"The prosperity of a country depends not on the abundance of its revenues, nor on the strength of its fortifications, nor on the beauty of its public buildings; but it consists in the number of its cultivated citizens; in its men of education, enlightenment and character; here are to be found its true interest, its chief strength, its real power." - Martin Luther
LONDON AT MIDNIGHT
BY HENRY VIGAR-HARRIS
THE GENERAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, 280, STRAND
IN sending out this pamphlet no apology is needed, and those who peruse its pages, will, I feel assured, be persuaded of the necessity of its existence. it originally appeared in the columns of the Western Independent, of Devonport, but by the advice of several friends, it has been reproduced for the instruction of those who may be unaware of the scenes enacted in the streets of "LONDON AT MIDNIGHT."
LONDON - March, 1885.
Whitechapel Desperadoes. - East London Lodging Houses. - From Merchant to Tramps - A Sad History.
IT is the twentieth day of November, 1884. I am now at home
resting my wearied limbs in my armchair.
I can hear the cold damp blast of an easterly wind without, and the passing
footfall of the policeman, as he paces with measured step the quiet grove in
which I dwell. My heart is sickened, for I have this morning viewed in all its
horrors a midnight scene in the East of London. It was nearly twelve when I
passed the Bethnal Green Museum on my way to Whitechapel. The rain was
descending in fitful showers, which made the few and miserable looking
passengers bend lowly as they staggered along in the vain endeavour to avoid the
fury of the sweeping wind. The flaring lights of the gin palaces without, and
the brawl of the half- drunken assemblage within, were the most conspicuous
sights and sounds that fell on the eye and ear. The [-4-] terrible enemy to law and
order - the drink - had again played
sad havoc with a young citizen who was being marched between two guardians of
the peace amid the shouts of his companions, and a little farther on, the
emporiums of debauchery were emptying their drunken and riotous visitors, in
the midst of emaciated wives and sickly children. The White- chapel Road was
literally covered with lewd women, who accosted me almost each step I took. A
mission hall which I was told had been the means of rescuing many a poor waif
and stray, and under the roof of which many a poor young girl had been recovered
from a life of ill-fame, was open, and I ventured inside its gates. I had not
proceeded far, however, before I was accosted by a man who designated himself
the hall-keeper, and who informed me that the ladies had left. On enquiring the
personages to whom he referred I learned that several ladies of position, under
the direction of Mr. F. Charrington, had been engaged in holding midnight
meetings and rescuing the fallen. "Twenty-six of them-all young women from
13 upwards have been taken away to a home," said he, "and I must tell you,
Sir, that of my 20 years' experience of the East of London I have never seen so
many unchaste beings in this road before. It's the drink, Sir, and the
abominable public houses in which it is sold, that's the cause of the mischief."
"Thank you, Sir," I replied, as I made my way towards rain still descending
[-5-] "If you please, Sir, will you give me a copper to get a bed. I shall die if I stay out in the cold another night." This pitiful entreaty was addressed to me by a tall woman who bore the traces of past respectability. I could not repress my tears as I noticed that she had no boots on, and that the keen wind was penetrating through her thin garments. I gave her fourpence wherewith to procure her much needed rest, and her return thanks are still ringing in my ears. She informed me she was a woman who had been the victim of a foul libertine for whom she had left home and friends, and who now had deserted and left her penniless and homeless on the London streets. "My companion," said she, "has gone to sleep in a cart down Commercial Street; she has been brought up well, but drink, Sir, oh! the drink." A cry of "police" disturbed this poor unfortunate's story, and I turned to the lane from whence it emanated, with a feeling of thankfulness that I was able to make one fellow creature happy for the night. I found the "night protector" engaged in assisting a poor, helpless, half-clad woman, who had been felled by the blow of a ruffian. The night was made hideous with the discordant yells and horrible blasphemies that went up from the lips of the crowd, as her companion conveyed the poor woman inside a lodging-house. The perpetrator of the outrage had escaped, much to the pleasure of his comrades. I proceeded down Commercial Street, and entered one of the common lodging-houses which abound in that [-6-] neighbourhood. Over a score of beds were in one room of comparatively small dimensions, and in these the homeless found rest after their pilgrimage through the streets by day, and the prodigals found a refuge amid the vilest of humanity. I found the "kitchens" of these houses were, for the most part, the resort of the devil's own cattle, and the apex of low life, boasting vice, and debauchery. In the females' quarters sat young women whose faces betokened the horrible life they were leading, and aged mothers, with all the virtues which adorn their sex blotted out from them, sat on the forms smoking their dirty clay pipes, and uttering horrible imprecations upon their sisterhood. Little children by their side, whom you would think unacquainted with guilt, bandying, from one to another, the foulest language. The youth, contaminated by all that is vile and sensual, in the small hours of the morning, sitting by the side of aged fathers, and learning from them how best to cheat, steal, lie, and blaspheme. Outside the doors the poor unfortunate beings walked up and down the muddy courts and alleys awaiting the dawn of the day, when they could rest on the flagstones with comparative peace and comfort.
