Archive for September, 2011

London’s Underworld: Being Selections from “Those That Will Not Work”, The Fourth Volume of “London Labour and the London Poor” (book #117)

21 September 2011

ed Peter Quennell, 1950. The fourth volume of London Labour and the London Poor was originally published 1861 by and was by Henry Mayhew, Hemyng, John Binny and Andrew Halliday.

For some reason although my local library has all the volumes of LLatLP, “Those That Will Not Work” is the only one you can borrow.

Here’s a good detailed street scene:

Let us take a picture from the New-cut, Lambeth. We observe many brokers’ shops along the street, with a heterogenous assortment of household furniture, tables, chairs, looking-glasses, plain and ornamental, cupboards, fire-screens, &c., ranged along the broad pavement; while on tables are stores of carpenters’ tools in great variety, copper-kettles, brushes, and bright tin pannikins, and other articles.

We see the dealer standing before his door, with blue apron, hailing the passer-by to make a purchase. Upon stands on the pavement at each side of his shop-door are cheeses of various kinds and of different qualities, cut up into quarters and slices, and rashers of bacon lying in piles in the open windows, or laid out on marble slabs. On deal racks are boxes of eggs, “fresh from the country,” and white as snow, and large pieces of bacon, ticketed as of “fine flavour,” and “very mild.”

Alongside is a milliner’s shop with the milliner, a smart young woman, seated knitting beneath an awning in front of her door. On iron and wooden rods, suspended on each side of the door-way, are black and white straw bonnets and crinolines, swinging in the wind; while on the tables in front are exposed boxes of gay feathers, and flowers of every tint, and fronts of shirts of various styles, with stacks of gownpieces of various patterns.

A green-grocer stands by his shop with a young girl of 17 by his side. On each side of the door are baskets of apples, with large boxes of onions and peas. Cabbages are heaped at the front of the shop, with piles of white turnips and red carrots.

Over the street is a furniture wareroom. Beneath the canvas awning before the shop are chairs of various kinds, straw-bottomed and seated with green or puce-coloured leather, fancy looking-glasses in gilt frames, parrots in cages, a brass-mounted portmanteau, and other miscellaneous articles. An active young shopman is seated by the shop-door, in a light cap and dark apron – with newspaper in hand.

Near the Victoria Theatre we notice a second-hand clothes store. On iron rods suspended over the doorway we find trowsers, vests, and coats of all patterns and sizes, and of every quality dangling in the wind; and on small wooden stands along the pavement are jackets and coats of various descriptious. Here are corduroy jackets, ticketed “15s. and 16s. made to order.” Corduroy trowsers warranted “first rate,” at 7s. 6d. Fustian trowsers to order for 8s. 6d.; while dummies are ranged on the pavement with coats buttoned upon them, inviting us to enter the shop.

In the vicinity we see stalls of workmen’s iron tools of various kinds — some old and rusty, others bright and new.

Re the “red carrots” – see the Carrot Museum and the picture of carrots of different colours on the homepage.

There’s a ballad-singer (who also begs, does odd jobs and steals handkerchiefs (“very clums[ily]y”)) who lists ballads he sings: Gentle Annie; She’s reckoned a good hand at it (can’t find this one); The Dandy Husband (number 25, about three-quarters of the way down the page); The Week’s Matrimony; The Old Woman’s Sayings (can’t find this); John Bull and the Taxes; The Dark-eyed Sailor; The Female Cabin Boy. Good stuff in these, from the Dandy Husband incompetently boiling a magpie and an owl, to the events of each day in The Week’s Matrimony, to the transvestism of The Female Cabin Boy, to John Bull’s complaints about taxes being raised to pay for the royal wedding – “They’re going to tax the women / that go out of doors at night … They’ll tax the bugs and fleas … They will in future tax all children / A week before they’re burn,” and, for good measure, “hang the Quakers”, presumably because they sometimes refuse to pay tax.

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The Tudor Housewife (book #116)

17 September 2011

Alison Sim, 1996.

I would like to know what “yollenes” are. Sims quotes a 1541 translation of Heinrich Bullinger‘s The Christian State of Matrimony, originally published in 1540 (translation seems to have been by Myles Coverdale or Thomas Beccon, and the book was originally called Der christlich Eestand). “Parents were to be sure their daughters

avoyd all unhonest lovers and occasyons of the same, as unhonest daunsynge, wanton communicacion, coommary wythe rybaldes and fthy speachese, teache them to averte their sight and sences from all such unconveniences, let them avoyd yollenes, be occupied wither doing some profitable thyng for your family, or elles readynge some godly book, let them not reade bokes of fables, of fond lyght love, but call upon God to have pure hartes and chaste, that they might cleve only to thyr spouse.”

The word is not in the OED and although I have found the German text online, it is in scanned pages rather than etext so I haven’t been able to find this passage in German and work out what “yollenes” could mean.

Here’s a fifteenth-century boy complaining in his schoolbook:

Thou wyll not beleve how wery I am off fyshe, and how moch I desir that flesh were cum in ageyn, for I have ate non other but salt fysh this Lent, and it hat engendyrde so moch flewme within me that it stoppith my pyps and I can unneth speke nother brethe.

Sim illustrated the book herself, and I like her somewhat stumpy people. Here’s a sixteenth-century marriage ceremony:

Couple under arbour

A Book of Silence (book #115)

4 September 2011

Sara Maitland, 2008.

Talks about living in silence increasing one’s awareness of taste, of the sublety of sounds (eg the different noises in the wind) and of temperature. Also that it makes emotions more “monumental”, “roller-coaster” – “It seems as though speaking, ‘telling’ one’s feelings, even to the extent of ‘look, look how wet I got’, acts as a way of discharging them, like lifting the lid of a boiling pot”.

Discusses the fairy-tale-like accounts of Marguerite de la Rocque, abandoned on an island in Canada in 1542 for immorality, with her lover and her maid. The other two, and her subsequent baby, died, but she herself was resucued two years later. “We have very few details about how she survived, presumably by hunting and fishing. She killed a bear cub as ‘white as an egg’. We know, too, that she was persecuted by demons – they screamed abuse at threats at her in the darkness, and she shot at them through the roof of her hut, and later, when she had no more gunpowder, shouted bits of the Bible at them. But she survived. Eventually she was rescued by some fishermen. … she went home to Picardy and set up a school.”

Here’s the link to the book of the 16th century Heptaméron where the story was first told.

Here’s an interesting interview with Maitland, where she talks, among other things, about having a dog to anchor herself in reality. In this one she talks about her MH issues. She talks in some detail in another one about hearing voices.