my case, I observed, were in readiness and waiting : three or
four Bow Street runners were standing in the Court: there
was a dock for the prisoner facing the magistrate.
The cases took little time.
There is a dreadful sameness
about the charges. The women were despatched summarily
and sent off to Bridewell : they received their sentences
with cries and lamentations, which stopped quickly enough
when they found that they could not move the magistrate :
the pickpockets were ordered to be whipped: the other
rogues were committed to prison. They were destined, for
the most part, to transportation beyond the seas. It is use-
ful for the country to get rid of its rogues: it seems also
humane to send them to a country where they may lead an
honest life. Alas ! the humanity of the law is marred by the
execution of the sentence, for though the voyage does not
last more than six or eight weeks, the gaol fever taken on
board the ship; the sea sickness; the stench; the dirt; the
foul air of the ship, commonly kill at least a third of the
poor creatures thus sent out. As for those who are left,
many of them run away from their masters : make their way
to a port, get on board a ship, and are carried back to Lon-
don, where they are fain to go back to their old companions
and resume their old habits, and get known to Mr. Merridew
and his friends, and so at last find themselves in the con-
My case came on, at last. I was placed in the dock facing
the magistrate. The clerk read to hi<m the notes of the case
provided by the chief constable.
'Your name, prisoner ?' he asked.
'I am William Halliday,' I said, 'only son of the late Sir
Peter Halliday, formerly Lord Mayor of London. I am
a musician now in the employment of Madam Vallance,
Proprietor of the Assembly Rooms in Soho Square/
The Magistrate whispered to his clerk.
Then the evidence was given. One after the other they
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 169
manfully stood up : kissed the book : and committed perjury.
Sir John Fielding asked the Doctor several questions. He
was evidently doubtful: his clerk whispered again: he
pressed the doctor as to alleged profession and position.
However, the man stuck to his tale. The fact that the purse
was found in my pocket was very strong. Then the Cap-
tain told his story.
Mr. Merridew did not attempt any disguise : he was too
well known in Court : he stated that he was a Sheriff's officer
named Merridew everybody in the court gazed upon him
with the greatest curiosity, the women whispering and look-
ing from him to me. 'Who is he?' they asked each other.
'What has he done? Do you know him do you?' The
surprise at the appearance of a stranger in the dock charged
on the evidence of the worthy sheriff's officer caused general
surprise. However, Mr. Merridew took no notice of the
whispering. He was apparently callous : he took it perhaps
as proof of popularity and admiration : he gave his evidence
in the manner of one accustomed to bear witness, as indeed
he was, having perhaps given evidence oftener than any
other living man. He stated that he had joined a stranger
to walk from the Tottenham Court Road to Charing Cross,
each carrying a cudgel for self-defence: that he observed
the action described by the worthy and learned Doctor of
Divinity from Ireland: that his companion, this gallant
young gentleman, rushed out to the rescue of the clergyman,
and so forth. So he retired with a front of iron.
Mr. Probus added to the evidence which you have already
heard the statement that he came accidentally upon the party
and after the business was over: that he happened to have
been attorney to the late Sir Peter Halliday : that he recog-
nized the robber as the unnatural son of that good man,
turned out of his father's -home for his many crimes and
vices: and that in the interest of justice ancl respect for the
laws of his country he went out of his way, and was at great
personal loss and inconvenience in order to give this evi-
The Magistrate put no questions to him. He turned to
me and asked if I had anything to say or any evidence to
I had none, except that I was no highwayman, but a
respectable musician, and that this was a conspiracy.
'You will have the opportunity/ said Sir John, 'of proving
170 The Orange Girl
the fact. Meantime, in the face of this evidence, conspiracy
or not, I have no choice but to commit you to Newgate, there
to remain until your trial/
They set me aside and the next case was called.
So you understand, there are other ways of compassing a
man's death besides simple murder. It is sufficient to enter
into a conspiracy and to charge him with an offence which,
by the laws of the country, is punishable by death.
