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Friday, November 30, 1849
The Hucksters, or Street tradesmen,
are divisible into five classes, viz., the hucksters of provisions - the
hucksters of articles of household use - the hucksters of hardwear - the
hucksters of stationery, songs, and literature - the hucksters of live birds,
live gold fish, dogs, and flowers.
The hucksters of provisions are chiefly costermongers, or itinerant dealers in vegetables, fruit, and fish - the vendors of oranges and nuts - of shellfish - of sweetmeats - baked potatoes - ham sandwiches - meat and fruit pies - puddings - hot coffee and tea - game, rabbits, and poultry - fried fish - ginger beer elder wine - cakes and gingerbread nuts - cough drops - and dogs' meat.
Of this class the costermongers, or street vendors of vegetables, fruit, and fish, constitute by far the largest number. They are the parties principally through which the working classes and the poor obtain the greater portion of their food. Hence, in an inquiry like the present, it becomes most important to investigate the gains of the street vendors of provisions, not only as forming a large proportion of the poor themselves, but as being the parties through whom the poor obtain their vegetables, fish, etc. The hucksters of provisions, therefore, require consideration in a double point of view. The class must be regarded as purveyors to the poor, and their earnings taken as the rate of profit that the working classes have generally to pay upon whatever they consume. The trade may also be regarded as an outlet or means of living for the surplus labour of the metropolis, for we shall find that, with the exception of the costermongers, who appear to be "born and bred" to the business, the other classes of street provision merchants are mostly artisans and labourers who have been unable to obtain work at their calling.
In my last letter I pointed out that the pound weight of the costermonger is mostly deficient four ounces, and frequently eight or ten ounces; that the pint measure is at least one-third short; that the fish supplied to them is generally what is called "rough," or, in other words, two or three days old before it is bought, and frequently putrid when sold by them to the poor; and, moreover, that they almost invariably borrow the capital with which they purchase their goods, and pay interest at the rate of nearly 1,000 per cent, for the money. All this information, be it remembered, I had direct, not from one, but several of the class, by whom I was shown the weights and measures ordinarily used by the people, as well as the quantity that they were deficient. When we consider therefore, that this enormous interest must be paid out of the profits of the articles sold, and when we think of the short weights and measures, and the quality of the articles supplied, we shall readily perceive how cruelly the poor are defrauded, and that if they are underpaid for what they do, they are at the same time fearfully overcharged for all they buy.
As a body, the costermongers rank high amongst the criminals of the country. This will be seen by the following list: - Of carpenters, there is one criminal in every 810 individuals; of masons, one in every 480; of boot and shoe makers, one in every 462; of blacksmiths, one in every 400; of sawyers, one in 290; of bakers. one in 270; of butchers, one in 247; of seamsters and seamstresses. one in 100; whereas, of hawkers, hucksters, and pedlars, there is one criminal in every 86 individuals. The above facts are deduced from the Government Returns of the occupations of the inmates of the gaols throughout Great Britain in the year 1841.
I now proceed to deal with the rest of the street provision vendors. The earnings of the class will be seen to be in some cases superior to those of the most skilful artisans; indeed, they are generally such as to yield a competence to such of the working classes as resort to them. We must, however, make an exception of the sale of watercresses. This calling, as will be shown hereafter. is followed only by the very old and the very young, the gains being insufficient for any other persons than those whose labour is of the very lowest value.
And first, of the Coffee-stall Keepers - or vendors of saloup, as they are frequently called. From these the poor man mostly obtains his breakfast. They have a stall generally at the corner of a street, and this is very often pitched in front of a tea-dealer's shop. The cause of this is, that the coffee-stall keeper usually purchases his goods there, and so obtains leave of the shopkeeper to stand at the kerb. In the centre of the fruit and meat markets there are generally two or three coffee-stalls, and one or two in the streets leading to them. In Covent-garden market there are no less than four coffee-stalls, and one or two in Billingsgate market, and one also in the Haymarket. In the street leading to Farringdon market there is one, and one also in the streets leading to Hungerford market. Newgate market, the Borough market, and the Whitechapel market. The principal station, or pitches, throughout London, are at the corner of Duke-street, Marylebone-lane; at the Cumberland-gate, Hyde-park (this stall is kept by a celebrated character called "Old Jack "); at the Regent-circus, Oxford-street (kept by an elderly female); at the Elephant and Castle; at the end of the New-cut, Lambeth; in the Blackfriars-road; at the Surrey side of London bridge; at Aldgate church; at the railway station, Shoreditch; at each end of Euston-square; at the top of High-street, Camden- town; at the Blind Asylum, Westminster-road; at the corner of the Wandsworth-road; at the top of Sloane-street, Knightsbridge; and at the end of the City-road, opposite St. Luke's. There are some half-dozen in the Edgware-road, and about a dozen in the New- road; indeed, wherever there is a public thoroughfare frequented by working people, on their way to their day's labour, there the coffee-stall keeper is sure to be seen. The best "pitch" in London is supposed to be at the corner of Duke-street, Oxford-street. The proprietor of that stall is said to take full 30s. of a morning in halfpence; and when "upon the drink" - to use the words of my informant - he thinks nothing of· spending his £10 or £15 per week. A party assured me that once, when the stall-keeper was away "on the spree," he took up his stand there, and got from four to five shillings in the course of ten minutes at the busy time of the morning.
The coffee-stall usually consists of a spring barrow with two, and occasionally four, wheels. Some are made up of tables, and some have a trestle and board. On the top of this stand two or three, and sometimes four, large tin cans, holding upon an average five gallons each. Beneath each of these cans is a small iron firepot, perforated like a rushlight shade, and in this charcoal is continually burning, so as to keep the coffee or tea with which they are filled hot throughout the early part of the morning. The board of the stall has mostly a compartment for bread and butter, cake, and ham sandwiches, and another for the coffee mugs. There is generally a small tub under each of the stalls, in which the mugs and saucers are washed. The grandest stall in this line is the one before mentioned as standing at the corner of Duke-street, Oxford-street. It is a large truck on four wheels, and painted a bright green. The cans are four in number, and of bright polished tin mounted with brass plates. There are handsome compartments for bread and butter, sandwiches, and cake. It is lighted by three large oil lamps, with bright brass mountings, and covered in with an oilcloth roof. The coffee-stalls generally are lighted by candle-lamps. and some have tarpauling screens run up round them, to shelter the proprietor and customers from the bleak morning air. Some of them make their appearance at twelve at night, and some not till three or four in the morning. Those that come out at midnight are for the accommodation of the "night-walkers" - fast gentlemen and loose girls; and those that come out in the morning are for the accommodation of the working men. They usually sell coffee and tea, and some of them cocoa. They keep hot milk in one of the large cans, and coffee, tea, or cocoa in the others. They supply bread and butter, or currant cake, in slices - ham sandwiches, water-cresses, and boiled eggs. The price they charge is ld. per mug, or ½d. per half-mug, for the coffee, tea, or cocoa; and ½d. a slice the bread and butter or cake. The ham sandwiches are 2d. each, the boiled eggs ld., and the water-cresses a halfpenny a bunch. The coffee, tea, cocoa, and sugar they generally purchase by the single pound, at the grocer's nearest to their stands. Those who do a very extensive trade purchase their articles in larger quantities. The coffee is usually bought in the berry, and ground by themselves at home. Many purchase chicory to mix with it. For the coffee they pay about 1s.; for the tea about 3s.; for the cocoa, 6d. per lb.; and for the sugar, 3½d. to 4d. For the chicory the price is 6d., and it is mixed with the coffee at the rate of 3 oz. to the pound; many use as much as 6 oz. The coffee is made of a dark colour by means of what are called "finings," which consist of burnt sugar - such, indeed, as is used for browning soups. Coffee is the article mostly sold at the stalls; indeed, there is scarcely one stall in a hundred that is supplied with tea, and not more than a dozen in all London that furnish cocoa. They usually make the cake themselves. A 4 lb. cake generally consists of a half a pound of currants, half a pound of sugar, six ounces of beef dripping, and a quartern of flour. The ham for ham sandwiches costs about 7½d. per lb.; and this, when boiled, produces in sandwiches about 2s. 6d. per lb. It is usually cut up in slices about as thick as paper. The bread they pay for at the rate of 5d. a quartern. This is usually "second bread." The butter is usually salt, and purchased at about 8d. the pound. Some of them borrow their barrows; and pay 1s. a week for the hire of them. Many borrow the capital upon which they trade. They borrow this probably of their landlord. Some get credit for their grocery - some for their bread. If they borrow they pay about 20 per cent. per week for the loan. I was told of one man that makes a practice of lending money to the coffee-stall keepers and other hucksters, at the rate of at least 20 per cent. a week. If the party wishing to borrow a pound or two is unknown to the money lender, he requires security, and the interest to be paid him weekly. He has been transported once for receiving stolen property, and would now purchase any amount of plate that might be taken to him. To commence as a coffee-stall keeper in a moderate manner would require about £5 capital. The truck would cost £2, and the other utensils £3. The expense of the cans is near upon 16s. each. The class of persons usually belonging to the business have been either cabmen, policemen, labourers, or artisans. Many have been bred to dealing in the streets, and brought up to no other employment, but many have taken to the business owing to the difficulty of obtaining work at their own trade. The generality of them are opposed to one another. It is believed by one who has been several years in the business, and who asserts that he knows pretty well every coffee-stall in it, that there are nearly 200 coffee-stall keepers throughout the metropolis, I asked one in a small way of business what was the average amount of his profits; and his answer was, "I usually buy 10 ounces of coffee per night. That costs me 1s. 0½d. With this I should make five gallons of coffee, such as I sell in the street. This would require three quarts of milk at 3d. per quart, and 1½lb. of sugar at 3½d. per lb. This would come to 2s. 2¾.; and, allowing l½d. for a quarter of a peck of charcoal to keep the coffee hot, would give 2s. 4d. for the cost of five gallons of coffee. This I should sell out at about 1½d. per pint; so that the five gallons would produce me 5s., or 2s. 8d. clear. I generally get rid of one quartern loaf and 6 oz. of butter with this quantity of coffee, and for this I pay 5d. the loaf and 3d. the butter, making 8d.; and these I make into 28 slices at ½d. per slice; consequently the whole brings me in 1s. 2d., or about 6d. clear. Added to this, I sell a 4 lb. cake, which costs me 3½d. per lb. - 1s. 2d. the entire cake; and this in 28 slices, at ld. per slice, would yield 2s. 4d., or 1s. 2d. clear; so that altogether my clear gains would be 4s. 4d. upon an expenditure of 2s. 2d. - say 200 per cent. This is said to be about the usual profit of the trade. Sometimes they give credit. One person assured me he trusted as much as 9½d. that morning, and out of that he was satisfied there was 4d. at least that he should never see. Many of the stalls are stationary, and many locomotive. Some cans are carried about with yokes, like milk cans, the mugs being kept in a basket. The best district for the night trade is the City. There are more men and women walking along Cheapside, Aldersgate-street, Bishopsgate-street, and Fleet-street. In the latter place a good trade is frequently done between twelve at night and two in the morning. For the morning trade the best districts are the Strand, Oxford-street, City- road, the New-road (from one end to the other), the markets, especially Covent-garden, Billingsgate, Newgate, and the Borough. No coffee-stalls are allowed in Smithfield. The reason of this is, the drovers on arriving at the market are generally tired and cold, and prefer sitting down to their coffee in a warm shop rather than standing to drink it in the open street. The best days for coffee-stalls are on market mornings, i.e., Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On these days the receipts are generally half as much again as those of the other mornings. The best time of the year for the business is in the summer season. This is because there is more doing, and the workpeople and costermongers have more money to spend. Some save sufficient to take a shop, but these are only such as have a "pitch" in the best thoroughfares. But the coffee-stall keeper at the corner of Duke-street, in Oxford-street, does a better trade than any coffee-shop keeper in Marylebone. One who did a little business informed me that he cleared, including Sunday, l4s. last week, and the week before his gains were 15s.; the week before that he could not remember. He is very frequently out all night, and does not earn sixpence. This is on wet and cold nights, when there are few people about. His is generally the night trade. The average weekly earnings of the trade throughout the year are said to be £1. The trade, I am assured by all, is overstocked. They are half too many, they say. "Two of us" - to use their own words - "are eating one man's bread. "When coffee in the streets first came up, a man could go and earn," I am told, "his 8s. a night at the very lowest; but now the same class of men cannot earn more than 3s. Some men may earn a great sum, as much as 38s. or £2, but the generality of the trade cannot make more than £1 per week. The following is the statement of one of the class: - "I was a mason's labourer, a smith's labourer, a plasterer's labourer, or a bricklayer's labourer. I was indeed a labouring man. I could not get employment. I was for six months without any employment. I did not know which way to support my wife and family (I have only one child). Being so long out of employment, I saw no other means of getting a living but out of the streets. I was almost starving before I took to it - that I certainly was. I'm not ashamed of telling anybody that, because it's true, and I sought for a livelihood wherever I could. Many said they wouldn't do such a thing as keep a coffee-stall, but I said I'd do anything to get a bit of bread honestly. Years ago, when I was a boy, I used to go out selling water-cresses, and apples, oranges, and radishes, with a barrow, for my landlord; so I thought when I was thrown out of employment I would take to selling coffee in the streets. I went to a tin-man and paid him 10s. 6d. (the last of my savings, after I'd been four or five months out of work) for a new can, and I bought at the same time a few ginger-beer bottles. I got my living anyhow. I didn't care how, so long as I could turn an honest penny. Well. I went on and knocked about, and couldn't get a pitch anywhere; but at last I heard that an old man, who had been in the habit of standing for many years at the entrance of one of the markets. had fell ill; so what did I do, but I goes and pops into his pitch. and there I've done better than ever I did afore. I get 20s. now where I got 10s. before; and if I only had such a thing as £5 or £10, I might get a good living for life. I'd pay it back at the rate of 10s. a week; but as it is, my turn-out is so short that I cannot do half as much as the man that was there before me. He used to make his coffee down there, and had a can for hot water as well; but I have but one can to keep coffee and all in; and I have to borrow my barrow, and pay 1s. a week for it. If I sell my can out, I can't do any more. The struggle to get a living is so great. that what with one and another in the coffee trade, it's only those as can get good pitches' that can get a crust at it.
