The Complete Works of



Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 43

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 43

Next morning brought no satisfaction to the locksmith's thoughts,
nor next day, nor the next, nor many others. Often after nightfall
he entered the street, and turned his eyes towards the well-known
house; and as surely as he did so, there was the solitary light,
still gleaming through the crevices of the window-shutter, while
all within was motionless, noiseless, cheerless, as a grave.
Unwilling to hazard Mr Haredale's favour by disobeying his strict
injunction, he never ventured to knock at the door or to make his
presence known in any way. But whenever strong interest and
curiosity attracted him to the spot--which was not seldom--the
light was always there.

If he could have known what passed within, the knowledge would have
yielded him no clue to this mysterious vigil. At twilight, Mr
Haredale shut himself up, and at daybreak he came forth. He never
missed a night, always came and went alone, and never varied his
proceedings in the least degree.

The manner of his watch was this. At dusk, he entered the house in
the same way as when the locksmith bore him company, kindled a
light, went through the rooms, and narrowly examined them. That
done, he returned to the chamber on the ground-floor, and laying
his sword and pistols on the table, sat by it until morning.

He usually had a book with him, and often tried to read, but never
fixed his eyes or thoughts upon it for five minutes together. The
slightest noise without doors, caught his ear; a step upon the
pavement seemed to make his heart leap.

He was not without some refreshment during the long lonely hours;
generally carrying in his pocket a sandwich of bread and meat, and
a small flask of wine. The latter diluted with large quantities of
water, he drank in a heated, feverish way, as though his throat
were dried; but he scarcely ever broke his fast, by so much as a
crumb of bread.

If this voluntary sacrifice of sleep and comfort had its origin, as
the locksmith on consideration was disposed to think, in any
superstitious expectation of the fulfilment of a dream or vision
connected with the event on which he had brooded for so many years,
and if he waited for some ghostly visitor who walked abroad when
men lay sleeping in their beds, he showed no trace of fear or
wavering. His stern features expressed inflexible resolution; his
brows were puckered, and his lips compressed, with deep and settled
purpose; and when he started at a noise and listened, it was not
with the start of fear but hope, and catching up his sword as
though the hour had come at last, he would clutch it in his tight-
clenched hand, and listen with sparkling eyes and eager looks,
until it died away.

These disappointments were numerous, for they ensued on almost
every sound, but his constancy was not shaken. Still, every night
he was at his post, the same stern, sleepless, sentinel; and still
night passed, and morning dawned, and he must watch again.

This went on for weeks; he had taken a lodging at Vauxhall in which
to pass the day and rest himself; and from this place, when the
tide served, he usually came to London Bridge from Westminster by
water, in order that he might avoid the busy streets.

One evening, shortly before twilight, he came his accustomed road
upon the river's bank, intending to pass through Westminster Hall
into Palace Yard, and there take boat to London Bridge as usual.
There was a pretty large concourse of people assembled round the
Houses of Parliament, looking at the members as they entered and
departed, and giving vent to rather noisy demonstrations of
approval or dislike, according to their known opinions. As he made
his way among the throng, he heard once or twice the No-Popery cry,
which was then becoming pretty familiar to the ears of most men;
but holding it in very slight regard, and observing that the idlers
were of the lowest grade, he neither thought nor cared about it,
but made his way along, with perfect indifference.

There were many little knots and groups of persons in Westminster
Hall: some few looking upward at its noble ceiling, and at the rays
of evening light, tinted by the setting sun, which streamed in
aslant through its small windows, and growing dimmer by degrees,
were quenched in the gathering gloom below; some, noisy passengers,
mechanics going home from work, and otherwise, who hurried quickly
through, waking the echoes with their voices, and soon darkening
the small door in the distance, as they passed into the street
beyond; some, in busy conference together on political or private
matters, pacing slowly up and down with eyes that sought the
ground, and seeming, by their attitudes, to listen earnestly from
head to foot. Here, a dozen squabbling urchins made a very Babel
in the air; there, a solitary man, half clerk, half mendicant,
paced up and down with hungry dejection in his look and gait; at
his elbow passed an errand-lad, swinging his basket round and
round, and with his shrill whistle riving the very timbers of the
roof; while a more observant schoolboy, half-way through, pocketed
his ball, and eyed the distant beadle as he came looming on. It
was that time of evening when, if you shut your eyes and open them
again, the darkness of an hour appears to have gathered in a
second. The smooth-worn pavement, dusty with footsteps, still
called upon the lofty walls to reiterate the shuffle and the tread
of feet unceasingly, save when the closing of some heavy door
resounded through the building like a clap of thunder, and drowned
all other noises in its rolling sound.

