Filch. When a gentleman is long kept in suspense, penitence may break his spirit ever after. Besides, certainty gives a man a good air upon his trial, and makes him risk another without fear or scruple. But I’ll away; for ’tis a pleasure to be the messenger of comfort to friends in affliction.


Peach. But ’tis now high time to look about me for a decent execution against next sessions. I hate a lazy rogue, by whom one can get nothing till he is hanged. [Reading.] ‘A Register of the Gang.’ ‘Crook- fingered Jack, a year and a half in the service.’ Let me see how much the stock owes to his industry. One, two, three, four, five gold watches, and seven silver ones. A mighty clean-handed fellow! Sixteen snuff-boxes, five of them of true gold; six dozen of handkerchiefs, four silver-hilted swords, half a dozen of shirts, three tie-periwigs, and a piece of broadcloth. Considering these are only the fruits of his leisure hours, I don’t know a prettier fellow; for no man alive hath a more engaging presence of mind upon the road. ‘Wat Dreary, alias Brown Will.’ An irregular dog! who hath an underhand way of disposing his goods. I’ll try him only for a sessions or two longer upon his good behaviour. ‘Harry Paddington.’ A poor petty-larceny rascal, without the least genius! That fellow, though he were to live these six months, will never come to the gallows with any credit! ‘Slippery Sam.’ He goes off the next sessions; for the villain hath the impudence to have views of following his trade as a tailor, which he calls an honest employment. ‘Mat of the Mint.’ Listed not above a month ago; a promising sturdy fellow, and diligent in his way. Somewhat too bold and hasty, and may raise good contributions on the public, if he does not cut himself short by murder. ‘Tom Tipple.’ A guzzling, soaking sot, who is always too drunk to stand himself, or to make others stand! A cart is absolutely necessary for him. ‘Robin of Bagshot, alias Gorgon, alias Bluff Bob, alias Carbuncle, alias Bob Booty—’

Enter Mrs. Peachum

Mrs. Peach. What of Bob Booty, husband? I hope nothing bad hath betided him? You know, my dear, he’s a favourite customer of mine. ’Twas he made me a present of this ring.

Peach. I have set his name down in the black-list. That’s all, my dear. He spends his life among women and as soon as his money is gone, one or other of the ladies will hang him for the reward; and there’s forty pound lost to us for ever!

Mrs. Peach. You know, my dear, I never meddle in matters of death; I always leave those affairs to you. Women, indeed, are bitter bad judges in these cases; for they are so partial to the brave that they think every man handsome who is going to the camp or the gallows.

Air.—Cold and raw, etc.

If any wench Venus’s girdle wear,
   Though she be never so ugly,
Lilies and roses will quickly appear,
   And her face look wondrous smugly.
Beneath the left ear so fit but a cord
   (A rope so charming a zone is!),
The youth in his cart hath the air of a lord,
   And we cry, There dies an Adonis!
But really, husband, you should not be too hard-hearted; for you never had a finer, braver set of men than at present. We have not had a murder among them all these seven months; and, truly, my dear, that is a great blessing.

Peach. What a dickens is the woman always awhimpering about murder for? No gentleman is ever looked upon the worse for killing a man in his own defence; and if business cannot be carried on without it, what would you have a gentleman do?

Mrs. Peach. If I am in the wrong, my dear, you must excuse me; for nobody can help the frailty of an over-scrupulous conscience.

Peach. Murder is as fashionable a crime as a man can be guilty of. How many fine gentlemen have we in Newgate every year, purely upon that article! If they have wherewithal to persuade the jury to

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