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Gooseberry Fairs of Clerkenwell and Tottenham Court Road, (the minor Newmarket and Doncaster of Donkey-racing!) are come to a brick-and-mortary end. High-smoking chimneys and acres of tiles shut out the once pleasant prospect, and their Geffray Gambados (now grey-headed jockeys!) sigh, amidst macadamisation and dust, for the green sward where in their hey-day of life they witched the fair with noble donkey ship!-Croydon (famous for roast pork‡
The Act 12 of Queen Anne aimed at the suppression of the Moorfields' merriments. The showmen asked Justice Fuller to license them in April, 1717, but in vain. Fuller had a battle-royal with Messrs. Saunders and Margaret, two Middlesex justices, who sided with the conjurers, and forbade the execution of his war. rant. Justice Fuller, however, having declared war against Moorfields mountebanking, was inexorable, and committed the insurgents to the house of correction; from whence, after three hours' durance vile, they were released by three other magistrates.
Kennington Common was also a favourite spot for this odd variety of sports. It was here that Mr. Mawworm encountered the brick-bats of his congregation, and had his pious tail' illuminated with the squibs and crackers of the unregenerate.
This fair commenced in the New River pipe-fields, and continued in a direct line as far as the top of Elm street, where it terminated. The equestrians always made a point of galloping their donkeys furiously past the house of correction.
† April 9, 1748.-At the Amphitheatrical Booth at Tottenham Court, on Monday next (being Easter Monday,) Mr. French, designing to please all, in making his Country Wake complete, by doubling the prizes given to be played for, as well as the sports, has already engaged some of the best gamesters, Country against London to make sides. For Cudgelling, a laced hat, value one pound five shillings, or one guinea in gold; for Wrestling, one guinea; Money for Boxing, besides Stage. money. And, to crown the diversion of the day, he gives a fine Smock to be jigged for by Northern Lasses against the Nymphs to the westward of St. Giles's Churchto be entered at the Royal Oak, in High street, by Hob, Clerk of the Revels, or his deputy. To prevent disorder, no gamester or others will be admitted without a ticket, or paying at the door. Those who engage, their money to be returned. The doors will be opened at eleven o'clock; the sport to begin at two. Cudgelling as usual before the prizes. Best seats, Two Shillings; Pit and First Gallery, One Shilling; Upper Gallery, Sixpence.'
Mr. French advertises, May 12, 1748, at his booth at Tottenham Court, six men sewed up in sacks to run six times the length of the stage backwards and forwards for a prize-a prize for wrestling and da cing to the pipe and tabor,-and the gladiator's dance. He also kept the race-course on Tothill. Fields, August 4, 1749.
August 8, 1730.-At Reynolds' Great Theatrical Booth, in Tottenham Court, during the time of the Fair, will be presented a Comical, Tragical, Farcical Droll, called The Rum Duke and the Queer Duke, or a Medley of Mirth and Sorrow. To which will be added, a celebrated Operatical Puppet.Show, called Punch's Oratory, or the Pleasures of the Town; containing several diverting passages, particularly a very elegant dispute between Punch and another great Orator (Henley ?); Punch's Family Lecture, or Joan's Chimes on her tongue to some tune. No Wires-all alive! With entertainments of Dancing by Monsieur St. Lucc, and
At the London Spaw (1754), during the accustomed time of the Welsh Fair, will be the usual entertainment of Roast Pork, with the famed soft-flavoured Spaw Ale, and every other liquor of the neatest and best kinds, agreeable entertain. ments, and inviting usage from the Publick's most obedient servant, George Dowdell.'
Talking of Welsh Fairs, reminds us of a Dutch Fair that was held at Frogmore in the year 1795, when a grand fête was given by King George the Third in celebration of his Queen's birth-day, and the recent arrival of the Princess of Wales. A number of dancers were dressed as haymakers; Mr. Byrne and his company danced the Morris-dance; and Savoyards, in character, assisted at the merriments. Feats of horsemanship were exhibited by professors from the Circus; and booths erected, with signs on the outside, for good eating and drinking within, and the sale of toys, work. bags, pocket-books, and fancy articles. Munden, Rock, and Incledon diverted the company with their mirth and music; and Majesty participated in the
and new walnuts!) Harley-Bush, and Barnet, are as yet unsuppressed; but the demons of mischief-[the English populace (their Majesty the Many!) are notorious for this barbarity]-have totally destroyed the magnificent oak, the growth of ages, that made Fairlop Fair the favourite rendezvous of the better sort of holiday folks, who could afford a tandem, tax-cart, or Tim-whisky. How often have we sat, and pirouetted too, under its venerable shade!
