Edgar Allan Poe.

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During the struggle, Mr. Haredale grasps the cord
of an alarm-bell which hangs within his reach, but
succeeds in sounding it only once or twice, when it is
severed by the knife of the ruffian, who then, com
pleting his bloody business, and securing the money,
proceeds to quit the chamber. While doing this,
however, he is disconcerted by meeting the gardener,
whose pallid countenance evinces suspicion of the
deed committed. The murderer is thus forced to
kill his fellow servant. Having done so, the idea
strikes him of transferring the burden of the crime
from himself. He dresses the corpse of the gardener
in his own clothes, puts upon its finger his own ring,
and in its pocket his own watch then drags it to a
pond in the grounds, and throws it in. He now
returns to the house, and, disclosing all to his wife,
requests her to become a partner in his flight.
Horror-stricken, she falls to the ground. He at
tempts to raise her. She seizes his wrist, staining
her hand with blood in the attempt. She renounces
him forever; yet promises to conceal the crime.
Alone, he flees the country. The next morning,
Mr. Haredale being found murdered, and the stew
ard and gardener being both missing, both are sus
pected. Mrs. Rudge leaves The Warren, and re
tires to an obscure lodging in London (where she



30 EDGAR ALLAN POE

lives upon an annuity allowed her by Haredale)
having given birth, on the very day after the murder,
to a son, Barnaby Rudge, who proves an idiot, who
bears upon his wrist a red mark, and who is born
possessed with a maniacal horror of blood.

Some months since the assassination having
elapsed, what appears to be the corpse of Rudge is
discovered, and the outrage is attributed to the
gardener. Yet not universally: for, as Geoffrey
Haredale comes into possession of the estate, there
are not wanting suspicions (fomented by Chester)
of his own participation in the deed. This taint of
suspicion, acting upon his hereditary gloom, together
with the natural grief and horror of the atrocity,
embitters the whole life of Haredale. He secludes
himself at The Warren, and acquires a monomaniac
acerbity of temper relieved only by love of his
beautiful niece.

Time wears away.- Twenty- two years pass by.
The niece has ripened in womanhood, and loves young
Chester without the knowledge of her uncle or the
youth s father. Hugh has grown a stalwart man
the type of man the animal, as his father is of man
the ultra-civilized. Rudge, the murderer, retunis,
urged to his undoing by Fate. He appears at the
Maypole and inquires stealthily of the circumstances
which have occurred at The Warren in his absence.
He proceeds to London, discovers the dwelling of his
wife, threatens her with the betrayal of her idiot
son into vice and extorts from her the bounty of
Haredale. Revolting at such appropriation of
such means, the widow, with Barnaby, again seeks
The Warren, renounces the annuity, and, refusing
to assign any reason for her conduct, states her in
tention of quitting London forever, and of burying
herself in some obscure retre n L a retreat which she



CHARLES DICKENS 31

begs Haredale not to attempt discovering. When
he seeks her in London the next day, she is gone ; and
there are no tidings, either of herself or of Barnaby;
until the expiration of five years which bring the
time up to that of the celebrated "No Popery"
Riots of Lord George Gordon.

In the meanwhile, and immediately subsequent
to the reappearance of Rudge, Haredale and the
Jder Chester, each heartily desirous of preventing
^* union of Edward and Emma, have entered into
a covenant, the result of which is that, by means of
treachery on the part of Chester, permitted on that
of Haredale, the lovers misunderstand each other
and are estranged. Joe, also, the son of the inn
keeper, Willet, having been coquetted with, to too
great an extent, by Dolly Varden, (the pretty
daughter of one Gabriel Varden, a locksmith of
Clerkenwell, London) and having been otherwise
maltreated at home, enlists in his Majesty s army
and is carried beyond seas, to America; not returning
until towards the close of the riots. Just before their
commencement, Rudge, in a midnight prowl about
the scene of his atrocity, is encountered by an indi
vidual who had been familiar with him in earlier
life, while living at The Warren. This individual,
terrified at what he supposes, very naturally, to be
the ghost of the murdered Rudge, relates his ad
venture to his companions at the Maypole, and John
Willet conveys the intelligence, forthwith, to Mr.
Haredale. Connecting the apparition, in his own
mind, with the peculiar conduct of Mrs. Rudge, this
gentleman imbibes a suspicion, at once,. of the true
state of affairs. This suspicion (which he mentions
to no one) is, moreover, very strongly confirmed by
an occurrence happening to Varden, the locksmith,
who, visiting the woman late one night, finds her in



