London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street Poets and authors.


for street sale, is chiefly confined to the production of verse, which, whatever be its nature, is known through the trade as "ballads." distinctions, indeed, are recognised—"Ballads" and "Ballads on a Subject." The last-mentioned is, as I have said and shown, the publication which relates to any specific event; national or local, criminal or merely extraordinary, true or false. Under the head "Ballads," the street-sellers class all that does not come under the description of "Ballads on a Subject."

The same street authors—now in number— compose indiscriminately any description of ballad, including the copy of verses I have shown to be required as a necessary part of all histories or trials of criminals. When the printer has determined upon a "Sorrowful Lamentation," he sends to a poet for a copy of verses, which is promptly supplied. The payment I have already mentioned—; but sometimes, if the printer (and publisher) like the verses, he "throws a penny or over;" and sometimes also, in case of a great sale, there is the same over-sum.

Fewer ballads, I was assured, than was the case or years ago, are now written expressly for street sale or street minstrelsy. "They come to the printer, for nothing, from the concert-room. He has only to buy a 'Ross' or a 'Sharp'" [song-books] "for , and there's a lot of 'em; so, in course, a publisher ain't a-going to give a bob, if he can be served for a farthing, just by buying a song-book."

Another man, himself not a "regular poet," but a little concerned in street productions, said to me, with great earnestness: "Now look at this, sir, and I hope you'll just say, sir, as I tell you. You've given the public a deal of information about men like me, and some of our chaps abuses you for it like mad; but I say it's all right, for it's all true. Now you'll have learned, sir, or, any way, you will learn, that there's songs sung in the streets, and sometimes in some tap-rooms, that isn't decent, and relates to nothing but wickedness. There wasn't a few of those songs once written for the streets, straight away, and a great sale they had, I know—but far better at country fairs and races than in town. Since the singing-houses—I don't mean where you pay to go to a concert, no! but such as your Cyder-cellars, and your night-houses, where there's lords, and gentlemen, and city swells, and young men up from the colleges—since these places has been up so flourishing, there hasn't, I do believe, been such song written by of our poets. They all come from the places where the lords, and genelmen, and collegians is capital customers; and they never was a worse sort of ballads than now. In course those houses is licensed, and perticler respectable, or it wouldn't be allowed; and if I was to go to the foot of the bridge, sir (Westminster-bridge), and chaunt any such songs, and my mate should sell them, why we should very soon be taking reg'lar exercise on Colonel Chesterton's everlasting staircase. We has a great respect for the law—O, certainly!"

Parodies on any very popular song, which used to be prepared expressly for street trade, are now, in like manner, derived from the nighthouse of the concert-room; but not entirely so. The parody "Cab, cab, cab!" which was heard in almost every street, was originated in a concert-room.

The ballads which have lately been written, and published expressly for the street sale, and have proved the most successful, are parodies or imitations of "The Gay Cavalier." street ballad, commencing in the following words, was, I am told, greatly admired, both in the streets and the public-houses:

'Twas a dark foggy night,

And the moon gave no light,

And the stars were all put in the shade:

When leary Joe Scott,

Dealt in 'Donovan's hot'

Said he'd go to court his fair maid.

I now give stanzas of "The Way to Live Happy Together,"—a ballad said to have been written expressly for street sale. Its popularity is anything but discreditable to the streetbuyers:

From the time of this world's first formation

You will find it has been the plan,

In every country and nation,

That woman was formed to please man;

And man for to love and protect them,

And shield them from the frowns of the world,

Through the smooth paths of life to direct them,

And he who would do less is a churl.

Then listen to me!

If you would live happy together,

As you steer through the troubles of life,

Depend that this world's greatest treasure,

Is a kind and a good-tempered wife.

Some men will ill-use a good woman,

And say all they do turns out wrong,

But as I mean to offend no one,

You'll find faults to both sides belong;

But if both were to look at the bright side,

And each other's minds cease to pain,

They would find they have looked at the right side,

For all would be summer again.

Then listen to me!

If you would live happy together, &c.

Married women, don't gossip or tattle,

Remember it oft stirs up strife,

But attend to your soft children's soft prattle,

And the duties of mother and wife.

And men, if you need recreation,

With selfish companions don't roam,

Who might lead you to sad degradation,

But think of your comforts at home.

Then listen to me!

If you would live happy together, &c.

It's all as one, sir," was the answer of a man whom I questioned on the subject; "it's the same poet; and the same tip for any ballad. No more nor a bob for nothing.

A large number of ballads which I procured, and all sold and sung in the street, though not written expressly for the purpose, presented a curious study enough. They were of every class. I specify a few, to show the nature of


the collection (not including ballads on a subject): "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doun," with (on the same sheet) "The Merry Fiddler," (an indecent song)—"There's a good Time coming, Boys," "Nix, my Dolly," "The Girls of —— shire," (which of course is available for any county) — "Widow Mahoney," "Remember the Glories of Brian the Brave," "Clementina Clemmins," "Lucy Long," "Erin Go Bragh," "Christmas in ," "The Death of Nelson," "The Life and Adventures of Jemmy Sweet," "The Young May Moon," "Hail to the Tyrol," "He was sich a Lushy Cove," &c. &c.

I may here mention—but a fuller notice may be necessary when I treat of street art—that some of these ballads have an "illustration" always at the top of the column. "The Heart that can Feel for Another" is illustrated by a gaunt and savage-looking lion. "The Amorous Waterman of St. John's Wood," presents a very short, obese, and bow-legged grocer, in top-boots, standing at his door, while a lady in a huge bonnet is "taking a sight at him," to the evident satisfaction of a "baked 'tater" man. "Rosin the Beau" is heralded by the rising sun. "The Poachers" has a cut of the above the title. "The Miller's Ditty" is illustrated by a perfect dandy, of the slimmest and straightest fashion; and "When I was Breeched," by an engraving of a Highlander. Many of the ballads, however, have engravings appropriate enough.

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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