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THE POOR MAN'S SATURDAY NIGHT flood of light as day never pours upon the scene. IN LONDON.

Broad flaring streams of gas are burning on all CHAPTER II. .

sides, and the minutest article in the remotest The cheap furniture and omnium-gatherum repo- cavity is distinctly visible in the clear and shadowsitories are on Saturday night bathed in such a less glare. Numerous salesmen are active both

No. 62, 1853.

within and without the overstocked marts, and rear of the young couple, who pioneer the way ti constant appeals are made to the passers-by, as their humble lodgings. Jolin, as he walks slowly though it were a fact not to be doubted, that every along, feels considerably mystified on the subject person there was in search of some particular of the articles he has bought. He knows that, had article. It is worth while to pause a moment and they been made in his master's workshop, they watch the tactics of the salesman employed. The would have cost more in production than he has bland politeness of the ordinary shopman is not to paid for them, and he wonders where the profit to be found here; so far from conciliating, it would the dealer can come from, the goods being new. nauseate the generality of the customers. The He is ignorant of the existence of a numerous class utmost you can expect is a plain matter-of-fact of small manufacturers known by the denomination civility. Where a vast number of low-priced com- of “garret-masters," who, employing no other modities are sold at a very small profit, as is the hands than those of their own families, purchase case in most of these dusty museums, time cannot refuse timber, which they work up during the week, be wasted in effecting a sale : so the salesman and then, under the compulsion of necessity, dispose too often cultivates a species of disreputable elo of their manufactures on the Saturday at whatever quence which, among unscrupulous employers, is price the brokers choose to fix upon them. significantly termed "bounce.". The possession of While John and Mary Jones, pleased with their this peculiar qualification enables the salesman to first exploit in furnishing, are slowly wending their exercise in his transactions with his customers a way homewards, we shall saunter through the species of despotism, which must however be of such Saturday-night market, and take a glance at the a character, being seasoned with humour or the motley and ever-moving panorama which it preaffectation of it, as not to give offence. It is curious sents to view. Owing to the system of late payto notice how cleverly the affair is managed by a ments which prevails in too many establishments, practised hand. While loudly talking down all ob- there is a constant stream of working men's wives, jections, he contrives in the same breath to cajole, who have but just received their market money, to deprecate, to flatter, and to overrule the hesitat- and are hastening to lay in a stock of provisions ing customer, and to despatch a treaty which for the morrow, or it may be for the best part of threatened to linger for an hour in less than three the ensuing week. Basket on arm, they group minutes; and this indeed he is obliged to do, or his round the vegetable stalls, sounding the cabbages employer would lose money by the transaction. and lettuces, pressing the potatoes with vigorous

These attractive museams are besieged by crowds thumb, or poising green peas by the handful to of chaffering purchasers up to the hour of mid- judge of their contents by weight. Here a weathernight. Groups of labouring men rummage among worn matron is musing pensively over a barrel of the tool-boxes; boys and lads are tuning, and brine-sodden pork, from which she finally extracts scraping, and twanging away at the fiddles; sports- a hand or a breast, for which she strikes a bargain men are snapping fowling-pieces, or whipping the at sixpence a pound. The butcher with untirair with fishing-rods; poor scholars are routing ing lungs is still firing off his " buy! buy! buy! among the books for some threepenny classic; what d'ye buy ?" and his assistants are busy as spectacled connoisseurs are peering in vain through bees, haggling, chaffering, chopping and weighing the black varnish of a suppositious Vandyke; and pounds and half-pounds of steak or chop, with now thrifty housewives are cheapening kettles and and then a small joint. There is a steady and crockery, or buying a brace of flat-irons for a clattering din, continuons as the noise of a rushing shilling with a view to the next washing-day's stream, rising from all sides, varied occasionally by exploits. John Jones pulls up instinctively at the an uproarious scream or a drunken yell. At the slop. sight of the tools, among which he discerns some shop under the awning the traffic is at its height: which would be of use to him in his own trade; labouring men are trying on fustian jackets and but Mary pulls him out of temptation, and drags gaudy crimson waistcoats, or half throttling themhim away to the furniture-broker's next door, who selves with spotted " belchers;" anxious mothers, has a stout table and a set of cane chairs of a very leading their ragged urchin sons by the hand, are jaunty pattern, upon which she has set her heart. fitting their matted heads with a fourpenny cap, or

“What is the article you are looking for to their protruding toes with a pair of cheap Sunday night, ma'am P" says the broker, who has seen her shoes ; a navigator is cheapening a pair of ironglancing at the table on previous evenings. Step soled bluchers of seven pounds weight ; while a in, ma'am ; step in, sir; and look at the article." slatternly girl bids ninepence for a wrinkled pair of

John steps in, and overhauls the tables and dancing-shoes, which she stuffs into her pocket, chairs, and demands the price. The price, to his ber basket being already overloaded with greens, astonishment, is less than he could have antici- potatoes, bread, and a pig's face. pated—less indeed than he, who is a working hand The pawnbroker's shop is crammed full with his at the cabinet-making business, knows they could thriftless and improvident patrons. It is going to be made for if a fair price were paid for labour and be a fine day to-morrow; the weather has set in material. Impressed with this conviction, John fair, and there is no fear of rain ; on this account, hums and haws, and begins fumbling for his purse; Tom and Ned and Harry, and Nelly and Sally but Mary, who like too many people in this age of and Madge, and the whole of the improvident competition has no notion of giving the full amount pledge-taking fraternity and sisterhood, are flockof any body's demand if she can help it, insists upon ing to the golden balls to get their best clothes out an abatement in the sam total, and eventually suc- of pawn, that they may not be shut up at home ceeds in reducing by half-a-crown the amount to fer want of something to appear abroad in. Coats, be paid for the table and chairs. They are paid waistcoats, and trowsers—and shawls, dresses, and for, piled upon a truck, and wheeled off in the mantles—are tumbling down the spont in ticketed bundles all the evening long, and being handed | appeals may be genuine, but the probability is that over to the expectant owners, who, without a he has hired the children of their beggarly mothers, thought of extravagance, are paying from twenty at sixpence a head for the night, and there is no to fifty per cent. per annum for the temporary use doubt but he will make a good speculation of it or abuse of the paltry sum raised upon them. On before the night is over, and in all probability get the other hand, clothes and household necessaries drunk with the proceeds. are brought to the general depository by the starv- Another very remunerative deception is "the ing, the sick, the unfortunate, or the unemployed; poor gentleman.”. A young fellow of five-andwho, but for the few pence or shilling or two thus, twenty, with a pale, sallow, and woe-begone comdesperately secured, would be dinnerless on the plexion, stands with his back against a gas-lamp morrow. You may mark a decided expression of or the wall. He is clad in an undeniable gentlerecklessness in the countenances of most of these manly garb of refined black cloth, threadbare and regular patrons of the money-lender, and with shabby by constant wear ; a snow-white collar equal certainty you may recognise the aspect of contrasts forcibly with the jaundiced hue of his vexation and disappointment which characterizes sickly countenance; and snow-white wristbands of the rest. One unpleasant trait is too general unspotted cleanliness, but fringed and jagged at among the pawners, and it is evidenced by their the edges to denote his poverty and the hardness immediate resort to the gin-shop, so soon as they of his struggle to maintain a genteel appearance, emerge from the temple of the golden balls: they half conceal his skeleton fingers, in which he unhappily prefer the pawnbroker's pledge to the grasps a single box of lucifer matches. Around temperance pledge, and the consequence is that his brow there is a fillet of white linen, and he their property, even to their clothes, is reduced to wears a green shade over his eyes. His tout a pocketful of dog's-eared duplicates, while their ensemble, as he hangs his head in an angle indicahealth and morals are irretrievably ruined. tive of broken-hearted dejection, presents a spec

We must not omit one repulsive feature, which tacle of melancholy reverse of fortune and unmerited unhappily is never wanting in the poor man's degradation, against which the hearts of poor men Saturday-night market. You can scarcely stand and their wives are not proof, and you may see a minute in any part of it without recognising its them, with a half-expressed sympathetic moan, disgraceful presence. We allude to the multifa- dropping into his open hand a share of their hardrious trade in impostures of all sorts which is won gains, which the unprincipled fellow will carried on during the few hours preceding mid- dissipate before the dawn in the nocturnal orgies night, wherever the poor and the labouring classes of some den of thieves and cadgers, among whom are drawn together to spend their hard earn- he is renowned as a universal genius. Blind men, ings. Just on the same principle as the shop: with a pair of excellent eyes under a bandage, chant keepers and stall-owners prepare their goods and their lying ditties. Men, who could walk you six display their various manufactures to tempt the miles an hour if anything were to be got by it, hobble desires of the monied cnstomer, so do the vile about on wooden legs, bawling ballads for sale by dealers in simulated misery and misfortune prepare the yard, and begging your custom for an old tar their harrowing and heart-rending exhibitions to lamed for life in a cruise against the slave ships

speculate upon the sympathy of the charitable off the African coast. Wretched women, with | poor. Every Saturday night in London, the lame, half-clad infants at the breast-borrowed babes,

the halt and the blind, the maimed, the mutilated which will have to be returned in an hour or two and the crippled, the widowed and the deserted, -unite their squalling voices to the general are manufactured by hundreds to reap the harvest hubbub. Fictitious cripples, proof against any of a certain amount of benevolence which is known quantity of liquor, and steeped in falsehood to their to characterise the lower orders of the London lips, are chanting pious hymns to psalm tunes, working populace, the majority of whom, it should and turning their bleared eyes to heaven as though le remembered, are not Londoners born, but they had bidden farewell to hope upon earth. country-bred artisans who have come hither in Even children of tender age, trained to these pursuit of employment. These miscreants display atrocious deceptions, exhibit themselves upon the a wonderful ingenuity in the concoction of their kerb-stones, crying and moaning with anguish, in stratagems and disguises. If the weather be dry the character of desolate orphans without food to and fine, as on the present occasion, they resort to eat or a shelter for the night. These villanous some irreparable calamity as their stock-in-trade, deceptions all originate in the fact universally such as total blindness or a semi-paralysis. If, known, that the poor are ever ready to help the however, it rain, hail, and blow a tempest, and the distressed ; and it is true beyond a doubt, that the roads are running with streams of liquid mud, unsuspecting benevolence of the lower and labourthen the domestic-misery sham is most profitable, ing ranks has given rise to a thousand devices of and, in the place of one paralytic subject jabbering unblushing fraud, which makes a prey of their on crutches, you will see a regular pyramid of charitable tendencies. motherless children, all with clean faces and clean These impostors, however, are not the only white aprons, -standing bare-headed in the rain, claimants for the stray coins of the crowd. It is and headed by a decent respectable-looking man, in the Saturday-night's market that the aspiring who intones a doleful tale about his want of work, street musician makes his first début before the his long sojourn in the hospital, and the death of public. If he be master of nothing in the world his wife, who has left him with six helpless babes, but a cracked fife, and if he can play but one tune for whose hapless sake he is compelled to appeal upon that-still he brings it to the market, and to your compassion, as sickness prevents him from plays his one tune, and holds out his hat for a working in their behalf. In some instances such reward. ' It is here that boys and girls make their

