Victorian London - Crime - Prostitution - London Labour and the London Poor - Criminal Returns

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]

Criminal Returns


     IT is very interesting to philanthropists and people who take an interest in seeing human nature improved, and to those who wish to see crime decrease, to notice the fluctuations of crime, its increase, its decrease, or its being stationary, especially among different classes.
     Through the kindness of Sir Richard Mayne, and the obliging courtesy of Mr. Yardley, of the Metropolitan Police-Office, Whitehall, I am enabled to show the number of disorderly prostitutes taken into custody during the years 1850 to 1860. Mr. Yardley supplied me with the criminal returns of the Metropolitan Police for the last ten years, from which I have extracted much valuable and interesting information, besides what I have just mentioned.

NUMBER of DISORDERLY PROSTITUTES taken into Custody during the years 1850 to 1860, and their Trades

1850

2,502

1851

2,573

1852

3,750

1853

3,386

1854

3,764

1855

3,592

1856

4,303

1857

5,178

1858

4,890

1859

4,282

1860

3,734


     After some search I have been enabled to give the trades and occupations of those women.

74

were

     Hatters and trimmers.

418

     Laundresses

646

     Milliners, &c

400

     Servants

249

     Shoemakers

58

     Artificial flower-makers

215

     Tailors

33

     Brushmakers

42

     Bookbinders

8

     Corkcutters

7

     Dyers

2

     Fishmongers

8

     General and marine-store dealers

24

     Glovers

18

     Weavers.
     

The remainder described themselves as having no trade or occupation.
     In ten years then 41,954 disorderly women, who had given themselves up to prostitution, either for their own gratification, because they were seduced, or to gain a livelihood, were arrested by the police. The word disorderly is vague, but I should think it is susceptible of various significations. In one case it may mean drunkenness, in another assaulting the police, in others an offence of a felonious nature may be intended, while in a fourth we may understand a simple misdemeanour, all subjecting the offender, let it be borne in mind, to a fine or incarceration.
     Now, 41,954 is an enormous total for ten years. In an unreflective mood I should be inclined to say that prostitutes, taken collectively, were most abandoned, reckless, and wicked; but it is apparent, after a minute's study, that they must not be taken collectively. This forty odd thousand should be understood to represent, for the most part, the very dregs, the lowest, most unthinking, and vilest of the class.
     We must look for them in the East, in Whitechapel, in Wapping, in transpontine dens and holes, amongst sailors' and soldiers' women. In the Haymarket there is not much drunkenness, and the police are seldom interfered with. If a man, with whom a woman is walking, is drunk, and makes an assault upon the police, the woman will content herself with the innocent, and comparatively harmless amusement of knocking off the policeman's hat, afterwards propelling it gracefull with her foot along the pavement. This pastime is of rather frequent occurrence in nocturnal street rows, and always succeeds in infusing a little comic element into the affray. Amongst the disorderly women of loose habits we see that milliners largely preponderate; 646 in ten years, who have broken the laws in some way, enables us to form, by comparison, a vague idea of the number of milliners, dressmakers, &c., who resort to prostitution; for if so many were disorderly, the number of well-behaved ones must be very large.
     Another curious item is laundresses, of whom there were 418 in the hands of the police. Either the influence of their trade is demoralizing in the extreme; or they are underpaid, or else there are large numbers of them; I incline to the latter supposition.
     That there should have been only 400 servants is rather a matter of surprise than otherwise, for they are exposed to great temptations, and form a very numerous body.
     In our next statistics we are able to be more precise than in the former ones. Peculiar facilities are afforded prostitutes for committing larcenies from the person, and there are annually some hundreds taken into custody, and some few convicted. Only the other day I was passing through Wych Street, on my way from New Inn with a friend, and it so happened that we were instrumental in protecting a gentleman from the rapacity of some men and women of infamous character, by whom he had been entrapped.
     In Wych Street there are five or six houses, contiguous to one another, that are nothing more or less than the commonest brothels. The keepers of these places do not in the least endeavour to conceal the fact of their odious occupation; at almost all hours of the day, and till twelve o'clock at night one may perceive the women standing at their doorways in an undress costume, lascivious and meretricious in its nature. Although they do not actually solicit the passer-by with words, they do with looks and gestures.
     It might have been a little after twelve o'clock, when, as I was passing one of these houses, a gentleman, with his coat off, and without his hat, rushed out of the doorway and ran up the street. He held a small clasp-knife in his hand, which from his manner I guessed he would not hesitate to use if hard pressed. He was in an instant followed by a pack of men and women, perhaps four or five of each sex, in full cry. They were nearing him, when he turned suddenly round and doubled upon them, which manœuvre brought him in my direction. I saw, when near enough, that he was intoxicated. Directly he perceived me he implored my protection, saying, "For God's sake keep those fellows off." The noise attracted the attention of a policeman at the end of the street, who came up to see what the origin of the disturbance was, and the crowd fell back at his appearance.
     The gentleman said he went into one of the houses to get a cigar, when he was set upon by some women, who attempted to rob him. Although drunk he was able to put his hand in his pocket and take out a small clasp-knife he always carried about with him. He brandished this in their faces, when some bullies descended from the upper regions, and the victim fortunately effected his escape into the street.
     This man might have been robbed and subsequently drugged, without much fear of discovery, for the subjoined statistics will prove that such outrages are of frequent occurrence in the metropolis.

