The Cries of London: Exhibiting Several of the Itinerant Traders 1839
Front matter; Memoir; Introduction
EXHIBITING SEVERAL OF THE
ITINERANT TRADERS OF ANTIENT AND MODERN TIMES
COPIED FROM RARE ENGRAVINGS, OR DRAWN FROM THE LIFE,
JOHN THOMAS SMITH,
LATE KEEPER OF THE PRINTS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
WITH A MEMOIR AND PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR.
JOHN BOWYER NICHOLS AND SON, 23, PARLIAMENT STREET.
THE present work was some years since prepared for the press by its late ingenious author, who engraved all the plates for it himself, thirteen of which are copied from early prints, and the rest sketched from the life. It will easily be perceived how much superior the latter are to the former.
The descriptions of the plates were also prepared by Mr. Smith, and had the benefit of revision by the late Francis Douce, Esq. F. S. A.
These spirited etchings having become the property of the present Editor, they are now for the first time submitted to the public; who will, it is hoped, consider this volume an appropriate companion to Mr. Smith’s “Vagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers through the Streets of London,” which work was honoured by a masterly Introduction from the pen of Mr. Douce.
The Editor has taken the liberty, occasionally, to adapt the letter-press to the present day; but the reader will kindly bear in mind that the work was written several years since; and that in the interval many changes have taken place, which it was not thought necessary to point out.
J. B. NICHOLS.
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR, with a Portrait.
I. WATCHMAN, from a rare woodcut temp. James I.
II. BELLMAN, from a work entitled “Villanies discovered by Lanthorne and Candle Light”
III. BILL-MAN, from a print published by Overton, temp. Charles II.
IV. WATER-CARRIER, from a print published by Overton
V. CORPSE-BEARER, in the time of a plague at London
VI. HACKNEY-COACHMAN, from a print published by Overton
VII. JAILOR, from a tract, entitled “Essayes and Characters of a Prison and Prisoners, by Geffray Mynshul. 1638”
VIII. PRISON BASKET-MAN, from a print. published by Overton, temp. Charles II.
X. MARKING-STONES, from a rare woodcut, temp. James I.
XI. BUY A BRUSH, OR A TABLE BOOK, from a print published by Overton
XII. FIRE-SCREENS, from a print published by Overton
XIII. SAUSAGES, from a print temp. Charles II.
XIV. NEW ELEGY
XV. ALL IN FULL BLOOM
XVI. OLD CHAIRS TO MEND – Portrait of Israel Potter
XVII. THE BASKET OR PRICKLE MAKER
XVIII. THE POTTER
XIX. STAFFORDSHIRE WARE
XX. HARD METAL SPOONS – Portrait of William Conway
XXI. DANCING DOLLS
XXII. SPRIG OF SHILLELAH AND SHAMROCK SO GREEN – Portrait of Thomas M’Conwick, the dancing ballad singer
XXIII. GINGERBREAD NUTS, OR JACK’S LAST SHIFT – Portrait of Daniel Clarey
XXIV. CHICKWEED – Portrait of George Smith
XXVI. Three female SIMPLERS
XXVII. WASHERWOMAN, CHAR-WOMAN, and STREET NURSES
XXVIII. SMITHFIELD BARGAINS – Saloop
XXX. THE BLADDER-MAN – Portrait of Bernardo Millano
POSTSCRIPT, by the Editor
JOHN THOMAS SMITH was the son of Nathaniel Smith, sculptor, and afterwards a well-known printseller, living at Rembrandt’s Head, 18 Great May’s-buildings, St. Martin’s-lane; and we have his own authority, written in the album of Mr. Upcott of Upper Street, Islington, for stating, he was literally “born in a hackney coach, June 23, 1766, on its way from his uncle’s old Ned Tarr, a wealthy glass-grinder, of Great Earl Street, Seven Dials, to his father’s house in Great Portland-street, Oxford Street; whilst Maddox was balancing a straw at the Little Theatre in the Hay Market, and Marylebone Gardens re-echoed the melodious notes of the famed Tommy Lowe.”
