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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley


"He must have been a very ingenious young man, that, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, with a slight shudder.

"Just was, sir," replied Mr. Weller, continuing his occupation of emptying the basket, "_and the pies was beautiful_."

The "gravy" given with the meat-pies is poured out of an oil-can and consists of a little salt and water browned. A hole is made with the little finger in the top of the pie and the "gravy" poured in until the crust rises sufficiently to satisfy the young critical gourmand's taste.

"The London piemen," says Mr. Henry Mayhew, "May be numbered at about forty in winter, and twice that number in summer." Calculating that there are only fifty plying their trade the year through, and their average earnings at 8s. a week, we find a street expenditure exceeding L1,040, and a street consumption of pies amounting to nearly three quarters of a million yearly.

[Illustration: YOUNG LAMBS TO SELL.

Young lambs to sell! young lambs to sell. If I'd as much money as I could tell, I'd not come here with young lambs to sell! Dolly and Molly, Richard and Nell, Buy my young lambs, and I'll use you well!]

The engraving represents an old "London Crier," one William Liston, from a drawing for which he purposely _stood_ in 1826.

justify;">This "public character" was born in the City of Glasgow. He became a soldier in the waggon-train commanded by Colonel Hamilton, and served under the Duke of York in Holland, where, on the 6th of October, 1799, he lost his right arm and left leg, and his place in the army. His misfortunes thrust distinction upon him. From having been a private in the ranks, where he would have remained undistinguished, he became one of the popular street-characters of his day.

In Miss Eliza Cook's Poem "Old Cries" she sings in no feeble strain the praises of the old man of her youthful days, who cried--"Merry and free as a marriage bell":--


There was a man in olden time, And a troubador was he; Whose passing chant and lilting rhyme Had mighty charms for me.

My eyes grew big with a sparkling stare, And my heart began to swell, When I heard his loud song filling the air About "Young lambs to sell!"

His flocks were white as the falling snow, With collars of shining gold; And I chose from the pretty ones "all of a row," With a joy that was untold.

Oh, why did the gold become less bright, Why did the soft fleece lose its white, And why did the child grow old?

'Twas a blithe, bold song the old man sung; The words came fast, and the echoes rung, Merry and free as "a marriage bell;" And a right, good troubadour was he, For the hive never swarmed to the chinking key, As the wee things did when they gathered in glee To his musical cry--"Young lambs to sell!"

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