London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Of the "Casual Hands" among the Scavagers.


OF the scavagers proper there are, as in all classes of unskilled labour, that is to say, of labour which requires no previous apprenticeship, and to which any can "turn his hand" on an emergency, distinct orders of workmen, "the and " to adopt the trade terms; that is to say, the labourers consist of those who have been many years at the trade, constantly employed at it, and those who have but recently taken to it as a means of obtaining a subsistence after their ordinary resources have failed. This mixture of and hands is, moreover, a necessary consequence of all trades which depend upon the seasons, and in which an additional number of labourers are required at different periods. Such is necessarily the case with dock labour, where an easterly wind prevailing for several days deprives , and where the change from a foul to a fair wind causes an equally inordinate demand for workmen. The same temporary increase of employment takes place in the agricultural districts at harvesting time, and the same among the hop growers in the picking season; and it will be hereafter seen that there are the same labour fluctuations in the scavaging trade, a greater or lesser number of hands being required, of course, according as the season is wet or dry.

This occasional increase of employment, though a benefit in some few cases (as enabling a man suddenly deprived of his ordinary means of living to obtain "a job of work" until he can "turn himself round"), is generally a most alarming evil in a State. What are the casual hands to do when the extra employment ceases? Those who have paid attention to the subject of dock labour and the subject of casual labour in general, may form some notion of the vast mass of misery that must be generally existing in London. The


subject of hop-picking again belongs to the same question. Here are thousands of the very poorest employed only for a few days in the year. What, the mind naturally asks, do they after their short term of honest independence has ceased? With dock labour the poor man's bread depends upon the very winds; in scavaging and in street life generally it depends upon the rain; and in market-gardening, harvesting, hop-picking, and the like, it depends upon the sunshine. How many thousands in this huge metropolis have to look immediately to the very elements for their bread, it is overwhelming to contemplate; and yet, with all this fitfulness of employment we wonder that an extended knowledge of reading and writing does not produce a decrease of crime! We should, however, ask ourselves whether men can stay their hunger with alphabets or grow fat on spelling books; and wanting employment, and consequently food, and objecting to the of the workhouse, can we be astonished— indeed is it not a natural law—that they should help themselves to the property of others?

Concerning the "regular hands" of the contracting scavagers, it may, perhaps, be reasonable to compute that little short of -half of them have been "to the manner born." The others are, as I have said, what these regular hands call "casuals," or "casualties." As an instance of the peculiar mixture of the regular and casual hands in the scavaging trade, I may state that of my informants told me he had, at period, under his immediate direction, men, of whom the former occupations had been as follows:—

 7 Always Scavagers (or dustmen, and six of them nightmen when required). 
 1 Pot-boy at a public-house (but only as a boy). 
 1 Stable-man (also nightman). 
 1 Formerly a pugilist, then a showman's assistant. 
 1 Navvy. 
 1 Ploughman (nightman occasionally). 
 2 Unknown, one of them saying, but gaining no belief, that he had once been a gentleman. 

In my account of the street orderlies will be given an interesting and elaborate statement of the former avocations, the habits, expenditure, &c., of a body of street-sweepers, in number. This table will be found very curious, as showing what classes of men have been to streetsweeping, but it will not furnish a criterion of the character of the "regular hands" employed by the contractors.

The "casuals" or the "casualties" (always called among the men "cazzelties"), may be more properly described as men whose employment is accidental, chanceful, or uncertain. The regular hands of the scavagers are apt to designate any new comer, even for a permanence, any sweeper not reared to or versed in the business, a casual ("cazzel"). I shall, however, here deal with the "casual hands," not only as hands newly introduced into the trade, but as men of chanceful and irregular employment.

These persons are now, I understand, numerous in all branches of unskilled labour, willing to undertake or attempt any kind of work, but perhaps there is a greater tendency on the part of the surplus unskilled to turn to scavaging, from the fact that any broken-down man seems to account himself competent to sweep the streets.

To ascertain the number of these casual or outside labourers in the scavaging trade is difficult, for, as I have said, they are willing in their need to attempt any kind of work, and so may be "casuals" in divers departments of unskilled labour.

I do not think that I can better approximate the number of casuals than by quoting the opinion of a contracting scavager familiar with his workmen and their ways. He considered that there were always nearly as many hands on the look-out for a job in the streets, as there were regularly employed at the business by the large contractors; this I have shown to be , let us estimate therefore the number of casuals at .

