Modern Street Ballads

The illustration to this ballad has evidently done duty for a portion (most probably Macheath’s song of “How happy could I be with either”) of the “Beggar’s Opera,” first played at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, 1728. The Commode, or cap, of the ladies is that of the reign of Queen Anne; but it is probable that highwaymen’s female friends did not dress in the height of the fashion.


To the tourist of London, who’s curious in fact,
I’ll point out some things in the principal tracts.
Two places there are, where the poor and the rich,
Live so like each other, there’s no telling which.
One parish, St. James’s, par excellence call’d,
The West end of town and the fashionable world;
The other St. Giles’s, if true rumour speaks,
Is inhabited solely by Emigrant Greeks.

So don’t be astonished at what I shall say,
St. James and St. Giles I have seen in my day,
In the former they live on the National Debt,
In the latter they live on what they can get.

In St. James’s there is but one Palace, I swear,
In St. Giles’s Gin palaces everywhere,
At the Court of St. James’s they hang out the flags,
Up a Court at St. Giles’s they hang out the rags.
The Swells at St. James’s go shooting at noon,
In St. Giles’s the people go shooting the moon.*
In St. James’s Hotel, boots are welted by nobs,
In St. Giles’s the welting is done by the snobs,

In St. James’s the nobs to the Opera go,
Because they can’t bear anything that is low,
In St. Giles’s that being too slap-up, ’tis agreed,
To go to the stall of “the Garden” instead.
In St. James’s there’s military pensioners dwell,
In St. Giles’s there’s lots of Old Soldiers** as well.
In St. James’s they pay, when a regiment they choose,
In St. Giles’s, for nothing, they get “in the Blues.”

In St. James’s they keep up their spirits with wine,
In St. Giles’s they’re drunk on “blue ruin”*** by nine,
In St. James’s they banquet on Silver, in state,
In St. Giles’s the same, with a twopenny plate.
In St. James’s the Officers mess at their Club.
In St. Giles’s they often have messes for grub;
In St. James’s they feed on the highest of game,
In St. Giles’s they live on foul air just the same.

A Lord in St. James’s his betting book keeps,
In the Derby, St. Giles’s has plenty of sweeps;
In St. James’s they gamble at hazard for crowns,
And they play in St. Giles’s at skittles for browns.
In St. James’s the authors, when the Muses inspire,
Dash off with a touch of D’Israeli’s fire;
In St. Giles’s original ballads by Bunn,
Are done by the poet of Moses and Son.

In St. James’s Pall Mall is considered polite,
In St. Giles’s pell mell in the gutter they fight,
In St. James’s Conservative principles run,
In St. Giles’s, the principle’s nuffink to none.
In St. James’s fraternity goeth ahead,
In St. Giles’s they fraternize ten in a bed;
In St. James’s the families march out of town,
In St. Giles’s Bill Simmons to Brixton goes down.

In St. James’s in calling the morning is spent,
In St. Giles’s, the landlord calls for his rent,
In St. James’s the Queen holds a drawing-room gay,
In St. Giles’s Mr. Smith holds a garret all day.
In St. James’s the togs are got out very bright,
In St. Giles’s they’re got out every Saturday night,
In St. James’s they sleep on down pillows and snore,
In St. Giles’s the same, but it’s down on the floor.

Now, comparisons mostly are odious I’ve heard,
And such being the case, I think it absurd
To say any more on the subject just now,
For fear of offending the high or the low.
But next time I travel those parts of the town,
Some further particulars, Sir, shall go down.
Of the Sweets of St. James’s with bitters mixed in,
In St. Giles’s the bitters are mixed up with gin.

* Cant term for leaving lodgings without paying.
** Red herrings.
*** Gin.

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