Part 15 out of 15
to the draught of July air which must infallibly come rushing in on
this same door being opened--that the knock was repeated, in a yet
more startling manner than before.
'Is anybody going to open that door?' cried the locksmith. 'Or
shall I come?'
Upon that, Dolly went running back into the parlour, all dimples
and blushes; and Joe opened it with a mighty noise, and other
superfluous demonstrations of being in a violent hurry.
'Well,' said the locksmith, when he reappeared: 'what is it? eh
Joe? what are you laughing at?'
'Nothing, sir. It's coming in.'
'Who's coming in? what's coming in?' Mrs Varden, as much at a loss
as her husband, could only shake her head in answer to his
inquiring look: so, the locksmith wheeled his chair round to
command a better view of the room-door, and stared at it with his
eyes wide open, and a mingled expression of curiosity and wonder
shining in his jolly face.
Instead of some person or persons straightway appearing, divers
remarkable sounds were heard, first in the workshop and afterwards
in the little dark passage between it and the parlour, as though
some unwieldy chest or heavy piece of furniture were being brought
in, by an amount of human strength inadequate to the task. At
length after much struggling and humping, and bruising of the wall
on both sides, the door was forced open as by a battering-ram; and
the locksmith, steadily regarding what appeared beyond, smote his
thigh, elevated his eyebrows, opened his mouth, and cried in a loud
voice expressive of the utmost consternation:
'Damme, if it an't Miggs come back!'
The young damsel whom he named no sooner heard these words, than
deserting a small boy and a very large box by which she was
accompanied, and advancing with such precipitation that her bonnet
flew off her head, burst into the room, clasped her hands (in which
she held a pair of pattens, one in each), raised her eyes devotedly
to the ceiling, and shed a flood of tears.
'The old story!' cried the locksmith, looking at her in
inexpressible desperation. 'She was born to be a damper, this
young woman! nothing can prevent it!'
'Ho master, ho mim!' cried Miggs, 'can I constrain my feelings in
these here once agin united moments! Ho Mr Warsen, here's
blessedness among relations, sir! Here's forgivenesses of
injuries, here's amicablenesses!'
The locksmith looked from his wife to Dolly, and from Dolly to Joe,
and from Joe to Miggs, with his eyebrows still elevated and his
mouth still open. When his eyes got back to Miggs, they rested on
'To think,' cried Miggs with hysterical joy, 'that Mr Joe, and dear
Miss Dolly, has raly come together after all as has been said and
done contrairy! To see them two a-settin' along with him and her,
so pleasant and in all respects so affable and mild; and me not
knowing of it, and not being in the ways to make no preparations
for their teas. Ho what a cutting thing it is, and yet what sweet
sensations is awoke within me!'
Either in clasping her hands again, or in an ecstasy of pious joy,
Miss Miggs clinked her pattens after the manner of a pair of
cymbals, at this juncture; and then resumed, in the softest
'And did my missis think--ho goodness, did she think--as her own
Miggs, which supported her under so many trials, and understood her
natur' when them as intended well but acted rough, went so deep
into her feelings--did she think as her own Miggs would ever leave
her? Did she think as Miggs, though she was but a servant, and
knowed that servitudes was no inheritances, would forgit that she
was the humble instruments as always made it comfortable between
them two when they fell out, and always told master of the meekness
and forgiveness of her blessed dispositions! Did she think as
Miggs had no attachments! Did she think that wages was her only
To none of these interrogatories, whereof every one was more
pathetically delivered than the last, did Mrs Varden answer one
word: but Miggs, not at all abashed by this circumstance, turned to
the small boy in attendance--her eldest nephew--son of her own
married sister--born in Golden Lion Court, number twenty-sivin,
and bred in the very shadow of the second bell-handle on the right-
hand door-post--and with a plentiful use of her pocket-
handkerchief, addressed herself to him: requesting that on his
return home he would console his parents for the loss of her, his
aunt, by delivering to them a faithful statement of his having left
her in the bosom of that family, with which, as his aforesaid
parents well knew, her best affections were incorporated; that he
would remind them that nothing less than her imperious sense of
duty, and devoted attachment to her old master and missis, likewise
Miss Dolly and young Mr Joe, should ever have induced her to
decline that pressing invitation which they, his parents, had, as
he could testify, given her, to lodge and board with them, free of
all cost and charge, for evermore; lastly, that he would help her
with her box upstairs, and then repair straight home, bearing her
blessing and her strong injunctions to mingle in his prayers a
supplication that he might in course of time grow up a locksmith,
or a Mr Joe, and have Mrs Vardens and Miss Dollys for his relations
Having brought this admonition to an end--upon which, to say the
truth, the young gentleman for whose benefit it was designed,
bestowed little or no heed, having to all appearance his faculties
absorbed in the contemplation of the sweetmeats,--Miss Miggs
signified to the company in general that they were not to be
uneasy, for she would soon return; and, with her nephew's aid,
prepared to bear her wardrobe up the staircase.
