The Knave of Harts

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The Knave of Harts, Supplication to Card-Makers  (1613) 
by Samuel Rowlands

The Knave of Harts: Haile Fellowe, well met. London: Printed for John Bache. 1613.

We are abused in a great degree,
For there’s no knaves so wronged as are we
By those that chiefely should be our part-takers:
And thus it is my maisters, you card-makers,
All other knaves are at their owne free-will,
To brave it out, and follow fashion still
In any cut, according to the time,
But we poore knaves (I know not for what crime),
Are kept in pie-bald suites, which we have worne
Hundred of yeares, this hardly can be borne.
The idle-headed French devis’d us first,
Who of all fashion-mongers is the worst:
For he doth change farre oftener than the moone;
Dislikes his morning suite in th’ after-noone.
The English is his imitating ape,
In every toy the tailers-sheares can shape,
Come dropping after, as the divell entices,
And putteth on the French-man’s cast devises;
Yet wee (With whom thus long they both have plaid)
Must weare the suites in which we first were made.
It is no marvell every base consort,
When he hath lost his money, will report
All ill of us, and giveth these rewards,
A poxe upon this scurvy, lowsie cards:
How can we choose but have the itching gift,
Kept in one kinde of cloaths, and never shift?
Or to be scurvy how can we forbeare,
That never yet had shirt or band to weare?
How bad I and my fellow Diamond goes,
We never yet had garter to our hose,
Nor any shooe to put upon our feete,
With such base cloaths, ‘tis e’en a shame to see’t:
My sleeves are like some Morris-daucing fellow,

My stockings idiot-like, red, greene, and yeallow:
My breeches like a paire of lute-pins be,
Scarse buttocke-roome, as every man may see.
Like three-penie watch-men three of us doe stand,
Each with a rustic browne-bill in his hand:
And Clubs, he holds an arrow, like a clowne,
The head-end upward, and the feathers downe.
Thus we are wrong’d, and thus we are agriev’d,
And thus long time we have beene unreliev’d,
But, card-makers, of you Harts reason craves,
Why we should be restrain’d, above all knaves,
To weare such patched and disguis’d attire?
Answere but this, of kindnesse, we require:
Show us, (I pray) some reason how it haps,
That we are ever bound to weare flat-caps,
As though we had unto a citie’s trade
Bin prentises, and so were free-men made.
Had we blacke gownes, upon my life I sweare,
Many would say that we foure serjeants were:
And that would bring card-play in small request
With gallants that were fearefull of arrest:
For melancholy they would ever be
A serjants picture in their hands to see:
Others that Clubs and Spades apparrell notes,
Because they both are in side-garded coates,
To arme them two usurers, villanous rich,
To whome the divell is beholden much,
And loves their trades of getting gold so well,
They shall be welcome to his flames in hell.
Others say, if we had white aprons on,
We would be like unto A non, A non,
What is it gentlemen you please to drinke?
And some, because we have no beards, doe thinke
We are foure panders, with our lowise lockes,
Whose naked chinnes are shaven with the poxe:
Divers opinions there be other showes,
Because we walke in jerkings and in hose;

Withoute an upper garment, cloake, or gowne,
We must be tapsters running up and downe
We cannes of beere, (malt sod in fishes broth)
And those they say are fil’d with nick and froth.
Other avouch w’are of the smoky crew,
A trade that stinckes, although it be but new,
Such fellows as sit all the day in smother,
And drinke, like divels, fire to each other.
Thus are we plaid upon by each base groome,
Nay, let a paire of cards lye in a roome
Where any idle fellow commeth in,
The knaves hee’ll single out, and thus begin;
Here are foure millers, for their honest dealing:
Or tailers, for the gift they have in stealing:
Or brokers, for their buying things are stole:
Or bakers, for their looking throw a hole:
Or colliers, for not filling of their sackes:
Thus we are plaid upon by sawcy Jackes.
And therefore, if perswasions may but winne you,
Good card-makers (if there be any goodness in you)
Apparrell us with more respected care,
Put us in hats, our caps are worne thread-bare,
Let us have standing collers, in the fashion;
(All are become a stiffe-necke generation)
Rose hat-hands, with the shagged-ragged-ruffe:
Great cabbage-shooestrings, (pray you bigge enough)
French dublet, and the Spanish hose to breech it;
Short cloakes, old Mandillions (we beseech it)
Exhange our swords, and take away our bils,
Let us have rapiers, (knaves love fight that kils)
Put us in bootes, and make us leather legs,
This Harts most humbly, and his fellowes begs.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.