London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Experience of a Standing Patterer.


FROM of this body I received, at the period just alluded to, the following information:—

"I have taken my a day (said my informant); but 'paper' selling now isn't half so good as it used to be. People haven't got the money to lay out; for it all depends with the working man. The least we take in a day is, upon an average, sixpence; but taking the good and bad together, I should say we take about a week. I know there's some get more than that, but then there's many take less. Lately, I know, I haven't taken a week myself, and people reckon me of the best patterers in the trade. I'm reckoned to have the gift—that is, the gift of the gab. I never works a last dying speech on any other than the day of execution—all the edge is taken off of it after that. The last dying speeches and executions are all printed the day before. They're always done on the Sunday, if the murderers are to be hung on the Monday. I've been and got them myself on the Sunday night, over and over again. The flying stationers goes with the papers in their pockets, and stand under the drop, and as soon as ever it falls, and long before the breath is out of the body, they begin bawling out." [Here my informant gave a further account of the flying stationers under the gallows, similar to what I have given. He averred that they "invented every lie likely to go down."] "'Here you have also an exact likeness,' they say, 'of the murderer, taken at the bar of the Old Bailey!' when all the time it is an old wood-cut that's been used for every criminal for the last years. I know the likeness that was given of Hocker was the that was given for Fauntleroy; and the wood-cut of Tawell was that was given for the Quaker that had been hanged for forgery years before. Thurtell's likeness was done expressly for the 'papers;' and so was the Mannings' and Rush's likenesses too. The murders are bought by men, women, and children. Many of the trade people bought a great many of the affair of the Mannings. I went down to Deptford with mine, and did uncommonly well. I sold all off. Gentlefolks won't have anything to do with murders sold in the street; they've got other ways of seeing all about it. We lay on the horrors, and picture them in the highest colours we can. We don't care what's in the 'papers' in our hands. All we want to do is to sell 'em; and the more horrible we makes the affairs, the more sale we have. We do very well with 'loveletters.' They are 'cocks;' that is, they are all fictitious. We give it out that they are from a tradesman in the neighbourhood, not a yards from where we are a-standing. Sometimes we say it's a well-known sporting butcher; sometimes it's a highly respectable publican— just as it will suit the tastes of the neighbourhood. I got my living round Cornwall for twelvemonth with nothing else than a loveletter. It was headed, 'A curious and laughable love-letter and puzzle, sent by a sporting gentleman to Miss H—s—m, in neighbourhood;' that suits any place that I may chance to be in; but I always patter the name of the street or village where I may be. This letter, I say, is so worded, that had it fallen into the hands of her mamma or papa, they could not have told what it meant; but the young lady, having so much wit, found out its true meaning, and sent him an answer in the same manner. You have here, we say, the number of the house, the name of the place where she lives (there is nothing of the kind, of course), and the initials of all the parties concerned. We dare not give the real names in full, we tell them; indeed, we do all we can to get up the people's curiosity. I did very well with the 'Burning of the .' I happened by accident to put my pipe into my pocket amongst some of my papers, and burnt them. Then, not knowing how to get rid of them, I got a few straws. I told the people that my burnt papers were parliamentary documents that had been rescued from the flames, and that, as I dare not sell them, I would let them have a straw for a penny, and give them of the papers. By this trick I got rid of my stock twice as fast, and got double the price that I should have done. The papers had nothing at all to do with the . Some was 'Death and the Lady,' and 'Death and the Gentleman,' and others were the 'Political Catechism,' and lies, Scotch, English, and Irish, and each lie as big round as St. Paul's. I remember a party named Jack Straw, who laid a wager, half-a-gallon of beer, that he'd bring home the money for dozen blank papers in hour's time. He went out into the Oldstreet- road, and began a patter about the political affairs of the nation, and Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke of Wellington, telling the public that he dared not sell his papers, they were treasonable; so he gave them with a straw—that he sold for penny. In less than the hour he was sold clean out, and returned and drank the beer. The