Mr Haredale, glancing only at such of these groups as he passed
nearest to, and then in a manner betokening that his thoughts were
elsewhere, had nearly traversed the Hall, when two persons before
him caught his attention. One of these, a gentleman in elegant
attire, carried in his hand a cane, which he twirled in a jaunty
manner as he loitered on; the other, an obsequious, crouching,
fawning figure, listened to what he said--at times throwing in a
humble word himself--and, with his shoulders shrugged up to his
ears, rubbed his hands submissively, or answered at intervals by an
inclination of the head, half-way between a nod of acquiescence,
and a bow of most profound respect.

In the abstract there was nothing very remarkable in this pair, for
servility waiting on a handsome suit of clothes and a cane--not to
speak of gold and silver sticks, or wands of office--is common
enough. But there was that about the well-dressed man, yes, and
about the other likewise, which struck Mr Haredale with no pleasant
feeling. He hesitated, stopped, and would have stepped aside and
turned out of his path, but at the moment, the other two faced
about quickly, and stumbled upon him before he could avoid them.

The gentleman with the cane lifted his hat and had begun to tender
an apology, which Mr Haredale had begun as hastily to acknowledge
and walk away, when he stopped short and cried, 'Haredale! Gad
bless me, this is strange indeed!'

'It is,' he returned impatiently; 'yes--a--'

'My dear friend,' cried the other, detaining him, 'why such great
speed? One minute, Haredale, for the sake of old acquaintance.'

'I am in haste,' he said. 'Neither of us has sought this meeting.
Let it be a brief one. Good night!'

'Fie, fie!' replied Sir John (for it was he), 'how very churlish!
We were speaking of you. Your name was on my lips--perhaps you
heard me mention it? No? I am sorry for that. I am really
sorry.--You know our friend here, Haredale? This is really a most
remarkable meeting!'

The friend, plainly very ill at ease, had made bold to press Sir
John's arm, and to give him other significant hints that he was
desirous of avoiding this introduction. As it did not suit Sir
John's purpose, however, that it should be evaded, he appeared
quite unconscious of these silent remonstrances, and inclined his
hand towards him, as he spoke, to call attention to him more

The friend, therefore, had nothing for it, but to muster up the
pleasantest smile he could, and to make a conciliatory bow, as Mr
Haredale turned his eyes upon him. Seeing that he was recognised,
he put out his hand in an awkward and embarrassed manner, which was
not mended by its contemptuous rejection.

'Mr Gashford!' said Haredale, coldly. 'It is as I have heard then.
You have left the darkness for the light, sir, and hate those whose
opinions you formerly held, with all the bitterness of a renegade.
You are an honour, sir, to any cause. I wish the one you espouse
at present, much joy of the acquisition it has made.'

The secretary rubbed his hands and bowed, as though he would disarm
his adversary by humbling himself before him. Sir John Chester
again exclaimed, with an air of great gaiety, 'Now, really, this is
a most remarkable meeting!' and took a pinch of snuff with his
usual self-possession.

'Mr Haredale,' said Gashford, stealthily raising his eyes, and
letting them drop again when they met the other's steady gaze, is
too conscientious, too honourable, too manly, I am sure, to attach
unworthy motives to an honest change of opinions, even though it
implies a doubt of those he holds himself. Mr Haredale is too
just, too generous, too clear-sighted in his moral vision, to--'

'Yes, sir?' he rejoined with a sarcastic smile, finding the
secretary stopped. 'You were saying'--

Gashford meekly shrugged his shoulders, and looking on the ground
again, was silent.

'No, but let us really,' interposed Sir John at this juncture, 'let
us really, for a moment, contemplate the very remarkable character
of this meeting. Haredale, my dear friend, pardon me if I think
you are not sufficiently impressed with its singularity. Here we
stand, by no previous appointment or arrangement, three old
schoolfellows, in Westminster Hall; three old boarders in a
remarkably dull and shady seminary at Saint Omer's, where you,
being Catholics and of necessity educated out of England, were
brought up; and where I, being a promising young Protestant at that
time, was sent to learn the French tongue from a native of Paris!'

