London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Pea-Soup and Hot Eels.


of the condiments greatly relished by the chilled labourers and others who regale themselves on street luxuries, are "pea-soup" and "hot eels." Of these tradesmen there may be now in the streets on a Saturday. As the trades are frequently carried on by the same party, I shall treat of them together. The greatest number of these stands is in , St. Luke's, about . In warm weather these street-cooks deal only in "hot eels" and whelks; as the whelk trade is sometimes an accompaniment of the others, for then the soup will not sell. These dealers are stationary, having stalls or stands in the street, and the savoury odour from them attracts more hungry-looking gazers and longers than does a cook-shop window. They seldom move about, but generally frequent the same place. A celebrated dealer of this class has a stand in , Clare-market, opposite a cat's-meat shop; he has been heard to boast, that he wouldn't soil his hands at the business if he didn't get his a day, and his on a Saturday. Half this amount is considered to be about the truth. This person has mostly all the trade for hot eels in the Clare-market district. There is another "hot eel purveyor" at the end of , Tottenhamcourt- road, that does a very good trade. It is thought that he makes about a day at the business, and about on Saturday. There was, before the removals, a man who came out about every afternoon, standing in the New-cut, nearly opposite the Victoria Theatre, his "girl" always attending to the stall. He had or lamps with "hot eels" painted upon them, and a handsome stall. He was considered to make about a day by the sale of eels alone, but he dealt in fried fish and pickled whelks as well, and often had a pile of fried fish a foot high. Near the


Bricklayers' Arms, at the junction of the Old and New Kent-roads, a hot-eel man dispenses what a juvenile customer assured me was "as spicy as any in London, as if there was gin in it." But the dealer in Clare-market does the largest trade of all in the hot-eel line. He is "the head man." On Saturday he was known to sell lbs. of eels, and on most Saturdays he will get rid of his "draughts" of eels (a draught being lbs.) He and his son are dressed in Jenny Lind hats, bound with blue velvet, and both dispense the provisions, while the daughter attends to wash the cups. "On a Sunday, anybody," said my informant, "would think him the nobleman or squire in the land, to see him dressed in his white hat, with black crape round it, and his drab paletot and mother-o'--pearl buttons, and black kid gloves, with the fingers too long for him."

I may add, that even the very poorest, who have only a halfpenny to spend, as well as those with better means, resort to the stylish stalls in preference to the others. The eels are all purchased at early in the morning. The parties themselves, or their sons or daughters, go to , and the watermen row them to the Dutch eel vessels moored off the market. The fare paid to the watermen is for every lbs. purchased and brought back in the boat, the passenger being gratis. These dealers generally trade on their own capital; but when some have been having "a flare up," and have "broke down for stock," to use the words of my informant, they borrow , and pay it back in a week or a fortnight at the outside, and give for the loan of it. The money is usually borrowed of the barrow, truck, and basket-lenders. The amount of capital required for carrying on the business of course depends on the trade done; but even in a small way, the utensils cost They consist of fish-kettle and soup-kettle, holding upon an average gallons each; besides these, basins and cups and spoons are required, also a washhand basin to wash the cups, basins, and spoons in, and a board and tressel on which the whole stand. In a large way, it requires from to to fit up a handsome stall. For this the party would have " fine kettles," holding about gallons each, and patent cast-iron fireplaces (the outfit only admits of the bottoms of tin saucepans being used as fireplaces, in which charcoal is always burning to keep the eels and soup hot; the whelks are always eaten cold). The crockery and spoons would be in no way superior. A small dealer requires, over and above this sum, to go to market with and purchase stock, and the large dealer about The class of persons belonging to the business have either been bred to it, or taken to it through being out of work. Some have been disabled during their work, and have resorted to it to save themselves from the workhouse. The price of the hot eels is a halfpenny for or pieces of fish, and -parts of a cupfull of liquor. The charge for a half- pint of pea-soup is a halfpenny, and the whelks are sold, according to the size, from a halfpenny each to or for the same sum. These are put out in saucers.

