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Full text of "London labour and the London poor : a cyclopaedia of the condition and earnings of those that will work, those that cannot work, and those that will not work"

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James Devon 





ix>vt)On: r::iXTEr by vr. ci>ow;ji and ho.N^, s'A>!Ko:sn stiikr 


















lifTBODUCTION -----------1 

Street-Sellebs of Secoxd-haxd Articles __-_-- 5 
Street-Sellers op Lite Anijials --------47 

Streett-Sellers of Mineral Prodlctions A^T> Natural Curiosities - - 81 

The Street-Buyers ---------- 1C3 

The Street-Jevs's ---------- 115 

Street-Finders or Collecttors --«_---- 13G 

The Streets of Lonix)x -_•„----- 181 

Chiiixet-Sweepers ---..^----- 338 

Cbossino-Sweepers -~^....-... 465 



A View in PEmcoAT-LAifE _----_-« 35 

A View is Rosemaby-Lane --------39 

The Street Dog-belleb ---------54 

Stbeet-Selleb op Bibds'-Nests _-----__ 72 

The Crippled Street Bird-seller ------- qq 

Thk Jew Old-clothks Man - -- - - - - - -118 

The Bone-Gbubbeb ---------- 133 

The Mxhj-Labk _--__-_--_ 155 

The London Dustman --------- 172 

View of a Dust-yabd --------- 2O8 

The London Scavenges --------- 226 

Street Obderlies ---------- 253 

The Able-Bodied Pauper Street-Sweepeb ------ 262 

The Bubbish-Carteb - --------- 289 

The London Sweep ---------- 346 

One of the few remaining Climbinq-Sweeps ------ 354 

The Milkmaid's Garland ---------370 

The Sweep's Home -------___ 373 

The Seweb-Hunter ---------- 383 

Mode of Cleansing Cesspools --_----_ 406 

Flushing the Sewebs -------«_ 424 

Tms Bat-Catcuebs of the Sewers ------- 43^ 

LONDOV NiaHTMEN ------,--_ 433 

The Bearded Obossino-Sweepeb at the Exchange - - - _ - 471 
The Cbossino-Sweepeb that has been a Maid-Servant - - - _ 479 
The Ibish OBOflSiNO-SwEEpEB -----.--43X 

The Oin»>LiGOKD Cbossing-S weeper at Chanceby-Lanb - - - - 483 

The Bot CBOflsrao-SwiKPERS -------.494 








Ih commencing a new volume I would devote a 
few pages to the consideration of the import of the 
facts already collected concerning the London 
Street- Folk, not only as regards the street-people 
themselves, but also in connection with the general 
society of which they form so large a proportion. 

The precise extent of the proportion which the 
Street-Traders bear to the rest of the Metropoli- 
tan Population is the first point to be evolved ; for 
the want, the ignorance, and the vice of a street- 
life being in a direct ratio to the numbers, it be- 
comes of capital importance that we should know 
how many are seeking to pick up a livelihood in 
the public thoroughfares. This is the more essen- 
tial because the Government returns never have 
given us, and probably never tvill give us, any 
correct information respecting it. The Census of 
1841 set down the " Hawkers, Hucksters, and 
Pedlars" of the Metropolis as numbering 2045; 
and from the inquiries I have made among the 
street-sellers as to the means taken to obtain a full 
account of their numbers for the next population 
return, the Census of 1851 appears likely to be 
about as correct in its statements concerning the 
Street Traders and Performers as the one which 
preceded it 

According to the accounts which have been col- 
lected daring the progress of this work, the number 
of the London Street-People, so far as the inquiry 
has gone, it upwards of 40,000. This sum is made 
up of 30,000 Costermongers ; 2000 Street-Sellers 
of "Green-Stuff," as Watercresses, Chick weed, and 
Groundsell, Turf, &c. ; 4000 Street-Sellers of Eat- 
ables and Drinkables; 1000 selling Stationery, 
Bonks, Papers, and Engravings in the streets ; 
and 4000 other street-sellers vending manufac- 
tured articles, either of metal, crockery, textile, 
chemical, or miscellaneous substances, making al- 
together 41,000, or in round numbers say 40,000 
individuals. The 30,000 costermongers may be 
said to include 12,000 men, 6000 women, and 
12,000 children. 

The above numbers comprise the main body of 
people selling in the London streets ; hence if we 
assert that, with the vendors of second-hand articles, 
*s old meul, glass, linen, clothes, Ac, and mineral 
productions, such ns coke, salt, and sand, there are 
•bout 46,000 street-traders in the Metropolis, we 
shall not, I am satisfied, be very far from the truth. 

The value of the Capital, or Stock in Trade, of 
these people, though individually trifling, amounts, 
collectively, to a considerable sum of money — in- 
deed, to very nearly 40,000/., or at the rate of 
about 1/. per head. Under the term Capital are 
included the donkeys, barrows, baskets, stalls, 
trays, boards, and goods belonging to the several 
street-traders ; and though the stock of the water- 
cress, the small- ware, the lucifer, the flower, or the 
chickweed and groundsell seller may not exceed in 
value 1 5., and the basket or tray upon which it is 
carried barely half that sum, that of the more 
prosperous costermonger, possessed of his barrow 
and donkey ; or of the Cheap John, with his cart 
filled with hardware ; or the Packman, Avith his 
bale of soft wares at his back, may be worth almost 
as many pounds as the others are pence. 

The gross amount of trade done by the London 
Street-Sellers in the course of the year is so large 
that the mind is at first unable to comprehend how, 
without reckless extravagance, want can be in any 
way associated with the class. After the most 
cautious calculation, the results having been checked 
and re-checked in a variety of ways, so that the con- 
clusion arrived at might be somewhat near and 
certainly not beyond the truth, it appears that the 
" takings " of the London Street-Sellers cannot be 
said to be less than 2,500,000/. per annum. But 
vast as this sum may seem, and especially when 
considered as only a portion of the annual expen- 
diture of the Metropolitan Poor, still, when we come 
to spread the gross yearly receipts over 40,000 
people, we find that the individual tiikings are but 
62/. per annum, which (allowing the rate of profit 
to be in all cases even 50 per cent., though 1 am 
convinced it is often much less) gives to each street- 
trader an annual income of 20/. Vis. id., or within 
a fraction of 8.?. a week, all the year round. And 
when we come to deduct from this the loss by 
perishable articles, the keep of donkeys, the wear 
and tear, or hire, of barrows — the cost of stalls and 
baskets, together with the interest on stock-money 
(generally at the rate of 4«. a week — and often 
la. a day — for 1/., or 1040/. percent, per annum), 
we may with safety assert that the avera;ie gain or 
clear income of the Metropolitan Sireet-Sellers is 
rather under than over It. iid. a week. Some of 
the more expert street-traders may clear lOj. or 
even 16«. weekly throughout the year, while the 

No. I. Vol n. 




weekly profit of the less expert, the old people, 
and the children, may be said to be 35. Qd. These 
incomes, however, are the average of the gross 
yearly profits rather than the regular weekly gains ; 
the consequence is, that though they might be 
sufficient to keep the majority of the street- sellers 
in comparative comfort, were they constant and 
capable of being relied upon, from week to week 
— but being variable and uncertain, ftnd rising 
sometimes from nothing in the winter to 1/. a week 
in tin; summer, when street commodities are plen- 
tiful and cheap, and the poorer classes have money 
wherewith to purchase them — and fluctuating 
moreover, even at the best of times, according as 
the weather is wet or fine, and the traffic of the 
streets consequently diminished or augmented — 
it is but natural that the people subject to such 
alternations should lack the prudence and tempe- 

rance of those whose incomes are more regular 
and uniform. 

To place the above facts clearly before the 
reader the following table has been prepared. The 
first column states the titles of the several classes 
of street-sellers ; the second, the number of indi- 
viduals belonging to each of these classes ; the 
third, the value of their respective capitals or stock 
in trade; the fourth, the gross amount of trade done 
by them respectively every year ; the fifth, the ave- 
rage yearly takings of each class ; and the sixth, 
their average weekly gains. This gives us, as it 
were, a bird's-eye view of the earnings and pecu- 
niary condition of the various kinds of street- 
sellers already treated of. It is here cited, as in- 
deed all the statistics in this work are, as an ap- 
proximation to the truth rather than a definite 
and accurate result. 



1 in each 

amount of 
capital, or 
stock ill 
trade be- 
longing to 
each class. 

Gross amount of trade 

annually done by each 






Street-Sellers of Wet Fish . . 

Dry fish . , 

„ Shell Fish . 

„ „ Green Fruit . 
„ „ Dry Fruit . . )■ 
,, „ Vegetables . 

Game, Poultry, 

Rabbits, &c. 

„ „ Flowers, Roots, 

&c. ... J 

Street-Sellers of Green Stuff. 


Chickweed, Groundsell, and 

Plantain ^ 

Turf-Cutters and Sellers . . . 
Street-Sellers of Eatables and 


Street-Sellers of Stationery, 
Literature, and the Fine 


Street- Sellers of Manufac- 
tured Articles of Metal, 
Crockery and Glass, Textile, 
Chemical, or Miscellaneous 

30,000 »> 














1,000 1- 


2,181,200 j 











3*. U. 

5s. 6d. 








* The definition of a Costermonger strictly includes only such individuals as confine themselves to 
the sale of the produce of the Green and Fruit Markets : the term is here restricted to that signification. 

^ This number includes Men, Women, and Children. 

'^ The Watercress trade is carried on in the streets, principally by old people and children. The 
chief mart to which the street-sellers of cresses resort is Faningdon-market, a place which but few 
or none of the regular Costermongers attend. 

d The Chickweed and Groundsell Sellers and the Turf-Cutters' traffic has but little expense con- 
nected with it, and their trade is therefore nearly all profit. 


Now, according to the above estimate, it would 
appear that the gross annual receipts of the entire 
body of street-sellers (for there are many besides 
those above specified — as for instance, the vendors 
of second-hand articles, &c.) may be estimated in 
round numbers at 3,000,000/. sterling, and their 
clear income at about 1,000,000/. per annum. 
Hence, we are enabled to perceive the importance 
of the apparently insignificiint traffic of the streets ; 
for were the street- traders to be prohibited from 
pursuing their calling, and so forced to apply for 
relief at the several metropolitan unions, the poor- 
rates would be at the least doubled. The total 
sum expended in the relief of the London poor, 
during 1848, was 725,000/., but this we see is 
hardly three-fourths of the income of the street- 
traders. Those, therefore, who would put an end 
to the commerce of our streets, should reflect 
whether they would like to do so at the cost 
of doubling the present poor-rates [and of reducing 
one-fortieth part of the entire metropolitan popu- 
lation from a state of comparative independence to 
absolute pauperism. 

However unsatisfactory it may be to the aristo- 
cratic pride of the wealthy commercial classes, it 
cannot be denied that a very important element of 
the trade of this vast capital — this marvellous 
centre of the commerce of the world — I cite the 
stereotype phrases of civic eloquence, for they 
are at least truths — it is still undeniable, I say, 
that a large proportion of the commerce of the 
capital of Great Britain is in the hands of the 
Street- Folk. This simple enunciation might appear 
a mere platitude were it not that the street-sellers 
are a proscribed class. They are driven from 
stations to which long possession might have been 
thought to give them a quasi legal right; driven 
from them at the capricious desire of the shop- 
keepers, some of whom have had bitter reason, by 
the diminution of their own business, to repent 
their interference. They are bandied about at the 
will of a police-officer. They must "move on" 
and not obstruct a thoroughfare which may be 
crammed and blocked with the carriages of the 
wealthy until to cross the road on foot is a danger. 
They are, in fine, a body numbering thousands, 
who are allowed to live in the prosecution of the 
most ancient of all trades, sale or barter in the 
open air, 6y sufferance alone. They are classed as 
unauthorized or illegal and intrusive traders, though 
they " turn over " millioiu in a year. 

The authorities, it is true, do not sanction any 
general arbitrary enforcement of the legal pro- 
scription of the Street-Polk, but they have no option 
if a section of shopkeepers choose to say to them, 
" Drive away from our doors these street-people." 
It appears to be sufficient for an inferior class of 
tradesmen — for such the meddlers with the street- 
folk generally seem to be — merely to desire such 
a removal in order to accomplish it. It is not 
necessary for them to say in excuse, " We pay 
heavy rents, and rates, and taxes, and are forced to 
let our lodgings accordingly ; we pay fur licences, and 
some of us as well pay fines forgiving short weight 
to poor people, and that, too, when it is hardly safe 
to give short weight to our richer patrons; but 

what rates, taxes, or licences do these street- 
traders pay 1 Their lodgings may be dear enough, 
but their rates are nominally nothing" (being 
charged in the rent of their rooms). " From taxes 
they are blessedly exempt. They are called upon 
to pay no imposts on their property or income ; 
they defray merely the trifling duties on their 
tobacco, beer, tea, sugar, coffee " (though these by 
the way — the chief articles in the excise and 
customs returns — make up one-half of the revenue 
of the country). " They ought to be put down. 
We can supply all that is wanting. What may 
become of thein is simply their own concern." 

The Act 50 Geo. III., c. 41, requires that every 
person " carrying to sell or exposing to sale any 
goods, wares, or merchandize," shall pay a yearly 
duty. I3ut according to s. 23, " nothing in this 
Act shall extend to prohibit any person or persons 
from selling (by hawking in the streets) any printed 
papers licensed by authority; or any fish, fruit, or 
victuals." Among the privileged articles are also 
included barm or yeast, and coals. The same Act, 
moreover, contains nothing to prohibit the maker 
of any home-manufacture from exposing his goods 
to sale in any town-market or fair, nor any tinker, 
cooper, glazier, or other artizau, from going about 
and carrying the materials of his business. The 
unlicensed itinerant vendors of such things how- 
ever as lucifer-matches, boot-laces, braces, fuzees, or 
any wares indeed, not of their own manufacture, 
are violators of the law, and subject to a penalty 
of 10/., or three months' imprisonment for each 
offence. It is in practice, however, only in the 
hawking of such articles as those on which the 
duty is heavy and of considerable value to the 
revenue (such as tea, tobacco, or cigars), that there 
is any actual check in the London streets. 

Nevertheless, a large proportion of the street- 
trading without a licence is contrary to law, and 
the people seeking to obtain a living by such 
means are strictly liable to fine or imprisonment, 
while even those street- traders whom the Act 
specially exempts — as for instance the street-sellers 
of fish, fruit, and vegetables, and of eatables and 
drinkables, as well as the street arlizans, and who 
are said to have the right of " exposing their 
goods to sale in any market or fair in every city, 
borough, town-corporate, and market-town " — even 
these, I say, are liable to be punished for obstruct- 
ing the highway whenever they attempt to do to. 

Now these are surely anomalies which it is 
high time, in these free-trude days, should cease. 
The endeavour to obtain an Iwnest and inde- 
pendent livelihood sliould sidjject no man to fine 
or imprisonment; nor should the poor hawker — 
the neediest perhaps of all tradesmen — be required 
to pay 4/. a year for the liberty to carry on his 
business when the wealthy shopkeeper ciin do so 
" scot-free." Moreover, it is a glaring iniquity 
that the rich tradesman should have it in his 
power, by complaining to the police, to deprive his 
poorer rival of the right to dispose of his good« in 
the streets. It is often said, in justification, that 
ns the shopkeepers pay the principal portion of 
the rates and taxes, tlicy must be protected in 
the exercise of tiieir business. But this, in the 


first place, is far from the truth. As regards the 
taxes, the poorer classes pay nearly half of the 
national imposts : they pay the chief portion of 
the malt duty, and that is in round numbers 
5,000,000/. a year ; the greater part of the spirit 
duty, which is 4,350,000^; the tobacco duty, 
4,260,000/. ; the sugar duty, 4,500,000/. ; and 
the duty on tea, 5,330,000/. ; making altogether 
23,430,000/., out of about 50,000,000/. Con- 
cerning the rates, however, it is not so easy to 
estimate what proportion the poor people con- 
tribute towards the local burdens of the country ; 
but if they are householders, they have to pay 
quota of the parish and county expenses directly, 
and, if lodgers, indirectly in the rent of their 
apartments. Hence it is evident, that to consider 
the street-sellers unworthy of being protected in 
the exercise of their calling because they pay 
neither rates nor taxes, is to commit a gross in- 
justice, not only to the street-sellers themselves by 
forcing them to contribute in their tea and sugar, 
their beer, gin, and tobacco, towards the expenses 
of a Government which exerts itself rather to 
injure than benefit them, but likewise to the rate- 
payers of the parish ; for it is a necessary conse- 
quence, if the shopkeepers have the power to 
deprive the street-dealers of their living whenever 
the out-of door tradesmen are thought to interfere 
with the business of those indoors (perhaps by 
underselling them), that the street-dealers, being 
unable to live by their own labour, must betake 
themselves to the union and live upon the labour 
of the parishioners, and thus the shopkeepers 
may be said to enrich themselves at the expense, 
not only of the poor street-people, but likewise 
of their brother ratepayers. 

Nor can it be said that the Street-Sellers are 
interlopers upon these occasions, for if ancient 
custom be referred to, it will be found that the 
Shopkeepers are the real intruders, they having 
succeeded the Hawkers, who were, in truth, the 
original distributors of the produce of the country. 

Sut though no body of Shopkeepers, nor, 
indeed, any other class of people individually, 
should possess the power to deprive the Hawkers 
of what is often the last shift of struggling 
independence — the sale of a few goods in the 
street — still it is evident that the general con- 
venience of the public must be consulted, and 
that, were the Street-Traders to be allowed the 
right of pitching in any thoroughfare they pleased, 
many of our principal streets would be blocked up 
with costers' barrows, and the kerb of Kegent- 
street possibly crowded like that of the New Cut, 
with the hawkers and hucksters that would be 
Bure to resort thither; while those thoroughfares 
which, like Fleet-street and Cheapside, are now 
almost impassable at certain times of the day, | 
from the increased traffic of the City, would be 
rendered still more impervious by the throngs of 
street-sellers that the crowd alone would be sure 
to attract to the spot. 

Under the circumstancr'S, therefore, it becomes 
necessary that we should provide for the vast 
body of Street-Sellers some authorized place of 
resort, where they might be both entitled and 

permitted to obtain an honest living according to 
Act of Parliament. To think for a moment of 
"putting down" street-trading is to be at once 
ignorant of the numbers and character of the 
people pursuing it. To pass an Act declaring 
50,000 individuals rogues and vagabonds, would 
be to fill our prisons or our workhouses with men 
who would willingly earn their own living. Be- 
sides, the poor mil buy of the poor. Subject the 
petty trader to fine and imprisonment as you 
please, still the very sympathy and patronage of 
the petty purchaser will in this country always 
call into existence a large body of purveyors to 
the poorer classes. I would suggest, therefore, 
and I do so after much consideration, and an 
earnest desire to meet all the difficulties of the 
case, that a number of " poor men's markets " be 
established throughout London, by the purchase 
or rental of plots of ground in the neighbourhood 
of the present street-markets ; that a small toll be 
paid by each of the Street-Sellers attending such 
markets, for the right to vend their goods there — 
that the keeper or beadle of each market be like- 
wise an Inspector of Weights and Measures, 
and that any hawker found using " slangs " of 
any kind, or resorting to any imposition what- 
ever, be prohibited entering the market for the 
future — that the conduct and regulation of the 
markets be under the direction of a committee 
consisting of an equal number of shareholders, 
sellers, and working men — the latter as repre- 
sentatives of the buyers — and that the surplus 
funds (if any, after paying all expenses, together 
with a fair interest to the shareholders of the 
market) should be devoted to the education of 
the children of the hawkers before and after the 
hours of sale. There might also be a penny 
savings'-bank in connection with each of the mar- 
kets, and a person stationed at the gates on the 
conclusion of the day's business, to collect all he 
could from the hawkers as they left. 

There are already a sufficient number of poor- 
markets established at the East end of the 
town — though of a different character, such as 
the Old Clothes Exchange — to prove the prac- 
ticability of the proposed plan among even the 
pettiest traders. And I am convinced, after long 
deliberation, that such institutions could not but 
tend to produce a rapid and marked improvement 
in the character of the London Hawkers. 

This is the only way evident to me of meeting 
the evil of our present street-life — an evil which 
is increasing every day, and which threatens, ere 
long, almost to overwhelm us Avith its abomina- 
tions. To revile the street-people is stark folly. 
Their ignorance is no demerit to them, even as it 
is no merit to us to know the little that we 
do. If we really wish the people better, let 
us, I say again, do for them what others have 
done for us, .and without which (humiliating as 
it may be to our pride) we should most assuredly 
have been as they are. It is the continued for- 
getfulness of this truth — a truth which our 
wretched self-conceit is constantly driving from 
our minds — that prevents our stirring to improve 
the condition of these poor people ; though, if we 


knew bat the whole of the facts concerning 
them, and their sufferings and feelings, our very- 
fears alone for the safety of the state would be 
sufficient to make us do something in their behalf, 
I am quite satisfied, from all I have seen, that 
there are thousands in this great metropolis ready 
to rush forth, on the least evidence of a rising of 
the people, to commit the most savage and revolt- 
ing excesses — men who have no knowledge of 
the government of the country but as an armed 
despotism, preventing their earning their living, 
and who hate all law, because it is made to appear 
to them merely as an organised tyranny — men, 
too, who have neither religious nor moral princi- 
ples to restrain the exercise of their grossest pas- 
sions when once roused, and men who, from our 
very neglect of them, are necessarily and essen- 
tially the dangerous classes, whose existence we 
either rail at or deplore. 

The rate of increase among the street-traders it 
ii almost impossible to arrive at. The population 
returns afford us no data for the calculation, and 
the street-people themselves are unable to supply 
the least information on the subject ; all they can 
tell us is, that about 20 years ago they took a 
guinea for every shilling that they get now. This 
heavy reduction of their receipts they attribute to 
the cheapness of commodities, and the necessity 
to carry and sell a greater quantity of goods in 
order to get the same profit, as well as to the in- 
crease in the number of street-traders ; but when 
questioned as to the extent of such increase, their 
answers are of the vaguest possible kind. Arrang- 
ing the street-people, however, as we have done, 
into three distinct classes, according to the causes 
which have led to their induction into a street- 
life, viz., those who are born and bred to the 
•treets — those who take to the streets — and 
those who are driven to the streets, it is evident 
that the main elements of any extraordinary in- 
crease of the street-folk must be sought for among 
the two latter classes. Among the first the in- 
crease will, at the utmost, be at the same rate 
M the ordinary increase of the population — viz., 
1^ percent, per annum; for the English coster- 
mongers and street-traders in general appear to 
be remarkable rather for the small than the large 
number of their children, so that, even supposing 
all the boys and girls of the street-sellers to be 
brought up to the same mode of life as their 
fiither, we could not thus account for any enor- 
mous increase among the street-folk. With those, 
however, who lake to the streets from the love of 
a " roving life," or the desire to " shake a free 
1^" — to quote the phrases of the men them- 
felves— or are driven to the streets from an ina- 
bility to obtain employment at the pursuit to 
which they have been accustomed, the case is far 

That there is every day a greater difficulty for 
working men to live by their labour — either from 
the paucity of work, or from the scanty remunera- 
tion given for it — surely no one will be disposed to 
question when every one is crying out that the 
country is over-populated. Such being the case, it 
is evident that tiie number of mechanics in the 
streets must be daily augmenting, for, as I have 
before said, street-trading is the last shift of an un- 
employed artizan to keep himself and his family 
from the " Union." The workman out of work, 
sooner than starve or go to the parish for relief, 
takes to making up and vending on his own ac- 
count the articles of his craft, whilst the underpaid 
workman, sooner than coHtinue toiling from morn- 
ing till midnight for a bare subsistence, resorts to 
the easier trade of buying and selling. Again, 
even among the less industrious of the working 
classes, the general decline in wages has tended, 
and is continually tending, to make their labour 
more and more irksome to them. There is a cant 
abroad at the present day, that there is a special 
pleasure in industry, and hence we are taught 
to regard all those who object to work as apper- 
taining to the class of natural vagabonds ; but 
where is the man among us that loves labour 1 
for work or labour is merely that which is irk- 
some to perform, and which every man requires 
a certain amount of remuneration to induce him 
to perform. If men really loved work they would 
pay to be .allowed to do it rather than re- 
quire to be paid for doing it. That occupation 
which is agreeable to us we call amusement, and 
that and that only which is disagreeable we term 
labour, or drudgery, according to the intensity of 
its irksomeness. Hence as the amount of remu- 
neration given by way of inducement to a man to 
go through a certain amount of work becomes re- 
duced, so does the stimulus to work become wea- 
kened, and this, through the decline of wages, 
is what is daily taking place among us. Our ope- 
ratives are continually ceasing to be producers, 
and passing from the creators of wealth into the 
exchangers or distributors of it ; becoming mere 
tradesmen, subsisting on the labour of other 
people rather than their own, and so adding to 
the very non-producers, the great number of 
whom is the main cause of the poverty of those 
who make all our riches. To teach a people 
the difficulty of living by labour is to inculcaie the 
most dangerous of all lessons, and this is what 
we are daily doing. Our trading classes are in- 
creasing at a most enormous rate, and so giving 
rise to that exceeding competition, and conse- 
quently, to that continual reduction of prices — all 
of which must ultimately fall upon the working 
man. This appears to me to be the main cause of 
the increase of the London street people, and one 
for which I cindidly confess I see no remedy. 


I- HATB already treated of the street-commerce in 
Mch things as are presented to the public in the form 
in which they are to be cooked, eaten, drank, or used. 

They have comprised the necessaries, delicacies, 
or luxuries of the street; they have been either the 
raw food or preparations ready cooked or mixed for 



immediate consximption, as in the case of the street 
eatables and drinkables ; or else they were the 
proceeds of taste (or its substitute) in art or litera- 
ture, or of usefulness or ingenuity in manufacture. 

All these many objects of street-commerce may 
be classified in one well-known word ; tliey are 
bought and sold first-hand. I have next to deal 
with the second-hand sellers of our streets ; and 
in this division perhaps will be found more that is 
novel, curious, and interesting, than in that just 

jyir. Babbage, in liis "Economy of Machinery 
and Manufactures," says, concerning the employ- 
ment of materials of little value : " The worn-out 
saucepan and tin-ware of our kitchens, when beyond 
the reach of the tinker's art, are not utterly worth- 
less. We sometimes meet carts loaded with old 
tin kettles and worn-out iron coal-skuttles traver- 
sing our streets. These have not yet completed 
their useful course ; the less corroded parts are 
cut into strips, punched with small holes, and 
varnished with a coarse black varnish for the use 
of the trunk-maker, who protects the edges and 
angles of his boxes with them ; the remainder are 
conveyed to the manufacturing chemists in the 
outskirts, who employ them in combination with 
pyroligneous acid, in making a black dye for the 
use of calico-printeis." 

Mr. Babbage has here indicated one portion 
of the nature of the street-trade in second- 
hand articles — the application of worn-out mate- 
rials to a new purpose. But this second-hand 
commerce of the streets — for a street-commerce it 
mainly is, both in selling and buying — has a far 
greater extent than that above indicated, and many 
ramifications. Under the present head I shall 
treat only of street sellers, unless when a street 
purchase may be so intimately connected with a 
street sale that for the better understanding of the 
subject it may be necessary to sketch both. Of 
the Street-Buyers and the Street-Finders, 
or Collectors, both connected with the second- 
hand trade, I shall treat separately. 

In London, where many, in order to live, struggle 
to extract a meal from the possession of an article 
which seems utterly worthless, nothing must be 
wasted. Many a thing which in a country town 
is kicked by the penniless out of their path even, 
or examined and left as meet only for the scavenger's 
cart, will in London be snatched up as a prize ; it 
is money's worth. A crushed and torn bonnet, for 
instance, or, better still, an old hat, napless, shape- 
less, crownless, and brimless, will be picked up in 
the street, and carefully placed in a bag with 
similar things by one class of street-folk — the 
Street-Finders. And to tempt the well-to-do to 
$eU their second-hand goods, the street-trader 
oflfers the barter of shapely china or shining glass 
vessels ; or blooming fuchsias or fragrant geraniums 
for "the rubbish," or else, in the spirit of the 
hero of the fairy tale, he exchanges, " new lamps 
for old." 

Of the street sale of second-hand articles, with 
all the collateral or incidental matter bearing im- 
mediately on the subject, I shall treat under the 
following heads, or under such heads as really 

constitute the staple of the business, dismissing 
such as may be trifling or exceptional. Of these 
traffickers, then, there are five classes, the mere 
enumeration of the objects of their traffic being 
curious enough : — 

1. Tlie Street-Sellers of Old Metal A Hides, such 
as knives, forks, and butchers' steels ; saws, ham- 
mers, pincers, files, screw-drivers, planes, chisels, 
and other tools (more frequently those of the 
workers in wood than of other artisans) ; old 
scissors and shears ; locks, keys, and hinges ; 
shovels, fire-irons, trivets, chimney-cranes, fen- 
ders, and fire-guards ; warming-pans (but rarely 
now) ; flat and Italian irons, curling-tongs ; rings, 
horse-shoes, and nails ; coffee and tea-pots, urns, 
trays, and canisters ; pewter measures ; scales and 
weights ; bed-screws and keys ; candlesticks and 
snuffers ; niggards, generally called niggers (i. e., 
false bottoms for grates) ; tobacco and snuff-boxes 
and spittoons ; door-plates, numbers, knockers, 
and escutcheons ; dog-collars and dog-chains (and 
other chains) ; gridirons ; razors ; coffee-mills ; 
lamps ; swords and daggers ; gun and pistol- 
barrels and locks (and occasionally the entire 
weapon) ; bronze and cast metal figures ; table, 
chair, and sofa castors; bell-pulls and bells ; the 
larger buckles and other metal (most frequently 
brass) articles of harness furniture; compositors' 
sticks (the depositories of the type in the first 
instance) ; the multifarious kinds of tin-wares ; 
stamps ; cork-screws ; barrel-taps ; ink-stands ; a 
multiplicity of culinary vessels and of old metal lids; 
footmen, broken machinery, and parts of machinery, 
as odd wheels, and screws of all sizes, &c., &c. 

2. Tlie Street-Sellers of Old Linen, Cotton, and 
Woollen Articles, such as old sheeting for towels; 
old curtains of dimity, muslin, cotton, or moreen ; 
carpeting; blanketing for house-scouring clothe; 
ticking for beds and pillows; sacking for different 
purposes, according to its substance and quality; 
fringes ; and stocking-legs for the supply of "job- 
bing worsted," and for re-footing. 

I may here observe that in the street-trade, 
second-hand linen or cotton is often made to pay 
a double debt. The shirt-collars sold, sometimes 
to a considerable extent and very cheap, in the 
street-markets, are made out of linen which has 
previously been used in some other form ; so is it 
with white waistcoats and other habiliments. Of 
the street-folk who vend such wares I shall speak 
chiefly in the fourth division of this subject, viz. the 
second-hand street-sellers of miscellaneous articles. 

3. The Street-Sellers of Old Glass and Crockery, 
including the variety of bottles, odd, or in sets, 
or in broken sets ; pans, pitchers, wash-hand 
basins, and other crockery utensils ; china orna- 
ments ; pier, convex, and toilet glfisses (often 
without the frames) ; pocket ink-bottles ; wine, 
beer, and liqueur glasses ; decanters ; glass fish- 
bowls (occasionally); salt-cellars; sugar-basins; 
and lamp and gas glasses. 

4. The Street- Sellers of Miscellaneous Articles. 
These are such as cannot properly be classed under 
any of the three preceding heads, and include a 
mass of miscellaneous commodities : Accordions 
and other musical instruments ; brushes of all 


descriptions ; shaving-boxes and razor-strops ; 
baskets of many kinds ; stuffed birds, with and 
without frames; pictures, with and without 
frames ; desks, work-boxes, tea-caddies, and 
many articles of old furniture; boot-jacks and 
hooks ; shoe-horns ; cartouche-boxes ; pocket and 
opera glasses ; rules, and measures in frames ; 
iHickgammon, and chess or draught boards and 
men, and dice ; boxes of dominoes ; cribbage- 
boards and boxes, sometimes with old packs of 
cards ; pope-boards (boards used in playing the 
game of " Pope," or "Pope Joan," though rarely 
Been now); " tish," or card counters of bone, ivory, 
or mother of pearl (an equal rarity) ; microscopes 
(occasionally) ; an extensive variety of broken or 
£aded things, new or long kept, such as magic- 
lanterns, dissected maps or histories, &c., from the 
toy warehouses and shops; Dutch clocks; baro- 
meters ; wooden trays ; shells ; music and books 
(the latter being often odd volumes of old novels) ; 
tee-totums, and similar playthings ; ladies' head- 
combs ; umbrellas and parasols ; fishing-rods and 
nets ; reins, and other parts of cart, gig, and 
" two-horse " harness ; boxes full of " odds and 
ends " of old leather, such as water-pipes ; and a 
mass of imperfect metal things, which had "better 
be described," said an old dealer, " as from a 
needle to an anchor," 

5. The Slreet-Sellers of Old Apparel, including 
the body habiliments, constituting alike men's, 
women's, boys', girls', and infants' attire : as well 
as hats, caps, gloves, belts, and stockings ; shirts 
and shirt-fronts ("dickeys"); handkerchiefs, 
stocks, and neck-ties; furs, such as victorines, 
boas, tippets, and edgings ; beavers and bonnets ; 
and the other several, and sometimes not easily 
describable, articles whicij constitute female fashion- 
able or ordinary wear, 

I may here observe, that of the wares which 
once formed a portion of the stock of the street- 
sellers of the fourth and fifth divisions, but which 
are now no longer objects of street sale, were, till 
within the last few years, fans ; back and shoulder 
boards (to make girls grow straight !) ; several 
things at one time thought indispensable to every 
well-nurtured child, such as a coral and bells ; 
\tt\U, sashes, scabbards, epaulettes, feathers or 
plumes, hard leather stocks, and other indications 
of the volunteer, militia, and general military 
spirit of the early part of the present century. 

Before proceeding immediately with my sub- 
ject, I may say a few words concerning what is, 
in the estimation of some, a second-hand raHtier. I 
I allude to the many uses to which that which is 
regarded, and indeed termed, " ofFal," or " refuse," 
or " waste," is put in a populous city. This may 
be evidenced in the multiform uses to which the 
" affitl " of the animals which are slaughtered for 
our use are put It is still more curiously shown 
in the us^-s of the offal of the animals which are 
killed, not for our use, but for that of our dogs 
and caU; and to this part of the subject I shall 
more especially confine the remarks 1 have to 
make. My observations on the uses of other 
waste articles will be found in another place. 

What in the butcher's trade is considered the 
offal of a bullock, was explained by Mr. Deputy 
Hicks, before the last Select Committee of the 
House of Commons on Sniithtield Market : " The 
carcass," he said, "as it hangs clear of everything 
else, is the carcass, and all else constitutes the 

The carcass may be briefly termed the four 
quarters, whereas the offal then comprises the 
hide, which in the average-sized bullock that is 
slaughtered in London is worth 125.; but with the 
hide are sold the horns, which are worth about 
\Qd. to the comb-makers, who use them to make 
their " tortoise-shell " articles, and for similar 
purposes. The hoofs are worth 2d. to the giue- 
makers, or prussiate of potash manufacturers. 
What " comes out of a bullock," to use the trade 
term, is the liver, the lights (or lungs), the stomach, 
the intestinal canal (sometimes 3t) yards when 
extended), and the gall duct. These portions, 
with the legs (called "feet" in the trade), form 
what is styled the tripe-man's portion, and are 
disposed of to him by the butcher for 5s. ^d. 
Separately, the value of the liver is Sci., of the 
lights, Qd. (both for dogs'-meat), and of the legs 
which are worked into tooth-brush handles, 
dominoes, &c., \s. The remaining 3a'. id. is the 
worth of the other portion. The heart averages 
rather more than Is, ; the kidneys the same ; the 
head, Is. 9rf. ; the blood (which is " let down the 
drain " in all but the larger slauijhtering houses) 
li(i. (being Zd. for 9 gallons) ; the tallow (7 stone) 
14s.; and the tail, I was told, '• from nothing to 
2s.," averaging about GcZ, ; the tongue, 2s. Qd. 
Thus the otfal sells, altogether, first hand, for 
1/, 18s, 6rf. 

I will now show the uses to which what is far 
more decidedly pronounced " oUal," and what is 
much more " second-hand " in popular estimation, 
viz., a dead horse, is put, and even a dead horse's 
offal, and I will then show the difference in this 
curious trade between the Parisian and London 
horse offal. 

The greatest horse-slaughtering establishments 
in France are at Montfaucon, a short distance 
from the capital. When the animal has been 
killed, it is " cut up," and the choicer portions of 
the flesh are eaten by the work-people of the 
establishment, and by the hangers-on and jobbers 
who haunt the locality of such phices, and are 
often men of a desperate character. The rest of 
the carcass is sold for the feeding of dogs, cats, 
pigs, and poultry, a portion being also devoted to 
purposes of manure. The flesh on a horse of 
average size and fatness is 350 lbs., which sells 
for 1/. 12s. 6rf. But this is only one of the uses of 
the dead animal. 

The skin is sold to a tanner for 10s. Qd. The 
hoofs to a manufacturer of sal ammonia, or similar 
preparations, or of Prussian blue, or to a comb or 
toy-maker, for Is. Ad. The old shoes and the 
shoe-nails are worth The hair of the mane 
and tail realizes \^d. The tendons are disposed 
of, either fresh or dried, to glue-makers for M. — 
a pound of dried tendons (separated from the 
muscles) being about the average per horse. The 

B 8 


bones are bought by the turners, cutlers, fan- 
makers, and the makers of ivory black and sal 
ammoniac, 90 lbs. being an average weight of the 
animal's bones, and realizing 2s. The intestines 
wrought into the different preparations required of 
the gut-makers, or for manure, are worth 2c?. 

The blood is used by the sugar-refiners, and by 
the fatteners of poultry, pigeons, and turkeys 
(which devour it greedily), or else for manure. 
When required for manure it is dried — 20 lbs. of 
dried blood, which is the average weight, being 
Avorth I,?. 9rf. The fat is removed from the car- 
cass and melted down. It is in demand for the 
making of gas, of soap, and (when very fine) of — 
bear's grease ; also for the dubbing or grease 
applied to harness and to shoe-leather. This fat 
when consumed in lamps communicates a greater 
portion of heat than does oil, and is therefore 
preferred by the makers of glass toys, and by 
enamellers and polishers. A horse at Montfaucon 
ha^ been known to yield 60 lbs. of fat, but this is 
an extreme case ; a yield of 12 lbs. is the produce 
of a horse in fair condition, but at these slaughter- 
houses there are so many lean and sorry jades 
that 8 lbs. may be taken as an average of fat, and 
at a value of Qd. per lb. Nor does the list end 
here ; the dead and putrid flesh is made to teem 
with life, and to produce food for other living 
creatures. A pile of pieces of flesh, six inches in 
height, layer on layer, is slightly covered with hay 
or straw ; the flies soon deposit their eggs in the 
attractive matter, and thus maggots are bred, the 
most of which are used as food for pheasants, and 
in a smaller degree of domestic fowls, and as baits 
for fish. These maggots give, or are supposed to 
give, a " game flavour " to poultry, and a very 
" high " flavour to pheasants. One horse's flesh 
thus produces maggots worth Is. bd. The total 
amount, then, realized on the dead horse, which 
may cost lOs. Qd., is as follows : — 

£ s. d. 
The flesh . . . 1 12 6 
The skill . . . 10 6 
The hoofs . . . 14 
The shoes and nails . 2;^ 

The mane and tail . . 1^ 
The tendons . . 3 

The bones . . . 2 
The intestines . . 2 

The blood . . . 19 
The fat . . . 4 

The maggots . . . 15 

£2 14 3 
The carcass of a French horse is also made 
available in another way, and which relates to a 
subject I have lately treated of — the destruction of 
rats ; but this is not a regularly-accruing emolu- 
ment. Montfaucon swarms with rats, and to kill 
them the carcass of a horse is placed in a room, 
into which the rats gain access through openings in 
the floor contrived for the purpose. At night the 
rats are lured by their keenness of scent to the 
room, and lured in numbers; the openings are 
then closed, and they are prisoners. In one room 
16,000 were killed in four weeks. The Paris 

furriers gave from three to four francs for 100 
skins, 80 that, taking the average at 3«. of our 
money, 16,000 rat-skins would return 2il. 

In London the uses of the dead horse's flesh, 
bones, blood, &c., are different. 

Horse-flesh is not — as yet — a portion of human 
food in this country. In a recent parliamentary 
inquirj'', witnesses were examined as to whether 
horse-flesh was used by the sausage-mnkers. 
There was some presumption that such might be 
the case, but no direct evidence. I found, how- 
ever, among butchers who had the best means of 
knowing, a strong conviction that such ^pas the 
case. One highly-respectable tradesman told me 
he was as certain of it as that it was the month 
of June, though, if called upon to produce legal 
evidence proving either that such was the sausage- 
makers' practice, or that this was the month of 
June, he might fail in both instances. 

I found among street-people who dealt in pro- 
visions a strong, or, at any rate, a strongly-ex- 
pressed, opinion that the tongues, kidneys, and 
hearts of horses were sold as those of oxen. One 
man told me, somewhat triumphantly, as a result 
of his ingenuity in deduction, that he had thoughts 
at one time of trying to establish himself in a 
cats'-meat walk, and made inquiries into the nature 
of the calling : "I 'm satisfied the 'osses' arts," ho 
said, " is sold for beastesses' ; 'cause you see, sir, 
there 's nothing as 'ud be better liked for favour- 
ite cats and pet dogs, than a nice piece of 'art, but 
yen do you see the 'osses' 'arts on a barrow "? If 
they don't go to the cats, vere does they go to ] 
Vy, to the Christians." 

I am_ assured, however, by tradesmen whose 
interest (to say nothing of other considerations) 
would probably make them glad to expose such 
practices, that this substitution of the equine for 
the bovine heart is not attempted, and is hardly 
possible. The bullock's heart, kidneys, and 
tongue, are so different in shape (the heart, more 
especially), and in the colour of the fat, while the 
rough tip of the ox's tongue is not found in that of 
the horse, that this second-hand, or offal kind of 
animal food could not be palmed off upon any one 
who had ever purchased the heart, kidneys, or 
tongue of an ox. " If the horse's tongue be used 
as a substitute for that of any other," said one 
butcher to me, "it is for the dried reindeer's — 
a savoury dish for the breakfast table !" Since 
writing the above, I have had convincing proof 
given me that the horses' tongues are cured and 
sold as ''neats." The heart and kidneys are also 
palmed, I find, for those of oxen ! ! Thus, in one 
respect, there is a material difference between 
the usages, in respect of this food, between Paris 
and London. 

One tradesman, in a large way of business — 
with many injunctions that I should make no 
allusion that miglit lead to his being known, as he 
said it might be his ruin, even though he never 
slaughtered the meat he sold, but was, iu fact, a 
dead salesman or a vendor of meat consigned to 
him — one tradesman, I say, told me that he fan- 
cied there was an unreasonable objection to the 
eating of horse-flesh among us. The horse was 



quite afi dainty in his food as the ox, he was 
quite as graminivorous, and shrunk more, from a 
nicer sense of smell, from anythinar pertaining to a 
contact with animal food than did the ox. The 
principal objection lies in the number of diseased 
horses sold at the knackers. My informant rea- 
soned only from analogy, as he had never tasted 
horse-flesh ; but a great-uncle of his, he told me, 
had relished it highly in the peninsular war. 

The uses to which a horse's carcass are put in 
London are these : — The skin, for tanning, sells for 
6«. as a low average ; the hoofs, for glue, are 
worth Id. ; the shoes and nails, l^^d. ; the mane 
and tail, \\d. ; the bones, which in London (as 
it was described to me) are " cracked up " for 
manure, bring 1*. Qd. ; the fat is melted down 
and used for cart-grease and common harness 
oil ; one person acquainted with the trade thought 
that the average yield of fat was 10 lbs. per 
horse ("taking it low"), another that it was 
12 lbs. ("taking it square"), so that if 11 lbs. 
be accepted as an average, the fat, at 2rf. per lb., 
would realize 1«. lOrf. Of the tendons no use is 
made ; of the blood none ; and no maggots are 
reared upon putrid horse-Hesh, but a butcher, who 
had been twenty years a farmer also, told me that 
he knew from experience that there was nothing 
so good as maggots for the fattening of poultry, 
and he thought, from what I told him of maggot- 
breeding in Moiitfaucon, that we were behind the 
French in this respect. 

. Thus the English dead horse— the vendor re- 
ceiving on an average 1^. from the knacker, — 
realizes the following amount, without including 
the knacker's profit in disposing of the flesh to 
the cats'-meat man ; but computing it merely at 
2/. we have the subjoined receipts : — 

X, 8 d. 
The flesh (averaging 2 cwt., 

sold at 2irf. per lb. . .200 
The skin . . . .060 
The hoofs . . . .002 
The shoes and nails . . 1^ 
The bones . . .016 

The fat . . . . 1 10 
The tendons . . .000 

The tongue, &c. . , ] ] 

The blood . . . .000 
The intestines . . .000 

X'2 9 74 
The French dead horse, then, is made a source 
of nearly 5*. higher receipt than the English. 
On my inquiring the reason of this difference, and 
wh/ the blood, &c., were not made available, I 
was told that the demand by the Prussian blue 
manufacturers and the sugar refiners was so fully 
supplied, and over-supplied, from the great cattle 
staiighter-honses, that the private butchers, fur the 
trifling sum to be gained, let tiie blood be wasted. 
One bullock lUughterer in Fox and Knot-yard, 
who kills 180 cattle in a week, receives only \l. 
for the blood of the whole number, which is re- 
ceived in a well in the slaughterhouse. The 
amount paid for blood a few year's back was more 
tbao double \U present rate. Under these circum- 

stances, I was told, it would be useless trying to 
turn the wasted offal of a horse to any profitiible 
purpose. There is, I am told, on an average, 
1000 horses slaughtered every week in London, 
and tliis, at 21. IO5. each animal, would make the 
value of the dead horses of the metropolis amount 
to 130,000/. per annum. 

Were it not that I might be dwelling too long 
on the subject, I might point out how the otfal of 
the skins was made to subserve other purposes from 
the Bermondsey tiin-yards ; and how the parings 
and scrapings went to the makers of glue and size, 
and the hair to the builders to mix with lime, 

I may instance another thing in which the 
worth of what in many places is valueless refuse 
is exemplified, in the matter of " waste," as waste 
paper is always called in the trade. Paper in all 
its glossiest freshness is but a reproduction of what 
had become in some measure " waste," viz. the 
rags of the cotton or linen fabric after serving their 
original purpose. There is a body of men in 
London who occupy themselves entirely in col- 
lecting waste paper. It is no matter of what kind; 
a small prayer-book, a once perfumed and welcome 
love-note, lawyers' or tailors' bills, acts of parlia- 
ment, and double sheets of the Times, form portions 
of the waste dealer's stock. Tons upon tons are 
thus consumed yearly. Books of every descrip- 
tion are ingredients of this wjiste, and in every 
language; modern poems or pamphlets and old 
romances (perfect or imperfect), Shakespeare, 
Moliere, Bibles, music, histories, stories, magazines, 
tracts to convert the heathen or to prove how 
easily and how immensely our national and indivi- 
dual wealth might be enhanced, the prospectuses 
of a thousand companies, each certain to prove a 
mine of wealth, schemes to pay off the national 
debt, or recommendations to wipe it off, auctioneers' 
catalogues and long-kept letters, children's copy- 
books and last century ledgers, printed effusions 
which have progressed no further than the unfolded 
sheets, uncut works and books mouldy from age — 
all these things are found in the insatiate bag of 
the waste collector, who of late has been worried 
because he could not supply enough ! " I don't 
know how it is, sir," said one waste collector, with 
whom I had some conversation on the subject of 
street-sold books, with which business he was also 
connected, " I can't make it out, but paper gets 
scarcer or else 1 'm out of luck. Just at this tmie 
my family and me really couldn't live on my waste 
if we had to depend entirely upon it." 

I am assured that in no place in the world is 
this traffic carried on to anything approaching the 
extent that it is in London. When I treat of the 
street-buyers I shall have some curious information 
to publibh on the subject. I do but allude to it 
here as one strongly illustrative of "second-hand" 

Of the Stbeet-Sbllers of Second-Hand 

Metal Articles. 

I UAVB in the preceding remarks specified the 

wares sold by the vendors of the second-hand 

articles of metal manufacture, or (as they are 



called in the streets) the " old ructal " men. The 
several articles I have specified may never be all 
found at one time upon one stall, but they are 
all found on the respective stalls. " Aye, sir," 
said one old man whom I conversed with, " and 
there's more things every now and then comes to 
the stalls, and there used to be still more when I 
were young, but I can't call them all to mind, for 
times is worse with me, and so my memory fails. 
But there used to be a good many bayonets, and 
iron tinder-boxes, and steels for striking lights; I 
can remember them." 

Some of the sellers have strong heavy barrows, 
which they wheel from street to street. As this \ 
requires a considerable exertion of strength, such ; 
part of the trade is carried on by strong men, 
generally of the costermongering class. The 
weight to be propelled is about 300 lbs. Of this 
class there are now a few, rarely more than half-a- 
dozen, wiio sell on commission in the way I have 
described concerning the swag-barrowmen. 

These are the " old metal swags " of street 
classification, but their remuneration is less fixed 
than that of the other swag-barrowmen. It is some- 
times a quarter, sometimes a third, and some- 
times even a half of the amount taken. The 
men carrying on this traffic are the servants of 
the marine-store dealers, or vendors of old metal 
articles, who keep shops. If one of these people 
be " lumbered up," that is, if lie find his stock 
increase too rapidly, lie furnishes a barrow, and 
sends a man into the streets with it, to sell what 
the shopkeeper may find to be excessive. Some- 
times if the tradesman can gain only the merest 
trifle more than lie could gain from the people 
who buy for the melting-pot, he is satisfied. 

There is, or perhaps was, an opinion prevalent 
that the street " old metals " in this way of busi- 
ness got rid of stolen goods in such a manner as 
the readiest mode of sale, some of which were 
purposely rusted, and sold at almost any price, 
so that they brought but a profit to the " fence," 
whose payment to the thief was little more than 
the price of old metal at the foundry. I under- 
stand, however, that this course is not now pur- 
sued, nor is it likely that it ever was pursued to 
any extent. The street-seller is directly under 
the eye of the police, and when there is a search 
for stolen goods, it is not very likely that they 
would be paraded, however battered or rusted for 
the purpose, before men who possessed descriptions 
of all goods stolen. Until the establishment of 
the present sj-^stem of police, this might have been 
an occasional practice. One street-seller had even 
heard, and he " had it from the man what did it," 
that a last-maker's shop was some years back 
broken into in the expectation that money would 
be met with, but none was found ; arid as the 
thieves could not bring away such heavy lumbering 
things as lasts, they cursed their ill-luck, and 
brought away such tools as they could stow about 
their persons, and cover with their loose great 
coats. These were the large knives, fixed to 
swivels, and resembling a small scythe, used by 
the artizan to rough hew the block of beech- 
wood ; and a variety of excellent rasps and files 

(for they must be of the best), necessary for the 
completion of the last. These very tools were, in 
ten days after the robbery, sold from a street- 

The second-hand metal goods are sold from 
stalls as well as from barrows, and these stalls are 
often tended by women whose husbands may be 
in some other branch of street-commerce. One of 
these stalls I saw in the care of a stout elderly 
Jewess, who was fast asleep, nodding over her 
locks and keys. She was awakened by the 
passing policeman, lest her stock should be pil- 
fered by the boys : " Come, wake up, mother, and 
shake yourself," he said, " I shall catch a weazel 
asleep next." 

Some of these barrows and stalls are heaped 
with the goods, and some are very scantily sup- 
plied, but the barrows are by far the best stocked. 
Many of them (especially the swag) look like 
collections of the different stages of rust, from its 
incipient spots to its full possession of the entire 
metal. But amongst these seemingly useless 
things there is a gleam of brass or plated ware. 
On one barrow I saw an old brass door-plate, on 
which was engraven the name of a late learned 
judge, Baron B ; another had formerly, an- 
nounced the residence of a dignitary of the church, 
the Rev. Mr. . 

The second-hand metal-sellers are to be seen 
in all the street-markets, especially on the Saturday 
nights; also in Poplar, Limehouse, and the Com- 
mercial-road, in Golden-lane, and in Old-street 
and Old-street-road, St. Luke's, in Hoxton and 
Shoreditch, in the Westminster Broadway, and 
the Whitechapel-road, in Rosemary-lane, and in 
the district where perhaps every street callintr is 
pursued, but where some special street-trades 
seem peculiar to the genius of the place, in Petti- 
coat-lane. A person unacquainted with the last- 
named locality may have formed an opinion that 
Petticoat-lane is merely a lane or street. But 
Petticoat-lane gives its name to a little district. 
It embraces Sandys-row, Artillery-passage, Artil- 
lery-lane, Frying-pan-alley, Catherine Wheel- 
alley, Tripe-yard, Fisher's-alley, Wentworth- 
street, Harper's-alley, Marlborough-court, Broad- 
place, Providence-place, Ellison-street, Swan-court, 
Little Love-court, Hutchinsonstreet, Little Mid- 
dlesex-street, Hebrew-place, Boar's-head-yard, 
Black-horse-yard, ]\Iiddlesex-street, Stoney-lane, 
Meeting-house-yard, Gravel-lane, White-street, 
Culler-street, and Borer's-lane, until the wayfarer 
emerges into what appears the repose and spa- 
ciousness of Devonshire-square, Bishopsgate-street, 
up Borer's-lane, or into what in the contrast 
really looks like the aristocratic thoroughfare of 
the Aldgate High-street, down Middlesex-street; 
or into Houndsditch through the halls of the Old 
Clothes Exchange. 

All these narrow streets, lanes, rows, pas- 
sages, alleys, yards, courts, and places, are the 
sites of the street-trade carried on in this quarter. 
The whole neighbourhood rings with street cries, 
many uttered in those strange east-end Jewish 
tones which do not sound like English. Mixed 
with the incessant invitations to buy Hebrew 




dainties, or the " sheepest pargains," is occasion- 
ally heard the guttural utterance of the Erse 
tongue, for the " native Irish," as they are some- 
times called, are iu possession of some portion of 
the street-traffic of Petticoat-lane, the original Rag 
Fair. The savour of the place is moreover peculiar. 
There is fresh fish, and dried fish, and fish being 
ffied in a style peculiar to the Jews ; there is the 
fustiness of old clothes ; there is the odour from 
the pans on which (still in the Jewish fashion) 
frizzle and hiss pieces of meat and onions ; pud- 
dings are boiling and enveloped in steam ; cakes 
with strange names are hot from the oven ; tubs 
of big pickled cucumbers or of onions give a sort 
of acidity to the atmosphere ; lemons and oranges 
abound ; and altogether the scene is not only such 
88 can only be seen in London, but only such as 
can be seen in this one part of the metropolis. 

When I treat of the street-Jews, I shall have 
information highly curious to communicate, and 
when I come to the fifth division of my present i 
subject, I shall more particularly describe Petticoat- \ 
lane, as the head-quarters of the second-hand j 
clothes business. 

I have here alluded to the character of this 
quarter as being one much resorted to formerly, 
and still largely used by the sellers of second- 
hand metal goods. Here I was informed that a 
■trong-built man, known as Jack, or (appropriately 
enough) as Iron Jack, had, until his death six or 
■even years ago, one of the best-stocked barrows 
in London. This, in spite of remonstrances, and 
by a powerful exercise of his strength, the man 
lilted, as it were, on to the narrow foot-path, 
and every passer-by had his attention directed 
almost perforce to the contents of the barrow, for 
he must make a " detour" to advance on iiis way. 
One of this man's favourite pitches was close to 
the lofty walls of what, before the change in their 
charter, was one of the East India Company's 
vast warehouses. The contrast to any one who 
indulged a thought on the subject — and there is 
great food for thought in Petticoat-lane — was 
•triking enough. Here towered the store-house 
of costly teas, and silks, and spices, and indigo ; 
while at its foot was carried on the most minute, 
and apparently worthless of all street-trades, rusty 
icrews and nails, such as only few would care to 
pick up in the street, being objects of earnest 
bargaining ! 

An experienced man in the business, who 
thought be was *' turned 50, or somewhere about 
that," gave me the following account of his trade, 
his customers, &c. 

" I 've been in roost street-trades," he said, " and 
was bom to it, like, for my mother was a rag- 
gatherer — not a bad business once— and I helped 
ber. I never saw my father, but he was a soldier, 
and it's supposed lust his life in foreign parts. 
Mo, I don't remember ever having heard what 
foreign part*, and it don't matter. Well, perhaps, 
this if about as tidy a trade for a bit of bread as 
any that 's going now. Perhaps selling iish may 
be better, but that 's to a man what knows fish 
well. I can't say I ever did. 1 'm more a dab 
at cooking it (with a laugh). I like a bloater best 

on what 's .in Irish gridiron. Do you know what 
that is, sirl I know, though I'm not Irish, but 
I married an Irish wife, and as good a woman as 
ever was a wife. It's done on the tongs, sir, laid 
across the fire, and the bloater 's laid across the 
tongs. Some says it's best turned and turned 
very quick on the coals themselves, but the tongs 
is best, for you can raise or lower." [My infor- 
mant seemed interested in his account of this and 
other modes of cookery, which I need not detail.] 
" This is really a very trying trade. 0^, I mean 
it tries a man's patience so. Why, it was in 
Easter week a man dressed like a gentleman — but 
I don't think he was a real gentleman— looked 
out some bolts, and a hammer head, and other 
things, odds and ends, and they came to lQ\d. 
He said he 'd give 6</. * Sixpence ! ' says I; ' why 
d'you think I stole 'em V * Well,' says he, 'if 
I didn't think you 'd stole 'em, I shouldn't have 
come to youJ I don't think he was joking. 
Well, sir, we got to high words, and I said, ' Then 
I 'm d — d if you have them for less than Is.* 
And a bit of a crowd began to gather, they was 
most boys, but the p'liceman came up, as slow as 
you please, and so my friend flings down \s., and 
puts the things in his pocket and marches off, 
with a few boys to keep him company. That 's 
the way one's temper 's tried. Well, it 's hard to 
say what sells best. A Intch-lock and keys goes 
off quick. I 've had them from 2d. to Qd. ; but 
it's only the lower-priced things as sells now in 
any trade. Bolts is a fairish slock, and so is all 
sorts of tools. Well, not saws so much as such 
things as screwdrivers, or hammers, or choppers, 
or tools that if they 're rusty people can clean up 
theirselves. Saws ain't so easy to manage ; bed- 
keys is good. No, I don't clean the metal up 
unless it s very bad ; I think things don't sell so 
well that way. People 's jealous that they 're 
just done up on purpose to deceive, though they 
may cost only \d. or 2rf. There 's that cheese- 
cutter now, it 's getting rustier and there '11 be 
very likely a better chance to sell it. This is how 
it is, sir, 1 know. You see if a man 's going to 
buy old metal, and he sees it all rough and rusty, 
he says to himself, * Well, there 's no gammon | 
about it; I can just see what it is.' Then folks 
like to clean up a thing theirselves, and it 's as if 
it was something made from their own cleverness. 
That was just my feeling, sir, when I bought old 
metals for my own use, before I was in the trade, 
and I goes by that. O, working people 's by far 
my best customers. Many of 'cm 's very fond of 
jobbing about their rooms or their houses, and they 
come to such as me. Tiien a many has fancies 
for pigeons, or rabbits, or poultry, or dogs, and 
they mostly make up the places for them their- 
selves, and as money's an object, why them sort 
ot fancy people buys hinges, and locks, and tcrewi, 
and hammers, and what they want of me. A 
clever mechanic can turn his hand to most things 
that he wants for his own use. I know a shoe- 
maker that makes beautiful rabbit-hutches and 
sells them along with his prize cattle, as I calls 
his great big lung-eared rabbits. Perhaps I take 
2i. Qd. or Zs. a day, and it 's about half profit. 



Yes, this time of the year I make good 10s. 6rf. 
a week, but in winter not Is. a day. That 
would be very poor pickings for two people 
to live on, and I can't do without my drop 
of beer, but my wife has constant work with 
a first-rate laundress at Mile End, and so we rub 
on, for we 'vc no family living." 

This informant told nie further of the way in 
which the old metal stocks sold in tlie streets 
were provided ; but that branch of the subject 
relates to street-buying. Some of the street-sellers, 
however, buy their stocks of the shopkeepers, 

I find a difficulty in estimating the number of 
the second-hand metal-ware street-sellers. Many 
of the stalls or barrows are the property of the 
marine-store shopkeepers, or old metal dealers 
(marine stores being about the only things 
the marine-store men do not sell), and these 
are generally placed near the shop, being 
indeed a portion of its contents out of door^s. 
Some of the marine-store men (a class of traders, 
by the by, not superior to street-sellers, making 
no " odious " comparison as to the honesty of 
the two), when they have purchased largely — the 
refuse iron for instance after a house has been 
pulled down — establish two or three pitches in the 
street, confiding the stalls or barrows to their 
wives and children. I was told by several in the 
trade that there were 200 old metal sellers in the 
streets, but from the best information at my com- 
mand not more than 50 appear to be strictly 
s<ree^selle^s, unconnected with shop-keeping. 
Estimating a weekly receipt, per individual, of 
155. (half being protit), the yearly street outlay 
among this body alone amounts to 1950/, 

Of the Street-Selleks of Second-Hand 

Metal Trays, &c. 

There are still some few portions of the old 

metal trade in the streets which require specific 


Among these is the sale of second-hand trays, 
occasionally with such things as bread-baskets. 
Instead of these wares, however, being matters of 
daily traffic, they are offered in the streets only at 
intervals, and generally on the Saturday and 
Monday evenings, while a few are hawked to 
public-houses. An Irishman, a rather melancholy 
looking man, but possessed of some humour, gave 
me the following account. His dress was a worn 
suit, such as masons work in ; but I have seldom 
seen so coarse, and never on an Irishman of his 
class, except on a Sunday, so clean a shirt, and he 
made as free a display of it as if it were the 
choicest cambric. He washed it, he told me, with 
his own hands, as he had neither wife, nor mo- 
ther, nor sister. " I was a cow-keeper's man, 
j-our honour," he said, " and he sent milk to 
Dublin, I thought I might do betthur, and I got 
to Liverpool, ai.a walked here. Have I done 
betthur, is it ] Sorry a betthur. Would I like 
to returren to Dublin ? Well, perhaps, plaze God, 
I '11 do betthur here yit. I 've sould a power of 
different things in tlie sthreets, but I 'm off for 
counthry work now. I have a few thcrrays left 
if your honour wants such a thing. I first sould 

a few for a man I lodged along wid in Kent-street, 
when he was sick, and so I got to know the 
therrade. He tould me to say, and it 's the 
therruth, if anybody said, ' They're only second- 
hand,' that they was all the betthur for that, for 
if they hadn't been real good therrays at first, 
they would niver have lived to be second-hand ones. 
I calls the bigghur thcrrays butlers, and the 
smhaller, waithers. It's a poor therrade. One 
woman '11 say, ' Pooh ! ould-fashioned things.' 
' Will, thin, ma'am,' I '11 say, 'a good thing like 
this is niver ould-fashioned, no more than the 
bhutiful mate and berrid, and the bhutiful new 
praties a coming in, that you '11 be atin off of it, 
and thratin' your husband to, God save him. No 
lady iver goes to supper widout her therray.' 
Yes, indeed, thin, and it is a poor therrade. It 's 
tlie bhutiful therrays I 've sould for Qd. I buys 
them of a shop which dales in sich things. The 
perrofit ! Sorry a perrofit is there in it at all at 
ail ; but I thries to make Ad. out of Is. If I 
makes Qd. of a night it's good worruk," 

These trays are usually carried under the arm, 
and are sometimes piled on a stool or small 
stand, in a street market. The prices are from 
2rf. to 10<^., sometimes \s. The stronger descrip- 
tions are sold to street-sellers to display their 
goods upon, as much as to any other class. Wo- 
men and children occasionally sell them, but it 
is one of the callings which seems to be disap- 
pearing from the streets. From two men, who 
were familiar with this and other second-hand 
trades, I heard the following reasons assigned for 
the decadence. One man thought it was owing to 
" swag-trays " being got up so common and so 
cheap, but to look " stunning Avell,", at least as 
long as the shininess lasted. The other contended 
that poor working people had enough to do now- 
a-days to get something to eat, without thinking 
of a tray to put it on. 

If 20 persons, and that I am told is about the 
number of sellers, take in the one or two nights' 
sale 4*. a week each, on second-hand trays (33 per 
cent, being the rate of profit), the street ex- 
penditure is 208/, in a year. 

In other second-hand metal articles there is 
now and then a separate trade. Two or three 
sets of sm^W fire-irons may be offered in a street- 
market on a Saturday night ; or a small stock of 
fiat and Italian irons for the laundresses, who 
work cheap and must buy second-hand; or a 
collection of tools in the same way ; but these are 
accidental sales, and are but ramifications from the 
general "old metal" trade that I have ^described. 
Perhaps, in the sale of these second-hand articles, 
20 people may be regularly employed, and 300/, 
yearly may be taken. 

In Petticoat-lane, Rosemary-lane, Wliitecross- 
street, Ratcliff-highway, and in the street-markets 
generally, are lo be seen men, women, and 
children selling dinner knives and forks, razors, 
pockel-knivijs, and scissors. Tlie pocket-knives 
and scissors are kept well oiled, so that the wea- 
ther does not rust them. Tiiese goods have been 
mostly repaired, ground, and polished for street- 
commerce. The women and children selling these 



articles are the wives and families of the men 
■who repair, grind, and polish them, and who 
belong, correctly speaking, to the class of street- 
artiz.ans, under which head they will be more 
particularly treated of. It is the fame also with 
the street-vendors of second-hand tin saucepans 
and other vessels (a trade, by the way, which is 
rapidly decreasing), for these are generally made 
of the old drums of machines retinned, or are old 
saucepans and pots mended for use by the vendors, 
who are mostly working tinmen, and appertain 
to the artizan class. 

Of thb Strekt-Sellers of Second-Hand 
Linen, &c. 
I KOW come to the second variety of the several 
kinds of street-sellers of secondhand articles. 
The accounts of the street-trade in second-hand 
linens, however, need be but brief; for none of 
the callings I have now to notice supply a mode of 
subsistence to the street-sellers independently of 
other pursuits. They are resorted to whenever 
an opportunity or a prospect of remuneration 
presents itself by the class of general street-sellers, 
women as well as men — the women being the 
most numerous. The sale of these articles is on 
the Saturday and Monday nights, in the street- 
markets, and daily in Petticoat and Kosemary 

One of the most saleable of all the second-hand 
textile commodities of the streets, is an article the 
demand for which is certainly creditable to the 
poorer and the working-classes of London — 
towels. The principal supply of this street-towel- 
ling is obtained from the several barracks in and 
near London. They are a portion of what were 
the sheets (of strong linen) of the soldiers' beds, 
which are periodically renewed, and the old sheet- 
ing is then sold to a contractor, of whom the 
street-folk buy it, and wash and prepare it for 
market. It is sold to the street-traders at id. per 
pound, 1 lb. making eight penny towels ; some (in- 
ferior) is as low as 2d. The principal demand is 
by the working-classes. i 

" Why, for one time, sir," said a street-seller 
to me, " there wasn't much towelling in tiie 
streets, and I got a tidy lot, just when I knew 
it would go off, like a thief round a corner. I 
pitched in Whitecross-street, and not far from a 
woman that was making a great noise, and had a 
good lot of people about her, for cheap mackarel 
weren't so very plenty then as they are now. 
' Here 'a your cheap mack'rel,' shouts she, ' cheap, 
cheap, cheap mac-mac-macnific/trei. Then / be- 
gins : ' Here 's your cheap towelling ; cheap, cheap, 
cheap, tow tow-tow-<oif-ellingB. Here's towels a 
penny a piece, and two for twopence, or a double 
family towel for twopence.' I soon had a greater 
cro^d than she had. O, yes ! I gives 'em a good 
history of what I has to sell ; patters, as you call 
it ; a man that can't isn't fit for the streets. 
' Here's what every wife should buy for her bus- 
bind, and every htuband for his wife,' I goes on. 
' Doinrstic happiness is then secured. If a has- 
bind licks his wife, or a wife licks her husband, a 
Xn\\>'\ i<t the handiest and most innocent thing it 

can be done with, and if it 's wet it gives you a 
strong clipper on the cheek, as every respectable 
m.irried person knows as well as I do. A clipper 
that way always does me good, and I 'm satisfied 
it does more good to a gentleman than a lady.' 
Alwa5's patter for the women, sir, if you wants to 
sell. Yes, towels is good sale in London, but I 
prefer country business. I 'm three times as much 
in the country as in town, and I 'm just oft" to 
Ascot to sell cards, and do a little singing, and 
then I '11 perhaps take a round to Bath and Bris- 
tol, but Bath 's not what it was once." 

Another street-seller told me that, as far as his 
experience went, Monday night was a better time 
for the sale of second-hand sheetings, &c., than 
Saturday, as on Monday the wives of the working- 
classes who sought to buy cheaply what was 
needed for household use, usually went out to 
make their purchases. The Satuiday-night's mart 
is more one for immediate necessities, either for the 
Sunday's dinner or the Sunday's wear. It appears 
to me that in all these little distinctions — of which 
street-folk tell you, quite unconscious that they 
tell anything new — there is something of the his- 
tory of the character of a people, 

" Wrappers," or " bale-stuff"," as it is sometimes 
styled, are also sold in the streets as secondhand 
goods. These are what have formed the covers of 
the packages of manufactures, and are bought 
(most frequently by the Jews) at the wholesale 
warehouses or the larger retail shops, and re-sold 
to the street-people, usually at l^d. and 2d. per 
pound. These goods are sometimes sold entire, 
but are far more often cut into suitable sizes for 
towels, strong aprons, &c. They soon get 
" bleached," I was told, by washing and wear. 

" JJuiiit" linen or calico is also sold in the 
streets as a second-hand article. On the occasion 
of a tire at any tradesman's, whose stock of drapery 
had been injured, the damaged wares are bought 
by the Jewish or other keepers of the haberdashery 
swag-shops. Some of these are sold by the second- 
hand street dealers, but the traffic for such articles 
is greater among the hawkers. Of this I have 
already given an account. The street-sale of these 
burnt (and sometimes designedly burnt) wares is 
in pieces, generally from 6(/. to \s. Qd. each, or in 
yards, frequently at Qd. per yard, but of course 
the price varies with the quality. 

I believe that no second-hand sheets are sold in 
the streets as sheets, for when tolerably good they 
are received at the pawn-shops, and if indifferent, 
at the dolly-shops, or illegal pawn-shops. Street 
folk have told me of sheets being sold in the street- 
markets, but so rarely as merely to supply an 
exception. In Petticoat-lane, indeed, they are 
sold, but it is mostly by the Jew shopkeepers, 
who also expose their goods in the streets, and they 
are sold by them very often to street-traders, who 
convert them into other purposes. 

The statistics of this trade present great diffi- 
culties. The second-hand linen, *cc., is not a 
regular street trafHc. It may be offered to the 
public 20 days or nights in a month, or not one. 
If a "job-lot"' have been secured, the second-hand 
street-seller may confine hinuelf to that especial 



stock. If his means compel him to offer only a 
paucity of second-hand goods, he may sell but one 
kind. Generally, however, the same man or 
woman trades in two, three, or more of the second- 
hand textile productions which I have specified, 
and it is hardly one street-seller out of 20, who if 
he have cleared his IO5. in a given time, by vend- 
ing different articles, can tell the relative amount he 
cleared on each. The trade is, therefore, irregular, 
and is but a consequence, or — as one street-seller 
very well expressed it — a "tail" of other trades. 
For instance, if there has been a great auction of 
any corn-merchant's effects, there will be more sack- 
ing than usual in the street-markets ; if there have 
been sales, beyond the average extent, of old 
household furniture, there will be a more ample 
street stock of curtains, carpeting, fringes, &c. Of 
the articles I have enumerated the sale of second- 
hand linen, more especially that from the barrack- 
stores, is the largest of any. 

The most intelligent man whom I met with in 
this trade calculated that there were 80 of these 
second-hand street-folk plying their trade two 
nights in the week ; that they took 85. each 
weekly, about half of it being profit ; thus the 
street expenditure would be 1664^. per annum. 

Of the Street-Sellers of Second-hand 
Sbookd-Hand Curtains, but only good ones, I 
was assured, can now be sold in the streets. 
" because common new ones can be had so cheap." 
The " good second-hands," however, sell readily. 
The most saleable of all second-hand curtains are 
those of chintz, especially old-fashioned chintz, 
now a scarce article ; the next in demand are 
what were described to me as " good check," or 
the blue and white cotton curtains. White dimity 
curtains, though now rarely seen in a street- 
market, are not bought to be re-used as curtains 
— " there 's too much washing about them for 
London " — but for petticoats, the covering of large 
pincushions, dressing-table covers, &c., and for the 
last-mentioned purpose they are bought by the 
householders of a small tenement who let a "well- 
furnished" bed-room or two. 

The uses to which the second-hand chintz or 
check curtains are put, are often for "Waterloo" 
or "tent" beds. It is common for a single 
woman, struggling to " get a decent roof over her 
head," or for a young couple wishing to improve 
their comforts in furniture, to do so piece-meal. 
An old bedstead of a better sort may first be pur- 
chased, and so on to the concluding " decency," 
or, in the estimation of some poor persons, " dig- 
nity " of curtains. These persons are customers 
of the street-sellers — the secondhand curtains 
costing them from %d. to 1*. Qd. 

Moreen curtains have also a good sale. They 
are bought by working people (and by some of the 
dealers in second-hand furniture) for the re-cover- 
ing of sofas, which had become ragged, the defi- 
ciency of stuffing being supplied with hay (which 
is likewise the " stuffing " of the new sofas sold 
by the " linen-drapers," or " slaughter-houses." 
Moreen curtains, too, are sometimes cut into pieces. 

for the re-covering of old horse-hair chairs, for 
which purpose they are sold at M. each piece. 

Second-hand curtains are moreover cut into por- 
tions and sold for the hanging of the testers of 
bedsteads, but almost entirely for what the street- 
sellers call " half-teesters," These are required 
for the Waterloo bedsteads, " and if it 's a nice 
thing, sir," said one woman, " and perticler if it 's 
a chintz, and to be had for 6rf., the women '11 
fight for it." 

The second-hand curtains, when sold entire, are 
from &d. to 25. Qd. One man had lately sold a 
pair of "good moreens, only faded, but dyeing 's 
cheap," for Zs. 6d. 

Of the Street-Sellers of Second-hand Car- 
peting, Flannels, Stocking-legs, &c., &c. 
I CLASS these second-hand wares together, as they 
are all of woollen materials. 

Carpeting has a fair sale, and in the streets is 
vended not as an entire floor or stair-carpet, but in 
pieces. The floor-carpet pieces are from 2d. to 
I5. each ; the stair-carpet pieces are from Id. to 
id. a. yard. Hearth-rugs are very rarely offered 
to street-customers, but when offered are sold from 
4:d. to I5. Drugget is also sold in the same way 
as the floor-carpeting, and sometimes for house- 
scouring cloths. 

" I 've sold carpet, sir," said a woman street- 
seller, who called all descriptions — rugs and 
drugget too — by that title; "and I would like to 
sell it regular, but my old man — he buys every- 
thing — says it can't be had regular. I 've sold 
many things in the streets, but I 'd rather sell good 
second-hand in carpet or curtains, or fur in winter, 
than anything else. They 're nicer people as buys 
them. It would be a good business if it was 
regular. Ah ! indeed, in my time, and before I 
was married, I have sold different things in a 
different way ; but I 'd rather not talk about that, 
and I make no complaints, for seeing what I see. 
I 'm not so badly off. Them as buys carpet are 
very particular — I 've known them take a tape 
out of their pockets and measure— but they're 
honourable customers. If they 're satisfied they 
buy, most of them does, at once ; without any of 
your ' is that the lowest]' as ladies asks in shops, 
and that when they don't think of buying, either. 
Carpet is bought by working people, and they use 
it for hearth-rugs, and for bed-sides, and such like. 
I know it by what I've heard them say when I've 
been selling. One Monday evening, five or six 
years back, I took 10s. 9tZ. in carpet; there had 
been some great sales at old houses, and a good 
quantity of carpet and curtains was sold in the 
streets. Perhaps I cleared '6s. 6d. on that 10s. 9d. 
But to take 4s. or 5s. is good work now, and often 
not more than Sd. in the Is. profit. Still, it 's 
a pretty good business, when you can get a stock 
of second-hands of different kinds to keep you 
going constantly." 

What in the street-trade is known as "Flannels" 
is for the most part second-hand blankets, which 
having been worn as bed furniture, and then very 
probably, or at the same time, used for ironing 
cloths, are found in the street-markets, where 



they are purchased for flannel petticoats for the 
children of the poor, or when not good enough for 
such use, for house cloths, at \d. each. 

The trade in stocking legs is considerable. In 
these legs the feet have been cut ofl-j further darn- 
ing being impossible, and the fragment of the 
•tocking which is worth preserving is sold to the 
careful housewives who attach to it a new foot. 
Sometimes for winter wear a new cheap sock is 
attached to the footless hose. These legs sell 
from \d. to Zd. the pair, but very rarely Zd., and 
only when of the best quality, though the legs would 
not be saleable in the streets at all, had they not 
been of a good manufacture originally. Men's hose 
are sold in this way more largely than women's. 

The trade in second-hand stockings is very con- 
siderable, but they form a part of the second-hand 
apparel of street-commerce, and I shall notice 
them under that head. 

Op the Stkeet-Skller3 of Second-hakd Bed- 


For bed-ticking there is generally a ready sale, 
but I was told "not near so ready as it was a dozen 
year or more back." One reason which I heard 
assigned for this was, that new ticking was made 
BO cheap (being a thin common cotton, for the 
lining of common carpet-bags, portmanteaus, &c., 
that poor persons scrupled to give any equivalent 
price for good sound second-hand linen bed-tick- 
ing, " though," said a dealer, " it '11 still wear out 
half a dozen of their new slop rigs. I should 
like a few of them there slop-masters, that 's 
making fortius out of foolish or greedy folks, to 
have to live a few weeks in the streets by this sort 
of second-hand trade ; they 'd hear what was 
thought of them then by all sensible people, which 
aren't so many as they should be by a precious 
long sight." 

The ticking sold in the street is bought for the 
patching of beds and for the making of pillows 
and bolsters, and for these purposes is sold in 
pieces at from 2d. to id. as the most frequent price. 
One woman who used to sell bed-ticking, but not 
lately, told me that she knew poor women who 
cared nothing for such convenience themselves, 
buy ticking to make pillows for their children. 

Secondhand Sacking is sold without much dif- 
ficulty in the street-markets, and usually in pieces 
at from 2d. to 6rf. This sacking has been part of 
a com sack, or of the strong package in which 
some kinds of goods are dispatched by sea or 
railway. It is bought for the mending of bed- 
stead sacking, and for the making of porters' 
knots, &c. 

Second-hand Fringe is still in fair demand, but 
though cheaper than ever, does not, I am assured, 
" sell so well as when it was dearer." Many of 
my readers will have remarked, when they have 
been passing the apartments occupied by the 
working class, that the valance fixed from the 
top of the window has its adornment of fringe ; a 
blind is sometimes adorned in a similar manner, 
and so is the valance from the tester of a bedstead. 
For such uses the second-hand fringe is bought in 

the street-markets in pieces, sometimei. called 
*' quantities," of from Id. to 1*. 

Second'/uind Table-cloths used to be an article 
of street-traffic to some extent. If offered at all 
now — and one man, though he was a regular 
street-seller, thonght he had not seen one offered 
in a market this year — they are worn things such 
as will not be taken by the pawnbrokers, while 
the dolly-shop people would advance no more 
than the table-cloth might be worth for the rag- 
bag. The glazed table-covers, now in such 
general use, are not as yet sold second-hand in the 

I was told by a street-seller that he had heard 
an old man (since dead), who was a buyer of 
second-hand goods, say that in the old times, after 
a great sale by auction — as at Wanstead-house 
(Mr. Wellesley Pole's), about 30 years ago — the 
open-air trade was very brisk, as the street-sellers, 
like the shop-traders, proclaimed all their second- 
hand wares as having been bought at " the great 
sale." For some years no such " rme " has been 
practised by street-folk. 

Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand 
Glass and Crockery. 
These sellers are another class who are fast dis- 
appearing from the streets of London. Before 
glass and crockery, but more especially glass, 
became so low-priced when new, the second-hand 
glass-man was one of the most prosperous of the 
open-air traders ; he is now so much the reverse 
that he must generally mix up some other calling 
with his original business. One man, whose 
address was given to me as an experienced glass- 
man, I found selling mackarel and "pound 
crabs," and complaining bitterly that mackjirel 
were high, and that he could make nothing out 
of them that week at 2d. each, for poor persons, 
he told me, would not give more. " Yes, sir," he 
said, " I 've been in most trades, besides having 
been a pot-boy, both boy and man, and I don't 
like this fish-trade at all. I could get a pot-boy's 
place again, but I 'm not so strong as I were, and 
it 's slavish work in the place I could get; and a 
man that's not so young as he was once is 
chaffed so by the young lads and fellows in the 
tap-room and the skittle-ground. For this last 
three year or more I had to do something in ad- 
dition to my glass for a crust. Before I dropped 
it as a bad consarn, I sold old shoes as well 
as old ghiss, and made both ends meet that way, 
a leather end and a glass end. I sold off my 
glass to a rag and bottle shop for 9»., far less than 
it were worth, and I swopped my shoes for my 
fish-stall, and water-tub, and 3*. in money. I '11 
be out of this trade before long. The glass was 
good once; I 've made my 16«. and 20«. a week 
at it : I don't know how long that is ago, but it's 
a good long time. Latterly I could do no busi- 
ness at all in it, or hardly any. The old shoes 
was middling, because they're a free-selling thing, 
but somehow it seems awkward mixing up any 
other trade with your glass." 

The stall or barrow of a "second-hand glass- 
man" presented, and still, in a smaller degree. 



presents, a variety of articles, and a variety of 
colours, but over the whole prevails that haziness 
which seems to be considered proper to this trade. 
Even in the largest rag and bottle shops, the 
second-hand bottles always look dingy. "It 
wouldn't pay to wash them all," said one shop- 
keeper to me, ** so we washes none ; indeed, I 
b'lieve people would rather buy them as they is, 
and clean them themselves." 

The street-assortment of second-hand glass may 
be described as one of "odds and ends" — odd 
goblets, odd wine-glasses, odd decanters, odd cruet- 
bottles, salt-cellars, and mustard-pots ; together 
with a variety of "tops" to fit mustard-pots or 
butter-glasses, and of " stoppers" to fit any sized 
bottle, the latter articles being generally the most 
profitable. Occasionally may still be seen a blue 
spirit-decanter, one of aset of three, with "brandy," 
in faded gold letters, upon it, or a brass or plated 
label, as dingy as the bottle, hung by a fine wire- 
chain round the neck. Blue finger-glasses sold 
very well for use as sugar-basins to the wives of 
the better-off working-people or small tradesmen. 
One man, apparently about 40, who had been in 
this trade in his youth, and whom I questioned as 
to what was the quality of his stock, told me of 
the demand for " blue sugars," and pointed out to 
me one which happened to be on a stand by the 
door of a rag and bottle shop. When I mentioned its 
original use, he asked further about it, and after my 
answers seemed sceptical on the subject. " People 
that 's quality," he said, " that 's my notion on it, 
that hasn't neither to yarn their dinner, nor to 
cook it, but just open their mouths and eat it, can't 
dirty their hands so at dinner as to have glasses to 
wash 'era in arterards. But there 's queer ways 

At one time what were called " doctors' bottles" 
formed a portion of the second-hand stock I am 
describing. These were phials bought by the poorer 
people, in which to obtain some physician's gratui- 
tous prescription from the chemist's shop, or the time- 
honoured nostrum of some wonderful old woman. 
For a very long period, it must be borne in mind, 
all kinds of glass wares were dear. Small glass 
frames, to cover flower-roots, were also sold 
at these stalls, as were fragments of looking-glass. 
Beneath his stall or barrow, the " old glass-raau " 
often had a few old wine or beer-bottles for sale. 

At the period before cast-glass was so common, 
and, indeed, subsequently, until glass became 
cheap, it was not unusual to see at. the second- 
hand stalls, rich cut-glass vessels which had been 
broken and cemented, for sale at a low figure, the 
glass-man being often a mender. It was the same 
with China punch-bowls, and the costlier kind of 
dishes, but this part of the trade is now unknown. 

There is one curious sort of ornament still to be 
met with at these stalls — wide-mouthed bottles, 
embellished with coloured patterns of flowers, 
birds, &c., generally cut from " furniture prints," 
and kept close against the sides of the interior by 
the salt with which the bottles are filled. A 
few second-hand pitchers, teapots, &c., are still 
sold at from Id. to Qd. 

There are now not above six men (of the ordi- 

nary street selling class) who carry on this trade 
regularly. Sometimes twelve stalls or barrows 
may be seen ; sometimes one, and sometimes none. 
Calculating that each of the six dealers takes 12«. 
weekly, with a profit of C^. or 7s., we find 187Z. 4s. 
expended in this department of street-commerce. 
The principal place for the trade is in Uigh-street, 

Of tub Street- Sellers of Second-Hand 

mlsokllaneous articles. 

I HAVE in a former page specified some of the 

goods which make up the sum of the second-hand 

miscellaneous commerce of the streets of London. 

I may premise that the trader of this class is a 
sort of street broker; and it is no more possible 
minutely to detail his especial traffic in the several 
articles of his stock, than it would be to give a spe- 
cific account of each and several of the " sundries" 
to be found in the closets or corners of an old-furni- 
ture broker's or marine-store seller's premises, in 
describing his general business. 

The members of this trade (as will be shown in 
the subsequent statements) are also "miscella- 
neous" in their character. A few have known 
liberal educations, and have been established in 
liberal professions j others have been artisans or 
shopkeepers, but the mass are of the general class 
of street-sellers. 

I will first treat of the Second-Hand Street- 
Sellers of Articles for Amusement, giving a wide 
interpretation to the word "amusement." 

The backgammon, chess, draught, and cribbage- 
boards of the second-hand trade have originally 
been of good quality — some indeed of a very 
superior manufacture ; otherwise the " cheap 
Germans " (as I heard the low-priced foreign goods 
from the swag-shops called) would by their supe- 
rior cheapness have rendered the business a nullity. 
The backgammon-boards are bought of brokers, 
when they are often in a worn, unhinged, and 
what may be called ragged condition. The 
street-seller " trims tliem up," but in this there 
is nothing of artisanship, although it requires 
some little taste and some dexterity of finger. A 
new hinge or two, or old hinges re-screwed, and a 
little pasting of leather and sometimes the applica- 
tion of strips of bookbinder's gold, is all that is 
required. The backgammon-boards are some- 
times oifered in the streets by an itinerant; some- 
times (and more frequently than otherwise in a 
deplorable state, the points of the table being 
hardly distinguishable) they are part of the furni- 
ture of a second-hand stall. I have seen one at 
an old book-stall, but most usually they are 
vended by being hawked to the better sort of 
public-houses, and there they are more frequently 
disposed of by raffle than by sale. It is not once 
in a thousand times, I am informed, that second- 
hand "men" are sold with the board. Before the 
board has gone through its series of hands to the 
street-seller, the men have been lost or scattered. 
New men are sometimes sold or raffled with the 
backgammon-boards (as with the draught) at from 
Qd. to 2s. 6d. the set, the best being of box-wood. 

Chess-boards and men — for without the men of 



course a draught, or the top of n backgaramon- 
board suffices for chess — are a coiuniodity 
now rarely at the disposal of the street-sellers ; 
and, as these means of a lei-surely and abstruse 
amuaement ore not of a ready sale, the second- 
hand dealers do not "look out" for them, but 
merely speculate in them when the article '*' falls 
in their way" and seems a palpable bargain. 
Occisionally, a second-hand chess appai'atus is 
still sold by the street folk. One man — upon 
whose veracity I have every reason to rely — told 
me that he once sold a beauiiful set of ivory men 
and a handsome "leather board" (second-hand) 
to a gentleman who accosted him as he saw him 
carry them along the street for sjile, inviting him 
to step in doors, when the gentleman's residence 
was reached. The chess-men were then arranged 
and examined, and the seller asked 3/. Zs. for 
them, at once closing with the offer of 3/. ; " for 
I foiuid, sir," he said, " I had a gentleman to do 
with, for he told me he thought tliey were really 
cheap at 3/., and he would give me that." Another 
dealer in second-hand articles, when I asked him 
if he had ever sold chess-boards and men, replied, 
" Ouly twice, sir, and then at 4*-. ajid 5s. the set ; 
they was poor. I 've seen chess played, and I 
should say it's a rum game; but I know nothing 
about it. I once had a old gent for a customer, 
and he was as nice and quiet a old gent as could 
be, and I always called on him when I thought I 
had a curus old tea-caddy, or knife-box, or any- 
thing that way. He didn't buy once in twenty 
calls, but he always gave me something for my 
trouble. He used to play at chess with another 
old gent, and if, after his servant had told him 
I 'd come, I waited 'til 1 could wait no longer, 
and then knocked at his room door, he swore like 
a trooper. 

Draughtboards are sold at from Zd. to Is. 
second-hand. Cribbage- boards, also second-hand, 
and sometimes with cards, are only sold, I am in- 
formed, when they are very bad, at from \d. to 
Zd., or very good, at from 2a-. <od. to 5s. One 
street-seller told me that he once sold a " Chinee" 
cribbage-board for 18*., which cost him 10s. " It 
was a most beautiful thing," he stated, " and was 
very high-worked, and was inlaid with ivory, and 
with green ivory too." 

The Dice required for the playing of backgam- 
mon, or for any purpose, are bought of the waiters 
at the club houses, generally at 2^. the dozen sets. 
They are retailed at about 25 per cent, profit. 
Dice in this way are readily disposed of by the 
street-people, as they are looked upon as " true," 
and are only about a sixth of the price they could 
be obtained for new ones in the duly-stamped 
covers. A few dice are sold at 6(/. to Is. the 
set, but they are old and battered. 

There are but two men who support themselves 
wholly by the street-sale and the hawking of the 
diflfcrent boards, &c., I liave described. There 
are two, three, or sometimes four occasional par- 
ticipanu in the trade. Of these one held a com- 
mission in Her Majesty's service, but was ruined 
by gttming, and when unable to live by any other 
means, he sells the implements with which he ha i 

been but too familiar. " He lost everything in 
Jermyn-street," a man wiio was sometimes his 
comrade in the sale of these articles said to me, 
" but he is a very gentlemanly and respectable 

The profits in this trade are very uncertain. A 
man who was engaged in it told me that one 
week he had cleared '11. , and the next, with greater 
pains-taking, did not sell a single thing. 

The other articles which are a portion of the 
second-hand miscellaneous trade of this nature are 
sold as often, or more often, at stalls tlian else- 
where. Dominoes, for instance, may be seen in 
the winter, and they are offered only in the 
winter, on perhaps 20 stalls. They are sold 
at from 4<:/. a set, and I heard of one superior set 
■which were described to me us " brass-pinned," 
being sold in a handsome box for 5s., the shop 
price having been los. The great sale of dominoes 
is at Christmas. 

Pope-Joan boards, which, I was told, were 
fifteen years ago sold readily in the streets, and 
were examined closely by the purchasers (who 
were mostly the wives of tradesmen), to see that 
the print or paint announcing the partitions for 
"intrigue," "matrimony," "friendship," "Pope," 
&c., were perfect, are now never, or rarely, seen. 
Formerly the price was Is. to Is. 9rf. In the 
present year I could hear of but one man who 
had even offered a Pope-board for sale in the 
street, and he sold it, though almost new, 
for Zd. 

" Fish," or the bone, ivory, or mother-o'-pearl 
card counters in the shape of fish, or sometimes 
in a circular form, used to be sold second-hand as 
freely as the Pope-boards, and are now as nirely to 
be seen. 

Until about 20 years ago, as well as I can fix 
upon a term from the information I received, the 
apparatus for a game known as the " Devil among 
the tailors " was a portion of the miscellaneous 
second-hand trade or hawking of the streets. In 
it a top was set spinning on a long board, and 
the result depended upon the number of men, or 
" tailors," knocked down by the " devil " (top) 
of each player, these tailors being stationed, 
numbered, and scored (when knocked down) in 
the same way as when the balls are propelled into 
tlie numbered sockets in a bagatelle-board. I nm 
moreover told that in the same second-hand calling 
were boards known as " solitaire-boards." These 
were round boards, with a certain number of 
holes, in cadh of which was a peg. One peg was 
removed at the selection of the player, and the 
game consisted in taking each remaining peg, by 
advancing another over its head into any vacant 
hole, and if at the end of the game onlv one peg 
remained in the board, the player won ; iT winning 
it could be called when the game could only bo 
played by one person, and was for "solitary" 
amusement. Chinese puzzles, sometimes on a large 
scale, were then also a part of the second-hand 
traffic of the streets. These are a scries of thin 
woods in geometrical shapes, which may be fitted 
into certain forms or patterns contained in a book, 
or on a sheet. These puzzles are sold in the streets 



still, but in smaller quantity and diminished size. 
Different games played with the teetotum were 
also a part of second-hand street-sale, but none of 
these bygone pastimes were vended to any 

From the best data I have been able to obtain 
it appears that the amount received by the street- 
sellers or street-hawkers \i\ the 8.ale of these 
second-hand articles of amusement is 10^. weekly, 
about half being profit, divided in the proportions 
I have intimated, as respects the number of street- 
sellers and the periods of sale ; or 520/. expended 

I should have stated that the principal cus- 
tomers of this branch of second-hand traders are 
found in the public-houses and at the cigar-shops, 
where the goods are carried by street-sellers, who 
hawk from place to place. 

These dealers also attend the neighbouring, and, 
frequently in the summer, the more distant races, 
where for dice and the better quality of their 
"boards," &c., they generally find a prompt 
market. The sale at the fairs consists only of the 
lowest-priced goods, and in a very scant proportion 
compared to the races. 

Of the Street-Sellehs of Second-hand 
Musical Instruments. 
Of this trade there are two branches ; the sale of 
instruments which are really second-hand, and the 
sale of those which are pretendedly so ; in other 
words, an honest and a dishonest business. As 
in street estimation the whole is a second-hand 
calling, I shall so deal with it. 

At this season of the year, when fairs are 
frequent and the river steamers with their bands 
of music run oft and regularly, and out-door music 
may be played until late, the calling of the street- 
musician is " at its best." In the winter he is 
not unfrequently starving, especially if he be what 
is called "a chance hand," and have not the 
privilege of playing in public-houses when the 
weather renders it impossible to collect a street 
audience. Such persons are often compelled to 
part with their instruments, which they offer in 
the streets or the public-houses, for the pawn- 
brokers have been so often " stuck" (taken in) 
with inferior instruments, that it is difficult to 
pledge even a really good violin. With some of 
these musical men it goes hard to part with their 
instruments, as they have their full share of the 
pride of art. Some, however, sell them recklessly } 
and at almost any price, to obtain the means of 
prolonging a drunken carouse. 

From a man who is now a dealer in second- 
hand musical instruments, and is also a musician, 
I had #le following account of his start in the 
second-hand trade, and of his feelings when he 
first had to part with his fiddle. 

" I was a gentleman's footboy," he said, "when 
I was young, but I was always very fond of music, 
and 60 was my father before me. He was a tJiilor 
in a village in Suffolk and used to play the bass- 
fiddle at church. I hardly know how or when I 
learned to play, but I seemed to grow up to it. 
There was two neighbours used to call at my 

father's and practise, and one or other was always 
showing me something, and so I learned to play 
very well. Everybody said so. Before I was 
twelve, I 've played nearly all night at a dance in 
a farm-house. I never played on anything but 
the violin. You must stick to one instrument, or 
you 're not up to the mark on any if you keep 
changing. When I got a place as footboy it was 
in a gentleman's family in the country, and I 
never was so happy as when master and mistress 
was out dining, and I could play to the servants 
in the kitchen or the servants' hall. Sometimes 
they got up a bit of a dance to my violin. If 
there was a dance at Christmas at any of the 
tenants', they often got leave for me to go and play. 
It was very little money I got given, but ioo 
much drink. At last master said, he hired me to 
be his servant and not for a parish fiddler, so I 
must drop it. I left him not long after — he got so 
cross and snappish. In my next place — no, the 
next but one — I was on board wages, in London, 
a goodish bit, as the family, were travelling, and 
I had time on my hands, and used to go and play at 
public-houses of a night, just for the amusement 
of the company at first, but I soon got to know 
other musicians and made a little money. Yes, 
indeed, 1 could have saved money easily then, 
but I didn't; I got too fond of a public-house 
life for that, and was never easy at home." 

I need not very closely pursue this man's course 
to the streets, but merely intimate it. He had 
several places, remaining in some a year or more, 
in others two, three, or six months, but always 
unsettled. On leaving his last place he married a 
fellow-servant, older than himself, who had saved 
" a goodish bit of money," and they took a beer- 
shop in Bermondsey. A "free and easy" (con- 
cert), both vocal and instrumental, was held in 
the house, the man playing regularly, and the 
business went on, not unprosperously, until the 
wife died in child-bed, the child surviving. After 
this everything went wrong, and at last the man 
was "sold up," and was penniless. For three or 
four years he lived precariously on what he could 
earn as a musician, until about six or seven years 
ago, when one bitter winter's night he was with- 
out a farthing, and had laboured all day in the vain 
endeavour to earn a meal. His son, a boy then of 
five, had been sent home to him, and an old woman 
with whom he had placed the lad was incessantly 
dunning for 125. due for the child's maintenance. 
The landlord clamoured for 15^. arrear of rent for 
a furnished room, and the hapless musician did 
not possess one thing which he could convert into 
money except his fiddle. He must leave his room 
next day. He had held no intercourse with his 
friends in the country since he heard of his father's 
death some years before, and was, indeed, resource- 
less. After dwelling on the many excellences of 
his violin, which he had purchased, " a dead bar- 
gain," for 3/. 155., he said : " Well, sir, I sat down 
by the last bit of coal in the place, and sat a long 
time thinking, and didn't know what to do. There 
was nothing to hinder nie going out in tlie morn- 
ing, and working the streets with a mate, as I 'd 
done before, but then there was little James that 



was sleeping there in his bed. He was very deli- 
cate then, and to drag him about and let him 
sleep in lodging-houses would have killed him, I 
knew. But then I couldn't think of parting with 
my violin. I felt I should never again have such 
another. I felt as if to part with it was parting with 
my last prop, for what was I to do ? I sat a long 
time thinking, with ray instrument on my knees, 
'til — I 'm sure I don't know how to describe it — 
I felt as if I was drunk, though I hadn't even 
tasted beer. So I went out boldly, just as if I 
teas drunk, and with a deal of trouble persuaded 
a landlord I knew to lend me 1^ on my instru- 
ment, and keep it by him for three months, 'til 
I could redeem it. I have it now, sir. Next 
day I satisfied my two creditors by paying each 
half, and a week's rent in advance, and I walked 
off to a shop in Soho, where I bought a dirty old 
instalment, broken in parts, for 25. Zd. I was 
great part of the day in doing it up, and in the 
evening earned Id. by playing solos by Watchorn's 
door, and the Crown and Cushion, and the Lord 
Rodney, which are all in the "Westminster-road. 
I lodged in Stangate-street. There was a young 
man — he looked like a respectable mechanic — gave 
me \d., and said : * I wonder how you can use 
your fingers at all such a freezing night. It seems 
a good fiddle.' I assure you, sir, I was surprised 
myself to find what I could do with my instru- 
ment. * There 's a beer-shop over the way,' says 
the young man, ' step in, and I '11 pay for a pint, 
and try my hand at it.' And so it was done, and 
I sold him my fiddle for 7*. 6d. No, sir, there 
was no tJike in ; it was worth the money. I 'd 
have sold it now that I've got a connection for 
half a guinea. Next day I bought such another 
instrument at the same shop for 3.T., and sold it 
after a while for 6*., having done it up, in course. 
This it was that first put it into my head to 
start selling second-hand instruments, and so I 
began. Now I 'm known as a man to be depended 
on, and with my second-hand business, and en- 
gagements every now and then as a musician, I do 

In this manner is the honest second-hand street- 
business in musical instruments carried on. It is 
unially done by hawking. A few, however, are sold 
at miscellaneous stalls, but they are generally such 
as require repair, and are often without the bow, 
&c. The persons carrying on the trade have all, 
as fiftr as I could ascertain, been musicians. 

Of the street-sale of musical instruments by 
drunken members of the " profession " I need say 
little, as it is exceptional, though it is certainly a 
branch of the trade, for so numerous is the body 
of street-musicians, and of so many classes is it 
composed, that this description of second-hand 
business is being constantly transacted, and often 
to the profit of the more wary dealers in these 
goods. The statistics I shall show at the close of 
my remarks on this subject. 

Or THB Musio " DumiRa." 
SmcoMD- Hand Guxtaks are vended by the 
street-sellers. The price varies from 7*. 6d. to 15*. 
Barjti form no portion of the second-hand business 

of the streets. A drum is occasionally, and only 
occasionally, sold to a showman, but the chief 
second-hand traffic is in violins. Accordions, both 
new and old, used to sell readily in the streets, 
either from stalls or in hawking, " but," said a 
man who had formerly sold them, " they have 
been regularly 'duffed* out of the streets, so much 
cheap rubbish is made to sell. There 's next to 
nothing done in them now. If one 's offered to a 
man that 's no judge of it, he '11 be sure you want 
to cheat him, and perhaps abuse you ; if he be a 
judge, of course it 's no go, unless with a really 
good article." 

Among the purchasers of second-hand musical 
instruments are those of the working-classes who 
wish to " practise," and the great number of street- 
musicians, street-showmen, and the indifferently 
paid members of the orchestras of minor (and not 
always of minor) theatres. Few of this class 
ever buy new instruments. There are sometimes, 
I am informed, as many as 50 persons, one-fourth 
being women, engaged in this second-hand sale. 
Sometimes, as at present, there are not above half 
the number. A broker who was engaged in the 
traffic estimated — and an intelligent street-seller 
agreed in the computation — that, take the year 
through, at least 25 individuals were regularly, but 
few of them fully, occupied with this traffic, and 
that their weekly takings averaged 30s. each, or an 
aggregate yearly amount of 190^. The weekly 
profits run from IO5. to 155., and sometimes the 
well-known dealers clear 40s. or 60s. a week, 
while others do not take 5s. Of this amount 
about two-thirds is expended on violins, and one- 
tenth of the whole, or nearly a tenth, on " duffing " 
instruments sold as second-hand, in which depart- 
ment of the business the amount " turned over" 
used to be twice, and even thrice as much. The 
sellers have nearly all been musicians in some 
capacity, the women being the wives or connections 
of the men. 

What I have called the "dishonest trade" is 
known among the street-folk as " music-duffing." 
Among the swag-shopkeepers, at one place in 
Houndsditch more especially, are dealers in 
" duffing fiddles." These are German-made in- 
struments, and are sold to the street-folk at 2s. 6rf. 
or 3s. each, bow and all. When purchased by the 
music-duffers, they are discoloured so as to be 
made to look old. A music-duffer, assuming the 
way of a roan half-drunk, will enter a public- 
house or accost any party in the street, saying : 
*' Here, I must have money, for I won't go home 
'til morning, 'til morning, 'til morning, I won't go 
home 'til morning, 'til daylight does appear. And 
so I may as well sell my old fiddle myself as take 
it to a rogue of a broker. Try it anybody, it 's a 
fine old tone, equal to any Cremonar. It cost me 
two guineas and another fiddle, and a good 'un too, 
in exchange, but I may as well be my own broker, 
for I must have money any how, and I '11 sell it 
for 10«." 

Possibly a bargain is struck for 5*. ; for the 
duffing violin is perhaps purposely damaged in 
some slight way, so as to appear easily reparable, 

Ho. xxvm. 



and any deficiency in tone may be attributed to 
that defect, which was of course occasioned by the 
drunkenness of the possessor. Or possibly the 
tone of the instrument may not be bad, but it 
may be made of such unsound materials, and in 
Buch a slop-way, though looking well to a little- 
practised eye, that it will soon fall to pieces. One 
man told me that he had often done the music- 
duffing, and had sold trash violins for IO5., 155., and 
even 20*., " according," he said, " to the thickness 
of the buyer's head," but that was ten or twelve 
years ago. 

It appears that when an impetus was given to 
the musical taste of the country by the establish- 
ment of cheap singing schools, or of music classes, 
(called at one time " singing for the million "), or 
by the prevalence of cheap concerts, where good 
music was heard, this duffing trade flourished, 
but now, I am assured, it is not more than a 
quarter of what it was. " There '11 always be some- 
thing done in it," said the informant I have before 
quoted, " as long as you can find young men 
that 's conceited about their musical talents, fond 
of taking their medicine (drinking). If I 've 
gone into a public-house room where I 've seen a 
young gent that 's bought a duffing fiddle of me, 
it don't happen once in twenty times that he com- 
plains and blows up about it, and only then, 
perhapSjif he happens to be drunkish, when people 
don't much mind what 's said, and so it does me no 
harm. People 's too proud to confess that they 're 
ever ' done ' at any time or in anything. Why, 
such gents has pretended, when I 've sold 'em a 
duffer, and seen them afterwards, that they 've 
done me ! " 

Nor is it to violins that this duffing or sham 
second-hand trade is confined. At the swag- 
shops cornopeans, French horns, and cla- 
rionets are vended to the street-folk. One of 
these cornopeans maybe bought for 145. ; a French 
horn for 10s. ; and a clarionet for 7s. Qd. ; or as a 
general rule at one-fourth of the price of a pro- 
perly-made instrument sold as reasonably as 
possible. These things are also made to look old, 
and are disposed of in the same manner as the 
duffing violins. The sale, however, is and was 
always limited, for " if there be one working 
man," I was told, " or a man of any sort not pro- 
fessional in music, that tries his wind and his 
fingers on a clarionet, there 's a dozen trying their 
touch and execution on a violin." 

Another way in which the duffing music trade 
at one time was made available as a second-hand 
business was this : — A band would play before a 
pawnbroker's door, and the duffing German brass 
instruments might be well-toned enough, the in- 
feriority consisting chiefly in the materials, but 
which were so polished up as to appear of the best. 
Some member of the band would then offer his 
brass instrument in pledge, and often obtain an 
advance of more than he had paid for it. 

One man who had been himself engaged in 
what he called this "artful" business, told me 
that when two pawnbrokers, whom he knew, 
found that they had been tricked into advancing 
15*. on cornopeans, which they could buy new in 

Houndsditch for 14s., they got him to drop the 
tickets of the pledge, which they drew out for the 
purpose, in the streets. These were picked up by 
some passer-by — and as there is a very common 
feeling that there is no harm, or indeed rather a 
merit, in cheating a pawnbroker or a tax-gatherer — 
the instruments were soon redeemed by the fortu- 
nate finder, or the person to whom he had disposed 
of his prize. Nor did the roguery end here. The 
same man told me that he had, in collusion with a 
pawbroker, dropped tickets of (sham) second-hand 
musiciil instruments, which he had bought new at 
a swag-shop for the very purpose, the amount on 
the duplicate being double the cost, and as it ia 
known that the pawnbrokers do not advance the 
value of any article, the finders were gulled into 
redeeming the pledge, as an advantageous bar- 
gain. " 13ut I 've left off all that dodging now, 
sir," said the man with a sort of a grunt, which 
seemed half a sigh and half a laugh ; ** I 've left 
it off entirely, for I found I was getting into 

The derivation of the term " duffing " I am un- 
able to discover. The Rev. Mr. Dixon says, in 
his " Dovecote and Aviary," that the term 
" Duffer" applied to pigeons, is a corruption of 
Dovehouse, — but query ? In the slang dictionaries 
a " Dvffer " is explained as ♦' a man who hawks 
things ;" hence it would be equivalent to Pedlar, 
which means strictly beggar — being from the 
Dutch Bedclaar, and the German Bettler. 

Op the Stkbet-Sellers of Second-Hand 
The sale of second-hand pistols, for to that weapon 
the street-sellers' or hawkers' trade in arras seems 
confined, is larger than might be cursorily ima- 

There must be something seductive about the 
possession of a pistol, for I am assured by persons 
familiar with the trade, that they have sold them 
to men who were ignorant, when first invited to 
purchase, how the weapon was loaded or dis- 
charged, and seemed half afraid to handle it. 
Perhaps the possession imparts a sense of security. 

The pistols which are sometimes seen on the 
street-stalls are almost always old, rusted, or bat- 
tered, and are useless to any one except to those 
who can repair and clean them for sale. 

There are three men now selling new or second- 
hand pistols, I am told, who have been gunmakers. 

