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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 82

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 82

A parting glance at such of the actors in this little history as
it has not, in the course of its events, dismissed, will bring it
to an end.

Mr Haredale fled that night. Before pursuit could be begun, indeed
before Sir John was traced or missed, he had left the kingdom.
Repairing straight to a religious establishment, known throughout
Europe for the rigour and severity of its discipline, and for the
merciless penitence it exacted from those who sought its shelter as
a refuge from the world, he took the vows which thenceforth shut
him out from nature and his kind, and after a few remorseful years
was buried in its gloomy cloisters.

Two days elapsed before the body of Sir John was found. As soon as
it was recognised and carried home, the faithful valet, true to his
master's creed, eloped with all the cash and movables he could lay
his hands on, and started as a finished gentleman upon his own
account. In this career he met with great success, and would
certainly have married an heiress in the end, but for an unlucky
check which led to his premature decease. He sank under a
contagious disorder, very prevalent at that time, and vulgarly
termed the jail fever.

Lord George Gordon, remaining in his prison in the Tower until
Monday the fifth of February in the following year, was on that
day solemnly tried at Westminster for High Treason. Of this crime
he was, after a patient investigation, declared Not Guilty; upon
the ground that there was no proof of his having called the
multitude together with any traitorous or unlawful intentions. Yet
so many people were there, still, to whom those riots taught no
lesson of reproof or moderation, that a public subscription was set
on foot in Scotland to defray the cost of his defence.

For seven years afterwards he remained, at the strong intercession
of his friends, comparatively quiet; saving that he, every now and
then, took occasion to display his zeal for the Protestant faith in
some extravagant proceeding which was the delight of its enemies;
and saving, besides, that he was formally excommunicated by the
Archbishop of Canterbury, for refusing to appear as a witness in
the Ecclesiastical Court when cited for that purpose. In the year
1788 he was stimulated by some new insanity to write and publish
an injurious pamphlet, reflecting on the Queen of France, in very
violent terms. Being indicted for the libel, and (after various
strange demonstrations in court) found guilty, he fled into Holland
in place of appearing to receive sentence: from whence, as the
quiet burgomasters of Amsterdam had no relish for his company,
he was sent home again with all speed. Arriving in the month of
July at Harwich, and going thence to Birmingham, he made in the
latter place, in August, a public profession of the Jewish
religion; and figured there as a Jew until he was arrested, and
brought back to London to receive the sentence he had evaded. By
virtue of this sentence he was, in the month of December, cast
into Newgate for five years and ten months, and required besides to
pay a large fine, and to furnish heavy securities for his future
good behaviour.

After addressing, in the midsummer of the following year, an appeal
to the commiseration of the National Assembly of France, which the
English minister refused to sanction, he composed himself to
undergo his full term of punishment; and suffering his beard to
grow nearly to his waist, and conforming in all respects to the
ceremonies of his new religion, he applied himself to the study of
history, and occasionally to the art of painting, in which, in his
younger days, he had shown some skill. Deserted by his former
friends, and treated in all respects like the worst criminal in the
jail, he lingered on, quite cheerful and resigned, until the 1st
of November 1793, when he died in his cell, being then only three-
and-forty years of age.

Many men with fewer sympathies for the distressed and needy, with
less abilities and harder hearts, have made a shining figure and
left a brilliant fame. He had his mourners. The prisoners
bemoaned his loss, and missed him; for though his means were not
large, his charity was great, and in bestowing alms among them he
considered the necessities of all alike, and knew no distinction of
sect or creed. There are wise men in the highways of the world who
may learn something, even from this poor crazy lord who died in

To the last, he was truly served by bluff John Grueby. John was at
his side before he had been four-and-twenty hours in the Tower, and
never left him until he died. He had one other constant attendant,
in the person of a beautiful Jewish girl; who attached herself to
him from feelings half religious, half romantic, but whose virtuous
and disinterested character appears to have been beyond the censure
even of the most censorious.

Gashford deserted him, of course. He subsisted for a time upon his
traffic in his master's secrets; and, this trade failing when the
stock was quite exhausted, procured an appointment in the
honourable corps of spies and eavesdroppers employed by the
government. As one of these wretched underlings, he did his
drudgery, sometimes abroad, sometimes at home, and long endured the
various miseries of such a station. Ten or a dozen years ago--not
more--a meagre, wan old man, diseased and miserably poor, was found
dead in his bed at an obscure inn in the Borough, where he was
quite unknown. He had taken poison. There was no clue to his
name; but it was discovered from certain entries in a pocket-book
he carried, that he had been secretary to Lord George Gordon in the
time of the famous riots.

Many months after the re-establishment of peace and order, and even
when it had ceased to be the town-talk, that every military
officer, kept at free quarters by the City during the late alarms,
had cost for his board and lodging four pounds four per day, and
every private soldier two and twopence halfpenny; many months after
even this engrossing topic was forgotten, and the United Bulldogs
were to a man all killed, imprisoned, or transported, Mr Simon
Tappertit, being removed from a hospital to prison, and thence to
his place of trial, was discharged by proclamation, on two wooden
legs. Shorn of his graceful limbs, and brought down from his high
estate to circumstances of utter destitution, and the deepest
misery, he made shift to stump back to his old master, and beg for
some relief. By the locksmith's advice and aid, he was established
in business as a shoeblack, and opened shop under an archway near
the Horse Guards. This being a central quarter, he quickly made a
very large connection; and on levee days, was sometimes known to
have as many as twenty half-pay officers waiting their turn for
polishing. Indeed his trade increased to that extent, that in
course of time he entertained no less than two apprentices, besides
taking for his wife the widow of an eminent bone and rag collector,
formerly of MilIbank. With this lady (who assisted in the
business) he lived in great domestic happiness, only chequered by
those little storms which serve to clear the atmosphere of wedlock,
and brighten its horizon. In some of these gusts of bad weather,
Mr Tappertit would, in the assertion of his prerogative, so far
forget himself, as to correct his lady with a brush, or boot, or
shoe; while she (but only in extreme cases) would retaliate by
taking off his legs, and leaving him exposed to the derision of
those urchins who delight in mischief.

Miss Miggs, baffled in all her schemes, matrimonial and otherwise,
and cast upon a thankless, undeserving world, turned very sharp and
sour; and did at length become so acid, and did so pinch and slap
and tweak the hair and noses of the youth of Golden Lion Court,
that she was by one consent expelled that sanctuary, and desired to
bless some other spot of earth, in preference. It chanced at that
moment, that the justices of the peace for Middlesex proclaimed by
public placard that they stood in need of a female turnkey for the
County Bridewell, and appointed a day and hour for the inspection
of candidates. Miss Miggs attending at the time appointed, was
instantly chosen and selected from one hundred and twenty-four
competitors, and at once promoted to the office; which she held
until her decease, more than thirty years afterwards, remaining
single all that time. It was observed of this lady that while she
was inflexible and grim to all her female flock, she was
particularly so to those who could establish any claim to beauty:
and it was often remarked as a proof of her indomitable virtue and
severe chastity, that to such as had been frail she showed no
mercy; always falling upon them on the slightest occasion, or on no
occasion at all, with the fullest measure of her wrath. Among
other useful inventions which she practised upon this class of
offenders and bequeathed to posterity, was the art of inflicting an
exquisitely vicious poke or dig with the wards of a key in the
small of the back, near the spine. She likewise originated a mode
of treading by accident (in pattens) on such as had small feet;
also very remarkable for its ingenuity, and previously quite

It was not very long, you may be sure, before Joe Willet and Dolly
Varden were made husband and wife, and with a handsome sum in bank
(for the locksmith could afford to give his daughter a good dowry),
reopened the Maypole. It was not very long, you may be sure,
before a red-faced little boy was seen staggering about the Maypole
passage, and kicking up his heels on the green before the door. It
was not very long, counting by years, before there was a red-faced
little girl, another red-faced little boy, and a whole troop of
girls and boys: so that, go to Chigwell when you would, there would
surely be seen, either in the village street, or on the green, or
frolicking in the farm-yard--for it was a farm now, as well as a
tavern--more small Joes and small Dollys than could be easily
counted. It was not a very long time before these appearances
ensued; but it WAS a VERY long time before Joe looked five years
older, or Dolly either, or the locksmith either, or his wife
either: for cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and
are famous preservers of youthful looks, depend upon it.

It was a long time, too, before there was such a country inn as the
Maypole, in all England: indeed it is a great question whether
there has ever been such another to this hour, or ever will be. It
was a long time too--for Never, as the proverb says, is a long day--
before they forgot to have an interest in wounded soldiers at the
Maypole, or before Joe omitted to refresh them, for the sake of his
old campaign; or before the serjeant left off looking in there, now
and then; or before they fatigued themselves, or each other, by
talking on these occasions of battles and sieges, and hard weather
and hard service, and a thousand things belonging to a soldier's
life. As to the great silver snuff-box which the King sent Joe
with his own hand, because of his conduct in the Riots, what guest
ever went to the Maypole without putting finger and thumb into that
box, and taking a great pinch, though he had never taken a pinch of
snuff before, and almost sneezed himself into convulsions even
then? As to the purple-faced vintner, where is the man who lived
in those times and never saw HIM at the Maypole: to all appearance
as much at home in the best room, as if he lived there? And as to
the feastings and christenings, and revellings at Christmas, and
celebrations of birthdays, wedding-days, and all manner of days,
both at the Maypole and the Golden Key,--if they are not notorious,
what facts are?

