Deacon Brodie and Charles Peace

From A Book of Scoundrels by Charles Whibley

I--Deacon Brodie

AS William Brodie stood at the bar, on trial for a his life, he seemed the gallantest gentleman in court. Thither he had been carried in a chair, and, still conscious of the honour paid him, he flashed a condescending smile upon his judges. His step was jaunty as ever; his superb attire well became the Deacon of a Guild. His coat was blue, his vest a very garden of flowers; while his satin breeches and his stockings of white silk were splendid in their simplicity. Beneath a cocked hat his hair was fully dressed and powdered, and even the prosecuting counsel assailed him with the respect due to a man of fashion. The fellow's magnificence was thrown into relief by the squalor of his accomplice. For George Smith had neither the money nor the taste to disguise himself as a polished rogue, and he huddled as far from his master as he could in the rags of his mean estate. Nor from this moment did Brodie ever abate one jot of his dignity. He faced his accusers with a clear eye and a frigid amiability; he listened to his sentence with a calm contempt; he laughed complacently at the sorry interludes of judicial wit; and he faced the last music with a bravery and a cynicism which bore the stamp of true greatness.

It was not until after his crime that Brodie's heroism approved itself. And even then his was a triumph not of skill but of character. Always a gentleman in manner and conduct, he owed the success and the failure of his life to this one quality. When in flight he made for Flushing on board the Endeavour, the other passengers, who knew not his name, straightway christened him 'the gentleman.' The enterprise itself would have been impossible to one less persuasively gifted, and its proper execution is a tribute to the lofty quality of his mind. There was he in London, a stranger and a fugitive; yet instead of crawling furtively into a coal-barge he charters a ship, captures the confidence of the captain, carries the other passengers to Flushing, when they were bound for Leith, and compels every one to confess his charm! The thief, also, found him irresistible; and while the game lasted, the flash kens of Edinburgh murmured the Deacon's name in the hushed whisper of respect.

His fine temperament disarmed treachery. In London he visited an ancient doxy of his own, who, with her bully, shielded him from justice, though betrayal would have met with an ample reward. Smith, if he knew himself the superior craftsman, trembled at the Deacon's nod, who thus swaggered it through life, with none to withhold the exacted reverence. To this same personal compulsion he owed his worldly advancement. Deacon of the Wrights' Guild while still a young man, he served upon the Council, was known for one of Edinburgh's honoured citizens, and never went abroad unmarked by the finger of respectful envy. He was elected in 1773 a member of the Cape Club, and met at the Isle of Man Arms in Craig's Close the wittiest men of his time and town. Raeburn, Runciman, and Ferguson the poet were of the society, and it was with such as these that Brodie might have wasted his vacant hour. Indeed, at the very moment that he was cracking cribs and shaking the ivories, he was a chosen leader of fashion and gaiety; and it was the elegance of the 'gentleman' that distinguished him from his fellows.

The fop, indeed, had climbed the altitudes of life; the cracksman still stumbled in the valleys. If he had a ready cunning in the planning of an enterprise, he must needs bungle at the execution; and had he not been associated with George Smith, a king of scoundrels, there would be few exploits to record. And yet for the craft of housebreaker he had one solid advantage: he knew the locks and bolts of Edinburgh as he knew his primer--for had he not fashioned the most of them himself? But, his knowledge once imparted to his accomplices, he cheerfully sank to a menial's office. In no job did he play a principal's part: he was merely told off by Smith or another to guard the entrance and sound the alarm. When M'Kain's on the Bridge was broken, the Deacon found the false keys; it was Smith who carried off such poor booty as was found. And though the master suggested the attack upon Bruce's shop, knowing full well the simplicity of the lock, he lingered at the Vintner's over a game of hazard, and let the man pouch a sumptuous booty.

Even the onslaught upon the Excise Office, which cost his life, was contrived with appalling clumsiness. The Deacon of the Wrights' Guild, who could slash wood at his will, who knew the artifice of every lock in the city, let his men go to work with no better implements than the stolen coulter of a plough and a pair of spurs. And when they tackled the ill omened job, Brodie was of those who brought failure upon it. Long had they watched the door of the Excise; long had they studied the habits of its clerks; so that they went to work in no vain spirit of experiment. Nor on the fatal night did they force an entrance until they had dogged the porter to his home. Smith and Brown ransacked the place for money, while Brodie and Andrew Ainslie remained without to give a necessary warning. Whereupon Ainslie was seized with fright, and Brodie, losing his head, called off the others, so that six hundred pounds were left, that might have been an easy prey. Smith, indignant at the collapse of the long-pondered design, laid the blame upon his master, and they swung, as Brodie's grim spirit of farce suggested, for four pounds apiece.

