Victorian London - Professions and Trades - Military and Naval - Sailors - Crimps 

Crimps may be said to be practically an extinct order of reptile. Jack's ship is now boarded on arrival at Gravesend by the officers of the Board of Trade (see "MIDGE"), who provide him with a passage straight home if he wishes it, and he is next awaited in the dock by the employees of the Sailors' Home (see SAILORS' HOME). If their regime does not suit him, the private lodging-houses he prefers are under the strictest sanitary and police surveillance; and when his money is out, and he wants a ship, the only means by which he can obtain one is through the Shipping Office (see SHIPPING OFFICE). Finally, if in spite of these tender surroundings he contrives, as he still occasionally does contrive, to procure his own ultimate  ejectment from some unlicensed den in the minimum of clothing, and without even the mininum of coin, he has still the refuge of the "Straw House" (see DESTITUTE SAILOR'S ASYLUM) Thus while blood-suckers various breeds still ply their trace with more or less success at Jack's expense - a fact for which Jack has assuredly nowadays no one to thank but himself - the "crimp," whose specialty it was, after having sucked the blood, to dispose of the carcase to some sea-going skipper in want of a crew, has no longer any raison d'Ítre, and has therefore practically ceased to be.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881

"Midge." - A handsome little steam launch, a special hobby of Mr. Thomas Gray, of the Board of Trade, and constantly employed, under the able command of Captain Pitman, R.N., in the suppression of crimps and lodging-house "runners," the two most rapacious and venomous descriptions of vermin by which the Jack of other days was preyed upon. The Midge also, under a recent provision, boards all homeward-bound vessels on their way up the river, and offers to any of the crew who may be desirous of proceeding straight home without waiting for their pay, a ticket to the desired destination, with a sufficient advance to sustain them on the way, the balance of their wages being sent after them from the Merchant Shipping Office in the East India-Road. The Midge's head-quarters are at Gravesend, where is also a branch Merchant Shipping Office, of which Captain Pitman is the superintendent. The Midge is one of the smartest little craft upon the river, and is certainly one of Jack's best and most practical friends.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881