London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Probable Means of Reformation.


I shall now conclude this account of the patterers, lurkers, and screevers, with some observations from the pen of who has had ample means of judging as to the effect of the several plans now in operation for the reformation or improvement of the class.

In looking over the number of institutions," writes the person alluded to, "designed to reform and improve the classes under review, we are, as it were, overwhelmed with their numerous branches; and though it is highly gratifying to see so much good being done, it is necessary to confine this notice to the examination of only the most prominent, with their general characteristics.

The churches, on many considerations— personal feelings being the smallest, but not unknown—demand attention first. I must treat this subject (for your work is not a theological magazine) without respect to doctrine, principle, or legislation.

The object of erecting churches in poor neighbourhoods is to benefit the poor; why is it, then, that the instruction communicated should exercise so little influence upon the vicious, the destitute, and the outcast? Is it that Christian ordinances are less adapted to them than to others? Or, rather, is it not that the public institutions of the clergy are not made interesting to the wretched community in question? The great hindrance (in my opinion) to the progress of religion among the unsettled classes is, that having been occasionally to church or chapel, and heard nothing but doctrinal lectures or feverish mental effusions, they cannot see the application of these to every-day trade and practice; and so they arrive at the conclusion, that they can get as much or more good at home.

Our preachers seem to be afraid of ascertaining the sentiments, feelings, and habits of the more wretched part of the population; and, without this, their words will die away upon the wind, and no practical echo answer their addresses.

It will, perhaps, relieve the monotony of this statement if I give an illustration communicated to me by a person well qualified to determine the merits of the question.

Your readers will probably recollect the opposition experienced by Dr. Hampden on his promotion to the bishopric of Hereford. Shortly after the affair was settled, his lordship accepted an invitation to preach on behalf of the schools connected with the 'ten new churches' of Bethnal-green. The church selected for the purpose was the one on Friar'smount. It was one July Sunday in 1849, and, as I well remember, the morning was very wet; but, supposing the curiosity, or better motives, of the public would induce a large congregation, I went to the church at half-past ten. The freeseats occupying the middle aisle were all filled, and chiefly with persons of the lowest and worst classes, many of whom I personally knew, and was agreeably surprised to find them in such a place.

I sat in the midst of the group, and at the elbow of a tall attenuated beggar, known by the name of 'Lath and Plaster,' of whom it is but justice to say that he repeated the responsive parts of the service very correctly. It is true he could not read; but having 'larned a few prayers' in the 'Downs' (Tothill-fields prison), 'he always sed 'em, night and morning, if he wasn't drunk, and then he sed 'em twice next day, 'cos,' reasoned he, 'I likes to rub off as I goes on.'

In course of time, the bishop made his appearance in the pulpit. His subject was neglected education, and he illustrated it from the history of Eli.

I thought proper to hang back, and observe the group as they passed out of church. There was Tailor Tom, and Brummagem Dick, and Keate-street Nancy, and Davy the Duke, and Stationer George, and at least two dozen more, most of whom were miserably clad, and several apparently without a shirt. They were not, however, without halfpence; and as I was well known to several of the party, and flattered as being 'a very knowledgeable man,' I was invited to the Cat and Bagpipes afterwards, to 'have share of what was going.'

I was anxious," continues my informant, "to learn from my companions their opinion of the right reverend prelate. They thought, to use their own words, 'he was a jolly old brick.' But did they think he was sound in opinion about the Trinity, or was he (as alleged) a Unitarian? They did not even understand the meaning of these words. All they did understand was, that 'a top-sawyer parson at Oxford, called Dr. Pussy,' had 'made himself disagreeable,' and that some of the bishops and nobility had 'jined him;' that these had persecuted Dr. Hampden, because he was 'more cleverer' than themselves; and that Lord John Russell, who, generally speaking, was 'a regular muff,' had 'acted like a man' in this instance, and 'he ought to be commended for it; and,' added the man who pronounced the above sentiment, 'it's just a picture of ourselves.' To other ears than mine, the closing remark would have appeared impertinent, but I 'tumbled to' it immediately. It was a case of oppression; and whether the oppressors belonged to Oxford University or to Scotland-yard militated nothing against the aphorism: 'it's just a picture of ourselves!'

It seems to me that these poor creatures understood the circumstances better than they did the sermon; and my inference is, that whether from the parochial pulpit, or the missionary exhortation, or in the printed form of a tract, those who wish to produce a practical effect must themselves be practical men. I, who have been in the Christian ministry, and am familiar, unhappily, with the sufferings of men of every grade among the outcast, would say: 'If you wish to do these poor outcasts real good, you must mould your language to their ideas, get hold of their common phrases—those which tell so powerfully when they are speaking to each other—let them have their own fashion of things, and, where it does not interfere with order and decency, use yourselves language which their unpolished minds will appreciate; and then, having gained their entire confidence, and, perhaps, their esteem, you may safely strike home, though it be as with a sledge-hammer, and they will even 'love you for the smart.'

