London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of Political Litanies, Dialogues, etc.


To "work a litany" in the streets is considered of the higher exercises of professional skill on the part of the patterer. In working this, a clever patterer—who will not scruple to introduce anything out of his head which may strike him as suitable to his audience—is very particular in his choice of a mate, frequently changing his ordinary partner, who may be good "at a noise" or a ballad, but not have sufficient acuteness or intelligence to patter politics as if he understood what he was speaking about. I am told that there are not patterers in London whom a critical professor of street elocution will admit to be capable of 'working a catechism' or a litany. "Why, sir," said patterer, "I've gone out with a mate to work a litany, and he's humped it in no time." To 'hump,' in street parlance, is equivalent to 'botch,' in more genteel colloquialism. "And when a thing's humped," my informant continued, "you can only 'call a go.'" To 'call a go,' signifies to remove to another spot, or adopt some other patter, or, in short, to resort to some change or other in consequence of a failure.

An elderly man, not now in the street trade, but who had "pattered off a few papers" some years ago, told me that he had heard or old hands—"now all dead, for they're a short-lived people"—talk of the profits gained and the risk ran by giving Hone's parodies on the Catechism, Litany, St. Athanasius' Creed, &c. in the streets, after the consecutive trials and the acquittals of Hone had made the parodies famous and Hone popular. To work them in the streets was difficult, "for though," said my informant, "there was no new police in them days, there was plenty of officers and constables ready to pull the fellows up, and though Hone was acquitted, a beak that wanted to please the high dons, would find some way of stopping them that sold Hone's things in the street, and so next to nothing could be done that way, but a little was done." The greatest source of profit, I learned from the reminiscences of the same man, was in the parlours and tap-rooms of public-houses, where the patterers or reciters were well paid "for going through their catechisms," and sometimes, that there might be no interruption, the door was locked, and even the landlord and his servants excluded. The charge was usually a copy, but was not refused.

During Queen Caroline's trial there were the like interruptions and hindrances to similar performances; and the interruptions continued during the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill until about the era of the Reform Bill, and then the hindrance was but occasional. "And perhaps it was our own fault, sir," said patterer, "that we was then molested at all in the dialogues and catechisms and things; but we was uncommon bold, and what plenty called sarcy, at that time: we was so."

Thus this branch of a street profession continued to be followed, half surreptitiously, until after the subsidence of the political ferment consequent on the establishment of a new franchise and the partial abolition of an old . The calling, however, has never been popular among street purchasers, and I believe that it is sometimes followed by a street-patterer as much from the promptings of the pride of art as from the hope of gain.

The street-papers in the dialogue form have not been copied nor derived from popular productions—but even in the case of Political Litanies and Anti-Corn-law Catechisms and Dialogues are the work of street authors.

intelligent man told me, that properly to work a political litany, which referred to ecclesiastical matters, he "made himself up," as well as limited means would permit, as a bishop! and "did stunning, until he was afraid of being stunned on skilly." Of the late papers on the subject of the Pope, I cite the which was certainly the best of all that appeared, and concerning which indignant remonstrances were addressed to some of the newspapers. The "good child" in the patter, was a tall bulky man; the examiner (also the author), was rather diminutive:—

My good Child as it is necessary at this very important crisis; when, that good pious and very reasonable old gentleman Pope Pi-ass the nineth has promised to favor us with his presence, and the pleasures of Popery—and trampled on the rights and privilages which, we, as Englishmen, and Protestants, have engaged for these last years— Since Bluff, king Hal. began to take a dislike to the broad brimmed hat of the venerable Cardinal Wolsey, and proclaimed himself an heretic; It is necessary I say, for you, and all of you, to be perfect in your Lessons so as you may be able to verbly chastize this saucy prelate, his newly made Cardinal Foolishman, and the whole host of Puseites and protect our beloved Queen, our Church, and our Constitution.

Now my boy can you tell me what is your Name?

B—— Protestant.



How came you by that name?

At the time of Harry the stout, when Popery was in a galloping consumption the people protested against the surpremacy and instalence of the Pope; and his Colleges had struck deep at the hallow tree of superstition I gained the name of Protestant, and proud am I, and ever shall be to stick to it till the day of my death.

Let us say.

From all Cardinals whether wise or foolish. Oh! Queen Spare us.

Spare us, Oh Queen.

From the pleasure of the Rack, and the friendship of the kind hearted officers of the Inquisition. Oh! Johnny hear us.

Oh! Russell hear us.

From the comforts of being frisled like a devil'd kindney. Oh! Nosey save us.

Hear us Oh Arthur.

From such saucy Prelates, as Pope Pi-ass. Oh! Cumming's save us.

Save us good Cumming.

And let us have no more Burnings in smithfield, no more warm drinks in the shape of boiled oil, or, molten lead, and send the whole host of Pusyites along with the Pope, Cardinals to the top of mount Vesuvius there to dine off of hot lava, so that we may live in peace & shout long live our Queed, and No Popery!

