London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry

1851

Of the Uses of Second-Hand Garments.

I HAVE now to describe the uses to which the several kinds of garments which constitute the commerce of the Old Clothes Exchange are devoted, whether it be merely in the re-sale of the apparel, to be worn in its original form or in a repaired or renovated form; or whether it be "worked up" into other habiliments, or be useful for the making of other descriptions of woollen fabrics; or else whether it be fit merely for its last stages—the rag-bag for the paper-maker, or the manure heap for the hop-grower.

Each "left-off" garment has its peculiar after , according to its material and condition. The practised eye of the old clothes man at once embraces every capability of the apparel, and the amount which these capabilities will realize; whether they be woollen, linen, cotton, leathern, or silken goods; or whether they be articles which cannot be classed under any of those designations, such as macintoshes and furs.

A coat is the most serviceable of any -hand clothing, originally good. It can be re-cuffed, re-collared, or the skirts re-lined with new or old silk, or with a substitute for silk. It can be "restored" if the seams be white and the general appearance what is best understood by the expressive word "seedy." This restoration is a sort of re-dyeing, or rather re-colouring, by the application of gall and logwood with a small portion of copperas. If the under sleeve be worn, as it often is by those whose avocations are sedentary, it is renewed, and frequently with a -hand piece of cloth "to match," so that there is no perceptible difference between the renewal and the other parts. Many an honest artisan in this way becomes possessed of his Sunday frock-coat, as does many a smarter clerk or shopman, impressed with a regard to his personal appearance.

In the last century, I may here observe, and perhaps in the early part of the present, when woollen cloth was much dearer, much more substantial, and therefore much more durable, it was common for economists to have a good coat "turned." It was taken to pieces by the tailor and re-made, the inner part becoming the outer. This mode prevailed alike in France and England; for Moliere makes his miser, , magnanimously resolve to incur the cost of his many-years'--old coat being "turned," for the celebration of his expected marriage with a young and wealthy bride. This way of dealing with a -hand garment is not so general now as it was fermerly in London, nor is it in the country.

If the surtout be incapable of restoration to the appearance of a "respectable" garment, the skirts are sold for the making of cloth caps; or for the material of boys' or "youths'" waistcoats; or for "poor country curates' gaiters; but not so much now as they once were. The poor journeymen parsons," I was told, "now goes for the new slops; they're often green, and is had by 'vertisements, and bills, and them books about fashions which is all over both country and town. Do you know, sir, why them there books is always made so small? The leaves is about inches square. That's to prevent their being any use as waste paper. I'll back a coat such as is sometimes sold by a gentleman's servant to wear out new slops."

are things of as ready sale as any kind of old garments. If good, or even reparable, they are in demand both for the home and foreign trades, as cloaks; if too far gone, which is but rarely the case, they are especially available for the same purposes as the surtout. The same may be said of the great-coat.

are far less useful, as if cleaned up and repaired they are not in demand among the working classes, and the clerks and shopmen on small salaries are often tempted by the price, I was told, to buy some wretched new slop thing rather than a superior coat -hand. The dress-coats, however, are used for caps. Sometimes a coat, for which the collector may have given , is cut up for the repairs of better garments.

are re-seated and repaired where the material is strong enough; and they are, I am informed, now about the only habiliment which is ever "turned," and that but exceptionally. The repairs to trousers are more readily effected than those to coats, and trousers are freely bought by the collectors, and as freely re-bought by the public.

—I still speak of woollen fabrics— are sometimes used in cap-making, and were used in gaiter-making. But generally, at the present time, the worn edges are cut away, the buttons renewed or replaced by a new set, sometimes of glittering glass, the button-holes repaired or their jaggedness gummed down, and so the waistcoat is reproduced as a waistcoat, a size smaller. Sometimes a "vest," as waistcoats are occasionally called, is used by the cheap boot-makers for the "legs" of a woman's cloth boots, either laced or buttoned, but not a quarter as much as they would be, I was told, if the buttons and button-holes of the waistcoat would "do again" in the boot.

Nor is the woollen garment, if too thin, too worn, or too rotten to be devoted to any of the uses I have specified, flung away as worthless. To

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the traders in -hand apparel, or in the remains of -hand apparel, a dust-hole is an unknown receptacle. The woollen rag, for so it is then considered, when unravelled can be made available for the manufacture of cheap yarns, being mixed with new wool. It is more probable, however, that the piece of woollen fabric which has been rejected by those who make or mend, and who must make or mend so cheaply that the veriest vagrant may be their customer, is formed not only into a new material, but into a material which sometimes is made into a new garment. These garments are inferior to those woven of new wool, both in look and wear; but in some articles the re-manufacture is beautiful. The fabric thus snatched, as it were, from the ruins of cloth, is known as shoddy, the chief seat of manufacture being in Dewsbury, a small town in Yorkshire. The old material, when duly prepared, is torn into wool again by means of fine machinery, but the recovered wool is shorter in its fibre and more brittle in its nature; it is, indeed, more a woollen pulp than a wool.

