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

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but artificially quilted together with cloth and
bumbast, and with such foldes that it may easily
be wrapt up in a little roome : the stirrops goe
with vices and ginnes, that one may put them
into a paire of gloves, so likewise doe the spurres,
and then a little white leather head stall and
reynes, with a small Scottish brake or snaffle, all
of them so neatly framed, that a small bag will
containe them. And looke how the Lance-man
rides post when he sits upon his prey, so when the
Trayler is in the saddle, away hee gallops as if
everie Jade of seven / nobles price were a winged
Pegasus^ selling him as farre off from the place
where hee stole him, as possibly hee can.

Now because these Prl^gers though they
breake the Lawe in one point, yet they make it


whole in another ; and very orderly come to the The
Toll booke, bringing 2 (of their owne religion) querries
civilly attired (fitting the place) who not only
affirm but offer to depose that they know the
horse to be his owne that sels it ; yet are these
caitifs no better then olde knights of the post,
that will perjure themselves for pots of Ale, and
never saw perhaps either the Prigger or the
Prancer before these wicked Elders, having for
villanies beene banished out of Westminster Hall,
or for their perjuries stood and lost their eares
on the pillorie, retire themselves into the
Countrie, and professe this kind of life, being by
the horse-stealers called (though they are farre
unworthy of so good a name) Querries : leaving
whom (with the horsemen their good Lords
and masters) either to an amendment of manners,
or to the mercy of the Hangman, who must teach
them to ride this wodden curtail ; let us, because
wee are now lifting them out of the saddle, turne
over a new leafe, and read a lecture in the Lift'
ing Law.

The Lifting Latu,

The Lifting Law is not the Law of Porters,
who live by Lifting, and cry to one another,
lend mee your hand when honestly they are to
carry a burthen for a penny, and safely to
deliver it to the owner backe againe : but this
law teacheth a kind of lifting of goods cleane
away. In such Liftings are three sorts of
Lea^vers used to get up the baggage, ^/z.

He that first stealeth the par cell is called The Lift.


Various He that receives it is the Marker.

*^Tiff ^^ ^^^^ stands without and carries it away, is

the Sen tar.

The goods thus purchased, is called Garbage :
which Garbage is sometime plate, or Jewels,
sometimes pieces of velvet, sometimes cloakes
or lawyers gownes, sometimes one thing, some-
times another.

The Practitioners of this Lifting Law, take
severall degrees, for some of them (and they are
the Punies) are but Base Rogues^ that / live by
Lifting quart pots, platters, and such trash out of
tipling houses, under colour of spending two or
three pottes of Ale. These are the Rascallitie
of this Heard. But the Gentleman Lifter
walkes with his Marker at his heeles, as if he
were a Country Gentleman of 500. a yeare, &
comming into a Mercers or Gold-smiths shop,
presently casts by his cloake, (to colour his
intents) the Marker standing bare-headed not
farre from him, his worship then cals for a bolt
of Satten, Velvet, cloth of gold, or silver, or any
other of the richest commodities, and not liking
the pile, colour, or bracke, his eye must
have the choice of more ; the Marker in the
meane time whilest the Mercer is busie and
turnes his backe, hath the Garbage thrust
towardes him by the Lifter, and conveies it
under his cloake : the Sentar who walkes in the
streete, passing then in great haste by the doore,
is called backe by the Marker, as if he were
such a Gentlemans, Knights, or Noble-mans
servant : but the Sentar sweares he cannot stay,
the Marker tels him hee must needes have one


word with him, and so stepping along with him A bat-
some part of the way, secretly conveies the fowler
Garbage to the Sentar.

Other Lifts there are, that haunt Nobk-mens
houses, at Marriages, or solemne Revelings, in
Christmas, and the Hals of companies when
they make feasts, at which times they lift away
goblets, or other pieces of plate, Napery, or any
thing worth the ventring for.

Others ply Counsellours chambers, that are
well cliented, and sit downe in the outer roomes
like Country men, having blacke boxes by their
sides, and papers in their handes : but their
attendance is not for counsell, nor to pay any
fees, but to Lift away gownes, or cloakes, by
the Rules of their owne Latu. The Hke pair
of Indentures doe they draw in shops, betweene
Scriveners and themselves.