The humours of the situation were all the Deacon's own. He dressed the part in black; his respectability grinned behind a vizard; and all the while he trifled nonchalantly with a pistol. Breaking the silence with snatches from The Beggar's Opera, he promised that all their lead should turn to gold, christened the coulter and the crow the Great and Little Samuel, and then went off to drink and dice at the Vintner's. How could anger prevail against this undying gaiety? And if Smith were peevish at failure, he was presently reconciled, and prepared once more to die for his Deacon.

Even after escape, the amateur is still apparent. True, he managed the trip to Flushing with his ancient extravagance; true, he employed all the juggleries of the law to prevent his surrender at Amsterdam. But he knew not the caution of the born criminal, and he was run to earth, because he would still write to his friends like a gentleman. His letters, during this nightmare of disaster, are perfect in their carelessness and good-fellowship. In this he demands news of his children, as becomes a father and a citizen, and furnishes a schedule of their education; in that he is curious concerning the issue of a main, and would know whether his black cock came off triumphant. Nor, even in flight, did he forget his proper craft, but would have his tools sent to Charleston, that in America he might resume the trade that had made him Deacon.

But his was the art of conduct, not of guile, and he deserved capture for his rare indifference. Why, then, with no natural impulsion, did he risk the gallows? Why, being no born thief, and innocent of the thief's cunning, did he associate with so clever a scoundrel as George Smith, with cowards craven as Brown and Ainslie? The greed of gold, doubtless, half persuaded him, but gold was otherwise attainable, and the motive was assuredly far more subtle. Brodie, in fact, was of a romantic turn. He was, so to say, a glorified schoolboy, surfeited with penny dreadfuls. He loved above all things to patter the flash, to dream himself another Macheath, to trick himself out with all the trappings of a crime he was unfit to commit. It was never the job itself that attracted him: he would always rather throw the dice than force a neighbour's window. But he must needs have a distraction from the respectability of his life. Everybody was at his feet; he was Deacon of his Guild, at an age whereat his fellows were striving to earn a reputable living; his masterpieces were fashioned, and the wrights' trade was already a burden. To go upon the cross seemed a dream of freedom, until he snapped his fingers at the world, filled his mouth with slang, prepared his alibi, and furnished him a whole wardrobe of disguises.

With a conscious irony, maybe, he buried his pistols beneath the domestic hearth, jammed his dark lantern into the press, where he kept his game-cocks, and determined to make an inextricable jumble of his career. Drink is sometimes a sufficient reaction against the orderliness of a successful life.

But drink and cards failed with the Deacon, and at the Vintner's of his frequentation he encountered accomplices proper for his schemes. Never was so outrageous a protest offered against domesticity. Yet Brodie's resolution was romantic after its fashion, and was far more respectable than the blackguardism of the French Revolution, which distracted housewifely discontent a year after the Deacon swung. Moreover, it gave occasion for his dandyism and his love of display. If in one incarnation he was the complete gentleman, in another he dressed the part of the perfect scoundrel, and the list of his costumes would have filled one of his own ledgers.

But, when once the possibility of housebreaking was taken from him, he returned to his familiar dignity. Being questioned by the Procurator Fiscal, he shrugged his shoulders, regretting that other affairs demanded his attention. As who should say: it is unpardonable to disturb the meditations of a gentleman. He made a will bequeathing his knowledge of law to the magistrates of Edinburgh, his dexterity in cards and dice to Hamilton the chimney-sweeper, and all his bad qualities to his good friends and old companions, Brown and Ainslie, not doubting, however, that their own will secure them 'a rope at last.' In prison it was his worst complaint that, though the nails of his toes and fingers were not quite so long as Nebuchadnezzar's, they were long enough for a mandarin, and much longer than he found convenient. Thus he preserved an untroubled demeanour until the day of his death. Always polite, and even joyous, he met the smallest indulgence with enthusiasm. When Smith complained that a respite of six weeks was of small account, Brodie exclaimed, 'George, what would you and I give for six weeks longer? Six weeks would be an age to us.'

The day of execution was the day of his supreme triumph. As some men are artists in their lives, so the Deacon was an artist in his death. Nothing became him so well as his manner of leaving the world. There is never a blot upon this exquisite performance. It is superb, impeccable! Again his dandyism supported him, and he played the part of a dying man in a full suit of black, his hair, as always, dressed and powdered. The day before he had been jovial and sparkling. He had chanted all his flash songs, and cracked the jokes of a man of fashion. But he set out for the gallows with a firm step and a rigorous demeanour. He offered a prayer of his own composing, and 'O Lord,' he said, 'I lament that I know so little of Thee.' The patronage and the confession are alike characteristic. As he drew near the scaffold, the model of which he had given to his native city a few years since, he stepped with an agile briskness; he examined the halter, destined for his neck, with an impartial curiosity.

His last pleasantry was uttered as he ascended the table. 'George,' he muttered, 'you are first in hand,' and thereafter he took farewell of his friends. Only one word of petulance escaped his lips: when the halters were found too short, his contempt for slovenly workmanship urged him to protest, and to demand a punishment for the executioner. Again ascending the table, he assured himself against further mishap by arranging the rope with his own hands. Thus he was turned off in a brilliant assembly. The Provost and Magistrates, in respect for his dandyism, were resplendent in their robes of office, and though the crowd of spectators rivalled that which paid a tardy honour to Jonathan Wild, no one was hurt save the customary policeman. Such was the dignified end of a 'double life.' And the duplicity is the stranger, because the real Deacon was not Brodie the Cracksman, but Brodie the Gentleman. So lightly did he esteem life that he tossed it from him in a careless impulse. So little did he fear death that, 'What is hanging?' he asked. 'A leap in the dark.'

II--Charles Peace

CHARLES PEACE, after the habit of his kind, was born of scrupulously honest parents. The son of a religious file-maker, he owed to his father not only his singular piety but his love of edged tools. As he never encountered an iron bar whose scission baffled him, so there never was a fire-eating Methodist to whose ministrations he would not turn a repentant ear. After a handy portico and a rich booty he loved nothing so well as a soul-stirring discourse. Not even his precious fiddle occupied a larger space in his heart than that devotion which the ignorant have termed hypocrisy. Wherefore his career was no less suitable to his ambition than his inglorious end. For he lived the king of housebreakers, and he died a warning to all evildoers, with a prayer of intercession trembling upon his lips.

The hero's boyhood is wrapped in obscurity. It is certain that no glittering precocity brought disappointment to his maturer years, and he was already nineteen when he achieved his first imprisonment. Even then 'twas a sorry offence, which merited no more than a month, so that he returned to freedom and his fiddle with his character unbesmirched. Serious as ever in pious exercises, he gained a scanty living as strolling musician. There was never a tavern in Sheffield where the twang of his violin was unheard, and the skill wherewith he extorted music from a single string earned him the style and title of the modern Paganini. But such an employ was too mean for his pride, and he soon got to work again--this time with a better success. The mansions of Sheffield were his early prey, and a rich plunder rewarded his intrepidity. The design was as masterly as its accomplishment. The grand style is already discernible. The houses were broken in quietude and good order. None saw the opened window; none heard the step upon the stair; in truth, the victim's loss was his first intelligence.

But when the booty was in the robber's own safe keeping, the empiricism of his method was revealed. As yet he knew no secret and efficient fence to shield him from detection; as yet he had not learnt that the complete burglar works alone. This time he knew two accomplices--women both, and one his own sister! A paltry pair of boots was the clue of discovery, and a goodly stretch was the proper reward of a clumsy indiscretion. So for twenty years he wavered between the crowbar and the prison house, now perfecting a brilliant scheme, now captured through recklessness or drink. Once when a mistake at Manchester sent him to the Hulks, he owned his failure was the fruit of brandy, and after his wont delivered (from the dock) a little homily upon the benefit of sobriety.

Meanwhile his art was growing to perfection. He had at last discovered that a burglary demands as diligent a forethought as a campaign; he had learnt that no great work is achieved by a multitude of minds. Before his boat carried off a goodly parcel of silk from Nottingham, he was known to the neighbourhood as an enthusiastic and skilful angler. One day he dangled his line, the next he sat peacefully at the same employ; and none suspected that the mild mannered fisherman had under the cloud of night despatched a costly parcel to London. Even the years of imprisonment were not ill-spent. Peace was still preparing the great achievement of his life, and he framed from solitary reflection as well as from his colleagues in crime many an ingenious theory afterwards fearlessly translated into practice. And when at last he escaped the slavery of the gaol, picture-framing was the pursuit which covered the sterner business of his life. His depredation involved him in no suspicion; his changing features rendered recognition impossible. When the exercise of his trade compelled him to shoot a policeman at Whalley Range, another was sentenced for the crime; and had he not encountered Mrs. Dyson, who knows but he might have practised his art in prosperous obscurity until claimed by a coward's death? But a stormy love-passage with Mrs. Dyson led to the unworthy killing of the woman's husband--a crime unnecessary and in no sense consonant to the burglar's craft; and Charles Peace was an outlaw, with a reward set upon his head.

And now came a period of true splendour. Like Fielding, like Cervantes, like Sterne, Peace reserved his veritable masterpiece for the certainty of middle-life. His last two years were nothing less than a march of triumph. If you remember his constant danger, you will realise the grandeur of the scheme. From the moment that Peace left Bannercross with Dyson's blood upon his hands, he was a hunted man. His capture was worth five hundred pounds; his features were familiar to a hundred hungry detectives. Had he been less than a man of genius, he might have taken an unavailing refuge in flight or concealment. But, content with no safety unattended by affluence, he devised a surer plan: he became a householder. Now, a semi-detached villa is an impregnable stronghold. Respectability oozes from the dusky mortar of its bricks, and escapes in clouds of smoke from its soot-grimed chimneys. No policeman ever detects a desperate ruffian in a demure black-coated gentleman who day after day turns an iron gate upon its rusty hinge. And thus, wrapt in a cloak of suburban piety, Peace waged a pitiless and effective war upon his neighbours.

He pillaged Blackheath, Greenwich, Peckham, and many another home of honest worth, with a noiselessness and a precision that were the envy of the whole family. The unknown and intrepid burglar was a terror to all the clerkdom of the City, and though he was as secret and secluded as Peace, the two heroes were never identified. At the time of his true eminence he 'resided' in Evelina Road, Peckham, and none was more sensible than he how well the address became his provincial refinement. There he installed himself with his wife and Mrs. Thompson. His drawing-room suite was the envy of the neighbourhood; his pony-trap proclaimed him a man of substance; his gentle manners won the respect of all Peckham. Hither he would invite his friends to such entertainments as the suburb expected. His musical evenings were recorded in the local paper, while on Sundays he chanted the songs of Zion with a zeal which Clapham herself might envy.

The house in Evelina Road was no mere haunt of quiet gentility. It was chosen with admirable forethought and with a stern eye upon the necessities of business. Beyond the garden wall frowned a railway embankment, which enabled the cracksman to escape from his house without opening the front door. By the same embankment he might, if he chose, convey the trophies of the night's work; and what mattered it if the windows rattled to the passing train?

At least a cloud of suspicion was dispelled. Here he lived for two years, with naught to disturb his tranquillity save Mrs. Thompson's taste for drink. The hours of darkness were spent in laborious activity, the open day brought its own distractions. There was always Bow Street wherein to loaf, and the study of the criminal law lost none of its excitement from the reward offered outside for the bald-headed fanatic who sat placidly within. And the love of music was Peace's constant solace. Whatever treasures he might discard in a hurried flight, he never left a fiddle behind, and so vast became his pilfered collection that he had to borrow an empty room in a friend's house for its better disposal.

Moreover, he had a fervent pride in his craft; and you might deduce from his performance the whole theory and practice of burglary. He worked ever without accomplices. He knew neither the professional thief nor his lingo; and no association with gaol-birds involved him in the risk of treachery and betrayal. His single colleague was a friendly fence, and not even at the gallows' foot would he surrender the fence's name. His master quality was a constructive imagination. Accident never marred his design. He would visit the house of his breaking until he understood its ground-plan, and was familiar with its inhabitants. This demanded an amazing circumspection, but Peace was as stealthy as a cat, and he would keep silent vigil for hours rather than fail from an over keen anxiety. Having marked the place of his entry, and having chosen an appropriate hour, he would prevent the egress of his enemies by screwing up the doors.

