Cony-Catching - The Discovery of the lifting Law.

The Discovery of the lifting Law.

            The lift, is he that stealeth or prowleth any plate, jewels, bolts of satin, velvet, or such parcels from any place by a sleight conveyance under his cloak, or so secretly that it may not be espied: of lifts there be divers kinds as their natures be different, some base rogues that lift when they come into alehouses quart pots, platters, cloaks, swords, or any such paltry trash which commonly is called pilfering or petty-larceny, for under the colour of spending two or three pots of ale, they lift away anything that cometh within the compass of their reach, having a fine & nimble agility of the hand as the foist had: these are the common and rascal sorts of lifts, but the higher degrees and gentlemen lifts have to the performance of their faculty three parties of necessity: the Lift, the Marker and the Santar: the lift attired in the form of a civil country gentleman, comes with the marker into some mercer's shop, haberdasher's, goldsmith's, or any such place where any particular parcels of worth are to be conveyed, and there he calls to see a bolt of satin, velvet or any such commodity, and not liking the pile, colour or brack, he calls for more, and the whiles he begins to resolve which of them most fitly may be lifted, and what garbage (for so he calls the goods stolen) may be most easily conveyed, then he calls to the mercer's man and says, sirrah reach me that piece of velvet or satin, or that jewel, chain or piece of plate, and whilst the fellow turns his back, he commits his garbage to the marker: for note, the lift is without his cloak, in his doublet & hose to avoid the more suspicion: the marker which is the receiver of the lift's luggage, gives a wink to the santar that walks before the window and then the santar going by in great haste, the marker calls him & says, sir a word with you, I have a message to do unto you from a very friend of yours, and the errand is of some importance, truly sir says the santar I have very urgent business in hand and as at this time I cannot stay, but one word and no more says the marker, and then he delivers him whatsoever the lift hath conveyed unto him, and then the santar goes his way, who never came within the shop, and is a man unknown to them all: suppose he is smoked and his lifting is looked into, then are they upon their pantofles<40>, because there is nothing found about them: they defy the world for their honesty, because they be as dishonest as any in the world, and swear as God shall judge them they never saw the parcel lost, but oaths with them are like wind out of a bellows, which being cool kindleth fire: so their vows are without conscience and so they call for revenge: Therefore let this be a caveat to all occupations, sciences and mysteries, that they beware of the gentleman lift, and to have an eye to such as cheapen their wares and not when they call to see new stuff to leave the old behind them, for the fingers of lifts are formed of adamant, though they touch not yet they have virtue attractive to draw any pelf to them as the adamant doth the iron.

            But yet these lifts have a subtle shift to blind the world for this close kind of cozenage they have when they want money, one of them apparels himself like a country farmer, & with a memorandum drawn in some legal form, comes to the chamber of some counsellor or serjeant-at-law with his marker and his santar, and there tells the lawyer his case and desires his counsel, the whilst the marker and the santar lay the platform for any rapier, dagger, cloak, gown or any other parcel of worth that is in the withdrawing or outer chanber, and as soon as they have they go their way: then when the lawyer hath given his opinion of the case the lift requires, then he puts in some demur or blind, and says he will have his cause better discovered and then he will come to his worship again, so taking his leave without his ten shillings fee, he goes his ways to share what his companions had gotten: the like method they use with scriveners, for coming by the shop and seeing any garbage worth the lifting on, starteth in to have an obligation or bill made in haste, and while the scrivener is busy, the lift bringeth the marker to the blow, and so the luggage is carried away. Now, these lifts have their special receivers of their stolen goods, which are two sundry parties, either some notorious bawds in whose houses they lie, and they keep commonly tapping-houses and have young trugs in their house which are consorts to these lifts and love them so dear, that they never leave them till they come to the gallows, or else they be brokers, a kind of idle sort of livers as pernicious as the lift, for they receive at their hands whatsoever garbage is conveyed, be it linen, woollen, plate, jewels, and this they do by a bill of sale, making the bill in the name of John a Nokes or John a Styles, so that they shadow the lift & yet keep themselves without the danger of the law. Thus are these brokers and bawds as it were, efficient causes of the lifters' villainy, for were it not their alluring speeches and their secret concealings, the lift for want of receivers should be fain to take a new course of life, or else be continually driven into great extremes for selling his garbage, and thus much briefly for the nature of the lift.

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