THIS trade is curious, but far from extensive as regards street-sale. There is, moreover, contrary to what might be expected, a good deal of "duffing" about it. The "duffer" in English birds disguises them so that they shall look like foreigners; the duffer in what are unquestionably foreign birds disguises them that they may look foreign—more Indian than in the Indies.
The word "Duffer," I may mention, appears to be connected with the German , to want, to be needy, and so to mean literally a needy or indigent man, even as the word has the same origin—being derived from the German , and the Dutch —a beggar. The verb means also to dare, to be so bold as to do; hence, to , or , would signify to resort to any impudent trick.
The supply of parrots, paroquets, cockatoos, Java sparrows, or St. Helena birds, is not in the regular way of consignment from a merchant abroad to in London. The commanders and mates of merchant vessels bring over large quantities; and often enough the seamen are allowed to bring parrots or cockatoos in the homewardbound ship from the Indies or the African coast, or from other tropical countries, either to beguile the tedium of the voyage, for presents to their friends, or, as in some cases, for sale on their reaching an English port. More, I am assured, although statistics are hardly possible on such a subject, are brought to London, and perhaps by -, than to all the other ports of Great collectively. Even on board the vessels of the royal navy, the importation of parrots used to be allowed as a sort of boon to the seamen. I was told by an old naval officer that once, after a long detention on the west coast of Africa, his ship was ordered home, and, as an acknowledgment of the good behaviour of his men, he permitted them to bring parrots, cockatoos, or any foreign birds, home with them, not limiting the number, but of course under the inspection of the petty officers, that there might be no violation of the cleanliness which always distinguishes a vessel of war. Along the African coast, to the southward of Sierra Leone, the men were not allowed to land, both on account of the unhealthiness of the shores, and of the surf, which rendered landing highly dangerous, a danger, however, which the seamen would not have scrupled to brave, and recklessly enough, for any impulse of the minute. As if by instinct, however, the natives seemed to know what was wanted, for they came off from the shores in their light canoes, which danced like feathers on the surf, and brought boat-loads of birds; these the seamen bought of them, or possessed themselves of in the way of barter.
Before the ship took her final departure, however, she was reported as utterly uninhabitable below, from the incessant din and clamour: "We might as well have a pack of women aboard, sir," was the ungallant remark of of the petty officers to his commander. Orders were then given that the parrots, &c., should be "thinned," so that there might not be such an unceasing noise. This was accordingly done. How many were set at liberty and made for the shore—for the seamen in this instance did not kill them for their skins, as is not unfrequently the case—the commander did not know. He could but conjecture; and he conjectured that something like a were released; and even after that, and after the mortality which takes place among these birds in the course of a long voyage, a very great number were brought to Plymouth. Of these, again, a great number were sent or conveyed under the care of the sailors to London, when the ship was paid off. The same officer endeavoured on this voyage to bring home some very large pine-apples, which flavoured, and most deliciously, parts of the ship when she had been a long time at sea; but every of them rotted, and had to be thrown overboard. He fell into the error, Captain—— said, of having the finest fruit selected for the experiment; an error which the Bahama merchants had avoided, and consequently they succeeded where he failed. How the sailors fed the parrots, my informant could hardly guess, but they brought a number of very fine birds to England, some of them with well-cultivated powers of speech.
This, as I shall show, is of the ways by which the London supply of parrots, &c., is obtained; but the permission, as to the importation of these brightly-feathered birds, is, I understand, rarely allowed at present to the seamen in the royal navy. The far greater supply, indeed more than per cent. of the whole of the birds imported, is from the merchant-service. I have already stated, on the very best authority, the motives which induce merchant-seamen to bring over parrots and cockatoos. That to bring them over is an inducement to some to engage in an African voyage is shown by the following statement, which was made to me, in the course of a long inquiry, published in my letters in the , concerning the condition of the merchant-seamen.
