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“ We'll see that,” said Purchase. “ Here, lads, hoist him to the pulpit.”
And amid blows, curses, and the most brutal usage, the unfortunate minister was compelled to mount the steps. As he stood within the pulpit, from which he was wont to address an assemblage so utterly different in character from that now gathered before him, his appearance excited some commiseration even among that ruthless crew. His face was deathly pale, and there was a large gash on his left temple, from which the blood was still flowing freely. His neckcloth and dress were stained with the sanguinary stream.
He exhibited no alarm, but turning his eyes upwards, seemed to murmur a prayer.
“ Now then, doctor,” roared Dammaree—“ "Sacheverell and High church for ever,' or the Lord have mercy on your soul.”
“ The Lord have mercy on your soul, misguided man,” replied Doctor Burgess.
** You will think on your present wicked actions when you are brought to the gallows.”
“Do as you are bid, doctor, without more ado," cried Dammaree, pointing a musket at him, “or-”
“I will never belie my conscience,” rejoined Doctor Burgess, firmly. “ And I call upon you not to commit more crimesnot to stain your soul yet more deeply in blood.”
Dammaree was about to pull the trigger when the musket was dashed from his grasp by Purchase.
“No, curse it !" cried the milder ruffian, “we won't kill him. He is punished severely enough in seeing his chapel demolished.”
The majority of the assemblage concurring in this opinion, Purchase continued—“Come down, old Poundtext, and make your way hence if you don't wish, like a certain Samson, of your acquaintance, to have the house pulled about your ears.
“ God forgive you as I do," said Burgess, meekly. With this he descended, and pressing through the crowd, quitted the chapel.
Before he was gone, however, the pulpit was battered to pieces and the fragments gathered together, and in a few minutes more the chapel was completely gutted by the mob.
Loaded with their spoil, the victors returned to the centre of the square, where they made an immense heap of the broken pieces of the pews and pulpit, and having placed straw and other combustibles among them, they set fire to the pile in various places. The dry wood quickly kindled, and blazed up in a bright ruddy flame, illuminating the countenances of the fantastic groups around it, the nearest of whom took hands, and forming a ring, danced round the bonfire, hallooing and screeching like so many Bedlamites.
While this was going forward, Frank Willis, having fastened a window-curtain, which he had brought from the chapel
, to the end of a long pole, waved it over his head, calling it the "highchurch standard,” and bidding his followers rally round it.
A council of war was next held among the ringleaders, and after some discussion, it was resolved to go and demolish Mr. Earle's meeting-house in Long Acre. This design was communicated to the assemblage by Purchase, and received with tumultuous applause. To Long Acre, accordingly, the majority of the assemblage hied, broke open the doors of the meetinghouse in question, stripped it, as they had done Dr. Burgess's, and carried off the materials for another bonfire. “ Where next, comrades?” cried Purchase, ascending a flight
“ Where next ?" “ To Mr. Bradbury's meeting-house in New-street, Shoelane,” replied a voice from the crowd.
This place of worship being visited and destroyed, the mob next bent their course to Leather-lane, where they pulled down Mr. Taylor's chapel; and thence to Blackfriars, where Mr. Wright's meeting-house shared the same fate. Hitherto, they had encountered little or no opposition, and Aushed with success, they began to meditate yet more formidable enterprises. Arriving at Fleet Bridge, Purchase mounted the stone balustrade, and claimed attention for a moment.
“What say you to going into the city, and destroying the meeting-houses there?" he cried.
“ I'm for somethin' better,” replied Frank Willis, waving his flag. “I vote as how we pull down Salter's Hall.”
“I'm for a greater booty still,” vociferated Dammaree. “Let us break open and rifle the Bank of England. That'll make us all rich for life.”
“ Ay, ay-the Bank of England - let's rifle it,” cried a chorus of voices.
“A glorious suggestion, Frank,” returned Purchase. Come along. Sacheverell and the Bank of England-huzza !"