For some pitches the foregoing was sufficient, for a street auditory "hates too long a patter;" but where a favourable opportunity offered, easily tested by the pecuniary beginnings, the "Lesson of the Day" was given in addition, and was inserted after the "Answer" in the foregoing parody, so preceding the "Let us say:"

You seem an intelligent lad, so I think you are quite capable of Reading with me the Lessons for this day's service.

Now the Lesson for the day is taken from all parts of the Book of Martyr's, beginning at just where you like.

It was about the year , that a certain renagade of the name of Pussy—I beg his pardon, I mean Pusey, like a snake who stung his master commenced crawling step by step, from the master; he was bound to serve to worship a puppet, arrayed in a spangle and tincel of a romish showman.

And the pestelance that he shed around spread rapidly through the minds of many unworthy members of our established Church; even up to the present year, , inasmuch that St Barnabus, of , unable to to see the truth by the aid of his occulars, mounted of long sixes in the mid-day, that he might see through the fog of his own folly, by which he was surrounded.

And Pope Pi-ass the nineth taking advantage of the hubub, did create unto himself a Cardinal in the person of Wiseman of .

And Cardinal broadbrim claimed counties in England as his dioces, and his master the Pope claimed as many more as his sees, but the people of England could not see that, so they declared aloud they would see them blowed .

So when Jack Russell heard of his most impudent intentions, he sent him a Letter saying it was the intention of the people of England never again to submit to their infamous mumerys for the burnings in was still fresh in their memory.

And behold great meetings were held in different parts of England where the Pope was burnt in effigy, like unto a Yarmouth Bloater, as a token of respect for him and his followers.

And the citizens of London were stanch to a man, and assembled together in the of our mighty City and shouted with stentarian lungs, long live the Queen and down with the Pope, the sound of which might have been heard even unto the vatican of Rome.

And when his holyness the Pope heard that his power was set at naught, his nose became blue even as a bilberry with rage and declared Russell and Cummings or any who joined in the No Popery cry, should ever name the felisity of kissing his pious great toe.

Thus Endeth the Lesson.

In the course of my inquiries touching this subject I had more than once occasion to observe that an acute patterer had always a reason, or an excuse for anything. quick-witted Irishman, whom I knew to be a Roman Catholic, was "working" a "patter against the Pope," (not the I have given), and on my speaking to him on the subject, and saying that I supposed he did it for a living, he replied: "That's it then, sir. You're right, sir, yes. I work it just as a Catholic lawyer would plead against a Catholic paper for a libel on Protestants— though in his heart he knew the paper was right —and a Protestant lawyer would defend the libel hammer and tongs. Bless you, sir, you'll not find much more honour that way among us (laughing) than among them lawyers; not much." The readiness with which the sharpest of those men plead the doings not only of tradesmen, but of the learned and sacred professions, to justify themselves, is remarkable.

Sometimes a dialogue is of a satirical nature. man told me that the "Conversation between Achilles and the Wellington Statue," of which I give the concluding moiety, was "among the best," (he meant for profit), "but no great thing." My informant was Achilles—or, as he pronounced it, Atchilees—and his mate was the statue, or "man on the horse." The lines, in the couplet form, which precede every paragraphs of dialogue, seem as if they represent the speakers wrongfully. The answer should be attributed, in each case, to Achilles.

The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.

"Little man of little mind havn't I now got iron blinds, and bomb-proof rails when danger assails, a cunning devised job, to keep out an unruly mob, with high and ambitious views and remarkable queer shoes; I say, Old Nakedness, I say, come and see my frontage over the way, but I believe you can't get out after !

No, you're as near where you are as at Quatre Bras, I hear a great deal what the public think and feel, plain as the nose on your face, we're deemed a national disgrace; they grumble at your high-ness, and at my want of shyness, and say many unpleasant things of Ligny and Marchienne!

The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.

Ah! its a few days since the Nive, where Soult found me all alive, and the grand toralloo I made at Bordeaux; wasn't I in a nice mess, when Boney left Elba and left no address, besides other jobs with the chill off I could bring to view.

But then people will say, poor unfortunate Ney, and that you were dancing at a ball, and not near Hogumont at all, and that the job of St. Helena might have been done rather cleaner, and it was a shameful go to send Sir Hudson Lowe, and that you took particular care of No. , at Waterloo.

The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.

Why flog 'em and 'od 'rot em, who said 'Up Guards and at 'em!" and you know that nice treat I received in , when hooted by a or near, defended by an old grenadier, so no whopping I got,


good luck to his old tin pot, oh! there's a deal of brass in me I'll allow.

Its prophecied you'll break down, they're crying it about town, and many jokes are past, that you're brought to the scaffold at last, and they say I look black, because I've no shirt to my back, and its getting broad daylight, I vow!

The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles But 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.

Of parodies other than the sort of compound of the Litany and other portions of the Church Service, which I have given, there are none in the streets—neither are there political duets. Such productions as parodies on popular songs, "Cab! cab! cab!" or "Trip! trip! trip!" are now almost always derived, for street-service, from the concert-rooms. But they relate more immediately to ballads, or street song; and not to patter.

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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