Mudcat Café message #3026264 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17805   Message #3026264
Posted By: Jim Dixon
07-Nov-10 - 08:08 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Burke and Hare (ballads about)
Subject: Lyr Add: POOR DAFT JAMIE (J. B.)
From Songs and Ballads of Clydesdale By A. Nimmo (Edinburgh and Glasgow: John Menzies & Co., 1882), page 229:


POOR DAFT JAMIE.
Written By J. B.

Attendance give whilst I relate
How poor daft Jamie met his fate;
'Twill make your hair stand on your head
As I unfold the horrid deed.

That hellish monster, William Burke,
Like Reynard, sneaking on the lurk,
Coyducked his prey into his den,
And then the woeful work began.

"Come, Jamie, drink a glass wi' me,
And I'll gang wi' ye in a wee,
To seek your mother i' the town—
Come, drink, man, drink, and sit ye down."

"Na, na! I'll no drink wi' thee the noo,
For if I do 'twill mak' me fou."
"Tuts man! a wee, wee drap will do you guid.
'Twill cheer your heart and warm your bluid."

At last he took the fatal glass,
Not dreaming what would come to pass.
When once he drank he wanted more,
Till he fell drunk upon the floor.

Burke cast himself on Jamie's face,
And clasped him in his foul embrace;
But Jamie waking in surprise,
Writhed in an agony to rise.

At last, with nerves unstrung before,
He threw the villain on the floor;
And though alarmed, and weakened too,
He would have soon o'ercome the foe.

But help was near, for it Burke cried,
And soon his friend was at his side.
Hare tripped up Jamie's heels, and o'er
He fell, alas! to rise no more.

Now both these bloodhounds him engage
As hungry tigers filled with rage;
Nor did they handle axe or knife
To take away poor Jamie's life.

No sooner done, than in a chest
They crammed this lately welcomed guest
And bore him into Surgeons' Square—
A victim fresh, a subject rare!

And soon he's on the table laid,
Exposed to the dissecting blade,
But where his members now may lay
Is not for me, nor you, to say.

But this I'll say—"Some thoughts did rise;"
It filled the students with surprise
That so short time should intervene
Since Jamie on the streets was seen.

But though his body is destroyed,
His soul can never be decoyed
From that celestial state of rest
Where he, I trust, is with the blest.


Above is a copy of a broadside sung on the streets of Edinburgh after the execution of the murderer, Burke, and is a graphic account of the popular belief of the manner in which Daft Jamie was murdered. He was a poor harmless imbecile, well known on the streets of Edinburgh; usually bare-headed, bare-footed, and walked about with his hands clasped together, and may be said to have inaugurated the Beard Movement, for at that time, if not the only, he was almost the only person to be seen unshaven upon the streets. No case ever struck the public heart or imagination with greater horror than the West Port murders. The young women of Edinburgh, when they went out after sunset, kept their hands and aprons upon their mouths lest they should be suffocated with a plaster. Burke and Hare were well known at Carnwath, having on the previous harvest been employed at Carlindean. It was believed they murdered a poor hawker woman on that farm the night before they left; at any rate, she was never seen there again. It was only for one that Burke was executed, but the actual number perpetrated was confessed to be at least 16 murders! When he appeared on the scaffold in company with the hangman, he was saluted with a hurrah as loud as George IV received when he first alighted at Holyrood. I heard them both. "Choke him, Hangie! choke him!" was loudly and repeatedly vociferated.