Mr Willet the elder, having been by some extraordinary means
possessed with the idea that Joe wanted to be married, and that it
would be well for him, his father, to retire into private life, and
enable him to live in comfort, took up his abode in a small cottage
at Chigwell; where they widened and enlarged the fireplace for him,
hung up the boiler, and furthermore planted in the little garden
outside the front-door, a fictitious Maypole; so that he was quite
at home directly. To this, his new habitation, Tom Cobb, Phil
Parkes, and Solomon Daisy went regularly every night: and in the
chimney-corner, they all four quaffed, and smoked, and prosed, and
dozed, as they had done of old. It being accidentally discovered
after a short time that Mr Willet still appeared to consider
himself a landlord by profession, Joe provided him with a slate,
upon which the old man regularly scored up vast accounts for meat,
drink, and tobacco. As he grew older this passion increased upon
him; and it became his delight to chalk against the name of each of
his cronies a sum of enormous magnitude, and impossible to be paid:
and such was his secret joy in these entries, that he would be
perpetually seen going behind the door to look at them, and coming
forth again, suffused with the liveliest satisfaction.

He never recovered the surprise the Rioters had given him, and
remained in the same mental condition down to the last moment of
his life. It was like to have been brought to a speedy
termination by the first sight of his first grandchild, which
appeared to fill him with the belief that some alarming miracle had
happened to Joe. Being promptly blooded, however, by a skilful
surgeon, he rallied; and although the doctors all agreed, on his
being attacked with symptoms of apoplexy six months afterwards,
that he ought to die, and took it very ill that he did not, he
remained alive--possibly on account of his constitutional slowness--
for nearly seven years more, when he was one morning found
speechless in his bed. He lay in this state, free from all tokens
of uneasiness, for a whole week, when he was suddenly restored to
consciousness by hearing the nurse whisper in his son's ear that he
was going. 'I'm a-going, Joseph,' said Mr Willet, turning round
upon the instant, 'to the Salwanners'--and immediately gave up
the ghost.

He left a large sum of money behind him; even more than he was
supposed to have been worth, although the neighbours, according to
the custom of mankind in calculating the wealth that other people
ought to have saved, had estimated his property in good round
numbers. Joe inherited the whole; so that he became a man of great
consequence in those parts, and was perfectly independent.

Some time elapsed before Barnaby got the better of the shock he had
sustained, or regained his old health and gaiety. But he recovered
by degrees: and although he could never separate his condemnation
and escape from the idea of a terrific dream, he became, in other
respects, more rational. Dating from the time of his recovery, he
had a better memory and greater steadiness of purpose; but a dark
cloud overhung his whole previous existence, and never cleared

He was not the less happy for this, for his love of freedom and
interest in all that moved or grew, or had its being in the
elements, remained to him unimpaired. He lived with his mother on
the Maypole farm, tending the poultry and the cattle, working in a
garden of his own, and helping everywhere. He was known to every
bird and beast about the place, and had a name for every one.
Never was there a lighter-hearted husbandman, a creature more
popular with young and old, a blither or more happy soul than
Barnaby; and though he was free to ramble where he would, he never
quitted Her, but was for evermore her stay and comfort.

It was remarkable that although he had that dim sense of the past,
he sought out Hugh's dog, and took him under his care; and that he
never could be tempted into London. When the Riots were many years
old, and Edward and his wife came back to England with a family
almost as numerous as Dolly's, and one day appeared at the Maypole
porch, he knew them instantly, and wept and leaped for joy. But
neither to visit them, nor on any other pretence, no matter how
full of promise and enjoyment, could he be persuaded to set foot in
the streets: nor did he ever conquer this repugnance or look upon
the town again.

Grip soon recovered his looks, and became as glossy and sleek as
ever. But he was profoundly silent. Whether he had forgotten the
art of Polite Conversation in Newgate, or had made a vow in those
troubled times to forego, for a period, the display of his
accomplishments, is matter of uncertainty; but certain it is that
for a whole year he never indulged in any other sound than a grave,
decorous croak. At the expiration of that term, the morning being
very bright and sunny, he was heard to address himself to the
horses in the stable, upon the subject of the Kettle, so often
mentioned in these pages; and before the witness who overheard him
could run into the house with the intelligence, and add to it upon
his solemn affirmation the statement that he had heard him laugh,
the bird himself advanced with fantastic steps to the very door of
the bar, and there cried, 'I'm a devil, I'm a devil, I'm a devil!'
with extraordinary rapture.

From that period (although he was supposed to be much affected by
the death of Mr Willet senior), he constantly practised and
improved himself in the vulgar tongue; and, as he was a mere infant
for a raven when Barnaby was grey, he has very probably gone on
talking to the present time.

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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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