London Taverns. The history of signboards, from the Earliest Times to
the Present Day.
By Jacob Larwood and john Camden Hotten. (1866)
IT is in many cases impossible to draw a line of demarcation between signs
borrowed from the animal kingdom and those taken from heraldry: we cannot now
determine, for instance, whether by the White Horse is meant simply an equus
caballus, or the White Horse of the Saxons, and that of the House of Hanover;
nor, whether the White Greyhound represented originally the supporter of the
arms of Henry VII., or simply the greyhound that courses “poor puss” on our
meadows in the hunting-season. For this reason this chapter has been placed as a
sequel to the heraldic signs.
As a rule, fantastically coloured animals are unquestionably of heraldic origin: their number is limited to the Lion, the Boar, the Hart, the Dog, the Cat, the Bear, and in a few instances the Bull; all other animals were generally represented in what was meant for their natural colours. The heraldic lions have already been treated of in the last chapter; but sometimes we meet with the lion as a fera naturae, recognisable by such names as the BROWN LION, the YELLOW LION, or simply the Lion. There is a public-house in Philadelphia with the sign of the Lion, having underneath the following lines:
“The lion roars, but do not fear,
Cakes and beer sold here.”
Which inscription is certainly as unnecessary as that over the non formidable-looking lions under the celebrated fountain in the Spanish Alhambra, “O thou who beholdest these lions crouching, fear not, life is wanting to enable them to exhibit their fury.”
Lions occur in numerous combinations with other animals and objects, which in many cases seem simply the union of two signs, as the LION AND DOLPHIN, Market Place, Leicester; the LION AND TUN, at Congleton : the LION AND SWAN in the same locality may owe its joint title to the name of the street in which the public-house is situated, viz., Swanbank. The combination of the LION AND PHEASANT, Wylecop, Shrewsbury, seems rather mysterious, unless the Pheasant has been substituted for the Cock, just as in the THREE PHEASANTS AND SCEPTRE, they were substituted for the THREE PIGEONS AND SCEPTRE. As for the COCK AND LION, a very common sign, their meeting, if we may believe ancient naturalists, is anything but agreeable to the lion.
“The lyon dreadeth the white cocke, because he breedeth a precious stone called allectricium, like to the stone that hight Calcedonius. And # # the Cocke beareth such a stone, the Lyon specially abhorreth him".
Some more information about this stone may be gathered from a mediaeval treatise on natural history :
“Allectorius est lapis obscuro cristallo silise vetriculo galli castrati trahitur post quartu anti. Ultima eius quatitas & ad magnitudine fabe— qué gladiator. his in ore penanct. ivictus ac sine siti.”
“Allectorius is a stone similar to a dark crystal, which is taken from the stomach of a capon when it is four years old. Its utmost size is that of a beam. Gladiators take it in their mouths in order to be invincible, and not to suffer from thirst.”—Tractatus de Animalibus et Lapidibus, 4to, circa 1465–75.
The LION AND BALL owes its origin to another mediaeval notion : “Some report that those who rob the tiger of her young use a policy to detaine their damme from following them, by casting sundry looking glasses in the way, whereat she useth to long to gaze, whether it be to beholde her owne beauty or because when she seeth her shape in the glasse she thinketh she seeth one of her young ones, and so they escape the swiftness of her pursuit.”:
The looking-glass thrown to the tiger was spherical, so that she could see her own image reduced as it rolled under her paw, and would therefore be more likely to mistake it for her cub. Lions and tigers being almost synonymous in mediaeval zoology, the spherical glass was generally represented with both. In sculpture it could only be represented by a ball, which afterwards became a terrestrial globe, and the lion resting his paw upon it, passed into an emblem of royalty. In the last century an innkeeper at Goodwood put up as his sign the CENTURION'S LION, the figure-head of the frigate Centurion, in which Admiral Anson made a voyage round the world. Under it was the following inscription:—
“Stay, Traveller, a while and view
One that has travelled more than you,
Quite round the Globe in each Degree,
Anson and I have plow'd the Sea;
Torrid and Frigid Zones have pass'd,
And safe ashore arriv'd at last. -
In Ease and Dignity appear He —
in the House of Lords, I — here.”
When Anson was in general disfavour about the Minorca affair, the following biting reply to this inscription went the round of the newspapers:— “The Traveller's reply to the Centurion's Lion.
“O King of Beasts, what pity ’twas to sever A pair whose Union had been just for ever! So diff'rently advanced ! 'twas surely wrong, When you’d been fellow-travellers so long. Had you continued with him, had he born To see the English Lion dragg'd and torn? Brittannia made at every vein to bleed, A ravenous Crew of worthless Men to feed? No; Anson once had sought the Land's Relief; Now – Ease and Dignity have banish'd Grief. Go, rouse him then, to save a sinking nation, Or call him up, the partner of your station. We often see two Monsters for a sign, Inviting to good Brandy, Ale, or Wine.” .
The TIGER is of rare occurrence on signboards; there is a GOLDEN TIGER in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, and a bird-fancier on Tower Dock, not far from the then famous menagerie which attracted crowds to the Tower, chose the LEOPARD AND TIGER for his sign. In 1665 there was a LEOPARD Tavern in Chancery Lane; the same animal is still occasionally seen on public-house signs. Generally speaking, the carnivorous animals are not great favourites, and those named above are almost the only examples that occur. As for the popularity of the BEAR, it is entirely to be attributed to the old vulgar pleasure of seeing him ill-treated, a relic of the once common amusements of bear-baiting and whipping. The colours in which he is represented are the BLACK BEAR, the BROWN BEAR, the WHITE BEAR, and in a very few instances (as at Leeds) the RED BEAR.
Besides bear-whipping and bear-baiting, another barbarous fancy led sometimes
to the choice of this animal for a sign,— viz., the lamentable pun which the
publican made upon the article he sold, and the name of the animal. Will Rose of
Coleraine, in Ireland, for instance, issued trades tokens with a bear passant,
on the reverse EXCHANGE.FOR.A.CAN (i.e., of Bear!), and as if the pun was not
ridiculous enough, there was a rose as a rebus for his name. Thomas Dawson of
Leeds perpetrated a similar pun on his token, dated 1670; it
says,'—BEWARE.OF.Y.E.BEARE, evidently alluding to the strength of his beer.”
* “Boyne's and Akerman's Trades Tokens of the 17th Century,” in England, Ireland, and Wales.
Bears used often to be represented with chains round their neck, (as on the stone sign in Addle Street, with the date 1610.) This led to the following amusing rejoinder:—It happened that a pedestrian artist had run up a bill at a road-side inn which he was unable to pay, whereupon the landlord, in order to settle the account, commissioned him to paint a bear for his sign. The painter, wanting to make a little besides, suggested that, if the bear was painted with a chain round his neck, which he strongly advised him to have, it would cost him half-a-guinea more, on account of the gold, &c. But the host was not agreeable to this extra expense; accordingly, the sign was painted, (but in distemper) and the painter went his way. Not many days after it began to rain, and the bear was completely washed from the board, The first time the landlord met the painter, he accused him in great dudgeon of having imposed upon him, for that, in less than a month, the bear had gone from his signboard. “Now, look here,” replied the painter; “did not I advise you to have a chain put about the bear's neck? but you would not hear of it; had that been done he could not have run away, and would still be at your door.”
Among the most famous Bear inns and taverns were,—the Bear “at Bridgefoot,” i.e., at the foot of London Bridge, on the Southwark side, for many centuries one of the most popular London taverns; as early as the reign of Richard III. we find it the resort of the aristocratic pleasure-seeker. Thus, in March 1463/4, it was repeatedly visited by Jocky of Norfolk, the then Sir John Howard, who went there to drink wine and shoot at the target, at which he lost 20 pence.” It is also frequently named by the writers of the seventeenth century. Pepys mentions it April 3, 1667. “I hear how the king is not so well pleased of this marriage between the Duke of Richmond and Mrs Stuart, as is talked; and that he by a wile did fetch her to the Bear at the Bridgefoot, where a coach was ready, and they are stole away into Kent without the king's leave.” The wine of this establishment did not meet with the approbation of the fastidious searchers after claret in 1691.
“Through stinks of all sorts, both the simple and compound,
Which through narrow alleys, our senses do confound,
We came to the Bear, which we now understood
Was the first house in Southwark built after the flood;
And has such a succession of vintners known,
Not more names were e'er in Welsh pedigrees shown;
But claret with them was so much out of fashion,
That it has not been known there a whole generation.”
This old tavern was pulled down in 1761, at the removal of the houses from London Bridge. “Thursday last the workmen employed in pulling down the Bear Tavern, at the foot of London Bridge, found several pieces of gold and silver coin of Queen Elizabeth, and other money, to a considerable value.”—Public Advertiser, Dec. 26, 1761. Coins, no doubt, dropped between the boards by the revellers of bygone generations.
There was another famous Bear Tavern at the foot of Strandbridge; the vicinity of the “Bear” and “Paris Gardens” had evidently suggested the choice of those signs. At the Bear Tavern in the Strand, the earliest meetings of the Society of Antiquaries took place, when there were as yet only three members, Mr Talman, Mr Bagford, and Mr Wanley. Their first meeting was on Friday, Nov. 5, 1707; subsequently they met at the Young Devil Tavern in Fleet Street, and then at the Fountain, opposite Chancery Lane. Mr Talman was the first president; Mr Wanley was a savant of considerable acquirements. It was he who purchased Bagford's MS. collection for the Harleian Library.
The WHITE BEAR at Soper's Lane End, (now Queen Street) Cheapside, was
the shop in which Baptist Hicks, as a silk mercer, by selling silks, velvets,
lace, and plumes to the courtiers of James I., amassed that fortune which led to
the Peerage, and the title of Viscount Campden. There was another White Bear
Tavern in Thames Street, of which the sign is still extant, a stone bas-relief
with the date 1670, and the initials M. E. In 1252, Henry III. received a white
bear as a present from the king of Norway; and in King Edward VI.'s time, May
29, 1549, the French ambassadors, after they had supped with the Duke of
Somerset. went to the Thames and saw the bear hunted in the river. Such an
occurrence might easily lead to the adoption of this animal as a sign in that
locality. The following little fact connected with another White Bear Inn
forcibly calls up the dark ages before gas was invented. In 1656, John Wardall
gave by will to the Grocers' Company a tenement called “The White Bear in
Walbrook,” upon condition that they should yearly pay to the churchwardens of St
Botolph's, Billingsgate, £4 to provide a lanthorn with a candle, so that
passengers might go with more security to and from the waterside during the
night. This lamp was to be fixed at the north-east corner of the parish church
of St Botolph, from St Bartholomew’s-day to Lady-day; out of this sum £1 was to
be paid to the sexton for taking care of the lanthorn. The annuity is now
applied to a lamp lighted with gas in the place prescribed by the will.”
The White Bear Inn, at the east end of Piccadilly, was for more than a century one of the busiest coaching houses. In this house died Luke Sullivan, engraver of some of Hogarth's works; also Chatelain, another engraver, the last in such penurious circumstances, that he was buried at the expense of some friends in the poor ground of St James's workhouse. It was in this inn that West passed the first night in London on his arrival from America. The sign of the White Bear is still common; at Springbank, Hull, there is one called, with zoological precision, the POLAR BEAR. This may, however, refer to the constellation.
The BEAR's HEAD occurs in Congleton, Cheshire; probably it is a family crest, the same as the BEAR's PAW,—both of which, it is believed, occur only in that county and in Lancashire. The Bear is also met in frequent combinations; one of the most common is the BEAR AND BACCHUS, which looks like a hieroglyphic rendering of the words Beer and Wine, having the additional attraction of alliteration. Since mythology does not mention a Beer-God, the animal was probably chosen as a rebus for the drink. In the BEAR AND RUMMER, Mortimer Street, the rummer implies the sale of liquors, in the same manner as the Punchbowl is often used. The BEAR AND HARROW seems to be a union of two signs. In the seventeenth century it formed the house decoration of an ordinary at the entrance of Butcher Row, (now Picket Street, Strand.) One night in 1692, Nat Lee, the mad poet, in going home drunk from this house, fell down in the snow and was stifled.
The Elephant, in the middle ages, was nearly always represented with the castle on his back. For instance, in the Latin MS., Bestiarium Harl, 4751, a tower is strapped to him, in which are seen five knights in chain-armour, with swords, battleaxes, and cross-bows, their emblazoned shields hanging round the battlements; and, in the description of the animal, it is said, “In eorum dorsis, P[er] si et Indi ligneis turribus collocati tamquam de muro jaculis dimicant.” The rook, in Chinese chessboards, still represents an elephant thus armed.