chief things that I work are quarter-sheets of recitations and dialogues. is 'Good Advice to Young Men on Choosing their Wives.' I have done exceedingly well with that—it's a good moral thing. Another is the 'Drunkard's Catechism;' another is 'The Rent Day; or, the Landlord gathering his Rents.' This is a dialogue between the landlord and his tenant, beginning with 'Good morning, Mrs. Longface; have you got my rent ready, ma'am?' The next is 'The Adventures of Larry O'Flinn.' It's a comic story, and a very good got-up thing. Another is 'A Hint to Husbands and Wives;' and 'A Pack of Cards turned into a Bible, a Prayer-book, and an Almanack.' These cards belonged to Richard Middleton, of the regiment of foot, who was taken a prisoner for playing at cards in church during divine service. But the best I do is 'The Remarkable Dream of a Young Man of loose character, who had made an agreement to break into a gentleman's house at at night on Whitsun Monday, but, owing to a little drink that he took, he had a remarkable dream, and dreamed he was in hell. The dream had such influence on his mind that he refused to meet his comrade. His comrade was taken up for the burglary, found guilty, and executed for it. This made such an impression on the young man's mind that he became a reformed character.' There is a very beautiful description of hell in this paper," said my informant, "that makes it sell very well among the old women and the apprentice lads, for the young man was an apprentice himself. It's all in very pretty poetry, and a regular 'cock.' The papers that I work chiefly are what are called 'the standing patters;' they're all of 'em stereotype, and some of them a years old. We consider the 'death hunters' are the lowest grade in the trade. We can make most money of the murders while they last, but they don't last, and they merely want a good pair of lungs to get them off. But it's not every , sir, that can work the standing patters. Many persons I've seen try at it and fail. old man I knew tried the 'Drunkard's Catechism' and the 'Soldier's Prayer-book and Bible.' He could manage to patter these because they'll almost work themselves; but 'Old Mother Clifton' he broke down in. I heard him do it in and in the Blackfriars-road; but it was such a dreadful failure—he couldn't humour it a bit—that, thinks I to myself, you'll soon have to give up, and sure enough he's never been to the printer's since. He'd a very poor audience, chiefly boys and girls, and they were laughing at him because he made so many blunders in it. A man that's never been to school an hour can go and patter a dying speech or 'A Battle between Ladies of Fortune.' They require no scholarship. All you want is to stick a picture on your hat, to attract attention, and to make all the noise you can. It's all the same when they does an 'Assassination of Louis Philippe,' or a 'Diabolical Attempt on the Life of the Queen'—a good stout pair of lungs and plenty of impudence is all that is required. But to patter 'Bounce, the Workhouse Beadle, and the Examination of the Paupers before the Poorlaw Commissioners,' takes a good head-piece and great gift of the gab, let me tell you. It's just the same as a play-actor. I can assure you I often feel very nervous. I begin it, and walk miles before I can get confidence in myself to make the attempt. I got rid of quire last night. I was up among the gentlemen's servants in , , and I had a very good haul out of the grown--up people. I cleared altogether. I did that from till in the evening. It's all chancework. If it's fine, and I can get a crowd of grown--up people round me, I can do very well, but I can't do anything amongst the boys. There's very little to be done in the day-time. I begin at in the day, and stop out till . After that I starts off again at , and leaves off about at night. Marylebone, Paddington, and I find the best places. The West-end is very good the early part of the week, for any thing that's genteel, such as the 'Rich Man and his Wife quarrelling because they have no Family.' Our customers there are principally the footmen, the grooms, and the maidservants. The east end of the town is the best on Friday and Saturday evenings. I very often go to on Friday evening. Most part of the dock-men are paid then, and anything comic goes off well among them. On Saturdays I go to the New-cut, Ratcliff-highway, the Brill, and such places. I make mostly clear on a Saturday night. After years' experience of the patter and paper line in the streets, I find that a foolish nonsensical thing will sell twice as fast as a good moral sentimental ; and, while it lasts, a good murder will cut out the whole of them. It's the best selling thing of any. I used at time to patter religious tracts in the street, but I found no encouragement. I did the 'Infidel Blacksmith'—that would not sell. 'What is Happiness? a Dialogue between Ellen and Mary'—that was no go. No more was the 'Sorrows of Seduction.' So I was driven into the comic standing patters.'

