Barnaby Rudge HTML version

Chapter 15
At noon next day, John Willet's guest sat lingering over his breakfast in his own home,
surrounded by a variety of comforts, which left the Maypole's highest flight and utmost
stretch of accommodation at an infinite distance behind, and suggested comparisons
very much to the disadvantage and disfavour of that venerable tavern.
In the broad old-fashioned window-seat--as capacious as many modern sofas, and
cushioned to serve the purpose of a luxurious settee--in the broad old-fashioned
window-seat of a roomy chamber, Mr Chester lounged, very much at his ease, over a
well-furnished breakfast- table. He had exchanged his riding-coat for a handsome
morning- gown, his boots for slippers; had been at great pains to atone for the having
been obliged to make his toilet when he rose without the aid of dressing-case and tiring
equipage; and, having gradually forgotten through these means the discomforts of an
indifferent night and an early ride, was in a state of perfect complacency, indolence, and
The situation in which he found himself, indeed, was particularly favourable to the
growth of these feelings; for, not to mention the lazy influence of a late and lonely
breakfast, with the additional sedative of a newspaper, there was an air of repose about
his place of residence peculiar to itself, and which hangs about it, even in these times,
when it is more bustling and busy than it was in days of yore.
There are, still, worse places than the Temple, on a sultry day, for basking in the sun, or
resting idly in the shade. There is yet a drowsiness in its courts, and a dreamy dulness
in its trees and gardens; those who pace its lanes and squares may yet hear the echoes
of their footsteps on the sounding stones, and read upon its gates, in passing from the
tumult of the Strand or Fleet Street, 'Who enters here leaves noise behind.' There is still
the plash of falling water in fair Fountain Court, and there are yet nooks and corners
where dun-haunted students may look down from their dusty garrets, on a vagrant ray
of sunlight patching the shade of the tall houses, and seldom troubled to reflect a
passing stranger's form. There is yet, in the Temple, something of a clerkly monkish
atmosphere, which public offices of law have not disturbed, and even legal firms have
failed to scare away. In summer time, its pumps suggest to thirsty idlers, springs cooler,
and more sparkling, and deeper than other wells; and as they trace the spillings of full
pitchers on the heated ground, they snuff the freshness, and, sighing, cast sad looks
towards the Thames, and think of baths and boats, and saunter on, despondent.
It was in a room in Paper Buildings--a row of goodly tenements, shaded in front by
ancient trees, and looking, at the back, upon the Temple Gardens--that this, our idler,
lounged; now taking up again the paper he had laid down a hundred times; now trifling
with the fragments of his meal; now pulling forth his golden toothpick, and glancing
leisurely about the room, or out at window into the trim garden walks, where a few early
loiterers were already pacing to and fro. Here a pair of lovers met to quarrel and make