Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

John Clavell A Lost Prologue to The Beggars Bush ?1637

A Begger haunts, where he good Dole receives

The Nigard stoppes, for he, his prayers, deceaves,

Your Liberall Charrity from open Palmes

Makes us this confident to Aske your Almes

The Beggers have their Motives: Soe have wee

They crye their loss of Limbes, Age, Insanitiee

Theise our Infant days w’yee, yet: our Playes

(Though wee act none but such as got the Bayes)

Are Old: our habites too are meane: the same

Our action maimed, decrepit, feeble, Lame,

All movers of compassion: Let that fall

(as usuill) & your Charity mends all

For as A generall Rule wee ever make it

Not what? Or how we Act? But how you take it.

This prologue to Fletcher & Massinger’s play The Beggars Bush (1622) survives in one manuscript copy in the notebook of John Clavell, with notes, copy letters, epigrams and remedies.  They were probably written by Clavell in 1637 when he was in Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 24th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »


Sticky: Anthologies – why the OED and Brewer’s Dictionary were wrong

The Oxford English Dictionary gives under Beggars:

8. Special combinations. . . “beggar’s-bush, a bush under which a beggar finds shelter (name of ‘a tree near Huntingdon, formerly a noted rendezvous for beggars’ – Brewer), fig. beggary, ruin;”.

This is taken from E. Cobham Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1868 and all editions until recently when the entry was dropped) which gave;

“Beggars Bush. To go by beggar’s bush, or Go home by beggar’s bush – i.e. to go to ruin. Beggar’s Bush is the name of a tree which once stood on the left hand of the London road from Huntingdon to Caxton; so called because it was a noted rendezvous for beggars. These punning phrases and proverbs are very common.”

This is partly true and partly false – perhaps more correctly this was false when it was first published, but through the influence of these two reference works has become common usage. It has been applied as a post facto explanation for the existence of the place name — see for example Donnybrook, Dublin and the histories of Dublin). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: October 18th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Samuel Taylor Coleridge Beggars Bush 1815

It is fairly well known that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge liked the play by Fletcher and Massinger (though then regarded as by Beaumont & Fletcher). In Table Talk (17 February 1833) he was recorded as saying ”In the romantic drama Beaumont and Fletcher are almost supreme. Their plays are in general most truly delightful. I could read the Beggar’s Bush from morning to night. How sylvan and sunshiny it is!” However, he expressed reservations about their plots, which he described as “wholly inartificial” and lamented that no “gentleman and scholar can he found to edit these beautiful plays!” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , | No Comments »


Philip Henslowe c.1555-1616

Philip Henslowe provides a link between the area of a cluster of early Beggars Bush place names in Sussex and many of the early authors who used Beggars Bush in their works. He is best known for his “Diary”, which is the main primary source for the day to day workings of Elizabethan theatre. He was an entrepreneur with wide business and family links in London and Sussex. I cannot show that he ever used the phrase, but he must have been aware of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Beggars

The usual explanation of the place name Beggars Bush is that it was a haunt of highwaymen or beggars. However, the record of Beggars boush in 1573 undermines these later explanations at Dublin, Donnybrook. Many historical works on Dublin give this. I believe they are examples of the tendency to adopt restrospective romantic explanations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Prints

There are four early prints purporting to show Beggars Bush at Donnybrook. It is difficult to identify these with any recorded features or with each other. It seems that the two later prints take liberties with the features to present an artistic scene. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »


Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Baggotrath & Folly

At the date of the earliest record in 1573 Baggotrath Castle would have been a prominent landmark in the countryside south east of the city. As However, as the record refers to both it appears to exclude the possibility that the place name Beggars Bush was an Anglicisation of Baggotrath. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Clause “King of the Beggars”

Clause, King of the Beggars, is a central character in The Beggars Bush (1622) and the later versions of it. At the end of the play it is revealed that he is actually Gerrard, a deposed Earl of Flanders, who before the action starts has rescued his heir Florez and apprenticed him to an English merchant Goswin, whose business and name Florez has inherited. Gerrard has taken the disguise of Clause the beggar, but his natural authority has lead to his election as the King of the beggars, in the episode which formed the droll The Lame Commonwealth. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »


The Beggars Bush Mindmap

You will have gathered that this is not a simple linear narrative which starts at the beginning and goes on to an end. Even the flexibility of linking and tagging entries doesn’t allow me to present a coherent narrative. I have attempted to do that in a mindmap – like this site it is still incomplete and confusing but it is as complete and clear as I can make it.

The Beggars Bush Mindmap – March 2011

Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Filed under: Speculations | Tags: | No Comments »


Phil Quinn Beggars Bush: A study of liminality and social exclusion

Phil Quinn takes a look at the ubiquitous place name of Beggars Bush and finds darkness at the edge of town

Quinn Beggars Bush 3rd Stone 1999
(Right Click to open in a new tab)

Origins

As the purpose of this website is to put up for examination research into the place name Beggars Bush I felt I should include this article because it prompted my researches. Quinn’s hypothesis was that these were liminal sites on boundaries where begging or beggars were tolerated.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 17th, 2011 | Filed under: Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »