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^Bengal Club Xibrar)^ 


THIS BOOK MUST BE RETURNED WHITHIN 

14 DAYS. 





7- *(7 

THE SOUL MARKET 






THE SOUL MARKET 

WITH WHICH IS INCLUDED 

"tY^P heart of things 


iiy 

OLIVE CHRISTIAN MALVERV 

ascubald HAociunr) 


SECOND EDITION 


LONDON 

HUTCHINSON & CO. 

PATERNOSTER ROW 





CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION - . . i 

CHAPTER I 

The first View of London — Student Days— Music for 

Royalty— One of “The Million” . - • y 

CHAPTER II 

A “ Heathen ” at the Opera —Music for the Million - *29 

CHAPTER III 

Up and down the Social Ladder — From a Society “ Crush” j 
to the “ Spike” — The Price of a Soul • - - 46 

CHAPTER IV 

Fancies and Facts^Factory Life— Makers of Millions • 65 

CHAPTER V 

The British “Jungle”— What I saw of the Preserved Food 

Trade 90 

CHAPTER VI 

My American Education— The Amenities of Chicago - 105 

CHAPTER VII 

Little Sister Sorrow - - - - - - ia3cj> 

V 



vi Contents 

CHAPTER VIII 

I PAOB 

Gilding the Gutter— My Experiences of Coster Life - 134 

CHAPTER IX / 

The Story of the Shop ... . « 151 

CHAPTER^^r 

In the Sweating Dens 0^ West and East London - * I69 

CHAPTER XI 

Women who Work and Babes who Weep— What ** Home 

Industries ” mean - - • . -182 

CHAPTER XJI 

Side-Lights on Alien Life In London ... 202 

CHAPTER XIII 

The Simple Life, with Variations^ — How I lived on Six- 
pence a Day, and earned it - - - - 221 

CHAPTER XIV 

On Outpost Duty - - - . - . 236 

CHAPTER XV 

How we encourage our Working Population — Dust-Heaps 
as ** Eligible” Building Sites — Handicaps on British 
Trade ....... 247 

CHAPTER XVI 


The Edge of the Street— Pestilent Shelter - 


264 



contents 

CHAPTER XVII 
The Breedii^) -Place of Thieves 

CHAPTER XVIII 

•v 

The Influences Modern Literature — Fancies in Feasts - 


In “Real” England - 



AFTER XIX 


CHAPTER XX 
THE CURTAIN 
The Conclusions of an “ Insider” 


▼ii 

VAGB 

279 

291 

303 

309 



ILLUSTRATION^ 

PAGB 

OLIVK CHRISTIAN UALtiCRY- ... Frontispiece 

HISS HALVBRY AS A FLOWER-GIRL • • fadng p. it 

STARTING OFF ON AN ORGAN-GRINDING EXPEDITION • 1 7 

A BANQUET AT THE HYDE PARR HOTEL - • - 48 

HOMELESS HEN BREAKING THEIR FAST - - • 49 

FACTORY GIRLS WAITING FOR THE DOORS TO OPEN • 74 

WOMEN IN A DATE-PACKING FACTORY * * • 75 

MY YOUNGEST CUSTOMER .... t - 136 

OLD WOMEN PICKING OAKUM • - - * * 137 

MISS HALVERY SERVING IN A COFFEE-HOUSE • • 152 

SERVING IN A “ SWEET” SHOP 1 53 

THE match-makers’ HOME 1 94 

THE OLD CLOTHES MARKET AT ROHE- • > '195 

A lOOR STREET IN LONDON 270 

SINGING IN THE STREETS FOR A LIVING ... 271 



THE SCTKhL market 


INTRODUCTION 

i 

These are prodigal days. The summer fields ate not more 
thickly strewn with buttercups than the world with genius. 
During the last three seasons the newspapers have chronicled 
seventy-three new musical geniuses. There is no child who 
scrapes the fiddle in public, or thumps a piano on a platform, 
who is not a genius, provided his “backers” have money 
enough to pay for the reputation. Every man who is insolent 
enough to bully his fellow-creatures is a Political Power ; every 
woman who can entice a crowd into her house is a Social 
Leader ; every musical or other public entertainer, if ritgue 
enough to secure extensive free advertising, is an Artiste; 
There is an unwritten tradition in these matters which is 
handed down from class to class, and generation to generation, 
and on this foundation have been compiled many Guide-Books 
of life, more or less alik^ which are unfailing indexes to life 
and thought in this country. The female villain must have 
red hair and baleful eyes. The male villain is dark and 

A 



• ^ntro^ttction 

handsome — ^this is an unwritten law. Everylducbess is 
beautiful and a gambler, every smart woman inmoral, every 
Churchman a ritualist in disguise, every Nonconmmist pure in 
heart. All British workmen are sons of toil andjndustrious; all 
capitalists are blood-suckers, and dukes ara^ry wicked. Tbe 
exploited poor are always deservi|^9i<''^ne might continue 
quoting from this illunKnating'^Smde till no avenue of thought 
or work remained unexplored. 

To write about a country and its people now, it is only 
necessary to travel in such a country for three weeks. During 
that time one may write articles enough to pay all travelling 
expenses, and the book that comes thereafter — an authoritative 
history of the country — should be clear profit. If you wish to 
become a society novelist, there is no other qualification 
necessary than complete ignorance of society. 

Suppose, however, that you are cursed with a vulgar curiosity 
to find out things for yourself what happens then ? Well, you 
must leave your motor car and strike out across the fields and 
ditches. You must go up narrow and unpaved ways, and you 
will find things of which the pretty little Guide has given you 
no account whatever. Then you throw away your book in 
di^st, and wander alone till you get lost in the most hopeless 
labyrinth of strange and unknown ways ; and you will be lost 
for ever unless a merciful Providence and strong common- 
sense helps you to disentangle the crooked paths and set 
you in a straight way. Of course, if anyone chooses to forsake 
elected methods— to find out things for himself, to deal with 



Snttodttctfon 3 

matters in a^ay that is not orthodox — he must expect numbers 
of excellent people to be scandalised. Suppose^ for instance, 
one were tAthrow aside one’s identity and obtain a *'job” 
with other haM*to-mouth workers in a meat-packing factory, 
and found there^^trid animal matter being concocted, with 
the ingenuity worthy %^^better object, into savouries, potted 
meats, and various canned dlMacies, tew dreadfully shocked 
one would be. This sort of crime, the Social A. B. C. says, is 
only committed by the wicked American Beef Trust. 

Then suppose, because of having a tiny capital to invest, a 
person comes to take a keen interest in commercial and 
financial matters, and follows with intelligent reasoning the 
fluctuations in the Stock Market ; and at the same time, having 
some property at stake, and also possessing some small instinct 
of citizenship, this person begins to study, and inquire closely 
concerning political matters, would it be possible to conceive 
the horror with which such an one would accept the discovery 
that the Chinese Labour Question in Africa was really a sort 
of foraging tiger owned by certain gentlemen who, on occasions 
when their financial affairs were not altogether prospering, let 
this animal loose on the public to bring them meat? The 
astonished victim would at once cry out : ** This is not fair. 
Such things are only done in America by wicked trust 
magnates, my Social A. B. C. tells me so, and says : ' Nobody 
in this country has a license to rob the public. ’ ” Yet if one 
goes along in the byways, one stumbles upon many strange 
discoveries, and even the matter of writing a book becomes so 



4 9ntroMtctlon 

difficult that it takes years of living and thinking Ibefore it is 
possible to venture on such an undertaking. K has taken 
me eight years of life in England, varied with/considerable 
travel in America and Europe, to gain even abusing glimpse 
of affairs as they are. The work and stu^^f my whole life 
have gone to make up these pages, and^ would require twenty 
such lives as mine, asid Cupacif^^ ten thousandfold greater, to 
make a book that is at all worthy of the subjects that are 
herein touched on in a humble and very imperfect manner. 

There are so many worlds I To an ardent young student ' 
working at art or music, there is no other world but that into 
which he finds himself plunged. To the society woman, there 
is no world beyond the circle of wealth. To the city man, the 
world is concentrated into his own office. And yet . there are 
a hundred other worlds of which one may never have any 
knowledge unless Fate or circumstances chance to open 
the gates thereof. 

A journey into some of these unknown lands brings reveta* 
tions stranger than those which came to St John at Fatmos, 
and one wakens up to the Guide life, either broken-hearted 
and despairing, or refreshed and made strong with the Divine 
passion for Justice and Truth. The one who wakes thus will be 
eager to travel the world around, to enlist recruits to the new 
citizenship tmder the banner of Truth. This call may be 
heeded by some, but most people, if they give the Banner- 
Bearer a thought at all, will only call him a fool for his pains, 
and say that as the world has got on very well for nineteen 



SntvoDuctton 5 

centuries it is likely to get on all right for a little longer. Of 
this, the “ f^l ’* will take no heed, for he will know in his 
. heart that tie world must tend towards better ideals and 
better life, or^he end will be shameful. 

To those whoi^ 'e^ll have faith in humanity and a belief in 
God, this book is dedice^^ed. 




CHAPTER I 


THE FIRST VIEW OF LONDON — STUDENT DAYS — MUSIC 
FOR ROYALTY — ONE^6P"'**'jfeE MILLION 

I AM sitting at a window of my London flat looking out 
upon a street of brick buildings. A Board school is at one 
end, and a barrel-organ discourses music that is not sweet 
at the other. Between these two delectable points a constant 
stream of carmen’s vans and milk-carts run. Errand boys 
pass by the score, whistling snatches of music-hall ditties. 
There is no green or beautiful thing within view. In this 
unquiet place there is found neither peace nor rest^ but only 
a sense of constant movement and sound. Yet here we are^ 
with several hundred other folks as foolish as ourselves, 
located in one of those hideous blocks of flats which, by a 
travesty of terms, people call "home:” For these cramped 
and unrestful places, with the heavy smell of London 
always about us, we pay rents which in three years’ time 
would buy outright some charming country place which 
would make a true and comfortable home. It is not till 
the years have taught us experience that we realise how 
foolishly we live, and what contemptible slaves we are to 
fashion. Nevertheless, to all of us who have made London 
our abiding-place^ there is in this relentless and cruel city 
a weird and inexplicable fascination binding us with bands 
so strong that, in breaking them, we would sever some of 
our heart-strings. 


7 



< VfK Soul Aatftet 

To this dull town there come pilgrims from all parts of 
the universe^ some to move on at the word of the policeman 
Circumstance, some to stay. 

Sitting here, confronted with the burden of a contract 
which binds me to deliver a book I have promised to make 
into the publisher’s hands by a specified time, my thoughts 
turn involuntarily to other days and other lands, where there 
is neither rush nor hurry, and where life, seen at this 
distance, takes on maif;*^?fff9CFions, though at the lime it 
appeared uneventful enough. I grow despairing when I 
think that in one little book must be told the story of a 
life that has taken twenty years to live. Which of all the 
events shall I choose, and which leave out? How will it 
be possible to make anything like a consecutive narrative 
of things that have befallen, when there are thousands of 
miles to bring within a narrow compass, and a hundred lives 
from which to create but one? 

This is my first book, and the advice I have received 
concerning the writing of it would in itself amount to an 
interesting volume* My friends are as eager as I am that 
it should be well done and a success. One says to me: 
“Adopt a staid and literary manner;” another advises a 
colloquial and journalistic style, with a view to rendering 
it easy for newspapers to quote a paragraph from any page. 
An ardent socialist friend urges me to paint in the darkest 
shades, blotting out the light, for he is sure there is too 
much levity about serious things in these days. Another 
bids me write in an artless fashion, with a fairy touch, 
saying people nowadays have no time to read heavy books. 
So here I sit, puzzled amidst the wealth of counsel delivered 
to me, till at last, in despair, I elect to do what I have done 
almost all my life — receive everybody’s advice thankfully, 
and do what my own conscience bids me do. It would 



9 


tCbe ^tr9t IDfew of XonDon 

have been easier to write this book impersonally as a story. 
Had the author of “The Jungle” written his book as a 
personal experience, he would probably by this time have 
been languishing in an American prison. He was wise 
when he gave the world a book in which he could 
mingle facts with fancy and step out from the fire of 
criticism unscathed himself. 

But I have to write of t hings as I had personal know- 
ledge of them. The stories and~events here written are all 
true. The only difference I have made between actual 
happenings and the recording thereof lies in the fact that I 
have changed localities and names, so as to avoid unpleasant 
consequences to individuals while trying to serve the majority. 
And the incidents are narrated, as the story demands, with 
a view to continuity, instead of in the irregular fashion in 
which they occurred. 

I began student life in India hoping to qualify for a university 
degree, and towards this end I studied for the matriculation 
— or, as it is called in India, the Entrance Examination — ^to 
an Indian university. The studies were conducted under 
circumstances that seem almost play, w^en compared with 
the heart and blood studies of life that I havq since made. 
There were gardens and flowers and care-free days. Later it 
was (fiscovered that I had a voice, and it was urgently advised 
by those who understood these matters, that I should be sent 
to England to train as a public singer. A friend who loved 
me, and believed that I really possessed the gift of a beautiful 
voice, was instrumental in helping me to accomplish the 
desire of my heart — ^which was to study in England. So I 
left my native country, and crossed the seas to what wa% for 
me, a foreign land. 

I came with an humble heart and absolute faith in every- 
thing that was English. On crossing over from France and 



lo Vbe Soul /Darliet 

entering the train that was to bear me to London, my heart 
began to beat so fast that I felt choking, and having a 
carriage to myself, I stood at the window all the way from 
Newhaven to London. The guard was extremely kind, and 
came to speak to me at every stopping-place. I asked him as 
a particular favour to tell me the very instant London was 
reached. Presently the train slowed down, and we began 
passing over what see med to ja e a black-looking wilderness, 
strewn with disused flower-pots of strange shapes — I had 
never seen an English chimney-pot in my life, and when 
confronted with miles of them for the first time, I was 
absolutely puzzled to know what they were. It was growing 
dark, and was very cold when we reached London Bridge. 
The guard came to my carriage door and said : “ This is 
London, miss.” My heart sank like lead. This London I 
This horrible, black place, the city of a thousand dreams! 
A place I had thought of almost night and day while travelling 
8,000 miles to reach it 1 I had, however, to travel to a little 
place in Kent, and I shall never, all my life, cea^e to be 
grateful for the welcome I received on arriving at my 
destination. I was a stranger, alone, very young, very 
inexperienced, and already more than half disappointed. 
Three days after, I was enrolled as a student at the Royal 
College of Music. Sir Hubert Parry, the most genial, 
accomplished, and charming of directors, met me himself 
and took me into a practice-room, and asked me what 1 
could do. 

I said : “ Nothing.” 

He said : “ Will you sing something for me ? ” 

I felt I could not sing a note to save my life. However, he 
played a scale on the piano, and asked me to sing the notes 
for him. I did so, and after several other exercises he 
said: 



II 


Ube first IDiew of Xonbon 

“You have a singing mouth and a musical voice ; we must 
see what we can make of you.’' 

