Imágenes de páginas
PDF

the world, to be what is commonly called cunning. In short, her character was that of perfect simplicity. , Price therefore thought her not fit to be trusted. Her aunt, on the contrary, was wily, crafty and capable of executing any plan Price would chalk out for her. She was a woman after his own heart; and having made choice of this woman as an assistant, and his apparatus being ready, he began his operations. He lived then at Paddington with his wife, whom he went to nightly; and at lodgings, near Portland-place, he daily visited her aunt, where the implements for his undertakings were concealed. His next and chief object was a negociator, and he procured one in the following manner. Previous to the drawing of the lottery for the year 1780, Price put an advertisement into the “Daily Advertiser” for a servant who had been used to live with a single gentleman, and the direction was to “C. C. Marlborough-street coffeehouse, Broad-street, Carnaby-market.” An honest young man, who at that time lived with a musical instrument-maker in the Strand, read this advertisement, and sent a ietter to the specified address. At the end of a week, one evening, about dusk, a coachman inquired for the person who had answered the advertisement, saying there was a gentleman over the way, in a coach, wanted to speak with him. The young man went to the coach, was desired to step in, and there saw an apparently aged foreigner, gouty, wrapped up with five or six yards of flannel about his legs, a camblet surtout buttoned up over his chin, close to his mouth, a large patch over his left eye, and every part of his face concealed except his nose, right eye, and a small part of that cheek. This person was Price, who caused the young man to sit at his left side, on which eye the patch was; so that Price could take an askance look at him with his right eye, and discover only a small portion of his own face. Thus disguised, he seemed between sixty and seventy years of age, and afterwards, when the man saw him standing, he appeared nearly six feet high, owing to boots or shoes with heels little less than four inches high. To aid the deception, he was so buttoned up and straightened as to appear perfectly lank. Price's real height was about five feet six inches; he was a compact, neat made man, rather square shouldered, and somewhat inclined to corpulency; his legs

were firm and well set. His features assisted his design to look considerably older than he really was; his nose was aquiline, his eyes were small and grey, his mouth stood very much inwards, his lips were very thin, his chin was pointed and prominent, he had a pale complexion, and loss of teeth favoured his disguise of speech. His natural form. was exceedingly upright; he was active and quick in his walk, and was what is usually described “a dapper made man." To the young man, whose christian name was Samuel, Price affected great age, with a faint hectic cough, and so much bodily infirmity as almost to disable him from getting out of the coach. Price told him he was not wanted by himself, but as under servant to a young nobleman of fortune, under age, and then in Bedfordshire, to whom he was, and had been some years, guardian. He inquired into the particulars of Samuel's life, and thinking him honest and ingenuous, and therefore unsuspicious, and suitable to his purse, he talked to him about wages. amuel inquired whether he was to be in livery or not : Price replied, that he could not really tell, for the young noblemon was a very whimsical character, but that was a circumstance which might be settled hereafter. To carry on the farce, he desired Samuel to call his master to the coach to give him a character, and his master came and gave him such an one as Price pretended to approve; he then hired Samuel at eighteen shillings per week, and gave him a direction to himself, as Mr. Brank, at No. 39, Titchfieldstreet, Oxford-street. Pursuant to appointment, on the second or third evening afterwards, Samuel went to Titchfield-street, and there entered on the service of the minor nobleman, by waiting on Mr. Brank. Price resumed his discourse respecting his ward, the eccentricity and prodigality of his manners, and his own hard task in endeavouring to prevent him from squandering his money, especially in those deceitful allurances called lottery tickets. He said, although he was his guardian, he was still obliged to comply with some of those whims, in opposition to his own advice and remonstrance. Old Mr. Brank talked of the happy prospects for Samuel by serving such a master, and Samuel talked of his wages and clothes, and whether he was to be in livery or not. It was concluded, that for the present he should procure a drab coat, turned up with red, till the nobleman's pleasure was known, or he came to town: he was ordered to get the clothes at his own charge, and make out his bill; which he did, but was never repaid. This circumstance corresponded with Price's usual conduct: he never was known to part with a shilling from one hand, till he had more than double its value in the other. It should be observed, that Samuel was so placed on the left side of the pretended Mr. Brank, on which side the patch was, that during the whole of the conversation he could never see the right side of Price's face. Before Samuel took leave of the old gentleman, he was ordered to come again in the evening of the first day of the drawing of the lottery. Price pretended, that he seldom went to the nobleman's town house of an evening, and therefore, to avoid giving him unnecessary trouble, he was to attend in Titchfield-street. On that evening he pulled out a variety of apers, letters, Soc., and told Samuel he had received orders from the thoughtless young nobleman to purchase lottery tickets, as a venture against his coming to town, and for that purpose he meant to employ Samuel. He produced some seeming bank-notes, and gave Samuel two, one of twenty pounds, the other of forty pounds. He directed him to take their numbers and dates on a piece of paper, for fear of losing them, and to go to a lottery office in the Hay-market, and with the one of twenty pounds to purchase “an eight guinea chance:” from thence he was to go to the corner of Bridge-street, Westminster, to buy another out of the forty pound note, and wait at the door of the Parliament-street coffee-house till he came to him. With these notes Samuel bought each of the chances, and was on his way to the Parliament-street coffee-house when, from the opposite side of the way, he was hailed by Mr Brank, who complimented him on his speed, and said he had been so quick, that he, Brank, had not had time to get to the coffee-house. He was then interrogated, if he had made the purchases, and, replying in the affirmative, was again commended for his diligence: Brank also inquired, if any mistake had happened; and all this with a deal of coughing, imbecility of speech, and feigned accent. When Samuel received the notes, he

