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Charles Dickens > A Tale Of Two Cities > Book 2 - 3

A Tale Of Two Cities

Book 2 - 3

A Disappointment

Mr. Attorney-General had to inform the jury, that the prisoner before
them, though young in years, was old in the treasonable practices
which claimed the forfeit of his life. That this correspondence with
the public enemy was not a correspondence of to-day, or of yesterday,
or even of last year, or of the year before. That, it was certain
the prisoner had, for longer than that, been in the habit of passing
and repassing between France and England, on secret business of which
he could give no honest account. That, if it were in the nature of
traitorous ways to thrive (which happily it never was), the real
wickedness and guilt of his business might have remained undiscovered.
That Providence, however, had put it into the heart of a person who
was beyond fear and beyond reproach, to ferret out the nature of the
prisoner's schemes, and, struck with horror, to disclose them to his
Majesty's Chief Secretary of State and most honourable Privy Council.
That, this patriot would be produced before them. That, his position
and attitude were, on the whole, sublime. That, he had been the
prisoner's friend, but, at once in an auspicious and an evil hour
detecting his infamy, had resolved to immolate the traitor he could
no longer cherish in his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country.
That, if statues were decreed in Britain, as in ancient Greece and
Rome, to public benefactors, this shining citizen would assuredly
have had one. That, as they were not so decreed, he probably would
not have one. That, Virtue, as had been observed by the poets (in
many passages which he well knew the jury would have, word for word,
at the tips of their tongues; whereat the jury's countenances
displayed a guilty consciousness that they knew nothing about the
passages), was in a manner contagious; more especially the bright
virtue known as patriotism, or love of country. That, the lofty
example of this immaculate and unimpeachable witness for the Crown,
to refer to whom however unworthily was an honour, had communicated
itself to the prisoner's servant, and had engendered in him a holy
determination to examine his master's table-drawers and pockets, and
secrete his papers. That, he (Mr. Attorney-General) was prepared to
hear some disparagement attempted of this admirable servant; but that,
in a general way, he preferred him to his (Mr. Attorney-General's)
brothers and sisters, and honoured him more than his
(Mr. Attorney-General's) father and mother. That, he called with
confidence on the jury to come and do likewise. That, the evidence
of these two witnesses, coupled with the documents of their
discovering that would be produced, would show the prisoner to have
been furnished with lists of his Majesty's forces, and of their
disposition and preparation, both by sea and land, and would leave no
doubt that he had habitually conveyed such information to a hostile
power. That, these lists could not be proved to be in the prisoner's
handwriting; but that it was all the same; that, indeed, it was
rather the better for the prosecution, as showing the prisoner to be
artful in his precautions. That, the proof would go back five years,
and would show the prisoner already engaged in these pernicious
missions, within a few weeks before the date of the very first action
fought between the British troops and the Americans. That, for these
reasons, the jury, being a loyal jury (as he knew they were), and
being a responsible jury (as THEY knew they were), must positively
find the prisoner Guilty, and make an end of him, whether they liked
it or not. That, they never could lay their heads upon their pillows;
that, they never could tolerate the idea of their wives laying their
heads upon their pillows; that, they never could endure the notion of
their children laying their heads upon their pillows; in short, that
there never more could be, for them or theirs, any laying of heads
upon pillows at all, unless the prisoner's head was taken off. That
head Mr. Attorney-General concluded by demanding of them, in the name
of everything he could think of with a round turn in it, and on the
faith of his solemn asseveration that he already considered the
prisoner as good as dead and gone.

When the Attorney-General ceased, a buzz arose in the court as if
a cloud of great blue-flies were swarming about the prisoner, in
anticipation of what he was soon to become. When toned down again,
the unimpeachable patriot appeared in the witness-box.

