London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles


Clean Your Honour's Shoes.

Clean Your Honour's Shoes.




In of the many courts on the north side of , might be seen, somewhere about the year , . would think that he deemed himself dedicated to his profession by Nature, for he was a Negro. At the earliest dawn he crept forth from his neighbouring lodging, and planted his tripod on the quiet pavement, where he patiently stood till noon was past, He was a short, large-headed, son of Africa, subject, as it would appear, to considerable variations of spirits, alternating between depression and excitement, as the gains of the day presented to him the chance of having a few pence to recreate himself beyond what he should carry home to his wife and children. For he had a wife and children, this last representative of a falling trade; and or little woolly-headed nestled around him when he was idle, or assisted in taking off the roughest of the dirt when he had more than client. He watched, with a melancholy eye, the gradual improvement of the streets; for during some or years he had beheld all the world combining to ruin him. He saw the foot-pavements widening; the large flag-stones carefully laid down; the loose and broken piece, which discharged a slushy shower on the unwary foot, instantly removed: he saw the kennels. diligently cleansed, and the drains widened: he saw experiment upon experiment made in the repair of the carriage-way, and the holes, which were to him as the

old familiar faces

which he loved, filled up with a haste that appeared quite unnecessary, if not insulting. solitary country shopkeeper, who had come to London once a year during a long life, clung to our sable friend; for he was the only of the fraternity that he could find remaining, in his walk from to . The summer's morning when that good man planted his foot on the -legged stool, and desired him carefully to turn back his brown gaiters, and asked


him how trade went with him, and shook his head when he learned that it was very bad, and they both agreed that new-fangled ways were the ruin of the country--that was a joyful occasion to him, for he felt that he was not quite deserted. He did not continue long to struggle with the capricious world.

One morn we miss'd him on th' accustom'd stand.

He retired into the workhouse; and his boys, having a keener eye than their father to the wants of the community, took up the trade which he most hated, and applied themselves to the diligent removal of the mud in an earlier stage of its accumulation--they swept crossings, instead of cleaning shoes.

The last of the Shoe-blacks belongs to history. He was of the living monuments of London; he was a link between or generations. The stand which he in Bolt Court (in the wonderful resemblance of external appearance between all these courts, we cannot be sure that it was Court) had been handed down from successor to another, with as absolute a line of customers as Child's Banking-house. He belonged to a trade which has its literary memorials. In , the polite Chesterfield, and the witty Walpole, felt it no degradation to the work over which they presided that it should be jocose about his fraternity, and hold that his profession was more dignified than that of the author:

Far be it from me, or any of my brother authors, to intend lowering the dignity of the gentlemen trading in black ball, by naming them with ourselves: we are extremely sensible of the great distance there is between us: and it is with envy that we look up to the occupation of shoe-cleaning, while we lament the severity of our fortune, in being sentenced to the drudgery of a less respectable employment. But while we are unhappily excluded from the stool and brush, it is surely a very hard case that the contempt of the world should pursue us, only because we are unfortunate.


Gay makes

the black youth

--his mythological descent from the goddess of mud, and his importance in a muddy city--the subject of the longest episode in his amusing Trivia. The shoe-boy's mother thus addresses him:

Go thrive: at some frequented corner stand;

This brush I give thee, grasp it in thy hand;

Temper the foot within this vase of oil,

And let the little tripod aid thy toil;

On this methinks I see the walking crew,

At thy request, support the miry shoe;

The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd,

And in thy pocket gingling halfpence sound.

The goddess plunges swift beneath the flood,

And dashes all around her showers of mud:

The youth straight chose his post; the labour ply'd

Where branching streets from Charing Cross divide;

His treble voice resounds along the Mews,

And Whitehall echoes- Clean your Honour's shoes!

The cry is no more heard. The pavements of are more evenly laid than the ancient marble courts of , where Wolsey held his state, and Henry revelled; and they are far cleaner, even in the most inauspicious weather,


than the old floor beneath the rushes. Broad as the footways are--as the broadest of the entire original streets--the mightiest of paving stones is not large enough for the comforts of the walker; and a pavement without a joint is sought for in the new concrete of asphaltum. Where the streets which run off from the great thoroughfares are narrow, the is widened at the expense of the carriage-road; and cart only can pass at a time, so that we walk fearless of wheels. If we would cross a road, there is a public servant, ever assiduous, because the measure of his usefulness is that of his reward, who removes every particle of dirt from before our steps. No filth encumbers the kennels; no spout discharges the shower in a torrent from the house-top. We pass quietly onwards from to the without being jostled off the curb-stone, though we have no protecting posts to sustain us; and we perceive why the last of the shoe-blacks vanished from our view about the time when we noticed his active brothers at every corner of Paris--a city then somewhat more filthy than the London of the days of Anne.