May Fair, (which began on May-day,) during the early part of the last century, was much patronised by the nobility and gentry. It had, nevertheless, its Ducking Pond for the ruder class of holiday makers. In a fore one-pair room, on the west side of Sun.court, a Frenchman exhibited, during the time of May Fair, the astonishing strength of the "Strong Woman," his wife.' Though short, she was
general joy. The Royal Dutch Fair lasted two days, and was under the tasteful di. rection of the Princess Elizabeth.
By an act passed 3d of 2d Victoria, (not Victoria for the Fair!) it was render. ed unlawful to hold Fairlop Fair beyond the first Friday ( Friday's a dry day!') in July. This was the handiwork of the Barking Magistrates.
And when I walk abroad let no dog bark!'
June 25, 1748.-At May Fair Ducking Pond, on Monday next, the 27th inst., Mr. Hooton's dog Nero (a poor old dog ten years old, hardly a tooth in his head to hold a duck, but well known for his goodness to all that have seen him hunt) hunts six ducks for a guinea, against the bitch called the Flying Spaniel, from the Duck. ing Pond the other side of the water, who has beat all she has hunted against, excepting Mr. Hooton's Good-Blood. To begin at two o'clock.
Mr. Hooton begs his customers won't take it amiss to pay twopence admittance at the gate, and take a ticket, which will be allowed as cash in their reckoning. And no person admitted without a ticket, that such as are not liked may be kept out. Note. Right Lincoln Ale.
But poor old toothless Nero, with his art and skill,
Apropos of other mirthful rendezvous,
A new Ducking Pond to be opened on Monday next at Limehouse Cause, being the 11th August, where four dogs are to play for Four Pounds, and a lamb to be roasted whole, to be given away to gentlemen sportsmen: and several other matches more that day. To begin at ten o'clock in the forenoon.'—Postman, 7th August, 1707.
Erith Diversion, 24th May, 1790.-This is to acquaint the public, that on WhitMonday, and during the holidays, the undermentioned diversions will take place. First, a new Hat to be run for by men; a fine Ham to be played for at Trap-ball; a pair of new Pumps to be jumped for in a sack; a large Plum-pudding to be sung for; a Guinea to be cudgelled for-with smoking, grinning through a collar, with many other diversions, too tedious to mention.
N. B. A Ball in the evening, as usual.
But what are the hopes of man! A cruel press-gang (this is the freedom of the press with a vengeance! this the boasted monarchy of the middle classes!) interrupted and put an end to these water-side sports.
If the following Kentish gentleman ever lost his appetite, the finder of it must have been ruined. Kent has long been renowned for strong muscles and strong stomachs!
'Bromley in Kent, July 14, 1726.-A strange eating worthy is to perform a Tryal of Skill on St. James's day, which is the day of our Fair, for a wager of five guincas -viz.; he is to eat four pounds of bacon, a bushel of French beans, with two pounds of butter, a quartern loaf, and to drink a gallon of strong beer!'
The old proverb of buttering bacon' here receives farinaceous illustration.
This was probably Mrs. Alchorne, who had exhibited as the Strong Woman,' and died in Drury-Lane in 1817, at a very advanced age. Madame also performed at Bartholomew Fair, 1752.
beautifully formed, and of a lovely countenance. She first let down her hair, (a light auburn,) of a length descending to her knees, which she twisted round the projecting part of a blacksmith's anvil, and then lifted the ponderous weight from the floor. She also put her bare feet on a red-hot salamander, without receiving the least injury. May Fair is now become the site of aristocratical dwellings, where a strong purse is required to procure a standing. At Horn Fair, a party of humorists, of both sexes, cornuted in all the variety of BullFeather fashion, after perambulating round Cuckold's Point, startled the little quiet village of Charlton on St. Luke's day, shouting their emulation, and blowing voluntaries on rams' horns, in honour of their patron saint. Ned Ward gives a curious picture of this odd ceremony-and the press of Stonecutter-street (the worthy successor of Aldermary Church-yard) has consigned it to immortality in two Broadsides, inspired by the Helicon of the Fleet,
'Around whose brink
Bards rush in droves, like cart-horses to drink,
Dip their dark beards among its streams so clear,
and illustrated by the Cruikshank of his day. Mile-end Green, in ancient times, had its popular exhibitions, which almost constituted a fair!
'Lord Pomp, let nothing that's magnificall,
As though we saw, and feared not to be seene.'
And the royal town of Windsor,† and the race.course in TothillFields, were not without their merriments.
*A New Summons to all the Merry (Wagtail) Jades to attend at Horn Fair?A New Summons to Horn Fair: both without date, with wood-cuts.
+ The Three Lordes and Three Ladies of London,' 1590.
