worthy gentlemen — have mercy upon a wretched man that has
served His Majesty, and the Law, and Parliament, for so many
years, and don't — don't let me die — because of a mistake.'
'Dennis,' said the governor of the jail, 'you know what the
course is, and that the order came with the rest. You know that
we could do nothing, even if we would.'
'All I ask, sir, — all I want and beg, is time, to make it sure,"
cried the trembling wretch, looking wildly round for sympathy.
^The King and Government can't know it's me; I'm sure they
can't know it 's me; or they never would bring me to this dreadful
slaughter-house. They know my name, but they don't know it 's
the same man. Stop my execution — for charity's sake stop my
execution, gentlemen — till they can be told that I 've been hang-
man here, nigh thirty year. Will no one go and tell them?' he
implored, clenching his hands and glaring round, and round, and
round again — 'will no charitable person go and tell them!'
'Mr. Akerman,' said a gentleman who stood by, after a mo-
ment's pause, 'since it may possibly produce in this unhappy man a
better frame of mind, even at this last minute, let me assure him
that he was well known to have been the hangman, when his sen-
tence was considered.'
' — But perhaps they think on that account that the punish-
ment's not so great,' cried the criminal, shuffling towards this
speaker on his knees, and holding up his folded hands; 'whereas
it 's worse, it 's worse a hundred times, to me than any man. Let
them know that, sir. Let them know that. They 've made it worse
606 BARNABY RUDGE
to me by giving me so much to do. Stop my execution till they
The governor beckoned with his hand, and the two men, who
had supported him before, approached. He uttered a piercing cry:
'Wait! Wait J Only a moment — only one moment more! Give
me a last chance of reprieve. One of us three is to go to Blooms-
bury Square. Let me be the one. It may come in that time; it 's
sure to come. In the Lord's name let me be sent to Bloomsbury
Square. Don't hang me here. It 's murder.'
They took him to the anvil: but even then he could be heard
above the clinking of the smiths' hammers, and the hoarse raging
of the crowd, crying that he knew of Hugh's birth — that his father
was living, and was a gentleman of influence and rank — that he
had family secrets in his possession — that he could tell nothing
unless they gave him time, but must die with them on his mind;
and he continued to rave in this sort until his voice failed him, and
he sank down a mere heap of clothes between the two attendants.
It was at this moment that the clock struck the first stroke of
twelve, and the bell began to toll. The various officers, with the
two sheriffs at their head, moved towards the door. All was ready
when the last chime came upon the ear.
They told Hugh this, and asked if he had anything to say.
To say!' he cried. 'Not I. I 'm ready. — Yes,' he added, as his
eye fell upon Barnaby, 'I have a word to say, too. Come hither,
There was, for the moment, something kind, and even tender,
struggling in his fierce aspect, as he wrung his poor companion by
T '11 say this,' he cried, looking firmly round, Hhat if I had ten
lives to lose, and the loss of each would give me ten times the agony
of the hardest death, I 'd lay them all down — ay I would, though
you gentlemen may not believe it — to save this one. This one,' he
added, wringing his hand again, 'that will be lost through me.'
'Not through you,' said the idiot, mildly. 'Don't say that. You
were not to blame. You have always been very good to me. —
Hugh, we shall know what makes the stars shine, nowV
T took him from her in a reckless mood, and didn't think what
BARNABY RUDGE 607
harm would come of it,' said Hugh, laying his hand upon his head,
and speaking in a lower voice. 'I ask her pardon, and his — Look
here,' he added roughly, in his former tone. 'You see this lad?'
They murmured 'Yes,' and seemed to wonder why he asked.
'That gentleman yonder' — pointing to the clergyman — 'has
often in the last few days spoken to me of faith, and strong belief.
You see what I am — more brute than man, as I have been often
told — but I had faith enough to believe, and did believe as
strongly as any of you gentlemen can believe anything, that this
one life would be spared. See what he is! — Look at him! '
Barnaby had moved towards the door, and stood beckoning him
'If this was not faith, and strong belief!' cried Hugh, raising
his right arm aloft,, and looking upward like a savage prophet
whom the near approach of Death had filled with inspiration,
*where are they! What else should teach me — me, born as I was
born, and reared as I have been reared — to hope for any mercy in
this hardened, cruel, unrelenting place! Upon these human
shambles, I, who never raised his hand in prayer till now, call
down the wrath of God! On that black tree, of which I am the
ripened fruit, I do invoke the curse of all its victims, past, and
present, and to come. On the head of that man, who, in his con-
science, owns me for his son, I leave the wish that he may never
sicken on his bed of down, but die a violent death as I do now, and
have the night-wind for his only mourner. To this I say, Amen,
His arm fell downward by his side; he turned; and moved to-
wards them with a steady step, the man he had been before.