He took me to Mr. Henry Blower, whom I came later to 
know and love for his many kindnesses to me. The director 
said : 

“ I have brought you a little girl who has come thousands 
of miles to us ; you must take care of her.” 

Mr. Blower heard me sing,«^j 34 cS^j^ thought my voice 
had the same peculiar timbre as that of Madam Alice Gomez. 

There were several other students in the room at the time I 
was introduced, and I remember well sitting in a chair by the 
fire, with a big furry cloak on, feeling, and no doubt looking, 
the picture of abject misery. Students, however, of whatever 
class, are, I think, the most kindly and friendly people on the 
face of the earth. Since those days, which seem so far off, I 
have met university students, science students, students of 
arts, students of literature, students training for almost 
every imaginable profession, and I have found them as 
a class most delightful people to live among, and to deal 
with. 

There were nearly 500 students in the Royal College of 
Music when I entered. Some have since made great successes 
in their profession. Across the road, opposite the College^ 
stood Alexandra House, the students’ hostelry, which has 
always been a place of particular interest to Her Majesty the 
Queen, who honours it every year with a visit Indeed, His 
Majesty the King, when Prince of Wales, and the Queen 
were both intimately associated with the Royal College and 
Alexandra House, and it is to their gracious interest that 
both these places owe the splendid position they hold in the 
musical world. The Royal College has come to be r^arded 
as one of the most excellent schools in the world for musical 
training. Students come there from every part of the 



19 


TCbe Sottl Aatrftet 

universe and the professorial staff is composed of the 
most brilliant teacher^ drawn from the musical centres 
of Europe. 

Attached to the College is the splendid Concert Hall in 
which are held the students’ concerts, which are some- 
times patronised by Royalty. Sir Hubert Parry himself 
gave the beautiful organ for this hall, and there is a 
splendid platform on ^ which the students may practise. 
In this hall on two afternoons of every week may be heard 
some of the most delightful music that it is possible 
to hear in London. The students’ orchestra, under Sir 
Villiers Stanford, practises one afternoon. Each of the 
players is a young and enthusiastic student, who is studying 
as a professional soloist. On another afternoon in each week 
the Choral Class assembles for practice under Sir Walter 
Parratt, who is the King’s Master of Music and organist at 
the Chapel Royal, Windsor, a most remarkable and accom- 
plished man. Sir Walter Parratt has the reputation of being 
able to play a fugue from Bach, a game of chess, and give an 
organ lesson at one and the same time, and woe betide the 
scholar who slurs a note or plays a wrong one I As a choral 
trainer Sir Walter is admirable. He has a brilliant turn 
of wit, and the knack of inspiring each of his students to do 
his or her best. On some occasions Sir Hubert Parry himself 
conducts the singing. It can, of course, be understood 
how eager every student of singing is to be admitted into 
the Choral Class, for the privilege attached to this class 
is, that conditionally upon a certain number of attendances 
having been put in, the student is given an opportunity of 
singing in the class at the State Concerts at Buckingham 
Palace. On these occasions the girls are all required 
to dress in white. They receive a guinea each, and a 
supper is provided at the Palace. They sit on the 



>3 


Ube fleet IDiew ot Xonbon 

platform, and have an opportunity of watching the most 
brilliant audience in the world assemble, and of pay- 
ing vocal homage to the most beloved of reigning 
sovereigns. 

While I was at the College, there came to the students one 
of those dearly prized opportunities of singing for the Queen. 
It was almost the last public appearance of Queen Victoria. 
She came to lay the foundation -sto ne of the South Kensington 
School of Art — though I am not *^solutely certain which of 
the group of buildings it was. The thing, however, that no 
student would ever forget, was that the Queen specially 
requested that the College Choral Class should sing for her 
on that occasion. The students were almost wild with loyalty 
and delight. By the Queen’s desire, the girls all wore pure 
white dresses, with no colours whatever. Among the class 
were Miss Agnes Nicholls, Mr. Ivor Foster, and many who 
since then have become known to the public as first-rate 
artistes. 

Sir Hubert Parry stood in front of us, a charming and 
courtly figure, and before the Queen’s carriage arrived, he 
said eagerly : “ Now mind you all do your best ” — and I think 
we did, for the little lady in black, who sat propped up in her 
carriage on a cushion, bowed and smiled repeatedly, and 
thanked Sir Hubert for the pleasure his students’ singing had 
given her. The Prince of Wales, now our King, read the 
Welcome Speech to the Queen, and in answer, she spoke so 
loudly and so clearly that her words were heard quite distinctly 
by us all. 

It was the last time 1 saw the Queen. Soon after came our 
last opportunity to do her reverence, and I, with many other 
students, waited sorrowfully for "the passing of the Great 
Queen.” From a window in Victoria Street, we saw her 
borne through the thousands of silent, mourning people, to 



*4 


TCbe Soul Aadiet 


her last resting-place. Some of us bad risen at three o’clock 
that morning to find our places there to wait, that we might 
add our tribute of devotion. 

During my early days at College I saw, of course, chiefly 
the bright side of life. Those days were certainly some 
of the happiest I have had in my life. I was able to practise 
six hours a day — with regulated intervals, of course — and 
each day seemed to bring some new and delightful know- 
ledge. I lived for a time with another student in lodgings 
near Sloane Square, and several times during my first 
summer in London, we walked at four o’clock in the 
morning to Covent Garden to see the flowers and fruit. 
On these occasions we returned with baskets full of flowers 
which we purchased for a few pennies. In any London 
shop these same blossoms would have cost many shillings; 
but we did not look like American sight-seers ; so at Covent 
Garden we bought them cheaply. It must be remwked that 
Americans are always considered fair prey. Special prices 
are made for them everywhere in London. On one occasion 
a very amusing incident happened. The girl who was living 
with me was very much attracted by some extraordinary-look- 
ing lilies, which were displayed by an old woman whom I 
have since come to know as a typical Covent Garden “ band.” 
Being extremely fond of flowers, and having spent my child- 
hood among the most rare and lovely flowers, I have what a 
country friend of mine calls a “ sense ” for them. The appear- 
ance of these lilies struck me as being extremely odd, and 
looking down at them closely, I asked the old lady if they 
were painted. 

'‘Fainted!” she said disgustedly. “O’ course not! they 
grows like that there.” 

My companion insisted on buying some. 

“Don’t,” I said. “Can’t you smell the paint?” There 



TTbe first IDiew of Xonbon 15 

tras a big dash of green in the centre of each white 
lily. 

“ Nonsense 1 ” said my companion, “ of course they are not 
painted.” 

She bought a bunch ef the lilies for sixpence, and stuck 
her nose into one to inhale the scent ; when she withdrew it, 
a brilliant spot of green adorned the organ. The more she 
rubbed with her handkerchief, the more the paint seemed to 
settle into her nose. It was oil-paint, and I laughed myself 
nearly into hysterics over her plight. Even the policemen, as 
we passed them, had sympathetic jokes to make on my 
companion’s appearance. 

In those days I had no personal knowledge of the life of 
the people in and about Covent Garden, and it was not till I 
had been in England some months that I became acquainted 
with parts of the world outside the charmed musical circle, 
although I had always been interested in the poor, and had 
helped to collect money for Dr. Bamardo’s Homes when I was 
a child in India. 

One late autumn evening, on my way home from the College, 
a poorly-clad woman, with a child in her arms, followed me for 
a little way, begging that I would buy some flowers she had. 
I told her I did not want the flowers, but she still followed 
me, and when I turned to speak to her, I saw that she looked 
very thin and miserable. She noticed that I hesitated and 
tears filled her eyes. 

“I have not taken a penny to-day, miss,” she said. “Bgy 
’em, and you won’t regret it.” 

The flowers were quite wilted, and as I had been most 
seriously warned never to give money in the streets, or to 
believe stories told to me by such people, I refused to buy 
the flowers. 

“Indeed,” I said again, “ I don’t want them,” and walked 



i6 ^ TCbe Soul Aarftet 

quickly away. But I had not gone more than a few yards, 
when a horrible feeling came over me. I was hurrying home 
to a comfortable, warm room and good food, and here was a 
poor creature, with a little child^ out in. the wet streets. I 
turned back and joined the woman. After walking along 
with her for some way, and hearing her story, I said to her : 
“ If you care to come with me to my rooms, I will give you 
some tea for yourself and some milk for the child, and then 
I would like to go with you to your lodgings and see if what 
you tell me is true.” 

It ain’t the kind of place that’s fit for you to see, miss,” 
she said reluctantly. 

** Oh i that doesn’t matter at all,” I argued. ** I shall be 
quite ready to go if you will take me.” 

I decided that if the woman’s distress was as genuine as 
she said it was, she would not object to come to my lodgings 
and wait till I was ready to accompany her to her place later 
on. She followed me to my room, where I changed my dress 
for an old one, and leaving my watch and ring^ there, we set 
out for the woman’s home. We walked westward again. I 
did not at that time know the locality, and could not have 
found my way alone. From the outskirts of a well-to-do 
neighbourhood, we plunged suddenly into a vile and narrow 
street, where the gutters were thick with refuse. Into a house 
opening on to this lane, the woman led me. We stumbled up 
some dark and rickety stairs to the fourth storey, where, in a 
miserable little room I found, lying on the floor on a heap of 
rags, a man who, as far as I could judge, seemed dying. 

Looking back through the years at my first introduction to 
London’s ugly places, I always feel glad of the prompting that 
took me back to that poor woman. Many a time and often, 
since then, I have been deceived and cheated by clever liars. 
But from what I know of the lives of the poor, I would rather 




Photo by liana. Ltd., Bedford Stri'et, Strand, 

MISS MALVKKV AS A FLOWER-GIRL. 



STARTING OFF ON AN ORGAN-GRINDING EXPEDITION. 





ttfte jriwt Wiew Of ftonOon ! xr 

have it sO| than labour under the burden of pasaiog a sUithig 
woman and a suffering, dying child in the streets, haying 
myself a home and food, and all things necessary to make 
life livable. 

There was nothing in this miserable room save a tiny 
saucepan on an empty stove. There was no fire, no vrarmth 
or light, and no furniture. Not a quarter of a mile away were 
streets of splendid houses, whose waste would have kept mkny 
such a family as this. After this experience, when an invita* 
tion came to me from a friend who was much interested in a 
club for girls at Lambeth, to help her occasionally by singing 
for them, I complied with the request willingly, and so began 
my first introduction to a class of people whom, since those 
days, 1 have come to know exceedingly well. Later, to my 
infinite good, I gained the friendship of Mrs. Rae, President 
of the Girls’ Guild of Good Life at Hoxton. This friendship, 
and the memory of one other most precious, have inspired the 
humble efforts 1 have since made to pass on my blessings.” 

Many and varied were the concerts and entertainments the 
students from the Royal College assisted at, in and about 
London. My experience of professional musicians and 
entertainers is, that they are most generous in giving their 
services and time for those less fortunate than themselves. 
Indeed, so greatly has this characteristic been traded on by 
society ladies and philanthropic institutions in London and 
elsewhere, that it has become a matter of extreme difficulty 
for a young student, who has spent many years and large sums 
of money in acquiring good training as a musician, to obtain 
any remuneration for such services. During the last five years 
I have had several thousand requests to appear at various 
charity concerts, entertainments, and bazaars in every part of 
the kingdom. These philanthropic displays cost the organ- 
isers nothing. Every artiste of any standing is pressed to 



Ubt sotti Aarfiet 


.18 

render free service on these occasions ; tradesmen are almost 
compelled to contribute goods in kind, and the only people 
who contribute nothing except their time, which is really of 
no valuer are those who receive the public thanks for their 
large generosity and untiring zeal in " giving ” so much for 
charity. The “ giving ” is done by those who hardly receive 
even a word of acknowledgment 
It was quite by accident that I became a public reciter 
instead of a singer. I studied elocution at the College, for the 
purpose of obtaining a clear enunciation. At this time I was 
also studying English Literature with a well-known Oxford 
scholar, and I wrote two descriptive poems which I called 
“ Indian Pictures.” My tutor was so pleased with these that 
he advised me to have them set to music as a '* scena ” for 
solo and orchestra. The late Mr. W. Y. Hurlstone undertook 
to set these poems to music. Instead, however, of setting 
them for orchestra, he set them for recitation, and, with no 
idea of doing them in public myself, I recited them over 
and over for him as he played the music. Thati year, how- 
ever, I was invited to recite one of my own poems at a 
concert at a Literary Institute. Mr. Hurlstone accom- 
panied me, playing his own music. We had a splendid 
reception. The London Press gave us generous praise. Even 
the Times said kind things of the performance, and we felt 
supremely happy. Circumstances compelled me shortly after 
to begin work immediately, and I taught and studied at the 
same time. Fortunately I loved teaching. When a tiny child, 
I accompanied my grandmother, who had at one time thirty 
schools for girls and women in her charge in India. I had a 
wooden slate and reed pen, and often taught quite old women 
to make their letters. My grandmother was a very accom- 
plished woman and a fine reader. She used to make me 
stand at one end of the long verandah of our house, while she 



*9 


Zbe fltet tflew of xonoon 

sat at the other end and listened to me, as I read aloud 
passages from newspapers, poetry, or choice literature. I 
learned in this way to use my voice naturally and well 

It was an extremely providential thing for me that I became 
known as a teacher. I obtained a visiting “lectureship” at a 
Girls’ College where I had an elocution class — and gradually 
I had quite a number of pupils. Two members of Parliament, 
one well-known barrister, and several clergymen came to me 
with recommendations from friends. The work was a 
constant delight to me, and I have had reason to be very 
proud of some of my pupils. 

As soon as I had obtained a few professional successes and 
gained some friends, I found myself invited out very often, 
and from quite the first days of my career I might have 
employed myself every day in the week during the season at 
some “At Home” or Charity Function. A few experiences, 
however, of such things satisfied me that there was nothing to 
gain from them. The favour of society is fickle. 1 saw one 
after another of society entertainers “taken up” and flung 
aside for the next craze. 

One lady I was introduced to as being very philanthropic 
and a great worker for charity, added some ;^ 3 oo a year to 
her income by this means. The way I first discovered this 
ingenious method of acquiring money was when she asked me 
to assist her in organising a big charity concert. I did almost 
all the drudgery — persuaded several well-known artistes to 
give their services, and sold ;^75 worth of tickets. The 
concert was a great success, and the hall was well filled. To 
my astonishment, when the receipts were declared the charity 
j £ 37 - The lady paid for her charming dress, several 
lunches and dinner-parties, and various other “extras” out 
of the proceeds of the concert, reckoning them as legitimate 
expenses. 



to 


Vbe Soul Aarltet 


I had another experience of a charity function — a bazaar — 
where I found the Secretary had all her confectionery and 
grocery provided for her for over a month from the bazaar 
stores. After this I resolved I would never assist at a charity 
function of any sort unless I knew the promoters intimately, 
and was personally interested in the charity. 

Britain gives more in charity yearly than any other nation. 
Her charity is the most costly and badly managed of any. 
There are hundreds of people employed to-day in London 
alone, in collecting and distributing charity. If a central 
office were established, presided over by responsible Govern- 
ment-paid officers, a vast amount of real good might be 
effected at a small cost. 

It is always, of course, on poor entertainers the heaviest 
burdens of these charity entertainments fall. One agent in 
London who manages” numbers of these functions makes 
every unknown artiste who wants to appear, pay him ;^io for 
the introduction.” This money, of course, does not go to 
the charity. 

I have often wondered whether it would not be possible to 
insist on a Government license for all charity functions, a 
statement of receipts and expenses being made to special 
authorities in charge of such a department, created for the 
protection of the public. In the matter of these and similar 
performances, I would always say to young beginners, “ Don’t 
give your services to great ladies for an ‘introduction,’ unless 
you are quite sure that you are to get paid work from such 
an introduction, and never give money to an agent for the 
purpose of obtaining a public appearance. No appearance 
paid for in this way is worth making.” 

Two friends of my own, girls who could ill afford any 
outlay of capital, paid two different men — musical agents in 
London— the sum of each for an appearance, one at 



21 


Ubc fbest View of XonOon 

Queen’s Hall| and one at a fashionable charity concert at 
one of the Ducal houses. In the first case, the concert 
programme was made up of unknown people, and the 
audience composed of their friends, and the Press conspicuous 
by its absence. In the second case, the girl came in last on 
a programme which was contributed to by some of the most 
brilliant artistes of the day. Nobody waited to hear her. 
1 have known other cases in which money has been paid on 
one pretext or another, to agents who have never troubled in 
any way to fulfil the promises made. There is one agent now in 
London, who once had j£io from me; the one and only time 
I have ever had such a transaction with an agent. This 
money was paid in advance, for printing and other expenses, 
of a concert he was to manage for me. He appeared 
to have but little credit, and was unable to sell a 
single ticket. It was the only concert I have ever had 
which was, from every point of view, a failure. It cost 
me about ^^30, and this because, instead of managing the 
affair myself, or trusting it to a well-known and experienced 
agent, many of whom I know well, I was over-persuaded 
by an enthusiastic friend to leave the matter in this man’s 
hands. He is living ngw in comfortable style, with a town 
and country house. Many poor beginners pay him suins of 
money for appearances at his club, and other places which 
do them no good whatever. 

In the matter of appearing at society At Homes,.” most 
young artistes, if they are attractive enough, will always find, for 
a year or two, society ladies who will ” take them up,” give 
them a tea or dinner, and take their services, which have cost 
them years of work and an outlay of considerable capital to 
acquire. But at the end of the time they would find them- 
selves, instead of being popular and in demand, worn out, 
despised, and cast aside for the first new-comer who created 



22 


XLbc Soul Aarltet 


some sensation in the entertaining world. Except in some 
rare cases where the appearance might be before Royalty, or 
well-known patrons of art, there is not only no advantage, but 
positive harm to a student in allowing fashionable women to 
entertain their friends at the cost of giving to the artiste a 
half-crown tea. There are little incidental expenses to be 
paid for, such as cabs, shoes, gloves, etc., and the student had 
much better keep her money, and have a fourpenny tea in 
an A.B.C. shop. 

Lately I had an invitation from a woman who entertains a 
great deal in London. She was giving a large garden-party 
at her country place, and generously invited me, saying how 
charmed she would be to have a few recitations. The reward 
to me was to be the chance of introduction to ** such useful 
people, some of the best in society, in fact.” As there is hardly 
a city in this kingdom where I have not recited or spoken, I 
wrote and thanked this lady for her kind invitation, and said 
that I was not working for introductions, but that I would be 
delighted to recite for her at my usual fee. ^ 

This, however, may be said here. An agent can do 
nothing for anyone whose work is not really good, and the 
public are really the arbiters of an entertainer’s fate, and it is 
by the public that an artiste must stand or fall. Once an 
artiste makes a public success, there is no fear that “Society” 
will be neglectful Good work is a fairly reliable capital. 

There came one day to the studio of a great professor 
with whom I was then studying, a lady and her daughter, 
who had travelled the world over in search of instruction. 
The lady was an American and well-to-do. She had spent, 
she told my master, £ 3,000 in having her daughter trained. 
She came to him finally for a few finishing touches and an 
introduction to London. The professor heard the young 
woman sing. She certainly showed evidences of extreme 



*3 


Ubc fivBt IDiew of XonOon 

cultivation, but her voice was small and very unattractive. 
The professor said : “ Madam, if the masters could have 
made your daughter a singer she would be one of the 
finest in the world, but God Almighty evidently had other 
intentions for her. She had better take up millinery: 
it is an admirable outlet for feminine talent.” The fury of 
the two ladies may be imagined. How much more they 
spent in the vain endeavour to foist an absolutely incom- 
petent person on the public, we never heard, but as far as 
we know, the public has not proved that it was waiting to 
fall over them with a welcome. 

The real patrons of music and art in England are "the 
people.” Society is not really musical at all. If it were, 
there would not be so many starving musicians scattered 
about The very rich are seldom truly artistic or musical, 
though there is a fashion among them of “posing” as 
patrons of music and art What society runs after is the 
latest sensation. It rarely ever encourages unknown talent 

Every year there come to the various educational centres 
hundreds of enthusiastic young folk from towns and villages 
all over the kingdom, all hoping to be Pattis, Paderewskis, 
or Joachims, and only one out of several thousands succeeds 
in making even a living. English artistes, notwithstanding 
recent endeavours to cultivate British music, are not popular. 
Here and there one supreme genius may succeed in winning 
fame and success, but hundreds drop out of the ranks. 

To English and American women, most foreign artistes 
owe their fame and their professional income. It was in 
Paris that I met one of these society darlings. He was 
drawing every year from the pockets of English and 
American ladies several thousands of pounds. He owed 
the very instrument with which he won his success to the 
generosity of an English friend. English and ghrla 



»4 Ube Soul Aavbet 

• 

had palted him with violets and roses ; they would have lain 
down and allowed him to make a door-mat of them, feeling 
grateful for tne compliment In a Paris drawing-room where 
he was being jtted by a great company of foreigners, someone 
said to him : 

“Ah I Monsieur, you will be marrying a rich American or 
a beautiful English wife.” 

He laughed a horrid, sneering laugh and said : 

“English or American wife! No, no; don’t you make 
any mistake: they are too cheap — too very cheap.” 

On one occasion, speaking to the late Mr. Vert, I asked 
him to explain to me the mystery of the sudden success 
which had overwhelmed a foreign artiste who had appeared 
in London for a few weeks. He said : “ Oh ! Mrs. So-and-So 
has put aside will be a great 

success.” Everyone in the musical world knows of a hundred 
such cases, and it is one of the most pitiful things in life to 
see gifted and enthusiastic young students working with heart 
and mind in the vain hope that their own countrymen and 
women will some day give them a welcome. If they were 
long-haired, oily, foreign, and immoral, their chances of 
success would be a thousand to one; but being British, 
aud poor and clean, their chances are one to a thousand. 

There died, a few months ago, in London a young English 
musician, who was, according to the highest and best critics 
of the day, a living example of the capacity and talent which 
is sometimes to be found in British composers. He was a 
senior student when I entered college, and even then his 
compositions and executive capacity had won for him a fair 
reputatioa He worked almost continuously, and being of a 
delicate and extremely sensitive nature, his health gave way. 
Still for him there was no respite. He was not among the 
fortunate few. Although his work was beautiful and worthy 



XEbe first tDiew of Xonbon 95 

in every sense, yet it did not gain for him either standing or 
money among his own people. He was the only support of a 
widowed mother and two sisters. After years of splendid 
work, and the production of compositions which were 
admittedly the work of a God-gifted artist, he was at length 
elected to a professorship at the Royal College of Music. 
Hardly had this happened when the effects of the long strain 
of work and comparative hardship he had endured ended his 
career. He died suddenly. There were a few laudatory 
notices in the papers — and that was all. Yet here was a 
young and splendid life which might have been an ornament 
to this country absolutely sacrificed to the cruel and wicked 
fashion of crushing out everything that is British, and fostering 
and encouraging everything that is foreign. Of course for 
the great foreign artistes who bring their beautiful gifts to share 
with us we can have nothing but admiration and kindliness. 
Such gifts are not confined to particular countries or localities, 
and the world is ready to pay homage to them wherever they 
are found. For myself, I owe my introduction and success 
in Paris entirely to one of the greatest of living artistes — 
Madame CalvA One day at lunch in a friend’s house in New 
York, I met CalvA As I entered the room she got up from 
the table and came to meet me with that charming and warm- 
hearted friendliness which is so characteristic of her. She is 
a beautiful woman, and has a lovely smile. 1 was completely 
captivated. No on^ of course, in a private house would 
think of asking Calv^ to sing, but that afternoon she said to 
me : “ Is there anything I can do to give you pleasure ? 
Shall I sing something for you?” And she got up^ there 
and then, and stood by the piano, and sang three exquisite 
little chansonettes— Provencal songs. More lovely, spontane- 
ous music I have never heard. Two years after, when in 
Paris, I sent Calv6 a little note, merdy stating that I was in 



i6 Ubc Soul Aarliet 

ihe city, for I did not know whether she would have time, or 
care to renew the acquaintance. In answer, she sent down 
her companion in her motor, and bade her bring me to her 
box at the opera. Every day after that, Calv^, or some friends 
to whom she introduced me, sent their carriages for me, and 
took me to every performance of any merit that was going on 
in Paris. I met some of the most charming hostesses in 
French and American - French society, and gave several 
recitals there, which the papers were kind enough to say 
were ''triumphs of art,” and these successes I owe almost 
entirely to Calve and the friends 1 met through her. We 
sometimes drove along in her beautiful electric brougham 
into the country places, and there, in the clear air, this 
beautiful child of the sun would open her mouth and sing 
like a bird — naturally and carelessly. There are not many 
people, I fancy, who have had the privilege of hearing one of 
the world’s most gifted singers trill forth lovely little songs, 
one after the other, in those beautiful country lanes. Calve 
was going to Monte Carlo at that time to fulfil a professional 
engagement there, and wished to take me with her, promising 
to give several big concerts at which she wished me to recite. 
I was not able, however, to take advantage of this generous 
and delightful offer, for I received a commission from Pearson's 
Magazine and an American Sjmdicate to travel in Europe and 
give an account of the condition and methods of alien 
emigration. 

Accompanied by my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Northrop, I 
made an extensive tour in Europe. We visited almost every 
European port, and going inland, made investigations as to 
the people’s lives, and economic and social conditions. From 
the southern European ports we travelled northward again, 
and passing through Switzerland and Germany, reached the 
Russian frontier, but here^ although I possessed private letters 



87 


XCbe first View of Xonbon 

from a Russian nobleman of enormous influence, a passport 
visid by the Russian Ambassador, and another by the 
American Consul-General, ve met with extremely rough 
usage. The Russians were at that time sufiering from 
nervous prostration ; they were seeing Japanese spies in the 
most harmless individuals, and a camera-box, to them, was 
most certainly a deadly instrument. It was shortly after the 
Russian outrage on the British Ashing fleet When we found 
we could get no satisfaction, we travelled towards Poland, 
where Jhe insurrection was rampant. I had met several 
distinguished Poles in Paris, and carried with me private 
letters, with very minute instructions as to how and when I 
might deliver them without arousing the suspicions of the 
Russian Poles. Furthermore, I had introductions to one or 
two of the Russian ofScials, and well authenticated passports. 
I was able to study in their own countries the emigrants that 
pour like a destroying flood into Britain year by year. I 
think it was while living with the outcast poor as a “ street 
musician ” that I first conceived the idea of studying these. 

I had seen the alien in London, I had been present, 
through the courtesy of officials at Ellis Island in America, at 
an examination of emigrants there ; and once while a guest 
of the Republican Club at a luncheon held at the Waldorf 
Astoria Hotel in New York, I heard a lecture delivered by 
Mr. Robinson, Superintendent of Emigration, dealing with the 
question of immigration as relating to the United States. 
Later, in a conversation with Mr. Robinson, he explained to 
me how advantageous it was for America to receive a large 
supply of emigrant^ strong and stalwart^ simple and decent 
people, drawn from the Saxon races of Europe. He pointed 
out bow the wide plains of the Western States were waituig 
for cultivation, and how the tight sort of immigration mmmt 
prosperity and wealth to the country. The real danger to the 



Ube Soul Aarftet 


28 

United States, he said, was the never-ending stream of poverty- 
stricken and diseased creatures, who, in spite of the 
increasingly severe regulations, managed to secure an entrance 
into America. It struck me then, that if the Americans, with 
all their wealth and their almost unlimited land, could not 
afford to receive people of the lower emigrant classes, little 
England, over-populated and unable to provide food for her 
own people, was certainly not the country to allow indis- 
criminate hordes of miserable wretches, the offscourings of 
Europe, to invade her shores. This opinion was justified by 
the sojourn I made among the poor and outcast, chiefly in 
London, and the journey to Europe which I took, to study 
the immigrant “ at home.” But of these matters I will treat 
elsewhere. The musical part of this story would not be 
complete without an account of the adventures which befel 
me while making “ music for the millions.” 



CHAPTER II 


A ‘^heathen” at the opera — MUSIC FOR THE MILLION 

During my student days^ I attended many concerts of all 
descriptions, festivals in some of our northern towns, such as 
Leeds and York, ‘‘popular” concerts held at Queen’s Hall, 
and like places, and those marvellous musical feasts given on 
special high days and holidays at such places as the Albert 
Hall and the People’s Palace. Provided the programmes 
contain the names of known and loved artistes, the crowds at 
all these musical entertainments prove the innate love of 
music that “ the people ” have. But cheap and excellent as 
are the musical programmes provided in the well-known halls, 
there are thousands of dwellers in the poorer parts of the 
towns who are unable to spend even a shilling to gratify their 
love of sweet sounds, and it is in the poor streets, therefore — 
in the byways and alleys — ^that the peripatetic musicians and 
grinders of the barrel-organ find the coppers come most 
generously to their hands. 

The interest that 1 took in the lives and fortunes of the 
poor led me to make a closer acquaintance with the makers 
of music for “the millions,” and the place they fill in the 
scheme of affairs. 

In looking back over events and tracing the gradual 
education of my senses, I am compelled to wonder at the 
enormous difference a few years spent in a “civilised” country 
makes on one’s mind and manners. When I was still new to 

29 



30 trbe Soul Asrfiet 

fii^Ush fiuhions, I was taken by friends to the opera. It was 
a gala performance. We had a box^ and the party was a gay 
and. fashionable one, and to me a night at the opera was quite 
an event. 1 had been to a pantomime at Drury Lane, and 
had enjoyed the lights and colours, though I felt rather like a 
lady I met at a reading given by Mark Twain in India. We 
had been enjoying the famous humorist’s stories immensely, 
but as we came out regretting the end of the performance, 
this lady remarked : “ Well, I can’t see where the fun came 
in ; I can say funnier things than that myself.” So with me^ I 
could only laugh occasionally, and wasn’t educated up to the 
exquisite humour of the clown’s falls, and the thumping of 
one down by the other. 

