+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

they bend, and following with happily adapted
lies all their contortions. Now ingenuity of
this kind is not difficult, and that it is easy
constitutes the great charm of the art we are
discussing. The learned Baronus Martinus
proved himself very little of a thief, when
recently, in passing sentence on one of our
eminent professors, he informed him that
only a tenth part of the skill he had shown
in dishonesty, would have obtained for him
eminence in any honest calling. Dishonesty
has all the world before it where to choose
what it shall do or say. Because a man
chooses to run fast down the broad road, we
are not to think that with a tenth of the
trouble he would have climbed as rapidly
had he but taken to the narrow one.



The Predatory Act ia practised in three
ways, by robbery, by theft, by swindling. If
a child, when the mother's face is turned
away, were to transfer secretly a piece of
sugar from the basin to his mouth, he would
become a thief. If, when his mother had a
piece of sugar in her hand, he were to grasp
it, and by violence, against the mother's will,
transfer the sugar to his mouth, he would
become a robber. If by a false representation
of his father's wish, that sugar should be
given to him, he should cause his mother
with her own hands to present the sugar to
his lips, he would become a swindler. In
every case, it is to be observed, he is a clever
child who eats the sugar.


In the class of robbers the first order is
the imperial, and in this order the genus
Russian is remarkable. We deal here,
however, only with the more popular applications
of the Predatory Art, beginning with robbery,
which is that art displayed in its most
elementary condition. There is a nice question
upon which I should like to hold some
disputations in the schools of Europe, and it is
this: Whether a man who obtains goods by
secret poisoning, in as far as he obtains goods,
is to be regarded as a robber or a swindler?
If murder be an act of violence, and it will
need much acumen to show that it is not,
then since poisoning is murder, he who
obtains goods by poisoning must be a robber.
Palmerus seeking gain by the death of wife
and friend, comforted their last hours by
affectionate attendance, and seemed to
embrace them tenderly with human arms, while
really he had griped them like a vulture in
his clutches. By virtue of the false
appearances was Palmerus a swindler, or by virtue
of the violence was he a robber? In either
case, be it observed, even the usage of society
would have me say, by virtue.


Between robbery in-doors and the same
out-of-doors stands robbery committed on a
threshold. Viator, in a public thoroughfare
heard screams. He saw a woman on the
threshold of an open door, behind whom was
a man holding her about the neck. This he
at first believed to be the sequel to one of
those little differences incidental to the
married state; on second thoughts, however,
he turned back; the man, an unknown
professor of the Predatory Art, was no more to
be seen. He had knocked at a private door
as a dealer in blacking, with a view to
depredation upon great-coats and umbrellas; the
door being accidentally opened by the mistress
of the house, he had applied to her at once
by the method known as garotting for her
purse, but was defeated in his purpose by her

The wisdom of the East has contributed to
the perfection of the Predatory Art. From
the Thugs of India has been learnt the
mystery of the garotte, which is not less to
be remembered than the electric telegraph,
or than the photograph, among the great
advances made by art and science in our
day. Placing my hand suddenly between
your neckcloth and your neck, I grasp, I
twist, and what is yours is mine, or should be
mine. As conqueror I have a right to dictate
terms. To the garotte we owe some
beautiful examples of the clemency of victors
in the humblest walks of life.

Jarveius, who had found but little custom
for his cab, took notice of the comfortable
appearance of a gentleman who passed his
stand. He followed, seized, and twisted; of
the gentleman made suddenly uncomfortable,
he demanded money; the answer was, " I
have none," though the conquered man had
in his pocket seven shillings. " Money I
must and will have," said Jarveius, " butI
will be satisfied with fourpence." Hear ye
that, shades of Alexander, Attila, Napoleon,
and Nicolas.

But there are conquerors of the true type,
who by the garotte prey on the sick man and
make victims on the provocation of debility.
Not long agoonly with recent instances do
I enforce the doctrine of this treatisenot
long ago, a man so poor that he had in his
pocket but a single penny, so old also that
there was but little of life left in him, and
that littleif a popular opinion be correct
only the remainder of the ninth part of a
man, a poor worn-out tailor, went upon an
errand through some market-gardens in the
neighbourhood of Camberwell. He was
garotted, robbed of the one penny that he
had, and of his coat. So left, and deprived
by throttling of the use of speech and of his
memory, the old man crawled about all
night among the snow, was found in the
morning near his home, and taken in to die,
unable by word or sign to touch the safety