A MAN must be made of brass or wrought-iron who can
enter the gloomy portals of Newgate as a prisoner without
a trembling of the limbs and a sinking of the heart. Not
even consciousness of innocence is sufficient to sustain a
prisoner, for alas! even the innocent are sometimes found
guilty. Once within the first doors I was fain to lay hold
upon the nearest turnkey or I should have fallen into a
swoon; a thing which, they tell me, happens with many,
for the first entrance into prison is worse to the imagination
even than the standing up in the dock to take one's trial in
open court. There is, in the external aspect of the prison :
in the gloom which hangs over the prison : in the mixture of
despair and misery and drunkenness and madness and re-
morse which fills the prison, an air which strikes terror to the
very soul. They took me into a large vaulted ante-room, lit
by windows high up, with the turnkey's private room open-
ing out of it, and doors leading into the interior parts of the
Prison. The room was filled with people waiting their turn
to visit the prisoners ; they carried baskets and packages and
bottles; their provisions, in a word, for the Prison allows
the prisoners no more than one small loaf of bread every day.
Some of the visitors were quiet, sober people: some were
women on whose cheeks lay tears : some were noisy, reckless
young men, who laughed over the coming- fate of their
friends ; spoke of Tyburn Fair ; of kicking off the shoes at
the gallows; of dying game; of Newgate music meaning
the clatter of the irons; of whining and snivelling; and so
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 171
forth. They took in wine, or perhaps rum under the name
of wine. There were also girls whose appearance and man-
ner certainly did not seem as if sorrow and sympathy with
the unfortunate had alone brought them to this place. Some
of the girls also carried bottles of wine with them in baskets.
I was then brought before the Governor who, I thought,
would perhaps hear me if I declared the truth. But I was
wrong. He barely looked at me ; he entered my name and
occupation, and the nature of the crime with which I was
charged. Then he coldly ordered me to be taken in and
The turnkey led me into a room hung with irons. 'What
side ?' he asked.
I told him I knew nothing about any sides.
'Why/ he said, 'I thought all the world knew so much.
There's the State side. If you go there you will pay for
admission three guineas; for garnish and a pair of light
irons, one guinea ; for rent of a bed half a guinea a week ;
and for another guinea you can have coals and candles, plates
and a knife. Will that suit you?' He looked disdainfully
at the dirt and blood with which I was covered, as if he
thought the State side was not for the likes of me.
'Alas !' I replied/I cannot go to the State side.'
'I thought not, by the look of you. Well, there's the mas-
ter's side next; the fee for admission is only thirteen and
sixpence : irons, half a guinea : the rent of a bed or part of
a bed half a crown, and as for your food, what you like to
order and pay for. No credit at this tavern, which is the
sign of the Clinking Iron. Will that suit you ?'
'No, I can pay nothing.'
'Then why waste time asking questions? There's the
common side ; you've g^t to go into that, and very grateful
you ought to be that there is a common side at all for such a
filthy Beast as you/
My choice must needs be the last because I had no money
at all: not a single solitary shilling my obliging friends
when they put their purse into my pocket as a proof of the
alleged robbery, abstracted my own which no doubt the
worthy Professor of Sacred Theology had in his pocket
while he was explaining the nature of the attack to the Con-
The turnkey while he grumbled about waste of time a
prisoner ought to say at once if he had no money: officers
172 The Orange Girl
of the Prison were not paid to tell stories to every ragged,
filthy footpad; the common side was as good as any other
on the way to Tyburn: what could a ragamuffin covered
with blood and filth expect ? picked out a pair of irons : they
were the rustiest and the heaviest that he could find : as he
hammered them on he said that for half a crown he would
drive the rivet into my heel only that he would rob his friend
Jack Ketch of the pleasure of turning off a poor whining
devil who came into Newgate without a copper. 'Damme !'
he cried, as he finished his work, 'if I believe you ever tried
to rob anyone !'
'I did not/ I replied. At which he laughed, recovering
his good temper, and opening a door shoved me through and
shut it behind me.
The common side of Newgate is a place which, though I
was in it no more than two hours or so, remains fixed in my
memory and will stay there as long as life remains. The
yard was filled to overflowing with a company of the vilest,
the filthiest, and the most shameless that it is possible to
imagine. They were pickpockets, footpads, shoplifters, rob-
bers of every kind ; they were in rags ; they were unwashed
and unshaven; some of them were drunk; some of them
were emaciated by insufficient food a penny loaf a day was
doled out to those who had no money and no friends : that
was actually all that the poor wretches had to keep body and
soul together : the place was crowded not only with the pris-
oners, but with their friends and relations of both sexes;
the noise, the cursings, the ribald laugh ; the drunken song ;
the fighting and quarrelling can never be imagined. And, in
the narrow space of the yard which is like the bottom of a
deep well, there is no air moving, so that the stench is
enough, at first, to make a horse sick.
