By Charles Matthews

Friday, April 8, 2011

14. Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens, pp. 534-576

Barnaby Rudge (Penguin Classics)Chapters 59-63
We now discover what has happened to Emma and Dolly: Hugh abducted them, and they are being kept in "an old post-chaise or chariot," guarded by Sim and Dennis. Ascertaining that the coast is clear, they now set off toward London, avoiding the main road.

"Miss Haredale, whose feelings were usually of a quieter kind than Dolly's, and no so much on the surface, was dreadfully alarmed, and indeed had only just recovered from a swoon." She is especially worried about her uncle, and "the idea that he had fallen in a general massacre of the Catholics that night -- no very wild or improbably supposition after what they had seen and undergone -- struck her dumb." Dolly is anything but dumb, but her thoughts now turn to Joe Willet.
When they reach London after midnight and stop in a lonely place, "Hugh suddenly opened the door, jumped in, and took his seat between them." They struggle as he tries to kiss them, and Emma faints, which pleases Dennis: "I always like 'em to faint, unless they're very tender and composed." They're taken into "a miserable cottage," where Dolly emits "a scream of joy" when Sim Tappertit enters, thinking that he has arrived with her father to rescue them. But when she realizes that Sim is one of their abductors, she "hid her face in her hands; and sobbed more bitterly than ever," and when he proclaims himself her husband, "Dolly, goaded to desperation, wound her hands in his hair, and crying out amidst her tears that he was a dreadful little wretch, and always had been, shook, and pulled, and beat him, until he was fain to call for help, most lustily. Hugh had never admired her half so much as at that moment."
They leave the two women there, warning them that the place is well-guarded, and that if they make any attempt to escape, passers-by and neighbors will be told that they're Catholics "and all the exertions our men can make, may not be able to save your lives." As they leave, Sim tells Hugh, "you shall have Miggs (her that I promised you, you know) within three days." The statement leaves Hugh helpless with laughter.

Hugh, Sim, and Dennis proceed to The Boot, but they are met by one of their company who has been warning everyone away from the inn because it has been occupied by soldiers. "He had not heard a word of Barnaby -- didn't even know his name -- but it had been said in his hearing that some man had been taken and carried off to Newgate." So they hurry to Fleet Market where they find some of their fellow rioters in a pub. While they are asking for information there, a man arrives asking for Hugh. It is "A one-armed man, with his head and face tied up with a bloody cloth, as though he had been severely beaten." He tells Hugh that Barnaby is in Newgate, and that he "was one of the few who tried to rescue him, and he called to me and told me to tell Hugh where he was." In the uproar that follows this news, the one-armed man, whose "face was nearly hidden by the bandage," is forgotten and disappears. There is a rush for the door by those who want to go lay siege to Newgate immediately, but Hugh and Dennis calm them down: It's broad daylight, they point out, and it would be best to wait for night and plan their attack. Then, Hugh says, they will burn "every jail in London."

In the meantime, Haredale and Solomon Daisy have taken their prisoner, Rudge, to Chigwell, hoping to find support in their efforts to take him to London and jail. But the townsfolk are too terrified of the rioters to help, saying that the rioters had told them that anyone who helped Haredale would be punished. Finally he locates a chaise and a pair of horses, and "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." He accompanies them with their prisoner to London.

Along the way they encounter even more terrified people who refuse to assist them, and they are told that the magistrates are so intimidated that they probably won't "have the hardihood to commit a prisoner to jail, on his complaint." By dawn they reach the Mansion House, the residence of the Lord Mayor of London, where "a portly old man, with a very red, or rather purple face" is pleading for protection from the rioters, who have threatened to burn his house down. The Lord Mayor is refusing to help, arguing that "There are great people at the bottom of these riots" -- which the note tells us is a direct quote from the actual Lord Mayor of the time, Brackley Kennett, in response to an appeal from a Catholic for aid.

Haredale explains that he is not there because his house was burned down but because he had captured a murderer, and "The least delay may involve his being rescued by the rioters." This only produces more sputtering reluctance, and a reassertion of the "great people" excuse, from the Lord Mayor. Haredale persists, "Every second's delay on your part loosens this man's bloody hands again, and leads to his escape." When the Lord Mayor asks Haredale if he's a Catholic, and he says yes, "'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." And he retreats to his bedroom and bolts the door. Before Haredale departs, the other man introduces himself as Langdale, a vintner and distiller, and invites him to stay at his house in Holborn Hill, if it's still standing.