Mr. Solicitor-General then, following his leader's lead, examined
the patriot: John Barsad, gentleman, by name. The story of his pure
soul was exactly what Mr. Attorney-General had described it to be--
perhaps, if it had a fault, a little too exactly. Having released
his noble bosom of its burden, he would have modestly withdrawn
himself, but that the wigged gentleman with the papers before him,
sitting not far from Mr. Lorry, begged to ask him a few questions.
The wigged gentleman sitting opposite, still looking at the ceiling
of the court.

Had he ever been a spy himself? No, he scorned the base insinuation.
What did he live upon? His property. Where was his property?
He didn't precisely remember where it was. What was it? No business
of anybody's. Had he inherited it? Yes, he had. From whom? Distant
relation. Very distant? Rather. Ever been in prison? Certainly not.
Never in a debtors' prison? Didn't see what that had to do with it.
Never in a debtors' prison?--Come, once again. Never? Yes. How many
times? Two or three times. Not five or six? Perhaps. Of what profession?
Gentleman. Ever been kicked? Might have been. Frequently? No.
Ever kicked downstairs? Decidedly not; once received a kick on the
top of a staircase, and fell downstairs of his own accord. Kicked on
that occasion for cheating at dice? Something to that effect was said
by the intoxicated liar who committed the assault, but it was not
true. Swear it was not true? Positively. Ever live by cheating at
play? Never. Ever live by play? Not more than other gentlemen do.
Ever borrow money of the prisoner? Yes. Ever pay him? No. Was not
this intimacy with the prisoner, in reality a very slight one, forced
upon the prisoner in coaches, inns, and packets? No. Sure he saw
the prisoner with these lists? Certain. Knew no more about the
lists? No. Had not procured them himself, for instance? No. Expect
to get anything by this evidence? No. Not in regular government pay
and employment, to lay traps? Oh dear no. Or to do anything? Oh dear no.
Swear that? Over and over again. No motives but motives of sheer patriotism?
None whatever.

The virtuous servant, Roger Cly, swore his way through the case at a
great rate. He had taken service with the prisoner, in good faith
and simplicity, four years ago. He had asked the prisoner, aboard
the Calais packet, if he wanted a handy fellow, and the prisoner had
engaged him. He had not asked the prisoner to take the handy fellow
as an act of charity--never thought of such a thing. He began to
have suspicions of the prisoner, and to keep an eye upon him, soon
afterwards. In arranging his clothes, while travelling, he had seen
similar lists to these in the prisoner's pockets, over and over again.
He had taken these lists from the drawer of the prisoner's desk.
He had not put them there first. He had seen the prisoner show these
identical lists to French gentlemen at Calais, and similar lists to
French gentlemen, both at Calais and Boulogne. He loved his country,
and couldn't bear it, and had given information. He had never been
suspected of stealing a silver tea-pot; he had been maligned respecting
a mustard-pot, but it turned out to be only a plated one. He had
known the last witness seven or eight years; that was merely a
coincidence. He didn't call it a particularly curious coincidence;
most coincidences were curious. Neither did he call it a curious
coincidence that true patriotism was HIS only motive too. He was a
true Briton, and hoped there were many like him.

The blue-flies buzzed again, and Mr. Attorney-General called Mr. Jarvis Lorry.

"Mr. Jarvis Lorry, are you a clerk in Tellson's bank?"

"I am."

"On a certain Friday night in November one thousand seven hundred and
seventy-five, did business occasion you to travel between London and
Dover by the mail?"

"It did."

"Were there any other passengers in the mail?"


"Did they alight on the road in the course of the night?"

"They did."

"Mr. Lorry, look upon the prisoner. Was he one of those two passengers?"

"I cannot undertake to say that he was."

"Does he resemble either of these two passengers?"

"Both were so wrapped up, and the night was so dark, and we were all
so reserved, that I cannot undertake to say even that."

"Mr. Lorry, look again upon the prisoner. Supposing him wrapped up
as those two passengers were, is there anything in his bulk and
stature to render it unlikely that he was one of them?"


"You will not swear, Mr. Lorry, that he was not one of them?"