This trade is carried on almost entirely by 
hawking to public-houses. I heard of no one 
who depended solely upon it, " but this is the 
way," one intelligent man stated to me, " if I am 
buying second-hand things at a broker's, or in 
Petticoat -lane, or an3'-where, and there 's a pistol 
that seems cheap, I '11 buy it as readily as any- 
thing I know, and I '11 soon sell it at a public- 
house, or I '11 get it rafHed for. Second-hand pis- 
tols sell better than new by such as me. If I was 
to offer a new one I should be told it was some 
]3rummagem slop rubbish. If there 's a little 
silver-plate let into the wood of the pistol, and a 
crest or initials engraved on it — I 've got it done 
sometimes — there's a better chance of sale, for 



people think it 's been made for somebody of con- 
sequence that wouldn't be fobbed oflF with an infe- 
rior thing. I don't think I 've often sold pistols 
to working-men, but I've known them join in 
raffles for them, and the winner has often wanted 
to sell it back to me, and has sold it to somebody. 
It 's tradesmen that buy, or gentlefolks, if you can 
get at them. A pistol 's a sort of a plaything with 

On my talking with a street-dealer concerning 
the street-trade in second-hand pistols, he pro- 
duced a handsome pistol from his pocket. I in- 
quired if it was customary for men in his way 
of life to carry pistols, and he expressed his 
conviction that it was, but only when tra- 
velling in the country, and in possession of 
money or valuable stock. " I gave only 7«. Qd. 
for this pistol," he said, " and have refused lO*. 6rf. 
for it, for I shall get a better price, as it 's an ex- 
cellent article, on some of my rounds in town, I 
bought it to take to Ascot races with me, and have 
it with me now, but it 'snot Joaded, for I 'm going 
to Moulsey Hurst, where Hampton races are 
held. You 're not safe if you travel after a great- 
muster at a race by yourself without a pistol. 
Many a poor fellow like me has been robbed, and 
the public hear nothing about it, or say it 's all 
gammon. At Ascot, sir, I trusted my money to a 
booth-keeper I knew, as a few men slept in his 
booth, and he put my bit of tin with his own 
under his head where he slept, for safe keeping. 
There's a little doing in second-hand pistols to 
such as me, but we generally sell them again." 

Of secowd-lMiid guns, or other offensive weapons, 
there is no street sale. A few " life-presei-vers," 
•ome of gutta percha, are hawked, but they fire 
generally new. Bullets and powder are not sold 
by the pistol-hawkers, but a moiUd for the casting 
of bullets is frequently sold along with the weapon. 

Of these second-hand pistol-sellers there are now, 
I am told, more than there were last year. " I 
really believe," said one man, laughing, b«it I 
beard a similar account from others, " people were 
afraid the foreigners coming to the Great Exhibi- 
tion had some mischief in their noddles, and so a 
pistol was wanted for protection. In my opinion, 
a pistol 's just one of the tilings that people don't 
think of buying, 'til it 's shown to them, and then 
they 're tempted to have it." 

The principal street-sale, independently of the 
hawking to public-houses, is in such places as Rat- 
cliffe-highway, where the mates and petty officers 
of ships are accosted and invited to buy a good 
second-band pistol. The wares thus vended are 
generally of a well-made sort. 

In this traffic, which is known as a "straggling" 
trade, pursued by men who arc at the same time 

rrsuing other street-callings, it may be estimated, 
am assured, that there are 20 men engaged, 
each taking as an average 1/. a week. In some 
weeks a man may take 51. ; in the next month he 
may sell no weapons at all. From 80 to 50 per 
cent, is the usual rate of profit, and the yearly 
street outlay on these second-hand offensive or de- 
fensive weapons is 1040/. 
One man who "did a little in pistols" told me. 

" that 25 or 30 years ago, when he was a boy, his 
father sometimes cleared 21. a week in the street- 
sale and hawking of second-hand hoxing-gloves, 
and that he himself had sometimes carried the 
'gloves' in his hand, and pistols in his pocket for 
sale, but that now boxing-gloves were in no de- 
mand whatever among street-buyers, and were ' a 
complete drug.' He used to sell them at 3*'. the 
set, which is four gloves." 

Op the Sxbeet-Sellers of Second-hand 
Several of the things known in the street-trade 
as " curiosities " can hardly be styled second-hand 
with any propriety, but they are so styled in the 
streets, and are usually vended by street-merchants 
who trade in second-hand wares. 

Curiosities are displayed, I cannot say tempt- 
ingly (except perhaps to a sanguine antiquarian), 
for there is a great dinginess in the display, on 
stalls. One man whom I met wheeling his barrow 
in High-street, Camden-town, gave me an account 
of his trade. He was dirtily rather than meanly 
clad, and had a very self-satisfied expression of 
face. The principal things on his barrow were 
coins, shells, and old buckles, with a pair of the 
very high and wooden-heeled slices, worn in the 
earlier part of the last century. 

The coins were all of copper, and certainly did 
not lack variety. Among them were tokens, but 
none very old. There was the head of " Charles 
Marquis Cornwallis " looking fierce in a cocked 
hat, while on the reverse was Fame with her 
trumpet and a wreath, and banners at her feet, 
with the superscription : " His fame resounds 
from east to west," There was a head of Welling- 
ton with the date 1811, and the legend of " Vin- 
cit amor patriaj." Also " The R. Hon. W. Pitt, 
Lord Warden Cinque Ports," looking courtly in a 
bag wig, with his hair bruslied from his brow into 
what the curiosity -seller called a " topping." This 
was announced as a " Cinque Ports token payable 
at Dover," and was dated 1794. *' Wellingtons," 
said the man, " is cheap ; that one 's only a half- 
penny, but here 's one here, sir, as you seem to 
understand coins, as I hope to get 2d. for, and will 
take no less. It's 'J. Lackington, 1794,' you 
see, and on the back there 's a Fame, and round 
her is written — and it 's a good spccinient of a coin 
— ' Halfpenny of Lackington, Allen k, Co., 
cheapest booksellers in the world.' That 's scarcer 
and more vallyballer than Wellingtons or Nelsons 
either." Of the current coin of the realm, I saw 
none older than Charles II., and but one of his 
reign, and little legible. Indeed the reverse had 
been ground quite smooth, and some one had en- 
graved upon it " Charles Dryland Tunbridg." A 
small ** e " over the " g " of Tunbridg perfected 
the orthography. This, the street-seller said, was 
a " love-token " as well as an old coin, and " them 
love-tokens was getting scarce." Of foreign and 
colonial coins there were perhaps QO. The oldest 
I saw was one of Louis XV. of France and Na- 
varre, 1774. There was one alio of the " Re- 
publiquc Francaise" when Napoleon was First 
Consul. The colon-al coins were more numerous 


than the foreign. There was the " One Penny- 
token " of Lower Canada ; the " one quarter 
anna " of the East India Company ; the " half 
stiver of the colonics of Essequibo and Dema- 
rara ; " the " halfpenny token of the province of 
Nova Scotia," &c. &c. There were also counter- 
feit halfcrowns and bank tokens worn from their 
simulated silver to rank copper. The principle 
on which this man " priced " his coins, as he 
called it, Avas simple enough. What was the 
size of a halfpenny he asked a penny for; the size 
of a penny coin was Id. " It 's a difficult trade 
19 mine, sir," he said, " to carry on properly, for 
you may be so easily taken in, if you 're not a 
judge of coins and other curiosities." 

The shells of this man's stock in trade he called 
*' conks" and "king conks." He had no "clamps" 
then, he told me, but they sold pretty well ; he 
described them as " two shells together, one fitting 
inside the other." He also had sold what he called 
" African cowries," which were as " big as a pint 
pot," and the smaller cowries, which were " money 
in India, for his father was a soldier and had been 
there and saw it." The shells are sold from Id. 
to 2g. M. 

The old buckles were such as tised to be worn 
on shoes, but the plate was all worn off, and 
" such like curiosities," the man told me, " got 
scarcer and scarcer." 

Many of the stalls which are seen in the 
streets are the property of adjacent shop or store- 
keepers, and there are not now, I am informed, 
more than six men who carry on this trade apart 
from other commerce. Their average takings are 
155. weekly each man, about two-thirds being 
profit, or 234^. in a year. Some of the stands 
are in Great Wyld-street, but they are chiefly the 
property of the second-hand furniture brokers. 

Of the Street-Sellers of Second-hand 
Telescopes and Pocket Q-lasses. 
In the sale of second-hand telescopes only one 
man is now engaged in any extensive way, except 
on mere chance occasions. Fourteen or fifteen 
years ago, I was informed, there was a consider- 
able street sale in small telescopes at I5. each. 
They were made at Birmingham, my informant 
believed, but were sold as second-hand goods in 
London. Of this trade there is now no remains. 

The principal seller of second-hand telescopes 
takes a stand on Tower Hill or by the Coal 
Exchange, and his customers, as he sells excellent 
"glasses," are mostly sea-faring men. He has sold, 
and still sells, telescopes from 11. IQs. to ^l. each, 
the purchasers generally " trying " them, with 
strict examination, from Tower Hill, or on the 
Custom-House Quay. There are, in addition to 
this street-seller, six and sometimes eight others, 
who offer telescopes to persons about the docks or 
wharfs, who may be going some voyage. These 
are as often new as second-hand, but the second- 
hand articles are preferred. This, however, is 
a Jewish trade ^which will be treated of under 
another head. 

An old opera-glass, or the smaller articles best 
known as "pocket-glasses," are occasionally 

hawked to public-houses and offered in the streets, 
but so little is done in them that I can obtain 
no statistics. A spectacle seller told me that he 
had once tried to sell two second-hand opera- 
glasses at 25. Qd. each, in the street, and then in 
the public-houses, but was laughed at by the 
people who were usually his customers. " Opera- 
glasses ! " they said, " why, what did they want 
with opera-glasses? wait until they had opera- 
boxes." He sold the glasses at last to a shop- 

Of the Street-Sellers of other Miscel- 
laneous Second-Hand Articles. 
The other second-hand articles sold in the streets 
I will give under one head, specifying the different 
characteristics of the trade, when any striking 
peculiarities exist. To give a detail of the whole 
trade, or rather of the several kinds of articles in 
the whole trade, is impossible. I shall therefore 
select only such as are sold the more extensively, 
or present any novel or curious features of second- 
hand street-commerce. 

Wnting-desksy tea-caddies, dressing-cases, and 
kni/e-boxes used to be a ready sale, I was in- 
formed, when "good second-hand;" but they are 
"got up" now so cheaply by the poor fancy cabinet- 
makers who work for the " slaughterers," or furni- 
ture warehouses, and for some of the general- 
dealing swag-shops, that the sale of anything 
second-hand is greatly diminished. In fact I was 
told that as regards second-hand writing-desks and 
dressing-cases, it might be said there was " no 
trade at all now." A few, however, are still to 
be seen at miscellaneous stalls, and are occasion- 
ally, j^ but very rarely, offered at a public-house 
" used " by artisans who may be considered 
"judges" of work. The tea-caddies are the things 
which are in best demand. " Working people buy 
them," I was informed, and "working people's 
wives. When women are the customers they look 
closely at the lock and key, as they keep 'my 
uncle's cards' there" (pawnbroker's duplicates). 

One man had lately sold second-hand tea- 
caddies at 9d., Is., and Is. Bd. each, and cleared 
25. in a day when he had stock and devoted his 
time to this sale. He could not persevere in it if 
he wished, he told me, as he might lose a day in 
looking out for the caddies ; he might go to fifty 
brokers and not find one caddy cheap enough for 
his purpose. 

Bruslies are sold second-hand in considerable 
quantities in the streets, and are usually vended 
at stalls. Shoe-brushes are in the best demand, 
and are generally sold, when in good condition, at 
I5. the set, the cost to the street-seller being ^d. 
They are bought, I was told, by the people who 
clean their own shoes, or have to clean other 
people's. Clothes' brushes are not sold to any 
extent, as the " hard brush" of the shoe set is used 
by working people for a clothes' brush. Of late, 
I am told, second-hand brushes have sold more 
freely than ever. They were hardly to be had 
just when wanted, in a sufficient quantity, for the 
demand by persons going to Epsom and Ascot 
races, who carry a brush of little value with them, 



to bruflh the dust gathered on the road from their 
coats. The coster-girls buy very hard brushes, 
indeed mere stumps, with which they brush 
radishes ; these brushes are vended at the street- 
stalls at Id. each. 

In Stuffed Birds for the embellishment of the 
walls of a room, there is still a small second-hand 
street sale, but none now in images or chimney-piece 
ornaments. " Why," said one dealer, " I can now 
buy new figures for 9rf., such as not many years 
ago cost 7^., 80 what chance of a second-hand 
Bade is there]" The stuffed birds which sell the 
best are starlings. They are all sold as second- 
hand, but are often "made up" for street-traffic; 
an old bird or two, I was told, in a new case, or a 
new bird in an old case. Last Saturday evening 
one man told me he had sold two " long cases" of 
starlings and small birds for 2s. Qd. each. There 
are no stuffed parrots or foreign birds in this sale, 
and no pheasants or other game, except sometimes 
wretched old things which are sold because they 
happen to be in a case. 

The street-trade in second-hand Lasts is confined 
principally to Petticoat and Rosemary lanes, where 
they are bought by the "garret-masters" in 
the shoemaking trade who supply the large whole- 
sale warehouses ; that is to say, by small masters 
who find their own materials and sell the boots 
and shoes by the dozen pairs. The lasts are 
bought also by mechanics, street-sellers, and other 
poor persons who cobble their own shoes. A 
shoemaker told me that he occasionally bought 
a last at a street stall, or rather from street 
hampers in Petticoat and Eosemary lanes, and it 
seemed to him that second-hand stores of street 
lasts got neither bigger nor smaller : " I suppose 
it 's this way," he reasoned ; " the garret-master 
bays lasts to do the slop-snobbing cheap, mostly 
women's lasts, and he dies or is done up and goes 
to the "great house," and his lasts find their way 
back to the streets. You notice, sir, the first time 
you 're in Kosemary-lane, how little a great many 
of the lasts have been used, and that shows what 
a terrible necessity there was to part with them. 
In some there 's hardly any peg-marks at all." 
The lasts are sold from Id. to Zd. each, or twice 
that amount in pairs, "rights and lefts," accord- 
ing to the size and the condition. There are about 
20 street last-sellers in the second-hand trade of 
London — "at least 20," one man said, after he 
seemed to have been making a mental calculation 
on Um rabjsct. 

Seooiidrhand hameu is sold largely, and when 
good is sold very readily. There is, I am told, 
far less slop-work in harness-making than in shoe- 
making or in the other trades, such as tailoring, 
and "many a lady's pony harness," it was said to 
me by a second-hand dealer, "goes next to a 
tradesman, and next to a costermonger's donkey, 
•nd if it's been good leather to begin with — as 
it will if it was made for a lady — why the traces 
11 stand clouting, and patching, and piecing, and 
mending for a long time, and they 'II do to cobble 
oUL boots Ust of all, for old leather '11 wear just 
in treading, when it might snap at a puIL (iive 
me a good quality to begin with, sir, and it 's 

serviceable to the end." In my inquiries among 
the costerraongers I ascertained that if one of that 
body started his donkey, or rose from that to his 
pony, he never bought new harness, unless 
it were a new collar if he had a regard for the 
comfort of his beast, but bought old harness, and 
" did it up " himself, often using iron rivets, 
or clenched nails, to reunite the broken parts, 
where, of course, a harness-maker would apply a 
patch. Nor is it the costermongers alone who 
buy all their harness second-hand. The sweep, 
whose stock of soot is large enough to require the 
help of an ass and a cart in its transport ; the 
collector of bones and offal from the butchers* 
slaughter-houses or shops ; and the many who 
may be considered as co-traders with the coster- 
monger class — the greengrocer, the street coal- 
seller by retail, the salt-sellers, the gravel and 
sand dealer (a few have small carts) — all, indeed, 
of that class of traders, buy their harness second- 
hand, and generally in the streets. The chief sale 
of second-hand harness is on the Friday afternoons, 
in Smithfield. The more especial street-sale is in 
Petticoat and Eosemary lanes, and in the many 
off-streets and alleys which may be called the tri- 
butaries to those great second-hand marts. There 
is no sale of these wares in the Saturday night 
markets, for in the crush and bustle generally 
prevailing there at such times, no room could 
be found for things requiring so much space as 
sets of second-hand harness, and no time suffi- 
ciently to examine them. " There 's so much to 
look at, you understand, sir," said one second- 
hand street-trader, who did a little in harness 
as well as in barrows, " if you wants a decent 
set, and don't grudge a shilling or two — and 
I never grudges them myself when I has em — so 
that it takes a little time. You must see that the 
buckles has good tongues— and it 's a sort of joke 

in the trade that a bad tongue 's a d d bad 

thing — and that the pannel of the pad ain't as 
hard as a board (flocks is the best stuffing, sir), 
and that the bit, if it 's rusty, can be polished up, 
for a animal no more likes a rusty bit in his 
mouth than we likes a musty bit of bread in 
our'n. 0, a man as treats his ass as a ass 
ought to be treated — and it 's just the same if he 
has a pony — can't be too perticler. If I had my 
way I 'd 'act a law making people perticler about 
'osses' and asses* shoes. If your boot pinches you, 
sir, you can sing out to your bootmaker, but a ass 
can't blow up a jEarrier." It seems to me that in 
these homely remarks of my informant, there is, 
so to speak, a sound practical kindliness. There 
can be little doubt that a fellow who maltreats his 
ass or his dog, maltreats his wife and children 
when he dares. 

Clocks are sold second-hand, but only by three 
or four foreigners, Dutchmen or Germans, who 
hawk them and sell them at 2s. 6d. or 3s. 
each, Dutch clocks only been disposed of io this 
way. These traders, therefore, come under the 
head of SxBKET-FoaKioNKas. " Ay," one street- 
seller remarked to me, " it 's only Dutch now as 
is second-banded in the streets, but it '11 soon bo 
Americans. The swags is some of them hung up 



with Slick's;" [so he called the American clocks, 
meaning the " Sam Slicks" in reference to Mr. 
Justice Hallyburton's work of that title ;] "they're 
hung up with 'em, sir, and no relation whatsomever 
(pawnbroker) '11 give a printed character of 'cm 
(a duplicate), and so they must come to the streets, 
and jolly cheap they'll be.'' The foreigners who 
sell the second-hand Dutch clocks sell also new 
clocks of the same manufacture, and often on 
tally, Is. a week being the usual payment. 

CaHoxiche-hoxes are sold at the miscellaneous 
stalls, but only after there has been what I heard 
called a " Tower sale " (sale of military stores). 
"When bought of the street-sellers, the use of these 
boxes is far more peaceful than that for which 
they were manufactured. Instead of the recep- 
tacles of cartridges, the divisions are converted 
into nail boxes, each with its different assortment, 
or contain the smaller kinds of tools, such as awl- 
blades. These boxes are sold in the streets at 
^d. or 1(^, each, and are bought by jobbing shoe- 
makers more than by any other class. 

Of the other second-hand commodities of the 
streets, I may observe that in Trinkets the trade 
is altogether Jewish ; in Majis, with frames, it is 
now a nonentity, and so it is with Fishing-rods, 
Cricket-bats, <Lc. 

In Umbrellas and Parasols the second-hand 
traffic is large, but those vended in the streets are 
nearly all " done up " for street-sale by the class 
known as " Mush," or more properly " Mushroom 
Fakers," that is to say, the makers or fakers 
{facerc — the slang fakement being simply a cor- 
ruption of the h&lhi facimentiim) of those articles 
■which are similar in shape to mushrooms. I shall 
treat of this class and the goods they sell under 
the head of Street- Artisans. The collectors of Old 
Umbrellas and Parasols are the same persons as 
collect the second-hand habiliments of male and 
female attire. 

The men and women engaged in the street- 
commerce carried on in second-hand articles are, 
in all respects, a more mixed class than the gene- 
rality of street-sellers. Some hawk in the streets 
goods which they also display in their shops, or 
in the windowless apartments known as their 
shops. Some are not in possession of shops, but 
often buy their wares of those who are. Some 
collect or purchase the articles they vend; others 
collect them by barter. The itinerant crock-man, 
the root-seller, the glazed table-cover seller, the 
hawker of spars and worked stone, and even the 
costermonger of tlie morning, is the dealer in 
second-hand articles of the afternoon and evening. 
The costermonger is, moreover, often the buyer 
and seller of second-hand harness in Smithfield. 
I may point out again, also, what a multifariousness 
of wares passes in the course of a month through 
the hands of a general street-seller ; at one time 
new goods, at another second-hand ; sometimes 
he is stiitionary at a pitch vending " lots," or 
" swag toys ;" at others itinerant, selling braces, 
belts, and hose. 

I found no miscellaneous dealer who could tell 
me of the proportionate receipts from the various 

articles he dealt in even for the last month. He 
" did well " in this, and badly in the other trade, 
but beyond such vague statements there is no pre- 
cise information to be had. It should be recol- 
lected that the street-sellers do not keep accounts, 
or those documents would supply references. " It 'g 
all headwork with us," a street-seller said, some- 
what boastingly, to me, as if the ignorance of 
book-keeping was rather commendable. 

Op Second-hand Store Shops. 
Perhaps it may add to the completeness of the 
information here given concerning the trading in 
old refuse articles, and especially those of a mis- 
cellaneous character, the manner in which, and 
the parties by whom the business is carried on, 
if I conclude this branch of the subject by an 
account of the shops of the second-hand dealers. 
The distance between the class of these shop- 
keepers and of the stall and barrow-keepers 
I have described is not great. It may be said 
to be merely from the street to within doors. 
Marine-store dealers have often in their start in 
life been street-sellers, not unfrequently coster- 
mongers, and street sellers they again become if 
their ventures be unsuccessful. Some of them, 
however, make a good deal of money in what 
may be best understood as a " hugger-mugger 

On this subject I cannot do better than quote 
Mr. Dickens, one of the most minute and truthful 
of observers : — 

" The reader must often have perceived in some 
by-street, in a poor neighbourhood, a small dirty 
shop, exposing for sale the most extraordinary and 
confused jumble of old, worn-out, wretched arti- 
cles, that can well be imagined. Our wonder at 
their ever having been bought, is only to be 
equalled by our astonishment at the idea of their 
ever being sold again. On a board, at the side of 
the door, are placed about twenty books — all odd 
volumes ; and as many wine-glasses — all different 
patterns ; several locks, an old earthenware pan, 
full of rusty keys ; two or three gaudy chimney 
ornaments — cracked, of course; the remains of a 
lustre, without any drops ; a round frame like a 
capital 0, which has once held a mirror ; a flute, 
complete with the exception of the middle joint ; 
a pair of curling-irons ; and a tinder-box. In 
front of the shop-window, are ranged some half- 
dozen high-backed chairs, with spinal complaints 
and wasted legs ; a corner cupboard ; two or 
three very dark mahogany tables with flaps like 
mathematical problems ; some pickle-bottles, some 
surgeons' ditto, with gilt labels and without 
stoppers ; an unframed portrait of some lady who 
flourished about the beginning of the thirteenth 
century, by an artist who never flourished at all ; 
an incalculable host of miscellanies of every de- 
scription, including armour and cabinets, rags and 
bones, fenders and street-door knockers, fire-iron8> 
wearing-apparel and bedding, a hall-lamp, and a 
room-door. Imagine, in addition to this incon- 
gruous mass, a black doll in a white frock, with 
two faces — one looking up the street, and the 
other looking down, swinging over the door; a 



board with the squeezed-up inscription ' Dealer in 
marine stores,' in lanky white letters, whose 
height is strangely out of proportion to their 
width ; and you have before you precisely the 
kind of shop to which we wish to direct your 

" Although the same heterogeneous mixture of 
things will be found at all these places, it is 
curious to observe how truly and accurately some 
of the minor articles which are exposed for sale — 
articles of wearing-app;irel, for instance — mark the 
character of the neighbourhood. Take Drury- 
lane and Covent-garden for example. 

" This is essentially a theatrical neighbourhood. 
There is not a potboy in the vicinity who is not, 
to a greater or less extent, a dramatic character. 
The errand-boys and chandlers'-shop-keepers* sons, 
are all stage-struck : they * get up' plays in back 
kitchens hired for the purpose, and will stand 
before a shop-window for hours, contemplating a 
great stiiring portrait of 'Hx. somebody or other, 
of the Eoyal Coburg Theatre, *as he appeared in 
the character of Tongo tlie Denounced.' The 
consequence is, that there is not a marine-store 
shop in the neighbourhood, which does not exhibit 
for sale some faded articles of dramatic finery, 
such as three or four pairs of soiled buff boots 
with turn-over red tops, heretofore worn by a 
* fourth robber,' or ' fifth mob ; ' a pair of rusty 
broad-swords, a few gauntlets, and certain re- 
splendent ornaments, which, if they were yellow 
instead of white, might be taken for insurance 
plates of the Sun Fire-office. There are several 
of these shops in the narrow streets and dirty 
courts, of which there are so many near the 
national theatres, and they all have tempting 
goods of this description, with the addition, per- 
haps, of a lady's pink dress covered with span- 
gles; white wreaths, stage shoes, and a tiara like 
a tin lamp reflector. They have been purchased of 
some wretched supernumeraries, or sixth-rate 
actors, and are now offered for the benefit of the 
rising generation, who, on condition of making 
certain weekly payments, amounting in the whole 
to about ten times their value, may avail them- 
selves of such desirable bargains. 

" Let UB take a very different quarter, and 
apply it to the same test Look at a marine-store 
dealer's, in that reservoir of dirt, drunkenness, 
and drabs : tliieves, oysters, baked potatoes, and 
pickled salmon — Katclilf- high way. Here, the 
wearing-apparel is all nautical. Rough blue 
jackets, with mother-of-pearl buttons, oil-skin hats, 
coarse checked shirts, and large canvass trousers 
that look as if they were made tor a pair of bodies 
instead of a pair of kgs, are the staple commo- 
ditie*. Then, there are large bunches of cotton 
pocke^bandkercbiefs, in colour and pattern unlike 
any one ever saw before, with the exception of 
those on the Jwcks of the three young ladies with- 
out bonneU who passed just now. The furniture 
is much the same a« elsewhere, with the addition 
of one or two models of ships, and some old 
prints of naval engagements in still older frames. 
In the window are a few compasses, a small tray 
contamiog nlrer watches in clumsy thick cases; 

and tobacco-boxes, the lid of each ornamented 
with a ship, or an anchor, or some such trophy. 
A sailor generally pawns or sells all he has before 
he has been long ashore, and if he does not, some 
favoured companion kindly saves him the trouble. 
In cither case, it is an even chance that he after- 
wards unconsciously repurchases the same things 
at a higher price than he gave for them at first. 

" Agiiin : pay a visit, with a similar object, to a 
part of London, as xmlike both of these as they 
are to each other. Cross over to the Siirry side, 
and look at such shops of this description as are 
to be found near the King's Bench prison, and in 
' the Kules.' How different, and how strikingly 
illustrative of the decay of some of the unfortunate 
residents in this part of the metropolis ! Impri- 
sonment and neglect have done their work. There 
is contamination in the profligate denizens of a 
debtors' prison ; old friends have fallen off; the 
recollection of former prosperity has passed away; 
and with it all thoughts for the past, all care for 
the future. First, watches and rings, then cloaks, 
coats, and all the more expensive articles of dress, 
have found tlieir way to the pawnbroker's. That 
miserable resource has failed at last, and the sale 
of some trifling article at one of these shops, has 
been the only mode left of raising a shilling or 
two, to meet the urgent demands of the moment. 
Dressing-cases and writing-desks, too old to pawn 
but too good to keep ; guns, fishing-rods, musical 
instruments, all in the same condition; liave first 
been sold, and the sacrifice has been but slightly 
felt. ]3ut hunger must be allayed, and what has 
already become a habit, is easily resorted to, 
when an emergency arises. Light articles of 
clothing, first of the ruined man, then of his wife, 
at last of their children, even of the youngest, 
have been parted with, piecemeal. There they 
are, thrown carelessly together until a purchaser 
presents himself, old, and patched and repaired, 
it is true ; but the make and materials tell of 
better days : and the older they are, the greater 
the misery and destitution of those whom they 
once adorned." 

Of tub Strest-sellebs of Second-hand 
Thr multifariousness of the articles of this trade 
is limited only by what the uncertainty of the 
climate, the caprices of fashion, or the established 
styles of apparel in the kingdom, have caused to 
bo worn, flung aside, and re worn as a revival of 
an obsolete style. It is to be remarked, however, 
that of the old-fashioned styles none that are 
costly have been revived. Laced coats, and em- 
broidered and lappeted waistcoats, have long dis- 
appeared from second-hand traffic — the last stage 
of fashions — and indeed from all places but court 
or fiincy balls and the theatre. 

The great mart for second-hand apparel was, 
in the last century, in Monmotith-street ; now, 
by one of those arbitrary, and iilmost always 
inappropriate, changes in the nomcnchtture of 
streeU, termed Dudley-street, Seven Dials. " Mon> 
mouth-street finery" was a common term to ex- 
press tawdrincss and pretence. Now Monmouth- 

C 8 



street, for its new name is hardly legitimated, 
has no finery. Its second-hand wares are almost 
wholly confined to old boots and shoes, which are 
vamped up with a good deal of trickery ; so much so 
that a shoemaker, himself in the poorer practice 
of the " gentle craft," told me that blacking and 
brown paper were the materials of Monmouth- 
street cobbling. Almost every master in Mon- 
mouth-street now is, I am told, an Irishman ; and 
the great majority of the workmen are Irishmen 
also. There were a few Jews and a few cock- 
neys in this well-known street a year or two 
back, but now this branch of the second-hand 
trade is really in the hands of what may be 
called a clan. A little business is carried on in 
second-hand apparel, as well as boots and shoes, 
but it is insignificant. 

The head-quarters of this second-hand trade 
are now in Petticoat and Eosemary lanes, espe- 
cially in Petticoat-lane, and the traffic there 
carried on may be called enormous. As in other 
departments of commerce, both in our own capital, 
in many of our older cities, and in the cities of 
the Continent, the locality appropriated to this 
traffic is one of narrow streets, dark alleys, and 
most oppressive crowding. The traders seem to 
judge of a Kag-fair garment, whether a cotton 
frock or a ducal coachman's great-coat, by the 
touch, more reliably than by the sight ; they in- 
spect, so to speak, with their fingers more than 
their eyes. But the business in Petticoat and 
Rosemary lanes is mostly of a retail character. 
The wholesale mart — for the trade in old clothes 
has both a wholesale and retail form — is in a place 
of especial curiosity, and one of which, as being 
little known, I shall first speak. 

Of the Old Clothes Exchange. 
The trade in second-hand apparel is one of the 
most ancient of callings, and is known in almost 
every country, but anything like the Old Clothes 
Exchange of the Jewish quarter of London, in 
the extent and order of its business, is unequalled 
in the world. There is indeed no other such 
place, and it is rather remarkable that a business 
occupying so many persons, and requiring such 
facilities for examination and arrangement, should 
not until the year 1843 have had its regulated 
proceedings. The Old Clothes Exchange is the 
latest of the central marts, established in the me- 

Smithfield, or the Cattle Exchange, is the 
oldest of all the markets ; it is mentioned as a 
place for the sale of horses in the time of Henry 
II. Billingsgate, or the Fish Exchange, is of 
ancient, but uncertain era. Covent Garden — the 
largest Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Exchange — 
first became established as the centre of such com- 
merce in the reign of Charles II. ; the establish- 
ment of the Borough and Spitalfields markets, as 
other marts for the sale of fruits, vegetables, and 
flowers, being nearly as ancient. The Royal 
Exchange dates from the days of Queen Elizabeth, 
and the Bank of England and the Stock-Exchange 
from those of William III., while the present pre- 
mises for the Corn and Coal Exchanges are modern. 

Were it possible to obtain the statistics of the 
last quarter of a century, it would, perhaps, be 
found that in none of the important interests 
I have mentioned has there been a greater in- 
crease of business than in the trade in old clothes. 
Whether this purports a high degree of national 
prosperity or not, it is not my business at present 
to inquire, and be it as it may, it is certain that, 
until the last few years, the trade in old clothes 
used to be carried on entirely in the open air, and 
this in the localities which I have pointed out in 
my account of the trade in old metal (p. 10, vol. ii.) 
as comprising the Petticoat-lane district. The old 
clothes trade was also pursued in Rosemary-lane, 
but then — and so indeed it is now — this was but a 
branch of the more ^centralized commerce of Petti- 
coat-lane. The head-quarters of the traffic at 
that time were confined to a space not more than 
ten square yards, adjoining Cutler-street. The 
chief traffic elsewhere was originally in Cutler- 
street, White-street, Carter-street, and in Harrow- 
alley — the districts of the celebrated Rag-fair. 

The confusion and clamour before the institu- 
tion of the present arrangements Avere extreme. 
Great as was the extent of the business transacted, 
people wondered how it could be accomplished, for 
it always appeared to a stranger, that there could 
be no order whatever in all the disorder. The 
wrangling was incessant, nor were the trade- 
contests always confined to wrangling alone. The 
passions of the Irish often drove them to resort to 
cufis, kicks, and blows, which the Jews, although 
with a better command over their tempers, were 
not slack in returning. The East India Company, 
some of whose warehouses adjoined the market, 
frequently complained to the city authorities of 
the nuisance. Complaints from other quarters 
were also frequent, and sometimes as many as 
200 constables were necessary to restore or enforce 
order. The nuisance, however, like many a 
public nuisance, was left to remedy itself, or 
rather it was left to be remedied by individual 
enterprise. Mr. L. Isaac, the present proprietor, 
purchased the houses which then filled up the back 
of Phil's-buildings, and formed the present Old 
Clothes Exchange. This was eight years ago ; 
now there are no more policemen in the locality 
than in other equally populous parts. 

Of Old Clothes Exchanges there are now 
two, both adjacent, the one first opened by Mr. 
Isaac being the most important. This is 100 
feet by 70, and is the mart to which the collectors 
of the cast-off apparel of the metropolis bring their 
goods for sale. The goods are sold wholesale and 
retail, for an old clothes merchant will buy either 
a single hat, or an entire wardrobe, or a sackful 
of shoes, — I need not say pairs, for odd shoes 
are not rejected. In one department of " Isaac's 
Exchange," however, the goods are not sold to 
parties who buy for their own wearing, but to the 
old clothes merchant, who buys to sell again. In 
this portion of the mart are 90 stalls, averaging 
about six square feet each. 

In another department, which communicates 
with the first, and is two-thirds of the size, are 
assembled such traders as buy the old garments to 



dispose of them, either after a process of cleaning, 
or when they have been repaired and renovated. 
These buyers are generally shopkeepers, residing 
in the old clothes districts of Marylebone-lane, 
Holywell-street, Monmouth-street, Union-street 
(Borough), Saffron-hill (Field-lane), Drury-lane, 
Shoreditch, the Waterloo-road, and other places 
of which I shall have to speak hereafter. 

The difference between the first and second 
class of buyers above mentioned, is really that of 
the merchant and the retail shopkeeper. The one 
buys literally anything presented to him which is 
vendible, and in any quantity, for the supply of 
the wholesale dealers from distant parts, or for 
exportation, or for the general trade of London. 
The other purchases what suits his individual 
trade, and is likely to suit regular or promiscuous 

In another part of the same market is carried 
on the retail old clothes trade to any one — shop- 
keeper, artisan, clerk, eostermonger, or gentlemen. 
This indeed, is partially the case in the other 
parts. " Yesh, inteet," said a Hebrew trader, 
whom I conversed with on the subject, " I shall 
be clad to shell you one coat, sir. Dish von is 
shust your shize; it is verra sheep, and vosh 
made by one tip-top shnip." Indeed, the keenness 
and anxiety to trade — whenever trade seems 
possible — causes many of the frequenters of these 
marts to infringe the arrangements as to the 
manner of the traffic, though the proprietors 
endeavour to cause the regulations to be strictly 
adhered to. 

The second Exchange, which is a few yards 
apart from the other is known as Simmons and 
Levy's Clothes Exchange, and is unemployed, for 
it« more especial business purposes, except in 
the mornings. The commerce is then wholesale, 
for here are sold collections of unredeemed pledges 
in wearing apparel, consigned there by the pawn- 
brokers, or the buyers at the auctions of unre- 
deemed goods; as well as draughts from the 
stocks of the wardrobe dealers; a quantity of 
military or naval stores, and^ such like articles. 
In the afternoon the stalls are occupied by retail 
dealers. The ground is about as large as the first- 
mentioned exchange, but is longer and narrower. 

In neither of these places is there even an 
attempt at architectural elegance, or even neat- 
ness. The stalls and partitions are of unpainted 
wood, the walls are bare, the only care that 
seems to be manifested is that the places should 
be dry. In the first instance the plainness was 
no doubt a necessity from motives of prudence, as 
the establishments were merely speculations, and 
now everything but bminet* seems to be disre- 
garded. The Old Clothes Exchanges have as- 
suredly one recommendation as they are now 
seen — their appropriateness. They have a tbread- 
bwe, patched, and second-hand look. The dresses 
worn by the dealers, and the dresses they deal 
io, an all in accordance with the genius of the 
plao*. But the eagemeM, crowding, and energy, 
are tbe grand features of the scene ; and of ^1 
the nuuiy curious sights in London there is none 
so pictureeque (from the various costumes of the 

buyers and sellers), none so novel, and none so 
animated as that of the Old Clothes Exchange. 

Business is carried on in the wholesale depart- 
ment of the Old Clothes Exchanges every day 
during the week; and in the retail on each day 
except the Hebrew Sabbath (Saturday). The 
Jews in the old clothes trade observe strictly the 
command that on their Sabbath day they shall do 
no manner of work, for on a visit I paid to the 
Exchange last Saturday, not a single Jew could I 
see engaged in any business. But though the 
Hebrew Sabbath is observed by the Jews and 
disregarded by the Christians, the Christian 
Sabbath, on the other hand, is disregarded by Jew 
and Christian alike, some few of the Irish ex- 
cepted, who may occasionally go to early mass, 
and attend at the Exchange afterwards. Sunday, 
therefore, in " Kag-fair," is like the other days of 
the week (Saturday excepted) ; business closes on 
the Sunday, however, at 2 instead of 6. 

On the Saturday the keen Jew- traders in the 
neighbourhood of the Exchanges may be seen 
standing at their doors — after the synagogue hours 
— or looking out of their windows, dressed in their 
best. The dress of the men is for the most part 
not distinguishable from that of the English on 
the Sunday, except that there may be a greater 
glitter of rings and watch-guards. The dress of 
the women is of every kind; becoming, handsome, 
rich, tawdry, but seldom neat. 

Op the Wholesale Business at the Old 
Clothes Exchanqb. 
A considerable quantity of the old clothes dis- 
posed of at the Exchange are bought by mer- 
chants from Ireland. They are then packed in 
bales by porters, regularly employed for the 
purpose, and who literally build them up square 
and compact. These bales are each worth from 
50/. to 300/., though seldom 300/., and it is 
curious to reflect from how many classes 
the pile of old garments has been collected 
— how many privations have been endured 
before some of these habiliments found their 
way into the possession of tho old clothes- 
man — what besotted debauchery put others in 
his possession — with what cool calculation others 
v/ere disposed of — how many were procured for 
money, and how many by the tempting offers of 
flowers, glass, crockery, spars, table-covers, lace, 
or millinery — what was the clothing which could 
first be spared when rent was to be defrayed or 
bread to,be bought, and what was treasured until the 
last — in what scenes of gaiety or gravity, in the 
opera-house or the senate, had the perhaps departed 
wearers of some of that heap of old clothes 
figured — through how many possessors, and again 
through what new scenes of middle-class or 
artizan comfort had these dresses passed, or through 
what accidents of " genteel " privation and desti- 
tution — and lastly through what necessities of 
squalid wretchedness and low debauchery. 

Every kind of old attire, from tho hiahest to 
the very lowest, I was emphatically told, wa« 
sent to Ireknd. 

Some of the balet are composed of garments 



originally made for the labouring classes. These 
are made up of every description of colour and 
material — cloth, corduroy, woollen cords, fustian, 
moleskin, flannel, velveteen, plaids, and the several 
varieties of those substances. In them are to be 
seen coats, greatcoats, jackets, trousers, and 
breeches, but no other habiliments, such as boots, 
shirts, or stockings. I was told by a gentleman, 
who between 40 and 50 years ago Avas familiar 
with the liberty and poorer parts of Dublin, that 
the most coveted and the most saleable of all 
second-hand apparel was that of leather breeches, 
worn commonly in some of the country parts 
of England half a century back, and sent 
in considerable quantities at that time from 
Loudon to Ireland. These nether habiliments 
were coveted because, as the Dublin sellers would 
say, they *' would Avear for ever, and look illigant 
after that," Buckskin breeches are now never 
worn except by grooms in their liveries, and 
gentlemen when hunting, so that the trade in 
them in the Old Clothes Exchange, and their ex- 
portation to Ireland, are at an end. The next most 
saleable thing — I may mention, incidentally — 
vended cheap and second-hand in Dublin, to the 
poor Irishmen of the period I speak of, was a 
wig ! And happy was the man who could wear 
two, one over the other. 

« Some of the Irish buyers who are regular fre- 
quenters of the London Old Clothes Exchange, 
take a small apartment, often a garret or a cellar, 
in Petticoat-lane or its vicinity, and to this room 
they convey their purchases until a sufficient stock 
has been collected. Among these old clothes the 
Irish possessors cook, or at any rate eat, their 
meals, and upon them they sleep. I did not hear 
that such dealers were more than ordinarily un- 
healthy ; though it may, perhaps, be assumed that 
such habits are fatal to health. What may be the 
average duration of life among old clothes sellers 
who live in the midst of their wares, I do not 
know, and believe that no facts have been col- 
lected on the subject; but I certainly saw among 
them some very old men. 

Other wholesale buyers from Ireland occupy 
decent lodgings in the neighbourhood — decent 
considering the locality. In Phil's-buildings, a 
kind of wide alley which forms one of the ap- 
proaches to the Exchange, are eight respectable 
apartments, almost always let to the Irish old 
clothes merchants. 

Tradesmen of the same class come also from 
the large towns of England and Scotland to buy 
for their customers some of the left-ofF clothes of 

Nor is this the extent of the wholesale trade. 
Bales of old clothes are exported to Belgium and 
Holland, but principally to Holland. Of the 
quantity of goods thus exported to the Continent 
not above one-half, perhaps, can be called old 
clothes, while among these the old livery suits are in 
the best demand. The other goods of this foreign 
trade are old serges, duffles, carpeting, drugget, 
and heavy woollen goods generally, of all the 
descriptions which I have before enumerated as 
parcel of the second-hand trade of the streets. 

Old merino curtains, and any second-hand decora- 
tions of fringes, woollen lace, &c., are in demand 
for Holland. 

Twelve bales, averaging somewhere about 100^. 
each in value, but not fully 100^., are sent direct 
every week of the year from the Old Clothes 
Exchange to distant places, and this is not the 
whole of the traffic, apart from what is done retail. 
I am informed on the best authority, that the 
average trade may be stated at 1500/. a week 
all the year round. When I come to the 
conclusion of the subject, however, I shall be 
able to present statistics of the amount turned 
over in the respective branches of the old 
clothes trade, as well as of the number of the 
traffickers, only one-fourth of whom are now 

The conversation which goes on in the Old 
Clothes Exchange during business hours, apart 
from the " larking " of the young sweet-stuff and 
orange or cake-sellers, is all concerning business, 
but there is, even while business is being trans- 
acted, a frequent interchange of jokes, and even of 
practical jokes. The business talk— I was told 
by an old clothes collector, and I heard similar 
remarks — is often to the following effect : — 

" How much is this here ] " says the man who 
comes to buy. " One pound live," replies the 
Jew seller. " I won't give you above half the 
money." " Half de money," cries the salesman, 
" I can't take dat. Vat above the 16s. dat you 
offer now vill you give for it ? Vill j'ou give me 
eighteen? Veil, come, give ush your money, I 've 
got ma rent to pay," But the man says, " I only 
bid you 12s. Qd., and I shan't give no more," 
And then, if the seller finds he can get him to 
" spring" or advance no further, he says, " I shup- 
posh I musht take your money even if I loosh by 
it. You 'II be a better cushtomer anoder time." 
[This is still a common " deal," I am assured by 
one who began the business at 13 years old, and 
is now upwards of 60 years of age. The Pet- 
ticoat-laner will always ask at least twice as 
much as he means to take] 

For a more detailed account of the mode of 
business as conducted at the Old Clothes Ex- 
change I refer the reader to p. 368, vol, i. Sub- 
sequent visits have shown me nothing to alter in 
that description, although written (in one of my 
letters in the Morning Chronicle), nearly two 
years ago. I have merely to add that I have 
there mentioned the receipt of a halfpenny toll ; 
but this, I find, is not levied on Saturdays and 

I ought not to omit stating that pilfering one 
from another by the poor persons who have col- 
lected the second-hand garments, and have carried 
them to the Old Clothes Exchange to dispose of, 
is of very rare occurrence. This is the more com- 
mendable, for many of tlie wares could not be 
identified by their OAvner, as he had procured 
them only that morning. If, as happens often 
enough, a man carried a dozen pairs of old 
shoes to the Exchange, and one pair were stolen, he 
might have some difficulty in swearing to the 



identity of the pair purloined. It is true that 
the Jews, and crock-men, and others, who collect, 
by sale or barter, masses of old clothes, note all 
their defects very minutely, and might have no 
moral doubt as to identity, nevertheless the 
magistrate would probably conclude that the legal 
evidence — were it only circumstantial — was insuf- 
cient. The young thieves, however, who flock 
from the low lodging-houses in the neighbour- 
hood, are an especial trouble in Petticoat-lane, 
where the people robbed are generally too busy, 
and the article stolen of too little value, to induce 
a prosecution — a knowledge which the juvenile 
pilferer is not slow in acquiring. Sometimes when 
these boys are caught pUfering, they are severely 
beaten, especially by the women, who are aided 
by the men, if the thief offers any formidable re- 
Bistance, or struggles to return the blows. 

Of the Uses op Second-hakb Garments. 
I HAVE now to describe the. uses to which the 
several kinds of garments which constitute the 
commerce of the Old Clothes Exchange are de- 
voted, whether it be merely in the re-sale of the 
apparel, to be worn in its original form or in a 
repaired or renovated form; or whether it be 
"worked up" into other habiliments, or be useful 
for the making of other descriptions of woollen 
hhricB ; or else whether it be fit merely for its last 
stages — the rag-bag for the paper-maker, or the 
manure heap for the hop-grower. 

Each 'Meft-off" garment has its peculiar after 
VMS, according to its material and condition. The 
practised eye of the old clothes man at once era- 
braces every capability of the apparel, and the 
amount which these capabilities will realize ; whe- 
ther they be woollen, linen, cotton, leathern, or 
silken goods ; or whether they be articles which 
cannot be classed under any of those designations, 
such as macintoshes and furs. 

A surtout coat is the most serviceable of any 
second-hand clothing, originally good. It can 
be rebuffed, re-collared, or the skirts re-lined with 
new or old silk, or with a substitute for silk. 
It can be "restored" if the seams be white and 
the general appearance what is best understood 
by the expressive word "seedy." This restora- 
tion is a sort of re-dyeing, or rather re-colouring, 
by the application of gall and logwood with a 
•mall portion of copperas. If the under sleeve be 
worn, as it often is by those whose avocations are 
sedentary, it is renewed, and frequently with a 
second-hand piece of cloth " to match," so that 
there is no perceptible difference between the 
renewal and the other parts. Many an honest 
artisan in this way beeomei possMsed of his 
Sunday frock-coat, as does many a smarter clerk 
or tkvfnmn, impressed with a regard to his per- 
sonal appearance. 

In Uie last century, I may here obeenre, and 
perhaps in the early part of the present, when 
woollen cloth was much dearer, mnch more sub- 
■tantkl, and therefore much more durable, it was 
eoBMoa for eeonomists to hare a good coat " turned." 
It WM taken to pieces by the tailor and re-made. 

the inner part becoming the outer. This mode 
prevailed alike in France and England ; for Mo- 
lidre makes his miser, Uarpagon, magnanimously 
resolve to incur the cost of his many-years'-old 
coat being " turned," for the celebration of his 
expected marriage with a young and wealthy 
bride. This way of dealing with a second-hand 
garment is not so general now as it was fermerly 
iu London, nor is it in the country. 

If the surtout be incapable of restoration to 
the appearance of a " respectable " garment, the 
skirts are sold for the making of cloth caps; 
or for the material of boys' or " youths' " waist- 
coats ; or for " poor country curates' gaiters ; but 
not so much now as they once were. The poor 
journeymen parsons," I was told, " now goes 
for the new slops; they're often green, and is 
had by 'vertisements, and bills, and them books 
about fashions which is all over both coun- 
try and town. Do you know, sir, why them 
there books is always made so small 1 The leaves 
is about four inches square. That 's to prevent 
their being any use as waste paper. I '11 back a 
coat such as is sometimes sold by a gentleman's 
servant to wear out two new slops." 

Cloaks are things of as ready sale as any kind 
of old garments. If good, or even reparable, they 
are in demand both for the home and foreign 
trades, as cloaks; if too far gone, which is but 
rarely the case, they are especially available for 
the same purposes as the surtout. The same may 
be said of the great-coat. 

JJrets-coats are far less useful, as if cleaned up 
and repaired they are not in demand among the 
working classes, and the clerks and shopmen on 
small salaries are often tempted by the price, I 
was told, to buy some wretched new slop thing 
rather than a superior coat second-hand. The 
dress-coats, however, are lued for caps. Sometimes 
a coat, for which the collector may have given 
9d., is cut up for the repairs of better garments. 

Trousers are re-seated and repaired where the 
material is strong enough; and they are, I am 
informed, now about the only habiliment which is 
ever " turned," and that but exceptionally. The 
repairs to trousers arc more readily effected than 
those to coats, and trousers are freely bought by 
the collectors, and as freely re-bought by the 

Waittcoata — I still speak of woollen fabrics — 
are sometimes used in cap-making, and were used 
in guiter-making. But generally, at the present 
time, the worn edges are cut away, the buttons 
renewed or replaced by a new set, sometimes of 
glittering glass, the button-holes repaired or their 
jaggedness gummed down, and so the waistcoat 
is reproduced as a waistcoat, a size smaller. 
Sometimes a " vest," as waistcoats are occasionally 
called, is used by the cheap boot-makers for the 
" legs" of a woman's cloth booU, either laced or 
buttoned, but not n quarter as much as they would 
be, I was told, if the buttons and button-holes of 
the waistcoat would " do again" in the boot. 

Nor is the woollen garment, if too thin, too 
worn, or too rotten to be devoted to any of the 
uses I have specified, flung away as worthless. To 



the traders in second-hand apparel, or in the re- 
mains of second-hand apparel, a dust-hole is an 
unknown receptacle. The woollen rag, for so it 
is then considered, when unravelled can be made 
available for the manufacture of cheap yarns, 
being mixed with new wool. It is more probable, 
however, that the piece of woollen fabric which 
has been rejected by those who make or mend, 
and who must make or mend so cheaply that the 
veriest vagrant may be their customer, is formed 
not only into a new material, but into a material 
which sometimes is made into a new garment. 
These garments are inferior to tliose woven of new 
wool, both in look and wear ; but in some articles 
the re-manufacture is beautiful. The fabric thus 
snatched, as it were, from the ruins of cloth, is 
known as shoddy, the chief seat of manufacture 
being in Dewsbury, a small town in Yorkshire. 
The old material, when duly prepared, is torn 
into wool again by means of fine machinery, but 
the recovered wool is shorter in its fibre and 
more brittle in its nature ; it is, indeed, more a 
woollen pulp than a wool. 

Touching this peculiar branch of manufacture, 
I will here cite from the Morning Chronicle a 
brief description of a Shoddy Mill, so that the 
reader may have as comprehensive a knowledge 
as possible of the several uses to which his left- 
off clothes may be put. 

" The small town of Dewsbury holds, in the 
woollen district, very much the same position 
which Oldham does in the cotton country — the 
spinning and preparing of Avaste and refuse ma- 
terials. To this stuff the name of "shoddy" is 
given, but the real and orthodox " shoddy " is a 
production of the Avoollen districts, and consists 
of the second-hand wool manufactured by the 
tearing up, or rather the grinding, of woollen rags 
by means of coarse willows, called devils; the 
operation of which sends forth choking clouds of 
dry pungent dirt and floating fibres — the real and 
original " devil's dust." Having been, by the 
agency of the machinery in question, reduced to 
something like the original raw material, fresh 
wool is added to the pulp ia different proportions, 
according to the quality of the stuff to be manu- 
factured, and the mingled material is at length 
reworked in the usual way into a little serviceable 

" There are some shoddy mills in the neighbour- 
hood of Huddersfield, but the mean little town 
of Dewsbury may be taken as the metropolis of 
the manufacture. Some mills are devoted solely 
to the sorting, preparing, and grinding of rags, 
which are worked up in the neighbouring factories. 
Here great bales, choke full of filthy tatters, lie 
scattered about the yard, while the continual 
arrival of loaded waggons keeps adding to the 
heap. A glance at the exterior of these mills 
shows their character. The walls and part of 
the roof are covered with the thick clinging dust 
and fibre, which ascends in choky volumes from the 
open doors and glassless windows of the ground 
floor, and which also pours forth from a chimney, 
constructed for the purpose, exactly like smoke. 
The mill is covered as with a mildewy fungus, and 

upon the gray slates of the roof the frowzy 
deposit is often not less than two inches in depth. 

In the upper story of these mills the rags are 
stored. A great ware-room is piled in many 
places from the floor to the ceiling with bales of 
woollen rags, torn strips and tatters of every 
colour peeping out from the bursting depositories. 
There is hardly a country in Europe which does 
not contribute its quota of material to the shoddy 
manufacturer. Eags are brought from France, 
Germany, and in great quantities from Belgium. 
Denmark, I understand, is favourably looked upon 
by the tatter merchants, being fertile in morsels of 
clothing, of fair quality. Of domestic rags, the 
Scotch bear off the palm ; and possibly no one 
will be surprised to hear, that of all rags Irish 
rags are the most worn, the filthiest, and gene- 
rally the most unprofitable. The gradations of 
value in the world of rags are indeed remarkable. 
I was shown rags worth 50i. per ton, and rags 
worth only 30^. The best class is formed of the 
remains of fine cloth, the produce of which, eked 
out with a few bundles of fresh wool, is destined 
to go forth to the world again as broad cloth, or 
at all events as pilot cloth. Fragments of damask 
and skirts of merino dresses form the staple of 
middle-class rags ; and even the very worst bales 
— they appear unmitigated mashes of frowzy 
filth — afford here and there some fragments of 
calico, which are wrought up into brown paper. 
The refuse of all, mixed with the stuff which even 
the shoddy-making devil rejects, is packed off to 
the agricultural districts for use as manure, to fer- 
tilize the hop-gardens of Kent. 

" Under the rag ware-room is the sorting and 
picking room. Here the bales are opened, and 
their contents piled in close, poverty-smelling 
masses, upon the floor. The operatives are en- 
tirely women. They sit upon low stools, or half 
sunk and half enthroned amid heaps of the filthy 
goods, busily employed in arranging them accord- 
ing to the colour and the quality of the morsels, 
and from the more pretending quality of rags 
carefully ripping out every particle of cotton 
which they can detect. Piles of rags of different 
sorts, dozens of feet high, are the obvious fruits 
of their labour. All these women are over eigh- 
teen years of age, and the wages which they are 
paid for ten hours' work are 6*\ per week. They 
look squalid and dirty enough ; but all of them 
chatter and several sing over their noisome la- 
bour. The atmosphere of the room is close and 
oppressive ; and although no particularly offensive 
smell is perceptible, there is a choky, mildewy 
sort of odour — a hot) moist exhalation — arising 
from the sodden smouldering piles, as the work- 
women toss armfuls of rags from one heap to 
another. This species of work is the lowest and 
foulest which any phase of the factory system can 

" The devils are upon the ground floor. The 
choking dust bursts out from door and window, 
and it is not until a minute or so that the visitor 
can see the workmen moving amid the clouds, 
catching up armfuls of the sorted rags and tossing 
them into the machine to be torn into fibry frag- 



ments by the whirling revolutions of its teeth. 
The place in which this is done is a large bare 
room — the uncovered beams above, the roiigh 
stone walls, and the woodwork of the unglazed 
windows being as it were furred over Avith cling- 
ing woolly matter. On the floor, the dust and 
coarse filaments lie as if 'it had been snowing 
snuff.' The workmen are coated with the flying 
powder. They wear bandages over their mouths, 
so as to prevent as much ns possible the inhalation 
of the dust, and seem loath to remove the protec- 
tion for a moment. The rag grinders, with their 
squalid, dust-strewn garments, powdered to a dull 
grayish hue, and with their bandages tied over 
the greater part of their faces, move about like 
reanimated mummies in their swathings, looking 
most ghastly. The wages of these poor creatures 
do not exceed 7j>-. or %s. a week. The men are 
much better paid, none of them making less than 
18*. a week, and many earning as much as 22s. 
Not one of them, however, will admit that he 
found the trade injurious. The dust tickles them 
a little, they say, that is all. They feel it most 
of a Monday morning, after being all Sunday in 
the fresh air. When they first take to the work 
it hurts their throats a little, but they drink mint 
tea, and that soon cures them. They are all 
more or less subject to ' shoddy fever,' they con- 
fess, especially after tenting the grinding of the 
very dusty sorts of stuff — worsted stockings, for 
ex.imple. The shoddy fever is a sort of stuffing 
of the head and nose, with sore throat, and it 
sometimes forces them to give over work for two 
or three days, or at most a week ; but the dis- 
order, the workmen say, is not faUU, and leaves 
no particularly bad eftects. 

" In spite of all this, however, it is manifestly 
impossible for human lungs to breathe under such 
circumstances without suffering. The visitor ex- 
posed to the atmosphere for ten minutes expe- 
riences an unpleasant choky sensation in the 
throat, which lasts all the remainder of the day. 
The rag grinders, moreover, according to the best 
accounts, are very subject to asthmatic complaints, 
particularly when the air is dull and warm. The 
shoddy fever is said to be like a bad cold, with 
constant acrid running from the nose, and a great 
deal of expectoration. It is when there is a par- 
ticularly dirty lot of nigs to be ground that the 
people are usually attacked in this way, but the 
fever seldom keeps them more than two or three 
days from their work. 

" In other mills the rags are not only ground, but 
the shoddy is worked up into coarse bad 'cloth, a 
great proportion of which is sent to America for 
slave clothing (and much now sold to the slop- 

"After the rags have been devilled into shoddy, 
the remaining processes are much the same, al- 
though conducted in a coarser way, as those 
performed in the manufacture of woollen cloth. 
The weaving is, for the most part, carried on at 
the homes of the workpeople. The domestic 
anmngements consist, in every case, of two tokna- 
bly large rooms, one above the other, with a cellar 
b«ne»th — a plan of construction called in York- 

shire a " house and a chamber." The chamber 
has generally a bed amid the looms. The weavers 
complain of irregular work and diminished wages. 
Their average pay, one week with another, with 
their wives to wind for them — i. e., to place tlio 
thread upon the bobbin which goes into the shuttle 
— is hardly so much as 10s. a week. They work 
long hours, often fourteen per day. Sometimes 
the weaver is a small capitalist with perhaps half 
a dozen looms, and a hand-jenny for spinning 
thread, the workpeople being within his own 
family as regular apprentices and journeymen." 

Dr. Hemingway, a gentleman who has a large 
practice in the shoddy district, has given the follow- 
ing information touching the " shoddy fever" : — 

'• The disease popularly known as ' shoddy 
fever,' and which is of frequent occurrence, is a 
species of bronchitis, caused by the irritating effect 
of the floating particles of dust upon the mucous 
membrane of the trachea and its ramifications. In 
general, the attack is easily cured — particularly if 
the patient has not been for any length of lime 
exposed to the exciting cause — by effervescing 
saline draughts to allay the symptomatic febrile 
action, followed by expectorants to relieve the 
mucous membrane of the irritating dust ; but a 
long continuance of employment in the contami- 
nated atmosphere, bringing on as it does repeated 
attacks of the disease, is too apt, in the end, to 
undermine the constitution, and produce a train of 
pectoral diseases, often closing with pulmonary 
consumption. Ophthalmic attacks are by no 
means uncommon among the shoddy-grinders, some 
of whom, however, wear wire-gauze spectJides to 
protect the eyes. As regards the effect of the 
occupation upon health, it may shorten life by 
about five years on a rough average, taking, of 
course, as the point of comparison, the average 
longevity of the district in which the manufacture 
is carried on." 

"Shoddy fever" is, in fact, a modification of 
the very fatal disease induced by what is ciilled 
"dry grinding" at Sheffield; but of course the 
particles of woollen filament are less fatal in their 
influence than the floating steel dust produced by 
the operation in question. 

At one time shoddy cloth was not good and 
firm enough to be used for other purposes than 
such as padding by tailors, and in the inner linings 
of carriages, by coach-builders. It was not used 
for purposes which would expose it to stress, but 
only to a moderate wear or friction. Now shoddy, 
which modem improvements have made suscep- 
tible of receiving a fine dye (it always looked a 
dead colour at one period), is made into cloth for 
soldiers' and sailors' uniforms and for pilot-coats ; 
into blanketing, drugget, stair and other carpeting, 
and into those beautiful table-covers, with their 
rich woolh-n look, on which elegantly drawn and 
elaborately coloured designs are printed through 
the application of aquafortis. Thus the rags 
which the befigar could no longer hang about him 
to cover his nakedness, may be a component of the 
soldier's or sailor's uniform, the carpet of a palace, 
or the library table-cover of a prime-minister. 

There is vet another use for old woollen clothes. 



What is not good for shoddy is good for manure, 
and more especially for the manure prepared by 
the agriculturists in Kent, Sussex, and Hereford- 
shire, for the culture of a difficult plant — hops. 
It is good also for corn land (judiciously used), 
so that we again have the remains of the old 
garment in our beer or our bread. 

I have hitherto spoken of woollen fabrics. The 
garments of other materials are seldom diverted 
from their original use, for as long as they will 
hold together they can be sold for exportation to 
Ireland, though of course for very trifling amounts. 

The black Velvet and Satin Waistcoats — the 
latter now so commonly worn — are almost always 
resold as waistcoats, and oft enough, when re- 
bound and rebuttoned, make a very respectable 
looking garment. Nothing sells better to the 
working-classes than a good second-hand vest of 
the two materials of satin or velvet. If the satin, 
however, be so worn and frayed that mending is 
impossible, the back, if not in the same plight, is 
removed for rebacking of any waistcoat, and the 
satin thrown away, one of the few things which 
in its last stage is utterly valueless. It is the 
same with silk waistcoats, and for the most part 
with velvet, but a velvet waistcoat may be thrown 
in the refuse heap with the woollen rags for 
manure. The coloured waistcoats of silk or velvet 
are dealt with in the same way. At one time, 
when under-waistcoats were worn, the edges being 
just discernible, quantities were made out of the 
full waistcoats where a sufficiency of the stuff was 
unworn. This fashion is now becoming less and 
less followed, and is principally in vogue in the 
matter of white under-waistcoats. For the jean 
and other vests — even if a mixture of materials — 
there is the same use as what I have described of 
the black satin, and failing that, they are gene- 
rally transferable to the rag-bag. 

Hats have become in greater demand than ever 
among the street- buyers since the introduction 
into the London trade, and to so great an extent, 
of the silk, velvet, French, or Parisian hats. The 
construction of these hats is the same, and the 
easy way in which the hat-bodies are made, has 
caused a number of poor persons, with no previous 
knowledge of hat-making, to enter into the trade. 
" There 's hundreds starving at it," said a hat- 
manufacturer to me, "in Bennondsej^, Lock's- 
fields, and the Borough ; ay, hundreds." This 
facility in the making of the bodies of the new 
silk hats is quite as available in the restoration of 
the bodies of the old hats, as I shall show from 
the information of a highly-intelligent artisan, 
who told me that of all people he disliked rich 
slop-sellers ; but there was another class which he 
disliked more, and that was rich slop-buyers. 

The bodies of the stuff or beaver hats of the 
best quality are made of a firm felt, wrought up of 
fine wool, rabbits' hair, &c,, and at once elastic, 
firm, and light. Over this is placed the nap, pre- 
pared from the hair of the beaver. The bodies of 
the silk hats are made of calico, which is blocked 
(as indeed is the felt) and stiffened and pasted up 
until " only a hat-maker can tell/' as it was ex- 

pressed to me, " good sound bodies from bad ; and 
the slop-masters go for the cheap and bad." The 
covering is not a nap of any hair, but is of silk or 
velvet (the words are used indifferently in the 
trade) manufactured for the purpose. Thus if an 
old hat be broken, or rather crushed out of all 
shape, the body can be glazed and sized up again 
so as to suit the slop hatter, if sold to him as a 
body, and that whether it be of felt or calico. If, 
however, the silk cover of the hat be not worn 
utterly away, the body, without stripping off the 
cover, can be re-blocked and re-set, and the silk- 
velvet trimmed up and " set," or re-dyed, and a 
decent hat is sometimes produced by these means. 
More frequently, however, a steeping shower of 
rain destroys the whole fabric. 

Second-hand Ca^s are rarely brought into this 

Such things as drawers, flannel waistcoats, and 
what is sometimes called *' inner wear," sell very 
well when washed up, patched — for patches do 
not matter in a garment hidden from the eye 
when worn — or mended in any manner. Flannel 
waistcoats and drawers are often in demand by 
the street-sellers and the street-labourers, as they 
are considered "good against the rheumatics." 
These habiliments are often sold unrepaired, having 
been merely washed, as the poor men's wives may 
be competent to execute an easy bit of tailoring; 
or perhaps the men themselves, if they have been 
reared as mechanics ; and they believe (perhaps 
erroneously) that so they obtain a better bargain. 
Shirts are repaired and sold as shirts, or for old 
linen ; the trade is not large. 

Men's Stockings are darned up, but only when 
there is little to be done in darning, as they are 
retailed at Id. the pair. The sale is not very 
great, for the supply is not. " Lots might be sold," 
I was informed, " if they was to be had, for them 
flash coves never cares what they wears under 
their Wellingtons." 

The Women's Apparel is sold to be re-worn in 
its original form quite as frequently, or more fre- 
quently, than it is mended up by the sellers ; the 
purchasers often preferring to make the alterations 
themselves. A gown of stuff, cotton, or any 
material, if full-sized, is frequently bought and 
altered to fit a smaller person or a child, and so 
the worn parts may be cut away. It is very 
rarely also that the apparel of the middle-classes 
is made into any other article, with the sole ex- 
ception, perhaps, of silk goxvns. If a silk gown 
be not too much frayed, it is easily cleaned and 
polished up, so as to present a new gloss, and is 
sold readily enough ; but if it be too far gone for 
this process, the old clothes renovator is often 
puzzled as to what uses to put it. A portion of a 
black silk dress may be serviceable to re-line the 
cuffs of the better kind>f coats. There is seldom 
enough, I was told, to re-line the two skirts of a 
surtout, and it is difficult to match old silk ; a 
man used to buying a good second-hand surtout, I 
was assured, would soon detect a difference in the 
shade of the silk, if the skirts were re-lined from 
the remains of different gowns, and say, " I '11 not 
give any such money for that piebald thing." 



Skirts may be sometimes re-lined this way on the 
getting np of frock coats, but very rarely. There 
is the same difficulty in using a coloured silk gown 
for the re-covering of a parasol. The quantity 
may not be enough for the gores, and cannot be 
matched to satisfy the eye, for the buyer of a silk 
parasol even in Rosemary-lane may be expected to 
be critical. "When there is enough of good silk 
for the purposes I have mentioned, then, it must 
be borne in mind, the gown may be more valuable, 
because saleable to be re-worn as a gown. It is 
the same with satin dresses, but only a few of 
them, in comparison with the silk, are to be seen 
at the Old Clothes' Exchange. 

Among the purposes to which portions of worn 
silk gowns are put are the making of spencers 
for little girls (usually by the purchasers, or by 
the dress-maker, who goes out to work for Is. a 
day), of children's bonnets, for the lining of 
women's bonnets, the re-lining of muflFs and fur- 
tippets, the patching of quilts (once a rather 
fiajhionable thing), the inner lining or curtains to a 
book-case, and other household appliances of a 
like kind. This kind of silk, too, no matter in 
how minute pieces, is bought by the fancy cabinet- 
makers (the small masters) for the lining of their 
dressing-cases and work-boxes supplied to the 
warehouses, but these poor artisans have neither 
means nor leisure to buy such articles of those 
connected with the traffic of the Old Clothes' Ex- 
change, but must purchase it, of course at an en- 
hanced price, of a broker who has bought it at 
the Exchange, or in some establishment connected 
with it. The second-hand silk is bought also for 
the dressing of dolls for the toy-shops, and for the 
lining of some toys. The hat-manufacturers of 
the cheaper sort, at one time, used second-hand 
silk for the padded lining of hats, but such is 
rarely the practice now. It was once used in the 
same manner by the bookbinders for lining the 
inner part of the back of a book. If there be 
any part of silk in a dress not suitable for any of 
these purposes it is wasted, or what is accounted 
wasted, although it may have been in wear for 
years. It is somewhat remarkable, that while 
woollen and even cotton goods can be "shoddied" — 
and if they are too rotten for that, they are made 
available for manure, or in the manufacture of paper 
— no use is made of the refuse of silk. Though one of 
the^most beautiful and costly of textile fabrics, its 
" remains " are thrown aside, when a beggar's rags 
are preserved and made profitable. There can be 
little doubt that silk, like cotton, could be shoddied, 
but whether such a speculation would be remune- 
rative or not is no part of my present inquiry. 

There is not, a« I shall subsequently show, so 
great an exportation of female attire as might be 
expected in comparison with male apparel ; the 
poorer claMes of the metropolis being too anxious 
to get any decent gown when within their slender 

iStayy, imleM of superior make and in good 
condition, are little bought by the classes who are 
the chief customers of the old-clothes' men in 
London. I did not hear any reason for this from 
any of the old*c]othei' people. One man thought. 

if there was a family of daughters, the stays 
which had became too small for the elder girl we're 
altered for the younger, and that poor women liked 
to mend their old stays as long as they would stick 
together. Perhaps, there may be some repugnance 
— especially among the class of servant-maids 
who have not had "to rough it" — to wear street- 
j collected stays; a repugnance not, perhaps, felt 
in the wearing of a gown which probably can be 
washed, and is not worn so near the person. The 
stays that are collected are for the most part ex- 
ported, a great portion being sent to Ireland. If 
they are " worn to rags," the bones are taken out; 
but in the slop-made stays, it is not whalebone, 
but wood that is used to give, or preserve the due 
shape of the corset, and then the stays are 

Old Stockings are of great sale both for home 
wear and foreign trade. In the trade of women's 
stockings there has been in the last 20 or 25 
years a considerable change. Before that period 
black stockings were worn by servant girls, and 
the families of working people and small trades- 
men ; they " saved washing. Now, even in Petti- 
coat-lane, women's stockings are white, or " mot- 
tled," or some light-coloured, very rarely black. 
I have heard this change attributed to what is 
rather vaguely called " pride." May it not be 
owing to a more cultivated sense of cleanliness 1 
The women's stockings are sold darned and 
undarned, and at (retail) prices from \d. to Ad. ; 
\d. or 2d. being the most frequent prices. 

The 2>etticoais and other under clothing are not 
much bought second-hand by the poor women of 
London, and are exported. 

Women's caps used to be sold second-hand, I 
was told, both in the streets and the shops, but 
long ago, and before muslin and needlework were 
so cheap. 

I heard of one article which formerly supplied 
considerable "stuff" (the word used) for second- 
hand pm^oses, and was a part, but never a con- 
siderable part, of the trade at Rag-fair. These 
were the "pillions," or large, firm, solid cushions 
which were attached to a saddle, so that a horse 
" carried double." Fifty years ago the farmer and 
his wife, of the more prosperous order, went 
regularly to church and market on one horse, a 
pillion sustaining the good dame. To the best 
sort of these pillions was appended what was 
called the " pillion cloth," often of a fine, but thin 
quality, which being really a sort of housing to 
the horse, cut straight and with few if any seams, 
was an excellent material for what I am informed 
was formerly called " making and mending." The 
colour was almost exclusively drab or blue. The 
pillion on which the squire's lady rode — and 
Sheridan makes his Lady Teazle deny "the 
pillion and the coach-horse," the butler being her 
cavalier — was a perfect piece of upholstery, set off 
with lace and fringes, which again were excellent 
for secondhand sale. Such a means of convey- 
ance may still linger in some secluded country 
parts, but it is generally speaking obsolete. 

Boots and Shoes arc not to be. had, I am told, 
in anfficient quantity for the demand from the 



slop-shops, the " translators," and the second-hand 
dealers. Great quantities of second-hand boots and 
shoes are sent to Ireland to be "translated" there. 
Of all the wares in this traffic, the clothing for the 
feet is what is most easily prepared to cheat the 
eye of the inexperienced, the imposition having 
the aids of heel-ball, &c., to fill up crevices, and 
of blacking to hide defects. Even when the 
boots or shoes are so worn out that no one will 
put a pair on his feet, though purchaseable for 
about Id., the insoles are ripped out; the soles, if 
there be a sufficiency of leather, are shaped into 
insoles for children's shoes, and these insoles are 
sold in bundles of two dozen pairs at 2d. the 
bundle. So long as the boot or shoe be not in many 
holes, it can be cobblered up in Monraouth-street 
or elsewhere. Of the "translating" business 
transacted in those localities I had the follow- 
ing interesting account from a man who was 
lately engaged in it. 

" Translation, as I understand it (said my in- 
formant), is this — to take a worn, old pair of shoes 
or boots, and by repairing them make them appear 
as if left off with hardly any wear — as if they 
were only soiled. I '11 tell you the way they 
manage in Monmouth-street. There are in the 
trade ' horses' heads ' — a * horse's head ' is the foot 
of a boot with sole and heel, and part of a front — 
the back and the remainder of the front having 
been used for refooting boots. There are also 

* stand-bottoms ' and ' lick-ups.' A * stand-bottom ' 
is where the shoe appears to be only soiled, and a 
' lick-up ' is a boot or shoe re-lasted to take the 
wrinkles out, the edges of the soles having been 
rasped and squared, and then blacked up to hide 
blemishes, and the bottom covered with a / smo- 
ther,' which I will describe. There is another 
article called a * flyer/ that is, a shoe soled with- 
out having been welted. In Monmouth-street a 

* horse's head ' is generally retailed at 25. Qd., but 
some fetch 45. &d. — that 's the extreme price. 
They cost the translator from Is. a dozen pair to 
85., but those at 85. are good, and are used for 
the making up of Wellington boots. Some 
'horses' heads' — such as are cut off that the boots 
may be re-footed on account of old fashion, or a 
misfit, when hardly worn— fetch 2*. 6cZ. a pair, 
and they are made up as new-footed boots, and 
sell from IO5. to 155. The average price of feet 
(that is, for the ' horse's head,' as we call it) is 
4(Z,, and a pair of .backs say 2d. ; the back is 
attached loosely by chair stitching, as it is called, 
to tiie heel, instead of being stitched to the in- 
sole, as in a new boot. The wages for all this is 
I5. id. in Monraouth-street (in Union-street, Bo- 
rough, Is. 6d.) ; but I was told by a master that 
he had got the work done in Gray's-inn-lane at 9d. 
Put it, liowever, at I5. id. wages — then, with id. 
and 2d. for the feet and back, we have Is. lOd. 
outlay (the workman finds his own grindery), and 
8d. profit on each pair sold at a rate of '2s. 6d. 
Some masters will sell from 70 to 80 pairs per 
week : that 'a under the mark ; and that 's in 

* horses' heads ' alone. One man employs, or did 
latel}' employ, seven men on * horses' heads ' 
solely. The profit generally, in fair shops, in 

'stand-bottoms,' is from I5. 6d. to 25, per pair, as 
they sell generally at 85. 6d. One man takes, or 
did take, 100/. in a day (it was calculated as an 
average) over the counter, and all for the sort of 
shoes I have described. The profit of a * lick-up ' 
is the same as that of a ' stand-bottom.' To show 
the villanous way the * stand-bottoms ' are got 
up, I will tell you this. You have seen a broken 
upper-leather; well, we place a piece of leather, 
waxed, underneath the broken part, on which we 
set a few stitches through and through. When 
dry and finished, we take what is called a ' soft- 
heel-ball ' and ' smother ' it over, so that it some- 
times would deceive a currier, as it appears like 
the upper leather. With regard to the bottoms, 
the worn part of the sole is opened from the edge, 
a piece of leather is made to fit exactly into the 
hole or worn part, and it is then nailed and filed 
untl level. Paste is then applied, and ' smother ' 
put over the part, and that imitates the dust of the 
road. This * smother ' is obtained from the dust 
of the room. It is placed in a silk stocking, tied 
at both ends, and then shook through, just like a 
powder-pufF, only we shake at both ends. It is 
powdered out into our leather apron, and mixed 
with a certain preparation which I will describe 
to you (he did so), but I would rather not have 
it published, as it would lead others to practise 
similar deceptions. I believe there are about 
2000 translators, so you may judge of the extent 
of the trade ; and translators are more constantly 
employed than any other branch of the business. 
Many make a great deal of money. A journeyman 
translator can earn from 85. to 45. a day. You 
can give the average at 2O5. a week, as the wages 
are good. It must be good, for we have 25. for 
soling, heeling, and welting a pair of boots ; and 
some men don't get more for making them. Mon- 
mouth-street is nothing like what it was ; as to 
curious old garments, that's all gone. There's 
not one English master in the translating business 
in Monmouth-street — they are all Irish; and 
there is now hardly an English workman there — 
perhaps not one. I believe that all the tradesmen in 
Monmouth-street make their workmen lodge with 
them. I was lodging with one before I married a 
little while ago, and I know the system to be the 
same now as it was then, unless, indeed, it be al- 
tered for the worse. To show how disgusting these 
lodgings must be, I will state this : — I knew a 
Komari Catholic, who was attentive to his religious 
duties, but when pronounced on the point of death, 
and believing firmly that he was dying, he would 
not have his priest administer extreme unction, for 
the room was in such a filthy and revolting state 
he would not allow him to see it. Five men 
worked and slept in that room, and they were 
working and sleeping there in the man's illness — 
all the time that his life was despaired of. He was 
ill nine weeks. Unless the working shoemaker 
lodged there he would not be employed. Each 
man pays 25. a week. I was there once, but I 
couldn't sleep in such a den ; and five nights out 
of the seven I slept at my mother's, but my lodg- 
ing had to be paid all the same. These men 
(myself excepted) were all Irish, and all tee- 



totallers, as waa the master. How often was 
the room cleaned out, do you say ] Never, sir, 
never. The refuse of the men's labour waa gene- 
rally burnt, smudged away in the grate, smelling 
terribly. It would stifle you, though it didn't me, 
because I got used to it. I lodged in Union-street 
once. My employer had a room known as the 
' barracks ;' every lodger paid him 25. 6d. a week. 
Five men worked and slept there, and three were 
ritters — that is, men who paid Is. a week to sit 
there aud work, lodging elsewhere. A little be- 
fore that there were six sitters. The furniture 
was one table, one chair, and two beds. There 
waa no place for purposes of decency : it fell to 
bits firom decay, and was never repaired. This 
barrack man always stopped the 2s. 6d. for lodg- 
ing, if he gave you only that amount of work in 
the week. The beds were decent enough ; but 
as to Monmouth-street ! you don't see a clean 
sheet there for nine weeks ; and, recollect, such 
snobs are dirty fellows. There was no chair in 
the Monmouth-street room that I have spoken of, 
the men having only their seats used at work ; 
but when the beds were let down for the night, 
the seats had to be placed in the fire-place because 
tliere was no space for them in the room. In 
many houses in Monmouth-street there is a sys- 
tem of sub-letling among the journeymen. In one 
room lodged a man and his wife (a laundress 
worked there), four children, and two single 
young men. The wife was actually delivered in 
this room whilst the men kept at their work — 
they never lost an hour's work ; nor is this an 
unusnal case — it 's not an isolated case at all. I 
could instance ten or twelve cases of two or three 
married people living in one room in that street. 
The rats have scampered over the beds that lay 
huddled together in the kitchen. The husband of 
the wife confined as I have described paid 4*. a 
week, and the two single men paid 2^. a week each, 
so the master was rent free ; sind he received from 
each man Is. Gd. a week for tea (without sugar), 
and no bread and butter, and 2d. a day for pota- 
toes — that 's the regular charge." 

In connection with the translation of old boots 
and shoes, I have obtained the following statistics. 

In Drury-lane and ttreds adjacent, about. ... fiO shops. 

Seven-dull do. do. .... lUC) do. 

Monmouth-itrcet do. do 40 do. 

Hanway-court, Oxford-«treet do 4 do. 

LiMon-KTove do. do 100 do. 

Paddington do. do 30 do. 

Petticoat-Une (sbopt, stands. &c.) do 200 do. 

Somcnr-town do. do M do. 

FleM-lane, SaRYon-hUl do 40 do. 

Clerkeowell do 30 do. 

Bcthnal-green. Spltalflelda do. 100 do. 

~ ir-lane, Ace. do. .... 30 do. 

774 thopi , 

employing upwards of 2000 men in making-up 
and repairing old boota and shoes ; besides hun- 
dred! of poor men and women who strive for a 
cmst by buying and selling the old material, pre- 
viooflly to translating it, and by mending op what 
will mend. Tbey or their children stand in the 
•treet and try to sell thera. 

Monmouth-street, now the great old shoe dis- 
trict, has been " sketched" by Mr. Dickens, not as 
regards its connection with the subject of street- 
sale or of any particular trade, but as to its 
general character and appearance. I first cite Mr. 
Dickens' description of the Seven Dials, of which 
Monmouth-street is a seventh : — 

"The stranger who finds himself in 'The Dials' 
for the first time, and stands, Belzoni-like, at the 
entrance of seven obscure passages, uncertain 
which to take, will see enough around him to 
keep his curiosity and attention awake for no 
inconsiderable time. From the irregular square 
into which he has plunged, the streets and courts 
dart in all directions, until they are lost in the 
unwholesome vapour which hangs over the house- 
tops, and renders the dirty perspective uncertain 
and confined ; and, lounging at every comer, as if 
they came there to take a few gasps of such fresh 
air as has found its way so far, but is too much 
exhausted already, to be enabled to force itself 
into the narrow alleys around, are groups of 
people, whose appearance and dwellings would fill 
any mind but a regular Londoner's with astonish- 

" In addition to the numerous groups who are 
idling about the gin-shops and squabbling in the 
centre of the road, every post in the open space 
has its occupant, who leans against it for hours, 
with listless perseverance. It is odd enough that 
one class of men in London appear to have no 
enjoyment beyond lenning against posts. We 
never saw a regular bricklayer's labourer take any 
other recreation, fighting excepted. Pass through 
St. Giles's in the evening of a week-day, there 
they are in their fustian dresses, spotted wiih 
brick-dust and whitewash, leaning against posts. 
Walk through Seven Dials on Sunday morning : 
there they are again, drab or light corduroy 
trowsers, 131ucher boots, blue coats, and great 
yellow waistcoats, leaning against posts. The 
idea of a man dressing himself in his best clothes, 
to lean against a post all day ! 

" The peculiar character of these streets, and 
the close resemblance each one bears to its neigh- 
bour, by no means tends to decrease the bewilder- 
ment in which the unexperienced wayfarer through 
'the Dials' finds himself involved. He traversea 
streets of dirty, straggling houses, with now and 
then an unexpected court, composed of buildings 
as ill-proportioned and deformed as the half-naked 
children that wallow in the kennels. Here and 
there, a little dark chandler's shop, with a cracked 
bell hung up behind the door to announce the en- 
trance of a customer, or betray the presence of 
some young gentleman in whom a passion for shop 
tills haa developed itaelf at an early age ; others, 
as if for support, against some handsome lofty 
building, which usurps the place of a low dingy 
public-house ; long rows of broken and patched 
windows expoac planta that may have flouriahed 
when ' The Diala ' were built, in vessels aa dirty 
aa ' The Diala ' themselves ; and shopa for the 
purchaae of raga, bonea, old iron, and kitchcn- 
atuif, vie in cleanjineaa with the bird-fanciers and 
rabbit-dealers, which one might buicy ao many 



arks, but for the irresistible conviction that no 
bird in its proper senses, who was permitted to 
leave one of them would ever come back again. 
Brokers' shops, which would seem to have been 
established by humane individuals, as refuges for 
destitute bugs, interspersed with announcements 
of day-schools, penny theatres, petition-writers, 
mangles, and music for balls or routs, complete the 
* still-life ' of the subject ; and dirty men, filthy 
■women, squalid children, fluttering shuttlecocks, 
noisy battledores, reeking pipes, bad fruit, more 
than doubtful oysters, attenuated cats, depressed 
dogs, and anatomical fowls, are its cheerful accom- 

" If the external appearance of the houses, or 
a glance at their inhabitants, present but few at- 
tractions, a closer acquaintance with either is little 
calculated to alter one's first impression. Every 
room has its separate tenant, and every tenant is, 
by the same mysterious dispensation which causes 
a country curate to 'increase and multiply' most 
marvellously, generally the head of a numerous 

" The man in the shop, perhaps, is in the baked 
'jemmy' line, or the fire-wood and hearth-stone 
line, or any other line which requires a floating 
capital of eighteen pence or thereabouts : and he 
and his family live in the shop, and the small back 
parlour behind it. Then there is an Irish la- 
bourer and his family^ in the back kitchen, and 
a jobbing-man — carpet-beater and so forth — 
with his family, in the front one. In the front 
one pair there 's another man with another wife 
and family, and in the back one-pair there 's * a 
young 'oman as takes in tambour-work, and 
dresses quite genteel,' who talks a good deal 
about ' my friend,' and can't * abear anything low,' 
The second floor front, and the rest of the lodgers, 
are just a second edition of the people below, ex- 
cept a shabby-genteel man in the back attic, who 
has his half-pint of coffee every morning from the 
coffee-shop next door but one, which boasts a little 
front den called a coffee-room, with a tire-place, 
over which is an inscription, politely requesting 
that, ' to prevent mistakes,' customers will * please 
to pay on delivery.' The shabby-genteel man is 
an object of some mystery, but as he leads a life 
of seclusion, and never was known to buy any- 
thing beyond an occasional pen, except half-pints 
of coffee, penny loaves, and ha'porths of ink, his 
fellow-lodgers very naturally suppose him to be an 
author; and rumours are current in the Dials, 
that he writes poems for Mr. Warren. 

" Now any body who passed through the Dials 
on a hot summer's evening, and saw the different 
women of the house gossiping on the steps, would 
be apt to think that all was harmony among them, 
and that a more primitive set of people than the 
native Diallers could not be imagined. Alas ! the 
man in the shop illtreats his family ; the carpet- 
beater extends his professional pursuits to his wife ; 
the one-pair front has an undying feud with the 
two-pair front, in consequence of the two-pair 
front persisting in dancing over his (the one-pair 
front's) head, when he and his &mily have retired 
for the night; the two-pair back will interfere 

with the front kitchen's children ; the Irishman 
comes home drunk every other night, and attacks 
every body ; and the one-pair back screams at 
everything. Animosities spring up between floor 
and floor ; the very cellar asserts his equality. 
Mrs. A. 'smacks' Mrs. B.'s child for 'making 
faces.' Mrs. B. forthwith throws cold water over 
Mrs. A.'s child for ' calling names.' The husbands 
are embroiled — the quarrel becomes general — an 
assault is the consequence, and a police-ofiicer the 

Of Monmouth-street the same author says : — 

" We have always entertained a particular 
attachment towards Monmouth-street, as the only 
true and real emporium for second-hand wearing 
apparel. Monmouth-street is venerable from its 
antiquity, and respectable from its usefulness. 
Holywell-street we despise ; the red-headed and 
red-whiskered Jews who forcibly haul you into 
their squalid houses, and thrust you into a suit of 
clothes whether you will or not, we detest. 

" The inhabitants of Monmouth-street are a 
distinct class; a peaceable and retiring race, who 
immure themselves for the most part in deep 
cellars, or small back parlours, and who seldom 
come forth into the world, except in the dusk and 
coolness of evening, when they may be seen 
seated, in chairs on the pavement, smoking their 
pipes, or watching the gambols of their engaging 
children as they revel in the gutter, a happy troop 
of infantine scavengers. Their countenances bear 
a thoughtful and a dirty cast, certain indications 
of their love of traflic ; and their habitations are 
distinguished by that disregard of outward ap- 
pearance, and neglect of personal comfort, so 
common among people who are constantly im- 
mersed in profound speculations, and deeply en- 
gaged in sedentary pursuits. 

" Through every alteration and every change 
Monmouth-street has still remained the burial- 
place of the fashions; and such, to judge from all 
present appearances, it will remain until there are 
no more fashions to bury." 

^ Op the Streex-Sbliebs op Petticoat and 

Immediately connected with the trade of the 
central mart for old clothes are the adjoining streets 
of Petticoat-lane, and those of the not very dis- 
tant Rosemary-lane. In these localities is a 
second-hand garment-seller at almost every step, 
but the whole stock of these traders, decent, 
frowsy, half-rotten, or smart and good habilments, 
has first passed through the channel of the Ex- 
change. The men who sell these goods have all 
bought them at the Exchange — the exceptions 
being insignificant — so that tliis street-sale is but 
an extension of the trade of the central mart, 
with the addition that the wares have been made 
ready for use. 

A cursory observation might lead an inexpe- 
rienced person to the conclusion, that these old 
clothes traders who are standing by the bundles of 
gowns, or lines of coats, hanging trom their door- 
posts, or in the place from which the window has 
been removed, or at the sides of their houses, or 



piled in the street before them, are drowsy people, 
for they seem to sit among [their property, lost 
in thought, or caring only for the fumes of a 
pipe. But let any one indicate, even by an ap- 
proving glance, the likelihood of his becoming a 
customer, and see if there be any lack of diligence 
in business. Some, indeed, pertinaciously invite 
attention to their wares ; some (and often well- 
dressed women) leave their premises a few yards 
to accost a stranger pointing to a " good dress- 
coat" or "an excellent frock" (coat). I am told 
that this practice is less pursued than it was, and 
it seems that the solicitations are now addressed 
chiefly to strangers. These strangers, persons 
happening to be passing, or visitors from curiosity, 
are at once recognised ; for as in all not very ex- 
tended localities, where the inhabitants pursue a 
similar calling, they are, as regards their know- 
ledge of one another, as the members of one 
fiunily. Thus a stranger is as easily recognised 
as he would be in a little rustic hamlet where 
a strange face is not seen once a quarter. 
Indeed so narrow are some of the streets and 
alleys in this quarter, and so little is there of 
privacy, owing to the removal, in warm weather, 
eren of the casements, that the room is com- 
manded in all its domestic details ; and as among 
these details there is generally a further display of 
goods similar to the articles outside, the jammed- 
np places really look like a great family house 
with merely a sort of channel, dignified by the 
name of a street, between the right and left suites 
of apartments. 

In one off-street, where on a Sunday there is a 
considerable demand for Jewish sweet-meats by 
Christian boys, and a little sly, and perhaps not 
very successful gambling on the part of the in- 
genuous youth to possess themselves of these con- 
fectionaries at the easiest rate, there arc some 
mounds of builders* rubbish upon which, if an in- 
qaisitire person ascended, he could command the 
details of the upper rooms, probably the bed 
chambers — if in their crowded apartments these 
traders can find spaces for beds. 

It must not be supposed that old clothes are 
more than the great staple of the traffic of this 
district. Wherever persons are assembled there 
are certain to be purveyors of provisions and of 
cool or hot drinks for warm or cold weather. The 
interior of the Old Clothes Exchange has its 
oyster-stall, its fountain of ginger-beer, its coffee- 
house, and ale-house, and a troop of peripatetic 
traders, boys principally, carrying trays. Outside 
the walls of the Exchange this trade is still 
thicker. A Jew boy thrusts a tin of highly-glazed 
cakes and pastry under the people's noses here ; 
and on the other side a basket of oranges regales 
the same sense by its proximity. At the next 
8t«p the thorooghiare is interrupted by a gaudy- 
looking gioger-beer, lemonade, nupberryade, and 
nectar fountain ; " a halfpenny a glass, a halfpenny 
a glass, sparkling lemonade I " shouts the vendor 
as you pass. The fountain and the glasses glitter 
in the sun, the varnish of the wood-work shines, 
the lemonade really does sparkle, and all looks 
th« owner. Close by is a brawny 

young Irishman, his red beard unshorn for per- 
haps ten days, and his neck, where it had been 
exposed to the weather, a far deeper red than his 
beard, and he is carrying a small basket of nuts, 
and selling them as gravely as if they were articles 
suited to his strength. A little lower is the cry, 
in a woman's voice, " Fish, fried fish ! Ha'penny ; 
fish, fried fish ! " and so monotonously and me- 
chanically is it ejaculated that one might think 
the seller's life was passed in uttering these few 
words, even as a rooli's is in crying " Caw, caw." 
Here I saw a poor Irishwoman who had a child 
on her back buy a piece of this fish (which may 
be had "hot" or "cold"), and tear out a piece 
with her teeth, and this with all the eagerness and 
relish of appetite or hunger; first eating the 
brown outside and then sucking the bone. I never 
saw fish look firmer or whiter. That fried fish is 
to be procured is manifest to more senses than 
one, for you can hear the sound of its being fried, 
and smell the fumes from the oil. In an open 
window opposite frizzle on an old tray, small 
pieces of thinly-cut meat, with a mixture of 
onions, kept hot by being placed over an old pan 
containing charcoal. In another room a mess of 
batter is smoking over a grate. " Penny a lot, 
oysters," resounds from different parts. Some of 
the sellers command two streets by establishing 
their stalls or tubs at a corner. Lads pass, carry- 
ing sweet-stuff on trays. I observed one very 
dark-eyed Hebrew boy chewing the hard-bake he 
vended — if it were not a substitute — with an ex- 
pression of great enjoyment. Heaped-up trays 
of fresh-looking sponge-cakes are carried in tempt- 
ing pyramids. Youths have stocks of large hard- 
looking biscuits, and walk aboutcrying, "Ha'penny 
biscuits, ha'penny ; three a penny, biscuits ; " 
these, with a morsel of cheese, often supply a 
dinner or a luncheon. Dates and figs, as dry as 
they are cheap, constitute the stock in trade of 
other street-sellers. " Coker-nuts " are sold in 
pieces and entire ; the Jew boy, when he invites 
to the purchase of an entire nut, shaking it at 
the ear of the customer. I was told by a coster- 
monger that these juveniles had a way of drum- 
ming with their fingers on the shell so as to 
satisfy a " green " customer that the nut offered 
was a sound ^ne. 

Such are the summer eatables and drinkables 
which I have lately seen vended in the Petticoat- 
lane district. In winter there are, as long as day- 
light lasts— and in no other locality perhaps does 
it last so short a time— other street provisions, 
and, if possible, greater zeal in selling them, the 
hours of business being circumscribed. There is 
then the potiito-can and the hot elder-wine appa- 
ratus, and smoking pies and puddings, and roasted 
apples and chestnuts, and walnuts, and the several 
fruits which ripen in the autumn — apples, pearl, 

Hitherto I have spoken only of such eatables 
and drinkables as are ready for consumption, but 
to these the trade in the Petticoat-lane district 
is by no means confined. There is fresh fish, 
generally of the cheaper kinds, and smoked or 
dried fish (smoked salmon, moreover, is sold ready 




cooked), and costermongers' barrows, with their 
loads of green vegetables, looking almost out of 
place amidst the surrounding dinginess. The cries 
of " Fine cauliflowers," " Large penny cabbages," 
" Eight a shilling, mackarel," " Eels, live eels," 
mix strangely with the hubbub of the busier 

Other street-sellers also abound. Tou meet one 
man who says mysteriously, and rather bluntly, 
** Buy a good knife, governor." His tone is re- 
markable, and if it attract j^ention, he may hint 
that he has smuggled goods which he mmt sell 
anyhow. Such men, I am told, look out mostly 
for seamen, who often resort to Petticoat-lane ; 
for idle men like sailors on shore, and idle uncul- 
tivated men often love to lounge where there is 
bustle. Pocket and pen knives and scissors, 
" Penny a piece, penny a pair," rubbed over with 
oil, both to hide and prevent rust, are carried on 
trays, and spread on stalls, some stalls consisting 
of merelj' a tea-chest lid on a stool. Another 
man, carrying perhaps a sponge in his hand, and 
well-dressed, asks you, in a subdued voice, if you 
want a good razor, as if he almost suspected that 
you meditated suicide, and were looking out for 
the means ! This is another ruse to introduce 
smuggled (or "duffer's") goods. Account-books 
are hawked. " Penny-a-quire," shouts the itinerant 
street stationer (who, if questioned, always de- 
clares he said " Penny half quire "), " Stockings, 
stockings, two pence a pair." " Here 'a your 
chewl-ry ; penny, a penny ; pick 'em and choose 
'em." [I may remark that outside the window 
of one shop, or rather parlour, if there be any such 
distinction here, I saw the handsomest, as far as 
I am able to judge, and the best cheap jewellery I 
ever saw in the streets.] '•' Pencils, sir, pencils ; 
steel-pens, steel-pens ; ha'penny, penny ; pencils, 
steel-pens ; sealing-wax, wax, wax, wax ! " shouts 
one, " Green peas, ha'penny a pint ! '' cries another. 

These things, however, are but the accompani- 
ments of the main traffic. But as such things 
accompany all traffic, not on a small scale, and 
may be found in almost every metropolitan tho- 
roughfare, where the police are not required, by 
the householders, to interfere, I will point out, to 
show the distinctive character of the street-trade 
in this part, what is not sold and not encouraged. 
I saw no old books. There were no flowers ; no 
music, which indeed could not be heard except at 
the outskirts of the din ; and no beggars plying 
their vocation among the trading class. 

Another peculiarity pertaining alike to this shop 
and street locality is, that everything is at the veriest 
minimum of price ; though it may not be asked, it 
will assuredly be taken. The bottle of lemonade 
which is elsewhere a penny is here a halfpenny. 
The tarts, which among the street-sellers about the 
Koyal Exchange are a halfpenny each, are here 
a farthing. When lemons are two a-penny in 
St. George's-market, Oxford-street, as the long 
line of street stalls towards the western extremity 
is called— they are three and four a-penny in 
Petticoat and Rosemary lanes. Certainly there 
is a difference in size between the dearer and the 
cheaper tarts and lemons, and perhaps there is a 

difference in quality also, but the rule of a mini- 
mized cheapness has no exceptions in this cheap- 
trading quarter. 

But Petticoat-lane is essentially the old clothes 
district. Embracing the streets and alleys adja- 
cent to Petticoat-lane, and including the rows of 
old boots and shoes on the ground, there is 
perhaps between two and three miles of old clothes. 
Petticoat-lane proper is long and narrow, and to look 
down it is to look down a vista of many coloured 
garments, alike on the sides and on the ground. The 
effect sometimes is very striking, from tho variety 
of hues, and the constant flitting, or gathering, of 
the crowd into little groups of bargainers. Gowns 
of every shade and every pattern are hanging up, 
but none, perhaps, look either bright or white ; it 
is a vista of dinginess, but many coloured dingi- 
ness, as regards female attire. Dress coats, frock 
coats, great coats, livery and game-keepers' coats, 
paletots, tunics, trowsers, knee-breeches, waist- 
coats, capes, pilot coats, working jackets, plaids, 
hats, dressing gowns, shirts, Guernsey frocks, are 
all displayed. The predominant colours are black 
and blue, but there is every colour; the light drab 
of some aristocratic livery ; the dull brown-green 
of velveteen ; the deep blue of a pilot jacket ; the 
variegated figures of the shawl dressing-gown ; the 
glossy black of the restored garments ; the shine 
of newly turpentined black satin waistcoats ; the 
scarlet and green of some flaming tartan ; these 
things — mixed with the hues of the women's 
garments, spotted and striped — certainly present 
a scene which cannot be beheld in any other part 
of the greatest city of the world, nor in any other 
portion of the world itself. 

The ground has also its array of colours. It is 
covered with lines of boots and shoes, their shining 
black relieved here and there by the admixture 
of females' boots, with drab, green, plum or 
lavender-coloured " legs," as the upper part of the 
boot is always called in the trade. There is, too, 
an admixture of men's "button-boots" with drab 
cloth legs ; and of a few red, yellow, and russet 
coloured slippers ; and of children's coloured mo- 
rocco boots and shoes. Handkerchiefs, sometimes 
of a gaudy orange pattern, are heaped on a chair. 
Lace and muslins occupy small stands or are 
spread on the ground. Black and drab and straw 
hats are hung up, or piled one upon another and 
kept from falling by means of strings ; while, in- 
cessantly threading their way through all this 
intricacy, is a mass of people, some of whose 

j dresses speak of a recent purchase in the lane. 

j I have said little of the shopkeepers of Petti- 
coat-lane, nor is it requisite for the full elucida- 
tion of my present subject (which relates more 
especially to street-sale), that I should treat of 
them otherwise than as being in a great degree 
connected with street-trade. They stand in the 
street (in front of their premises), they trade in 
the street, they smoke and read the papers in the 
street ; and indeed the greater part of their lives 
seems passed in the street, for, as I have elsewhere 
remarked, the Saturday's or Sabbath's recreation 
to some of them, after synagogue hours, seems to 
be to stand by their doors looking about them. 



In the earlier periods of the day — the Jewish 
Sabbath excepted, when there is no market at all 
in Petticoat-lane, not even among the Irisii and 
other old clothes people, or a mere nothing of a 
market — the goods of these shops seem consigned 
to the care of the wives and female members of the 
families of the proprietors. The Old Clothes Ex- 
change, like other places known by the name — 
the Royal Exchange, for example — has its daily 
season of "high change." This is, in summer, 
from about half-past two to five, in winter, from 
two to four o'clock. At those hours the crock- 
man, and the bartering costermonger, and the Jew 
collector, have sought the Exchange with their 
respective bargains; and business there, and in the 
whole district, is at its fullest tide. Before this 
hour the master of the shop or store (the latter 
may be the more appropriate word) is absent 
buying, collecting, or tninsactiug any business 
which requires him to leave home. It is curious 
to observe how, during this absence, the women, 
but with most wary eyes to the business, sit in 
the street carrj-ing on their domestic occupations. 
Some, with their young children about them, are 
shelling peas ; some are trimming vegetables ; 
some plying their needles ; some of the smaller 
traders' wives, as well as the street-sellers with a 
" pitch," are eating dinners out of basins (laid 
aside when a customer approaches), and occasion- 
ally some may be engaged in what Mrs. Trollope 
has called (in noticing a similar procedure in the 
boxes of an American theatre) "the most maternal 
of all offices." The females I saw thus occupied 
were principally Jewesses, for though those re- 
sorting to the Old Clothes Exchange and its con- 
comitant branches may be but one-fourth Jews, 
more than half of the remainder being Irish 
people, the householders or shopkeepers of the 
locality, when capital is needed, are generally 

It must be borne in mind that, in describing 
Petticoat-lane, I have described it as seen on a 
fine sammer's day, when the business is at its 
height. Until an hour or two after midday the 
district is quiet, and on very rainy days its aspect 
is sufficiently lamenUible, for then it appears 
actually deserted. Perhaps on a winter's Saturday 
night — as the Jewish Sablj^th terminates at sun- 
set — the scene may be the most striking of all. 
The flaring lights from uncovered gas, from fat- 
fed lamps, from the paper-shaded candles, and the 
many ways in which the poorer street- folk throw 
some illumination over their goods, produce a 
multiplicity of lights and shadows, which, thrown 
and blended over the old clothes hanging up along 
the line of street, cause them to assume mysterious 
forms, and if the wind be high make them, as they 
are blown to and fro, look more mysterious still. 

On one of my visits to Petticoat-lane I saw 
two foreign Jews — from Smyrna I was informed. 
An old street-seller told mc Le believed it was 
their first visit to the district. But, new as the 
scene might be to them, they looked on impas- 
sively at all they saw. They wore the handsome 
and peculiar dresses of their country. A glance 
wu cut after tbcm l)y the Petticoat-lane people. 

but that was all. In the Strand they would have 
attracted considerable attention ; not a few heads 
would have been turned back to gaze after them ; 
but it seems that only to those who may possibly 
be customers is any notice paid in Petticoat-lane. 


Rosemary-lane, which has in vain been re- 
christened Royal Mint-street, is from half to three- 
quarters of a mile long — that is, if we include 
only the portion which runs from the junction of 
Leman and Dock streets (near the London Docks) 
to Sparrow-corner, where it abuts on the Minories. 
Beyond the Leman-street termination of Rose- 
mary-lane, and stretching on into Shadwell, are 
many streets of a similar character as regards the 
street and shop supply of articles to the poor ; 
but as the old clothes trade is only occasionally 
carried on there, I shall here deal with Rosemary- 
lane proper. 

This lane partakes of some of the characteris- 
tics of Petticoat-lane, but without its so strongly 
marked peculiarities. Rosemary-lane is wider and 
airier, the houses on each side are loftier (in se- 
veral parts), and there is an approach to a gin 
palace, a thing unknown in Petticoat-lane: there 
is no room for such a structure there. 

Rosemary-lane, like the quarter I have last 
described, has its off-streets, into which the traffic 
stretches. Some of these off-streets are narrower, 
dirtier, poorer in all respects than Rosemary-lane 
itself, which indeed can hardly be stigmatized as 
very dirty. These are Glasshouse-street, Rus- 
sell-court, Hairbrine-court, Parson's-court, Blue 
Anchor-yard (one of the poorest places and with 
a half-built look), Darby-street, Cartwright-street, 
Peter' s-court, Princes-street, Queen-street, and be- 
yond these and in the direction of the Minories, 
Rosemary-lane becomes Sharp's-buildings and 
Sparrow-corner. There arc other small non- 
thoroughfare courts, sometimes called blind alleys, 
to which no name is attached, but which are very 
well known to the neighbourhood as Union-court, 
&c. ; but as these are not scenes of street-traffic, 
although they may be the abodes of street-traf- 
fickers, they require no especial notice. 

The dwellers in the neighbourhood or the off- 
streets of Rosemary-lane, differ from those of 
Petticoat-lane by the proximity of the former 
place to the Thames. The lodgings here are 
occupied by dredgers, ballast-heavers, coal-whip- 
pers, watermen, lumpers, and others whoso trade 
is connected with the river, as well as the slop- 
workers and sweaters working for the Minories. 
The poverty of these workers compels them to 
lodge wherever the rent of the rooms is the 
lowest. As a few of the wives of the ballast- 
heavers, &c., are street-sellers in or about Rose- 
mary-lane, the locality is often sought by them. 
About Petticoat-lane the off-streets are mostly 
occupied by the old clothes merchants. 

In Rosemary-lane is a greater stredtrade, as 
regards things placed on the ground for retail sale, 
&c., than in Petticoat-lane ; for though the traffic 
in the last-mentioned lano is by far the greatest, 
it la more connected with the shopi, and fewer 



traders wliose dealings are strictly those of the 
street alone resort to it. Rosemary-lane, too, is 
more Irish. There are some cheap lodging-houses 
in the courts, &c., to which the poor Irish flock ; 
and as they are very frequently street-sellers, on 
busy days the quarter abounds with them. At every 
step you hear the Erse tongue, and meet with the 
Irish physiognomy ; Jews and Jewesses are also 
seen in the street, and they abound in the shops. 
The street-traffic does not begin until about one 
o'clock, except as regards the vegetable, fish, and 
oyster-stalls, &c.; but the chief business of this 
lane, which is as inappropriately as that of Petti- 
coat is suitably named, is in the vending of the 
articles which have often been thrown aside as 
refuse, but from which numbers in London wring 
an existence. 

One side of the lane is covered with old boots 
and shoes ; old clothes, both men's, women's, and 
children's ; new lace for edgings, and a variety of 
cheap prints and muslins (also new) ; hats and 
bonnets; pots, and often of the commonest kinds; 
tins ; old knives and forks, old scissors, and old 
metal articles generally ; here and there is a stall 
of cheap bread or American cheese, or what is 
announced as American ; old glass ; diflferent de- 
scriptions of second-hand furniture of the smaller 
size, such as children's chairs, bellows, &c. Mixed 
with these, but only very scantily, are a few bright- 
looking swag-barrows, with china ornaments, toys, 
&c. Some of the wares are spread on the ground 
on wrappers, or pieces of matting or carpet ; and 
some, as the pots, are occasionally placed on straw. 
The cotton prints are often heaped on the ground; 
where are also ranges or heaps of boots and shoes, 
and piles of old clothes, or hats, or umbrellas. 
Other traders place their goods on stalls or bar- 
rows, or over an old chair or clothes-horse. And 
amidst all this motley display the buyers and 
sellers smoke, and shout, and doze, and bargain, 
and wrangle, and eat and drink tea and coffee, 
and sometimes beer. Altogether Rosemary-lane is 
more of a street market than is Petticoat-lane. 

This district, like the one I have first described, 
is infested with young thieves and vagrants from 
the neighbouring lodging-houses, who may be seen 
running about, often bare-footed, bare-necked, and 
shirtless, but " larking " one with another, and 
what may be best understood as " full of fun." 
In what way these lads dispose of their plunder, 
and how their plunder is in any way connected 
with the trade of these parts, I shall show in my 
account of the Thieves. One pickpocket told me 
that there was no person whom he delighted so 
much to steal from as any Petticoat-laner with 
whom he had professional dealings ! 

In Rosemary-lane there is a busy Sunday morn- 
ing trade ; there is a street-trade, also, on the 
Saturday afternoons, but the greater part of the 
shops are then closed, and the Jews do not parti- 
cipate in the commerce until after sunset. 

