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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 CRIES OF LONDON

St Pauls

Title page

PREFACE.

IT is an observation founded on experience, that useful knowledge is rather acquired by an attentive contemplation of men and manners, than by a seclusion from the “busy haunts” of our fellow-mortals, or by a devotion to abstruse speculations. — One of our most celebrated bards has affirmed,

“The proper study of mankind is man:” —

And Solomon, who is justly accounted the wisest of men, intimates that wisdom may be easily obtained in the most public scenes of life: —

“Doth not wisdom cry,” saith he, “and understanding put forth her voice?

“She standeth on the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the end of the city, at the coming in of the doors.”*

It may, indeed, be objected, that the above quotation cannot have any allusion to the cries of a town, where the persons who hawk about their respective articles are, generally speaking, of the lowest and most illiterate order. But it must be remembered, that even these, in their respective stations, are useful members of society; and, if we be desirous of obtaining a tolerable knowledge of the world, we must of necessity take a survey of every rank, from the highest to the lowest; and daily experience will demonstrate, that the most amiable virtues and excellent dispositions are frequently met with in the lowest spheres of life; and therefore, although we should not act towards our inferiors with an unbecoming familiarity, we should never treat them with haughtiness, nor make them the subject of our ridicule; remembering, that while a sounding title or a weighty purse may excite the temporary admiration of an unthinking multitude, virtue, piety, and integrity, are the only things that can ensure the blessing of Heaven, and render us truly respectable.

To such of our juvenile readers as have spent the greatest part of their early years in the midst of academic shades or rural sports, the following pages will probably afford considerable amusement; and, as the accompanying engravings are highly characteristic, and executed in a style of superior elegance, it is presumed that our little work will be deemed an acceptable present to youth of both sexes, into whose hands it may be put by parents, guardians, &c. without the possibility of vitiating their taste, or corrupting their morals.

* Prov. viii. 1,2 3.

A
POETICAL DESCRIPTION
OF
THE BRITISH METROPOLIS.

HOUSES, churches, mix’d together,
Streets unpleasant in all weather;
Prisons, palaces, and shops,
Courts of justice, fatal* drops;
Exhibitions, masquerades,
Bridges built on grand arcades;
Taverns, coffee-houses, baths,
Num’rous lamps, and well-pav’d paths;
Bubbles, trades, mechanic arts,
Coaches, wheel-barrows, and carts;
Hackney-coachmen ever drinking,
Hackney-writers void of thinking;
Pipers, fidlers, tumblers, harpers,
Puppets, pickpockets, and sharpers;
Beaux, and pimps, and many a harlot,
Gamesters drest in lace and scarlet;
Doctors sage whose chariots keep ’em,
Riches, if one could but keep ’em;
Of poverty a greater share far,
Of politics eternal warfare;
Hecatombs of beef or mutton,
Turtles for the city glutton;
Hypocrites with aspect holy,
Honest men with faces jolly;
Tipsy barrow-women tumbling,
Dukes and chimney-sweepers jumbling;
Lords with milliners debating,
Ladies with their footmen prating;
Chairmen, carmen, kennel-rakers,
Catchpoles, bailiffs, and thief-takers;
Lawyers, worst of adversaries,
Pompous wigg’d apothecaries;
Many jilts and more seducers,
Courteous many, more abusers;
Many an exciseman smuggling,
Statesman in the treasury juggling;
Many maids and lovers billing,
Many widows not unwilling;
Many a bargain, could ye strike it —
This is LONDON. — How d’ye like it?

* Alluding to the new drops at Newgate and Horsemonger-Lane prison, where unhappy criminals are publicly launched into an awful eternity.

A SONG
ON
THE CITY OF LONDON.

O! LONDON is a dainty place,
 A great and gallant city;
For all the streets are pav’d with gold,
 And all the folks are witty.

And there are lords and ladies great,
 Who ride in coach-and-six;
Who nothing drink but gen’rous wine,
 And talk of politics.

