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good health, as I am at present; but I must own you are the loser for want of my dying speech : but to make up your loss, if you think this sheet worth your while, pray make the best of it. Though they do say, that I am taken among the smugglers, and put into Dover Castle, yet I hope I am among smugglers still. So no more, but
“ Your humble Servant,
“ JOHN SHEPPARD.
“And I desire you would be the postman to my last lodging, so farewell, now I quit the English shore.
“ Newgate farewell.
“You was pleased to pass your jokes upon me, and did say you should not have been angry with me, had I took my leave of you; but now pray keep your jokes to yourself, let them laugh that win : for now it is an equal chance, you to take me, or I to get away, but I own myself guilty of that ill manners; but excuse me, for my departure being private and necessary, spoiled the ceremony of bidding adieu. But I wish you all as well as I am at present. But pray be not angry for the loss of your irons, had you not gave me them I had not taken them away; but really I had left them behind me had convenience served. So pray don't be angry.
“How Austin and Perry you did say,
“ For you are large and heavy men,
“And what is amiss done, you write, for my scholarship is but small.
.“ This from your fortunate prisoner,
Sheppard immediately broke open a shop, and with the profits arising from the robbery, he purchased a fine suit of black, a light tie wig, a ruffled shirt, and a silver-hilted sword; with these, and a diamond ring, he struck into the gentleman line, though he knew the officers were tracking him like bloodhounds.
“On the 31st of October, he dined with his two women, Cook and Keys, at a public-house in Newgate-street, where they were very merry together. About four in the afternoon they took coach, and drawing up the windows, passed through Newgate, and so to the Sheers ale-house in Maypole-alley, by Clare-market, where, in the evening, he sent for his mother, and treated her with part of three quarterns of brandy. As she knew the danger he was in, she advised him to take care of himself, and keep out of the way: but Jack had been drinking pretty hard, and was grown too wise to take counsel, and too valiant to fear any thing; and therefore, leaving his mother, he strolled about in the neighbourhood from ale-house to gin-shop, till near twelve o'clock, when he was apprehended by means of an ale-house boy, who had accidentally seen him. Poor Jack was then so drunk, that he was unable to make any resistance, and so he was once more conveyed in a coach to Newgate.”
This was a villanous self-abandonment on the part of Jack Sheppard.
“He had now a greater number of visitors than ever, and not a few persons of quality among them. Jack was not a little vain of having such company, and did his best to divert them: he was full of his jokes and stories of his own pranks, which he related in a manner, that shewed he was so far from repenting of his vices, that he only wished for an opportunity of repeating them. He did not, however, forget to entreat the noblemen to intercede with the king for a pardon, and was in great hopes of obtaining one, merely upon the merit of being an extraordinary villain.”
He was now watched in Newgate night and day. He was tried and condemned—but was “ very merry in the hole.” It was his intention,—and he kept a penknife in his pocket for the purpose,—to have cut his cords in the cart near the Turnstile, Holborn, and to have flung himself generously among his mob-friends. In this he was disappointed.
“ The day came, but Jack had still some hopes of eluding justice. Somebody had furnished him with a penknife; this he put naked in his pocket, with the point upwards, and, as he told one whom he thought he could trust, his design was to lean forward in the cart, and cut asunder the cord that tied his hands together, and then, when he came near Little Turnstile, to throw himself over among the crowd, and run through the narrow passage, where the officers could not follow on horseback, but must be forced to dismount; and, in the mean time, .doubted not, but by the mob's assistance, he should make his escape. It is not unlikely that he pleased himself with these thoughts, when he said, I have now as great a satisfaction at heart, as if I was going to enjoy an estate of two hundred pounds a year, though the chaplain understood it in a different sense. But this hopeful scheme was discovered in the Press-yard in Newgate, just as he was going into the cart, though it was not prevented without some loss of blood: one Watson, an officer, too incautiously examining Jack's pockets, unluckily cut his own fingers."
It was also his wish, in case of hanging, to be put into a warm bed and blooded-but he was too dead. Tyburn saw him die—and he made a decent end, much pitied by the spectators. Jack was a gallant rascal, and we must do him the only justice we can, by saying that he was no murderer!
Many poems and plays were writ upon his life and death. Several pictures of Jack in the condemned hole were published -and upon one, painted by Sir James Thornhill, some lingering lines were composed, that drag upon the ear like the wheels of a criminal's cart. A pantomime, called Harlequin Sheppard, was enacted at Drury Lane.- And, no doubt, Jack threw a summerset over Newgate to the great delight of the people in the one shilling. The very pulpit moralized on Sheppard's extraordinary escapes—and one preacher in particular, having recorded Jack's adroitness, applied the rogue thus,
“Let me exhort ye then to open the locks of your hearts with the nail of repentance; burst asunder the fetters of your beloved lusts; mount the chimney of hope, take from thence the bar of good resolution, break though the stone-wall of despair, and all the strong holds in the dark-entry of the valley of the shadow of death : raise yourselves to the leads of divine meditation. Fix the blanket of faith with the spike of the church. Let yourselves down to the turner's house of resignation, and descend the stairs of humility: so shall you come to the door of deliverance from the prison of iniquity, and escape the clutches of that old executioner the devil, who goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour."