"Would you kindly, sir, give me two-pence? I can get a bed to lie upon if you do, sir." I shall never forget the human wreck who addressed me thus. He came across the road from a scanty porch where he had been sheltering himself from the cold, and I could notice the dreadful stamp of famine [-7-] upon his pale cheek. Barefooted-his outer rags disclosing the fact that he possessed no inner clothing- he stood before me, and, trembling violently, repeated his heart-stirring appeal. Poor old man! In twenty minutes, after a little silver coin had exchanged ownership, he told me a life's journey. A voyage of seventy long years described in a few minutes, and the scenes along the route pourtrayed with all the horrid vividness of their reality. The picture of every course pursued bore the impression of the royal stamp of truth, with the rocks and other dangerous substances prominently delineated upon its surface. The hoary venerable look, with the entire absence of any couleur de rose in his conversation, pleaded more powerfully, and more readily touched the heart than all the language of artificial eloquence. To have heard him talk of "home," now only a matter of history; the companions of his better days, and the loving hearts that long ago cheered and brightened his family circle, and all of whom were now laid in the dust; to have noticed the tears that fell in rapid succession down his cheeks when he spoke of her whom nearly half a century before he had wedded when the summer sun shone bright, and autumn was far in the distance, and who had gone to the grave with a broken heart; to have heard the long, deep sigh, when he spoke of his only child, who had been guided up the alluring slope of youth with such tender care, and who, at last, had fallen a victim to the seducer's deadly sting; and then to hear the pitiful story of failure in the [-8-] commercial world, with the rapid descent from a comparatively prosperous to a pitiable state, was enough to make one's heart bleed. He, who could have stood by the side of this poor old man, and not have shed tears of pity and solace, must have been deadened to all feelings of humanity. "I'll walk with you to your home said I, as I noticed the wind was piercing most pertinaceously through his sieve-like garments. "Don't say home, sir. I have none on earth. It's past, and my home is now in a brighter world. I once looked upon it here with its happy surroundings. I started out at twenty-one, sir, with ample means and fair talents, and with as good a promise as any. My family connections were of a high order, and - thank God for it - I received in my childhood and early youth a good education. I became a merchant in this City, and married a woman who was as good as she was beautiful." Here he paused and burst into tears. In a minute or two he recovered his utterance, and proceeded. "From the moment a foul betrayer came over the threshold of our door and stole away our only child, a cloud rested on our home and lives which has never lifted its darkened pall. It is like a terrible dream to me, sir. The memories of the night when our little Minnie, of but seventeen summers, left our hearth, burn like fire in my memory. And here another gush of tears choked the old man's utterance. I felt an irresistible impulse to dash away from him, and be lost in the darkness, for to further probe the wound [-9-] which had been made in that aged, lacerated heart seemed to be more than I could do, and I should have adopted this course had we not reached the lodging- house where he was to rest his weary bones for a few hours. "She was the sunshine of our life, sir, the flower of our home. She was a good girl too, kind, loving, and obedient, but when that man - God forgive him - darkened our doors, and played upon her affections to gratify his own carnal desires, our home was ruined, our peace, hope, and comfort ruthlessly destroyed. Tis many years ago, sir, but I well remember the night. We cried ourselves to sleep, but only to awake in the morning to continue the futile search for our lost child. If we could have heard of her marriage we should have rested somewhat satisfied, but the thought that she was leading a dishonourable life was breaking our hearts. And not long after that fatal night my own loving wife was borne to her last resting place at Kensal Green. She bade me good night on a beautiful summer's evening, and, uttering 'Minnie' upon her lips, entered the sleep that knows no awakening in this world. My child now lies beneath the sod, and her foul betrayer met his death on the wide ocean. The pain of mortified pride, and the bitterness of disappointment preyed upon my spirits, and magnified by imagination so as to render thought, and even existence insupportable, I flew to drink to drown my mind in a temporary oblivion. Not many years after this, the prop of my business fell, and I was a [-10-] hopeless, helpless, bankrupt." The poor old man then feebly uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, and left the "kitchen" at the bidding of the "porter," who was about to lock up the house, and seek two hours rest himself by the side of the huge fire, which is a characteristic feature of these registered houses. "Poor old man," I muttered, as I left the street, hailed a cab and drove home. Reader! God grant that when the evening of thy life has come thou wilt not have so bitter a tale of anguish and despair to tell as this human wreck, over whose journey thou hast in fancy trod.
An Islington Drinking Saloon.-A long the Devil's Mile.
Reader! Islington is one of the most important centres of the
Metropolis, and yet one of the most debauched the city contains. This is the
"Angel, a name borne by omnibuses and tramcars almost all over London. At
the bank of England, immediately opposite the Mansion House - justly styled the
"apex of British philanthropy" - the conductors of public vehicles are
continually shouting out to the passers-by 'Angel! Holloway! and Highgate!' From
the other side of the Royal Exchange you can at stated intervals throughout the
day, and till past midnight, hear the same din 'Angel! Angel! Angel! Islington!'
In the West End, outside our Houses of Parliament, and as far in the South as
Victoria Station, Pimlico, you can hear the same ring throughout the live-long
day, 'Angel! Angel! Angel!' It appears in conspicuous letters in prominent
places, both inside and out our public conveyances, to be read by old and young,
rich and poor, weak and strong. One would imagine it was a humane or otherwise
philanthropic institution which commended itself to all true Englishmen, instead
of a huge public house where the gay and festive congregate in that resplendent
"Saloon" facing you. Across the way many im-[-12-]provements have recently been made by the Metropolitan Board
of Works. They have widened the streets, destroyed some of the slums, and
erected model dwellings, for which they have been thanked by some, and abused by
others. Yonder is the "Devil's Mile," which extends from here to the
"Cock" at Highbury, and along which we will steadily make our way. This is
not my title; North Londoners themselves have designated it as such. It is an
appropriate name, however, for the devil's imps seem to perambulate through it,
both day and night. It's past midnight, and look at these young girls with their
besotted countenances. They have been torn from all that is pure and bright;
swept, as by an irrepressible torrent, into the sea of vice. Here they are
conversing and bartering their lives with men who, twelve hours hence, will walk
the same thoroughfare, and say " We're respectable moral and virtuous
citizens." Look at that old man with grey hairs, and who seems to be fast
descending the hill of life, in company with that cherry-faced, intelligent
looking child. Surely a relationship of father and daughter exists between them.
May-be they've been to some place of amusement, and are now discussing the best
way of returning home. But no. In a few minutes, the man in the evening of his
life, and the poor, outcast child, of apparently not more than sixteen summers,
are entering an open house. Now, glance at the miserable passengers who crowd
this thoroughfare. Look upon these young men who [-13-] walk with unsteady gait, and with their heads bent low. They
are for the most part occupiers of good positions in our houses of business in
the City, wherein they will enter in a few hours with disordered minds and
"Police! Police! Murder! You Villian!" What is the cause of these human cries? It's an ebullition of feeling very often heard in these districts at night. It happens thus. The poor unfortunates have male companions, who, lost to all shame and honour, live upon their dissolute earnings, and who maltreat them in the most brutal manner if the money return does not reach their anticipations. This is a poor young woman who has been quarreling with two of these so-called men, and has now gone into a hysterical fit. "You're a nice pal, ai'nt yer," says one, as the other assists the prostrate form from the ground. No answer is made to this ironical remark, as the poor creature is brought to, and proceeds down the road betwixt the would-be combatants, and the crowd disperses. Come back again, and watch the staggering steps of those older habitués of this walk. See their bold and daring faces as they address you. Disease is doing its deadly work; fast hurling them to destruction. Stand by the side of that young girl who, a few weeks ago, was the pride of a home in a little town, in Hertfordshire. Break down every idea that you speak to her but to learn her history, and in tender sympathy interrogate her as to her future. She'll tell you all. By the voice of a liber-[-14-]tine she was carried away from a loving widowed mother and a happy home, to London, and with character lost and without friends cruelly hurled upon the streets. And here are scores of such poor creatures. Plucked from purity, then thrown aside to wither and to die, our daughters are being daily trampled upon by the cool and indifferent destroyers. Cannot something be done to remedy this? Is there not some end to this horrible chapter?
