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Thursday, June 13, 1850.
In the present Letter I shall conclude my account of the Street Performers
and Showmen. The classes that are still undescribed are the lower class of
street singers - the street artists - the writers without hands - the blind
readers - and the street exhibition keepers. I shall begin with the Street
Concerning the ordinary street ballad-singers, I received the following account from one of the class: - "I am what may be termed a regular street ballad-singer - either sentimental or comic, sir, for I can take both branches. I have been, as near as I can guess, about five and twenty year at the business. My mother died when I was thirteen years old, and in consequence of a step-mother, home became too hot to hold me, and I turned into the streets on account of the harsh treatment I met with. My father had given me no education, and all I know now I have picked up in the streets. Well, at thirteen years I turned into the London streets, houseless, friendless. My father was a picture-frame gilder. I was never taught any business by him - neither his own nor any other. I never received any benefit from him that I know. Well, then sir, there was I, a boy of thirteen - friendless, houseless, untaught, and without any means of getting a living - loose in the streets of London. At first I slept anywhere. Sometimes I passed the night in the Old Covent-garden Market; at others, in shutter-boxes; and at others, on door-steps near my father's house. I lived at this time upon the refuse that I picked up in the streets - cabbage stumps out of the market, orange peel, and the like. Well, sir, I was green then, and one of the Stamp-office spies got me to sell some of the "Poor Man's Guardians" (an unstamped paper of that time), so that his fellow-spy might take me up. This he did, and I had a month at Coldbath-fields for the business. After I had been in prison I got in a measure hardened to the frowns of the world, and didn't care what company I kept, or what I did for a living. I wouldn't have to fancy though that I did anything dishonest. I mean I wasn't particular as to what I turned my hand to for a living, or where I lodged. I went to live in Church-lane, St. Giles's, at a threepenny house, and having a tidy voice of my own, I was there taught to go out ballad singing, and I have stuck to the business ever since. I was going on for the fifteen when I first took to it. The first thing I did was to lead at glee singing. I took the air, and two others, old hands, did the second and the bass. We used to sing the "Red Cross Knight," "Hail Smiling Morn," and harmonize "The Wolf," and other popular songs. Excepting when we needed money, we rarely went out till the evening. Then our pitches were in quiet streets or squares, where we saw, by the lights at the windows, that some party was going on. Wedding parties was very good, in general quite a harvest. Public-houses we did little at, and then it was always with the parlour company; the tap-room people have no taste for glee singing. At times we took from 9s. to 10s. of an evening - the three of us. I am speaking of the business as it was about two or three and twenty years ago. Now glee singing is seldom practised in the streets of London. It is chiefly confined to the provinces at present. In London, concerts are so cheap now-a-days that no one will stop to listen to the street glee singers; so most of the schools' or sets have gone to sing at the cheap concerts held at the public-houses. Many of the glee singers have given up the business, and taken to the street Ethiopians instead. The street glee singers had been some of them brought up to a trade, though some had not. Few were so unfortunate as me - to have none at all. The two that I was with had been a ladies' shoemaker and a paper-hanger. Others that I knew had been blacksmiths, carpenters, linen- drapers' shopmen, bakers, French polishers, pastrycooks, and such like. They mostly left their business and took to glee singing when they were young. The most that I knew were from nineteen to twenty-two years old. They had, in general, been a little racketty, and had got stage-struck or concert struck at public-houses. They had got praised for their voices, and so their vanity led them to take to it for a living when they got hard-up. Twenty years ago there must have been at the east and west end at least fourteen different sets, good and bad, and in each set there was an average three singers; now I don't think there is one set at work in London streets. After I had been three years glee singing in the streets, I took up with the ballad business, and found it more lucrative than the glee line. Sometimes I could take 5s. in the day, and not work heavily for it either - but at other times I couldn't take enough to pay my lodging. When any popular song came up that was our harvest - "Alice Gray,' 'the Sea,' 'Bridal Ring,' 'We met,' 'the Tartar Drum' (in which I was well known), 'The Banks of the Blue Moselle,' and such like - not