage in. At last, they cleft their way among the mob about the
door, though many men, a dozen times their match, had tried in vain
to do so, and were seen, in--yes, in--the fire, striving to prize
it down, with crowbars.
Nor were they alone affected by the outcry from within the prison.
The women who were looking on, shrieked loudly, beat their hands
together, stopped their ears; and many fainted: the men who were
not near the walls and active in the siege, rather than do nothing,
tore up the pavement of the street, and did so with a haste and
fury they could not have surpassed if that had been the jail, and
they were near their object. Not one living creature in the throng
was for an instant still. The whole great mass were mad.
A shout! Another! Another yet, though few knew why, or what it
meant. But those around the gate had seen it slowly yield, and
drop from its topmost hinge. It hung on that side by but one, but
it was upright still, because of the bar, and its having sunk, of
its own weight, into the heap of ashes at its foot. There was now
a gap at the top of the doorway, through which could be descried a
gloomy passage, cavernous and dark. Pile up the fire!
It burnt fiercely. The door was red-hot, and the gap wider. They
vainly tried to shield their faces with their hands, and standing
as if in readiness for a spring, watched the place. Dark figures,
some crawling on their hands and knees, some carried in the arms of
others, were seen to pass along the roof. It was plain the jail
could hold out no longer. The keeper, and his officers, and their
wives and children, were escaping. Pile up the fire!
The door sank down again: it settled deeper in the cinders--
As they shouted again, they fell back, for a moment, and left a
clear space about the fire that lay between them and the jail
entry. Hugh leapt upon the blazing heap, and scattering a train of
sparks into the air, and making the dark lobby glitter with those
that hung upon his dress, dashed into the jail.
The hangman followed. And then so many rushed upon their track,
that the fire got trodden down and thinly strewn about the street;
but there was no need of it now, for, inside and out, the prison
was in flames.
During the whole course of the terrible scene which was now at its
height, one man in the jail suffered a degree of fear and mental
torment which had no parallel in the endurance, even of those who
lay under sentence of death.
When the rioters first assembled before the building, the murderer
was roused from sleep--if such slumbers as his may have that
blessed name--by the roar of voices, and the struggling of a great
crowd. He started up as these sounds met his ear, and, sitting on
his bedstead, listened.
After a short interval of silence the noise burst out again. Still
listening attentively, he made out, in course of time, that the
jail was besieged by a furious multitude. His guilty conscience
instantly arrayed these men against himself, and brought the fear
upon him that he would be singled out, and torn to pieces.
Once impressed with the terror of this conceit, everything tended
to confirm and strengthen it. His double crime, the circumstances
under which it had been committed, the length of time that had
elapsed, and its discovery in spite of all, made him, as it were,
the visible object of the Almighty's wrath. In all the crime and
vice and moral gloom of the great pest-house of the capital, he
stood alone, marked and singled out by his great guilt, a Lucifer
among the devils. The other prisoners were a host, hiding and
sheltering each other--a crowd like that without the walls. He was
one man against the whole united concourse; a single, solitary,
lonely man, from whom the very captives in the jail fell off and
It might be that the intelligence of his capture having been
bruited abroad, they had come there purposely to drag him out and
kill him in the street; or it might be that they were the rioters,
and, in pursuance of an old design, had come to sack the prison.
But in either case he had no belief or hope that they would spare
him. Every shout they raised, and every sound they made, was a
blow upon his heart. As the attack went on, he grew more wild and
frantic in his terror: tried to pull away the bars that guarded the
chimney and prevented him from climbing up: called loudly on the
turnkeys to cluster round the cell and save him from the fury of
the rabble; or put him in some dungeon underground, no matter of
what depth, how dark it was, or loathsome, or beset with rats and
creeping things, so that it hid him and was hard to find.
But no one came, or answered him. Fearful, even while he cried to
them, of attracting attention, he was silent. By and bye, he saw,
as he looked from his grated window, a strange glimmering on the
stone walls and pavement of the yard. It was feeble at first, and
came and went, as though some officers with torches were passing to
and fro upon the roof of the prison. Soon it reddened, and lighted
brands came whirling down, spattering the ground with fire, and
burning sullenly in corners. One rolled beneath a wooden bench,
and set it in a blaze; another caught a water-spout, and so went
climbing up the wall, leaving a long straight track of fire behind
it. After a time, a slow thick shower of burning fragments, from
some upper portion of the prison which was blazing nigh, began to
fall before his door. Remembering that it opened outwards, he knew
that every spark which fell upon the heap, and in the act lost its
bright life, and died an ugly speck of dust and rubbish, helped to
entomb him in a living grave. Still, though the jail resounded
with shrieks and cries for help,--though the fire bounded up as if
each separate flame had had a tiger's life, and roared as though,
in every one, there were a hungry voice--though the heat began to
grow intense, and the air suffocating, and the clamour without
increased, and the danger of his situation even from one merciless
element was every moment more extreme,--still he was afraid to
raise his voice again, lest the crowd should break in, and should,
of their own ears or from the information given them by the other
prisoners, get the clue to his place of confinement. Thus fearful
alike, of those within the prison and of those without; of noise
and silence; light and darkness; of being released, and being left
there to die; he was so tortured and tormented, that nothing man
has ever done to man in the horrible caprice of power and cruelty,
exceeds his self-inflicted punishment.
Now, now, the door was down. Now they came rushing through the
jail, calling to each other in the vaulted passages; clashing the
iron gates dividing yard from yard; beating at the doors of cells
and wards; wrenching off bolts and locks and bars; tearing down the
door-posts to get men out; endeavouring to drag them by main force
through gaps and windows where a child could scarcely pass;
whooping and yelling without a moment's rest; and running through
the heat and flames as if they were cased in metal. By their legs,
their arms, the hair upon their heads, they dragged the prisoners
out. Some threw themselves upon the captives as they got towards
the door, and tried to file away their irons; some danced about
them with a frenzied joy, and rent their clothes, and were ready,
as it seemed, to tear them limb from limb. Now a party of a dozen
men came darting through the yard into which the murderer cast
fearful glances from his darkened window; dragging a prisoner along
the ground whose dress they had nearly torn from his body in their
mad eagerness to set him free, and who was bleeding and senseless
in their hands. Now a score of prisoners ran to and fro, who had
lost themselves in the intricacies of the prison, and were so
bewildered with the noise and glare that they knew not where to
turn or what to do, and still cried out for help, as loudly as
before. Anon some famished wretch whose theft had been a loaf of
bread, or scrap of butcher's meat, came skulking past, barefooted--
going slowly away because that jail, his house, was burning; not
because he had any other, or had friends to meet, or old haunts to
revisit, or any liberty to gain, but liberty to starve and die.
And then a knot of highwaymen went trooping by, conducted by the
friends they had among the crowd, who muffled their fetters as they
went along, with handkerchiefs and bands of hay, and wrapped them
in coats and cloaks, and gave them drink from bottles, and held it
to their lips, because of their handcuffs which there was no time
to remove. All this, and Heaven knows how much more, was done
amidst a noise, a hurry, and distraction, like nothing that we know
of, even in our dreams; which seemed for ever on the rise, and
never to decrease for the space of a single instant.
He was still looking down from his window upon these things, when a
band of men with torches, ladders, axes, and many kinds of weapons,
poured into the yard, and hammering at his door, inquired if there
were any prisoner within. He left the window when he saw them
coming, and drew back into the remotest corner of the cell; but
although he returned them no answer, they had a fancy that some one
was inside, for they presently set ladders against it, and began to
tear away the bars at the casement; not only that, indeed, but with
pickaxes to hew down the very stones in the wall.
As soon as they had made a breach at the window, large enough for
the admission of a man's head, one of them thrust in a torch and
looked all round the room. He followed this man's gaze until it
rested on himself, and heard him demand why he had not answered,
but made him no reply.