My first impressions of the opera were of this same crude 
kind. It was a German opera. I did not understand German, 
but I loved music. What was my amazement, therefor^ to 
see a group of fat women with whitened noses come out and 
dance and sing. Then a very large lady, with quite a dis- 
tinctive figure, came out and made impassioned sounds to 
carefully arranged gestures. First she put out her right arm, 
then her left, then held both arms out together, and lastly 
clasped her hands over her star-spangled bosom. All her 
musical phrases ended with a terrifically high not^ and she 
got very red each time. After this there appeared from a side 
door a podgy man who turned out to be a great tenor. He 
trotted with little steps towards the lady and began to sing. As 
be sang they both moved apart He also had his particular 
gestures. I was not educated enough to know what they 
meant He b^an by putting his right hand on his heart, 
then he flung out the arm and placed his left hand on his 
heart; this don^ the left arm was thrown out, and finally, 
both hands were clasped over the heart. 'This ending, the 
lady began to sing : it was a duet They came together, the 



8 * 


B ^^tjefitben’* at the ®peta 

latge lady threw herself into the podgy tenor’s arms, he 
staggered several feet, there was a great clash of instruments, 
a wild shriek of human voices, and a storm of applause. 

“ Isn’t he divine ? ” asked my hostess. Then aside to 
another lady: “You know, my dear, they say she isn’t — 
Well—” 

” Oh, everyone knows that,” answered the other lady crossly. 
“How did you enjoy it?” she asked, turning to me. 

“Don’t they ever tumble down?” I said disappointedly. 
“They do at the pantomime. That always happens at the 
end— doesn’t it happen in the opera ? ” 

The whole party laughed, much to my amazement. Since 
those callow days I have been to the opera many scores of 
times. But after looking at the scene and fixing the picture 
in my mind, I shut my eyes and listen to the music, and put 
the action in for myself. It saves a great deal of annoyance 
and nervousness, unless, indeed, it be that some singers who 
can act are in the cast, but this happens so rarely that it 
is hardly worth counting on. 

Each set of people, each class, has its own peculiar ideas of 
pleasure, and I found among the street musicians I came to 
know later, styles and fashions as characteristic as those of 
the “stars” among musicians. 

Once, “for the fun of the thing,” I went out with a party 
of ladies and gentlemen, who, in masks and long doaks, 
picnicked on the river at Henley. Every one of the party 
was well-bom, and we were all fiiirly well off as regards 
worldly wealth, but the fun was what we wanted. We got 
more, however, for after paying our expenses, which included 
a “ club ” lunch, we had £13 over at the rad of the seebnd 
day. We were so gay and elated at our success, that we gave 
a sort of party for what the men called “those poor Johnnies ” 
—the humbler strollers along the river -way, who had not 



s» TUde Sottl Aatket 

made much money through exercising their vocal or 
instiiimental arts with untiring zeal. 

I mention this " outside ” experience merely to show that 
long before I got into actual touch with the poor wandering 
singers and players of our towns, I had resolved that if ever 
the opportunity came to me, I would find out through 
personal experience what claim these people have to our 
sympathy and toleration, and what place they fill in the 
myriad crannies of our hard social system. 

One afternoon, while waiting at a friend's for my right-hand 
man, a gentleman I will call Mr. C., to come in and tell me 
whether he had found a factory I could enter as a worker, 
there came up from the street a weird sound of— singing, 1 
suppose 1 must call it, for want of a more descriptive name. 
It really was a wheezy, broken succession of sounds, through 
which I distinguished a few notes and words of the well- 
known hymn, Art thou Weary, art thou Languid It was 
irresistibly comic, for it ran somewhat like this : * Hart thou 

. . . Hart thou . . . weery — ’ Thank you, miss ^nd the 
sound of a penny on the pavement — “‘weery. Hart thou 
languid—’ ” The doleful dirge was broken to pick up a penny 
or to cough. 

I said to my friend, on a sudden inspiration : “ Do invite 
that vocalist into the kitchen ; 1 want to ask her to let me 
go out with her for a little while.” 

Mr. C., coming in, good-naturedly went after the woman. 
We gave her some tea and a shilling, and she promised to 
come for me next day and take me out with her. We never 
saw her again. But we were not to be daunted. “ I’ll take 
you out myself,” said Mr. C, and so we arranged to try our 
luck as street singers one night. 

The experiment was very successful ; we took a ’bus to West 
Kensington, and as we alighted near the station, we heard a 



33 


a **l^befi** at tbe Apent 

woman singing in one of the streets close by. Down we went 
after her. Mr. C quickly got into conversation with her. 
He told her we also were singers, but were new to the game 
— “down on our luck *’ — “ no place for the likes of us in this 
’ere sphere,” he said. 

“ True enough,” the woman replied. “We ain’t much count 
— still we manage to live.” 

We talked for a while, then adjourned to a coffee-shop. 
The woman would have preferred a “ pub,” but I objected, 
so we discussed our plans over some extremely muddy coffee. 

The woman told us she had sung in the streets for five 
years, and afterwards I found she made it pay. She lived 
quite a distance off, and had her regular haunts where she 
went to sing. For her doleful songs and hymns sung out of 
tune, in gasps, she collected from sympathetic people quite a 
respectable sum of money duly. I asked her if she would 
allow me to accompany her. She looked up at me with a quick, 
shrewd glance. 

“Do you know any ’ymns?” she asked. '"Abide with 
Me ’ ? ” she further questioned. 

“ Yes,” I said, “ that is a hymn I know.” 

“All right; we’ll work that then,” and after I had agreed 
to let her collect the money, she said: “You can come 
to-moxrer,” and told me where to meet her. 

Next mommg at eleven o’clock I met her, and sre started 
off to Balham and Tooting. It tested every bit of my courage 
and sang-Jmd to get tbreugb that day. Street after street we 
traversed, keeping a sharp look-out for policemen, who could, 
if they srisbed, so my companion informed m^ “pot. ns 
inside” — ^that is, lock us op. 

1 doubted this, since I heard endless relays of street singers 
and street musicians pursuing tfaesr caUing in many respectable 
parts of London. But later, I looked up the Act in one of the 

0 



34 


TCbe SottI Aarliet 


Government Blue-Books myself, and found that singing, or 
making “ music” in the streets, is illegal if objected to by the 
householders. 

Nevertheless, I vent out with this woman for several days, 
and our singing never got us into trouble. We sometimes 
got as much as threepence in one street, and rarely sang 
through a street without something being given to us; At the 
end of the first day we had collected no less than seven 
shillings and tenpence. This did not surprise my companion 
in the least, so it was evidently by no means a record. She 
informed me that on a Sunday morning or a Saturday after- 
noon, in a poor neighbourhood as much as ten shillings 
could be earned in a few hours. Of course much depends 
on the special knowledge of the singer. My companion 
seemed to know by instinct the streets to choose, and we 
rarely got a blank one. The street singers are called 
“griddlers,” or “needy griddlers,” which is quite a classical 
slang term. 

I did not stay with this particular “griddling” friend long. 
She took all the money we earned, and every night got drunk. 
No persuasions could change her, so Mr. C. and I went off 
one day to hunt up a woman he knew of who haunted the 
streets round Walworth. He had tracked her by inquiries 
straight to the house where she lived. The dwelling was 
tenanted by sixteen families, though originally it had been 
meant for one ordinary household. Here we found our 
quarry — ^she lived in a basement room which I fancied must 
have originally been a store-place of some kind. The woman’s 
husband was then “doing time,” we were told, and she was 
making her living by singing in the streets with her three 
children. 

I begged Mr. C. to try and get me a room in the same 
street, and this, after a little difficulty, he managed to do. I 



35 


B '^feeatben*' at tbe 9pera 

soon managed to get very friendly with the children of the 
woman we wished to cultivate. The eldest girl was about 
fourteen, the next nine, and tbe youngest about three or four. 
Poor mites, they were often very hungry and cold. The 
mother ill-treated them, and sent them out to sing when she 
was too ill after a heavy bout of drinking to go out herself. 
I went out several times with these children, and once we got 
as much as three shillings. The eldest girl “prigged” one 
shilling, but took the other two shillings to her mother. 

How they loved and clung to one another, those forlorn 
atoms for whom the big world bad no place! They were 
adepts at avoiding the school inspector, and contrived to pick 
up food enough to keep alive. My little bare room was their 
Eden, and Ellen, the eldest girl, gave me strange chapters of 
history out of the lives of her neighbours. In the same house 
with them lived two “ grizzlers ” — men who were supposed to 
be respectively blind and crippled. Ellen assured me it was 
all “ me eye,” and told me a funny story of how the crippled 
man had chased her one day when she slyly carried off his 
crutch. The blind man, she said, “ swore hawful,” and saw 
“ enough for three.” These two rogues earned a good living 
from the charitable, one playing a whistle, and the other 
droning out hymns. 

• ••teeee 

Tbe class of street beggars who make strange noises in 
order to call attention to their misery, as the two men I have 
described, are known as “grizzlers.” They take up a position 
on the edge of a busy street, and with an old violin, or that 
curious instrument known as an accordion, make the air 
hideous with discords, in order to attract attention. From 
what I myself have seen, I am certain that any person Who so 
stands in a busy market street will get more money in an hoot 
than many a working ttum will earn in a whole diqr* 



tEbe Soul Aatitet 


36 

I oiganised, about this tim^ a little social club for coster 
lads and girls in a room I hired near Battersea. There 
I used to go one evening a fortnight, to tell them stories, 
and in other ways help them to be happy in a civilised manner 
for an hour or so. One foggy evening, as I was returning 
from our “party,” I heard through the fog a sweet, fresh 
girl’s voice singing a coon song. Crossing the road I dis- 
covered the singer to be a pleasant-faced, neatly-dressed girl of 
twenty. By her side there stood an elderly woman. The 
singer accompanied herself upon a guitar. When she had 
finished the song she entered the public-house outside which 
she bad been standing, leaving the elder woman outside. In 
a few moments she reappeared, and handing some money to 
the other woman, said : 

“ Tenpenc^ mother dear.” 

I was very much interested in these people^ and entered 
into conversation with them. 

I learned that the young woman called herself a “chanter,” 
and that for four years she had maintained her mother and a 
crippled brother by “ chanting.” She liked her life, and on 
the whole was well treated by the firequenters of the public- 
houses outside which she sang. 

“ We meet more gentlemen than cads,” she said. 

“ Of course that’s what we might expect,” said the mother, 
and she continued with some philosophy : “ If there wasn’t 
more gents in the world than cads, why, cads would be judges, 
and we would be all locked up for being good.” 

Before 1 left these people, I managed to get the girl to 
consent to let me accompany her on several evenings during 
the following week. 

This I did, and my experience was utterly different to that 
I bad with the needy griddler. I called for the girl at her 
home, and was shown into a tiny, but dean, neatly-arranged 



37 


H **1^tben** at tbe ^pera 

room, in a respectable street near the Wandsworth Road. 
Sitting, propped up with pillows, on a sofa, was a white-faced 
youth, busily putting together a cardboard model of a church. 
The mother and daughter were waiting for me when I arrived. 
On the table I noticed books and magazines, and I also 
observed that flowers were arranged about the room ; in fact, 
the place had an air of refinement that astonished me when 
I remembered where I had met these people, and how they 
earned their living. 

The girl took up her guitar, and kissing her brother, bade 
him good-night. 

A few minutes after, this brave sister and I were standing 
outside a tavern. For four years this girl had been thus 
bread-winning in every kind of weather. Every night in the 
week she had her regular places to sing at — Brixton, Chelsea, 
Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Junction, Pimlico. Every 
night she was to be found in front of one of the taverns in 
these districts. 

Hard-working, courageous Nellie. Surely as deserving of 
applause as any prima-donna, when one considers the plucky 
way she sang for those dear to her. 

I was very pleased with my experience with Nellie and her 
home. I stayed with these good people for a few days, paying 
them a shilling a day for my board and lodging. I had a 
small bed in the tiny kitchen and found it warm and clean, 
I helped Nellie and the old mother to do the house-work and 
cooking, and while I was there Nellie and I went out together, 
the mother staying at home, greatly to her pleasure. It 
was Nellie who gave Mr. C. and me an informal introduc- 
tion to a company of ** buskers” we met one day on our 
rounds. 

I was eager to know how the party fared, and their manner 
of lifc^ so Mr, C. followed them up, and some days after came 



3S trbe Soul Aatitet 

to tell me that we had a chance of “ busking " — that is, of 
giving a sort of variety entertainment in the streets. 

I found there were many classes of these performers. As a 
rule they work in troupes, generally under a leader, who 
arranges the “ pitches ” and keeps the money until the end 
of the day, when it is shared out My experience with a party 
of these people was rather amusing. 

The leader, Ben, possessed a very powerful voice, of course 
absolutely untrained. 

He also possessed ideas on art His criticism of my own 
humble efforts were extremely embarrassing. 

I had been introduced by Mr. C. as a young woman wishing 
to earn her living as a “ busker.” 

“Chant us a lay,” he said. 

“I bq; your pardon?” 

“Sing something,” exclaimed Mr. C 

Thus requested, I sang, in my best manner, a verse of 
“ When the Swallows Homeward Fly.” 

“Uml fair, fair,” muttered my examiner, “wants more go, 
though. It ain’t hartistic enough neither, wants draggin’ out 
a bit Still I’ll give her a chance if Rains turns up drunk 
again to-m'ght I’ll give him the push and engage her,” be 
said to Mr. C. 

Evidently the methods of my many singing masters must 
have been all wrong. Here, after all my study, I was 
merely considered a possible stop-gap by a common street 
singer, who only promised to engage me in the event of 
one of his company not keeping sober. Nevertheless, I 
promised to learn a song he gave me and join him later 
in the day. 

We met about eight o’clock that evening in a south-western 
suburb. We were five in number: an elderly, quiet man 
who played an instrument called an American organ ; a pale 



39 


B «*t)eatben’* at tbe 9peva 

youth who played a violin; Ben, the leader; and Rains, 
a weak -looking man about thirty, very shaky and very 
shabby, but possessing a baritone voice of some power, 
and who, alas for my chances as a street singer! — ^to use 
his own description of his condition — was '‘painfully 
sober." 

“Never mind, my dear; we’ll work five-handed to-night,” 
said the leader to me. “You can do the ‘nobbing,’” he 
continued, and then he put a small box into my hand. 

“Whatever does he mean?” 1 asked Mr. C. in an 
aside. 

“ Collect the money,” he whispered. 

Now I was in for it indeed. A large crowd had gathered ; 
the organist commenced to play at the request of Ben, who 
had given him the cryptic order of “Set about the dominoes, 
Bill.” 

After a short overture, Ben stepped forward and announced 
that he was about to sing a song of his own composition, 
copies of which would be on sale at the price of twopence 
each. 

