Volume 36 , Number 1 , Summer 1996
Up, and make ready, ye lovers of fun!
On with your holiday dress and be gay!
Now that the Sheriff has work to be done.
Business he mingles with pleasure, to-day.
Some may go hunting with guns; and a few
Rods in their hands, little fish may pursue;
Ours is the sport which is sanctioned by law-
We go a hanging-a hanging! Hurrah!
Two months ago, on a rare, drunken bout,
Billy, his comrade, the criminal slew;
Murders a deed that is vile, without doubt
Ergo-the law will turn murderer, too.
As for the place where the liquor he got-
Liquor which maddened him-yonders the spot-
Sammy, who keeps it, approves of the law-
He goes for hanging-for hanging! Hurrah!
Bright shines the sun on the place where you see
Yonder tall gallows, substantial and bare,
Wait a few hours, and a fellow will be
Dancing fandangoes of fun in the air.
Gathered in groups at the gallows, behold
Parents and children, maids, wives, young and old,
Waiting the time when the halter shall draw-
They go for hanging-for hanging! Hurrah!
Pickpockets plenty are mark how they go
Slyly and coolly to work at their [trade]
Business is business, and people must [know]
Too much attention to that cant be paid.
Swearing and fighting, and kicking-the crowd
Utter their blasphemous curses aloud-
Righteous example is set by the law;
Good comes from hanging-from hanging! Hurrah!
Look at the criminal! please ye to look!
Standing behind him, the hangman you see;
There is the priest, with his gown and his book-
Galloping gaily, they go to the tree.
Thanks to the priests who the hangman befriend,
Choking such knaves as twere labor to mend.
Hanging, they say, is Levitical law-
Cheers for the clergy-theyre Christians! Hurrah!
Firmly and proudly the culprit looks round,
Holding his head with a satisfied air,
Murmurs applauding go over the ground-
Down pops the priest with the felon to prayer.
"How interesting his looks are!" says Ann.
"Yes," answers Sal, "and hell die like a man!
" Elegant talk for young maidens, but-pshaw!
Shout for the hanging-the hanging! Hurrah!
Prayers are all finished, and now for the fun;
Over his features the cap has been drawn;
Ketch and his comrade, the preacher, get down;
Crack! goes the whip, and the wagon moves on.
Wonderful sight for the Christian to see,
Merrily dancing on nothing is he.
Though theres no fiddle a hornpipe to saw,
Light are his leaps-hes a hanging! Hurrah!
After the rope has been severed in twain
Home to the people, and joyfully sing:
Heaven will receive whom the gallows has slain-
Does not the clergyman settle the thing?
Home go the people, and talk of it all,
Children in nursery, servants in hall;
Bub hangs the Cat, in the manner he saw
Hung at the gallows Gods image! Hurrah!
Rouse, ye good clergymen, servants of God!
Stand by my side, while I fight for your fun.
Hanging preserves us from shedding of blood-
Remedy like it, there never was one.
Rally your forces, thump pulpits, and be
Clerical guards of the good gallows tree.
What if our Saviour denounces the law?
You go for hanging-for hanging! Hurrah!
Lynn Morrow found this verse in an old scrapbook in Camden County containing newspaper clippings from the late nineteenth century. Readers may wish to review narrative versions by Robert Gilmore, Ozark Baptizings, Hangings, and Other Diversions: Theatrical Folkways of Rural Missouri, 1885-1910 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984).
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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