The Newgate Calendar - JAMES MACKCOULL, <i>alias</i> MOFFAT

JAMES MACKCOULL, alias MOFFAT
Convicted Of Robbery after a Long Career as a Thief.

Mackoull Robbing the Minister of his Watch on Quitting the Pulpit.

            The name of this offender is already known to our readers, by his connexion with his no less notorious compeer, Huffey White, whose case is already given.

            Mackcoull, though he had an honest father, was educated a thief, and from infancy was initiated into all the mysteries of picking pockets, shop-lifting, and house-breaking. He was born in the parish of St. Sepulchre, London, in the year 1763. His father, Benjamin Mackcoull, a man of good character, was a pocket-book maker; but, being unfortunate in business, he was appointed a city officer, in which situation he continued until his death. This poor man did all in his power to bring his children up in honesty; but, unfortunately, his praiseworthy exertions proved abortive, in consequence of his wife being a base unprincipled woman, who might be said to have educated her offspring for the gallows; for though they all, except one, singularly escaped such an ignominious death, they are all allowed to have richly merited it.

            James had three sisters and two brothers. The daughters emulated the example of the mother, and were, with her, frequently convicted of petty crimes, being among the most expert and notorious thieves in London. They all lived till within a few years of James's death, notwithstanding their abandoned and vicious lives. The younger brother, Benjamin, was executed in 1786 for street-robbery; but the eldest, John, was always fortunate in eluding justice, though well known as a notorious character. He was frequently tried for various offences, but uniformly escaped conviction.

            James Mackcoull received a very limited education, and could just read and write. At school he was frequently detected purloining the playthings of other boys; and at a very tender age he robbed a poor man who sold cats'-meat through the streets. The young villain saw the vender of offal put his money, as he received it, into a bag which hung on the handle of his barrow, and, watching his opportunity, when the owner's back was turned, he cut the cord, and carried off the booty. Emboldened by success, he ventured again and again, and soon associated himself with gangs who were known to infest the entrances to theatres and places of amusement.

            The father, ignorant of the vicious habits of the son, bound him apprentice to a leather-stainer, in Clerkenwell; but James, encouraged by his mother, adhered to his former comrades, and soon gave occasion to his master to discharge him.

            He now became a notorious thief, and, by shifting his quarters, continued to elude detection; but, having been engaged with another in snatching the seals of a gentleman's watch in St. James's Park, they were pursued. Mackcoull's companion was apprehended; and he only escaped detection by going at night on board the Tender, at Tower Hill, and entering as a volunteer.

            For two years he remained on board the Apollo frigate, in the character of an officer's servant, and afterwards on board the Centurion, in the same capacity. In the absence of temptation even a rogue may be honest; and Mackcoull acquired so good a character in the navy, that he was in a few years appointed purser's steward, and in the course of nine years saved a considerable sum of money. In 1785 he returned to London, where, in a short time, he dissipated all his earnings in the society of the dissolute and abandoned, and to repair his finances had recourse to his former habits of dishonesty. He soon eclipsed all his companions in iniquity, and shone pre-eminent as a pugilist, horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, swindler, and pickpocket. To carry on his depredations with success he assumed various characters, and succeeded in all. Not even the sanctuary of religion was free from his desperate villainy; for he frequently went there to pick pockets, and on one occasion deprived the preacher of his watch, on his way from the pulpit. The knowledge and acuteness he displayed, as well as the successful manner in which he avoided discovery, procured him among his associates the appellation of "The Heathen Philosopher."

            Being at Brentford during an election, Mackcoull saw a self-important baker very busy among the electors, and observed him put a bundle of notes into his side pocket. Desirous of possessing the notes, Mackcoull made various attempts, but failed until the evening, when, learning the baker's extreme passion for the science of astronomy, he went into his shop and invited him out to view a strange alternating star. The baker declared he would not lose the sight for fifty pounds, and accordingly hastened into the street, and, while he was busy with his telescope viewing the starry heavens, Mackcoull contrived to ease him of the notes in his breast pocket, after which he quitted the spot and hastened to London.

