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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 61

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 61

On that same night--events so crowd upon each other in convulsed
and distracted times, that more than the stirring incidents of a
whole life often become compressed into the compass of four-and-
twenty hours--on that same night, Mr Haredale, having strongly
bound his prisoner, with the assistance of the sexton, and forced
him to mount his horse, conducted him to Chigwell; bent upon
procuring a conveyance to London from that place, and carrying him
at once before a justice. The disturbed state of the town would
be, he knew, a sufficient reason for demanding the murderer's
committal to prison before daybreak, as no man could answer for the
security of any of the watch-houses or ordinary places of
detention; and to convey a prisoner through the streets when the
mob were again abroad, would not only be a task of great danger and
hazard, but would be to challenge an attempt at rescue. Directing
the sexton to lead the horse, he walked close by the murderer's
side, and in this order they reached the village about the middle
of the night.

The people were all awake and up, for they were fearful of being
burnt in their beds, and sought to comfort and assure each other by
watching in company. A few of the stoutest-hearted were armed and
gathered in a body on the green. To these, who knew him well, Mr
Haredale addressed himself, briefly narrating what had happened,
and beseeching them to aid in conveying the criminal to London
before the dawn of day.

But not a man among them dared to help him by so much as the motion
of a finger. The rioters, in their passage through the village,
had menaced with their fiercest vengeance, any person who should
aid in extinguishing the fire, or render the least assistance to
him, or any Catholic whomsoever. Their threats extended to their
lives and all they possessed. They were assembled for their own
protection, and could not endanger themselves by lending any aid to
him. This they told him, not without hesitation and regret, as
they kept aloof in the moonlight and glanced fearfully at the
ghostly rider, who, with his head drooping on his breast and his
hat slouched down upon his brow, neither moved nor spoke.

Finding it impossible to persuade them, and indeed hardly knowing
how to do so after what they had seen of the fury of the crowd, Mr
Haredale besought them that at least they would leave him free to
act for himself, and would suffer him to take the only chaise and
pair of horses that the place afforded. This was not acceded to
without some difficulty, but in the end they told him to do what he
would, and go away from them in heaven's name.

Leaving the sexton at the horse's bridle, he drew out the chaise
with his own hands, and would have harnessed the horses, but that
the post-boy of the village--a soft-hearted, good-for-nothing,
vagabond kind of fellow--was moved by his earnestness and passion,
and, throwing down a pitchfork with which he was armed, swore that
the rioters might cut him into mincemeat if they liked, but he
would not stand by and see an honest gentleman who had done no
wrong, reduced to such extremity, without doing what he could to
help him. Mr Haredale shook him warmly by the hand, and thanked
him from his heart. In five minutes' time the chaise was ready,
and this good scapegrace in his saddle. The murderer was put
inside, the blinds were drawn up, the sexton took his seat upon the
bar, Mr Haredale mounted his horse and rode close beside the door;
and so they started in the dead of night, and in profound silence,
for London.

The consternation was so extreme that even the horses which had
escaped the flames at the Warren, could find no friends to shelter
them. They passed them on the road, browsing on the stunted grass;
and the driver told them, that the poor beasts had wandered to the
village first, but had been driven away, lest they should bring
the vengeance of the crowd on any of the inhabitants.

Nor was this feeling confined to such small places, where the
people were timid, ignorant, and unprotected. When they came near
London they met, in the grey light of morning, more than one poor
Catholic family who, terrified by the threats and warnings of
their neighbours, were quitting the city on foot, and who told them
they could hire no cart or horse for the removal of their goods,
and had been compelled to leave them behind, at the mercy of the
crowd. Near Mile End they passed a house, the master of which, a
Catholic gentleman of small means, having hired a waggon to remove
his furniture by midnight, had had it all brought down into the
street, to wait the vehicle's arrival, and save time in the
packing. But the man with whom he made the bargain, alarmed by the
fires that night, and by the sight of the rioters passing his
door, had refused to keep it: and the poor gentleman, with his wife
and servant and their little children, were sitting trembling among
their goods in the open street, dreading the arrival of day and not
knowing where to turn or what to do.