Cutlers in the last century frequently used the ELEPHANT AND CASTLE as their sign, on account of it being the crest of the Cutlers' Company, who had adopted it in reference to the ivory used in the trade. Hence the stone bas-relief in Belle Sauvage Yard, which was the sign of some now forgotten shopkeeper, who had chosen it out of regard to his landlords. The houses in the yard are the property of the Cutlers' Company. The ELEPHANT AND CASTLE public-house, Newington Butts, was formerly a famous coaching inn, but, by the introduction of railways, it has dwindled down to a starting-point for omnibuses. The occasion of this sign being put up was the following:—Some time about 1714, a Mr Conyers, an apothecary in Fleet Street, and a great collector of antiquities, was digging in a gravel-pit in a field near the Fleet, not far from Battle Bridge, when he discovered the skeleton of an elephant. A spear with a flint head, fixed to a shaft of goodly length, was found near it, whence it was conjectured to have been killed by the British in a fight with the Romans,” though now, since the late discoveries concerning the flint implements, very different conclusions would be drawn from this fact. But be this as it may, that elephant, whether posttertiary or Roman, gave its name to the public-house soon after erected in that locality; and, regardless of the venerable antiquity of this origin, it is often now-a-days jocularly degraded into the PIG AND TINDER-BOX.
What is meant by the whimsical combination of the ELEPHANT AND FISH, at Sandhill, Newcastle, is hard to say, unless we assume the fish originally to have been a dragon. Between elephants and dragons there was supposed to be a deadly strife, and their battles are recorded by Strabo, Pliny, AElianus, and their mediaeval followers. The fight always ended in the death of both, the dragon strangling the elephant in the windings of his tail, when the elephant, falling down dead, crushed the dragon by his weight.
The ELEPHANT AND FRIAR, in Bristol, may
possibly have originated from the representation of an elephant accompanied
man in Eastern costume, whose flowing garment might be mistaken for the gown of
a friar. That sign would have admirably suited the fancy of the landlord of the
Elephant and Castle, formerly in Leeds; his name happening to be Priest, he had
the following inscription above his door:
“He is a priest who lives within,
Gives advice gratis, and administers gin.”
In the seventeenth century, the REINDEER began to make its appearance on the signboard, where it has kept its place to the present day. At first it was called Rained Deer, as we see from the newspapers of that period —“Mr John Chapman, York carrier in Hull, at the sign of the Rained Deer.” This led to the answer of a sailor who had made a voyage to Lapland, and on his return, being asked if he had seen any rained deer? “No,” answered Jack, “I have seen it rain cats, dogs, and pitchforks, but I never saw it rain deer.” The first instance we find of this animal on the signboards of London, is in 1682, when there was
“Right Irish Usquebaugh to be sold at the Reindeer in Tuttle Street, Westminster, in greater or smaller quantities, by one from Ireland.”— London Gazette, Nov. 23–27, 1682.
Pepys mentions it as early as October 7, 1667, at Bishop Stortford, as the sign of a tavern kept by a Mrs Elizabeth Aynsworth. Of this woman a good story is told:—Mrs A. had been a noted procuress at Cambridge, for which reason she was expelled the town by the University authorities. Subsequently keeping the Reindeer at Bishop Stortford, the Vice-chancellor and some of the heads of colleges, on their way to London, had occasion to sleep at her house, little thinking under whose roof they were. She received them nobly, served the supper up in plate, and brought forth the best wine; but, when the hour of reckoning came, would receive no money, “for,” said she, “I am too much indebted to the Vice-chancellor for expelling me from Cambridge, which has been the means of making my fortune.” For all this, however, she does not seem to have mended her evil courses, for, shortly after, she was implicated in the murder of a Captain Wood in Essex, for which one man was executed, whilst Mrs Aynsworth was only acquitted by some flaw in the evidence.
apothecaries' signs, were not derived from heraldry, but were used to typify
certain chemical actions. In an old German work on Alchemy,” one of the plates
represents a dragon eating his own tail; underneath are the words, - in
“This is a great wonder, and very strange: the dragon contains the greatest medicament.”
In mediaeval alchemy, the dragon seems to have been the emblem of Mercury, which appears from these words on the same print:
“Mercury rightly precipitated or sublimated in its own water dissolved and again coagulated.”: To which are added the following rhymes:—
“There is a dragon lives in the forest who has no want of poison: when he
sees the sun or fire he spits venom, which flies about fearfully. No living
animal can be cured of it; even the basilisk does not equal him. He who can
properly kill this serpent has overcome all his danger. His colours increase in
death; physic is produced from his poison, which he entirely consumes, and eats
his own venomous tail. This must be accomplished by him in order to produce the
noblest balm. Such great virtue as will point out herein that all the learned
Hence the dragon became one of the “properties” of the chemist and apothecary, was painted on his drug-pots, hung up as his sign, and some dusty, stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling in the laboratory had to do service for the monster, and inspire the vulgar with a profound awe for the mighty man who had conquered the vicious reptile.
The SALAMANDER was another animal of the same class, and also represented certain chemical actions, owing to its fabled powers of resisting the fire. The notions of early naturalists concerning this creature were very extraordinary. A Bestiarium in the Royal Library of Brussels, No. 10074, says that it lives on pure fire, and produces a substance which is neither silk nor linen, nor yet wool, of which garments are made that can only be cleaned by fire; and that if the animal itself falls into a burning fire, it would at once extinguish the flames. Bossewell, besides incombustibility, attributes to the Salamander some other qualities fully as extravagant.
“Among all venomenous beastes he is the mightiest of poyson and venyme. For if he creepe upon a tree, he infecteth all the apples or other fruit that groweth thereon with his poyson, and killeth them which eate thereof. Which apples, also, if they happen to falle into any pitte of water, the strength of the poyson killeth them that drinke thereof.”
This incombustibility made it a very proper sign for alchemists and apothecaries, and with the last it still continues as such, at least on the Continent. Why the early Venetian printers adopted it as a sign is less evident. In France it was certainly a favourite sign with this class of workmen; but this was from the fact of its having been the badge of Francis I., a liberal patron of the arts and sciences.
The qualities attributed to the UNICORN caused this animal to be used as a sign both by chemists and goldsmiths. It was believed that the only way to capture it was to leave a handsome young virgin in one of the places where it resorted. As soon as the animal had perceived her, he would come and lie quietly down beside her, resting his head in her lap, and fall asleep, in which state he might be surprised by the hunters who watched for him. This laying his head in the lap of a virgin made the first Christians choose the unicorn as the type of Christ born from the Virgin Mary. The horn, as an antidote to all poison, was also believed to be emblematic of the conquering or destruction of sin by the Messiah. Religious emblems being in great favour with the early printers, some of them for this reason adopted the unicorn as their sign; thus John Harrison lived at the UNICORN AND BIBLE in Paternoster Row 1603. Again, the reputed power of the horn caused the animal to be taken as a supporter for the apothecaries' arms, and as a constant signboard by chemists. Albertus Magnus says:—“Cornu cerastis sunt qui dicunt praesenti veneno Sudare et ideo ferri ad mensas nobilium, et fieri inde manubria cultellorum quae infixa mensis prodant presens venenum. Sed hoc non satis probatum est.”
“It is reported that the unicorn's horn sweats when it comes in the presence of ison, and that for this reason it is laid on the tables of the great, and made into nife-handles, which, when placed on the tables, show the presence of poison. But this is not sufficiently proved.”—Albertus Magnus, De Animalibus, lib. xxv.
Whatever it was that passed for unicorn's horn, (probably the horn of the narwal,) it was sold at an immense price. “The unicorn whose horn is worth a city,” says Decker in his Gull's Hornbook; and Andrea Racci, a Florentine physician, relates that it had been sold by the apothecaries at £24 per ounce, when the current value of the same quantity of gold was only £2, 3s. 6d. In a MS. table of customs entitled, “The Book of Rates in ye first yeare of Queen Mary 1531,” we find the duty paid upon “cornu unicorniye ounce 20s.” An Italian author who visited England in the reign of Henry VII, speaking of the immense wealth of the religious houses in this country says:—“And I have been informed that, amongst other things, many of these monasteries possess unicorns' horns of an extraordinary size.” Hence such a horn was fit to be placed among the royal jewels, and there it appears at the head of an inventory taken in the first year of Queen Elizabeth, and preserved in Pepys's library. “Imprimis, a piece of unicorn's horn,” which, as the most valuable object, is named first.
This was no doubt the piece seen by the German traveller Hentzner, at Windsor: “We were shown here, among other things, the horn of a unicorn of above eight spans and a half in length, valued at above £10,000.”
Peacham places “that horne of Windsor (of an unicorne very likely)” amongst the sights worth seeing. Fuller also speaks of a unicorn's horn—“in my memory shewn to people in the Tower”— and enters on a long dissertation about its virtues; but it seems to have been lost, or at least, no longer exhibited in his time.
The belief in the efficacy and value of this horn continued to the close of the seventeenth century; for the Rev. John Ward in his diary, p. 172, says:— “Mr Hartman had a piece of unicorn's horn, which one Mr Godeski gave him; hee had itt att some foraine prince's court. I had the piece in my hand. Hee desired Dr Willis to make use of itt in curing his ague; but the Dr refusd because hee had never seen itt used. Mr Hartman told me the forementioned gentleman has as much of itt as would make a cup, and he intended to make one of itt. It approved ittself as a true one, as he said by this: if one drew a circle with itt about a spider, she would not move out off itt.”
“It is rather peculiar that the same superstitious notions should be found in India in connexion with the horn of the rhinoceros, whom some consider as the fabled unicorn divested of his romantic garb. His horn, too, was thought useful in diseases, and for the purpose of discovering poisons.”— Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible. “The fine shavings were supposed to cure convulsions and spasms in children. Goblets made of these would discover a poisonous draught that was poured into them, by making the liquor ferment till it ran quite out of the goblet.”-Thunberg's Journey to Caffraria.
" The great value set upon unicorns' horn caused the goldsmiths to adopt this animal as their sign. There is one recorded in Machyn's Diary: the first of May 1561, “at afternone dyd Mastyr Godderyke's sune the goldsmyth go hup into hys father's gyldyng house, toke a bowe-strynge, and hanged ymseylff at the syne of the Unycorne in Chepesyd.” In 1711 the UNICORN AND DIAL was the sign of a watchmaker near the Strand Bridge.
Another fabulous animal that formerly (though rarely) occurred on signboards was the COCKATRICE, which was the sign of a place of amusement in Highbury circa 1611. The “Bestiaria,” or ancient natural histories, give most extraordinary particulars about the birth of this creature —
“When the cock is past seven years old an egg grows in his belly, and when he feels this egg, he wonders very much, and sustains the greatest anxiety any animal can suffer. He seeks, privately, a warm place on a dunghill or in a stable, and scratches with his feet, until he has formed a hole to lay his egg in. And when the cock has dug his hole he goes ten times a day to it, for all day he thinks that he is going to be delivered. And the nature of the toad is such that it smells the venom which the cock carries in his belly, consequently it watches him, so that the cock cannot go to the hole without being seen by it. And as soon as the cock leaves the place where he has to lay his egg, the toad is immediately there to see if the egg has been laid; for his nature is such, that he hatches the egg if he can obtain it. And when he has hatched it, until it is time to open, it produces an animal that has the head, and neck, and breast of a cock, and from thence downwards, the body of a serpent.”—Translation from the MS. Bestiarium, Bib. Roy. Brussels, No. 10074.
That cocks, sometimes in the middle ages, forgot themselves so far as to lay eggs, appears from a lawsuit which poor chanticleer had at Basle in 1474, when he was convicted, condemned, and, with his egg, burned at the stake for a sorcerer, with as much pomp and ceremony as if he had been a Protestant or other heretic.
The APE was, in bygone times, the sign of an inn in Philip Lane, near London wall; all that now remains of this ancient hostelry is a stone carving of a monkey squatted on its haunches, and eating an apple; under it the date 1670, and the initial B. The courtyard, where the lumbering coaches used to arrive and depart, is now an open space, round which houses are built.
The RACOON is a painted sign at Dalston, but a hyaena seems to have sat for the portrait; the HIPPOPOTAMUs occurs in New-England Street, Brighton; the IBEX at Chadelworth, Wantage; the CROCODILE in Higham Street, Norwich; the CAMEL may be met with in a few instances, and at Weston Peverell, Plymouth, there is the sign of the CAMEL's HEAD. Finally, there is the KANGAROO, of which, occasionally, an example may be seen, set up probably by some landlord who had tried his luck in Australia. The CIVET is common all over Europe as a perfumer's sign, as it was said to produce musk. A Dutch perfumer in the seventeenth century wrote under his sign:— in translation :
“This is the Civet, as you may see; but enter. Perfumes sold here for men and women.”
