Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Morning Chronicle : Labour and the Poor, 1849-50; Henry Mayhew - Letter XXIX

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Friday, January 25, 1850

"Having investigated the general causes of depredation, of vagrancy, and mendicancy," say the Constabulary Commissioners, in the Government Report of 1839 (p. 181), "as developed by examinations of the previous lives of criminals or vagrants in the gaols, we find that in scarcely any cases is it ascribable to the pressure of unavoidable want or destitution, and that in the great mass of cases it arises from the temptation of obtaining property with a less degree of labour than by regular industry. "Again, on page 68 of the same Report, we are told that "the inquiries made by the most experienced officers into the causes of vagrancy manifest that - in all but three or four per cent. of cases - the prevalent cause was the impatience of steady labour." My investigations into this most important subject lead me, I may add, to the same conclusion. In order to understand the question of vagrancy thoroughly, however, we must not stop here - we must find out what, in its turn, is the cause of this impatience of steady labour; or, in other words, we must ascertain whence comes the desire to obtain property with a less degree of labour than by regular industry. Now all "steady labour" - that is to say, the continuance of any operation for any length of time - is naturally irksome to us. We are all innately erratic - prone to wander both in thought and action; and it is only by a vigorous effort, which is more or less painful to us at first, that we can keep ourselves to the steady prosecution of the same object - to the repeated performance of the same acts - or even to continuous attention to the same subject. Labour and effort are more or less irksome to us all. There are, however, two means by which this irksomeness may be not only removed, but transformed into a positive pleasure; one is, by the excitement of some impulse or purpose in the mind of the workman, and the other, by the inculcation of a habit of working. Purpose and habit are the only two modes by which labour can be rendered easy to us; and it is precisely because the vagrant is deficient in both that he has an aversion to work for his living, and wanders through the country without an object, or indeed a destination. A love of industry is not a gift, but a habit - it is an accomplishment rather than an endowment - and our purposes and principles do not arise spontaneously from the promptings of our own instincts and affections, but are the mature result of education, example, and deliberation. A vagrant, therefore, is an individual applying himself continuously to no one thing, not pursuing any one aim for any length of time - but wandering from this subject to that, as well as from one place to another, because in him no industrial habits have been formed, nor any principle or purpose impressed upon his nature.
    Pursuing the subject still further, we shall find that the cause of the vagrant's wandering through the country - and, indeed, through life - purposeless, objectless, and unprincipled, in the literal and strict meaning of the term, lies mainly in the defective state of our educational institutions; for the vagrants, as a class, it should be remembered, are not "uneducated." We teach a lad reading, writing and arithmetic, and believe that in so doing we are developing the moral functions of his nature, whereas it is often this very ability to read merely - that is to say, to read without the least moral perception - which becomes the instrument of the youth's depravity. The "Jack Sheppard" of Mr. Harrison Ainsworth is borrowed from the circulating library, and read aloud at the low lodging- houses in the evening by those who have a little education, to their companions who have none; and because the thief is there furbished up into the hero - because the author has tricked him out with a certain brute insensibility to danger, made "noble blood flow in his veins," and tinselled him over with all kinds of showy sentimentality - the poor boys who listen, unable to see through the trumpery deception, are led to look up to the paltry thief as an object of admiration, and to make his conduct the beau-ideal of their lives. Of all books, perhaps none has ever had so baneful an effect upon the young mind, taste, and principles as this. None, has ever done more to degrade literature to the level of the lowest licentiousness or to stamp the author and the teacher as guilty of pandering to the most depraved propensities. Had Mr. Ainsworth been with me, and seen how he had vitiated the thoughts and pursuits of hundreds of mere boys - had he heard the names of the creatures of his morbid fancy given to youths at an age when they needed the best and truest counsellors - had he seen these poor little wretches, as I have seen them, grin with delight at receiving the degrading titles of "Blueskin," "Dick Turpin," and "Jack Sheppard" - he would, I am sure, ever rue the day which led him to paint the most abandoned and degraded of our race as the most noble of human beings. What wonder, then, that - taught either in no school at all, or else in that meretricious one which makes crime a glory, and dresses up vice as virtue -these poor lads should be unprincipled in every act they do -that they should be either literally actuated by no principles at all, or else fired with the basest motives and purposes gathered from books which distort highway robbery into an act of noble enterprise, and dignify murder as justifiable homicide.
    Nor are the habits of the young vagrant less cultivated than his motives. The formation of that particular habit which we term industry, and by which the youth is fitted to obtain his living as a man, is perhaps the most difficult part of all education. It commences at an age when the will of the individual is beginning to develop itself, and when the docile boy is changed into the impatient young man. Too great lenity or too strict severity of government, therefore, becomes at this period of life dangerous. If the rule be too lax, the restless youth, disgusted with the monotony of pursuing the same task, or performing the same acts, day after day, neglects his work - till habits of indolence rather than industry are formed, and he is ultimately thrust upon the world without either the means or the disposition of labouring for his living. If, on the other hand, the authority of the parent or master be too rigidly exercised, and the lad's power of endurance be taxed too severely, then the self-will of the youth is called into action; and, growing restive and rebellious under the tyranny of his teachers, he throws off their restraint, and leaves them - with a hatred, instead of a love, of labour engendered within him. That these are two of the primary causes of vagrancy all my inquiries have tended to show. The proximate cause certainly lies in the impatience of steady labour; but the cause of this impatience is referable to the non-formation of any habit of industry in the vagrant - and the absence of this habit of industry is usually due either to the neglect or the tyranny of the lad's parents or master. This is no theory. be it remembered. Whether it be the master of the workhouse where the vagrants congregate every night - whether it be the young vagrant himself, or the more experienced tramp - that speaks upon the subject, all agree in ascribing the vagabondism of youth to the same cause.
    There is, however, another phase of vagrancy still to be explained - viz., the transition of the working man into the regular tramp and beggar. This is the result of a habit of dependence produced in the operative by repeated visits to the casual wards of the unions. A labouring man or mechanic, deprived of employment in a particular town, sets out on a journey to seek work in some other part of the country. The mere fact of his so journeying to seek work shows that he has a natural aversion to become a burden to the parish. He no sooner, however, becomes an inmate of the casual wards, and breakfasts and sups off the bounty of the workhouse, than he learns a most dangerous lesson - he learns how to live by the labours of others. His sense of independence may be shocked at first, but repeated visits to the same places soon deaden his feelings on this score; and he gradually, from continual disuse, loses his habit of labouring - and ultimately, by long custom, acquires a habit of "tramping" through the country and putting up at the casual wards of the unions by the way. Thus what was originally designed as a means of enabling the labouring man to obtain work, becomes the instrument of depriving him of employment by rendering it no longer a necessity for him to seek it: and the independent workman is transformed after a time into the habitual tramper, and finally into the professional beggar and petty thief. Such characters, however, form but a small proportion of the great body of vagabonds continually traversing the country.
    The vagrants are essentially the non-working, as distinguished from the hard-working, men of England.. They are the very opposite to the industrious classes, with whom they are too often confounded. Of the really destitute working men among the vagrants seeking relief at the casual wards, the proportion is very small - the respectable mechanics being deterred by disgust from herding with the filth, infamy, disease, and vermin congregated in the tramp wards of the unions, and preferring the endurance of the greatest privations before subjecting themselves to it. "I have had this view confirmed by several unfortunate persons, says Mr. Boase, in the Poor-law Report on Vagrancy - "they were apparently mechanics out of employment, who spoke of the horrors passed in a tramp ward, and of their utter repugnance at visiting such places again." "The poor mechanic," says the porter at the Holborn workhouse, "will sit in the casual wards like a lost man - scared. It's shocking to think a decent mechanic's houseless," he adds. "When he's beat out, he's like a bird out of a cage; he doesn't know where to go, or how to get a bit." But the highest tribute ever paid to the sterling honesty and worth of the working men of this country, is to be found in the testimony of the master of the Wandsworth and Clapham Union. "The destitute mechanics," he says, "are entirely a different class from the regular vagrant; they have different habits, and, indeed, different features. They are strictly honest. During the whole of my experience I never knew a distressed artisan who applied for a night's shelter commit an act of theft; and I have seen them," he adds, "in the last stage of destitution. Occasionally they have sold the shirt and waistcoat off their backs before they applied for admittance into the workhouse, while some of them have been so weak from long starvation that they could scarcely reach the gate - and indeed had to be kept for several days in the infirmary before their strength was recruited sufficiently to continue their journey." For myself I can safely say that my own experience fully bears out this honourable declaration of the virtues of our working men. Their extreme patience under the keenest privations is a thing that the wisest philosophers might envy; their sympathy and charity for their poorer brethren far exceeds, in its humble way, the benevolence and bounty of the rich; while their intelligence, considering the little time they have for study and reflection, is almost marvellous. In a word, their virtues are the spontaneous expressions of their simple natures, and their vices are the comparatively pardonable excesses consequent upon the intensity of their toil. I say thus much in this place, because I am anxious that the public should no longer confound the honest independent working men with the vagrant beggars and pilferers of the country, and that they should see that the one class is as respectable and worthy as the other is degraded and vicious.
    Let me now endeavour to arrive at some estimate as to the number and cost of the vagrant population.
    There were, according to the Returns of the Poor-law Commissioners, 13,547 vagrants relieved in and out of the workhouses in England and Wales, on the 1st July, 1848. In addition to these, the Occupation Abstract informs us that, on the night of 6th June, 1841, when the last census was taken, 20,348 individuals were living in barns and tents. But in order to arrive at a correct estimate of the total number of vagrants throughout the country, we must add to the above numbers the inmates of the trampers' houses. Now, according to the report of the Constabulary Commissioners. there were in 1839-

Mendicants' Lodging-houses.

 Lodgers. Total. No. of Inmates

In London

221 averaging 11 or 2,431

In Liverpool

176 6 1,056


69 7 483


14 9 126


11 3 33


78 3 234

Chester (see Report, p. 35)

150 3 450

    Moreover, the same Report tells us, at p. 32, that there is a low lodging- house for tramps in every village. By the Post-office Directory there are 3,823 postal towns in England and Wales; and assuming that each of these. upon an average, harbours every night three tramps (as many as 30 and even 35 have been found in one house, says the Constabulary Commissioners' Report, page 35), we have 11,469 for the total number of the inmates of such houses. Now, adding all these sums together, we have the following -


In the workhouses


In barns and tents


In the mendicants' houses of London

Ditto Liverpool 1,056
Ditto Bristol 483
Ditto Bath 126
Ditto Kingston-on-Hull 33
Ditto Newcastle-on-Tyne 234
Ditto Chester 450
Ditto other postal towns 11,469
[total] 50,177
Deduct 5 percent. for characters really destitute and deserving  2,508
Total number of habitual vagrants in England and Wales  47,669

    The cost of these vagrants may be computed as follows: -  On the night of the 1st of July, 1848, there were 13,547 vagrants relieved throughout  England and Wales; but I am informed by the best authorities on the subject, that one-third of this number only can be fairly estimated as receiving relief every night throughout the year at the different unions. Now, the third of 13,547 is 4,515, and this multiplied by 365, gives 1,647,975 as the total number of vagrants relieved throughout England and Wales during the year 1848. The cost of each of these is estimated at 2d. per head per night for food, and this makes the total sum expended in their relief amount to ?13,733 2s. 6d. In addition to this we must estimate the sum given in charity to the mendicants, or carried off surreptitiously by the petty thieves frequenting the tramping-houses. The sums thus abstracted from the public may be said to amount at the lowest to 6d. per day for each of the trampers not applying for relief at the workhouses. (In the Constabulary Report, p. 11, the earnings of the petty thieves are estimated at l0s. per week, and those of the beggars at 3s. 6d. per day, p. 24). Hence we have the following account of the total cost of the vagrants of England and Wales: -

Sum given in relief to the vagrants at the workhouses ?13,733 2s 6d
Sum abstracted by them, either by begging or pilfering on the road. ?138,888 11s 8d
[total] ?152,621 14s 2d
As 5 per cent, must be taken off this for the truly deserving ?7,631 1s 8d
The total cost will be ?144,990 12s 6d

By this it appears that the total number of professional vagrants dispersed throughout England and Wales amounts to 47,669. These live at the expense of the industrious classes, and cost the country no less than ?144,990 l2s. 6d. per annum.
    There are, then, no less than 47,669 individuals of the lowest, the filthiest, and most demoralised classes, continually wandering through the country; in other words, there is a stream of vice and disease - a tide of iniquity and fever, continually flowing from town to town, from one end of the land to the other. "One of the worst concomitants of vagrant mendicancy," says the Poor-law Report, "is the fever of a dangerous typhoid character, which has universally marked the path of the mendicants. There is scarcely a workhouse in which this pestilence does not prevail in a greater or less degree, and numerous union officers have fallen victims to it." Those who are acquainted with the exceeding filth of the persons frequenting the casual wards, will not wonder at the fever which follows in the wake of the vagrants. "Many have the itch. I have seen," says Mr. Boase, "a party of twenty almost all scratching themselves at once, before settling into their rest in the straw. Lice exist in great numbers upon them."
    That vagrancy is the nursery of crime, and that the habitual tramps are first the beggars, then the thieves, and, finally, the convicts of the country, the evidence of all parties goes to prove. There is, however, a curious corroboration of this fact to be found by referring to the period of life at which both crime and vagrancy seem to be in their zenith. It will perhaps, be remembered that in my first communication upon this subject, I published a table of the ages of the vagrants frequenting the Asylums for the Houseless Poor, and drew attention to the fact that the majority were between fifteen and twenty-five years old; I now subjoin a table of the ages of the criminals, taken from the Government returns for the year 1848, showing precisely the same result:

    The ages of criminals had for several years progressively shown an increased proportion of the younger criminals. The apparent sudden decrease last year of offenders under the ages of 15 must be attributed to the operation of the statute 10 and 11 Vic., c. 82, passed in July, 1847, which empowers justices to punish summarily for simple larceny offenders whose ages do not exceed 14 years, thus removing many of such cases from the Criminal Tables, in which they had previously appeared as indictable offences.