In the general surprise and wonder, they were used to this; without
saying anything more, they enlarged the breach until it was large
enough to admit the body of a man, and then came dropping down upon
the floor, one after another, until the cell was full. They caught
him up among them, handed him to the window, and those who stood
upon the ladders passed him down upon the pavement of the yard.
Then the rest came out, one after another, and, bidding him fly,
and lose no time, or the way would be choked up, hurried away to
It seemed not a minute's work from first to last. He staggered to
his feet, incredulous of what had happened, when the yard was
filled again, and a crowd rushed on, hurrying Barnaby among them.
In another minute--not so much: another minute! the same instant,
with no lapse or interval between!--he and his son were being
passed from hand to hand, through the dense crowd in the street,
and were glancing backward at a burning pile which some one said
From the moment of their first entrance into the prison, the crowd
dispersed themselves about it, and swarmed into every chink and
crevice, as if they had a perfect acquaintance with its innermost
parts, and bore in their minds an exact plan of the whole. For
this immediate knowledge of the place, they were, no doubt, in a
great degree, indebted to the hangman, who stood in the lobby,
directing some to go this way, some that, and some the other; and
who materially assisted in bringing about the wonderful rapidity
with which the release of the prisoners was effected.
But this functionary of the law reserved one important piece of
intelligence, and kept it snugly to himself. When he had issued
his instructions relative to every other part of the building, and
the mob were dispersed from end to end, and busy at their work, he
took a bundle of keys from a kind of cupboard in the wall, and
going by a kind of passage near the chapel (it joined the governors
house, and was then on fire), betook himself to the condemned
cells, which were a series of small, strong, dismal rooms, opening
on a low gallery, guarded, at the end at which he entered, by a
strong iron wicket, and at its opposite extremity by two doors and
a thick grate. Having double locked the wicket, and assured
himself that the other entrances were well secured, he sat down on
a bench in the gallery, and sucked the head of his stick with the
utmost complacency, tranquillity, and contentment.
It would have been strange enough, a man's enjoying himself in this
quiet manner, while the prison was burning, and such a tumult was
cleaving the air, though he had been outside the walls. But here,
in the very heart of the building, and moreover with the prayers
and cries of the four men under sentence sounding in his ears, and
their hands, stretched our through the gratings in their cell-
doors, clasped in frantic entreaty before his very eyes, it was
particularly remarkable. Indeed, Mr Dennis appeared to think it an
uncommon circumstance, and to banter himself upon it; for he thrust
his hat on one side as some men do when they are in a waggish
humour, sucked the head of his stick with a higher relish, and
smiled as though he would say, 'Dennis, you're a rum dog; you're a
queer fellow; you're capital company, Dennis, and quite a
He sat in this way for some minutes, while the four men in the
cells, who were certain that somebody had entered the gallery, but
could not see who, gave vent to such piteous entreaties as wretches
in their miserable condition may be supposed to have been inspired
with: urging, whoever it was, to set them at liberty, for the love
of Heaven; and protesting, with great fervour, and truly enough,
perhaps, for the time, that if they escaped, they would amend their
ways, and would never, never, never again do wrong before God or
man, but would lead penitent and sober lives, and sorrowfully
repent the crimes they had committed. The terrible energy with
which they spoke, would have moved any person, no matter how good
or just (if any good or just person could have strayed into that
sad place that night), to have set them at liberty: and, while he
would have left any other punishment to its free course, to have
saved them from this last dreadful and repulsive penalty; which
never turned a man inclined to evil, and has hardened thousands who
were half inclined to good.
Mr Dennis, who had been bred and nurtured in the good old school,
and had administered the good old laws on the good old plan, always
once and sometimes twice every six weeks, for a long time, bore
these appeals with a deal of philosophy. Being at last, however,
rather disturbed in his pleasant reflection by their repetition, he
rapped at one of the doors with his stick, and cried:
'Hold your noise there, will you?'
At this they all cried together that they were to be hanged on the
next day but one; and again implored his aid.
'Aid! For what!' said Mr Dennis, playfully rapping the knuckles of
the hand nearest him.
'To save us!' they cried.
'Oh, certainly,' said Mr Dennis, winking at the wall in the absence
of any friend with whom he could humour the joke. 'And so you're
to be worked off, are you, brothers?'
'Unless we are released to-night,' one of them cried, 'we are dead
'I tell you what it is,' said the hangman, gravely; 'I'm afraid, my
friend, that you're not in that 'ere state of mind that's suitable
to your condition, then; you're not a-going to be released: don't
think it--Will you leave off that 'ere indecent row? I wonder you
an't ashamed of yourselves, I do.'
He followed up this reproof by rapping every set of knuckles one
after the other, and having done so, resumed his seat again with a
'You've had law,' he said, crossing his legs and elevating his
eyebrows: 'laws have been made a' purpose for you; a wery handsome
prison's been made a' purpose for you; a parson's kept a purpose
for you; a constitootional officer's appointed a' purpose for you;
carts is maintained a' purpose for you--and yet you're not
contented!--WILL you hold that noise, you sir in the furthest?'
A groan was the only answer.
'So well as I can make out,' said Mr Dennis, in a tone of mingled
badinage and remonstrance, 'there's not a man among you. I begin
to think I'm on the opposite side, and among the ladies; though for
the matter of that, I've seen a many ladies face it out, in a
manner that did honour to the sex.--You in number two, don't grind
them teeth of yours. Worse manners,' said the hangman, rapping at
the door with his stick, 'I never see in this place afore. I'm
ashamed of you. You're a disgrace to the Bailey.'
After pausing for a moment to hear if anything could be pleaded in
justification, Mr Dennis resumed in a sort of coaxing tone:
'Now look'ee here, you four. I'm come here to take care of you,
and see that you an't burnt, instead of the other thing. It's no
use your making any noise, for you won't be found out by them as
has broken in, and you'll only be hoarse when you come to the
speeches,--which is a pity. What I say in respect to the speeches
always is, "Give it mouth." That's my maxim. Give it mouth. I've
heerd,' said the hangman, pulling off his hat to take his
handkerchief from the crown and wipe his face, and then putting it
on again a little more on one side than before, 'I've heerd a
eloquence on them boards--you know what boards I mean--and have
heerd a degree of mouth given to them speeches, that they was as
clear as a bell, and as good as a play. There's a pattern! And
always, when a thing of this natur's to come off, what I stand up
for, is, a proper frame of mind. Let's have a proper frame of
mind, and we can go through with it, creditable--pleasant--
sociable. Whatever you do (and I address myself in particular, to
you in the furthest), never snivel. I'd sooner by half, though I
lose by it, see a man tear his clothes a' purpose to spile 'em
before they come to me, than find him snivelling. It's ten to one
a better frame of mind, every way!'
While the hangman addressed them to this effect, in the tone and
with the air of a pastor in familiar conversation with his flock,
the noise had been in some degree subdued; for the rioters were
busy in conveying the prisoners to the Sessions House, which was
beyond the main walls of the prison, though connected with it, and
the crowd were busy too, in passing them from thence along the
street. But when he had got thus far in his discourse, the sound
of voices in the yard showed plainly that the mob had returned and
were coming that way; and directly afterwards a violent crashing at
the grate below, gave note of their attack upon the cells (as they
were called) at last.
It was in vain the hangman ran from door to door, and covered the
grates, one after another, with his hat, in futile efforts to
stifle the cries of the four men within; it was in vain he dogged
their outstretched hands, and beat them with his stick, or menaced
them with new and lingering pains in the execution of his office;
the place resounded with their cries. These, together with the
feeling that they were now the last men in the jail, so worked upon
and stimulated the besiegers, that in an incredibly short space of
time they forced the strong grate down below, which was formed of
iron rods two inches square, drove in the two other doors, as if
they had been but deal partitions, and stood at the end of the
gallery with only a bar or two between them and the cells.