He was christened John, after his grandfather (a simple Shropshire clothier, and whose bust was the first model publicly exhibited at Spring Gardens), and Thomas, after his great uncle Admiral Smith, better known under the appellation of “Tom of Ten Thousand” (who died in 1762), and of whom Mr. Smith had a most excellent portrait painted by the celebrated Richard Wilson, the landscape painter,before that artist visited Rome, and of which there is a good engraving by Faber. The original Painting has lately been purchased by an honourable Admiral, to be presented by him to the Naval Gallery at Greenwich Hospital.
His father, Nathaniel Smith, was born in Eltham Palace, and was the playfellow of Joseph Nollekens, R. A. They both learned drawing together at William Shipley’s school, then kept in the Strand, at the eastern corner of Castle-court, the house where the Society of Arts held its first meetings.
On the 7th August, 1755, Nathaniel Smith was placed with Roubiliac, and had the honour of working with him on some of the monuments in Westminster Abbey; Nollekens was put, in 1750, under the instruction of Scheemakers. These young sculptors, about 1759 and 1760, carried off some of the first and best prizes offered by the Society of Arts. Smith settled himself in Great Portland-street;; and his friend Nollekens in Mortimer-street, Cavendish-square, where he resided till his death.
Three of the heads of River Gods that adorn the arches of Somerset House, designed by Cipriani, were carved by Mr. N. Smith. Many proofs of his genius are recorded in the “Transactions of the Society of Arts.” In 1758, for the best model in clay, 5l. 5s.; in 1759, for the best drawing from a plaster cast, 5l. 5s.; and for the first best drawing of animals, 3l. 3s.; in 1760, for the first best model of animals, 9l. 9s. (this model is in the possession of Viscount Maynard); in 1761, for the first best model, in clay, of the Continence of Scipio, 15l. 15s. (in the possession of the Marquis of Rockingham); in 1762, for the first best model in clay, 21l. – the subject, Coriolanus supplicated by his Mother. Mr. N. Smith died in 1811. There is a portrait of him, etched by De Wilde; and a small painting on panel by the same artist, is also preserved. Three portraits of him by Howard are now in the family; as is also a fine portrait of his sister, by Cotes.
The friendship between Nollekens and Nath. Smith naturally introduced young Smith, the author of this work, to the notice of that celebrated sculptor. Whilst a boy, his intercourse with Nollekens was frequent, who often took him to walk with him in various parts of London, and seemed to feel a pleasure in pointing out curious remains and alterations of buildings to his notice, as well as shewing him some remarkable vestiges of former times. Perhaps these communications gave the first impetus to that love for metropolitan antiquities which he continued unabated through life. Upon the death of his mother in 1779, young Smith was invited into the studio of Mr. Nollekens, who had seen and approved of some of his attempts in wax-modelling. At that time Nathaniel Smith was Nollekens’s principal assistant; and there his son was employed in making drawings from his models of monuments, assisting in casting, and finally, though with little talent, in carving. Whilst with Nollekens, young Smith often stood to him as a model, but left him after three years. He then became u student in the Royal Academy, and was celebrated for his pen and ink imitations of Reinbrandt and Ostade’s etchings; he copied several of the small pictures of Gainsborough, by whom he was kindly noticed. He afterwards was placed by his honoured friend Dr. Hinchcliffe, then Bishop of Peterborough, as a pupil to John Keyse Sherwin, the celebrated engraver; but appears for a time to have given up the burin for the pencil, and was for many years a drawing master, and at one time resided at Edmonton. At the early age of 22 he married “the girl of his heart,” Miss Anne Maria Pickett (of the respectable family of Keighley, at Streatham, in Surrey), who, after a union of 45 years, was left his widow.
The name of John Thomas Smith will descend to posterity connected with the Topographical History of the Metropolis. His first work, published in numbers, was entitled, “Antiquities of London and its Environs; dedicated to Sir James Winter Lake, Bart. F.S.A.; containing Views of Houses, Monuments, Statues, and other curious remains of antiquity, engraved from the original. subjects, and from original drawings communicated by several members of the Society of Antiquaries.” There was no letter-press description of these plates; but under the subjects were engraved copious “Remarks, and References to the Historical Works of Pennant, Lysons, Stow, Weever, Camden, and Maitland.” The publication commenced in January 1791. About this period it became the fashion to illustrate with prints the pleasant “Account of London,” by Mr. Pennant; and Mr. Smith’s series of plates was a great acquisition to the collector. This work was ten years in progress, and finally consisted of twelve numbers and ninety-six plates; for a list of them, see Upcott’s Bibliographical Account of English Topography, vol. ii. p. 886.