LARCENIES from the PERSON by Prostitutes, during the years 1850 to 1860

Year

Larcenies

Convicted

Total loss

1850

684

116

£ 1,814

1851

640

98

1,890

1852

639

97

2,095

1853

605

112

1,578

1854

607

119

2,019

1855

688

96

3,017

1856

780

94

2,668

1857

854

79

2,928

1858

777

39

2,370

1859

681

93

1,743

1860

692

39

1,936


     The first thing that strikes us in looking at these figures is the small amount of convictions that followed arrest. For instance in 1850 out of 684 arrested only 116 were convicted. Yet we must not forget the difficulty of proving a charge of this description, and the unwillingness of men to prosecute. It is only natural that a man should have a repugnance to appear in public and mix himself up in a disgraceful affair of this sort. Any one who cared for his character and reputation would at once refuse, and in this repugnance we must look for the cause of the escape of so many offenders.
     Whenever an occurrence of this sort takes place in a brothel, one would imagine the police would have some grounds for prosecuting the keeper for harbouring thieves and persons who habitually break the public peace, but the criminal returns of the metropolitan police, from which we have before quoted, do not give one reason to think so.
     Let us examine the number of arrests for keeping common brothels, during the last ten years.

NUMBER of PERSONS taken into custody for keeping Common Brothels, during the years 1850 to 1860

Year

Females

Males

Total

1850

4

4

8

1851

12

5

17

1852

4

6

10

1853

9

3

12

1854

none

-

-

1855

6

4

10

1856

12

7

19

1857

6

8

14

1858

10

8

18

1859

9

9

18

1860

12

5

17

Total

 

 

143


     The largest number (19) was in 1856, while in 1854 there were none at all. But we have already drawn attention to the difficulty the police have in dealing with these cases.
     Of those arrested:

1

was a


     clerk

1

     sailor

13

were

     servants

3

     tailors

1

was a

     printer

1

was a

     sawyer

1

     interpreter

1

     cabinet-maker

1

     brass-founder

1

     green-grocer

1

     butcher

2

were

     milliners

3

     laundresses

9

     labourers

2

     smiths

6

     carpenters

3

general and marine store dealers

1

was a

     carver and gilder

4

were

     shoemakers

2

     watch-makers

2

     painters

3

     bricklayers

The rest were of no trade or occupation, and depended for a livelihood solely upon this disgraceful means of subsistence.
     It is odd to see butchers, printers, tailors, carpenters, brass-founders, interpreters, bricklayers, and cabinet-makers combining this with their own legitimate trades, and if this is a common thing among the trades, how wide-spread the evil must be, for we have only an average of about 12 arrests annually, and this very small amount, with the perhaps light punishment awarded the offender by the sitting magistrate, or if committed by the judge, is evidently purely insufficient and ineffectual to act as a deterrent to others holding the same demoralizing views, and practising the same odious profession.
     A few pages back, while commenting upon crime amongst bawds and prostitutes, we took the liberty of criticising some remarks of Dr. Ryan‘s about the prevalence of murder in immoral houses. The best proof presumptive he could have adduced in support of his theory he utterly neglected to bring forward. I mean the returns of the metropolitan police of the number of persons reported to them annually as missing.
     This return, so enormous, so mysterious, so startling, is certainly very alarming before it is analysed. But when with the eye of reflection we calmly and dispassionately look at it, our alarm diminishes as rapidly as it was excited.