Another more cunning then all these Liftings^
is when in an evening, a Batfoiuler walkes up
and downe the streetes, and counterfets that hee
hath let fall a ring, a Jewell, or a peece of gold,
requesting some Prentice, (when there is but one
in the shop) to lend him his candle a while to
find his losses, who simply doth so, but the
Lifter poring a good while and not meeting with
his ring, lets the candle in the end slip out of
his fingers, and whilest the prentice steps in to
light it againe, the Sentar or he / himselfe steales
what garbage they can finger, and are gone in
the meane time.

You have another kind of Lifter, or more
properly a cunning night shifter, and it is thus :
You shall have a fftUow, that in an evening or


The night time, or some time at noone dayes, as hee
Ufter who likes the company, and sorts his opportunity,
^^'^'^^ that will wilfully drop sometime a spoone, other
while a ring, or else some peece of coyned
money, as the likenes of gold, and silver, and
so spurning it afore them in the view of others,
to the end they should cry halfe part ; which he
taking hold of, sayth, nay by my troth,
what will you give me and take it all ? and so
some greedy fooles offer thus much, thinking it
gold, which the Lifter takes, as knowing it
counterfeit, and so are they cunny-caught.

Then is there a kind of Lift^ who like a
Jugler doth all his feates of himselfe, not caring
for the helpe of others ; he goes attired like a
Servingman, booted and spurd and dirtie as if
hee had new ridden ; his haunts are the best
townes in the countrie upon market dayes, but
most commonly Faires : the birdes he watches
for are Knights, Esquires, or Gentlemen, that
light at the greatest Innes, whither most resort
is ; who shall no sooner come from horse, but
this Lifter is readie to hold his stirrop, or to
walke his horse, as officiously as if he wore his
cloth : So that to the Guest he seemes to be one
belonging to the house, and to the servants or
the house hee appeares to bee a follower of the
Gentleman newly alighted. But the Guest
being departed from his Inne, to the towne or
into the faire, backe comes this counterfeit
Bleivcoat, running in all haste for his masters
cloake-bag or portmantua, and cals to the ostler or
chamberlaine by his name to deliver it, because
some things must bee taken out for his Knight,


or the Gentleman his maister, that are in it. The
The prey is put (hereupon) into the Vultures nests for
tallants, and away flies he presently to his nest, ®
to feede and fat his ravenous gorge with the
garbage which he hath gotten.

But what Nests thinke you they flie to ?
Marry to the house either of some notorious
treble-chinned baude (in whose beddes commonly
these Serpentes lie lurking) who keepes a
tipling house, and brings up yong Trugs
(under the colour of filling Kannes) that are
harlots to the Lifts ; or else to the shops of
certaine Brokers, who traffick onely in this kind
of Merchandize, and / by bils of sale, (made in
the name of Robin- Goodfelloiv and his crue,)
get the goods of honest Citizens into their
hands, either detaining them so long in their
chests till they be no more sought after, or else
so altering them that ye Owners shall hardly
know them. Thus the Lift and his mates
prepare the lime-twigs and catch the bird, but
the Bazvde and Broker, eate the fleshe and give
the other onely the feathers.

The High Latu.

All this while have I read unto you the
beggarly law, and base common Lawes of Villany,
by which the Out-Laives of a kingdome, and
Out-casts of a well-governed Common-tuealth,
maintaine their damnable courses. Now muct
you cast up your eyes and looke aloft, if you
have a desire to behold the picture of The
High Laiv : which taketh that name from the


mg^- high exploits that are acted by it : The
waymen Schollers that learne it are called Higb Lawyers ;
yet they never walke to Westminster to pleade,
though oftentimes they are called to the Barre^
but then it is to have them Hold up their hands, that
the Hangman may tell them their fortune. All
the former Lawes are attained by wit, but the High
Law stands both upon Wit and Manhood.
For the High Laiv is nothing else but taking a
purse by the High- way side, so that to bee a
good practitioner in this Lazv, a man needs no
more but a bold sterne looke, a good heart and a
good sword ; the cases that he is to plead upon,
is onely Stand and De/iver. All travellers are so
beaten to the trials of this Latu, that if they
have but rode over Shooters Hi//, or Salishury
F/aine, they are as perfect in the principles of it,
as if they had beene 7. years in the company of
High Lawyers. The Counsel/ a High Lawyer
gives, is common, but his fees are unreasonable,
for he strips his Clients of all. The motions
which hee makes are both in Terme and out of
Tcrme ; I shall not need therefore to open any
of his Cases. But onely will tell you thus
much, that this high-law is comprehended in
five Fc/umes, viz.

The theefe that commits the Robbery, and is
cheife clerke to Saint Nicho/as, is called the
High Lawyer.