The eels are Dutch, and are cleaned and washed, and cut in small pieces of from a half to an inch each. [The daughter of of my informants was busily engaged, as I derived this information, in the cutting of the fish. She worked at a blood-stained board, with a pile of pieces on side and a heap of entrails on the other.] The portions so cut are then boiled, and the liquor is thickened with flour and flavoured with chopped parsley and mixed spices. It is kept hot in the streets, and served out, as I have stated, in halfpenny cupfulls, with a small quantity of vinegar and pepper. The best purveyors add a little butter. The street-boys are extravagant in their use of vinegar.

To dress a draught of eels takes hours— to clean, cut them up, and cook them sufficiently; and the cost is now (much lower in the summer) for the draught (the being the expense of "shoring"), for lb. of flour to thicken the liquor, for the parsley to flavour it, and for the vinegar, spices, and pepper (about quarts of vinegar and ounces of pepper). This quantity, when dressed and seasoned, will fetch in halfpennyworths from to The profit upon this would be from to ; but the cost of the charcoal has to be deducted, as well as the salt used while cooking. These items amount to about

The pea-soup consists of split peas, celery, and beef bones. pints, at a quart, are used to every gallons; the bones cost , carrots , and celery —these cost ; and the pepper, salt, and mint, to season it, about This, when served in halfpenny basinfulls, will fetch from to , leaving profit. But from this the expenses of cooking must be taken; so that the clear gain upon gallons comes to about In a large trade, kettles, or gallons, of pea-soup will be disposed of in the day, and about draughts, or lbs., of hot eels on every day but Saturday,—when the quantity of eels disposed of would be about draughts, or lbs. weight, and about gallons of peasoup. Hence the profits of a good business in the hot-eel and pea-soup line united will be from to per week, or more. But there is only man in London does this amount of business, or rather makes this amount of money. A small business will do about lbs. of eels in the week, including Saturday, and about gallons of soup. Sometimes credit is given for a halfpennyworth, or a pennyworth, at the outside; but very little is lost from bad debts. Boys who are partaking of the articles will occasionally say to the proprietor of the stall, "Well, master, they nice; trust us another ha'p'orth, and I'll pay you when I comes again;" but they are seldom credited, for the stall-keepers know well they would never see them again. Very often the stock cooked is not disposed of,


and then it is brought home and eaten by the family. The pea-soup will seldom keep a night, but what is left the family generally use for supper.

The dealers go out about half-past in the morning, and remain out till about at night. Monday is the next best day to Saturday. The generality of the customers are boys from to years of age. Newsboys are very partial to hot eels—women prefer the pea-soup. Some of the boys will have as many as halfpenny cupfulls consecutively on a Saturday night; and some women will have halfpenny basinsfull of soup. Many persons in the cold weather prefer the hot soup to beer. On wet, raw, chilly days, the soup goes off better than usual, and in fine weather there is a greater demand for the hot eels. dealer assured me that he once serve gentlemen's servants with twentyeight halfpenny cupfulls of hot eels after another. servant had , and the other cupfulls, which they ate all at standing; and of these customers was so partial to hot eels, that he used to come twice a day every day for months after that, and have cupfulls each day, at noon and in the evening. These persons were the best customers my informant ever had. Servants, however, are not generally partial to the commodity. Hot eels are not usually taken for dinner, nor is pea-soup, but throughout the whole day, and just at the fancy of the passersby. There are no shops for the sale of these articles. The dealers keep no accounts of what their receipts and expenditure are.

