« AnteriorContinuar »
keeping disorderly houses; nuisances against different acts of parliament; acts of vagrancy by fraudulent lottery insurers; gaming houses; fortune tellers, or persons of ill fame found in avenues to public places, with an intent to rob; watching over the conduct of publicans; swearing in; charging and instructing parochial constables and head-boroughs from year to year, with regard to their duty; issuing warrants for privy searches, and in considering the cases of persons charged with being disorderly persons, or rogues and vagabonds, liable to be punished under the act of the 17th George II. cap. 5. and subse◄ quent acts of parliament; in making orders to parish officers, beadles, and constables, in a variety of cases; in parish removals; in billeting soldiers; in considering the cases of poor persons applying for assistance, or admission to workhouses; in granting certificates and orders to the wives of persons serving in the militia, and also in attesting recruits for the army; and for examining persons accused of treason, murder, coinage, and uttering base money; arson; manslaughter; forgery; burglary; larceny; sedition; felonies of various descriptions; conɛpiracies; frauds; riots; assaults, and misdemeanours of different kinds.
The following is a Statement of the Force of the Police existing in the Metropolis.
In the City of London-the marshalmen, beadles, and constables amount to
Watchmen and patroles
In the City and Liberty of Westminster-con
Division of Kensington and Chelsea-constables
Watchmen and patroles
Borough of Southwark-constables
Watchmen and patroles
Seven Police Offices, including Bow Street-officers
The whole number of persons
A few old men, called watchmen, mostly without arms, are the only guard through the night against depredations; and a few magistrates and police officers are the only per sons whose employment is to detect and punish depreda< tors; yet no city, in proportion to its population, is more free from danger to those who pass the streets at all hours, or from depredation, open or concealed, on property. This is an actual phenomenon in this metropolis; and is not to be explained on systems of police, but belongs to that happy union of moral causes, the chief of which the ancient freedom of all ranks in England, which have planted deep in the minds of the poorest a love of social order, and a willingness to earn a subsistence by industry.
One of the most dangerous class of swindlers are, pretended porters or clerks who attend about the doors of inns, at the time coaches are unloading; or, who watch the arrival of post-chaises at the doors of coffee-houses. These fellows, by various artifices, frequently obtain possession of the luggage of a traveller, who has occasion to lament the want of suspicion in the loss of his clothes and other effects.
Another formidable nuisance to strangers is, the address and nimbleness of pickpockets, who mix in every crowd, attend about the windows of print-shops, and frequent all public exhibitions and places of amusement. Persons who reside in London seldom suffer from this species of theft; they never permit the familiar advances of a stranger, however plausible his appearance, and whenever they have occasion to mix in a crowd, or to go to public places, they
do not carry with them any articles of great value, or they keep their attention fixed on their pockets. A man who saunters about London with pockets on the outside of his coat, or who mixes in great crowds with much property about him, without an especial care of his pockets, deserves no pity on account of the losses he may sustain.
Servants from the country are frequently swindled out of their master's property, by being intercepted, in their way to deliver a parcel, by a swindler, who pretends he was directed to meet the servant and receives the parcel. A servant should on no account whatever, deliver a parcel entrusted to him, till it is within the house at which it is to be delivered. A species of swindlers, numerous and successful, are in the habit of finding diamond rings and crosses in the public streets; the trick is an old one, bnt persons from the country suffer very materially from listening to such sharpers. Itinerant venders of fruit, especially the Jews, are constantly in the habit of smashing, or ringing the changes, viz. changing the good money given them for bad.
Mock auctions, in which plated goods are sold for silver, and a variety of incredible frauds practised upon the unwary, ought to be cautiously avoided. They may be in general known by a person being placed at the door, to invite in the passing stranger.
Advertising discounters are, almost without exception, the most nefarious of swindlers. Next akin to them are the anonymous reporting critics, who publish pretended accounts of trials in the Courts of Law, of works of art, of theatrical performances, in the Newspapers; and who extort large sums for favourable notices.
Advertising doctors ought equally to be pointed out as objects of caution, if it were possible that any of the readers of this work could foolishly prefer the advice and nostrums of the most ignorant and impudent impostors, to the aid which, in case of ill health, he may meet with from the regular faculty, some of whom reside in almost every street of the metropolis.
Strangers having business at Doctors' Commons, should previously know the address of a Proctor, as all the avenues are beset with inferior clerks or porters who watch and
accost strangers, whom they take into some office, where they are paid in proportion to the nature of the business, which is conducted not in the most respectable way, and never without extra charges unwarranted by the profession.
Jews, who hawk goods about the streets, and always ask ten times what the articles are worth, with a view to obtain a bidding, ought always to be shunned.
Hackney coachmen are frequently the circulators of counterfeit money: a particular attention should therefore be paid to whatever silver is taken of them, and care should be taken that they do not change the good silver which is given them for bad.
Travellers, who are unable to enter London before dark, are subject to two evils during the last stage, that of being robbed by highwaymen or footpads, or having their luggage cut from behind their carriages. They should, if possible, always make their arrangements so as to reach the metropolis by day.
In calling a coach, always prefer those which stand first on the rank, because those at the end have not recovered the fatigue of their last fare.
Persons should be very particular as soon as they have called a hackney-coach, to observe the number before they get into it. This precaution guards against impositions or unforeseen accidents. There is no other method of punishing coachmen who misbehave, nor chance of recovering property carelessly left in a coach, but by the recollection of the number. By a late act of parliament, however, it is ordered that all parcels, &c. left in any hackney-coach, shall be taken to the Hackney-Coach Office under a penalty of 201. It is the duty of every person to refuse to get into any hackney-coach which is in a dirty or unsound condition, and in which the horses are lame or decrepid, and the magistrates will justify such refusal, although the
coach be called.
If the men who drive carts or drays behave 'ill, or do any damage, satisfaction or recompence may be obtained with the greatest ease, on taking their number, and summoning them before the commissioners, or magistrates, who, on all occasions, pay due respect to the complainant and are sufficiently severe upon offenders.
If a person is in any way attacked or assaulted by thieves or others, whilst walking the streets by night, he should instantly call the watch. A cry of "watch," three or four times repeated, will instantly bring up the assistance of several of the watchmen, and it is ten to one if the thief or assailant makes his escape. Robberies by night, however, very seldom occur in the city of London.
In asking questions, or enquiring the way, it is necessary always to apply at a shop or public-house, and never to rely upon the information which may be given by persons in the streets.
In walking the streets, much unpleasant jostling will be saved, by attending to the established custom of taking the wall when it is on the right hand, and of giving it when it is on the left. This rule in walking is the opposite to that upon the road.
**It ought to be universally known, that a very useful society for the prosecution and detection of cheats, swindlers, &c. has long been established, of which Messrs. Hunt and Son, No. 36, Essex Street, Strand, are the secretaries and solicitors. There is also another Society in St. John's parish, Southwark, on a similar plan.
OF THE POPULATION OF LONDON.
London is less populous, for its extent, than many other great cities. The streets are wider, and the inhabitants of every class, below the highest rank, enjoy more room for themselves and families than is usual for the same classes in foreign countries; not only the merchant, the wealthy trader, and persons in liberal employments, occupy each an entire house, but most shopkeepers of the middling class, and some even of the lowest, have their houses to themselves; although many let out part of them to lodgers: from all these circumstances it is plain, that a less number of people is spread over a given space in London, than in most foreign cities.
From the report on the population of Great Britain, published on the authority of an act passed in the 51st Geo. III. London, including the suburbs, appears to contain 1,009,546 inhabitants; but we shall sub-divide this total in a more intelligible form.