The House Breaker’s Song

The House Breaker’s Song
c. 1838
By G. W. M. REYNOLDS in Pickwick Abroad.


I ne’er was a nose, for the reg’lars came 1 police spy; share of the booty
  Whenever a pannie was done:— 2 house was burgled
Oh! who would chirp to dishonour his name,
And betrays his pals in a nibsome game 3 gentlemanly
  To the traps?—Not I for one! 4 police-officers
Let nobs in the fur trade hold their jaw, 5 Old Bailey pleaders
  And let the jug be free:— 6 prison
Let Davy’s dust and a well-faked claw 7 gunpowder, hand dextrous at thieving
For fancy coves be the only law, 8 thieves
And a double-tongued squib to keep in awe 9 double-barrelled gun
  The chaps that flout at me!


From morn till night we’ll booze a ken, 10 drink freely
  And we’ll pass the bingo round; 11 brandy
At dusk we’ll make our lucky, and then, 12 depart
With our nags so fresh, and our merry men,
  We’ll scour the lonely ground.
And if the swell resist our “Stand!”
  We’ll squib without a joke; 13 fire
For I’m snigger’d if we will be trepanned 14 transported
By the blarneying jaw of a knowing hand,
And thus be lagged to a foreign land,
  Or die by an artichoke. 15 hanging [hearty choke]


But should the traps be on the sly,
  For a change we’ll have a crack; 16 burglary
The richest cribs shall our wants supply— 17 houses
Or we’ll knap a fogle with fingers fly, 18 steal; handkerchief
  When the swell one turns his back. 19 skilful
The flimsies we can smash as well, 20 pass false notes
  Or a ticker deftly prig:— 21 watch
But if ever a pal in limbo fell, 22 prison
He’d sooner be scragg’d at once than tell; 23 hanged
Though the hum-box patterer talked of hell, 24 parson
  And the beak wore his nattiest wig. 25 magistrate; handsomest


G. W. M. Reynolds followed closely on the heels of Dickens when the latter scored his great success in The Pickwick Papers. He was a most voluminous scribbler, but none of his productions are of high literary merit.

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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. . .
Flashey Joe
My Mugging Maid
Poor Luddy
The Pickpocket’s Chaunt
On the Prigging Lay
The Lag’s Lament
Nix My Doll, Pals, Fake Away
The Game Of High Toby
The Double Cross
The Thieves’ Chaunt
The House Breaker’s Song
The Faking Boy To The Crap Is Gone
The Nutty Blowen
The Faker’s New Toast
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
. . .