forgetting 'The Mistletoe Bough;' these were all great things to the ballad singers. We looked at the bill of fare for the different concert rooms, and then went round the neighbourhood where these songs were being sung, because the airs being well known, you see it eased the way for us. The very best sentimental song that ever I had in my life, and which lasted me off and on for two years, was Byron's 'Isle of Beauty.' I could get a meal quicker with that than with any other. ' The Mistletoe Bough' got me many a Christmas dinner. We always works it at that time. It would puzzle any man, even the most exactest, to tell what they could make by ballad-singing in the street. Some nights it would be wet, and I should be hoarse, and then I'd take nothing. I should think that, take one week with another, my earnings were barely more than 10s. a week - 12s. a week, on the average, I think, would be the very outside. Street ballad- singers never go out in costume. It is generally supposed that some who appear without shoes, and wretchedly clad, are made up for the purpose of exciting charity; but this the regular street ballad-singer never does. He is too independent to rank himself with the beggars. He earns his money, he fancies, and does not ask charity. Some of the ballad-singers may perhaps be called beggars, or rather pensioners - that is the term we give them; but these are of the worst description of singers, and have money given to them neither for their singing nor songs, but in pity for their age and infirmities. Of these there are about six in London. Of the regular ballad-singers, sentimental and comic, there are not less than 250 in and about London. Occasionally the number is greatly increased by an influx from the country. I should say that throughout England, Wales, and Scotland, there is not less than 700 who live solely by ballad singing, and selling ballads and song books. In London the ballad-singers generally work in couples - especially the comic singers. The sentimental more commonly go alone; but there are very few in London who are merely sentimental ballad-singers - not more than a dozen at the very outside. The rest sing whatever comes up. The tunes are mostly picked up from the street bands, and sometimes from the cheap concerts, or from the gallery of the theatre, where the street ballad-singers very often go, for the express purpose of learning the airs. They are mostly utterly ignorant of music, and some of them get their money by the noise they make, by being paid to move on. There is a house in the Blackfriars road where the people has been ill for these last sixteen years, and where the street ballad-singer always goes, because he is sure of getting twopence there to move on. Some, too, make a point of beginning their songs outside of those houses where straw is laid down in front. Where the knockers are done up in an old glove the ballad-singer is sure to strike up. The comic songs that are popular in the street are never indecent, but are very often political. They are generally sung by two persons, one repeating the two first lines of a verse, and the other the two last. The street ballads are printed and published chiefly in the Seven Dials. There are four ballad publishers in that quarter and three at the East-end. Many ballads are written expressly for the Seven Dials press, especially the Newgate and the political ones, as well as those upon any topic of the day. There are five known authors for the Dials press, and they are all street ballad-singers. I am one of these myself. The little knowledge I have, I have picked up bit by bit, so that I hardly know how I have come by it. I certainly knew my letters before I left home, and I have got the rest off the dead walls and out of the ballads and papers I have been selling. I write most of the Newgate ballads now for the printers in the Dials, and, indeed, anything that turns up. I get a shilling for 'a copy of verses written by the wretched culprit the night previous to his execution.' I wrote Courvoisier's sorrowful lamentation. I called it 'A Woice from the Gaol.' I wrote a pathetic ballad on the respite of Annette Meyers. I did the helegy, too, on Rush's execution. It was supposed, like the rest, to be written by the culprit himself, and was particular penitent. I didn't write that to order - I knew they would want a copy of verses from the culprit. The publisher read it over, and said, 'That's the thing for the street public.' I only got 1s. for Rush. Indeed, they are all the same price, no matter how popular they may be. I wrote the life of Manning in verse. Besides these I have written the lament of Calcraft the Hangman on the decline of his trade, and many political songs. But song and Newgate ballad writing for the Dials is very poor work. I've got five times as much for writing a squib for a rag- shop as for a ballad that has taken me double the time.
I now come to the street artists. These include the artists in coloured chalks upon the pavements, the black profile-cutters, and the blind paper-cutters.
