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.


+ British Isles pre-19th century

− British Isles 1800–49

The Dublin Cries 1800

The New Cries of London 1800

The New Cries of London, with Characteristic Engravings 1803

The Cries of London, as They are Daily Exhibited in the Streets 1804

The Itinerant Traders of London in their Ordinary Costume 1804

London Cries for Children c. 1806

Letters from London 1808

London Cries for Children 1810

Six Charming Children 1812

The Cries of York c. 1812

Portraits of Curious Characters in London 1814

Etchings of Remarkable Beggars 1815

The Merry London Cries c. 1815

The Moving Market: or, Cries of London 1815

Vagabondiana 1817

The Cries of London, Shewing How to Get a Penny for a Rainy Day c. 1820

The Moving Market; or, Cries of London c. 1820

The Cries of London, for the Instruction and Amusement of Good Children c. 1820

Costume of the Lower Orders of London 1820

Rowlandson's Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders 1820

Sam Syntax's Description of the Cries of London 1821

Costume of the Lower Orders of the Metropolis 1822

The Cries of London, Drawn from Life 1823

London Melodies; Or, Cries of the Seasons c. 1825

The Every-Day Book and Table Book 1827

The Cries of London, Coloured c. 1830

The Cries in the Streets of London c. 1830

The Cries of Banbury and London c. 1837

The Cries of London: Exhibiting Several of the Itinerant Traders 1839

Knight's London: Street Noises 1841

New Cries of London 1844

The Dublin Cries c. 1844

Old London Cries 1847

The London Cries & Public Edifices 1847

+ British Isles 1850–99

+ British Isles 20th century

+ Continental Europe

+ Russia, Asia and Africa

+ USA, Jamaica and Australia



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.


Thus Jack earns a penny to buy him some bread,
 And beguiles his black work with a song;
Around him his saucepans and kettles are spread,
 While he hammers, nick nock and ding dong.

To no honest toil, occupation, or trade,
 Contempt or derision belong;
Jack knows very well man for labour was made,
 While he hammers, nick nock and ding dong.

WHILE numbers prefer beggary to employment, it is pleasing to see others prefer employment to beggary; nor should we think the lowest station contemptible: whatever is necessary, or useful, is also respectable; and while we admire industry in the lowest mechanic, we despise indolence, even in the highest, the richest, and the most noble. Man was made to labour; – it strengthens his body, and keeps his mind from many evils.

I have even known some, who had every pleasure they could desire, and were made miserable only by the want of regular employment; while others, who seem to enjoy none of the comforts of life, are truly happy, in the cheerfulness, independence, and health which industrious labour bestows. Our honest Tinker is better than an idle lord.


How sweetly sounds the tinkling bell,
 Which lures the flock to rest,
While sportive kids bound o’er the dell
 And songsters seek their nest.

’Tis then the lab’ring swain prepares
 To climb the cherry tree,
To banish all his children’s cares,
 And fill their hearts with glee.

THERE are no fewer than sixteen* varieties of this fruit, which are both ornamental to the table and gratifying to the palate; and, whether we contemplate them as hanging on their respective trees, displayed in the greengrocer’s window, or more tastefully laid out by the confectioner, we must of necessity acknowledge them to rank high among the beauteous gifts of Nature, and to excuse, by their tempting appearance, the anxiety which young people usually express for them. In tarts and pies, cherries are accounted delicious; and, if properly managed, they make excellent wine; but when eaten with the stones, or in large quantities, they are apt to injure the stomach, and sometimes produce very ill effects.

* There are the early May cherries, May duke, Arch duke, Harrison’s duke, white heart, bleeding heart, Adam’s crown heart, ox heart, amber, Turkey, Kentish, Morella, Corsican, wild black, wild red, and Portugal.


Though gather’d in a distant land,
 See the rich Orange lie,
On cunning Levi’s outstretch’d hand,
 Who teases you to buy.

If friends permit, and money suit,
 The tempting purchase make;
But, first, examine well the fruit,
 And then the change you take.

ORANGES, though frequently offered for sale at the rate two for a penny, are brought from very distant parts of the world: the China oranges are accounted the best. These do not actually come from China, but are called by that name because the plants onwhich they grow were originally brought from that country into Spain and Portugal, where the climate has proved so favourable to their production, that we are supplied with them as plentifully as if they were the produce of our own country.

The St. Michael’s oranges, which are brought from the Azores, or Western Islands, belonging to the Portuguese, are a superior kind of China oranges. The pot oranges are the first produce of the young plants, while they are in pots: they are afterwards transplanted into the open ground.

This delicious fruit is gathered is gathered when quite green; and though each is separately surrounded with paper, and they are carefully packed in boxes, great quantities decay before they reach this country.

The Orange groves which embellish Asia, Africa, and some parts of Europe are extremely beautiful, and impregnate the passing breezes with extraordinary fragrance; but the small trees that are kept in English hot-houses are merely raised for ornament and curiosity.

This fruit is exceedingly fine, either in its natural state or when it has passed through the hands of a confectioner. It makes charming wine and marmalade, and gives a delicious flavour to cakes, tarts, custards, creams, and jellies; and its rind, when candied, is truly excellent.

Persons who purchase Oranges in the street, should carefully examine whether they are sound, as many of them are the mere refuse of an orange-merchant’s shop. It is also advisable to try the weight of them by the hand, as their value may be nearly ascertained by that method.


Old Colin cries, from street to street,
 His vegetable wares;
And many a plant, of odour sweet
 And colour bright, he bears.

And not the silks and satins fine,
 The skilful artist waeaves,
With half such brilliant beauties shine,
 As one of nature’s leaves.

HOW many and beautiful are the works and favours of God! In the woods, we behold the lasting oak, the lofty elm, and the slender fir; the fields are covered with harvests as bright as gold; the kitchen garden contains an amazing number of vegetables, wholesome for food or refreshing to the taste; while the flower-bed presents us with a thousand beautiful colours and charming smells, with which we may innocently, and even laudably, amuse ourselves; for in them are displayed the rich bounty, and the most delicate workmanship of God.

The rose is not needed for food, nor the lily for clothing; but they delight the eye, afford a healthy employment to rear and cultivate them, and inspire the mind with admiration of the Creator; for “Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.”