Daily (?) Captain Cox — “The Hy-Way To The Spitl-House”

Pedigree:    In his transcription for “Remains of Early Popular Poetry”,   W.C. Hazlitt  transcribes the printer’s mark from the surviving copy of this booklet in rhyme:   “Enprynted at London in the Fletestrete at the rose garland by Robert Copland”.      There is no date.     However, Robert Copland is believed to be the father or brother of printer Wyllyam Copland, who began printing “at the rose garland” circa 1547, which would serve as a “soft” later date.     The content of the poem chronologically places it at some point after Henry VIII / Parliament (?) enacted a statute (circa 1531) which stated, in part:  “concernynge how aged, poore, and impotent persones, compelled to lyue (live) by almes,  shal be ordred:  and howe vacaboundes (vagabonds), and mighty stronge beggers  shall be punyshed.”


Synopsis :     Here, I transcribe part of Frederick Furnivall’s excellent and comprehensive summary, from “Captain Cox: His Books and Ballads”–

“After  a Prologue, Copland tells us that about a fortnight after Hallowmas  or All Saints’ Day (the beggars’ jubilee), he took refuge from a storm under the porch of a hospital (St. Bartholomew’s), and while there, talked to the porter, and saw a crowd of poor miserable people, and beggars, gather at the gate.   (The hospital then gave temporary lodging to almost all the needy, as well as a permanent home to the deserving poor and sick;  and Sisters attended to them.)   Copland asks the Porter about the different classes of people who come to the hospital: and in their long talk–the poem is 1007 lines–all classes of the poor, the ne’er-do-weels, and the rascals, are described and discusses: twenty-three sets of them, I make.”


Availability:     There is a copy of this work in Volume 4 of  William Carew  Hazlitt’s collection “Remains of Early Popular Poetry of England”, digitized here:



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