            A thief, to use a vulgar adage, throws out with a shovel what he brings in with a spoon; or, in other words, his improvidence is greater than his precarious gains, and, in addition to a thousand other apprehensions, he lives in continual dread of want and poverty. Mackcoull, notwithstanding all his address, was in continual pecuniary embarrassments, and when unsuccessful as a pickpocket at the theatre, or a fair, had to go to bed supperless. His particular misfortunes seem to have consoled, on various occasions, his less notorious brethren, for it has passed as a remarkable saying among the thieving tribe, 'That the best hand will miss at times, like Jem Mackcoull.'

            In his twenty-eighth year he married the mistress of a brothel, and assisted her in furnishing her house in Clifford's Inn Passage, which, in addition to its being a receptacle for unfortunate women, he made a depot for stolen property. He planned several burglaries, but was an actor in none. The stolen property he always deposited in a recess, formed by the shutting up of a window, which he called Pitt's picture, in allusion to the window-tax. This secret recess was, however, discovered by the ferrets of the law, and Mackoull was obliged to make a trip to the West Indies, a phrase he frequently made use of to signify a removal from London,. His friends endeavoured to hush the business, but their efforts failed, and Mackcoull was compelled to quit the country.

            In 1802 he arrived at Hamburg, and took the name of Moffat. In company with two others he affected the air of a merchant, and pretended to have large consignments from England and Scotland. Of the latter country he said he was a native. He had recourse here to his former practices, and supported himself by gaming, picking pockets, and shop-lifting. He was no sooner suspected in one town than he removed to another, but had to make a precipitate retreat in 1805, and came home. In London he found it not prudent to stop, and therefore went to Edinburgh, where he arrived the 10th of September, and called himself Moffat.

            In Scotland he followed his usual practices, and, the better to conceal his real character, pretended to follow the business of a dyer of leather, and took premises for the purpose, into which skins sere seen to be taken, but no one ever saw any coming out. A gentleman pickpocket was then a character unknown north of the Tweed; and Mackcoull had so plentiful a harvest, that he brought his wife from London, and she passed in Edinburgh for a genteel proper woman. Being of a facetious turn, full of anecdote, and not deficient in low wit, Mackcoull was regarded as an agreeable companion, and was known in the different taverns and coffee-houses as the good-humoured red-faced Englishman.

            In the beginning of November, 1806, William Begbie, porter to the British Linen Company, was assassinated in the entry leading to the bank at Edinburgh, and robbed of a bag containing five thousand pounds. Though this daring murder took place in clear day-light, the perpetrator was never discovered; but subsequent events lead to the presumption of Mackcoull being the ruthless assassin. The large notes, payment of which was stopped, were afterwards found in a spot frequented by Mackcoull, who no doubt purposely left them there.

            Until 1808 Mackcoull committed his depredations with impunity; But about this period he was detected picking a gentleman's pocket in the theatre; for which offence he was committed to prison; but, strange to say, he was liberated without being prosecuted. He now returned to London, and concealed himself for some time in the neighbourhood of Somers Town, but again visited Scotland the following year. on his arrival he was apprehended for passing forged notes; but having artfully got change of a five-pound note on his journey in presence of a fellow-passenger, the latter, a respectable man, came forward and procured Mackcoull's liberation. After this he visited Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, and Montrose, and during his migrations met with a notorious character named French, with whom be agreed to rob one of the Scotch banks, and they hastened to London to procure the necessary implements. On their arrival French was apprehended on a charge of burglary, tried, and sentenced to transportation for life, in accordance with which he was sent to the hulks. In consequence of this event the robbery of the Scotch banks was deferred.

            Meeting with the notorious Huffey White, whose case we have already given, Mackcoull agreed with this expert housebreaker to rob the Chester bank. White, having just escaped from the hulks, was very poor, so that Mackcoull had to provide for the expenses of the journey, &c. White at the time lodged with a blacksmith, named Scoltock, who lived in Tottenham Court Road, and who supplied him with the implements of housebreaking. Arrangements having been made with this descendant of Vulcan, the villains set off for Chester, to reconnoitre, desiring that the keys, &c. should be forwarded to them on a certain day, directed to James Wilson.

