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and both crimes were, with the characteristic severity of the time, punishable with death. Stealthily exporting coin to the Continent during the wars (it being often packed and shipped off in barrels, and, in fact, smuggled over in every conceivable way), also subjected the offender to heavy penalties, but was nevertheless ingeniously, and to a large extent, practised by the guards of the Dover and other outport mails, some of whom realised a considerable fortune by it; the value of a guinea on the Continent being 23s. 6d., and, at a later period, even reaching to 28s. One of these speculative offenders against the law was detected through the
very means by which he had hoped to realise an independence. In his anxiety to make an extensive exportation, he had over-estimated the strength of the mail to such a degree, that, in passing over Shooter'shill, it gave way beneath its heavy burden, and what appeared to be mail-bags filled with letters, turned out to be sacks of shining guineas. The money was forfeited and carried to the Mint, and the offender arrested and carried to the roundhouse, therein to moralise upon that beautiful old adage, “ There is many a slip 'tween the cup and the lip."
We fear the contents of this chapter will be considered somewhat heterogeneous, but we could not find, after much cogitation, a more suitable place for these anecdotes of the coinage than under the head of 66 Trade and Commerce."
SERVANTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE, IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
The retinue of men of rank in the last century, especially during a journey, was lavish in the extreme ; albeit, the necessities of the time demanded a numerous attendance for divers reasons, which will be explained anon, but no members of a travelling gentleman's retinue could have had a more arduous duty to perform, or are more completely extinct as a class, than the running footmen. The duty of these servants, who were in fact avant-couriers, was to keep, with no other aid than their own legs, in advance of the cavalcade which was conveying their master from one of his country-seats to another, or perhaps upon a visit to a noble friend, and no doubt it must have given the appearance of great state to his “progress,” to be not only attended by an escort of outriders and horsemen, but preceded by two of these agile forerunners to clear the
way and announce the coming of their lord. Their livery in 1730 was “fine Holland drawers and waistcoats, thread stockings, a blue silk sash, fringed with silver, and a velvet cap, with a large tassel,” and they usually carried in their hands “a huge porter's staff
, with a silver handle ;" or they were “dressed in white with black jockey-caps, and long staffs in their hands." This kind of attendance was a relic of the state of the preceding century, and in Middleton's “Mad World, my Masters," one of the fraternity is greeted as “ linen stockings and threescore miles a day;" but the erudite Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham, in his very learned annotations to the “Bride of Lammer, moor,"testifies to the existence of running footmen at a much later period
-“ I remember me to have seen one of this tribe clothed in white and bearing a staff, who ran daily before the state-coach of the umquible John, Earl of Hopeton, father of this earl, Charles, that now is.”
But we cannot resist the temptation of transferring to our pages the
graphic description of a cortége of this kind, from Sir Walter Scott's masterly romance, which called forth the reminiscence we have quoted from worthy Mr. Cleishbotham :
"Two running footmen, dressed in white, with black jockey-caps, and long staffs in their hands, headed the train, and such was their agility that they found no difficulty in keeping the necessary advance which the etiquette of their station required before the carriage and horsemen. Onward they came, at a long swinging trot, arguing unwearied speed in their long-breathed calling.
“ Behind these glancing meteors, who footed it as if the avenger of blood had been behind them, came a cloud of dust, raised by riders who preceded, attended, or followed the state carriage of the marquis."
Another now defunct member of a nobleman's establishment appears even, exceptionally, at the time we speak of, to have been the fool or jester. We see but little of him, it is true, during the last century, and, in truth, he appears then to have been "going out of fashion, but that he was one of its “curiosities,” we know by Dean Swift's epitaph on the Earl of Suffolk's fool,
Whose name was Dicky Pearce. “In Scotland,” Sir Walter Scott tells us, in his notes to “Waverley," “the custom subsisted till late in the last century,” but it had no doubt become extinct in England some time before.
The scale of wages paid to domestic servants about the middle of the last century, may be gathered from some papers and records relating to one of the oldest baronial halls in England, bearing date 1756, and from which the following are selected :
£ 8. d.
2 2 0
2 12 6 Housekeeper.
2 0 0 Cookmaid ...
