− British Isles 1800–49
The Itinerant Traders of London in their Ordinary Costume 1804
The following plates and descriptions form an appendix to the book Modern London: Being the History and Present State of the British Metropolis, published in 1804.
BAKING and Boiling Apples are cried in the streets of the metropolis from their earliest appearance in summer throughout the whole winter. Prodigious quantities of apples are brought to the London markets, where they are sold by the hundred to the criers, who retail them about the streets in pennyworths, or at so much per dozen, according to their quality. In winter the barrow-woman usually stations herself at the corner of a street, and is supplied with a pan of lighted charcola, over which, on a plate of tin, she roasts a part of her stock, and disposes of her hot apples to the labouring men and shivering boys who pass her barrow.
STRATFORD PLACE, the scene in the Plate, is on the north side and near the west end of Oxford-street. It has no thoroughfare; the lower stories of the houses, which are lofty and handsome, are built on a regular design, and faced with rustic stone-work. The house at the north end, facing towards Oxford-street, was lately the property and residence of the Earl of Aldborough, whose family name is Stratford, but is now occupied by the Duke of St. Albans. The late Lord Aldborough erected a pillar, in the form of a candlestick, surmounted with a most disproportioned statue of his Majesty, at the upper end of this place. This triumphal monument, if it deserved that name, was erected in honour of several memorable victories, and built of a composition resembling stone; but it is already neasrly destroyed, two sides of the railing being pulled down, and the inscription, which recorded the cause of its erection and the titles of his Lordship, almost defaced. Barren as London is of the classic decorations of statues and public monumments, we cannot wish to see the pillar of Stratford-place repaired upon the same inelegant and puerile design in which it was originally executed. The object was however good.
GENERALLY made of pasteborad, and neatly covered with coloured papers, are of all shapes and sizes, and sold at every intermediate price between sixpence and three shillings. Some made of light deal, covered like the others, but in addition to their greater strength having a lock and key, sell according to their size, from three shillings and sixpence to six shillings each. The crier of Band-boxes or his family manufacture them; and these cheap articles of convenience are only to be bought of the persons who cry them through the streets.
The Bibliotheque d’Education, or TABART’S Juvenile Library, seen to the left of the Plate, is in New Bond-street, at the corner of Grafton-street. It is a very admirable and unique Institution, where all elementary books of science and education are to be found, in addition to every moral and amusing publication that can
– “teach the young idea how to shoot,
Or pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind.”
MARKET, fruit, bread, bird, work, and many other kinds of Baskets, the inferior of rush, the better sort made of osier, and some of them neatly coloured and adorned, are to be bought cheaply of the criers of Baskets.
WHITFIELD’S TABERNACLE, in Tabernacle-street, north of Finsbury-square, is the place of worship belonging to the Calvinistical Methodists. It is a large octagon building, with galleries. The body is divided into pews, to which every member subscribes a small sum quarterly, and have equal access to all. The Tabernacle is numerously attended on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
THE Bellows-mender carries his tools and apparatus buckled in a leathern bag to his back, and, like the Chair-mender, exercises his occupation in any convenient corder of the street. The Bellows-mender also sometimes professes the trade of a Tinker.
A part of SMITHFIELD is seen in the Plate on one of the days of the market for hay. Those days are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays the great cattle market of London is held in Smithfield; on which days it is disagreeable, if not dangerous, to pass the avenues of Smithfield in the early part of the day, on account of the droves of oxen passing from the market, on whom the drovers sometimes exercise great cruelty. THe barbarous practices of these men have been have been, however, greatly checked by a law, which compels them to wear a badge with a number on one arm; and it is a duty which every person owes to the public to order into immediate custody a drover who shall be seen to maltreat the animals under his guidance. There is likewise a horse-fair in Smithfield once a week.
Smithfield has been alternately the field for gallant tilts and tournaments in the age of chivalry; the scene of trials by duel in the infancy of legislation; and, in the age of bigotry, of our autos da fè. Here is now held the popular show of Bartholomew-fair, which was granted, by charter of Henry the Second, to the neighbouring priory of St. Bartholomew, for three days in the month of September; where fire-eaters, jugglers, and mountebanks of every description exhibit their dexterity. Formerly, however, the best actors exhibited here, and it was the resort of much good company. Bartholomew-fair is the favourite holiday of the lower classes, and its crowded scene usually affords a plentiful harvest to pickpockets and petty sharpers. Its humours, however, will never be totally lost so long as Hogarth’s inimitable plate exists.
