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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley

Speak for himself Illustration London Lackpenny


style="text-align: justify;"> A HISTORY OF THE CRIES OF LONDON.

A HISTORY OF THE CRIES OF LONDON

(Ancient & Modern)

SECOND EDITION

Greatly Enlarged and Carefully Revised.

HISTORY OF THE CRIES OF LONDON.

"Let none despise the merry, merry cries Of famous London Town":--_Rex. Ballad._

The cries of London have ever been very popular, whether as broadsides, books, ballads, or engravings. Artists of all countries and times have delighted to represent those peculiarities of costume and character which belong to the history of street-cries, and the criers thereof. Annibale Carracci--1560-1609--has immortalized the cries of Bologna; and from the time of Elizabeth to that of Queen Victoria, authors, artists and printers combined, have presented the Cries and Itinerant Trades of London, in almost numberless forms, and in various degrees of quality, from the roughest and rudest wood-cut-blocks to the finest of copper and steel plate engravings, or skilfully wrought etchings. While many of the early English dramatists often introduced the subject, eminent composers were wont to "set to music" as catch, glee, or roundelaye, all the London Cries then most

in vogue,--"They were, I ween, ryght merrye songs, and the musick well engraved."

The earliest mention of London trade-cries is by Dan John Lydgate (1370-1450), a Monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, the friend and immediate follower of Geoffrey Chaucer, and one of the most prolific writers of his age this country has produced. To enumerate Lydgate's pieces would be to write out the catalogue of a small library. No poet seems to have possessed a greater versatility of talents. He moves with equal ease in every mode of composition; and among his minor pieces he has left us a very curious poem entitled "London Lyckpeny," _i.e._, _London Lackpenny_: this has been frequently printed; by Strutt, Pugh, Nicolas, and partly by John Stow in "A Survey of London," 1598. There are two copies in the British Museum, Harl. MSS., 367 and 542. We somewhat modernize the text of the former and best of these copies, which differ considerably from each other.

"O Mayster Lydgate! the most dulcet sprynge Of famous rethoryke, with balade ryall The chefe orygynal." _"The Pastyme of Plasure," by Stephen Hawes, 1509._

In "London Lackpenny" we have a most interesting and graphic picture of the hero coming to Westminster, in term time, to obtain legal redress for the wrong he had sustained, and explain to a man of law his case--"_How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood_," but being without the means to pay even the preliminary fee, he was sent--"from pillar to post," that is from one Law-court to another, but although he "_crouched, kneeled, prayed for God's sake, and Mary's love_, he could not get from one the--_mum of his mouth_." So leaving the City of Westminster--minus his hood, he walked on to the City of London, which he tells us was crowded with peripatetic traders, but tempting as all their goods and offers were, his _lack-of-money_ prevented him from indulging in any of them--But, however, let _Lackpenny_, through the ballad, speak for himself:--

[Illustration: London Lackpenny.]

To London once my steps I bent, Where truth in no wise should be faint, To Westminster-ward I forthwith went, To a man of law to make complaint, I said, "for Mary's love, that Holy saint! Pity the poor that would proceed," But, for lack of money, I could not speed.


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