But perhaps there is nothing in London so
exasperating as the Lodging-house keeper... This being starves you,
freezes you, cheats you, waits upon you, steals from you, lies to you, flatters
you, and backbites you; reads your private papers, has keys for all your boxes
and drawers, and a complete inventory of all your effects. She chooses from your
handkerchiefs, smoothes her hair with your brushes, scents it with your
perfumes, ‘makes herself beautiful’ at your toilet. She examines your boots,
and finds a pair which you ‘will never miss’, for her James. She
brushes your trowsers, and takes care of any loose change. She waits at your
table, counts the oranges, and thinks she will try one.
When you ask for that pie, she has given it to the dog—’I thought you were done with it, Sir.’ . . . She eats your bread, drinks your beer, tastes your wine; and charges you a shilling for a pinch of salt.... You sleep on ‘hobbles’, and are blotched in a curious manner. You hint to the servant that you have seen something as well as felt; but ‘nothing of that sort was ever in my house’. At last, when you find it quite impossible to satisfy the ever-increasing rapacity, you ‘think you will leave’. You are very forcibly reminded that you are bound to ‘a month’s notice, Sir’.
Ah-Chin-Le, Some Observations Upon the Civilization of the Western Barbarians, 1876.