OF THE PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS OF STREET-LITERATURE.
The best known, and
the most successful printer and publisher of all who have directed their
industry to supply the "paper" in demand for street sale, and in every
department of street literature, was the late "Jemmy Catnach," who is
said to have amassed upwards of 10,000l. in the business. He is reported to have
made the greater part of this sum during the trial of Queen Caroline, by the
sale of whole-sheet "papers," descriptive of the trial, and
embellished with "splendid illustrations." The next to Catnach stood
the late "Tommy Pitt," of the noted toy and marble-warehouse. These
two parties were the Colburn and Bentley of the "paper" trade. Catnach
retired from business some years ago, and resided in a country-house at Barnet,
but he did not long survive his retirement. "He was an out and out
sort," said one old paper-worker to me, "and if he knew you - and he
could judge according to the school you belonged to, if he hadn't known you long
-he was friendly for a bob or two, and sometimes for a glass. He knew the men
that was stickers though, and there was no glass for them. Why, some of his
customers, sir, would have stuck to him long enough, if there'd been a chance of
another glass -supposing they'd managed to get one -and then would have asked
him for a coach home! When I called on him, he used to say, in his north country
way -he wasn't Scotch, but somewhere north of England -and he was pleasant with
it, `Well, d -you, how are you?' He got the cream of the pail, sir."
The present street literature printers and publishers are, Mrs. Ryle (Catnach's niece and successor), Mr. Birt, and Mr. Paul (formerly with Catnach), all of the Seven Dials; Mr. Powell (formerly of Lloyd's), Brick-lane, Whitechapel; and Mr. Good, Aylesbury-street, Clerkenwell. Mr. Phairs, of Westminster; Mr. Taylor, of the Waterloo-road; and Mr. Sharp, of Kent-street, Borough, have discontinued street printing. One man greatly regretted Mr. Taylor's discontinuing the business; "he was so handy for the New-cut, when it was the Newcut." Some classes of patterers, I may here observe, work in "schools" or "mobs" of two, three, or four, as I shall afterwards show.
The authors and poets who give its peculiar literature, alike in prose or rhyme, to the streets, are now six in number. They are all in some capacity or other connected with street-patter or song, and the way in which a narrative or a "copy of werses" is prepared for press is usually this: -The leading members of the "schools," some of whom refer regularly to the evening papers, when they hear of any out-of-the-way occurrence, resort to the printer and desire its publication in a style proper for the streets. This is usually done very speedily, the school (or the majority of them) and the printer agreeing upon the author. Sometimes an author will voluntarily prepare a piece of street literature and submit it to a publisher, who, as in the case of other publishers, accepts or declines, as he believes the production will or will not prove remunerative. Sometimes the school carry the manuscript with them to the printer, and undertake to buy a certain quantity, to insure publication. The payment to the author is the same in all cases -a shilling.
Concerning the history and character of our street and public-house literature, I shall treat hereafter, when I can comprise the whole, and after the descriptions of the several classes engaged in the trade will have paved the way for the reader's better appreciation of the curious and important theme. I say, important; because the street-ballad and the streetnarrative, like all popular things, have their influence on masses of the people. Specimens will be found adduced, as I describe the several classes, or in the statements of the patterers.
It must be borne in mind that the street author is closely restricted in the quality of his effusion. It must be such as the patterers approve, as the chaunters can chaunt, the balladsingers sing, and -above all -such as streetbuyers will buy. One chaunter, who was a great admirer of the "Song of the Shirt," told me that if Hood himself had written the "Pitiful Case of Georgy Sloan and his Wife," it would not have sold so well as a ballad he handed to me, from which I extract a verse:
"Jane Willbred we did starve and beat her very hard. I confess we used her very cruel, But now in a jail two long years we must bewail, We don't fancy mustard in the gruel."
What I have said of the necessity which controls street authorship, may also be said of the art which is sometimes called in to illustrate it.
The paper now published for the streets is classed as quarter sheets, which cost (wholesale) 1s. a gross; half sheets, which cost 2s.; and whole or broad sheets (such as for executions), which cost 3s. 6d.; a gross the first day, and 3s. the next day or two, and afterwards, but only if a ream be taken, 5s. 6d.; a ream contains forty dozen. When "illustrated," the charge is from 3d. to 1s. per ream extra. The books, for such cases as the Sloanes, or the murder of Jael Denny, are given in books -which are best adapted for the suburban and country trade, when London is "worked" sufficiently -are the "whole sheet" printed so as to fold into eight pages, each side of the paper being then, of course, printed upon. A book is charged from 6d. to 1s. extra (to a whole sheet) per gross, and afterwards the same extra per ream.
OF LONG SONG-SELLERS.
I have this week given
a daguerreotype of a well-known long-song seller, and have preferred to give it
as the trade, especially as regards London, has all but disappeared, and it was
curious enough. "Long songs" first appeared between nine and ten years
The long-song sellers did not depend upon patter -though some of them pattered a little - to attract customers, but on the veritable cheapness and novel form in which they vended popular songs, printed on paper rather wider than this page, "three songs abreast," and the paper was about a yard long, which constituted the "three" yards of song. Sometimes three slips were pasted together. The vendors paraded the streets with their "three yards of new and popular songs" for a penny. The songs are, or were, generally fixed to the top of a long pole, and the vendor "cried" the different titles as he went along. This branch of "the profession" is confined solely to the summer; the hands in winter usually taking to the sale of song-books, it being impossible to exhibit "the three yards" in wet or foggy weather. The paper songs, as they fluttered from a pole, looked at a little distance like huge much-soiled white ribbons, used as streamers to celebrate some auspicious news. The cry of one man, in a sort of recitative, or, as I heard it called by street-patterers, " singsong," was, "Three yards a penny! Three yards a penny! Beautiful songs! Newest songs! Popular Songs! Three yards a penny! Song, song, songs!" Others, however, were generally content to announce merely "Three yards a penny!" One cried "Two under fifty a fardy!" As if two hundred and fifty songs were to be sold for a farthing. The whole number of songs was about 45. They were afterwards sold at a halfpenny, but were shorter and fewer. It is probable that at the best had the songs been subjected to the admeasurement of a jury, the result might have been as little satisfactory as to some tradesmen who, however, after having been detected in attempts to cheat the poor in weights and scales, and to cheat them hourly, are still "good men and true" enough to be jurymen and parliamentary electors. The songs, I am informed, were often about 2½ yards, (not as to paper but as to admeasurement of type); 3 yards, occasionally, at first, and not often less than 2 yards.
The crying of the titles was not done with any other design than that of expressing the great number of songs purchasable for "the small charge of one penny." Some of the patterers I conversed with would have made it sufficiently droll. One man told me that he had cried the following songs in his three yards, and he believed in something like the following order, but he had cried penny song books, among other things, lately, and might confound his more ancient and recent cries:
"I sometimes began," he said, "with singing, or trying to sing, for I'm no vocalist, the first few words of any song, and them quite loud. I'd begin
`The Pope he leads a happy life, He knows no care' -
`Buffalo gals, come out to-night;' `Death of Nelson;' The gay cavalier;' `Jim along Josey;' `There's a good time coming;' `Drink to me only;' `Kate Kearney;' `Chuckaroo-choo, choo-choo-choot-lah;' `Chockala-roony-ninkaping-nang;' ` Pagadaway-dusty-kanty-key;' ` Hottypie-gunnypochina-coo' (that's a Chinese song, sir); `I dreamed that I dwelt in marble halls;' `The standard bearer;' `Just like love;' `Whistle o'er the lave o't;' `Widow Mackree;' `I've been roaming;' `Oh! that kiss;' `The old English gentleman,' &c., &c. &c. I dares say they was all in the three yards, or was once, and if they wasn't there was others as good."
The chief purchasers of the "long songs" were boys and girls, but mostly boys, who expended 1d. or ½d. for the curiosity and novelty of the thing, as the songs were not in the most readable form. A few working people bought them for their children, and some women of the town, who often buy anything fantastic, were also customers.
When "the three yards was at their best," the number selling them was about 170; the wholesale charge is from 3d. to 5d. a dozen, according to size. The profit of the vendors in the first instance was about 8d. a dozen. When the trade had all the attractions of novelty, some men sold ten dozen on fine days, and for three or four of the summer months; so clearing between 6s. and 7s. a day. This, however, was not an average, but an average might be at first 21s. a week profit. I am assured that if twenty persons were selling long songs in the street last summer it was "the outside," as long songs are now "for fairs and races and country work." Calculating that each cleared 9s. in a week, and to clear that took 15s., the profit being smaller than it used to be, as many must be sold at ½d. each -we find 120l. expended in long songs in the streets. The character of the vendor is that of a patterer of inferior genius.
The stock-money required is 1s. to 2s.; which with 2d. for a pole, and ½d. for paste, is all the capital needed. Very few were sold in the public-houses, as the vendors scrupled to expose them there, "for drunken fellows would snatch them, and make belts of them for a lark."
OF RUNNING PATTERERS.
Few of the residents
in London -but chiefly those in the quieter streets -have not been aroused, and
most frequently in the evening, by a hurly-burly on each side of the street. An
attentive listening will not lead any one to an accurate knowledge of what the
clamour is about. It is from a "mob" or "school" of the
running patterers (for both those words are used), and consists of two, three,
or four men. All these men state that the greater the noise they make, the
better is the chance of sale, and better still when the noise is on each side of
a street, for it appears as if the vendors were proclaiming such interesting or
important intelligence, that they were vieing with one another who should supply
the demand which must ensue. It is not possible to ascertain with any certitude
what the patterers are so anxious to sell, for only a few leading words are
audible. One of the cleverest of running patterers repeated to me, in a subdued
tone, his announcements of murders. The words "Murder,"
"Horrible," "Barbarous," "Love," "
Mysterious," "Former Crimes," and the like, could only be caught
by the ear, but there was no announcement of anything like "
particulars." If, however, the "paper" relate to any well-known
criminal, such as Rush, the name is given distinctly enough, and so is any new
or pretended fact. The running patterers describe, or profess to describe, the
contents of their papers as they go rapidly along, and they seldom or ever stand
still. They usually deal in murders, seductions, crim.-cons., explosions,
alarming accidents, "assassinations," deaths of public characters,
duels, and love-letters. But popular, or notorious, murders are the "great
goes." The running patterer cares less than other streetsellers for bad
weather, for if he "work" on a wet and gloomy evening, and if the work
be "a cock," which is a fictitious statement or even a pretended
fictitious statement, there is the less chance of any one detecting the ruse.
But of late years no new "cocks" have been printed, excepting for
temporary purposes, such as I have specified as under its appropriate head in my
account of "Death and Fire-Hunters." Among the old stereotyped
"cocks" are love-letters. One is well known as "The Husband
caught in a Trap," and being in an epistolary form subserves any purpose:
whether it be the patterer's aim to sell the "Love Letters" of any
well-known person, such as Lola Montes, or to fit them for a local (pretended)
scandal, as the " Letters from a Lady in this neighbourhood to a Gentleman
not 100 miles off."
Of running patterers there are now in London from 80 to 100. They reside -some in their own rooms, but the majority in lodging-houses -in or near Westminster, St. Giles's, Whitechapel, Stratford, Deptford, Wandsworth, and the Seven Dials. The "Dials," however, is their chief locality, being the residence of the longest-established printers, and is the "head meet" of the fraternity.
It is not easy to specify with exactitude the number of running or flying patterers at any one time in London. Some of these men become, occasionally, standing patterers, chaunters, or ballad-singers -classes I shall subsequently describe -and all of them resort at intervals to country rounds. I heard, also, many complaints of boys having of late "taken to the running patter" when anything attractive was before the public, and of ignorant fellows -that wouldn't have thought of it at one time -"trying their hands at it." Waiving these exceptional augmentations of the number, I will take the body of running patterers, generally employed in their peculiar craft in London, at 90. To ascertain their earnings presents about the same difficulties as to ascertain their number; for as all they earn is spent -no patterer ever saving money - they themselves are hardly able to tell their incomes. If any new and exciting fact be before the public, these men may each clear 20s. a week; when there is no such fact, they may not earn 5s. The profit is contingent, moreover, upon their being able to obtain 1d., or only ½d., for their paper. Some represented their average weekly earnings at 12s. 6d. the year through; some at 10s. 6d.; and others at less than half of 12s. 6d. Reckoning, however, that only 9s. weekly is an average profit per individual, and that 14s. be taken to realise that profit, we find 3,276l. expended yearly on running patterers in London; but in that sum the takings of the chaunters must be included, as they are members of the same fraternity, and work with the patterers.
The capital required to commence as a running patterer is but the price of a few papers -from 2d. to 1s. The men have no distinctive dress: "our togs," said one of them, "is in the latest fashion of Petticoat-lane;" unless on the very rare occasions, when some character has to be personated, and then coloured papers and glazed calicoes are made available. But this is only a venture of the old hands.
EXPERIENCE OF A RUNNING PATTERER.
From a running
patterer, who has been familiar with the trade for many years, I received,
upwards of a twelvemonth ago, the following statement. He is well known for his
humour, and is a leading man in his fraternity. After some conversation about
"cocks," the most popular of which, my informant said, was the murder
at Chigwell-row, he continued:
"That's a trump, to the present day. Why, I'd go out now, sir, with a dozen of Chigwellrows, and earn my supper in half an hour off of 'em. The murder of Sarah Holmes at Lincoln is good, too -that there has been worked for the last five year successively every winter. Poor Sarah Holmes! Bless her! she has saved me from walking the streets all night many a time. Some of the best of these have been in work twenty years -the Scarborough murder has full twenty years. It's called `The Scarborough Tragedy.' I've worked it myself. It's about a noble and rich young naval officer seducing a poor clergyman's daughter. She is confined in a ditch, and destroys the child. She is taken up for it, tried, and executed. This has had a great run. It sells all round the country places, and would sell now if they had it out. Mostly all our customers is females. They are the chief dependence we have. The Scarborough Tragedy is very attractive. It draws tears to the women's eyes to think that a poor clergyman's daughter, who is remarkably beautiful, should murder her own child; it's very touching to every feeling heart. There's a copy of verses with it, too. Then there's the Liverpool Tragedy -that's very attractive. It's a mother murdering her own son, through gold. He had come from the East Indies, and married a rich planter's daughter. He came back to England to see his parents after an absence of thirty years. They kept a lodging-house in Liverpool for sailors; the son went there to lodge, and meant to tell his parents who he was in the morning. His mother saw the gold he had got in his boxes, and cut his throat -severed his head from his body; the old man, upwards of seventy years of age, holding the candle. They had put a washing-tub under the bed to catch his blood. The morning after the murder, the old man's daughter calls and inquires for a young man. The old man denies that they have had any such person in the house. She says he had a mole on his arm, in the shape of a strawberry. The old couple go up-stairs to examine the corpse, and find they have murdered their own son, and then they both put an end to their existence. This is a deeper tragedy than the Scarborough Murder. That suits young people better; they like to hear about the young woman being seduced by the naval officer; but the mothers take more to the Liverpool Tragedy - it suits them better. Some of the `cocks' were in existence long before ever I was born or thought of. The `Great and important battle between the two ladies of fortune,' is what we calls `a ripper.' I should like to have that there put down correct," he added, "'cause I've taken a tidy lot of money out of it."
My informant, who had been upwards of 20 years in the running patter line, told me that he commenced his career with the "Last Dying Speech and Full Confession of William Corder." He was sixteen years of age, and had run away from his parents. "I worked that there," he said, "down in the very town (at Bury) where he was executed. I got a whole hatful of halfpence at that. Why, I wouldn't even give 'em seven for sixpence -no, that I wouldn't. A gentleman's servant come out and wanted half a dozen for his master and one for himself in, and I wouldn't let him have no such thing. We often sells more than that at once. Why, I sold six at one go to the railway clerks at Norwich about the Manning affair, only a fortnight back. But Steinburgh's little job -you know he murdered his wife and family, and committed suicide after -that sold as well as any `die.' Pegsworth was an out-and-out lot. I did tremendous with him, because it happened in London, down Ratcliff-highway -that's a splendid quarter for working -there's plenty of feelings -but, bless you, some places you go to you can't move no how, they've hearts like paving-stones. They wouldn't have `the papers' if you'd give them to 'em -especially when they knows you. Greenacre didn't sell so well as might have been expected, for such a diabolical out-and-out crime as he committed; but you see he came close after Pegsworth, and that took the beauty off him. Two murderers together is never no good to nobody. Why there was Wilson Gleeson, as great a villain as ever lived -went and murdered a whole family at noon-day -but Rush coopered him -and likewise that girl at Bristol -made it no draw to any one. Daniel Good, though, was a first-rater; and would have been much better if it hadn't been for that there Madam Toosow. You see, she went down to Roehampton, and guv 2l. for the werry clogs as he used to wash his master's carriage in; so, in course, when the harristocracy could go and see the real things -the werry identical clogs -in the Chamber of 'Orrors, why the people wouldn't look at our authentic portraits of the fiend in human form. Hocker wasn't any particular great shakes. There was a deal expected from him, but he didn't turn out well. Courvoisier was much better; he sold wery well, but nothing to Blakesley. Why I worked him for six weeks. The wife of the murdered man kept the King's Head that he was landlord on open on the morning of the execution, and the place was like a fair. I even went and sold papers outside the door myself. I thought if she war'n't ashamed, why should I be? After that we had a fine `fake' -that was the fire of the Tower of London -it sold rattling. Why we had about forty apprehended for that -first we said two soldiers was taken up that couldn't obtain their discharge, and then we declared it was a wellknown sporting nobleman who did it for a spree. The boy Jones in the Palace wasn't much of an affair for the running patterers; the ballad singers -or street screamers, as we calls 'em -had the pull out of that. The patter wouldn't take; they had read it all in the newspapers before. Oxford, and Francis, and Bean were a little better, but nothing to crack about. The people doesn't care about such things as them. There's nothing beats a stunning good murder, after all. Why there was Rush -I lived on him for a month or more. When I commenced with Rush, I was 14s. in debt for rent, and in less than fourteen days I astonished the wise men in the east by paying my landlord all I owed him. Since Dan'el Good there had been little or nothing doing in the murder line -no one could cap him -till Rush turned up a regular trump for us. Why I went down to Norwich expressly to work the execution. I worked my way down there with `a sorrowful lamentation' of his own composing, which I'd got written by the blind man expressly for the occasion. On the morning of the execution we beat all the regular newspapers out of the field; for we had the full, true, and particular account down, you see, by our own express, and that can beat and goes and stands with it right under the drop; and many's the penny I've turned away when I've been asked for an account of the whole business before it happened. So you see, for herly and correct hinformation, we can beat the Sun -aye, or the moon either, for the matter of that. Irish Jem, the Ambassador, never goes to bed but he blesses Rush the farmer; and many's the time he's told me we should never have such another windfall as that. But I told him not to despair; there's good time coming, boys, says I, and, sure enough, up comes the Bermondsey tragedy. We might have done very well, indeed, out of the Mannings, but there was too many examinations for it to be any great account to us. I've been away with the Mannings in the country ever since. I've been through Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Suffolk, along with George Frederick Manning and his wife - travelled from 800 to 1,000 miles with 'em, but I could have done much better if I had stopped in London. Every day I was anxiously looking for a confession from Mrs. Manning. All I wanted was for her to clear her conscience afore she left this here whale of tears (that's what I always calls it in the patter), and when I read in the papers (mind they was none of my own) that her last words on the brink of heternity was, `I've nothing to say to you, Mr. Rowe, but to thank you for your kindness,' I guv her up entirely -had completely done with her. In course the public looks to us for the last words of all monsters in human form, and as for Mrs. Manning's, they were not worth the printing."