This is the front entrance of the Agricultural Hall, so well known throughout the world for its exhibitions, shows, and all kinds of English pastimes. Opposite is Islington Green, where the young love to skip in buoyant glee when the summer sun gladdens the air. At the front stands the statue of the great philanthropist, Sir Hugh Middelton, while behind it is a huge drinking saloon, which is now emptying its human contents in the road. It's an interesting fact that within a radius of a mile and a half from this spot there are 1,030 public houses and beer shops. To vouch this, look at the list issued by the Clerk to the Licensing Justices for the Finsbury Division, which I hold in my hand. See that woman in the prime of life, deeply veiled, hurrying along the muddy pathway. She neither turns to the right nor to the left. Stop her, and interrogate her as to her life. She will tell you a sad tale. Ask her to lift that veil. Traces of past beauty are still upon her careworn cheeks, and upon her head and face she bears the marks of violence inflicted upon her by one [-15-] who, in the morning of her life, took her to the altar and swore before God and man, he would love and cherish her as long as life lasted. She drew a bad ticket out of the matrimonial lottery. List to her story, polished with the all-supporting power of truth, as she gives it in her own simple way. "My mother gave me £150 when I was married, and not long before her death. I gave it to my husband to buy a home with, and he spent it all in drink, lie wouldn't work till it was all gone, and then he got a situation as a commercial traveller. We came to London, and then he drank worse than ever, often-times leaving me at home with my little children without a piece of bread in the house. I had six children, but four of them I have lost through his brutality and cruel behaviour, and for 15 years have I been working to support and keep a shelter above our heads. He died in the Shoreditch Infirmary last June, after being out of his mind three weeks, and I am left alone with two little ones, who now lie at home without food or warmth. They give me a loaf of bread daily from the parish, but I am treated so badly there; I have to wait sometimes four hours before I get it, and when I go to the City to get work I am told that for their old hands even they cannot find employment. Will you give me a trifle, sir? You can come and see my little children if you care to do so." Who could resist this appeal, and turn a deaf ear to her pitiful entreaty? I could not. "Take this coin, and get something for the little ones [-16-] in the morning." "Thank you, sir; God shall reward you four-fold."
What can it do? it's only a mite;
Not very large, nor yet very bright.
What can it do? twill purchase some bread;
I shall be happy, and my children fed.
God shall reward you, it's a promise so true;
Tho' it's only your duty, that which you should do,
God shall reward you; tis His holy law.
Be kind to the widow; remember the poor.
Reader, this is only another, and not a new chapter in the records of woman's meek endurance of cruel wrong. We shall observe more of this horrible picture ere we reach home. And ere these sketches are brought to a close thou wilt echo the words of the poet Shelley, "Hell is a city very much like London."
A Debauched Arena.-Disorderly Houses.
This is King's Cross. It is the centre of a foul net-work of
London vice and ruffianism. Four Railway Stations are here - stations of the gay
and dissolute, who glide serpent-like upon the platforms, and parade their
sensual and daring visages before respectable members of society. The profligate
finds here a haven for his vicious desires, and he can be seen from an early
hour in the evening till early dawn, or until the recuperative powers of nature
no longer lend their aid for a prolongation of their animal enjoyment.
"Gentlemen" who reside in various parts of North London find this arena a
very secluded spot to carry on their drunken debauch. Here, as in many other
parts of London, disorderly houses of the most disreputable kind exist ad
libitum, under the very eyes of the police, and wherein, night after night,
a calling of the most iniquitous kind is carried on with the sanction of all the
departments of officialism. Shops, with side doors which stand ajar, and small
windows adorned with nondescript refreshments, and wherein you would imagine you
could procure tea, coffee, or cocoa to renew your almost exhausted energies,
form deceptive gateways into houses consecrated to immoral purposes. Private
houses, in streets occupied by well-to-do tradesmen [-18-] and City business people, are made centres of corruption into
which the unwary are taken, robbed of all that's dear, then trampled and beaten
to earth by the hoofs of passion, appetite and mad indulgence. The owners of
these dens are known to so quickly accumulate their ill-gotten wealth, that many
of them reside in aristocratic dwellings, in high-class districts, where they
rear a young family in entire ignorance of their parent's vocation. They there
guard jea1ously over the honour of their own daughters with one eye, while with
the other they watch with deadened feelings the skilful sensualist as he carries
out his nefarious plans, and blights the flower of innocent girlhood.
Look at the state of this Euston Road. Count them up:- three hundred street walkers, from grey haired decrepitude, to the slender girl of twelve or thirteen-some of them once the cherished, almost idolised, inmates of happy homes; once beautiful, innocent and good, - all now the blighted, wretched inmates of the brothels which abound at the rear of their present public promenade. The police are alive to the state of this thoroughfare, but they affirm that they are powerless in remedying it. They maintain a kind of order among these wretched tribes, by hunting them about from spot to spot, until at early dawn they are compelled to seek some refuge. It's common thing for a debased woman to be given into custody by a half-drunken well-dressed profligate for some assault or robbery, and later on the magistrate discharges her "no prosecutor appearing." Of course [-19-] he wouldn't appear. Whoever imagined he would? He's not going to show himself up to society-he's a "moral law-abiding citizen." And yet for "men" such as these, this state of things is permitted to exist! The police say the vestry can suppress it - the vestry call upon indignant householders to take the initiative, and they in their turn affirm it is too delicate to meddle with. By this means proceedings are adjourned sine die.
Oxford Street Promenaders. - The Marble Arch and Hyde Park at Night. - A Harrowing Spectacle.
A journey through the streets of London, with a driving sleet
almost blinding you at every step, is not a very pleasant one. But when the
sleet is accompanied by a howling wind, and slanting deluges of ice-chilled rain
in the dark hours of night, the unpleasantness of the journey is intensified to
no small degree. And yet such was the state of the weather when I made my
journey to Hyde Park via Oxford Street. Nothing particularly attracted my
attention at St. Pancras save that which I have previously described to you. The
potato man had closed his accounts with the squally night with a volley of
expletives, winding up with a tremendous grunt of "All hot; hot, all hot."
Another vendor of wares for the "publics" clear out, in the shape of mussels
and oysters of doubtful freshness, in language not over polite or congenial, was
expressing his unmitigated disgust at the sudden termination of his business for
the night. A third rose up in the form of a dislocated member of a German Band,
whose trombone [-21-] had been sounding in aristocratic London with the rest of his
partners, but who had somewhat got mixed up with a member of the opposite sex,
with the result that he had lost, his way. He could not speak English, neither
could the constable, the potato man, nor the oyster saloon keeper speak German.
