Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV

Search

228 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [West Port. had sent so many others ; and his skeleton now hangs in the Museum of the University. The Parliament Square rang with reiterated cheers as if thecity held jubilee, when sentence was pronounced; but the people were greatly dissatisfied with the verdict of ? not proven ?? in the case of M?Dougal ; and had Hare not effected his escape secretly by the mail home to Ireland, the people would infallibly have tom him limb from limb. In prison, and with death before him, Burke?s thoughts were ever recurring to earth. Once he was observed (says Alexander Leighton) to be silent and mediviously he had been unaccustomed to. The fact is,? continues the editor of the [email protected] JournaZ, ? that the wretch, when awake, by means of ardent spirits steeped his senses in forgetfulness. . . . At night he had short fits of sleep, during which he raved, but his expressions were inarticulate, and he ground his teeth in the most fearful manner.? In the morning he was removed to the Calton gaol, and secured by a chain to the massive iron gaud. On the 27th January he was unchained and conveyed to the lock-up in Liberton?s Wynd, at the heap of which the gallows was erected. He was THE GRASSMARKET IN 1646. (Afl~r Gwah ofRothicmay.) 15, The Horse Market Street ; Y, St. Mary Magdalen?s Chapel. tative, and a pious attendant took it as a sign of contrition ; but Burke said suddenly-? I think .I am entitled to and ought to get that five pounds from Dr. Knox, which is still unpaid, on the body of the woman Docherty.? ? Why,?<? replied the astonished pietist, ? Dr. Knox lost by the transaction, as the body was taken from him.? ?That was not my business,? said Burke ; ? I delivered the subject, and he ought to have kept it.? He confessed in the lock-up house that he ? had participated in many more murders than those he had been indicted for j and said that after his mind was composed he would make disclosures, which would implicate several others, besides Hare and his wife, in the same crimes for which he was doomed to die. He was asked how did he feel when pursuing his horrible avocation 7 He replied, that in his waking moments he had no feeling, but that when he slept he had frightfuldreams, whichpreattended by two Catholic priests and two Presby. tenan ministers, for his ideas of religion were some. what vague and cloudy. When his heavy fetters were removed and they fell with a clank on the floor, ? So may all earthly chains fall from me ! ? he exclaimed, but went to die evidently with the hopeless secret feeling ?that he was too deeply sunk in crime even to think of the infinite mercy of Heaven.? Yet was he eager to be dead, and ascended the scaffold with his eyes half closed, as if anxious to be beyond the roar of the vast assemblage that thronged the great thoroughfare far as the eye could reach, and filled every window, roof, and foot of vantage ground. The deep hoarse roar of- voices rose into a terrible and prolonged yell, on which he threw around him a fierce glance of desperate defiance and hatred ; and again rose the prolonged yell of disgust and halfglutted vengeance when, after hanging the usual time, the body was conveyed to the College.
Volume 4 Page 228
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
229 - West Port.] BURKE AND HARE. The sight of the execution instead of allaying the passions of the justly-excited people, inflamed them with a desire to drag his body out and tear it to pieces; but a grand public exhibition was arranged for the morrow, and the white, naked corpse, so loathed, was laid on the black narrow escape from an infuriated mob, according to the Weekly]ournaZ. ?In the den of murder occupied by Burke,? continues the paper, ?several objects strengthen the general persuasion that many other wretches had fallen a sacrifice under the same root The bloody straw in the corner, a BALLANTYNE?S CLOSE, GRASSMARKET, 1850. ( F m a JY Jfl chmw-.) marble table of the theatre, and displayed to thousands who streamed through the entire day. Burke was cut up and put in strong pickle and in small barrels for the dissecting-table, and part of his skin was tanned. The woman MkDougal after the execution had the daring effrontery to present herself in Tanner?s Close again; but the people of the Portsburgh rose, and she only found in the watch-house a heap of bloody clothes on the floor, and a pile of old boots and shoes, chiefly those of females, amounting to several dozens, for which the pretended trade of a shoemaker never can account, furnish ample food for suspicion ! The idea suggests itself that the clothes and shoes belonged to the unfortunate girls whom this monster decoyed to his house, intoxicated, and murdered, as he did the poor old wanderer. . . . The two
Volume 4 Page 229
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures