Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


attached to it. But, the gaol was a vile place, in which most kinds of
debauchery and villainy were practised, and where dire diseases
were bred, that came into court with the prisoners, and sometimes
rushed straight from the dock at my Lord Chief Justice himself,
and pulled him off the bench. It had more than once happened,
that the Judge in the black cap pronounced his own doom as
certainly as the prisoner’s, and even died before him. For the rest,
the Old Bailey was famous as a kind of deadly inn-yard, from
which pale travellers set out continually, in carts and coaches, on a
violent passage into the other world: traversing some two miles
and a half of public street and road, and shaming few good
citizens, if any. So powerful is use, and so desirable to be good use
in the beginning. It was famous, too, for the pillory, a wise old
institution, that inflicted a punishment of which no one could
foresee the extent; also, for the whipping-post, another dear old
institution, very humanising and softening to behold in action;
also, for extensive transactions in bloodmoney, another fragment of
ancestral wisdom, systematically leading to the most frightful
mercenary crimes that could be committed under Heaven.
Altogether, the Old Bailey, at that date, was a choice illustration of
the precept, that “Whatever is is right;” an aphorism that would be
as final as it is lazy, did it not include the troublesome
consequence, that nothing that ever was, was wrong.

Making his way through the tainted crowd, dispersed up and
down this hideous scene of action, with the skill of a man
accustomed to make his way quietly, the messenger found out the
door he sought, and handed in his letter through a trap in it. For,
people then paid to see the play at the Old Bailey, just as they paid
to see the play in Bedlam-only the former entertainment was much
the dearer.

Therefore, all the Old Bailey doors were well guarded-except,
indeed, the social doors by which the criminals got there, and those
were always left wide open.

After some delay and demur, the door grudgingly turned on its
hinges a very little way, and allowed Mr. Jerry Cruncher to
squeeze himself into court.

“What’s on?” he asked, in a whisper, of the man he found himself
next to.

“Nothing yet.” “What’s coming on?” “The Treason case.” “The
quartering one, eh?”

“Ah!” returned the man, with a relish; “he’ll be drawn on a hurdle
to be half hanged, and then he’ll be taken down and sliced before
his own face, and then his inside will be taken out and burnt while
he looks on, and then his head will be chopped off, and he’ll be cut
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with