Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blueskin

Newgate's Garland

I.


Ye gallants of Newgate, whose fingers are nice
In diving in pockets, or cogging of dice;
Ye sharpers so rich, who can buy off the noose,
Ye honester poor rogues, who die in your shoes,


Attend and draw near,
Good news ye shall hear,
How Jonathan's throat was cut from ear to ear,
How Blueskin's sharp penknife hath set you at ease,
And every man round me may rob, if he please.

II.


When to the Old Bailey this Blueskin was led,
He held up his hand: his indictment was read;
Loud rattled his chains ; near him Jonathan stood;
For full forty pounds was the price of his blood.
Then hopeless of life,
He drew his penknife,
And made a sad widow of Jonathan's wife.
But forty pounds paid her, her grief shall appease;
And every man round me may rob, if he please....
 
There is more to this ballad, which is taken from "The Works of Jonathan Swift: Miscellanies in prose", by Jonathan Swift, with a life of the author by Sir Walter Scott.  The ballad is not Scott's, but John Gay's.
 
Blueskin, or Joseph Blake, was a highwayman whose life caught up with himin October of 1724.  He was hanged on November 11, 1725 at Tyburn.

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