The title of the song was “The Old Soldier.” After he 
had sung this masterpiece in a voice that might be beard 
quite half a mile away, he fell back to my side; then, as 
Rains commenced to sing “I Fear no Foe^” Ben muttered 
to me : 

“Slip round, my girl, and ‘nob’ ’em, and mind you bring 
it all to light, and no weeding^ no poling, mind yer, for if 
yer do, I’m bound to bowl yer.” 

This extraordinary language was afterwards interpreted by 
Mr. C. to me: that I was to beg from the crowd for 
coppers, hand all I received over to the speaker, to keep 
none for myself surreptitiously, because if I did he would 
be bound to find it out. 



40 


tn»e Sotil AatRet 


I passed sound the crowd, who melted away as they grew 
aware of my presence. It was amusing to watch the disin- 
terested air of some of the listeners who looked over my 
head, and passed on as though they had not noticed that 
there had been any singing or music whatever. Yet my box 
grew gradually heavier, and Ben gave quite a grunt of 
satisfaction when I handed its contents to him. 

That the audiences appreciated good music was proved to 
me that evening beyond doubt. My collections were nearly 
twice as much each time I went round after Rains had sung. 
His voice was good and had been trained, and his selection 
of songs was good. The “ hartistic hefforts ” of leader Ben 
met with very little favour from the crowds. 

Our earnings for the night amounted to no less a sum than 
twenty-seven shillings. It was apportioned thus : The organist 
received five shillings, the boy violinist three shillings, Rains 
six shillings ; to myself was handed two shillings and sixpence, 
the balance being kept by Ben, to whom belonged the organ 
and the violin. , 

As we were wending our way home that night, we came 
upon another party of buskers, and I heard Ben accost 
the leader with some strange salutation, and the following 
conversation took place, which, bit by bit, I had translated : 

" Graft good ? ” asked Ben. 

" Rotten. Why, we’ve nobbed four caises and only touched 
for a sprarzer.” 

This, I was told, meant : " Is work good ? ” 

“No, bad; I’ve begged at four public-houses, and only 
received sixpence.” 

We went on, and Rains, growing confidential, told us bis 
history. 

It was pathetic enougb—>tbe too common story of a wasted 
life. He had been, when a boy, a chorister in one of the 



B Deatben at tbe Opeta 4t 

cathedrals, and it was there that he had obtained his musical 
education. 

He left this choir to join a touring opera compaiiy« There 
he fell in love with one of the women of the company, married 
her, and for a few months had been happy, when one night he 
found himself alone ; bis wife had fled. From that time he 
gave way to drink and dissipation, gradually sinking lower 
and lower, until no one could depend upon him. 

As I have said, his voice was a good one, and be had an 
excellent knowledge of music, and sang with taste and feeling, 
but poor Rains was a helpless and hopeless failure. 

My next initiation into the art and mystery of open-air 
performances was brought about by an accident 

One evening, as I was walking up that beautiful bill that 
leads from Putney to Wimbledon, I heard a piano being 
played in the street in quite a charming way. On investi- 
gation, I found a party of young men and women seated in 
a van, in which was also a piano. This was being played by 
one of the men. 1 saw that the men and women wore crfipe 
masks and cloaks. The pianist played with much power and 
excellent technique German’s dances from " Nell Gwynne.” 

This finished, one of the women stood op and sang Tosti’s 
“A Night in June.” Her voice was so sweet, and the 
rendering of the song so excellent, that I was delighted. 
Her^ in the street, was beautiful music, sympathetically 
and artistically performed by people who were nothing 
more than buskers. What could it mean? 

The party omsisted of three women and three men. They 
all sang and played. Then one of the party clambered down 
from the van in which they were seated, and commenced to 
beg from the large crowd they had gathered round them. 

Tbe money simply poured into the bag. Almost every 
person in tbe crowd gave something. 1 even noticed that 



4 * 


XCbe soul Aarftet 


servants brought money from the large houses, in front of 
which the performance had taken place. 

This set me thinking. If good music is so much appre- 
ciated, why is there not more of it in the London streets ? 
Why is itinerant music so neglected? Now and then one 
hears a good voice or a fair performer on some instrument in 
the street, but, alasl they are chiefly of the unfortunate 
Rains type. 

I pictured a party such as this of masked buskers, 
periodically visiting and singing in some of our dismal 
slums. I truly believe that it would have a wonderful 
influence on the lives of even the tenibly degraded inhabitants 
of those places. 

Deep down in the hearts of even the vilest is some broken 
thought of good, which might be waked by the song that would 
reach the heart. That the poorer classes of our rich city have 
a love, an uneducated love perhaps, but an existing one, for 
pure melody and tender song, is apparent to everyone who 
knows them intimately . ' 

Let a vulgar music-hall song contain but one line of 
brotherly feeling, one touch of the “fellow-feeling that makes 
us wondrous kind,” and the song will be a popular one ; and 
even if, as is, alas ! so often the case, a pretty melody is wedded 
to the most inane words, yet for its melody alone the song 
will be sung from end to end of the town. 

I soon tired of my busking expedition, however, and 
hungered for a chance of getting right down among the 
poorest poor. Mr. C. suggested that we would be likely to 
gain some unique knowledge by becoming “ organ-grinders.” 
The idea pleased me vastly. I begged him to set about 
starting me in the profession. 

Till I visited Italy, and learned the conditions under which 
the people labour there, I could not understand why any 



43 


H **t)eatl!)en” at tbe (Ppera 

person gifted with intellect, could voluntarily leave a country 
of warmth and sunshine, to push a barrowful of indifferent 
music, called a piano-organ, through the mud and fog of a 
London street. The matter is no more a mystery to m^ now 
that I know something of the lives of the Italian poor in their 
own land, as compared with the lives of the Southerners of 
Saffron Hill. 

Right opposite Leather Lane, across the Clerkenwell Road, 
is Eyre Street Hill, the London home of the Italians. This 
hill leads down to a number of irregular streets. Groups of 
Italian women sit at the doors looking picturesque in print 
bodices and gay - coloured skirts, and the usual gaudy 
kerchief thrown over the head and tied with careless grace in 
front. There is an air of Southern repose and lazy indifference 
about the place. 

Lounging against the walls are numbers of dark, swarthy 
men, wearing ear-rings and slouch hats. Parties of dark-eyed 
children tumble on the pavement or play in the road. One 
of their games consists in gambling for walnuts. Here and 
there stand those gaudy - coloured barrows from which is 
vended that luxury of the children of the slums, “ hokey-pokey,” 
or street ice-cream ; “ Italiano Ice Creamo,” made in ” Italy- 
in-London,” is not by any means desirable. 

From a dark cellar an unarmed bandit emerges, engaged 
to-day, however, in the pursuit of piano-organ playing. A 
more peaceable, though nevertheless a cruel method of 
mulcting the personal property of his victims, than when on 
his sunny mountains he ear-lopped for ransom. 

This man, being a friend of Mr. C.% kindly took os in 
hand and made Saffron Hill familiar to us. Here are situated 
the principal premises of the manufacturers and owners of 
the piano-organs that are played in London. From here may 
be hired organs by the day, week, or month. To this place 



44 TCbe Soul Autfiet 

Mr. C. and I made our way, conducted by our friend. He 
introduced us to the warehouse-master, who was also of Italy ; 
and after some haggling as to price and the deposit we had to 
leave as guarantee for the safe return of the organ, we started 
out on an expedition, the object of which was to find by personal 
experience how much or how little can be gained in a day by 
this means. Poor Mr. C. pulled the organ up the hill into 
the Clerkenwell Road, then stopped breathless. One thing he 
had discovered already, and that is that organ-pulling is not 
easy work. After tramping and playing in almost every class 
of street from Clerkenwell to Chelsea, from 9 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., 
with only two hours for rest, our earnings amounted to four 
shillings and fivepence^ not a lucrative day’s work, one must 
admit, for two people with the hire of the organ to be paid for 
out of the takings. 

I never see Italian women pulling these heavy banows but 
my heart goes out to them. They have to work so hard for 
such small returns. I must admit I have a very kindly feeling 
for these children of the sunny South, whose advent With their 
organ is so eagerly welcomed by the poor children of many 
a dismal. court and alley. They bring a little music and 
pleasure into the lives of many who, but for these organs, 
would never hear a happy sound. The working folk, too, 
appreciate the music of the street-organs. During our 
peregrinations, Mr. C and I stopped outside a large factory, 
as the girls were coming out at the dinner-hour. We struck 
up a lively tune, and immediately about twenty of these rather 
limp-looking girls “set to” and began dancing with much 
spirit and real enjoyment It was a delicious relief to them 
to fling themselves about to the lilt of merry tunes after 
hours of toiling in a close factory. For the gladness these 
organs bring to the little slum children and the poor, we must 
be tolerant of them and their owners. 



45 


fl '^Deatben** at tbe ®peta 

A hideous evil, however, that exists not only in London 
but in many of the large cities in Britain, is the Italian 
padrone, who brings over numbers of little boys, and keeps 
them in a state of slavery — ^treating them like animals, and 
sending them out into the streets with concertinas and 
monkeys, to beg. One awful case of slavery of this kind 
came under my own knowledge, and through frionds, I was 
able to rescue three unfortunate children who were the slaves 
of a great brute of a “ padrone.” 

This man kept the boys in a cellar. They had no beds, 
but slept on a heap of rags cuddled up with the monkeys to 
keep themselves and the poor beasties warm. If they returned 
home with less than a shilling each night, the padrone beat 
them cruelly, and they got no food at all. There is not a 
single word that can be said in defence of a practice that 
places helpless children in the hands of men such as these. 
Indeed, that such slavery should be countenanced by English 
law and the British people is shameful. It is a common story 
enough to find these tiny child-slaves working their little lives 
away to keep a hulking brute of a master who owns them, 
body and souL 

During my sojourn with the poor and outcast at difierent 
times I came upon many such horrors, which, if our politicians 
really cared for the welfare of *he people at home, could not 
exist 



CHAPTER III 


UP AND DOWN THE SOCIAL LADDER — FROM A SOCIETY 
‘'crush" to the “ spike — ^THB PRICE OF A SOUL 

It is an ungracious task to accept people’s hospitality and 
make unkind criticisms on the manner of the entertainment. 
It must be understood, therefore, that in no case where I 
give an account of society functions, are those functions 
places' where I myself have partaken of hospitality as a private 
friend. If I have gone to these places it has been either 
professionally to recite, or else I have been included as a 
guest because of belonging to some Club or Society which 
was being entertained. In the East it is considered the very 
depth of infamy to eat a man’s salt and betray him. Jn the 
West it is constantly done. A*thousand times I have met 
both men and women who, after they have been graciously 
entertained and kindly treated, abuse their hosts and hostesses, 
and pour contempt on the hospitality that has been extended 
to them. Indeed, this passion for abusing society has proved 
a gold mine to several writers who would otherwise have 
remained unknown to fame, but for the fact that every season 
they appear in print with a volume of vituperation against 
“ Society." 

A most amusing article, written by a Labour member in 
the House of Commons, appeared some weeks ago in a weekly 
journal. The good, innocent man seemed to think that all 
the immorality and heartlessness of the world was concentrated 
in the dccoUetie bosoms of the ladies promenading on the 



47 


znp and Down tbe Social XaDDet. 

Terrace. He speaks of tfie insolence of beautiful dress, and 
goes on to say : “ Does a woman know how insolent a 
gleaming white shoulder ” (one shoulder, mind you, not both) 
“ may appear to a man dressed in tweed ? Does she realise 
the peculiar effect of the demi-diaphanous drapery in which 
she clothes, or half-clothes herself?” The frott-frou of the 
silken petticoat made what he considered a " peculiar sound.” 
He goes on to say : “ A few evenings ago I saw one woman 
sauntering along the Terrace who seemed the very incarnation 
of the spirit of society. Her corsage glittered with ostentatious 
wealth. Diamonds were in her hair and pendent from her 
ears. The high, jewelled comb she wore would have paid \ 
skilled workman’s wages for the last twelve months. 

“This woman, wearing a V-shaped corsage cut from her 
shapely shoulders down almost to her waist, walked the 
Terrace without a hint of shame. That men should see her 
naked flesh gave her no qualm. Her poorer sisters over the 
river in the slums of Lambeth and the Lower Marsh would 
have hastily drawn a shawl over their shoulders, were they 
never so shapely and good to look upon. But this insolent 
beauty walked without a blush, chattering to her black-coated 
companion, and ever and again staring at some 'queer* 
creature lately elected to the privileges of Parliament. 

“It’s a strange world, and there’s no stranger place in it 
than St Stephen’s. Because it has amused me to study these 
birds of passage, flaunting their borrowed plumage on the 
Terrace, I have not forgotten the comely daughters of my 
own race, the splendid women whose looks would put to 
shame these artificial beauties. In the ranks of labour you 
will find less display of shoulders and bosoms, unless, I grant 
you, in the exercise of those maternal functions which the 
rich, I am told, have long ago delated to artificial 
substitutes.” 



4S tCbe Soul Aarl^ 

Now I have made holiday with ’Any and ’Arriet at *Appy 
’Ampstead. They changed hats and coats. They pushed 
and slapped each other with a charming fomiliarity, and on 
occasion, punched each other’s heads. Also, I have lived 
with the charming sisters of Lambeth and the Lower Marsh, 
whom this gentleman seems to regard as models of virtue. 
Unfortunately, however, focts do not corroborate this gentle- 
man’s fanciful statements. If the women of Lambeth do not 
wear low-necked dresses and jewels, they often go about in a 
petticoat ud filthy blouse because they have pawned their 
skirts. They are often drunk and foul-mouthed. They 
n^lect their homes, and gossip in the streets and drink in the 
public-houses. There is as much immorality, as much greed, 
dishonesty, and vice among the poor as there is among the 
rich; indeed, how should it be otherwise? Consider their 
surroundings. Stumbling up a pair of back stairs to a little 
room I once took in one of the slums at Lambeth, I almost 
fdl over a tiny child of three, who was picking holes in the 
plaster of the walls. The place was broken -.down and 
dilapidated, unfit for the housing of animals, but here several 
scores of miserable human creatures herded in indecency and 
immorality. The little child looked up, and in a lisping baby 
voice said : 

"Dod blast yerl” The only use that he knew of the 
Almighty Name was to blaspheme with it 

The spirit of extravagance and carelessness which is so 
much discussed in the daily press and contemporary novels 
is not by any means confined to one class. I have lived with 
coster women whose earnings were from jQt to gos. a week, 
and have found them buying tins of salmon and potted meats, 
and various other preserved delicacies, rather than take the 
trouble to cook a wholesome meal of fresh food. It is 
indeed this passion of laaness, which is characteristic of 




KANQUET AT THE HYDE PARK HOTEL. 
(Night-life in London has many aspects.) 




HOMELESS MKN HKEAKIXG THEIR FAST AT 5 A.M. IN A CHURCH ARMY 'SHELTER. 



TUp mb Pown the Social Xaooer 49 

the times, that is responsible for half the crime in our 
daily history. 

On one occasion I had an engagement through an agent 
to recite at a society function in Piccadilly. The hostess, 
on this occasion, was a rich woman, who was bartering her 
health and comfort and much of her money to get into what 
she fondly hoped was ** Society.” She had invited that night 
some two thousand people, not more than a hundred of whom 
she knew personally. These people were invited through 
various clubs and society leaders who were paid for collecting 
a horde of guests. The lady had provided for their entertain- 
ment a concert and dramatic recitals, contributed to by some 
of the most eminent artistes of the day. The agent who 
engaged me told me that she had placed ;^i,ooo in his hands 
to have a distinguished programme. 

On that autumn evening I arrived at the house, or rather 
my cab stood in the street for an hour before it could draw up 
at thei door to deposit me, and here I was bundled into a 
struggling mass of humanity which was fighting, pushing, and 
kicking its way upstairs. A kindly butler caught my eve, and 
I said to him : 

“ I shall really have to get upstairs somehow.” 

He shrugged his shoulders. ** It will be a matter of time, 
miss,” he said. However, I managed to get near enough to 
him and slipped five shillings into his hand. 

**Get me up somehow,” I said. 

He took me round to some back passage, and I got to the 
top by way of the servants’ staircase. We walked through a 
long corridor, and passed through several side-doors, and 
presently I found myself behind a huge curtain which shut 
off the drawing-room. I did not see my hostess till one 
o’clock that night, when she thanked me for my part in the 
programme, and begged me to go down and have some 

D 



Ubc Sonl AarRet 


50 

supper. A gentleman I knew kindly undertook to pilot me 
through the awful crowd which had fought its way through 
the beautiful rooms. In the great dining-hall, adorned with 
armour and hunting trophies of dead-and-gone heroes who 
had not the remotest connection with the owners of the house, 
the crowd pushed and struggled for the dainty food provided. 
It was as though a horde of famine-stricken creatures had 
been let loose at a feast. When the food was consumed, 
the crowd fought its way again to the drawing-room, where 
the famous singers and musicians were performing. They 
did their duty, and each in turn discoursed sweet music to 
the extent for which they were paid. The crowd surged 
towards them in a fruitless effort to see and hear. The buzz 
of talk never ceased. The distinguished artistes, mostly 
foreigners, with legitimate claims to fame, departed, to sneer 
at the fools who paid them fabulous fees without even caring 
to hear their music. The unfortunate host stood against the 
wall of each room successively, with a hopeless, bored ex- 
pression on his face. Once in a while he saw a femiliar 
figure and spoke to the owner, but the greetings were few 
and brief, I wondered what manner of people these were 
who bartered their comfort and dignity for the sake of 
advertisement. I saw several well-known journalists in the 
crowd. Each one who spoke to me remarked on the 
discomfort and struggle there had been to force an entry 
into the house. I looked forward with extreme interest to 
the notices of this entertainment in the press. One weekly 
journal gave a long account of the affair, saying: ‘‘Mrs. 
So-and-So has really grasped the whole art of entertainment ; 
her supper was recherchi^ the flowers were costly and beautiful, 
the wines beyond reproach, and to crown all, being of an 
artistic temperament herself, she had gathered into her 
beautiful salon some of the stars of the musical and 



5 * 


mp anP Pown tbe Social XaOOet 

dramatic profession. Everyone was charmed with the 
hostess’s gracious entertainment” I suppose Mrs. So-and*So 
must have felt her couple of thousand pounds were well 
invested; but I thought of the entertainment with mixed 
feelings when, a few nights later, I found myself on the 
wet steps of the Embankment in company with a wretched 
creature who, for ten shillings a week, could have been made 
happy and comfortable for the remainder of her poor old life. 

I stumbled over the miserable bundle of rags somewhere on 
the steps by Westminster Bridge. 

“ What is the matter ? ” I said. 

“I’m knocked, that’s wot’s the matter; ill, ’ungry, and 
knocked.” The words came in despairing groans. 

The poor old woman was indeed a woeful spectacle; 
huddled up on the slimy stones, as she turned her poor, 
sorrow-lined face to mine. The light of the flickering gas- 
lamp overhead revealed the fact that she was very feeble and 
very old. The few thin, straggling locks of hair escaping 
from the rain-soaked bonnet were white. She was wet and 
cold, and shiveringly drew her ragged shawl more tightly 
round her weary old body. 

“Why are you sitting here? Have you friends, no 
home?” I asked. 

“ ’Ome I I ain’t got no ’ome,” she said. 

“ Then why do you not go into the workhouse ? ” 1 
questioned. 

“ I’m afraid I’ll ’ave to. I’ve kep’ out as long as I can,” 
she groaned ; “ but, my Gawd, I’ll ’ave to.” 

There was no mistaking the evident horror this miserable, 
almost dying old woman had for the workhouse. 

It surprised me. “ Why ? ” I asked myself. “ Surely no 
place nor condition this side of the grave could be worse than 
she now finds herself in ? " 



54 


TTbe Sonl AarRet 


[dace,” she s»d. ** I was there a couple of weeks ago, and if 
they caught me there again in less than a month, they’d put me 
in a cell, give me oakum to pick, and keep me in for five 
nights.” 

“Are you not allowed to go into a casual ward more than 
once in a month ? ” I asked, astonished at this information. 

“ That’s all — that is, in London casual wards. And you are 
supposed to go fourteen miles before you go into another 
spike,” she continued. 

“ Do you mean to say that a weak old woman like you is 
obliged to walk that distance between casual ward and casual 
ward?” 

“ Yes, my gal, or if you don’t you’re a*breakin’ the lor ; so 
what we’ll d<^” she continued, “ we’ll go across the water to 

the L spike, then we’ll tell them that we’ve come from 

’Arrow, and that we’re a-goin’ to Croydon, then we’ll be all 
right” 

To this ingenious proposition I agreed. 

“ We shall ’ave to sit about in the park for an hour or tf o,” 
she said, “ ’cause we can’t get in afore one o’clock.” 

So we went and sat on a bench in one of the parks. At 
twelve o’clock we started off to the dreaded “spike.” Wc 
arrived at our destination just before one o’clock. When we 
reached this place there were ten other poorly-clad women stand- 
ing in a tow in front of the red brick building, which I guessed 
was to be our place of refuge from the street. We silently 
joined the ragged fil^ and soonafter a neighbouring clock struck 
one. Almost on the stroke of the hour, a young man, clad in 
a neat uniform, came firom a building on the opposite side of 
the street, and crossing over to where we stood, he unlocked 
an iron gate which shut off a covered courtyard from the 
street 

“ Look alive ! ” he said, in a surly manner, and the women 



tup an^ down tbe Social Xaddev ss 

filed past him into the yard. When we had all entered, he 
relocked the gate and went back to his office. 

One by one the women sat down on the cold paving-stones 
with their backs to the wall: 

“Sit down, my dear,” said my old companion; “it’s as 
cheap as standin’. ” 

“ But shall we hava to wait long ? ” I asked. 

“ Till four o’clock," was the dreary response. 

“ Won’t they give us anything to do, or let us into shelter 
until then ? ” I asked. 

“ N o. At four o’clock they admits us ; till then we waits ’ere.” 

This was a fact. For three hours fourteen starving, shivering 
women, one with a young baby, had to crouch on the stones 
in a draughty yard, with not even a seat provided. There we 
waited, a pitiful company, exposed to the curious view of every 
passer-by. The iron gate which shut us ofif from the public 
thoroughfare was no screen to hide our misery from the 
curious, contemptuous, or indifferent passers-by. 

The lagging minutes dragged on till it was four o’clock, and 
the young man in uniform again appeared. He marshalled 
us into an office. 

Seated at a desk was another male official, in front of him 
a large book, and at bis side a young, strong-looking woman, 
wearing a uniform something like that worn by a hospital 
nurse. As each woman passed in front of the desk, a 
number of questions were asked : “ Name ? " “ Occupation ? " 
“^e?” “Where born?" “Where from?" “Where to?" 
Each question, swiftly and abruptly flung at the woman 
before the desk, was answered with more or less truth by 
each applicant. 

The answers were entered in the book, often without even 
a look at the speaker. 

After my replies had been entered, I was told by the 



s6 tTbe Sottl AavRet 

jroung woman to pass on into a long, bare room. This 
room was also unprovided with seats, and in there the 
"casuals” had to stand until all had been questioned in 
the office. By this time it was nearly five o’clock. We 
were at last all gathered in the room; then the young 
woman official entered, and ordered us to pass her one by 
one to be searched. She did not touch me, but asked me 
what I had in my pocket. 1 said truthfully: “Nothing.” 
She then bade me pass through into another room. 

In this room was a sort of window, with a sliding panel, 
similar to a window at a railway ticket-office. Through this 
was passed out to each of us a tin mug and a piece of bread. 
The mug was filled with a thick, white mixture, which I 
learned to know as “skilly” — a sort of coarse, half-liquid 
oatmeal porridge, without seasoning. On the edge of the 
window was a wooden salt-cellar. I was told we could 
help ourselves to salt, and we all did so to mitigate the 
horrid taste of the gluey stuff in the mugs. In the room 
were two long, bare tables, and on either side of them were 
placed rough benches without backs. Here, at last, we were 
able to sit down. By this time I was genuinely hungry, and 
tried to eat the bread and porridge, but found it difficult. 
The bread I ate; but not then, or ever, could I manage 
to swallow the skilly. Why this mess is given, I cannot 
understand. Why not a good basin of cocoa or even tea? 
It would hardly cost more, and would certainly be more 
humane. But the only food I bad in this place, or in any 
casual ward I entered, was the same as this meal, excepting 
that at dinner a piece of cheese was given with the bread. 

When we had finished our meal, the young woman who 
had asked us to give up to her our belongings came into the 
room and ordered us to the bath-room. Following her up 
some stone stairs, I found myself in a long, narrow room. 



tip anP Pown tbe Social XaPPec 57 

in which were four earthenware baths. In this bath-room 
was a woman attendant, wearint; a workhouse uniform. 
Four casuals at a time entered the bath-room; they 
undressed and fastened their clothes into a bundle. This 
done, they were told to put them on a form on one nde 
of the room; then the baths were filled with hot water by 
the attendant. The place was scrupulously clean, but the 
same bath was used for three paupers. Fortunately, I got 
a clean bath. My “sisters in misfortune” were extremely 
averse to taking the baths at all, and on my remarking to 
one of the women that it would make her more comfortable, 
1 was astonished to see a sneer cross her face and to hear 
her remark : 

“Baths! I’m sick of baths; wherever yer go, yer gits 
baths. Sickenin’ I call ’em.” 

This, I am afraid, is quite a real grievance to the lowest 
and more degraded casuals. In some places, unfortunately, 
such cleanliness does not prevail in the casual ward baths, 
as I discovered later. 

After the bath, each woman was given a night-dress. It 
was clean, and did not appear to have been worn since it 
had been laundried. 

Attired in this, I was sent across a stone passage into a 
long dormitory. Ranged on either side of this room were 
ten beds. Though not soft, they were clean. Sheets, 
blankets, and good pillows were provided. I think that the 
beds were equal to those one would find in dormitories of 
orphanages or convent schools both here and abroad. I 
have visited many such and found similar cots. 1 went 
to bed, and after listening to the grumbling remarks of the 
old women on either side of me for some tim^ went to 
sleep. The hospitality, though cold and heartless, ^s 
infinitely preferable to the exposure of the cruel streets, but 



si TTbe Soul Aatftet 

afterwards, during other visits of investigation, I encountered 
such brutality in these places that I sympathised with tlie 
wretched outcasts who shrank from entering them. 

At six o’clock next morning, I was wakened by the young 
woman who had ordered us to our supper and bath shaking 
me. I had to cross to the bath-room, get my clothes, and 
dress. 

When I had dressed, I was told to go to the dining-room. 
I did so, and found on the table several tin mugs of skilly 
and several pieces of bread. This was breakfast. 

A short grace was said and we commenced to eat Break- 
fost finished, we were detailed to different duties. I was sent 
into the laundry. This was a large, well-appointed place, 
fitted with machinery. The laundry was under the supervision 
of a healthy, pleasant-looking woman, who seemed to know by 
name several of the women who had been sent with me to 
work under her. 

"Can you iron 7” she asked me> 

" I can try,” I answered. ^ 

"Very well, then; go over to that ironing-table and iron 
those night-shirts,” she said, not ungraciously, having marked 
my willingness to work. 

I did the best I could. I noticed that several of the women 
appeared to be quite expert laundresses. 

I worked on until noon. There seemed to be no restriction 
as to talking, and we were all talking when the matron and 
the dreaded “ inspector ” entered. This man looked at every 
"casual” closely, then passed out of the place without saying 
a word. Soon after he had left the room, however, an official 
entered, and ordered an old woman who was ironing on the 
same table as myself to come to the matron’s office. One of 
the other women told me that the inspector had “ spotted ” 
hn as a woman who had infringed the rules by being in 



59 


TUp isnd down tbe Social Xabber 

another metropolitan casual ward within the prohibited time. 
“She’ll get * cells’ and ‘oakum,’” she informed me. I 
suppose this happened, because the old woman did not 
return. 

At noon we were told to leave off work and go to dinner. 

This meal was also served in the room in which we had 
breakfast, and consisted of bread and cheese. After a rest of 
an hour, we returned to our duties, and worked on until five 
o’clock. At that hour was finished our work for the daf. 
“Tea” was given to us, or rather skilly and bread. How 
I longed for a cup of tea 1 After this meal we were sent 
to bed. 

The night passed in the same manner as the previous one. 
At six o’clock next morning, I was awakened in the same way 
as the morning before, but my clothes were now by my 
bedside. I dressed, and was told to do some cleaning and 
dusting. After I had done this, I was given my breakfast 
— more skilly and dry bread. At eight o’clock 1 was 
allowed to leave the establishment 

I inquired for my companion, and was told that she had 
been admitted to the infirmary. 

We do n ..ish to encourage pauperism, and certainly the 
casual wards cannot be accused of over-tenderness to the 
poor. There is no sympathy, no touch of humanity — all is 
coldly and severely ordained. The outcasts come and go, 
“nobody’s people.” Later, I tasted the bitterness of tbe cup 
of charity provided in others of these wards — brutaUty.>^d 
insult being the portion* t>f the applicants,- for refuge. ' But 
here it was not crud. It deprives one of liberty for nearly 
forty-eight hours and sometimes longer. The food is niot 
palatable, and the work demanded is quite out of proporUon 
to the value given by way of food and shelter. 

The keynote of the establishment in which I sojourned was 



6o 


tube Sotti Aarbet 


exemplary cleanliness. The tone adopted by the officials was 
a horrid surliness, and I iras glad I was not an habitual.” 

Many a time and often has it been my experience to go 
from some fashionable assembly into the haunts of misery, 
and sometimes an awful fear took hold of me. Some day 
there must be a terrible reckoning. The mad race for wealth 
— the passion for idleness and pleasure will have some grim 
result. 