NUMBER of PERSONS reported to the Police as lost or missing, and the number found and restored by the Police, during the years 1841 to 1860

Year

Reported lost or Missing

Restored by the Police

1841

1,000

560

1842

1,179

623

1843

1,218

623

1844

1,111

543

1845

2,201

1,000

1846

2,489

1,082

1847

2,216

1,111

1848

1,866

1,009

1849

1,473

994

1850

2,204

1,137

1851

1,876

928

1852

2,103

1,049

1853

2,034

900

1854

2,286

941

1855

2,178

964

1856

2,371

1,084

1857

2,171

1,198

1858

2,409

1,264

1859

2,374

1,054

1860

2,515

1,164


     For twenty years the number of persons reported lost, stolen, strayed, and missing has been steadily increasing.

In

1841

it was

1,000

1851

1,876

1860

2,515


     Of which

In

1841

560

were restored by the police

1851

928

1860

1,164


   Now unscrupulous statisticians and newsmongers would not hesitate to say that the “Fleet Ditch” Dr. Ryan is so fond of might unfold a tale that would elucidate the mystery.
     It is surprising that in these enlightened days such monstrosities should be listened to.
     How many, I should like to know, disappear from home and enlist in the army? How many run away to sea, and how many commit suicide?
     A little reflection shows us that the tales of murder in immoral houses are only bugbears conjured up by moralists to frighten children. Not designedly perhaps, but more through ignorance than anything else.
     Perhaps the number of suicides committed annually in London may be of some use in reducing the number of lost and missing.

NUMBER of SUICIDES committed during the years 1841 to 1860

Year

Suicides committed

Year

Suicides committed

1841

139

1851

120

1842

134

1852

109

1843

112

1853

131

1844

155

1854

118

1845

144

1855

116

1846

162

1856

127

1847

152

1857

154

1848

100

1858

90

1849

131

1859

180

1850

140

1860

104


    

     I find also that the number of suicides prevented by the police, or otherwise, is on an average nearly equal to the actual number of suicides committed.
     Many attempted suicides may not be genuine attempts; for we often hear in the police courts of people endeavouring to make the public believe they wished to destroy themselves, with the sole object of exciting sympathy and drawing attention to their case. However, it is difficult to distinguish, and it is clear there are annually many unhappy wretches who do make away with their lives, and also numbers who are providentially prevented.

Rape

     is a crime that has not fluctuated to any great extent during the last ten years. I see that in 1850 there were 22 arrests for this offence, and the same number in 1860. Most of the prisoners were in a low station in life; 17 in 1850 only being able to read, or read and write imperfectly, and 15 in 1860 were in the same un-intellectual position. In 1855, 21 individuals were given in charge, 16 of whom were imperfectly instructed. It must be remembered that not all those who were charged were convicted, or even committed for trial, because the charge of rape is one easy to trump up, and it requires very sound and un-conflicting evidence to bring the charge home.

Concealing The Birth Of Infants

     is a crime I am glad to perceive of more frequent occurrence, than feloniously attempting to procure abortion; for of two evils it is better the less preponderate.

Year

Concealing Birth of their Infants

Feloniously attempting to procure Abortion

     1850

12

1

     1855

10

1

     1860

17

0


     In 1860 there were 2 cases of abduction, and in 1850 none at all; but in the latter year there were 61 cases of indecently exposing the person, which offence had in 1860 attained the dimensions of 103, three only, of which number were females, in the former instance eight.
     Of course it is only natural to expect that as the population of the empire increases, crime also will increase; and will more especially show its hideous and unwelcome visage in the metropolis, the centre of a vast and densely-populated kingdom. Where masses of men congregate, there disorder, dissension, and crime will have a place. We have to thank an efficient police force for keeping them within reasonable dimensions.
     I have already adverted to the difficulty experienced in even approximating to the actual number of prostitutes existing; but the magisterial authorities are enabled to catalogue and number those who are known to the police and those living in brothels.
     The subjoined table will be found extremely interesting:

Division and Local Name

Number known to the Police

Total

Well dressed who
live in Brothels

Who walk the Streets

Well dressed

All others

     A or Whitehall

None

None

None

None

     B or Westminster

469

177

17

275

     C or St. James

208

58

150

-

     D or St. Mary‘bone

428

143

133

152

     E or Holborn

511

173

58

280

     F or Covent Garden

428

50

204

174

     G or Finsbury

225

24

33

168

     H or Whitechapel

811

73

82

656

     K or Stepney

1015

..

