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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 484
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 365 Mackcoull appeared dreadfully agitated when unexpectedly interrogated as to the fact of his residence in New Street, Canongate, in November 1806. He stared wildly, and throwing himself back in his bed, as if in a convulsion-fit, it was some time ere he had self-possession enough to answer that he was then in the West Indies! The inaccuracy of this statement he admitted on being reminded of his visit to Dublin ; but losing all temper, he proceeded incoherently in his remarks, and his visitor withdrew. Although Mackcoull had not been living, or even on good terms with his wife for several years prior to his condemnation, she came forward voluntarily, supplied him liberally with everything he could wish, and visited him in jail previous to her leaving Edinburgh for London, where she intended doing all she could to procure a reprieve, which was actually accomplished.’ On the 14th July, he was respited for a month; and in three weeks after, during his Majesty’s pleasure. Towards the end of August he fell into a decline, which affected his faculties so much that he became silly and childish ; and he is said to have been so disturbed in his sleep by terrific dreams, and his cries and imprecations were so horrific as greatly to annoy the inmates of the adjoining cells. He became extremely emaciated ; his hair rapidly changed from black to grey, and he appeared so much altered that few would have known him.’, He died in the county jail of Edinburgh on the 22d of December 1820, and was decently interred, at the expense of his wife, in the Calton burying ground. [A “ hIemoir of the Life and Trial of James hlackcoull or Moffat ” w8s published, containing a full account of his trial before the Jury Court and High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, and “printed for John Anderson juu., 55 North Bridgo Street, Edinburgh, 1822.” The memoir cont a k a portrait of the criminal.] No. CCXCI. BE ET T Y D I C K, TOWN-CRIER OF DALKEITH. FROMtim e immemorial it was customary in the cities and towns of Scotland to have an official ycleped “ the Town-Crier ;I’ and, although greatly modified, the That one who had been such a pest to society should have experienced the Royal clemency is matter of astonishment. In explanation, it is affirmed that Mackcoull had at one time communicated some important information to one of the Secretaries of State, for which he refused any reward, saying, that if ever he should require any favour he would let the Secretary know. Doubtless he had in view the probability that some time or other he might require the extension of the Royal mercy in his favour. It is not unlikely that the interest he had thus acquired in a high quarter, contributed to inspire him with that reckless confidence he manifested throughout his trial. Mackcoull’s most remarkable feature was his eye, which was full, clear, and piercing-so much so that a single glance was exceedingly disagreeable. When intensely ked, there was a malignancy in his gaze that made one’s blood run cold. It was the “evil eye” with a vengeance, and had he lived where that superstition prevails, hw approach would have been the signal for flight.
Volume 9 Page 485
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