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“It is not yet full threescore years since this trade began; but how it hath prospered since that time it is easy to judge, for they are now supposed, of one sex and another, to amount unto above 10,000 persons, as I have heard reported. Moreover, in counterfeiting the Egyptian rogues, they have devised a language among themselves, which they name canting, but others pedlar's French, a speech compact thirty years since of English and a great number of odd words of their own devising, without all order or reason; and yet, such is it as none but themselves are able to understand. The
first deviser thereof was hanged by the neck—
a just reward no doubt for his deserts, and a
common end to all of that profession. A gentle
man also of late hath taken great pains to
search out the secret practices of this ungracious rabble; and among other things, he setteth down and describeth three-and-twenty sorts of them, whose names it shall not be amiss to remember, whereby each one may take occasion to read and know, as also by his industry, what wicked people they are, and what villainy remaineth in them.
“The several disorders and degrees amongst our idle vagabonds:–
1. Ruffiers. 9. Abrams. 2. Uprightmen. 10. Freshwater Mariners, or 3. Hookers, or Anglers. Whipjacks.
4. Rogues. 11. Dummerers. 5. Wild Rogues. 12. drunken Tinkers. 6. Priggers, or Prancers. 13. Swaddlers, or Pedlers. 7. Palliards. 14. Jacksmen, or Patricoes. 8. Fraters.
1. Demanders for glimmer, 5. Walking Mortes. or fire.
6. Dores. 2. Baudy-baskets. 7. Delles. 3. Mortes. 8. Kinching Mortes.
4. Autem. Mortes. 9. Kinching Coves.”
The “Bedlam beggars" of Shakspere were sometimes real lunatics, and sometimes vagabonds affecting their pitiable condition. Mr. D'Israeli, in his “Curiosities of Literature, has collected some interesting particulars regarding this singular race of mendicants. The real
Bedlam beggars were probably out-pensioners papers" we have the following minute description:—“Till the breaking out of the civil wars, Tom o' Bedlams did travel about the country; they had been poor distracted men, that had been put into Bedlam, where, recovering some soberness, they were licentiated to go a begging; i. e., they had on their left arm an armilla, an iron ring for the arm, about four inches long, as printed in some works. They could not get it off; they wore about their necks a great horn of an ox in a string or bawdry, which, when they came to a house, they did wind, and they put the drink given to them into this horn, whereto they put a stopple. Since the wars I do not remember to have seen any one of them." The great horn of an ox, into which the Tom o' Bedlams put their drink, explains a passage in one of Edgar's speeches, -“Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.” (Act III., Sc. 6.) After the description of the Bedlam beggars, Edgar exclaims, “Poor Turlygodl" We give an interesting note on this subject from Douce. “Warburton would read Turlupin, and Hanmer Turluru; but there is a better reason for rejecting both these terms than for preferring either; viz., that Turlygood is the corrupted word in our language. The Turlupins were a fanatical sect that over-ran France, Italy, and Germany, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They were at first known by the names of Beghards or Beghins, and brethren and sisters of the free spirit. Their manners and appearance exhibited the strongest indications of lunacy and distraction. The common people alone called them Turlupins; a name which, though it has excited much doubt and controversy, seems obviously to be connected with the wolvish howlings which these people in all probability would make when influenced by their religious ravings. Their subsequent appellation of the fraternity of poor men might have been the cause why the wandering rogues called Bedlam beggars, and one of whom Edgar personates, assumed or obtained the title of Turlupins or Turlygoods, especially if their mode of asking alms was accompanied by the gesticulations of madmen. Turlupino and Turluru are old Italian terms for a fool or madman; and the Flemings had a proverb, “as unfortynate as Turlupin and his children.’”
in some respects, rather a terrible country to live in :"—
“Such as are idle beggars, through their own default, are of two sorts, and continue their estates either by casual or mere voluntary means: those that are such by casual means, are in the beginning justly to be referred either to the first or second sort of poor afore mentioned (the poor by impotency, and the poor by casualty); but, degenerating into the thriftless sort, they do what they can to continue their misery, and, with such impediments as they have, to stray and wander about, as creatures abhorring all labour and every honest exercise. Certes, I call these casual means, not in respect of the original of their poverty, but of the continuance of the same, from whence they will not be delivered, such is their own ungracious lewdness and froward disposition. The voluntary means proceed from outward causes, as by making of corrosives, and applying the same to the most fleshy parts of their bodies; and also laying of ratsbane, spearwort, crowfoot, and such like, into their whole members, thereby to raise pitiful and odious sores, and move the hearts of the goers by such places where they lie to yearn at their misery, and thereupon bestow large alms upon them. How artificially they beg, what forcible speech, and how they select and choose out words of vehemency, whereby they do in a manner conjure or adjure the goer by to pity their cases, I pass over to remember, as judging the name of God and Christ to be more conversant in the mouths of none; and yet the presence of the Heavenly Majesty further off from no men than from this ungracious company.
