Victorian London - Professions and Trades - Military - Soldiers - Guardsmen

    There was present at luncheon a tall, extremely well- dressed young man, with whom I returned to town in a hansom cab. I noticed that part of his forehead was very much sunburned, but one part, from the hair to the nose above the right eye, was of a different colour. This is ‘the swagger mark’ indicating a soldier. It comes from the pill-box, which protects only a small portion of the head and forehead from the sun; a much-coveted distinction. On the way he told me that he is a private in the 2nd Life Guards, and that ‘the gentlemen of the Guards’ are permitted to go off duty in mufti if they so desire. A large number of these Guardsmen, however, prefer to go out in uniform, shell jacket, very tight overalls, and pill-box askew on head, ready to be hired for an afternoon or evening by nursemaids to ‘walk out’. There is a regular, fixed tariff. Household Cavalry for afternoon out in Park, half- a-crown and beer. Brigade of Foot Guards, eighteen pence and beer. Royal Horse Artillery, two shillings. Other services, a shilling. The fact that there is a big demand is shown by the large number of females at barrack gates early in the afternoon and evening waiting to engage escorts.

R. D. Blumenfeld, Diary, June 27th 1887