The HEDGEHOG was never very common. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was the sign of William Seeres, bookseller, in St Paul's Churchyard, who put it up, according to Bagford, on account of its being the badge of his former master Sir Henry Sydney. Apparently this same house was concerned in the following strange affair:—
“By a lettere dated London, 11 May
1555, it appears that in Powles Churchyearde at the sign of the Hedgehog, the
goodwife of the house was brought to bed of a manchild, being of the age of 6
dayes and dienge the 7th daye followinge; and half an hour before it departed
spake these words followinge: (rise and pray) and so continued half an houre in
thes words and then cryinge departed the worlde. Hereupon the Bishope of London
examined the goodman of the house and other credible persones who affirmed it to
be true and will dye uppon the same.”
The Hedgehog is now very scarce on signboards; at Dadlington, near Market Bosworth, there is a DOG AND HEDGEHOG, doubtless borrowed from the well-known engraving of “A Rough Customer.”
Signs relating to sport or the chase are comparatively common; thus we have the RAT AND FERRET at Wilson, near Ashby de la Zouch; the THREE CONIES, or rabbits, figure on an old trades token of Blackman Street; the HARE, on the token of John Perris in the Strand, 1666; and Nicholas Warren, in Aldersgate.” Warren evidently made a cockney mistake, thinking that hares, instead of rabbits, lived in warrens. Another Hare was the sign of Philip Hause in Walbrook in 1682.t The HARE AND SQUIRREL occur together on a sign at Nuneaton; what the combination means it is difficult to surmise.
“Cages with climbing SQUIRRELs and bells to them were formerly the indispensable appendages of the outside of a Tinman's shop, and were, in fact, the only live sign. One, we believe, still (1826) hangs out on Holborn; but they are fast vanishing with the good old modes of our ancestors.”:
The THREE SQUIRRELS was the sign of an inn at Lambeth, mentioned by Taylor the Water poet in 1636; and from a trades token it appears that in the seventeenth century there was a similar sign in Fleet Street. Probably it was the same house which, in 1673, was occupied by Gosling the banker, “over against St Dunstan's Church,” where the triad of squirrels may still be seen in the iron-work of the windows. Gosling's was one of the leading banking establishments in the reign of Charles II. Among the curiosities of this old firm is a bill for £640, 8s, paid out of the secret service money for gold lace and silver lace, bought by the Duchess of Cleveland for the wedding clothes of the Lady Sussex and Litchfield.
The HARE AND HOUNDS are very common; some fifty years ago it was the sign of a notorious establishment in St Giles's, one of those places associated with “the good old customs of our ancestors.” As the few houses of this character that remain are difficult of access, a description of this place may not be uninteresting.
“The Hare and Hounds was to be reached by those going from the west end towards the city, by going up a turning on the left hand, nearly opposite St Giles's churchyard. The entrance to this turning or lane was obstructed or defended by posts with cross bars, which being passed, the lane itself was entered. It extended some twenty or thirty yards towards the north, through two rows of the most filthy, dilapidated, and execrable buildings that could be imagined; and at the top or end of it stood the citadel, of which ‘Stunning Joe’ was the corpulent castellan;—I need not say that it required some determination and some address to gain this strange place of rendezvous. Those who had the honour of an introduction to the great man were considered safe, wherever his authority extended, and in this locality it was certainly very extensive. He occasionally condescended to act as a pilot through the navigation of the alley to persons of aristocratic or wealthy pretensions, whom curiosity, or some other motive best known to themselves, led to his abode. Those who were not under his safe conduct frequently found it very unsafe to wander in the intricacies of this region. In the salon of this temple of low debauchery were assembled groups of all ‘unutterable things, all that class distinguished in those days, and, I believe, in these, by the generic term ‘cadgers.”
Hail cadgers, who in rags array'd,
Disport and play fantastic pranks;
Each Wednesday night in full parade,
Within the domicile of Bank's.
A ‘lady’ presided over the revels, collected largess in
a platter, and, at intervals, amused the company with specimens of her vocal
talent. Dancing was ‘kept up till a late hour, with more vigour than elegance,
and many terpsichorean passages, which partook rather of the animation of the ‘Nautch’
than the dignity of the minuet, increased the interest of the performance. It
may be supposed that those who assembled were not the sort of people who would
have patronised Father Matthew had he visited St Giles's in those times. There
was indeed an almost incessant complaint of drought, which seemed to be
increased by the very remedies applied for its cure; and had it not been for the
despotic authority with which the dispenser of the good things of the
establishment exercised his rule, his liberality in the dispensation would
certainly have led to very vigorous developments of the reprobation of man and
of woman also. In the lower tier, or cellars, or crypt of the edifice, beds or
berths were provided for the company, who, packed in bins after the ‘fitful
fever’ of the evening, slept well.”
In 1750 there was a sign of the HARE AND CATs at Norwich, which was clearly a travesty of the Hare and Hounds.
The STAG may in early times have been put up as a religious type. As such it is of constant occurrence in the catacombs and in early Christian sculptures, in allusion to Psalm xlii., “Like as the hart desireth the water brook, so longeth my soul after thee, O God!”: The Stag is still a very common sign. A publican on the Fulham Road has put up the sign of the Stag, and added to this on the tympanum : “Rex in regno suo non habet parem,” the application of which is best known to mine host himself. The BALDFACED STAG is seen in many places: baldfaced is a term applied to horses who have a white strip down the forehead to the nose. At Chigwell in Essex there is a BALD HIND, and in the High Street, Reading, a BALD FACE, both evidently derived from the last-named stag.
Various combinations also occur, as the STAG AND CASTLE, at Thornton, near Hinckly; the STAG AND PHEASANT, rather common; both these, doubtless, allude to the game seen in parks, or in the neighbourhood of noblemen's seats; the STAG AND OAK, the Cape, Warwickshire, points towards a similar origin, but the STAG AND THORN at Traffick Street, Derby, seems to be a union of two signs, for the THORN appears in the same street on another public-house. There is, however, a sort of tree called the Buck-Thorn, which possibly may have been corrupted into the Buck and Thorn, and hence the Stag and Thorn. The RISING DEER (Brampton-en-le-Morthen, Yorkshire) and the RISING BUCK (Sheinton, Shropshire) have a decided deer-stalking smack about them, affording us a glimpse of the cautious stag rising from the heather, pricking his ears and sniffing the wind.
The RANGED DEER was the sign of the King's gunsmith in the Minories, 1673.” At that period this street was full of smiths:
“The Mulcibers who in the Minories sweat
And massive bars on stubborn anvils beat,
Deform'd themselves, yet forge those stays of steel
Which arm Aurelia with a shape to kill.”—Congreve.
This ranged deer was simply intended for the Reindeer, which animal had then just newly come under the notice of the public; their knowledge of it was still confused, and its name was spelled in various ways, such as: rain-deer, raineddeer, range-deer, and ranged-deer.
THE ROEBUCK is equally common with the Stag; the GOLDEN BUCK, near St Dunstan, was the shop of P. Overton, publisher of “The Cries of the City of London, consisting of 74 copperprints, each figure drawn after the life, by the famous Mr Laron.” The BUCK AND BELL is a sign at Long Itchington : the bell was frequently added to the signs of public-houses in honour of the bell-ringers, who were in the habit of refreshing themselves there. Hence we have the BULL AND BELL, Briggate, Leeds; the RAVEN AND BELL, at Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, and Newport; the BELL AND TALBOT, at Bridgenorth; the DOLPHIN AND BELL on the token of John Warner, Aldersgate, 1668; the FISH AND BELL, (evidently the same sign) Charles Street, Soho; the THREE SWANS AND PEAL at Walsall; the NELSON AND PEAL, and many others.
Among the taverns with the sign of the ROEBUCK that have become famous, the house in Cheapside may be mentioned as a notorious place during the Whig riots in 1715.
Not only the Deer tribe themselves, but their HORNs also make a considerable figure on the signboard. It is probably to the sign of the Horns that allusion is made in the roll of the Pardoner, “Cocke Lorell’s Bote:”—
“Here is Maryone Marchauntes at Allgate
Her Husböde dwells at ye siggne of ye Cokeldes Pate.”
The HORNs was a tavern of note in Fleet Street in the reign of Queen Elizabeth:
“The xvj day of September (1557), cam owt of Spayn to the Quens Cowrt in post Monser Regamus, gorgysly apparelled, with divers Spaneardes, and with grett cheynes, and their hats sett with stones and perles, and sopyd [supped], and by vij of the cloke were again on horsébake, and so thrugh Flet Strett, and at the HORNEs they dronke, and at the GRAYHONDE, and so thrugh Chepesyde, and so over the bryge, and so rod all nyght toward Dover.”—Machyn's Diary.
Sometimes the Horns are specified as the HART's HORNs Inn, Smithfield, near Pie Corner, one of the houses in the yard of which Joe Miller used to play during Bartholomew Fair time, when he was associated with Pinkethman at the head of a troop of actors. The London Daily Post for August 24, &c., 1721, contains several advertisements of his troop, and the parts played by himself.
What most contributed to the popularity of this sign in the environs of London was the custom alluded to by Byron:
“And many to the steep of Highgate hie,
Ask ye, Boeotian shades! the reason why,
'Tis to the worship of the solemn horn,
Grasp'd in the holy hand of mystery,
In whose dread name both men and maids are sworn,
And consecrate the oath with draught and dance till morn.” Childe Harold, canto I. lxx.
Highgate was the headquarters for this swearing on the horn. Hone gives the oath in the following form:—
“An old and respectable inhabitant of the village says, that 60 years ago, upwards of 80 stages stopped every day at the Red Lion, and that out of every 5 passengers 3 were sworn. The oath was delivered standing, and ran thus: ‘Take notice what I now say unto you, for that is the first word of your oath—mind that / You must acknowledge me to be your adopted father, I must acknowledge you to be my adopted son (or daughter). If you do not call me father, you forfeit a bottle of wine. If I do not call you son, I forfeit the same. And now, my good son, if you are travelling through this village of Highgate, and you have no money in your pocket, go call for a bottle of wine at any house you think proper to go into, and book it to your father's score. If you have any friends with you you may treat them as well, but if you have money of your own you must pay for it yourself. For you must not say you have no money when you have, neither must you convey the money out of your own pockets into your friends' pockets, for I shall search you as well as them; and if it is found that you or they have money, you forfeit a bottle of wine for trying to cozen and cheat your poor old ancient father. You must not eat brown bread while you can get white, except you like the brown the best; you must not drink small beer while you can get strong, except you like the small the best. You must not kiss the maid while you can kiss the mistress, except you like the maid the best, but sooner than lose a good chance you may kiss them both. And now, my good son, for a word or two of advice: keep from all houses of ill repute, and every place of public resort for bad company. Beware of false friends, for they will turn to be your foes, and inveigle you into houses where you may lose your money and get no redress. Keep from thieves of every denomination. And now, my good son, I wish you a safe journey through Highgate and this life. I charge you, my good son, that if you know any in this company who have not taken the oath you must cause them to take it, or make each of them forfeit a bottle of wine, for if you fail to do so you will forfeit a bottle of wine yourself. So now my good son, God bless you. Kiss the horns or a pretty girl, if you see one here which you like best, and so be free of Highgate.’”
After that, the new-made member became fully acquainted with the privileges of a freeman, which consisted in :
“If at any time you are going through Highgate, and want to rest yourself, and you see a pig lying in the ditch, you have liberty to kick her out and take her place; but if you see three lying together, you must only kick out the middle one and lie between the other two.”
These last liberties, however, are a later addition to the oath introduced by a blacksmith, who kept the COACH AND HORSEs. Nearly every inn in Highgate used to keep a pair of horns for this custom. In Hone's time the principal inn, the Gatehouse, had stag-horns:—
The Mitre, stags'-horns. The Red-Lion, rams'. The Angel,
The Green Dragon, do. horns. The Bull, stags'-horns. The Red Lion and Sun, The Coopers' Arms, do. The Wrestlers, do. bullocks'-horns. The Fox and Hounds, The Lord Nelson, do. The Bell, stags'-horns. rams'-horns. The Duke of Wellington, The Coach and Horses, The Flask, do. stags'-horns. rams'-horns. The Rose and CROWN, The CROWNe, do. The Castle, do. stags'-horns. The Duke's Head, do.
Hone supposes the custom to have originated in a sort of graziers' club.” Highgate being the place nearest London where cattle rested on their way from the north, certain graziers were accustomed to put up at the Gatehouse for the night. But as they could not wholly exclude strangers who, like themselves, were travelling on business, they brought an ox to the door, and those who did not choose to kiss its horns, after going through the ceremony described, were not deemed fit members of their society. Similar customs prevailed in other places, as at Ware, at the Griffin in Hoddesdon, &c.