Haredale then goes to Sir John Fielding's house, where he finally succeeds in having Rudge committed to Newgate. Three armed men then escort Rudge in the carriage to the prison, where Haredale sees him chained and locked in his cell. But now he is "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."
In his cell, Rudge is visited by Stagg, to whom he tells the story of how he was caught. He had gone to Chigwell because when he discovered that Haredale was staying on watch at Mrs. Rudge's house he knew he could never escape from him as long as Haredale was alive. So he decided to join the mob that planned to destroy the Warren. But the alarm bell had unnerved him, and he didn't reach the house until after the mob had dispersed and the damage had been done. When he heard Haredale arrive there too, he decided to hide in the ruins of the turret. But as Haerdale followed him into the ruins, Rudge had a vision of the gardener, who had witnessed his murder of Reuben Haredale. Rudge had murdered the gardener, dressed him in his own clothes, and thrown the body into the pond, all to cover up the first murder. In his vision, the gardener "raised above his head a bloody hand ... and fixed his eyes on me. I knew the chase would end there."

After the murders, Rudge told his wife, who called "on Heaven to witness that she and her unborn child renounced me from that hour." Stagg informs Rudge that his wife is in London, and that his son has joined the rioters. He proposes to visit Mrs. Rudge and tell her that he will persuade Barnaby to leave the rioters and return to her, if she will testify under oath that Rudge is dead and that the man imprisoned in Newgate is not him. Rudge finds a glimmer of hope in this plot, and Stagg takes his leave.

Rudge now goes out into the courtyard "and paced it to and fro; startling the echoes, as he went, with the harsh jangling of his fetters." Another cell near his has an open door, and Barnaby appears in it. He recognizes his son, and after a little reflection, Barnaby recognizes him as the man who robbed Edward Chester and attacks him. They struggle for a moment until Rudge says, "I am your father." Barnaby hesitates for a moment and hugs him. "Grip croaked loudly, and hopped about them, round and round, as if enclosing them in a magic circle, and invoking all the powers of mischief."
The military is still trying to persuade the magistrates, "and in particular the Lord Mayor, who was the faintest-hearted and most timid of them all," to give them the authority to crack down on the rioters. And the mob used their reluctance for propaganda, "boasting that even the civil authorities were opposed to the Papists, and could not find it in their hearts to molest those who were guilty of no other offence." The crowd has so intimidated the city that "If any man among them wanted money, he had but to knock at the door of a dwelling-house, or walk into a shop, and demand it in the rioters' name; and his demand was instantly complied with." 

Preparing for their assault on Newgate, Hugh, Dennis, and Sim lead a crowd to Varden's house, where they want his aid in opening the locks to the prison. The shop is closed and the door and shutters are closed and sturdy, and they are threatening to set fire to the house when Gabriel appears at an upstairs window and tells them, "Begone! and rob an undertaker's while you can! You'll want some coffins before long." Hugh orders someone to set fire to the door, but Gabriel shows them that he has a gun and points it at the man who is attempting to start the fire; he moves back. 

Hugh takes a torch and is about to set the fire himself, "when he was arrested by a shrill and piercing shriek." It's Miggs, in the attic. She calls for Sim, who reluctantly responds, and she tells them that Gabriel's gun is useless: "I poured a mug of table-beer right down the barrel." She goes on to proclaim that "my endeavours has always been, and always will be, to be on the right side -- the blessed side -- and to prenounce the Pope of Babylon, and all her inward and her outward workings, which is Pagin." Meanwhile, the crowd has raised a ladder to the window where Gabriel has been standing and they break their way into the room. 

Dennis is, as usual, all for hanging Gabriel, but Hugh tells the locksmith to do what they want him to do. "Gabriel was in imminent peril, and he knew it; but he preserved a steady silence; and would have done so, if they had been debating whether they should roast him at a slow fire." Someone calls out, "He has a grey head. He is an old man: Don't hurt him!" It's almost as if (hint, hint) Gabriel recognizes the voice: "The locksmith turned, with a start, towards the place from which the words had come, and looked hurriedly at the people who were hanging on the ladder and clinging to each other." But he responds by defying them, which angers them more, so that Hugh has to remind them that they need the locksmith's services. Sim tells Varden that they know he made the lock to the great door of the prison and now they need his help in opening it. Gabriel refuses, and Hugh tells Sim to gather the tools they'll need and he'll take charge of Gabriel. 

The mob roams through the house, "plundering and breaking, according to their custom, and carrying off such articles of value as happened to please their fancy." Meanwhile, Miggs has been screaming constantly, and a man asks if she should be released. Sim reluctantly says yes, and the man goes to the attic and comes back "with Miss Miggs, limp and doubled up, and very damp from much weeping." She comes back to life suddenly and hurls herself at Sim, who finally persuades one of the bystanders to carry her off. Gabriel is marched off by the crowd to Newgate.

No comments:

Post a Comment