            Scoltock executed his order with punctuality; but on the way the box, in which the implements were sent, yielded to the friction of the coach, and one of the skeleton keys protruded through an opening. An officer being sent for, he concealed himself in the office until Mackcoull and White called, and then took them into custody. When taken before the magistrate, Mackcoull said his name was James Martin, and White said his was Evans. Not being able to give an account of themselves, they were committed, May the 17th, 1810, to the House of Correction, as rogues and vagabonds.

            Information of the transaction being given at Bow Street, an officer was dispatched to Chester, who soon recognised this pair of notorious villains. White was tried the ensuing assizes for being at large before the expiration of his sentence, and was condemned to death, but had his sentence commuted to transportation for life. On the 10th of January, 1811, Mackcoull was discharged from Chester Castle, and on his arrival in London he met French, who had made his escape from the hulks, and they agreed to go and put their former determination of robbing a Scotch bank into execution. But as neither of them were very expert at the business, they resolved to release Huffey White from the hulks, whose abilities in this way were of a superior order.

            They soon effected the escape of White, and all three set off for Glasgow, Scoltock, as usual, promising to send the necessary implements of housebreaking after them; for which he was to be paid when the job was done; indeed, so poor were the parties, that French had to sell his furniture to meet the expenses of the journey.

            On their arrival in Glasgow they took lodgings in the house of a Mrs. Stewart, and gave their names as Moffat, Stone, and Down, and spent their time chiefly in smoking and drinking, occasionally going out to adjust their keys, &c. under the pretence of fishing. The Paisley Union Bank, in Ingram Street, was the object of their attack; but on the arrival of the implements they found they could not open it. White, alias Down, thought to obviate this difficulty by making a pewter key, but neither would this answer, and Mackcoull had to set off to London to give Scoltock the necessary instructions. On his return they were too successful, and robbed, one Saturday night, the bank of Scotch notes to the amount of twenty thousand pounds, after which they posted to London, changing a twenty-pound note at every stage.

            As the thieves had, on leaving the Bank, locked the doors, the robbery was not discovered until Monday morning, when a person went in pursuit of the fugitives, and traced them to London. An officer from Bow Street was then dispatched in search of the robbers, and that evening White was apprehended in Scoltock's house, where Mackcoull had only a few minutes left him, to provide some wine. The implements of housebreaking were found on the prisoner, but no money; for on their arrival in London Mackcoull had deposited the whole with the noted pugilist, Bill Gibbons, who acted as flash banker to such characters. There is no honour among thieves. Mackcoull assured his companions that the booty amounted only to sixteen thousand pounds, thus pocketing four thousand pounds for himself. On the apprehension of White, Mackcoull went into concealment, and French, who dreaded the ferrets of the law, sent for Mrs. Mackcoull, and proposed, as the only way to save their lives, to return the money to the bank, and thus hush the business. To this she consented, and her husband also acquiesced with the view of making his own fortune. His wife had been an acquaintance of Sayer, an officer who attended on the king, and through him she procured a pardon for her husband as well as for White and French for escaping from the hulks, on giving up the money to the bank- To this proposal the agents readily agreed; but, when Mrs. Mackcoull brought the notes, they were found only to amount to eleven thousand nine hundred and forty-one pounds, with which the gulled agents were obliged to return to Scotland.

            The pardon obtained for White and French did not relieve them from their former sentence of transportation, and, accordingly, White was once more transmitted to the hulks. French for a while kept out of the way; but, meditating revenge on Mackcoull for the part he had acted, the latter contrived to have him apprehended, and sent to New South Wales.

