James Dawson was one of the Manchester rebels, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered, on Kennington-Common, in the county of Surrey, July 30, 1746. This ballad is founded on a remarkable fact, which was reported to have happened at his execution. It was written by the late William Shenstone, Esq. soon after the event, and has been printed amongst his posthumous works, 2 vols. 8vo.
It is here given from a manuscript which contained some small variations from that printed copy.
COME listen to my mournful tale,
Ye tender hearts, and lovers dear;
Nor will you scorn to heave a sigh,
Nor will you blush to shed a tear.
And thou, dear Kitty, peerless maid,
Do thou a pensive ear incline;
For thou canst weep at every woe,
And pity every plaint, but mine.
Young Dawson was a gallant youth,
A brighter never trod the plain;
And well he lov'd one charming maid,
And dearly was he lov'd again.
One tender maid she lov'd him dear,
Of gentle blood the damsel came,
And faultless was her beauteous form,
And spotless was her virgin fame.
But curse on party's hateful strife,
That led the faithful youth astray
The day the rebel clans appear'd
O had he never seen that day!
Their colours and their sash he wore,
And in the fatal dress was found;
And now he must that death endure,
Which gives the brave the keenest wound.
How pale was then his true love's cheek,
When Jemmy's sentence reach'd her ear!
For never yet did Alpine snows
So pale, nor yet so chill appear.
With faltering voice she weeping said,
"Oh, Dawson, monarch of my heart,
Think not thy death shall end our loves,
For thou and I will never part.
"Yet might sweet mercy find a place,
And bring relief to Jemmy's woes,
O GEORGE, without a prayer for thee
My orisons should never close.
"The gracious prince that gives him life
Would crown a never-dying flame,
And every tender babe I bore
Should learn to lisp the giver's name.
"But though, dear youth, thou should'st be dragg'd
To yonder ignominious tree,
Thou shalt not want a faithful friend
To share thy bitter fate with thee."
O then her mourning-coach was call'd,
The sledge mov'd slowly on before;
Tho' borne in a triumphal car,
She had not lov'd her favourite more.
She follow'd him prepar'd to view,
The terrible behests of law;
And the last scene of Jemmy's woes
With calm and stedfast eye she saw.
Distorted was that blooming face,
Which she had fondly lov'd so long:
And stifled was that tuneful breath,
Which in her praise had sweetly sung:
And sever'd was that beauteous neck,
Round which her arms had fondly clos'd
And mangled was that beauteous breast,
On which her love-sick head repos'd
And ravish'd was that constant heart,
She did to every heart prefer;
For though it could his king forget,
'Twas true and loyal still to her.
Amid those unrelenting flames
She bore this constant heart to see;
But when 'twas moulder'd into dust,
"Now, now," she cried, "I'll follow thee.
"My death, my death alone can show
The pure and lasting love I bore:
Accept, O heaven, of woes like ours,
And let us, let us weep no more."
The dismal scene was o'er and past,
The lover's mournful hearse retied;
The maid drew back her languid head,
And sighing forth his name expir'd.
Tho' justice ever must prevail,
The tear my Kitty sheds is due;
For seldom shall she hear a tale
So sad, so tender, and so true.