1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848

Aged under 15 years

1,672 1,670 1,596 1,549 1,640 1,767 1,087
15 and under 20 years 6,884 6,725 6,190 5,850 6,136 6,967 7,232
20 " 25 7,731 7,200 6,399 5,881 5,856 6,625 7,637
25 " 30 4,781 4,419 3,924 3,471 3,655 4,209 4,672
30 " 40 5,274 4,839 4,079 3,805 3,972 4,823 5,099
40 " 50 2,592 2,399 2,202 1,987 2,120 2,464 2,610
50 " 60 1,183 1,041 1,049 874 859 1,033 1,040
60 years and above 573 547 524 418 456 528 530
Ages not ascertained 619 748 579 468 413 417 442

The relative state of the commitments, with respect to the ages of the criminals, is, however, more clearly exhibited in the subjoined table, which gives the relative proportion per 100, and is not, like the preceding, disturbed by the fluctuations in the numbers committed. From this table it appears that nearly one-half the commitments last year were of persons between the ages of 15 and 25.


1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848

Aged under 15 years

5.3 5.7 6.0 6.4 6.5 6.1 3.6
15 and under 20 years 22.0 22.7 23.3 24.1 24.5 24.2 23.8
20 " 25 24.7 24.3 24.1 24.2 23.3 23.0 25.2
25 " 30 15.3 14.9 14.9 14.3 14.6 14.7 15.4
30 " 40 16.8 16.4 15.3 15.6 15.8 16.7 16.8
40 " 50 8.3 8.1 8.3 8.2 8.4 8.5 8.6
50 " 60 3.8 3.5 3.9 3.6 3.4 3.6 3.4
60 years and above 1.8 1.9 2.0 1.7 1.8 1.8 1.7
Ages not ascertained 2.0 2.5 2.2 1.9 1.7 1.4 1.5

I will now endeavour to arrive at an estimate as to the number of vagrants generally located in London. The following table shows the number of vagrants admitted into the metropolitan unions during 1848 and 1849. The cause of the extraordinary decrease exhibited in the returns of last year has been before explained.


Population First Quarter ending Christmas Second Quarter ending Lady-day Third Quarter ending Midsummer Fourth Quarter ending Michaelmas Total Total
1847 1848 1848 1849 1848 1849 1848 1849 1848 1849


26830 3502 2667 1369 1233 5580 7 4425 10 14866 3917


40177 2480 4507 1985 4146 2604 5189 2849 1357 9918 15199


22722 2014 162 805 157 1352 452 1137 246 5308 1017

St. George, Hanover-square

66453 50 - 10 - - - - - 60 -

St. Margaret's, Westminster

56481 1514 2575 2973 1809 2100 1815 2339 1211 8926 7410

St. Martin's-in-the-Fields

25195 3875 847 3637 428 2718 536 - 12 10230 1823

St. James's, Westminster

37398 96 139 127 86 104 86 79 61 416 371


138164 - - - - - - - - - -


25173 48 1450 566 1455 1438 1525 1176 948 3228 5378


10093 - - - - - - - - - -


128479 3762 7427 2982 4439 6097 3911 7422 4082 20263 19859


55690 944 944 823 374 2439 2518 1148 725 6079 4561


42274 89 210 76 123 280 308 245 192 690 833

St. Giles

54292 106 174 106 132 100 86 244 189 556 581


43894 663 62 1063 6 3040 - 63 - 4829 68


53045 6309 1808 3346 2234 4302 2708 3072 1197 15029 7947


56756 115 32 42 5 115 26 25 14 297 88

St. Luke's

49829 691 575 840 1086 1258 1251 1293 497 4083 3409

East London

39655 1720 962 1116 1390 1863 1975 1176 585 5875 4912

West London

33629 3915 2481 2873 2279 3966 2914 3264 2103 14018 9777

City of London

55967 8703 5709 8181 476 11090 384 9732 256 36706 6825


83432 959 1585 721 1274 1121 1954 1399 1108 4200 5921


74087 291 441 315 227 454 538 501 415 1561 1620


71758 4654 1074 4454 612 4552 1123 3744 495 17404 3304

St. George-in-the-East

41351 5228 31 4572 - 7977 - 5713 - 23290 31


90657 4229 4804 4318 3428 6564 3984 6243 1656 21354 12869


31091 2838 835 3463 474 5019 278 2516 150 13836 1737

St. Saviour's, Southwark

32980 30 7 7 8 - - - - 37 15

St. Olave's, Southwark

18427 - - - - - - - - - -


34947 - - - - - - - - - -

St. George, Southwark

46622 272 2673 1176 2316 1240 1010 1484 919 4172 6918


54606 2196 3796 4022 1841 5025 132 4217 206 15460 5975


115883 10221 483 7530 674 4917 873 3358 486 26026 2516


39853 244 784 3374 1257 5730 1344 18558 463 13406 3848


39867 907 768 706 463 1625 793 1122 80 4360 2104


13916 375 445 161 439 399 917 353 826 1288 2627


80811 2977 283 2436 384 4761 481 4908 256 15082 1404


23013 13 2 4 - 18 7 43 3 78 12
Total 76230 51700 70180 35255 99846 38325 77198 20748 310058 143064

The total number of vagrants in the metropolis may be calculated as follows: - There were 310,058 vagrants relieved at the metropolitan unions during the year 1848. (1 take the Metropolitan returns of 1848, because those for England and Wales published as yet only extend to that year.) As the vagrants never remain two days in the same place, we must divide this amount by 365, in order to ascertain the number of vagrants resident at one and the same time in London. This gives us 849 for the average number relieved each night in the whole of the metropolitan unions. To this we must add the 2,431 tramps residing in the 221 metropolitan mendicants' lodginghouses (averaging 11 inmates each); and the sum of these must be further increased by the 750 individuals relieved nightly at the asylums for the houseless poor (including that of Market-street, Edgeware-road) - for the majority of these seldom or never make their appearance in the casual wards of the metropolis, but are attracted to London solely by the opening of these establishments. Hence the account will stand as follows: -

Average number of vagrants relieved each night in the metropolitan unions   849
Average number of vagrants resident in the mendicants' lodging-houses of London     2,431
Average number of individuals relieved at the metropolitan asylums for the houseless poor 750
[total] 4,030

Now, as 5 per cent, of this amount is said to consist of characters really destitute and deserving, we arrive at the conclusion that there are 3,829 vagrants in London, living either by mendicancy or theft.
    The cost of the vagrants in London in the year 1848 may be estimated as follows: - 

310,058 vagrants relieved at the metropolitan unions at the cost of 2d. per head  ?2,584 13s 0d
67,500 nights' lodgings afforded to the houseless-poor at the metropolitan asylums, including the West-end Asylum, Market-street, Edgeware-road  ?3,134  1s  4?d
2,431 inmates of the mendicants' lodging-houses in London, gaining upon an average ls. per day, or altogether per year .... ?44,365 15s 0d
[total] ?50,084  9s 4?d
Deduct 5 percent. for the cost of the relief for the truly deserving. ?2,504  4s 5d
The total will then be ?47,580 4s 11?d

    It appears, then, that there are 3,829 habitual vagrants in the metropolis, and the cost for their support annually amounts to ?47,580 4s. 11d.
    The number of metropolitan vagrants is considerably increased on the eve of any threatened disturbances or any large open-air meeting in London. For several days previous to the Chartist display, in 1848, there was an influx of 100 tramps over and above the ordinary quantity, each day, at one union alone in the suburbs of London; and the master assured me that on the night of the meeting on Kennington-common, he overheard the inmates of the casual ward boasting how they had assisted in pillaging the pawnbroker's house that was broken into on that afternoon. Well might the master of the Wandsworth and Clapham union say, therefore, that the vagrants form one of the most restless, discontented, vicious, and dangerous elements of society. Of these we have seen that there are nearly 50,000 dispersed throughout the country, about 4,000 of whom are generally located in London. These constitute, in the words of the same gentleman, the main source from which the criminals are continually recruited and augmented.
    I was desirous of ascertaining some information concerning the routes of the vagrants, and the reasons why they frequent one district or county more than another. It will be seen from the following table, computed from the Poor-law Returns for the 1st July, 1848, that the vagrants were far from equally distributed over the country at that period: -