            Mackcoull, being now in possession of eight thousand pounds, had it reported that he was gone to the West Indies, when, in fact, he was passing the notes in Scotland, in the purchase of English bills. In 1812 he was arrested in a brothel in London, having abandoned his own wife for the charms of one Mary Reynolds, who had turned housekeeper, alias mistress, of a brothel. Mackcoull was now transmitted to Glasgow, where he arrived the 8th of April, 1812, and committed to gaol. While here he did not seriously deny the robbery, but offered to make restitution to the bank, and promised their agent one thousand pounds, and gave them a bill for four hundred  pounds. The bank not being at this time prepared to substantiate his guilt, he was discharged the following July, and the agent of the bankers absolutely received from Mr. Harmer, of London, the one thousand pounds, which, however, Mackcoull subsequently recovered by suit at law from that able solicitor, he having paid it without sufficient authority.

            Mackcoull now considered himself beyond all danger, and in company with one Harrison, a brother of Mary Reynolds, made several trips to Scotland, and purchased commercial bills in the name of James Martin, a merchant, and everywhere introduced his friend Harrison as a most respectable merchant. In 1812 he opened a deposit account with Messrs. Marsh and Co. bankers, in the name of James Ibel, and had in their hands at one period above two thousand pounds.

            In March, 1813, he again visited Scotland to vend more of the stolen notes, but was taken into custody, and bills and drafts, in favour of James Martin, to the amount of one thousand pounds, which he had purchased, taken from him. Owing; however, to Mackcoull having run his letters against his Majesty's advocate, he could not again be committed for the same offence, and consequently he was discharged out of custody, the bank, however, holding the bills.

            On his return to London he paid a, visit to his wife: but an altercation ensuing, he struck her; for which he was, after being tried at the Quarter Session, sentenced to six months' imprisonment. While in 'durance vile,' Huffey White 'died in his calling,' an event which gave Mackcoull mach satisfaction, as he apprehended great danger when he heard of his old associate below at large.

            In 1815 he resolved to recover the bills and drafts from the magistrates, by whom they had been taken from him; and as they refused compliance with his request by letters, he visited Glasgow in person, and demanded, in the most insolent manner, the restitution of what he called his property. This being refused, he commenced an action against them, which, more than any other case that ever came before a court of justice, proves the glorious uncertainty of the law; for it continued to be litigated for five years; and, the bankers having become the defendants, the country, for the first time, witnessed the singular fact of an acknowledged thief contending with persons for the property he had actually stolen from them.

            During the progress of this protracted case, Mackcoull attended the courts of law in person, and gave instructions to his agent. He always conducted himself with the greatest sang froid and treated with contempt and derision the allusions made by counsel to his character. At length it was ruled that Mackcoull should be interrogated in person before the court; and after some hesitation he consented. This circumstance was no sooner known, than crowds flocked to hear his examination, which lasted for several days. He behaved in the most cool and determined manner; and when his absurd replies elicited a laugh in court, he always smiled with seeming self-approbation. The account he gave of himself was that he traded as a merchant, and that he chiefly transacted business with one James Martin, whose residence he could not tell. He objected to many questions put to him with the acuteness of a lawyer, and at length the session rose without having come to any decision; and Mackcoull returned to London in great spirits, to arrange with his brother John about some letters he had, on his examination, promised to write to Mr. James Martin, who was obviously a fictitious character. The following letter and answer were then prepared by John, and both, as was afterwards proved, in his handwriting:--

            Edinburgh, 10th May, 1819.
            'Dear Sir -- I am still detained here with that infernal suit against the partners of the Paisley Union Bank, whose agents here, while in the act of themselves robbing that bank with both hands, have made myself a most unwilling instrument in their hands, and art and part guilty with them. The Lord Ordinary, when I complain to him of this, tells me, that they must not be obstructed in their lawful avocations; and how long I am to be stuck up between the bank and their agents, or, in other words, placed between the hammer and the anvil, will depend upon the ability of the bank or of myself to continue the litigation. For six years has this process been most actively carried on before Lord Gillies, Ordinary, who they say is among the hest of the Scottish judges, without one relevant averment, and without a definitive judgment. Though his lordship sees the most pointed charge of forgery made by me against one of the bank agents, and has admission of all of them distinctly stated upon his record, of their having robbed me by a prostitution of the police law, he, nevertheless, refuses judgment:-- he has not energy to direct them to return my money, which the defender admits was forcibly taken from my person.

