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ther with four of the turnkeys,-Barnes, Pindar, Everett, and King,—against all of whom the Attorney-General received orders to commence a prosecution. Of the guilt of these inhuman wretches there cannot exist a doubt; and yet, although the death of more than one unfortunate man had been clearly brought home to them, such was the state of the laws that they escaped the punishment which they so richly merited. Twenty years after his acquittal, Bainbridge is said to have cut his
Hogarth has immortalized the cruelties of Bainbridge by his pencil; and they are also alluded to by Thomson in a well-known passage in his "Winter:"
And here can I forget the generous band,
Who, touched with human woe, redressive searched
Unpitied and unheard where misery moans?
Where sickness pines, where thirst and hunger burn,
Whose every street and public meeting glow
At pleasure marked him with inglorious stripes,
With patient care and wisdom-tempered zeal !
Drag forth the legal monsters into light;
In the great Fire of London the Fleet Prison was burned to the ground. Having been rebuilt, it was again destroyed by fire during the Gordon Riots, in 1780; when, having been gained possession of by the infuriated rabble, the prisoners were set at liberty and the building committed to the flames. Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, whom curiosity induced to visit the principal scenes of outrage and devastation, has left us an interesting account of the awful picture presented by this part of London, on the last and most eventful night of the riots. 66 Finding it impracticable," he says, “to force our way down Holborn Hill, and hearing that the Fleet Prison had been set on fire, we penetrated through a number of narrow lanes, behind St. Andrew's Church, and presently found ourselves in the middle of Fleet Market. Here the same destruction raged, but in a different stage of its progress. Mr. Langdale's two houses were already at the height of their demolition. The Fleet Prison, on the contrary, was only beginning to blaze, and the sparks, or flaming particles, that filled the air, fell so thick upon us on every side, as to render unsafe its immediate vicinity. Meanwhile, we began to hear the platoons discharged on the other side of the river, towards St. George's Fields; and were informed that a considerable number of the rioters had
been killed on Blackfriars Bridge, which was occupied by the troops. On approaching it, we beheld the King's Bench Prison completely enveloped in flames. It exhibited a sublime sight, and we might be said there to stand in a central point, from whence London offered on every side, before as well as behind us, the picture of a city sacked and abandoned to a ferocious enemy. The shouts of the populace, the cries of women, the crackling of the fires, the blaze reflected in the stream of the Thames, and the irregular firing which was kept up, both in St. George's Fields as well as towards the quarter of the Mansion House and the Bank,-all these sounds or images combined, left scarcely anything for the imagination to supply; presenting to the view every recollection which the classic descriptions of Troy or of Rome, in the page of Virgil or of Tacitus, have impressed on the mind in youth, but which I so little expected to see exemplified in the capital of Great Britain."
One of the most singular features connected with the old Fleet Prison, was the celebration of the “Fleet marriages," which continued, for many years, to be performed by a set of profligate clergymen, who, being already prisoners for debt, stood little in awe of the fine of £100, which the law inflicted on those who solemnized clandestine marriages. "In walking along the street in my youth," says Pennant, "on the side next to this prison, I have often been tempted by the question, Sir, will you please to
walk in and be married? Along this most lawless space was hung the frequent sign of a male and female hand conjoined, with Marriages performed within written beneath. A dirty fellow invited you in. The parson was seen walking before his shop, a squalid, profligate figure, clad in a tattered plaid night-gown, with a fiery face, and ready to couple you for a dram of gin or roll of tobacco." This account is corroborated by the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1745, where a correspondent laments the number of ruinous marriages which then daily took place in the Fleet, and which he represents as being performed by "a set of drunken, swearing parsons, with their myrmidons, that wear black cloaks, and pretend to be clerks and registers to the Fleet, plying about Ludgate Hill, pulling and forcing people to some peddling alehouse or brandyshop to be married, and, even on Sundays, stopping them as they go to church." Evidence was produced before Parliament, that between the 19th of October 1704, and the 12th of February 1705, no fewer than 2,954 marriages had been solemnized in the Fleet, without either licence or the publications of banns. In many cases, in consideration of the payment of a small sum of money, the entry of the marriage was either altogether omitted in the Fleet registers, or the names were merely denoted by particular marks.
The vast amount of human misery occasioned by these easy and hasty marriages, as well as the number of romantic incidents connected with the
celebration of many of them, may be readily imagined. In Knight's "London"* may be found a full and interesting account of this nefarious traffic, as well as some very curious extracts from the marriage-registers of the Fleet, of which the following are specimens:
"Nov. 21, 1742. Akerman, Richard, turner, of Christ Church, Bat', to Lydia Collet; brought by Mrs. Crooks. N.B. They behaved very vilely, and attempted to run away with Mrs. Crooks' gold ring."
"1744. Aug. 20. John Newsam, labourer, of St. James, West', and Ann Laycock, do. wid' and wid". They ran away with the Scertifycate, and left a pint of wine to pay for: they are a vile sort of people, and I will remember them of their vile usage."
"1st Oct. 1747.-John Ferren, gent. sen., of St. Andrew's, Holborn, b'., and Deborah Nolan, ditto sp. The supposed John Ferren was discovered, after the ceremony was over, to be in person a woman."
"26th June 1744.-Nathaniel Gilbert, gent., of St. Andrew's, Holborn, and Mary Lupton, at Oddy's. N.B. There were five or six in company: one amongst them seemed to me by his dress and behaviour to be an Irishman. He pretended to be some grand officer in the army. He, ye said Irish gent., told me, before I saw the woman that was to be married, yt it was a poor girl going to *Vol. iv. p. 49, &c.