And there are beaux with powder’d clothes,
 Bedaub’d from head to chin,
Their pockets plac’d with modern taste,
 But not one sous within.

And there the English actor toils
 To get an honest penny,
While heaps of gold are daily forc’d
 On Signora Grassini.

And there are dames of dainty frames,
 With skins as white as milk;
Dress’d ev’ry day in garments gay,
 Of satin and of silk.

Any knives, scissars

ANY KNIVES, SCISSARS, OR RAZORS TO GRIND.

THE
CRIES OF LONDON.

Knives to grind, Razors or Scissars to grind?

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-strop of greasy 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 whetstones to the rising youth:
Then shall each reader some instruction gain,
And none peruse the London Cries in vain.

Over, over, want a boat

OVER, OVER, WANT A BOAT YOUR HONOR?

Oars, Sir? Sculler, Sir? Want a Boat your Honour?

WHEN by the noon-tide heat opprest,
 Or with long walking weary,
At once we may proceed and rest,
 By stepping in a wherry.

At every landing-place we hear
 The noisy boatmen ply;
Anxious to gain an early fare,
 Their utmost arts they try.

“D’ye want a boat Sir? sculler? oars?”
 They loud vociferate;
While others push toward the shores,
 And safely land their freight.

Buy a fat fowl

BUY A FAT FOWL.

Buy a Duck, Buy a fine fat Fowl.

 THIS fellow trucks
 His fowls and ducks
All for a little ready-rhino;
 Then quick he pops
 Into gin-shops:
This many know as well as I know.

 When drunk, he’ll howl,
A Duck or a Fowl?
And think himself all wise and clever;
 To-day he sucks
 By fowls and ducks,
To-morrow tipsy gets as ever.

Oranges

ORANGES, FINE ORANGES.

Fine China Oranges.

AT ORANGES each lovely boy
 Will cast a longing eye;
And Oranges each missy coy
 Will ne’er refuse to buy.

But all who learn their lessons still,
 And read without a scruple,
Mamma, for one poor Orange, will
 Most surely give a couple,

And those who in God’s word delight,
 A richer prize shall have;
A harp of gold, and robes of light,
 And life beyond the grave.

Lilly white sand

LILLY, LILLY WHITE SAND HO!

SAND HO!

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.

The cleanly child will be belov’d
 By all the wise and good,
While sluts and slovens justly dread
 Chastisement with the rod.

Hot cross buns

ONE A PENNY, TWO A PENNY HOT CROSS BUNS.

One a Penny, Two a Penny, hot Cross Buns.

THESE buns remind us of the solemn day,
 When Christ, the co-existent son of God,
Freely vouchsafed our heavy debt to pay,
 And shed for guilty man his precious blood.

A solemn darkness o’er the earth prevail’d,
 The vanquished pow’rs of hell affrighted fled,
While the important promise stood reveal’d —
 “The woman’s seed shall bruise the serpent’s head.”

Then clave the rocks, the graves their dead restor’d,
 Their rending veil th’ astonish’d Jews behold;
Immortal vict’ry crown’d our dying Lord,
 And each divine prediction stood fulfilled.

Chairs to mend

OLD CHAIRS TO MEND.

Chairs to mend.

A BUNCH of rushes at his back,
Old Chairs to mend, Tom halloes;
While Dolly in her husband’s track
 From night to morn still follows.

If money in his pocket flows,
 Who’s happier than poor Tom?
Doll with him to the alehouse goes
 And with him staggers home.

There was a time when Tom was gay,
 And Dolly had a friend;
But flatt’ring fortune fled away,
 And left them — Chairs to mend.

Old cloaths

ANY SHOES, HATS, OR OLD CLOATHS.

Any Old Clothes?

THIS son of Israel’s ancient race,
 While wealthy folks are sleeping,
You up and down the town may trace,
 In every area peeping.

