Chapter IX: Of Provision Made For The Poor
Such as are idle beggars through their own default are of two sorts, and continue their estates either by casual or mere voluntary means: those that are such by casual means are in the beginning justly to be referred either to the first or second sort of poor afore-mentioned, but, degenerating into the thriftless sort, they do what they can to continue their misery, and, with such impediments as they have, to stray and wander about, as creatures abhorring all labour and every honest exercise. Certes I call these casual means, not in the respect of the original of all poverty, but of the continuance of the same, from whence they will not be delivered, such is their own ungracious lewdness and froward disposition. The voluntary means proceed from outward causes, as by making of corrosives, and applying the same to the more fleshy parts of their bodies, and also laying of ratsbane, spearwort, crowfoot, and such like unto their whole members, thereby to raise pitiful and odious sores, and move the hearts of the goers-by such places where they lie, to yearn at their misery, and thereupon bestow large alms upon them. How artificially they beg, what forcible speech, and how they select and choose out words of vehemence, whereby they do in manner conjure or adjure the goer-by to pity their cases, I pass over to remember, as judging the name of God and Christ to be more conversant in the mouths of none and yet the presence of the Heavenly Majesty further off from no men than from this ungracious company. Which maketh me to think that punishment is far meeter for them than liberality or alms, and sith Christ willeth us chiefly to have a regard to Himself and his poor members.
Unto this nest is another sort to be referred, more sturdy than the rest, which, having sound and perfect limbs, do yet notwithstanding sometime counterfeit the possession of all sorts of diseases. Divers times in their apparel also they will be like serving men or labourers: oftentimes they can play the mariners, and seek for ships which they never lost. But in fine they are all thieves and caterpillars in the commonwealth, and by the Word of God not permitted to eat, sith they do but lick the sweat from the true labourers' brows, and bereave the godly poor of that which is due unto them, to maintain their excess, consuming the charity of well-disposed people bestowed upon them, after a most wicked and detestable manner.
It is not yet full threescore years since this trade began: but how it hath prospered since that time it is easy to judge, for they are now supposed, of one sex and another, to amount unto above 10,000 persons, as I have heard reported. Moreover, in counterfeiting the Egyptian rogues, they have devised a language among themselves, which they name "Canting," but others, "pedler's French," a speech compact thirty years since, of English and a great number of odd words of their own devising, without all order or reason, and yet such is it as none but themselves are able to understand. The first deviser thereof was hanged by the neck - a just reward, no doubt, for his deserts, and a common end to all of that profession.
A gentleman also of late hath taken great pains to search out the secret practices of this ungracious rabble. And among other things he setteth down and describeth three and twenty sorts of them, whose names it shall not be amiss to remember whereby each one may take occasion to read and know as also by his industry what wicked people they are, and what villainy remaineth in them.
The several disorders and degrees amongst our idle vagabonds.
1. Rufflers. 2. Uprightmen. 3. Hookers or anglers. 4. Rogues. 5. Wild rogues. 6. Priggers or pransers. 7. Palliards. 8. Fraters. 9. Abrams. 10. Freshwater mariners or whipiacks. 11. Drummerers. 12. Drunken tinkers. 13. Swadders or pedlers. 14. Jarkemen or patricoes.
Of the women kind.
1. Demanders for glimmar or 2. Bawdy-baskets. [fire. 3. Mortes. 4. Autem mortem. 5. Walking mortes. 6. Doxies. 7. Dells. 8. Kinching mortes. 9. Kinching cooes.