West Riding




























East Riding
















North Riding




























































    In order to discover the cause of this unequal distribution, I sought out a person, whom I knew to be an experienced tramper, and who had offered to give any information that I might require upon the subject. There was a strange mystery about the man. It was evident, both from his manner and his features, that he had once been well to do in the world. He was plainly not of the common order of vagrants, though his dress was as filthy and ragged as that of the generality of the class.
    "I have been right through the country on the tramp," he said, "about six or seven summers. What I was formerly I do not wish to state. I have been much better off. I was, indeed, in receipt of a very large income at one time; but it matters not how I lost it. I would rather that remained a secret. You may say that I lost it through those follies and extravagances that are incident both to the higher and lower classes; but let it pass. You want to know about the habits and characters of the vagrants generally, and there is no necessity for my going into my private history, further than saying, I was a gentleman once, and I am a vagrant now. I have been so for the last six years. I generally start off into the country about April or May. I stay, after the refuges are closed, until such time as I have tired of all the unions in and around London. I go into the country because I am known at all the casual wards in the metropolis, and they will not let a tramper in a second time if they know it, except at the City of London, and there I have been allowed to stay a month together. The best of the casual wards used to be in Bermondsey, but they are closed there now, I believe, as well as many of the others; but the vagrants seldom think of going to the London unions until after the refuges are closed, because at the refuges the accommodation is better, and no work is required. I know that the vagrants come purposefully to London in large bodies about the end of December, on purpose to sleep at the refuges for the winter. I myself always made it a point to come up to town every winter, so as to have my lodgings for nothing at the refuge, not being able to get it by any other means. There are at the refuges, of course, many worthy objects of charity. I have met with men who have become destitute certainly not through any fault of their own - a good many of such persons I have found. But still the greater number at such places are persons who are habitual vagabonds and beggars, and many thieves. As the refuges are managed at present, I consider they do more harm than good. If there were no such places in London in the winter, of course I, and such as are like me, would have been driven to find shelter at our parishes; whereas the facilities they afford for obtaining a night's shelter - to the vagabond, as well as the destitute - are such that a large number of the most depraved and idle classes are attracted to London by them. I believe some such places to be necessary, in order to prevent persons dying of cold and starvation in the streets, but they should be conducted on a different plan. You see I tell you the truth, although it may be against my own interest. After these refuges are closed, and the unions round the suburbs are shut against me, as far as Richmond, Kingston, Bromley, Romford, Greenwich, Stratford, and similar distances from the metropolis, I generally proceed upon my travels for the summer. Those who make a practice of sleeping at the casual wards are vagrants either by nature, by habit, or by force of circumstances. They generally support themselves by begging or thieving, and often by both. They are mostly boys from about 9 up to 20 years of age. The others are principally Irish beggars, and a very few are labourers and mechanics out of work. The youths I believe to be, with some exceptions, naturally bad, and almost irreclaimable.I know that many of them have been made vagrants by harsh treatment at home; they have run away. They have been threatened to be punished, generally for going to some place of amusement, as Greenwich Fair or penny gaffs' - that is to the low theatres; and, being afraid to return, they have sought shelter, first at the low lodging-houses, and, when they have had no money left, they have gone to the casual wards of the unions. Other boys have contacted bad habits from being allowed by their parents to run about the streets and pick up vagabond companions. These soon initiate them into their mode of life, and they then leave their homes in order to follow it. This is the way that most of the lads are depraved. I am sure that the fault lies more with the parents than with the boys themselves. The lads are either neglected or ill-treated in their youth. Some of the lads are left destitute; they are left orphans - probably to the care of some distant relation or friend - and the lads very soon find that they are not treated or cared for like the other members of the family, and they take to the streets. The majority of the vagrants are very sharp, intelligent lads, and I believe they are induced to take to a vagabond life by the low lodging- houses, the casual wards, and the refuges. These make shelter and provision so easy to them that they soon throw off the restraint of their parents or guardians. Were there a greater difficulty of obtaining food and lodging, I am sure that there would certainly not be the number of juvenile vagrants that there are. The Irish people who resort to the casual wards are beggars at heart and soul. Many of them, I know, have lodgings of their own, and they will give them up at the time the refuges are open. Some I have known to go into the refuge with the whole of their family on the Saturday night, and stop all Sunday, till the Monday morning, for the express purpose of obtaining the bread and cheese which is given away there on the Sunday. The children have the same allowance as the parents, and the mother and father take all the young ones they can into the place, to get the greater quantity. This they take back home with them, and it serves to keep them the greater part of the week. The Irish, I think, do not make a point of travelling the country so much as the English vagrants. When they go into the provinces, it is generally to get work at harvesting, or tato getting, or hop picking; not like the English, for the mere sake of vagabondizing. The low Irish do better in London. They are the best beggars we have. They have more impudence and more blarney, and therefore, they do much better than we can at it. A very large portion of the Irish beggars in London are in possession of money, which they have secreted about them in some way or other. I recollect seeing one Irishman have 8s. taken from him by the vagrant boys in the casual ward of St. George's workhouse, in the Borough. The boys generally suspect the Irish vagrants of having money on their persons; and I have often seen a number of them hold, or as they call it, small-gang,' an Irish beggar in the darkness of the casual wards, while some of the other boys rifled the Irishman's pockets. The labourers and mechanics are generally the only parties to be found in the casual wards who are driven there through destitution. I have known many an honest, industrious working man, however, made a regular beggar and vagrant by continuous use of the casual wards. They are driven there first by necessity, and then they learn that they can live in such places throughout the year without working for their livelihood. Many a hardworking man, I am convinced, is made idle and dishonest by such means - yes, that is the case.  There are some that I know who have been going the round of the different refuges for not less than seven - aye, you may say for nine years. They were originally labouring men, or mechanics, and had given over all thoughts of working, finding there was no necessity to do so in order to live. The regular vagrant leaves town every year about April or the beginning of May. A very large portion of the wandering beggars and thieves would remain in town if they were allowed to remain longer in their nightly haunts; but after the closing of the refuges the system of not permitting them to sleep more than one night in the same union forces them to be continually on the move - so they set off immediately they have made themselves known at all the workhouses round the metropolis. The boys will mostly go in small gangs of twos and threes. Before they start, they generally pick up, from some other gang whom they meet in the London wards, the kind of treatment and relief they will receive at the country unions, and they regulate their journey accordingly; and they will very often go one or two days' march out of their way in order to avoid some union that has a bad character among them, or to get to some other union where the accommodation is good, and the work required of them very slight. Often they will go miles round to get to some gentleman's seat or hall where provisions are known to be distributed. I have heard boys of twelve years of age tell every union between London and Newcastle. The majority of them seldom go further than there; some will go on to Edinburgh, but not many. They would know what kind of treatment and provision would be obtained at each union, and what form of application was necessary in order to gain admittance. Very many of them will go from London, first into Essex (the unions are good there, and the stages not long); then perhaps through Suffolk, keeping tolerably near the coast, because the shipping is attractive to most boys of their age; thence they will proceed by long or short stages (according to the distance of the unions), through Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Few of the vagrants miss Leeds - there being a mendicity asylum in the town, where a good night's lodging is given to them, and 3d. or 41., and in some cases 6d. (according to the apparent worthiness of the applicant) is bestowed upon each. I believe the habitual vagrants will go three or four stages out of the direct