1 was present at a great gathering one winter evening in a 
splendid house. It was a Saturday night ; till three o’clock 
on the Lord’s Day crowds of guests filled the rooms. A large 
apartment was arranged with card -tables, where men and 
women lost and won large sums of money. One room was 
devoted to music ; in another, theatrical performances were 
being given. Refreshments were provided, which consisted 
of the choicest and costliest wines and meats and fruits. 
There were great silver dishes of peaches that cost not less 
than two and sixpence each — straiwberries at the same price. 
These things were grabbed for, and fought for by th^ well- 
dressed guests who had all previously dined, I suppose. I 
have heard jokes made about the quantities of food demolished 
by factory girls and coster lads at feasts provided for them, 
but these people often have had no other food that day. At 
a society party, however, there is no such excuse : the food is 
not needed for sustaining the body. 

As I was leaving this particular party in a hansom cab, a 
smjftljlfdressed girl came out It was raining^ and there 
seemed no other cabs in view. S^ivgriced me if I could drop 
her on mymy h6;ne,'a]ld this I consented to da She got 
intothecab. She was a pretty girl, and I had watched her for a 
few minutes playing in the Bridge-room. Suddenly she turned 
to me and abruptly said : 

“ Do you believe there is a God ? ” 



TUP anP txmai tbe Social XaOOer 6t 

" Of course I do,” I said. 

*' Well, I don%” she answered ; " or if there is a God, He 
doesn’t seem to care much about wnmea” 

“ Why do you say that ? ” I asked. 

" Because I have lost j£too at Bridge to-night and haven't 
a cent to pay it with.” 

“ Why blame God for such folly ? ” I said. 

“ Well, I often have luck. I owe a beast of a man a lot 
of money, and I hoped to win enough to pay him. 1 prayed 
that I might be lucky. I kept my ‘ lucky pig ’ in my pocket 
all the time too, and i wore this amber cross and prayed on 
it. Anyway, I’ve lost j^ioo, and there’ll be the devil to pay.” 

« You prayed to God through an amber cross and a ‘lucky 
pig,’ ” I gasped. " Is that the way your mother taught you ? ” 

“ Oh, the mater’s not a bad sort,” the girl said. “ She takes 
choral and drinks eau de Cologne since the pater warned the 
tradespeople not to serve her with brandy. I get it for the 
poor old lady sometimes, shil becomes such a wreck without 
something.” 

“Shall you tell your father about losing this money?” 1 
asked. 

She laughed. 

“ You wouldn’t ask such a ninny sort of question if you 
knew the pater. He makes hell for everyone when he has to 
shell out money. The mater always runs bills, and about 
once a year there is a fearful rumpus, and pater pays what 
he’s forced to.” Jilb 

“ Is he very badly Oif inquired. ' 

“Oh, we’re as poor as paupers. i%ler Itaw four thousand a 
year, the mater has three hundred ; 1 have what I make at 
Bridge, or off presents I get.” 

“ How can you make money ‘ off’ presents ? ” 

“ Oh, sell them or pawn them. I generally ‘pop ’ them, as 



62 


m>e Soul /Dadtet 


one can get them out for a night if necessary, hy paying a 
deposit, and it saves one looking stony-broke when one goes 
out." 

The girl spoke in the calmest way of these dreadful things, 
' and I felt an intense pity for her. I asked her what she would 
do about getting the money. 

" Oh, God knows ! ’’ she said. “ I suppose I shall have to 
take it from that beast" 

Does that mean you must sell your soul for ;^ioo ? ” 1 
asked, horrified. 

“I suppose so, unless something turns up. Do you 
suppose if I prayed again in some other way, God would 
hear? Are you a religious sort?” she said. 

I don’t know what a 'religious sort ’ is,” I replied; " but I 
believe in God. He has helped me many times when I have 
been in great trouble.” 

Instantly the girl turned to me. 

“ Do you play, then ; or was it because of some man ? ” 

“ Neither,” I said. \ 

The cab drew up at her door. 

"Come in for a little while," she begged; "the mater’s 

sure to be in bed, and 1 left the pater with Mrs. , he won’t 

be home yet." 

" In that case,” I said, " will you come on to my rooms ? 
It is nearly morning, so you better bring a long coat to wrap 
up in.” 

She^rent upstairs and brought down a dark garment, and 
we went on to m^r lodgings. I lit the gas fire and heated 
some COCO& My landlady always left some simple refresh- 
ment for me when I was out late. A more sorrowful tale of 
wasted lives than that miserable girl told me, I have never 
heard. Had she been a working girl, it would have been 
easier to help her, but she was a lady, of good family, who 



TUP anb ^own tt>e Social XaOber 6$ 

despised all honest work, and there was something awfol iu 
her idea of God — an erratic Being who played with souls as 
she played with the cards. 

“ I suppose,” I said, “ that you must pay this card-debt ? " 

** Of course,” she answered, " it is a debt of honour.” 

Ah me ! to think that women had come to accept a man's 
code in the matter of “honour.” 

“ What would happen if you did not pay ? ” I asked. 

“ Some sweep would sneak to the pater, and anyway, I’d be 
cut, and never allowed to play again.” 

“ Would that be such a loss ? ” 

“Wouldn’t you think it a loss never to have any money? 
To be in debt to the butler, and have your maid impertinent 
because you couldn’t tip her?” 

“ Well,” I said, “ I have neither butler nor maid.” 

“ Goodness 1 ” she said “ How do you dress and do your 
. hair ? ” 

I laughed. In the face of the tragedy before us, it seemed 
odd that doing without a maid should seem a calamity to my 
companion. 

“ Couldn’t your mother help you ? ” I asked. 

“ Poor old mater, she hasn’t a cent She’s always hard up 
herself.” 

“ Look here 1 ” I said desperately. “ Couldn’t you just drop 
everything, and begin life somewhere else decently? You 
could get a post of some sort perhaps, or you might go to 
some Sisterhood for a while ; I know you could get a home 
and refuge.” 

The girl laughed bitterly. 

“ How delightful I ” she said. “ Fancy, drudging away in 
dowdy clothes with some awful old dowds. • No dances, no 
cards, no pretty clothes, no anything.” 

I was dumb. 



$4 


xn>e Sottt Aarftet 


Can’t you lend me the money ? ” she said at last 
You see,” I explained, “ I have to work for the money 1 
make, and 1 haven’t got that sum to lend you.” 

“Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. It will be all the same a 
hundred years hence. I’ll get the money from that toad.” 

1 knew instinctively the price she would be forced to pay 
for the loan. She was going to the market where souls are 
sold to the highest bidder. It seemed a fearful price to pay 
for fine clothes and pleasure: However, the girl did not get 
the money from the “ toad.” 

Three years after, I met her by accident in an hotel in Paris. 
She was beautifully dressed. Her hair was arranged in the 
latest fashion. She wore costly jewels. Her face was painted. 
She was alone. I forgave her for forgetting a debt that was 
not a “debt of honour.” 



CHAPTER IV 


FANCIES AND FACTS — FACTORY LIFE — MAKERS 
OF MILLIONS 

Before I came to England I had, through such mediums as 
story books, lantern lectures, circulars from institutions^ such 
as Dr. Muller’s Orphanages, Dr. Bamardo’s Homes, and other 
places of that ilk, obtained what I thought rather a compre- 
hensive knowledge of the poorer side of life in Great Britain. 
Two books which were sources of constant delight to me 
when I was a tiny child, were a story called ** Froggy’s Little 
Brother,” and another called “The Match-Girl.” The first 
was a charming tale of two little crossing-sweepers, who lived 
in an attic in Shoreditch, and “ The Match-Girl ” was the 
story of a little child obliged to stand in the streets of London 
(I think in the book the snow was always on the ground) 
selling matches for the support of a family — 1 forget fust now 
whether the “family” were supposed to do anything for their 
own support or not. The books were orofusely illustrated, and 
the stories of these children were made very real to me. I 
also had a lovely story about “Flower Girls,” and my disappoint- 
ment on finding that the flower-girls of fictionJiad absolutely 
no connection with the flower-girls of the Le^i^n streets 
was most keen. I exoected to find flaxen-Kaired, blue-eyedt 
innocent-looking children pleading with the passers-by in ait 
irresistible manner, instead of which I found wet, draggled 

flowers thrust under my nose in crowded thoroughfares, by 

65 £ 



66 


xcbc sotti obtttm 


dirty and untidy women ; most of them were ugly, and some 
of them were fat and old. Indeed, the romance of London 
life soon faded away, and I was brought into actual contact 
with things as they are, in place of things as they are written 
about My desire to render service to the needy, to the 
working girls and women in this country, was not because of 
romance or sentiment but because of the knowledge that 
unless those who are able will fight the battle for those who 
are disabled, there can be no hope of eventual reforms in the 
social system. Not that any single person can do much, but 
our concern is not with what individuals may accomplish. We 
have merely to decide, and do what we each consider duty 
demands of us personally, leaving the issue with God. 

THE MAKERS OF MILLIONS 

To the average person there is something fiisdnating about 
the title “Millionaire.” Indeed, there lies in it so much 
virtue that one having s right to use it finds the vworld a 
pleasant place, go where he will There is a certain glamour 
about immense wealth that the whole world acknowledges, 
yet not many people concern themselves with the methods 
employed in the production of that wealth, or with the busi* 
ness practices of the Makers of the Millions they either envy 
or admire. Lately a cynic wrote in an English newspaper, 
that it is not necessary to build more churches, since those 
already in existence often lie coldly empty ; but he suggested 
instead, that the Bank of England be persuaded to open its 
doors on Sundajrs^ %nd some financier like Fierpont Morgan 
be engaged to hold services there. “The overwhelming 
crowds of worshippers of tiie Almighty Dollar,” he said, 
“would leave no doubt as to the true trend of religion in 
the present day.” 



fancies anb facts 67 

Fortunately, we are not all cynics ; but because it is true 
that possessors of wealth are looked upon with as much 
interest in England as elsewhere, I venture to tell a few 
stories of the means utilised to gain money by some of the 
wealth-makers as I knew them. 

It may be, that when one has been hungry and cold 
during many hours of hard toil, and found that, after all, 
the labour of one’s hands could scarcely wring a bare living 
from these narrow times, that one is led to question the 
justice of the fate that has made the labourer so ill- 
considered an item in the economy of life, while those 
gathering the fruits of his labour are held in such esteem. 

There is no knowledge so convincing as knowledge won 
by personal experience; and now that I know the lives of 
the majority of the toilers in our great cities, having been 
with them, and one of them, I feel a very kindly sympathy 
for all those who earn their bread with the work of their 
hands. 

The story of my life among the factory girls would be 
incomplete without a little account of the first real insight I 
got into the lives of this class of workers. At first my 
interest, like that of most other casual visitors, was simply 
of an outsider for people one pities and usually misunder- 
stands. But when I was happy enough to win the friendship 
of Mrs. Sara Ra^ who has given her life to the service of 
the factory and coster girls of Hoxton, I began my first real 
and intimate acquaintance with these people. True, I had 
visited clubs and guilds for girls of the working dasses 
many parts of London and other cities v^ere I travelled. 
In them I saw many excdlent women of 4ill conditions and 
ages doing useful work according to their lights. They were 
either “doing them good,” with a very conscious air, or 
“educating” them, or cpving them “culture”; but even to 



68 


TSbc Sonl Aavfeet 


my limited experience there seemed something a little 
artificial about these efiforts; and it ?ras only after I had 
met Mrs. Sae and been down to Hoxton many times, and 
realised how wonderfully valuable one absolutely devoted, 
clever, and liberal woman could be to her country and 
individuals needing a practical friend, that there grew up 
in my heart a real love for the girls whom she loved so 
truly and served to such good purpose — girls whose lives 
contained but little real beauty, who contrived, nevertheless, 
to be cheerful and even happy. It was after continued visits 
to Hoxton and close and intimate friendship with Mrs. Rae 
that I awoke to the fact that I could never do very much for 
these people until I had really tasted life with them. I had 
no desire to win my knowledge of them by twenty years of 
waiting. My desire was to know them and understand them, 
and be free to serve them in some way while I was still 
young, and not obliged to take up “doing good” as. a sort 
of profession when every other interest had failed. 

With great circumspection, and as delicately as possible, 
I hinted to my friend my desire to get work in a factory 
as an ordinary fiictory hand. She, however, would not 
encourage the idea. 

“My dear girl,” she said, “you have no conception of the 
hardship of the life and the dreadful surroundings.” 

But I had nude up my mind ; I went to my old friend, 
Mr. C., for advice as to how to make a start. 

“Shall I try and get you a job at a factory in Hoxton?” 
he asked. 

‘f Ob, no; I would not dare to go there,” I answered, “the 
Hoxton people know me too well ; try New Cross, or any 
other locality where there are factories. Get me a fairly easy 
place for the first, if possible,” I begged. 

“Yes,” he retorted, laughing, “that is what the girls always 



jf^ncief an^ jfacts 69 

want, plenty of money, plenty of fun, and not much 
work.” 

A few days after, Mr. C. called at my place and informed 
me that he had secured a lodging for me in the house of an 
artisan acquaintance of his, whose daughters were working in 
a factory in South London. These girls had promised to do 
their best to get me employment in the same factory. 

Mr. C., out of his fertile imagination, had given them urgent 
reasons why I should have work found for me at once — “ A 
poor little furin’ sort o’ gal, not too smart about London, but 
’as a good ’art.” I thanked him for this description of me, 
and packing my box as if I was going to visit friends, I drove 
away from my place. Arriving at a little room in a quiet 
street where many of my transformation scenes have been 
performed, I packed away my decent clothes, left my trunk 
in my room, canying out with me only a small basket and a 
bundle. Mr. C. met me in the street and was quite approving. 
“ You’ll do fine,” he said. 

It was afternoon when we set ofi to the place he had found 
for me. We threaded our way through small and unfamiliar 
streets and approached the hous^ which was in a narrow 
street, with the inevitable public-house at one corner and a 
pawn-shop at the other. In the street were three miserable 
little shops, fly-blown and untidy, the windows filled with 
bread, cheap tins of milk and salmon, and such goods. 
Shops in these neighbourhoods are generally run on a weekly 
credit system, the customers having a book in which the 
goods th^ take away are entered. They settle their accounts 
on Saturday night. Of course, the pers6|^ receiving credit 
has to pay a much higher price for his goods than one who 
pays cash. Nevertheless, as I found, this system often helps 
a poor woman to tide over a serious moment and to provide 
a meal for many a little mouth that would otherwise be emp^. 



70 


xsbc Sottl Aavftet 


With the exception of an occasional cheap joint or a pound 
of foutpenny " block ornaments,” as the small pieces of meat 
that batchers cut from the joint are called, many women 
seldom buy anywhere else than at the general shop. 

We arrived at No. 20, the house of our friends, about five 
o'clock. Mr. C signalled our advent by a single bang on the 
knocker of the already open street door. 

'* One never knocks a double knock,” said Mr, C. ; “ it would 
be likely to alarm the inhabitants. Only doctors or officials 
double knock in this sort of neighbourhood.” 

