Hackney Road, London, E2. Photo © Roger Dean 2010
The Little World of London – by Charles Manby Smith, 1857:
In some tranquil cul-de-sac of a street, perhaps abutting on the river, or ending in some wilderness of building-ground, one comes occasionally upon a wandering company of acrobats, conjurors, or jugglers, or all three united. They are dressed from head to foot in a light-fitting cotton suit, displaying their perfect symmetry of form they may be five or six in company, but there is no fool or clown, no nonsense, as they would say, about them.
He [the conjuror] flourishes an old silk handkerchief, holding it at one corner, and drawing it through his left hand, fast clenched, a dozen times in a minute. “What will you have, ladies each gentlemen?” he asks. “Did you say eggs?”- and incontinently the passage of the handkerchief through his clenched hand is stopped by three or four eggs in succession, which are carefully taken out and laid on the drum. “Did you say a pint pot?”- and immediately the silk, which an instant before was waving loose in the air is seen to contain a pewter pot, which also is taken out and laid with the eggs. “Did you say rabbit pie?” – and the next moment a live rabbit is struggling in the folds of the handkerchief, and has to be let loose.
[The rabbit in the photo is the work of Belgian street artist ROA. This rather fetching study of native wildlife is currently under threat from Hackney Council’s ‘no tolerance’ anti-vandalism policy. The details may be found here . Hackney Council have form in this particular kind of anti-art. For more of ROA’s work see post 230.R.D.]