The two marts I have thus fully described differ 
from all other street-markets, for in these two 
second-hand garments, and second-hand merchan- 
dize generally (although but in a small proportion), 
are the grand staple of the traffic. At the other 

street-markets, the second-hand commerce is the 

Of the Street-Sellers of Men's Second- 
hand Clothes. 
In the following accounts of street-selling, I shall 
not mix up any account of the retailers' modes of 
buying, collecting, repairing, or " restoring" the se- 
cond-hand garments, otherwise than incidentally. I 
have already sketched the systems pursued, and 
more will have to be said concerning them under the 
head of Street-Buyers. Neither have I thought 
it necessary, in the further accounts I have col- 
lected, to confine myself to the trade carried on in 
the Petticoat and Rosemary-lane districts. The 
greater portion relates to those places, but my aim, 
of course, is to give an account which will show 
the character of the second-hand trade of the me- 
tropolis generally. 

" People should remember," said an intelligent 
shoemaker (not a street-seller) with whom I had 
some conversation about cobbling for the streets, 
"that such places as Rosemary- lane have their 
uses this way. But for them a very poor indus- 
trious widow, say, with only 2(Z. or Zd. to spare, 
couldn't get a pair of shoes for her child ; whereas 
now, for 2d. or 3c?., she can get them there, of 
some sort or other. There 's a sort of decency, 
too, in wearing shoes. And what 's more, sir — 
for I 've bought old coats and other clothes in Rose- 
mary-lane, both for my own wear and my family's, 
and know something about it — how is a poor crea- 
ture to get such a decency as a petticoat for a poor 
little girl, if she 'd only a penny, unless there were 
such places T 

In the present state of the very poor, it may be 
that such places as those described have, on the 
principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, 
their benefits. But whether the state of things in 
which an industrious widow, or a host of in- 
dustrious persons, can spare but Id. for a child's 
clothing (and nothing, perhaps, for their own), is 
one to be lauded in a Christian country, is another 
question, fraught with grave political and social 

The man from whom I received the following 
account of the sale of men's wearing apparel was 
apparently between SO-and 40 years of age. His 
face presented something of the Jewish physio- 
gnomy, but he was a Christian, he said, though he 
never had time to go to church or chapel, and 
Sunday was often a busy day ; besides, a man 
must live as others in his way lived. He had 
been connected with the sale of old clothes all 
his life, as were his parents, so that his existence 
had been monotonous enough, for he had never 
been more than five miles, he thought, from 
Whitechapel, the neighbourhood where he was 
born. In winter he liked a concert, and was fond 
of a hand at cribbage, but he didn't care for the 
play. His goods he sometimes spread on the 
ground — at other times he had a stall or a " horse " 

"My customers," he said, "are nearly all 
working people, some of them very poor, and 
with large families. For anything I know, some 



of tbem works with their heads, though, as well, 
and not their hands, for I 've noticed that their 
hands is smallish and seems smoothish, and suits 
a tight sleeve very well. I don't know what 
they are. How should 11 I asks no questions, 
and they '11 tell me no fibs. To such as them I 
sell coats mostly; indeed, very little else. They 're 
often very perticler about the fit, and often asks, 
' Does it look as if it was made for me?' Some- 
times they is seedy, very seedy, and comes to 
such as me, most likely, 'cause we 're cheaper 
than the shops. They don't like to try things on 
in the street, and I can always take a decent 
customer, or one as looks sich, in there, to try on 
(pointing to a coifee-shop). Bob-tailed coats 
(dress-coats) is far the cheapest. I 've sold them 
as low as \s., but not often ; at 2s. and 3^. often 
enough ; and sometimes as high as 5s. Perhaps 
a 8^. or Zs. 6d. coat goes off as well as any, but 
bob-tailed coats is little asked for. Now, I 've 
never had a frock (surtout or frock coat), as well 
as I can remember, under 25. 6d., except one that 
stuck by me a long time, and I sold it at last for 
20d., which was 2d. less than what it cost. It 
was only a poor thing, in course, but it had such 
a rum-coloured velvet collar, that was faded, and 
had had a bit let in, and was all sorts of shades, 
and that hindered its selling, I fancy. Velvet 
collars isn't worn now, and I 'm glad of it. Old 
coats goes better with their own collars (collars of 
the same cloth as the body of the coat). For 
frocks, I 've got as much as 7s. 6d., and cheap at 
it too, sir. Well, perhaps (laughing) at an odd 
time they wasn't so very cheap, but that 's all in 
the way of trade. About 4s. 6d. or 5^. is perhaps 
the ticket that a frock goes off best at. It's 
working people that buys frocks most, and often 
working people's wives or mothers — that is as far 
as I knows. They 're capital judges as to what '11 
fit their men; and if they satisfy me it's all right, 
I 'm always ready to undertake to change it for 
another if it don't fit. 0, no, I never agree to 
give back the money if it don't fit; in course 
not; that wouldn't be business. 

" No, sir, we 're very little troubled with people 
larking. I have had young fellows come, half 
drunk, even though it might be Sunday morning, 
and say, ' Guv'ner, what 'U you give me to wear 
that coat for you, and show off your cutV We 
don't stand much of their nonsense. I don't 
know what such coves are. Perhaps 'torneys' 
joumeymen, or pot-boys out for a Sunday morn- 
ing's spree." [This was said with a bitterness 
that surprised me in so quiet-speaking a man.] 
" Id greatcoats and cloaks I don't do much, but 
it's a very good sale when you can offer them 
well worth the money. I 've got 10s. often for 
a] greatcoat, and higher and lower, oftener 
lower in course ; but lOt. u about the card for a 
good thing. It's the like with cloaks. Paletots 
don't sell well. They're mostly thinner and 
poorer cloth to begin with at the tailors — them 
new-£uhioned named things often is so— and so 
they show when hard worn. Why no, sir, they can 
be done up, certably; anything can be touched 
np; bat they get thio« you see, and there's no- 

thing to work upon as there is in a good cloth 
greatcoat. You '11 excuse me, sir, but I saw you 
a little bit since take one of them there square 
books that a man gives away to people coming 
this way, as if to knock up the second-hand 
business, but he won't, though ; I '11 tell you how 
them slops, if they come more into wear, is sure 
to injure us. If people gets to wear them low- 
figured things, more and more, as they possibly 
may, why where 's the second-hand things to 
come from] I'm not a tailor, but I understands 
about clothes, and I believe that no person ever 
saw anything green in my eye. And if you find 
a slop thing marked a guinea, I don't care what 
it is, but I '11 undertake that you shall get one 
that '11 wear longer, and look better to the very 
last, second-hand, at less than half the money, 
plenty less. It was good stuff and good make at 
first, and hasn't been abused, and that's the 
reason why it always bangs a slop, because it was 
good to begin with. 

" Trousers sells pretty well. I sell them, cloth 
ones, from 6d. up to 4s. They're cheaper if 
they 're not cloth, but very seldom less or so low 
as Qd. Yes, the cloth ones at that is poor worn 
things, and little things too. They 're not men's, 
they're youth's or boy's size. Good strong cords 
goes off very well at Is. and Is. 6d., or higher. 
Irish bricklayers buys them, and paviours, and 
such like. It 's easy to fit a man with a pair of 
second-hand trousers. I can tell by his build 
what '11 fit him directly. Tweeds and summer 
trousers is middling, but washing things sells 
worse and worse. It 's an expense, and expenses 
don't suit my customers — not a bit of it. 

" Waistcoats isn't in no great call. They 're 
often worn very hard under any sort of a tidy 
coat, for a tidy coat can be buttoned over any- 
thing that's ' dicky,' and so, you see, many of 
'em 's half-way to the rag-shop before they comes 
to us. Well, I 'm sure I can hardly say what 
sort of people goes most for weskets " [so he pro- 
nounced it]. "If they're light, or there's any- 
thing ' fancy ' about them, I thinks it 's mothers 
as makes them up for their sons. What with the 
strings at the back and such like, it aint hard to 
make a wesket fit. They 're poor people as 
buys certainly, but genteel people buys such things 
as fancy weskets, or how do you suppose they 'd 
all be got through ] 0, there 's ladies comes here 
for a bargain, I can tell you, and gentlemen, too; 
and many on 'em would go through fire for one. 
Second-hand satins (waistcoats) is good still, but 
they don't fetch the tin they did. I 've sold wes- 
kets from li^c^. to 4s. Well, it's hard to say 
what the three-ha'pennies is made of ; all sorts of 
things ; we calls them ' serge.' Three-pence is a 
common price for a little wesket. There 's no 
under-weskets wanted now, and there 's no rolling 
collars. It was better for us when there was, as 
there was more stuff to work on. The double- 
breasted geU scarcer, too. Fashions grows to be 
cheap things now-a-days. 

" I can't tell you anything about knee-breeches; 
they don't come into my trade, and they 're never 
asked for. Gaitera is no go either. Liveriei isn't 



a street-trade. I fancy all those sort of things 
is sent abroad. I don't know where. Perhaps 
where people doesn't know they was liveries. I 
wouldn't wear an old livery coat, if it was the 
I Queen's, for five bob. I don't think wearing one 
would hinder trade. You may have seen a black 
man in a fine livery giving away bills of a slop in 
Holborn. If we was to have such a thing we 'd 
be pulled up (apprehended) for obstructing. 

" I sells a few children's (children's clothes), 
but only a few, and I can't say so much about 
them. They sells pretty freely though, and to 
very decent people. If they 're good, then they 're 
ready for use. If they ain't anything very prime, 
they can be mended — that is, if they was good to 
begin with. But children's woollen togs is mostly 
hardworn and fit only for the * devil ' (the machine 
which tears them up for shoddy). I 've sold suits, 
which was tunics and trousers, but no weskets, 
for 3*. 6d. when they was tidy. That 's a common 

" Well, really, I hardly know how much I 
make every week ; far too little, I know that. I 
could no more tell you how many coats I sell in a 
year, or how many weskets, than I could tell you 
how many days was fine, and how many wasn't. 
I can carry all in my head, and so I keeps no 
accounts. I know exactly what every single 
thing I sell has cost me. In course I must know 
that. I dare say I may clear about 125. bud 
weeks, and I85. good weeks, more and less both 
ways, and there's more bad weeks than good. I 
have cleared 505. in a good week ; and when it 's 
been nothing but fog and wet, I haven't cleared 
35. 6d, But mine 's a better business than com- 
mon, perhaps. I can't say what others clears ; 
more and less than I does." 

The profit in this trade, from the best informa- 
tion I could obtain, ruus about 50 per cent. 

Of the Street-Sellers op Second-hand ^ 
Boots and Shoes. 
The man who gave me the following account of 
this trade had been familiar with it a good many 
years, fifteen he believed, but Avas by no means 
certain. I saw at his lodgings a man who was 
finishing his day's work there, in cobbling and 
*' translating." He was not in the employ of my 
informant, who had two rooms, or rather a floor ; 
he slept in one and let the other to the " trans- 
lator" who was a relation, he told me, and they 
went on very well together, as he (the street- 
seller) liked to sit and smoke his pipe of a night 
in the translator's room, which was much larger 
than his own ; and sometimes, when times were 
"pretty bobbish," they clubbed together for a 
good supper of tripe, or had a " prime hot Jemmy 
a-piece," with a drop of good beer. A " Jemmy" 
is a baked sheep's head. The room was tidy 
enough, but had the strong odour of shoemaker's 
wax proper to the craft. 

" I 've been in a good many street-trades, and 
others too," said my informant, " since you want 
to know, and for a good purpose as well as I can 
understand it. I was a 'prentice to a shoemaker 
in Northampton, with a lot more ; why, it was 

more like a factory than anything else, was my 
master's, and the place we worked in was so con- 
fined and hot, and we couldn't open the window, 
that it was worse than the East Ingees. 0, I 
know what they is. I 've been there. I was so 
badly treated I ran away from my master, for I 
had only a father, and ho cared nothing about me, 
and so I broke my indentures. After a good bit 
of knocking about and living as I could, and 
starviug when I couldn't, but I never thought of 
going back to Northampton, I 'listed and was a 
good bit in the Ingees. Well, never mind, sir, 
how long, or what happened me when I was 
soldier. I did nothing wrong, and that ain't what 
you was asking about, and I 'd rather say no more 
about it." 

I have met with other street-folk, who had 
been soldiers, and who were fond of talking of 
their " service," often enough to grumble about it, 
so that I am almost tempted to think my in- 
formant had deserted, but I questioned him no 
further on the subject. 

" I had my ups and downs again, sir," he con- 
tinued, " when I got back to England. God bless 
us all ; I 'm very fond of children, but I never 
married, and when I 've been at the worst, I 've 
been really glad that I hadn't no one depending 
on me. It 's bad enough for oneself, but when 
there '3 others as you must love, what must it be 
then 1 1 've smoked a pipe when I was troubled 
in mind, and couldn't get a meal, but could only 
get a pipe, and baccy 's shamefully dear here ; but 
if I 'd had a young daughter now, what good would 
it have been my smoking a pipe to comfort her ? 
I 've seen that in people that 's akin to me, and has 
been badly off, and with families. I had a friend 
or two in London, and I applied to them when I 
couldn't hold out no longer, and they gave me a 
bit of a rise, so I began as a costermonger. I was 
living among them as was in that line. Well, now, 
it 's a pleasant life in fine weather. Why it was 
onlj'- this morning Joe (the translator) was reading 
the paper at breakfast time ; — he gets it from the 
public-house, and if it 's two, three, or four day's 
old, it 's just as good for us ; — and there was 
10,000 pines had been received from the West 
Ingees. There 's a chance for the costermongers, 
says I, if they don't go off too dear. Then cherries 
is in ; and I was beginning to wish I was a 
costermonger myself still, but my present trade is 
surer. My boots and shoes '11 keep. They don't 
spoil in hot weather. Cherries and strawberries 
does, and if it comes thunder and wet, you can't 
sell. I worked a barrow, and sometimes had only 
a bit of a pitch, for a matter of two year, perhaps, 
and then I got into this trade, as I understood it. 
I sells all sorts, but not so much women's or 

" Why, as to prices, there 's two sorts of prices. 
You may sell as you buy, or you may sell new 
soled and heeled. They 're never new welted for 
the streets. It wouldn't pay a bit. Not long 
since I had a pair of very good Oxonians that had 
been new Avclted, and the very first day I had 
them on sale — it was a dull drizzly day — a lad 
tried to prig them. I just caught him in time. 



Did I give him in charge 1 I hope I 've more sense. 
I 've been robbed before, and I 've caught young 
rips in the act If it 's boots or shoes they 've 
tried to prig, I gives them a stirruping with which- 
ever it is, and a kick, and lets them go." 

" Men's shoes, the regular sort, isn't a very 
good sale. I get from lOrf. to is. 6d. a pair ; but 
the high priced 'uns is either soled and heeled, 
and mudded well, or they 've been real Avell-made 
things, and not much worn. I 've had gentle- 
men's shooting-shoes sometimes, that 's flung aside 
for the least thing. The plain shoes don't go off 
at all. I think people likes something to cover 
their stocking-feet more. For cloth button-boots 
I get from Is. — that's the lowest I ever sold at — 
to 2s. 6d, The price is according to what condi- 
tion the things is in, and what 's been done to 
them, but there 's no regular price. They 're not 
such good sale as they would be, because they 
soon show worn. The black ' legs ' gets to look 
very seamy, and it 's a sort of boot that won't 
stand much knocking about, if it ain't right well 
made at first. I 've been selling Oxonian button- 
overs (* Oxonian ' shoes, which cover the instep, 
and are closed by being buttoned instead of being 
stringed through four or five holes) at 35. 6d. and 
4j. but they was really good, and soled and 
heeled ; others I sell at Is. 6<l. to 2^. 3rf. or 
2a. 6d. Bluchers is from Is. to 3^. 6d. Welling- 
tons from 1*. — yes, indeed, I 've had them as low 
as 1*., and perhaps they weren't very cheap at 
that, them very low-priced things never is, neither 
new nor old — from Is. to 5s. ; but Wellingtons is 
more for the shops than the street. I do a little 
in children's boots and shoes. I sell them from 
Zd. to 15d. Yes, you can buy lower than Zd., 
but I 'm not in that way. They sell quite as 
qaick, or quicker, than anything, I 've sold 
children's boots to poor women that wanted shoe- 
ing fur worse than the child ; aye, many a time, 
air. Top boots (they 're called * Jockeys ' in the 
trade) isn't sold in the streets. I 've never had 
any, and I don't see them with others in my line. 
no, there 's no such thing as Hessians or back- 
straps (a top-boot without the light-coloured top) 
in my trade now. Yes, I always have a seat 
bandy where anybody can try on anything in the 
itreet ; no, sir, no boot-hooks nor shoe-horn ; shoe- 
horns is rather going out, I think. If what we 
■ell in the streets won't go on without them they 
won't be sold at all. A good many will buy if 
the thing's only big enough— they can't bear 
pinching, and don't much care for a fine fit 

" Well, I suppose I take from ZOs. to 40». a 
week, lis. is about my profit — that 'a as to the 
year through. 

"I sell little for women's wear, though I do sell 
their boots and shoes sometimes." 

Or THB Strxst-Sili.kb8 or Old Hats. 
Thb two street-sellers of old coats, waistcoats, 
and trousers, and of boots and shoes, whose state- 
ments precede this account, confined their trade, 
generally, to the second-hand merchandize I 
nave mentioned as more especially constituting 
their stock. But this arrangement does not 

wholly prevail. There are many street-traders 
"in second-hand," perhaps two-thirds of the whole 
number, who sell indiscriminately anything which 
they can buy, or what they hope to turn out an 
advantage ; but even they prefer to deal more in 
one particular kind of merchandize than another, 
and this is most of all the case as concerns tho 
street-sale of old boots and shoes. Hats, how- 
ever, are among the second-hand wares which the 
street-seller rarely vends unconnected with other 
stock. I was told that this might be owing to the 
hats sold in the streets being usually suitable only 
for one class, grown men ; while clothes and boots 
and shoes are for boys as well as men. Caps may 
supersede the use of hats, but nothing can super- 
sede the use of boots or shoes, which form the 
steadiest second-hand street-trade of any. 

There are, however, occasions, when a street- 
seller exerts himself to become possessed of a 
cheap stock of hats, by the well-known process of 
*' taking a quantity," and sells them without, or 
with but a small admixture of other goods. One 
man who had been lately so occupied, gave me 
the following account. He was of Irish parentage, 
but there was little distinctive in his accent : — 

" Hats," he said, " are about the awkwardest 
things of any for the streets. Do as you will, 
they require a deal of room, so that what you '11 
mostly see isn't hats quite ready to put on your 
head and walk away in. but to be made ready. 
I 've sold hats that way though, I mean ready to 
wear, and my father before nie has sold hundreds 
— yes, I 've been in the trade all my life — and it 's 
the best way for a profit. You get, perhaps, the 
old hat in, or you buy it at \d. or 2d. as may be, 
and so you kill two birds. But there 's very little 
of that trade except on Saturday nights or Sunday 
mornings. People wants a decent tile for Sundays 
and don't care for work-days. I never hawks 
hats, but I sells to those as do. My customers for 
hats are mechanics, with an odd clerk or two. 
Yes, indeed, I sell hats now and then to my own 
countrymen to go decent to mass in. I go to 
mass myself as often as I can ; sometimes I go to 
vespers. No, the Irish in this trade ain't so good 
in going to chapel as they ought, but it tjikes such 
a time ; not just while you 're there, but in shaving, 
and washing, and getting ready. My wife helps 
me in selling second-hand things ; she 's a better 
hand than I am. I have two boys; they're 
young yet, and I don't know what we shall bring 
them up to ; perhaps to our own business ; and 
children seems to fall naturally into it, I think, 
when their fathers and mothers is in it. They 're 
at school now. 

" I have sold hats from M. to 3*. 6(Z., but very 
seldom Zs. 6d. The Zs. 6d. ones would wear out 
two new gossamers, I know. It 's seldom you 
see beaver hats in the street-trade now, they 're 
nearly all silk. They say the beavers have got 
scarce in foreign parts where they 're caught. I 
haven't an idea how many hats I sell in a year, 
for I don't stick to hats, you see, sir, but I like 
doing in them as well or better than in anything 
else. Sometimes I 've sold nothing but hats for 
weeks together, wholesale and retail that is. It's 

D 8 



only the regular-shaped hats I can sell. If you 
oflfer swells' hats, people '11 say : ' I may as well 
buy a new " wide-awake " at once.' I have made 
2O5. in a week on hats alone. But if I confined 
my trade to them now, I don't suppose I could 
clear 55. one week with another the year through. 
It 's only the hawkers that can sell them in wet 
weather. I wish we could sell under cover in all 
the places where there 's what you call ' street- 
markets.' It would save poor people that lives 
by the street many a twopence by their things 
not being spoiled, and by people not heeding the 
rain to go and examine them." 

Of the Street-Sellers op Women's Second- 
hand Apparel. 
This trade, as regards the sale to retail cus- 
tomers in the streets, is almost entirely in the 
hands of women, seven-eighths of whom are the 
wives, relatives, or connections of the men who 
deal in second-hand male apparel. But gowns, 
cloaks, bonnets, &c., are collected more largely by 
men than by women, and the wholesale old 
clothes' merchants of course deal in every sort of 
habiliment. Petticoat and Rosemary-lanes are the 
grand marts for this street-sale, but in Whitecross- 
street, Leather-lane, Old-street (St. Luke's), and 
some similar Saturday-night markets in poor 
neighbourhoods, women's second-hand apparel is 
sometimes offered. " It is often of little use offer- 
ing it in the latter places," I was told by a lace- 
seller who had sometimes tried to do business in 
second-hand shawls and cloaks, " because you are 
sure to hear, * Oh, we can get them far cheaper in 
Petticoat-lane, when we like to go as far.' " 

The different portions of female dress are shown 
and sold in the street, as I have described in my 
account of Rosemary-lane, and of the trading of 
the men selling second-hand male apparel. There 
is not so much attention paid to " set off" gowns 
that there is to set off coats. " If the gown be a 
washing gown," I was informed, "it is sure to 
have to be washed before it can be worn, and so 
it is no use bothering with it, and paying for 
soap and labour beforehand. If it be woollen, or 
some stuff that wont wash, it has almost always 
to be altered before it is worn, and so it is no 
use doing it up perhaps to be altered again." 
Silk goods, however, are carefully enough re- 
glossed and repaired. Most of the others "just 
take their chance." 

A good-looking Irishwoman gave me the follow- 
ing account. She had come to London and had 
been a few years in service, where she saved a little 
money, when she married a cousin, but in what 
degree of cousinship she did not know. She 
then took part in his avocation as a crockman, 
and subsequently as a street-seller of second-hand 

" Why, yis, thin and indeed, sir," she said, " I 
did feel rather quare in my new trade, going about 
from house to house, the Commercial-road and 
Stepney way, but I soon got not to mind, and 
indeed thin it don't matter much what way one 
gets one's living, so long as it '& honest. 0, yis, 
I know there 'a goings on in old clothes that isn't 

always honest, but my husband's a fair dealing 
man. I felt quarer, too, whin I had to sell in the 
strate, but I soon got used to that, too ; and it 's 
not such slavish work as the 'crocks.' But we 
sometimes ' crocks ' in the mornings a little still, 
and sells in the evenings. No, not what we 've 
collected — for that goes to Mr. Isaac's market 
almost always — but stock that 's ready for wear. 

" For Cotton Gowns I 've got from ^d. to 
2s. Zd. 0, yis, and indeed thin, there 's gowns 
chaper, id. and 6(/., but there's nothing to be got 
out of them, and we don't sell them. From 9ci. 
to \%d. is the commonest price. It's poor people 
as buys : 0, yis, and indeed thin it is, thim as 
has families, and must look about thim. Many '• 
the poor woman that 's said to me, ' Well, and 
indeed, marm, it isn't ray inclination to chapen 
anybody as I thinks is fair, and I was brought up 
quite different to buying old gowns, I assure you' 
— yis, that 's often said ; no, sir, it isn't my coun- 
trywomen that says it (laughing), it 's yours. * I 
wouldn't think,' says she, * of offering you \d. less 
than Is., marm, for that frock for my daughter, 
marm, but it 's such a hard fight to live.' Och, 
thin, and it is indeed ; but to hear some of them 
talk you'd think they was born ladies. Stuff- 
gowns is from 2d. to 8c?. higher than cotton, but 
ihey don't sell near so well. I hardly know why. 
Cotton washes, and if a dacent woman gets a 
chape second-hand cotton, she washes and does it 
up, and it seems to come to her fresh and new. 
That can't be done with stuff. *SV/^- is very little 
in my way, but silk gowns sell from 3s. Qd. to 43. 
Of satin and velvet gowns I can tell you no- 
thing ; they 're never in the streets. 

" Second-Iutnd Bonnets is a very poor sale — 
very. The milliners, poor craitchers, as makes 
them up and sells them in the strate, has the 
greatest sale, but they makes very little by it. 
Their bonnets looks new, you see, sir, and close 
and nice for poor women. I 've sold bonnets from 
Qd. to 3s. &d., and some of them cost 3^. But 
whin they git faded and out of fashion, they 're 
of no vally at all at all. Shawls is a very little 
sale ; very little. I 've got from Qd. to 2s. Qd. 
for them. Plaid shawls is as good as any, at 
about Is. Qd. ; but they 're a winter trade. Cloaks 
(they are what in the dress-making trade are called 
mantles) isn't much of a call. I 've had them 
from Is. Qd. as high as 7s. — but only once 
7s., and it was good silk. They 're not a sort 
of wear that suits poor people. Will and 
indeed thin, I hardly know who buys them 
second-hand. Perhaps bad women buys a few, 
or they get men to buy them for them. I think 
your misses don't buy much second-hand thin in 
gineral ; the less the better, the likes of them ; 
yis, indeed, sir. Stays I don't sell, but you can 
buy them from 2>d. to 15d. ; it's a small trade. 
And I don't sell Under Clothing, or only now and 
thin, except Children's. Dear me, I can hardly 
tell the prices I get for the poor little things' 
dress— I 've a little giil myself — the prices vary 
so, just as the frocks and other things is made for 
big children or little, and what they 're made of. 
I 've sold frocks — they sell best on Saturday and 



Monday nights — from 2d. to Is. 6d. Little pet- 
ticoats is Id. to Sd. ; shifts is Id. and 2d., and so 
is little shirts. If thej wasn't so low there would 
be more rags than there is, and sure there's 

" Will, thin and indeed, I don't know what we 
make in a week, and if I did, why should I tell 1 
0, yes, sir, I know from the gentleman that sent 
you to me that you 're asking for a good purpose : 
yis, indeed, thin ; but I ralely can't say. "We do 
pritty well, God's name be praised ! Perhaps a 
good second-hand gown trade and such like is 
worth from 10s. to 15s. a week, and nearer 15s. 
than 10*. ivery week; but that's a, good second- 
hand trade you understand, sir. A poor trade 's 
about half that, perhaps. But thin my husband 
sells men's wear as well. Yis, indeed, and I find 
time to go to mass, and I soon got my husband to 
go after we was married, for he'd got to neglect it, 
Grod be praised ; and what 's all you can get here 
compared to making your sowl " [saving your soul 
— making your soul is not an uncommon phrase 
among some of the Irish people]. " Och, and 

indeed thin, sir, if you 've met Father , you 've 

met a good gintleman." 

Of the street-selling of women and children's 
secondhand boots and s/ioes, I need say but little, 
a* they form part of the stock of the men's ware, 
and are sold by the same men, not unfrequently 
assisted by their wives. The best sale is for black 
cloth boots, whether laced or buttoned, but the 
prices run only from 5d. to Is. 9d. If the " legs" 
of a second-hand pair be good, they are worth 5d., 
no matter what the leather portion, including the 
soles, may be. Coloured boots sell very in- 
differently. Children's boots and shoes are sold 
from 2d. to 15<^. 

Of THB Stbkbt-Sellebs OF Secojtd-hakd 


Of furs the street-sale is prompt enough, or used 
to be prompt ; but not so much so, I am told, 
last season, as formerly. A fur tippet is readily 
bought for the sake of warmth by women who 
thrive pretty well in the keeping of coffee-stalls, 
or any calling which requires attendance during 
the night, or in the chilliness of early morning, 
even in summer, by those who go out at early 
hours to their work. By such persons a big tip- 
pet is readily bought when the money is not an 
impediment, and to many it if a strong recom- 
mendation, that when new, the tippet, most 
likely, waa worn by a real lady. So I was 
aHured by a person familiar with the trade. 

One female street seller had three stalls or 
stands in the New Cut (when it was a great street 
market), about two years back, and all for the 
•tie of Mcond'hand furs. She has now a small 
•bop in seeond-hand wearing apparel (women's) 
Moiamlly, furs being of course included. The 
MMUMM carried on in the street (almost always 
" the Cut ") by the fur-seller in question, who was 
both indDstrions and respectable, was very con- 
siderable. On a Monday she has not unfrequently 
taken IL, ooe^alf of^ which, indeed more than 

half, was profit, for the street-seller bought in the 
summer, when furs " were no money at all," and 
sold in the winter, when they " were really tin, 
and no mistake." Before the season began, she 
sometimes had a small room nearly full of furs. 

This trade is less confined to Petticoat-lane and 
the old clothes district, as regards the supply to 
retail customers, than is anything else connected 
with dress. But the fur trade is now small. The 
money, prudence, and forethought necessary to 
enable a fur-seller to buy in the summer, for 
ample profit in the winter, as regards street-trade, 
is not in accordance with the habits of the general 
run of street-sellers, who think but of the present, 
or hardly think even of that. 

The old furs,"like all the other old articles of 
wearing apparel, whether garbs of what may be 
accounted primary necessaries, as shoes, or mere 
comforts or adornments, as boas or muffs, are 
bought in the first instance at the Old Clothes 
Exchange, and so find their way to the street- 
sellers. The exceptions as to this first transaction 
in the trade I now speak of, are very trifling, and, 
perhaps, more trifling than in other articles, for 
one great supply of furs, I am informed, is from 
their being swopped in the spring and summer for 
flowers with the " root-sellers," who carry them to 
the Exchange. 

Last winter there were sometimes as many as 
ten persons — three-fourths of the number of second- 
hand fur sellers, which fluctuates, being women — 
with fur-stands. They frequent the street-markets 
on the Saturday and Monday nights, not confining 
themselves to any one market in particular. The 
best sale is for Ftcr Tippets, and chiefly of the 
darker colours. These are bought, one of the 
dealers informed me, frequently by maid-servants, 
who could run of errands in them in the dark, or 
wear them in wet weather. They are sold from 
Is. Qd. to 4s. 6^., about 28. or 2s. Qd. being a 
common charge. Children's tippets " go oflF well," 
from Qd. to Is. Zd. Boas are not vended to half 
the extent of tippets, although they are lower- 
priced, one of tolerably good gray squirrel being 
Is. Qd. The reason of the difference in the demand 
is that boas arc as much an ornament as a garment, 
while the tippet answers the purpose of a shawl. 
Muffs are not at all vendible in the streets, the 
few that are disposed of being principally for child- 
ren. As muffs are not generally used by maid- 
servants, or by the families of the working classes, 
the absence of demand in the second-hand traffic 
is easily accounted for. They are bought some- 
times to cut up for other purposes. Viclorines 
are disposed of readily enough at from Is. to 2*. dd., 
as are Cuff's, from id. to 8d. 

One man, who told me that a few years since he 
and his wife used to sell second-hand furs in the 
street, was of opinion that his best customers were 
women of the town, who were tolerably well- 
dressed, and who required some further protection 
from the night air. He could readily sell any 
" tidy" article, tippet, boa, or muff, to those females, 
if they had from 2s. 6d. to 6*. at command. He 
had so sold them in Clare-market, in Tottenham- 
court-road, and the BrilL 



Op the Second-Hand Sellers of Smithpield- 


No small part of the second-hand trade of Lon- 
don is ciirried on in the market-place of Smithfield, 
on the Friday afternoons. Here is a mart for 
almost everj-thing which is required for the har- 
nessing of beasts of draught, or is required for 
any means of propulsion or locomotion, either as a 
whole vehicle, or in its several parts, needed by 
street-traders : also of the machines, vessels, scales, 
weights, measures, baskets, stands, and all other 
appliances of street-trade. 

The scene is animated and peculiar. Apart 
from the horse, ass, and goat trade (of which I 
shall give an account hereafter), it is a grand 
Second-hand Costermongers' Exchange. The 
trade is not confined to that large body, though 
they are the principal merchants, but includes 
greengrocers (often the costermonger in a shop), 
carmen, and others. It is, moreover, a favourite 
resort of the purveyors of street-provisions and 
beverages, of street dainties and luxuries. Of 
this class some of the most prosperous are those 
who are " well known in Smithfield." 

The space devoted to this second-hand com- 
merce and its accompaniments, runs from St. 
Bartholomew's Hospital towards Long-lane, but 
isolated peripatetic traders are found in all parts 
of the space not devoted to the exhibition of cattle 
or of horses. The crowd on the day of my visit 
was considerable, but from several I heard the 
not-alwa3's-very- veracious remarks of " Nothing 
doing" and " There 's nobody at all here to-day." 
The weather was sultry, and at every few yards 
arose the cry from men and boys, " Ginger-beer, 
ha'penny a glass ! Ha'penny a glass," or " Iced 
lemonade here ! Iced raspberriade, as cold as ice, 
ha'penny a glass, only a ha'penny ! " A boy was 
elevated on a board at the end of a splendid affair 
of this kind. It was a square built vehicle, the 
top being about 7 feet by 4, and flat and sur- 
mounted by the lemonade fountain ; long, narrow, 
champagne glasses, holding a raspberry coloured 
liquid, frothed up exceedingly, were ranged round, 
and the beverage dispensed by a woman, the 
mother or employer of the boy who was bawling. 
The sides of the machine, which stood on wheels, 
were a bright, shiny blue, and on them sprawled 
the lion and unicorn in gorgeous heraldry, yellow 
and gold, the artist being, according to a pro- 
minent announcement, a " herald painter." The 
apparatus was handsome, but with that exaggera- 
tion of handsomeness which attracts the high and 
low vulgar, who cannot distinguish between gaudi- 
ness and beauty. The sale was brisk. The 
ginger-beer sold in the market was generally dis- 
pensed from carts, and here I noticed, what 
occurs yearly in street-commerce, an innovation on 
the established system of the trade. Several 
sellers disposed of their ginger-beer in clear glass 
bottles, somewhat larger and fuller-necked than 
those introduced by M. Soyer for the sale of liis 
"nectar," and the liquid was drank out of the 
bottle the moment the cork was undrawn, and so 
the necessity of a glass was obviated. 

Near the herald-fyainter's work, of which I 
have just spoken, stood a very humble stall on 
which were loaves of bread, and round the loaves 
were pieces of fried fish and slices of bread on 
plates, all remarkably clean. " Oysters ! Peuny-a 
lot ! Penny-a-lot, oysters ! " was the cry, the 
most frequently heard after that of ginger-beer, 
&c. " Cherries ! Twopence a-pound ! Penny-a 
pound, cherries!" "Fruit-pies! Try my fruit- 
pies ! " The most famous dealer in all kinds of 
penny pies is, however, not a pedestrian, but an 
equestrian hawker. He drives a very smart, 
handsome pie-cart, sitting behind after the manner 
of the Hansom cabmen, the lifting up of a lid 
below his knees displaying his large stock of pies. 
His " drag" is whisked along rapidly by a brisk 
chestnut ponej', Avell-harnessed. The " whole set 
out," I was informed, poney included, cost 60^. 
when new. The proprietor is a keen Chartist and 
teetotaller, and loses no opportunity to inculcate 
to his customers the excellence of teetotalism, as 
well as of his pies. " Milk ! ha'penny a pint ! 
ha'penny a pint, good milk!" is another cry. 
"Raspberry cream ! Iced raspberrj'-cream, ha'penny 
a glass ! " This street-seller had a capital trade. 
Street-ices, or rather ice-creams, were somewhat of 
a failure last year, more especially in Greenwich- 
park, but this year they seem likely to succeed. 
The Smithfield man sold them in very small 
glasses, which he merely dipped into a vessel at 
his feet, and so filled them with the cream. The 
consumers had to use their fingers instead of a 
spoon, and no few seemed puzzled how to eat their 
ice, and were grievously troubled by its getting 
among their teeth. I heard one drover mutter 
that he felt " as if it had snowed in his belly • " 
Perhaps at Smithfield-market on the Friday after- 
noons every street-trade in eatables and drinkables 
has its representative, with the exception of such 
things as sweet-stuff, curds and whey, &c., which 
are bought chiefly by women and children. There 
were plum-dough, plum-cake, pastry, pea-soup, 
whelks, periwinkles, ham-sandwiches, hot-eels, 
oranges, &c., &c., &c. 

These things are the usual accompaniment of 
street-markets, and I now come to the subject 
matter of the work, the sale of second-hand 

In this trade, since the introduction of a new 
arrangement two months ago, there has been a 
great change. The vendors are not allowed to 
vend barrows in the market, unless indeed with a 
poney or donkey harnessed to them, or unless 
they are wheeled about by the owner, and they 
are not allowed to spread their wares on the 
ground. When it is considered of what those 
wares are composed, the awkwardness of the 
arrangement, to the sales-people, may be under- 
stood. They consist of second-hand collars, pads, 
saddles, bridles, bits, traces, every description of 
worn harness, whole or in parts ; the wheels, 
springs, axles, &c., of barrows and carts ; the 
beams, chains, and bodies of scales ; — these, per- 
haps, are the chief things which are sold sepa- 
rately, as parts of a whole. The traders have now 
no other option but to carry them as they best 




can, and offer them for sale. You saw men who 
reitUy appear clad in harness. Portions were 
fastened round their bodies, collars slung on their 
arms, pads or small cart-saddles,' with their shaft- 
gear, were planted on their shoulders. Some 
carried merely a collar, or a harness bridle, 
or even a bit or a pair of spurs. It was the 
same with the springs, &c., of the barrows 
and small carts. They were carried under 
men's arms, or poised on their shoulders. The 
wheels and other things which are too heavy 
for such modes of transport had to be placed in 
some sort of vehicle, and in the vehicles might be 
seen trestles, &c 

The complaints on the part of the second-hand 
sellers were neither few nor mild : " If it had 
been a fat ox that had to be accommodated," said 
one, " before he was roasted for an alderman, 
they *d have found some way to do it. But it 
don't matter for poor men ; though why we 
shouldn't be suited with a market as well as 
richer people is not the ticket, that 's the fact." 

These arrangements are already beginning to be 
infringed, and will be more and more infringed, j 
for such is always the case. The reason why they 
were adopted was that the ground was so littered, 
that there was not room for the donkey traffic and 

other requirements of the market. The donkeys, 
when " shown," under the old arrangement, often 
trod on boards of old metal, &c., spread on the 
ground, and tripped, sometimes to their injury, in 
consequence. Prior to the change, about twenty 
persons used to come from Petticoat-lane, &c., and 
spread their old metal or other stores on the 

Of these there are now none. These Petticoat- 
laners, I was told by a Smithfield frequenter, 
were men " who knew the price of old rags," — a 
new phrase expressive of their knowingness and 
keenness in trade. 

The statistics of this trade will be found under 
that head ; the prices are often much higher and 
much lower. I speak of the regular trades. I 
have not included the sale of the superior butchers' 
carts, &c., as that is a traffic not in the hands of 
the regular second-hand street-sellers. I have not 
thought it requisite to speak of the hawking 
of whips, sticks, wash-leathers, brushes, curry- 
combs, &c., &c., of which I have already treated 

The accounts of the Capital and Income of the 
Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles I am 
obliged to defer till a future occasion. 


Thb live animals sold in the streets include beasts, I 
birds, fish, and reptiles, all sold in the streets of 

The class of men carrying on this business — for ! 
they are nearly all men — is mixed ; but the ma- 1 
jority are of a half-sporting and half-vagrant kind. 
One informant told me that the bird-catchers, for 
instance, when young, as more than three-fourths 
of them are, were those who " liked to be after a 
loose end," first catching their birds, as a sort of 
■porting business, and then sometimes selling them 
in the streets, but far more frequently disposing of 
them in the bird-shops. " Some of these boys," 
a bird-seller in a large way of business said to me, 
"used to become rat-catchers or dog-sellers, but 
there 's not such great openings in the rat and dog 
line DOW. As far as I know, they 're the same 
lads, or just the same sort of lads, anyhow, as you 
may see ' helping/ holding horses, or things like 
that, at concerns like them small races at Peck- 
ham or Chalk Farm, or helping any way at the 
foot-races at Camberwell." There is in this bird- 
catching a strong manifestation of the vagrant 
spirit. To rise long before daybreak ; to walk 
some mile* before daybreak ; from the earliest 
dawn to wait in some field, or common, or wood, 
watching the capture of the birds ; then a long 
trudge to town to dispose of the fluttering cap- 
tives ; all this is done cheerfully, because there are 
about it the irresistible charms, to this class, of 
excitement, variety, and free and open-air life. 
Nor do these charms appear one whit weakened 
when, as happens often enough, all this early mom 
boaineat is earriad on fiwtiog. 

The old men in the bird-catching business are 
not to be ranked as to their enjoyment of it with 
the juveniles, for these old men are sometimes 
infirm, and can but, as one of them said to me 
some time ago, " hobble about it." But they have 
the same spirit, or the sparks of it. And in this 
part of the trade is one of the curious character- 
istics of a street-life, or rather of an open-air 
pursuit for the requirements of a street-trade. A 
man, worn out for other purposes, incapable of 
anything but a passive, or sort of lazy labour — 
such as lying in a field and watching the action of 
his trap-cages — will yet in a summer's morning, 
decrepid as he may be, possess himself of a dozen 
or even a score of the very freest and most aspir- 
ing of all our English small birds, a creature of the 
air beyond other birds of his " order " — to use an 
ornithological term — of sky-larks. 

The dog-sellers are of a sporting, trading, 
idling class. Their sport is now the rat-hunt, or 
the ferret-match, or the dog-fight ; as it was with 
the predecessors of their stamp, the cock-fight; 
the bull, bear, and badger bait ; the shrove-tide 
cock-shy, or the duck hunt. Their trading spirit 
is akin to that of the higher-class sporting frater- 
nity, the trading members of the turf. They love 
to sell and to bargain, always with a quiet exulta- 
tion at the time — a matter of loud tavern boast 
afterwards, perhaps, as respects the street-folk — 
how they " do" a customer, or " do" one another. 
" It 's not cheating," was the remark and apology 
of a very famous jockey of the old times, touching 
such measures; "it's not cheating, it's outwit- 
ting." Perhapt^tbis ezpreMcs the code of honesty 



of such traders ; not to cheat, but to outwit or 
over-reach. Mixed with such traders, however, 
are found a few quiet, plodding, fair-dealing men, 
whom it is difficult to classify, otherwise than that 
they are "in the line, just because they likes it." 
The idling of these street-sellers is a part of their 
business. To walk by the hour up and down a 
street, and with no manual labour except to clean 
their dogs' kennels, and to carry them in their 
arms, is but an idleness, although, as some of these 
men will tell you, " they work hard at it." 

Under the respective heads of dog and bird- 
sellers, I shall give more detailed characteristics of 
the class, as well as of the varying qualities and 
inducements of the buyers. 

The street-sellers of foreign birds, such as par- 
rots, parroquets, and cockatoos ; of gold and silver 
fish ; of goats, tortoises, rabbits, leverets, hedge- 
hogs ; and the collectors of snails, worms, frogs, 
and toads, are also a mixed body. Foreigners, 
Jews, seamen, countrymen, costermongers, and 
boys form a part, and of them I shall give a de- 
scription under the several heads. The promi- 
nently-characterized street-sellers are the traders 
in dogs and birds. 

Of the former Street-Sellers, " Fikders," 

Stealers, and Restorers of Dogs. 
Before I describe the present condition of the 
street-trade in dogs, which is principally in 
spaniels, or in the description well known as lap- 
dogs, I will give an account of the former condi- 
tion of the trade, if trade it can properly be 
called, for the " finders " and " stealers " of dogs 
were the more especial subjects of a parlia- 
mentary inquiry, from which I derive the official 
information on the matter. The Report of the 
Committee was ordered by the House of Com- 
mons to be printed, July 26, 1844. 

In their Report the Committee observe, con- 
cerning the value of pet dogs : — " From the evi- 
dence of various witnesses it appears, that in one 
case a spaniel was sold for 105/., and in another, 
under a sheriff's execution, for 95/. at the hammer; 
and 50/. or 60/. are not unfrequently given for 
fancy dogs of first-rate breed and beauty." The 
hundred guineas' dog above alluded to was a 
" black and tan King Charles's spaniel ;" — indeed, 
Mr. Dowling, the editor of BelUs Life in London, 
said, in his evidence before the Committee, " I 
have known as much as 150/. given for a dog." 
He said afterwards : " There are certain marks 
about the eyes and otherwise, which are con- 
sidered * properties ;' and it depends entirely upon 
the property which a dog possesses as to its 

I need not dwell on the general fondness of the 
English for dogs, otherwise than as regards what 
were the grand objects of the dog-finders' search 
— ladies' small spaniels and lap-dogs, or, as they 
are sometimes called, "carriage-dogs," by their 
being the companions of ladies inside their car- 
riages. These animals first became fashionable 
by the fondness of Charles II. for them. That 
monarch allowed them undisturbed possession of 
the gilded chairs in his palace of Whitehall, and 

seldom took his accustomed walk in the park with- 
out a tribe of them at his heels. So " fashionable " 
were spaniels at that time and afterwards, that in 
1712 Pope made the chief of all his sylphs and 
sylphides the guard of a lady's lapdog. The 
fashion has long continued, and still continues ; 
and it was on this fashionable fondness for a toy, 
and on the regard of many others for the noble 
and affectionate qualities of the dog, that a traffic 
was established in London, which became so ex- 
tensive and so lucrative, that the legislature inter- 
fered, in 1844, for the purpose of checking it. 

I cannot better show the extent and lucra- 
tiveness of this trade, than by citing a list which 
one of the witnesses before Parliament, Mr. W. 
Bishop, a gunmaker, delivered in to the Com- 
mittee, of *' cases in which money had recently 
been extorted from the owners of dogs by dog- 
stealers and their confederates." There is no ex- 
planation of the space of time included under the 
vague term " recently ;" but the return shows that 
151 ladies and gentlemen had been the victims of 
the dog-stealers or dog-finders, for in this business 
the words were, and still are to a degree, syno- 
nymes, and of these 62 had been so victimized 
in 1843 and in the six months of 1844, from 
January to July. The total amount shown 
by Mr. Bishop to have been paid for the 
restoration of stolen dogs was 977/. 4s. Qd., or an 
average of 6/. IO5. per individual practised upon. 
This large sum, it is stated on the authority of 
the Committee, was only that which came within 
Mr. Bishop's knowledge, and formed, perhaps, 
" but a tenth part in amount" of the whole extor- 
tion. Mr. Bishop was himself in the habit of 
doing business "in obtaining the restitution of 
dogs," and had once known 18/. — the dog-stealers 
asked 25/. — given for the restitution of a spaniel. 
The full amount realized by this dog-stealing was, 
according to the above proportion, 9772/. bs. In 
1843, 227/. 35. 6c/. was so realized, and 
97/. 14s. Qd. in the six months of 1844, within 
Mr. Bishop's personal knowledge ; and if this be 
likewise a tenth of the whole of the commerce 
in this line, a year's business, it appears, averaged 
2166/. to the stealers or finders of dogs. I select 
a few names from the list of those robbed of dogs, 
either from the amount paid, or because the names 
are well known. The first payment cited is from 
a public board, who owned a dog in their corporate 
capacity : 

£ s. d. 
Board of Green Cloth . .800 
Hon. W. Ashley (v. t.*) . . 15 
Sir F. Burdett . . .660 

Colonel Udney (v. t.) . . 12 
Duke of Cambridge . . 30 i 

Count Kielmansegge . .900 

Mr. Orby Hunter (v. t.) . . 15 
Mrs. Holmes (v. t.) . . . 50 
Sir Richard Phillips (v. t.) . 20 

The French Amdassador . . 1 11 6 
Sir R. Peel . . . .200 
Edw. Morris, Esq. . . . 17 

* "v. t." signifies " various times," of theft and of 
" restoration." 



































Mr*. Bam (v. t.) 

Duchess of Sutherland 

Wyndham Bruce, Esq. (v. t.) 

Capt, Alexander (v. t) 

Sir De Lacy Evans . 

Judge Litiledale 

Leonino Ippolito, Esq. (v. t.) 

Mr. Commissioner Rae 

Lord Cholmoudeley (v. t.) . 

Earl Stanhope 

Countess of Charlemont (v. t. in 


Lord Alfred Paget . 

Count Leodoffe (v. t.) 

Mr. Thome (whipmaker) '. • 

Mr. White (v. t.) . 

Col. Barnard (v. t ) . 

Mr. T. Holmes 

Earl of Winchelsea . 

Lord Whamcliffe (v. t.) . 

Hon. Mrs. Dyce Sombre . 

M. Ude (v. t.) ... 

Count Batthyany 

Bishop of Ely 

Count D'Orsay 

Thus these 36 ladies and gentlemen paid 
438/. 5s. 6d. to rescue their dogs from professional 
dog-stealers, or an average, per individual, of up- 
wards of 12/. 

These dog appropriators, as they found that 
they could levy contributions not only on roj-alty, 
foreign ambassadors, peers, courtiers, and ladies of 
rank, but on public bodies, and on the dignitaries 
of the state, the law, the army, and the church, 
became bolder and more expert in their avocations 
— a boldness which was encouraged by the exist- 
ing law. Prior to the parliamentary inquiry, dog- 
stealing was not an indictable offence. To show 
this, Mr. Commissioner Mayne quoted Blackstone 
to the Committee : " As to those animals which 
do not serve for food, and which therefore the law 
holds to have no intrinsic value, as dogs of all 
sorts, and other creatures kept for whim and plea- 
sure — though a man may have a base property 
therein, and maintain a civil action for the loss of 
them, yet they are not of such estimation as that 
the crime of stealing them amounts to larceny." 
The only mode of punishment for dog-stealing was 
by summary conviction, the penalty being fine or 
imprisonment; but Mr. Commissioner Mayne did 
not know of any instance of a dog-stealer being 
sent to prison in default of payment. Although the 
law recognised no property in a dog, the animal 
wa« taxed ; and it was complained at the time 
that an unhappy lady might have to pay tax for 
the full term upon her dog, perhaps a year and a 
half after he had been stolen from her. One old 
offender, who stole the Duke of Beaufort's dog, was 
transported, not for stealing the dog, but his collar. 

The difficulty of proving the positive theft of a 
dog was extreme. In most cases, where the man 
was not seen actually to seize a dog which could 
be identified, he escaped when carried before a 
■Mgistrate. " The dog-stealers," said Inspector 

Shackell, " generally go two together ; they have 
a piece of liver ; they say it is merely bullock's 
liver, which will entice or tame the wildest or 
savagest dog which there can be in any yard ; 
they give it him, and take him from his chain. 
At other times," continues Mr. Shackell, " they 
will go in the street with a little dog, rubbed over 
Avith some sort of stuff, and will entice valuable 

dogs away If there is a dog lost or 

stolen, it is generally known within five or six 
hours where that dog is, and they know almost 
exactly what they can get for it, so that it is a 
regular system of plunder." Mr. G. White, 
" dealer in live stock, dogs, and other animals," 
and at one time a " dealer in lions, and tigers, and 
all sorts of things," said of the dog-stealers : " In 
turning the corners of streets there are two or 
three of them together ; one will snatch up a dog 
and put into his apron, and the others will stop 
the lady and say, * What is the matter V and di- 
rect the party who has lost the dog in a contrary 
direction to that taken." 

In this business were engaged from 50 to 
60 men, half of them actual stealers of the 
animals. The others were the receivers, and the 
go-betweens or "restorers." The thief kept 
the dog perhaps for a day or two at some public- 
house, and he then took it to a dog-dealer with 
whom he was connected in the way of business. 
These dealers carried on a trade in " honest 
dogs," as one of the witnesses styled them (mean- 
ing dogs honestly acquired), but some of them 
dealt principally with the dog-stealers. Their 
depots could not be entered by the police, being 
private premises, without a search-warrant — and 
direct evidence was necessary to obtain a search- 
warrant — and of course a stranger in quest of a 
stolen dog would not bo admitted. Some of the 
dog-dealers would not purchase or receive dogs 
known to have been stolen, but others bought 
and speculated in them. If an advertisement 
appeared offering a reward for the dog, a negotia- 
tion was entered into. If no reward was offered, 
the owner of the dog, who was always either 
known or made out, was waited upon by a re- 
storer, who undertook " to restore the dog if terms 
could be come to." A dog belonging to Colonel 
Fox was once kept six weeks before the thieves 
would consent to the Colonel's tenns. One of the 
most successful restorers was a shoemaker, and 
mixed little with the actual stealers; tho dog- 
dealers, however, acted as restorers frequently 
enough. If the person robbed paid a good round 
sum for the restoration of a dog, and paid it 
speedily, the animal was almost certain to be 
stolen a second time, and a higher sum was then 
demanded. Sometimes the thieves threatened 
that if they were any longer trifled with they 
would inflict torture on the dog, or cut its throat. 
One lady, Miss Brown of Bol ton-street, was so 
worried by these threats, and by having twice to 
redeem her dog, "that she has left England," 
said Mr. Bishop, "and I really do believe for the 
sake of keeping the dog." It docs not appear, as 
far as the evidence shows, that these threats of 
torture or death were ever carried into execution; 



gome of the witnesses had merely heard of such 


The shoemaker alluded to was named Taylor, 
and Inspector Shackell thus describes this person's 
way of transacting business in the dog " restoring" 
line : " There is a man named Taylor, who is one 
of the greatest restorers in London of stolen dogs, 
through Mr. Bishop." [Mr. Bishop was a gun- 
maker in Bond-street.] " It is a disgrace to 
London that any person should encourage a man 
like that to go to extort money from ladies and 
gentlemen, especially a respectable man. A gen- 
tleman applied to me to get a valuable dog that 
was stolen, with a chain on his neck, and the 
name on the collar; and I heard Mr, Bishop him- 
self say that it cost QL; that it could not be got 
for less. Capt. Vansittart (the owner of the dog) 
came out; I asked him particularly, * Will you 
give me a description of the dog on a piece of 
paper,' and that is his writing (producing a paper). 
I went and made inquiry; and the captain him- 
self, who lives in Belgrave-square, said he had no 
objection to give il. for the recovery of the dog, 
but would not give the Ql. I went and took a 
good deal of trouble about it. I found out that 
Taylor went first to ascertain what the owner of 
the dog would give for it, and then went and 
offered 1^. for the dog, then 21., and at last pur- 
chased it for 3^. ; and went and told Capt, Van- 
sittart that he had given 4^. for the dog; and the 
dog went back through the hands of Mr. Bishop." 

The "restorers" had, it appears, the lion's share 
in the profits of this business. One witness had 
known of as much as ten guineas being given for 
the recovery of a favourite spaniel, or, as the wit- 
ness styled it, for " working a dog back," and 
only two of these guineas being received by " the 
party." The wronged individual, thus delicately 
intimated as the " party," was the thief. The 
same witness, Mr. Hobdell, knew \il. given for 
the restoration of a little red Scotch terrier, which 
he, as a dog-dealer, valued at four shillings ! 

One of the coolest instances of the organization 
and boldness of the dog-stealers was in the case 
of Mr, Fitzroy Kelly's " favourite Scotch terrier," 
The " parties," possessing it through theft, asked 
121. for it, and urged that it was a reasonable 
offer, considering the trouble they were obliged to 
take. " The dog-stealers were obliged to watch 
every night," they contended, through Mr, Bishop, 
" and very diligently ; Mr. Kelly kept them out 
very late from their homes, before they could get 
the dog ; he used to go out to dinner or down to 
the Temple, and take the dog with him ; they had 
a deal of trouble before they could get it." So Mr. 
Kelly was expected not only to pay more than the 
Talue of his dog, but an extra amount on account 
of the care he had taken of his terrier, and for the 
trouble his vigilance had given to the thieves ! 
The matter was settled at QL Mr. Kelly's case 
was but one instance. 

Among the most successful of the practitioners 
in this street-finding business were Messrs. 
" Ginger" and " Carrots," but a parliamentary j 
witness was inclined to believe that Ginger and 
Carrots were nicknames for the same individual. 

one Barrett; although he had been in custody 
several times, he was considered " a very superior 

• If the stolen dog were of little value, it was 
safest for the stealers to turn him loose ; if he 
were of value, and unowned and unsought for, there 
was a ready market abroad. The stewards, 
stokers, or seamen of the Ostend, Antwerp, Rot- 
terdam, Hamburgh, and all the French steamers, 
readily bought stolen fancy dogs; sometimes twenty 
to thirty were taken at a voyage. A ste\^ard, 
indeed, has given \2l. for a stolen spaniel as a 
private speculation. Dealers, too, came occasion- 
ally from Paris, and bought numbers of these 
animals, and at what the dog foragers considered 
fair prices. One of the witnesses (Mr. Baker, a 
game dealer in Leadenhall-market) said : — " I 
have seen perhaps twenty or thirty dogs tied up in 
a little room, and I should suppose every one of 
them was stolen ; a reward not sufficiently high 
being offered for their restoration, the parties get 
more money by taking them on board the different 
steam-ships and selling them to persons on board, 
or to people coming to this country to buy dogs 
and take tliem abroad," 

The following statement, derived from Mr. 
Mayne's evidence, shows the extent of the dog- 
stealing business, l3ut only as far as came under 
the cognizance of the police. It shows the 
number of dogs "lost" or " stolen," and of per- 
sons " charged" with the offence, and " convicted" 
or " discharged." Nearly all the dogs returned as 
lost, I may observe, were stolen, but there was no 
evidence to show the positive theft : — 
























In what proportion the police-known thefts 
stood to the whole number, there was no evidence 
given ; nor, I suppose, could it be given. 

The dog-stealers were not considered to be con- 
nected with housebreakers, though they might 
frequent the same public-houses. Mr. Mayne 
pronounced these dog-stealers a genus, a peculiar 
class, "what they call dog-fanciers and dog- 
stealers; a sort of half-sporting, betting characters." 

The law on the subject of dog-stealing (8 and 9 
Vict., c. 47) now is, that " If any person shall 
steal any dog, every such offender shall be deemed 
guilty of a misdemeanor, and, being convicted 
thereof before any two or more justices of the 
peace, shall, for the first offence, at the discretion 
of the said justices, either be committed to the 
common gaol or house of correction, there to be 
imprisoned only, or be imprisoned and kept to hard 
labour, for any term not exceeding six calendar 
months, or shall forfeit and pay over and above 
the value of the said dog such sum of money, not 
exceeding 20^., as to the said justices shall seem 
meet. And if any person so convicted shall 



afterwards be guilty of the same offence, every 
such offender shall be guilty of an indictable mis- 
demeanor, and, being convicted thereof, shall be 
liable to suffer such punishment, by fine or im- 
prisonment, with or without hard labour, or by 
both, as the court in its discretion shall award, 
provided such imprisonment do not exceed eighteen 

Of a Dog-" Fikdbk." — A "Lubker's" 
CoHCERKiNQ a dog-finder, I received the following 
account from one who had received the education 
of a gentleman, but whom circumstances had 
driven to an association with the vagrant class, 
and who has written the dog-finder's biography 
from personal knowledge — a biography which shows 
the variety that often characterizes the career of 
the " lurker," or street-adventurer. 

" If your readers," writes my informant, "have 
passed the Rubicon of * forty years in the wilder- 
ness,' memory must bring back the time when 
the feet of their childish pilgrimage have trodden 
a beautiful grass-plot — now converted into Bel- 
grave-square ; when Pimlico was a * village out of 
town,' and the * five fields' of Chelsea were fields 
indeed. To write the biography of a living cha- 
racter is always delicate, as to embrace all its par- 
ticulars is difficult ; but of the truthfulness of my 
account there is no question. 

" Probably about the year of the great frost 
(1814), a French Protestant refugee, named La 
Roche, sought asylum in this country, not from 
persecution, but from difficulties of a commercial 
character. He built for himself, in Chelsea, a 
cottage of wood, nondescript in shape, but pleasant 
in locality, and with ample accommodations for 
himself and his son. Wife he had none. This 
little bazaar of mud and sticks was surrounded 
with a bench of rude construction, on which the 
Sunday visitors to Ranelagh used to sit and sip 
their curds and whey, while from the entrance — 
fer removed in those days from competition — 

' There stood uprear'd, as ensign of the place, 
Of blue and red and white, a checquer'a mace. 
On which the paper lantern hung to tell 
How cheap its owner shaved you, and how well.' 

Things went on smoothly for a dozen years, when 
the old Frenchman departed this life. 

"His boy carried on the business for a few 
months, when frequent complaints of * Sunday 
gambling ' on the premises, and loud whispers of 
•uipicion relative to the concealment of stolen 
goods, induced ' Chelsea George ' — the name the 
youth had acquired — to sell the good- will of the 
house, fixtures, and all, and at the eastern ex- 
tremity of London to embark in business as a 
• mush or mushroom-faker.' Independently of 
bis appropriation of nrabrellas, proper to the mush- 
&ker's calling, Chelsea George was by no means 
•crupulons concerning other little matters within 
his reach, and if the proprietors of the 'swell 
cribs' within his 'beat' had no 'umbrellas to mend,' 
or ' old 'ans to sell,' he would ease the pegs in the 
pM«age of the incumbrance of a greatcoat, and 
telegraph the «une out of tight (by a colleague), 

while the servant went in to make the desired 
inquiries. At last he was ' bowl'd out' in the 
very act of ' nailing a yack ' (stealing a watch). 
He * expiated,' as it is called, this offence by three 
months' exercise on the 'cockchafer' (tread-mill). 
Unaccustomed as yet to the novelty of the exer- 
cise, he fell through the wheel and breke one of 
his legs. He was, of course, pennitted to finish 
his time in the infirmary of the prison, and on his 
liberation was presented with five pounds out of 
' the Sheriffs' Fund.' 

"Although, as I have before stated, he had 
never been out of England since his childhood, 
he had some little hereditary knowledge of the 
French language, and by the kind and voluntary 
recommendation of one of the police-magistrates of 
the metropolis, he was engaged by an Irish gentle- 
man proceeding to the Continent as a sort of 
supernumerary servant, to 'make himself generally 
useful,' As the gentleman was unmarried, and 
mostly stayed at hotels, George was to have per- 
manent wages and * find himself,' a condition he 
invariably fulfilled, if anything was left in his 
way. Frequent intemperance, neglect of duty, 
and unaccountable departures of property from the 
portmanteau of his master, led to his dismissal, 
and Chelsea George was left, without friends or 
character, to those resources which have supported 
him for some thirty years. 

" During his ' umbrella' enterprise he had lived 
in lodging-houses of the lowest kind, and of course 
mingled with the most depraved society, espe- 
cially with the vast army of trading sturdy men- 
dicants, male and female, young and old, who 
assume every guise of poverty, misfortune, and 
disease, which craft and ingenuity can devise or 
well-tutored hypocrisy can imitate. Thus ini- 
tiated, Chelsea George could ' go upon any lurk,* 
could be in the last stage of consumption — actually 
in his dying hour — but now and then convalescent 
for years and years together. He could take fits 
and counterfeit blindness, be a respectable broken- 
down tradesman, or a soldier maimed in the ser- 
vice, and dismissed without a pension. 

" Thus qualified, no vicissitudes could be either 
very new or very perplexing, and he commenced 
operations without delay, and pursued them long 
without desertion. The 'first move' in his men- 
dicant career was tahing them on the fly; which 
means meeting the gentry on their walks, 
and beseeching or at times menacing them till 
something is given ; something in general teas 
given to get rid of the annoyance, and, till the 
' game got stale,' an hour's work, morning and 
evening, produced a harvest of success, and minis- 
tered to an occasion of debauchery. 

" His less popular, but more upright father, had 
once been a dog-fancier, and George, after many 
years vicissitude, at length took a ' fancy ' to the 
same profession, but not on any principles recog- 
nised by commercial laws. With what success he 
has practised, the ladies and gentlemen about the 
West-end have known, to their loss and disappoint- 
ment, for more than fifteen years past. 

" Although the police have been and still are 
on the alert, George ba«, in erery initance, hitherto 



escaped punishment, while numerous detections 
connected with escape have enabled the offender 
to hold these officials at defiance. The 'modus 
operandi ' upon which George proceeds is to 
varnish his hands with a sort of gelatine, com- 
posed of the coarsest pieces of liver, fried, pul- 
verised, and mixed up with tincture of myrrh." 
[This is the composition of which Inspector 
Shackell spoke before the Select Committee, 
but he did not seem to know of what the lure 
was concocted. My correspondent continues] : 
" Chelsea George caresses every animal who 
seems 'a likely spec,' and when his fingers have 
been nibbed over the dogs' noses they become easy 
and perhaps willing captives. A bag carried for 
the purpose, receives the victim, and away goes 
George, bag and all, to his printer's in Seven 
Dials. Two bills and no less — two and no more, 
for such is George's style of work — are issued to 
describe the animal that has thus been found, 
and which will be 'restored to its owner on pa)'- 
ment of expenses.' One of these George puts in 
his pocket, the other he pastes up at a public- 
house whose landlord is 'fly' to its meaning, and 
poor ' bow-wow ' is sold to a ' dealer in dogs,' not 
very far from Sharp's alley. In course of time 
the dog is discovered ; the possessor refers to the 
'establishment' where he bought it; the 'dealer 
makes himself square,' by giving the address of 
'the chap he bought 'un of,' and Chelsea George 
shows a copy of the advertisement, calls in the 
publican as a witness, and leaves the place * without 
the slightest imputation on his character.' Of this 
man's earnings I cannot speak with precision : it is 
probable that in a ' good year ' his clear income is 
2001. ; in a bad year but'lOO/., but, as he is very 
adroit, I am inclined to believe that the ' good ' 
years somewhat predominate, and that the average 
income may therefore exceed 150/. yearly." 

Op the Present Street- Sellers of Dogs, 
It will have been noticed that in the accounts I 
have given of the former street-transactions in 
dogs, there is no mention of the sellers. The in- 
formation I have adduced is a condensation of the 
evidence given before the Select Committee of the 
House of Commons, and the inqxiiry related only 
to the stealing, finding, and restoring of dogs, the 
selling being but an incidental part of the evidence. 
Then, however, as now, the street-sellers were not 
implicated in the thefts or restitution of dogs, 
"just except," one man told me, "as there was a 
black sheep or two in every flock." The black 
sheep, however, of this street-calling more fre- 
quently meddled with restoring, than with " find- 

Another street dog- seller, an intelligent man, — 
who, however did not know so much as my first 
informant of the state of the trade in the olden 
time, — expressed a positive opinion, that no dog- 
stealer was now a street-hawker (" hawker" was 
the word I found these men use). His reasons for 
this opinion, in addition to his own judgment from 
personal knowledge, are cogent enough ; " It isn't 
possible, sir," he said, "and this is the reason 
why. We are not a large body of men. We 

stick pretty closely, when we are out, to the same 
places. We are as well-known to the police, as 
any men whom they most know, by sight at any 
rate, from meeting them every day. Now, if a 
lady or gentleman has lost a dog, or it's been 
stolen or strayed — and the most petted will some- 
times stray unaccountably and follow some stranger 
or other — why where does she, and he, and all 
the family, and all the servants, first look for the 
lost animal ? Why, where, but at the dogs we 
are hawking ] No, sir, it can't be done now, and 
it isn't done in my knowledge, and it oughtn't to 
be done. I 'd rather make 5s. on an honest dog 
than 51. on one that wasn't, if there was no risk 
about it either." Other information convinces me 
that this statement is correct. 

Of these street-sellers or hawkers there are now 
about twenty-five. There may be, however, but 
twenty, if so many, on any given day in the streets, 
as there are always some detained at home by 
other avocations connected with their line of life. 
The places they chiefly frequent are the Quadrant 
and Regent-street generally, but the Quadrant far 
the most. Indeed before the removal of the 
colonnade, one-half at least of all the dog-sellers 
of London would resort there on a very wet day, 
as they had the advantage of shelter, and gene- 
rally of finding a crowd assembled, either lounging 
to pass the time, or waiting " for a fair fit," and so 
with leisure to look at dogs. The other places are 
the West-end squares, the banks of the Serpentine, 
Charing-cross, the Royal Exchange, and the Bank 
of England, and the Parks generally. They visit, 
too, any public place to which there may be a tem- 
porary attraction of the classes likely to be pur- 
chasers — a mere crowd of people, I was told, 
was no good to the dog-hawkers, it must be a 
crowd of people that had money — such as the 
assemblage of ladies and gentlemen who crowd 
the windows of Whitehall and Parliament-street, 
when the Queen opens or prorogues the houses. 
These spectators fill the street and the Horse- 
guards' portion of the park as soon as the street 
mass has dispersed, and they often afford the 
means of a good day's work to the dog people. 

Two dogs, carefully cleaned and combed, or 
brushed, are carried in a man's arms for street- 
vending. A fine chain is generally attached to a 
neat collar, so that the dog can be relieved from 
the cramped feel he will experience if kept off his 
feet too long. In carrying these little animals for 
sale — for it is the smaller dogs which are carried 
— the men certainly display them to the best ad- 
vantage. Their longer silken ears, their prominent 
dark eyes and black noses, and the delicacy of 
their fore-paws, are made as prominent as possible, 
and present what the masses very well call " quite 
a pictur." I have alluded to the display of the 
Spaniels, as they constitute considerably more 
than half of the street trade in dogs, the " King 
Charleses" and the " Blenheims" being disposed of 
in nearly equal quantities. They are sold for lap- 
dogs, pets, carriage companions or companions in 
a walk, and are often intelligent and alFectionate. 
Their colours are black, black and tan, white and 
liver-colour, chestnut, black and white, and entirely 



white, with many shades of these hues, and inter- 
blendings of them, one with another, and with 

The small Teitiers are, however, coming more 
into fashion, or, as the hawkers call it, into 
" vogue." They are usually black, with tanned 
muzzles and feet, and with a keen look, their 
hair being short and smooth. Some, however, are 
preferred with long and somewhat wiry hair, and 
the colour is often strongly mixed with gray. A 
small Isle of Skye terrier — but few, I was in- 
formed know a " real Skye " — is sometimes car- 
ried in the streets, as well as the little rough 
dogs known as Scotch terriers. When a street- 
seller has a litter of terrier pups, he invariably 
selects the handsomest for the streets, for it 
happens — my informant did not know why, but 
he and others were positive that so it was — that 
the handsomest is the worst; "the worst," it 
must be understood as regards the possession of 
choice sporting qualities, more especially of pluck. 
The terrier's education, as regards his prowess in 
a rat-pit, is accordingly neglected ; and if a gen- 
tleman ask, " Will he kill rats'?" the answer is in 
the negative ; but this is no disparagement to the 
Siile, because the dog is sold, perhaps, for a lady's 
pet, and is not wanted to kill rats, or to " fight 
any dog of his weight." 

The Pugs, for which, 40 to 50 years ago, and, 
in a diminished degree, 30 years back, there was, 
in the phrase of the day, "quite a rage," pro- 
vided only the pug was hideous, are now never 
cflfered in the streets, or bo rarely, that a well- 
known dealer assjired me he had only sold one in 
the streets for two years. A Leadenhall trades- 
man, fond of dogs, but in no way connected with 
the trade, told me that it came to be looked upon, 
that a pug was a fit companion for only snappish 
old maids, and " so the women wouldn't have them 
any longer, least of all the old maids." 

Frenck Poodles are also of rare street-sale. 
One man had a white poodle two or three years 
ago, so fat and so round, that a lady, who priced 
it, was told by a gentleman with her, that if 
the head and the short legs were removed, and 
the inside scooped out, the animal would make a 
capital muff; yet even that poodle was difficult 
of sale at 50/. 

Occasionally also an Italian Greyhound, seem- 
ing cold and shivery on the warmest days, is 
borne in a hawker's arms, or if following on foot, 
trembling and looking sad, as if mentally mur- 
muring at the climate. 

In such places as the banks of the Serpentine, 
or in the Begent's-park, the hawker docs not 
carry his dogs in his arms, so much as let them 
trot along with him in a body, and they arc sure 
to attract attention ; or ho sits down, and they 
play or sleep about bim. One dealer told me that 
children often took such a fancy for a pretty 
spaniel, that it was difficult fur cither mother, 
govcniess, or nurse, to drag them away until the 
man was requested to call in the evening, bringing 
with bim the dog, which was very often bought, 
or the hawker recompensed fur his loss of time. 
But aometime* the dogdealera, I beard from 

several, meet with great shabbiness among rich 
people, who recklessly give them no small trouble, 
and sometimes put them to expense without the 
slightest return, or even an acknowledgment or a 
word of apology. " There 's one advantage in my 
trade," said a dealer in live animals, " we always 
has to do with principals. There 'a never a lady 
would let her most favouritest maid choose her dog 
for her. So no parkisits." 

The species which I have enumerated are all 
that are now sold in the streets, with the excep- 
tion of an odd "plum-pudding," or coach-dog (the 
white dog with dark spots which runs after car- 
riages), or an odd bull-dog, or bull-terrier, or 
indeed with the exception ot "odd dogs" of every 
kind. The hawkers are, however, connected with 
the trade in sporting dogs, and often through the 
medium of their street traffic, as I shall show 
under the next head of my subject. 

There is one peculiarity in the hawking of fancy 
dogs, which distinguishes it from all other branches 
of street-commerce. The purchasers are all of the 
wealthier class. This has had its influence on the 
manners of the dog-sellers. They will be found, 
in the majority of cases, quiet and deferential 
men, but without servility, and with little of the 
quality of speech ; and I speak only of speech 
which among English people is known as 
"gammon," and among Irish people as "blar- 
ney." This manner is common to many; to the 
established trainer of race-horses for instance, 
who is in constant communication with persons in 
a very superior position in life to his own, and to 
whom he is exceedingly deferential. But the 
trainer feels that in all points connected with his 
not very easy business, as well, perhaps, as in 
general turf knowingness, his royal highness (as 
was the case once), or his grace, or my lord, or Sir 
John, was inferior to himself; and so with all his 
deference there mingles a strain of quiet contempt, 
or rather, perhaps, of conscious superiorit}', which 
is one ingredient in the formation of the manners I 
have hastily sketched. 

The customers of the street-hawkers of dogs are 
ladies and gentlemen, who buy what may have 
attracted their admiration. The kept mistresses 
of the wealthier classes are often excellent cus- 
tomers. " Many of 'em, I know," was said to 
me, " dotes on a nice spaniel. Yes, and I 've 
known gentlemen buy dogs for their misses ; I 
couldn't be mistaken when I might be sent on 
with them, which was part of the bargain. If it 
was a two-guinea dog or so, I was told never to 
give a hint of the price to the servant, or to any- 
body. / know why. It 's easy for a gentleman 
that wants to please a lady, and not to lay out any 
great matter of tin, to say that what had really 
cost him two guineas, cost him twenty." If one 
of the working classes, or a small tradesman, buy 
a dog in the streets, it is generally because he is 
" of a fancy turn," and breeds a few dogs, and 
traffics in them in hopes of profit. 

The homes of the dog-hawkers, as far as I had 
means of ascertaining — and all I saw were of the 
same character — are comfortable and very cleanly. 
The small spaniels, terrierS| &&, — I do not now 



allude to sporting dogs — are generally kept in 
kennels, or in small wooden houses erected for the 
purpose in a back garden or yard. These abodes 
are generally in some open court, or little square 
or " grove," where there is a free access of air. 
An old man who was sitting at his door in the 
Bummer evening, when I called upon a dog-seller, 
and had to wait a short time, told me that so 
quiet were his next-door neighbour's (the street- 
hawker's) dogs, that for some weeks, he did not 
know his newly-come neighbour was a dog-man ; 
although he was an old nervous man himself, and 
couldn't bear any unpleasant noise or smell. The 
scrupulous observance of cleanliness is necessary 
in the rearing or keeping of small fancy dogs, for 
without such observance the dog would have a 
disagreeable odour about it, enough to repel any 
lady-buyer. It is a not uncommon declaration 
among dog-sellers that the animals are " as sweet 
as nuts." Let it be remembered that I have been 
describing the class of regular dog-sellers, making, 
by an open and established trade, a tolerable 

The spaniels, terriers, &c., the stock of these 
hawkers, are either bred by them— and they all 
breed a few or a good many dogs — or they are 
purchased of dog-dealers (not street-sellers), or of 
people who having a good fancy breed of " King 
Charleses," or " Blenheims," rear dogs, and sell 
them by the litter to the hawkers. The hawkers 
also buy dogs brought to them, " in the way of 
business," but they are wary how they buy any 
animal suspected to be stolen, or they may get 
into " trouble." One man, a carver and gilder, I 
was informed, some ten years back, made a good 
deal of money by his "black-patched" spaniels. 
These dogs had a remarkable black patch over 
their eyes, and so fond was the dog-fancier, or 
breeder of them, that when he disposed of them 
to street-sellers or others, he usually gave a por- 
trait of the animals, of his own rude painting, into 
the bargain. These paintings he also sold, slightly 
framed, and I have seen them — but not so much 
j lately — offered in the streets, and hung up in 
I poor persons' rooms. This man lived in York- 
square, behind the Colosseum, then a not very 
reputable quarter. It is now Munster-square, and 
of a reformed character, but the seller of dogs and 
the donor of their portraits has for some time been 
lost sight of. 

The prices at which fancy-dogs are sold in the 
streets are about the same for all kinds. They 
run from 10s. to bl. 5s., but are very rarely so 
low as 10s., as " it 's only a very scrubby thing for 
that." Two and three guineas are frequent street 
prices for a spaniel or small terrier. Of the dogs 
sold, as I have before stated, more than one-half 
are spaniels. Of the remainder, more than one-half 
are terriers ; and the surplusage, after this reckon- 
ing, is composed in about equal numbers of the 
other dogs I have mentioned. The exportation 
of dogs is not above a twentieth of what it was 
before the appointment of the Select Committee, 
but a French or Belgium dealer sometimes comes 
to London to buy dogs. 

It is not easy to fix upon any per-centage as to 

the profit of the street dog-sellers. There is the 
keep and the rearing of the animal to consider ; 
and there is the same uncertainty in the traffic as 
in all traffics which depend, not upon a demand 
for use, but on the caprices of fashion, or — to use 
the more appropriate word, when writing on such 
a subject — of " fancy." A hawker may sell three 
dogs in one day, without any extraordinary effort, 
or, in the same manner of trading, and frequenting 
the very same places, may sell only one in three 
days. In the winter, the dogs are sometimes of- 
fere'd in public houses, but seldom as regards the 
higher-priced animals. 

From the best data I can command, it appears 
that each hawker sells " three dogs and a half, if 
you take it that way, splitting a dog like, every 
week the year through ; that is, sir, four or five 
one w.eek in the summer, when trade 's brisk and 
days are long, and only two or three the next 
week, when trade may be flat, and in winter 
when there isn't the same chance." Calculating, 
then, that seven dogs are sold by each hawker in a 
fortnight, at an average price of 50s. each, which 
is not a high average, and supposing that but 
twenty men are trading in this line the year 
through, we find that no less a sum than 9100^. 
is yearly expended in this street-trade. The weekly 
profit of the hawker is from 25s. to 40s. More 
than seven-eighths of these dogs are bred in this 
country, Italian greyhounds included. 

A hawker of dogs gave me a statement of his 
life, but it presented so little of incident or of 
change, that I need not report it. He had as- 
sisted and then succeeded his father in the busi- 
ness; was a pains-taking, temperate, and in- 
dustrious man, seldom taking even a glass of ale, 
so that the tenour of his way had been even, and 
he was prosperous enough. 

I will next give an account of the connection 
of the hawkers of dogs with the ** sporting " or 
" fancy " part of the business ; and of the present 
state of dog " finding," to show the change since 
the parliamentary investigation. 

I may observe that in this traffic the word 
** fancy " has two significations. A dog recom- 
mended by its beauty, or any peculiarity, so that 
it be suitable for a pet-dog, is a " fancy " animal ; 
so is he if he be a fighter, or a killer of rats, however 
ugly or common-looking ; but the term " sporting 
dog " seems to become more and more used in this 
case : nor is the first-mentioned use of the word 
" fancy," at all strained or very original, for it is 
lexicographically defined as " an opinion bred 
rather by the imagination than the reason, in- 
clination, liking, caprice, humour, whim, frolick, 
idle scheme, vagary." 

Of the Street-Sellers op Sporting Dogs. 
The use, if use it may be styled, of sporting, or 
fighting dogs, is now a mere nothing to what it 
once was. There are many, sports — an appellation 
of many a brute cruelty — which have become ex- 
tinct, some of them long extinct. Herds of bears, 
for instance, were once maintained in this country, 
merely to be baited by dogs. It was even a part 
of royal merry-making. It was a sport altogether 



congenial to the spirit of Henry VIII.; and when 
his daughter, then Queen Mary, visited her sister 
Elixabeth at Hatfield House, now the residence 
of the Marquess of Salisbury, there was a bear- 
baiting for their delectation— a/^e;- mass. Queen 
Elizabeth, on her accession to the throne, seems 
to have been very partial to the baiting of bears 
and of bulls ; for she not unfrequently welcomed 
a foreign ambassador with such exhibitions. The 
historians of the day intimate — they dared do no 
more — that Elizabeth affected these rough sports 
the most in the decline of life, when she wished 
to seem still sprightly .[active, and healthful, in the 
eyes of her courtiers and her subjects. Laneham, 
whose veracity has not been impeached — though 
Sir Walter Scott has pronounced him to be as 
thorough a coxcomb as ever blotted paper — thus 
describes a bear-bait in presence of the Queen, 
and after quoting his description I gladly leave 
the subject. I make the citation in order to show 
and contrast the former with the present use of 
sporting dogs. 

" It was a sport very pleasant to see the bear, 
with his pink eyes leering after his enemies, ap- 
proach ; the nimbleness and wait of the dog to 
take his advantage ; and the force and experience 
of the bear again to avoid his assaults : if he were 
bitten in one place, how he would pinch in an- 
other to get free ; that if he were taken" once, 
then by what shift with biting, with clawing, 
with roaring, with tossing and tumbling, he would 
work and wind himself from them ; and, when he 
was loose, to shake his ears twice or thrice, with 
the blood and the slaver hanging about his phy- 
siognomy. " 

The suffering which constituted the great de- 
light of the $pori was even worse than this, in 
bull-baiting, fur the bull gored or tossed the dogs 
to death more frequently than the bear worried 
or crushed them. 

The principal place for the carrying on of these 
barbarities was at Paris Garden, not far from St. 
Saviour's Church, Southwark. The clamour, and 
wrangling, and reviling, with and without blows, 
at these places, gave a proverbial expression to the 
lang^ge. " The place was like a bear-garden," 
for " gardens" they were called. These pastimes 
beguiled the Sunday afternoons more than any 
other time, and were among the chief delights of 
the people, " until," writes Dr. Henry, collating 
the opinions of the historians of the day, " until 
the reBned amusements of the drama, possessing 
themselves by degrees of the public taste, if they 
did not mend the morals of the age, at least forced 
brutal barbarity to quit the stage." 

Of this sport in Queen Anne's days, Strutt's 
industry has collected advertisements telling of 
bear and bull-baiting at Hockley-in-the-Hole, 
and " Tuttle "-fields, Westminster, and of dog- 
fights at the same places. Marylebonc was 
another locality famous for these pastimes, and 
for it« breed of mastiflfs, which dogs were most 
used for baiting the bears, whilst bull-dogs 
were the antagonists of the bull. Gay, who 
was a nfficiently close obterver, and a close 
ohHtntx of street-life too, as is well shown in 

his " Trivia," specifies these localities in one of 
his fables : — 

" Both Hockley-hole and Mary-bone 
The combats of my dog have known." 

Hockley-hole was not far from Smithfield-market. 

In the same localities the practice of these 
sports lingered, becoming less and less every year, 
until about the middle of the last century. In 
the country, bull-baiting was practised twenty 
times more commonly than bear-baiting ; for bulls 
were plentiful, and bears were not. There are, 
perhaps, none of our older country towns without 
the relic of its bull-ring — a strong iron ring in- 
serted into a large stone in the pavement, to which 
the baited bull was tied ; or a knowledge of the 
site where the bull-ring was. The deeds of the 
baiting-dogs were long talked of by the vulgar. 
These sports, and the dog-fights, maintained the 
great demand for sporting dogs in former times. 

The only sporting dogs now in request — apart, 
of course, from hunting and shooting (remnants 
of the old barbarous delight in torture or 
slaughter), for I am treating only of the street- 
trade, to which fox-hounds, harriers, pointers, 
setters, cockers, &c., &c., are unknown — are 
terriers and bull-terriers. Bull-dogs cannot now 
be classed as sporting, but only as fancy dogs, for 
they are not good fighters, I was informed, one 
with another, their mouths being too small. 

The way in which the sale of sporting dogs is 
connected with street-traffic is in this wise : Oc- 
casionally a sporting-dog is offered for sale in the 
streets, and then, of course, the trade is direct. At 
other times, gentlemen buying or pricing the 
smaller dogs, ask the cost of a bull-dog, or a bull- 
terrier or rat-terrier, and the street-seller at once 
offers to supply them, and either conducts them to 
a dog-dealer's, with whom he may be commercially 
connected, and where they can purchase those 
dogs, or he waits upon them &t their residences 
with some "likely animals." A dog-dealer told 
me that he hardly knew what made many gentle- 
men so fond of bull-dogs, and they were " tlie 
fonder on 'em the more blackguarder and varmint- 
looking the creatures was," although now they 
were useless for sport, and the great praise of a 
bulldog, " never flew but at head in his life," was 
no longer to be given to him, as there were no 
bulls at whose heads he could now fly. 

Another dog-dealer informed me — with what 
truth as to the judgment concerning horses I do 
not know, but no doubt with accuracy as to the 
purchase of the dogs — that Ibrahim Pacha, when 
in London, thought little of the horses which he 
saw, but was delighted with the bull-dogs, " and 
he weren't so werry unlike one in the face his- 
self,'' was said at the time by some of the fancy. 
Ibrahim, it seems, bought two of the finest 
and largest bull-dogs in London, of Bill George, 
giving no less than 70/. for the twain. The bull- 
dogs now sold by the street-folk, or through their 
agency in the way I have described, are from 
bl. to 26/. each. The bull-terriers, of the best 
blood, are about the same price, or perhaps 10 to 
16 per cent, lower, and rarely attaining the tip- 
top price. 

No. XXX. 



The bull-terriers, as I have stated, are now the 
chief fighting-dogs, but the patrons of those com- 
bats — of those small imitations of the savage tastes 
of the Roman Colosseum, may deplore the decay 
of the amusement. From the beginning, until well 
on to the termination of the last century, it was 
not uncommon to see announcements of " twenty 
dogs to fight for a collar," though such advertise- 
ments were far more common at the commence- 
ment than towards the close of the century. Until 
within these twelve years, indeed, dog-matches 
were not unfrequent in London, and the favourite 
time for the regalement was on Sunday mornings. 
There were dog-pits in Westminster, and elsewhere, 
to which the admission was not very easy, for 
only known persons were allowed to enter. The 
expense was considerable, the risk of punishment 
was not a trifle, and it is evident that this Sunday 
game was not supported by the poor or working 
classes. Now dog-fights are rare. " There 's not 
any public dog-fights," I was told, " and very 
seldom any in a pit at a public-house, but there 's 
a good deal of it, I know, at the private houses of 
the nols." I may observe that " the nobs" is a 
common designation for the rich among these sport- 
ing people. 

There are, however, occasionally dog-fights in a 
Bporting-house, and the order of the combat is 
thus described to me : " "We '11 say now that it 's a 
scratch fight ; two dogs have each their corner of 
a pit, and they 're set to fight. They '11 fight 
on till they go down together, and then if one 
leave hold, he 's sponged. Then they fight again. 
If a dog has the worst of it he mustn't be picked 
up, but if he gets into his corner, then he can 
stay for as long as may be agreed upon, minute 
or half-minute time, or more than a minute. If 
a dog won't go to the scratch out of his corner, 
he loses the fight. If they fight on, why to 
settle it, one must be killed — though that very 
seldom happens, for if a dog's very much pu- 
nished, he creeps to his corner and don't come out 
to time, and so the fight 's settled. Sometimes 
it 's agreed beforehand, that the master of a dog 
may give in for him; sometimes that isn't to be 
allowed ; but there 's next to nothing of this now, 
unless it 's in private among the nobs." 

It has been said that a sportsman — perhaps in 
the relations of life a benevolent man — when he 
has failed to kill a grouse or pheasant outright, and 
proceeds to grasp the fluttering and agonised bird 
and smash its skull against the barrel of his gun, 
reconciles himself to the suflferings he inflicts by 
the pritle of art, the consciousness of skill — he has 
brought down his bird at a long shot ; that, too, 
when he cares nothing for the possession of the 
bird. The same feeling hardens him against the 
most piteous, woman-like cry of the hare, so shot 
that it cannot run. Be this as it may, it cannot 
be urged that in matching a favourite dog there 
can be any such feeling to destroy the sympathy. 
The men who thus amuse themselves are then 
utterly insensible to any pang at the infliction of 
pain upon animals, witnessing the infliction of it 
merely for a passing excitement : and in this 
insensibility the whole race who cater to such 

recreations of the wealthy, as well as the wealthy 
themselves, participate. There is another feeling 
too at work, and one proper to the sporting cha- 
racter — every man of this class considers the 
glories of his horse or his dog his own, a feeling 
very dear to selfishness. 

The main sport now, however, in which dogs 
are the agents is rat-hunting. It is called hunting, 
but as the rats are all confined in a pit it is more 
like mere killing. Of this sport I have given 
some account under the head of rat-catching. The 
dogs used are all terriers, and are often the property 
of the street-sellers. The most accomplished of 
this terrier race was the famous dog Billy, the 
eclipse of the rat pit. He is now enshrined — for 
a stuff"ed carcase is all that remains of Bill}- — in 
a case in the possession of Charley Heslop of 
the Seven Bells behind St. Giles's Church, with 
whom Billy lived and died. His great feat Avas 
that he killed 100 rats in five minutes. I under- 
stand, however, that it is still a moot point in the 
sporting world, whether Billy did or did not 
exceed the five minutes by a very few seconds. A 
merely average terrier will easily kill fifty rats in 
a pit in eight minutes, but many far exceed such a 
number. One dealer told me that he would back 
a terrier bitch which did not weigh 12 lbs. to kill 
100 rats in six minutes. The price of these dogs 
ranges with that of the bull- terriers. 

The passion for rat-hunting is evidently on the 
increase, and seems to have attained the popu- 
larity once vouchsafed to cock-fighting. There 
are now about seventy regular pits in London, 
besides a few that are nm up for temporary pur- 
poses. The landlord of a house in the Borough, 
familiar with these sports, told me that they 
would soon have to breed rats for a sufficient 

But it is not for the encounter with dogs alone, 
the issue being that so many rats shall be killed 
in a given time, that these vermin are becoming a 
trade commodity. Another use for them is an- 
nounced in the following card : — 


A Rare Evening's Sport for the Fancy will take place 
at the 


On Tuesday Euening next, May 27. 


has backed his Ferret against Mr. W. B 's Ferret to 

kill 6 Rats each, for lOj, a-side. 

He is still open to match his Ferret for £\ to £5 to kill 
against any other Ferret in London. 

Two other Matches with Terriers will come qff the same 

Matches take place every Evening. Rats always 

on hand for the accommodation of Gentlemen to try 
their dogs. 

Under the Management of 

As a rat-killer, a ferret is not to be compared 
to a dog ; but his use is to kill rats in holes, 



inaccessible to dogs, or to drive the vermin out of 
their holes into some open space, where they can 
be destroyed. Ferrets are worth from 1/. to 41. 
They are not animals of street-sale. 

The management of these sports is principally 
in the hands of the street dog-sellers, as indeed is 
the dog-trade generally. They are the breeders, 
dealers, and sellers. They are compelled, as it 
were, to exhibit their dogs in the streets, that 
they may attract the attention of the rich, who 
would not seek them in their homes in the suburbs. 
The evening business in rat-hunting, &c., for such 
it is principally, perhaps doubles the incomes I 
have specified as earned merely by sireet-sale. The 
amount " turned over " in the trade in sporting- 
dogs yearly in London, was computed for me by 
one of the' traders at from 12,000/. to 15,000/. 
He could not, however, lay down any very precise 
statistics, as some bull-dogs, bull-terriers, &c., were 
bred by butchers, tanners, publicans, horse-dealers, 
and others, and disposed of privately. 

In ray account of the former condition of the 
dog-trade, I had to dwell principally on the steal- 
ing and restoring of dogs. This is now the least 
part of the subject. The alteration in the law, 
consequent upon the parliamentary inquiry, soon 
wrought a great change, especially the enactment 
of the 6th Sect, in the Act 8 and 9 Vict. c. 47. 
*' Any person who shall corruptly take any money 
or reward, directly or indirectly, under pretence 
or upon account of aiding any person to recover 
any dog which shall have been stolen, or which 
shall be in the possession of any person not being 
the owner thereof, shall be gtiilty of a misdemean- 
our, and punishable accordingly." 

There may now, lam informed, be half a dozen 
fellows who make a precarious living by dog-steal- 
ing. These men generally keep out of the way 
of the street dog-sellers, who would not scruple, 
they assure me, to denounce their practices, as 
the more security a purchaser feels in the property 
and possession of a dog, the better it is for the 
regular business. One of these dog-stealers, dressed 
like a lime-burner — they generally appear as me- 
chanics — was lately seen to attempt the enticing 
away of a dog. Any idle good-for-nothing fel- 
low, slinking about the streets, would also, I 
waa informed, seize any stray dog within his 
Teach, and sell it for any trifle he could obtain. 
One dealer told me that there might still be a 
little doing in the "restoring" way, and with 
that way of life were still mixed up names which 
figured in the parliamentary inquiry, but it was 
a mere nothing to what it was formerly. 

From a man acquainted with the dog business 
I bad the following account. My informant was 
not at present connected with the dog and rat 
basinets, but he seemed to hare what is called a 
" hankering aft4>r it." He had been a pot-boy in 
bis youth, and had assisted at the bar of public- 
houses, and so had acquired a taste for sporting, as 
■ome *' fancy coves " were among the frequenters 
of the tap-room and skittle-ground. lie had 
tpeenlated a little in dogs, which a friend reared, 
and be told to the pttblic-hou«e customers. " At 

last I went slap into the dog-trade," he said, 
" but I did no good at all. There 's a way to do 
it, I dare say, or perhaps you must wait to get 
known, but then you may starve as you wait. I 
tried Smithfield first — it 's a good bit since, but I 
can't say how long — and I had a couple of tidy 
little terriers that we'd bred ; I thought I 'd begin 
cheap to turn over money quick, so I asked 12s. 
a-piece for them. 0, in course they weren't a 
werry pure sort. But I couldn't sell at all. If a 
grazier, or a butcher, or anybody looked at them, 
and asked their figure, they 'd say, * Twelve 
sliil'.ings ! a dog what ain't worth more nor 12^. 
ain't worth a d n I ' I asked one gent a sove- 
reign, but there was a lad near that sung out, 
* Why, you only axed 125. a bit since ; ain't you 
a-coming itl' After that, I was glad to get away. 
I had five dogs when I started, and about 11, 8s. Gd. 
in money, and some middling clothes ; but my 
money soon went, for I could do no business, and 
there was the rent, and then the dogs must be 
properly fed, or they 'd soon show it. At last, 
when things grew uncommon taper, I almost 
grudged the poor things their meat and their sop, 
for they were filling their bellies, and I was an 
'ung'ring. I got so seedy, too, that it was no use 
trying the streets, for any one would think I 'd 
stole the dogs. So I sold them one by one. I 
think I got about 5s. apiece for them, for people 
took their advantage on me. After that I fasted 
oft enough. I helped about the pits, and looked 
out for jobs of any kind, cleaning knives and spit- 
toons at a public-house, and such-like, for a bite 
and sup. And I sometimes got leave to sit up all 
night in a stable or any out-house with a live rat 
trap that I could always borrow, and catch rats to 
sell to the dealers. If I could get three lively rats 
in a night, it was good work, for it was as good as 
Is. to me. I sometimes won a pint, or a tanner, 
when I could cover it, by betting on a rat-hnnt 
with helpers like myself — but it was only a few 
places we were let into, just where I was known 
— 'cause I 'm a good judge of a dog, you see, and 
if I had it to try over again, I think I could knock a 
tidy living out of dog-selling. Yes,rdlike to try well 
enough, but it's no use trying if you haven't a 
fairish bit of money. I 'd only myself to keep all this 
time, but that was one too many. I got leave to sleep 
in hay-lofts, or stables, or anywhere, and I have 
slept in the park. I don't know how many 
months I was living this way. I got not to mind 
it much at last. Then I got to carry out the day 
and night beers for a potman what had hurt his 
foot and couldn't walk quick and long enough for 
supplying his beer, as there was five rounds every 
day. He lent me an apron and a jacket to be 
decent. After that I got a potman's situation. 
No, I 'm not much in the dog and rat line now, 
and don't see much of it, for I 've very little 
opportunity. But I 've a very nice Scotch terrier 
to sell if you should be wanting such a thing, or 
hear of any of your friends wanting one. Jt '$ 
dirt cheap at 30*,, just about a year old. Yes, I 
generally has a dog, and swops and sella. Most 
masters allows that in a quiet respectable way." 



Of the Strbet-Sellkrs of Live Birds. 

The hiidi-sellers in the streets are also the bird- 
catchers in the fields, plains, heaths, and woods, 
which still surround the metropolis ; and in com- 
pliance with established precedent it may be 
proper that I should give an account of the catch- 
ing, before I proceed to any further statement of 
the procedures subsequent thereunto. The bird- 
catchers are precisely what I have described them 
in my introductory remarks. An intelligent man, 
versed in every part of the bird business, and well 
acquainted with the character of all engaged in it, 
said they might be represented as of " the fancy," 
in a small way, and always glad to run after, and 
full of admiration of, fighting men. The bird- 
catcher's life is one essentially vagrant ; a few 
gipsies pursue it, and they mix little in street- 
trades, except as regards tinkering; and the mass, 
not gipsies, who become bird-catchers, rarely leave 
it for any other avocation. They " catch " unto 
old age. During last winter two men died in the 
parish of Clerkenwell, both turned seventy, and 
both bird-catchers — a profession they had followed 
from the age of six. 

The mode of catching I will briefly describe. 
It is principally effected by means of nets. A 
bird-net is about twelve yards square ; it is spread 
flat upon the ground, to which it is secured by 
four " stars," These are iron pins, which are 
inserted in the field, and hold the net, but so that 
the two "wings," or "flaps," which are indeed the 
sides of the nets, are not confined by the stars. 
In the middle of the net is a cage with a fine wire 
roof, widely worked, containing the " call-bird." 
This bird is trained to sing loudly and cheerily, 
great care being bestowed upon its tuition, and 
its song attracts the wild birds. Sometimes a 
few stuffed birds are spread about the cage as if 
a flock were already assembling there. The bird- 
catcher lies flat and motionless on the ground, 20 
or 30 yards distant from the edge of the net. As 
soon as he considers that a sufliiciency of birds 
have congregated around his decoy, he rapidly 
draws towards him a line, called the "pull-line," 
of which he has kept hold. This is so loopfd and 
run within the edges of the net, that on being 
smartly pulled, the two wings of the net collapse 
and fly together, the stars still keeping their hold, 
and the net encircles the cage of the call-bird, and 
incloses in its folds all the wild birds allured 
round it. In fact it then resembles a great cage 
of net-work. The captives are secured in cages — 
the call-bird continuing to sing as if in mockery of 
their struggles — or in hampers proper for the 
purpose, which are carried on the man's back to 

The use of the call-bird as a means of decoy is 
very ancient. Sometimes — and more especially 
in the dark, as in the taking of nightingales — the 
bird-catcher imitates the notes of the birds to be 
captured. A small instrument has also been used 
for the purpose, and to this Chaucer, although 
figuratively, alludes : " So, the birde is begyled 
with the merry voice of the foulers' whistel, when 
it is closed in your nette." 

Sometimes, in the pride of the season, a bird- 
catcher engages a costermonger's poney or donkey 
cart, and perhaps his boy, the better to convey 
the birds to town. The net and its apparatus 
cost 1/. The call-bird, if he have a good wild 
note — goldfinches and linnets being principally bo 
used — is worth 10s. at the least. 

The bird-cather's life has many, and to the 
constitution of some minds, irresistible charms. 
There is the excitement of "sport" — not the 
headlong excitement of the chase, where the blood 
is stirred by motion and exercise — but slill sport 
surpassing that of the angler, who plies his finest 
art to capture one fish at a time, while the bird- 
catcher despises an individual capture, but seeks 
to ensnare a flock at one twitch of a line. There 
is, moreover, the attraction of idleness, at least for 
intervals, and sometimes long intervals — perhaps 
the great charm of fishing — and basking in the 
lazy sunshine, to watch the progress of the snares. 
Birds, however, and more especially linnets, are 
caught in the winter, when it is not quite such 
holiday work. A bird-dealer (not a street-seller) 
told me that the greatest number of birds he had 
ever heard of as having been caught at one pull 
was nearly 200. My informant happened to be 
present on the occasion. "Pulls" of 50, 100, 
and 150 are not very unfrequent when the young 
broods are all on the wing. 

Of the bird-catchers, including all who reside 
in Woolwich, Greenwich, Hounslow, Isleworth, 
Barnet, Uxbridge, and places of similar distance, 
all working for the London market, there are 
about 200. The localities where these men 
" catch," are the neighbourhoods of the places I 
have mentioned as their residences, and at Hollo- 
vi^ay, Hampstead, Highgate, Finchley, Battersea, 
Blackheath, Putney, Mortlake, Chiswick, Rich- 
mond, Hampton, Kingston, Eltham, Carshalton, 
Streatham, the Tootmgs, Woodford, Epping, 
Snaresbrook, Walthamslow, Tottenham, Edmon- 
ton — wherever, in fine, are open fields, plains, or 
commons around the metropolis. 

I will first enumerate the several birds sold in 
the streets, as well as the supply to the shops by 
the bird-catchers. I have had recourse to the 
best sources of information. Of the number of 
birds which I shall specify as " supplied," or 
" caught," it must be remembered that a not-very- 
small proportion die before they can be trained to 
song, or inured to a cage life. I shall also give 
the street prices. All the birds are caught by the 
nets with call-birds, excepting such as I shall 
notice. I take the singing birds first. 

The Linnet is the cheapest and among the most 
numerous of what may be called the London-caught 
birds, for it is caught in the nearer suburbs, such 
as Holloway. The linnet, however, — the brown 
linnet being the species — is not easily reared, and 
for some time ill brooks confinement. About one- 
half of those birds die after having been caged a 
few days. The other evening a bird-catcher 
supplied 26 fine linnets to a shopkeeper in Pen- 
tonville, and next morning ten were dead. But 
in some of those bird shops, and bird chambers 
connected with the shops, the heat at the time 



the new broods are caught and caged, is ex- 
ccMire; and the atmosphere, from the crowded 
and compulsory fellowship of pigeons, and all 
descriptions of small birds, with white rats, 
hedgehogs, guinea-pigs, and other creatures, is 
often very foul ; so that the wonder is, not that 
•0 many die, but that so many survive. 

Some bird-connoisseurs prefer the note of the 
linnet to that of the canary, but this is far from a 
general preference. The young birds are sold in 
the streets at 8d. and 4rf, each ; the older birds, 
which are accustomed to sing in their cages, from 
1*. to 2t. 6d. The " catch " of linnets — none 
being imported — may be estimated, for London 
alone, at 70,000 yearly. The mortality I have 
mentioned is confined chiefly to that year's brood. 
One- tenth of the catch is sold in the streets. Of 
the quality of the street-sold birds I shall speak 

The Bullfinch, which is bold, familiar, docile, 
and easily attached, is a favourite cage-bird among 
the Londoners ; I speak of course as regards the 
body of the people. It is as readily sold in the 
streets as any other singing bird. Piping bull- 
finches are also a part of street-trade, but only to 
a small extent, and with bird-sellers who can 
carry them from their street pitches, or call on 
their rounds, at places where they are known, to 
exhibit the powers of the bird. The piping is 
taught to these finches when very young, and they 
must be brought up by their tutor, and be familiar 
with him. When little more than two months 
old, they begin to whistle, and then their training 
as pipers must commence. This tuition, among 
professional bullfinch-trainers, is systematic. They 
have schools of birds, and teach in bird-classes of 
firom four to seven members in each, six being a 
frequent number. These classes, when their edu- 
cation commences, are kept unfed for a longer 
time than they have been accustomed to, and they 
are placed in a darkened room. The bird is wake- 
ful and attentive from the want of his food, and 
the tune he is to learn is played several times on 
an instrument made for the purpose, and known 
M a bird-organ, its notes resembling those of the 
bnllfinch. For an hour or two the young pupils mope 
silently, but they gradually begin to imitate the 
notes of the music played to them. When one 
commences — and he is looked upon as the most 
likely to make a good piper — the others soon 
follow his example. The light is then admitted 
and a portion of food, but not a full meal, is given 
to the birds. Thus, by degrees, by the playing 
on the bird-organ (a fiute is sometimes used), by 
the admission of light, which is always agreeable 
to the finch, and by the reward of more and more, 
and sometimes more relishable food, the pupil 
" practises " the notes he bears continuously. The 
birds are then given into the care of boys, who 
attend to them without intermission in a similar 
way, their original teacher still overlooking, prais- 
ing, or rating his scholars, till they acquire a 
tone which they pipe as long as they live. It is 
■aid, however, that only five per cent, of the num- 
ber taught pipe in perfect harmony. The bull- 
finch is often pettish in his piping, and will in 

many instances not pipe at all, unless in the 
presence of some one who feeds it, or to whom it 
has become attached. 

The system of training I have described is that 
practised by the Germans, who have for many 
years supplied this country with the best piping 
bulltinches. Some of the dealers will undertake 
to procure English-taught bullfinches which will 
pipe as well as the foreigners, but I am told 
that this is a prejudice, if not a trick, of 
trade. The mode of teaching in this country, by 
barbers, weavers, and bird-fanciers generally, who 
seek for a profit from their pains-taking, is' some- 
what similar to that which I have detailed, but 
with far less elaborateness. The price of a piping 
bullfinch is about three guineas. These pipers are 
also reared and taught in Leicestershire and Nor- 
folk, and sent to London, as are the singing bull- 
finches which do not " pipe." 

The bullfinches netted near London are caught 
more numerously about Hounslow than elsewhere. 
In hard winters they are abundant in th'e out- 
skirts of the metropolis. The yearly supply, 
including those sent from Norfolk, &c., is about 
30,000. The bullfinch is "hearty compared to 
the linnet," I was told, but of the amount which 
are the objects of trade, not more than two-thirds 
live many weeks. The price of a good young 
bullfinch is 2s. 6d. and 3^. They are often sold 
in the streets for Is. The hawking or street 
trade comprises about a tenth of the whole. 

The sale of piping bullfinches is, of course, 
small, as only the rich can aiford to buy them. A 
dealer estimated it at about 400 yearly. 

The Goldfinch is also in demand by street cus- 
tomers, and is a favourite from its liveliness, 
beauty, and sometimes sagacity. It is, moreover, 
the longest lived of our caged small birds, and will 
frequently live to the age of fifteen or sixteen 
years. A goldfinch has been known to exist 
twenty-three years in a cage. Small birds, gene- 
rally, rarely live more than nine years. This 
finch is also in demand because it most readily of 
any bird pairs with the canary, the produce being 
known as a "mule," which, from its prettiness 
and powers of song, is often highly valued. 

Goldfinches are sold in the streets at from 6rf. 
to 1*. each, and when there is an extra catch, and 
they are nearly all caught about London, and the 
shops are fully stocked, at Zd. and 4rf. each. The 
yearly catch is about the same as that of the linnet, 
or 70,000, the mortality being perhaps 30 per 
cent. If any one casts his eye over the stock of 
hopping, chirping little creatures in the window of 
a bird-shop, or in the close array of small cages 
hung outside, or at the stock of a street-seller, he 
will be struck by the preponderating number of 
goldfinches. No doubt the dealer, like any other 
shopkeeper, dresses his window to the best advan- 
tage, putting forward his smartest and prettiest 
birds. The demand for the goldfinch, especially 
among women, is steady and regular. The street- 
sale is a tenth of the whole. 

The Chaffinch is in less request than either of 
its congeners, the bullfinch or the goldfinch, but 
the catch is about half that of the bullfinch, and 



with the same rate of mortality. The prices are 
also the same. 

Greenfinches (called (jreen hirds, or sometimes 
green linnets, in the streets) are in still smaller 
request than are chaffinches, and that to about 
one-half. Even this smaller stock is little sale- 
able, as the bird is regarded as " only a middling 
singer." They are sold in the open air, at 2rf. and 
Zd. each, but a good " green bird" is worth 2s. 6rf. 

Larks are of good sale and regular supply, 
being perhaps more readily caught than other 
birds, as in winter they congregate in large 
quantities. It may be thought, to witness the 
restless throwing up of the head of the caged 
sky-lark, as if he were longing for a soar in the 
air, that he was very impaiient of restraint. This 
does not appear to be so much the fact, as the 
lark adapts himself to the poor confines of his 
prison — poor indeed for a bird who soars higher 
and longer than any of his class — more rapidly 
than other wild birds, like the linnet, &c. The 
mortality of larks, however, approaches one-third. 

