The Maunder’s Initiation

The Maunder’s Initiation
From The Beggars Bush by JOHN FLETCHER; also in The New Canting Dict:—“Sung on the electing of a new dimber damber, or  king of the gypsies”.


Cast your nabs and cares away,
  This is maunder’s holiday: 1 beggar
  In the world look out and see,
  Where so blest a king as he
    (Pointing to the newly-elected Prince.)


At the crowning of our king,
  Thus we ever dance and sing:
  Where’s the nation lives so free,
  And so merrily as we?


Be it peace, or be it war,
  Here at liberty we are:
  Hang all harmanbecks we cry, 2 constables
  We the cuffins quere defy. 3 magistrates


We enjoy our ease and rest,
   To the fields we are not pressed:
   And when taxes are increased,
   We are not a penny ’sessed.


Nor will any go to law,
  With a maunder for a straw,
  All which happiness he brags,
  Is only owing to his rags.

“Now swear him”—

I crown thy nab with a gage of ben bouse,4 I pour on thy pate a pot of good ale
And stall thee by the salmon into clowes,5 And install thee, by oath, a rogue
To maund on the pad, and strike all the cheats, 6 To beg by the way, steal from all,
To mill from the Ruffmans, Commission, and slates, 7 Rob hedge of shirt and sheet,
Twang dells i’ th’ stiromel, and let the Quire Cuffin
And Harman Beck strine and trine to the ruffin. 8 To lie with wenches on the straw, so let all magistrates and constables go to the devil and be hanged!


John Fletcher (1579—1625), dramatist, a younger son of Dr. Richard Fletcher afterwards bishop of London, by his first wife Elizabeth, was born in December 1579 at Rye in Sussex, where his father was then officiating as minister. A ‘John Fletcher of London’ was admitted 15 Oct. 1591 a pensioner of Bene’t (Corpus) College, Cambridge, of which college Dr. Fletcher had been president. Dycc assumes that this John Fletcher, who became one of the bible-clerks in 1593, was the dramatist. Bishop Fletcher died, in needy circumstances, 15 June 1596, and by his will, dated 26 Oct. 1593, left his books to be divided between his sons Nathaniel and John.

The Beggar’s Bush was performed at Court at Christmas 1622, and was popular long after the Restoration.

Fletcher was buried on 29 Aug. 1625 at St. Saviour’s, Southwark. ’In the great plague, 1625,’ says Aubrey (Letters written by Eminent Persons, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 352), ’a knight of Norfolk or Suffolk invited him into the countrey. He stayed but to make himselfe a suite of cloathes, and while it was makeing fell sick of the plague and died.’

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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Rhymes Of The Canting Crew.
The Beggar’s Curse
Towre Out Ben Morts
The Maunder’s Wooing
A Gage Of Ben Rom-Bouse
Bing Out, Bien Morts
The Song Of The Beggar
The Maunder’s Initiation
The High Pad’s Boast
The Merry Beggars
A Mort’s Drinking Song
A Beggar I’ll Be
A Budg And Snudg Song
The Maunder’s Praise Of His Strowling Mort
The Rum-Mort’s Praise Of Her Faithless Maunder
The Black Procession
Frisky Moll’s Song
The Canter’s Serenade
. . .