'My dear,' said the locksmith to his wife. 'Do you desire this?'
'I desire it!' she answered. 'I am astonished--I am amazed--at her
audacity. Let her leave the house this moment.'
Miggs, hearing this, let her end of the box fall heavily to the
floor, gave a very loud sniff, crossed her arms, screwed down the
corners of her mouth, and cried, in an ascending scale, 'Ho, good
gracious!' three distinct times.
'You hear what your mistress says, my love,' remarked the
locksmith. 'You had better go, I think. Stay; take this with you,
for the sake of old service.'
Miss Miggs clutched the bank-note he took from his pocket-book and
held out to her; deposited it in a small, red leather purse; put
the purse in her pocket (displaying, as she did so, a considerable
portion of some under-garment, made of flannel, and more black
cotton stocking than is commonly seen in public); and, tossing her
head, as she looked at Mrs Varden, repeated--
'Ho, good gracious!'
'I think you said that once before, my dear,' observed the
'Times is changed, is they, mim!' cried Miggs, bridling; 'you can
spare me now, can you? You can keep 'em down without me? You're
not in wants of any one to scold, or throw the blame upon, no
longer, an't you, mim? I'm glad to find you've grown so
independent. I wish you joy, I'm sure!'
With that she dropped a curtsey, and keeping her head erect, her
ear towards Mrs Varden, and her eye on the rest of the company, as
she alluded to them in her remarks, proceeded:
'I'm quite delighted, I'm sure, to find sich independency, feeling
sorry though, at the same time, mim, that you should have been
forced into submissions when you couldn't help yourself--he he he!
It must be great vexations, 'specially considering how ill you
always spoke of Mr Joe--to have him for a son-in-law at last; and
I wonder Miss Dolly can put up with him, either, after being off
and on for so many years with a coachmaker. But I HAVE heerd say,
that the coachmaker thought twice about it--he he he!--and that he
told a young man as was a frind of his, that he hoped he knowed
better than to be drawed into that; though she and all the family
DID pull uncommon strong!'
Here she paused for a reply, and receiving none, went on as before.
'I HAVE heerd say, mim, that the illnesses of some ladies was all
pretensions, and that they could faint away, stone dead, whenever
they had the inclinations so to do. Of course I never see sich
cases with my own eyes--ho no! He he he! Nor master neither--ho
no! He he he! I HAVE heerd the neighbours make remark as some one
as they was acquainted with, was a poor good-natur'd mean-spirited
creetur, as went out fishing for a wife one day, and caught a
Tartar. Of course I never to my knowledge see the poor person
himself. Nor did you neither, mim--ho no. I wonder who it can
be--don't you, mim? No doubt you do, mim. Ho yes. He he he!'
Again Miggs paused for a reply; and none being offered, was so
oppressed with teeming spite and spleen, that she seemed like to
'I'm glad Miss Dolly can laugh,' cried Miggs with a feeble titter.
'I like to see folks a-laughing--so do you, mim, don't you? You
was always glad to see people in spirits, wasn't you, mim? And you
always did your best to keep 'em cheerful, didn't you, mim?
Though there an't such a great deal to laugh at now either; is
there, mim? It an't so much of a catch, after looking out so sharp
ever since she was a little chit, and costing such a deal in dress
and show, to get a poor, common soldier, with one arm, is it, mim?
He he! I wouldn't have a husband with one arm, anyways. I would
have two arms. I would have two arms, if it was me, though instead
of hands they'd only got hooks at the end, like our dustman!'