He that setteth the watch is a Scripper.

He that standes Centinel/ and does watch, is
an 0/ie,

Hee that io robbed, is the Martin.

When he yieldeth, it is called Stooping,


All the shires in England have scene these Places
H'lgh-laive matters tryed, and therefore if any where
would know them or the professors of them to ^^C'^.^^S"
a haire, let him but step into the Old Baily at practised
any Sessions, and he shall heare more.

Th sacking Lanv.

The companion of a theefe is commonly a
Whore ; it is not amisse therefore, to pinion
them together ; for what the theefe gets the
strumpet spends. The trade of these Tale-
hearers goes under the name of the Backing-
law ; and rightly may it be called sacking, for
as in the sacking of a City, all the villanies m
the world are set abroach, so when a Harlot
comes to the sacking of a mans wealth and re-
putation (for she besiegeth both together) she
leaves no stratagem unpractised to bring him to
confusion. Westminster and Holhorn have
chambers full of these students of the Sacking-
law. In Clerkenwell, they had wont and are
still well cliented ; White Friers is famous for
their meeting : The Spittle flourishes with
the yong fry, that are put to it to learne it.
Sacks come to these milles every houre, but
the Sacking-lanve empties them faster then a
Miller grindes his bushels of corne. He that
hath a lust to practise this law, must bee
furnished with these five bookes, 'viz.

The Baud, who if she be a woman is called
a Pandaresse,

The Apple-squire^ who is to fetch in wine.

The Whorey who is called the Commodity.


An old The Whore-house, which is called a Tru^g-inz-
trick.;,, ''^ ^


These five Authors are so well knowne, and

have bin so turned over leafe by leafe, that

every man (almost) that lives in sight of the

smoake of the Citie, hath them at his fingers

ends ; or if he cannot, it is an easie matter to

finde them by a Table. I will onely refer you

to the suburbs. But there is a second part of

this Sac king-law., and that instructs Punches to

attire themselves neatly in summer evenings,

and about ten or eleven of the clock at nighr to

walke up and downe the most peopled streetes

of the citie, very soberly and gingerly, til the

wine (by / one Gull or other) be offered, which

with a little intreaty she takes ; but being in the

midst of their bowles, or perhaps the silly cony

being trayned home to a lodging, where he falles

to Nxbling ; in comes a Ruffian with a drawne

rapier, calles the Punch (as she is) damned

whore, askes what Rogue that is. and what he

does with his wife. The conclusion of all this

counterfeit swaggering being a plot betwixt this

panderly ruffian and the whore to geld the sillv

foole of all the money hee hath in his purse, and

sometimes to make him (rather than his credit

should be called into question) to seale a bill or

bond for other sums of money at such and such

daies, and so send him packing, when he hath

paide too deare for a bad dish of meate which

he never tasted : the base Applesquire and his

yong mistresse, laughing to see what a wood-

cocke they puld, and sharing the feathers be-

tweene them. But when such comedies (of the


Sacking-Laiv) as these, are playd, then the The cut-
Actors have other names than are set downe purse
before, and these they be :

The whore is then called the Trafick,
The man that is brought in, is the Simpler.
The Ruffian that takes him napping, is the

The Figging Law.

The Parliament of these hell-hounds, it
seemes wil soone breake up, for they stand now
onely upon the last lawe ; which they call
Figging- Latve : in making of which law, two
persons have the chiefe voices, that is to say,
the Cut-purse and the Pick-pockety and all the
branches of this law reach to none but them and
such as are made free denizens of their incor-
poration. This Figging Lawe (like the body
of some monstrous and terrible beast) stands
upon ten feete, or rather lifts up proudly ten
Dragon-like heads, the names of which heads
are these, viz.

He that cuts the purse is called the Nip.

He that is halfe with him is the Snap or the

The knife is called a Cuttle-bung.

He that picks the pocket is called a Foist.

He that faceth the man, is the Stale.

The taking of the purse is called Drawing.

The spying of this villanie is called Smoaking
or Boiling.

The purse is the Bung,

The money the Shelles.



