return or not. But the crowd passing along Westminster Bridge,
soon assured them that the populace were dispersing; and Hugh
THE POLE SWEPT THE AIR
BARNABY RUDGE 385
rightly guessed from this, that they had cheered the magistrate for
offering to dismiss the military on condition of their immediate de-
parture to their several homes, and that he and Barnaby were bet-
ter where they were. He advised, therefore, that they should pro-
ceed to Blackfriars, and, going ashore at the bridge, make the best
of their way to The Boot; where there was not only good enter-
tainment and safe lodging, but where they would certainly be
joined by many of their late companions. Barnaby assenting, they
decided on this course of action, and pulled for Blackfriars accord-
They landed at a critical time, and fortunately for themselves
at the right moment. For, coming into Fleet Street, they found it
in an unusual stir; and inquiring the cause, were told that a body
of Horse Guards had just galloped past, and that they were es-
corting some rioters whom they had made prisoners, to Newgate
for safety. Not at all ill-pleased to have so narrowly escaped the
cavalcade, they lost no more time in asking questions, but hurried
to The Boot with as much speed as Hugh considered it prudent to
make, without appearing singular or attracting an inconvenient
share of public notice.
They were among the first to reach the tavern, but they had not
been there many minutes, when several groups of men who had
formed part of the crowd, came straggling in. Among them were-
Simon Tappertit and Mr. Dennis; both of whom, but especially
the latter, greeted Barnaby with the utmost warmth, and paid him
many compliments on the prowess he had shown.
'Which,' said Dennis, with an oath, as he rested his bludgeon in
a corner with his hat upon it, and took his seat at the same table
with them, 'it does me good to think of. There was a opportunity!
But it led to nothing. For my part, I don't know what would.
There 's no spirit among the people in these here times. Bring
something to eat and drink here. I 'm disgusted with humanity.'
'On what account?' asked Mr. Tappertit, who had been quench-
386 BARNABY RUDGE
ing his fiery face in a half-gallon can. 'Don't you consider this a
good beginning, mister?'
'Give me security that it an't a ending,' rejoined the hangman.
'When that soldier went down, we might have made London ours;
but no; â we stand, and gape, and loo' on â the justice (I wish he
had had a bullet in each eye, as he would have had, if we 'd gone
to work my way) says "My lads, if you '11 give me your word to
disperse, I '11 order off the military," â our people sets up a hurrah,
throws up the game with the winning cards in their hands, and
skulks away like a pack of tame curs as they are. Ah,' said the
hangman, in a tone of deep disgust, 'it makes me blush for my fel-
ler creeturs. I wish I had been born a ox, I do!'
'You 'd have been quite as agreeable a character if you had been,
I think,' returned Simon Tappertit, going out in a lofty manner.
'Don't be too sure of that,' rejoined the hangman, calling after
him; 'if I was a horned animal at the present moment, with the
smallest grain of sense, I 'd toss every man in this company, ex-
cepthig them two,' meaning Hugh and Barnaby, 'for his manner of
conducting himself this day.'
With which mournful review of their proceedings, Mr. Dennis
sought consolation in cold boiled beef and beer; but without at all
relaxing the grim and dissatisfied expression of his face, the gloom
of which was rather deepened than dissipated by their grateful in-
The company who were thus libelled might have retaliated by
strong words, if not by blows, but they were dispirited and worn
out. The greater part of them had fasted since morning; all had
suffered extremely from the excessive heat ; and between the day's
shouting, exertion, and excitement, many had quite lost their
voices, and so much of their strength that they could hardly stand.
Then they were uncertain what to do next, fearful of the conse-
quences of what they had done already, and sensible that after all
they had carried no point, but had indeed left matters worse than
they had found them. Of those who had come to The Boot, many
dropped off within an hour ; such of them as were really honest and
sincere, never, after the morning's experience, to return, or to hold
any communication with their late companions. Others remained
but to refresh themselves, and then went home desponding ; others
BARNABY RUDGE 387
who had theretofore been regular in their attendance, avoided the
place altogether. The half-dozen prisoners whom the Guards had
taken, were magnified by report into half-a-hundred at least; and
their friends, being faint and sober, so slackened in their energy,
and so drooped beneath these dispiriting influences, that by eight
o'clock in the evening, Dennis, Hugh, and Barnaby, were left alone.
