11. Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, and all upon the lay

  No. 11

Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers,1 and all upon the lay,2
In Tothill Fields3 Gay sheep walks, like lambs ye sport and play.
Rattling up your Darbies, I am hither at your call,
I am Jigger dubberhere and your welcome to Mill Doll5
                  with my tow re row de dow.  &c  &c

At your insurance office6, the Flats,7 you’re taken in.
The game you plaid my kiddies,8 your always sure to win
The time you touch the shiners9 the numbers up you break
With your insurance policy, I’d not insure your neck.
                                   with my — &c  &c


Editor's Notes:

1. Scamps: highwaymen; Pads: footpad, a highwayman on foot, rather than on horse; Divers: pickpockets 

2. the lay: any kind of criminal activity

3. Tothill fields: tothill prison

4. jigger dubber: warden

5. mill doll: prison

6. insurance office: this is not a common term in flash language, but seems to come from the idea in The Beggar's Opera that double-dealing thief-takers and fences like Peachum offfered insurance to thieves, but could also be the means of their arrest.

7. the Flats: the jail

8. kiddies: fashionable, flashy, young men,

9. shiners: gold coins, or money


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The song originated in the pantomime The Choice of Harlequin or The Indian Chief. This was a play written by James Messink with music by Michael Arne, first performed on 26 December 1781 at Covent Garden. "Ye Scamps, Ye Pads, Ye Divers" was sung by John Edwin in the part of the Bridewell Keeper. The full version of the song had the following lyrics:

Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, and all upon the lay,
In Tothill-fields gay sheep walk, like lambs ye sport and play.
Rattling up your darbies, come hither at my call,
I am Jigger-dubber here and your welcome to Mill Doll
                                  With my tow, derow, &c,

The game you've play'd my kiddy, your always sure to win
At your insurance-office, the flats, you’ve taken in,
First you touch the shiners--the number up, you break;
With your insuring policies, I’d not insure your neck.
                                  With my tow, derow, &c,

The French with trotters numble could fly from English blows,
And they've got nimble daddles, as monsieur plainly shews.
Be thus the foes of Britain bang'd; ay, thump away, monsieur;
The hemp you're beating now, will make you a solitaire.
                                  With my tow, derow, &c,

My peepers! who;ce we here? Why, this is sure black Moll;
Why, ma'am, you're of the fair sex, and welcome to mill doll;
The cull with you who;d venture into a snoozing-ken,
Like blackamoor Othello, should -- "put our the light, and then --"
                                  With my tow, derow, &c,

I say, my flashy coachman, that you'll take better care,
Not for a little bub, come the slang upon your fair;
Your jazy pays the garnish, unless the fees you tip;
Tho' you're a flashy coachman, here the Gagger holds the whip.
                                  With my tow, derow, &c,


     We're scamps, we're pads, &c.

A lengthy account of this play can be found in The Lady’s Magazine, 1781, Vol 12, pp. 697-702. The score for the entire pantomime was published (presumably around 1782). 

Ye Scamps Ye Pads

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The song appeared in The Festival of Momus which must have been published after December 1781, as it records the song as "Bridewell's Welcome" and states "Sung by Mr Edwin in the Choice of Harlequin"  (there is not publication date on the book itself). It then appeared in a number of song books including The Skylark: Being an Elegant Collection of the Best And Newest Songs in the English Language (J. Evans, London, 1791, p. 195), and the Vocal Library p. 451.

Broadside prints can be found in the Bodleian and the Madden Collection (Reel 2; Frame 0996). The song also appears in John Farmer’s Musa Pedestris (1896).

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