London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Street-Orderlies.
THIS constitutes the last of the varieties of labour employed in the cleansing of the public thoroughfares of London. I have already treated of the self-supporting manual labour, the selfsupporting machine labour, and the pauper labour, and now proceed to the consideration of the philanthropic labour of the streets.
In the place, let us understand clearly what is meant by philanthropic labour, and how it is distinguished from pauper labour on the hand, and self-supporting labour on the other. Self-supporting labour I take to be that form of work which returns not less, and generally something more, than is expended upon it. Pauper labour, on the other hand, is work to which the applicants for parish relief are "set," not with a view to the profit to be derived from it, but partly as a test of their willingness to work, and partly as a means of employing the unemployed; while philanthropic labour is employment provided for the unemployed with the same disregard of profit as distinguishes pauper labour, but with a greater regard for the poor, and as a means of affording them relief in a less degrading manner than is done under the present Poor Law. Pauper and philanthropic labour, then, differ essentially from self-supporting labour in being modes of employment; that is to say, they yield so bare an equivalent for the sum expended upon the labourers, that none, in the ordinary way of trade, can be found to provide the means necessary for putting them into operation: while pauper labour differs from philanthropic labour, in the fact that the funds requisite for "setting the poor on work" are provided by law as a matter of social policy, whereas, in the case of philanthropic labour, the funds, or a part of them, are supplied by voluntary contributions, out of a desire to improve the labourers' condition. There are, then, distinguishing features in all philanthropic labour—the is, that it yields no profit (if it did it would become a matter of trade), and the other, that it is instituted and maintained from a wish to benefit the labourer.
The Street-Orderly system forms part of the operations on behalf of the poor adopted by a society, of which Mr. Charles Cochrane is the president, entitled the "National Philanthropic Association," which is said to have for its object "the promotion of social and salutiferous improvements, street cleanliness, and the employment of the poor, so that able-bodied men may be prevented from burthening the parish-rate, and preserved independent of workhouse, alms, and degradation." Here a twofold object is expressed: the Philanthropic Association seeks not only to benefit the poor by giving them employment, and "preserving them independent of workhouse, alms, and degradation," but to benefit the public likewise, by "promoting social and salutiferous improvements and street cleanliness." I shall deal with each of these objects separately; but let me declare, so as to remove all suspicion of private feelings tending in any way to bias my judgment in this most important matter, that I am an utter stranger to the President and Council of the Philanthropic Association; and that, whatever I may have to say on the subject of the street-orderlies, I do simply in conformity with my duty to the public—to state truthfully all that concerns the labourers and the poor of the metropolis.
—establishing the lowest point to which competition can possibly drive down the remuneration for labour; for it is evident, that if the self-supporting labourer cannot obtain greater comforts by the independent exercise of his industry than the parish rates or private charity will afford him, he will at once give over working for the trading employer, and declare on the funds raised by assessment or voluntary subscription for his support. Hence, those who wish well to the labourer, and who believe that cheapness of commodities is desirable "only," as Mr. Stewart Mill says (p. , vol. ii.), "when the cause of it is, that their production costs little labour, and not when occasioned by that labour's
|being ill-remunerated;" and who believe, moreover, that the labourer is to be benefited solely by the cultivation of a high standard of comfort among the people — to such, I say, it is evident, that a poor law which reduces the relief to able-bodied labourers to the smallest modicum of food consistent with the continuation of life must be about the greatest curse that can possibly come upon an overpopu- lated country, admitting, as it does, of the reduction of wages to so low a point of mere brutal existence as to induce that recklessness and improvidence among the poor which is known to give so strong an impetus to the increase of the people. A minimized rate of parish relief is necessarily a minimized rate of wages, and admits of the labourers' pay being reduced, by pauper competition, to little short of starvation; and such, doubtlessly, would have been the case long ago in the scavaging trade by the employment of parish labour, had not the Philanthropic Association instituted the system of street-orderlies, and by the payment of a higher rate of wages than the more grinding parishes afforded—by giving the men instead of or even a week— prevented the remuneration of the regular hands being dragged down to an approximation to the parish level. Hence, rightly viewed, philanthropic labour—and, indeed, pauper labour too—comes under the head of a remedy for low wages, as preventing, if properly regulated, the undue depreciation of industry from excessive competition, and it is in this light that I shall now proceed to consider it.|
The several plans that have been propounded from time to time, as remedies for an insufficient rate of remuneration for work, are as multifarious as the circumstances influencing the requisites for production—labour, capital, and land. I will here run over as briefly as possible—abstaining from the expression of all opinion on the subject— the various schemes which have been proposed with this object, so that the reader may come as prepared as possible to the consideration of the matter.
The remedies for low wages may be arranged into distinct groups, viz., those which seek to increase the labourer's rate of pay , and those which seek to do so
The remedies for low wages that have been propounded are:—
A. This has been proposed to be brought about by different means, viz.:—
. By law or government authority; either () fixing the minimum rate of wages, and leaving the variations above that point to be adjusted by competition (this, as we have seen, is the effect of the poor-law); or, () settling the rate of wages generally by means of local boards of trade for , consisting of delegates from the workmen and employers, to determine, by the principles of natural equity, a scale of remu- neration in the several trades, their decision being binding in law on both the employers and the employed.