Even they were fast asleep upon the benches, when Gashford's en-
trance roused them.
^Oh! you are here then?' said the secretary. 'Dear me!'
'Why, where should we be. Muster Gashford!' Dennis rejoined
as he rose into a sitting posture.
'Oh nowhere, nowhere,' he returned with excessive mildness.
'The streets are filled with blue cockades. I rather thought you
might have been among them. I am glad you are not.'
'You have orders for us, master, then?' said Hugh.
'Oh dear no. Not I. No orders, my good fellow. What orders
should I have? You are not in my service.'
'Muster Gashford,' remonstrated Dennis, 'we belong to the
cause, don't we?'
"The cause!' repeated the secretary, looking at him in a sort of
abstraction. 'There is no cause. The cause is lost.'
'Oh yes. You have heard, I suppose? The petition is rejected by
a hundred and ninety-two, to six. It 's quite final. We might have
spared ourselves some trouble. That, and my lord's vexation, are
the only circumstances I regret. I am quite satisfied in all other
As he said this, he took a penknife from his pocket, and putting
his hat upon his knee, began to busy himself in ripping off the blue
cockade which he had worn all day; at the same time humming a
psalm tune which had been very popular in the morning, and dwell-
ing on it with a gentle regret.
His two adherents looked at each other, and at him, as if they
were at a loss how to pursue the subject. At length Hugh, after
some elbowing and winking between himself and Mr. Dennis, ven-
tured to stay his hand, and to ask him why he meddled with that
riband in his hat.
'Because,' said the secretary, looking up with something between
388 BARNABY RUDGE
a snarl and a smile, 'because to sit still and wear it, or to fall
asleep and wear it, is a mockery. That 's all, friend.'
'What would you have us do, master!' cried Hugh.
'Nothing,' returned Gashford, shrugging his shoulders; 'noth-
ing. When my lord was reproached and threatened for standing
by you, I, as a prudent man, would have had you do nothing. When
the soldiers were trampling you under their horses' feet, I would
have had you do nothing. When one of them was struck down by a
daring hand, and I saw confusion and dismay in all their faces, I
would have had you do nothing â just what you did, in short. This
is the young man who had so little prudence and so much boldness.
Ah! I am sorry for him.'
'Sorry, master!' cried Hugh.
'Sorry, Muster Gashford!' echoed Dennis.
'In case there should be a proclamation out to-morrow, offering
five hundred pounds, or some such trifle, for his apprehension; and
in case it should include another man who dropped into the lobby
from the stairs above,' said Gashford, coldly; 'still, do nothing.'
'Fire and fury, master!' cried Hugh starting up. 'What have we
done, that you should talk to us like this!'
'Nothing,' returned Gashford with a sneer. 'If you are cast into
prison; if the young man â ' here he looked hard at Barnaby's at-
tentive face â 'is dragged from us and from his friends; perhaps
from people whom he loves, and whom his death would kill; is
thrown into jail, brought out and hanged before their eyes; still,
do nothing. You '11 find it your best policy, I have no doubt.'
'Come on!' cried Hugh, striding towards the door. 'Dennis â
Barnaby â come on ! '
'Where? To do what?' said Gashford, slipping past him, and
standing with his back against it.
'Anywhere! Anything!' cried Hugh. 'Stand aside, master, or
the window will serve our turn as well. Let us out!'
'Ha ha ha! You are of such â of such an impetuous nature,'
said Gashford, changing his manner for one of the utmost good
fellowship and the pleasantest raillery; 'you are such an excitable
creature â but you '11 drink with me before you go?'
'Oh, yes â certainly,' growled Dennis, drawing his sleeve across
BARNABY RUDGE 389
his thirsty lips. 'No malice, brother. Drink with Muster Gash-
Hugh wiped his heated brow, and relaxed into a smile. The art-
ful secretary laughed outright.
'Some liquor here! Be quick, or he '11 not stop, even for that.
He is a man of such desperate ardour ! ' said the smooth secretary,
whom Mr. Dennis corroborated with sundry nods and muttered
oaths â 'Once roused, he is a fellow of such fierce determination! '
Hugh poised his sturdy arm aloft, and clapping Barnaby on the
back, bade him fear nothing. They shook hands together â poor
Barnaby evidently possessed with the idea that he was among the
most virtuous and disinterested heroes in the world â and Gashford
'I hear,' he said smoothly, as he stood among them with a great
measure of liquor in his hand, and filled their glasses as quickly
and as often as they chose, 'I hear â but I cannot say whether it
be true or false â that the men who are loitering in the streets to-
night are half disposed to pull down a Romish chapel or two, and
that they only want leaders. I even heard mention of those m
Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in Warwick Street, Golden
Square; but common report, you know â You are not going?'
