Street cries of the world

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



THE greatest Philosophers in all Ages, and in every Country, have been more indebted to a nice Observation of Men and Things for their superior Knowledge and Experience, than to abstruse Speculations, or the vague Dogmas of the Schools. Solomon is justly ranked among the wisest and best of men; and he points out the Way to obtain Wisdom, in a Manner much more plain and certain than any other Philosopher, either before his Time or since.

Doth not Wisdom cry? (says he) and Understanding put forth her Voice?

She standeth in the Top of high Places, by the Way of the Places in the Paths.

She crieth at the Gates of the City, at the Entry of the City, at the coming in at the Doors.

Here it is plainly asserted, that real Knowledge is to be obtained in the public Places, not in sleepy Cloisters; by an accurate Attention to the Minds and Dispositions of Men (the great Springs of all human Actions) and not to the Subtleties of a vain Philosophy.

The proper Study of Mankind is Man. POPE.

For this reason I have at present collected a variety of Personages from the Public Streets, which I flatter myself will neither be unuseful or unentertaining. The People of England display a greater variety of Character than any other Nation upon the Earth: The French, on the other hand, have few peculiarities; their Manners are nearly the same, from the Marquis down to the Valet de Chambre; from the Court Lady to her Milliner. In England we find many an Hero, many an honest Man, and many a shrewd Philosopher, (making proper allowances for the limits of education) among the lowest and most unnoticed; at the same time that we discover even among the Great, many who are utterly ignorant of every Author except Hoyle, many a Coward, and many a Knave. Hence, surely, it follows, that the very meanest, as they are generally termed, of human society, are far from being unworthy of our attention.

O THOU, whate’er thy name, in blest abodes,
Who grind’st the Knives of Jove and all the Gods,
Smooth let my Verses flow as oil, or rather,
Like thine own Razor-Strap of greazy leather;
Sharp be their edge, as edge of sharpest knife,
That in these moral pages to the life
I may descry, and closely trim each truth,
And be the Whetstone to the rising youth.

ATTEND this cry, ye London Beaus,
Procure a Mat to clean your shoes,
Else will ye ev’ry carpet spoil,
And cause to household maids much toil;
And O! ye Belles, when Winter comes,
Think what a saving ’tis in Brooms;
Think what a comfort to your feet
To have a Straw-mat clean and neat.

O’ER nerve-relaxing tea no longer waste
The morning hour; did you know the taste
Of home-found Ivy, you would ne’er explore
For foreign shrubs a distant Indian shore:
And ye, with dire scorbutic Ills o’errun,
All wretched nostrums and their venders shun,
The Cress will all cutaneous illness mock;
Then quit the aid of Flugger and of Rock.

THUS does the Tinker round the city call,
And vows he’ll stop your leaky vessels all;
But ah! beware, his words may not be true,
And for one hole perhaps he’ll make you two.

GOOD boys will oft a Dumpling crave,
 When this old woman comes;
And he that’s very good, shall have
 A Dumpling full of Plums,
But O! ye naughty boys, who heed
 Nor Daddy, nor yet Mammy,
You’ll ne’er on such nice dainties feed,
 With dumplings they’ll ne’er cram ye.

THIS dirty Son of Israel’s race,
 While wealthy folks are sleeping,
You up and down the town may trace,
 In ev’ry area peeping.

But ah! beware, ye men and maids,
 His bargains you’ll repent;
Remember well the Varlet trades
 At least for Cent per Cent.

IN winter time, when dirty shoes
 Are apt to daub the floor,
Ne’er let the honest Sandman pass
 Unheeded by the door.

For whoso does assistance lend
 To forward cleanliness,
All housewives surely will befriend,
 With bounties, more or less.

THEY Hot Cross Buns are call’d, I ween,
Because a cross thereon in seen.
Remembering us the Jews did slay
Our Saviour upon Golgotha;
And that of sin we are set free
By his sad sufferings on the tree.
A glorious offering of free will,
To all who do his laws fulfil!

TO mend your Bellows Joe will trot
 Still up and down the streets;
He loves too well the Porter Pot,
 And very little eats.

The while he lives, in idle waste,
 Like many foolish fellows,
A Phthisic coming on apace,
 Destroys his own life’s bellows.

GREEN Gooseberries are ever good,
 A nice light crust betwixt,
And wholesome cooling Summer food,
 With milk and sugar mixt.

But eat them mod’rately, ye fair,
 And all ye jolly boys;
Or else their acid none will space,
 And sugar ever cloys.