He who would see London well must be a pedestrian. Gay, who has left us the most exact as well as the most lively picture of the external London of a years ago, is enthusiastic in his preference for walking:

Let others in the jolting coach confide,

Or in the leaky boat the Thames divide,

Or, box'd within the chair, contemn the street,

And trust their safety to another's feet:

Still let me walk.

But what a walk has he described! He sets out, as what sensible man would not, with his feet protected with

firm, well-hammer'd soles;

but if the shoe be too big,

Each stone will wrench th' unwary step aside.

This, we see, is a London without ,. The middle of a paved street was generally occupied with the channel; and the sides of the carriage-way were full of absolute holes, where the ricketty coach was often stuck as in a quagmire. Some of the leading streets, even to the time of George II., were almost as impassable as the avenues of a new American town. The only road to the Houses of Parliament before was through and ,

which were in so miserable a state, that fagots were thrown into the ruts on the days on which the King went to Parliament, to render the passage of the state-coach more easy.

[n.19.1]  The present Saint Margaret's was formed out of a thoroughfare known as Saint Margaret's , which was so narrow that

pales were obliged to be placed,


feet high, between the foot-path and coach-road, to preserve the passengers from injury, and from being covered with the mud which was splashed on all sides in abundance.

[n.19.2]  The pales here preserved the passengers more effectually than the posts of other thoroughfares. These posts, in the principal avenues, constituted the only distinction between the foot-way and carriage-way; for the space within the posts was as uneven as the space without. This inner space was sometimes so narrow that only person could pass at a time; and hence those contests for the wall that filled the streets with the vociferations of anger, and the din of assaulting sticks, and sometimes the clash of


naked steel. Dr. Johnson describes how those quarrels were common when he came to London; and. how at length things were better ordered. But the change must in great part be imputed to the gradual improvement of the streets. In Gay's time there was no safety but within the posts.

Though expedition bids, yet never stray

Where no ranged posts defend the rugged way;

Here laden carts with thundering waggons meet,

Wheels clash with wheels, and bar the narrow street.

In wet and gusty weather the unhappy walker heard the crazy signs swinging over his head, as Gulliver describes the of Brentford. The spouts of every house were streaming at his feet, or drenching his laced hat and his powdered wig with unpitying torrents. At every step some bulk or shop-projection narrowed the narrow road, and drove him against the coach-wheels. The chairmen, if there was room to pass, occupied all the space between the wall and the posts. The

hooded maid

came sometimes gingerly along, with pattens and umbrella (then exclusively used by women), and of courtesy he must the wall. The small-coal man, and the sweep, and the barber, the wall, in assertion of their clothes-soiling prerogative; and the bully thrust him, or was himself thrust,

to the muddy kennel's side.

The great rule for the pedestrian was,--

Ever be watchful to maintain the wall.

The dignity of the wall, and its inconveniences, were as old as the time of James and Charles. Donne, in his Satire, describes the difficulties of who took the wall:--

Now we are in the street; he first of all,

Improvidently proud, creeps to the wall,

And so, imprisoned and hemmed in by me,

Sells for a little state his liberty.

The streets, in the good old times, often presented obstructions to the pedestrian which appear to us like the wonders of some unknown region. In the more recent unhappy days of public executions the wayfarer passed up with an eye averted from the ; for there, as Monday morning came, duly hung some , and it may be , unhappy victims of a merciless code, judicially murdered according to our better notions. Then was the. rush to see the horrid sight, and the dense crowd pouring away from it; and the pickpocket active under the gallows; and the business of life interrupted for a quarter of an hour, with little emotion even amongst the steady walkers who heeded not the spectacle: it was a thing of course. And so was the pillory in earlier times. Gay says nothing of--the feelings of the passer-on; he had only to take care of his clothes:

Where, elevated o'er the gaping crowd,

Clasp'd in the board the perjur'd head is bow'd,

Betimes retreat; here, thick as hailstones pour,

Turnips and half-hatch'd eggs, a mingled shower,

Among the rabble rain: some random throw

May with the trickling yolk thy cheek o'erflow.

People used to talk of these things as coolly as Garrard wrote to Lord Strafford of them:

No mercy showed to Prynne; he stood in the pillory, and lost his


ear in a pillory in the palace at


in full term; his other in


, where, while he stood, his volumes were burnt under his nose, which had almost suffocated him.

[n.21.1]  The cruelty is not mitigated by the subsequent account of Garrard, that Mr. Prynne

hath got his cars sewed on, that they grow again, as before, to his head.

[n.21.2]  If the mob round the pillory was safely passed, there was another mob often to be encountered. Rushing along , or Covent Garden, or by the Maypole in , came the foot-ball players. It is scarcely conceivable, when London had settled into civilization, little more than a century ago,--when we had our famed Augustan age of Addisons and Popes,--when laced coats, and flowing wigs, and silver buckles, ventured into the streets, and the beau prided himself on

The nice conduct of a clouded cane,--

that the great thoroughfares through which men now move,

intent on high designs,

should be a field for foot-ball:

The prentice quits his shop to join the crew;

Increasing crowds the flying game pursue.


This is no poetical fiction. It was the same immediately after the Restoration.

D'Avenant's Frenchman thus complains of the streets of London:

I would now make a safe retreat, but that methinks I am stopped by



Foot-Ball in the Strand.

your heroic games, called foot-ball; which I conceive (under your favour) not very conveniently civil in the streets; especially in such irregular and narrow roads

as Crooked-lane. Yet it argues your courage, much like your military pastime of throwing at cocks. But your mettle would be more magnified (since you have long allowed those


valiant exercises in the streets) to draw your archers from Finsbury, and, during high market, let them shoot at butts in




It was the same in the days of Elizabeth. To this game went the sturdy apprentices, with all the train of idlers in a motley population; and when their blood was up, as it generally was in this exercise, which Stubbes calls

a bloody and murthering practice, rather than a fellowly sport or pastime,

they had little heed to the passengers in the streets, whether there was passing by

a velvet justice with a long

Great train of blue-coats, twelve or fourteen strong;

[n.22.2]  or a gentle lady on her palfrey, wearing her

visor made of velvet.

[n.22.3]  The courtier, described in Hall, had an awful chance to save his


in such an encounter; when with his

bonnet vail'd,

according to the


of his time,

Travelling along in London way

he has to recover his

auburn locks

from the


that crosses the thoroughfare.

The days we are noticing were not those of pedestrians. The

red-heel'd shoes

of the time of Anne were as little suited for walking, as the


of Elizabeth,

whereof some be of white leather, some of black, and some of red; some of black velvet, some of white, some of red, some of green, rayed, carved, cut, and stitched all over with silk, and laid on with gold, silver, and such like.

So Stubbes describes the

corked shoes

of his day; and he adds, what seems very apparent,

to go abroad in them as they are now used altogether, is rather a let or hindrance to a man than otherwise.

[n.22.4]  These fine shoes belonged to the transition state between the horse and the coach; when men were becoming


in the use of the new vehicles, which we have seen the Water-Poet denounced; and the highways of London were not quite suited to the walker. Shoes such as those are ridiculed by Stubbes as

uneasy to go in;

and he adds,

they exaggerate a mountain of mire, and gather a heap of clay and baggage together.

In asking our readers to look back to the period when London was without no sound of wheels was heard but that of the , labouring through the rutty ways, with its load of fire-wood, or beer, or perhaps the king's pots and pans travelling from to Greenwich-we ask them to exercise a considerable power of imagination. Yet London had no coaches till late in the reign of Elizabeth; and they can scarcely be said to have come into general use till the accession of James. Those who were called by business or pleasure to travel long distances in London, which could not be easily reached by water-conveyance, rode on horses. For several centuries the rich citizens and the courtiers were equestrians. All the records of early pageantry tell us of the magnificence of horsemen. Froissart saw the coronation of Henry IV., and he thus describes the progress of the triumphant Bolingbroke through the city--


after dinner the duke departed from the Tower to


, and rode all the way bareheaded; and about his neck the livery of France. He was accompanied with the prince his son, and




earls, and eighteen barons, and in all, knights and squires,

nine hundred

horse. Then the king had on a short coat of cloth of gold, after the manner of Almayne, and he was mounted on a white courser, and the garter on his left leg. Thus the duke rode through London with a great number of lords, every lord's servant in their master's livery; all the burgesses and Lombard merchants in London, and every craft with their livery and device. Thus he was conveyed to


. He was in number

six thousand horse


[n.23.1]  The old English chroniclers revel in these descriptions. They paint for us, in the most vivid colours, the entry into London of the conqueror of Agincourt; they are most circumstantial in their relations of the welcome of his unhappy son, after the boy had been crowned at Paris, with the king riding amidst flowing conduits, and artificial trees and flowers, and virgins making

heavenly melody,

and bishops

in pontificalibus

; and having made his oblations at the cathedral,

he took again his steed at the west door of Paul's, and so rode forth to

From an illumination, Harl. MSS., 2278.-Temp. Henry VI.



[n.23.2]  By the ancient

order of crowning the kings and queens of England,

it is prescribed that

the day before the coronation, the king should come from the

Tower of London

to his palace at


, through the midst of the city, mounted on a horse, handsomely habited, and bare-headed, in the sight of all the people.

