David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Tyburn Jig

My brother was twelve years older so
I knew him not so well,
But heard of him in the taverns,
Getting drunk, and raising hell,
My mother said, ‘Keep away from him, ’
And I did, for many years,
But blood is blood, and a brother should
Help out, though it ends in tears.

He’d done a spot of embezzling,
He’d picked the pockets of Earls,
You never left him to tend a horse
And he wasn’t safe with girls,
But he was my brother Toby,
And I was his brother Tim,
I’d often find him beneath my bed
When he said, ‘Don’t let them in! ’

By ‘them’ he had meant the Runners
Who were active in the Bow,
And some of the old Thief-Takers
With their ruffians in tow,
They roamed the streets with their cudgels
And would lie, just out of sight,
Beyond the doors of the Taverns, when
They turned them adrift at night.

The streets were mean, and were far from clean
Where my brother used to roam,
Despite the pleas of our mother, who
Would beg him to come back home,
But father remained unbending, said
His eldest son was a swine,
‘His endless scrapes, a Jackanapes!
He is no son of mine! ’

I heard he’d taken a horse and fled
From a stables in the Strand,
‘There’s little that anyone now can do,
When they catch him, he’ll be hanged! ’
My mother, crying a flood of tears
As my father cursed and swore,
‘I’ll call the Runners, or I’ll be damned
If you let him through my door! ’

So Toby galloped to Hounslow Heath
Along the Great West Road,
Teamed up with the brute Tom Wilmot,
Lay low in his abode,
They’d venture out on a moonlit night
To wait for the latest Stage,
But Tom was never the gentleman,
Or known to contain his rage.

They stopped the coach on a lonely night
‘Your money or your life! ’
Dragged out a country gentleman,
His maid, and his homely wife,
He wanted the ring on the lady’s hand
But her finger held it tight,
So he sawed the finger off as well
With a sharp, serrated knife.

‘It was terrible, ’ Toby told me
As they loaded him onto the cart,
‘The screams and the blood, unholy, ’
As the horse was about to depart,
They hung him high on the Tyburn Tree
Next to the Wilmot pig,
Not undeserved, but I cried and cursed
As he danced the Tyburn jig.

22 January 2014

Submitted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Edited: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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