According to the table I have given at pp. , , the number of men regularly or constantly employed at the metropolitan trade is as follows:—

 Scavagers employed by large contractors . 262 
 Ditto small contractors . . . 13 
 Ditto machines . . . . . 25 
 Ditto parishes . . . . . 218 
 Ditto street-orderlies . . . . 60 
 Total working scavagers in London . 578 

But the prior table given at pp. , , shows the number of scavagers employed throughout the metropolis in wet and dry weather () to be as follows:—

 Scavagers employed in wet weather . . 531 
 Ditto in dry weather . . . . 358 
 Difference . . . . . 173 

Hence it would appear that about - less hands are required in the dry than in the wet season of the year. The hands, then, discharged in the dry season are the casually employed men, but the whole of these are not turned adrift immediately they are no longer wanted, some being kept on "odd jobs" in the yard, &c.; nor can that number be said to represent the entire amount of the surplus labour in the trade; but only that portion of it which obtain even casual employment. After much trouble, and taking the average of various statements, it would appear that the number of casualty or quantity of occasional surplus labour in the scavaging trade may be represented at between and hands.

The scavaging trade, however, is not, I am informed, so overstocked with labourers now as it


was formerly. years ago, and from that to , there were usually between and hands out of work; this was owing to there being a less extent of paved streets, and comparatively few contractors; the scavaging work, moreover, was "scamped," the men, to use their own phrase, "licking the work over any how," so that fewer hands were required. Now, however, the inhabitants are more particular, I am told, "about the crooks and corners," and require the streets to be swept oftener. Formerly a gang of operative scavagers would only collect loads of dirt a day, but now a gang will collect loads daily. The causes to which the surplus of labourers at present may be attributed are, I find, as follows:—Each operative has to do nearly double the work to what he formerly did, the extra cleansing of the streets having tended not only to employ more hands, but to make each of those employed do more work. The result has, however been followed by an increase in the wages of the operatives; years ago the labourers received but a day, and the ganger , but now the labourers receive a day, and the ganger

In the city the men have to work very long hours, sometimes as many as hours a day without any extra pay. This practice of overworking is, I find, carried on to a great extent, even with those master scavagers who pay the regular wages. man told me that when he worked for a certain large master, whom he named, he has many times been out at work hours in the wet (saturated to the skin) without having any rest. This plan of overworking, again, is generally adopted by the small masters, whose men, after they have done a regular day's labour, are set to work in the yard, sometimes toiling hours a day, and usually not less than hours daily. Often so tired and weary are the men, that when they rise in the morning to pursue their daily labour, they feel as fatigued as when they went to bed. "Frequently," said of my informants, "have I gone to bed so worn out, that I haven't been able to sleep. However" (he added), "there is the work to be done, and we must do it or be off."

This system of overwork, especially in those trades where the quantity of work to be done is in a measure fixed, I find to be a far more influential cause of surplus labour than "over population." The mere number of labourers in a trade is, , no criterion as to the quantity of labour employed in it; to arrive at this things are required:—

() The number of hands;

() The hours of labour;

() The rate of labouring; for it is a mere point of arithmetic, that if the hands in the scavaging trade work hours a day, there must be - less men employed than there otherwise would, or in other words onethird of the men who are in work must be thus deprived of it. This is of the crying evils of the day, and which the economists, filled as they are with their over-population theories, have entirely overlooked.

There are men employed in the Metropolitan Scavaging Trade; -half of these at the least may be said to work hours per diem instead of , or - longer than they should; so that if the hours of labour in this trade were restricted to the usual day's work, there would be employment for - more hands, or nearly individuals extra.

The other causes of the present amount of surplus labour are—

The many hands thrown out of employment by the discontinuance of railway works.

A less demand for unskilled labour in agricultural districts, or a smaller remuneration for it.

A less demand for some branches of labour (as ostlers, &c.), by the introduction of machinery (applied to roads), or through the caprices of fashion.

It should, however, be remembered, that men often found their opinions of such causes on prejudices, or express them according to their class interests, and it is only a few employers of unskilled labourers who care to inquire into the antecedent circumstances of men who ask for work.

As regards the population part of the question, it cannot be said that the surplus labour of the scavaging trade is referable to any inordinate increase in the families of the men. Those who are married appear to have, on the average, children, and about -half of the men have no family at all. Early marriages are by no means usual. Of the casual hands, however, full -fourths are married, and -half have families.

There are not more than or a dozen Irish labourers who have taken to the scavaging, though several have "tried it on;" the regular hands say that the Irish are too lazy to continue at the trade; but surely the labour of the hodman, in which the Irish seem to delight, is sufficient to disprove this assertion, be the cause what it may. About - of the scavagers entering the scavaging trade as casual hands have been agricultural labourers, and have come up to London from the several agricultural districts in quest of work; about the same proportion appear to have been connected with horses, such as ostlers, carmen, &c.

