The canting academy, or, The devils cabinet opened wherein is shewn the mysterious and villanous practices of that wicked crew, commonly known by the names of hectors, trapanners, gilts, &c. : to which is added a compleat canting-dictionary, both of old words, and such as are now most in use : with several new catches and songs, compos'd by the choisest wits of the age ...
Head, Richard, 1637?-1686?

The Ʋpright Man.

THis was a name antiently used for the Princi∣pal of this Stroling, Maunding and Prigging Crew, and he was elective; when this Upright man dyed (which was seldome otherwise then on the Gallows,) then all of this cursed Fraternity meant an appointed place, and their chose the lu∣stiest stoutest Rogue in the whole pack, to be their chief Leader, whom they called Upright man; and as the Women loved him for his great limbs, whose bodies must be at his devotion when ever he Page  60uncontroulably, so the Men had him in particular esteem, in that he was more a Rogue than any, and could when he sate as President of their Coursel, in great extremity, direct them best how to secure themselves from Justices, Constables, and other Officers; and find out, and contrive notorious plots how they might abse the Country by filch∣ing and stealing, to the further continuance of their loathsome Bestiality; This fellow carries a shor Truncheon in his hand, which he calls his Filch∣man; whatsoever is gotten by the whole Society he shares in it.

This Upright man shall sometimes have in com∣pany with him, young and old, males and females, to the number of forty and upwards, and for the ease of some of the women and children, shall have an Ass or two, or some poor Jade which shall car∣ry a pair of Panniers for the women as they grow weary by travail to put their children in them, which smell more rank then stale fish in Summer time coming from Yarmouth to Norwich in a pair of Dossers.

Some of the Gang are very dly clad with bells, and long sticks with ribbonds hanging at the end angling, with many other mad contrived toyes, meerly to draw the Country people about them wherever they came, and by pretending to tell For∣unes get some mony of the foolish, by way of gift, and some by picing of pockets.

To be sure wherever they came, the poultry and sucking pigs went to wrack, neither did Lambs, Sheep, and Calves escape their hands, if they had any convenience to effect their purpose; all which they handle more severely than a Malefactor having broke Prison and retaken by the Keeper of New∣gate.

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If a Goose come among hem, they have a trick to make him so wife, as never to be taken for a Goose again. Having seized the Prey, they leave the bloody part to be acted by their Morts or Wo∣men; who are so accustomed to nastiness, that when they have drest their Geese and Hens as well as possibly they can, you may then swear those Birds are foul. The end of some large Heath or Fir-bush, Common under some Covert, as an Hedge or so forth is their Rendezvouz, where ha∣ving supt after their fashion, a consultation is had how to lie that night, if in the height in the fields or in Hay time under an Hay-cock distributing themselves every one with his Mort as he thinks most convenient; if it be at the latter end of sum∣mer, to avoid cold dews and now and then rain, they then apply themselves to some outlying Barn, and if the owner should discover them he is fearful of molesting them, lest they do him a greater mis∣chief, by making his straw-thatcht Mansion too hot to hold him: and now by the way give me leave to tell you a Notable story, very pertinent to this purpose.

A Crew of Gypsies continuing for some time a∣bout one Town in Glocestershire, but divided in the day, though united in the night, all congregated to one appointed place, which was a convenient Barn for their purpose, about an half mile from this Town: Hither they resorted night after night, and in the morning still early got up and separated themselves, looking the Barnes door by the same art they unlock'd it.

