Victorian London - Shops and Shopping - Opening Hours


I AM a linen-draper bold,
(Please to walk this way, Ma'am.)
I don't fear being undersold:
(What next shall we say, Ma'am?)
My shopmen there-those spruce young beaux,- 
(Any other article to-day, Ma'am?)
I won't destroy my young men's health,
(Warranted to last, a'am.)
Careless of all but getting wealth,
(Colour very fast Ma'am.)
No one in hot close air was meant
Till nearly midnight to be pent;
Nor shall in this establishment:
(That cannot be surpass'd Ma'am.)
Consumption here we don't allow,
(Very lovely chintz, Ma'am.)
If we can help it anyhow:
(Recommend these prints, Ma'am.)
No mealy cheek, no hollow eye
Behind my counter, Ma'am, have I;
Closing at eight's the reason why:
(All the most fashionable tints, Ma'am.)
Thus, likewise, to improve the mind,
(Reasonable too, Ma'am.)
A little time my shopmen find:
(Not too deep a blue, Ma'am.)
I find this answer in the end;
The look upon me as a friend,
canon the lads depend:
(Thank you, Ma'am-I m much obliged to you, Ma'am.) 
Now I know you'll be so kind
(Wish to see that shawl, Ma'am?)
As to let me speak my mind:
(Trouble ?-not at all, Ma'am.) 
The good that might be done's unknown,
Would ladies deal with those alone 
Whose shops close early - like our own - 
(Early closing - hope an early call, Ma'am.)

Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1850

    At eleven o’clock close the majority of the coffee, chop-houses, and reading rooms. There are some that will remain open all night, but they are not of the most reputable description. At eleven the cheap grocer, the cheesemonger, and the linen-draper, in low-priced neighbourhoods, begin to think of putting up the shutters; and by half-past eleven, the only symposia of merchandise open will be the taverns and cigar­shops, the supper-rooms and shell-fish warehouses, the night coffee­houses, and the chemists...    
    Eleven o’clock at the West-end is, morally speaking, broad daylight. Midnight will be high noon. Fashionable life’s current riots through the veins of West-end streets; mirth, and gaiety, and intrigue, are heard on staircases and at street corners.

Augustus Sala Twice Round the Clock 1859