Nix My Doll, Pals, Fake Away

Nix My Doll, Pals, Fake Away
By W. HARRISON AINSWORTH, being Jerry Juniper’s chaunt in Rookwood..

In a box of the stone jug I was born, 1 cell; Newgate
Of a hempen widow the kid forlorn, 2 woman whose husband has been hanged; child
        Fake away! 3 work away!
And my father, as I’ve heard say,
Was a merchant of capers gay, [4 ]
Who cut his last fling with great applause.
Nix my doll, pals, fake away! 5 never mind, friends
To the time of hearty choke with caper sauce. 6 hanging
        Fake away!
The knucks in quod did my schoolmen play, 7 thieves; prison
        Fake away!
And put me up to the time of day, 8 taught me thieving
Until at last there was none so knowing,
No such sneaksman or buzgloak going, 9 shoplifter; pickpocket
        Fake away!
Fogles and fawnies soon went their way, 10 silk handkerchiefs; rings
        Fake away!
To the spout with the sneezers in grand array, 11 pawnbrokers; snuffboxes
No dummy hunter had forks so fly, 12 pocket-book; nimble fingers
No knuckler so deftly, could fake a cly, 13 pickpocket; steal
  Fake away!
No slourd hoxter my snipes could stay, 14 inside pocket buttoned up
  Fake away!
None knap a reader like me in the lay. 15 steal a pocketbook
Soon then I mounted in swell street-high,
Nix my doll, pals, fake away!
Soon then I mounted in swell street-high.
And sported my flashest toggery, 16 best made clothes
  Fake away!
Fainly resolved I would make my hay,
  Fake away!
While Mercury’s star shed a single ray;
And ne’er was there seen such a dashing prig,
With my strummel faked in the newest twig, 17 hair dressed; fashion
  Fake away!
With my fawnied famms and my onions gay, 18 hands bejewelled; seals
  Fake away!
My thimble of ridge and my driz kemesa, 19 gold watch; lace-frilled shirt
All my togs were so niblike and plash. 20 clothes; fashionable; fine
Readily the queer screens I then could smash. 21 forged notes; pass
  Fake away!
But my nuttiest blowen one fine day, 22 favorite girl
  Fake away!
To the beaks did her fancy-man betray, 23 magistrates; sweetheart
And thus was I bowled at last,
And into the jug for a lag was cast,
  Fake away!
But I slipped my darbies one morn in May, 24 handcuffs
And gave to the dubsman a holiday, 25 warder
And here I am, pals, merry and free,
A regular rollicking romany. 26 gypsy


Ainsworth in his preface to Rookwood makes the following remarks on this and the three following songs:—“As I have casually alluded to the flash song of Jerry Juniper, I may be allowed to make a few observations upon this branch of versification. It is somewhat curious with a dialect so racy, idiomatic, and plastic as our own cant, that its metrical capabilities should have been so little essayed. The French have numerous chansons d’argot, ranging from the time of Charles Bourdigné and Villon down to that of Vidocq and Victor Hugo, the last of whom has enlivened the horrors of his ‘Dernier Jour d’un Condamne’” by a festive song of this class. The Spaniards possess a large collection of Romances de Germania, by various authors, amongst whom Quevedo holds a distinguished place. We on the contrary, have scarcely any slang songs of merit. This barreness is not attributable to the poverty of the soil, but to the want of due cultivation. Materials are at hand in abundance, but there have been few operators. Dekker, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Ben Jonson, have all dealt largely in this jargon, but not lyrically; and one of the earliest and best specimens of a canting-song occurs in Brome’s ‘Jovial Crew;’ and in the ‘Adventures of Bamfylde Moore Carew’ there is a solitary ode addressed by the mendicant fraternity to their newly-elected monarch; but it has little humour, and can scarcely be called a genuine canting-song. This ode brings us down to our own time; to the effusions of the illustrious Pierce Egan; to Tom Moore’s Flights of ‘Fancy;’ to John Jackson’s famous chant, ‘On the High Toby Spice flash the Muzzle,’ cited by Lord Byron in a note to ‘Don Juan;’ and to the glorious Irish ballad, worth them all put together, entitled ‘The Night before Larry was stretched.’ This is attributed to the late Dean Burrowes, of Cork. [See Note, p. 220 Ed.]. It is worthy of note, that almost all modern aspirants to the graces of the Musa Pedestris are Irishmen. Of all rhymesters of the ‘Road,’ however, Dean Burrowes is, as yet, most fully entitled to the laurel. Larry is quite ‘the potato!’

“I venture to affirm that I have done something more than has been accomplished by my predecessors, or contemporaries, with the significant language under consideration. I have written a purely flash song; of which the great and peculiar merit consists in its being utterly incomprehensible to the uninformed understanding, while its meaning must be perfectly clear and perspicuous to the practised patterer of Romany, or Pedler’s French. I have, moreover, been the first to introduce and naturalize amongst us a measure which, though common enough in the Argotic minstrelsy of France, has been hitherto utterly unknown to our pedestrian poetry.” How mistaken Ainsworth was in his claim, thus ambiguously preferred, the present volume shows. Some years after the song alluded to, better known under the title of ‘Nix my dolly, pals,—fake away!’ sprang into extra-ordinary popularity, being set to music by Rodwell, and chanted by glorious Paul Bedford and clever little Mrs. Keeley.

Taken from Musa Pedestris, Three Centuries of Canting Songs and Slang Rhymes [1536―1896], collected and annotated by John S. Farmer.

previous * next


. . .
Ya-Hip, My Hearties!
Sonnets For The Fancy: After The Manner Of Petrarch
The True Bottom’d Boxer
Bobby And His Mary
Flashey Joe
My Mugging Maid
Poor Luddy
The Pickpocket’s Chaunt
On the Prigging Lay
The Lag’s Lament
Nix My Doll, Pals, Fake Away
The Game Of High Toby
The Double Cross
The Thieves’ Chaunt
The House Breaker’s Song
The Faking Boy To The Crap Is Gone
The Nutty Blowen
The Faker’s New Toast
My Mother
The High-Pad’s Frolic
The Dashy, Splashy.... Little Stringer
. . .