The temperance movement next claims attention, and I doubt not that much crime and degradation has been prevented by total absti- nence from all intoxicating drinks; but I would rather raise the tone of moral feeling by intelligent and ennobling means than by those spasmodic efforts, which are without deliberation, and often without permanency. The object sought to be obtained, however, is good,—so is the motive,—and I leave to others to judge what means are most likely to secure it.

I may also allude, as another means of reformation, to the Ragged-schools which are now studding the localities of the poorest neighbourhoods. The object of these schools is, one would hope, to take care of the uncared for, and to give instruction to those who would be otherwise running wild and growing up as a pest to society. A few instances of real reform stand, however, in juxtaposition with many of increased hardihood. I, as a man, seeing those who resort to ragged-schools, cannot understand the propriety of insulting an honest though ragged boy by classing him with a young thief; or the hope of improving the juvenile female character where the sexes are brought in promiscuous contact, and left unrestrained on their way home to say and do everything subversive of the good instruction they have received." [It is right I should here state, that these are my informant's own unbiassed sentiments, delivered without communication with myself on the subject. I say thus much, because, my own opinions being known, it might perhaps appear as if I had exerted some influence over the judgment of my correspondent.]

The most efficient means of moral reform among the street-folk, appear to have been consulted by those who, in Westminster and other places, have opened institutions cheaper, but equally efficient, as the mechanics' institutes of the metropolis. In these, for one farthing per night, three-halfpence a week, or sixpence a month, lectures, exhibitions, newspapers, &c., are available to the very poor. These, and such as these, I humbly but earnestly would commend to public sympathy and support, believing that, under the auspices of heaven, they may 'deliver the outcast and poor' from their own mistaken views and practices, and make them ornamental to that society to which they have long been expensive and dangerous.

Another laudable attempt to improve the condition of the poorer class is by the erection of model lodging-houses. The plan which induced this measure was good, and the success has been tolerable; but I am inclined to think the management of these houses, as well as their internal regulation, is scarcely what their wellmeaning founders designed. The principal of these buildings is in , St. Giles's; the building is spacious and well ventilated, there is a good library, and the class of lodgers very superior to what might be expected This latter circumstance makes the house in question scarcely admissible to the catalogue of reformed lodging-houses for the poor.



The next 'model lodging-house' in importance is the one in Charles-street, Drurylane. This, from personal observation (having lodged in it more than four months)," says my informant, "I can safely say (so far as social reform is concerned), is a miserable failure. The bed-rooms are clean, but the sitting-room, though large, is the scene of dirt and disorder. Noise, confusion, and intemperance abound from morning till night.

There is a model lodging-house in Westminster, the private property of Lord Kinnaird. It is generally well conducted. His lordship's agent visits the place once a week. There is an almost profuse supply of cooking utensils and other similar comforts. There are, moreover, two spacious reading-rooms, abundance of books and periodicals, and every lodger, on payment of 6d., is provided with two lockers—one in his bed-room, and the other below-stairs. The money is returned when the person leaves the house. There is divine service every day, conducted by different missionaries, and twice on Sundays. Attendance on these services is optional; and as there are two ways of ingress and egress, the devout and undevout need not come in contact with each other. The kitchen is very large and detached from the house. The master of this establishment is a man well fitted for his situation. He is a native of Saffron Walden in Essex, where his father farmed his own estate. He received a superior education, and has twice had a fortune at his own disposal. He did dispose of it, however; and 'after many roving years,' as a 'traveller,' 'lurker,' and 'patterer,' he has settled down in his present situation, and maintained it with great credit for a considerable period. The beds in this house are only 3d. per night, and no small praise is due to Lord Kinnaird for the superiority of this 'model' over others of the same denomination.

Such are a few of the principal of these establishments. Giving every credit to their founders, however, for purity and even excellence of motive, I doubt if 'model lodginghouses,' as at present conducted, are likely to accomplish much real good for those who get their living in the streets. Ever and anon they are visited by dukes and bishops, lords and ladies, who march in procession past every table, scrutinise every countenance, make their remarks upon the quantity and quality of food, and then go into the lobby, sign their names, jump into their carriages, and drive away, declaring that 'after all' there is not so much poverty in London as they supposed.