'Add to the singularity, Sir John,' said Mr Haredale, 'that some of
you Protestants of promise are at this moment leagued in yonder
building, to prevent our having the surpassing and unheard-of
privilege of teaching our children to read and write--here--in this
land, where thousands of us enter your service every year, and to
preserve the freedom of which, we die in bloody battles abroad, in
heaps: and that others of you, to the number of some thousands as
I learn, are led on to look on all men of my creed as wolves and
beasts of prey, by this man Gashford. Add to it besides the bare
fact that this man lives in society, walks the streets in broad
day--I was about to say, holds up his head, but that he does not--
and it will be strange, and very strange, I grant you.'

'Oh! you are hard upon our friend,' replied Sir John, with an
engaging smile. 'You are really very hard upon our friend!'

'Let him go on, Sir John,' said Gashford, fumbling with his gloves.
'Let him go on. I can make allowances, Sir John. I am honoured
with your good opinion, and I can dispense with Mr Haredale's. Mr
Haredale is a sufferer from the penal laws, and I can't expect his

'You have so much of my favour, sir,' retorted Mr Haredale, with a
bitter glance at the third party in their conversation, 'that I am
glad to see you in such good company. You are the essence of your
great Association, in yourselves.'

'Now, there you mistake,' said Sir John, in his most benignant way.
'There--which is a most remarkable circumstance for a man of your
punctuality and exactness, Haredale--you fall into error. I don't
belong to the body; I have an immense respect for its members, but
I don't belong to it; although I am, it is certainly true, the
conscientious opponent of your being relieved. I feel it my duty
to be so; it is a most unfortunate necessity; and cost me a bitter
struggle.--Will you try this box? If you don't object to a
trifling infusion of a very chaste scent, you'll find its flavour

'I ask your pardon, Sir John,' said Mr Haredale, declining the
proffer with a motion of his hand, 'for having ranked you among the
humble instruments who are obvious and in all men's sight. I
should have done more justice to your genius. Men of your capacity
plot in secrecy and safety, and leave exposed posts to the duller

'Don't apologise, for the world,' replied Sir John sweetly; 'old
friends like you and I, may be allowed some freedoms, or the deuce
is in it.'

Gashford, who had been very restless all this time, but had not
once looked up, now turned to Sir John, and ventured to mutter
something to the effect that he must go, or my lord would perhaps
be waiting.

'Don't distress yourself, good sir,' said Mr Haredale, 'I'll take
my leave, and put you at your ease--' which he was about to do
without ceremony, when he was stayed by a buzz and murmur at the
upper end of the hall, and, looking in that direction, saw Lord
George Gordon coming in, with a crowd of people round him.

There was a lurking look of triumph, though very differently
expressed, in the faces of his two companions, which made it a
natural impulse on Mr Haredale's part not to give way before this
leader, but to stand there while he passed. He drew himself up
and, clasping his hands behind him, looked on with a proud and
scornful aspect, while Lord George slowly advanced (for the press
was great about him) towards the spot where they were standing.

He had left the House of Commons but that moment, and had come
straight down into the Hall, bringing with him, as his custom was,
intelligence of what had been said that night in reference to the
Papists, and what petitions had been presented in their favour, and
who had supported them, and when the bill was to be brought in, and
when it would be advisable to present their own Great Protestant
petition. All this he told the persons about him in a loud voice,
and with great abundance of ungainly gesture. Those who were
nearest him made comments to each other, and vented threats and
murmurings; those who were outside the crowd cried, 'Silence,' and
Stand back,' or closed in upon the rest, endeavouring to make a
forcible exchange of places: and so they came driving on in a very
disorderly and irregular way, as it is the manner of a crowd to do.

When they were very near to where the secretary, Sir John, and Mr
Haredale stood, Lord George turned round and, making a few remarks
of a sufliciently violent and incoherent kind, concluded with the
usual sentiment, and called for three cheers to back it. While
these were in the act of being given with great energy, he
extricated himself from the press, and stepped up to Gashford's
side. Both he and Sir John being well known to the populace, they
fell back a little, and left the four standing together.