'Halloa!' cried Hugh, who was the first to look into the dusky
passage: 'Dennis before us! Well done, old boy. Be quick, and
open here, for we shall be suffocated in the smoke, going out.'
'Go out at once, then,' said Dennis. 'What do you want here?'
'Want!' echoed Hugh. 'The four men.'
'Four devils!' cried the hangman. 'Don't you know they're left for
death on Thursday? Don't you respect the law--the constitootion--
nothing? Let the four men be.'
'Is this a time for joking?' cried Hugh. 'Do you hear 'em? Pull
away these bars that have got fixed between the door and the
ground; and let us in.'
'Brother,' said the hangman, in a low voice, as he stooped under
pretence of doing what Hugh desired, but only looked up in his
face, 'can't you leave these here four men to me, if I've the whim!
You do what you like, and have what you like of everything for your
share,--give me my share. I want these four men left alone, I tell
'Pull the bars down, or stand out of the way,' was Hugh's reply.
'You can turn the crowd if you like, you know that well enough,
brother,' said the hangman, slowly. 'What! You WILL come in, will
'You won't let these men alone, and leave 'em to me? You've no
respect for nothing--haven't you?' said the hangman, retreating to
the door by which he had entered, and regarding his companion with
a scowl. 'You WILL come in, will you, brother!'
'I tell you, yes. What the devil ails you? Where are you going?'
'No matter where I'm going,' rejoined the hangman, looking in again
at the iron wicket, which he had nearly shut upon himself, and
held ajar. 'Remember where you're coming. That's all!'
With that, he shook his likeness at Hugh, and giving him a grin,
compared with which his usual smile was amiable, disappeared, and
shut the door.
Hugh paused no longer, but goaded alike by the cries of the
convicts, and by the impatience of the crowd, warned the man
immediately behind him--the way was only wide enough for one
abreast--to stand back, and wielded a sledge-hammer with such
strength, that after a few blows the iron bent and broke, and gave
them free admittance.
It the two sons of one of these men, of whom mention has been made,
were furious in their zeal before, they had now the wrath and
vigour of lions. Calling to the man within each cell, to keep as
far back as he could, lest the axes crashing through the door
should wound him, a party went to work upon each one, to beat it in
by sheer strength, and force the bolts and staples from their hold.
But although these two lads had the weakest party, and the worst
armed, and did not begin until after the others, having stopped to
whisper to him through the grate, that door was the first open, and
that man was the first out. As they dragged him into the gallery
to knock off his irons, he fell down among them, a mere heap of
chains, and was carried out in that state on men's shoulders, with
no sign of life.
The release of these four wretched creatures, and conveying them,
astounded and bewildered, into the streets so full of life--a
spectacle they had never thought to see again, until they emerged
from solitude and silence upon that last journey, when the air
should be heavy with the pent-up breath of thousands, and the
streets and houses should be built and roofed with human faces, not
with bricks and tiles and stones--was the crowning horror of the
scene. Their pale and haggard looks and hollow eyes; their
staggering feet, and hands stretched out as if to save themselves
from falling; their wandering and uncertain air; the way they
heaved and gasped for breath, as though in water, when they were
first plunged into the crowd; all marked them for the men. No need
to say 'this one was doomed to die;' for there were the words
broadly stamped and branded on his face. The crowd fell off, as if
they had been laid out for burial, and had risen in their shrouds;
and many were seen to shudder, as though they had been actually
dead men, when they chanced to touch or brush against their
At the bidding of the mob, the houses were all illuminated that
night--lighted up from top to bottom as at a time of public gaiety
and joy. Many years afterwards, old people who lived in their
youth near this part of the city, remembered being in a great glare
of light, within doors and without, and as they looked, timid and
frightened children, from the windows, seeing a FACE go by. Though
the whole great crowd and all its other terrors had faded from
their recollection, this one object remained; alone, distinct, and
well remembered. Even in the unpractised minds of infants, one of
these doomed men darting past, and but an instant seen, was an
image of force enough to dim the whole concourse; to find itself an
all-absorbing place, and hold it ever after.
When this last task had been achieved, the shouts and cries grew
fainter; the clank of fetters, which had resounded on all sides as
the prisoners escaped, was heard no more; all the noises of the
crowd subsided into a hoarse and sullen murmur as it passed into
the distance; and when the human tide had rolled away, a melancholy
heap of smoking ruins marked the spot where it had lately chafed
Although he had had no rest upon the previous night, and had
watched with little intermission for some weeks past, sleeping only
in the day by starts and snatches, Mr Haredale, from the dawn of
morning until sunset, sought his niece in every place where he
deemed it possible she could have taken refuge. All day long,
nothing, save a draught of water, passed his lips; though he
prosecuted his inquiries far and wide, and never so much as sat
In every quarter he could think of; at Chigwell and in London; at
the houses of the tradespeople with whom he dealt, and of the
friends he knew; he pursued his search. A prey to the most
harrowing anxieties and apprehensions, he went from magistrate to
magistrate, and finally to the Secretary of State. The only
comfort he received was from this minister, who assured him that
the Government, being now driven to the exercise of the extreme
prerogatives of the Crown, were determined to exert them; that a
proclamation would probably be out upon the morrow, giving to the
military, discretionary and unlimited power in the suppression of
the riots; that the sympathies of the King, the Administration, and
both Houses of Parliament, and indeed of all good men of every
religious persuasion, were strongly with the injured Catholics; and
that justice should be done them at any cost or hazard. He told
him, moreover, that other persons whose houses had been burnt, had
for a time lost sight of their children or their relatives, but
had, in every case, within his knowledge, succeeded in discovering
them; that his complaint should be remembered, and fully stated in
the instructions given to the officers in command, and to all the
inferior myrmidons of justice; and that everything that could be
done to help him, should be done, with a goodwill and in good
Grateful for this consolation, feeble as it was in its reference to
the past, and little hope as it afforded him in connection with the
subject of distress which lay nearest to his heart; and really
thankful for the interest the minister expressed, and seemed to
feel, in his condition; Mr Haredale withdrew. He found himself,
with the night coming on, alone in the streets; and destitute of
any place in which to lay his head.
He entered an hotel near Charing Cross, and ordered some
refreshment and a bed. He saw that his faint and worn appearance
attracted the attention of the landlord and his waiters; and
thinking that they might suppose him to be penniless, took out his
purse, and laid it on the table. It was not that, the landlord
said, in a faltering voice. If he were one of those who had
suffered by the rioters, he durst not give him entertainment. He
had a family of children, and had been twice warned to be careful
in receiving guests. He heartily prayed his forgiveness, but what
could he do?
Nothing. No man felt that more sincerely than Mr Haredale. He
told the man as much, and left the house.
Feeling that he might have anticipated this occurrence, after what
he had seen at Chigwell in the morning, where no man dared to touch
a spade, though he offered a large reward to all who would come and
dig among the ruins of his house, he walked along the Strand; too
proud to expose himself to another refusal, and of too generous a
spirit to involve in distress or ruin any honest tradesman who
might be weak enough to give him shelter. He wandered into one of
the streets by the side of the river, and was pacing in a
thoughtful manner up and down, thinking of things that had happened
long ago, when he heard a servant-man at an upper window call to
another on the opposite side of the street, that the mob were
setting fire to Newgate.
To Newgate! where that man was! His failing strength returned,
his energies came back with tenfold vigour, on the instant. If it
were possible--if they should set the murderer free--was he, after
all he had undergone, to die with the suspicion of having slain his
own brother, dimly gathering about him--
He had no consciousness of going to the jail; but there he stood,
before it. There was the crowd wedged and pressed together in a
dense, dark, moving mass; and there were the flames soaring up into
the air. His head turned round and round, lights flashed before
his eyes, and he struggled hard with two men.
'Nay, nay,' said one. 'Be more yourself, my good sir. We attract
attention here. Come away. What can you do among so many men?'
