London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Conundrums.


AMONG the more modern street sales are "conundrums," generally vended, both in the shops and the streets, as "Nuts to Crack," when not in the form of books. This is another of the "broad-sheets," and is sufficiently clever and curious in its way.

In the centre, at the top, is the "Wonderful Picture," with the following description: "This Picture when looked at from a particular point of view, will not only appear perfect in all respects and free from distortion, but the figures will actually appear to stand out in relief from the paper." The wonderful picture, which is a rude imitation of a similar toy picture sold in a box, "with eye-piece complete," at the shops, presents a distorted view of a churchspire, a light-house, a donjon-keep, castellated buildings backed by mountains, a moat on which are vessels, an arch surmounted by a Britannia, a palm-tree (I presume), and a rampart, or pier, or something that way, on which are depicted figures, with the gestures of elocutionists. The buildings are elongated, like shadows at sunset or sunrise. What may be the "particular point of view" announced in the description of the Wonderful Picture, is not described in the "Nuts," but the following explanation is given in a little book, published simultaneously, and entitled, "The Nutcrackers, a Key to Nuts to Crack, or Enigmatical Repository:"

"THE WONDERFUL PICTURE.—Cut out a piece of cardboard inches long, make a round hole about the size of a pea in the top of it; place this level with the right-hand side of the Engraving and just inches distant from it, then apply your eye to the little hole and look at the picture, and you will find that a beautiful symmetry pervades the landscape, there is not the slightest appearance of distortion, and the different parts appear actually to stand up in relief on the paper."

Below the "Wonderful Picture" are other illustrations; and the border of the broadsheet presents a series of what may be called pictorial engravings. The is,


The answer being evidently "Diocese." No. is


Pinafore" is the solution. Of the next "hieroglyphic"—for a second title to the "Nuts" tells of "200 Hieroglyphics, Enigmas, Conundrums, Curious Puzzles, and other Ingenious Devices,"—I cannot speak very highly. It consists of "AIMER," (a figure of a hare at full speed,) and "EKA." Answer.—"America.

In the body of the broad-sheet are the Enigmas, &c., announced; of each of which I give a specimen, to show the nature of this street performance or entertainment. Enigma is—

I've got no wings, yet in the air

I often rise and fall;

I've got no feet, yet clogs I wear,

And shoes, and boots, and all.

As the answer is foot-ball, the last lines should manifestly have been placed .

The "Conundrums" are next in the arrangement, and I cite of them:

Why are there, strictly speaking, only 325 days in the year?

"Because," is the reply, " of them are lent and never returned." The "Riddles" follow in this portion of the "Nuts to Crack." Of these, is not very difficult to be solved, though it is distinguished for the usual grammatical confusion of tenses:

A man has three daughters, and each of these have a brother. How many children had he?

The "Charades" complete the series. Of these I select of the best:

I am a word of letters seven,

I'm sinful in the sight of heaven,

To every virtue I'm opposed,

Man's weary life I've often closed.

If to me you prefix two letters more,

I mean exactly what I meant before.

The other parts of the letter-press consist of "Anagrams," "Transpositions," &c.

When a clever patterer "works conundrums" —for the trade is in the hands of the pattering class—he selects what he may consider the best, and reads or repeats them in the street, sometimes with and sometimes without the answer. But he does not cripple the probable quickness


of his sale by a slavish adherence to what is in type. He puts the matter, as it were, personally. "What gentleman is it," man told me he would ask, "in this street, that has—

'Eyes like saucers, a back like a box, A nose like a pen-knife, and a voice like a fox?'

You can learn for a penny. Or sometimes I'll go on with the patter, thus," he continued, "What lady is it that we have all seen, and who can say truly—

'I am brighter than day, I am swifter than light, And stronger than all the momentum of might?'

More than once people have sung out 'the Queen,' for they seem to think that the momentum of might couldn't fit any else. It's 'thought' as is the answer, but it wouldn't do to let people think it's anything of the sort. It must seem to fit If I see a tailor's name on a door, as soon as I've passed the corner of the street, and sometimes in the same street, I've asked—

'Why is Mr. So-and-so, the busy tailor of this (or the next street) never at home?'

'Because he's always cutting out.' I have the same questions for other tradesmen, and for gentlemen and ladies in this neighbourhood, and no gammon. All for a penny. Nuts to Crack, a penny. A pair of Nutcrackers to crack 'em, only penny."

Sometimes this man, who perhaps is the smartest in the trade, will take a bolder flight still, and when he knows the residence of any professional or public man, he will, if the allusion be complimentary, announce his name, or —if there be any satire—indicate by a motion of the head, or a gesture of the hand, the direction of his residence. My ingenuous, and certainly ingenious, informant obliged me with a few instances:—"In Whitechapel parish I've said—it ain't in the print, it was only in the patter—'Why won't the Reverend Mr. Champneys lay up treasures on earth?'—'Because he'd rather lay up treasures in heaven.' That's the reverend gentleman not far from this spot; but in this sheet—with nearly engravings by the artists, only a penny—I have other questions for other parsons, not so easy answered; nuts as is hard to crack. 'Why is the Reverend Mr. Popjoy,' or the Honourable Lawyer Bully, or Judge Wiggem,—and then I just jerks my thumb, sir, if it's where I know or think such people live —'Why is the Reverend Mr. Popjoy (or the others) like balloons, in the air to the east, and the 'tother in the air to the west, in this parish of St. George's, Hanover-square?' There's no such question, and as it's a sort of a 'cock,' of course there's no answer. I don't know . But a gentleman's servant once sung out: ''cause he's uppish.' And a man in a leather apron once said: 'He's a raising the wind,' which was nonsense. But I like that sort of interruption, and have said—'You'll not find answer in the Nutcrackers,' only a penny—and, Lord knows, I told the truth when I said so, and it helps the sale. No fear of any 's finding out all what's in the sheet before I'm out of the 'drag.' Not a bit. And you must admit that any way it's a cheap pennorth." That it is a cheap harmless pennyworth is undeniable.

The street-sale of conundrums is carried on most extensively during a week or before Christmas; and on summer evenings, when the day's work is, or ought to be, over even among the operatives of the slop employers. As the conundrum patterer requires an audience, he works the quieter streets, preferring such as have no horse-thoroughfare—as in some of the approaches from the direction of to . The trade is irregularly pursued, none following it all the year; and from the best information I could acquire, it appears that men may be computed as working conundrums for months throughout the , and clearing weekly, per individual. The cost of the "Nuts to Crack" (when new) is a doz. to the seller; but old "Nuts" often answer the purpose of the street-seller, and may be had for about half the price; the cost of the "Nutcrackers" to It may be calculated, then, that to realize the , must be taken. This shows the street expenditure in "Nuts to Crack" and "Nut-crackers" to be yearly.

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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