So here was a dilemma. While the lamppost was supporting the lost German
trombone player, the potato man suggested one of his "all hot 'uns" would put
him right, but this was negatived by the oyster saloon keeper, who thought that
some pure natives would "English" him a bit, after which the constable would
be able to find out where he wanted to go. Both of these were silenced by the
officer endeavouring to see whether the poor lost sheep was in a fit state to
take care of himself, or whether it was a case of "running in." The former
proved to be the right one, and as the lost sheep had got a silver coin, it was
agreed by all that it should be spent for the benefit of the company.
"Taters and oysters," a splendid mixture, which the German took by way of
pleasing his visitors, while the constable considered that a "hot 'tater" was
more in harmony with the elements and his corpulent frame.
On arriving at the Marble Arch a number of bloated street walkers met my gaze, who, like birds of prey, were pouncing upon every passer by, whether young or old. Edgware Road, it appeared, merely formed the promenade, for the rear contained the receptacles of their foul calling.
[-22-] Hyde Park is the resort of the outcast poor. The gates are open till past midnight, and into this public ground a flood of poverty stricken humanity flow, and rest their limbs on the seats.
Passing through the Park there was nothing to disturb the monotony save the rustling of the leaves and the snores of the sleeping human beings on the cold seats as they sat huddled together as a feeble protection from the cold night. In the corner of a seat, with three little children by her side and a baby in her arms, was Alice Fairweather. Unlike her name, she had experienced the wildest storm that ever beat over human nature. Like her Master, she had no place to lay her head. The elementary strife waxing in intensity was raging in the wildest fury, and the heavy downpour of rain had reached through her ragged clothes. There she was endeavouring to shield her little ones from the bitter night as they crouched under her thoroughly soaked garments. With famine stamped upon their cheeks, they all resembled living sepulchres, only breathing that Providence would decree an early transition to the home beyond. The night was so dark that they had been unobserved by the very few passengers who passed that way, and save for the groans of the little ones, as they felt the bitter pangs of hunger, I, too, should have past them by unnoticed. But as my voice was raised in piteous tones, she rose, and presented herself before me. Of tall and queenly [-23-] mien, the once beautiful woman was especially noticeable, and her conversation proved, beyond doubt, that she had held no mean position in the social circle. Her hair, of a silvery hue, glistened under the flickering rays of the lamp as it fell, in disordered tresses, on each shoulder. Her age not exceeding forty summers was plainly observable by her pleasing countenance even in the midst of such cruel and horrible privation, while her voice rang out on the air in musical sweetness.
The wind and rain had somewhat subsided when she told me her own sad story, and how she had been hurled upon the streets by the tide of adverse circumstances. "In a secluded spot, at Holloway," she said "I lived with my husband, who was a watchmaker and jeweller. His business, fifteen years ago, when we were married, was a very lucrative one and he did very well. Foreign competition in the trade kept us hard at work, and was wrenching the profit from us year by year, until at last the work could not possibly be done at a price to maintain a large establishment in the West End. The high rent proved to be absolutely beyond our income, and other large houses with their immense capital behind took the last piece of wholesale work from us. Thus we were compelled to relinquish the trade altogether, and to seek a business connection elsewhere. My husband thought the North of London would do for us, and thither we conveyed our trade fixtures and other working materials. For nine years we carried on our business [-24-] in Holloway, but during that time our profits were so small that we could save very little. My husband renewed acquaintance four years ago with a man whom he had known in his boyhood days, and who had travelled in America and other parts. This person made representations to him that a business could be set up on the American principle of selling alarm and other clocks of foreign manufacture, and by these representations my husband was induced to accept him as a partner in the business. He did so, and within two years after the deed of partnership was signed this scoundrel decamped with the whole of the capital and left my husband so far penniless. Bills had to be met, and we were compelled to sell the stock in trade, and ultimately our house was sold under an execution from the High Court of Justice. Through grief my husband was taken ill, and after three months died of a broken heart. I was then in furnished apartments, and I laboured at washing and anything I could do to keep me from the streets. But illness has prevented me with my baby from getting any work, and I was turned out in the streets to-night because I could not pay my lodgings. I went to the Workhouse in Islington; but they told me that it was too late to get shelter last night, and I have to go this morning again. I thought a friend of mine, at Kilburn, would have taken me in, so I went there, but I found she had gone away, and the people did not know where. Could you get me some work, Sir? I could do anything about the house." An [-25-] outspoken tale of woe. It was not my business to inquire into the truth of it. Enough to see the poor starving foundlings with their exhausted parent homeless, and out in the street on such a bitter night. No time to discuss whether a committee could be appointed to look into this case, and judge of its merits. There they were shivering in the night, and to find them a home was but my duty. Directing the little tribe of outcasts to the nearest lodging house within my knowledge, I was soon lost in the darkness, and ere long was driving home.
The Criterion Promenade. - A Policeman's Idea of his Duty. - The Affluent Crossing Sweeper.- A Regiment of Tramps.- "Outcast London" at Colliers' Rents.
"Big Ben" roared its loudest, and made the earth vibrate
beneath our feet, warning us that it only wanted half-an-hour to midnight. A
flood of golden light from all quarters gave a tinge of mellowness to the sombre
streets, and even through the dull atmosphere the eye could discern a
considerable distance down the river, and view the bargemen as they plied their
oars along the still waters. The twinkling stars shone bright in the firmament,
proclaiming in their own silent eloquence the glory and majesty of the omnipotent Creator, and shedding forth their rays, as it were a heavenly
reproach to the sinful scenes below. The grand old Westminster Abbey with its
many honoured associations, and inside the walls of which the cream of England's
greatness lies buried in deathless glory; the magnificent structure which stands
out in remarkable prominence from the line of our imperial buildings, and
wherein our national welfare is so zealously guarded, and the laws for our well-being so studiously wrought and enacted; and
[-27-] the interior of Palace Yard, were clearly visible to us as we
made our way to the West on the twentieth day of January, 1885.
[I write in the plural number; for I was accompanied on this journey by a dramatic author who had made the streets of London a characteristic feature in his studies.]