He then secured the room wherein he worked, and the job finished, he slung himself into the night by the window, so that, ere an alarm could be raised, his pony-trap had carried the booty to Evelina Road.

Such was the outline of his plan; but, being no pedant, he varied it at will: nor was he likely to court defeat through lack of resource. Accomplished as he was in his proper business, he was equally alert to meet the accompanying risks. He had brought the art of cozening strange dogs to perfection; and for the exigence of escape, his physical equipment was complete. He would resist capture with unparalleled determination, and though he shuddered at the shedding of blood, he never hesitated when necessity bade him pull the trigger. Moreover, there was no space into which he would not squeeze his body, and the iron bars were not yet devised through which he could not make an exit. Once--it was at Nottingham--he was surprised by an inquisitive detective who demanded his name and trade. 'I am a hawker of spectacles,' replied Peace, 'and my licence is downstairs. Wait two minutes and I'll show it you.' The detective never saw him again. Six inches only separated the bars of the window, but Peace asked no more, and thus silently he won his freedom. True, his most daring feat--the leap from the train--resulted not in liberty, but in a broken head. But he essayed a task too high even for his endeavour, and, despite his manacles, at least he left his boot in the astonished warder's grip.

No less remarkable than his skill and daring were his means of evasion. Even without a formal disguise he could elude pursuit. At an instant's warning, his loose, plastic features would assume another shape; out shot his lower jaw, and, as if by magic, the blood flew into his face until you might take him for a mulatto. Or, if he chose, he would strap his arm to his side, and let the police be baffled by a wooden mechanism, decently finished with a hook. Thus he roamed London up and down unsuspected, and even after his last failure at Blackheath, none would have discovered Charles Peace in John Ward, the Single-Handed Burglar, had not woman's treachery prompted detection. Indeed, he was an epitome of his craft, the Complete Burglar made manifest.

Not only did he plan his victories with previous ingenuity, but he sacrificed to his success both taste and sentiment. His dress was always of the most sombre; his only wear was the decent black of everyday godliness. The least spice of dandyism might have distinguished him from his fellows, and Peace's whole vanity lay in his craft. Nor did the paltry sentiment of friendship deter him from his just course. When the panic aroused by the silent burglar was uncontrolled, a neighbour consulted Peace concerning the safety of his house. The robber, having duly noted the villa's imperfections, and having discovered the hiding-place of jewellery and plate, complacently rifled it the next night. Though his self-esteem sustained a shock, though henceforth his friend thought meanly of his judgment, he was rewarded with the solid pudding of plunder, and the world whispered of the mysterious marauder with a yet colder horror. In truth, the large simplicity and solitude of his style sets him among the Classics, and though others have surpassed him at single points of the game, he practised the art with such universal breadth and courage as were then a revolution, and are still unsurpassed.

But the burglar ever fights an unequal battle. One false step, and defeat o'erwhelms him. For two years had John Ward intimidated the middle-class seclusion of South London; for two years had he hidden from a curious world the ugly, furrowed visage of Charles Peace. The bald head, the broad-rimmed spectacles, the squat, thick figure--he stood but five feet four in his stockings, and adds yet another to the list of little-great men--should have ensured detection, but the quick change and the persuasive gesture were omnipotent, and until the autumn of 1878 Peace was comfortably at large. And then an encounter at Blackheath put him within the clutch of justice. His revolver failed in its duty, and, valiant as he was, at last he met his match. In prison he was alternately insolent and aggrieved. He blustered for justice, proclaimed himself the victim of sudden temptation, and insisted that his intention had been ever innocent.

But, none the less, he was sentenced to a lifer, and, the mask of John Ward being torn from him, he was sent to Sheffield to stand his trial as Charles Peace. The leap from the train is already recorded; and at his last appearance in the dock he rolled upon the floor, a petulant and broken man. When once the last doom was pronounced, he forgot both fiddle and crowbar; he surrendered himself to those exercises of piety from which he had never wavered. The foolish have denounced him for a hypocrite, not knowing that the artist may have a life apart from his art, and that to Peace religion was an essential pursuit. So he died, having released from an unjust sentence the poor wretch who at Whalley Range had suffered for his crime, and offering up a consolatory prayer for all mankind. In truth, there was no enemy for whom he did not intercede. He prayed for his gaolers, for his executioner, for the Ordinary, for his wife, for Mrs. Thompson, his drunken doxy, and he went to his death with the sure step of one who, having done his duty, is reconciled with the world. The mob testified its affectionate admiration by dubbing him 'Charley,' and remembered with effusion his last grim pleasantry. 'What is the scaffold?' he asked with sublime earnestness. And the answer came quick and sanctimonious: 'A short cut to Heaven!'