As they were about to hurry away, a short man, with his hat pulled over his brows, rushed up, almost out of breath, and informed them that the guards were in search of them.
“ They've turned into Lincoln's-Inn-Fields,” cried the man, “ for I myself told their captain you were there. But they'll be bere presently."
“We'll give 'em a warm reception when they come,” said Purchase, resolutely. “ Here lads, throw down all that wooden lumber on the west side of the bridge. Make as great a heap as you can, so as to block up the thoroughfare completely. Get a barrel of pitch from that 'ere lighter lying in the ditch below -I'll knock out the bottom and set fire to it when we hear 'em comin', and we'll see whether they'll dare to pass the bridge when that's done. Sacheverell and the Bank of England for ever-huzza !"
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
IN WHAT WAY THE KIOTERS WERE DISPERSED,
MEANWHILE intelligence of these tumults had been received at Whitehall, by the Earl of Sunderland, who instantly repaired to Saint James's Palace, and reported to the queen what was going forward, expressing his apprehension of the extent of the riot.
“ I am grieved, but not surprised, to hear of the disturbances, my lord,” replied Anne.“ They are the natural consequence of the ill-judged proceedings against Doctor Sacheverell.”
“But what will your majesty have done?” asked Sunderland. “ You will not allow the lives and properties of your subjects to be sacrificed by a lawless mob ?”:
• Assuredly not, my lord,” replied the queen. “Let the horse and foot guards be instantly sent out to disperse them.”
“But your majesty's sacred person must not be left undefended at this hour,” replied the earl.
“ Have no fear for me, my lord,” said Anne. “Heaven will be my guard. The mob will do me no injury, and I would show myself to them without uneasiness. Disperse them as I have said, but let the task be executed with as little violence as possible."
Sunderland then returned to the cock-pit, where he found the lord chancellor, the Duke of Newcastle, and some other noblemen. After a brief consultation together, Captain Horsey, an exempt, was summoned, and received instructions from the earl to mount immediately, and quell the disturbances.
“ I have some scruple in obeying your lordship,” replied Captain Horsey,
“ unless I am relieved. Belonging as I do to the queen's body-guard, I am responsible for any accident that may happen to her majesty.”
“It is the queen's express wish that this should be done, sir," cried the earl, hastily.
“ That does not relieve me, my lord,” replied Horsey, pertinaciously; “ and I will not stir, unless I have your authority in writing.”
“Here it is, then,” said the earl, sitting down, and hurriedly tracing a few lines on a sheet of paper, which he gave to the captain. “ Are you now content ?"
Humph!" exclaimed Horsey, glancing at the order. “ This does not specify whether I am to preach to the mob, or fight them, my lord. If I am to preach, I should wish to be accompanied by some better orator than myself. But if I am to fight, why that's my vocation, and I will do my best.”
“ Zounds, sir,” cried the earl, impatiently, “ if you are as long in dispersing the mob, as you are in setting forth, you'll give them time to destroy half the churches in London. About the business quickly, sir. Use discretion and judgment, and forbear all violence, except in case of necessity.”
Thus exhorted, the captain left the room, and ordering his men to mount, rode in search of the rioters.
As they galloped along the Strand, information was given them of the bonfire in Lincoln's Inn-Fields, and they shaped their course in that direction, but on arriving there, they found the fire nearly extinguished, and a pack of boys tossing about the embers. At the approach of the soldiery, these ragamuffins took to their heels, but some of them were speedily captured, when intelligence was obtained that the mob, having pulled down three or four other meeting-houses, had gone towards Blackfriars.
