15th Century

The Black Dog of Newgate (1596) | Luke Hutton

During the sixteenth century a new genre of popular literature arrived in England. Adapted from literature that was flourishing in Spain, a stream of cheaply printed books and pamphlets shined a light on the seedy underworld in England’s urban spaces. The genre — Rogue Literature. In this post I focus on The Black Dogge of Newgate (c.1596) by Luke Hutton.

(Read my previous posts on the Spanish Lazarillo De Tormes, one of the major Spanish rogue novels).

Written in Early Modern English, The Black Dogge of Newgate begins as a long poem and was allegedly written by one Luke Hutton (d.1598). Hutton was a highwayman who robbed someone on St Luke’s Day in 1598, was captured, and subsequently hanged. It was said that ‘he feared not men nor laws’.[1]

Whether The Black Dogge of Newgate was actually written by the Luke Hutton remains unknown. Early modern crime literature authors often appropriated the names of famous criminals to lend an air of authenticity to their works. Luke Hutton, then, is most likely a pseudonym for an author whose identity remains unknown to us.

Selling for 3 ½d and addressing ‘Gentle Readers’ in the introduction, this was clearly a book intended to be read by the town-dwelling middle classes and served as ‘moralist entertainment’[2] by shining a light on the shady practices of urban criminals.

When as blacke Tytan with his duskie robe,

had Tellus clouded with his curtaynes nyght,

Fayre Phebus peering vnderneath earthes globe

with winged steedes hence takes his course a right:

Tytan he leaues to beare imperial sway,

commaunding nyght, as Phebus did the day.

The fierie Chariot posteth vnder ground.

With Tytans mantle all the earth is spred,

And wreathes of Icat about his temples bound:

Earthes Tell cole blacke, sweete Morpheus cals to bed.

No time to walke, to sport, to game, to see,

I did obey, that must commaunded bee.

Layed in my bed, I gan for to recount,

A thousand thinges, which had been in my time:

My birth, my youth, my woes, which all surmount,

My life, my losse, my libertie my crime:

Then where I was, vnto my minde recalling,

Mee thought Earth gapt, and I to Hell was falling.

Amidst these feares that all my senses cumber,

Care closd mine eyes, and sorrow wroung my hart:

Opprest with greefe, mine eye-lids gan to slumber,

But borne to woes, must of more woes haue part:

A thousand furies to my hart appearing,

torments my soule with fearing.

Thus lay I long, beholding Hell and Deuils,

Agast with mazes, almost dead in feares,

Not knowing how to rid me from the euils:

They shew in action, and in lookes appeares,

One anticke monster, hidious, foule and grim,

Mee most appayld, and most I lookt at him.

Thought I at last, I will crie out for ayde,

Bowning to crie neare dead, afright with feare,

I heard a voyce, which like an Angel, sayd:

Hutton be bolde, for thou shalt see and heare

Men Deuils, Deuils men, one both, both all deluding:

Worlds euils, wracke then, sheepes cloth, Wolues pray con∣cluding.

Hearing a voyce, my hart was much reuiued,

Noting the wordes, I did some corrage take:

But suddaine ioyes hath suddaine woes atchiued,

A suddaine noyse this hellish crew did make,

Threatning by shewes as though they would deuower

my life and soule, subdewd by terrors power.

Thought checkt my minde, feares senses all amazing,

Hell broken loose, eyes visions furies affrighting,

Subdeud earths powers, vprears harts insight a gazing,

Terror of minde with hope, cries feares faint arighting:

Helpe mee orequelled: waking with dread, I espied

Grast gracious Mynerua, who thus to my outcrie replied

Feare not at all, nor faynt thou with beholding:

But light thy Lampe, and take thy Pen in hand.

Write what thou sees, thy visions all vnfolding,

I will direct, and let thee vnderstande,

What all these helhoundes shadow by appearing.

Uiew thou their worst, and then write of their fearing.

Subdeud by worths, which did all wordes exceede.

