Living Picture of London, for 1828 and Stranger's Guide Through the Streets of the Metropolis

Bee, Jon




Properly, as a means of avoiding molestation, and to be performed pleasantly, is an acquisition of no small importance. It is effected most securely by affecting an ease or knowingness, which deters imposition in a great degree. I spoke higher up of assuming an air of authority in giving orders to hackney-coachmen; no less serviceable is it to like a thoroughbred cockney in your gait and manner; perhaps by placing the hat a little awry, and with an unconcerned stare, penetrating the wily countenances of the rogues, you attain one more chance, at least, of escaping the snares that are always laid to entrap the countryman or new comer. These latter are easily recognized by their provincial gait, dialect, and cut of their clothes; by the interest they take in the commonest occurrences imaginable, and a broad stare of astonishment at every thing they chance to see. All these peculiarities attract attention, and raises the cupidity of the dishonest, who soon proceed to action nefariously. Such men


attract the attention of passers-by of degree; and, it would be surprising indeed, if the knavish part of the community did not endeavour to profit by the want of knowledge apparent in our , or , as such men are aptly called. He is followed for miles, sometimes for an entire day, or more, by a string of pickpockets or highway robbers, until they can find an opportunity to do him. It came out on the examination of , for robbing , that he and his companions had followed their victim from the water-side to , where he received his pay; thence to , in , where the foolish man counted over his money; thence to , and back again to the corner of , where they hustled and robbed him of near seventy pounds, the hard earnings of twenty years' perils at sea; and all this by broad day-light!

This rogue was seized by , in , about , after some desperate up-and-down work, safely lodged in prison, prosecuted to conviction, (with the aid of , the bookseller there,) and transported. In a little time he returned, however, was taken and tried for a new crime, and executed. This case is adverted to in a subsequent chapter.

has been reduced to a system in London; every one taking the right hand of another, whereby confusion is avoided;


thus, if you walk from , by , towards the , you will be entitled to take the wall of those you , all the way; whereas, if you cross over to the side you must walk upon the kirb-stone. The contrary mode is a sure indication of a person being a stranger, or living at the outskirts of town, and is certain of attracting attention to his awkwardness, a thing always to be avoided. A pickpocket will hustle such an one against his accomplice in the day-time; the stranger will be irritated no doubt, and express his indignation, which will be the better for the rogues: in a half-minute's altercation, they get the best of the jaw, because the loudest and most impudent;-a ensues, in which he who pretends to support the stranger to the ways of town, draws him of his pocket-book, or his watch, if he has either, a fact they take care to ascertain beforehand. in the -pockets can only be come at in a crowd, or by the victim; the former of which is most usually, but the latter very seldom, performed in the daytime. A good preventive against this drawing the loose money from a pocket, in the day-time especially, is to carry something upon it, as a pair of spectacles, a short memorandum-book, or the like; of either of which the present capaciousness of breeches-pockets admit most conveniently. When, however, the thief has opportunity, he carries off these


latter also, after repeated visits to the pockets.

From all this, the reader will see the necessity of cautiously, yet energetically, pursuing his way, without dread or doubt; since it is better to walk a little out of the right path, than run the risk of being wrong: to steer clear of assemblages in the streets, by going round them, or in default, pressing rather through them, staring the most forward steadily in the face; whereby you become the , if I may be allowed the term, and add one more chance of steering clear of danger, by a bold measure. Out of this practice of of all you meet, arises a good practical manoeuvre, which may be played off upon any hanger-on who would wish to walk cheek-by-jowl with you through the streets. He may be shook off by your walking briskly, so as the current of people may flow against him, as well as by your cutting sharply by them as they come on in succession; the intruder is thus left behind wherever the pavement may be crowded, particularly if you meet the current and take the kirb-stone. Jew pedlars, and other itinerant venders of their wares, are also thus easily tired of the If your way lies through narrow streets, where the foot-pavementadmits of two persons only, you and your companions should walk singly through these and all such narrow passages, and be sure to take the right side.



Frequently it happens that the low inhabitants of such places occupy the pavement, and you must take the road, in a dirty state, probably, or upon a

gangway, gangway, here !

in authoritative, sound tones. If they be connected with thieves, they stand there in order to pick a quarrel and have a , or to smooth you down as you pass through them.

Finally, as a general direction for , let me enjoin the reader always to prefer these to , and these again to narrow and passages, especially by night; notwithstanding the recently thrown upon their corners and crannies by the gas makers, some of them are still dangerous from this very circumstance, seldom shorten your , though they may the , are always rendered disagreeable by the continual jostle of passengers, and the danger that you may be thrown off your guard, or allure thieves by . I have known the gas to be extinguished by thieves for the purpose of robbery; and much confusion of persons, with its attendant congregation of thieves, takes place when alterations or repairs are going on in alleys, frequently- for instance, and its ramifications, in which two thousand inhabitants find domicile.

Even better-frequented thoroughfares, , present dangers unceasing to foot-passengers, by reason of the great traffic carried on through. them a-foot, and by wheel-carriage. With re-


gard to one great route, this objection lies now as it did a century ago; viz , , all , the , and the lower parts of , from to , are every one of them to be avoided by delicate persons of either sex.