Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/375

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either northward or westward, and was at length with difficulty secured after a desperate conflict in which one soldier was killed and several wounded.[339] The London Gazette announced that the famous highwayman had been taken, and invited all persons who had been robbed by him to repair to Newgate and to see whether they could identify him. To identify him should have been easy; for he had a wound in the face, and had lost a thumb.[340] He, however, in the hope of perplexing the witnesses for the Crown, expended a hundred pounds in procuring a sumptuous embroidered suit against the day of trial. This ingenious device was frustrated by his hardhearted keepers. He was put to the bar in his ordinary clothes, convicted and sentenced to death.[341] He had previously tried to ransom himself by offering to raise a fine troop of cavalry, all highwaymen, for service in Flanders; but his offer had been rejected.[342] He had one resource still left. He declared that he was privy to a treasonable plot. Some Jacobite lords had promised him immense rewards if he would, at the head of his gang, fall upon the King at a stag hunt in Windsor Forest. There was nothing intrinsically improbable in Whitney's story. Indeed a design very similar to that which he imputed to the malecontents was, only three years later, actually formed by some of them, and was all but carried into execution. But it was far better that a few bad men should go unpunished than that all honest men should live in fear of being falsely accused by felons sentenced to the gallows. Chief Justice Holt advised the King to let the law take its course. William, never much inclined to give credit to stories about conspiracies, assented. The Captain, as he was called, was hanged in Smithfield, and made a most penitent end.[343]

Meanwhile, in the midst of discontent, distress and disorder,