On the Continent the sign of the Horns was formerly equally common, often accompanied with some sly allusion to what Othello calls “the forked plague.” Thus in the Rue Bourg Chavin, in Lyons, there is now a pair of horns with the inscription “SUNT SIMILIA TUIs;” and a Dutch shopkeeper of the seventeenth century wrote under his sign of the Horns— “Ik draag Hoornen dat ider ziet, Maar menig draagt Hoornen en weet het niet.””
“I wear horns, which everybody sees, But many a one wears horns and does not know it.”
The Fox, as might be expected, is to be seen in a great many places; there is one at Frandley, Cheshire, with the following rhymes:
“Behold the Fox, near Frandley stocks,
Pray catch him when you can,
For they sell here, good ale and beer,
To any honest man.”
A still more absurd inscription accompanies the sign of the Fox at Folkesworth, near Stilton, Hunts:—
“I. HAM. A. CUNEN . FOX .YOU. SEE. THER . HIS. * No. HARM. ATCHED . TO. ME. IT. Is . MY . MRS WISH . To . PLACE . ME HERE. To . LET. YOU . No. HE. SELLS. GOOD. BEERE.”
Formerly there used to be a sign of the THREE FOXEs in Clement's Lane, Lombard Street, carved in stone, representing three foxes sitting in a row. But a few years ago the house came into the possession of a legal firm, who, no doubt afraid of the jokes to which the sign might lead, thought it advisable to do away with the carving by covering it over with plaster.
One of the most favourite combinations is the FOX AND GOOSE, represented by a fox currant, with the neck of the goose in his mouth and the body cast over his back. It seems suggested by an incident in the old tale of “Reynard the Fox,” and was a subject which mediaeval artists were never tired of representing; it occurs in stall carvings, as in Gloucester Cathedral; in the border of the Bayeux tapestry, and in endless MS. illuminations. It is, or was, a coat of arms borne by the families of Foxwist and Foxfeld. Derived from this sign are the FOX AND DUCK, (two in Sheffield,) and the FOX AND HEN, of which there is an example at Long Itchingtoh. Reynard's predatory habits are further illustrated by the FOX AND LAMB, in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, in Allendale, &c., and the FOX AND GRAPEs, borrowed from the fable. From the same well-known source also arose the sign of the FOX AND CRANE. But we see the punishment of all Reynard's misdemeanours in the FOX AND HOUNDs, a sign of old standing, as there is one in Putney on a house which professes to have been “established above three hundred years.” The FOX AND OWL at Nottingham, seems to owe its origin to a curious qui pro quo in language. A bunch of ivy, or ivy tod, was generally considered the favourite haunt of an owl, but a tod also signifies a fox; and so the owl's nest, owlstod, may have led to the owl and tod, the fox and owl. The Owl's NEST is still a sign at St Helen's, Lancashire. See under Bird Signs.
In the sign of the Fox AND BULL, at Knightsbridge, the bull has been added of late years. About fifty years ago a magistrate used to sit once a week at this public-house to settle the small disputes of the neighbouring inhabitants. At that period Knightsbridge was still in such a benighted condition that neither a butcher's nor draper's shop was to be found between Hyde Park Corner and Sloane Street; and the whole locality could only boast of one stationer where note-paper and newspapers could be obtained. The voyage to London in those days was performed in a sort of lumbering stagecoach, over an ill-paved and dimly lighted road. To this Fox Inn, by a very old wooden gate at the back, the bodies of the drowned in the Serpentine used to be conveyed, to the care of the Royal Humane Society, who had a receiving-house here. Among the many unhappy young and fair ones who were carried through that “Lasciate-ogni-speranza” gate, was Harriet Westbrook, the first wife of Shelley the poet, who had drowned herself in the Serpentine upon hearing that her husband had run off to Italy with Mary, the daughter of William Godwin, bookseller and philosopher of Snow Hill. The ancient inn remained much in its Elizabethan condition till the year 1799, when certain alterations cleared away the old-fashioned fire-places, chimney-pieces, and dog-irons, by which had sat the weather-beaten soldiers of Cromwell, the highwaymen lying in ambush for the mail coaches, and the fair London ladies out on a sly trip.
other combinations are not so easily explained, such as the FOX AND CAP, Long
Lane, Smithfield: but when we see the bill of this shop” the mystery is
explained ; it was the sign of Tho. Tronsdale, a capmaker, and represented a fox
running, with a cap painted above him, to intimate the man's business. The FOX
AND CROWN, Nottingham and Newark, is evidently a combination of two signs. The
FOX AND KNOT, Snow Hill, seems to be of old standing, as it has given its name
to a court close by. Its origin, doubtless, is exactly similar to that of the
Fox and Cap; the knot or top-knot being a head-dress worn by ladies in the last
century. The FLYING FOX at Colchester, may either allude to some kind of bat or
flying squirrel (?) thus denominated, or is a landlord's caprice. It is
certainly somewhat strange that in this sporting country the sign of the Brush
or the Fox's Tail should be so rare; in fact, no instance of its use is now to
be found, although, beside the interest attached to it in the hunting field, it
had the honour of being one of the badges of the Lancaster family. What is still
more surprising is, that the FOX'S TAIL should have been the sign of a Parisian
bookseller, Jean Ruelle, in 1540; but what prompted him to choose this sign is
now rather difficult to guess.
Notwithstanding the ballad of the “Vicar and Moses,” which says,
“At the sign of the Horse old Spintext of course
Each night took his pipe and his pot,”
the horse rarely or never occurs without a distinctive adjective to determine its colour, action, or other attribute. All natural colours of the horse, and some others, are found on the signboard —black, white, bay, sorrel, (rare) pied, spotted, red, sometimes golden, and in one instance, at Grantham, a BLUE Horse is met with. Frequently the sign of the Horse is accompanied by the following hippophile advice:—
“Up hill hurry me not;
Down hill trot me not;
On level ground spare me not;
And in the stable I’m not forgot.”
Many years ago, at Greenwich, there was a public-house with the sign of a Horse. Behind the house was a large grass field, to which referred the following notice, painted under the sign:— “Good Grass for Horses. LONG TAILs three shillings and sixpence per week.” An inquisitive person passing that way, and not understanding the meaning of the notice, went in and questioned the landlord, who informed him that a difference was made for the bob-tailed horses; “for,” said he, “long-tailed horses can whisk off the flies, and eat at their leisure; but bob-tails have to shake their heads and run about from morning till night, and so do eat much less.”
The RED HORSE is now almost extinct; it occurs as the sign of a house in Bond Street, in an advertisement about a spaniel lost by the Duke of Grafton.” By the term red was not meant vermilion; at that time it was the accepted word for what we now call roan. The BAY HORSE is a great favourite in Yorkshire; in 1861 there were, in the West Riding alone, not less than seventy-seven inns, taverns, and public-houses, with such a sign, besides innumerable ale-houses. One would expect the YORKSHIRE GREY more indigenous to that county. The DAPPLE GREY is apparently a tribute of gratitude of the publicans to the “Dapple Grey” of the nursery rhyme—
“I had a little bonny nag,
His name was Dapple Grey,
And he would bring me to an ale-house
A mile out of the way.”
Dappled grey, too, was the fashionable colour of horses in the last century; thus Pope's mercenary Duchess—
“The gods, to curse Pamela with her prayers,
Gave her gilt coach and dappled Flanders mares.”
Of the WHITE HORSE innumerable instances occur, and many are connected with names known in history. At the White Horse, near Burleigh-on-the-Hill, the noted Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, spent the last years of his life, and died. “The Duke of Queensbury being present at his death, knowing the Duke to be a dissenter, and thinking he must be a Catholic, offered to send for a Catholic priest, to which the Duke answered, ‘No, said he, “those rascals eat God; but if you know of any set of fellows that eat the devil, I should be obliged to you if you would send for one of them !’”
All of a piece | So ended
“That life of pleasure, and that soul of whim.””
At the White Horse in Kensington, Addison wrote several of his Spectators. His favourite dinner, when he stayed at this house, was fillet of veal and a bottle of claret. The old inn remained in its original state till about forty years ago, when it was pulled down, and the name changed to the HOl.I.AND ARMs; but the sign is still preserved in the parlour of the new establishment.
Edinburgh also has its famous White Horse; in a close in the Canongate, an inn dating from the time of Queen Mary Stuart, and which Scott has introduced in one of his novels, may still be seen. It was well-known to runaway couples, and hundreds have been made happy or unhappy for life “at a moment's notice,” in its large room, in which, as well as in the White Hart in the Grassmarket, these impromptu marriages were as regularly performed as at Gretna Green.
The WHITE HORSE CELLAR, Piccadilly, now a tame omnibus office, was for more than a century one of the bustling coaching inns for the West. “Some persons think the sublimest object in nature is a ship launched on the bosom of the ocean; but give me, for my private satisfaction, the mail coaches that pour down Piccadilly of an evening, tear up the pavement, and devour the way before them to the Land'sEnd.”—Hazlitt. This place calls up pleasant fancies of travelling by the mail, through merry roads, with blooming hawthorn and chestnut trees, larks singing aloft, the village bells, and the blacksmith's hammer tinkling in the distance; but another White Horse Inn shows the dark side of the picture—the unsafety of the roads, for the White Horse, corner of Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square, was long a detached public-house, where travellers customarily stopped for refreshment, and to examine their firearms before crossing the fields to Lisson Green. The last White Horse we shall mention was in Pope's Head Alley, the sign of John Sudbury and George Humble, the first men that opened a printshop in London, in the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Peacham, in his “Compleat Gentleman,” says that Goltzius' engravings were commonly to be had in Pope's Head Alley. There also, in 1611, the first edition of Speed’s “Great Britain” was published. At a certain place in Warwickshire a fellow started a public house near four others, with signs respectively of the Bear, the Angel, the Ship, and the Three Cups. Yet quite undaunted at his neighbours, he put up the White Horse as his sign, and under it wrote the following spirited and prophetic rhymes:—
“My White Horse shall bite the Bear,
And make the Angel fly;
Shall turn the Ship her bottom up,
And drink the Three Cups dry.”
And so it did; the lines pleased the people, the other houses soon lost their custom, and tradition says that the fellow made a considerable fortune.
The RUNNING HORSE or the GALLOPING HORSE—perhaps originally the horse of Hanover—is also very common. In the London Gazette, Feb. 12-15, 1699, a horse race is advertised at Lilly Hoo, in Hertford; the advertisement concludes: “and on the same day a smock worth £3 will be run for, besides other encouragements for those that come in 2d. or 3d. Any woman may run gratis, that enters her name at the Running Horse, where articles may be seen,” &c. Races by women were not uncommon in those days, and instances may yet occasionally be heard of, particularly in the east end of London, where every great match generally concludes with a race among the free and easy ladies of the neighbourhood.
The combinations in which we meet with the Horse are all very plain, and require no explanation. The HORSE AND GROOM, and the HORSE AND JOCKEY, are the most prevalent. Racing, from time immemorial, has been a favourite English sport. Fitzstephen mentions the races in the days of Henry II., and in the ballad of Syr Bevys of Hampton,” full details are given.
“In somer at Whitsontide,
Whan knighten most on horseback ride,
A course let they make or a daye
Steedes and Palfraye for to assaye;
Which horse that best may ren,
Three miles the cours was then,
Who that might ride them shoulde
Have forty pounds of redy golde.”
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth races were much in vogue, and betting carried to great excess. The famous George Earl of Cumberland is recorded to have wasted more money than any of his ancestors, chiefly by racing and tilting. In 1599, private matches by gentlemen who rode their own horses were of frequent occurrence. In the reign of James I. public races were celebrated at various places, under much the same regulations as now. The most celebrated were called Bellcourses. In the latter part of the reign of Charles I, there were races in Hyde Park as well as at Newmarket. Charles II, was very fond of this diversion, and appointed meetings at Datchet Mead when he resided at Windsor. Gradually, however, Newmarket became the principal place. The king, a constant attendant, established a house for his own accommodation, and entered horses in his royal name. Instead of bells, he gave a silver bowl or a cup, value 100 guineas, on which the exploit and pedigree of the winning horse were generally engraved. William III. and Queen Anne both added to the plate. George I., towards the end of his reign, discontinued the plate and gave 100 guineas instead; George II. made several racing regulations, about the age of horses, the weight of jockeys, &c. Already, in 1768, the horses had obtained great swiftness; for Misson, in his “Travels,” mentions one that ran 20 miles in 55 minutes upon uneven ground, which for those times was certainly a remarkable feat.
The BELL AND HORSE is an old and still frequent sign; it occurs on trades
tokens; as John Harcourt at the BELL AND BLACK HORSE in Finsbury, 1668, and on
various others; whilst at the present day it may be seen at many a roadside
alehouse. Bells were a favourite addition to the trappings of horses in the
middle ages. Chaucer's abbot is described:—
“When he rode men his bridle hear,
Gingling in a whistling wind as clere,
And eke as loud as doth a chapel bell.”
