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

Bee, Jon




Of crime, in a city so thickly inhabited as this metropolis, may be brought against innocent persons, through similarity in the likeness, without any evil intention on the part of the accusers, though with extremely harsh conse- quences to the accused. hath fol- lowed in some such cases, unhappily, and a good deal of temporary misery ensues to the family and friends, even through the slightest mistakes, when the charges may be of a cri- minal nature. One of these occurs whilst this sheet is being despatched to the press, viz. No- vember 12th, a poor fellow is brought up to the Mansion-house, on the charge of a journey- man oyster-vender, averring that he and two more, after eating their bellies full, dragged the accuser to an inner room, and there gagged him, whilst they robbed the upstairs rooms of his employer, a Mrs. Norbury, of some five pounds in money. A good , however drove all those circumstances to sea; the ac- cused person having but just emerged from an hospital, and still carrying in his phiz the ravages


of a protracted hydragyrian treatment. Since, then, however, two brothers, who are , as having robbed the house of , a cheesemonger, likewise on a Sunday, are condemned to death, with one more, for this robbery also, and one of them has really lost the cartilage of .

Some two years since, a young fellow, in the employment of a shopkeeper, in , one R ----, was brought up and tried at the , on three several indictments, for shoplifting, in , &c. but was acquitted by , without hesitation; but being again tried by the same jury, upon another indictment, and a Mrs. , of , being quite sure of his person, she swore positively, and he was now found guilty, in conformity with their solemn oath, which runs in these words,

to well and truly try, and a true deliverance make, and a just verdict give

according to the evidence

, between our Sovereign Lord the King and the prisoner at the bar.

Notwithstanding this, the prisoner was liberated; and in a very short time after, the being detected and brought to , the two, upon being placed side by side, were found so to resemble each other as well might puzzle even an officer of that establishment. Much more serious was the accusation against the , Clynch and Mackay, for murder, (see p. 99,) when the chief witness, , was so uncertain as to their identity, that the men were admitted


to bail, our old friend, , being one of their sureties; but, upon the trial, she swore so very positively, augmented with asse- verations, that nought remained for the jury but to bring in a verdict of guilty. The fatal morn- ing of their premature exit from this world was remarkable for the precipitation of the drop, before the signal for that purpose was given; whereby the reverend ordinary, , was cast rudely to the ground, and received an in- jury, from which he is supposed never to have recovered. The execution of and , for the murder of , also recently adverted to, upon insuffi- cient evidence, was pretty strongly insisted upon at the time, in a well-written pamphlet, by , their solicitor; to which public opinion and subsequent avowals of the deed by the elder Symonds, of , have added their sanction. The father was overheard ac- cusing his son of that deed, and both of them ran away upon finding a bill of indictment was preferred against them. Then what becomes of the pretended overheard in the privy at Worship-street: alas! the counte- nance extended to the listener, we know, has done much harm, as an incitement to other officers. This single example, we know, has done much harm, and the averment of the blood-hound, , (page 174) is justified. This man accused the boys on , be- fore alluded to, (page 173) of passing counterfeit


coin; he convicted of stealing a pocket-book, which the latter never saw; he convicted to the pillory (where a life was lost) opposite the Mansion-house, a banker's clerk, upon his single evidence; he got one , a lame naval pensioner, to three youths to breaking the premises of Davies's , and them before the was accom- plished; but he had provided , belonging to the woman, which he pretended to find on one of them; yet he tells , without contradic- tion, that others do the like things. The crimes of Pelham, Power and Brock, with Johnson and Donnelly, were of the same hue, and all perpetrated in the hope of fingering the statu- table reward, (since abrogated,) and the wish to obtain promotion in the calling they had cho- sen, according to the cheering example set be- fore them. Let us not probe the heart-rending fact, of those men being engaged in the work of blood, shedding that of the in- nocent and none of the guilty, for several years, down to 1818, when their machinations were exploded, the five first-mentioned convicted, and sentenced to death, but subsequently , upon a . , however, was again indicted, and received sentence of five years imprisonment in , where he obtained an , the ultimatum of his wishes; and although of no higher character than , this boon ought not to have been granted to him, as it evinced a leaning


towards the crime, an alleviation of sufferings that were too little to expiate his offences: and , of , brought two youths, named and , to conviction, on the evidence of a suborning accomplice, named ; but 'tis scarcely enough to add that execution was stayed, and Limbrick little heard of since.