In June, 1797, Mr. Smith published “Remarks on Rural Scenery; with twenty Etchings of Cottages, from Nature; and some Observations and Precepts relative to the Picturesque.” The etchings were chiefly of cottages in the neighbourhood of the metropolis.
In June, 1807, Mr. Smith published “Antiquities of Westminster; the old Palace; and St. Stephen’s Chapel (now the House of Commons); containing 246 Engravings of Topographical Objects, of which 122 no longer remain. This work contains copies of MSS. which throw new and unexpected light on the ancient History of the Arts in England.” This history appear to have been determined on in the year 1800; when, on occasion of the Union with Ireland, it becoming necessary to remove the wainscotting for the enlargement of the House of Commons, some very curious paintings were discovered on the 11th of August in that year. The next day Dr. Charles Gower and Mr. Smith visited the paintings: when the latter immediately determined to publish engravings from them; and on the 14th, permission having been obtained. Mr. Smith commenced his drawings. It was his custom to go there as soon as it was light, and to work till nine o’clock in the morning, when he was obliged to give way to the workmen, who often followed him so close in their operations, as to remove, in the course of the day on which he had made his sketch, the painting which he had been employed in copying that very morning. Six weeks, day by day, was Mr. Smith thus occupied in making drawings and memoranda from the pictures themselves, scrupulously matching the tint of the different colours on the spot. On the 26th Of September, the permission which had been granted to him was withdrawn (on Mr. Robert Smirke, the more favoured draughtsman, undertaking to make drawings for the Society of Antiquaries); but fortunately by that time Mr. Smith had completed details of every thing he wished. An opinion having been entertained that Mr. Smith’s work was intended as a rival to the one published by the Society of Antiquaries, from Mr. Smirke’s drawings, the transaction was explained in some letters to the Gentleman’s Magazine from Mr. J. Sidney Hawkins, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Smirke. See vol. LXXIII. pp. 32, 118, 204, 318, 423.
The description of the Plates was begun by John Sidney Hawkins, Esq. F.S.A., who wrote the preface and the first 144 pages, besides other portions, as enumerated in Mr. Smith’s advertisement to the volume; but an unfortunate dispute arising between these gentlemen (a circumstance much to be regretted) the work was completed by the latter. Mr. Hawkins wrote and published a pamphlet in answer to Mr. Smith’s Preface; this produced a “Vindication,” in reply, which is occasionally to be found bound at the end of the volume. Before this “Vindication” was published, a fire at Mr. Bensley’s printing office destroyed 400 remaining copies of the work, with 5,600 prints, 2000 of which were coloured and elaborately gilt by Mr. Smith and his wife. By this fire Mr. Smith sustained a severe loss (estimated at £3,000) as the work was his entire property, having been published at his sole expense, aided by an unusually liberal subscription; Mr. Hawkins having no further interest or concern in it than furnishing gratuitously the greater portion of the descriptions. Mr. Smith afterwards published “Sixty-two additional Plates” to his “Antiquities of Westminster;” but without any description, or even a list of them; for which however see Upcott’s Account of English Topography, vol. ii. p. 839. The “Antiquities of London, &c.” was followed by another work on the same subject, in a larger and more splendid quarto, entitled, “Ancient Topography of London, embracing specimens of sacred, public and domestic Architecture, from the earliest period to the time of the great Fire, 1666. Drawn and etched by John Thomas Smith, intended as an Accompaniment to the celebrated Histories of Stow, Pennant, and Others.” This work was begun in October 1810, and completed in 1815, when the title was altered as follows: “Ancient Topography of London; containing not only Views of Buildings which in many instances no longer exist, and for the most part were never before published, but some Account of Places and Customs either unknown or overlooked by the London Historians.” He was assisted in the descriptions by Francis Douce, Esq. F. S. A. and other friends. This volume consists of 32 Plates, boldly and masterly etched by Mr. Smith, much in the style of Piranesi, and explained in 82 pages of letter-press. To the subscribers Mr. Smith intimated his intention to extend his work to 100 pages, with several other plates; but this was never executed; he at the same time solicited communications for his intended “Account of the Parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden.” The Manuscript is still possessed by his widow.