In a MS. in the Cottonian Library”
relating the journey of Margaret of England to Scotland, there to be married to
King James, we find constant mention of these bells. The horse of Sir William
Ikarguil, companion of Sir William Conyars, sheriff of Yorkshire, is described
as “his Hors Harnays full of campanes [bells] of silver and gylt.” Whilst the
master of the horse of the Duke of Northumberland was “monted apon a gentyll
horse, and campanes of silver and gylt.” And a company of knights is introduced,
“some of their hors harnes was full of campanes, sum of gold and sylver, and
others of gold.” This led to the custom of giving a golden bell as the reward of
a race. In Chester, such a bell was run for yearly on St George's day; it was
“dedicated to the kinge, being double gilt with the Kynges Armes upon it,” and
was carried in the procession by a man on horseback “upon a septer in pompe, and
before him a noise of trumpets in pompe.” This custom of racing for a bell led
to the adoption of the still common phrase, bearing off the BELL.
Names of celebrated race horses are found on signboards as well as human celebrities. Such are BAY CHILDERS at Dronfield, Derby; FLYING CHILDERS at Melton Mowbray; WILD DAYRELL, Oldham; FILBO DA PUTA, Nottingham ; and FILHO tavern, Manchester. BLINK BONNY is common in Northumberland; FLYING DUTCHMAN occurs in various places; and the ARABIAN HORSE at Aberford, in Yorkshire, may perhaps represent the great Arabian Godolphin, the sire of all our famous racers.
The HORSE AND TIGER, at Rotherham, is said to refer to the accident in a travelling menagerie which took place many years ago, when the tiger broke loose and sprang upon the leaders of a passing mail coach, although visitors from London generally suppose the “tiger” to mean the spruce groom, or horse attendant, coming from the country to London in such numbers. Even that poor hack, the MANAGE HORSE, is not forgotten, as he may be seen going through his paces before a public-house in Cottles Lane, Bath. In one of the turnings in Cannon Street, City, there is an old sign of the HORSE AND DORSITER, which is simply an old rendering of the more common PACK HORSE, formerly the usual sign of a posting inn. No doubt the FRIGHTED HORSE, which occurs in many places, belongs to this class of horses,— the expression “fright” being a corruption of freight. Some publicans who, with their trade combine the calling of farrier, set up the sign of the HoRSE AND FARRIER,-in Ireland rendered as the BLEEDING HoRSE. A Dutch farrier in the village of Schagen, in the seventeenth century, put up the sign of the WHITE HoRSE, and wrote under it the following very philosophical verse :—
“In’t witte Paard worden de paarden haar voeten me tyzer beslagen
Dat men de menschen dat meekon doenzy hoefden dangeen schoenen te dragen.”
“At the White Horse, horses are shod with iron, Pity the same cannot be done
to men, for then they would need no shoes.”
The HORSE AND STAG, (Finningley, Nottinghamshire) and the HORSE AND GATE, are both hunting signs; yet the last may have been suggested by the Bull and Gate. The HORSE AND TRUMPET is a very common sign, illustrating the war horse; the HORSE AND CHAISE (or shaze, as it is spelled) in the Broad Centry, (sanctuary,) Westminster, is named in an advertisement in the Postboy, Jan. 23-25, 1711; whilst the CHAISE AND PAIR is still to be seen at Northill, Colchester.
The NAG's HEAD-which only in one instance is varied by the HORSE's HEAD, namely, at Brampton in Cumberland—is a sign that has become famous in history; it is represented on the print of the entry of Queen Marie de' Medici on her visit to her daughter Henriette Marie, Queen of Charles I., being the sign of a notorious tavern opposite the Cheapside Cross. It is suspended from a long square beam, at the end of which a large CROWN of evergreens is seen. As none of the other houses are decked with greens, this apparently represents the Bush. This tavern was the fictitious scene of the consecration of the Protestant bishops at the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1559. It was pretended by the adversaries of the Protestant faith, that a certain number of ecclesiastics, in a hurry to take possession of the vacant sees, assembled here; where they were to undergo the ceremony from Antony Kitchen, alias Dunstane, Bishop of Llandaff, a sort of occasional Nonconformist, who had taken the oath of supremacy to Elizabeth; Bonner, Bishop of London, (then confined in the Tower.) hearing of it, sent his chaplain to Kitchen, threatening him with excommunication in case he proceeded. On this the prelate refused to perform the ceremony; whereupon, according to Catholics, Parker and the other candidates, rather than defer possession of their dioceses, determined to consecrate one another, which they did, without any sort of scruple. Scorey began with Parker, who instantly rose Archbishop of Canterbury. The refutation of this tale may be read in Strype's life of Archbishop Parker.: - !
A curious anecdote is told concerning the sign of a GELDING. Golden Square, it appears, was originally called Gelding Square, from the sign of a neighbouring inn; but the inhabitants, indignant at the vulgarity of the name, changed it to its present title. Some publicans appear to be of opinion that the GREY MARE is the best horse for their signboards; in Lancashire, especially, this sign abounds. Others put up the MARE AND FOAL; but they are evidently not very well acquainted with the old ballad of the “Mare and Foal that went to church,” for there the Mare Says
“Oh ! to pray for those publicans I am very loath,
They fill their pots full of nothing but froth,
Some fill them half full, and others the whole;
May the devil go with them !—Amen, says the foal.
Derry down,” &c.
Besides the Mare and Foal, there is the COW AND CALF, which is very common. A still more happy mother, the COW AND TWO CALVES, was, in 1762, a sign near Chelsea Pond; whilst a touching picture of paternal bliss might have been seen on a sign in Islington in the last century, viz., the BULL AND THREE CALVES ; that animal, doubtless, was placed there in the company of his offspring, to illustrate the homely old proverb,
“He that bulls the cow must keep the calf.”
The GOAT AND KID was a sign at Norwich in 1711;” the SOW AND PIGs is common; and the EWE AND LAMB occurs on a trades token of Hatton Garden in 1668, and may still be seen in many places. A practical traveller in the coaching days, staying at the Ewe and Lamb in Worcester, wrote on a pane of glass in that inn the following very true remark:—
“If the people suck your ale no more
Than the poor Lamb, th’ Ewe at the door,
You in some other place may dwell,
Or hang yourself for all you’ll sell.”
The CAT AND KITTENS was, about 1823, a sign near Eastcheap ; it may have come from the publican's slang expression, cat and
kittens, as applied to the large and small pewter pots. In the police courts it
is not uncommon to hear that such and such low persons have been “had up” for
“cat and kitten sneaking,” i.e., stealing quart and pint pots. So much for
quadrupeds. Happy families of birds are equally abundant; there was the
SPARROW'S NEST in Drury Lane, of which trades tokens are extant; the THROSTLE
NEST, (a not inappropriate name for a free-and-easy singing club ) is the sign
of a public-house at Buglawton, near Congleton; the MARTIN's NEST, at Thornhill
Bridge, Normanton; the KITE'S NEST, (an unpromising name for an inn, if there be
anything in a name,) at Stretton, in Herefordshire; and finally, the BROOD HEN,
or HEN AND CHICKENs, which latter is more common than any of the former. Not
improbably it originated with the sign of the Pelican's Nest, to which several
of the above-named nests may be referred. Under the name of the “Brood Hen,” it
occurs on a trades token of Battle Bridge, Southwark; as the “Hen and Chickens,”
it was also known in the seventeenth century, for there are tokens of John Sell
“at ye Hen and Chickens on Hammond's Key;” it is likewise mentioned in the
following daily occurrence of the good old times:— “Wednesday night last,
Captain Lambert was stopt by three footpads
near the Hen and Chickens, between Peckham and Camberwell, and robbed of a sum
of money and his gold watch.”"
The prevalence of this sign may be accounted for by the kindred love for the barleycorn in the human and gallinaceous tribes. It was also used as a sign by Paulus Sessius, a bookseller of Prague, in 1606, who printed some of Kepler's astronomical works; above his colophon, representing the hen and her offspring, is the motto: “GRANA DAT A FIMO SCRUTANs,” the application of which is not very obvious. Speaking of birds' nests figuring as signs, we may mention that, at the beginning of the present century, the small shops under the tree at the corner of Milk Street, City, used to describe themselves “as under the Crow's Nest, Cheapside.” An old-fashioned snuff shop, still in existence, issued its tobacco papers in this way, and the small bookshop there at present advertises itself as “under the tree,” although it was only very recently that the crow ceased to visit and repair his nest here. The THREE COLTS, in Bride Lane, 1652, is represented on a trades token by three colts running; such a sign gave its name to a street in Limehouse. The HORSESHOE is a favourite in combination with other subjects. Aubrey, in his “Miscellanies,” p. 148, says:— “It is a very common thing to nail horseshoes on the thresholds of doors. which is to hinder the power of witches that enter into the house. Most houses of the West End of London have the horseshoe on the threshold; it should be a horseshoe that one finds.” Elsewhere he says:— “Under the Porch of Staninfield Church in Suffolk, I saw a tile with a horseshoe upon it placed there for this purpose, though one would imagine that the holy water would have been sufficient.” Concerning the same superstition Brand observes —
“I am told there are many other similar instances. In Monmouth Street (probably the part alluded to by Aubrey) many horseshoes nailed to the threshold are still to be seen. In 1813 not less than 17 remained, nailed against the steps of doors. The bawds of Amsterdam believed in 1687, that a horseshoe which had either been found or stolen placed on the hearth would bring good luck to their houses.”
" The charm of the horseshoe lies in its being forked and presenting two points; thus Herrick says:
“Hang up hooks and sheers, to scare
Hence the hag that rides the mare;
Till they be all over wet
With the mire and the sweat,
This observ'd the manes shall be
Of your horses all knot-free.”
Any forked object, therefore, has the power to drive witches away. Hence the children in Italy and Spain are generally seen with a piece of forked coral (coral is particularly efficacious) hung round their necks, whilst even the mules and other cattle are armed with a small crescent formed by two boars’ tusks, or else a forked piece of wood, to avert the spells of what Macbeth calls “the juggling fiends.” Even the two forefingers held out apart are thought sufficient to avert the evil eye, or prevent the machinations of the lord and master of the nether world. Great power also lies in the pentagram and Solomon's seal, which, being composed of two triangles, present not less than six forked ends. Both these figures are much used by the Moors, with the same object in view as the horseshoe by western nations. In this country, at the present day, scarcely a stable can be seen where there is not a horseshoe nailed on the door or lintel; there is one very conspicuous at the gate of Meux's brewery at the corner of Tottenham Court Road, and conspicuous on the horse trappings of this establishment the shoe in polished brass may be seen; in fact, it has become the trade-mark of the firm, the same as the red triangle which distinguishes the pale ale of the Burton brewers. The iron heels of workmen's boots are also frequently seen fixed against the doorpost, or behind the door, of houses of the lower classes.
The HORSESHOE, by itself, is comparatively a rare sign. There is a Horseshoe Tavern, mentioned by Aubrey in connexion with one of those reckless deeds of bloodshed so common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries:—
“Captain Carlo Fantom, a Croatian, spake 13 languages, was a captain under the Erle of Essex. He had a world of cuts about his body with swords and was very quarrelsome and a great ravisher. He met coming late at night out of the Horseshoe Tavern in Drury Lane with a lieutenant of Colonel Rossiter, who had great jingling spurs on. Said he, the noise of your spurrs doe offend me, you must come over the kennel and give me satisfaction. They drew and passed at each other, and the lieutenant was runne through and died in an hour or two, and it was not known who killed him.”
This tavern was still in existence in 1692, as appears from the deposition of one of the witnesses in the murder of Mountfort the actor by Captain Hill, who, with his accomplice, Lord Mohun, whilst they were laying in wait for Mrs Bracegirdle, drank a bottle of canary which had been bought at the Horseshoe Tavern.
The THREE HORSESHOEs are not uncommon; and the single shoe may be met with in many combinations, arising from the old belief in its lucky influences: thus the HORSE AND HORSESHOE was the sign of William Warden, at Dover, in the seventeenth century, as appears from his token. The SUN AND HORSESHOE is still a public-house sign in Great Tichfield Street, and the MAGPIE AND HORSESHOE may be seen carved in wood in Fetter lane; the magpie is perched within the horseshoe, a bunch of grapes being suspended from it. The HORNS AND HORSESHOE is represented on the token of William Grainge in Gutter lane, 1666,-a horseshoe within a pair of antlers. The LION AND HORSESHOE appears in the following advertisement of a shooting match:—
"ON FRIDAY the 16th of this instant, at two in the afternoon, will be a plate to be (sic) shot for, at twenty-five guineas value, in the Artillerie Ground near Moorfields. No gun to exceed four feet and a half in the barrel, the distance to be 200 yards, and but one shot a piece, the nearest the centre to win. No person that shoots to be less than one guinea, but as many more as he pleases to compleat the sum. The money to be put in the hands of Mr Jones, at the Lion and Horseshoe Tavern, or Mr Turog, gunsmith in the Minories. Note, that if any gentleman has a mind to shoot for the whole, there is a person will shoot with him for it, being left out by mistake in our last.”
