London Labour and the London Poor
A Cyclopædia of the Condition and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, and Those That Will Not Work.
By Henry Mayhew.
London: Griffin, Bohn, and Company, Stationers' Hall Court. 1862.
[digitised copy kindly provided by Les Butler, ed.]
[... back to index]
The Dependants Of Prostitutes
HAVING described the habits, &c., of different classes of prostitutes, I now come to those who are intimately connected with, and dependant upon, them. This is a very numerous class, and includes "Bawds," or those who keep brothels, the followers of dress lodgers, keepers of accommodation houses, procuresses, pimps, and panders, fancy men, and bullies.
BawdsThe first head in our classification is "Bawds." They may be either men or women. More frequently they are the latter, though any one who keeps an immoral house, or bawdy-house, as it is more commonly called, is liable to that designation. Bawdy-houses are of two kinds. They may be either houses of accommodation, or houses in which women lodge, are boarded, clothed, &c., and the proceeds of whose prostitution goes into the pocket of the bawd herself, who makes a very handsome income generally by their shame.
Followers Of Dress Lodgers
I have spoken before of dress lodgers,
and I now come to those women who are employed by the keepers of the brothels in
which the dresslodgers live, to follow them when they are sent into the streets
to pick up men. They are not numerous. They are only seen in the Strand and
about the National Gallery. This species of vice is much magnified by people who
have vivid imaginations. It might have assumed larger dimensions, but at the
present time it has very much decreased. They follow the dress-lodgers for
various reasons, which I have mentioned already. For the sake of perspicuity and
putting things in their proper sequence, I may be excused for briefly
recapitulating them. If they were not closely watched, they might, imprimis,
make their escape with all the finery they have about them, which of course they
would speedily dispose of for its market value to the highest-bidding Jew, and
then take lodgings and set up on their own account. These unfortunate
dress-lodgers are profoundly ignorant of the English law. If they were better
acquainted with its provisions, they would know very well that the bawds would
have no legal claim against them for money, board, or clothes, for if the bawds
could prove any consideration, it would be an immoral one, and consequently bad
in law. But the poor creatures think they are completely in the wretch's power,
and dare not move hand or foot, or call their hair their own. Instances have
been known of bawds cutting off the hair of their lodgers when it became long,
and selling it if it was fine and beautiful for thirty shillings and two pounds.
There is a dress-lodger who perambulates the Strand every night, from nine, or before that even, till twelve or one, who is followed by the inseparable old hag who keeps guard over her to prevent her going into public-houses and wasting her time and money, which is the second reason for her being watched, and to see that she does not give her custom to some other bawdy-house, which is the third reason.
This follower is a woman of fifty, with grey hair, and all the peculiarities of old women, among which is included a fondness for gin, which weakness was mainly instrumental in enabling me to obtain from her what I know about herself and her class. She wore no crinoline, and a dirty cotton dress. Her bonnet was made of straw, with a bit of faded ribbon over it by way of trimming, fully as shabby and discreditable as the straw itself. She told me by fits and starts, and by dint of cross questioning, the subjoined particulars.
