Outlaws and Highwaymen

Passage from Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer
Edward Bulwer Lytton (Lord Lytton), Paul Clifford, (London, George Routledge, 1848), p. 147


As the trees rapidly disappeared behind them, the riders entered, at a hand gallop, on a broad tract of waste land interspersed with dykes and occasionally fences of hurdles, over which their horses bounded like quadrupeds well accustomed to such exploits.

Certainly at that moment, what with the fresh air, the fitful moonlight now breaking broadly out, now lost in a rolling cloud, the exciting exercise, and that racy and dancing stir of the blood, which all action, whether evil or noble in its nature, raises in our veins; what with all this, we cannot but allow the fascination of that lawless life;–a fascination so great, that one of the most noted gentlemen highwaymen of the day, one too who had received an excellent education, and mixed in no inferior society, is reported to have said, when the rope was about his neck, and the good Ordinary was exhorting him to repent of his ill-spent life, “Ill-spent, you dog!–’Gad! (smacking his lips) it was delicious!1

“Fie! fie! Mr.—, raise your thoughts to Heaven!”

“But a canter across the common–oh!” muttered the criminal; and his soul cantered off to eternity.

So briskly leaped the heart of the leader of the three, that as they now came in view of the main road, and the distant wheel of a carriage whirred on the ear, he threw up his right hand with a joyous gesture, and burst into a boyish exclamation of hilarity and delight.

Edward Bulwer (later Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton)


Notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 20 September 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

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