1 Chamber and dairymaid
1 2 6 So much for private and domestic servants, and household retainers. Next let us glance at the public servants of the time, and especially the chairmen, shoeblacks, and linkbearers of London.
Of these the chairmen claim priority of notice as the superior class. The people, ever jealous of the rights of man, when they saw, for the first time, a sedan-chair, and that chair occupied by Charles I.'s favourite, Buckingham, did not relish the idea of beings of their own species taking the work of horses ; but they soon grew accustomed to the sight, and during the whole of the last century the sedan was a favourite mode of conveyance to the drawing-room, the levee, the theatre, the assembly, the masquerade, and the private party; We now seldom see it, except in the streets of Bath, carrying some dowager to the assembly-room, or in the streets of London, in its dilapidation, bearing an invalid pauper to the workhouse. The cry of “Chair! chair!" is superseded by that of “ Cab! cab!" and horses take the place of men.
But it was a busy crew that assembled without the theatre doors during the hours of performance, or around the palace gate while the king held
3 3 0
his levee, or the queen her drawing-room. And, when the entertain
, ments were over, forth would issue the fashionable crowd, and impatient shouts of " Chair! chair!" would echo on all sides. Then the chairmen would suspend their mirth or quarrels to hand their passengers into their respective chairs, and each grasping the projecting handles, and slinging the leathern band across his shoulders, trot off, bearing between them their living burden, and followed by the motley crowd of link-bearers or lackeys.
Both in the ingress and egress of the passengers the top of the sedan was lifted up, to enable him to stand upright in it, and as soon as he was seated it was shut down, the front doors fastened, the blinds let down, or curtains drawn, and he was carried home in luxurious state.
Some of these sedans were elegantly fitted up, but the charges were very moderate; the terms generally being one shilling per hour, or a guinea for the week, which included the payment of the two bearers. These men were generally Irish, and were made useful as porters when not engaged in their regular calling. They were a thick-set, thick-legged race, and, either when competing for a fare or regaling themselves upon their earnings, were such a noisy, turbulent, riotous set, as frequently to cause a general commotion in the street, which the
poor old watchmen and constables could not easily suppress. They were also very often playfully, or, as some thought, mischievously disposed, and would run the poles of their chair into the stomach of a passer-by, trample on his toes, force him into the road, or, as Swift's chairmen did, squeeze him against the wall. “The chairmen that carried me squeezed a great fellow against a wall, who wisely turned his back, and broke one of the side glasses in a thousand pieces." --Journal to Stella, February 10, 1710-11.
The chairs kept by “people of quality" were trimmed and fitted up in a luxurious style: The Duchess of Marlborough had one carried
. away by some daring thieves while she was at Lincoln's Inn chapel, which had damask curtains and crimson velvet cushions; and the bearers were expensively caparisoned in cuffs, epaulettes, and laced hats. But the hackney-chairs were only furnished with cloth or leather seats, and white curtains. It is one of this inferior kind that is represented in Hogarth’s “Arrest for Debt” scene of “The Rake's Progress ;” and we are almost tempted to wonder, if we dared, why the artist did not represent, among the other acts of extravagance of the rake, the keeping of a private chair and chairmen.
The pleasures of this mode of riding through the streets are illustrated by Swift, in his description of the progress of a fop in rainy weather:
Boxed in a chair, the beau impatient sits,
The leather sounds-he trembles from within! Another public servant has vanished with the old and dilapidated pavements—the shoeblack. This functionary might seen at the corners of streets with his little stock in trade--a three-legged stool, a ball of blacking, and a brush. Gay, in his " Trivia," sends him forth to his calling with the following instructions :
Go thrive ; at some frequented corner stand ;
Ånd in thy pocket jingling halfpence sound. He establishes himself accordingly at Charing-cross-a very profitable station one would conceive :
The youth straight chose his post, the labour ply'd,
And Whitehall echoes “Clean your honour's shoes P" The “stands” of these worthies were sometimes inherited, sometimes purchased, from the last possessor, and they must have been of some value, for the shoeblack's gains at one time were not by any means inconsiderable--when the pavements abounded in loose and broken stones, and the roadways in holes and quagmires, from which the lumbering vehicles dashed a mass of mud over the foot-passengers ; when crossingsweepers were unknown, and the beau who was picking his way along the filthy pavements was subject to be trodden upon or run against by the trotting and often mischievous chairmen ; when many of the less important streets had no footpaths at all, and the water-spouts from the overhanging roofs made great puddles in those that had them—but his gains were of course precarious, depending in a great measure on the state of the weather and the whereabouts of his station ; his earnings, however, have been estimated at not above eightpence or tenpence a day on the average, of all but the first-rate stations. The shoeblacks were generally cripples, whose infirmity prevented their adopting a more active pursuit.