[n.23.3]  The citizens were familiar with these splendid equestrian processions, from the earliest times to the era of coaches; and they hung their wooden houses with gay tapestry, and their wives and daughters sate in their most costly dresses in the balconies, and shouts rent the air, and they forgot for a short time that there was little security for life or property against the despot of the hour. They played at these pageants, as they still play, upon a smaller scale themselves; and the Lord Mayor's horse and henchmen were seen on all solemn occasions of


marching-watches and Bartholomew fairs. The city-dignitaries seldom ride now; although each new sheriff has a horse-block presented to him at his inauguration, that he may climb into the saddle as beseems his gravity. The courtiers kept to their riding processions, down almost to the days of the great civil war; perhaps as a sort of faint shadow of the chivalry that was gone. Garrard tells us, in , how the Duke of Northumberland rode to his installation as a knight of the garter at Windsor, with earls, and marquises, and almost all the young nobility, and many barons, and a competent number of the gentry, near a horse in all.[n.24.1]  The era of coaches and chairs was then arrived; but the Duke of Northumberland did not hold that they belonged to knighthood. years earlier coaches were shunned as


Aubrey, in his short memoir of Sir Philip Sidney, describes the feeling about coaches in the days of Elizabeth:

I have heard Dr. Pell say that he has been told by ancient gentlemen of those days of Sir Philip, so famous for men-at-arms, that 'twas then held as great a disgrace for a young gentleman to be seen riding in the street in a coach, as it would now for such a


to be seen in the streets in a petticoat and waist-coat; so much is the fashion of the times now altered.

[n.24.2]  Our friend the Water-Poet looks back upon that to him golden age with a similar feeling.

Nor was the use of saddle-horses confined to men in the early days. Chaucer thus describes his

Wife of Bath :


Upon an ambler easily she sat,

Ywimpled well, and on her head a hat,

As broad as is a buckler or a targe,

A foot-mantle about her hippos large,

And on her feet a pair of spurres sharp.

When Katharine of Spain came over in to marry Prince Arthur, a horse was provided for her conveyance from, the Tower to Saint Paul's, upon which she was to ride

with the


behind a lord to be named by the king ;

but it was also ordered that





suit be ordained for such ladies attending upon the said princess as shall follow next unto the said pillion.

[n.24.3]  The great ladies long after this rode on horseback on ordinary occasions. Elizabeth commissioned Sir Thomas Gresham to purchase a horse at Antwerp; and the merchant-prince writes to Cecil in :--

the Queen's Majesty's Turkey horse doth begin to mend in his feet and body; which doubtless is


of the readiest horses that is in all Christendom, and runs the best.

[n.24.4]  Of poor Mary of Scotland, the Earl of Shrewsbury, after conveying her to Buxton, writes to Cecil in :--

She had a hard beginning of her journey; for when she should have taken her horse, he started aside, and therewith she fell, and hurt her back, which she still complains of, notwithstanding she applies the bath once or twice a day.

[n.24.5]  The


appears to have formed a connecting link between the saddle and the coach. When Margaret, daughter of Henry VII., set forward for Scotland, she rode on a

fair palfrey;

but after her was

conveyed by




very rich litter, borne by


fair coursers very nobly drest, in the which litter the said queen was borne on the entering of the good towns, or otherwise to her good pleasure.

[n.24.6]  The litter was, as we here see, a vehicle of ceremony. Hall,


the great chronicler of sights, thus describes the conveyance of Anne Bullen to her coronation :--

Then came the queen in a litter of white cloth of gold, not covered nor bailed, which was led by


palfreys clad in white damask down to the ground, head and all, led by her footmen. . .. So she with all her company and the mayor rode forth to

Temple Bar

, which was newly painted and repaired, where stood also divers singing men and children, till she came to


Hall, which was richly hanged with cloth of arras, and new glazed. And in the middest of the hall she was taken out of her litter.

Up to the time of Charles I. the horse litter continued to be used on state occasions; but it gradually became exclusively employed by the rich and aged, at a period when coaches were still terribly rough vehicles. Evelyn, in his Diary, states that he travelled in with his sick father, in , from Bath to Wotton; and this, Markland says, is the latest mention of the conveyance which he can find. There is a later mention of it, in a bitter attack upon the old republicans, in :

Can we forget that horrid accident when Major-General Skippon came in a horse-litter, wounded, to London? When he passed by the brewhouse near

St. John's

Street, a devilish mastiff flew, as at a bear, at


of his horses, and held him so fast that the horse grew mad as a mad dog; the soldiers so amazed that none had the wit to shoot the mastiff; but the horse-litter, borne between


horses, tossed the major-general like a dog in a blanket .

[n.25.1]  Nothing can be more exact than. this description of a litter.

Of the elder vehicles that preceded coaches, whether rejoicing in the name of chare, car, chariot, caroch, or whirlicote, we have little here to say. Their dignity was not much elevated above that of the waggon; and they were scarcely calculated to move about the streets of London, which are described in a Paving Act of as

very foul, and full. of pits and sloughs, very perilous and noyous, as well for the king's subjects on horseback as on foot, and with carriages.