I can liken it to nothing but a sty too narrow for the swine
that crowded it ; so full of unclean beasts was it, so full of
noise and pushing and quarrelling: so full of passions, jeal-
ousies, and suspicions ungoverned, was it. Or I would liken
it to a chamber in hell when the sharp agony of physical suf-
fering is for a while changed for the equal pains of such
companionship and such discourse as those of the common
side. I stood near the door as the turnkey had pushed me
in, staring stupidly about. Some sat on the stone bench with
tobacco-pipes and pots of beer: some played cards on the
bench : some walked about : there were women visitors, but
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 173
not one whose face showed shame or sorrow. To such
people as these Newgate is like an occasional attack of sick-
ness; a whipping is but one symptom of the disease: im-
prisonment is the natural cure of the disease; hanging is
only the natural common and inevitable end when the disease
is incurable, just as death in his bed happens to a man with
While I looked about me, a man stepped out of the crowd.
'Garnish !' he cried, holding out his hand. Then they all
crowded round, crying 'Garnish! garnish!' I held up my
hands : I assured them that I was penniless. The man who
had first spoken waved back the others with his hand.
'Friend/ he said, 'if you have no money, oft with your coat.'
'Then, I know not what happened, because I think I must
have fallen into a kind of fit. When I recovered I was lying
along the stone bench: my coat was gone: my waistcoat
was gone ; my shirt was in rags ; my shoes on which were
silver buckles, were gone ; and my stockings, which were of
black silk. My head was in a woman's lap.
'Well done,' she said, 'I thought you'd come round. 'Twas
the touching of the wound on your head. Brutes and beasts
you are, all of you ! all of you ! One comfort is you'll all be
hanged, and that very soon. It'll be a happy world without
'Come, Nan/ one of the men said, 'you know it's the rule.
If a gentleman won't pay his garnish he must give up his
'Give up his coat ! You've stripped him to the skin. And
him with an open wound in his head bleeding again like a
The people melted away : they offered no further apology ;
but the coat and the rest of the things were not returned.
My good Samaritan, to judge by her dress and appearance,
was one of the commonest of common women the wife or
the mistress of a Gaol-bird; the companion of thieves; the
accomplice of villains. Yet there was left on her still, what-
ever the habit of her life, this touch of human kindness that
made her come to the assistance of a helpless stranger. No
Christian could have done more. 'Forasmuch/ said Christ,
'as you did it unto one of these you did it unto Me/ When I
read these words I think of this poor woman, and I pray for
'Lie still a minute/ she said, 'I will stanch the bleeding
1/4 The Orange Girl
with a little gin/ she pulled out a flat bottle. 'It is good
gin. I will pour a little on the wound. That can't hurt
so.' But it did hurt. 'Now, my pretty gentleman, for you
are a gentleman, though maybe only a gentleman rider and
woundily in want of a wash. Take a sip for yourself, don't
be afraid. Take a long sip. I brought it here for my man,
but he's dead. He died in the night after a fight in the yard
here. He got a knife between his ribs,' she spoke of this
occurrence as if such a conclusion to a fight was quite in the
common way. 'Look here, sir, you've no business in this
place. Haven't you got any friends to pay for the Master's
side ? Now you're easier, and the bleeding has stopped. Can
you stand, do you think ?'
I made a shift to get to my feet, shivering in the cold damp
November air. She had a bundle laying on the bench. "Tis
my man's clothes,' she said. 'Take his coat and shoes. You
must. Else with nothing but the boards to sleep upon you'll
be starved to death. Now I must go and tell his friends that
my man is dead. Well he won't be hanged. I never did
like to think that I should be the widow of a Tyburn bird/
She put on me the warm thick coat that had been her hus-
band's ; she put on his shoes. I was still stupid and dull of
understanding. But I tried to thank her.