The more recent "experiences" of standing patterers, as they were detailed to me, differ so little in subject, or anything else, from what I have given concerning running patterers, that to cite them would be a repetition.

From the best information to be obtained, I have no doubt that there are always at least standing patterers—sometimes they are called "boardmen"—at work in London. Some of them "run" occasionally, but an equal number or more, of the regular "runners" resort now and then to the standing patter, so the sum is generally kept up.

Notwithstanding the drawbacks of bad weather, which affects the standing, and does not affect the running, patterer; and notwithstanding the more frequent interruptions of the police, I am of opinion that the standing patterer earns


on an average a week more than his running brother. His earnings too are often all his own; whereas the runners are a 'school,' and, their gains divided. More running patterers become, on favourable occasions, stationary, with boards, perhaps in the proportion of to , than the stationary become itinerant. standing patterer told me, that, during the excitement about the Sloanes, he cleared full a day for more than a week; but at other times he had cleared only in a whole week, and he had taken nothing when the weather was too wet for the standing work, and there was nothing up to "run" with.

If, then, standing patterers clear weekly, each, the year through—"taking" weekly—we find that is yearly expended in the standing patter of London streets.

The capital required for the start of the standing is greater than that needed by the running patterer. The painting for a board costs ; the board and pole, with feet, to which it is attached, ; and stock-money, ; in all,