OF THE RECENT EXPERIENCE OF A RUNNING PATTERER.
From the same man I
had the following account of his vocation up to the present time:
"Well, sir," he said, "I think, take them altogether, things hasn't been so good this last year as the year before. But the Pope, God bless him! he's been the best friend I've had since Rush, but Rush licked his Holiness. You see, the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman is a one-sided affair; of course the Catholics won't buy anything against the Pope, but all religions could go for Rush. Our mob once thought of starting a cardinal's dress, and I thought of wearing a red hat myself. I did wear a shovel hat when the Bishop of London was our racket; but I thought the hat began to feel too hot, so I shovelled it off. There was plenty of paper that would have suited to work with a cardinal's hat. There was one, -`Cardinal Wiseman's Lament,' -and it was giving his own words like, and a red hat would have capped it. It used to make the people roar when it came to snivelling, and grumbling at little Jack Russell -by Wiseman, in course; and when it comes to this part -which alludes to that 'ere thundering letter to the Bishop of Durham -the people was stunned:
`He called me a buffalo, bull, and a monkey, And then with a soldier called Old Arthur conkey Declared they would buy me a ninepenny donkey, And send me to Rome to the Pope.'
"They shod me, sir. Who's they? Why, the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman. I call my clothes after them I earn money by to buy them with. My shoes I call Pope Pius; my trowsers and braces, Calcraft; my waistcoat and shirt, Jael Denny; and my coat, Love Letters. A man must show a sense of gratitude in the best way he can. But I didn't start the cardinal's hat; I thought it might prove disagreeable to Sir Robert Peel's dress lodgers." [What my informant said further of the Pope, I give under the head of the Chaunter.] "There was very little doing," he continued, "for some time after I gave you an account before; hardly a slum worth a crust and a pipe of tobacco to us. A slum's a paper fake, -make a foot-note of that, sir. I think Adelaide was the first thing I worked after I told you of my tomfooleries. Yes it was, -her helegy. She weren't of no account whatsomever, and Cambridge was no better nor Adelaide. But there was poor Sir Robert Peel, -he was some good; indeed, I think he was as good as 5s. a day to me for the four or five days when he was freshest. Browns were thrown out of the windows to us, and one copper cartridge was sent flying at us with 13½d. in it, all copper, as if it had been collected. I worked Sir Robert at the West End, and in the quiet streets and squares. Certainly we had a most beautiful helegy. Well, poor gentleman, what we earned on him was some set-off to us for his starting his new regiment of the Blues -the Cook's Own. Not that they've troubled me much. I was once before Alderman Kelly, when he was Lord Mayor, charged with obstructing, or some humbug of that sort. `What are you, my man?' says he quietly, and like a gentleman. `In the same line as yourself, my lord,' says I. `How's that?' says he. `I'm a paper-worker for my living, my lord,' says I. I was soon discharged; and there was such fun and laughing, that if I'd had a few slums in my pocket, I believe I could have sold them all in the justice-room.
"Haynau was a stunner, and the drayman came their caper just in the critical time for us, as things was growing very taper. But I did best with him in chaunting; and so, as you want to hear about chaunting, I'll tell you after. We're forced to change our patter -first running, then chaunting, and then standing - oftener than we used to.
"Then Calcraft was pretty tidy browns. He was up for starving his mother, -and what better can you expect of a hangman? Me and my mate worked him down at Hatfield, in Essex, where his mother lives. It's his native, I believe. We sold her one. She's a limping old body. I saw the people look at her, and they told me arterards who she was. `How much?' says she. `A penny, marm,' say I. `Sarve him right,' says she. We worked it, too, in the street in Hoxton where he lives, and he sent out for two, which shows he's a sensible sort of character in some points, after all. Then we had a `Woice from the Gaol! or the Horrors of the Condemned Cell! Being the Life of William Calcraft, the present Hangman.' It's written in the high style, and parts of it will have astonished the hangman's nerves before this. Here's a bit of the patter, now:
"Let us look at William Calcraft," says the eminent author, "in his earliest days. He was born about the year 1801, of humble but industrious parents, at a little village in Essex. His infant ears often listened to the children belonging to the Sunday schools of his native place, singing the well-known words of Watt's beautiful hymn,
`When e'er I take my walks abroad, How many poor I see, &c.'
But alas for the poor farmer's boy, he never had the opportunity of going to that school to be taught how to shun `the broad way leading to destruction.' To seek a chance fortune he travelled up to London where his ignorance and folorn condition shortly enabled that fell demon which ever haunts the footsteps of the wretched, to mark him for her own."
"Isn't that stunning, sir? Here it is in print for you. `Mark him for her own!' Then, poor dear, he's so sorry to hang anybody. Here's another bit:
`But in vain he repents, he has no real friend in the world but his wife, to whom he can communicate his private thoughts, and in return receive consolation, can any lot be harder than this? Hence his nervous system is fast breaking down, every day rendering him less able to endure the excruciating and agonizing torments he is hourly suffering, he is haunted by remorse heaped upon remorse, every fresh victim he is required to strangle being so much additional fuel thrown upon that mental flame which is scorching him.'
"You may believe me, sir, and I can prove the fact -the author of that beautiful writing ain't in parliament! Think of the mental flame, sir! O, dear.
"Sirrell was no good either. Not salt to a herring. Though we worked him in his own neighbourhood, and pattered about gold and silver all in a row. `Ah!' says one old woman, `he was a 'spectable man.' `Werry, marm,' says I.
"Hollest weren't no good either, 'cause the wictim was a parson. If it had happened a little later, we'd have had it to rights; the newspapers didn't make much of it. We'd have shown it was the `Commencement of a Most Horrid and Barbarious Plot got up by the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman for-r the Mas-ser-cree-ing of all good Protestant Ministers.' That would have been the dodge, sir! A beautiful idear, now, isn't it? But the murder came off badly, and you can't expect fellows like them murderers to have any regard for the interest of art and literature. Then there's so long to wait between the murder and the trial, that unless the fiend in human form keeps writing beautiful loveletters, the excitement can't be kept up. We can write the love-letters for the fiend in human? That's quite true, and we once had a great pull that way over the newspapers. But Lord love you, there's plenty of 'em gets more and more into our line. They treads in our footsteps, sir; they follows our bright example. O! isn't there a nice rubbing and polishing up. This here copy won't do. This must be left out, and that put in; 'cause it suits the walk of the paper. Why, you must know, sir. I know. Don't tell me. You can't have been on the Morning Chronicle for nothing.
"Then there was the `Horrid and Inhuman Murder, Committed by T. Drory, on the Body of Jael Denny, at Donninghurst, a Village in Essex.' We worked it in every way. Drory had every chance given to him. We had halfsheets, and copies of werses, and books. A very tidy book it was, setting off with showing how `The secluded village of Donninghurst has been the scene of a most determined and diabolical murder, the discovery of which early on Sunday, the 12th, in the morning has thrown the whole of this part of the country into a painful state of excitement.' Well, sir, well -very well; that bit was taken from a newspaper. Oh, we're not above acknowledging when we condescends to borrow from any of 'em. If you remember, when I saw you about the time, I told you I thought Jael Denny would turn out as good as Maria Martin. And without any joke or nonsense, sir, it really is a most shocking thing. But she didn't. The weather coopered her, poor lass! There was money in sight, and we couldn't touch it; it seemed washed away from us, for you may remember how wet it was. I made a little by her, though. For all that, I haven't done with Master Drory yet. If God spares my life, he shall make it up to me. Why, now, sir, is it reasonable, that a poor man like me should take so much pains to make Drory's name known all over the country, and walk miles and miles in the rain to do it, and get only a few bob for my labour? It can't be thought on. When the Wile and Inhuman Seducer takes his trial, he must pay up my just claims. I'm not going to take all that trouble on his account, and let him off so easy."
My informant then gave me an account of his sale of papers relating to the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman, but as he was then a chaunter, rather than a patterer (the distinction is shown under another head), I give his characteristic account, as the statement of a chaunter. He proceeded after having finished his recital of the street business relating to the Pope, &c.:
"My last paying caper was the Sloanes. They beat Haynau. I declare to you, sir, the knowingest among us couldn't have invented a cock to equal the conduct of them Sloanes. Why, it's disgusting to come near the plain truth about them. I think, take it altogether, Sloane was as good as the Pope, but he had a stopper like Pius the Ninth, for that was a one-sided affair, and the Catholics wouldn't buy; and Sloane was too disgusting for the gentry, or better sort, to buy him. But I've been in little streets where some of the windows was without sashes, and some that had sashes had stockings thrust between the frames, and I've taken half a bob in ha'pennies. Oh! you should have heard what poor women said about him, for it was women that bought him most They was more savage against him than against her. Why, they had fifty deaths for him. Rolling in a barrel, with lots of sharp nails inside, down Primrose-hill, and turned out to the women on Kennington-common, and boiled alive in oil or stuff that can't be mentioned, or hung over a slow fire. `O, the poor dear girl,' says they, `what she's suffered.' We had accounts of Mistress Sloane's apprehension before the papers. We had it at Jersey, and they had it at Boulogne, but we were first. Then we discovered, because we must be in advance of the papers, that Miss Devaux was Sloane's daughter by a former wife, and Jane Wilbred was Mrs. Sloane's daughter by a former husband, and was entitled to 1,000l. by rights. Haynau was a fool to Sloane.
" I don't know of anything fresh that's in hand, sir. One of our authors is coming out with something spicy, against Lord John, for doing nothing about Wiseman; 'cause he says as no one thing that he's written for Lord John ever sold well, something against him may."
OF THE CHAUNTERS.
" As the
minstrel's art," writes Mr. Strutt, in his "Sports and Pastimes,"
"consisted of several branches, the professors were distinguished by
different denominations, as `rimours, chanterres, conteours, jougleours or
jongleurs, jestours, leeours, and troubadours or trouvers:' in modern language,
rhymers, singers, story-tellers, jugglers, relaters of heroic actions, buffoons,
and poets; but all of them were included under the general name of minstrel. An
eminent French antiquary says of the minstrels, that some of them themselves
composed the subjects they sang or related, as the trouvers and the conteurs;
and some of them used the compositions of others, as the jougleours and the
chanteurs. He further remarks, that the trouvers may be said to have embellished
their productions with rhyme, while the conteurs related their histories in
prose; the jougleours, who in the middle ages were famous for playing upon the
vielle" [a kind of hurdy-gurdy], "accompanied the songs of the
trouvers. These jougleours were also assisted by the chanteurs; and this union
of talents rendered the compositions more harmonious and more pleasing to the
auditory, and increased their rewards, so that they readily joined each other,
and travelled together in large parties. It is, however, very certain that the
poet, the songster, and the musician were frequently united in the same
person." My account of the authors, &c., of street literature shows
that the analogy still holds.
The French antiquary quoted was Fauchet, in his "Origine de la Langue et Poësie Francoise" (1581); and though he wrote concerning his own country, his descriptions apply equally to the English minstrels, who were principally Normans, for many reigns after the Conquest, and were of the same race, and habits, and manners as on the French side of the Channel.
Of the minstrels, I shall have more to say when I treat of the ballad-singers and the bands of street and public-house musicians of to-day, between whom and the minstrels of old there is, in many respects, a somewhat close resemblance. Minstrelsy fell gradually from its high estate, and fell so low that, in the 39th year of Elizabeth's reign -a period when the noblest poetry of any language was beginning to command the ear of the educated in England -the minstrels were classed in a penal statute with rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars! Putenham, in his " Arte of English Poesie" (1589), speaks of " taverne minstrels that give a fit of mirth for a groat." One of the statutes enacted in Cromwell's Protectorate was directed against all persons " commonly called fidlers or minstrells."
In the old times, then, the jougeleurs and jestours were assisted by the chanteurs. In the present day the running patterer -who, as I have shown, is the sufficiently legitimate descendant of the jestour, and in some respects of the mountebank -is accompanied generally by a chaunter, so presenting a further point of resemblance between ancient and modern streetfolk. The chaunter now not only sings, but fiddles, for within these few years the running patterers, to render their performances more attractive, are sometimes accompanied by musicians. The running performer then, instead of hurrying along with the members of his mob, making sufficient noise to arouse a whole street, takes his stand with the chaunter in any promising place, and as the songs which are the most popular are -as is the case at many of the concert-rooms -sometimes " spoken" as well as sung, the performers are in their proper capacity, for the patterer not only " speaks," but speaks more than is set down for him, while the chaunter fiddles and sings. Sometimes the one patters while the other sings, and their themes are the same.
I am told, however, that there are only fifty running patterers who are regularly their own chaunters, fiddling to their songs, while the mob work as usual, or one man sings, or speaks and sings, with the chaunter. Two of these men are known as Brummagem Jack, and the Country Paganini. From twenty to thirty patterers, however, are chaunters also, when they think the occasion requires it.
Further to elucidate chaunting, and to show the quality of the canticles, and the way of proceeding, I cite a statement of his experience as a chaunter, from the running patterer, whose details of his more especial business I have already given, but who also occasionally chaunts: -
OF THE EXPERIENCE OF A CHAUNTER.
" The Pope,
sir," he began, "was as onesided to chaunt as to patter, in course. We
had the Greeks (the lately-arrived Irish) down upon us more than once. In
Liverpool-street, on the night of the meeting at Guildhall about the Papal
Aggression, we had a regular skrimmage. One gentleman said: ` Really, you
shouldn't sing such improper songs, my men.' Then up comes another, and he was a
little orusted with port wine, and he says: ` What, against that cove the Pope!
Here, give me half a dozen of the papers.' The city was tidy for the patter,
sir, or the chaunt; there was sixpences; but there was shillings at the West
End. And for the first time in their innocent lives, the parsons came out as
stunning patrons of the patter. One of 'em as we was at work in the street give
a bit of a signal and was attended to without any parade to the next street, and
was good for half-a-crown! Other two stopped, that wery same day, and sent a boy
to us with a Joey. Then me and my mate went to the Rev. W.'s, him as came it so
strong for the fire-works on the Fifth of November. And we pattered and we
pattered, and we chaunted and we chaunted, but no go for a goodish bit. His
servant said he weren't at home. In course that wouldn't do for us, so down he
came his-self at last, and says, werry soft: ` Come to-morrow morning, my men,
and there'll be two gentlemen to hear you.' We stuck to him for something in
hand, but he said the business had cost him so much already, he really couldn't.
Well, we bounced a bob out of him, and didn't go near him again. After all we
did for his party, a shilling was black ingratitude. Of course we has no feeling
either for or agin the Pope. We goes to it as at an election; and let me tell
you, sir, we got very poorly paid, it couldn't be called paid, for working for
Lord John at the City Election; and I was the original of the live rats, which
took well. But there's a good time coming to pay Lord Johnny off.
" Some of the tunes -there's no act of parliament about tunes, you know, sir -was stunners on the fiddle; as if a thousand bricks was falling out of a cart at once. I think ` The Pope and Cardinal Wiseman,' one of the first of the songs, did as well as any. This werse was greatly admired: -
'Now Lord John Russell did so bright,
to the Bishop of Durham a letter write
Saying while I've a hand I'll fight,
The pope and cardinal wiseman,
Lord John's ancestor as I tell,
Lord William Russell then known well,
His true religion would not sell,
A martyr he in glory fell,
And now Lord John so bold and free,
Has got a rope as we may see,
To hang up on each side of a tree,
The pope and cardinal wiseman.'
"This finishing werse, too, was effective, and out came a few browns: -
` Now we don't care a fig for Rome,
why can't they let the girls alone,
And mind their business at home,
the pope and cardinal wiseman.
With their monsical red cardinals hat,
And lots of wafers in a sack,
If they come here with all their clack,
we'll wound them fil fal la ra whack,
In England they shall not be loose,
Their hum bugging is all no use,
If they come here we'll cook their goose,
The pope and Cardinal Wiseman.
Monks and Nuns and fools afloat,
We'll have no bulls shoved down our throat,
Cheer up and shout down with the Pope,
And his bishop cardinal Wiseman.'
" Then there was another, sir. `The Pope he is coming; oh, crikey, oh dear! ' to the tune of the ` Camels are coming.' There was one bit that used to tickle them. I mayn't exactly remember it, for I didn't do anything beyond a spurt in it, and haven't a copy for you, but it tickled 'em with others. This was the bit: -
` I've heard my old grandmother's grandmother say,
They burnt us in Smithfield full ten every day.
O, what shall I do, for I feel very queer,
The Pope he's a-coming, oh! crikey, oh, dear!'
" Bless you, sir, if I see a smart dressed servant girl looking shyly out of the street-door at us, or through the area railings, and I can get a respectful word in and say, ` My good young lady, do buy of a poor fellow, we haven't said a word to your servants, we hasn't seen any on 'em,' then she's had, sir, for 1d. at least, and twice out of thrice; that ` good young lady ' chloroforms her.
" Then this one, now, is stunning. It's part of what the Queen was a going to sing at the opening of the parliament, but she changed her mind, and more's the pity, for it would have had a grand effect. It's called ` The Queen, the Pope, and the Parliament,' and these is the best of the stanzas; I calls them werses in common, but stanzas for Wick:
` My lords and my gentlemen all,
The bishops and great house of commons
On you for protection I call,
For you know I am only a woman,
I am really quite happy indeed -
To meet you like birds of a feather,
So I hope you will all struggle with me,
And pull away boys altogether,
My name is Victoria the Queen.
` Our bishops and deans did relent,
And say they for ever was undone,
Bishop Philpott a long challenge sent
To his lordship the bishop of London,
To fight him on Hounslow Heath -
But the bishop of London was coosey,
He gave him one slap in the mouth,
And then sent a letter to pusey,
No humbuggery stories for vick -
` I heard my old grandfather say
His great grandmother easily loved reckon
When they made a fool run away,
Whose name was king Jemmy the second.