Touching this peculiar branch of manufacture, I will here cite from the a brief description of a Shoddy Mill, so that the reader may have as comprehensive a knowledge as possible of the several uses to which his leftoff clothes may be put.

"The small town of Dewsbury holds, in the woollen district, very much the same position which Oldham does in the cotton country—the spinning and preparing of waste and refuse materials. To this stuff the name of "shoddy" is given, but the real and orthodox "shoddy" is a production of the woollen districts, and consists of the -hand wool manufactured by the tearing up, or rather the grinding, of woollen rags by means of coarse willows, called devils; the operation of which sends forth choking clouds of dry pungent dirt and floating fibres—the real and original "devil's dust." Having been, by the agency of the machinery in question, reduced to something like the original raw material, fresh wool is added to the pulp in different proportions, according to the quality of the stuff to be manufactured, and the mingled material is at length reworked in the usual way into a little serviceable cloth.

There are some shoddy mills in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield, but the mean little town of Dewsbury may be taken as the metropolis of the manufacture. Some mills are devoted solely to the sorting, preparing, and grinding of rags, which are worked up in the neighbouring factories. Here great bales, choke full of filthy tatters, lie scattered about the yard, while the continual arrival of loaded waggons keeps adding to the heap. A glance at the exterior of these mills shows their character. The walls and part of the roof are covered with the thick clinging dust and fibre, which ascends in choky volumes from the open doors and glassless windows of the ground floor, and which also pours forth from a chimney, constructed for the purpose, exactly like smoke. The mill is covered as with a mildewy fungus, and upon the gray slates of the roof the frowzy deposit is often not less than inches in depth.

In the upper story of these mills the rags are stored. A great ware-room is piled in many places from the floor to the ceiling with bales of woollen rags, torn strips and tatters of every colour peeping out from the bursting depositories. There is hardly a country in Europe which does not contribute its quota of material to the shoddy manufacturer. Rags are brought from France, Germany, and in great quantities from Belgium. Denmark, I understand, is favourably looked upon by the tatter merchants, being fertile in morsels of clothing, of fair quality. Of domestic rags, the Scotch bear off the palm; and possibly no will be surprised to hear, that of all rags Irish rags are the most worn, the filthiest, and generally the most unprofitable. The gradations of value in the world of rags are indeed remarkable. I was shown rags worth per ton, and rags worth only The best class is formed of the remains of fine cloth, the produce of which, eked out with a few bundles of fresh wool, is destined to go forth to the world again as broad cloth, or at all events as pilot cloth. Fragments of damask and skirts of merino dresses form the staple of middle-class rags; and even the very worst bales —they appear unmitigated mashes of frowzy filth—afford here and there some fragments of calico, which are wrought up into brown paper. The refuse of all, mixed with the stuff which even the shoddy-making devil rejects, is packed off to the agricultural districts for use as manure, to fertilize the hop-gardens of Kent.

Under the rag ware-room is the sorting and picking room. Here the bales are opened, and their contents piled in close, poverty-smelling masses, upon the floor. The operatives are entirely women. They sit upon low stools, or half sunk and half enthroned amid heaps of the filthy goods, busily employed in arranging them according to the colour and the quality of the morsels, and from the more pretending quality of rags carefully ripping out every particle of cotton which they can detect. Piles of rags of different sorts, dozens of feet high, are the obvious fruits of their labour. All these women are over eighteen years of age, and the wages which they are paid for ten hours' work are 6s. per week. They look squalid and dirty enough; but all of them chatter and several sing over their noisome labour. The atmosphere of the room is close and oppressive; and although no particularly offensive smell is perceptible, there is a choky, mildewy sort of odour—a hot, moist exhalation—arising from the sodden smouldering piles, as the workwomen toss armfuls of rags from one heap to another. This species of work is the lowest and foulest which any phase of the factory system can show.

The devils are upon the ground floor. The choking dust bursts out from door and window, and it is not until a minute or so that the visitor can see the workmen moving amid the clouds, catching up armfuls of the sorted rags and tossing them into the machine to be torn into fibry frag- ments by the whirling revolutions of its teeth. The place in which this is done is a large bare room—the uncovered beams above, the rough stone walls, and the woodwork of the unglazed windows being as it were furred over with clinging woolly matter. On the floor, the dust and coarse filaments lie as if 'it had been snowing snuff.' The workmen are coated with the flying powder. They wear bandages over their mouths, so as to prevent as much as possible the inhalation of the dust, and seem loath to remove the protection for a moment. The rag grinders, with their squalid, dust-strewn garments, powdered to a dull grayish hue, and with their bandages tied over the greater part of their faces, move about like reanimated mummies in their swathings, looking most ghastly. The wages of these poor creatures do not exceed 7s. or 8s. a week. The men are much better paid, none of them making less than 18s. a week, and many earning as much as 22s. Not one of them, however, will admit that he found the trade injurious. The dust tickles them a little, they say, that is all. They feel it most of a Monday morning, after being all Sunday in the fresh air. When they first take to the work it hurts their throats a little, but they drink mint tea, and that soon cures them. They are all more or less subject to 'shoddy fever,' they confess, especially after tenting the grinding of the very dusty sorts of stuff—worsted stockings, for example. The shoddy fever is a sort of stuffing of the head and nose, with sore throat, and it sometimes forces them to give over work for two or three days, or at most a week; but the disorder, the workmen say, is not fatal, and leaves no particularly bad effects.

In spite of all this, however, it is manifestly impossible for human lungs to breathe under such circumstances without suffering. The visitor exposed to the atmosphere for ten minutes experiences an unpleasant choky sensation in the throat, which lasts all the remainder of the day. The rag grinders, moreover, according to the best accounts, are very subject to asthmatic complaints, particularly when the air is dull and warm. The shoddy fever is said to be like a bad cold, with constant acrid running from the nose, and a great deal of expectoration. It is when there is a particularly dirty lot of rags to be ground that the people are usually attacked in this way, but the fever seldom keeps them more than two or three days from their work.

In other mills the rags are not only ground, but the shoddy is worked up into coarse bad cloth, a great proportion of which is sent to America for slave clothing (and much now sold to the slopshops).

After the rags have been devilled into shoddy, the remaining processes are much the same, although conducted in a coarser way, as those performed in the manufacture of woollen cloth. The weaving is, for the most part, carried on at the homes of the workpeople. The domestic arrangements consist, in every case, of two tolerably large rooms, one above the other, with a cellar beneath—a plan of construction called in York- shire a "house and a chamber." The chamber has generally a bed amid the looms. The weavers complain of irregular work and diminished wages. Their average pay, one week with another, with their wives to wind for them—i. e., to place the thread upon the bobbin which goes into the shuttle —is hardly so much as 10s. a week. They work long hours, often fourteen per day. Sometimes the weaver is a small capitalist with perhaps half a dozen looms, and a hand-jenny for spinning thread, the workpeople being within his own family as regular apprentices and journeymen.

Dr. Hemingway, a gentleman who has a large practice in the shoddy district, has given the following information touching the "shoddy fever":—

The disease popularly known as 'shoddy fever,' and which is of frequent occurrence, is a species of bronchitis, caused by the irritating effect of the floating particles of dust upon the mucous membrane of the trachea and its ramifications. In general, the attack is easily cured—particularly if the patient has not been for any length of time exposed to the exciting cause—by effervescing saline draughts to allay the symptomatic febrile action, followed by expectorants to relieve the mucous membrane of the irritating dust; but a long continuance of employment in the contaminated atmosphere, bringing on as it does repeated attacks of the disease, is too apt, in the end, to undermine the constitution, and produce a train of pectoral diseases, often closing with pulmonary consumption. Ophthalmic attacks are by no means uncommon among the shoddy-grinders, some of whom, however, wear wire-gauze spectacles to protect the eyes. As regards the effect of the occupation upon health, it may shorten life by about five years on a rough average, taking, of course, as the point of comparison, the average longevity of the district in which the manufacture is carried on.

"Shoddy fever" is, in fact, a modification of the very fatal disease induced by what is called "dry grinding" at Sheffield; but of course the particles of woollen filament are less fatal in their influence than the floating steel dust produced by the operation in question.

At time shoddy cloth was not good and firm enough to be used for other purposes than such as padding by tailors, and in the inner linings of carriages, by coach-builders. It was not used for purposes which would expose it to stress, but only to a moderate wear or friction. Now shoddy, which modern improvements have made susceptible of receiving a fine dye (it always looked a dead colour at period), is made into cloth for soldiers' and sailors' uniforms and for pilot-coats; into blanketing, drugget, stair and other carpeting, and into those beautiful table-covers, with their rich woollen look, on which elegantly drawn and elaborately coloured designs are printed through the application of aquafortis. Thus the rags which the beggar could no longer hang about him to cover his nakedness, may be a component of the soldier's or sailor's uniform, the carpet of a palace, or the library table-cover of a prime-minister.

There is yet another use for old woollen clothes.

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What is not good for shoddy is good for manure, and more especially for the manure prepared by the agriculturists in Kent, Sussex, and Herefordshire, for the culture of a difficult plant—hops. It is good also for corn land (judiciously used), so that we again have the remains of the old garment in our beer or our bread.

I have hitherto spoken of fabrics. The garments of other materials are seldom diverted from their original use, for as long as they will hold together they can be sold for exportation to Ireland, though of course for very trifling amounts.