'There is nothing more?' said the governor.
Hugh motioned Barnaby not to come near him (though with-
out looking in the direction where he stood) and answered, 'There
is nothing more '
' — Unless,' said Hugh, glancing hurriedly back, — 'unless any
person here hcis a fancy for a dog; and not then, unless he means
to use him well. There 's one, belongs to me, at the house I came
from, and it wouldn't be easy to find a better. He '11 whine at first,
608 BARNABY RUDGE
but he '11 soon get over that. — You wonder that I think about a
dog just now,' he added, with a kind of laugh. 'If any man de-
served it of me half as well, I 'd think of him'
He spoke no more, but moved onward in his place, with a care-
less air, though listening at the same time to the Service for the
Dead, with something between sullen attention, and quickened
curiosity. As soon as he had passed the door, his miserable asso-
ciate was carried out; and the crowd beheld the rest.
Barnaby would have mounted the steps at the same time — in-
deed he would have gone before them, but in both attempts he was
restrained, as he was to undergo the sentence elsewhere. In a few
minutes the sheriffs re-appeared, the same procession was again
formed, and they passed through various rooms and passages to
another door — that at which the cart was waiting. He held down
his head to avoid seeing what he knew his eyes must otherwise en-
counter, and took his seat sorrowfully, — and yet with something of
a childish pride and pleasure, — in the vehicle. The officers fell
into their places at the sides, in front and in the rear ; the sheriffs'
carriages rolled on ; a guard of soldiers surrounded the whole ; and
they moved slowly forward through the throng and pressure to-
wards Lord Mansfield's ruined house.
It was a sad sight — all the show, and strength, and glitter, as-
sembled round one helpless creature — and sadder yet to note, as
he rode along, how his wandering thoughts found strange encour-
agement in the crowded windows and the concourse in the streets:
and how, even then, he felt the influence of the bright sky, and
looked up, smiling, into its deep unfathomable blue. But there
had been many such sights since the riots were over — some so
moving in their nature, and so repulsive too, that they were far
more calculated to awaken pity for the sufferers, than respect for
that law whose strong arm seemed in more than one case to be as
wantonly stretched forth now that all was safe, as it had been
basely paralysed in time of danger.
Two cripples — both mere boys — one with a leg of wood, who
dragged his twisted limbs along by the help of a crutch, were
hanged in this same Bloomsbury Square. As the cart was about to
glide from under them, it was observed that they stood with their
faces from, not to, the house they had resisted to despoil; and
BARNAJBY RUDGE 609
their misery was protracted that this omission might be remedied.
Another boy was hanged in Bow Street: other young lads in var-
ious quarters of the town. Four wretched women, too, were put
to death. In a word, those who suffered as rioters were, for the
most part, the weakest, meanest, and most miserable among them.
It was a most exquisite satire upon the false religious cry which had
led to so much misery, that some of these people owned themselves
to be Catholics, and begged to be attended by their own priests.
One young man was hanged in Bishopsgate Street, whose aged
grey-headed father waited for him at the gallows, kissed him at its
foot when he arrived, and sat there, on the ground, till they took
him down. They would have given him the body of his child; but
he had no hearse, no coffin, nothing to remove it in, being too
poor — and walked meekly away beside the cart that took it back
to prison, trying, as he went, to touch its lifeless hand.
But the crowd had forgotten these matters, or cared little about
them if they lived in their memory: and while one great multitude
fought and hustled to get near the gibbet before Newgate, for a
parting look, another followed in the train of poor lost Barnaby, to
swell the throng that waited for him on the spot.
On this same day, and about this very hour, Mr. Willet the elder
sat smoking his pipe in a chamber at the Black Lion. Although ii
was hot summer weather, Mr. Willet sat close to the fire. He was
in a state of profound cogitation, with his own thoughts, and it was
his custom at such times to stew himself slowly, under the impres-
sion that that process of cookery was favourable to the melting
out of his ideas, which, w^hen he began to simmer, sometimes oozed
forth so copiously as to astonish even himself.
