Part 7 out of 15
returned his glances with interest, as they climbed the winding
It terminated in a little ante-room adjoining that from which they
had seen the light. Mr Haredale entered first, and led the way
through it into the latter chamber, where he seated himself at a
writing-table from which he had risen when they had rung the bell.
'Come in,' he said, beckoning to old John, who remained bowing at
the door. 'Not you, friend,' he added hastily to Hugh, who entered
also. 'Willet, why do you bring that fellow here?'
'Why, sir,' returned John, elevating his eyebrows, and lowering his
voice to the tone in which the question had been asked him, 'he's a
good guard, you see.'
'Don't be too sure of that,' said Mr Haredale, looking towards him
as he spoke. 'I doubt it. He has an evil eye.'
'There's no imagination in his eye,' returned Mr Willet, glancing
over his shoulder at the organ in question, 'certainly.'
'There is no good there, be assured,' said Mr Haredale. 'Wait in
that little room, friend, and close the door between us.'
Hugh shrugged his shoulders, and with a disdainful look, which
showed, either that he had overheard, or that he guessed the
purport of their whispering, did as he was told. When he was shut
out, Mr Haredale turned to John, and bade him go on with what he
had to say, but not to speak too loud, for there were quick ears
Thus cautioned, Mr Willet, in an oily whisper, recited all that he
had heard and said that night; laying particular stress upon his
own sagacity, upon his great regard for the family, and upon his
solicitude for their peace of mind and happiness. The story moved
his auditor much more than he had expected. Mr Haredale often
changed his attitude, rose and paced the room, returned again,
desired him to repeat, as nearly as he could, the very words that
Solomon had used, and gave so many other signs of being disturbed
and ill at ease, that even Mr Willet was surprised.
'You did quite right,' he said, at the end of a long conversation,
'to bid them keep this story secret. It is a foolish fancy on the
part of this weak-brained man, bred in his fears and superstition.
But Miss Haredale, though she would know it to be so, would be
disturbed by it if it reached her ears; it is too nearly connected
with a subject very painful to us all, to be heard with
indifference. You were most prudent, and have laid me under a
great obligation. I thank you very much.'
This was equal to John's most sanguine expectations; but he would
have preferred Mr Haredale's looking at him when he spoke, as if he
really did thank him, to his walking up and down, speaking by fits
and starts, often stopping with his eyes fixed on the ground,
moving hurriedly on again, like one distracted, and seeming almost
unconscious of what he said or did.
This, however, was his manner; and it was so embarrassing to John
that he sat quite passive for a long time, not knowing what to
do. At length he rose. Mr Haredale stared at him for a moment as
though he had quite forgotten his being present, then shook hands
with him, and opened the door. Hugh, who was, or feigned to be,
fast asleep on the ante-chamber floor, sprang up on their entrance,
and throwing his cloak about him, grasped his stick and lantern,
and prepared to descend the stairs.
'Stay,' said Mr Haredale. 'Will this man drink?'
'Drink! He'd drink the Thames up, if it was strong enough, sir,
replied John Willet. 'He'll have something when he gets home.
He's better without it, now, sir.'
'Nay. Half the distance is done,' said Hugh. 'What a hard master
you are! I shall go home the better for one glassful, halfway.
As John made no reply, Mr Haredale brought out a glass of liquor,
and gave it to Hugh, who, as he took it in his hand, threw part of
it upon the floor.
'What do you mean by splashing your drink about a gentleman's
house, sir?' said John.
'I'm drinking a toast,' Hugh rejoined, holding the glass above his
head, and fixing his eyes on Mr Haredale's face; 'a toast to this
house and its master.' With that he muttered something to himself,
and drank the rest, and setting down the glass, preceded them
without another word.
John was a good deal scandalised by this observance, but seeing
that Mr Haredale took little heed of what Hugh said or did, and
that his thoughts were otherwise employed, he offered no apology,
and went in silence down the stairs, across the walk, and through
the garden-gate. They stopped upon the outer side for Hugh to hold
the light while Mr Haredale locked it on the inner; and then John
saw with wonder (as he often afterwards related), that he was very
pale, and that his face had changed so much and grown so haggard
since their entrance, that he almost seemed another man.
They were in the open road again, and John Willet was walking on
behind his escort, as he had come, thinking very steadily of what
be had just now seen, when Hugh drew him suddenly aside, and almost
at the same instant three horsemen swept past--the nearest brushed
his shoulder even then--who, checking their steeds as suddenly as
they could, stood still, and waited for their coming up.
When John Willet saw that the horsemen wheeled smartly round, and
drew up three abreast in the narrow road, waiting for him and his
man to join them, it occurred to him with unusual precipitation
that they must be highwaymen; and had Hugh been armed with a
blunderbuss, in place of his stout cudgel, he would certainly have
ordered him to fire it off at a venture, and would, while the word
of command was obeyed, have consulted his own personal safety in
immediate flight. Under the circumstances of disadvantage,
however, in which he and his guard were placed, he deemed it
prudent to adopt a different style of generalship, and therefore
whispered his attendant to address them in the most peaceable and
courteous terms. By way of acting up to the spirit and letter of
this instruction, Hugh stepped forward, and flourishing his staff
before the very eyes of the rider nearest to him, demanded roughly
what he and his fellows meant by so nearly galloping over them, and
why they scoured the king's highway at that late hour of night.
The man whom be addressed was beginning an angry reply in the same
strain, when be was checked by the horseman in the centre, who,
interposing with an air of authority, inquired in a somewhat loud
but not harsh or unpleasant voice:
'Pray, is this the London road?'
'If you follow it right, it is,' replied Hugh roughly.
'Nay, brother,' said the same person, 'you're but a churlish
Englishman, if Englishman you be--which I should much doubt but for
your tongue. Your companion, I am sure, will answer me more
civilly. How say you, friend?'
'I say it IS the London road, sir,' answered John. 'And I wish,'
he added in a subdued voice, as he turned to Hugh, 'that you was in
any other road, you vagabond. Are you tired of your life, sir,
that you go a-trying to provoke three great neck-or-nothing chaps,
that could keep on running over us, back'ards and for'ards, till we
was dead, and then take our bodies up behind 'em, and drown us ten
'How far is it to London?' inquired the same speaker.
'Why, from here, sir,' answered John, persuasively, 'it's thirteen
very easy mile.'
The adjective was thrown in, as an inducement to the travellers to
ride away with all speed; but instead of having the desired effect,
it elicited from the same person, the remark, 'Thirteen miles!
That's a long distance!' which was followed by a short pause of
'Pray,' said the gentleman, 'are there any inns hereabouts?' At
the word 'inns,' John plucked up his spirit in a surprising manner;
his fears rolled off like smoke; all the landlord stirred within
'There are no inns,' rejoined Mr Willet, with a strong emphasis on
the plural number; 'but there's a Inn--one Inn--the Maypole Inn.
That's a Inn indeed. You won't see the like of that Inn often.'
'You keep it, perhaps?' said the horseman, smiling.
'I do, sir,' replied John, greatly wondering how he had found this
'And how far is the Maypole from here?'
'About a mile'--John was going to add that it was the easiest mile
in all the world, when the third rider, who had hitherto kept a
little in the rear, suddenly interposed:
'And have you one excellent bed, landlord? Hem! A bed that you
can recommend--a bed that you are sure is well aired--a bed that
has been slept in by some perfectly respectable and unexceptionable
'We don't take in no tagrag and bobtail at our house, sir,'
answered John. 'And as to the bed itself--'
'Say, as to three beds,' interposed the gentleman who had spoken
before; 'for we shall want three if we stay, though my friend only
speaks of one.'
'No, no, my lord; you are too good, you are too kind; but your life
is of far too much importance to the nation in these portentous
times, to be placed upon a level with one so useless and so poor as
mine. A great cause, my lord, a mighty cause, depends on you. You
are its leader and its champion, its advanced guard and its van.
It is the cause of our altars and our homes, our country and our
faith. Let ME sleep on a chair--the carpet--anywhere. No one will
repine if I take cold or fever. Let John Grueby pass the night
beneath the open sky--no one will repine for HIM. But forty
thousand men of this our island in the wave (exclusive of women and
children) rivet their eyes and thoughts on Lord George Gordon; and
every day, from the rising up of the sun to the going down of the
same, pray for his health and vigour. My lord,' said the speaker,
rising in his stirrups, 'it is a glorious cause, and must not be
forgotten. My lord, it is a mighty cause, and must not be
endangered. My lord, it is a holy cause, and must not be
'It IS a holy cause,' exclaimed his lordship, lifting up his hat
with great solemnity. 'Amen.'
'John Grueby,' said the long-winded gentleman, in a tone of mild
reproof, 'his lordship said Amen.'
'I heard my lord, sir,' said the man, sitting like a statue on his
'And do not YOU say Amen, likewise?'
To which John Grueby made no reply at all, but sat looking straight
'You surprise me, Grueby,' said the gentleman. 'At a crisis like
the present, when Queen Elizabeth, that maiden monarch, weeps
within her tomb, and Bloody Mary, with a brow of gloom and shadow,
'Oh, sir,' cied the man, gruffly, 'where's the use of talking of
Bloody Mary, under such circumstances as the present, when my
lord's wet through, and tired with hard riding? Let's either go on
to London, sir, or put up at once; or that unfort'nate Bloody Mary
will have more to answer for--and she's done a deal more harm in
her grave than she ever did in her lifetime, I believe.'
By this time Mr Willet, who had never beard so many words spoken
together at one time, or delivered with such volubility and
emphasis as by the long-winded gentleman; and whose brain, being
wholly unable to sustain or compass them, had quite given itself up
for lost; recovered so far as to observe that there was ample
accommodation at the Maypole for all the party: good beds; neat
wines; excellent entertainment for man and beast; private rooms for
large and small parties; dinners dressed upon the shortest notice;
choice stabling, and a lock-up coach-house; and, in short, to run
over such recommendatory scraps of language as were painted up on
various portions of the building, and which in the course of some
forty years he had learnt to repeat with tolerable correctness. He
was considering whether it was at all possible to insert any novel
sentences to the same purpose, when the gentleman who had spoken
first, turning to him of the long wind, exclaimed, 'What say you,
Gashford? Shall we tarry at this house he speaks of, or press
forward? You shall decide.'