The black and —the latter now so commonly worn—are almost always resold as waistcoats, and oft enough, when rebound and rebuttoned, make a very respectable looking garment. Nothing sells better to the working-classes than a -hand vest of the materials of satin or velvet. If the satin, however, be so worn and frayed that mending is impossible, the back, if not in the same plight, is removed for rebacking of any waistcoat, and the satin thrown away, of the few things which in its last stage is utterly valueless. It is the same with silk waistcoats, and for the most part with velvet, but a velvet waistcoat may be thrown in the refuse heap with the woollen rags for manure. The coloured waistcoats of silk or velvet are dealt with in the same way. At time, when under-waistcoats were worn, the edges being just discernible, quantities were made out of the full waistcoats where a sufficiency of the stuff was unworn. This fashion is now becoming less and less followed, and is principally in vogue in the matter of white under-waistcoats. For the jean and other vests—even if a mixture of materials— there is the same use as what I have described of the black satin, and failing that, they are generally transferable to the rag-bag.

have become in greater demand than ever among the street-buyers since the introduction into the London trade, and to so great an extent, of the silk, velvet, French, or Parisian hats. The construction of these hats is the same, and the easy way in which the hat-bodies are made, has caused a number of poor persons, with no previous knowledge of hat-making, to enter into the trade. "There's hundreds starving at it," said a hatmanufacturer to me, "in , Lock'sfields, and the Borough; ay, hundreds." This facility in the making of the bodies of the new silk hats is quite as available in the restoration of the bodies of the old hats, as I shall show from the information of a highly-intelligent artisan, who told me that of all people he disliked rich slop-sellers; but there was another class which he disliked more, and that was rich slop-buyers.

The bodies of the stuff or beaver hats of the best quality are made of a firm felt, wrought up of fine wool, rabbits' hair, &c., and at once elastic, firm, and light. Over this is placed the nap, prepared from the hair of the beaver. The bodies of the silk hats are made of calico, which is blocked (as indeed is the felt) and stiffened and pasted up until "only a hat-maker can tell," as it was ex- pressed to me, "good sound bodies from bad; and the slop-masters go for the cheap and bad." The covering is not a nap of any hair, but is of silk or velvet (the words are used indifferently in the trade) manufactured for the purpose. Thus if an old hat be broken, or rather crushed out of all shape, the body can be glazed and sized up again so as to suit the slop hatter, if sold to him as a body, and that whether it be of felt or calico. If, however, the silk cover of the hat be not worn utterly away, the body, without stripping off the cover, can be re-blocked and re-set, and the silkvelvet trimmed up and "set," or re-dyed, and a decent hat is sometimes produced by these means. More frequently, however, a steeping shower of rain destroys the whole fabric.

are rarely brought into this trade.

Such things as , and what is sometimes called "inner wear," sell very well when washed up, patched—for patches do not matter in a garment hidden from the eye when worn—or mended in any manner. Flannel waistcoats and drawers are often in demand by the street-sellers and the street-labourers, as they are considered "good against the rheumatics." These habiliments are often sold unrepaired, having been merely washed, as the poor men's wives may be competent to execute an easy bit of tailoring; or perhaps the men themselves, if they have been reared as mechanics; and they believe (perhaps erroneously) that so they obtain a better bargain. are repaired and sold as shirts, or for old linen; the trade is not large.

are darned up, but only when there is little to be done in darning, as they are retailed at the pair. The sale is not very great, for the supply is not. "Lots might be sold," I was informed, "if they was to be had, for them flash coves never cares what they wears under their Wellingtons."

is sold to be re-worn in its original form quite as frequently, or more frequently, than it is mended up by the sellers; the purchasers often preferring to make the alterations themselves. A gown of stuff, cotton, or any material, if full-sized, is frequently bought and altered to fit a smaller person or a child, and so the worn parts may be cut away. It is very rarely also that the apparel of the middle-classes is made into any other article, with the sole exception, perhaps, of If a silk gown be not too much frayed, it is easily cleaned and polished up, so as to present a new gloss, and is sold readily enough; but if it be too far gone for this process, the old clothes renovator is often puzzled as to what uses to put it. A portion of a black silk dress may be serviceable to re-line the cuffs of the better kind of coats. There is seldom enough, I was told, to re-line the skirts of a surtout, and it is difficult to match old silk; a man used to buying a good -hand surtout, I was assured, would soon detect a difference in the shade of the silk, if the skirts were re-lined from the remains of different gowns, and say, "I'll not give any such money for that piebald thing."

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Skirts may be sometimes re-lined this way on the getting up of frock coats, but very rarely. There is the same difficulty in using a coloured silk gown for the re-covering of a parasol. The quantity may not be enough for the gores, and cannot be matched to satisfy the eye, for the buyer of a silk parasol even in may be expected to be critical. When there is enough of good silk for the purposes I have mentioned, then, it must be borne in mind, the gown may be more valuable, because saleable to be re-worn as a gown. It is the same with satin dresses, but only a few of them, in comparison with the silk, are to be seen at the Old Clothes' Exchange.

