Thomas Dekker.

The guls hornbook : and The belman of London in two parts online

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and had mainteind it in disorder, to bee both
Surveyor of those workes and Comptroller ot the
Labourers. This Messenger was called Con-
fusion. It was a Spirit swift of sight, and faithful)
of service. Her lookes wilde, terrible and
inconstant. Her attire, carelesly loose, and of
a thousand several! coulors. In one hand shee
grip'd a heape of stormes with which (at her
pleasure) she could trouble ye waters : In the
other she held a whip, to make three Spirits
that drew her, to gallop faster before her : the
Spirits names were / Treason, Sedition, and War,
who at every time when they went abroad, were
ready to set Kingdomes in an uproare. She
roade upon a Chariot of Clowdes, which was
alwayes furnished with Thunder, Lightning,
Winds, Raine, Haile-stones, Snonv, and all the
other Artillery belonging to the service of
Divine Vengeance, and when she spake, her Voyce
sounded like the roaring of many Torrents,
boystrously struggling together, for between her
Jawes did she carry 1 000000. Tongues.

This strange Linguist, stepping to every
Artificer that was there at worke, whispred
in his eare ; whose lookes were there-upon


The con- (presently) fild with a strange distraction: and
fusion of on a suddaine whilst every man was speaking to
tongues j^jg fellow, his language altred, and no man
could understand what his fellow spake. They
all stared one upon another, yet none of them all
could tell wherefore so they stared. Their
Tongues went, and their hands gave action to
their Tongues : yet neither words nor action
were understood. It was a Noise of a thousand
sounds, and yet the sound of the noise was
nothing. Hee that spake, knew hee spake well :
and he that heard, was madde that the other
could speake no better. In the end they grew
angry one with another, as thinking they had
mocked one another of purpose. So that the
Mason was ready to strike the Bricklayer, the
Bricklayer to beate out the braines of his
Labourer : the Carpenter tooke up his Axe to
throw at the Carver, whilst the Carver wzs
stabbing at the Smith, because hee brought him
a Hammer when he should have made him a
CHzzell. He that called for Timber, had
Stones laide before him, and when one was sent
for Nai/es, he fetcht a Tray of Mortar.

Thus Babel/ should have beene raized, and by
this meanes Babel/ fell. The Frame could not
goe forward, the stuffe was throwne by, the
workemen make hollyday. Every one packd
up his tooles to be gone, yet not to goe the same
way that he came : but glad was he, that could
meete another, whose speech hee understood : for
to what / place soever he went, others (that ran
madding up and downe) hearing a man speake
like themselves, followed onelv him : so that


they who when the worke began were all How
countrimen, before a quarter of it was finished, words
fled from one another, as from enemies and ^^^g^j
strangers : And in this maner did Men at the into
first make up nations : thus were words coynd language
into Languages^ and out of those Languages have
others beene molded since, onely by the mixture
of nations, after kingdomes have been subdued.
But I am now to speake of a People and a
Language, of both which (many thousands of
yeares since that Wonder wrought at Babell) the
world till now never made mention : yet con-
fusion never dwelt more amongst any Creatures.
The Bell-man (in his first Foyage "which, he made
for Discoveries) found them to bee savages^ yet
living in an Hand very temperate, fruitful!, full
of a Noble Nation, and rarely governed. The
Lawes, Manners and habits of these Wild-men,
are plainly set downe, as it were in a former
painted Table. Yet least happily a stranger may
looke upon this second Picture of them, who
never beheld The first, it shal not bee amisse (in
this place) to repeate over againe the Names of
all the Tribes into which they Divide themselves,
both when they Serve abroad in the open fields,
and when they lye in garrison within Tozvnes and
walled Citties.

And these are their Rankes as they
stand in order, mz.

Hookers, aftas Anglers


Wilde Roagues.
Triggers of Prancers.


The five Paillards.

rons of - .

rogues ^ora / ham-men.

Mad Tom alias of


Counterfet Ciankes.





Irish Toyles.







Autem Morts.




