The first ballad begins: 'Ye people of Scotland give ear to this sad tale, / It will make your hearts burn, and your faces turn pale, / Concerning a deed which has lately been done, / The like was ne'er heard of since the world began.'
The second ballad begins: 'A story, a story I'm going for to tell, / Concerning William Burke that now lies in jail, / A few verses of his cruelty I mean for to sing, / You know he committed the worst of all crimes.' Although there are no publication details included on this sheet, the subject matter suggests that it was almost certainly published in Edinburgh, in, or around, 1829.
The two ballads included on this broadside both refer to the terrible crimes carried out by William Burke and William Hare. The two bodysnatchers and murderers unleashed a reign of terror in Edinburgh in 1829, through their efforts to provide Edinburgh's cutting-edge medical schools with a conveyor-belt-like supply of fresh corpses. Illustrated with a woodcut of a man in a suitably penitent state, these ballads spare no detail in their graphic descriptions of the despicable crimes perpetrated by Burke and Hare.
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Probable date published:
1829 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(027)
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