"So at least you say he may have been one of them?"

"Yes. Except that I remember them both to have been--like myself--
timorous of highwaymen, and the prisoner has not a timorous air."

"Did you ever see a counterfeit of timidity, Mr. Lorry?"

"I certainly have seen that."

"Mr. Lorry, look once more upon the prisoner. Have you seen him,
to your certain knowledge, before?"

"I have."


"I was returning from France a few days afterwards, and, at Calais,
the prisoner came on board the packet-ship in which I returned, and
made the voyage with me."

"At what hour did he come on board?"

"At a little after midnight."

"In the dead of the night. Was he the only passenger who came on
board at that untimely hour?"

"He happened to be the only one."

"Never mind about `happening,' Mr. Lorry. He was the only passenger
who came on board in the dead of the night?"

"He was."

"Were you travelling alone, Mr. Lorry, or with any companion?"

"With two companions. A gentleman and lady. They are here."

"They are here. Had you any conversation with the prisoner?"

"Hardly any. The weather was stormy, and the passage long and rough,
and I lay on a sofa, almost from shore to shore."

"Miss Manette!"

The young lady, to whom all eyes had been turned before, and were now
turned again, stood up where she had sat. Her father rose with her,
and kept her hand drawn through his arm.

"Miss Manette, look upon the prisoner."

To be confronted with such pity, and such earnest youth and beauty,
was far more trying to the accused than to be confronted with all the
crowd. Standing, as it were, apart with her on the edge of his grave,
not all the staring curiosity that looked on, could, for the moment,
nerve him to remain quite still. His hurried right hand parcelled
out the herbs before him into imaginary beds of flowers in a garden;
and his efforts to control and steady his breathing shook the lips
from which the colour rushed to his heart. The buzz of the great
flies was loud again.

"Miss Manette, have you seen the prisoner before?"

"Yes, sir."


"On board of the packet-ship just now referred to, sir, and on the
same occasion."

"You are the young lady just now referred to?"

"O! most unhappily, I am!"

The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musical
voice of the Judge, as he said something fiercely:
"Answer the questions put to you, and make no remark upon them."

"Miss Manette, had you any conversation with the prisoner on that
passage across the Channel?"

"Yes, sir."

"Recall it."

In the midst of a profound stillness, she faintly began: "When the
gentleman came on board--"

"Do you mean the prisoner?" inquired the Judge, knitting his brows.

"Yes, my Lord."

"Then say the prisoner."

"When the prisoner came on board, he noticed that my father," turning
her eyes lovingly to him as he stood beside her, "was much fatigued
and in a very weak state of health. My father was so reduced that I
was afraid to take him out of the air, and I had made a bed for him
on the deck near the cabin steps, and I sat on the deck at his side
to take care of him. There were no other passengers that night, but
we four. The prisoner was so good as to beg permission to advise me
how I could shelter my father from the wind and weather, better than
I had done. I had not known how to do it well, not understanding how
the wind would set when we were out of the harbour. He did it for me.
He expressed great gentleness and kindness for my father's state, and
I am sure he felt it. That was the manner of our beginning to speak

"Let me interrupt you for a moment. Had he come on board alone?"


"How many were with him?"

"Two French gentlemen."

"Had they conferred together?"

"They had conferred together until the last moment, when it was
necessary for the French gentlemen to be landed in their boat."

"Had any papers been handed about among them, similar to these lists?"

"Some papers had been handed about among them, but I don't know what

"Like these in shape and size?"

"Possibly, but indeed I don't know, although they stood whispering
very near to me: because they stood at the top of the cabin steps to
have the light of the lamp that was hanging there; it was a dull lamp,
and they spoke very low, and I did not hear what they said, and saw
only that they looked at papers."

"Now, to the prisoner's conversation, Miss Manette."

"The prisoner was as open in his confidence with me--which arose out
of my helpless situation--as he was kind, and good, and useful to my
father. I hope," bursting into tears, "I may not repay him by doing
him harm to-day."

