The Lag’s Lament

The Lag’s Lament
By H. T. R. in Vidocq’s Memoirs, Vol III. 169.


Happy the days when I vorked away,
  In my usual line in the prigging lay, 1 picking pockets
Making from this, and that, and t’other,
  A tidy living without any bother:
When my little crib was stored with swag, 2 plunder
  And my cly vas a veil-lined money bag, 3 pocket
Jolly vas I, for I feared no evil,
  Funked at naught, and pitched care to the devil.


I had, beside my blunt, my blowen, 4 money; mistress
  ‘So gay, so nutty and so knowing’ 5 Notes
On the wery best of grub we lived, 6 food
  And sixpence a quartern for gin I gived;
My toggs was the sportingst blunt could buy, 7 clothes; money
  And a slap-up out-and-outer was I.
Vith my mot on my arm, and my tile on my head, 8 hat
  ‘That ere’s a gemman’ every von said.


A-coming avay from Wauxhall von night,
  I cleared out a muzzy cove quite; 9 drunken
He’d been a strutting avay like a king,
  And on his digit he sported a ring,
A di’mond sparkler, flash and knowing,
  Thinks I, I’ll vatch the vay he’s going,
And fleece my gemman neat and clever,
  So, at least I’ll try my best endeavour.


A’ter, the singing and fire-vorks vas ended,
  I follows my gemman the vay he tended;
In a dark corner I trips up his heels,
  Then for his tattler and reader I feels, 10 watch; pocketbook
I pouches his blunt, and I draws his ring, 11 pockets his money
  Prigged his buckles and every thing,
And saying, “I thinks as you can’t follow, man,”
  I pikes me off to Ikey Soloman. 12 ran off


Then it happened, d’ye see, that my mot,
  Yellow a-bit about the swag that I’d got,
Thinking that I should jeer and laugh,
  Although I never tips no chaff 13 indulge in banter
Tries her hand at the downy trick,
  And prigs in a shop, but precious quick
“Stop thief!” was the cry, and she vas taken
  I cuts and runs and saves my bacon.


“Then,” says he, says Sir Richard Birnie, 14 Notes
  “I adwise you to nose on your pals, and turn the 15 inform
Snitch on the gang, that’ll be the best vay 16 betray
  To save your scrag.” Then, without delay, 17 neck
He so prewailed on the treach’rous varmint
  That she was noodled by the Bow St. sarmint 18 persuaded
Then the beaks they grabbed me, and to prison I vas dragged 19 police; arrested
  And for fourteen years of my life I vas lagged. 20 transported


My mot must now be growing old,
  And so am I if the truth be told;
But the only vay to get on in the vorld,
  Is to go with the stream, and however ve’re twirld,
To bear all rubs; and ven ve suffer
  To hope for the smooth ven ve feels the rougher,
Though very hard, I confess it appears,
  To be lagged, for a lark, for fourteen years.

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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. . .
The Milling Match
Ya-Hip, My Hearties!
Sonnets For The Fancy: After The Manner Of Petrarch
The True Bottom’d Boxer
Bobby And His Mary
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
. . .