Strolling mort

Imagining the cant of gypsies in Proteus, Stephen mulls some language he has encountered in Richard Head's The Canting Academy (London, 1673), a work which sought to document and translate the "thieves' cant" or "rogues' cant" of the 17th century English criminal underclass. All of the unfamiliar language in the paragraph beginning with the "red Egyptians," as well as the quatrain that follows, comes from a song that Head reproduced in his book, "The Rogue's Delight in Praise of his Strolling Mort." Part of the sexy quatrain returns to accost Cissy Caffrey in Circe.

JH 2015

Portrait of Richard Head on the frontispiece of his novel, The English Rogue Described in the Life of Meriton Latroon, 2nd ed. (London: Francis Kirkman, 1666). Source: Wikimedia Commons.