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the extraordinary equestrian feat, attributed to him, by oral tradition, and detailed in this work, was ever actually accomplished. History is silent on this head. The authentic annals of the redoubted robber, so far from dilating upon this, the most important feature, one would think, of his career, do not even avouch that he was a good horseman; neither is it mentioned, that he had any such matchless mare as his bonny Black Bess. Turpin, however, I take it, has met with imperfect justice at the hands of his Ordinary biographers. He was a more important personage than they would have us believe. The reward offered for his apprehension, the terror inspired by his name throughout the kingdom, (attested by the articles, which I have elsewhere quoted from the Gentleman's Magazine, in which he is compared to Sir Robert Walpole,) and, above all, the traditional achievements connected with his memory, prove, if any proof were necessary, that he played no immomentous part, upon the stage of life, in his generation. The description of his person, as it appears in the Royal Proclamation, is introduced in the course of this tale; but, as it is interrupted by remarks, and applied to the purposes of the story, I shall place it here, in an unbroken form, before the reader.
It having been represented to the King, that Richard Turpin did, on Wednesday, the 4th of May last, barbarously murder Thomas Morris, servant to Henry Tomson, one of the keepers of Epping Forest, and commit other notorious felonies and robberies near London, his Majesty is pleased to promise his most gracious pardon to any of his accomplices, and a reward of 200l. to any person, or persons, that shall discover him,so as he may be apprehended and convicted. Turpin was born at Thackstead, in Essex, is about thirty, by trade a butcher, about five feet nine inches high, brown complexion, very much marked with the small-pox, his cheek-bones broad, his face thinner towards the bottom, his visage short, pretty upright, and broad about the shoulders.-London Gazette, June 25th, 1737.
Appearances, I own, are here rather against him. He has, as Sir Sampson Legend observes, of his son, "a cursed Tyburn face, without benefit o' th' clergy." But what of that? Du-Val passed for the handsomest man of his time; and if Dick really rode to York, in the short space of time he is represented to have done, he may claim our admiration on better grounds than his good looks. That he could not have been the insignificant rascal his biographers affirm, I have the further testimony of a contemporary country newspaper- the Kendal Weekly Courant. The following paragraph, extracted from that journal, which appeared in the Times a few weeks back, shows with what anxiety his movements were watched::- Sept. 15. 1736. Turpin the Highwayman! We hear that Turpin has been in Holland, from whence he returned about six weeks ago in the Ostend packet-boat. It is said, that Dan Malden knew him there, and that Turpin endeavoured to prevail on him to go into foreign service, and see England no more." Who the Dan Malden may be, in whom our highwayman took so lively an interest, it would now be in vain to inquire.* Whether he returned
*This was written in the spring of last year. A solution of the inquiry has since been afforded me by Mr. James Maidment, whose politeness I have, already, acknowledged. DAN MALDEN was, it appears, a sort of Jack Sheppard in his way, and obtained as much notoriety in his own time, as the convict Williams recently acquired by a hair-breadth escape from Newgate. A spirited portrait of Malden will be found in Caulfield's Remarkable Characters, where he is represented in the condemned cell, with fetters on his wrists, a jockey-cap on his head, a great-cuffed, flat-collared coat, of the period of George the Second, on his back, and the kind of look about the eyes that indicates a proneness to make free with "unconsidered trifles." The following particulars were furnished by Mr. Maidment: "Daniel Malden was sentenced to be hanged, for housebreaking, at the Old Bailey sessions, in May, 1736, but he escaped from Newgate. The
to England is doubtful; but, we may be sure he never rode to York. It is equally certain, also, that Turpin's authenticated exploits bear no proportion to the reputation, he enjoyed, in his own time, for unparalleled audacity — a reputation, which the lapse of a century has not obliterated.