The in the scavaging trade depend upon the state of the weather. In the depth of winter, owing to the shortness of the days, more hands are usually required for street cleansing; but a "clear frost" renders the scavager's labour in little demand. In the winter, too, his work is generally the hardest, and the hardest of all when there is snow, which soon becomes mud in London streets; and though a continued frost is a sort of lull to the scavagers' labour, after "a great thaw" his strength is taxed to the uttermost; and then, indeed, new hands have had to be put on. At the West End, in the height of the summer, which is usually the height of the fashionable season, there is again a more than usual requirement of scavaging industry in wet weather; but perhaps the greatest exercise of such industry is after a series of the fogs peculiar


to the London atmosphere, when the men cannot to sweep. The table I have given shows the influence of the weather, as on wet days men are employed, and on dry days only ; this, however, does not influence the Street-Orderly system, as under it the men are employed every day, unless the weather make it an actual impossibility.

According to the rain table given at p. , there would appear to be, on an average of years, wet days in London out of the , that is to say, about in every days are "rainy ones." The months having the greatest and least number of wet days are as follows:—

   No. of days in the month in which rain falls. 
 December . . . . . 17 
 July, August, October . . . 16 
 February, May, November . . 15 
 January, April . . . . 14 
 March, September . . . . 12 
 June . . . . . . 11 

Hence it would appear that June is the least and December the most showery month in the course of the year; the greatest of rain falling in any month is, however, in October, and the least quantity in March. The number of wet days, and the quantity of rain falling in each half of the year, may be expressed as follows:—

   Total in No. of wet days. Total depth of rain falling in inches. 
 The first six months in the year ending June there are . . 84 10 
 The second six months in the year ending December there are 93 14 

Hence we perceive that the quantity of work for the scavagers would fluctuate in the and last half of the year in the proportion of to , which is very nearly in the ratio of to , which are the numbers of hands given in table pp. , , as those employed in wet and dry weather throughout the metropolis.

If, then, the labour in the scavaging trade varies in the proportion of to , that is to say, that hands are required at period and at another to execute the work, the question consequently becomes, how do the casuals who are discharged out of every obtain their living when the wet season is over?

When a scavager is out of employ, he seldom or never applies to the parish; this he does, I am informed, only when he is fairly "beaten out" through sickness or old age, for the men "hate the thought of going to the big house" (the union workhouse). An unemployed operative scavager will go from yard to yard and offer his services to do anything in the dust trade or any other kind of employment in connection with dust or scavaging.

Generally speaking, an operative scavager who is casually employed obtains work at that trade for or months during the year, and the remaining portion of his time is occupied either at rubbish-carting or brick-carting, or else he gets a job for a month or in a dust-yard.

Many of these men seem to form a body of street-jobbers or operative labourers, ready to work at the docks, to be navvies (when strong enough), bricklayers' labourers, street-sweepers, carriers of trunks or parcels, window-cleaners, errand-goers, porters, and (occasionally) nightmen. Few of the class seem to apply themselves to trading, as in the costermonger line. They are the loungers about the boundaries of trading, but seldom take any onward steps. The street-sweeper of this week, a "casual" hand, may be a rubbish-carter or a labourer about buildings the next, or he may be a starving man for days together, and the more he is starving with the less energy will he exert himself to obtain work: "it's not in" a starving or ill-fed man to exert himself otherwise than what may be called this is well known to all who have paid attention to the subject. The want of energy and carelessness begotten by want of food was well described by the tinman, at p. in vol. i.

casual hand told me that last year he was out of work altogether months, and the year before not more than weeks, and during the weeks he got a day's work sometimes at rubbish carting and sometimes at loading bricks. Their wives are often employed in the yards as sifters, and their boys, when big enough, work also at the heap, either in carrying off, or else as fillersin; if there are any girls, is generally left at home to look after the rest and get the meals ready for the other members of the family. If any of the children go to school, they are usually sent to a ragged school in the neighbourhood, though they seldom attend the school more than or times during the week.

The additional hands employed in wet weather are either men who at other times work in the yards, or such as have their "turns" in streetsweeping, if not regularly employed. There appears, however, to be little of system in the arrangement. If more hands are wanted, the gangsman, who receives his orders from the contractor or the contractor's managing man, is told to put on so many new hands, and over-night he has but to tell any of the men at work that Jack, and Bob, and Bill will be wanted in the morning, and they, if not employed in other work, appear accordingly.