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 Title Page
 The Street-Folk: Of Wandering Tribes in General
 Of the Wandering Tribes of this Country
 Of the London Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Varieties of Street-Folk in General, and Costermongers in Particular
Of Costermongering Mechanics
Ancient Calling of Costermongers
Of the Obsolete Cries of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers 'Economically' Considered
The London Street Markets on a Saturday Night
The Sunday Morning Markets
Habits and amusements of Costermongers
Gambling of Costermongers
'Vic Gallery'
The Politics of Costermongers.-- Policemen
Marriage and Concubinage of Costermongers
Religion of Costermongers
Of the Uneducated State of Costermongers
Language of Costermongers
Of the Nicknames of Costermongers
Of the Education of Costermongers' Children
The Literature of Costermongers
Of the Honesty of Costermongers
Of the Conveyances of the Costermongers and Other Street-Sellers
Of the 'Smithfield Races'
Of the Donkeys of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers' Capital
Of the 'Slang' Weights and Measures
Of Half Profits
Of the Boys of the Costermongers, and their Bunts
Of the Juvenile Trading of the Costermongers
Of the Education of the 'Coster-Lads'
The Life of a Coster-Lad
Of the 'Penny Gaff'
Of the Coster-Girls
The Life of a Coster Girl
Of Costermongers and Thieves
Of the More Provident Costermongers
Of the Homes of the Costermongers
Of the Dress of the Costermongers
Once Try You'll Come Again
Of the Diet and Drink of Costermongers
Of the Cries, Rounds, and Days of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers on their Country Rounds
Of the Earnings of Costermongers
Of the Capital and Income of the Costermongers
Of the Providence and Improvidence of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers in Bad Weather and During the Cholera
Of the Costermongers' Raffles
Of the Markets and Trade Rights of the Costerongers, and of the Laws Affecting Them
Of the Removals of Costermongers From the Streets
Of the Tricks of Costermongers
Of the Street-Sellers of Fish
Of Sprat-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Fruit and Vegetables
Of the Stationary Street-Sellers of Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables
Of the Street-Irish
Of the Street-Sellers of Game, Poultry (Live and Dead), Rabbits, Butter, Cheese, and Eggs
Of the Sellers of Trees, Shrubs, Flowers (Cut and In Pots), Roots, Seeds, and Branches
Street-Sellers of Green Stuff
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Pea-Soup and Hot Eels
Of the Experience of a Hot-Eel and Pea-Soup Man
Of the Street-Sellers of Pickled Whelks
Of the Customers, Etc., of Pickled Whelk-Sellers
Of the Street Sellers, and of the Preparation of Fried Fish
Of the Experience of a Fried Fish- Seller, and of the Class of Customers
Of the Preparation and Quantity of Sheep's Trotters, and of the Street-Sellers
Statements of Sheep's Trotter Women
Of the Street Trade in Baked Potatoes
Of 'Trotting,' or 'Hawking' Butchers
Of the Experience of a Hawking Butcher
Of the Street-Sellers of Ham-Sandwiches
Of the Experience of a Ham Sandwich- Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Bread
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Green Peas
Of the Experience of a Hot Green Pea Seller
Of Cats' and Dogs'--Meat Dealers
Of the Street-Sale of Drinkables
Of Coffee-Stall Keepers
Of the Street Sale of Ginger-Beer, Sherbet, Lemonade, &c
Of the Experience and Customers of A Ginger-Beer Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Elder Wine
Of the Street Sale of Peppermint-Water
Of Milk Selling in St. James's Park
Of the Street Sale of Milk
Of the Street-Sale of Curds and Whey
Of the Street-Sellers of Rice-Milk
Of Water-Carriers
Of the Street-Sellers of Pastry and Confectionary
Of Street Piemen
Of the Street-Sellers of Boiled Puddings
Of the Street-Sellers of Plum 'Duff' or Dough
Of the Street-Sellers of Cakes, Tarts, &c.
Of Other Cake-Sellers in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Gingerbread- Nuts, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot-Cross Buns, and of Chelsea Buns
Of Muffin and Crumpet-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street Sale of Sweet-Stuff
Of the Customers of the Sweet-Stuff Street-Sellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Cough Drops and of Medical Confectionary
'Lohoch de farfara,' the Lohoch of Coltsfoot
Of the Street-Sellers of Ices and of Ice Creams
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Capital, or Stock in Trade, of the Street- Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Income, or 'Takings,' of Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, &c.
Of the Former and Present Street- Patterers
Of the Habits, Opinions, Morals, and Religion of Patterers Generally
Of the Publishers and authors of Street-Literature
Of Long Song-Sellers
Of Running Patterers
Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Recent Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Chaunters
Of the Experience of a Chaunter
Of the Death and Fire Hunters
Of the Sellers of Second Editions
Of the Standing Patterers
Experience of a Standing Patterer
Of Political Litanies, Dialogues, etc.
Of 'Cocks,' Etc.
Of 'Strawing'
Of the Sham indecent Street-Trade
Of Religious Tract Sellers
Of a Benefit Society of Patterers
Of the Abodes, Tricks, Marriage, Character, and Characteristics of the Different Grades of Patterers
Of the Low Lodging-Houses of London
Of the Filth, Dishonesty, and Immorality of Low Lodging-Houses
Of the Children in Low Lodging- Houses
Of the Low Lodging-Houses Throughout the Country
Of the Street Stationers, and the Street Card-Sellers
Of the Seller of the Penny Short-Hand Cards
The Lecture
'I perish with hunger'