It was the same, they heard, with the public conveyances. The
panic was so great that the mails and stage-coaches were afraid to
carry passengers who professed the obnoxious religion. If the
drivers knew them, or they admitted that they held that creed, they
would not take them, no, though they offered large sums; and
yesterday, people had been afraid to recognise Catholic
acquaintance in the streets, lest they should be marked by spies,
and burnt out, as it was called, in consequence. One mild old man--
a priest, whose chapel was destroyed; a very feeble, patient,
inoffensive creature--who was trudging away, alone, designing to
walk some distance from town, and then try his fortune with the
coaches, told Mr Haredale that he feared he might not find a
magistrate who would have the hardihood to commit a prisoner to
jail, on his complaint. But notwithstanding these discouraging
accounts they went on, and reached the Mansion House soon after

Mr Haredale threw himself from his horse, but he had no need to
knock at the door, for it was already open, and there stood upon
the step a portly old man, with a very red, or rather purple face,
who with an anxious expression of countenance, was remonstrating
with some unseen personage upstairs, while the porter essayed to
close the door by degrees and get rid of him. With the intense
impatience and excitement natural to one in his condition, Mr
Haredale thrust himself forward and was about to speak, when the
fat old gentleman interposed:

'My good sir,' said he, 'pray let me get an answer. This is the
sixth time I have been here. I was here five times yesterday. My
house is threatened with destruction. It is to be burned down to-
night, and was to have been last night, but they had other business
on their hands. Pray let me get an answer.'

'My good sir,' returned Mr Haredale, shaking his head, 'my house
is burned to the ground. But heaven forbid that yours should be.
Get your answer. Be brief, in mercy to me.'

'Now, you hear this, my lord?'--said the old gentleman, calling up
the stairs, to where the skirt of a dressing-gown fluttered on the
landing-place. 'Here is a gentleman here, whose house was actually
burnt down last night.'

'Dear me, dear me,' replied a testy voice, 'I am very sorry for
it, but what am I to do? I can't build it up again. The chief
magistrate of the city can't go and be a rebuilding of people's
houses, my good sir. Stuff and nonsense!'

'But the chief magistrate of the city can prevent people's houses
from having any need to be rebuilt, if the chief magistrate's a
man, and not a dummy--can't he, my lord?' cried the old gentleman
in a choleric manner.

'You are disrespectable, sir,' said the Lord Mayor--'leastways,
disrespectful I mean.'

'Disrespectful, my lord!' returned the old gentleman. 'I was
respectful five times yesterday. I can't be respectful for ever.
Men can't stand on being respectful when their houses are going to
be burnt over their heads, with them in 'em. What am I to do, my
lord? AM I to have any protection!'

'I told you yesterday, sir,' said the Lord Mayor, 'that you might
have an alderman in your house, if you could get one to come.'

'What the devil's the good of an alderman?' returned the choleric
old gentleman.

'--To awe the crowd, sir,' said the Lord Mayor.

'Oh Lord ha' mercy!' whimpered the old gentleman, as he wiped his
forehead in a state of ludicrous distress, 'to think of sending an
alderman to awe a crowd! Why, my lord, if they were even so many
babies, fed on mother's milk, what do you think they'd care for an
alderman! Will YOU come?'

'I!' said the Lord Mayor, most emphatically: 'Certainly not.'

'Then what,' returned the old gentleman, 'what am I to do? Am I a
citizen of England? Am I to have the benefit of the laws? Am I to
have any return for the King's taxes?'

'I don't know, I am sure,' said the Lord Mayor; 'what a pity it is
you're a Catholic! Why couldn't you be a Protestant, and then you
wouldn't have got yourself into such a mess? I'm sure I don't know
what's to be done.--There are great people at the bottom of these
riots.--Oh dear me, what a thing it is to be a public character!--
You must look in again in the course of the day.--Would a javelin-
man do?--Or there's Philips the constable,--HE'S disengaged,--he's
not very old for a man at his time of life, except in his legs, and
if you put him up at a window he'd look quite young by candle-
light, and might frighten 'em very much.--Oh dear!--well!--we'll
see about it.'

'Stop!' cried Mr Haredale, pressing the door open as the porter
strove to shut it, and speaking rapidly, 'My Lord Mayor, I beg you
not to go away. I have a man here, who committed a murder eight-
and-twenty years ago. Half-a-dozen words from me, on oath, will
justify you in committing him to prison for re-examination. I only
seek, just now, to have him consigned to a place of safety. The
least delay may involve his being rescued by the rioters.'