Mr. Willet had been several thousand times comforted by his
friends and acquaintance, with the assurance that for the loss he
had sustained in the damage done to the Maypole, he could 'come
upon the county.' But as this phrase happened to bear an un-
GIO BARNABY RUDGE
fortunate resemblance to the popular expression of 'coming on the
parish/ it suggested to Mr. Willet's mind no more consolatory
visions than pauperism on an extensive scale, and ruin in a capaci-
ous aspect. Consequently, he had never failed to receive the intelli-
gence with a rueful shake of the head, or a dreary stare, and had
been always observed to appear much more melancholy after a
visit of condolence than at any other time in the whole four-and-
It chanced, however, that sitting over the fire on this particular
occasion — perhaps because he was, as it were, done to a turn;
perhaps because he was in an unusually bright state of mind;
perhaps because he had considered the subject so long; perhaps
because of all these favouring circumstances, taken together — it
chanced that, sitting over the fire on this particular occasion, Mr.
Willet did, afar off and in the remotest depth of his intellect, per-
ceive a kind of lurking hint or faint suggestion, that out of the
public purse there might issue funds for the restoration of the
Maypole to its former high place among the taverns of the earth.
And this dim ray of light did so diffuse itself within him, and did
so kindle up and shine, that at last he had it as plainly and visibly
before him as the blaze by which he sat; and, fully persuaded that
he was the first to make the discovery, and that he had started,
hunted down, fallen upon, and knocked on the head, a perfectly
original idea which had never presented itself to any other man,
alive or dead, he laid down his pipe, rubbed his hands, and
'Why, father!' cried Joe, entering at the moment, 'you're in
'It 's nothing partickler,' said Mr. Willet, chuckling again. 'It 's
nothing at all partickler, Joseph. Tell me something about the
Salwanners.' Having preferred this request, Mr. Willet chuckled
a third time, and after these unusual demonstrations of levity, he
put his pipe in his mouth again.
'What shall I tell you, father?' asked Joe, laying his hand upon
his sire's shoulder, and looking down into his face. 'That I have
come back, poorer than a church mouse? You know that. That
I have come back, maimed and crippled? You know that.'
Tt was took off,' muttered Mr. Willet, with his eyes upon the
BARNABY RUDGE 611
fire, 'at the defence of the Salwanners, in America, where the
'Quite right,' returned Joe, smiHng, and leaning with his re-
maining elbow on the back of his father's chair; 'the very subject
I came to speak to you about. A man with one arm, father, is not
of much use in the busy world.'
This was one of those vast propositions which Mr. Willet had
never considered for an instant, and required time to 'tackle.'
Wherefore he made no answer.
'At all events,' said Joe, 'he can't pick and choose his means of
earning a livelihood, as another man may. He can't say "I will
turn my hand to this," or "I won't turn my hand to that," but
must take what he can do, and be thankful it 's no worse. — What
did you say?'
Mr. Willet had been softly repeating to himself, in a musing
tone, the words 'defence of the Salwanners': but he seemed em-
barrassed at having been overheard, and answered 'Nothing.'
'Now look here, father. — Mr. Edward has come to England
from the West Indies. When he was lost sight of (I ran away on
the same day, father), he made a voyage to one of the islands,
where a school-friend of his had settled; and, finding him, wasn't
too proud to be employed on his estate, and — and in short, got on
well, and is prospering, and has come over here on business of his
own, and is going back again speedily. Our returning nearly at
the same time, and meeting in the course of the late troubles, has
been a good thing every way; for it has not only enabled us to do
old friends some service, but has opened a path in life for me
which I may tread without being a burden upon you. To be plain,
father, he can employ me ; I have satisfied myself that I can be of
real use to him; and I am going to carry my one arm away with
him, and to make the most of it.'
In the mind's eye of Mr. Willet, the West Indies, and indeed all
foreign countries, were inhabited by savage nations, who were
perpetually burying pipes of peace, flourishing tomahawks, and
puncturing strange patterns in their bodies. He no sooner heard
this announcement, therefore, than he leaned back in his chair,
took his pipe from his lips, and stared at his son with as much dis-
may as if he already beheld him tied to a stake, and tortured for
612 BARNABY RUDGE
the entertainment of a lively population. In what form of expres-
sion his feelings would have found a vent, it is impossible to say.