Billy gave him a ticket for soup,
Though Bill married old Jemmy's daughter
He knocked him from old Palace yard,
To Ireland, across the Boyne water,
Long life to Victoria the Queen.
` Come here my old friend Joey Hume,
I know you in silence wont mope now,
Go up and get inside the moon
And make fast a great torry rope now,
And then give a spring and a jump
And you to a peerage shall rise then,
For we'll swing up old Pius the Pope
And his eminence cardinal Wiseman,
Old England and down with the Pope.'
" Then there wasn't no risk with Haynau -I told you of the Pope first, 'cause he was most chaunted -no fear of a ferricadouzer for the butcher. How is it spelled, sir? Well, if you can't find it in the dictionary, you must use your own judgment. What does it mean? It means a dewskitch (a good thrashing). I've been threatened with dark nights about the Pope, after the Greeks has said: `Fat have you to say agin the holy gintleman? To the divil wid all the likes o' ye.' Haynau was a fair stage and no favour. This werse was best liked: -
` The other day as you must know,
In Barclay's brewhouse he did go
And signed his bloody name "
The fellow that flogged the women.
Baron Rothchild did him shend,
And in the letter which he penn'd
He shaid the sheneral wash his friend,
And so good a man he could not mend.
Rumpsey bumsy -bang him well -
Make his back and sides to swell
Till he roars aloud with dreadful yell,
The fellow that flogged the women.'
" The women bought very free; poor women, mostly; we only worked him to any extent in the back drags. One old body at Stepney was so pleased that she said, ` O, the bloodyminded willain! Whenever you come this way again, sir, there's always 1d. for you.' She didn't pay in advance though.
" Then it ended, sir, with a beautiful moral as appeals to every female bosom: -
` That man who would a female harm,Is never fit to live.
" We always likes something for the ladies, bless 'em. They're our best customers.
" Then there was poor Jael Denny, but she was humped, sir, and I've told you the reason. Her copy of werses began: -
` Since Corder died on Buystree,
No mortal man did read or see,
Of such a dreadful tragedy,
As I will now unfold.
A maid in bloom -
to her silent tomb,
Is hurried in the prime of life,
How could a villain cause such strife
She worthy was a famous wife.
The like was seldom told.
She was young and gay,
Like the flowers of may,
In youth and vigour health and bloom,
She is hurried to the silent tomb.
Through Essex, such a dreadfull gloom,
Jael Denny's murder caused.'
" My last chaunt was Jane Wilbred; and her werses -and they did tidy well -began: -
` A Case like this you seldom read,
Or one so sad and true,
And we sincerely hope the perpertrators both will rue
To serve a friendless servant girl,
Two years they did engage,
Her name it is Jane Willbred,
And eighteen years of age.'
" What do you think of the Great Exhibition, sir? I shall be there. Me and my mates. We are going to send in a copy of werses in letters of gold for a prize. We'll let the foreigners know what the real native melodies of England is, and no mistake."
OF THE DEATH AND FIRE HUNTERS.
I have described the
particular business of the running patterer, who is known by another and a very
expressive cognomen -as a " Death Hunter." This title refers not only
to his vending accounts of all the murders that become topics of public
conversation, but to his being a " murderer" on his own account, as in
the sale of " cocks" mentioned incidentally in this narrative. If the
truth be saleable, a running patterer prefers selling the truth, for then -as
one man told me -he can " go the same round comfortably another day."
If there be no truths for sale -no stories of criminals' lives and loves to be
condensed from the diffusive biographies in the newspapers -no "
helegy" for a great man gone -no prophecy and no crim. con. -the death
hunter invents, or rather announces, them. He puts some one to death for the
occasion, which is called " a cock." The paper he sells may give the
dreadful details, or it may be a religious tract, "brought out in
mistake," should the vendor be questioned on the subject; or else the poor
fellow puts on a bewildered look and murmurs, " O, it's shocking to be done
this way -but I can't read." The patterers pass along so rapidly that this
detection rarely happens.
One man told me that in the last eight or ten years, he, either singly or with his " mob," had twice put the Duke of Wellington to death, once by a fall from his horse, and the other time by a " sudden and myst-erious" death, without any condescension to particulars. He had twice performed the same mortal office for Louis Phillipe, before that potentate's departure from France; each death was by the hands of an assassin; " one was stabbing, and the other a shot from a distance." He once thought of poisoning the Pope, but was afraid of the street Irish. He broke Prince Albert's leg, or arm, (he was not sure which), when his royal highness was out with his harriers. He never had much to say about the Queen; " it wouldn't go down," he thought, and perhaps nothing had lately been said. " Stop, there, sir," said another patterer, of whom I inquired as to the correctness of those statements, (after my constant custom in sifting each subject thoroughly,) "stop, stop, sir. I have had to say about the Queen lately. In coorse, nothing can be said against her, and nothing ought to; that's true enough, but the last time she was confined, I cried her accounchement (the word was pronounced as spelt to a merely English reader, or rather more broadly) of three! Lord love you, sir, it would have been no use crying one; people's so used to that; but a Bobby came up and he stops me, and said it was some impudence about the Queen's coachman! Why look at it, says I, fat-head -I knew I was safe -and see if there's anything in it about the Queen or her coachman! And he looked, and in coorse there was nothing. I forget just now what the paper was about." My first-mentioned informant had apprehended Feargus O'Connor on a charge of high treason. He assassinated Louis Napoleon, " from a fourth edition of the Times," which " did well." He caused Marshal Haynau to die of the assault by the draymen. He made Rush hang himself in prison. He killed Jane Wilbred, and put Mrs. Sloane to death; and he announced the discovery that Jane Wilbred was Mrs. Sloane's daughter.
This informant did not represent that he had originated these little pieces of intelligence, only that he had been a party to their sale, and a party to originating one or two. Another patterer and of a higher order of genius -told me that all which was stated was undoubtedly correct, " but me and my mates, sir," he said, " did Haynau in another style. A splendid slum, sir! Capital! We assassinated him -mysterious. Then about Rush. His hanging hisself in prison was a fake, I know; but we've had him lately. His ghost appeared -as is shown in the Australian papers -to Emily Sandford, and threatened her; and took her by the neck, and there's the red marks of his fingers to be seen on her neck to this day!" The same informant was so loud in his praise of the " Ass-sass-sination" of Haynau that I give the account. I have little doubt it was his own writing. It is confused in passages, and has a blending of the " I" and the " we:" -
" We have just received upon undisputed authority, that, that savage and unmanly tyrant, that enemy to civil and religious liberty, the inhuman Haynau has at last finished his career of guilt by the hand of an assassin, the term assassin I have no doubt will greet harshly upon the ears of some of our readers, yet never the less I am compelled to use it although I would gladly say the average of outraged innocence, which would be a name more suitable to one who has been the means of ridden the world of such a despicable monster."
[My informant complained bitterly, and not without reason, of the printer. " Average," for instance (which I have italicised), should be " avenger." The " average of outraged innocence!"]
" It appears by the Columns of the Corour le Constituonal of Brussels," runs the paper, "that the evening before last, three men one of which is supposed to be the miscreant, Haynau entered a Cafe in the Neighbourhood of Brussels kept by a man in the name of Priduex, and after partaking of some refreshments which were ordered by his two companions they desired to be shown to their chambers, during their stay in the public or Travellers Room, they spoke but little and seemed to be very cautious as to joining in the conversations which was passing briskly round the festive board, which to use the landlord's own words was rather strange, as his Cafe was mostly frequented by a set of jovial fellows, M. Priduex goes on to state that after the three strangers had retired to rest some time a tall and rathernoble looking man enveloped in a large cloak entered and asked for a bed, and after calling for some wine he took up a paper and appeared to be reading it very attentively, in due time he was shown to bed and all passed on without any appearance of anything wrong until about 6 o'clock in the morning, when the landlord and his family, were roused by a noise over head and cries of murder, and upon going up stairs to ascertain the cause, he discovered the person who was [known] to be Marshal Haynau, lying on his bed with his throat cut in a frightful manner, and his two companions standing by his bed side bewailing his loss. On the table was discovered a card, on which was written these words ` Monster, I am avenged at last. Suspicion went upon the tall stranger, who was not anywhere to be found, the Garde arms instantly were on the alert, and are now in active persuit of him but up to the time of our going to press nothing further has transpired."
It is very easy to stigmatise the death-hunter when he sets off all the attractions of a real or pretended murder, -when he displays on a board, as does the standing patterer, " illustrations" of " the 'dentical pick-axe" of Manning, or the stable of Good, -or when he invents or embellishes atrocities which excite the public mind. He does, however, but follow in the path of those who are looked up to as " the press," -as the " fourth estate." The conductors of the Lady's Newspaper sent an artist to Paris to give drawings of the scene of the murder by the Duc de Praslin, -to " illustrate" the bloodstains in the duchess's bed-chamber. The Illustrated London News is prompt in depicting the locality of any atrocity over which the curious in crime may gloat. The Observer, in costly advertisements, boasts of its 20 columns (sometimes with a supplement) of details of some vulgar and mercenary bloodshed, -the details being written in a most honest deprecation of the morbid and savage tastes to which the writer is pandering. Other weekly papers have engravings -and only concerning murder -of any wretch whom vice has made notorious. Many weekly papers had expensive telegraphic despatches of Rush's having been hung at Norwich, which event, happily for the interest of Sunday newspapers, took place in Norwich at noon on a Saturday. [I may here remark, that the patterers laugh at telegraphs and express trains for rapidity of communication, boasting that the press strives in vain to rival them, -as at a " hanging match," for instance, the patterer has the full particulars, dying speech, and confession included -if a confession be feasible -ready for his customers the moment the drop falls, and while the criminal may still be struggling, at the very scene of the hanging. At a distance he sells it before the hanging. " If the Times was cross-examined about it," observed one patterer, " he must confess he's outdone, though he's a rich Times, and we is poor fellows." But to resume -]
A penny-a-liner is reported, and without contradiction, to have made a large sum by having hurried to Jersey in Manning's business, and by being allowed to accompany the officers when they conducted that paltry tool of a vindictive woman from Jersey to Southampton by steamer, and from Southampton to London by " special engine," as beseemed the popularity of so distinguished a rascal and homicide; and next morning the daily papers, in all the typographical honour of " leads" and " a good place," gave details of this fellow's -this Manning's -conversation, looks, and demeanour.
Until the " respectable " press become a more healthful public instructor, we have no right to blame the death-hunter, who is but an imitator -a follower -and that for a meal. So strong has this morbid feeling about criminals become, that an earl's daughter, who had " an order" to see Bedlam, would not leave the place until she had obtained Oxford's autograph for her album! The rich vulgar are but the poor vulgar -without an excuse for their vulgarity.
" Next to murders, fires are tidy browns," I was told by a patterer experienced both in " murders " and " fires." The burning of the old Houses of Parliament was very popular among street-sellers, and for the reason which ensures popularity to a commercial people; it was a source of profit, and was certainly made the most of. It was the work of incendiaries, - of ministers, to get rid of perplexing papers, - of government officers with troublesome accounts to balance, -of a sporting lord, for a heavy wager, -of a conspiracy of builders, -and of " a unsuspected party." The older " hands" with whom I conversed on the subject, all agreed in stating that they " did well" on the fire. One man said, " No, sir, it wasn't only the working people that bought of me, but merchants and their clerks. I s'pose they took the papers home with 'em for their wives and families, which is a cheap way of doing, as a newspaper costs 3d. at least. But stop, sir, -stop; there wasn't no threepennies then, -nothing under 6d., if they wasn't more; I can't just say, but it was better for us when newspapers was high. I never heard no sorrow expressed, -not in the least. Some said it was a good job, and they wished the ministers was in it." The burning of the Royal Exchange was not quite so beneficial to the street-sellers, but " was uncommon tidy." The fire at the Tower, however, was almost as great a source of profit as that of the Houses of Parliament, and the following statement shows the profit reaped.
My informant had been a gentleman's servant, his last place being with a gentleman in Russell-square, who went to the East Indies, and his servant was out of a situation so long that he " parted with everything." When he was at the height of his distress, he went to see the fire at the Tower, as he " had nothing better to do." He remained out some hours, and before he reached his lodging, men passed him, crying the full and true particulars of the fire. " I bought one," said the man, " and changed my last shilling. It was a sudden impulse, for I saw people buy keenly. I never read it, but only looked at the printer's name. I went to him at the Dials, and bought some, and so I went into the paper trade. I made 6s. or 7s. some days, while the Tower lasted; and 3s. and 4s. other days, when the first polish was off. I sold them mostly at 1d. a piece at first. It was good money then. The Tower was good, or middling good, for from 14 to 20 days. There was at least 100 men working nothing but the Tower. There's no great chance of any more great buildings being burnt; worse luck. People don't care much about private fires. A man in this street don't heed so much who's burnt to death in the next. But the foundation-stone of the new Royal Exchange -fire led to that -was pretty fair, and portraits of Halbert went off, so that it was for two or three days as good as the Tower. Fires is our best friends next to murders, if they're good fires. The hopening of the Coal Exchange was rather tidy. I've been in the streets ever since, and don't see how I could possibly get out of them. At first I felt a great degradation at being driven to the life. I shunned grooms and coachmen, as I might be known to them. I didn't care for others. That sort of feeling wears out though. I'm a widower now, and my family feels, as I did at first, that what I'm doing is ` low.' They won't assist - though they may give me 1s. now and then -but they won't assist me to leave the streets. They'll rather blame me for going into them, though there was only that, or robbing, or starving. The fire at Ben. Caunt's, where the poor children was burnt to hashes, was the best of the private house fires that I've worked, I think. I made 4s. on it one day. He was the champion once, and was away at a fight at the time, and it was a shocking thing, and so people bought."
After the burning of York Minster by Jonathan Martin, I was told by an old hand, the (street) destruction of the best known public buildings in the country was tried; such as Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, the Brighton Pavilion, Edinburgh Castle, or Holyrood House -all known to " travelling" patterers - but the success was not sufficiently encouraging. It was no use, I was told, firing such places as Hampton Court or Windsor Castle, for unless people saw the reflection of a great fire, they wouldn't buy.
OF THE SELLERS OF SECOND EDITIONS.
These " second
editions" are, and almost universally, second or later editions of the
newspapers, morning and evening, but threefourths of the sale may be of the
evening papers, and more especially of the Globe and Standard.
I believe that there is not now in existence - unless it be in a workhouse and unknown to his fellows, or engaged in some other avocation and lost sight of by them -any one who sold " second editions" (the Courier evening paper being then in the greatest demand) at the time of the Duke of York's Walcheren expedition, at the period of the battle of the Nile, during the continuance of the Peninsular war, or even at the battle of Waterloo. There were a few old men -some of whom had been soldiers or sailors, and others who have simulated it -surviving within these 5 or 6 years, and some later, who " worked Waterloo," but they were swept off, I was told, by the cholera.
" I was assured by a gentlemen who had a perfect remembrance of the " second editions" (as they were generally called) sold in the streets, and who had often bought them upwards of forty years ago, that a sketch in the " Monthly Review," in a notice of Scott's " Lord of the Isles" (published in 1815), gave the best notion he had met with of what the second edition sale really was. At the commencement of the sixth canto of his poem, Sir Walter, somewhat too grandiloquently, in the judgment of his reviewer, asks -
" O who, that shared them, ever shall forget The emotions of the spirit-rousing time, When breathless in the mart the couriers met, Early and late, at evening and at prime?"
" Who," in his turn asks the reviewer, " can avoid conjuring up the idea of men with broad sheets of foolscap, scored with ` VICTORIES' rolled round their hats, and horns blowing loud defiance in each other's mouth, from the top to the bottom of Pall-mall or the Haymarket, when he reads such a passage? We actually hear the Park and Tower guns, and the clattering of ten thousand bells, as we read, and stop our ears from the close and sudden intrusion of some hot and horn-fisted patriot, blowing ourselves, as well as Bonaparte to the devil!"
The horn carried by these " horn-fisted" men was a common tin tube, from two to three feet long, and hardly capable of being made to produce any sound beyond a sudden and discordant " trump, trump." The men worked with papers round their hats, in a way not very dissimilar to that of the running patterers of to-day.
The " editions " cried by these men during the war-time often contained spurious intelligence, but for that the editors of the journals were responsible -or the stock-jobbers who had imposed upon them. Any one who has consulted a file of newspapers of the period to which I have referred, will remember how frequent, and how false, were the announcements, or the rumours, of the deaths of Bonaparte, his brothers, or his marshals, in battle or by assassination.
As there was no man who was personally conversant with this traffic in what is emphatically enough called the " war-time," I sought out an old street-patterer who had been acquainted with the older hands in the trade, whose experience stretched to the commencement of the present century, and from him I received the following account:
" Oh, yes," he began, " I've worked ` seconds.' We used to call the editions generally seconds, and cry them sometimes, as the latest editions, whatever it was. There was Jack Griffiths, sir, -now wasn't he a hand at a second edition? I believe you. I do any kind of patter now myself, but I've done tidy on second editions, when seconds was to be had. Why, Jack Griffiths, sir -he'd been a sailor and was fond of talking about the sea -Jack Griffiths -you would have liked to have heard him -Jack told me that he once took 10s. 6d. -it was Hyde Park way -for a second edition of a paper when Queen Caroline's trial was over. Besides Jack, there was Tom Cole, called the Wooden Leg (he'd been a soldier I believe), and Whitechapel, and Old Brummagem, and Hell-fire Jack. Hell-fire Jack was said to be something to a man that was a trainer, and a great favourite of the old Duke of Queensberry, and was called Hell-fire Dick; but I can't say how it was. I began to work second editions, for the first time when George IV. died. They went off pretty well at 1s. a piece, and for three or four I got 2s. 6d. If it's anything good I get 1s. still, but very seldom any more. I always show anybody that asks that the paper is just what I've cried it. There's no regular cry; we cries what's up: ` Here's the second edition of the Globe with the full perticlers of the death of his Majesty King George IV.' We work much in the same way as the running patter. Three of us shouts in the same spot. I was one of three who one night sold five quires, mostly Globe and Standard. It was at the Reform Bill time, and something about the Reform Bill. I never much heeded what the paper was about. I only wanted the patter, and soon got it. A mate, or any of us, looks out for anything good in the evening papers, to be ready. Why that night I speak of I was kept running backards and for'ards to the newspaper offices -and how they does keep you waiting at times! -mostly the Globe and Standard; we worked them all at the West End. There's twenty-seven papers to a quire, and we gave 4d. a piece for 'em and sold none, as well as I mind, for under 1s. I carried them mostly under my arm or in my hat, taking care they wasn't spoiled. Belgravesquare way, and St. George's, Hanover-square way, and Hyde Park way, are the best. The City's no good. There's only sixpences there. The coffee-shops has spoiled the City, as I'm afeard they will other parts. Murders in second editions don't sell now, and aren't tried much, beyond a few, if there's a late verdict. Curviseer (Courvoisier) was tidy. The trial weren't over 'til evening, and I sold six papers, and got 7s. for them, to gentlemen going away by the mail. I've heard that Greenacre was good in the same way, but I wasn't in town at the time. The French Revolution -the last one -was certainly a fairish go. Lewis Fillup was good many ways. When he used to be shot at -if the news weren't too early in the day -and when he got to England, and when he was said to have got back, or to have been taken. Why, of course he wern't to compare with Rush in the regular patter, but he was very fair. I have nothing to say against him, and wish he was alive, and could do it all over again. Lord Brougham's death wern't worth much to us. You remember the time, I dare say, sir, when they said he killed hisself in the papers, to see what folks would say on him. The resignation of a prime minister is mostly pretty good. Lord Melbourne was, and so was Sir Robert Peel. There's always somebody to say, ` Hurra! that's right!' and to buy a paper because he's pleased. I had a red paper in my hat when I worked the French Revolution. French news is generally liked in a fashionable drag. Irish news is no good, for people don't seem to believe it. Smith O'Brien's battle, though, did sell a little. It's not possible to tell you exactly what I've made on seconds. How can I? One week I may have cleared 1l. in them, and for six months before not a blessed brown. Perhaps -as near as I can recollect and calculate -I've cleared 3l. (if that) each year, one with another, in second editions in my time, and perhaps twenty others has done the same."
Another man who also knew the old hands said to me: " Lord bless us, how times is changed! you should have heard Jack Griffiths tell how he cried his gazettes: ` He-ere's the London Gazette Ex-terornary, containing the hof-ficial account of the bloody and decisive wictory of Sally-manker.' Something that way. Patter wern't required then; the things sold theirselves. Why, the other day I was talking to a young chap that conceits hisself to be a hout-and-houter in patter, and I mentions Jack's crying Gazettes and getting 5s. apiece for many a one on 'em, and this young chap says, says he: ` Gazettes! What did they cry Gazettes? -bankrupts, and all that?' ` Bankrupts be blowed!' said I, ` wictories!' I heerd Waterloo cried when I was a little 'un. The speeches on the opening of parliament, which the newspapers has ready, has no sale in the crowd to what they had. I only sold two papers at 6d. each this last go. I ventured on no more, or should have been a loser. If the Queen isn't there, none's sold. But we always has a speech ready, as close as can be got from what the morning papers says. One gent. said to me: ` But that ain't the real speech! ' ` It's a far better,' says I, and so it is. Why now, sir, there's some reading and spirit in this bit. The Queen says:
` It is my determination by the assistance of divine providence to uphold and protect the Protestant Church of the British Empire, which has been enjoyed three hundred years without interuption, the Religion which our ancestors struggled to obtain. And as long as it shall please God to spare me, I will endeavour to maintain the rights and perogatives of our holy Protestant Church. And now my Lords, I leave you to your duties, to the helm of the state, to the harbour of peace, and happiness.' "
This man showed me the street speech, which was on a broad sheet set off with the royal arms. The topics and arrangement were the same as those in the speech delivered by her Majesty.
On Monday morning last (Feb. 24), I asked the man who told me that prime ministers' resignations were " pretty good" for the street traffic, if he had been well remunerated by the sale of the evening papers of Saturday, with the account of Lord John Russell's resignation. " It wern't tried, sir," he answered; "there was nothing new in the evenings, and we thought nobody seemed to care about it. The newspaper offices and their boarders (as he called the men going about with announcements on boards) didn't make very much of it, so we got up a song instead; but it was no good, -not salt to a fresh herring -for there was some fresh herrings in. It was put strong, though. This was the last verse:
` From the House to the Palace it has caused a bother, Old women are tumbling one over another, The Queen says it is with her, one thing or 'tother, They must not discharge Little John; Her Majesty vows that she is not contented, And many ere long will have cause to repent it, Had she been in the house she would nobly resent it, And fought like a brick for Lord John.' "
Adopting the calculation of my first informant, and giving a profit of 150 per cent., we find 150l. yearly expended in the streets, in second editions, or probably it might be more correct to say 200l. in a year of great events, and 50l. in a year when such events are few.
OF THE STANDING PATTERERS.
The standing patterer I have already described in his resemblance to the mountebank of old, and how, like his predecessor, he required a " pitch" and an audience. I need but iterate that these standing patterers are men who remain in one place, until they think they have exhausted the custom likely to accrue there, or until they are removed by the police; and who endeavour to attract attention to their papers, or more commonly pamphlets, either by means of a board with coloured pictures upon it, illustrative of the contents of what they sell, or else by gathering a crowd round about them, in giving a lively or horrible description of the papers or books they are " working." The former is what is usually denominated in street technology, " board work." A few of the standing patterers give street recitations or dialogues.
Some of the " illustrations" most " in vogue" of late for the boards of the standing patteres were, -the flogging of the nuns of Minsk, the blood streaming from their naked shoulders, (anything against the Emperor of Russia, I was told, was a good street subject for a painting); the young girl, Sarah Thomas, who murdered her mistress in Bristol, dragged to the gallows by the turnkeys and Calcraft, the hangman; Calcraft himself, when charged with " starving his mother;" Haynau, in the hands of the draymen; the Mannings, and afterwards the Sloanes. The two last-mentioned were among the most elaborate, each having a series of " compartments," representing the different stages of the events in which those heroes and heroines flourished. I shall speak afterwards of street-artists who are the painters of these boards, and then describe the pictures more fully. There are also, as before alluded to, what may be called " cocks" in street paintings, as well as street literature.
Two of the most favourite themes of the standing patterers were, however, the " Annals of the White House in Soho-square," and the " Mysteries of Mesmerism." Both supplied subjects to the boards.
The White House was a notorious place of ill fame. Some of the apartments, it is said, were furnished in a style of costly luxury; while others were fitted up with springs, traps, and other contrivances, so as to present no appearance other than that of an ordinary room, until the machinery was set in motion. In one room, into which some wretched girl might be introduced, on her drawing a curtain as she would be desired, a skeleton, grinning horribly, was precipitated forward, and caught the terrified creature in his, to all appearance, bony arms. In another chamber the lights grew dim, and then seemed gradually to go out. In a little time some candles, apparently self-ignited, revealed to a horror stricken woman, a black coffin, on the lid of which might be seen, in brass letters, Anne, or whatever name it had been ascertand the poor wretch was known by. A sofa, in another part of the mansion, was made to descend into some place of utter darkness; or, it was alleged, into a room in which was a store of soot or ashes.
Into the truth or exaggeration of these and similar statements, it is not my business to inquire; but the standing patterer made the most of them. Although the house in question has been either rebuilt or altered -I was told that each was the case -and its abominable character has ceased to apply to it for some years, the patterer did not scruple to represent it as still in existence (though he might change the venue as to the square at discretion) and that all the atrocities perpetrated -to which I have not ventured even to allude -were still the ordinary procedures of " high life." Neither did the standing patterer scruple, as one man assured me, to " name names;" to attribute vile deeds to any nobleman or gentleman whose name was before the public; and to embellish his story by an allusion to a recent event. He not unfrequently ended with a moral exhortation to all ladies present to avoid this " abode of iniquity for the rich." The board was illustrated with skeletons, coffins, and other horrors; but neither on it, nor in a hardly intelligible narrative which the patterer sold, was there anything indecent.
The " Mysteries of Mesmerism" was an account of the marvels of that " newly-discovered and most wonderful power in natur and art." With it Dr. Elliotson's, or some well-known name, was usually associated, and any marvel was " pattered," according to the patterer's taste and judgment. The illustrations were of persons, generally women, in a state of coma, but in this also there was no indecency; nor was there in the narrative sold.
Of these two popular exhibitions there are, I am informed, none now in town, and both, I was told, was more the speculations of a printer, who sent out men, than in the hands of the regular patterers.
It may tend somewhat to elucidate the cha racter of the patterers, if I here state, that in my conversation with the whole of them, I heard from their lips strong expressions of disgust at Sloane, -far stronger than were uttered in abhorrence of any murderer. Rush, indeed, was, and is, a popular man among them. One of them told me, that not long before Madame Tussaud's death, he thought of calling upon that " wenerable lady," and asking her, he said, " to treat me to something to drink the immortal memory of Mr. Rush, my friend and her'n."
It is admitted by all concerned in the exercise of street elocution, that " the stander" must have "the best of patter." He usually works alone, -there are very rarely two at standing patter, -and beyond his board he has no adventitious aids, as in the running patter, so that he must be all the more effective; but the board is pronounced " as good as a man." When the standing patterer visits the country, he is accompanied by a mate, and the " copy of werses" is then announced as being written by an " underpaid curate" within a day's walk. " It tells mostly, sir," said one man; " for it's a blessing to us that there always is a journeyman parson what the people knows, and what the patter fits." Sometimes the poetry is attributed to a sister of mercy, or to a popular poetess; very frequently, by the patterers who best understand the labouring classes, to Miss Eliza Cook. Sometimes the verses are written by " a sympathising gent. in that parish," but his name wasn't to be mentioned. Another intelligent patterer whom I questioned on the subject, told me that my information was correct. "It's just the same in the newspapers," he continued; " why the ` sympathising gent.' is the same with us as what in the newspapers is called " other intelligence (about any crime), to publish which might defeat the ends of justice." That means, they know nothing at all about it, and can't so much as venture on a guess. I've known a little about it for the papers, sir, -it doesn't matter in what line."
Some standing patterers are brought up to the business from childhood. Some take to it through loss of character, or through their inability to obtain a situation from intemperate habits, and some because "a free life suits me best." In a former inquiry into a portion of this subject, I sought a standing patterer, whom I found in a threepenny lodging-house in Mintstreet, Southwark. On my inquiring what induced him to adopt, or pursue, that line of life, he said: -
" It was distress that first drove me to it. I had learnt to make willow bonnets, but that branch of trade went entirely out. So, having a wife and children, I was drove to write out a paper that I called `The People's Address to the King on the Present State of the Nation.' I got it printed, and took it into the streets and sold it. I did very well with it, and made 5s. a day while it lasted. I never was brought up to any mechanical trade. My father was a clergyman" [here he cried bitterly]. " It breaks my heart when I think of it. I have as good a wife as ever lived, and I would give the world to get out of my present life. It would be heaven to get away from the place where I am. I am obliged to cheer up my spirits. If I was to give way to it, I shouldn't live long. It's like a little hell to be in the place where we live" [crying], " associated with the ruffians that we are. My distress of mind is awful, but it won't do to show it at my lodgings -they'd only laugh to see me down-hearted; so I keep my trouble all to myself. Oh, I am heartily sick of this street work -the insults I have to put up with -the drunken men swearing at me. Yes, indeed, I am heartily sick of it."
This poor man had some assistance forwarded to him by benevolent persons, after his case had appeared in my letter in the Morning Chronicle. This was the means of his leaving the streets, and starting in the " cloth-cap trade." He seemed a deserving man.
EXPERIENCE OF A STANDING PATTERER.
From one of this body I received, at the period just alluded to, the following information: -
" I have taken my 5s. a day (said my informant); but `paper' selling now isn't half so good as it used to be. People haven't got the money to lay out; for it all depends with the working man. The least we take in a day is, upon an average, sixpence; but taking the good and bad together, I should say we take about 10s. a week. I know there's some get more than that, but then there's many take less. Lately, I know, I haven't taken 9s. a week myself, and people reckon me one of the best patterers in the trade. I'm reckoned to have the gift -that is, the gift of the gab. I never works a last dying speech on any other than the day of execution -all the edge is taken off of it after that. The last dying speeches and executions are all printed the day before. They're always done on the Sunday, if the murderers are to be hung on the Monday. I've been and got them myself on the Sunday night, over and over again. The flying stationers goes with the papers in their pockets, and stand under the drop, and as soon as ever it falls, and long before the breath is out of the body, they begin bawling out." [Here my informant gave a further account of the flying stationers under the gallows, similar to what I have given. He averred that they " invented every lie likely to go down."] " ` Here you have also an exact likeness,' they say, ` of the murderer, taken at the bar of the Old Bailey!' when all the time it is an old wood-cut that's been used for every criminal for the last forty years. I know the likeness that was given of Hocker was the one that was given for Fauntleroy; and the wood-cut of Tawell was one that was given for the Quaker that had been hanged for forgery twenty years before. Thurtell's likeness was done expressly for the ` papers;' and so was the Mannings' and Rush's likenesses too. The murders are bought by men, women, and children. Many of the tradespeople bought a great many of the affair of the Mannings. I went down to Deptford with mine, and did uncommonly well. I sold all off. Gentlefolks won't have anything to do with murders sold in the street; they've got other ways of seeing all about it. We lay on the horrors, and picture them in the highest colours we can. We don't care what's in the ` papers' in our hands. All we want to do is to sell 'em; and the more horrible we makes the affairs, the more sale we have. We do very well with ` loveletters.' They are ` cocks;' that is, they are all fictitious. We give it out that they are from a tradesman in the neighbourhood, not a hundred yards from where we are a-standing. Sometimes we say it's a well-known sporting butcher; sometimes it's a highly respectable publican - just as it will suit the tastes of the neighbourhood. I got my living round Cornwall for one twelvemonth with nothing else than a loveletter. It was headed, ` A curious and laughable love-letter and puzzle, sent by a sporting gentleman to Miss H -s -m, in this neighbourhood;' that suits any place that I may chance to be in; but I always patter the name of the street or village where I may be. This letter, I say, is so worded, that had it fallen into the hands of her mamma or papa, they could not have told what it meant; but the young lady, having so much wit, found out its true meaning, and sent him an answer in the same manner. You have here, we say, the number of the house, the name of the place where she lives (there is nothing of the kind, of course), and the initials of all the parties concerned. We dare not give the real names in full, we tell them; indeed, we do all we can to get up the people's curiosity. I did very well with the ` Burning of the House of Commons.' I happened by accident to put my pipe into my pocket amongst some of my papers, and burnt them. Then, not knowing how to get rid of them, I got a few straws. I told the people that my burnt papers were parliamentary documents that had been rescued from the flames, and that, as I dare not sell them, I would let them have a straw for a penny, and give them one of the papers. By this trick I got rid of my stock twice as fast, and got double the price that I should have done. The papers had nothing at all to do with the House of Commons. Some was ` Death and the Lady,' and ` Death and the Gentleman,' and others were the ` Political Catechism,' and 365 lies, Scotch, English, and Irish, and each lie as big round as St. Paul's. I remember a party named Jack Straw, who laid a wager, half-a-gallon of beer, that he'd bring home the money for two dozen blank papers in one hour's time. He went out into the Old-streetroad, and began a patter about the political affairs of the nation, and Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke of Wellington, telling the public that he dared not sell his papers, they were treasonable; so he gave them with a straw -that he sold for one penny. In less than the hour he was sold clean out, and returned and drank the beer. The chief things that I work are quarter-sheets of recitations and dialogues. One is ` Good Advice to Young Men on Choosing their Wives.' I have done exceedingly well with that -it's a good moral thing. Another is the ` Drunkard's Catechism;' another is `The Rent Day; or, the Landlord gathering his Rents.' This is a dialogue between the landlord and his tenant, beginning with ` Good morning, Mrs. Longface; have you got my rent ready, ma'am?' The next one is `The Adventures of Larry O' Flinn.' It's a comic story, and a very good got-up thing. Another is ` A Hint to Husbands and Wives;' and ` A Pack of Cards turned into a Bible, a Prayer-book, and an Almanack.' These cards belonged to Richard Middleton, of the 60th regiment of foot, who was taken a prisoner for playing at cards in church during divine service. But the best I do is ` The Remarkable Dream of a Young Man of loose character, who had made an agreement to break into a gentleman's house at twelve at night on Whitsum Monday, but, owing to a little drink that he took, he had a remarkable dream, and dreamed he was in hell. The dream had such influence on his mind that he refused to meet his comrade. His comrade was taken up for the burglary, found guilty, and executed for it. This made such an impression on the young man's mind that he became a reformed character.' There is a very beautiful description of hell in this paper," said my informant, " that makes it sell very well among the old women and the apprentice lads, for the young man was an apprentice himself. It's all in very pretty poetry, and a regular ` cock.' The papers that I work chiefly are what are called ` the standing patters;' they're all of 'em stereotype, and some of them a hundred years old. We consider the ` death hunters' are the lowest grade in the trade. We can make most money of the murders while they last, but they don't last, and they merely want a good pair of lungs to get them off. But it's not every one, sir, that can work the standing patters. Many persons I've seen try at it and fail. One old man I knew tried the ` Drunkard's Catechism' and the ` Soldier's Prayer-book and Bible.' He could manage to patter these because they'll almost work themselves; but ` Old Mother Clifton' he broke down in. I heard him do it in Sun-street and in the Blackfriars-road; but it was such a dreadful failure -he couldn't humour it a bit -that, thinks I to myself, you'll soon have to give up, and sure enough he's never been to the printer's since. He'd a very poor audience, chiefly boys and girls, and they were laughing at him because he made so many blunders in it. A man that's never been to school an hour can go and patter a dying speech or ` A Battle between Two Ladies of Fortune.' They require no scholarship. All you want is to stick a picture on your hat, to attract attention, and to make all the noise you can. It's all the same when they does an ` Assassination of Louis Philippe,' or a ` Diabolical Attempt on the Life of the Queen' -a good stout pair of lungs and plenty of impudence is all that is required. But to patter ` Bounce, the Workhouse Beadle, and the Examination of the Paupers before the Poorlaw Commissioners,' takes a good head-piece and great gift of the gab, let me tell you. It's just the same as a play-actor. I can assure you I often feel very nervous. I begin it, and walk miles before I can get confidence in myself to make the attempt. I got rid of two quire last night. I was up among the gentlemen's servants in Crawford-street, Baker-street, and I had a very good haul out of the grown-up people. I cleared 1s. 8d. altogether. I did that from seven till nine in the evening. It's all chancework. If it's fine, and I can get a crowd of grown-up people round me, I can do very well, but I can't do anything amongst the boys. There's very little to be done in the day-time. I begin at ten in the day, and stop out till one. After that I starts off again at five, and leaves off about ten at night. Marylebone, Paddington, and Westminster I find the best places. The West-end is very good the early part of the week, for any thing that's genteel, such as the ` Rich Man and his Wife quarrelling because they have no Family.' Our customers there are principally the footmen, the grooms, and the maidservants. The east end of the town is the best on Friday and Saturday evenings. I very often go to Limehouse on Friday evening. Most part of the dock-men are paid then, and anything comic goes off well among them. On Saturdays I go to the New-cut, Ratcliff-highway, the Brill, and such places. I make mostly 2s. clear on a Saturday night. After nineteen years' experience of the patter and paper line in the streets, I find that a foolish nonsensical thing will sell twice as fast as a good moral sentimental one; and, while it lasts, a good murder will cut out the whole of them. It's the best selling thing of any. I used at one time to patter religious tracts in the street, but I found no encouragement. I did the ` Infidel Blacksmith' -that would not sell. `What is Happiness? a Dialogue between Ellen and Mary' -that was no go. No more was the ` Sorrows of Seduction.' So I was driven into the comic standing patters."