They call me 'Old Stock;' why I shan't tell you, though I might easy, and make you laugh too, without telling no lies; but it ain't no matter of your'n, so we'll let it be. They do say I'm a bit cracky, but that's all my eye. I'm a drunken old b---- if you like, but nothing worser than that. I was once the swellest woman about town, but I'm come down awful. And yet it ain't awful. I sometimes tries to think it is, but I can't make it so. If I did think it awful I shouldn't be here now; I couldn't stand it. But the fact is life's sweet, and I don't care how you live. It's as sweet to the w----, as it is to the hempress, and mebbe it's as sweet to me as it is to you. Yes, I was well known about some years ago, and I ain't got bad features now, if it wasn't for the wrinkles and the skin, which is more parchmenty than anything else, but that's all along of the drink. I get nothing in money for following this girl about, barring a shilling or so when I ask for it to get some liquor. They give me my grub and a bed, in return for which in the day-time I looks after the house, when I ain't drunk, and sweeps, and does the place up, and all that. Time was when I had a house of my own, and lots of servants, and heaps of men sighing and dying for me, but now my good looks are gone, and I am what you see me. Many of the finest women, if they have strong constitutions, and can survive the continual racket, and the wear and tear of knocking about town, go on like fools without making any provision for themselves, and without marrying, until they come to the bad. They are either servants, or what I am, or if they get a little money given them by men, they set up as bawdyhouse keepers. I wish to God I had, but I don't feel what I am. I'm past that ever so long, and if you give me half a crown, or five bob, presently, you'll make me jolly for a week. Talking of giving a woman five bob reminds me of having fivers (5l. notes) given me. I can remember the time when I would take nothing but paper; always tissue, nothing under a flimsy. Ah! gay women see strange changes; wonderful ups and downs, I can tell you. We, that is me and Lizzie, the girl I'm watching, came out to night at nine. It's twelve now, ain't it? Well; what do ye think we've done? We have taken three men home, and Lizzie, who is a clever little devil, got two pound five out of them for herself, which ain't bad at all. I shall get something when we get back. We ain't always so lucky. Some nights we go about and don't hook a soul. Lizzie paints a bit too much for decent young fellows who've got lots of money. They aren't our little game. We go in more for tradesmen, shopboys, commercial travellers, and that sort, and men who are a little screwy, and although we musn't mention it, we hooks a white choker now and then, coming from Exeter Hall. Medical students are sometimes sweet on Lizzie, but we ain't in much favour with the Bar. Oh! I know what a man is directly he opens his mouth. Dress too has a great deal to do with what a man is - tells you his position in life as it were. 'Meds' ain't good for much; they're larky young blokes, but they've never much money, and they're fond of dollymopping. But talk of dollymopping - lawyers are the fellows for that. Those chambers in the Inns of Court are the ruin of many a girl. And they are so convenient for bilking, you've no idea. There isn't a good woman in London who'd go with a man to the Temple, not one. You go to Kate's, and take a woman out, put her in a cab, and say you were going to take her to either of the Temples, which are respectable and decent places when compared to the other inns which are not properly Inns of Conrt, except Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn, and she'd cry off directly. I mean Barnard's Inn, and Thavies' Inn, and New Inn, and Clement's Inn, and all those. I've been at this sort of work for six or seven years, and I suppose I'll die at it. I don't care if I do. It suits me. I'm good for nothing else.
I gave her some money in return for her story, and wished her good night. What she says about women who have once been what is called "swell," coming down to the sort of thing I have been describing, is perfectly true. They have most of them been well-known and much admired in their time; but every dog has its day. They have had theirs, and neglected to make hay while the sun was shining. Almost all the servants of bawds and prostitutes have fallen as it were from their high estate into the slough of degradation and comparative despair.
As I have before stated, there are very few dress-lodgers now who solicit in the streets, and naturally few followers of dresslodgers whose condition does not afford anything very striking or peculiar, except as evidencing the vicissitudes of a prostitute's career, and the end that very many of them arrive at.
Keepers Of Accommodation Houses
Those who gain their living by keeping
accommodation houses, or what the French call maisons de passé, are of course
to be placed in the category of the people who are dependant on prostitutes,
without whose patronage they would lose their only means of support.
When you speak of bawds you in a great measure describe this class also, for their avocations are the same, and the system they exist upon very similar. The bawds keep women in their houses, and the others let out their rooms to chance comers, and any one who chooses to take them. The keepers are generally worn-out prostitutes, who have survived their good looks and settled down, as a means of gaining a livelihood; in Oxenden Street and similar places an enormous amount of money is made by these people. The usual charge for rooms of course varies according to the height and the size of the room engaged. A first-floor room is worth seven or ten shillings, then the rooms on the second floor are five shillings, and three shillings, and so on. The average gains of keepers of accommodation houses in Oxenden Street and James Street, Haymarket, are from two pounds to ten pounds a night; the amount depending a good deal on the popularity of the house, its connection with women, its notoriety amongst men, and its situation. More money is made by bawdy-house keepers, but then the expenses are greater. A story is told of a celebrated woman who kept a house of illfame in the neighbourhood of May Fair. The several inmates of her establishment were dilatory on one occasion, and she gave vent to her anger and disappointment by exclaiming, "Twelve o'clock striking. The house full of noblemen, and not a---- girl painted yet." I introduce this anecdote merely to exemplify what I have been advancing, namely, that the best brothels in London, such as Mrs. C--'s in Curzon Street, and others that I could mention, are frequented by men who have plenty of money at their command, and spend it freely.
