Old publications about street cries

Street cries were once a popular subject of songs and literature in Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere. Each month throughout 2018 I'll be scanning and transcribing publications to build this collection.



O Yes! O Yes!

RING-A-DING! ring-a-ding!
I’ve a new song to sing;
 Little girls, little boys, ’tis for you;
To those who read well,
My new story I’ll tell,
 ’Tis a song, and a story, and true.

Not call, or a cry,
That you hear passing by,
 But here in my book you may find;
From tinkering Jack,
With his tools on his back,
 To the man who cries “Scissars to grind.”

Here’s the Milkmaid so fair,
With her bonny black hair;
 Old Levi comes next with his bags;
If farther you go,
You shall hear the “Dust, ho!”
 And the Chimney-Sweep, cover’d with rags.

Then each little friend,
Who has money to spend,
 And wishes some knowledge to gain,
Come read it I pray,
And I think you will say,
 You’ve not spent your labour in vain.


With cheerful step across the vale,
 The ruddy Milkmaid goes;
And catches in her brimming pail,
 The Milk, as warm it flows.

Alike, in summer and in snow,
 Her daily walk she takes,
Ere little Miss is seen below,
 Or little Master wakes.

MILK, which comes from the cow, is useful to us in a variety of ways; for, besides drinking it for breakfast, as many children do, and making use of it for puddings and other dishes, it supplies us both with cheese and butter.

Proud as we are apt to be, we could not exist without the assistance in our service, it would be highly ungrateful to treat them with scorn. Nay, we should behave with kindness even to the brutes; since we are indebted to them either for clothing, food, or labour.


When boys and girls are sleeping sound,
Old Levi takes his early round;
From street to street he wanders wide,
Well stor’d with clothes on either side.

Now, maids, produce your tatter’d store,
And sell them quickly at the door;
Then go, contented with your gains,
And thank old Levi for his pains.

IT is the custom in London for Jews to go about crying old clothes, which they purchase of poor people who want money, and sell to others who cannot afford to buy new ones.

Some foolish children delight in making sport of them, only because they are Jews; but it is a very cruel and idle practice. We should think it very hard, if we were to go to any foreign country, to be laughed at because we were Englishmen. Some Jews, indeed, are very wocked and dishonest; but then we should pity, not laugh at them: we should especially pity them for being so unhappy as to refuse and disbelieve that wise and good religion, from which every good action proceeds. Let us remember too, that, if it had pleased God, we might have been born among those poor people; and that now, if he were to leave us to our own wicked inclinations, we should be just as bad any of them.


Fresh from its native waters drawn,
 The Mackarel behold,
Whose back outvies the verdant lawn,
 Whose scales are edg’d with gold.

Grateful alike to sight and taste,
 This truly charming fish,
Presents us with a rich repast,
 And forms a handsome dish.

IF elegance of form, brilliancy of colour, and sweetness of flavour may entitle a fish to admiration, we must, of necessity, bestow it upon the Mackarel; as this is certainly one of the most charming species with which Providence has stored the seas. When first taken from its native element and exposed to the reflection of the sun, its scales seem to vie with the glorious colours of the rainbow; and, as an article of food, it is almost universally esteemed.

Mackarel are sometimes brought to London in prodigious quantities, and offered to the public at a very cheap rate.

Before we dismiss this subject, we must caution our young readers against eating greedily, either of this or any other fish; as, in this case, it will sometimes occasion disorders: and very serious danger has been often incurred by accidentally swallowing one of the little bones.


From street to street the Dustmen go,
And ring, and cry – “dust ho! dust ho!”
With hands and face as black as ink,
Content to live in dirt and stink.

Yet, tho’ they seem so vile and low,
Their merry face will always show,
There can exist a cheerful heart,
E’en tho’ beside a dustman’s cart.

THE dust, which is the remnant ashes of coal after being burnt, as well as all other kinds of rubbish, is taken by men from every house, and carried into the fields near London, where it is sifted. The fine ashes are mixed with clay, for the making of bricks; and the cinders are saved to burn in furnaces where a great heat is required. Even the bones are carefully picked out, and burnt, for the sake of the oil they contain. The pieces of woollen and linen rags are likewise preserved, and afterwards converted into the coarser kinds of paper; and the decayed vegetables and other refuse are good manure for land, and contribute greatly to its fertility.

How wonderful is the invention of man! he not only takes advantage of the more obvious opportunities of advancing his happiness and comfort, which a kind Providence sets before him, but searches out the most remote and unsuspected for that end: – even the vilest refuse he employs to the greatest advantage, after it has served its more common purposes.


Poor Robin and the aged bride,
 Forsook by ev’ry friend,
Can still for nature’s wants provide
 By crying, “Chairs to mend.”

IT is certainly an interesting spectacle to see an oldcouple, bending under the weight of years, and oppressed by sorrow, applying themselves so sedulously to earn an honest penny. Their industry surely should be rewarded.


Good people come and buy
 My piping Hot-Cross-Buns;
Not all the rest who cry,
 Have such delicious ones.

With tea or coffee sweet,
 As from the urn it runs,
Kind people buy and eat
 My piping Hot-Cross-Buns.

OM the day, distinguished in the Calendar by the appellation of Good Friday, we are saluted, at an early hour, with loud and repeated cries of “Hot-cross-buns,” and, though the buns themselves are not better than at any other time, and only differ from other buns in being marked with a cross, most young people express a particular wish to be indulged with them upon that annual occasion.

It must certainly be acknowledged, that this noisy and singular cry is very inconsistent with the solemnity of a day, which is kept in commemoration of our Saviour’s crucifixion: indeed, many thinking people are of opinion, that the keeping in mind the death of Christ, by any particular kind of food, is very ridiculous.