Into thus many Regiments are they now de-
vided : but in former times (above foure hundred
yeares now past) they did consist of five Squadrons

1. Cursitors, alias Vagabondes.

2. Faytors.

viz. 3. Robardsemen.

4. Draw-latches.

5. Sturdy Beggars.

And as these people are strange both in
names and in their conditions, so doe they speake
a Language (proper only to themselves) called
canting^ which is more strange. By none but
the souldiers of These tottred bandes is it
familiarly or usually spoken, yet within lesse
than fourescore yeares (now past) not a word of
this Language was knowen. The first Inventor
of it, was hang'd ; yet left he apt schollers
behind him, who have reduced that into Methode^
which be on his death-bed (which was a paire


of gallowes) could not so absolutely perfect as The
he desired. canting

It was necessary, that a people (so fast in- ^^nguage
creasing, and so daily practising new and strange
Fillanies), should borrow to themselves a speech,
wc (so neere as they could) none but themselves
should understand : and for that cause was this
Language, (which some call Pedlers French^)
Invented, to th'intent that (albeit any Spies
should secretly steale into their companies to
discover them) they might freely utter their
mindes one to another, yet avoide ye danger.
The Language therefore of canting, they study
even from their Infancy, that is to say, from the
very first houre, that they take upon them the
names of Kinchin Goes, till they are grown
Rufflersy or Upright men, which are the highest
in degree amongst them.

This / word canting seemes to bee derived
from the latine verbe {canto) which signifies in
English, to sing, or to make a sound with words,
thats to say to speake. And very aptly may
canting take his derivation a cantando, from
singing, because amongst these beggerly consorts
that can play upon no better instruments, the
language of canting is a kinde of musicke, and he
that in such assemblies can cant best, is counted
the best Musitian.

Now as touching the Dialect or phrase it
selfe, I see not that it is grounded upon any
certaine rules ; And no mervaile if it have none,
for sithence both the Father of this new kinde
of Learning, and the children that study to
speake it after him, have beene from the begin-


Deriva- ning and stil are, the Breeders and Norishers of
^^°°^^" a base disorder, in their living and in their
cantincT ^^^^^^^ '■ how is it possible, they should
language observe any Method in their speech, and especi-
ally in such a Language, as serves but onely to
utter discourses of villanies ?

And yet (even out of all that Irregularity y
unhansomnesse, and Fountaine oi Barbarisme) do
they draw a kinde of forme : and in some wordes,
(aswell simple as compounds) retaine a certaine
sake, tasting of some wit and some Learning.
As for example, they call a cloake (in the
canting tongue) a Togeman^ and in Latin, Toga
signifies a gowne, or an upper garment. Pannam
is bread : and Pants in Lattin is likewise bread,
cassan is cheese, and is a worde barbarously
coynd out of the substantive caseus which also
signifies a cheese. And so of others.

Then by joyning of two simples, doe they
make almost all their compounds. As for
example : Nab (in the canting tongae) is a head,
and Nab-cheate^ is a hat or a cap, Which word
cheate beeing coupled to other wordes, stands in
verry good stead, and does excellent service :
For a Smelling cheate, signifies a Nose : a Prat-
ling chete, is a tongue. Crashing chetes, are
teeth : Hearing chetes are Fares : Fambles are
Hands : and thereupon a ring is called a Fambling
chete. A Muffling chete, signifies / a Napkin. A
Belly chete, an Apron : A Grunting chete, a Pig :
A Cackling Chete, a Cocke or a Capon : A Quack-
ing chete, a duck : A Lozughing chete, a Coiv:
A Bleating chete, a Calfe, or a Sheepe : and so
may that word be marryedto many others besides.


The word Cove, or Coje, or Cuffin^ signifies Deriva-
a Man, a Fellow, &c. But differs something in tions in
his propertie, according as it meetes with other ^^,
wordes : For a Gentleman is called a Gentry langu^e
Cove, or Cofe : A good fellow is a Bene Cofe :
a Churle is called, a Quier Cufin ; Quier signi-
fies naught, and Cuffin (as I said before) a man :
and in Canting they terme a Justice of peace,
(because he punisheth them belike) by no other
name then by Quier cuffin, that is to say a
Churle, or a naughty man. And so. Ken signi-
fiing a house, they call a prison, a Quier ken,
thats to say, an ill house.

