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Lyr Req: The Whitechapel Polka

chrisgl 17 Jan 14 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 18 Jan 14 - 04:29 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Jan 14 - 07:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 19 Jan 14 - 05:25 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Jan 14 - 11:59 AM
Jack Campin 19 Jan 14 - 01:08 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: The Whitechapel Polka
From: chrisgl
Date: 17 Jan 14 - 10:22 PM

The Whitechapel Polka is a song from the around time of Jack the Ripper.

The only information Google is *currently* giving is that it a gruesome ditty about Jack the Ripper and was very popular.

I've not had any success with the British Library either (though I'm not entirely convinced I know what I'm doing there!)

Has anyone encountered it? Even late at night on a foggy, dimly lit street?


chris :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Whitechapel Polka
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jan 14 - 04:29 AM

It sounds like the sort of thing you might find in the Harding Collection at the Bodleian. Right now I don't have time to figure out how to find it there.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHOCKING MURDERS IN WHITECHAPEL
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Jan 14 - 07:50 PM

This is the only song I have identified in the Bodleian collection as relating to the "Jack the Ripper" killings IN 1888. (However, I did find some other songs about the murder by Henry Wainwright of his mistress Harriet Lane in Whitechapel in 1874.)

From the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads: Harding B 20(196):


SHOCKING MURDERS IN WHITECHAPEL.
SIX WOMEN MUTILATED.

NAMES OF THE VICTIMS.*
Emma Smith 45, had an iron-tipped stake thrust into her body, near Osborn St., Whitechapel, April 3rd. Martha Tabram, 35, stabbed in 39 places, at George Yard Buildings, Commercial St., Spitalfields, Aug. 7. Mary Ann Nicholls, 47, had her throat cut and body mutilated, in Buck's Row, Whitechapel, August 31. Annie Chapman, 47, her throat cut and body mutilated, in Hanbury St., Spitalfields, Sept. 8. Elizabeth Stride, her throat cut, in Berner St., Whitechapel, on Sunday, Sept 30th. Catherine Eddowes, found with her throat cut and body mutilated in Mitre Square, Aldgate, also on Sunday, September 30.


Come listen to a dreadful tale I'm telling:
In Whitechapel six murders have been done.
With horror many hearts they now are swelling,
Those fearful deeds that now to light have come.
Six months ago a woman was found lying
In death's cold arms, how dreadful to relate.
What agony they suffered here when dying.
They were all nearly found in the same state.

Air—Railway Train.

Now ladies all, beware, or you'll get caught in a snare.
They seem to say the devil's running loose.
With a big knife in his hand, he trots throughout the land,
And with all the ladies means to play the deuce.
He's knockout, I declare, here, there and everywhere,
And to catch [him] we all know they've had a try.
He's got the laugh as yet, but his day will come, you bet,
And he'll play his little game out by and by.

CHORUS: Has anyone seen him? Can you tell us where he is?
If you meet him, you must take away his knife,
Then give him to the women; they'll spoil his pretty fiz,**
And I would not give him two-pence for his life.

Now they've searched the underground and country all around,
In every hole and corner, so they say;
But he comes out of a night and puts us all in fright,
And he manages somehow to get away.
We can't tell if we're standing on our heads or on our heels,
While mystery these crimes still enshrouds.
We must ask Professor Baldwin to go up in his balloon,
And see if he can find him in the clouds.

Now Mrs. Potts says she'd let the villain see
If I had him here I'd sure to make him cough.
I'd chop off all his toes, then his ears and then his nose,
And I'd make him such a proper dose of broth.
His hat and coat I'd stew, and flavour it with glue,
Black beetles, mottled soap and boil the lot.
I've got a good-size funnel; I'll stick it in his gunwale,
And make the humbug eat it boiling hot.

Now at night when you undress, and about to go to rest,
Just see that he ain't underneath the bed.
If he is, you mustn't shout, but politely drag him out,
And with your poker, tap him on the head.
So look out, Jack the Ripper; we're on your blooming track.
There's a pretty piece of rope for you in store.
We'll give you beans, old bogey, then, good old Ripper Jack,
He'll never go out killing any more.


[* The first 2 listed here—Smith and Tabram—are now thought to have been unrelated to the other killings. The fact that Mary Jane Kelly is not listed suggests that this song was written before her death on 9 November 1888.]

[** Fiz = physiognomy = face.]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Whitechapel Polka
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 05:25 AM

sounds great! every autumn I will dress up in stove pipe hat and dance the polka round Mitre Square to it!

We shouldn't just let these traditions disappear.


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Subject: Add: LINES ON THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY IN WHITECHAPEL
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 11:59 AM

This song is quoted in Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sudgen (New York: Constable & Robinson, 2012), page 66 (which is apparently only available as an eBook):


LINES ON THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY IN WHITECHAPEL
Tune: My Village Home

Come listen to a dreadful tale I'm telling:
In Whitechapel three murders have been done.
With horror many hearts they now are swelling,
Those fearful deeds that now to light have come.

Twelve months ago a woman was found lying
In death's cold arms, how dreadful to relate.
What agony they suffered here when dying.
They were nearly all found in the same state.

The first poor creature's death they all are thinking
The same hand took her life that fatal night.
Poor people now with fear they are shrinking
Oh! may this crime be quickly brought to light.

Now scarcely had the news of that foul murder,
Which filled all hearts with sorrow and dismay,
When—sad to tell—the fate of Martha Turner,
Poor soul, she met her fate near the same way.

'Twas thought that soldiers had killed that poor creature,
And on them many people laid the blame.
When found, 'twas hard to recognise a feature.
To leave her so, oh! what a cruel shame.

And now poor Mary Nicholls' death relating,
In Buck's Row, Whitechapel there did lie,
While in the dark her body lay awaiting,
And no one there to see that poor soul die.

By workhouse clothes the body recognising,
That cruel deed all around will show
Who could have done that deed, they are surmising,
And murdered Mary Nicholls in Buck's Row?


[It appears this song was rushed into print after the death of Nicholls on August 31, and before the death of Chapman on Sept. 8. Also note the first 2 verses of this song, combined into one verse, were quoted in the later song posted above.]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Whitechapel Polka
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 01:08 PM

Perhaps we should all be grateful the murder-broadside tradition, with every killing itemized, died out before the trial of Harold Shipman. Something like 200 verses would be a bit much.


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