310

705

     L or Lambeth

657

147

207

303

     M or Southwark

661

53

140

468

     N or Islington

441

90

136

215

     P or Camberwell

222

44

96

82

     R or Greenwich

570

172

124

274

     S or Hampstead

331

14

56

261

     T or Kensington

97

..

5

92

     V or Wandsworth

187

14

40

133

Totals

7,261

1,232

1,791

4,238


     This is the latest return that the authorities at Whitehall are in possession of. It will be seen that the largest number of prostitutes are in Stepney; but the prostitution in this district, it would appear, is of a low description, and mostly ambulatory, as no evidence of any women living in brothels is given in the return.
     The registered increase since 1857, is in most districts absolutely nothing, whilst the decrease in many localities contrasts very favourably indeed with the increase. For instance:-

Increase since last return, made in July, 1857

Decrease since last return, made in July, 1857

A

 

None

A


      

None

B

 

 

B


      

55

C

 

 

C


      

110

D

 

 

D


      

98

E

 

 

E


      

35

F

 

 

F


      

52

G

 

 

G


      

124

H

 

 

H


      

992

K

 

 

K


      

50

L

 

 

L


      

145

M

 

 

M


      

6

N

 

 

N


      

4

P

 

 

P


      

6

R

 

169

R


      

 

S

 

100

S


      

 

T

 

 

T


      

9

V

 

 

V


      

22

 

Total

269

 


     Total

1,708


     The police have thought it necessary to make special arrangements in special localities, to prevent disorder and enforce the law.

SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS of POLICE made, and at what places, to prevent disorder and enforce the law

Division and Local Name.


      
     A or Whitehall      Cockspur Street-an additional constable occasionally. St. James‘s, Green, and Hyde Parks-additional constables during summer months.
     C-St. James      Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Quadrant, Haymarket, and Coventry Street-four additional constables (and sometimes more) from 3 P.M to 3 A.M., daily.
     D-St. Marylebone      Oxford Street, Edgeware Road. Harrow Road, and Paddington Green-one additional constable from 7 P.M. to 6 A.M., daily. Regent‘s Park and Bayswater Road-two additional constables from 9 A.M. to 6 A.M., following day. Portland Place-an additional constable from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M.
     E-Holborn      Lower Regent Street and Portland Place-one additional constable from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M.; one ditto from 7 P.M. till 2 A.M.; two additional constables from 10 P.M. till 2 A.M., and a sergeant in plain clothes.
  F-Covent Garden      Strand - a sergeant, and occasionally constables. Long Acre-a constable frequently.
     H-Whitechapel      St. George‘s Street and High Street, Whitechapel-a constable, and a short beat, each place.
     L—Lambeth      Waterloo Road, Herbert‘s Buildings, and Granby Street-an additional sergeant and two constables patrolling.
     S-Hampstead      Regent‘s Park-an additional constable to patrol. Primrose Hill-twoadditional constables for eight hours after Park constables go off duty.

COMPARATIVE RETURN of the NUMBER of PROSTITUTES known to the Police, at four different periods, within the last seventeen years

Division and Local Name

In

In

In

In

 

1841

1850

1857

1858

     A or Whitehall

 

 

 

 

     B or Westminster

 

660

524

469

     C or St James‘s

 

390

318

208

     D or St Marylebone

 

429

526

428

     E or Holborn

 

461

546

511

     F or Covent Garden

 

698

480

428

     G or Finsbury

 

320

349

225

     H or Whitechapel

 

474

1803

811

     K or Stepney

 

827

965

1015

     L or Lambeth

 

854

802

657

     M or Southwark

 

531

667

661

     N or Islington

 

457

445

441

     P or Camberwell

 

152

228

222

     R or Greenwich

 

288

401

570

     S or Hampstead

 

216

231

331

     T or Kensington

 

92

106

97

     V or Wandsworth

 

157

209

187

Totals

6598

7006

8600

7261

NOTE -The total number only for 1841 can now be given.