Rauisht with ioyes, such feature to behold,

Abiecting feare, my glutted eyes I feede,

Upon hir brightnes which all harmes controld:

Glimse of hir brightnes senses all indearing,

Legions of Deuils could no more fright with fearing.

I preasd my selfe to take the hardest steele,

And from the flint I bett foorth sparkes of fyer:

Kindling the lint, my ready match I feele,

Yeelding my Lampe the light of my desyer:

Soone spyed Mynerua, with Lawrel cround and Bayes,

Myrror deuine feature of worthles prayse.

Before her feete submissiuely I fell,

Pardon I craud, fearing I was too bold:

Rise vp quoth shee, and view these hags of hell,

For diuers secrets must thy pen vnfold.

Make true recorde, what shalbe shewd to thee,

For these are they, which Worldes deceauers bee.

Ile clense thine eyes, least vapours do offend,

Ile cleare thy Wits, and giue a pleasing muse:

The deafest care shall to thy talke attend,

The worke so worthy, thou may not refuse:

Newgates blacke Dogge with pen and inke depaynt,

Curres, of this kinde shall thereby haue restraynt.

Not for my sake do thou what I require,

But for his sake: and with that worde mee shoes

A fayre olde Man, whose teares foretolde desier,

And in a mantle mourner like he goes.

His veynes like Azure, his heare as white as Wooll,

Tresses before, behinde a bare smoth skull.

And this is Time, Minerua thus replyed,

Which mournes to see these helhoundes Tymes abusing,

How thousandes in their rauening iawes haue dyed:

Slaughtering Lambes, yet to the worlde excusing,

Offence with culler, shadowing mightie euils,

By name of seruice, and yet incarnat Deuils.

No more quoth shee, but take thee to thy Pen.

Resolue the Wyle, that they haue been deceaued:

Many Blacke Dogs haue walkt in shapes of men,

And with deceites hath Common wealth agreeued:

His forme and lynaments to the worlde disclose,

That this Blacke Dogge be knowen where ere he goes.

My Muse gan blush, dreading to vndertake

so great a taske: but Time againe replyde.

Feare not at all, Time doth the motion make,

Unmaske this Beast, let him no longer hide

Him selfe in shrowdes, who makes of sinne a scoff,

Worldes greatst admire, when as his vizards off.

Time then sayd I, fayre time I will not vse

Longer delay, but satisfie thy will:

So Time will answere for my harmeles muse,

Who wanteth worth to nigh Pernassus hill.

Be briefe, quoth Time: with that I tooke my Pen,

Obeying Time, without offence to men.

Then did I fixe mine eye vpon this Beast,

Who did appeare first in the shape of Man,

Homly attyrde, of wonders not the least:

A Broome-mans song to sing this Dogge began,

From streete to streete trubgeth along this Groome,

As if he would ferne all the worlde with Broome.

But in a trice he did transforme his shape,

Which stroke a trebble horror to my hart.

Cerberus, nay worse, hee thrise as wide did gape,

His heares all Snakes curling, they will not part.

Cole blacke his hew, like Torches glow his eyes,

His breath doth poyson, smooke from his nostrels flyes.

His countenance gastly, fearefull, grim, and payle,

His fomie mouth still gapeth for his pray:

With Tygers teeth he spares none to assayle,

His lyppes Hell gates, orepaynted with decay.

His tongue the clapper, sounding woofull knell,

Towling poore men to ring a peale in hell.

Like Sepulcher his throate is hollow made,

Deuouring all whom danger makes a pray.

Brybrie his hand, spoyle of the pore, his trade.

His fyngers Talentes, ceazing to betray.

And with his armes he fouldeth men in woes,

Destruction still the path where ere he goes.

Mee thought his brest was all of burning Brasse,

Through which there grew a hart of hardest Steele:

His belly hudge, lyke scalding furnace was,

His thyghes both like vnto a fierie wheele,

His legges were long, one foote lyke to a Hind,

The other foote a Houndes of bloody kind.

