Confessions, & Reffections
WILLIAM BURKE, late of Portsburgh, who is to
be Executed at Edinburgh, on the 28th January,
1829, for Murder, and his body given for Public
[The writer of the following Lines, at the solitary hour of
one o'clock the other morning, took walk to the Calton Hill,
and laid himself down on the south side, opposite the Jail,
rolled up in his mautle, reflecting on the vicissitudes of life,
and on the scene before him, when be heard, or imagined he
heard, the tollewing Effusions from the cell of the wretched
" Good people all, both great and small,
I pray you lead an ear,
Unto these lines that I have penn'd,
Which quickly you shall hear.
O, if my days were to begin,
I to the world would show,
That I would shun the paths of sin,
Wherein destroyers go.
But ah ! these days are past and gone,
In fetters here I lie,
Confined in a dungeon strong,
By men condemned to die.
Because God's law I did transgress,
And would not walk therein,
But fled the paths of righteousness,
And trod the paths of sin.
These shocking murders harrass my soul,
Which cruelly I've committed,
For paltry gain, which ne'er lasts long,
With those who basely get it.
When first I began this wild career,
'Twas with the old pensioner,
Who died a natural death last year,
But did not obtain a sepulchre.
The body we brought to Surgeons Square
Soon got a ready market for't,
And encourag'd thus to bring some more,
The rest soon followed after it.
Four were chok'd in Broggan s house,
Though Broggan did not know,
And four were murder'd in my house,
Which caused my overthrow.
Six victims more in Hare's house,
Were suffocated too ;
Besides two other victims in his stable,
Which I most sincerely rue.
My sentence, therefore, must be just,
For God's commandment says,
He that sheddeth another's blood,
His blood must it appease.
O, therefore, holy son of God,
Do thou my soul relieve,
From God's wrath and afflicting rod,
That now my soul doth grieve ;
On thy redemption I depend,
O, cast me not away ;
But shield my soul, and me defend
Against the evil day.
PRICE ONE PENNY.
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Probable date published:
1829 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(030)
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