Buzzing from the blue-flies.

"Miss Manette, if the prisoner does not perfectly understand that you
give the evidence which it is your duty to give--which you must give--
and which you cannot escape from giving--with great unwillingness,
he is the only person present in that condition. Please to go on."

"He told me that he was travelling on business of a delicate and
difficult nature, which might get people into trouble, and that he
was therefore travelling under an assumed name. He said that this
business had, within a few days, taken him to France, and might,
at intervals, take him backwards and forwards between France and
England for a long time to come."

"Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette? Be particular."

"He tried to explain to me how that quarrel had arisen, and he said that,
so far as he could judge, it was a wrong and foolish one on England's
part. He added, in a jesting way, that perhaps George Washington
might gain almost as great a name in history as George the Third.
But there was no harm in his way of saying this: it was said laughingly,
and to beguile the time."

Any strongly marked expression of face on the part of a chief actor
in a scene of great interest to whom many eyes are directed, will be
unconsciously imitated by the spectators. Her forehead was painfully
anxious and intent as she gave this evidence, and, in the pauses when
she stopped for the Judge to write it down, watched its effect upon
the counsel for and against. Among the lookers-on there was the same
expression in all quarters of the court; insomuch, that a great
majority of the foreheads there, might have been mirrors reflecting
the witness, when the Judge looked up from his notes to glare at that
tremendous heresy about George Washington.

Mr. Attorney-General now signified to my Lord, that he deemed it
necessary, as a matter of precaution and form, to call the young
lady's father, Doctor Manette. Who was called accordingly.

"Doctor Manette, look upon the prisoner. Have you ever seen him before?"

"Once. When he caged at my lodgings in London. Some three years, or
three years and a half ago."

"Can you identify him as your fellow-passenger on board the packet,
or speak to his conversation with your daughter?"

"Sir, I can do neither."

"Is there any particular and special reason for your being unable to
do either?"

He answered, in a low voice, "There is."

"Has it been your misfortune to undergo a long imprisonment, without
trial, or even accusation, in your native country, Doctor Manette?"

He answered, in a tone that went to every heart, "A long imprisonment."

"Were you newly released on the occasion in question?"

"They tell me so."

"Have you no remembrance of the occasion?"

"None. My mind is a blank, from some time--I cannot even say what time--
when I employed myself, in my captivity, in making shoes,
to the time when I found myself living in London with my dear
daughter here. She had become familiar to me, when a gracious God
restored my faculties; but, I am quite unable even to say how she
had become familiar. I have no remembrance of the process."

Mr. Attorney-General sat down, and the father and daughter sat down together.

A singular circumstance then arose in the case. The object in hand
being to show that the prisoner went down, with some fellow-plotter
untracked, in the Dover mail on that Friday night in November five
years ago, and got out of the mail in the night, as a blind, at a
place where he did not remain, but from which he travelled back some
dozen miles or more, to a garrison and dockyard, and there collected
information; a witness was called to identify him as having been at
the precise time required, in the coffee-room of an hotel in that
garrison-and-dockyard town, waiting for another person. The prisoner's
counsel was cross-examining this witness with no result, except that
he had never seen the prisoner on any other occasion, when the wigged
gentleman who had all this time been looking at the ceiling of the
court, wrote a word or two on a little piece of paper, screwed it up,
and tossed it to him. Opening this piece of paper in the next pause,
the counsel looked with great attention and curiosity at the prisoner.

"You say again you are quite sure that it was the prisoner?"

The witness was quite sure.

"Did you ever see anybody very like the prisoner?"

Not so like (the witness said) as that he could be mistaken.

"Look well upon that gentleman, my learned friend there," pointing to
him who had tossed the paper over, "and then look well upon the prisoner.
How say you? Are they very like each other?"