received as many canvass bags as he was ordered to buy shares, and to put each distinct share, and the balance of each note, into a separate bag, for fear, as Brank said, the chance of one office might be confused with the chance of another, and Samuel be thereby puzzled to know where he had bought the different chances; and by such confusion, or forgetfulness, it might not be recollected where to apply in case of a fortunate number. Mr. Brank having secured the chances and balances, ordered Samuel to go to Goodluck's at Charing-cross, from thence to King-street, Covent-garden, and Yorkstreet, Covent-garden, and purchase some other small shares and chances, and then meet him at the city coffee-house, Cheapside. To these places the young man went, and having bought his numbers and changed his notes, as he was going. along York-street, his master called to him from a coach, pretended he was fortunate in thus seeing him, made Samuel step in, got the produce of the forgery, and away they drove to the city. In their way thither, Brank applauded his servant's despatch; gave him more notes, to the amount of four hundred pounds, with instructions to purchase shares and chances, at offices about the Exchange; and directed him, as before, to put the chances and money received at each office in a separate bag. For this purpose Samuel was set down from the coach in Cheapside, and having executed his commissions returned, agreeable to his orders, to the city coffee-house, where he waited a few minutes and then Mr. Brank came hobbling up to him, and took him into a coach, that was waiting hard by Brank resumed complaints of his health and infirmities, and observed, that the fatigues of business had kept him longer than he expected; but he warned Samuel to be always exceedingly punctual. . His reason for urging punctuality was the dread of a discovery, and to prevent consultations, by which he might be detected. On their way to Long-acre, where the coachman was ordered to drive, Brank amused his servant with flattering promises for his attention and fidelity; and at parting put a guinea into his hand, and gave him orders to be in waiting, for a few days, at his old master's in the Strand. It afterwards appeared, that whenever Samuel went to an office a woman, unobserved by him, always walked in at the same time, and looked about her as is

accompanying some one else in the shop; and as soon as Samuel had done his business she also walked away. This woman was Mrs. Pounteney, the aunt of Price's wife, described in the advertisement and hand-bill issued by the bank. She constantly accompanied Price in a coach whenever he went out, watched Samuel at every office, as soon as he had safely got out stepped across the way to Price, who was in the coach, informed him of the success, and then Samuel was hailed, and Price secured the property while she kept out of sight; nor did Samuel ever see her during his servitude. During his residence at Titchfield-street, which was but a week, Price always appeared and went out as Brank, accompanied by Mrs. Pounteney. In case of any accidental discovery, she was ready to receive the . so that Brank might be instantly shifted to Price, and Price to Brank, and Samuel thereby be rendered incapable of ions the man that had employed 1nn.

On the Sunday morning after Price's last adventure, a coachman inquired for Samuel at his old master's, by whom the coachman was informed, that though Sam worked he did not lodge there, and that he should not see him till the next morning, y : The coachman held a parcel in his hand, which he, said was for Samuel, and which the master desired him to leave, and he should have it the next day; the coachman replied, he was ordered not to leave it, but to take it back in case he could not see the man, and accordingly went across the way with it; there the master saw the elderly gentleman, with whom he had conversed on Samuel's character a few days before, to whom the coachman delivered the parcel. Samuel's master saw this old gentleman get into a coach ; but in a minute the coachman returned and left the parcel, which contained notes to the amount of three hundred pounds, with a letter directing Samuel to buy, on the next morning, a sixteenth, an eight guinea chance, and a whole ticket, to repeat his purchases as before, till the whole were changed, and to meet his master, Mr. Brank, at Mill's coffee-house, Gerrard-street, Soho, at twelve o'clock the next day. Samuel duly executed these orders, but, on inquiry at the coffee-house, he found no such person as Mr. Brank had been there; in a few minutes, however, as he was standing at the coffee-house door, a coachman

