The ballad begins: 'Good people all give ear to what I say, / 'Twill make your very blood run cold, / And fill you with dread dismay, / When the truth to you I've told.' This broadside was priced at one penny. The sheet has had two related articles pasted to it. One is an advertisement for a full report of the trial of William Burke and Helen McDougal, for the murder of Margery Campbell. The other is a short report from the Edinburgh Evening Post claiming that 'investigation into the late criminal transactions has been renewed'.
The writer of this ballad has tried to imagine the sort of nightmares that might have haunted Hare in the aftermath of his crimes. Vivid images, of Hare imagining the flesh falling off one if his victims, or of another vctim appearing to him as an angel, contribute to a poem that depicts Hare as a man who will be constantly tormented by his deeds until his death and inevitable damnation. This is just one of many broadsides that were produced in reaction to the case of Burke and Hare.
Burke and Hare were Irish bodysnatchers and murderers, who worked around Edinburgh's Canongate area, eventually becoming local legends. They hit upon the idea of murdering solitary or vulnerable people (in an attempt not to get caught) so that they could sell the bodies for dissection. Hare turned King's Evidence and so was acquitted, but this secured the conviction of Burke, who was hanged on the 28th January 1829.
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Probable date published:
1829 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(020)
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