When the seamen have settled themselves after landing in England, they perhaps find that there is no room in their boarding-houses for their parrots; these birds are not admitted into the Sailors' Home; the seamen's friends are stocked with the birds, and look upon another parrot as but another intruder, an unwelcome pensioner. There remains but course—to sell the birds, and they are generally sold to a highly respectable man, Mr. M. Samuel, of Upper ; and it is from him, though not always directly, that the shopkeepers and street-sellers derive their stockin- trade. There is also a further motive for the disposal of parrots, paroquets, and cockatoos to a merchant. The seafaring owner of those really magnificent birds, perhaps, squanders his money, perhaps he gets "skinned" (stripped of his clothes and money from being hocussed, or tempted to helpless drunkenness), or he chooses to sell them, and he or his boarding-house keeper takes the birds to Mr. Samuel, and sells them for what he can get; but I heard from very intelligent seamen whom I met with in the course of my inquiry, and by mere chance, that Mr. Samuel's price was fair and his money sure, considering everything, for there is usually a qualification to every praise. It is certainly surprising, under these circumstances, that such numbers of these birds should thus be disposed of.
Parrots are as gladly, or more gladly, got rid of, in any manner, in different regions in the continents of Asia and America, than with us are even rats from a granary. Dr. Stanley, after speaking of the beauty of a flight of parrots, says:—"The husbandman who sees them hastening through the air, with loud and impatient screams, looks upon them with dismay and detestation, knowing that the produce of his labour and industry is in jeopardy, when visited by such a voracious multitude of pilferers, who, like the locusts of Egypt, desolate whole tracts of country by their unsparing ravages." A contrast with their harmlessness, in a gilded cage in the houses of the wealthy, with us! The destructiveness of these birds, is then, reason why seamen can obtain them so readily and cheaply, for the natives take pleasure in catching them; while as to plentifulness, the tropical regions teem with bird, as with insect and reptile, life.
Of parrots, paroquets, and cockatoos, there are imported to London in the way I have described, and in about equal proportions. They are sold, wholesale, from to each.
There are now only men selling these brilliant birds regularly in the streets, and in the fair way of trade; but there are sometimes as many as so engaged. The price given by a hawker for a cockatoo, &c., is or , and they are retailed at from to , or more, "if it can be got." The purchasers are the wealthier classes who can afford to indulge their tastes. Of late years, however, I am told, a parrot or a cockatoo seems to be considered indispensable to an inn (not a gin-palace), and the innkeepers have been among the best customers of the street parrotsellers. In the neighbourhood of the docks, and indeed along the whole river side below Londonbridge, it is almost impossible for a street-seller to dispose of a parrot to an innkeeper, or indeed to any , as they are supplied by the seamen. A parrot which has been taught to talk is worth from to , according to its proficiency in speech. About of these birds are sold yearly by the
|street-hawkers, at an outlay to the public of from to|
Java sparrows, from the East Indies, and from the Islands of the Archipelago, are brought to London, but considerable quantities die during the voyage and in this country; for, though hardy enough, not more than in survives being "taken off the paddy seed." About , however, are sold annually, in London, at each, but a very small proportion by street-hawking, as the Java sparrows are chiefly in demand for the aviaries of the rich in town and country. In some years not above may be sold in the streets; in others, as many as .
In St. Helena birds, known also as wax-bills and red-backs, there is a trade to the same extent, both as regards number and price; but the streetsale is perhaps per cent. lower.
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|Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles|
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Trays, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Linen, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curtains
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Carpeting, Flannels, Stocking-Legs, &c., &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Bed-Ticking, Sacking, Fringe, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Glass and Crockery
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Miscellaneous Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Musical Instruments
Of the Music 'Duffers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Weapons
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Of the Street-Sellers of Other Miscellaneous Second-Hand Articles
Of Second-Hand Store Shops
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Of the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Wholesale Business at the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Uses of Second-Hand Garments
Of the Street-Sellers of Petticoat and Rosemary-Lanes
Of the Street-Sellers of Men's Second-Hand Clothes
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Of the Street-Sellers of Women's Second-Hand Apparel
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Of the Second-Hand Sellers of Smithfield- Market
|Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals|
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Former Street-Sellers, 'Finders,' Stealers, and Restorers of Dogs
Of a Dog-'Finder' -- A 'Lurker's' Career
Of the Present Street-Sellers of Dogs.
