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Introduction

...a Jolly Grizzle-Pated CharonCharon: the ferryman who conveyed the spirits of the dead across the river Styx in Greek and Latin mythology. The potential elevation of subject matter and theme implied by the reference to the classical Pantheon is an irony that becomes increasingly apparent through the rest of the paragraph. handed us into his Wherry,Wherry: a light rowing boat used to carry passengers and goods. whips off his short skirted Doublet, whereon was a Badg, to shew whose Fool he was, then fixes his Stretcher,Stretcher: a piece of wood placed across a rowing boat as a foot-rest for the waterman. bids us Trim the Boat, and away he Row’d us; but we had not SwomSwom: swum, i.e., to have floated along the water in their boat. above the length of a West-Country Barge, before a Scoundrel Crew of Lambeth Gardeners attack’d us with such a Volley of saucy Nonsence, that it made my Eyes stare, my Head ake, my Tongue run, and my Ears tingle: One of them beginning with us after this manner, You couple of Treacherous Sons of Bridewell B—s,Bridewell Bitches: the reference to Bridewell Prison, a house of correction, makes the “sons of bitches” epithet even more insulting. who are Pimps to your own Mothers, StallionsStallion: whoremonger or pimp. to your Sisters, and Cock-BawdsCock-Bawd: pimp. to the rest of your Relations; Who were begot by Huffling, Spew’d up, and not Bornbegot by Huffling, Spew’d up, and not Born: “to huffle,” meaning “to blow,” carries the same meaning here as the present-day slang blow job, that is, they were conceived in the mouth and born unnaturally, spit out after the act.; and Christen’d out of a Chamber-Pot; How dare you show your Ugly Faces upon the River of Thames, and Fright the Kings Swans from holding their heads above Water? To which our Well-fed Pilot, after he had clear’d his Voice with a Hem, most manfully Reply’d, You Lousie Starv’d Crew of Worm-pickers, and Snail Catchers; You Offspring of a Dunghill, and Brothers to a Pumkin, who can’t afford Butter to your Cabbage, or Bacon to your Sprouts; You shitten Rogues, who worship the Fundament,Fundament: the anus. because you live by a Turd; who was that sent the Gardener to cut a Hundred of Sparragrass,Sparragrass: asparagus, regarded as an aphrodisiac. and dug twice in his Wives Parsley-bedParsley-Bed: a woman’s genitals. before the Goodman came back again? Hold your Tongues you KnittyKnitty: infested with nits. Radish-mongers,Worm-picker; Snail catcher; Radish-monger: worm, snail, and radish were all euphemisms for penis, though Ward’s characters could just as likely be using these terms to disparage the work of their combatants as menial, relatively unskilled labour; monger; a merchant or dealer. or I’m whet my Needle upon my A—s and sow your Lips together. (146)

This is the world of Edward Ward, the self-described “London Spy” who published his observations of the “the Vanities and Vices of the Town” (2) monthly from November 1698 to May 1700. The works of “jovial, brutal, vulgar, graphic Ned Ward”George Augustus Sala, Twice Round the Clock; or, The Hours of the Day and Night in London (London: Houlston and Wright, 1859), 13. have, perhaps not surprisingly, occupied a peripheral space in the literary canon. Just four modern editions of The London Spy have been published, and with the exception of Paul Hyland’s in 1993, these have been largely bowdlerized.The London-Spy: Compleat, in Eighteen Parts, intr. Ralph Straus (London: Published and sold by the Casanova Society, 1924); The London Spy; The Vanities and Vices of the Town Exposed to View, ed. with notes by Arthur L. Hayward (Cassell and Co. New York, George H. Doran Co., 1927); The London Spy, ed. with notes and introd. by Kenneth Fenwick (London, Folio Society, 1955); The London Spy, ed. Paul Hyland (East Lansing: Colleagues Press, 1993). As Arthur Hayward announced with apparent satisfaction in his 1927 edition, the work was “now, for the first time, published in a form suitable for general reading.” Indeed, Ward’s biographer Howard Troyer noted that as a satirist, he was “not to be taken too seriously,” and dismissed his talent as “a superficial one, essentially casual and shallow.”Ned Ward of Grubstreet (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1946), 206–7; 210. More recently Ward has been described an “unbalanced Grub Street Hack”J.P. Kenyon, Revolution Principles: The Politics of Party 1689–1720 (Cambridge University Press, 1990). and an “obscure dunce” whose “works were ‘low’ and ‘irregular.’”Gregory Columb, Designs on Truth: The Poetics of the Augustan Mock-Epic (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), 167. During Ned Ward’s own time, however, the periodical publications and subsequent two-volume reprint The London Spy Compleat (1700) were extraordinarily popular. Certainly he profited from the public’s interest in his always irreverent, frequently indecorous, and occasionally prurient tales. “All that I propose,” he wrote somewhat disingenuously in his Preface to the 1700 edition, “is, to Scourge Vice and Villany” (ii). The claim met with some scepticism, but as Ralph Straus noted in the introduction to his 1924 edition of The London Spy, its author