            'His lordship, after six years' litigation, is going to send the bank defence to the Jury Court, namely, that I and one White robbed with false keys their bank; and this pretty little defence, which the rhetoric of Mr. Erskine, the celebrated Scotch counsel, who wrote on Black of Inverkeithing's case, has spun out in two thousand folio pages, embraces all that they have been speaking about for the last six years. Lord Gillies, fatigued with this nonsense, has at last obliged them to plead issuably, and to confine their pleas to the fact of the robbery; but, ere the bank can enter the Jury Court, it has occurred to them as proper, after so long an acquaint. once, to discover, from myself, who I am? where I come from? what business I follow? and whether my conduct through life has been, like theirs, honest and moral?--it has pleased the Scottish judges to indulge their curiosity in all this, so that the bank agents, as one of the honourable judges expressed himself from the bench, might have an opportunity, from "his biographical sketch," to trammel me before the jury, in case the history of my life, taken by surprise, and upon their interrogatories, shall be incorrect. This, you must know, is Scotch law, and Scotch practice, and, I may add, Scotch breeding; and I have, of course, submitted to three several examinations before this inquisitorial court. These honourables have now got my life and travels for those last sixteen years, together with some account of yourself; for they have made, of necessity, the discovery that you and I have been most deeply connected in business together. What this biographical account may suggest to the fertile mind of our modern Cicero, whose grimaces in pleading are really frightful, I know not; but, if you come to this country soon, you had better empty your pockets ere you cross the Tweed, for greater ruffians never infested Hounslow Heath than those who have robbed me with impunity. I have myself expended eight hundred pounds in my attempts to get my money from them, of which, without the least dread or fear for the consequences, they openly confess in a court of law that they robbed me! I want a judgment in terms of their own confession, and that I cannot get. I never knew what a court of inquisition was till I came to Scotland. In my judicial declaration, I was asked if I made any entry, in any memorandum book, of the money I received from your cousin and Harrison? "declare, I dare say I did." Interrogated, What book I referred to, and where it now is? "declare, I think it was a memorandum book for the year 1815, which, I think, is now in the hands of Mr. James Martin, but that I am not sure." Being requested to write Mr. James Martin to transmit all his books, for the purpose of being put into the hands of the clerk of the process, "declare, that he has no objection to write to Mr. Martin, as desired, but be is sure Mr. Martin will not pass the books out of his hands." So you see what has passed; and it lies with you to say what I shall report to the Lord Ordinary. The session has risen, and will not again sit till May, when I shall thou use every exertion in my power to get away with my property and with my character from that court and that country where I now am, through the medium of a jury. I have sacrificed eight hundred pounds of law expenses. I have lost six years of my time, together with the fatigue and trouble of going and returning to London, and hitherto for no other purpose than to hear myself abused. For these six years my life has been made a burden to me. Mr. Jamieson, who conducts my suit, often tells me, what I believe to be true, that not a person in the whole United Kingdom could have manifested so much resolution and firmness; and he tells me that not one case could so opportunely occur to show the general distress of the nation. God only knows whether the practice is general: if so, I sincerely pity those who shall run the hundredth part of the gauntlet I have done; for it is a general robbery. The Scots live like fishes -- the large devour the small!

            'If there is any truth in the story about the bank being at all robbed with false keys, it may, as I am told, happen that this man White, who is said to be my accomplice, may turn out to be some Edinburgh deacon or magistrate, with a gold chain and cocked hat; for it was by them, along with, the procurator fiscal, that my money was first of all taken forcibly from my person, under the pretence of a crime, but for the covered purpose of taking my money. They have dropped the charge, but detained my property!

            You can have no conception to what length corruption and oppression is gone in this part of the United Kingdom; and what is most lamentable, the higher orders of society are chiefly implicated in it: this you will see from the advocation. In short, my good air, all I can tell is, that, after the most active research which, during the course of six years, could be made after roguery, all that is hitherto made out is, that, of all of us concerned in that fraudulent inquiry, there is but one honest man among us, and that is myself: they are all of them chargeable, from the face of the records, but one. But, put jests aside, I have been shockingly used; and, if you can make a step down this way, as a witness for me at the jury trial, I shall be well enough pleased?           I am,' &c.

