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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 66

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 66

Although he had had no rest upon the previous night, and had
watched with little intermission for some weeks past, sleeping only
in the day by starts and snatches, Mr Haredale, from the dawn of
morning until sunset, sought his niece in every place where he
deemed it possible she could have taken refuge. All day long,
nothing, save a draught of water, passed his lips; though he
prosecuted his inquiries far and wide, and never so much as sat
down, once.

In every quarter he could think of; at Chigwell and in London; at
the houses of the tradespeople with whom he dealt, and of the
friends he knew; he pursued his search. A prey to the most
harrowing anxieties and apprehensions, he went from magistrate to
magistrate, and finally to the Secretary of State. The only
comfort he received was from this minister, who assured him that
the Government, being now driven to the exercise of the extreme
prerogatives of the Crown, were determined to exert them; that a
proclamation would probably be out upon the morrow, giving to the
military, discretionary and unlimited power in the suppression of
the riots; that the sympathies of the King, the Administration, and
both Houses of Parliament, and indeed of all good men of every
religious persuasion, were strongly with the injured Catholics; and
that justice should be done them at any cost or hazard. He told
him, moreover, that other persons whose houses had been burnt, had
for a time lost sight of their children or their relatives, but
had, in every case, within his knowledge, succeeded in discovering
them; that his complaint should be remembered, and fully stated in
the instructions given to the officers in command, and to all the
inferior myrmidons of justice; and that everything that could be
done to help him, should be done, with a goodwill and in good

Grateful for this consolation, feeble as it was in its reference to
the past, and little hope as it afforded him in connection with the
subject of distress which lay nearest to his heart; and really
thankful for the interest the minister expressed, and seemed to
feel, in his condition; Mr Haredale withdrew. He found himself,
with the night coming on, alone in the streets; and destitute of
any place in which to lay his head.

He entered an hotel near Charing Cross, and ordered some
refreshment and a bed. He saw that his faint and worn appearance
attracted the attention of the landlord and his waiters; and
thinking that they might suppose him to be penniless, took out his
purse, and laid it on the table. It was not that, the landlord
said, in a faltering voice. If he were one of those who had
suffered by the rioters, he durst not give him entertainment. He
had a family of children, and had been twice warned to be careful
in receiving guests. He heartily prayed his forgiveness, but what
could he do?

Nothing. No man felt that more sincerely than Mr Haredale. He
told the man as much, and left the house.

Feeling that he might have anticipated this occurrence, after what
he had seen at Chigwell in the morning, where no man dared to touch
a spade, though he offered a large reward to all who would come and
dig among the ruins of his house, he walked along the Strand; too
proud to expose himself to another refusal, and of too generous a
spirit to involve in distress or ruin any honest tradesman who
might be weak enough to give him shelter. He wandered into one of
the streets by the side of the river, and was pacing in a
thoughtful manner up and down, thinking of things that had happened
long ago, when he heard a servant-man at an upper window call to
another on the opposite side of the street, that the mob were
setting fire to Newgate.

To Newgate! where that man was! His failing strength returned,
his energies came back with tenfold vigour, on the instant. If it
were possible--if they should set the murderer free--was he, after
all he had undergone, to die with the suspicion of having slain his
own brother, dimly gathering about him--

He had no consciousness of going to the jail; but there he stood,
before it. There was the crowd wedged and pressed together in a
dense, dark, moving mass; and there were the flames soaring up into
the air. His head turned round and round, lights flashed before
his eyes, and he struggled hard with two men.

'Nay, nay,' said one. 'Be more yourself, my good sir. We attract
attention here. Come away. What can you do among so many men?'

'The gentleman's always for doing something,' said the other,
forcing him along as he spoke. 'I like him for that. I do like
him for that.'

They had by this time got him into a court, hard by the prison. He
looked from one to the other, and as he tried to release himself,
felt that he tottered on his feet. He who had spoken first, was
the old gentleman whom he had seen at the Lord Mayor's. The other
was John Grueby, who had stood by him so manfully at Westminster.