The poor inmates of these houses, moreover," adds my informant, "are kept in bondage, and made to feel that bondage, to the almost annihilation of old English independence. It is thought by the managers of these establishments, and with some share of propriety, that persons who get their living by any honest means may get home and go to bed, according to strict rule, at a certain prescribed hour—in one house it is ten o'clock, in the others eleven. But many of the best-conducted of these poor people, if they be street-folk, are at those very hours in the height of their business, and have therefore to pack up their goods, and carry homeward their cumbersome and perhaps heavy load a distance usually varying from two or three to six or seven miles. If they are a minute beyond time, they are shut out, and have to seek lodgings in a strange place. On their return next morning, they are charged for the bed they were prevented from occupying, and if they demur they are at once expelled! Thus the 'model' lodgers are kept, as it were, in leading-strings, and triumphed over by lords and ladies, masters and matrons, who, while they pique themselves on the efforts they are making to 'better the condition of the poor,' are making them their slaves, and driving them into unreasonable thraldom; while the rich and noble managers, reckless of their own professed benevolence, are making the poor poorer, by adding insult to wretchedness. If my remarks upon these establishments appear," adds the writer of the above remarks, "to be invidious, it is only in 'appearance' that they are so. I give their promoters credit for the best intentions, and, as far as sanitary and moral measures are concerned, I rejoice in the benefit while suggesting the improvement.

Everything even moderately valuable has its counterfeit. We have counterfeit money, counterfeit virtue, counterfeit modesty, counterfeit religion, and last, but not least, 'counterfeit model lodging-houses.' Many private adventurers have thus dignified their domiciles, and some of them highly merit the distinction, while with others it is only a cloak for greater uncleanliness and grosser immorality.

There has come to my knowledge the case of one man, who owns nearly a dozen of these dens of infamy, in one of which a poor girl under fifteen was lately ruined by a grayheaded monster, who, according to the pseudo- 'model' regulations, slept in an adjoining bed. The sham model-houses to which I more particularly allude," says my correspondent, "are in Short's-gardens, Drury-lane; Mill-yard, Cable-street; Keate-street, Flower and Deanstreet, Thrawl-street, Spitalfields; Plough-court, Whitechapel; and Union-court, Holborn. All of these are, without exception, twopenny brothels, head-quarters of low-lived procuresses, and resorts of young thieves and prostitutes. Each of the houses is managed by a 'deputy,' who receives an income of 8s. 2d. per week, out of which he has to provide coke, candles, soap, &c. Of course it is impossible to do this from such small resources, and the men consequently increase their salaries by 'taking in couples for a little while,' purchasing stolen goods, and other nefarious practices. Worse than all, the person owning these houses is a member of a strict Baptist church, and the son of a deceased minister. He lives in great splendour in one of the fashionable streets in Pimlico.

It still remains for me," my correspondent continues, "to contemplate the best agency for promoting the reformation of the poor. The 'City Mission,' if properly conducted, as it brings many good men in close contact with the 'outcast and poor,' might be made productive of real and extensive good. Whether it has done so, or done so to any extent, is perhaps an open question. Our town missionary societies sprang up when our different Christian denominations were not fully alive to the apprehension of their own duties to their poorer brethren, who were lost to principle, conscience, and society. That the object of the London City Mission is most noble, needs no discussion, and admits of no dispute. The method of carrying out this great object is by employing agents, who are required to give their whole time to the work, without engaging in any secular concerns of life; and regarding the operation of the work so done, I must say that great good has resulted from the enterprise. At the commencement of the labours of the Mission in any particular locality great opposition was manifested, and a great amount of prejudice, with habits of the most immoral kind —openly carried on without any public censure—had to be overcome. The statements of the missionaries have from time to time been published, and lie recorded against us as a nation, of the glaring evils and ignorance of a vast portion of our people. It is principally owing to the city missionaries that the other portions of society have known what they now do of the practices and habits of the poor; it is principally due to their exertions that schools have been established in connection with their labours; and the Ragged-schools—one of the principal movements of the last few years—are mainly to be attributed to their efforts.

A man," says my informant in conclusion, "can receive little benefit from a thing he does not understand; the talk which will do for the senate will not do for the cottage, and the argument which will do for the study will not do for the man who spends all his spare time in a public-house. These remarks will apply to the distribution of tracts, which should be couched in the very language that is used by the people to whom they are addressed; then the ideas will penetrate their understanding. Some years back I met with an old sailor in a lodging-house in Westminster, who professed a belief that there had once been a God, but that he was either dead, or grown old and diseased. He did not dispute the inspiration of the Bible. He believed that there had been revelations made to our forefathers when God was alive and active, but that now the Almighty did not 'fash' (trouble) himself about his creatures at all!