The The act doing, is called striking,
quirks of This Figging Lazue hath more quirkes and
^^a^w q^i'i^ii'^i^s in it than any of the former ; it is as
dangerous to meddle with as the High-Iaiv, in
pleading of whose cases men are at Daggers
drawing : the schoUers of this Art are cunning
Sophisters, and had neede to have more eies
then two in one head, because the Arguments
they hold, and their bold villanies which they
practise are argued upon and justified to his teeth
with whom they contend. The Foist and the
Nip, (that is to say, the Pocket diver and the
cut purse) are pewfellowes together and of one
religion, but differ in some points. A purse
well lined is the wet Eele they both bob for,
but they strive to catch it by the taile after
several! fashions. For the Nip workes with his
knife, the Foist with his hand : the Nip cuts
the purse, the Foist drawes the pocket : both
their occupations are taught them by the Divell,
yet they both brag of the excellencie of them,
and are ready sometimes to stab one another,
about defending which is best, for the Foist
counts himselfe the better man, and therefore is
called (by the livery of his company) a gentle-
man Foist^ and so much scornes the title of
a cut purse, that he weares not a knife about
him to cut his owne meate, lest hee be held
in suspition to be a Nip, which he esteemes
the basest office in the whole Army of

These schollers of the Figging laive, are
infinite in number, their Colledge is great, their
orders many, and their degrees (which are


given to them by the Seniors of the house) very The
ancient, but very abominable. slang of

The language which they speak is none of ^^® ^^^'
those which came in at the confusion of Jongues, P"^^^^
for neither infidell nor Christian (that is honest)
under standes it, but the Dialect is such and so
crabbed, that seven yeeres study is little enough
to reach to the bottome of it, and to make it run
off glib from the tongue : by meanes of this
Gibrish, they know their owne nation when
they meete, albeit they never sawe one another
before ; and so conformeable are they to the
ordinances of the Brotherhoode, that whatsoever
ye ivicked Elders amongst them shall prescribe,
Actum I est^ tis a lawe, and they will not breake
it : yea not the proudest of them dare be so
bold as to exercise his Art in any other place
but in those that are appointed to him, nor once
presume to set his foote into anothers walke,
but by licence of the signiory.

For that purpose therefore, (as if a whole
kingdome were theirs) they allot such countries
to this Band of Foists, such townes to those, and
such a City to so many Nips : whereupon some
of these Boote-halers are called Termers^ and
they ply Westminster Hall. Michaelmas terme
is their harvest and they sweat in it harder then
reapers or hay-makers doe at their workes in
the heate of sommer : no Counsellor, Attorney,
Petifogger nor Sollicitor is up earelier then
they : nor at the hall sooner than they : when
clients begin to come crowding in. Watermen
ply not their fares more nimbly then the Nips
and Foists bestir themselves to pick up their


Ubiquity shelles : the hall and ye old palace are their
ofthe j/i^gj^ 2Lnd they worke in them like bees: ye

cut-purse ^^cfjgq^gf chamber, Star-chamber, Kings-bench
and Common pleas, and Chancery are ye beds of
flowers, to which they fly humming to and fro
continually to suck the honey of gold and silver.
If a poore client doe but stand by his Lawyer,
whilst he is pleading, and drawes out his purse
to pay fees for counsell, or to the Court for
dispatch of his businesse, these Furies are sure
to bee at his elbowe watching (with hawkes
eyes,) on which side he puts up his purse ; to
that side they fly, and if their tallents can but
touch it, it is their owne. Others of them have
all the flesh and fish markets allowed them for
their walkes, as Cheapside, East-cheape, the
Shambles, both Fishstreetes, the Stockes, and ye
Borough in Southwarke ; in which places
these faithfull Stewards of Lucifers houshold,
cheapen all commodities, only to note, what
money, wives or servants that come to buy, have
in their purses, and where they put it up, which
beeing well observed, the Stall plies his market,
and followes him or her (whose silver is con-
demned) till they come to a presse of people,
then does the Stall keepe a thrusting and a
justiing, whilst in the meane time the Foist is
either in their pocket or the Nip hath the
purse fast by the strings.

Others haunt Playhouses only and the Beare-
garden : some have their precinct lying in the
walkes of Poules, their houres of / meeting
there being between lo and ii, ye strokes they
strike being sometimes in the middle I/e if it be


