The Rioters at Work from instalment 34 (2 October 1841) in Master Humphrey's Clock (Part 77), and published by Bradbury and Evans in volume form in 1849. 3 ¾ x 4 ⅛ inches (10.6 cm high by 11.5 cm wide), vignetted; composite woodblock engraving dropped into text: sixty-second illustration in the series for Dickens's Barnaby Rudge, tailpiece for Chapter the Sixty-sixth, 324. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Context of the Illustration: Actions of the Rioters after Newgate's Destruction

Left: Harry Furniss's parallel scene which depicts the operations of the rioters without including the principal characters: The Last Night of the Great Riots (1910).

There being now a great many parties in the streets, each went to work according to its humour, and a dozen houses were quickly blazing, including those of Sir John Fielding and two other justices, and four in Holborn—one of the greatest thoroughfares in London — which were all burning at the same time, and burned until they went out of themselves, for the people cut the engine hose, and would not suffer the firemen to play upon the flames. At one house near Moorfields, they found in one of the rooms some canary birds in ages, and these they cast into the fire alive. The poor little creatures screamed, it was said, like infants, when they were flung upon the blaze; and one man was so touched that he tried in vain to save them, which roused the indignation of the crowd, and nearly cost him his life.

At this same house, one of the fellows who went through the rooms,  breaking the furniture and helping to destroy the building, found a child’s doll — a poor  toy — which he exhibited at the window to the mob below, as the image of some unholy  saint which the late occupants had worshipped. While he was doing this, another man with an equally tender conscience (they had both been foremost in throwing down the canary birds for roasting alive), took his seat on the parapet of the house, and harangued the crowd from a pamphlet circulated by the Association, relative to the true principles of  Christianity! Meanwhile the Lord Mayor, with his hands in his pockets, looked on as an idle man might look at any other show, and seemed mightily satisfied to have got a good  place.

Such were the accounts brought to the old vintner by his servants as he sat at the side of Mr. Haredale’s bed, having been unable even to doze, after the first part of the night; too much disturbed by his own fears; by the cries of the mob, the light of the fires, and the firing of the soldiers. Such, with the addition of the release of all the prisoners in the New Jail at Clerkenwell, and as many robberies of passengers in the streets, as the crowd had leisure to indulge in, were the scenes of which Mr. Haredale was happily unconscious, and which were all enacted before midnight. [Chapter the Sixty-sixth, 324]


The illustration gives readers some sense of what is transpiring outside the vintner's house on Holborn. But it does not bear much resemblance to the adjacent text in terms of specific content. And the illustrator depicts none of the characters with whom we are familiar: Hugh, Sim, Dennis, Barnaby or his father. Rather, it establishes a dominant tone as the sixty-sixth chapter closes, reflecting the randomness of the mob's violence, and the looting and burning of furniture in the streets. It therefore contributes somewhat to the reader's apprehension for the fate of Geoffrey Haredale, recovering in the Holborn house from his extertions that day. But as yet it conveys no inkling as to where Emma and Dolly may have taken refuge, and no notion whatsoever of Hugh's holding them prisoner. Dickens's historical scene-painting accompanied by the vigorous mob scene distracts the reader from these plot-lines only momentarily as he or she notes the rioter in the upper window holding out the "papist" doll.

Related Material including Other Illustrated Editions of Barnaby Rudge

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz') and George Cattermole. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury & Evans, 1849.

_______. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Ed. J. A. Hammerton. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. VI.

Hammerton, J. A. "Ch. XIV. Barnaby Rudge." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition, illustrated by Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. 213-55.

Steig, Michael. Chapter 3. "From Caricature to Progress: Master Humphrey's Clock to Martin Chuzzlewit." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U. P., 1978. 53-85.

Vann, J. Don. "The Old Curiosity Shop in Master Humphrey's Clock, 25 April 1840-6 February 1841." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. 64-65.

Created 29 March 2020

Last modified 25 December 2020