'The gentleman's always for doing something,' said the other,
forcing him along as he spoke. 'I like him for that. I do like
him for that.'
They had by this time got him into a court, hard by the prison. He
looked from one to the other, and as he tried to release himself,
felt that he tottered on his feet. He who had spoken first, was
the old gentleman whom he had seen at the Lord Mayor's. The other
was John Grueby, who had stood by him so manfully at Westminster.
'What does this mean?' he asked them faintly. 'How came we
'On the skirts of the crowd,' returned the distiller; 'but come
with us. Pray come with us. You seem to know my friend here?'
'Surely,' said Mr Haredale, looking in a kind of stupor at John.
'He'll tell you then,' returned the old gentleman, 'that I am a man
to be trusted. He's my servant. He was lately (as you know, I
have no doubt) in Lord George Gordon's service; but he left it, and
brought, in pure goodwill to me and others, who are marked by the
rioters, such intelligence as he had picked up, of their designs.'
--'On one condition, please, sir,' said John, touching his hat. No
evidence against my lord--a misled man--a kind-hearted man, sir.
My lord never intended this.'
'The condition will be observed, of course,' rejoined the old
distiller. 'It's a point of honour. But come with us, sir; pray
come with us.'
John Grueby added no entreaties, but he adopted a different kind of
persuasion, by putting his arm through one of Mr Haredale's, while
his master took the other, and leading him away with all speed.
Sensible, from a strange lightness in his head, and a difficulty in
fixing his thoughts on anything, even to the extent of bearing his
companions in his mind for a minute together without looking at
them, that his brain was affected by the agitation and suffering
through which he had passed, and to which he was still a prey, Mr
Haredale let them lead him where they would. As they went along,
he was conscious of having no command over what he said or thought,
and that he had a fear of going mad.
The distiller lived, as he had told him when they first met, on
Holborn Hill, where he had great storehouses and drove a large
trade. They approached his house by a back entrance, lest they
should attract the notice of the crowd, and went into an upper
room which faced towards the street; the windows, however, in
common with those of every other room in the house, were boarded up
inside, in order that, out of doors, all might appear quite dark.
They laid him on a sofa in this chamber, perfectly insensible; but
John immediately fetching a surgeon, who took from him a large
quantity of blood, he gradually came to himself. As he was, for
the time, too weak to walk, they had no difficulty in persuading
him to remain there all night, and got him to bed without loss of a
minute. That done, they gave him cordial and some toast, and
presently a pretty strong composing-draught, under the influence
of which he soon fell into a lethargy, and, for a time, forgot his
The vintner, who was a very hearty old fellow and a worthy man, had
no thoughts of going to bed himself, for he had received several
threatening warnings from the rioters, and had indeed gone out that
evening to try and gather from the conversation of the mob whether
his house was to be the next attacked. He sat all night in an
easy-chair in the same room--dozing a little now and then--and
received from time to time the reports of John Grueby and two or
three other trustworthy persons in his employ, who went out into
the streets as scouts; and for whose entertainment an ample
allowance of good cheer (which the old vintner, despite his
anxiety, now and then attacked himself) was set forth in an
These accounts were of a sufficiently alarming nature from the
first; but as the night wore on, they grew so much worse, and
involved such a fearful amount of riot and destruction, that in
comparison with these new tidings all the previous disturbances
sunk to nothing.
The first intelligence that came, was of the taking of Newgate, and
the escape of all the prisoners, whose track, as they made up
Holborn and into the adjacent streets, was proclaimed to those
citizens who were shut up in their houses, by the rattling of
their chains, which formed a dismal concert, and was heard in every
direction, as though so many forges were at work. The flames too,
shone so brightly through the vintner's skylights, that the rooms
and staircases below were nearly as light as in broad day; while
the distant shouting of the mob seemed to shake the very walls and
At length they were heard approaching the house, and some minutes
of terrible anxiety ensued. They came close up, and stopped before
it; but after giving three loud yells, went on. And although they
returned several times that night, creating new alarms each time,
they did nothing there; having their hands full. Shortly after
they had gone away for the first time, one of the scouts came
running in with the news that they had stopped before Lord
Mansfield's house in Bloomsbury Square.
Soon afterwards there came another, and another, and then the first
returned again, and so, by little and little, their tale was this:--
That the mob gathering round Lord Mansfield's house, had called on
those within to open the door, and receiving no reply (for Lord and
Lady Mansfield were at that moment escaping by the backway), forced
an entrance according to their usual custom. That they then began
to demolish the house with great fury, and setting fire to it in
several parts, involved in a common ruin the whole of the costly
furniture, the plate and jewels, a beautiful gallery of pictures,
the rarest collection of manuscripts ever possessed by any one
private person in the world, and worse than all, because nothing
could replace this loss, the great Law Library, on almost every
page of which were notes in the Judge's own hand, of inestimable
value,--being the results of the study and experience of his whole
life. That while they were howling and exulting round the fire, a
troop of soldiers, with a magistrate among them, came up, and being
too late (for the mischief was by that time done), began to
disperse the crowd. That the Riot Act being read, and the crowd
still resisting, the soldiers received orders to fire, and
levelling their muskets shot dead at the first discharge six men
and a woman, and wounded many persons; and loading again directly,
fired another volley, but over the people's heads it was supposed,
as none were seen to fall. That thereupon, and daunted by the
shrieks and tumult, the crowd began to disperse, and the soldiers
went away, leaving the killed and wounded on the ground: which they
had no sooner done than the rioters came back again, and taking up
the dead bodies, and the wounded people, formed into a rude
procession, having the bodies in the front. That in this order
they paraded off with a horrible merriment; fixing weapons in the
dead men's hands to make them look as if alive; and preceded by a
fellow ringing Lord Mansfield's dinner-bell with all his might.
The scouts reported further, that this party meeting with some
others who had been at similar work elsewhere, they all united into
one, and drafting off a few men with the killed and wounded,
marched away to Lord Mansfield's country seat at Caen Wood, between
Hampstead and Highgate; bent upon destroying that house likewise,
and lighting up a great fire there, which from that height should
be seen all over London. But in this, they were disappointed, for
a party of horse having arrived before them, they retreated faster
than they went, and came straight back to town.
There being now a great many parties in the streets, each went to
work according to its humour, and a dozen houses were quickly
blazing, including those of Sir John Fielding and two other
justices, and four in Holborn--one of the greatest thoroughfares in
London--which were all burning at the same time, and burned until
they went out of themselves, for the people cut the engine hose,
and would not suffer the firemen to play upon the flames. At one
house near Moorfields, they found in one of the rooms some canary
birds in cages, and these they cast into the fire alive. The poor
little creatures screamed, it was said, like infants, when they
were flung upon the blaze; and one man was so touched that he tried
in vain to save them, which roused the indignation of the crowd,
and nearly cost him his life.
At this same house, one of the fellows who went through the rooms,
breaking the furniture and helping to destroy the building, found a
child's doll--a poor toy--which he exhibited at the window to the
mob below, as the image of some unholy saint which the late
occupants had worshipped. While he was doing this, another man
with an equally tender conscience (they had both been foremost in
throwing down the canary birds for roasting alive), took his seat
on the parapet of the house, and harangued the crowd from a
pamphlet circulated by the Association, relative to the true
principles of Christianity! Meanwhile the Lord Mayor, with his
hands in his pockets, looked on as an idle man might look at any
other show, and seemed mightily satisfied to have got a good place.
Such were the accounts brought to the old vintner by his servants
as he sat at the side of Mr Haredale's bed, having been unable even
to doze, after the first part of the night; too much disturbed by
his own fears; by the cries of the mob, the light of the fires, and
the firing of the soldiers. Such, with the addition of the release
of all the prisoners in the New Jail at Clerkenwell, and as many
robberies of passengers in the streets, as the crowd had leisure to
indulge in, were the scenes of which Mr Haredale was happily
unconscious, and which were all enacted before midnight.
