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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 355 undertaker, very rich, and who usually promenaded in the Park, rather foppishly dressed, with a gold repeater, set with diamonds, ostentatiously displayed. Aware that he regularly entered by Spring-Garden gate about four o’clock, BilI Drake and Mackcoull took care to arrive before him; and as the Old Raven (as they called him) approached, the one passed on in front, and, wheeling round, was ready to clutch the watch, just as the other, coming up behind, struck his hat down over his eyes. This adventurous affair, committed in broad day, was accomplished with such celerity, that the young rogues escaped without pursuit j but the circumstance creating considerable excitement, Mackcoull became apprehensive of detection. Having consulted with his father, whose house he had previously abandoned, and expressed regret for his past conduct, he obtained the old man’s concurrence to assist him in going to sea. He was accordingly put on board the Apollo, where he served as an officer’s servant for two years. In the same capacity he remained for several years in the Centurim, and conducted himself with so much propriety, that, on being drafted on board another ship, on the North American station, he was appointed purser’s steward, on the recommendation of his former captain. After having been nine years at sea, he returned to London about 1785, with a considerable sua in wages, prize-money, and presents. His former propensities revived almost as soon as he revisited the place of his birth; and he gave way to every species of debauchery, attending the cock-pit, the ring, and the gaming-table, at which he acquired much expertness. His funds speedily vanishing, he now became a gentleman pick-pocket; and as such attained a degree of eminence surpassed by few. Greatly improved by his foreign travels, his appearance was genteel, his address good, and he could tell an excellent story. He generally represented himself as the Captain of a West Indiaman, whose last trip had been unfortunate; and he seldom failed, by the relation of his adventures, to involve his audience in a game at cards, or a debauch, when he was sure either to clear the board, or drink his friends under the table, leaving them minus their money and watches. It is asserted that the modern system of “hocussing,” used rather extensively at Bristol not long since, was familiar to him, and that he found it very advantageous. One instance may be given peculiarly illustrative of his talents, and worthy the honorary title of the Heathen Philosqiber, conferred on him by the fraterhity with which he associated The circumstance occurred at Brentford, during an election, where he and two friends proposed to do business. At the hustings they found nothing could be accomplished. They retired to the principal inn, where they dined ; and having ingratiated themselves with a party of merry-making electors, Mackcoull’s associates commenced operations in a small way. The Philosopher, intent on higher game, observed a baker with a well-lined pocket-book ; but the “master of rolls ” being a sort of leading man, was for some time constantly surrounded by groups of electors. Ascertaining, in the course of his inquiries, - To enumerate a tithe of his exploits would fill volumes.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. that the baker affected to be learned in astronomy, the Philosopher, taking advantage of the first opportunity, walked up to him, and with his best bow inquired if he had seen the strange alternating star outside. The baker expressed his surprise at the question, but by the application of a well-timed compliment, was induced to follow his interrogator. Mackcoull led him to the end of a house, where, by looking upwards in a line with the gable, he professed to have seen the phenomenon, which only appeared at intervals. Before the baker was placed in a proper position, our hero eased him of his pocket-book ; and while the astronomer, whoseaenthusiasm had been fairly kindled, went home to fetch his glass, in order to examine this erratic wonder more thoroughly, Mackcoull embraced the opportunity of a retnrn chaise; and, urging on the driver by a liberal reward, was speedily at his old haunt in Drury Lane. Here he found his associates, whom he treated, and boasted that he had given the baker a lesson in astronomy which he would not speedily forget. After experiencing all the varieties of fortune to which the life of a gambler is subject, Mackcoull, at the age of twenty-eight, married a female with whom he had been long intimate, and who kept a swell lodging-house. Previous to this, he had become so notorious that the police had their eye on him in all directions, and he now deemed it prudent to act with circumspection. He avoided his old haunts ; and being amply supplied with pocket-money by his wife, he amused himself as an amateur pugilist, attended the houses of the fancy, and occasionally the theatre, taking advantage of any inviting opportunity that might occur. Although he deemed it prudent to give over general practice with his own hand, Mackcoull entered with great spirit into the ‘‘ receiving department.” For some time he made the house of his mother and sister the depdt of the stolen goods ; but this resort becoming insecure, he converted a portion of his own house, much against his wife’s wishes, into a receptacle for articles of value. The recess chosen for this purpose, from its having formerly been a window, he called “Pitt’s Picture,’’ in allusion to the w-indow taxes. This impolitic step, as he afterwards admitted, was unworthy of an adept. “ Pitt’s Picture ” was discovered, and a warrant issued to apprehend Mackcoull. All attempts at negotiation were found unavailing j and he was under the necessity of proceeding on his travels. In the spring of 1802 he went to Hamburg, where he assumed the name of Moffat. Here he took out a burgess ticket-rented the ground flat of a counting-house, and professed to be a merchant collecting goods for the interior of Germany. As soon as he acquired a sufficient smattering of the German language, he frequented gaming-houses of the higher order, where, as Captain Moffat from Scotland, he is said to have played frequently at billiards with the then Duke of Mecklenburg Schwerin, and lightened his highness of his superfluous cash. While residing at Hamburg, he occasionally passed into the interior of Germany, and visited the fair of Leipsic. Having been at length compelled to seek safety in flight, he removed to Rotterdam ; but here he was particu
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