The more recent " experiences" of standing patterers, as they were detailed to me, differ so little in subject, or anything else, from what I have given concerning running patterers, that to cite them would be a repetition.
From the best information to be obtained, I have no doubt that there are always at least 20 standing patterers -sometimes they are called " boardmen" -at work in London. Some of them " run" occasionally, but an equal number or more, of the regular " runners" resort now and then to the standing patter, so the sum is generally kept up.
Notwithstanding the drawbacks of bad weather, which affects the standing, and does not affect the running, patterer; and notwithstanding the more frequent interruptions of the police, I am of opinion that the standing patterer earns on an average 1s. a week more than his running brother. His earnings too are often all his own; whereas the runners are a ` school,' and, their gains divided. More running patterers become, on favourable occasions, stationery, with boards, perhaps in the proportion of five to four, than the stationary become itinerant. One standing patterer told me, that, during the excitement about the Sloanes, he cleared full 3s. a day for more than a week; but at other times he had cleared only 1s. 6d. in a whole week, and he had taken nothing when the weather was too wet for the standing work, and there was nothing up to " run" with.
If, then, 20 standing patterers clear 10s. weekly, each, the year through -" taking" 15s. weekly -we find that 780l. is yearly expended in the standing patter of London streets.
The capital required for the start of the standing is greater than that needed by the running patterer. The painting for a board costs 3s. 6d.; the board and pole, with feet, to which it is attached, 5s. 6d.; and stock-money, 2s.; in all, 11s.
OF POLITICAL LITANIES, DIALOGUES, ETC.
To " work a
litany" in the streets is considered one of the higher exercises of
professional skill on the part of the patterer. In working this, a clever
patterer -who will not scruple to introduce anything out of his head which may
strike him as suitable to his audience -is very particular in his choice of a
mate, frequently changing his ordinary partner, who may be good " at a
noise" or a ballad, but not have sufficient acuteness or intelligence to
patter politics as if he understood what he was speaking about. I am told that
there are not twelve patterers in London whom a critical professor of street
elocution will admit to be capable of ` working a catechism' or a litany. "
Why, sir," said one patterer, " I've gone out with a mate to work a
litany, and he's humped it in no time." To ` hump,' in street parlance, is
equivalent to ` botch,' in more genteel colloquialism. " And when a thing's
humped," my informant continued, " you can only ` call a go.' "
To ` call a go,' signifies to remove to another spot, or adopt some other
patter, or, in short, to resort to some change or other in consequence of a
An elderly man, not now in the street trade, but who had " pattered off a few papers" some years ago, told me that he had heard three or four old hands -" now all dead, for they're a short-lived people" -talk of the profits gained and the risk ran by giving Hone's parodies on the Catechism, Litany, St. Athanasius' Creed, &c. in the streets, after the three consecutive trials and the three acquittals of Hone had made the parodies famous and Hone popular. To work them in the strcets was difficult, " for though," said my informant, " there was no new police in them days, there was plenty of officers and constables ready to pull the fellows up, and though Hone was acquitted, a beak that wanted to please the high dons, would find some way of stopping them that sold Hone's things in the street, and so next to nothing could be done that way, but a little was done." The greatest source of profit, I learned from the reminiscences of the same man, was in the parlours and tap-rooms of public-houses, where the patterers or reciters were well paid " for going through their catechisms," and sometimes, that there might be no interruption, the door was locked, and even the landlord and his servants excluded. The charge was usually 2d. a copy, but 1d. was not refused.
During Queen Caroline's trial there were the like interruptions and hindrances to similar performances; and the interruptions continued during the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill until about the era of the Reform Bill, and then the hindrance was but occasional. " And perhaps it was our own fault, sir," said one patterer, " that we was then molested at all in the dialogues and catechisms and things; but we was uncommon bold, and what plenty called sarcy, at that time: we was so."
Thus this branch of a street profession continued to be followed, half surreptitiously, until after the subsidence of the political ferment consequent on the establishment of a new franchise and the partial abolition of an old one. The calling, however, has never been popular among street purchasers, and I believe that it is sometimes followed by a street-patterer as much from the promptings of the pride of art as from the hope of gain.
The street-papers in the dialogue form have not been copied nor derived from popular productions -but even in the case of Political Litanies and Anti-Corn-law Catechisms and Dialogues are the work of street authors.
One intelligent man tole me, that properly to work a political litany, which referred to ecclesiastical matters, he " made himself up," as well as limited means would permit, as a bishop! and " did stunning, until he was afraid of being stunned on skilly." Of the late papers on the subject of the Pope, I cite the one which was certainly the best of all that appeared, and concerning which indignant remonstrances were addressed to some of the newspapers. The " good child" in the patter, was a tall bulky man; the examiner (also the author), was rather diminutive: -
" The old English Bull John v. the Pope's Bull of of Rome.
" My good Child as it is necessary at this very important crisis; when, that good pious and very reasonable old gentleman Pope Pi-ass the nineth has promised to favor us with his presence, and the pleasures of Popery -and trampled on the rights and privilages which, we, as Englishmen, and Protestants, have engaged for these last three hundred years - Since Bluff, king Hal. began to take a dislike to the broad brimmed hat of the venerable Cardinal Wolsey, and proclaimed himself an heretic; It is necessary I say, for you, and all of you, to be perfect in your Lessons so as you may be able to verbly chastize this saucy prelate, his newly made Cardinal Foolishman, and the whole host of Puseites and protect our beloved Queen, our Church, and our Constitution.
" Q. Now my boy can you tell me what is your Name?
" A. B -Protestant.
" Q. How came you by that name?
" A. At the time of Harry the stout, when Popery was in a galloping consumption the people protested against the surpremacy and instalence of the Pope; and his Colleges had struck deep at the hallow tree of superstition I gained the name of Protestant, and proud am I, and ever shall be to stick to it till the day of my death.
" Let us say.
" From all Cardinals whether wise or foolish. Oh! Queen Spare us.
" Spare us, Oh Queen.
" From the pleasure of the Rack, and the friendship of the kind hearted officers of the Inquisition. Oh! Johnny hear us.
" Oh! Russell hear us.
" From the comforts of being frisled like a devil'd kindney. Oh! Nosey save us.
" Hear us Oh Arthur.
" From such saucy Prelates, as Pope Pi-ass. Oh! Cumming's save us.
" Save us good Cumming.
" And let us have no more Burnings in smithfield, no more warm drinks in the shape of boiled oil, or, molten lead, and send the whole host of Pusyites along with the Pope, Cardinals to the top of mount Vesuvius there to dine off of hot lava, so that we may live in peace & shout long live our Queed, and No Popery!"
For some pitches the foregoing was sufficient, for a street auditory " hates too long a patter;" but where a favourable opportunity offered, easily tested by the pecuniary beginnings, the " Lesson of the Day" was given in addition, and was inserted after the second " Answer" in the foregoing parody, so preceding the " Let us say:"
" The Lesson of the Day.
" You seem an intelligent lad, so I think you are quite capable of Reading with me-the Lessons for this day's service.
" Now the Lesson for the day is taken from all parts of the Book of Martyr's, beginning at just where you like.
" It was about the year 1835, that a certain renagade of the name of Pussy -I beg his pardon, I mean Pusey, like a snake who stung his master commenced crawling step by step, from the master; he was bound to serve to worship a puppet, arrayed in a spangle and tincel of a romish showman.
" And the pestelance that he shed around spread rapidly through the minds of many unworthy members of our established Church; even up to the present year, 1850, inasmuch that St Barnabus, of Pimlico, unable to to see the truth by the aid of his occulars, mounted four pounds of long sixes in the mid-day, that he might see through the fog of his own folly, by which he was surrounded.
" And Pope Pi-ass the nineth taking advantage of the hubub, did create unto himself a Cardinal in the person of one Wiseman of Westminster.
" And Cardinal broadbrim claimed four counties in England as his dioces, and his master the Pope claimed as many more as his sees, but the people of England could not see that, so they declared aloud they would see them blowed first.
" So when Jack Russell heard of his most impudent intentions, he sent him a Letter saying it was the intention of the people of England never again to submit to their infamous mumerys for the burnings in Smithfield was still fresh in their memory.
" And behold great meetings were held in different parts of England where the Pope was burnt in effigy, like unto a Yarmouth Bloater, as a token of respect for him and his followers.
" And the citizens of London were stanch to a man, and assembled together in the Guildhall of our mighty City and shouted with stentarian lungs, long live the Queen and down with the Pope, the sound of which might have been heard even unto the vatican of Rome.
" And when his holyness the Pope heard that his power was set at naught, his nose became blue even as a bilberry with rage and declared Russell and Cummings or any who joined in the No Popery cry, should ever name the felisity of kissing his pious great toe.
" Thus Endeth the Lesson."
In the course of my inquiries touching this subject I had more than once occasion to observe that an acute patterer had always a reason, or an excuse for anything. One quick-witted Irishman, whom I knew to be a Roman Catholic, was " working" a " patter against the Pope," (not the one I have given), and on my speaking to him on the subject, and saying that I supposed he did it for a living, he replied: " That's it then, sir. You're right, sir, yes. I work it just as a Catholic lawyer would plead against a Catholic paper for a libel on Protestants - though in his heart he knew the paper was right -and a Protestant lawyer would defend the libel hammer and tongs. Bless you, sir, you'll not find much more honour that way among us (laughing) than among them lawyers; not much." The readiness with which the sharpest of those men plead the doings not only of tradesmen, but of the learned and sacred professions, to justify themselves, is remarkable.
Sometimes a dialogue is of a satirical nature. One man told me that the " Conversation between Achilles and the Wellington Statue," of which I give the concluding moiety, was " among the best," (he meant for profit), " but no great thing." My informant was Achilles -or, as he pronounced it, Atchilees -and his mate was the statue, or " man on the horse." The two lines, in the couplet form, which precede every two paragraphs of dialogue, seem as if they represent the speakers wrongfully. The answer should be attributed, in each case, to Achilles.
" The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.
" Little man of little mind havn't I now got iron blinds, and bomb-proof rails when danger assails, a cunning devised job, to keep out an unruly mob, with high and ambitious views and remarkable queer shoes; I say, Old Nakedness, I say, come and see my frontage over the way, but I believe you can't get out after ten!
" No, you're as near where you are as at Quatre Bras, I hear a great deal what the public think and feel, plain as the nose on your face, we're deemed a national disgrace; they grumble at your high-ness, and at my want of shyness, and say many unpleasant things of Ligny and Marchienne!
" The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.
" Ah! its a few days since the Nive, where Soult found me all alive, and the grand toralloo I made at Bordeaux; wasn't I in a nice mess, when Boney left Elba and left no address, besides 150 other jobs with the chill off I could bring to view.
" But then people will say, poor unfortunate Ney, and that you were dancing at a ball, and not near Hogumont at all, and that the job of St. Helena might have been done rather cleaner, and it was a shameful go to send Sir Hudson Lowe, and that you took particular care of No. 1, at Waterloo.
" The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles And 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse.
" Why flog 'em and 'od 'rot em, who said ` Up Guards and at 'em!" and you know that nice treat I received in Downing Street when hooted by a thousand or near, defended by an old grenadier, so no whopping I got, good luck to his old tin pot, oh! there's a deal of brass in me I'll allow.
" Its prophecied you'll break down, they're crying it about town, and many jokes are past, that you're brought to the scaffold at last, and they say I look black, because I've no shirt to my back, and its getting broad daylight, I vow!
" The hoarse voice it came from the statue of Achilles But 'twas answer'd thus by the man on the horse. " H. V. HOOKER."
Of parodies other than the sort of compound of the Litany and other portions of the Church Service, which I have given, there are none in the streets -neither are there political duets. Such productions as parodies on popular songs, " Cab! cab! cab!" or " Trip! trip! trip!" are now almost always derived, for street-service, from the concert-rooms. But they relate more immediately to ballads, or street song; and not to patter.
OF " COCKS," ETC.
These " literary
forgeries," if so they may be called, have already been alluded to under
the head of the " Death and Fire Hunters," but it is necessary to give
a short account of a few of the best and longest know nof those stereotyped; no
new cocks, except for an occasion, have been printed for some years.
One of the stereotyped cocks is, the "Married Man Caught in a Trap." One man had known it sold " for years and years," and it served, he said, when there was any police report in the papers about sweethearts in coal-cellars, &c. The illustration embraces two compartments. In one a severe-looking female is assaulting a man, whose hat has been knocked off by the contents of a water-jug, which a very stout woman is pouring on his head from a window. In the other compartment, as if from an adjoining room, two women look on encouragingly. The subject matter, however, is in no accordance with the title or the embellishment. It is a love-letter from John S -n to his most " adorable Mary." He expresses the ardour of his passion, and then twits his adored with something beyond a flirtation with Robert E -, a " decoyer of female innocence." Placably overlooking this, however, John S -n continues: -
" My dearest angel consent to my request, and keep me no longer in suspense -nothing, on my part, shall ever be wanting to make you happy and comfortable. My apprenticeship will expire in four months from hence, when I intend to open a shop in the small ware line, and your abilities in dress-making and self-adjusting stay-maker, and the assistance of a few female mechanics, we shall be able to realize an independency."
" Many a turn in seductions talked about in the papers and not talked about nowhere," said one man, " has that slum served for, besides other things, such as love-letters, and confessions of a certain lady in this neighbourhood."
Another old cock is headed, " Extraordinary and Funny Doings in this Neighbourhood." The illustration is a young lady, in an evening dress, sitting with an open letter in her hand, on a sort of garden-seat, in what appears to be a churchyard. After a smart song, enforcing the ever-neglected advice that people should " look at home and mind their own business," are two letters, the first from R. G.; the answer from S. H. M. The gentleman's epistle commences: -
" The love and tenderness I have hitherto expressed for you is false, and I now feel that my indifference towards you increases every day, and the more I see you the more you appear ridiculous in my eyes and contemptible - I feel inclined & in every respect disposed & determined to hate you. Believe me, I never had any inclination to offer you my hand."
The lady responds in a similar strain, and the twain appear very angry, until a foot-note offers an explanation: " By reading every other line of the above letters the true meaning will be found."
Of this class of cocks I need cite no other specimens, but pass on to one of another species -the " Cruel and Inhuman Murder Committed on the Body of Capt. Lawson." The illustration is a lady, wearing a coronet, stabbing a gentleman, in full dress, through the top button of his waistcoat. The narrative commences: -
" WITH surprise we have learned that this neighbourhood for a length of time was amazingly alarmed this day by a crowd of people carrying the body of Mr. James Lawless, to a doctor while streams of blood besmeared the way in such a manner that the cries of Murder re-echoed the sound of numerous voices. It appears that the cause of alarm, originated through a court-ship attended with a solemn promise of mar riage between him and miss Lucy Guard, a handsome young Lady of refined feelings with the intercourse of a superior enlightened mind she lived with her aunt who spared neither pain nor cost to improve the talents of miss G. those seven years past, since the death of her mother in Ludgate Hill, London, and bore a most excellent character until she got entangled by the delumps alcurement of Mr. L."
The writer then deplores Miss Guard's fall from virtue, and her desertion by her betrayer, " on account of her fortune being small." Capt. Lawson, or Mr. James Lawless, next woos a wealthy City maiden, and the banns are published. What follows seems to me to be a rather intricate detail: -
" We find that the intended bride learned that Miss Guard, held certain promissory letters of his, and that she was determined to enter an action against him for a breach of promise, which moved clouded Eclipse over the extacy of the variable miss Lawless who knew that Miss G had Letters of his sufficient to substantiate her claims in a court."
Lawson visits Miss Guard to wheedle her out of his letters, but " she drew a large carving-knife and stabbed him under the left breast." At the latest account the man was left without hope of recovery, while " the valiant victress" was " ordered to submit to judicial decorum in the nineteenth year of her age." The murders and other atrocities for which this " cock" has been sponsor, are -I was informed emphatically -a thundering lot!
I conclude with another cock, which may be called a narrative " on a subject," as we have " ballads on a subject" (afterwards to be described), but with this difference, that the narrative is fictitious, and the ballad must be founded on a real event, however embellished. The highest newspaper style, I was told, was aimed at. Part of the production reads as if it had done service during the Revolution of February, 1848.
" Express from Paris. Supposed Death of LOUIS NAPOLEON. We stop the press to announce, That Luis Napoleon has been assasinated, by some it is said he is shot dead, by others that he is only wounded in the right arm.
" We have most important intelligence from Paris. That capital is in a state of insurrection. The vivacious people, who have herefore defeated the goverment by paving-stones, have again taken up those missiles. On Tuesday the Ministers forbade the reform banquet, and the prefect of police published a proclamation warning the people to respect the laws, which he declared were violated, and he meant to enforce them. But the people dispised the proclama tion and rejected his authority. They assembled in great multitudes round the Chambers of Deputies, and forced their way over the walls. They were attacked by the troops and dispersed, but, re-assembled in various quarters. They showed their hatred of M. Guizot by demolishing his windows and attempting to force an entrance into his hotel, but were again repulced by the troops. All the military in Paris, and all the National Guard, have been summoned to arms, and every preparation made on the part of the government to put down the people.
" The latter have raised barricades in various places, and have unpaved the streets, overturned omnibusses, and made preparations for a vigorous assault, or a protracted resistance.
" Five o'Clock -At this momont the Rue St. Honore is blockaded by a detachment dragoons, who fill the market-place near the Rue des Petits Champs, and are charging the people sword in hand, carriages full of deople are being taken to the hospitals.
" In fact the maddest excitement reigns throughout the capital.
" Half past Six. -During the above we have instituted enquiries at the Foreign office, they have not received any inteligence of the above report, if it has come, it must have been by pigeon express. We have not given the above in our columns with a view of its authenticity, any further information as soon as obtained shall be immediately announced to the public."
OF " STRAWING."
I have already alluded
to " strawing," which can hardly be described as quackery. It is
rather a piece of mountebankery. Many a quack -confining the term to its most
common signification, that of a " quack doctor" -has faith in the
excellence of his own nostrums, and so proffers that which he believes to be
curative: the strawer, however, sells what he knows is not what he represents
The strawer offers to sell any passer by in the streets a straw and to give the purchaser a paper which he dares not sell. Accordingly as he judges of the character of his audience, so he intimates that the paper is political, libellous, irreligious, or indecent.