Of the Sellers of Race Cards and Lists
Of the Street-Sellers of Gelatine, of Engraved, and of Playing Cards, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Experience of a Street- Stationer
Of a 'Reduced' Gentlewoman, and a 'Reduced' Tradesman, as Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Street-Sale of Memorandum- Books and Almanacks
Of the Street-Sale of Pocket-Books and Diaries
Of the Street-Sellers of Songs
Of the Street 'Pinners-up,' or Wall Song-Sellers
Of Ancient and Modern Street Ballad Minstrelsy
Of Street 'Ballads on a Subject'
Of the Street Poets and Authors
Of the Experience of a Street Author, or Poet
Of the Street-Sellers of Broad-Sheets
Of the 'Gallows' Literature of the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Conundrums
Of the Street-Sellers of Comic Exhibitions, Magical Delusions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Play-Bills
Of the Street-Sellers of Periodicals, Pamphlets, Tracts, Books, Etc.
Of the Street-Sale of Back Numbers
Of the Sale of Waste Newspapers at Billingsgate
Of the Sale of Periodicals on the Steam- Boats and Steam-Boat Piers
Of the Sale of Newspapers, Books, &c., at the Railway Stations
Of the Street Booksellers
Of the Character of Books of the Street-Sale
Of the Experience of a Street Book- Seller
Of Street Book-Auctioneers
Of the Street-Sale of Song-Books, and of Children's Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Account-Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Guide-Books, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Fine Arts
Of Street Art
Of the Street-Sellers of Engravings, Etc., in Umbrellas, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pictures in Frames
Of the Street-Sellers of Manuscript and Other Music
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Capital or Value of the Stock-in-Trade of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature and the Fine Arts
Income, or Average Annual 'Takings,' of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
An Epitome of the Pattering Class
Of the 'Screevers,' or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions
'God Save the Queen'
Of the Probable Means of Reformation
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles in Metal
Of the Cheap Johns, or Street Han- Sellers
'The Original Cheap John'
The Crippled Street-Seller of Nut- Meg-Graters
Of the Swag-Shops of the Metropolis
Shopkeepers and Dealers Supplied with the Following Articles --
Of the Life of a Cheap-John
The Street-Sellers of Cutlery
Of the Blind Street-Sellers of Tailors' Needles, etc.
The Public-House Hawkers of Metal Spoons, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Jewellery
Of the Pedlar-Jewellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Card-Counters, Medals, Etc.
The Construction is of Iron and of Glass, 1848 Feet Long. about Half is 456 Wide. the Remainder 408 Feet Wide, and 66 Feet High; Site, Upwards of 20 acres. Josh. Paxton, archt.
Of the Street-Sellers of Rings and Sovereigns For Wagers
Of the Street-Sellers of Children's Gilt Watches
Of the Street-Sellers of Tinware
Of the Life of a Tin-Ware Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Dog-Collars
Of the Life of a Street-Seller of Dog- Collars
Of the Street-Sellers of Tools
Of the Beggar Street-Sellers
Pike's Patent Cotton. 120 Yards
'The Lace-Makers' Appeal'
'ALLEN, Printer, Long-row, Nottingham'
Of the 'House of Lords,' a Street-Seller's Defunct Club
Of the Street-Sellers of Crockery and Glass-Wares
Of the 'Swag,' Crockery, and Glass Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Spar and China Ornaments, and of Stone Fruit
Of the Street-Sellers of Textile Fabrics
Of the Haberdashery Swag-Shops
Of Hawkers, Pedlars, and Petty Chapmen
Of the Packmen, or Hawkers of Soft Wares
Statement of a Packman
Of the Tally Packman
Of the 'Duffers' or Hawkers of Pretended Smuggled Goods
Of the Street-Sellers of 'Small-Ware,' or Tape, Cotton, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Lace
Of the Street-Sellers of Japanned Table- Covers
Of the Street-Sellers of Braces, Belts, Hose, Trowser-Straps, and Waistcoats
Of the Street-Sellers of Boot and Stay- Laces, &c.
Of a Blind Female Seller of 'Small-Wares'
The Blind Street-Seller of Boot-Laces
Of the Life of a Blind Boot-Lace Seller
Of the Low Lodging-Houses
Statement of a Young Pickpocket
Statement of a Prostitute
Statement of a Beggar
Meeting of Thieves
Of the Country Lodging-Houses
Of the Street-Sellers of Chemical Articles of Manufacture
Of the Street-Sellers of Blacking, Black Lead, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of French Polish
Of the Street-Sellers of Grease-Removing Compositions
Of the Street-Sellers of Corn-Salve
Of the Street-Sellers of Glass and China Cement, and of Razor Paste
Of the Street-Seller of Crackers and Detonating Balls
Of the Street-Sellers of Lucifer-Matches
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigar Lights, or Fuzees
Of the Street-Sellers of Gutta-Percha Heads
Of the Street-Sellers of Fly-Papers and Beetle-Wafers
Of the Street-Sellers of Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Walking-Sticks
Of the Street-Sellers of Whips, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pipes, and of Snuff and Tobacco Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigars
Of the Street-Sellers of Sponge
Of the Street-Sellers of Wash-Leathers
Of the Street-Sellers of Spectacles and Eye-Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Dolls
Of the 'Swag-Barrowmen,' and 'Lot- Sellers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Roulette Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Poison For Rats
Of the Street-Sellers of Rhubarb and Spice
Of the Hawking of Tea
Of the Women Street-Sellers
Of the Children Street-Sellers of London