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GALLERY: Highwaymen

There were many famous victims of highwaymen. The Prime Minister Lord North wrote in 1774: "I was robbed last night as I expected, our loss was not great, but as the postillion did not stop immediately one of the two highwaymen fired at him – It was at the end of Gunnersbury Lane. " Horace Walpole, shot at in Hyde Park, wryly observed, "One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one was going to battle. " During this period, crime was rife and encounters with highwaymen could be bloody if the victim attempted to resist. The historian Roy Porter described the use of direct, physical action as a hallmark of public and political life: "From the rough-house of the crowd to the dragoons' musket volley, violence was as English as plum pudding. Force was used not just criminally, but as a matter of routine to achieve social and political goals, smudging hard-and-fast distinctions between the worlds of criminality and politics. . . Highwaymen were romanticized, with a hidden irony, as 'gentlemen of the road'. "

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