London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
, which has in vain been rechristened , is from half to threequarters of a mile long—that is, if we include only the portion which runs from the junction of Leman and Dock streets (near the ) to Sparrow-corner, where it abuts on the . Beyond the termination of , and stretching on into , are many streets of a similar character as regards the street and shop supply of articles to the poor; but as the old clothes trade is only occasionally carried on there, I shall here deal with Rosemarylane proper.
This lane partakes of some of the characteristics of , but without its so strongly marked peculiarities. is wider and airier, the houses on each side are loftier (in several parts), and there is an approach to a gin palace, a thing unknown in : there is no room for such a structure there.
, like the quarter I have last described, has its off-streets, into which the traffic stretches. Some of these off-streets are narrower, dirtier, poorer in all respects than itself, which indeed can hardly be stigmatized as very dirty. These are , Russell-court, Hairbrine-court, Parson's-court, Blue Anchor-yard ( of the poorest places and with a half-built look), Darby-street, , Peter's-court, , , and beyond these and in the direction of the , becomes Sharp's-buildings and Sparrow-corner. There are other small nonthoroughfare courts, sometimes called blind alleys, to which no name is attached, but which are very well known to the neighbourhood as Union-court, &c.; but as these are not scenes of street-traffic, although they may be the abodes of streettraf- fickers, they require no especial notice.
The dwellers in the neighbourhood or the offstreets of , differ from those of by the proximity of the former place to the Thames. The lodgings here are occupied by dredgers, ballast-heavers, coalwhip- pers, watermen, lumpers, and others whose trade is connected with the river, as well as the slopworkers and sweaters working for the . The poverty of these workers compels them to lodge wherever the rent of the rooms is the lowest. As a few of the wives of the ballastheavers, &c., are street-sellers in or about , the locality is often sought by them. About the off-streets are mostly occupied by the old clothes merchants.
In is a greater -trade, as regards things placed on the ground for retail sale, &c., than in ; for though the traffic in the last-mentioned lane is by far the greatest, it is more connected with the shops, and fewer
|traders whose dealings are strictly those of the street alone resort to it. , too, is more Irish. There are some cheap lodging-houses in the courts, &c., to which the poor Irish flock; and as they are very frequently street-sellers, on busy days the quarter abounds with them. At every step you hear the Erse tongue, and meet with the Irish physiognomy; Jews and Jewesses are also seen in the street, and they abound in the shops. The street-traffic does not begin until about o'clock, except as regards the vegetable, fish, and oyster-stalls, &c.; but the chief business of this lane, which is as inappropriately as that of Petticoat is suitably named, is in the vending of the articles which have often been thrown aside as refuse, but from which numbers in London wring an existence.|
side of the lane is covered with old boots and shoes; old clothes, both men's, women's, and children's; new lace for edgings, and a variety of cheap prints and muslins (also new); hats and bonnets; pots, and often of the commonest kinds; tins; old knives and forks, old scissors, and old metal articles generally; here and there is a stall of cheap bread or American cheese, or what is announced as American; old glass; different descriptions of -hand furniture of the smaller size, such as children's chairs, bellows, &c. Mixed with these, but only very scantily, are a few brightlooking swag-barrows, with china ornaments, toys, &c. Some of the wares are spread on the ground on wrappers, or pieces of matting or carpet; and some, as the pots, are occasionally placed on straw. The cotton prints are often heaped on the ground; where are also ranges or heaps of boots and shoes, and piles of old clothes, or hats, or umbrellas. Other traders place their goods on stalls or barrows, or over an old chair or clothes-horse. And amidst all this motley display the buyers and sellers smoke, and shout, and doze, and bargain, and wrangle, and eat and drink tea and coffee, and sometimes beer. Altogether is more of a market than is .
This district, like the I have described, is infested with young thieves and vagrants from the neighbouring lodging-houses, who may be seen running about, often bare-footed, bare-necked, and shirtless, but "larking" with another, and what may be best understood as "full of fun." In what way these lads dispose of their plunder, and how their plunder is in any way connected with the trade of these parts, I shall show in my account of the Thieves. pickpocket told me that there was no person whom he delighted so much to steal from as any Petticoat-laner with whom he had professional dealings!
In there is a busy Sunday morning trade; there is a street-trade, also, on the Saturday afternoons, but the greater part of the shops are then closed, and the Jews do not participate in the commerce until after sunset.
The marts I have thus fully described differ from all other street-markets, for in these -hand garments, and -hand merchandize generally (although but in a small proportion), are the grand staple of the traffic. At the other street-markets, the -hand commerce is the exception.