WHY NOT? 373
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, 11 it would have been to
him as an every-day occurrence, in comparison with what he
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 compre-
hension, 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
" Certainly, Joseph," answered Mr. Willet. " Oh yes !
Why not? 11
To be sure, 11 said Joe. " Why not ? "
"Ah! 11 replied his father. "Wiry not?" and with this
remark, which he uttered in a low voice as though he wefe
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 was 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,
374 BARNABY RUDGE.
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 great consternation of the young people) into
a very loud and very short laugh ; and repeating " Certainly,
Joseph. Oh yes ! Why not ? " went out for a walk.
OLD JOHX 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 exercises. But the
Golden Key lies in our way, though it 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 under foot. But, now, it was hoisted up again in
all the glory of a new coat of paint, and showed 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 cheerful 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 w.as deserted, dark, and silent.
376 BARNABY RUDGE.
On the threshold of this door, Mr. Haredale and Edward
Chester met. The younger man gave place; and both pass-
ing in with a familiar air, which seemed to denote that they
were tarrying there, or were well accustomed to go to and fro
unquestioned, shut it behind them.
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 Mr. Haredale.
"She is above-stairs now in the room over here," Edward
rejoined. "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
" 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 moment 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 it ? "
"He was. Without him, I should have lacked my right
hand. He is an older man than I ; but nothing can conquer
" 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 hesita-
tion, " who have the happiness to do that."
"More than you imagine," returned Mr. Haredale. "We
note the harvest more than the seed-time. You do so in
In truth his pale and haggard face, and gloomy bearing,
had so far influenced the remark, that Edward was, for the
moment, at a loss to answer him.
MR. HAREDALE AND EDWARD CHESTER. 377
" Tut, tut," said Mr. Haredale, " 'twas not very difficult to
read a thought so natural. But you are mistaken neverthe-
less. I have had my share of sorrows more than the
common lot, perhaps, but I have borne them ill. I have
broken where I should have bent ; and have mused and
brooded, when my spirit should have mixed with all God's
great creation. The men who learn endurance, are they who
call the whole world, brother. I have turned from the world,
and I pay the penalty. 11
Edward would have interposed, but he went on without
giving him time.
"It is too late to evade it now. I sometimes think, that
if I had to live my life once more, I might amend this fault
not so much, I discover when I search my mind, for the
love of what is right, as for my own sake. But even when
I make these better resolutions, I instinctively recoil from the
idea of suffering again what I have undergone ; and in this
circumstance I find the unwelcome assurance that I should
still be the same man, though I could cancel the past, and
begin anew, with its experience to guide me."
" Nay, you make too sure of that, 11 said Edward.
"You think so, 11 Mr. Haredale answered, "and I am glad
you do. I know myself better, and therefore distrust myself
more. Let us leave this subject for another not so far re-
moved from it as it might, at first sight, seem to be. Sir,
you still love my niece, and she is still attached to you. 11
"I have that assurance from her own lips, 11 said Edward,
"and you know I am sure you know that I would not
exchange it for any blessing life could yield me. 11
" You are frank, honourable, and disinterested/ 1 said Mr.
Haredale; "you have forced the conviction that you are so,
even on my once-jaundiced mind, and I believe you. Wait
here till I come back. 11
He left the room as he spoke ; but soon returned with his
"On that first and only time," he said, looking from the
378 BARNABY RUDGE.
one to the other, "when we three stood together under her
father's roof, I told you to quit it, and charged you never to
return. 1 "
" It is the only circumstance arising out of our love,"
observed Edward, " that I have forgotten."
"You own a name,"" said Mr. Haredale, "I had deep
reason to remember. I was moved and goaded by recollec-
tions of personal wrong and injury, I know, but, even now I
cannot charge myself with having, then, or ever, lost sight
of a heartfelt desire for her true happiness ; or with having
acted however much I was mistaken with any other im-
pulse than the one pure, single, earnest wish to be to her, as
far as in my inferior nature lay, the father she had lost."
" Dear uncle, " cried Emma, " I have known no parent
but you. I have loved the memory of others, but I have
loved you all my life. Never was father kinder to his child
than you have been to me, without the interval of one harsh
hour, since I can first remember."
" You speak too fondly," he answered, " and yet I cannot
wish you were less partial ; for I have a pleasure in hearing
those words, and shall have in calling them to mind when
we are far asunder, Avhich nothing else could give me. Bear
with me for a moment longer, Edward, for she and I have
been together many years ; and although I believe that in
resigning her to you I put the seal upon her future happiness,
I find it needs an effort."