When darkness broke away and morning began to dawn, the town wore a
strange aspect indeed.
Sleep had hardly been thought of all night. The general alarm was
so apparent in the faces of the inhabitants, and its expression was
so aggravated by want of rest (few persons, with any property to
lose, having dared go to bed since Monday), that a stranger coming
into the streets would have supposed some mortal pest or plague to
have been raging. In place of the usual cheerfulness and animation
of morning, everything was dead and silent. The shops remained
closed, offices and warehouses were shut, the coach and chair
stands were deserted, no carts or waggons rumbled through the
slowly waking streets, the early cries were all hushed; a universal
gloom prevailed. Great numbers of people were out, even at
daybreak, but they flitted to and fro as though they shrank from
the sound of their own footsteps; the public ways were haunted
rather than frequented; and round the smoking ruins people stood
apart from one another and in silence, not venturing to condemn
the rioters, or to be supposed to do so, even in whispers.
At the Lord President's in Piccadilly, at Lambeth Palace, at the
Lord Chancellor's in Great Ormond Street, in the Royal Exchange,
the Bank, the Guildhall, the Inns of Court, the Courts of Law, and
every chamber fronting the streets near Westminster Hall and the
Houses of Parliament, parties of soldiers were posted before
daylight. A body of Horse Guards paraded Palace Yard; an
encampment was formed in the Park, where fifteen hundred men and
five battalions of Militia were under arms; the Tower was
fortified, the drawbridges were raised, the cannon loaded and
pointed, and two regiments of artillery busied in strengthening the
fortress and preparing it for defence. A numerous detachment of
soldiers were stationed to keep guard at the New River Head, which
the people had threatened to attack, and where, it was said, they
meant to cut off the main-pipes, so that there might be no water
for the extinction of the flames. In the Poultry, and on Cornhill,
and at several other leading points, iron chains were drawn across
the street; parties of soldiers were distributed in some of the old
city churches while it was yet dark; and in several private houses
(among them, Lord Rockingham's in Grosvenor Square); which were
blockaded as though to sustain a siege, and had guns pointed from
the windows. When the sun rose, it shone into handsome apartments
filled with armed men; the furniture hastily heaped away in
corners, and made of little or no account, in the terror of the
time--on arms glittering in city chambers, among desks and stools,
and dusty books--into little smoky churchyards in odd lanes and by-
ways, with soldiers lying down among the tombs, or lounging under
the shade of the one old tree, and their pile of muskets sparkling
in the light--on solitary sentries pacing up and down in
courtyards, silent now, but yesterday resounding with the din and
hum of business--everywhere on guard-rooms, garrisons, and
As the day crept on, still more unusual sights were witnessed in
the streets. The gates of the King's Bench and Fleet Prisons
being opened at the usual hour, were found to have notices affixed
to them, announcing that the rioters would come that night to burn
them down. The wardens, too well knowing the likelihood there was
of this promise being fulfilled, were fain to set their prisoners
at liberty, and give them leave to move their goods; so, all day,
such of them as had any furniture were occupied in conveying it,
some to this place, some to that, and not a few to the brokers'
shops, where they gladly sold it, for any wretched price those
gentry chose to give. There were some broken men among these
debtors who had been in jail so long, and were so miserable and
destitute of friends, so dead to the world, and utterly forgotten
and uncared for, that they implored their jailers not to set them
free, and to send them, if need were, to some other place of
custody. But they, refusing to comply, lest they should incur the
anger of the mob, turned them into the streets, where they wandered
up and down hardly remembering the ways untrodden by their feet so
long, and crying--such abject things those rotten-hearted jails had
made them--as they slunk off in their rags, and dragged their
slipshod feet along the pavement.
Even of the three hundred prisoners who had escaped from Newgate,
there were some--a few, but there were some--who sought their
jailers out and delivered themselves up: preferring imprisonment
and punishment to the horrors of such another night as the last.
Many of the convicts, drawn back to their old place of captivity by
some indescribable attraction, or by a desire to exult over it in
its downfall and glut their revenge by seeing it in ashes, actually
went back in broad noon, and loitered about the cells. Fifty were
retaken at one time on this next day, within the prison walls; but
their fate did not deter others, for there they went in spite of
everything, and there they were taken in twos and threes, twice or
thrice a day, all through the week. Of the fifty just mentioned,
some were occupied in endeavouring to rekindle the fire; but in
general they seemed to have no object in view but to prowl and
lounge about the old place: being often found asleep in the ruins,
or sitting talking there, or even eating and drinking, as in a
Besides the notices on the gates of the Fleet and the King's Bench,
many similar announcements were left, before one o'clock at noon,
at the houses of private individuals; and further, the mob
proclaimed their intention of seizing on the Bank, the Mint, the
Arsenal at Woolwich, and the Royal Palaces. The notices were
seldom delivered by more than one man, who, if it were at a shop,
went in, and laid it, with a bloody threat perhaps, upon the
counter; or if it were at a private house, knocked at the door, and
thrust it in the servant's hand. Notwithstanding the presence of
the military in every quarter of the town, and the great force in
the Park, these messengers did their errands with impunity all
through the day. So did two boys who went down Holborn alone,
armed with bars taken from the railings of Lord Mansfield's house,
and demanded money for the rioters. So did a tall man on horseback
who made a collection for the same purpose in Fleet Street, and
refused to take anything but gold.
A rumour had now got into circulation, too, which diffused a
greater dread all through London, even than these publicly
announced intentions of the rioters, though all men knew that if
they were successfully effected, there must ensue a national
bankruptcy and general ruin. It was said that they meant to throw
the gates of Bedlam open, and let all the madmen loose. This
suggested such dreadful images to the people's minds, and was
indeed an act so fraught with new and unimaginable horrors in the
contemplation, that it beset them more than any loss or cruelty of
which they could foresee the worst, and drove many sane men nearly
So the day passed on: the prisoners moving their goods; people
running to and fro in the streets, carrying away their property;
groups standing in silence round the ruins; all business suspended;
and the soldiers disposed as has been already mentioned, remaining
quite inactive. So the day passed on, and dreaded night drew near
At last, at seven o'clock in the evening, the Privy Council issued
a solemn proclamation that it was now necessary to employ the
military, and that the officers had most direct and effectual
orders, by an immediate exertion of their utmost force, to repress
the disturbances; and warning all good subjects of the King to keep
themselves, their servants, and apprentices, within doors that
night. There was then delivered out to every soldier on duty,
thirty-six rounds of powder and ball; the drums beat; and the whole
force was under arms at sunset.
The City authorities, stimulated by these vigorous measures, held a
Common Council; passed a vote thanking the military associations
who had tendered their aid to the civil authorities; accepted it;
and placed them under the direction of the two sheriffs. At the
Queen's palace, a double guard, the yeomen on duty, the groom-
porters, and all other attendants, were stationed in the passages
and on the staircases at seven o'clock, with strict instructions to
be watchful on their posts all night; and all the doors were
locked. The gentlemen of the Temple, and the other Inns, mounted
guard within their gates, and strengthened them with the great
stones of the pavement, which they took up for the purpose. In
Lincoln's Inn, they gave up the hall and commons to the
Northumberland Militia, under the command of Lord Algernon Percy;
in some few of the city wards, the burgesses turned out, and
without making a very fierce show, looked brave enough. Some
hundreds of stout gentlemen threw themselves, armed to the teeth,
into the halls of the different companies, double-locked and bolted
all the gates, and dared the rioters (among themselves) to come on
at their peril. These arrangements being all made simultaneously,
or nearly so, were completed by the time it got dark; and then the
streets were comparatively clear, and were guarded at all the great
corners and chief avenues by the troops: while parties of the
officers rode up and down in all directions, ordering chance
stragglers home, and admonishing the residents to keep within their
houses, and, if any firing ensued, not to approach the windows.
