Daily Snippet #9: Page 134 / 100 Words
Henry Mayhew. Mayhew’s London: Being Selections from “London Labour and the London Poor.” Edited by Peter Quennell. London: Spring Books, n. d. Originally published in 1851.
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot-Cross Buns, and of Chelsea Buns
“Perhaps no cry – though it is only for one morning – is more familiar to the ears of a Londoner, than that of ‘One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross buns,’ on Good Friday. The sale is unknown in the Irish capital; for among Roman Catholics, Good Friday, I need hardly say, is a strict fast, and the eggs in the buns prevent their being used. One London gentleman, who spoke of fifty years ago, told me that the street-bun-sellers used to have a not unpleasant distich. On reflection, however, my informant could not be certain whether he heard this distich cried, or had…”
London Labour and the London Poor is a work of Victorian journalism by Henry Mayhew. In the 1840s he observed, documented, and described the state of working people in London for a series of articles in a newspaper, the Morning Chronicle, that were later compiled into book form [Wikipedia]. For anyone interested in the history of London during the Victorian Period, it is essential reading. You can read more about it here at the British Library and view some of the illustrations: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/henry-mayhews-london-labour-and-the-london-poor
[A Victorian Starbucks!]
Here’s the entire cry:
“One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross buns!
If your daughters will not eat them, give them to your sons.
But if you hav’n’t any of those pretty little elves,
You cannot then do better that eat them all yourselves.”
I randomly picked this book off the shelf – pure coincidence that page 134 is about Good Friday and hot-cross buns! This coming Friday IS Good Friday…but alas! Jane Austen in nowhere to be found…