London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Former and Present Street- Patterers.


OF the street-patterers the running (or flying) trader announces the contents of the paper he is offering for sale, as he proceeds on his mission. It is usually the detail of some "barbarious and horrible murder," or of some extraordinary occurrence—such as the attack on Marshal Haynau— which has roused public attention; or the paper announced as descriptive of a murder, or of some exciting event, may in reality be some odd number of a defunct periodical. "It's astonishing," said patterer to me, "how few people ever complain of having been took in. It hurts their feelings to lose a halfpenny, but it


hurts their pride too much, when they're had, to grumble in public about it." On this head, then, I need give no further general explanation.

In times of excitement the running patterer (or "stationer," as he was and is sometimes called) has reaped the best harvest. When the Popish plot agitated England in the reign of Charles II. the "Narratives" of the design of a handful of men to assassinate a whole nation, were eagerly purchased in the streets and taverns. And this has been the case during the progress of any absorbing event subsequently. I was told by a very old gentleman, who had heard it from his grandfather, that in some of the quiet towns of the north of England, in Durham and Yorkshire, there was the greatest eagerness to purchase from the street-sellers any paper relative to the progress of the forces under Charles Edward Stuart, in . This was especially the case when it became known that the "rebels" had gained possession of Carlisle, and it was uncertain what might be their route southward. About the period of the "affair of the '," and in the autumn following the decisive battle of Culloden (in ), the "Northern Lights" were more than usually brilliant, or more than usually remarked, and a meteor or had been seen. The street-sellers were then to be found in fairs and markets, vending wonderful accounts of these wonderful phenomena.

I have already alluded to the character of the old mountebank, and to his "pompous orations," having "as little regard to truth as to propriety." There certainly is little pompousness in the announcements of the patterers, though in their general disregard of truth they resemble those of the mountebank. The mountebank, however, addressed his audience from a stage, and made his address attractive by mixing up with it music, dancing, and tumbling; sometimes, also, equestrianism on the green of a village; and by having always the services of a merry-andrew, or clown. The nostrums of these quacks were all as unequalled for cheapness as for infallibility, and their impudence and coolness ensured success. Their practices are as well exposed in some of the of - as the puppet-playing of Powel was good-humouredly ridiculed. especial instance is cited, where a mountebank, announcing himself a native of Hammersmith, where he was holding forth, offered to make a present of to every brother native of Hammersmith among his audience. The mountebank then drew from a long bag a handful of little packets, each of which, he informed the spectators, was constantly sold for , but that out of love to his native hamlet he would bate the odd to every inhabitant of the place. The whole assembly immediately closed with his generous offer."

There is a scene in Moncrieff's popular farce of "," where the hero personates a mountebank, which may be here cited as affording a good idea of the "pompous orations" indulged in by the street orators in days of yore:

Silence there, and hear me, for my words are more precious than gold; I am the renowned and far-famed Doctor Paracelsus Bombastes Esculapus Galen dam Humbug von Quack, member of all the colleges under the Moon: M.D., L.M.D., F.R.S., L.L.D., A.S.S.— and all the rest of the letters in the alphabet: I am the seventh son of a seventh son—kill or cure is my motto —and I always do it; I cured the great Emperor of Nova Scotia, of a poly pus, after he had been given over by all the faculty—he lay to all appearance dead; the first pill he took, he opened his eyes; the second, he raised his head; and the third, he jumped up and danced a hornpipe. I don't want to sound my own praise—blow the trumpet, Balaam (Balaam blows trumpet); but I tapped the great Cham of Tartary at a sitting, of a terrible dropsy, so that I didn't leave a drop in him! I cure the palsy, the dropsy, the lunacy, and all the sighs, without costing anybody a sigh; vertigo, pertigo, lumbago, and all the other go's are sure to go, whenever I come.

In his unscrupulousness and boldness in street announcements, and sometimes in his humour and satire, we find the patterer of the present day to be the mountebank of old descended from his platform into the streets—but without his music, his clown, or his dress.

There was formerly, also, another class, differing little from the habits of that variety of patterers of the present day who "busk" it, or "work the public-houses."

"The jestours," says Mr. Strutt, in his "Sports and Pastimes of the People of England," "or, as the word is often written in the old English dialect, 'gesters,' were the relaters of the gestes, that is, the actions of famous persons, whether fabulous or real; and these stories were of kinds, the to excite pity, and the other to move laughter, as we learn from Chaucer:

And jestours that tellen tales,

Both of wepying and of game.

The tales of 'game,' as the poet expresses himself were short jocular stories calculated to promote merriment, in which the reciters paid little respect to the claims of propriety or even of common decency. The tales of 'game,' however, were much more popular than those of weeping, and probably for the very reason that ought to have operated the most powerfully for their suppression. The gestours, whose powers were chiefly employed in the hours of conviviality, finding by experience that lessons of instruction were much less seasonable at such times, than idle tales productive of mirth and laughter, accommodated their narrations to the general taste of the times, regardless of the mischiefs they occasioned by vitiating the morals of their hearers. Hence it is that the author of the 'Vision of Pierce the Ploughman' calls them contemptibly 'japers and juglers, and janglers of gests.' He describes them as haunters of taverns and common ale-houses, amusing the lower classes of the people with 'myrth of minstrelsy and losels' tales,' (loose vulgar tales,) and calls them tale-tellers and 'tutelers in ydell,' (tutors of idleness,) occasioning their auditory, 'for love of tales, in tavernes to drink,' where they learned from them to jangle and to jape, instead of attending to their more serious duties.

The japers, I apprehend, were the same as the bourdours, or rybauders, an inferior class of minstrels, and properly called jesters in the modern acceptation of the word; whose wit, like that of the merry-andrews of the present day (1800) consisted in low obscenity accompanied with ludicrous gesticulation. They sometimes, however, found admission into the houses of the opulent. Knighton, indeed, mentions one of these japers who was a favourite in the English court, and could obtain any grant from the king 'a burdando,' that is, by jesting. They are well described by the poet: As japers and janglers, Judas' chyldren, Fayneth them fantasies, and fooles them maketh.

It was a very common and a very favourite amusement, so late as the 16th century, to hear the recital of verses and moral speeches, learned for that purpose by a set of men who obtained their livelihood thereby, and who, without ceremony, intruded themselves, not only into taverns and other places of public resort, but also into the houses of the nobility

The resemblance of the modern patterer to the classes above mentioned will be seen when I describe the public-house actor and reciter of the present day, as well as the standing patterer, who does not differ so much from the running patterer in the quality of his announcements, as in his requiring more time to make an impression, and being indeed a sort of lecturer needing an audience; also of the present reciters "of verses and moral speeches." But of these curious classes I shall proceed to treat separately.

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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