A Mrs. J--, who kept a house in James Street, Haymarket, where temporary accommodation could be obtained by girls and their paramours, made a very large sum of money by her house, and some time ago bought a house somewhere near Camberwell with her five-shilling pieces which she had the questionable taste to call "Dollar House." A woman who kept a house in one of the small streets near the Marylebone Road told me she could afford to let her rooms to her customers for eighteen pence for a short time, and three and sixpence for all night, and she declared she made money by it, as she had a good many of the low New Road women, and some of those who infest the Edgware Road, as well as several servants and dress-makers, who came with their associates. She added, she was saving up money to buy the house from her landlord, who at present charged her an exorbitant rent, as he well knew she could not now resist his extortionate demands. If he refused to sell it, she should go lower down in the same street, for she was determined before long to be independent.
When we come to touch upon clandestine prostitution we shall have occasion to condemn these houses in no measured terms, for they offer very great facilities for the illicit intercourse of the not yet completely depraved portion of the sexes, such as sempstresses, milliners, servant girls, etc,, etc., who only prostitute themselves occasionally to men they are well acquainted with, for whom they may have some sort of a partiality - women who do not lower themselves in the social scale for money, but for their own gratification. They become, however, too frequently insensibly depraved, and go on from bad to worse, till nothing but the pavé is before them. The ruin of many girls is commenced by reading the low trashy wishy-washy cheap publications that the news-shops are now gorged with, and by devouring the hastily-written, immoral, stereotyped tales about the sensualities of the upper classes, the lust of the aristocracy, and the affection that men about town - noble lords, illustrious dukes, and even princes of the blood - are in the habit of imbibing for maidens of low degree "whose face is their fortune," shop girls - dressmakers - very often dressmakers and the rest of the tribe who may perhaps feel flattered by reading about absurd impossibilities that their untutored and romantic imaginations suggest may, during the course of a life of adventure, happen to themselves. Well, they wait day after day, and year after year for the duke or the prince of the blood, perfectly ready to surrender their virtue when it is asked for, until they open their eyes, regard the duke and the prince of the blood as apocryphal or engaged to somebody else more fortunate than themselves, and begin to look a little lower, and favourably receive the immodest addresses of a counter-jumper, or a city clerk, or failing those a ruffianly pot-boy may realize their dreams of the ideal; at all events, they are already demoralized by the trash that has corrupted their minds, and perfectly willing at the first solicitation to put money into the pockets of the keepers of accommodation houses.
Procuresses, Pimps, and Panders
Procuresses are women who in most cases
possess houses of their own, where they procure girls for men who employ them.
These establishments are called "Introducing Houses," and are
extremely lucrative to the proprietors. There are also men who go about for
these people, finding out girls, and bringing them to the houses, where they may
meet with men. The procuresses who keep introducing houses often take in women
to lodge and board. But they are quite independent, and must be well known about
town, and kept by some one, or the procuress, if she is, comparatively speaking,
in any position, will not receive them.
To show how the matter is accomplished let us suppose an introducing house of notoriety and good report in its way, somewhere in the nighbourhood of St. George's Road, Pimlico, a district which, I may observe, is prolific in loose women. A well-known professional man, a wealthy merchant, an M.P., or a rich landed proprietor, calls upon the lady of the house, orders some champagne, and enters into conversation about indifferent matters, until he is able delicately to broach the object he has in view. He explains that he wishes to meet with a quiet lady whose secrecy he can rely upon, and whom he can trust in every possible way. He would like her, we will imagine, to be vivacious, witty, and gay.