Some weeks afterwards, when I was at length released, I
ventured back into the prison in hopes of finding the name
and the residence of the woman Samaritan, if ever there
was one. The turnkeys could tell me nothing. The gaol was
full of women, they said. My friend was named Nan.
They were all Nans. She was the wife of a prisoner who
died in the place. They were always dying on the common
side. That was nothing. They all know each other by
name; but it was six weeks ago; prisoners change every
day ; they are brought in ; they are sent out to be hanged,
pilloried, whipped or transported. In a word they knew
nothing and would not take the trouble to inquire. What
did it matter to these men made callous by intimacy with suf-
fering, that a woman of the lower kind had done a kind and
charitable action? Nevertheless, we have Christ's own as-
surance His words His promise. The woman's action
will be remembered on the day when her sins shall be passed
before a merciful Judge. Her sins! Alas! she was what
she was brought up to be ; her sins lie upon the head of those
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 1 75
who suffer her, and those like to her, to grow up without re-
ligion, or virtue, or example, or admonition.
By this time I was growing faint with hunger as well as
with loss of blood and fatigue. I had taken nothing for
fourteen hours ; namely, since supper the evening before the
attack. The first effect of hunger is to stop the power of
thought. There fell upon me a feeling of carelessness as if
nothing mattered: the night in the watch-house: the ap-
pearance before the magistrate: my reception on the com-
mon side: all passed across my brain as if they belonged to
someone else. I rose with difficulty, but staggered and fell
back upon the bench. My head was light : I seemed strangely
happy. This lightness of head was quickly followed by a
drowsiness which became stupor. How long I lay there I
know not. I remember nothing until a heavy hand was laid
on my shoulder. 'Come/ it was the voice of a turnkey.
'This is not the kind of place for an afternoon nap in No-
vember. Come this way. A lady wants to see you/
He led me to the door of the common side: and threw
it open: in the waiting-room was none other than Jenny
herself. How had she learned what had happened?
'Oh! my poor Will!' she cried, the tears running down
her cheeks. 'This is even worse than I expected. But first
you must be made comfortable. Here, you fellow/ she called
the turnkey. 'Take him away. I will pay for everything.
Let him be washed and get his wound dressed ; give him a
clean shirt and get him at once new clothes/
'If your ladyship pleases '
'Change these rusty irons for the lightest you have. Put
him into the best cell that you have on the State side. Get a
dinner for him : anything that is quickest cold beef ham
bread a bottle of Madeira. Go quick/ She stamped her
foot with authority; she put into the man's hand enough
money to pay for half a dozen prisoners on the State side.
'Now, fly don't crawl fly! one would think you were
all asleep. A pretty place this is to sleep in !'
The man knocked off my heavy irons and substituted a
pair of lighter ones, highly polished and even ornamental.
He took me away and washed me ; it was in the turnkeys'
room on the right hand of the entrance ; he also with some
dexterity dressed my wound, dressed and cleaned my hair ,
it was rilled with clotted blood; he fitted me with new'
clothes, and in less time than one would think possible, I
176 The Orange Girl
was taken back looking once more like a respectable person,
even a gentleman if I chose to consider myself entitled to
claim that empty rank. I found Jenny waiting for me in
the best cell that Newgate could offer on the State side : a
meal was spread for me, with a bottle of wine.
'Before we say a word, Will, sit down and eat. Heavens !
You have had nothing since our supper last night/
I checked an impulse to thank her: I drove back the
swelling in my heart. Reader I was too hungry for thes'j
emotions : I had first to satisfy starving nature. While I ate
and drank Jenny talked.
'You shall tell me the whole story presently, Will. Mean-
time, go on with your dinner. You must want it, my poor
friend. Now let me tell you why I am here. You know I
was uneasy about the conspiracy that was hatching. I feared
it might be meant for you. So great was my uneasiness that
I bade my sister to keep watching and listening : this morn-
ing about one o'clock I went to the Black Jack myself to
learn if she had discovered anything.