And in this shape I saw this monster walke,

About the streetes, most fearefull to beholde:

But more to tell, since I begin to talke,

Heere is the ease, which Time would fayne haue tolde.

Upon a suddaine rushe this Curr on mee,

As though my lyfe his euening pray should bee.

Within his clutches did he ceaze me fast,

And bare me straight vnto blacke Plutoes cell:

When there I came, he me in Lymbo cast,

A Stigion lake, the dungion of deepe hell:

But first my legs he lockt in Iron boult,

As if poore I had beene some wanton Coult.

And then he gan with basest termes to braide,

And then he threats as though he would me kill:

And then he daunces for he me betrayd,

And then speakes fayre, as though he ment no ill:

Then like Madusa doth he shake his locks,

And then he threatens me with Iron stocks.

At last he left me in that irksome den,

Where was no day for there was euer night:

Woes me thought I, the abject of all men,

Clouded in care, quite banished from light:

Robd of the Skie, the Scartes, the day, the Sunne,

This Dog, this Diuell, hath all my ioyes vndun.

Surprest with anguish sorrow griefe and woe,

Me thought I heard a noise of Iron cheanes:

Which din did torment and affright me so,

That all my sences studied what it meanes:

But by and by, which did me comfort more,

There came a man which opened Lymbos dore.

All leane he was, and feeble too God knowes,

Upon his arme he bare a bunsh of keyes:

With Candle-light about the cell he goes,

Who roughly sayd, sir lye you at your ease?

Swearing an oath that I did lie too soft,

Who lay on ground, and thus he at me scoft.

To see a man of feature, forme and shape,

It did me good, and partly feares exiled:

But when I heard him gibe me like an Ape,

Then did I thinke that I was thrise beguiled.

Yet would I venture to this man to speake,

Into discourses thus I gan to breake.

Aye me poore wretch, that knowes not where I am,

Nor for what cause I am brought to this place:

Bound for the slaughter, lying like the Lambe,

The butchers meanes to kill within a space.

My greeues are more then can my toung expresse,

Aye me, woes me, that can finde no redresse.

Yet if thou be as thou doest seeme a man,

And so thou art, if I do not mistake:

Do not encrease if so release thou can,

The cruell tortures which me wofull make.

And tell me first who thou thy selfe mayst be,

That art a man, and yet doest gibe at me.

Seeing the feares which dyd my heart possesse,

Uiewing the teares that trickled from mine eyes:

He answered thus, a man I must confesse,

I am my selfe that heare condemned lyes.

And by the law adiudgd I am to dye,

But now the keeper of these keyes am I.

This house is Newgate, gently he replyed,

And this place Lymbo wherein now thou art:

Untill thou pay a fine, heare must thou bide,

With all these boults which do agreeue thy heart.

No other place may there prouided be,

Till thou content the keeper with a fee.

With that hee turnd as though he would away.

Sweete, bide awhyle, I did him so entreate.

Quoth hee, My freend, I can not longer stay,

Yet what you want, yf you will drinke or eate,

Or haue a fyer, or Candle by you burne,

Say what you neede, and I will serue your turne.

Quoth I, deare frende then helpe mee to a Fyer,

Let me haue Candle for to giue mee lyght:

Nor meate nor drinke do I wysh or desier,

But onely graunt mee gracious in thy sight.

And say, What monster was it plast mee heere?

Who hath mee almost lyueles made with feare.

Nay peace quoth hee, for there begins a tale.

Rest now content, and Time will tell thee more,

To striue in Fetters it will small auayle:

Seeke first to ease thy legges which will grow sore,

When boults are off, we will that matter handle.

So he departed, leauing mee a Candle.

Away he went, and leaues me to my woes.

And being gon, I could not chuse but thinke

That he was kind, though first vnkind in showes,

Who offered mee both fyer, bread, and drinke.

Leauing a Candle by me for to burne,

It easd my greefe, and made mee lesse to mourne.