The best time of the year for the hot eels is from the middle of June to the end of August. On some days during that time a person in a small way of business will clear upon an average a day, on other days ; on some days, during the month of August, as much as a day. Some cry out "Nice hot eels—nice hot eels!" or "Warm your hands and fill your bellies for a halfpenny." man used to give his surplus eels, when he considered his sale completed on a night, to the poor creatures refused admission into a workhouse, lending them his charcoal fire for warmth, which was always returned to him. The poor creatures begged cinders, and carried the fire under a railway arch. The general rule, however, is for the dealer to be silent, and merely expose the articles for sale. "I likes better," said man to me, "to touch up people's noses than their heyes or their hears." There are now in the trade almost more than can get a living at it, and their earnings are less than they were formerly. party attributed this to the opening of a couple of penny-pie shops in his neighbourhood. Before then he could get a day clear, take day with another; but since the establishment of the business in the penny-pie line he cannot take above a day clear. On the day the of these pieshops opened, it made as much as lbs., or half a draught of eels, difference to him. There was a band of music and an illumination at the pieshop, and it was impossible to stand against The fashionable dress of the trade is the "Jenny Lind" or "wide-awake" hat, with a broad black ribbon tied round it, and a white apron and sleeves. The dealers usually go to Hampton-court or Greenwich on a fine Sunday. They are partial to the pit of Astley's. of them told his waterman at the other morning that "he and his good lady had been werry amused with the osses at Hashley's last night."