The lady of the house listens complacently, and replies that she knows some one who exactly answers the description the amorous M.P. has given, and says that she will send a message to her at once if he wishes, but he must take his chance of her being at home; if she is out, an appointment will be made for the next day. In the mean time a messenger is despatched to the lady in question, who in all probability does not reside at any great distance; perhaps in Stanley Street, or Winchester Street, which streets everybody knows are contiguous to St. George's Road, and inhabited by beauty that ridicules decorum and laughs at the virtuous restrictions that are highly conducive to a state of single blessedness and a condition of old-maidism. Some more champagne is ordered and consumed, every bottle of which costs the consumer fifteen shillings, making a profit to the vendor of at least seventy per cent. When the lady arrives, the introduction takes place, and the matter is finally arranged as far as the introducer is concerned. The woman so introduced generally gives half the money she obtains from the man to the keeper of the house for the introduction.
Sometimes these women will write to men who occupy a high position in society, who are well-known at the clubs, and are reputed to be well off, saying that they have a new importation in their houses from the country that may be disposed of for a pecuniary consideration of perhaps fifty or a hundred pounds. This amount of course is readily paid by men who are in search of artificial excitement, and the negotiation is concluded without any difficulty. A woman is usually seduced five or six times. By that I mean she is represented as a maid, and imposed upon men as a virgin, which fabrication, as it is difficult to disprove, is believed, more especially if the girl herself be well instructed, and knows how to carry out the fraud. The Burlington Arcade is a well-known resort of women on the long winter afternoons, when all the men in London walk there before dinner.
It is curious to notice how the places of meeting and appointment have sprung up and increased within the last few years. Not many years ago Kate Hamilton, if I am not misinformed, was knocking about town. Lizzie Davis's has only been open a year or two. Barns's very recently established, and the Oxford and Cambridge last season. The Café Riche three years ago used to be called Bignell's Café. Sams's I believe is the oldest of the night-houses about the Haymarket. The Café Royal, or Kate's, is the largest and the most frequented, but is not now so select as it used formerly to be. Mott's, or the Portland Rooms, used to be the most fashionable dancing place in London, and is now in very good repute. Formerly only men in evening dress were admitted; now this distinction is abolished, and every one indiscriminately admitted. This is beginning to have its effect, and in all likelihood Mott's will in a short time lose its prestige. It is always so with places of this description. Some peculiarity about the house, or some clever and notorious woman, presiding over its destinies, makes it famous; when these vanish or subside, then the place goes down gradually, and some other rival establishment takes its place.
Loose women, as I have before asserted, very often marry, and sometimes, as often as not, marry well. The other day one of the most well-known women about town, Mrs. S--, was married to a German count; a few weeks ago Agnes W-- married a member of an old Norfolk family, who settled three thousand a year upon her. This case will most likely come before the public, as the family, questioning his sanity, mean to take out a writ of de lunatico inquirendo, when the facts will be elicited by counsel in a court of law. Indeed, so little was the gentleman himself satisfied with the match that a week after marriage he advertised his wife in the newspapers, saying he would not be held responsible for her further debts. These out of many others. A frequenter of the night-houses will notice many changes in the course of the year, although some well-known face will turn up now and then. The habitué may miss the accustomed laugh and unabashed impudence of the "nun," who always appeared so fascinating and piquante in her little "Jane Clarke" bonnet, and demure black silk dress. The "nun" may be far away with her regiment in Ireland, or some remote part of England; for be it known that ladies are attached to the service as well as men, and the cavalry rejoices more than the line in the softening influences of feminine society. Amongst the little scandals of the night, it may be rumoured within the sacred precincts of the Café Royal by "Suppers" of the Admiralty, who has obtained that soubriquet by his known unwillingness to stand these midnight banquets, that the "Baby" was seen at the Holborn with a heightened colour, rather the production of art than nature; ergo, the "Baby" is falling off, which remark it is fortunate for "Suppers" the Baby does not overhear. Billy Valentine, of her Majesty's "horse and saddle" department of the Home Office, as is his usual custom, may be seen at Coney's, exchanging a little quiet chaff with "Poodle," whose hair is more crimped than ever, while the "Poodle" is dexterously extracting a bottle of Moselle out of him for the benefit of the establishment. There is a woman of very mature age who goes about from one nighthouse to another with her betting book in her hand, perhaps "cadging" for men. Then there is Madame S. S.--, who plays the piano in different places, and Dirty Dick, who is always in a state of intoxication; but who, as he spends his money freely, is never objected to. But the night-houses are carrying me away from my subject.
