Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/A Prospect of Greenwich Fair.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 13.

A Prospect of Greenwich Fair.


A Prospect of Greenwich Fair.

[Tueſday, May 29, 1849.—Whit-Tuesday.]

DOWN the River with Browne to Greenwich to view the Fair. To the Park, where young Fellows and Hoydens at Archery, Donkey Riding, playing at Kifs-in-the-Ring, and running down the Hill, romping, tripping, and tumbling over Head and Heels, with Shouting, Screaming, and Laughter. Then down to the Fair, made in a narrow Space in the Town by a Couple of Rows of Booths and Sweet-Meat and Toy-Stalls, with Raree Shows at the farther End, and Swings and Roundabouts on the Outſide. The Paſſage moſt inſufferably crammed; and we having to force our Way between Walls hung with Dolls and Gilt Ginger-Bread. The Stalls and Booths crowded alſo, and the Tobacco Smoke riſing from the Drinking Places like a Fog. Young Prentice-Blades and Shop-Boys puſhing about with large Maſquerade Noſes, and did entertain themſelves more than me. But the chief Amuſment of theſe Royſterers and the frolicſome Wenches do ſeem to be ſcratching one another, and the Company, behind, with a Scraper, which is a notched Diſk of Wood, that turns on an Axle in a Mortiſe, with a Handle ſome ſix Inches long, and being dragged down a Man's Back, do make him believe that his Coat is torn, as I thought mine was, when firſt ſerved ſo, which did trouble me. With this Noiſe of continual Tearing, and the Squeaking of Tin Trumpets, and Blowing of Whittles, and half-a-dozen different Bands playing as many Tunes, is altogether made a moſt diſcordant Muſique; and the Showmen bellowing to the Spectators to walk up, do increaſe the Babel. Strange to fee the Lads and Laſſes, heaved up and down, over and under, in the Swings, and to think what Pleaſure they can take in ſuch a Motion, which methinks a Phyſician might preſcribe in Lieu of a Sea Voyage. With much ado, to Richardson's Show, where a Tragedy, a Comic Song and a Pantomime all in Half an Hour, and the Tragedy accompanied on Whiſtles and Penny Trumpets by the Audience. But the beſt of the Fun outſide, between the Performances, with the Beef-Eaters' Band playing, and the Show-Girls in their Spangles and Paint, dancing, and the Clowns grimacing and flinging Summerſets, and the Robber Chief ſtanding in a brave Poſture in the Corner. Store of Fat Ladies, Wonderful Pigs, Giants and Dwarfs to ſee, and Conjurors in Plenty, ſpecially in the Crowd, conjuring Handkerchiefs out of Pockets. In the Evening to the great Dancing-Booth, which lighted up and hung with variegated Lamps, was, to be ſure, a pretty fine Sight. But the Company uproarious through Drink; and yet the Dancing without Livelineſs, being moſtly that roguiſh Chin-and-Shoulder French Dance, gone heavily through, and little Happineſs, I ſuſpect:, in the Hearts of the Dancers. Here again almoſt the only Merriment was that perpetual Scraping, and they who fold the Scrapers, did cry, "All the Fun of the Fair for 2d.:" and, methinks, ſaid the Truth. Home by the Railway Train, wherein the Paſſengers bawling and ringing the whole of the Way—the moſt tipſy. They do ſay that theſe Fairs are falling off, which I am not ſorry for; for they do cauſe a Concourſe of Rogues and bad Characters; and methinks, that the more good cheap Concerts abound, and Muſeums and Exhibitions are opened to the Public, the leſs will the People frequent ſuch Places as Greenwich Fair.