The theatre-going community were hastening homeward with vigorous step, comfortably enwrapped to shield themselves from the cold wind. The visitors to the Aquarium were leaving their resort, enquiring of the bewildered policeman the best conveyance to their domiciles, while others were proceeding with measured step to the Criterion promenade. Parliament Street looked exceptionally dull, "the dynamite men" - as policemen stationed to guard our public buildings are called - being especially noticeable by the scrutinizing gaze they levy upon you should you happen to stay for a moment or two to view the buildings. Charing Cross - the scene of gay and morbid festivity - presented to view a mass of immoral women, awaiting to catch the dissolute visitors of the hotels and public houses directly "time" was called either by the commissionaire or potman. Proceeding up the Haymarket, the porch under Her Majesty's Theatre was patrolled by several women. While promenading the pathway from the Haymarket Theatre some two hundred girls varying in ages from thirteen to twenty-five, with powdered faces and painted cheeks, paraded before "men" who were [-28-] gloating over their vile and indecent language. And now midnight has arrived, and we stand outside the much frequented promenade in Piccadilly. No one but those who have witnessed the scene can have the slightest idea of its enormity - it is literally beyond description. Until the second hour of the morning, a congregation of immoral men and women promenade here in such a manner that it is not only a scandal upon oar Christian law, but a reproach upon our civilization and national character. This promenade is about one-eighth of a mile in length, and on this particular occasion we counted seven hundred lewd women and twice as many low minded dishonorable men. By the side of these debased creatures policemen were walking up and down, every now and then ejaculating "Now, move on, please," while cabmen upon their vehicles were driving in single file along the gutters awaiting their fares. These women for the most part, we learned, on substantial authority, reside in St. John's Wood, Kilburn, and Hampstead, on the one side, and Pimlico, Camberwell, and Dulwich on the other, and some of them are known to keep liveried servants, while the major portion of the "men" are merchants, and other persons of position in the City, officers in the Army and Navy, and persons who occupy country residences and keep town haunts for periodical visits.
For some distance up Pall Mall, a similar scene was witnessed opposite the Clubs and mansions which have made that place so famous in British [-29-] annals. Here and there tobacconists with their assistants were doing a busy trade, their customers being not only males, but the opposite sex, in some instances, occupied the well cushioned seats in the front of the shops. Commissionaires guarded the doors of these establishments, in order, we were told, to assist proprietors in ejecting any unruly customer, but their services, our informant added, were very rarely needed, for the occupants were all "gentlemen" of high standing who would not condescend so low as to quarrel in the street.
Leicester Square was almost deserted when we reached it-at the strike of the first hour, only here and there a belated traveller could be noticed pursuing his way with a staggering gait. St. Martin's Lane presented a dull aspect, the flickering lights of the lamps, and the brawls of the half drunken assemblage down its courts and alleys being the only sights and sounds visible and audible. In one of these courts vitriolised gin and water had sadly operated upon a young married woman who, in her half maddened state, was endeavouring to suppress a quarrel between her husband and another gill drinking termagant, who stood at the door displaying her bruises in a recent struggle to a sympathetic companion. Then another fierce individual threw down his coat as if his intention. was to "fight it out in reality, but he was frustrated by the outstretched arms of hail a dozen women amidst the shouts of blasphemy, from an indifferent crowd of onlookers. [-30-] All this was seen to advantage by a constable on the other side of St. Martin's Lane, but he told us to our utter astonishment that it was not on his division and, therefore, "he could not interfere."
"Do you mean to say, officer, that you are not allowed to suppress that brawl right under your eyes because it is not committed on your beat ?"
"I mean to say that if my Sergeant came and saw me there he would say, 'Let the men on that Division do their own work;' besides one man's no good down there, and I don't. want another bashing. I've had one since I've been in the force, and that's quite enough."
We left this "guardian of the public peace," whose only duty was to keep one side of the road, notwithstanding that on the other personal violence was raging at its height, and we proceeded into the Strand. We had not gone far, however, before another "man in blue" crossed our path, to whom we related the fact of a "row" in St. Martin's Lane.
"I'll go and see what it is, sir."
"But it is not on your division."
"That does not matter, we can go anywhere within the Metropolitan district."
Conspicuous among the London outcasts is the crossing sweeper. Sometimes he is a man well matured in years, and whose feeble condition prevents him from following any other employment. At others he is a youth not out of his teens, who prefers cleaning the pathway for a grateful public to any [-31-] other labour for reasons best known to himself. Often it's a little boy, whose dejected appearance enlists the sympathy of the kind-hearted, who proffer their coppers rather abundantly into his dirty and mud-bespattered hand. Such a sweeper we met in the Strand when the clock struck two. A constable and a commissionaire were engaged in conversation a little eastward of him, and the former noticing our appearance, proceeded to the lad, and in his usual authoritative manner said,-
"Now, youngster, it's time you were out of this."
"All right, Sir," said the boy, and throwing his broom into the gutter proceeded down the Strand in company with two of his confreres.
Curiosity led us to enquire of the intelligent looking lad for what reason he had so indignantly thrown away the broom which had rendered him such valuable service during the evening.
"I allays throws the broom away, cause father doesn't like the neighbours to know I sweeps crossings."
"But you have to buy others, then."
"Yes, but they only cost 2½d."
"But 2½d. seems a lot of money to you, a crossing sweeper. How much do you earn?"
"Between three and five shillings a day, sir, I've been out since six o'clock this evening, and only earn't ten-pence, though."
"Where do you live?"
[-32-] "What do you do with the money you get?"
"Take it home to father and mother, sir."
"It's not much to night," chimed in one of his companions, a ragged urchin of about twelve, as they marched side by side in the direction of Fleet Street.
"Will you give me something to get a bed, sir?" This question was directed to us by a man of thirty summers. He was thin and pinched in features, and though exceedingly well bred in manner was shabbily dressed, and bore the certain mark of having seen better and happier days. He told us he was a native of Devon, and had been in a house of business there for many years. He had taken "French leave" as he stated, on the occasion of a holiday, and his employer had informed him he could take it altogether. Thus he was compelled to seek London for employment, feeling assured that with £7 in his possession he could make his way. He had found, however, that the sights and scenes of London had been too great an inducement for him to keep his money in his pocket, and thus, not long after his entry into Waterloo, he had found himself in "close quarters." The cold repulsive look which one has to meet in London lodgings immediately it is known you cannot pay your way, fell to his lot, with a rider that he must quit, or settle his arrears. The former was the only altenative, and this had brought him on the streets at two o'clock in the morning without a place to lay his aching head.
[-33-] Three o'clock in the morning on London Bridge. A sight to make the hardest heart bleed.
A regiment of tramps of all sorts and sizes. Maddened with hunger; sorefooted with many a day's weary flagging march, with not a friend in the world to apply to for help, they have travelled miles of brick built streets in the vain and bootless quest of food and shelter, and rest for their aching limbs. Genuine cases of men who by a tide of circumstances have been thus thrown on the streets, and who would willingly work if they could get it to do, and sturdy rogues who adopt begging as a trade, because they have neither the honesty nor the industry to pursue a lawful calling; all mixed up together, and it required a shrewd philanthropist who could discern the good from the evil.
