During the whole of this day, every regiment in or near the metropolis was o_uty in one or other part of the town; and the regulars and militia, i_bedience to the orders which were sent to every barrack and station withi_wenty-four hours’ journey, began to pour in by all the roads. But th_isturbance had attained to such a formidable height, and the rioters ha_rown, with impunity, to be so audacious, that the sight of this great force, continually augmented by new arrivals, instead of operating as a check, stimulated them to outrages of greater hardihood than any they had ye_ommitted; and helped to kindle a flame in London, the like of which had neve_een beheld, even in its ancient and rebellious times.
All yesterday, and on this day likewise, the commander-in-chief endeavoured t_rouse the magistrates to a sense of their duty, and in particular the Lor_ayor, who was the faintest-hearted and most timid of them all. With thi_bject, large bodies of the soldiery were several times despatched to th_ansion House to await his orders: but as he could, by no threats o_ersuasions, be induced to give any, and as the men remained in the ope_treet, fruitlessly for any good purpose, and thrivingly for a very bad one; these laudable attempts did harm rather than good. For the crowd, becomin_peedily acquainted with the Lord Mayor’s temper, did not fail to tak_dvantage of it by boasting that even the civil authorities were opposed t_he Papists, and could not find it in their hearts to molest those who wer_uilty of no other offence. These vaunts they took care to make within th_earing of the soldiers; and they, being naturally loth to quarrel with th_eople, received their advances kindly enough: answering, when they were aske_f they desired to fire upon their countrymen, ‘No, they would be damned i_hey did;’ and showing much honest simplicity and good nature. The feelin_hat the military were No- Popery men, and were ripe for disobeying orders an_oining the mob, soon became very prevalent in consequence. Rumours of thei_isaffection, and of their leaning towards the popular cause, spread fro_outh to mouth with astonishing rapidity; and whenever they were drawn up idl_n the streets or squares, there was sure to be a crowd about them, cheerin_nd shaking hands, and treating them with a great show of confidence an_ffection.
By this time, the crowd was everywhere; all concealment and disguise were lai_side, and they pervaded the whole town. If any man among them wanted money, he had but to knock at the door of a dwelling-house, or walk into a shop, an_emand it in the rioters name; and his demand was instantly complied with. Th_eaceable citizens being afraid to lay hands upon them, singly and alone, i_ay be easily supposed that when gathered together in bodies, they wer_erfectly secure from interruption. They assembled in the streets, traverse_hem at their will and pleasure, and publicly concerted their plans. Busines_as quite suspended; the greater part of the shops were closed; most of th_ouses displayed a blue flag in token of their adherence to the popular side; and even the Jews in Houndsditch, Whitechapel, and those quarters, wrote upo_heir doors or window-shutters, ‘This House is a True Protestant.’ The crow_as the law, and never was the law held in greater dread, or more implicitl_beyed.
It was about six o’clock in the evening, when a vast mob poured into Lincoln’_nn Fields by every avenue, and divided—evidently in pursuance of a previou_esign—into several parties. It must not be understood that this arrangemen_as known to the whole crowd, but that it was the work of a few leaders; who, mingling with the men as they came upon the ground, and calling to them t_all into this or that parry, effected it as rapidly as if it had bee_etermined on by a council of the whole number, and every man had known hi_lace.
It was perfectly notorious to the assemblage that the largest body, whic_omprehended about two-thirds of the whole, was designed for the attack o_ewgate. It comprehended all the rioters who had been conspicuous in any o_heir former proceedings; all those whom they recommended as daring hands an_it for the work; all those whose companions had been taken in the riots; an_ great number of people who were relatives or friends of felons in the jail.
This last class included, not only the most desperate and utterly abandone_illains in London, but some who were comparatively innocent. There was mor_han one woman there, disguised in man’s attire, and bent upon the rescue of _hild or brother. There were the two sons of a man who lay under sentence o_eath, and who was to be executed along with three others, on the next day bu_ne. There was a great parry of boys whose fellow-pickpockets were in th_rison; and at the skirts of all, a score of miserable women, outcasts fro_he world, seeking to release some other fallen creature as miserable a_hemselves, or moved by a general sympathy perhaps—God knows—with all who wer_ithout hope, and wretched.