More chains were drawn across such of the thoroughfares as were of
a nature to favour the approach of a great crowd, and at each of
these points a considerable force was stationed. All these
precautions having been taken, and it being now quite dark, those
in command awaited the result in some anxiety: and not without a
hope that such vigilant demonstrations might of themselves
dishearten the populace, and prevent any new outrages.
But in this reckoning they were cruelly mistaken, for in half an
hour, or less, as though the setting in of night had been their
preconcerted signal, the rioters having previously, in small
parties, prevented the lighting of the street lamps, rose like a
great sea; and that in so many places at once, and with such
inconceivable fury, that those who had the direction of the troops
knew not, at first, where to turn or what to do. One after
another, new fires blazed up in every quarter of the town, as
though it were the intention of the insurgents to wrap the city in
a circle of flames, which, contracting by degrees, should burn the
whole to ashes; the crowd swarmed and roared in every street; and
none but rioters and soldiers being out of doors, it seemed to the
latter as if all London were arrayed against them, and they stood
alone against the town.
In two hours, six-and-thirty fires were raging--six-and-thirty
great conflagrations: among them the Borough Clink in Tooley
Street, the King's Bench, the Fleet, and the New Bridewell. In
almost every street, there was a battle; and in every quarter the
muskets of the troops were heard above the shouts and tumult of the
mob. The firing began in the Poultry, where the chain was drawn
across the road, where nearly a score of people were killed on the
first discharge. Their bodies having been hastily carried into St
Mildred's Church by the soldiers, the latter fired again, and
following fast upon the crowd, who began to give way when they saw
the execution that was done, formed across Cheapside, and charged
them at the point of the bayonet.
The streets were now a dreadful spectacle. The shouts of the
rabble, the shrieks of women, the cries of the wounded, and the
constant firing, formed a deafening and an awful accompaniment to
the sights which every corner presented. Wherever the road was
obstructed by the chains, there the fighting and the loss of life
were greatest; but there was hot work and bloodshed in almost every
At Holborn Bridge, and on Holborn Hill, the confusion was greater
than in any other part; for the crowd that poured out of the city
in two great streams, one by Ludgate Hill, and one by Newgate
Street, united at that spot, and formed a mass so dense, that at
every volley the people seemed to fall in heaps. At this place a
large detachment of soldiery were posted, who fired, now up Fleet
Market, now up Holborn, now up Snow Hill--constantly raking the
streets in each direction. At this place too, several large fires
were burning, so that all the terrors of that terrible night seemed
to be concentrated in one spot.
Full twenty times, the rioters, headed by one man who wielded an
axe in his right hand, and bestrode a brewer's horse of great size
and strength, caparisoned with fetters taken out of Newgate, which
clanked and jingled as he went, made an attempt to force a passage
at this point, and fire the vintner's house. Full twenty times
they were repulsed with loss of life, and still came back again;
and though the fellow at their head was marked and singled out by
all, and was a conspicuous object as the only rioter on horseback,
not a man could hit him. So surely as the smoke cleared away, so
surely there was he; calling hoarsely to his companions,
brandishing his axe above his head, and dashing on as though he
bore a charmed life, and was proof against ball and powder.
This man was Hugh; and in every part of the riot, he was seen. He
headed two attacks upon the Bank, helped to break open the Toll-
houses on Blackfriars Bridge, and cast the money into the street:
fired two of the prisons with his own hand: was here, and there,
and everywhere--always foremost--always active--striking at the
soldiers, cheering on the crowd, making his horse's iron music
heard through all the yell and uproar: but never hurt or stopped.
Turn him at one place, and he made a new struggle in anotlter;
force him to retreat at this point, and he advanced on that,
directly. Driven from Holborn for the twentieth time, he rode at
the head of a great crowd straight upon Saint Paul's, attacked a
guard of soldiers who kept watch over a body of prisoners within
the iron railings, forced them to retreat, rescued the men they had
in custody, and with this accession to his party, came back again,
mad with liquor and excitement, and hallooing them on like a
It would have been no easy task for the most careful rider to sit a
horse in the midst of such a throng and tumult; but though this
madman rolled upon his back (he had no saddle) like a boat upon the
sea, he never for an instant lost his seat, or failed to guide him
where he would. Through the very thickest of the press, over dead
bodies and burning fragments, now on the pavement, now in the road,
now riding up a flight of steps to make himself the more
conspicuous to his party, and now forcing a passage through a mass
of human beings, so closely squeezed together that it seemed as if
the edge of a knife would scarcely part them,--on he went, as
though he could surmount all obstacles by the mere exercise of his
will. And perhaps his not being shot was in some degree
attributable to this very circumstance; for his extreme audacity,
and the conviction that he must be one of those to whom the
proclamation referred, inspired the soldiers with a desire to take
him alive, and diverted many an aim which otherwise might have been
more near the mark.
The vintner and Mr Haredale, unable to sit quietly listening to the
noise without seeing what went on, had climbed to the roof of the
house, and hiding behind a stack of chimneys, were looking
cautiously down into the street, almost hoping that after so many
repulses the rioters would be foiled, when a great shout proclaimed
that a parry were coming round the other way; and the dismal
jingling of those accursed fetters warned them next moment that
they too were led by Hugh. The soldiers had advanced into Fleet
Market and were dispersing the people there; so that they came on
with hardly any check, and were soon before the house.
'All's over now,' said the vintner. 'Fifty thousand pounds will be
scattered in a minute. We must save ourselves. We can do no
more, and shall have reason to be thankful if we do as much.'
Their first impulse was, to clamber along the roofs of the houses,
and, knocking at some garret window for admission, pass down that
way into the street, and so escape. But another fierce cry from
below, and a general upturning of the faces of the crowd, apprised
them that they were discovered, and even that Mr Haredale was
recognised; for Hugh, seeing him plainly in the bright glare of
the fire, which in that part made it as light as day, called to him
by his name, and swore to have his life.
'Leave me here,' said Mr Haredale, 'and in Heaven's name, my good
friend, save yourself! Come on!' he muttered, as he turned towards
Hugh and faced him without any further effort at concealment: 'This
roof is high, and if we close, we will die together!'
'Madness,' said the honest vintner, pulling him back, 'sheer
madness. Hear reason, sir. My good sir, hear reason. I could
never make myself heard by knocking at a window now; and even if I
could, no one would be bold enough to connive at my escape.
Through the cellars, there's a kind of passage into the back street
by which we roll casks in and out. We shall have time to get down
there before they can force an entry. Do not delay an instant, but
come with me--for both our sakes--for mine--my dear good sir!'
As he spoke, and drew Mr Haredale back, they had both a glimpse of
the street. It was but a glimpse, but it showed them the crowd,
gathering and clustering round the house: some of the armed men
pressing to the front to break down the doors and windows, some
bringing brands from the nearest fire, some with lifted faces
following their course upon the roof and pointing them out to their
companions: all raging and roaring like the flames they lighted up.
They saw some men thirsting for the treasures of strong liquor
which they knew were stored within; they saw others, who had been
wounded, sinking down into the opposite doorways and dying,
solitary wretches, in the midst of all the vast assemblage; here a
frightened woman trying to escape; and there a lost child; and
there a drunken ruffian, unconscious of the death-wound on his
head, raving and fighting to the last. All these things, and even
such trivial incidents as a man with his hat off, or turning round,
or stooping down, or shaking hands with another, they marked
distinctly; yet in a glance so brief, that, in the act of stepping
back, they lost the whole, and saw but the pale faces of each
other, and the red sky above them.
Mr Haredale yielded to the entreaties of his companion--more
because he was resolved to defend him, than for any thought he had
of his own life, or any care he entertained for his own safety--and
quickly re-entering the house, they descended the stairs together.