32 EDGAR ALLAN POE

communion of a nature apparently most confidential,
with a ruffian whom the locksmith knows to be such,
without knowing the man himself. Upon an at
tempt, on the part of Varden, to seize this ruffian,
he is thwarted by Mrs. R.; and upon Haredale s
inquiring minutely into the personal appearance
of the man, he is found to accord with Rudge. We
have already shown that the ruffian was in fact
Rudge himself. Acting upon the suspicion thus
aroused, Haredale watches, by night, alone, in the
deserted house formerly occupied by Mrs. R. in hcpe
of here coming upon the murderer, and makes other
exertions with the view of arresting him; but all in
vain.

It is, also, at the conclusion of the five years, that
the hitherto uninvaded retreat of Mrs. Rudge is dis
turbed by a message from her husband, demanding
money. He has discovered her abode by accident.
Giving him what she has at the time, she afterwards
eludes him, and hastens, with Barnaby, to bury
herself in the crowd of London, until she can find
opportunity again to seek retreat in some more dis
tant region of England. But the riots have now
begun. The idiot is beguiled into joining the mob,
and, becoming separated from his mother (who,
growing ill through grief, is borne to a hospital)
meets with his old playmate Hugh, and becomes with
him a ringleader in the rebellion.

The riots proceed. A conspicuous part is borne in
them by one Simon Tappertit, a fantastic and con
ceited little apprentice of Varden s, and a sworn
enemv to Toe Willet, who has rivalled him in the
affection of Dolly. A hangman, Dennis, is also
very busy amid the mob. Lord George Gordon,
and his secretary, Gashford, with John Grueby,
his servant, appear, of course, upon the scene.



33

Old Chester, who, during the five years, has become
Sir John, instigates Gashford, who has received per
sonal insult from Haredale, (a catholic and con
sequently obnoxious to the mob) instigates Gashford
to procure the burning of The Warren, and to abduct
Emma during the excitement ensuing. The mansion
is burned, (Hugh, who also fancies himself wronged
by Haredale, being chief actor in the outrage)
and Miss H. carried off, in company with Dolly, who
had long lived with her, and whom Tappertit ab
ducts upon his own responsibility. Rudge, in the
meantime, finding the eye of Haredale upon him,
(since he has become aware of the watch kept nightly
at his wife s) goaded by the dread of solitude, and
fancying that his sole chance of safety lies in joining
the rioters, hurries upon their track to the doomed
Warren. He arrives too late the mob have de
parted. Skulking about the ruins, he is discovered
by Haredale, and finally captured without a struggle,
within the glowing walls of the very chamber in
which the deed was committed. He is conveyed to
prison, where he meets and recognizes Barnaby,
who had been captured as a rioter. The mob assail
and burn the jail. The father and son escape.
Betrayed by Dennis, both are again retaken, and
Hugh shares their fate. In Newgate, Dennis,
through accident, discovers the parentage of Hugh,
and an effort is made in vain to interest Chester in
behalf of his son. Finally, Varden procures the
pardon of Barnaby; but Hugh, Rudge, and Dennis,
are hung. At the eleventh hour, Joe returns from
abroad with one arm. In companv with Edward
Chester, he oerfortns prodigies of valor (during tiie
*& riots) on behalf of the government. The two,
with Haredale and Varden, rescue Emma and Dolly.
A. double marriage, of course, takes place; for Dolly

VOL. VII 3



34 EDGAR ALLAN POE

has repented her fine airs, and the prejudices of
Haredale are overcome. Having killed Chester in a
duel, he quits England forever, and ends his days in
the seclusion of an Italian convent. Thus, after
summary disposal of the understrappers, ends the
drama of "Barnaby Rudge."