A spare sad-looking man, very poorly dressed, gave me the following statement. He is well-known by his coloured drawings upon the flag stones:
"I was usher in a school for three years, and had a paralytic stroke, which lost me my employment, and was soon the cause of great poverty. I was fond of drawing, and colouring drawings, when a child, using sixpenny boxes of colours, or the best my parents could procure me, but I never had lessons. lam a self-taught man. When I was reduced to distress, and indeed to starvation, I thought of trying some mode of living, and remembering having seen a man draw mackerel on the flags in the streets of Bristol twenty years ago, I thought I would try what I could do that way. I first tried my hand in the New Kent-road, attempting a likeness of Napoleon, and it was passable, though I can do much better now. I made half-a-crown the first day. I saw a statement in one of your letters that I was making £1 a day, and was giving fourteen pence for a shilling. I never did. On the contrary, I've had a pint of beer given to me by publicans for supplying them with copper. It doesn't hurt me, so that you needn't contradict it unless you like. The Morning Chronicle letters about us are often talked over in the lodging- houses. It's fourteen or fifteen years since I started in the New Kent-road, and I've followed up 'screeving,' as it's sometimes called, or drawing in coloured chalks on the flag stones, until now. I improved with practice. It paid me well; but in wet weather I have made nothing, and have had to run into debt. A good day's work I reckoned 8s. - or 10s. a very good day's work. I should be glad to get it now. I have made 15s. in a day on an extraordinary occasion, but never more, except at Greenwich Fair; where I've practised these fourteen years. I don't suppose lever cleared £1 a week all the year round at screeving. For £1 a week I would honestly work my hardest. I have a wife and two children. I would draw trucks or be a copying clerk, or do anything for £1 a week to get out of the streets. Or I would like regular employment as a painter in crayons. Of all my paintings the Christ's heads paid the best, but very little better than the Napoleon's heads. The Waterloo-bridge road was a favourite spot of mine for a pitch. Easton-square is another. These two were my best I never chalked starving' on the flags, or anything of that kind. There are two imitators of me, but they do badly. I don't do as well as I did ten years ago, but I'm making 15s. a week all the year through.
A cheerful blind man, well known to all crossing Waterloo or Hungerford Bridges, gave me the following account of his figure cutting:
"I had the measles when I was seven, and became blind, but my sight was restored by Dr. Jeffrey, at Old St. George's Hospital. After that I had several relapses into total blindness in consequence of colds, and since 1840 I have been quite blind, excepting that I can partially distinguish the sun and the gas lights, and such like, with the left eye only. I am now 31, and was brought up to house painting. When I was last attacked with blindness I was obliged to go St. Martin's workhouse, where I underwent thirteen operations in two years. When I came out of the workhouse I played the German flute in the street, but it was only a noise, not music, sir. Then I sold boot-laces and tapes in the street, and averaged 5s. a week by it - certainly not more. Next I made little wooden tobacco stoppers in the street, in the shape of legs - they're called 'legs.' The first day I started in that line - it was in Tottenham-court-road - I was quite elated, for I made half-a-crown. I next tried it by St. Clement's Church, but I found that I cut my hands so with the knives and files, that I had to give it up, and I then took up with the trade of cutting out profiles of animals and birds, and grotesque human figures in card. I established myself soon after I began this trade by the Victoria-gate, Bayswater - that was the best pitch I ever had. One day I took 15s., and I averaged 30s. a week for six weeks. At last the inspector of police ordered me off. After that I was shoved about by the police, such crowds gathered round me, until I at length got leave to carry on my business by Waterloo-bridge - that's seven years ago. I remained there till the opening of Hungerford-bridge, in May, 1845. I sit there cold or fine, winter or summer, every day but Sunday, or if I'm ill. I often hear odd remarks from people crossing the bridge. In winter time, when I've been cold and hungry, and so poor that I couldn't get my clothes properly mended, one has said, 'Look at the poor blind man, there;' and another (and oft enough, too) has answered, 'Poor blind man! he has better clothes and more money than you or me; it's all done to excite pity.' I can generally tell a gentleman's or lady's voice, if they're the real thing. I can tell a purse-proud man's voice, too. He says, in a domineering, hectoring way, as an ancient Roman might speak to his slave, Ah, ha! my good fellow, how do you sell these things?' Since January last I may have averaged 8s. a week; that's the outside. The working and the middling classes are my best friends. I know of no other man in my particular line, and I've often inquired concerning any."
