As a class, I must say the
workpeople that I have seen appear remarkably truthful, patient, and generous;
indeed, every day teaches me that their virtues are wholly unknown to the world.
Their intemperance, their improvidence, their want of cleanliness, and their
occasional want of honesty, are all that come to our ears. As I said before,
however, I doubt very much whether we should not be as improvident and
intemperate if our incomes and comforts were as precarious as theirs. The vices
of the poor appear to be the evils naturally fostered by poverty-even as their
virtues are such as want and suffering alone can beget.
Their patience is positively marvellous. Indeed, I have seen this last week such contentment, under miseries and privations of the most appalling nature, as has made me look with absolute reverence upon the poor afflicted things.
Henry Mayhew Morning Chronicle November 20th 1849