There appears little doubt that the coach appeared about ; although the question was subsequently raised

whether the devil brought tobacco into England in a coach, or else brought a coach in a fog or mist of tobacco.

[n.25.2]  Stow thus describes the introduction of this novelty, which was to change the face of English society:

In the year


, Guilliam Boonen, a Dutchman, became the queen's coachman; and was the


that brought the use of coaches into England. After a while, divers great ladies, with as great jealousy of the queen's displeasure, made them coaches, and rid up and down the countries in them, to the great admiration of all the beholders; but then by little and little they grew usual among the nobility and others of sort, and within


years became a great trade of coach-making.

In little more than years a Bill was brought into Parliament

to restrain the excessive use of coaches.

of the most signal examples we can find of the growing importance of the middle classes is exhibited in their rapid appropriation to their own use of the new luxury which the highest in the land ventured at to indulge in, timidly, and with


of the queen's displeasure. It was in vain that Parliament


legislated against their

excessive use;

it was equally in vain that the citizens and citizens' wives who aspired to ride in them, were ridiculed by the wits and hooted by the mob. As in the diffusion of every other convenience or luxury introduced by the rich, the distinction of riding in a coach soon ceased to be a distinction. The proud Duke of Buckingham seeing that coaches with horses were used by all, and that the nobility had only the exclusive honour of horses, set up a coach with horses; and then

the stout Earl of Northumberland

established with horses.[n.26.1]  Massinger, in

The City Madam,

exhibits Anne Frugal demanding of her courtly admirer-

My caroch

Drawn by six Flanders mares, my coachman, groom,

Postillion, and footmen.

The high-born and the wealthy soon found that those who had been long accustomed to trudge through the miry streets, or on rare occasions to bestride an ambling nag, would make a ready way with money to appropriate the new luxury to themselves. Coaches soon came to be hired. They were to be found in the suburban districts and in inns within the town. Taylor (he writes in ) says,

I have heard of a gentlewoman who sent her man to Smithfield from

Charing Cross

, to hire a coach to carry her to


; another did the like from


, to be carried to see a play at the Blackfriars.

He imputes this anxiety for the accommodation of a coach to the pride of the good people, and he was probably right. He gives us a ludicrous example of the extent of this passion in the case of


leash of oyster-wives,


hired a coach to carry them to the green-goose fair at Stratford-the-Bow; and as they were hurried betwixt


and Mile-end, they were so be-madam'd, be-mistress'd, and ladyfied by the beggars, that the foolish women began to swell with a proud supposition or imaginary greatness, and gave all their money to the mendicanting canters.

[n.26.2]  The rich visitors who came to London from the country were great employers of coaches; and Taylor tells us that the

Proclamation concerning the retiring of the gentry out of the city into their countries


cleared the streets of these way-stopping whirligigs; for a man now might walk without bidding

Stand up, ho

! by a fellow that can scarcely either go or stand himself.


It is easy to conceive that in those days of ill-paved and narrow streets the coaches must have been a great impediment to the goings--on of London business. Our Water-Poet is alive to all these inconveniences:

Butchers cannot pass with their cattle for them; market folks, which bring provision of victuals to the city, are stopped, stayed, and hindered; carts or wains, with their necessary wares, are debarred and letted; the milk-maid's ware is often spilt in the dirt;

and then he describes how the proud mistresses, sitting in their


(Evelyn tells us this was the Londoner's name for a coach long after), ride grinning and deriding at the people

crowded and shrouded up against stalls and shops.

D'Avenant, some or years later, notices the popular feeling:

Master Londoner, be not so hot against coaches.

But the coaches flourished, in spite of the populace. The carman might drive up against them, and the coachman,



nobles sitting together,

might be compelled to


stop, and give place to as many barrels of beer.

[n.27.1]  They flourished, too, in spite of the roads.

It is a most uneasy kind of passage in coaches on the paved streets of London, wherein men and women are so tost, tumbled, jumbled, rumbled, and crossing of kennels, dunghills, and uneven



[n.27.2]  It is affirmed in a pamphlet quoted by Markland, entitled

Coach and Sedan,

that in the coaches

in London, the suburbs, and within


miles compass without, are reckoned to the number of

six thousand

and odd.

It was years before the date of this calculation that the hackney-coach was established in London. Garrard thus describes it in a letter to Strafford:

I cannot omit to mention any new thing that comes up amongst us though never so trivial: here is


Captain Baily, he hath been a sea captain, but now lives on the land, about this city, where he tries experiments. He hath erected, according to his ability, some


hackney-coaches, put his men in livery, and appointed them to stand at the May-pole in

the Strand

, giving them instructions at what rates to carry men into several parts of the town, where all day they may be had. Other hackney-men seeing this way, they flocked to the same place, and perform their journeys at the same rate. So that sometimes there is


of them together, which disperse up and down, that they and others are to be had everywhere, as watermen are to be had by the water-side. Everybody is much pleased with it. For, whereas before coaches could not be had but at great rates, now a man may have


much cheaper




Writing months after, the same retailer of news says,

here is a proclamation coming forth about the reformation of Hackney-coaches, and ordering of other coaches about London.