The next in order are the writers without hands, and the readers without eyes.
A man of 61, born in the crippled state he described, tall, and with an intelligent look and good manners, gave me this account:
"I was born without hands, merely the elbow of the right arm and the joint of wrist of the left. I have rounded stumps. I was born without feet also, merely the ankle and heel, just as if my feet were cut off close within the instep. My father was a farmer in Cavan county, Ireland, and gave me a fair education. He had me taught to write. I'll show you how, sir. (Here he put on a pair of spectacles, using his stumps, and then holding the pen on one stump, by means of the other he moved the two together, and so wrote his name in an old-fashioned hand.) I was taught by an ordinary schoolmaster. I served an apprenticeship of seven years to a turner, near Cavan, and could work well at the turning, but couldn't chop the wood very well. I handled my tools as I've shown you I do my pen. I came to London in 1814, having a prospect of getting a situation in the India-house, but I didn't get it, and waited for eighteen months until my funds and my father's help were exhausted, and I then took to making fancy screens, flower vases, and hand-racks in the streets. I did very well at them, making 15s. to 20s. a week in the summer, and not half that, perhaps not much more than a third, in the winter. I continue this work still when my health permits, and I now make handsome ornaments, flower vases, &c., for the quality, and have to work before them frequently to satisfy them. I could do very well but for ill health. I charge from 5s. to 8s. for hand-screens, and from 7s. 6d. to 15s. for flower vases. Some of the quality pay me handsomely - some are very near. I have done little work in the streets this way, except in very fine weather. Sometimes I write tickets in the street at a halfpenny each. The police never interfere unless the thoroughfare is obstructed badly. My most frequent writing is 'Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return.' 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.' To that I add my name, the date sometimes, and a memorandum that it was the writing of a man born without hands or feet. When I'm not disturbed I do pretty well, getting 1s. 6d. a day, but that's an extra day. The boys are a great worry to me. Working-people are my only friends at the writing, and women the best. My best pitches are Tottenham-court-road and the West-end thoroughfares. There's three men I know who write without hands. They're in the country chiefly, travelling. One man writes with his toes, but chiefly in the public-houses or with showmen. I consider that I am the only man in the world who is a handicraftsman without hands or feet. I am married, and have a grown-up family; two of my sons are in America, one in Australia, one a sailor, the others are emigrants on the coast of Africa, and one a cabinet maker in London - all fine fellows, well made. I had fifteen in all. My father and mother, too, were a handsome well-made couple.
An intelligent man gave me the following account of his experience as a blind reader. He was poorly dressed, but clean, and had not a vulgar look.
"My father died when I was ten years old, and my mother in the coronation year, 1838. I am now in my thirty-eighth year. I was a clerk in various offices. I was not born blind, but lost my sight four years ago, in consequence of aneurism. I was a fortnight in the Ophthalmic Hospital, and was an out-patient for three months. I am a married man with one child, and we did as well as we could, but that was very badly, until every bit of furniture (and I had a house hill of good furniture up to time) went. At last I thought I might earn a little by reading in the street. The Society for the Indigent Blind gave me the Gospel of St. John, after Mr. Freer's system, the price being 8s.; and a brother-in-law supplied me with the Gospel of St. Luke, which costs 9s. In Mr. Freer's system the regular alphabet letters are not used, but there are raised characters, 34 in number, including long and short vowels, and these characters express sounds, and a sound may comprise a short syllable. I learned to read by this system in four lessons. I first read in public in Mornington-crescent. For the first fortnight or three weeks I took from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. a day - one day I took 3s. My receipts then fell to something less than 18d. a day, and have been gradually falling ever since. Since the 1st of January, this year, I haven't averaged more than 2s. 6d. a week by my street reading and writing. My wife earns 3s. or 4s. a week with her needle, slaving for a sweater' to a shirtmaker. I have never read anywhere but in Easton-square and Mornington crescent. On Whit Monday I made 2s. 0½d., and on Whit-Tuesday, 2s. 0½d., and that I assure you I reckon really good holiday earnings, and I read until I was hoarse with it. Once at Mornington-crescent, I counted, as closely as I could, just out of curiosity, and to wile away the time, above 2,000 persons, who passed and repassed without giving me a halfpenny. The working people are my best friends, most decidedly. I am tired of the streets, besides being half starved. There are now five or six blind men about London, who read in the streets. We can read nothing but the Scriptures, as blind printing' - so it's sometimes called - has only been used in the Scriptures. I write also in the streets as well as read. I use Wedgwood's manifold writer. I write verses from Scripture. There are no teaching necessary for this. I trace the letters from my knowledge of them when I could see. I believe I am the only blind man who writes so in the streets."
After the street artists, readers, and writers, come the street exhibition men. These include the exhibitors of peep-shows, happy families, &c.
First of the peep-shows. Concerning these I received the subjoined narrative from a man of considerable experience in the "profession":
"Being a cripple I am obliged to exhibit a small peep-show. I lost the use of this arm ever since I was three months old. My mother died when I was ten years old, and after that my father took up with an Irishwoman, and turned me and my youngest sister (she was two years younger than me) out into the streets. My father had originally been a dyer, but was working at the fiddle-string business then. My youngest sister got employment at my father's trade, but I couldn't get no work because of my crippled arm. I walked about till I fell down in the streets for want. At last, a man, who had a sweetmeat-shop, took pity on me. His wife made the sweetmeats, and minded the shop while he went out a juggling in the streets, in the Ramo Samee line. He told me as how, if I would go round the country with him and sell a few prints while he was a juggling in the public-houses, he'd find me in wittles, and pay my lodging. I joined him and stopped with him two or three year. After that I went to work for a werry large waste paper dealer. He used to buy up all the old back numbers of the cheap periodicals and penny publications, and send me out with them to sell at a farden a piece. He used to give me 4d. out of every shilling, and I done very well with that, till the periodicals came so low and so many on em, that they wouldn't sell at all. Sometimes I could make l5s. on a Saturday night and a Sunday morning a-selling the odd numbers of periodicals, such as 'Tales of the Wars,' 'Lives of the Pirates,' 'Lives of the Highwaymen,' &c. I've often sold as many as 2,000 numbers on a Saturday night, in the New Cut, and the most of them was works about thieves and highwaymen and pirates. Besides me there was three others at the same business. Altogether, I dare say my master alone used to get rid of 10,000 copies of such works on a Saturday night and Sunday morning. Our principal customers was young men. My master made a good bit of money at it. He had been about 18 years in the business, and had begun with 2s. 6d. I was with him 15 year on and off, and at the best time. I used to earn my 30s. a week full at that time. But then I was foolish, and didn't take care of my money. When I was at the odd number business I bought a peepshow. I gave £2 10s. for it. I had it second-hand. I was persuaded to buy it. A person as has got only one hand, you see, isn't like other folks, and the people said, it would always bring me a meal of victuals, and keep me from starving. The peep-shows was a doing very well then (that's about five or six years back), when the theaytres was all a shilling to go into them whole price, but now there's many at threepence and twopence, and a good lot at a penny. Before the theayters lowered, a peep- showman could make sure of his 3s. or 4s. a day, at the least, in fine weather, and on a Saturday night about double that money. At a fair he could take his 15s. to a £1 a day. Then there was about nine or ten peep-shows in London. These were all back-shows. There are two kinds of peep-shows, which we call 'back-shows' and 'caravan-shows.' The caravan-shows are much larger than the others, and are drawn by a horse or a donkey. They have a green baize curtain at the back, which shuts out them as don't pay. The showmen usually live in these caravans with their families. Often there will be a man, his wife, and three or four children living in one of these shows. These caravans mostly go into the country, and very seldom are seen in town. They exhibit principally at fairs and feasts or wakes in country villages. They generally go out of London between March and April, because some fairs begin at that time, but many wait for the fairs at May. Then they work their way right round, from willage to town. They tell one another what part they're a-going to, and they never interfere with one another's rounds. If a new hand comes into the business they're werry civil, and tells him what places to work. The carawans comes to London about October, after the fairs is over. The scenes of them carawan shows is mostly upon recent battles and murders. Anything in that way of late occurrence suits them. Theatrical plays ain't no good for country towns, cause they don't understand such things there. People is werry fond of the battles in the country, but a murder wot is well known is worth more than all the fights. There was more took with Rush's murder than there has been even by the battle of Waterloo itself. Some of the carawan shows does werry well. Their average taking is 30s. a week or the summer months. At some fairs they'll take 5l. in three days. They have been about town as long as ever we can recollect. I should say there is full 50 of these carawan shows throughout the country. Some never comes into London at all. There is about a dozen that comes to London regular every winter. The business in general goes from family to family. The cost of a carawan show, second-hand is 40l. - that's without the glasses, and them