The Irish Fruit-stall Keeper is another distinct class of street provision vendors. They are mostly females, and make but a scanty living. They deal in oranges, lemons, chestnuts, walnuts, etc., which is quite a different trade from that of the general dealer. They purchase their nuts of each kind in Covent-garden market. They pay for Brazil nuts and chestnuts 3s. a peck. They trade upon their own capital generally. In order to commence fairly in this line it would "make a hole in a sovereign." The class generally are very poor. They get about 9d. clear profit upon a peck of chestnuts and Brazil nuts too. They get their oranges and lemons at Duke's- place, Whitechapel. They pay for lemons 3s. 6d., and for oranges 4s. 6d. a long hundred. They sell them two a penny, both oranges and lemons. They sell upon the average, Brazil nuts and chestnuts, about one peck of each weekly, and oranges and lemons about one hundred of each, the long hundred; so that their weekly gross returns are 17s. 6d.; but after taking the cost price of the Brazil nuts, chestnuts, oranges, and lemons, which is 13s. 6d., their clear profits will be about 4s. weekly. There is no fear of nuts spoiling, and oranges and lemons will keep long enough to get rid of them. The best days for the sale of their goods are Saturdays and Mondays. On a Saturday they take from 3s. 9d. to 5s.; on Mondays from 2s. to 4s. It all depends on the stock: if they have a good stock, they get a better sale. There are very few who have any education among the class, as the greater portion of them are Irish. One of this class, whom I spoke to, informed me: - She is a widow with three children. Her husband died about three years since. She had then five children, and was near her confinement with another. Since the death of her husband she has lost three of her children; a boy about twelve years died of stoppage on his lungs, brought on through being in the streets, and shouting so loud to get sale for the fruit. She has stood in Clare-street, Clare-market, seven years with a fruit stall. In the summer she sells green fruit, which she purchases at Covent-garden. When the nuts come in season, and oranges, etc., she furnishes her stall with that kind of fruit, and continues to sell until the spring salad comes in: she thus strives to get a living for herself and family. During the spring and summer her weekly average income is about 5s., but the remaining portion of the year her income is not more than 3s. 6d. average weekly; so that, taking the year through, her average weekly income is about 4s. 3d., out of which she pays 1s. 6d. a week rent, leaving only 2s. 9d. a week to find necessary comforts for herself and family. For fuel they go up to the market and gather up the waste walnuts, and bring them home and dry them; and these, with a pennyworth of coal and coke, serve to warm their chilled feet and hands. They have no bedspread, but a flock bed in one corner of a room, upon the floor, with only an old sheet, blanket, and quilt to cover them at this inclement season. No chair nor table: a stool serves for the chair, two pieces of board upon some baskets serve for a table, and an old penny tea-canister for a candlestick. She has parted with every article of furniture to get food for her little family. She receives not a farthing from the parish, but is entirely dependent upon the sale of her fruit for a living for herself and three children.
The Baked Potato trade is more profitable than the trade in fruit, but continues only for six months in the course of the year.