The principal entrance to St. Bartholomew’s hospital is in Smithfield.
IS carried about the metropolis in small sacks on the backs of asses, and is sold at one penny per quart. As Brick-dust is scarcely used in London for any other purpose than that of knife-cleaning, the criers are not numerous; but they are remarkable for their fondness and their training of bull-dogs. This predilection they have in common with the lamp-lighters of the metropolis.
PORTMAN SQUARE, which forms the other subject of the Plate, is large and handsome. It stands in Marybone, to the north of Oxford-street. In the middle of the square is an oval enclosure, which is ornamented with clumps of trees, flowering shrubs, and evergreens. In the background of the Plate, large centre house is the town residence of the Duke of Athol: it was formerly occupied by the French ambassadors. The ceilings and compartments of the wainscot are decorated, with great taste, with paintings by Cipriani and Angelica Kauffman. In the salle a manger, and the breakfast-room, the subjects are taken from Virgil’s Georgics, and those in the drawing-room from the Æneid. The staircases are also ornamented with some fine designs by the former artist. On the left of the Plate, in the north-west corner, standing obliquely to the square, and surrounded by an extensive garden, stands MONTAGUE HOUSE, the residence of the late celebrated Mrs. Montague, the foundress of the well-known meeting of literary ladies, distinguished by the name of the BLUE STOCKING CLUB
; an appellation which it received from the singular dress of a gentleman (in always wearing blue stockings), who was the only male person permitted to intrude into this female coterie, and who acted as moderator upon any question which occasioned difference of opinion. The corner house, seen in the Plate, adjoining to the Duke of Athol’s, is the residence of Mr. Hamilton Nesbitt, where are deposited the curious antiquities sent by his brother-in-law, Lord Elgin, from Egypt; and in the stables are several very fine Arabian horses, sent over by the same nobleman.
IHE doors of the London Theatres are surrounded each night, as soon as they open, with the criers of Play-bills. These are mostly women, who also carry baskets of fruit. The titles of Play and Entertainment, and the name and character of every performer for the night, are found in the bills, which are printed at the expense of the Theatre, and sold by the hundred to the criers, who retail them at one penny the bill, unless fruit is bought, when, with the sale of half a dozen oranges, they will present their customer a bill of the play gratis.
DRURY-LANE THEATRE. Part of the colonnade fronting to Russel-street, Covent-garden, with the door leading to the galleries of this superb Theatre, are seen in the Plate. There are also separate entrances to the pit and boxes under the same colonnade. On the west front of the Theatre is a very handsome entrance, through a vestibule with pillars, to the boxes only. In Russel-court is another hall, leading to the pit, boxes, and orchestra boxes: the stage-door is in Drury-lane. The paling seen on the right hand of the Plate is a temporary enclosure of some ground on the west front, where a large and elegant tavern is intended to be erected.
CONSISTING of horse-flesh, bullocks’ livers, and tripe cuttings, is carried to every part of the town. The two former are sold by weight at twopence per pound, and the latter tied up in bunches of one penny each. Although this is the most disagreeable and offensive commodity cried for sale in London, the occupation seems to be engrossed by women. It frequenrly happens in the streets little frequented by carriages that, as soon as one of these purveyors for cats and dogs arrives, she is surrounded by a crowd of animals, and were she not as severe as vigilant, could scarcely avoid the depredations of her hungry followers.
BETHLEM HOSPITAL stands on the south side of the quarters of Moorfields, and has the following inscription in gold letters on uthe front, immediately over the grand entrance@ Bethlem Hospital, founded by Henry VIII. for the cure of lunatics, was rebuilt by voluntary contribution in 1675, and the wings added, by subsequent benefactions, in 1733, for the reception of incurable and dangerous lunatics. It was built on the plan of the Tuilleries at Paris. Louis the Fourteenth was so enraged that the design of his palace should be adopted for a lunatic hospital, that he ordered a plan of St. James’s to be taken, resolving it should be a model for the offices of the vilest nature. The Hospital is five hundred and forty feet in length. A high wall in front of each wing encloses a garden, where the patients are allowed to walk. The centre of the building is seen through iron gates, which open to a paved court leading to the steps of the grand entrance. On each side the iron gate is a figure, one of melancholy and the other of raging madness. These figures are in recumbent postures on the pillars of the gate, and are finely executed. The artist was Caius Gabriel Cibber, father of the poet. Part of the gate, the east wing, and the wall enclosing the garden of that wing, are seen in the Plate.