The yearly '' take" of larks is 60,000. This in- 
cludes sky-laiks, wood-larks, tit-larks, and mud- 
larks. The sky-lark is in far better demand than 
any of the others for his "stoutness of song," but 
some prefer the tit-lark, from the very absence of 
such stoutness. " Fresh-catched" larks are vended 
in the streets at 6rf. and %d., but a seasoned bird 
is worth Is. 6d. One-tenth is the street-sale. 

The larks for the supply of fashionable tables 
are never provided by the London bird-catchers, 
who catch only " singing larks," for the shop and 
street-traffic. The edible laiks used to be highly 
esteemed in pies, but they are now generally 
roasted for consumption. They are principally the 
produce of Cambridgeshire, with some from Bed- 
fordshire, and are sent direct (killed) to Leaden- 
hall-raarket, where about 215,000 are sold yearly, 
being nearly two-thirds of the gross London con- 

It is only within these twelve or fifteen years 
that the London dealers have cared to trade to any 
extent in Nightingales, but tiiey are now a part 
of the stock of every bird-shop of the more flourish- 
ing class. Before that they were merely exceptional 
as cage-birds. As it is, the " domestication," if 
the word be allowable with reference to the night- 
ingale, is but partial. Like all migratory birds, 
when the season for migration .'ipproaches, the 
caged nightingale shows symptoms of great un- 
easiness, dashing himself against the wires of his 
cage or his aviary, and sometimes dying in a few 
days. Many of the nightuigales, however, let the 
season pass away without showiiig any conscious- 
ness that it was, with the race of birds to which 
they belonged, one for a change of place. To 
induce the nightingale to sing in the daylight, a 
paper cover is often placed over the cage, which 
may be gradually and gradually withdrawn until 
it can be dispi-nsed with. This is to induce the 
appearance of twilight or night. On the subject 
of this night-singing, however, I will cite a short 
passage. . 

" The Nightingale is usually supposed to with- 
hold bis notes till the sun has set, and then to be 

I the only songster left. This is, however, not 
quite true, for he sings in the day, often as sweetly 
land as powerfully as at night; but amidst the 
' general chorus of other singing birds, his efforts 
are little noticed. Neither is he by any means 
the only feathered musician of the night. The 
Wood-lark will, to a very late hour, pour forth its 
rich notes, flying in circles round the female, when 
sitting on her nest. The Sky-lark, too, may 
frequently be heard till near midnight high in the 
air, soaring as if in the brightness of a summer's 
morning. Again we have listened with pleasure 
long alter dark to the warblings of a Thrush, and 
been awakened at two in the morning by its 
sweet serenade." It appears, however, that this 
night-singing, as regards England, is on fine 
summer nights when the darkness is never very 
dense. In lar northern climates larks sing all ni^ht. 
I am inclined to believe that the mortality 
among nightingales, before they are reconciled to 
their new life, is higher than that of any other 
bird, and much exceeding one-half. The dealers 
may be unwilling to admit this; but such mor- 
tality is, I have been assured on good authority, 
the case ; besides that, the habits of the nightin- 
gale unfit him for a cage existence. 

The capture of the nightingale is among the 
most difficult achievements of the profession. None 
are caught nearer than Epping, and the ca tellers 
travel considerable distances before they have a 
chance of success. These birds are caught at night, 
and more often by their captor's imitation of the 
nightingale's note, than with the aid of the call- 
bird. Perhaps 1000 nightingales are reared yearly 
in London, of which three-fourths may be, more 
or less, songsters. The inferior birds are sold at 
about 2s. each, the street-sale not reaching 100, 
but the birds, "caged and singing," are worth 1^. 
each, when of the best; and IO5. 12s. and 15s. 
each when approaching the best. The mortality I 
have estimated. 

Redbreasts are a portion of the street-sold birds, 
but the catch is not large, not exceeding 30U0, 
with a mortality of about a third. Even this num- 
ber, small as it is, when compared with tlie numbers 
of other singing birds sold, is got rid of with diffi- 
culty. There is a popular feeling repugnant to 
the imprisonment, or coercion in any way, of 
" a robin," and this, no doubt has its influence in 
moderating the demand, 'ihe redbreast is sold, 
when young, both in the shops and streets for Is., 
when caged and singing, sometimes for \l. These 
birds are considered to sing best by candlelight. 
The street-sale is a fifth, or sometimes a quarter, 
all young birds, or with the rarest exceptions. 

The Thriish, Throstle, or (in Scottish poetry) 
Mavis, is of good sale. It is reared by hand, for 
the London market, in manj' of the villages and 
small towns at no great distance, the nests being 
robbed of the young, wherever tliey can be 
found. The nestling food of the infant thrush 
is grubs, worms, and snails, with an occasional 
moth or butterfly. On tiiis kind of diet the 
young thrushes are reared until they are old 
enough for sale to the shopkeeper, or to any 
private patron. Thrushes are also netted, but 



those reared by hand are much the best, as such 
a rearing disposes the bird the more to enjoy his 
cage life, as he has never experienced the delights 
of the free hedges and thickets. This process 
the catchers call " rising " from the nest. A 
throstle thus " rose " soon becomes familiar with 
his owner — always supposing that he be properly 
fed and his cage duly cleaned, for all birds detest 
dirt — and among the working-men of England no 
bird is a greater favourite than the thrush ; indeed 
few other birds are held in such liking by the 
artisiin class. About a fourth of the thrushes 
supplied to the metropolitan traders have been 
thus " rose," and as they must be sufficiently grown 
before they will be received by the dealers, the 
mortiility among them, when once able to feed 
themselves, in their wicker-work cages, is but 
small. Perhaps somewhere about a fourth perish 
in this hand-rearing, and some men, the aristo- 
crats of the trade, let a number go when they 
have ascertained that they are hens, as these men 
exert themselves to bring up thrushes to sing well, 
and then they command good prices. Uften enough, 
however, the hens are sold cheap in the streets. 
Among the catch supplied by netting, there is a 
mortality of perhaps m«re than a third. The 
whole take is about 35,000. Of the sale the 
streets have a tenth proportion. The prices run 
from 2i. QU. and 3*. for the " fresh-caught," and 
10*., l/.,and as much as 21. for a seasoned throstle 
in high song. Indeed I may observe that for any 
singing bird, which is considered greatly to excel 
its mates, a high price is obtainable. 

liUukbirdt appear to be less prized in London 
than thrushes, fur, though with a melluwer note, 
the blackbird is not so free a singer in captivity. 
They are "rose" and netted in the same manner 
tA the thrush, but the supply is less by one-fifth. 
The prices, mortality, street-sale, &c., are in the 
same ratio. 

The street-sale of Canaries is not large; not 
so large, I am assured by wen in the trade, as it 
was six or seven years ago, more especially as re- 
garded the higher-priced birds of this open-air 
traffic. Canaries are now never brought from the 
group of islands, thirteen in number, situate in the 
North Atlantic and near the African coast, and 
from which they derive their name. To these 
islands and to these alone (as far as is known to 
oriiiihologiats) are they indigenous. The canary is 
a slow flyer uud soon wearied ; this is one reason 
no doubt for its not migrating. This delightful 
songster was first brought into England in the 
reign of Khaabeth, at the era when so many 
foreign luxuries (as they were then considered, 
and stigmatised accordingly) were introduced; 
of these were potatoes, tobacco, turkeys, necta- 
rines, and canaiies. I have seen no account of 
what was the cost of a canary-bird when first 
importt^-d, but there is nu doubt that they were 
very dear, as they were found only in the abodes 
of the wealthy. This bird-trade seems, more- 
over, to have been so profitable to the Spaniards, 
then and now the possessors of the isles, that a 
goveniuieiit order fur the killing or setting at 
liberty of all ben canaries, caught with the males, 

was issued in order that the breed might be con- 
fined to its native country ; a decree not attended 
with successful results as regards the intention of 
the then ruling powers. 

The foreign supply to this country is now prin- 
cipally from Holland and Germany, where canaries 
are reared in great numbers, with that care which 
the Dutch in especial bestow upon everything on 
which money-making depends, and whence they 
are sent or brought over in the spring of every year, 
when from nine to twelve months old. Thirty 
years ago, the Tyrolese were the principal breeders 
and purveyors of canaries for the London market. 
From about the era of the peace of 1814, on the 
first abdication of Napoleon, for ten or twelve 
years they brought over about 2000 birds yearly. 
They travelled the whole way on foot, carrying 
the birds in cages on their backs, until they 
reached whatever port in France or the Nether- 
lands (as Belgium then was) they might be bound 
for. The price of a canary of an average quality was 
then from 6*. to 8s. (3c/., and a fair proportion 
were street-sold. At that period, I was told, the 
principal open-air sale for canaries (and it is only 
of that I now write) was in AYhitechapel and 
Bethnal-green. All who are familiar with those 
localities may smile to think that the birds chirp- 
ing and singing in these especially urban places, 
were bred for such street-traffic in the valleys of 
the Khajtian Al^^s ! I presume that it was the 
greater rapidity of communication, and the conse- 
quent diminished cost of carriage, between Eng- 
land, Holland, and Germany, that caused the 
Tyrolese to abandon the trade as one unremune- 
rative — even to men who will live on bread, 
onions, and water. 

I have, perhaps, dwelt somewhat at length on 
this portion of the subject, but it is the most 
curious portion of all, for the canary is the only 
one of all our singing-birds which is soldi/ a 
household thing. Linnets, finches, larks, night- 
ingales, thrushes, and blackbirds, are all free 
denizens of the open air, as well as prisoners in 
our rooms, but the canary with us is unknown in a 
wild stale. " Though not very handy," wrote, in 
1848, a very observant naturalist, the late Dr. 
Stanley, Bishop of Norwich, "canaries might pos- 
sibly be naturalized in our country, by putting 
their eggs in the nests of sparrows, chaffinches, 
or other similar birds. The experiment has been 
partially tried in Berkshire, where a pvrson for 
yeara kept them in an exposed aviary out of doors, 
and where they seemed to suffer no inconvenience 
from the severest weather." 

The breeaiiig of tan.iries in this country for the 
London supply has greatly increased. Tht-y are 
bred in Leicester and Norwich, weavers being 
generally fond of birds. In London itself, also, 
they are bred to a greater extent than used to be 
the case, barbers being among the moat assiduous 
rearers of the canary. A dealer who trades in 
both foreign and home-bred birds thought that 
the supply from the country, and from the Con- 
tinent, was about the tame, bUOO to UOOU each, 
not including what were sold by the barberc, who 
are regarded as " fanciers," not to say interlopers, 

B 8 



by the dealers. No species of birds are ever 
bred by the shop-dealers. The price of a brisk 
canary is 65. or 65. ; but they are sold in the streets 
as low as \s. each, a small cage worth Qd. being 
sometimes included. These, however, are hens. 
As in the life of a canary there is no transition 
from freedom to enthral ment, for they are in a 
cage in the egg, and all their lives afterwards, 
they are subject to a far lower rate of mortality 
than other street-sold birds. A sixteenth of the 
number above stated as forming the gross supply 
are sold in the streets. 

The foregoing enumeration includes all the 
singing-birds of street-traffic and street-folk's 
supply. The trade I have thus sketched is cer- 
tainly one highly curious. We find that there is 
round London a perfect belt of men, employed 
from the first blush of a summer's dawn, through 
the heats of noon, in many instances during the 
night, and in the chills of winter; and all labour- 
ing to give to city-pent men of humble means one 
of the peculiar pleasures of the country — the song 
of the birds. It must not be supposed that I would 
intimate that the bird-catcher's life, as regards his 
field and wood pursuits, is one of hardship. On 
the contrarj', it seems to me to be the very one 
which, perhaps unsuspected by himself, is best 
suited to his tastes and inclinations. Nor can we 
think similar pursuits partake much of hardship 
when we find independent men follow them for 
mere sport, to be rid of lassitude. 

But the detail of the birds captured for the 
Londoners by no means ends here. I have yet 
to describe those which are not songsters, and which 
are a staple of street-traffic to a greater degree 
than birds of song. Of these my notice may be 

The trade in Sparrows is almost exclusively a 
street-trade and, numerically considered, not an 
inconsiderable one. They are netted in quantities 
in every open place near London, and in many 
places in London. It is common enough for a 
bird-catcher to obtain leave to catch sparrows 
in a wood-yard, a brick-field, or places where 
is an open space certain to be frequented by 
these bold and familiar birds. The sparrows are 
sold in the streets generally at Id. each, some- 
times halfpenny, and sometimes \\d., and for no 
purpose of enjoyment (as in the case of the cheap 
songbirds), but merely as playthings for children ; 
in other words, for creatures wilfully or igno- 
rantly to be tortured. Strings are tied to their 
legs and so they have a certain degree of freedom, 
but when they offer to fly away they are checked, 
and kept fluttering in the air as a child will flutter 
a kite. One man told me that he had sometimes 
sold as many as 200 sparrows in the back streets 
about Smithfield on a fine Sunday. These birds 
are not kept in cages, and so they can only be 
bought for a plaything. They oft enough escape 
from their persecutors. 

But it is not merely for the sport of children 
that sparrows are purveyed, but for that of grown 
men, or — as Charles Lamb, if I remember rightly. 

qualifies it, when he draws a Pentonville sports- 
man with a little shrubbery for his preserve — for 
grown cockneys. The birds for adult recreation 
are shot in sparrow-matches ; the gentleman 
slaughtering the most being, of course, the hero of 
a sparrow " hattm." One dealer told me that he 
had frequently supplied dozens of sparrows for 
these matches, at 2s. the dozen, but they were re- 
quired to be fine bold birds ! One dealer thought 
that during the summer months there were as 
many sparrows caught close to and within Lon- 
don as there were goldfinches in the' less urban 
districts. These birds are sold direct from the 
hands of the catcher, so that it is less easy to 
arrive at statistics than when there is the"^ in- 
tervention of dealers who know the extent of 
the trade carried on. I was told by several, who 
had no desire to exaggerate, that to estimate this 
sparrow-sale at 10,000 yearly, sold to children 
and idlers in the streets, was too low, but at that 
estimate, the outlay, at Id. a sparrow, would 'be 
850^. The adult sportsmen may slaughter half 
that number yearly in addition. The sporting 
sparrows are derived from the shopkeepers, Avho, 
when they receive the opder, instruct the catchers 
to go to work. 

Starlings used to be sold in very great quanti- 
ties in the streets, but the trade is now but the 
shadow of its former state. The starling, too, is 
far less numerous than it was, and has lost much 
of its popularity. It is now seldom seen in flocks 
of more than 40, and it is rare to see a flock at 
all, although these birds at one period mustered 
in congregations of hundreds and even thousands. 
Euins, and the roofs of ancient houses and 
barns — for they love the old and decaying build- 
ings — were once covered with them. The starling 
was moreover the poor man's and the peasant's 
parrot. He was taught to speak, and sometimes 
to swear. But now the starling, save as re- 
gards his own note, is mute. He is seldom tamed 
or domesticated and taught tricks. It is true 
starlings may be seen carried on sticks in the 
street as if the tamest of the tame, but they are 
" braced." Tapes are passed round their bodies, 
and so managed that the bird cannot escape from 
the stick, while his fetters are concealed by his 
feathers, the street-seller of course objecting to 
allow his birds to be handled. 

Starlings are caught chiefly Ilford way, I was 
told, and about Turnham-green. Some are "rose" 
from the nest. The price is from %d. to 2s. each. 
About -3000 are sold annually, half in the streets. 
After having been braced, or ill-used, the starling, 
if kept as a solitary bird, will often mope and 

Jackdaws and Magpies are in less demand than 
might be expected from their vivacity. Many of 
the other birds are supplied the year round, but 
daws and pies for only about two months, from the 
middle of June to the middle of August. The 
price is from Qd. to Is. and about 1000 are thus 
disposed of, in equal quantities, one-half in the 
streets. These birds are for the most part reared 
from the nest, but little pains appear to be taken 
with them. 



The Redpoie is rather a favourite bird among 
street-buyers, especially where children are al- 
lowed to choose birds from a stock. I am told 
that they most frequently select a goldfinch or a 
redpoie. These birds are supplied for .ibout two 
months. About 800 or 1000 is the extent of the 
take. The mortality and prices are the same as 
with the goldfinch, but a goldfinch in high song 
is worth twice as much as the best redpoie. 
About a third of the sale of the redpoie is in the 

There are also 150 or 200 Black-caps sold an- 
nually in the open air, at from Zd. to bd, each. 

These are the chief birds, then, that constitute 
the trade of the streets, with the addition of an 
occasional yellow-hammer, wren, jay, or even 
cuckoo. They also, with the addition of pigeons, 
form the stock of the bird-shops. 

I have shown the number of birds caught, the 
number which survive for sale, and the cost ; and, 
as usual, under the head of " Statistics," will be 
shown the whole annual expenditure. This, how- 
ever, is but a portion of the London outlay on 
birds. There is, in addition, the cost of their 
cages and of their daily food. The commonest 
and smallest cage costs 6rf,, a frequent price being 
1». A thrush's basket-cage cannot be bought, 
imless rubbish, under 2^. M. I have previously 
shown the amount paid for the green food of 
birds, and for their turfs, &c., for these are all 
branches of street-commerce. Of their other food, 
such as rape and canary-seed, German paste, 
chopped eggs, biscuit, &c., I need but intimate 
the extent by showing what birds will consume, 
as it is not a portion of street-trade. 

A goldfinch, it has been proved by experimen- 
talising ornithologists, will consume 90 grains, in 
weight, of canary-seed in 24 hours. A green- 
finch, for whose use 80 grains of wheat were 
weighed out, ate 79 of them in 24 hours ; and, on 
another occasion ate, in the same space of time, 
100 grains of a paste of eggs and flour. Sixteen 
canaries consumed 100 grains' weight of food, each 
bird, in 24 hours. The amount of provision thus 
eaten was about one-sixth of the full weight of 
the bird's bodv, or an equivalent, were a man to 
swallow victuals in the same proportion, of 25 Jbs. 
in 24 hours. I may remark, moreover, that the 
destruction of caterpillar^, insects, worms, &c., 
by the small birds, is enormous, especially during 
the infancy of their nestlings. A pair of sparrows 
fed their brood 3G times an hour for 14 hours 
of a long spring day, and, it was calculated, ad- 
ministered to them in one week 3400 caterpillars. 
A pair of chaffinches, also, carried nearly as great 
a number of caterpillars for the maintenance of 
their young. 

The singing-birds sold in the street are offered 
either singly in small cages, when the cage is 
•old with the bird, or they are displayed in 
a little flock in a long cage, the buyer selecting 
any he prefers. They always appear lively in 
the streets, or indeed a sale would b« hopeless, 
for no one would buy a dull or sick bird. The 
captiret are seen to hop and heard to chirp, but 

they are not often heard to sing when thus offered 
to the public, and it requires some little attention 
to judge what is but an impatient flutter, and 
what is the fruit of mere hilarity. 

The places where the street-sellers more espe- 
cially offer their birds are — Sraithfield, Clerken- 
well-green, Lisson-grove, the City and New roads. 
Shepherdess-walk, Old Street-road, Shoreditch' 
Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Tower-hill, Ratcliffe- 
highway, Commercial-road East, Poplar, Billings- 
gate, Westminster Broadway, Covent-garden, 
Blackfriars-road, Bermondsey (mostly about Dock- 
head), and in the neighbourhood of the Borough 
Market. The street-sellers are also itinerant, 
carrying the birds in cages, holding them up to 
tempt the notice of people whom they see at 
the windows, or calling at the houses. The sale 
used to be very considerable in the "Cut" and 
Lambeth-walk. Sometimes the cages with their 
inmates"are fastened to any contiguous rail ; some- 
times they are placed on a bench or stall ; and 
occasionally in cages on the ground. 

To say nothing, in this place, of the rogueries 
of the bird-trade, I will proceed to show how the 
street-sold birds are frequently inferior to those in 
the shops. The catcher, as I have stated, is also 
the street-seller. He may reach the Dials, or 
whatever quarter the dealer he supplies may re- 
side in, with perhaps 30 linnets and as many 
goldfinches. The dealer selects 24 of each, re- 
fusing the remaining dozen, on account of their 
being hens, or hurt, or weakly birds. The man then 
resorts to the street to effect a sale of that dozen, 
and thus the streets have the refuse of the shops. 
On the other hand, however, when the season is at 
its height, and the take of birds is the largest, as 
at this time of year, the shops are " stocked." 
The cages and recesses are full, and the dealer's 
anxiety is to sell before he purchases more birds. 
The catchers proceed in their avocation ; they 
must dispose of their stock ; the shopkeeper will 
not buy " at any figure," and so the streets are 
again resorted to, and in this way fine birds are 
often sold very cheap. Both these liabilities pre- 
vail the year through, but most in the summer, 
and keep up a sort of poise; but I apprehend that 
the majority, perhaps the great majority, of the 
street-sold birds, are of an inferior sort, but then 
the price is much lower. On occasions when the 
bird-trade is overdone, the catchers will sell a 
few squirrels, or gather snails for the shops. 

The buyers of singing-birds are eminently the 
working people, along with the class of trades- 
men whose means and disposition are of the 
same character ns those of the artisan. Grooms 
and coachmen are frequently fond of birds; 
many are kept in the several mews, and often the 
larger singing-birds, such as blackbirds and 
thrushes. The fondness of a whole body of 
artificers for any particular bird, animal, or flower, 
is remarkable. No better instance need be cited 
than that of the Spitalfields weavers. In the 
days of their prosperity they were the cultivators 
of choice tulips, afterwards, though not in so full a 
degree, of dahlias, and their pigeons were the 
best "fliers" in Bngland. These things were 



accomplished with little cost, comparatively, for 
the weavers were engaged in tasks, grateful and 
natural to their tastes and habitudes ; and what 
was expense in the garden or aviary of the rich, 
was an exercise of skill and industry on the part 
of the silk-weaver. The humanising and even 
refining influence of such pursuits is very great, 
and as regards these pure pleasures it is not seldom 
that the refinement which can appreciate tliera has 
proceeded not to hwi from the artisans. The opera- 
tives have often been in the van of those who have 
led the public taste from delighting in the cruelty 
and barbarity of bear and bull-baiting and of 
cock-fighting — among the worst of all possible 
schools, and very influential those schools were — 
to the delight in some of the most beautiful works 
of nature. It is easy to picture the difference of 
mood between a man going home from a dog-fight 
at night, or going home from a visit to his flowers, 
or from an examination to satisfy himself that his 
birds were " all right." The families of the two 
men felt the difference. Many of the rich appear 
to remain mere savages in their tastes and sports. 
Battues, lion and hippopotamus hunting, &c., — all 
are mere civilized barbarisms. When shall we 
learn, as Wordsworth says, 

" Never to blend our pleasure or our pride 
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels." 

But the change in Spitalfields is great. Since 
the prevalence of low wages the weaver's garden 
has disappeared, and his pigeon-cote, even if its 
timbers have not rotted away, is no longer stocked 
with carriers, dragoons, horsemen, jacobins, monks, 
poulters, turtles, tumblers, fantails, and the many 
varieties of what is in itself a variety — the fancy- 
pigeon. A thrush, or a linnet, may still sing to 
the clatter of the loom, but that is all. The 
culture of the tulip, the dahlia, and (sometimes) 
of the fuclisia, was attended, as I have said, with 
small cost, still it u-as cost, and the weaver, as 
wages grew lower, could not afford either the out- 
lay or the loss of time, Q^o cultivate flowers, or 
rear doves, so as to make them a means of sub- 
sistence, requires a man's whole time, and to 
such things the Spitalfields man did not devote his 
time, but his leisure. 

The readers who have perused this work from 
its first appearance will have noticed how fre- 
quently I have had to comment on the always 
realized indication of good conduct, and of a 
superior taste and generally a superior intelli- 
gence, when I have found the rooms of working 
people contain flowers and birds. I could adduce 
many instances. I have seen and heard birds in 
the rooms of tailors, shoemakers, coopers, cabinet- 
makers, hatters, dressmakers, curriers, and street- 
sellers, — all people of the best class. One of the 
most striking, indeed, was the room of a street- 
coniectioner. His family attended to the sale of 
the sweets, and he was greatly occupied at home 
in their manufacture, and worked away at his 
peppermint-rock, in the very heart of one of the 
thickliest populated parts of London, surrounded 
by the song of thrushes, linnets, and gold- 
finches, all kept, not for profit, but because he 
"loved" to have them about him. I have 

seldom met a man who impressed me more 

The flowers in the room are more attributable 
to the superintending taste of a wife or daughter, 
and are found in the ajjartments of the same class 
of people. 

There is a marked difference between the buyers 
or keepers of birds and of dogs in the working 
classes, especially when the dog is of a sporting 
or " varmint " sort. Such a dog-keeper is often 
abroad and so his home becomes neglected ; he is 
interested about rat-hunts, knows the odds on 
or against the dog's chance to dispatch his rats 
in the time allotted, loses much time and cus- 
tomers, his employers grumbling that tlie work is 
so slowly executed, and so custom or work falls 
off. The bird-lover, on the other hand, is gene- 
rally a more domestic, and, perhaps consequently, 
a more prosperous and contented man. It is 
curious to mark the refining qualities of parti- 
cular trades. I do not remember seeing a bull- 
dog in the possession of any of the Spitalfields 
silk-weavers : with them all was flowers and birds. 
The same I observed with the tailors and other 
kindred occupations. With slaughterers, however, 
and drovers, and Billingsgatemen, and coachmen, 
and cabmen, whose callings naturally tend to 
blunt the sympathy with suffering, the gentler 
tastes are comparatively unknown. The dogs are 
almost all of the "varmint" kind, kept either for 
rat-killing, fighting, or else for their ugliness. 
For " pet " or " fancy " dogs they have no feeling, 
and in singing birds they find little or no 

Of the Bibd-Catchers who ake Street- 
The street-sellers of birds are called by them- 
selves "hawkers," and sometimes "bird hawkers." 

Among the bird-catchers I did not hear of any 
very prominent characters at present, three of the 
best known and most prominent having died 
within these ten months, I found among all I 
saw the vagrant characteristics I have mentioned, 
and often united with a quietness of speech and 
manner which might surprise those who do not 
know that any pursuit which entails frequent si- 
lence, watchfulness, and solitude, forms such man- 
ners. Perhaps the man most talked of by his fel- 
low-labourers, was Old Gilham, who died latel}'. 
Gilhara was his real name, for among the bird- 
catchers there is not that prevalence of nicknames 
which I found among the costermongers and 
patterers. One reason no doubt is, that these 
bird-folk do not meet regularly in the markets. 
It is rarely, however, that thej'know each other's 
surnames. Old Grilham being an exception. It is 
Old Tom, or Young Mick, or Jack, or Dick, 
among them. I heard of no John or llichard. 

For 60 years, almost without intermission, Old 
Gilhaiu caught birds. I am assured that to stJite 
that his " catch" during this long period averaged 
100 a week, hens included, is within the mark, 
for he was a most indefatigable man ; even at that 
computiition, however, he would have been the 
captor, in his lifetime, of three hundred and twelve 



thousand birds ! A bird-catcher who used some- 
times to start in the morning with Old Gilham, 
and walk with him until their roads diverged, told 
me that of late years the old man's talk was a 
good deal of where he had captured his birds in 
the old times : * Why, Ned,' he would say to me, 
proceeded his companion, 'I 've catched gold- 
finches in lots at Chalk Farm, and all where 
there 's that railway smoke and noise just by the 
hill (Primrose Hill). I can't think where they '11 
drite all the birds to by and bye. I dare say 
the hrst time the birds saw a railway with its 
smoke, and noisa to frighten them, and all the 
fire too, they just thought it was the devil was 
come.' He wasn't a fool, wasn't old Gilham, sir. 
' Why,' he 'd go on for to say, ' I 've laid many a 
day at Ball's Pond there, where it 's nothing but 
a lot of houses now, and catched himdreds of 
birds. And I 've catched them where there 's all 
them grand squares Pimlico way, and in Britannia 
Fields, and at White Condic. What with all 
these buildings, and them barbers, I don't know 
what the bird-trade '11 come to. It 's hard for a 
poor man to have to go to Finchley for birds that 
he could have catched at HoUoway once, but 
people never thinks of that When I were young 
I could make three times as much as I do now. 
I 've got a pound for a good sound chaffinch as I 
brought up myself.' Ah, poor old Gilham, sir ; 
I wish you could have seen him, he 'd have told 
you of some queer changes in his time." 

A shopkeeper informed me that a bird-catcher 
had talked to him of even " queerer " changes. This 
man died eight or ten years ago at an advanced 
age, but beyond the fact of his oflFering birds oc- 
casionally at my informant's shop, where he was 
known merely as " the old man," he could tell 
me nothing of the ancient bird-catcher, except that 
he was very fond of a talk, and used to tell how 
he had catched birds between fifty and sixty years, 
and had often, when a lad, catched them where 
many a dock in London now stands. " Where 
there '» many a big ship now in deep water, I 've 
catched flocks of birds. I never catched birds 
to be sure at them docks," he would add, " as was 
dug out of the houses. Why, master, you '11 re- 
member their pulling down St. Katherine's Church, 
and all them rummy streets the t'other side of the 
Tower, for a dock." As I find that the first dock 
constructed on the north side of the Thames, 
the West India dock, was not commenced until 
the year 1800, there seems no reason to dis- 
credit the bird-catcher's statement. Among 
other classes of street-sellers I have had to remark 
the little observation they extended to the changes 
all around, such as the extension of street- traffic 
to miles and miles of suburbs, unknown till re- 
cently. Two thousand miles of houses have been 
boilt in London within the last 20 years. But 
with the bird-catchers this want of observance is 
not so marked. Of necessity thoy must notice 
the changes which have added to the fatigues and 
difficulties of their calling, by compelling them, 
liteimlly, to " go further a-held." 

A young man, rather tall, and evidently active, 
but very thin, gave me the following account His 

manners were quiet and his voice low. His dress 
could not so well be called mean as hard worn, 
with the unmistakable look of much of the attire 
of his class, that it was not made for the wearer ; 
his surtout, for instance, which was fastened in 
front by two buttons, reached down to his ancles, 
and could have inclosed a bigger man. He resided 
in St. Luke's, in which parish there are more bird- 
catchers living than in any other. The furniture 
of his room was very simple. A heavy old sofa, 
in the well of which was a bed, a table, two chairs, 
a fender, a small closet containing a few pots and 
tins, and some twenty empty bird-cages of different 
sizes hung against the walla. In a sort of wooden 
loft, which had originally been constructed, he 
believed, for the breeding of fancy-pigeons, and 
which was erected on the roof, were about a dozen 
or two of cages, some old and broken, and in 
them a few live goldfinches, which hopped about 
very merrily. They were all this year's birds, 
and my informant, who had "a little connec- 
tion of his own," was rearing them in hopes 
they would turn out good specs, quite " birds 
beyond the run of the streets." The place and 
the cages, each bird having its own little cage, 
were very clean, but at the time of my visit 
the loft was exceedingly hot, as the day was one 
of the sultriest. Lest this heat should prove too 
great for the finches, the timbers on all sides were 
well wetted and re-wetted at intervals, for about 
an hour at noon, at which time only was the sun 
full on the loft. 

" I shall soon liave more birds, sir," he said, 
" but you see I only put aside here such as are 
the very best of the take ; all cocks, of course. 0, 
I 've been in the trade all my life ; I 've had a 
turn at other things, certainly, but this life suits 
me best, I think, because I have my health best 
in it. My father — he 's been dead a goodish bit 
— was a bird-catcher as well, and he used to take 
me out with him as soon as I was strong enough ; 
when I was about ten, I suppose. I don't re- 
member my mother. Father was brought up to 
brick-making. I believe that most of the bird- 
catchers that have been trades, and that 's not 
half a quarter perhaps, were brick-makers, or 
something that way. Well, I don't know the 
reason. The brick-making was, in my father's 
young days, carried on more in the country, and 
the bird-catchers used to fall in with the brick- 
makers, and so perhaps that led to it. I 've heard 
my father tell of an old soldier that had been dis- 
charged with a pension being the luckiest bird- 
catcher he knowed. The soldier was a catcher be- 
fore he first listed, and he listed drunk. I once 
— yes, sir, I dare say that's fifteen year back, for I 
was quite a lad — walked with my father and cap- 
tain" (the pensioner's sobriquet) "till they parted 
for work, and I remember very well I heard him tell 
how, when on march in Portingal — I think that '■ 
what he called it, but it 's in foreign parU — be saw 
flocks of birds; he wished he could be after catch* 
ing them, for he was well tired of sogering. I wa« 
sent to school twice or thrico, and can read a little 
and write a little; and I should like reading better 
if I could manage it better. I read a penny number, 



or the 'police' in a newspaper, now and then, but 
very seldom. But on a fine day I luxted being at 
school. I wanted to be at work, to make some- 
thing at bird-catching. If a boy can make money, 
why shouldn't he 1 And if I 'd had a net, or 
cage, and a mule of my own, then, I thought, I 
could make money." [I may observe that the 
mule longed for by my informant was a "cross" 
between two birds, and was wanted for 
the decoy. Some bird-catchers contend tliat a 
mule makes the best call-bird of any ; others 
that the natural note of a linnet, for instance, 
was more alluring than the song of a mule be- 
tween a linnet and a goldfinch. One birdman 
told me that the excellence of a mule was, that 
it had been bred and taught by its master, had 
never been at large, and was '"' better to manage ;" 
it was bolder, too, in a cage, and its notes were 
often loud and ringing, and might be heard to a 
considerable distance.] 

" 1 couldn't stick to school, sir," my informant 
continued, "and I don't know why, lest it be that 
one man 's best suited for one business, and another 
for another. That may be seen every day. I was 
sent on trial to a shoemaker, and after tl)at to a 
roperaakcr, for father didn't seem to like my 
growing up and being a bird-catcher, like he was. 
But I never felt well, and knew I should never be 
any great hand at them trades, and so when my 
poor father went off rather sudden, I took to the 
catching at once and had all his traps. Perhaps, 
but I can't say to a niceness, that was eleven 
year back. Do I like the business, do you say, 
sir ? Well, I 'm forced to like it, for I 've no 
other to live by." [The reader will have remarked 
how this man attributed the course he pursued, 
evidently from natural inclination, to its being 
the best and most healthful means of subsist- 
ence in his power.] " Last Monday, for my 
dealers like birds on a Monday or Tuesday 
best, and then they 've the week before them, — I 
went to catch in the fields this side of Barnet, and 
started before two in the morning, when it was 
neither light nor dark. You nm-st get to your 
place before daylight to be ready for the first 
Hight, and have time to lay your net properly. 
"VN'hen I 'd done that, I lay down and smoked. 
No, smoke don't scare the birds ; I think they 're 
rather drawn to notice anything new, if all 's quite 
quiet. Well, the first pull I had about 90 birds, 
nearlj' all linnets. There was, as well as I can 
remember, three hedge-sparrows among them, and 
two larks, and one or two other birds. Yes, 
there 's always a terrible flutter and row when 
you make a catch, and often regular fights in the 
net. I tiien sorted my birds, and let the hens go, 
for I didn't want to be bothered with them. I 
might let such a thing as 35 hens go out of rather 
more than an 80 take, for I 've always found, 
in catching young broods, that I 've drawn more 
cocks than hens. How do I know the diflference 
when the birds are so young? As easy as light 
from dark. You must lift up the wing, quite 
tender, and you '11 find that a cock linnet has 
black, or nearly black, feathers on his shoulder, 
where the hens are a deal lighter. Then tlie cock 

has a broader and whiter stripe on tlie wing than 
the hen has. It 's quite easy to distinguish, quite. 
A cock goldfinch is straighter and more larger in 
general than a hen, and has a broader white on 
his wing, as the cock linnet has ; he 's blackjround 
the beak and the eye too, and a hen 's greenish 
thereabouts. There 's some gray-pates (young 
birds) would deceive any one until he opens their 
wings. Well, I went on, sir, until about one 
o'clock, or a little after, as well as I could tell from 
the sun, and then came away with about 100 
singing birds. I sold them in the lump to three 
shopkeepers at 2s. ^d. and 2s. 6d. the doxen. 
That was a good day, sir; a very lucky day. I 
got about 17s., the best I ever did but once, when 
I made 19s. in a day. 

" Yes, it 's hard work is mine, because there 'g 
such a long walking home when you 've done 
catching. 0, Avheu you 're at work it 's not work 
but almost a pleasure. I 've laid for hours though, 
without a catch. I smoke to pass the time when 
I 'm watching ; sometimes I read a bit if I 've 
had anything to take with me to read ; then at 
other times I thinks. If you don't get a catch 
for hours, it 's only like an angler without a nib- 
ble. 0, 1 don't know what I think about ; about 
nothing, perhaps. Yes, I 've had a friend or two 
go out catching with me just for the amusement. 
They must lie about and wait as I do. We have 
a little talk of course : well, perhaps about sport- 
ing ; no, not horse-racing, I care nothing for that, 
but it 's hardly business taking any one with you. 
I supply the dealers and hawk as well. Perhaps 
I make 12s. a week the lyear through. Some 
weeks I 've made between 3^. and 4.L, and in 
winter, when there 's rain every day, perhaps I 
haven't cleared a penny in a fortnight. That's 
the worst of it. But I make more than others 
because I have a connection and raise good birds. 

" Sometimes I 'm stopped by the farmers when 
I 'm at work, but not often, though there is some 
of 'era very obstinate. It 's no use, for if a catch- 
er's net has to be taken from one part of a farm, 
after he 's had the trouble of laying it, why it must 
be laid in another part. Some country people likes 
to have their birds cutched." 

My informant supplied shopkeepers and 
hawked his birds in the streets and to the houses. 
He had a connection, he said, and could generally 
get through them, but he had sometimes put a 
bird or two in a fancy house. These are the pub- 
lic-houses resorted to by " the fancy," in some of 
which may be seen two or three dozen singing- 
birds for sale on commission, through the agency 
of the landlord or the waiter. They are the pro- 
perty of hawkers or dealers, and must be good 
birds, or they will not be admitted. 

The number of birds caught, and the propor- 
tion sold in the streets, I have already stated. 
The number of bird-catchers, I may repeat, is 
about the same as that of street bird-sellers, 200. 

Of the Crippled Street Bird-Seller. 
From the bird-seller whose portrait will be given 
in the next number of this work I have received 
the following account. The statement [^previously 



given was that of a catcher and street-seller, as 
are the great majority in the trade ; the following 
narrative is that of one who, from his infirmities, 
is merely a 8treet-»e//«*. 

The poor man's deformity may be best under- 
stood by describing it in his own words : " I 
have no ancle." His right leg is emaciated, the 
bone is smaller than that of his other leg (which 
is not deformed), and there is no ancle joint. 
The joints of the wrists and shoulders are also 
defective, though not utterly wanting, as in the 
ancle. In walking this poor cripple seems to 
advance by means of a series of jerks. He uses 
his deformed leg, but must tread, or rather support 
his body, on the ball of the misformed foot, 
while he advances his sound leg ; then, with a 
twist of his body, after he has advanced and 
stands upon his undeformed leg and foot, he 
throws forward the crippled part of his frame 
by the jerk I have spoken of. His arms are 
usually pressed against his ribs as he walks, 
and convey to a spectator the notion tliat he is 
unable to raise them from that position. This, 
however, is not the case ; he can raise them, not 
as a sound man does, but with an effort and a 
contortion of his body to humour the effort. His 
speech is also defective, his words being brought 
out, as it were, by jerks ; he has to prepare him- 
self, and to throw up his chin, in order to con- 
verse, and then he speaks with difficulty. His 
face is sun-burnt and healthy-lookinir. His dress 
was a fustian coat with full skirts, cloth trowsers 
somewhat patched, and a clean coarse shirt. His 
right shoe was suited to his deformity, and was 
strapped with a sort of leather belt round the 
lower part of the leg. 

A considerable number of book-stall keepers, 
as well as costermongers, swag-barrowmen, ginger- 
beer and lemonade sellers, orange-women, sweet- 
fluff vendors, root-sellers, and others, have esta- 
blished their pitches — souie of them having stalls 
with a cover, like a roof — from Whitt-chapel work- 
bouse to the Mile End turnpike-gale; near the 
gate they are congregated most thickly, and there 
they are mixed with persons seated on the forms 
belonging to adjacent innkeepers, whicli are placed 
there to allow any one to have his beer and 
tobacco in the open air. Among these street- 
sellers and beer-drinkers is seated the crippled 
bird seller, generally motionless. 

His home is near the Jews' burial-ground, and 
in one of the many '• places'' which by a mis- 
nomer, occasiontfd by the change tn the character 
and appearance of what xttre the outskirts, are 
still called " Pleasant." On seeking him here, I 
had S4)nie little diflicnity in finding (he house, and 
asking a string nf men, who wtre chopping fire* 
wood in an adjoining court, for the man I wanted, 
mentioning bis name, no one knew anything 
about him ; though when I spoke of his calling, 
" O, ' they said, " you want Old Billy." I then 
found Billy at his accustomed pitch, with a very 
small stock of birds in two large cages on the 
ground beside him, and he accompanied me to his 
residencf. The room in which we rat had a pile 
of fire>wood opposite the door ; the iron of the 

upper part of the door-latch being wanting was 
replaced by a piece of wood — and on the pHe sat 
a tame jackdaw, with the inquisitive and askant 
look peculiar to the bird. Above the pile was a 
large cage, containing a jjiy — a bird seldom sold 
in the streets now — and a thrush, in different 
compartments. A table, three chairs, and a ham- 
per or two used in the wood-cutting, completed 
the furniture. Outside the house were cages con- 
taining larks, goldfinches, and a very fine sUirling, 
of whose promising abilities the bird-seller's sister 
had so favourable an opinion that she intended to 
try and teach it to talk, although that was very 
seldom done now. 

The following is the st'itement I obtained from 
the poor fellow. The man's sister was present at 
his desire, as he was afraid I could not undersutnd 
him, owing to the indistinctness of his speech ; 
but that was easy enough, after awhile, with a 
little patience and attention. 

" I was born a cripple, sir," he said, " and I 
shall die one. I was burn at Lewisham, but I 
don't remember living in any place but London. 
I remember being at Stroud though, where my 
father had taken me, and bathed me often in the 
sea himself, thinking it ni'ght do me good. I 've 
heard him say, too, that when I was very young 
he took me to almost every ho.«pital in London, 
but it was of no use. My father and mother 
were as kind to me and as good parents as could 
be. He 's been dead nineteen years, and my 
mother died before him. Father was very poor, 
almost as poor as I am. He worked in a brick- 
field, but work weren't regular. I couldn't walk 
at all until I was six years old, and I was between 
nine and ten before I could get up and down 
stairs by myself. I used to slide down before, as 
well as I could, and had to be carried up. "When 
I could get about and went among other boys, I 
was in great distress, I was teased so. Life was 
a burthen to me, as I 've read something about. 
They u.sed to taunt me by offering to jump uie" (in- 
vite him to a jumping match), " and to say, I '11 run 
you a race on one leg. They were bad to me then, 
and they are now. I 've sometimes tat down and 
cried, but not often. No, sir, I can't say that 1 ever 
wished I was dead. I hardly know why I cried. 
I suppose bec.iu^^e I was miserable. I learned to 
read at a Sunday school, where I went a long time. 
I like reading. I read the Bil)le and tracts, no- 
thing else; never u new.«paper. It don't come in 
my way, and if it did I sh.iuldn'i look at it, lor I 
can't lead over weL and it's nothing to m> wiio 's 
king or who '» queen. It am never have anyiliiiig 
to do with nie. It don't take my attention. 
There'll be no ciiange for me in this world. When 
I was thirteen my father put me into the bird 
trade. He knew a good many cauhers. 1 've been 
bird-selling in the streets for six-and-twenty years 
and more, for I was 39 the 24th of last January. 
Father didn't know what better he could put me 
to, as I hadn't the right of my hands or feet, 
and at first I did very well. I liked the birds 
and do still. I used to think at first that they 
was like me ; they was prisoners, and 1 was a 
cripple. At first I sold birds in Poplar, and 



Limehouse, and Blackwall, and was a help to my 
parents, for I cleared 95. or 10s. every week. But 
now, oh dear, I don't know where all the money 's 
gone to. I think there 'b very little left in the 
country. I 've sold larks, linnets, and goldfinches, 
to captains of ships to take to the West Indies. 
I 've sold them, too, to go to Port Philip. 0, and 
almost all those foreign parts. They bring foreign 
birds here, and take back London birds. I don't 
know anything about foreign birds. I know 
there 's men dressed as sailors going about selling 
them ; they 're duffers — I mean the men. There 's 
a neighbour of mine, that 's very likely nevef been 
20 miles out of London, and when he hawks 
birds he always dresses like a countryman, and 
duffs that way. 

" When my father died," continued the man, 
"I was completely upset; everything in the world 
was upset. I was forced to go into the workhouse, 
and I was there between four and five months. 
0, I hated it. I 'd rather live on a penny loaf a 
day than be in it again. I 'ye never been near 
the parish since, though I 've often had nothing to 
eat many a day. I 'd. rather be lamer than I am, 
and be oftener called silly Billy — and that some- 
times makes me dreadful wild — than be in the 
workhouse. It was starvation, but then I know 
I 'm a hearty eater, very hearty. Just now I 
know I could eat a shilling plate of meat, but for 
all that I very seldom taste meat. I live on bread 
and butter and tea, sometimes bread without 
butter. When I have it I eat a quartern loaf at 
three meals. It depends upon how I 'm off. My 
health 's good. I never feel in any pain now ; I 
did when I first got to walk, in great pain. Beer 
I often don't taste once in two or three months, 
and this very hot weather one can't help longing 
for a drop, when you see people drinking it all 
sides of you, but they have the use of their limbs." 
[Here two little girls and a boy rushed into the 
room, for they had but to open the door from the 
outside, and, evidently to tease the poor fellow, 
loudly demanded " a ha'penny bird." When the 
sister bad driven them away, my informant con- 
tinued.] " I 'm still greatly teased, sir, with 
children ; yes, and with men too, both when 
they 're drunk and sober. I think grown persons 
are the worst. They swear and use bad language 
to me. I 'm sure I don 't know why. I know 
no name they call me by in particular when I 'm 
teased, if it isn't * Old Hypocrite.' I can 't say 
why they call me * hypocrite.' I suppose because 
they know no better. Yes, I think I 'm religious, 
rather. I would be more so, if I had clothes. I 
get to chapel sometimes." [A resident near the 
bird-seller's pitch, with whom I had some conver- 
sation, told me of "Billy" being sometimes teased 
in the way described. Some years ago, he believed 
it was at Limehouse, my informant heard a gen- 
tlemanly-looking man, tipsy, d — n the street bird- 
seller for Mr. Hohbler, and bid him go to the 
Mansion House, or to h — 1. I asked the cripple 
about this, but he had no recollection of it ; and, as 
he evidently did not understand the allusion to 
Mr. Hobbler, I was not surprised at his forgetful- 

" I like to sit out in the lunshine selling ray 
birds," he said. ♦' If it 'b rainy, and I can't go out, 
because it would be of no use, I 'm moped to death. 
I stay at home and read a little ; or I chop a little 
fire-wood, but you may be very sure, sir, its little 
I can do that way. I never associate with the 
neighbours. I never had any pleasure, such as 
going to a fair, or like that. I don't remember 
having ever spent a penny in a place of amuse- 
ment in my life. Yes, 1 've often sat all day in 
the sun, and of course a deal of thoughts goes 
through my head. I think, shall I be able to 
afford myself plenty of bread when I get home 1 
And I think of the next world sometimes, and feel 
quite sure, quite, that I shan't be a cripple there. 
Yes, that 's a comfort, for this world will never 
be any good to me. I feel that I shall be a poor 
starving cripple, till I end, perhaps, in the work- 
house. Other poor men can get married, but not 
such as me. But I never was in love in ray life, 
never." [Among the vagrants and beggars, I 
may observe, there are men more terribly deformed 
than the bird-seller, who are married, or living in 
concubinage.] " Yes, sir," he proceeded, " I 'm 
quite reconciled to my lameness, quite ; and have 
been for years. 0, no, I never fret about that 
now ; but about starving, perhaps, and the work- 

" Before father died, the parish allowed us I5. Qd. 
and a quartern loaf a week ; but after he was buried, 
they 'd allow me nothing ; they 'd only admit me 
into the house. I hadn't a penny allowed to me 
when I discharged myself and came out. I hardly 
know how ever I did manage to get a start again 
with the birds. I knew a good many catchers, 
and they trusted me. Yes, they was all poor 
men. I did pretty tidy by bits, but only when it 
was fine weather, until these five years or so, 
when things got terrible bad. Particularly just the 
two last years with me. Do you think times are 
likely to mend, sir, with poor people ] If work- 
ing-men had only money, they 'd buy innocent 
things like birds to amuse them at home ; but if 
they can't get the money, as I 've heard them say 
when they 've been pricing my stock, why in 
course they can't spend it." 

" Yes, indeed," said the sister, " trade 's very 
bad. Where my husband and I once earned 18*. 
at the fire-wood, and then 15s., we can't now 
earn 12s. the two of us, slave as hard as we will. I 
always dread the winter a-coming. Though there 
may be more fire-wood wanted, there 's greater ex- 
penses, and it 's a terrible time for such as us." 

*' I dream sometimes, sir," the cripple resumed 
in answer to my question, " but not often. I 
often have more than once dreamed I was starving 
and dying of hunger. I remember that, for I 
woke in a tremble. But most dreams is soon 
forgot. I 've never seemed to myself to be a 
cripple in my dreams. Well, I can't explain how, 
but I feel as if my limbs was all free like — 
so beautiful. I dream most about starving 
I think, than about anything else. Perhaps 
that's when I have to go to sleep hungry. I 
sleep very well, though, take it altogether. If I 
had only plenty to live upon there would be 



nobody happier. I 'm happy enough when times 
is middling with me, only one feels it won't last. 
I like a joke as well as anybody when times is 
good ; but that 's been very seldom lately. 

" It 's all small birds I sell in the street now, 
except at a very odd time. That jackdaw there, 
sir, he 's a very fine bird. I 've tamed him my- 
self, and he 's as tame as a dog. My sister 's a 
very good hand among birds, and helps me. She 
once taught a linnet to say 'Joey' as plain as you 
can speak it yourself, sir. I buy birds of different 
catchers, but haven't money to buy the better 
kinds, as I have to sell at d(/., and Ad., and 6(f. 
mostly. If I had a pound to lay out in a few 
nice cages and good birds, I think I could do 
middling, this fine weather particler, for I 'm a 
very good judge of birds, and know how to 
manage them as well as anybodj'. Then birds is 
rather dearer to buy than they was when I was 
first in the trade. The catchers have to go further, 
and I 'm afeared the birds is getting scarcer, and 
•o there 's more time taken up. I buy of several 
catchers. The last whole day that I was at my 
pitch I sold nine birds, and took about Zs. If I 
could buy birds ever so cheap, there's always 
such losses by their dying. I 've had three parts 
of my young linnets die, do what I might, but 
not often so many. Then if they die all the food 
they 've had is lost. There goes all for nothing 
the rape and flax-seed for your linnets, canary and 
flax for your goldfinches, chopped eggs for your 
nightingales, and German paste for your sky-larks. 
I've made my own German paste when I've 
wanted a sufficient quantity. It's made of pea- 
meal, treacle, hog's-lard, and moss-seed. I sell 
more goldfinches than anything else. I used to 
■ell a good many sparrows for shooting, but I 
haven't done anything that way these eight or 
nine years. It's a fash'nable sport still, I hear. 
I 've reared nightingales that sung beautiful, and 
have sold them at As. a piece, which was very 
cheap. They often die when the time for their 
departure comes. A shopkeeper as supplied such 
as I 've sold would have charged H. a piece for 
them. One of my favouritest birds is redpoles, 
but they 're only sold in the season. I think it 's 
one of the most knowingest little birds that is ; 
more knowing than the goldfinch, in my opinion. 

" My ctutomers are all working people, all of 
tb«m. I sell to nobody else ; I make \s. or 5$. ; 
I call 5#. a good week at this time of year, when 
the weather loiti. I lodge with a married sister; 
her hufband 's a wood-chopper, and I pay It. 6(Z. 
a week, which is cheap, for I 've no sticks of my 
own. If I earn it. there 's only 2t. 6d. left to 
live on the week through. In winter, when I can 
make next to nothing, and must keep my birds, 
it i» terrible — oh yes, eir, if you believe me, ter* 
rible r 

Op tbb Tuo&fl of thb BiKty-DvtrMBB. 
Thi tricks practieed by the bird-tellers are frequent 
and ■ystematic. The other day a man connected 
with the bird-trade had to visit Hollo way, the 
City, aud Berroondser. In Holloway he saw six 
men, §em» of whom he recognised u regular bird- 

catchers and street-sellers, offering sham birds ; in 
the City he found twelve ; and in Bemiondsey 
six, as well as he could depend upon his memory. 
These, he thought, did not constitute more than 
a half of the number now at work as bird-" duf- 
fers," not including the sellers of foreign birds. 
In the summer, indeed, the duffers are most 
numerous, for birds are cheapest then, and these 
tricksters, to economise time, I presume, buy of 
other catchers any cheap hens suited to their pur- 
pose. Some of them, I am told, never catch their 
birds at all, but purchase them. 

The greenfinch is the bird on which these men's 
art is most commonly practised, its light-coloured 
plumage suiting it to their purposes. I have heard 
these people styled " bird-swindlers," but by street- 
traders I heard them called " bird-duffers," yet there 
appears to be no very distinctive name for them. 
They are nearly all men, as is the case in the bird 
trade generally, although the wives may occasionally 
assist in the street-sale. The means of deception, 
as regards the greenfinch especially, are from paint. 
One aim of these artists is to make their finch re- 
semble some curious foreign bird, " not often to 
be sold so cheap, or to be sold at all in this 
country." They study the birds in the window of 
the naturalists' shops for this purpose. Sometimes 
they declare these painted birds are young Java 
sparrows (at onetime "a fashionable bird"), or 
St. Helena birds, or French or Italian finches. 
They sometimes get 5s. for such a " duffing bird;" 
one man has been known to boast that he once got 
a sovereign. I am told, however, by n bird- 
catcher who had himself supplied birds to these 
men for duffing, that they complained of the trade 
growing worse and worse. 

It is usually a hen which is painted, for the hen 
is by far the cheapest purchase, and while the 
poor thing is being offered for sale by the duffers, 
she has an unlimited supply of hemp-seed, with- 
out other food, and hemp-seed beyond a proper 
quantity, is a very strong stimulus. This makes 
the hen look brisk and bold, but if newly caught, 
as is usually the case, she will perhaps be found 
dead next morning. The duffer will object to his 
bird being handled on account of its timidity ; 
"but it- is timid only with strangers I" When 
you've had him a week, ma'am," such a bird- 
seller will say, " you '11 find him as lovesome and 
tame as can be." One jealous lady, when asked 
6t. for a " very fine Italian finch, an excellent 
singer," refused to buy, but offered a deposit of 
2t. 6d., if the man would leave his bird and cage, 
for the trial of the bird's song, for two or three 
days. The duffer agreed ; and was bold enough 
to call on the third day to hear the result. The 
bird was dead, and after mnrmuring a little at the 
lady's mismanagement, and at the loss he had 
been subjected to, the man brought away his cage. 
He boasted of this to a dealer's assistant who 
mentioned it to me, and expressed his conviction 
that it was true enough. The paints used for the 
transformation of native birds into foreign are 
bought at the colour-shops, and applied with 
camel-hair brushes in the usual way. 

When canaries are "a bad colour," or hare 


grown a paler yellow from age, they are re-dyed, 
by the application of a colour sold at the colour- 
shops, and known as "the Queen's yellow." Black- 
birds are dyed a deeper black, the "grit" off a 
frying-pan being used for the purpose. The same 
thing is done to heighten the gloss and blackness 
of a jackdaw, I was told, by a man who acknow- 
ledged he had duffed a little ; "people liked a gay 
bright colour." In the same way the tints of the 
goldfinch ore heightened by the application of 
paint. It is common enough, moreover, for a man 
to paint the beaks and legs of the birds. It is 
chiefly the smaller birds which are thus made the 
means of cheating. 

Almost all the "duffing birds" are hawked. If 
a young hen be passed oft' for a good singing bird, 
without being painted, as a cock in his second 
singing year, she is " brisked up" with hemp-seed, 
is half tipsy in fact, and so passed off deceitfully. 
As it is very rarely that even the male birds will 
sing in the streets, this is often a successful ruse, 
the bird appearing so lively. 

A dealer calculated for me, from his own know- 
ledge, that 2000 small birds were " duffed" yearly, 
at an average of from 2s. Qd. to 3s. each. 

As yet I have only spoken of the " duffing" of 
English birds, but similar tricks are practised with 
the foreign birds. 

In parrot-selling there is a good deal of " duffing." 
The birds are "painted up," as I have described in 
the case of the greenfinches, &c. Varnish is also used 
to render the colours brighter; the legs and beak 
are frequently varnished. Sometimes a spot of red 
is introduced, for as one of these duffers observed 
to a dealer in English birds, "the more outlandish 
you make them look, the better 's the chance to 
sell." Sometimes there is little injury done by 
this paint and varnish, which disappear gradually 
when the parrot is in the cage of a purchaser ; 
but in some instances when the bird picks him- 
self where he has been painted, he dies from the 
deleterious compound. Of this mortality, however, 
there is nothing approaching that among the 
duffed small birds. 

Occasionally the duffers carry really fine cock- 
atoos, &c., and if they can obtain admittance into a 
lady's house, to display the beauty of the bird, 
they will pretend to be in possession of smuggled 
silk, &c., made of course for duffing purposes. 
The bird-duffers are usually dressed as seamen, 
and sometimes pretend they must sell the bird 
before the ship sails, for a parting spree, or to get 
the poor thing a good home. This trade, however, 
has from all that 1 can learn, and in the words of an 
informant, " seen its best days." There are now 
sometimes six men thus engaged ; sometimes 
none : and when one of these men is " hard up," 
he finds it difficult to start again in a business for 
which a capital of about 1^ is necessary, as a cage 
is wanted generally. The duffers buy the very 
lowest priced birds, and have been known to get 
2L 10s. for what cost but 8s., but that is a very 
rare occurrence, and the men are very poor, and 
perhaps more dissipated than the generality of 
street-sellers, Parrot duffing, moreover, is seldom 
carried on regularly by any one, for he will often 

duff cigars and other things in preference, or per- 
haps vend really smuggled and good cigars or 
tobccco. Perhaps 150 parrots, paroquets, or cock- 
atoos, are sold in this way annually, at from 15s. 
to 1/. 10s. each, but hardly averaging 1/., as the 
duffer will sell, or raffle, the bird for a small sum 
if he cannot dispose of it otherwise. 

Of the Strket-Sbllbrs op Forhign Birds. 
This trade is curious, but far from extensive as 
regards street-sale. There is, moreover, contrary 
to what might be expected, a good deal of " duf- 
fing" about it. The "duffer" in English birds 
disguises them so that they shall look like foreign- 
ers ; the duffer in what are unquestionably foreign 
birds disguises them that they may look m<yre 
foreign — more Indian than in the Indies. 

The word "Duffer," I may mention, appears 
to be connected with the German Durffen, to want, 
to be needy, and so to mean literally a needy or 
indigent man, even as the word Pedlar has the 
same origin — being derived from the German 
Bettler, and the Dutch Bedelaar—?i beggar. The 
verb Durffen means also to dare, to be so bold as 
to do ; hence, to Durff\ or Duff\ would signify to 
resort to any impudent trick. 

The supply of parrots, paroquets, cockatoos, 
Java sparrows, or St. Helena birds, is not in the 
regular way of consignment from a merchant 
abroad to one in London. The commanders and 
mates of merchant vessels bring over large quan- 
tities ; and often enough the seamen are allowed 
to bring parrots or cockatoos in the homeward- 
bound ship from the Indies or the African coast, 
or from other tropical countries, either to beguile 
the tedium of the voyage, for presents to their 
friends, or, as in some cases, for sale on their 
reaching an English port. More, I am assured, 
although statistics are hardly possible on such a 
subject, are brought to London, and perhaps by 
one-third, than to all the other ports of Great 
Britain collectively. Even on board the vessels 
of the royal navy, the importation of parrots used 
to be allowed as a sort of boon to the seamen, I 
was told by an old naval officer that once, after a 
long detention on the west coast of Africa, his 
ship was ordered home, and, as an acknowledg- 
ment of the good behaviour of his men, he per- 
mitted them to bring parrots, cockatoos, or any 
foreign birds, home with them, not limiting the 
number, but of course under the inspection of the 
petty officers, that there might be no violation of 
the cleanliness which always distinguishes a vessel 
of war. Along the African coast, to the south- 
ward of Sierra Leone, the men were not allowed to 
land, both on account of the unhealthiness of the 
shores, and of the surf, which rendered landing 
highly dangerous, a danger, however, which the 
seamen would not have scrupled to brave, and 
recklessly enough, for any impulse of the minute. 
As if by instinct, however, the natives seemed to 
know what was wanted, for they came off from 
the shores in their light canoes, which danced like 
feathers on the surf, and brought boat-loads of 
birds; these the seamen bought of them, or pos- 
sessed themselves of in the way of barter. 



Before the ship took her final departure, how- 
ever, she was reported as utterly uninhabitable 
below, from the incessant din arid clamour : " We 
might as well have a pack of women aboard, sir," 
was the ungallant remark of one of the petty 
officers to his commander. Orders were then 
given that the parrots, &c., should be " thinned," 
80 that there might not be such an unceasing noise. 
This was accordingly done. How many were set 
at liberty and made for the shore — for the seamen 
iu this instance did not kill them for their skins, 
as is not uufrequently the case — the commander 
did not know. lie could but conjecture ; and he 
conjectured that something like a thousand were 
released ; and even after that, and after the mor- 
tality which tiikes place among these birds in the 
course of a long voyage, a very great number 
were brought to Plymouth. Of these, again, a 
great number were sent or conveyed under the 
care of the sailors to London, when the ship was 
paid off. The same officer endeavoured on this 
Toyage to bring home some very large pine-apples, 
which flavoured, and most deliciously, parts of the 
ship when she had been a long time at sea; but every 
one of them rotted, and had to be thrown over- 
board. He fell into the error, Captain said, 

of having the finest fruit selected for the experi- 
ment ; an error which the Bahama merchants 
had avoided, and consequently they succeeded 
where he failed. How the sailors fed the parrots, 
my informant could hardly guess, but they brought 
a number of very fine birds to England, some of 
them with well-cultivated powers of speech. 

This, as I shall show, is one of the ways by 
which the London supply of parrots, &c., is ob- 
tained ; but the permission, as to the importation 
of these brightly-feathered birds, is, I understand, 
rarely allowed at present to the seamen in the 
royal navy. The fiir greater supply, indeed more 
than 90 per cent, of the whole of the birds im- 
ported, is from the merchant-service. I have al- 
ready stated, on the very best authority, the 
motives whicli induce merchant-seamen to bring 
over parrots and cockatoos. That to bring them 
over is an inducement to some to engage in an 
African voyage is shown by the following state- 
ment, whith was made to me, in the course of a 
long inquiry, published in my letters in the 
Morning Chronicle, concerning the condition of 
the merchant-seamen. 

" I would never go to that African coast again, 
only I make a pound or two in birds. We buy 
parroU, gray parroU chiefly, of the natives, who 
come aboard in their canoes. We sometimes pay 
6*. or 7«., in Africa, for a fine bird. I have 
known 200 parrots on board ; they make a 
precious noise; but half the birds die before they 
get to Engknd. Some captains won't allow 

When the seamen have settled themselves after 
landing in England, they perhaps find that there is 
no room in their boarding-houses for their parrots ; 
these birds are not admitted into the Sailors' Home ; 
the seamen's friends are stocked with the birds, 
and look upon another parrot as but another 
inuuder, an unwelcome pentioaer. There remains 

but one course — to sell the birds, and they are 
generally sold to a highly respectable man, Mr. 
M. Samuel, of Upper East Smith field ; and it is from 
him, though not always directly, that the shop- 
keepers and street-sellers derive their stock-in- 
trade. There is also a further motive for the dis- 
posal of parrots, paroquets, and cockatoos to a 
merchant. The seafaring owner of those really 
magnificent birds, perhaps, squanders his money, 
perhaps he gets "skinned" (stripped of his clothes 
and money from being hocussed, or tempted to 
helpless drunkenness), or he chooses to sell them, 
and he or his boarding-house keeper takes the birds 
to Mr, Samuel, and sells them for what he can 
get; but I heard from three very intelligent sea- 
men whom I met with in the course of my inquiry, 
and by mere chance, that Mr. Samuel's price was 
fair and his money sure, considering everything, 
for there is usually a qualification to every praise. 
It is certainly surprising, under these circumstances, 
that such numbers of these birds should thus be 
disposed of. 

Parrots are as gladly, or more gladly, pot rid of, 
in any manner, in different regions in the conti- 
nents of Asia and America, than with us are even 
rats from a granary. Dr. Stanley, after speaking 
of the beauty of a flight of parrots, says : — " The 
husbandman who sees them hastening through 
the air, with loud and impatient screams, looks 
upon them with dismay and detestation, knowing 
that the produce of his labour and industry is in 
jeopardy, when visited by such a voracious multi- 
tude of pilferers, who, like the locusts of Egypt, 
desolate whole tracts of country by their unsparing 
ravages." A contrast with their harmlessness, in a 
gilded cage in the houses of the wealthy, with us ! 
The destructiveness of these birds, is then, one 
reason why seamen can obtain them so readily and 
cheaply, for the natives take pleasure in catching 
them ; while as to plentifulness, the tropical re- 
gions teem with bird, as with insect and reptile, 

Of parrots, paroquets, and cockatoos, there are 
8000 imported to London in the way I have de- 
scribed, and in about equal proportions. They 
are sold, wholesale, from bt. to 30i. each. 

There are now only three men selling these 
brilliant birds regularly in the streets, and in the 
fair way of trade ; but there are sometimes as 
many as 18 so engaged. The price given by a 
hawker for a cockatoo, &c., is 8». or 10*., and 
they are retailed at from \5s. to 30«., or more, " if 
it can be got." The purchasers are the wealthier 
classes who can afford to indulge their tastes. Of 
late years, however, I am told, a parrot or a 
cockatoo seems to be considered indispensable to 
an inn (not a gin-palace), and the innkeepers have 
been among the best customers of the street parrot- 
sellers. In the neighbourhood of the docks, and 
indeed along the whole river side below London- 
bridge, it is almost impossible for a street-seller to 
dispose of a parrot to nn innkeeper, or indeed to 
any one, as they are supplied by the seamen. A 
parrot which has been tiught to tilk is worth from 
4/. to 10/,, according to its proficiency in speech. 
About 500 of these birds are sold yearly by the 


street-hawkers, at an outlay to the public of from 
600^. to QOQl. 

Java sparrows, from the East Indies, and from 
the Islands of the Archipelago, are brought to 
London, but considerable quantities die during the 
voyage and in this country ; for, though hardy 
enough, not more than one in three survives being 
" taken off the paddy seed." About 10,000, how- 
ever, are sold annually, in London, at Is. 6d. each, 
but a very small proportion by street-hawking, as 
the Java sparrows are chiefly in demand for the 
aviaries of the rich in town and country. In some 
years not above 100 may be sold in the streets ; 
in others, as many as 500. 

In St. Helena birds, known also as wax-bills 
and red-backs, there is a trade to the same extent, 
both as regards number and price ; but the street- 
sale is perhaps 10 percent, lower. 

Of the Street-Sellers op Birds'-Nests. 
The young gypsy-looking lad, who gave me the 
following account of the sale of birds'-nests in the 
streets, was peculiarly picturesque in his appear- 
ance. He wore a dirty-looking smock-frock with 
large pockets at the side ; he had no shirt ; and his 
long black hair himg in curls about him, contrasting 
strongly with his bare white neck and chest, jThe 
broad-brimmed brown Italian-looking hat, broken 
in and ragged at the top, threw a dark half-mask- 
like shadow over the upper part of his face. His 
feet were bare and black with mud : he carried in 
one hand his basket of nests, dotted with their 
many-coloured eggs; in the other he held a live 
snake, that writhed and twisted as its metallic- 
looking skin glistened in the sun ; now over, and 
now round, the thick knotty bough of a tree that 
he used for a stick. The portrait of the youth is 
here given. I have never seen so picturesque a 
specimen of the English nomade. He said, in 
answer to my inquiries :— 

" I am a seller of birds'-nesties, snakes, slow- 
worms, adders, 'effets' — lizards is their common 
name — hedgehogs (for killing black beetles) ; frogs 
(for the French — they eats 'em) ; snails (for birds) ; 
that's all I sell in the summertime. In the 
winter I get all kinds of wild flowers and roots, 
primroses, ' butter-cups' and daisies, and snow-drops, 
and ' backing' off of trees ; (' backing' it 's called, 
because it 's used to put at the back of nosegays, 
it 's got off the yew trees, and is the green yew 
fern. I gather bulrushes in the summer-time, 
besides what I told you; some buys bulrushes 
for stuffing; they're the fairy rushes the small 
ones, and the big ones is bulrushes. The small 
ones is used for ' stuffing,' that is, for showing 
off the birds as is stuffed, and make 'em seem 
as if they was alive in their cases, and among 
the rushes; I sell them to the bird-stuffers at 
Id. a dozen. The big rushes the boys buys to 
play with and beat one another — on a Sunday 
evening mostly. The birds'-nesties I get from Id. 
to Zd. apiece for. I never have young birds, t can 
never sell 'em ; you see the young things generally 
dies of the cramp before you can get rid of them, 
I sell the birds'-nesties in the streets; the three- 
penny ones has six eggs, a half-penny a egg. 

The linnets has mostly four eggs, they're 4d. 
the nest ; they 're for putting under canaries, 
and being hatched by them. The thrushes has 
from four to five — five is the most ; they 're 
2rf, ; they 're merely for cur 'osi tj' — glass cases 
or anything like that. Moor- hens, wot build 
on the moors, has from eight to nine eggs, and 
is Id. a-piece ; they 're for hatching underneath 
a bantam-fowl, the same as partridges. Chaf- 
finches has five eggs; they're 'dd., and is for 
cur'osity. Hedge-sparrows, five eggs ; they 're 
the same price as the other, and is for cur'osity. 
The Bottletit — the nest and the bough are al- 
ways put in glass cases ; it 's a long hanging 
nest, like a bottle, with a hole about as big as a 
sixpence, and there 's mostly as many as eighteen 
eggs; they've been known to lay thirty-three. 
To the house-sparrow there is five eggs ; they 're 
Id. The yellow-hammers, with five eggs, is 2d. 
The water-wagtails, with four eggs, 2d. Black- 
birds, with five eggs, 2d. The golden-crest wren, 
with ten eggs — it has a very handsome nest — is 
6d, Bulfinches, four eggs, Is. ; they 're for hatch- 
ing, and the bulfinch is a very dear bird. Crows, 
four eggs. Ad. Magpies, four eggs, Ad. Starlings, 
five eggs, Bd. The egg-chats, five eggs, 2d. Grold- 
finches, five eggs, 6d., for hatching. Martins, five 
eggs, dd. The swallow, four eggs, 6d ; it 's so dear 
because the nest is such a cur'osity, they build up 
again the house. The butcher-birds — hedge-mur- 
derers some calls them, for the number of birds they 
kills — five eggs, Zd. The cuckoo — they never has 
a nest, but lays in the hedge-sparrow's ; there 's 
only one egg (it 's very rare you see the two, they 
has been got, but that's seldom) that is Ad., the 
egg is such a cur'osity. The greenfinches has 
four or five eggs, and is Bd. The sparrer-hawk has 
four eggs, and they 're 6d. The reed-sparrow— 
they builds in the reeds close where the bul- 
rushes grow ; they has four eggs, and is 2d. The 
wood-pigeon has two eggs, and they 're Ad. The 
horned owl, four eggs ; they 're 6d. The wood- 
pecker — I never see no more nor two — they 're 
6d. the two; they're a great cur'osity, very 
seldom found. The kingfishers has four eggs, and 
is 6d. That 's all I know of. 

" I gets the eggs mostly from Wftham and 
Chelmsford, in Essex; Chelmsford is 20 mile from 
Whitechapel Church, and Witham, 8 mile further. 
I know more about them parts than anywhere 
else, being used to go after moss for Mr. Butler, of 
the herb-shop in Covent Garden. Sometimes I go 
to Shirley Common and Shirley Wood, that 's three 
miles from Croydon, and Croydon is ten from 
Westminster-bridge. When I 'm out bird-nesting 
I take all the cross country roads across fields and 
into the woods. I begin bird-nesting in May 
and leave off about August, and then comes the bul- 
rushing, and they last till Christmas; and after that 
comes the roots and wild flowers, which serves me 
up to May again. I go out bird-nesting three 
times a Aveek. I go away at night, and come up 
on the morning of the day after, I 'm away a 
day and two nights. I start between one and 
two in the morning and walk all night — for the 
coolness — you see the weather 's so hot you can't 


do it in the daytime. When I get down I go to 
sleep for a couple of hours. I ' skipper it ' — turn 
in under a hedge or anywhere. I get down about 
nine in the morning, at Chelmsford, and about 
one if I go to Witham. After I 've had my sleep 
I start off to get my nests and things. I climb the 
trees, often I go up a dozen in the day, and 
many a time there 'a nothing in the nest Avhen I 
get up, I only fell once ; I got on the end of the 
bou^h and slipped off. I p'isoned my foot once 
with the stagnant water going after the bulrushes, 
— there was horseleeches, and effets, and all kinds 
of things in the water, and they stung me, I 
think. I couldn't use my foot hardly for ^ix 
weeks afterwards, and was obliged to have a 
■tick to walk with. I couldn't get about at all 
for four days, and should have starved if it hadn't 
been that a young man kept me. He was a printer 
by trade, and almost a stranger to me, only he 
seed me and took pity on me. When I fell off the 
bough I wasn't much hurt, nothing to speak of. The 
hoase-sparrow is the worst nest of all to take ; 
it 's no value either when it is got, and is the most 
difficult of all to get at. You has to get up a spa- 
rapet (a parapet) of a house, and either to get 
permission, or run the risk of going after it with- 
out. Partridges' eggs (they has no nest) they gives 
you six months for, if they see you selling them, 
because it 's game, and I haven't no licence ; but 
while you 're hawking, that is showing 'em, they 
can't touch you. The owl is a very difficult nest 
to get, they builds so high in the trees. The 
bottle-tit is a hard nest to find ; you may go all 
the year round, and, perhaps, only get one. The 
nest I like best to get is the chaffinch, because 
they 're in the hedge, and is no bother. Oh, you 
hasn't got the skylark down, sir ; they builds on 
the ground, and has live eggs; I sell them for id. 
The robin-redbreast has five eggs, too, and is Zd. 
The ringdove has two eggs, and is 6(Z. The tit- 
lark — that 's five blue eggs, and very rare — I get 
id. for them. The jay has five eggs, and a flat 
nest, very wiry, indeed ; it 's a ground bird ; 
that's 1«. — the egg is just like a partridge egg. 
When I first took a kingfisher's nest, I didn't 
know the name of it, and I kept wondering what 
it was. I daresay I asked three, dozen people, 
and none of them could tell me. At last a bird- 
fancier, the lame man at the Mile-end gate, told 
me what it was. I likes to get the nestles to sell, 
but I bavn't no fancy for birds. Sometimes I 
get squirrels' nesties with the young in 'em — about 
four of 'em there mostly is, and they 're the only 
young things I lake — the young birds I leaves ; 
they 're no good to me. The four squirrels brings 
me from 6<. to %$. After I takes a bird's nest, the 
old bird comes dancing over it, chirupping, and 
crying, and flying all about. When they lose 
their nest they wander about, and don't know 
where to go. Oftentimes I wouldn't take them if 
it wasn't for the want of the victuals, it seems 
such a pity to disturb 'em after they 've made 
their little bits of places. Bats I never take my- 
self— -I can't get over 'em. If I has ao order for 
'em, I boys 'em of boys. 

" I mostly ttart off into the country on Monday 

and come up on Wednesday. The most nesties as 
ever I took is twenty-two, and I generally get about 
twelve or thirteen. These, if I 've an order, I 
sell directly, or else I may be two days, and some- 
times longer, hawking them in the street. Directly 
I 've sold them I go off again that night, if it 's 
fine ; though I often go in the wet, and then I 
borrow a tarpaulin of a man in the street where I 
live. If I 've a quick sale I get down and back 
three times in a week, but then I don't go so far 
as Witham, sometimes only to Rumford ; that is 
12 miles from Whitechapel Church. I never got 
an order from a bird-fancier; they gets all the 
eggs they want of the countrymen who comes up 
to market. 

" It 's gentlemen I gets my orders of, and then 
mostly they tells me to bring 'em one nest of every 
kind I can get hold of, and that will often last me 
three months in the summer. There 's one gentle- 
man as I sells to is a wholesale dealer in window- 
glass — and he has a hobby for them. He puts 
'em into glass cases, and makes presents of 'em 
to his friends. Ho has been one of my best cus- 
tomers. I 've sold him a hundred nesties, I 'm 
sure. There 's a doctor at Dalston I sell a great 
number to — he 's taking one of every kind of me 
now. The most of my customers is stray ones in 
the streets. They 're generally boys. I sells a 
nest now and tiien to a lady with a child ; but 
the boys of twelve to fifteen years of age is my 
best friends. They buy 'em only for cur'osity. 
I sold three partridges' eggs yesterday to a gen- 
tlemen, and he said he would put them under a 
bantam he 'd got, and hatch 'em. 

" The snakes, and adders, and slow-worms I get 
from where there 's moss or a deal of grass. 
Sunny weather's the best for them, they won't 
come out when it 's cold ; then I go to a dung- 
heap, and turn it over. Sometimes, I find five or 
six there, but never so large as the one I had 
to-day, that 's a yard and five inches long, and 
three-quarters of a pound weight. Snakes is bs. 
a pound. I sell all I can get to Mr. Butler, of 
Covent-garden. He keeps 'em alive, for they 're 
no good dead. I think it's for the skin they're 
kept. Some buys 'em to dissect : a gentleman 
in Theobalds-road does so, and so he does hedge- 
hogs. Some buys 'em for stuffing, and others 
for cur'osities. Adders is the same price as 
snakes, 6s. a pound after they first comes in, 
when they 're 10«. Adders is wanted dead ; 
it 's only the fat and skin that 's of any value ; 
the fat is used for curing p'isoned wounds, and 
the skin is used for any one as has cut their 
heads. Farmers buys the fat, and rubs it into 
the wound when they gets bitten or stung by 
anything p'isonous. I kill the adders with a 
stick, or, when I has shoes, I jumps on 'em. 
Some fine days I get four or five snakes at a 
time ; but then they 're mostly small, and won't 
weigh above half a pound. I don't get many 
addt-rs — they don't weigh many ounces, adders 
don't— and I mostly has 9rf. apiece for each I 
geU. I sells them to Mr. Butler as well. 

" The hedgehogs is \i. each ; I geU them mostly 
in Essex. I've took one hedgehog with thres 

No. XXXI. 



young ones, and sold the lot for 25. Qd. People 
in the streets bought them of me — they 're wanted 
to kill the black-beetles; they 're fed on bread and 
milk, and they '11 suck a cow quite dry in their 
wild state. They eat adders, and can't be p'isoned, 
at least it says so in a book I 've got about 'era at 

" The eifets I gets orders for in the streets. Gen- 
tlemen gives me their cards, and tells me to bring 
them one ; they 're 2d. apiece. I get them at 
Hampstead and Highgate, from the ponds. 
They 're wanted for cur'osity. 

" The snails and frogs 1 sell to Frenchmen. I 
don't know what part they eat of the frog, but I 
know they buy them, and the dandelion root. 
The frogs is 6rf. and Is. a dozen. They like the 
yellow-bellied ones, the others they're afraid is 
toads. They always pick out the yellow-bellied 
first; I don't know how to feed 'em, or else I 
might fatten them. Many people swallows young 
frogs, they 're reckoned very good things to clear 
the inside. The frogs I catch in ponds and ditches 
up at Hampstead and Highgate, but I only get 
them when I 've a order. I 've had a order for 
as many as six dozen, but that was for the French 
hotel in Leicester-square ; but I have sold three 
dozen a week to one man, a Frenchman, as 
keeps a cigar shop in R — r's-court. 

''The snails I sell by the pailful— at 2s. Qd. 
the pail. There is some hundreds in a pail. 
The wet weather is the best times for catching 
'em ; the French people eats 'era. They boils 'em 
first to get 'em out of the shell and get rid of 
the green froth ; then they boils them again, and 
after that in vinegar. They eats 'em hot, but 
some of the foreigners likes 'em cold. They say 
they 're better, if possible, than whelks. I used 
to sell a great many to a lady and gentleman 
in Soho-square, and to many of the French I sell 
Is.'s worth, that 's about three or four quarts. 
Some persons buys snails for birds, and some to 
strengthen a sickly child's back; they rub the 
back all over with the snails, and a very good 
thing they tell me it is. I used to take 2s.'8 worth 
a week to one woman ; it 's the green froth that 
does the greatest good. There are two more 
birds'-nest sellers besides myself, they don't do as 
many as me the two of 'em. They 're very naked, 
their things is all to ribbins ; they only go into 
the country once in a fortnight. They was never 
nothing, no trade — they never was in place — from 
what I 've heard — either of them. I reckon I sell 
about 20 nestles a week take one week with 
another, and that I do for four months in the year. 
(This altogether makes 320 nests.) Yes, I should 
say, I do sell about 300 birds'-nests every year, 
and the other two, I 'm sure, don't sell half that. 
Indeed they don't want to sell ; they does better 
by what they gets give to them. I can't say 
what they takes, they 're Irish, and I never was in 
conversation with them. I get about 4s. to 5s. 
for the 20 nests, that 's between 2d. and Zd. 
apiece. I sell about a couple of snakes every 
week, and for some of them I get Is., and 
for the big ones 2s. 6d. ; but them I seldom 
find. I 've only had three hedgehogs this season, 

and I 've done a little in snails and frogs, perhaps 
about Is. The many foreigners in London this 
season hasn't done me no good. I haven't been to 
Leicester-square lately, or perhaps I might have 
got a large order or two for frogs." 

Life op a Bird's-Nest Seller. 
" I am 22 years of age. My father was a dyer, 
and I Avas brought up to the same trade. My 
father lived at Arundel, in Sussex, and kept a 
shop there. He had a good business as dyer, 
scourer, calico glazer, and furniture cleaner. I 
have heard mother say his business in Arun- 
del brought him in 300^. a year at least. He had 
eight men in his employ, and none under 30s. a 
Aveek. I had two brothers and one sister, but 
one of my brothers is since dead. Mother died 
five years ago in the Consumption Hospital, 
at Chelsea, just after it was built. I was very 
young indeed when father died ; I can hardly 
remember him. He died in Middlesex Hospital : 
he had abscesses all over him ; there were six-and- 
thirty at the time of his death. I 've heard 
mother say many times that she thinked it was 
through exerting himself too much at his business 
that he fell ill. The ruin of father was owing 
to his house being burnt down ; the fire broke out 
at two in the morning ; he wasn't insured : I 
don't remember the fire ; I 've only heerd mother 
talk about it. It was the ruin of us all she used 
to tell me ; father had so much work belonging to 
other people ; a deal of moreen curtains, five or 
six hundred yards. It was of no use his trying 
to start again : he lost all his glazing machines 
and tubs, and his drugs and ' punches.' From 
what I 've heerd from mother they was worth 
some hundreds. The Duke of Norfolk, after the 
fire, gave a good lot of money to the poor people 
whose things father had to clean, and father him- 
self came up to London. I wasn't two year old 
when that happened. We all come up with father, 
and he opened a shop in London and bought all 
new things. He had got a bit of money left, 
and mother's uncle lent him 60^. We lived two 
doors from the stage door of the Queen's Theatre, 
in Pitt- street, Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square ; 
but father didn't do much in London ; he had a 
new connection to make, and when he died his 
things was sold for the rent of the house. There 
was only money enough to bury him. I don't 
know how long ago that was, but I think it was 
about three years after our coming to London, for 
I 've heerd mother say I was six years old when 
father died. After father's death mother borrowed 
some more money of her uncle, who was well to 
do. He was perfumer to her Majesty : he 's dead 
now, and left the business to his foreman. The 
business was worth 2000i. His wife, my mother's 
aunt, is alive still, and though she 's a woman of 
large property, she won't so much as look at me. 
She keeps her carriage and two footmen ; her 
address is, Mrs. Lewis, No. 10, Porchester-ter- 
race, Bayswater. I have been in her draw- 
ing-room two or three times, I used to take 
letters to her from mother : she was very kind 
to me then, and give me several half-crowns. She 



knows the state I am in now. A young man 
wrote a letter to her, saying I had no clothes to 
look after work in, and that I was near sUirving, 
but she sent no answer to it. The last time I 
called at her house she sent me down nothing, 
and bid the servant tell me not to come any more. 
Ever since I 've wanted it I 've never had nothing 
from her, but before that she used to give me 
something whenever I took a letter from mother 
to her. The last half-crown I got at her house 
was from the cook, who gave it me out of her 
own money because she 'd known my mother. 

" I 've got a grandmother living in Woburn- 
place; she's in service there, and been in the 
fiimily for twenty years. The gentleman died 
lately and left her half his properly. He was a 
foreigner and had no relations here. My grand- 
mother used to be very good to me, and when I 
first got out of work she always gave me some- 
thing when I called, and had me down in her 
room. She was housekeeper then. She never 
oflFered to get me a situation, but only gave me a 
meal of victuals and a shilling or eighteen-pence 
whenever I called. I was tidy in my dress 
then. At last a new footman came, and he told 
me as I wasn't to call again ; he said, the family 
didn't allow no followers. I *ve never seen my 
grandmother since that time but once, and then I 
was passing with my basket of birds' nests in my 
hand just as she was coming out of the door. I was 
dressed about the same then as you seed me yester- 
day. I was without a shirt to my back. I don't 
think she saw me, and I was ashamed to let her see 
me as I was. She was kind enough to me, that is, 
she wouldn't mind about giving me a shilling or so 
at a time, but she never would do nothing else for 
me, and yet she had got plenty of money in the 
bank, and a gold watch, and all, at her side. 

After father died, as I was saying, mother 
got some money from her uncle and set up on her 
own account ; she took in glazing for the trade. 
Father had a few shops that he worked for, and 
they employed mother after his death. She kept 
on at this for eighteen months and then she got 
married again. Before this an uncle of mine, my 
father's brother, who kept some lime-kilns down 
in Bury St. Edmunds, consented to take my 
brother and sister and provide for them, and four 
or five year ago he got them both into the Duke 
of Norfolk's service, and there they are now. 
They're nerer seen me since I was a child but once, 
and that wa« a few year ago. I 've never sent 
to thera to say how badly I was off. They 're 
younger than I am, and can only just take care of 
theirselves. When mother mjirried again, her 
husband came to live at the hoiue ; he was a dyer. 
He behaved Tery well to me. Mother wouldn'i 
tend me down to uncle's, the was too fond of me. 
I wat tent to school for about eighteen months, 
and after that I used to ntsist in the glazing at 
home, and to I went on very comfortable fur tome 
time. Nine year ago I went to work at a French 
dyer's, in Uathbone- place. My itep-fiither got me 
there, and there I ttopped six year. I lived in 
the boote after the first eighteen months of my 
terrice. Five yew ago mother fell ill ; the bad 

been ailing many years, and she got admitted into 
the Consumption Hospital, at Brompton. She was 
there just upon three months and was coming out 
the next day (her term was up), when she died 
on the over night. After that my step-father 
altered very much towards me. He didn't want 
me at home at all. He told me so a fortnight 
after mother was in her grave. He took to 
drinking very hearty directly she was gone. He 
would do anytliing for me before that. He used 
to take me with him to every place of amusement 
what he went to, but when he took to drinking 
he quite changed ; then he got to beat me, and at 
last he told me I needn't come there any more. 

" After that, I still kept working in Rathbone- 
place, and got a lodging of my own ; I used to have 
9*. a week where I was, and I paid 2s. a week for 
my bed, and washing, and mending. I had half a 
room with a man and his wife ; I went on so for 
about two years, and then I was took bad with the 
scarlet fever and went to Gray's-inn-lane hospital. 
After I was cured of the scarlet fever, I had the 
brain fever, and was near my death; I was alto- 
gether eight weeks in the hospital, and when I 
come out I could get no work where I had been 
before. The master's nephew had come from 
Paris, and they had all French hands in the house. 
He wouldn't employ an English hand at all. 
He give me a trifle of money, and told me he 
would pay my lodgings for a week or two while I 
looked for work. I sought all about and couldn't 
find any ; this was about three year ago. People 
wouldn't have me because I didn't know nothing 
about the English mode of business. I couldn't 
even tell the names of the English drugs, having 
been brought up in a French house. At last, my 
master got tired of paying for my lodging, and 1 
used to try and pick up a few pence in the streets 
by carrying boxes and holding horses, it was all 
as I could get to do ; 1 tried all I could to find 
employment, and they was the only jobs I could 
get. But I couldn't make enough for my lodging 
this way, and over and over again I 've had to 
sleep out. Then I used to walk the streets most 
of the night, or lie about in the markets till 
morning came in the hopes of getting a job. 
I 'm a very little cater, and perhaps that 's the 
luckiest thing for such as me; half a pound of 
bread and a few potatoes will do me for the day. 
If I could afford it, I used to get a ha'porth 
of coffee and a ha'porth of sugar, and make it do 
twice. Sometimes I used to have victuals give to 
me, sometimes I went without altogether; and 
sometimes I couldn't eat. I can't always. 

"Six weeks after I had been knocking about in 
the streets in the manner I 've told you, a man I 
met in Covent-Gardeu market told me he wat 
going into the country to get some roots (it wat 
in the winter time and cold indeed ; I wat 
dressed about the tame at I am now, only I had 
a pair of boots) ; and he taid if I chose to go 
with him, he 'd give me half of whatever he 
earned. I went to Croydon and got tome prim- 
roses; my share came to 9d., and that wat quite a 
God-send to me, after getting nothing. Sometimes 
before that I'd been two dayt without tattbg 



anything; and when I got some victuals after 
that, I couldn't touch them. All I felt was giddy; 
I wasn't to say hungry, only weak and sicklified. 
I went with this mnn after the roots two or three 
times ; he took me to oblige me, and show me 
the way how to get a bit of food for myself; after 
that, when I got to know all about it, I went to 
get roots on my own account. I never felt a 
wish to take nothing when I was very hard up. 
Sometimes when I got cold and was tired, walk- 
ing about and weak from not having had nothing to 
eat, I used to think I 'd break a window and take 
something out to get locked up ; but I could 
never make my mind up to it; they never hurt 
me, I 'd say to myself. 1 do fancy though, if 
anybody had refused me a bit of bread, I should 
have done something again them, but I couldn't, 
do you see, in cold blood like. 

" When the summer came round a gentleman 
whom I seed in the market asked me if I 'd get 
him half a dozen nestles — he didn't mind what 
they was, so long as they was small, and of dif- 
ferent kinds — and as I 'd come across a many in 
my trips after the flowers, I told him I would do 
so — and that first put it into my head ; and I 've 
been doing that every summer since then. It 's 
poor work, though, at the best. Often and often 
I have to walk 30 miles out without any victuals 
to take with me, or money to get any, and 30 
miles again back, and bring with me about a 
dozen nestles ; and, perhaps, if I 'd no order for 
them, and was forced to sell them to the boys, I 
shouldn't get more than a shilling for the lot after 
all. When the time comes round for it, I go 
Christmasing and getting holly, but that's more 
dangerous work than bird-nesting; the farmers 
don't mind your taking the nestles, as it prevents 
the young birds from growing up and eating their 
corn. The greater part of the holly used in Lon- 
don for trimming up the churches and sticking in 
the puddings, is stolen by such as me, at the risk 
of getting six months for it. The farmers brings 
a good lot to market, but we is obligated to steal 
it. Take one week with another, I 'm sure I 
don't make above os. You can tell that to look 
at me. I don't drink, and I don't gamble ; so 
you can judge how much I get when I 've had to 
pawn my shirt for a meal. All last week I only 
sold two nestles — they was a partridge's and a 
yellow-hammer's: for one I got hd., and the other 
Zd., and I had been thirteen miles to get them. 
I got beside that a fourpenny piece for some 
chickweed which I'd been up to Highgate to 
gather for a man with a bad leg (it's the best 
thing there is for a poultice to a wound), and then 
I earned another 4c/. by some mash (marsh) mal- 
low leaves (that there was to purify the blood of 
a poor woman) : that, with Ad. that a gentleman 
give to me, was all I got last week ; Is. 9c/. I think 
it is altogether. I had some victuals give to me in 
the street, or else I daresay I should have had to 
go without ; but, as it was, I gave the money to 
the man and his wife I live with. You see they 
had nothing, and as they 're good to me when I 
want, why, I did what I could for them. I 've 
tried to get out of my present life, but there 

seems to be an ill luck again me. Sometimes I 
gets a good turn. A gentleman gives me an 
order, and then I saves a shilling or eighteen- 
pence, so as to buy something with that I can sell 
again in the streets ; but a wet day is sure to 
come, and then I 'm cracked up, obligated to eat 
it all away. Once I got to sell fish. A gentle- 
man give me a crown-piece in the street, and I 
borrowed a barrow at 2d. a day, and did pietty 
well for a time. In three weeks I had saved 
I85. ; then I got an order for a sack of moss 
from one of the flower-sellers, and I went down 
to Chelmsford, and stopped for the night in 
Lower Nelson-street, at the sign of " The Three 
Queens." I had my money safe in my fob the 
night be'fore, and a good pair of boots to my feet 
then ; when I woke in the morning my boots was 
gone, and on feeling in my fob my money was 
gone too. There was four beds in the rooms, 
feather and flock ; the feather ones was id., and 
the flock Zd. for a single one, and 2^d. each 
person for a double one. There was six people 
in the room that night, and one of 'em was gone 
before I awoke — he was a cadger — and had took 
my money with him. I complained to the land- 
lord — they call him Greorge — but it was no good ; 
all I could get was some victuals. So I 've been 
obliged to keep to birds'-nesting ever since. 

" I 've never been in prison but once. I was took 
up for begging. I was merely leaning again the 
railings of Tavistock-square with my birds'-nesties 
in my hand, and the policemen took me otf to 
Clerkenwell, but the magistrates, instead of send- 
ing me to prison, gave me 2?. out of the poors'- 
box. I feel it very much going about without 
shoes or without shirt, and exposed to all wea- 
thers, and often out all night. The doctor at 
the hospital in Gray's-inn-lane gave me two 
flannels, and told me that whatever I did I was 
to keep myself wrapped up ; but what 's the use 
of saying that to such as me who is obligated to 
pawn the shirt off our back for food the first wet 
day as comes ] If you haven't got money to pay 
for your bed at a lodging-house, you must take 
the shirt off your back and leave it with them, or 
else they '11 turn you out. I know many such. 
Sometimes I go to an artist. I had bs. when I was 
d rawed before the Queen. I wasn't 'xactly 
drawed before her, but my portrait was shown to 
her, and I was told that if I 'd be there I might 
receive a trifle. I was drawed as a gipsy 
fiddler. Mr. Oakley in Regent-street was the 
gentleman as did it. I was dressed in some things 
he got for me. I had an Italian's hat, one with 
a broad brim and a peaked crown, a red plush 
waistcoat, and a yellow hankercher tied in a good 
many knots round my neck. I 'd a black velveteen 
Newmarket-cut coat, Avith very large pearl but- 
tons, and a pair of black knee-breeches tied with 
fine red strings. Then I 'd blue stripe stockings 
and high-ancle boots with very thin soles. I 'd a 
fiddle in one hand and a bow in the other. The 
gentleman said he drawed me for my head of hair. 
I've never been a gipsy, but he told me he 
didn't mind that, for I should make as good a 
gipsy fiddler as the real thing. The artists 



mostly give me 2s. I 've only been three times. 
I only wish I could get away from my present 
life. Indeed I would do any work if I could get 
it. I *m sure I could have a good character from 
my masters in Rathbone-place, for I never done 
nothing wrong. But if I couldn't get work I 
might very well, if I 'd money enough, get a 
few flowers to sell. As it is it 's more than any one 
can do to save at bird-nesting, and I 'm sure I 'm 
as prudent as e'er a one in the streets. I never 
took the pledge, but still I never take no beer nor 
spirits— I never did. Mother told me never to 
touch 'em, and I haven't tasted a drop. I 've 
often been in a public-house selling my things, and 
people has oflfered me sometliing to drink, but I 
never touch any. I can't tell why I dislike doing so 
— but something seems to tell me not to taste such 
stuff. I don't know whether it 's what my mother 
said to me. I know I was very fond of her, but 
I don't say it 's that altogether as makes me do it. 
I don't feel to want it. I smoke a good bit, 
and would sooner have a bit of baccy than a 
meal at any time. I could get a goodish rig- 
out in the lane for a few shillings. A pair of 
boots would cost me 2s., and a coat I could get 
for 2s. 6d. I go to a ragged school three times a 
week if I can, for I 'm but a poor scholar still, and 
I should like to know how to read ; it 's always 
handy you know, sir." 

This lad has been supplied with a suit of 
clothes and sufficient money to start him in some 
of the better kind of street-trades. It was thought 
advisable not to put him to any more settled occu- 
pation on account of the vagrant habits he has 
necessarily acquired during his bird-nesting career. 
Before doing this he was employed as errand-boy 
for a week, with the object of testing his trust- 
worthiness, and was found both honest and atten- 
tive. He appears a prudent lad, but of course it 
is diffictilt, as yet, to speak positively as to his 
character. He has, however, been assured that if 
he shows a disposition to follow some more re- 
putable calling he shall at least be put in the way 
of so doing. 

Or TBB Stkskt-Sbu.eb8 of Squirrels. 

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

The chief places in which squirrels are offered 
for sale, are Biegent-street and the Royal Bxchange, 
but ther are offered also in all the principal 
thoroighfow etpeeially at the West Bnd. The 

I purchasers are gentlefolk, tradespeople, and a few 
I of the Avorking classes who are fond of animals. 
I The wealthier persons usually buy the squirrels 
; for their children, and, even after the free life of 
; the woods, the animal seems happy enough in the 
I revolving cage, in which it " thinks it climbs." 
I The prices charged are from 2s. to 5s., " or more 
if it can be got, " from a third to a half being profit. 
i The sellers will oft enough state, if questioned, 
j that they caught the squirrels in Epping Forest, 
or Caen Wood, or any place sufficiently near 
London, but such is hardly ever the case, for the 
squirrels are bought by them of the dealers in live 
animals. Countrymen will sometimes catch a few 
squirrels and bring them to London, and nine 
times out of ten they sell them to the shop- 
keepers. To sell three squirrels a day in the 
street is accounted good work. 

I am assured by the best-informed parties that 
for five months of the year there are 20 men 
selling squirrels in the streets, at from 20 to 60 
per cent, profit, and that they average a weekly 
sale of six each. The average price is from 2s. to 
2s. 6d., although not very long ago one man sold 
a " wonderfully fine squirrel " in the street for 
three half-crowns, but they are sometimes parted 
with for Is. 6d. or less, rather than be kept over- 
night. Thus 2400 squirrels are vended yearly in 
the streets, at a cost to the public of 240/. 

Op thk Strebt-Sbllers of LEVBRBts, Wild 
Rabbits, etc. 

There are a few leverets, or young hares, »old in 
the streets, and they are vended for the most part 
in the suburbs, where the houses are somewhat 
detached, and where there are plenty of gardens. 
The softness and gentleness of the leveret's look 
pleases children, more especially girls, I am in- 
formed, and it is usually through their importu- 
nity that the young hares are bought, in order 
that they may be fed from the garden, and run 
tame about an out- house. The leverets thus 
sold, however, as regards nine out of ten, 
soon die. They are rarely supplied with their 
natural food, and all their natural habits are 
interrupted. Threy are in constant fear and dan- 
ger, moreover, from both dogs and cats. One 
shopkeeper who sold fancy rabbits in a street off 
the Westminster-road told me that he had once 
tried to tame and rear leverets in hutches, as he 
did rabbits, but to no purpose. He had no doubt 
it might be done, he said, but not in a shop or a 
small house. Three or four leverets are hawked 
by the street- people in one basket and are seen 
lying on hay, the basket having either a wide- 
worked lid, or a net thrown over it The hawkers 
of live poultry sell the most leverets, but they are 
vended also by the ainging-bird sellers. The 
animals are nearly all bought, for this traffic, at 
Leadenhall, and are retailed at Is. to 2*. each, 
one-third to one half being profit. Perhaps 800 
are sold this way yearly, producing 221. 10#. 

About 400 young wild rabbiu are sold in the 
street in a similar way, but at lower suma, from 
Sd. to 6d. each, id. being the mott frequent rate. 



The yearly outlay is thns 61. IZs. They thrive, 
in confinement, no better than the leverets. 

Of the Street-Sellers op Gold and 
Silver Fish. 
Of these dealers, residents in London, there are 
about 70 ; but during my inquiry (at tlie begin- 
ning of July) there were not 20 in town. One 
of their body knew of ten who were at work live- 
fish selling, and there might be as many more, 
he thought, "working" the remoter suburbs of 
Blackheath, Croydon, Richmond, Twickenham, 
Isleworth, or wherever there are villa re- 
sidences of the wealthy. This is the season when 
the gold and silver fish-sellers, who are altogether 
a distinct class from the bird-sellers of the streets, 
resort to the country, to vend their glass globes, 
with the glittering fish swimming ceaselessly 
round and round. The gold fish-hawkers are, 
for the rjibst part, of the very best class of the 
street-sellers. One of the principal fish-sellers is 
in winter a street-vendor of cough drops, hore- 
hound cand}'-, coltsfoot-sticks, and other medicinal 
confectionaries, which he himself manufactures. 
Another leading gold-fish seller is a costermonger 
now "on pine apples." A third, " with a good 
connection among the innkeepers," is in the 
autumn and winter a hawker of game and 

There are in London three wholesale dealers in 
gold and silver fish ; two of whom — one in the 
Kingsland-road and the other close by Billings- 
gate — supply more especially the street-sellers, 
and the street-traffic is considerable. Gold fish 
is one of the things which people buy when 
brought to their doors, but which they seldom 
care to "order." The importunity of children 
when a man unexpectedly tempts them with a 
display of such brilliant creatures as gold fish, is 
another great promotive of the street-trade ; and 
the street-traders are the best customers of the 
wholesale purveyors, buying somewhere about 
three-fourths of their whole stock. The dealers 
keep their fish in tanks suited to the purpose, but 
goldfish are never bred in London. The English- 
reared gold fish are "raised" for the most part, as 
respects the London market, in several places in 
Essex. In some parts they are bred in warm 
ponds, the water being heated by the steam from 
adjacent machinery, and in some places they are 
found to thrive well. Some are imported from 
France, Holland, and Belgium ; some are brought 
from the Indies, and are usually sold to the 
dealers to improve their breed, which every 
now and then, I was told, " required a foreign 
mixture, or they didn't keep up their colour." 
The Indian and foreign fish, however, are also 
sold in the streets ; the dealers, or rather the 
Essex breeders, who are often in London, 
have "just the pick of them," usually through 
the agency of their town customers. The English- 
reared gold fish are not much short of three- 
fourths of the whole supply, as the importation 
of these fishes is troublesome ; and unless they 
are sent under the care of a competent person, or 
unless the master or steward of a vessel is made 

to incur a share in the venture, by being paid 
80 much freight-money for as many gold and 
silver fishes as are landed in good health, and 
nothing for the dead or dying, it is very hazardous 
sending them on shipboard at all, as in case of 
neglect they may all die during the voyage. 

The gold and silver fish are of the carp species, 
and are natives of China, but they were first in- 
troduced into this country from Portugal about 
1690. Some are still brought from Portugal. 
They have been common in England for about 120 

These fish are known in the street-trade as 
"globe" and "pond" fish. The distinction is 
not one of species, nor even of the "variety" of a 
species, but merely a distinction of size. The 
larger fish are "pond;" the smaller, "globe." 
But the difference on which the street-sellers 
principally dwell is that the pond fish are far 
more troublesome to keep by them in a "slack 
time," as they must be fed and tended most 
sedulously. Their food is stale bread or biscuit. 
The " globe" fish are not fed at all by the street- 
dealer, as the animalcules and the minute insects 
in the water suffice for their food. Soft, rain, or 
sometimes Thames water, is used for the filling of 
the globe containing a street-seller's gold fish, the 
water being changed twice a day, at a public- 
house or elsewhere, when the hawker is on a' 
round. Spring-water is usually rejected, as the 
soft water contains " more feed." One man, how- 
ever, told me he had recourse to the street-pumps 
for a renewal of water, twice, or occasionally 
thrice a day, when the weather was sultr\' ; but 
spring or well water " wouldn't do at all." He 
was quite unconscious that he was using it from 
the pump. 

The wholesale price of these fish ranges from 
5s. to ISs. per dozen, with a higher charge for 
" picked fish," when high prices must be paid. 
The cost of "large silvers," for instance, which are 
scarcer than " large golds," so I heard them called, 
is sometimes 5s. apiece, even to a retailer, and 
rarely less than 3s. 6d. The most frequent price, 
retail from the hawker — for almost all the fish 
are hawked, but only there, I presume, for a tem- 
porary purpose — is 2s. the pair. The gold fish 
are now always hawked in glass globes, con- 
taining about a dozen occupants, within a diameter 
of twelve inches. These globes are sold by the 
hawker, or, if ordered, supplied by him on his 
next round that way, the pi ice being about 
2s. Glass globes, for the display of gold fish, 
are indeed manufactured at from 6d. to IZ. 10s. 
each, but 2s. or 2s. 6cl. is the usual limit to 
the price of those vended in the street. The 
fish are lifted out of the water in the globe to con- 
sign to a purchaser, by being caught in a neat net, 
of fine and different-coloured cordage, always 
carried by the hawker, and manufactured -for the 
trade at 2s. the dozen. Neat bandies for these 
nets, of stained or plain wood, are Is. the dozen. 
The dealers avoid touching the fish with their 
hands. Both gold fish and glass globes are much 
cheaper than they were ten years ago ; the globes 
are cheaper, of course, since the alteration in the 

Loynoy labour and the London poor. 


tax on glass, and the street-sellers are, numerically, 
nearly double what they were. 

From a well-looking and well-spoken youth of 
21 or 22, I had the foliowiiig account. He was 
the son, and grandson, of costennongers, but was 
— perhaps, in consequence of his gold-fish selling 
lying among a class not usually the costermongera' 
customers— of more refined manners than the gene- 
rality of the costers' children. 

" I 've been in the streets, sir," he said, " help- 
ing my father, until I was old enough to sell on 
my own account, since I was six years old. Yes, 
I like a street life, I'll tell yoxt, the plain, truth, 
for I vasptU by my father to a paperstainei', and 
found I couldn't bear to stay tJt doors. It would 
have ailed me. Gold fish are as good a thing to 
sell as anything else, perhaps, but I 've been a 
costermonger as well, and have sold both fruit 
and good fish — salmon and fine soles. Gold fish 
are not good for eating. I tried one once, just out 
of curiosity, and it tasted very bitter indeed ; I 
tasted it boiled. I 've worked both town and 
country on gold fish. I 've served both Brighton 
and Hastings. The fish were sent to me by rail, 
in vessels with air-holes, when I wanted more. I 
never stopped at lodging-houses, but at respectable 
public-houses, where 1 could be well suited in the 
care of my fish. It 's an expense, but there 's no 
help for it."' [A costermonger, when I questioned 
him on the subject, told me that he had sometimes 
sold gold fish in the country, and though he had 
often enough slept in common lodging-houses, he 
never could carry his fish there, for he felt satis- 
fied, alihoiuth he had never tested the fact, that 
in nine out of ten such places, the fish, in the 
summer season, would half of them die during the 
night from the foul air.] *• Gold fish sell better in 
the country than town," the street-d(»ler continued ; 
" much better. They 're more thought of in the 
country. My father's sold them all over the world, 
as the saying is. I 've sold both foreign and 
Knglioh fish. I prefer English. They 're the 
hardiest ; Essex fish. The foreign — I don't just 
know what part — are bred in milk ponds; kept 
fresh and sweet, of course ; and when they 're 
brought here, and come to be put in cold water, 
they soon die. In Essex they 're bred in cold 
water. They live about three years; that's their 
lifetime if they 're properly seen to. I don't know 
what kind of fish gold fish are. I 've heard that 
they first came from China. No, I can't read, and 
I 'm very sorry for it. If I have time next winter 
I '11 get Lauglit. Gentlemen sometimes ask roe to 
•it down, and talk to me about fish, and their his- 
tory (natural history), and I 'm often ata loss, which 
I mightn't be if I could read. If I have fish left 
after my day's work, I never let them stay in the 
globe I 'vo hawked them in, but put them into a 
large pan, a tub sometimes, three-parts full of 
water, where they have room. My customers are 
ladies and gentlemen, but I have sold to shop- 
keepers, such as buttermen, that often show gold 
fish and flowers in their shops. The fish don't 
live long in the very small globes, but they 're put 
in them sometimei just to satisfy children. I 've 
sold as many as two doxen at a time to stock a 

pond in a gentleman's garden. It 's the best sale 
a little way out of town, in any direction. I sell 
six dozen a week, I think, one week with another ; 
they'll run as to price at Is. apiece. That six 
dozen includes what I sell both in town and 
country. Perhaps I sell them nearly three-parts 
of the year. Some hawk all the year, but it 's a 
poor winter trade. Yes, I make a very fair 
living ; 2*. 6d. or 3s. or so, a day, perhaps, on 
gold fish, when the weather suits." 

