The Flash Man of St. Giles

The Flash Man of St. Giles
b. 1790
From The Busy Bee.

  I was a flash man of St. Giles, 1 Notes
  And I fell in love with Nelly Stiles;
  And I padded the hoof for many miles 2 walked
  To show the strength of my flame:
  In the Strand, and at the Admiralty,
  She pick’d up the flats as they pass’d by, 3 victims
  And I mill’d their wipes from their side clye, 4 stole handkerchiefs; side pocket
  And then sung fal de ral tit, tit fal de ral,
  Tit fal de ree, and then sung fal de ral tit!


  The first time I saw the flaming mot, 5 girl, whore
  Was at the sign of the Porter Pot,
  I call’d for some purl, and we had it hot,
  With gin and bitters too!
  We threw off our slang at high and low, 6 talking noisily
  And we were resolv’d to breed a row
  For we both got as drunk as David’s sow, 7 Notes
  And then sung fal de ral tit, etc.


  As we were roaring forth a catch,
  (’Twas twelve o’clock) we wak’d the watch,
  I at his jazy made a snatch, 8 wig
  And try’d for to nab his rattle! 9 steal
  But I miss’d my aim and down I fell,
  And then he charg’d both me and Nell,
  And bundled us both to St. Martin’s cell
  Where we sung fal de ral tit, etc.


  We pass’d the night in love away,
  And ’fore justice H— we went next day,
  And because we could not three hog pay, 10 shilling
  Why we were sent to quod! 11 prison
  In quod we lay three dismal weeks,
  Till Nell with crying swell’d her cheeks,
  And I damn’d the quorum all for sneaks
  And then sung fal de ral tit, etc.


  From Bridewell bars we now are free,
  And Nell and I so well agree,
  That we live in perfect harmony,
  And grub and bub our fill! 12 eat and drink
  For we have mill’d a precious go 13 made a rich haul
  And queer’d the flats at thrums, E, O,
  Every night in Titmouse Row,
  Where we sing fal de ral tit, etc.


  All you who live at your wit’s end,
  Unto this maxim pray attend,
  Never despair to find a friend,
  While flats have bit aboard!
  For Nell and I now keep a gig,
  And look so grand, so flash and big,
  We roll in every knowing rig 14 are up to every move
  While we sing fal de ral tit, etc.


Stanza II, line 7. Drunk as David’s sow = beastly drunk. Grose (Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue) says: One David Lloyd, a Welshman, who kept an ale-house at Hereford, had a sow with six legs, which was an object of great curiosity. One day David’s wife, having indulged too freely, lay down in the sty to sleep, and a company coming to see the sow, David led them to the sty, saying, as usual, “There is a sow for you! Did you ever see the like?” One of the visitors replied, “Well, it is the drunkenest sow I ever beheld.” Whence the woman was ever after called “Davy’s sow.”

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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. . .
When My Dimber Dell I Courted
The Oath Of The Canting Crew
Come All You Buffers Gay
The Potato Man
A Slang Pastoral
Ye Scamps, Ye Pads, Ye Divers
The Sandman’s Wedding
The Happy Pair
The Bunter’s Christening
The Masqueraders
The Flash Man of St. Giles
A Leary Mot
The Night Before Larry was Stretched
The Song of the Young Prig
The Milling Match
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
. . .