     These are the only statistics relative to prostitution that I have been able to procure - indeed I may almost say they are the only ones procurable; and for them I am indebted to the courtesy of the authorities at Whitehall, who, during my researches, have most kindly afforded me every facility that I could wish for.
     I dare say that few things contribute so much to the spread of immorality as the sale of indecent and obscene prints and books, which were until lately so widely disseminated over the country by bookhawkers and the filthy traders of Holywell Street. Even now this trade is not entirely suppressed, although the police restrictions are rigorous, and the punishments awarded severe.
     Selling obscene prints and exposing for sale:-

In the year

1850

1

"

1851

4

"

1852

0

"

1853

0

"

1854

1

"

1855

0

"

1856

5

"

1857

4

"

1858

0

"

1859

3

"

1860

4

22


      
     Recently a man called Dugdale, who has grown grey in this disgusting occupation, was brought before a magistrate for selling obscene prints, and also sending some to customers in the country. The magistrate committed him for trial, when he was sent to prison for two years.
     It is always more or less interesting to know the extent of instruction among criminals, and with that idea in view I have put together the annexed table, in which I have included all the offences that bear directly and remotely upon the subject I am treating.
     As regards the man Dugdale, and the sale of immoral publications, obscene prints, &c., a long account of the prisoner's antecedents was given in the newspaper reports. He had been engaged in this infamous and diabolical traffic nearly forty years, and had spent a great number of them in prison at various times; tons weight of obscene books, pictures, and plates had been seized upon his premises, and he was well known to be the principal instrument for the dissemination of this sort of pollution all over the country. The prosecution was instituted by the meritorious Society for the Suppression of Vice. The judge made a few brief but impressive observations upon the inconceivable enormity of the prisoner's offence, and the whole course of his life, which he said had been one of vice, wickedness, infamy, and villainy, the real extent of which words would fail to describe. From the records of public proceedings for years past the Court had a knowledge of the prisoner's previous history, and it would be a waste of words and the public time to say any thing further to such a person. He was liable to three years' hard-labour, but, considering his age, the Court would refrain from going to extremity, but in the discharge of their duty to society and the rising generation they felt bound to pass upon him a severe sentence, which was that he be kept to hard labour for two years.

Table showing the degree of instruction of the persons taken into custody during a period of ten years - 1850 to 1860
Offences

Years

Total

Neither Read nor Write

Read only, or Read and Write imperfectly

Read and Write well

Superior Instruction

     Concealing births of their infants

From 1850 to 1860

167

28

124

15

-

     Feloniously attempting to procure abortion

9

-

3

4

2

     Rape

324

44

226

97

1

     Disorderly Prostitutes

41,914

10,134

30,921

784

75

     Indecently exposing the person

1,155

129

785

212

26

     Keeping common Brothels

143

22

81

40

-

     Selling and exposing obscene prints for sale

22

-

16

6

-


       Whilst I am dilating upon statistics it may not be inappropriate to refer to certain figures and facts relating to the Midnight Meeting movement.
     By the courtesy of Mr. Theophilus Smith, secretary to the Midnight Meeting movement, I have been furnished with the general statistical results.
     20 meetings have been held.
     4,000 friendless young women heard the gospel.
     23,000 Scripture cards, books, tracts, and Mr. Noel‘s address at the second meeting circulated.

89

     females restored to friends

75

     placed in service

81

     in homes

1

     set up in business

2

     emigrated

6

     married

1

     sent to France

1

     to Holland

1

     to New-York

30

  left homes after a short residence

287

     

     Of this number (287) very many (upwards of thirty) have given evidence of a change of heart.

56

restored at

     Liverpool

50

     Manchester

130

     Edinburgh

30

     Dundee

35

     Dublin

17

     Cardiff

10

     Ramsgate

358

 

      

     A total of 645, besides a large number who through the influence of the movement have given up a life of sin, and sought a way of escape for themselves. The committee have heard of many.
     I append a list of the metropolitan homes and refuges.
    1. British Penitent Female Refuge. Cambridge Heath, Hackney, N.E.
2. Female Temporary Home. 218, Marylebone Road, N.W.
3. Guardian Society. 12, North side of Bethnal Green, N.E.
4. Home for Friendless Young Females of Good Character. 17, New Ormond Street, W.C.
5. Home for Penitent Females. White Lion Street, Islington, N.
6. Lock Asylum. Westbourne Green, Paddington.
7. London Diocesan Penitentiary. Park House, Highgate, N.
8. London Female Dormitory. 9, Abbey Road, St. John's Wood.
9. London Female Penitentiary. 166, Pentonville Road, N.
10. London Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution. 200, Euston Road, N.W., and 18, Cornwall Place, Holloway Road, N.
11. London Society for Protection of Young Females. Asylum, Tottenham, N.; Office, 28, New Broad Street, E.C.
12. Magdalen Hospital. 115, Blackfriars Road, S.
13. Refuge for the Destitute. Manor House, Dalston, N.E.
14. Society for the Rescue of Young Women and Children. There are five homes; the office at 11, Poultry, E.C.
15. South London Institution.
16. St. Marylebone Female Protection Society. 157, Marylebone Road, N.W.
17. St. James' Home. Whetstone, Finchley Common, W.
18. Trinity Home. 9, Portland Road, Portland Place, W.
19. Westminster Female Refuge. 44, Vincent Square, S.W.
 