THE business of mending Chairs is generally conducted by a family or partnership; one carries the bundle of rush, and collects old Chairs, while the workman, seating himself in some convenient corner on the pavement, exercises his trade. For small repairs they charge from fourpence to one shilling; and for new covering a chair from eighteen pence to half a crown, according to the fineness of the rush required, and the neatness of the workmanship. It is necessary to bargain for price previous to the delivery of the Chairs, or the Chair-mender, like other itinerant artists, will not fail to demand an exorbitant compensation for his time and labour.
SOHO SQUARE stands on the south side and near the eastern extremity of Oxford-street. It has a square enclosure, with a shrubbery in the centre. This square was begun in the time of Charles the Second. The Duke of Monmouth lived in the centre house facing the statue, from which circumstance it was originally called Monmouth Square; and, after the execution of that unfortunate nobleman, received the name of King’s Square. The admirers of the Duke however had the art to get it changed to Soho, which was the word of the day at the fatal field of Sedgemoore. In this square is the residence of Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, whose library and collection of natural curiosities are well known. ON the south side of the Square, in the right-hand corner leading from Greek-street, stands a house in which Fashion once revelled in all its splendour and dissipation. It was the residence of the once celebrated Mrs. Cornelys, who for taste, wit, vivacity, and elegance of manners, was unrivalled in her day. In this house she established her coteries, which were supported by the subscriptions of all the first persons in the country. The entertainments consisted of concerts, dancing, cards, &c. which were followed by Pic Nic suppers. Mrs. Cornelys’ taste for magnificence and variety of decoration was unbounded; and the magistrates discovered that her entertainments required a license. Her expenses exceeded her subscriptions, and Fashion led to some more novel scene of amusement. Hence this unfortunate lady was doomed to a prison, where, after a confinement of several years, she, who had been the life of the fashionable world, “the soul of pleasure,” ended her days in poverty and distress. This house was also the residence of Field Marsh Conway, but is now divided into two dwellings. A Roman catholic chapel, much frequented, stands in Sutton-street, on the east side of the Square.
APPEAR in the London markets early in June, and shortly afterward become sufficiently abundant to be cried by the barrow-women in the streets at sixpence, fourpence, and sometimes as low as threepence per pound. The May Duke, and the White and Black Heart, are succeeded by the Kentish Cherry, which is more plentiful and cheaper than the former kinds, and consequently most offered to sale in the streets. Next follows the small black Cherry called the Blackaroon, which is also a profitable commodity for the barrows. Other kinds of Cherries, bearing a higher price, are only to be bought in the markets, or at the shops of fruiterers. These barrow-women undersell the shops by twopence or threepence per pound, but their weights are generally to be questioned; and this is so notorious an objection that they universally add full weight to the cry of Cherries.
The entrance to ST. JAMES’S PALACE, which stands at the west end of Pall-mall, and fronting to St. James’s street, is seen in the Plate. The gate opens to the principal court, on one side of which a covered passage leads to the grand staircase belonging to the guard-rooms, drawing-room, and other state apartments. This entrance and the whole palace is of brick; nor does its external appearance convey any idea of magnificence.
OF all kinds, rush and rope, from sixpence to four shillings each, with Table Mats of various sorts, are daily cried through the streets of London.
CHARING-CROSS divides the Strand from Parliament-street to the south, and from Cockspur-street to the west. It derives its name from being the site of one of the Crosses, the celebrated memorials of the affection of Edward the First for Queen Eleanor. It was the last spot on which the body rested in its way to the Abbey. This Cross was replaced by a most beautiful and animated equestrian statue in brass of Charles the First, cast in 1633 by Le Sœur for the Earl of Arundel. It was erected in 1678, when it was placed on the present pedestal, the work of Grinlyn Gibbons. The spirit and beauty of the horse have not often been surpassed. To the left of the Plate, and distinguishable by its stone parapet and square tower, is seen part of the magnificent screen of Northumberland House. A spacious court intervenes between this screen and the house itself. Behind the house are extensive gardens. The screen contains two stories of apartments occupied by domestics, and their offices. The entrance gate is in the centre of the screen, which runs from Charing-cross to Northumberland-court, each extremity terminating with a square tower.