The Rover, or, The Banished Cavaliers
By Aphra Behn

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Staff and Research Assistants at the University of Virginia, Sara Brunstetter, John O'Brien
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London : Printed for John Amery, 1677 Our text is based on the Text Creation Partnership’s digital edition, which was produced from microfilm scans of the copy of the first print edition of 1677, published by the London printer John Amery, that is held at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Page images are taken from this copy, with the exception of the title page, which appears to be missing in the Huntington's copy. The title page here is taken from the copy of the first edition at the Senate House Library, University of London, and appears courtesy of that library. This edition was annotated and edited for use in the Literature in Context project by University of Virginia students in ENEC 3400, Restoration and Eighteenth Century British Theatre, in the fall of 2016, and has been further edited and annotated by John O'Brien and Sara Brunstetter.

Editorial Statements

Research informing these annotations draws on publicly-accessible resources, with links provided where possible. Annotations have also included common knowledge, defined as information that can be found in multiple reliable sources. If you notice an error in these annotations, please contact

Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

Page breaks have been retained. Catchwords, signatures, and running headers have not. Where pages break in the middle of a word, the complete word has been indicated prior to the page beginning.

Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section.


Behn, Aphra. The Rover: or, the Banish't Cavaliers, Printed for John Amery, 1677 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. Accessed: 2024-05-26T14:37:04.025Z

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The Banish't Cavaliers.
As it is ACTED
His Royal Highness
Duke's Theatre.
Licensed July 2d. 1677.
Printed for John Amery,at the Peacock, against
St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet-street
. 1677
Page iPage i