A regiment of pitiable homeless wretches, and out of whom the last trace of real happiness had disappeared-and on whose visages were depicted the wasting horrors of their existence. They were not always thus; they were once "somebody's darlings," and once occupied the social hearth, and we subsequently found to our amazement that not a few were men who once held high positions in the State. Men in the prime of life with grey hairs upon their head, who had passed a stormy career of shipwrecked years, and whose every feeling of hope and happiness was scalded out long ago. The orphan, who from his childhood had been cast adrift to roam the streets and pick up his living where and how he could; and [-34-] the outcast mother, still bearing the traces of her respectability; all following as if we held the keys of their lives, in the anticipation that we were "the kind creatures who gives away tickets for the breakfast."
But look! Here is a gentleman bearing by his side a "waif and stray" whom he has found huddled up asleep in an outhouse in Covent Garden. The bitter night has almost frozen his half naked limbs, and with a view to protect his feet from the cold ground this self-denying Christian has taken off his stockings and placed them upon the poor outcast. The poor child has been dragged up the steep and rugged hill of fatal necessity, of rude and continually felt hardship; and that amidst the companionship of the dregs and the refuse of society, the fragmentary shreds of corruption that prowl about our towns and cities. The benefactor, a journalist, whose writings have seen the light of day in several high-class journals, is assisting Mr. Munro, the superintendent of the "Colliers Rents" mission, in his labours to alleviate the wants of distressed humanity. This institution stands like an oasis in the desert, and is accessible by way of dingy courts and dirty alleys in the Borough. Outside stands the General with a scrutinizing gaze upon the poor troop, and subjecting them to his test of genuineness. He thinks there's a coherence in the Divine law which forbids him to take a single precept and isolate it from the rest. "If any would not work neither shall he eat," and "An idle soul shall suffer hunger," are equally [-35-] explicit with " Give to him that asketh thee," - and, therefore, he says "Take off your hat. Hold up your hand. How long have you been out of work? What's your trade? Where did you work last?" To these commands and questions the poor outcasts answer with a ready timidity, as they each in their turn enter the building and take a seat. Immediately the whole of the file are thus questioned and all have been comfortably ensconced, the doors are shut, the lights lowered, and the poor famished wretches are soon engulphed in sleep. It is, however, a temporary one, for at six o'clock the sound of music arouses them, the lights are in full blaze, and coffee urns with hot liquid, and bags of sandwiches adorn the tables on each side A young lady of prepossessing appearance is seated at the piano, and to the strains of a well known "hymn of praise the whole of the congregation of destitutes sing as only their hoarse voices can; yet these strains are tinged with a solemn earnestness which is most marked in some of the older men and women, who have been tossed over the sea of life by an unfortunate tide of circumstances. The breakfast ended, the door is opened, and the outcast congregation sent to again drift on their homeless pilgrimage. We speak of horrid scenes in bygone days with a hush and dread. We read of our countrymen treading the fair earth in martyrdom, and being driven by the rude wind of persecution into exile, or upon the stake terminating their self-denying lives. We read with shivering [-36-] horror of patriots who, animated by the fire of love and devotion, have in past eras borne the reputation of their country on to posterity, by their sufferings. To day I write of equal horrors near to our homes where the whirlwinds and tornadoes of starvation are hurling hundreds at our feet. Surely if Shylock, with poetical license, may exclaim in the immortal lines of Shakespeare, -
"Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe," the poor outcast of London may in solemn verity proclaim the endurance of the same miserable heritage. God bless these Christian gentlemen, who, denying themselves the warm enclosure of a bedroom, seek to make happy the famishing outcasts who are now roaming in hundreds on London Streets.
The Thames Bridges in the small hours.- A Scotchman on the road. - The Casual Wards.- The Talking Fish.
Probably there is no other place or time within the
Metropolitan area where so many tramps gather, as on Blackfriars and the other
Metropolitan Bridges, between 1 and 2 on Sunday mornings. Now, while the clock
is chiming the first hour, you can see them congregating in and around the
recesses on both sides of the road. Every specimen of distressed humanity is
here represented. Penniless, hopeless, desponding and faint, chilled too, and
hungered, they await the arrival of the missionary, who is to offer them a
shelter, a warm fire, and a good meal's victuals to restore the exhausted
energies of flagging nature. How must their sinking hearts be cast down by the
commingled chaunt of the ribald song they hear from the riotous and drunken
passengers. Hark at the voices:-
"We won't go home till morning,
Till daylight doth appear."
Home! The cold waters of the Thames beneath have seemed to them on many occasions the best home, wherein they could hide from such a miserable [-38-] existence. Here, on this bridge at least, they are permitted to rest their weary bones without being driven on their hopeless pilgrimage by the authoritative voice of the "man in blue." Here is a "station of rest" where they can, on their journey, book for a meal. Many good men who pass over the Bridge at midday, little know the agony of broken hearts; the despairing and most miserably afflicted human barques, and the blank unsullied page of innocent childhood who walk in their wake at midnight or at early dawn. Many good men rail, in no measured terms, against the folly and ingratitude of the poor, but little do they know that there are hundreds who apply for assistance at the Unions and other charitable institutions, and are rejected for want of room. Many good men console themselves with the trite reflection that the poor rates are sufficient to supply the wants of all such vagrants; but if they took the trouble to investigate the matter, they would find that their reflections had been sorely misguided. Alas! there are many of these poor creatures who would willingly work if they could procure it, as well as there are many who are indolent and indifferent- my experience tells me the former predominates.
Watch that Scotchman of three and twenty summers coming out of Lockhart's cocoa rooms, in Fleet Street. He has drank the cup of poverty to its bitterest dregs, and has tramped from Glasgow to London. His story is correct; he has walked [-39-] onward in the hope of getting some employment, but the fact of having no trade upon his hands, and being destitute, he has been unable to meet with any favour. The young lady behind the counter- perhaps Mr. Stephens, the manager, directed it-has given him a few pieces of bread with one or two remnants of a scone, which he holds with death-like tenacity with one hand, while with the other he alternately puts a quantity in his mouth and pocket.