I endeavoured to instruct the man in his own rude language and ideas; and after he had thus been made to comprehend the doctrine of the Atonement, he said, 'I see it all plain enough—though I've liked a drop o' drink, and been a devil among the gals, and all that, in my time, if I'll humble myself I can have it all wiped off; and, as the song says, "We may be happy yet," because, as the saying is, it's all square with God A'mighty.' Whether the sailor permanently reformed, I am unable to say, for I lost sight of him shortly after; at any rate he understood the subject, and was thus qualified to profit by it. And what can the teachers of Christianity among the British heathen—herded together in courts and alleys —tell their poor ignorant hearers better than the old sailor's aphorism, 'You have, indeed, gone astray from your greatest and best Friend, but, if you so desire, "You may be happy yet," because it's all square with God A'mighty?'

Before quitting this subject, I would add, if you really wish to do these poor creatures good, you must remember that your instructions are not intended for so-called fashionable society, but for those who have a fashion of their own. If you lose sight of this fact, your words will die away upon the wind, and no echo in the hearts of these poor people will answer your addresses.

The above observations are from the pen of who has not only had the means, but is likewise possessed of the power, of judging as to the effect of the several plans (now in course of operation) for the reformation and improvement of the London poor. I have given the comments in the writer's own language, because I was anxious that the public should know the opinions of the best informed of the street-people themselves on this subject; and I trust I need not say that I have sought in no way to influence my correspondent's judgment.

I now subjoin a communication from a clergyman in the country, touching the character of the tramps and lurkers frequenting his neighbourhood, together with some suggestions concerning the means of improving the condition of the London poor. These I append, because it is advisable that in so difficult a matter the sentiments of every having sufficient experience, judgment, and heart to fit him to speak on the subject should be calmly attended to, so that amid much counsel there may be at least some little wisdom.

The subject of the welfare of our poorer brethren was one which engaged much of my attention twenty years ago, when studying for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, before I entered into orders; and the inquiries, &c., then made by me in reference to London, are recalled by many of your pages. I have pursued the same course, according to my limited means and opportunities (for my benefice, like thousands of others, is but 100l. a-year) in this neighbourhood, and there are very many of my clerical brethren, also, deeply anxious and exerting their means for the country poor. The details given in your numbers as to the country tramps and patterers, I can fully corroborate from personal experience and knowledge, so far as the country part of it. We never give money to beggars here, on any pretence whatever. We never give clothes. We never give relief to a naked or half-naked man if we can avoid it (the imposture is too barefaced). Medicine I do give occasionally to the sick, or pretended sick, and see them take it. Every beggar may have dry bread, or three or four tracts to sell, but never both. I know we are even thus often imposed on; but it is better to run this risk than to turn away, by chance, a starving man; and I do see the mendicants often sit down on a field near, and eat the dry bread with ravenous look. The tramps sometimes come to church on Sunday, and then beg: but we never give even bread on Sunday, because on that day they can get help at the Union workhouse, and it only tempts idlers. Sometimes we are days without a beggar, and then there will be ten to twenty per day, and then all at once the stream stops. There are no tramp lodginghouses in my parish (which is a village of 600 or 700 people). Most of the burglaries hereabouts seem connected with some inroad of tramps into the neighbourhood. The lodginghouses are very bad in some of the small towns near, but somehow the magistrates cannot get them put down. The gentry are alive here to the evil of crowded cottages, &c., and are using efforts to build better and more decent ones. But the evil results from the little landowners, who have an acre or two, or less, and build rows of cottages on them of the scantiest dimensions, at high rents,—ten per cent. on the cost of building. The rents of the gentry and nobility are very moderate to the poor, viz., scarcely two per cent. (beyond the yearly repairs) on the market value of the cottage.

In 1832 I succeeded in getting land allotments for the poor here, and most of the parishes round have followed our example since. The success to the poor has always depended on the rent being a real rent, such as is paid by the land round about, and on the rules of good management and of payment of rent being rigidly enforced.

The character of the poor of England must be raised, as well as their independence. They must not be left to lean on charity. I am sure that the sterling worth of the English character can only be raised by that means to the surface of society among the poor. The "English" is a fine material, but the poor neither value, nor are benefited, by mawkish nonsense or excessive feeling.

I believe this parish was one of the most fearfully demoralized twenty years ago. It was said there was not one young female cottager of virtuous character. There was not one man who was not, or had not been, a drunkard; and theft, fighting, &c., &c., were universal. It is greatly better now—totally different—and I attribute the change to the land allotments, the provident society, the village horticultural society, the lending library, the clothing club, the coal club, the cultivating a taste for music, &c., &c., as subsidiary to the more directly pastoral work of a clergyman, and the schools, &c.

I am probably visionary in my ideas, but the perusal of your pages has led me to think that, were I clergyman of a parish where the street-folks lived, I should aim at some schemes of this style, in addition to the benefit society and loan society (the last most important) as proposed by yourself.