Allowing for my learned friend's appearance being careless and
slovenly if not debauched, they were sufficiently like each other to
surprise, not only the witness, but everybody present, when they were
thus brought into comparison. My Lord being prayed to bid my learned
friend lay aside his wig, and giving no very gracious consent, the
likeness became much more remarkable. My Lord inquired of Mr. Stryver
(the prisoner's counsel), whether they were next to try Mr. Carton
(name of my learned friend) for treason? But, Mr. Stryver replied to
my Lord, no; but he would ask the witness to tell him whether what
happened once, might happen twice; whether he would have been so
confident if he had seen this illustration of his rashness sooner,
whether he would be so confident, having seen it; and more.
The upshot of which, was, to smash this witness like a crockery vessel,
and shiver his part of the case to useless lumber.

Mr. Cruncher had by this time taken quite a lunch of rust off his
fingers in his following of the evidence. He had now to attend while
Mr. Stryver fitted the prisoner's case on the jury, like a compact
suit of clothes; showing them how the patriot, Barsad, was a hired spy
and traitor, an unblushing trafficker in blood, and one of the greatest
scoundrels upon earth since accursed Judas--which he certainly did
look rather like. How the virtuous servant, Cly, was his friend and
partner, and was worthy to be; how the watchful eyes of those forgers
and false swearers had rested on the prisoner as a victim, because
some family affairs in France, he being of French extraction, did
require his making those passages across the Channel--though what
those affairs were, a consideration for others who were near and dear
to him, forbade him, even for his life, to disclose. How the evidence
that had been warped and wrested from the young lady, whose anguish in
giving it they had witnessed, came to nothing, involving the mere
little innocent gallantries and politenesses likely to pass between
any young gentleman and young lady so thrown together;--with the
exception of that reference to George Washington, which was altogether
too extravagant and impossible to be regarded in any other light than
as a monstrous joke. How it would be a weakness in the government to
break down in this attempt to practise for popularity on the lowest
national antipathies and fears, and therefore Mr. Attorney-General had
made the most of it; how, nevertheless, it rested upon nothing, save
that vile and infamous character of evidence too often disfiguring
such cases, and of which the State Trials of this country were full.
But, there my Lord interposed (with as grave a face as if it had not
been true), saying that he could not sit upon that Bench and suffer
those allusions.

Mr. Stryver then called his few witnesses, and Mr. Cruncher had next
to attend while Mr. Attorney-General turned the whole suit of clothes
Mr. Stryver had fitted on the jury, inside out; showing how Barsad and
Cly were even a hundred times better than he had thought them, and the
prisoner a hundred times worse. Lastly, came my Lord himself, turning
the suit of clothes, now inside out, now outside in, but on the whole
decidedly trimming and shaping them into grave-clothes for the

And now, the jury turned to consider, and the great flies swarmed again.

Mr. Carton, who had so long sat looking at the ceiling of the court,
changed neither his place nor his attitude, even in this excitement.
While his teamed friend, Mr. Stryver, massing his papers before him,
whispered with those who sat near, and from time to time glanced
anxiously at the jury; while all the spectators moved more or less,
and grouped themselves anew; while even my Lord himself arose from his
seat, and slowly paced up and down his platform, not unattended by a
suspicion in the minds of the audience that his state was feverish;
this one man sat leaning back, with his torn gown half off him, his
untidy wig put on just as it had happened to fight on his head after
its removal, his hands in his pockets, and his eyes on the ceiling as
they had been all day. Something especially reckless in his demeanour,
not only gave him a disreputable look, but so diminished the strong
resemblance he undoubtedly bore to the prisoner (which his momentary
earnestness, when they were compared together, had strengthened),
that many of the lookers-on, taking note of him now, said to one
another they would hardly have thought the two were so alike.
Mr. Cruncher made the observation to his next neighbour, and added,
"I'd hold half a guinea that HE don't get no law-work to do.
Don't look like the sort of one to get any, do he?"