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 Title Page
 The Street-Folk: Of Wandering Tribes in General
 Of the Wandering Tribes of this Country
 Of the London Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Varieties of Street-Folk in General, and Costermongers in Particular
Of Costermongering Mechanics
Ancient Calling of Costermongers
Of the Obsolete Cries of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers 'Economically' Considered
The London Street Markets on a Saturday Night
The Sunday Morning Markets
Habits and amusements of Costermongers
Gambling of Costermongers
'Vic Gallery'
The Politics of Costermongers.-- Policemen
Marriage and Concubinage of Costermongers
Religion of Costermongers
Of the Uneducated State of Costermongers
Language of Costermongers
Of the Nicknames of Costermongers
Of the Education of Costermongers' Children
The Literature of Costermongers
Of the Honesty of Costermongers
Of the Conveyances of the Costermongers and Other Street-Sellers
Of the 'Smithfield Races'
Of the Donkeys of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers' Capital
Of the 'Slang' Weights and Measures
Of Half Profits
Of the Boys of the Costermongers, and their Bunts
Of the Juvenile Trading of the Costermongers
Of the Education of the 'Coster-Lads'
The Life of a Coster-Lad
Of the 'Penny Gaff'
Of the Coster-Girls
The Life of a Coster Girl
Of Costermongers and Thieves
Of the More Provident Costermongers
Of the Homes of the Costermongers
Of the Dress of the Costermongers
Once Try You'll Come Again
Of the Diet and Drink of Costermongers
Of the Cries, Rounds, and Days of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers on their Country Rounds
Of the Earnings of Costermongers
Of the Capital and Income of the Costermongers
Of the Providence and Improvidence of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers in Bad Weather and During the Cholera
Of the Costermongers' Raffles
Of the Markets and Trade Rights of the Costerongers, and of the Laws Affecting Them
Of the Removals of Costermongers From the Streets
Of the Tricks of Costermongers
Of the Street-Sellers of Fish
Of Sprat-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Fruit and Vegetables
Of the Stationary Street-Sellers of Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables
Of the Street-Irish
Of the Street-Sellers of Game, Poultry (Live and Dead), Rabbits, Butter, Cheese, and Eggs
Of the Sellers of Trees, Shrubs, Flowers (Cut and In Pots), Roots, Seeds, and Branches
Street-Sellers of Green Stuff
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Pea-Soup and Hot Eels
Of the Experience of a Hot-Eel and Pea-Soup Man
Of the Street-Sellers of Pickled Whelks
Of the Customers, Etc., of Pickled Whelk-Sellers
Of the Street Sellers, and of the Preparation of Fried Fish
Of the Experience of a Fried Fish- Seller, and of the Class of Customers
Of the Preparation and Quantity of Sheep's Trotters, and of the Street-Sellers
Statements of Sheep's Trotter Women
Of the Street Trade in Baked Potatoes
Of 'Trotting,' or 'Hawking' Butchers
Of the Experience of a Hawking Butcher
Of the Street-Sellers of Ham-Sandwiches
Of the Experience of a Ham Sandwich- Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Bread
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Green Peas
Of the Experience of a Hot Green Pea Seller
Of Cats' and Dogs'--Meat Dealers
Of the Street-Sale of Drinkables
Of Coffee-Stall Keepers
Of the Street Sale of Ginger-Beer, Sherbet, Lemonade, &c
Of the Experience and Customers of A Ginger-Beer Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Elder Wine
Of the Street Sale of Peppermint-Water
Of Milk Selling in St. James's Park
Of the Street Sale of Milk
Of the Street-Sale of Curds and Whey
Of the Street-Sellers of Rice-Milk
Of Water-Carriers
Of the Street-Sellers of Pastry and Confectionary
Of Street Piemen
Of the Street-Sellers of Boiled Puddings
Of the Street-Sellers of Plum 'Duff' or Dough
Of the Street-Sellers of Cakes, Tarts, &c.
Of Other Cake-Sellers in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Gingerbread- Nuts, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot-Cross Buns, and of Chelsea Buns
Of Muffin and Crumpet-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street Sale of Sweet-Stuff
Of the Customers of the Sweet-Stuff Street-Sellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Cough Drops and of Medical Confectionary
'Lohoch de farfara,' the Lohoch of Coltsfoot
Of the Street-Sellers of Ices and of Ice Creams
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Capital, or Stock in Trade, of the Street- Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Income, or 'Takings,' of Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, &c.
Of the Former and Present Street- Patterers
Of the Habits, Opinions, Morals, and Religion of Patterers Generally
Of the Publishers and authors of Street-Literature
Of Long Song-Sellers
Of Running Patterers
Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Recent Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Chaunters
Of the Experience of a Chaunter
Of the Death and Fire Hunters
Of the Sellers of Second Editions
Of the Standing Patterers
Experience of a Standing Patterer
Of Political Litanies, Dialogues, etc.
Of 'Cocks,' Etc.
Of 'Strawing'
Of the Sham indecent Street-Trade
Of Religious Tract Sellers
Of a Benefit Society of Patterers
Of the Abodes, Tricks, Marriage, Character, and Characteristics of the Different Grades of Patterers
Of the Low Lodging-Houses of London
Of the Filth, Dishonesty, and Immorality of Low Lodging-Houses
Of the Children in Low Lodging- Houses
Of the Low Lodging-Houses Throughout the Country
Of the Street Stationers, and the Street Card-Sellers
Of the Seller of the Penny Short-Hand Cards
The Lecture
'I perish with hunger'