Miss Miggs was about to add, and had, indeed, begun to add, that,
taking them in the abstract, dustmen were far more eligible matches
than soldiers, though, to be sure, when people were past choosing
they must take the best they could get, and think themselves well
off too; but her vexation and chagrin being of that internally
bitter sort which finds no relief in words, and is aggravated to
madness by want of contradiction, she could hold out no longer, and
burst into a storm of sobs and tears.
In this extremity she fell on the unlucky nephew, tooth and nail,
and plucking a handful of hair from his head, demanded to know how
long she was to stand there to be insulted, and whether or no he
meant to help her to carry out the box again, and if he took a
pleasure in hearing his family reviled: with other inquiries of
that nature; at which disgrace and provocation, the small boy, who
had been all this time gradually lashed into rebellion by the sight
of unattainable pastry, walked off indignant, leaving his aunt and
the box to follow at their leisure. Somehow or other, by dint of
pushing and pulling, they did attain the street at last; where Miss
Miggs, all blowzed with the exertion of getting there, and with her
sobs and tears, sat down upon her property to rest and grieve,
until she could ensnare some other youth to help her home.
'It's a thing to laugh at, Martha, not to care for,' whispered the
locksmith, as he followed his wife to the window, and good-
humouredly dried her eyes. 'What does it matter? You had seen
your fault before. Come! Bring up Toby again, my dear; Dolly
shall sing us a song; and we'll be all the merrier for this
Another month had passed, and the end of August had nearly come,
when Mr Haredale stood alone in the mail-coach office at Bristol.
Although but a few weeks had intervened since his conversation with
Edward Chester and his niece, in the locksmith's house, and he had
made no change, in the mean time, in his accustomed style of dress,
his appearance was greatly altered. He looked much older, and more
care-worn. Agitation and anxiety of mind scatter wrinkles and grey
hairs with no unsparing hand; but deeper traces follow on the
silent uprooting of old habits, and severing of dear, familiar
ties. The affections may not be so easily wounded as the passions,
but their hurts are deeper, and more lasting. He was now a
solitary man, and the heart within him was dreary and lonesome.
He was not the less alone for having spent so many years in
seclusion and retirement. This was no better preparation than a
round of social cheerfulness: perhaps it even increased the
keenness of his sensibility. He had been so dependent upon her for
companionship and love; she had come to be so much a part and
parcel of his existence; they had had so many cares and thoughts in
common, which no one else had shared; that losing her was beginning
life anew, and being required to summon up the hope and elasticity
of youth, amid the doubts, distrusts, and weakened energies of
The effort he had made to part from her with seeming cheerfulness
and hope--and they had parted only yesterday--left him the more
depressed. With these feelings, he was about to revisit London for
the last time, and look once more upon the walls of their old home,
before turning his back upon it, for ever.
The journey was a very different one, in those days, from what the
present generation find it; but it came to an end, as the longest
journey will, and he stood again in the streets of the metropolis.
He lay at the inn where the coach stopped, and resolved, before he
went to bed, that he would make his arrival known to no one; would
spend but another night in London; and would spare himself the pang
of parting, even with the honest locksmith.
Such conditions of the mind as that to which he was a prey when he
lay down to rest, are favourable to the growth of disordered
fancies, and uneasy visions. He knew this, even in the horror with
which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to
dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which
had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream. But it was not
a new terror of the night; it had been present to him before, in
many shapes; it had haunted him in bygone times, and visited his
pillow again and again. If it had been but an ugly object, a
childish spectre, haunting his sleep, its return, in its old form,
might have awakened a momentary sensation of fear, which, almost in
the act of waking, would have passed away. This disquiet,
however, lingered about him, and would yield to nothing. When he
closed his eyes again, he felt it hovering near; as he slowly sunk
into a slumber, he was conscious of its gathering strength and
purpose, and gradually assuming its recent shape; when he sprang up
from his bed, the same phantom vanished from his heated brain, and
left him filled with a dread against which reason and waking
thought were powerless.
The sun was up, before he could shake it off. He rose late, but
not refreshed, and remained within doors all that day. He had a
fancy for paying his last visit to the old spot in the evening, for
he had been accustomed to walk there at that season, and desired to
see it under the aspect that was most familiar to him. At such an
hour as would afford him time to reach it a little before sunset,
he left the inn, and turned into the busy street.