While the improvements in the cleansing of London took away the trade of the shoeblack, the improvement in its lighting banished his compeer, the linkbearer. This wretched class was composed of the very poorest of lads and men--more generally the former; and, half-clad, with a smoking flambeau in hand, they would crowd around the theatre doors, and show you
chair or carriage, or run by your side to your home for a halfpenny. But Gay does not give this unfortunate tribe a very good character, and insinuates that there was sometimes an understanding between them and the street thieves :
Though thou art tempted by the linkman's call,
And share the booty with the pilfering band. The torchbearers of the upper classes wore the livery of their employers, and were a kind of under-footmen, who attended the carriage on its return from the theatre or the rout, lighted the family from the vehicle up the steps, and then, as the carriage rumbled away to the stables, and the heavy hall-door slammed to, thrust the flambeau into the iron extinguisher at the side of the gate, till it ceased to glare with its broad red light and choking smoke upon the night.
In the midst of the dirt and darkness which called shoeblacks and linkbearers into requisition, another public servant rambled through the streets, or slumbered in his box-the watchman and patrol.
The Londoners of early times were content to sleep under the protection of their trained bands ; then came the “marching watch," who were peripatetic lamps as well ; then the watchmen, such as they existed even into the present century, were preferred; and now we, more timid it may be than our grandsires, or having less implicit confidence in the strength and activity of decrepid watchmen, must needs be protected by day as well as night, and have our “districts” and “divisions" of policemenstrong, sturdy, hardy young fellows, who can protect us if they have the
and who, unlike the aged, weak, and sleepy guardians of our grandfathers, have the prowess of youth and health to give effect to their staves and truncheons.
The police of the last century were certainly far from being an efficient or well-organised body. The infirm and decrepid, who were unable to work, and consequently compelled to apply to "the parish” for relief, were usually considered fit at least for watchmen, and watchmen they were accordingly made. A rattle, a staff, and a treble-caped great-coat were provided for them, and, with these insignia of their office the superannuated paupers were placed in a district, and on a certain “beat,” to protect the lives and properties of the inhabitants. With a little wooden “ box” against the wall, to shelter him from rain or storm (but in which he often snored away the greater portion of the night), and a lantern to light his path, the watchman tottered round his beat, announcing the hour as clearly as a husky cough of some ten years' standing would admit, and then retired to his box, to sleep until the revolution of another hour called him forth again.
“ Pa—a—ast ten o'clock, and a rainy night!”—“Past two o'clock, and a cloudy mo-orning!” were the cries that occasionally aroused the citizen from his sleep, and enlightened him as to the hour and the state of the weather. But now and then there were more warlike sounds than these, and the springing of a rattle, or the feeble cries for “Help!” announced that a conflict was being carried on between the guardians of the night and some gang of desperate offenders. Of course, the bed-ensconced cit was not insane enough in such a state of things to think of “helping,” but got out of bed forthwith, tried the bolts, double-locked the door, and returned to his couch, wondering who would get the best of the affray. In these conflicts the “ Charlies” (for it was one of the whims and fancies of the town to call them so), seldom came scathless, and still more rarely victorious, till at length they refrained from interfering with any of the desperadoes who then infested London.
But the greatest tormentors of the poor old watchmen were the mischief-loving "bloods” and “bucks," who frequently devoted an evening to their especial annoyance. “ Let us go out and tease the Charlies,” some wag would suggest, as the night advanced and the drinking-party began to dissolve. All were anxious for the fray; and no sooner was the proposal made than forth would sally a little
of the staggering bacchanals, intent upon amusement at the expense of the helpless watch. Occasionally a drowsy sentinel would be caught napping in his box, and forthwith the box was overturned; or, still oftener,