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times the metre is entirely changed, an expression only remaining the same here and there.
“The THREE BUTCHERS.
O hark, O hark,' says Johnson, 'I hear a woman cry.'
There has been ten swaggering blades, has hand and foot me bound, And stripped me stark naked, with my hair pinn'd on the ground.' Then Johnson being a valiant man, a man of courage bold, He took his coat from off his back, to keep her from the cold. As they rode over Northumberland, as hard as they could ride, She put her fingers in her ears, and dismally she cried ; Then up starts ten swaggering blades, with weapons in their hands, And riding up to Johnson, they bid him for to stand.
'It's I'll not stand,' says Ipson; then no indeed, not I.'
Nor I'll not stand,' says Gibson ; 'I'd sooner live than die.'
"Now I must fall,' says Johnson, 'I must fall unto the ground;
They whip-ped me, they strip-pèd me,
My hands and feet they bound,
With my apron to the ground.'
And the cold he did not mind;
To keep her from the wind.
So sharp of either hand,
And called on them to stand.
I'll stand as long as I can ;
Of any mortal man.'
And his bullets he let fly;
The tother runned away.
As vast as they could ride,
And ripped him in the side.
I falls unto the ground;
She's gi’n me my death-wound.'”. In coming to the purely modern ballad, we must give precedence to those which have to do with great crimes. They are by far the most numerous, and are bought with singular eagerness. There is no great criminal of any note in our day who has not been the subject of several ballads. And these are all of one character. They are almost always printed on a sheet to themselves. If the prisoner made a confession, it is given either at the head or foot of the sheet, but no other verses are printed on the same sheet; whereas in most other cases a song, or a second ballad, is stuck in the corner, to make up the money's worth. The family likeness, of which we have spoken already, will be plain at once to the reader from the selections we give from the first two or three which come to our hand.
“A new Song on the recent Poisoning-case with which William Palmer stands charged” begins :
“Come, all good people, pay attention
Unto these lines that I indite,
That will fill your mind with fright :
A poisoner, named William Palmer,
He so many deeds have done,
Many a mother for her son.
Great deeds by poison he contracted;
But whether they were great or small,
O God, thy vengeance on him fall !
They died almost in health and bloom;
Antimony was their doom.
Which in course of time we all shall see,
Of false friendship pray take care,
Known as the Rugeley poisoner.”
Our next extract shall be from “ The Esher Tragedy," a ballad published at Preston :
“You feeling Christians, give attention,
Young and old of each degree,
Join and sympathise with me:
I shall quickly let you hear,
On her six young children dear.” After the usual detailed description of the crime, interspersed with moral reflections, the ballad ends :
“Within the prison's massive walls
What anguish will torment her breast,
Will disturb her of her rest!
On record there is no worse,
Once the Prince of Wales's nurse."
“ Come, all young men, by me take warning,
To my decease an ear pray lend :
When on a tree my life must end ;
For murdering my fellow-creature,
I'm to the gallows doomed to go;
What a dreadful sight to see-
Doomed to die on Newgate tree.” Then comes the usual history. We quote a portion, which will remind readers of Hood's celebrated lines on Thurtell's murder:
“ His neck they cut from ear to ear,
His skull they battered in ;
He lived in Lion's Inn."
“ On the 20th day of last October,
About the hour of nine o'clock,
Where soon I caused a dreadful shock :
Where to gain some plunder I did hope ;
I slew the servant, Richard Cope.
I saw him weltering in his gore,
I saw him fall upon the floor, &c.
Three weeks in pain my victim lingered,
My heart was then more hard than steel,
I did not for his sufferings feel;
Though I so hardened did appear,
My conscience smote my breast with fear;
For you on earth there is no hope-
For murdering of Richard Cope.'
When I to the scaffold must be led,
In grief I droop my guilty head.
No sympathy for my sad fate;
I see my error now too late.”
These three ballads come not only from different publishers, but from distant towns,-London, Birmingham, and Preston, but they all have the same stamp. And the whole of the last dying speeches and confessions, trials and sentences, from whatever part of the country they come, run in the same form of quaint and circumstantial detail: appeals to Heaven, to young men, to young women, to Christians in general, and moral reflections. We have seldom met with one of a different character; and the ballads on “appalling accidents,” which are also very common, are like them. We give one specimen of these before quitting this part of our subject. The ballad on the “appalling accident at the Victoria Theatre" is headed with a list of killed and wounded. It begins:
“ On the twenty-seventh of December,
When every heart was light and gay,
Which did occur on Boxing-day.
Numbers there were wounded sore,
A moment previous all was gay
Where they'd gone on Boxing-day.
We cannot tell what is before us,
Like those who left their homes so gay,
To banish grief on Boxing-day.
Then trust in Him who reigns on high ;
Youth as well as age may die.”
In strange contrast to the monotonous morality of murderand-accident ballads stand out what, for want of a better name, we may distinguish as the Cadgers' ballads. They are not numerous, but form such a distinct class that we cannot pass them over, although, perhaps, the less said about them the better. One specimen shall suffice. When the St. Giles's rookery was pulled down, some years since, to make room for the New Oxford-Street improvements, the event seems to have happened which is commemorated in “ The Cadgers' Ball.” The intention of the Government as to their favourite haunt began to be known.
“As soon as it got vind, however,
Old St. Giles's vos to fall,
Tol lol, &c.