A considerable sensation has been created among the Metropolitan Police, by a general order on the subject of whiskers. Various conjectures have been hazarded as to the cause for the resolution which has been come to by the Commissioners, and several of the force have revolted against a measure involving the loss of that which they emphatically declare to be dearer than life - their personability. . . . . . Such has been the panic in the force that the Commissioners have been induced to reconsider the matter, and a return of the state of the whisker crops throughout the Metropolitan Police has been ordered.
Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1842
Plate IV of 'The Drunkard's Children'
'Urged on by his Ruffian Companions, and Excited by Drink,
'He Commits a Desperate Robbery.
He is Taken by the Police at a Three-Penny Lodging House.'
George Cruikshank, 1848
His dress is decent and citizen-like, and yet peculiar; if differs from the dress of ordinary men; coat and trousers of blue cloth; a number and a letter embroidered on his collar; a striped band and buckle on his arm; a hat with oilskin top, and white gloves - rather a rarity in the dirty atmosphere of London.... It is a mistake to believe, as some persons on the continent actually do, that the London police are altogether unarmed and at the mercy of every drunkard. Not only have they, in many instances and quarters, a dirk hidden under their great-coats, but they have also, at all times, a short club-like staff in their pockets. This staff is produced on solemn occasions, for instance, on the occasion of public processions, when every policeman holds his staff in his hand. The staves have of late years been manufactured of gutta percha, and made from this material they are lighter and more durable than wooden staves. In the name of all that is smashing, what a rich full sound does not such a gutta percha club produce when in quick succession it comes down on a human shoulder.
Max Schlesinger, Saunterings in and about London, 1853
PROPOSED NEW UNIFORM FOR THE POLICE
WITH LETTERS AND NUMBERS PROPERLY MARKED
Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1855
PITY THE POLICE.
THE Horse Guards have, in the matter of accoutrement, a body of formidable
rivals over the way. These are the authorities who preside over the equipment
and clothing of the Constabulary Blues in Scotland Yard.
The boots of Policemen have long been objects remarkable for their excessive clumsiness and disproportion. They are obviously uncomfortable; that we see, although none but the wearer can know where the shoe pinches. But the head of the Policemen is even worse clad than his feet are, though the demerits of his hat are less conspicuous than those of his highlows.
The objectionable peculiarities of the Policeman's hat are chiefly its extreme hardness and excessive weight, which is greatest at the crown, so that the thing is not only heavy, but top-heavy. It gets, therefore, instantly knocked off in a row and leaves unprotected the head which it was designed to defend. The glazed top attracts the heat of the sun when that luminary presides over the beat of the wearer. Thus rendering him hot-headed, it necessarily hinders his obedience to the standing-order of his corps, which requires that, "a Constable should on all occasions execute his duty with good temper and discretion."
The hat of the Policeman has been compared to a chimney pot, wherefrom, however similar to it in shape and weight it differs in the important particular of not allowing the heat and exhalations which ascend into it to escape. In want of elasticity, its resemblance to that other cylinder is perfect. Hence it effectually resists that expansion of the Policeman's cranium which is a condition requisite to accompany the progressive mental development of an intelligent officer.
By night, when the path of the Policeman's duty is irradiated by the silvery moon or the refulgence of the gas-lamps, the glimmer reflected by his glazed hat-cover enables thieves to recognise him at a distance, and elude the vigilance of their pursuer. The glazed hat thus answers a purpose which could not be more effectually served by appending a contrivance to the tail of his coat like the apparatus which nature has attached to that of the rattlesnake.
The necks of Policemen are moreover constringed with high stiff collars and rigid leather stocks, deserving the name of black chokers, which necessarily cause congestion of the brain. This organ of the mind, thus overgorged with blood, undergoes a baking process within the head enclosed the glazed hat. Such stocks might serve for the punishment of evil-doers, but should be banished from the uniform of those whose vocation it is to take offenders into custody. The police force is not too numerous, but it may be truly said to be overstocked.
The stock of the Policeman is no light grievance, and the hat is still heavier. The Commissioners of Police are respectfully solicited to take stock, and hat also, with a view to necessary reform in both particulars. They will not, surely, after this appeal, continue to expose themselves to the too well-merited banter implied in the popular question. "Who s your Hatter?"
Punch, July 6, 1861
THE HAIR ON LAW
THE Police Force are in future not to be forced to use the
razor, lip and chin are no longer to go bare. This change in the facings of the
constabulary which will make them more than ever airy favourites, is not
the result of a shaving clause in an Act of Parliament, but of an order, we
might say an Imperial decree, of the Chief Commissioner, who in such matters is
"A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER."
JUST SO. BUT SURELY IT MIGHT BE SO ARRANGED THAT THOSE METROPOLITAN CONSTABLES WHO WISH TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE RECENT EDICT SHOULD BE PLACED UPON NIGHT DUTY TILL THEIR BEARDS HAVE GROWN TO A DECENT LENGTH.
Punch, April 24, 1869
THE POLICE ON A NEW FOOTING.
ALARMISTS we are not, and would not write a word to frighten a cat, if we could help it, and much less an old lady. Still, we cannot help remarking that burglaries of late have been frequent in the suburbs, and pupils of Bill Sykes have broken the peace of even Kensington. It is small fault of the police if the thieves have not been caught: for how can a policeman, heavy-booted as he is, expect to catch a nimble robber, whose business is to run at the slightest sound of danger? The tramp of the Bobbeian boots may readily be recognised full half a mile away; and Bill Sykes has ample time to put his crowbar in his pocket, and vanish round the corner, ere the Peeler, pede claudo, can manage to come up to him. The heavy boots are, no doubt, useful in their way; for instance, say for kicking to the station a ruffianly wife-beater. Still, we can not help opining it would add to the safety of our streets, if a Light-Brigade of Bobbies were established for night service, and furnished with goloshes.
Punch, April 12, 1873
In those days the "new Police" as they were still called - for that had not long been invented by Sir Robert Peel in supersession of the old watchmen - were very different in appearance from our present guardians. They were swallow-tail blue coats, with bright metal buttons, and in summer, white duck trousers and white Berlin gloves. In lieu of helmet they had an ordinary chimney-pot hat, only of extra strength and stiffness, and with a glazed oilskin hat. . . . Neither policeman nor private soldier was permitted to grow moustache or beard.
Edmund Yates, His Recollections and Experiences, 1885
[chapter on 1836-1847]