'What does this mean?' he asked them faintly. 'How came we

'On the skirts of the crowd,' returned the distiller; 'but come
with us. Pray come with us. You seem to know my friend here?'

'Surely,' said Mr Haredale, looking in a kind of stupor at John.

'He'll tell you then,' returned the old gentleman, 'that I am a man
to be trusted. He's my servant. He was lately (as you know, I
have no doubt) in Lord George Gordon's service; but he left it, and
brought, in pure goodwill to me and others, who are marked by the
rioters, such intelligence as he had picked up, of their designs.'

--'On one condition, please, sir,' said John, touching his hat. No
evidence against my lord--a misled man--a kind-hearted man, sir.
My lord never intended this.'

'The condition will be observed, of course,' rejoined the old
distiller. 'It's a point of honour. But come with us, sir; pray
come with us.'

John Grueby added no entreaties, but he adopted a different kind of
persuasion, by putting his arm through one of Mr Haredale's, while
his master took the other, and leading him away with all speed.

Sensible, from a strange lightness in his head, and a difficulty in
fixing his thoughts on anything, even to the extent of bearing his
companions in his mind for a minute together without looking at
them, that his brain was affected by the agitation and suffering
through which he had passed, and to which he was still a prey, Mr
Haredale let them lead him where they would. As they went along,
he was conscious of having no command over what he said or thought,
and that he had a fear of going mad.

The distiller lived, as he had told him when they first met, on
Holborn Hill, where he had great storehouses and drove a large
trade. They approached his house by a back entrance, lest they
should attract the notice of the crowd, and went into an upper
room which faced towards the street; the windows, however, in
common with those of every other room in the house, were boarded up
inside, in order that, out of doors, all might appear quite dark.

They laid him on a sofa in this chamber, perfectly insensible; but
John immediately fetching a surgeon, who took from him a large
quantity of blood, he gradually came to himself. As he was, for
the time, too weak to walk, they had no difficulty in persuading
him to remain there all night, and got him to bed without loss of a
minute. That done, they gave him cordial and some toast, and
presently a pretty strong composing-draught, under the influence
of which he soon fell into a lethargy, and, for a time, forgot his

The vintner, who was a very hearty old fellow and a worthy man, had
no thoughts of going to bed himself, for he had received several
threatening warnings from the rioters, and had indeed gone out that
evening to try and gather from the conversation of the mob whether
his house was to be the next attacked. He sat all night in an
easy-chair in the same room--dozing a little now and then--and
received from time to time the reports of John Grueby and two or
three other trustworthy persons in his employ, who went out into
the streets as scouts; and for whose entertainment an ample
allowance of good cheer (which the old vintner, despite his
anxiety, now and then attacked himself) was set forth in an
adjoining chamber.

These accounts were of a sufficiently alarming nature from the
first; but as the night wore on, they grew so much worse, and
involved such a fearful amount of riot and destruction, that in
comparison with these new tidings all the previous disturbances
sunk to nothing.

The first intelligence that came, was of the taking of Newgate, and
the escape of all the prisoners, whose track, as they made up
Holborn and into the adjacent streets, was proclaimed to those
citizens who were shut up in their houses, by the rattling of
their chains, which formed a dismal concert, and was heard in every
direction, as though so many forges were at work. The flames too,
shone so brightly through the vintner's skylights, that the rooms
and staircases below were nearly as light as in broad day; while
the distant shouting of the mob seemed to shake the very walls and

At length they were heard approaching the house, and some minutes
of terrible anxiety ensued. They came close up, and stopped before
it; but after giving three loud yells, went on. And although they
returned several times that night, creating new alarms each time,
they did nothing there; having their hands full. Shortly after
they had gone away for the first time, one of the scouts came
running in with the news that they had stopped before Lord
Mansfield's house in Bloomsbury Square.