Mr. Smith happily escaped the necessity and drudgery of continuing his labours as an artist, being appointed in 1816, Keeper of the Prints and Drawings in the British Museum.
In 1817 he published “Vagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers through the Streets of London; with Portraits of the most remarkable, drawn from the life;” preceded by a masterly introduction, from the pen of Francis Douce, Esq. The present Volume, which was prepared for the press by Mr. Smith, but never before published, may be considered as a continuation of the same subject. In 1828 Mr. Smith published two volumes, entitled, “Nollekens and his Times; comprehending a Life of that celebrated Sculptor; and Memoirs of several contemporary Artists, from the time of Roubiliac, Hogarth, and Reynolds, to that of Fuseli, Flaxman, and Blake,” 2 vols. 8vo. These volumes abound with anecdotes of his venerable master, his wife, and their connexions, and of many of the artists of the last century. The publication passed through two editions.
Mr. Smith had been employed on a work, which he intended to call “Walks through London;” and in which he was to describe the Residences, with anecdotes of eminent persons. He announced a “History of his own Life and Times,” the materials for which have been purchased by Mr. Bentley. He had also at one time a very extensive and curious illustrated series of the Royal Academy Catalogues. The greater part of his collection of Autographs and Letters was purchased a few years since by Mr. Upcott; and it is believed others were sold by Mr. Christie. His remaining collection of pictures, books, models, and casts in terra-cotta and plaster, were sold at his house, 22, University-street, Tottenham Court Road, on Tuesday the 23rd of April, 1833. Mr. Smith was very generally known, both from the importance of his publications and the public situation he held at the British Museum, where he evinced much cordiality of disposition. Many an instance might be mentioned of his charitable and friendly assistance to young artists who sought his advice. He had good judgment to discover merit where it existed, inherent good feeling to encourage it in a deserving object, and sufficient candour to deter from the pursuit where he found there was no indication of talent. In short, he was a very warm and sincere friend; and has been greatly regretted by many who had enjoyed his good-humoured conversation and ever amusing fund of anecdote; more particularly by the frequenters of the print-room of the Museum, where his unremitting attentions ensured for him the regard and respect of some of the first characters of the country.
In Mr. Upcott’s album he wrote a playful account of himself, in which is the following paragraph. “I can boast of seven events, some of which great men would be proud of. I received a kiss when a boy from the beautiful Mrs. Robinson, – was patted on the head by Dr. Johnson, – have frequently held Sir Joshua Reynolds’s spectacles, – partook of a pot of porter with an elephant, – saved Lady Hamilton from falling when the melancholy news arrived of Lord Nelson’s death, – three times conversed with King George the Third, – and was shut up in a room with Mr. Kean’s lion.”* [* Mr. Smith went to breakfast with Mr. Kean, who met him in the Hall, and asked him if he would like to nee his lion; at the same moment introduced him to the beast in the parlour, who fawned about him; Mr. Kean became alarmed, and enticed the animal to the window, whilst Mr. Smith went up to Mrs. Kean in the drawing. room, who, on hearing of the circumstance, exclaimed, “Is Edmund mad?” Mr. Smith that morning made a sketch of the lion in his den.]
Mr. Smith’s last illness, an inflammation of the lungs, was but of one week’s duration. He was fully conscious of his approaching dissolution, and died in the possession of all his faculties, surrounded by his family, on the 8th of March 1833, at No. 22, University Street, Tottenham Court Road. He was privately interred on the 16th in the burial ground of St. George’s Chapel, near Tyburn Turnpike, attended to the grave by a few old friends and brother artists.
Besides his widow Mr. Smith left one son, who died at the Cape of Good Hope three months after his father; and two daughters; one of whom is married to Mr. Smith, the sculptor; the other to Mr. Fischer. the miniature-painter, a native of Hanover.
Of Mr. Smith there is a three-quarters portrait by J. Jackson, R. A.; and also a drawing of him by the same artist, from which the engraving given in this work, by Skelton, is copied.
J. B. NICHOLS.
JOHN THOMAS SMITH
Late Keeper of the Prints in the British Museum.