“Unto this nest is another sort to be referred, more sturdy than the rest, which, having sound and perfect limbs, do yet, notwithstanding, sometimes counterfeit the possession of all sorts of diseases. Divers times, in their apparel also, they will be like serving men or labourers: oftentimes they can play the mariners, and seek for ships which they never lost. But, in fine, they are all thieves and caterpillars in the commonwealth, and by the word of God not permitted to eat, sith they do but lick the sweat from the true labourers' brows, and bereave the godly poor of that which is due unto them, to maintain their excess, consuming the charity of well-disposed people bestowed upon them, after a most wicked and detestable manner.
of the hospital, never dangerous, and seldom mischievous. Their costume is described by
Randle Holme in his ‘Academy of Armoury;" |
and Decker, in his “English Willainies, has noticed the impostors personating the proper Bedlams, who were known by the name of Abraham-men. In one of Aubrey's manuscript
* MS. Lansdowne, 226.
“And yet I say by my soule, I have no salt bacon, Ne no cokeney by Christe coloppes to make.” If Percy and Tyrwhitt were unquestionably right, we should have no difficulty in explaining that the cockney in Shakspere who put the eels “i' the paste alive" was a cook; and this indeed seems the natural interpretation of the term from the context. But Douce maintains that the cokenay of ‘Pierce Plowman' and the “Turnament of Tottenham ” was a little cock. The cockney, then, of Lear's fool may be the Londoner, who bore that name of contempt before the time of Shakspere. In “Twelfth Night' the clown says, “I am afraid this great lubber the world will prove a cockney;” and Chaucer, in his “Reve's Tale,' appears to employ it with a similar meaning :— “And when this jape is tald another day, I shall be halden a daffe or a cokenay.”
Fuller, in his “Worthies,” gives us two explanations of the term —
“1. One coaks'd or cocker'd, made a wanton or nestle-cock of, delicately bred and brought up, so that, when grown men or women, they can endure no hardship, nor comport with pains-taking.
“2. One utterly ignorant of husbandry and huswifery, such as is practised in the country, so that they may be persuaded anything about rural commodities; and the original thereof, and the tale of the citizen's son, who knew not the language of the cock, but called it neighing, is commonly known.”
The tale of the cock neighing is gravely given by Minshieu in his “Guide into the Tongues;’ and is repeated in succeeding dictionaries. Whatever be the origin, there can be no doubt that London was anciently known by the name
Fuller says, “It is more than four | London Cockeney, might possibly allude to that
hundred years old; for, when Hugh Bigot added imaginary country of idleness and luxury which
artificial fortifications to the natural strength of was anciently known by the name of Cokaigne, his castle at Bungay, in Suffolk, he gave out or Cocagne; a name which Hicks has shown to this rhyme, therein vaunting it for impreg- be derived from Coquina. He has there pub
translated from the French. At least, the
I would ne care for the King of Cockeney'— meaning thereby King Henry the Second, then peaceably possessed of London, whilst some other places did resist him; though afterwards he so humbled this Hugh, that he was fain with The festival of Cocagna at Naples, described by
for Boileau plainly alludes to it:—
French have had the same fable among them,
large sums of money and pledges for his loy- Keysler, appears to have the same foundation.
alty, to redeem this his castle from being razed It probably commenced under the Norman goto the ground.” Tyrwhittingeniously suggests vernment.” that the author of these rhymes, “in calling
* Scene II.-" When priests are more in word than matter,” &c.
THIS prophecy is not found in the quartos, and leaves no doubt of this. Nor was the intro
it was therefore somewhat hastily concluded duction of such a mock prophecy mere idle that it was an interpolation of the players. It buffoonery. There can be no question, from
“Then comes the time, who lives to see’t,
is founded upon a prophecy in Chaucer, which the statutes that were directed against these is thus quoted in Puttenham's ‘Art of Poetry, stimulants to popular credulity, that they were
manners, which the corruption of the present
would prevent from ever happening. He then recommends a separation of the concluding two couplets to mark this distinction. Capell thinks also that they were separate prophecies, not spoken at the same time, but on different nights
of the play's performance. All this appears to
considered of importance in Shakspere's day. Bacon's essay ‘Of Prophecies' shows that the philosopher gravely denounced what our poet
of England but of Britain." Bacon adds, “My
us to pass by the real object of the passage, which, by the jumble of ideas—the confusion between manners that existed, and manners that might exist in an improved state of society—were calculated to bring such predictions into ridicule. The conclusion,-
judgment is that they ought all to be despised,
and ought to serve but for winter talk by the
fireside: though, when I say despised, I mean it as for belief, for otherwise, the spreading or publishing of them is in no sort to be despised,
for they have done much mischief; and I see many severe laws made to suppress them.”
* SCENE IV. “That hath laid knives under his pillow,” &c.