a017Exclamation of anger or disapproval at perceived mistreatment. Source: Oxford English Dictionary
a119jostles (
lestrange_Roger L'Estrange had the title of "Licensor of the Press" in England at this time; he was in effect the official government censor for all printed material. He had the right to inspect printing presses and to intercept any printed matter that he suspected of being seditious, libellous, or blasphemous. The presence of his name here on the title page indicates that he had read through the play and found nothing objectionable in it. It's interesting to note that while L'Estrange's name is here in the place where we might expect to find the name of the author, Behn's is not. It was actually typical of printed playtexts in this period that they did not identify the author of the play; the success of a play was seen to lie much more in the skill of the performers and the theater company than of the author (much as in modern Hollywood movies, where the names of stars are well known, but the screenwriters are usually obscure.) L'Estrange was not the "author" of this play in a modern sense, but the prominence of his name here "authorizes" its publication in another sense, as a play approved by the state authorities. Moreover, this play was, as the title page also announces, staged in one of the two official state-licensed theaters, in this case the one sponsored by the Duke of York, the brother of King Charles, who was the sponsor of the other state-licensed theater in London.
rabels_A brand of patent medicine.
cabal_A cabal is a secret or private group similar to a political junto or faction. The word was often used in this period as an acronym of the first letters in the names for the King's five privy counselors: Chudleigh, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
censure_To judge or give an opinion. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
coract_That is, correct.
lampoon_Satire upon another individual. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
deboche_Indulgence or excess of pleasure. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
citt_May Day is a traditional spring festival, and a "Citt" is a citizen of London, which was a position associated with middle-class tradesmen and merchants. So the idea here is that new plays are currently stuffed with wits and debauched people like cits, who would sweatily crowd themselves into coaches that were designed to accommodate richer people.
ads_It was common in this period for books to include advertisements for other titles sold by the same bookseller. We have preserved this in our edition to give the fullest flavor of what a reader of 1677 would have seen when they picked up the text.
stdunstans_St Dunstan is a famous Church located on Fleet Street in London, then as now at the center of the publishing industry in London. Booksellers in London often set up shop adjacent to churches, as is the case here.
kingsuit_The "King's Suit" would be an indictment by the government.
rover_A pirate or a ship captain who spends must of his time wandering and roaming. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
naples_One of Behn's first significant changes to her source play by Thomas Killigrew is moving the action from Madrid to Naples, rendering the action perhaps even more exotic than in the original. At this time, Naples was ruled by Spain, which explains why so many characters in the play have been traveling back and forth between Naples and places like Madrid and Pamplona. Image: Claude Vernet, View of the Bay of Naples, 1747 (Wikimedia Commons). graphic
intro_A rover is a pirate, or a person who aimlessly wanders and roams. The Cavaliers were the supporters of the Stuart King Charles I in the English Civil War between him and the Parliament, and after that, supporters of his son, Charles II, who went into exile when the Stuarts lost the Civil War in 1659. This reference thus sets the play some time in the 1650s, when the monarchy's supporters were scattered across Europe, as these men are, trying to make their fortunes and/or biding their time in the hopes of returning to England some day. First staged in 1677, The Rover is thus a kind of historical play, looking back on an era a couple of decades earlier. It was based on an earlier play, Thomas Killigrew's Thomaso, or the Wanderer, which was written around 1654 while Killigrew was living in Madrid. Killigrew's play seems to have been autobiographical, reflecting his life as a Royalist exile, a supporter of the Stuart monarchy who was living on the European continent in the 1650s while England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth government. Upon the return of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, Killigrew received a patent to open a theater in London as a reward for his loyalty to Charles II. He published Tomaso in 1664, but never staged it, perhaps recognizing that it was far too long and disjointed to work on stage. We do not know how Behn come to rework the play for performance, but it seems entirely possible that this was at the request of Killigrew, who was the patent-holder of the Duke's Theater. There are places where Behn follows Killigrew's play closely, but she made many changes, compressing the original, and shifting the scene from Madrid to Naples. Perhaps most notably, she beefs up the female roles of Angelica Bianca and Hellena. Hellena is such an interesting and dynamic character in Behn's version of the story that the audience is left wondering in the end who the real rover of the play is: Willmore or Hellena? Behn's play has been popular with audiences ever since it was first staged in 1677, and is now probably the most-frequently-performed of her works.
prithee_A contraction of "I pray thee," similar to "I beg of you." Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
fain_Be delighted or glad to. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
viceroy_The ruler or governor of a province. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
anglese_Spanish for an English person.
gay_Fine or noble. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
design_Intended or designated. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
carnival_The season before Lent, filled with celebration and festivity. A modern equivalent would be Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro. Hellena is going to take advantage of the opportunity provided by this brief season of festivity before heading to a convent rather than marry a man she loathes.