Many peeces of this strange coyne could I
shew you, but by these small stampes, you may
judge of the greater.

Now because, a Language is nothing els, then
heapes of wordes, orderly woven and composed
together : and that (within so narrow a circle as
I have drawne to my selfe) it is impossible to
imprint a Dictionarie of all the Canting phrases :
I wil at this time not make you surfet on too
much, but as if you were walking in a Garden,
you shall openly pluck here a flower, and there
another, which (as I take it) will be more de-
lightful] then if you gathered them by hand-

But before I lead you into that walke, stay
and heare a Canter in his owne language, making
Rithmes, albeit (I thinke) those charmes of
Poesie which (at the first) made the barbarous
tame, and brought them to civillity, can (uppon
these savage Monsters) worke no such wonder.
Yet thus he singes (uppon demaund whether any


A canting of his owne crue did come that way) to which
lyric and ^^ answers, yes (quoth he)

Canting / rithmes.

Enough — with bowsy Cove maund Nace,
Tour the Patring Cove in the Darkeman Case^
Docked the Dell, for a Coper meke.
His wach shall feng a Pr ounces Nah-chete
Cyarum, by Salmon, and thou shalt pek my J ere
In thy Gan, for my watch it is nace gere.
For the bene bowse my watch hath a ivin i^c.

This short Lesson I leave to be construed by
him that is desirous to try his skill in the
language, which he may do by helpe of the
following Dictionary ; into which way that he
may more redily come, I will translate into
English, this broken French that followes in
Prose. Two Canters having wrangled a while
about some idle quarrell, at length growing
friends, thus one of them speakes to the other,

A Canter in prose.

Stoive you beene Cofe : and cut benar whiddes
and bing we to Rome vile, to nip a boung : so
shall wee have lowrefor the bowsing ken, and when
we beng back to the Dewese a vile, we will filch
some Duddes of the Ruffmans, or mill the Ken
for a lagge of Dudes.


Thus in English. Transla-

^ tion

Stozve you, beene cofe : hold your peace good

j^nid cut benar whiddes : and speake better

^7jd bing we to Rome vile : and goe we to

To nip a boung : to cut a purse.
So shall we have lowre : so shall we have mony.
For the bowsing Ken : for the Ale-house.
And when we bing backe : and when we come

Jo the Dewse-a-vile : into the Country.
IVe will filch some duddes : we will filch some

Off the Ruffmans : from the hedges.
Or mill the Ken : or rob the house.
For a lagge of Duddes : for a bucke of clothes.

Now / turne to your dictionary.

And because you shall not have one dish
twice set before you, none of those Canting
wordes that are englished before shall here be
found : for our intent is to feast you with

The Canters Dictionarie.

Jut em, a church.
Autem-mort, a married woman.
Boung, a purse.
Bordey a shilling.


Vocabu- Half-a-Borde, six pence.
lary Bowse, drinke.

Bowsing Ken, an ale-house.

Bene, good.

Bene ship, very good.

Bufe, a Dogge.

B'lng a wast, get you hence.

Caster, a Cloake.

A Commission, a shirt.

Chates, the Gallowes.

To cly the Jerke, to be whipped.

To Catty to speake.

7b cutt bene, to speake gently.

To cutt bene whiddes, to speake good wordes.

To cutt quier whiddes, to give evil! language.

To cant^ to speake.

To couch a Hogshead, to lye downe a sleepe.

Drawers, Hosen.

Dudes, clothes.

Darhemans, the night.

Dez-:se-a-vile, the country.

Dup the Giger, open the dore,

F ambles, hands.

Fambling Chete, a Ring.

Flag, a Goat.

Glasiers, eyes.


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Online LibraryThomas DekkerThe guls hornbook : and The belman of London in two parts → online text (page 11 of 18)