Pimps are frequently spoken of, and pimping is a word very generally used, but I doubt very much whether many of them exist, at least of the male gender. The women do most of the pimping that is requisite to carry on the amours of London society, and pander is a word that merges into the other, losing any distinctive significancy that it may possess for the eyes of a lexicographer. A woman when she introduces a man to a woman is literally pimping for him, or what I have said about keepers of introducing houses must apply generally to the panders and the pimps. I may add a story I heard of a bully attached to a brothel, who on one occasion acting as a pimp, went into the streets to pick up a woman who was required for the purposes of the establishment. He went some way without success, and at last met a "wandering beauty of the night," whom he solicited; she yielded to his entreaties, and followed him to his brothel. When they reached the light in the passage she raised her veil, when he was as horrified as a man in his position and with his feelings could be to perceive that he had brought his own sister to an immoral house: he had not seen her for some years. His profligacy had killed his father, had brought him to his present degraded position, and in a great measure occasioned his sister's fall and way of living.
Ex uno - the proverb says - a lesson may be taught a great many.
Fancy-men are an extremely peculiar
class, and are highly interesting to those who take an interest in prostitutes
and their associates. They are - that is the best of them - tolerably
well-dressed and well-looking, and sufficiently gentlemanly for women to like to
be seen about with them. I am now speaking of those who cohabit with the best
women about town.
Parent Duchatelet discourses at some length on this subject, and treats it with great perspicuity and succinctness. He asserts that it is a common thing for many law students and medical students to be kept, or semi-supported, by loose women in Paris. This is a state of things that I need hardly say is never observed in England. Yet there is a class who throw all their self-respect into the background, and allow themselves to be partially maintained by loose women who have imbibed a partiality for them. They frequent the nighthouses in Panton Street, and often hook gentlemen out of several sovereigns, or by tossing them for champagne make them pay for several bottles in the course of the evening. By this it may be readily understood that they are in league with the proprietor of the establishment; and that this is undeniably the case in one instance I will unhesitatingly declare. It may be so in others, but I am not prepared to say so. I need not mention the name of the house for obvious reasons, but any one who has the slightest knowledge of the subject will be obliged, if he values his veracity, to corroborate my statement. The best, or the aristocracy of fancy-men, are for the most part on the turf. They bet when they have money to bet with, and when they have not they endeavour, without scruple, to procure it from their mistresses, who never hesitate a moment in giving it them if they have it, or procuring it for them by some means, however degrading such means may be. A fancy-man connected with a prostitute who is acquainted with a good set of men will, as the evening advances, be seen in one of the night-houses in Panton Street. His woman will come in perhaps about one o'clock, accompanied by one or two men. Whilst they are talking and drinking he will come up and speak to the woman, as if she was an old flame of his, and she will treat him in the same manner, though more as a casual acquaintance. In the course of time he will get into conversation with her men, and they, taking him for a gentleman, will talk to him in a friendly manner. After a while he will propose to toss them for a bottle of champagne or a Moselle cup. Then the swindling begins. The fancy-man has an infallible recipe for winning. He has in his hand a cover for the half-crown he tosses with, which enables him to win, however the piece falls. It is a sort of "heads I win, tails you lose," a principle with which schoolboys of a speculative disposition bother their friends. Sometimes the proprietor of the house will come up and begin to talk to them, ask them to step upstairs to have supper, and get them into a room where the victim may be legged more quietly, and more at their leisure. The proprietor then says that he must in his turn "stand" a bottle of champagne, but the fancy-man, pretending to be indignant, interposes, and exclaims, "No, let's toss;" so they toss. The fancy-man loses the toss, pays the proprietor at once with money, with which he has been previously supplied, and the man is more completely gulled than ever. He may be some man in the service up in town on leave for a short while, and determined as long as he stays to go in for some fun, no doubt well supplied with money, and careless how he spends it. He would be very irate if he discovered how he was being robbed, and in all likelihood smash the place up, and the fancy-man into the bargain, for people are not very scrupulous as to what they do in the night-houses. But the affair is managed so skillfully that he loses his four or five pounds at tossing or at some game or other with equanimity, and without a murmur, for he thinks it is his luck which happens to be adverse, and never dreams for one instant that his adversary is not playing on the "square." The rows that take place in the night-houses never find their way into the papers. It isn't the "little game" of the proprietors to allow them, and the police, if they are called in, are too well bribed to take any further notice, without they are particularly requested. I was told of a disturbance that took place in one of the night-houses in Panton Street, not more than a year ago, which for brutality and savage ferocity I should think could not be equalled by a scalping party of North American Red Indians.