cleanlimbd_Well proportioned. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
pamplona_Pamplona is a city in the north of Spain, but it's not clear what military action is being referred to here. There was a siege of Pamplona in 1521, but that was more than a century before the events depicted in the play. More generally, however, it was true that during the 1650s, the time during which the action of the play takes place, many English cavaliers were hiring themselves out as mercenary soldiers to armies in contintental Europe, including Spain, so placing military action at Pamplona is quite plausible. This is a detail that Behn is lifting from Killigrew's play, so she probably has nothing particularly significant in mind with the reference.
horse_French cavalry. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
habit_Carnival disguise.
slave_It was customary in prominent families for the father to exert control over whom the daughter marries. This was true in England, but setting the play in Italy enables Behn to stage the conflict between the young women's wishes and their father's control without openly criticizing her own culture.
ranckt_Ranked. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
jointure_Or "jointure." The property or money given to the wife in marriage. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. The amount of a jointure would have been negotiated before the marriage by the two families involved.
indies_The West Indies or, more generally, the Americas. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
baggs_Riches, or money-bags. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
impotent_That is, he is probably impotent.
dogdays_Hottest part of the summer. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
sancho_King of Pamplona during the 10th Century. Hellena's joke is that Don Vincentio's furniture is going to be very old and outdated--like himself.
coxcomb_Fool. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
valet_Personal attendant. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
threescore_Score denotes twenty, thus threescore indicates sixty.
hostel_Hostel de Dieu is French for Hostel or Hospital of God. The Hostel de Dieu was a hospital that served the poor operating under a religious order. Source: Wikipedia.
lazer_A poor or diseased person. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
gambia_Gambia, a region on the west coast of Africa where Europeans were active in the slave trade from this period well into the 19th century.
jester_Referring to the costume of court jesters, who wore bells on their heads and carried bawbles. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
lent_The period immediately after the carnival in the spring; a time of fasting and penance. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
grate_A cloistered nun would only be allowed to greet visitors from the world outside the convent through a grate.
melancholy_Fredrick is implying that those who partake in Lent are melencholy and unsatisfied, the traits that Belville is already displaying, several days before Lent has officially started.
court_Pursue courtship.
hogoes_"A notable strong flavor or smell" Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
coathole_"To find fault with one; to fix on some small offense as censurable" (Dictionary of Phrase and Fable).
charles_This would be Prince Charles, who would become King Charles II at the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660.
chapmen_Pedlers (Oxford English Dictionary).
roses_Willmore is reading one of the "papers" pinned on the dresses of the women, which have enigmatic statements vaguely hinting at the womens' sexual availability.
bush_A sexual double-entendre; pubic hair.
pesthouse_A hospital for people suffering from an infectious disease (Oxford English Dictionary).
cuckold_A husband who is being cheated on by his wife; traditionally, cuckolds were said to wear horns as a sign of their being mastered by another, more virile man.
essex_Essex was frequently a butt of jokes for Londoners, who saw it as a rural backwater.
piazza_Or Piazza; a public space or market square.
newbridge_The joke here is that the hangman has beaten the Frenchman in their contest, just as the French beat the Dutch in theirs: a reference to an incident in 1672, when Nieuwerbrug (New Bridge), a Dutch garrison post on a branch of the Rhine, fell to the French.
humor_A mixture of sharp wit and sarcastic comments.
venus_The Roman goddess of love, sex, fertility, and victory, Venus was, according to mythology, born of sea-foam.
oldlaw_The Old Testament.
jeptha_In the book of Judges, Jephtha, having won a major military victory, vows to God that he will sacrifice the first thing he sees on his return home. When he arrives, his daughter rushes out to greet him, and he realizes that he must kill his daughter to fulfill his vow. She agrees, but asks for a reprieve of two months to visit friends in the mountains and to lament the fact that she will die a virgin.
peru_That is, Peru, where slaves worked in silver mines.
maid_A female servant responsible for performing many household responsibilities, including laundry. See Joanna Martin, Wives and Daughters: Women and Children in the Georgian Country House (London: Hambledon and London, 2004).
paduana_A "Paduana" is someone who comes from the city of Padua. Many critics have noted that Angellica Bianca shares initials with Aphra Behn.
vizard_A simple mask; pictures attatched at the following link:
bottomhazard_Risk in a single ship.
baseness_Membership or characteristic of a lower social class (OED).
oft_Shortening of often (OED).
errant_Travelling or roaming (OED).
cozening_Also spelled cozening, it means cheating, deceitful or fraudulent (OED).
piccaroon_A pirate or privateer (OED).
antick_In dress or attire (OED).
mewed_In hiding or a place of confinement, like a cage (OED).
wanton_Of a person, a person's will: undisciplined, ungoverned; unmanageable, rebellious (OED).
bonaroba_A wench (OED).
spigot_A small wooden peg or pin used to stop the vent-hole of a barrel or cask; a vent-peg; a similar peg inserted into and controlling the opening or tube of a faucet and used to regulate the flow of liquor (OED).
balderdash_Jumbled mixture of liquors e.g. beer and wine.
sack_A general name for a class of white wines formerly imported from Spain and the Canaries (OED).
capuchin_A friar of the order of St. Francis, of the new rule of 1528 (OED).
