Barnaby rudge a tale of.., p.1
Produced by Donald Lainson
A TALE OF THE RIOTS OF 'EIGHTY
by Charles Dickens
I've left in archaic forms such as 'to-morrow' or 'to-day' as theyoccured in my copy. Also please be aware if spell-checking, that withindialog many 'mispelled' words exist, i.e. 'wery' for 'very', as intendedby the author.
The late Mr Waterton having, some time ago, expressed his opinion thatravens are gradually becoming extinct in England, I offered the fewfollowing words about my experience of these birds.
The raven in this story is a compound of two great originals, of whom Iwas, at different times, the proud possessor. The first was in the bloomof his youth, when he was discovered in a modest retirement in London,by a friend of mine, and given to me. He had from the first, as Sir HughEvans says of Anne Page, 'good gifts', which he improved by study andattention in a most exemplary manner. He slept in a stable--generallyon horseback--and so terrified a Newfoundland dog by his preternaturalsagacity, that he has been known, by the mere superiority of his genius,to walk off unmolested with the dog's dinner, from before his face. Hewas rapidly rising in acquirements and virtues, when, in an evil hour,his stable was newly painted. He observed the workmen closely, saw thatthey were careful of the paint, and immediately burned to possess it. Ontheir going to dinner, he ate up all they had left behind, consisting ofa pound or two of white lead; and this youthful indiscretion terminatedin death.
While I was yet inconsolable for his loss, another friend of minein Yorkshire discovered an older and more gifted raven at a villagepublic-house, which he prevailed upon the landlord to part with for aconsideration, and sent up to me. The first act of this Sage, was, toadminister to the effects of his predecessor, by disinterring all thecheese and halfpence he had buried in the garden--a work of immenselabour and research, to which he devoted all the energies of his mind.When he had achieved this task, he applied himself to the acquisitionof stable language, in which he soon became such an adept, that he wouldperch outside my window and drive imaginary horses with great skill,all day. Perhaps even I never saw him at his best, for his former mastersent his duty with him, 'and if I wished the bird to come out verystrong, would I be so good as to show him a drunken man'--which I neverdid, having (unfortunately) none but sober people at hand.
But I could hardly have respected him more, whatever the stimulatinginfluences of this sight might have been. He had not the least respect,I am sorry to say, for me in return, or for anybody but the cook; towhom he was attached--but only, I fear, as a Policeman might have been.Once, I met him unexpectedly, about half-a-mile from my house, walkingdown the middle of a public street, attended by a pretty large crowd,and spontaneously exhibiting the whole of his accomplishments. Hisgravity under those trying circumstances, I can never forget, nor theextraordinary gallantry with which, refusing to be brought home, hedefended himself behind a pump, until overpowered by numbers. It mayhave been that he was too bright a genius to live long, or it may havebeen that he took some pernicious substance into his bill, and thenceinto his maw--which is not improbable, seeing that he new-pointedthe greater part of the garden-wall by digging out the mortar, brokecountless squares of glass by scraping away the putty all round theframes, and tore up and swallowed, in splinters, the greater part of awooden staircase of six steps and a landing--but after some three yearshe too was taken ill, and died before the kitchen fire. He kept his eyeto the last upon the meat as it roasted, and suddenly turned overon his back with a sepulchral cry of 'Cuckoo!' Since then I have beenravenless.
No account of the Gordon Riots having been to my knowledge introducedinto any Work of Fiction, and the subject presenting very extraordinaryand remarkable features, I was led to project this Tale.
It is unnecessary to say, that those shameful tumults, while theyreflect indelible disgrace upon the time in which they occurred, and allwho had act or part in them, teach a good lesson. That what we falselycall a religious cry is easily raised by men who have no religion, andwho in their daily practice set at nought the commonest principles ofright and wrong; that it is begotten of intolerance and persecution;that it is senseless, besotted, inveterate and unmerciful; all Historyteaches us. But perhaps we do not know it in our hearts too well,to profit by even so humble an example as the 'No Popery' riots ofSeventeen Hundred and Eighty.
However imperfectly those disturbances are set forth in the followingpages, they are impartially painted by one who has no sympathy with theRomish Church, though he acknowledges, as most men do, some esteemedfriends among the followers of its creed.
In the description of the principal outrages, reference has been had tothe best authorities of that time, such as they are; the account givenin this Tale, of all the main features of the Riots, is substantiallycorrect.
Mr Dennis's allusions to the flourishing condition of his trade in thosedays, have their foundation in Truth, and not in the Author's fancy. Anyfile of old Newspapers, or odd volume of the Annual Register, will provethis with terrible ease.
Even the case of Mary Jones, dwelt upon with so much pleasure by thesame character, is no effort of invention. The facts were stated,exactly as they are stated here, in the House of Commons. Whether theyafforded as much entertainment to the merry gentlemen assembled there,as some other most affecting circumstances of a similar nature mentionedby Sir Samuel Romilly, is not recorded.
That the case of Mary Jones may speak the more emphatically foritself, I subjoin it, as related by SIR WILLIAM MEREDITH in a speech inParliament, 'on Frequent Executions', made in 1777.
'Under this act,' the Shop-lifting Act, 'one Mary Jones was executed,whose case I shall just mention; it was at the time when press warrantswere issued, on the alarm about Falkland Islands. The woman's husbandwas pressed, their goods seized for some debts of his, and she, with twosmall children, turned into the streets a-begging. It is a circumstancenot to be forgotten, that she was very young (under nineteen), and mostremarkably handsome. She went to a linen-draper's shop, took some coarselinen off the counter, and slipped it under her cloak; the shopman sawher, and she laid it down: for this she was hanged. Her defence was (Ihave the trial in my pocket), "that she had lived in credit, and wantedfor nothing, till a press-gang came and stole her husband from her; butsince then, she had no bed to lie on; nothing to give her childrento eat; and they were almost naked; and perhaps she might have donesomething wrong, for she hardly knew what she did." The parish officerstestified the truth of this story; but it seems, there had been a gooddeal of shop-lifting about Ludgate; an example was thought necessary;and this woman was hanged for the comfort and satisfaction ofshopkeepers in Ludgate Street. When brought to receive sentence,she behaved in such a frantic manner, as proved her mind to be in adistracted and desponding state; and the child was sucking at her breastwhen she set out for Tyburn.'
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