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pranced upon the sign-posts of our Whig innkeep
I suspect that the Hole in the Wall alludes to some obscure historical fact.
“ Sacred story has not been neglected by these historical sign-painters ; nor have they forgotten the mysterious character of the original in their unintelligible mode of representation. In Chandos-street, a dragon supporting a bell, insinuates the story of Bell and the Dragon. The Two Spies, the Baptist's Head, the Noah's Ark, and the Jacob's Well, still bespeak a certain orthodoxy in the landlord, which, by an easy transition, we carry to his ale and october. Among the few signs which propriety has suggested, I have remarked a portait. of Simon the Tanner of Joppa, at Bermondsey, and Elisha's Raven at a butcher's shop in the Borough, with a mutton chop in its mouth. The King or Queen's head, on the sign-post of an inn, affords a pretty sure cri. terion by which we may guess the date of its original establishment, as the reigning monarch always lends his countenance upon these occasions. Sometimes indeed, on fresh painting the sign, the old king is deposed, and a new monarch reigns in his
but no landlord that feels for the antiquity of his house will suffer this revolution to take place. Henry the Eighth is still to be seen at Lambeth ; and considering his host-like appearance, I wonder more freedoms have not been taken with his person in this way. A Queen Elizabeth is as scarce as an Otho. There are but few Charleses, perhaps because the head of a Stuart was thought an uncertaintenure; a greater proportion of King Williams, who is properly enough exhibited where the liquor of his country is sold; more of Queen Anne than of George the First ; and several of the late king. A royal progress produces a number of new kings' heads; on
these occasions the painters work faster than the horses travel ; and I have known his majesty's nose and chin get the start of him by a full quarter of a mile. Biographical signs frequently occur in the cities of London and Westminster; and they are ge. nerally placed with due regard to the residence or place of resort of the persons whom they representas the Essex Head, the Sir John Falstaff, the Sit Paul Pindar, the Whittington and his Cat, and many more of the same kind;
;-a practice that will enable our English biographers to decide between contend. ing cities, in naming the birth-place of an illustrious character.
“ The devices of our tradesmen might in general bear a much stronger relation than they do to their several occupations: some, indeed, are less unhappy than others. The peacock under a rainbow, is well enough chosen for a silk-dyer; the wheat-sheaf is a good emblem for a corn-chandler; and the ham and chicken are not much amiss for a cook's shop. The naked boy with a pair of breeches in his hand, in Monmouth-street, makes a more forcible appeal to us than the unwearied courtesy of the bowing-beg. gar-prince himself, striding from one frontier to the other of his ragged empire. The head of Sir Walter Raleigh very properly overlooks the door of a dealer in tobacco, as we owe the introduction of the plant to that illustrious admiral. Many tradesmen are contented with the representation of the article in which they deal; and this would be perfectly unexceptionable, were it not that the mercantile principle of turning every thing to money, had induced them to cover their signs with gold. Every object is seen by them through this jaundiced medium; and we have golden boots, golden periwigs, golden razors, golden hams, and golden sugar-loaves. As for the
fish, they all look as if they came out of Pactolus's stream. The cook in Rag-Fair, who hangs out every morning a piece of raw beef, has hit upon a very natural mode of announcing his occupation; while the great A and the bouncing B, at a printer's door, is perfectly in character.
The bee-hive, as emblematical of industry, might be adopted by any trade : but I observe it is most frequently used by the linen-drapers. The Adam and Eve too is a favourite with them, being intended to exhibit the contrast between the vegetable drapery of our first ancestors, and the varied decorations of a modern drawing-room. The ingenuity of the sisterhood, in the fabrication of lace and the ornamental aritcles of female attire, may account for the sign of the Three Nuns at a milliner's shop ; and I find great fault with Nun and Crucifix, milliners in York-street, Covent-garden, for suffering a device so suited to their names and professions to escape
them. If these ladies, on a matter of such moment, thought it necessáry to be furnished with a precedent, I could have supplied them with one on the grave authority of Batt. Pigeon, of famous memory; who, in the adoption of three pigeons for. his sign, showed it to be his opinion that a coincidence of name was a sufficient apology. Why a haberdasher should live at the Hen and Chickens, I cannot imagine, or tea-dealer at the sign of the Grasshopper; unless we suppose a change of tenants, and a transition from one business to another in the same shop, without regard to the consequent anomaly of the signs: indeed, unless for this way of accounting for it, the adoption of signs has sometimes such little foundation, that it would look almost like Egyptian idolatry.
“ We should be at a loss to guess at the meaning VOL, XXXVI. ..
of the leathern doublet at a great iron foundery in the Borough, were we not informed that it was placed there by the first institutor of the manufactory, who, from a very humble beginning, rose to distinguished opulence, as a representation of the identical doublet which he wore when he first came up to the metropolis. The Z's, an ancient sign at grocers' shops, look very enigmatical; but I am told they allude to the word zinziber, or ginger, and intimated the sale of that article. Many have been the conjectures about the sign of the Good Woman, which is used by the colour-men ; and
undeserved jokes have been passed upon the fair sex on this occasion. Were I to hazard an opinion upon so delicate a subject, it would be, that at the time when every trade and occupation had its patron saint, male or female, the colour-men fixed upon some good woman who had lost her head by an accident not uncommon in the days of saintship. The origin and meaning of the barber's pole has afforded also a great field for conjecture: it is generally, however, supposed to allude to the joint occupation which they formerly professed ; and its twisted ornament has been thought to represent the fillet which they used in bleeding:
“ I cannot quit these gentlemen without bestow. ing upon them the praise they so richly deserve for the moderation of their terms, and their steadfast adherence to their original price, while the charges for every other article in life are so fast improving upon us. This moderation is particularly commendable in men of genius and literature: and under this head I introduce to your notice Mr. Puff, who has inscribed the following couplet over the entrance of an alley in Shoreditch :
Up this Court lives A. Puff,
Such of my readers who are connoiseurs or ama. teurs in sign-painting, must look to a future paper for the conclusion of this subject.
No. 35. SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 1793.
TO THE ASSOCIATION FOR PRESERVING LIBERTY AND PROPERTY AGAINST REPUBLICANS AND LEVELLERS.
Let it not discredit my opinions on a political subject, that I confess myself an obscure Northamptonshire clergyman. It is not always the lot of those who act the busiest parts in life, to know the most of human nature: a very wide range of exertion will often absorb reflection, and the mind will sometimes be thrown out of its balance by the conflict. ing pressure of surrounding objects. Such is the monotony of human passions, and such the uniformity that runs through the human character, that if the sphere in which he moves be but wide enough for him to collect a sort of average, each in his own little platoon, by the force of careful observation, may arrive at a pretty general knowledge of man and his nature. If this remark be just in regard to the contemplation of individual man, it holds more strongly in what respects the survey of civil society: for as,
in this case, we can form no competent judgement of the parts, but what is built upon a consideration of the whole, it is the more necessary to be so far unoccupied with the detail, as to pos