. By public opinion; this has been generally proposed by those who are what Mr. Mill terms "shy of admitting the interference of authority in contracts for labour," fearing that if the law intervened it would do so rashly and ignorantly, and desiring to compass by sanction what they consider useless or dangerous to attempt to bring about by means. "Every employer," says Mr. Mill, "they think, to give ," and if he does not give such wages willingly, he should be compelled to do so by public opinion.
. By trade societies or combination among the workmen; that is to say, by the payment of a small sum per week out of the wages of the workmen, towards the formation of a fund for the support of such of their fellow operatives as may be out of employment, or refuse to work for those employers who seek to give less than the standard rate of wages established by the trade.
B. This is principally the object of the Anti-Truck Society, which seeks to obtain an Act of Parliament, enjoining the payment in full of all wages. The stoppages or extortions from workmen's wages generally consist of:—
. Fines for real or pretended misconduct.
. Rents for tools, frames, gas, and sometimes lodgings.
. Sale of trade appliances (as trimmings, thread, &c.) at undue prices.
. Sale of food, drink, &c., at an exorbitant rate of profit.
. Payment in public-houses; as the means of inducing the men to spend a portion of their earnings in drink.
. Deposit of money as security before taking out work; so that the capital of the employer is increased without payment of interest to the workpeople.
. Perquisites or gratuities obtained from the public; as with waiters, boxkeepers, coachmen, dustmen, vergers, and others.
. Beer money, and other "allowances" to workmen.
. Family work; or the co-operation of the wife and children as a means of increasing the workman's income.
. Allotments of land, to be cultivated after the regular day's labour.
. The parish "allowance system," or relief in aid of wages, as practised under the old Poor Law.
. Cheap food.
. Cheap lodgings; through building improved dwellings for the poor, and doing away with the profit of sub-letting.
. Co-operative stores; or the "club system" of obtaining provisions at wholesale prices.
. The abolition of the payment of wages on Sunday morning, or at so late an hour on the Saturday night as to prevent the labourer availing himself of the Saturday's market.
. Teetotalism; as causing the men to spend nothing in fermented drinks, and so leaving them more to spend on food.
Such are the modes of remedying low wages, viz., either by preventing the price of labour itself falling below a certain standard; prohibiting all stoppages from the pay of the labourer; instituting certain aids or additions to such pay; or increasing the money value of the ordinary wages by reducing the price of provisions.
The modes of remedying low wages are of a far more complex character. They consist of, , the remedies propounded by political economists, which are—
A. for gaining this end several plans have been proposed, as—
. Checks against the increase of the population, for which the following are the chief Malthusian proposals:—
Preventive checks for the hindrance of impregnation.
Prohibition of early marriages among the poor.
Increase of the standard of comfort, or requirements, among the people; as a means of inducing prudence and restraint of the passions.
Infanticide; as among the Chinese.
. Emigration; as a means of draining off the surplus labourers.
. Limitation of apprentices in skilled trades; as a means of preventing the undue increase of particular occupations. This, however, is advocated not by economists, but generally by operatives.
. Prevention of family work; or the discouragement of the labour of the wives and children of operatives. This, again, cannot be said to be an "economist" remedy.
. By government imposts. "Governments," says Mr. Mill, "can create additional industry by creating capital. They may lay on taxes, and employ the amount productively." This was the object of the original Poor Law ( Eliz.), which empowered the overseers of the poor to "raise weekly, or otherwise, by taxation of every inhabitant, &c., such sums of money as they shall require for providing a sufficient stock of flax, hemp, wool, and other ware or stuff, to set the poor on work."
. By the issue of paper money. The pro- position of Mr. Jonathan Duncan is, that the government should issue notes equivalent to the taxation of the country, with the view of affording increased employment to the poor; the people being set to work as it were upon credit, in the same manner as the labourers were employed to build the market-house at Guernsey.
C. by the abolition of all restrictions on commerce, and the encouragement of the free interchange of commodities, so that, by increasing the demand for our products, we may be able to afford employment to an extra number of producers.
The above constitute what, with a few exceptions, may be termed, more particularly, the "economist" remedies for low wages.
D. For this end, several means have been put forward.
. The shortening the hours of labour, and abolition of Sunday-work.
. Alteration of the mode of work; as the substitution of day-work for piece-work, as a means of decreasing the stimulus to overwork.
. Extension of the term of hiring; by the substitution of annual engagements for daily or weekly hirings, with a view to the prevention of "casual labour."
. Limitation of the number of hands employed by capitalist; so as to prevent the undue extension of "the large system of production."
. Taxation of machinery; with the object, not only of making it contribute its quota to the revenue of the country, but of impeding its undue increase.
. The discountenance of every form of work that tends to the making up of a greater quantity of materials with a less quantity of labour; and consequently to the expenditure of a greater proportion of the capital of the country on machinery or materials, and a correspondingly less proportion on the labourers.
