Save a thief from the Gallows, and he'l Hang thee if he can,

Title

Save a thief from the Gallows, and he'l Hang thee if he can,

Subtitle

Or, The Merciful Father, and the merciless Son. To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe. The Confession and Repentance of George Saunders, Gentleman late of Sugh, in the County of Hertford, who killed his own Uncle, and accused his own Father for the Murder, but by Gods providence being discovered, dyed for the same whereas he wrote this Song with his own hand. His Repentance in Prison, To the same Tune.

Synopsis

Son kills uncle for his inheritance and allows father to take the blame until he sees him at the gallows, and then confesses to the crime.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 2.196-197 (cf. Roxburghe 3.28, EBBA 32059; Euing 1.320, EBBA 31969); EBBA 20811

Set to tune of...

Transcription

YOu disobedient Children mark my fall,
And by my timeless end take warning all,
Against my own dear Father have I done,
A deed the like did never graceless Son.
In blooming years I was intic'd to sin,
E're I perceiv'd what danger lay therein:
And so from day to day, until this hour,
To leave the same, as yet I have no power.
My Mother dead, my Father cockered me,
As men will do when Motherless we be:
And nothing for me then he thought too dear,
Which brought me thus into a graceless fear.
And when as I to elder years did grow,
By wicked courses got I timely woe;
Each vain delight belonging to Young-men,
Deceived me, and wrought my ruine then.
The deadly sins that are in number seaven,
without more grace have lost my joys in heaven:
From first to last of these most cursed crimes,
Have made me now a wonder of these times.
For wanting means to nourish my delight,
I went the wrong, and left the ways of right;
Which to maintain, my Father growing poor,
Forgetting God, I daily rob'd for more.
Three times he sav'd me from the Gallow-tree,
Three times he cast himself in debt for me:
Three times he set me up in good estate,
In hope to keep me from untimely fate.
By me the Proverb is fulfilled here,
Who saves a Thief from Gallow, finds it dear
For saving me, I sought his dear life's woe,
My gentle Fathers timeless overthrow.
For wanting means still to relieve my need,
Put me in mind to do a woful deed:
And seek his blood, the high-way unto sin,
Who wanting grace, I soon grew perfect in.
My Father's Brother of good living known,
Being dead, as next of Kin they were mine own
[On]e which I wrought with these accursed hands
To be the heir of all my Uncles Lands.
With mind prepar'd for Murder thus I went,
Unto the Field where he did much frequent,
where meeting him, with mine own fathers knife
Which I had stoln, I took away his life.
And laid it down all bloody by his side,
That all might see my Uncle therewith dy'd:
And challeng'd it my Fathers knife to be,
When people came the Murdered Corps to see.
O homicide! O cursed viprous brood,
Like Cain, to seek my fathers dearest blood;
My own dear father being thus betray'd,
I his own child the evidence was made.
So judg'd to death for that he never did,
The Lord in mercy did the same forbid:
For as he was to Execution led,
A World of torments in my bosom bred.
To see him stand upon the Gallow-tree,
From which before poor man he saved me:
I could not chuse but tell what I had done,
And so confess my self a wicked son.

The Confession and Repentance of George Saunders, Gentleman late of Sugh,
in the County of Hertford, who killed his own Uncle, and accused his own Father for the Mur-
der, but by Gods providence being discovered, dyed for the same whereas he wrote this Song
with his own hand.

GOds judgements now are rightly seen said I,
Dear Father I have slain him, let me dye,
O let me dye and set my Father free,
Or else like Judas damned shall I be.
Whereat the people in that very place,
They praised God that gave me so much grace,
To quit my Father from that crying sin,
Which I with blood-red streams am drowned in.
My Father sav'd and I to Prison sent,
Where I remain'd with many a sad lament,
Which when you see, you cannot chuse but say,
Repentance comes before my Dying day.

His Repentance in Prison,
To the same Tune.

MOngst Lyons fell in Daniels den am I,
In lowest Prison cast with Jeremy:
[F]ed with Elias by the Ravens fell,
And plac'd with Judas in the Maw of Hell
Naked with Esau fearful do I walk,
Dumb with old Zahary silent do I talk,
Afflictions bread with Micha is my food,
And with the Prophet drink I sorrows flood.
As poor as Job, even now so poor am I,
Despis'd with Lazarus in great misery,
Banished with David from my native land,
Cast up with Jonas on the Nenivites sand.
Made blind with Toby, by the Swallows dung,
And with poor Joseph cast in Prison strong,
I weep with Mary who had lost her Master,
And run with Peter who should run the faster.
I sinned have, for sin God curst the ground,
I sinned have, for sin the world was drown'd,
I sinned have, sin Sodom set on fire,
Also for sin did AEgypt fell Gods ire,
I sinned have, for sin did Adam dye,
I sinned have, sin caused David, cry,
I sinned have, and for sin Satan fell
From an high Angel, to a Devil in Hell.
Did David weep, and shall not I then cry,
Did Mary weep, and shall mine eyes be dry?
Did Esau weep, and shall not I weep more,
Did Peter weep, such tears let me have store.
Did Mary weep, for loss of master dear,
Did Marthe weep, with sorrow touch her near.
Spring Eyes with tears to wash his sacred feet,
That for my sin did shed his blood so sweet.
Lark like I flye into the living spring,
Desiring pardon of my Heavenly King,
Past worldly hope, now like the Thief on tree,
I onely fix my faith and hope in thee,
Look back on me, as thou did'st unto Peter,
Speak to my soul, as to the theif most sweeter,
O spye me out with Zache on the tree,
And with sweet Bartholomew call me lord to thee.
O let me now with holy Abraham spy,
A saving Ram that Isaac may not dye:
O let me live for to sound forth thy praise,
That I may shew thy mercy in my days.
Make me a swallow in thy house, O King,
That Swallow like I may sit there and sing,
O let me in thy Temple keep a door,
That I may praise thy name for evermore,

Method of Punishment

hanging

Crime(s)

murder

Gender

Execution Location

Sugh, Hertford

Printing Location

Printed for J. C. W. T. and T. P.

Files

PepysC_2_196-197_2448x2448.jpg

Citation

“Save a thief from the Gallows, and he'l Hang thee if he can,,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 24, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/935.

Output Formats