The London Guide and Stranger’s Safeguard against the Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets (1819)

The London Guide and Stranger’s Safeguard against the Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets (1819), written by “a gentleman who has made the police of the metropolis an object of enquiry twenty-two years”, will keep the American abroad safe and sound. Chapters, of which the book has six, are sub-divided into sections that should have any reader of ambition and vim reaching for their passport and heading to the sink of depravity post haste.

CHAPTER I. Out Door Delinquencies: Inn Yards and Coaches 1. Hangers on 8. Hackney men 10. Smashing- 13. Of Walking the Streets 14. Picking Pockets 17. Crowds 18. Gangs 19. Resorts 20. Stagging 21. Manners 23. Violence 27. Women 28. Boys 31. Of Hustling 32. Footpads 34. Tripping up 35. Falling down 37. Running 42. Call 44. Of Highwaymen 46. Arms 48.

CHAPTER II. Inn Door Tricks: Sharpers 48. Wagering Kiddies 49. Cards 53. Low Games 54. High Games 60. Greeks and Legs 61. Do’s 62. Plucking 64. Money-Droppers 69. Ring-Droppeis 71, Kidnappers, False Accusers, Trappers and Crimps 7P. Subornation 77. Pretended Officers 78. Of Searching 80. Smuggling 82. Informers 83. Smuggled Articles 86 Private Stills 88. Duffers 91. Jobbers 95. Barkers 98. Mock Auctions 99.

CHAPTER III. Miscellaneous Offences: Perambulating the Streets 102. Stall Keepers 104. Clothes Shops 105. Street Pilferers 105. Prowlers 108. Dodgers 110. Prostitutes 114. Wiles 116. Fags 120. Fancy men 121. Bon Ton 22. Bnilly 26. Force 127. Midnight Beggars 130. Box Lobby 136. Lnie 137. Beggars 140. Bold ones 141. Sneaks 142. Excursion 144.

CHAPTER IV. House-Breakers 146: Preventives 148. Arms 149. Jack 152. Murders 155. Defence 158. Shop- windows 160. Shop-lifters 162. Women 164. Heavy Goods 167. Smashers 72. Forgeries 74.

CHAPTER V. Minor Cheats 174: Pretenders to Literature 175. Muck Parsons1 76. Pretended Doctors 179. Lawyers 181. Obtaining money 185. Costermongers 189. Register Offices 190. Lotteries and Goes 193. Game Publicans 196. Brewer and Distiller 200. Sycophants 203. Spongers 207. Swindlers 209. Reputation 2.2. Banks 2.7. Receivers 223.

CHAPTER VI, Of Conspirators and Informers 227.

The book also features a handy glossary of key vocabulary (two pages of which are featured below).

The Introduction begins:

When a stranger first arrives in this overgrown city and finds upon alighting at the inn, that he has still some miles perhaps to go before he can see his friends he is naturally anxious for advice how to reach them in safety, with his luggage. But if this be the ease with those who have got friends, what is the dread of such as have a home to seek, business to look after, or place of service to obtain, without a friend to guide their steps, or a candid person to warn them of their danger; to tell them of the precipices, pit falls, and moral turpitude, of a large proportion of the population of this great metropolis? To supply the place of a living friend, and in some cases to perform the necessary part of one, by directing the stranger in the choice of companions, and what characters he should avoid, I have compiled these sheets; in which will be found “all I know about the matter,” and all I could “learn out” by “fine-drawing” of others.

Was London so terrible a place? The proles might have been revolting, but England was cursed with a feckless, dissolute royal family and treacherous government.

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King; Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring; Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know, But leechlike to their fainting country cling Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow. A people starved and stabbed in th’ untilled field; An army, whom liberticide and prey Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield; Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay; Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed; A senate, Time’s worst statute, unrepealed— Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

– England in 1819, by Percy Bysshe Shelley