THERE are few subjects, perhaps, so eagerly attended to by the young as those related by their venerable parents when assembled round the fire-side, but more particularly descriptions of the customs and habits of ancient times. Now as the Cries of London are sometimes the topic of conversation, the author of the present work is not without the hope of finding, amongst the more aged as well as juvenile readers, many to whom it may prove acceptable, inasmuch as it not only exhibits several Itinerant Traders and other persons of various callings of the present day but some of those of former times, collected from engravings executed in the reigns of James I. Charles I. and during the Usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, and which, on account of their extreme rarity, are seldom to be seen but in the most curious and expensive Collections.
In the perusal of this volume the collector of English Costume, as well as the Biographer, may find something to his purpose, particularly in the old dresses, as it was the custom for our forefathers to wear habits peculiar to their station, and not, as in the present times, when a linen-draper’s apprentice, or a gentleman’s butler, may, in the boxes of the theatre, by means of his dress, and previously to uttering a word be mistaken for the man of fashion.
Of all the itinerant callings the Watchman, the Water Carrier, the Vender of Milk, the Town Crier, and the Pedlar, are most probably of the highest antiquity.
When the Suburbs of London were infested with wolves and other depredators, and the country at large in a perpetual state of warfare, it was found expedient for the inhabitants to protect themselves, and for that purpose they surrounded their city by a wall, and according to the most ancient custom erected barbicans or watch-towers at various distances, commanding a view of the country, so that those on guard might see the approach of an enemy. This is an extremely ancient custom, as we find in the Second Book of Kings, chapter ix. verse 17, “And there stood a watchman on the Tower in Jezreel.”
With respect to water, it is natural to suppose that before conduits were established in London, the inhabitants procured it from the River Thames, and that infirm people, and the more opulent citizens, compensated others for the trouble of bringing it.
This must have also been the practice as to milk, in consequence of the farm-houses always being situated in the suburbs for the purpose of grazing the cattle. Stowe, historian, has informed us that in his boyish days he had his three quarts of milk hot from the cow for his halfpenny.
The Water Carrier will be described and delineated in the course of this work.
As the city increased in population, a Town Crier became expedient, so that an article to be sold, or any thing lost, might be in the shortest possible time made known to the inhabitants of the remotest dwelling. Shakspeare has marked the character of a Crier of his time in Hamlet, Act m. scene 2, “But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lieve the Town-crier spoke my lines.” Lazarello de Tormes, in the very entertaining history of his life, describes his having been a Crier at Madrid, and that by blowing a horn he announced the sale of some wine.
Sometimes the criers of country towns afford instances of the grossest flattery and ignorance. We have an instance in the Crier of Cowbridge, Glamorganshire, who, after announcing the loss of an “all black cow, with a white face and a white tail,” concluded with the usual exclamation of “God save the King and the Lord of the Manor!” adding, “and Master Billy!” well knowing that the Lord of the Manor or his Lady would remember him for recollecting their infant son.
It may be inferred from an ancient stained glass picture of a pedlar with his pack at his hack, still to be seen in a South-east window of Lambeth Church, a representation of which has been given by the author in a work entitled, “Antiquities of London” that itinerant trades must have been of long standing.
It appears from the celebrated Comedy of Ignoramus, by George Ruggle, performed before King James the First on March the 8th, 1614, of which there is an English translation by Robert Codrington, published 1662, that books were at that period daily cried in the streets.
In the third scene of the second act, Cupes the itinerant Bibliopole exclaims,
Libelli, belli, belli; lepidi, novi libelli; belli, belli, libelli!
Trico. Heus, libelli belli.
Cupes. O Trico, mox tibi operam do. Ita vivam, ut pessimi sunt libelli.
In the time of Charles II. ballad singers and sellers of small books were required to be licensed. John Clarke, bookseller, rented the licensing of all ballad-singers of Charles Killigrew, Esq. master of the revels, for five years, which term expired in 1682. “These, therefore, are to give notice (saith the latter gentleman in the London Gazette) to all ballad-singers, that they take out licenses at the office of the Revels at Whitehall, for singing and selling of ballads and small books, according to an antient custom. And all persons concerned are hereby desired to take notice of, and to suppress, all mountebanks, rope-dancers, prize-players, ballad-singers, and such as make shew of motions and strange sights, that have not a license in red and black letters, under the hand and seal of the said Charles Killigrew, Esq. Master of the Revels to his Majesty; and in particular, to suppress one Mr. Irish, Mr. Thomas Varney, and Thomas Yeats, mountebank, who have no license, that they may be proceeded against according to law.”