III--Deacon Brodie and Charles Peace--A Parallel

NOT a parallel, but a contrast, since at all points Peace is Brodie's antithesis. The one is the austerest of Classics, caring only for the ultimate perfection of his work. The other is the gayest of Romantics, happiest when by the way he produces a glittering effect, or dazzles the ear by a vain impertinence. Now, it is by thievery that Peace reached magnificence. A natural aptitude drove him from the fiddle to the centre-bit. He did but rob, because genius followed the impulse. He had studied the remotest details of his business; he was sternly professional in the conduct of his life, and, as became an old gaol-bird, there was no antic of the policeman wherewith he was not familiar. Moreover, not only had he reduced house-breaking to a science, but, being ostensibly nothing better than a picture-frame maker, he had invented an incomparable set of tools wherewith to enter and evade his neighbour's house. Brodie, on the other hand, was a thief for distraction. His method was as slovenly as ignorance could make it. Though by trade a wright, and therefore a master of all the arts of joinery, he was so deficient in seriousness that he stole a coulter wherewith to batter the walls of the Excise Office. While Peace fought the battle in solitude, Brodie was not only attended by a gang, but listened to the command of his subordinates, and was never permitted to perform a more intricate duty than the sounding of the alarm. And yet here is the ironical contrast. Peace, the professional thief, despised his brothers, and was never heard to patter a word of flash. Brodie, the amateur, courted the society of all cross coves, and would rather express himself in Pedlar's French than in his choicest Scots. While the Englishman scraped Tate and Brady from a one-stringed fiddle, the Scot limped a chaunt from The Beggar's Opera, and thought himself a devil of a fellow. The one was a man about town masquerading as a thief; the other the most serious among housebreakers, singing psalms in all good faith.

But if Peace was incomparably the better craftsman, Brodie was the prettier gentleman. Peace would not have permitted Brodie to drive his pony-trap the length of Evelina Road. But Brodie, in revenge, would have cut Peace had he met him in the Corn-market. The one was a sombre savage, the other a jovial comrade, and it was a witty freak of fortune that impelled both to follow the same trade. And thus you arrive at another point of difference. The Englishman had no intelligence of life's amenity. He knew naught of costume: clothes were the limit of his ambition. Dressed always for work, he was like the caterpillar which assumes the green of the leaf, wherein it hides: he wore only such duds as should attract the smallest notice, and separate him as far as might be from his business. But the Scot was as fine a dandy as ever took (haphazard) to the cracking of kens. If his refinement permitted no excess of splendour, he went ever gloriously and appropriately apparelled. He was well-mannered, cultured, with scarce a touch of provincialism to mar his gay demeanour: whereas Peace knew little enough outside the practice of burglary, and the proper handling of the revolver.

Our Charles, for example, could neither spell nor write; he dissembled his low origin with the utmost difficulty, and at the best was plastered over (when not at work) with the parochialism of the suburbs. So far the contrast is complete; and even in their similarities there is an evident difference. Each led a double life; but while Brodie was most himself among his own kind, the real Peace was to be found not fiddle-scraping in Evelina Road but marking down policemen in the dusky byways of Blackheath. Brodie's grandeur was natural to him; Peace's respectability, so far as it transcended the man's origin, was a cloak of villainy.

Each, again, was an inventor, and while the more innocent Brodie designed a gallows, the more hardened Peace would have gained notoriety by the raising of wrecks and the patronage of Mr. Plimsoll. And since both preserved a certain courage to the end, since both died on the scaffold as becomes a man, the contrast is once more characteristic. Brodie's cynicism is a fine foil to the piety of Peace; and while each end was natural after its own fashion, there is none who will deny to the Scot the finer sense of fitness. Nor did any step in their career explain more clearly the difference in their temperament than their definitions of the gallows. For Peace it is 'a short cut to Heaven'; for Brodie it is 'a leap in the dark.' Again the Scot has the advantage. Again you reflect that, if Peace is the most accomplished Classic among the housebreakers, the Deacon is the merriest companion who ever climbed the gallows by the shoulders of the incomparable Macheath.

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