â 'To do nothing, master, eh?' cried Hugh. 'No jails and haltÂ«*6
for Barnaby and me. They must be frightened out of that. Lead-
ers are wanted, are they? Now, boys!'
'A most impetuous fellow!' cried the secretary. 'Ha ha! A
courageous, boisterous, most vehement fellow! A man who â '
There was no need to finish the sentence, for they had rushed
out of the house, and were far beyond hearing. He stopped in the
middle of a laugh, listened, drew on his gloves, and clasping his
hands behind him, paced the deserted room for a long time, then
bent his steps towards the busy town, and walked into the streets.
They were filled with people, for the rumour of that day's pro-
ceedings had made a great noise. Those persons who did not care
to leave home, were at their doors or windows, and one topic of dis-
course prevailed on every side. Some reported that the riots were
effectually put down; others that they had broken out again:
some said that Lord George Gordon had been sent under a stroog
390 BARNABY RUDGE
guard to the Tower; others that an attempt had been made upon
the King's life, that the soldiers had been called out, and that the
noise of musketry in a distant part of the town had been plainly
heard within an hour. As it grew darker, these stories became more
direful and mysterious ; and often, when some frightened passenger
ran past with tidings that the rioters were not far off, and were
coming up, the doors were shut and barred, lower windows made
secure, and as much consternation engendered, as if the city were
invaded by a foreign army.
Gashford walked stealthily about, listening to all he heard, and
diffusing or confirming, whenever he had an opportunity, such false
intelligence as suited his own purpose; and, busily occupied in this
way, turned into Holborn for the twentieth time, when a great
many women and children came flying along the street â often
panting and looking back â and the confused murmur of numerous
voices struck upon his ear. Assured by these tokens, and by the
red light which began to flash upon the houses on either side, that
some of his friends were indeed approaching, he begged a mo-
ment's shelter at a door which opened as he passed, and running
with some other persons to an upper window, looked out upon the
They had torches among them, and the chief faces were distinct-
ly visible. That they had been engaged in the destruction of some
building was sufficiently apparent, and that it v/as a Catholic place
of worship was evident from the spoils they bore as trophies,
which were easily recognisable for the vestments of priests, and
rich fragments of altar furniture. Covered with soot, and dirt, and
dust, and lime; their garments torn to rags; their hair hanging
wildly about them; their hands and faces jagged and bleeding
with the wounds of rusty nails; Barnaby, Hugh, and Dennis hur-
ried on before them all, like hideous madmen. After them, the
dense throng came fighting on: some singing; some shouting in
triumph; some quarrelling among themselves; some menacing the
spectators as they passed; some with great wooden fragments, on
which they spent their rage as if they had been alive, rending them
limb from limb, and hurling the scattered morsels high into the
air; some in a drunken state, unconscious of the hurts they had re-
ceived from falling bricks, and stones, and beams; one borne upon
BARNABY RUDGE 391
a shutter, in the very midst, covered with a dingy cloth, a senseless,
ghastly heap. Thus â a vision of coarse faces, with here and there
a blot of flaring, smoky light; a dream of demon heads and savage
eyes, and sticks and iron bars uplifted in the air, and whirled
about; a bewildering horror, in which so much was seen, and yet
so little, which seemed so ^ong, and yet so short, in which there
were so many phantoms, not to be forgotten all through life, and
yet so many things that could not be observed in one distracting
glimpse â it flitted onward, and was gone.
As it passed away upon its work of wrath and ruin, a piercing
scream was heard. A knot of persons ran towards the spot; Gash-
ford, who had just emerged into the street, among them. He was
on the outskirts of the little concourse, and could not see or hear
what passed within; but one who had a better place, informed him
that a widow woman had descried her son among the rioters.
'Is that all?' said the secretary, turning his face homewards.
'Well! I think this looks a little more like business!'
Promising as these outrages were to Gashford's view, and much
like business as they looked, they extended that night no farther.
