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 »
This example is unusual because it contains a naming story that is almost contemporaneous, and very close to first hand. It illustrates how place names may be given through trivial incidents. Although this one did not survive into official records, such naming by landowners or those associated with them could easily transfer into and be perpetuated by paper records. It is also unusual as it occurs during a period when there were few uses of the phrase in literary works. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
“I will take home the Lady to my Charge,
And these her Servants, and leave you my Cloke,
To travel in to Beggers Bush!”
Ben Jonson stood at the centre of the theatrical and literary life early modern England. He was connected with many writers who used the phrase Beggars Bush. Beggars Bush is mentioned in his late play when the character Peni-Boy senior reveals himself to his errant son, Peni-Boy junior. The usage is characteristic of the literary use of the phrase by Jane Anger and others. Peni-Boy junior, expecting an inheritance will instead fall into penury through his own folly. It is a state of being, not a geographical location.
Posted: April 9th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: Ben Jonson, Dutch, Henry Chettle, Henry Porter, Izaak Walton, John Day, John Taylor, Literary, Londons Ordinary, Philip Henslowe, The Oath, The Play, Thomas Nashe, canting, pubs | No Comments »
“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.
Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: Ben Jonson, Clause, Dutch, Francis Beaumont, Francis Kirkman, Henry Chettle, Izaak Walton, John Day, John Fl, John Taylor, Literary, Londons Ordinary, Performance Chronology, Philip Henslowe, Philip Massinger, Publishing Chronology, The Lame Commonwealth, The Play, beggars, geuzen | No Comments »
” . . . almost brought to beggars bush . . .”
The usage is consistent with the literary use. We know the phrase was in use in Oxford before 1623 from the Twyne Correspondence. It seems likely to have to originated with Mabbe, who was a faithful but not literal translator. The phrase does not appear in an edition of 1706 described as being newly “done into English”. In Mabbe’s translation of La Celestina (as The Spanish Bawd) by Fernando de Rojas he uses the similar phrase, “She was as well known to them all, as the begger knows his dish”.
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