Thus it will be seen that great strides had been made in vegetable-culture. In some things, however, gardeners still had very primitive ideas. When, in 1729, an aloe (Agave) flowered in " Mr. Cowell's garden at Hoxton," there was great excitement as to how it should be kept through the winter.† The plant was then twenty feet high, and an erection of wood and glass was built over it, and stoves placed outside with pipes to "convey a due proportion of heat," and it was so arranged that the structure could be heightened, if necessary, to suit the " unexpected growth of this famous plant." They must have been much distressed to find all this care and expense of little use, as not only the flower, but most of the plant itself would soon perish.
A great many of the vegetables, grown in these market gardens, would be sold in the streets of London. The various cries of the hawkers were a notable feature of London life. One among the many refrains of this perpetual chorus is recalled by Addison,‡ when he writes:—" I am always pleased with that particular time of the year which is proper for the pickling of dill and cucumbers, but alas ! this cry, like the song of the nightingale, is not heard above two months." Some of the best-known cries are preserved in an old ballad of early, but uncertain date, from which the following is an extract* :—
* Kalm's Visit to England. Translated by Joseph Lucas, 1892.
† A True Account of Aloe Aloe Americana or Africana now in flower in Mr. Cowell's Garden at Hoxton. . . . The like wherof has never been seen in England before. 1729.
‡ Spectator, 251.
* " Roxburghe Ballads," 1560-1700. History of the Cries of London. Charles Hindley. 2nd ed., 1884.
" Here's fine rosemary, sage and thyme Come buy my ground ivy. Here fatherfew; gilliflowers and rue Come buy my knotted marjorum ho! Come buy my mint my fine green mint Here's fine lavender for your cloaths Here's parseley and winter savory And heart's-ease which all do choose Here's balm and hissop and cinque foil All fine herbs it is well known Let none despise the merry merry cries Of Famous London Town.
" Here's penny royal and marygolds Come buy my nettle-tops Here's water-cresses and scurvy-grass Come buy my sage of virtue ho! Come buy my wormwood and mugwort Here's all fine herbs of every sort Here's southern wood that's very good Dandelion and houseleek Here's dragon's-tongue and wood sorrel With bear's-foot and horehound Let none despise the merry merry cries Of Famous London Town.
" Here's green coleworts and brocoli Come buy my radishes Here's fine savorys and ripe hautboys Come buy my young green hastings ho! Come buy my beans right Windsor beans Two pence a bunch young carrots ho ! Here's fine nosegays ripe strawberries With ready pickled salad also Here's collyflowers and asparagus New prunes twopence a pound Let none despise the merry merry cries Of Famous London Town.
" Here's cucumbers spinage and frinch beans Come buy my nice sallery Here's parsnips and fine leeks Come buy my potatoes ho ! Come buy my plumbs and fine ripe plumbs A groat a pound ripe filberts ho ! Here's corn-poppies and mulberries Goose berries and currants also Fine nectarines peaches and apricots New rice two pence a pound Let none despise the merry merry cries Of Famous London Town".