We have given, as may well be supposed, but
a very meagre outline of the story, and we have
given it in the simple or natural sequence. That is
to say, we have related the events, as nearly as might
be, in the order of their occurrence. But this order
would by no means have suited the purpose of the
novelist, whose design has been to maintain the
secret of the murder, and the consequent mystery
which encircles Rudge, and the actions of his wife,
until the catastrophe of his discovery by Haredale.
The thesis of the novel may thus be regarded as
based upon curiosity. Every point is so arranged as
to perplex the reader, and whet his desire for eluci
dation: frv example, the first appearance of Rudge
at the Maypole ; his questions ; his persecution of Mrs.
R. ; the ghost seen by the frequenter of the Maypole ;
and Haredale s impressive conduct in consequence.
What we have told, in the very beginning of our
digest, in regard to the shifting of the gardener s
dress, is sedulously kept from the reader s knowledge
until he learns it from Rudge s own confession in
jail. We say sedulously; for, the intention once
known, the traces of the design can be found upon
every page. There is an amusing and exceedingly
ngenious instance at page 145, where Solomon
Daisy describes his adventure with the ghost.

" It was a ghost a spirit," cried Daisy.
" Whose?" they all three asked together.
In the excess of his emotion (for he fell back trembling
in his chair and waved his hand as if entreating them to



CHARLES DICKENS 35

question him no farther) his answer was lost upon all but

old John Willet, who happened to be seated close beside

him.

"Who!" cried Parkes and Tom Cobb "Who was it?"
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Willet, after a long pause,

" you needn t ask. The likeness of a murdered man. This

is the nineteenth of March."
A profound silence ensued.

The impression here skilfully conveyed is, that the
ghost seen is that of Reuben Haredale; and the
mind of the not-too-acute reader is at once averted
from the true state of the case from the tr/urderer,
Rudge, living in the body.

Now there can be no question that, by such means
as these, many points which are comparatively in
sipid in the natural sequence of our digest, and
which would have been comparatively insipid even
if given in full detail in a natural sequence, are en~
dued with the interest of mystery; but neither can
it be denied that a vast many more points are at the
same time deprived of all effect, and become null,
through the impossibility of comprehending them
without the key. The author, who, cognizant of his
plot, writes with this cognizance continually oper-
ating upon him, and thus writes to himself m spite of
himself, does not, of course, feel that much of what
is effective to his own informed perception, must
necessarily be lost upon his uninformed readers ; and
he himself is never in condition, as regards his own
work, to bring the matter to test. But the reader
may easily satisfy himself of the validity of our
objection. Let him re-peruse "Barnaby Rudge,"
and with a pre-comprehension of the mystery, these
points of which we speak break out in all directions
like stars, and throw quadruple brilliance over the
narrative a brilliance which a correct taste will at



36 EDGAR ALLAN POE

once declare unprofitably sacrificed at the shrine
of the keenest interest of mere mystery.

The design of mystery, however, being once deter
mined upon by an author, it becomes imperative,
first, that no undue or inartistical means be employed
to conceal the secret of the plot ; and, secondly, that
the secret be well kept. Now, when, at page 16,
we read that "the body of poor Mr. Rudge, the
steward, was found" months after the outrage, &c.,
we see that Mr. Dickens has been guilty of no mis
demeanor against Art in stating what was not the
fact; since the falsehood is put into the mouth of
Solomon Daisy, and given merely as the impression
of this individual and of the public. The writer has
not asserted it in his own person, but ingeniously
conveyed an idea (false in itself, yet a belief in
which is necessary for the effect of the tale) by the
mouth of one of his characters. The case is different,
however, when Mrs. Rudge is repeatedly denomi
nated "the widow." It is the author who, himself,
frequently so terms her. This is disingenuous and
inartistical: accidentally so, of course. We speak
of the matter merely by way of illustrating our
point, and as an oversight on the part of Mr.
Dickens.

That the secret be well kept is obviously necessary.
A failure to preserve it until the proper moment
of denouement, throws all into confusion, so far as
regards the effect intended. If the mystery leak out,
against the author s will, his purposes are immedi
ately at odds and ends ; for he proceeds upon the sup
position that certain impressions do exist, which do
not exist, in the mind of his readers. We are not
prepared to say, so positively as we could wish,
whether, by the public at large, the whole mystery of
the murder committed by Rudge, with the identity



CHARLES DICKENS 37

of the Maypole ruffian with Rudge himself, was fath
omed at any period previous to the period intended,
or, if so, whether at a per- vj so early as materially
to interfere with the interest designed; but we are
forced, through sheer modesty, to suppose this the
case ; since, by ourselves individually, the secret was
distinctly understood immediately upon the peru
sal of the story of Solomon Daisy, which occurs at the
seventh page of this volume of three hundred and
twenty- three. In the number of the "Philadelphia
Saturday Evening Post," for May the first, 1841,
(the tale having then only begun) will be found a
prospective notice of some length, in which we made
use of the following words :

