DURING the time of the excessive
demand for bodies as subjects for dissection, which led to the
resurrection outrages and Burke and Hare murders of some two generations
ago, two Glasgow medical students, having heard of an interesting case of
illness and death at the Mearns, a few miles to the south of the city,
determined to obtain possession of the body, in order to find out what it
was that had baffled the skill of two such eminent practitioners as Drs.
Cleghorn and Balmanno.
Knowing that their expedition might
be spoiled by the numerous watchers, they took the most ample precautions
against discovery. They purchased a suit of old clothing in the Saltmarket,
and with it they drove out to the Mearns. The body they desired was easily
raised, and was
carefully dressed in the suit they
had provided. Then they placed it between them in the gig, and returned
gaily towards the city. The keeper of the Gorbals toll-bar, through which
they had to pass, was a suspicious old man, and they thought they might
have some difficulty with him. When they came to the bar they halted
promptly, and while one was producing the toll-money, the other was
attending with the utmost solicitude to what he called his "sick friend,"
who was, of course, none other than the dead man. The tollman, noticing
his efforts, looked at the "sick friend," and remarked sympathetically:
Oh! puir auld bodie, he looks unco
ill in the face; drive cannily hame, lads, drive cannily."
Once over the bridge, the students
lost no time in conveying to their den the prize they had so ingeniously