Background.

Barnaby Rudge
  • The man glanced at the parish-clerk, whose air of consciousness and importance plainly betokened him to be the person referred to” is a quotation from Barnaby Rudge (Chapter 1).

Context.

Description of Solomon Daisy, the parish clerk in Chigwell, Essex. In Chapter 1 of Barnaby Rudge Daisy is at the Maypole public house, recounting a story to fellow drinkers from 24-years earlier, to the very night, of the murder of Reuben Haredale, owner of The Warren, the local manor house.

The Rioters at Work.
Illustration by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz) entitled The Rioters at Work, produced for a 1849 one-volume edition of the novel Barnaby Rudge.

Source.

‘That,’ returned the landlord, a little brought down from his dignity by the stranger’s surliness, ‘is a Maypole story, and has been any time these four-and-twenty years. That story is Solomon Daisy’s story. It belongs to the house; and nobody but Solomon Daisy has ever told it under this roof, or ever shall—that’s more.’

The man glanced at the parish-clerk, whose air of consciousness and importance plainly betokened him to be the person referred to, and, observing that he had taken his pipe from his lips, after a very long whiff to keep it alight, and was evidently about to tell his story without further solicitation, gathered his large coat about him, and shrinking further back was almost lost in the gloom of the spacious chimney-corner, except when the flame, struggling from under a great faggot, whose weight almost crushed it for the time, shot upward with a strong and sudden glare, and illumining his figure for a moment, seemed afterwards to cast it into deeper obscurity than before.

By this flickering light, which made the old room, with its heavy timbers and panelled walls, look as if it were built of polished ebony—the wind roaring and howling without, now rattling the latch and creaking the hinges of the stout oaken door, and now driving at the casement as though it would beat it in—by this light, and under circumstances so auspicious, Solomon Daisy began his tale:

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The man glanced at the parish-clerk, whose air of consciousness and importance plainly betokened him to be the person referred to.
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