THE LAST SPEECH AND DYING WORDS OF JOHN
DALGLEISH, HANGMAN OF EDINBURGH.
[From Pennicuick's MSS. Advocate's Library.]
This production of Alexander Pennicuick possesses consider-
able humour. The author was a nephew of Dr. Pennycuick, the
representative of the old family of Pennycuick of that Ilk, who
was possessor of the estate of Newhall, in the county of Peebles,
and is well known as the historian of Tweedale. The Penny-
cuicks, like many other Scotch families, lived beyond their
means, and hence the old patrimony passed from them. It now
belongs to the Right Hon. Sir George Clerk, Baronet, whose
ancestor, a tradesman from Dundee, was the purchaser. Of this
last-named family came Baron Clerk of Pennycuick?the friend
and correspondent of James Anderson, the antiquary?whose
son, John, was the originator of the naval tactics, and the father
of these odd specimens of humanity, Lord Elden and William
Clerk, the principal clerk in the Jury Court.
QUHAN Hangie saw death drawing near,
The carle grew in ane unco fear;
He sigh't and he sob'd, and shade a tear
Said to his wyff,
" Sousie, I fynd I'm gaeing gear,
Frae this frail lyfe.
'' Now, Sue, I fynd my post decay,
And here I can nae langer stay
In this auld rotten lump of clay,
Sae fare you all;
I'le tell my sins, it's the best way
For a poor saul.
" First, I was a horse-couper bred,
And that's an unco cheating trade;
I'll tell you plainly what I did
To gaine the louer?
I ly'd ten hundred tymes for head
Ilk ae halfe houer.
" Quoth I, this pony's eight years auld,
And free of every croock or cauld,
He's cliver baith of heil and spauld,
Fitt for the wark,
Cost me, in readie monie tauld,
A hundreth merk.
" But now, with meikle sheam I tell,
The beast wes twyce as aud's mysell,
And stumbled every other ell,
Blind of his eyes ;
What's worst of all, whene'er he fell
He dought nae ryse.
" The next trade I took up, the ken,
Wes Deacon of the Watermen,
A trade worth any other ten
In our good toune,
Then I had peuter but and ben?
My pott plaid browne.
" Ay, quhan I into the kitchen came,
I pick'd up beeff and lumps of lamb,
And remnants of Westphalia halme,
Or apple tart;
Frae cummers sought the other drame
To chear my heart.
" The servants aye wer kynd to me,
Gifted me aye the kitchen-fee,
And candle-doups; I boar the gree
Fra a' the rest;
All wells I ended mony a plea,
w[ ] an contest.
" When water wives began a pother,
Cursing and cuffing one another,
Wi' heaps aboun them lyk to smother
All dirt and clay,
Dalgleish wes aye a kindly brither
To end the frey.
" I had aye money for to hen,
For every hunder pund took ten
Off yearly int'rest; and ye ken,
Through perfect greed,
Took up the trade of hanging men
For better bread.
" For greed o' gear I turned Jack Catch,
(For I'me ane avaricious wreatch,)
My daughter lost a daintie match
When I wes plac'd;
My sons lost lear?all fand a swatch,
And sair disgraced.
" Nae mair a fyne parad I'le maike,
In my bra livrie whyte and black,
Captaine and sogers att my back?
O I grew faine;
Nae mair folks necks in halters rack-
Alack I'm gaine!
" Ye'el never see poor Hangie maire,
Dryving the girls wi' shoulders bair;
I lasht them weall, and did nae spair
My ten taile catt;
To loss my post my heart's right sair,
I lived sae fatt.
" Whae in this town could tell my tale,?
I brew'd my ain strang nappie ale;
The fish-wives gae me right good seall;
Nae gadger fallows
Came near me, nor durst taik a peall,
Fear'd for the gallows.
" When ae the brewars wer rune drye,
And drinkers gae the drearie cry,
' What will we doe, throw drouth we'l dye,
They mynded me;
Came louping in, and few went by,
And blyth wer we.
" The kirk on Sunday wes nae thranger,
Quoth they, ' We cannot want ale langer,
Or else we'all hang oursells for anger,
Sae spayte your crafte;'
When spouse turn'd fee, my neves did bang her,
Which put her dafte.
" I'le crye as fu' o' tears an egg,
' Death, I've ae favour for to begg,
That ye wad only ge a flegg,
And spare my life,
As I did to ill hanged Megg,*
That graceless wife.'
" But O ! I find it's a' in vaine,
My head and heart and a's in pain;
I'le never see your face again?
I sink like lead;
Let every ane gae hang their ain,
For Hangie's dead."
* Half-hanged Maggie Dickson, who came alive after being
hanged. An old lady, the widow of George Imlach, W.S.
mentioned that her father, Mr. Cunningham, a most
respectable baker in Edinburgh, was present at the execution.
Maggie had contrived to get her hand between the cord and her
neck. Jock Dalgleish offered a reward to any person who would
lend him a stick with a cleek at the end of it, to pull out the
hand, but his offers were nugatory-not one of the numberless
spectators would accommodate him; and after hanging the usual
time the body was put in a cart to be delivered to her relations
in Musselburgh. The motion of the cart revived her. she
married, and died at Berwick many years after
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