The potatoes are bought at the greengrocers' shops, at the rate of 5s. 6d. the cwt. They are usually a large-sized potato, running about two or three to the pound. The kind generally bought is what are called the "French Regents." They are mostly French potatoes that are used now. The reason of this is, the French are cheaper than the English. The potatoes are picked, and those of a large size, and with a rough skin, selected from the others, because they are always the mealiest. A waxy potato shrivels in the baking. There are usually from 280 to 300 potatoes in the cwt.; these are cleaned by the huckster, and, when dried, taken in baskets, about a quarter cwt. at a time, to the baker's, to be cooked. They are baked in large tins, and require an hour-and-a-half to do well. The price paid for baking is 9d. the cwt., the baker usually finding the tins. They are taken home from the bakehouse in a basket, with a yard-and-a-half of green baize in which they are covered up, and so prevented from going cold. The huckster then places them in his can. This can consists of a tin with a half-lid, and standing on four legs. It has a large handle to it, and an iron fire-pot is suspended immediately beneath the vessel which is used for holding the potatoes. Directly over the fire-pot is a boiler for hot water. This is concealed within the vessel, and serves to keep the potatoes always hot. Outside the vessel where the potatoes are kept is, at one end, a small compartment for butter and salt, and at the other end another compartment for fresh charcoal. Above the boiler, and beside the lid, is a small pipe for carrying off the steam. These potato-cans are sometimes brightly polished and sometimes painted red, and occasionally brass-mounted. Some of the handsomest of the cans are all brass, and some are highly ornamented with brass mountings. Great pride is taken in the cans. The baked-potato man usually devotes half an hour to polishing them up, and they are mostly kept as bright as silver. The grandest potato-can that I have seen was in the New-cut. It was made entirely of copper, and kept brightly polished. It was lighted by a couple of oil lamps, mounted with brass, that cost 30s. the two. The cost of the can itself was £5. The expense of an ordinary can, tin and brass mounted, is about 50s. They are mostly made by a tinman in the Ratcliff-highway. The usual places for these cans to stand are the principal thoroughfares and street-markets. There are three at the bottom of Farringdon-street. two in Smithfield, and three in Tottenham-court-road (the two places last named are said to be the best pitches' in all London), two in Leather-lane, one on Holborn-hill, one at King's-cross, three at the Brill, Somers-town, three in the New-cut, three in Covent-garden (this is considered to be on market-days the second-best pitch), two at the Elephant and Castle, one at Westminster bridge, two at the top of Edgware-road, one in St. Martin's lane, one in Newport-market, two at the upper end of Oxford-street, one in Clare market, two in Regent-street, one in Newgate market, two at the Angel, Islington, three at Shoreditch church, four about Rosemary-lane, two at Whitechapel, two near Spitalfields market, and more than double the above number wandering about London. It is considered by one who has been many years at the business that there are, taking those who have regular stands and those who are travelling with their cans on their arm, at least 150 individuals engaged in the trade in London. The business continues only during the winter months. It begins about the middle of August and continues to the latter end of April. As soon as the potatoes get to any size, the baked-potato season generally commences, and it lasts till the potatoes get bad. The season upon an average continues about half the year. The business is found to depend much upon the weather. If it is cold and frosty the trade is generally much brisker than in wet weather; indeed then very little is doing. The best times for the business in the course of the day are from half-past ten in the morning till two in the afternoon, and from five in the evening till about eleven or twelve at night. The night trade is considered the better trade. In cold weather they are frequently bought to warm the hands, and in the morning some buy them for lunch, and some housekeepers send out to the stand for them for their dinner. At night, about nine o'clock, which is found to be the best time in the night, they are purchased for supper. The customers consist of all classes. Many gentlefolks buy them in the street, and take them home for supper in their pockets. The working classes, however, constitute the greater part of the purchasers. Many boys and girls lay out a halfpenny in a baked potato. Irishmen are particularly fond of them, but they are the worst customers; they want the largest potatoes in the can. Women buy a great number of those sold. Some take them home, and some eat them in the street. Three baked potatoes are as much as will satisfy the stoutest appetite. One potato dealer in Smithfield is said to sell about 2½ cwt. of potatoes on a market-day; or, in other words, from 900 to 1,000 potatoes, and to take upwards of £2. My informant tells me that he himself has often sold 1½ cwt. of a day, and taken £1 in halfpence. I am informed that upon an average, taking the good stands with the bad ones, throughout London, there are about 1 cwt. of potatoes sold by each baked-potato man - and there are 159 of these throughout the metropolis - making the total quantity of baked potatoes consumed every day upwards of seven tons. The money spent upon these comes to within a few shillings of £100 (calculating 300 potatoes to the cwt.. and each of those potatoes to be sold at a halfpenny). Hence, there are forty-two tons of baked potatoes eaten in London, and £600 spent upon them, every week during the season. Saturdays and Mondays are found to be the best days for the sale of baked potatoes in those parts of London that are not near the markets; but in those in the vicinity of Clare, Newport, Covent-garden, Newgate, Smithfield, and other markets, the trade is the briskest on the days when the market is held. The hucksters of baked potatoes are many of them broken-down tradesmen. Many of them are labourers who find a difficulty of obtaining employment in the winter time, some of them are costermongers; some have been artisans; indeed, there are some of all classes among them. After the baked potato season is over, the generality of the hucksters take to selling strawberries, raspberries or anything as it comes in season. Some go to labouring work. My informant, who had been a bricklayer's labourer, said that after the season he always looked out for work among the brickIayers, and this kept him employed until the baked potato season came round again. "When I first took to it I was very badly off. My master had no employment for me, and my brother was ill, and so was my wife's sister, and I had no way of keeping 'em, or myself either. The labouring men are mostly out of work in the winter time, so I spoke to a friend of mine, and he told me how he managed every winter, and advised me to do the same. I took to it, and have stuck to it ever since. The trade was much better then. I could buy a hundred-weight of potatoes for 1s. 9d. to 2s. 3d., and there were fewer to sell them. But now I have to pay 5s. 6d. for the very same quantity, and can't sell half as many as I did then. We generally use to a cwt. of potatoes three-quarters of a pound butter - tenpenny salt butter is what we buy - a pennyworth salt, a pennyworth of pepper, and five pennyworth of charcoal. This, with the baking, 9d., brings the expenses to just upon 7s. 6d. per cwt.. and for this our receipts will be 12s. 6d., thus leaving about 5s. per cwt. profit. Hence the average profits of the trade are about 30s. a week - and more to some, said my informant. The man in Smithfield-market, I am credibly informed, clears at the least £3 a week. On the Friday he has a fresh basket of hot potatoes brought to him from the baker's every quarter of an hour. Such is his custom that he has not even time to take money, and his wife stands by his side to do so.
Among the street vendors of fish there is one class who get a living by the sale of fried fish. They purchase their fish at Billingsgate - a species termed dabs. Some are called plaice dabs, and others are called sole dabs. They buy by the pot, which contains from 70 to 80 fish, for which they pay from 1s. to 1s. 6d. per pot. This is the average price the year through. Some have harrows, others pots, and some get porters. They pay for barrows 3d. a day; the pot is given in with the fish, and for porters they pay from 4d. to 6d., according to the load. Some trade upon their own capital, and others borrow enough to purchase stock, for which they pay 1s. in the pound. Those who generally lend stock-money are persons who keep coal-sheds, or shopkeepers. In commencing this business it would require about twenty shillings to start fairly. Sometimes they use linseed oil, sometimes fish oil; but the Jews use salad oil; and in order to give the fish a rich colour they use turmeric, which gives it a yellow cast. Linseed oil averages 8d. per quart, fish oil the same, but salad oil runs from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 8d. per quart. The class generally live in a low neighbourhood, because people object to the bad smell in frying the fish. Boys and girls, as well as men and women, are engaged in selling the fish. They give upon the average 1s. 3d. a pot, which generally contains seventy-five fish, for which they generally get, in selling out at ½d. and ld. a slice, about 3s. 5d. gross profit. Then out of that they have to pay for oil, flour, and fuel to fry them with, about 2s. 6d. to the pot, which leaves a clear profit of 11d, the pot. A pot will take, when they have a good sale, two days in selling. In the summer time their fish will not keep more than a day, but in the winter two or three days. If there are a few left, they generally eat them; but if a great many, they take them out again the next evening about six o'clock. The reason is, because they won't sell in the daytime. Mondays and Saturdays are their best days. In taking the average of these two days throughout the year, they take 2s. 6d. a night on Mondays and Saturdays; on the other nights they take about 1s. 6d. a night average throughout the year. Their chief custom lies among mechanics and labourers in the public-houses. and in the streets various persons buy them. The summer season is their best time; they then average about 5s. a week clear profit; but in the winter, only at the rate of 2s. 6d. a week clear profit. They are out in all kinds of weather. The fried fish vendor whom I saw informed me he had been brought up to the trade of a fishmonger, and had worked at one fishmonger's between seventeen and eighteen years. Since then he has taken to the selling of fried fish. He has a wife and six children "dependent on him for victuals." The Jews fry in salad oil, and eat fish on Friday and Saturday. The reason of their being fried in oil is because dripping takes away the flavour of the fish. Oil makes them superior in flavour. The Jews also use eggs in frying them instead of the turmeric.