'Mr Haredale, Lord George,' said Sir John Chester, seeing that the
nobleman regarded him with an inquisitive look. 'A Catholic
gentleman unfortunately--most unhappily a Catholic--but an esteemed
acquaintance of mine, and once of Mr Gashford's. My dear Haredale,
this is Lord George Gordon.'

'I should have known that, had I been ignorant of his lordship's
person,' said Mr Haredale. 'I hope there is but one gentleman in
England who, addressing an ignorant and excited throng, would speak
of a large body of his fellow-subjects in such injurious language
as I heard this moment. For shame, my lord, for shame!'

'I cannot talk to you, sir,' replied Lord George in a loud voice,
and waving his hand in a disturbed and agitated manner; 'we have
nothing in common.'

'We have much in common--many things--all that the Almighty gave
us,' said Mr Haredale; 'and common charity, not to say common sense
and common decency, should teach you to refrain from these
proceedings. If every one of those men had arms in their hands at
this moment, as they have them in their heads, I would not leave
this place without telling you that you disgrace your station.'

'I don't hear you, sir,' he replied in the same manner as before;
'I can't hear you. It is indifferent to me what you say. Don't
retort, Gashford,' for the secretary had made a show of wishing to
do so; 'I can hold no communion with the worshippers of idols.'

As he said this, he glanced at Sir John, who lifted his hands and
eyebrows, as if deploring the intemperate conduct of Mr Haredale,
and smiled in admiration of the crowd and of their leader.

'HE retort!' cried Haredale. 'Look you here, my lord. Do you know
this man?'

Lord George replied by laying his hand upon the shoulder of his
cringing secretary, and viewing him with a smile of confidence.

'This man,' said Mr Haredale, eyeing him from top to toe, 'who in
his boyhood was a thief, and has been from that time to this, a
servile, false, and truckling knave: this man, who has crawled and
crept through life, wounding the hands he licked, and biting those
he fawned upon: this sycophant, who never knew what honour, truth,
or courage meant; who robbed his benefactor's daughter of her
virtue, and married her to break her heart, and did it, with
stripes and cruelty: this creature, who has whined at kitchen
windows for the broken food, and begged for halfpence at our chapel
doors: this apostle of the faith, whose tender conscience cannot
bear the altars where his vicious life was publicly denounced--Do
you know this man?'

'Oh, really--you are very, very hard upon our friend!' exclaimed
Sir John.

'Let Mr Haredale go on,' said Gashford, upon whose unwholesome face
the perspiration had broken out during this speech, in blotches of
wet; 'I don't mind him, Sir John; it's quite as indifferent to me
what he says, as it is to my lord. If he reviles my lord, as you
have heard, Sir John, how can I hope to escape?'

'Is it not enough, my lord,' Mr Haredale continued, 'that I, as
good a gentleman as you, must hold my property, such as it is, by a
trick at which the state connives because of these hard laws; and
that we may not teach our youth in schools the common principles of
right and wrong; but must we be denounced and ridden by such men as
this! Here is a man to head your No-Popery cry! For shame. For

The infatuated nobleman had glanced more than once at Sir John
Chester, as if to inquire whether there was any truth in these
statements concerning Gashford, and Sir John had as often plainly
answered by a shrug or look, 'Oh dear me! no.' He now said, in the
same loud key, and in the same strange manner as before:

'I have nothing to say, sir, in reply, and no desire to hear
anything more. I beg you won't obtrude your conversation, or these
personal attacks, upon me. I shall not be deterred from doing my
duty to my country and my countrymen, by any such attempts, whether
they proceed from emissaries of the Pope or not, I assure you.
Come, Gashford!'

They had walked on a few paces while speaking, and were now at the
Hall-door, through which they passed together. Mr Haredale,
without any leave-taking, turned away to the river stairs, which
were close at hand, and hailed the only boatman who remained there.

But the throng of people--the foremost of whom had heard every word
that Lord George Gordon said, and among all of whom the rumour had
been rapidly dispersed that the stranger was a Papist who was
bearding him for his advocacy of the popular cause--came pouring
out pell-mell, and, forcing the nobleman, his secretary, and Sir
John Chester on before them, so that they appeared to be at their
head, crowded to the top of the stairs where Mr Haredale waited
until the boat was ready, and there stood still, leaving him on a
little clear space by himself.