'I would submit, my lord, then,' returned the person he appealed
to, in a silky tone, 'that your health and spirits--so important,
under Providence, to our great cause, our pure and truthful cause'--
here his lordship pulled off his hat again, though it was raining
hard--'require refreshment and repose.'
'Go on before, landlord, and show the way,' said Lord George
Gordon; 'we will follow at a footpace.'
'If you'll give me leave, my lord,' said John Grueby, in a low
voice, 'I'll change my proper place, and ride before you. The
looks of the landlord's friend are not over honest, and it may be
as well to be cautious with him.'
'John Grueby is quite right,' interposed Mr Gashford, falling back
hastily. 'My lord, a life so precious as yours must not be put in
peril. Go forward, John, by all means. If you have any reason to
suspect the fellow, blow his brains out.'
John made no answer, but looking straight before him, as his custom
seemed to be when the secretary spoke, bade Hugh push on, and
followed close behind him. Then came his lordship, with Mr Willet
at his bridle rein; and, last of all, his lordship's secretary--for
that, it seemed, was Gashford's office.
Hugh strode briskly on, often looking back at the servant, whose
horse was close upon his heels, and glancing with a leer at his
bolster case of pistols, by which he seemed to set great store. He
was a square-built, strong-made, bull-necked fellow, of the true
English breed; and as Hugh measured him with his eye, he measured
Hugh, regarding him meanwhile with a look of bluff disdain. He was
much older than the Maypole man, being to all appearance five-and-
forty; but was one of those self-possessed, hard-headed,
imperturbable fellows, who, if they are ever beaten at fisticuffs,
or other kind of warfare, never know it, and go on coolly till they
'If I led you wrong now,' said Hugh, tauntingly, 'you'd--ha ha ha!--
you'd shoot me through the head, I suppose.'
John Grueby took no more notice of this remark than if he had been
deaf and Hugh dumb; but kept riding on quite comfortably, with his
eyes fixed on the horizon.
'Did you ever try a fall with a man when you were young, master?'
said Hugh. 'Can you make any play at single-stick?'
John Grueby looked at him sideways with the same contented air, but
deigned not a word in answer.
'--Like this?' said Hugh, giving his cudgel one of those skilful
flourishes, in which the rustic of that time delighted. 'Whoop!'
'--Or that,' returned John Grueby, beating down his guard with his
whip, and striking him on the head with its butt end. 'Yes, I
played a little once. You wear your hair too long; I should have
cracked your crown if it had been a little shorter.'
It was a pretty smart, loud-sounding rap, as it was, and evidently
astonished Hugh; who, for the moment, seemed disposed to drag his
new acquaintance from his saddle. But his face betokening neither
malice, triumph, rage, nor any lingering idea that he had given him
offence; his eyes gazing steadily in the old direction, and his
manner being as careless and composed as if he had merely brushed
away a fly; Hugh was so puzzled, and so disposed to look upon him
as a customer of almost supernatural toughness, that he merely
laughed, and cried 'Well done!' then, sheering off a little, led
the way in silence.
Before the lapse of many minutes the party halted at the Maypole
door. Lord George and his secretary quickly dismounting, gave
their horses to their servant, who, under the guidance of Hugh,
repaired to the stables. Right glad to escape from the inclemency
of the night, they followed Mr Willet into the common room, and
stood warming themselves and drying their clothes before the
cheerful fire, while he busied himself with such orders and
preparations as his guest's high quality required.
As he bustled in and out of the room, intent on these
arrangements, he had an opportunity of observing the two
travellers, of whom, as yet, he knew nothing but the voice. The
lord, the great personage who did the Maypole so much honour, was
about the middle height, of a slender make, and sallow complexion,
with an aquiline nose, and long hair of a reddish brown, combed
perfectly straight and smooth about his ears, and slightly
powdered, but without the faintest vestige of a curl. He was
attired, under his greatcoat, in a full suit of black, quite free
from any ornament, and of the most precise and sober cut. The
gravity of his dress, together with a certain lankness of cheek
and stiffness of deportment, added nearly ten years to his age,
but his figure was that of one not yet past thirty. As he stood
musing in the red glow of the fire, it was striking to observe his
very bright large eye, which betrayed a restlessness of thought and
purpose, singularly at variance with the studied composure and
sobriety of his mien, and with his quaint and sad apparel. It had
nothing harsh or cruel in its expression; neither had his face,
which was thin and mild, and wore an air of melancholy; but it was
suggestive of an indefinable uneasiness; which infected those who
looked upon him, and filled them with a kind of pity for the man:
though why it did so, they would have had some trouble to explain.
Gashford, the secretary, was taller, angularly made, high-
shouldered, bony, and ungraceful. His dress, in imitation of his
superior, was demure and staid in the extreme; his manner, formal
and constrained. This gentleman had an overhanging brow, great
hands and feet and ears, and a pair of eyes that seemed to have
made an unnatural retreat into his head, and to have dug themselves
a cave to hide in. His manner was smooth and humble, but very sly
and slinking. He wore the aspect of a man who was always lying in
wait for something that WOULDN'T come to pass; but he looked
patient--very patient--and fawned like a spaniel dog. Even now,
while he warmed and rubbed his hands before the blaze, he had the
air of one who only presumed to enjoy it in his degree as a
commoner; and though he knew his lord was not regarding him, he
looked into his face from time to time, and with a meek and
deferential manner, smiled as if for practice.
Such were the guests whom old John Willet, with a fixed and leaden
eye, surveyed a hundred times, and to whom he now advanced with a
state candlestick in each hand, beseeching them to follow him into
a worthier chamber. 'For my lord,' said John--it is odd enough,
but certain people seem to have as great a pleasure in pronouncing
titles as their owners have in wearing them--'this room, my lord,
isn't at all the sort of place for your lordship, and I have to
beg your lordship's pardon for keeping you here, my lord, one
With this address, John ushered them upstairs into the state
apartment, which, like many other things of state, was cold and
comfortless. Their own footsteps, reverberating through the
spacious room, struck upon their hearing with a hollow sound; and
its damp and chilly atmosphere was rendered doubly cheerless by
contrast with the homely warmth they had deserted.
It was of no use, however, to propose a return to the place they
had quitted, for the preparations went on so briskly that there was
no time to stop them. John, with the tall candlesticks in his
hands, bowed them up to the fireplace; Hugh, striding in with a
lighted brand and pile of firewood, cast it down upon the hearth,
and set it in a blaze; John Grueby (who had a great blue cockade in
his hat, which he appeared to despise mightily) brought in the
portmanteau he had carried on his horse, and placed it on the
floor; and presently all three were busily engaged in drawing out
the screen, laying the cloth, inspecting the beds, lighting fires
in the bedrooms, expediting the supper, and making everything as
cosy and as snug as might be, on so short a notice. In less than
an hour's time, supper had been served, and ate, and cleared away;
and Lord George and his secretary, with slippered feet, and legs
stretched out before the fire, sat over some hot mulled wine
'So ends, my lord,' said Gashford, filling his glass with great
complacency, 'the blessed work of a most blessed day.'
'And of a blessed yesterday,' said his lordship, raising his head.
'Ah!'--and here the secretary clasped his hands--'a blessed
yesterday indeed! The Protestants of Suffolk are godly men and
true. Though others of our countrymen have lost their way in
darkness, even as we, my lord, did lose our road to-night, theirs
is the light and glory.'
'Did I move them, Gashford ?' said Lord George.
'Move them, my lord! Move them! They cried to be led on against
the Papists, they vowed a dreadful vengeance on their heads, they
roared like men possessed--'
'But not by devils,' said his lord.
'By devils! my lord! By angels.'
'Yes--oh surely--by angels, no doubt,' said Lord George, thrusting
his hands into his pockets, taking them out again to bite his
nails, and looking uncomfortably at the fire. 'Of course by
'You do not doubt it, my lord?' said the secretary.
'No--No,' returned his lord. 'No. Why should I? I suppose it
would be decidedly irreligious to doubt it--wouldn't it, Gashford?
Though there certainly were,' he added, without waiting for an
answer, 'some plaguy ill-looking characters among them.'
'When you warmed,' said the secretary, looking sharply at the
other's downcast eyes, which brightened slowly as he spoke; 'when
you warmed into that noble outbreak; when you told them that you
were never of the lukewarm or the timid tribe, and bade them take
heed that they were prepared to follow one who would lead them on,
though to the very death; when you spoke of a hundred and twenty
thousand men across the Scottish border who would take their own
redress at any time, if it were not conceded; when you cried
"Perish the Pope and all his base adherents; the penal laws against
them shall never be repealed while Englishmen have hearts and
hands"--and waved your own and touched your sword; and when they
cried "No Popery!" and you cried "No; not even if we wade in
blood," and they threw up their hats and cried "Hurrah! not even if
we wade in blood; No Popery! Lord George! Down with the Papists--
Vengeance on their heads:" when this was said and done, and a word
from you, my lord, could raise or still the tumult--ah! then I felt
what greatness was indeed, and thought, When was there ever power
like this of Lord George Gordon's!'
'It's a great power. You're right. It is a great power!' he cried
with sparkling eyes. 'But--dear Gashford--did I really say all
'And how much more!' cried the secretary, looking upwards. 'Ah!
how much more!'
'And I told them what you say, about the one hundred and forty
thousand men in Scotland, did I!' he asked with evident delight.
'That was bold.'
'Our cause is boldness. Truth is always bold.'
'Certainly. So is religion. She's bold, Gashford?'
'The true religion is, my lord.'
'And that's ours,' he rejoined, moving uneasily in his seat, and
biting his nails as though he would pare them to the quick. 'There
can be no doubt of ours being the true one. You feel as certain of
that as I do, Gashford, don't you?'
'Does my lord ask ME,' whined Gashford, drawing his chair nearer
with an injured air, and laying his broad flat hand upon the table;
'ME,' he repeated, bending the dark hollows of his eyes upon him
with an unwholesome smile, 'who, stricken by the magic of his
eloquence in Scotland but a year ago, abjured the errors of the
Romish church, and clung to him as one whose timely hand had
plucked me from a pit?'