Ne quid nimis. I will now dismiss the subject with a few remarks (which I shall repeat from the preface to the Second Edition of this work), upon the motives, that influenced me in the choice of such a character. "Turpin was the hero of my boyhood. I had always a strange passion for highwaymen, and have listened by the hour to their exploits, as narrated to me by my father, and es
On June 24.: We common sewer till when he got out he legs to prevent his
Caledonian Mercury, June 21. 1736, states that Daniel Malden, who was to have been hanged last execution day, but escaped twice out of Newgate, was seen by two men yesterday morning, creeping out of a common sewer, laden with near a hundred weight of iron, which, 't is thought, will be the means of retaking him.' hear that D. Malden concealed himself in the Monday night, after all the search made for him; tore his waiscoat in pieces and tied it about his irons being heard, which weighed a hundred weight. He walked thus till he got a coach, which carried him to an alehouse in Rosemary Lane, where a smith cut off his irons.' He was not retaken for some months; but in October he fell again into the hands of justice, and on the 2d of November was executed at Tyburn. 'He behaved very prudently, and wept,' says a contemporary journal. Daniel Malden, it seems, after his second escape, followed at Canterbury the profession of a horse courser (this explains the jockey-cap in the portrait), to which he was originally bred; and his being retaken was not owing to the perfidiousness of a woman, as has been reported, but to the malice of a brother jockey, who was unhorsed and distanced by him at some former race. He met at last with his deserved fate, which he took so much pains to avoid.'-Wye's Letter, London, Nov. 4. 1736. Cal. Merc."
pecially to those of " dauntless Dick," that "chief minion of the moon." One of his adventures in particular, the ride to Hough-Green, which took deep hold of my fancy, I have recorded in song.* When a boy, I have often lingered by the side of the deep old road, where this robbery was committed, to cast wistful glances into its mysterious windings; and when night deepened the shadows of the trees, have urged my horse on his journey, from a vague apprehension of a visit from the ghostly highwayman. And then there was the Bollin, with its shelvy banks, which Turpin cleared at a bound; the broad meadows, over which he winged his flight; the pleasant bowling green of the pleasant old inn at Hough, where he produced his watch to the Cheshire squires, with whom he was upon terms of intimacy; all brought something of the gallant robber to mind. No wonder, in after years, in selecting a highwayman for a hero, I should choose my old favourite, Dick Turpin !"
I should feel indebted to any of my readers, who could help me to some further particulars of Turpin's residence in Cheshire, or even to the exact date of his appearance in that county.
If the design of Romance be, what it has been held, the exposition of an useful truth, by means of an interesting story, I fear I have but imperfectly fulfilled the office I have imposed upon myself; having, as I will freely confess, had, throughout, an eye, rather to the reader's amusement, than his edification. One wholesome moral, however, may, I trust, be gathered from its perusal; namely, that, without due governance of the passions, high aspirations and generous emotions will little avail their possessor. The impersonations of the Tempter, the Tempted, and
Black Bess, page 307.
the Better Influence, may be respectively discovered, by those who care to cull the honey from the flower, in Alan Rookwood, in Luke, and in Sybil.
The chief object I had in view, in making the present essay, was to see how far the infusion of a warmer, and more genial current into the veins of Old Romance, would succeed in reviving her fluttering and feeble pulses. The attempt has succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectation. The ancient lady has arisen from her couch, taken the air, and succeeded in attracting a crowd of youthful admirers. Let me hope that, in more able hands, her restoration will be complete.
Romance, if I am not mistaken, is destined shortly to undergo an important change. Modified by the German and French writers, by Hoffman, Tieck, Hugo, Dumas, Balzac, and Paul Lacroix (le Bibliophile Jacob)—the structure, commenced in our own land by Horace Walpole, Monk Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and Maturin, but left imperfect and inharmonious, requires, now that the rubbish, which choked up its approach, is removed, only the hand of the skilful architect to its entire renovation and perfection. I have not included the great name of WalTER SCOTT in this list, because, in the sense to which I would confine the term, he is not a Romancer. But I cannot help echoing the wish of the French aspirant*, that we may yet see the only romance, which could surpass the creations of our, as yet, unrivalled novelist; —"le Roman, à la fois, drame et épopée ; pittoresque, mais poétique; réel, mais idéal; vrai, mais grand; qui enchâssera Walter Scott dans Homère !"
And now, having said my say, I must bid you, worthy reader, a temporary farewell; hoping shortly to encounter
Victor Hugo.- Litterature et Philosophie Mélées.