runs from 10s. to 1l. a piece, because they're large. Why, I've knowed the front of a peep-show, with the glasses, cost £60; the front was mahogany, and had 36 glasses, with gilt carved mouldings round each on em. The scenes will cost about £6, if done by the best artist, and £3 if done by a common hand. The back-shows are peep-shows that stand on trussels, and are so small as to admit of being carried on the back. The scenery is about 18 inches to 2 foot in length, and about 15 inches high. They have been introduced about 15 or 16 years. The man as first brought em up was named Billy T ; he was lame of one leg, and used to exhibit little automaton figures in the New-cut. On their first coming out, the oldest backshowman as I know on has told me they could take their 15s. a day. But now we can't do more than 7s. a week, run Saturday and all the other days together - and that's through the theayters being so low. It's a regular starving life now. We has to put up with the hinsults of people so. The backshows generally exhibits plays of different kinds wot been performed at the theayters lately. I've got many different plays to my show. I only hexhibit one at a time. There's 'Halonzer the Brave and the Fair Himogen.' 'The Dog of Montargisand the Forest of Bondy,' 'Hyder Halley, or the Lyons of Mysore,' 'The Forty Thieves' (that never done no good to me), 'The Devil and Doctor Faustus;' and at Christmas time we exhibits pantomimes. I has some battle scenes as well. I've 'Napoleon's Return from Helba,' 'Napoleon at Waterloo,' 'The Death of Lord Nelson,' and also 'The Queen embarking to start for Scotland, from the Dockyard at Voolich.' We takes more from children than grown people in London, and more from grown people than children in the country. You see grown people has such remarks made upon them while they're a-peeping through in London, as it makes it bad for us here. Lately, I have been hardly able to get a living, you may say. Some days I've taken 6d., others 8d., and sometimes 1s. - that's what I call a good day for any of the week days. On a Saturday it runs from 2s. to 2s. 6d. Of the week days, Monday or Tuesday is the best. If there's a fair on near London, such as Greenwich, we can go and take 3s. and 4s., or 5s. a day, so long as it lasts. But, after that, we comes back to the old business, and that's bad enough; for, after you've paid 1s. 6d. a week rent, and 6d. a week stand for your peep-show, and come to buy a bit of coal, why all one can get is a bit of bread and a cup of tea to live upon. As for meat, we don't see it from one month's end to the other. My old woman, when she is at work, only gets five fardens a pair for making a pair of drawers to send out for the conwicts, and three halfpence for a shirt; and out of that she has to find her own thread. There are from six to eight scenes in each of the plays that I shows; and if the scenes area bit short, why I puts in a couple of battle- scenes; or I make up a pannerrammer for 'em. The children will have so much for the money now. I charge a halfpenny for a hentire performance. There is characters and all - and I explains what they are supposed to be a talking about. There's about six back-shows in London. I don't think there's more. It don't pay now to get up a new play. We works the old ones over and over again, and sometimes we buys a fresh one of another showman if we can rise the money - the price is 2s. and 2s. 6d. I've been obligated to get rid on about twelve of my plays to get a bit of victuals at home. Formerly we used to give a hartist 1s. to go in the pit and sketch off the scenes and figures of any new play that was a doing well and we thought 'ud take, and arter that we used to give him from 1s. 6d. to 2s. for drawing and painting each scene, and 1d. and 1½d. each for the figures, according to the size. Each play costs us from 15s. to £1 for the inside scenes and figures, and the outside painting as well. The outside painting in general consists of the most attractive part of the performance. The New-cut is no good at all now on a Saturday night; that's through the cheap penny hexhibitions there. Tottenham-court-road a'nt much account either. The street markets is the best of a Saturday night. I'm often obliged to take bottles instead of money, and they don't fetch more than 3d. a dozen. Sometimes I take four dozen of bottles in a day. I lets em see a play for a bottle, and often two wants to see for one large bottle. The children is dreadful for cheapening things down. In the summer I goes out of London for a month at a stretch. In the country I works my battle pieces. They're most pleased there with my Lord Nelson's death at the battle of Trafalgar. 'That there is,' I tell 'em, 'a fine painting representing Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar. In the centre is Lord Nelson in his last dying moments, supported by Captain Hardy and the chaplin. On the left is the hexplosion of one of the enemy's ships by fire. That represents a fine painting, representing the death of Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, wot was fought on the 12th of October, 1805.' I've got five glasses, they cost about 5s. a piece when new, and is about 3½ inches across, with a 3 foot focus."
