Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

A Verse on Jonathan Wild

29 May 1725   On Monday Jonathan Wild was executed at Tyburn. Never was there seen so prodigious a concourse of people before, upon any occasion; and, what’s very remarkable, in all that numerous crowd there was not one pittying eye to be found, or compassionate word heard; but, on the contrary, all the way he went, nothing but hollowing and huzzas, as if it had been a triumph, particularly when he was turn’d off. The night before his execution, he took a large dose of liquid laudanum, in order to have dispatch’d himself; but swallowing too much, and having fasted four days before, it came up again; however, it seem’d to have a stupifying effect upon him. At the same time were executed Robert Harpam, for counterfeiting the coin of this Kingdom; William Sperry and Robert Sandford, for [robbery on] the righway. One of our Correspondents, designing to be witty on the occasion, sent us the following verses;

No sooner had Jonathan leap’d from the boat,
But Blueskin* espy’d him, and flew at his throat;
All Hell in an uproar receiv’d this alarm,
While Sandford and Sperry caught hold of his arm. Cease, Blueskin, untimely revenge to pursue,
He hath suffer’d already that death which was due:
See the wound in his forehead.—his neck o’one side.—
The barbarous crowd give him one e’er he dy’d:
Forgive him at length, forgive your old friend,
Since the thread of his life was a rope in the end.
Then Jonathan, blessing himself, did reply,
Ev’ry word he hath spoke is a damnable lye;
For this wound in my forehead, I’ll make affidavit,
(If Minos is sitting) that I my self gave it.
Then how came your neck broke? the Devils cry’d all.
Saith he, For my Neck, that was broke by a fall.

     [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

* Joseph Blake alias Blueskin unsuccessfully tried to kill Wild in 1724.

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "A Verse on Jonathan Wild", 24 April 2002 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/wild1.htm>

Return to list of Newspaper Reports