Joseph Addison, from The Spectator, No. 251

The Spectator, a popular series of periodical essays that appeared daily (except Sundays) in 1711–12 and 1714, was written by Addison and Richard Steele. In addition to influential social and literary criticism, it popularized current philosophical and scientific notions, set standards of taste and manners, and appealed to city readers (and readers who followed city fashions) by providing vivid descriptions of the life of the town.

[The Cries of London]

[Click on image to enlarge] There is nothing which more astonishes a Foreigner and frights a Country Squire, than the Cries of London. My good Friend, Sir Roger, often declares that he cannot get them out of his Head, or go to sleep for them the first Week that he is in Town. On the contrary, Will. Honeycomb calls them the Ramage de la Ville, >> note 1 and prefers them to the Sounds of Larks and Nightingales, with all the Musick of the Fields and Woods. * * *

The Cries of London may be divided into Vocal and Instrumental. As for the latter, they are at present under a very great Disorder. A Freeman of London has the Privilege of disturbing a whole Street for an hour together, with the twancking of a Brass Kettle or a Frying-Pan. The Watchman's Thump >> note 2 at Midnight startles us in our Beds, as much as the breaking in of a Thief. * * *

Vocal Cries are of a much larger Extent, and indeed so full of Incongruities and Barbarisms, that we appear a distracted City, to Foreigners, who do not comprehend the Meaning of such Enormous Outcries. Milk is generally sold in a Note above Elah, >> note 3 and in Sounds so exceedingly shrill, that it often sets our Teeth an edge. The Chimney Sweeper is confined to no certain pitch; he sometimes utters himself in the deepest Base, and sometimes in the lowest Note of the Gamut. The same Observation might be made on the Retailers of Small-cole, not to mention broken Glasses or Brick-dust. * * *

[Click on image to enlarge] Some of these last-mentioned Musicians are so very loud in the Sale of these trifling Manufactures, that an honest Splenetick Gentleman of my Acquaintance bargained with one of them never to come into the Street where he lived; But what was the effect of this Contract? why, the whole Tribe of Cardmatch-makers which frequent that Quarter, passed by his Door the very next Day, in hopes of being bought off after the same manner.

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