"Happy Families," or assemblages of animals of diverse habits and propensities living amicably, or at least quietly, in one cage, are so well known as to need no further description here. Concerning them I received the following account: -
"I have been three years connected with Happy Families, living by such connection. These exhibitions were first started at Coventry, sixteen years ago, by a man who was my teacher. He was a stocking-weaver, and a fancier of animals and birds, having a good many in his place: hawks, owls, pigeons, starlings, cats, dogs, mice, rats, guinea-pigs, jack-daws, fowls, ravens, and monkeys. He used to to keep them separate and for his own amusement, or would train them for sale, teaching the dogs tricks and such like. He found his animals agree so well together, that he had a notion - and a snake-charmer, an old Indian, used to advise him on the subject - that he could show in public animals and birds, supposed to be one another's enemies and victims, living in quiet together. He did show them in public, beginning with cats, rats, and pigeons in one cage,. and then kept adding by degrees all the other creatures I have mentioned. He did very well at Coventry, butt don't know what he took. His way of training the animals is a secret which he has taught me. It's principally done, however, I may tell you, by continued kindness and petting, and studying the nature of the creatures. Hundreds have tried their hands at happy families and have failed. The cat has killed the mice, the hawks have killed the birds, the dogs the rats, and even the cats, the rats the birds, and even one another; indeed, it was anything but a Happy Family. By our system we never have a mishap, and have had animals eight or nine years in the cage - until they've died of age, indeed. In our present cage we have 54 birds and wild animals, and of 17 different kinds; 3 cats, 2 dogs (a terrier and a spaniel), 2 monkeys, 2 magpies, 2 jackdaws, 2 jays, 10 starlings (some of them talk), 6 pigeons, 2 hawks, 2 barn fowls, 1 screech owl, 5 common-sewer rats, 5 white rats (a novelty), 8 guinea pigs, 2 rabbits (1 wild and 1 tame), 1 hedgehog, and 1 tortoise. Of all these the rat is the most difficult animal to make a member of a Happy Family.' Among birds, the hawk. The easiest trained animal is a monkey; and the easiest trained bird, a pigeon. They live together in their cages all night, and sleep in a stable unattended by any one. They were once thirty-six hours, as a trial, without food - that was in Cambridge; and no creature was injured, but they were very peckish, especially the birds of prey. I wouldn't allow it to be tried (it was for a scientific gentleman) any longer, and I fed them well to begin upon. There are now in London five Happy Families, all belonging to two families of men. Mine, that is the one I have the care of, is the strongest, 54 creatures; the others will average 40 each, or 214 birds and beasts in Happy Families. Our only regular places now are Waterloo-bridge and the National Gallery. The expense of keeping my 54 is 12s. a week; and in a good week - indeed the best week - we take 30s., and in a bad week sometimes not 8s. It's only a poor trade, though there are more good weeks than bad; but the weather has so much to do with it. The middle class of society are our best supporters. When the Happy Family - only one - was first in London, fourteen years ago, the proprietor took £1 a day on Waterloo-bridge, and only showed in the summer. The second Happy Family was started eight years ago, and did as well for a short time as the first. Now there are too many Happy Families. There are none in the country."