Lowlands-L Members' Gallery
Lowlands-L : "My Lowlands" -- List members sharing their discoveries, ideas and feeling


Members' works
Mark Brooks
Sandy Fleming
Reinhard F. Hahn
Hannelore Hinz
Arthur A. Jones
Jakob Liek
Thomas Mc Rae
Tomás Ó Cárthaigh
Andrys Onsman
Wesley Parish
Pat Reynolds
Arend Victorie
Marsha Wilson

The Pin Wall



Short Prose
For Children




Offline Resources
Lowlands Shops
  · Canada
  · Deutschland
  · France
  · 日本 Japan
  · United Kingdom
  · United States
The Crypt
Language Tips
Members’ Links

Thomas Mc Rae
[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index] [Back to the index of the New McGonagall’s poems.]

Poems by the New McGonagall

By Tomas Mc Rae, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, ©1988

On The Nefarious Activities in Edinburgh
of Burke and Hare

By Tomas Mc Rae (The New McGonagall)
Another the Master should have written

Caged grave to prevent theft of corpse in Holyrood Kirkyard
(Photo: ©Tom Mc Rae)

Oh, City of Edinburgh so beauteous to be seen,

How sad it is that your history recounts many deeds bad and mean!

But none of those awful events can compare,

With the nefarious activities of William Burke and William Hare.

Edinburgh University was a wondrous sight to see,

With its famous medical college and school of anatomy.

But as there was a great shortage of cadavers to dissect,

Unscrupulous villains visited graveyards at night fresh corpses to collect.

And sell them secretly to anatomists,

And if the people had known about this they would have booed and hissed.

Burke and Hare lived in a lodging house near The West Port,

Along with their mistresses with whom they drunkenly did sport.

Then in November 1827 an elderly tenant died owing Hare £4 in rent,

And for loss of this income Hare felt discontent.

Body snatchers at work
(Display in the Edinburgh Dungeon, Photo: ©Tom Mc Rae)

So he and Burke decided to put the corpse in an old tea box,

Which they took in a cart to the Medical College for Dr Knox.

And they were paid an amount of £7,

So £3 profit they had easily found.

Another tenant Joseph the Miller was also dying so they say,

So the villains decided to help him on his way.

With lots of whisky he they inebriated,

Then sat on his chest so he was quickly suffocated.

Then back to Dr Knox the wretches did go,

With the body in a sack they trudged through the snow.

And sold it too for good sum of money,

And the anatomists did not think getting such a fresh corpse was funny.

In February 1828 they persuaded Abigail Simpson to sleep overnight,

Her sleep would be eternal a very woesome plight.

And her body was in such excellent condition.

They received £15 to improve their financial position.

Those evil men and their mistresses in Tanners Close,

Murdered numerous victims of whom they did dispose.

To Dr Knox whose students’ knowledge rose,

With the influx of corpses naked with no clothes.

Those innocents deprived of their lives,

Lay lifeless upon tables where students hacked with saws and knifes.

Burke off to sell a product in a sack
(Display in the Edinburgh Dungeon, Photo: ©Tom Mc Rae)

And through the years 1827 and 1828,

The killing for profit persisted I am sorry to relate.

One victim was the unfortunate Janet Brown,

But several of the students recognised her as a woman of the town.

Even worse was a simpleton known as “Daft Jamie’,

He fought with them shouting “You are going to slay me!”

But the pair quickly smothered this 19 year old boy,

And sold his body to Knox more money to enjoy.

But, oh shock horror, when Knox uncovered the poor lad,

Many of the students recognised this popular worthy and were sad.

But Knox denied the corpse’s identity,

And started dissecting the face with maniacal glee.

But Nemesis was now well on the way,

When they murdered Mary Campbell Docherty,

But one of their tenants named Ann Gray found it shocking.

When she found the corpse under a bed while looking for a stocking.

The evil gang were all arrested by the police,

Who found Docherty’s body in Knox’s laboratory with ease.

It was alleged that Burke and Hare had 17 victims killed,

When Edinburgh citizens learned of this they were far from thrilled.

But alas the evidence was not strong,

Anatomy lecture theatre
(Display in the Edinburgh Dungeon, Photo: ©Tom Mc Rae)

Until Hare turned King’s Evidence before very long.

All other accused walked free but evil Burke,

Who received the Death Sentence and in condemned cell did then lurk.

Thus on 28th January 1829 Burke went to the gallows and did not feel fine,

As over the drop they did him fast align

And as his body fell down through the trap,

All the spectators did cheer and loudly clap.

Then his body was taken to the Medical College to be publicly dissected,

And his remains by the Populace were very well inspected.

And to this day his skeleton can be seen,

In Edinburgh University’s Anatomy Department of flesh stripped clean.

And his death mask and books bound in his skin are displayed at Surgeons Hall,

For many’s an innocent visitor to appall!

In February 1829 Hare was released but was forced to flee from the City,

As people wanted to lynch him without any pity.

And what became of Dr Knox,

Who received all the victims in an old tea box?

Despite his great anatomical knowledge,

He was not made welcome at Edinburgh Medical College,

So from the City he withdrew,

And worked at London’s Cancer Hospital till he died in 1862.

Thus my story of Burke and Hare I you did tell,

I am sure that those evil men roast in Hell!


[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index] [Back to the index of the New McGonagall’s poems.]

© 2005, Lowlands-L • ISSN 189-5582 • LCSN 96-4226 • All international rights reserved.
Lowlands-L Online Shops: Canada · Deutschland · France · 日本 · UK · USA