Two gentlemen had adjourned there after the theatre, and were quietly drinking some brandy and soda when a woman, with a very large crinoline, came in and went up to one of them, whom we will call A. She asked him for something to drink, and he, perceiving she was very drunk already, chaffed her a little. Angry at his persiflage, she leant over and seized his glass, which she threw into a corner of the room, smashing it to atoms, and spilling its contents. While doing so her crinoline flew into the air, and A. put out his hand to keep it down. She immediately began to slang him and abuse him immoderately, declaring that he attempted to take indecent liberties with her, and attempting finally to strike him he good-humouredly held her hands; but she got more furious every moment, and at last he had to push her down rather violently into a chair. A man who was sitting at an opposite table commented upon this in an audible and offensive manner, which excessively annoyed A., who however at first took no notice of his conduct. Presently he handed the woman over to one of the waiters, who with some difficulty turned her out. Then the man who had before spoken said, "D--d plucky thing, by Jove, to strike a woman." A. made some reply to this, and the other man got up, when A. flew at him and knocked him down. Two waiters ran up and seized A. by either arm, when the man got up from his recumbent position and struck A., while he was being retained by the waiters, a tremendous blow in the face, which speedily covered him with blood. A., exerting all his strength, liberated himself, and rushed at the coward, knocking him over a table, jumping over after him, seizing his head and knocking it against the floor in a frightful manner. The door porters were then called in, and A. with great difficulty turned out. A.'s friend had been waiting his opportunity, which had not yet come. When A. was at the door the man he had knocked down raised himself up. A.'s friend seized him by the collar and by one of his legs, and threw him with all his force along the table, which was covered with glass. The velocity with which he was thrown drove everything before him until he fell down on the top of the broken glass in a corner stunned and bleeding. His assailant then put his head down and charged like a battering-ram through the opposing throng, throwing them right and left, till he joined his friend in the street.
Many low betting-men are partially kept by prostitutes - men who frequent Bride Lane and similar places, who, when out of luck, fall back upon their women. Many thieves, too, are fancy-men, and almost all the ruffians who go about "picking up," as the police call it, which I have explained before to be a species of highway robbery. The prostitute goes up to a man, and while she is talking to him the ruffians come up and plunder him. If the victim is drunk so much the better. Most low prostitutes have their fancy-men, such as waiters at taverns, labourers - loose characters, half thieves half loafers. It is strange that such baseness should find a place in a man, but experience proves what I have said to be true; and there are numbers of men in the metropolis who think nothing of being kept by a prostitute on the proceeds of her shame and her disgrace.
Bullies are men attached to brothels and
bawdy-houses; but this remark must not be understood to apply to houses of a
superior description, for it would not pay them to extort money from their
customers, as they have a character and a reputation to support.
The bullies attached to low bawdy-houses are ostensibly kept to perform the functions of door-keepers, but in reality to prevent men from going away without paying enough money; they are in many cases a necessary precaution against "bilking," or going away without paying anything. If a well-dressed man went into an immoral house in Spitalfields, Whitechapel, or Shadwell, he would assuredly be robbed, but not maltreated to any greater extent than was absolutely requisite to obtain his money, and other valuables he might chance to have about him, at the time the depredation was committed.