'True. No--No. I--I didn't mean it,' replied the other, shaking
him by the hand, rising from his seat, and pacing restlessly about
the room. 'It's a proud thing to lead the people, Gashford,' he
added as he made a sudden halt.
'By force of reason too,' returned the pliant secretary.
'Ay, to be sure. They may cough and jeer, and groan in Parliament,
and call me fool and madman, but which of them can raise this human
sea and make it swell and roar at pleasure? Not one.'
'Not one,' repeated Gashford.
'Which of them can say for his honesty, what I can say for mine;
which of them has refused a minister's bribe of one thousand
pounds a year, to resign his seat in favour of another? Not one.'
'Not one,' repeated Gashford again--taking the lion's share of the
mulled wine between whiles.
'And as we are honest, true, and in a sacred cause, Gashford,' said
Lord George with a heightened colour and in a louder voice, as he
laid his fevered hand upon his shoulder, 'and are the only men who
regard the mass of people out of doors, or are regarded by them, we
will uphold them to the last; and will raise a cry against these
un-English Papists which shall re-echo through the country, and
roll with a noise like thunder. I will be worthy of the motto on
my coat of arms, "Called and chosen and faithful."
'Called,' said the secretary, 'by Heaven.'
'Chosen by the people.'
'Faithful to both.'
'To the block!'
It would be difficult to convey an adequate idea of the excited
manner in which he gave these answers to the secretary's
promptings; of the rapidity of his utterance, or the violence of
his tone and gesture; in which, struggling through his Puritan's
demeanour, was something wild and ungovernable which broke through
all restraint. For some minutes he walked rapidly up and down the
room, then stopping suddenly, exclaimed,
'Gashford--YOU moved them yesterday too. Oh yes! You did.'
'I shone with a reflected light, my lord,' replied the humble
secretary, laying his hand upon his heart. 'I did my best.'
'You did well,' said his master, 'and are a great and worthy
instrument. If you will ring for John Grueby to carry the
portmanteau into my room, and will wait here while I undress, we
will dispose of business as usual, if you're not too tired.'
'Too tired, my lord!--But this is his consideration! Christian
from head to foot.' With which soliloquy, the secretary tilted the
jug, and looked very hard into the mulled wine, to see how much
John Willet and John Grueby appeared together. The one bearing the
great candlesticks, and the other the portmanteau, showed the
deluded lord into his chamber; and left the secretary alone, to
yawn and shake himself, and finally to fall asleep before the fire.
'Now, Mr Gashford sir,' said John Grueby in his ear, after what
appeared to him a moment of unconsciousness; 'my lord's abed.'
'Oh. Very good, John,' was his mild reply. 'Thank you, John.
Nobody need sit up. I know my room.'
'I hope you're not a-going to trouble your head to-night, or my
lord's head neither, with anything more about Bloody Mary,' said
John. 'I wish the blessed old creetur had never been born.'
'I said you might go to bed, John,' returned the secretary. 'You
didn't hear me, I think.'
'Between Bloody Marys, and blue cockades, and glorious Queen
Besses, and no Poperys, and Protestant associations, and making of
speeches,' pursued John Grueby, looking, as usual, a long way off,
and taking no notice of this hint, 'my lord's half off his head.
When we go out o' doors, such a set of ragamuffins comes a-
shouting after us, "Gordon forever!" that I'm ashamed of myself
and don't know where to look. When we're indoors, they come a-
roaring and screaming about the house like so many devils; and my
lord instead of ordering them to be drove away, goes out into the
balcony and demeans himself by making speeches to 'em, and calls
'em "Men of England," and "Fellow-countrymen," as if he was fond of
'em and thanked 'em for coming. I can't make it out, but they're
all mixed up somehow or another with that unfort'nate Bloody Mary,
and call her name out till they're hoarse. They're all Protestants
too--every man and boy among 'em: and Protestants are very fond of
spoons, I find, and silver-plate in general, whenever area-gates is
left open accidentally. I wish that was the worst of it, and that
no more harm might be to come; but if you don't stop these ugly
customers in time, Mr Gashford (and I know you; you're the man that
blows the fire), you'll find 'em grow a little bit too strong for
you. One of these evenings, when the weather gets warmer and
Protestants are thirsty, they'll be pulling London down,--and I
never heard that Bloody Mary went as far as THAT.'
Gashford had vanished long ago, and these remarks had been bestowed
on empty air. Not at all discomposed by the discovery, John Grueby
fixed his hat on, wrongside foremost that he might be unconscious
of the shadow of the obnoxious cockade, and withdrew to bed;
shaking his head in a very gloomy and prophetic manner until he
reached his chamber.
Gashford, with a smiling face, but still with looks of profound
deference and humility, betook himself towards his master's room,
smoothing his hair down as he went, and humming a psalm tune. As
he approached Lord George's door, he cleared his throat and hummed
There was a remarkable contrast between this man's occupation at
the moment, and the expression of his countenance, which was
singularly repulsive and malicious. His beetling brow almost
obscured his eyes; his lip was curled contemptuously; his very
shoulders seemed to sneer in stealthy whisperings with his great
'Hush!' he muttered softly, as he peeped in at the chamber-door.
'He seems to be asleep. Pray Heaven he is! Too much watching, too
much care, too much thought--ah! Lord preserve him for a martyr!
He is a saint, if ever saint drew breath on this bad earth.'
Placing his light upon a table, he walked on tiptoe to the fire,
and sitting in a chair before it with his back towards the bed,
went on communing with himself like one who thought aloud:
'The saviour of his country and his country's religion, the friend
of his poor countrymen, the enemy of the proud and harsh; beloved
of the rejected and oppressed, adored by forty thousand bold and
loyal English hearts--what happy slumbers his should be!' And here
he sighed, and warmed his hands, and shook his head as men do when
their hearts are full, and heaved another sigh, and warmed his
'Why, Gashford?' said Lord George, who was lying broad awake, upon
his side, and had been staring at him from his entrance.
'My--my lord,' said Gashford, starting and looking round as though
in great surprise. 'I have disturbed you!'
'I have not been sleeping.'
'Not sleeping!' he repeated, with assumed confusion. 'What can I
say for having in your presence given utterance to thoughts--but
they were sincere--they were sincere!' exclaimed the secretary,
drawing his sleeve in a hasty way across his eyes; 'and why should
I regret your having heard them?'
'Gashford,' said the poor lord, stretching out his hand with
manifest emotion. 'Do not regret it. You love me well, I know--
too well. I don't deserve such homage.'
Gashford made no reply, but grasped the hand and pressed it to his
lips. Then rising, and taking from the trunk a little desk, he
placed it on a table near the fire, unlocked it with a key he
carried in his pocket, sat down before it, took out a pen, and,
before dipping it in the inkstand, sucked it--to compose the
fashion of his mouth perhaps, on which a smile was hovering yet.
'How do our numbers stand since last enrolling-night?' inquired
Lord George. 'Are we really forty thousand strong, or do we still
speak in round numbers when we take the Association at that amount?'
'Our total now exceeds that number by a score and three,' Gashford
replied, casting his eyes upon his papers.
'Not VERY improving; but there is some manna in the wilderness, my
lord. Hem! On Friday night the widows' mites dropped in. "Forty
scavengers, three and fourpence. An aged pew-opener of St Martin's
parish, sixpence. A bell-ringer of the established church,
sixpence. A Protestant infant, newly born, one halfpenny. The
United Link Boys, three shillings--one bad. The anti-popish
prisoners in Newgate, five and fourpence. A friend in Bedlam,
half-a-crown. Dennis the hangman, one shilling."'
'That Dennis,' said his lordship, 'is an earnest man. I marked him
in the crowd in Welbeck Street, last Friday.'
'A good man,' rejoined the secretary, 'a staunch, sincere, and
truly zealous man.'
'He should be encouraged,' said Lord George. 'Make a note of
Dennis. I'll talk with him.'
Gashford obeyed, and went on reading from his list:
'"The Friends of Reason, half-a-guinea. The Friends of Liberty,
half-a-guinea. The Friends of Peace, half-a-guinea. The Friends
of Charity, half-a-guinea. The Friends of Mercy, half-a-guinea.
The Associated Rememberers of Bloody Mary, half-a-guinea. The
United Bulldogs, half-a-guinea."'
'The United Bulldogs,' said Lord George, biting his nails most
horribly, 'are a new society, are they not?'
'Formerly the 'Prentice Knights, my lord. The indentures of the
old members expiring by degrees, they changed their name, it seems,
though they still have 'prentices among them, as well as workmen.'
'What is their president's name?' inquired Lord George.
'President,' said Gashford, reading, 'Mr Simon Tappertit.'
'I remember him. The little man, who sometimes brings an elderly
sister to our meetings, and sometimes another female too, who is
conscientious, I have no doubt, but not well-favoured?'
'The very same, my lord.'
'Tappertit is an earnest man,' said Lord George, thoughtfully.
'One of the foremost among them all, my lord. He snuffs the battle
from afar, like the war-horse. He throws his hat up in the street
as if he were inspired, and makes most stirring speeches from the
shoulders of his friends.'
'Make a note of Tappertit,' said Lord George Gordon. 'We may
advance him to a place of trust.'
'That,' rejoined the secretary, doing as he was told, 'is all--
except Mrs Varden's box (fourteenth time of opening), seven
shillings and sixpence in silver and copper, and half-a-guinea in
gold; and Miggs (being the saving of a quarter's wages), one-and-
'Miggs,' said Lord George. 'Is that a man?'
'The name is entered on the list as a woman,' replied the
secretary. 'I think she is the tall spare female of whom you spoke
just now, my lord, as not being well-favoured, who sometimes comes
to hear the speeches--along with Tappertit and Mrs Varden.'
'Mrs Varden is the elderly lady then, is she?'
The secretary nodded, and rubbed the bridge of his nose with the
feather of his pen.
'She is a zealous sister,' said Lord George. 'Her collection goes
on prosperously, and is pursued with fervour. Has her husband
'A malignant,' returned the secretary, folding up his papers.
'Unworthy such a wife. He remains in outer darkness and steadily
'The consequences be upon his own head!--Gashford!'
'You don't think,' he turned restlessly in his bed as he spoke,
'these people will desert me, when the hour arrives? I have spoken
boldly for them, ventured much, suppressed nothing. They'll not
fall off, will they?'
