« AnteriorContinua »
CHAP. III. .
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE INHABITANTS OF LONDON FROM 1700 TO 1800.
A WEEKLY Paper, intituled "The Dutch Prophet," was published at the commencement of the Century. The Author, in one of those, gives the outlines of each day in the week as employed
by different persons; it is a filthy publication,
and the following is almost the only decent part. "Wednesday, several Shop-keepers near St. Paul's will rise before six, be upon their knees at chapel a little after; promise God Almighty to live soberly and righteously before seven; take half a pint of Sack and a dash of Gentian before eight; tell fifty lies behind their counters by nine; and spend the rest of the morning over Tea and Tobacco at Child's Coffee-house."
Sunday, a world of women, with green aprons, get on their pattens after eight; reach
Brewers-hall and White-hart court by nine; are ready to burst with the Spirit a minute or two after, and delivered of it by ten. Much sighing at Salters-hall about the same hour; great frowning at St. Paul's while the service is singing, tolerable attention to the Sermon, but no respect shewn at all to the Sacrament," &c. &c.
These extracts inform us that Tradesmen were in the habit of attending Matins, which is certainly not the case at present; that they breakfasted upon sack and the root Gentian, and drank tea and chewed tobacco at the Coffee-house. Mark the change of 100 years: they now breakfast upon tea, and never chew tobacco; nor do many of them enter the Coffee-house once in a year.
The Halls of the different Companies appear to have been used at the above period for almost every public purpose, but particularly for the sighings of grace and over-righteousness, and to reverberate in thrice dissonant thunder the voices of the Elect, who saved themselves, and dealt eternal misery to all around them. Here again is a change: I believe not one Hall is now used for such purposes. The Cathedral service is admired, the Sermon neglected, and the Sacrament received with awe and devotion.
The effect of the Queen's proclamation against Vice and Debauchery in 1703 is thus noticed by Observator in his 92d number; some of the cus
toms of the lower classes may be collected from the quotation. He says, the Vintners and their wives were particularly affected by it, some of the latter of which "had the profit of the Sunday's claret, to buy them pins, and to enable them every now and then to take a turn with the Wine-merchant's eldest 'prentice to Cupid's* garden, or on-board the Polly. The Whetters are very much disobliged at this Proclamation, who used on Sundays to meet on their parade at the Quaker's meeting house, in Gracechurchstreet, and adjourn from thence through the Tavern back-door to take a whet of white and wormwood, and to eat a bit of the Cook-maid's dumpling, and then home to their dinner with their dear spouses, and afterwards return to the Tavern to take a flask or two for digestion. They tell me, all the Cake-houses at Islington, Stepney, and the suburbane villages, have hung their
*This should be Cuper's gardens, formerly the Bear Garden." European Magazine."
"This should be the Folly; a very large vessel, said to have been the hulk of a ship of war or frigate, which was moored on the Surrey-side of the Thames, nearly opposite Hungerford-stairs, and, consequently, abreast of Cuper's gardens. It was used as a floating tavern and bagnio. The proprietors had an idea, that a licence was not necessary for a place of this description on the river, and it was continued many years unrestrained, till at length its enormities became so notorious, that its suppression was deemed a most necessary object of Police." Ibid.
signs in mourning: every little kennel of debauchery is quite dismantled by this Proclamation; and the beaux who sit at home on Sundays, and play at piquet and back-gammon, are under dreadful apprehension of a thundering prohibition of stage-playing."
The Grand Jury, impanneled July 7, 1703, renewed their presentment against the Play-houses, Bartholomew-fair, &c. and clearly demonstrated that the elasticity of Vice had recovered from its temporary depression by the weight of Justice. Upon this presentment, Heraclitus Ridens made the following observations, which will point out a new scene in the customs of the Londoners:
Earnest. But the Grand Jury tell you, in their presentment, that the toleration of these houses corrupts the City youth, makes them dissolute and immoral, and entices them to take lewd courses.
"Jest. I am sorry to hear the Citizens' instructions bear so little weight with them, and am apt to think they are not so exemplary in their lives and conversations as they have been supposed to be. Would their masters keep a strict hand over them, there would be no reasons for complaints; and I dare be persuaded, there is more debauchery occasioned by pretending to eat Custards towards Hampstead, Islington, and Sir George Whitmore's *, in a week, than is
* At Hoxton,
sible to be brought about by a Playhouse in a twelvemonth."
The reader of this work who has visited St. Paul's or Westminster-abbey within the present Century, will subscribe to the faithful representation of the manners of a certain class of Citizens, that seem to have survived the usual period. of life, or have scrupulously transmitted them to their posterity, in a dialogue between Jest and Earnest, 1703 *.
"Jest. Certainly you have never been at St. Paul's. The flux of people there would cause you to make use of your handkerchief; and the largest Meeting-house in London bears no proportion to it.
"Earnest. And what should I do there, where men go out of curiosity and interest, not for the sake of religion? Your shop-keepers assemble there as at full 'Change, and the buyers and sellers are far from being cast out of the Temple. The body of the Church every Lord'sday contains three times the number of the choir ; and when the organ has done playing an adieu to devotion, the greatest part of the audience give you their room rather than their company."
If an advertisement frequently published about this time may be credited, Dram-drinking prevailed rather more than a sound moralist would