Among the purposes to which portions of worn silk gowns are put are the making of spencers for little girls (usually by the purchasers, or by the dress-maker, who goes out to work for a day), of children's bonnets, for the lining of women's bonnets, the re-lining of muffs and furtippets, the patching of quilts (once a rather fashionable thing), the inner lining or curtains to a book-case, and other household appliances of a like kind. This kind of silk, too, no matter in how minute pieces, is bought by the fancy cabinetmakers (the small masters) for the lining of their dressing-cases and work-boxes supplied to the warehouses, but these poor artisans have neither means nor leisure to buy such articles of those connected with the traffic of the Old Clothes' Exchange, but must purchase it, of course at an enhanced price, of a broker who has bought it at the Exchange, or in some establishment connected with it. The -hand silk is bought also for the dressing of dolls for the toy-shops, and for the lining of some toys. The hat-manufacturers of the cheaper sort, at time, used -hand silk for the padded lining of hats, but such is rarely the practice now. It was once used in the same manner by the bookbinders for lining the inner part of the back of a book. If there be any part of silk in a dress not suitable for any of these purposes it is wasted, or what is accounted wasted, although it may have been in wear for years. It is somewhat remarkable, that while woollen and even cotton goods can be "shoddied"— and if they are too rotten for that, they are made available for manure, or in the manufacture of paper —no use is made of the refuse of silk. Though of the most beautiful and costly of textile fabrics, its "remains" are thrown aside, when a beggar's rags are preserved and made profitable. There can be little doubt that silk, like cotton, could be shoddied, but whether such a speculation would be remunerative or not is no part of my present inquiry.

There is not, as I shall subsequently show, so great an exportation of female attire as might be expected in comparison with male apparel; the poorer classes of the metropolis being too anxious to get any decent gown when within their slender means.

, unless of superior make and in good condition, are little bought by the classes who are the chief customers of the old-clothes' men in London. I did not hear any reason for this from any of the old-clothes' people. man thought, if there was a family of daughters, the stays which had became too small for the elder girl were altered for the younger, and that poor women liked to mend their old stays as long as they would stick together. Perhaps, there may be some repugnance —especially among the class of servant-maids who have not had "to rough it"—to wear streetcollected stays; a repugnance not, perhaps, felt in the wearing of a gown which probably can be washed, and is not worn so near the person. The stays that are collected are for the most part exported, a great portion being sent to Ireland. If they are "worn to rags," the bones are taken out; but in the slop-made stays, it is not whalebone, but wood that is used to give, or preserve the due shape of the corset, and then the stays are valueless.

are of great sale both for home wear and foreign trade. In the trade of women's stockings there has been in the last or years a considerable change. Before that period black stockings were worn by servant girls, and the families of working people and small tradesmen; they "saved washing." Now, even in , women's stockings are white, or "mottled," or some light-coloured, very rarely black. I have heard this change attributed to what is rather vaguely called "pride." May it not be owing to a more cultivated sense of cleanliness? The women's stockings are sold darned and undarned, and at (retail) prices from to ; or being the most frequent prices.

The and other under clothing are not much bought -hand by the poor women of London, and are exported.

used to be sold -hand, I was told, both in the streets and the shops, but long ago, and before muslin and needlework were so cheap.

I heard of article which formerly supplied considerable "stuff" (the word used) for secondhand purposes, and was a part, but never a considerable part, of the trade at Rag-fair. These were the "," or large, firm, solid cushions which were attached to a saddle, so that a horse "carried double." years ago the farmer and his wife, of the more prosperous order, went regularly to church and market on horse, a pillion sustaining the good dame. To the best sort of these pillions was appended what was called the "pillion cloth," often of a fine, but thin quality, which being really a sort of housing to the horse, cut straight and with few if any seams, was an excellent material for what I am informed was formerly called "making and mending." The colour was almost exclusively drab or blue. The pillion on which the squire's lady rode—and Sheridan makes his deny "the pillion and the coach-horse," the butler being her cavalier—was a perfect piece of upholstery, set off with lace and fringes, which again were excellent for -hand sale. Such a means of conveyance may still linger in some secluded country parts, but it is generally speaking obsolete.

and are not to be had, I am told, in sufficient quantity for the demand from the

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slop-shops, the "translators," and the -hand dealers. Great quantities of -hand boots and shoes are sent to Ireland to be "translated" there. Of all the wares in this traffic, the clothing for the feet is what is most easily prepared to cheat the eye of the inexperienced, the imposition having the aids of heel-ball, &c., to fill up crevices, and of blacking to hide defects. Even when the boots or shoes are so worn out that no will put a pair on his feet, though purchaseable for about , the insoles are ripped out; the soles, if there be a sufficiency of leather, are shaped into insoles for children's shoes, and these insoles are sold in bundles of dozen pairs at the bundle. So long as the boot or shoe be not in many holes, it can be cobblered up in or elsewhere. Of the "translating" business transacted in those localities I had the following interesting account from a man who was lately engaged in it.

