Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

of advertisement, other methods were used in order to give publicity to certain events. There were the proclamations of the will of the King, and of the Lord Mayor, whose edicts were proclaimed by the common trumpeter. There were also two richly carved and gilt posts at the door of the Sheriff's office,” on which (some annotators of old plays say) it was customary to stick enactments of the Town Council. The common crier further made known matters of minor and commercial importance, and every shopkeeper still kept an apprentice at his door to attract the attention of the passers-by with a continuous “What do you lack, master?” or “mistress,” followed by a voluble enumeration of the wares vended by his master. The bookseller, as in ancient Rome, still advertised his new works by placards posted against his shop, or fixed in cleft sticks. This we gather from an epigram of Ben Jonson to his bookseller, in which he enjoins him rather to sell his works to Bucklersbury, to be used for wrappers and bags, than to force their sale by the usual means:— Nor have my little leaf on post or walls, Or in cleft sticks advanced to make calls For termers or some clerk-like serving-man. Announcements of shows were given in the manner still followed by the equestrian circus troops in provincial towns, viz., by means of bills and processions. Thus notice of bearbaitings was given by the bears being led about the town, preceded by a flag and some noisy instruments. In the Duke of Newcastle's play of “The Humorous Lovers.” (1677), the sham bearward says, “I’ll set up my bills, that the gamesters of London, Horseleydown, Southwark, and Newmarket, may come in and bait him before the ladies. But first, boy, go, fetch me a bagpipe ; we will walk the streets in triumph, and give the people notice of our sport.” Such a procession was, of course, a noisy one, and for that reason

[ocr errors]

it was one of the plagues the mischievous page sent to torment Morose, “the gentleman that loves no noise,” in Ben Jonson's “Silent Woman.” “I entreated a bearward one day,” says the page, “to come down with the dogs of some four parishes that way, and I thank him he did, and cried his game under Master Morose's window.” And in Howard’s “English Monsieur” (1674), William, a country youth, says, “I saw two rough-haired things led by the nose with two strings, and a bull like ours in the country, with a brave garland about his head, and an horse, and the least gentleman upon him that ever I saw in my life, and brave bagpipes playing before 'um ;” which is explained by Comely as occasioned by its being “bearbaiting day, and he has met with the bull, and the bears, and the jack-anapes on horseback.” Trials of skill in the noble art of self-defence were announced in a similar manner, by the combatants promenading the streets divested of their upper garments, with their sleeves tucked up, sword or cudgel in hand, and preceded by a drum. Finally, for the use of the community at large, there was the bellman or town crier, a character which occupies a prominent place in all the old sets of “Cries of London.” In one of the earliest collections of that kind,” engraved early in the seventeenth century, we see him represented with a bunch of keys in his hand, which he no doubt proclaims as “found.” Underneath is the following “notice: ”—

O yes. Any man or woman that
Can tell any tidings of a little
Mayden-childe of the age of 24
Yeares. Bring word to the cryar
And you shall be pleased for
your labour
And God's blessing.

* Vide Decker’s “Belman of London: Bringing to Light the most notorious Villanies that are now practised in the Kingdome.” London, 1608.

This was an old joke, which, more or less varied, occurs always under the print of the town crier. The prototype of this venerable witticism may be found in the tragedy of “Soliman and Perseda” (1599), where one of the characters

says that he -
— had but sixpence

For crying a little wench of thirty yeeres old and upwardes,
That had lost herself betwixt a taverne and a b–y house.

Notwithstanding the immense development of advertising since the spread of newspapers, the services of the bellman are still used in most of the country towns of the United Kingdom, and even in London there are still bellmen and parish criers, though their offices would appear to be sinecures. The provincial crier's duties are of the most various description, and relate to objects lost or found, sales by public auction or private contract, weddings, christenings, and funerals. Not much more than a century ago the burgh of Lanark was so poor that there was in it only one butcher, and even he dared never venture on killing a sheep till every part of the animal was ordered beforehand. When he felt disposed to engage in such an enter. prise, he usually prevailed upon the minister, the provost, and the members of the town council to take a joint each ; but when shares were not subscribed for readily, the sheep received a respite. On such occasion the services of the bellman, or “skelligman,” as he was there named, were called into request, and that official used to perambulate the streets of Lanark acquainting the lieges with the butcher's intentions in the following rhyme:– Bell—ell—ell ! : There’s a sat sheep to kill ! A leg for the provost, Another for the priest, The bailies and the deacons They'll tak’ the neist; And if the fourth leg we canna sell, The sheep it maun leeve, and gae back to the hill I

Sir Walter Scott, in one of his notes, gives a quaint specimen of vocal advertising. In the old days of Scotland, when persons of property (unless they happened to be nonjurors) were as regular as their inferiors in attendance on parochial worship, there was a kind of etiquette in waiting till the patron, or acknowledged great man of the parish, should make his appearance. This ceremonial was so sacred in the eyes of a parish beadle in the Isle of Bute, that the kirk bell being out of order, he is said to have mounted the steeple every Sunday to imitate with his voice the successive summonses which its mouth of metal used to send forth. The first part of this imitative harmony was simply the repetition of the words, “Bell, bell, bell, bell " two or three times, in a manner as much resembling the sound as throat of flesh could imitate throat of iron. “Bellum, Bellum !” was sounded forth in a more urgent manner; but he never sent forth the third and conclusive peal, the varied tone of which is called in Scotland the “ringing-in,” until the two principal heritors of the parish approached, when the chime ran thus— Bellum Bellèllum, Bernera and Knockdow's coming ! Bellum Bellèllum, Bernera and Knockdow’s coming ! A story is also told of an old Welsh beadle, who, having no bell to his church, or the bell being out of order, used to mount the tower before the service on Sundays, and advertise the fact that they were just about to begin, in imitation of the chimes, and in compliment to the most conspicuous patronymics in the congregation list, thus— Shon Morgan, Shon Shones, Shon Morgan, Shon Shones,

Shon Shenkin, Shon Morgan, Shon Shenkin,
Shon Shones |

Continued d discretion. And with this most singular form of vocal advertising we will conclude the chapter.

CHAPTER V.

AWE WSPAPER AD VERTIS/NG FORESHADOWED–FTS EARLIEST USE—HOUGHTON'S LESSONS.

Y this time, and in various ways, the first transitory glimpses of a system at present all-powerful and universal began to show themselves—vague and uncertain, and often unsatisfactory, it must be admitted, but still the first evidences of the growth of an unparalleled institution; in fact, the base upon which the institution eventually reared itself. With improvements in printing, and the invention of movable type, the supply of pamphlets on current topics—the first rude forerunners of the newspaper as we understand it—began to be enlarged, and this opportunity was not lost on the bold spirits who even in those days could understand the advantages bound to accrue from a system of intercommunication at once advantageous to buyer and seller, and calling for special attention from both. There is a wonderful amount of attraction about these discoloured and moth-eaten papers, with their rude types and quaint spelling, which breathe, as much as do the words themselves, the spirit of a bygone age, and those who are so fond of praising past times might receive a valuable lesson from the perusal of these occasional publications, which are full of the spirit of an age when comfort, as we understand the word, was unknown to even the wealthy; when travelling was a luxury—a woeful luxury, it must be admitted—known only to those possessed of ample means, or others called forth on special or desperate

« AnteriorContinuar »