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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley

Illustration THURTELL MURDERING MR


"All you that have got feeling hearts, I pray you now attend To these few lines so sad and true, a solemn silence lend; It is of a cruel murder, to you I will unfold---- The bare recital of the tale must make your blood run cold."

Or take another and stereotyped example, which from time to time has served equally well for the verses _written by_ the culprit--Brown, Jones, Robinson, or Smith:

"Those deeds I mournfully repent, But now it is too late, The day is past, the die is cast, And fixed is my fate.

Occasionally the Last Sorrowful Lamentations contained a "Love Letter"--the criminal being unable, in some instances, to read or write, being no obstacle to the composition--written according to the street patterer's statement: "from the depths of the condemned cell, with the condemned pen, ink, and paper." This mode of procedure in "gallows" literature, and this style of composition having prevailed for from sixty to seventy years.

Then they would say: "Here you have also an exact likeness of the murderer, taken at the bar of the Old Bailey by an eminent artist!" when all the time it was an old woodcut that had been used for every criminal for many years.

"There's nothing beats a stunning good murder after all," said a "running patterer" to Mr. Henry Mayhew, the author of "London Labour

and London Poor." It is only fair to assume that Mr. James Catnach shared in the sentiment, for it is said that he made over L500 by the publication of:--

"The Full, True and Particular Account of the Murder of Mr. Weare by John Thurtell and his Companions, which took place on the 24th of October, 1823, in Gill's Hill-lane, near Elstree, in Hertfordshire:--Only One Penny." There were eight formes set up, for old Jemmy had no notion of stereotyping in those days, and pressmen had to re-cover their own sheep-skins. But by working night and day for a week they managed to get off about 250,000 copies with the four presses, each working two formes at a time.

As the trial progressed, and the case became more fully developed, the public mind became almost insatiable. Every night and morning large bundles were despatched to the principal towns in the three kingdoms.

One of the many street-ballads on the subject informed the British public that:--

"Thurtell, Hunt, and Probert, too, for trial must now prepare, For that horrid murder of Mr. William Weare."

[Illustration: THURTELL MURDERING MR. WEARE.]

In connection with the murder of Mr. Weare by Thurtell and Co., Sir Walter Scott, collected the printed trials with great assiduity, and took care always to have to hand the contemporary ballads and prints bound up with them. He admired particularly this verse of Theodore Hook's[13] broadside:--

"They cut his throat from ear to ear, His brains they battered in; His name was Mr. William Weare, He dwelt in Lyon's Inn."

THE CONFESSION AND EXECUTION OF JOHN THURTELL AT HERTFORD GAOL, On Friday, the 9th of January, 1824.


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