A man, to whom I was referred as an expe- 
rienced gold fish-seller, had just returned, when I 
saw him, from the sale of a stock of new potitoes, 
peas, &c., which he " worked" in a donkey cart. 
He had not this season, he said, started in the 
gold-fish line, and did very little last year in it, as 
his costermongering trade kept steady, but his 
wife thought gold fish-selling was a better trade, 
and she always siccompanied him in his street 
rounds ; so he might take to it again. In his 
youth he was in the service of an old lady who 
had several pets, and among them were gold fish, 
of which she was very proud, always endeavour- 
ing to procure the finest, a street-seller being sure 
of her as a customer if he had fish larger or 
deeper or brighter-coloured than usual. She kept 
them both in stone cibterns, or small ponds, in her 
garden, and in glass globes in the house. Of these 
fish my informant had the care, and was often com- 
mended for his good management of them. After 
his mistress's death he was very unlucky, he said, 
in his places. Hislastmaster having been implicated, 
he believed, in some gambling and bill-discount- 
ing transactions, left the kingdom suddenly, 
and my informant was without a character, for 
the master he served previously to the one who 
went off so abruptly was dead, and a cliaracter 
two years back was of no use," for people said, 
" But where have you been living since 1 Let me 
know all about that." The man did not know 
what to do, for his money was soon exhausted : 
" I had nothing left," he said, " which I could 
turn into money except a very good great coat, 
which had belonged to my last master, and which 
was given to me becaiise he went off without 
paying me my wages. I thought of 'listing, for 
I was tired of a footman's life, almost always in 
the house in such jylaces as I had, but I was 
too old, I feared, and if I could have got over 
that I knew I should be rejected because I was 
getting bald. I was sitting thinking whatever 
could be done — I wasn't married then — and had 
nobody to consult with ; when I heard the very 
man as used to serve my old lady crying gold 
fish in the street It struck me all of a heap, and 
I wonder I hadn't thought of it before, when I 
recollected how well I 'd managed the fish, that 
I 'd sell gold fish too, and hawk it as he did, as it 
didn't seem such a bad trade. So I asked the 
man all about it, and he told me, and I raised a 
sovereign on my great coat, and that was my start 
in the streets. I was nervous, and a little 'shamed 
at first, but I soon got over that, and in time 
turned my hand to fruit and other things. Gold 
fish saved my life,. sir; I do believe that, f<>r I 
might have pined into a consumption if I 'd been 

F 8 



without something to do, and something to eat 
much longer." 

If we calculate, in order to allow for the cessa- 
tion of the trade during the winter, and often in the 
summer when costerraongering is at its best, that 
but half the above-mentioned number of gold-fish 
sellers hawk in the streets and that for but half a 
year, each selling six dozen weekly at 125. the 
dozen, we find 65,620 fish sold, at an outlay of 
3276^. As the country is also "worked" by 
the London street-sellers, and the supply is derived 
from London, the number and amount may be 
doubled to include this traffic, or 131,040 fish 
sold, and 6552^. expended. 

Of the Strbkt-Sellers of Tortoises. 
The number of tortoises sold in the streets of 
London is far greater than might be imagined, for 
it is a creature of no utility, and one which is 
inanimate in this country for half its life. 

Of live tortoises, there are 20,000 annually im- 
ported from the port of Mogadore in Morocco. 
They are not brought over, as are the parrots, &c., 
of which I have spoken, for amusement or as pri- 
vate ventures of the seamen, but are regularly 
consigned from Jewish houses in Mogadore, to 
Jewish merchants in London. They are a freight 
of which little care is taken, as they are brought 
over principally as ballast in the ship's hold, where 
they remain torpid. 

The street-sellers of tortoises are costermongers 
of the smarter class. Sometimes the vendors of 
shells and foreign birds " work " also a few tor- 
toises, and occasionally a wholesale dealer (the 
consignee of the Jewish house in Africa) will 
send out his own servants to sell barrow-loads 
of tortoises in the street on his own account. 
They are regularly ranged on the barrows, and 
certainly present a curious appearance — half- 
alive creatures as they are (when the weather 
is not of the warmest), brought from another 
continent for sale by thousands in the streets 
of London, and retention in the gardens and 
grounds of our civic villas. Of the number 
imported, one-half, or 10,000, are yearly sold in 
the streets by the several open-air dealers I have 
mentioned. The wholesale price is from 45. to Qs. 
the dozen ; they are retailed from Qd. to I5., a 
very fine well-grown tortoise being sometimes 
worth 2s. M. The mass, however, are sold at 
6«?. to 9ci. each, but many fetch I5. They 
are bought for children, and to keep in gardens as 
I have said, and when properly fed on lettuce 
leaves, spinach, and similar vegetables, or on 
white bread sopped in water, will live a long 
time. If the tortoise be neglected in a garden, 
and have no access to his favourite food, he will 
eat almost any green thing which comes in his 
way, and so may commit ravages. During the 
winter, and the later autumn and earlier spring, 
the tortoise is torpid, and may be kept in a 
drawer or any recess, until the approach of Bum- 
mer " thaws " him, as I heard it called. 

Calculating the average price of tortoises in 
street-sale at 8(/. each, we find upwards of 333/. 
thus expended yearly. 

Of the Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, 
Worms, Snakes, Hedgehogs, eto. 

I class together these several kinds of live crea- 
tures, as they are all " gathered " and sold by the 
same persons — principally by the men who supply 
bird-food, of whom I have given accounts in my 
statements concerning groundsel, chickweed, plain- 
tain, and turf-selling. 

The principal snail-sellers, however, are the 
turf-cutters, who are young and active men, while 
the groundsel-sellers are often old and infirm and 
incapable of working all night, as the necessities 
of the snail-trade often require. Of turf-cutters 
there were, at the time of my inquiry last winter, 
42 in London, and of these full one-third are re- 
gular purveyors of snails, such being the daintier 
diet of the caged blackbirds and thrushes. These 
men obtain their supply of snails in the market- 
gardens, the proprietors willingly granting leave to 
any known or duly recommended person who will 
rid them of these depredators. Seven-eighths of 
the quantity gathered are sold to the bird-dealers, 
to whom the price is 2d. a quart. The other 
eighth is sold on a street round at from Zd. to 6c?. 
the quart. A quart contains at least 80 snails, 
not heaped up, their shells being measured along 
with them. One man told me there were " 100 
snails to a fair quart." 

When it is moonlight at this season of the year, 
the snail gatherers sometimes work all night ; at 
other times from an hour before sunset to the 
decline of daylight, the work being resumed at 
the dawn. To gather 12 quarts in a night, or a 
long evening and morning, is accounted a pros- 
perous harvest. Half that quantity is " pretty 
tidy." An experienced man said to me : — 

*•' The best snail grounds, sir, you may take my 
word for it, is in Putney and Barnes. It 's the 
' greys ' we go for, the fellows with the shells on 
'em ; the black snails or slugs is no good to us. I 
think snails is the slowest got money of any. I 
don't suppose they get 's scarcer, but there 's good 
seasons tor snails and there 's bad. Warm and 
wet is best. We don't take the little 'uns. They 
come next year. I may make 1/. a year, or a 
little more, in snails. In winter there 's hardly 
anything done in them, and the snails is on the 
ground ; in summer they 're on the walls or leaves. 
They'll keep six months without injury; they'll 
keep the winter round indeed in a proper place." 

I am informed that the 14 snail gatherers 
on the average gather six dozen quarts each in a 
year, which supplies a total of 12,096 quarts, or 
individually, 1,189,440 snails. The labourers in 
the gardens, I am informed, may gather somewhat 
more than an equal quantity, — all being sold to 
the bird-shops ; so that altogether the supply of 
snails for the caged thrushes and blackbirds of 
London is about two millions and a half. Com- 
puting them at 24,000 quarts, and only at 2d. a 
quart, the outlay is 200/. per annum. 

The Frogs sold by street-people are, at the rate 
of about 36 dozen a year, disposed of in equal 
proportion to University and King's Colleges. 
Only two men collect the frogs, one for each hoe- 



pitaL ' They are charged Id. each : — " I 've some- 
" said one of the frog-purveyors, " come on 
■where I could have got six or seven dozen 
in a day, but that 's mostly been when I didn't 
want them. At other times I 'vegone days with- 
out collaring a single frog. I only want them four 
times a year, and four or five dozen at a time. 
The low part of Hampstead 's the best ground for 
them, I think. The doctors like big fellows. They 
keep them in water 'til they 're wanted to dissect." 
Oiie man thought that there might be 50 more 
frogs or upwards ordered yearly, through the bird- 
shops, for experiments under air-pumps, &c. This 
gives abont 600 frogs sold yearly by the street- 
people. One year, however, I was told, the supply 
was larger, for a Caraberwell gentleman ordered 40 
frogs to stock a watery place at the foot of his 
garden, as he liked to hear and see them. 

The Toad trade is almost a nonentity," One j 
man, who was confident he had as good a trade in 
that line as any of his fellows, told me that last 
year he only supplied one toad ; in one year, he 

forgot the precise time, he collected ten. He was 
confident that from 12 to 24 a j-ear was now 
the extent of the toad trade, perhaps 20. There 
was no regular price, and the men only " work to 
order." " It 's just what 'ihe shopkeeper, mostly 
a herbalist, likes to give." I was told, from \d. to 
Qd. according to size. " I don't know what they 're 
wanted for, something about the doctors, I believe. 
But if you want any toads, sir, for anything, I 
know a place between Hampstead and Willesden, 
where there 's real stunners." 

Worms are collected in small quantities by the 
street-sellers, and very grudgingly, for they are to 
be supplied gratuitously to the shopkeepers who 
are the customers of the turf-cutters, and snail 
and worm collectors. " They expects it as a 
parquisite, like." One man told me that they only- 
gathered ground worms for the bird-fanciers. 

Of the Snakes and Hedgehogs I have already 
spoken, when treating of the collection of birds'- 
nests. I am told that Bome few glovhwormt are 
collected. 1 


Thi class of which I have now to treat, includ- 
ing as it does the street-sellers of coal, coke, fcin- 
turf, salt, and sand, seem to have been called 
into existence principally by the necessities of 
the poorer classes. As the earnings of thou- 
sands of men, in all the slop, " slaughter-house," 
or " scamping " branches of tailoring, shoe- 
making, cabinet-making, joining, &c. have be- 
come lower and lower, they are compelled to 
purchase the indispensable articles of daily con- 
sumption in the smallest quantities, and at irregu- 
lar times, just as the money is in their possession. 
This is more especially the case as regards 
chamber-masters and garret-masters (among the 
shoemakers) and cabinet-makers, who, as they are 
small masters, and working on their own account, 
have not even such a regularity of pajrment as the 
jonmeyman of the slop-tailor. Among these poor 
artisans, moreover, the wife must slave with the 
husband, and it is often an object with them to 
•ave the time lost in going out to the chandler's- 
shop or the coal-shed, to have such things as coal, 
and coke brought to their very doors, and vended 
in the smallest quantities. It is the same with 
the women who work for the slop-shirt merchants, 
&C., or make cap-fronts, &c., on their own account, 
for the supply of the shopkeepers, or the whole- 
sale swag-men, who sell low-priced millinery. The 
street-sellers of the class I have now to notice are, 
then, the principal purveyors of the very poor. 

The men engaged in the street-sale of coal and 
eoke — the chief articles of this branch of the 
■tree t -sale - are of the eostemonger class, as, in* 
deed, is tisaally the case where an exercise of 
bodily strength is reqtiisite. Costermonffers, too, 
are Wtter versed than any other street-folk in the 
nuutagrment of barrows, carts, asses, ponies, or 
hortea, so that when these rebicles and these 

animals are a necessary part of any open-air 
business, it will generally be found in the hands 
of the coster class. 

Nor is this branch of the street-traffic confined 
solely to articles of necessity. Under my present 
enumeration will be found the street-sale of shells, 
an ornament of the mantel-piece above the fire- 
grate to which coal is a necessity. 

The present division will complete the subject 
of Street Sale in the metropolis. 

Of the Strkkt-Sellbbs of Coals. 
AocoRDiKO to the returns of the coal market for 
the last few years, there has been imported into 
London, on an average, 3,500,000 tons of sea- 
borne coal annually. Besides this immense supply, 
the various railways have lately poured in a con- 
tinuous stream of the same commodity from the 
inland districts, which has found a ready sale 
without sensibly affecting the accustomed vend of 
the north country coals, long established on the 
Coal Exchange. 

To the very poor the importance of coal can be 
scarcely estimated. Physiological and medical 
writers tell us that carbonaceous food is that which 
produces heat in the body, and is therefore the 
fuel of the system. Experience tells us that this 
is true; for who that has had an opportunity of 
visiting the habitations of the poor — the dwellers 
in ill-furnished rooms and garrets — has not re- 
marked the more than half-starved slop needle- 
woman, the wretched half-naked 'children of the 
casually employed labourer, as the dock-man, or 
those whose earnings are extorted from them by 
their employers, soch as the ballast-man, sitting 
crouched around the smouldering embers in the 
place where the fire ought to bel The reason of 
this is, becawe the system of the sufferer by long 



want of food has been deprived of the necessary 
mteraal heat, and so seeks instinctively to supply 
the deficiency by imbibing it from some outward 
source. It is on this account chiefly, I believe, 
that I have found the ill-paid and ill-fed work- 
people prize -warmth almost more than food. 
Among the poorest Irish, I have invariably found 
them crowding round the wretched fire when they 
had nothing to eat. 

The census returns of the present year (ac- 
cording to the accounts published in the news- 
papers) estimate the number of the inhabitants 
of London at 2,363,141, and the number of inha- 
bited houses as 307,722. Now if we take into 
consideration that in the immense suburbs of the 
metropolis, there are branching off from almost 
every street, labyrinths of courts and alleys, 
teeming with human beings, and that almost 
every room has its separate family — for it takes a 
multitude of poor to make one rich man — we may 
be able to arrive at the conclusion that by far the 
greater proportion of coals brought into London 
are consumed by the poorer classes. It is on this 
account of the highest importance, that honesty 
should be the characteristic of those engaged in 
the vend and distribution of an article so neces- 
sary not only to the comfort but to the very 
existence of the great masses of the population. 

The modes in which the coals imported into 
London are distributed to the various classes of 
consumers are worthy of observation, as they un- 
mistakably exhibit not only the wealth of the 
few, but the poverty of the many. The inhabit- 
ants of Belgravia, the wealthy shopkeepers, and 
many others periodically see at their doors the 
well-loaded waggon of the coal merchant, with two 
or three swarthy " coal-porters " bending beneath 
the black heavy sacks, in the act of laying in the 
10 or 20 tons for yearly or half-yearly consump- 
tion. But this class is supplied from a very 
different quarter from that of the artizans, la- 
bourers, and many others, who, being unable to 
spare money sufficient to lay in at once a ton or 
two of coals, must have recourse to other means. 
To meet their limited resources, there may be 
found in every part, always in back streets, per- 
sons known as coal-shed men, who get the coals 
from the merchant in 7, 14, or 20 tons at a time, 
and retail them from \ cwt, upwards. The coal- 
shed men are a very numerous class, for there 
is not a low neighbourhood in any part of the city 
which contains not two or three of them in every 

There is yet another class of purchasers of 
coals, however, which I have called the ' very 
poor,' — the inhabitants of two pairs back — the 
dwellers in garrets, &c. It seems to have been 
for the purpose of meeting the wants of this class 
that the street-sellers of coals have sprung into ex- 
istence. Those who know nothing of the. decent 
pride which often lingers among the famishing poor, 
can scarcely be expected to comprehend the great 
boon that the street-sellers of coals, if they could 
only be made honest and conscientious dealers, 
are calculated to confer on these people. " I 
have seen," saya a correspondent, " the starveling 

child of misery, in the gloom of the evening, 
steal timidly into the shop of the coal-shed man, 
and in a tremulous voice ask, as if begging a 
great favour, for seven liound of coals. Tlie coal- 
shed man has set down his pint of beer, taken 
the pipe from his mouth, blowing after it a cloud 
of smoke, and in a gruff voice, at which the little 
wretch has shrunk up (if it were possible) into 
a less space than famine had already reduced her 
to, and demanded — * Who told you as how I 

sarves seven pound o' coal 1 — Go to Bill C he 

may sarve you if he likes — I won't, and that's an 
end on 't — I wonders what people wants with seven 
pound o' coal.' The coal-shed man, after delivering 
himself of this enlightened observation, has pla- 
cidly resumed his pipe, while the poor child, 
gliding out into the drizzling sleet, disappeared in 
the darkness." 

The street-sellers vend any quantity at the 
very door of the purchaser, without rendering it 
necessary for them to expose their poverty to the 
prying eyes of the neighbourhood ; and, as I have 
said were the street dealers only honest, they 
would be conferring a great boon upon the poorer 
portion of the people, but unhappily it is scarcely 
possible for them to be so, and realize a profit for 
themselves. The police reports of the last year 
show that many of the coal merchants, standing 
high in the estimation of the world, have been 
heavily fined for using false weights ; and, did 
the present inquiry admit of it, there might be 
mentioned many other infamous practices by 
which the public are shamefully plundered in this 
commodity, and which go far to prove that the 
coal trade, in ioto, is a gigantic fraud. May 
I ask how it is possible for the street-sellers, with 
such examples of barefaced dishonesty before their 
eyes, even to dream of acting honestly 1 If not 
actually certain, yet strongly suspecting, that they 
themselves are defrauded by the merchant, how 
can it be otherwise than that they should resort 
to every possible mode of defrauding their cus- 
tomers, and so add to the already almost unen- 
durable burdens of the poorest of the poor, who 
by one means or other are made to bear all the 
burdens of the country ? 

The usual quantity of coals consumed in the 
poorest rooms, in which a family resides, is ^ cwt. 
per week in summer, and 1 cwt. do. in winter, 
or about 2 tons per annum. 

The street sale of coals was carried on to a con- 
siderable extent during the earlier part of the last 
century, " small coalmen " being among the regular 
street-traders. The best known of these was Tom 
Britton, who died through fright occasioned by a 
practical joke. He was a great fosterer of a taste 
for music among the people; for, after hawking 
his coals during the day, he had a musical gather- 
ing in his humble abode in the evening, to which 
many distinguished persons resorted. This is 
alluded to in the lines, by Hughes, under Tom 
Britten's portrait, and the allusion, according to 
the, poetic fashion of the time being made by means 
of a strained classicality : — 

" Cyllenius so, as fables tell, and Jove, 
Came willing guests to poor Philemon's grove." 


[From a Dagu«rrtotn>« by Bbard.] 


The trade seems to have disappeared gradually, 
but has recently been revived in another form. 

Some few years ago an ingenious and enterprising 
coitermonger, during a " slack" in his own busi- 
ness, conceived the idea of purchasing some of the 
refuse of the coals at the wharfs, conveying them 
round the poorer localities of his beat, in his ass- 
or pony-cart, and vending them to " room-keepers" 
and others, in small quantities and at a reduced 
rate, so as to undersell the coal-shed men, while 
making for himself a considerable profit. The 
example was not lost upon his fraternity, and no 
long time had elapsed before many others had started 
in the same line ; this eventually took so much 
custom from the regular coal-shed m^n, that, as a 
matter of self-defence, those among them who had 
a horse and cart, found it necessary to compete 
with the originators of the system in their own 
way, and, being possessed of more ample means, 
they succeeded, in a great measure, in driving 
the costers out of the field. The success of the 
coal-shed men was for a time so well followed 
up, that they began by degrees to edge away 
from the lanes and alleys, extending their excur- 
sions into quarters somewhat more aristocratic, and 
even there establishing a trade amongst those who 
had previously taken their ton or half ton of coals 
from the " brass-plate merchant," as he is called 
in the trade, being a person who merely procures 
orders for coals, gets some merchant who buys 
in the coal market to execute them in his name, 
and manages to make a living by the profits of 
these transactions. Some of this latter class con- 
sequently found themselves compelled to adopt a 
mode of doing their business somewhat similar, and 
for that purpose hired vans from the proprietors 
of those vehicles, loaded them with sacks of coals, 
drove round among their customers, prepared to 
furnish them with sacks or half sacks, as they 
felt disposed. Finally, many of the van pro- 
prietors themselves, finding that business might 
be done in this way, started in the line, and, being 
in general men of some means, established it as a 
regular trade. The van proprietors at the present 
time do the greater part of the business, but there 
may occasionally be seen, employed in this traffic, 
all sorts of conveyances, from the donkey-cart of the 
costermonger, or dock labourer, the latter of whom 
endeavours to make up for the miserable pittance 
he can earn at the rate of fourpence per hour, by 
the profits of this calling, to the aristocratic van, 
drawn along by two plump, well-fed horses, the 
property of a man worth 800/. or 900/. 

The Tan of the street-seller of coals is easily 
distinguished from the waggon of the regular 
merchant. The merchant's waggon is always 
loaded with sacks standing perpendicularly; it is 
drawn by four immense horses, and is driven along 
by a gaunt figure, begrimed with coal-dust, and 
** sporting" ancle boots, or shoes and gaiters, white, 
or what ought to be white, stockings, velvet knee- 
breeches, short tarry smock-frock, and a huge fen- 
tail bat slouching half-way down his back. The 
street-seller's vehicle, on the contrary, has the coals 
shot into it without sacks; while, on a tailboard, 
extending behind, lie weights and scales. It i« 

most frequently drawn by one horse, but some- 
times by two, with bells above their collars jing- 
ling as they go, or else the driver at intervals 
rings a bell like a dustman's, to announce hia 
approach to the neighbourhood. 

The street-sellers formerly purchased their coals 
from any of the merchants along the river-side; 
generally the refuse, or what remained after the 
best had been picked out by " skreening " or 
otherwise ; but always taking a third or fourth 
quality as most suitable for their piurpose. But 
since the erection of machinery for getting coals 
out of the ships in the Regent's Canal basin, they 
have resorted to that place, as the coals are at 
once shot from the box in which they are raised 
from the hold of the ship, into the cart or van, 
saving all the trouble of being filled in sacks by 
coal porters, and carried on their backs from the 
ship, barge, or heap, preparatory to their being 
emptied into the van ; thus getting them at a 
cheaper rate, and consequently being enabled to 
realize a greater profit. 

Since the introduction of inland coals, also, by 
the railways, many of the street-sellers have 
either wholly, or in part, taken to sell them on 
account of the lower rate at which they can be 
purchased ; sometimes they vend them unmixed, 
but more frequently they mix them up with " the 
small " of north country coals of better quality, and 
palm off the compound as "genuine Wallsend direct 
from the ship :" this (together with short weights) 
being, in fact, the principal source of their profit. 

It occasionally happens that a merchant pur- 
chases in the market a cargo of coals which 
turns out to be damaged, very small, or of in- 
ferior quality. In such cases he usually refuses to 
take them, and it is difficult to dispose of them in 
any regular way of trade. Such cargoes, or parts 
of cargoes, are consequently at times bought up by 
some of the more wealthy van proprietors engaged 
in the coal line, who realize on them a great profit. 
To commence business as a street-seller of 
coals requires little capital beyond the possession 
of a horse and cart. The merchants in all cases 
let street-sellers have any quantity of coals they 
may require till they are able to dispose of them ; 
and the street-trade being a ready-money business, 
they can go on from day to day, or from week to 
week, according to their pre-arrangements, so that, 
as far as the commodity in which they deal is con- 
cerned, there is no outlay of capital whatever. 

There are about 30 two-horse vans continimlly 
engaged in this trade, the price of each van 
being 70/. This gives . . . ^621 00 
100 horses at 20/. each . . . 1200 
160 carts at 10/. each . . . 1600 
160 horses at 10/. each . . 1600 

20 donkey or pony carts, value 1 /. each 20 

20 donkeys or ponies at 1/. 10«. each 30 

Making a total of 210 vehicles conti- 
nually employed, which, with the horses, — 
&c., may be valued at . . . 6560 

This sum, with the price of 210 aetf 
of weighu and scales, at 1/. 10«. per set 816 

Makes a total of 




This may be fairly set dovm as the gross amount 
of capital at present employed in the street-sale of 

It is somewhat difficult to ascertain correctly 
the amount of coals distributed in this way among 
the poorer classes. But I have found that they 
generally take two turns per day ; that is they 
go to the wharfs in the morning, get their vans 
or carts loaded, and proceed on their various 
rounds. This first turn usually occupies them 
till dinner-time, after which they get another load, 
which is sufficient to keep them employed till 
night. Now if we allow each van to carry two 
and a half tons, it will make for all 150 tons per 
day, or 900 tons per week. In the same manner 
allowing the 160 carts to carry a ton each, it will 
give 320 tons per day, or 1920 tons per week, and 
the twenty pony carts half a ton each, 40 tons per 
day, or 240 tons per week, making a total of 3060 
tons per week, or 159,120 tons per annum. This 
quantity purchased from the merchants at 14s. 6d. 
per ton amounts to 115,362^. annually, and sold 
at the rate of 1*. per cwt., or 1^. per ton, leaves 
6s. 6d. per ton profit, or a total profit of 43,758/., 
and this profit divided according to the foregoing 
account gives the subjoined amounts, viz. : — 

To each two-horse van regularly employed 
throughout the year, a profit of . . £429 

To each one-horse cart, ditto, ditto, 171 12 

To each pony cart, ditto, ditto, 121 12 

From which must, of course, be made the neces- 
sary deductions for the keep of the animals and 
the repair of vehicles, harness, &c. 

The keep of a good horse is 10s. per week ; a 
pony 6s. Three horses can be kept for the price 
of two, and so on; the more there are, the less cost 
for each. 

The localities where the street-sellers of coals 
may most frequently be met with, are Blackwall, 
Poplar, Limehouse, Stepney, St. George's East, 
Twig Folly, Bethnal Green, Spitalfields, Shore- 
ditch, Kingsland, Haggerstone, and Islington. It 
is somewhat remarkable that they are almost un- 
known on the south side of the Thames, and are 
seldom or never to be encountered in the low 
streets and lanes in Westminster lying contiguous 
to the river, nor in the vicinity of Marylebone, 
nor in any place farther west than Shoreditch ; 
this is on account of the distance from the Regent's 
Canal basin precluding the possibility of their 
making more than one turn in the day, which 
would greatly diminish their profits, even though 
they might get a higlier price for their com- 

It maybe observed that the foregoing statement 
in figures is rather under the mark than otherwise, 
as it is founded on the amount of coals purchased 
at a certain rate, and sold at a certain profit, 
without taking into account any of the " dodges" 
which almost all classes of coal dealers, from the 
highest to the lowest, are known to practise, so 
that the rate of profit arising from this business 
may be fairly supposed to amount to much more 
than the above account can show in figures. 

I received the following statement from a person 
engaged in the street traffic :— 

" I kept a coal-shed and greengrocer's shop, 
and as I had a son grown up, I wanted to get 
something for him to do ; so about six years ago, 
having a pony and cart, and seeing others selling 
coals through the street, I thought I 'd make him 

try his hand at it. I went to Mr. B 's, at 

Whiting's wharf, and got the cart loaded, and sent 
my son round our own neighbourhood. I found 
that he soon disposed of them, and so he went on 
by degrees. People think we get a great deal of 
profit, but we don't get near as much as they 
think. I paid 16s. a ton all the winter for coals 
and sold them for a shilling a hundred, and when 
I came to feed the horse I found that he '11 
nearly eat it all up. A horse's belly is not so 
easy to fill. I don't think my son earns much more 
now, in summer, than feeds the horse. It 's dif- 
ferent in winter ; he does not sell more nor half 
a ton a day now the weather 's so warm. In 
winter he can always sell a ton at the least, and 
sometimes two, and on the Saturday he might sell 
three or four. My cart holds a ton ; the vans hold 
from two to three tons. I can't exactly tell how 
many people are engaged in selling coals in the 
street, but there are a great many, that 's certain. 
About eight o'clock what a number of carts and 
vans you '11 see about the Regent's Canal ! They 
like to get away before breakfast, because then 
they may have another turn after dinner. There 's 
a great many go to other places for coals. The 
people who have vans do much better than those 
with the carts, because they carry so much that 
they save time. There are no great secrets in 
our business ; we haven't the same chance of ' doing 
the thing ' as the merchants have. They can mix 
the coals up as they like for their customers, 
and sell them for best ; all we can do is to buy 
a low quality; then we may lose our customers 
if we play any tricks. To be sure, after that 
we can go to parts where we're not known. 
I don't use light weights, but I know it 's done 
by a good man)'-, and they mix up small coals 
a good deal, and that of course helps their 
profits. My son generally goes four or five miles 
before he sells a ton of coals, and in summer 
weather a great deal farther. It 's hard-earned 
money that 's got at it, I can tell you. My cart is 
worth 12/. ; I have a van worth 20/. I wouldn't 
take 20/. for my horse. My van holds two tons 
of coals, and the horse draws it easily, I send 
the van out in the winter when there 's a good 
call, but in the summer I only send it out on the 
Saturday. I never calculated how much profit I 
made. I haven't the least idea how mucti is got 
by it, but I 'm sure there 's not near as much as 
you say. Why, if there was, I ought to have 
made a fortune by this time." [It is right I should 
state that I received the foregoing account of the 
profits of the street trade in coals from one prac- 
ticilly and eminently acquainted with it.] " Some 
in the trade have done very well, but they were 
well enough off before. I know very well I '11 
never make a fortune at anything; I '11 be 
satisfied if I keep moving along, so as to keep 
out of the Onion," 

As to the habits of the street-sellers of coals. 



they are as various as their different circumstances 
will admit; but they closely resemble each other 
in one general characteristic — their provident and 
careful habits. Many of them have risen from 
struggling costermongers, to be men of substance, 
with carts, vans, and horses of their own. Some 
of the more wealthy of the class may be met with 
now and then in the parlours of respectiible public 
houses, where they smoke their pipes, sip their 
brandy and water, and are remarkable for the 
shrewdness of their remarks. They mingle freely 
with the respectable tradesmen of their own 
localities, and may be seen, especially on the 
Sunday afternoons, with their wives and showily- 
dressed daughters in the gardens of the New 
Globe, or Green Dragon — the Cremorne and Vaux- 
hall of the east. I visited the house of one of 
those who I was told had originally been a coster- 
monger. The front portion of the shop was 
almost filled with coals, he having added to his 
occupation of street-seller the business of a coal- 
shed man ; this his wife and a little boy managed 
in his absence; while, true to his early training, 
the window-ledge and a bench before it were 
heaped up with cabbages, onions, and other vege- 
tables. In an open space opposite his door, I 
observed a one-horse cart and two or three trucks 
with his name painted thereon. At his invitation, 
I passed through what may be termed the shop, 
and entered the parlour, a neat room nicely 
carpeted, with a round table in the centre, chairs 
ranged primly round the walls, and a long looking- 
glass reflecting the china shepherds and shep- 
herdesses on the mantel-piece, while, framed and 
glazed, all around were highly-coloured prints, 
among which, Dick Turpin, in flash red coat, 
j gallantly clearing the toll-gate in his celebrated 
j ride to York, and Jack Sheppard lowering himself 
down from the window of the lock-up house, were 
I most conspicuous. In the window lay a few 
books, and one or two old copies of BelCs Life. 
Among the well-thumbed books, I picked out the 
Netcyate Calendar, and the " Calendar of Oi-rers" 
at he called it, of which he expressed a very high 
opinion. " Lor bless you," he exclaimed, " them 
there stories is the vonderfuUest in the vorld ! I 'd 
nerer ba believed it, if I adn't seed it vith my 
own two hies, but there can't be no mistake ven 
I read it hout o' the book, can there, now ? I 
jist asks yer that ere plain question." 

Of hit career he gave me the following ac- 
count : — " I To« at von time a coster, riglarly 
brought up to the business, the times vas good 
then ; but lor, ve used to lush at sich a rate ! 
About ten year ago, I ses to meself, I say Bill, 
I 'm blowed if this here game 'ill do any longer. 
I had a good moke (donkey), and a tidyish box 
or a cart ; so vot does I do, but goes and sees von 
o' my old pals that gits into the coal-line some- 
how. He and I goes to the Bell and Siven 
Mackerels in the Alilo End Road, and then he 
tells me all he knnwed, and takes me along vith 
histelf, and from that time I sticks to the coals. 

" I niver cared much about the lush myself, and 
Ten I got avay front the old uns, I didn't mind it 
no how; bat Jack my pal vot * awful lutby cove, 

he couldn't do no good at nothink, votsomever; 
he died they say of lirium trumans" [not under- 
standing what he meant, I inquired of what it 
was he died] ; " why, of lirium trumans, vich I 
takes to be too much of Trueman and Hanbury's 
heavy ; so I takes varnin by poor Jack, and cuts 
the lush ; but if you thinks as ve don't enjoy 
ourselves sometimes, I tells you, you don't know 
nothink about it, I 'm gittin on like a riglar house 
a fire." 

Op the Strebt-Sbllers of Coke. 

Amono the occupations that have sprung up of 
late years is that of the purchase and distribution 
of the refuse cinders or coke obtained from the 
different gas-works, which are supplied at a much 
cheaper rate than coal. Several of the larger gas 
companies burn as many as 100,000 tons of coals 
per annum, and some even more, and every 
ton thus burnt is stated to leave behind two chal- 
drons of coke, returning to such companies 50 
per cent, of their outlay upon the coal. The dis- 
tribution of coke is of the utmost importance to 
those whose poverty forces them to use it instead of 

It is supposed that the ten gas companies in and 
about the metropolis produce at least 1,400,000 
chaldrons of coke, which are distributed to the 
poorer classes by vans, one-horse carts, donkey 
carts, trucks, and itinerant vendors who carry one, 
and in some cases two sacks lashed together on 
their backs, from house to house. 

The van proprietors are those who, having 
capital, contract with the companies at a fixed 
rate per chaldron the year through, and supply 
the numerous retail shops at the current price, 
adding '3d. per chaldron for carriage ; thus 
speculating upon the rise or fall of the article, and 
in most cases carrying on a very lucrative business. 
This class numbers about 100 persons, and are to 
be distinguished by the words " coke contractor," 
painted on a showy ground on the exterior of their 
handsome well-made vehicles ; they add to their 
ordinary business the occupation of conveying to 
their destination the coke that the companies sell 
from time to time. These men have generally a 
capiUil, or a reputation for capital, to the extent of 
400/. or 500/., and in some cases more, and 
they usually enter into their contracts with the 
companies in the summer, when but small quan- 
tities of fuel are required, and the gas-works are 
incommoded for want of space to contain the 
quantity made. They are consequently able, by 
their command of means, to make advantageous 
bargains, and several instances are known of men 
starting with a wheelbarrow in this calling and 
who are now the owners of the dwellings in which 
they reside, and have goods, vans, and carts 

Another class, to whom may be applied much 
that has been said of the van proprietors, are th« 
possessors of one-horse carts, who iu many instances 
keep small shops for the sale of greens, coals, &c. 
These men arc scattered over the whole metro- 
polis, but as they do not exclusively obtain tbeir 



living by vending this article, they do not properly 
belong to this portion of the inquiry. 

A very numerous portion of the distributors of 
coke are the donkey-cart men, who are to be seen 
in all the poorer localities with a quantity shot in 
the bottom of their cart, and two or three sacks 
on the top or fastened underneath — for it is of a 
light nature — ready to meet the demand, crying 
" Coke ! coke ! coke !" morning, noon, and night. 
This they sell as low as Id. per busliel, coke 
having, in consequence of the cheapness of coals, 
been sold at the gas-works by the single sack 
as low as Id., and although there is here a 
seeming contradiction — that of a man selling and 
living by the loss — such is not in reality the case. 
It should be remembered that a bushel of good 
coke will weigh 40 lbs., and that the bushels of 
these men rarely exceed 25 lbs. ; so that it will 
be seen that by this unprincipled mode of dealing 
they can seemingly sell for less than they give, 
and yet realize a good profit. The two last classes 
are those who own a truck or wheelbarrow or are 
the fortunate possessors of an athletic frame and 
broad shoulders, who roam about near the vicinity 
of the gas-works, soliciting custom, obtaining ready 
cash if possible, but in most cases leaving one sack 
on credit, and obtaining a profit of from 2d., Zd., 
4rf., or more. These men are to be seen going 
firom house to house cleverly regulating their 
arrival to such times as when the head of the 
family returns home with his weekly wage, and 
in possession of ready cash enough to make a 
bargain with the coke contractor. Another fact 
in connection with this class, many of Avhom are 
women, who employ boys to drag or carry their 
wares to their customers, is this : when they fail 
through any cause, they put their walk up for sale, 
and find no difficulty to obtain purchasers from 
21. to as high as 8^., 10/., and \2l. The street- 
sellers of coke number in all not less than 1500 
persons, who maybe thus divided : van proprietors, 
100; single horse carts, 300; donkey-cart men, 
500 ; trucks, wheelbarrows, and " physical force 
men," 650 ; and women about 50, who penetrate to 
all the densely-crowded districts about town dis- 
tributing this useful article ; the major portion of 
those who are of anything like sober habits, 
live in comfort ; and in spite of the opinion held 
by many, that the consumption of coke is injurious 
to health and sight, they carry on a large and 
increasing business. 

At the present time coke may be purchased at 
the gas factories at 6s. per chaldron; but in winter 
it generally rises to 10s., so that, taking the ave- 
rage, 8*., it will be found, that the gas factories of 
the metropolis realize no less a sum than 560,000/. 
per annum, by the coke produced in tlie course of 
their operations. And 4s. per chaldron being 
considered a fair profit, it will be found, that 
the total profit arising from its sale by the various 
vendors is 280,000/. 

It is impossible to arrive with any degree of 
certainty at the actual amount of business done by 
each of the above-named classes, and the profits 
consequent on that business: by dividing the 
above amount equally among all the coke sellers, 

it will be found to give 186/. per annum to each 
person. But it will be at once seen, that the 
same rule holds good in the coke trade that has 
already been explained in connection with coals : 
those possessing vans reaping the largest amount 
of profit; the one-horse cart men next; then the 
donkey carts, trucks, and wheelbarrows; and, least 
of all, the " backers," as they are sometimes called. 
Concerning tlie amount of capital invested in 
the street-sale of coals it may be estimated as 
follows : — 

If we allow 70/. for each of the 100 

vans, it will give £7,000 

20/. for each of the horses . . 2,000 
300 carts at 10/. each . . . 3,000 
300 horses at 10/. each . . . 3,000 
500 donkey-carts at 11. each . . 600 

500 donkeys at 1/. each ... 500 

200 trucks and barrows at 10s. each . 100 

making a total of ... . ^£16,000 

To this must be added 

4800 sacks for the 100 vans at 
3s. 6d each 840 

3600 sacks for the 300 carts . 630 

3000 „ „ 500 donkey 
carts 525 

1652 „ „ 550 trucks 

and backers 288 15 

300 „ „ 50 women. 52 10 

£18,336 5 

Which being added to the value of vans, 
carts, and horses employed in the street- 
sale of coals, viz. . . . . 

gives a capital of . . . 



employed in the street-sale of coal and 

The profits of both these trades added 
together, namely, that on coals . . 43,758 
and the profit on coke . . . 280,000 

shows a total profit of . . . £323,768 
to be divided among 1710 persons, who compose 
the class of itinerant coal and coke vendors of the 

The following statement as to the street-sale of 
coke was given by a man in good circumstances, 
who had been engaged in the business for many 
years : — 

" I am a native of the south of Ireland. More 
nor twenty years ago I came to London. I had 
friends here working in a gas factory, and afther 
a time they managed to get me into the work too. 
My business was to keep the coals to the stokers, 
and when they emptied the retorts to wheel the 
coke in barrows and empty it on the coke heap. 
I worked for four or five years, off and on, at this 
place. I was sometimes put out of work in the 
summer-time, because they don't want as many 
hands then. There's not near so much gas burned 
in summer, and then, of cour»e, it takes less hands 



to make it Wen, at last I got to be a stoker ; I had 
betther wages thin, and a couple of pots of beer 
in the day. It was dhreadful hard work, and as 
hot, aye, as if you were in the inside of an oven. 
I don't know how I ever stood it. Be me soul, I 
don't know how anybody stands it; it's the divil's 
place of all you erer saw in your life, standing 
there before them retorts with a long heavy rake, 
puUin out the red-hot coke for the bare life, and 
then there 's the rake red-hot in your hands, and 
the hissin and the bubblin of the wather, and the 
smoke and the smell — it's fit to melt a man like a 
rowl of fresh butther. I wasn't a bit too fond of 
\X, at any rate, for it 'ud kill a horse ; so I ses to 
the wife, ' I can't stand this much longer, Peggy.' 
Well, behold you, Peggy begins to crj' and wring 
her hands, thinkin we'd starve ; but I knew a 
grate dale betther nor that, for I was two or three 
times dhrinkin with some of thim that carry the 
coke out of the yard in sacks to sell to the poor 
people, and they had twice as much money to 
spind as me, that was working like a horse from 
mornin to night. I had a pound or two by me, 
for I was always savin, and by this time I knew 
a grate many people round about ; so off I goes, 
and asks one and another to take a sack of coke 
from me, and bein knoun in the yard, and 
standin a dhrop o' dhrink now and thin for the 
fillers, I alway got good measure, and so I used 
to make four sacks out of three, and often three 
out of two. Well, at last I got tired carryin 
sacks on me back all day, and now I know I was 
a fool for doin it at all, for it 's asier to dhrag a 
thruck with five or six sacks than to carry one : 
so I got a second-hand thruck for little or nothin, 
and thin I was able to do five times as much 
work in half the time. At l^^t, I took a notion 
of puttin BO much every Sathurday night in the 
savin bank, and faith, sir, that was the lucky 
notion for me, although Peggy wouldn't hear of 
it at all at all. She swore the bank 'ud be broke, 
and said she could keep the goold safer in her 
own stockin ; that thim gintlemin in banks were 
all a set of blickards, and only desaved the poor 
people into givin them their money to keep it thim- 
selves. But in spite of Peggy I put the money in, 
and it was well for me that I did so, for in a 
short time I could count up 30 or 40 guineas 
in bank, and whin Peggy saw that the bank 
wasn't broke she was quite satisfied ; so one day 
I ses to myself. What the divil's the use of mc 
breakin my heart mornin, noon, and night, dhrag- 
gin a thruck behind me, whin ever so little a bit 
of a horse would dhrag ten time as much as I 
can? so off I set to Smithfieid, and bought a 
•toot stomp of a horse for 12/. \Q$., and thin wint 
to a sale and bought an ould cart for little or 
nothin, and in less nor a month I had every 
fartbin back again in the bank. Well, afther 
this, I made more and more every day, and 
findin that I paid more for the coke in winther 
than in summer, I thought as I had money if I 
coold only get a place to put a good lot in summer 
to sell in winther it would be a good thing ; so I 
begun to look about, and found this house for 
sale, so I bought it out and out. It was an ould 

house to be sure ; but it's sthrong enough, and dune 
up well enough for a poor man — besides there's the 
yard, and see in that yard there's a hape o'coke for 
the winther. I 'm buyin it up now, an it 'ill turn 
a nice pinny whin the could weather comes again. 
To make a long story short, I needn't call the 
king my cousin. I 'm sure any one can do well, 
if he likes ; but I don't mane that thej-- can do 
well brakin their heart workin ; divil a one that 
sticks to work 'ill ever be a hapenny above a 
beggar ; and I know if I 'd stuck to it myself I 'd 
be a grate dale worse off now than the first day, 
for I 'm not so young nor near so sthrong as I 
was thin, and if I hadn't lift it off in time I 'd 
have nothin at all to look to in a few years more 
but to ind my days in the workhouse — bad luck 
to it." 

Op the Street-Sellers op Tan-Turp. 

Tanturj is oak bark made into turf after its 
virtues have been exhausted in the tan-pits. To 
make it into turf the manufacturers have a mill 
which is turned by horse-power, in which they 
grind the bark to a considerable degree of fineness, 
after which it is shaped by a mould into thin 
cakes about six inches square, put out to dry and 
harden, and when thoroughly^ hardened it is fit 
for sale and for all the uses for which it is in- 

There is only one place in London or its neigh- 
bourhood where there are tan-pits — in Bermond- 
sey — and there only is the turf made. There are 
not more than a dozen persons in London engaged 
in the sale of this commodity in the streets, and 
they are all of the tribe of the costermongers. 
The usual capital necessary for starting in the line 
being a donkey and cart, with 9«. or 10«. to pur- 
chase a few hundreds of the turf. 

There is a tradition extant, even at the present 
day, that during the prevalence of the plajgue in 
London the houses where the tan-turf was used 
in a great measure escaped that awful visitation ; 
and to this moment many people purchase and 
burn it in their houses on account of the peculiar 
smell, and under the belief that it is efficacious in 
repelling infectious diseases from the localities in 
which it is used. 

The other purposes for which it is used are 
for forming a sort of compost or manure for 
plants of the heath kind, which delight in a 
soil of this description, growing naturally among 
mosses and bogs where the peat fuel is obtained. 
It is used also by small bakers for heating their 
ovens, as preferable fur their purposes, and more 
economical than any other description of fuel. 
Sometimes it is used for burning under coppers ; 
and very often for keeping alight during the night, 
on account of the slowness of its decomposition 
by fire, for a single cake will continue burning 
for a whole night, will be found in the morning 
completely enveloped in a white ash, which, on 
being removed, discovers the live embers in the 

The rate at which the tan turf is sold to the 
dealers, at the ton-piu, is from Qd. to M, per bun- 



dred cakes. Those at 9rf. per hundred are perfect 
and unbroken, while those at 6rf. have been injured 
in some way or other. The quality of the article, 
however, remains the same, and by purchasing 
some of each sort the vendors are able to make 
somewhat more profit, Avhich may be, on an ave- 
rage, about 4^rf. per hundred, as they sell it 
at Is. 

While seeking information on this subject I 

obtained the address of a person in T mews, 

T square, engaged in the business. Running 

out of the square is a narrow street, which, about 
mid-way through, leads on the right-hand side to 
a narrow alley, at the bottom of which is the 
mews, consisting of merely an oblong court, 
surrounded by stables of the very smallest dimen- 
sions, not one of them being more than twelve feet 
square. Three or four men, in the long waist- 
coats and full breeches peculiar to persons en- 
gaged among horses, were lounging about, and, 
with the exception of the horses, appeared to be 
the only inhabitants of the place. On inquiring 
of one of the loungers, I was shown a stable in 
one corner of the court, the wide door of which 
stood open. On entering I found it occupied by 
a donkej'-cart, containing a couple of hundred 
cakes of tan-turf; another old donkey-cart was 
turned up opposite, the tailboard resting on the 
ground, the shafts pointing to the ceiling, while a 
cock and two or three draggle-tailed hens were 
composing themselves to roost on the front portion 
of the cart between the shafts. Within the space 
thus inclosed by the two carts lay a donkey and 
two dogs, that seemed keeping him company, 
and were busily engaged in mumbling and 
crunching some old bones. On the wall hung 
" Jack's harness." In one corner of the ceiling 
was an opening giving access to the place above, 
which was reached by means of a long ladder. 
On ascending this I found myself in a very small 
attic, with a sloping ceiling on both sides. In the 
highest part, the middle of the room, it was 
not more than six feet high, but at the sides it 
was not more than three feet. In this confined 
apartment stood a stump bedstead, taking up the 
greater portion of the floor. In a corner alongside 
tlie fire-place I noticed what appeared to be a 
small turn-up bedstead. A little ricketty deal 
table, an old smoke-dried Dutch clock, and a poor 
old woman, withered and worn, were the only 
other things to be seen in the place. The old 
woman had been better oflF, and, as is not uncom- 
mon under such circumstances, she endeavoured 
to make her circumstances appear better than 
they really were. She made the following state- 
ment : — 

*• My husband was 23 years selling the 
tan turf. There used to be a great deal more 
of it sold than there is now ; people don't seem to 
think so much of it now, as they once did, but 
there are some who still use it. There 's an old 
lady in Kentish-town, who must have it regu- 
larly; she bums it on account of the smell, and 
has burned it for many years : my husband used 
to serve her. There 's an old doctor at Hampstead 
i — or rather he was there, for he died a few days 

ago — he always bought a deal of it, but I don't 
know whether he. burned it or not; he used to 
buy 500 or 600 at a time, he was a very good 
customer, and we miss him now. The gar- 
deners buy some of it, for their plants, they say 
it makes good manure, though you wouldn't 
think so to look at it, it 's so hard and dry. My 
husband is dead three years ; we were better off 
when he was alive ; he was a very sober and 
careful man, and never put anything to waste. 
My youngest son goes with the cart now ; he don't 
do as well as his father, poor little fellow ! he *s 
only fourteen years of age, but he does very well 
for a boy of his age. He sometimes travels 30 
miles of a day, and can't sell a load — sometimes 
not half a load ; and then he comes home of a 
night so footsore that you'd pity him. Some- 
times he 's not able to stir out, for a day or two, 
but he must do something for a living; there's 
nothing to be got by idleness. The cart will hold 
1000 or 1200, and if he could sell that every 
day we 'd do very well ; it would leave us about 
Zs. 6d. profit, after keeping the donkey. It 
costs 9d. a day to keep our donkey; he 's young 
yet, but he promises to be a good strong 
animal, and I like to keep him Avell, even if 
I go short myself, for what could we do with- 
out him 1 I believe there are one or two per- 
sons selling tan-turf who use trucks, but they 're 
strong ; besides they can't do much with a 
truck, they can't travel as far with a truck 
as a donkey can, and they can't take as much 
out with them. My son goes of a morning to 
Bermondsey for a load, and is back by break- 
fast time ; from this to Bermondsey is a long 
way — then he goes out and travels all round 
Kentish-town and« Hampstead, and what with 
going up one street and down another, by the 
time he comes home at night, he don't travel less 
than from 25 to 30 miles a day. I have another 
son, the eldest. He used to go with his father 
when he was filive ; he was reared to the business, 
but after he died he thought it was useless for 
both to go out with the cart, so he left it to the little 
fellow, and now the eldest works among horses. 
He don't do much, only gets an odd job now and 
then among the ostlers, and earns a shilling now 
and then. They 're both good lads, and would do 
well if they could ; they do as well as they can, 
and I have a right to be thankful for it." 

The poor woman, notwithstanding the extra- 
ordinary place in which she lived, and the con- 
fined dimensions of her single apartment (I ascer- 
tained that the two sons slept in the stump bed- 
stead, while she used the turn-up), was nevertheless 
cleanly in her person and apparel, and superior in 
many respects to persons of the same class, and I 
give her statement verbatim, as it corroborates, in 
almost every particular, the statement of the un- 
fortunate seller of salt, who is afflicted with a 
drunken disorderly wife, and who is also a man 
superior to the people with whom he is compelled 
to associate, but who in evident bitterness of spirit 
made this assertion : " Bad as I 'm off now, if I 
had only a careful partner, 1 wouldn't want for 



Concerning the dogs that I have spoken of as 
being with the donkey, there is a curious story. 
During his rounds the donkey frequently met the 
bitch, and an extraordinary friendship grew up 
between the two animals, so that the dog at last 
forsook its owner, and followed the donkey in all 
his travels. For some time back she has accom- 
panied him home, together with her puppy, and 
they all sleep corily together during the night, 
Jack taking especial care not to hurt the young 
one. In the morning, when about to go out for 
the day's work, it is of no use to expect Jack to 
go without his friends, as he will not budge an 
inch, so he is humoured in his whim. The puppy, 
when tired, is put into the cart, and the mother 
j forages for her living along the way ; the poor 
woman not being able to feed them. The owner 
of the dogs came to see them on the day previous 
to ray visit. 

Op the Street-Sbllkrs op Salt. 

Until a few years after the repeal of the duty on 
the salt, there were no street-sellers of it. It was 
first taxed in the time of William III., and during 
the war with Napoleon the impost was 155. the 
bushel, or nearly thirty times the cost of the 
article taxed. The duty was finally repealed in 
1823. When the tax was at the highest, salt 
was smuggled most extensively, and retailed at 
4d. and 4^d. the pound. A licence to sell it was 
also necessary. Street salt-selling is therefore a 
trade of some twenty years standing. Consider- 
ing the vast consumption of salt, and the trifling 
amount of capital necessary to start in the business, 
it might be expected that the street-sellers would 
be a numerous class, but they do not number above 
150 at the outside. The reason assigned by a 
well-informed man was, that in every part of 
London there are such vast numbers of shop- 
keepers who deal in salt. 

About one-half of those employed in 
street salt-selling have donkeys and 
carts, and the rest use the two-wheeled 
barrow of the costerraonger, to which 
class the street salt-sellers, gene- 
rally, belong. The value of the 
donkey and cart may be about 21. 5s. 
on an average, so that 75 of the 
number possessing donkeys and carts 
will have a capital among them equal 
to the sum of . . . £168 15 

The barrows of the remainder are 
worth about lOs. each, which will 
amount to 

To sell 3 cwt of salt in a day is con- 
tidered good work ; and this, if pur- 
chased at 2s. per cwt., gives for stock- 
money the sum toUl of . 

37 10 

Thos the amount of capital which 
nuiT be reasonably assumed to be 
embarked in this bosincss is £251 


The street-sellers pay at the rate of 2#. per cwt. 

for the salt, and retail it at 3 lbs. for Id., which 
leaves Is. Id. profit on every cwt. One day with 
another, taking wet and dry, for from the nature 
of the article it cannot be hawked in wet weather 
the street-sellers dispose of about 2^ cwt. per day^ 
or 18 tons 15 cwt, per day for all hands, which, de^ 
ducting Sundays, makes 5825 tons in the course 
of the year. The profit of Is. Id. per cwt. amounts 
to a yearly aggregate profit of 63 10^. 8*. id., or 
about 42/. per annum for each person in the trade. 

The salt dealers, generally, endeavour to in- 
crease their profits by the sale of mustard, and 
sometimes by the sale of rock-salt, which is used 
for horses ; but in these things they do little, the 
most profit they can realize in a day averaging 
about id. 

The salt men who merely use the barrow are 
much better off than the donkey-cart men ; the 
former are young men, active and strong, well 
able to drive their truck or barrow about from one 
place to another, and they can thereby save the 
original price and subsequent keep of the donkey. 
The latter are in general old men, broken down 
and weak, or lads. The daily cost of keeping a 
donkey is from 6d. to 9d.; if we reckon 7^rf. as 
the average, it will annually amount to III. Ss. Id. 
the year, which will reduce the profit of i2l. 
to about 30/., and so leave a balance of 11/. 8^. Id. 
in favour of the truck or barrow man. 

There are nine or ten places where the street- 
sellers purchase the salt : — Moore's, at Paddington, 
who get their salt by the canal, from Staffordshire; 
Welling's, at Battle-bridge ; Baillie, of Thames- ^ 
street, &c. Great quantities are brought to London 
by the different railways. The street-sellers have 
all regular beats, and seldom intrude on each 
other, though it sometimes happens, especially 
when any quarrel occurs among them, that they 
oppose and undersell one another in order to secure 
the customers. 

During my inquiries on this subject, I visited 
Church-lane, Bloomsbury, to see a street-seller, 
about seven in the evening. Since the alterations 
in St. Giles's, Church-lane has become one of the 
most crowded places in London. The houses, 
none of which are high, are all old, time-blackened, 
and dilapidated, with shattered window-frames 
and broken panes. Stretching across the narrow 
street, from all the upper windows, might be seen 
lines crossing and recrossing each other, on which 
hung yellow-looking shirts, stockings, women's 
caps, and handkerchiefs looking like soiled and 
torn paper, and throwing the whole lane into 
shade. Beneath this ragged canopy, the street 
literally swarmed with human beings — young and 
old, men and women, boys and girls, wandering 
about amidst all kinds of discordant sounds. The 
footpaths on both sides of the narrow street were 
occupied here and there by groups of men and 
boys, some sitting on the flags and others leaning 
against the wall, while their feet, in most instances 
bare, dabbled in the black channel alongside the 
kerb, which being disturbed sent up a sickening 
stench. Some of these groups were playing cards 
for money, which lay on the ground near them. 
Men and women at intervals lay stretched out in 



Bleep on the pathway ; over these the passengers 
■were obliged to jump; in some instances they stood 
on their backs as they stepped over them, and 
then the sleeper languidly raised his head, growled 
out a drowsy oath, and slept again. Three or four 
women, with bloated countenances, blood-shot 
eyes, and the veins of their necks swollen and 
distended till they resembled strong cords, stag- 
gered about violently quarrelling at the top of 
their drunken voices. 

The street salt-seller — whom I had great dif- 
ficulty in finding in such a place — was a man of 
about 50, rather sickly in his look. He wore 
an old cloth cap without a peak, a sort of 
dun-coloured waistcoat, patched and cobbled, a 
strong check shirt, not remarkable for its clean- 
liness, and what seemed to me to be an old pair 
of buckskin breeches, with fragments hanging 
loose about them like fringes. To the covering of 
his feet — I can hardly say shoes— there seemed to 
be neither soles nor uppers. How they kept on 
was a mystery. 

In answer to my questions, he made the follow- 
ing statement, in language not to be anticipated 
from his dress, or the place in which he resided : 
" For many years I lived by the sale of toys, such 
as little chairs, tables, and a variety of other little 
things which I made myself and sold in the 
streets; and I used to make a good deal of money 
by them ; I might have done well, but when a 
man hasn't got a careful partner, it 's of no use 
what he does, he '11 never get on, he may as well 
give it up at once, for the money '11 go out ten 
times as fast as he can bring it in. I hadn't the 
good fortune to have a careful woman, but one 
who, when I wouldn't give her money to waste 
and destroy, took out my property and made 
money of it to drink ; where a bad example like 
that is set, it's sure to be followed; the good 
example is seldom taken, but there 's no fear of 
the bad one. You may want to find out where 
the evil lies, I tell you it lies in that pint pot, and 
in that quart pot, and if it wasn't for so many 
pots and so many pints, there wouldn't be half so 
much misery as there is. I know that from my own 
case. I used to sell toys, but since the foreign 
things were let come over, I couldn't make any- 
thing of them, and was obliged to give them up. 
I was forced to do something for a living, for a 
half loaf is better than no bread at all, so seeing 
two or three selling salt, I took to it myself. I buy 
my salt at Moore's wharf, Paddington ; I consider 
it the purest; I could get salt 3cZ. or 2d. the cwt., 
or even cheaper, but I 'd rather have the best. A 
man 's not ashamed when he knows his articles 
are good. Some buy the cheap salt, of course 
they make more profit. We never sell by 
measure, always by weight ; some of the street 
weights, a good many of them, are slangs, but I 
believe they are as honest as many of the shop- 
keepers after all ; every one does the best he can 
to cheat everj'body else. I go two or three even- 
ings in the week, or as often as I want it, to the 
wharf for a load. I 'm going there to-night, three 
miles out and three miles in. I sell, considering 
everything, about 2 cwt. a day; I sold 1^ to-day. 

but to-morrow (Saturday) I '11 sell 3 or 4 cwt., 
and perhaps more. I pay 2s. the cwt. for it, and 
make about \s. a cwt. profit on that. I sold six- 
pennyworth of mustard to-day; it might bring me 
in 2d. profit, every little makes something. If I 
wasn't so weak and broke down, I wouldn't 
trouble myself with a donkey, it 's so expensive ; 
I 'd easily manage to drive about all I 'd sell, and 
then I 'd save the expense. It costs me Id. or 
8c/. a day to keep him, besides other things. I 
got him a set of shoes yesterday, I said I 'd shoe 
him first and myself afterwards; so you see there's 
other expenses. There 's my son, too, paid oflT the 
other day from the Prince of Wales, after a four 
years' voyage, and he came home without a six- 
pence in his pocket. He might have done some- 
thing for me, but I couldn't expect anything else 
frdm him after the example that was set to him. 
Even now, bad as I am, I wouldn't want for any- 
thing if I had a careful woman ; but she 's a 
shocking drunkard, and I can do nothing with her." 
This poor fellow's mind was so full of his domestic 
troubles that he recurred to them again and again, 
and was more inclined to talk about what so 
nearly concerned himself than on any matter of 

Op the Street-Sellers of Sand. 
Two kinds of sand only are sold in the streets, 
scouring or floor sand, and bird sand for birds. 
In scouring sand the trade is inconsiderable to 
what it was, saw-dust having greatly super- 
seded it in the gin-palace, the tap-room, and the 
butcher's shop. Of the supply of sand, a man, who 
was working at the time on Hampstead-heath, 
gave the following account : — "I 've been employed 
here for five-and-thirty years, under Sir Thomas 
Wilson. Times are greatly changed, sir; we 
used to have from 25 to 30 carts a day hawking 
sand, and taking six or seven men to fill them 
every morning ; besides large quantities which 
went to brass-founders, and for cleaning dentists' 
cutlery, for stone-sawing, lead and silver casting, 
and 5uch like. This heath, sir, contains about 
every kind of sand, but Sir Thomas won't allow 
us to dig it. The greatest number of carts filled 
now is eight or ten a day, which I fill myself. 
Sir Thomas has raised the price from 3s. Qd. 
to 4s. a load, of about 2^ tons. Bless you, 
sir, some years ago, one might go into St. 
Luke's, and sell five or six cart-loads of house- 
sand a week ; now, a man may roar himself 
hoarse, and not sell a load in a fortnight. Saw- 
dust is used in all the public-houses and gin- 
palaces. People 's sprung up who don't use sand 
at all ; and many of the old people are too poor to 
buy it. The men who get sand here now are old 
customers, who carry it all over the town, and 
round HoUoway, Islington, and such parts. Twelve 
year ago I would have taken here QL or 11. in a 
morning, to-day I have only taken 9s. Fine 
weather is greatly against the sale of house-sand ; 
in wet, dirty weather, the sale is greater." 

One street sand-seller gave the following account 
of his calling : — 

" I have been in the sand business, man and 



boy, for 40 yeart. I was at it when I was 12 
years old, and am now 62. I used to have two 
carts hawking sand, but it wouldn't pay, so I have 
just that one you see there. Hawking sand is a 
poor job now. I send two men with that 'ere cart, 
and pay one of 'em St. 4rf. and the other 3^. a day. 
Now, with beer-money, 2s. a week, to the man at 
the heath, and turnpike gates, I reckon every load 
of sand to cost me 5s. Add to that 6s. 4d. for 
the two men, the wear and tear, and horse's keep 
(and, to do a horse justice, you cannot in these 
cheap times keep him at less than 10*. a week, 
in dear seasons, it will cost 15s.), and you will 
find each load of sand stands me in a good sum. 
So suppose we get a guinea a load, you see we 
have no great pull. Then there 's the licence, 8/. 
a year. Many years ago we resisted this, and 
got Mr. Humphreys to defend us before the magis- 
trates at Clerkenwell ; but we were ' cast,' several 
hawkers were fined 10/., and I was brought up 
bef ire old Sir Richard Bimie, at Bow-street, and 
had to find bail that I would not sell another 
bushel of sand till I took out a licence. Soon after 
that Sir Thomas Wilson shut up the heath from 
us ; he said he would not have it cut about any 
more, for that a poor animal could not pick up a 
crumb without being in danger of breaking its 
leg. This was just after we took out our licences, 
and, as we 'd paid dearly for being allowed to 
sell the sand, some of us, and I was one, we waited 
upon Sir Thomas, and asked to be allowed to work 
out our licences, which was granted, and we have 
gone on ever since. My men work very hard 
for their money, sir ; they are up at 3 o'clock 
of the morning, and are knocking about the streets, 
perhaps till 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening." 

The yellow house-sand is also found at Kings- 
land, and at the Kensington Qravel-pits; but at 
the latter place street-sellers are not supplied. 
The sand here is very fine, and mostly disposed 
of to plasterers. There is also some of this kind 
of sand at Wandsworth. In the street-selling of 
house-sand, there are now not above 30 men 
employed, and few of these trade on their own 
account. Reckoning the horses and carts em- 
ployed in the trade at the same price as our 
Camden-towu informant sets on his stock, we have 
20 horses, at 10/. each, and 20 carts, at 3/. each, 
with 3 baskets to each, at 2s. apiece, making 
a total of 236/. of capital employed in the carry- 
ing machinery of the street-selling of sand. Al- 
lowing 'is. a day for each man, the wages would 
amount for 80 men to 27/. weekly ; and the ex- 
penses for horses' keep, at lOs. a head, would 
give, for 20 horses, 10/. weekly, making a total 
of 38/. weekly, or an annual expenditure for man 
and bona of 2496/. Calculating the sale at a load 
per day, for each horse and cart, at 21s. a load, 
we have 6573/. annually expended in the pur- 
diase of house or floor-sand. 

Bird-sand, or the fine and dry sand required 
ibr the us« of cage-birds, is now obtained al- 
together of a market gardener in Hackney. It 
ia told at 8ci. the barrow-load ; as much being 
■kovdlod on to a coster's barrow <'at it will 
cwry." A good««ised barrow holds 8| boaheU; 

a smaller size, 8 bushels, and the buyer is also 
the shoveller. Three-fourths of the quantity con- 
veyed by the street-sellers from Hackney is sold 
to the bird-shop keepers at 6rf. for 3 pecks. The 
remainder is disposed of to such customers as 
purchase it in the street, or is delivered at private 
houses, which receive a regular supply. The 
usual charge to the general public is a halfpenny 
or a penny for sand to fill any vessel brought to 
contain it. A penny a gallon is perhaps an average 
price in this retail trade. 

A man, " in a good way of business," disposes 
of a barrow-load once a week ; the others once a 
fortnight. In wet or windy weather great care 
is necessary, and much trouble incurred in supply- 
ing this sand to the street-sellers, and again in 
their vending it in the streets. The street-vendors 
are the same men as supply the turf, &c., for cage- 
birds, of whom I have treated, p. 156, vol. i. 
They are 40 in number, and although they do not 
all supply sand, a matter beyond the strength of 
the old and infirm, a few costermongers convey a 
barrow-load of sand now and then to the bird- 
sellers, and this addition ensures the weekly sup- 
ply of 40 barrow-loads. Calculating these at the 
wholesale, or bird-dealer's price — 2s, Zd. a barrow 
being an average — we find 234/. yearly expended 
in this sand. What is vended at 2s. 3(/. costs but 
8rf. at the wholesale price ; but the profit is 
hardly earned considering the labour of wheeling 
a heavy barrow of sand for miles, and the trouble 
of keeping over night what is unsold during the 

Op tub Stkeet-Sellers of Suells. 
The street-trade in shells presents the characteris- 
tics I have before had to notice as reganis the 
trade in what are not necessaries, or an approach 
to necessaries, in contradistinction of what men 
must have to eat or wear. Shells, such as the 
green snail, ear shell, and others of that class, 
though extensively used for inhiying in a variety 
of ornamental works, are comparatively of little 
value ; for no matter how useful, if shells are only 
well known, they are considered of but little im- 
portance; while those which are rarely seen, no 
matter how insignificant in appearance, command 
extraordinary prices. As an instance I may 
mention that on the 23rd of June there was pur- 
chased by Mr. Sowerby, shell-dealer, at a public 
sale in King-street, Covent-garden, a small shell 
not two inches long, broken and damaged, and 
withal what is called a " dead shell," for the sum 
of 30 guineas. It was described as the Conut 
Olory Mary, and had it only been perfect would 
have fetched 100 guineas. 

Shells, such as conches, cowries, preen snails, 
and ear shells (the latter being so called from their 
resemblance to the human ear), are imported in 
large quantities, as parts of cargoes, and are sold 
to the large dealers by weight. Conch shells are 
sold at 8i. per cwt ; cowries and clams from 1 0*. 
to \2s. per cwt ; the green snail, used for inlaying, 
fetches from 1/. to 1/. 10*. per cwt. ; and the ear 
shell, on account of iu superior quality and richer 
variety of coloum, at much at 3/. and HI. per cwt. 



The conches are found only among the "West India 
Islands, and are used principally for garden orna- 
ments and grotto-work. The others come prin- 
cipally from the Indian Ocean and the China seas, 
and are used as well for chimney ornaments, as 
for inlaying, for the tops of work-tables and other 
ornamental furniture. 

The shells which are considered of the most 
value are almost invariably small, and of an end- 
less variety of shape. They are called ** cabinet" 
shells,, and are brought from all parts of the world 
— land as well as sea — lakes, rivers, and oceans 
furnishing specimens to the collection. The Austra- 
lian forests are continually ransacked to bring 
to light new varieties. I have been informed 
that there is not a river in England but contains 
valuable shells; that even in the Thames there 
are shells worth from 10s. to 1^. each. I have 
been shown a shell of the snail kind, found in 
the woods of New Holland, and purchased by 
a dealer for 21., and on Avhich he confidently 
reckoned to make a considerable profit. 

Although " cabinet " shells are collected from 
all parts, yet by far the greater number come 
from the Indian Ocean. They are generally col- 
lected by the natives, who sell them to captains 
and mates of vessels trading to those parts, and 
very often to sailors, all of whom frequently 
speculate to a considerable extent in these things, 
and have no difficulty in disposing of them as 
soon as they arrive in this country, for there is 
not a shell dealer in London who has not a regular 
staff of persons stationed at Gravesend to board 
the homeward-bound ships at the Nore, and some- 
times as far off as the Downs, for the purpose of 
purchasing shells. It usually happens that when 
three or four of these persons meet on board the 
same ship, an animated competition takes place, so 
that the shells on board are generally bought up long 
before the ship arrives at London. Many persons 
from this country go out to various parts of the 
world for the sole purpose of procuring shells, 
and they may be found from the western coast of 
Africa to the shores of New South Wales, along 
the Persian Gulf, in Ceylon, the Malaccas, 
China, and the Islands of the Pacific, where they 
employ the natives in dredging the bed of the 
ocean, and are by this means continually adding 
to the almost innumerable varieties which are 
already known. 

To show the extraordinary request in which 
shells are held in almost every place, while I was 
in the shop of Mr. J. C. Jamrach, naturalist, and 
agent to the Zoological Society at Amsterdam — one 
of the largest dealers in London, and to whom I 
am indebted for much valuable information on 
this subject — a person, a native of High 
Germany, was present. He had arrived in Lon- 
don the day before, and had purchased on that 
day a collection of shells of a low quality for 
which he paid Mr. Jamrach 36Z. ; to this he 
added a few birds. Placing his purchase in a box 
furnished with a leather strap, he slung it over 
his shoulder, shook hands with Mr. Jamrach, and 
departed. Mr. Jamrach informed me that the next 
morning he was to start by steam for Eotterdam, 

then continue his journey up the Rhine to a cer- 
tain point, from whence he was to travel on foot 
from one place to another, till he could dispose of 
his commodities ; after which he would return to 
London, as the great mart for a fresh supply. He 
was only a very poor man, but there are a great 
many others far better off, continually coming back- 
wards and forwards, who are able to purchase a 
larger stock of shells and birds, and who, in the 
course of their peregrinations, wander through the 
greater part of Germany, extending their excur- 
sions sometimes through Austria, the Tyrol, and 
the north of Italy. A visit to the premises of 
Mr. Jamrach, Ratcliff-highway, or Mr. Samuel, 
Upper East Smith field, would well repay the 
curious observer. The front portion of Mr. Jam- 
rach's house is taken up with a wonderful variety 
of strange birds that keep up an everlasting 
screaming ; in another portion of the house are 
collected confusedly together heaps of nondescript 
articles, which might appear to the uninitiated 
worth little or nothing, but on which the possessor 
places great value. In a yard behind the house, 
immured in iron cages, are some of the larger 
species of birds, and some beautiful varieties of 
foreign animals — while in large presses ranged 
round the other rooms, and furnished with nu- 
merous drawers, are placed his real valuables, the 
cabinet shells. The establishment of Mr. Samuel 
is equally curious. 

In London, the dealers in shells, keeping shops 
for the sale of them, amount to no more than 
ten ; they are all doing a large business, and are 
men of good capital, which may be proved by the 
following quotation from the day-books of one of 
the class for the present year, viz. : — 

Shells sold in February . . . £275 

Ditto, ditto, March 471 

Ditto, ditto, April 1389 

Ditto, ditto. May 475 

Total £2610 

Profit on same, February . . . £75 12 

Ditto, ditto, March 140 

Ditto, ditto, April 323 

Ditto, ditto, May 127 

Total £665 12 

Besides these there are about 20 private 
dealers who do not keep shops, but who never- 
theless do a considerable business in this line 
among persons at the West End of London. All 
shell dealers add to that occupation the sale of 
foreign birds and curiosities. 

There is yet another class of persons who seem 
to be engaged in the sale of shells, but it is only 
seeming. They are dressed as sailors, and appear 
at all times to have just come ashore after a long 
voyage, as a man usually follows them with that 
sort of canvas bag in use among sailors, in which 
they stow away their clothes; the men themselves 
go on before carrying a parrot or some rare bird in 
one hand, and in the other a large shell. These 
men are the "duffers" of whom I have spoken 



in my account of the sale of foreign birds. They 
make shells a more frequent mediuna for the in- 
troduction of their real avocation, as a shell is 
a far less troublesome thing either to hawk or 
keep by them than a parrot. 

I now give a description of these men, as general 
duffers, and from good authority. 

" They are known by jthe name of * duffei's,' and 
have an exceedingly cunning mode of transacting 
their business. They are all united in some secret 
bond ; they have persons also bound to them, 
who are skilled in making shawls in imitation of 
those imported from China, and who, according to 
the terms of their agreement, must not work for 
any other persons. The duffers, from time to time, 
furnish these persons with designs for shawls, such 
as caimot be got in this country, which, when 
completed, they (the duffers) conceal about their 
persons, and start forward on their travels. They 
contrive to gain admission to respectable houses 
by means of shells and sometimes of birds, which 
they purchase from the regular dealers, but always 
those of a low quality ; after which they con- 
trive to introduce the shawls, their real business, 
for which they sometimes have realized prices 
varying from 51. to 20/. In many instances, the 
cheat is soon discovered, when the duffers imme- 
diately decamp, to make place for a fresh batch, 
who have been long enough out of London to 
make their faces unknown to their former victims. 
These remain till they also find danger threaten 
them, when they again start away, and others 
immediately take their place. While away from 
London, they travel through all parts of the 
country, driving a good trade among the coun* 
try gentlemen's houses; and sometimes visiting 
the seaports, such as Liverpool, Portsmouth, and 

An instance of the skill with which the duffers 
sometimes do business, is the following. One of 
these persons some time ago came into the shop of 
a shell dealer, having with him a beautiful speci- 
men of a three-coloured cockatoo, for which he 
asked 10/. The shell dealer declined the purchase 
at that price, saying, that he sold these birds at il. 
a piece, but offered to give 3/. lOj. for it, which 
was at once accepted ; while pocketing the money, 
the man remarked that he had paid ten guineas 
for that bird. The shell dealer, surprised that so 
good a judge should be induced to give so much 
more than the value of the bird, was desirous of 
bearing further, when the duffer made this stitc- 
ment : — ** I went the other day to a gentleman's 
house, he was an old officer, where I saw this 
bird, and, in order to get introduced, I offered to 
ptircbase it. The gentleman said he knew it was 
a valuable bird, and couldn't think of taking less 
than ten guineas. I then offered to barter for it, 
and produced a abawl, for which I asked twenty- 
fire guineas, but offered to take fifteen guineas 
and the bird. This was at length agreed to, and 
DOW, having sold it for 3/. 10^., it makes 19/. Bs. 
I got for the shawl, and not a bad day's work 

Of shells there are about a million of the eom> 
moner aorU bought by the London ftreet-tellert at 

Zs. 'the gross. They are retailed at Id. apiece, 
or I2s. the gross, when sold separately ; a large 
proportion, as is the case with many articles of 
taste or curiosity rather than of usefulness, being 
sold by the London street-folk on country rounds ; 
some of these rounds stretch half-way to Bristol 
or to Liverpool. 

Op tue River Beer-Sellers, or Purl-Men. 
There is yet another class of itinerant dealers 
who, if not traders in the streets, are traders in 
what was once termed the silent highway — the 
river beer-sellers, or purl-men, as they are more 
commonly called. These should strictly have been 
included among the sellers of eatables and drink- 
ables ; they have, however, been kept distinct, 
being a peculiar class, and having little in common 
with the other out-door sellers. 

I will begin my account of the river-sellers by 
enumerating the numerous classes of labourers, 
amounting to many thousands, who get their 
living by plying their respective avocations on the 
river, and who constitute the customers of these 
men. There are first the sailors on board the 
com, coal, and timber ships ; then the " lumpers," 
or those engaged in discharging the timber ships ; 
the " stevedores," or those engaged in stowing 
craft ; and the " riggers," or those engaged in 
rigging them; ballast- heavers, ballast-getters, corn- 
porters, coal-whippers, watermen and lightermen, 
and coal-porters, who, although engaged in carrying 
sacks of coal from the barges or ships at the river's 
side to the shore, where there are public-houses, 
nevertheless, when hard worked and pressed for 
time, frequently avail themselves of the presence 
of the purl-man to quench their thirst, and to 
naval stimulate them to further exertion. 

It would be a remarkable circumstance if the 
fact of so many persons continually employed in 
severe labour, and who, of course, are at times in 
want of refreshment, had not called into existence 
a class to supply that which was evidently re- 
quired ; under one form or the otlier, therefore, 
river-dealers boast of an antiquity as old as the 
navel commerce of the country. 

The prototype of the river bcer-seller of the 
present day is the bumboat-man. Bumboats (or 
rather ^auwi-boats, that is to say, the boats of the 
harbour, from the German Daum, a haven or bar) 
are known in every port where ships are obliged to 
anchor at a distance from the shore. They are 
stored with a large assortment of articles, such as are 
likely to be required by people after a long voyage. 
Previously to the fornmtion of the various dock* 
on the Thames, they were very numerous on the 
river, and drove a good trade with the homeward- 
bound shipping. But since the docks came into 
requisition, and steam-tugs brought the ship* 
from the mouth of the river to the dock entrance, 
their business died away, and they gradually dji« 
appeared ; so that a bumboat on the Thames at 
the present day would be a sort of curiosity, a 
relic of times past. 

In former times it was not in the power of any 
person who chose to follow the calling of a bum* 
boat nuui on the Thamef. The Trinity Com* 



pany had the power of granting licences for this 
purpose. Whether they were restrained by some 
special clause in their charter, or not, from giving 
licences indiscriminately, it is difficult to say. 
But it is certain that none got a licence but a 
sailor — one who had "served his country;" and 
it was quite common in those days to see an old 
fellow with a pair of wooden legs, perhaps blind 
of an eye, or wanting an arm, and witli a face 
rugged as a rock, plying about among the shipping, 
accompanied by a boy whose duty it was to carry 
the articles to the purchasers on shipboard, and 
help in the management of the boat. In the 
first or second year of the reign of her present 
Majesty, however, when the original bumboat- 
men had long degenerated into the mere beer- 
sellers, and any one who wished traded in this line 
on the river (the Trinity Company having for many 
years paid no attention to the matter), an inquirj' 
took place, which resulted in a regulation that 
all the beer-sellers or purl-men should thence- 
forward be regularly licensed for the river-sale of 
beer and spirits from the \Vaterman's Hall, which 
regulation is in force to the present time. 

It appears to have been the pr.ictice at some 
time or other in this country to infuse wormwood ^ 
into beer or ale previous to drinking it, either to 
make it sufficiently bitter, or for some medicinal 
purpose. This mixture was called inirl — why I 
know not, but Bailey, the philologist of the 
seventeenth centurj'^, so designates it. The drink 
originally sold on the river was purl, or this 
mixture, whence the title, purl-man. Now, how- 
ever, the wormwood is unknown ; and what is 
sold under the name of purl is beer warmed nearly 
to boiling heat, and flavoured with gin, sugar, 
and ginger. The river-sellers, however, still retain 
the name, of ^jwrZ-men, though there is not one of 
them with whom I have conversed that has the 
remotest idea of the meaning of it. 

To set up as a purl-man, some acquaintance 
with the river, and a certain degree of skill in 
the management of a boat, are absolutely neces- 
sary ; as, from the frequently-crowded state of the 
pool, and the rapidity with which the steamers 
pass and repass, twisting and wriggling their way 
through craft of every description, the unskilful 
adventurer would run in continual danger of 
having his boat crushed like a nutshell. The 
purl-men, however, through long practice, are 
scarcely inferior to the watermen themselves in 
the management of their boats ; and they may be 
seen at all times easily working their way through 
every obstruction, now shooting athwart the bows 
of a Dutch galliot or sailing-barge, then dropping 
astern to allow a steam-boat to pass till they at 
length reach the less troubled waters between the 
tiers of shipping. 

The first thingrequired to becomea purl-man is to 
procure a licence from the Waterman's Hall, which 
costs 35. Qd. per annum. The next requisite is 
the possession of a boat. The boats used are all 
in the form of skiffs, rather short, but of a good 
breadth, and therefore less liable to capsize through 
the swell of the steauiers, or through any other 
cause. Thus equipped he then goes to some of the 

small breweries, where he getg two "pins," or 
small casks of beer, each containing eighteen pots; 
after this he furnishes himself with a quart or two 
of gin from some publican, which he carries in 
a tin vessel with a long neck, like a bottle — an 
iron or tin vessel to hold the fire, with holes drilled 
all round to admit the air and keep the fuel burn- 
ing, and a huge bell, by no means the least im- 
portant portion of his fit out. Placing his two 
pins of beer on a frame in the stern of the boat, 
the spiles loosened and the brass cocks fitted in, 
and with his tin gin bottle close to his hand be- 
neath the seat, two or three measures of various 
sizes, a black tin pot for heating the beer, and his 
fire pan secured on the bottom of the boat, and 
sending up a black smoke, he takes his seat early 
in the morning and pulls away from the shore, 
resting now and then on his oars, to ring the 
heavy bell that announces his approach. Those 
on board the vessels requiring refreshment, when 
they hear the bell, hail "Purl ahoy;" in an instant 
the oars are resumed, and the purl-man is quickly 
alongside the ship. 

The bell of the purl-man not unfrequently per- 
forms another very important office. During the 
winter, when dense fogs settle down on the river, 
even the regular watermen sometimes lose them- 
selves, and flounder about bewildered perhaps for 
hours. The direction once lost, their shouting is 
unheeded or imheard. The purl-man's bell, how- 
ever, reaches the ear through the siirroimding 
gloom, and indicates his position ; when near 
enough to hear the hail of his customers, he makes 
his way unerringly to the spot by now and then 
sounding his bell ; this is immediately answered 
by another shout, so that in a short time the glare 
of his fire may be distinguished as he emerges 
from the darkness, and glides noiselessly alongside 
the ship where he is wanted. 

The amount of capital necessary to start in the 
purl line may be as follows : — I have said that the 
boats are all of the skiif kind — generally old ones, 
which they patch up and repair at but little cost. 
They purchase these boats at from 3/. to 6/. each. 
If we take the average of these two sums, the 
items will be — • 

£ s. 


Boat . 

4 10 

Pewter measures . 





Fire stove . 


Gallon can . 



Two pins of beer . 


Quart of gin 



Sugar and ginger . 





Total £5 19 

Thus it requires, at the very least, a capital of 
61. to set up as a purl-man. 

Since the Waterman's Hall has had the granting 
of licences, there have been upwards of 140 
issued ; but out of the possessors of these many are 
dead, some have left for other business, and others 
are too old and feeble to follow the occupation 



any longer, bo that out of the whole number 
there remain only 35 purl-men on the river, 
and these are thus divided : — 23 ply their 
trade in what is called "the pool," that is, from 
Execution Dock to RatcliflF Cross, among the 
coal-laden ships, and do a tolerable business 
amongst the sailors and the hard-working and 
thirsty coal-whippers ; 8 purl-men follow their 
calling from Execution Dock to London Bridge, 
and sell their commodity among the ships loaded 
with com, potatoes, &c. ; and 4 are known to fre- 
quent the various reaches below Limehouse Hole, 
where the colliers are obliged to lie at times in 
sections, waiting till they are sold on the Coal 
Exchange, and some even go down the river as 
far as the ballast-lighters of the Trinity Company, 
for the purpose of supplying the ballast getters. 
The purl-men cannot^sell much to the unfortunate 
ballast- heavers, for they are suffering under all 
the horrors of an abominable truck system, and 
are compelled to take from the publicans about 
Wnpping and Shad well, who ai-e their employers, 
large quantities of filthy stuff compounded espe- 
cially for their use, for which they are charged 
exorbitant prices, being thus and in a variety of 
other ways mercilessly robbed of their earnings, so 
that they and their families are left in a state of 
almost utter destitution. One of the purl men, 
whose boat is No. 44, has hoops like those used 
by gipsies for pitching their tents; these he fastens 
to each side of the boat, over which he draws a 
tarred canvas covering, water-proof, and beneath 
this he sleeps the greater part of the year, seldom 
going ashore except for the purpose of getting a 
fresh supply of liquors for trade, or food for himself. 
He generally casts anchor in some unfrequented 
nook down the river, where he enjoys all the quiet 
of 8 Thames hermit, after the labour of the day. 
To obtain the necessary heat during the winter, he 
fits a funnel to his fire-stove to carry away the 
smoke, and thus warmed he sleeps away in defiance 
of the severest weather. 

It appears from the facts above given that 210/. 
is the gross amount of capital employed in this 
business. On an average all the year round 
each purl-man sells two "pins" of beer weekly, 
independent of gin ; but little gin is thus sold 
in the summer, but in the winter a considerable 
quantity of it is used in making the purl. The 
men purchase the beer at 4*. per pin, and sell it 
at id. per pot, which leaves them a profit of As. on 
the two pins, and, allowing them 6(/. per day profit 
on the gin, it gives 1/. Is. per week profit to each, 
or a total to all hands of ill. 5«. per week, and a 
gross total of 2457/. profit made on the sale of 
98,280 gallons of beer, beside gin sold on the 
Thames in the course of the year. From this 
amount must be deducted 818/. 10«., which is 
paid to boys, at the rate of Zs. 6(/. per week ; it 
being necessary for each purlman to employ a 
lad to take care of the boat while he is on board 
the ships senring bis customers, or traversing the 
tiers. This deduction being made leaves 61/. 2s. 
per annum to each purl- man as the profit on his 
year's trading. 

The present race of porl-men, unlike the 

weather-beaten tars who in former times alone 
were licensed, are generally young men, who 
have been in the habit of following some river 
employment, and who, either from some accident 
having befallen them in the course of their work, 
or from their preferring the easier task of sitting 
in their boat and rowing leisurely about to con- 
tinuous labour, have started in the line, and ulti- 
mately superseded the old river dealers. This is 
easily explained. No man labouring on the river 
would purchase from a stranger when he knew 
that his own fellow-workman was afloat, and was 
prepared to serve him with as good an article; 
besides he might not have money, and a stranger 
could not be expected to give trust, but his old 
acquaintance would make little scruple in doing so. 
In this way the customers of the purl-men are 
secured ; and many of these people do so much 
more than the average amount of business above 
stated, that it is no unusual thing to see some 
of them, after four or five years on the river, 
take a public-house, spring up into the rank of 
licensed victuallers, and finally become men of 

I conversed with one who had been a coal- 
whipper. He stated that he had met with an 
accident while at work which prevented hun from 
following coal-whipping any longer. He had fallen 
from the ship's side into a barge, and was for a long 
time in the hospital. When he came out he found 
he could not work, and had no other prospect 
before him but the union. " I thought I 'd 
be by this time toes up in Stepney churchyard," 
he said, "and grinning at the lid of an old coffin." 
In this extremity a neighbour, a waterman, who 
had long known him, advised him to take to the 
purl business, and gave him not only the advice, 
but sufficient money to enable him to put it in 
practice. The man accordingly got a boat, and 
was soon afloat among his old workmates. In 
this line he now makes out a living for himself 
and his family, and reckons himself able to clear, 
one week with the other, from 18*. to 20». " I 
should do much better," he Siiid, " if people 
would only pay what they owe ; but 'there are 
some who never think of paying anything." He 
has between 10/. and 20/. due to him, and 
never expects to get a farthing of it. 

The following is the form of licence issued by 
the Watermen's Company : — 



Height 5 fteet 8\ I hereby certify that 
inche», 30 years - •' ' 

of age, dark 
half, Milow com- 

2nd <k 3rd Vic. 
csp. 47, sec. 25. 

, in the parish of 
in the county of Middle* 
sex, is this day registered in a 
__^ ^ book of the Company of the Mas- 
ter,' Wardens, and Commonalty of Watermen and 
Lightermen of the river Thames, kept for that 
purpose, to use, work, or navigate a boat called 
a skiff, named , number , 

for the purpose of selling, disposing of, or exposing 
for sale to and amongst the seamen, or other per- 



sons employed in and about any of the ships or 
vessels upon the said river, any liquors, slops, or 
other articles whatsoever, between London Bridge 
and Limehouse Hole ; but the said boat is not to 
be used on the said river for any other purpose 
than the aforesaid. 

Waterman's Hall, 

Jas. Banton, Clerh 

Beside the regular purl-men, or, as they may be 
called, bnmboat-men, there are two or three others 
who, perhaps unable to purchase a boat, and take 
out the licence, have nevertheless for a number of 
years contrived to carry on a traffic in spirits 
among the ships in the Thames. Their practice is 
to carry a flat tin bottle concealed about their per- 
son, with which they go on board the first ship in 
a tier, where they are well known by those who 
may be there employed. If the seamen wish for 
any spirit the river-vendor immediately supplies 
it, entering the name of the customers served, as 
none of the vendors ever receive, at the time of sale, 
any money for what they dispose of; they keep 
an account till their customers receive their wages, 
when they always contrive to be present, and in 
general succeed in getting what is owing to them. 
What their profits are it is impossible to tell, 
perhaps they may equal those of the regular purl- 
man, for they go on board of almost every ship 
in the course of the day. When their tin bottle 
is empty they go on shore to replenish it, doing so 
time after time if necessary. 

It is remarkable that although these people are 
perfectly well known to every purl-man on the 
river, who have seen them day by day, for many 
years going on board the various ships, and are 

thoroughly cognizant of the purpose of their visits, 
there has never been any information laid against 
them, nor have they been in any way interrupted 
in their* business. 

There is one of these river spirit-sellers who 
has pursued the avocation for the greater part of 
his life ; he is a native of the south of Ireland, 
now very old, and a little shrivelled-up man. 
He may still be seen every day, going from ship 
to ship by scrambling over the quarters where 
they are lashed together in tiers — a feat sometimes 
attended with danger to the young and strong; 
yet he works his way with the agility of a man 
of 20, gets on board the ship he wants, and 
when there, Avere he not so well known, he 
might be thought to be some official sent to take 
an' inventory of the contents of the ship, for he 
has at all times an ink-bottle hanging from one of 
his coat buttons, a pen stuck over his ear, spec- 
tacles on his nose, a book in his hand, and really 
has all the appearance of a man determined on doing 
business of some sort or other. He possesses a sort 
of ubiquity, for go where you will through any part 
of the pool you are sure to meet him. He seems 
to be expected everywhere ; no one appears to be 
surprised at his presence. Captains and mates 
pass him by unnoticed and unquestioned. As sud- 
denly as he comes does he disappear, to start up in 
some other place. His visits are so regular, that 
it would scarcely look like being on board ship if 

" old D , the whiskey man," as he is called, 

did not make his appearance some time during the 
day, for he seems to be in some strange way 
identified with the river, and with every ship that 
frequents it. 


The hawkers of second-hand articles, live animals, 
mineral productions, and natural curiosities, form, 
as we have seen, large important classes of the 
street-sellers. According to the facts already given, 
there appear to be at present in the streets, 90 sel- 
lers of metal wares, including the sellers of second- 
hand trays and Italian-irons ; 30 sellers of old 
linen, as wrappers and towelling ; 80 vendors of 
second-hand (burnt) linen and calico ; 30 sellers of 
curtains ; 30 sellers of carpeting, &c. ; 30 sellers 
of bed-ticking, &c. ; 6 sellers of old crockery and 
glass ; 25 sellers of old musical instruments ; 6 
vendors of second-hand weapons ; 6 sellers of old 
curiosities ; 6 vendors of telescopes and pocket 
glasses; 30 to 40 sellers of other miscellaneous 
second-hand articles; 100 sellers of men's second- 
hand clothes ; 30 sellers of old boots and shoes ; 
15 vendors of old hats ; 50 sellers of women's 
second-hand apparel ; 30 vendors of second-hand 
bonnets, and 10 sellers of old furs; 116 sellers of 
second-hand articles at Smithfield-market ; — 
making altogether 725 street-sellers of second- 
hand commodities. 

But some of the above trades are of a tem- 

porary character only, as in the case of the ven- 
dors of old linen towelling or wrappers, carpets, 
bed-ticking, &c. — the same persons who sell the 
one often selling the others ; the towels and 
wrappers, moreover, are offered for sale only on 
the Monday and Saturday nights. Assuming, 
then, that upwards of 100 or one-sixth of the 
above number sell two different second-hand 
articles, or are not continually employed at that 
department of street-traffic, we find the total num- 
ber of street-sellers belonging to this class to be 
about 500. 

Concerning the mimber selling live animals in 
the streets, there are 50 men vending fancy and 
sporting dogs ; 200 sellers and " duffers " of 
English birds ; 10 sellers of parrots and other 
foreign birds ; 3 sellers of birds'-nests, &c. ; 20 
vendors of squirrels ; 6 sellers of leverets and 
wild rabbits ; 35 vendors of gold and silver fish ; 
20 vendors of tortoises; and 14 sellers of snails, 
frogs, worms, &c. ; or, allowing for the temporary 
and mixed character of many of these trades, we 
may say that there are 200 constantly engaged 
in this branch of street-commerce. 



Then of the street-sellers of mineral productions 1 
and natural curiosities, there are 216 vendors of I 
coals; 1500 sellers of coke; 14 sellers of tan- 
turf; 150 vendors of salt; 70 sellers of sand; 
26 sellers of shells; or 1969 in all. From this j 
number the sellers of shells must be deducted, ns 
the shell-trade is not a special branch of street- 
traffic. We may, therefore, assert that the number 
of people engaged in this latter class of street- 
business amounts to about 1900. 

Now, adding all these suras together, we have 
the following table as to the numbers of indivi- 
duals comprised in the, /iJ-5< division of the London 
street-folk, viz. the street-sellers : — 

1. Costermongers (including men, 
women, and children engaged in the 
sale of fish, fruit, vegetables, game, 
poultry, flowers, &c.) 80,000 

2. Street-sellers of "green stuflF," 
including water-cresses, chickweed 

and gra'n'sel, turf, &c 2,000 

3. Street-sellers of eatables and 
drinkables 4,000 

4. Street-sellers of stationery, lite- 
rature, and fine arts 1,000 

5. Street-sellers of manufactured 
articles of meul, crockery, glass, tex- 
tile, chemical, and miscellaneous sub- 
•tances 4,000 

6. Street-sellers of second-hand 
articles, including the sellers of old 
metal articles, old glass, old linen, old 
clothes, old shoes, &c 500 

7. Street-sellers of live animals, as 
dogs, birds, gold and silver fish, squir- 
rels, leverets, tortoises, snails, &c. . 200 

8. Street-sellers of mineral produc- 
tions and natural curiosities, as coals, 

coke, tan-turf, salt, sand, shells, &c. 1,900 

Total Number of Street-Sellers 43,640 

These numbers, it should be remembered, are 
given rather as an approximation to the truth 
than as the absolute fact. It would therefore be 
safer to say, making all due allowance for the 
temporary and mixid character of many branches 
of street-commerce, that there are about 40,000 
people engaged in selling articles in the streets of 
London. I am induced to believe that this is 
very near the real number of street-sellers, from 
the w/toUtaU returns of the places where the 
street-sellers purchase their goods, and which I 
have always made a point of collecting from the 
best authorities connected with the various 
branches of street-traffic. The statistics of the 
fish and green markets, the swag-shops, the 
old clothes exchange, the bird-dealers, which I 
have caused to be collected for the first time 
in this country, all tend to corroborate this esti- 

The next iJoct to be evolved is the amount of 
capital invested in the street-sale of Second-hand 
Articles, of Live Animals, and of Mineral Produc- 
tions. And, first, as to the money employed in 
the Second-hand Street-Trade. 

The following tables will show the amount of 
capital invested in this branch of street-business. 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Metal Wares. 

30 stalls, 5s. each ; 20 barrows, 1^. £ s. d. 
each ; stock-money for 50 vendors, at 

105. per head 52 10 

Street- Sellei's of Second-hand Metal Trays. 

Stock-money for 20 sellers, at 5s. 

each 500 

Street-Sellers of othei' Second-hand Metal Articles, 
cu Italian and Flat Irons. 

Stock-money for 20 vendors, at 5s. 
each; 20 stalls, at 35. each. ... 800 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Linen, ike. 
Stock-money for 30 vendors, at 5s. 
per head 7 10 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand i^umt) Linen and 

Stock-money for 80 vendors, at 10*. 
each 40 

Street- Sellers of Second-hand Curtains. 

Stock-money for 30 sellers, at 5s. 
each 7 10 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Carpeting, Flannels, 
Stocking-legs, ^c. 

Stock-money for 30 sellers, at 6s. 
each 900 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Bed-ticking, 
Sacking, Fringe, ^c. 
Stock-money for 30 sellers, at 4^. 

each 600 

Street- Sellers of Second-hand Glass and Crockery. 

6 barrows, 15*. each ; 6 baskets, 
\s. %d. each ; stock-money for 6 ven- 
dors, at 55. each 6 9 

Street-Selleis of Second-hand Miscellaneous 

Stock-money for 5 vendors, at 155. 

each 3 15 

Street-Sellers and Duffers qf Second-hand Music. 

Stock-money for 25 sellers, at 1^ 

each 25 

Street-Sellers of Secondhand Weapons. 

Stock-money for 6 vendors, at 1/. 

each 600 

Street-Sellers qf Second-hand Curiosities. 

6 barrows, 155. each; stock-money 
for 6 vendors, at 155. per head . . 9 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Telescopes and 
Pocket- Glasses. 

Stock-money for 6 vendors, at 4/. 
each . . 24 

Street-Sellers of other Miscellaneous Articles. 

80 stalls, 55. each ; stock-money for 
80 sellers, at 15*. each 80 

Q 8 


Street-Sell&rs qf MeiCs Second-hand Clothes. 
100 linen bags, at 25. each ; stock- £ s. d. 
money for 100 sellers, at 153. each . 85 
Street-Sellers of Second-hand Boots and Shoes. 
10 stalls, at 35. each ; 30 baskets, at 
2s. 6d. each; stock- money for 30 
seUers, at 10*. each 20 5 

Street-Sellers of Secondhand Hats. 

30 irons,two to each man, at 25. each; 
60 blocks, at Is. Qd. per block; stock- 
money for 15 vendors, at IO5. each . 15 

Street-Sellers of Women's Second-hand Apparel. 

Stock-money for 50 sellers, at 10*. 
each ; 60 baskets, at 25. 6d. each . 31 5 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Bonnets. 

10 umbrellas, at 3s. each ; 30 bas- 
kets, at 2s. 6d. each ; stock-money 
for 30 sellers, at 55. each . . . . 12 15 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Furs. 

Stock-money for 10 vendors, at 
7s. 6d. each. 3 15 

Street- Sellers of Second-hand Articles in 
Synithfield- market. 

30 sellers of harness sets and "col- 
lars, at an average capital of 155. each ; 
6 sellers of saddles and pads, at 155. 
each ; 10 sellers of bits, at 35. each ; 6 
sellers of wheel-springs and trays, at 
155. each ; 6 sellers of boards and 
trestles for stalls, at IO5. each ; 20 
sellers of barrows, small carts, and 
trucks, at 51. each ; 6 sellers of goat 
carriages, at 3^. each ; 6 sellers of 
shooting galleries and guns for ditto, 
and drums for costers, at 155. each ; 
10 sellers of measures, weights, and 
scales, at 255. each ; 5 sellers of po- 
tato cans and roasted-chestnut appa- 
ratus, at 5/. each ; 3 sellers of ginger- 
beer trucks, at 61. each ; 6 sellers of 
pea-soup cans and pickled-eel kettles, 
155. each ; 2 sellers of elder-wine 
vessels, at 155. each. Thus we find 
that the average number of street- 
sellers frequenting Smithfield-market 
once a week is 116, and the average 
capital 217 

Total aitount of Capital be- 


Second-hand Articles ... . 621 14 

Steebt-Sbllers'of Live Animals. 
Street-Sellers of Dogs. 

Stock-money for 20 sellers (in- 
cluding kennels and keep), at 5^. 155. 
each seller . 115 

Slreet-Sellei's and Duffers of Birds {English). 

2400 small cages (reckoning 12 to 

each seller), at Qd. each ; 1200 long £ s. d. 
cages (allowing 6 cages to each seller), 
at 25. each ; 1800 large cages (avera- 
ging 9 cages to each seller), at 2s. 6d. 
each. Stock-money for 200 sellers, at 
2O5. each 605 

Street-Sellers of Parrots, d'C. 

20 cages, at IO5. each; stock- 
money for 10 sellers, at 305. each . 25 

Street-Sellers of Birds'-Nests. 

3 hamper baskets, at 6d. each . . 16 

Street-Sellers of Squirrels. 

Stock-money for 20 vendors, at IO5. 
each 10 

Street- Sellers of Leverets, Wild Rabbits, d'c. 

6 baskets, at 25. each ; stock-money 
for 6 vendors, at 55. each .... 220 

Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Pish. 

35 glass globes, at 25. each; 35 
small nets, at 6d. each ; stock-money 
for 35 vendors, at 155. each ... 30 12 6 

Street-Sellers of Tortoises. 

Stock-money for 20 vendors, at IO5. 
each 25 

Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, Worms, Snakes, 
Hedgehogs, cf;c. 

14 baskets, at I5. each .... 14 

Total amount of Capital be- 
LONGiNO to Street-Sellers of Live 
Animals 798 10 

Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and 
Natural Curiosities. 

Street- Sellers of Coals. 

30 two-horse vans, at 701. each ; 100 
horses, at 20^. each ; 100 carts, at 10^. 
each ; 160 horses, at 10/. each ; 20 
donkey or pony carts, at 1/. each ; 20 
donkeys or ponies, at 1^ IO5. each; 
210 sets of weights and scales, at 
1/. IO5. each; stock-money for 210 
vendors, at 21. each 7,485 

Street-Sellers of Coke. 

100 vans, at 70/. each ; 100 horses, 
at 20/. each ; 300 carts, at 10/. each; 
300 horses, at 10/. each; 500 donkey- 
carts, at 1/. each ; 500 donkeys, at 1/. 
each ; 200 trucks and barrows, at IO5. 
each ; 4800 sacks for the 100 vans, at 
35. 6d. each ; 3600 sacks for the 300 
carts ; 3000 sacks for the 500 don- 
key carts ; 1652 sacks for the 550 
trucks and barrows ; 300 sacks for 
the 50 women; stock-money for 1500 
vendors, at 11. per head . . . 19,936 12 

Street-Sellers of Tan- Turf. 

12 donkeys and carts, at 21. each ; 



2 trucks, at 155. each ; stock-money £ t. d. 
for 14 vendors, at lOj. each ... 82 10 

Strtet-Selleri of Salt. 
75 donkeys and carts, at 21. 5s. 
each ; 75 barrows, at 10^. each ; 
stock-money for 150 vendors, at 6*. 
each 251 5 

Street-Sellers of Sand. 
20 horsefl, at 10/. each ; 20 carts, 
at 3/. each ; 60 Wskets, at 2s. each ; 
wages of 30 men, at Zs. per day for 
each ; expenses fur keep of 20 horses, 
at 10s. per head ; estimated stock- 
money for 30 sellers, at 5s. each ; 40 
barrows, at 15s. each ; stock-money 
for the barrow-men, at Is. 6d. each . 320 5 

Street-Sellers of Shells. 
Stock-money for 70 vendors, at 5*. 
each 17 10 

Total Capital bblonqiko to 

DUCTIONS, ETC 28,043 2 

Rivei'-Sellers of Purl. 
35 boats, at Al. 10s. each ; 35 sets 
of measures, at 5s. the set ; 35 warm- 
ing pots, at Is. 6d. each ; 35 fire-stoves, 
at 5s. each ; 35 gallon cans, at 2^. 6d. 
each ; 70 " pins" of beer, at is. per 
" pin ;" 35 quarts of gin, at 2s. 6d. 
the quart ; 85 licences, at Zs. 6d. ; 
stock-money for spice, 8k., at 1*. each 208 5 

Hence it would appear that the gross amount 
of property belonging to the street-sellers may be 
reckoned as follows : — 

Value of stock-in-trade belonging 
to costermongers 25,000 

Ditto street-sellers of green-stuff . 149 

Ditto street-sellers of eatables 
and drinkables 9,000 

Ditto street-sellers of stationery, 
literature, and the fine arts . . . 400 

Ditto street-sellers of manufac- 
tured articles . * 2,800 

Ditto street-sellers of second-hand 
articles 621 14 

Ditto street-sellers of live animals 798 10 

Ditto street-sellers of mineral 
productions, &c 28,043 2 

Ditto river-sellen of purl . . . 208 5 

Total Amouxt of Capital bi- 


SsLLMf . . . . 67,023 11 

The gross value of the stock in trade of the 
London street-sellen may then be estimated at 
about 60,000/. 

Ixoom, OK " Takihos," of thi Strbbt^bluus 


We have now to oMiinato the receipts of each of 
the above-BMaUonod claMa*. 

Street-Sellers of Second-Juind ^fetal Wares. 

I was told hy several in this trade £ s. d. 
that there were 200 old metal sellers 
in the streets, but, from the best in- 
formation at my command, not more 
than 50 appear to be strictly street- 
sellers, unconnected with shopkeep- 
ing. Estimating a weekly receipt, 
per individual, of 15s. (half being 
profit), the yearly street outlay 
among this body amounts to , . 1,950 ' 
Street-Sellers of Second-hand Metal- Ti-ays, Ac. 

Calculating that 20 persons take in 
the one or two nights* sale 45. Ji week 
each, on second-ihand trays (33 per 
cent, being the rate of profit), the 
street expenditure amounts yearly to 208 
Street- Sellers qf otiier Second-luind Metal Articles, 
as Italian and Flat Irons, ike. 

There are, I am informed, 20 per- 
sons selling Italian and fiat irons re- 
gularly throughout the year in the 
streets of London ; each takes upon 
an average 6«. weekly, which gives 
an annual expenditure of upwards of 312 
Street-Sellers of Second-hand Linen, dr. 

There are at present 30 men and 
women who sell towelling and can- 
vas wrappers in the streets on Satur- 
day and Monday nights, each taking 
in the sale of those articles 95. per 
week, thus giving an annual outlay 

of 702 

Street-Sellers qf Second-hand {burnt) Linen and 

The most intelligent man whom I 
met with in this trade calculated that 
there were 80 of these eecpnd-hand 
street-folk plying their trade two 
nights in the week; and that they 
took 8*. each weekly, about half of it 
being profit ; thus the annual street 
expenditure would be ... . 1,664 
Street-Sellers of Second-hand Curtains. 

From the best data at my command 
there are 30 individuals who are en- 
gaged in the street-sale of second- 
band curtains, and reckoning the 
weekly takings of each to be 55., we 
find the yearly sum spent in the streets 
upon second-hand curtains amounts to 390 
Street-Sellers of Second-hand Carpeting, Flannels, 
Stocking-legs, d'c. 

lam informed that the same persons 
selling curtidns sell also second-hand 
carpeting, &c. ; their weekly average 
takings appear to be about Ci. each 
in the sale of the above articles, thus 
we have a yearly outlay of. . . . 468 
Street-SdUrt qf Second-hand Bed-ticking, 
Sacking, JfVinge, Ac. 

The street-sellers of curtains, car* 



£ s. d. 

peting, &c., of whom there are 30, 
are also the street-sellers of bed-tick- 
ing, sacking, fringe, &c. Their weekly- 
takings for the sale of these articles 
amount to 4s. each. Hence we find 
that the sum spent yearly in the 
streets upon the purchase of bed-tick- 
ing, &c., amounts to ^312 

, Street-Sellers of Second-hand Glass and 
Calculating that each of the six 
dealers takes 12s. weekly, with a 
profit of 6s. or 7s., we find there is 
annually expended in this department 
of street-commerce . ... . . .187 4 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Miscellaneotts 

From the best data I have been 
able to obtain, it appears that there 
are five street-sellers engaged in the 
sale of these second-hand articles of 
amusement, and the receipts of the 
whole are 10^. weekly, about half 
being profit, thus giving a yearly ex- 
penditure of 520 

Street-Sellers and Duffers of Second-hand Music. 