Soon afterwards there came another, and another, and then the first
returned again, and so, by little and little, their tale was this:--
That the mob gathering round Lord Mansfield's house, had called on
those within to open the door, and receiving no reply (for Lord and
Lady Mansfield were at that moment escaping by the backway), forced
an entrance according to their usual custom. That they then began
to demolish the house with great fury, and setting fire to it in
several parts, involved in a common ruin the whole of the costly
furniture, the plate and jewels, a beautiful gallery of pictures,
the rarest collection of manuscripts ever possessed by any one
private person in the world, and worse than all, because nothing
could replace this loss, the great Law Library, on almost every
page of which were notes in the Judge's own hand, of inestimable
value,--being the results of the study and experience of his whole
life. That while they were howling and exulting round the fire, a
troop of soldiers, with a magistrate among them, came up, and being
too late (for the mischief was by that time done), began to
disperse the crowd. That the Riot Act being read, and the crowd
still resisting, the soldiers received orders to fire, and
levelling their muskets shot dead at the first discharge six men
and a woman, and wounded many persons; and loading again directly,
fired another volley, but over the people's heads it was supposed,
as none were seen to fall. That thereupon, and daunted by the
shrieks and tumult, the crowd began to disperse, and the soldiers
went away, leaving the killed and wounded on the ground: which they
had no sooner done than the rioters came back again, and taking up
the dead bodies, and the wounded people, formed into a rude
procession, having the bodies in the front. That in this order
they paraded off with a horrible merriment; fixing weapons in the
dead men's hands to make them look as if alive; and preceded by a
fellow ringing Lord Mansfield's dinner-bell with all his might.

The scouts reported further, that this party meeting with some
others who had been at similar work elsewhere, they all united into
one, and drafting off a few men with the killed and wounded,
marched away to Lord Mansfield's country seat at Caen Wood, between
Hampstead and Highgate; bent upon destroying that house likewise,
and lighting up a great fire there, which from that height should
be seen all over London. But in this, they were disappointed, for
a party of horse having arrived before them, they retreated faster
than they went, and came straight back to town.

There being now a great many parties in the streets, each went to
work according to its humour, and a dozen houses were quickly
blazing, including those of Sir John Fielding and two other
justices, and four in Holborn--one of the greatest thoroughfares in
London--which were all burning at the same time, and burned until
they went out of themselves, for the people cut the engine hose,
and would not suffer the firemen to play upon the flames. At one
house near Moorfields, they found in one of the rooms some canary
birds in cages, and these they cast into the fire alive. The poor
little creatures screamed, it was said, like infants, when they
were flung upon the blaze; and one man was so touched that he tried
in vain to save them, which roused the indignation of the crowd,
and nearly cost him his life.

At this same house, one of the fellows who went through the rooms,
breaking the furniture and helping to destroy the building, found a
child's doll--a poor toy--which he exhibited at the window to the
mob below, as the image of some unholy saint which the late
occupants had worshipped. While he was doing this, another man
with an equally tender conscience (they had both been foremost in
throwing down the canary birds for roasting alive), took his seat
on the parapet of the house, and harangued the crowd from a
pamphlet circulated by the Association, relative to the true
principles of Christianity! Meanwhile the Lord Mayor, with his
hands in his pockets, looked on as an idle man might look at any
other show, and seemed mightily satisfied to have got a good place.

Such were the accounts brought to the old vintner by his servants
as he sat at the side of Mr Haredale's bed, having been unable even
to doze, after the first part of the night; too much disturbed by
his own fears; by the cries of the mob, the light of the fires, and
the firing of the soldiers. Such, with the addition of the release
of all the prisoners in the New Jail at Clerkenwell, and as many
robberies of passengers in the streets, as the crowd had leisure to
indulge in, were the scenes of which Mr Haredale was happily
unconscious, and which were all enacted before midnight.

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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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