Modern Street Ballads


Oh! what fun is to be seen in town every day,
There is something to pass dull care away,
Some sort of a cry you are sure for to meet,
In winter and summer as the time of year flies,
You will find in London a melody of cries.*

It’s fun for to hear, as you walk up and down,
The fashionable cries of great London town.
A strong deal table to be sold to night,
Penny a lot oysters, come run, fetch a light,
Here’s good eating apples, a penny the lot,
Now who’ll buy a cap or a bonnet box;
Clothes pegs, or lines, buy a clothes prop,
Here’s fine Cauliflowers, who’ll buy a Mop?

Live fleas with a gold chain round their neck,
Here’s fine young peas sixpence a peck,
Songs three yards a penny, Oh! what a lie!
For half of them are not there, what they do cry.
Fine pickled salmon, warranted sound,
And good salt cod, a penny a pound.

Here’s the last dying speech, I forgot to tell,
Fine Cabbage plants, young lambs to sell,
Do you want any matches, ma’m, to day,
Buy a pit ticket, or a bill of the play,
Good strong laces, a halfpenny each,
Two bunches a penny, spring wattercress.

Clothes, sale clothes the Jews do cry,
Mutton, Apple, Beef, all hot, toss or buy,
Dust O, dust, and sweep soot O,
Fine pickled eels feet, now here’s a go,
Buy a bird cage, fine summer cabbage,
Walk up now, and see the Indian savage.

Here’s lily white mussels, a penny a quart,
Fine ripe plums, now the blooming sort,
Penny a head celery, a good woman’s cap,
Buy a brush, a hair broom, or a door mat,
Here are mild red herrings, a halfpenny each,
Come move on there, says the New Police.

Wood three bundles a penny, all dry deal,
Now who’ll buy a good flint and steel,
Buy a walking stick, a good ash stump,
Hearth stones, pretty maids, a penny a lump,
Fine mackerel, penny a plateful, sprats,
Dog’s meat, ma’am, for to feed your cats.

Twelve a penny walnuts, crack and try em,
Fine barcelonies, now who’ll buy em?
Here are good mealy potatoes from Paddy’s land,
Good burning turf and lily white sand,
I think, good friends, I have kept you too long,
The next cry is, now who’ll buy my song.

* There is a line short in the original.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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