One thousand nine hundred

was the number of

hackney-coaches of London, base lean jades, unworthy to be seen in so brave a city, or to stand about a king's court.

In he writes,

Here is a proclamation coming forth, to prohibit all hackney-coaches to pass up and down in London streets; out of town they may go at pleasure as heretofore.

It is perfectly clear that the King might proclaim, and that his subjects would not hearken to him, as long as they found hackney-coaches essential to their business or pleasure. We have an amusing example of the inefficiency of such meddling, years after. Pepys, in his Diary of , writes,

Notwithstanding this is the


day of the King's proclamation against hackney-coaches coming into the streets to stand to be hired, yet I got


to carry me home.

We think we hear his cunning chuckle as he hires the coach, and laughs at the law-makers.

When Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I., returned from his faithless wooing of the daughter of Philip IV., he brought with him sedan-chairs of curious workmanship. Such a mode of conveyance was unknown to the English. They had seen the fair and the feeble carried in a box, supported by a horse before and a horse behind; and they felt, therefore, something like what we have felt at the sight of an election rabble harnessed to the wheels of a popular candidate-they felt that men were degraded, when the favourite of James and Charles, Buckingham, moved into the streets of London, borne in his sedan on men's shoulders.

Baby Charles

had presented


with of these luxuries of foreign growth. Wilson says,

When Buckingham came to be carried in a chair upon men's shoulders, the clamour and noise of it was so extravagant, that the people would rail on him in the streets, loathing that men should be brought to as servile a condition as horses.

The very year of the expedition of Charles and Buckingham to Spain, , was Massinger's produced. Charles and the favourite returned to London early in October; the play was acted on the . It contains these lines:

'Tis a strong-limb'd knave:

My father bought him for my sister's litter.-

O pride of women! Coaches are too common;

They surfeit in the happiness of peace,

And ladies think they keep not state enough

If, for their pomp and ease, they are not borne

In triumph. on men's shoulders.

Gilchrist and Gifford think that this was an allusion to Buckingham. If so, and there can be little doubt of the matter, the vain favourite must have paraded with his new luxury,

degrading Englishmen into slaves and beasts of burden,

(as a writer of that day expresses himself,) upon the instant of his return.

But the popular clamour was as ineffectual against the chairs as against the coaches. In , Garrard, writing to Lord Strafford, says,

Here is also another project for carrying people up and down in close chairs, for the sole doing whereof Sir Sander Duncombe, a traveller, now a pensioner, hath obtained a patent from the king, and hath




making ready for use.

The coachmen and the chairmen soon got up a pretty quarrel; and in we find published the amusing tract, entitled

Coach and Sedan, pleasantly disputing for place and precedence.

The title exhibits to us the form of the sedan, with its bearers for custom-and we have a description of the conveyance and its men, which, with the engraving which accompanies it, clearly enough shows that the chairmen no longer bore the


on their shoulders, palanquin-fashion,


but that they quickly adopted the mode of carrying which has lasted till our own day, however the form of the thing carried has changed.

We have now the coach and the chair fairly launched into the streets of London, of which they held joint possession for more than a century and a half. We have no doubt that the chair was a most flourishing invention. The state of the pavement till the middle of the last century must have rendered carriage conveyance anything rather than safe and

pleasant. Dulaure tells us that before the time of Louis XIV. the streets of Paris were so narrow, particularly in the heart of the town, that carriages could not penetrate into them.[n.29.1]  D'Avenant's picture of London, before the fire, is not much more satisfactory:

Sure your ancestors contrived your narrow streets in the days of wheel-barrows, before those greater engines, carts, were invented. Is your climate so hot that as you walk you need umbrellas of tiles to intercept the sun? or are your shambles so empty that you are afraid to take in fresh air, lest it should sharpen your stomachs? Oh, the goodly landskip of

Old Fish Street

! which, had it not had the ill luck to be crooked, was narrow enough to have been your founder's perspective: and where the garrets (perhaps not for want of architecture, but through abundance of amity) are so made, that opposite neighbours may shake hands without stirring from home.

The chair had a better chance than the coach in such a state of affairs. In the pictures of coaches of the time of Elizabeth, the driver sits on a bar, or narrow chair, very low behind the horses. In those of Charles I. he sometimes drives in this way, and sometimes rides as a postillion.