'No fear of that, my lord,' said Gashford, with a meaning look,
which was rather the involuntary expression of his own thoughts
than intended as any confirmation of his words, for the other's
face was turned away. 'Be sure there is no fear of that.'
'Nor,' he said with a more restless motion than before, 'of their--
but they CAN sustain no harm from leaguing for this purpose. Right
is on our side, though Might may be against us. You feel as sure
of that as I--honestly, you do?'
The secretary was beginning with 'You do not doubt,' when the other
interrupted him, and impatiently rejoined:
'Doubt. No. Who says I doubt? If I doubted, should I cast away
relatives, friends, everything, for this unhappy country's sake;
this unhappy country,' he cried, springing up in bed, after
repeating the phrase 'unhappy country's sake' to himself, at least
a dozen times, 'forsaken of God and man, delivered over to a
dangerous confederacy of Popish powers; the prey of corruption,
idolatry, and despotism! Who says I doubt? Am I called, and
chosen, and faithful? Tell me. Am I, or am I not?'
'To God, the country, and yourself,' cried Gashford.
'I am. I will be. I say again, I will be: to the block. Who says
as much! Do you? Does any man alive?'
The secretary drooped his head with an expression of perfect
acquiescence in anything that had been said or might be; and Lord
George gradually sinking down upon his pillow, fell asleep.
Although there was something very ludicrous in his vehement manner,
taken in conjunction with his meagre aspect and ungraceful
presence, it would scarcely have provoked a smile in any man of
kindly feeling; or even if it had, he would have felt sorry and
almost angry with himself next moment, for yielding to the impulse.
This lord was sincere in his violence and in his wavering. A
nature prone to false enthusiasm, and the vanity of being a leader,
were the worst qualities apparent in his composition. All the rest
was weakness--sheer weakness; and it is the unhappy lot of
thoroughly weak men, that their very sympathies, affections,
confidences--all the qualities which in better constituted minds
are virtues--dwindle into foibles, or turn into downright vices.
Gashford, with many a sly look towards the bed, sat chuckling at
his master's folly, until his deep and heavy breathing warned him
that he might retire. Locking his desk, and replacing it within
the trunk (but not before he had taken from a secret lining two
printed handbills), he cautiously withdrew; looking back, as he
went, at the pale face of the slumbering man, above whose head the
dusty plumes that crowned the Maypole couch, waved drearily and
sadly as though it were a bier.
Stopping on the staircase to listen that all was quiet, and to take
off his shoes lest his footsteps should alarm any light sleeper who
might be near at hand, he descended to the ground floor, and thrust
one of his bills beneath the great door of the house. That done,
he crept softly back to his own chamber, and from the window let
another fall--carefully wrapt round a stone to save it from the
wind--into the yard below.
They were addressed on the back 'To every Protestant into whose
hands this shall come,' and bore within what follows:
'Men and Brethren. Whoever shall find this letter, will take it as
a warning to join, without delay, the friends of Lord George
Gordon. There are great events at hand; and the times are
dangerous and troubled. Read this carefully, keep it clean, and
drop it somewhere else. For King and Country. Union.'
'More seed, more seed,' said Gashford as he closed the window.
'When will the harvest come!'
To surround anything, however monstrous or ridiculous, with an air
of mystery, is to invest it with a secret charm, and power of
attraction which to the crowd is irresistible. False priests,
false prophets, false doctors, false patriots, false prodigies of
every kind, veiling their proceedings in mystery, have always
addressed themselves at an immense advantage to the popular
credulity, and have been, perhaps, more indebted to that resource
in gaining and keeping for a time the upper hand of Truth and
Common Sense, than to any half-dozen items in the whole catalogue
of imposture. Curiosity is, and has been from the creation of the
world, a master-passion. To awaken it, to gratify it by slight
degrees, and yet leave something always in suspense, is to
establish the surest hold that can be had, in wrong, on the
unthinking portion of mankind.
If a man had stood on London Bridge, calling till he was hoarse,
upon the passers-by, to join with Lord George Gordon, although for
an object which no man understood, and which in that very incident
had a charm of its own,--the probability is, that he might have
influenced a score of people in a month. If all zealous
Protestants had been publicly urged to join an association for the
avowed purpose of singing a hymn or two occasionally, and hearing
some indifferent speeches made, and ultimately of petitioning
Parliament not to pass an act for abolishing the penal laws against
Roman Catholic priests, the penalty of perpetual imprisonment
denounced against those who educated children in that persuasion,
and the disqualification of all members of the Romish church to
inherit real property in the United Kingdom by right of purchase or
descent,--matters so far removed from the business and bosoms of
the mass, might perhaps have called together a hundred people. But
when vague rumours got abroad, that in this Protestant association
a secret power was mustering against the government for undefined
and mighty purposes; when the air was filled with whispers of a
confederacy among the Popish powers to degrade and enslave England,
establish an inquisition in London, and turn the pens of Smithfield
market into stakes and cauldrons; when terrors and alarms which no
man understood were perpetually broached, both in and out of
Parliament, by one enthusiast who did not understand himself, and
bygone bugbears which had lain quietly in their graves for
centuries, were raised again to haunt the ignorant and credulous;
when all this was done, as it were, in the dark, and secret
invitations to join the Great Protestant Association in defence of
religion, life, and liberty, were dropped in the public ways,
thrust under the house-doors, tossed in at windows, and pressed
into the hands of those who trod the streets by night; when they
glared from every wall, and shone on every post and pillar, so that
stocks and stones appeared infected with the common fear, urging
all men to join together blindfold in resistance of they knew not
what, they knew not why;--then the mania spread indeed, and the
body, still increasing every day, grew forty thousand strong.
So said, at least, in this month of March, 1780, Lord George
Gordon, the Association's president. Whether it was the fact or
otherwise, few men knew or cared to ascertain. It had never made
any public demonstration; had scarcely ever been heard of, save
through him; had never been seen; and was supposed by many to be
the mere creature of his disordered brain. He was accustomed to
talk largely about numbers of men--stimulated, as it was inferred,
by certain successful disturbances, arising out of the same
subject, which had occurred in Scotland in the previous year; was
looked upon as a cracked-brained member of the lower house, who
attacked all parties and sided with none, and was very little
regarded. It was known that there was discontent abroad--there
always is; he had been accustomed to address the people by placard,
speech, and pamphlet, upon other questions; nothing had come, in
England, of his past exertions, and nothing was apprehended from
his present. Just as he has come upon the reader, he had come,
from time to time, upon the public, and been forgotten in a day; as
suddenly as he appears in these pages, after a blank of five long
years, did he and his proceedings begin to force themselves, about
this period, upon the notice of thousands of people, who had
mingled in active life during the whole interval, and who, without
being deaf or blind to passing events, had scarcely ever thought of
'My lord,' said Gashford in his ear, as he drew the curtains of his
bed betimes; 'my lord!'
'Yes--who's that? What is it?'
'The clock has struck nine,' returned the secretary, with meekly
folded hands. 'You have slept well? I hope you have slept well?
If my prayers are heard, you are refreshed indeed.'
'To say the truth, I have slept so soundly,' said Lord George,
rubbing his eyes and looking round the room, 'that I don't remember
quite--what place is this?'
'My lord!' cried Gashford, with a smile.
'Oh!' returned his superior. 'Yes. You're not a Jew then?'
'A Jew!' exclaimed the pious secretary, recoiling.
'I dreamed that we were Jews, Gashford. You and I--both of us--
Jews with long beards.'
'Heaven forbid, my lord! We might as well be Papists.'
'I suppose we might,' returned the other, very quickly. 'Eh? You
really think so, Gashford?'
'Surely I do,' the secretary cried, with looks of great surprise.
'Humph!' he muttered. 'Yes, that seems reasonable.'
'I hope my lord--' the secretary began.
'Hope!' he echoed, interrupting him. 'Why do you say, you hope?
There's no harm in thinking of such things.'
'Not in dreams,' returned the Secretary.
'In dreams! No, nor waking either.'
--'"Called, and chosen, and faithful,"' said Gashford, taking up
Lord George's watch which lay upon a chair, and seeming to read the
inscription on the seal, abstractedly.
It was the slightest action possible, not obtruded on his notice,
and apparently the result of a moment's absence of mind, not worth
remark. But as the words were uttered, Lord George, who had been
going on impetuously, stopped short, reddened, and was silent.
Apparently quite unconscious of this change in his demeanour, the
wily Secretary stepped a little apart, under pretence of pulling up
the window-blind, and returning when the other had had time to
'The holy cause goes bravely on, my lord. I was not idle, even
last night. I dropped two of the handbills before I went to bed,
and both are gone this morning. Nobody in the house has mentioned
the circumstance of finding them, though I have been downstairs
full half-an-hour. One or two recruits will be their first fruit,
I predict; and who shall say how many more, with Heaven's blessing
on your inspired exertions!'
'It was a famous device in the beginning,' replied Lord George; 'an
excellent device, and did good service in Scotland. It was quite
worthy of you. You remind me not to be a sluggard, Gashford, when
the vineyard is menaced with destruction, and may be trodden down
by Papist feet. Let the horses be saddled in half-an-hour. We
must be up and doing!'
He said this with a heightened colour, and in a tone of such
enthusiasm, that the secretary deemed all further prompting
needless, and withdrew.
--'Dreamed he was a Jew,' he said thoughtfully, as he closed the
bedroom door. 'He may come to that before he dies. It's like
enough. Well! After a time, and provided I lost nothing by it, I
don't see why that religion shouldn't suit me as well as any
other. There are rich men among the Jews; shaving is very
troublesome;--yes, it would suit me well enough. For the present,
though, we must be Christian to the core. Our prophetic motto will
suit all creeds in their turn, that's a comfort.' Reflecting on
this source of consolation, he reached the sitting-room, and rang
the bell for breakfast.