road to make Leeds in their way. From here they will go in different directions towards Durham and Northumberland - or, perhaps, to Manchester, where there is a society of the same kind as at Leeds, supported by the Quakers, where similar relief is afforded. At Northumberland the body of vagrants generally turn back and begin to steer southward. Some, indeed, will go as far as Berwick; but as the relief afforded in Scotland is not obtained as readily as in England, they seldom, as I have said, proceed northwards beyond that point. The Scotch are too far north' for the regular English tramp. It is true they sometimes give them a little barley cake, but from all I have heard the vagrants fare very poorly beyond Berwick. From Northumberland they turn off towards Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire; and then many will go off through Cheshire into North Wales, and thence round again into Shropshire. Others will wander through Staffordshire and Derbyshire, but most of them centre in Birmingham - that is a favourite meeting-place for the young vagrants. There they make a point of tearing up their clothes, because for this offence they are committed to Warwick Gaol for a month, and have a shilling on being discharged from the prison. It is not the diet of Warwick Gaol that induces them to do this, but the shilling. Frequently they tear up their clothes in order to get a fresh supply. You see, sir, from continually sleeping in their clothes, and never washing their bodies, or changing their shirts - even if they have such things to change - they get to swarm with vermin to such an extent that they cannot bear them upon their bodies. Oh! I have seen such sights sometimes - such sights as any decent cleanly person would not credit. I have seen the lice on their clothes in the sunshine, as thick as blight on the leaves of trees. When their garments from this cause get very uncomfortable for them, they will tear them up for the purpose of forcing the parish officers to give them fresh ones. From Birmingham they will come up, generally through Northampton and Hertford, to London - for by this time either the refuges will be about opening, or the lads will have been forgotten at the unions in and around the metropolis. They say that London is fresh to them, when, owing either to long absence or some alteration in their appearance, they are looked upon as strangers by the masters or porters of the workhouses. London, on the other hand, they say, is dead to them, when they have to become too well known at such places. Some will make only a short turn out of London, going across the country through Sussex, Hampshire, and Wiltshire. Hampshire they are attracted to in large numbers, in consequence of the charity distributed at Winchester." (It will be seen by the Table above given that Southampton stands very high among the places upon the vagrant list). "In these parts the vagrants keep crossing the country to various reliefs', as they call it, and so manage to spin out nearly two months in the autumn. The vagrants mostly go down with the fashionables to the seaside in the latter part of the year - the practised beggars in particular. In the spring they usually make for the north of England. I believe there are more beggars and tramps in Durham, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire than in half of the other part of England put together." (See Table.) "Begging is more profitable there than in any other quarter of the kingdom. A man may pick up more provisions in the day-time in those counties than anywhere else. The farmers are more liberal in those parts, which are great places for pudding, pies, and cakes, and of these the young tramps and beggars are remarkably fond. Round about these parts the tramps pass the summer, If the weather is fine and mild, they prefer 'skippering it' - that is, sleeping in an outhouse or hay field to going to a union. They have no trouble in getting scran' or provisions there, and they object to the work connected with the casual wards. In the autumn they are mostly in Sussex or Kent; for they like the hop picking. It is not hard work, and there are a great many loose girls to be found there. I believe many a boy and man goes hop picking who never does anything else during the year but beg. The female tramps mostly go down to Kent to pick up their young chaps,' as they call them; and with them they travel through the country as long as they can agree, or until either party meets with someone they are better pleased with, and then they leave the other, or bury them, as they term it. The Irish vagrants are mostly to be found on the roads from Liverpool, or from Bristol to London. I should think that at the end of June the roads must be literally covered with the Irish families tramping to London. They come over in boatfuls, without a penny in their pockets, to get a little work during the harvesting and hop picking. Such of them as make up their minds to return to their country after the autumn, contrive, by some means, to send their money to Ireland, and then they apply to the English parishes to send them home. It is very rare indeed that the low Irish go to the expense of paying for their lodging, even when they have money. They make a point of going to the unions, where they not only get a nightly shelter, but a pound of bread for nothing. Whatever money they have they generally give to some countryman, who is their banker, and he sleeps in another place for fear he should be searched or robbed at the casual wards. The Irish are mostly filthy and diseased. They live upon little or nothing, and on the worst kind of provision that can be bought, even though it be not fit for human food. They will eat anything. The Irish tramp lives solely by begging. It has often atonished me, sir, that there are scarcely any Welsh tramps. I suppose this comes from the industry of the people. The English tramp lives by begging and stealing - I think mostly by stealing - a thorough tramp gets more that way than the other. If he goes to the back-door of a house on the pretence of begging, and sees any linen or brushes, or shoes, or indeed even a bit of soap, he will be off with it, and sell it - mostly to the keeper of some low lodging-house where he may put up for the night. They seldom commit highway robberies, and are generally the very lowest and meanest of thieves. No one can imagine, but those who have gone through it, the horror of a casual ward of a union; what with the filth, the vermin, the stench, the heat, and the noise of the place, it is intolerable. The usual conversation is upon the adventures of the day. One recounts how he stole this thing, and another that. Some tell what police are stationed in the different towns, and others what places to go to either to beg, rob or sleep; and others what places to beware of. I have passed seven years of my life in this way, and I have been so used to tramping about, that when the spring comes round I must be on the move. In the winter there is more food to be picked up in London than in the country, and the beggars seldom will make a good thing of it in the cold weather. I have met with beggars in Carnarvon who had come all the way from London for the express purpose of begging from the visitors to the Snowdon Mountains. There are very few houses round about, but a good deal is picked up from the company coming to the hotels.
    I shall now conclude this account of the numbers, costs, and character of the vagrants of the country and the metropolis with the narratives of two female tramps. 
    The first - a young woman, twenty years of age - gave me the following statement. Her face what the vulgar would call, "good looking," as her cheeks were full and deep coloured, and her eyes tolerably bright, and her teeth good. She was very stout, too. Her dress was tolerably clean and good, but sat close about her, as if she had no under clothing. 
    She said: - "I am a native of ,where my father was a woolcomber. I was an only child. I can't remember my mother - she died when I was so young. My father died more than four years ago. I've heard as much since I left home. I was sent to the National School. I can read, but can't write. My father went to work at Wellington (in Somersetshire), taking me with him, when I was quite a little girl. He was a good father and very kind, and we had plenty to eat. I think of him sometimes. It makes me sorrowful. He would have been sadly distressed if he had seen me in this state. My father married again, when I was twelve, I suppose. He married a factory woman. She was about thirty. She wasn't good to me. She led me a dreadful life, always telling my father stories of me, that I was away when I wasn't, and he grumbled at me. He never beat me, but my stepmother often beat me. She was very bad- tempered, and I am very bad-tempered too - very passionate; but, if I'm well treated, my passion doesn't come out. She beat me with anything that came first to hand - as the hearth-brush, and she flung things at me. She disliked me, because she knew I hated my father marrying again. I was very happy before that, living with my father. I could cook dinner for him, young as I was - make his bed, and all those sort of things - all but his washing. I had a bed to myself. My father was a good man. He came home drunk sometimes, but not often. It never made any difference in him, he was always kind. He seemed comfortable with my stepmother, but I wasn't. I used to tell my father how she used me, but he said it was nonsense. This went on till I was 15, when I ran away. I'm sure I had been a good girl till then. I never slept out of my lather's house up to that time, and didn't keep company with any young men. I could stand my step-mother's treatment no longer. If she had been kind I wouldn't have run away. I was almost as big then as lam now. I had 4s. or 5s. with me. I don't remember just how much, I started in such a passion - but it was money I had saved up from what my father had given me. I took no clothes with me but what I had on. I was tidily dressed. It was in the haymaking time, and I made straight away to London. I was so young and in such a rage, I couldn't think