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OLD CLOTHES!

A STERN legislature has laid its red, or
rather blue, right hand, in the shape of
police enactments, upon many of the Cries of
London. No more may the portly dustman
toll his bell, and with lusty lungs make quiet
streets re-echo to his cry of " Dust-ho! " The
young sweep's shrill announcement of his
avocation is against the law; and the sweep
himselffirst mute, perforcehas now ceded
his place to the Ramoneur voluntarily, and
has vanished altogether. Of the Cries
which the New Police Act has not included
in its ban, many have come to disuse, and
must be numbered now with old fashions
and old-fashioned people. The Cries are
dead, and the criers, too. The " small-coal-
man," and the vender of saloop; the
merchant who so loudly declared in our boyhood,
that if he had as much money as he could
tell, he would not cry young lambs to sell;
the dealer in sweet-stuff, who sang in so fine
a barytone voice, and with so unctuous an
emphasis, the one unvarying refrain, " My
brandy-balls! my brandy-balls! My slap-up,
slap-up brandy-balls! " the seller of rottenstone
and emery, who, by way of rider to the
announcement of his wares, added strong
adjurations; the reduced gentlewoman, who
cried " cats'-meat! " in so subdued a tone (she
flourished before my time, and I only regard
her in a traditional light);—all these are
gone. There was a work published towards the
close of the last century, full of copperplate
pictures of the various London criers, with
notices of their " Cries." Look through the
book now, and you will find few not obsolete.
We have grown luxurious, and cry, " Pine
apples, a penny a slice! "—moral, and have
superseded the tossing pieman, who cried,
"Toss or buy! up and win 'em! " by a
gaudy "hot-pie depôt," with plate-glass
windows and mahogany fixtures. We have
grown fastidious, and have deserted " 'Taters,
all hot! " for the " Irish fruit warehouse;"
the voice of him who cried, " One a penny,
two a penny, hot cross-buns! " is hushed.
Lord help us! where are we going to? The
cry of " kearots " and " sparrowgrass " will
go next, I suppose; " cats'-meat " will no
longer be allowed to be cried; " milk ho!"
is doomed; the cries of " butcher! " and
" baker! " will be rendered illegal, and
contrary to the statute in those cases made and
provided.

But as I write, floats on the ambient air,
adown the quiet street in which I live, softly
through the open window, gently to my
pleased ears, a very familiar and welcome
cry. I have always heard that cry, and
always shall, I hope. It was cried in London
streets years before I was born, and will be
cried years after I am dead. It never varies,
never diminishes in volume or sonorous
melody, this cry; for, as the world wags, and
they that dwell in it live and die, they must
be clothedand, amidst the wear and tear of
life, their clothes are worn and torn, too;—so
we shall always have old clothes to buy or
sell; and for many a year, down many a
quiet street, through many an open window,
shall float that old familiar cry—" Old Clo'!"

My first recollections of Old Clo' are
entwined with the remembrance of a threat,
very awful and terrifying to me then, of being
imprisoned in the bag of an old clothesman,
and forthwith conveyed away. My threatener
was a nurse-maid, who, if I remember right,
left our service in consequence of the mysterious
disappearance of a new silk dress, which
she solemnly averred my mother to " have
worn clean out; " and the clothesman was a
dreadful old man, with a long, tangled, grey-
reddish beard, a hawk nose, which, like the
rebuke of the nautical damsel at Wapping
Old Stairs, was never without a tear, and a bag
of alarming size. I am not ashamed of saying,
now, that I perfectly believed this clothesman
(a harmless Israelite, no doubt,) to be capable
of effecting my capture and abduction on
the commission of any juvenile indiscretion
whatsoever; and that he, and " the sweep,"
a mysterious bogey I was often menaced
with, but never saw; a black dog, addicted to
sitting on the shoulders of naughty children;
and a " big, black man," supposed to be
resident in the back kitchen, whence he made
periodical irruptions for the purpose of
devouring insubordinate juveniles, formed in
their glomerate natures the incarnation, to
my youthful and confused mind, of a certain
personage who shall be nameless, but who
has been likened to a roaring lion.

Strangely enough, this old clothesman of
mine (he was dreadfully old when I first

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