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

Bee, Jon




Or apartments, as they variously term the resting places, at which strangers put up and abide, during a temporary stay in town, according to the taste, the dignity, or pursuit in life, of the persons concerned. Tradesmen, and your semi-military characters, employ the first, because they want the cook; the second, is a term adapted to single men, who require but to lodge; ladies and families demand of their



male protectors, to be sure, and plague them with the fitness of the thing, even though price should be no object: numberless are the stipulations previously entered into, by the latter description of visitors, whilst the former, too commonly leave these unsettled, nestle themselves down in the first place, and

make things comfortable

afterwards. The negotiations are sometimes begun and carried on, much after the manner of a besieged town, from whose walls the white flag is displayed, yet is the garrison cautious of surprise, though resolved to yield possession. Moreover, the flag, or placard, is not always distinct enough for the besiegers; being very dubious, is objected to, and requires explanations: whilst a soiled bill conveys a wellfounded doubt of the sincerity of those within; as does

a first and second floor to let,

give reason to believe, that the comforts derived from silent slumbers will be very much abridged by the

people above stairs.

Those of the attic, who prefer airy situations, without deigning to explain why, look down with astonishment, at the airs of self-importance assumed by the groundlings at the base. asked one who desiderated something snug, but not gaudy; replied a very precise old lady, who appeared like a retired schoolmistress, fond of new readings and singularity.

As many applicants entertain various odd notions regarding their accommodations, so are the settled inhabitants chargeable with innocent peculiarities, many of them, which considerably annoy persons of moderate habits: numerous dogs or cats, or a solitary one that seeks your acquaintance, or booby children that show their samplers, and require to correct their tasks, are none of them desirable to strangers, whose taste may not consist in coveting the acquaintance of

another man's ass, nor his ox,

nor any thing else, unless he command the attendance of either, and would pay for any services required of them. In this respect, the professed keepers, who charge you with every kind of service, and proportion their demands by the quantity of trouble given, are much preferable to those exercising another trade, or eking out a living by the hire of their apartments. The former adapt themselves to all the occasions of their customers, without hesitation, charging them therefore; whereas some among the latter, entertain ideas of controlling their inmates, either by whispering soft rebuke, or hintinghow they themselves managed formerly; inveigh against the playhouse, can see no good in going to a picturegallery, hope you go to church, present you with a subscription-paper for building a chapel, and if they belong to preach at you an exhortation to leave off your old ways, and put on the



Here and there exist a few strenuous Whitfieldites, who believe they promote their cause by behaving rude in their extreme fervor, and if their hearer thinks ill of their impertinence, and quits, they console themselves with having suffered in a good cause:-most sectarians seem fond of making proselytes, in this or any similar manner. Those strangers, who come to town, already consigned to some given place of inmatecy, where they may find the fire lighted, and all other preparations for their comforts, ready cut and dried, stand in little needof our present advice; whilst those, who are content to reside at inns, at a who come up to sell their wares, or, perhaps, to buy, will find their cases taken under consideration in other parts of the volume. But some of both these classes may find reason to change their mode of residence, and can take no harm by noting the best means of improving by such an alteration.

Our highest order of gentry and nobility, who do not maintain town-establishments, have


and Sabloniers to reside at, and would disdain to hear or read of any plan by which they might save a hundred or two, during their annual visit. What, though they lose all they bring to London; honour, health, and social habits? a half-year's retirement to the country, and calling over the rent-roll of their farmer-flats, sets all to rights again. Not so, the Birmingham tool-maker, or Yorkshire clothier;



every ten pounds deducted from his hard- earnings, straitens by so much his already narrow means of making the two-ends meet. And if the fact were not so, what man, with the spirit of an Englishman, would tacitly assent to be polled, sheared, and laughed at by the sharks of town ? Lodging-house-keepers, nor those who let out their best apartments, in order to enjoy the attic air, are to be stigmatised as sharks, however; but that constant disposition in the townbreds to overcharge and overreach countrymen, which was noticed in pages 11-15, as pertaining to sharpers, extends, in some slight degree, into every avocation and calling; the disposition pervades entire classes or trades, in some few cases. Who would take lodgings, or themore genteel apartments, at a furniture-broker's, or a clothes-salesman, for example, without first insuring his neck, and making his last will and testament; for, most assuredly, he runs little risk of making a formal last dying-speech. More honour does not exist among the traders of any town in the civilized world than constantly sways the great majority of Londoners but we must except from this concession those who administer to the immediate calls of the countryman newly arrived. Those among them who do not avail themselves of this assumed privilege, and they are few indeed, act under the persuasion that their best policy lies in a totally different course of proceeding, and rightly too.

