[Dixielandjazz] Charles Babbage's comments on Street Musicians - slightly OT?

David Richoux tubaman at tubatoast.com
Wed Oct 28 16:41:09 PDT 2009

Hi all,

While doing some other research, I happened upon a portion of a book  
by Charles Babbage (known as the inventor of the "Difference Engine" -  
a very early sort of mechanical computer ) that is a very  longwinded  
argument against the common London street musician of the mid 1800s.


(you might need to have a Google account to read it. ) Here is a snip:

> During the last ten years, the amount of street music has so greatly  
> increased that it has now become a positive nuisance to a very  
> considerable portion of the inhabitants of London. It robs the  
> industrious man of his time; it annoys the musical man by its  
> intolerable badness; it irritates the invalid; deprives the patient,  
> who at great inconvenience has visited London for the best medical  
> advice, of that repose which, tinder such circumstances, is  
> essential for his recovery, and it destroys the time and the  
> energies of all the intellectual classes of society by its continual  
> interruptions of their pursuits.
> Instruments of torture permitted by the Government to be in daily  
> and nightly use in the streets of London.
> Organs. Bagpipes.
> Brass bands. Accordions.
> Fiddles. Halfpenny whistles.
> Harps. Tom-toms.
> Harpsichords. Trumpets.
> Hurdy-gurdies. The human [ Shouting out objects for sale.
> Flageolets voice in \ Religious canting.
> Drums. various forms. ( Psalm-singing.
> I have very frequently been disturbed by such music after eleven and  
> even after twelve o'clock at night. Upon one occasion a brass band  
> played, with but few and short intermissions, for five hours.
> Encouragers of Street Music.
> Tavern-keepers.
> Public-houses.
> Gin-shops.
> Beer-shops.
> Coffee-shops.
> Servants.
> Children.
> Visitors from the country.
> Ladies of doubtful virtue.
> Occasionally titled ladies ; but these are almost invariably of  
> recent elevavation, and deficient in that taste which their sex  
> usually possess.
> The habit of frequenting public-houses, and the amount of  
> intoxication, is much augmented by these means. It therefore finds  
> support from the whole body of licensed victuallers, and from all  
> those who are interested, as the proprietora of public-houses.

  I wonder what he might have thought about jazz musicians !!!

more on Babbage here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Babbage

Dave RIchoux

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