He pressed her tenderly to his bosom, and after a minute's
pause, resumed :
"I have done you wrong, sir, and I ask your forgiveness
in no common phrase, or show of sorrow ; but with earnest-
ness and sincerity. In the same spirit, I acknowledge to you
both that the time has been when I connived at treachery
and falsehood which if I did not perpetrate myself, I still
permitted to rend you two asunder."
"You judge yourself too harshly," said Edward. "Let
these things rest."
FULL ATONEMENT FOR THE PAST. 379
"They rise in judgment against me when I look back,
and not now for the first time," he answered. " I cannot
part from you without your full forgiveness; for busy life
and I have little left in common now, and I have regrets
enough to carry into solitude, without addition to the
stock. 1 ' 1
" You bear a blessing from us both," said Emma. " Never
mingle thoughts of me of me who owe you so much love
and duty with anything but undying affection and gratitude
for the past, and bright hopes for the future.""
" The future," returned her uncle, with a melancholy smile,
"is a bright word for you, and its image should be wreathed
with cheerful hopes. Mine is of another kind, but it will be
one of peace, and free, I trust, from care or passion. When
you quit England I shall leave it too. There are cloisters
abroad ; and now that the two great objects of my life are
set at rest, I know no better home. You droop at that,
forgetting that I am growing old, and that my course is
nearly run. Well, we will speak of it again not once or
twice, but many times; and you shall give me cheerful
" And you will take it ? " asked his niece.
"Fll listen to it," he answered, with a kiss, "and it will
have its weight, be certain. What have I left to say ? You
have, of late, been much together. It is better and more
fitting that the circumstances attendant on the past, which
wrought your separation, and sowed between you suspicion
and distrust, should not be entered on by me."
" Much, much better," whispered Emma.
"I avow my share in them," said Mr. Haredale, "though
I held it, at the time, in detestation. Let no man turn
aside, ever so slightly, from the broad path of honour, on
the plausible pretence that he is justified by the goodness of
his end. All good ends can be worked out by good means.
Those that cannot, are bad ; and may be counted so at once,
and left alone."
He looked from her to Edward, and said in a gentler
" In goods and fortune you are now nearly equal. I have
been her faithful steward, and to that remnant of a richer
property which my brother left her, I desire to add, in token
of my love, a poor pittance, scarcely worth the mention, for
which I have no longer any need. I am glad you go abroad.
ACCLAMATIONS OF THE CROWD. 381
Let our ill-fated house remain the ruin it is. When you
return, after a few thriving years, you will command a better,
and a more fortunate one. We are friends ? "
Edward took his extended hand, and grasped it heartily.
"You are neither slow nor cold in your response, 11 said
Mr. Haredale, doing the like by him, "and when I look
upon you now, and know you, I feel that I would choose
you for her husband. Her father had a generous nature, and
you would have pleased him well. I give her to you in his
name, and with his blessing. If the world and I part in this
act, we part on happier terms than we have lived for many
a day. 11
He placed her in his arms, and would have left the room,
but that he was stopped in his passage to the door by a
great noise at a distance, which made them start and pause.
It was a loud shouting, mingled with boisterous acclama-
tions, that rent the very air. It drew nearer and nearer
every moment, and approached so rapidly, that, even while
they listened, it burst into a deafening confusion of sounds
at the street corner.
"This must be stopped quieted, 11 said Mr. Haredale,
hastily. " We should have foreseen this, and provided
against it. I will go out to them at once. 11
But, before he could reach the door, and before Edward
could catch up his hat and follow him, they were again
arrested by a loud shriek from above-stairs : and the lock-
smith's wife, bursting in, and fairly running in Mr. Haredale's
arms, cried out :
" She knows it all, dear sir ! she knows it all ! We broke
it out to her by degrees, and she is quite prepared. 11 Having
made this communication, and furthermore thanked Heaven
with great fervour and heartiness, the good lady, according to
the custom of matrons, on all occasions of excitement, fainted
They ran to the window, drew up the sash, and looked into
the crowded street. Among a dense mob of persons, of whom
not one was for an instant still, the locksmith's ruddy face
and burly form could be descried, beating about as though he
was struggling with a rough sea. Now, he was carried back
a score of yards, now onward nearly to the door, now back
again, now forced against the opposite houses, now against
those adjoining his own : now carried up a flight of steps,
and greeted by the outstretched hands of half a hundred men,
while the whole tumultuous concourse stretched their throats,
and cheered with all their might. Though he was really in a
fair way to be torn to pieces in the general enthusiasm, the
locksmith, nothing discomposed, echoed their shouts till he
was as hoarse as they, and in a glow of joy and right good-
humour, waved his hat until the daylight shone between its
brim and crown.