There is nothing, however, which can be designated a appertaining to the trade. No "house of call," no trade society. If men seek such employment, they must apply at the contractor's premises, and I am assured that poor men not unfrequently ask the scavagers whom they see at work in the streets where to apply "for a job," and sometimes receive gruff or abusive replies. But though there is nothing like a labour market in the scavager's trade, the employers have not to "look out" for men, for I was told by of their foremen, that he would undertake, if necessary, which it never was, by a mere "round of the docks," to select new hale men, of all classes, and strong ones, too, if properly fed, who


in a few days would be tolerable street-sweepers. It is a calling to which agricultural labourers are glad to resort, and a calling to which labourer or any mechanic may resort, more especially as regards sweeping or scraping, apart from shovelling, which is regarded as something like the high art of the business.

We now come to estimate the earnings of the casual hands, whose yearly incomes must, of course, be very different from those of the regulars. The weekly wages of any workman are of course the average of his casual—and hence we shall find the wages of those who are employed far exceed those of the employed men:—

   £ s. d. 
 Nominal yearly wages at scavaging for 25 weeks in the year, at 16s. per week . . . . . 20 16 0 
 Perquisites for 26 weeks, at 2s. . 2 12 0 
 Actual yearly wages at scavaging . 23 8 0 
 Nominal and actual weekly wages at rubbish carting for 20 weeks in the year, at 12s. . . . 12 0 0 
 Unemployed six weeks in the year . 0 0 0 
 Gross yearly earnings . . . 35 8 0 
 Average casual or constant weekly wages throughout the year. .   15 4 1/2 

Hence the difference between the earnings of the casual and the regular hand would appear to be -. But the great evil of all casual labour is the uncertainty of the income—for where there is the greatest chance connected with an employment, there is not only the greatest necessity for providence, but unfortunately the greatest tendency to improvidence. It is only when a man's income becomes regular and fixed that he grows thrifty, and lays by for the future; but where all is chance-work there is but little ground for reasoning, and the accident which assisted the man out of his difficulties at period is continually expected to do the same good turn for him at another. Hence the casual hand, who passes the half of the year on , and weeks on , and , lives a life of excess both ways—of excess of "guzzling" when in work, and excess of privation when out of it— oscillating, as it were, between surfeit and starvation.

A man who had worked in an iron-foundry, but who had "lost his work" (I believe through some misconduct) and was glad to get employment as a street-sweeper, as he had a good recommendation to a contractor, told me that "the misery of the thing" was the want of regular work. "I've worked," he said, "for a good master for months an end at a day, and they were prime times. Then I hadn't a stroke of work for a fortnight, and very little for months, and if my wife hadn't had middling work with a laundress we might have starved, or I might have made a hole in the Thames, for it's no good living to be miserable and feel you can't help yourself any how. We was sometimes half-starved, as it was. I'd rather at this minute have regular work at a week all the year round, than have chancework that I could earn a week at. I once had in relief from the parish, and a doctor to attend us, when my wife and I was both laid up sick. O, there's no difference in the way of doing the work, whatever wages you're on for; the streets must be swept clean, of course. The plan's the same, and there's the same sort of management, any how."

The following statement of his business, his sentiments, and, indeed, of the subjects which concerned him, or about which he was questioned, was given to me by a street-sweeper, so he called himself, for I have found some of these men not to relish the appellation of "scavager." He was a short, sturdy, somewhat red-faced man, without anything particular in his appearance to distinguish him from the mass of mere labourers, but with the sodden and sometimes dogged look of a man contented in his ignorance, and—for it is not a very uncommon case—rather proud of it.

"I don't know how old I am," he said—I have observed, by the by, that there is not any excessive vulgarity in these men's tones or accent so much as grossness in some of their expressions—

and I can't see what that consarns any one, as I's old enough to have a jolly rough beard, and so can take care of myself. I should think so. My father was a sweeper, and I wanted to be a waterman, but father—he hasn't been dead long— didn't like the thoughts on it, as he said they was all drownded one time or 'nother; so I ran away and tried my hand as a Jack-in-the-water, but I was starved back in a week, and got a h—— of a clouting. After that I sifted a bit in a dust-yard, and helped in any way; and I was sent to help at and larn honey-pot and other pot making, at Deptford; but honey-pots was a great thing in the business. Master's foreman married a relation of mine, some way or other. I never tasted honey, but I've heered it's like sugar and butter mixed. The pots was often wanted to look like foreign pots; I don't know nothing what was meant by it; some b—— dodge or other. No, the trade didn't suit me at all, master, so I left. I don't know why it didn't suit me; cause it didn't. Just then, father had hurt his hand and arm, in a jam again' a cart, and so, as I was a big lad, I got to take his place, and gave every satisfaction to Mr. ——. Yes, he was a contractor and a great man. I can't say as I knows how contracting's done; but it's a bargain atween man and man. So I got on. I'm now looked on as a stunning good workman, I can tell you.