Loud blows were thundering on the shutters, crowbars were already
thrust beneath the door, the glass fell from the sashes, a deep
light shone through every crevice, and they heard the voices of the
foremost in the crowd so close to every chink and keyhole, that
they seemed to be hoarsely whispering their threats into their very
ears. They had but a moment reached the bottom of the cellar-steps
and shut the door behind them, when the mob broke in.
The vaults were profoundly dark, and having no torch or candle--for
they had been afraid to carry one, lest it should betray their
place of refuge--they were obliged to grope with their hands. But
they were not long without light, for they had not gone far when
they heard the crowd forcing the door; and, looking back among the
low-arched passages, could see them in the distance, hurrying to
and fro with flashing links, broaching the casks, staving the great
vats, turning off upon the right hand and the left, into the
different cellars, and lying down to drink at the channels of
strong spirits which were already flowing on the ground.
They hurried on, not the less quickly for this; and had reached the
only vault which lay between them and the passage out, when
suddenly, from the direction in which they were going, a strong
light gleamed upon their faces; and before they could slip aside,
or turn back, or hide themselves, two men (one bearing a torch)
came upon them, and cried in an astonished whisper, 'Here they
At the same instant they pulled off what they wore upon their
heads. Mr Haredale saw before him Edward Chester, and then saw,
when the vintner gasped his name, Joe Willet.
Ay, the same Joe, though with an arm the less, who used to make the
quarterly journey on the grey mare to pay the bill to the purple-
faced vintner; and that very same purple-faced vintner, formerly
of Thames Street, now looked him in the face, and challenged him by
'Give me your hand,' said Joe softly, taking it whether the
astonished vintner would or no. 'Don't fear to shake it; it's a
friendly one and a hearty one, though it has no fellow. Why, how
well you look and how bluff you are! And you--God bless you, sir.
Take heart, take heart. We'll find them. Be of good cheer; we
have not been idle.'
There was something so honest and frank in Joe's speech, that Mr
Haredale put his hand in his involuntarily, though their meeting
was suspicious enough. But his glance at Edward Chester, and that
gentleman's keeping aloof, were not lost upon Joe, who said
bluntly, glancing at Edward while he spoke:
'Times are changed, Mr Haredale, and times have come when we ought
to know friends from enemies, and make no confusion of names. Let
me tell you that but for this gentleman, you would most likely
have been dead by this time, or badly wounded at the best.'
'What do you say?' cried Mr Haredale.
'I say,' said Joe, 'first, that it was a bold thing to be in the
crowd at all disguised as one of them; though I won't say much
about that, on second thoughts, for that's my case too. Secondly,
that it was a brave and glorious action--that's what I call it--to
strike that fellow off his horse before their eyes!'
'What fellow! Whose eyes!'
'What fellow, sir!' cried Joe: 'a fellow who has no goodwill to
you, and who has the daring and devilry in him of twenty fellows.
I know him of old. Once in the house, HE would have found you,
here or anywhere. The rest owe you no particular grudge, and,
unless they see you, will only think of drinking themselves dead.
But we lose time. Are you ready?'
'Quite,' said Edward. 'Put out the torch, Joe, and go on. And be
silent, there's a good fellow.'
'Silent or not silent,' murmured Joe, as he dropped the flaring
link upon the ground, crushed it with his foot, and gave his hand
to Mr Haredale, 'it was a brave and glorious action;--no man can
Both Mr Haredale and the worthy vintner were too amazed and too
much hurried to ask any further questions, so followed their
conductors in silence. It seemed, from a short whispering which
presently ensued between them and the vintner relative to the best
way of escape, that they had entered by the back-door, with the
connivance of John Grueby, who watched outside with the key in his
pocket, and whom they had taken into their confidence. A party of
the crowd coming up that way, just as they entered, John had
double-locked the door again, and made off for the soldiers, so
that means of retreat was cut off from under them.
However, as the front-door had been forced, and this minor crowd,
being anxious to get at the liquor, had no fancy for losing time in
breaking down another, but had gone round and got in from Holborn
with the rest, the narrow lane in the rear was quite free of
people. So, when they had crawled through the passage indicated by
the vintner (which was a mere shelving-trap for the admission of
casks), and had managed with some difficulty to unchain and raise
the door at the upper end, they emerged into the street without
being observed or interrupted. Joe still holding Mr Haredale
tight, and Edward taking the same care of the vintner, they hurried
through the streets at a rapid pace; occasionally standing aside to
let some fugitives go by, or to keep out of the way of the soldiers
who followed them, and whose questions, when they halted to put
any, were speedily stopped by one whispered word from Joe.
While Newgate was burning on the previous night, Barnaby and his
father, having been passed among the crowd from hand to hand, stood
in Smithfield, on the outskirts of the mob, gazing at the flames
like men who had been suddenly roused from sleep. Some moments
elapsed before they could distinctly remember where they were, or
how they got there; or recollected that while they were standing
idle and listless spectators of the fire, they had tools in their
hands which had been hurriedly given them that they might free
themselves from their fetters.
Barnaby, heavily ironed as he was, if he had obeyed his first
impulse, or if he had been alone, would have made his way back to
the side of Hugh, who to his clouded intellect now shone forth with
the new lustre of being his preserver and truest friend. But his
father's terror of remaining in the streets, communicated itself to
him when he comprehended the full extent of his fears, and
impressed him with the same eagerness to fly to a place of safety.
In a corner of the market among the pens for cattle, Barnaby knelt
down, and pausing every now and then to pass his hand over his
father's face, or look up to him with a smile, knocked off his
irons. When he had seen him spring, a free man, to his feet, and
had given vent to the transport of delight which the sight
awakened, he went to work upon his own, which soon fell rattling
down upon the ground, and left his limbs unfettered.
Gliding away together when this task was accomplished, and passing
several groups of men, each gathered round a stooping figure to
hide him from those who passed, but unable to repress the clanking
sound of hammers, which told that they too were busy at the same
work,--the two fugitives made towards Clerkenwell, and passing
thence to Islington, as the nearest point of egress, were quickly
in the fields. After wandering about for a long time, they found
in a pasture near Finchley a poor shed, with walls of mud, and roof
of grass and brambles, built for some cowherd, but now deserted.
Here, they lay down for the rest of the night.
They wandered to and fro when it was day, and once Barnaby went off
alone to a cluster of little cottages two or three miles away, to
purchase some bread and milk. But finding no better shelter, they
returned to the same place, and lay down again to wait for night.
Heaven alone can tell, with what vague hopes of duty, and
affection; with what strange promptings of nature, intelligible to
him as to a man of radiant mind and most enlarged capacity; with
what dim memories of children he had played with when a child
himself, who had prattled of their fathers, and of loving them, and
being loved; with how many half-remembered, dreamy associations of
his mother's grief and tears and widowhood; he watched and tended
this man. But that a vague and shadowy crowd of such ideas came
slowly on him; that they taught him to be sorry when he looked upon
his haggard face, that they overflowed his eyes when he stooped to
kiss him, that they kept him waking in a tearful gladness, shading
him from the sun, fanning him with leaves, soothing him when he
started in his sleep--ah! what a troubled sleep it was--and
wondering when SHE would come to join them and be happy, is the
truth. He sat beside him all that day; listening for her footsteps
in every breath of air, looking for her shadow on the gently-waving
grass, twining the hedge flowers for her pleasure when she came,
and his when he awoke; and stooping down from time to time to
listen to his mutterings, and wonder why he was so restless in that
quiet place. The sun went down, and night came on, and he was
still quite tranquil; busied with these thoughts, as if there were
no other people in the world, and the dull cloud of smoke hanging
on the immense city in the distance, hid no vices, no crimes, no
life or death, or cause of disquiet--nothing but clear air.