Of the Street-Sellers of Sporting Dogs
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Birds
Of the Bird-Catchers Who are Street- Sellers
Of the Crippled Street Bird-Seller
Of the Tricks of the Bird-Duffers
Of the Street-Sellers of Foreign Birds
Of the Street-Sellers of Birds'--Nests
Of the Street-Sellers of Squirrels
Of the Street-Sellers of Leverets, Wild Rabbits, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Fish
Of the Street-Sellers of Tortoises
Of the Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, Worms, Snakes, Hedgehogs, Etc.
|Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities|
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Coals
Of the Street-Sellers of Coke
Of the Street-Sellers of Tan-Turf
Of the Street-Sellers of Salt
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Of the Street-Sellers of Shells
Of the River Beer-Sellers, or Purl-Men
Of the Numbers, Capital, and income of the Street- Sellers of Second-Hand Articles, Live Animals, Mineral Producions, Etc.
Income, or 'Takinags' of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
|Of the Street-Buyers|
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Buyers of Rags, Broken Metal, Bottles, Glass, and Bones
Of the 'Rag-and-Bottle,' and the 'Marine-Store' Shops
Of the Buyers of Kitchen-Stuff, Grease, and Dripping
Of the Street-Buyers of Hare and Rabbit Skins
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|Of the Street-Jews|
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Trades and Localities of the Street-Jews
Of the Jew Old-Clothes Men
Of a Jew Street-Seller
Of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Pursuits, Dwellings, Traffic, Etc., of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Street Jewesses and Street Jew-Girls
Of the Synagogues and the Religion of the Street and Other Jews
Of the Politics, Literature, and Amusements of the Jews
Of the Charities, Schools, and Education of the Jews
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Of the Jew Street-Sellers of Accordions, and of their Street Musical Pursuits
Of the Street-Buyers of Hogs'--Wash
Of the Street-Buyers of Tea-Leaves
|Of the Street-Finders or Collectors|
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Bone-Grubbers and Rag-Gatherers
Of the 'Pure'-Finders
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Of the Old Wood Gatherers
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Of the Sewer-Hunters
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Of the London Dustmen, Nightmen, Sweeps, and Scavengers
Of the Dustmen of London
Of the London Sewerage and Scavengery
|Of the Streets of London|
Of the Streets of London
Of the Traffic of London
Of the Dust and Dirt of the Streets of London
Of the Street-Dust of London, and the Loss and injury Occasioned by it
Of the Horse-Dung of the Streets of London
Of Street 'Mac' and Other Mud
Of the Mud of the Streets
Of the Surface-Water of the Streets of London
Of the Master Scavengers in Former Times
Of the Several Modes and Characteristics of Street-Cleansing
Of the Contractors For Scavengery
Of the Contractors' (or Employers') Premises, &c.
Of the Working Scavengers Under the Contractors
Of the 'Casual Hands' Among the Scavagers
Of the Influence of Free Trade on the Earnings of the Scavagers
Of the Worse Paid Scavagers, or Those Working For Scurf Employers
Of the Street-Sweeping Machine, and the Street-Sweepers Employed With it
Of the Cleansing of the Streets by Pauper Labour
Of the Street-Orderlies
Street Orderlies -- City Surveyor's Report
Of the 'Jet and Hose' System of Scavaging
Of the Cost and Traffic of the Streets of London
Of the Rubbish Carters
Of Casual Labour in General, and That of the Rubbish-Carters in Particular
Of the Casual Labourers among the Rubbish-Carters
The Effects of Casual Labour in General
Of the Scurf Trade Among the Rubbish- Carters
|Of the London Chimney-Sweepers|
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
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Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work