belonged to the people, and wrote primarily for them, and he can hardly be blamed for using a language which they understood and appreciated. And although it may be doubted whether that ‘moral purpose,’ on which Ned Ward is so often insisting in his more prosperous days as his reason for writing at all, was as important to him as he pretended, an examination of his voluminous works will be sufficient to show that for all the mud with which they are so freely besprinkled, he felt very deeply on certain matters of great social importance.“Preface,” The London-Spy Compleat, in Eighteen Parts, by Ned Ward With an Introduction by Ralph Straus (London: Published by the Caasanova Society, in Tooks Court, Cursitor Street, 1924), n.p.

More recently, Peter M. Briggs has argued that it is time to reevaluate Ward, with particular attention to his “satire and gritty realism,” and to his sincere social criticism and concerns for the marginal people of London society.Peter M. Briggs, “Satiric Strategy in Ned Ward’s London Writings,” Eighteenth-Century Life 35.2 (Spring 2011): 78. This edition of The London Spy aims to do just that, particularly by examining Ward’s relationship to the city of London, its streets and buildings, and its people.

Edward Ward (1667–1731)

The earliest biography of Edward Ward was published in 1719, a short entry in Giles Jacob’s The Poetical Register:

A very voluminous Poet, and an Imitator of the famous Butler. Of late Years he has kept a publick House in the City (but in a genteel way) and with his Wit, Humour, and good Liquor has afforded his Guests a pleasurable Entertainment; especially the High-church Party, which is compos’d of Men of his Principles, and to whom he is very much oblig’d for their constant Resort.

The “Author is best known,” the entry concludes, “by his London Spy, a famous Piece in Prose.”Giles Jacob, The poetical Register: or, the Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets. With an Account of Their Writings volume 2 (London: printed for Edmund Curll in Fleet Street, 1719), 225–6. The 1753 compilation by Robert Shiells to which Theophilus Cibber had lent his name, The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland, repeats the information with a rather less favourable characterization:

A man of low extraction, and who never received any regular education. He was an imitator of the famous Butler, and wrote his Reformation, a poem, with an aim at the same kind of humour which has so remarkably distingushed Hudibras. ‘Of late years, says Mr. Jacob, he has kept a public house in the city, but in a genteel way.’ Ward was, in his own droll manner, a violent antagonist to the Low Church Whigs, and in consequence of this, drew to his house such people as had a mind to indulge their spleen against the government, by retailing little stories of treason. He was thought to be a man of strong natural parts, and possessed a very agreeable pleasantry of temper.

Shiells notes as well that “Ward was much affronted when he read Mr. Jacob’s account, in which he mentions his keeping a public house in the city, and in a book called Apollo’s Maggot, declared this account to be a great falsity, protesting that his public house was not in the City but in Moorfields.”Robert Shiells, The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland, to the Time of Dean Swift. Compiled from Ample Materials Scattered in a Variety of Books, and Especially from the Ms. Notes of the Late Ingenious Mr. Coxeter and Others, Collected for this Design, by Mr. Cibber volume 4 (London: printed for R. Griffiths at the Dunciad in St. Paul’s Churchyard, 1753), 294.

