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

Rainsford St Theatre Dublin The Royal Merchant or Beggars Bush 1734

In her memoir and history A Narrative of a Residence in Ireland 1814 to 1815 (Henry Colburn, London, 1817, p.68) the writer Anne Plumptre recorded the following incident in Dublin, which seems to have taken place in 1734.

In response to an extravagant production of Henry VIII at the new Aungier Street theatre the rival Rainsford Street theatre put on a play she describes as The Royal Merchant or Beggars Bush “in which a mock pageant of the coronation of King Clause threw such complete ridicule on the serious one in Henry the Eighth that the latter ceased to attract. Thus the keen edge of the satire being blunted, King Clause also speedily sank into oblivion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 21st, 2012 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , | No Comments »


Izaak Walton The Compleat Angler 1655

Another source which would have kept the phrase alive is Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, one of the most popular of all English books, and one with much interest to the countryman. It was first published in 1653, and continuously reprinted into the twentieth century.

In the second edition (1655) a group of beggars who, being unable to resolve an argument amongst themselves, decide to refer the dispute for resolution by “old father Clause, whom Ben Jonson in his Beggars Bush created King of their Corporation”. There is no doubt this is the Fletcher & Massinger Beggars Bush, which Walton has misattributed. It shows, and may have helped sustain, the popularity of the play and of the character Clause. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 10th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »


The Droll The Lame Common-Wealth 1673

This is the droll from The Wits, by Francis Kirkman (1673) which is based on  the text of Act 2, Scene 1 of Beggar’s Bush, by Fletcher & Massinger.The text is take from The Wits, or Sport Upon Sport”, ed. J. J. Elson (1932). The spelling is uncorrected. The notes on canting are based on the glossary in A V Judges, The Elizabethan Underworld. [1]
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Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Sticky: Francis Kirkman The Lame Commonwealth in The Wits 1662 & 1673

The Wits, or Sport for Sport a collection of drolls (short plays) included one based on Act II Scene 1 of The Beggars Bush called The Lame Common-Wealth. This was adapted for informal and small scale performance anywhere. It may have been important in the distribution of Beggars Bush as a place name. At the very least it is an intriguing byway and example of the remarkable entrepreneurial career of the publisher Francis Kirkman. The frontispiece is widely reproduced, and inaccurately described, but demonstrates the popularity of the character Clause from the play & droll.
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Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


John Fletcher & Philip Massinger The Beggars Bush 1622

“The Beggars Bush” is a play written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger in 1622, but commonly included in the “Beaumont and Fletcher” canon. Through performance, print, characters and development of the original text it was likely to have made a substantial contribution to the survival and distribution of the literary phrase. As to the eponymous Beggars Bush itself the play is vague. It is a meeting place for the beggar characters, some of whom, it is revealed, are not beggars at all. It does not attempt to portray a real location – the play is not set in England but in and around Bruges.

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Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »