Herr Moritz Gives Advice for Visitors

Another anecdote from Carl Philip Moritz’s Journal of 1782:

“A foreigner has nothing to fear from the Press Gang provided he keeps away from suspicious places. Standing on dry land on Tower Hill, near the Tower of London is a ship complete with masts and rigging. This is no more than an ingenious device for catching unwary visitors. Simple people who stand and stare at it – some of whom come from the country districts – are approached by a man who offers for a trifle to show them round the ship and explain it to them. But as soon as they are aboard they are trapped and, according to their circumstances, are either released or pressed for service as sailors.

A stranger, however, appreciates then sidewalks made of broad stones, running down both sides of the streets, whereon he is as safe from the terrifying rush of carts and coaches as if he were in his own room; for no wheel dares to encroach even a finger’s breadth upon the footpath. Politeness requires that a lady, or other person to whom one wishes to show expect, should not always walk on one’s right, as is our custom, but should walk on the side nearest to the wall, whether this be right or left, as this position is regarded as safer.

….Especially in The Strand, where one shop jostles another and people of very different trades often live in the same house, it is surprising to see how from bottom to top the various houses often display large signboards with painted letters. Everyone who lives and works in the house sports his signboard over the door; indeed, there is not a cobbler whose name and trade is not to be read in large golden characters.

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