He had not gone far, and was thoughtfully making his way among the
noisy crowd, when he felt a hand upon his shoulder, and, turning,
recognised one of the waiters from the inn, who begged his pardon,
but he had left his sword behind him.
'Why have you brought it to me?' he asked, stretching out his hand,
and yet not taking it from the man, but looking at him in a
disturbed and agitated manner.
The man was sorry to have disobliged him, and would carry it back
again. The gentleman had said that he was going a little way into
the country, and that he might not return until late. The roads
were not very safe for single travellers after dark; and, since the
riots, gentlemen had been more careful than ever, not to trust
themselves unarmed in lonely places. 'We thought you were a
stranger, sir,' he added, 'and that you might believe our roads to
be better than they are; but perhaps you know them well, and carry
He took the sword, and putting it up at his side, thanked the man,
and resumed his walk.
It was long remembered that he did this in a manner so strange, and
with such a trembling hand, that the messenger stood looking after
his retreating figure, doubtful whether he ought not to follow, and
watch him. It was long remembered that he had been heard pacing
his bedroom in the dead of the night; that the attendants had
mentioned to each other in the morning, how fevered and how pale he
looked; and that when this man went back to the inn, he told a
fellow-servant that what he had observed in this short interview
lay very heavy on his mind, and that he feared the gentleman
intended to destroy himself, and would never come back alive.
With a half-consciousness that his manner had attracted the man's
attention (remembering the expression of his face when they
parted), Mr Haredale quickened his steps; and arriving at a stand
of coaches, bargained with the driver of the best to carry him so
far on his road as the point where the footway struck across the
fields, and to await his return at a house of entertainment which
was within a stone's-throw of that place. Arriving there in due
course, he alighted and pursued his way on foot.
He passed so near the Maypole, that he could see its smoke rising
from among the trees, while a flock of pigeons--some of its old
inhabitants, doubtless--sailed gaily home to roost, between him and
the unclouded sky. 'The old house will brighten up now,' he said,
as he looked towards it, 'and there will be a merry fireside
beneath its ivied roof. It is some comfort to know that everything
will not be blighted hereabouts. I shall be glad to have one
picture of life and cheerfulness to turn to, in my mind!'
He resumed his walk, and bent his steps towards the Warren. It was
a clear, calm, silent evening, with hardly a breath of wind to stir
the leaves, or any sound to break the stillness of the time, but
drowsy sheep-bells tinkling in the distance, and, at intervals,
the far-off lowing of cattle, or bark of village dogs. The sky
was radiant with the softened glory of sunset; and on the earth,
and in the air, a deep repose prevailed. At such an hour, he
arrived at the deserted mansion which had been his home so long,
and looked for the last time upon its blackened walls.
The ashes of the commonest fire are melancholy things, for in them
there is an image of death and ruin,--of something that has been
bright, and is but dull, cold, dreary dust,--with which our nature
forces us to sympathise. How much more sad the crumbled embers of
a home: the casting down of that great altar, where the worst among
us sometimes perform the worship of the heart; and where the best
have offered up such sacrifices, and done such deeds of heroism,
as, chronicled, would put the proudest temples of old Time, with
all their vaunting annals, to the blush!
He roused himself from a long train of meditation, and walked
slowly round the house. It was by this time almost dark.
He had nearly made the circuit of the building, when he uttered a
half-suppressed exclamation, started, and stood still. Reclining,
in an easy attitude, with his back against a tree, and
contemplating the ruin with an expression of pleasure,--a pleasure
so keen that it overcame his habitual indolence and command of
feature, and displayed itself utterly free from all restraint or
reserve,--before him, on his own ground, and triumphing then, as he
had triumphed in every misfortune and disappointment of his life,
stood the man whose presence, of all mankind, in any place, and
least of all in that, he could the least endure.
Although his blood so rose against this man, and his wrath so
stirred within him, that he could have struck him dead, he put such
fierce constraint upon himself that he passed him without a word or
look. Yes, and he would have gone on, and not turned, though to
resist the Devil who poured such hot temptation in his brain,
required an effort scarcely to be achieved, if this man had not
himself summoned him to stop: and that, with an assumed compassion
in his voice which drove him well-nigh mad, and in an instant
routed all the self-command it had been anguish--acute, poignant
All consideration, reflection, mercy, forbearance; everything by
which a goaded man can curb his rage and passion; fled from him as
he turned back. And yet he said, slowly and quite calmly--far more
calmly than he had ever spoken to him before:
'Why have you called to me?'
'To remark,' said Sir John Chester with his wonted composure, 'what
an odd chance it is, that we should meet here!'
'It IS a strange chance.'
'Strange? The most remarkable and singular thing in the world. I
never ride in the evening; I have not done so for years. The whim
seized me, quite unaccountably, in the middle of last night.--How
very picturesque this is!'--He pointed, as he spoke, to the
dismantled house, and raised his glass to his eye.
'You praise your own work very freely.'
Sir John let fall his glass; inclined his face towards him with an
air of the most courteous inquiry; and slightly shook his head as
though he were remarking to himself, 'I fear this animal is going
'I say you praise your own work very freely,' repeated Mr
'Work!' echoed Sir John, looking smilingly round. 'Mine!--I beg
your pardon, I really beg your pardon--'
'Why, you see,' said Mr Haredale, 'those walls. You see those
tottering gables. You see on every side where fire and smoke have
raged. You see the destruction that has been wanton here. Do you
'My good friend,' returned the knight, gently checking his
impatience with his hand, 'of course I do. I see everything you
speak of, when you stand aside, and do not interpose yourself
between the view and me. I am very sorry for you. If I had not
had the pleasure to meet you here, I think I should have written to
tell you so. But you don't bear it as well as I had expected--
excuse me--no, you don't indeed.'
He pulled out his snuff-box, and addressing him with the superior
air of a man who, by reason of his higher nature, has a right to
read a moral lesson to another, continued:
'For you are a philosopher, you know--one of that stern and rigid
school who are far above the weaknesses of mankind in general. You
are removed, a long way, from the frailties of the crowd. You
contemplate them from a height, and rail at them with a most
impressive bitterness. I have heard you.'
--'And shall again,' said Mr Haredale.
'Thank you,' returned the other. 'Shall we walk as we talk? The
damp falls rather heavily. Well,--as you please. But I grieve to
say that I can spare you only a very few moments.'
'I would,' said Mr Haredale, 'you had spared me none. I would,
with all my soul, you had been in Paradise (if such a monstrous
lie could be enacted), rather than here to-night.'
'Nay,' returned the other--'really--you do yourself injustice. You
are a rough companion, but I would not go so far to avoid you.'
'Listen to me,' said Mr Haredale. 'Listen to me.'
'While you rail?' inquired Sir John.
'While I deliver your infamy. You urged and stimulated to do your
work a fit agent, but one who in his nature--in the very essence of
his being--is a traitor, and who has been false to you (despite the
sympathy you two should have together) as he has been to all
others. With hints, and looks, and crafty words, which told again
are nothing, you set on Gashford to this work--this work before us
now. With these same hints, and looks, and crafty words, which
told again are nothing, you urged him on to gratify the deadly
hate he owes me--I have earned it, I thank Heaven--by the abduction
and dishonour of my niece. You did. I see denial in your looks,'
he cried, abruptly pointing in his face, and stepping back, 'and
denial is a lie!'
He had his hand upon his sword; but the knight, with a contemptuous
smile, replied to him as coldly as before.
'You will take notice, sir--if you can discriminate sufficiently--
that I have taken the trouble to deny nothing. Your discernment is
hardly fine enough for the perusal of faces, not of a kind as
coarse as your speech; nor has it ever been, that I remember; or,
in one face that I could name, you would have read indifference,
not to say disgust, somewhat sooner than you did. I speak of a
long time ago,--but you understand me.'
'Disguise it as you will, you mean denial. Denial explicit or
reserved, expressed or left to be inferred, is still a lie. You
say you don't deny. Do you admit?'
'You yourself,' returned Sir John, suffering the current of his
speech to flow as smoothly as if it had been stemmed by no one word
of interruption, 'publicly proclaimed the character of the
gentleman in question (I think it was in Westminster Hall) in terms
which relieve me from the necessity of making any further allusion
to him. You may have been warranted; you may not have been; I
can't say. Assuming the gentleman to be what you described, and
to have made to you or any other person any statements that may
have happened to suggest themselves to him, for the sake of his
own security, or for the sake of money, or for his own amusement,
or for any other consideration,--I have nothing to say of him,
except that his extremely degrading situation appears to me to be
shared with his employers. You are so very plain yourself, that
you will excuse a little freedom in me, I am sure.'