As to the exorbitant charges made for lodgings, to persons newly come to Town, the waiters, and other persons about the inns, are mostly to blame; they expect a gratuity for the recommendation, and this is charged upon the stranger, threefold. The plan of taking lodgings or apartments, by any one intending to remain in town some time (say a week) is most desirable on many accounts, which may all be summed up in few words; viz. the irregularity that a public-house superinduces in persons of sober habits, and the entire subversion of his commercial views, in one who is already a free liver. Either description of persons should seek out a private house to reside in, examine himself the premises and neighbourhood, and make stipulations for the supply of his comforts, his conveniences, and occasions, leaving nought to after explanations. The terms of payment should be short, unless his luggage be large; his manners need not be repulsive, but if he indulge in familiarity, and is young, he will havesome part of the family on his back; expenses and cozening follow. Although some well-conditioned fellows do not care a brass farthing about the honesty of their lodgers, they do like vastly to know every tittle about the stranger's business, manufactory, mode of life, &c. as the case maybe. If he remain long at his lodgings, impertinence is thereby engendered, unless he adroitly give


them to understand, he can recommend to them future visitors in abundance: a view to mammon sways their future conduct.

No doubt, the masters of inns and their dependants can, if they will, recommend to good and appropriate places for private living, and always do this when thronged with company; but in cases of slack trade, they are most unlikely to do so faithfully, because they would, thereby, be cutting their own throats. No: let the stranger make inquiries of tradespeople in the neighbourhood, where his business chiefly lies; of the butcher, baker, greengrocer, perhaps at some evening assembly of smoke-a-pipe citizens, where some member of the C. C. may nightly fumigate his constituents into good humour, and smoke their politics with his


exclamations. The barbers' shops, where the master does not shave for the minor sum of three-halfpence a phiz, are well adapted to furnish the desired information; and having instituted the requisite investigation here and there, he may communicate the fact to the innkeeper, or his factotum, and these may then be consulted with advantage. They will now be induced to impart good, and valuable, and genuine information, purely out of opposition. Should the stranger arrive in the city, per coach, he will find many a neat, little secluded nook of a court, or place, where such temporary accommodation may be obtained. Should his



occasions require a longer stay, and, consequently, fresher air than these afford; should his affairs

require seclusion

in his habits awhile, he will ascend towards the country, on the north, where such are to be found in profusion, and of all degrees. In the fields of Islington, now covered with houses, he, whose reason for sojourning among us may be attributed to the first mentioned or general cause, will find great variety to suit his taste; but he, alas, who is forced from his home, through adverse circumstances, during the six weeks working of his ruined prospects (?), will find safe seclusion and bodily impunity about Bethnal-green, or the ill-frequented old town of non-wise persons, at Hoxton. Bridegrooms, who receive the first commands of their brides, as to whereabout they shall spend the honeymoon, when the lady fixes her earliest longings on London, its sights, its playhouses, and its pleasures, take up with first-floors or almost entire houses, in one or other of the numerous streets that sprout from the Strand, and dip their tails in the Thames's floating-tide. These being but a step or two from the theatres, and little more from any other public exhibition, seem most eligible for those of our present class, who would

come up to town to see a bit of life,

whether wedded or not: but higher orders of people, with the same views, who keep a coach, take up their temporary abodes in the streets that issue out of the great squares, where



we leave them to lavish their pelf, and to languish in luxury: stars like these shine outside our economical orbit.

Speaking of the lodging-houses lying out of the Strand, we may say that they are chiefly under the direction of ancient servants of families as butlers, cooks, coachmen, housemaids, and others, grown old in service, with tavern- keepers out of business, and here and there the relict of some tradesman; a few of them are offshoots from neighbouring hotels, who recommend all their superabundant customers who may desiderate privacy, to these establishments; but it is not to be concealed; that here and there among these lodging-house-keepers, we may find some few who should be guarded against. The wiles and lures that some ancient females know how to direct, most unerring to their aim, and to render conducive to their own profit, would be securely put in practice, at a lodging-house of all others, laid out for the reception of single men; and I have known one such, that was placed under the superintendance of a staid female, whose previous establishment, in Covent-garden, became a house of call for high-flying cyprians, who were in the habit of calling upon her, for the self-same purposes as our outward-bound traders touch at Madeira, namely,

to take in wine, to wood and water, and put themselves under convoy of men of war,

if such did lie in the road. For


reader, consult Slang Dictionary,



instamment, or the similarity will not hold good to the desired extent. George Colman, the younger, shed o'er this whole matter good illustration, in his story of thefat gentleman, who took lodgings at a baker's, and got a nice berth over the oven; where he was discovered, after a six-months' baking, by one of the faculty, going away, till he became quite crusty. The fourth line of the exordium is particularly applicable to our present purpose.

Whoe'er's been in London, that overgrown place, Has seen

Lodgings to Let,

stare him full in the face; Some are well and let dearly,whilst some,'tis well known, Suit better, by far, when they're let alone.