This Gentlemans Threshers wonder'd still when they came to see the sheafs of Corn so disorder'd and flung here and there, and in the strangest con∣fusion imaginable; at first they suspected this dis∣order Page  62hapned by their own negligence or forgetful∣ness, but finding it so for a continued time; they resolved to acquaint their Master with what they had observed. The Master being informed of what had hapned, would not believe his servants till he had experimented the truth thereof himself; and thereupon goes to his Barn with his two servants, and there caused them to place before his eyes eve∣ry sheaf in good order, and so locking the door went home; the next morning he calls up his Thre∣shers and away he went to the Barn, and there found the sheafs tumbled and scatter'd up and down, as his men had told him; he very much wonder'd how this should be done, and his Barn door locked; however, he was resolved to try once more, and so caused the sheafs to be placed in order as formerly, and as formerly he found them the fecond time so disorder'd, any, the third and fourth time; this somwhat startled him, and com∣ing home, concluded some evil spirit owed him a spight, in thus disordering and spoiling his Corn: The Threshers hearing their Masters judgment of this accident, on the morrow following, instead of going to thresh, their Master coming down from his chamber, finds his men gazing one upon the o∣ther in his Hall, whereas he thought they were at the Barn, and demanding the reason hereof; they freely told him, that since they understood from his own Mouth that he believed the Devil haunted the Barn, the Devil should take the Barn ere they would be so mad to bear him Company; The Gen∣tleman smiled at their ridiculous fears; and to depose them utterly of any such belief, produced several good arguments, that it could not be, and so prevalent they were, as to perswade them to go to the Barn, with this proviso, he would go with Page  63them and stay there an hour, agreed it was and a∣way they went, where as before they found all things in the like disorder, this made the poor fel∣lows scratch the head, not knowing what was best to be done; at length the Master incouraging them, to work they went the Master standing by his full hour and so went home; he was scarce got within the doors but his men at his heels, and so out of breath that they gaped for air to keep them alive, like a fish out of his proper Element.

The Gentleman seeing them in this strange po∣sture began to be in as much amazement as they were; the good Gentlewoman his Wife coming out accidentally, and seeing the Husband and his two men in this gaping staring posture, knew not what to think, but concluded them mad or possest by some foul fiend, till she asked one of them what he made there; Why forsooth (quoth he) you would not believe our Barn was haunted, but now I will swear it, for if ever any body saw the Devil I am sure we did, I was never scared so in my life with a broad face, a crooked nose and a pair of Goggle eyes. It seems as soon as their Master was gone, a very large dark gray Owle that sate upon a Beam just over against them, was upon the merry pin, or had a mind to be merily disposed, sell a hooting and hollowing after a very extravagant rate, some∣times hissing; sometimes snapping, and (I know not what joyful crochet got into his noddle) then fell to a loud hooping; the men that before thresht in fear, were now scared out of their wits, 'twas e∣nough for them they saw a blackish thing with a broad glouting Countenance, sitting on a Beam, hooting at them, which made them thus betake themselves to their heels, each of them bidding the Devil take the hindmost.

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The report of these fellows alarm'd the Town, possessing many with a belief that this might be a truth as to the haunting the Barn. A bold fellow in the Town, and one that had been a Trumpeter, makes his address to the owner of the Barn, desiring his leave to lie in the Barn one night; it was granted by the Gentleman with thanks; and the Trumpeter went that very night to the Barn with his Trumpet, and locking the Barn to him, placed himself in a corner thereof convenient for his ob∣servation.

About the usual time of these Gypsies repairing to the Barn, which was somewhat late, they came and enter'd the Barn, every one endeavouring to settle himself as well as he could; the Trumpeter seeing this, resolv'd to try whether they were De∣vils or no by their dislike to Musick, and thereup∣on sounded his Trumpet, at the sound whereof, out ran the Gypsies as the Devil had drove them, and the Trumpeter after sounding, the people there a∣bout ran out to know what was the matter that a Trumpet should be sounded at that time of night; the Trumpeter informed them that he had conjured the Devils out of the Barn they had so haunted, and that they might now dispose of them as they pleased, whereupon they seized as many as they could and securing them till next morning, by a Justice they were order'd to be whipt out of Town: thus with my story I have ended my discourse con∣cerning an Ʋprightman; the next we are to take cognizance of, is