London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London.
WE now come to the consideration of the last of the several classes of labourers engaged in the removal of the species of refuse from the metropolis. I have before said that the public refuse of a town consists of kinds:—
I. The street-refuse.
II. The house-refuse.
Of each of these kinds there are species:—
A. The dry.
B. The wet.
The dry street-refuse consists, as we have seen, of the refuse earth, bricks, mortar, oyster-shells, potsherds, and pansherds.
And the dry house-refuse of the soot and ashes of our fires.
The wet street-refuse consists, on the other hand, of the mud, slop, and surface water of our public thoroughfares.
And the wet house-refuse, of what is familiarly known as the "slops" of our residences, and the liquid refuse of our factories and slaughterhouses.
We have already collected the facts in connection with the of these subjects. We have ascertained the total amount of each of these species of refuse which have to be annually removed from the capital. We have set forth the aggregate number of labourers who are engaged in the removal of it, as well as the gross sum that is paid for so doing, showing the individual earnings of each of the workmen, and arriving, as near as possible, at the profits of their employers, as well as the condition of the employed. This has been done, it is believed, for the time in this country; and if the subject has led us into longer discussions than usual, the importance of the matter, considered in a sanitary point of view, is such that a moment's reflection will convince us of the value of the inquiry—especially in connection with a work which aspires to embrace the whole of the offices performed by the labourers of the capital of the British Empire.
It now but remains for us to complete this novel and vast inquiry by settling the condition and earnings of the men engaged in the removal of the last species of public refuse. I shall consider, , the aggregate quantity of wet house-refuse that has to be annually removed; secondly, the means adopted for the removal of it; thirdly, the cost of so doing; and lastly, the number of men engaged in this kind of work, as well as the wages paid to them, and the physical, intellectual, and moral condition in which they exist, or, more properly speaking, are allowed to remain.