Translation, as I understand it (said my informant), is this—to take a worn, old pair of shoes or boots, and by repairing them make them appear as if left off with hardly any wear—as if they were only soiled. I'll tell you the way they manage in Monmouth-street. There are in the trade 'horses' heads'—a 'horse's head' is the foot of a boot with sole and heel, and part of a front— the back and the remainder of the front having been used for refooting boots. There are also 'stand-bottoms' and 'lick-ups.' A 'stand-bottom' is where the shoe appears to be only soiled, and a 'lick-up' is a boot or shoe re-lasted to take the wrinkles out, the edges of the soles having been rasped and squared, and then blacked up to hide blemishes, and the bottom covered with a 'smother,' which I will describe. There is another article called a 'flyer,' that is, a shoe soled without having been welted. In Monmouth-street a 'horse's head' is generally retailed at 2s. 6d., but some fetch 4s. 6d.—that's the extreme price. They cost the translator from 1s. a dozen pair to 8s., but those at 8s. are good, and are used for the making up of Wellington boots. Some 'horses' heads'—such as are cut off that the boots may be re-footed on account of old fashion, or a misfit, when hardly worn—fetch 2s. 6d. a pair, and they are made up as new-footed boots, and sell from 10s. to 15s. The average price of feet (that is, for the 'horse's head,' as we call it) is 4d., and a pair of backs say 2d.; the back is attached loosely by chair stitching, as it is called, to the heel, instead of being stitched to the insole, as in a new boot. The wages for all this is 1s. 4d. in Monmouth-street (in Union-street, Borough, 1s. 6d.); but I was told by a master that he had got the work done in Gray's-inn-lane at 9d. Put it, however, at 1s. 4d. wages—then, with 4d. and 2d. for the feet and back, we have 1s. 10d. outlay (the workman finds his own grindery), and 8d. profit on each pair sold at a rate of 2s. 6d. Some masters will sell from 70 to 80 pairs per week: that's under the mark; and that's in 'horses' heads' alone. One man employs, or did lately employ, seven men on 'horses' heads' solely. The profit generally, in fair shops, in 'stand-bottoms,' is from 1s. 6d. to 2s. per pair, as they sell generally at 3s. 6d. One man takes, or did take, 100l. in a day (it was calculated as an average) over the counter, and all for the sort of shoes I have described. The profit of a 'lick-up' is the same as that of a 'stand-bottom.' To show the villanous way the 'stand-bottoms' are got up, I will tell you this. You have seen a broken upper-leather; well, we place a piece of leather, waxed, underneath the broken part, on which we set a few stitches through and through. When dry and finished, we take what is called a 'softheel-ball' and 'smother' it over, so that it sometimes would deceive a currier, as it appears like the upper leather. With regard to the bottoms, the worn part of the sole is opened from the edge, a piece of leather is made to fit exactly into the hole or worn part, and it is then nailed and filed until level. Paste is then applied, and 'smother' put over the part, and that imitates the dust of the road. This 'smother' is obtained from the dust of the room. It is placed in a silk stocking, tied at both ends, and then shook through, just like a powder-puff, only we shake at both ends. It is powdered out into our leather apron, and mixed with a certain preparation which I will describe to you (he did so), but I would rather not have it published, as it would lead others to practise similar deceptions. I believe there are about 2000 translators, so you may judge of the extent of the trade; and translators are more constantly employed than any other branch of the business. Many make a great deal of money. A journeyman translator can earn from 3s. to 4s. a day. You can give the average at 20s. a week, as the wages are good. It must be good, for we have 2s. for soling, heeling, and welting a pair of boots; and some men don't get more for making them. Monmouth-street is nothing like what it was; as to curious old garments, that's all gone. There's not one English master in the translating business in Monmouth-street—they are all Irish; and there is now hardly an English workman there— perhaps not one. I believe that all the tradesmen in Monmouth-street make their workmen lodge with them. I was lodging with one before I married a little while ago, and I know the system to be the same now as it was then, unless, indeed, it be altered for the worse. To show how disgusting these lodgings must be, I will state this:—I knew a Roman Catholic, who was attentive to his religious duties, but when pronounced on the point of death, and believing firmly that he was dying, he would not have his priest administer extreme unction, for the room was in such a filthy and revolting state he would not allow him to see it. Five men worked and slept in that room, and they were working and sleeping there in the man's illness— all the time that his life was despaired of. He was ill nine weeks. Unless the working shoemaker lodged there he would not be employed. Each man pays 2s. a week. I was there once, but I couldn't sleep in such a den; and five nights out of the seven I slept at my mother's, but my lodging had to be paid all the same. These men (myself excepted) were all Irish, and all tee- totallers, as was the master. How often was the room cleaned out, do you say? Never, sir, never. The refuse of the men's labour was generally burnt, smudged away in the grate, smelling terribly. It would stifle you, though it didn't me, because I got used to it. I lodged in Union-street once. My employer had a room known as the 'barracks;' every lodger paid him 2s. 6d. a week. Five men worked and slept there, and three were sitters—that is, men who paid 1s. a week to sit there and work, lodging elsewhere. A little before that there were six sitters. The furniture was one table, one chair, and two beds. There was no place for purposes of decency: it fell to bits from decay, and was never repaired. This barrack man always stopped the 2s. 6d. for lodging, if he gave you only that amount of work in the week. The beds were decent enough; but as to Monmouth-street! you don't see a clean sheet there for nine weeks; and, recollect, such snobs are dirty fellows. There was no chair in the Monmouth-street room that I have spoken of, the men having only their seats used at work; but when the beds were let down for the night, the seats had to be placed in the fire-place because there was no space for them in the room. In many houses in Monmouth-street there is a system of sub-letting among the journeymen. In one room lodged a man and his wife (a laundress worked there), four children, and two single young men. The wife was actually delivered in this room whilst the men kept at their work— they never lost an hour's work; nor is this an unusual case—it's not an isolated case at all. I could instance ten or twelve cases of two or three married people living in one room in that street. The rats have scampered over the beds that lay huddled together in the kitchen. The husband of the wife confined as I have described paid 4s. a week, and the two single men paid 2s. a week each, so the master was rent free; and he received from each man 1s. 6d. a week for tea (without sugar), and no bread and butter, and 2d. a day for potatoes—that's the regular charge.