Another peculiar class among the street provision merchants are the Vendors of Cough Drops. In preparing the articles which they sell, they purchase their ingredients at different places. Their herbs they purchase at Covent-garden, and their sugar at the grocer's. The sugar they procure is, and must be, the raw material, as other sugar will not cand. They make up, upon the average, 6 lbs. of sugar per day, for which they pay 4½d. per lb., and to every 6 lbs. of sugar it takes about four pennyworth of herbs. When they sell at home they charge a halfpenny the ounce, but when they sell in the street it is dearer, about a penny an ounce; so that their gross income is about the average of 6s. a day. After deducting expenses, their gross earnings average about 2s. 7d. each day. They trade upon their own capital. In order to commence in the line it will take about £3. The still itself costs as much as a sovereign. There are very few in the same line of business. The goods they sell are composed of sugar, which is boiled in the liquor distilled from the herbs. When caught in the rain, their articles lose about three ounces in the pound; and they are unfit for sale till boiled up again. They go out about eleven o'clock in the morning, and return about half-past ten o'clock at night. Holborn is considered to be the best district for the sale of their goods. Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday are the best days of sale. On these days they average about 5s. a day, but on the other days in the week they average only about 2s. per day; and on Sunday mornings they take about 2s. 6d.; making, upon the average, 23s. 6d. gross earnings per week. It costs per week for sugar, coal, charcoal, herbs, and truck, 16s. 6d.; leaving clear profit just 7s. a week. Their tongues, they say, are continually going, from the time they commence selling till they leave off at night, so that when they return they are so hoarse that they can scarcely speak. It is almost impossible to know the various speeches they make to the public upon the excellence and efficacy of their articles for coughs, colds, asthma, and hooping-cough. It is the universal cure-all, they declare, of all diseases of the chest, etc. My informant was brought up as a professional singer, and was in the habit of attending concerts and private parties; he followed his calling till he broke his voice; after which he commenced in the old clothes line, but having no capital, he was obliged to relinquish it, and take to vending fruit; from that he turned to dealing in artificial flowers, and finally he entered into the cough-drop line, which he has followed ever since. When he first began the cough- drop business, he worked with a man at half profit, but finding it not sufficient for the wants of his family, he "fished out the way" to make his own articles. From the sale of them he manages to get along, he says, through rough and smooth. Within these last three weeks he has contrived to open a little shop for the sale of spice, sweetmeats, etc. The way he went to work, he told me, was "by taking up a tally-bill," and then, by pawning the goods purchased, he got enough money to open and stock the little shop; so that while the husband is out with his barrow the wife is at her little shop, which has, since they first opened it, brought them in as much as 5s. a week clear. Their earnings together now amount to 12s. a week upon the average. The house where they live, and the shop they have lately taken, stand them in 4s. a week rent, leaving for their subsistence 8s. a week to keep seven - that is, the man and his wife and five children. Sunday being the only day They are all together, they always make a shift to get a hot dinner on that day.
The Dealers in Watercresses are generally very old or very young people. The cause of this is, that the children are sent out by their parents "to get a loaf of bread somehow" (to use the words of an old man in the trade), and the very old take to it because they are unable to do hard labour, and they strive to keep away from the workhouse. ("I'd do anything before I'd go there - sweep the crossings or anything; but I should have had to have gone to the house before, if it hadn't been for my wife. I'm sixty-two," said one who had been sixteen years at the trade.) The old people are both men and women. The men have been sometimes one thing, and sometimes another. "I've been a porter myself, jobbing about in the markets, or wherever I could get a job to do. Then there's one old man goes about selling watercresses, who's been a seafaring man; he's very old, he is - older than what I am, sir. Many a one has been a good mechanic in his younger days, only he's got too old for labour. The old women have, many of them, been laundresses, only they can't now do the work, you see, and so they're glad to pick up a crust anyhow. Nelly, I know, has lost her husband, and she hasn't nothing else but her few cresses to keep her. She's as good, honest, hard-working a creature as ever were, for what she can do - poor old soul! The young people are most of them girls. There are some boys, but girls are generally put to it by the poor people. There's Mary Macdonald, she's about fourteen. Her father is a bricklayer's labourer. He's an Englishman, and he sends little Mary out to get a halfpenny or two. He gets sometimes a couple of days' work in the week. He don't get more now, I'm sure, and he's got three children to keep out of that; so all on 'em that can work are obligated to do something. The other two children are so small they can't do nothing yet. Then there's Louisa, she's about twelve, and she goes about with cresses, like 1 do. I don't think she's got ne'er a father. I know she's a mother alive, and she sells cresses like her daughter. The mother's about fifty odd, I dare say. The sellers generally go about with an arm-basket, like a greengrocer's, at their side, or a 'shallow' in front of them; and plenty of them carry a small tin tray before them, slung round their neck. Ah! it would make your heart ache if you was to go to Farringdon market early, this cold weather, and see the poor little things there without shoes and stockings, and their feet quite blue with the cold - oh, that they are; and many on 'em don't know how to set one foot before the t'other, poor things! You would say they wanted something give to 'em." The small tin tray is generally carried by the young children. The cresses are generally bought in Farringdon-market. "If we was to go to Covent-garden to buy 'em, we couldn't do nothing with 'em; they are all tied up in market bunches there; but at Farringdon-market they are sold loose, out of big hampers, so they give you a large handful for a penny. The usual time to go to the market is between five and six in the morning, and from that to seven. Myself, I'm generally down in the market by five o'clock. I was there this morning at five, and bitter cold it was, I give you my word. We poor old people feel it dreadful. Years ago I didn't mind cold, but I feel it now cruel bad, to be sure. Sometimes, when I'm turning up my things, I don't hardly know whether I've got 'em in my hands or not - can't even pick off a dead leaf. But that's nothing to the poor little things without shoes. Why, bless you, I've seen 'em stand and cry, two and three together, with the cold. Ah! my heart has ached for 'em over and over again. I've said to 'em, I wonder why your mother sends you out, that I have; and they said they were obligated to try and