Lord George was quickly dressed (for his plain toilet was easily
made), and as he was no less frugal in his repasts than in his
Puritan attire, his share of the meal was soon dispatched. The
secretary, however, more devoted to the good things of this world,
or more intent on sustaining his strength and spirits for the sake
of the Protestant cause, ate and drank to the last minute, and
required indeed some three or four reminders from John Grueby,
before he could resolve to tear himself away from Mr Willet's
At length he came downstairs, wiping his greasy mouth, and having
paid John Willet's bill, climbed into his saddle. Lord George, who
had been walking up and down before the house talking to himself
with earnest gestures, mounted his horse; and returning old John
Willet's stately bow, as well as the parting salutation of a dozen
idlers whom the rumour of a live lord being about to leave the
Maypole had gathered round the porch, they rode away, with stout
John Grueby in the rear.
If Lord George Gordon had appeared in the eyes of Mr Willet,
overnight, a nobleman of somewhat quaint and odd exterior, the
impression was confirmed this morning, and increased a hundredfold.
Sitting bolt upright upon his bony steed, with his long, straight
hair, dangling about his face and fluttering in the wind; his limbs
all angular and rigid, his elbows stuck out on either side
ungracefully, and his whole frame jogged and shaken at every motion
of his horse's feet; a more grotesque or more ungainly figure can
hardly be conceived. In lieu of whip, he carried in his hand a
great gold-headed cane, as large as any footman carries in these
days, and his various modes of holding this unwieldy weapon--now
upright before his face like the sabre of a horse-soldier, now over
his shoulder like a musket, now between his finger and thumb, but
always in some uncouth and awkward fashion--contributed in no small
degree to the absurdity of his appearance. Stiff, lank, and
solemn, dressed in an unusual manner, and ostentatiously
exhibiting--whether by design or accident--all his peculiarities of
carriage, gesture, and conduct, all the qualities, natural and
artificial, in which he differed from other men; he might have
moved the sternest looker-on to laughter, and fully provoked the
smiles and whispered jests which greeted his departure from the
Quite unconscious, however, of the effect he produced, he trotted
on beside his secretary, talking to himself nearly all the way,
until they came within a mile or two of London, when now and then
some passenger went by who knew him by sight, and pointed him out
to some one else, and perhaps stood looking after him, or cried in
jest or earnest as it might be, 'Hurrah Geordie! No Popery!' At
which he would gravely pull off his hat, and bow. When they
reached the town and rode along the streets, these notices became
more frequent; some laughed, some hissed, some turned their heads
and smiled, some wondered who he was, some ran along the pavement
by his side and cheered. When this happened in a crush of carts
and chairs and coaches, he would make a dead stop, and pulling off
his hat, cry, 'Gentlemen, No Popery!' to which the gentlemen would
respond with lusty voices, and with three times three; and then, on
he would go again with a score or so of the raggedest, following at
his horse's heels, and shouting till their throats were parched.
The old ladies too--there were a great many old ladies in the
streets, and these all knew him. Some of them--not those of the
highest rank, but such as sold fruit from baskets and carried
burdens--clapped their shrivelled hands, and raised a weazen,
piping, shrill 'Hurrah, my lord.' Others waved their hands or
handkerchiefs, or shook their fans or parasols, or threw up windows
and called in haste to those within, to come and see. All these
marks of popular esteem, he received with profound gravity and
respect; bowing very low, and so frequently that his hat was more
off his head than on; and looking up at the houses as he passed
along, with the air of one who was making a public entry, and yet
was not puffed up or proud.
So they rode (to the deep and unspeakable disgust of John Grueby)
the whole length of Whitechapel, Leadenhall Street, and Cheapside,
and into St Paul's Churchyard. Arriving close to the cathedral, he
halted; spoke to Gashford; and looking upward at its lofty dome,
shook his head, as though he said, 'The Church in Danger!' Then to
be sure, the bystanders stretched their throats indeed; and he went
on again with mighty acclamations from the mob, and lower bows than
So along the Strand, up Swallow Street, into the Oxford Road, and
thence to his house in Welbeck Street, near Cavendish Square,
whither he was attended by a few dozen idlers; of whom he took
leave on the steps with this brief parting, 'Gentlemen, No Popery.
Good day. God bless you.' This being rather a shorter address
than they expected, was received with some displeasure, and cries
of 'A speech! a speech!' which might have been complied with, but
that John Grueby, making a mad charge upon them with all three
horses, on his way to the stables, caused them to disperse into the
adjoining fields, where they presently fell to pitch and toss,
chuck-farthing, odd or even, dog-fighting, and other Protestant
In the afternoon Lord George came forth again, dressed in a black
velvet coat, and trousers and waistcoat of the Gordon plaid, all of
the same Quaker cut; and in this costume, which made him look a
dozen times more strange and singular than before, went down on
foot to Westminster. Gashford, meanwhile, bestirred himself in
business matters; with which he was still engaged when, shortly
after dusk, John Grueby entered and announced a visitor.
'Let him come in,' said Gashford.
'Here! come in!' growled John to somebody without; 'You're a
Protestant, an't you?'
'I should think so,' replied a deep, gruff voice.
'You've the looks of it,' said John Grueby. 'I'd have known you
for one, anywhere.' With which remark he gave the visitor
admission, retired, and shut the door.
The man who now confronted Gashford, was a squat, thickset
personage, with a low, retreating forehead, a coarse shock head of
hair, and eyes so small and near together, that his broken nose
alone seemed to prevent their meeting and fusing into one of the
usual size. A dingy handkerchief twisted like a cord about his
neck, left its great veins exposed to view, and they were swollen
and starting, as though with gulping down strong passions, malice,
and ill-will. His dress was of threadbare velveteen--a faded,
rusty, whitened black, like the ashes of a pipe or a coal fire
after a day's extinction; discoloured with the soils of many a
stale debauch, and reeking yet with pot-house odours. In lieu of
buckles at his knees, he wore unequal loops of packthread; and in
his grimy hands he held a knotted stick, the knob of which was
carved into a rough likeness of his own vile face. Such was the
visitor who doffed his three-cornered hat in Gashford's presence,
and waited, leering, for his notice.
'Ah! Dennis!' cried the secretary. 'Sit down.'
'I see my lord down yonder--' cried the man, with a jerk of his
thumb towards the quarter that he spoke of, 'and he says to me,
says my lord, "If you've nothing to do, Dennis, go up to my house
and talk with Muster Gashford." Of course I'd nothing to do, you
know. These an't my working hours. Ha ha! I was a-taking the air
when I see my lord, that's what I was doing. I takes the air by
night, as the howls does, Muster Gashford.'
And sometimes in the day-time, eh?' said the secretary--'when you
go out in state, you know.'
'Ha ha!' roared the fellow, smiting his leg; 'for a gentleman as
'ull say a pleasant thing in a pleasant way, give me Muster
Gashford agin' all London and Westminster! My lord an't a bad 'un
at that, but he's a fool to you. Ah to be sure,--when I go out in
'And have your carriage,' said the secretary; 'and your chaplain,
eh? and all the rest of it?'
'You'll be the death of me,' cried Dennis, with another roar, 'you
will. But what's in the wind now, Muster Gashford,' he asked
hoarsely, 'Eh? Are we to be under orders to pull down one of them
Popish chapels--or what?'
'Hush!' said the secretary, suffering the faintest smile to play
upon his face. 'Hush! God bless me, Dennis! We associate, you
know, for strictly peaceable and lawful purposes.'
'I know, bless you,' returned the man, thrusting his tongue into
his cheek; 'I entered a' purpose, didn't I!'
'No doubt,' said Gashford, smiling as before. And when he said so,
Dennis roared again, and smote his leg still harder, and falling
into fits of laughter, wiped his eyes with the corner of his
neckerchief, and cried, 'Muster Gashford agin' all England hollow!'
'Lord George and I were talking of you last night,' said Gashford,
after a pause. 'He says you are a very earnest fellow.'
'So I am,' returned the hangman.
'And that you truly hate the Papists.'
'So I do,' and he confirmed it with a good round oath. 'Lookye
here, Muster Gashford,' said the fellow, laying his hat and stick
upon the floor, and slowly beating the palm of one hand with the
fingers of the other; 'Ob-serve. I'm a constitutional officer that
works for my living, and does my work creditable. Do I, or do I
'Very good. Stop a minute. My work, is sound, Protestant,
constitutional, English work. Is it, or is it not?'
'No man alive can doubt it.'
'Nor dead neither. Parliament says this here--says Parliament, "If
any man, woman, or child, does anything which goes again a certain
number of our acts"--how many hanging laws may there be at this
present time, Muster Gashford? Fifty?'
'I don't exactly know how many,' replied Gashford, leaning back in
his chair and yawning; 'a great number though.'
'Well, say fifty. Parliament says, "If any man, woman, or child,
does anything again any one of them fifty acts, that man, woman, or
child, shall be worked off by Dennis." George the Third steps in
when they number very strong at the end of a sessions, and says,
"These are too many for Dennis. I'll have half for myself and
Dennis shall have half for himself;" and sometimes he throws me in
one over that I don't expect, as he did three year ago, when I got
Mary Jones, a young woman of nineteen who come up to Tyburn with a
infant at her breast, and was worked off for taking a piece of
cloth off the counter of a shop in Ludgate Hill, and putting it
down again when the shopman see her; and who had never done any
harm before, and only tried to do that, in consequence of her
husband having been pressed three weeks previous, and she being
left to beg, with two young children--as was proved upon the trial.
Ha ha!--Well! That being the law and the practice of England, is
the glory of England, an't it, Muster Gashford?'
'Certainly,' said the secretary.
'And in times to come,' pursued the hangman, 'if our grandsons
should think of their grandfathers' times, and find these things
altered, they'll say, "Those were days indeed, and we've been going
down hill ever since." Won't they, Muster Gashford?'
'I have no doubt they will,' said the secretary.
'Well then, look here,' said the hangman. 'If these Papists gets
into power, and begins to boil and roast instead of hang, what
becomes of my work! If they touch my work that's a part of so many
laws, what becomes of the laws in general, what becomes of the
religion, what becomes of the country!--Did you ever go to church,
'Ever!' repeated the secretary with some indignation; 'of course.'