of nothing but getting away. When I cooled I began to think of my father, but at home I had heard of young girls being sent out to Australia and having done well, and I thought I could easily get sent out from London, and so I went on. I slept in lodging-houses. I was shocked the first night I got into Bridgwater. Men, women, and boys all sleeping in the same room. I slept with another young woman - a travelling woman but married. I couldn't think of going back - I couldn't humble myself before that stepmother. I thought anything would be better than that. I couldn't sleep at all the first night I was out. I never was in such a bed before. A young man who saw me there wanted me to live with him - he was a beggar, and I didn't like a beggar, and I wouldn't have nothing to say to him. He wasn't impudent; but he followed me to Bristol, all the time, whenever I met with him teasing me to live with him. I lived on my money as long as I could, and then had to go to sleep in a union. I don't know where. It was a dreadful place. The rats ran over my head while I slept; and I prayed for daylight - for I used to pray then. I don't now. I don't like the thoughts of it. At last, I got to London. I was sitting in Hyde-park thinking where I should go. I know it was Hyde-park, for I was taken up from it since. The park-keeper took me up for making a noise - that's a disturbance, in the park - me and some other young women; we were only washing ourselves where the horses drink, near the canteen. In Hyde-park, while I was sitting, as I've told you, some girls and some young men, and some older men, passed me, carrying rakes. I was sitting with three other girls I'd got acquainted with on the road - all Irish girls. The people that passed me said, 'We are going half-way to Watford, a haymaking; go with us.' We all went. Each of those Irish girls soon took up with a mate. I think they had known each other before. I had a fortnight at haymaking. I had a mate at haymaking, and in a few days he ruined me. He told the master that I belonged to him. He didn't say I was his wife. They don't call us their wives. I continued with him a longtime, living with him as his wife. We next went into Kent harvesting, then a hopping, and I've been every summer since. He was kind to me, but we were both passionate, fire against fire, and we fought sometimes. He never beat me but once, for contradicting him. He wasn't jealous, and he had no reason to be so. I don't know that he was fond of me, or he wouldn't have run away. I liked him, and would have gone through trouble for him. I like him still. We never talked about marrying. I didn't care, for I didn't think about it. I lived with him, and was true to him, until he ran away in haymaking time in 1848. He ran away from me in Kent, where we were hopping. We hadn't quarrelled for some days before he started. I didn't think he was going, for he was kind tome just before. I left him once for a fortnight myself, through some quarrel, but he got me back again. I came up to London in a boat from Gravesend with other hoppers. I had l5s. I had saved up. I lived on that as long as it lasted -more than a week. I lodged near the Dials, and used to go drinking with other women I met there, as I was fond of drink then. I don't like it so much now. We drank gin and beer. I kept to myself until my money was gone, and then I looked out for myself. I had no particular friends. The women I drank with were some bad and some good. I got acquainted with a young girl as I was walking along the Strand, looking out for my living (by prostitution) - I couldn't starve. We walked together. We couldn't stay in the Strand, where the girls were well dressed, and so we kept about the Dials. I didn't think much about the life I was leading, because I got hardened. I didn't like it, though. Still I thought I should never like to go home. I lodged in a back street near the Dials. I couldn't take anybody there. I didn't do well. I often wanted money to pay my lodgings, and food to eat, and had often to stay out all night, perishing. Many a night out on the streets I never got a farthing, and had to walk about all day because I durs'n't go back to my room without money. I never had a fancy man. There was all sorts in the lodging-house - thirty of them - pickpockets, and beggars, and cadgers, fancy men, but I never saw one that I liked. I never picked pockets as other girls did; I was not nimble enough with my hands. Sometimes I had a sovereign in my pocket, but it was never there a day. I used to go out a drinking, treating other women, and they would treat me. We helped one another now and then. I was badly off for clothes. I had no illness except colds. The common fellows in the streets were always jeering at me. Sometimes missionaries, I think they're called, talked to me about the life I was leading, but I told them, You mind yourself, and I'll mind myself; what is it to you where I go when I die!' I don't steal anything. I swear sometimes now. When I was at home, and good, I was shocked to hear such a thing. Me and the other girls used to think it clever to swear hard and say bad words to one another, or to anybody; we're not particular. If I went into the Magdalen I know I couldn't stay there. I have not been there, but I know I couldn't, from what I've heard of it from other girls, some of whom said they'd been, and I suppose they had, as there was no motive at all for them to tell lies about it. I have been in the casual wards at Holborn and Kensington, when I was beat out. It was better than walking the streets. I think, by the life I lead - and without help I must lead it still, or starve - I sometimes get 20s. a week, sometimes not more than 5s. I would like best to go to Australia, where nobody would know me. I'm sure I could behave myself there. There's no hope for me here; everybody that knows me despises me. I could take a service in Sydney. I could get rid of my swearing. I only swear now when I'm vexed - it comes out natural-like then. I could get rid of my love of drink. No one, no girl, can carry on the life I do, without drink. No girl's feelings would let her. I never met one but what said so, and I know they all told the truth in that. I am strong and healthy, and could take a hard place with country work. That about Australia is the best wish I have. I'm sure I'm sick of this life. It has only drink and excitement to recommend it. I haven't a friend in the world. I have been told I was a fool not to pick pockets like other girls. I never begged but once, and that was as I was coming to London, and a woman said, You look better than I do,' so I never begged again - that checked me at once. But I've got tickets for the straw-yards,' or the leather-houses,' as some call them (asylums for the houseless). The old women all say it was far better when they were young. I think what a change it is from my country life, but when I get sad I go and get a glass of gin, if I have the money. I can get a pennyworth in some houses. I can't do much at my needle. The idleness of the life I lead is terrible. There is nothing to interest me."
    The next was a mere girl, who had lost all traces of feminine beauty. There was an impudence in her expression that was utterly repulsive, and even in her most serious moments, it was evident that she had the greatest difficulty to restrain her inward levity. Her dress consisted principally of a ragged red and green plaid shawl pinned tight over her neck, and a torn straw bonnet, worn far back upon her head.
    "I have got a father alive," she said. "I have got no mother. I have been away these three years. I come away with a chap. I was living, sir, when I was at home, with my father in Maidstone. My father was a gardener, and I used to work at shirt-making, when I was at home with my father. My mother has been dead eight years, I think. I can't say how old I was then. I am twenty now. My father, after my mother's death, married again. She was dead seven years before he got another wife. He didn't marry again while I was at home. My mother was a very good mother. I was very fond of my mother, but not of my father, for he was a bad father. Why, sir, he used to treat us three girls so ill - my biggest sister was obliged to go to Australia from him. My next sister was younger than me, and I don't know whether she is at home now; but I don't believe she can stop at home, because I have been down as far as Maidstone since I went away with my young man, and I have heard that she's almost dead between the pair of them. By the pair of them I mean my father and stepmother. My mother-in-law is the worst to my sister. My father was bad before she came; he was such a drunkard. We went to school where we paid nothing a week in Maidstone; it's a free school. I can read. I can't write. All the money my father used to earn he used to drink, and leave us without any food. I went to the shirtmaking when I was twelve years of age, and that used to bring me about 4d. a day, and with that I used to buy bread, for we never got a halfpenny from my father to keep us. My father used to work for a gentleman, and got pretty good wages. The young chap that I first took up with was a carpenter. He was apprenticed to the trade. He enticed me away. He told me if I'd come to London with him he'd do anything for me. I used to tell him how badly my father treated me, and he used to tell met not to stop at home. I have been knocking about three years, and I'm 20 now, so I leave you to say how old I was then. No, I can't say - I'm 20 now, and I've been away three years, and I don't know how old that would make me. I never learnt any ciphering. My father used to beat us and knock us about when became home drunk. I liked the young man that came courting on me very well. I thought all he said was true, and I thought he would make me much happier than I was at home." (Here she shook her head with apparent regret.) "Yes, sir, he promised he would marry me, but when I came over to London he ruined me, and then ran away and left me. I knew it was wrong to go away and live with him without being married, but I was wretched at home, and he told me he would make me his wife, and I believed