E. with the view of preventing the labour of the comparatively untaxed and uncivilized foreigner being brought into competition with that of the taxed and civilized producer at home.
F. as enabling the home labourer the better to compete with the foreigner.
The latter proposals, and that of the extension of the markets, may be said to seek to remedy low wages by expanding or circumscribing the foreign trade of the country.
G. For this object several schemes have been propounded:—
. The "tribute system" of wages; or payment of labour according to the additional value which it confers on the materials on which it operates.
. The abolition of the middleman; whether "sweater," "piece-master," "lumper," or what not, coming between the employer and employed.
. Co-operation; or joint-stock associations of labourers, with the view of abolishing the profit of the capitalist employer.
H. with the view of abolishing the profit of the dealer, between the producer and consumer—as co-operative stores, where the consumers club together for the purchase of their goods directly of the producers.
I. for attaining this end there are but known means:—
. Communism; or the abolition of all rights to individual property.
. Agapism; or the voluntary sharing of individual possessions with the less fortunate or successful members of the community.
These remedies may, with a few exceptions (such as the tribute system of wages, and the abelition of middlemen), be said to constitute the socialist and communist schemes for the prevention of distress.
J. and so removing the surplus labour from the market. modes of effecting this have been proposed:—
. Home colonization, or the cultivation of waste lands by the poor.
. Orderlyism, or the employment of the poor in the promotion of public cleanliness, and the increased sanitary condition of the country.
K. as the means of enabling the poor to obtain gratuitous pasturage for their cattle.
L. with the view of dividing the land among a greater number of individuals.
M. and equal apportionment of it among the poor.
N. and so allowing the workman, as well as the capitalist and the landlord, to take part in the formation of the laws of the country. For this purpose there are plans:—
. "The freehold-land movement," which seeks to enable the people to become proprietors of as much land as will, under the present law, give them "a voice" in the country.
. Chartism, or that which seeks to alter the law concerning the election of members of Parliament, and to confer the right of voting on every male of mature age, sound mind, and non-criminal character.
O. This form of remedy, which is advocated by many, is based on the argument, that, without some mitigation of the "selfishness of the times," all other schemes for improving the condition of the people will be either evaded by the cunning of the rich, or defeated by the servility of the poor.
The above I believe to be a full and fair statement of the several plans that have been proposed, from time to time, for alleviating the distress of the people. This enumeration is as comprehensive as my knowledge will enable me to make it; and I have abstained from all comment on the several schemes, so that the reader may have an opportunity of impartially weighing the merits of each, and adopting that, which in his own mind, seems best calculated to effect what, after all, we every desire—whether protectionist, economist, freetrader, philanthropist, socialist, communist, or chartist—the good of the country in which we live, and the people by whom we are surrounded.
Now we have to deal here with that particular remedy for low wages or distress which consists in creating additional employment for the poor, and of which the street-orderly system is an example.
The increase of employment for the poor was the main object of the Eliz., for which purpose, as we have seen, the overseers of the several parishes were empowered to raise a fund by assessments upon the property of the rich, for providing "a sufficient stock of flax, hemp, wool, and other ware or stuff, to set the poor on work." But though economists, to this day, tell us that "while, on the hand, industry is limited by capital, so, on the other, every increase of capital gives, or is capable of giving, additional employment to industry, and this without assignable limit," nevertheless the great difficulty of carrying out the provisions of the original poor-law has consisted in finding a market for the products of pauper labour, for the frequent gluts in our manufactures are sufficient to teach us that it is thing to produce and another to dispose of the products; so that to create additional employment for the poor something besides capital is requisite: it is necessary either that they shall be engaged in producing that which they themselves immediately consume, or that for which the market admits of being extended.
The plans proposed for the employment of the poor, it will be seen, consist () in the cultivation of waste lands; () in promoting public cleanliness, and so increasing the sanitary condition of the country. The , it is evident, removes the objection of a market being needed for the products of the labour of the poor, since it pro-
|poses that their energies should be devoted to the production of the food which they themselves consume; while the seeks to create additional employment in effecting that increased cleanliness which more enlightened physiological views have not only made more desirable, but taught us to be absolutely necessary to the health and enjoyment of the community.|
The great impediment, however, to the profitable employment of the poor, has generally been the unproductive or unavailing character of pauper labour. This has been mainly owing to the fact that the able-bodied who are deprived of employment are necessarily the lowest grade of operatives; for, in the displacement of workmen, those are the discarded whose labour is found to be the least efficient, either from a deficiency of skill, industry, or sobriety, so that pauper labour is necessarily of the least productive character.
Another great difficulty with the employment of the poor is, that the idle, or those to whom work is more than usually irksome, require a stronger inducement than ordinary to make them labour, and the remuneration for parish work being necessarily less than for any other, those who are pauperized through idleness (the most benevolent among us must allow there are such) are naturally less than ever disposed to labour when they become paupers. All pauper work, therefore, is generally unproductive or unavailing, because it is either inexpert or unwilling work. The labour of the in-door paupers, who receive only their food for their pains, is necessarily of the same compulsory character as slavery; while that of the out-door paupers, with the remuneration often cut down to the lowest subsisting point, is scarcely of a more willing or more availing kind.