(1) To get music taught at 1/2d. a week, or something of the kind—a ragged-school musicroom, if the people would learn gratis, would be still better—as a step to a "superior" music class at 1d. per week.

(2) To get the poor to adorn their rooms plentifully with a better class of pictures—of places, of people, of natural history, and of historical and religious subjects—just as they might like, and a circulating library for pictures if they preferred change. This I find takes with the village poor. Provide these things excessively cheap for them—at nominal prices, just high enough to prevent them being sold at a profit by the poor.

(3) To establish a monthly or fortnightly sheet—or little book for the poor—at 1/2d., or some trifle, full of pictures such as they would like, but free from impropriety. It might be called 'The Coster's Barrow,' or some name which would take their fancy, and contain pictures for those who cannot read, and reading for those who can. Its contents should be instructive, and yet lively; as for instance, the 'History of London Bridge,' 'History of a Codfish,' 'Travels of Whelks,' 'Dreams of St. Paul's,' (old History of England), 'Voice from the Bottom of the Coal Exchange' (Roman tales), 'True Tale of Trafalgar,' &c., &c. All very short articles, at worse perhaps they might be angry, or praise, or abuse, or do anything, but still would read, or hear, and talk about. If possible, the little work might have a corner called, 'The Next World's Page,' or any name of the kind, with nothing in it but the Lord's Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments, or a Parable, or Miracle, or discourse of Christ's—in the exact words of Scripture—without any commentary; which could neither annoy the Roman Catholics nor others. Those parts in which the Douay version differs from ours might be avoided, and the Romanists be given to understand that they would always be avoided.

The more difficult question of cheap amusements instead of the demoralizing ones now popular, is one which as yet I cannot see my way through—but it is one which must be grappled with if any good is to be done.

I write thus," adds my correspondent, "because I feel you are a fellow-worker—so far as your labours show it, for the cause of God's poor—and therefore will sympathize in anything another worker can say from experience on the same subject.

Such are the opinions of of my correspondents—each looking at the subject from different points of view—the living among the people of whom he treats, and daily witnessing the effects of the several plans now in operation for the moral and physical improvement of the poor, and the other in frequent in-


tercourse with the tramps and lurkers, on their vagrant excursions through the country, as well as with the resident poor of his own parish—the former living in friendly communion with those of whom he writes, and the latter visiting them as their spiritual adviser and material benefactor.

I would, however, before passing to the consideration of the next subject, here pause to draw special attention to the distinctive features of the several classes of people obtaining their livelihood in the streets. These viewed in regard to the which have induced them to adopt this mode of life, may be arranged in different groups, viz.:

(.) Those who are to the streets.

(.) Those who to the streets.

(.) Those who are to the streets.

The class bred to the streets are those whose fathers having been street-sellers before them, have sent them out into the thoroughfares at an early age to sell either watercresses, laven ler, oranges, nuts, flowers, apples, onions, &c., as a means of eking out the family income. Of such street-apprenticeship several notable instances have already been given; and or classes of juvenile street-sellers, as the lucifer match, and the blacking-sellers, still remain to be described. Another class of street-apprentice is to be found in the boys engaged to wheel the barrows of the costers, and who are thus at an early age tutored in all the art and mystery of street traffic, and who rarely abandon it at maturity. These classes may be said to constitute the of the streets—the tribe to the pavingstones—imbibing the habits and morals of the gutters almost with their mothers' milk. To expect that children thus nursed in the lap of the kennel, should when men not bear the impress of the circumstances amid which they have been reared, is to expect to find costermongers heroes instead of ordinary human beings. We might as well blame the various races on the face of the earth for those several geographical peculiarities of taste, which constitute their national characteristics. Surely there is a moral acclimatisation as well as a physical , and the heart may become inured to a particular atmosphere in the same manner as the body; and even as the seed of the apple returns, unless grafted, to its original crab, so does the child, without training, go back to its parent stock—the vagabond savage. For the bred and born street-seller, who inherits a barrow as some do coronets, to be other than he is—it has here been repeatedly enunciated—is no fault of his but of ours, who could and yet not move to make him otherwise. Might not "the finest gentleman in Europe" have been the greatest blackguard in , had he been born to carry a fish-basket on his head instead of a crown? and by a parity of reasoning let the roughest "rough" outside the London fish-market have had his lot in life cast, "by the Grace of God, King, Defender of the Faith," and surely his shoulders would have glittered with diamond epaulettes instead of fish scales.