summoned him to Mr. Brank, who was waiting in a coach at the corner of Macclesfield-street. He desired Samuel to come in, and made him sit on the left hand, as before described, and having received the tickets, shares, and balances, ordered him to bid the coachman drive towards Hampstead. On the way, he gave Samuel three sixteenths as a reward for his diligence, and talked much of his ward, who, he said, would be in town in a day or two, when he would speak

highly of Samuel's industry. He dis

coursed on these subjects till they reached Mother Black-cap's at Kentish-town, and then Samuel received orders to bid the coachman turn round; and, on their way back, Samuel had notes for five hundred pounds given to him, with directions to lay them out in the same manner about the 'Change, and meet his master at the same place in the evening, where he said he should dine; but, for reasons easily imagined, Samuel was ordered not to make his purchases at the offices he had been to before. Samuel, having performed this task also, went to the coffee-house, where a porter accosted him, and conducted him to his master in a coach as usual. He was now blamed for his delay, and an appearance of anger assumed, with a declaration, that he would not do if not punctual, for that the nobleman was very particular in time, even to a minute. Samuel apologized, and Brank received the cash and shares, and ordered him to go to the New Inn Westminster-bridge and hire a post-chaise to carry them to Greenwich to meet the nobleman's steward, who was also his banker, to whom he was going for money to purchase more tickets; observing, at the same time, on the imprudence and prodigality of his ward. At Greenwich, Samuel was desired to go to the Ship and order a dinner, while Brank was engaged, as he W.". in negociating his business; he instructed him not to wait longer than three o'clock, but go to dinner at that time, if he, Brank, did not return. It was not till half past four that Brank came hobbling, coughing, and seemingly quite out of breath with fatigue. They then drank tea together, and afterwards returned in the chaise to

Lombard-street, where it was discharged.

There Sam received more notes to the amount of 350l., which he got rid of in the usual way; and at the city coffeehouse was again fortunate enough to meet his master before he got to the door. Brank ordered him to attend the next evening at his lodgings, which he accordingly did, and afterwards at three or four other times, in the course of which attendance he negociated 500l. more of the forged notes. We now arrive at the close of Samuel's services. In negociating the last sum he had received, he went to Brooksbank's and Ruddle's, where he was interrogated as to whom he lived with ; Samuel said he was servant to a very rich nobleman's guardian, that he was at board-wages, and gave his address to his old master, the musical instrument-maker. Having delivered Brank the cash, &c. in the usual way, he was told, that perhaps he might not be wanted again for a week, and that he might wait till sent for. Before the expiration of that time, however, Samuel was apprehended, and taken to Bowstreet, where he was examined by the magistrates and gentlemen from the bank; and telling his artless tale, which was not believed, he was committed to Tothillfields-bridewell, on suspicion of forgery. - The surprise of the poor lad on his apprehension, his horror on being confined in a prison, and his dread of being executed as a forger of counterfeit banknotes, were only equalled by the astonishment of the directors of the bank and the magistrates, at the sagacity of the manufacturer, who had hitherto evaded every possibility of detection, Nor did they appear at all persuaded of Sam's innocence, though his story was, in part, con

firmed by his former master, the musical . ment for a person in the linen drapery

instrument-maker. The forged note he had passed at Brooksbank's and Ruddie's, where he had been interrogated, was the means of his apprehension. In a day or two it was paid into the bank, traced back to Brooksbank's and Ruddle's office, and, immediate application being made to Bow-street, the lad was taken into custody. Samuel's examinations were frequent and long, and in the end the following scheme was laid to secure the fabricator. Samuel having been ordered by Brank to istay till he was sent for, an inferior officer of Bow-street was stationed at the musical instrument-maker's in the Strand, where Samuel worked, in case Brank should call in the mean time. After the lapse

[blocks in formation]

established his

coffee-house, exactly at eleven o'clock. This was communicated to Mr. Bond, a clerk at Bow-street office, who ordered Samuel to comply, but not to go till five minutes past the time. The above inferior officer attended at a distance, disguised as a porter, with a knot on his shoulder, and Bond, dressed as a “lady,” followed at a small distance. When Samuel arrived at the coffee-house he found that a real porter had that instant been there and inquired for him, and could have been hardly got out of the door. This information Samuel directly communicated to the “lady,” (Bond of Bow-street,) and Samuel was sent back to wait; but Brank, in a hackneycoach hard by, had discovered the momentary conversation between Samuel and the disguised officers, and took immediate flight. An instant rush was

made at Titchfield-street, but in vain;

Brank had not been there since Samuel and he had left it together, and the police were entirely at fault. The advertisements were again issued, and hand-bills

were showered around to no purpose.