But the hackney-coachman after the Restoration is a personage with a short whip and spurs; he has been compelled to mount of his horses, that he may more effectually manage his progress through the narrow streets. His coach, too, is a small affair. D'Avenant describes the coaches as

uneasily hung, and so


, that I took them for sedans on wheels.

As the streets were widened, after the fire, the coachman was restored to the dignity of a seat on the carriage; for, in the times of William III. and Anne, we invariably find him sitting on a box. This was a thing for use and not for finery. Here, or in a leather pouch appended to it, the careful man carried a hammer, pincers, nails, ropes, and other appliances in case of need; and the was devised to conceal these necessary but unsightly remedies for broken wheels and shivered panels. The skill of this worthy artist in the way of reparation would not rust for want of use. Gay has left us vivid pictures of the common accidents of the days of Anne. The carman was the terror of coaches from the hour of their use; and whether he


was the regular city carman, or bore the honour of the dustman, brewer's man, or coal-heaver, he was ever the same vociferous and reckless enemy of the more aristocratic coachman.

I've seen a beau, in some ill-fated hour,

When o'er the stones chok'd kennels swell the shower,

In gilded chariot loll; he with disdain

Views spatter'd passengers all drench'd in rain.

With mud fill'd high, the rumbling cart draws near ;--

Now rule thy prancing steeds, lac'd charioteer:

The dustman lashes on with spiteful rage,

His ponderous spokes thy painted wheel engage;

Crush'd is thy pride, down falls the shrieking beau,

The slabby pavement crystal fragments strew;

Black floods of mire th' embroider'd coat disgrace,

And mud enwraps the honours of his face.

The dangers of opened vaults, and of mighty holes in the paving, fenced round with no protecting rail, and illuminated only by a glimmering rushlight in a dark street, seem to belong altogether to some barbaric region which never could have been London:--

Where a dim gleam the paly lantern throws

O'er the mid pavement, heapy rubbish grows,

Or arched vaults their gaping jaws extend,

Or the dark caves to common-shores descend;

Oft by the winds extinct the signal lies,

Or smother'd in the glimmering socket dies

Ere night has half roll'd round her ebon throne;

In the wide gulf the shatter'd coach o'erthrown

Sinks with the snorting steeds; the reins are broke,

And from the crackling axle flies the spoke.

But long after Gay's time the carmen and the pavement made havoc with coaches. If we open Hogarth, the great painter of manners shows us the vehicular dangers of his age. Bonfires in the streets on rejoicing nights, with the


that went miles an hour, overturned into the flames;[n.30.1]  the lawyers getting out of a hackney-coach that has come in collision with a carman, while the brewer's man rides upon his shaft in somniferous majesty;[n.30.2]  the dustman's bell, the little boy's drum, the knife-grinder's wheel, all in the middle of the street, to the terror of horses [n.30.3] : these representations exhibit the perils that assailed the man who ventured into a coach. The chair was no doubt safer, but it had its inconveniences. Swift describes the unhappy condition of a fop during a

City shower:


Box'd in a chair the beau impatient sits,

While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits;

And ever and anon with frightful din

The leather sounds;--he trembles from within!

The chairmen were very absolute fellows. They crowded round the tavern-doors, waiting for shilling customers; but they did not hesitate to set down their box when a convenient occasion offered for the recreation of a foaming mug.[n.30.4]  They were for the most part sturdy Milesians, revelling, if they belonged to the aristocracy, in all the finery of embroidered coats and epaulettes, and cocked hats and feathers. If they were hackney-chairmen they asserted their power of the strong arm, and were often daring enough as a body to influence the fate of


and Middlesex elections, in the terror which they produced with fist and bludgeon. But they are gone. No Belinda now may be proud of

Two pages and a chair.

They glide not amongst the chariot-wheels at levee or drawing-room. The clubs want them not. They have retired to Bath and Oxford. We believe there is chair still lingering about May Fair; but the chairmen must be starving. The Society of Antiquaries ought to buy the relic.

Walpole has somewhere a complaint of the increase of London, that it would be soon impossible for the chairmen to perform their functions. This sounds very like the notion that the noble and the rich could ride in nothing but chairs. These were the days when the private chair had its

crimson velvet cushions and damask curtains,

such as Jonathan Wild recovered for the Duchess of Marlborough, when of his rogues, in the disguise of chairmen, carried away her chair from Chapel, while the

--true men

were drinking. The town has increased beyond Walpole's calculation, and that is, in some measure, the reason why the chairs are . The town did not stop in its increase to consider the chairs. But there is another reason. The rich and the high-born have wisely learned to be less exclusive than of old; and as they must now-a-days wear coats of the same fashion as humbler men, so must they ride in their own carriages, with no other perceptible difference between the carriage of the duke and his tailor than that of the blazonry. Pepys tells us of

my Lady Peterborough being in her


with the glass up, and seeing a lady pass by in a coach whom she would salute, the glass was so clear that she thought it had been open, and so ran her head through the glass.