A broker who was engaged in this 
traffic estimated — and an intelligent 
street-seller agreed in the computation 
—that, take the year through, at least 
25 individuals are regularly, but few 
of them fully, occupied with this 
traffic, and that their weekly takings 
average 30s. each, or an aggregate 
yearly amount of 1950^. The weekly 
profits run from 10s. to 15s., and 
sometimes the well-known dealers 
clear 40s. or 50s. a week, while others 
do not take 5s 1,950 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Weapons. 
In this traffic it may be estimated, 
I am assured, that there are 20 men 
engaged, each taking, as an average, 1^. 
a week. In some weeks a man may 
take 51.; in the next month he may 
sell no weapons at all. From 30 to 
50 per cent, is the usual rate of profit, 
and the yearly street outlay on these 
second-hand offensive or defensive 
weapons is 1,040 

Street- Sellers of Second-hand Curiosities. 
There are not now more than six 
men who carry on this trade apart 
from other commerce. Their average 
takings are 15s. weekly each man, 
about two-thirds being profit, or 
early 234 

Street-Sellers of Secondhand Telescopies and 

There are only six men at present 
engaged in the sale of telescopes and 
pocket-glasses, and their weekly 

average takings are 30s. each, giving £ s. d. 
a yearly expenditure in the streets of 468 

Street-Sellers qf other Second-hand Miscellaneous 
If we reckon that there are 30 
street-sellers carrying on a traffic in 
second-hand miscellaneous articles, 
and that each takes 10s. weekly, we 
find the annual outlay in the streets 
upon these articles amounts to . . 780 

Street-Sellers of Men's Second-hand Clothes. 

The street-sale of men's second- 
hand wearing apparel is carried on 
principally by the Irish and others. 
From the best information I can 
gather, there appear to be upwards 
of 1200 old clothes men buying 
left-oif apparel in the metropolis, 
one-third of whom are Irish. There 
are, however, not more than 100 of 
these who sell in the streets the 
articles they collect ; the average- 
takings of each of the sellers are 
about 20s. weekly, their trading 
being chiefly on the Saturday nights 
and Sunday mornings. Their profits 
are from 50 to 60 per cent. Esti- 
mating the number of sellers at 100, 
and their weekly takings at 20s. each, 
we have an annual expenditure of 5,200 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Boots and Shoes. 
There are at present about 30 in- 
dividuals engaged in the street-sale 
of second-hand boots and shoes of all 
kinds; some take as much as 30s. 
weekly, while others do not take 
more than half that amount; their 
profits being about 50 per cent. 
Beckoning that the weekly average 
takings are 20s. each, we have a 
yearly expenditure on second-hand 
boots and shoes of 1,560 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Hats. 
Throughout the year there are 
not more than 15 men constantly 
" working " this branch of street- 
traffic. The average weekly gains 
of each are about 10s., and in 
order to clear that sum they must 
take 20s. Hence the gross gains of 
the class will be 390/. per annum, 
while the sum yearly expended in the 
streets upon second-hand hats will 
amount altogether to 780 

Street-Sellers of Women's Second-hand Apparel. 

The number of persons engaged in 
the street-sale of women's second- 
hand apparel is about 50, each of 
whom take, upon an average, 15s. per 
week ; one-half of this is clear gain. 
Thus we find the annual outlay in 


IFtam a Daguartolnm by Bbabd. 



the streets upon women's second-hand £ s. d. 
apparel is no less than .... 1,950 
Street-Sellers qf Second-hand Bonnets. 
There are at present 30 persons 
(nearly one-half of whom are milliners, 
and the others street-sellers) who sell 
second-hand straw and other bonnets ; 
some of these are placed in an um- 
brella turned upside down, while 
others are spread upon a wrapper on 
the stones. The average takings of 
this class of street-sellers are about 
12s, each per week, and their clear gains 
not more than one-half, thus giving a 
yearly expenditure of 936 

Slreet-Silleis qf Second-hand Furs. 

During fire months of the year there 
are as many as 8 or 12 persons who 
•ell furs in the street markets on 
Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, 
and Monday nights. The weekly 
average takings of each is about 12«., 
nearly three-fourths of which is clear 
profit. Reckoning that 10 individual* 
are engaged 20 weeks during the year, 
and that each of these takes weekly 
12^., we find* the sum annually 
expended in the streets on furs 

amounts to 120 

Street-Sellers of Second-hand Articles in Smith- 

I am informed, by those who are in 
a position to know, that there are sold 
on an average every year in Smith- 
field-market about 624 sets of harness, 
at lis. per set; 1560 collars, at 2s. 
each; 686 pads, at Is. each; 1560 
saddles, at 5«. each ; 936 bits, at M. 
each; 520 pair of wheels, at IOj. per 
pair ; 624 pair of springs, at %s. id. 
per pair; 832 pair of trestles, at 
2s. 6d. per pair ; 520 boards, at is. 
each; 1820 barrows, at 25s. each; 
312 trucks, at 60i. each ; 208 trays, 
at Is. Zd. each; 1040 small carts, at 
63«. each ; 156 goat-carriages, at 20s. 
each; 520 shooting-galleries, at lis. 
each ; 312 gons for shooting-galleriefl, 
at 10«. each ; 1040 dmms for costers, 
at Zs. each; 2080 measures, at Zd. 
each; 2080 pair of large scales, at 
5s. pet pair; 2080 pair of hand- 
scales, at 5d. per pair; 80 roasted 
chestnut-apparatus, at 20s. each ; 100 
ginger-beer trucks, at 80s. each ; 20 
eel-kettles, at 6s. each; 100 potato- 
cans, at 17s. each ; 10 pea-toap cans, 
at 5s. each; 40 elderwine vessels, at 
8#. each; giring a yearly expendi- 
ture of 10.242 8 8 

Total Sum ov MomiT Aitkuallt 


Saooro-BAKD AasiOLis . . . 83,461 1 4 

*TRKET- Sellers ov Livk Animals. 

Street-Sellers of Dogs {Fancy PsU). 
^ From the best data it appears that £ s. d. 
each hawker sells "four or five 
occasionally in one week in the sum- 
mer, when trade's brisk and days 
are long, and only two or three 
the next week, when trade may be 
flat, and during each week in winter, 
when there isn't the same chance." 
Calculating, then, that seven dogs are 
sold by each hawker in a fortnight, 
at an average price of 505. each 
(many fetch 3^., 4/., and 5^.), and sup- 
posing that but 20 men are trad- 
ing in this line the year through, we 
find that no less a sura is yearly ex- 
pended in this street-trade than . .9,100 

Street-Sellers of Sporting Dogs. 
The amount " turned over " in the 
trade in sporting dogs yearly, in Lon- 
don, is computed by the best informed 
at about 12,000 

Street-Sellers and Duffers qf Live Birds. 


There are in the metropolis 200 
street-sellers of English birds, who 
may be said to sell among them 7000 
linnets, at 3d. each ; 3000 bullfinches, 
at 2s. 6d. each; 400 piping bullfinches, 
at 63*. each; 7000 goldfinches, at 
9rf. each ; 1500 chaffinches, at 2s. 6d. 
each ; 700 greenfinches, at 3flf. each ; 
6000 larks, at Is. each ; 200 nightin- 
gales, at Is. each ; 600 redbreasts, at 
Is. each ; 3500 thrushes and thrustles, 
at 2s. 6d. each; 1400 blackbirds, at 
2s. 6d. each ; 1000 canaries, at Is. 
each; 10,000 sparrows, at Id. each; 
1500 starlings, at 1^. 6d. each ; 500 
magpies and jackdaws, at 9d. each ; 
300 redpoles, at9rf. each ; 150 black- 
caps, at id. each; 2000 "duffed" 
birds, at 2s. 6d. each. Thus making 
the sum annimlly expended in the 
purchase of birds in the streets, 
amount to 8,624 12 2 

Street-Sellers of Parrots, tke. 

The number of individuals at pre- 
sent hawking parrots and other foreign 
birds in the streets is 10, who sell 
among them during the year about 
500 birds. Reckoning each bird to 
sell at 1/., we find the annual outlay 
upon parrots bought in the streets to 
be 500/. ; adding'to this the sale of 
110 Java sparrows and St Helena 
birds, as Wax-bills and Red-beaks at 
Is. 6d. each, we have for the sum 
yearly expended in the streets on the 
sale of foreign birds 508 5 



Street-Sellers of Birds'-Nests. 

There are at present only three £ s. d. 
persons hawking birds'-nests, &c., in 
the streets during the season, which 
lasts from May to August; these 
street-sellers sell among them 400 
nests, at 2^d. each ; 144 snakes, at 
I5. 6d. each; 4 hedgehogs, at Is. each; 
and about 2s.'a worth of snails. This 
makes the weekly income of each 
amount to about 8s. 6d. during a 
period of 12 weeks in the summer, 
and the sum annually expended on 
these articles to come to .... 15 6 

Street-Sellers of Squirrels. 
For five months of the year there 
are 20 men selling squirrels in the 
streets, at from 20 to 50 per cent, 
profit, and averaging a weekly sale of 
six each. The average price is from 
25. to 2s. 6d. Thus 2400 squirrels 
are vended yearly in the streets, at 
a cost to the public of 240 

Street-Sellers of Leverets,' Wild Rabbits, <kc. 

During the year there are about 
six individuals exposing for sale in the 
streets young hares and wild rabbits. 
These persons sell among them 300 
leverets, at Is. Qd. each ; and 400 
young wild-rabbits, at id. each, giving 
a yearly outlay of 29 3 4 

Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Fish. 
If we calculate, in order to allow 
for the cessation of the trade during the 
winter, and often in the summer when 
costermongering is at its best, that 
but 35 gold-fish sellers hawk in the 
streets and that for but half a year, 
each selling six dozen weekly, at 12s. 
the dozen, we find 65,520 fish sold, 
at an outlay of 3,276 

Street-Sellers of Tortoises. 

Estimating the number of indivi- 
duals selling tortoises to be 20, and 
the number of tortoises sold to be 
10,000, at an average price ©f Sd. 
each, we find there is expended yearly 
upon these creatures upwards of . . 333 6 8 
Street- Sellers of Snails, Frogs, d:c. 

There are 14 snail gatherers, and 
they, on an average, gather six dozen 
quarts each in a year, which supplies 
a total of 12,096 quarts of snails. 
The labourers in the gardens, I am 
informed, gather somewhat more than 
an equal quantity, the greater part 
being sold to the bird-shops; so that 
altogether the supply of snails for 
the caged thrushes and blackbirds of 
London is about two millions and a 
half. Computing them at 24,000 
quarts, and at 2d. a quart, the annual 

outlay is 20QI. Besides snails, there £•] s. 
are collected annually 500 frogs and 18 
toads, at \d. each, giving a yearly 
expenditure of 202 3 

Total, or Gross " Takings," op the 
Street-Sellers of Live Ani- 
mals 23,868 16 4 

Income, or " Takings," of the Street-Sellers 
OF Mineral Productions and Natural 

Street-Sellers of Coals. 

The number of individuals engaged 
in the street-sale of coals is 210; 
these distribute 2940 tons of coals 
weekly, giving an annual trade of 
152,880 tons, at 1^. per ton, and con- 
sequently a yearly expenditure by 
the poor of 152,880 

Street-Sellers of Coke. 

The number of individuals engaged 
in the street-sale of coke is 1500; 
and the total quantity of coke sold 
annually in the streets is computed 
at about 1,400,000 chaldrons. These 
are purchased at the gas factories at 
an average price of 8s. per chaldron. 
Reckoning that this is sold at 4s, per 
chaldron for profit, we find that the 
total gains of the whole class amount 
to 280,000^. per annum, and their 
gross annual takings to . . . 840,000 

Street-Sellers of Tan- Turf. 
The number of tan-turf sellers in 
the metropolis is estimated at 14 ; 
each of these dispose of, upon an 
average, 20,000 per week, during 
the year; selling them at Is. per 
hundred, and realizing a profit of 
4^0?. for each hundred. This makes 
the annual outlay in the street-sale of 
the above article amount to . .7,280 

Street-Sellers of Salt. 

There are at present 150 indi- 
viduals hawking salt in the several 
streets of London; each of these pay 
at the rate of 2s. per cwt. for the salt, 
and retail it at 3 lbs. for Id., which 
leaves Is. Id. profit on every cwt. 
One day with another, wet and dry, 
each of the street-sellers disposes of 
about 2 J cwt., or 18 tons 15 cwt. 
per day for all hands, and this, de- 
ducting Sundays, makes 5868 tons 
15 cwt. in the course of the year. 
The profit of Is. Id. per cwt. 
amounts to a yearly aggregate profit 
of 6357^. 16s. Bd., or about 42^. 
per annum for each person in the 
trade; while the sum annually ex- 
pended upon this article in the streets 
amounts to 18,095 6 3 



Stred-SeUtrs of Sand. £ s. d. 

Calculating the sale at a load of 
nnd j)er day, for each horse and cart, 
at 21«. per load, we find the sura 
annually expended in house - sand 
to be 6573/. ; adding to this the sum 
of 234/. spent yearly in bird-sand, 
the total street-expenditure is . 6,807 
Street-Sellers of Shells. 

There are about 50 individuals 
disposing of shells at different periods 
of the year. These sell among them 
1,000,000 at \d. each, giving an 
annual expenditure of . . . . 4,166 13 4 

Total, or Gross Takikgs, of the 
Street-Sellers of Mineral Pro- 

OSITIES £1,029,228 19 7 

Rivei'-Sellers of Purl. 
There are at present 35 men follow- 
ing the trade of purl-selling on the 
river Thames to colliers. The weekly 
profits of this class amount to 117/. 55. 
per week, and yearly to 6097/., while 
their annual takings is . . . . 8,190 

Now, adding together the above and the other 
foregone results, we arrive at the following esti- 
mate as to the amount of money annually expended 
on the several articles purchased in the streets of 
the metropolis. 

"Wet "fish .... £1,177,200 £ 

Dry fish 127,000 

Shellfish 156,600 

Fish of all kinds . . £1,460,800 

Vegetables .... £292,400 
Green fruit .... 332,200 
Dry fruit 1,000 

Fruit and Vegetables . . . . 625,600 

Game, poultry, rabbits, &c. ... 80,000 

Flowers, roots, &c 14,800 

Water-cresses 13,900 

Chick weed, gru'nsel, and turf for birds 14,570 

Eatables and drinkables 203,100 

Stationery, literature, and fine arts . 83,400 

Manufactured articles 188,200 

Second-hand articles 29,900 

Live animals {including dogs, birds, 

and goldfish) 29,300 

Mineral productions (<M coals, coke, 

salt, sand, <!:c.) 1,022,700 

Total Sum bxpended upon thb 
VARIOUS Articles vended by the 
Streei-Sellbrs £3,716,270 

Hence it appears that the street-sellers, of all 
ages, in the metropolis are about forty thousand 
in number — their stock-in-trade is worth about 
sixty thousand pounds — and their gross annual 
takings or receipts amount to no less than three 
millions and a half sterling. 



Tbs persons who traverse the streets, or call 
periodically at certain places to purchase articles 
which are usually sold at the door or within the 
house, are — according to the division 1 laid down 
in the first number of this work — Street-Buyers. 
The largest, and, in every respect, the most 
remarkable body of these traders, are the buyers 
of old clothes, and of them I shall speak sepa- 
rately, devoting at the same time some space to 
the Strset-Jkws. It will also be necessary to 
give a brief account of the Jews generally, for 
they are still a peculiar race, and street and shop- 
trading among them are in many respects closely 

The principal things bought by the itinerant 
purchasers consist of waste-paper, hare and rabbit 
skins, old umbrellas and parasols, bottles and glass, 
broken metal, rags, dripping, grease, bones, tea- 
leavet, and old clothes. 

With the exception of the buyers of waste-paper, 
among whom are many active, energetic, and 
intelligent men, the street-buyers are of the lower 
sort, lK>th as to means and intelligence. The only 
farther exception, perhaps, which I need notice 
here is, that among some umbrella-buyers, there is 
considemUe smartness, and sometimes, in the re- 
pair or MimwbI of the ribs, &&, a slight degree 
of skOL Th« other street-purchasers — such as the 

hare-skin and old metal and rag buyers, are often 
old and infirm people of both sexes, of whom — 
perhaps by reason of their infirmities — not a few 
have been in the trade from their childhood, and 
are as well known by sight in their respective 
rounds, as was the " long-remembered beggar " in 
former times. 

It is usually the lot of a poor person who has 
been driven to the streets, or has adopted such a 
life when an adult, to sell trilling things — such 
as are light to carry and require a small outlay — 
in advanced age. Old men and women totter about 
offering lucifer-raalches, boot and stay-laces, penny 
memorandum books, and such like. But the elder 
portion of the street-folk I have now to speak of 
do not sell, but buy. The street-seller commends 
his wares, their cheapness, and excellence. The 
same sort of man, when a buyer, depreciates every- 
thing offered to him, in order to ensure a cheaper 
bargain, while many of the things thus obtained 
find their way into street-sale, and are then as 
much commended for cheapness and goodness, ns 
if they were the stock-in-trade of an acute slop 
advertisement-monger, and this is done sometimes 
by the very man who, when a buyer, condemned 
them as utteriy valueless, fiut this is common to 
all trades. 



Of the Street-Buyers of Rags, Broken 
Metal, Bottles, Glass, and Bones. 

I CLASS all these articles under one head, for, on 
inquiry, I find no individual supporting himself 
by the trading in any one of them. I shall, 
therefore, describe the buyers of rags, broken 
metal, bottles, glass, and bones, as a body of street- 
traders, but take the articles in which they traffic 
seriatim, pointing out in what degree they are, or 
have been, wholly or partially, the staple of several 
distinct callings. 

The traders in these things are not unpros- 
perous men. The poor creatures who may be 
seen picking up rags in the street are " street- 
finders," and not buyers. It is the same with the 
poor old men who may be seen bending under 
an unsavoury sack of bones. The bones have 
been found, or have been given for charity, and 
are not purchased. One feeble old man whom I 
met with, his eyes fixed on the middle of the 
carriage-way in the Old St. Pancras-road, and with 
whom I had some conversation, told me that the 
best friend he had in the world was a gentleman 
who lived in a large house near the Regent's-park, 
and gave him the bones which his dogs had done 
with ! " If I can only see hisself, sir," said the 
old man, " he 's sure to give me any coppers he 
has in his coat-pocket, and that 's a very great 
thing to a poor man like me. 0, yes, I '11 buy 
bones, if I have any ha'pence, rather than go 
without them ; but I pick them up, or have them 
given to me mostly." 

The street-buyers, who are only buyers, have 
barrows, sometimes even carts with donkeys, and, 
as they themselves describe it, they " buy every- 
thing." These men are little seen in London, for 
they "work" the more secluded courts, streets, 
and alleys, when in town ; but their most fre- 
quented rounds are the poorer parts of the 
populous suburbs. There are many in Croydon, 
Woolwich, Greenwich, and Deptford. " It 's no 
use," a man who had been in the trade said to 
me, " such as us calling at fine houses to know if 
they 've any old keys to sell ! No, we trades 
with the poor." Often, however, they deal with 
the servants of the wealthy; and their usual 
mode of business in such cases is to leave a bill 
at the house a few hours previous to their visit. 
This document has frequently the royal arms at 
the head of it, and asserts that the "firm" has 

been established since the year , which is 

seldom less than half a century. The hand-bill 
usually consists of a short preface as to the in- 
creased demand for rags on the part of the paper- 
makers, and this is followed by a liberal offer to 
give the very best prices for any old linen, or old 
metal, bottles, rope, stair-rods, locks, keys, drip- 
ping, carpeting, &c., " in fact, no rubbish or lumber, 
however worthless, will be refused;" and gene- 
rally concludes with a request that this "bill" 
may be shown to the mistress of the house and 
preserved, as it will be called for in a couple of 

The papers are delivered by one of the " firm," 
who marks on the door a sign indicative of the 

houses at which the bill has been taken in, and 
the probable reception there of the gentleman who 
is to follow him. The road taken is also pointed 
by marks before explained, see vol. i. pp. 218 and 
247. These men are residents in all quarters 
within 20 miles of London, being most nume- 
rous in the places at no great distance from the 
Thames. They work their way from their sub- 
urban residences to London, which, of course, is 
the mart, or " exchange," for their wares. The 
reason why the suburbs are preferred is that in 
those parts the possessors of such things as broken 
metal, &c., cannot so readily resort to a marine- 
store dealer's as they can in town. I am in- 
formed, however, that the shops of the marine- 
store men are on the increase in the more densely- 
peopled suburbs ; still the dwellings of the poor 
are often widely scattered in those parts, and few 
will go a mile to sell any old thing. They wait 
in preference, unless very needy, for the visit of 
the street-buyer. 

A good many years ago — perhaps until 30 years 
back — rags, and especially white and good linen 
rags, were among the things most zealously in- 
quired for by street-buyers, and then 2>d. a pound 
was a price readily paid. Subsequently the paper- 
manufacturers brought to great and economical 
perfection the process of boiling rags in lye and 
bleaching them with chlorine, so that colour became 
less a desideratum. A few years after the peace 
of 1815, moreover, the foreign trade in rags in- 
creased rapidly. At the present time, about 1200 
tons of woollen rags, and upwards of 10,000 tons 
of linen rags, are imported yearly. These 10,000 
tons give us but a vague notion of the real 
amount. I may therefore mention that, when 
reduced to a more definite quantity, they show a 
total of no less than twenty-two millions four 
hundred thousand pounds. The woollen rags 
are imported the most largely from Hamburg and 
Bremen, the price being from 5^. to 17/. the ton. 
Linen rags, which average nearly 20/. the ton, are 
imported from the same places, and from several 
Italian ports, more especially those in Sicily. 
Among these ports are Palermo, Messina, Ancona, 
Leghorn, and Trieste (the Trieste rags being ga- 
thered in Hungary). The value of the nigs an- 
nually brought to this country is no less than 
200,000/. What the native rags may be worth, 
there are no facts on which to ground an estimate ; 
but supposing each person of the 20,000,000 
in Great Britain to produce one pound of ragg 
annually, then the rags of this country may be 
valued at very nearly the same price as the foreign 
ones, so that the gross value of the rags of Great 
Britain imported and produced at home, would, in 
such a case, amount to 400,000/. From France, 
Belgium, Holland, Spain, and other continental 
kingdoms, the exportation of rags is prohibited, 
nor can so bulky and low-priced a commodity be 
smuggled to advantage. 

Of this large sum of rags, which is independent 
of what is collected in the United Kingdom, the 
Americans are purchasers on an extensive scale. 
The wear of cotton is almost unknown in many 
parts of Italy, Germany, and Hungary; and al- 



although the linen in use is coarse and, compared 
to the Irish, Scotch, or English, rudely manu- 
fnctured, the foreign rags are generally linen, and 
therefore are preferred at the paper mills. The 
street-buyers in this country, however, make less 
distinction than ever, as regards price, between 
linen and cotton rags. 

The linen rag-buying is still prosecuted exten- 
sively by itinerant " gatherers" in the country, and 
in the further neighbourhoods of London, but the 
collection is not to the extent it was formerly. 
The price is lower, and, owing to the foreign trade, 
the demand is less urgent ; so common, too, is now 
the wear of cotton, and so much smaller that of 
linen, that many people will not sell linen rags, but 
reserve them for use in case of cuts and wounds, 
or for giving to their poor neighbours on any such 
emergency. This was done doubtlessly to as 
great, or to a greater extent, in the old times, but 
linen rags were more plentiful then, for cotton 
shirting was not woven to the perfection seen at 
present, and many good country housewives spun 
their own linen sheetings and shirtings. 

A street-buyer of the class 1 have described, 
upon presenting iiimself at any house, offers to buy 
ngs, broken metal, or glass, and for rags especially 
there is often a serious bargaining, and sometimes, 
I was told by an itinerant street-seller, who had 
been an ear-witness, a little joking not of the most 
delicate kind. For coloured rags these men give 
\d. a pound, or \d. for three pounds ; for inferior 
white rags \d. a pound, and up to \\d. ; for the 
best, 2d. the pound. It is common, however, and 
even more common, I am assured, among masters 
of the old rag and bottle shops, than among street- 
buyers, to announce 2d. or Zd., or even as much 
as 6<<., for the best rags, but, somehow or other, the 
rags taken for sale to those buyers never are of 
the best. To offer 6/i. a pound for rags is ridicu- 
lous, but such an offer may be seen at some rag- 
shops, the figure Q, perhaps, crowning a painting 
of a large plum-pudding, as a representation of 
what may be a Christmas result, merely from the 
thrifty preservation of rags, grease, and dripping. 
Some of the street-buyers, when working the 
suburbs or the country, attach a similar " illus- 
tration" to their barrows or carts. I saw the 
winter placard of one of these men, which he 
WM reserving for a country excursion as far as 
Rochester, " when the plum-pudding time whs 
•-coming." In this pictorial advertisement a man 
and woman, very florid and full-faced, were on 
the point of enjoying a huge plum-pudding, the 
man flourishing a large knife, and looking very 
hospitable. On a scroll which issued from his 
mouth were the words : " From our rags I The 

best prices given by , of London." 

I The woman in like manner exclaimed : " From 
I dripping and house fat ! The best prices given 

by , of London." 

This roan told me that at some timet, both in 
town and country, he did not buy a pound of n^s 
in a week. He had heard the old hands in the 
trade say, that 20 or 30 years back they could 
''ffaiber" (the word generally used for buying) twice 
ud three ttmei m muxj nga m at prMent. My 

formant attributed this change to two causes, 
depending more upon what he had heard from 
experienced street-buyers than upon his own 
knowledge. At one time it was common for a 
mistress to allow her maidservant to " keep a 
rag-bag," in which all refuse linen, &c., was col- 
lected for sale for the servant's behoof; a privilege 
now rarely accorded. The other cause was that 
working-people's wives had less money at their com- 
mand now than they had formerly, so that instead 
of gathering a good heap for the man who called 
on them periodically, they ran to a marine store- 
shop and sold them by one, two, and three penny- 
worths at a time. This related to all the things 
in the street-buyer's trade, as well as to rags. 

" I 've known this trade ten years or so," said 
my informant, " I was a costemionger before that, 
and I work coster-work now in the summer, and 
buy things in the winter. Before Christmas is the 
best time for second-hand trade. When I set out 
on a country round — and I 've gone as far as 
Guildford and Maidstone, and St. Alban's — I lays 
in as great a stock of glass ' and crocks as I can 
raise money for, or as my donkey or pony — I 've 
had both, but I 'm working a ass now — can drag 
without distressing him. I swops my crocks for 
anythink in the second-hand way, and when I 've 
got through them I buys outright, and so works 
my way back to London. I bring back what I 've 
bought in the crates and hampers I 've had to 
pack the crocks in. The first year as I started I got 
hold of a few very tidy rags, coloured things 
mostly. The Jew I sold 'em to when I got home 
again gave me more than I expected. 0, lord no, 
not more than I asked ! He told me, too, that he 'd 
buy any more I might have, as they was wanted 
at some town not very far oft^ where there was a 
call for them for patching quilts. I haven't heard 
of a call for any that way since. I get less and 
less rags every year, I think. Well, I can't say 
what I got last year; perhaps about two stone. 
No, none of them was woollen. They 're things 
as people 's seldom satisfied with the price for, is 
rags. I 've bought muslin window curtains or 
frocks as was worn, and good for nothink4)ut rags, 
but there always seems such a lot, and they weighs 
so light and comes to so little, that there 's sure 
to be grumbling. I 've sometimes bought a lot of 
old clothes, by the lump, or I 've swopped crocks 
for them, and among them there 's frequently been 
things as the Jew in Petticoat-lane, what I 
sells them to, has put o' one side as rags. If 
I 'd offered to give rag prices, them as I got 'em 
of would have been offended, and have thought I 
wanted to cheat. When you get a lot at one go, 
and 'specially if it 's for crocks, you must make 
the best of them. This for that, and t'other for 
t'other. I stay at the beer-shops and little inns 
in the country. Some of the landlords looks very shy 
•t one, if you 're a stranger, acause, if the police 
detectives is after anythink, they go as hawkers, 
or barrowmen, or somethink that way." [This 
statement as to the police is correct ; but the man 
did not know how it came to his knowledge ; he 
had " heard of it," he believed.] " I 've very 
seldom slept in a common lodging-house. I'd 



rather sleep on my barrow." [I have before had 
occasion to remark the aversion of the coster- 
monger class to sleep in low lodging-houses. 
These men, almost always, and from the necessi- 
ties of their calling, have rooms of their own in 
London ; so that, I presume, they hate to sleep 
171 public, as the accommodation for repose in 
many a lodging-house may very well be called. At 
any rate the costermongers, of all classes of street- 
sellers, when on their countrj- excursions, resort 
the least to the lodging-houses.] " The last round 
I had in the country, as far as Heading and Pang- 
bourne, I was away about five weeks, I think, 
and came back a better man by a pound ; that 
was all. I mean I had 30 shillings' worth of 
things to start with, and when I 'd got back, 
and turned my rags, and old metal, and things 
into money, I had 50s. To be sure Jenny (the 
ass) and me lived well all the time, and I bought 
a pair of half-boots and a pair of stockings at 
Reading, so it weren't so bad. Yes, sir, there 's 
nothing I likes better than a turn into the 
country. It does one's health good, if it don't 
turn out so well for profits as it might." 

My informant, the rag-dealer, belonged to the 
best order of costennongers ; one proof of this was 
in the evident care which he had bestowed on 
Jenny, his donkey. There were no loose hairs on 
her hide, and her harness was clean and whole, 
and I observed after a pause to transact business on 
his round, that the animal held her head towards 
her master to be scratched, and was petted with a 
mouthful of green grass and clover, which the 
costermonger had in a comer of his vehicle. 

Tailors cxUtings, which consist of cloth, satin, 
lining materials, fustian, waistcoatings, silk, &c., 
are among the things which the street-buyers are 
the most anxious to become possessed of on a 
country round ; for, as will be easily understood 
by those who have read the accounts before given 
of the Old Clothes Exchange, and of Petticoat 
and Rosemary lanes, they are available for many 
purposes in London. 

Dressmakers cuttings are also a portion of the 
street-buyer's country traffic, but to no great ex- 
tent, and hardly ever, I am told, unless the street- 
buyer, which is not often the case, be accompanied 
on his round by his wife. In town, tailor's cut- 
tings are usually sold to the piece-brokers, who 
call or send men round to the shops or work- 
shops for the purpose of buying them, and it is 
the same with the dressmaker's cuttings. 

Old metal, or broken metal, for I heard one 
appellation used as frequently as the other, is 
bought by the same description of traders. This 
trade, however, is prosecuted in town by the 
street-buyers more largely than in the country, and 
so differs from the rag business. The carriage of 
old iron bolts and bars is exceedingly cumbersome ; 
nor can metal be packed or stowed away like old 
clothes or rags. This makes the street-buyer 
indifferent as to the collecting of what I heard 
one of them call "country iron." By "metal" 
the street-folk often mean copper (most especially), 
brass, or pewter, in contradistinction to the cheaper 
substances of iron or lead. In the country they are 

most anxious to buy " metal ;" whereas, in town, 
they as readily purchase "iron." When the 
street-buyers give merely the worth of any metal 
by weight to be disposed of, in order to be re- 
melted, or re-wrought in some manner, by the 
manufacturers, the following are the average 
prices : — Copper, 6d. per lb. ; pewter, 5d. ; brass, 
5d.; iron, 6 lbs. for Id., and 8 lbs. for 2d. (a 
smaller quantity than 6 lbs. is seldom bought) ; 
and Id. and l\d. per lb. for lead. Old zinc is not a 
metal which " comes in the way " of the street- 
buyer, nor — as one of them told me with a laugh 
— old silver. Tin is never bought by weight in 
the streets. 

It must be understood that the prices I have 
mentioned are those given for old or broken 
metal, valueless unless for re-working. When an 
old metal article is still available, or may be 
easily made available, for the use for which it 
was designed, the street-purchase is by " the 
piece," rather than the weight. 

The broken pans, scuttles, kettles, &c., con- 
cerning one of the uses of which I have quoted 
Mr. Babbage, in page 6 of the present volume, as 
t(j the conversion of these worn-out vessels into 
the light and japanned edgings, or clasps, called 
" clamps," or " clips," by the trunk-makers, and 
used to protect or strengthen the comers of boxes 
and packing-cases, are purchased sometimes by 
the street-buyers, but fall more properly under the 
head of what constitutes a portion of the stock-in- 
trade of the street-finder. They are not bought 
by weight, but so much for the pan, perhaps so 
much along with other things; a halfpenny, a 
penny, or occasionally two-pence, and often only 
a farthing, or three pans for a penny. The uses 
for these things which the street-buyers have more 
especially in view, are not those mentioned by Mr. 
Babbage (the trunk clamps), but the conversion 
of them into the " iron shovels," or strong dust- 
pans sold in the streets. One street artisan sup- 
ports himself and his family by the making of dust- 
pans from such grimy old vessels. 

As in the result of my inquiry among the street- 
sellers of old metal, I am of opinion that the street- 
buyers also are not generally mixed up with the 
receipt of stolen goods. That they may be so to 
some extent is probable enough ; in the same pro- 
portion, perhaps, as highly respectable tradesmen 
have been known to buy the goods of fraudulent 
bankrupts, and others. The street-buyers are 
low itinerants, seen regularly by the police and 
easy to be traced, and therefore, for one reason, 
cautious. In one of my inquiries among the 
young thieves and pickpockets in the low lodg- 
ing-houses, I heard frequent accounts of their 
selling the metal goods they stole, to "fences," 
and in one particular instance, to the mistress 
of a lodging-house, who had conveniences for the 
melting of pewter pots (called " cats and kittens " 
by the young thieves, according to the size of 
the vessels), but I never heard them speak of any 
connection, or indeed any transactions, with street- 

Among the things purchased in great quantities 
by the street-buyers of old metal are keys. The 



key* 80 bought are of every size, are gene- 
rally very rusty, and present every form of 
manufacture, from the simplest to the most 
complex wards. On my inquiring how such 
a number of keys without locks came to be of- 
fered for street-sale, I was informed that there 
were often duplicate or triplicate keys to one lock, 
and that in sales of household furniture, for in- 
stance, there were often numbers of odd keys 
found about the premises and sold " in a lump ; " 
that locks were often spoiled and unsaleable, wear- 
ing out long before the keys. Twopence a dozen is 
an usual price for a dozen "mixed keys," to a 
street-buyer. Bolts are also freely bought by the 
street-people, as are holdfasts, bed-keys, and screws, 
•'and everything," I was told, " which some one or 
other among the poor is always a-wanting." 

A little old man, who had been many years a 
street-buyer, gave me an account of his purchases 
of bottles and glass. This man had been a soldier 
in bis youth ; had known, as he said, " many ups 
and downs;" and occasionally wheels a barrow, 
somewhat larger and shallower than those used 
by masons, from which he vends iron and tin 
wares, such as cheap gridirons, stands for hand- 
irons, dust-pans, dripping trays, &c. As he sold 
these wares, he offered to buy, or swop for, any 
second-band commodities. "' As to the bottle and 
glass buying, sir," he said, " it 's dead and buried 
in the streets, and in the country too. I 've 
known the day when I 've cleared 21. in a 
week by buying old things in a country round. 
How long was that ago, do you say, sir ] Why 
perhaps twenty years; yes, more than twenty. 
Now, I 'd hardly pick up odd glass in the street." 
[He called imperfect glass wares " odd glass." ] 
"0, I don't know what's brought about such a 
change, but everything changes. I can't say 
anything about the duty on glass. No, I never 
paid any duty on my glass ; it ain't likely. I buy 
glass still, certainly I do, but I think if I depended 
on it I should be wishing myself in the East Injes 
again, rather than such a poor cons<arn of a busi- 
ness — d n me if I shouldn 't. The last glass 

bargain I made about two months back, down 
Limehouse-way, and about the Commercial-road, 
I cleared Id. by ; and then I had to wheel 
what I bought — it was chiefly bottles — about five 
mile. It 's a trade would starve a cat, the buying 
of old glass. I never bought glass by weight, but 
I 've heard of some giving a halfpenny and a 
penny a pound. I always bought by the piece : 
from a halfpenny to a shilling (but that '% long 
since) for a bottle ; and farthings and halfpennies, 
and higher and sometimes lower, for wine and other 
glasses as was chipped or cracked, or damaged, for 
they could be sold in them days. People's got proud 
now, I fancy that's one thing, and must have every- 
thing slap. O, I do middling: I live by one thing or 
other, and when I die there '11 just be enough to 
bory the old man." [This is the first street-trader 
I have met with who made such a statement as to 
haring provided for his interment, though I have 
beard these men occasionally express repugnance 
at the thoughts of being buried by the parish.] ** I 
have a daughter, that 's all my family now ; she 

does well as a laundress, and is a real good sort ; 
I have my dinner with her every Sunday. She 's 
a widow without any young ones. I often go 
to church, both with my daughter and by myself, 
on Sunday evenings. It does one good. I 'm 
fond of the music and singing too. The sermon I 
can very seldom make anything of, as I can't hear 
well if any one 's a good way off me when he 's 
saying anythink. I buy a little old metal some- 
times, but it 's coming to be all up with street 
glass-people ; everybody seems to run with their 
things to the ragand-bottle-shops." 

The same body of traders buy also old sacking, 
carpeting, and moreen bed-curtains and mndow- 
hangings; but the trade in them is sufficiently 
described in my account of the buying of rags, for 
it is carried on in the same way, so much per 
pound (Id. or l^d. or 2d.), or so much for the lot. 

Of Bones I have already spoken. They are 
bought by any street-collector with a cart, on 
his roimd in town, at a halfpenny a pound, or 
three pounds for a penny ; but it is a trade, on 
account of the awkwardness of carriage, little 
cared for by the regular street-buyers. Men, con- 
nected with some bone-grinding-mill, go round 
with a horse and cart to the knackers and 
butchers to collect bones; but this is a portion, 
not of street, but of the mill-owner's, business. 
These bones are ground for manure, which is ex- 
tensively used by the agriculturists, having been 
first introduced in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire 
about 30 years ago. The importation of bones is 
now very great ; more than three times as much 
as it was 20 years back. The value of the foreign 
bones imported is estimated at upwards of 300,00UZ. 
yearl}'. They are brought from South America (along 
with hides), from Germany, Holland, and Belgium. 

The men who most care to collect bones in the 
streets of London are old and infirm, and they 
barter toys for them with poor children ; for those 
children sometimes gather bones in the streets and 
put them on one side, or get them from dustholes, 
for the sake of exchanging them for a plaything; 
or, indeed, for selling them to any shopkeeper, and 
many of the rag-and-bottle- tradesmen buy bones. 
The toys most used for this barter are paper 
"wind-mills." These toy-barterers, when they 
have a few pence, will buy bones of children 
or any others, if they cannot become possessed of 
them otherwise ; but the carriage of the bones is a 
great obstacle to much being done in this business. 

In the regular way of street-buying, such as I 
have described it, there are about 100 men in London 
and the suburbs. Some buy only during a portion 
of the year, and none perhaps (except in the way 
of barter) the year round. They are chiefly of the 
costermonger class, some of the street-buyers how- 
ever, have been carmen's servants, or connected 
with trades in which they had the care of a horse 
and cart, and so became habituated to a street-life. 

There are still many other ways in which the 
commerce in refuse and the second-hand street-trade 
is supplied. As the windmill-seller for bones, so will 
the puppet-show man for old bottles or broken 
table-spoons, or almost any old trifle, allow children 
to regale their eyes on the beauties of his exhibition. 



The trade expenditure of the street-buyers it is 
not easy to estimate. Their calling is so mixed 
with selling and bartering, that very probably not 
one among them can tell what he expends in 
huyinff, as a separate branch of his business. If 
100 men expend 15s. each weekly, in the pur- 
chase of rags, old metal, &c., and if this trade be 
prosecuted for 30 weeks of the year, we find 
2250/. so expended. The profits of the buyers 
range from 20 to 100 per cent. 
Of the " Kag-and-Bottle," and the " Marine- 
Store," Shops. 
The principal purchasers of any refuse or 
worn-out articles are the proprietors of the rag- 
and-bottle-shops. Some of these men make 
a good deal of money, and not unfrequently 
unite with the business the letting out of vans 
for the conveyance of furniture, or for pleasure 
excursions, to such places as Hampton Court. 
The stench in these shops is positively sickening. 
Here in a small apartment may be a pile of rags, 
a sack-full of bones, the many varieties of grease 
and " kitchen-stuff," corrupting an atmosphere 
which, even without such accompaniments, would 
be too close. The windows are often crowded with 
bottles, which exclude the light ; while the floor 
and shelves are thick with grease and dirt. The 
inmates seem unconscious of this foulness, — and 
one comparatively wealthy man, who showed me 
his horses, the stable being like a drawing-room 
compared to his shop, in speaking of the many 
deaths among his children, could not conjecture 
to what cause it could be owing. This indiffer- 
ence to dirt and stench is the more remarkable, 
as many of the shopkeepers have been gentlemen's 
servants, and were therefore once accustomed to 
cleanliness and order. The door-posts and win- 
dows of the rag-and-bottle-shops are often closely 
placarded, and the front of the house is sometimes 
one glaring colour, blue or red ; so that the place 
may be at once recognised, even by the illiterate, 
as the " red house," or the " blue house." If 
these men are not exactly street-buyers, they are 
street-billers, continually distributing hand-bills, 
but more especially before Christmas. The more 
aristocratic, however, now send round cards, and 
to the following purport : — 
No. — No. — 




Where you can obtain Gold and Silver to any amount. 


For all the undermentioned articles, viz; 

Old Copper, Brass, Pew- 
ter, iic. 
Lead, Iron, Zinc, Steel, 

&c., &c. 
Old Horse Hair, Mat- 
tresses, &c. 
Old Books, Waste Paper, 

All kinds of Coloured 

The utmost value given for all kinds of Wearing 


Furniture and Lumber of every description bought, and 

full value given at his Miscellaneous Warehouse. 

Articles sent for. 

Wax and Sptrm Pieces 
Kitchen Stuff, &c. 
Wine & Beer Bottle* 
Eau de Cologne, Soda 

Doctors' Bottles, <fcc. 
White Linen Rags 
Bones, Phials, & Broken 

Flint Glass 

Some content themselves with sending hand* 
bills to the houses in their neighbourhood, which 
many of the cheap printers keep in type, so that 
an alteration in the name and address is all which 
is necessary for any customer. 

I heard that suspicions were entertained that it 
was to some of these traders that the facilities 
with which servants could dispose of their pilfer- 
ings might be attributed, and that a stray silver 
spoon might enhance the weight and price 
of kitchen-stuff. It is not pertaining to my 
present subject to enter into the consideration of 
such a matter ; and I might not have alluded to 
it, had not I found the regular street-buyers fond 
of expressing an opinion of the indifferent honesty 
of this body of traders ; but my readers may 
have remarked how readily the street-people have, 
on several occasions, justified (as they seem to 
think) their own delinquencies by quoting what 
they declared were as great and as frequent 
delinquencies on the part of shopkeepers : " I 
know very well," said an intelligent street-seller 
on one occasion, " that two wrongs can never 
make a right ; but tricks that shopkeepers practise 
to grow rich upon we must practise, just as they 
do, to live at all. As long as they give short 
weight and short measure, the streets can't help 
doing the same." 

Tlie rag-and-hottle and the marine-store shops 
are in many instances but different names for the 
same description of business. The chief distinction 
appears to be this : the marine-store shopkeepers 
(proper) do not meddle with what is a very prin- 
cipal object of traffic with the rag-and-bottle man, 
the purchase of dripping, as well as of every kind 
of refuse in the way of fat or grease. The marine- 
store man, too, is more miscellaneous in his 
w^ares than his contemporary of the rag-and-bottle- 
store, as the former will purchase any of the 
smaller articles of household furniture, old tea- 
caddies, knife-boxes, fire-irons, books, pictures, 
draughts and backgammon boards, bird-cages, 
Dutch clocks, cups and saucers, tools and brushes. 
The-rag-and-bottle tradesman will readily pur- 
chase any of these things to be disposed of as 
old metal or waste-paper, but his brother trades- 
man buys them to be re-sold and re-used for the 
purposes for which they were originally manu- 
factured. When furniture, however, is the staple 
of one of these second-hand storehouses, the 
proprietor is a furniture-broker, and not a marine- 
store dealer. If, again, the dealer in these stores 
confine his business to the purchase of old metals, 
for instance, he is classed as an old metal dealer, 
collecting it or buying it of collectors, for sale to 
iron-founders, coppersmiths, brass-founders, and 
plumbers. In perhaps the majority of instances 
there is little or no distinction between the esta- 
blishments I have spoken of. The dolli/ business 
is common to both, but most common to the marine- 
store dealer, and of it 1 shall speak afterwards. 

These shops are exceedingly numerous. Per- 
haps in the poorer and smaller streets they are 
more numerous even than the chandlers' or the 
beer-sellers' places. At the corner of a small 



street, both in town and the nearer suburbs, will 
frequently be found the chandler's shop, for the 
sale of small quantities of cheese, bacon, groceries, 
&C., to the poor. Lower down may be seen the 
beer-seller's; and in the same street there is certain 
to be one rag-and-bottle or marine-store shop, very 
often two, and not unfrequently another in some 
adjacent court. 

I was referred to the owner of a marine-store 
shop, as to a respectable man, keeping a store of the 
best class. Here the counter, or table, or whatever 
it is to be called, for it was somewhat nonde- 
script, by an ingenious contrivance could be pushed 
out into the street, so that in bad weather the 
goods which were at other times exposed in the 
street could be drawn inside without trouble. 
The gliisa frames of the window were removable, 
and were placed on one side in the shop, for in 
the summer an open casement seemed to be 
preferred. This is one of the remaining old trade 
customs still seen in London ; for previously to 
the great fire in 1666, and the subsequent re- 
building of the city, shops with open casements, 
and protected from the weather by overhanging 
caves, or by a sloping wooden roof, were general. 

The house I visited was an old one, and abounded 
in closets and recesses. The fire-place, which 
apparently had been large, was removed, and the 
space was occupied with a mass of old iron of every 
kind ; all this was destined for the furnace of 
the iron-founder, wrought iron being preferred for 
several of the requirements of that trade. A 
chest or range of very old drawers, with defaced 
or worn-out labels — once a grocer's or a chemist's 
— was stuffed, in every drawer, with old horse- 
shoe nails (valuable for steel manufacturers), and 
hone and donkey shoes ; brass knobs ; glass 
stoppers ; small bottles (among them a number 
of the cheap cast "hartshorn bottles"); broken 
pieces of brass and copper ; small tools (such as 
shoemakers' and harness-makers' awls), punches, 
gimlets, plane-irons, hammer heads, &c. ; odd do- 
minoes, dice, and backgammon-men ; lock escut- 
cheons, keys, and the smaller sort of locks, espe- 
cially padlocks ; in fine, any small thing which 
could be stowed away in such a place. 

In one corner of the shop had been thrown, 
the evening before, a mass of old iron, then just 
bought. It consisted of a number of screws of 
different lengths and substance ; of broken bars 
and rails; of the odds and ends of the cogged 
wheels of machinery, broken up or worn out ; of 
odd-looking spikes, and rings, and links ; all 
heaped together and scarcely distinguishable. 
These things had all to be assorted ; some to 
be fold for re-ase in their then form ; the others to 
be sold that they might be melted and cast into 
other forms. The floor was intricate with hampers 
of bottle* ; heaps of old boots and shoes ; old 
decks and work-boxes; pictures (all modem) 
with and without frames ; waste-paper, the most 
of it of quarto, and lome larger sized, soiled or 
torn, and strung closely together in weights of 
from 2 to 7 lbs. ; and a fire-proof safe, staffed 
with old fringes, tassels, and other upholstery- 
goods, worn and dtsooloafed. The miscellaneous 

wares were carried out into the street, and ranged 
by the door-posts as well aa in front of the house. 
In some small out-houses in the yard were piles 
of old iron and tin pans, and of the broken or 
separate parts of harness. 

From the proprietor of this establishment I had 
the following account : — • 

" I 've been in the business more than a dozen 
years. Before that, I was an auctioneer's, and then 
a furniture broker's, porter. I wasn't brought up to 
any regular trade, but just to jobbing about, and 
a bad trade it is, as all trades is that ain't regular 
employ for a man. I had some money when my 
father died — he kept a chandler's shop — and I 
bought a marine." [An elliptical form of speech 
among these traders.] "I gave 10^. for the stock, 
and 6/. for entrance and good-will, and agreed 
to pay what rents and rates was due. It was a 
smallish stock then, for the business had been 
neglected, but I have no reason to be sorry for 
my bargain, though it might have been better. 
There 's lots tiiken in about good-wills, but perhaps 
not so many in my way of business, because we 're 
rather 'fly to a dodge.' It 's a confined sort of life, 
but there 'a no help for that. Why, as to ray way 
of trade, you 'd be surprised, what different sorts 
of people come to my shop. I don't mean the 
regular hands ; but the chance comers. I 've had 
men dressed like gentlemen— and no doubt they 
was respectable when they was sober — bring two 
or three books, or a nice cigar case, or anythink 
that don't show in their pockets, and say, when as 
drunk as blazes, * Give me what you can for this ; 
I want it sold for a particular purpose.' That par- 
ticular purpose was more drink, I should say; and 
I 've known the same men come back in less than 
a week, and buy what they 'd sold me at a little 
extra, and be glad if I had it by me still. 0, we 
sees a deal of things in this way of life. Yes, 
poor people run to such as me. I 've known them 
come with such things as teapots, and old hair 
mattresses, and flock beds, and then I 'm sure 
they 're hard up — reduced for a meal. I don't 
like buying big things like mattresses, though I do 
purchase 'em sometimes. Some of these sellers are 
as keen as Jews at a bargain ; others seem only 
anxious to get rid of the things and have hold of 
some bit of money anyhow. Yes, sir, I 've known 
their hands tremble to receive the money, and 
mostly the women's. They haven't been used to 
it, I know, when that 'fl the case. Perhaps they 
comes to sell to me what the pawns won't tike in, 
and what they wpuldn't like to be seen selling to 
any of the men that goes about buying things in 
the street. 

" Why, I 'vo bought evcrythink ; at sales by 
auction there's often 'lots' made up of differ- 
ent things, and they goes for very little. I 
buy of people, too, that come to nic, and of the 
regular hands that supply such shops as mine. I 
sell retail, and I sell to hawkers. I sell to 
anybody, for gentlemen '11 come into my sh^p to 
buy anythink that 's took their fancy in passing. 
Yes, I 've bought old oil paintings. I 've heard 
of some being bought by people in ray way as 
have tamed out stunners, and was sold for a 





hundred pounds or more, and cost, perhaps, half- 
a-crown or only a shilling. I never experienced 
such a tiling myself. There 's a good deal of gammon 
about it. Well, it 'a hardly possible to say anything 
about a scale of prices. I give 2d. for an old tfn 
or metal teapot, or an old saucepan, and some- 
times, two days after I 've bouglit such a thing, 
I 've sold it for 3(^. to the man or woman I 've 
bought it of. I '11 sell cheaper to them than to any- 
body else, because they come to me in two ways — 
both as sellers and buyers. For pictures I've given 
from Zd. to Is. I fancy they 're among the last 
things some sorts of poor people, which is a bit 
fanciful, parts with. I 've bought them of 
hawkers, but often I refuse them, as they 've given 
more than I could get. Pictures requires a judge. 
Some brought to me was published by newspapers 
and them sort of people. Waste-paper I buy as 
it comes. I can't read very much, and don't un- 
derstand about books. I take the backs off and 
■weighs them, and gives \d., and l^d., and 2tZ. 
a pound, and there 's an end. I sell them at 
about \d. a pound profit, or sometimes less, to men 
as we calls 'waste' men. It's a poor part of 
our business, but the books and paper takes up 
little room, and then it 's clean and can be stowed 
anywhere, and is a sure sale. Well, the people 
as sells 'waste' to me is not such as can read, I 
think; I don't know what they is; perhaps they 're 
such as obtains possession of the books and what- 
not after the death of old folks, and gets them 
out of the way as quick as they can. I know 
nothink about what they are. Last week, a man 
in black — he didn't seem rich — came into my 
shop and looked at some old books, and said ' Have 
you any black lead? He didn't speak plain, and 
I could hardly catch him. I said, * No, sir, I don't 
sell black lead, but you '11 get it at No. 27,' but 
he answered, ' Not black lead, but black letter,' 
speaking very pointed. I said, * No,' and I 
haven't a notion what he meant. 

" Metal (copper) that I give 5cZ. or 6\d. for, 
I can sell to the merchants from Q\d. to %d. the 
pound. It 's no great trade, for they '11 often 
throw things out of the lot and say they 're not 
metal. Sometimes, it would hardly be a farthing 
in a shilling, if it war'n't for the draught in the 
scales. When we buys metal, we don't notice the 
quarters of the pounds ; all under a quarter goes 
for nothink. When we buys iron, all under half 
pounds counts nothink. So when we buys by the 
pound, and sells by the hundredweight, there 's a 
little help from this, which we calls the draught. 

" Glass bottles of all qualities I buys at three 
for a halfpenny, and sometimes four, up to 2d. a- 
piece for 'good stouts' (bottled-porter vessels), but 
very seldom indeed 2(Z., unless it's something very 
prime and big like the old quarts (quart bottles). I 
seldom meddles with decanters. It 's very few 
decanters as is offered to me, either little or big, 
and I 'm shy of them when they are. There 's 
such a change in glass. Them as buys in the 
streets brings me next to nothing now to buy ; 
they both brought and bought a lot ten year back 
and later. I never was in the street-trade in 
second-hand, but it 's not what it was. I sell in 

the streets, when I put things outside, and know 
all about the trade. 

" It ain't a fortnight back since a smart female 
servant, in slap-up black, sold me a basket-full of 
doctor's bottles. I knew her master, and he hadn't 
been buried a week before she come to mo, and 
she said, ' missus is glad to get rid of them, for they 
makes her cry.' They often say their raissusses 
sends things, and that they 're not on no account 
to take less than so much. That 's true at times, 
and at times it ain't. I gives from \\d. to Zd. a 
dozen for good new bottles. I 'm sure I can't 
say what I give for other odds and ends ; iust as 
they 're good, bad, or indifferent. It's a queer trade. 
Well, I pay ni}-- way, but I don't know what I clear 
a week — about 21. I dare say, but then there 's 
rent, rates, and taxes to pay, and other expenses." 

The Dolly system is peculiar to the rag- 
and-bottle man, as well as to the marine-store 
dealer. The name is derived from the black 
wooden doll, in white apparel, which generally 
hangs dangling over the door of the marine-store 
shops, or of the " rag-and-bottles," but more fre- 
quently the last-mentioned. This type of the 
business is sometimes swung above their doors by 
those who are not dolly-shop keepers. The dolly- 
shops are essentially pawn-s!iops, and pawn-shops 
for the very poorest. There are many articles 
which the regular pawnbrokers decline to accept 
as pledges. Among these things are blankets, rugs, 
clocks, flock-beds, common pictures, '•' translated " 
boots, mended trowsers, kettles, saucepans, trays, 
&c. Such things are usually styled " lumber." A 
poor person driven to the necessity of raising a 
few pence, and unwilling to part finally with his 
lumber, goes to the dolly-man, and for the merest 
trifle advanced, deposits one or other of the articles 
I have mentioned, or something similar. For an 
advance of 2d. or Zd., a halfpenny a week is 
charged, but the charge is the same if the pledge 
be redeemed next day. If the interest be paid at 
the week's end, another If?, is occasionally advanced, 
and no extra charge exacted for interest. If the 
interest be not paid at the week or fortnight's end, 
the article is forfeited, and is sold at a large profit 
by the dolly-shop man. For 4c?. or Qd. advanced, 
the weekly interest is Id.) for dd. it is \\d.; 
for Is. it is 2d., and 2d. on each Is. up to 5s., 
beyond which sum the "dolly" will rarely go; in 
fact, he will rarely advance as much. Two poor 
Irish flower girls, whom I saw in the course of my 
inquiry into that part of street-traffic, had in the 
winter very often to pledge the rug under which 
they slept at a dolly-shop in the morning for Qd., 
in order to provide themselves with stock-money 
to buy forced violets, and had to redeem it on 
their return in the evening, when they could, for 
7d. Thus Qd. a week was sometimes paid for a 
daily advance of that sum. Some of these "illicit" 
pawnbrokers even give tickets. 

This incidental mention of what is really an 
immense trade, as regards the number of pledges, 
is all that is necessary under the present head of 
inquiry, but I purpose entering into this branch 
of the subject fully and minutely when I come to 
treat of the class of " distributors." 



The invjuities to which the poor are subject are 
posiuvely monstrous. A halfpenny a day interest 
on a loan of 2d. is at the rate of 7280 2>^ ^^^t- 
per annum ! 

Or TUE BrTERS of KiTcnEN-SicFF, Grease, 
AXD Drippikg. 
This body of traders cannot be classed as street- 
buyers, so that only a brief account is here neces- 
sary. The buyers are not now chance people, 
itinerant on any round, as at one period they 
were to a great extent, but they are the proprietors 
of the rag and bottle and marine-store shops, or 
those they employ. 

In this business there has been a considerable 
change. Until of late years women, often wear- 
ing suspiciously large cloaks and carrying baskets, 
ventured into perhaps every area in London, and 
asked for the cook at every house where they 
thought a cook might be kept, and this often at 
early morning. If the well-cloaked woman was 
known, business could be trnnsncted without 
delay : if she were a stranger, she recommended 
herself by offering very liberal terms for " kitchen- 
stuff.'' The cook's, or kitchen-maid's, or servant- 
of-all-work's " perquisites," were then generally 
disposed of to these collectors, some of whom were 
charwomen in the houses they resorted to for the 
purchase of the kitchen-stuff. They were often 
satisfied to purchase the dripping, &c., by the 
lump, estimating the weight and the value by the 
eye. In this tniffic was frequently mixed up a 
good deal of pilfering, directly or indirectly. Silver 
spoons were thus disposed of. Candles, purposely 
broken and crushed, were often part of the grease ; 
in the drippinc, butter occasionally added to the 
weight ; in the " stock " (the remains of meat 
boiled down for the making of soup) were some- 
tiroes portions of excellent meat fresh from the 
joints which had been carved at table; and among 
the broken bread, might be frequently seen small 
loaves, unbroken. 

There is no doubt that this mode of traffic by 
itinerant charwomen, &c., is still carried on, but 
to a much snialier extent than formerly. The 
cook's perquisites are in many cases sold under 
the inspection of the mistress, according to agree- 
ment ; or taken to the shop by the cook or some 
fellow-servant ; or else sent for by the shopkeeper. 
This is done to check the confidential, direct, and 
immediate trade-intercourse between merely two 
individiuils, the buyer and seller, by making the 
transaction more open and regular. I did not hear 
of any persons who merely purchase the kitchen- 
stuff, as ttrect-buyerfl, and sell it at once to the 
tallow-melter or the soap-boiler ; it appears all to 
tind itji way to the shops I have described, even 
when bought by charwomen ; while the »hop- 
keepers tend for it or receive it in the way I 
have stated, so that there u bat little of street 
traffic in the matter. 

One uf these shopkeepers told me that in this 
tradiiitr, as far as his own opinion went, there was 
as much trickery as ever, and that many gentle- 
, folk quietly made up their minds to submit to it, 
while others, be said, "kept the house in hot 

water " by resisting it. I found, however, the 
general opinion to be, that wlien servants could 
only dispose of these things to known people, the 
responsibility of the buyer as well as the seller 
was increased, and acted as a preventive check. 

The price for kitchen-stuff is Id. and l\d. the 
pound ; for dripping — used by the poor as a sub- 
stitute for butter — S^e?. to 5c^ 

Of the Sxreet-IBuyeus of Hare and 
Rabbit Skins. 
These buyers are for the most part poor, old, or 
infirm people, and I am informed that the majority 
have been in some street business, and often as 
buyers, all their lives. Besides having derived 
this information from well-informed persons, I may 
point out that this is but a reasonable view of the 
case. If a mechanic, a labourer, or a gentleman's 
servant, resorts to the streets for his bread, or 
because he is of a vagrant " turn," he does not 
become a htiyer, but'a seller. Street-selling is the 
easier process. It is easy for a man to ascer- 
tain that oysters, for example, are sold wholesale 
at Billingsgate, and if he buy a bushel (as in 
the present summer) for 5s., it is not difficult 
to find out how many he can afford fur " a penny 
a lot." But the street-buyer must not only know 
what to give, for hare-skins for instance, but what 
he can depend upon getting from the hat-manu- 
facturers, or hat-furriers, and upon having a regular 
market. Thus a double street-trade knowledge is 
necessary, and a novice will not care to meddle 
with any form of open-air traffic but the simplest. 
Neither is street-buying (old clothes excepted) 
generally cared for by adults who have health and 

In the course of a former inquiry I received an 
account of hareskin-buying from a woman, upwards 
of fifty, who had been in the trade, she told me, 
from childhood, " as was her mother before her." 
The husbandj who was lame, and older than his 
wife, had been all his life a field-catcher of birds, 
and a street-seller of hearth-stones. They had 
been married 31 years, and resided in a garret 
of a house, in a street off Drury-lane — a small 
room, with a close smell about it. The room was 
not unfurnished — it was, in fact, crowded. There 
were bird-cages, with and without birds, over what 
uas once a bed ; for the bed, just prior to my visit, 
had been sold to pay the rent, and a month's rent 
was again in arrear ; and there were bird-cages on 
the wall by the door, and bird-cages over the 
mantelshelf. There was furniture, too, and 
crockery ; and a vile oil painting of " still life ;" 
but an eye used to the furniture in the rooms of 
the poor could at once perceive that there was not 
one article which could be sold to a broker or 
marine-store dealer, or pledged at a pawn-shop. 
I was told the man and woman both drank hard. 
The woman said : — 

" I 've sold hareskins all my life, sir, and was 
bom in L')ndon ; but when hareskins isn't in, 
I sells flowers. I goes about now (in November) 
for my skins every day, wet or dry, and all day 
long-that is, till it's dark. To-day I've not 
bid out a penny, but then it 's been such a day 



for rain. I reckon that if I gets hold of eighteen 
bare and rabbit skins in a day, that is my greatest 
day's work. I gives Id. for good hares, what 's 
not riddled much, and sells them all for 2 Jc?. I sells 
what I pick up, by the twelve or the twenty, if 
I can afford to keep them by me till that num- 
ber 's gathered, to a Jew. I don't know what is 
done witli them. I can't tell you just what use 
they 're for — something about hats." [The Jew 
was no doubt a hat-furrier, or supplying a hat- 
furrier.] " Jews gives us better prices than 
Christians, and buys readier; so I find. Last 
week I sold all I bought for 35. 6c?. I take 
some Aveeks as much as 8s. for what I pick 
up, and if I could get that every week I should 
think myself a ladj-. The profit left me a clear 
half-crown. There's no difference in any per- 
ticler year — only that things gets worse. The 
game laws, as far as I knows, hasn't made no 
difference in my trade. Indeed, I can't say I 
knows anything about game laws at all, or hears 
anything consarning 'em. I goes along the squares 
and streets. I buys most at gentlemen's houses. 
We never calls at hotels. The servants, and the 
women that chars, and washes, and jobs, mannges 
it there. Hareskins is in — leastways I c'lects 
them — from September to the end of March, 
when hares, they says, goes mad, I can't say 
what I makes one week with another — perhaps 
25. 6c?. may be cleared every week." 

These buyers go regular rounds, carrying the 
skins in their hands, and crying, " Any hare- 
fikins, cook ? Hareskins." It is for the most 
part a winter trade ; but some collect the skins 
all the year round, as the hares are now vended 
the year through; but by far the most are 
gathered in the winter. Grouse may not be 
killed excepting from the 12th, and black-game 
from the 20th of August to the 10th of De- 
cember ; partridges from the 1st of September to 
the 1st of February ; while the pheasant suffers 
a shorter season of slaughter, from the 1st of 
October to the 1st of February ; but there is no 
time restriction as to the killing of hares or of 
rabbits, though custom causes- a cessation for a 
few months. 

A lame man, apparently between 50 and 60, 
with a knowing look, gave me the following ac- 
count. "When I saw him he was carrying a few 
tins, chiefly small dripping-pans, under his arm, 
which he offered for sale as he went his round 
collecting hare and rabbit-skins, of which he carried 
but one. He had been in the streets all his life, 
as his mother — he never knew any father — was a 
rag-gatherer, and at the same time a street-seller 
of the old brimstone matches and papers of pins. 
My informant assisted his mother to make and 
then to sell the matches. On her last illness she 
was received into St. Giles's workhouse, her son 
supporting himself out of it; she had been dead 
many years. lie could not read, and had never 
been in a church or chapel in his life. " He had 
been married," he said, " for about a dozen years, 
and had a very good wife, who was also a street- 
trader until her death ; but " we didn't go to church 
or anywhere to be married," he told me, in reply to 

my question, " for we really couldn't afford to pay 
the parson, and so we took one another's words. 
If it 's so good to go to church for being mar- 
ried, it oughtn't to cost a poor man nothing ; he 
shouldn't be charged for being good. I doesn't 
do any business in town, but has my regular 
rounds. This is my Kentish and Camden-town 
day. I buys most from the servants at the bet- 
termost houses, and I 'd rather buy of them than 
the missusses, for some missusses sells their own 
skins, and they often want a deal for 'em. Why, 
just arter last Christmas, a young lady in that 
there house (pointing to it), after ordering me 
round to the back-door, came to me with two 
hareskins. They certainly was fine skins — werry 
fine. I said I'd give \\d. 'Come now, my 
good man,' says she," and the man mimicked her 
voice, "'let me have no nonsense. I can't be 
deceived any longer, either by you or my ser- 
vants ; so give me 8<?., and go about your busi- 
ness.' Well, I went about my business ; and a 
woman called to buy them, and offered id. for 
the two, and the lady was so wild, the servant 
told me arter; howsomever she only got id. at last. 
She 's a regular screw, but a fine-dressed one. I 
don't know that there 's been any change in my 
business since hares was sold in the shops. If 
there's more skins to sell, there's more poor 
people to buy. I never tasted hares' flesh in my 
life, though I 've gathered so many of their skins. 
I 've smelt it when they 've been roasting them 
where I 've called, but don't think I could eat 
any. I live on bread and butter and tea, or 
milk sometimes in hot weather, and get a bite of 
fried fish or anything when I 'm out, and a drop 
of beer and a smoke when I get home, if I can 
afford it. I don't smoke in my own place, I uses 
a beer-shop. I pay I5. Qd. a week for a small 
room ; I want little but a bed in it, and have my 
own. I owe three weeks' rent now; but I do 
best both with tins and hareskins in the cold 
weather. Monday 's my best day. 0, as to rab- 
bit-skins, I do werry little in them. Them as 
sells them gets the skins. Still there is a few to 
be picked up ; such as them as has been sent 
as presents from the country. Good rabbit-skins 
is about the same price as hares, or perhaps 
a halfpenny lower, take them, all through. I 
generally clears M. a dozen on my hare and 
rabbit-skins, and sometimes %d. Yes, I should 
say that for about eight months I gathers four 
dozen every week, often five dozen. I suppose I 
make 55. or 65. a week all the year, with one 
thing or other, and a lame man can't do wonders, 
I never begged in my life, but I 've twice had 
help from the parish, and that only when I was 
very bad (ill). 0, I suppose -I shall end in the 
great house." 

There are, as closely as I can ascertain, at 
least 50 persons buying skins in the street ; and 
calculating that each collects 50 skins weekly for 
32 weeks of the year, we find 80,000 to be the 
total. This is a reasonable computation, for there 
are upwards of 102,000 hares consigned yearly 
to Newgate and Leadenhall markets ; while the 
rabbits sold yearly in London amount to about 



1,000,000; but, as I have shown, very few of 
their skins are disposed of to street- buyers. 

Of the Sxreet-Bctehs of Waste (Paper). 
Betokd all others the street-piirchase of waste 
paper is the most curious of any in the hands of 
the class I now treat of. Some may have formed 
the notion that waste paper is merely that which 
is soiled or torn, or old numbers of newspapers, or 
other periodical publications; but this is merely a 
portion of the trade, as the subsequent account 
will show. 

The men engaged in this business have not 
onfrequently an apartment, or a large closet, or 
recess, for the reception of their purchases of paper. 
They collect their paper street by street, calling 
upon every publisher, coffee-shi<p keeper, printer, 
or publican (but rarely on a publican), who may 
be a seller of " waste." I heard the refuse paper 
called nothing but " waste " after the general 
elliptical fashion. Attorneys' offices are often 
Tisited by these buyers, as are the offices of public 
men, such as tax or rate collectors, generally. 

One man told me that until about ten years 
ago, and while he was a youth, he was em- 
ployed by a relation in the trade to carry out 
waste paper sold to, or ordered by cheesemongers, 
Ac, but that he never "collected," or bought 
paper himself. At last he thought he would 
start on his own account, and the first person he 
called upon, he said, was a rich landlady, not far 
from Hungerford-market, whom he saw sometimes 
at her bar, and who was always very civil. He 
took an opportunity to ask her if she " happened 
to have any waste in the house, or would have 
any in a week or so V Seeing the landlady look 
surprised and not very weU pit ased at what cer- 
tainly appeared an impertinent inquiry, he has- 
tened to explain that he meant old newspapers, or 
anything that way, which he would be glad to 
buy at so much a pound. The landlady however 
took in but one daily and one weekly paper (both 
sent into the countiy when a day or so old), and 
having had no dealings with men of my inform- 
ant's avocation, could not understand his object in 
putting such questions. 

Every kind of paper is purchased by the 
" waste-men." One of these dealers said to me ; 
" I 've often in my time ' cleared out ' a lawyer's 
office. I 've bought old briefs, and other law 
papers, and ' forms ' that weren't the regular forms 

then, and any d d thing they had in my line. 

You '11 excuse me, sir, but 1 couldn't help thinking 
what a lot of misery was caused, perhaps, by the 
ewts. of waste I 've bought at such places. If my 
Cather hadn't got mixed up with law he wouldn't 
hate been rnmed, and bis children wouldn't have 
had ittch ft hard fight of it ; so I hate law. All 
that happened when I was a child, and I never 
understood the right* or the wrongs of it, and 
don't like to think of people that 's so foolish. I 
gave l^d. a pound for all I bcmght at the lawyers, 
and done pretty well with it, but very likely 
that's the only good turn such paper ever did 
any one— nnless it were the lawyers themselves." 

The waste^lealers do not confine their purcbaMS 

to the tradesmen I have mentioned. They buy 
of any one, and sometimes act as middlemen or 
brokers. For instance, many small sUitioners and 
newsvendors, sometimes tobacconists in no exten- 
sive way of trade, sometimes chandlers, announce 
by a bill in their windows, " Waste Paper Bought 
and Sold in any Quantity," while more frequently 
perhaps the trade is carried on, as an understood 
part of these small shopmen's business, without 
any announcement. Thus the shop-buyers have 
much miscellaneous waste brought to them, and 
perhaps for only some particular kind have they a 
demand by their retail customers. The regular 
itinerant waste dealer then calls and " clears out 
everything" the "everything" being not an un- 
meaning word. One man, who " did largely in 
waste," at my request endeavoured to enumerate 
all the kinds of paper he had purchased as waste, 
and the packages of paper he showed me, ready 
for delivery to his customers on the following day, 
confirmed all he said as he opened them and 
showed me of what they were composed. He had 
dealt, he said — and he took great pains and great 
interest in the inquiry, as one very curious, and 
was a respectable and intelligent man — in "books 
on every subject" [I give his own words] "on which 
a book can be written." After a little considera- 
tion he added : " Well, perhaps even/ subject is a 
wide range ; but if there are any exceptions, it 's 
on subjects not known to a busy man like me, 
who is occupied from morning till night every 
week day. The only worldly labour I do on a 
Sunday is to take my family's dinner to the bake- 
house, bring it home after chapel, and read Lloyd's 
Weekly. I 've had Bibles — the backs are taken off 
in the waste trade, or it wouldn't be lair weight — 
Testaments, Prayer-books, Companions to the Altar, 
and Sermons and religious works. Yes, I 've 
had the Roman Catholic books, as is used in their 
public worship — at least so I suppose, for I never 
was in a Roman Catholic chapel. Well, it 's hard 
to say about proportions, but in my opinion, as 
far as it 's good for anything, I 've not had them 
in anything like the proportion that I 've had 
Prayer-books, and Watts' and Wesley's hymns. 
More shame ; but you see, sir, perhaps a godly 
old man dies, and those that follow him care nothing 
for hymn-books, and so they come to such as me, 
for they 're so cheap now they 're not to be sold 
second-hand at all, I fancy. I 've dealt in tragedies 
and comedies, old and new, cut and uncut — they 're 
best uncut, for you can make them into sheets 
then — and farces, and books of the opera. I 've 
had scientific and medical works of every possible 
kind, and histories, and travels, and lives, and 
memoirs. I needn't go through them — every- 
thing, from a needle to an anclior, as the saying 
is. Poetry, ay, many a hundred weight ; Latin 
and Greek (sometimes), and French, and other 
foreign langtuiges. Well now, sir, as you mention 
it, I think I never did have a Hebrew work ; I 
think not, and I know the Hebrew letters when I 
see them. Black letter, not once in a couple of 
years ; no, nor in three or four years, when I 
tliiuk of it. I have met with it, but I always take 
anything I 've got that way to Mr. , the 



bookseller, who uses a poor man well. Don't you 
think, sir, I "m complaining of poverty ; though 
I have been very poor, when I was recovering 
from cholera at the first break-out of it, and I 'm 
anything but rich now. Pamphlets I 've had by 
the ton, in my time ; I think we should both be 
tired if I could go through all they were about. 
Very many v.-ere religious, more 'a the pity. I 've 
heard of a page round a quarter of cheese, though, 
touching a ni:in's heart," 

In corroboration of my informant's statement, I 
may mention that in the course of my inquiry into 
the condition of the fixncy cabinet-makers of the 
metropolis, one elderly and very intelligent man, 
a first-rate artisan in skill, told me he had been so 
reduced in the world by the underselling of slop- 
masters (called "butchers" or "slaughterers," by 
the workmen in the trade), that though in his 
youth he could take in the News and Examiner 
papers (each he believed 9c?. at that time, but was 
not certain), he could afford, and enjoyed, no read- 
ing when I saw him last autumn, bej'ond the 
book-leaves in which he received his quarter of 
cheese, his small piece of bacon or fresh meat, or 
his saveloys ; and his wife schemed to go to the 
shops who "wrapped up their things from books," 
in order that he might have something to read 
after his day's work. 

My informant went .on with his specification : 
" Missionary papers of all kinds. Parliamentary 
papers, but not so often new ones, very largely. 
Railway prospectuses, with plans to some of them, 
nice engravings; and the same with other joint- 
stock companies. Children's copy-books, and 
cyphering-books. Old account-books of every kind. 
A good many j^ears ago, I had some that must 
have belonged to a West End perfumer, there was 
such French items for Lady this, or the Honour- 
able Captain that. I remember there was an 
Hon. Capt. G., and almost at every second page 
was *100 tooth-picks, 3s. Qd.' I think it was 
35. Qd.) in arranging this sort of waste one now 
and then gives a glance to it. Dictionaries of every 
sort, I 've had, but not so commonly. Music 
books, lots of them. Manuscripts, but only if 
they 're rather old ; well, 20 or 30 years or so : 
I call that old. Letters on every possible subject, 
but not, in my experience, any very modern ones. 
An old man dies, you see, and his papers are sold 
off, letters and all ; that 's the way ; get rid of 
all the old rubbish, as soon as the old boy 's 
pointing his toes to the sky. What 's ofd letters 
worth, when the writers are dead and buried] 
why, perhaps \\d. a pound, and it's a rattling 
big letter that will weigh half-an-ounce. 0, it 's 
a queer trade, but there 's many worse." 

The letters which I saw in another waste- 
dealer's possession were 45 in number, a small 
collection, I was told ; for the most part they were 
very dull and common-place. Among them, 
however, was the following, in an elegant, and 
I presume a female hand, but not in the modern 
fashionable style of handwriting. The letter 
is evidently old, the address is of West-end 
gentility, but I leave out name and other parti- 
cularities : — 

" Mrs. [it is not easy to judge whether the 

flourished letters are ' Mrs." or 'Miss,' but certainly 

more like ' Mrs.'] Mrs. (Zoological Artist) ^l^csents 

her compliments to Mr. , and being commissioned 

to communicate with a gentleman of the name, recently 
arrived at Charing-cross, and presumed by description 
to be himself, in a matter of delicacy and confidence, in- 
dispensably verbal ; begs to say, that if interested in the 
ecclaircissement and necessary to the same, she may be 
found in attendance, any afternoon of the current week, 
from 3 to G o'clock, and no other hours. 

" street, square. 

" Monday Morn, for the aftn., at home." 

Among the books destined to a butcher, I 
found three perfect numbers of a sixpenny perio- 
dical, published a few years back. Three, or 
rather two and a half, numbers of a shilling 
periodical, with " coloured engravings of the 
fashions." Two (imperfect) volumes of French 
Plays, an excellent edition ; among the plays 
were Athalie, Iphigenie, Phedre, Les Freres 
Ennemis, Alexandre, Andromaque, Les Plai- 
deurs, and Esther. A music sheet, headed " A 
lonely thing I would not be." A few pages 
of what seems to have been a book of tales : 
" Album d'un Sourd-Muet " (36 pages in the 
pamphlet form, quite new). All these constituted 
about twopennyworth to the butcher. Notwith- 
standing the variety of sources from which the 
supply is derived, I heard from several quarters 
that " waste never was so scarce " as at present ; 
it was hardly to be had at all. 

The purchasers of the waste-paper from the 
collectors are cheesemongers, buttermen, butchers, 
fishmongers, poulterers, pork and sausage-sellers, 
sweet-stuff-sellers, tobacconists, chandlers — and 
indeed all who sell provisions or such luxuries as 
I have mentioned in retail. Some of the whole- 
sale provision houses buy very largely and sell the 
waste again to their customers, who pay more for 
it by such a medium of purchase, but they have 
it thus on credit. Any retail trader in provisions 
at all " in a large way," will readily buy six or 
seven cwt. at a time. The price given by them 
varies from l\d. to Z\d. the pound, but it is very 
rarely either so low or so high. The average price 
may be taken at I85, the cwt., which is not quite 
2d, a pound, and at this rate I learn from the 
best-informed parties there are twelve tons sold 
weekly, or 1624 tons yearly (1,397,760 lbs.), at 
the cost of 11,232^. One man in the trade was 
confident the value of the waste paper sold could 
not be less than 12,000/. in a year. 

There are about 60 men in this trade, nearly 
50 of whom live entirely, as it was described to 
me, " by their waste," and bring up their families 
upon it. The others unite some other avocation 
with it. The earnings of the regular collectors 
vary from 15s. weekly to 35s. accordingly as they 
meet with a supply on favourable terms, or, as they 
call it, " a good pull in a lot of waste." They 
usually reside in a private room with a recess, or 
a second room, in which they sort, pjick, and keep 
their paper. 

One of these traders told me that he was 
satisfied that stolen paper seldom found its way, 
directly, into the collectors' hands, " particularly 
publisher's paper," he added. " Why, not long 
since there was a lot of sheets stolen from Alder- 



man Kelly's warehouse, and the thief didn't take 
them to a waste dealer ; he knew better. He 
took them, sir, to a tradesman in a large respect- 
able way over the water — a man that uses great 
lots of waste — and sold them at just what was 
handed to him : I suppose no questions asked. 
The thief was tried and convicted, but nothing 
was done to the buyer." 

It must not be supposed that the waste-paper 
used by the London tradesmen costs no more than 
12,000/. in a year. A large quantity is bought 
direct by butchers and others from poor persons 
going to them with a small quantity of their 
own accumulating, or with such things as copy- 

Op the Street-Buyers o» Umbrellas 
AKD Parasols. 

The street-traders in old umbrellas and parasols 
are numerous, but the buying is but one part, and 
the least skilled part, of the business. Men, some 
tolerably well-dressed, some swarthy-looking, like 
gipsies, and some with a vagabond aspect, may be 
seen in all quarters of the town and suburbs, 
carrj-ing a few ragged-looking umbrellas, or the 
sticks or ribs of umbrellas, under their arms, and 
crying ** Umbrellas to mend," or " Any old um- 
brellas to sell \" The traffickers in umbrellas are 
also the crockmen, who are always glad to ob- 
tain them in barter, and who merely dispose of 
them at the Old Clothes Exchange, or in Petti- 

The umbrella-menders are known by an ap- 
pellation of an appropriateness not uncommon in 
street language. They are mushroom-faiers. 
The form of the expanded umbrella resembles 
that of a mushroom, and it has the further charac- 
teristic of being rapidly or suddenly raised, the 

mushroom itself springing up and attaining its full 
size in a very brief space of time. The term, 
however, like all street or popular terras or phrases) 
has become very generally condensed among those 
who carry on the trade — they are now vutsfc- 
fakers, a word which, to any one who has not 
heard the term in full, is as meaningless as any 
in the vocabulary of slang. 

The mushroom-fiikers will repair any umbrella 
on the owner's premises, and their work is often 
done adroitly, I am informed, and as often 
bunglingly, or, in the trade term, " botched." So 
far there is no traffic in the business, the mushroom- 
faker simply performing a piece of handicraft, and 
being paid for the job. But there is another class 
of street-folk who buy the old umbrellas in Petti- 
coat-lane, or of the street buyer or collector, and 
" sometimes," as one of these men said to me, 
" we are our own buyers on a round." They mend 
the umbrellas — some of their wives, I am assured, 
being adepts as well as themselves — and offer them 
for sale on the approaches to the bridges, and at 
the corners of streets. 

The street umbrella trade is really curious. Not 
so very many years back the use of an umbrella 
by a man \^'as regarded as partaking of effeminacy, 
but now they are sold in thousands in the streets, 
and in the second-hand shops of Monmouth-street 
and such places. One of these street-traders told 
me that he had lately sold, but not to an extent 
which might encourage him to proceed, old silk 
umbrellas in the street for gentlemen to protect 
themselves from the rays of the sun. 

The purchase of umbrellas is in a groat degree 
mixed up with that of old clothes, of which I have 
soon to treat ; but from what I have stated it is 
evident that the umbrella trade is most connected 
with street-artisanship, and under that head 1 
shall describe it. 


ALinocoH my present inquiry relates to London 
life in London streets, it is necessary that I should 
briefly treat of the Jews generally, as an integral, 
but distinct and peculiar part of fctreet-life. 

That this ancient people were engaged in what 
may be called street-traffic in the earlier ages of 
oar history, as well as in the importation of spices, 
furs, fine leather, armour, drugs, and general 
merchandise, there can be no doubt ; nevertheless 
cunurrning this part of the subject there are but 
the most meagre accounts. 

Jews were settled in England as early as 730, 
and during the sway of the Saxon kings. They 
increased in number after the era of the Con- 
quest ; but it was not until the rapacity to which 
they were exposed in the reign of Stephen had 
in a great measure exhausted itself, and until 
the measures of Henry II. had given encourage- 
ment to commerce, and some degree of security 
to propertr in cities or congregated communities, 
that the Jews in England becaune numerous and 
wealthy. They then became active and enter- 

prising attendants at fairs, where the greater 
portion of the internal trade of the kingdom was 
carried on, and especially the traffic in the more 
valuable commodities, such as plate, jewels, 
armour, cloths, wines, spices, horses, cattle, &c. 
The agents of the great prelates and barons, and 
even of the ruling princes, purchased what they 
required at these fairs. St. Giles's fair, held at 
St. Giles's hill, not far from Winchester, con- 
tinued sixteen days. The fair was, as it were, 
a temporary city. There were streets of tents 
in every direction, in which the traders offered 
and displayed their wares. During the con- 
tinuance of the fair, business was strictly prohi- 
bited in Winchester, Southampton, and in every 
place within seven miles of St. Giles's hill. 
Among the tent-owners at such fairs were the 

At this period the Jews may be considered as 
one of the bodies of "merchant-stranger*," as 
they were called, settled in England for purposes 
of commerce. Among the other bodies of these j 



" strangers " were the Gferman " merchants of the 
steel-yard," the Lombards, the Caursini of Rome, 
the " merchants of the staple," and others. These 
were all corporations, and thriving corporations 
(when unmolested), and the Jews had also their 
Jewerie, or Judaisme, not for a " corporation " 
merely, but also for the requirements of their 
faith and worship, and for their living together. 
The London Jewerie was established in a place 
of which no vestige of its establishment now re- 
mains beyond the name — the Old Jewry. Here 
was erected the first synagogue of the Jews in 
England, which was defaced or demolished, 
Maitland states, by the citizens, after they had 
slain 700 Jews (other accounts represent that 
number as greatly exaggerated). This took place 
in 1263, during one of the many disturbances in 
the uneasy reign of Henry III. 

All this time the Jews amassed wealth by trade 
and usury, in spite of their being plundered and 
maltreated by the princes and other potentates — 
every one has heard of King John's having a 
Jew's teeth drawn — and in spite of their being 
reviled by the priests and hated by the people. 
The sovereigns generally encouraged " merchant- 
strangers." When the city of London, in 1289, 
petitioned Edward I. for " the expulsion of all 
merchant-strangers," that monarch answered, 
with all a monarch's peculiar regard for " great " 
men and " great " men only, " No ! the mer- 
chant-strangers are useful and beneficial to the 
great men of the kingdom, and I will not ex- 
pel them." But though the King encouraged, 
the people detested, all foreign traders, though 
not with the same intensity as they detested 
and contemned the Jews, for in that detes- 
tation a strong religious feeling was an ele- 
ment. Of this dislike to the merchant-strangers, 
very many instances might be cited, but I need 
give only one. In 1379, nearly a century after 
the banishment of the Jews, a Genoese merchant, 
a man of great wealth, petitioned Eichard II. for 
permission to deposit goods for safe keeping in 
Southampton Castle, promising to introduce so 
large a share of the commerce of tlie East into 
England, that pepper should be 4rf. a pound. 
" Yet the Londoners," writes Walsingham, but in 
£he quaint monkish Latin of the day, " enemies 
to the prosperity of their country, hired assas- 
sins, who murdered the merchant in the street. 
After this, what stranger will trust his person 
among a people so faithless and so crueU who will 
not dread our treachery, and abhor our name ?" 

In 1290, by a decree of Edward I., the Jews 
were banished out of England. The causes as- 
signed for this summary act, were "their ex- 
tortions, their debasing and diminishing the coin, 
and for other crimes." I need not enter into the 
merits or demerits of the Jews of that age, but it 
is certain that any ridiculous charge, any which it 
was impossible could be true, was an excuse for 
the plundering of them at the hands of the 
rich, and the persecution of them at the hands 
of the people. At the period of this banish- 
ment, their number is represented by the con- 
temporaneous historians to have been about 

16,000, a number most probably exaggerated, as 
perhaps all statements of the numbers of a people 
are when no statistical knowledge has been ac- 
quired. During this period of their abode in 
England, the Jews were protected as the villeins 
or bondsmen of the king, a protection disre- 
garded by the commonalty, and only giving to the 
executive government greater facilities of extortion 
and oppression. 

In 1655 an Amsterdam Jew, Eabbi Manasseh 
Ben-Israel, whose name is still highly esteemed 
among his countrymen, addressed Cromwell on the 
behalf of the Jews that they should be re-admitted 
into England with the sanction, and under the 
protection, of the law. Despite the absence of such 
sanction, they had resided and of course traded in 
this country, but in small numbers, and trading 
often in indirect and sometimes in contniband 
ways. Chaucer, writing in the days of Richard II., 
three reigns after their expulsion, speaks of Jews 
as living in England. It is reputed that, in the 
reigns of Elizabeth and the first James, they sup- 
plied, at great profit, the materials required by the 
alchyraists for their experiments in the transmuta- 
tion of metals. In Elizabeth's reign, too, Jewish 
physicians were highly esteemed in England. The 
Queen at one time confided the care of her health 
to RodrigoLopez, a Hebrew, who, however, was 
convicted of an attempt to poison his royal mistress. 
Francis I., of France, carried his opinion of Jewish 
medical skill to a great height ; he refused on one 
occasion, during an illness, to be attended by the 
most eminent of the Israelitish physicians, because 
the learned man had just before been converted to 
Christianity. The most Christian king, therefore, 
applied to his ally, the Turkish sultan, Solyman 
II., who sent him "a true hardened Jew," by 
whose directions Francis drank asses' milk and re- 

Cromwell's response to the application of Man- 
asseh Ben Israel was favourable ; but the Appor- 
tion of the Puritans, and more especially of Prynne, 
prevented any public declaration on the subject. 
In 1656, however, the Jews began to arrive and 
establish themselves in England, but not until after 
the restoration of Charles II,, in 1660, could it 
be said that, as a body, they were settled in Eng- 
land. They arrived from time to time, and with- 
out any formal sanction being either granted or 
refused. One reason alleged at the time was, that 
the Jews were well known to be money-lenders, 
and Charles and his courtiers were as well known 
money-borrowers ! 

I now come to the character and establishment 
of the Jews in the capacity in which I have more 
especially to describe them — as street-traders. 
There appears no reason to doubt that they com- 
menced their principal street traffic, the collecting 
of old clothes, soon after their settlement in London. 
At any rate the cry and calling of the Jew old 
clothesman were so established, 30 or 40 years 
after their return, or early in the last century, that 
one of them is delineated in Tempest's " Cries of 
London," published about that period. In this 
work the street Jew is represented as very different 
in his appearance to that which he presents in our 



day. Instead of merely a dingy bag, hung empty 
over his arm, or carried, when partially or wholly 
filled, on his shoulder, he is depicted as wearing, 
or rather carrying, three cocked hats, one over the 
other, upon his head ; a muflF, with a scarf or large 
handkerchief over it, is attached to his right hand 
and arm, and two dress swords occupy his left 
hand. The apparel which he himself wears is of 
the full-skirted style of the day, and his long hair, 
or periwig, descends to his shoulders. This dif- 
ference in appearance, however, between the street 
Jew of 1700 and of a century and a half later, is 
simply the effect of circumstances, and indicates 
no change in the character of the man. Were it 
now the fashion for gentlemen to wear muffs, 
swords, and cocked hats, the Jew would again 
have them in his possession. 

During the eighteenth century the popular feel- 
ing ran very high against the Jews, although to 
the masses they were almost strangers, except aa 
men employed in the not- very- formidable occupa- 
tion of collecting and vending second-hand clothes. 
The old feeling against them seems to have lin- 
gered among the English people, and their own 
greed in many instances engendered other and 
lawful causes of dislike, by their resorting to un- 
lawful and debasing pursuits. They were consi- 
dered — and with that exaggeration of belief dear 
to any ignorant community — aa an entire people 
of misers, usurers, extortioners, receivers of stolen 
goods, cheats, brothel-keepers, aheriff's-officers, 
clippers and sweaters of the coin of the realm, 
gaming-house keepers ; in fine, the charges, or 
rather the accusati,on8, of carrying on every dis- 
reputable trade, and none else, were " bundled at 
their doors." That there was too much foundation 
for many of these accusations, and still is, no rea- 
sonable Jew can now deny ; that the wholesale 
prejudice against them was absurd, is equally in- 

So strong was this popular feeling against the 
Israelites, that it not only influenced, and not only 
controlled the legistlature, but it coerced the Houses 
of Parliament to repeal, in 1754, an act which 
they had passed the previous session, and that act 
was merely to enable foreign Jews to be natural- 
ized without being required to take the sacrament! 
It was at that time, and while the popular ferment 
was at its height, unsafe for a Hebrew old clothes- 
man, however harmless a man, and however long 
and well known on his beat, to ply his street- 
calling openly ; for he was often beaten and mal- 
treated. Mobs, riots, pillagings, and attacks upon 
the houses of the Jews were frequent, and one of 
the favourite cries of the mob was certainly among 
the moet preposterously st'jpid of any which ever 
tickled the ear and satitticd the mind of the 
ignorant : — 

" No Jews ! 

No wooden shoes I * " 

Some mob-leader, with a taste for rhyme, had in 
this distich cleverly blended the prejudice against 
the Jews with the easily excited but vague fears 
of a French invaaion, which was in some strange 
way typified to the apprehensions of the vulgar as 
connected with slavery, popery, the compulsory 

wearing of wooden shoes {sabots), and the eating 
of frogs ! And this sort of feeling was often re- 
venged on the street-Jew, as a man mixed up 
with wooden shoes ! Cumberland, in the comedy 
of "The Jew," and some time afterwards Miss 
Edgeworth, in the tale of " Harrington and Or- 
mond," and both at the request of Jews, wrote 
to moderate this rabid prejudice. 

In what estimation the street, and, incidentally, 
all classes of Jews are held at the present time, 
will be seen in the course of my remarks ; and in 
the narratives to be given. I may here observe, 
however, that among some the dominant feeling 
against the Jews on account of their faith still 
flourishes, as is shown by the following statement : 
— A gentleman of my acquaintance was one 
evening, about twilight, walking down Brydges- 
street, Covent-garden, when an elderly Jew was 
preceding him, apparently on his return from a 
day's work, as an old clothesman. His bag acci- 
dentally touched the bonnet of a dashing woman 
of the town, who was passing, and she turned 
round, abused the Jew, and spat at him, saying 
with an oath : " You old rags humbug ! Foat 
can't do that ! " — an allusion to a vulgar notion 
that Jews have been unable to do more than 
slobber, since spitting on the Saviour. 

The number of Jews now in England is com- 
puted at 35,000. This is the result at which the 
Chief Rabbi arrived a few years ago, after collect- 
ing all the statistical information at his command. 
Of these 35,000, more than one-half, or about 
18,000, reside in London. I am informed that 
there may now be a small increase to this popu- 
lation, but only small, for many Jews have emi- 
j grated — some to California. A few years ago — 
I a circumstance mentioned in my account of the 
I Street-Sellers of Jewellery— there were a number 
of Jews known as " hawkers," or " travellers," 
who traverse every part of Enghuid selling 
watches, gold and silver pencil-cases, eye-glasses, 
and all the more portable descriptions of jewellery, 
as well as thermometers, barometers, telescopes, 
and microscopes. This trade is now little pursued, 
except by the stationary dealers ; and the Jews 
who carried it on, and who were chiefly foreign 
Jews, have emigrated to America. The foreign 
Jews who, though a fluctuating body, are always 
numerous in London, are included in the compu- 
tation of 18,000; of this population two-thirds 
reside in the city, or the streets adjacent to the 
eastern boundaries of the city. 

Ojf THE Trades and Locauties of tub 
The trades which the Jews most affect, I was 
told by one of themselves, are those in which, aa 
they describe it, "there's a chance;" that is, they 
prefer a trade in such commodity as is not sub- 
jected to a fixed price, so that there may bo 
abundant scope for speculation, and something 
like a gambler's chance for profit or loss. In 
this way, Sir Walter Scott has said, trade has 
"all the fascination of gambling, without the 
moral guilt;" but the absence of moral guilt in 
conuection with such trading is certainly dubious. 



The wholesale trades in foreign commodities 
which are now principally or solely in the hands of 
the Jews, often as importers and exporters, are, 
watches and jewels, sponges — fruits, especially green 
fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapes, walnuts, 
cocoa-nuts, &c., and dates among dried fruits — 
shells, tortoises, parrots and foreign birds, curiosi- 
ties, ostrich feathers, Enutfs, cigars, and pipes: 
but cigars far more extensively at one time. 

The localities in which these wholesale and re- 
tail traders reside are mostly at the East-end — in- 
deed the Jews of London, as a congregated body, 
have been, from the times when their numbers 
were sufficient to institute a " settlement " or 
" colony," peculiar to themselves, always resident 
in the eastern quarter of the metropolis. 

Of course a wealthy Jew millionaire — mer- 
chant, stock-jobber, or stock-broker — resides where 
he pleases — in a villa near the Marquis of Hert- 
ford's in the Regent's-park, a mansion near the 
Duke of Wellington's in Piccadilly, a house and 
grounds at Clapham or Stamford-hill ; but these 
are exceptions. The quarters of the Jews are not dif- 
ficult to describe. The trading-class in the capacity 
of shopkeepers, warehousemen, or manufacturers, 
are the thickest in Houndsditch, Aldgate, and the 
Minories, more especially as regards the " swag- 
shops" and the manufacture and sale of wearing 
apparel. The wholesale dealers in fruit are in 
Duke's-place and Pudding-lane (Thames-street), 
but the superior retail Jew fruiterers — some of 
whose shops are remarkable for the beauty of 
their frait — are in Cheapside, Oxford-street, Picca- 
dilly, and most of all in Covent-garden market. 
The inferior jewellers (some of whom deal with 
the first shops) are also at the East-end, about 
Whitechapel, Bevis-marks, and Houndsditch ; the 
wealthier goldsmiths and watchmakers having, 
like other tradesmen of the class, their shops in 
the superior thoroughfares. The great congrega- 
tion of working watchmakers is in Clerken- 
well, but in that locality there are only a few 
Jews. The Hebrew dealers in second-hand gar- 
ments, and second-hand wares generally, are 
located about Petticoat-lane, the peculiarities of 
■which place I have lately described. The manu- 
facturers of such things as cigars, pencils, and seal- 
ing-wax; the wholesale importers of sponge, bristles 
and toys, the dealers in quills and in "looking- 
glasses," reside in large private-looking houses, when 
display is not needed for purposes of business, in 
such parts as Maunsell-street, Great Prcscott-street, 
Great Ailie-street, Leman-street, and other parts 
of the eastern quarter known as Goodman's-fields. 
The wholesale dealers in foreign birds and shells, 
and in the many foreign things known as " curio- 
sities," reside in East Smithfield, Ratcliffe-highway, 
High-street (Shadwell), or in some of the parts 
adjacent to the Thames. In the long range of 
river-side streets, stretching from the Tower to 
Poplar and Blackwall, are Jews, who fulfil the 
many capacities of slop-sellers, &c., called into ex- 
ercise by the requirements of seafaring people on 
their return from or commencement of a voyage. 
A few Jews keep boarding-houses for sailors in 
Shadwell and Wapping. Of the localities and 

abodes of the poorest of the Jews I shall speak 

Concerning the street-trades pursued by the 
Jews, I believe there is not at present a single one 
of which they can be said to have a monopoly ; 
nor in any one branch of the street-traffic are 
there so many of the Jew traders as there were a 
few years back. 

This remarkable change is thus to be accounted 
for. Strange as the fact may appear, the Jew has 
been undersold in the streets, and he has been 
beaten on what might be called his own ground 
— the buying of old clothes. The Jew boys, 
and the feebler and elder Jews, had, until some 
twelve or fifteen years back, almost the monopoly 
of orange and lemon street-selling, or street-hawk- 
ing. The costermonger class had possession of 
the theatre doors and the approaches to the 
theatres ; they had, too, occasionally their barrows 
full of oranges ; but the Jews were the daily, as- 
siduous, and itinerant street-sellers of this most 
popular of foreign, and perhaps of all, fniits. In 
their hopes of sale they followed any one a mile 
if encouraged, even by a few approving glances. 
The great theatre of this traffic was in the stage- 
coach yards in such inns as the Bull and Mouth, 
(St, Martin's-le-Grand), the Belle Sauvage (Lud- 
gate-hill), the Saracen's Head (Snow-hill), the 
Bull (Aldgate), the Swan-with-two-Necks (Lad- 
lane, City), the George and Blue Boar (Holborn), 
the White Horse (Fetter-lane), and other such 
places. They were seen too, " with all their eyes 
about them," as one infonnant expressed it, out- 
side the inns where the coaches stopped to take 
up passengers — at the White Horse Cellar in 
Piccadilly, for instance, and the Angel and the 
(now defunct) Peacock in Islington. A commer- 
cial traveller told me that he could never leave 
town by any "mail" or "stage," without being 
besieged by a small army of Sew boys, who most 
pertinaciously offered him oranges, lemons, sponges, 
combs, pocket-books, pencils, sealing-wax, paper, 
many-bladed pen-knives, razors, pocket-mirrors, 
and shaving-boxes — as if a man could not possibly 
quit the metropolis without requiring a stock of 
such commodities. In the whole of these trades, 
unless in some degree in sponges and blacklead- 
pencils, the Jew is now out-numbered or dis- 

I have before alluded to the underselling of 
the Jew boy by the Irish boy in the street-orange 
trade ; but the characteristics of the change are so 
peculiar, that a further notice is necessary. It is 
curious to observe that the most assiduous, and 
hitherto the most successful of street-traders, were 
supplanted, not by a more persevering or more 
skilful body of street-sellers, but simply by a more 
starving body. 

Some few years since poor Irish people, and 
chiefly those connected with the culture of the 
land, "came over" to this country in great 
numbers, actuated either by vague hopes 
of "bettering themselves" by emigration, or 
working on the railways, or else influenced by 
the restlessness common to an impoverished 
people. These men, when unable to obtiiin em- 

- ^•^rf^x^:. 

Clo', Cr.c', Cio'. 

I'tT'-lO'yi f ?i li K > R D. ] 



ployment, without scrapie became street-sellers. 
Not only did the adults resort to street-traffic, 
generally in its simplest forms, such as hawking 
fruit, but the children, by %hom they were ac- 
companied from Ireland, in great numbers, were 
put into the trade ; and if two or three children 
earned 2d. a day each, and their parents M. or Qd. 
each, or even id., the subsistence of the family was 
better than they could obtain in the midst of the 
miseries of the southern and western part of the 
Sister Isle. An Irish boy of fourteen, having to 
support himself by street-trade, as was often the 
case, owing to the death of parents and to divers 
casualties, would undersell the Jew boys similarly 

The Irish boy could live harder than the Jew — 
often in his own country he subsisted on a stolen 
turnip a day ; he could lodge harder — lodge for Id. 
a night in any noisome den, or sleep in the open 
air, which is seldom done by the Jew boy ; he 
could dispense with the use of shoes and stock- 
ings — a dispensation at which his rival in trade 
revolted ; he drank only water, or if he took tea 
or cofifee, it was as a meal, and not merely as a 
beverage ; to crown the whole, the city-bred Jew 
boy required some evening recreation, the penny 
or twopenny concert, or a game at draughts or 
dominoes ; but this the Irish boy, country bred, 
never thought of, for his sole luxury was a deep 
sleep, and, being regardless or ignorant of all 
such recreations, he worked longer hours, and so 
sold more oranges, than his Hebrew competitor. 
Thus, as the Munster or Connaught lad could live 
on less than the young denizen of Petticoat-lane, 
be could sell at smaller profit, and did so sell, 
until gradually the Hebrew youths were displaced 
by the Irish in the street orange trade. 

It is the same, or the same in a degree, with 
other street-trades, which were at one time all but 
monopolised by the Jew adults. Among these 
were the street-sale of spectacles and sponges. 
The prevalence of slop-work and slop-wages, and 
the frequent difficulty of obtaining properly-re- 
munerated employment — the pinch of want, in 
short — have driven many mechanics to street- 
traffic ; so that the numbers of street-traffickers 
have been augmented, while no small portion of 
the new comers have adopted the more knowing 
street avocations, formerly pursued only by the 

Of the other class of street-traders who have 
interfered largely with the old-clothes trade, 
which, at one time, people seemed to consider a 
sort of birthright among the Jews, I have 
already spoken, when treating of the dealings of 
the crockmen in bartering glass and cr&ckery-ware 
for second-hand apparel. These traders now 
obtain aa many old clothes aa the Jew clothes 
men themselves; for, with a great number of 
"ladiea," the offer of an ornament of glass or 
spar, or of a beautiful and fragrant pLint, is more 
attractive than the offer of a small sum of money, 
for the ptircbaM of the left off garments of the 

The crockmen are usually strong and in the 
prime of youth or manhood, and are capable of 

carrying heavy burdens of glass or china-wares, 
for which the Jews are either incompetent or dis- 

Some of the Jews which have been thus dis- 
placed from the street-traffic have emigrated to 
America, with the assistance of their brethren. 

The principal street-trades of the Jews are now 
in sponges, spectacles, combs, pencils, accordions, 
cakes, sweetmeats, drugs, and fruits of all kinds; 
but, in all these trades, unless perhaps in drugs, 
they are in a minority compared with the " Chris- 
tian " street-sellers. 

There is not among the Jew street-sellers gene- 
rally anything of the concubinage or cohabitation 
common among the costermongers. Marriage is 
the rule. 

Op the Jew Old-Clothbs Men. 
Fifty years ago the appearance of the street- Jews, 
engaged in the purchase of second-hand clothes, 
was different to what it is at the present time. 
The Jew then had far more of the distinctive 
garb and aspect of a foreigner. He not unfre- 
quently wore the gabardine, which is never seen 
now in the streets, but some of the long loose 
frock coats worn by the Jew clothes' buyers re- 
semble it. At that period, too, the Jew's long 
beard was far more distinctive than it is in this 
hirsute generation. 

In other respects the street-Jew is unchanged. 
Now, as during the last century, he traverses 
every street, square, and road, with the mo- 
notonous cry, sometimes like a bleat, of " Clo' ! 
Clo* !" On this head, however, I have previously 
remarked, when describing the street Jew of a 
hundred years ago. 

In an inquiry into the condition of the old- 
clothes dealers a year and a half ago, a Jew gave 
me the following account. He told me, at the 
commencement of his statement, that he was of 
opinion that his people were far more speculative 
than the Gentiles, and therefore the English liked 
better to deal with them. " Our people," he said, 
" will be out all day in the wet, and begrudge 
themselves a bit of anything to eat till they go 
home, and then, may be, they '11 gamble away their 
crown, just for the love of speculation." My in- 
formant, who could write or speak several lan- 
guages, and had been 50 years in the business, 
then said, " I am no bigot ; indeed I do not care 
where I buy my meat, so long as I can get it. I 
often go into the Minories and buy some, without 
looking to how it has been killed, or whether it 
has a seal on it or not." 

He then gave me some account of the Jewish 
children, and the number of men in the trade, 
which I have embodied under the proper heads. 
The itinerant Jew clothes man, he told me, was 
generally the son of a former old-clothes man, but 
some were cigar-makers, or pencil-makers, taking 
to the clothes business when those trades were 
slack ; but that nineteen out of twenty had been 
born to it. If the parents of the Jew boy are 
poor, and the boy a sharp lad, he generally com- 
mences business at ten years of age, by selling 
lemons, or some trifle in the streets, and so, as he 



expressed it, the boy " gets a round," or street-con- 
nection, by becoming known to the neighbour- 
hoods he visits. If he sees a servant, he will, 
when selling his lemons, ask if she have any old 
shoes or old clothes, and offer to be a purchaser. 
If the clothes should come to more than the Jew 
boy has in his pocket, he leaves what silver he 
has as " an earnest upon them," and then seeks 
some regular Jew clothes man, who will advance 
the purchase money. This the old Jew agrees to 
do upon the understanding that he is to have 
*' half Rybeck," that is, a moiety of the profit, and 
then he will accompany the boy to the house, to 
pass his judgment on the goods, and satisfy him- 
self that the stripling has not made a blind bar- 
gain, an error into which he very rarely falls. 
After this he goes with the lad to Petticoat-lane, 
and there they share whatever money the clothes 
may bring over and above what has been paid for 
them. By such means the Jew boy gets his know- 
ledge of the old-clothes business ; and so quick are 
these lads generally, that in the course of two 
months they will acquire sufficient experience in 
connection with the trade to begin dealing on 
their own account. There are some, he told me, 
as sharp at 1 5 as men of 50. 

"It is very seldom," my informant stated, 
** very seldom indeed, that a Jew clothes man 
takes away any of the property of the house he 
may be called into. I expect there's a good 
many of 'em," he continued, for he sometimes 
spoke of his co-traders, as if they were not of his 
own class, "is fond of cheating — that is, they 
won't mind giving only 2s. for a thing that 's 
worth 5*. They are fond of money, and will do 
almost anything to get it. Jews are perhaps the 
most money-loving peopla in all England. There 
are certainly some old-clothes men who will buy 
articles at such a price that they must know them 
to have been stolen. Their rule, however, is to 
ask no questions, and to get as cheap an article as 
possible. A Jew clothes man is seldom or never 
seen in liquor. They gamble for money, either at 
their own homes or at public-houses. The 
favourite games are tossing, dominoes, and cards. 
I was informed, by one of the people, that he had 
seen as much as 30/. in silver ai.d gold lying upon 
the ground when two parties had been playing at 
throwing three halfpence in the air. On a Satur- 
day, some gamble away the morning and the 
greater part of the afternoon." [Saturday, I need 
hardly say, is the Hebrew Sabbath.] " They meet 
in some secret back place, .ibout ten, and begin 
playing for ' one a time ' — that is, tossing up 
three halfpence, and stiiking Is. on the result. 
Other Jews, and a few Christians, will gather 
round and bet. Sometimes the bets laid by the 
Jew bystanders are as high as 21. each ; and on 
more than one occasion the old-clothes men have 
wagered as much as 50/., but only after great 
gains at gambling. Some, if they can, will cheat, 
by means of a halfpenny with a head or a tail on 
both sides, called a * gray.' The play lasts till 
the Sabbath is nearly over, and then they go to 
business or the theatre. They seldom or never 
Kiy a word while they are losing, but merely 

stamp on the ground ; it is dangerous, though, to 
interfere when luck runs against them. The rule 
is, when a man is l^ing to let him alone. I have 
known them play for three hours together, and 
nothing be said all that time but * head ' or ' tail.' 
They seldom go to synagogue, and on a Sunday 
evening have card parties at their own houses. 
They seldom eat anything on their rounds. The 
reason is, not because they object to eat meat 
killed by a Christian, but because they are afraid 
of losing a ' deal,' or the chance of buying a lot of 
old clothes by delay. They are generally too 
lazy to light their own fires before they start of a 
morning, and nineteen out of twenty obtain their 
breakfasts at the coffee-shops about Houndsditch. 