collation_Bringing together, comparison (OED).
perjured_Of a person that has deliberately broken an oath (OED).
vizar_The front part of a helmet, covering the face but provided with holes or openings to admit of seeing and breathing, and capable of being raised and lowered (OED).
intercession_The action of interceding or pleading on behalf of (rarely against) (OED).
sigher_To emit, give, or heave a sigh (OED).
jewel_An article of value used for adornment, chiefly of the person / possibly a picture of her (OED).
bill_Phrase meant to suggest that a promise or vow to be "paid" can be counterfeited or easily passed from one to another (O'Brien in class / Wikipedia).
repose_Temporary rest or cessation from physical or mental exertion in order to recover one's energy (OED).
shehe_She and he respectively.
business_His womanizing has ended with her.
budget_A pouch, bag, wallet, usually of leather (OED).
bonaroba2_Italian for: A wench; ‘a showy wanton’ (OED).
whe_Why (
lye_Sleep with.
religiously_Refers to taking an oath on the bible / Oath: A solemn or formal declaration invoking God (or a god, or other object of reverence) as witness to the truth of a statement, or to the binding nature of a promise or undertaking (OED).
age_A long time / A period of existence, and related senses (OED).
dull_Dull: Not quick in intelligence or mental perception; slow of understanding; not sharp of wit (OED).
pox_Senses relating to diseases characterized by pocks(OED). Referencing a sort of curse on his vow.
hark_ "Hark ye"= (ref: To give ear or listen to (OED).
beatbush_He thinks he has chased his lady into the arms of another man. To rouse the birds that they may fly into the net held by some one else (OED).
wine_Metaphor to understand and subdue loves troubling nature by drinking one's self to sleep.
minute_His plan to sleep with her is near completion. Compass: To plan, contrive, devise (OED). Also: navigational reference meaning close in proximity: A compass divided into 360 degrees is the most common unit of measurement. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds...those units are used for precise locations using latitude and longitude.(
justice_Addressing his clothes, in England he could be "A magistrate appointed to hear minor cases, grant licences, etc" (OED).
commission_His job or orders; Authority committed or entrusted to a person (OED).
dog_Luckiest rogue.
betray_Darkness necessary to setup the robbery of Blunt.
anon_In a short time; soon (CollinsDictionary).
jest_Trick; an exploit (OED).
coy_Animal trap (OED), if she had been trapped by Blunt's love.
mollified_That has been mollified; appeased, conciliated; †softened, rendered soft or supple; †made less severe; mitigated (OED).
lute_A stringed musical instrument, much in vogue from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
breeches_Short pants / Breeches are distinguished from trousers by coming only just below the knee (OED).
watch_The first actual pocket watch was "said to have occurred in 1675 when Charles II of England introduced waistcoats (Wikipedia).This would have been an incredibly exepensive item.
besse_Refers to Queen Elizabeth I, reigned from 1558-1603.The quarrel from "Eighty Eight" seems to refer to the Spanish Armada, which was destroyed in 1588.
shoar_Seems to refer to a sewer into which he entered.
nosegay_A bunch of flowers or herbs, especially those having a sweet smell-OED.
coyl_A noise or disturbance, a 'row', a tumult.
endued_Imbued or transfused.
skull_Reference to the common law of taking your victim as you find them
picaroon_A variant spelling of Picaroon meaning a rogue or a scoundrel.
frigate_ A warship.
chasegun_A canon at the bow or stern of an armed ship used in pursuit Source: Merriam-Webster.
cloyd_Clogged, cumbered, burdened (OED).
wanton2_Double meaning: to play and to behave in a sexually promiscuous way.
virago_A wicked woman (OED).
tramontana_"Dwelling or situated beyond, or pertaining to the far side of, the mountains (orig. and in reference to Italy, the Alps...hence, foreign...occupied by a non-Italian." This word could also have, "the connotation [of] 'uncouth, unpolished, barbarous'." ("tramontane, adj. and n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.)
parlous_"In a parlous manner; esp. perilously, dangerously; precariously; desperately," ("parlously, adv." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.)
gaffer_"A term applied originally by country people to an elderly man or one whose position entitled him to respect." Or, "Used simply as a title of address, often with not intimation of respect," ("gaffer, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.)
bugg_"A word meant to frighten or terrify; a word that causes dread," († bug-word | bug's-word, n. OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.)
incle_"A kind of linen tape, formerly much used for various purposes," ("inkle, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.)
bayes_"A bag of bay leaves used in cooking." (Canfield, J. D., and Sneidern M.-L. Von. The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press, 2004. Print).
cast_A look or view ("cast, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.).
Conventickling_A religious meeting of an unsanctioned or clandestine nature ("conventicle, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.).
canting_Hypocritical ("ˈcanting, adj.2." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.).
blackfriars_A major London theater in which the Shakespeare company performed during the winter until 1642, when all the playhouses were closed (Gurr, Andrew. "London’s Blackfriars Playhouse and the Chamberlains Men’." Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage (2006): 17-33.).
noddle_Head ("noddle, n.1." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.).
sparks_A foppish, affected type of man ("spark, n.2." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 5 December 2016.).
nokes_James Stokes and Anthony Leigh were celebrated comic actors of the period, often appearing alongside one another (Chernaik, Warren. “Nokes , James (c.1642–1696).” Warren Chernaik Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. David Cannadine. Jan. 2008. 5 Dec. 2016).
thomaso_The Rover borrows heavily from Thomas Killigrew's Thomaso, or, The Wanderer, though Behn seems to minimize the extent to which she borrowed from it here (DeRitter, Jones. "The Gypsy," The Rover", and the Wanderer: Aphra Behn's Revision of Thomas Killigrew." Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 10.2 (1986): 82-92.).