The Gazette of April 14, 1684, contains another order relative to these licenses: “All persons concerned are hereby desired to take notice of and suppress all mountebanks, rope-dancers, ballad-singers, &c. that have not a license from the Master of his Majesty’s Revels (which, for this present year, are all printed with black letters, and the King’s Arms in red) and particularly Samuel Rutherford and — Irish, mountebanks, and William Bevel and Richard Olsworth; and all those that have licenses with red and black letters, are to come to the office to change them for licenses as they are now altered.”
The origin of our early cries might be ascribed to the parent of invention. An industrious man finding perhaps his trade running slack, might have ventured abroad with his whole stock, and by making his case known, invited his neighbours to purchase; and this mode of vending commodities being adopted by others, probably established the custom of itinerant hawkers, to the great and truly serious detriment of those house-keepers who contributed to support their country by the payment of their taxes. An Act was passed in the reign of James the First, and is thus noticed in a work entitled, “Legal Provisions for the Poor, by S. C. of the Inner Temple, 1713.” “All Pedlars, Petty-chap-men, Tinkers, and Glass-men, per Statute 21 Jac. 28, abroad, especially if they be unknown, or have not a sufficient testimonial, and though a man have a certain habitation, yet if he goes about from place to place selling small wares, he is punishable by the 39 Eliz.”
Hawkers and Pedlars are obliged at this time, in consequence of an Act passed in the reign of King George the Third, to take out a license.
Originally the common necessaries of life were only sold in the streets, but we find as early as the reign of Elizabeth that cheese-cakes were to be had at the small house near the Serpentine River in Hyde Park. It is a moated building, and to this day known under the appellation of the “Queen’s Cheese-cake House.” There were also other houses for the sale of cheese-cakes, and those at Hackney and Holloway were particularly famous. The landlord of the latter employed people to cry them about the streets of London; and within the memory of the father of the present writer an old man delivered his cry of “Holloway Cheese-cakes,” in a tone so whining and slovenly, that most people thought he said “All my teeth ache.” Indeed among persons who have been long accustomed to cry the articles they have for sale, it is often impossible to guess at what they say.
An instance occurs in an old woman who has for a length of time sold mutton dumplings in the neighbourhood of Gravel Lane. She may be followed for a whole evening, and all that can be conjectured from her utterance is “Hot mutton trumpery.”
In another instance, none but those who have heard the man, would for a moment believe that his cry of “Do you want a brick or brick dust?” could have been possibly mistaken for “Do you want a lick on the head?”
An inhabitant of the Adelphi, when an invalid, was much annoyed by the peevish and lengthened cry of “Venny,” proceeding every morning and evening from a muffin-man whenever he rang his bell.
Many of the old inhabitants of Cavendish Square must recollect the mournful manner in which a weather-beaten Hungerford fisherman cried his “Large silver Eels, live Eels.” This man’s tones were so melancholy to the ears of a lady in Harley Street that she allowed the fellow five shillings a week to discontinue his cry in that neighbourhood; and there is at the present time a slip-shod wretch who annoys Portland Place and its vicinity generally twice, and sometimes three times a day, with what may be strictly called the braying of an ass, and all his vociferation is to inform the public that he sells water-cresses, though he appears to call “Chick-weed.” Another Stentorian bawler, and even a greater nuisance in the same neighbourhood, seems to his unfortunate hearers to deal in “Cats’-meat,” though his real cry is “Cabbage-plants.”
The witty author of a tract entitled, “An Examination of certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities, in the City of Dublin,” written in the year 1732, says, “I would advise all new comers to look out at their garret windows, and there see whether the thing that is cried be Tripes or Flummery, Buttermilk or Cowheels; for, as things are now managed, how is it possible for an honest countryman just arrived, to find out what is meant, for instance, by the following words, ‘Muggs, Juggs, and Porringers, up in the Garret, and down in the Cellar?’ I say, how is it possible for a stranger to understand that this jargon is meant as an invitation to buy a farthing’s work of milk for his breakfast or supper?”
Captain Grose, in his very entertaining little work, entitled “An Olio,” in which there are many interesting anecdotes, notices several perversions of this kind, particularly one of a woman who sold milk.