From February 1860 to February 1861, by contributions and collections the Society, it appears from the balance-sheet, received 2,924l. 7s. 4d.

Traffic In Foreign Women

     ONE of the most disgraceful, horrible and revolting practices (not even eclipsed by the slave-trade), carried on by Europeans is the importation of girls into England from foreign countries to swell the ranks of prostitution. It is only very recently that the attention of Mr. Tyrrwhit, at the Marlborough Police Court, was drawn to the subject by Mr. Dalbert, agent to the "Society for the Protection of Women and Children."
     It is asserted that women are imported from Belgium, and placed in houses of illfame, where they are compelled to support their keepers in luxury and idleness by the proceeds of their dishonour. One house in particular was mentioned in Marylebone; but the state of the law respecting brothels is so peculiar that great difficulty is experienced in extricating these unfortunate creatures from their dreadful position. If it were proved beyond the suspicion of a doubt, that they were detained against their will, the Habeas Corpus Act might be of service to their friends, but it appears they are so jealously guarded, that all attempts to get at them have hitherto proved futile, although there is every reason to believe that energetic measures will be taken by the above-mentioned Society to mitigate the evil and relieve the victims.
     As this traffic is clandestine, and conducted with the greatest caution, it is impossible to form any correct idea of its extent. There are numbers of foreign women about, but it is probable that many of them have come over here of their own free-will, and not upon false pretences or compulsion. One meets with French, Spanish, Italian, Belgian, and other women.
     The complaint made before the metropolitan magistrate a short while since was in favour of Belgian women. But the traffic is not confined to them alone. It would appear that the unfortunate creatures are deluded by all sorts of promises and cajolery, and when they arrive in this country are, in point of fact, imprisoned in certain houses of ill-fame, whose keepers derive considerable emolument from their durance. They are made to fetter themselves in some way or other to the trepanner, and they, in their simple-mindedness, consider their deed binding, and look upon themselves, until the delusion is dispelled, as thoroughly in the power of their keepers.
     English women are also taken to foreign parts by designing speculators. The English are known to congregate at Boulogne, at Havre, at Dieppe, at Ostend, and other places. It is considered lucrative by the keepers of bawdy-houses at these towns to maintain an efficient supply of English women for their resident countrymen: and though the supply is inadequate to the demand, great numbers of girls are decoyed every year, and placed in the "Maisons de passé," or "Maisons de joie," as they are sometimes called, where they are made to prostitute themselves. And by the farm of their persons enable their procurers to derive considerable profit.
     An Englishwoman told me how she was very nearly entrapped by a foreign woman.
     "I met an emissary of a French bawdyhouse," she said, "one night in the Haymarket, and, after conversing with her upon various subjects, she opened the matter she had in hand, and, after a little manœuvring and bush-beating, she asked me if I would not like to go over to France. She specified a town, which was Havre. 'You will get lots of money," she added, and further represented 'that I should have a very jolly time of it.' 'The money you make will be equally divided between yourself and the woman of the house, and when you have made as much as you want, you may come back to England and set up a café or nighthouse, where your old friends will be only too glad to come and see you. You will of course get lots of custom, and attain a better future than you can now possibly hope for. You ought to look upon me as the greatest friend you have, for I am putting a chance in your way that does not occur every day, I can tell you. If you value your own comfort, and think for a moment about your future, you cannot hesitate. I have an agreement in my pocket, duly drawn up by a solicitor, so you may rely upon its being all on the square, and if you sign this - '
     'To-night?' I asked.
     'Yes, immediately. If you sign this, I will supply you with some money to get what you want, and the day after tomorrow you shall sail for Havre. Madame ------ is a very nice sort of person, and will do all in her power to make you happy and comfortable, and indeed she will allow you to do exactly as you please.'
     Fortunately for herself my informant refused to avail herself of the flattering prospect so alluringly held out to her. The bait was tempting enough, but the fish was too wary.
     Now let us hear the recital of a girl who, at an early age, had been incarcerated in one of these "Maisons de passé." She is now in England, has been in a refuge, and by the authorities of the charity placed in an occupation which enables her to acquire a livelihood sufficient to allow her to live as she had, up to that time, been accustomed to. Her story I subjoin:-