In connection with the translation of old boots and shoes, I have obtained the following statistics. There are—

 In Drury-lane and streets adjacent, about .... 50 shops. 
 Seven-dials do. do. .... 100 do. 
 Monmouth-street do. do. .... 40 do. 
 Hanway-court, Oxford-street do. .... 4 do. 
 Lisson-grove do. do. .... 100 do. 
 Paddington do. do. .... 30 do. 
 Petticoat-lane (shops, stands, &c.) do. .... 200 do. 
 Somers'--town do. do. .... 50 do. 
 Field-lane, Saffron-hill do. .... 40 do. 
 Clerkenwell   do. .... 30 do. 
 Bethnal-green, Spitalfields do. .... 100 do. 
 Rosemary-lane, &c.   do. .... 30 do. 
         ----   
         774 shops, 
employing upwards of men in making-up and repairing old boots and shoes; besides hundreds of poor men and women who strive for a crust by buying and selling the old material, previously to translating it, and by mending up what will mend. They or their children stand in the street and try to sell them.

, now the great old shoe district, has been "sketched" by Mr. Dickens, not as regards its connection with the subject of streetsale or of any particular trade, but as to its general character and appearance. I cite Mr. Dickens' description of the Dials, of which is a :—

The stranger who finds himself in 'The Dials' for the first time, and stands, Belzoni-like, at the entrance of seven obscure passages, uncertain which to take, will see enough around him to keep his curiosity and attention awake for no inconsiderable time. From the irregular square into which he has plunged, the streets and courts dart in all directions, until they are lost in the unwholesome vapour which hangs over the housetops, and renders the dirty perspective uncertain and confined; and, lounging at every corner, as if they came there to take a few gasps of such fresh air as has found its way so far, but is too much exhausted already, to be enabled to force itself into the narrow alleys around, are groups of people, whose appearance and dwellings would fill any mind but a regular Londoner's with astonishment.

In addition to the numerous groups who are idling about the gin-shops and squabbling in the centre of the road, every post in the open space has its occupant, who leans against it for hours, with listless perseverance. It is odd enough that one class of men in London appear to have no enjoyment beyond leaning against posts. We never saw a regular bricklayer's labourer take any other recreation, fighting excepted. Pass through St. Giles's in the evening of a week-day, there they are in their fustian dresses, spotted with brick-dust and whitewash, leaning against posts. Walk through Seven Dials on Sunday morning: there they are again, drab or light corduroy trowsers, Blucher boots, blue coats, and great yellow waistcoats, leaning against posts. The idea of a man dressing himself in his best clothes, to lean against a post all day!