A man a little tipsy once found himself, he hardly knew how, on the transpontine side of Waterloo Bridge, not far from Stamford Street. It was past twelve, and on being accosted by a woman, he half unconsciously followed her to her rooms in Stamford Street, which were situated about half-way down, near Duke Street, Blackfriars. When upstairs he sent the servant out for some brandy and soda-water, and not having enough silver gave her half a sovereign for that purpose, telling her to bring him the change. She soon returned with a bottle of brandy, which she said cost eight shillings, and two bottles of sodawater, and keeping one shilling for herself, told him she had no change to give him: he put up with this extortion, for he was too tipsy to make any resistance. The time passed quickly, and he spent two or three hours in her society, until the soda-water somewhat sobered him, when he put on his hat and declared his intention of going away. The woman sprang up to stop him, and placed her back against the door, meantime calling some one with all her might. Being a strong powerful man, he seized her by the arm and flung her on a sofa. Opening the door, he heard some one rapidly coming up stairs; he rushed back to the room and laid hold of a chair, which he threw at the advancing figure; it missed it, but had the effect of causing it to retreat. Chair after chair followed until the room was nearly denuded of its furniture, the woman being all the time too frightened to take any part in the affray. The man next took the poker in one hand the lamp in the other, and began to descend the stairs, which he did with some difficulty, as the chairs rather impeded his progress. He had no doubt his adversary was waiting for him at the bottom, and it was evident that it was there the real struggle would take place. He descended very cautiously until he was very near the end of the stairs, when he saw a tall strongly-built man awaiting him with a bludgeon in his hand. The gentleman carefully, in the short space he had, reconnoitred the exit to the street by throwing the light of the lamp full into the passage. The bully finding he was discovered began to curse and make demonstrations of hostility, but remained where he was, as he was possessed of the best position. The gentleman when he was within three or four steps of the ground, hurled the lamp with all his force at the bully, striking him on the forehead. The lamp was smashed to atoms, and everything directly plunged in darkness. After this he ran in the direction of the door, but he found the chain up: while he was unfastening this as well as he could in the dark, he heard his antagonist picking himself up and muttering threats of vengeance. In a moment or two he began to grope his way towards the door, but fortunately the gentleman had succeeded in undoing the chain, and flinging the door wide open, he emerged into the street and began to run in the direction of the Waterloo Road as fast as he could. He made his escape; but if he had not had presence of mind, and been strong and powerful enough to fight with the bully, the result might have been very different.
A man who would be a bully at a bawdy- house would stick at nothing. During the daytime they either sleep or lounge about smoking a short pipe, or go to the pawnshops for the women, or else to the public for gin.
The men who used to keep the Cocoa Tree in St. James's Street were two brothers, who, when they were young, held a position of no great importance in their mother's house, which was nothing more than a house of ill fame. They might have degenerated into something of the same sort, but they had a certain amount of talent and opportunities, and once being possessed of this gambling house, which was famous enough in its day, they made money quickly enough.
It is not men though, who have been amongst these scenes when they are young, who take to this sort of life. It is generally returned convicts or gaol birds, who look upon themselves as victims, and get desperate, and do not care very much what they do as long as they can have an easy time of it and enough to eat and drink.
Sometimes, if they watch their opportunity, they may become proprietors of bawdy-houses themselves. Great events spring from little causes; and good management and a good locality will always make a bawdy-house remunerative; but bullies generally have no energy, and are wanting in administrative capability, and more often than not die of disease and excess in the gutter.
The Argyle Rooms were once a small public-house called the "Hall of Rome," where tableaux vivants and poses plastiques found a home and an audience; but energy and a combination of causes have made it the first casino in London.
A bully in a house in one of the streets near the Haymarket, who was loafing about a public-house, told me in return for some spirits I paid for, that he was a ticket of leave man - "he didn't mind saying it, why should he? he'd got his ticket-of-leave, he had, and he'd show it me in two twos.
When he comed back from Norfolk Island, which he'd been sent to for a term of seven years, he knew no one in town, his pals mostly was lagged by police, and his most hintimit friend was hanged by mistake at the Old Bailey - he knew it was by mistake, as his friend was hincapable of such an act without he was riled extraordinary. Well, he took to the bullying dodge, which paid. He couldn't work, it wornt in his natur, and he took to bullying, kindly - it suited him, it just did, and that was all about it.
The bullies are the lowest ruffians going, and will not mind doing any act of iniquity, although they stand in great dread of the police, and generally manage matters so as to keep out of their clutches.