Ranters initiation song

Completely off-topic but delightful, this is from The Joviall Crew, or the Devill turn’d Ranter: being a character of the roaring Ranters of these Times, represented in a Comedie. Containing a true discovery of the cursed conversations, prodigious pranks, monstrous meetings, private performances, rude revellings, garrulous greetings, impious and incorrigible deportements of a sect (lately sprung up amongst us,) called Ranters. Their names sorted to their severall natures, and both lively presented in action. London: Printed for W. Ley. 1651.:

Bedlam broke loose? Yes, hell is open’d too;
Mad-men, and fiends, and harpies, to your view
We do present: but who shall cure the tumor?
All the world now is in the ranting humor.

The action, set in the London district of Finsbury, features an apothecary called Dose, Pidwidgin, a tailor, Mrs Crave-drink and Mrs All-prate; wives are swapped at speed and with enthusiasm to the accompaniment of drinking, singing and dancing. Here’s the initiation song:

Round, round, all in a ring,
Fellow creatures, let us sing;
Here are two, that come to be
Annext to our society:
By Pluto’s crown, Proserpine’s hair,
Cerberus’ yell, Alecto’s chair;
By Epicurus’ happy life,
And Messalina, Claudius’ wife;
By Venus’ gloves, and Lais’ paint,
By Jezabel, our chiefest saint;
By goats’ desires, and monkies’ heat,
Spanish flies, and stirring meat;
By the vigour of a horse,
By all things of strength and force;
By Alcides’ back of steel
By Jove’s escapes, Omphale’s wheel,
We adopt these happy pair,
Of our liberties to share:
Arise, arise, blest souls, and know
Now you may rant, cum Privilegio.

Apart from the considerable googling required to place all the mythological references, “these pair” is interesting. I guess the pronoun refers to an elided “of [individuals]” rather than taking “pair” as a plural noun. Given the context, I am cheerfully optimistic that the stirring meat is actually throbbing gristle rather than some boring old rotten carcase.

These excerpts are from Censura Literaria: Containing Titles, Abstracts, and Opinions of Old English Books, Especially Those Which Are Scarce, printed in Bolt Court off Fleet Street in 1808 and available via the ever incredibler Google Books.

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