On Wednesday the 13th, at Windsor, a piece of plate is to be fought for at cudgels by ten men on a side, f: om Berkshire and Middlesex. The next day a hat and feather to be fought for by ten men on a side, from the counties aforesaid. Ten Bargemen are to eat ten quarts of hasty-pudding. well buttered, but d-d hot! He that has done first to have a silver spoon of ten shillings value; and the second five shillings. And as they have anciently had the title of The Merry Wives of Windsor, six old women belonging to Windsor town challenge any six old women in the universe (we need not, however, go farther than our own country!) to outscold them. The best in three heats to have a suit of head-cloths, and (what old women generally want) a pair of nut crackers.'-Read's Journal, September 9, 1721.
"According to Law. September 22, 1749.-On Wednesday next, the 27th inst., will be run for by Asses, (!!) in Tothill Fields, a purse of gold, not exceeding the value of Fifty Pounds. The first will be entitled to the gold; the second to two pads; the third to thirteen pence halfpenny; the last to a halter, fit for the neck of any ass in Europe. Each ass must be subject to the following articles :
No person will be allowed to ride but Taylors and Chimney-sweepers; the for
OPINIONS OF THE TIMES.'
BY HAL WILLIS.
THE Cobbler declares the times want 'mending,'-that his 'little awl' is insufficient to support him, although he is the 'last' to complain.
The watchmakers say their watches 'don't go,' and they shall be 'wound up' if the spring' does not produce a movement.' Even the undertakers complain that their trade is 'dead;' and the little ale brewers, that everything in their line is flat, stale, and unprofitable.' Cabinet-makers are compelled to return their bills to their 'drawers;' and chair-manufacturers vow they have not a 'leg to stand on.'
Bed-manufacturers say these are not times for 'feathering their nests,' and that they are obliged to bolster up' their business by getting 'tick' wherever they can.
The trunk-makers, when others talk of distress, hold up their hands and cry, they never saw such a deal,' and that they daily see more cases of distress than packing-cases!
The little wine merchant declares, like the 'cabin-boy,' that he is' wrecked in sight of port!'
The poulterer, that purchasing stock is really making ducks and drakes' of his money, for all his customers are 'on the wing.'
The rope-maker finds 'spinning a long yarn' as unprofitable as an author's writing 'wonderful tales' without the prospect of a publisher, and thinks seriously of making a rope for himself.
The hackney-coachman says that the omnibuses have run away with his customers, and that his vocation is all at a―stand!
Ask the market-gardener 'How are turnips?' or 'How are potatoes?' and he answers that they are 'Flat-very flat.'
And thus it is with every calling and profession. Some have recourse to emigration, and, of course, many journey-men become travellers from necessity.
The philosophers say there is no such thing as colour, yet the times certainly look black, and everybody looks blue.
The want of money is undoubtedly universal, and the smallest change would be acceptable.
mer to have a cabbage-leaf fixed to his hat, the latter a plumage of white feathers; the one to use nothing but his yard-wand, and the other a brush.
No jockey-tricks, too commonly practised, will be allowed upon any consider.
No one to strike an ass but the rider, lest he thereby cause a retrograde motion, under a penalty of being ducked three times in the river.
'No ass will be allowed to start above thirty years old, or under ten months, nor any that has won above the value of fifty pounds.
No ass to run that has been six months in training, particularly above stairs, lest the same accident happen to it that did to one nigh a town ten miles from London, and that for reasons well known to that place.
Each ass to pay sixpence entrance, three farthings of which are to be given to the old clerk of the race, for his due care and attendance.
'Every ass to carry weight for inches, if thought proper.''
Then follow a variety of sports, with an ordinary of proper victuals, particularly for the riders, if desired.'
'Run, lads, run! there's rare sport in Tothill Fields!"
FAIR seems she unto mortal sight
As forms which haunt the dreaming-land;
A calm and gentle sense of power
And to the deep affections shrined
The spirit of a lofty race
Breaks through the softness of her mien; Yet blends she still, with matchless grace, The woman with the Queen!
Let England's chivalry draw nigh
Her throne, to watch with holiest zeal,-
And England's people round her form
And while her goodness charms away
From Faction's self its subtlest wiles,
My mother, most beloved! upon thy breast
Now let my tears flow forth!-The pomp is o'er, And the strong rush of feelings, late suppressed
In their full tide, may be controlled no more!
I have kept down my swelling heart, and stood
My nature's weakness through th' o'erpowering scene.
A Mighty Nation's voice, with loud acclaim,
Hath hailed me Sov'reign of the brave and free, And mingled rapturous blessings with my name!I wait a holier benison from thee!