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first attempt upon the fiddle; and lads blowing and clamour around the street-stalls in the most alarming blasts upon battered bugles and Marsh is ceaseless and deafening. The little rag. twenty-second-hand French horns. Antiquated ged urchin is still roaring “buy my last bunch of and asthmatic paupers here bray away with im- onions," having sold a dozen last bunches within punity, if not with encouragement, upon cracked the last two hours. The tinman has got rid of the clarionets, or rasp out groaning cadences upon major part of his pots and kettles, and, being by home-made violoncellos, which, being lengthened this time half inebriated, is offering the remainder by a stout staff nailed to the back, serve for a at a price plainly unremunerative. The earthencrutch as well as a musical instrument. Little ware and crockery, which two hours ago was a sham Highlanders with bare legs blow away at goodly pile, has nearly all walked off the ground, the bag-pipes withont any idea of a melody; and and the whole stock has dwindled down to a men in smock-frocks, who have neither ears nor few mugs and jugs, brown glazed pans, and voices, roar the words of an old song to a tune baking dishes, most of which are in the hands which was never heard before. All this, and much of intending purchasers and undergoing certain more, which would not be tolerated in any other place violent applications of the fist and knuckles calcuor at any other time, meets with encouragement lated to test their soundness and integrity. The at this hour of the week and in the locality of the poor flower-seller has parted with most of her market. The reason is not difficult to discover : nosegays, but still sits with her pale and withered the people who are there themselves to make pro- face among the ruddy wall-flowers, with a ball of vision for the morrow, recognise in every effort to thread in her lap with which she is quietly tying earn a penny, by whatever means, an attempt to up more halfpenny bunches. The weaver of toastdo the same, or to procure the means of doing it. ing-forks has disappeared, it is to be hoped with They know that this is the last opportunity in the the means of buying something to toast for himself. week for the exercise of any calling, and, with the The fire-screen carver has followed in the same love of fair-play so common to Englishmen, they track. The fish for the most part have floated off, are unwilling to abridge any man's chance of doing and the huge piles of whelks upon the groaning what he can for himself. Nay, more than this, it boards have been transformed into crushed and is observable that the discordant wailings of a trodden masses of shells under them. The pickled wretched and untaught musician will frequently eels and the pickled salmon, which kept them elicit, through compassion for his woeful want of company, exist no longer, unless it be as pickled skill, a contribution towards procuring him a meal Jones or pickled Robinson—they having all been for the morrow, which, perhaps, had he been more swallowed standing, by labouring men and their expert in his art, he would not have obtained. wives, with whom a stall-supper in the street is a

It is now growing late : eleven o'clock has weekly symposium. Of vegetables, however, there struck; the throng, though it has not decreased in is yet a goodly store on hand, which on all sides are numbers, has been for the last hour gradually changing owners with the utmost rapidity of which changing in character. The middle-class house such a species of commerce is susceptible. wives, who make good use of this market, and the But there is one species of commerce, of which, more respectable order of working men and women, repulsive as it is in its aspect, we must take a have nearly all left the spot, and their places are momentary view, for it excels all others in the rafilled by a lower grade of the population. Too pidity of its consummation. The commerce we many of these, alas! are in a state of semi-intoxica- allude to is that carried on at the gin-shop,

some have been dragged forth by their wives where men and women, boys and girls, and even from the public-houses, and it seems very problema- children, barter their health and their reason for tical whether they have sense enough, if they have the stimulus of a brief excitement. Let us look money enough, without the aid of the women, to in at one of these painted and gilded dens. The make a prudent provision for the morrow. Some interior is glittering aloft with crystal and burof the more respectable shopkeepers begin to make nished brass, while it is crammed below with rags, demonstrations of closing for the night : goods vice, and demoralization. Here, in a corner, a that have lain all day on the pavement are silently drunkard without a shirt, a mere snoring mass of moved into the interior ; gilded mirrors are veiled filth and squalor, is sleeping himself sober after a in canvass shrouds; the flaring gas is turned par- debauch ; wretched women, begrimed with dirt and tially down to a modest light; and one after tawdry with finery, are clamorous for the intoxicatanother the dealers in heavy articles close up their ing draft that drowns reflection. Fighting Irishhuge fronts and wind up the traffic of the week. men are groaning out ribald jokes, and, already But now the slop-seller, the shoe-shop, the butcher, half inebriated, are anticipating the delights of a grocer, baker, vegetable dealer, and general provi- fray. Working men's wives, with their provisionsion merchants are busier than ever. There is laden baskets on their arms, are luxuriating-alas! hardly an hour to elapse before midnight, and that it should be so-over their weekly dram, the thousands of customers have yet to be supplied. price of which they have rescued from the spare The ceremony of bargaining now becomes marvel allowance of market-money by vociferous haggling lously abbreviated; there is little time for judo with the dealers. Old men are anxiously watching ment or selection. Those who have deferred their the replenishing of their darling black-bottles purchases to the last moment have now but a which, in conjunction with the democratic Sunday brief period allowed them to decide, so great is the newspaper, are to supply the customary sedative repress of business in all quarters. Among these creation of the morrow afternoon and evening. are many who have but just received their wages, Thieves and pickpockets, to whom this temple of and who are forced by their employers, weekly to ruin and debauch is common ground, here liquiundergo this loss and inconvenience. The crowd-date their ill-gotten cash, and rub shoulders with


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