[n.31.1]  This hints of the days when Ladies were learning to ride in glass-coaches, having just passed through the transition state of open coaches, and curtained coaches, and coaches with talc windows. How ashamed the wife of John Gilpin would have been not to have known better! And so when everybody rode in coaches the lords and ladies set up their chairs. The times are altered. We have seen a peer in an omnibus.

It is very difficult to conceive a London without an omnibus or a cabriolet. Yet who amongst us does not remember the hour when they appeared? For some years, those who rode in hired carriages had seen the hackney-coach passing through all its phases of dirt and discomfort; the springs growing weaker, the

iron ladder

by which we ascended into its rickety capaciousness more steep and more fragile, the straw filthier, the cushions more redolent of dismal smells, the glasses less air-tight. But it is of little consequence. Nobody rides in them. The gentlemen at the

office for granting licences for carriages plying for hire in the metropolis

tell us that licences are still granted to hackney-coaches. Alas, how are the horses fed? Are the drivers living men who eat beef and drink beer? We doubt if those huge capes ever descend to receive a fare. Are they not spectre-coaches-coachmen still doomed to sleep upon their boxes, as the wild huntsman was doomed to a demon chase--for propitiation? The same authority tells us that there are cabriolets to whom licences are granted. These we know are things of life. They rush about the streets as rapid as fire-flies. They lame few, they kill fewer. They sometimes overturn us:--but their serious damage is not much. We borrowed them from the French on a fine May morning in the year


. It is remarkable how slow we are in the adoption of a new thing; and how we hold to it when it is once adopted. In there were and cabriolets upon the hackney-stands of Paris--

Cabriolets de place,

[n.32.1] and we had not . Now, we have of them. Our English -horse hackney-carriages have run through every variety of form; and have at length settled down into as comfortable vehicles as men can ride in. But we rejected them when they were proffered to us a generation or ago. We have before us the copy of a drawing in the splendidly illustrated Pennant in the , in which we see , with heads still blackening upon spikes over the arch, and beneath it a carriage of which that below is an exact representation. There is also a print without a date, giving the same delineation of the same vehicle; and this tells us that it is

the carriage of the ingenious Mr. Moore.

Like many other


persons, Mr. Moore was before his age; and in another half-century his carriage, or something very like it, finds favour in our eyes as of

Patent Safety.

We have ridden in of the omnibuses that run from Paddington to the Bank with an elderly gentleman who told us that in his day there was only stage from that then suburban neighbourhood to the commercial centre, and that was never filled. There are now above omnibuses and short stages--for the most part omnibuses--in the Metropolitan District--that is, licensed to run within miles of the General Post Office. They carry some people daily, and receive annually in fares about -quarters of a million sterling. The omnibus was tried about , with horses and wheels; but we refused to accept it in any shape till we imported the fashion from Paris in .

And now then, patient reader, seeing that you have borne this introductory gossip about London locomotion, we are in a condition to

beguile your time, and feed your knowledge,

With viewing of the town.


[n.18.1] The World, No. 57.

[n.19.1] Smith's Westminster, p. 261,

[n.19.2] Id. p. 26.

[n.21.1] Strafford's Letters, vol. i.. p. 261,

[n.21.2] Id. p. 266.

[n.21.3] Trivia.

[n.22.1] Entertainment at Rutland House.

[n.22.2] Donne.

[n.22.3] Stubbes.

[n.22.4] Anatomy of Abuses.

[n.23.1] Lord Bemers' Froissart.

[n.23.2] Fabyan.

[n.23.3] Liber Regalis, quoted by Strutt in his Manners, vol. iii. p. 422.

[n.24.1] Strafford's Letters, vol. i., p. 427.

[n.24.2] Lives, p. 551.

[n.24.3] Harl. MS., quoted in Northumberland Household Book, p. 449.

[n.24.4] Burgon's Life of Gresham, vol. i. p. 300.

[n.24.5] Lodge's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 239,

[n.24.6] Leland's Collectanea, quoted in Markland's valuable paper on the early use of carriages, Archaeologia, vol. xx. p. 447.

[n.25.1] Last Speech of Thomas Pride. Harl. Miscellany.

[n.25.2] Taylor.

[n.26.1] See Wilson's Memoirs.

[n.26.2] World runs on Wheels, p. 239.

[n.27.1] D'Avenant.

[n.27.2] Taylor.

[n.27.3] Strafford's Letters, vol. i. p. 227.

[n.29.1] Histoire de Paris, tome ix., p. 482.

[n.30.1] Night.

[n.30.2] Second Stage of Cruelty.

[n.30.3] Enraged Musician.

[n.30.4] Hogarth's Beer Sheet.

[n.31.1] Diary, 1667.

[n.32.1] Dulaure.