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

Bee, Jon

1828

MOST of those tricks, of which strangers are the main object, usually commence in the streets, and have been freely handled. Others

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that are common to these, to long residents and natives, town-breds, come next under review; and though not so much exposed to the casual observer, includes a vast proportion of the population in their influence. Of these tricks, the most frequent are base attempts to palm off, from house to house, India silk goods, tea, and French manufactures, as smuggled, with Irish-linen and other piece goods; the caitiffs conveying an idea, at times, in an under tone, that sounds as if the goods had been really stolen; whereas, the handkerchiefs were invariably our own countryman ufacture, usually heavy Macclesfields and the broad silks of Spitalfields make. For my part, I never saw any other, and have often seen these street-venders making their purchases of the manufacturers, having walked into the warehouses after them, the more accurately to mark their mode of They are the same with the duffers, but take out hawkers' licenses to sell from house to house, to the great annoyance of housekeepers in the more secluded lanes and small squares, at the outskirts and middling genteel neighbourhoods, whom they pester with offers of goods of every kind, knocking and ringing at their doors incessantly, from morning to night. Not only matches, ballads, fruit, bobbins, rabbits, blacking, potage, plants,

growing blowing,

fish of all persuasions, butter,

nice new cheese,

oranges and lemons, but tea and coffee, books in sixpenny numbers, cloth goods, and

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cabinet ware, with fifty others, not enumerated. All which make up the far-famed, but muchaltered that amused or surprised our juvenility, in the form of a penny gilt book, and which a musical friend of ours, at one time, undertook to reduce to the harmony of

piano and flute accompaniment;

but the first series of petty traders, the real cryers, endeavour to circumvent his crotchets, by adopting the mute applications from door to door of the latter; so that'tis no uncommon thing for a small family to have their dinner belated, by some quarter of a hundred walking tradespeople, thundering at the outer portal, or bawling down the area, and the thousand-and-one other stories, that we had rather imagine than hear.

But the evil, which begins with and milk, or rather in the morning, and continues down to and of an evening, does not end here; much less do the effects of our London cries terminate with midnight, for at that hour the real troubles of some of the purchasers may be said to begin. Many of the knocking and ringing applicants are connected with thieves, hair-brush vendors in particular, and the transmutation of any one of these into a burglar is neither a difficult operation, nor an uncommon occurrence. The females, who bawl at dawn, in spring, are invariably so

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allied, and upon the constant look out for squalls; for doors a-jar, or window-shutters carelessly left; for shops insufficiently guarded, as to the youth, or the disposition of the man,

just to step out for a drop of gin,

the first thing in the morning. On such an occasion, what scheme could be better devised, for perpetrating the safe thing, than for an accomplice to detain him at

the wine-vaults

by persuasion, by a treat, by fun, or by civil jaw? A sort of cajollery that is often practised upon other weak-headed guardians of every kind of property, who may incline towards a drop of the creature too much. Whether those guardians be porters, or shopmen, or watchmen, or trusty servants, who may thus endeavour to keep their spirits up, they are ever more liable, than any other description of innocents, to contribute to the purposes of

 
 
Footnotes:

[] HAWKERS, THIEVES' JACKALS:

[] THEY BECOME BURGLARS.

[] MORNING PILFERERS.