I am told that as far back as twenty-five or twenty-six years, straws were sold, but only in the country, with leaves from the Republican, a periodical published by Carlile, then of Fleetstreet, which had been prosecuted by the government; but it seems that the trade died away, and was little or hardly known again until the time of the trial of Queen Caroline, and then but sparingly. The straw sale reached its highest commercial pitch at the era of the Reform Bill. The most successful trader in the article is remembered among the patterers as " Jack Straw," who was oft enough represented to me as the original strawer. If I inquired further, the answer was: " He was the first in my time." This Jack Straw was, I am told, a fine-looking man, a natural son of Henry Hunt, the blacking manufacturer. He was described to me as an inveterate drunkard and a very reckless fellow. One old hand was certain that this man was Hunt's son, as he himself had " worked" with him, and was sometimes sent by him when he was " in trouble," or in any strait, to 32, Broadwall, Blackfriars, for assistance, which was usually rendered. (This was the place where Hunt's " Matchless Blacking" and " Roasted Corn" were vended.) Jack Straw's principal " pitch" was at Hyde Park Corner, " where," said the man whom I have mentioned as working with him, "he used to come it very strong against Old Nosey, the Hyde Park bully as he called him. To my knowledge he's made 10s., and he's made 15s. on a night. O, it didn't matter to him what he sold with his straws, religion or anything. There was no three-pennies ( threepenny newspapers) then, and he had had a gentleman's education, and knew what to say, and so the straws went off like smoke." The articles which this man " durst not sell" were done up in paper, so that no one could very well peruse them on the spot, as a sort of stealth was implied. On my asking Jack Straw's coworker if he had ever drank with him, " Drank with him!" he answered, " Yes, many a time. I've gone out and pattered, or chaunted, or anything, to get money to buy him two glasses of brandy -and good brandy was very dear then -before he could start, for he was all of a tremble until he had his medicine. If I couldn't get brandy, it was the best rum, 'cause he had all the tastes of a gentleman. Ah! he's been bead some years, sir, but where he died I don't know. I only heard of his death. He was a nice kindly fellow."
The ruse in respect of strawing is not remarkable for its originality. It was an old smuggler's trick to sell a sack and give the keg of contraband spirit placed within it and padded out with straw so as to resemble a sack of corn. The hawkers, prior to 1826, when Mr. Huskisson introduced changes into the Silk Laws, gave " real Ingy handkerchiefs" (sham) to a customer, and sold him a knot of tape for about 4s. The price of a true Bandana, then prohibited, and sold openly in the draper's shops, was about 8s. The East India Company imported about a million of Bandanas yearly; they were sold by auction for exportation to Hamburgh, &c., at about 4s. each, and were nearly all smuggled back again to England, and disposed of as I have stated.
It is not possible to give anything like statistics as to the money realised by strawing. A well-informed man calculated that when the trade was at its best, or from 1832 to 1836, there might be generally fifty working it in the country and twenty in London; they did not confine themselves, however, to strawing, but resorted to it only on favourable opportunities. Now there are none in London -their numbers diminished gradually -and very rarely any in the country.
OF THE SHAM INDECENT STREET-TRADE.
This is one of those
callings which are at once repulsive and ludicrous; repulsive, when it is
considered under what pretences the papers are sold, and ludicrous, when the
disappointment of the gulled purchaser is contemplated.
I have mentioned that one of the allurements held out by the strawer was that his paper -the words used by Jack Straw -could "not be admitted into families." Those following the "sham indecent trade" for a time followed his example, and professed to sell straws and give away papers; but the London police became very observant of the sale of straws -more especially under the pretences alluded to -and it has, for the last ten years, been rarely pursued in the streets.
The plan now adopted is to sell the sealed packet itself, which the "patter" of the streetseller leads his auditors to believe to be some improper or scandalous publication. The packet is some coloured paper, in which is placed a portion of an old newspaper, a Christmas carol, a religious tract, or a slop-tailor's puff (given away in the streets for the behoof of another class of gulls). The enclosed paper is, however, never indecent.
From a man who had, not long ago, been in this trade, I had the following account. He was very anxious that nothing should be said which would lead to a knowledge that he was my informant. After having expressed his sorrow that he had ever been driven to this trade from distress, he proceeded to justify himself. He argued -and he was not an ignorant man -that there was neither common sense nor common justice in interfering with a man like him, who, "to earn a crust, pretended to sell what shopkeepers, that must pay church and all sorts of rates, sold without being molested." The word "shopkeepers" was uttered with a bitter emphasis. There are, or were, he continued, shops -for he seemed to know them all -and some of them had been carried on for years, in which shameless publications were not only sold, but exposed in the windows; and why should he be considered a greater offender than a shopkeeper, and be knocked about by the police? There are, or lately were, he said, such shops in the Strand, Fleet-street, a court off Ludgate-hill, Holborn, Drury-lane, Wych-street, the courts near Drury-lane Theatre, Haymarket, Highstreet, Bloomsbury, St. Martin's-court, May's buildings, and elsewhere, to say nothing of Holywell-street! Yet he must be interfered with!
[I may here remark, that I met with no street-sellers who did not disbelieve, or affect to disbelieve, that they were really meddled with by the police for obstructing the thoroughfare. They either hint, or plainly state, that they are removed solely to please the shop-keepers. Such was the reiterated opinion, real or pretended, of my present informant.]
I took a statement from this man, but do not care to dwell upon the subject. The trade, in the form I have described, had been carried on, he thought, for the last six years. At one time, 20 men followed it; at present, he believed there were only 6, and they worked only at intervals, and as opportunities offered: some going out, for instance, to sell almanacs or memorandum books, and, when they met with a favourable chance, offering their sealed packets. My informant's customers were principally boys, young men, and old gentlemen; but old gentlemen chiefly when the trade was new. This street-seller's "great gun," as he called it, was to make up packets, as closely resembling as he could accomplish it, those which were displayed in the windows of any of the shops I have alluded to. He would then station himself at some little distance from one of those shops, and, if possible, so as to encounter those who had stopped to study the contents of the window, and would represent -broadly enough, he admitted, when he dared -that he could sell for 6d. what was charged 5s., or 2s. 6d., or whatever price he had seen announced, "in that very neighbourhood." He sometimes ventured, also, to mutter something, unintelligibly, about the public being imposed upon! On one occasion, he took 6s. in the street in about two hours. On another evening he took 4s. 8d. in the street and was called aside by two old gentlemen, each of whom told him to come to an address given (at the West-end), and ask for such and such initials. To one he sold two packets for 2s.; to the other, five packets, each 1s. -or 11s. 8d. in one evening. The packets were in different coloured papers, and had the impressions of a large seal on red wax at the back; and he assured the old gents., as he called them, one of whom, he thought, was "silly," that they were all different. "And very likely," he said, chucklingly, "they were different; for they were made out of a lot of missionary tracts and old newspapers that I got dirt cheap at a `waste' shop. I should like to have seen the old gent.'s face, as he opened his 5s. worth, one after another!" This trade, however, among old gentlemen, was prosperous for barely a month: "It got blown then, sir, and they wouldn't buy any more, except a very odd one."
This man -and he believed it was the same with all the others in the trade -never visited the public-houses, for a packet would soon have been opened and torn there, which, he said, people was ashamed to do in the public streets. As well as he could recollect, he had never sold a single packet to a girl or a woman. Drunken women of the town had occasionally made loud comments on his calling, and offered
to purchase; but on such occasions, fearful of a disturbance, he always hurried away.
I have said that the straw trade is now confined to the country, and I give a specimen of the article vended there, by the patterer in the sham indecent trade. It was purchased of a man, who sold it folded in the form of a letter, and is addressed, "On Royal Service. By Express. Private. To Her Royal Highness, Victoria, Princess Royal. Kensington Palace, London. Entered at Stationer's Hall." The man who sold it had a wisp of straw round his neck, and introduced his wares with the following patter:
"I am well aware that many persons here present will say what an absurd idea -the idea of selling straws for a halfpenny each, when there are so many lying about the street; but the reason is simply this: I am not allowed by the authorities to sell these papers, so I give them away and sell my straws. There are a variety of figures in these papers for gentlemen; some in the bed, some on the bed, some under the bed." The following is a copy of the document thus sold: -
"Bachelors or Maidens, Husbands and Wives, Will love each other and lead happy lives; If both these Letters to read are inclined, Secrets worth knowing therein they will find.
"Dated from the Duchy of Coburg. "My Dearest Victoria,
"Your adored Lover, "ALBERT, "Prince of Coburg."
On the back of this page is the following cool initiation of the purchaser into the mysteries of the epistle:
"Directions for the purchasers to understand the Royal Love Letters, and showing them how to practise the art of Secret Letter Writing: -
"Proceed to lay open `Albert's Letter' by the side of `Victoria's,' and having done so, then look carefully down them until you have come to a word at the left hand corner, near the end of each Letter, having two marks thus --, when you must commence with that word, and read from left to right after you have turned them bottom upwards before a looking glass so that you may peruse the copy reflected therein. But you must notice, throughout all the words every other letter is upside down, also every other word single; but the next two words being purposely joined together, therefore they are double; and in addition to those letters placed upside down, makes it more mysterious in the reading. The reader is recommended to copy each word in writing, when he will be able to read the letters forward, and after a little practice he can soon learn to form all his words in the same curious manner, when he wants to write a `secret letter.'
"Be sure when holding it up side down before a looking-glass, that the light of a candle, is placed between then by the reflection it will show much plainer, and be sooner discovered.
"If you intend to practise a Joke and make it answer the purpose of a Valentine, write what you think necessary on the adjoining blank page; then post it, with the superscription filled up in this manner: -After the word To, write the name and address of the party also place the word FROM before `VICTORIA'S' name: then the address on the outside of this letter will read somewhat after the following fashion: -To Mr. or Mrs. so and so, (with the number if any,) in such and such a street: at the same time your letter will appear as if it came from Royalty.
"N.B. You must first buy both the letters, as the other letter is an answer to this one; and because, without the reader has got both letters, he will not have the secrets perfect."
Notwithstanding the injunction to buy both letters, and the seeming necessity of having both to understand the "directions," the patterer was selling only the one I have given.
That the trade in sham indecent publications was, at one time, very considerable, and was not unobserved by those who watch, as it is called, "the signs of the times," is shown by the circumstance that the Anti-Corn-Law League paper, called the Bread Basket, could only be got off by being done up in a sealed packet, and sold by patterers as a pretended improper work.
The really indecent trade will be described hereafter.
For a month my informant thought he had cleared 35s. a week; for another month, 20s.; and as an average, since that time, from 5s. to 7s. 6d. weekly, until he discontinued the trade. It is very seldom practised, unless in the evening, and perhaps only one street-seller depends entirely upon it.
Supposing that 6 men last year each cleared 6s. weekly, we find upwards of 93l. expended yearly in the streets on this rubbish.
The capital required to start in the business is 6d. or 1s., to be expended in paper, paste, and sometimes sealing-wax.
OF RELIGIOUS TRACT SELLERS.
The sellers of
religious tracts are now, I am informed, at the least, about 50, but they were
at one time, far more numerous. When penny books were few and very small,
religious tracts were by far the cheapest things in print. It is common,
moreover, for a religious society, or an individual, to give a poor person,
children especially, tracts for sale. A great many tract sellers, from 25 to 35
years ago, were, or pretended to be, maimed old soldiers or sailors. The traffic
is now in the hands of what may be called an anomalous body of men. More than
one half of the tract sellers are foreigners, such as Malays, Hindoos, and
Negros. Of them, some cannot speak English, and some -who earn a spare
subsistence by selling Christian tracts -are Mahometans, or worshippers of
Bramah! The man whose portrait supplies the daguerreotyped illustration of this
number is unable to speak a word of English, and the absence of an interpreter,
through some accident, prevented his statement being taken at the time
appointed. I shall give it, however, with the necessary details on the subject,
under another head.
With some men and boys, I am informed, tract-selling is but a pretext for begging.
OF A BENEFIT SOCIETY OF PATTERERS.
In the course of my
inquiries, I received an account of an effort made by a body of these people to
provide against sickness, -a step so clearly in the right direction, and perhaps
so little to be expected from the habits of the class, that I feel bound to
notice it. It was called the "Street-sellers' Society;" but as nearly
all the bonâ-fide members (or those who sought benefit from its funds) were
patterers in paper, or ballad-singers, I can most appropriately notice their
The society "sprung up accidental," as it was expressed to me. A few paper-workers were conversing of the desirableness of such an institution, and one of the body suggested a benefit club, which it was at once determined to establish. It was accordingly established between six and seven years ago, and was carried on for about four years. The members varied in number from 40 to 50; but of a proportion of 40, as many as 18 might be tradesmen who were interested in the street-trade, either in supplying the articles in demand for it, or from keeping public-houses resorted to by the fraternity, or any such motive, or who were merely curious to mix in such society. Mr. C -was conductor; Mr. J. H. -(a poet, and the writer of "Black Bess," "the Demon of the Sea," and other things which "took" in the streets), secretary; and a well-known patterer was underconductor, with which office was mixed up the rather onerous duties of a kind of master of the ceremonies on meeting-nights. None of the officers were paid.
The subscription was 2d. a week, and meetings of the members were held once a week. Each member, not an officer, paid ½d. for admission to the fund, and could introduce a visitor, who also paid ½d. No charge was made for the use of the club-room (in a public-house), which was entirely in the control of the members. Every one using bad language, or behaving improperly, was fined ½d., and on a second offence was ejected, and sometimes, if the misbehaviour was gross, on the first. Any one called upon to sing, and refusing, or being unable, was fined ½d., and was liable to be called upon again, and pay another fine. A visitor sometimes, instead of ½d., offered 6d. when fined; but this was not accepted, -only ½d. could be received. The members' wives could and did often accompany their husbands to the meetings; but women of the town, whether introduced by members or not, were not permitted to remain. "They found their way in a few times," said the man who was underconductor to me, "but I managed to work them out without any bother, and without insulting them -God forbid!"
The assistance given was 5s. weekly to sick members, who were not in arrear in their subscriptions. If the man had a family to support, a gathering was made for him, in addition to his weekly allowance, -for the members were averse to "distress the box" (fund). There was no allowance for the burial of a member, but a gathering took place, and perhaps a raffle, to raise funds for a wake (sometimes) and an interment; and during the existence of the society, three members, I was told, were buried that way "comfortably." The subscriptions were paid up regularly enough; "indeed," said a member to me, "if a man earned anything, his mates knew of it: we all know how the cat jumps that way, so he must either pay or be scratched." The members not unfrequently lent each other money to pay up their subscriptions. Fashionable young "swells," I was told, often visited the house, and stayed till 3 or 4 in the morning, but were very seldom in the club-room, which was closed regularly at 12. After that hour, the "swells" who were bent upon seeing life -(and they are a class whom the patterers, on all such occasions, not so very unreasonably consider "fair game" for bamboozling) -could enjoy the society congenial to their tastes or gratifying to their curiosity. On one occasion two policemen were among the visitors, and were on friendly terms enough with the members, some of whom they had seen before.
From the beginning there seems to have been a distrust of one another among the members, but a distrust not invincible or the club would never have been formed. Instead of the "box," or fund (the money being deposited in a box), being allowed to accumulate, so that an investment might be realised, available for any emergency, the fund was divided among the members quarterly, and then the subscription went on anew. The payments, however, fell off. The calling of the members was precarious, their absence in the country was frequent, and so the society ceased to exist, but the members were satisfied that every thing was done honourably.
The purpose to which the funds, on a quarterly division, were devoted, was one not confined to such men as the patterers -to a supper. "None of your light suppers, sir," said a member; "not by no means. And we were too fly to send anybody to market but ourselves. We used to go to Leadenhall, and buy a cut off a sirloin, which was roasted prime, and smelt like a angel. But not so often, for its a dear jint, the bones is heavy. One of the favouritest jints was a boiled leg of mutton with caper trimmings. That is a good supper, -I believe you, my hero."
OF THE ABODES, TRICKS, MARRIAGE, CHARACTER, AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DIFFERENT GRADES OF PATTERERS.
Having now giving an
account of those who may be called the literary patterers (proper), or at any
rate of those who do not deem it vain so to account themselves, because they
"work paper," I proceed to adduce an account of the different grades
of patterers generally, for patter has almost as many divisions as literature.
There is patter pathetic, as from beggars; bouncing, to puff off anything of
little or no value; comic, as by the clowns; descriptive, as in the cases where
the vendor describes, however ornately, what he really sells; religious, as
occasionally by the vendors of tracts; real patter (as it is understood by the
profession) to make a thing believed to be what it is not; classical, as in the
case of the sale of stenographic cards, &c.; and sporting, as in race cards.
The pattering tribe is by no means confined to the traffic in paper, though it may be the principal calling as regards the acuteness of its professors. Among these street-folk are the running and standing patterers (or stationers as they are sometimes, but rarely, styled) -and in these are included, the Death and Fire Hunters of whom I have spoken; Chaunters; Second Edition-sellers; Reciters; Conundrumsellers; Board-workers; Strawers; Sellers of (Sham) Indecent Publications; Street Auctioneers; Cheap Jacks; Mountebanks (quacks); Clowns; the various classes of Showmen; Jugglers; Conjurors; Ring-sellers for wagers; Sovereign-sellers; Corn-curers; Grease-removers; French-polishers; Blacking-sellers; Nostrum-vendors; Fortune-tellers; Oratorical-beggars; Turnpike-sailors; the classes of Lurkers; Stenographic Card-sellers, and the Vendors of Race-cards or lists.
The following accounts have been written for me by the same gentleman who has already described the Religion, Morals, &c., of patterers. He has for some years resided among the class, and has pursued a street calling for his existence. What I have already said of his opportunities of personal observation and of dispassionate judgment I need not iterate.
"I wish," says the writer in question, "in the disclosures I am now about to make concerning the patterers generally, to do more than merely put the public on their guard. I take no cruel delight in dragging forth the follies of my fellow-men. Before I have done with my subject, I hope to draw forth and exhibit some of the latent virtues of the class under notice, many of whom I know to sigh in secret over that one imprudent step (whatever its description), which has furnished the censorious with a weapon they have been but too ready to wield. The first thing for me to do is to give a glance at the habitations of these outcasts, and to set forth their usual conduct, opinions, conversation and amusements. As London ( including the ten mile circle), is the head quarters of lodging-house life, and least known, because most crowded, I shall lift the veil which shrouds the vagrant hovel where the patterer usually resides.
