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and fastened upon lord Mansfield's house, which they pulled down; and as for his goods, they totally burnt them. They have since gone to Caen-wood, but a guard was there before them. They plundered some papists, I think, and burnt a mass-house in Moorfields the same night.”
« On Wednesday I walked with Dr. Scott to look at Newgate, and found it in ruins, with the fire yet glowing. As I went by, the protestants were plundering the sessionshouse at the Old Bailey. There were not, I believe, a hundred; but they did their work at leisure, in full security, without sentinels, without trepidation, as men lawfully employed, in full day. Such is the cowardice of a commercial place. On Wednesday they broke open the Fleet, and the King's Bench, and the Marshalsea, and Woodstreet Compter, and Clerkenwell Bridewell, and released all the prisoners.”
“ At night they set fire to the Fleet, and to the King's Bench, and I know not how many other places; and one might see the glare of conflagration fill the sky from many parts. The sight was dreadful. Some people were threatened : Mr. Strahan advised me to take care of myself. Such a time of terrour you have been happy in not seeing.”
“ The king said in council,that the magistrates had not done their duty, but that he would do his own;' and a proclamation was published, directing us to keep our servants within doors, as the peace was now to be preserved by force. The soldiers were sent out to different parts, and the towu is now (June 9) at quiet.”
“The soldiers are stationed so as to be everywhere within call: there is no longer any body of rioters, and the individuals are hunted to their holes, and led to prison ; lord George was last night sent to the Tower. Mr. John Wilkes was this day in my neighbourhood, to seize the publisher of a seditious paper.
“ Several chapels have been destroyed, and several inoffensive papists have been plundered ; but the high sport was to burn the gaols. This was a good rabble trick. The debtors and the criminals were all set at liberty; but of
the criminals, as has always happened, many "are already retaken; and two pirates have surrendered themselves, and it is expected that they will be pardoned.”
“ Government now acts again with its proper force ; and we are all under the protection of the king and the law. I thought that it would be agreeable to you and my master to have my testimony to the publick security; and that you would sleep more quietly when I told you that
you are safe.”
“ There has, indeed, been an universal panick, from which the king was the first that recovered. Without the concurrence of his ministers, or the assistance of the civil magistrates, he put the soldiers in motion, and saved the town from calamities, such as a rabble's government must naturally produce."
“ The publick has escaped a very heavy calamity. The rioters attempted the bank on Wednesday night, but in no great number; and, like other thieves, with no great resolution. Jack Wilkes headed the party that drove them away. It is agreed, that if they had seized the bank on Tuesday, at the height of the panick, when no resistance had been prepared, they might have carried irrecoverably away whatever they had found. Jack, who was always zealous for order and decency, declares, that if he be trusted with power, he will not leave a rioter alive. There is, however, now no longer any need of heroism or bloodshed; no blue ribband* is any longer worn.”
Such was the end of this miserable sedition, from which London was delivered by the magnanimity of the sovereign himself. Whatever some may maintain, I am satisfied that there was no combination or plan, either domestick or foreign; but that the mischief spread by a gradual contagion of frenzy, augmented by the quantities of sermented liquors, of which the deluded populace possessed themselves in the course of their depredations.
I should think myself very much to blame, did I here * Lord George Gordon and his followers, during these outrages, wore blue ribbands in'their hats.-MALONE.
neglect to do justice to my esteemed friend Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, who has long discharged a very important trust with an uniform intrepid firmness, and at the same time a tenderness and a liberal charity, which entitle him to be recorded with distinguished honour,
Upon this occasion, from the timidity and negligence of the magistracy on the one hand, and the almost incredible exertions of the mob on the other, the first prison of this great country was laid open, and the prisoners set free; but that Mr. Akerman, whose house was burnt, would have prevented all this, had proper aid been sent him in due time, there can be no doubt.
Many years ago a fire broke out in the brick part which was built as an addition to the old gaol of Newgate. The prisoners were in consternation and tumult, calling out, « We shall be burnt-we shall be burnt! Down with the gate-down with the gate!" Mr. Akerman hastened to them, showed himself at the gate, and having, after some confused vociferation of “ Hear him-hear him!” obtained a silent attention, he then calmly told them, that the gate must not go down; that they were under his care, and that they should not be permitted to escape: but that he could assure them, they need not be afraid of being burnt, for that the fire was not in the prison, properly so called, which was strongly built with stone; and that if they would engage to be quiet, he himself would come in to them, and conduct them to the farther end of the building, and would not go out till they gave him leave. To this proposal they agreed; upon which Mr. Akerman, having first made them fall back from the gate, went in, and with a determined resolation ordered the outer turnkey upon no account to open the gate, even though the prisoners (though he trusted they would not) should break their word, and by force bring himself to order it. “ Never mind me," said he, “ should that happen." The prisoners peaceably followed him, while he conducted them through passages, of which he had the keys, to the extremity of the goal which was most distant from the fire. Having by this very judicious
conduct fully satisfied them that there was no immediate risk, if any at all, he then addressed them thus: “Gentlemen, you are now convinced that I told you true. I have no doubt that the engines will soon extinguish this fire: if they should not, a sufficient guard will come, and you shall be all taken out and lodged in the compters. I assure you, upon my word and honour, that I have not a farthing insured. I have left my house that I might take care of you. I will keep my promise, and stay with you if you insist upon it; but if you will allow me to go out and look after my family and property, I shall be obliged to you.” Struck with his behaviour, they called out, “Master Akerman, you have done bravely; it was very kind in you: by all means go and take care of your own concerns. He did so accordingly, while they remained, and were all preserved.
Jobnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend, speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this eulogy upon his character:-“ He who has long had constantly in his view the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his disposition, must have had it originally in a great degree, and continued to cultivate it very carefully."
In the course of this month my brother David waited upon Dr. Johnson, with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should be lying ready on his arrival in London.
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
• Edinburgh, April 29, 1780. “MY DEAR SIR,—This will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to stand by the old castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword ;' that romantick family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with complacency upon the spot. I trust that
twelve years of absence have not lessened his feudal attachment; and that you will find him worthy of being introduced to your acquaintance.
I have the honour to be,
“My dear sir,
“ James Boswell."
Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a letter to Mrs. Thraley: “I have had with me a brother of Boswell's, a Spanish merchant?, whom the war has driven from his residence at Valencia : he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch."
TO DR. BEATTIE, AT ABERDEEN.
“SIR,—More years a than I have any delight to reckon, have past since you and I saw one another: of this, however, there is no reason for making any reprehensory complaint-Sic fata ferunt.' But methinks there might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say that I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees southwards; a softer climate may do you both good: winter is coming on; and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of amusement, than Aberdeen.
• My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is, I doubt, now but weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much better,
y Vol. ii. p. 163. Mrs. Piozzi has omitted the name ; she best knows why. z Now settled in London. 1 I had been five years absent from London.-BEATTIE.