Owing to this general unproductiveness, (as well as the difficulty of finding a field for the profitable employment of the unemployed poor,) the labour of paupers has been for a long time past directed mainly to the cleansing of the public thoroughfares. Still, from the degrading nature of the occupation, and the small remuneration for the toil, pauper labourers have been found to be such unwilling workers that many parishes have long since given over employing their poor even in this capacity, preferring to entrust the work to a contractor, with his paid self-supporting operatives, instead.
The founder of the Philanthropic Association appears to have been fully aware of the great difficulties besetting the profitable employment of the poor, viz., () finding a field for the exercise of their labours where they might be "set on work" with benefit to the community, and without injary to the independent operatives already engaged in the same occupation; and () overcoming the unwillingness, and consequently the unavailingness, of pauper labour.
The difficulty Mr. Cochrane has endeavoured to obviate by taking advantage of that growing desire for greater public cleanliness which has arisen from the increased knowledge of the principles governing the health of towns; and the , by giving the men instead of or a week, or worse than all, and a quartern loaf a day for days in the week, and so not only augmenting the stimulus to work (for it should be remembered that wages are to the human machine what the fire is to the steam-engine), but preventing the undue depreciation of the labour of the independent workman. He who discovers the means of increasing the rewards of labour, is as great a friend to his race as he who strives to depreciate them is the public enemy; and I do not hesitate to confess, that I look upon Mr. Charles Cochrane as of the illustrious few who, in these days of unremunerated toil, and their necessary concomitants—beggars and thieves, has come forward to help the labourers of this country from their daily-increasing degradation. His benevolence is of that enlightened order which seeks to extend rather than destroy the self-trust of the poor, not only by creating additional employment for them, but by rendering that employment less repulsive.
The means by which Mr. Cochrane has endeavoured to gain these ends constitutes the system called Street-Orderlyism, which therefore admits of being viewed in distinct aspects—, as a new mode of improving "the health of towns," and, secondly, as an improved method of employing the poor.
Concerning the , I must confess that the system of scavaging or cleansing the public thoroughfares pursued by the street-orderlies assumes, when contemplated in a sanitary point of view, all the importance and simplicity of a great discovery. It has been before pointed out that this system consists not only in cleansing the streets, but in them clean. By the street-orderly method of scavaging, the thoroughfares are continually being cleansed, and so never allowed to become dirty; whereas, by the ordinary method, they are not cleansed they are dirty. Hence the modes of scavaging are diametrically opposed; under the the streets are cleansed as fast as dirtied, while under the other they are dirtied as fast as cleansed; so that by the new system of scavaging the public thoroughfares are maintained in a perpetual state of cleanliness, whereas by the old they may be said to be kept in a continual state of dirt.
The street-orderly system of scavaging, however, is not only worthy of high commendation as a more efficient means of gaining a particular end—a simplification of a certain process—but it calls for our highest praise as well for the end gained as for the means of gaining it. If it be really a sound physiological principle, that the Creator has made dirt offensive to every rightly-constituted mind, because it is injurious to us, and so established in us an instinct, before we could discover a reason, for removing all refuse from our presence, it becomes, now that we have detected the cause of the feeling in us, at once disgusting and irrational to allow the filth to accumulate in our streets in front of our houses. If typhus, cholera, and other pestilences are but divine punishments
|inflicted on us for the infraction of that most kindly law by which the health of a people has been made to depend on that which is naturally agreeable—cleanliness, then our instinct for selfpreservation should force us, even if our sense of enjoyment would not lead us, to remove as fast as it is formed what is at once as dangerous as it should be repulsive to our natures. Sanitarily regarded, the cleansing of a town is of the most important objects that can engage the attention of its governors; the removal of its refuse being quite as necessary for the continuance of the existence of a people as the supply of their food. In the economy of Nature there is no loss: this the great doctrine of waste and supply has taught us; the detritus of rock is the conglomerate of another; the evaporation of the ocean is the source of the river; the poisonous exhalations of animals the vital air of plants; and the refuse of man and beasts the food of their food. The dust and cinders from our fires, the "slops" from the washing of our houses, the excretions of our bodies, the detritus and "surfacewater" of our streets, have all their offices to perform in the great scheme of creation; and if left to rot and fust about us not only injure our health, but diminish the supplies of our food. The filth of the thoroughfares of the metropolis forms, it would appear, the staple manure of the marketgardens in the suburbs; out of the London mud come the London cabbages: so that an improvement in the scavaging of the metropolis tends not only to give the people improved health, but improved vegetables; for that which is nothing but a pestiferous muck-heap in the town becomes a vivifying garden translated to the country.|
Dirt, however, is not only as prejudicial to our health and offensive to our senses, when allowed to accumulate in our streets, as it is beneficial to us when removed to our gardens,—but it is a most expensive commodity to keep in front of our houses. It has been shown, that the cost to the people of London, in the matter of extra washing induced by defective scavaging, is at the least sterling per annum (the Board of Health estimate it at ); and the loss from extra wear and tear of clothes from brushing and scrubbing, arising from the like cause, is about the same prodigious sum; while the injury done to the furniture of private houses, and the goods exposed for sale in shops, though impossible to be estimated—appears to be something enormous: so that the loss from the defective scavaging of the metropolis seems, at the lowest calculation, to amount to several millions per annum; and hence it becomes of the highest possible importance, economically as well as physiologically, that the streets should be cleansed in the most effective manner.