Well, I can't say as I thinks sweeping the streets is hard work. I'd rather sweep two hours than shovel one. It tires one's arms and back so, to go on shovelling. You can't change, you see, sir, and the same parts keeps getting gripped more and more. Then you must mind your eye, if you're shovelling slop into a cart, perticler so; or some feller may run off with a complaint that he's been splashed o' purpose. Is a man ever splashed o' purpose? No, sir, not as I knows on, in coorse not. [Laughing.] Why should he?

The streets must be done as they're done now. It always was so, and will always be so. Did I ever hear what London streets were like a thousand years ago? It's nothing to me, but they must have been like what they is now. Yes, there was always streets, or how was people that has tin to get their coals taken to them, and how was the public-houses to get their beer? It's talking nonsense, talking that way, a-asking sich questions.

[As the scavager seemed likely to lose his temper, I changed the subject of conversation.]

Yes," he continued,

I have good health. I never had a doctor but twice; once was for a hurt, and the t'other I won't tell on. Well, I think nightwork's healthful enough, but I'll not say so much for it as you may hear some on 'em say. I don't like it, but I do it when I's obligated under a necessity. It pays one as overwork; and werry like more one's in it, more one may be suited. I reckon no men works harder nor sich as me. O, as to poor journeymen tailors and sich like, I knows they're stunning badly off, and many of their masters is the hardest of beggars. I have a nephew as works for a Jew slop, but I don't reckon that work; anybody might do it. You think not, sir? Werry well, it's all the same. No, I won't say as I could make a veskit, but I've sowed my own buttons on to one afore now.

Yes, I've heered on the Board of Health. They've put down some night-yards, and if they goes on putting down more, what's to become of the night-soil? I can't think what they're up to; but if they don't touch wages, it may be all right in the end on it. I don't know that them there consarns does touch wages, but one's naterally afeard on 'em. I could read a little when I was a child, but I can't now for want of practice, or I might know more about it. I yarns my money gallows hard, and requires support to do hard work, and if wages goes down, one's strength goes down. I'm a man as understands what things belongs. I was once out of work, through a mistake, for a good many weeks, perhaps five or six or more; I larned then what short grub meant. I got a drop of beer and a crust sometimes with men as I knowed, or I might have dropped in the street. What did I do to pass my time when I was out of work? Sartinly the days seemed wery long; but I went about and called at dust-yards, till I didn't like to go too often; and I met men I know'd at tap-rooms, and spent time that way, and axed if there was any openings for work. I've been out of collar odd weeks now and then, but when this happened, I'd been on slack work a goodish bit, and was bad for rent three weeks and more. My rent was 2s. a week then; its 1s. 9d. now, and my own traps.

No, I can't say I was sorry when I was forced to be idle that way, that I hadn't kept up my reading, nor tried to keep it up, because I couldn't then have settled down my mind to read; I know I couldn't. I likes to hear the paper read well enough, if I's resting; but old Bill, as often wolunteers to read, has to spell the hard words so, that one can't tell what the devil he's reading about. I never heers anything about books; I never heered of Robinson Crusoe, if it wasn't once at the Wic. [Victoria Theatre]; I think there was some sich a name there. He lived on a deserted island, did he, sir, all by hisself? Well, I think, now you mentions it, I have heered on him. But one needn't believe all one hears, whether out of books or not. I don't know much good that ever anybody as I knows ever got out of books; they're fittest for idle people. Sartinly I've seen working people reading in coffee-shops; but they might as well be resting theirselves to keep up their strength. Do I think so? I'm sure on it, master. I sometimes spends a few browns a-going to the play; mostly about Christmas. It's werry fine and grand at the Wic., that's the place I goes to most; both the pantomimers and t' other things is werry stunning. I can't say how much I spends a year in plays; I keeps no account; perhaps 5s. or so in a year, including expenses, sich as beer, when one goes out after a stopper on the stage. I don't keep no accounts of what I gets, or what I spends, it would be no use; money comes and it goes, and it often goes a d——d sight faster than it comes; so it seems to me, though I ain't in debt just at this time.

