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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley

The Ballad of the London 'Prentice

From "Meligmata: Musical Phantasies, fitting the Court, City, and Country Manners, to three, four and five Voices"--

"To all delightful, except to the spiteful; To none offensive, except to the pensive."

"London, printed by William Stansby, for Thos. Adams, 1611," we take as follows:--


"Broomes for old shoes! pouch-rings, bootes and buskings! Will yee buy any new broome? New oysters! new oysters! new new cockles! Cockels nye! fresh herrings! will yee buy any straw? Hay yee any kitchen stuffe, maides? Pippins fine, cherrie ripe, ripe, ripe! Cherrie ripe, &c. Hay any wood to cleaue? Give care to the clocke! Beware your locke! Your fire and your light! And God giue you good night! One o' clocke!"

Some of the "Common Cryes i' th' City," as Oysters, Codlings, Kitchen-stuff, Matches for your Tinder-box, &c., are enumerated in Richard Brome's--The "Court Beggar, A Comedie acted at the _Cock-pit_, by His Majesties Servants, _Anno_ 1632."

"The London Chanticleers, a witty Comedy full of Various and Delightful Mirth," 1659. This piece is rather an interlude than a play, and is amusing and curious, the characters being, with two exceptions, all London criers. The allusions to old usages, with the mention of many well known ballads, and some known no longer, contribute to give the piece an interest and a value of its own.

The principal _dramatis personae_ consists of:--

HEATH.--_A broom-man._ "Brooms, maids, broom! Come, buy my brooms, maids; 'Tis a new broom, and will sweep clean. Come, buy my broom, maids!"

BRISTLE.--_A brush-man._ "Come, buy a save-all. Buy a comb-brush, or a pot-brush; buy a flint, or a steel, or a tinder-box."

DITTY.--_A ballad-man._ "Come, new books, new books, newly printed and newly come forth! All sorts of ballads and pleasant books! _The Famous History of Tom Thumb_ and _Unfortunate Jack, A Hundred Goodly Lessons_ and _Alas, poor Scholar, whither wilt thou go? The second part of Mother Shipton's Prophecies, newly made by a gentleman of good quality_, foretelling what was done four hundred years ago, and _A Pleasant Ballad of a bloody fight seen i' th' air_, which, the astrologers say, portends scarcity of fowl this year. The _Ballad of the Unfortunate Lover_. I have _George of Green_, _Chivy Chase_, _Collins and the Devil; or, Room for Cuckolds_, _The Ballad of the London 'Prentice_, _Guy of Warwick_, _The Beggar of Bethnal Green, the Honest Milkmaid; or, I must not wrong my Dame_, _The Honest Fresh Cheese and Cream Woman_. Then I have _The Seven Wise Men of Gotham_, _A Hundred Merry Tales_, _Scoggin's Jests; or, A Book of Prayers and Graces for Young Children_. I have very strange news from beyond seas. The King of Morocco has got the black jaundice, and the Duke of Westphalia is sick of the swine-pox, with eating bacon; the Moors increase daily, and the King of Cyprus mourns for the Duke of Saxony, that is dead of the stone; and Presbyter John is advanced to Zealand; the sea ebbs and flows but twice in four-and-twenty hours, and the moon has changed but once the last month."

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