But in all the bandyings from hand to hand, and strivings
to and fro, and sweepings here and there, which saving that
he looked more jolly and more radiant after every struggle
troubled his peace of mind no more than if he had been a
straw upon the water's surface, he never once released his firm
grasp of an arm, drawn tight through his. He sometimes
turned to clap this friend upon the back, or whisper in his
ear a word of staunch encouragement, or cheer him with a
smile ; but his great care was to shield him from the pressure,
and force a passage for him to the Golden Key. Passive and
timid, scared, pale, and wondering, and gazing at the throng-
as if he were newly risen from the dead, and felt himself a
ghost among the living, Barnaby not Barnaby in the spirit,
but in flesh and blood, with pulses, sinews, nerves, and beat-
ing heart, and strong affections clung to his stout old friend,
and followed where he led.
And thus, in course of time, they reached the door, held
ready for their entrance by no unwilling hands. Then slipping
in, and shutting out the crowd by main force, Gabriel stood
between Mr. Haredale and Edward Chester, and Barnaby,
rushing up the stairs, fell upon his knees beside his mother's
BARNABY SAVED. 383
" Such is the blessed end, sir, 11 cried the panting locksmith,
to Mr. Haredale, " of the best day's work we ever did. The
rogues ! it's been hard fighting to get away from 'em. I
almost thought, once or twice, they'd have been too much
for us with their kindness ! "
They had striven, all the previous day, to rescue Barnaby
from his impending fate. Failing in their attempts, in the
first quarter to which they addressed themselves, they renewed
them in another. Failing there, likewise, they began afresh
at midnight; and made their way, not only to the judge and
jury who had tried him, but to men of influence at court, to
the young Prince of Wales, and even to the ante-chamber of
the King himself. Successful, at last, in awakening an interest
in his favour, and an inclination to inquire more dispassion-
ately into his case, they had had an interview with the
minister, in his bed, so late as eight o'clock that morning.
The result of a searching inquiry (in which they, who had
known the poor fellow from his childhood, did other good
service, besides bringing it about) was, that between eleven
and twelve o'clock, a free pardon to Barnaby Rudge was
made out and signed, and entrusted to a horse-soldier for
instant conveyance to the place of execution. This courier
reached the spot just as the cart appeared in sight; and
Barnaby being carried back to jail, Mr. Haredale, assured
that all was safe, had gone straight from Bloomsbury Square
to the Golden Key, leaving to Gabriel the grateful task of
bringing him home in triumph.
"I needn't say," observed the locksmith, when he had
shaken hands with all the males in the house, and hugged all
the females, five-and forty-times, at least, " that, except among
ourselves, / didn't want to make a triumph of it. But,
directly we got into the street we were known, and this
hubbub began. Of the two," he added, as he wiped his
crimson face, " and after experience of both, I think I'd rather
be taken out of my house by a crowd of enemies, than escorted
home by a mob of friends ! "
384 BARNABY RUDGE.
It was plain enough, however, that this was mere talk on
Gabriel's part, and that the whole proceeding afforded him
the keenest delight; for the people continuing to make a
great noise without, and to cheer as if their voices were in
the freshest order, and good for a fortnight, he sent up-stairs
for Grip (who had come home at his master's back, and had
acknowledged the favours of the multitude by drawing blood
from every finger that came within his reach), and with the
bird upon his arm presented himself at the first-floor window,
and waved his hat again until it dangled by a shred, between
his finger and thumb. This demonstration having been
received with appropriate shouts, and silence being in some
degree restored, he thanked them for their sympathy ; and
taking the liberty to inform them that there was a sick
pei-son in the house, proposed that they should give three
cheers for King George, three more for Old England, and
three more for nothing particular, as a closing ceremony.
The crowd assenting, substituted Gabriel Varden for the
nothing particular; and giving him one over, for good
measure, dispersed in high good-humour.
What congratulations were exchanged among the inmates
at the Golden Key, when they were left alone ; what an over-
flowing of joy and happiness there was among them ; how
incapable it was of expression in Barnaby's own person ; and
how he went wildly from one to another, until he became so
far tranquillised, as to stretch himself on the ground beside
his mother's couch and fall into a deep sleep ; are matters
that need not be told. And it is well they happened to be
of this class, for they would be very hard to tell, were their
narration ever so indispensable.