Speaking of , let us stop the current of our thoughts a minute, and arrest the me- lancholy reflections that the contemplation of innocent sacrifices such as these give rise to, whilst we turn to the instructive note of a blun- derous , into which that officer was most unaccountably led, in the eager per- formance of his duty-some few years ago. That it happened to a respectable person in trade strengthens the monition which the nar- ration is intended to convey; that he is an ac- quaintance of the author's is less to the pur- pose; but that he is a real good thorough-bred cockney, the beau ideal of his entire class, comes well in point of what we would teach, and, sure we are, reflects no discredit on him as a man, an honest citizen, or a Fancy has no hand in stating the fact, that Mr. Goodcheap was mistaken for a high- way-robber of very much , according to the mode of estimating public characters adopted by a certain description of writers; at least he was certainly ,

without any mistake,

in Holborn, by the same ,


and carried to police-office, under the allegation that he resembled , who had robbed the Leeds mail, near Kettering, besides numerous other thefts, and was subsequently executed at Northampton. This it must be allowed is a sufficiently awk- ward predicament for any man to be placed in, however conscious of his rectitude, however well known, recognisable, and certain of liber- ation. cried ; for the cognomen applied to the of , which was short and crusty, pugnacious and repulsive, to such a degree as to supersede the orange-coloured conferred by his fathers and mothers, the sponsors of his smiling baby-hood. How unlike the mild manners and bland endearments of our old acquaintance! A man the reader might take by the hand (let us presume) without the fear of having his odd joints squeezed together into a jelly; whose conversational elegancies he will find far from , and not at all ; who is supposed never to have struck a blow, unless at the nails of a coffin occasionally, or against the stock of his flugel musket, for edi- fication of the Aldersgate volunteers; and is so utterly removed from all repulsiveness, that his speeches more resemble the last of a

desul- ory debate ;

besides, we know he is further dis- tinguished as to lie under constant invitation

to visit the Gentleman and Porter parlour

once a month at most


And was this a man of


Cockaigne to be accosted by a Limbrick, with Why, he might as well have ac- costed with a l for payment.

demanded our acquaintance; nor did he long wait for an answer; was hard by, and there came to an explanation, but not until the to many a fainting oration had died away. Let the reader picture to him- self the anxious moments that intervened the caption of our orator, and the due recognition of his friends. Let him next

make the case his own,

as our friend phrases it, and think what solicitude would rack the breast of to town, under similar circumstances. Let any one think, also, of the eagerness of officers to prosecute and to identify, and of the facilities afforded to

bring forward evidence,

and of the tampering and fashioning its various particles receive at their hands; and we will tell him that such an accusation, however pre- posterous, is little else than putting a man upon the rack of sorrow and grief for a time, all the while suspending him over a yawning gulph, into which the least accident might precipitate him irremediably, as we have upon record, many have already fallen.

-is the name long bestowed upon those persons who were so engaged in en- trapping men to the loss of life; and, although two or three periods only of our history are marked by the disclosure of those appalling


acts, we have reason for believing that similar practices existed in the intermediate space, if the shedding of innocent blood under sem- blance of justice, to amend some public wrong, did not cry aloud for vengeance at every period from the time of Cain, and in every country of which we preserve any record. With what solemn mockery did the Athenians punish with death those who laughed at their Polytheism? and is the most enlightened nation now on earth less intolerant ? or the most powerful people more weakened now by the gap that exists between the patrician and plebeian or- ders, than when forced his way to the throne, and the battle of the threw down the remnant of Tarquin's unbearable aris- tocracy ? Has not England been torn to pieces for thirty-three years between the and the t--the landlords and the manufac- turers; now one party , now another-then one set crowding our gaols, or filling the columns of a two-handed gazette, whilst another cry aloud at the galling necessity of putting down a e or two, and dis- charging a few flunkies out of dozens, because they cannot obtain in times of peace? All legislation is necessarily in the hands of the landlords- owners of land; land-hold- ing constituting the qualification for validating the peoples' choice-where they have . One consequence is, that all the efforts hitherto made by e to obtain bread in peace, at


