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Poem by John Gay


Newgates Garland: Being a New Ballad



Shewing how Mr. Jonathan Wilds Throat was cut from Ear to Ear 
with a Penknife, by Mr. Blake, alias Blueskin, the bold Highwayman, 
as he stood at his Tryal in the Old--Bailey. 1725.

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 Jonathans Throat was cut from Ear to Ear; 
How Blueskins sharp Penknife hath set you at Ease, 
And every Man round me may rob, if he please,

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 Jonathans Wife. 
But Forty Pounds paid her, her Grief shall appease, 
And every Man round me may rob, if he please.

Some say there are Courtiers of highest Renown, 
Who steal the Kings Gold, and leave him but a Crown; 
Some say there are Peers, and some Parliament Men, 
Who meet once a Year to rob Courtiers agen: 
         Let them all take their Swing, 
         To pillage the King, 
And get a Blue Ribbon instead of a String. 
Now Blueskins sharp Penknife hath set you at Ease, 
And every Man round me may rob, if he please.

Knaves of old, to hide Guilt by their cunning Inventions, 
Calld Briberies Grants, and plain Robberies Pensions; 
Physicians and Lawyers (who take their Degrees 
To be Learned Rogues) calld their Pilfering, Fees; 
         Since this happy Day, 
         Now evry Man may 
Rob (as safe as in Office) upon the Highway. 
For Blueskins sharp Penknife hath set you at Ease, 
And every Man round me may rob, if he please.

Some cheat in the Customs, some rob the Excise, 
But he who robs both is esteemed most wise. 
Church-Wardens, too prudent to hazard the Halter, 
As yet only venture to steal from the Altar: 
         But now to get Gold, 
         They may be more bold, 
And rob on the Highway, since Jonathans cold. 
For Blueskins sharp Penknife hath set you at Ease, 
And every man round me may rob, if he please.

Some by publick Revenues, which passd through their Hands, 
Have purchasd clean Houses, and bought dirty Lands, 
Some to steal from a Charity think it no Sin, 
Which, at Home (says the Proverb) does always begin; 
         But, if ever you be 
         Assignd a Trustee, 
Treat not Orphans like Masters of the Chancery. 
But take the Highway, and more honestly seise, 
For every Man round me may rob, if he please.]

What a Pother has here been with Wood and his Brass, 
Who would modestly make a few Half--pennies pass! 
The Patent is good, and the Precedents old. 
For Diomede changed his Copper for Gold: 
         But if Ireland despise 
         Thy new Half-pennies, 
With more Safety to rob on the Road I advise. 
For Blueskins sharp Penknife hath set thee at Ease, 
And every Man round me may rob, if he please.



John Gay


John Gay's other poems:
  1. Prediction
  2. Revenge: or Fartherly Kindness
  3. To My Chair
  4. Fable
  5. To a Lady on Her Passion for Old China


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