get a penny for a loaf for breakfast. We buy the watercresses by what is called the 'hand.' One hand will make about five halfpenny bundles; at least they will do so now, for there is not the same sale for them just now as there is in the spring. They give a little more now than they do then for the money." The cresses are sent up by the growers in the country. "A great many come out of Hertfordshire to the salesmen in the market that they are assigned to, and they retails them out. The salesmen are obligated to get a certain price for the hamper, and if they can make any more on it, it goes for themselves. Besides this, they has is. a hamper into the bargain, for the trouble of selling it. A hamper will fetch about 25s. in the spring of the year, and not much above 10s. in the winter. You see, there's more call for 'em in the spring of the year than what there is in the winter. Why, they're reckoned good for sweetening the blood in the spring; but for my own eating, I'd sooner have the cress in the winter than I would have it in the spring of the year. There's an old woman sits in Farringdon market, of the name of Burrows, that's sat there 24 years, and she's been selling out cresses to us all that time. The sellers usually goes to market with a few pence. I myself goes down there and lays out sometimes my 4d.; that's what I laid out this morning. Sometimes I lay out only 2d. or 3d., according as how I has the halfpence in my pocket. Many a one goes down to the market with only three halfpence, and glad to have that to get a halfpenny on anything so as to earn a mouthful of bread - a bellyful, that they can't get no how. Ah, many a time I walked through the streets, and picked a piece of bread that the servants chucked out of the door - maybe to the birds. I've gone and picked it up when I've been right hungry. Thinks I, I can eat that as well as the birds. None of the sellers ever goes down to the market with less than a penny. They won't make less than a pennorth, that's one 'hand;' and if the little thing sells that, she won't earn more than three halfpence out of it. After they have bought the cresses, they generally take them to the pump to wet them. I generally pump upon mine in Hatton-garden. This is done to make them look nice and fresh all the morning, so that the wind shouldn't make them flag. You see, they've been packed all night in the hamper, and they get very dry. Some ties them up in ha'porths as they walks along. Many of them sit down on the steps of St. Andrew's Church, and make them up into bunches. You'll see plenty of them there of a morning between five and six." "Plenty poor little dear souls sitting there," said the old man to me. There the hand of cresses (for which a penny has been given) is parcelled out into five halfpenny bunches. In the summer the dealers often go to market and lay out as much as 1s. "On Saturday morning, this time of year, I buys as many as nine hands; there's more call for 'em on Saturday and Sunday morning than on any other days; and we always has to buy on Saturdays what we want for Sundays - there ain't no market on that day, sir. At the market sufficient cresses are bought by the sellers for the morning and afternoon as well. In the morning some begin crying their cresses through the streets at half-past six, and others about seven. They go to different parts, but there is scarcely a place but what some goes to - there are so many of us now - there's twenty to one to what there used to be. Why, they're so thick down at the market in the summer time, that you might bowl balls along their heads, and all a-fighting for the cresses. There's a regular scramble, I can assure you, to get at 'em, so as to make a halfpenny out of them. I should think in the spring mornings there's 400 or 500 on 'em down at Farringdon market all at one time - between four and five in the morning - if not more than that, and as fast as they keep going out, others keep coming in. I think there is more than a thousand, young and old, about the streets in the trade. The working classes are the principal of the customers. The bricklayers and carpenters, and smiths, and plumbers, leaving work and going home to breakfast at eight o'clock, purchase the chief part of them. A great many are sold down the courts and mews, and bye streets, and very few are got rid of in the squares and the neighbourhood of the more respectable houses. Many are sold in the principal thoroughfares; a large number in the City. There is a man who stands close to the Post-office, at the top of Newgate-street, winter and summer, who sells a great quantity of bunches every morning. This man frequently takes between 4s. and 5s. of a winter's morning, and about 10s. a day in the summer. "Sixteen years ago," said the old man who gave me the principal part of this information, "I could come out and take my 18s. of a Saturday morning, and 8s. on a Sunday morning as well; but now I think myself very lucky if I can take my 1s. 3d., and it's only on two mornings in the week that I can get that." 10s. a day is the largest sum that can possibly be got now in the best time of the year, and where there is the best traffic. But the average amount taken by the hawkers of watercresses on Saturday and Sunday mornings, is now about 1s. each day for the winter, and 2s. per day in the spring. And for the rest of the week, they take, one with the other, about 9d. each day - that is, including the morning and afternoon trade - and is. each day in the spring. In winter they clear about 5d. a day, and in the spring 6d. On Saturday and Sunday, however, they clear 1s. per day in the spring, and 6d. a day in the winter; so that their earnings are about 3s. ld. per week in the winter, and 4s. 6d. a week in the summer. This would make the gross sum spent in watercresses about £400 per week, out of which £200 goes to the support of 1,000 old and young people. The hucksters of watercresses are generally an honest, industrious, striving class of persons. The young girls are said to be well-behaved, and to be the daughters of poor struggling people. The old men and women are persons striving to save themselves from the workhouse. The old and young people generally travel nine and ten miles in the course of the day. They start off to market at four and five, and are out on their morning rounds from seven till nine, and on their afternoon rounds from half-past two to five in the evening. They travel at the rate of two miles an hour. "If it wasn't for my wife, I must go to the workhouse outright," said the old watercress man. "Ah, I don't know what I should do without her, I can assure you. She earns about 1s. 3d. a day. She takes in a little washing, and keeps a mangle. When I'm at home I turn the mangle for her. The mangle is my own. When my wife's mother was alive she lent us the money to buy it, and as we earnt the money we paid her back so much a week. It is that what has kept us together, or else we shouldn't have been as we are. The mangle we gave 50s. for, and it brings us in now 1s. 3d. a day with the washing. My wife is younger than I am. She is about 35 years old. We have got two children. One is 13 and the other 15. They've both got learning, and both in situations. I always sent 'em to school. Though I can't neither read nor write myself, I wished to make them some little scholards. I paid a penny a week for 'em at the school. Lady M- has always given me my Christmas dinner for the last five years, and God bless her for it! - that I do say indeed."
