THE NIGHT BEFORE LARRY WAS STRETCHED
The night before Larry was stretched,
The boys they all paid him a visit;
A bait in their sacks, too, they fetched,
They sweated their duds till they riz it:
For Larry was ever the lad,
When a boy was condemned to the squeezer,
Would fence all the duds that he had
To help a poor friend to a sneezer,
And moisten his gob 'fore he died.
The boys they came crowding in fast,
They drew all their stools round about him;
Six glims round his trap-case were placed,
He couldn't be well waked without 'em.
When one of us asked could he die
Without having duly repented?
Says Larry, that's all in my eye,
And first by the clergy invented
To get a fat bit for themselves.
I'm sorry, dear Larry, says I,
To see you in this situation;
And blister my limbs if I lie,
I'd as lief it had been my own station.
Ochon! it's all over, says he.
For the neckcloth I'll be forced to put on,
And this time tomorrow you'll see
Poor Larry as dead as a mutton
Because why, his courage was good.
And I'll be cut up like a pie,
And my nob from my body be parted.
You're in the wrong box, then, says I,
For blast me if they're so hard-hearted;
A chalk on the back of your neck
Is all that Jack Kesh dares to give you;
Then mind not such trifles a feck,
For why should the likes of them grieve you?
And, now boys, come tip us the deck.
The cards being called for, they played,
Till Larry found one of them cheated;
A dart for his napper, he made
(The boy being easily heated);
Horo! by the hokey, you thief,
I'll scuttle your nob with my doddle!
You cheat me because I'm in grief,
But soon I'll demolish your noddle
And leave you your claret to drink.
Then the clergy came in with his book,
He spoke him so smooth and so civil;
Larry tipped him a Kilmainham look,
And pitched his big wig to the devil;
Then sighing, he threw back his head
To get a sweet drop of the bottle,
And, pitiful sighing, he said,
O the hemp will be soon round my throttle,
And choke my poor windpipe to death.
Though sure 'tis the best way to die,
O the devil a better a-livin'!
For when the damn gallows is high
Your journey is shorter to heaven;
What harasses Larry the most,
And makes his poor soul melancholy
As he thinks of the time when his ghost
Will come in a sheet to sweet Molly;
Och sure it will kill her alive!
So moving these last words he spoke,
We vented our tears in a shower;
Meself, sure, I thought my heart broke,
To see him cut down like a flower.
On his travels we watched him next day;
The throttler, I thought I could kill him;
But Larry not one word would he say,
Nor changed till he came to King William,
Then, musha, his colour turned white.
When he came to the old numbing chit,
He was tucked up, so neat and so pretty;
The rumbler jogged off from his feet,
And he died with his face to the city!
He kicked, too, but that was all pride,
For soon you might see 'twas all over;
Soon after the noose was untied,
And at darkee we waked him in clover,
And sent him to take a ground sweat.
Source: Frank Harte 'Dublin Street Songs Topic 12T172. This the same text as
that printed as song 52a in Colm O Lochlainn (Ed) 'More Irish Street Ballads'
The Three Candles, Dublin 1968 pp 235-237. Copyright Colm O Lochlainn 1965.
Note: Donagh McDonagh: 'The King William at the sight of which Larry blanched
was an equestrian statue of the victor of the Battle of the Boyne which stood in
College Green and which has since been blown up (naturally)'.
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