Frisky Moll’s Song

Frisky Moll’s Song
By J. HARPER, and sung by Frisky Moll in JOHN THURMOND’S Harlequin Sheppard produced at Drury Lane Theatre.


  From priggs that snaffle the prancers strong,
   [1] steal horses
    To you of the
Peter Lay,    [2] carriage thieves
I pray now listen a while to my song,
How my
Boman he kick’d away.    [3] fancy man or sweetheart


  He broke thro’ all rubbs in the whitt,
   [4] obstacles; Newgate
And chiv’d his darbies in twain;
   [5] cut fetters
  But fileing of a rumbo ken,
   [6] Breaking into a pawn-broker’s
Boman is snabbled again.    [7] imprisoned


Frisky Moll , with my rum coll,    [8] good man
Wou’d Grub in a bowzing ken;
   [9] eat; ale-house
But ere for the scran he had tipt the cole,
   [10] refreshments; paid
Harman he came in.    [11] constable


  A famble, a tattle, and two popps,
   [12] ring; watch; pistols
Had my
Boman when he was ta’en;
  But had he not bouz’d in the diddle shops,
   [13] gin-shops
    He’d still been in Drury-Lane.


John Harper (d. 1742), actor, originally performed at Bartholomew and Southwark fairs. On 27 Oct. 1721 his name appears as Sir Epicure Mammon in the Alchemist at Drury Lane. Here he remained for eleven years, taking the parts of booby squires, fox-hunters, etc., proving himself what Victor calls ‘a jolly facetious low comedian’. His good voice was serviceable in ballad opera and farce. On account of his ‘natural timidity’, according to Davies, he was selected by Highmore, the patentee, in order to test the status of an actor, to be the victim of legal proceedings taken under the Vagrant Act, 12 Queen Anne, and on 12 Nov. 1733 he was committed to Bridewell as a vagabond. On 20 Nov. he came before the chief justice of the Kings Bench. It was pleaded on his behalf that he paid his debts, was well esteemed by persons of condition, was a freeholder in Surrey, and a householder in Westminster. He was discharged amid acclamations on his own recognisance.

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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