I never goes to any church or chapel. Sometimes I hasn't clothes as is fit, and I s'pose I couldn't be admitted into sich fine places in my working dress. I was once in a church, but felt queer, as one does in them strange places, and never went again. They're fittest for rich people. Yes, I've heered about religion and about God Almighty. What religion have I heered on? Why, the regular religion. I'm satisfied with what I knows and feels about it, and that's enough about it. I came to tell you about trade and work, because Mr. —— told me it might do good; but religion hasn't nothing to do with it. Yes, Mr. ——'s a good master, and a religious man; but I've known masters as didn't care a d—n for religion, as good as him; and so you see it comes to much the same thing. I cares nothing about politics neither; but I'm a chartist.

I'm not a married man. I was a-going to be married to a young woman as lived with me a goodish bit as my housekeeper [this he said very demurely]; but she went to the hopping to yarn a few shillings for herself, and never came back. I heered that she'd taken up with an Irish hawker, but I can't say as to the rights on it. Did I fret about her? Perhaps not; but I was wexed.

I'm sure I can't say what I spends my wages in. I sometimes makes 12s. 6d. a week, and sometimes better than 21s. with night-work. I suppose grub costs 1s. a day, and beer 6d.; but I keeps no accounts. I buy ready-cooked meat; often cold b'iled beef, and eats it at any tap-room. I have meat every day; mostly more than once a day. Wegetables I don't care about, only ingans and cabbage, if you can get it smoking hot, with plenty of pepper. The rest of my tin goes for rent and baccy and togs, and a little drop of gin now and then.

The statement I have given is sufficiently explicit of the general opinions of the "regular scavagers" concerning literature, politics, and religion. On these subjects the great majority of the regular scavagers have no opinions at all, or opinions distorted, even when the facts seem clear and obvious, by ignorance, often united with its nearest of kin, prejudice and suspiciousness. I am inclined to think, however, that the man whose narrative I noted down was more dogged in his ignorance than the body of his fellows. All the intelligent men with whom I conversed, and whose avocations had made them familiar for years with this class, concurred in representing them as grossly ignorant.

This description of the scavagers' ignorance, &c., it must be remembered, applies only to the "regular hands." Those who have joined the ranks of the street-sweepers from other callings are more intelligent, and sometimes more temperate.

The system of concubinage, with a great degree of fidelity in the couple living together without the sanction of the law—such as I have described as prevalent among the costermongers and dustmen—is also prevalent among the regular scavagers.

I did not hear of habitual unkindness from the parents to the children born out of wedlock, but there is habitual neglect of all or much which a child should be taught—a neglect growing out of ignorance. I heard of scavagers with large families, of whom the treatment was sometimes very harsh, and at others mere petting.

Education, or rather the ability to read and write, is not common among the adults in this calling, so that it cannot be expected to be found among their children. Some labouring men, ignorant themselves, but not perhaps constituting a class or a clique like the regular scavagers, try hard to procure for their children the knowledge, the want of which they usually think has barred their own progress in life. Other ignorant men, mixing only with "their own sort," as is generally the case with the regular scavagers, and in the several branches of the business, often think and say that what did without their children could do without also. I even heard it said by scavager that it wasn't right a child should ever think himself wiser than his father. A man who knew, in the way of his business as a private contractor for night-work, &c., a great many regular scavagers, "ran them over," and came to the conclusion that about or out of could read, ill or tolerably well, and about out of could write. He told me, moreover, that of the most intelligent fellows generally whom he knew among them, a man whom he had heard read well enough, and always understood to be a tolerable writer, the other day brought a letter from his son, a soldier abroad with his regiment in Lower Canada, and requested my informant to read it to him, as "that kind of writing," although plain enough, was "beyond him." The son, in writing, had availed himself of the superior skill of a corporal in his company, so that the letter, on family matters and feelings, was written by deputy and read by deputy. The costermongers, I have shown, when themselves unable to read, have evinced a fondness for listening to exciting stories of courts and aristocracies, and have even bought penny periodicals to have their contents read to them. The scavagers appear to have no taste for this mode of enjoying themselves; but then their leisure is far more circumscribed than that of the costermongers.

It must be borne in mind that I have all along spoken of the regular (many of them hereditary) scavagers employed by the more liberal contractors.

There are yet accounts of habitations, statements of wages, &c., &c., to be given, in connection with men working for the honourable masters, before proceeding to the scurf-traders.