"As there are many individuals in lodginghouses who are not regular patterers or professional vagrants, being rather, as they term themselves, `travellers' (or tramps), so there are multitudes who do not inhabit such houses who really belong to the fraternity, pattering, or vagrant. Of these some take up their abode in what they call `flatty-kens,' that is, houses the landlord of which is not `awake' or `fly' to the `moves' and dodges of the trade; others resort to the regular `padding-kens,' or houses of call for vagabonds; while others -and especially those who have families -live constantly in furnished rooms, and have little intercourse with the `regular' travellers, tramps, or wanderers.
"The medium houses the London vagrant haunts, (for I have no wish to go to extremes either way,) are probably in Westminster, and perhaps the fairest `model' of the `monkry' is the house in Orchard-street -once the residence of royalty -which has been kept and conducted for half a century by the veteran who some fifty years ago was the only man who amused the population with that well-known ditty,
`If I'd as much money as I could tell, I would not cry young lambs to sell.'
Mister (for that is the old man's title) still manufactures lambs, but seldom goes out himself; his sons (obedient and exemplary young men) take the toys into the country, and dispose of them at fairs and markets. The wife of this man is a woman of some beauty and good sound sense, but far too credulous for the position of which she is the mistress.
"So much for the establishment. I have now to deal with the inmates.
"No one could be long an inmate of Mr. -'s without discerning in the motley group persons who had seen better days, and, seated on the same bench, persons who are `seeing' the best days they ever saw. When I took up my abode in the house under consideration, I was struck by the appearance of a middle-aged lady-like woman, a native of Worcester, bred to the glove trade, and brought up in the lap of plenty, and under the high sanction of religious principle. She had evidently some source of mental anguish. I believe it was the conduct of her husband, by whom she had been deserted, and who was living with a woman to whom, it is said, the wife had shown much kindness. By her sat a giant in size, and candour demands that I should say a `giant in sin.' When Navy Jem, as he is called, used to work for his living (it was a long while ago) he drove a barrow at the formation of the Great Western Railway. At present the man lies in bed till mid-day, and when he makes his appearance in the kitchen,
`The very kittens on the hearthThey dare not even play.'
His breakfast embraces all the good things of the season. He divides his delicacies with a silver fork -where did he get it? The mode in which this man obtains a livelihood is at once a mixture and a mystery. His prevailing plan is to waylay gentlemen in the decline of life, and to extort money by threats of accusation and exposure, to which I can do no more than allude. His wife, a notorious shoplifter, is now for the third time `expiating her offences' in Coldbath-fields.
"Next to Navy Jem may be perceived a little stunted woman, of pretended Scotch, but really Irish extraction, whose husband has died in the hospital for consumption at least as many times as the hero of Waterloo has seen engagements. At last the man did die, and his widow has been collecting money to bury him for eight years past, but has not yet secured the required sum. This woman, whose name I never knew, has a boy and a girl; to the former she is very kind, the latter she beats without mercy, always before breakfast, and with such (almost) unvaried punctuality that her brother will sometimes whisper (after saying grace), `Mother, has our Poll had her licks yet?'
"Among the records of mortality lately before the public, is the account of a notorious woman, who was found suffocated in a stagnant pool, whether from suicide or accident it was impossible to determine. She had been in every hospital in town and country, suffering from a disease, entirely self-procured. She applied strong acids to wounds previously punctured with a pin, and so caused her body to present one mass of sores. She was deemed incurable by the hospital doctors, and liberal collections were made for her among the benevolent in various places. The trick, however, was ultimately discovered, and the failure of her plan (added to the bad state of health to which her bodily injuries had gradually led) preyed upon her mind and hastened her death.
"This woman had been the paramour of `Peter the crossing-sweeper,' a man who for years went about showing similar wounds, which he pretended had been inflicted while fighting in the Spanish Legion -though, truth to say, he had never been nearer Spain than Liverpool is to New York. He had followed the `monkry' from a child, and chiefly, since manhood, as a `broken-down weaver from Leicester,' and after singing through every one of the provinces `We've got no work to do,' he scraped acquaintance with a `school of shallow coves;' that is, men who go about half-naked, telling frightful tales about ship wrecks, hair-breadth escapes from houses on fire, and such like aqueous and igneous calamities. By these Peter was initiated into the `scaldrum dodge,' or the art of burning the body with a mixture of acids and gunpowder, so as to suit the hues and complexions of the accident to be deplored. Such persons hold every morning a `committee of ways and means,' according to whose decision the movements of the day are carried out. Sometimes when on their country rounds, they go singly up to the houses of the gentry and wealthy farmers, begging shirts, which they hide in hedges while they go to another house and beg a similar article. Sometimes they go in crowds, to the number of from twelve to twenty; they are most successful when the `swell' is not at home; if they can meet with the `Burerk' (Mistress), or the young ladies, they `put it on them for dunnage' (beg a stock of general clothing), flattering their victims first and frightening them afterwards. A friend of mine was present in a lodging-house in Plymouth, when a school of the shallow coves returned from their day's work with six suits of clothes, and twenty-seven shirts, besides children's apparel and shoes, (all of which were sold to a broker in the same street), and, besides these, the donations in money received amounted to 4s. 4d. a man.
"At this enterprise `Peter' continued several years, but -to use his own words -` everything has but a time,' the country got `dead' to him, and people got `fly' to the `shallow brigade;' so Peter came up to London to `try his hand at something else.' Housed in the domicile of `Sayer the barber,' who has enriched himself by beer-shops and lodginghouse-keeping, to the tune it is said of 20,000l., Peter amused the `travellers' of Wentworthstreet, Whitechapel, with recitals of what he had seen and done. Here a profligate, but rather intelligent man, who had really been in the service of the Queen of Spain, gave him an old red jacket, and with it such instructions as equipped him for the imposition. One sleeve of this jacket usually hung loosely by his side, while the arm it should have covered was exposed naked, and to all appearance withered. His rule was to keep silence till a crowd assembled around him, when he began to `patter' to them to the following effect: `Ladies and gentlemen, it is with feelings of no common reluctance that I stand before you at this time; but although I am not without feelings, I am totally without friends, and frequently without food. This wound (showing his disfigured arm) I received in the service of the Queen of Spain, and I have many more on different parts of my person. I received a little praise for my brave conduct, but not a penny of pension, and here I am (there's no deception you see) ill in health -poor in pocket, and exposed without proper nourishment to wind and weather -the cold is blowing through me till I am almost perished.' His `Doxy' stood by and received the `voluntary contributions' of the audience in a soldier's cap, which our hero emptied into his pocket, and after snivelling out his thanks, departed to renew the exhibition in the nearest available thoroughfare. Peter boasted that he could make on an average fifteen of these pitches a day, and as the proceeds were estimated at something considerable in each pitch (he has been known to take as much as half-acrown in pence at one standing), he was able to sport his figure at Astley's in the evening - to eat `spring lamb,' and when reeling home under the influence of whiskey, to entertain the peaceful inhabitants with the music of -`We won't go home till morning -'
"Whether the game got stale, or Peter became honest, is beyond the purport of my communication to settle. If any reader, however, should make his purchases at the puffing fishmonger's in Lombard-street, they may find Peter now pursuing the more honest occupation of sweeping the crossing, by the church of St. Gabriel, Fenchurch-street.
"Among the most famous of the `lurking patterers' was `Captain Moody,' the son of poor but honest parents in the county of Cornwall, who died during his boyhood, leaving him to the custody of a maiden aunt. This lady soon, and not without reason, got tired of her incorrigible charge. Young Moody was apprenticed successively to three trades, and wanted not ability to become expert in any of them, but having occasional interviews with some of the gipsey tribe, and hearing from themselves of their wonderful achievements, he left the sober walks of life and joined this vagrant fraternity.
"His new position, however, was attractive only while it was novel. Moody, who had received a fair education, soon became disgusted with the coarseness and vulgarity of his associates. At the solicitation of a neighbouring clergyman, he was restored to the friendship of his aunt, who had soon sad reason to regret that her compassion had got the better of her prudence; for one Sunday afternoon, while she was absent at church, young Moody who had pleaded indisposition and so obtained permission to stay at home, decamped (after dispatching the servant to the town, a mile distant, to fetch the doctor) in the meantime, emptying his aunt's `safety cupboard' of a couple of gold watches and £72 in cash and country notes.
"His roving disposition then induced him to try the sea, and the knowledge he obtained during several voyages fitted him for those maritime frauds which got him the name of `Captain Moody, the lurker.' The frauds of this person are well known, and often recounted with great admiration among the pattering fraternity. On one occasion, the principal butcher in Gosport was summoned to meet a gentlemen at an hotel. The Louisa, a brig, had just arrived at Portsmouth, the captain's name was Young, and this gentleman Moody personated for the time being. `I have occasion,' said he to the butcher, `for an additional supply of beef for the Louisa; I have heard you spoken of by Captain Harrison' (whom Moody knew to be an old friend of the butcher's), `and I have thus given you the preference. I want a bullock, cut up in 12 lb. pieces; it must be on board by three to-morrow.' The price was agreed upon, and the captain threw down a few sovereigns in payment, but, of course, discovered that he had not gold enough to cover the whole amount, so he proposed to give him a cheque he had just received from Captain Harrison for £100, and the butcher could give him the difference. The tradesman was nothing loth, for a cheque upon `Vallance, Mills, and West,' with Captain Harrison's signature, was reckoned equal to money any day, and so the butcher considered the one he had received, until the next morning, when the draft and the order proved to be forgeries. The culprit was, of course, nowhere to be found, nor, indeed, heard of till two years after, when he had removed the scene of his depredations to Liverpool.
"In that port he had a colleague, a man whose manners and appearance were equally prepossessing. Moody sent his `pal' into a jeweller's shop, near the corner of Lord-street, who there purchased a small gold seal, paid for it, and took his leave. Immediately afterwards, Moody entered the shop under evident excitement, declaring that he had seen the person, who had just left the shop secrete two, if not three, seals up his coat-sleeve; adding, that the fellow had just gone through the Exchange, and that if the jeweller were quick he would be sure to catch him. The jeweller ran out without his hat, leaving his kind friend in charge of the shop, and soon returned with the supposed criminal in his custody. The `captain,' however, in the mean time, had decamped, taking with him a tray from the window, containing precious materials to the value of 300l.
"At another time, the `captain' prepared a document, setting forth `losses in the Baltic trade,' and a dismal variety of disasters; and concluding with a melancholy shipwreck, which had really taken place just about that time in the German Ocean. With this he travelled over great part of Scotland, and with almost unprecedented success. Journeying near the Frith of Forth, he paid a visit to Lord Dalmeny -a nobleman of great benevolence -who had read the account of the shipwreck in the local journals, and wondered that the petition was not signed by influential persons on the spot; and, somewhat suspicious of the reality of the ` captain's' identity, placed a terrestrial globe before him, and begged to be shown `in what latitude he was cast away.' The awkwardness with which Moody handled the globe showed that he was `out of his latitude' altogether. His lordship thereupon committed the document to the flames, but generously gave the `captain' a sovereign and some good advice; the former he appropriated at the nearest public-house, of the latter he never made the least use.
`Old, and worn out by excesses and imprisonment, he subsists now by `sitting pad' about the suburban pavements; and when, on a recent evening, he was recognised in a low publichouse in Deptford, he was heard to say, with a sigh: `Ah! once I could "screeve a fakement" (write a petition) or "cooper a monekur" (forge a signature) with any man alive, and my heart's game now; but I'm old and asthmatic, and got the rheumatis, so that I am't worth a d -n.'
" `The Lady Lurker.' -Of this person very little is known, and that little, it is said, makes her an object of pity. Her father was a dissenting minister in Bedfordshire. She has been twice married; her first husband was a schoolmaster at Hackney, and nephew of a famous divine who wrote a Commentary on the Bible, and was chaplain to George III. She afterwards married a physician in Cambridgeshire (a Dr. S -), who is alleged to have treated her ill, and even to have attempted to poison her. She has no children; and, since the death of her husband, has passed through various grades, till she is now a cadger. She dresses becomingly in black, and sends in her card (Mrs. Dr. S -) to the houses whose occupants are known, or supposed, to be charitable. She talks with them for a certain time, and then draws forth a few boxes of lucifers, which, she says, she is compelled to sell for her living. These lucifers are merely excuses, of course, for begging; still, nothing is known to have ever transpired in her behaviour wholly unworthy of a distressed gentlewoman. She lives in private lodgings."
I continue the account of these habitations, and of their wretched occupants, from the pen of the same gentleman whose vicissitudes (partly self-procured) led him to several years' acquaintance with the subject.
"Padding-kens" (lodging-houses) in the country are certainly preferable abodes to those of St. Giles's, Westminster, or Whitechapel; but in country as in town, their condition is extremely filthy and disgusting; many of them are scarcely ever washed, and as to sweeping, once a week is miraculous. In most cases they swarm with vermin, and, except where their position is very airy, the ventilation is imperfect, and frequent sickness the necessary result. It is a matter of surprise that the nobility, clergy, and gentry of the realm should permit the existence of such horrid dwellings.
"I think," continues my informant, "that the majority of these poor wretches are without even the idea of respectability or `home comforts,' - many of them must be ranked among the worst of our population. Some, who could live elsewhere, prefer these wretched abodes, because they answer various evil purposes. With beggars, patterers, hawkers, tramps, and vendors of their own manufacture, are mingled thieves, women of easy virtue, and men of no virtue at all; a few, and by far the smallest portion, are persons who once filled posts of credit and affluence, but whom bankruptcy, want of em ployment, or sickness has driven to these dismal retreats. The vast majority of London vagrants take their summer vacation in the country, and the `dodges' of both are interchanged, and every new `move' circulates in almost no time.
"I will endeavour to sketch a few of the most renowned `performers' on this theatre of action. By far the most illustrious is `Nicholas A -,' an ame known to the whole cadging fraternity as a real descendant from Bamfylde Moore Carew, and the `prince of lurkers' and patterers for thirty years past. This man owes much of his success to his confessedly imposing appearance, and many of his escapes to the known respectability of his connections. His father - yet alive -is a retired captain in the Royal Navy, a gentleman of good private property, and one of her Majesty's justices of peace for the county of Devon -the southern extremity of which was the birth-place of Nicholas. But little is known of his early days. He went to school at Tavistock, where he received a good education, and began life by cheating his schoolfellows.
"The foolish fondness of an indulgent mother, and some want of firmness in paternal discipline, accelerated the growth of every weed of infamy in Nicholas, and baffled every experiment, by sea and land, to `set' him up in life.
"Scarcely was he out of his teens, when he honoured the sister country with his visits and his depredations. About the centre of Sackvillestreet, Dublin, there lived a wealthy silversmith of the name of Wise. Into his shop ( accompanied by one of his pals in livery) went Nicholas, whose gentlemanly exterior, as I have already hinted, would disarm suspicion in a stranger.
" `Good morning sir, is your name Wise? - Yes, sir. -Well, that is my name. -Indeed, of the English family, I suppose? -Yes, sir, East Kent. -Oh, indeed! related to the ladies of Leeds Castle, I presume? -I have the honour to be their brother. -James, is your name James or John? -Neither, sir, it is Jacob. - Oh, indeed! a very ancient name. -Well, I have occasion to give a party at the Corn Exchange Tavern, and I want a little plate on hire, can you supply me?' -A very polite affirmative settled this part of the business. Plate to the amount of 150l. was selected and arranged, when Nicholas discovered that his pocket-book was at home (to complete the deception, his right arm was in a sling). `Will you, Mr. Wise (you see my infirmity), write me a few lines? -With the greatest pleasure,' was the silversmith's reply. -`Well, let me see. "My dear, do not be surprised at this; I want 150l., or all the money you can send, per bearer; I will explain at dinner-time. J. Wise."
" `Now, John, take this to your mistress, and be quick.' As John was not very hasty in his return, Nicholas went to look for him, leaving a strict injunction that the plate should be sent to the Corn Exchange Tavern, as soon as the deposit was received. This happened at eleven in the forenoon -the clock struck five and no return of either the master or the man.
"The jeweller left a message with his apprentice, and went home to his dinner. He was met at the door of his suburban villa by his `better half,' who wondered what made him so late, and wished to know the nature of the exigency which had caused him to send home for so much money? The good man's perplexity was at an end when he saw his own handwriting on the note; and every means within the range of constabulary vigilance was taken to capture the offender, but Nicholas and his servant got clear off.
"This man's ingenuity was then taxed as to the next move, so he thought it expedient to tax somebody else. He went with his `pal' to a miscellaneous repository, where they bought a couple of old ledgers -useful only as waste paper, a bag to hold money, two ink-bottles, &c. Thus equipped, they waited on the farmers of the district, and exhibited a `fakement,' setting forth parliamentary authority for imposing a tax upon the geese! They succeeded to admiration, and weeks elapsed before the hoax was discovered. The coolness of thus assuming legislatorial functions, and being, at the same time, the executive power, has rarely been equalled.
"There is an old proverb, that `It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.' The gallant ` captain' was domiciled at a lodging-house in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where he found all the lodgers complaining of the badness of the times -most of them were makers of nets. He sallied forth to all the general shops, and left his (fictitious) `captain' card at each, with an order for an unusual number of nets. This `dodge' gave a week's work to at least twenty poor people; but whether the shopkeepers were `caught in a net,' or the articles were paid for and removed by the `captain,' or whether it was a piece of pastime on his part, I did not stay long enough to ascertain.
"Nicholas A -is now in his sixty-second year, a perfect hypochondriac. On his own authority -and it is, no doubt, too true -he has been `lurking' on every conceivable system, from forging a bill of exchange down to ` maundering on the fly,' for the greater part of his life; and, excepting the `hundred and thirteen times' he has been in provincial jails, society has endured the scourge of his deceptions for a quarter of a century at least. He now lives with a young prostitute in Portsmouth, and contributes to her wretched earnings an allowance of 5s. a week, paid to him by the attorney of a distant and disgusted relative."
The writer of this account was himself two whole years on the "monkry," before he saw a lodging-house for tramps; and the first he ever saw was one well-known to every patterer in Christendom, and whose fame he says is "gone out into all lands," for its wayfaring inmates are very proud of its popularity.
"It may be as well," writes the informant in question, "before submitting the following account, to state that there are other, and more elaborate marks -the hieroglyphics of tramping -than those already given. I will accordingly explain them.
"Two hawkers (pals) go together, but separate when they enter a village, one taking each side of the road, and selling different things; and, so as to inform each other as to the character of the people at whose houses they call, they chalk certain marks on their door-posts:
" [.missing.] means `Go on. I have called here; don't you call -it's no go.'
" [.missing.] means `Stop -you may call here; they want' (for instance) `what you sell, though not what I sell;' or else, `They had no change when I was there, but may have it now;' or, `If they don't buy, at least they'll treat you civilly.'
" [.missing.] on a corner-house, or a sign-post, means, `I went this way;' or `Go on in this direction.'
" [.missing.]on a corner-house, or sign-post, means `Stop -don't go any further in this direction.'
