Esoteric London

No. 820: Hewett Street, EC2

Posted in Amusements, Graffiti, London Labour, London Types by esotericlondon on April 19, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_9647 copy

Hewett Street, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

The Great Metropolis, Second Series, Volume II – James Grant, 1838:

The first impression of a stranger on entering the Stock Exchange, were he not previously otherwise informed, would naturally be, that instead of being met to transact important business, they had assembled for the express purpose of having a little fun and frolic together. […]. One of the most approved of […] tricks, if we are to judge from the extent to which it is practised, is that of knocking one’s hat down over one’s eyes. This pastime, I believe they call “eclipsing,” or “bonnetting.” If the hat only goes down so far as not to prevent altogether the use of one’s luminaries, it is, I presume, called a partial eclipse; but when the application of one’s hand to the crown of the hat is given with such vigour as to force it down over the optics of the party who chances to be at the time the person played on, it is called a total eclipse. How far it can be so called with propriety, is at least a debatable point; for I have been assured by those who have undergone the somewhat unpleasant experiment of eclipsing, that if they saw nothing else, the severity and suddenness of “the whack,” to use Stock Exchange phraseology, has made them see stars innumerable. How many crowns of “best beavers” have been so completely “knocked in,” as to render the hats ever afterwards unwearable, by means of the process of eclipsing, is, I suspect, a question which the most skilful calculator in the house would not undertake to decide. The cases from first to last of the destruction of hats in this way, must be innumerable; but the ingenuity of some of the members has discovered other means of assisting the hatters, where the eclipsing plan fails of effect. The members in question are remarkably expert at knocking the hats of other members off their heads altogether, and then kicking them about on the floor until they are shattered to pieces. So marked indeed are the hat destroying propensities of some of the members, that a stranger would come away with the impression, that they were in the pay of the leading city hat manufacturers.

One Response

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  1. Noeline Smith said, on April 21, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Could explain why the financial world is in such a mess 🙂

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