Now, that the street-orderly system is the only rational and efficacious mode of street cleansing both theory and practice assure us. To allow the filth to accumulate in the streets before any steps are taken to remove it, is the same as if we were never to wash our bodies until they were dirty— it is to be perpetually striving to cure the disease, when with scarcely any more trouble we might prevent it entirely. There is, indeed, the same difference between the new and the old system of scavaging, as there is between a bad and a good housewife: the never cleaning her house until it is dirty, and the other continually cleaning it, so as to prevent it being ever dirty.
Hence it would appear, that the street-orderly system of scavaging would be a great public benefit, even were there no other object connected with it than the increased cleanliness of our streets; but in a country like Great , afflicted as it is with a surplus population (no matter from what cause), that each day finds the difficulty of obtaining work growing greater, the opening up of new fields of employment for the poor is perhaps the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon the nation. Without the discovery of such new fields, "the setting the poor on work" is merely, as I have said, to throw out of employment those who are already employed; it is not to decrease, but really to increase, the evil of the times—to add to, rather than diminish, the number of our paupers or our thieves. The increase of employment in a nation, however, requires, not only a corresponding increase of capital, but a like increase in the demand or desire, as well as in the pecuniary means, of the people to avail themselves of the work on which the poor are set (that is to say, in the extension of the home market); it requires, also, some mode of stimulating the energies of the workers, so as to make them labour more willingly, and consequently more availingly, than usual. These conditions appear to have been fulfilled by Mr. Cochrane, in the establishment of the street-orderlies. He has introduced, in connection with this body, a system of scavaging which, while it employs a greater number of hands, produces such additional benefits as cannot but be considered an equivalent for the increased expenditure; though it is even doubtful whether, by the collection of the street manure unmixed with the mud, the extra value of that article alone will not go far to compensate for the additional expense; if, however, there be added to this the saving to the metropolitan parishes in the cost of watering the streets—for under the street-orderly system this is not required, the dust never being allowed to accumulate, and consequently never requiring to be "laid" —as well as the greater saving of converting the paupers into self-supporting labourers; together with the diminished expense of washing and doctors' bills, consequent on the increased cleanliness of the streets—there cannot be the least doubt that the employment of the poor as streetorderlies is no longer a matter of philanthropy, but of mere commercial prudence.
Such appear to me to be the principal objects of Mr. Cochrane's street-orderly system of scavaging; and it is a subject upon which I have spoken the more freely, because, being unacquainted with that gentleman, none can suspect me of being prejudiced in his favour, and because I have felt that the good which he has done and is likely to do to the poor, has been comparatively unacknow-
|ledged by the public, and that society and the people owe him a heavy debt of gratitude.|
I shall now proceed to set forth the character of the labour, and the condition and remuneration of the labourers in connection with the street-orderly system of scavaging the metropolitan thoroughfares.
The appearance of the street-orderlies in the metropolis was in . Mr. Charles Cochrane, who had previously formed the National Philanthropic Association, with its eleemosynary soupkitchens, &c., then introduced the system of streetorderlies, as enabling many destitute men to support themselves by their labour; as well as, in his estimation, a better, and eventually a more economical, mode of street-cleansing, and partaking also somewhat of the character of a street police.
The "demonstration," or display of the street-orderly system, took place in , between the Quadrant and the Regent-circus, and in , between and Charlesstreet. The streets were thoroughly swept in the morning, and then each man or boy, provided with a hand-broom and dust-pan, removed any dirt as soon as it was deposited. The demonstration was pronounced highly successful and the system effective, in the opinion of eighteen influential inhabitants of the locality who acted as a committee, and who publicly, and with the authority of their names, testified their conviction that "the most efficient means of keeping streets clean, and more especially great thoroughfares, was to prevent the accumulation of dirt, by removing the manure within a few minutes after it has been deposited by the passing cattle; the same having, hitherto, remained during several days."
The cost of this demonstration amounted to about , of which, the Report states, " still remains due from the shop-keepers to the Association; which," it is delicately added, "from late commercial difficulties they have not yet repaid" (in ).
