Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Besides the above particular advertisements, the paper frequently contained another kind, which to us may appeal singularly vague and unbusinesslike, but which no doubt perfectly answered their purpose among a comparatively minute metropolitan population, the subjects of William III. We allude to general advertisements such as these :—

Last week was imported
Bacon by Mr Edwards.
Cheese by Mr Francia.
Corral Beads by Mr Paggen.
Crabs Eyes by Mr Harvey.
Horse Hair by Mr Becens.
Joynted Babies by Mr Harrison.
Mapps by Mr Thompson.
Orange Flower Water by Mr Bellamy.
Prospective Glasses by Mr Mason.
Saffron by Mr Western.
Sturgeon by Mr Kett.
If any desire it other things may be inserted.

In similar style a most extraordinary variety of other things imported are advertised in subsequent numbers, including crystal stones, hops, oxguts, incle, juniper, old pictures, onions, pantiles, quick eels, rushes, spruce beer, sturgeon, trees, brandy, chimney backs, caviar, tobaccopipes, whale-fins, bugle, canes, sheep's-guts, washballs and snuff, a globe, aqua fortis, shruffe, quills, waxworks, ostrich feathers, scamony, clagiary paste, Scotch coals, sweet soap, onion seed, gherkins, mum, painted sticks, soap-berries, mask-leather, and so on, for a long time, only giving the names of the importers, without ever mentioning their addresses, until at last a bright idea struck this gentleman, who seems to have been one of those vulgarly said to be before their time, but who are in fact the pioneers who pave the way for all improvements; and so the Collection was enriched with the following notice:—

If desired I '11 set down the places of abode, and I am sure

'twill be of good use : for I am often asked it.

Houghton was indeed so well aware of the utility of giving the addresses, that in order to render his paper more permanently useful, he published, apparently on his own account, not only the addresses of some of the principal shops, but also a list of the residences of the leading doctors. From this we gather that in June 1694 there were 93 doctors in and about London, also that Dr (afterwards Sir) Hans Sloane lived at Montague House (now the British Museum), Dr Radcliffe in Bow Street, and Dr Garth, by Duke Street. At the conclusion of this list the publisher says :—

1 shall also go the round, I. of Counsellors and Attorneys; II. of

Surgeons and Gardiners; III. of Lawyers and Attorneys; IV. Schools and Woodmongers ; v. Brokers, coaches and carriers, and such like, and then round again, beginning with Physitians.

Thus by untiring perseverance, and no small amount of thought and study, Houghton trained his contemporaries in the art of advertising, and made them acquainted with the valuable assistance to be derived from a medium which, as Alexis de Tocqueville remarks, drops the same thought into a thousand minds at almost the same period. Apart from the interest which his papers have on the subject we have been considering, they are full of graphic details which throw a clear and effective light on these old and bygone times. What can give a more vivid picture of the state of the roads in this country in winter-time, nearly two centuries ago, than the following notice extracted from the Collection for Husbandry and Trade, March 10, 1693 :—

Roads are filled with snow, we are forced to ride with the

paquet over hedges and ditches. This day seven-night my boy with the paquet and two gentlemen were seven hours riding from Dunstable to Hockley, but three miles, hardly escaping with their lives, being often in holes and forced to be drawn out with ropes. A man and a woman were found dead within a mile hence. I fear I have lost my letter-carrier, who has not been heard of since Thursday last. Six horses lie dead on the road between Hockley and Brickhill, smothered. I was told last night that lately was found dead near Beaumarais three men and three horses.

At this picture of those good old times for which people who know nothing about them now weep, we will stop. The rest of the story, so far as the development of advertisements is concerned, will be told in strict chronological order.

CHAPTER VI.

DEVELOPMENT OF ADVERTISING.

WE have now arrived at a period when the value of advertising was beginning to make itself felt among even the most conservative, and when it at last began to dawn upon the minds so unaccustomed to change or improvement, that a new era in the history of trade was about to commence, even if it had not commenced already. So the newspapers of the latter half of the seventeenth century begin to offer fresh inducements to the reader, no matter whether to the antiquarian or simply curious. And he must be a flippant reader indeed who is not impressed by these files of musty and bygone journals, pervaded by the spirit of a former age, and redolent of the busy doings of men who generations ago were not only dead but forgotten. Few things could be more suggestive of the steady progress of Time, and the quite as steady progress of his congeners, Death and Forgetfulness, than these papers. Novelists and essayists have described in most eloquent words the feelings which are aroused by the perusal of suddenly-discovered and long-forgotten letters; and similar feelings, though of a much more extended description, are evoked by a glance through any volume of these moth-eaten journals. A writer of a few years back, speaking of the advertisements, says, "As we read in the old musty files of newspapers those naive announcements, the very hum of bygone generations seems to rise to the ear. The chapman exhibits his quaint wares, the mountebank capers again upon his stage, we have the living portrait of the highwayman flying from justice, we see the old-china auctions thronged with ladies of quality with their attendant negro-boys, or those by 'inch of candle-light,' forming many a Schalken-like picture of light and shade ; or later still we have Hogarthian sketches of the young bloods who swelled of old along the Pall-Mall. We trace the moving panorama of men and manners up to our own less demonstrative, but more earnest times; and all these cabinet pictures are the very daguerreotypes cast by the age which they exhibit, not done for effect, but faithful reflections of those insignificant items of life and things, too small, it would seem, for the generalising eye of the historian, however necessary to clothe and fill in the dry bones of his history." Indeed, turning over these musty volumes of newspapers is for the imaginative mind a pleasure equal to reading the Tatler or Spectator, or the plays of the period. By their means Cowper's idea of seeing life "through the loopholes of retreat" is realised, and characteristic facts and landmarks of progress in the history of civilisation are brought under our notice, as the busy life of bygone generations bursts full upon us. We see the merchant at his door, and inside the dimly-lit shops observe the fine ladies of the time deep in the mysteries of brocades and other articles of the feminine toilet, whose very names are now lost to even the mercers themselves. And not alone intent on flowered mantuas and paduasoys are they, for we can in fancy see them, keen ever to a fancied bargain, pricing Chinese teapots or Japanese cabinets, and again watch them as, with fluttering hearts, they assist at lotteries for valuables of the quality familiar to "knockouts" of our own time. We hear the lament of the beau who has lost his clouded amber-headed cane or his heart at the playhouse, and listen to the noisy quacks vending their nostrums, each praising his own wares or depreciating those of his rivals. We see the dishonest servingman rush past us on the road carrying the heterogeneous treasures which have tempted his cupidity. Soon the "Hue

« AnteriorContinuar »