It does not take me long to secure his confidence. On my telling him that his face looks clean, he informs me that he washed it in the Hyde Park Serpentine, and that a vast number of tramps seek out this water for a plunge in the early hours of the morning. His shirt was cleansed at Carlisle five weeks ago, and although in some of the casual wards of the country there is a chance of giving it "soap and water," in the Metropolis it is worn in the morning in the same state as it is taken off in the evening. He states that they treated him very well at Robinhood Court, Shoe Lane - the casual ward for the City. He got into London in the afternoon of a cold and dreary day, and at five o'clock found his way to the modern lazarhouse of want, where he waited with a great number of others-outside the door - till his turn came. He was ushered into an apartment, clean and respectable, where he was directed to divest himself of his clothing. This done, he was placed in a bath of clean water, and then given a sheet into which he was to wrap himself and retire [-40-] to his bed, which contrasted well with those in which he had slept in country towns on his journey to London. In the morning he had to pick a quantity of oakum, after which he was released. "Good morning, Sir, I'll get some rest while I can, and thank you for what you have done for me, and may God bless you. Good morning, Sir."
Look at this individual who is now crossing the road. He's the "talking fish" - a sobriquet given by the bus conductors and drivers who seem to know him better than the police. He's well up in everything, and can afford information - whether it is reliable is another matter - on all topics, from the latest dynamite explosion to the best Parliamentary "tip." He's a "Sporting Life" in himself. All horses with their backers, and the probability of their being first or last, are enumerated with a skill which only his impediment of speech can offer, and it often happens that the policeman will order the omnibus driver to "move on," while the "talking fish" will be stammering out the name of the jockey who is to win the laurels of some race one hundred miles from town. I heard this individual, informing a bus conductor the result of the recent London Bridge explosion:- Here it is - "London Bridge is blown up - you can't go that way - go down Southgate Bridge Road, Bill, - fi-teen killed and fourteen injured; ain't you heard it? The coppers are carrying away the dead on stretchers - one copper had his helmet blown clean off, and a man was blown in [-41-] the air, and came down head first on a Pickford's van, breaking the canvas, and falling on a little boy. Ain't you fraid to go this journey?" He was not contradicted while he stood stammering out this multitudinous swarm of lies, neither would anyone imagine that they were the slightest deviation from the truth, for such a serious look pervaded his countenance, which was shown to advantage by the rays of the electric light. But after he had gone the conductor allayed the consternation of his affrighted fares by telling them that "98 per cent must be taken off everything that the 'talking fish' says, and regarded as untruths." The "talking fish," the conducter continued, "is a 'bus driver who has been on the road for many years. He is known in all 'yards' throughout London as being the largest manufacturer of 'lies.' He drives two horses in the summer time what's known to have more flies on them than any other hundred on the London General, and as the flies swarm round his horses' heads, so the lies swarm round his mouth. He's a hot 'un.. His wife says he's always muttering lies in his sleep, and she says he can't help it.. Don't be upset at what he's said, lady; wait till to-morrow morning, Lloyd's will tell the truth- I'll take your fare, please." This last sentence was directed to a fair damsel who evidently had seen three score of Yuletides, and who was nodding her head continually and saying, "It might be true, though, this time-what a shame it is that these Fenians should do such things!
A Few Beggars and Their Tricks.
The various arts which strong and healthy beggars employ to
disguise themselves, and to excite compassion, are almost incredible. Besides
the too common tricks of feigning themselves blind, lame, or dumb, there is
hardly a disease they cannot counterfeit. They make artificial bodily wounds;
they dye their skin, and seem to spit blood as in a deep consumption; they fall
back in writhings as in a fit of epilepsy; or stuffing their clothes with rags,
and putting on a number of stockings, they go on crutches as in the last stages
of dropsy. The same ingenuity employed in works of industry might have procured
them a very comfortable subsistence. One trick very common is for a strong,
healthy woman to go about with a couple of children in her arms. She, it is
thought, cannot work for and take care of them both, and, therefore, she is
pitied by almost every passenger; yet it is seldom they are both, or even one of
them, her own. She hires them from some unnatural mother, and while they live,
which is seldom long, in that service, she pays 6d. or 8d. a week for the use of
Here is one of these professional beggars in the shape of a female "match seller." Matured in crime, as well as in years, she is known to the police all over [-43-] London. She has suffered imprisonment for begging, time after time, till, on the last occasion, Mr. Flowers, of Bow Street, accorded her "one month as an incorrigible." Her modus operandi is as follows:- She purchases a few boxes of "Sakerhets-tandsticker," after which she makes her way to the most prominent public thoroughfare, and, standing in the gutter, starts up a ditty. You cannot make out what the words are, but you can discern the remnants of a once fine mezzo-soprano voice which, of course, attracts the little children who happen to be near. Watching her opportunity she then purposely drops a few stray matches with a box, and starts a hue-and-cry that "some little vagabond has stolen her matches, nearly all she is possessed of." This of course draws a sympathetic crowd who proffer their stray coppers plentifully into this virago's hands in order to recoup her the loss she has incurred by the alleged theft. You now notice this prowler upon the charity of a humane public, standing in the Kingsland Road, as we make our journey to the city at night. Here is Shorediteh through which we make our way to the West End. Stop and converse with this intelligent looking boy with a Fry's cocoa box strung round his neck. In this he has some Bryant and May's safeties. "Lights, Sir! Lights, Sir!" His voice rings like a bell, and his intelligent and terse replies to the questions put to him are a source of admiration, and win him many a bright silver coin. He has only seen eleven summers, and yet he displays to [-44-] the observant eye an amazingly high intellect, and deep sagacity. His forehead is magnificently developed. Slight as my knowledge of phrenology is, I can perceive the noble organs of humanity beautifully and prominently developed. And yet this winning boy of eleven has been sent to sell matches in the street, and otherwise beg from the charitable, for the purpose of his support, his able-bodied healthful parents, and his little brother and sister. He lives not ten minutes' walk from here where the parents may be seen any evening at about the time the boy arrives home with his earnings - midnight.
Look at this specimen of deformed humanity blowing a tin whistle outside that resplendent gin palace. His "pal" is inside collecting the gifts from the half-drunken customers. When one stands on the other's head they measure in height a little over 6 feet. If they're hard up, they contrive to fill their pockets by some such device as the following: After the pubs are closed, viz. 12.30. a.m, and when the maudlin groups of "parlour politicians" are on the point of settling their differences by the logic of blows, they pounce upon some on-looker, and under the plea that he has assaulted them, draw forth not only sympathies, but coppers in abundance, while the victim has to beat a hasty retreat so as not to receive the blows of some too energetic sympathisers who'd "scorn the act of assaulting a poor deformed public house whistle player."
[-45-] Here's a tramp, apparently almost bootless, trembling in the cold wind, and enjoying his "screw of baccy." "I say old fellow! Where can I get a bed to-night without money?"