The soldiers were again called out, again they took half a dozen
prisoners, and again the crowd dispersed after a short and bloodless
scuffle. Hot and drunken though they were, they had not yet
broken all bounds and set all law and government at defiance.
Something of their habitual deference to the authority erected by
society for its own preservation yet remained among them, and had
its majesty been vindicated in time, the secretary would have had
to digest a bitter disappointment.
By midnight, the streets were clear and quiet, and save that
there stood in two parts of the town a heap of nodding walls and
pile of rubbish, where there had been at sunset a rich and hand-
some building, everything wore its usual aspect. Even the Catholic
gentry and tradesmen, of whom there were many resident in differ-
392 BARNABY RUDGE
ent parts of the City and its suburbs, had no fear for their lives or
property, and but little indignation for the wrong they had already
sustained in the plunder and destruction of their temples of wor-
ship. An honest confidence in the government under whose pro-
tection they had lived for many years, and a well-founded reliance
on the good feeling and right thinking of the great mass of the
community, with whom, notwithstanding their religious differences,
they were every day in habits of confidential, affectionate, and
friendly intercourse, re-assured them, even under the excesses that
had been committed; and convinced them that they who were
Protestants in anything but the name, were no more to be consid-
ered as abettors of these disgraceful occurrences, than they them-
selves were chargeable with the uses of the block, the rack, the gib-
bet, and the stake in cruel Mary's reign.
The clock was on the stroke of one, when Gabriel Varden, with
his lady and Miss Miggs, sat waiting in the little parlour. This
fact; the toppling wicks of the dull, wasted candles; the silence
that prevailed; and, above all, the nightcaps of both maid and
matron, were sufficient evidence that they had been prepared for
bed some time ago, and had some reason for sitting up so far be-
yond their usual hour.
If any other corroborative testimony had been required, it would
have been abundantly furnished in the actions of Miss Miggs, who,
having arrived at the restless state and sensitive condition of the
nervous system which are the result of long watching, did, by a con-
stant rubbing and tweaking of her nose, a perpetual change of
position (arising from the sudden growth of imaginary knots and
knobs in her chair), a frequent friction of her eyebrows, the in-
cessant recurrence of a small cough, a small groan, a gasp, a sigh,
a sniff, a spasmodic start, and by other demonstrations of that
nature, so file down and rasp, as it were, the patience of the lock-
smith, that after looking at her in silence for some time, he at last
broke out into this apostrophe: â
*Miggs, my good girl, go to bed â do go to bed. You 're really
worse than the dripping of a hundred water-butts outside the win-
dow, or the scratching of as many mice behind the wainscot. I
can't bear it. Do go to bed, Miggs. To oblige me â do.'
'You haven't got nothing to untie, sir,' returned Miss Miggs,
BARNABY RUDGE 393
'and therefore your requests does not surprise me. But missis has
â and while you sit up, mim' â she added, turning to the lock-
smith's wife, 'I couldn't, no, not if twenty times the quantity of
cold water was aperiently running down my back at this moment,
go to bed with a quiet spirit.'
Having spoken these words, Miss Miggs made divers efforts to
rub her shoulders in an impossible place, and shivered from head to
foot; thereby giving the beholders to understand that the imagin-
ary cascade was still in full flow, but that a sense of duty upheld
her under that and all other sufferings, and nerved her to endur-
Mrs. Varden being too sleepy to speak, and Miss Miggs having,
as the phrase is, said her say, the locksmith had nothing for it but
to sigh and be as quiet as he could.
But to be quiet with such a basilisk before him was impossible.
If he looked another way, it was worse to feel that she was rubbing
her cheek, or twitching her ear, or winking her eye, or making all
kinds of extraordinary shapes with her nose, than to see her do it.
If she was for a moment free from any of these complaints, it was
only because of her foot being asleep, or of her arm having got the
fidgets, or of her leg being doubled up with the cramp, or of some
other horrible disorder which racked her whole frame. If she did
enjoy a moment's ease, then with her eyes shut and her mouth wide
open, she would be seen to sit very stiff and upright in her chair;
then to nod a little way forward, and stop with a jerk; then to nod
a little farther forward, and stop with another jerk; then to re-
cover herself; then to come forward again â lower â lower â lower
â by very slow degrees, until, just as it seemed impossible that
she could preserve her balance for another instant, and the lock-
smith was about to call out in an agony, to save her from dashing
down upon her forehead and fracturing her skull, then all of a
sudden and without the smallest notice, she would come upright
and rigid again with her eyes open, and in her countenance an ex-
pression of defiance, sleepy but yet most obstinate, which plainly
said 'I 've never once closed 'em since I looked at you last, and
I '11 take my oath of it!'
