London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry
1851

Blind Female Violin Player.

Blind Female Violin Player.

I HAD the following narrative from a stout blind woman, with a very grave and even meditative look, fifty-six years old, dressed in a clean cotton gown, the pattern of which was almost washed out. She was led by a very fine dog (a Scotch colley, she described it), a chain being affixed to the dog"s leather collar A boy, poor and destitute, she said, barefooted, and wearing a greasy ragged jacket, with his bare skin showing through the many rents, accompanied her when I saw her. The boy had been with her a month, she supporting him. She said:—

"I have been blind twelve years. I was a servant in my youth, and in 1824 married a journeyman cabinet-maker. I went blind from an inflammation two years before my husband died. We had five children, all dead now—the last died six years ago; and at my husband"s death I was left almost destitute. I used to sell a few laces in the street, but couldn"t clear 2s. 6d. a-week by it. I had a little help from the parish, but very rarely; and at last I could get nothing but an order for the house. A neighbour—a tradesman— then taught me at his leisure to play the violin, but I"m not a great performer. I wish I was. I began to play in the streets five years ago. I get halfpennies in charity, not for my music. Some days I pick up 2s., some days only 6d., and on wet days nothing. I"ve often had to pledge my fiddle for 2s.—I could never get more on it, and sometimes not that. When my fiddle was in pledge, I used to sell matches and laces in the streets, and have had to borrow 1 1/2d. to lay in a stock. I"ve sometimes taken 4d. in eight hours. My chief places, when I"ve only the dog to lead me, are Regentstreet and Portland-place; and, really, people are very kind and careful in guiding and directing me,—even the cabmen! may God bless them."

I HAD the following narrative from a stout blind woman, with a very grave and even meditative look, years old, dressed in a clean cotton gown, the pattern of which was almost washed out. She was led by a very fine dog (a Scotch colley, she described it), a chain being affixed to the dog"s leather collar A boy, poor and destitute, she said, barefooted, and wearing a greasy ragged jacket, with his bare skin showing through the many rents, accompanied her when I saw her. The boy had been with her a month, she supporting him. She said:—

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"I have been blind years. I was a servant in my youth, and in married a journeyman cabinet-maker. I went blind from an inflammation years before my husband died. We had children, all dead now—the last died years ago; and at my husband"s death I was left almost destitute. I used to sell a few laces in the street, but couldn"t clear a-week by it. I had a little help from the parish, but very rarely; and at last I could get nothing but an order for the house. A neighbour—a tradesman— then taught me at his leisure to play the violin, but I"m not a great performer. I wish I was. I began to play in the streets years ago. I get halfpennies in charity, not for my music. Some days I pick up , some days only , and on wet days nothing. I"ve often had to pledge my fiddle for —I could never get more on it, and sometimes not that. When my fiddle was in pledge, I used to sell matches and laces in the streets, and have had to borrow to lay in a stock. I"ve sometimes taken in hours. My chief places, when I"ve only the dog to lead me, are Regentstreet and Portland-place; and, really, people are very kind and careful in guiding and directing me,—even the cabmen! may God bless them."

 
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 Title Page
collapseChapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
collapseOur Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
collapseChapter III: - Street Musicians
collapseChapter IV: - Street Vocalists
collapseChapter V: - Street Artists
collapseChapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals
collapseChapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters
collapseChapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers
collapseChapter IX: - Ballast-Men
collapseChapter X: - Lumpers
collapseChapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers
 Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses
collapseChapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis
collapseChapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men
collapseChapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors
collapseChapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers
collapseChapter XVII: Carmen and Porters
collapseChapter XVIII: London Vagrants
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men
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ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00079
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