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

Yet children never should abuse,
 Nor treat these men with scorn;
Rememb’ring, that among the Jews
 Our blessed Lord was born.

Cats meat

CATS MEAT, OR DOGS MEAT.

Cat’s Meat, Dog’s Meat.

ALL you who keep a cat or dog,
Ne’er let them go without their prog;
Yet never let your dog be fat,
Tho’ all day long may sleep your cat.
The dog, by this, your house will watch,
The cat each stirring mouse will catch;
For animals, like you or I,
Too much may eat, and quickly die;
While industry and temp’rance give
The means in health and peace to live;
The greedy glutton they restrain,
And teach the poor a meal to gain.

Sweep

SWEEP, SWEEP!

Sweep! Sweep!

WHILST many pamper’d children sleep
 On beds of softest down,
These little lads your chimneys sweep,
 Or wander through the town.

Cheerful aloft the striplings go,
 And all the soot they clear,
Till they who list’ning stand below,
 The wonted signal hear.

And when the little urchin’s head
 May through the top be seen.
He well deserves a piece of bread,
 For then the chimney’s clean.

Cherries

CHERRIES, ROUND & SOUND, A PENNY A POUND.

Cherries Three-pence a Pound.

THE children are all blithe and merry,
When Summer brings the crimson Cherry;
Pomona kindly then imparts
Her Dukes, her Kentish, and her Hearts,
With Corsicans, Morellas too,
And Portugals of lovely hue.

How anxious then each youth and maid,
Surveys the fruit so well display’d;
How, whilst the barrow wheel goes round,
They long to stop, and buy a pound;
Whilst their kind friends their wishes meet,
And give the much-desired treat.

Any milk

ANY MILK MAIDS, ABOVE OR BELOW.

Milk Below.

WHEN from the dew-bespangled mead
 The rosy milkmaids come,
With artless songs, and cheerful speed,
 They bear their treasures home.

Some to the clay-built cottage turn,
 The peasant’s bowl to crown;
Whilst others fill the exhausted churn,
 Or gaily trip to town.

This picture to your view unfolds
 The morning task of Sally,
And here the powder’d footman holds
 His cream-jug and his tally.

Fruit, pippins

CHOICE FRUIT MADAM, FINE PIPPINS.

Choice Fruit.

BRITANNIA‘s sons of lovely bloom,
Outvie the beauties of the plumb;
Nor can the peach’s hue compare
With the ripe blushes of the fair.
Yet what avail our bloom or beauty,
If, still regardless of our duty,
We let the fruitful mind lie fallow?
Better to be as gypsey sallow.
Beauty will seldom be respected,
If useful learning is neglected;
Let learning, then, be your pursuit,
And happiness will be the fruit.

Matches

DO YOU WANT ANY GOOD MATCHES MA’AM.

Do you want any good Matches?

YE children of wealth this poor woman attend,
 Nor turn with contempt from the sight,
She once had a husband on whom to depend,
 Whose smiles were her dearest delight.

That husband, alas! is by death snatch’d away,
 Her children’s wants add to her grief;
She bitterly sighs while they thoughtlessly play,
 Or learn to solicit relief.

“Do you want any matches?” she modestly cries,
 “I’ll warrant, kind ladies, they’ll please:” —
O wipe, ye fair Britons, the tears from her eyes,
 And set her poor bosom at ease.

Singing birds

COME BUY MY FINE SINGING BIRDS.

Singing Birds.

IF linnet, lark, and thrush delight ye,
This fellow daily will invite ye,
Nicely t’inspect his feather’d store,
And careful look his bird-cage o’er.
Nor think your money much misspent;
These pretty creatures give content,
When the harmonious quivering notes
Come trilling from their little throats.
Let none so much benev’lence lack
To hurt a feather on their back;
But while thus merrily they live,
Be sure fresh meat and water give,
For this great truth doth Heav’n inspire,
The labourer’s worthy of his hire.