The entry concludes, “Mr. Ward’s works, if collected, would amount to five volumes in 8vo. but he is most distinguished by his London Spy, a celebrated work in prose.”Shiells, 293–4. The London Spy was indeed popular, reprinted five times in Ward’s lifetime. He published more prolifically than his early biographers realized, however, producing over one hundred satires in prose and verse, many of which were reprinted both singly and in collections of his writings. His most indelible reputation well into the nineteenth century seems to have been his supposed lack of education. David Erskine Baker recounts much of Shiells’ summary verbatim in his 1764 Companion to the Play-house, with the embellishment that Ward was “almost destitute of Education,”David Erskine Baker, The Companion to the Play-house: or, an Historical Account of all the Dramatic Writers (and Their Works) That Have Appeared in Great Britain and Ireland, From the Commencement of Our Theatrical Exhibitions, Down to the Present Year 1764 volume 1 (London: printed for T. Becket and P.A. Dehondt in the Strand; C. Henderson at the Royal Exchange; and T. Davies in Russell Street, Covent Garden, 1764), n.p. and George Atherton Aitken repeats Giles’ summation of Ward as a man of “‘low extraction’ and with little education” in the Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900).George Atherton Aitken, “Ward, Edward (1667–1731),” The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) (Smith, Elder & Co., 1885–1900), 314.

According to Ward himself, his father was born in Leicester and his ancestors there enjoyed great prosperity.Edward Ward, “The Epistle Dedicatory,” Nuptial Dialogues and Debates: or, An Useful Prospect of the Felicities and Discomforts of a Marry’d Life, Incident to All Degrees, from the Throne to the Cottage. Containing Many great Examples of Love, Piety, Prudence, Justice, and all the excellent Vertues that Largely Contribute to the True Happiness of Wedlock (London: printed by H. Meere, for T. Norris at the Looking Glass, and A. Bettesworth at the Red Lion, both on London Bridge, 1710), n.p. Of his education little is known, but Ward writes elsewhere of his gratitude toward an anonymous patron, whom he deems a True English Gentleman, for “the Benefits I have receiv’d in my greener Years, from your most worthy Family.” In particular, he acknowledges “the indissoluble Obligations” he is under to the matriarch of the family “for the best and greatest share of my youthful Education.”Edward Ward, “The Epistle Dedicatory,” Miscellaneous Writings, in Verse and Prose, both Serious and Comical, Containing, Twenty One Excellent Poems upon Very Diverting Subjects, the second edition, volume 3 (London: printed by W.D., 1712), n.p.

Ward’s pamphlet The Poet’s Ramble After Riches (first published in 1691) may tell something of his early adult years. Lodged in a garret in London, possessing little more than the “Poets ancient Thread-bare Blessing,”The Poet’s Ramble After Riches. With Reflections Upon a Country Corporation. Also The Author’s Lamentation in the Time of Adversity (London: Printed and sold by J. How, in Ram’s Head Inn Yard in Fenchurch Street, 1699), 4. the poem’s speaker has an unexpected visitor come to tell him that his grandmother has died. He sets out to Pasty Nook (also known as Pie Corner) to hire a horse, then rides to Leicester. Arriving penniless at an inn, he spends the night eating and drinking, insists on “His Worships Room, with Bed of Down,” then convinces his host he will repay him when he receives his inheritance. When he arrives at his attorney’s, however, he finds that his grandmother has bequeathed everything to her daughter and has “not left poor Ned a Souse.”Ibid. 14.

