Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug

Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug
From Punch, 31 Jan., p. 49. Being an Epistle from Toby Cracksman, in Newgate, to Bill Sykes.


Dear Bill, this stone-jug at which flats dare to rail, 1 prison
(From which till the next Central sittings I hail),
Is still the same snug, free-and-easy old hole,
Where Macheath met his blowens, and Wild floor’d his bowl 2 mistresses
In a ward with one’s pals, not locked up in a cell, 3 friends
To an old hand like me it’s a family hotel. 4 Notes


In the dayrooms the cuffins we queers at our ease, 5 warders, bamboozle
And at Darkmans we run the rig just as we please, 6 night
There’s your peck and your lush, hot and reg’lar each day. 7 meat and drink
All the same if you work, all the same if you play
But the lark’s when a goney up with us they shut 8 greenhorn
As ain’t up to our lurks, our flash patter, and smut; 9 tricks; talking slang; obscenity


But soon in his eye nothing green would remain,
He knows what’s o’clock when he comes out again.
And the next time he’s quodded so downy and snug, 10 imprisoned
He may thank us for making him fly to the jug. 11 up to prison ways
But here comes a cuffin—who cuts short my tale,
It’s agin rules is screevin’ to pals out o’ gaol. 12 writing

[The following postscript seems to have been
  added when the Warder had passed.]


For them coves in Guildhall, and that blessed Lord Mayor,
Prigs on their four bones should chop whiners I swear: 13 on knees should pray
That long over Newgit their Worships may rule,
As the high-toby, mob, crack and screeve model school: 14 highwayman; swell-mobsmen; burglars, forgers
For if Guv’ment wos here, not the Alderman’s Bench,
Newgit soon ’ud be bad as ‘the Pent,’ or ‘the Tench’. 15 Notes


The state of affairs described in this poem is now happily a thing of the past. Newgate, as a prison, has almost ceased to be. Only when the Courts are sitting do its functions commence, and then there is constant coming and going between the old city gaol and the real London prison of to-day, Holloway Castle.

Taken from Musa Pedestris, Three Centuries of Canting Songs and Slang Rhymes [1536―1896], collected and annotated by John S. Farmer.

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. . .
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My Mother
The High-Pad’s Frolic
The Dashy, Splashy.... Little Stringer
The Bould Yeoman
The Bridle-Cull and his little Pop-Gun
Jack Flashman
Miss Dolly Trull
The By-Blow Of The Jug
The Cadger’s Ball
Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug
The Leary Man
A Hundred Stretches Hence
The Chickaleary Cove
Blooming Æsthetic
’Arry at a Political Picnic
Rum Coves that Relieve us
Villon’s Good-Night
Villon’s Straight Tip To All Cross Coves
Culture in the Slums
. . .