'Well,' said the ruffian, 'I've been once--twice, counting the time
I was christened--and when I heard the Parliament prayed for, and
thought how many new hanging laws they made every sessions, I
considered that I was prayed for. Now mind, Muster Gashford,' said
the fellow, taking up his stick and shaking it with a ferocious
air, 'I mustn't have my Protestant work touched, nor this here
Protestant state of things altered in no degree, if I can help it;
I mustn't have no Papists interfering with me, unless they come to
be worked off in course of law; I mustn't have no biling, no
roasting, no frying--nothing but hanging. My lord may well call
me an earnest fellow. In support of the great Protestant principle
of having plenty of that, I'll,' and here he beat his club upon the
ground, 'burn, fight, kill--do anything you bid me, so that it's
bold and devilish--though the end of it was, that I got hung
myself.--There, Muster Gashford!'
He appropriately followed up this frequent prostitution of a noble
word to the vilest purposes, by pouring out in a kind of ecstasy at
least a score of most tremendous oaths; then wiped his heated face
upon his neckerchief, and cried, 'No Popery! I'm a religious man,
Gashford had leant back in his chair, regarding him with eyes so
sunken, and so shadowed by his heavy brows, that for aught the
hangman saw of them, he might have been stone blind. He remained
smiling in silence for a short time longer, and then said, slowly
'You are indeed an earnest fellow, Dennis--a most valuable fellow--
the staunchest man I know of in our ranks. But you must calm
yourself; you must be peaceful, lawful, mild as any lamb. I am
sure you will be though.'
'Ay, ay, we shall see, Muster Gashford, we shall see. You won't
have to complain of me,' returned the other, shaking his head.
'I am sure I shall not,' said the secretary in the same mild tone,
and with the same emphasis. 'We shall have, we think, about next
month, or May, when this Papist relief bill comes before the house,
to convene our whole body for the first time. My lord has thoughts
of our walking in procession through the streets--just as an
innocent display of strength--and accompanying our petition down to
the door of the House of Commons.'
'The sooner the better,' said Dennis, with another oath.
'We shall have to draw up in divisions, our numbers being so large;
and, I believe I may venture to say,' resumed Gashford, affecting
not to hear the interruption, 'though I have no direct instructions
to that effect--that Lord George has thought of you as an excellent
leader for one of these parties. I have no doubt you would be an
'Try me,' said the fellow, with an ugly wink.
'You would be cool, I know,' pursued the secretary, still smiling,
and still managing his eyes so that he could watch him closely, and
really not be seen in turn, 'obedient to orders, and perfectly
temperate. You would lead your party into no danger, I am certain.'
'I'd lead them, Muster Gashford,'--the hangman was beginning in a
reckless way, when Gashford started forward, laid his finger on his
lips, and feigned to write, just as the door was opened by John
'Oh!' said John, looking in; 'here's another Protestant.'
'Some other room, John,' cried Gashford in his blandest voice. 'I
am engaged just now.'
But John had brought this new visitor to the door, and he walked in
unbidden, as the words were uttered; giving to view the form and
features, rough attire, and reckless air, of Hugh.
The secretary put his hand before his eyes to shade them from the
glare of the lamp, and for some moments looked at Hugh with a
frowning brow, as if he remembered to have seen him lately, but
could not call to mind where, or on what occasion. His uncertainty
was very brief, for before Hugh had spoken a word, he said, as his
countenance cleared up:
'Ay, ay, I recollect. It's quite right, John, you needn't wait.
Don't go, Dennis.'
'Your servant, master,' said Hugh, as Grueby disappeared.
'Yours, friend,' returned the secretary in his smoothest manner.
'What brings YOU here? We left nothing behind us, I hope?'
Hugh gave a short laugh, and thrusting his hand into his breast,
produced one of the handbills, soiled and dirty from lying out of
doors all night, which he laid upon the secretary's desk after
flattening it upon his knee, and smoothing out the wrinkles with
his heavy palm.
'Nothing but that, master. It fell into good hands, you see.'
'What is this!' said Gashford, turning it over with an air of
perfectly natural surprise. 'Where did you get it from, my good
fellow; what does it mean? I don't understand this at all.'
A little disconcerted by this reception, Hugh looked from the
secretary to Dennis, who had risen and was standing at the table
too, observing the stranger by stealth, and seeming to derive the
utmost satisfaction from his manners and appearance. Considering
himself silently appealed to by this action, Mr Dennis shook his
head thrice, as if to say of Gashford, 'No. He don't know anything
at all about it. I know he don't. I'll take my oath he don't;'
and hiding his profile from Hugh with one long end of his frowzy
neckerchief, nodded and chuckled behind this screen in extreme
approval of the secretary's proceedings.
'It tells the man that finds it, to come here, don't it?' asked
Hugh. 'I'm no scholar, myself, but I showed it to a friend, and he
said it did.'
'It certainly does,' said Gashford, opening his eyes to their
utmost width; 'really this is the most remarkable circumstance I
have ever known. How did you come by this piece of paper, my good
'Muster Gashford,' wheezed the hangman under his breath, 'agin' all
Whether Hugh heard him, or saw by his manner that he was being
played upon, or perceived the secretary's drift of himself, he came
in his blunt way to the point at once.
'Here!' he said, stretching out his hand and taking it back; 'never
mind the bill, or what it says, or what it don't say. You don't
know anything about it, master,--no more do I,--no more does he,'
glancing at Dennis. 'None of us know what it means, or where it
comes from: there's an end of that. Now I want to make one against
the Catholics, I'm a No-Popery man, and ready to be sworn in.
That's what I've come here for.'
'Put him down on the roll, Muster Gashford,' said Dennis
approvingly. 'That's the way to go to work--right to the end at
once, and no palaver.'
'What's the use of shooting wide of the mark, eh, old boy!' cried
'My sentiments all over!' rejoined the hangman. 'This is the sort
of chap for my division, Muster Gashford. Down with him, sir. Put
him on the roll. I'd stand godfather to him, if he was to be
christened in a bonfire, made of the ruins of the Bank of England.'
With these and other expressions of confidence of the like
flattering kind, Mr Dennis gave him a hearty slap on the back,
which Hugh was not slow to return.
'No Popery, brother!' cried the hangman.
'No Property, brother!' responded Hugh.
'Popery, Popery,' said the secretary with his usual mildness.
'It's all the same!' cried Dennis. 'It's all right. Down with
him, Muster Gashford. Down with everybody, down with everything!
Hurrah for the Protestant religion! That's the time of day,
The secretary regarded them both with a very favourable expression
of countenance, while they gave loose to these and other
demonstrations of their patriotic purpose; and was about to make
some remark aloud, when Dennis, stepping up to him, and shading his
mouth with his hand, said, in a hoarse whisper, as he nudged him
with his elbow:
'Don't split upon a constitutional officer's profession, Muster
Gashford. There are popular prejudices, you know, and he mightn't
like it. Wait till he comes to be more intimate with me. He's a
fine-built chap, an't he?'
'A powerful fellow indeed!'
'Did you ever, Muster Gashford,' whispered Dennis, with a horrible
kind of admiration, such as that with which a cannibal might regard
his intimate friend, when hungry,--'did you ever--and here he drew
still closer to his ear, and fenced his mouth with both his open
bands--'see such a throat as his? Do but cast your eye upon it.
There's a neck for stretching, Muster Gashford!'
The secretary assented to this proposition with the best grace he
could assume--it is difficult to feign a true professional relish:
which is eccentric sometimes--and after asking the candidate a few
unimportant questions, proceeded to enrol him a member of the Great
Protestant Association of England. If anything could have exceeded
Mr Dennis's joy on the happy conclusion of this ceremony, it would
have been the rapture with which he received the announcement that
the new member could neither read nor write: those two arts being
(as Mr Dennis swore) the greatest possible curse a civilised
community could know, and militating more against the professional
emoluments and usefulness of the great constitutional office he had
the honour to hold, than any adverse circumstances that could
present themselves to his imagination.
The enrolment being completed, and Hugh having been informed by
Gashford, in his peculiar manner, of the peaceful and strictly
lawful objects contemplated by the body to which he now belonged--
during which recital Mr Dennis nudged him very much with his elbow,
and made divers remarkable faces--the secretary gave them both to
understand that he desired to be alone. Therefore they took their
leaves without delay, and came out of the house together.
'Are you walking, brother?' said Dennis.
'Ay!' returned Hugh. 'Where you will.'
'That's social,' said his new friend. 'Which way shall we take?
Shall we go and have a look at doors that we shall make a pretty
good clattering at, before long--eh, brother?'
Hugh answering in the affirmative, they went slowly down to
Westminster, where both houses of Parliament were then sitting.
Mingling in the crowd of carriages, horses, servants, chairmen,
link-boys, porters, and idlers of all kinds, they lounged about;
while Hugh's new friend pointed out to him significantly the weak
parts of the building, how easy it was to get into the lobby, and
so to the very door of the House of Commons; and how plainly, when
they marched down there in grand array, their roars and shouts
would be heard by the members inside; with a great deal more to the
same purpose, all of which Hugh received with manifest delight.
He told him, too, who some of the Lords and Commons were, by name,
as they came in and out; whether they were friendly to the Papists
or otherwise; and bade him take notice of their liveries and
equipages, that he might be sure of them, in case of need.
Sometimes he drew him close to the windows of a passing carriage,
that he might see its master's face by the light of the lamps; and,
both in respect of people and localities, he showed so much
acquaintance with everything around, that it was plain he had often
studied there before; as indeed, when they grew a little more
confidential, he confessed he had.
Perhaps the most striking part of all this was, the number of
people--never in groups of more than two or three together--who
seemed to be skulking about the crowd for the same purpose. To the
greater part of these, a slight nod or a look from Hugh's companion
was sufficient greeting; but, now and then, some man would come and
stand beside him in the throng, and, without turning his head or
appearing to communicate with him, would say a word or two in a low
voice, which he would answer in the same cautious manner. Then
they would part, like strangers. Some of these men often
reappeared again unexpectedly in the crowd close to Hugh, and, as
they passed by, pressed his hand, or looked him sternly in the
face; but they never spoke to him, nor he to them; no, not a word.
It was remarkable, too, that whenever they happened to stand where
there was any press of people, and Hugh chanced to be looking
downward, he was sure to see an arm stretched out--under his own
perhaps, or perhaps across him--which thrust some paper into the
hand or pocket of a bystander, and was so suddenly withdrawn that
it was impossible to tell from whom it came; nor could he see in
any face, on glancing quickly round, the least confusion or
surprise. They often trod upon a paper like the one he carried in
his breast, but his companion whispered him not to touch it or to
take it up,--not even to look towards it,--so there they let them
lie, and passed on.
