IN a small attic-room, in a house near Drurylane, I found the "catch "em alive" manufacturer and his family busy at their trade.
Directly I entered the house where I had been told he lodged, I knew that I had come to the right address; for the staircase smelt of turpentine as if it had been newly painted, the odour growing more and more powerful as I ascended.
The little room where the man and his family worked was as hot as an oven; for although it was in the heat of summer, still his occupation forced him to have a fire burning for the purpose of melting and keeping fluid the different ingredients he spread upon his papers.
When I opened the door of his room, I was at puzzled to know how I should enter the apartment; for the ceiling was completely hidden by the papers which had been hung up to dry from the many strings stretched across the place, so that it resembled a washerwoman"s back-yard, with some thousands of red pocket-handkerchiefs suspended in the air. I could see the legs of the manufacturer walking about at the further end, but the other part of his body was hidden from me.
On his crying, "Come in!" I had to duck my head down, and creep under the forest of paper strips rustling above us.
The most curious characteristic of the apartment was the red colour with which everything was stained. The walls, floor, and tables were all smeared with ochre, like the pockets of a drover. The papers that were drying were as red as the pages of a gold-leaf book. This curious appearance was owing to part of the process of "catch "em alive" making consisting in covering the paper
|with coloured size, to prevent the sticky solution from soaking into it.|
The room was so poorly furnished, that it was evident the trade was not a lucrative . An old Dutch clock, with a pendulum as long as a walking-stick, was the only thing in the dwelling which was not indispensable to the calling. The chimneypiece—that test of "well-to-do" in the houses of the poorer classes—had not a single ornament upon it. The long board on which the family worked served likewise as the table for the family meals, and the food they ate had to be laid upon the red-smeared surface. There was but chair, and that the wife occupied; and when the father or son wished to sit down, a tub of size was drawn out with its trembling contents from under the worktable, and on this they rested themselves.
The man was about to exhibit to us his method of proceeding, when his attention was drawn off by a smell which the moving of the different pots had caused. "How strong this size smells, Charlotte!" he said to his wife.
"We can cut "em in style," interrupted the wife.
"It"s only sheets," remonstrated the lad, "and that"s only a little more than a minute."
A pile of entire newspapers was here brought out, and all of them coloured red on side, like the leaves of the books in which gold-leaf is kept.
Judging from the trial at cutting which followed, we should conclude that the lad was correct in his calculation.
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|Chapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin|
|Our Street Folk - Street Exhibitors|
The Fantoccini Man
Guy Fawkes (Man)
Guy Fawkes (Boy)
An Old Street Showman
The Chinese Shades
Exhibitor of Mechanical Figures
The Telescope Exhibitor
Exhibitor of the Microscope
Acrobat, or Street-Posturer
The Street Risley
The Strong Man
The Street Juggler
The Street Conjurer
Statement of another Street Conjurer
The Street Fire-King, or Salamander
The Snake, Sword, and Knife-Swallower
The Penny-Gaff Clown
The Canvas Clown
The Penny-Circus Jester
The Tight-Rope Dancers and Stilt-Vaulters
Gun-Exercise Exhibitor - One-Legged Italian
|Chapter III: - Street Musicians|
Blind Performer on the Bells
Blind Female Violin Player
Blind Scotch Violoncello Player
Blind Irish Piper
The English Street Bands
The German Street Bands
Of the Bagpipe Players
Scotch Piper and Dancing-Girl
Another Bagpipe Player
French Hurdy-Gurdy Player, with Dancing Children
Poor Harp Player
Organ Man, with Flute Harmonicon Organ
Italian Pipers and Clarionet Players
Italian with Monkey
The Dancing Dogs
Concertina Player on the Steamboats
Another 'Tom-Tom' Player
Performer on Drum and Pipes
|Chapter IV: - Street Vocalists|
|Chapter V: - Street Artists|
|Chapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals|
|Chapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters|
|Chapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers|
|Chapter IX: - Ballast-Men|
|Chapter X: - Lumpers|
|Chapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers|
|Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses|
|Chapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis|
|Chapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men|
|Chapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors|
|Chapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers|
|Chapter XVII: Carmen and Porters|
|Chapter XVIII: London Vagrants|
Characteristics of the Various Classes of Vagrants
Statements of Vagrants
Statement of a Returned Convict
Lives of the Boy Inmates of the Casual Wards of the London Workhouses
Increase and Decrease of Number of Applicants to Casual Wards of London Workhouses
Estimate of Numbers and Cost of Vagrants
Routes of the Vagrants
London Vagrants' Asylums for the Houseless
Asylum for the Houseless Poor
Description of the Asylum for the Houselss
Charities and Sums Given to the Poor
|Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men|