To this scant history, William Oldys adds an account of Ward’s sequence of residences, suggesting that his economic position improved in the years following his authorial success:

he lived a while in Gray’s-Inn, and for some years latterly kept a public-house in Moorfields, then in Clerkenwell, and lastly a punch-house in Fulwood’s-Rents, within one door of Gray’s-Inn, where he would entertain any company who invited him, with many stories and adventures of the poets and authors he had acquaintance with.David Erskine Baker, Biographia dramatica, or, A Companion to the Playhouse: Containing Historical and Critical Memoirs, and Original Anecdotes, of British and Irish Dramatic Writers, from the Commencement of our Theatrical Exhibitions; Amongst Whom are Some of the Most Celebrated Actors, ed. Isaac Reed (London: printed for Mess. Rivingtons, St. Paul’s Churchyard; T. Payne and son, Mews Gate; L. Davis, Holborn; T. Longman, and G. Robinson, Paternoster Row; J. Dodsley, Pall Mall; J. Nichols, Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street; J. Debret, Picadilly; and T. Evans in the Strand, 1782), 463–4.

In consequence of his attacks on the government in his Hudibras Redivivus, 1705, he was indicted; and, on pleading guilty, he was ordered to stand twice in the pillory, at the Royal Exchange and Charing Cross, to pay a fine of forty marks, and to find security for good behaviour.Luttrell, Brief Relation of State Affairs vi. 36, 57, 107; Gent. Mag. October 1857.

Ward died June 20, 1731, and was buried on the 27th in St. Pancras Churchyard. One mourning coach for his wife and daughter attended his hearse as he had directed in his will, written in poetry June 24, 1725.Baker, Biographia dramatica, ed. Isaac Reed, 464.

The Topography of The London Spy

Note on the Text of this Edition

This edition adheres to the original spelling, capitalization, punctuation and hyphenation in The London Spy Compleat, with some exceptions to aid in reading and searching the text. Obvious typographical errors are emended; s replaces ſ. When quotation marks are used at the beginnings of a series of lines to indicate a quotation or speech, an opening and a closing quotation mark have been used instead; similarly, when long passages in the original are set in italics to indicate speech, opening and closing quotation marks are displayed instead.

Note on the Book

The London Spy was first published in eighteen monthly parts, from November 1698 to May 1700 in folio and was first collected in the 1703 edition in octavo. The first six issues were originally printed by John Nutt; volume 1, numbers 7–12, and volume 2, numbers 1–6, were printed by John How. How re-issued the series in 1701–2, and published The London Spy Compleat in July 1703.

This digital version is based on the first edition of the book published in 1703. The book, purchased for the Grub Street Project, was formerly in the library of Eric Quayle, and has his Zennor bookplate on the front paste-down, together with his pencilled notes. His signed ink-note on the bookplate records that the volume was rebound in December 1974 by R. Booth, Mabe, Penryn, Cornwall. In this copy, probably as always, G3 is signed B4, p. 410 is mis-paged 401, and on pp. 156, 192, 204, 214, and 240 the part number is placed at the outer margin, the page number at the inner margin, instead of the other way around. The discontinuity of pagination after p. 240 does not indicate any lack: it occurs at the end of gathering ‘Q’ and gathering ‘R’ is paged 247. The catchwords also carry through.

Physical description: Post 8vo [not watermarked]; nothing apparently called for before title page; 43 entry Errata and Advertisement for the ‘Second volume of Mr. Edward Ward’s Writings in Large Octavo’ on verso of last leaf of text; pp.[iv]+240+247 - 437+[i]; [A]2, B - I, K - U, X - Z, Aa -Ea8; twentieth-century full mottled calf after a period model, ruled and tooled blind on sides, spine with five raised bands tooled gilt, elaborately tooled gilt in compartments, tan lettering piece; period style end-papers. Hole in H8 with loss of three or four words on each side of the leaf, small chip to blank lower fore-margin of I7, worm hole between running head rules of gathering N, not affecting text, barely noticeable worm-hole affecting blank upper margin of leaves X1–3; repair to blank fore-margin of T1; a few gatherings lightly embrowned.