Ioying to see, who whilome had no syght,

I reacht the Candle, which by burnyng standes,

but I vnworthy comfort of the lyght,

A Rat doth rob the Candle from my handes,

And then a hundred Rats all sallie foorth,

As yf they would conuaye their pryze of worth.

In vaine I striue to reobteyne whats lost,

My woes are now, as woes at first began:

With change of greeues my perplext soule is tost,

To see the end I did bethinke me than.

How time had promisd secrets to disclose,

So I exspect the worst of hellish foes.

Whilst thus I lay in Irons vnder ground,

I heard a man that begged for releefe:

And in a chaine of Iron was he bound,

Whose clattering noyse filde full my heart with griefe,

Begging one penny to buie a hundred bread,

Hungerd and sterud, for want of food ny dead.

Woes me thought I, for thee so bound in chaines,

Woes me for them, thou begs for to sustaine:

Woes me for all, whose want all woes conteynes,

Woes me, for me, that in your woes complaine.

Woes me, woes you, and woe is to vs all,

Woe to that Dogge, made me to woe a thrall.

Whilst thus I languish, I on suddaine heare,

An vncoth noyse which did approche my den:

Listning, vnto the doore, I laide mine eare,

And then I knew the voyces were of men.

Still in neerenesse drew they more and more,

At last I heard them opening Lymboes dore.

In first there came, the man that gaue me light,

And next the Dogge, who brought me to that place:

Another, with a Club appeard in sight,

Three weaponlesse, as though they monde my case.

Fainting for feare, I knew not what to say,

Exspecting then performance of decay.

But now this Dog is in another shape,

In euery point proportiond as a man:

My heart did throb, not knowing how to scape,

but to intreat this Curre, I thus began.

Fayre friend, quoth I, if so thy will may be,

To ease my griefe Ile giue thee any fee.

With that he grynd, and thus he made reply,

Thou art a villaine, worthy of this place:

Thy fault is such, that thou shalt surely dye,

I will not pitty thee in any case.

Such as thou art, too many euery where,

But I will seeke in time to haue them heare.

When he namde Tyme, then I on Tyme did thinke,

But more he sayes, if thou haue any coyne:

To pay for ease, I will a little winke,

And boults releasment, with discharge Ile ioyne.

Of this close prison to some other warde,

Paying thy fine, or else all ease is bard.

Like as the childe dooth kisse the rod for feare,

Nor yet dare whimper, though it haue beene bet:

So with smoothe lookes, this Dog approache I neare,

Before the Diuell, a candle do I set.

Treating him faire, with fayrest words may be,

Bidding him aske, he shall haue golde of me.

Why then, quoth he, thy speeches please me well,

Partners (quoth he) strike of his Irons all:

Then vp we went, as one should clime from hell,

Untill I came into a loathsome hall.

When there I came, they set me on a block,

With punche and hammer, my Irons off they knock.

No meruaile though, whilst they my legs vntide,

Mine eyes did surfet, drunke with woes beholding:

Boults, shackles, colors, and Iron shears I spide,

Thumbstals, wastbands, tortors greefe vnfolding.

But whilst the ease of legs my sorrowes calmes,

Roome quoth a wretch, for me with wydowes almes.

Take of these curtals did another crie,

And on his knees he fell before this Cur:

Who to his sorrowing made a Dogs replie,

Downe to thy warde, and doe not make this stur.

What now I know, if I had knowne before,

In stead of these light chaines thou shouldst had more.

With that the poore man was thrust out of sight,

And I all fearing, feard with feare of feares:

My Irons off I went, as go I might,

Unto this Dog, in whom all diuels appeares.

With goulden Angell, I this Cur presented,

Saith he, one more, else am not I contented.

Wonder it was, to see a feend of hell,

To thirst for angels of the fayrest hue:

But diuels are diuels, and they would all orquell,

Mans life and soule, this Dog seekes to subdue.

His mouth to stoppe, angels I gaue him two,

Yeelding perforce, as I perforce must doo.