I say thus much, to impress upon the reader a deep and devout sense, that we who have been appointed to another state, are, by the grace of God, what we are, and from no special merit of our own, to which, in the arrogance of our self-conceit, we are too prone to attribute the social and moral differences of our nature. Go to a lady of fashion and tell her she could have even become a fishfag, and she will think you some mad ethnologist (if indeed she had ever heard of the science). Let me not, however, while thus seeking to impress the reader's mind with a sense of the "antecedents" of the human character, be thought to espouse the doctrine that men are the creatures of events. All I wish to enforce is, that the common causes of the social and moral differences of individuals are to be found in , and —that none of us are entirely proof against the influence of these conditions—the , the , and the elements of our idiosincracy. But, while I admit the full force of external nature upon us all, while I allow that we are, in many respects, merely patients, still I cannot but perceive that, in other respects we are self-agents, moving rather than being moved, by events—often stemming the current of circumstances, and at other times giving to it a special direction rather than being swept along with it. I am conscious that it is this directive and controlling power, not only over external events, but over the events of my own nature, that distinguishes me as well from the brute of the fields as it does my waking from my sleeping moments. I know, moreover, that in proportion as a man is active or passive in his operations, so is his humanity or brutality developed; that true greatness lies in the superiority of the internal forces over the external ones; and that as heroes, or extraordinary men are heroes, because they overcome the sway of or other, or all, of the material influences above-named, so ordinary people are ordinary, simply because they lack energy— principle—will (call it what you please) to overcome the material elements of their nature with the spiritual. And it is precisely because I know this, that I know that those who are bred to the streets must bear about them the moral impress of the kennel and the gutter— unless seek to develope the inward and controlling part of their constitution. If we allow them to remain the creatures of circumstances, to wander through life principleless, purposeless, conscienceless—if it be their lot to be flung on the wide waste of waters without a "guiding star" above, or a rudder or compass within, how can (the well-fed) to blame them because, wanting bread, they prey and live upon their fellow-creatures?

I say thus much, because I feel satisfied that a large portion of the street-folk—and especially those who have been to the business—


are of improvable natures; that they crave knowledge, as starving men for "the staff of life;" that they are most grateful for instruction; that they are as deeply moved by any kindness and sympathy (when once their suspicion has been overcome) as they are excited by any wrong or oppression—and I say it moreover, because I feel thoroughly convinced of the ineffectiveness of the present educational resources for the poor. We think, if we teach them reading and writing, and to chatter a creed, that we have armed them against the temptations, the trials, and the exasperations of life, believing, because we have put the knife and fork in their hands that we have really filled with food the empty bellies of their brains. We exercise their memories, make them human parrots, and then wonder that they do not act as human beings. The intellect, the conscience, the taste, indeed all that refines, enlightens, and ennobles our nature, we leave untouched, to shrivel and wither like unused limbs. The beautiful, the admirable, the true, the right, are as hidden to them as at their day's schooling. We impress them with no purpose, animate them with no principle; they are still the same brute creatures of circumstances—the same passive instruments—human waifs and strays—left to be blown about as the storms of life may whirl them.

Of the group, or those who to the streets, I entertain very different opinions. This class is distinguished from that above mentioned, in being wanderers by choice, rather than wanderers by necessity. In the early chapters of this work, I strove to point out to my readers that the human race universally consisted of distinct classes: the wanderers and the settlers—the eivilized and the savage—those who their food, and those who merely it. I sought further to show, that these classes were not necessarily isolated, but that, on the contrary, almost every civilized tribe had its nomadic race, like parasites, living upon it. These nomadic races I proved, moreover, to have several characteristics common to the class, of the most remarkable of which was, their adoption of a language, with the intent of concealing their designs and exploits. "Strange to say," I then observed, "that despite its privations, dangers, and hardships, those who have once taken to a wandering life rarely abandon it. There are countless instances," I added, "of white men adopting all the usages of an Indian hunter; but there is not example of the Indian hunter or trapper, adopting the steady and regular habits of civilized society." That this passion for "a roving life" (to use the common expression by which many of the street-people themselves designate it), is a marked feature of some natures, there cannot be a doubt in the mind of any who has contemplated even the surface differences of human beings; and nevertheless it is a point to which no social philosopher has yet drawn attention. To my mind, it is essentially the cause of crime. Too restive and volatile to pursue the slow process of production, the wanderers, and consequently the , of subsistence must (in a land where all things are appropriated) live upon the stock of the The nomadic or vagrant class have all an universal type, whether they be the Bushmen of Africa or the "tramps" of our own country; and Mr. Knapp, the intelligent master of the Wandsworth and Clapham Union, to whom I was referred at the time of my investigations touching the subject of vagrancy, as having the greatest experience upon the matter, gave me the following graphic account, which, as I said at the time of its publication, had perhaps never been surpassed as an analysis of the habits and propensities of the vagabond class:

Ignorance," to use the gentleman's own words, "is certainly not their prevailing characteristic: indeed, with a few exceptions, it is the reverse. The vagrants are mostly distinguished by their aversion to continuous labour of any kind. He never knew them to work. Their great inclination is to be on the move, and wandering from place to place, and they appear to receive a great deal of pleasure from the assembly and conversation of the casual ward. They are physically stout and healthy, and certainly not emaciated or sickly. They belong especially to the able-bodied class, being, as he says, full of health and mischief. They are very stubborn and self-willed. They are a most difficult class to govern, and are especially restive under the least restraint; they can ill brook control, and they find great delight in thwarting the authorities. They are particularly fond of amusements of all kinds. He never knew them love reading. They mostly pass under fictitious names. They are particularly distinguished by their libidinous propensities. They are not remarkable for a love of drink. He considers them to be generally a class possessing the keenest intellect, and of a highly enterprising character. They seem to have no sense of danger, and to be especially delighted with such acts as involve any peril. They are likewise characterised by their exceeding love of mischief. They generally are of a most restless and volatile disposition. They have great quickness of perception, but little power of continuous attention or perseverance. They have a keen sense of the ridiculous, and are not devoid of deep feeling. In the summer they make regular tours through the country, visiting all places that they have not seen. They are perfectly organized, so that any regulation affecting their comforts or interests becomes known among the whole body in a remarkably short space of time.

Every day my inquiries add some fresh proof to the justice of the above enumeration of the several phenomena distinguishing this class. To the more sedate portion of the human family, the attractions of "a roving life" are inexplicable. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that, to the more volatile, the mere muscular exercise


and the continual change of scene, together with the wild delight which attends the overcoming of any danger, are sources of pleasure sufficient to compensate for all the privations and hardships attending such a state of existence.

Mr. Ruxton, of the many who have passed from settlers to wanderers, has given us the following description of the enjoyments of a life in the wilderness:

Although liable to an accusation of barbarism, I must confess that the very happiest moments of my life have been spent in the wilderness of the Far West; and I never recall, but with pleasure, the remembrance of my solitary camp in the Bayou Solade, with no friend near me more faithful than my rifle, and no companions more sociable than my good horse and mules, or the attendant cayute which nightly serenaded us. Seldom did I ever wish to change such hours of freedom for all the luxuries of civilized life; and unnatural and extraordinary as it may appear, yet such is the fascination of the life of the mountain hunter, that I believe not one instance could be adduced of even the most polished and civilized of men, who had once tasted the sweets of its attendant liberty and freedom from every worldly care, not regretting the moment when he exchanged it for the monotonous life of the settlements, nor sighing and sighing again once more to partake of its pleasures and allurements.

To this class of voluntary wanderers belong those who to the streets, glad to exchange the wearisomeness and restraint of a settled occupation for the greater freedom and license of a nomad mode of life. As a class, they are essentially the non-working, preferring, as I said before, to , rather than , what they eat. If they sell, they do so because for sundry reasons they fear to infringe the law, and as traders their transactions certainly are not marked by an excess of honesty. I am not aware that any of them are professional thieves (for these are the more daring portion of the same vagrant fraternity), though the majority assuredly are habitual cheats—delighting in proving their cleverness by imposing upon simple-minded citizens—viewing all society as composed of the same dishonest elements as their own tribes, and looking upon all sympathy and sacrifice, even when made for their own benefit, as some "artful dodge" or trick, by which to snare them.

It should be remembered, however, that there are many grades of vagrants among us, and that though they are all essentially nonpro- ducing and, consequently, predatory, still many are in no way distinguished from a large portion of even our wealthy tradesmen—our puffing grocers and slopsellers. To attempt to improve the condition of the voluntary street-sellers by teaching of any kind, would be to talk to the wind. We might as well preach to Messrs. Moses, Nicol, and Co., in the hope of Christianising them. Those who to the streets are , like those who are to it, an uneducated class. They are intelligent and "knowing" enough, and it is this development of their intellect at the expense of their conscience which gives rise to that excessive admiration of mere cleverness, which makes skill the sole standard of excellence with them. They approve, admire, venerate nothing but what is ingenious. Wrong with them is mere folly—right, cunning; and those who think the simple cultivation of the intellect the great social panacea of the time, have merely to study the characteristics of this class to see how a certain style of education can breed the very vice it seeks to destroy. Years ago, I wrote and printed the following passage, and every year since my studies have convinced me more and more of its truth:

Man, if deprived of his intellect, would be the most miserable and destitute,—if of his sympathy, the most savage and cunning, of all the brute creation: consequently, we may infer that, according as solely the one or the other of these powers is expanded in us, so shall we approximate in our nature either to the instinct of the brute or to the artifice of the demon, and that only when they are developed in an equal degree, can Man be said to be educated as Man. We should remember that the intellect simply executes; it is either the selfish or moral propensity that designs. The intellectual principle enables us to perceive the means of attaining any particular object; it is the selfish or else the moral principle in us, that causes us originally to desire that object. The two latter principles are the springs, the former is merely the instrument of all human action. They are masters, whereas the intellect is but the servant of the will; and hence it is evident that in proportion as the one or the other of these two predominant principles—as either the selfish or the moral disposition is educed in man, and thus made the chief director and stimulus of the intellectual power within him, so will the cultivation of that power be the source of happiness or misery to himself and others.

The and last class, namely, those who are to the streets, is almost as large as any. Luckily, those who to that mode of life, are by far the least numerous portion of the street-folk; and if those who are bred to the business are worthy of our pity, assuredly those who are driven to it are equally, if not more, so. With some who are deprived of the means of obtaining a maintenance for themselves, the sale of small articles in the streets may, perhaps, be an excuse for begging; but in most cases, I am convinced it is adopted from a horror of the workhouse, and a disposition to do, at least, for the food they eat. Often is it the last struggle of independence—the desire to give something like an equivalent for what they receive. Over and over again have I noticed this honourable pride, even in individuals who, from some privations or affliction that rendered them utterly incompetent to labour for their living, had a just claim on our sympathies and assistance. The blind—the cripple—the maimed—


the very old—the very young—all have generally adopted a street-life, because they could do nothing else. With many it is the last resort of all. The smallness of the stock-money required—for a shilling, it has been shown, is sufficient to commence several street-trades—is of the principal causes of so many of those who are helpless taking to the street-traffic. Moreover, the severity of the Poor-laws and the degradation of pauperism, and the aversion to be thought a common beggar by all, except the very lowest, are, I have no doubt, strong incentives to this course. There are many callings which are peculiar, as being followed principally by the disabled. The majority of the blind are musicians, or boot-lace or tapesellers. The very old are sellers of watercresses, lucifers, pincushions, ballads, and pins and needles, stay-laces, and such small articles as are light to carry, and require but a few pence for the outlay. The very young are sellers of flowers, oranges, nuts, onions, blacking, lucifers, and the like. Many of those who have lost an arm, or a leg, or a hand, turn showmen, or become sellers of small metal articles, as knives or nutmeg-graters; and many who have been born cripples may be seen in the streets struggling for self-support. But all who are to the streets have not been physically for labour. Some have been from their position as tradesmen or shopmen; others, again, have been gentlemen's servants and clerks; all, dragged down by a series of misfortunes, sometimes beyond their control, and sometimes brought about by their own imprudence or sluggishness. As we have seen, many are reduced to a state of poverty by long illness, and on their recovery are unable, from want of clothes or friends, to follow any other occupation.

But a still larger class than all, are the beaten-out mechanics and artizans, who, from want of employment in their own trade, take to make up small things (as clothes-horses, tinware, cutlery, brushes, pails, caps, and bonnets) on their own account. The number of artizans in the London streets speaks volumes for the independence of the working-men of this country; as well as for the difficulty of their obtaining employment at their own trades. Those who are unacquainted with the sterling pride of the destitute English mechanic, know not what he will suffer before becoming an inmate of a workhouse, or sinking to the debasement of a beggar. That handicraftsmen do occasionally pass into "lurkers" I know well; but these, I am convinced, have gradually been warped to the life by a long course of tramping, aided by the funds of their societies, and thus becoming disused to labour, have, after forfeiting all claims upon the funds of their trade, adopted beggary as a means of subsistence. But, that this is the exception rather than the rule, the following is sufficient to show:

The destitute mechanics," said the Master of the Wandsworth and Clapham Union to me, "are entirely a different class from the regular vagrants; they have different habits, and indeed different features. During the whole of my experience I never knew a distressed artizan who applied for a night's shelter, commit an act of theft; and I have seen them," he added, "in the last stage of destitution. Occasionally they have sold the shirt and waistcoat off their backs before they applied for admittance into the workhouse, while some of them have been so weak from long starvation that they could scarcely reach the gate, and indeed had to be kept for several days in the Infirmary before their strength was recruited sufficiently to continue their journey." "The poor mechanic," said another of my informants, "will sit in the casual ward like a lost man, scared. Its shocking to think a decent mechanic's houseless. When he's beat out he's like a bird out of a cage; he doesn't know where to go, or how to get a bit.

I shall avail myself of another occasion to discuss the means of improving the condition of the street-people.

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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