On learning this, the captain gave the word to proceed thither at once, and putting spurs to their horses, the troop dashed through Temple Bar, and so along Fleet-street. As they came in sight of the little bridge which then crossed Fleet Ditch, a bright flame suddenly sprung up, increasing each moment in volume and brilliancy, and revealing, as they drew nearer, a great pile of burning benches, pews, and other matters. Behind this pile was ranged a mighty rabble rout, lining, to a considerable distance, both on the right and left, the opposite bank of the ditch. The ruddy light of the fire glimmered on the arms of the rioters, and shewed the extent of their numbers. It was also reflected on the black and inert waters of the stream at tbeir feet, disclosing here and there a lighter, or other bark, or falling upon the picturesque outline of some old building.
In the centre of the bridge stood Purchase and Dammaree, each with a drawn hanger in one hand, and a pistol in the other, while mounted upon the balustrade, stood Frank Willis, waving his standard triumphantly over their heads.
Meanwhile, the fire burnt so furiously, as apparently to prevent all chance of the soldiers passing the bridge, and a loud shout was set up by the rabble as Captain Horsey halted in front of it.
A few minutes were spent in reconnoitring, after which a trumpet was blown. Amid the silence produced by this call, Horsey raised himself in his saddle, and called in a loud voice,
“ In the queen's name I command you to disperse, and go peaceably to your homes. All shall be pardoned, except your ringleaders.”
To this Purchase answered in an equally loud and derisive tone, “ We are loyal subjects ourselves. We will fight for the queen — for the High church and Doctor Sacheverell. No Whigs !—no dissenters !"
“Ay, Sacheverell for ever, and confusion to his enemies." responded the mob.
“Charge them, men,” cried Horsey, spurring his horse towards the fire, and endeavouring to force him through it. But the spirited animal swerved and reared, and despite his master's efforts, dashed off in another direction.
With the exception of two or three, the whole troop were equally unsuccessful. Their horses refused to approach the flames; and a shower of brickbats, stones, and missiles increased the general disorder. As to the three men who did effect a passage, their horses were so scared and burnt as to be quite unmanageable, and the poor fellows were speedily dismounted and disarmed. Some dozen others, also, who tried to pass through Fleet Ditch, stuck fast in the mud, and were severely handled by the mob before they could be extricated.
Meantime, loud shouts of triumph were raised by the rioters, and Purchase called upon them to heap more fuel on the fire, which was done by throwing more benches and broken pews upon it. Some half dozen men then approached, bearing a pulpit on their shoulders, which by their combined efforts was cast into the very midst of the fire, where it remained erect. At this spectacle a roar of laughter burst from the rabble, in which some of the guard, in spite of their anger at their discomfiture, joined. Encouraged by this, Purchase shouted out to them, "Don't fight against us, brothers. We are for the queen and the church.”
Ordering some of his men to ride round by Holborn Bridge, and attack the rioters in the rear, Captain Horsey caused a discharge of carbines to be made over the heads of those on the bridge, hoping to intimidate them. This was done, but produced no other result than derisive laughter, and a fresh shower of stones, one of which hit the captain himself on the face.
While the soldiers were charging their carbines, a tall man, in a serjeant's uniform, accompanied by a stout coachman, in the royal livery, forced their way up to Horsey.
“ Beg pardon, captain,” said the serjeant, “but your object is to capture those ringleaders, not to kill 'em, aint it?"
Certainly, Serjeant Scales, certainly,” replied Horsey. “ Then, with your permission, I'll undertake the job,” returned Scales. « Come along, Proddy.”
And drawing his sword, he plunged into the flames, and was followed by his companion.
Horsey looked on in curiosity to see what would be the result of this daring act, and was surprised to see both men get through the fire without material injury, though the coachman paused to pluck off his wig, which was considerably singed.
“ Hal you are the scoundrel who thrust me from the Duchess of Marlborough’s carriage this morning,” cried Purchase, glancing menacingly at Scales. "I am glad we have met again.'
“We have met not to part till I have secured you, villain,” replied the serjeant. “Yield !”
“Not without a blow or two,” rejoined Purchase, with a roar of derision. “You have not got a host of troopers at your back now.”