The HOOP AND HORSESHOE on Towerhill, was formerly called the Horseshoe. This, like every old tavern, has its murder to record:—
“The last week one Colonel John Scott took an occasion to kill one John Buttler, a hackney coachman, at the Horse Shoe Tavern on Tower Hill, without any other provocation ’tis said, but refusing to carry him and another gentleman pertaining to the law, from thence to Temple Bar for 1s. 6d. Amongst the many pranks that he hath played in other countries 'tis believed this is one of the very worst. He is a very great vindicator of the Salamanca Doctor. He is a lusty, tall man, squint eyed, thin faced, wears a peruke sometimes and has a very h_ look. All good people would do well if they can to apprehend him that he may be brought to justice.”"
The HORSESHOE AND CROWN is named in the following
handbill, which is too characteristic to curtail:— “DAUGHTER OF A SEVENTH
DAUGHTER. REMOVED TO THE SIGN OF THE HORSESHOE AND CROWN IN CASTLE STREET, NEAR
THE 7 DIALS IN ST GILES. Liveth a Gentlewoman, the Daughter of a Seventh
Daughter, who far exceeds all her sex, her business being very great amongst the
quality, has now thought fit to make herself known to the benefit of the Publick.
She resolves these questions following:—As to Life whether happy or unhappy? the
best time of it past or to come? Servants or lodgers if honest or not? To marry
the person desir'd or who they shall marry and when ? A Friend if real or not ?
a Woman with child or not, or ever likely to have any | A friend absent dead or
alive, if alive when return? Journey by Land or voyages by Sea, the Success
thereof. Lawsuits, which shall gain the better? She also Interprets Dreams.
These and all other lawful questions which for brevity sake are omitted, she
fully resolves. Her hours are from 7 in the Morning till 12, and from 1 till 8
at Night.”f These quack “gentlewomen” were as much the order of that day as the
broken-down clergymen who advertise medicines for nervous and rheumatic
complaints are in our own time. Heywood, in his play of “the Wise Woman of
Hogsden,” enumerates the following occupations as their perquisites:— “Let me
see how many trades have I to live by: First, I am a wise woman and a
fortuneteller, and under that I deale in physick and forespeaking, in palmestry
and things lost. Next I undertake to cure madd folks; Then I keepe gentlewomen
lodgers, to furnish such chambers as I let out by the night; Then I am provided
for bringing young wenches to bed; and for a need you see I can play the
Generally they proclaimed themselves the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, a relationship that is still thought to be accompanied by powers not vouchsafed to ordinary mortals. This belief in the virtue of the number 7 doubtless originated from the Old Testament, where that number seems in greater favour than all others. The books of Moses are full of references to it: the creation of the world in 7 days, sevenfold vengeance on whosoever slayeth Cain; Noah had to take 7 males and females of every clean beast, 7 males and females of every fowl of the air, for in 7 days it would begin to rain; the ark rested in the 7th month, &c., &c. From this the middle ages borrowed their predilection for this number, and its cabalistic power.” Horned cattle are just as common as horses on the signboards; the BULL, in particular, is a favourite with the nation, whether as a namesake—so much so, indeed, as to have given it a popular name abroad—or as the source of the favourite roast-beef, or from the ancient sport of bull-baiting, it is difficult to say. From Ben Jonson we gather that there was another reason which sometimes dictated the choice of this animal on the signboard. In the “Alchymist” he introduces a shopkeeper, who wishes the learned Doctor to provide him with a sign. “Face. What say you to his Constellation, Doctor, the Balance? Sub. No, that is stale and common : A Townsman born in Taurus gives the Bull Or the Bull's head : in Aries, the Ram, A poor device.”—ALCHYMIST, a. ii. s. i. Newton dates a letter from “the Bull,” at Shoreditch, September 1693; it is addressed to Locke, and a curious letter it is, containing an apology for having wished Locke dead. The Bull is generally represented in his natural colour, black, white, grey, pied, “spangled ” (in Yorkshire) and only rarely red and blue; yet these two last colours may simply imply the natural red, brown, and other common hues, for newspapers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries often contain advertisements about blue dogs; and whatever shade that was intended for, it may certainly with as much justice be applied to a bull as to a dog. The CHAINED BULL at North Allerton, Leeds, and the BULL AND CHAIN, Langworthgate, Lincoln, doubtless refer to the old cruel pastime of bull-baitings. Occasionally we meet also with a WILD BULL, as at Gisburn, near Skipton.
Leigh Hunt observes:—
“London has a modern look to the inhabitants; but persons who come from the country find as odd and remote-looking things in it as the Londoners do in York and Chester; and among these are a variety of old inns with corridors running round the yard. They are well worth a glance from anybody who has a respect for old times.” Such a one is the Bull's Inn in Bishopsgate Street, where formerly plays were acted by Burbadge, Shakespeare's fellow-comedian, and Tarlton in good Queen Bess's time amused our forefathers on summers' afternoons with his quaint jokes and comic parts.” This inn is also celebrated as the London house of the famous Hobson, (Hobson’s choice) the rich Cambridge carrier. Here a painted figure of him was to be seen in the eighteenth century, with a hundred pound bag under his arm, on which was the following inscription :—“The fruitful Mother of a Hundred More.” At the Bull public-house on Towerhill, Thomas Otway, the play writer, died of want at the age of 33, on the 14th of April 1685, having retired to this house to escape his creditors.
The BULL, at Ware, obtained a celebrity by its enormous bed. Taylor, the Water poet, in 1636 remarked, “Ware is a great thorowfare, and hath many fair, innes, with very large bedding, and one high and mighty Bed called the Great Bed of Ware : a man may seeke all England over and not find a married couple that can fill it.” Nares, in his “Glossary,” quotes Chauncey's, Hertfordshire; for a story of twelve married couple who, laid together in the bed, each pair being so placed at the top and bottom of the bed, that the head of one pair was at the feet of another. Shakespeare alludes to it in “Twelfth Night,” where Sir Toby Belch in his drunken humour advises Aguecheek to write: “as many lies as will lie in this sheet of paper, though the sheet were big enough for the Bed of Ware in England,” (a. iii. s. 2.) Where the “high and mighty Bed” was located, seems a mooted point; some say at the Bull, others at the CROWN, and Clutterbuck places it at the Saracen's Head, where there is or was a bed of some twelve feet square, in an Elizabethan style of carved oak, but with the date 1463 painted on the back. Tradition says that it was the bed of Warwick the king-maker, and was bought at a sale of furniture at Ware Park. Recently it has been sold, and Charles Dickens is now said to be its possessor.
The Bull Inn at Buckland, near Dover, deserves to be mentioned for its comical
caution to the customers:
“The Bull is tame so fear him not,
All the while you pay your shot.
When money's gone, and credit's bad,
It's that which makes the Bull run mad.”
The famous OLD PIED BULL INN, Islington, was pulled down circa 1827, the house having existed from the time of Queen Elizabeth. The parlour retained its original character to the last. There was a chimney-piece containing Hope, Faith, and Charity, with a border of cherubims, fruit and foliage, whilst the ceiling in stucco represented the five senses. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been an inhabitant of this house.
“This conjecture is somewhat strengthened by the nature of the border [in a stained glass window,] which was composed of seahorses, mermaids, parrots, &c., forming a most appropriate allusion to the character of Raleigh, as a great navigator, and discoverer of unknown countries; and the bunch of green leaves [two seahorses supporting a bunch of green leaves,] has been generally asserted to represent the tobacco plant, of which he is said to have been the first importer into this country.”
At what time the house was converted into an inn does not appear. The sign of the Pied Bull in stone relief, on the front towards the south, bore the date 1730, which was probably the year this addition was made to the building. That it was an inn in 1665, appears from the following episode of the Plague-time :
“I remember one citizen, who, having thus broken out of his house in Aldersgate Street, or there about, went along the road to Islington. He attempted to have gone in at the Angel Inn, and after that at the White Horse, two inns known still by the same signs, but was refused; after which he came to the Pied Bull, an inn also still continuing the same sign. He asked them for lodging for one night only, pretending to be going into Lincolnshire, and assuring them of his being very sound, and free from the infection, which also at that time had not reached much that way. They told him they had no lodging, that they could spare but one bed up in the garret, and that they could spare that bed but for one night, some drovers being expected the next day with cattle; so if he would accept of that lodging, he might have it, which he did; so a servant was sent up with a candle with him, to show him the room. He was very well dressed, and looked like a person not used to lie in a garret; and when he came to the room he fetched a deep sigh, and said to the servant, ‘I have seldom lain in such a lodging as this; however, the servant assured him again that they had no better. ‘Well, says he, “I must make shift; this is a dreadful time, but it is but for one night.” So he sat down upon the bedside, and bade the maid, I think it was, fetch him up a pint of warm ale. Accordingly the servant went for the ale; but some hurry in the house, which perhaps employed her otherwise, put it out of her head, and she went up no more to him. The next morning, seeing no appearance of the gentleman, somebody in the house asked the servant that had showed him up stairs, what was become of him. She started; “alas, said she, ‘I never thought more of him; he bade me carry him some warm ale, but I forgot. Upon which, not the maid, but some other person was sent up to see after him, who coming into the room found him stark dead, and almost cold, stretched out across the bed. His clothes were pulled off, his jaw fallen, his eyes open in a most frightful posture, the rug of the bed being grasped hard in one of his hands; so that it was plain he died soon after the maid left him; and that it is probable, had she gone up with the ale, she had found him dead in a few minutes after he sat down upon the bed. The alarm was great in the house, as any one may suppose, they having been free from the distemper till that disaster; which bringing the infection to the house, spread it immediately to other houses round about it. I do not remember how many died in the house itself, but I think the maidservant who went up first with him, fell presently ill by the fright, and several others; for whereas there died but two in Islington of the plague the week before, there died seventeen the week after, whereof fourteen were of the plague. This was in the week from the 11th of July to the 18th.” The History of the Plague, by Defoe.
The RED BULL was the sign of another of the inn-playhouses in Shakespeare's time; but, like the Fortune, mostly frequented by the meaner sorts of people. It was situated in Woodbridge Street, Clerkenwell, (its site is still called Red Bull Yard) and is supposed to have been erected in the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign. At all events, it was one of the seventeen playhouses that arose in London between that period and the reign of Charles I. Edward Alleyn the actor, founder of Dulwich College, says in a memorandum, Oct. 3, 1617, “went to the Red Bull and received for the ‘Younger Brother' [a play], but 3.3-6-4.” Killigrew's troop of the king's players performed in it until the theatre in Lincoln’s-Inn-fields opened. The place was then abandoned to exhibitions of gladiators and feats of strength. The names of the principal theatres at the time of the Commonwealth occur in the following puritanical curse —
That the Globe
Wherein (quoth he) reigns a whole world of vice,
Had been consumed, the Phenix burnt to ashes,
The Fortune whipp'd for a blind–Blackfriars,
He wonders how it 'scaped demolishing
I the time of Reformation; lastly he wished
The Bull might cross the Thames to the Bear-gardens,
And there be soundly baited.” +
The BULL's HEAD is often seen instead of the Bull; its origin may be from the butchers' arms, which are azure two axes salterwise, arg between two roses arg. as many bulls' heads couped of the second attired or, &c.; in Holland a carved bull's head is always a leather-seller's sign. At the BULL's HEAD, in market, the artists' club used to meet, of which Hogarth was a member, and Dr Ratcliffe a constant visitor. The Bull's Head was already used in signs three hundred years ago, as we may see from an entry in Machyn's Diary, which does not say much for the morality of the period:—
“The xij day of June (1560) dydryd in a care" abowt London ij men and iij women; one man, for he was the bowd and to brynge women unto strangers; and on women was the wyff of the Bell in Gracyous Strett; and a nodur the wyff of the Bull-hed besyd London Stone, and boyth were bawdes and hores and the thodur man and the woman were brodur and syster and wher taken nakyd together.”
As a variation, on the Bull's Head there is the COW'S FACE –
" GEORGE TURNIDGE, aged about 16, a short thickset Lad with a little dark brown Hair, a scar in his left cheek under his eye, wears a canvass jacket lined with red and canvass Breeches, with a red cap, run away from his Master the 7th instant. Whoever secures him and gives Notice to Mr Henry Davis, Waxchandler at the Cow's Face in Miles Lane in Canon Street, shall have a Guinea Reward, and reasonable charges.” —London Gazette, Jan. 13–17, 1697.
