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?
Page  65

A Ruffler.

A Ruffler ever goes under the pretence of a maimed Soldier, if he stroles the Country, he lets not a Gentlemans house escape, having a Catalogue of them all along as he goeth for his more convenient calling upon them, he carrieth in his pocket (for the help of his memory) a List of the old Commanders in the late Civil Wars which were noted Royalists, neither is he ignorant of some of their brave actions; he singles out the Heirs of such deceased Commanders, and then tells them a formal story, that they had the honor to serve under the Command of their worthy Fa∣ther in such a Regiment, at such a fight, as Nase∣by, Edghill, Newberry, Marston-Moor, &c. that in that service he was lamed, that he hath since suf∣fered all the misfortunes of an old Cavalier, and that being unable to work, he is now forced to beg because he scorns to steal; and thus he goeth from one to another, having a good tongue in his head, and his tale at his fingers ends: but by the way, if he meets Country people coming late from Mar∣ket, or any other feasable booty, he will not stick to seise it, though he be hanged for his pains; and thus the Ruffler is metamorphosed into a Low-Pad.

If his residence be in the City, then his usual stands are in Lincolns-Inn-Fields or Covent Gar∣den, where he scorns to beg of any under a person of quality, and then nimbly hops or stumps to a Coach side, beseeching their Honors to commise∣rate the pittiful condition of a great sufferer for his Page  66Majesty, and hath the impudence in a commanding way to crave an Alms, if he is denied, he shakes the head and crys, 'Tis a sad thing that an old cripled Cavalier should be suffer'd to beg for a Maintenance, and a young Cavalier that never heard the whistle of a bullet should ride in his Coach.

If he seeth a Gentleman coming that is his con∣stant customer, he very civilly vaileth his bonnet, without asking a Farthing, and this stops my Gen∣tleman more forceably than all the important pray∣ers of a wide mouthed clamorous mendicant; ha∣ving received his boon, he pronounceth as many blessings as will stand between Temple-Bar and West∣minster; for the cunning Rogue knoweth this to be the way to incourage him the more to a contri∣bution hereafter.

I have been credibly informed that these Covent-Garden Rufflers have their Quarter Customers, and will never call on their Benefactors till their full time of payment be expired, and then wherever they meet them, they will not let them be quiet till they have discharged that which by custome they claim as a due debt: these Rogues get a great deal of money, and some of them spend it as freely, as for example, I knew a Gentleman a good Bene∣factor to one of these Rufflers who had been at Spee∣rings Ordinary, and having lost all his money, go∣ing home one Saturday in the Evening, was accost∣ed by his Pentioner, a subtle Ruffler, who perceiving his Masters countenance somwhat cloudy, ask'd him boldly what was the matter with him; the Gen∣tleman slighting his question, bid him be gone for a saucy fellow; nay, be not angry, quoth the Ruf∣fler, you have been at play I will lay my life on't and lost your Money that you are so pettish; what then, said the Gentleman? What then, quoth the Page  67Ruffler, why never trouble your self, I will lend you fifty pieces, if you will come and dine with me to morrow.

This strangely surprized the Gentleman, who to try the truth of what he heard, promis'd him, he would dine with him: according to the time and place appointed by the Ruffler, the Gentleman came; the house was very poor to outward view, but within very neat and handsome, a cloath was spread, but could not perceive the least spark of fire whereby any meat could be dressed; whilst he was musing to himself on the entertainment he was like to have, in came the Wife with a large Sir-Loyn of Beef, the Son with two Stubble Geese in a dish, the Daughter with a stately Turky, and a Servant Maid with a very large Tart; look you Sir, said the Ruffler, this is all the cheat you are like to have, wherefore fall to; the Gentleman had much a doe, to perswade the Father, the Daughter should sit down, but with much importunity it was granted: I heard him say, though his appetite was as keen as a Turkish Scymiter, yet he forgot to eat, his mind running on other flesh, such as he protested exceeded, in his opinion, all that he had ever seen before, such was this Maidens beauty, not set off with any artificial imbellishments, but naturally shining in its own Orb; and least her person should be despised, by reason of the baseness of her Fathers profession, she was Gentilely clad, but better adorn'd within with the most approved prin∣ciples of a good education, befitting so good a Ge∣nius. Wine both French and Spanish was not want∣ing; and Dinner being ended, to be as good as his word or better, the Ruffler lent the Gentle∣man fifty Guynnyes, on this condition, he would not divulge the kindness received.

Page  68

There is a story somwhat like this of the blind Beggar of Bednall-Green, but how true I cannot tell, but this relation carrieth so much of truth in it, that thereon I will pawn my reputation.