     When I was sixteen years' old, my father, who kept a public-house in Bloomsbury, got into difficulties and became bankrupt. I had no mother, and my relations, such as they were, insisted upon my keeping myself in some way or other. This determination on their part thoroughly accorded with my own way of thinking, and I did not for an instant refuse to do so. It then became necessary to discover something by which I could support myself. Service suggested itself to me and my friends, and we set about finding out a situation that I could fill. They told me I was pretty, and as I had not been accustomed to do anything laborious, they thought I would make a very good lady's maid. I advertised in a morning paper, and received three answers to my advertisement. The first I went to did not answer my expectations, and the second was moderately good; but I resolved to go to the third, and see the nature of it before I came to any conclusion. Consequently I left the second open, and went to the third. It was addressed from a house in Bulstrode street, near Welbeck street. I was ushered into the house, and found a foreign lady waiting to receive me. She said she was going back to France, and wished for an English girl to accompany her, as she infinitely preferred English to French women. She offered me a high salary, and told me my duties would be light; in fact by comparing her statement of what I should have to do with that of the others I had visited, I found that it was more to my advantage to live with her than with them. So after a little consultation with myself, I determined to accept her offer. No sooner had I told her so than she said in a soft tone of voice -
     'Then, my dear, just be good enough to sign this agreement between us. It is merely a matter of form - nothing more, ma chère.' I asked her what it was about, and why it was necessary for me to sign any paper at all?  She replied, 'Only for our mutual satisfaction. I wish you to remain with me for one year, as I shall not return to England until then. And if you hadn't some agreement with me, to bind you as it were to stay with me, why, mon Dieu! you might leave me directly - oh! c'est rien. You may sign without fear or trembling.' Hearing this explanation of the transaction, without reading over the paper which was written on half a sheet of foolscap, (for I did not wish to insult or offend her by so doing,) I wrote my name. She instantly seized the paper, held it to the fire for a moment or two to dry, and folding it up placed it in her pocket. She then requested me to be ready to leave London with her on the following Thursday, which allowed me two days to make my preparations and to take leave of my friends, which I did in very good spirits, as I thought I had a very fair prospect before me. It remained for what ensued to disabuse me of that idea.
     We left the St. Katherine's Docks in the steamer for Boulogne, and instead of going to an hotel, as I expected, we proceeded to a private house in the Rue N-- C--, near the Rue de l'Ecu. I have farther to tell you that three other young women accompanied us. One was a housemaid, one was a nursery governess, and the other a cook. I was introduced to them as people that I should have to associate with when we arrived at Madame's house. In fact they were represented to be part of the establishment; and they, poor things, fully believed they were, being as much deluded as myself. The house that Madame brought us to was roomy and commodious, and, as I afterwards discovered, well, if not elegantly, furnished. We were shown into very good bedrooms, much better than I expected would be allotted to servants; and when I mentioned this to Madame, and thanked her for her kindness and consideration, she replied with a smile:- 'Did I not tell you how well you would be treated? we do these things better in France than they do in England.' I thanked her again as she was going away, but she said, 'Tais toi, Tais toi,' and left me quite enchanted with her goodness.
     I need not expatiate on what subsequently ensued. It is easy to imagine the horrors that the poor girl had to undergo. With some difficulty she was conquered and had to submit to her fate. She did not know a word of the language, and was ignorant of the only method she could adopt to insure redress. But this she happily discovered in a somewhat singular manner. When her way of living had become intolerable to her, she determined to throw herself on the generosity of a young Englishman who was in the habit of frequenting the house she lived in, and who seemed to possess some sort of affection for her.
     She confessed her miserable position to him, and implored him to protect her or point out a means of safety. He at once replied, "The best thing you can do is to go to the British Consul and lay your case before him. He will in all probability send you back to your own country." It required little persuasion on her part to induce her friend to co-operate with her. The main thing to be managed was to escape from the house. This was next to impossible, as they were so carefully watched. But they were allowed occasionally, if they did not show any signs of discontent to go out for a walk in the town. The ramparts surrounding the "Haute Ville" were generally selected by this girl as her promenade, and when this privilege of walking out was allowed her, she was strictly enjoined not to neglect any opportunity that might offer itself. She arranged to meet her young friend there, and gave him notice of the day upon which she would be able to go out. If a girl who was so privileged chanced to meet a man known to the Bonne or attendant as a frequenter of the house, she retired to a convenient distance or went back altogether. The plot succeeded, the consul was appealed to and granted the girl a passport to return to England, also offering to supply her with money to pay her passage home. This necessity was obviated by the kindness of her young English friend, who generously gave her several pounds, and advised her to return at once to her friends.