            [The reading of this letter occasioned a great deal of amusement in court, from the grave folly in which it is couched, particularly its reflections on the Scotch courts.] 'And this,' continued the learned counsel, 'is from an honest man, demanding the surrender of his own books!' He would now read the answer of Mr. Martin, which was of a piece with the foregoing, and was written according to the instructions of Mackcoull, by Mackcoull's own brother. The jury would perceive what a fraternal correspondence it was:--

            'April 13, 1819.
            'Sir,-- Your application to me, relative to the books in my possession, is so very strange and absurd, that I am really at a loss to account for it. In the name of reason, what can the books have to do with the bills taken or stolen from your person? It is but a short period since you informed me that Sir William Forbes and the Commercial Bank had declared they cancelled the bills -- and I am now told they are not cancelled. What am I to think of this juggling? if yon report truly, I do not only think, but am justified in saying, Sir William Forbes and the Commercial Bankers are a set of scoundrels, and the greatest villains in existence; and certainly not deserving any credit whatever. I shall, most assuredly, report their conduct, not only to the bank directors of England, but post them in every commercial town in Europe.

            'Let these fellows have any books belonging to me, or in my possession! Certainly not. Pray let me ask, how am I to know, when they are in such villainous hands, what use they may make of them to answer their own ends and purposes? Afterwards I may then be told by some of the gang, "O, they are honourable men, and would not do so bad an action!" and so to be cozened by their honourableships. Although I am but a plain, blunt Englishman, I know these sort of honourables too well to trust them with any thing they can construe to make subservient to their purpose. I would not, after such swearing, lying quirks, tricks, and subterfuges as these honourables have been guilty of, trust them with the piece of tobacco paper now before me. I therefore decidedly decline having any thing to do with such honourables, and wish to have no other communication with them but in a court of justice, where I could scarcely even there think myself safe (particularly in a Scotch court, where they are permitted to say and swear what they please through their agency.)

            'I shall be away from here in a day or two, either for Berne or the Italian States. I am exceedingly ills and have been for a long time; indeed my health is daily declining. Your agent, Mr. Jamieson, certainly knows what is best to be done with these honourables; and, therefore, if there is no other alternative, you must wait with patience the issue. Trusting you are better in health than I am, I remain
            'Your very sincere friend,
            (Signed) 'JAMES MARTIN'

            At the close of every session, during the progress of the case, Mackcoull went regularly to London by sea; and returned in the same manner, when the courts met. On these occasions he was to be seen in Edinburgh every evening at a low public house, surrounded by journeymen and apprentices, whom he amused with his humorous description of Scotch bailies, lawyers, and bankers, applying to them the most ludicrous names and epithets that could be devised, denouncing against them vengeance and public exposure. He was extremely generous, and was looked on by this low company as a little king.

            During the summer sessions he produced the letters supposed to be to and from Martin, and, as if now confident of success, he urged his counsel to accelerate the business; but, as before, the court rose without coming to any decision. The bank was at this time in a critical situation: unless they proved Mackcoull's participation in the robbery, and that the bills &c. were purchased with notes stolen from the bank, they would have to deliver up to Mackcoull not only the bills, &c., but to pay all attendant expenses, besides incurring the disgrace of losing the action -- an action unparalleled in the annals of any court of Europe, brought by a public depredator -- a convicted rogue and vagabond -- who was at large, and who was prosecuting with their own money a respectable banking company, for attempting to keep part of the property of which he had robbed them. But this was not all. Mackcoull's intention, if successful, was to follow up the decision with an action for damages, in which it was the opinion of many that he would also succeed.

            In December 1819, Mackcoull and his agent urged the matter so strenuously, that the trial was fixed for the 20th of February 1820; and the issue to be tried was, whether Mackcoull was concerned in the robbery.

