Outlaws and Highwaymen

Story from Ratseyes Ghost
Ratseyes Ghost (London, 1605), sigs. D4v–D5v; reprinted in The Life and Death of Gamaliel Ratsey, Shakespeare Association Facsimiles No. 10 (London, Oxford University Press, 1935)


How Ratsey robbed a Lawyer

Ratsey, being rode foorth of his Inne, early in a morning to wayte for a bootye and could spie none: At last came vnto a place called Stangate Hole, where he set downe his resolution not to ryde any further, beeing ready prepared for the next commers, but only to stay there, and so determined to stand like the Devils Si quis, at the corner of a hedge where his Horse was tyed.1 As who should say: If any be so minded to loose his pursse and forfayt his money into my pocket, let him come this way, and he shall be sure to pay for it.

Now as Ratseys eies were fixed to looke for who cam next, at last he espyed a Lawyer and his man, comming that waie riding homewardes from the Tearme: and to a sharpe sequell he intended to make a short Exoram, not with Beneuolentiae, but Pecuniae captatio.2 Therevppon made towards the Lawyer, whose appearance was so frightfull, and strooke such a terrour to my Lawyers hart, that it made Sir-reuerence droppe downe by his heeles.3 But Ratsey would not be driuen away with durt, for he knewe the Lawyer had such an oyle about him, and such a soueraigne perfune in his pocket, as would expell all vnwholsome sauours: and therefore began to be briefe and fell aboord on him, and badde him to deliuer his money, for money he told him hee came for, and money he would haue. The Lawyer pleaded harde, but it was at a barre where there was no Iustice, for Ratseys Sic volo. Sic iubeo soone commanded the Lawyer to surrender his pursse, which when he had deliuered, he tolde Ratsey that fourscore pounds was all he had, and this had beene a very harde tearme vnto him, and that he had none left to discharge his hous at home.4

Faith (saith Ratsey) and there is no pittye to be had of thee, nor such as thou art: thou art worse then I, that take it by the highway, for let me meet with a poor man, and take his money, if I perceiue him indigent, and needy I giue it him again, & somwhat back to boot, but you picke euerye poore mannes pocket with your trickes and quillets, like Vultures praying vpon your Clyents pursses, till you leaue them neuer a penny to blesse themselues: and when money is gone, you shape the copy of your counsell and countenance accordingly.5

Nay, let a Souldior (as I am) or a Scholler (as I haue beene) come vnto you, and make his want knowen: The one you threaten with whipping to the other you alledge the Statute: but to neyther doe you affoorde reliefe or pittie.6 Then what pittie should be shewne to you, that neuer regard the necessities of others? Yet I must needes say, there are some among you verye vpright and of good Conscience, that will not take fees on both sides, that wil not leane more to the one partie then the other. But euen as Equity requires, and will be as comfortable with their councell to a poore cottage-keeper, that comes in Forma Pauperis, as to a riche Farmer that brings with him a ful-fed fee.7 And it may be that thou art one amongest them fewe. Therefore tell me: What is the vsuall fee that you do take at a time? Faith sir (sayth he) our ordinary Fee is but tenne shillinges, and a many fees will not gette so much money as you haue taken from mee. Well, well, sayth Ratsey, you will lye apace till you fetch vp these your losses againe. But holde, heeres a brace of Aungels backe, and that is a double Fee to carry thee home withall, and I would giue it all againe, and a great deale more too vpon condition that lying were as little vsed in England among Lawyers, as the eating of Swines flesh was amongst the Iewes.8 And so I bid you hartily Farewell.


Notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 20 September 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

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