When they had paraded the street and all the avenues of the
building in this manner for near two hours, they turned away, and
his friend asked him what he thought of what he had seen, and
whether he was prepared for a good hot piece of work if it should
come to that. The hotter the better,' said Hugh, 'I'm prepared for
anything.'--'So am I,' said his friend, 'and so are many of us;
and they shook hands upon it with a great oath, and with many
terrible imprecations on the Papists.
As they were thirsty by this time, Dennis proposed that they should
repair together to The Boot, where there was good company and
strong liquor. Hugh yielding a ready assent, they bent their steps
that way with no loss of time.
This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment, situated in the
fields at the back of the Foundling Hospital; a very solitary spot
at that period, and quite deserted after dark. The tavern stood at
some distance from any high road, and was approachable only by a
dark and narrow lane; so that Hugh was much surprised to find
several people drinking there, and great merriment going on. He
was still more surprised to find among them almost every face that
had caught his attention in the crowd; but his companion having
whispered him outside the door, that it was not considered good
manners at The Boot to appear at all curious about the company, he
kept his own counsel, and made no show of recognition.
Before putting his lips to the liquor which was brought for them,
Dennis drank in a loud voice the health of Lord George Gordon,
President of the Great Protestant Association; which toast Hugh
pledged likewise, with corresponding enthusiasm. A fiddler who was
present, and who appeared to act as the appointed minstrel of the
company, forthwith struck up a Scotch reel; and that in tones so
invigorating, that Hugh and his friend (who had both been drinking
before) rose from their seats as by previous concert, and, to the
great admiration of the assembled guests, performed an
extemporaneous No-Popery Dance.
The applause which the performance of Hugh and his new friend
elicited from the company at The Boot, had not yet subsided, and
the two dancers were still panting from their exertions, which had
been of a rather extreme and violent character, when the party was
reinforced by the arrival of some more guests, who, being a
detachment of United Bulldogs, were received with very flattering
marks of distinction and respect.
The leader of this small party--for, including himself, they were
but three in number--was our old acquaintance, Mr Tappertit, who
seemed, physically speaking, to have grown smaller with years
(particularly as to his legs, which were stupendously little), but
who, in a moral point of view, in personal dignity and self-esteem,
had swelled into a giant. Nor was it by any means difficult for
the most unobservant person to detect this state of feeling in the
quondam 'prentice, for it not only proclaimed itself impressively
and beyond mistake in his majestic walk and kindling eye, but found
a striking means of revelation in his turned-up nose, which scouted
all things of earth with deep disdain, and sought communion with
its kindred skies.
Mr Tappertit, as chief or captain of the Bulldogs, was attended by
his two lieutenants; one, the tall comrade of his younger life; the
other, a 'Prentice Knight in days of yore--Mark Gilbert, bound in
the olden time to Thomas Curzon of the Golden Fleece. These
gentlemen, like himself, were now emancipated from their 'prentice
thraldom, and served as journeymen; but they were, in humble
emulation of his great example, bold and daring spirits, and
aspired to a distinguished state in great political events. Hence
their connection with the Protestant Association of England,
sanctioned by the name of Lord George Gordon; and hence their
present visit to The Boot.
'Gentlemen!' said Mr Tappertit, taking off his hat as a great
general might in addressing his troops. 'Well met. My lord does
me and you the honour to send his compliments per self.'
'You've seen my lord too, have you?' said Dennis. 'I see him this
'My duty called me to the Lobby when our shop shut up; and I saw
him there, sir,' Mr Tappertit replied, as he and his lieutenants
took their seats. 'How do YOU do?'
'Lively, master, lively,' said the fellow. 'Here's a new brother,
regularly put down in black and white by Muster Gashford; a credit
to the cause; one of the stick-at-nothing sort; one arter my own
heart. D'ye see him? Has he got the looks of a man that'll do, do
you think?' he cried, as he slapped Hugh on the back.
'Looks or no looks,' said Hugh, with a drunken flourish of his arm,
'I'm the man you want. I hate the Papists, every one of 'em. They
hate me and I hate them. They do me all the harm they can, and
I'll do them all the harm I can. Hurrah!'
'Was there ever,' said Dennis, looking round the room, when the
echo of his boisterous voice bad died away; 'was there ever such a
game boy! Why, I mean to say, brothers, that if Muster Gashford
had gone a hundred mile and got together fifty men of the common
run, they wouldn't have been worth this one.'
The greater part of the company implicitly subscribed to this
opinion, and testified their faith in Hugh by nods and looks of
great significance. Mr Tappertit sat and contemplated him for a
long time in silence, as if he suspended his judgment; then drew a
little nearer to him, and eyed him over more carefully; then went
close up to him, and took him apart into a dark corner.
'I say,' he began, with a thoughtful brow, 'haven't I seen you
'It's like you may,' said Hugh, in his careless way. 'I don't
know; shouldn't wonder.'
'No, but it's very easily settled,' returned Sim. 'Look at me.
Did you ever see ME before? You wouldn't be likely to forget it,
you know, if you ever did. Look at me. Don't be afraid; I won't
do you any harm. Take a good look--steady now.'
The encouraging way in which Mr Tappertit made this request, and
coupled it with an assurance that he needn't be frightened, amused
Hugh mightily--so much indeed, that be saw nothing at all of the
small man before him, through closing his eyes in a fit of hearty
laughter, which shook his great broad sides until they ached again.
'Come!' said Mr Tappertit, growing a little impatient under this
disrespectful treatment. 'Do you know me, feller?'
'Not I,' cried Hugh. 'Ha ha ha! Not I! But I should like to.'
'And yet I'd have wagered a seven-shilling piece," said Mr
Tappertit, folding his arms, and confronting him with his legs wide
apart and firmly planted on the ground, 'that you once were hostler
at the Maypole.'
Hugh opened his eyes on hearing this, and looked at him in great
'--And so you were, too,' said Mr Tappertit, pushing him away with
a condescending playfulness. 'When did MY eyes ever deceive--
unless it was a young woman! Don't you know me now?'
'Why it an't--' Hugh faltered.
'An't it?' said Mr Tappertit. 'Are you sure of that? You remember
G. Varden, don't you?'
Certainly Hugh did, and he remembered D. Varden too; but that he
didn't tell him.
'You remember coming down there, before I was out of my time, to
ask after a vagabond that had bolted off, and left his disconsolate
father a prey to the bitterest emotions, and all the rest of it--
don't you?' said Mr Tappertit.
'Of course I do!' cried Hugh. 'And I saw you there.'
'Saw me there!' said Mr Tappertit. 'Yes, I should think you did
see me there. The place would be troubled to go on without me.
Don't you remember my thinking you liked the vagabond, and on that
account going to quarrel with you; and then finding you detested
him worse than poison, going to drink with you? Don't you remember
'To be sure!' cried Hugh.
'Well! and are you in the same mind now?' said Mr Tappertit.
'Yes!' roared Hugh.
'You speak like a man,' said Mr Tappertit, 'and I'll shake hands
with you.' With these conciliatory expressions he suited the
action to the word; and Hugh meeting his advances readily, they
performed the ceremony with a show of great heartiness.
'I find,' said Mr Tappertit, looking round on the assembled guests,
'that brother What's-his-name and I are old acquaintance.--You
never heard anything more of that rascal, I suppose, eh?'
'Not a syllable,' replied Hugh. 'I never want to. I don't believe
I ever shall. He's dead long ago, I hope.'
'It's to be hoped, for the sake of mankind in general and the
happiness of society, that he is,' said Mr Tappertit, rubbing his
palm upon his legs, and looking at it between whiles. 'Is your
other hand at all cleaner? Much the same. Well, I'll owe you
another shake. We'll suppose it done, if you've no objection.'
Hugh laughed again, and with such thorough abandonment to his mad
humour, that his limbs seemed dislocated, and his whole frame in
danger of tumbling to pieces; but Mr Tappertit, so far from
receiving this extreme merriment with any irritation, was pleased
to regard it with the utmost favour, and even to join in it, so far
as one of his gravity and station could, with any regard to that
decency and decorum which men in high places are expected to
Mr Tappertit did not stop here, as many public characters might
have done, but calling up his brace of lieutenants, introduced Hugh
to them with high commendation; declaring him to be a man who, at
such times as those in which they lived, could not be too much
cherished. Further, he did him the honour to remark, that he would
be an acquisition of which even the United Bulldogs might be proud;
and finding, upon sounding him, that he was quite ready and willing
to enter the society (for he was not at all particular, and would
have leagued himself that night with anything, or anybody, for any
purpose whatsoever), caused the necessary preliminaries to be gone
into upon the spot. This tribute to his great merit delighted no
man more than Mr Dennis, as he himself proclaimed with several rare
and surprising oaths; and indeed it gave unmingled satisfaction to
the whole assembly.
'Make anything you like of me!' cried Hugh, flourishing the can he
had emptied more than once. 'Put me on any duty you please. I'm
your man. I'll do it. Here's my captain--here's my leader. Ha ha
ha! Let him give me the word of command, and I'll fight the whole
Parliament House single-handed, or set a lighted torch to the
King's Throne itself!' With that, he smote Mr Tappertit on the
back, with such violence that his little body seemed to shrink into
a mere nothing; and roared again until the very foundlings near at
hand were startled in their beds.
In fact, a sense of something whimsical in their companionship
seemed to have taken entire possession of his rude brain. The bare
fact of being patronised by a great man whom he could have crushed
with one hand, appeared in his eyes so eccentric and humorous, that
a kind of ferocious merriment gained the mastery over him, and
quite subdued his brutal nature. He roared and roared again;
toasted Mr Tappertit a hundred times; declared himself a Bulldog to
the core; and vowed to be faithful to him to the last drop of blood
in his veins.
All these compliments Mr Tappertit received as matters of course--
flattering enough in their way, but entirely attributable to his
vast superiority. His dignified self-possession only delighted
Hugh the more; and in a word, this giant and dwarf struck up a
friendship which bade fair to be of long continuance, as the one
held it to be his right to command, and the other considered it an
exquisite pleasantry to obey. Nor was Hugh by any means a passive
follower, who scrupled to act without precise and definite orders;
for when Mr Tappertit mounted on an empty cask which stood by way
of rostrum in the room, and volunteered a speech upon the alarming
crisis then at hand, he placed himself beside the orator, and
though he grinned from ear to ear at every word he said, threw out
such expressive hints to scoffers in the management of his cudgel,
that those who were at first the most disposed to interrupt, became
remarkably attentive, and were the loudest in their approbation.