"Well, mate, you're better off than I am in clothes, if not in pocket. I've only got enough for my doss, I've been selling matches in the Strand and only been able to sell a pen'orth. I got threepence just now, at the Mansion House, by closing cab doors for the swells. The coppers was narking me, and I had to go. I was going to spike it (go to the casual ward) but they keep you in to-morrow (Sunday), and make you pick oakum on Monday morning. In the publics is a good place to get money now, and although some landlords are too busy to chuck you out, some of your pals will do it, if they see you get more than the price of your doss. I know a splendid place where you can get a gut of food, only you must tell wicks (falsehoods) by the score; perhaps you ain't been used to it. It's a bad racket (occupation) to follow, but you must much (watch) the coppers. Cab touting is good business in the Strand, but it must be after the publics are closed. Sometimes a pal'll be watching the peelers while I'll be closing the doors. If the toms know you it's good tack, but if they get their knife in you, I'm blowed it's all up a tree. The swells are good 'uns generally at Short's (a large wine establishment), but at the Gaiety it's awful. You see what makes it worse there, is the point men (stationary constables). I [-46-] suppose you never picked pockets "- to this I confessed my ignorance,- "Well it's good tack if you're not caught. There's not so much done now, but when I turned out first they used to train young 'uns at Spitalfields, - perhaps you know the shanty. I forget you're only a bruiser, and not yet used to it; but look here, if you can get some employment don't you do this tack. I've only just come out of quod myself; this time it was for being drunk, and I hit a copper on the nose. I had now't to eat that night. Look out, here comes two detecs (detectives), skid away or else they'll nark yer."
The Elephant and Castle - Victoria Station Promenaders - Revoluting Disclosures.
The neighbourhood of the Elephant and Castle, on the Surrey
side, is another corrupt centre of London life. Like the "Angel", at
Islington, it is emblazoned in large characters on all public vehicles plying
south side of the Thames, whose conductors are continually shouting it to the
passersby for miles round. It seems a mania with the South Londoners to
designate the districts by their nearest approach to the "Elephant and
Victoria Station, Pimlico, like many other of our railway termini, is made the meeting place of immoral London. For two miles on either side women may he seen towards the shades of evening leaving their houses to ply their nefarious trade about the vicinity of the station. Some of them in gaudy attire, with painted visages, others bedecked with silks and satins, and not a few are poor city workwomen. Here are houses rented and solely used for improper purposes. Whole streets and bye courts are held by the demon of immorality, the occupiers of which are merely servants employed by the owners who live in quite another part of London, and come every morning to receive their ill-gotten gains. Entrance is effected to these houses merely by turning the key which is left [-48-] in the door, and by the glimmer of the candles flickering in. the passage the visitor is able to ascertain how many rooms are vacant. Men of rank and position, local tradesmen and vestrymen, the police inform me, have been known to complain that they have been either robbed or assaulted in these dens. The vicinity is surrounded with public houses, in many of which these women are permitted to remain and drink. Another, and still more heinous aspect of this locality, is the fact that several keepers of these disorderly houses import and export young girls of tender age for the vicious use of home and foreign lordlings. Here servant girls are taken, under the pretence that they are entering respectable lodgings, during the period they are out of situations, and robbed of virtue are induced by horrible representation to lead an immoral life on the streets. Reader! I write of facts indisputable and authenticated which are not generally known, but which our police and local authorities behold with the utmost unconcern.
Liverpool Street and Spitalfields - The Christian Community's Labours in the East.
Turning citywards, and nearing the Strand, we find the same
immoral congregation, which lower down towards Fleet Street is infinitely worse.
Some of the public houses in this thoroughfare are only closed for two out of
the 24 hours, and the men who occupy their sawdusted parlours are the outcasts
of the literary world. Some of these men have been in prominent positions on our
leading daily press, and held high appointments on the staff of provincial
papers, but in consequence of their debauched habits they have been dethroned.
Liverpool Street comes next, and this is another centre of London vice and impurity. The North London and the Great Eastern Railway Stations are here, and sensualists swarm around them like a nest of bees. The visitor cannot pass the street without hearing the most obscene language from the vile girls who are allowed to congregate in groups there. His progress is impeded by the loose and abandoned characters who occupy the footpaths. The courts leading out of Bishopsgate are occupied by the same kind of immoral resorts that King's Cross boasts of, while lower down towards Spitalflelds they are still worse, culminating in the most horrible and deadly arena of London crime of which Thrawl Street is the apex.
[-50-] It is here that the mission house of the long established and highly reputed "Christian Community" stands, and it is in this low spot where all the scum and filth of the most degenerate humanity can be found. To go there on the Saturday evening and stay till Sunday morning, or until the bells of the surrounding churches ring out their Sabbath peals, and to watch the despairing horde congregate in the courts and alleys, is the scene for a lifetime. Right in the midst of almost the worst vice and crime that London contains, a band of men and women deny themselves their rest for the purpose of providing a meal for those who are starving and helplessly lying round their mission door. Every spark of manhood extinguished, every hope scalded out, every atom of virtue annihilated, these poor wretches lie in one mass positively worse than the beasts of the field. It is like heaven bursting upon their view when the assist- ant secretary or one of his co-workers opens the door of the mission room to let in the dark troop, and immediately they are seated their weary eyes are closed, and in the land of dreams they are for a few hours taken out of the sufferings of their horrible existence. They are hungry, and must be fed, and while their temporary slumber lasts honorary workers are in a little side apartment preparing their breakfast of bread and meat, and hot coffee. Like the Master with His five loaves and two fishes, they preach the most stirring sermon by their practical bread and meat treatment. Like the Master they descend to [-51-] the very corrupt of their fellow men, in order to reform their lives. In some instances there is something good found beneath the crime which has been accumulating for years, and in two notable cases the reformation of nature has been most perceptible. Inside the walls of this mission two workers are labouri7flg assiduously who were found amid the tribe of homeless wanderers, and who now are assisting to rid the broad road that leads to destruction of a. few of its doleful travellers.
Proceeding eastward, St. George's and Wapping present to view scores of destitute seamen who, through the depression of the shipping trade, are unable to get employment, while the more fortunate "Jacks are spending their hard earned money in houses which occupy almost the whole length of Cable Street and High Street, Shadwell. The "Highway," which has had such a horrid fame in the annals of the past, can be walked through without the least alarm to the visitor; here and there the most deadly curses can be heard issuing from the drunken occupants of the beer shops on each side. Stepney and Commercial Road are comparatively quiet to the more noisy district of Whitechapel, Mile End, and Poplar, the resort of the seamen who happen to be in port, and who line its thoroughfares with their half drunken staggering forms, terminates my last journey through London at Midnight.
A. T. Roberts, Son & Co., Printers, 5, Hackney Road, London, E.