'Oh dear me!' cried the Lord Mayor. 'God bless my soul--and body--
oh Lor!--well I!--there are great people at the bottom of these
riots, you know.--You really mustn't.'

'My lord,' said Mr Haredale, 'the murdered gentleman was my
brother; I succeeded to his inheritance; there were not wanting
slanderous tongues at that time, to whisper that the guilt of this
most foul and cruel deed was mine--mine, who loved him, as he
knows, in Heaven, dearly. The time has come, after all these years
of gloom and misery, for avenging him, and bringing to light a
crime so artful and so devilish that it has no parallel. Every
second's delay on your part loosens this man's bloody hands again,
and leads to his escape. My lord, I charge you hear me, and
despatch this matter on the instant.'

'Oh dear me!' cried the chief magistrate; 'these an't business
hours, you know--I wonder at you--how ungentlemanly it is of you--
you mustn't--you really mustn't.--And I suppose you are a Catholic

'I am,' said Mr Haredale.

'God bless my soul, I believe people turn Catholics a'purpose to
vex and worrit me,' cried the Lord Mayor. 'I wish you wouldn't
come here; they'll be setting the Mansion House afire next, and we
shall have you to thank for it. You must lock your prisoner up,
sir--give him to a watchman--and--call again at a proper time.
Then we'll see about it!'

Before Mr Haredale could answer, the sharp closing of a door and
drawing of its bolts, gave notice that the Lord Mayor had retreated
to his bedroom, and that further remonstrance would be unavailing.
The two clients retreated likewise, and the porter shut them out
into the street.

'That's the way he puts me off,' said the old gentleman, 'I can
get no redress and no help. What are you going to do, sir?'

'To try elsewhere,' answered Mr Haredale, who was by this time on

'I feel for you, I assure you--and well I may, for we are in a
common cause,' said the old gentleman. 'I may not have a house to
offer you to-night; let me tender it while I can. On second
thoughts though,' he added, putting up a pocket-book he had
produced while speaking, 'I'll not give you a card, for if it was
found upon you, it might get you into trouble. Langdale--that's my
name--vintner and distiller--Holborn Hill--you're heartily welcome,
if you'll come.'

Mr Haredale bowed, and rode off, close beside the chaise as before;
determining to repair to the house of Sir John Fielding, who had
the reputation of being a bold and active magistrate, and fully
resolved, in case the rioters should come upon them, to do
execution on the murderer with his own hands, rather than suffer
him to be released.

They arrived at the magistrate's dwelling, however, without
molestation (for the mob, as we have seen, were then intent on
deeper schemes), and knocked at the door. As it had been pretty
generally rumoured that Sir John was proscribed by the rioters, a
body of thief-takers had been keeping watch in the house all night.
To one of them Mr Haredale stated his business, which appearing to
the man of sufficient moment to warrant his arousing the justice,
procured him an immediate audience.

No time was lost in committing the murderer to Newgate; then a new
building, recently completed at a vast expense, and considered to
be of enormous strength. The warrant being made out, three of the
thief-takers bound him afresh (he had been struggling, it seemed,
in the chaise, and had loosened his manacles); gagged him lest they
should meet with any of the mob, and he should call to them for
help; and seated themselves, along with him, in the carriage.
These men being all well armed, made a formidable escort; but they
drew up the blinds again, as though the carriage were empty, and
directed Mr Haredale to ride forward, that he might not attract
attention by seeming to belong to it.

The wisdom of this proceeding was sufficiently obvious, for as they
hurried through the city they passed among several groups of men,
who, if they had not supposed the chaise to be quite empty, would
certainly have stopped it. But those within keeping quite close,
and the driver tarrying to be asked no questions, they reached the
prison without interruption, and, once there, had him out, and safe
within its gloomy walls, in a twinkling.

With eager eyes and strained attention, Mr Haredale saw him
chained, and locked and barred up in his cell. Nay, when he had
left the jail, and stood in the free street, without, he felt the
iron plates upon the doors, with his hands, and drew them over the
stone wall, to assure himself that it was real; and to exult in its
being so strong, and rough, and cold. It was not until he turned
his back upon the jail, and glanced along the empty streets, so
lifeless and quiet in the bright morning, that he felt the weight
upon his heart; that he knew he was tortured by anxiety for those
he had left at home; and that home itself was but another bead in
the long rosary of his regrets.

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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

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