Walked in the Temple Gardens, and on by Queen Victoria Street into the City, to dine in Milk Street, at a large restaurant which announces itself to me by circular as having 'a staff of quiet and wellconducted waitresses' instead of waiters. A wholesome innovation, and we may as well see whether it is attended with good results', as it should be. It was nearly 6 when I got there, and folk dine early in the City; so the first room I entered was empty, and its waitresses, all alone, were sitting at a table, making up accounts & getting their tea: four decent looking young women, all drest alike in striped cotton gowns of fashionable' cut, and dainty aprons, and broidered capless hair. They civilly explained that I could still dine, in another room; and one of them rose and showed me the way to The Saloon', a large well-appointed room, in which were three more waitresses, drest in the same livery; all of them girls of twenty or so; and three men, dining or about to dine. One of the waitresses sat making up her reckoning; another came forward to wait on me; the third and prettiest was standing by one of the three diners, who bent over her, holding both her hands and saying to her such soft endearing insults as gentlemen' bestow on damsels who have grace but not position. The girl, accustomed perhaps to such treatment, received his caresses with passive simpering acquiescence; her companions took no notice; and neither he nor she was disturbed by the entrance of a stranger. The other two men, who were young, dined quietly, but afterwards went and sat by the waitresses and gently flirted with them awhile: the first man, who seemed about forty and looked like a dissipated dragoon, continued his attentions to all the three girls; kissing his hand to them, seizing their hands & their skirts, begging them to sit down by him. And after dinner, when the waitresses began to collect knives & forks & fold up tablecloths, he went and joined the group, and 'chaffed' them, making indecent allusions. They laughed and did not resent these; perhaps they did not understand them. I, however, made a demonstration of disgust, which silenced him: and with an audible 'Damn' he left the room, shaking hands with the girls, who evidently bore him no ill will. Apparently the City is not yet ripe for female waiters . . .
Arthur Munby, Diary, 19 April 1872