And then he left me in the partners hall,

The grate doth open, and this Dog out goes:

Thousand sorrowes holds my heart in thrall,

Yet there I am not by my selfe in woes.

Hereon oreplunged with deepe hearts greefe cryes,

I liue a life, thrise worse then he that dyes.

An other sorrye soule, without a ragge,

Hurckling for colde, in whome all want appeares:

At last gan speake, as if he ment to bragge,

And thus he sayes: Heare haue I beene nine yeares.

Tell you of woes, when you my woes haue seene,

And yet haue many men more wofull beene.

With that I rose, and to this poore man went,

In hope to learne some nouils by his talke:

Approching him, amidst his discontent,

He asked me, if so I pleasd to walke?

And if you will, then follow vp these staires,

To walke, and talke, deceiueth time of cares.

I followed him, as he that in a wood,

Hath lost himselfe, and knowes no way he takes:

And in distresse I thought conferring good,

New woes with olde, iust mixture consort makes.

And though the place do naught but discord sound,

My soule for his our discords concord found.

At first he gently tooke me by the hand,

And bids we welcome, as I were his guest:

You are a prisoner, I do vnderstand,

And hether welcome are both bad and best.

Men of all sorts come for offending hether,

And being heare, heare bide they altogether.

And then he did begin thus to discourse,

Cease to lament with vaine dispayring teares:

Thy selfe dissolud to droopes, gaines no remorse,

Heares none regards, though all thy mournings hears.

If vnder earth, the Diuels can prooue a bell,

Theirs is not like to this, where wretches dwell.

See in you Hall are diuers sorts of men,

Some weepe, some waile, some mourne, some wring their hands,

Some cursse, some sweare, and some blaspheming then,

My heart did faint, my head hayre vpright stands.

O Lord thought I, this house will rend in sunder,

Or else there can be no hell, this hell vnder.

Thus wondring I, on suddaine did espie,

One all in black came stamping vp the stayres:

Whose you I askt, and thus he made reply,

You is the man doth mitigate our cares.

He preacheth Christ, and doth Gods word deliuer,

To all distrest, to comfort men for euer.

Then drew I neare to see what might betide,

Or what the sequell was of that I saw:

Exspecting good would follow such a guide,

As preached Christ, and taught a God to know.

A hundred clustered, •ying the pulpit neare,

As if they longd the Gospell for to heare.

Whats this, quoth I, that now I do behold,

The hage of hell, and Sathans impious lims,

Some deeper secret doth this sight vnfolde,

Then I can gesse, this sight my sences dims.

Straight, of my friend I asked by and by,

What it might be, who made me this reply.

You men which thou beholds so pale and wan,

Who whiles lookes vp, whiles looking downe beneath▪

Are all condemnd, and they must dye each man,

Iudgment is giuen, that corde shall stop their breath.

For hayneus facts, as murther, theft, and treason,

Unworthy life, to dye law thought it reason.

The Sermon ended, the men condemnd to dye,

Taking their leaues of their acquainted friends:

With sorry lookes paysing their steps they plye,

Downe to a hall, where for them there attends.

A man of office, who to daunt liues hopes,

Doth corde their hands, and scarfe their necks with ropes.

Thus ropt and corded, they discend the stayres,

Newgates Black Dog, beesturs to play his part:

And doth not cease for to augment their cares,

Willing the Carman to set neare his Cart.

Which done, these men, with feare of death orepangd,

Bound to the Cart, are carried to be hangd.

This ruefull sight, yet end to their doomd sorrowes,

Makes me agast, and forces me bethinke:

Woe vpon woe, and so from wofulst borrowes,

A swame of greefe, and then I sounding sinke.

But by Tymes ayde, I did reuiue againe,

Might I haue dyed, it had beene lesser paine.

For now againe the Dog a fresh assaults me,

As if my spoile were next to be inacted:

And like a subtill Cur in speeches halts he,

With thousand sleighty wyles, olde shiftes compacted.

Charging me oft with that I neuer did,

In his smoothst lookes, are cruell bitings hid.