That Barnaby is the son of the murderer may not appear
evident to our readers but we will explain. The person
murdered is Mr. Reuben Haredale. He was found
assassinated in his bed-chamber. His steward, (Mr. Rudge,
senior,) and his gardener (name not mentioned) are missing.
At first both are suspected. "Some months afterward"
here we use the words of the story " the steward s body,
scarcely to be recognized but by his clothes, and the watch
and ring he wore was found at the bottom of a piece of
water in the grounds, with a deep gash in the breast, where
he had been stabbed by a knife. He was only partly
dressed; and all people agreed that he had been sitting up
reading in his own room, where there were many traces of
blood, and was suddenly fallen upon and killed, before his
master."

Now, be it observed, it is not the author himself who
asserts that the steward s body was found; he has put the
words in the mouth of one of his characters. His design
is to make it appear, in the denouement, that the steward,
Rudge, first murdered the gardener, then went to his master s
chamber, murdered him, was interrupted by his (Rudge s)
wife, whom he seized and held by the wrist, to prevent her
giving the alarm that he then, after possessing himself of
the booty desired, returned to the gardener s room, ex
changed clothes with him, put upon the corpse his OWM



3 8 EDGAR ALLAN POE

watch and ring, and secreted it where it was afterwards
discovered at so late a period that the features could not be
identified.

The differences between our preconceived ideas, as
here stated, and the actual facts of the story, will
be found immaterial. The gardener was murdered,
not before but after his master, and that Rudge s
wife seized him by the wrist, instead of his seizing
her, has so much the air of mistake on the part of
Mr. Dickens, that we can scarcely speak of our
own version as erroneous. The grasp of a murder
er s bloody hand on the wrist of a woman enciente,
would have been more likely to produce the effect
described (and this every one will allow) than the
grasp of the hand of the woman upon the wrist of
the assassin. We may therefore say of our suppo
sition as Talleyrand said of some cockney s bad
French que s il ne soit pas Frangais, assurtiment
done il le doit etre that if we did not rightly prophecy,
yet, at least, our prophecy should have been
right.

We are informed in the Preface to "Barnaby
Rudge " that "no account of the Gordon Riots having
been introduced into any work of fiction, and the
subject presenting very extraordinary and remark
able features," our author "was led to project this
tale." Buc ^r this distinct announcement (for
Mr. Dickens can scarcely have deceived himself) we
should have looked upon the riots as altogether an
afterthought. It is evident that they have no
necessary connexion with the story. In our digest,
which carefully includes all essentials of the plot,
we have dismissed the doings of the mob in a para
graph. The whole event or the drama would have
proceeded as well without as with them. They have
even the appearance of being forcibly introduced.



CHARLES DICKENS 39

In our compendium above, it will be seen that we
emphasized several allusions to an interval of five
years. The action is brought up to a certain point.
The train of events is, so far, uninterrupted nor
is there any apparent need of interruption yet
all characters are now thrown forward for a period
of five years. And why? We ask in vain. It is
not to bestow upon the lovers a more decorous ma
turity of age for this is the only possible idea which
suggests itself Edward Chester is already eight-and-
twenty, and Emma Haredale would, in America at
least, be upon the list of old maids. No there is no
such reason; nor does there appear to be any one
more plausible than that, as it is now the year of our
Lord 1775, an advance of five years will bring the
dramatis persona up to a very remarkable period,
affording an admirable opportunity for their display
the period, in short, of the "No Popery" riots.
This was the idea with which we were forcibly im
pressed in perusal, and which nothing less than Mr.
Dickens positive assurance to the contrary would
have been sufficient to eradicate.

It is, perhaps, but one of a thousand instances of
the disadvantages, both to the author and the public,
of the present absurd fashion of periodical novel-
writing, that our author had not sufficiently consid
ered or determined upon any particular plot when he
began the story now under review. In fact, we see,
or fancy that we see, numerous traces of indecision
traces which a dexterous supervision of the complete
work might have erabled him to erase. We have
already spoken of the intermission of a lustrum.
The opening speeches of old Chester are by far too
truly gentlemanly for his subsequent character. The
wife of Varden, al. j, is too wholesale a shrew to be
converted into the quiet wife the original design was



40 EDGAR ALLAN POE

to punish her. At page 16, we read thus Solomon
Daisy is telling his story:

"I put as good a face upon it as I could, and muffling
myself up, started out with a lighted lantern in one hand and
the key of the church in the other" at this point of the
narrative, the dress of the strange man rustled as if he had
turned to hear more distinctly.