The working scavagers usually reside in the neighbourhood of the dust-yards, occupying "secondfloor backs," kitchens (where the entire house is sublet, a system often fraught with great extortion), or garrets; they usually, and perhaps always, when married, or what they consider "as good," have their own furniture. The rent runs from to weekly, an average being or room which I was in was but barely furnished,—a sort of dresser, serving also for a table; a chest; chairs ( almost bottomless); an old turn--up bedstead, a Dutch clock, with the minute-hand broken, or as the scavager very well called it when he saw me looking at it, "a stump;" an old "corner cupboard," and some pots and domestic utensils in a closet without a door, but retaining a portion of the hinges on which a door had swung. The rent was , with a frequent intimation that it ought to be The place was clean enough, and the scavager seemed proud of it, assuring me that his old woman (wife or concubine) was "a good sort," and kept things as nice as ever she could, washing everything herself, where "other old women lushed." The only ornaments in the room were profiles of children, cut in black paper and pasted upon white card, tacked to the wall over the fire-place, for mantel-shelf there was none, while of the profiles, that of the eldest child (then dead), was "framed," with a glass, and a sort of bronze or "cast" frame, costing, I was told, This was the apartment of a man in regular employ (with but a few exceptions).

Another scavager with whom I had some conversation about his labours as a nightman, for he was both, gave me a full account of his own diet, which I find to be sufficiently specific as to that of his class generally, but only of the regular hands.

The diet of the regular working scavager (or nightman) seems generally to differ from that of mechanics, and perhaps of other working men, in the respect of his being fonder of salt and food. I have before made the same


remark concerning the diet of the poor generally. I do not mean, however, that the scavagers are fond of such animal food as is called "high," for I did not hear that nightmen or scavagers were more tolerant of what approached putridity than other labouring men, and, despite their calling, might sicken at the rankness of some haunches of venison; but they have a great relish for highly-salted cold boiled beef, bacon, or pork, with a saucer-full of red pickled cabbage, or dingylooking pickled onions, or or big, strong, raw onions, of which most of them seem as fond as Spaniards of garlic. This sort of meat, sometimes profusely mustarded, is often eaten in the beer-shops with thick "shives" of bread, cut into big mouthfuls with a clasp pocket-knife, while vegetables, unless indeed the beer-shop can supply a plate of smoking hot potatoes, are uncared for. The drink is usually beer. The same style of eating and the same kind of food characterize the scavager and nightman, when taking his meal at home with his wife or family; but so irregular, and often of necessity, are these men's hours, that they may be said to have no homes, merely places to sleep or dose in.

A working scavager and nightman calculated for me his expenses in eating and drinking, and other necessaries, for the previous week. He had earned , but of this went to pay off an advance of made to him by the keeper of a beer-shop, or, as he called it, a "jerry."

   Daily. Weekly. 
   d. s. d. 
 Rent of an unfurnished room   1 9 
 Washing (average) . . . .     3 
 [The man himself washed the dress in which he worked, and generally washed his own stockings.]       
 Shaving (when twice a week)     1 
 Tobacco . . . . . . . 1   7 
 [Short pipes are given to these men at the beershops, or public-houses which they "use."]       
 Beer . . . . . . . . 4 2 4 
 [He usually spent more than 4d. a day in beer, he said, "it was only a pot;" but this week more beer than usual had been given to him in nightwork.]       
 Gin . . . . . . . . 2 1 2 
 [The same with gin.]       
 Cocoa (pint at a coffee-shop) . 1 1/2   10 1/2 
 Bread (quartern loaf) (sometimes 5 1/2d.) . . . . . 6 3 6 
 Boiled salt beef ( 3/4 lb. or 1/2 lb. daily, "as happened," for two meals, 6d. per pound, average. . . . . . . 4 2 4 
 Pickles or Onions . . . . 0 1/4   1 3/4 
 Butter . . . . . . . .     1 
 Soap . . . . . . . .     1 
     13 2 1/4 

Perhaps this informant was excessive in his drink. I believe he was so; the others not drinking so much regularly. The odd , he told me, he paid to "a snob," because he said he was going to send his half-boots to be mended.

This man informed me he was a "widdur," having lost his old 'oman, and he got all his meals at a beer or coffee-shop. Sometimes, when he was a street-sweeper by day and a nightman by night, he had earned to ; and then he could have his pound of salt meat a day, for meals, with a "baked tatur or so, when they was in." I inquired as to the apparently low charge of per pound for cooked meat, but I found that the man had stated what was correct. In many parts good boiled "brisket," fresh cut, is and per lb., with mustard into the bargain; and the cook-shop keepers (not the eating-house people) who sell boiled hams, beef, &c., in retail, but not to be eaten on the premises, vend the hard remains of a brisket, and sometimes of a round, for , or even less (also with mustard), and the scavagers like this better than any other food. In the brisk times my informant sometimes had "a hot cut" from a shop on a Sunday, and a more liberal allowance of beer and gin. If he had any piece of clothing to buy he always bought it at once, before his money went for other things. These were his proceedings when business was brisk.