Nor is it necessary: for, before a syllable occurred to him, Dolly
Varden came running into the room, in tears, threw herself on
Joe's breast without a word of explanation, and clasped her white
arms round his neck.
^Dolly!' cried Joe. ^Dolly!'
Ay, call me that; call me that always,' exclaimed the lock-
smith's little daughter; 'never speak coldly to me, never be dis-
tant, never again reprove me for the follies I have long repented,
or I shall die, Joe.'
7 reprove you!' said Joe.
'Yes — for every kind and honest word you uttered, went to my
heart. For you, who have borne so much from me — for you, who
owe your sufferings and pain to my caprice — for you to be so kind
— so noble to me, Joe — '
He could say nothing to her. Not a syllable. There was an odd
sort of eloquence in his one arm, which had crept round her waist:
but his lips were mute.
'If you had reminded me by a word — only by one short word,'
sobbed Dolly, clinging yet closer to him, 'how little I deserved that
you should treat me with so much forbearance; if you had exulted
only for one moment in your triumph, I could have borne it
'Triumph!' repeated Joe, with a smile which seemed to say, 'I
am a pretty figure for that.'
'Yes, triumph,' she cried, with her whole heart and soul in her
earnest voice, and gushing tears; 'for it is one. I am glad to think
and know it is. I wouldn't be less humbled, dear — I wouldn't be
without the recollection of that last time we spoke together in this
place — no, not if I could recall the past, and make our parting,
Did ever lover look as Joe looked now!
'Dear Joe,' said Dolly, 'I always loved you — in my own heart
I always did, although I was so vain and giddy. I hoped you would
come .back that night. I made quite sure you would. I prayed
for it on my knees. Through all these long, long years, I have
BARNABY RUDGE 613
never once forgotten you, or left off hoping that this happy time
The eloquence of Joe's arm surpassed the most impassioned
language ; and so did that of his lips — yet he said nothing, either.
'And now, at last,' cried Dolly, trembling with the fervour of her
speech, 'if you were sick, and shattered in your every limb ; if you
were ailing, weak, and sorrowful; if, instead of being what you
are, you were in everybody's eyes but mine the wreck and ruin of
a man; I would be your wife, dear love, with greater pride and
joy, than if you were the stateliest lord in England!'
'What have I done,' cried Joe, 'what have I done to meet with
'You have taught me,' said Dolly, raising her pretty face to his^
'to know myself, and your worth; to be something better than I
was; to be more deserving of your true and manly nature. In years
to come, dear Joe, you shall find that you have done so; for }
will be, not only now, when we are young and full of hope, but
when we have grown old and weary, your patient, gentle, never-
tiring wife. I will never know a wish or care beyond our home and
you, and I will always study how to please you with my best af-
fection and my most devoted love. I will: indeed I will! '
Joe could only repeat his former eloquence — but it was very
much to the purpose.
'They know of this, at home,' said Dolly. 'For your sake, I
would leave even them; but they know it, and are glad of it, and
are as proud of you as I am, and as full of gratitude. — You '11 not
come and see me as a poor friend who knew me when I was a girl,
will you, dear Joe?'
Well, well! It don't matter what Joe said in answer, but he said
a great deal; and Dolly said a great deal too: and he folded Dolly
in his one arm pretty tight, considering that it was but one; and
Dolly made no resistance: and if ever two people were happy in
this world — which is not an utterly miserable one, with all its faults
— we may, with some appearance of certainty, conclude that they
To say that during these proceedings Mr. Willet the elder under-
went the greatest emotions of astonishment of which our commoi>
614 BARNABY RUDGE
nature is susceptible — to say that he was in a perfect paralysis of
surprise, and that he wandered into the most stupendous and
theretofore unattainable heights of complicated amazement —
would be to shadow forth his state of mind in the feeblest and
lamest terms. If a roc, an eagle, a griffin, a flying elephant, a
winged sea-horse, had suddenly appeared, and, taking him on its
back, carried him bodily into the heart of the 'Salwanners,' it
would have been to him as an every-day occurrence, in comparison
with what he now beheld. To be sitting quietly by, seeing and
hearing these things; to be completely overlooked, unnoticed, and
disregarded, while his son and a young lady were talking to each
other in the most impassioned manner, kissing each other, and
making themselves in all respects perfectly at home ; was a position
so tremendous, so inexplicable, so utterly beyond the widest range
of his capacity of comprehension, that he fell into a lethargy of
wonder, and could no more rouse himself than an enchanted sleeper
in the first year of his fairy lease, a century long.