The Sheep's-Trotter Vendors purchase the trotters at the fell-mongers', Bermondsey. They pay 1s. for twelve hands (a hand is a set of four trotters): the price is the same throughout the year. It takes about 10s. to commence in this line of business. "The class who compose this body are mostly a very drunken set; there are some who are different." These are the poorest wretches upon the face of the earth. In the winter the trotters are of good quality; but in the summer they find many of them almost rotten, which they fling away to the dogs, as the people won't buy them. There are some of the class who go to the public-houses. These care not about the quality of their articles, as they sell them to the men when they are half-drunk. The parties who belong to the sheep's-trotter class live in the cheapest rooms they can get; and it is often the case that several of them live in one room together. The parties who sell them generally are the low Irish, but the English sellers generally sell cats' meat with their trotters; so that they can get on better than those who deal in trotters only. If the whole of the trotters were saleable, their profits would be about 7d. or 8d. in the shilling; but upon the average their profits do not amount to above 4d. or 5d. in the shilling. The best day for the sale of their articles is Saturday. They do not average above 6d. a day clear, taking one day with another. Their customers generally consist of errand-boys, prostitutes, and carters. One man, earning his living in this way, told me he and his wife had been in the line six years. Before they engaged in it they lived at Southampton. The husband was a captain's clerk on board a man-of-war. He was discharged in time of peace, without a pension. He was then in the police force, in Ireland and in Southampton, nearly seventeen years. Previously to his entering the police force he was sergeant in the 49th regiment of foot. He enlisted on limited service, so that he was not entitled to a pension. The dealers buy the trotters already boiled, and freed from the wool. It takes them the whole morning to get them ready for sale. Some nights they go out till eleven or twelve at night, and don't take 4d.; at other times about 9d. They never sell a shilling's worth of a night. They don't average 6d. a night, through the week, clear. They often return and have only taken about 2d. or 3d., and have come home dripping with rain. Their average income a week is about 3s. throughout the year. Out of this they pay 1s. 6d. a week rent; so that all they have to subsist upon is 1s. 6d. a week. One party has sometimes received a trifle from one of his daughters, who was in service, but she is now out of a situation. He has another daughter, 25 years of age. She has been paralysed all over ever since she was teething, and some parochial relief is allowed for her, but not for the parents. While they are out selling their trotters they are obliged to lock their poor paralysed child in, "without any one but the Lord to take care of her." The wife suffered very much from an attack of cholera, from which she has not entirely recovered. They have very little bedding. The father lies upon a kind of bed made of rags, with a sheet and blanket to cover him; and the mother lies with the afflicted daughter. The father has an abscess formed in the ear, and is blind with one eye.
The Cat and Dogs' Meat Dealers, or "carriers," as they call themselves, generally purchase the meat at the horse-slaughterers' yards. There are nearly twenty of these in and around London. There are three or four in Whitechapel, one in Wandsworth, two in Cow- cross - one of these is the largest establishment in London - two in Maiden-lane, and two over the water, about Bermondsey. The proprietors of these yards purchase live and dead horses. They contract for these with most large firms - such as brewers, coal- merchants, and large cab and 'bus yards - giving so much per head for their old live and dead horses through the year. The price they pay is from £2 to 50s. the carcase. The horse-slaughterers also have contractors in the country (harness-makers and others), who bring or send up to town for them the live and dead stock of those parts. The dead horses are brought to the yard, two or three upon one cart, and sometimes five. The live ones are tied to the tail of these cans, and behind the tail of each other. Occasionally, a string of fourteen or fifteen are brought up, head to tail, at one time. The live horses are purchased merely for slaughtering. If among the lot purchased there should chance to be one that is young, but in bad condition, this is placed in the stable, and fed up, and then put into their carts, or sold by them, or let on hire. Occasionally a fine horse has been rescued from death in this manner. One person is known to have bought an animal for 15s. for which he afterwards got £150. Frequently young horses that will not work in cabs - such as jibs - are sold to the horse-slaughterers as useless. These are kept in the yard, and after being well fed, often turn out good horses, and are let for hire. The live horses are slaughtered by a class of persons called knackers. These men get upon an average 4s. a day. They begin work at twelve o'clock at night. The reason of this is, that some of the flesh is required to be boiled before six in the morning; indeed, a great part of it is delivered by the carriers before that hour. The horse to be slaughtered has his mane clipped as short as possible (on account of the hair, which is valuable). It is then blinded with a piece of old apron smothered in blood, so that it may not see the slaughterman when about to strike. A pole-axe is used, and a cane, to put an immediate end to their sufferings. After the animal is slaughtered, the hide is taken off, and the flesh cut from the bones in large pieces. These pieces are termed, according to the part from which they are cut, hindquarters, fore-quarters, crambones, throats, necks, briskets, backs. ribs, kidney pieces, hearts, tongues, liver or lights. The bones (they are called the "racks" by the knackers) are chopped up and boiled in order to extract the fat from them. This is used for greasing harness, and the wheels of carts and drags, etc. The bones are afterwards sold for manure. The pieces of flesh are thrown into large coppers or pans, about nine feet in diameter, and about four feet deep. Each of these pans will hold about three good-sized horses. Sometimes two large brewers' horses will fill them, and sometimes as many as four "poor" cab horses may be put into them. The flesh is boiled about an hour and twenty minutes for a "killed" horse, and from two hours to two hours and twenty minutes for a dead horse. The flesh when boiled is taken from the coppers, laid on the stones, and sprinkled with water to cool it. It is then weighed out in pieces of a hundred, half a hundred, twenty-eight, twenty-one. fourteen, seven, and three pounds and a half weight. These are either taken round in a cart to the "carriers," or else at about five o'clock the carriers begin to call at the yard to purchase it themselves, and continue doing so till twelve o'clock in the day. The price is 14s. per cwt. in the winter, and 16s. in the summer time. The tripe is served out at 12 lbs. for 6d. All this is sold for cats and dogs. The carriers then take the meat round town, wherever their walk might lie. They sell it out to the public at the rate of 2½d. per lb., and in small pieces, on skewers, at a farthing, a halfpenny. and a penny each. Some carriers will sell as much as a hundredweight in a day, and about half a hundred-weight is about the average quantity disposed of by the carriers in London. Some sell much cheaper than others. They will frequently knock at the doors of persons whom they