I spake him faire, as if I had offended,

He treats me foule, who neuer did him ill:

He playes the gripe one Tytious intended,

To tyre his heart, yet neuer hath his fyll.

Euen so this Dog doth tyre and prey on me,

Till quite consumd, my golden angels be.

Then wofull wante did make me oft complaine,

Hunger and colde do pinche me at the heart:

Then am I thrust out of my bed againe,

And from my chamber must I needes depart.

To lowest wardes, to lye vpon the boords,

Which naught but filthe and noisome smels affords.

Midst fortie men, surprisd with care and greefe,

I lye me downe on boords as hard as chenell:

No bed, nor boulster, may affoord releefe,

For worse then Dogs, lye we in that foule kennell.

What might I thinke, but sur• assure me then,

That metamorphosd we were beasts not men.

Greefe vpon greefe, did still oppresse my minde,

Yet had I store compartners in my woe:

No ease, but anguish, my distresses finde,

Here lyes a man, his last liues breath dooth blow.

And ere the sorry man be fully dead,

The Rats do prey vpon his face and head.

Whilst thus I languish in my woes, appeares

Tyme in his mantle, looking fresh and blythe:

Yet whiles his eyes did shed some drops of teares,

Wherewith he seemd, as he would wet his sithe.

Quoth Tyme, by me shall sorrowes be appeased,

And nows the tyme thou shalt of cares be eased.

I did present this Booke which I had writ,

Into Tymes hands, who tooke it and perused it:

Yea, but sayth Tyme, thou must discouer yet,

Who this Dog is, who else will be excused.

For albe I so cleard thine eyes to see him,

So may not others, yet Tyme would haue all flie him.

And for thy verses couertly disclose,

The secrets sence, and yet doth shadow trueth

Explaine this Black Dogge, who he is, in prose,

For more apparant, then thy Poem sheweth.

Truth needs no coulours, then this Dog by kinde,

Make knowne before, as he is knowne behynde.

My Sythe, quoth Tyme, is now prepard to cut,

There is no sithe, but Tymes shall longer dure:

Newgates Black Dog, must Tyme to silence put,

Ile breake his teeth, and make his biting sure.

The shapes of men, on Dogs of cruell kinde,

Tyme shall confound, that beare so bad a minde.

Haue thou no doubt, but Tyme shall set thee free,

And yet hereafter learne thou to beware:

Of this Black Dog, and do his dangers flee,

Giue others warning, least like fall their share.

Say to the world, when thou art freed from hell,

Newgates Black Dog thou saw, and knew too well.

And for thy Poem drawes to a conclusion,

Tymes pleasure is, that thou this Dog expresse:

In shape, in nature, man: yet mens confusion,

A madding Cur, who doth from kinde regresse.

A Mothers sonne, and most for to be wondred,

Of Mothers sonnes, this Dog hath spoild a hundred.

In lowly sort, complaine to highest powers,

Trueth will be heard, and trueth must not be hid:

With Foxelike wyles, this Dog poore soules deuowers,

This Dog of men, desipher I thee bid.

And though there be curs many of his kinde,

Say but the trueth, and yet leaue naught behinde.

When Tyme had sayd, I from my feares awake,

Yet had I writ what premises containes:

Twas no illusion moude me this Poem make,

But greeues indured, and woes my heart sustaines.

Greefe, care, and woe, my silly heart do clog,

Fettered to shame by this cur Newgates Dog.

Now as I haue discribd him in some sort,

As he is fearefull vnto all him see:

His diuellish practises now I will report,

And set them downe as wicked as they be.

Here ends my Poem, Newgates black Dog to name,

Now read the rest, and then commend or blame.

[1] William Hutchinson, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, 3 vols (Durham: G. Walker, 1817), I, p. 581.

[2] Luke Hutton, ‘The Black Dogge of Newgate’, in The Elizabethan Underworld, ed. by A. V. Judges (London: George Routledge, 1930), p. 1.

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