Whilst the street-orderlies were engaged in cleansing , &c., the City Commissioners of the sewers of London were invited to depute some person to observe and report to them concerning the method pursued; but with that instinctive sort of repugnance which seems to animate the great bulk of city officials against improvement of any kind, the reply was, that they "did not consider the same worthy their attention." The matter, however, was not allowed to drop, and by the persevering efforts of Mr. Cochrane, the president, and of the body of gentlemen who form the Council of the Association, , , and the most important parts of the very heart of the city were at length cleansed according to the new method. The ratepayers then showed that , at least, consider "the same worthy of attention," for out of within a few days signed memorials recommending the adoption of what they pronounced an improvement, and a public meeting was held in (), at which resolutions in favour of the street-orderly method were passed. The authorities did not adopt these recommendations, but they ventured so far to depart from their venerable routine as to order the streets to be "swept every day!" This employed upwards of men, whereas at the period when the sages of the city sewers did not consider any proposed improvement in scavagery worthy their attention, the number of men employed by them in cleansing the streets did not exceed .
The street-orderly system was afterwards tried in the parishes of St. Paul, Covent-garden, St. James (), St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. Anne, Soho, and others—sometimes calling forth opposition, of course from the authorities connected with the established modes of paving, scavaging, &c.
It is not my intention to write a complete history of the street-orderlies, but merely to sketch their progress, as well as describe their peculiar characteristics.
Within these few months public meetings have been held in almost every of the wards of the City, at which approving resolutions were either passed unanimously or carried by large majorities; and the street-orderly system is now about to be introduced into St. Martin's parish instead of the street-sweeping machine.
As far as the street-orderly system has been tried, and judging only by the testimony of public examination and public record of opinion, the trial has certainly been a success. A memorial to the Court of Sewers, from the ward of , supported by the leading merchants of that locality, in recommendation of the employment of streetorderlies, seems to bear more closely on the subject than any I have yet seen.
But it is not only in the metropolis that the street-orderlies seem likely to become the established scavagers. The streets of Windsor, I am informed, are now in the course of being cleansed upon the orderly plan. In Amsterdam, there are at present orderlies regularly employed upon scavaging a portion of the city, and in Paris and Belgium, I am assured, arrangements are being made for the introduction of the system into both those cities. Were the street-orderly mode of scavaging to become general throughout this country, it is estimated that employment would be given to labourers, so that, with the families of these men, not less than half a million of people would be supported in a state of independence by it. The total number of adult ablebodied paupers relieved—in-door and out-door— throughout England and Wales, on , was .
The following table shows the route of the streetorderly operations in the metropolis. A further
column, in the Report from which the table has been extracted, contained the names of clergymen who have "weekly read prayers and delivered
discourses to the street-orderlies at their respective stations, and recorded flattering testimonials of their conduct and demeanour."
The period of years comprised in the above statement ( and being both included) gives a yearly average, as to the number of the poor employed, exceeding , with a similar average of wives and children, and a yearly average outlay of The number of orderlies now employed by the Association is from to .
Such, then, is a brief account of the rise and progress of this new mode of street-sweeping, and we now come to a description of the work itself.
"The orderlies," says the Report of the Association, "keep the streets free from mud in winter, and dust in summer; and that with the least possible personal drudgery:—adhering to the principle of operation laid down, viz., that of ',' they have merely, after each morning's sweeping and removal of dirt, to keep a vigilant look-out over the surface of street allotted to them; and to remove with the handbrush and dust-pan, from any particular spot, whatever dirt or rubbish may fall upon it, Thus are the streets under their care kept constantly clean.
But sweeping and removing dirt," continues the Report, "is not the only occupation of the street-orderly, whilst keeping up a careful inspection of the ground allotted to him. He is also the watchman of house-property and shop-goods; the guardian of reticules, pocketbooks, purses, and watch-pockets; — the experienced observer and detector of pickpockets; the ever ready, though unpaid, auxiliary to the police constable. Nay, more;—he is always at hand, to render assistance to both equestrian and pedestrian: if a horse slip, stumble, or fall,—if a carriage break down, or vehicles come into collision,—the street-orderly darts forward to raise and rectify them: if foot-passengers be run over, or knocked down, or incautiously loiter on a crossing, the street-orderly rescues them from peril or death; or warns them of the approaching danger of carriages driving in opposite directions: if other accidents befall pedestrians,—if they fall on the pavement, from sudden illness, faintness, or apoplexy, the street-orderly is at hand to render assistance, or convey them to the nearest surgery or hospital. If strangers are at fault as to the localities of London, or the place of their destination, the orderly, in a civil and respectful manner, directs them on their way. If habitual or professional mendicants are importunate or troublesome, the street-orderly warns them off; or hands them to the care of the policeman. And if a poor or starving fellow-creature wanders in search of food or alms, he leads him to a workhouse or soup-kitchen.
The foregoing extract fully indicates the system pursued and results of street-orderlyism. I will now deal with what may be considered
By the street-orderly plan a district is duly apportioned. To man is assigned the care of a series of courts, a street, or , , , , or yards of a public way, according to its traffic, after the whole surface has been swept "the thing in the morning." In , for instance, it has been estimated that yards can be kept clear of the dirt continually being deposited by man; in the squares, where there is no great traffic, yards; while in so busy a part as , some men will be required to be hourly on the look-out. These street-orderlies are confined to their beats as strictly as are policeman, and as they soon become known to the inhabitants, it is a means of checking any disposition to loiter, or to shirk the work; to say nothing of the corps of inspectors and superintendents.
