Back to Top

Tag Archives: Life in London

“All the town’s a slide,
And all the men and women merely skaters,”

rhymes PUNCH in 1850 (with a nod towards the Bard), and indeed, 19th-century Londoners were keen skaters: when during a strong frost in January 1850 all the ornamental lakes in the parks of London froze, people turned out in their thousands to slide or skate along the ice. THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS talks of 12,000 people assembling in St. James’s Park alone to enjoy the wintry spell.

The Serpentine in Hyde Park was another favorite with skaters, and one of Richard Doyle’s illustration from “Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe” depicts the crush.

The Serpentyne durying a hard frosteApart from the bodies of water, the streets themselves often froze over, no doubt helped along by the many child workers out and about, who, PUNCH suggests, took joy in turning the main thoroughfares of London into giant slides:

Skating in Fleet StreetBut of course, Mr. Punch has already come up with a brilliant solution to this particular problem: “As slides in public thoroughfares, during the frost, are now ‘great facts,’ which the police officially recognise, there is only one thing to be desired, namely, that some little order should be observed on the foot-pavements, so as to make a slide a convenient  and rapid mode of transit. […] By the present system, under which slides are merely tolerated, and are only partially carried out, some of the public who are unprepared for them, keep tumbling about in a very awkward manner. A well-regulated routine of slides, under the control of the police, would be an understood accommodation for all, and order could easily be preserved by sending policemen up and down each series of slides at proper intervals.” 🙂

After all, tumbling about is not nice, as some of the PUNCH contributors know only too well: this little initial letter is “drawn from experience”:

What about your town? Has winter already come to where you live? (Frankfurt turned into a Winter Wonderland on Sunday, and we’ll probably get more snow toward the weekend.)

In looking for material I discovered there have been multiple “Tom and Jerrys” over time. Most of us know about the cat and mouse cartoon—probably the first in our awareness. I was looking for information on the Regency cartoonist who drew the “Tom and Jerry” young buck hellraisers. So far I have discovered yet another Tom and Jerry, published in 1932.“Tom and Jerry” was also the original stage name used by Simon and Garfunkel in 1957, and it is also a drink consisting of a beaten egg, Jamaican rum, brandy, powdered sugar, boiling water, and nutmeg. It has been used as the name of a folk/fiddle tune, restaurant(s), and likely many other things, it seems at least.

But the Tom and Jerry I was looking for were British cartoons published in London by R. Ackerman between 1815 and 1821. They were done by Pierce Egan, a chronicler of London low life during the Regency period, in a series called . Life in London, or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom. “Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn” were the characters he used to show the antics of certain rich young bucks causing mischief. They were two young men with a propensity for enjoying themselves and having “adventures.” I think I might call them “rakehells.”

Tom and Jerry and Corinthian Kate

As with fashion prints, you can find Tom and Jerry prints for sale. I first made their acquaintance on…where else…Ebay.

If you would like to see a nice collection of these prints, go to this site. Kauai Fine Prints is a reseller of old prints, and luckily has a selection of “Life in London” on display. Also, you can view Mr. Egan’s cartoons featuring his “Doctor Syntax” character as well.


Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By