The feigned madness of Edgar assumes, throughout, that he represented a demoniac. His first expression is, “Away! the foul fiend follows me;" and in this and the subsequent scenes the same idea is constantly repeated. “Who gives anything to poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame?”—“This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet;”—“Peace, Smolkin, peace, thou foul fiend;” “The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.” Shakspere has, with wonderful judgment, put language in the mouth of Edgar that was in some degree familiar to his audience. In the year 1603, Dr. Samuel Harsnet, afterwards Archbishop of York, published a very extraordinary book, entitled ‘A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures, to withdraw the hearts of Her Majesty's subjects from their allegiance, under the pretence of casting out devils, practised by Edmunds, alias Weston, a Jesuit, and divers Romish priests, his wicked associates.” Warburton, thus describes the circumstance to which this work refers:–“While the Spaniards were preparing their armada against England, the Jesuits were here busy at work to promote it by making converts. One method they employed was to dispossess pretended demoniacs, by which artifice they made several hundred converts amongst the common people. The principal scene of this farce was laid in the family of one Mr. Edmund Peckham, a Roman Catholic, where Marwood, a servant of Antony Babington's (who was afterwards executed for treason), Trayford, an attendant upon Mr. Peckham, and Sarah and Friswood Williams, and Anne Smith, three chambermaids in that family, came into the priests' hands for cure. But the discipline of the patients was so long and severe, and the priests so elate and careless with their success, that the plot was discovered on the confession of the parties concerned, and the contrivers of it deservedly punished.” When Edgar says that the foul fiend “hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew," Shakspere repeats one of the circumstances of the imposture described by Harsnet —“This examinant further saith, that one Alexander, an apothecary, having brought with him from London to Denham on a time a
new halter and two blades of knives, did leave the same upon the gallery floor in her master's house. A great search was made in the house to know how the said halter and knife-blades came thither, till Ma. Mainy, in his next fit, said it was reported that the devil laid them in the gallery, that some of those that were possessed might either hang themselves with the halter, or kill themselves with the blades.” In Harsnet we find that “Fratiretto, Fliberdigibbet, Hoberdidance, Tocobatto, were four devils of the round or morrice. . These four had forty assistants under them, as themselves do confess." The names of three of these fiends are used by Mad Tom, and so is that of a fourth, Smallkin, also mentioned by Harsnet. When he says—
by the late Mr. T. Rodd, one of the booksellers who has been an honour to his calling, and a benefactor of literature. Our readers will be gratified by the very happy explanation of a matter which has hitherto been perplexed and uncertain :The word aroint occurs twice in Shakspeare, and is not found in the work of any other old English author, nor is it contained in any ancient dictionary. It has been supposed that it is printed by mistake for avaunt, and some commentators propose to read a rowan-tree, that tree being held as a charm against the power of witches, against whom the word is used. Whoever is conversant with the details of seeing a work through the printing-press will be satisfied that the word is aroint, and that it was well understood at the time. Whenever a word occurs in writing which is not understood by the compositor, he is in the habit of printing in its place some word nearest in appearance, no matter whether it makes sense of the passage or not. Now, as this word is printed the same in all the four folios, it is fair to presume that it was not altogether fallen into disuse, parent word; and on searching the dictionary of that language no such word has been found.
The word was in common use before the time
of Shakspeare; it occursin Heywood’s ‘Proverbs," and also in the old interlude of “Ralf Roister
Doister, by Udall, under the form of a pro
verbial expression, “Baccare, quoth Mortimer to his sow.” It is long ere imported words get into such common use as to become adopted by the common people into their proverbial and familiar phrases; and it is much to be doubted
whether, at the time when Heywood wrote, any Italian words had been introduced, except such
as related to commerce. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the word is pure Saxon, —back-are, go back,-in which sense it is used by Heywood, Udall, and Shakspeare. The word baccare has been previously noticed,
with this explanation, in ‘The Taming of the
"Scene IV.-" Whipped from tything to tything, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned."
even in 1685, the date of the latest of these
Shakspere, with that unvarying kindness which he exhibits towards wretched and oppressed humanity, in however low a shape, makes us here feel the cruelty of the laws which in his days were enforced, however vainly, for the suppression of mendicancy. By the statutes of the 39th Elizabeth (1597), and the 1st of James I. (1604), the severe penalties of former
Acts were somewhat modified; but the rogue,
vagabond, or sturdy beggar, was still by these statutes to be “stripped naked, from the middle
upwards, and to be whipped until his body was
bloody, and, to be sent from parish to parish. the next straight way to the place of his birth.” Harrison has described the previous state of the law with his characteristic force and simplicity, but with small leaning to the merciful side:
“The punishment that is ordained for this kind of people is very sharp, and yet it cannot re. frain them from their gadding: wherefore the
end must needs be martial law to be exercised upon them, as upon thieves, robbers, despisers of all laws, and enemies to the common-wealth and welfare of the land. What notable robberies, pilferies, murders, rapes, and stealings of young children, burning, breaking, and dis. figuring their limbs to make them pitiful in the sight of the people, I need not to rehearse: but for their idle rogueing about the country, the law ordaineth this manner of correction. The rogue being apprehended, committed to prison.