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Poem by John Gay
Newgate’s Garland: Being a New Ballad
Shewing how Mr. Jonathan Wild’s 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 Jonathan’s Throat was cut from Ear to Ear; How Blueskin’s 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 Jonathan’s 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 King’s 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 Blueskin’s 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, Call’d Briberies Grants, and plain Robberies Pensions; Physicians and Lawyers (who take their Degrees To be Learned Rogues) call’d their Pilfering, Fees; Since this happy Day, Now ev’ry Man may Rob (as safe as in Office) upon the Highway. For Blueskin’s 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 Jonathan’s cold. For Blueskin’s sharp Penknife hath set you at Ease, And every man round me may rob, if he please. Some by publick Revenues, which pass’d through their Hands, Have purchas’d 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 Assign’d 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 Precedent’s 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 Blueskin’s sharp Penknife hath set thee at Ease, And every Man round me may rob, if he please.
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