Chapter 74

Mr Dennis, having been made prisoner late in the evening, was removed to a neighbouring roundhouse for that night, and carried before a justice for examination on the next day, Saturday. The charges against him being numerous and weighty, and it being in particular proved, by the testimony of Gabriel Varden, that he had shown a special desire to take his life, he was committed for trial. Moreover he was honoured with the distinction of being considered a chief among the insurgents, and received from the magistrate’s lips the complimentary assurance that he was in a position of imminent danger, and would do well to prepare himself for the worst.

To say that Mr Dennis’s modesty was not somewhat startled by these honours, or that he was altogether prepared for so flattering a reception, would be to claim for him a greater amount of stoical philosophy than even he possessed. Indeed this gentleman’s stoicism was of that not uncommon kind, which enables a man to bear with exemplary fortitude the afflictions of his friends, but renders him, by way of counterpoise, rather selfish and sensitive in respect of any that happen to befall himself. It is therefore no disparagement to the great officer in question to state, without disguise or concealment, that he was at first very much alarmed, and that he betrayed divers emotions of fear, until his reasoning powers came to his relief, and set before him a more hopeful prospect.

In proportion as Mr Dennis exercised these intellectual qualities with which he was gifted, in reviewing his best chances of coming off handsomely and with small personal inconvenience, his spirits rose, and his confidence increased. When he remembered the great estimation in which his office was held, and the constant demand for his services; when he bethought himself, how the Statute Book regarded him as a kind of Universal Medicine applicable to men, women, and children, of every age and variety of criminal constitution; and how high he stood, in his official capacity, in the favour of the Crown, and both Houses of Parliament, the Mint, the Bank of England, and the Judges of the land; when he recollected that whatever Ministry was in or out, he remained their peculiar pet and panacea, and that for his sake England stood single and conspicuous among the civilised nations of the earth: when he called these things to mind and dwelt upon them, he felt certain that the national gratitude must relieve him from the consequences of his late proceedings, and would certainly restore him to his old place in the happy social system.

With these crumbs, or as one may say, with these whole loaves of comfort to regale upon, Mr Dennis took his place among the escort that awaited him, and repaired to jail with a manly indifference. Arriving at Newgate, where some of the ruined cells had been hastily fitted up for the safe keeping of rioters, he was warmly received by the turnkeys, as an unusual and interesting case, which agreeably relieved their monotonous duties. In this spirit, he was fettered with great care, and conveyed into the interior of the prison.

‘Brother,’ cried the hangman, as, following an officer, he traversed under these novel circumstances the remains of passages with which he was well acquainted, ‘am I going to be along with anybody?’

‘If you’d have left more walls standing, you’d have been alone,’ was the reply. ‘As it is, we’re cramped for room, and you’ll have company.’

‘Well,’ returned Dennis, ‘I don’t object to company, brother. I rather like company. I was formed for society, I was.’

‘That’s rather a pity, an’t it?’ said the man.

‘No,’ answered Dennis, ‘I’m not aware that it is. Why should it be a pity, brother?’

‘Oh! I don’t know,’ said the man carelessly. ‘I thought that was what you meant. Being formed for society, and being cut off in your flower, you know—’

‘I say,’ interposed the other quickly, ‘what are you talking of? Don’t. Who’s a-going to be cut off in their flowers?’

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