Here the design is to call the reader s attention to a
point in the tale; but no subsequent explanation is
made. Again, in a few lines below

The houses were all shut up, and the folks in doors, and
perhaps there is only one man in the world who knows how
dark it really was.

Here the intention is still more evident, but there
is no result. Again, at page 54, the idiot draws
Mr. Chester to the window, and directs his attention
to the cloths hanging upon the lines in the yard

"Look down," he said softly; "do you mark how they
whisper in each other s ears, then dance and leap to make
believe they are in sport? Do you see how they stop fora
moment, when they think there is no one looking, and
mutter among themselves again; and then how they roll
and gambol, delighted with the mischief they ve been
plotting? Look at em now! See how they whirl and
plunge. And now they stop again, and whisper cautiously
together little thinking, mind, how often I have lain upon
the ground and watched them. I say what is it that they
plot and hatch ? Do you know ?

Upon perusal of these ravings, we at once supposed
them to have allusion to some real plotting; and
even now we cannot force ourselves to believe them
ncc so intended. They suggested the opinion that
Haredale himself would be implicated in the murder,
and that the counsellings alluded to might be those
of that gentleman with Rudge. It is by no means
impossible that some such conception wavered in



CHARLES DICKENS 41

the mind of the author. At page 32 we have a
confirmation of our idea, when Varden endeavors
to arrest the murderer in the house of his wife

"Come back come back!" exclaims the woman, wrest
ling with and clasping him. " Do not touch him on your
life. He carries other lives beside his own"

The denouement fails to account for this ex
clamation.

In the beginning of the story much emphasis is
placed upon the two female servants of Haredale,
and upon his journey to and from London, as well
as upon his wife. We have merely said, in our
digest, that he was a widower, italicizing the remark.
All these other points are, in fact, singularly irrele
vant, in the supposition that the original design has
not undergone modification.

Again, at page 57, when Haredale talks of "his
dismantled and beggared hearth" we cannot help
fancying that the author had in view some different
wrong, or series of wrongs, perpetrated by Chester,
than any which appear in the end. This gentleman,
too, takes extreme and freauent pains to acquire
dominion over the rough Hugh this matter is
particularly insisted upon by the novelist we look,
of course, for some important result but the filch
ing of a letter is nearly all that is accomplished.
That Barnaby s delight in the desperate scenes of
the rebellion, is inconsistent with his horror of blood,
will strike every reader; and this inconsistency
seems to be the consequence of the after-thought
upon which we have already commented. In fact,
the title of the work, the elaborate and pointed
manner of the commencement, the impressive de
scription of The Warren, and especially of Mrs.
Rudge, go far to show that Mr. Dickens has really



42 EDGAR ALLAN POE

deceived himself that the soul of the plot, as
originally conceived, was the murder of Haredale,
with the subsequent discovery of the murderer in
Rudge but that this idea was afterwards aban
doned, or rather suffered to be merged in that of the
Popish riots. The result has been most unfavorable.
That which, of itself, would have proved highly effect
ive, has been rendered nearly null by its situation.
In the multitudinous outrage and horror of the
Rebellion, the one atrocity is utterly whelmed and
extinguished.

The reasons of this deflection from the first pur
pose appear to us self-evident. One of them we
have already mentioned. The other is that our
author discovered, when too late, that he had an
ticipated, and thus rendered valueless, his chief effect.
This will be readily understood. The particulars of
the assassination being withheld, the strength of
the narrator is put forth, in the beginning of the
story, to whet curiosity in respect to these particu
lars; and, so far, he is but in proper pursuance of
his main design. But from this intention he unwit
tingly passes into the error of exaggerating anticipa
tion. And error though it be, it is an error wrought
with consummate skill. What, for example, could
more vividly enhance our impression of the unknown
horror enacted, than the deep and enduring gloom
of Haredale than the idiot s inborn awe of blood
or, especially, than the expression of countenance so


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