Poor Samuel, however, having tolerably innocence, was, after suffering eleven months' imprisonment, discharged with a present of twenty pounds. In the ensuing lottery, Price played the same artful game with notes of higher value; those of 20l. and 40l. were grown too suspicious, another lad had been taken into custody, another rush made, and Price was missed again by a moment. Price's next scheme was an advertise

business; and with notes of from 50l. to 100l.two young men, his agents,purchased

-linen drapery at different shops. They

were detected by having passed an 100l. note to Mr. Wollerton, a linen-draper in

“Oxford-street, who recovered the whole

of his property through Bond the officer, by whom it was seized at No 3, on the Terrace, in Tottenham-court-road.

To follow Price through all his proceedings would be impossible: in November 1782, Mr. Spilsbury of Sohosquare, the proprietor of some medicinal “ drops,” received a card bearing the name of Wilmott, which had been left by a person who had called at his house in his absence. The next evening the following note was delivered, at Mr. Spilsbury's.

“Mr. Wilmott's complits to Mr. Spilsbur. wishes to converse with him 10 minutes. having an Order for His drops, at half past five o'cloca this evening.

“No. 17, Gresse-street, Rathbone-place.”

At the time mentioned in the note Mr. Spilsbury went to Gresse-street, where he was shown into a parlour by a footboy, and waited until Mr. Wilmott made his appearance. He appeared to be a very infirm old man, in a great coat and a slouched hat, with a piece of red flannel round the lower part of his face, a large bush-wig on, if his legs wrapped over with flannel; he wore green spectacles, and a green silk shade hanging from his hat, but no patch on his eye; this was Price. He and Mr. Spilsbury had frequently met at Percy-street coffee-house, Rathbone-place, and often conversed together; but on this occasion Mr. Spilsbury had no idea or recollection of his old acquaintance. As soon as Price entered the parlour, he observed on his own dress; and said he had exceedingly suffered from the drawing of a tooth by an unskilful dentist, and wore the flannel on his face in order to avoid catching cold. He then familiarly conversed with Mr. Spilsbury, extolled the merits of his “drops," recounted great cures which he knew they had performed, styled himself a dealer in diamonds, and dismissed Mr. Spilsbury with the promise of an order in a few days. It was evidently postponed to strengthen Mr. Spilsbury's opinion of him, but at last it arrived in the following note:–

“Mr. Wilmott's compliments to Mr. Spilsbur, desires he will put up twelve bottles of drops at 3s.6d. against Friday three o'clock. the boy will call and pay for them. also, Mr. spilsbur will send a copy or form of an Adertisement—and attestation, leaving a blank for the names. the case was—the man was violently broke out in legs, body and face, and he actually had no other physic than two of the bottles. and it is really astonishing how much He is recovered.—when Mr. Wilmott comes to town to-morrow week He will send the voucher authenticated by 6 people of consequence.

“Gresse-street, No. 17."

The boy did not call on the Friday mentioned ; but on the Friday week he brought a letter, in which Mr.Wilmott desired Mr. Spilsbury to send two guineas' worth of the drops, and change for a 10l. bank-note, and to be particular in send

ing guineas of good weight. The banknote appeared to be a new one. change was got in the neighbourhood, and the drops sent; and the next note Mr. Spilsbury received was from Sir Sampson Wright, desiring his attendance at Bowstreet, where, to his astonishment, he was informed of the forgery. He related the preceding particulars to the magistrate, and produced the two letters. The officers aid an immediate visit to Gresse-street, [. old Mr. Wilmott had previously departed. Not long after this, Mr. Spilsbury met his acquaintance, Mr. Price, at the Percystreet coffee-house; and there, drinking his chocolate, and talking over the occurrences of the day, Mr. Spilsbury told the foregoing story to his coffee-house acquaintance, while Price every now and then called out “Lack a day! Good God! who could conceive such knavery could exist I What, and did the bank refuse ayment, sir?” “O yes,” said Mr. Spilsury, with some degree of acrimony; “ though it is on the faith of the bank of England that I and a great many others have taken them, and they are so inimitably executed, that the nicestjudges cannot detect them.” “Good God!" said Price, “he must have been an ingenious villain!—What a complete old scoundrel!" It is related, that when the celebrated artist William Wynn Ryland was to be executed for forging an East-india bond, Price intreated the use of a dining-room window in Oxford-street, at the house of a gentleman whom he had defrauded in the same manner he had done Mr. Spilsbury; and Price was present when Ryland passed to Tyburn, and on that occasion pointed to Ryland, saying “There goes one of the most ingenious men in the world, but as wicked as he is ingenious —he is the identical man who has done all the mischief in the character of Patek: he deserves his fate, and he would confess the fact, if he was not in hopes of a o: which he would have obtained, perhaps, had not the directors been certain that it was charity to the public to let him suffer.” Mention has already been made of the fraud practised by Price on Mr. R. of Knightsbridge. One in a family was not enough for him, and Mr. R's brother, who lived in Oxford-street, experienced the effect of Price's ingenuity in crime. Price had been often there, and bought a vanety of things, and was perfectly well known

« AnteriorContinuar »