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

Bee, Jon




Which is performed in various ways, as suits the actual situation of both parties, but always by several together. Higher up, I described the way in which the persons to be are crammed together, in order to be robbed, (page 53). The next degree of violence is that where the arms are seized from behind by one, whilst the other the pockets of their contents. Just the same end is obtained by picking an instant quarrel, and collaring the victim, the thieves pull him forward; while he is thus upon the stoop, the accomplice takes a into his pockets, handing off whatever he may find to a third accomplice, who perhaps has been making free use of his stick promiscuously over the heads of all parties. Another plan is to seize him by the collar of the coat behind, and pull him backwards: he must be a rum customer, indeed, if he gets over this and a dig in the guts in front; for, having lost wind, he will not recover it again until his property is irrecoverable.

A more daring hustle is, where a person being run against violently, as if by accident, and his arms kept down forcibly, while the accomplice, pretending to take part, draws either his watch, money, or book. More cannot well be done in an instant thing like this. Should the pair come down , it is far better for the theives' purpose; they both get up, pardon


is begged, and they part as quickly as possible. The sufferer, in adjusting his dress and recovering his then first discovers he has been robbed. Those who give preference to this mode of are of the secondary sort of thieves, not at all to be considered , but ferocious; they mostly wear short jackets, (at least one of them,) the better to effect escape by running, the cloth being made smooth, if not slippery, with grease, &c.: their operations seldom commence until dusk; they never attack other than persons; and the fall of the year is the most prolific in this sort of crime.

If this be not I know not what is; the only difference seems to lie in that the robber the property in one case, in the other he takes it ; The genuine decent pickpocket, who does the trick in a neat way, deems himself insulted in being classed with those, as well as with the description of street robbers noticed below: he decries the use of violence upon the person robbed, unless it be in self-defence, and to make his escape.

, , and , were the most expert divers of the time just gone by; but that was a mistake of the reporters, which stated that those persons acted in concert, or headed a gang. Each of these looked upon the others as interlopers, or rivals in the trade of picking pockets; and each acted separately, particularly the latter, whom I never saw


, unless for a moment, with a female. had occasion for one pal after he became too well known, and so had , probably; had, also, several women under his tuition, and I once heard him explain to two of them how it was they had failed , in a case that had just happened, through inexpertness. He exemplified the manner of doing the trick several times, to my great edification, and then they all returned into the house again, the , drinking ale till all was blue. By the way, two weeks after this affair, got nabbed for stealing a dirty silk handkerchief, in : and was sentenced to seven years transportation. He hung too much about , latterly, for they would not permit him to walk the streets at the , nor sit in a public house scarcely; so of the other two, there was no peace for them any where, but in holes and corners.

Women not only pick pockets, but hustle at night, while bestowing their unasked for caresses, adroitly entering your pockets, should you come in contact with them. A short lass, and a tall or big one, are best adapted to this business: the former forcibly contending with the latter the promised enjoyment, seizes you round the middle, lasciviously, when the business is done neatly; she hands over the things to her companion, who moves off instantly, while the other keeps you in tow until the booty is out of reach, and then she becomes uneasy until she


herself is safely out of your sight. But should you charge the watchman with her person, you would not recover the property, and the charge falls to the ground as a matter of course. I have frequently known women brought in and searched, but nothing was found upon them; in such cases they have a third accomplice, but generally the stolen things have been deposited in some or conveniently situated, near where the transaction took place -such as the interstices of window shutters, for Banknotes: or the broken corner of the same,-holes are previously dug in the mortar of walls for the express purpose,-very often the deposit is made upon the ledges where window-shutters are stowed away by day. Such are the contrivances of those wretches who prowl the streets to take advantage of silly men.

A practice formerly prevailed, that has now diminished greatly, of women at the ends of courts and alleys, to entice tipsy and unwary men into corners, the better to rob them. This kind of depredation is now confined to byestreets and lanes, or in the more frequented places they prowl up and down under patronage of the watchman, who takes his share of the booty, or and I am old enough to recollect, in so public a place as facing the North-door of , three or four old harridans, including the wife of the watch- housekeeper, nightly took their stand, with commensurate , at the coming out of the play-


NIGHT-CONSTABLE AND WATCHMEN. houses, on a lord mayor's night, and every night, in the years .

Hence, the unknowing reader will readily conclude, that when any dishonest practice by such women comes before the constable of the night, he should not suffer a watchman to go out , after he has heard the charge, in which the is of course pointed out; as he would of the property himself, and you might ascertain that he had met with it, by his becoming extremely jolly, not to say impudent, in his answers,-among other things, affecting to doubt " whether you ever had so much about you."

In some watch-houses, for example, they have a small nook, or room, in which they search strumpets accused of street robbery from the person. The searching is invariably performed by the watchman and the constable of the night, who is usually one of the hired sort; and they, together, with the ready assent of the thief, seek to secrete the property stolen, by keeping out from participation not only the person robbed but any other spectator.

, or blunt scissors, are sometimes found on searching thieves, that are well adapted to drawing forth loose notes from a close breeches-pocket. In the autumn of , a fellow was detected using a very ingeniously contrived pair, that performed well upon a buttoned pocket. The recurrence is not, however, very frequent of such an instrument, nor would


it be employed, I apprehend, by any but thick fingered fellows, or by those who have the forefinger too short for picking pockets.