'Father,' said Joe, presenting Dolly. 'You know who this is?'
Mr. Willet looked first at her, then at his son, then back again
at Dolly, and then made an ineffectual effort to extract a whiff
from his pipe, which had gone out long ago.
'Say a word, father, if it's only "how d'ye do," ' urged Joe.
'Certainly, Joseph,' answered Mr. Willet. 'Oh yes! Why not?'
'To be sure,' said Joe. 'Why not?'
'Ah! ' replied his father. 'Why not?' and with this remark, which
he uttered in a low voice as though he were discussing some grave
question with himself, he used the little finger — if any of his fingers
can be said to have come under that denomination — of his right
hand as a tobacco-stopper, and w^as silent again.
And so he sat for half an hour at least, although Dolly, in the
most endearing of manners, hoped, a dozen times, that he was not
angry with her. So he sat for half an hour, quite motionless, and
looking all the while like nothing so much as a great Dutch Pin or
Skittle. At the expiration of that period, he suddenly, and without
the least notice, burst (to the geat consternation of the young
people) into a very loud and very short laugh; and repeating 'Cer-
tainly, Joseph. Oh yes! Why not?' went out for a walk.
BARNABY RUDGE 61i5
Old John did not walk near the Golden Key, for between the
Golden Key and the Black Lion there lay a wilderness of streets —
as everybody knows who is acquainted with the relative bearings of
Clerkenwell and Whitechapel — and he was by no means famous for
pedestrian exercise. But the Golden Key lies in our way, though il
was out of his ; so to the Golden Key this chapter goes.
The Golden Key itself, fair emblem of the locksmith's trade, had
been pulled down by the rioters, and roughly trampled underfoot.
But, now, it was hoisted up again in all the glory of a new coat of
paint, and shewed more bravely even than in days of yore. Indeed
the whole house-front was spruce and trim, and so freshened up
throughout, that if there yet remained at large any of the rioters
who had been concerned in the attack upon it, the sight of the old,
goodly, prosperous dwelling, so revived, must have been to them
as gall and wormwood.
The shutters of the shop were closed, however, and the window-
blinds above were all pulled down, and in place of its usual cheer-
ful appearance, the house had a look of sadness and an air of
mourning; which the neighbours, who in old days had often seen
poor Barnaby go in and out, were at no loss to understand. The
door stood partly open; but the locksmith's hammer was unheard;
the cat sat moping on the ashy forge; all was deserted, dark, and
On the threshold of this door, Mr. Haredale and Edward Chester
met. The younger man gave place; and both passing in with a
familiar air, which seemd to denote that they were tarrying there,
or were well accustomed to go to and fro unquestioned, shut it be-
Entering the old back-parlour, and ascending the flight of stairs,
abrupt and steep, and quaintly fashioned as of old, they turned into
the best room; the pride of Mrs. Varden's heart, and erst the scene
of Miggs's household labours.
'Varden brought the mother here last evening, he told me?' said
616 BARNABY RUDGE
'She is above-stairs now — in the room over here,' Edward re-
joined. 'Her grief, they say, is past all telling. I needn't add —
for that you know beforehand, sir — that the care, humanity, and
sympathy of these good people have no bounds.'
'I am sure of that. Heaven repay them for it, and for much more.
Varden is out?'
'He returned with your messenger, who arrived almost at the mo-
ment of his coming home himself. He was out the whole night —
but that of course you know. He was with you the greater part of
'He was. Without him, I should have lacked my right hand. He
is an older man than I ; but nothing can conquer him.'
'The cheeriest, stoutest-hearted fellow in the world.'
'He has a right to be. He has a right to be. A better creature
never lived. He reaps what he has sown — no more.'
'It is not all men,' said Edward, after a moment's hesitation, 'who
have the happiness to do that.'
'More than you imagine,' returned Mr. Haredale. 'We note the