The BULL's NECK is a sign at Penny Hill, Holbeach, and the BUFFALO HEAD is common in many places. The latter was the sign of one of the coffee-houses near the Exchange, during the South Sea bubble, and was hung up over the head quarters of a company for a grand dispensary, capital £3,000,000. The rage for joint-stock companies had come to such a pitch at that period, that an advertisement appeared stating :
“THIS DAY the 8th instant at Sam's Coffeehouse behind the Royal Exchange, at three in the afternoon, a book will be opened, for entering into a joint copartnership for carrying on a thing that will turn to the advantage of those concerned.”
Not less than £28,000,000 were asked for at that period to enter
upon various speculations. At the Buffalo Head Tavern, Charing Cross, Duncan
Campbell, the deaf and dumb fortune-teller, used at one time to deliver his
oracles. He is immortalised in the Spectator, No. 474, where, in answer to the
letter of a lady inquiring about Duncan's address, a note is entered, “That the
Inspector I employ about Wonders, inquire at the Golden Lyon, opposite the Halfmoon
Tavern, Drury Lane, into the merit of this silent sage.”
Among the combinations in which the Bull is met with on signboards, the BULL AND DOG is one of the most common, derived, like the Bull and Chain, from the favourite sport of bull-baiting, which amusement is described at full length and in brilliant colours by Misson, in his “Travels.” A comical variation of this is the BULL AND BITCH at Husborn Crawley, Woburn. In the sign of the BULL AND BUTCHER, the bull is placed in still worse company; this was very forcibly expressed on the sign of a butcher in Amsterdam, who was represented with a glass of wine in his hand, standing between two calves, and pledging them with the cruel words,
Soo lang gy erzyt.”:
“Be happy while you live.”
The BULL AND MAGPIE, which occurs at Boston, has been explained as meaning the
Pie, [greek], and the Bull of the Romish Church; but this looks very like a
cock-and-bull story. As “some help to thicken other proofs that also demonstrate
thinly,” as Iago has it, it may be asked whether this might not have arisen out
of the sign of the “Pied Bull,” thus leading to the “Pie and Bull,” or the “Bull
and Magpie;” the transition seems simple and easy enough; but should this not be
considered satisfactory, since we have the “Cock and Bull,” and the “Cock and
Pie,” we may by a sort of rule of three manoeuvre obtain the Bull and Pie or
Magpie. See under Bird Signs.
The BLACK BULL AND LOOKING-GLASS is named in an advertisement in the original edition of the Spectator, No. lxviii., as a house in Cornhill. It was evidently a combination of two Signs.
Still more puzzling is the BULL AND BEDPOST; but as the actual use of this sign as a house decoration remains to be corroborated, we may dismiss it with the remark, that the Bedpost, in all probability, was a jocular name for the stake to which the bull was tied when being baited, in allusion to the stout stick formerly used in bed-making to smooth the clothes in their place. The BULL AND SWAN, High Street, Stamford, may be heraldic, both these animals being badges of the York family; but the Swan in all probability was the first sign, the Bull being added on account of the singular custom of Bull Running, which yearly took place, both at Tamworth and Stamford, on St John's eve. THE BULL IN THE Pound, is the Bull punished for trespass, and put in the pound or pinfold; whilst the BULL AND OAK at Wicker, Sheffield, (at Market Bosworth there is a house with the sign of the BULL IN THE OAK) may have originated from the sign of “the Bull” being suspended from an oak tree, or referring to an oak tree standing near the house. Bulls are often tied to trees or posts in pastures, and this also may have given rise to the sign.
Visitors to the Isle of Wight will have noticed the word BUGLE frequently inscribed under the picture of a Bull on the inn signboards there. Bugle is a provincial name in those parts for a wild bull. It is an old English word, and is used by Sir John Mandeville; “hornes of grete oxen, or of bugles, or of kygn.” It was still current in the seventeenth century, for Randle Holme, 1688, classes the “Bugle, or Bubalus,” amongst “the savage beasts of the greater sort.” The horns of this animal, used as a musical instrument, gave a name to the Buglehorn. It may be remarked that the term bugle doubtless came, in old times, with other Gallicisms common to Sussex and Hampshire, from across the Channel, where the word bugle is still preserved in the verb beugler, the common French word for the lowing of cattle.
The Ox is rather uncommon; the DURHAM OX and the CRAVEN OX, two famous breeds, are sometimes met with ; then there is a CRAVEN OX HEAD, in George Street, York, and a GREY OX at Brighouse, in the West Riding. The OX AND COMPASSES at Poulton Swindon, in Cumberland, is evidently a jocular imitation of the London sign of the Goat and Compasses.
The Cow is more common; its favourite colours being RED, BROWN, WHITE, SPOTTED, SPANGLED, &c. The RED Cow occurs as a sign near Holborn Conduit, on the seventeenth century trades tokens. It also gave a name to the alehouse in Anchor and Hope Lane, Wapping, in which Lord Chancellor Jeffries was taken prisoner, disguised as a sailor, and trying to escape to the Continent after the abdication of James II. Thinking himself safe in this neighbourhood, he was looking out of the window to while the time away, when he was recognised by a clerk who bore him a grudge, and at once betrayed him. An heraldic origin is not necessary for this colour of the cow. “Cows (I mean that whole species of horned beasts) are more commonly black than Red in England. 'Tis for this reason that they have a greater value for Red Cow's Milk than for Black Cow's Milk. Whereas in France we esteem the Black Cow's Milk, because Red Cows are more common with us.”
Speaking of the Green Walk, St James's Park, Tom Brown says:
“There were a cluster of senators talking of state affairs, and the price of corn and cattle, and were disturbed with the noisy Milk folk crying: A can of Milk, Ladies; a can of Red Cow's Milk, sirs? The preference for the Red Cow's milk may, however, have a more remote origin, namely, from the ordinance of the law contained in Numbers xix. 2, where a red heifer is enjoined to be sacrificed as a purification for sin. Hence, Red Cow's milk. is particularly recommended in old prescriptions and panacea, as, for instance, in the following receipt of “a Cock water for a Consumption and Cough of the Lunges:”—
“Take a running cock and pull him alive, then kill him and cutt him in pieces and take out his intralles and wipe him cleane, breake the bones, then put him into an ordinary still with a pottle of sack and a pottle of Red Cow's Milk,” &c., &c.:
The Red Cow, in Bow
Street, was the sign of a noted tavern, (afterwards called the Red Rose) which
stood at the corner of Rose Alley. It was when going home from this tavern that
Dryden was cudgelled by bravoes, hired by Lord Rochester, for some remarks in
Lord Mulgrave's Essay on Satire, in the composition of which Dryden had assisted
his lordship. The king offered £50, and a free pardon, but “Black Will with a
cudgel,” to whom Lord Rochester had intrusted the task of thrashing the
laureate, showed that there was such a thing as honour amongst rogues, and did
not betray him for the king's £50. In all probability, however, he received a
larger sum from his lordship. In Dryden's old age, Pope, then a boy, came here
to look at the great man whose fame in after years he was to equal if not to
eclipse. This tavern was the famous mart for libels and lampoons; one Julyan, a
drunken dissipated “secretary to the Muses,” as he calls himself, was the chief
manufacturer. Near Marlborough, Wilts, there is an alehouse having the sign of
the RED Cow, with the following rhyme:—
" The Red Cow
Gives good Milk now."
That under a BROWN Cow at Oldham is still more sublime:–
“This Cow gives such Liquor,
'Twould puzzle a Viccar (sic.)”
The Heifer is to be met with sometimes in Yorkshire, but always with some local adjective, as the CRAVEN HEIFER; the AIRESDALE HEIFER, the DURHAM HEIFER, &c. The PIED CALF at Spalding seems to present a solitary instance of a calf on the signboard. Neither are sheep very common; the RAM was a noted carrier's inn in the seventeenth century, in West Smithfield, and, indeed, continued as such until the recent destruction of this old cattle market. The crest of the cloth-workers was a mount vert, thereon a ram statant; so that this sign in that locality was very well chosen, being in honour of the cattle-dealers on ordinary occasions, and serving for the cloth-workers in the time of Bartholomew fair, for whose benefit the fair was founded. In 1668 there were two RAM's HEAD inns in Fenchurch Street; one of them was a carriers' inn for the Essex people. The RAM's SKIN, which occurs at Spalding in Lincolnshire, is another name for the Fleece. The BLACK TUP figures on a sign near Rochdale, perhaps in allusion to the black ram frail matrons used to bestride in the old custom of Free Bench, thus related in Jacob’s “Law Dictionary:”—
“In the manors of East and West-Enbourne in the Co. of Berks, and the manor of Torre in Devonshire, and other parts of the West of England, there is a custom, that when a Copyhold Tenant dies his widow shall have ‘Free Bench” in all his customary lands “dum sola et casta fuerit, but if she commits incontinency she forfeits her estate. Yet nevertheless on her coming into the court of the manor, riding backwards on a black ram with his tail in her hand and saying the words following, the steward is bound by the custom to readmit her to her free bench; The words are these :— Here I am Riding upon a Black Ram Like a w—e as I am; And for my crincum crancum I have lost my bincum bancum;
And for my T 's game
Have done this worldly shame,
Therefore pray, Mr Steward, let me have my land again.
This is a kind of penance among jocular tenures to purge the offence.” Though the ram is rarely, and the sheep never seen on the signboard, the LAMB is not uncommon. In 1586, it was the sign of Abraham Veale, (agreeably to the punning practices of the time, one would have expected the Calf from him,) a bookseller in St Paul's Churchyard, and in 1728 of Thomas Cox, also a bookseller, under the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. Doubtless, these signs had originally represented the Lamb with the flag of the Apocalypse. The sign was used by other trades: in 1673, it was the distinctive ornament of a confectioner at the lower end of Gracechurch Street;" and an instance of an alehouse is found in the following advertisement, which at the same time affords us a peep at the homely proceedings of the Admiralty in those days:—
“THIS is to give notice to the Officers and Company of His Majesty's Frigate Boreas, who were on Board her at the taking the Ship Vrow Jacoba and Briggantyne Leon, that they will be paid their respective Shares of said Prizes, on Wednesday the Eight of April next, at the sign of the Lamb, in Abchurch Lane. Paying will begin at Eight o'clock of the forenoon of the said Day.”
Think of that, ye clerks in Her Majesty's offices, eight o'clock in the forenoon
A few combinations also occur, as the LAMB AND BREECHES, the sign of Churches & Christie, leather-sellers and breeches makers, on London Bridge, in the last century; this was a sign like that of the HAT AND BEAVER, in which the living animal, and the article manufactured from its skin, were juxtaposed. The LAMB AND CROWN was a sort of colonial or emigration office in Threadneedle Street, near the Southsea House in 1759: At the present day there is a LAMB AND LARK at Keynsham, Bath, and in Printing House Lane, Blackfriars. It is a typical representation of the proverb, “Go to bed with the Lamb and rise with the Lark.”
The LAMB AND HARE figure together in Portsmouth Place, Lower Kennington Lane. The LAMB AND STILL is a combination intimating the sale of distilled waters. It was the sign of a house in Compton Street, in 1711, which had the honour to lodge Mr Fert, a dancing-master, and author of a work called “A Discourse or Explanation of the ground of Dancing.”
If we except the heraldic Blue Boar, and the Sow and Pigs, we shall find no other pigs on the signboard but the PIG AND WHISTLE, the LITTLE PIG at Amblecote, Stourbridge, and the HOG IN THE Pound in Oxford Street, jocularly called the gentleman in trouble. This latter was formerly a starting point for coaches, and became notorious through the crime committed by its landlady, Catherine Hayes. Having formed an illicit connexion, she was induced by her paramour to murder her husband, after which she cut off his head, put it in a bag, and threw it in the Thames. It floated ashore, and was put on a pole in St Margaret's Churchyard, Westminster, in order that it might be recognised; and by this primitive means the murderess was detected. The man was hanged, and Catherine burnt alive at Tyburn in 1726.
The GOAT is not very common; there was a Goat Inn at Hammersmith, taken down in 1826, and rebuilt under the name of Suspension Bridge Inn; up to that time, the sign, and the woodwork from which it was suspended, used to extend across the street. The GOAT IN BOOTS, on the Fulham Road, was in old times called simply “the Goat.” Besides these, there is a BLACK GOAT in Lincoln, and a GREY GOAT in Penrith and Carlisle, and a few others without addition of colour.