" When they return from their day's work they 
have mostly some stew ready, prepared by their 
parents or wife. If they are not family men they 
go to an eating-house. This is sometimes a 
Jewish house, but if no one is looking they creep 
into a Christian * cook-shop,' not being particular 
about eating *tryfer' — that is, meat which has 
been killed by a Christian. Those that are single 
generally go to a neighbour and agree with him 
to be boarded on the Sabbath ; and for this the 
charge is generally about 2s. Qd. On a Saturday 
there 's cold fish for breakfast and supper ; indeed, 
a Jew would pawn the shirt off his back sooner 
than go without fish then ; and in holiday-time 
he will have it, if he has to get it out of the 
stones. It is not reckoned a holiday unless there 's 

" Forty years ago I have made as much as 5/. 
in a week by the purchase of old clothes in the 
streets," said a Jew informant. " Upon an average 
then, I could earn weekly about 21. But now 
things are different. People are more wide awake. 
Every one knows the value of an old coat now- 
a-days. The women know more than the men. The 
general average, I think, take the good weeks 
with the bad throughout the year, is about H. a 
week ; some weeks we get 21., and some scarcely 

I was told by a Jewish professional gentleman 
that the account of the spirit of gambling preva- 
lent among his people was correct, but the amounts 
said to be staked, he thought, rare or exaggerated. 

The Jew old-clothes men are generally far more 
cleanly in their habits than the poorer classes of 
English people. Their hands they always wash 
before their meals, and this is done whether the 
party be a strict Jew or " Meshumet," a convert, 
or apostate from Judaism. Neither will the 
Israelite ever use the same knife to cut his meat 
that he previously used to spread his butter, and 
he will not even put his meat on a plate that haa 
had butter on it ; nor will he use for his soup the 
spoon that has had melted butter in it. This ob- 
jection to mix butter with meat is carried so far, 
that, after partaking of the one, Jews will not 
eat of the other for the space of two hours. The 
Jews are generally, when married, most exemplary 
family men. There are few fonder fathers than 
they are, and they will starve themselves sooner 
than their wives and children should want. 
Whatever their faulu may be, they are good 



fathers, husbands, and sons. Their principal- 
characteristic is their extreme love of money ; and, 
though the strict Jew does not trade himself on 
the Sabbath, he may not object to employ either 
one of his tribe, or a Gentile, to do so for him. 

The capit;il required for commencing in the 
old-clothes line is generally about 1/. This the 
Jew frequently borrows, especially after holiday- 
time, for then he has generally spent all his earn- 
ings, unless he be a provident man. When his 
stock-money is exhausted, he goes either to a 
neighbour or to a publican in the vicinity, and 
borrows II. on the Monday morning, " to strike a 
light with," as he calls it, and agrees to return it 
on the Friday evening, with Is, interest for the 
loan. This he always pays back. If he was to 
sell the coat otT his back he would do this, I am 
told, because to fail in so doing would be to pre- 
vent his obtaining any stock-money for the future. 
"With this capital he starts on his rounds about 
eight in the morning, and I am assured he will 
frequently begin his work without tasting food, 
rather than break into the borrowed stock-money. 
Each man has his particular walk, and never in- 
terferes with that of his neighbour ; indeed, while 
upon another's beat he will seldom cry for clothes. 
Sometimes they go half " Rybeck " together — 
that is, they will share the profits of the day's busi- 
ness, and when they agree to do this the one will 
take one street, and the other another. The lov/er 
the neighbourhood the more old clothes are there 
for sale. At the east end of the town they like 
the neighbourhoods frequented by sailors, and 
there they purchase of the girls and the women 
the sailors' jackets and trowscrs. But they buy 
most of the Petticoat-lane, the Old-Clothes Ex- 
change, and the marine-store dealers; for as the Jew 
clothes man never travels the streets by night-time, 
the parties who then have old clothes to dispose 
of usually sell them to the marine-store or second- 
hand dealers over-night, and the Jew buys them 
in the morning. The first thing that he does on 
his rounds is to seek out these shops, and see 
what he can pick up there. A very great amount 
of business is done by the Jew clothes man at the 
marine-store shops at the west as well as at the 
east end of London. 

At the West-end the itinerant clothes men pre- 
fer the mews at the back of gentlemen's houses 
to all other places, or else the streets where the 
little tradesmen and small genteel families reside. 
My informant assured me that he had once bought 
a Bishop's hat of his lordship's servant for 1$. 6d. 
on a Sunday morning. 

These traders, as I have elsewhere stated, live 
at the Kast^nd of the town. The greater number 
of them reside in Portsoken Ward, Houndsditch ; 
and their favourite localities in this district are 
either Cobb's-yanI, Roper's-building, or Went- 
worth-street They mostly occupy small houses, 
about 4s. 6d. a week rent, and live with their 
families. They are generally sober men. It is 
seldom that a Jew leaves bis bouse and owes his 
Undlord money ; and if his goods should be seized 
the rest of bi« tribe will go roond and collect what 
is owing. 

The rooms occupied by the old-clothes men are 
far from being so comfortable as those of the Eng- 
lish artizans whose earnings are not superior to 
the gains of these clothes men. Those which I 
saw had all a littered look ; the furniture was old 
and scant, and the apartment seemed neither 
shop, parlour, nor bed-room. For domestic and 
family men, as some of the Jew old-clothes men 
are, they seem very indifferent to the comforts of 
a home. 

I have spoken of " Tryfer," or meat killed in 
the Christian fashion. Now, the meat killed ac- 
cording to the Jewish law is known as " Coshar," 
and a strict Jew will eat none other. In one of 
my letters in the Morning Chronicle on the meat 
markets of London, there appeared the following 
statement, respecting the Jew butchers in White- 

" To a portion of the meat here exposed for 
sale, may be seen attached the peculiar seal which 
shows that the animal was killed conformably to 
the Jewish rites. According to the injunctions of 
this religion the" beast must die from its throat 
being cut, instead of being knocked on the head. 
The slaughterer of the cattle for Jewish con- 
sumption, moreover, must be a Jew. Two 
slaughterers are appointed by the Jewish autho- 
rities of the synagogue, and they can employ 
others, who must be likewise Jews, as assistants. 
The slaughterers I saw were quiet-looking and 
quiet-mannered men. When the animal is 
slaughtered and skinned, an examiner (also ap- 
pointed by the synagogue) carefully inspects the 
' inside.' ' If the lights be grown to the ribs,' 
said my informant, who had had many years' ex- 
perience in this branch of the meat trade, * or if 
the lungs have any disease, or if there be any 
disease anywhere, the meat is prononnced unfit 
for the food of the Jews, and is sent entire to a 
carcase butcher to be sold to the Christians. This, 
however, does not happen once in 20 times.' To 
the parts exposed for sale, when the slaughtering 
has been according to the Jewish law, there is 
attached a leaden seal, stamped in Hebrew cha- 
racters with the name of the examining party 
sealing. In this way, as I ascertained from the 
slaughterers, are killed weekly from 120 to 140 
bullocks, from 400 to 500 sheep and lambs, and 
about 30 calves. All the parts of the animal thus 
slaughtered may be and are eaten by the Jews, 
but three-fourths of the purchase of this meat is 
confined, as regards the Jews, to the fore-quarters 
of the respective animals; the hind-quarters, being 
the choicer parts, are sent to Newgate or Leaden- 
hallmarkets for sale on commission," The Hebrew 
butchers consider that the Christian mode of 
slanghter is a far less painful death to the ox 
than was the Jewish. 

I am informed that of the Jew Old-Clothes Men 
there are now only from 600 to 600 in London ; 
at one time there might have been 1000, Their 
average earnings may be something short of 20«, a 
week in second-hand clothes alone ; but the 
gains are difficult to estimate. 



Op a Jew Street-Seller. 

An elderly man, who, at the time I saw him, was 
vending spectacles, or bartering them for old 
clothes, old books, or any second-hand articles, 
gave me an account of his street-life, but it pre- 
sented little remarkable beyond the not unusual 
vicissitudes of the lives of those of his class. 

He had been in every street-trade, and had on 
four occasions travelled all over England, selling 
quills, sealing-wax, pencils, sponges, braces, cheap 
or superior jewellery, thermometers, and pictures. 
He had sold barometers in the mountainous parts 
of Cumberland, sometimes walking for hours 
without seeing man or woman. " / liked it then," 
he said, "/or / was young and strong, and 
didn't care to sleep tvnce in the same town. I was 
afterwards in the old-clothes line. I buy a few 
odd hats and light things still, but I 'm not able 
to carry heavy weights, as my breath is getting 
rather short." [I find that the Jews generally 
object to the more laborious kinds of street-traffic] 
" Yes, I 've been twice to Ireland, and sold a 
good many quills in Dublin, for I crossed over 
from Liverpool. Quills and wax were a great 
trade with us once; now it's quite different. 
I 've had as much as 60^. of my own, and that 
more than half-a-dozen times, but all of it went 
in speculations. Yes, some went in gambling. I 
had a share in a gaming-booth at the races, for 
three years. 0, 1 dare say that 's more than 20 
years back ; but we did very little good. There 
was such fees to pay for the tent on a race- 
ground, and often such delays between the races 
in the different towns, and bribes to be given to 
the town-officers — such as town-sergeants and chief 
constables, and I hardly know who — and so many 
expenses altogether, that the profits were mostly 
swamped. Once at Newcastle races there was a 
fight among the pitmen, and our tent was in their 
way, and was demolished almost to bits. A deal 
of the money was lost or stolen. I don't know how 
much, but not near so much as my partners wanted 
to make out. I wasn't on the spot just at the 
time. I got married after that, and took a shop 
in the second-hand clothes line in Bristol, but my 
wife died in child-bed in less than a year, and the 
shop didn't answer ; so I got sick of it, and at 
last got rid of it. 0, I work both the country 
and London still. I shall take a turn into Kent 
in a day or two. I suppose I clear between 10s. 
and 20a. a week in anything, and as I 've only 
myself, I do middling, and am ready for another 
chance if any likely speculation offers. I lodge 
with a relation, and sometimes live with his 
family. No, I never touch any meat but * Coshar.' 
I suppose my meat now costs me 6d. or 7d. a day, 
but it has cost me ten times that — and 2d. for beer 
in addition." 

I am informed that there are about 60 adult 
Jews (besides old-clothes men) in the streets 
selling fruit, cakes, pencils, spectacles, sponge, 
accordions, drugs, &c. 

Of the Jew-Bot Stbeet-Sbllkkj. 
I HAVE ascertained, and from sources where no 

ignorance on the subject could prevail, that there 
are now in the streets of London, rather more than 
100 Jew-boys engaged principally in fruit and 
cake-selling in the streets. Very few Jewesses 
are itinerant street-sellers. Most of the older Jews 
thus engaged have been street-sellers from their 
boyhood. The young Jews who ply in street- 
callings, however, are all men in matters of traffic, 
almost before they cease, in years, to be children. 
In addition to the Jew-boy street-sellers above 
enumerated, there are from 50 to 100, but usually 
about 50, who are occasional, or "casual" street- 
traders, vending for the most part cocoa-nuts and" 
grapes, and confining their sales chiefly to the 

On the subject of the street-Jew boys, a Hebrew 
gentleman said to me : " When we speak of street- 
Jew boys, it should be understood, that the great 
majority of them are but little more conversant 
with or interested in the religion of their fathers, 
than are the costermonger boys of whom you have 
written. They are Jews by the accident of their 
birth, as others in the same way, with equal igno- 
rance of the assumed faith, are Christians." 

I received from a Jew boy the following ac- 
count of his trading pursuits and individual aspi- 
rations. There was somewhat of a thickness in his 
utterance, otherwise his speech was but little dis- 
tinguishable from that of an English street-boy. 
His physiognomy was decidedly Jewish, but not 
of the handsomer type. His hair was light- 
coloured, but clean, and apparently well brushed, 
without being oiled, or, as I heard a street-boy 
style it, "jgreased"; it was long, and hesaid his 
aunt told him it "wanted cutting sadly ;" but he 
"liked it that way;" indeed, he kept dashing 
his curls from ^^his eyes, and back from his tem- 
ples, as he was conversing, as if he were some- 
what vain of doing so. He was dressed in a 
corduroy suit, old but not ragged, and wore a 
tolerably clean, very coarse, and altogether button- 
less shirt, which he said " was made for one bigger 
than me, sir." He had bought it for 9^f^. in Petti- 
coat-lane, and accounted it a bargain, as its wear 
would be durable. He was selling sponges when 
I saw him, and of the commonest kind, offering a 
large piece for Zd., which (he admitted) would be 
rubbed to bits in no time. This sponge, I should 
mention, is frequently "dressed" with sulphuric 
acid, and an eminent surgeon informed me that 
on his servant attempting to clean his black dress 
coat with a sponge that he had newly bought in 
the streets, the colour of the garment, to his horror, 
changed to a bright purple. The Jew boy said — 
" I believe I 'm twelve. I 've been to school, 
but it 's long since, and my mother was very ill 
then, and I was forced to go out in the streets to 
have a chance. I never was kept to school. I 
can't read; I 've forgot all about it. I'd rather 
now that I could read, but very likely I could 
soon learn if I could only spare time, but if I 
stay long in the house I feel sick; it's not 
healthy. 0, no, sir, inside or out it would be all 
the same to me, just to make a living and keep my 
health. I can't say how long it is since I began 
to sell, it 's a good long time ; one must do some- 



thing. I could keep myself now, and do some- 
times, but my father — I live with him (my 
mother 's dead) is often laid up. "Would you like 
to see him, sir? He knows a deal. No, he 
can't write, but he can read a little. Can I speak 
Hebrew? Well, I know what you mean. 0, 
no, I can't. I don't go to synagogue ; I haven't 
time. My father goes, but only sometimes ; so 
he says, and he tells me to look out, for we must 
both go by-and-by." [I began to ask him what 
he knew of Joseph, and others recorded in the Old 
Testament, but he bristled up, and asked if I 
wanted to make a Meshumet (a convert) of him X\ 
" I haTe sold all sorts of things," he continued, 
" oranges, and lemons, and sponges, and nuts, and 
sweets. I should like to have a r^ good ginger- 
beer fountain of my own ; but I must wait, and 
there 's many in the trade. I only go with boys 
of my own sort. I sell to all sorts of boys, 
but that 's nothing. Very likely they 're Christians, 
but that 's nothing to me. I don't know what 's 
the difference between a Jew and Christian, and 
I don't want to talk about it. The Meshumets 
are never any good. Anybody will tell you that. 
Yes, I like music and can sing a bit I get to a 
penny and sometimes a two-penny concert. No, 
I haven't been to Sussex Hall — I know where it 
is — I shouldn't understand it. You get in for 
nothing, that's one thing. I've heard of Baron 
Kothschild. He has more money than I could 
count in shillings in a year. I don't know about 
bis wanting to get into parliament, or what it 
means ; but he 's sure to do it or anything else, 
with his money. He 's very charitable, I 've 
heard. I don't know whether he's a German 
Jew, or a Portegee, or what. He *s a cut above 
me, a precious sight I only wish he was my 
uncle. I can't say what I should do if I had his 
money. Perhaps I should go a travelling, and see 
everything everywhere. I don't know how long 
the Jews have been in England; always per- 
haps. Yes, I know there 's Jews in other countries. 
This sponge is Greek sponge, but I don't know 
where it 's grown, only it 's in foreign parts. Jeru- 
salem I Yes, I 've heard of it I 'm of no tribe 
that I know of. I buy what I eat about Petticoat- 
lane. No, I don't like fish, but the stews, and 
the onions with them is beautiful for two-pence ; 
yoa may get a pennor'th. The pickles — cowcum- 
bers is best — are stunning. But they 're plummiest 
with a bit of cheese or anything cold — that's 
my opinion, but you may think different. Pork ! 
Ah I No, I never touched it ; I 'd as soon eat a 
cat ; so would my father. No, sir, I don't think 
pork smells nice in a cook-shop, but some Jew 
boys, as I knows, thinks it does. I don't know 
why it shouldn't b« eaten, only that it 's wrong to 
eat it No, I never touched a ham-sandwich, but 
other Jew boyi have, and laughed at it, I know. 
** I don't know what I make in a week. I 
think I make as much on one thing as on another. 
I've sold strawberries, and cherries, and goose- 
berries, and nuts and walnuts in the season. 0, 
as to what I make, that's nothing to nobody. 
Sometimes dd. a day, sometimes Is.; sometimes a 
little more, and sometimes nothing. No, I never 

sells inferior things if I can help it, but if one 
hasn't stock-money one must do as one can, but it 
isn't 80 easy to try it on. There was a boy 
beaten by a woman not long since for selling a 
big pottle of strawberries that was rubbish all 
under the toppers. It was all strawberry leaves, 
and crushed strawberries, and such like. She 
wanted to take back from him the two-pence she 'd 
paid for it, and got hold of his pockets and there 
was a regular fight, but she didn't get a farthing 
back though she tried her very hardest, 'cause he 
slipped from her and hooked it So you see it 's 
dangerous to try it on." [This last remark was 
made gravely enough, but the lad told of the feat 
with such manifest glee, that I'm inclined to 
believe that he himself was the culprit in question.] 
" Yes, it was a Jew boy it happened to, but other 
boys in the streets is just the same. Do I like 
the streets ? I can't say I do, there 's too little 
to be made in them. No, I wouldn't like to go 
to school, nor to he in a shop, nor he anybody s 
servant hut my own. 0, I don't know what I 
shall be when I 'ra grown up. I shall take ray 
chance like others." 

Of the Pursuits, Dwellings, Traffic, etc., 
OP THE Jew-Boy Street-Sellers. 
To speak of the street Jew-boys as regards their 
traffic, manners, haunts, and associations, is to 
speak of the same class of boys who may not be 
employed regularly in street-sale, but are the 
comrades of those who are ; a class, who, on any 
cessation of their employment in cigar manufac- 
tories, or indeed any capacity, will apply them- 
selves temporarily to street-selling, for it seems to 
these poor and uneducated lads a sort of natural 

These youths, uncontrolled or incontrollahle by 
their parents (who are of the lowest class of the 
Jews, and who often, I am told, care little about the 
matter, so longas the child can earn his own mainte- 
nance), frequently in the evenings, after their day's 
work, resort to coffee-shops, in preference even to 
a cheap concert-room. In these places they amuse 
themselves as men might do in a tavern where the 
landlord leaves his guests to their own caprices. 
Sometimes one of them reads aloud from some 
exciting or degrading book, the lads who are 
unable to read listening with all the intentness 
with which many of the imeducated attend to any 
one reading. The reading is, however, not unfre- 
quently interrupted by rude comments from the 
listeners. If a newspaper be read, the "police," 
or "crimes," are mostly the parts preferred. But 
the most approved way of passing the evening, 
among the Jew boys, is to pky at draughts, do- 
minoes, or cribbage, and to bet on tho play. 
Draughts and dominoes are unpractised among 
the costermonger boys, but some of tho young 
Jews are adepts in those games. 

A gentleman who took an interest in the Jew 
lads told me that he had often heard the sort of 
reading and comments I have described, when ho 
had called to talk to and perhaps expostulate with 
these youths in a coffee-shop, but he informed me 
that they seldom regarded any expostulation, and 



seemed to be little restrained by the presence of 
a stranger, the lads all muttering and laughing in 
a box among themselves. I saw seven of them, 
a little after eight in the evening, in a coffee-shop 
in the London-road, — although it is not much of 
a Jewish locality, — and two of them were playing 
at draughts for coffee, while the others looked on, 
betting halfpennies or pennies with all the eager- 
ness of gamblers, unrestrained in their expressions 
of delight or disappointment as they thought they 
were winning or losing, and commenting on the 
moves with all the assurance of connoisseurship ; 
sometimes they squabbled angrily and then sud- 
denly dropped their voices, as the master of the 
coffee-shop had once or twice cautioned them to 
be quiet. 

The dwellings of boys such ns these are among 
the worst in London, as regards ventilation, com- 
fort, or cleanliness. Tliey reside in the courts 
and recesses about Whitechapel and Petticoat- 
lane, and generally in a garret. If not orphans 
they usually dwell with their father. I am told that 
the care of a mother is almost indispensable to a 
poor Jew boy, and having that care he seldom 
becomes an outcast. The Jewesses and Jew girls 
are rarely itinerant street-sellers — not in the pro- 
portion of one to twelve, compared with the men 
and boj's; in this respect therefore the street Jews 
differ widely from the English costemiongers and 
the street Irish, nor are the Hebrew females even 
stall-keepers in the same proportion. 

One Jew boy's lodging which I visited was in 
a back garret, low and small. The boy lived with 
his father (a street-seller of fruit), and the room 
was very bare. A few sacks were thrown over 
an old palliass, a blanket seemed to be used for 
a quilt; there were no fire-irons nor fender; no 
cooking utensils. Beside the bed was an old 
chest, serving for a chair, while a board resting 
on a trestle did duty for a table (this was once, 
I presume, a small street-stall). The one not ver}- 
large window was thick with dirt and patched all 
over. Altogether I have seldom seen a more 
wretched apartment. The man, I was told, was 
addicted to drinking. 

The callings of which the Jew boys have the 
monopoly are not connected with the sale of any 
especial article, but rather with such things as pre- 
sent a variety from those ordinarily offered in the 
streets, such as cakes, sweetmeats, fried fish, and 
(in the winter) elder wine. The cakes known as 
"boolers" — a mixture of egg, flour, and candied 
orange or lemon peel, cut very thin, and with a 
slight colouring from saffron or something similar — 
are nowsold principally, and used to be sold exclu- 
sively, by the Jew boys. Almond cakes (little 
round cakes of crushed almonds) are at present 
vended by the Jew boys, and their sponge biscuits 
are in demand. All these dainties are bought 
by the street-lads of the Jew pastry-cooks. The 
difference in these cakes, in their sweetmeats, and 
their elder wine, is that there is a dash of spice 
about them not ordinarily met with. It is the 
same with the fried fish, a little spice or pepper 
being blended with the oil. In the street-sale of 
pickles the Jews have also the monopoly ; these. 

however, are seldom hawked, but generally sold 
from windows and door-steads. The pickles are 
cucumbers or gherkins, and onions — a large cu- 
cumber being 2d., and the smaller \d. .and ^d. 

The faults of the Jew lad are an eagerness to 
make money by any means, so that he often grows 
up a cheat, a trickster, a receiver of stolen goods, 
though seldom a thief, for he leaves that to others. 
He is content to profit by the thief's work, but 
seldom steals himself, however he may cheat. 
Some of these lads become rich men ; others are 
vagabonds all tlieir lives. None of the Jew lads 
confine themselves to the sale of any one article, 
nor do they seem to prefer one branch of street- 
traffic to another. Even those who cannot read 
are exceedingly quick. 

I may here observe in connection with the re- 
ceipt of stolen goods, tliat I shall deal with this 
subject in my account of the London Thieves. 
I shall also show the connection of Jewesses and 
Jews with the j^^'ostiUUion of the metropolis, in 
my forthcoming exposition of the London Pros- 

Oii" THE Street Jewesses and Street 
Jew- Girls. 
I hate mentioned that the Jewesses and the 
young Jew girls, compared with the adult Jews and 
Jew boys, are not street-traders in anything like 
the proportion which the females were found to bear 
to the males among the Irish street-folk and the 
English costemiongers. There are, however, a few 
Jewish females who are itinerant street-sellers as 
w^ell as stall keepers, in tlie proportion, perhaps, 
of one female to seven or eight males. The 
majority of the street Jew-girls whom I saw on a 
round were accompanied by boys who were re- 
presented to be their brothers, and I have little 
doubt such was the facts, for these young Jewesses, 
although often pert and ignorant, are not unchaste. 
Of this I was assured by a medical gentleman 
who could speak with sufficient positiveness on the 

Fruit is generally sold by these boys and girls 
together, the lad driving the barrow, and the girl 
inviting custom and handing the purchases to the 
buyers. In tending a little stall or a basket at a 
regular pitch, with such things as cherries or straw- 
berries, the little Jewess differs only from her 
street-selling sisters in being a brisker trader. The 
stalls, with a few old knives or scissors, or odds 
and ends of laces, that are tended by the Jew 
girls in the streets in the Jewish quarters (I am 
told there are not above a dozen of them) are 
generally near the shops and within sight of their 
parents or friends. One little Jewess, with whom 
I had some conversation, had not even heard the 
name of the Chief llabbi, the Rev. Dr. Adler, and 
knew nothing of any distinction between German 
and Portuguese Jews ; she had, I am inclined to 
believe, never heard of either. I am told that 
the whole, or nearly the whole, of these young 
female traders reside with parents or friends, and 
that there is among them far less than the average 
number of runaways. One Jew told me he thought 
that the young female members of his tribe did 



not tramp with the juveniles of the other sex-— 
no, not in the proportion of one to a hundred in 
comparison, he Sviid with a hiugh, with " young 
women of the Christian persuasion." My in- 
formant had means of knowing this fact, as although 
•till a young man, he had traversed the greater 
part of England hawking perfumer}', which he 
had abandoned as a bad trade. A wire-worker, 
long familiar with tramping and going into the 
country — a man upon whose word I have every 
reason to rely — told me that he could not remember 
a single instance of his having seen a young 
Jewess "travelling" with a boy. 

There are a few adult Jewesses who are itinerant 
traders, but very few. I met with one who carried 
on her arm a not very large basket, filled with 
glass wares ; chiefly salt-cellars, cigar-ash plates, 
blue glass dessert plates, vinegar-cruets, and such 
like. The greater part of her wares appeared to 
be blue, and she carried nothing but glass. She 
was a good-looking and neatly-dressed woman. 
She peeped in at each shop-door, and up at tiie 
windows of every private house, in the street in 
which I met hej, crying, " Clo', old clo' !" She 
bartered her glass for old clothes, or bought the 
garments, dealing principally in female attire, and 
almost entirely with women. She declined to say 
anything about her family or her circumstances, 
except that she had nothing that way to comphiin 
about, but — when I had used some names I had 
authority to make mention of — she said she would, 
with pleasure, tell me all about her trade, which 
■he carried on rather than do nothing. " When 
I hawk," she said with an English accent, her face 
being unmistakeably Jewish, " I hawk only good 
glass, and it can hardly be called hawking, as I 
swop it for more than I sell it. I always ask for 
the mistress, and if she wants any of my glass we 
come to a bargain if we can. 0, it 's ridiculous to 
■ee what things some ladies — I suppose they must 
be called ladies — offer for my glass. Children's 
green or blue gauze veils, torn or faded, and not 
worth picking up, because no use whatever ; old 
ribbons, not worth dyeing, and old frocks, not 
worth washing. People say, ' as keen as a Jew,' 
but ladies can't think we *re very keen when they 
offer us such rubbish. I do most at the middle 
kind of houses, both shops and private. I some- 
times give a little money for such a thing as a 
shawl, or a fur tippet, as well as my glass — but 
only when I can't help it — to secure a bargain. 
Sometimes, but not often, I get the old thing and 
a trifle for my glass. Occasionally I buy out- 
right I don't do much, there 's so many in the 
line, and I don't go out regularly. I can't say 
how many women are in my way — very few ; 0, 
I do middling. I told you I had no complaints 
to make. I don't calculate my profits or what I 
•ell. My family do that and I don't trouble my- 

Or THB Sthaooooks ard tui Religion ov 


Tub Jews in this country are classed as " Por- 
and " German." Among them are no 
of tribes, but there is of rites and 

ceremonies, as is set forth in the following extract 
(which shows also the mode of government) from 
a Jewish writer : " The Spanish and Portuguese 
Congregation of Jews, who are also called Sephar- 
din (from the word Sepharad, which signifies 
Spain in Hebrew), are distinct from the German 
and Polish Jews in their ritual service. The 
prayers both daily and for the Sabbath materially 
dirtVr from each other, and the festival praj'ers 
differ still more. Hence the Portuguese Jews 
have a distinct prayer-book, and the German Jews 

" The fundamental laws are equally observed by 
both sects, but in the ceremonial worship there 
exists numerous differences. The Portuguese Jews 
eat some food during the Paosover, which the 
German Jews are prohibited doing by some Rab- 
bis, but their authority is not acknowledged by 
the Portuguese Rahbis. Nor are the present 
ecclesiastical authorities in London of the two 
sects the same. The Portuguese Jews have their 
own Rabbis, and the German have their own. 
The German Jews are much more numerous 
than the Portuguese ; the chief Rabbi of the 
German Jews is the Rev. Dr. Nathan Marcus 
Adler, late Chief Rabbi of Hanover, who wears 
no beard, and dresses in the German costume. 
The presiding Rabbi of the Portuguese Jews is 
the Rev. David Meldola, a native of Leghorn ; 
his father filled the same office in London. Each 
chief Rabbi is supported by three other Rabbis, 
called Dayamin, which signifies in Hebrew 
* Judges.' Every Monday and Thursday the 
Chief Rabbi of the German Jews, Dr. Adler, 
supported by his three colleagues, sits for two hours 
in the Rabbinical College (Beth Humedrash), 
Smith's-buildings, Leadenhall-street, to attend to 
all applications from the German Jews, which 
may be brought before him, and which are 
decided according to the Jewish law. Many dis- 
putes between Jews in religious matters are settled 
in this m:inner ; and if the Lord Mayor or any 
other magistrate is told that the matter has already 
been settled by the Jewish Rabbi he seldom in- 
terferes. This applies only to civil and not to 
criminal c.ises. The Portuguese Jews have their 
own hospitil and their own dchools. Both con- 
gregations have their representatives in the Board 
of Deputies of British Jews, which board is ac- 
knowledged by government, and is triennial. Sir 
Moses Monteftore, a Jew of great wealth, who 
distinguished himself by his mission to Damascus, 
during the persecution of the Jews in that place, 
and also by his mission to Russia, some years ago, 
is the President of the Board. A if political 
matters, calling for communications with govern- 
ment, are within the province of that useful 

The Jews have eight synagogues in London, 
besides some smaller places which may pcrh.-ips, 
adopting the language of another church, be called 
synagogues of ease. The great synagogue in 
Duke's-place (a locality of which I have often had 
to speak) is the largest, but the new synagogue, 
St. Helen's, Bishopgate, is the one which most 
betokens the wealth of the worshippers. It is 



rich with ornaments, marble, nnd painted glass ; 
the parenient is of painted marble, and presents a 
perfect round, while the ceiling is a half dome. 
There are besides these the Hamburg Synagogue, 
in Fenchurch-street ; the Portuguese Synagogue, 
in Bevis-marks; two smaller places, in Cutler- 
street and Gun-yard, Houndsditch, known as 
Polish Synagogues ; the Maiden-lane (Covent-gar- 
den), Sj'nagogue; the Western Synagogue, St. 
Alban's-place, Pall-mall ; and the West Lon- 
don Synagogue of British Jews, Margaret- 
street, Cavendish-square, The last-mentioned 
is .the most aristocratic of the synagogues. 
The service there is curtailed, the ritual abbre- 
■^-iated, and the days of observance of the 
Jewish festival reduced from two to one. This 
alteration is strongly protested against by the 
other Jews, and the practices of this synagogue 
seem to show a yielding to the exactions or re- 
quirements of the wealthy. In the old days, and 
in almost every country in Europe, it was held to 
be sinful even for a king — reverenced and privileged 
as such a potentate then was — to prosecute any 
undertaking before he heard mass. In some 
states it was said in reproach of a noble or a sove- 
reign, " he breakfasts before he hears mass," and, 
to meet the impatience of the Great, " hunting 
masses," as they w^ere styled, or epitomes of the 
full service, Avere introduced. The Jews, some 
eight or nine years back in this country, seem to 
have followed this example ; such was the case, at 
least, as regards London and the wealthier of the 
professors of thia ancient faith. 

The sjTiagogues are not well attended, the con- 
gregations being smaller in proportion to the popu- 
lation than those of the Church of England. 
Neither, during the observance of the Jewish 
worship, is there any especial manifestation of the 
service being regarded as of a sacred and divinely- 
ordained character. There is a buzzing talk 
among the attendants during the ceremony, and 
an absence of seriousness and attention. Some of 
the Jews, however, show the greatest devotion, 
and the same may be said of the Jewesses, who 
sit apart in the synagogues, and are not required 
to attend so regularly as the men. 

I should not have alluded to this absence of the 
solemnities of devotion, as regards the congrega- 
tions of the Hebrews, had I not heard it regretted 
by Hebrews themselves. " It is shocking," one 
said. Another remarked, " To attend the syna- 
gogue is looked upon too much as a matter of 
bitsiness ; but perhaps there is the same spirit in 
some of the Christian churches." 

As to the street-Jews, religion is little known 
among them, or little cared for. They are indif- 
ferent to it — not to such a degree, indeed, as the 
costermongers, for they are not so ignorant a 
class — but yet contrasting strongly in their neglect 
with the religious intensity of the majority of the 
Boman Catholic Irish of the streets. In common 
justice I must give the remark of a Hebrew mer- 
chant with whom I had some conversation on the 
subject : — " I can't say much about street-Jews, for 
my engagements lead me away from them, and I 
don't know much about street-Christians. But if 

out of a hundred Jews you find that only ten of 
them care for their religion, how many out of a 
hundred Christians of any sort will care about 
theirs 1 Will ten of them care? If you answer, 
but they are only nominal Christians, my reply is, 
the Jews are only nominal Jews — Jews by birth, 
and not by faith." 

Among the Jews I conversed with — and of 
course only the more intelligent understood, or 
were at all interested in, the question — I heard 
the most contemptuous denunciation of all converts 
from Judaism. One learned informant, who was 
b}"- no means blind to the short-comings of his own 
people, expressed his conviction that no Jew had 
ever been really converted. He had abandoned 
his faith from interested motives. On this subject 
I am not called upon to express any opinion, and 
merely mention it to show a prevalent feeling 
among the class I am describing. 

The street-Jews, including the majority of the 
more prosperous and most numerous class among 
them, the old-clothes men, are far from being 
religious in feeling, or well versed in their faith, 
and are, perhaps, in that respect on a level with 
the mass of the members of the Church of Eng- 
land ; I say of the Church of England, because 
of that church the many who do not profess re- 
ligion are usually accounted members. 

In the Rabbinical College, I may add, is the 
finest Jewish library in the world. It has been 
collected for several generations under the care of 
the Chief Rabbis. The public are admitted, 
having first obtained tickets, given gratuitously, at 
the Chief Rabbi's residence in Crosby-square. 

Of the Politics, Literature, and Amuse- 
ments OF THE Jews: 
Perhaps there is no people in the world, possess- 
ing the average amount of intelligence in busy 
communities, who care so little for politics as the 
general body of the Jews. The wealthy classes 
may take an interest in the matter, but I am 
assured, and by those who know their countrymen 
well, that even with them such a quality as 
patriotism is a mere word. This may be ac- 
counted for in a great measure, perhaps, from an 
hereditary feeling. The Jew could hardly be ex- 
pected to love a land, or to strive for the promotion 
of its general welfare, where he felt he was but a 
sojourner, and where he was at the best but 
tolerated and often proscribed. But this feeling 
becomes highly reprehensible when it extends — 
as I am assured it does among many of the rich 
Jews— to their own people, for whom, apart from 
conventionalities, say my informants, t/cey care 
nothing whatever ; for so long as they are undis- 
turbed in money-getting at home, their brethren 
may be persecuted all over the world, while the 
rich Jew merely shrugs his shoulders. An honour- 
able exception, however, exists in Sir Moses Monte- 
fiore, who has honourably distinguished himself in 
the relief of his persecuted brethren on more than 
one occasion. The great of the earth no longer spit 
upon the gabardine of the Jewish millionaire, nor 
do they draw his teeth to get his money, but the 
great Jew capitalists, with powerful influence in 



many a government, do not seek to direct that in- 
fluence for the bettering of the lot of their poorer 
brethren, who, at the same time, brook the re- 
strictions and indignities which tliey have to suffer 
with a perfect philosophy. In fact, the Jews have 
often been the props of the courts who have per- 
secuted them ; that is to say, two or three Jewish 
firms occasionally have not hesitated to lend mil- 
lions to the governments by whom they and their 
people have been systematically degraded and 

I was told by a Hebrew gentleman (a pro- 
fessional man) that so little did the Jews them- 
selves care for " Jewish emancipation," that he 
questioned if one man in ten, actuated solely bj' 
his own feelings, would trouble himself to walk 
the length of the street in which he lived to 
secure Baron Rothschild's admission into the House 
of Commons. This apathy, my informant urged 
with perfect truth, in nowise affected the merits 
of the question, though he was convinced it formed 
a great obstacle to Baron Rothschild's success; 
" for governmeiits," he said, " won't give boons 
to people who don't care for them ; and, though 
this is called a boon, I look upon it as only a 

When such is the feeling of the comparatively 
wealtliier Jews, no one can wonder that I found 
among the Jewish street-sellers and old-clothes 
men with whom I talked on the subject — and 
their more influential brethren gave me every 
facility to prosecute my inquiry among them — a 
perfect indifference to, and nearly as perfect an 
ignorance of, politics. Perhaps no men buy so 
few newspapers, and read them so little, as the 
Jews generally. The street-traders, when I 
alluded to the subject, said they read little but 
the " Police Reports." 

Among the body of the Jews there is little love 
of Ltterattire. They read far less (let it be re- 
membered I have acquired all this information from 
Jews themselves, and from men who could not be 
mistaken in the matter), and are far less familiar 
with English authorship, either historical or 
b'terary, than are the poorer English artizans. 
Neither do the wealthiest classes of the Jews 
cire to foster literature among their own people. 
One author, a short time ago, failing to interest 
the English Jews, to promote the publication 
of his work, went to the United Statcp, and 
his book was issued in Philadelphia, the city of 
Qtukers ! 

The Aroasements of the Jews— and here I 
■peak more especially of the street or open-air 
traders— are the theatres and concert-rooms. The 
City of London Theatre, the Standard Theatre, 
and other playhouses at the East-end of London, 
are greatly resorted to by the Jews, and more 
eipecially by the younger members of tho body, 
who •ometimee constitute a rather obstreperous 
gallery. The cheap concerts which they patronize 
are generally of a superior order, for the Jews 
arc fond of rauaic, and among them have been 
many eminent composers and performers, so that 
the trash and jingle which delights the costcrmon- 
ger class would not please the street Jew boys ; 

hence their concerts are superior to the general 
run of cheap concerts, and are almost always 
'' got up " by their own people. 

Sussex-hall, in Leadenhall-street, is chiefly sup- 
ported by Israelites ; there the " Jews' and 
General Literary and Scientific Institution" is 
established, with reading-rooms and a library ; 
and there lectures, concerts, &c., are given as 
at similar institutions. Of late, on every Friday 
evening, Sussex-hall has been thrown open to 
the general public, without any charge for ad- 
mission, and lectures have been delivered gra- 
tuitously, on literature, science, art, and 
general subjects, which have attracted crowded 
audiences. The lecturers are chiefly Jews, but 
the lectures are neither theological nor sectarian. 
The lecturers are Mr. M. H. Bresslau, the Rev. 
B. II. Ascher, Mr. J. L. Levison (of Brighton), 
and Mr. Clarke, a merchant in the City, a Chris- 
tian, whose lectures are very popular among the 
Jews. The behaviour of the Jew attendants, and 
the others, the Jews being the majority, is de- 
corous. They seem "to like to receive infomia-* 
tion," I was told ; and a gentleman connected 
with the hall argued that this attention showed a 
readiness for proper instruction, when given in an 
attractive form, which favoured the opinion that 
the young Jews, when not thrown in childhood into 
the vortex of money-making, were very easily 
teachable, while their natural quickness made 
them both ready and willing to be taught. 

My old-clothes buying informant mentioned 
a Jewish eating-house. I visited one in the 
Jew quarter, but saw nothing to distinguish it 
from Christian resorts of the same character and 
cheapness (the " plate " of good hot meat costing 
Ad., and vegetables 'id), except that it was fuller 
of Jews than of Christians, by three to two, per- 
haps, and that there was no " pork" in the" waiter's 
specification of the fore. 

Of the Charities, Schools, and Education 
OP THE Jews. 

The Jewish charities are highly honourable to 
the body, for they allow none of their people to live 
or die in a parish workhouse. It is true that among 
the Jews in London there are many individuals 
of immense wealth; but there are also many rich 
Christians who care not one jot for the need of 
their brethren. It must be borne in mind also, 
that not only do tho Jews voluntarily support 
their own poor and institutions, but they con- 
tribute — compulsorily it is true — their quota to 
the support of the English poor and church ; and, 
indeed, pay their duo proportion of all the parlia- 
mentary or local imposts. This is the more 
honourable and the more remarkable among the 
Jews, when we recollect their indisputable greed 
of money. 

If a Jew be worn out in his old age, and 
unable to maintain himself, he is either supported 
by the contributions of his friends, or out of some 
local or general fund, or provided for in some 
asylum, and all this seems to bo done with a 
less than ordinary fuss and display, so that the 




recipient of the charity feels himself more ai 
pensioner than a pauj)er. I 

The Jews' Hospital, in the Mile-end Road, is an 
extensive building, into which feeble old men and 
destitute children of both sexes are admitted. 
Here the boys are taught trades, and the girls 
qualified for respectable domestic service. The 
"Widows' Home, in Duke-street, Aldgate, is for 
poor Hebrew widows. The Orphan Asylum, 
built at the cost of Mr. A. L. Moses, and sup- 
ported by subscription, now contiiins 14 girls 
and 8 boys ; a school is attached to the asylum, 
which is in the Tenter Ground, Groodman's-fields. 
The Hand -in -Hand Asylum, for decayed old 
people, men and women, is in Duke's-place, Aid- 
gate. There are likewise alms-houses for the 
Jews, erected also by Mr. A. L, Moses, at Mile- 
end, and other alms-houses, erected by Mr. Joel 
Emanuel, in Wellclose-square, near the Tower. 
There are, further, three institutions for granting 
marriage dowers to fatherless children ; an insti- 
tution in Bevis-marks, for the burial of the poor 
of the congregation ; " Beth Holim ; " a house 
for the reception of the sick poor, and of poor 
lying-in women belonging to tlie congregation of 
the Spanish and Portuguese Jews; " Magasim 
Zobim," for lending money to aid apprenticeships 
among boys, to fit girls for good domestic ser- 
vice, and for helping poor children to proceed to 
foreign parts, when it is believed that the change 
will be advantageous to them ; and *' Noten Le- 
bem Larcebim;" to distribute bread to the poor 
of the congregation on the day preceding the Sab- 

I am assured that these institutions are well- 
managed, and that, if the charities are abused 
by being dispensed to undeserving objects, it is 
usually with the knowledge of the managers, 
who often let the abuse pass, as a smaller evil 
than driving a man to theft or subjecting him to 
the chance of starvation. One gentleman, fa- 
miliar with most of these establishments, said to 
me with a laugh, '•' I believe, if you have had 
any conversation with the gentlemen who manage 
these matters, you will have concluded that they 
are not the people to be imposed upon very 

There are seven Jewish schools in London, four 
in the city, and three at the West-end, all sup- 
ported by voluntary contributions. The Jews' 
Free School, in Bell- lane, Spitalfields, is the 
largest, and is adapted for the education of no 
fewer than 1200 boys and girls. The late Ba- 
roness de Rothschild provided clothing, yearly, for 
all the pupils in the school. In the Infant School, 
Houndsditch, are about 400 little scholars. There 
are also the Orphan Asylum School, previously 
mentioned ; the Western Jewish schools, for girls, 
in Dean-street, and, for boys, in Greek-street, 
Soho, but considered as one establishment; and 
the West Metropolitan School, for girls, in Little 
Queen-street, and, for boys, in High Holborn, 
also considered as one establishment. 

Notwithstanding these means of education, the 
body of the poorer, or what in other callings might 
be termed the working-classes, are not even tole- 

rably well educated ; they are indifferent to the 
matter. With many, the multiplication table 
seems to constitute what they think the acme, of 
all knowledge needful to a man. The great 
majority of the Jew boys, in the street, cannot 
read. A smaller portion can read, but so im- 
perfectly that their ability to read detracts nothing 
from their ignorance. So neglectful or so neces- 
sitous (but I heard the ignorance attributed to 
neglect far more frequently than necessity) are the 
poorer Jews, and so soon do they take their 
children away from school, " to learn and do some- 
thing for themselves," and so irregular is their 
attendance, on the plea that the time cannot be 
spared, and the boy must do something for him- 
self, that many children leave the free-schools not 
only about as ignorant .as when they entered 
them, but almost with an incentive to continued 
ignorance ; for they knew nothing of reading, 
except that to acquire its rudiments is a pain, a 
labour, and a restraint. On some of the Jew 
boys the vagrant spirit is strong; they will be 
itinerants, if not wanderers, — though this is a 
spirit in no way confined to the Jew boys. 

Although the Avealthier Jews may be induced 
to give money towards the support of their poor, 
I heard strong strictures passed upon them con- 
cerning their indifference towards their brethren 
in all other respects. Even if they subscribed to 
a school, they never cared whether or not it was 
attended, and that, much as was done, far more 
was in the power of so wealthy and distinct a 
people. " This is all the more inexcusable," was 
said to me by a Jev/, " because there are so many 
rich Jews in London, and if they exerted find ex- 
ercised a broader liberality, as they might in in- 
stituting Jewish colleges, for instance, to promote 
knowledge among the middle-classes, and if they 
cared more about employing their own people, 
their liberality would be far more fully felt than 
similar conduct in a Christian, because they have 
a smaller sphere to influence. As to employing 
their own people, there are numbers of the rich 
Jews who will employ any stranger in preference, 
if he work a penny a week cheaper. This sort of 
clan employment," continued my Jew informant, 
" should never be exclusive, but there might, I 
think, be a judicious preference." 

I shall now proceed to set forth an account of 
the sums yearly subscribed for purposes of educa- 
tion and charity by the Jews. 

The Jews' Free School in Spitalfields is sup- 
ported by voluntary contributions to the amount of 
about 1200/. yearly. To this sum a few Christians 
contribute, as to some other Hebrew institutions 
(which I shall specify), while Jews often are 
liberal supporters of Christian public charities — 
indeed, some of the wealthier Jews are looked 
upon by the members of their own faith as inclined 
to act more generously where Christian charities, 
with the prestige of high aristocratic and fashion- 
able patronage, are in question, than towards their 
own institutions. To the Jews' Free School the 
Court of Common Council of the Corporation of 
London lately granted 100/., through the exertions 
of Mr. Benjamin S. Phillips, of Newgate-street, a 



member of the court. The Baroness Lionel de 
Rithschild (as I have formerly stated of the late 
Bnroness) supplies clothing for the scholars. The 
school ia adapted for the reception of 1200 boys 
and girls in equal proportion ; about 900 is the 
aveni:.v attendance. 

Til.' Jews' Infant School in Houndsditch, with 
an average attendance approaching 400, is simi- 
larly supported at a cost of from 800/. to 1000/. 

The Orphan Asylum School, in Goodman's- 
fields, receives a somewhat larger support, but in 
the expenditure is the cost of an asylum (before 
mentioned, and containing 22 inmates). The 
funds are about 1500/. yearly. Christians sub- 
scribe to this institution also — Mr. Frederick Peel, 
M.P., taking great interest in it. The attendance 
I of pupils is from 300 to 400. 
j It might be tedious to enumerate the other 

schools, after having described the principal ; I will 
merely add, therefore, that the yearly contributions 
to each are from 700/. to 1000/., and the pupils 
taught in each from 200 to 400. Of these further 
schools there are four already specified. 

The Jews' Hospital, at Mile End, is maintained 
at a yearly cost of about 3000/., to which 
Christians contribute, but not to a twentieth of 
the amount collected. The persons benefited are 
worn-out old men, and destitute children, while 
the number of aUnspeople is from 150 to 200 

The other two Asylums, &c., which I have 
specified, are maintained at a cost of about 800/. 
each, as a yearly average, and the Almshouses, 
three in number, at about half that sum. The 
persons relieved by these last-mentioned institu- 
tions number about 250, two-thirds, or there- 
abouts, being in the asylums. 

The Loan Societies are three : the Jewish 
Ladies Visiting and Benevolent Loan Society ; 
the Linusarian Loan Society (why called Linusa- 
rian a learned Hebrew scholar could not inform 
me, although he had asked the question of others) ; 
and the Magasim Zobim (the Good Deeds), a Por- 
tuguese Jews' Loan Society. 

The business of these three societies is con- 
ducted on the same principle. Money is lent on 
personal or any security approved by the managers, 
and no interest is charged to the borrower. The 
amount lent yearly is from 600/. to 700/. by each 
society, the whole being repaid and with sufficient 
punctuality ; a few weeks' " grace " is occasionally 
allowed in the erent of illness or any unforeseen 
event. The Loan Societies have not yet found it 
necessary to proceed against any of their debtors ; 
my informant thought this forbearance extended 
over six years. 

There is not among the Jewish street traders, 
as among the costcmiongers and others, a class 
forming part, or having once formed part of them- 
selves, and living by usury and loan mongering, 
where they have amassed a few pounds. What- 
ever may be thought of the Jews' usurious dealings 
as regards the general public, the poorer classes of 
their peopie are not subjected to the exactions of 
usur}-, with all its clogs to a struggling man's 

well-doing. Sometimes the amount required bv 
an old-clothes man, or other street- trader i's 
obtained by or for him at one of these loan 
societies. Sometimes it is advanced by the usual 
buyer of the second-hand garments collected bv the 
street-Jew. No security in such cases is given beVond 
— strange as it may sound — the personal honour 
of an old-clothes man ! An experienced man told 
me, that taking all the class of Jew street-sellers, 
who are a very fluctuating body, with the excep- 
tion of the old-clotiies men, the sum thus ad- 
vanced as stock-money to them might be seldom 
less in any one year than 300/., and seldom more 
than 500/. There is a prevalent notion that 
the poorer Jews, when seeking charity, are sup- 
plied with goods for street-sale by their wealthy 
brethren, and never with money — this appears to 
be unfounded. 

Now to sum up the above items we find that the 
yearly cost of the Jewish schools is about 7000/., 
supplying the means of instruction to 3000 chil- 
dren (out of a population of 18,000 of all ages, 
one-half of whom, perhaps, are under 20 years). 
The yearly outlay in the asylums, i^c, is, it ap- 
pears, 5800/. annually, benefiting or maintaining 
about 420 individuals (at a cost of nearly 14/. 
per head). If we add no more than 200/. yearly 
for the minor charities or institutions I have pre- 
viously alluded to, we find 14,000/. expended 
annually in the public schools .and charities of the 
Jews of London, independently of about 2000/., 
which is the amount of the loans to those requiring 
temporary aid. 

We have before seen that the number of 
Jews in London is estimated by the best informed 
at about 18,000 ; hence it would appear that the 
charitable donations of the Jews of London 
amount on an average to a little less than 1/. per 
head. Let us compare this with the benevolence 
of the Christians. At the same ratio the sum de- 
voted to the charities of England and Wales 
should be very nearly 16,000.000/., but, accord- 
ing to the most liberal estimates, it does not 
reach half that amount ; the rent of the land and 
other fixed property, together with the interest 
of the money left for charitable purposes in Eng- 
land and Wales, is 1,200,000/. If, however, wo 
add to the voluntary contributions the sum raised 
compulsorily by assessment in aid of the poor 
(about 7,000.000/. per annum), the ratio of the 
English Christian's contributions to his needy 
brethren throughout the country will be very 
nearly the same as that of the Jew's. Moreover, 
if we turn our attention to the benevolent bequests 
and donations of the Christians of London, we 
shall find that their munificence does not fiill fiir 
short of that of the metropolitan Jews. The 
gross amounts of the charitable contributionc of 
London are given below, together with the num- 
bers of institutions ; and it will thus be seen that 
the sum devoted to such purposes amounts to no 
less than 1,704,733/., or upwards of a million and 
three-qtiarters sterling for a population of about 
two millions ! 



Income Income 
citrived dcriveil 
from volun- from 
tary oontri- property, 

12 General medical hospitals . £31,265 £111,641 

60 Medical charities for spe- 
cial purposes 27,974 68,690 

35 General dispensaries . . 11,470 2,954 

12 Preservation of life and 

public morals .... 8,730 2,773 

18 Reclaiming the fallen and 
staying the progress of 
crime 16,299 13,737 

14 Relief of general destitu- 
tion and distress . . . 20,646 3,234 

12 Relief of specified dis- 
tress 19,473 10,408 

14 Aiding the resources of 

the industrious .... 4,677 2,569 

11 For the blind, deaf, and 

dumb 11,965 22,797 

103 Colleges, hospitals, and 

other asylimis for the aged 5,857 77,190 

16 Charitable pension societies 15,790 3,199 

74 Charitable and provident, 

chiefly for specified classes 19,905 83,322 

31 Asylums for orphans and 

other necessitous children . 55,466 25,549 

10 Educational foundations . 15,000 78,112 
4 Charitable modern ditto . 4,000 9,300 

40 School societies, religious 
books, church aiding, and 
Christian visidngs, &c. .159,853 153,336 

35 Bible and missionary . . 494,494 63,058 

491 Total 1,022,864 741,869 

In connection with the statistical part of this 
subject I may mention that the Chief Rabbis each 
receive 1200^. a year ; the Readers of the Syna- 
gogues, of whom there are twelve in London, from 
300^. to 400/. a year each ; the Secretaries of the 
Synagogues, of whom there are also twelve, from 
200/. to 300/. each ; the twelve under Secretaries 
from 100/. to 150/. ; and six Dayanim 100/. a year 
each. These last-mentioned officers are looked 
upon by many of the Jews, as the " poor curates" 
may be by the members of the Church of Eng- 
land — as being exceedingly under-paid. The 
functions of the Dayanim have been already men- 
tioned, and, I may add, that they must have re- 
ceived expensive scholarly educations, as for about 
four hours daily they have to read the Talmud 
in the places of worship. 

The yearly payment of these sacerdotal officials, 
then, independent of otlier outlay, amounts to 
about 11,700/.; this is raised from the profits of 
the seats in the synagogues and voluntary con- 
tributions, donations, subscriptions, bequests, 
&c., among the Jews. 

I have before spoken of a Board of Deputies, 
in connection with the Jews, and now proceed to 
describe its constitution. It is not a parliament 
among the Jews, I am told, nor a governing 
power, but what may be called a directing or 
regulating body. It is authorized by the body of 

Jews, and recognised by her Majesty's Govern- 
ment, as an established corporation, with powers 
to treat and determine on matters of civil and 
political policy affecting the condition of the 
Hebrews in this country, and interferes in no way 
with religious matters. It is neither a metro- 
politan nor a local nor a detached board, but, as 
far as the Jews in England may be so described, 
a national board. This board is elected triennially. 
The electors are the " seat-holders " in the Jewish 
synagogues; that is to say, they belong to the class 
of Jews Vi^ho promote the support of the syna- 
gogues by renting seats, and so paying towards 
the cost of those establishments. 

There are in England, Ireland, and Scotland, 
about 1000 of these seat-holders exercising the 
franchise, or rather entitled to exercise it, but many 
of them arc indifferent to the privilege, as is often 
testified by the apathy shown on the days of 
election. Perhaps three-fourths of the privileged 
number may vote. The services of the re- 
presentatives are gratuitous, and no qualifica- 
tion is required, but the elected are usually the 
leading metropolitan Jews. The proportion of 
the electors voting is in the ratio of the deputies 
elected. London returns 12 deputies; Liver- 
pool, 2 ; Manchester, 2 ; Birmingham, 2 ; Edin- 
burgh, Dublin, (the only places in either Scotland 
or Ireland returning deputies), Dover, Portsmouth, 
Southampton, Plymouth, Canterbury, Norwich, 
Swansea, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and two other places 
(according to the number of seat-holders), each 
one deputy, thus making up the number to 3t\ 
On election days the attendance, as I have said, 
is often small, but fluctuating according to an}' 
cause of excitement, which, however, is but sel- 

The question which has of late been discussed 
by this Board, and which is now under consider- 
ation, and negotiation with the Education Com- 
missioners of her Majesty's Privy Council, is the 
obtaining a grant of money in the same proportion 
as it has been granted to other educational 
establishments. Nothing has as yet been given 
to the Jewish schools, and the matter is still un- 

With religious or sacerdotal questions the Board 
of Deputies does not, oris not required to meddle; it 
leaves all such matters to the bodies or tribunals I 
have mentioned. Indeed the deputies concern them- 
selves only with what may be called the public 
interests of the Jews, both as a part of the com- 
munity and as a distinct people. The Jewish 
institutions, however, are not an exception to the 
absence of unanimity among the professors of the 
same creeds, for the members of the Reform Syna- 
gogue in Margaret-street, Cavendish-square, are 
not recognised as entitled to vote, and do not 
vote, accordingly, in the election of the Jewisli 
deputies. Indeed, the Reform members, whose 
synagogue was established eight years ago, were 
formally excommunicated by a declaration of tlic 
late Chief Rabbi, but this seems now to be re- 
garded as a mere matter of form, for the mem- 
bers have lately partaken of all the rites to 
which orthodox Jews are entitled. 



j Oj thb Fciteral Cebemosies, Fasts, and 


I The funeral ceremonies of the Jews are among 
the things which tend to preserve the distinctness 
and peculiarity of this people. Sometimes, though 
now rarely, the nearest relatives of the deceased 
wear sackcloth (a coarse crape), and throw ashes 
and dust on their hair, for the term during which 
the corpse remains unburied, this term being the 
same as among Christians. When the corpse is 
carried to the Jews' burial-ground for interment 
the coffin is frequently opened, and the corpse 
addressed, in a Hebrew formula, by any relative, 
friend, or acquaintance who may be present. 
The words are to the following purport : " If 1 
have done anything that might be offensive — 
pardon, pardon, pardon." After that the coffin is 
carried round the burial-ground in a circuit, chil- 
dren chanting the 90th Psalm in its original 
Hebrew, " a prayer of Moses, the man of God." 
The passages which the air causes to be most 
emphatic are these verses : — 

" 3. Thou turnest man to destruction ; and 
sayest. Return, ye children of men. 

" 4. For a thousand years in thy sight are but 
as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in 
the night. 

" 5. Thou earnest them away as with a flood ; 
they are as a sleep : in the morning they are like 
grass which groweth up. 

" 6. In the morning it flourisheth, and grow- 
eth up; in the evening it is cut down, and 

** 10. The days of onr years are threescore 
years and ten ; and if by reason of strength they 
be fourscore years, yet m their strength labour 
and sorrow ; for it is soon cut off, and we fly 

The coffin is then carried into a tent, and the 
funeral prayers, in Hebrew, are read. When it 
has been lowered into the grave, the relatives, 
and indeed all the attendants at the interment, 
fill up the grave, shovelling in the earth. In the 
Jews' burial-ground are no distinctions, no vaults 
or provisions for aristocratic sepulture. The very 
rich and the very poor, the outcast woman and the 
virtuous and prosperous gentlewoman, " grossly 
fiuniliar, side by side consume." A Jewish funeral 
is a matter of fiigh solemnity. 

The burial fees are 12*. for children, and from 
21. to 3/. for adults. These fees are not the pro- 
perty of the parties officating, but form a portion 
of the synagogue funds for general purposes, pay- 
ment of officers, &c. No fees are charged to the 
relatives of poor Jews. 

Two fasu are rigidly observed by the Jews, 
and even by those Jews who are usually indiffer- 
ent to the observances of their religion. These 
are the Black Fast, in commemoration of the 
destruction of Jerusalem, and the White Fast, in 
commemoration of the atonement On each of 
those occasions the Jews abstain altogether from 
food for 24 hours, or from sunset to sunset. 

Op the Jew Street- Sellers of Accordions, 


I CONCLUDE my account of the Street-Jews with 
an account of the accordion sellers. 

Although the Jews, as a people, are musical, 
they are little concerned at present either in the 
sale of musical instruments in the streets, or in 
street-music or singing. Until within a few years, 
however, the street-sale of accordions was carried 
on by itinerant Jews, and had previously been 
carried on most extensively in the country, even 
in the far north of England. Some years back 
well-dressed Jews "travelled" with stocks of 
accordions. In many country towns and in gen- 
tlemen's country mansions, in taverns, and schools 
also, these accordions were then a novelty. The 
Jew could play on the instrument, and carried a 
book of instructions, which usually formed part of 
the bargain, and by the aid of which, he made out, 
any one, even without previous knowledge of the 
practical art of music, could easily teach himself 
— nothing but a little practice in fingering being 
wanted to make a good accordion-player. At first 
the accordions sold by the Jew hawkers were 
good, two guineas being no unusual price to be 
paid for one, even to a street-seller, while ten and 
twenty shillings were the lower charges. But the 
accordions were in a few years " made slop," 
cheap instruments being sent to this country from 
Germany, and sold at less than half their former 
price, until the charge fell as low as 3s. Qd. or even 
2s. M. — but only for " rubbish," I was told. 
When the fragility and inferior musical qualities 
of these instruments came to be known, it was 
found almost impossible to sell in the streets even 
superior instruments, however reasonable in price, 
and thus the trade sunk to a nonentity. So little 
demand is there now for these instruments that no 
pawnbroker, I am assured, will advance money on 
one, however well made. 

The itinerant accordion. trade was always much 
greater in the country than in London, for in 
town, I was told, few would be troubled to try, or 
even listen, to the tones of an accordion played by 
a street-seller, at their own doors, or in their 
houses. While there were 100 or 120 Jews 
hawking accordions in the counta-y, there would 
not be 20 in London, including even the suburbs, 
where the sale was the best. 

Calculating that, when the trade was at its best, 
130 Jews hawked accordions in town and 
country, and that each sold three a week, at an 
averjige price of 20s. each, or six in a week at an 
average price of 10s. each, the profit being from 
60 to 100 per cent., we find upwards of 20,000/. 
expended in the course of the year in accordions 
of which, however, little more than a sixth part, or 
about 3000/., was expended in London. This was 
only when the trade had all the recommendations 
of novelty, and in the following year perhaps not 
half the amount was realized. One informant 
thought that the year 1828-9 was the best for the 
sale of these instruments, but he spoke only from 
memory. At the present time I could not find or 
hear of one street-Jew selling accordions ; I re- 



member, however, having seen one within the 
present year. Most of the Jews who travelled 
with them have emigrated. 

It is very rarely indeed that, fond as the Jews 
are of music, any of them are to be found in the 
bands of street-mnsicians, or of such street-per- 
formers as the Ethiopian serenaders. If there be 
any, I was told, they were probably not pure 
Jews, but of Christian parentage on one side or 
the other, and not associating with their own 
people. At the cheap concert-rooms, however, 
Jews are frequently singers, but rarely the 
Jewesses, while some of the twopenny concerts 
at the East-end are got up and mainly patron- 
ized by the poorer class of Jews. Jews are also 
to be found occasionally among the supernume- 
raries of the theatres ; but, when not professionally 
engaged, these still live among their own people, 
I asked one young Jew who occasionally sang at 
a cheap concert-room, what description of songs 
they usually sung, and he answered " all kinds." 
He, it seems, sang comic songs, but his friend 
Barney, who had just left him, sang sentimental 
songs. He earned Is. and sometimes 2s., but 
more frequently Is., three or four nights in the 
week, as he had no regular engagement. In the 
daytime he worked at cigar-making, but did not 
like it, it was " so confining." He had likewise 
sung, but gratuitously, at concerts got up for the 
benefit of any person " bad off." He knew nothing 
of the science and art of music. Of the superior 
class of Jew vocalists and composers, it is not of 
course necessary here to speak, as thej' do not 
come within the scope of my present subject. Of 
Hebrew youths thus employed in cheap and de- 
sultory concert-singing, there are in the winter 
season, I am told, from 100 to 150, few, if any, 
depending entirely upon their professional exer- 
tions, but being in circumstances similar to those 
of my young informant. 


The trade in hogs'-wash, or in the refuse of the 
table, is by no means insignificant. The street- 
buyers are of the costermonger class, and some of 
them have been costermongers, and " when not 
kept going regular on wash," I was told, are 
"costers still," but with the advantage of having 
donkeys, ponies, or horses and carts, and fre- 
quently shops, as the majority of the wash-buyers 
have ; for they are often greengrocers as well as 

The hogs' food obtained by these street-folk, 
or, as I most frequently heard it called, the 
" wash," is procured from the eating-houses, the 
coflFee-houses which are also eating-houses (with 
"hot joints from 12 to 4"), the hotels, the club- 
houses, the larger mansions, and the public insti- 
tutions. It is composed of the scum and lees of 
all broths and soups ; of the washings of cooking 
utensils, and of the dishes and plates used at 
dinners and suppers ; of small pieces of meat left 
on the plates of the diners in taverns, clubs, or 
cook-shops ; of pieces of potato, or any remains of 
vegetables ; of any viands, such as puddings, left 
in the plates in the same manner; of gristle; of 

pieces of stale bread, or bread left at table ; occa- 
sionally of meat kept, whether cooked or un- 
cooked, until " blown," and unfit for consump- 
tion (one man told me that he had found whole 
legs of mutton in the wash he bought from a 
great eating-house, but very rarely) : of potato- 
peelings ; of old and bad potatoes ; of "stock," or 
the remains of meat stewed for soup, which was 
not good enough for sale to be re-used by the 
poor; of parings of every kind of cheese or 
meat ; and of the many things which are con- 
sidered " only fit for pigs." 

It is not always, however, that the unconsumed 
food of great houses or of public bodies (where the 
dinners are a part of the institution) goes to the 
wash-tub. At Buckingham-palace, I am told, it 
is given to poor people who have tickets for the 
receipt of it. At Lincoln's-inn the refuse or 
leavings of the bar dinners are sold to men who 
retail them, usually small chandlers, and the poor 
people, who have the means, buy this broken 
meat very readily at id., 6d., and 8d. the pound, 
which is cheap for good cooked meat. Pie-crust, 
obtained by its purveyors in the same way, is 
sold, perhaps with a small portion of the contents 
of the pie, in penny and twopenny-worths. A 
man familiar with this trade told me that among 
the best customers for this kind of second-hand 
food were women of the town of the poorer class, 
who were always ready, whenever they had a 
few pence at command, to buy what was tastj', 
cheap, and ready-cooked, because " they hadn't 
no trouble with it, but only just to eat it." 

One of the principal sources of the " wash " 
supply is the cook-shops, or eating-houses, where 
the " leavings " on the plates are either the per- 
quisites of the waiters or waitresses, or looked 
sharply after by master or mistress. There are 
also in these places the remains of soups, and the 
potato-peelings, &c., of which I have spoken, 
together with the keen appropriation to a profit- 
able use of every crumb and scrap — when it is a 
portion of the gains of a servant, or when it adds 
to the receipts of the proprietor. In calculating 
the purchase-value of the good-will of an eating- 
house, the " wash " is as carefully considered as is 
the number of daily guests. 

One of the principal street-buyers from the 
eating-houses, and in several parts of town, is | 
Jemmy Divine, of Lambeth. He is a pig-dealer, 
but also sells his wash to others who keep pigs. 
He sends round a cart and horse under the care 
of a boy, or of a man, whom he may have em- 
ployed, or drives it himself, and he often has more 
carts than one. In his cart are two or three tubs, 
well secured, so that they may not be jostled out, 
into which the wash is deposited. He contracts 
by the week, month, or quarter, with hotel-keepers 
and others, for their wash, paying from 10/. to as 
high as 501. a year, about 20/. being an average 
for well-frequented taverns and " dining-rooms." 
The wash-tubs on the premises of these buyers 
are often oflfensive, sometimes sending forth very 
sour smells. 

In Sharp's-alley, Smithfield, is another man 
buying quantities of wash, and buying fat and 



grease extensively. There is one also in Prince's- 
street, Lambeth, who makes it his sole business 
to collect hogs'-wash ; he was formerly a coal- 
heaver and wretchedly poor, but is now able to 
make a decent livelihood in this trade, keeping a 
pony and cart He generally keeps about 30 
pigs, but also sells hogs' food retail to any pig- 
keeper, the price being id. to 6ci. a pail-full, ac- 
cording to the quality, as the collectors are always 
anxious to have the wash " rich," and will not 
buy it if cabbage-leaves or the parings of green 
T^etables form a part of it. This man and the 
others often employ lads to go round for wash, 
paying them 2». a week, and finding them in board. 
They are the same class of boys as those I have 
described as coster-boys, and are often strong 
young fellows. These lads — or men hired for the 
purpose — are sometimes sent round to the smaller 
cook-shops and to private houses, where the wash is 
given to them for the trouble of carrying it away, 
in preference to its being thrown down the drain. 
Sometimes only \d. a pail is paid by the street- 
buyer, provided the stuff be taken away punctually 
and regularly. These youths or men carry pails 
after the fashion of a milkman. 

The supply from the workhouses is very large. 
It is often that the paupers do not eat all the 
rice-pudding allowed, or all the bread, while soup 
is frequently left, and potatoes ; and these leavings 
are worthless, except for pig-meat, as they would 
soon turn sour. It is the same, though not to the 
lame extent, in the prisons. 

What I have said of some of the larger eating- 
hoosea relates also to the club-houses. 

There are a number of wash-buyers in the 
suburbs, who purchase, or obtain their stock gra- 
tuitously, at gentlemen's houses, and retail it 
either to those who feed pigs as a business, or 
else to the many, I was told, who live a little 
way out of town, and " like to grow their own 
bacon." Many of these men perform the work 
themselves, without a horse and cart, and are on 
their feet every day and all day long, except on 
Sundays, carrying hogs'-wash from the seller, or to 
the buyer. One man, who had been in this trade 
at Woolwich, told me that he kept pigs at one 
time, but ceased to do so, as his customers often 
murmured at the thin quality of the wash, declar- 
mg that he gave all the best to his own animals. 

If it be estimated that there are 200 men daily 
buying hogs'-wash in London and the suburbs, 
within 15 miles, and that each collect3 only 20 
pails per day, paying 2d. per pail (thus allowing 
for wliat is collected without purchase), we find 
10,400^. expended annually in buying hogs'-wash. 

Of the Strbbt-Buiebs o» Tea-Leaves. 
An extensive trade, but less extensive, I am in- 
formed, than it was a few years ago, is carried on 
in t«a-ieaves, or in the leaves of the herb after 
their baring been subjected, in the usual way, to 
decoction. These leares are, so to speak, re- 
manufactured, ia spite of great risk and frequent 
exposure, and in defiance of the law. The 17th 
Geo. III., e. 29, if positiTO and stringent on the 
subject :— 

" Every person, whether a dealer in or seller 
of tea, or not, who shall dye or fabricate any sloe- 
leaves, liquorice-leaves or the leaves of tea that 
have been used, or the leaves of the ash, elder or 
other tree, shrub or plant, in imitation of tea, or 
who shall mix or colour such leaves with terra 
Japonica, copperas, sugar, molasses, clay, logwood 
or other ingredient, or who shall sell or expose to 
sale, or have in custody, any such adulterations 
in imit;ition of tea, shall for every pound forfeit, 
on conviction, by the oath of one witness, before 
one justice, 5^. ; or, on non-payment, be committed 
to the House of Correction for not more than 
twelve or less than six months." 

The same act also authorizes a magistrate, on the 
oath of an excise officer, or any one, by whom he 
suspects this illicit trade to be carried on, to seize 
the herbs, or spurious teas, and the whole appa- 
ratus that may be found on the premises, the 
herbs to be burnt and the other articles sold, the 
proceeds of such a sale, after the payment of ex- 
penses, going half to the informer and half to the 
poor of the parish. 

It appears evident, from the words of this act 
which I have italicised, that the use of tea-leaves 
for the robbery of the public and the defrauding 
of the revenue has been long in practice. The 
extract also shows what other cheats were formerly 
resorted to — the substitutes most popular with the 
tea-manufacturers at one time being sloe-leaves. If, 
however, one-tenth of the statemeats touching the 
applications of the leaves of the sloe-tree, and of the 
juice of its sour, astringent fruit, during the war- 
time, had any foundation in truth, the sloe must 
have been regarded commercially as one of the 
most valuable of our native productions, supplying 
our ladies with their tea, and our gentlemen with 
their port-wine. 

Women and men, three-fourths of the number 
being women, go about buying tea-leaves of the 
female servants in the larger, and of the shop- 
keepers' wives in the smaller, houses. But the 
great purveyors of these things are the char- 
women. In the houses where they char the tea- 
leaves are often reserved for them to be thrown on 
the carpets when swept, as a means of allaying the 
dust, or else they form a part of their perquisites, 
and are often asked for if not offered. The mis- 
tress of a coffee-shop told me that her charwoman, 
employed in cleaning every other morning, had 
the tea-leaves as a part of her remuneration, or as 
a matter of course. What the charwoman did 
with them her employer never inquired, although 
she was always anxious to obtain tliem, and she 
referred me to the poor woman in question, I 
found her in a very clean apartment on the second 
floor of a decent house in Soraers-town ; a strong 
hale woman, with what may be called an indus- 
trious look. She was middle-aged, and a widow, 
with one daughter, then a nursemaid in the neigh- 
bourhood, and had regular employment. 

" Yes," she said, •' I get the tea-leaves when- 
ever I can, and the most at two coffee-shops that 
I work at, but neither of them have so many as 
they used to have. I think it 's because cocoa 'a 
come so much to be asked for in them, and ao 



they sell less tea. I buy tea-leaves only at one 
place. It 's a very large family, and I give the 
servant ^d. and sometimes Zd. or 2.d. a fortnight 
for them, but I 'm nothing in pocket, for the 
young girl is a bit of a relation of mine, and it 's 
like a trifle of pocket-money for her. She gives a 
penny every time she goes to her chapel, and so 
do I ; there 's a box for it fixed near the door. 
yes, her mistress knows I buy them, for her 
mistress knew me before she was married, and 
that's about 15 or 16 years since. When I've 
got this basin (producing it) full I sell it, generally 
for id. I don't know what the leaves in it will 
weigh, and I have never sold them by weight, but 
I believe some have. Perhaps they might weigh, 
as damp as some of them arc, about a pound. I 
sell them to a chandler now. I have sold them to a 
rag-and-bottle-shop. I 've had men and Avomen call 
upon me and offer to buy them, but not lately, and 
I never liked the looks of them, and never sold 
them any. I don't know what they 're wanted 
for, but I 've heard that they 're mixed with new 
tea. I have nothing to do with that. I get them 
honestly and sell them honestly, and that 's all I 
can say about it. Every little helps, and if rich 
people won't pay poor people properly, then poor 
people can't be expected to be very nice. But I 
don't complain, and that's all I know about it." 

The chandler in question knew nothing of the 
trade in tea-leaves, he said ; he bought none, and 
he did not know that any of the shopkeepers did, 
and he could not form a notion what they could 
be wanted for, if it wasn't to sweep carpets ! 

This mode of buying or collecting is, I am 
told the commonest mode of any, and it certainly 
presents some peculiarities. The leaves Avhich 
are to form the spurious tea are collected, in 
great measure, by a class who are perhaps more 
likely than any other to have themselves to 
buy and drink the stuff which they have helped 
to produce ! By charwomen and washer-women 
a " nice cup of tea" in the afternoon duidng 
their work is generally classed among the 
comforts of existence, yet they are the very per- 
sons who sell the tea-leaves which are to make 
their ''much prized beverage." It is curious 
to reflect also, that as tea-leaves are used indis- 
criminately for being re-made into what is con- 
sidered new tea, what must be the strength of our 
tea in a few years. Now all housewives complain 
that twice the quantity of tea is required to make 
the infusion of the same strength as formerly, and 
if the collection of old tea-leaves continues, and the 
refuse leaves are to be dried and re-dried perpe- 
tualh', surely we must get to use pounds where 
we now do ounces. 

A man formerly in the tea-leaf business, and 
very anxious not to be known — but upon whose 
information, I am assured from a respectable 
source, full reliance may be placed — ^gave me the 
following account : — 

" My father kept a little shop in the general 
line, and I helped him; so I was partly brought 
up to the small way. But I was adrift by my- 
self when I was quite young — 18 or so perhaps. 
I can read and write well enough, but I was 

rather of too gay a turn to be steady. Besides, 
father was very poor at times, and could seldom 
pay me anything, if I worked ever so. He was 
very fond of his belly too, and I 've known him, 
Avhen he's had a bit of luck, or a run of business, 
go and stuff hisself with fat roast pork at a 
cook-shop till he could hardly waddle, and then 
come home and lock hisself upstairs in his bed- 
room and sleep three parts of the afternoon. (My 
mother was dead.) But father was a kind-hearted 
man for all that, and for all his roast pork, was as 
thin as a whipping-post. I kept myself when I 
left him, just off and on like, by collecting 
grease, and all that ; it can't be done so easy now, 
I fancy ; so I got into the tea-leaf business, but 
father had nothing to do with it. An elderly 
sort of a woman who I met with in my collecting, 
and who seemed to take a sort of fancy to me, put 
me up to the leaves. She was an out-and-out 
hand at anything that way herself. Then I bought 
tea-leaves with other things, for I suppose for four 
or five years. How long ago is iti 0, never 
mind, sir, a few years, I bought them at many 
sorts of houses, and carried a box of needles, and 
odds and ends, as a sort of introduction. There 
wasn't much of that wanted though, for I called, 
when I could, soon in the mornings before the 
family was up, and some ladies don't get up till 
10 or 11 you know. The masters wasn't much ; 
it was the mistresses I cared about, because they 
are often such Tartars to the maids and always 
a-poking in the way. 

" I 've tried to do business in the great lords' 
houses in the squares and about the parks, but 
there was mostly somebody about there to hinder 
you. Besides, the servants in such places are 
often on board Avages, and often, when they 're 
not on board wages, find their own tea and sugar, 
and little of the tea-leaves is saved when every 
one has a separate pot of tea ; so there 's no good 
to be done there. Large houses in trade where 
a number of young- men is boarded, drapers or 
grocers, is among the best places, as there is often a 
housekeeper there to deal with, and no mistress 
to bother. I always bought by the lot. If you 
offered to weigh you would not be able to clear 
anything, as they 'd be sure to give the leaves a 
extra wetting. I put handfuUs of the leaves to 
my nose, and could tell from the smell whether 
they were hard drawn or not. When they isn't 
hard drawn they answer best, and them I put 
to one side. I had a bag like a lawyer's blue 
bag, with three divisions 'in it, to put my leaves 
into, and so keep them 'sunder. Yes, I 've bought 
of charwomen, but somehow I think they did'nt 
much admire selling to me. I hardly know how 
I made them out, but one told me of another. 
They like the shops better for their leaves, I 
think ; because they can get a bit of cheese, or 
snuff, or candles for them there ; though I don't 
know much about the shop-work in this line. 
I 've often been tried to be took in by the ser- 
vants. I 've found leaves in the lot offered to 
me to buy what was all dusty, and had been used 
for sweeping; and if I'd sold them with my 
stock they 'd have been stopped out of the next 



money. I 've had tea-leaves given me by servants 
oft enough, for I used to sweetheart them a bit, 
just to get over them ; and they've laughed, and 
asked me whatever I could want with them. As 
for price, why, I judged what a lot was worth, 
and gave accordingly — from Irf. to \s. I never 
gave more than \s. for any one lot at a time, and 
that had been put to one side for me in a large 
concern, for about a fortnight I suppose. I can't 
say how many people had been tea'd on them. 
If it was a housekeeper, or anybody that way, 
that I bought of, there was never anything said 
about what they was wanted for. "What did I 
want them fori Why, to sell again ; and though 
hini OS 1 sold them to never said so, I knew they 
was to dry over again. I know nothing about 
who he waa, or where he lived. The woman I 
told you of sent him to me. I suppose I cleared 
about 10s. a week on them, and did a little in 
other things beside; perhaps I cleared rather 
more than \0s. on leaves some weeks, and 5s. at 
others. The party as called upon me once a week 
to buy my leaves was a very polite man, and seemed 
quite the gentleman. There was no weighing. 
He examined the lot, and said ' so much.' He 
wouldn't stand 'bating, or be kept haggling ; and 
his money was down, and no nonsense. What 
cost me 5«. I very likely got three half-crowns 
for. It was no great trade, if you consider the 
trouble. I 've sometimes carried the leaves that 
he 'd packed in papers, and put into a carpet-bag, 
where there was others, to a coffee-shop j they 
always had 'till called for' marked on a card 
then. I asked no questions, but just left them. 
There was two, and sometimes four boys, as used 
to bring me leaves on Saturday nights. I think 
they was charwomen's sons, but I don't know for 
a positive, and I don't know how they made me 
out. I think I was one of the tip-tops of the 
trade at one time ; some weeks I *ve laid out a 
SOT. (sovereign) in leaves. I haven't a not-ion 
how many 'sin the line, or what's doing now; 
but much the game I 've no doubt. I 'm glad 
I've done with it" 

I am told by those who are as well-informed on 
the subject as is perhaps possible, when a surrep- 
titious and dishonest traffic is the sul^ject of inquiry, 
that although less spurious tea is sold, there are 
more makers of it. Two of the principal manu- 
facturers have of late, however, been prevented 
carrying on the business by the intervention of 
tlie excise officers. The spurious tea-men are 
als'> til- buyers of "wrecked tea," that is, of tea 
which has been part of the salvage of a wrecked 
Teste], and is damaged or spoiled entirely by 
tl)e salt water. This is re-dried and dyed, so ns 
to appear fresh and new. It is dyed with 
Fnusian blue, which gives it what an ex- 
tensive tea-dealer descrilied to me as an " in- 
t«oaely fine green." It it then mixed with the 
coonnonest Gunpowder teas and with the strongest 
Yoaog Uysons, and has always a kind of "me- 
tallic" finell, somewhat like that of a copper 

vessel after friction in its cleaning. These teas are 
usually sold at 4s. the pound. 

Sloe-leaves for spurious tea, as I have before 
stated, were in extensive use, but this manufac- 
ture ceased to exist about 20 years ago. Now 
the spurious material consists only of the old tea- 
leaves, at least so far as experienced tradesmen 
know. The adulteration is, however, I am as- 
sured, more skilfully conducted thfin it used to 
be, and its staple is of far easier procuration. 
The law, though it makes the use of old tea- 
leaves, as components of what is called tea, 
punishable, is nevertheless silent as to their sale 
or purchase ; they can be collected, therefore, with 
a comparative impunity. 

The tea-leaves are dried, dyed (or re-dyed), 
and shrivelled on plates of hot metal, carefully 
tended. The dyes used are those I have men- 
tioned. These teas, when mixed, are hawked in 
the countr}', but not in town, and are sold to the 
hawkers at 7 lbs. for 21s. The quarters of 
pounds are retailed at Is. A tea-dealer told me 
that he could recognise this adulterated commo- 
dity, but it was only a person skilled in teas who 
could do so, by its coarse look. For green tea — 
the mixture to which the prepared leaves are mostly 
devoted — the old tea is blended with the com- 
monest Gunpowders and Hysons. No dye, I am 
told, is required when black tea is thus re-made ; 
but I know that plumbago is often used to simu- 
late the bloom. The inferior shopkeepers sell 
this adulterated tea, especially in neighbourhoods 
where the poor Irish congregate, or any of the 
lowest class of the poor Knglish. 

To obtain the statistics of a trade which exists 
in spite not only of the vigilance of the excise 
and police officers but of public reprobation, and 
which is essentially a secret trade, is not possible. 
I heard some, who were likely to be well-in- 
formed, conjecture — for it cannot honestly be called 
more than a conjecture — that between 500 and 
1000 lbs., perhaps 700 lbs., of old tea-leaves were 
made up weekly in London ; but of this he 
thought that about an eighth was spoilt by burn- 
ing in the process of drying. 

Another gentleman, however, thought that, at 
the very least, double the above quantity of old 
tea-leaves was weekly manufactured into new 
tea. According to his estimate, and he was no 
mean authority, no less than 1600 lbs. weekly, 
or 78,000 lbs. per annum of this trash are yearly 
poured into the London market. The average 
consumption of tea is about 1^ lb. per annum for 
each man, woman, or child in the kingdom ; 
coffee being the pHncij'al unfermcnted beverage 
of the poor. Those, however, of the poorest who 
drink tea consume about two ounces per week 
(half an ounce serving them twice), or one pound 
in the course of every two months. This makes 
the annual consumption of the adult tea-drinking 
poor amount to 6 lbs., and it is upon this class 
the spurious tea is chiefly foisted. 




These men, for by far the great majority are men, 
may be divided, according to the nature of their 
occupations, into three classes : — 

1. The bone-grubbers and rag-gatherer?, who 
are, indeed, the same individuals, the pure-finders, 
and the cigar-end and old wood collectors. 

2. The dredgermen, the mud-larks, and the 

3. The dustmen and nigbtmen, the sweeps and 
the scavengers. 

The first class go abroad daily to find in the 
streets, and carry away with them such things as 
bones, rags, " pure " (or dogs'-dung), which no one 
appropriates. These they sell, and on that sale 
support a wretched life. The second class of 
people are also as strictly finders ; but their in- 
dustry, or rather their laboiu*, is confined to the 
river, or to that subterranean city of sewerage 
unto which the Thames supplies the great outlets. 
These persons may not be immediately connected 
with the streets of Loudon, but their pursuits are 
carried on in the open air (if the sewer-air may 
be so included), and are all, at any rate, out-of- 
door avocations. The third class is distinct from 
either of these, as the labourers comprised in it 
are not finders, but collectors or removers of the 
dirt and filth of our streets and houses, and of the 
soot of our chimneys. 

The two first classes also diflfer from the third 
in the fact that the sweeps, dustmen, scavengers, 
&c., are paid (and often large sums) for the re- 
moval of the refuse they collect; whereas the 
bone-grubbers, and mud-larks, and pure-finders, 
and dredgermen, and sewer-hunters, get for their 
pains only the value of the articles they gather. 

Herein, too, lies a broad distinction between the 
street-finder, or collector, and the street-buyer : 
though both deal principally with refuse, the 
buyer pays for what he is permitted to take away; 
whereas the finder or collector is either paid (like 
the sweep), or else he neither pays nor is paid 
(like the bone-grubber), for the refuse that he 

The third class of street-collectors also presents 
another and a markedly distinctive characteristic. 
They act in the capacity of servants, and do not 
depend upon chance for the result of their day's 
labour, but are put to stated tasks, being employed 
and paid a fixed sura for their work. To this 
description, however, some of the sweeps present an 
exception ; as when the sweep works on his own 
account, or, as it is worded, " is his own master." 

The public health requires the periodical clean- 
ing of the streets, and the removal of the refuse 
matter from our dwellings ; and the man who con- 
tracts to carry on this work is decidedly a street- 
collector; for on what he collects or removes depends 
the amount of his remuneration. Thus a wealthy 
contractor for the public scavengery, is as entirely 
one of the st^ee^folk as the unskilled and ig- 
norant labourer he employs. Tiie master lives, 

and, in many instances, has become rich, on the 
results of his street employment; for, of course, 
the actual workmen are but as the agents or 
sources of his profit. Even the collection of 
"pure" (dogs'-dung) in the streets, if conducted 
by the servants of any tanner or leather dresser, 
either for the purposes of his own trade or for 
sale to others, might be the occupation of a wealthy 
man, deriving a small profit from the labour of 
each particular collector. The same may also be 
said of bone-grubbing, or any similar occupation, 
however insignificant, and now abandoned to the 

Were the collection of mud and dust carried on 
by a number of distinct individuals — that is to 
say, were each individual dustman and scavenger 
to collect on his own account, there is no doubt 
that no one man could amass a fortune by such 
means — while if the collection of bones and rags 
and even dogs'-dung were carried on " in the large 
way," that is to say, by a number of individual 
collectors working for one " head man," even the 
picking up of the most abject refuse of the metro- 
polis might become the source of great riches. 

The bone-grubber and the mud-lark (the 
searcher for refuse on the banks of the river) 
differ little in their pursuits or in their character- 
istics, excepting that the mud-larks are generally 
boys, which is more an accidental than a definite 
distinction. The grubbers are with a few excep- 
tions stupid, unconscious of their degradation, and 
with little anxiety to be relieved from it. They 
are usually tacitiu-n, but this taciturn habit is 
common to men whose callings, if they cannot be 
called solitary, are pursued with little communi- 
cation with others. I was informed by a man 
who once kept a little beer-shop near Friar-street, 
South wark Bridge-road (where then and still, he 
thought, was a bone-grinding establishment), that 
the bone-grubbers who carried their sacks of bones 
thither sometimes had a pint of beer at his house 
when they had received their money. They 
usually sat, he told me, silently looking at the 
corners of the floor — for they rarely lifted their 
eyes up — as if they were expecting to see some bones 
or refuse there available for their bags. Of this 
inertion, perhaps fatigue and despair may be a 
part. I asked some questions of a man of this 
class whom I saw pick up in a road in the suburbs 
something that appeared to have been a coarse 
canvas apron, although it was wet after a night's 
rain and half covered with mud. I inquired of 
him what he thought about when he trudged along 
looking on the ground on every side. His answer 
was, " Of nothing, sir." I believe that no better 
description could be given of that vacuity of mind 
or mental inactivity which seems to form a part 
of the most degraded callings. The minds of such 
men, even without an approach to idiotcy, appear 
to be a blank. One characteristic of these poor 
fellows, bone-grubbers and mud-larks, is that they 


- m 




T ii E II U D - L A R K. 

iFrom a Daguerrmtyfm hy Okaro.] 



are very poor, although I am told some of them, 
the older men, have among the poor the reputa- 
tion of being misers. It ia not unusual for the 
youths belonging to these callings to live with 
their parents and give them the amount of their 

The sewer-huntera are again distinct, and a far 
more intelligent and adventuroua clasa ; but they 
vork in gangs. They must be familiar with the 
course of the tides, or they might be drowned at 
high water. They must have quick eyes too, not 
merely to descry the objects of their search, but 
to mark the points and bearings of the subterra- 
neous roads they traverse ; in a word, " to know 
their way underground." There is, moreover, 
some spirit of daring in venturing into a dark, 
solitary sewer, the chart being only in the memory, 
and in braving the possibility of noxious vapours, 
and the by no means insignificant dangers of the 
rats infesting these places. 

The dredgermen, the finders of the water, are 
again distinct, as being watermen, and working in 
boats. In some foreign parts, in Naples, for in- 
stance, men carrying on similar pursuits are also 
divers for anything lost in the bay or its confluent 
waters. One of these men, known 'some years 
ago as " the Fish," could remain (at least, so say 
those whom there is no reason to doubt) three 
hours imder the water without rising to the sur- 
face to take breath. He was, it is said, web- 
footed, naturally, and partially web-fingered. The 
King of the Two Sicilies once threw a silver cup 
into the sea for " the Fish " to bring up and retain 
as a reward, but the poor diver was never seen 
again. It was believed that he got entangled 
among the weeds on the rocks, and so perished. 
The dredgermen are necessarily well acqmiinted 
with the sets of the tide and the course of 
the currents in the Thames. Every one of 
these men works on his own account, being as it 
were a " small master," which, indeed, is one of 
the great attractions of open-air pursuits. The 
dredgermen also depend for their maintenance 
upon the sale of what they find, or the rewards 
they receive. 

It is otherwise, however, as was before observed, 
with the third class of the street-finders, or rather 
collectors. In all the capacities of dustmen, 
nightmen, scavengers, and sweeps, the employers 
of the men are paid to do the work, the proceeds 
of the street-collection forming only a portion of 
the employer's remuneration. The sweep has the 
Boot in addition to his %d. or 1«.; the master 
scavenger has a payment from the parish funds to 
sweep the streets, though the clearance of the 
cesspools, &c., in private houses, may be an in- 
dividual baripdm The whole refuse of the 
streets belongs to the contractor to make the best 
of, but it must bo cleared away, and so must the 
contents of a dust-bin; for if a mass of dirt become 
offensiTe, the householder may be indicted for a 
nuisance, and municipal by-laws require its re- 
aovaL It is thus made a matter of compulsion 
that the dust be removed from a private house ; 
but it is otherwise with the soot. Why a man 
should be permitted to let soot accumulate in his 

chimney — perhaps exposing himself, his family, 
his lodgers, and his neighbours to the dangers of 
fire, it may not be easy to accoimt for, especially 
when we bear in mind that the same man may not 
accumulate cabbage-leaves and fish-tails in his yard. 

The dustmen are of the plodding class of labour- 
ers, mere labourers, who require only bodily 
power, and possess little or no mental develop- 
ment. Many of the agricultural labourers are of 
this order, and the dustman often seems to be the 
stolid ploughman, modified by a residence in a 
city, and engaged in a peculiar calling. They are 
generally uninformed, and no few of them are 
dustmen because their fathers were. The same 
may be said of nightmen and scavengers. At one 
time it was a popular, or rather a vulgar notion 
that many dustmen had become possessed of large 
sums, from the plate, coins, and valuables they 
found in clearing the dust-bins — a manifest 
absurdity; but I was told by a marine-store 
dealer that he had known a young woman, a 
dustman's daughter, sell silver spoons to a neigh- 
bouring marine-store man, who was "not very 

The circumstances and character of the chimney- 
sweeps have, since Parliament " put down " the 
climbing boys, undergone considerable change. 
The sufferings of many of the climbing boys were 
very great. They were often ill-lodged, ill-fed, 
barely-clad, forced to ascend hot and narrow flues, 
and subject to diseases — such as the chimney- 
sweep's cancer — peculiar to their calling. The 
child hated his trade, and was easily tempted to 
be a thief, for prison was an asylum ; or he grew 
up a morose tyrannical fellow as journeyman or 
master. Some of the young sweeps became very 
bold thieves and house-breakers, and the most 
remarkable, as far as personal daring is concerned : 
the boldest feat. of escape from Kewgate was per- 
formed by a youth who had been brought up a 
chimney-sweep. lie climbed up the two bare 
rugged walls of a corner of the interior of the 
prison, in the open air, to the height of some 60 
feet. lie had only the use of his hands, knees, 
and feet, and a single slip, from fear or pain, 
would have been death ; he surmounted a parapet 
after this climbing, and gained the roof, but was 
recaptured before he could get clear away. He 
was, moreover, a sickly, and reputed a cowardly, 
young man, and ended his career in this country 
by being transported. 

A master sweep, now in middle age, and a man 
" well to do," told me that when a mere child he 
had been apprenticed out of the workhouse to a 
sweep, such being at that time a common occurrence. 
He had undergone, he said, great hardships while 
learning his business, and was long, from the in- 
diflferent character of his class, ashamed of being 
a sweep, both as journeyman and master ; but the 
sweeps were so much improved in character now, 
that he no longer felt himself disgraced in his 

The sweeps are more intelligent than the mere 
ordinary labourers I have written of under this 
head, but they are, of course, far from being aji 
educated body. 



The further and more minute characteristics of 
the curious class of street-finders or collectors will 
be found in the particular details and statements. 

Among the finders there is perhaps the greatest 
poverty existing, they being tlie very lowest class 
of all the street-people. Many of the very old 
live on the hard dirty crusts they pick up out of 
the roads in the course of their rounds, washing 
them and steeping them in water before they eat 
them. Probably that vacuity of mind which is a 
distinguishing feature of the class is the mere 
atony or emaciation of the mental faculties pro- 
ceeding from — though often producing in the want 
of energy that it necessarily begets — the extreme 
•wretchedness of the class. But even their liberty 
and a crust— as it frequently literally is — appears 
preferable to these people to the restrictions of 
the workhouse. Those who are unable to com- 
prehend the inertia of both body and mind be- 
gotten bj' the despair of long-continued misfortune 
are referred to page 357 of the first volume of this 
work, where it will be found that a tinman, in 
speaking of the misery connected with the early 
part of his street-career, describes the effect of 
extreme want as producing not only an absence of 
all hope, but even of a desire to better the con- 
dition. Those, however, who have studied the 
mysterious connection between body and mind, 
and observed what different creatures they them- 
selves are before and after dinner, can well under- 
stand that a long-continued deficiency of food 
must have the same weakening effect on the muscles 
of the mind and energy of the thoughts and will, 
as it has on the limbs themselves. 

Occasionally it will be found that the utter 
abjectness of the bone-grubbers has arisen from 
the want of energy begotten by intemperate 
habits. The workman has nothing but this same 
energy to live upon, and the permanent effect of 
stimulating liquors is to produce an amount of de- 
pression corresponding to the excitement momen- 
tarily caused by them in the frame. The operative, 
therefore, who spends his earnings on " drink," 
not only squanders them on a brutalising luxury, 
but deprives himself of the power, and conse- 
quently of the disposition, to work for more, and 
hence that idleness, carelessness, and neglect which 
are the distinctive qualities of the drunkard, 
and sooner or later compass his ruin. 

For the poor wretched children who are reared 
to this the lowest trade of all, surely even the 
most insensible and unimaginative must feel the 
acutest pity. There is, however, this consolation : 
I have heard of none, with the exception of the 
more prosperous sewer-hunters and dredgermen, 
who have remained all their lives at street-finding. 
Still there remains much to be done by all those 
who are impressed with a sense of the trust that 
has been confided to them, in the possession of those 
endowments which render their lot in this world 
so much more easy than that of the less lucky 

Bone-Grubbebs and Rag-Gathebers. 
The habits of the bone-grubbers and rag-gather- 
ers, the " pure," or dogs'-dung collectors, and the 

cigar-end finders, are necessarily similar. All 
lead a wandering, unsettled sort of life, being 
compelled to be continually on foot, and to travel 
many miles every day in search of the articles in 
which they deal. They seldom have any fixed 
place of abode, and are mostly to be found at 
night in one or other of the low lodging-houses 
throughout London. The majority are, moreover, 
persons who have been brought up to other em- 
ployments, but who from some failing or mishap 
have been reduced to such a state of distress that 
they were obliged to take to their present occupa- 
tion, and have never after been able to get away 
from it. 

Of the whole class it is considered that there 
are from 800 to 1000 resident in London, one- 
half of whom, at the least, sleep in the cheap 
lodging-houses. The Government returns esti- 
mate the number of mendicants' lodging-houses 
in London to be upwards of 200. Allowing two 
bone-grubbers and pure-finders to frequent each 
of these lodging-houses, there will be upwards of 
400 availing themselves of such nightly shelters. 
As many more, I am told, live in garrets and 
ill-furnished rooms in the lowest neighbourhoods. 
There is no instance on record of any of the class 
renting even the smallest house for himself. 

Moreover there are in London during the 
winter a number of persons called " trampers," 
who employ themselves at that season in street- 
finding. These people are in the summer country 
labourers of some sort, but as soon as the harvest 
and potato-getting and hop-picking are over, and 
they can find nothing else to do in the country, 
they come back to London to avail themselves of 
the shelter of the night asylums or refuges for the 
destitute (usually called "straw-yards" by the 
poor), for if they remained in the provinces at 
that period of the year they would be forced to 
have recourse to the unions, and as they can only 
stay one night in each place they would be 
obliged to travel from ten to fifteen miles per 
day, to which in the winter they have a strong 
objection. They come up to London in the 
winter, not to look for any regular work or em- 
ployment, but because they know that they can 
have a nightly shelter, and bread night and 
morning for nothing, during that season, and can 
during the day collect bones, rags, &c. As soon : 
as the " straw-yards " close, which is generally \ 
about the beginning of April, the "trampers" 
again start off to the country in small bands of 
two or three, and without any fixed residence 
keep wandering about all the summer, sometimes 
begging their way through the villages and sleep- 
ing in the casual wards of the unions, and some- 
times, when hard driven, working at hay-making 
or any other light labour. 

Those among the bone-grubbers who do not 
belong to the regular "trampers" have been 
either navvies, or men who have not been able 
to obtain employment at their own business, and 
have been driven to it by necessity as a means of 
obtaining a little bread for the time being, and 
without any intention of pursuing the calling 
regularly; but, as I have said, when once in the 



i business they cannot leave it, for at least they 
i make certain of getting a few halfpence by it, and 
j their present necessity does not allow tliem time 
' to look after other employment. There are many 
! of the street-tinders who are old men and women, 
and many very young children who have no other 
means of living. Since the famine in Ireland 
vast numbers of that unfortunate people, particu- 
larly boys and girls, have been engaged in gather- 
ing bones and rags in the streets. 

The bone-picker and rag gatherer may be known 
at once by the greasy bag which he carries on his 
back. Usually he has a stick in his hand, and 
this is armed with a spike or hook, for the pur- 
pose of more easily turning over the heaps of 
ashes or dirt that are thrown out of the houses, 
and discovering whether they contain anything 
that is saleable at the rag and-bottle or marine- 
store shop. The bone-grubber generally seeks out 
the narrow Lack streets, where dust and refuse 
are cast, or where any dust-bins are accessible. 
The articles for which he chiefly searches are rags 
and bones — rags he prefers — but waste metal, 
such as bits of lead, pewter, copper, brass, or old 
iron, he prizes above all. Whatever he meets 
with that he knows to be in any way saleable he 
puts into the bag at his back. He often tinds large 
lumps of bread which have been thrown out as 
waste by the servants, and occasionally the house- 
keepers will give him some bones on which there 
is a little meat remaining; these constitute the 
morning meal of most of the class. One of my 
informants had a large rump of beef bone given to 
him a few days previous to my seeing him, on 
which "there was not less than a pound of 

The bone-pickers and rag-gatherers are all early 
risers. They have all their sepamte beats or dis- 
tricts, and it is most important to them that they 
should reach their district before any one else of 
the same class can go over the ground. Some of 
the beats lie as far as Feckham, Clapham, Ham- 
mersmith, Hampstcad, Bow, Stratford, and indeed 
all parts within about tire miles of London. In 
summer time they rise at two in the morning, 
and sometimes earlier. It is not quite light at 
this hour— but bones and rags can be discovered 
before daybreak. The " grubbers " scour all 
quarters of London, but abound more particu- 
larly in the suburbs. In the neighbourhood of 
petticoat-lane and Kagfair, however, they are the 
most numerous on account of the greater quantity 
of rags which the Jews have to throw out. It 
usually takes the bone-picker from seven to nine 
hours to go over his rounds, during which time 
he travels from 20 to 30 miles with a qtmrter 
to a half hundredweight on his back. In the 
summer he ustudly reaches home about eleven 
of the day, and iu the winter about one or tv^. 
On his return home be proceeds to sort the con- 
tent* of his bag. He separates the rags from the 
bones, and these again from the old metal (if he 
be lucky enough to hare fuund any). He divides 
the rags into various lots, according as they are 
white or coloured ; and if he have picked up any 
pieces of canvaa or sacking, he makes these also 

into a separate parcel. When he has finished 
the sorting he takes his several lots to the rag- 
shop or the marine-store dealer, and realizes upon 
> them whatever they may be worth. For the 
white rags he gets from ^d. to Zd. per pound, 
according as they are clean or soiled. The white 
rags are very difficult to be found ; they are mostly 
very dirty, and are therefore sold with the coloured 
ones at the rate of about 5 lbs. for 2d. The 
bones are usually sold with the coloured rags 
at one and the same price. For fragments of 
canvas or sacking the grubber gets about three- 
farthings a pound ; and old bniss, copper, and 
pewter about Ad. (the marine-store keepers say 
5(^.), and old iron one farthing per pound, or six 
pounds for 1(/. The bone-grubber thinks he has 
done an excellent day's work if he can earn 8cZ.; 
and some of them, especially the very old and the 
very young, do not earn more than from 2d. to 
Zd. a day. To make IQd. a day, at the present 
price of rags and bones, a man must be remark- 
ably active and strong, — " ay ! and lucky, too," 
adds my informant. The average amount of earn- 
ings, I am told, varies from about Qd. to Srf. per 
day, or from 35. to 4*. a week ; and the highest 
amount that a man, the most brisk and persevering 
at the business, can by any possibility earn in 
one week is about bs., but this can only be accom- 
plished by great good fortune and industry — the 
usual weekly gains are about half that sura. In 
bad weather the bone-grubber cannot do so well, 
because the rags are wet, and then they cannot 
sell them. The majority pick up bones only in 
wet weather ; those who do gather rags during 
or after rain are obliged to wash and dry them 
before they can sell them. The state of the 
shoes of the rag and bone-picker is a very import- 
ant matter to him ; for if he be well shod he can 
get quickly over the ground ; but he is frequently 
lamed, and unable to make any progress from the 
blisters and gashes on his feet, occasioned by the 
want of proper shoes. 

Sometimes the bone-grubbers will pick up a 
stray sixpence or a shilling that has been dropped 
in the street. " The handkerchief I have round 
my neck," said one whom I saw, " I picked up 
with \s. in the corner. The greatest prize I 
ever found was the brass cap of the nave of a 
coach-wheel ; and I did once find a quarter of a 
pound of tobacco in Sun-street, Bishopsgaie. The 
best bit of luck of all that I ever had was finding 
a cheque for 12^ 15*. lying in the gateway of the 
mourning-coach yard in Titchbome-street, Hay- 
market I was going to light my pipe with it, 
indeed I picked it up for that purpose, and then 
saw it was a cheque. It was on the London and 
County Bank, 21, Lombard-street. I took it 
there, and got 10«. for finding it. I went there 
in my rags, as I am now, and the cashier stared 
a bit at me. The cheque was drawn by a Mr. 
Knibb, and payable to a Mr. Cox. I did think I 
should have got the odd 15«. though." 

It has been stated that the average amount of 
the eaniings of the bone-pickers is 6^/. per day, or 
Z». per week, being 11. 16«. per annum for each 
person. It has also been r.hown that the number 



of persons engaged in the business may be esti- 
mated at about 800 ; hence the earnings of the 
entire number will amount to the sura of 20^. per 
day, or 120/. per week, which gives 6240/. as the 
annual earnings of the bone-pickers and rag- 
gatherers of London. It may also be computed 
that each of the grubbers gathers on an average 
20 lbs. weight of bone and rags ; and reckoning 
the bones to constitute three-fourths of the entire 
•weight, we thus find that the gross quantity of 
these articles gathered by the street-finders in the 
course of the year, amounts to 3,744,000 lbs. of 
bones, and 1,240,000 lbs. of rags. 

Between the London and St. Katherine's Docks 
and Rosemary Lane, there is a large district inter- 
laced with narrow lanes, courts, and alleys rami- 
fying into each other in the most intricate and dis- 
orderly manner, insomuch that it would be no 
easy matter for a stranger to work his way through 
the interminable confusion without the aid of a 
guide, resident in and well conversant with the 
locality. The houses are of the poorest description, 
and seem as if they tumbled into their places at 
random. Foul channels, huge dust-heaps, and a 
variety of other unsightly objects, occupy every 
open space, and dabbling among these are crowds 
of ragged dirty children who grub and wallow, as if 
in their native element. None reside in these places 
but the poorest and most wretched of the popula- 
tion, and, as might almost be expected, this, the 
cheapest and filthiest locality of London, is the 
head-quarters of the bone-grubbers and other 
street-finders. I have ascertained on the best au- 
thority, that from the centre of this place, within 
a circle of a mile in diameter, there dwell not 
less than 200 persons of this class. In this quarter 
I found a bone-gmbber who gave me the following 
account of himself : — 

" I was born in Liverpool, and when about 14 
years of age, my father died. He used to work about 
the Docks, and I used to run on errands for any 
person who wanted me. I managed to live by 
this after my father's death for three or four 
years. I had a brother older than myself, who 
went to France to work on the railroads, and when 
I was about 18 he sent for me, and got me to Avork 
with himself on the Paris and Rouen Railway, 
under McKenzie and Brassy, who had the con- 
tract. I worked on the railroads in France for 
four years, till the disturbance broke out, and then 
we all got notice to leave the country. I lodged 
at that time with a countryman, and had 12/., 
which I had saved out of my earnings. This sum 
I gave to my countryman to keep for me till we got 
to London, as I did not like to have it about me, 
for fear I 'd lose it The French people paid our 
fare from Rouen to Havre by the railway, and 
there put us on board a steamer to Southampton. 
There was about 50 of us altogether. When 
we got to Southampton, we all went before the 
mayor; we told him about how we had been 
driven out of France, and lie gave us a shilling a 
piece ; he sent some one with us, too, to get us a 
lodging, and told us to come again the next day. 
In the morning the mayor gave every one who 
was able to walk half-a-crown, and for those who 

were not able he paid their fare to London on the 
railroad. I had a sore leg at the time, and I came 
up by the train, and when I gave up my ticket at 
the station, the gentleman gave me a shilling more. 
' I couldn't find the man I had given my money to, 
because he had walked up ; and I went before the 
Lord Mayor to ask his advice ; he gave me 2s. Qd. 
I looked for work everywhere, but could get 
nothing to do ; and when the 2s. &d. was all 
spent, I heard that the man who had my money 
was on the London and York Railway in the 
country; however, I couldn't get that far for 
want of money then ; so I went again before the 
Lord Mayor, and he gave me two more, but 
told me not to trouble him any further. I told 
the Lord Mayor about the money, and then he sent 
an officer with me, who put me into a carriage on 
the railway. When I got down to where the 
man was at work, he wouldn't give me a farthing; 
I had given him the money without any witness 
bring present, and he said I could do nothing, 
because it was done in another country. I staid 
down there more than a week trying to get work 
on the railroad, but could not. I had no money 
and was nearly starved, when two or three took 
pity on me, and made up four or five shillings for 
me, to take me back again to London. I tried all 
I could to get something to do, till the money was 
nearly gone ; and then I took to selling lucifers, 
and the fly-papers that they use in the shops, and 
little things like that ; but I could do no good at 
this work, there was too many at it before me, 
and they knew more about it than I did. At 
last, I got so bad off I didn't know what to do ; 
but seeing a great many about here gathering 
bones and rags, I thought I 'd do so too — a poor 
fellow must do something. I was advised to do 
so, and I have been at it ever since. I forgot to 
tell you that my brother died in France. We had 
good wages there, four francs a day, or 35. 4(/, 
English ; I don't make more than 3cZ. or Ad. and 
sometimes 6c/. a day at bone-picking. I don't go 
out before daylight to gather anything, because 
the police takes my bag and throws all I 've ga- 
thered about the street to see if I have anything 
stolen in it. I never stole anything in all my life, 
indeed I 'd do anything before I 'd steal. Many 
a night I 've slept under an arch of the railway 
when I hadn't a penny to pay for my bed ; but 
whenever the police find me that way, they make 
me and the rest get up, and drive us on, and tell 
us to keep moving. I don't go out on wet days, 
there 's no use in it, as the things won't be bought. 
I can't wash and dry them, because I 'm in a 
lodging-house. There 's a great deal more than a 
100 bone-pickers about here, men, women, and 
children. The Jews in this lane and up in Petti- 
coat-lane give a good deal of victuals away on the 
Saturday. They sometimes call one of us in from 
the street to light the fire for them, or take oflf the 
kettle, as they must not do anything themselves 
on the Sabbath ; and then they put some food on 
the footpath, and throw rags and bones into the 
street for us, because they must not hand anything 
to us. There are some about here who get a 
couple of shillings' worth of goods, and go on 



board the ships in the Docks, and exchange them 
for bones and bits of old canvas among tlje sailors ; 
I 'd buy and do so too if I only had the money, but 
can't get it. The summer is the worst time for us, 
the winter is much better, for there is more meat 
used in winter, and then there are more bones." 
(Others say differently.) " I intend to go to the 
country this season, and try to get something to 
do at the hay-making and harvest. I make about 
2*. 6rf. a week, and the way I manage is this : 
sometimes I get a piece of bread about 12 o'clock, 
and I make my breakfast of that and cold water ; 
Tery seldom I have any dinner, — unless I earn M. 
I can't get any, — and then I have a basin of nice 
Boup, or a penn'orth of plum-pudding and a couple 
of baked 'tatoes. At night I get \d. worth of 
coffee, \d. worth of sugar, and \\d. «\'orth of 
bread, and then I have 2(/. a night left for my 
lodging ; I always try to manage that, for I 'd do 
anything sooner than stop out all night. I 'm 
always happy the day when I make id., for then 
I know I won't have to sleep in the street. The 
winter before last, there was a straw-yard down 
in Black Jack's-alley, where we used to go after 
six o'clock in the evening, and get ^ lb. of bread, 
and another ^ lb. in the morning, and then we 'd 
gather what we could in the daytime and buy 
Tictuala with what we got for it. We were well 
off then, but the straw-yard wasn't open at all last 
winter. There used to be 300 of us in there of a 
night, a great many of the dock-labourers and their 
femilies were there, for no work was to be got in 
the docks ; so they weren't able to pay rent, and 
were obliged to go in. I 've lost my health since I 
took to bone-picking, through the wet and cold in 
the winter, for I 've scarcely any clothes, and the 
wet gets to my feet through the old shoes ; this 
caused fcie last winter to be nine weeks in the 
hospital of the Whitechapel workhouse." 