In slacker times his diet was on another footing. He then made his supper, or meal, for tea he seldom touched, on "fagots." This preparation of baked meats costs hot— but it is seldom sold hot except in the evening— and , or more frequently for , cold. It is a sort of cake, roll, or ball, a number being baked at a time, and is made of chopped liver and lights, mixed with gravy, and wrapped in pieces of pig's caul. It weights ounces, so that it is unquestionably a cheap, and, to the scavager, a savoury meal; but to other nostrils its odour is not seductive. My informant regretted the capital fagots he used to get at a shop when he worked in ; superior to anything he had been able to meet with on the Middlesex side of the water. Or he dined off a saveloy, costing , and bread; or bought a pennyworth of strong cheese, and a farthing's worth of onions. He would further reduce his daily expenditure on cocoa (or coffee sometimes) to , and his bread to -quarters of a loaf. He ate, however, in average times, a quarter of a quartern loaf to his breakfast (sometimes buying a halfpennyworth of butter), a quarter or more to his dinner, the same to his supper, and the other, with an onion for a relish, to his beer. He was a great bread eater, he said; but sometimes, if he slept in the daytime, half a loaf would "stand over to next day." He was always hungriest when at work among the street-mud or night-soil, or when he had finished work.

On my asking him if he meant that he partook of the meals he had described daily, "he answered "no," but that was what he had; and if he bought a bit of cold boiled, or


even roast pork, "what offered cheap," the expense was about the same. When he was drinking, and he did "make a break sometimes," he ate nothing, and "wasn't inclined to," and he seemed rather to plume himself on this, as a point of economy. He had tasted fruit pies, but cared nothing for them; but liked penn'orth of a hot meat or giblet pie on a Sunday. Batterpudding he only liked if smoking hot; and it was "uncommon improved," he said, "with an ingan!" Rum he preferred to gin, only it was dearer, but most of the scavagers, he thought, liked Old Tom (gin) best; but "they was both good."

Of the drinking of these men I heard a good deal, and there is no doubt that some of them tope hard, and by their conduct evince a sort of belief that the great end of labour is beer. But it must be borne in mind that if inquiries are made as to the man best adapted to give information concerning any rude calling (especially), some talkative member of the body of these working men, some pot-house hero who has pursuaded himself and his ignorant mates that he is an oracle, is put forward. As these men are sometimes, from being trained to, and long known in their callings, more prosperous than their fellows, their opinions seem ratified by their circumstances. But in such cases, or in the appearance of such cases, it has been my custom to make subsequent inquiries, or there might be frequent misleadings, were the statements of these men taken as typical of the feelings and habits of the body. The statement of the working scavager given under this head is unquestionably typical of the character of a portion of his co-workers, and more especially of what was, and in the sort of hereditary scavagers I have spoken of , the character of the regular hands. There are now, however, many checks to prolonged indulgence in "lush," as every man of the ruder streetsweep- ing class call it. The contractors must be served regularly; the most indulgent will not tolerate any unreasonable absence from work, so that the working scavagers, at the jeopardy of their means of living, must leave their carouse at an hour which will permit them to rise soon enough in the morning.

The beer which these men imbibe, it should be also remembered, they regard as a proper part of their diet, in the same light, indeed, as they regard so much bread, and that among them the opinion is almost universal, that beer is necessary to "keep up their strength;" there are a few teetotallers belonging to the class; man thought he , and had of others.

I inquired of the landlord of a beer-shop, frequented by these men, as to their potations, but he wanted to make it appear that they took a half-pint, , when thirsty! He was evidently tender of the character of his customers. The landlord of a public house also frequented by them informed me that he really could not say what they expended in beer, for labourers of all kinds "used his tap," and as all tap-room liquor was paid for on delivery in his and all similar establishments, he did not know the quantity supplied to any particular class. He was satisfied these men, as a whole, drank less than they did at time; though he had no doubt some (he seemed to know no distinctions between scavagers, dustmen, and nightmen) spent a day in drink. He knew scavager who was dozing about not long since for nearly a week, "sleepy drunk," and the belief was that he had "found something." The absence of all accounts prevents my coming to anything definite on this head, but it seems positive that these men drink less than they did. The landlord in question thought the statement I have given as to diet and drink perfectly correct for a regular hand in good earnings. I am assured, however, and it is my own opinion, after long inquiry, that - of their earnings is spent in drink.

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 Title Page
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