'Attend to me again, Sir John but once,' cried Mr Haredale; 'in
your every look, and word, and gesture, you tell me this was not
your act. I tell you that it was, and that you tampered with the
man I speak of, and with your wretched son (whom God forgive!) to
do this deed. You talk of degradation and character. You told me
once that you had purchased the absence of the poor idiot and his
mother, when (as I have discovered since, and then suspected) you
had gone to tempt them, and had found them flown. To you I traced
the insinuation that I alone reaped any harvest from my brother's
death; and all the foul attacks and whispered calumnies that
followed in its train. In every action of my life, from that first
hope which you converted into grief and desolation, you have stood,
like an adverse fate, between me and peace. In all, you have ever
been the same cold-blooded, hollow, false, unworthy villain. For
the second time, and for the last, I cast these charges in your
teeth, and spurn you from me as I would a faithless dog!'
With that he raised his arm, and struck him on the breast so that
he staggered. Sir John, the instant he recovered, drew his sword,
threw away the scabbard and his hat, and running on his adversary
made a desperate lunge at his heart, which, but that his guard was
quick and true, would have stretched him dead upon the grass.
In the act of striking him, the torrent of his opponent's rage had
reached a stop. He parried his rapid thrusts, without returning
them, and called to him, with a frantic kind of terror in his face,
to keep back.
'Not to-night! not to-night!' he cried. 'In God's name, not
Seeing that he lowered his weapon, and that he would not thrust in
turn, Sir John lowered his.
'Not to-night!' his adversary cried. 'Be warned in time!'
'You told me--it must have been in a sort of inspiration--' said
Sir John, quite deliberately, though now he dropped his mask, and
showed his hatred in his face, 'that this was the last time. Be
assured it is! Did you believe our last meeting was forgotten?
Did you believe that your every word and look was not to be
accounted for, and was not well remembered? Do you believe that I
have waited your time, or you mine? What kind of man is he who
entered, with all his sickening cant of honesty and truth, into a
bond with me to prevent a marriage he affected to dislike, and when
I had redeemed my part to the spirit and the letter, skulked from
his, and brought the match about in his own time, to rid himself of
a burden he had grown tired of, and cast a spurious lustre on his
'I have acted,' cried Mr Haredale, 'with honour and in good faith.
I do so now. Do not force me to renew this duel to-night!'
'You said my "wretched" son, I think?' said Sir John, with a smile.
'Poor fool! The dupe of such a shallow knave--trapped into
marriage by such an uncle and by such a niece--he well deserves
your pity. But he is no longer a son of mine: you are welcome to
the prize your craft has made, sir.'
'Once more,' cried his opponent, wildly stamping on the ground,
'although you tear me from my better angel, I implore you not to
come within the reach of my sword to-night. Oh! why were you here
at all! Why have we met! To-morrow would have cast us far apart
'That being the case,' returned Sir John, without the least
emotion, 'it is very fortunate we have met to-night. Haredale, I
have always despised you, as you know, but I have given you credit
for a species of brute courage. For the honour of my judgment,
which I had thought a good one, I am sorry to find you a coward.'
Not another word was spoken on either side. They crossed swords,
though it was now quite dusk, and attacked each other fiercely.
They were well matched, and each was thoroughly skilled in the
management of his weapon.
After a few seconds they grew hotter and more furious, and pressing
on each other inflicted and received several slight wounds. It was
directly after receiving one of these in his arm, that Mr Haredale,
making a keener thrust as he felt the warm blood spirting out,
plunged his sword through his opponent's body to the hilt.
Their eyes met, and were on each other as he drew it out. He put
his arm about the dying man, who repulsed him, feebly, and dropped
upon the turf. Raising himself upon his hands, he gazed at him for
an instant, with scorn and hatred in his look; but, seeming to
remember, even then, that this expression would distort his
features after death, he tried to smile, and, faintly moving his
right hand, as if to hide his bloody linen in his vest, fell back
dead--the phantom of last night.
Chapter the Last
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
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
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.