Old swords, and pistols without ball or powder; sledge-hammers, knives, axes, saws, and weapons pillaged from the butchers’ shops; a forest of iron bars an_ooden clubs; long ladders for scaling the walls, each carried on th_houlders of a dozen men; lighted torches; tow smeared with pitch, and tar, and brimstone; staves roughly plucked from fence and paling; and even crutche_aken from crippled beggars in the streets; composed their arms. When all wa_eady, Hugh and Dennis, with Simon Tappertit between them, led the way.
Roaring and chafing like an angry sea, the crowd pressed after them.
Instead of going straight down Holborn to the jail, as all expected, thei_eaders took the way to Clerkenwell, and pouring down a quiet street, halte_efore a locksmith’s house—the Golden Key.
‘Beat at the door,’ cried Hugh to the men about him. ‘We want one of his craf_o-night. Beat it in, if no one answers.’
The shop was shut. Both door and shutters were of a strong and sturdy kind, and they knocked without effect. But the impatient crowd raising a cry of ‘Se_ire to the house!’ and torches being passed to the front, an upper window wa_hrown open, and the stout old locksmith stood before them.
‘What now, you villains!’ he demanded. ‘Where is my daughter?’
‘Ask no questions of us, old man,’ retorted Hugh, waving his comrades to b_ilent, ‘but come down, and bring the tools of your trade. We want you.’
‘Want me!’ cried the locksmith, glancing at the regimental dress he wore: ‘Ay, and if some that I could name possessed the hearts of mice, ye should have ha_e long ago. Mark me, my lad—and you about him do the same. There are a scor_mong ye whom I see now and know, who are dead men from this hour. Begone! an_ob an undertaker’s while you can! You’ll want some coffins before long.’
‘Will you come down?’ cried Hugh.
‘Will you give me my daughter, ruffian?’ cried the locksmith.
‘I know nothing of her,’ Hugh rejoined. ‘Burn the door!’
‘Stop!’ cried the locksmith, in a voice that made them falter— presenting, a_e spoke, a gun. ‘Let an old man do that. You can spare him better.’
The young fellow who held the light, and who was stooping down before th_oor, rose hastily at these words, and fell back. The locksmith ran his ey_long the upturned faces, and kept the weapon levelled at the threshold of hi_ouse. It had no other rest than his shoulder, but was as steady as the hous_tself.
‘Let the man who does it, take heed to his prayers,’ he said firmly; ‘I war_im.’
Snatching a torch from one who stood near him, Hugh was stepping forward wit_n oath, when he was arrested by a shrill and piercing shriek, and, lookin_pward, saw a fluttering garment on the house- top.
There was another shriek, and another, and then a shrill voice cried, ‘I_immun below!’ At the same moment a lean neck was stretched over the parapet, and Miss Miggs, indistinctly seen in the gathering gloom of evening, screeche_n a frenzied manner, ‘Oh! dear gentlemen, let me hear Simmuns’s answer fro_is own lips. Speak to me, Simmun. Speak to me!’
Mr Tappertit, who was not at all flattered by this compliment, looked up, an_idding her hold her peace, ordered her to come down and open the door, fo_hey wanted her master, and would take no denial.
‘Oh good gentlemen!’ cried Miss Miggs. ‘Oh my own precious, precious Simmun—’
‘Hold your nonsense, will you!’ retorted Mr Tappertit; ‘and come down and ope_he door.—G. Varden, drop that gun, or it will be worse for you.’
‘Don’t mind his gun,’ screamed Miggs. ‘Simmun and gentlemen, I poured a mug o_able-beer right down the barrel.’
The crowd gave a loud shout, which was followed by a roar of laughter.
‘It wouldn’t go off, not if you was to load it up to the muzzle,’ screame_iggs. ‘Simmun and gentlemen, I’m locked up in the front attic, through th_ittle door on the right hand when you think you’ve got to the very top of th_tairs—and up the flight of corner steps, being careful not to knock you_eads against the rafters, and not to tread on one side in case you shoul_all into the two-pair bedroom through the lath and plasture, which do no_ear, but the contrairy. Simmun and gentlemen, I’ve been locked up here fo_afety, but my endeavours has always been, and always will be, to be on th_ight side—the blessed side and to prenounce the Pope of Babylon, and all he_nward and her outward workings, which is Pagin. My sentiments is of littl_onsequences, I know,’ cried Miggs, with additional shrillness, ‘for m_ositions is but a servant, and as sich, of humilities, still I give_xpressions to my feelings, and places my reliances on them which entertain_y own opinions!’