" [.missing.] as before explained, means `danger.'
"Like many other young men, I had lived above my income, and, too proud to crave parental forgiveness, had thrown off the bonds of authority for a life of adventure. I was now homeless upon the world. With a body capable of either exertion or fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified by danger, I endured rather than enjoyed my itinerant position. I sold small articles of Tunbridge ware, perfumery, &c.. &c., and by `munging' (begging) over them -sometimes in Latin -got a better living than I expected, or probably deserved. I was always of temperate and rather abstemious habits, but ignorant of the haunts of other wanderers, (whom I saw in dozens every day upon every road, and every conceivable pursuit) I took up my nightly quarters at a sort of third-rate public-houses, and supposed that my contemporaries did the same. How long my ignorance might have continued (if left to myself) I can hardly determine; an adventure at a road-side inn, however, removed the veil from my eyes, and I became gradually and speedily `awake' to `every move on the board.' It was a lovely evening in July, the air was serene and the scenery romantic; my own feelings were in unison with both, and enhanced perhaps by the fact that I had beguiled the last two miles of my deliberate walk with a page out of my pocketcompanion, `Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful.' I was now smoking my pipe and quaffing a pint of real `Yorkshire stingo' in the ` keeping room' (a term which combines parlour and kitchen in one word) of a real `Yorkshire village,' Dranfield, near Sheffield. A young person of the other sex was my only and accidental companion; she had been driven into the house by the over-officiousness of a vigilant village constable, who finding that she sold lace without a license, and -infinitely worse -refused to listen to his advances, had warned her to `make herself scarce' at her `earliest possible convenience.'
"Having elicited what I did for a living, she popped the startling question to me, `Where do you "hang out" in Sheffield?' I told her that I had never been in Sheffield, and did not `hang out' my little wares, but used my persuasive art to induce the purchase of them. The lady said, `Well, you are "green." I mean, where do you dos?' This was no better, it seemed something like Greek, -`delta, omicron, sigma,' (I retain the "patterer's" own words to show the education of the class) -but the etymology was no relief to the perplexity. `Where do you mean to sleep?' she inquired. I referred to my usual practice of adjourning to an humble public-house. My companion at once threw off all manner of disguise, and said, `Well, sir, you are a young man that I have taken a liking to, and if you think you should like my company, I will take you to a lodging where there is plenty of travellers, and you will see "all sorts of life.' " I liked the girl's company, and our mutual acquiescence made us companions on the road. We had not got far before we met the aforesaid constable in company with an unmistakeable member of the Rural Police. They made some inquiries of me, which I thought exceeded their commission. I replied to them with a mutilated Ode of Horace, when they both determined that I was a Frenchman, and allowed us to `go on our way rejoicing.'
"The smoky, though well-built, town of Sheffield was now near at hand. The daylight was past,' and the `shades of the evening were stretching out;' we were therefore enabled to journey through the throughfares without impertinent remarks, or perhaps any observation, except from a toothless old woman, of John Wesley's school, who was `sorry to see two such nice young people going about the country,' and wondered if we `ever thought of eternity!'
"After a somewhat tedious ramble, we arrived at Water-lane; -at the `Bug-trap,' which from time immemorial has been the name of the most renowned lodging-house in that or perhaps any locality. Water-lane is a dark narrow street, crowded with human beings of the most degraded sort -the chosen atmosphere of cholera, and the stronghold of theft and prostitution. In less than half an hour, my fair companion and myself were sipping our tea, and eating Yorkshire cake in this same lodging-house.
" `God bless every happy couple!' was echoed from a rude stentorian voice, while a still ruder hand bumped down upon our tea-table a red earthen dish of no small dimensions, into which was poured, from the mouth of a capacious bag, fragments of fish, flesh, and fowl, viands and vegetables of every sort, intermingled with bits of cheese and dollops of Yorkshire pudding. The man to whom this heterogeneous mass belonged, appeared anything but satisfied with his lot. `Well,' said he, `I don't know what this 'ere monkry will come to, after a bit. Three bob and a tanner, and that there dish o' scran (enough to feed two families for a fortnight) `is all I got this blessed day since seven o'clock in the morning, and now it's nine at night.' I ventured to say something, but a remark, too base for repetition, `put the stunners on me,' and I held my peace.
"I was here surprised, on conversing with my young female companion, to find that she went to church, said her prayers night and morning, and knew many of the collects, some of which she repeated, besides a pleasing variety of Dr. Watts's hymns. At the death of her mother, her father had given up housekeeping; and, being too fond of a wandering life, had led his only child into habits like his own.
"As the night advanced, the party at the `Bug-trap' more than doubled. High-flyers, shallow-coves, turnpike-sailors, and swells out of luck, made up an assembly of fourscore human beings, more than half of whom were doomed to sleep on a `make-shift' -in other words, on a platform, raised just ten inches above the floor of the garret, which it nearly equalled in dimensions. Here were to be huddled together, with very little covering, old men and women, young men and children, with no regard to age, sex, or propensities.
"The `mot' of the `ken' (nickname for `matron of the establishment') had discovered that I was a `more bettermost' sort of person, and hinted that, if I would `come down' with twopence more (threepence was the regular nightly charge), I, `and the young gal as I was with,' might have a little `crib' to ourselves in a little room, along with another woman wot was married and had a `kid,' and whose husband had got a month for `griddling in the main drag' (singing in the high street), and being `cheekish' (saucy) to the beadle.
"Next morning I bade adieu to the ` Bugtrap,' and I hope for ever."
The same informant further stated that he was some time upon "tramp" before he even knew of the existence of a common lodginghouse: "After I had `matriculated' at Sheffield," he says, "I continued some time going to public-houses to sleep, until my apparel having got shabby and my acquintance with misfortune more general, I submitted to be the associate of persons whom I never spoke to out of doors, and whose even slight acquaintance I have long renounced. My first introduction to a London paddin' ken was in Whitechapel, the place was then called Cat and Wheel-alley (now Commercial-street). On the spot where St. Jude's church now stands was a double lodging-house, kept by a man named Shirley - one side of it was for single men and women, the other married couples; as these `couples' made frequent exchanges, it is scarcely probable that Mr. Shirley ever `asked to see their marriage lines.' These changes were, indeed, as common as they were disgusting. I knew two brothers (Birmingham nailers) who each brought a young woman out of service from the country. After a while each became dissatisfied with his partner. The mistress of the house (an old procuress from Portsmouth) proposed that they should change their wives. They did so, to the amusement of nine other couples sleeping on the same floor, and some of whom followed the example, and more than once during the night.
"When Cat and Wheel-alley was pulled down, the crew removed to George-yard; the proprietor died, and his wife sold the concern to a wooden-legged Welshman named Hughes (commonly called `Taff'). I was there some time. `Taff' was a notorious receiver of stolen goods. I knew two little boys, who brought home six pairs of new Wellington boots, which this miscreant bought at 1s. per pair; and, when they had no luck, he would take the strap off his wooden-leg, and beat them through the nakedness of their rags. He boarded and lodged about a dozen Chelsea and Greenwich pensioners. These he used to follow and watch closely till they got paid; then (after they had settled with him) he would make them drunk, and rob them of the few shillings they had left.
"One of these dens of infamy may be taken as a specimen of the whole class. They have generally a spacious, though often ill-ventilated, kitchen, the dirty dilapidated walls of which are hung with prints, while a shelf or two are generally, though barely, furnished with crockery and kitchen utensils. In some places knives and forks are not provided, unless a penny is left with the `deputy,' or manager, till they are returned. A brush of any kind is a stranger, and a looking-glass would be a miracle. The average number of nightly lodgers is in winter 70, and in summer (when many visit the provinces) from 40 to 45. The general charge is, if two sleep together, 3d. per night, or 4d. for a single bed. In either case, it is by no means unusual to find 18 or 20 in one small room, the heat and horrid smell from which are insufferable; and, where there are young children, the staircases are the lodgment of every kind of filth and abomination. In some houses there are rooms for families, where, on a rickety machine, which they dignify by the name of a bedstead, may be found the man, his wife, and a son or daughter, perhaps 18 years of age; while the younger children, aged from 7 to 14, sleep on the floor. If they have linen, they take it off to escape vermin, and rise naked, one by one, or sometimes brother and sister together. This is no ideal picture; the subject is too capable of being authenticated to need that meaningless or dishonest assistance called `allowable exaggeration.' The amiable and deservedly popular minister of a district church, built among lodging-houses, has stated that he has found 29 human beings in one apartment; and that having with difficulty knelt down between two beds to pray with a dying woman, his legs became so jammed that he could hardly get up again.
"Out of some fourscore such habitations, continues my informant, "I have only found two which had any sort of garden; and, I am happy to add, that in neither of these two was there a single case of cholera. In the others, however, the pestilence raged with terrible fury.
"Of all the houses of this sort, the best I know is the one (previously referred to) in Orchard-street, Westminister, and another in Seven Dials, kept by a Mr. Mann (formerly a wealthy butcher). Cleanliness is inscribed on every wall of the house; utensils of every kind are in abundance, with a plentiful supply of water and gas. The beds do not exceed five in a room, and they are changed every week. There is not one disorderly lodger; and although the master has sustained heavy losses, ill health, and much domestic affliction, himself and his house may be regarded as patterns of what is wanted for the London poor.
"As there is a sad similarity between these abodes, so there is a sort of caste belonging in general to the inmates. Of them it may be averred that whatever their pursuits, they are more or less alike in their views of men and manners. They hate the aristocracy. Whenever there is a rumour or an announcement of an addition to the Royal Family, and the news reaches the padding-ken, the kitchen, for half-an-hour, becomes the scene of uproar -`another expense coming on the b -y country!' The `patterers' are very fond of the Earl of Carlisle, whom, in their attachment, they still call Lord Morpeth; they have read many of his lordship's speeches at soirées, &c., and they think he wishes well to a poor man. Sir James Graham had better not show face among them; they have an idea (whence derived we know not) that this nobleman invented fourpenny-pieces, and now, they say, the swells give a `joey' where they used to give a `tanner.' The hero of Waterloo is not much amiss `if he lets politics alone.' The name of a bishop is but another name for a Beelzebub; but they are very fond of the inferior clergy. Lay-agents and tract-distributors they cannot bear; they think they are spies come to see how much `scran' (food) they have got, and then go and `pyson' the minds of the public against poor people.
"I was once (says our informant) in a house of this kind, in George-street, St. Giles's, -the missionary who visited them on that occasion (Sunday afternoon) had the misfortune to be suspected as the author of some recent exposure in the newspapers. -They accused him, and he rebutted the accusation; they replied, and he rejoined; at last one of the men said, `What do you want poking your nose in here for?' `The City Mission,' was the answer, `had authorised -.' `Authorised be d -d! are you ordained?' `No, not yet, friend.' The women then tore the poor gentleman's nether garments in a way I must not describe. The men carried him into the yard, filled his mouth with flour of mustard and then put him in a water-butt.
"It is, I am satisfied, quite a mistake to suppose that there is much real infidelity among these outcast beings. They almost all believe in a hereafter; most of them think that the wicked will be punished for a few years, and then the whole universe of people be embraced in the arms of one Great Forgiving Father. Some of them think that the wicked will not rise at all; the punishment of `losing Heaven' being as they say `Hell enough for anybody. Points of doctrine they seldom meddle with.
"There are comparatively few Dissenters to be found in padding-kens, though many whose parents were Dissenters. My own opinion (writes my informant) is, that dissent seldom lasts long in one family. In eight years' experience I have found two hundred apparently pious men and women, and at least two thousand who call themselves Protestants, but never go to any church or chapel.
"The politics of these classes are, perhaps, for the most part, `liberal Tory.' In most lodging-houses they take one or two papers: the Weekly Dispatch, and Bell's Weekly Messenger, are the two usually taken. I know of no exception to this rule. The beggars hate a Whig Ministry, and I know that many a tear was shed in the hovels and cellars of London when Sir Robert Peel died. I know a publican, in Westminster, whose daily receipts are enormous, and whose only customers are soldiers, thieves, and prostitutes, who closed his house the day of the funeral, and put himself, his family, and even his beer-machines and gas-pipes, into mourning for the departed statesman.
"The pattering fraternity, that I write of, are generally much given to intemperance. Their amusements are the theatre, the free-and-easy, the skittle-ground, and sometimes cards and dominoes. They read some light works, and some of them subscribe to libraries, and a few, very few, attend lectures. Eliza Cook is a favourite writer with them, and Capt. Marryatt, the `top-sawyer,' as a novelist. Ainsworth is the idol of another class, when they can read. Mr. Dickens was a favourite, but he has gone down sadly in the scale since his Household Words `came it so strong' against the begging letter department. These poor creatures seldom rise in society. They make no effort to extricate themselves, while by others they are unpitied because unknown. To this rule, however, there are some happy and honourable exceptions.
"Taken as a body, patterers, lurkers, &c. are by no means quick-sighted as to the sanctions of moral obligation. They would join the hue and cry against the persecutors of Jane Wilbred, but a promiscuous robbery, even accompanied by murder -if it was `got up clever' and `done clean,' so long as the parties escaped detection -might call forth a remark that `there was no great harm done,' and perhaps some would applaud the perpetrators."
Before quitting this part of my subject (viz. the character, habits, and opinions of all classes of patterers), I will give an account of the pre tended missionary proceedings of a man, wellknown to the vagrant fraternity as "Chelsea George." I received the following narrative from the gentleman whose statements I have given previously. The scheme was concocted in a low lodging-house:
"After a career of incessant `lurking' and deceit, Chelsea George left England, and remained abroad," writes my informant, "four or five years. Exposure to the sun, and allowing his beard to grow a prodigious length, gave him the appearance of a foreigner. He had picked up enough French and Italian, with a little Dutch and German, and a smattering of Spanish, to enable him to `hail for any part of the globe,' and from the designed inarticulateness with which he spoke (sometimes four languages in one sentence) added to his sun-burnt and grotesque appearance, it was difficult to pall him upon any racket (detect him in any pretence), so that the most incredulous, -though often previously imposed upon -gave credence to his story, relief to his supposed necessities, and sometimes letters of introduction to their friends and neighbours.
"Some time after his return to England, and while pursuing the course of a `high-flyer' (genteel beggar), he met with an interruption to his pursuits which induced him to alter his plan without altering his behaviour. The newspapers of the district, where he was then located, had raised before the eye and mind of the public, what the `patterers' of his class proverbially call a `stink,' -that is, had opened the eyes of the unwary to the movements of ` Chelsea George;' and although he ceased to renew his appeals from the moment he heard of the notice of him, his appearance was so accurately described that he was captured and committed to Winchester jail as a rogue and vagabond. The term of his imprisonment has escaped my recollection. As there was no definite charge against him, probably he was treated as an ordinary vagrant and suffered a calendar month in durance. The silent system was not then in vogue, consequently there existed no barrier to mutual intercourse between prisoners, with all its train of conscience-hardening tendencies. I do not say this to intimate unqualified approval of the solitary system, I merely state a fact which has an influence on my subject.
"George had by this time scraped acquaintance with two fellow-prisoners -Jew Jem and Russia Bob. The former in `quod' for ` pattering' as a `converted Jew,' the latter for obtaining money under equally false, though less theological, pretences.
"Liberated about one time, this trio laid their heads together, -and the result was a plan to evangelize, or rather victimize, the inhabitants of the collier villages in Staffordshire and the adjoining counties. To accomplish this purpose, some novel and imposing representation must be made, both to lull suspicion and give the air of piety to the plan, and disinterestedness to the agents by whom it was carried out.
"George and his two fellow-labourers were `square-rigged' -that is, well dressed. Something, however, must be done to colour up the scene, and make the appeal for money touching, unsuspected, and successful. Just before the time to which I allude, a missionary from Sierra Leone had visited the larger towns of the district in question, while the inhabitants of the surrounding hamlets had been left in ignorance of the `progress of missions in Africa and the East.' George and his comrades thought it would be no great harm at once to enlighten and fleece this scattered and anxious population. The plan was laid in a town of some size and facility. They `raised the wind' to an extent adequate to some alteration of their appearances, and got bills printed to set forth the merits of the cause. The principal actor was Jew Jim, a converted Israelite, with `reverend' before his name, and half the letters of the alphabet behind it. He had been in all the islands of the South Sea, on the coast of Africa, all over Hindostan, and half over the universe; and after assuring the villagers of Torryburn that he had carried the Gospel to various dark and uninhabited parts of the earth, he introduced Russia Bob (an Irishman who had, however, been in Russia) as his worthy and self-denying colleague, and Chelsea George as the first-fruits of their ministry - as one who had left houses and land, wife and children, and taken a long and hazardous voyage to show Christians in England that their sable brethren, children of one common Parent, were beginning to cast their idols to the moles and to the bats. Earnest was the gaze and breathless the expectation with which the poor deluded colliers of Torry-burn listened to this harangue; and as argument always gains by illustration, the orator pulled out a tremendous black doll, bought for a `flag' (fourpence) of a retired ragmerchant, and dressed up in Oriental style. This, Jew Jim assured the audience, was an idol brought from Murat in Hindostan. He presented it to Chelsea George for his worship and embraces. The convert indignantly repelled the insinuation, pushed the idol from him, spat in its face, and cut as many capers as a dancingbear. The trio at this stage of the performances began `puckering' (talking privately) to each other in murdered French, dashed with a little Irish; after which, the missionaries said that their convert (who had only a few words of English) would now profess his faith. All was attention as Chelsea George came forward. He stroked his beard, put his hand in his breast to keep down his dickey, and turning his eyes upwards, said: `I believe in Desus Tist -dlory to 'is 'oly Name!'
"This elicited some loud `amens' from an assemblage of nearly 1,000 persons, and catching the favourable opportunity, a `school of pals,' appointed for the purpose, went round and made the collection. Out of the abundance of their credulity and piety the populace contributed sixteen pounds! The whole scene was enacted out of doors, and presented to a stranger very pleasing impressions. I was present on the occasion, but was not then aware of the dodge. One verse of a hymn, and the blessing pronounced, was the signal for separation. A little shaking of hands concluded the exhibition, and `every man went into his own house.'
"The missionary party and their `pals' took the train to Manchester, and as none of them were teetotallers, the proceeds of their imposition did not last long. They were just putting on their considering caps, for the contrivance of another dodge, when a gentleman in blue clothes came into the tap-room, and informed Jew Jem that he was `wanted.' It appears that `Jem' had come out of prison a day or two before his comrades, and being `hard up,' had ill-used a lady, taken her purse, and appropriated its contents. Inquiries, at first useless, had now proved successful -the `missionary' stood his trial, and got an `appointment' on Norfolk Island. Russia Bob took the cholera and died, and `George the convert' was once more left alone to try his hand at something else."