They were not silent, however, though inactive. At first some
indistinct mutterings arose among them, which were followed by a
hiss or two, and these swelled by degrees into a perfect storm.
Then one voice said, 'Down with the Papists!' and there was a
pretty general cheer, but nothing more. After a lull of a few
moments, one man cried out, 'Stone him;' another, 'Duck him;'
another, in a stentorian voice, 'No Popery!' This favourite cry
the rest re-echoed, and the mob, which might have been two hundred
strong, joined in a general shout.

Mr Haredale had stood calmly on the brink of the steps, until they
made this demonstration, when he looked round contemptuously, and
walked at a slow pace down the stairs. He was pretty near the
boat, when Gashford, as if without intention, turned about, and
directly afterwards a great stone was thrown by some hand, in the
crowd, which struck him on the head, and made him stagger like a
drunken man.

The blood sprung freely from the wound, and trickled down his coat.
He turned directly, and rushing up the steps with a boldness and
passion which made them all fall back, demanded:

'Who did that? Show me the man who hit me.'

Not a soul moved; except some in the rear who slunk off, and,
escaping to the other side of the way, looked on like indifferent

'Who did that?' he repeated. 'Show me the man who did it. Dog,
was it you? It was your deed, if not your hand--I know you.'

He threw himself on Gashford as he said the words, and hurled him
to the ground. There was a sudden motion in the crowd, and some
laid hands upon him, but his sword was out, and they fell off

'My lord--Sir John,'--he cried, 'draw, one of you--you are
responsible for this outrage, and I look to you. Draw, if you are
gentlemen.' With that he struck Sir John upon the breast with the
flat of his weapon, and with a burning face and flashing eyes stood
upon his guard; alone, before them all.

For an instant, for the briefest space of time the mind can readily
conceive, there was a change in Sir John's smooth face, such as no
man ever saw there. The next moment, he stepped forward, and laid
one hand on Mr Haredale's arm, while with the other he endeavoured
to appease the crowd.

'My dear friend, my good Haredale, you are blinded with passion--
it's very natural, extremely natural--but you don't know friends
from foes.'

'I know them all, sir, I can distinguish well--' he retorted,
almost mad with rage. 'Sir John, Lord George--do you hear me? Are
you cowards?'

'Never mind, sir,' said a man, forcing his way between and pushing
him towards the stairs with friendly violence, 'never mind asking
that. For God's sake, get away. What CAN you do against this
number? And there are as many more in the next street, who'll be
round dfrectly,'--indeed they began to pour in as he said the
words--'you'd be giddy from that cut, in the first heat of a
scuffle. Now do retire, sir, or take my word for it you'll be
worse used than you would be if every man in the crowd was a woman,
and that woman Bloody Mary. Come, sir, make haste--as quick as you

Mr Haredale, who began to turn faint and sick, felt how sensible
this advice was, and descended the steps with his unknown friend's
assistance. John Grueby (for John it was) helped him into the
boat, and giving her a shove off, which sent her thirty feet into
the tide, bade the waterman pull away like a Briton; and walked up
again as composedly as if he had just landed.

There was at first a slight disposition on the part of the mob to
resent this interference; but John looking particularly strong and
cool, and wearing besides Lord George's livery, they thought better
of it, and contented themselves with sending a shower of small
missiles after the boat, which plashed harmlessly in the water;
for she had by this time cleared the bridge, and was darting
swiftly down the centre of the stream.

From this amusement, they proceeded to giving Protestant knocks at
the doors of private houses, breaking a few lamps, and assaulting
some stray constables. But, it being whispered that a detachment
of Life Guards had been sent for, they took to their heels with
great expedition, and left the street quite clear.

< Back
Forward >

Index Index

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 57
Chapter 58
Chapter 59
Chapter 60
Chapter 61
Chapter 62
Chapter 63
Chapter 64
Chapter 65
Chapter 66
Chapter 67
Chapter 68
Chapter 69
Chapter 70
Chapter 71
Chapter 72
Chapter 73
Chapter 74
Chapter 75
Chapter 76
Chapter 77
Chapter 78
Chapter 79
Chapter 80
Chapter 81
Chapter 82

Other Authors Other Authors

Charles Dickens. Copyright © 2022,
Contact the webmaster
Disclaimer here. Privacy Policy here.