Of the Sellers of Race Cards and Lists
Of the Street-Sellers of Gelatine, of Engraved, and of Playing Cards, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Experience of a Street- Stationer
Of a 'Reduced' Gentlewoman, and a 'Reduced' Tradesman, as Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Street-Sale of Memorandum- Books and Almanacks
Of the Street-Sale of Pocket-Books and Diaries
Of the Street-Sellers of Songs
Of the Street 'Pinners-up,' or Wall Song-Sellers
Of Ancient and Modern Street Ballad Minstrelsy
Of Street 'Ballads on a Subject'
Of the Street Poets and Authors
Of the Experience of a Street Author, or Poet
Of the Street-Sellers of Broad-Sheets
Of the 'Gallows' Literature of the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Conundrums
Of the Street-Sellers of Comic Exhibitions, Magical Delusions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Play-Bills
Of the Street-Sellers of Periodicals, Pamphlets, Tracts, Books, Etc.
Of the Street-Sale of Back Numbers
Of the Sale of Waste Newspapers at Billingsgate
Of the Sale of Periodicals on the Steam- Boats and Steam-Boat Piers
Of the Sale of Newspapers, Books, &c., at the Railway Stations
Of the Street Booksellers
Of the Character of Books of the Street-Sale
Of the Experience of a Street Book- Seller
Of Street Book-Auctioneers
Of the Street-Sale of Song-Books, and of Children's Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Account-Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Guide-Books, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Fine Arts
Of Street Art
Of the Street-Sellers of Engravings, Etc., in Umbrellas, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pictures in Frames
Of the Street-Sellers of Manuscript and Other Music
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Capital or Value of the Stock-in-Trade of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature and the Fine Arts
Income, or Average Annual 'Takings,' of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
An Epitome of the Pattering Class
Of the 'Screevers,' or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions
'God Save the Queen'
Of the Probable Means of Reformation
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles in Metal
Of the Cheap Johns, or Street Han- Sellers
'The Original Cheap John'
The Crippled Street-Seller of Nut- Meg-Graters
Of the Swag-Shops of the Metropolis
Shopkeepers and Dealers Supplied with the Following Articles --
Of the Life of a Cheap-John
The Street-Sellers of Cutlery
Of the Blind Street-Sellers of Tailors' Needles, etc.
The Public-House Hawkers of Metal Spoons, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Jewellery
Of the Pedlar-Jewellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Card-Counters, Medals, Etc.
The Construction is of Iron and of Glass, 1848 Feet Long. about Half is 456 Wide. the Remainder 408 Feet Wide, and 66 Feet High; Site, Upwards of 20 acres. Josh. Paxton, archt.
Of the Street-Sellers of Rings and Sovereigns For Wagers
Of the Street-Sellers of Children's Gilt Watches
Of the Street-Sellers of Tinware
Of the Life of a Tin-Ware Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Dog-Collars
Of the Life of a Street-Seller of Dog- Collars
Of the Street-Sellers of Tools
Of the Beggar Street-Sellers
Pike's Patent Cotton. 120 Yards
'The Lace-Makers' Appeal'
'ALLEN, Printer, Long-row, Nottingham'
Of the 'House of Lords,' a Street-Seller's Defunct Club
Of the Street-Sellers of Crockery and Glass-Wares
Of the 'Swag,' Crockery, and Glass Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Spar and China Ornaments, and of Stone Fruit
Of the Street-Sellers of Textile Fabrics
Of the Haberdashery Swag-Shops
Of Hawkers, Pedlars, and Petty Chapmen
Of the Packmen, or Hawkers of Soft Wares
Statement of a Packman
Of the Tally Packman
Of the 'Duffers' or Hawkers of Pretended Smuggled Goods
Of the Street-Sellers of 'Small-Ware,' or Tape, Cotton, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Lace
Of the Street-Sellers of Japanned Table- Covers
Of the Street-Sellers of Braces, Belts, Hose, Trowser-Straps, and Waistcoats
Of the Street-Sellers of Boot and Stay- Laces, &c.
Of a Blind Female Seller of 'Small-Wares'
The Blind Street-Seller of Boot-Laces
Of the Life of a Blind Boot-Lace Seller
Of the Low Lodging-Houses
Statement of a Young Pickpocket
Statement of a Prostitute
Statement of a Beggar
Meeting of Thieves
Of the Country Lodging-Houses
Of the Street-Sellers of Chemical Articles of Manufacture
Of the Street-Sellers of Blacking, Black Lead, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of French Polish
Of the Street-Sellers of Grease-Removing Compositions
Of the Street-Sellers of Corn-Salve
Of the Street-Sellers of Glass and China Cement, and of Razor Paste
Of the Street-Seller of Crackers and Detonating Balls
Of the Street-Sellers of Lucifer-Matches
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigar Lights, or Fuzees
Of the Street-Sellers of Gutta-Percha Heads
Of the Street-Sellers of Fly-Papers and Beetle-Wafers
Of the Street-Sellers of Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Walking-Sticks
Of the Street-Sellers of Whips, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pipes, and of Snuff and Tobacco Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigars
Of the Street-Sellers of Sponge
Of the Street-Sellers of Wash-Leathers
Of the Street-Sellers of Spectacles and Eye-Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Dolls
Of the 'Swag-Barrowmen,' and 'Lot- Sellers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Roulette Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Poison For Rats
Of the Street-Sellers of Rhubarb and Spice
Of the Hawking of Tea
Of the Women Street-Sellers
Of the Children Street-Sellers of London