have seen served by another on the previous day, and show them that they can let them have a larger quantity of meat for the same money. The class of persons belonging to the business are mostly those who have been unable to obtain employment at their trade. Occasionally a person is bred to it, having been engaged as a lad by some carrier to go round with the barrow and assist him in his business. These boys will, after a time, find a "walk" for themselves, beginning first with a basket, and ultimately rising to a barrow. The barrow and basket, weights and scales, knife and steel, or blackstone, will cost about £2 when new, and from 15s to 4s. second-hand. Many of them give light weight to the extent of 2 oz. and 4 oz. in the pound. It is supposed there are about 300 cats'-meat carriers in and about London. At one yard alone near upon a hundred carriers purchase the meat, and there are, upon an average, 150 horses slaughtered there every week. Each slaughter-house may be said to do, one with another, sixty horses per week throughout the year, and there are from fifteen to twenty of these slaughter-houses. It is believed by one who has been engaged at the business for twenty-five years, that there are from 900 to 1 ,000 horses, averaging 2 cwt. of meat each, little and big, boiled down every week; so that the quantity of cats' and dogs' meat used throughout London is about 200,000 lbs. per week, and this, sold at the rate of 2½d. per lb., gives £2,000 a week for the money spent in cats' meat. The slaughtermen are said to reap large fortunes very rapidly - indeed, the carriers say they coin the money. Many of them retire after a few years, and take large farms. One, after 12 years' business, retired with several thousand pounds, and has now three large farms. The carriers are men, women, and boys. Very few women do as well as the men at it. The carriers are generally sad drunkards. Of the three hundred, it is said two hundred at least spend £1 per head a week in drink. One party in the trade told me that he knew a carrier who would often spend 10s. in liquor at one sitting. The profit they make upon the meat is at present only a penny per pound. In the summer time the profit per pound is reduced to a halfpenny, owing to the meat being dearer on account of its scarcity. The carriers give a great deal of credit - indeed, they take but little ready money. Some days they do not come home with more than 2s. One with a middling walk pays for his meat 7s. 6d. per day. For this he has half a hundred-weight. This he will sell out in pounds, half-pounds, pennyworths, halfpennyworths, and farthingworths, and get as much as 11s. 6d. by it, so that his profit will be 4s. This is about a fair average of the earnings of the trade. One carrier in the trade is said to have amassed £1,000 at the business. He usually sold from 1½ to 2 cwt. per day, so that his profits were generally from 16s. to £1 per day. But the trade is much worse now. There are so many at it, that there is barely a living for any. One carrier assured me that he seldom went less than thirty miles, and frequently forty miles, through the streets every day. The best districts are among the houses of tradesmen, mechanics, and labourers. The coachmen in the mews at the back of the squares are very good customers. "The work lays thicker there," said my informant. Old maids are bad, though very plentiful, customers. They cheapen the carriers down so, that they can scarcely live at the business. They will pay one halfpenny and owe another, and forget that after a day or two. The cats' meat dealers generally complain of their losses from bad debts. Their customers require credit frequently to the extent of £1. "One party owes me l5s. now," said a carrier to me, "and many 10s.; in fact, very few people pay ready money for the meat. The carriers frequently serve as much as ten pennyworths to one person in a day. One gentleman has as much as 4 lbs. of meat per day for two Newfoundland dogs; and there was one woman - a black - who used to have as much as 16 pennyworth every day. This person used to get out on the roof of the house and throw it to the cats on the tiles. By this she brought so many stray cats round about the neighbourhood, that the parties in the vicinity complained; it was quite a nuisance. She would have the meat always brought to her before ten in the morning, or else she would send to a shop for it, and between ten and eleven in the morning the noise and cries of the hundreds of stray cats attracted to the spot was "terrible to hear;" and when the meat was thrown to them on the roof, the riot, and confusion, and fighting, was beyond description. "A beer-shop man," says he, "was obliged to keep five or six dogs to drive the cats from his walls." There was also a mad woman in Islington, who used to have 14 lbs. of meat a day. The party who supplied her had his money often at £2 and £3 at a time. She had as many as thirty cats at times in the house. Every stray one that used to come she used to take in and support. The stench was so great that she was obliged to be moved. The best days for the cats' meat business are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. A double quantity of meat is sold on the Saturday, and on that day and Monday and Tuesday the weekly customers generally pay. "My father was a baker by trade," said a carrier to me, "but through an enlargement of the heart he was obliged to give up working at the trade; leaning over the trough used to increase his complaint so severely, that he used to fall down, and be obliged to be brought home. This induced him to take to the cats' and dogs meat trade, and he brought me up to it. I do pretty comfortably at it. I have a very good business, having been all my life at it. If it wasn't for the bad debts I should do much better; but some of the people I trust leave the houses, and actually take in a double quantity of meat the day before. 1 suppose there is at the present moment as much as £20 owing to me that I never expect to see a farthing of. The generality of the dealers wear a shiny hat, black plush waistcoat and sleeves, a blue apron, and corduroy trousers, and a blue and white spotted handkerchief round their necks. Some. indeed, will wear two and three handkerchiefs round their necks. this being considered fashionable among them. A great many meet every Friday afternoon in the donkey market, Smithfield, and retire to a public-house adjoining, to spend the evening.
The "cats' meat carrier" that supplied me with the above information was more comfortably situated than any of the lower classes that I had yet seen. He lived in the front room of a second floor. in an open and respectable quarter of the town, and his lodgings were the perfection of comfort and cleanliness in an humble sphere. It was late in the evening when I reached the house, and I found the "carrier" and his family preparing for supper. In a large morocco leather easy chair sat the cats' meat carrier himself; his "blue apron and black shiny hat" had disappeared, and he wore a blue "dress" coat and a black satin waistcoat instead. His wife, who was a remarkably pretty woman, and of very attractive manners, wore a "Dolly Varden" cap, placed jauntily at the back of her head, and a drab merino dress. The room was cosily carpeted, and in one corner stood a mahogany crib with cane-work sides, in which one of the children was asleep. On the table was a clean white table-cloth, and the room was savoury with the steaks, and mashed potatoes that were cooking on the fire. Indeed, I have never yet, since I started on my travels, seen such comfort in the abodes of the poor. The cleanliness and wholesomeness of the apartment were doubtless the more striking from the unpleasant associations connected with the calling.