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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

Hey Hey We’re The Mohocks!

Hey Hey We’re The Mohocks!
Mohocks 1700-1750 (ish)


I don’t know what the youth of this country are coming to, I really don’t.

The respectable classes can no longer set foot outside their homes after dusk without fear of molestation – and worse – from gangs of lustful, drink addled cutthroats whom Satan himself would spurn.

Or so the pamphleteers say.

They call themselves “Mohocks” – after a cannibal tribe in India – and all genteel London trembles with terror at news of their outrages.

"Read all about it" “Read all about it”


I have fallen into a swoon myself several times since Monday.

It’s all in the pages of The Spectator should you wish to read of it, Mr Defoe writes quite dramatically of the jungle our fair city becomes after dark.

“What kind of passion or humour it gratifies, to murder or wound an unconcerned stranger, who has not given the least affront, is such a crime that the like of it has not been heard of for some ages in the world.” 

I blame the parents. “I blame the parents”.

Even the Watch are not safe from being beaten and bludgeoned for no reason other than vicious sport.  I heard of one watchman whom they nailed into his wooden shelter before tipping it into the street.

The poor fellow was trapped for hours.

What shocks me is that these young men are said to be of noble families, with relatives in high position, not common vagabonds and labourers .

It’s the cutting which frightens me the most. I have heard that once they have cornered a victim, these “Mohocks” think it amusing to cut them across the face, split their noses down the middle, or even remove them entirely.

Mrs Hargreves says that during one such attack the mob were so frenzied and their victims so plentiful that afterwards the floor was littered with severed noses “ Like hail stones after a storm”

My son, tells me this is nonsense and that is actually a line from a popular play written by a gentleman named John Gay.

If it is, then it’s in very poor taste.

"The streets used to be so lovely and peaceful" “The streets used to be so lovely and peaceful”


I hear him talking to his young friends about “Mohocks”, laughing at their antics and how they are never apprehended “ A proper Rum-Bite” he calls it – whatever that means.

The young are so wild and disrespectful, not like in my day.

He says there are several types of “Mohock” who each treat their victims differently.


There are those who “Tip The Lion”  –  Which apparently involves pressing someone’s nose flat into their face and then gouging at their eyes with your fingers.

“Dancing-Masters”  who encourage students to dance a merry jig by stabbing at their legs with a sword.

“Tumblers” who turn ladies on their heads and make free with them in the most lewd fashion while their skirts are over their faces.  I suspect it’s also these dogs who take pleasure in forcing women into barrels and rolling them down Ludgate Hill.

"We never had sex in my day...I blame The French" “We never had sex in my day…I blame The French”

And there are “The Sweaters” who will surround their male victim and using the points of their swords to prick his buttocks,  drive him at speed from one to the other till he is both exhausted and humiliated.

"Not me pretty face, mister!" “The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.”

When I asked him how he knows this, he rolls his eyes and says he read it on a pamphlet which was handed to him on the street.

A street upon which it is no longer safe to walk!

In The Spectator only the other day, Richard Steele wrote of the young gangs:

“They took care to drink themselves to a pitch beyond reason or humanity, and then made a general sally, and attack all who were in the streets. Some were knocked down, others stabbed, and others cut and carbonadoed.” 

My husband says it’s all “Whisker” put about by “Grub Street Hacks”  to frighten the masses .

" How many times must I tell you, its some bird with her Bubs out on page 4 and theater gossip on page 6.The scare story always goes on the front page. ” How many times must I tell you, its some bird with her bubbs out, then theater gossip. The scare story always goes on the front page.”



Last year he remembers, everyone feared “The Hawkubites” who – it was said – pierced their victims cheeks with hooks and led them through the streets, like a fish upon a line.

When he was a lad, he claims he was one of a group calling themselves “The Nickers” who smashed people’s windows by throwing handfuls of halfpennies at the glass.





I told him he was little more than a common “Damme Boy” to which he replied that at least they gave their victims something towards the repair of their property , not like the youth of today.

"Just look at the state of those two...I blame the Restoration" “Just look at the state of those two…I blame the Restoration”


He also says that tales of wild and vicious gangs offering injury and rape to unaccompanied ladies is an effective way for prudent fathers and husbands to ensure their wives and daughters keep proper hours.

But if they are simply a terrifying fiction like “Raw-Head” or “Bloody-Bones”, I would be little more than an empty headed fool for believing everything I read.

And I simply refuse to accept that can be the case.

A writing gentleman of my acquaintance by the name of Swift is convinced these vile fellows lie in wait at every darkened corner, eager to disfigure him with their blades. He has never actually seen any of them but still travels everywhere by chair.




He is so concerned that he wrote a short pamphlet entitled – “An Argument, proving from History, Reason, and Scripture, that the present Race of Mohocks and Hawke-bites are the Gog and Magog mentioned in the Revelations; and therefore that this vain and transitory World will shortly be brought to its final Dissolution. Written by a reverend Divine, who took it from the Mouth of the Spirit of a Person who was slain by the Mohocks,”

His words reflect the public mood.

" Keep the bloody noise down, you call that music?" ” Keep the bloody noise down, you call that music?”

 “From Mohock and from Hawkubite,

Good Lord, deliver me!

Who wander through the streets at night,

Committing cruelty.

They slash our sons with bloody knives,

And on our daughters fall;

And if they murder not our wives,

We have good luck withal

Coaches and chairs they overturn,

Nay, carts most easily;

Therefore from Gog and Magog,

Good Lord, deliver me!”

I confess to suspecting that if  these young mountebanks continue to dominate his thoughts,  Jonathon Swift will never write anything of lasting repute.

Even Her Majesty is concerned at the effect this villainous contagion of youth will have upon the morals of the nation and has issued a bounty of £100 for their apprehension.

I'm even scared in bed. “I even dream about violent crime.”


I fear I will never sleep soundly in my bed again.

It matters not that no one I know has ever seen a “Mohock” or met a victim of their perfidious attacks. The broadsheets are correct, young people of today are dangerous and immoral and should be brought to book.

My son is making loud bleating noises at me, I do not understand why. I suspect it is because he is “Young.”





“Now is the time that rakes their revels keep;

Kindlers of riot, enemies of sleep.

His scattered pence the flying Nicker flings,

And with the copper shower the casement rings.

Who has not heard the Scourer’s midnight fame?

Who has not trembled at the Mohock’s name?

Was there a watchman took his hourly rounds

Safe from their blows, or new-invented wounds?

I pass their desperate deeds and mischiefs, done

Where from Snow-hill black steepy torrents run;

How matrons, hooped within the hogshead’s womb,

Were tumbled furious thence; the rolling tomb

O’er the stones thunders, bounds from side to side:

So Regulus, to save his country, died.”

John Gay (Author of The Beggars Opera)

Respect authority and believe what you are told Respect authority and believe what you are told




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