The among the streetorder- lies is as follows:—
. The , whose duty is to "look over the men" ( such over-looker being employed to about every men), and who receives per week.
. The , or sweepers, consisting of men and boys; the former receiving and the latter generally per week.
The used, and their cost, are as follows:—wooden scoops, to throw up the slop, each (they used to be made of iron, weighing lbs. each, but the men then complained that the weight "broke their arms"); shovel, ; hoe and scraper, ; hand-broom, ; scavager's broom, ; barrow, ; covered barrow,
In the amount of his receipts, the streetorderly appears to a disadvantage, as many of the "regular hands" of the contractors receive weekly, and he but The reason for this circumscribed payment I have already alluded to—the deficiency of funds to carry out the full purposes of the Association. Contrasted with the remuneration of the great majority of the pauper scavagers, the street-orderly is in a state of comparative comfort, for he receives nearly double as much as the Guardians of the Poor of and the Liberty of the Rolls pay their labourers, and full per cent. more than is paid by , Deptford, Marylebone, St. James's, , St. George's, , and St. Andrew's, ; and, I am assured, it is the intention of the Council to pay the full rate of wages given by the more respectable scavagers, viz., a week each man. The labourer never can be benefited by depreciating the ordinary wages of his trade; and I must in justice confess, that there are scattered throughout the Report repeated regrets that the funds of the Association will not admit of a higher rate of wages being paid.
The street-orderly is not subjected to any fines or drawbacks, and is paid always in money, every Saturday evening at the office of the Association. In this respect, however, he does not differ from other bodies of scavagers.
The usual mode of obtaining employment among the street-orderlies is by personal application at the office of the Association in ; but sometimes letters, well-penned and wellworded, are addressed to the president.
The daily number of applicants for employment is far from demonstrative of that unbroken prosperity of the country, of which we hear so much. On my inquiring into the number, I ascertained towards the end of August, that, for the previous fortnight, during fine summer weather, London being still full of the visitors to the Exhibition, on an average men, of nearly all conditions of life, applied personally each day for work at street-sweeping, at a week. Certainly this labour is not connected with the feeling of pauper degradation, but it does not look well for the country that in days men should apply for such work. On the year's average, I am assured, there are applications daily, but only new applicants, as men call to solicit an engagement again and again. Thus in the year there are applications, and individual applicants. In the course of month last winter, there were applications from boys in Spitalfields alone, to be set to work; and I am told, that had they been successful, lads would have applied the next month.
When an application is made by any recommended by subscribers, &c., to the Association, or where the case seems worthy of attention, the names and addresses are entered in a book, with a slight sketch of the circumstances of the person wishing to become a street-orderly, so that inquiries may be made. I give a few of the more recent of these entries and descriptions, which are really "histories in little":—
In my account of the "regular hands" employed by the contracting scavagers, I have stated that the street-orderlies were a more miscellaneous body, as they had not been reared in the same proportion to street work. They are also, I may add, a better-conducted and better-informed class than the general run of unskilled labourers, as they know, before applying for street-orderly work, that inquiries are made concerning them, and that men of reprobate character will not be employed.
Many of those employed as orderlies have since returned to their original employments; others have procured, and been recommended to, superior situations in life to that of streetorderlies, by the Council of the Association, but " This certainly looks well.
street-orderly, I may add, is now a reputable school-master, and has been so for some time; another is a clerk under similar circumstances. Another is a good theoretical and practical musician, having officiated as organist in churches and at concerts; he is also a neat music copyist. Another tells of his correspondence with a bishop on theological topics. Another, with a long and well-cultured beard, has been a model for artists. had left to him not long ago, which was soon spent; his wife spent it, he said, and then he quietly applied to be permitted to be again a street-orderly. Several have got engagements as seamen, their original calling— indeed, I am assured, that a few months of streetorderly labour is looked upon as an excellent ordeal of character, after which the Association affirms good behaviour on the part of the employed.
The subscribers to the funds not unfrequently recommend destitute persons to the good offices of the Association, apart from their employment as street-orderlies. Thus, it is only a few weeks ago, that Spanish refugees, none of them speaking English, were recommended to the Association; of them it was ultimately enabled to establish as a waiter in an hotel resorted to by foreigners, another as an interpreter, another as a gentleman's servant, and another (with a little boy, his son) in shoe-blacking in .
Thus among street-orderlies are to be found a great diversity of career in life, and what may be called adventures.
great advantage, however, which the orderly possesses over his better paid brethren is in the greater probability of his "rising out of the street." This is very rarely the case with an ordinary scavager.
I now give the following account from of the street-orderlies, a tall, soldierly-looking man:—
Until about eighteen months ago none but unmarried men were employed by the Association, and these all resided in locality, and under general superintendence or system. The boarding and lodging of the men has, however, been discontinued about months; for I am told it was found difficult to encourage industrial and self-reliant pursuits in connection with public eleemosynary aid. Married men are now employed, and all the street-orderlies reside at their own homes; the adults, married or single, receiving a week each; the boys, ; while to each man is gratuitously supplied a blouse of blue serge, costing , and a glazed hat, costing the same amount.