It was not all noise and jest, however, at The Boot, nor were the
whole party listeners to the speech. There were some men at the
other end of the room (which was a long, low-roofed chamber) in
earnest conversation all the time; and when any of this group went
out, fresh people were sure to come in soon afterwards and sit down
in their places, as though the others had relieved them on some
watch or duty; which it was pretty clear they did, for these
changes took place by the clock, at intervals of half an hour.
These persons whispered very much among themselves, and kept aloof,
and often looked round, as jealous of their speech being overheard;
some two or three among them entered in books what seemed to be
reports from the others; when they were not thus employed) one of
them would turn to the newspapers which were strewn upon the table,
and from the St James's Chronicle, the Herald, Chronicle, or
Public Advertiser, would read to the rest in a low voice some
passage having reference to the topic in which they were all so
deeply interested. But the great attraction was a pamphlet called
The Thunderer, which espoused their own opinions, and was supposed
at that time to emanate directly from the Association. This was
always in request; and whether read aloud, to an eager knot of
listeners, or by some solitary man, was certain to be followed by
stormy talking and excited looks.
In the midst of all his merriment, and admiration of his captain,
Hugh was made sensible by these and other tokens, of the presence
of an air of mystery, akin to that which had so much impressed him
out of doors. It was impossible to discard a sense that something
serious was going on, and that under the noisy revel of the public-
house, there lurked unseen and dangerous matter. Little affected
by this, however, he was perfectly satisfied with his quarters and
would have remained there till morning, but that his conductor rose
soon after midnight, to go home; Mr Tappertit following his
example, left him no excuse to stay. So they all three left the
house together: roaring a No-Popery song until the fields
resounded with the dismal noise.
Cheer up, captain!' cried Hugh, when they had roared themselves out
of breath. 'Another stave!'
Mr Tappertit, nothing loath, began again; and so the three went
staggering on, arm-in-arm, shouting like madmen, and defying the
watch with great valour. Indeed this did not require any unusual
bravery or boldness, as the watchmen of that time, being selected
for the office on account of excessive age and extraordinary
infirmity, had a custom of shutting themselves up tight in their
boxes on the first symptoms of disturbance, and remaining there
until they disappeared. In these proceedings, Mr Dennis, who had a
gruff voice and lungs of considerable power, distinguished himself
very much, and acquired great credit with his two companions.
'What a queer fellow you are!' said Mr Tappertit. 'You're so
precious sly and close. Why don't you ever tell what trade you're
'Answer the captain instantly,' cried Hugh, beating his hat down on
his head; 'why don't you ever tell what trade you're of?'
'I'm of as gen-teel a calling, brother, as any man in England--as
light a business as any gentleman could desire.'
'Was you 'prenticed to it?' asked Mr Tappertit.
'No. Natural genius,' said Mr Dennis. 'No 'prenticing. It come
by natur'. Muster Gashford knows my calling. Look at that hand of
mine--many and many a job that hand has done, with a neatness and
dex-terity, never known afore. When I look at that hand,' said Mr
Dennis, shaking it in the air, 'and remember the helegant bits of
work it has turned off, I feel quite molloncholy to think it should
ever grow old and feeble. But sich is life!'
He heaved a deep sigh as he indulged in these reflections, and
putting his fingers with an absent air on Hugh's throat, and
particularly under his left ear, as if he were studying the
anatomical development of that part of his frame, shook his head in
a despondent manner and actually shed tears.
'You're a kind of artist, I suppose--eh!' said Mr Tappertit.
'Yes,' rejoined Dennis; 'yes--I may call myself a artist--a fancy
workman--art improves natur'--that's my motto.'
'And what do you call this?' said Mr Tappertit taking his stick out
of his hand.
'That's my portrait atop,' Dennis replied; 'd'ye think it's like?'
'Why--it's a little too handsome,' said Mr Tappertit. 'Who did it?
'I!' repeated Dennis, gazing fondly on his image. 'I wish I had
the talent. That was carved by a friend of mine, as is now no
more. The very day afore he died, he cut that with his pocket-
knife from memory! "I'll die game," says my friend, "and my last
moments shall be dewoted to making Dennis's picter." That's it.'
'That was a queer fancy, wasn't it?' said Mr Tappertit.
'It WAS a queer fancy,' rejoined the other, breathing on his
fictitious nose, and polishing it with the cuff of his coat, 'but
he was a queer subject altogether--a kind of gipsy--one of the
finest, stand-up men, you ever see. Ah! He told me some things
that would startle you a bit, did that friend of mine, on the
morning when he died.'
'You were with him at the time, were you?' said Mr Tappertit.
'Yes,' he answered with a curious look, 'I was there. Oh! yes
certainly, I was there. He wouldn't have gone off half as
comfortable without me. I had been with three or four of his
family under the same circumstances. They were all fine fellows.'
'They must have been fond of you,' remarked Mr Tappertit, looking
at him sideways.
'I don't know that they was exactly fond of me,' said Dennis, with
a little hesitation, 'but they all had me near 'em when they
departed. I come in for their wardrobes too. This very handkecher
that you see round my neck, belonged to him that I've been speaking
of--him as did that likeness.'
Mr Tappertit glanced at the article referred to, and appeared to
think that the deceased's ideas of dress were of a peculiar and by
no means an expensive kind. He made no remark upon the point,
however, and suffered his mysterious companion to proceed without
'These smalls,' said Dennis, rubbing his legs; 'these very smalls--
they belonged to a friend of mine that's left off sich incumbrances
for ever: this coat too--I've often walked behind this coat, in the
street, and wondered whether it would ever come to me: this pair of
shoes have danced a hornpipe for another man, afore my eyes, full
half-a-dozen times at least: and as to my hat,' he said, taking it
off, and whirling it round upon his fist--'Lord! I've seen this hat
go up Holborn on the box of a hackney-coach--ah, many and many a
'You don't mean to say their old wearers are ALL dead, I hope?'
said Mr Tappertit, falling a little distance from him as he spoke.
'Every one of 'em,' replied Dennis. 'Every man Jack!'
There was something so very ghastly in this circumstance, and it
appeared to account, in such a very strange and dismal manner, for
his faded dress--which, in this new aspect, seemed discoloured by
the earth from graves--that Mr Tappertit abruptly found he was
going another way, and, stopping short, bade him good night with
the utmost heartiness. As they happened to be near the Old Bailey,
and Mr Dennis knew there were turnkeys in the lodge with whom he
could pass the night, and discuss professional subjects of common
interest among them before a rousing fire, and over a social glass,
he separated from his companions without any great regret, and
warmly shaking hands with Hugh, and making an early appointment for
their meeting at The Boot, left them to pursue their road.
'That's a strange sort of man,' said Mr Tappertit, watching the
hackney-coachman's hat as it went bobbing down the street. 'I
don't know what to make of him. Why can't he have his smalls made
to order, or wear live clothes at any rate?'
'He's a lucky man, captain,' cried Hugh. 'I should like to have
such friends as his.'
'I hope he don't get 'em to make their wills, and then knock 'em on
the head,' said Mr Tappertit, musing. 'But come. The United B.'s
expect me. On!--What's the matter?'
'I quite forgot,' said Hugh, who had started at the striking of a
neighbouring clock. 'I have somebody to see to-night--I must turn
back directly. The drinking and singing put it out of my head.
It's well I remembered it!'
Mr Tappertit looked at him as though he were about to give
utterance to some very majestic sentiments in reference to this act
of desertion, but as it was clear, from Hugh's hasty manner, that
the engagement was one of a pressing nature, he graciously forbore,
and gave him his permission to depart immediately, which Hugh
acknowledged with a roar of laughter.
'Good night, captain!' he cried. 'I am yours to the death,
'Farewell!' said Mr Tappertit, waving his hand. 'Be bold and
'No Popery, captain!' roared Hugh.
'England in blood first!' cried his desperate leader. Whereat Hugh
cheered and laughed, and ran off like a greyhound.
'That man will prove a credit to my corps,' said Simon, turning
thoughtfully upon his heel. 'And let me see. In an altered state
of society--which must ensue if we break out and are victorious--
when the locksmith's child is mine, Miggs must be got rid of
somehow, or she'll poison the tea-kettle one evening when I'm out.
He might marry Miggs, if he was drunk enough. It shall be done.
I'll make a note of it.'
Little thinking of the plan for his happy settlement in life which
had suggested itself to the teeming brain of his provident
commander, Hugh made no pause until Saint Dunstan's giants struck
the hour above him, when he worked the handle of a pump which stood
hard by, with great vigour, and thrusting his head under the spout,
let the water gush upon him until a little stream ran down from
every uncombed hair, and he was wet to the waist. Considerably
refreshed by this ablution, both in mind and body, and almost
sobered for the time, he dried himself as he best could; then
crossed the road, and plied the knocker of the Middle Temple gate.
The night-porter looked through a small grating in the portal with
a surly eye, and cried 'Halloa!' which greeting Hugh returned in
kind, and bade him open quickly.
'We don't sell beer here,' cried the man; 'what else do you want?'
'To come in,' Hugh replied, with a kick at the door.
'Where to go?'
'Sir John Chester's.' Each of which answers, he emphasised with
After a little growling on the other side, the gate was opened, and
he passed in: undergoing a close inspection from the porter as he
'YOU wanting Sir John, at this time of night!' said the man.
'Ay!' said Hugh. 'I! What of that?'
'Why, I must go with you and see that you do, for I don't believe
'Come along then.'
Eyeing him with suspicious looks, the man, with key and lantern,
walked on at his side, and attended him to Sir John Chester's door,
at which Hugh gave one knock, that echoed through the dark
staircase like a ghostly summons, and made the dull light tremble
in the drowsy lamp.
'Do you think he wants me now?' said Hugh.
Before the man had time to answer, a footstep was heard within, a
light appeared, and Sir John, in his dressing-gown and slippers,
opened the door.
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