Without taking much notice of these outpourings of Miss Miggs after she ha_ade her first announcement in relation to the gun, the crowd raised a ladde_gainst the window where the locksmith stood, and notwithstanding that h_losed, and fastened, and defended it manfully, soon forced an entrance b_hivering the glass and breaking in the frames. After dealing a few stou_lows about him, he found himself defenceless, in the midst of a furiou_rowd, which overflowed the room and softened off in a confused heap of face_t the door and window.
They were very wrathful with him (for he had wounded two men), and even calle_ut to those in front, to bring him forth and hang him on a lamp-post. Bu_abriel was quite undaunted, and looked from Hugh and Dennis, who held him b_ither arm, to Simon Tappertit, who confronted him.
‘You have robbed me of my daughter,’ said the locksmith, ‘who is far dearer t_e than my life; and you may take my life, if you will. I bless God that _ave been enabled to keep my wife free of this scene; and that He has made m_ man who will not ask mercy at such hands as yours.’
‘And a wery game old gentleman you are,’ said Mr Dennis, approvingly; ‘and yo_xpress yourself like a man. What’s the odds, brother, whether it’s a lamp- post to-night, or a feather- bed ten year to come, eh?’
The locksmith glanced at him disdainfully, but returned no other answer.
‘For my part,’ said the hangman, who particularly favoured the lamp-pos_uggestion, ‘I honour your principles. They’re mine exactly. In suc_entiments as them,’ and here he emphasised his discourse with an oath, ‘I’_eady to meet you or any man halfway.— Have you got a bit of cord anywhere_andy? Don’t put yourself out of the way, if you haven’t. A handkecher wil_o.’
‘Don’t be a fool, master,’ whispered Hugh, seizing Varden roughly by th_houlder; ‘but do as you’re bid. You’ll soon hear what you’re wanted for. D_t!’
‘I’ll do nothing at your request, or that of any scoundrel here,’ returned th_ocksmith. ‘If you want any service from me, you may spare yourselves th_ains of telling me what it is. I tell you, beforehand, I’ll do nothing fo_ou.’
Mr Dennis was so affected by this constancy on the part of the staunch ol_an, that he protested—almost with tears in his eyes— that to baulk hi_nclinations would be an act of cruelty and hard dealing to which he, for one, never could reconcile his conscience. The gentleman, he said, had avowed in s_any words that he was ready for working off; such being the case, h_onsidered it their duty, as a civilised and enlightened crowd, to work hi_ff. It was not often, he observed, that they had it in their power t_ccommodate themselves to the wishes of those from whom they had th_isfortune to differ. Having now found an individual who expressed a desir_hich they could reasonably indulge (and for himself he was free to confes_hat in his opinion that desire did honour to his feelings), he hoped the_ould decide to accede to his proposition before going any further. It was a_xperiment which, skilfully and dexterously performed, would be over in fiv_inutes, with great comfort and satisfaction to all parties; and though it di_ot become him (Mr Dennis) to speak well of himself he trusted he might b_llowed to say that he had practical knowledge of the subject, and, bein_aturally of an obliging and friendly disposition, would work the gentlema_ff with a deal of pleasure.
These remarks, which were addressed in the midst of a frightful din an_urmoil to those immediately about him, were received with great favour; no_o much, perhaps, because of the hangman’s eloquence, as on account of th_ocksmith’s obstinacy. Gabriel was in imminent peril, and he knew it; but h_reserved a steady silence; and would have done so, if they had been debatin_hether they should roast him at a slow fire.
As the hangman spoke, there was some stir and confusion on the ladder; an_irectly he was silent—so immediately upon his holding his peace, that th_rowd below had no time to learn what he had been saying, or to shout i_esponse—some one at the window cried:
‘He has a grey head. He is an old man: Don’t hurt him!’
The locksmith turned, with a start, towards the place from which the words ha_ome, and looked hurriedly at the people who were hanging on the ladder an_linging to each other.
‘Pay no respect to my grey hair, young man,’ he said, answering the voice an_ot any one he saw. ‘I don’t ask it. My heart is green enough to scorn an_espise every man among you, band of robbers that you are!’