s, were opposed by those who hold the lands upon which bread corn is grown. Commotions among the consumers of bread were the consequence of this denial of justice, because the agitators earned their subsistence by the sweat of their brow, and hard toil in the tepid manufactories of cotton, in the chilling dye-house, or fulling-mills of woollens. When the grossness of their harsh measures widened the breach between the landlords and their cus- tomers beyond endurance, the starving popula- tion, as usual under similar circumstances, as- sembled together to fret and fume, to make speeches and petition, and perhaps to threaten and insult, the landlords; but, in all this va- pouring, we could see nothing like , though some few lives were lost, and many machines were demolished; for, as often as their customers got full employment they gave the lords of the soil their without further speechification, if not without grum- bling. In the silk-weaving district called Spi- talfields, which includes also and parishes, when work was to be had, the assemblages dwindled to nothing, al- most; the were nearly deserted, and orator addressed his solemn con- ciones to empty benches, at

the chapel :

a had more charms for the weavers than the best speech ever heard by or , and an occasional sprinkle of work, with the good sense of the committee,


kept down the spirit of discontent, even at the worst period. Remote from , however, mostly northward, the and the were stirred up to desperate acts by the agents of a weak if not wicked government; by a man, calling himself , and others, going about to incite the hungry manufacturers to crime, for which they delivered over to --- justice good numbers of ignorant offenders; but the machinations of the being exposed, the deluded poor creatures escaped, for proved himself the chief conspirator, thanks to a London lawyer, and the trials could not proceed. What was his real name is uncertain, but we find him filling a post at the , under the designation of , and where he had the grace to die of chagrin, after several years had passed away in impunity.

Whether he were one of the named above, we have no means of ascertain- ing; nor will we stop to inquire what was the real name of the miscreant hound who, subse- quently, under the name of , led on and his companions to talk of assassi- nation until they actually prepared for the hor- rid deed. The plot cost money; but none of the conspirators, except , had any cash to spare; yet had he no occupa- tion to earn any, though he expended small sums constantly upon the party, whilst they concocted their schemes at , in


, and elsewhere, and he ultimately found the arms with which they were furnished at the moment of detection. If it be necessary (as I apprehend it is) for a government to em- ploy persons to watch the movements of sus- pected characters, as and his fel- lows undoubtedly were, it never can form part of the espyal's duty to prompt, to egg-on, or the schemes of the discontented, until their crimes become capital. A fine sample of retribution in kind overtook two spies, and , by name, who were sent down to , in 1792, under the administration of that mistaken gentleman , and his colleague, , who had a high cha- racter of those men from their employer, the government printer. But, like and , and all of that , they went mise- rably beyond their instructions, became the worst of conspirators, in order to please their employers with horrid-thrilling intelligences, who

if they find no treasons-make them;

and a Scotch jury took their conduct so seriously into consideration, that they delivered over to be hung, drawn, and quar- tered: none commiserated their fate. We naturally infer, that Messrs. and , in the event of their back to Town, would have received some post or office under government, and thus added another insult to the inhabitants of some colony, port, or township;


but we have yet to learn what places Messrs. , and now fill, nor what they bear at present, nor what part of the kingdom they pollute, nor undertake the task of patro- nizing their villainies, though we can guess shrewdly sort of politicians they belong to. If, like , they have been sent to rot, neglected, in some remote nook of the earth; or, like Manners, they stick fast in such a supervisance as that of the -all is well, as regards those personages; but the principle still remains. The patronage of assassins opened the road to the downfall of the Roman Empire, by clearing away, alternately, the most able persons of the two parties, under semblance of justice, as the or the prevailed; but its application to their political opponents upon an extended scale was many centuries in coming to perfection, and then we find it exercised, with most rancour by the first-mentioned, against rival families of their own order. Even though the be a fable, as and others maintained, and the poetic style of Gib- bon would induce us to believe, but for his , it might well serve as an instructive les- son, teaching us, that those who are now struck with terror at the machinations of their rulers, may themselves in the third and fourth generations-for the Britons of


today preserve the printed testimonies of such deeds, as the Romans nursed up their wrath in the oft repeated narratives of their wrongs.