A walk through town on a fine Sunday morning will at once convince anybody of the good understanding that exists between the Englishmen and the canine species, “l'ami de l'homme” as Buffon calls the dog. From every lane and alley in the lower parts of the town sally forth men and youths in clean moleskins and corduroys, each invariably accompanied by some yelping cur, the least of whose faults is to be ugly. It is no wonder, then, that the DOG should be of frequent occurrence on the signboard. Pepys mentions a tavern of that name in Westminster, where, about the time of the Restoration, he used occasionally to show his merry face. In 1768, the author of the “Art of Living in London,” recommended the Dog in Holywell Street for a quiet good dinner:—
“Where disencumbered of all form or show,
We to a moment might or sit or go;
Eat what the palate recommends us hot,
Yet not considered as a useless guest.”
For some unknown reason, the BLACK Dog seems the greatest favourite; perhaps the
English terrier is meant by it, a dog who “once had its day,” as the Scotch
terrier appears to have it now. In the seventeenth century, there was a
Black DogTavern near Newgate; a house of old standing, of which trades tokens are
Mr Akerman, in his work on “Trades Tokens issued between 1648–1672,” makes a mistake in surmising that Luke Hutton’s “Black Dog of Newgate” had anything to do with this tavern. That poem is simply against “coney-catchers,” i.e., roguish detectives or informers of the Jonathan Wild stamp, and even worse. Such a one is impersonificated under the name of the Black Dog of Newgate, because the coney-catchers used to hunt people down threatening them with Newgate. This Black Dog may have derived its name from the canine spectre that still frightens the ignorant and fearful in our rural districts, just as the terrible Dun Cow, and the Lambton Worm were the terror of the people in old times. Near Lyme Regis, Dorset, there is an alehouse which has this black fiend in all his ancient ugliness painted over the door. Its adoption there arose from a legend that the spectral black dog used to haunt at nights the kitchen fire of a neighbouring farm-house, formerly a Royalist mansion, destroyed by Cromwell's troops. The dog would sit opposite the farmer; but one night, a little extra liquor gave the man additional courage, and he struck at the dog, intending to rid himself of the horrid thing. Away, however, flew the dog and the farmer after him, from one room to another, until it sprang through the roof, and was seen no more that night. In mending the hole, a lot of money fell down, which, of course, was connected in some way or other with the dog's strange visit. Near the house is a lane still called Dog Lane, which is now the favourite walk of the black dog, and to this genius loci the sign is dedicated.
There was another notorious Black Dog next door to the Devil Tavern, the shop of Abel Roper, who printed and distributed the majority of the pamphlets and ballads that paved the way for the Revolution of 1688. He was the original printer of the famous ballad of “Lillibulero.” Whatever pleased the public, whether good or bad, he was always ready to provide and send into the world; he was also the editor of the newspaper called the Postman. In the beginning of the reign of Charles II, he lived “at the Sun, over against St Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street.”
Tokens are extant of the PIED DOG in Seething Lane, 1667, a sign still frequently to be seen at the present day.
We very rarely meet with the BLUE Dog, but there is an example in Grantham, and the sign occurs in a few other places.
Sometimes a peculiar breed is chosen, as the SETTER DOG at Redford, Notts; the POINTER at Peckfield, Milford Junction; the BEAGLE at Shute, Axminster, and the MERRY HARRIERs, common in hunting counties. Equally common is the GREYHOUND, particularly in the North country, where coursing has long been a favourite sport. In the seventeenth century, it was the sign of a fashionable tavern in London, for in a sprightly ballad in the Roxburgh collection," a young gallant is introduced who is going to forsake his evil courses and turn over a new leaf. He gives a last farewell to all his doxies :
“Farewell unto black patches,
And farewell powder'd locks;”
and remembers all those delightfully wicked places he used to haunt formerly, and amongst them :
“Farewell unto the GREYHOUND,
And farewell to the Bell,
And farewell to my landlady,
Whom I do love so well.”
This was probably the same Greyhound mentioned by Machyn, which seems to have been situated in Fleet Street, where the gaudily dressed Spanish ambassador took his stirrup-cup before leaving London. The same author mentions the sign elsewhere, apparently in Westminster; and the little picture of manners which accompanies it is rather curious — .
" The viij day of January (1557) dyd ryd in a care in Westmynster the wyff of the Grayhound, and the Abbot's servand was wypyd [whipped] becawse that he toke her owt of the car, at the care h — e, [the back of the cart.] "
—another example that the course of true love never does run smooth, even though it runs upon wheels.
The WHITE GREYHOUND was the sign of John Harrison, in St Paul's Churchyard, a bookseller who published some of Shakespeare's early works, as “The Rape of Lucrece,” “Venus and Adonis,” &c. White greyhounds, or rather silver greyhounds, were, until eighty years ago, the badges worn on the arm by king's messengers.
The sign of the BLACK GREYHOUND is also of frequent occurrence, and at Grantham there is a BLUE GREYHOUND. Indeed, although Lincoln was formerly famous for green, it seems also to have taken a great fancy to blue, for there we find the BLUE BULL and the BLUE COW, the BLUE DOG, the BLUE FOX, (all in Colsterworth) besides the BLUE PIG, the BLUE RAM, in Grantham, which town can also boast of the unique sign of the BLUE MAN.
The TALBOT-old and now almost obsolete term for a large kind of hunting dog—has acquired a literary celebrity from having been substituted for the old sign of the Tabard Inn in Southwark, whence the pilgrims started on their merry journey to Canterbury. In 1606, we find the Talbot the sign of Thomas Man, bookseller in Paternoster Row, which, however, at that time, was not such a book market as now, being occupied by “eminent mercers, silkmen, and lacemen; and their shops were so resorted unto by the nobility and gentry in their coaches, that oft times the street was so stopped up, that there was no passage for foot passengers.” So it continued until the fire; and it was only in the middle of the last century that the booksellers began to make their appearance in it. A Talbot Inn in the Strand is mentioned in the following very quaint advertisement —
TO BE SOLD, a fine Grey Mare, full fifteen hands high, gone after the hounds many times, rising six years and no more; moves as well as most creatures upon earth, as good a road mare as any in 10 counties and 10 to that; trots at a confounded pace; is from the country, and her owner will sell her for nine guineas; if some folks had her she would fetch near three times the money. I have no acquaintance, and money I want, and a service in a shop to carry parcels or to be in a gentleman's service. My father gave me the mare to get rid of me, and to try my fortune in London, and I am just come from Shropshire, and I can be recommended, as I suppose nobody takes servants without, and have a voucher for my mare. Enquire for me at the Talbot Inn near the New Church at the£,
At the foot of Burdley’s Hill, Gloucester, there is a Talbot Inn, which has a sign painted with two inscriptions; at the side where the road is level, it says:—
“Before you do this hill go up,
Stop and drink a cheerful cup.”
On the side of the hill it says:
“You’re down the hill, all danger's past,
Stop and drink a cheerful glass.”
A publican at Odell has chosen the MAD DOG for a sign, evidently his beau ideal of a “jolly fellow,” one having a great horror for water; another at Pidley, Hunts, not to be behindhand with the Mad Dog, has put up the MAD CAT. We have as odd and apparently as unmeaning a sign in Tabernacle Walk, namely, the BARKING DOGS. All the combinations of the sign of the Dog point towards sports, as the DOG AND BEAR, which was very common in the seventeenth century, when bear-baiting was in fashion, and kings and queens countenanced it by their presence. The DOG AND DUCK refers to another barbarous pastime, when ducks were hunted in a pond by spaniels. The pleasure consisted in seeing the duck make her escape from the dog's mouth by diving. It was much practised in the neighbourhood of London till the beginning of this century, when it went out of fashion, as most of the ponds were gradually built over. One of the most notorious DOG AND DUCK Taverns stood in St George's Fields, where Bethlem Hospital now stands; it had a long room with tables and benches, and an organ” at the upper end. In its last days it was frequented only by thieves, prostitutes, and other low characters. After a long and wicked existence it was at length put down by the magistrates. In the seventeenth century it was famous for springs, but already in Garrick's time its reputation was very equivocal :
“St George's Fields, with taste and fashion struck,
Display Arcadia at the Dog and Duck,
And Drury Misses, here in tawdry pride,
Are there “Pastoras” by the fountain side;
To frowsy bowers they reel through midnight damps,
With Fauns half drunk and Dryads breaking lamps.”
In an unpublished paper from the MS.
collection of William Hone, we have a mention of it :
“It was a very small public-house till Hedger's mother took it, who had been a barmaid to a tavern-keeper in London, who left this house to her at his death. Her son Hedger then was a postboy to a yard I believe at Epsom, and came to be master there. After making a good deal of money he left the house to his nephew, one Miles, (though it still went in Hedger's name,) who was to allow him £1000 per annum out of the profits, and it was he that allowed the house to acquire so bad a character that the licence was taken away. I have this from one William Nelson who was servant to old Mrs Hedger, and remembers the house before he had it. He is now  in the employ of the Lamb Street Water Works Company, and has been for thirty years. In particular, there never was any duck hunting since he knew the Gardens. Therefore, if ever, it must have been in a very early time indeed. Hedger, I am told, was the first person who sold the mineral water, (whence the St George's Spa.) In 1787, when Hedger applied for a renewal of his licence, the magistrates of Surrey refused, and the Lord Mayor came into Southwark and held a court and granted the licence, in despite of the magistrates, which occasioned a great disturbance and litigation in the law courts.”
The old stone sign is still preserved, embedded in the brick wall of the garden of Bethlehem Hospital, visible from the road, and representing a dog squatted on his haunches, with a duck in his mouth, and the date 1617.
Another famous Dog and Duck inn formerly stood on the site of Hertford Street, in the now aristocratic precincts of May Fair. It was an old-fashioned wooden public-house, extensively patronised by the butchers and other rough characters during May Fair time. The pond in which the cruel sport took place was situated behind the house, and for the benefit of the spectators was boarded round to the height of the knee, to preserve the overexcited spectators from involuntary immersions. The pond was surrounded by a gravel walk shaded with willow trees.
THE DOG AND BADGER, Kingswood, Gloucester, refers to the now obsolete sport of badger-baiting. More genial sports, however, are called to mind by the DOG AND GUN, DOG AND PARTRIDGE, DOG AND PHEASANT, all of which are very common.
“As I was going through a street of London, where I never had been till then, I felt a general clamp and faintness all over me, which I could not tell how to account for, till I chanced to cast my eyes upwards and found that I was passing under a signpost on which the picture of a cat was hung.” This little incident of the cat-hater, told in No. 538 of the Spectator, is a proof of the presence of cats on the signboard, where, indeed, they are still to be met with, but very rarely. There is a sign of the CAT at Egremont, in Cumberland, a BLACK CAT at St Leonard's Gate, Lancaster, and a RED CAT at Birkenhead. There is also a sign of the Red Cat in the Hague, Holland, and “thereby hangs a tale.” It was put up by a certain Bertrand, a Frenchman, who had left his native country, having been mixed up in some conspiracy against Mazarin. Arrived at the Hague, he opened a cutler's shop, and put up a double sign, representing on the one side a red cat, on the other a portrait of his Eminence Cardinal Mazarin in his red gown, and with his bristling moustache : underneath he wrote “aux deux méchantes bêtes,” (the two obnoxious animals. Holland, however, was at peace with France at that time, and so the Burgomaster, afraid of offending the French ambassador, requested Bertrand to alter his sign. Mazarin's face was then painted out and another red cat put in its place. Gradually as the first sign was forgotten, the name became unmeaning, and was finally altered into the Red Cat, and in this shape it has come down to the present day, still the sign of a cutler, and a descendant of Bertrand.
The CAT AND LION, which we meet with sometimes, as at
Stockport, was probably at one time the Tiger and Lion. It is occasionally
accompanied by the following elegant distich:—
“The lion is strong, the cat is vicious,
My ale is strong, and so is my liquors.”
The CAT AND PARROT was, in 1612, the sign of Thomas Pauer, a bookseller, dwelling near the Royal Exchange. At Santry, near Dublin, and in some other places, we meet with the CAT AND CAGE, which is represented by a cat trying to pull a bird out of a cage; but its origin may be found in the CAT IN THE BASKET, a favourite sign of the booths on the Thames when that river was frozen over in 17#. The sign was a living one, a basket hanging outside the booth, with a cat in it. It was revived when the river was again frozen in 1789, and seems to have had many imitators, for on a print representing a view of the river at Rotherithe during the frost, there is a booth with a merry company within, whose sign, inscribed the Original CAT IN THE CAGE, represents poor Tabby in a basket. This sign of the Cat in the Basket, or in the Cage, doubtless originated from tne cruel game, once practised by our ancestors, of shooting at a cat in a basket. Brand, in his “Popular Superstitions,” gives a quotation, from which it appears that a similar cruel sport was still practised at Kelso in 1789; but instead of shooting at the cat, it was placed in a barrel, the bottom of which had to be beaten out. The same game is still practised in Holland, and generally, if not always, on the ice.