But the hour had now come when he must go alone to find out the
blind man (a task that filled him with delight) and bring him to
that place; taking especial care that he was not watched or
followed on his way back. He listened to the directions he must
observe, repeated them again and again, and after twice or thrice
returning to surprise his father with a light-hearted laugh, went
forth, at last, upon his errand: leaving Grip, whom he had carried
from the jail in his arms, to his care.
Fleet of foot, and anxious to return, he sped swiftly on towards
the city, but could not reach it before the fires began, and made
the night angry with their dismal lustre. When he entered the
town--it might be that he was changed by going there without his
late companions, and on no violent errand; or by the beautiful
solitude in which he had passed the day, or by the thoughts that
had come upon him,--but it seemed peopled by a legion of devils.
This flight and pursuit, this cruel burning and destroying, these
dreadful cries and stunning noises, were THEY the good lord's noble
Though almost stupefied by the bewildering scene, still be found
the blind man's house. It was shut up and tenantless.
He waited for a long while, but no one came. At last he withdrew;
and as he knew by this time that the soldiers were firing, and many
people must have been killed, he went down into Holborn, where he
heard the great crowd was, to try if he could find Hugh, and
persuade him to avoid the danger, and return with him.
If he had been stunned and shocked before, his horror was
increased a thousandfold when he got into this vortex of the riot,
and not being an actor in the terrible spectacle, had it all before
his eyes. But there, in the midst, towering above them all, close
before the house they were attacking now, was Hugh on horseback,
calling to the rest!
Sickened by the sights surrounding him on every side, and by the
heat and roar, and crash, he forced his way among the crowd (where
many recognised him, and with shouts pressed back to let him pass),
and in time was nearly up with Hugh, who was savagely threatening
some one, but whom or what he said, he could not, in the great
confusion, understand. At that moment the crowd forced their way
into the house, and Hugh--it was impossible to see by what means,
in such a concourse--fell headlong down.
Barnaby was beside him when he staggered to his feet. It was well
he made him hear his voice, or Hugh, with his uplifted axe, would
have cleft his skull in twain.
'Barnaby--you! Whose hand was that, that struck me down?'
'Whose!--I say, whose!' he cried, reeling back, and looking wildly
round. 'What are you doing? Where is he? Show me!'
'You are hurt,' said Barnaby--as indeed he was, in the head, both
by the blow he had received, and by his horse's hoof. 'Come away
As he spoke, he took the horse's bridle in his hand, turned him,
and dragged Hugh several paces. This brought them out of the
crowd, which was pouring from the street into the vintner's
'Where's--where's Dennis?' said Hugh, coming to a stop, and
checking Barnaby with his strong arm. 'Where has he been all day?
What did he mean by leaving me as he did, in the jail, last night?
Tell me, you--d'ye hear!'
With a flourish of his dangerous weapon, he fell down upon the
ground like a log. After a minute, though already frantic with
drinking and with the wound in his head, he crawled to a stream of
burning spirit which was pouring down the kennel, and began to
drink at it as if it were a brook of water.
Barnaby drew him away, and forced him to rise. Though he could
neither stand nor walk, he involuntarily staggered to his horse,
climbed upon his back, and clung there. After vainly attempting to
divest the animal of his clanking trappings, Barnaby sprung up
behind him, snatched the bridle, turned into Leather Lane, which
was close at hand, and urged the frightened horse into a heavy
He looked back, once, before he left the street; and looked upon a
sight not easily to be erased, even from his remembrance, so long
as he had life.
The vintner's house with a half-a-dozen others near at hand, was
one great, glowing blaze. All night, no one had essayed to quench
the flames, or stop their progress; but now a body of soldiers
were actively engaged in pulling down two old wooden houses, which
were every moment in danger of taking fire, and which could
scarcely fail, if they were left to burn, to extend the
conflagration immensely. The tumbling down of nodding walls and
heavy blocks of wood, the hooting and the execrations of the crowd,
the distant firing of other military detachments, the distracted
looks and cries of those whose habitations were in danger, the
hurrying to and fro of frightened people with their goods; the
reflections in every quarter of the sky, of deep, red, soaring
flames, as though the last day had come and the whole universe were
burning; the dust, and smoke, and drift of fiery particles,
scorching and kindling all it fell upon; the hot unwholesome
vapour, the blight on everything; the stars, and moon, and very
sky, obliterated;--made up such a sum of dreariness and ruin, that
it seemed as if the face of Heaven were blotted out, and night, in
its rest and quiet, and softened light, never could look upon the
But there was a worse spectacle than this--worse by far than fire
and smoke, or even the rabble's unappeasable and maniac rage. The
gutters of the street, and every crack and fissure in the stones,
ran with scorching spirit, which being dammed up by busy hands,
overflowed the road and pavement, and formed a great pool, into
which the people dropped down dead by dozens. They lay in heaps
all round this fearful pond, husbands and wives, fathers and sons,
mothers and daughters, women with children in their arms and babies
at their breasts, and drank until they died. While some stooped
with their lips to the brink and never raised their heads again,
others sprang up from their fiery draught, and danced, half in a
mad triumph, and half in the agony of suffocation, until they fell,
and steeped their corpses in the liquor that had killed them. Nor
was even this the worst or most appalling kind of death that
happened on this fatal night. From the burning cellars, where they
drank out of hats, pails, buckets, tubs, and shoes, some men were
drawn, alive, but all alight from head to foot; who, in their
unendurable anguish and suffering, making for anything that had the
look of water, rolled, hissing, in this hideous lake, and splashed
up liquid fire which lapped in all it met with as it ran along the
surface, and neither spared the living nor the dead. On this last
night of the great riots--for the last night it was--the wretched
victims of a senseless outcry, became themselves the dust and ashes
of the flames they had kindled, and strewed the public streets of
With all he saw in this last glance fixed indelibly upon his mind,
Barnaby hurried from the city which enclosed such horrors; and
holding down his head that he might not even see the glare of the
fires upon the quiet landscape, was soon in the still country
He stopped at about half-a-mile from the shed where his father
lay, and with some difficulty making Hugh sensible that he must
dismount, sunk the horse's furniture in a pool of stagnant water,
and turned the animal loose. That done, he supported his companion
as well as he could, and led him slowly forward.
It was the dead of night, and very dark, when Barnaby, with his
stumbling comrade, approached the place where he had left his
father; but he could see him stealing away into the gloom,
distrustful even of him, and rapidly retreating. After calling to
him twice or thrice that there was nothing to fear, but without
effect, he suffered Hugh to sink upon the ground, and followed to
bring him back.
He continued to creep away, until Barnaby was close upon him; then
turned, and said in a terrible, though suppressed voice:
'Let me go. Do not lay hands upon me. You have told her; and you
and she together have betrayed me!'
Barnaby looked at him, in silence.
'You have seen your mother!'
'No,' cried Barnaby, eagerly. 'Not for a long time--longer than I
can tell. A whole year, I think. Is she here?'
His father looked upon him steadfastly for a few moments, and then
said--drawing nearer to him as he spoke, for, seeing his face, and
hearing his words, it was impossible to doubt his truth:
'What man is that?'
'Hugh--Hugh. Only Hugh. You know him. HE will not harm you.
Why, you're afraid of Hugh! Ha ha ha! Afraid of gruff, old, noisy
'What man is he, I ask you,' he rejoined so fiercely, that Barnaby
stopped in his laugh, and shrinking back, surveyed him with a look
of terrified amazement.
'Why, how stern you are! You make me fear you, though you are my
father. Why do you speak to me so?'
--'I want,' he answered, putting away the hand which his son, with
a timid desire to propitiate him, laid upon his sleeve,--'I want an
answer, and you give me only jeers and questions. Who have you
brought with you to this hiding-place, poor fool; and where is the
'I don't know where. His house was close shut. I waited, but no
person came; that was no fault of mine. This is Hugh--brave Hugh,
who broke into that ugly jail, and set us free. Aha! You like him
now, do you? You like him now!'
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