But for the affair of the conspi- racy, we should imagine that the gift of pro- phesy entered into the following reflection, which appeared in the former volume of the

London Guide.

Alluding to the impunity with which all those fellows, before named, got off, and perhaps even now beard us, unknown, under some new name, and keep sober citizens in jeopardy of their lives and properties under the cloak of some snug appointment, we were in- duced to exclaim, rather uncharitably-

The cry of immolated victims was before the judg- ment seat; but so much of state policy, and of feverish management, and overweening care, hath marked the two administrations of

Lord Sidmouth

, from the time of


and the




, to that of the



William Hone

, that we should not wonder the least to see those

"hellish scoundrels,"

as Mr.


called them, advanced to some post or office in the state,



page 231 of that book. And we have seen that some of them were subse- quently advanced. We already knew the pro- motion that attended those soldiers, with the , who assisted in the scenes at the , that precipitated the chattering Colonel , and half-a-score more, upon the scaffold; we know that what treasons the


intemperate Colonel did not utter, others uttered for him, and we heard, without surprise, that one of them behaved like a consistent poltroon in the advance upon ; all this pre-knowledge may exonerate us from the charge of soothsaying, but will never exonerate from the charge of extreme harshness. History will fill up two or three pages with details * * * * ; or 'tis not , but something else.

s of crime, and the intrap- ment of persons to perpetrate crime, that these may be afterwards delivered over to the strong arm of the law, to be dealt with , are so nearly allied, and so naturally spring up out of each other, that both are necessarily coin- mixed in our consideration of either. For, should one or more such base instruments be required by wicked men, where would they look with propriety for miscreants so nicely fit- ted to their hands, but among those already polluted with blood? What manner of man is he who could approach a yet uncontaminated person, and require him to set out on a tour to or -to or , or , for the purpose of irritated people, to say and to do those things which would cost them their lives? No; the upright man would spurn at the proposal, if he did not knock down the proposer, as recom- mended by the late , or like the famous ,

knock him about a bit from right to left, till he was tired of





he might sink to grass or . Proba- bly, I might console myself with thinking, truly, that those sins against society are past, and that their recurrence is less likely now than at any former period; nevertheless, I cannot help coinciding in the opinion that those facts, and the reflections upon them, ought to be preseved among us against all contingencies in the march of events, among which the and game-law restrictions seem most imminent.

The particular crime charged against , and was, that they hired one Renorden, and two other Irishmen, to go to a room in , already prepared by one of the conspirators, and who there set them to work in colouring base money. The same morning, another then informs against them to the beadle of (Taylor), and accompanies him in making the capture; in a few days, they were sentenced to death; but at this very moment a friend of Renorden's discovers their employer, , in the Court-yard at the , looking on, and the whole scheme is thus . One part of the objection to the prisoners was not sufficiently understood. They were not, as said,

willing to undertake any thing,

at least not . The practice is, for labourers like these, who seek employment at hard work, in digging and car- rying, at new buildings, to ply, with hods, or shovels, or other insignia, every Monday morn- ing, at four o'clock, or dawn of day, opposite


, in . The hiring takes place in a few minutes; foremen directing tens and dozens to this or that particular ,whilst seasons occur when little labour of this sort is required; at other times labourers unhired are few. At this place it was, Pelham hired the three Irishmen, who did not, in fact, understand En- glish sufficient to hire themselves without the interpreter, who was the person that so oppor- tunely rescued them from the gallows.