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A Book of Scoundrels by Charles Whibley

Produced by An Anonymous Volunteer and David Widger

A BOOK OF SCOUNDRELS

By Charles Whibley

To the Greeks FOOLISHNESS

I desire to thank the Proprietors of the 'National Observer,' the 'New Review,' the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' and 'Macmillan's Magazine,' for courteous permission to reprint certain chapters of this book.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CAPTAIN HIND

MOLL CUTPURSE AND JONATHAN WILD I. MOLL CUTPURSE II. JONATHAN WILD III. A PARALLEL

RALPH BRISCOE

GILDEROY AND SIXTEEN-STRING JACK I. GILDEROY II. SIXTEEN-STRING JACK III. A PARALLEL

THOMAS PURENEY

SHEPPARD AND CARTOUCHE I. JACK SHEPPARD II. LOUIS-DOMINIQUE CARTOUCHE III. A PARALLEL

VAUX

GEORGE BARRINGTON

THE SWITCHER AND GENTLEMAN HARRY I. THE SWITCHER II. GENTLEMAN HARRY III. A PARALLEL

DEACON BRODIE AND CHARLES PEACE I. DEACON BRODIE II. CHARLES PEACE III. A PARALLEL

THE MAN IN THE GREY SUIT

MONSIEUR L'ABBE

INTRODUCTION

There are other manifestations of greatness than to relieve suffering or to wreck an empire. Julius Caesar and John Howard are not the only heroes who have smiled upon the world. In the supreme adaptation of means to an end there is a constant nobility, for neither ambition nor virtue is the essential of a perfect action. How shall you contemplate with indifference the career of an artist whom genius or good guidance has compelled to exercise his peculiar skill, to indulge his finer aptitudes? A masterly theft rises in its claim to respect high above the reprobation of the moralist. The scoundrel, when once justice is quit of him, has a right to be appraised by his actions, not by their effect; and he dies secure in the knowledge that he is commonly more distinguished, if he be less loved, than his virtuous contemporaries.

While murder is wellnigh as old as life, property and the pocket invented theft, late-born among the arts. It was not until avarice had devised many a cunning trick for the protection of wealth, until civilisation had multiplied the forms of portable property, that thieving became a liberal and an elegant profession. True, in pastoral society, the lawless man was eager to lift cattle, to break down the barrier between robbery and warfare. But the contrast is as sharp between the savagery of the ancient reiver and the polished performance of Captain Hind as between the daub of the pavement and the perfection of Velasquez.

So long as the Gothic spirit governed Europe, expressing itself in useless ornament and wanton brutality, the more delicate crafts had no hope of exercise. Even the adventurer


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