in Terme time, when ye are full, but They
most commonly, at the doores of the Church, ^^^^
which they will choake, and strive for passage, ^ifurche':
whilst another does the feate. A running at
Tilt ; the Lord Maiors day, any great shooting,
any fray, any solemne arraignement, or execu-
tion, is better to these Hell hounds than a
quarter day is to a Landlord or than 5 sessions
are to the hangman. Yea so fearless are these
Divells to be throwne headlong, and quick into
the pit of damnation, that even in Gods owne
house and the sacred Temple^ doe they desperately
commit their villanies, standing most devoutly
with eies elevated up to heaven, before the
preacher, where the presse of people is thickest,
whilst their hands are nibling in honest mens
pockets for their purses, who are careles of
such worldly matters there, as not mistrusting
that any so bad-minded dare enter into so holy
a place. These Nips and Foists goe oftentimes
cleanly away with the shelles which they get,
but oftentimes are they dogged by certaine fol-
lowers (called Cloyers) who hang uppon them like
Burres, and are more troublesome than waspes:
for no sooner is a Bung drawne, but the Cloyer
steps in for his Tenths which hee calles
Bnappage ; if the Nip denie Snappage the
Cloyer forthwith Boyles him, that is, bewraies
him or seaseth on his cloake.

You must understand likewise, that both of
N'tps and Foists there are two sortes, for there
be City Nips and country Nips, whose office
is to haunt nothing but Faires : these country
Nips never come into London to doe any peece


Town of service, but at Barthohnenvtide onely.

a^d Betweene these two sects, is mortall enmity ;

country i^^^ •£ ^.^^ (j-^.^ ^^^-^^ ^p^ ^^^ ^^ ^^ country

^gj. i^o/i/j- in London he forthwith labours and laves
waite to smoake or Boyle him, the like does
the country "Nip or Foist by him of the City.
There are also women Foists and Nips as well
as men, but farre more dangerous then the men :
All the troopes of both sexes beeing subject to
the discipline of the Grand Nips and Foists^ and
from whom, the better to receive directions
both what to doe, and what quarters to keepe
(for they shift their walkes according to the
pleasure of the cheefe Rangers) they have a
certaine house, sometimes at one end of the towne
sometimes at another, which is their hall ; at
this Hall the whole company do meete / very
orderly, by which meanes whensoever any
notable or workmanlike Stroke is stricken,
though it were as farre as the North-borders,
yet can the rest of the Fig-boles here resident in
London, tell by whom this worthy Act was

At this solemne meeting in their Hall, they
choose Wardens and a Steward : the Wardens
office is to establish wh ilesom lawes to keepe
life in their rotten common wealth, and to
assigne out to every man his Stations. The
Treasurers office is very truly (though he be an
arrant theefe) to render an account of such
moneies as are put into his hands uppon trust :
for of every purse (that is cleanly conveied and
hath good store of Shelles in it) a ratable pro-
portion is deliverd (in Banck as it were) to the


Treasurer, to the intent that when any of them Whit-
is taken and cast into prison, a Flag of truce tington
may presently be hung out, and composition College
offered to the wronged party, thereby to save a
brother of the society irom riding Westward.
This had wont to be an order amongst them :
But now the Under keepers of Newgate^ (if
complaint bee made to them for the losse of any
purse) have a trick to get a warrant, into which
warrant they put the names of 9 or ten of the
most notorious Foists and Nips that are free of
their Gaole (which they call Whittington
Coliedge,) and those Nips or Foists doe the
Jaylors nip, till the money (perhaps double) be
restored, albeit not one of them yt are specified
in the warrant were guilty of the fact : This
trick doth greatly impoverish the tradesmen of
this mystery, and may in time utterly overthrow
the students of the Figging Law.

The Five Jumps at Leapfrog,

The whole volume of these detestable Laives
is now read over ; to catch a heate therefore
after so long sitting, let us exercise our selves a
while at a new play, called The Jive Jumps at
Leapfrog. The property of the game at Leap-
frog, is (as every prentice and Carter knowes)
for one man to stoope, and to let another man
come over him ; so in these Jumpes the running
cheaters sweate only to make a man stoope so
lowe, that they may breake his backe, and then
they ride over his miserie with laughter.

The first Jump is called Horse-coursing, and


Horse- that is done thus : A fellow in good clothes and
coursing y^/'nh^ an honest face to the eie, hires of a carier
^"^ a Nag to ride along with him to Cambridge,
stones Oxfordf Norivich, or any great towne of trade :
but let the journey be never so long, this Rtder
will end it in a fornoone at most ; for whilst
the Carier is busie about his teeme on the way
and looking to his charge, my horsecourser steps
aside into some by-lane, and lights at some
paltry towne neere the citty where he will lie,
till he have in capons and wine eaten up the
Carriers beast alive ; and then departs on foote,
sending the poore man word where his prancer
stands at rack, and Manger, who if he will have

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Online LibraryThomas DekkerThe guls hornbook : and The belman of London in two parts → online text (page 9 of 18)