Farthing mutton pies were made and continued to be sold within the memory of persons now living at a house which was then called the “Farthing Pie House,” in Marylebone Fields, before the New Road was made between Paddington and Islington, and which house remains in its original state at the end of Norton Street, New Road, bearing the sign of the Green Man.
Hand’s Bun House at Chelsea was established about one hundred and twenty years since, and probably was the first of its kind. There was also a famous bun-house at the time of George the Second in the Spa Fields, near the New River Head, on the way to Islington, but this was long since pulled down to make way for the sheep-pens, the site of which is now covered with houses.
The first notice which the writer has been able to obtain of the hot apple-dumpling women is in Ned Ward’s very entertaining work, entitled “The London Spy,” first published in 1698. He there states that Pancakes and “Diddle, diddle dumplings O!” were then cried in Rosemary Lane and its vicinity, commonly called Rag Fair. The representation of a dumpling-woman, in the reign of Queen Anne, is given by Laroon in his Cries of London, published 1711.* [* This curious series of the Cries of London, drawn after the life, was engraved on 74 copper-plates by Tempesta, after Laroon. It is noticed in Hone’s Table Book, vol. ii. p. 131, where twenty of these Cries not now heard in the streets are described, and the following figures are copied. 1. “Buy a fine singing bird,” vol. i. p. 510; 2. “Six pence a pound, fair cherries;” and 3. “Troop every one!” the seller of hobby-horses, toys for children, i. 686; 4. “Any New-River water here,” p. 733; 5. “Fine Writing Ink;” and 6. “Buy an Iron Fork, or a Spoon,” vol. ii. p. 431. The Set of Cries by Paul Sandby, consists of twelve. Both these have many real portraits. (Gough’s Brit. Top. i. 699.) N.]
With respect to hot potatoes, they must have been considerably more modern, as there are persons now living who declare them to have been eaten with great caution, and very rarely admitted to the table. The potatoe is a native of Peru in South America; it has been introduced into England about a century and a half; the Irish seem to have been the first general cultivators of it in the western parts of Europe.
Rice milk, furmety, and barley-broth were in high request at the time of Hogarth, about 1740. Boitard, a French artist, who was in England at that time, has left us a most spirited representation of the follies of the day in his print entitled “Covent Garden Morning Frolic,” in which the barley-broth woman is introduced. Without detracting from the merit of the immortal Hogarth, this print, which is extremely rare, exhibits as much humour as any of his wonderful productions. A copy of this engraving with an explanatory account of the portraits which it exhibits, will be given by the author in his Topographical History of Covent Garden, a work for which he has been collecting materials for upwards of thirty years.*
[* It is much to be regretted that Mr. Smith never completed this work, for which he had collected valuable materials, which we fear are dispersed. N.]
The use of saloop is of very recent date. It was brought into notice, and first sold in Fleet Street one hundred years ago, at the house now No. 102, where lines in its praise were painted upon a board and hung up in the first room from the street, a copy of which will precede a print representing a saloop stall, given in this work.
Formerly strong waters were publicly sold in the streets, but since the duty has been laid on spirits, and an Act passed to oblige persons to take out a license for dealing in liquors, the custom of hawking such commodities has been discontinued.
The town, from the vigilance of the Police, has fortunately got rid of a set of people called Duffers, who stood at the corners of streets, inviting the unsuspicious countryman to lay out his money in silk handkerchiefs or waistcoat pieces, which they assured him in a whisper to have been smuggled. A notorious fellow of this class, who had but one eye, took his stand regularly near the gin-shop at the corner of Hog Lane, Oxford Street. The mode adopted by such men to draw the ignorant higgler into a dark room, where he was generally fleeced, was by assuring him that no one could see them, and as for a glass of old Tom, he would pay for that himself, merely for the pleasure of shewing his goods.
Though this custom of accosting passengers at the corners of streets is very properly done away with, yet the tormenting importunities of the barking shopkeeper is still permitted, as all can witness as they pass through Monmouth Street, Rosemary Lane, Houndsditch, and Moorfields. The public were annoyed in this way so early as 1626, as appears from the following passage in “Greene’s Ghost:” “There are another sort of Prentices, that when they see a gentlewoman or a countriman minded to buy any thing, they will fawne upon them, with cap in hand, with ‘What lacke you, gentlewoman? what lacke you, countriman? see what you lacke.’ ”