            To prepare for the trial, the bank sent Mr. Donovan, an intelligent officer in Edinburgh, from Glasgow to London, to trace the route the robbers had taken nine years before, and to procure witnesses. Donovan was successful, and brought down with him Scoltop, who had prepared the instruments by means of which the robbery was effected, Mrs. Huffey White, several waiters at inns, and even Mrs. Mackcoull, who consented to give evidence against her husband. The most eminent lawyers at the Scotch bar were engaged on each side; and on the morning of the trial, May the 11th 1820, every avenue to the court was crowded to excess, so intense was the interest excited by the case. The result was against Mackcoull, for the witnesses completely established his guilt; and so unexpected was the appearance of some of them to him, that he frequently ran out of court, and on seeing Scoltop actually swooned away.

            Mackcoull's career of villainy was now near its end. On the 19th of June he was indicted for the robbery, in the High Court of Justiciary; and the same witnesses being again examined, the jury returned a verdict of Guilty -- Death. Towards the conclusion of the trial Mackcoull often looked about him with a kind of vacant stare, and was observed frequently to mutter and grind his teeth. When the verdict was announced he gave a malignant grin; and when sentence was passed, he bowed respectfully to the court. On being carried back to jail his fortitude forsook him, and he appeared overwhelmed with despair. At this moment he said with emotion, "Had not the eye of God been upon me, such a connected chain of evidence never could have been brought forward!" His spirits, however, soon returned, and he received the number of visitors, who were led by curiosity to see him, with great cheerfulness.

            Although he had treated his wife with great unkindness, she now came forward and supplied him during his imprisonment with every luxury in profusion. She also made application for a reprieve: and whether from her exertion or not, on the l4th of July a respite arrived, and in three weeks after a reprieve during his majesty's pleasure.

            All who visited Mackcoull did not do so from mere curiosity. One man went for the laudable purpose of awakening in his mind some sentiments of religion, and to induce him to repent of his manifold crimes, as a necessary means of salvation. This person was attached to the Methodists, and one day brought with him a friend, a missionary, whom he introduced to Mackcoull. The convict received his guests with great politeness, and soon began to question the missionary so closely concerning his travels in Germany. that he was glad to fly to Poland and Silesia; when, finding that Mackcoull had not been there, he began to expatiate on the ignorance and barbarism of the people, wham he represented as eating jackasses. 'Hold! hold!' said Mackcoull, 'I do not believe you; for, if they eat asses, how the devil did you escape being devoured?'

            In the month of August, the wretched prisoner fell into a natural decline, and his mental faculties completely forsook him. In the course of a short time his hair, which had been previously nearly jet black, became a silver gray, and at length he died in the county jail of Edinburgh on the 22nd day of December 1820, and was decently interred at the expense of his wife, in the Calton burying ground.

            Thus terminated the mortal existence of a man who seemed destined by Nature for a better fate. That he possessed abilities which, with honest and industrious application, might have rendered him a useful member of society, cannot be denied: but it is difficult to overcome the effect of early impressions -- he was reared and nurtured in a hot-bed of vice. He felt no spur, no incentive, to virtue; and he implicitly followed the impulse of a polluted conception. His whole life may thus be considered as one uninterrupted career of villainy, almost without a parallel. That he did not expiate his crimes on a gibbet, was merely owing to circumstances which are not worth explaining; but, during the period of his imprisonment, he suffered many deaths. Of the fatal tree he spoke without fear; but the dread of a future tribunal paralyzed his understanding. He saw and trembled at the approach of that unerring shaft which no earthly ruler could control; while the horrors of his mind, by affecting the nervous system, accelerated his dissolution. The retrospect of his life often obtruded itself with new modifications of insupportable reflection -- the prospect of futurity he could only contemplate with fearful apprehension. He felt the wakening of a seared conscience, from which there was no retreat. He crawled about, grinding his teeth; his intervals of slumber were broken and interrupted with the most frightful visions, and he saw the hairs of his head become grey with anguish! The picture is too horrible to finish. To Religion he was a stranger, a total stranger, in this hour of need: he felt not her soothing influence -- he cherished not the hope of forgiveness or mercy. Unhappy man! he looked to God as to a cruel and vindictive ruler, at whose hands he could only expect the full punishment of his crimes: his resignation was despair!

 

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