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“Pedlar's French, a speache compact thirty yeares since “of English, and a great number of odde wordes of “their own divising without all order or reason, and “ yet such it is, as none but themselves are able to “understand. The first deviser thereof was hanged
by the neck, as a just reward no doubt for his de
sartes, and a common end to all of that profession ; “a gentleman (Mr. Thomas Harman) also of late hath “ taken great paines to search out the secret practizes “ of this ungracious rabble, and among other things “ he setteth down and pescribed twenty-two forts of “them, whose names it shall not be amisse to re“member, whereby each one may gather what wicked “people they are, and what villany remaineth in them.” For this list see the word Crew. This was the origin of the cant language, its terms have been collected from the following Treatises :
The Bellman of London, bringing to light the most notorious villanies that are now practised in the kingdom. Profitable for gentlemen, lawyers, merchants, citizens, farmers, masters of households, and all sorts of servants, to marke, and delightfull for men to reade. -Lege, Perlege, Relege.-1608.
Thieves falling out, true men come by their goods. —1615.
English Villainies, seven severall times prest to death by the printers ; but (still reviving againe) are now the eighth time (as the first) discovered by lanthorne and candle-light; and the helpe of a new cryer, called O-per-se O: Whose loud voyce proclaimes to all that will heare him, another conspiracy of abuses lately plotting together, to hurt the peace of the kingdom; which the bell-man (because he ther went stumbling i’th’ dark) could never see, till now. And because a company of rogues, cunning canting gypsies, and all the scumme of our nation, fight under their tattered colours. At the end is a canting dictionary to teach their language with canting songs.
A booke to make gentlemen merry, citizens warie, countrymen carefull. Fit for justices to reade over, because it is a pilot by whom they may make strange discoveries. ---London, 1638.
Bailey's, and the new canting dictionary, have also been consulted, with the History of Bamfield More Carew, the Sessions Papers, and other modern authorities ; as many of these terms are still professionally used by our present race of free-booters of different denominations, who seem to have established a systematical manner of carrying on their business ; a knowledge of them may therefore be useful to gentlemen in the commission of the peace.
The second part or burlesque terms, have been drawn from the most classical authorities ; such as soldiers on the long march, seamen at the cap-stern, ladies disposing of their fish, and the colloquies of a Gravesend-boat; many heroic sentences, expressing and inculcating a contempt of death, have been caught from the mouths of the applauding populace, attending those triumphant processions up Holborn-hill
, with which many an unfortunate hero, till lately finished his course, and various choice flowers have been collected at executions, as well as those authorized by the sentence of the law, and performed under the direction of the sheriff, as those inflicted under the authority and inspection of
that impartial and summary tribunal, called the Mob, upon the pick-pockets, informers, or other unpopular criminals.
In the course of this work many ludicrous games and customs are explained, which are not to be met with in any other book; the succession of the finishers of the law, the abolition of the triumph or ovation of Holborn-hill, with the introduction of the present mode of execution at Newgate, are chronologically ascertained; points of great importance to both the present and future compilers of the Tyburne Chronicle.
To prevent any charge of immorality being brought against this work, the Editor begs leave to observe, that when an indelicate or immodest word has obtruded itself for explanation, he has endeavoured to get rid of it in the most decent manner possible; and none have been admitted but such, as either could not be left out, without rendering the work incomplete, or, in some measure, compensate by their wit, for the trespass committed on decorum. Indeed respecting this matter, he can with great truth make the same defence that Falstaff ludicrously urges in behalf of one engaged in rebellion, viz. that he did not seek them; but that, like rebellion in the case instanced, they lay in his way, and he found them.
The Editor likewise begs leave to add, that if he has had the misfortune to run foul of the dignity of any body of men, profession, or trade, it is totally contrary to his intention; and he hopes the interpretations given to any particular terms that may seem to bear hard upon them, will not be considered as his sentiments, but as the sentiments of the persons by whom such terms were first invented, or those by whom they are used.
Additions and Corrections. FOR Alsasia read Alsatia.
GAMBS, thin, ill shaped legs; a corruption of the French
word jambes. After Gregorian tree insert the gallows. JAPANNED, ordained ; to be japanned, to enter into holy
orders, to become a clergyman ; from the colour of the
Japan ware, which is black. For rch face read rich face. TWADDLE, perplexity, a confusion, or any thing else, a
fashionable term that succeeded a bore. WHITE SWELLING, a woman with child is said to have a
ABBESS, or LADY ABBESs, a bawd, the mistress of a
brothel. ABEL-WACKETS, blows given on the palm of the hand
with a twisted handkerchief, instead of a ferula ; a jocular punishment among seamen, who sometimes play at cards for wackets, the loser suffering as many strokes as he has
AN ABIGAIL, a lady's waiting maid.
naked or poor man, also a lusty strong rogue.
ing academy, the lighters on board of which those persons are confined, who'by a late regulation are condemned to hard labour, instead of transportation. Campbell's academy, the same, from a gentleman of that name, who had the contract for finding and victualling the hulks or
lighters. ACCOUNTS, to cast up one's accounts, to vomit.