     Arrived in England, she found her friends reluctant to believe the tale she told them, and found herself thrown on her own resources. Without a character, and with a mind very much disturbed, she found it difficult to do anything respectable, and at last had recourse to prostitution; - so difficult is it to come back to the right path when we have once strayed from it.
     Perhaps it is almost impossible to stop this traffic; but at any rate the infamous wretches who trade in it may be intimidated by publicity being given to their acts, and the indignation of the public being roused in consequence. What can we imagine more dreadful than kidnapping a confiding unsuspecting girl, in some cases we may say child, without exaggeration, for a girl of fifteen is not so very far removed from those who come within the provisions of the Bishop of Oxford's Act? I repeat, what can be more horrible than transporting a girl, as it were, by false representations from her native land to a country of strangers, and condemning her against her will to a life of the most revolting slavery and degradation, without her having been guilty of any offence against an individual or against the laws of the land?
     It is difficult to believe that there can be many persons engaged in this white slave trade, but it is undeniably true.
     It is not a question for the legislature; for what could Parliament do? The only way to decrease the iniquity is to widely disseminate the knowledge of the existence of such infamy, that those whom it most nearly concerns, may be put upon their guard, and thus be enabled to avoid falling into the trap so cunningly laid for them.
     Much praise is due to those benevolent societies who interest themselves in these matters, and especially to that which we have alluded to more than once - "The Society for the Protection of Women and Children," over which Lord Raynham presides.
     Much good may be done by this means, and much misery prevented. The mines of Siberia, with all their terrors, would be preferred - even with the knout in prospective - by these poor girls, were the alternative proffered them, to the wretched life they are decoyed into leading. For all their hopes are blasted, all their feelings crushed, their whole existence blighted, and their life rendered a misery to them instead of a blessing and a means of rational enjoyment.
     The idea of slavery of any kind is repulsive to the English mind; but when that slavery includes incarceration, and mental as well as physical subjection to the dominant power by whom that durance is imposed, it becomes doubly and trebly repugnant. If it were simply the deprivation of air and exercise, or even the performance of the most menial offices, it might be borne with some degree of resignation by the sufferer, however unmerited the punishment. But here we have a totally different case: no offence is committed by the victim, but rather by nature, for what is her fault, but being pretty and a woman? For this caprice of the genius of form who presided over her birth she is condemned to a life of misery, degradation, and despair; compelled to receive caresses that are hateful to her, she is at one moment the toy of senile sensuality, and at others of impetuous juvenility, both alike loathsome, both alike detestable. If blandishments disgust her, words of endearment only make her state of desolation more palpable; while profusions of regard serve to aggravate the poignancy of her grief, all around her is hollow, all artificial except her wretchedness. When to this is added ostracism - banishment from one's native country - the condition of the unfortunate woman is indeed pitiable, for there is some slight consolation in hearing one's native language spoken by those around us, and more especially to the class from which these girls are for the most part taken. We must add "pour comble d' injustice," that there is no future for the girl, no reprieve, no hope of mercy, every hope is gone from the moment the prison tawdry is assumed. The condemnation is severe enough, for it is for life. When her beauty and her charms no longer serve to attract the libidinous, she sinks into the condition of a servant to others who have been ensnared to fill her place. Happiness cannot be achieved by her at any period of her servitude; there must always be a restless longing for the end, which though comparatively quick in arriving is always too tardy.
     The mind in time in many cases becomes depraved, and the hardness of heart that follows this depravity often prevents the girl from feeling as acutely as she did at first. To these religion is a dead letter, which is a greater and additional calamity. But to be brief, the victim's whole life from first to last is a series of disappointments, combined with a succession of woes that excite a shudder by their contemplation, and which may almost justify the invocation of Death:-

Death, Death, oh amiable lovely death!
Thou odoriferous stench! sound rottenness!
Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
And I will kiss thy detestable bones;
And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows;
And ring these fingers with thy household worms;
and stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
And be a carrion monster like thyself;
Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil'st,
And kiss thee as thy wife! Misery's love,
O, come to me!

SHAKESPERE, King John, Act iii. Scene 4.