him. He brought me up to London with him, into the Borough. He took me to a low lodging-house there. The charge was 6d. a night for the two of us. There were six sleeping in the same room, beside us two. They were men and women. Some of em were married and some were not. He had 4s. Ed. when became up to London with me, and I had none. He stopped with me in the same house a week. He was 22 years of age - or 23, 1 can't say which. While he was with me he was very kind to me; oh yes, sir, much kinder than my father, and I loved him a great deal more, I'm sure. I hadn't many clothes when I left my father's home. I had nothing but what I stood upright in. I had no more clothes when I was at home. When my young man left me there was another young girl in the same lodging-house, who advised me to turn out upon the streets. I went and took her advice. I did like the life for a bit, because I see'd there was money getting by it. Sometimes I got 4s. and 5s. a day, and sometimes more than that. I still kept at the same house. There were a lot of girls like me at the same place. It was not a bad house, but she encouraged us like. No tramps used to come there, only young chaps and gals that used to go out thieving. No, my young man didn't thieve not while he was with me, but I did afterwards. I've seen young chaps there brought in by the girls merely to pay their lodging money. The landlady told us to do that; she said I could do better than knocking about with a man. If I hadn't enough to pay my lodging, I couldn't have had a bed to lie on. We used to be all in the same room - chaps and girls - sometimes nine or ten couple in the same room - only little bits of girls and chaps. I have seen girls there twelve years of age. The boys was about fifteen or sixteen. They used to swear dreadful. I fell out with the gal as told me first to go on the streets, and then I got with another at another house. I moved to Paddington. I lived at a little public-house there - a bad house; and I used to go out shoplifting with my pal. I used to take everything I could lay my hands on. We went one night and stole two dresses at a linendraper's shop, and had two months' a-piece for it. Yes, sir, I liked prison very well, because I had such bad clothes I was glad to be out of their way. Some days we hardly had a bit to put in our mouths. Sometimes we used to get nothing shoplifting: the men perhaps would notice - the fly-men, as we called them. They used to be too wide-o for us. Sometimes we used to make 5s. in the day, but then we used to spend it all in waste - why, spending it in anything. We'd buy fish, and meat, and baked potatoes and pudding. No, sir, very little drink we had. We didn't care for gin, nor any liquor at all. There was none among us but one, that cared for drink, and she used to pawn all her clothes for it. I dare say there was upwards of twelve or thirteen gals. The kitchen used to be full. The mistress used to treat us well if we paid her, but she used to holler at us if we didn't. The chaps used to serve her out so. They used to take the sheets and blankets, and everything away from her. She was deaf. They were mostly all prigs that used to come to see us. They used to go out nailing - that's thieving. There was one that they used to call Fogerty was transported; another got seven months; and another got a twelvemonth. I had one fancy man. He was a shoplifter and a pickpocket; he has got two years now. I went to see him once in quod - some calls it "the steel." I cried a good deal when he got nailed, sir. I loved him. A little time after he went away I went down into the country - down into Essex. I saw I couldn't get him off, cause it was for a watch, and the gentleman went so hard against him. I was with him at the time he stole it, but I didn't know he had got it till I see him run. I got the man down by a saw-mill; he was tipsy. He was a gentleman, and said he would give me 5s. if I would come along with him. My fancy man always kept near to me whenever I went out of a night. I usen't to go out for to take the men home; it was only to pick them up. My young man used to tell me how to rob the men. I'd get them up in a corner, and then I used to take out of their pockets whatever I could lay my hands on, and then I used to hand it over to him, and he used to take the things home and fence' them. We used to do a good deal this way sometimes; often we'd get enough to keep us two or three days. At last he got caught for the watch, and when I seed I couldn't get him off I went down into the country - down into Essex, sir. I travelled all parts, and slept at the unions on the road. I met a young girl down in Town Mailing, in Kent. I met her, and then we used to go begging together, and tramp it from one union to another. At last we got so ragged and dirty, and our things all got so bad that we made up our minds to go in for three months into prison, at Battle, down in Sussex. We used to meet a great many on the road, boiling their kettle, and sometimes we used to stop and skipper with them of a night. Skippering is sleeping in barns, or under hedges, if it's warm weather. They weren't gipsies. We usen't to stop to speak to the gipsies - not much - unless we went to fairs or horse races. Then we used to sit with them for a little while, if they had their tent. We generally used to steal on the way. If we could see anything we used to take it. At last, when our clothes got bad, I and the other girl - she still kept with me - determined to break the parson's windows at Battle. We broke one because the house was good br a cant - that's some food, bread or meat, and they wouldn't give it us, so we got savage, and broke all the glass in the windows. For that we got three months. After we came out the parson sent word for us to come to his house, and he gave us 2s. 6d. a piece to take us on the road. He would have given us some clothes - we had no shoes and stockings; we was very bad off - but his wife was in London. So we went on the road tramping again, and I have been tramping it through the country ever since. I was all last winter in Town Mailing union with the fever, and when I got well I set off tramping again. 1 didn't have no more chaps since I left my fancy man. I mean I never took up with no others - not to keep their company. I have been about two years tramping altogether; out of that I had five months in prison for stealing and breaking windows. 1 like the tramping life well enough in the summer, cause there's plenty of victuals to be had then, but its the winter that we can't stand. Then we generally come to London, but we can't call at house to house here as we do in the country, so we make but a poor thing of it. I never was so bad off as I am now, excepting when I was at Battle, for I had no shoes or stockings then. The police is too sharp for us in London. I'm very fond of going through the country in the fine weather. Sometimes we don't make much freedom with the chaps in the union, and sometimes we do. They tells us to go along with them, for they knows good houses to call at. What you make is all according to whether you are on a lonesome road. I've travelled a day and not seen a house that I could get anything at. Some days I've got a shilling given to me, and some days as much as half-a-crown. We can always get plenty of bread and meat, for country folks is very good. If I had some good things, that is good boots, I should like to go into the country again. Sometimes we get so much scran we sells it among ourselves. I should sell my lot to some travellers on the road. They gives us 3d. and 4d., but we must give them a good lot for that. I can't say which is the best of the unions now, for they are all shut up. They used to be good at one time, but the Irish ruined them; they came in such swarms - the people I knew would never stand it. We used often to say of a night that them Irish Greeks would ruin the business. They are much better beggars than we are, though they don't get as much as the English, because they go in such swarms up to the door. Now, down in Hawkhurst, there used to be a 2d. loaf allowed to everybody that called at the parson's house, little and big - it was allowed by a lady, till the pigs of Irish came in such lots, that they spoilt all the game. The parson won't give it to no one now, except eight travelling men in the morning. I know all the good houses and the tidy grubbikens - that's the unions where there's little or nothing to do for the food we gets. We walk mostly 11 miles a-day. If its hot we only walk six miles, and turn in under a hedge, if we've got our things with us to make a tent. We go all right round the country - up to Yorkshire, and as far as Northumberland. We don't try Warwick gaol, because the shilling they used to give on being discharged is stopped, excepting to those that's not been there before, and there's very few of the trampers, boys or girls, that hasn't. Then there's the two-penny-house down in Highfield, in Kent. I'm blowed if they aint been and stopped that. I can't tell what's come to the country of late. It's got very bad and scaly - there's no hospitality going on. I've been two years at the business, and I've seen it grow worse and worse, meaner and meaner, every day before my very eyes. I don't know, I'm sure, what poor trampers will do if it gets any worse. Some do talk of the good old times, when there was plenty of money-getting in them days. I shouldn't like to give it up just yet. I do like to be in the country in the summer time. I like hay-making and hopping because that's a good bit of fun. Still I'm sick and tired of what I'm doing now. It's the winter that sickens me. I'm worn out now, and I often sits and thinks of the life that I've led. I think of my kind, dear mother, and how good I would have been if my father had taught me better. Still, if I'd clothes I'd not give up my present life. I'd be down in the country now. I do love roving about, and I'm wretched when I'm not at it. After my mother died I never liked to be at home. I've seen many an unhappy day since I've been away; still, I wouldn't go back to my home because it's no home to me.

Henry Mayhew, letters to the Morning Chronicle, 1849-1850