London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry

1851

Of the Street-Sellers of Squirrels.

THE street squirrel-sellers are generally the same men as are engaged in the open-air traffic in cagebirds. There are, however, about men who devote themselves more particularly to squirrelselling, while as many more sometimes "take a turn at it." The squirrel is usually carried in the vendor's arms, or is held against the front of his coat, so that the animal's long bushy tail is seen to advantage. There is usually a red leather collar round its neck, to which is attached some slender string, but so contrived that the squirrel shall not appear to be a prisoner, nor in general— although perhaps the hawker became possessed of his squirrel only that morning—does the animal show any symptoms of fear.

The chief places in which squirrels are offered for sale, are and the , but they are offered also in all the principal thoroughfares—especially at the West End. The purchasers are gentlefolk, tradespeople, and a few of the working classes who are fond of animals. The wealthier persons usually buy the squirrels for their children, and, even after the free life of the woods, the animal seems happy enough in the revolving cage, in which it "thinks it climbs."

The prices charged are from to , "or more if it can be got," from a to a half being profit. The sellers will oft enough state, if questioned, that they caught the squirrels in Epping Forest, or Caen Wood, or any place sufficiently near London, but such is hardly ever the case, for the squirrels are bought by them of the dealers in live animals. Countrymen will sometimes catch a few squirrels and bring them to London, and times out of they sell them to the shopkeepers. To sell squirrels a day in the street is accounted good work.

I am assured by the best-informed parties that for months of the year there are men selling squirrels in the streets, at from to per cent. profit, and that they average a weekly sale of each. The average price is from to , although not very long ago man sold a "wonderfully fine squirrel" in the street for half-crowns, but they are sometimes parted with for or less, rather than be kept overnight. Thus squirrels are vended yearly in the streets, at a cost to the public of

 
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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