The narrator of this tale seemed so dejected 
and broken in spirit, that it was with difficulty 
his story was elicited from him. He was evi- 
dently labouring under incipient consumption. I 
have every reason to believe that he made a 
truthful statement, — indeed, he did not appear to 
me to have sufficient intellect to invent a false- 
hood. It is a curious fact, indeed, with reference 
to the London street-finders generally, that they 
seem to possess less rational power than any other 
claM. They appear utterly incapable of trading 
eren in the most trifling commodities, probably 
from the fiict that buying articles for the purpose 
of selling them at a profit, requires an exercise of 
the mind to which they feel themselves incapable. 
B^[ging, too, requires some ingenuity or tact, in 
order to more the sympathies of the well-to-do, 
and the street-finders being incompetent for this, 
they work on day after day as long as they are 
able to crawl about in pursuit of their unprofit- 
able calling. This cannot be fairly said of the 
younger members of this class, who arc sent into 
the street* by their parents, and many of whom 
are afterwards able to find some moro reputable 
and more lucrative employment. As a body of 
r>eople, however, young and old, they mostly ex- 
hibit the same stupid, half-witted appearance. 

To show how bone-grubbers occasionally manage 
to obtain shelter during the night, the following 
incident may not be out of place. A few morn- 
ings past I accidentally encountered one of this 
class in a narrow back lane ; his ragged coat — the 
colour of the rubbish among which he toiled — was 
greased over, probably with the fat of the bones he 
gathered, and being mixed with the dust it seemed 
as if the man were covered with bird-lime. His 
shoes — torn and tied on his feet with pieces of cord 
— had doubtlessly been picked out of some dust-bin, 
while his greasy bag and stick unmistakably 
announced his calling. Desirous of obtaining all 
the information possible on this subject, I asked 
him a few questions, took his address, which he 
gave without hesitation, and bade him call on me 
in the evening. At the time appointed, however, 
he did not appear ; on the following day therefore 
I made way to the address he had given, and on 
reaching the spot I was astonished to find the house 
in which he had said he lived was uninhabited. 
A padlock was on the door, the boards of which 
were parting with age. There was not a whole 
pane of glass in any of the windows, and the 
frames of many of them were shattered or de- 
molished. Some persons in the neighbourhood, 
noticing me eyeing the place, asked whom I 
wanted. On my telling the man's name, which it 
appeared he had not dreamt of disguising, I was 
informed that he bad left the day before, saying he 
had met the landlord in the morning (for such it 
turned out he had fancied me to be), and that the 
gentleman had wanted him to come to his house, but 
he was afraid to go lest he should be sent to prison 
for breaking into the phice. I found, on inspec- 
tion, that the premises, though locked up, could 
be entered by the rear, one of the window-frames 
having been removed, so that admission could 
be obtained through the aperture. Availing my- 
self of the same mode of ingress, I proceeded to 
examine the premises. Nothing could well be 
more dismal or dreary than the interior. The 
floors were rotting with damp and mildew, espe- 
cially near the windows, where the wet found 
easy entrance. The walls were even slimy and 
discoloured, and everything bore the appearance 
of desolation. In one corner was strewn a bundle 
of dirty straw, which doubtlessly had served the 
bone-grubber for a bed, while scattered about the 
floor were pieces of bones, and small fragments of 
dirty rags, sufficient to indicate the calling of the 
late inmate. He had had but little difficulty in 
removing his property, seeing that it consisted 
solely of his bag and his stick. 

The following paragraph concerning the chiffo- 
niers or rag-gatherers of Paris appeared in the 
London journals a few weeks since : — 

" The fraternal association of rag-gatherers 
(chiffoniers) gave a grand banquet on Saturday 
last (2l8t of June). It took place at a public- 
house called the Pot Tricolore, near the Barrihe 
de Fontainhlcau, which is frequented by the rag- 
gathering fraternity. In this house there are 
three rooms, each of which is spcciallv doroted to 
the use of different classes of rag-gatherers ; one, 
the least dirty, is called the ' Chamber of Peers,' 



nnd is occupied by the first class — that is, those 
who possess a basket in a good state, and a crook 
ornamented with copper ; the second, called the 
' Chamber of Deputies,' belonging to the second 
class, is much less comfortable, and those who 
attend it have baskets and crooks not of first-rate 
quality ; the third room is in a dilapidated condi- 
tion, and is frequented by the lowest class of 
rag-gatherers who have no basket or crook, and 
who place what they find in the streets in a piece 
of sackcloth. They call themselves the 'Reunion 
des Vrais Proletaires.' The name of each room 
is written in chalk above the door ; and generally 
such strict etiquette is observed among the rag- 
gatherers that no one goes into the apartment not 
occupied by his own class. At Saturday's ban- 
quet, however, all distinctions of rank were laid 
aside, and delegates of each class united frater- 
nally. The president was the oldest rag-gatherer 
in Paris ; his age is 88, and he is called ' the 
Emperor.' The 'oanquet consisted of a sort of 
olla i^odnda, which the master of the establish- 
ment pompously called giheloite, though of what 
animal it was composed it was impossible to say. 
It Avas served up in huge earthen dishes, and 
before it was allowed to be touched payment was 
demanded and obtained ; the other articles were 
also paid for as soon as they were brought in ; 
and a deposit was exacted as a security for the 
plates, knives, and forks. Tiie wine, or what did 
■duty as such, was contained in an earthen pot 
called the Petit Pere Noir, and was filled from a 
gigantic vessel named Le Moricaud. The dinner 
was concluded by each guest taking a small glass 
of brand}'. Business was then proceeded to. 
It consisted in the reading and adoption of the 
statutes of the association, followed by the drink- 
ing of numerous toasts to the president, to the 
prosperity of rag-gathering, to the imion of rag- 
gatherers, &c. A collection amounting to 6/. 75c. 
was raised for sick members of the fraternity. 
The guests then dispersed ; but several of them 
remained at the counter until they had consumed 
in brandy the amount deposited as security for 
the crockery, knives, and forks." 

Of IDE " Pure "-Fi>'DErvS, 
DoGs'-dung is called "Pure," from its cleansing 
and purifying properties. 

The name of " Pure-finders," however, has been 
applied to the men engaged in collecting dogs'- 
dung from the public streets only, within the last 
20 or 30 years. Previous to this period there ap- 
pears to have been no men engaged in the busi- 
ness, old women alone g.ithered the substance, 
and they were known by the name of " hunters," 
which signifies properly gatherers of rags; and thus 
plainly intimates that the rag-gatherers originally 
added the collecting of " Pure" to their original 
and proper vocation. Hence it appears that the 
bone-grubbers, rag-gatherers, and pure-finders, 
constituted formerly but one class of people, and 
even now they have, aa I have stated, kindred 

The pure-finders meet with a ready market forall 
the dogs'-dung they are able to collect, at the nume- 

rous tanyards in Bermondsey, where they sell it by 
the stal)le-bucket full, and get from St/, to lOrf. 
per bucket, and sometimes \s. and Is. 2d. for it, 
according to its quality. The " dry limy-looking 
sort" fetches the highest price at some yards, as it 
is found to possess more of the alkaline, or purify- 
ing properties ; but others are found to prefer the 
dark moist quality. Strange as it may appear, 
the preference for a particular kind has suggested 
to the finders of Pure the idea of adulterating it 
to a very considerable extent; this is effected by 
means of mortar broken away from old walls, and 
mixid up with the whole mass, which it closely 
resembles ; in some cases, however, the mortar is 
rolled into small balls similar to those found. 
Hence it would appear, that there is no business 
or trade, however insignificant or contemptible, 
without its own peculiar and appropriate tricks. 

The pure-finders are in their habits and mode 
of proceeding nearly similar to the bone-grubbers. 
Many of the pure-finders are, however, better in 
circumstances, the men especially, as they earn 
more money. They are also, to a certain extent, 
a better educated class. Some of the regular col- 
lectors of this substance have been mechanics, and 
others small tradesmen, Avho have been reduced. 
Those pure-finders who have "a good connection," 
and have been granted permission to cleanse some 
kennels, obtain a very fair living at the business, 
earning from IO5. to 15s. a week. These, how- 
ever, are very few; the majority have to seek the 
article in the streets, .nnd by such means they 
can obtiiin only from 6s. to 10s. a week. The 
average weekly earnings of this class are thought 
to be about 7s. 6c^. 

From all the inquiries I have made on this sub- 
ject, I have found that there cannot be less than 
from 200 to 300 persons constantly engaged solely 
in this business. There are about 30 tanyards 
large and small in Bermondsey, and these all have 
their regular Pure collectors from whom they 
obtain tlie article. Leomont and Roberts's, Baving- 
tons', Beech's, Murrell's, Cheeseman's, Powell's, 
Jones's, Jourdans', Kent's, Moorcroft's, and Davis's, 
are among the largest establishments, and some 
idea of the amount of business done in some of 
these yards may be formed from the fact, that the 
proprietors severally employ from 300 to 500 tan- 
ners. At Leomont and Eoberts's there are 23 re- 
gular street-finders, who supply them with pure, 
but this is a large establishment, and the number 
supplying them is considered far be3'ond the 
average quantity; moreover, Messrs. Leomont and 
Roberts do more business in the particular branch 
of tanning in which the article is principally used, 
viz., in dressing the leather for book-covers, kid- 
gloves, and a variety of other articles. Some of 
the other tanyards, especially the smaller ones, 
take the substance only as they happen to want it, 
and others again employ but a limited number of 
hands. If, therefore, we strike an average, and 
reduce the number supplying each of the several 
yards to eight, we shall have 240 persons re- 
gularly engaged in the business: besides these, it 
may be said that numbers of the starving and 
destitute Irish have tiken to picking up the ma- 



terial, but not knowing where to sell it, or how to 
dispose of it, they part with it for 2d. or Zd. the 
pail-full to the reguhir purveyors of it to the tan- 
yards, who of course make a considerable profit 
by the transaction. The children of the poor 
Irish are usually employed in this manner, but 
they also pick up rags and bones, and anything 
ebe which may fall in their way. 

I have stated that some of the pure-finders, 
especially the men, earn a considerable sum of 
money per week ; their gains are sometimes as 
much as 15*. ; indeed I am assured that seven years 
ago, when they got from Zs. to 4*. per pail for the 
pure, that many of them would not exchange their j 
position with that of the best paid mechanic in 
London. Now, however, the cjise is altered, for 
there are twenty now at the business for every 
one who followed it then ; hence each collects 
80 much the less in quantity, and, moreover, 
from the competition gets so much less for the 
article. Some of the collectors at present do 
not earn 3^. per week, but these are mostly old 
women who are feeble and unable to get over the 
ground quickly ; others make 5s. and 65. in the 
course of the week, while the most active and j 
those who clean out the kennels of the dog fanciers ! 
may occasionally make 9*. and I1I*. and even \5s. 
a week still, but this is of very nire occurrence. 
Allowing the finders, one with the other, to earn 
on an average 5*. per week, it would give the 
annual earnings of each to be 13/., while the 
income of the whole 200 would amount to 50/. a 
week, or 2600/. per annum. The kennel " pure " 
is not much valued, indeed many of the tinners 
will not even buy it, the reason is that the 
dogs of the " £finciers " are fed on almost any- 
thing, to save expense ; the kennel cleaners con- 
sequently take the precaution of mixing it with 
what is found in the street, previous to offering it 
for sale. 

The pure-finder may at once be distinguished 
from the bonegrubber and rag-gatherer ; the 
latter, as I have before mentioned, carries a bag, 
and usually a stick armed with a spike, while he 
is most frequently to be met with in back streets, 
narrow lanes, yards and other places, where dust 
and rubbish are likely to be thrown out from the 
adjacent houses. The pure-finder, on the contrary, 
is often found in the open streets, as dogs wander 
where they like. The pure-finders always carry 
a handle basket, generally with a cover, to hide 
the contents, and have their right hand covered 
with a black leather glove ; many of them, how- 
ever, dispense with the glove, as they say it is 
much easier to wash their hands than to keep the 
glove fit for use. The women gt-ncnilly have a 
large pocket fur the reception of such rags as they 
may chance to fall in with, but they pick up those 
only of the very best quality, and will not go out 
of their way to search even for them. Thus 
equipped they may be seen pursuing their avoca- 
tion in almost every street in and about London, 
excepting such streets as are now cleansed by 
the "street orderlies," of whom the pure-finders 
grievously complain, as being an unwarrantable 
interference with the privileges of their class. 

The pure collected is used by leather-dressers 
and tanners, and more especially by those engaged { 
in the manufacture of morocco and kid leather 
from the skins of old and young goats, of which 
skins great numbers are imported, and of the 
roans and lixrabskins which are the sham morocco 
and kids of the " slop " leather trade, and are 
used by the better class of shoemakers, book- 
binders, and glovers, for the inferior requirements 
of their business. Pure is also used by tanners, 
as is pigeon's dung, for the tanning of the thinner 
kinds of leather, such .is calf-skins, for which 
purpose it is placed in pits with an admixture of 
lime and bark. 

In the m inufacture of moroccos and roans the 
pure is rubbed by the hands of the workman into 
the skin he is dressing. This is done to "purify" 
the leather, I was told by an intelligent leather- 
dresser, and from that term the word " pure" has 
originated. The dung has astringent as well as 
highly alkaline, or, to use the expression of my 
informant, " scouring," qualities. "When the pure 
has been rubbed into the flesh and grain of the 
skin (the " flesh" being originally the interior, and 
the "grain" the exterior part of the cuticle), and 
the skin, thus purified, has been hung up to be 
dried, the dung removes, as it were, all such 
moisture as, if allowed to remain, would tend to 
make the leather unsound or imperfectly dressed. 
This imperfect dressing, moreover, gives a dis- 
greeable smell to the leather — and leather-buyers 
often use both nose and tongue in making their 
purchases — and would consequently prevent that 
agreeable odour being imparted to the skin which 
is found in some kinds of morocco and kid. The 
peculiar odour of the Russia leather, so agreeable 
in the libraries of the rich, is derived from the 
bark of young birch trees. It is now manufac- 
tured in 13ormondsey. 

Among the morocco manufacturers, especially 
among the old operatives, there is often a scarcity 
of employment, and they then dress a few roans, 
which they hawk to the cheap warehouses, or 
sell to the wholesale shoemakers on their own 
account. These men usually reside in small gar- 
rets in the poorer parts of liermondsey, and carry 
on their trade in their own rooms, using and 
keeping the pure there; hence the "homes" of 
these poor men are peculiarly uncomfortable, if 
not unhealthy. Some of these poor fellows or 
their wives collect the pure themselves, often 
starting at daylight for the purpose ; they more 
frequently, however, buy it of a regular finder. 

The number of pure-finders I heard estimated, 
by a man well acquainted with the tanning and 
other departments of the leather trade, at from 
200 to 250. The finders, I was informed by the 
same person, collected about a pail-full a day, clear- 
ing 6<. a week in the summer — \s. and 1j?. 2d. 
being the charge for a pail-full ; in the short days 
of winter, however, and in bad weather, they 
could not collect five pail-fulls in a week. 

In the wretched locality already referred to as 
lying between the Docks and Rosemary-lane, redo- 
lent of filth and pregnant with pestilential diseases, 
and whither all the outcasts of the metropolitan 



population seem to be drawn, either in the hope of 
finding fitting associates and companions in their 
wretchedness (for there is doubtlessly something 
attractive and agreeable to them in such companion- 
ship), or else for the purpose of hiding themselves 
and their shifts and struggles for existence from the 
world,— in this dismal quarter, and branching from 
one of the many narrow lanes which interlace it, 
there is a little court with about half-a-dozen 
houses of the very smallest dimensions, consisting 
of merely two rooms, one over the other. Here 
in one of the upper rooms (the lower one of the 
same house being occupied by another family and 
apparently filled with little r.agged children), I 
discerned, after considerable difficulty, an old 
woman, a Pure-finder. When I opened the door 
the little light that struggled through the small 
window, the many broken panes of which were 
stuffed with old rags, was not sufficient to enable 
me to perceive who or what was in the room. 
After a short time, however, I began to make out 
an old chair standing near the fire-place, and then 
to discover a poor old woman resembling a bundle 
of rags and filth stretched on some dirty straw in 
the corner of the apartment. The place was bare 
and almost naked. There was nothing in it ex- 
cept a couple of old tin kettles and a basket, and 
some broken crockeryware in the recess of the 
window. To my astonishment I found this 
wretched creature to be, to a certain extent, a 
"superior" woman ; she could read and write well, 
spoke correctly, and appeared to have been a 
person of natural good sense, though broken up 
with age, want, and infirmity, so that she was 
characterized by all that dull and hardened 
stupidity of manner which I have noticed in the 
class. She made the following statement : — 

" I am about 60 years of age. My father was a 
milkman, and very well off; he had a barn and a 
great many cows. I was kept at school till I was 
thirteen or fourteen years of age ; about that 
time my father died, and then I was taken home 
to help my mother in the business. After a 
while things went wrong ; the cows began to die, 
and mother, alleging she could not manage the 
business herself, married again, I soon found out 
the difference. Glad to get away, anywhere out 
of the house, I married a sailor, and was verj"- 
comfortable with him for some years ; as he made 
short voyages, and was often at home, and always 
left me half his pay. At last he was pressed, 
when at home with me, and sent away ; I forget 
now where he was sent to, but I never saw him 
from that day to this. The only thing I know is 
that some sailors came to me four or five years 
after, and told me that he deserted from the ship 
in which he had gone out, and got on board the 
Neptune, East Indiaman, bound for Bombay, 
where he acted as boatswain's mate; some 
little time afterwards, he had got intoxicated 
while the ship was lying in harbour, and, going 
down the side to get into a bumboat, and buy more 
drink, he had fallen overboard and was drowned. 
I got some money that was due to him from the 
India House, and, after that was all gone, I went 
into service, in the Mile-eud Road. There I 

I stayed for several years, till I met my second 
husband, who was bred to the water, too, but as 
a waterman on the river. We did very well 
together for a long time, till he lost his 'health. 
He became paralyzed like, and was deprived of 
the use of all one side, and nearly lost the sight 
of one of his eyes ; this was not very con- 
spicuous at first, but when we came to get pinched, 
and to be badly off, then any one might have seen 
that there was something the matter with his 
eye. Then we parted with everything we had in the 
world ; and, at last, when we had no other means 
of living left, we were advised to take to gathering 
* Pure.' At first I couldn't endure the business ; I 
couldn't bear to eat a morsel, and I was obliged to 
discontinue it for a long time. My husband kept j 
at it though, for he could do that well enough, 
only he couldn't walk as fast as he ought. He 
couldn't lift his hands as high as his head, but he 
managed to work under him, and so put the Pure 
in the basket. When I saw that he, poor fellow, 
couldn't make enough to keep us both, I took 
heart and went out again, and used to gather 
more than he did ; that 's fifteen years ago now ; 
the times were good then, and we used to do very 
well. If we only gathered a pail-fuU in the daj-, 
we could live very well ; but we could do much 
more than that, for there wasn't near so many at 
the business then, and the Pure was easier to be 
had. For my part I can't tell where all the poor 
creatures have come from of late years ; the world 
seems growing worse and worse every day. They 
have pulled down the price of Pure, that 's certain ; 
but the poor things must do something, they can't 
starve while there's anything to be got. Why, 
no later than six or seven years ago, it was as 
high as 3^. Qd. and 45. a pail-full, and a ready sale 
for as much of it as you could get ; but now you 
can only get Is. and in some places Is. 2d. a 
pail-full ; and, as I said before, tliere are so many 
at it, that there is not much left for a poor old 
creature like me to find. The men that are strong 
and smart get the most, of course, and some of 
them do very well, at least they manage to live. 
Six years ago, my husband complained that he 
was ill, in the evening, and laj- down in the bed — 
we lived in Whitechapel then — he took a fit of 
coughing, and was smothered in his own blood. 

dear " (tlie poor old soul here ejaculated), " what 
troubles I have gone through! I had eight chil- 
dren at one time, and there is not one of them 
alive now. My daughter lived to 30 years of 
age, and then she died in childbirth, and, since 
then, I have had nobody in the wide world to 
care for me — none but myself, all alone as I am. 
After my husband's death I couldn't do much, 
and all my things went away, one by one, until 
I've nothing but bare walls, and that's the 
reason why I was vexed at first at your coming in, 
sir. I was yesterday out all day, and went round 
Aldgate, Whitechapel, St. George's East, Stepney, 
Bow, and Bromley, and then came home ; after 
that, I went over to Berraondsey, and there I got 
only 6d. for my pains. To-day I wasn't out at 
all ; I wasn't well ; I had a bad headache, and 

1 'm so much afraid of the fevers that are all aboit 



Ijere — though I don't know why I should be 
afraid of them — I was lying down, when you 
came, to get rid of my pains. There 's such a diz- 
siness in my head now, I feel as if it didn't belong 
to me. Ko, I have earned no money today. I 
have had a piece of dried bread that I steeped in 
water to eat. I haven't eat anything else to-day ; 
)[)at, pray, sir, don't tell anybody of ir. I could 
never bear the thought of going into the ' great 
house' [workhouse] ; I'm so used to the air, that 
I 'd sooner die in the street, as many I know have 
done. I've known several of our people, who 
have sat down in the street with their basket 
alongside them, and died. I knew one not long 
ago, who took ill just as she was stooping down 
to gather up the Pure, and fell on her face ; she 
was taken to the London Hospital, and died at 
three o'clock in the morning. I 'd sooner die like 
them than be deprived of my liberty, and be pre- 
vented from going about where I liked. No, I '11 
never go into the workhouse ; my master is kind 
to me" [the tanner whom she supplies]. " When 
I 'ra ill, he sometimes gives me a sixpence ; but 
there 's one gentleman has done us great harm, by 
forcing so many into the business. He 's a poor- 
law guardian, and when any poor person applies 
for relief, he tells them to go and gather Pure, 
and that he'll buy it of them (for he's in the 
line), and so the parish, you see, don't have to 
give anything, and that 's one way that so many 
nave come into the trade of late, that the likes of 
me can do little or no good at it. Almost every 
one I 've ever known engaged at Pure-finding were 
people who were better off once. I knew a man 
who went by the name of Brown, who picked up 
Pure for years before I went to it ; he was a very 
quiet man ; he used to lodge in Blue Anchor-yard, 
and seldom used to speak to anybody. We two 
used to talk together sometimes, but never much. 
One morning he was found dead in his bed ; it 
was of a Tuesday morning, and he was buried 
about 12 o'clock on the Friday following. About 
6 o'clock on that afternoon, three or four gentle- 
men came searching all through this place, looking 
for a man named Brown, and ofiering a reward to 
any who would find him out; there was a whole 
crowd about them when I came up. One of the 
gentlemen said that the man they wanted liad lost 
the first finger of his right hand, and then I knew 
that it was the man that had been buried only 
that morning. Would you believe it, Mr. Brown 
was a real gentleman all the time, and had 
a luge estate, of I don't know how man v thousand 
|K>unds, just left him, and the lawyers had adver- 
tised and searched everywhere for him, but never 
found him, you may say, till ho was dead. We 
discovered that bis name was not Brown ; he had 
only taken that name to bide bis real one, which, 
of Goane, he did not want any one to know. I 've 
often thought of him, poor man, and all the misery 
he micht have been spared, if tlie good news had 
01' \ ••ar or two sooner." 

tormant, a Purexollector, was ori- 
gi Mancbeater cotton '—■*■■ --H ' '' 

K nation in a large ( 

1 . nrv on.- vear ex« 

his regular income was 150^ " This," he says, 
" I lost through drink and neglect. My master 
was exceedingly kind to me, and has even assisted 
me since I left his employ. He bore with me 
patiently for many years, but the love of drink 
was 80 strong upon me that it was impossible for 
him to keep me any longer." He has often been 
drunk, he tells me, for three months together ; 
and he is now so reduced that he is ashamed to 
be seen. When at his master's it was his duty 
to carve and help the other assistants belonging 
to the establishment, and his hand used to shake 
80 violently that he has been ashamed to lift the 
gravy spoon. 

At breakfast he has frequently waited till all 
the young men had left the table before he ven- 
tured to taste his tea ; and immediately, when he 
was alone, he has bent his head down to his cup 
to drink, being utterly incapable of raising it to 
his lips. He says he is a living example of the 
degrading influence of drink. All his friends 
have deserted him. He has suffered enough, he 
tells me, to make him give it up. He earned the 
week before I saw him 6s. 'M. ; and the week 
before that, 6s. 

13efore leaving me I prevailed upon the man to 
" take the pledge." Tiiis is now eighteen months 
ago, and I have not seen him since. 

Of the Cigar-end Finders. 
There are, strictly speaking, none who make a 
living by picking up the ends of cigars thrown 
away as useless by the smokers in the streets, 
but there are very many who employ themselves 
from time to timein collecting them. Almost all the 
street-finders, when they meet with such things, 
pick them up, and keep them in a pocket set 
apart for that purpose. The men allow the ends 
to accumulate till they amount to two or three 
pounds weight, and then some dispose of them to a 
person residing in the neighbourhood of Rose- 
mary-lane, who buys them all up at from M. to 
\0(L per pound, according to their length and 
quality. The long ends ai-e considered the best, 
as I am told there is more sound tobacco in them, 
uninjured by the moisture of the mouth. The 
children of the poor Irish, in particular, scour 
Ratcliff-highway, the Commercial-road, Wile-end- 
road, and all the leading thoroughfares of the 
East, and every place where cigar smokers are 
likely to take an evening's promenade. The 
quantity that each of them collects is very trifling 
indeed — perhaps not more than a handful during 
a morning's search. I am informed, by an intelli- 
gent man living in the midst of them, that these 
children go out in tiie morning not only to gather 
cigar-ends, but to pick up out of dust bins, and 
from amongst rubbish in the streets, the smallest 
scraps and crusts of bread, no matter how hard 
or filthy they may be. These they put into a 
little bag which they carry for the purpose, and, 
after they have gone theirroundsand collected what- 
ever they can, they take the cigar-ends to the man 
• ' ' tliem — sometimes getting not more than 
or a penny for their morning's coUec- 
!|ii« thry buy h hairpenny or a penny 



worth of oatmeal, which they mix up with a large 
quantity of water, and after washing and steeping 
the hard and dirty crusts, they put them into the 
pot or kettle and boil all together. Of this mass 
the whole family partake, and it often constitutes 
all the food they taste in the course of the day. 

1 have often seen the bone-grubbers eat the black 
and soddened crusts they have picked up out of 
the gutter. 

It would, indeed, be a hopeless task to make 
any attempt to get at the number of persons who 
occasionally or otherwise pick up cigar-ends with 
the view of selling them again. For this purpose 
almost all who ransack the streets of London for a 
living may be computed as belonging to the class; 
and to these should be added the children of the 
thousands of destitute Irish who have inundated 
the metropolis within the last few years, and who 
are to be found huddled together in all the low 
neighbourhoods in every suburb of the City. 
What quantity is collected, or the amount of 
money obtained for the ends, there are no means 
of ascertaining. 

Let us, however, make a conjecture. There are 
in round numbers 300,000 inhabited houses in the 
metropolis ; and allowing the married people living 
in apartments to be equal in number to the un- 
married "' housekeepers," we may compute that the 
number of families in London is about the same 
as the inhabited houses. Assuming one young or 
old gentleman in every ten of these families to 
smoke one cigar per diem in the public thorough- 
fares, we have 30,000 cigar-ends daily, or 210,000 
weekly cast away in the London streets. Now, 
reckoning 150 cigars to go to a pound, we may 
assume that each end so cast away weighs about 
the thousandth part of a pound ; consequently 
the gross weight of the ends flung into the gutter 
will, in the course of the week, amount to about 

2 cwt. ; and calculating that only a sixth part of 
these are picked up by the finders, it follows 
that there is very nearly a ton of refuse tobacco 
collected annually in the metropolitan thorough- 

The aristocratic quarters of the City and the 
vicinity of theatres and casinos are the best for 
the cigar-end finders. In the Strand, Regent- 
street, and the more fashionable thoroughfares, 
I am told, there are many ends picked up ; but 
even in these places they do not exclusively 
furnish a means of living to any of the finders. 
All the collectors sell them to some other person, 
who acts as middle-man in the business. How 
he disposes of the ends is unknown, but it is 
supposed that they are resold to some of the 
large manufacturers of cigars, and go to form the 
component part of a new stock of the " best 
Havannahs ; " or, in other words, they are worked 
up again to be again castaway, and again collected 
by the finders, and so on perhaps, till the millen- 
nium comes. Some suppose them to be cut up and 
mixed with the common smoking tobacco, and 
others that they are used in making snufF. There 
are, I am assured, five persons residing in different 
parts of London, who are known to purchase the 

In Naples the sale of cigar-ends is a regular 
street-traffic, the street-seller carrying them in a 
small box suspended round the neck. In Paris, 
also, le Remasseur de Cigares is a well-known 
occupation : the " ends" thus collected are sold as 
cheap tobacco to the poor. In the low lodging- 
houses of London the ends, when dried, are cut 
up, and frequently vended by the finders to such 
of their fellow-lodgers as are anxious to enjoy 
their pipe at the cheapest possible rate. 

Of the Old Wood Gathereks. 
All that has been said of the cigar-end finders 
may, in a great measure, apply to the wood- 
gatherers. No one can make a living exclusively 
by the gathering of wood, and those who do gather 
it, gather as well rags, bones, and bits of metal. 
They gather it, indeed, as an adjunct to their 
other findings, en the principle that " every little 
helps." Those, however, who most frequently look 
for wood are the very old and feeble, and the very 
young, who are both unable to travel far, or to 
carry a heavy burden, and they may occasionally 
be seen crawling about in the neighbourhood of 
any new buildings in the course of construction, or 
old ones in the course of demolition, and picking up 
small odds and ends of wood and chips swept out 
amongst dirt and shavings ; these they deposit in a 
bag or basket which they carry for that purpose. 
Should there happen to be what they call " puU- 
ing-down work," that is, taking down old houses, 
or palings, the place is immediately beset by a 
number of wood-gatherers, young and old, and 
in general all the poor people of the locality join 
with them, to obtain their share of the spoil. 
What the poor get they take home and burn, but 
the wood-gatherers sell all they procure for some 
small trifle. 

Some short time ago a portion of the wood-pave- 
ment in the city was being removed ; a large num- 
ber of the old blocks, which were much worn and 
of no further use, were thrown aside, and became 
the perquisite of the wood-gatherers. During the 
repair of the street, the spot was constantly be- 
sieged by a motley mob of men, women, and chil- 
dren, who, in many instances, struggled and fought 
for the wood rejected as worthless. This wood 
they either sold for a trifle as they got it, or took 
home and split, and made into bundles for sale 
as firewood. 

All the mudlarks (of whom I shall treat 
specially) pick up wood and chips on the bank of 
the river ; these they sell to poor people in their 
own neighbourhood. They sometimes "find" 
large pieces of a greater weight than they can 
carry ; in such cases they get some other mud- 
lark to help them with the load, and the two 
"go halves" in the produce. The only parties 
among the street-finders who do not pick up wood 
are the Pure-collectors and the sewer-hunters, or, 
as they call themselves, shore-workers, both of 
whom pass it by as of no value. 

It is impossible to estimate the quantity of 
wood which is thus gathered, or what the amount 
may be which the collector realizes in the course 
of the year. 



Or THX Drkdoebs, or River Finders. 

The dredgermen of the Thames, or river finders, 
naturally occupy the same place with reference 
to the street-finders, as the purlmen or river beer- 
sellers do to those who get their living by selling 
in the streets. It would be in itself a curious 
inquiry to trace the origin of the manifold occu- 
pations in which men are found to be engaged in 
the present day, and to note how promptly every 
circumstance and occurrence was laid hold of, as it 
happened to arise, which appeared to have any 
tendency to open up a new occupation, and to 
mark the gradual progress, till it became a regu- 
larly-established employment, followed by a 
separate class of people, fenced round by rules 
and customs of their own, and who at length grew 
to be both in their habits and peculiarities plainly 
distinct from the other classes among whom they 
chanced to be located. 

There has been no historian among the dredgers 
of the Thames to record the commencement of the 
business, and the utmost that any of the river- 
fiiiderg ciin tell is that his father had been a 
dredger, and so had his father before him, and that 
that '$ the reason why they are dredgers also. But 
no such people as dredgers were known on the 
Thames in remote days ; and before London had be- 
come an important trading port, where nothing was 
likely to be got for the searching, it is not probable 
that people would have been induced to search. In 
those days, the only things searched for in the river 
were the bodies of pyersons drowned, accidentally 
or otherwise. For this purpose, the Thames 
fishermen of all others, appeared to be the best 
adapted. They were on the spot at all times, and 
had various sorts of tackle, such as nets, lines, 
books, &c. The fishermen well understood every- 
thing connected with the river, such as the various 
%eU of the tide, and the nature of the bottom, and 
they were therefore on such occasions invariably 
applied to for these purposes. 

It is known to all who remember anything of 
Old London Bridge, that at certiin times of the 
tide, in consequence of the velocity with which 
the water nuhed through the narrow apertures 
which the arches then afforded for its passage, 
to bring a boat in safety through the bridge 
was a feat to be attempted only by the skilful and 
experienced. This feat was known as " shoot- 
ing" London Bridge; and it was no unusual 
thing for accidents to bappt'n even to the most 
expert In fact, numeroiu accidents occurred at 
this bridge, and at such times valuable articles 
were sometimes lost, for which high rewards were 
offered to the finder. Here again the fishermen 
came into requisition, the small drag-net, which 
thej u«ed while rowing, offering itself for the 
purpose ; for, by fixing an iron frame round the 
mouth of the dragnet, this part of it, from its 
specific gravity, sunk first to the bottom, and con- 
sequently scraped along aa they pulled forward, 
collecting into the net everything that came in its 
w»y ; when it was nearly filled, which the rower 
always knew by the weight, it was hauled up to 

the surface, its contents examined, and the object 
lost generally recovered. 

It is thus apparent that the fishermen of the 
Thames were the men originally employed as 
dredgermen ; though casually, indeed, at first, 
and according as circumstances occurred requiring 
their services. By degrees, however, as the com- 
merce of the river increased, and a greater number 
of articles fell overboard from the shipping, they 
came to be more frequently called into requisition, 
and 80 they were naturally led to adopt the 
dredging as part and parcel of their business. 
Thus it remains to the present day. 

The fishermen all serve a regular apprentice- 
ship, as they say themselves, " duly and truly " 
for seven years. During the time of their ap- 
prenticeship they are (or rather, in former times 
they were) obliged to sleep in their master's boat 
at night to take care of his property, and were 
subject to many other curious regulations, which 
are foreign to this subject. 

I have said that the fishermen of the Thames 
to the present day unite the dredging to their 
proper calling. By this I mean that they employ 
themselves in fishing during the summer and 
autumn, either from Barking Creek downwards, 
or from Chelsea Reach upwards, catching dabs, 
flounders, eels, and other sorts of fish for the 
London markets. But in winter when the days 
are short and cold, and the weather stormy, they 
prefer stopping at home, and dredging the bed of 
the river for anything they may chance to find. 
There are others, however, wh» have started 
wholly in the dredging line, there being no hin- 
drance or impediment to any one doing so, nor any 
licence required for the purpose : these dredge the 
river winter and summer alike, and are, in fact, 
the only real dredgermen of the present day 
living solely by that occupation. 

There are in all about 100 dredgermen at work 
on the river, and these are located as follows : — 

From Putney to Vauxhall there are . 20 
From Vauxhall to London-bridge . . 40 
From London-bridge to Deptford . . 20 
And from Deptford to Gravesend . . 20 

All these reside, in general, on the south 
side of the Thames, the two places most fre- 
quented by them being Lambeth and Rother- 
hiihe. They do not, however, confine themselves 
to the neighbourhoods wherein they reside, but 
extend their operations to all parts of the river, 
where it is likely that they may pick up any- 
thing ; and it is perfectly marvellous with what 
rapidity the intelligence of any accident calculated 
to afford them employment is spread among them ; 
for should a loaded coal barge be sunk over night, 
by daylight the next morning every drcdgerman 
would bo sure to be upon the spot, prepared to 
collect what he could from the wreck at the 
bottom of the river. 

The boats of the dredgermen are of a peculiar 
shape. They have no stern, but are the same 



fore and aft. They are called Peter boats, but 
not one of the men with whom I spoke had the 
least idea as to the origin of the name. These boats 
are to be had at almost all prices, according to their 
condition and age — from 30^. to 20^. The boats 
used by the fishermen dredgermen are decidedly 
the most valuable. One with the other, perhaps 
the whole may average 10^. each ; and this sum 
will give lOuO/. as the value of the entire number. 
A complete set of tackle, including drags, will 
cost 2L, which comes to 200/. for all hands ; and 
thus we have the sum of 1200/. as the amount 
of capital invested in the dredging of the Thames. 

It is by no means an easy matter to form any 
estimate of the earnings of the dredgermen, as they 
are a matter of mere chance. In former years, 
when Indiamen and all the foreign shipping lay 
in the river, the river finders were in the habit of 
doing a good business, not only in their own line, 
through the greater quantities of rope, bones, and 
other things which then were thrown or fell over- 
board, but they also contrived to smuggle ashore 
great quantities of tobacco, tea, spirits, and other 
contraband articles, and thought it a bad day's 
work when they did not earn a pound inde- 
pendent of their dredging. An old dredger told 
me he had often in those days made 51. before 
breakfast time. After the excavation of the va- 
rious docks, and after the larger shipping had 
departed from the river, the finders were obliged 
to content themselves with the chances of mere 
dredging; and even then, I am informed, they 
were in the habit of earning one week with 
another throughout the year, about 25s. per week, 
each, or 65007. per annum among all. Latterly, 
however, the earnings of these men have greatly 
fallen oiF, especially in the summer, for then thej"^ 
cannot get so good a price for the coal they find 
as in the winter — Qd. per bushel being the sum- 
mer price ; and, as they consider three bushels a 
good day's work, their earnings at this period of 
the year amount only to \s. 6d per day, except- 
ing when they happen to pick up some bones or 
pieces of metal, or to find a dead body for which 
there is a reward. In the winter, however, the 
dredgermen can readily get 1«. per bushel for all 
the coals they find ; and far more coals are to be 
found then than in summer, for there are more 
colliers in the river, and far more accidents at 
that season. Coal barges are often sunk in the 
winter, and on such occasions they make a good 
harvest. Moreover there is the finding of bodies, 
for which they not only get the reward, but 65., 
which they call inquest money ; together with 
many other chances, such as the finding of money 
and valuables among the rubbish they bring up 
from the bottom ; but as the last-mentioned are 
accidents happening throughout the year, I am 
inclined to think that they have understated the 
amount which they are in the habit of realizing 
even in the summer. 

The dredgers, as a class, may be said to be 
altogether uneducated, not half a dozen out of 
the whole number being able to read their own 
name, and only one or two to write it ; this se- 
l^'ct fpw are considered by \\\it re«t as perfect 

prodigies. "Lor' bless you!" said one, "I on'y 

wish you 'd 'ear Bill S read ; I on'y jist wish 

you'd 'car him. Why that ere 13111 can read 
faster nor a dog can trot. And, what 's more, I 
seed hira write an ole letter hisself, ev'ry word on 
it ! What do you think 0' that now 1" The igno- 
rance of the dredgermen may be accounted for 
by the men taking so early to the water ; the 
bustle and excitement of the river being far more 
attractive to them than the routine of a school. 
Almost as soon as they are able to do anything, 
the dredgermen's boys are taken by their fathers 
afloat to assist in picking out the coals, bones, 
and other things of any use, from the midst of 
the rubbish brought up in their drag-nets ; or else 
the lads are sent on board as assistants to one or 
other of the fishermen during their fishing voy- 
ages. When once engaged in this way it has been 
found impossible afterwards to keep the youths from 
the water; and if they have learned anything 
previously they very soon forget it. 

It might be expected that the dredgers, in a 
manner depending on chance for their livelihood, 
and leading a restless sort of life on the Avater, 
would closely resemble the costerraongers in their 
habits ; but it is far otherwise. There can be no two 
classes more dissimilar, except in their hatred of 
restraint. The dredgers are sober and steady ; 
gambling is unknown .amongst them; and they 
are, to an extraordinary degree, laborious, perse- 
vering, and patient. They are in general men of 
short stature, but square built, strong, and capable 
of enduring great fatigue, and have a silent and 
thoughtful look. Being almost always alone, and 
studying how they may best succeed in finding 
what they seek, marking the various sets of the 
tide, and the direction in which things falling 
into the water at a particular place must neces- 
sarily be carried, the}' become the very opposite 
to the other river people, especially to the water- 
men, who are brawling and clamorous, and de- 
light in continually "chaffing" each other. In 
consequence of the sober and industrious habits 
of the dredgermen their homes are, as they say, 
" pretty fair " foi;^ working men, though there is 
nothing very luxurious to be found in them, nor 
indeed anything beyond what is absolutely ne- 
cessary. After their day's work, especially if 
they have " done well," these men smoke a pipe 
over a pint or two of beer at the nearest public- 
house, get home early to bed, and if the tide 
answers may be found on the river patiently 
dredging away at two or three o'clock in the 

Whenever a loaded coal barge happens to sink, 
as I have already intimated, it is surprising how 
short a time elapses before that part of the river 
is alive with the dredgers. They flock thither 
from all parts. The river on such occasions pre- 
sents a very animated appearance. At first they 
are all in a group, and apparently in confusion, 
crossing and re-crossing each other's course ; some 
with their oars pulled in while they examine the 
contents of their nets, and empty the coals into 
the bottom of their boats ; others rowing and 
tugging against the stream, to obtain an advan- 



tageons position for the next cast ; and when 
they consider they have found this, down go the 
dredging-nets to the bottom, and away they row 
again with the stream, as if pulling for a wager, 
till they find by the weight of their net that it is 
fall ; then they at once stop, haul it to the sur- 
face, and commence another course. Others who 
hare been successful in getting their boats loaded 
may be seen pushing away from the main body, 
and making towards the shore. Here they busily 
employ themselves, with what help they can get, 
in emptying the boat of her cargo — carrying it 
ashore in old coal baskets, bushel measures, or any- 
thing else which will suit their purpose; and when 
this is completed they pull out again to join their 
comrades, and comnience afresh. They continue 
working thus till the returning tide puts an end 
to their labours, but these are resumed after the 
tide has fallen to a certain depth ; and so they go 
on, working night and day while there is anything 
to be got. 

The dredgerman and his boat may be imme- 
diately distingnished from all others; there is 
nothing similar to them on the river. The sharp 
cutwater fore and aft, and short rounded appear- 
ance of the vessel, marks it out at once from the 
skiff or wherry of the waterman. There is, too, 
always the appearance of labour about the boat, 
like a ship returning after a long voyage, daubed 
and filthy, and looking sadly in need of a tho- 
rough cleansing. The grappling irons are over 
the bow, resting on a coil of rope ; while the other 
end of the boat is filled with coals, bones, and 
old rope, mixed with the mud of the river. The 
ropes of the dredging-net hang over the side. A 
•hort stoat figure, with a face soiled and blackened 
with perspiration, and surmounted by a tarred 
•ou'-wester, the bodf habited in a soiled check 
•hirt, with the sleeves turned up above the elbows, 
and exhibiting a pair of sunburnt brawny arms, is 
palling at the sculls, not with the ease and light- 
ness of the waterman, but toiling and tugging 
away like a galley slave, as he scours the bed of 
the river with his dredging-net in search of some 
hoped-for prize. 

The dredgers, as was before'stated, are the men 
who find almost all the bodies of persons drowned. 
If there be a reward offered for the recovery of a 
body, numbers of the dredgers will at once en- 
deavour to obtain it, while if there be no reward, 
there is at least the inquest money to be had — 
betide other chances. What these chances are 
may be inferred from the well-known fiict, that 
no body recovered by a dredgerman ever happens 
to have any money about it, when brought to 
■hore. There may, indeed, be a watch in the fob 
or waistcoat pocke^, for that article would be likely 
to bo traced. There may, too, be a purse or 
pocket-book forthcoming, bat somehow it is in- 
▼ariably empty. The dredgers cannot by any 
rcMoning or argument be made to comprehend that 
there it anything like dishonesty in emptying the 
pockets of a dead man. They consider them as their 
just perquisites. They say that any one who 
finds a body does precisely the sam«», and that if 
they did not do to the police would. After having 

had all the trouble and labour, they allege that 
they have a much better right to whatever is to 
be got, than the police who have had nothing what- 
ever to do with it. There are also people who 
shrewdly suspect that some of the coals from the 
barges lying in the river, very often find their way 
into the dredgers' boats, especially when the 
dredgers are engaged in night- work ; and there 
are even some who do not hold them guiltless of, 
now and then, when opportunity oifers, smuggling 
things ashore from many of the steamers coming 
from foreign parts. But such things, I repeat, 
the dredgers consider in the fair way of their 

One of the most industrious, and I believe one 
of the most skilful and successful of this peculiar 
class, gave me the following epitome of his histor}'. 

" Father was a dredger, and grandfather afore 
him ; grandfather was a dredger and a fisherman 
too. A'most as soon as I was able to crawl, father 
took me with him in the boat to help him to pick 
the coals, and bones, and other things out of the 
net, and to use me to the water. When I got bigger 
and stronger, I was sent to the parish school, but 
I didn't like it half as well as the boat, and 
couldn't be got to stay two days together. At last 
I went above bridge, and went along with a fish- 
erman, and used to sleep in the boat every night. 
I liked to sleep in the boat ; I used to be as com- 
fortable as could be. Lor bless you ! there's a tilt 
to them boats, and no rain can't git at you. I used 
to lie awake of a night in them times, and listen 
to the water slapping ag'in the boat, and think it 
fine fun. I might a got bound 'prentice, but I got 
aboard a smack, where I stayed three or four 
year, and if I 'd a stayed there, I 'd a liked it 
much better. But I heerd as how father was ill, 
so I com'd home, and took to the dredging, and 
am at it off and on ever since. I got no larnin', 
how could 1 1 There 's on'y one or two of us 
dredgers as knows anything of larnin', and they 're 
no better off than the rest. Larnin 's no use to a 
dredger, he hasn't got no time to read ; and if he 
had, why it wouldn't tell him where the holes and 
furrows is at the bottom of the river, and where 
things is to be found. To be sure there 's holes 
and furrows at the bottom. I know a good many. 
I know a furrow off Lime'us Point, no wider 
nor the dredge, and I can go there, and when 
others can't git anything but stones and mud, I 
can git four or five bushel o' coal. You see they lay 
there ; they get in with the set of the tide, and 
can't git out so easy like. Dredgers don't do so 
well now as they used to do. You know Pelican 
Stairs 1 well, before the Docks was built, when 
the ships lay there, I could go under Pelican Pier 
and pick up four or five shilling of a morning. 
What was that tho' to father? I hear him say he 
often made 5/. afore breakfast, and nobody ever 
the wiser. Them were fine times ! there was a 
good livin' to be picked up on the water them 
days. About ten year ago, the fishermen at 
Lambeth, them as sarves their time ' duly and 
truly' thought to put us off the water, and went 
afore the Lord Mayor, but they couldn't do no- 
think after all. They do better nor us, at they go 



fishin' all the summer, when the dredgin' is bad, 
and come back in winter. Some on us down 
here" [Rotherhithe] "go a deal-portering in the 
summer, or unloading 'tatoes, or anything else 
we can get; when we have nothin' else to 
do, we go on the river. Father don't dredge 
now, he 's too old for that ; it takes a man to be 
strong to dredge, so father goes to ship scrapin'. 
He on'y sits on a plank outside the ship, and 
scrapes off the old tar with a scraper. We docs very 
well for all that — why he can make his half a bull 
a day \2s. Q(l!\ when he gits work, but that's not 
always; howsomever I helps the old man at 
times, when I 'm able. I 've found a good many 
bodies. I got a many rewards, and a tidy bit 
of inquest money. There 's 5s. Qd. inquest money 
at Rotherhithe, and on'y a shillin' at Deptford ; I 
can't make out how that is, but that 's all they 
give, I know. I never finds anythink on the bodies. 
Lor bless you ! people don't have anythink in their 
pockets when they gits drowned, they are not 
such fools as all that. Do you see them two marks 
there on the back of my hand ] Well, one day — I 
was on'y young then — I was grabblin' for old rope 
in Church Hole, when I brings up a body, and 
just as I was fixing the rope on his leg to tow him 
ashore, two swells comes down in a skiff, and lays 
hold of the painter of my boat, and tows me 
ashore. The hook of the drag went right thro' 
the trowsers of the drowned man and my hand, 
and I couldn't let go no how, and tho' I roared 
out like mad, the swells didn't care, but dragged 
me into the stairs. When I got there, my arm, 
and the corpse's shoe and trowsers, was all kivered 
with my blood. What do you think the gents 
said ? — why, they told me as how they had done 
me good, in towin' the body in, and ran away up 
the stairs. Tho' times ain't near so good as they 
was, I manages purty tidy, and hasn't got no 
occasion to hollor much ; but there 's some of the 
dredgers as would hollor, if they was ever so well 

Of the Sewer- Hunters. 
Some few years ago, the main sewers, having their 
outlets on the river side, were completely open, 
so that any person desirous of exploring their 
dark and uninviting recesses might enter at the 
river side, and wander away, provided he could 
withstand the combination of villanous stenches 
which met hira at every step, for many miles, 
in any direction. At that time it was a thing of 
very frequent occurrence, especially at the spring 
tides, for the water to rush into the sewers, 
pouring through them like a torrent, and then 
to burst up through the gratings into the 
streets, flooding all the low-lying districts in the 
vicinity of the river, till the streets of Shadwell 
and Wapping resembled a Dutch town, inter- 
sected by a series of muddy canals. Of late, 
however, to remedy this defect, the Commission- 
ers have had a strong brick wall built within 
the entrance to the several sewers. In each of 
these brick walls there is an opening covered by a 
strong iron door, which hangs from the top and 
is so arranged that when the tide is low the rush 

of the water and other filth on the inner side, 
forces it back and allows the contents of the sewer 
to pass into the river, whilst when the tide rises 
the door is forced so close against the wall by 
the pressure of the water outside that none can 
by any possibility enter, and thus the river 
neighbourhoods are secured from the deluges which 
were heretofore of such frequent occurrence. 

Were it not a notorious fact, it might perhaps 
be thought impossible, that men could be found 
who, for the chance of obtaining a living of some 
sort or other, would, day after day, and year after 
year, continue to travel through these underground 
channels for the ofFscouring of the city ; but such 
is the case even at the present moment. In 
former times, however, this custom prevailed much 
more than now, for in those days the sewers I 
were entirely open and presented no obstacle to 
an}^ one desirous of entering them. Many won- 
drous tales are still told among the people of men 
having lost their way in the sewers, and of hav- 
ing wandered among the filthy passages — their 
lights extinguished by the noisome vapours — till, 
faint and overpowered, they dropped down and 
died on the spot. Other stories are told of sewer- 
hunters beset by myriads of enormous rats, and 
slaying thousands of them in their struggle for 
life, till at length the swarms of the savage things 
overpowered them, and in a few days afterwards 
their skeletons were discovered picked to the very 
bones. Since the iron doors, however, have been 
placed on the main sewers a prohibition has been 
issued against entering them, and a reward of 5^. 
offered to any person giving information so as to 
lead to the conviction of any offender. Neverthe- 
less many still travel through these foul laby- 
rinths, in search of such valuables as may have 
found their way down the drains. 

The persons who are in the habit of searching 
the sewers, call themselves "shore-men" or "shore- 
workers." They belong, in a certain degree, to the 
same class as the " mud-larks," that is to say, they 
travel through the mud along shore in the neigh- 
bourhood of ship-building and ship-breaking yards, 
for the purpose of picking up copper nails, bolts, 
iron, and old rope. The shore-men, however, 
do not collect the lumps of coal and wood they 
meet with on their way, but leave them as the 
proper perquisites of the mud-larks. The sewer- 
hunters were formerly, and indeed are still, called 
by the name of " Toshers," the articles which they 
pick up in the course of their wanderings along 
shore being known among themselves by the 
general term " tosh," a word more particularly 
applied by them to anything made of copper. 
These " Toshers " may be seen, especially on the 
Surrey side of the Thames, habited in long greasy 
velveteen coats, furnished with pockets of vast capa- 
city, and their nether limbs encased in dirty canvas 
trowsers, and any old slops of shoes, that may be 
fit only for wading through the mud. They cany 
a bag on their back, and in their hand a pole seven 
or eight feet long, on one end of which there is 
a large iron hoe. The uses of this instrument are 
various ; with it they try the ground wherever it 
appears unsafe, before venturing on it, and, when 



assured of its safety, walk forward steadying their 
footsteps with the statF. Should they, as often 
happens, even to the most experienced, sink in 
some quagmire, they immediately throw out the 
long pole armed with the hoe, which is always 
held uppermost for this purpose, and with it seizing 
hold of any object within their reach, are thereby 
enabled to draw themselves out ; without 
the pole, however, their danger would be 
greater, for the more they struggled to extricate 
themselves from such places, the deeper they 
would sink ; and even with it, they might perish, 
I am told, in some part, if there were nobody at 
hand to render them assistance. Finally, they 
make iise of this pole to rake about the mud 
when searching for iron, copper, rope, and bones. 
They mostly exhibit great skill in discovering 
these thmgs in unlikely places, and have a know- 
ledge of the various sets of the tide, calculated to 
carry articles to particular points, almost equal to 
the dredgermen themselves. Although they can- 
not " pick up " as much now as they formerly 
did, they are still able to make what they call a 
fair living, and can afford to look down with a 
species of aristocratic contempt on the puny efforts 
of their less fortunate brethren the " mudlarks." 

To enter the sewers and explore them to any 
considerable distance is considered, even by those 
acquainted with what is termed " working the 
shores," an adventure of no small risk. There are 
a variety of perils to be encountered in such 
places. The brick-work in many parts — especially 
in the old sewers — has become rotten through the 
continual action of the putrefying matter and 
moisture, and parts have fallen down and choked 
up the passage with heaps of rubbish ; over these 
obstructions, nevertheless, the sewer-hunters have 
to scramble " in the best way they can." In 
such parts they are careful not to touch the brick- 
work over head, for the slightest tap might 
bring down an avalanche of old bricks and 
earth, and severely injure them, if not bury them 
in the rubbish. Since the construction of the 
new sewers, the old ones are in general aban- 
doned by the "hunters;" but in many places the 
formerchannelscrossand re-cross those recently con- 
structed, and in the old sewers a person is very likely 
to lose his way. It is dangerous to venture far into 
any of the smaller sewers branching off from the 
main, for in this the " hunters" h;ive to stoop low 
down in order to proceed ; and, from the confined 
space, there are often accumulated in such places, 
large quantities of foul air, which, as one of them 
st.-it«d, will " cause instantious death." Moreover, 
iar from there being any romance in the tales told 
of the rau, these vermin are really numerous and 
formidable in the sewers, and have been known, 
I am assured, to attack men when alone, and 
eren sometimes when accompanied by others, 
with Mch fury that the people have escaped from 
them with difficulty. They are particularly 
ferocious and dangerous, if they be driven into 
■OOM comer whence they cannot escape, when 
they will immediately fly at any one that opposes 
th<*ir progress. I received a similar account to 
this from one of the London flatbennea. There 

are moreover, in some quarters, ditches or trenches 
which are tilled as the water rushes up the sewers 
with the tide ; in these ditches the water is re- 
tained by a sluice, which is shut down at high 
tide, and lifted again at low tide, when it rushes 
down the sewers with all the violence of a 
mountain torrent, sweeping everything before it. 
If the sewer-hunter be not close to some brunch 
sewer, so that he can run into it, whenever the 
opening of these sluices takes place, he must in- 
evitably perish. The trenches or water reser- 
voirs for the cleansing of the sewers are chiefly on 
the south side of the river, and, as a proof of the 
great danger to which the sewer-hunters are ex- 
posed in such cases, it may be stated, that not 
very long ago, a sewer on the south side of the 
Thames was opened to be repaired ; a long ladder 
reached to the bottom of the sewer, down which 
the bricklayer's labourer was going with a hod of 
bricks, when the rush of water from the sluice, 
struck the bottom of the ladder, and instantly 
swept away ladder, labourer, and all. The brick- 
layer fortunately was enjoying his "pint and pipe" 
at a neighbouring public- house. The labourer was 
found by my informant, a " shore-worker,"' near 
the mouth of the sewer quite dead, battered, and 
disfigured in a frightful manner. There was like- 
wise great danger in former times from the rising 
of the tide in the sewers, so that it was necessary 
for the shore-men to have quitted them before the 
water had got any height within the entrance. 
At present, however, this is obviated in those 
sewers where the main is furnished with an iron 
door towards the river. 

The shore- workers, when about to enter the 
sewers, provide themselves, in addition to the long 
hoe already described, with a canvas apron, which 
they tie round them, and a dark lantern similar to 
a policeman's ; this they strap before theni on their 
right breast, in such a manner that on removing the 
shade, the bull's-eye throws the light straight for- 
ward when they are in an erect position, and enables 
them to see everything in advance of them for 
some distance ; but when they stoop, it throws the 
light directly under them, so that they can then 
distinctly see any object at their feet. The 
sewer-hunters usually go in gangs of three or four 
for the sake of company, and in order that they 
may be the better able to defend themselves from 
the rats. The old hands who have been often up 
(and every gang endeavours to include at least one 
experienced person), travel a long distance, not 
only through the main sewers, but also through 
many of the branches. Whenever the shore-men 
come near a street grating, they close their lanterns 
and watch their opportunity of gliding silently 
past unobserved, for otherwise a crowd might 
collect over head and intimate to the policeman on 
duty, that there were persons wandering in the 
sewers below. The shore- workers never take 
dogs with them, lest their barking when hunting 
the rats might excite attention. As the men go 
along they search tiie bottom of the sewer, raking 
away the mud with their hoe, and pick, from be- 
tween the crevices of the brick-work, money, or 
anything else that may have lodged there. There 

K 8 



are in many parts of the sewers holes where the 
brick-work has been worn away, and in these holes 
clusters of articles are found, which have been 
washed into them from time to time, and perhaps 
been collecting there for years ; such as pieces of 
iron, nails, various scraps of metal, coins of every 
description, all rusted into a mass like a rock, and 
weighing from a half hundred to two hundred 
weight altogether. These " conglomerates" of 
metul are too heavy for the men to take out of the 
sewers, so that if unable to break them up, they 
are compelled to leave them behind ; and there 
are very many such masses, I am informed, lying in 
the sewers at this moment, of immense weight, and 
growing larger every day by continual additions. 
The shore-men find great quantities of money — 
of copper money especially ; sometimes they dive 
their arm down to the elbow in the mud and 
filth and bring up shillings, sixpences, half-crowns, 
and occasionally half-sovereigns and sovereigns. 
They always find the coins standing edge upper- 
most between the bricks in the bottom, where the 
mortar has been worn away. The sewer-hunters 
occasionally find plate, such as spoons, ladles, silver- 
handled knives and forks, mugs and drinking 
cups, and now and then articles of jewellery ; but 
even while thus " in luck" as they call it, they do 
not omit to fill the bags on their backs with the 
more cumbrous articles they meet with — such as 
metals of every description, rope and bones. There 
is always a great quantity of these things to be 
met with in the sewers, they being continually 
washed down from the cesspools and drains of the 
houses. When the sewer-hunters consider they 
have searched long enough, or when they have 
found as much as they can conveniently take 
away, the gang leave the sewers and, adjourning to 
the nearest of their homes, count out the money 
they have picked up, and proceed to dispose of the 
old metal, bones, rope, &c. ; this done, they then, as 
they term it, "whack" the whole lot; that is, 
they divide it equally among all hands. At these 
divisions, I am assured, it frequently occurs that 
each member of the gang will realise from 305. to 
21. — this at least was a frequent occurrence some 
few years ago. Of late, however, the shore-men are 
obliged to use far more caution, as the police, and 
especially those connected with the river, who are 
more on the alert, as well as many of the coal- 
merchants in the neighbourhood of the sewers, 
would give information if they saw any suspicious 
persons approaching them. 

The principal localities in which the shore- 
hunters reside are in Mint-square, Mint-street, 
and Kent-street, in the Borous,'h — Snow*s-fields, 
Bermondsey — ^and that never-failing locality be- 
tween the London Docks and Rosemary-lane 
which appears to be a concentration of all the 
misery of the kingdom. There were known to 
be a few years ago nearly 200 sewer-hunters, 
or " toshers," and, incredible as it may appear, I 
have satisfied myself that, taking one week with 
another, they could not be said to make much 
short of 2/. per week. Their probable gains, I 
was told, were about 6«. per day all the year 
round. At this rate the property recovered from 

the sewers of London would have amounted to 
no less than 20,000i, per annum, which would 
make the amount of property lost down the drains 
of each house amount to \s. id. a year. The 
shore-hunters of the present day greatly com- 
plain of the recent restrictions, and inveigh 
in no measured terms against the constituted 
authorities. " They won't let us in to work the 
shores," say they, " cause there 's a little danger. 
They fears as how we '11 get suffocated, at least 
they tells us so ; but they don't care if we get 
starved ! no, they doesn't mind nothink about 

It is, however, more than suspected that these 
men find plenty of means to evade the vigilance 
of the sewer officials, and continue quietly to reap 
a considerable harvest, gathered whence it might 
otherwise have rotted in obscurity. 

The sewer-hunters, strange as it may appear, 
are certainly smart fellows, and take decided 
precedence of all the other " finders " of London, 
whether by land or water, both on account of the 
greater amount of their earnings, and the skill 
and courage they manifest in the pursuit of their 
dangerous employment. But like all who make 
a living as it were by a game of chance, plodding, 
carefulness, and saving habits cannot be reckoned 
among their virtues ; they are improvident, even 
to a proverb. With their gains, superior even to 
those of the better-paid artizans, and far beyond 
the amount received by man}'^ clerks, who have 
to maintain a "respectable appearance," the shore- 
men might, with but ordinary prudence, live 
well, have comfortable homes, and even be able 
to save sufficient to provide for themselves in their 
old age. Their practice, however, is directly the 
reverse. They no sooner make a " haul," as they 
say, than they adjourn to some low public-house 
in the neighbourhood, and seldom leave till 
empty pockets and hungry stomachs drive them 
forth to procure the means for a fresh debauch. 
It is principally on this account that, despite 
their large gains, they are to be found located in 
the most wretched quarter of the metropolis. 

It might be supposed that the sewer-huntera 
(passing much of their time in the midst of the 
noisome vapours generated by the sewers, the 
odour of which, escaping upwards from the grat- 
ings in the streets, is dreaded and shunned by all 
as something pestilential) would exhibit in their 
pallid faces the unmistakable evidence of their 
unhealthy employment. But this is far from the 
fact. Strange to say, the sewer-hunters are strong, 
robust, and healthy men, generally florid in their 
complexion, while many of them know illness 
only by name. Some of the elder men, who head 
the gangs when exploring the sewers, are between 
60 and 80 years of age, and have followed the 
employment during their whole lives. The men 
appear to have a fixed belief that the odour of 
the sewers contributes in a variety of ways to 
their general health ; nevertheless, they admit 
that accidents occasionally occur from the air in 
some places being fully impregnated with mephitic 

I found one of these men, from whom I derived 



much information, and who is really an active \ 
intelligent man, in a conrt off Rosemary-iane, j 
Access is gained to this court through a dark 
narrow entrance, scarcely wider than a doorway, j 
running beneath the first floor of one of the j 
houses in the adjoining street. The court itself is 
about 50 yards long, and not more than three 
jrards wide, surrounded by lofty wooden houses, 
with jutting abutments in nifiny of the upper 1 
stories that almost exclude the light, and give them 
the appearance of being about to tumble down 
upon the heads of the intruders. This court is 
densely inhabited ; every room has its own family, 
more or less in number ; and in many of them, 
I am assured, there are two families residing, the 
better to enable the one to whom the room is let 
to p:iy the rent. At the time of my visit, which 
was in the evening, after the inmates had returned 
from their various employments, some quarrel had 
arisen among them. The court was so thronged 
with the friends of the contending individuals and 
spectators of the fight that I was obliged to stand 
at the entrance, unable to force my way through 
the dense multitude, while labourers and street- 
folk witli shaggy heads, and women with dirty 
caps and fuzzy hair, thronged every window 
above, and peered down anxiously at the affray. 
There must have been some hundreds of people 
collected there, and yet all were inhabitants of 
this very court, for the noise of the quarrel had 
not yet reached the street. On wondering at the 
number, my informant, when the noise had ceased, 
explained the matter as follows : " You see, sir, 
there 's more than 80 houses in this here court, 
and there's not less than eight rooms in every 
house ; now there 's nine or ten people in some of 
the rooms, I knows, but just say four in every 
room, and calculate what that there comes to." I 
did, and found it, to my surprise, to be 960. 
*' Well," continued my informant, chuckling and 
rubbing his hands in evident delight at the re- 
mit, " you may as well just tack a couple a 
kvndred on to the tail o' them for make-weight, 
as we 're not wcrry pertikler about a hundred 
or two one way or the other in these here 

In this court, up three flights of narrow stairs 
that creaked and trembled at every footstep, and 
in an ill-furnished garret, dwelt the shore- worker 
— a man who, had he been careful, according to 
bis own account at least, might have money in the 
bank and be the proprietor of the house in which 
he lived. The sewer-hunters, like the street-people, 
are all known by some peculiar nickname, derived 
chiefly from some personal charncteristic. It 
would be a waste of time to inquire for them by 
their right names, even if you were acquainted 
with them, for none else would know them, and 
no intelligence concerning them could be ob- 
tained ; while under the title of Lanky Bill, 
Long Tom, One-eyed George, Shor^armed Jack, 
they are known to every one. 

My informant, who is also dignified with a title, 
or as he calls it a " handle to his name," gave me 
the following account of himself : " I was bom in 
Birmingham, but afore I recollects anythink, we 

came to London. The first thing I remembers is 
being down on the shore at Cuckold's P'int, when 
the tide was out and up to ray knees in mud, and 
a gitting down deeper and deeper every minute till 
I was picked up by one of the shore-workers. I 
used to git down there every day, to look at the 
ships and boats a sailing up and down ; I 'd niver 
be tired a looking at them at that time. At last 
father 'prenticed me to a blacksmith in Bermondsey, 
and th^i I couldii't git down, to the river when I 
liked, so I got to hate the forge and the fire, and 
lloicing the bellows, and couldn't stand the con- 
finement no how, — at last I cuts and runs. After 
some time they gits me back ag'in, but I cuts ag'in. 
I was determined not to stand it. I wouldn't go 
home for fear I 'd be sent back, so I goes down to 
Cuckold's P'int and there I sits near half the day, 
when who should I see but the old un as had 
picked me up out of the mud when I was a 
sinking. I tells him all about it, and he takes me 
home along with hisself, and gits me a bag and an 
0, and takes me out next day, and shows me 
what to do, and shows me the dangerous places, 
and the places what are safe, and how to rake in 
the mud for rope, and bones, and iron, and that 's 
the way I corned to be a shore-worker. Lor' bless 
you, I 've worked Cuckold's P'int for more nor 
twenty year. I know places where you 'd go over 
head and ears in the mud, and jist alongside on 
'em you may walk as safe as you can on this floor. 
But it don't do for a stranger to try it, he 'd wery 
soon git in, and it 's not so easy to git out agin, 
I can tell you. I stay'd with the old un a long 
time, and we used to git lots o' tin, specially when 
we 'd go to work the sewers. I liked that well 
enough. I could git into small places where the 
old un couldn't, and when I 'd got near the grating 
in the street, I 'd search about in the bottom of the 
sewer ; I 'd put down my arm to my shoulder in 
the mud and bring up shillings and half-crowns, 
and lots of coppers, and plenty other things. I 
once found a silver jug as big as a quart pot, and 
often found spoons and knives and forks and every 
thing you can think of. Bless your heart the 
smells nothink ; it's a roughish smell at first, but 
nothink near so bad as you thinks, 'cause, you 
see, there 's sich lots o' water always a coming 
down the sewer, and the air gits in from the 
gratings, and that helps to sweeten it a bit. 
There 's some places, 'specially in the old sewers, 
where they say there 's foul air, and they tells me 
the foul air 'ill cause instantious death, but I niver 
met with anythink of the kind, and I think if 
there was sich a thing I should know somethink 
about it, for I 've worked the sewers, off and on, 
for twenty year. When we comes to a narrow- 
place as we don't know, we takes the candle out 
of the lantern and fastens it on the hend of the 
0, and then runs it up the sewer, and if the light 
stays in, we knows as there a'n't no danger. We 
used to go up the city sewer at Blackfriars-bridge, 
but that 's stopped up now ; it 's boarded across 
inside. The city wouldn't let us up if they knew 
it, 'cause of the danger, they say, but they don't 
care if we hav'n't got nothink to eat nor a place to 
put our heads in, while there 's plenty of money 



lying there and good for nobody. If you was 
caught up it and brought afore the Lord Mayor, 
he 'd give you fourteen days on it, as safe as the 
bellows, so a pood many on us now is afraid to 
wenture in. We don't wenture as we used to, 
but still it's done at times. There 's a many places 
as I knows on where the bricks has fallen down, 
and that there 's dangerous ; it 's so delaberated 
that if you touches it with your head or with the 
hend of the o, it 'ill all come down atop o' you. 
I 've often seed as many as a hundred rats at once, 
and they 're woppers in the sewers, I can tell you; 
them there water rats, too, is far more ferociouser 
than any other rats, and they 'd think nothink of 
tnckling a man, if they found they couldn't get 
away no how, but if they can why they runs byand 
gits out o' the road. I knows a chap as the rats 
tackled in the sewers ; they bit him hawfuUy : you 
must ha' heard on it ; it was him as the water- 
men went in arter when they heard him a shouting 
as they was a rowin' by. Only for the watermen 
the rats would ha' done for him, safe enough. Do 
you recollect hearing on the man as was found in 
the sewers about twelve ye<ar ago ? — oh you must — 
the rats eat every bit of him, and left nothink but 
his bones. I knowed him well, he was a rig'lar 

" The rats is wery dangerous, that 's sartain, but 
we always goes three or four on us together, and 
the varmint 's too wide awake to tackle us then, 
for they know they 'd git off second best. You can 
go a long way in the sewers if you like ; I don't 
know how fer. I niver was at the end on 
them myself, for a cove can't stop in longer than 
six or seven hour, 'cause of the tide ; you must 
be out before that 's up. There 's a many 
branches on ivery side, but we don't go into 
all ; we go where we know, and where we 're 
always sure to find somethink. I know a 
place now where there 's more than two or three 
hundred weight of metal all rusted together, and 
plenty of money among it too ; but it 's too heavy 
to carry it out, so it 'ill stop there I s'pose till 
the world comes to an end. I often brought 
out a piece of metal half a hundred in weight, 
and took it under the harch of the bridge, and 
broke it up with a large stone to pick out the 
money. I 've found sovereigns and half sovereigns 
over and over ag'in, and three on us has often 
cleared a couple of pound apiece in one day out 
of the sewers. But we no sooner got the money 
than the publican had it. I only wish I 'd back 
all the money I 've guv to the publican, and I 
wouldn't care how the wind blew for the rest of 
my life. I never thought about taking a hammer 
along with me into the sewer, no; I never thought 
I 'd want it. You can't go in every day, the tides 
don't answer, and they 're so pertikler now, far 
more pertikler than formerly ; if you was known 
to touch the traps, you 'd git hauled up afore the 
beak. It 's done for all that, and though there is 
so many eyes about. The " Johnnys " on the 
water are always on the look out, and if they sees 
any on us about, we has to cut our lucky. We 
shore-workers sometimes does very well other 
ways. When we hears of a tire anywheres, we 

goes and watches where they shoots the rubbish, 
and then we goes and sifts it over, and washes it 
afterwards, then all the metal sinks to the bottom. 
The way we does it is this here : we takes a 
barrel cut in half, and fills it with water, and then 
we shovels in the siftings, and stirs 'em round and 
round and round with a stick ; then we throws 
out that water and puts in some fresh, and stirs 
that there round ag'in ; arter some time the water 
gets clear, and every thing heavy 's fell to the bot- 
tom, and then we sees what it is and picks it out. 
I 've made from a pound to thirty shilling a day, at 
that there work on lead alone. The time the Parlia- 
ment Houses was burnt, the rubbish was shot in 
Hyde Park, and Long J — and I goes to work it, 
and while we were at it, we didn't make less nor 
three pounds apiece a day; we found sovereigns 
and half sovereigns, and lots of silver half melted 
away, and jewellery, such as rings, and stones, 
and brooches ; but we never got half paid for 
them. I found two sets of bracelets for a lady's 
arms, and took 'em to a jeweller, and he tried 
them jist where the "great " heat had melted the 
catch away, and found they was only metal double 
plated, or else he said as how he 'd give us thirty 
pounds for them ; howsomever, we takes them 
down to a Jew in Petticoat-lane, who used to buy 
things of us, and he gives us 11. 10s. for 'em. We 
found so many things, that at last Long J — and 
I got to quarrel about the " whacking ; " there was 
cheatiu' a goin' on ; it wasn't all fair and above 
board as it ought to be, so we gits to fightin', and 
kicks up sich a jolly row, that they wouldn't let 
us work no more, and takes and buries the whole 
on the rubbish. There 's plenty o' things under 
the ground along with it now, if anybody could 
git at them. There was jist two loads o' rubbish 
shot at one time in Bishop Bonner's-fields, which | 
I worked by myself, and what do you think I 
made out of that there 1 — why I made 3/. 5s. The 
rubbish was got out of a cellar, what hadn't been 
stirred for fifty year or more, so I thinks there 
ought to be somethink in it, and I keeps my eye 
on it, and watches where it 's shot ; then I turns 
to work, and the first thing I gits hold on is a 
chain, which I takes to be copper; it was so 
dirty, but it turned out to be all solid goold, and 
I gets 1^. 55. for it from the Jew ; arter that I 
finds lots o' coppers, and silver money, and many 
things besides. The reason Hikes this sort of life 
is, 'caiise I can sit down, wlien I likes, and nobody 
can't order me about. Wlmn I 'm hard up, I 
knovjs as hoio I must work, and then I goes at it 
like sticks a breaking ; and tho' the times isn't as 
they was, I can go now and pick up my four or 
five bob a day, where another wouldn't know how 
to get a brass farden." 

There is a strange tale in existence among the 
shore-workers, of a race of wild hogs inhabiting the 
sewers in the neighbourhood of Hampstead. The 
story runs, that a sow in young, by some accident 
got down the sewer through an opening, and, 
wandering away from the spot, littered and reared 
her offspring in the drain, feeding on the oflal 
and garbage washed into it continually. Here, it 
is alleged, the breed multiplied exceedingly, and 

Dust Hoi ! Dust Hoi ! 

[From a Dajrutrreottfpt hy BcARO.] 



have become almost as ferocious as they are 
numerous. This story, apocryphal as it seems, 
has nevertheless its believers, and it is ingeniously 
aigued, that the reason why none of the subterra- 
nean animals have been able to make their way to 
the light of day is, that they could only do so by 
reaching the mouth of the sewer at the river-side, 
while, in order to arrive at that point, they must 
necessarily encounter the Fleet ditch, which runs 
toW-ards the river with great rapidity, and as it is 
the obstinate nature of a pig to swim against the 
stream, the wild hogs of the sewers invariably 
work their way back to their original quarters, and 
are thus never to be seen. What seems strange 
in the matter is, that the inhabitants of Hamp- 
stead never have been known to see any of these 
animals pass beneath the gratings, nor to have 
been disturbed by their gruntings. The reader 
of course cjin believe as much of the story as he 
pleases, and it is right to inform him that the sewer- 
hunters themselves have never yet encountered 
any of the fabulous monsters of the Hampstead 

Of thb Mud-Larks. 
There is another class who may be termed river- 
finders, although their occupation is connected 
only with the shore ; they are commonly known 
by the name of " mud-larks," from being compelled, 
in order to obtain the articles they seek, to wade 
sometimes up to their middle through the mud left 
on the shore by the retiring tide. These poor 
creatures are certainly about the most deplorable 
in their appearance of any I have met with in the 
course of nay inquiries. They may be seen of all 
ages, from mere childhood to positive decrepitude, 
crawling among the barges at the various wharfs 
along the river ; it cannot be said that they are clad 
in rags, for they are scarcely half covered by the 
tattered indescribable things that serve them for 
clothing ; their bodies are grimed with the foul 
■oil of the river, and their torn garments stiffened 
up like boards with dirt of every possible de- 

Among the mud-larks may be seen many old 
women, and itis indeed pitiable to behold them, espe- 
cially during the winter, bent nearly double with age 
and infirmity, paddling and groping among the 
wet mud for small pieces of coal, chips of wood, 
or any sort of refuse washed up by the tide. These 
women always have with them an old basket or 
an old tin kettle, in which they put whatever they 
chance to find. It usually takes them a whole 
tide to fill this receptacle, but when filled, it is as 
much as the feeble old creatures are able to carry 

The mud-larks generally live in some court 
or alley in the neighbourhood of the river, 
and, as the tide recedes, crowds of boys and 
little girls, some old men, and many old women, 
may be observed loitering about the various 
stairs, watching eagerly for the opportunity to 
commence their labours. When the tide is suffi- 
ciently low they scatter themselves along the 
shore, separating from each other, and soon dis- 
appcw among the craft lying about in every direc' 

tion. This is the case on both sides of the river, 
as high up as there is anything to be found, ex- 
tending as far as Vauxhall-bridge, and as low down 
as Woolwich. The nmd-larks themselves, how- 
ever, know only those who reside near them, and 
whom they are accustomed to meet in their daily 
pursuits ; indeed, with but few exceptions, these 
people are dull, and apparently stupid ; this is ob- 
servable particularly among the boys and girls, who, 
when engaged in searching the mud, hold but 
little converse one with another. The men and 
women may be passed and repassed, but they 
notice no one ; they never speak, but with a stolid 
look of wretchedness they plash their way through 
the mire, their bodies bent down while they peer 
anxiously about, and occasionally stoop to pick up 
some paltry treasure that falls in their way. 

The mud-larks collect whatever they happen to 
find, such as coals, bits of old-iron, rope, bones, 
and copper nails that drop from ships while lying 
or repairing along shore. Copper nails are the 
most valuable of all the articles they find, but 
these they seldom obtain, as they are always 
driven fi-om the neighbourhood of a ship while 
being new-sheathed. Sometimes the younger 
and bolder mud-larks venture on sweeping some 
empty coal-barge, and one little fellow with whom 
I spoke, having been lately caught in the act of 
so doing, had to undergo for the offence seven 
days' imprisonment in the House of Correction : 
this, he says, he liked much better than mud-larking, 
for while he staid there he wore a coat and shoes 
and stockings, and though he had not over much 
to eat, he certainly was never afiraid of going to 
bed without anything at all — as he often had to 
do when at liberty. He thought he would try 
it on again in the winter, he told me, saying, it 
would be so comfortable to have clothes and shoes 
and stockings then, and not be obliged to go into 
the cold wet mud of a morning. ! 

The coals that the mud-larks find, they sell to j 
the poor people of the neighbourhood at \d. per 
pot, holding about 14 lbs. The iron and bones 
and rope and copper nails which they collect, they 
sell at the rag-shops. They dispose of the iron 
at 5 lbs. for It/., the bones at 3 lbs, a \d., rope 
a irf, per lb, wet, and %d. per lb, dry, and cop- 
per nails at the rate of Ad. per lb. They oc- 
casionally pick up tools, such as saws and ham- 
mers ; these they dispose of to the seamen for 
biscuit and meat, and sometimes sell them at 
the rag-shops for a few halfpence. In this man- 
ner they earn from 2Jrf, to M. per day, but 
rarely the latter sum ; their average gains may 
be estimated at about M. per day. The boys, 
after leaving the river, sometimes scrape their 
trousers, and frequent the cab-stands, and try to 
earn a trifle by opening the cab-doors for those 
who enter them, or by holding gentlemen's horses. 
Some of them go, in the evening, to a ragged 
school, in the neighbourhood of which they live ; 
more, as they say, because other boys go there, 
than from any desire to learn. 

At one of the stairs in the neighbourhood of 
the pool, I collected about a dozen of these uu> 
fortunate children : there was not one of them 



over twelve years of age, and many of them were 
but six. It would be almost impossible to describe 
the wretched group, so motley was their appear- 
ance, so extraordinary their dress, and so stolid 
and inexpressive their countenances. Some carried 
baskets, filled with the produce of their morning's 
work, and others old tin kettles with iron handles. 
Some, for want of these articles, had old hats filled 
with the bones and coals they had picked up ; and 
others, more needy still, had actually taken the 
caps from their own heads, and filled them with 
what they had happened to find. The muddy 
slush was dripping from their clothes and utensils, 
and forming a puddle in which they stood. There 
did not appear to be among the whole group as 
many filthy cotton rags to their backs as, when 
stitched together, would have been sufficient to 
form the material of one shirt. There were the 
remnants of one or two jackets among them, but 
so begrimed and tattered that it would have been 
difficult to have determined either the original ma- 
terial or make of the garment. On questioning 
one, he said his father was a coal-backer ; he had 
been dead eight years ; the boy was nine years 
old. His mother was alive ; she went out charing 
and washing when she could get any such work 
to do. She had Is. a day when she could get em- 
ployment, but that was not often ; he remembered 
once to have had a pair of shoes, but it was a long 
time since. " It is very cold in winter," he said, 
"to stand in the mud without shoes," but he did 
not mind it in summer. He had been three years 
mud-larking, and supposed he should remain a 
mud-lark all his life. What else could he be 1 for 
there was nothing else that he knew how to do. 
Some days he earned \d., and some days 4c?. ; he 
never earned %d. in one day, that would have 
been a "jolly lot of money." He never found 
a saw or a hammer, he "only wished" he could, 
they would be glad to get hold of them at the 
dolly's. He had been one month at school 
before he went mud-larking. Some time ago 
he had gone to the ragged-school; but he no 
longer went there, for he forgot it. He could 
neither read nor write, and did not think he could 
learn if he tried " ever so much." He didn't know 
what religion his father and mother were, nor did 
know what religion meant. God was God, he 
said. He had heard he was good, but didn't 
know what good he was to him. He thought he 
was a Christian, but he didn't know what a 
Christian was. He had heard of Jesus Christ 
once, when he went to a CathoFic chapel, but he 
never heard tell of who or what he was, and 
didn't "particular care" about knowing. His 
father and mother were born in Aberdeen, but he 
didn't know where Aberdeen was. London was 
England, and England, he said, was in London, 
but he couldn't tell in what part. He could not 
tell where he would go to when he died, and 
didn't believe any one could tell that. Prayers, he 
told me, were what people said to themselves at 
night. He never said any, and didn't know any ; 
his mother sometimes used to speak to him about 
them, but he could never learn any. His mother 
didn't go to church or to chapel, because she had 

no clothes. All the money he got he gave to his 
mother, and she bought bread with it, and when 
they had no money they lived the best way they 

Such was the amount of intelligence manifested 
by this unfortunate child. 

Another was only seven years old. He stated 
that his father was a sailor who had been hurt on 
board ship, and been unable to go to sea for the 
last two years. He had two brothers and a sister, 
one of them older than himself; and his elder 
brother was a mud-lark like himself. The two 
had been mud-larking more than a year; they 
went because they saw other boys go, and knew 
that they got money for the things they found. 
They were often hungry, and glad to do anything 
to get something to eat. Their father was not 
able to earn anything, and their mother could get 
but little to do. They gave all the money they 
earned to their mother. They didn't gamble, and 
play at pitch and toss when they had got some 
money, but some of the big boys did on the 
Sunday, when they didn't go a mud-larking. He 
couldn't tell why they did nothing on a Sunday, 
" only they didn't ; " though sometimes they looked 
about to see where the best place would be on the 
next day. He didn't go to the ragged school ; he 
should like to know how to read a book, though he 
couldn't tell what good it would do him. He 
didn't like mud larking, would be glad of some- 
thing else, but didn't know anything else that he 
could do. 

Another of the boys was the son of a dock 
labourer, — casually employed. He was between 
seven and eight years of age, and his sister, who 
was also a mud-lark, formed one of the group. 
The mother of these two was dead, and there 
were three children younger than themselves. 

The rest of the histories may easily be imagined, 
for there was a painful uniformity in the stories 
of all the children : they were either the chil- 
dren of the very poor, who, by their own im- 
providence or some overwhelming calamity, had 
been reduced to the extremity of distress, or else 
they were orphans, and compelled from utter 
destitution to seek for the means of appeasing their 
hunger in the mud of the river. That the majority 
of this class are ignorant, and without even the 
rudiments of education, and that many of them 
from time to time are committed to prison for petty 
thefts, cannot be wondered at. Nor can it even 
excite our astonishment that, once within the walls 
of a prison, and finding how much more comfort- 
able it is than their previous condition, they should 
return to it repeatedly. As for the females 
growing up under such circumstances, the worst 
may be anticipated of them ; and in proof of this 
I have found, upon inquiry, that very many of the 
unfortunate creatures who swell the tide of prosti- 
tution in IlatcliflF-highw.iy, and other low neigh- 
bourhoods in the East of London, have originally 
been mud-larks ; and only remained at that occu- 
pation till such time as they were capable of 
adopting the more easy and more lucrative life of 
the prostitute. 

As to the numbers and earnings of the mud- 



larks, the following calculations fall short of, rather 
than exceed, the truth. From Execution Dock to 
the lower part of Liraehouse Hole, there are 14 
stairs or landing-places, by which the mud-larks 
descend to the shore in order to pursue their 
employment. There are about as many on the 
opposite side of the water similarly frequented. 

At King James' Stairs, in Wapping Wall, which 
is nearly a central position, from 40 to 50 mud- 
larks go down daily to the river ; the mud-larks 
" using" the other stairs are not so numerous. If, 
therefore, we reckon the number of stairs on both 
sides 01 the river at 28, and the average number 
of mud-larks frequenting them at 10 each, we 
shall have a total of 280. Each mud-lark, it 
has been shown, earns on an average Zd. a day, or 
\t. 6d. per week ; so that the annual earnings of 
each will be 3/. 18*., or say il., a year, and hence 
the gross earnings of the 280 will amount to rather 
more than 1000/. per annum. 

But there are, in addition to the mud-larks em- 
ployed in the neighbourhood of what may be 
called the pool, many others who work down the 
river at various places as far as Black wall, on the one 
side, and at Deptford, Greenwich, jind Woolwich, 
on the other. These frequent the neighbourhoods 
of the various "yards" along shore, where vessels 
are being built ; and whence, at certain times, 
chips, small pieces of wood, bits of iron, and 
copper nails, are washed out into the river. There 
is but little doubt that this portion of the class 
earn much more than the mud-larks of the pool, 
seeing that they are especially convenient to the 
places where the iron vessels are constructed ; so 
that the presumption is, that the number of mud- 
larks "at work" on the banks of the Thames 
(especially if we include those above bridge), and 
the value of the property extracted by them from 
the mud of the river, may be fairly estimated at 
double that which is stated above, or say 550 
gaining 2000/. per annum. 

As an illustration of the doctrines I have en- 
deavoured to enforce throughout this publication, 
I cite the following history of one of the above 
class. It may serve to teach those who are still 
sceptical as to the degrading influence of circum- 
stances upon the poor, that many of the humbler 
cUsses, if placed in the same easy position as our- 
selves, would become, perhaps, quite as " respect- 
able" members of society. 

The lad of whom I speak was discovered by 
me now nearly two years ago " mud-larking " on 
the banks of the river near the docks. He was 
a quick, intelligent little fellow, and had been at 
the business, he told me, about three years. He 
had taken to mud-larking, he said, because his 
clothes were too bad for him to look for any- 
thing better. He worked every day, with 20 
or 30 boys, who might all he seen at day- 
break with their trowsers tucked up, groping 
about, and picking out the pieces of coal from 
the mud on the banks of the Thames. He went 
into the river up to his knees, and in searching 
the mod he often ran pieces of gUss and long 
nails into his feet. When this was the case, he 
went boBw Mid dressed the wounds, but returned 

to the river-side directly, " for should the tide 
come up," he added, " without my having found 
something, why I must starve till next low tide." 
In the very cold weather he and his other shoe- 
less companions used to stand in the hot water 
that ran down the river side from some of the 
steam-factories, to warm their frozen feet. 

At first he found it difficult to keep his footing 
in the mud, and he had known many beginners 
fall in. He came to my house, at my request, the 
morning after my first meeting with him. It 
was the depth of winter, and the poor little fellow 
was nearly destitute of clothing. His trousers 
were worn away up to his knees, he had no shirt, 
and his legs and feet (which were bare) were 
covered with chilblains. On being questioned by 
me he gave the following account of his life : — 

He was fourteen years old. He had two 
sisters, one fifteen and the other twelve years of 
age. His father had been dead nine years. The 
man had been a coal-whipper, and, from getting 
his work from one of the publican employers in 
those days, had become a confirmed drunkard. 
When he married he held a situation in a ware- 
house, where his wife managed the first year to 
save il. 10s. out of her husband's earnings ; but 
from the day he took to coal- whipping she had 
never saved one halfpenny, indeed she and her 
children were often left to starve. The man 
(whilst in a state of intoxication) had fallen be- 
tween two barges, and the injuries he received 
had been so severe that he had lingered in a 
helpless state for three years before his death. 
After her husband's decease the poor woman's 
neighbours subscribed 1/. 55. for her; with this 
sum she opened a greengrocer's shop, and got on 
very well for five years. 

When the boy was nine years old his mother 
sent him to the Red Lion school at Green-bank, 
near Old Gravel-lane, Ratcliflfe-highway; she paid 
Id. a week for his learning. He remained there 
for a year; then the potato-rot came, and his 
mother lost upon all she bought. About the 
same time two of her customers died 30s. in her 
debt; this loss, together with the potato-disease, 
completely ruined her, and the whole family had 
been in the greatest poverty from that period. 
Then she was obliged to take all her children 
from their school, that they might help to keep 
themselves as best they could. Her eldest girl 
sold fish in the streets, and the boy went to the 
river-side to "pick up" his living. The change, 
however, was so great that shortly afterwards 
the little fellow lay ill eighteen weeks with the 
ague. As soon as the boy recovered his mother 
and his two sisters were " taken bad " with 
a fever. The poor woman went into the " Great 
House, " and the children were taken to the Fever 
Hospital. When the mother returned home she 
was too weak to work, and all she had to depend 
on was what her boy brought from the river. 
They had nothing to eat and no money until 
the little fellow had been down to the shore and 
picked up some coals, selling them for a trifie. 
" And hard enough he had to work for what hd 
got, poor boy," said his mother to me oo « future 



occasion, sobbing; "still he never complained, 
but was quite proud when he broujj:ht home 
enough for us to get a bit of meat with ; and 
when he has sometimes seen me down-hearted, 
he has clung round my neck, and assured me 
that one day God would see us cared for if I 
would put my trust in Him," As soon as his 
mother was well enough she sold fruit in the 
streets, or went out washing when she could get 
a day's work. 

The lad suffered much from the pieces of broken 
glass in the mud. Some little time before I met 
with him he had run a copper nail into his foot. 
This lamed him for three months, and his mother 
was obliged to carry him on her back every morn- 
ing to the doctor. As soon, however, as he could 
" hobble " (to use his mother's own words) he 
went back to the river, and often returned (after 
many hours' hard work in the mud) with only a 
few pieces of coal, not enough to sell even to get 
them a bit of bread. One evening, as he was 
warming his feet in the water that ran from a 
steam factory, he heard some boys talking about 
the Ragged School in High-street, Wapping. 

"They was saying what they used to learn 
there," added the boy. " They asked me to come 
along with them for it was great fun. They told 
me that all the boys used to be laughing and 
making game of the master. They said they used 
to put out the gas and chuck the slates all about. 
They told me, too, that there was a good fire there, 
80 I went to have a warm and see what it was 
like. When I got there the master was very 
kind to me. They used to give us tea-parties, and 
to keep us quiet they used to show us the magic 
lantern. I soon got to like going there, and went 
every night for six months. There was about 40 or 
60 boys in the school. The most of them was 
thieves, and they used to go thieving the coals out 
of barges along shore, and cutting the ropes off ships, 
and going and selling it at the rag-shops. They 
used to get|(i. a lb. for the rope when dry, and \d. 
when wet Some used to steal pudding out of shops 
and hand it to those outside, and the last boy it 
was handed to would go off with it. They used to 
steal bacon and bread sometimes as well. About 
half of the boys at the school was thieves. Some had 
work to do at ironmongers, lead-factories, engineers, 
soap-boilers, and so on, and some had no work 
to do and was good boys still. After we came 
out of school at nine o'clock at night, some of ttie 
bad boys would go a thieving, perhaps half-a-dozen 
and from that to eight would go out in a gang 
together. There was one big boy of the name of 

C ; he was 18 years old, and is in prison now 

for stealing bacon ; I think he is in the House of 

Correction. This C used to go out of school 

before any of us, and wait outside the door as the 
other boys came out. Then he would call the 
boys he wanted for his gangs on one side, and tell 
them where to go and steal. He used to look out 
in the daytime for shops where things could be 
* prigged,' and at night he would tell the boys to 
go to them. He was called the captain of the 
gangs. He had about three gangs altogether with 
him, and there were from six to eight boys in each 

gang. The boys used to bring what they stole to 
C , and he used to share it with them. I be- 
longed to one of the gangs. There were six boys 
altogether in my gang ; the biggest lad, that 
knovved all about the thieving, was the captain of 

the gang I was in, and was captain over him 

and over all of us. 

" There was two brothers of them ; you seed 
them, sir, the night you first met me. The other 

boys, as was in my gang, was B B , and 

B L , and W B , and a boy we 

used to call 'Tim;' these, with myself, used to 
make up one of the gangs, and we all of us used 
to go a thieving every night after school-hours. 
When the tide would be right up, and we 
had nothing to do along shore, we used to go 

thieving in the daytime as well. It was B 

B , and B L , as first put me up 

to go thieving; they took me with them, one 
night, up the lane [New Gravel-lane], and I see 
them take some bread out of a baker's, and they 
wasn't found out ; and, after that, I used to go 

with them regular. Then I joined G 's 

gang; and, after that, C came and told us 

that his gang could do better than oum, and he 
asked us to join our gang to his'n, and we did so. 
Sometimes we used to make 35. or is. a day; 
or about Qd. apiece. While waiting outside the 
school-doors, before they opened, we used to plan 
up where we would go thieving after school was 
over. I was taken up once for thieving coals 
myself, but I was let go again." 

I was so much struck with the boy's truth- 
fulness of manner, that I asked him, would, he 
really lead a different life, if he saw a means 
of so doing 1 He assured me he would, and 
begged me earnestly to try him. Upon his 
leaving me, 2s. were given him for his trouble. 
This small sum (I afterwards learned) kept the 
family for more than a fortnight. The girl laid it 
out in sprats (it being then winter-time) ; these 
she sold in the streets. 

I mentioned the fact to a literary friend, who 
interested himself in the boy's welfare ; and even- 
tually succeeded in procuring him a situation at an 
eminent printer's. The subjoined letter will show 
how the lad conducted himself while there. 

" Whitefriars, April 22, 1850. 
"Messrs. Bradbury and Evans beg to say that the 
boy J. C. has conducted himself in a very satisfactory 
manner since he has been in their employment." 

The same literary friend took the girl into his 
service. She is in a situation still, though not in 
the same family. 

The boy now holds a good situation at one of the 
daily newspaper offices. So well has he behaved 
himself, that, a few weeks since, his wages were 
increased from 6«. to 9s. per week. His mother 
(owing to the boy's exertions) has now a little 
shop, and is doing well. 

This simple story requires no comments, and is 
narrated here in the hope that it may teach many 
to know how often the poor boys reared in the 
gutter are thieves, merely because society forbids 
them being honest lads. 




Tbbsb men constitute a large body, and are a 
daM who, all things considered, do their work 
silently and efficiently. Almost without the cog- 
nisance of the mass of the people, the refuse is 
removed from our streets and houses; and London, 
as if in the care of a tidy housewife, is always 
being cleaned. Great as are the faults and ab- 
surdities of many parts of our system of public 
cleansing, nevertheless, when compared with the 
state of things in any continental capital, the 
superiority of the metropolis of Great Britain is 

In all this matter there is little merit to be 
attributed to the workmen, except that they may 
be well drilled ; for the majority of them are as 
moch machines, apart from their animation, as are 
the cane and whalebone made to cleanse the 
chimney, or the clumsy-looking machine which, 
in its progress, is a vehicular scavenger, sweeping 
u it goes. 

These public cleansers are to be thus classi- 
fied :— 

1. Dustmen, or those who empty and remove 
the collection of ashes, bones, vegetables, &c., 
deposited in the dust-bins, or other refuse recep- 
tacles throughout the metropolis. 

2. Nightmen, or those who remove the contents 
of the cesspools. 

3. Sweeps, or those who remove the soot from 
the chimneys. 

4. Scavengers, or those who remove the dirt 
from the streets, roads, and markets. 

Let me, however, before proceeding further 
with the subject, lay before the reader the follow- 
ing important return as to the extent and contents 
of this prodigious city : for this document I am 
indebted to the Commissioners of Police, gentle- 
men from whom I have derived the most valiialile 
information since the commencement of my in- 
quiries, and to whose courtesy and consideration 
I am anxious to acknowledge my many obliga- 

BER, 1850. 

Area (in square miles) 


Streets, Roads, &c. (length of, in miles) 
Number of Houses inhabited . 
„ „ uninhabited 

„ „ being built 


Police Force 

Metropolitan Police District*. 

District t. 



























City of 
London %, 

















18tA September, 1850. 

lies ftom Charing Cross ; the 
on the S., Epsom ; on the E., 

♦ The Metropolitan Police District comprises a circle, the radius of which is 13 
cstmn* btMindary on ihe N. include* the parish of Chcshunt and South Mimms 
DsKPnham and Crayford ; and on the W., Uxbridee and Staines 

t The inner district includes the parish of St. John, Hampstead, on the N. ; Tooting and Streatham on the S. ; 
Ealing and Brentford on the W. ; and Greenwich on the E. 

The Registrar General's District is equal, or nearly so, to the inner Metropolitan Police District. 

t The City of London is bounded on the S. by the River, on the E. by Whitechapel, on the W. by Chancery 
Lane, and N. by Finsbury. 

The total here given can hardly be considered as 
the dimensions of the metropolis ; though, where 
the capiul begins and ends, it is difficult to say. 
If, however. London be regarded as concentring 
within the Inner Police District, then, adding the 
extent and contents of that district to those of the 
City, as above detailed, we have the subjoined sute- 
ment as to the dimensions and inhabitants of the 
Metropolis Proper. 

Area 92| square miles. 

Parishes .179 

Length of street, roads, &C. 1750 miles. 

Ntmiber of inhabited 1 a^,, roK 
bouses . . ; ^^^'^26 

Ditto uninhabited . 12,255 

!» ' r ' '• . 4657 


But if the extent of even this " inner district " 
be so vast as almost to overpower the mind with 
its magnitude — if its population be greater than 
that of the entire kingdom of Hanover, and almost 
equal to that of the republic of Switzerland — if 
its houses be so numerous that placed side by side 
they would form one continuous line of dwellings 
from its centre to Moscow — if its streets and roads 
be nearly equal in length to one quarter of the 
diameter of the earth itself, — what a task must the 
cleansing of such a bricken wilderness be, and yet, 
assuredly, though it be by far the greatest, it is 
at the same time by far the cleanest city in the 

The removal of tbe refuse of a large town is, 
perhaps, one of the most important of social ope- 
rations. Not only is it necessary for the well- 
heinjr of « xpoi aggregation of people that th.- 




ordure should be removed from both within and 
around their dwellinga as soon as it is generated, 
but nature, ever working in a circle and repro- 
ducing in the same ratio as she destroys, has made 
this same ordure not only the cause of present 
disease when allowed to remain within the city, 
but the means of future health and sustenance 
when removed to the fields. 

In a leading article in the Morning Chronicle, 
written about two years since, I said — 

" That man gets his bones from the rocks and 
his muscles from the atmosphere, is beyond all 
doubt. The iron in his blood and the lime in 
his teeth were originally in the soil. But these 
could not be in his body unless they had pre- 
viously formed part of his food. And yet we can 
neither live on air nor on stones. We cannot 
grow fat upon lime, and iron is positively indi- 
gestible in our stomachs. It is by means of the 
vegetable creation alone that we are enabled to 
convert the mineral into flesh and blood. The 
only apparent use of herbs and plants is to change 
the inorganic earth, air, and water, into organic 
substances fitted for the nutrition of animals. 
The little lichen, which, by means of the oxalic 
acid that it secretes, decomposes the rocks to which 
it clings, and fits their lime for ' assimilation ' with 
higher organisms, is, as it were, but the primitive 
bone-maker of the world. By what subtle trans- 
mutation inorganic nature is changed into organic, 
and dead inert matter quickened with life, is far 
beyond us even to conjecture. Suffice it that an 
express apparatus is required for the process — a 
special mechanism to convert the 'crust of the 
earth,' as it is called, into food for man and beast. 

" Now, in Nature everything moves in a circle 
— perpetually changing, and yet ever returning 
to the point whence it started. Our bodies are 
continually decomposing and recomposiug — indeed, 
the very process of breathing is but one of de- 
composition. As animals live on vegetables, even 
so is the refuse of the animal the vegetable's food. 
The carbonic acid which comes from our lungs, 
and which is poison for us to inhale, is not only 
the vital air of plants, but positively their nutri- 
ment. With the same wondrous economy that 
marks all creation, it has been ordained that what 
is unfitted for the support of the superior organisms, 
is of all substances the best adapted to give 
strength and vigour to the inferior. That which 
we excrete as pollution to our system, they secrete 
as nourishment to theirs. Plants are not only 
Nature's scavengers but Nature's purifiers. They 
remove the filth from the earth, as well as dis- 
infect the atmosphere, and fit it to be breathed by 
a higher order of beings. Without the vegetable 
creation the animal could neither have been nor 
be. Plants not only fitted the earth originally for 
the residence of man and the brute, but to this 
day they continue to render it habitable to us. 
For this end their nature has been made the very 
antithesis to ours. The process by which we live 
is the process by which they are destroyed. That 
which supports rt-spiration in us produces putrefac- 
tion in them. What our lungs throw off, their lungs 
absorb — what our bodies reject, their roots imbibe. } 

" Hence, in order that the balance of waste 
and supply should be maintained— that the prin- 
ciple of universal compensation should be kept up, 
and that what is rejected by us should go to the 
sustenance of plants. Nature has given us several 
instinctive motives to remove our refuse from us. 
She has not only constituted that which we egest 
the most loathsome of all things to our senses and 
imagination, but she has rendered its effluvium 
highly pernicious to our health — sulphuretted 
hydrogen being at once the most deleterious and 
offensive of all gases. Consequently, as in all other 
cases where the great law of Nature has to be 
enforced by special sanctions, a double motive has 
been given us to do that which it is necessary for us 
to do, and thus it has been made not only advan- 
tageous to us to remove our refuse to the fields, 
but positively detrimental to our health, and dis- 
gusting to our senses, to keep it in the neighbour- 
hood of our houses. 

" In every well-regulated State, therefore, an 
effective and rapid means for carrying off the or- 
dure of the people to a locality where it may be 
fruitful instead of destructive, becomes a most im- 
portant consideration. Both the health and the 
wealth of the nation depend upon it. If to make two 
blades of wheat grow where one grew before is to 
confer a benefit on the Avorld, surely to remove 
that which will enable us at once to do this, and 
to purify the very air which we breathe, as well 
as the water which we drink, must be a still greater 
boon to society. It is, in fact, to give the com- 
munity not only a double amount of food, but a 
double amount of health to enjoy it. We are now 
beginning to understand this. Up to the present 
time we have only thought of removing our refuse 
— the idea of using it never entered our minds. 
It was not until science taught us the dependence 
of one order of creation upon another, that we 
began to see that what appeared worse than worth- 
less to us was Nature's capital — wealth set aside 
forfutit,re jprodtictioji." 

In connection with this part of the subject, 
viz., the use of human refuse, I would here draw 
attention to those erroneous notions, as to the 
multiplication of the people, which teach us to 
look upon the increase of the population beyond 
certain limits as the greatest possible evil that can 
befall a communit}'. Population, it is said, mul- 
tiplies itself in a geometrical ratio, whereas the 
produce of the land is increased only in arith- 
metical proportion ; that is to say, while the 
people are augmented after the rate of — 

2 4 8 16 32 64 
the quantity of food for them can be extended 
only in the following degrees : — 

2 4 6 8 10 12 
The cause of this is said to be that, after a certain 
stage in the cultivation of the soil, the increase 
of the produce from land is not in proportion to 
the increase of labour devoted to it ; that is to 
say, doubling the labour does not double the 
crop ; and hence it is asserted that the human 
race increasing at a quicker rate than the food, 
insufficient sustenance must be the necessary lot 



of a portion of the people in every densely-popu- 
lated community. 

That men of intelligence and education should 
have been persuaded by so plausible a doctrine at 
the time of its first promulgation may be readily 
conceived, for then the notions concerning organic 
chemistry were vague in the extreme, and the 
great universal law of Waste and Supply remained 
to be fully developed ; but that men pretending 
to the least scientific knowledge should in these 
days be found advocating the Population Theory 
is only another of the many proofs of the indispo- 
sition of even the strongest minds to abandon 
their pet prejudices. Assuredly Malthus and 
Liebig are incompatible. If the new notions as 
to the chemistry of vegetation be true, then must 
the old notions as to population be utterly un- 
founded. If what we excrete plants secrete — if 
what we exhale they inspire — if our refuse is their 
food — then it follows that to increase the population 
is to increase the quantity of manure, while to in- 
crease the manure is to augment the food of plants, 
and consequently the plants themselves. If the 
plants nourish us, we at least nourish them. It 
seems never to have occurred to the economists 
that plants themselves required sustenance, and 
consequently they never troubled themselves to 
inquire whence they derived the elements of their 
growth. Had they done this they would never have 
even expected that a double quantity of mere 
labour upon the soil should have doubled the pro- 
duce ; but they would rather have seen that it was 
utterly impossible for the produce to be doubled 
without the food in the soil being doubled like- 
wise ; that is to say, they would have perceived 
that plants could not, whatever the labour exerted 
upon their cultivation, extract the elements of 
their organization from the earth and air, unless 
those elements previously existed in the land and 
atmosphere in which they grew, and that such 
elements, moreover, could not exist there without 
some organic being to egest them. 

This doctrine of the universal Compensation 
extending throughout the material world, and 
more especially through the animal and vegetable 
kingdom, is, perhaps, one of the grandest and 
most consoling that science has yet