This incautious speech by no means tended to appease the ferocity of th_rowd. They cried again to have him brought out; and it would have gone har_ith the honest locksmith, but that Hugh reminded them, in answer, that the_anted his services, and must have them.
‘So, tell him what we want,’ he said to Simon Tappertit, ‘and quickly. An_pen your ears, master, if you would ever use them after to-night.’
Gabriel folded his arms, which were now at liberty, and eyed his old ‘prentic_n silence.
‘Lookye, Varden,’ said Sim, ‘we’re bound for Newgate.’
‘I know you are,’ returned the locksmith. ‘You never said a truer word tha_hat.’
‘To burn it down, I mean,’ said Simon, ‘and force the gates, and set th_risoners at liberty. You helped to make the lock of the great door.’
‘I did,’ said the locksmith. ‘You owe me no thanks for that—as you’ll fin_efore long.’
‘Maybe,’ returned his journeyman, ‘but you must show us how to force it.’
‘Yes; for you know, and I don’t. You must come along with us, and pick it wit_our own hands.’
‘When I do,’ said the locksmith quietly, ‘my hands shall drop off at th_rists, and you shall wear them, Simon Tappertit, on your shoulders fo_paulettes.’
‘We’ll see that,’ cried Hugh, interposing, as the indignation of the crow_gain burst forth. ‘You fill a basket with the tools he’ll want, while I brin_im downstairs. Open the doors below, some of you. And light the grea_aptain, others! Is there no business afoot, my lads, that you can do nothin_ut stand and grumble?’
They looked at one another, and quickly dispersing, swarmed over the house, plundering and breaking, according to their custom, and carrying off suc_rticles of value as happened to please their fancy. They had no great lengt_f time for these proceedings, for the basket of tools was soon prepared an_lung over a man’s shoulders. The preparations being now completed, an_verything ready for the attack, those who were pillaging and destroying i_he other rooms were called down to the workshop. They were about to issu_orth, when the man who had been last upstairs, stepped forward, and asked i_he young woman in the garret (who was making a terrible noise, he said, an_ept on screaming without the least cessation) was to be released?
For his own part, Simon Tappertit would certainly have replied in th_egative, but the mass of his companions, mindful of the good service she ha_one in the matter of the gun, being of a different opinion, he had nothin_or it but to answer, Yes. The man, accordingly, went back again to th_escue, and presently returned with Miss Miggs, limp and doubled up, and ver_amp from much weeping.
As the young lady had given no tokens of consciousness on their wa_ownstairs, the bearer reported her either dead or dying; and being at som_oss what to do with her, was looking round for a convenient bench or heap o_shes on which to place her senseless form, when she suddenly came upon he_eet by some mysterious means, thrust back her hair, stared wildly at M_appertit, cried, ‘My Simmuns’s life is not a wictim!’ and dropped into hi_rms with such promptitude that he staggered and reeled some paces back, beneath his lovely burden.
‘Oh bother!’ said Mr Tappertit. ‘Here. Catch hold of her, somebody. Lock he_p again; she never ought to have been let out.’
‘My Simmun!’ cried Miss Miggs, in tears, and faintly. ‘My for ever, eve_lessed Simmun!’
‘Hold up, will you,’ said Mr Tappertit, in a very unresponsive tone, ‘I’ll le_ou fall if you don’t. What are you sliding your feet off the ground for?’
‘My angel Simmuns!’ murmured Miggs—‘he promised—’
‘Promised! Well, and I’ll keep my promise,’ answered Simon, testily. ‘I mea_o provide for you, don’t I? Stand up!’
‘Where am I to go? What is to become of me after my actions of this night!’ cried Miggs. ‘What resting-places now remains but in the silent tombses!’
‘I wish you was in the silent tombses, I do,’ cried Mr Tappertit, ‘and boxe_p tight, in a good strong one. Here,’ he cried to one of the bystanders, i_hose ear he whispered for a moment: ‘Take her off, will you. You understan_here?’
The fellow nodded; and taking her in his arms, notwithstanding her broke_rotestations, and her struggles (which latter species of opposition, involving scratches, was much more difficult of resistance), carried her away.
They who were in the house poured out into the street; the locksmith was take_o the head of the crowd, and required to walk between his two conductors; th_hole body was put in rapid motion; and without any shouts or noise they bor_own straight on Newgate, and halted in a dense mass before the prison-gate.