At length, after the clock had struck two, there was a sound at
the street door, as if somebody had fallen against the knocker by
394 BARNABY RUDGE
accident. Miss Miggs immediately jumping up and clapping her
hands, cried with a drowsy mingling of the sacred and profane,
Ally Looyer, mim! there 's Simmuns's knock!'
'Who 's there?' said Gabriel.
'Me!' cried the well-known voice of Mr. Tappertit. Gabriel
opened the door, and gave him admission.
He did not cut a very insinuating figure, for a man of his stat-
ure suffers in a crowd ; and having been active in yesterday morn-
ing's work, his dress was literally crushed from head to foot: his
hat being beaten out of all shape, and his shoes trodden down at
heel like slippers. His coat fluttered in strips about him, the
buckles were torn away both from his knees and feet, half his
neckerchief was gone, and the bosom of his shirt was rent to tat-
ters. Yet notwithstanding all these personal disadvantages; de-
spite his being very weak from heat and fatigue ; and so begrimed
with mud and dust that he might have been in a case, for anything
of the real texture (either of his skin or apparel) that the eye could
discern; he stalked haughtily into the parlour, and throwing him-
self into a chair, and endeavouring to thrust his hands into the
pockets of his small-clothes, which were turned inside out and dis-
played upon his legs, like tassels, surveyed the household with a
'Simon,' said the locksmith gravely, 'how comes it that you re-
turn home at this time of night, and in this condition? Give me an
assurance that you have not been among the rioters, and I am sat-
'Sir,' replied Mr. Tappertit, with a contemptuous look, 'I won-
der at your assurance in making such demands.'
'You have been drinking,' said the locksmith.
'As a general principle, and in the most offensive sense of the
words, sir,' returned his journeyman with great self-possession, 'I
consider you a liar. In that last observation you have unintention-
ally â unintentionally, sir, â struck upon the truth.'
'Martha,' said the locksmith, turning to his wife, and shaking
his head sorrowfully, while a smile at the absurd figure before him
still played upon his open face, 'I trust it may turn out that this
poor lad is not the victim of the knaves and fools we have so often
BARNABY RUDGE 395
had words about, and who have done so much harm to-day. If he
has been at Warwick Street or Duke Street to-night â '
'He has been at neither, sir,' cried Mr. Tappertit in a loud voice,
which he suddenly dropped into a whisper as he repeated, with eyes
fixed upon the locksmith, 'he has been at neither.'
'I am glad of it, with all my heart,' said the locksmith in a
serious tone; 'for if he had been, and it could be proved against
him, Martha, your Great Association would have been to him the
cart that draws men to the gallows and leaves them hanging in the
air. It would, as sure as we 're alive! '
Mrs. Varden w^as too much scared by Simon's altered manner
and appearance, and by the accounts of the rioters which had
reached her ears that night, to offer any retort, or to have re-
course to her usual matrimonial policy. Miss Miggs wrung her
hands, and wept.
'He was not at Duke Street, or at Warwick Street, G. Varden,'
said Simon, sternly; 'but he was at Westminster. Perhaps, sir, he
kicked a county member, perhaps, sir, he tapped a lord â you may
stare, sir, I repeat it â blood flowed from noses, and perhaps he
tapped a lord. Who knows? This,' he added, putting his hand into
his waistcoat-pocket, and taking out a large tooth, at the sight of
which both Miggs and Mrs. Varden screamed, 'this was a bishop's.
Beware, G. Varden!'
'Now, I would rather,' said the locksmith hastily, 'have paid
five hundred pounds, than had this come to pass. You idiot, do you
know what peril you stand in?'
'I know it, sir,' replied his journeyman, 'and it is my glory. I
was there, everybody saw me there. I was conspicuous, and prom-Â«
inent. I will abide the consequences.'
The locksmith, really disturbed and agitated, paced to and fro
in silence â glancing at his former 'prentice every now and thenâ
and at length stopping before him, said:
'Get to bed, and sleep for a couple of hours that you may awake
penitent, and with some of your senses about you. Be sorry for