Before leaving this bright picture, it may be well to glance
at a dark and very different one which was presented to only
a few eyes, that same night.
The scene was a churchyard ; the time, midnight ; the
persons, Edward Chester, a clergyman, a grave-digger, and
the four bearers of a homely coffin. They stood about a
THE GRAVE OF A NAMELESS MAN. 385
grave which had been newly dug, and one of the bearers
held up a dim lantern, the only light there which shed its
feeble ray upon the book of prayer. He placed it for a
moment on the coffin, when he and his companions were
about to lower it down. There was no inscription on the lid.
The mould fell solemnly upon the last house of this name-
less man ; and the rattling dust left a dismal echo even in the
accustomed ears of those who had borne it to its resting-place.
The grave was filled in to the top, and trodden down.
They all left the spot together.
"You never saw him, living?" asked the clergyman, of
"Often, years ago; not knowing him for my brother. 11
" Never since ? "
" Never. Yesterday, he steadily refused to see me. It was
urged upon him, many times, at my desire,"
" Still he refused ? That was hardened and unnatural/ 1
" Do you think so ? "
" I infer that you do not ? "
" You are right. We hear the world wonder, every day,
at monsters of ingratitude. Did it never occur to you that
it often looks for monsters of affection, as though they were
things of course?"
They had reached the gate by this time, and bidding each
other good night, departed on their separate ways.
THAT afternoon, when he had slept off his fatigue ; had
shaved, and washed, and dressed, and freshened himself from
top to toe ; when he had dined, comforted himself with a
pipe, an extra Toby, a nap in the great arm-chair, and a
quiet chat with Mrs. Varden on everything that had happened,
was happening, or about to happen, within the sphere of
their domestic concern ; the locksmith sat himself down at
the tea-table in the little back-parlour : the rosiest, cosiest,
merriest, heartiest, best-contented old buck, in Great Britain
or out of it.
There he sat, with his beaming eye on Mrs. V., and his
shining face suffused with gladness, and his capacious waist-
coat smiling in every wrinkle, and his jovial humour peeping
from under the table in the very plumpness of his legs; a
sight to turn the vinegar of misanthropy into purest milk
of human kindness. There he sat, watching his wife as she
decorated the room with flowers for the greater honour of
Dolly and Joseph Willet, who had gone out walking, and for
whom the tea-kettle had been singing gaily on the hob full
twenty minutes, chirping as never kettle chirped before; for
whom the best service of real undoubted china, patterned
with divers round-faced mandarins holding up broad umbrellas,
was now displayed in all its glory ; to tempt whose appetites
a clear, transparent, juicy ham, garnished with cool green
lettuce-leaves and fragrant cucumber, reposed upon a shady
BRIGHTNESS OF THE GOLDEN KEY. 387
table, covered with a snow-white cloth; for whose delight,
preserves and jams, crisp cakes and other pastry, short to eat,
with cunning twists, and cottage loaves, and rolls of bread
both white and brown, were all set forth in rich profusion ;
in whose youth Mrs. V. herself had grown quite young,
and stood there in a gown of red and white : symmetrical in
figure, buxom in bodice, ruddy in cheek and lip, faultless in
ankle, laughing in face and mood, in all respects delicious to
behold there sat the locksmith among all and every these
delights, the sun that shone upon them all : the centre of
the system : the source of light, heat, life, and frank enjoy-
ment in the bright household world.
And when had Dolly ever been the Dolly of that after-
noon ? To see how she came in, arm-in-arm with Joe ; and
how she made an effort not to blush or seem at all confused ;
and how she made believe she didn't care to sit on his side of
the table ; and how she coaxed the locksmith in a whisper
not to joke; and how her colour came and went in a little
restless flutter of happiness, which made her do everything
wrong, and yet so charmingly wrong that it was better than
right ! why, the locksmith could have looked on at this (as
he mentioned to Mrs. Varden when they retired for the night)
for four-and-twenty hours at a stretch, and never wished it
The recollections, too, with which they made merry over
that long protracted tea ! The glee with which the locksmith
asked Joe if he remembered that stormy night at the Maypole
when he first asked after Dolly the laugh they all had, about
that night when she was going out to the party in the sedan-
chair the unmerciful manner in which they rallied Mrs.
Varden about putting those flowers outside that very window
the difficulty Mrs. Varden found in joining the laugh against
herself, at first, and the extraordinary perception she had of
the joke when she overcame it the confidential statements
of Joe concerning the precise day and hour when he was
first conscious of being fond of Dolly, and Dolly's blushing