Yet, this Mr. Carton took in more of the details of the scene than he
appeared to take in; for now, when Miss Manette's head dropped upon
her father's breast, he was the first to see it, and to say audibly:
"Officer! look to that young lady. Help the gentleman to take her out.
Don't you see she will fall!"

There was much commiseration for her as she was removed, and much
sympathy with her father. It had evidently been a great distress to
him, to have the days of his imprisonment recalled. He had shown
strong internal agitation when he was questioned, and that pondering
or brooding look which made him old, had been upon him, like a heavy
cloud, ever since. As he passed out, the jury, who had turned back
and paused a moment, spoke, through their foreman.

They were not agreed, and wished to retire. My Lord (perhaps with
George Washington on his mind) showed some surprise that they were not
agreed, but signified his pleasure that they should retire under watch
and ward, and retired himself. The trial had lasted all day, and the
lamps in the court were now being lighted. It began to be rumoured
that the jury would be out a long while. The spectators dropped off
to get refreshment, and the prisoner withdrew to the back of the dock,
and sat down.

Mr. Lorry, who had gone out when the young lady and her father went out,
now reappeared, and beckoned to Jerry: who, in the slackened interest,
could easily get near him.

"Jerry, if you wish to take something to eat, you can. But, keep in
the way. You will be sure to hear when the jury come in. Don't be a
moment behind them, for I want you to take the verdict back to the bank.
You are the quickest messenger I know, and will get to Temple Bar long
before I can."

Jerry had just enough forehead to knuckle, and he knuckled it in
acknowedgment of this communication and a shilling. Mr. Carton came
up at the moment, and touched Mr. Lorry on the arm.

"How is the young lady?"

"She is greatly distressed; but her father is comforting her, and she
feels the better for being out of court."

"I'll tell the prisoner so. It won't do for a respectable bank
gentleman like you, to be seen speaking to him publicly, you know."

Mr. Lorry reddened as if he were conscious of having debated the point
in his mind, and Mr. Carton made his way to the outside of the bar.
The way out of court lay in that direction, and Jerry followed him,
all eyes, ears, and spikes.

"Mr. Darnay!"

The prisoner came forward directly.

"You will naturally be anxious to hear of the witness, Miss Manette.
She will do very well. You have seen the worst of her agitation."

"I am deeply sorry to have been the cause of it. Could you tell her
so for me, with my fervent acknowledgments?"

"Yes, I could. I will, if you ask it."

Mr. Carton's manner was so careless as to be almost insolent. He stood,
half turned from the prisoner, lounging with his elbow against the bar.

"I do ask it. Accept my cordial thanks."

"What," said Carton, still only half turned towards him, "do you
expect, Mr. Darnay?"

"The worst."

"It's the wisest thing to expect, and the likeliest. But I think
their withdrawing is in your favour."

Loitering on the way out of court not being allowed, Jerry heard no
more: but left them--so like each other in feature, so unlike each
other in manner--standing side by side, both reflected in the glass
above them.

An hour and a half limped heavily away in the thief-and-rascal crowded
passages below, even though assisted off with mutton pies and ale.
The hoarse messenger, uncomfortably seated on a form after taking that
refection, had dropped into a doze, when a loud murmur and a rapid
tide of people setting up the stairs that led to the court, carried
him along with them.

"Jerry! Jerry!" Mr. Lorry was already calling at the door when
he got there.

"Here, sir! It's a fight to get back again. Here I am, sir!"

Mr. Lorry handed him a paper through the throng.
"Quick! Have you got it?"

"Yes, sir."

Hastily written on the paper was the word "AQUITTED."

"If you had sent the message, `Recalled to Life,' again," muttered
Jerry, as he turned, "I should have known what you meant, this time."

He had no opportunity of saying, or so much as thinking, anything
else, until he was clear of the Old Bailey; for, the crowd came
pouring out with a vehemence that nearly took him off his legs, and a
loud buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies were
dispersing in search of other carrion.

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