The system formerly adopted was as follows:—
The men were formed into a distinct body, and established in houses taken for them in Ham-yard, , .
"In their domicile in Ham Yard," continues the Report, "the street-orderlies have invariably been encouraged to follow pursuits which were useful and improving, after their daily labours were at an end; for this, a small library of history, voyages, travels, and instructive and entertaining periodical works, was placed at their disposal; and it is truly gratifying to the Council to be able to state, that the men evinced great satisfaction, and even avidity, in availing themselves of this source of intellectual pleasure and improvement. Writing materials also were provided for them, for the purpose of practice and improvement, as well as for mutual instruction in this most necessary and useful art; and it must be gratifying to the members of the Association to be informed, that, in April last, out of men appended their
|signatures, distinctly and well written, to a document which was submitted to them. Such a fact will at least prove, that when poor persons are employed, well fed, and lodged, and cared for in the way of instruction, they do not always mis-spend their time, nor, from mere preference, run riot in pot houses and scenes of low debauchery. It is to be borne in mind, however, that -half of these men were persons of almost every trade and occupation, from the artizan to the shopman and clerk, and therefore previously educated; the other half consisted of labourers and persons forsaken and indigent from their birth, and formerly dependent on workhouse charity or chance employment for their scanty subsistence; consequently in a state of utter ignorance as to reading and writing.|
This is all very benevolent, but still very wrong. There is but way of benefiting the poor, viz., by developing their powers of selfreliance, and certainly not in treating them like children. Philanthropists always seek to do too much, and in this is to be found the main cause of their repeated failures. The poor are expected to become angels in an instant, and the consequence is, they are merely made Moreover, no men of any independence of character will submit to be washed, and dressed, and fed like schoolboys; hence none but the worst classes come to be experimented upon. It would seem, too, that this overweening disposition to play the part of (I use the word in its literal sense) to the poor, proceeds rather from a love of power than from a sincere regard for the people. Let the rich become the advisers and assistants of the poor, giving them the benefit of their superior education and means—but —and they will do a great good, developing in them a higher standard of comfort and moral excellence, and so, by improving their tastes, inducing a necessary change in their habits. But such as seek merely to over those whom distress has placed in their power, and strive to bring about the of benevolence, making the people the philanthropic, instead of the feudal, serfs of our nobles, should be denounced as the arch-enemies of the country. Such persons may mean well, but assuredly they achieve the worst towards the poor. The curfewbell, whether instituted by benevolence or tyranny, has the same degrading effect on the people —destroying their principle of self-action, without which we are all but as the beasts of the field.
Moreover, the laying out of the earnings of the poor is sure, after a time, to sink into "a job;" and I quote the above passage to show that, despite the kindest management, eleemosynary help is a fitting adjunct to the industrial toil of independent labourers.
are now in all quarters where unfurnished rooms are about or a week. The addresses I have cited show them residing in the outskirts and the heart of the metropolis. The following returns, however, will indicate the ages, the previous occupations, the education, church-going, the personal habits, diet, rent, &c., of the class constituting the street-orderlies, better than anything I can say on the matter.
Before any man is employed as a street-orderly, he is called upon to answer certain questions, and the replies from men to these questions supply a fund of curious and important information—important to all but those who account the lot of the poor of importance. In presenting these details, I beg to express my obligations to Mr. Colin Mackenzie, the enlightened and kindly secretary of the Association.
I shall show what is the order of the questioning, then what were the answers, and I shall afterwards recapitulate, with a few comments, the salient characteristics of the whole.
The questions are after this fashion; the I adduce having been asked of a scavager to whom a preference was given:—
How long a scavenger?— months.
What occupation previously? — Gentleman's footman.
Married or single?—Married.
Reading, writing, or other education?—Yes.
Their ages?— years.
Wages?— per week.
Any parish relief?—No.
 This is Mr. Mills's second fundamental proposition respecting capital (see "Principles of Pol. Econ." p. 82, vol. i.). "What I intend to assert is," says that gentleman, "that the portion (of capital) which is destined to the maintenance of the labourers may—supposing no increase in anything else—be indefinitely increased, without creating an impossibility of finding them employment—in other words, if there are human beings capable of work, and food to feed them, they may always be employed in producing something."
 Mr. Cochrane is said, in the Reports of the National Philanthropic Association, to have expended no less than 6000l. of his fortune in the institution of the Street- Orderly system of scavaging.
 A street-orderly in St. Martin's-lane recovered a piece of broad-cloth from a man who had just stolen it from a warehouse; others in Drury-lane detected several thefts from provision-shops. Two orderlies in Holborn saved the lives of the guard and driver of one of Her Majesty's mail-carts, the horse having become unmanageable in consequence of the shafts being broken. In St. Mary's Church, Lambeth, a gentleman having fallen down in apoplexy, the orderlies who were attending Divine service, carried him out into the air, and promptly procured him medical aid, but unhappily life was extinct. Many instances have occurred, however, in which they have rendered essential service to the public and to individuals.