The peculiar character of these streets, and the close resemblance each one bears to its neighbour, by no means tends to decrease the bewilderment in which the unexperienced wayfarer through 'the Dials' find's himself involved. He traverses streets of dirty, straggling houses, with now and then an unexpected court, composed of buildings as ill-proportioned and deformed as the half-naked children that wallow in the kennels. Here and there, a little dark chandler's shop, with a cracked bell hung up behind the door to announce the entrance of a customer, or betray the presence of some young gentleman in whom a passion for shop tills has developed itself at an early age; others, as if for support, against some handsome lofty building, which usurps the place of a low dingy public-house; long rows of broken and patched windows expose plants that may have flourished when 'The Dials' were built, in vessels as dirty as 'The Dials' themselves; and shops for the purchase of rags, bones, old iron, and kitchenstuff, vie in cleanliness with the bird-fanciers and rabbit-dealers, which one might fancy so many arks, but for the irresistible conviction that no bird in its proper senses, who was permitted to leave one of them would ever come back again. Brokers' shops, which would seem to have been established by humane individuals, as refuges for destitute bugs, interspersed with announcements of day-schools, penny theatres, petition-writers, mangles, and music for balls or routs, complete the 'still-life' of the subject; and dirty men, filthy women, squalid children, fluttering shuttlecocks, noisy battledores, reeking pipes, bad fruit, more than doubtful oysters, attenuated cats, depressed dogs, and anatomical fowls, are its cheerful accompaniments.

If the external appearance of the houses, or a glance at their inhabitants, present but few attractions, a closer acquaintance with either is little calculated to alter one's first impression. Every room has its separate tenant, and every tenant is, by the same mysterious dispensation which causes a country curate to 'increase and multiply' most marvellously, generally the head of a numerous family.

The man in the shop, perhaps, is in the baked 'jemmy' line, or the fire-wood and hearth-stone line, or any other line which requires a floating capital of eighteen pence or thereabouts: and he and his family live in the shop, and the small back parlour behind it. Then there is an Irish labourer and his family in the back kitchen, and a jobbing-man — carpet-beater and so forth— with his family, in the front one. In the front one pair there's another man with another wife and family, and in the back one-pair there's 'a young 'oman as takes in tambour-work, and dresses quite genteel,' who talks a good deal about 'my friend,' and can't 'abear anything low.' The second floor front, and the rest of the lodgers, are just a second edition of the people below, except a shabby-genteel man in the back attic, who has his half-pint of coffee every morning from the coffee-shop next door but one, which boasts a little front den called a coffee-room, with a fire-place, over which is an inscription, politely requesting that, 'to prevent mistakes,' customers will 'please to pay on delivery.' The shabby-genteel man is an object of some mystery, but as he leads a life of seclusion, and never was known to buy anything beyond an occasional pen, except half-pints of coffee, penny loaves, and ha'porths of ink, his fellow-lodgers very naturally suppose him to be an author; and rumours are current in the Dials, that he writes poems for Mr. Warren.

Now any body who passed through the Dials on a hot summer's evening, and saw the different women of the house gossiping on the steps, would be apt to think that all was harmony among them, and that a more primitive set of people than the native Diallers could not be imagined. Alas! the man in the shop illtreats his family; the carpetbeater extends his professional pursuits to his wife; the one-pair front has an undying feud with the two-pair front, in consequence of the two-pair front persisting in dancing over his (the one-pair front's) head, when he and his family have retired for the night; the two-pair back will interfere with the front kitchen's children; the Irishman comes home drunk every other night, and attacks every body; and the one-pair back screams at everything. Animosities spring up between floor and floor; the very cellar asserts his equality. Mrs. A. 'smacks' Mrs. B.'s child for 'making faces.' Mrs. B. forthwith throws cold water over Mrs. A.'s child for 'calling names.' The husbands are embroiled—the quarrel becomes general—an assault is the consequence, and a police-officer the result.

Of the same author says:—

We have always entertained a particular attachment towards Monmouth-street, as the only true and real emporium for second-hand wearing apparel. Monmouth-street is venerable from its antiquity, and respectable from its usefulness. Holywell-street we despise; the red-headed and red-whiskered Jews who forcibly haul you into their squalid houses, and thrust you into a suit of clothes whether you will or not, we detest.

The inhabitants of Monmouth-street are a distinct class; a peaceable and retiring race, who immure themselves for the most part in deep cellars, or small back parlours, and who seldom come forth into the world, except in the dusk and coolness of evening, when they may be seen seated, in chairs on the pavement, smoking their pipes, or watching the gambols of their engaging children as they revel in the gutter, a happy troop of infantine scavengers. Their countenances bear a thoughtful and a dirty cast, certain indications of their love of traffic; and their habitations are distinguished by that disregard of outward appearance, and neglect of personal comfort, so common among people who are constantly immersed in profound speculations, and deeply engaged in sedentary pursuits.

Through every alteration and every change Monmouth-street has still remained the burialplace of the fashions; and such, to judge from all present appearances, it will remain until there are no more fashions to bury.

 
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 Title Page
 INTRODUCTION
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work
Crossing-Sweepers