'Well, she had discovered everything. She said that at
eleven o'clock this morning the two fellows called the Bishop
and the Captain, whom I had taken out of the King's Bench,
came to the Black Jack, laughing and very merry : they called
for a mug of purl and a pack of cards: that while they
played they talked out loud because there was no one in the
house except themselves. Doll they disregarded as they al-
ways do, because Doll is generally occupied with her slate
and her scores, which she adds up as wrong as she can. They
said that it was as good as a play to see the Attorney playing
the indignant friend of the family, and how their own evi-
dence could not possibly be set aside, and the case was as
good as finished and done with ; that the fellow went off to
Newgate as dumb as an ox to the shambles; and the poor
devil had no money and no friends, and must needs swing,
and the whole job was as clean and creditable piece of work
as had ever been turned out. It must be hanging: nobody
could get him off. Then they fell to wondering as well,
what Mr. Probus had done it for; and what he would get
by it ; and whether (a speculation which pleased them most)
he had not put himself into Mr. Merridew's power, in which
case they might have the holy joy of seeing the attorney him-
self, when his rope was out, sitting in the cart. And they
congratulated each other on their own share in the job ; ten
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 1 77
guineas apiece, down, and a promise of more when the man
was out of the way : with a long extension of time.' I con-
dense Jenny's narrative which was long, and I alter the lan-
guage which was wandering.
'When Doll told me all this/ she concluded, 'I had no
longer any doubt that the man whom they had succeeded in
placing in Newgate was none other than yourself, my poor
Will so I took a coach and drove here.'
I then told her exactly how everything had happened.
'I hope/ she said, 'that Matthew, if he is in the conspiracy,
does not know what has been done. Besides, the chief gainer
will be Probus, not Matthew. Remember, Will, it is just a
race ; if he can compass your death before Matthew becomes
bankrupt, then he will get back all his money all his money.
Think of that : if not, he will lose the whole. Well, Will, he
thinks nobody knows except himself. He is mistaken. We
shall see we shall see/ So she fell to considering again.
'If there is a loophole of escape/ she went on, 'he will
wriggle out. Let us think. What do we know?'
'We only know through Ramage/ I replied. 'Is that
enough to prove the conspiracy? I know what those two
men are who are the leading witnesses how can I prove it ?
I know that they were suborned by Probus and that they are
in the power of Merridew. How can I prove it? I know
that Probus has talked to my cousin about my possible death,
but what does that prove? I know that he will benefit by
my death to the amount of many thousands, but how can I
prove it? My mouth will be closed. Where are my wit-
'You can't prove anything, Will. And therefore you had
better not try/
'Jenny/ The tears came to my unmanly eyes. 'Leave
me. Go, break the news to Alice, and prepare her mind to
see me die/
'I will break the news to Alice, but I will not prepare her
mind to see you die. For, my dear cousin, you shall not die/
She spoke with assurance. She was standing up and she
brought her hand down upon the table with a slap which with
her flashing eyes and coloured cheek inspired confidence for
the moment. 'You shall not die by the conspiracy of these
'How to prevent them ?'
' 'It would be easy if their friends would bear evidence
178 The Orange Girl
against them. But they will not. They will sit in the Court
and admire the tragic perjuries of the witnesses. There is
one rule among my people which is never broken ; no .one
must peach on his brother. Shall dog bite dog? If that
rule is broken it is never forgiven never so long as the
'Then, what can we do ?'
'The short way would be to buy them. But in this respect
they cannot be bought. They will rob or murder or perjure
themselves with cheerfulness, but they will not peach on their
brother. Money will not tempt them. Jealousy might, but
there are no women in this case. Revenge might, but there
is here no private quarrel. Besides, they are all in the hands
of the man Merridew. To thwart him would bring certain
destruction on their heads. And if there was any other rea-
son, they are naturally anxious to avoid a Court of Justice.
They would rather see their own children hanged than go
into a court to give evidence, true or false/
'Then I must suffer, Jenny/
'Nay, Will, I said not so much -I was only putting the
case before myself. I see many difficulties but there is al-
ways a way out always an end/
'Always an end/ I repeated. 'Oh! Jenny. What an
A Newgate fit was on me; that is, a fit of despondency
which is almost despair. All the inmates of Newgate know
what it means ; the rattling of the irons ; the recollection of
the trial to come; a word that jars; and the Newgate shud-
dering seizes a man and shakes him up and down till it is
spent. Jenny made me drink a glass of wine. The fit passed
'I feel/ I said at last, 'as if the rope was already round my