London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry

1851

Blind Female Violin Player.

 

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
Chapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
Our Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
Chapter III: - Street Musicians
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
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men