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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 257 this degrading vice to account as a source of revenue ; and it appears, from an action raised against him by one Hamilton, a chimney-sweeper, that he did not scruple to have recourse to the usual tricks resorted to by professed gamblers.1 In the gratification of this ruling passion, he was in the habit of meeting, almost nightly, a club of gamblers at a house of a most disreputable description, kept by a person of the name of Clark, in the Fleshmarket Close. Xotwithstanding his profligate habits, Brodie had the address to prevent them from becoming public ; and he contrived to maintain a fair character among his fellow-citizens. So successful was he in blihding the world, that he continued a member of the Council until within a short period of the time he committed the crime for which he afterwards suffered ; and it is a singular fact that, little more than a month previously, he sat as a juryman in a criminal cause, in that very court where he himself soon afterwards received sentence of death ! Although Brodie had for many years been licentious and dissipated, it is believed that it was not until 1786 that he commenced that career of crime which he ultimately expiated on the scaffold. About that time he became acquainted with his fellow-culprit, George Smith ; and shortly afterwards, at the gambling haunt, with Ainslie and Brown-men of the lowest grade and most abandoned principles. The motives that induced Brodie to league himself with these desperate men are not very obvious. In comfortable circumstances, and holding situations of trust among his fellow-citizens, it is not easy to guess what could impel him to a line of conduct so very unaccountable. Let his motives have been what they might, however, Erodie, from his professional knowledge and his station in society, had great facilities for furthering his contemplated depredations, and he became the leader of these miscreants, who acted by his orders, and were guided by his information. About the latter end of 1787 a series of robberies were committed in and around Edinburgh, and no clue could be had of the perpetrators. Shops were opened, and goods disappeared, as if by magic.' The whole city at last became alarmed. In the most of these Brodie was either actively or passively concerned ; but it was not until the last " fatal affair "-the robbery of the Excise 05cethat he was discovered, and the whole machinery laid open. This undertaking, it appears, was wholly suggested and planned by Brodie. In this action he is accused of having used loaded or false dice, by which Hamilton lost upwards of six guineas. ' An old lady mentions that a female friend of hers, who, from indisposition, was unable to go one Sunday to church, was, during divine worship, and in the absence of her servant, surprised by the entrance of a man, with a crape over his face, into the room where she was sitting. He very coolly took up the keys which were lying on the table before her, opened her bureau, and took out II considerable sum of money that had been placed there. He meddled with nothing else, but immediately re-locked the bureau, replaced the keys on the table, and, making a low bow, retired. The lady was panic-struck the whole time. Upon the exit of her mysterious visitor, she exclaimed, "Surely that was Deacon Brodie ! " But the improbability of a person of his opulence turning a housebreaker, induced her tu preserve silence at the time. Subsequent events, however, soon proved the truth of her aunnisea. 2 L
Volume 8 Page 361
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