We have been lavish of our room upon Jack Sheppardand must be more guarded in our treatment of the rest. But he was, perhaps, the most daring, careless, and yet bloodless offender that ever stood up to his hips in fading rue, or looked at his face in the livid glass which confronts the dock of the Old Bailey. He was passionately fond of women and wineand in reference to the latter, he, like justice, despised halfmeasures. Macheath was but Jack Sheppard set to music. We can easily picture him in our mind's burglary-eye, sitting up three pair of stairs in Drury Lane, “with his doxies around him," singing the old Irish death song of
tairs in Drin our mind, heppard bespised hair
“For its we are the boys of the Holy Ground, * .
Jonathan Wild, the notorious thief and thief-taker, was, in February, 1724-5, apprehended and lodged in Newgate. He used to carry a constable's staff about with him, and rob under the very shadow of its crown. He hung mankind at 401. a head, as men have since done. And he constantly caused his companions to be transported, as tenpenny nails are bartered, by the hundred. Jonathan was tried and sentenced to death, The Ordinary's account is very minute, but we cannot tarry with it. The particulars of a curious quarrel between Wild and Charles Hitchen, the city marshal, are detailed-in which much excessive villany is exposed. When two such scavengers begin to pelt each other, dirty work must be looked for. The Marshal bespatters poor Jonathan lustily for three pages-but Wild retorts with several good round accusations, and daubs his opponent to utter blackness. The Marshal considerably “sinks in his repute,” after Jonathan's short abusive history. Wild made himself delirious by poison at the time of execution
—but he was a little roused to a sense of his situation, by the desperate treatment he experienced from the mob. He died at Tyburn, and was buried—but it was feared by his friends, that he found his way, at last, to “among the otamies at Surgeon's Hall.” · The first volume of this extraordinary work ends with the end of Mrs. Hayes, who, it will be remembered by most of our readers, stirred up the year 1726 with about as barbarous a murder as ever convulsed a city, since murders first came into vogue. She hated Mr. Hayes with the heart of a she-Zanga or a tigress. She compassed his death, and, to make it certain, won over to her purpose Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood, two men, who contrived to make him drunk with "mountain. Wood and Billings despatched the poor man with a coal hatchet
—and Mrs. Hayes held his head over a bucket while the two murderers cut it off. : “Mrs. Hayes proposed, in order to prevent a discovery, that she would take the head and boil it in a pot till only the skull remained, whereby it would be altogether impossible for any body to distinguish to whom it belonged.
“ This proposal might have been approved of, only it was not altogether so expeditious : it was therefore proposed, that Billings and Wood should take the same in the pail, and carry it down to the Thames, and throw it in there. This was approved of, and Billings taking the
* The English-Irish name for St. Giles's.
head in the pail under his great coat, went down stairs with Wood to dispose thereof, as had been before agreed upon.”
The head was found, and exhibited in St. Margaret's Church Yard upon a pole ;--some friend of poor Mr. Hayes knew it, and recognized the murdered man.
Mrs. Hayes was tried and condemned to be burnt.
“ After sentence, Mrs. Hayes behaved herself with more indifference than might have been expected from one under her circumstances; she frequently expressed herself to be under no concern at her approaching death, only the manner of it appeared to carry some terror with it; she shewed more concern for Billings than for herself, and also a surprising fondness for him in all her actions : when in the chapel, she would sit with her hand in his, and lean upon his breast and shoulder, and he on her's; for this she was reprimanded, as being offensive to the spectators, both in regard to the indecency of the action, and as it shewed her esteem for the murderer of her husband; notwithstanding which reason she would not desist, but continued the same until the minute of her death; one of her last expressions to the executioner, as she was going from the sledge to the stake, being an enquiry if he had hanged her dear child.”
The following account of her execution is painfully vivid.
“ About twelve the prisoners were severally carried away for execution; Billings, with eight others, for various crimes, were put into three carts, and Catharine Hayes was drawn upon a sledge to the place of execution, where being arrived, Billings, with the other eight, after having had some time for their private devotions, were turned off: after which, Catharine Hayes being brought to the stake, was chained thereto with an iron chain, running round her waist, and under her arms, and a rope round her neck, which was drawn through a hole in the post; then the faggots, intermixed with light brush-wood and straw, being piled all round her, the executioner put fire thereto in several places, which immediately blazing out, as soon as the same reached her, she with her arms pushed down those which were before her, when she appeared in the middle of the flames as low as the waist; upon which the executioner got hold of the end of the cord which was round her neck, and pulled it tight, in order to strangle her, but the fire soon reached his hand, and burned it, so that he was obliged to let it go again; more faggots were immediately thrown upon her, and in about three or four hours she was reduced to ashes: in the mean time Billings's irons were put upon him as he was hanging on the gallows; after which, being cut down, he was carried to the gibbet, about a hundred yards distance, and there hung up in chains."
Swift wrote the following ballad on Mr. Hayes' murder, which the Ordinary describes as the work of “an anonymous writer, who imagined this execrable murder was a fit subject for drollery.”