“ They are at tea,” whispered Mr. C., and there came up to 
us a smell of cooking bloaters. 

No notice being taken of our first knock, Mr. C. banged 
again more loudly than before. This summons brought a 
small girl to the door. That she had left the tea-table was 
obvious by the fact that she carried a large slice of bread and 
butter partly in her hand and partly in her mouth. She 
greeted us with “ Wot yer want ? ” Before we could answer, 
a man’s rough voice called from the room at the end of the 
little passage, “ Who is it, Ameelia?” 

Mr. C. informed Ameelia that it was the new lodger. 

“Oh, come this way,” said the girl. Then screamed out: 
“ Ere’s the noo lodger, father.” 

We were ushered into a back room about ten feet square, 
yet in the small space were not less than nine persons, besides 
Mr. C, Ameelia, and myself. 

Mr. C introduced me to Mr. Cruddock. Mr. Craddock 
rose from the table and extended his shirt-sleeved arm towards 
me so that I might shake his hand. 

“ Wotll yer 'ave^ A drop of beer or a cup of tea — say 
the word now ? Mother, give the young gal a cheer. Git up^ 
Billy. Go and finish your tea in the yard ; that’ll give us some 
mote room.” 



7* 


^ancfesr at|& facts 

Billy carried his tea' and bread to some unknown region. 
I found a little comer at the table, then came more introduc- 
tions. Mrs. Cruddock ; Kate Cruddock, the eldest daughter, 
a girl who became a great friend of mine ; Jane Cruddock, 
her sister, a girl of eighteen, always laughing, although not 
having much in her life to make her laugh ; Jim Cruddock, 
the eldest son, and two awkward-looking young men who were 
simply presented as “friends of the gals.” These, with two 
or three children, who were squeezed into small spaces, were 
introduced to me with waves of the hand and nods. 

In the centre of the table was an immense dish contuning 
thick pieces of bread and butter. There was also a huge tin 
tea-pot, and every one of the party had a cup and saucer. 

“ Tea or beer ? Just mention it,” said the hospitable Mr. 
Cruddock. 

Both Mr. C. and I voted for tea. There was a little delay 
before we were supplied, however, owing to the shortness of 
cups. In fact, we had to wait until two of the children’s 
were washed up for us. 

After tea Mr. C. took his leave, and Kate invited me up to 
the room I was to share with her. It was small, but neat and 
clean, and overlooked a number of tiny back-yards decorated 
with the usual washing which hung out on lines. Kate was a 
sturdy, red-faced girl, with good eyes and plenty of towsled 
hair. 

“Where are yer gpjn’ ter-night?” she asked. 

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I have not thought 
of it” 

“ Well, look here I I’ll get rid of my bloke dahnstaiis and 
we’ll go to the Wash.” 

I placed myself in her hands. 

Kate went downstairs, and soon after 1 heard the yoni^ 
man and the other aster leave the bouse. 



r* TCbe Soul /DarRet 

Having threepenny worth up in the “ gawds," as going to 
the gallery of one of the cheap music halls is called, is a 
very favourite form of recreation for a factory girl. “ Walking 
out with her bloke " is another, though milder, excitement. 

Kate and I got to this particular music hall, and had to 
stand outside in a long queue waiting for the doors to open, 
and here I had an example of the capacity these girls have of 
taking care of themselves, or, as they call it, “getting their 
own back." A “ gentleman ” happened to tread on the toes 
of a girl standing behind us. He looked a young man of the 
junior clerk type. She turned quickly on him, and he said : 

“ 1 beg your pardon.” 

“ What did you do itlbr ? ” she said. 

“ I beg your pardon,” he repeated. 

“ Beg my pardon,” she sneered. “ Don’t yer beg here, or 
you’ll get locked up.” Then to the admiring crowd : “ He’s 
got all the world to flop abaht on, yet he wants the little bit 
I’m standing on for his ugly ’oofs.” 

“I said I beg your pardon, and no gentleman can’t do 
more. I tell you I did not see you.” 

“ Did not see me,” this with a contemptuous jeer. “That’s 
the worst of havin’ second-hand eyes.” 

“ Don’t be too hard on the gentleman,” said another girl, 
joining the fun. “You wasn’t there a minute, was yer, 
Percy?” 

“ I beg your — ” the youth again began, but was cut short 
by the irate lady assuming a fighting attitude, and telling the 
young man “to ’op it afore she set abaht.” He discreetly 
retired to the rear. 

The entertainment we witnessed was as curious to me as 
the introduction had been. We went up into the gallery, 
paying threepence each for standing-room, amid a crowd 
of noisy young people, who were either vigorously enthusiastic 



fancies tmb facts ' 7s 

or mercilessly critical. I followed with interest each item of 
the singularly mixed programme. 

First of all, there emerged an extremely fat lady, very 
dicolktie, with a string of diamonds as large as pigeons’ eggs 
around her throat. Her dress was of white satin, spangled 
over. She was received with vociferous cheers, and I heard 
someone ask: “When’s the balloon going up?” She sang 
one of the usual music-hall songs, then proceeded to 
disrobe herself rapidly, and stood revealed in pink tights, in 
which she sang “Home, Sweet Home.” She might have 
been a Patti for the appreciation that was shown to her 
efforts, but I think that it was the song that evoked the 
applause, for, curious as it may seem, these people who have 
least cause to love home, having but unlovely places of shelter, 
are yet faithful to the beautiful sentiment expressed in the old 
song. 

After the performance was over, I went out with Kate, and 
we joined a party of young people strolling homewards. 
There were noisy jokes and loud laughter, but no bad 
language was used, and there was really nothing objection- 
able in the companionship. It was late when we got to bed, 
and it seemed to me that we had hardly slept for an hour 
before there was a loud knocking at the door, and Mr. 
Cruddock’s voice called out: “Look spry, gals, or you’ll 
be late.” 

We jumped up, and as quickly as possible got ready. 
Kate and I made our beds and went downstair^ where Wie 
had a breakfast of bread and butter and coffee, with a piece 
of fried bacon. We then made our way to the factory, which 
was one for the manufacture of aerated waters. Kate was 
earning at this factory fifteen shillings a yreek, and was con- 
sidered a very good hand. She was evidently a fiivourite als(^ 
for she had no hesitation in taking me with her to see the 



74 


tCbe Soitt 

After a few question^ he agreed to take oh to 
bqiiq in the bottle-washing rootot at the magnified salary of 
three shillings a week, since I was a new band without experi- 
ence, We bad to be at the fectory at eight o’clock every 
morning, and we left at seven in the evening. One hour we 
had for dinner in the middle of the day, and half-an-hour 
for tea. 

Kate and Jane behaved nobly by me, and I was comfortable, 
for they had a respectable home, dressed well, and according 
to their ideas, lived well j but many of the other employees were 
of a much lower class, and their ways were extremely rough. 

I learned here of an evil that threatens the happiness of 
many of these girls’ lives, and that is a passion for gambling 
that is rampant among a great section of the working girls in 
London. Almost every factory has its own "starting price 
book-maker” who is established in the vicinity. I found 
that on Saturdays many of the girls employed in. this 
particular factory used to gather in groups and discuss the 
odds and merits of race-horses with as much eagerness as 
tbdr betting brothers and fathers, and they risked with this 
man a far larger proportion of their hard-earned shillings 
than would seem creditable when one realised bow small a 
return their labour brings. 

According to Government returns, the Aerated Water 
Manufectories represent the most dangerous employment 
ftw women, and the jiumber of accidents in them is larger 
in proportion than in other manufectories, except the factories 
where cotton is prepared: 544 women were injured during 
the year 1903, and many deaths were caused in this trade. 
The hurts are principally due to explosions and broken glass, 
or careless use of machinery. The Government has done 
much to protect workers in these factories who have but 
little care for themselves. The first Factory Act was passed 



FACTORY GIRLS WAITING IN THE STREET FOR THE DOORS TO OPEN. 
MISS MALVERY is last in THE GROUP. 



WOMEN AT WORK IN A DATE-PACKING FACTORY IN AKAlilA. 




ymtctee and #act» 75 

in 1802, but since that time numerous Acts have been passed 
for the protection of the worker. The Factory Acts as they 
now stand are, as far as they go, sound and good, but, of 
course, there is still much room for reform. I am bound to 
say, though, that from my e]q>erience in the several factories, 
that the abuses existing are not the fault of the law. There 
are excellent women inspectors to safeguard the interest of 
women and children-workers who have to earn their living 
in factories and workshops. The Government tries to give 
the factory girl regular hours, though these are far too long. 

I recently visited a model factory in America, the President 
of which is one of the greatest millionaires and most pro- 
gressive business men in the States, and he told me that he 
had found it paid him in dollars and cents to reduce the 
working hours of his factory hands. He emplo3rs 5,000 work- 
people, and assured me that their efficiency was doubled when 
they worked without fatigue. If this reform can be carried 
out successfully in America, surely in England the hours of 
work could be somewhat lessened without loss of money to 
the employers. In every factory where I have been, I have 
worked ten or eleven hours each day, and I maintain that 
no woman is able to do effectual work for so prolonged a 
period. 

It is forbidden for any woman to clean machinery in 
motion in a factory, and every factory worker is suppoied 
to have 250 cubic feet of air. 

It struck me as an extremely curious example Of die 
strange difficulty there is in protecting half- educated or 
wholly ignorant persons, when I found that almost all 
factory girls looked upon the inspectors as personal 
enemies, exactly in the same way that the poorer people 
regard the police^ who, to us, stand for rquesentatives 
of protection and safety. 



76 


tlbe Soul Aatfiet 


I have found that many breaches of the law are not only 
condoned but are absolutely concealed by the girls them- 
sdves, and the fear of the “sack” will often prevent the 
oact truth being told as to the amount of overtime worked. 

Mr. C came to see me several times during my life at the 
Cruddocks’, and he supplied me from time to time with 
small sums of money for the little necessities that arose 
from day to day; for I found— despite my determination — 
that it was impossible to live on three shillings a week. I 
paid for my board alone four shillings, and for sharing the 
room with Kate two shillings a week. If I had not been 
able to supplement my scanty earnings, I should have fared 
badly indeed. It is always the girls who live in homes such 
as I first shared who are the best off among the factory 
workers, for they are not expected to contribute their entire 
earnings to the family, and get many advantages from living 
in a household which they would not be able to afford were 
they entirely dependent on providing their own home. The 
hospitality of these people ip marvellous. True, they are not 
thrifty, and seldom is there anything put by for a rainy day, 
but what they have they share liberally. 

Mr. C. was invited to the house for the next Sunday’s 
dinner, and I had the pleasure of going out with the mother 
to do her marketing on the Saturday night. The two girls 
went out with their “ blokes.” 

The Sunday dinner is almost a fetish in the home of the 
London factory girl. 

“ Why, it wouldn’t be like Sunday if there wasn’t no roast 
and boiled. Ye see it’s the only day in the week when we all 
sits down together, and I likes to make a bit of a fuss like^” 
Mrs. Cruddock said. 

Thus the buying and providing the food for Sunday is 
generally a very important business. 



11 


jpancies an^ facts 

Among the people I lived with then, the shopping was 
nearly all done between the hours of 6 and is p.m. on 
Saturday evening, but I found that some of the still poorer 
people did most of their marketing on Sunday morning 
because many of the goods are sold cheaper at that time. 

Mr. Cruddock, who was a great admirer of his wife^ told 
me that the old woman would make a couple of shillings go 
further than some could a dollar. (It is curious among the 
poor people of London that they use the word dollar so much.) 
Good managers seme of these women are, and Heaven knows, 
it requires good management to provide food for ten or twelve 
mouths during a whole week on twenty or thirty shillings. 
The best of this class of women will go several miles in order 
to find the cheapest markets. But as a rule, 1 found them 
hopelessly unthrifty, and very ignorant of food*values apart 
from butcher’s meat 

Down 1 went with Mrs. Cruddock that Saturday night into 
all the noise and light and good-tempered gaiety of their 
narrow market street, which was^lined on either side with gay 
coster stalls on which were displayed every variety of goods 
that might be necessary for a housekeeper. The mere 
spending of money, be it ever so little, seems to give immense 
pleasure to the throngs of poor women eager for bargains at 
these stalls or shops. The very poorest seem to obtain some 
comfort from the sight of displayed food, and the feeling of 
warmth; and the crowd passes gaily along, each shopper 
either buying the cheapest wares or watching the more 
fortunate ones make their purchases. The air was resonant 
with hundreds of voices. Costers calling the price of their 
wares, hawkers yelling for buyers, buskers singing or playing, 
piano -organs with their crowds of dancing children, noisy 
showmen pattering at the doors of penny gaffs, shrill cries of 
little children, all delighted to come a-marketing with mother : 



7S Vbe SOttI Aiitffiet- 

these are the sights and sounds that make up the market of 
the poor. 

By far the noisiest, and as a rule, the most energetic 
salesmen, in this market at any rate, were the cheap butchers. 
Crowds of women were standing around every meat shop, 
which was hung from roof to ground with carcases and joints 
of meat Mrs. Cruddock stopped before one where the man 
was carrying on a sort of auction. 

“'Ere ye 're. 'Ere ye 're. Eightpence, sixpence, fivepence. 
'Ere ye 'te. Fourpence a pound. Hasn't none of you got no 
money? 'Ere ye 're — threepence a pound — sold agaia” 
And then after a sale was completed he shouted : “ Buy, buy, 
buy." He caught sight of Mrs. Cruddock on the edge of the 
crowd, and fixing his eye on her, said : “ Look ! 'ere ye 're. 
What do for your governor? That's a nice little piece to 
put the old man in a good humour to-morrow.'' But Mrs. 
Cruddock would have none of that, and chose her own 
joint 

I stood a little while watching the girls come around, ^d 
learned a few lessons in domestic economy. 

“Here, my dear,” called the butcher, “here's a prime little 
Idt of beef; good for roasting, boiling, and eating.” 

“ What ! you call it meat ? ” said one of the girls. “ Why, 
my bloke soles his boots with better stuff than that” 

“ No, my dear,” said the man, “ not with better than this. 
Why, this is a piece of good old English beef.” 

“ I ain't no juggins,” said the girl, “ I don't want your kag 
mag. Give us something to eat” 

The Sunday dinner was a memorable one for me. It was 
the last I had in that united household. /'Twelve of us sat 
down to a table originally built for four, but eveiyohe seemed 
to enjoy the dinner, and afterwards we went out for a walk in 
the Park. The 9rls danced on the green, or walked with . 



^fiitcfe* and facta 79 

their arms around each other's waists, and exchanged curious 
witticisms with the various young men lounging about 

Not for some time did I tell Mr. C. that I had had enough 
of work in an aerated water factory, and wanted now to enter 
some factory in another part of the town, where I could live 
with just one factory girl as her chum. 

It happened about this time that I met, one day, two girls 
who were fighting in a poor district where there were three 
large factories. These girls bad been, I was informed, close 
chums and had lived together ; but one of them had annexed 
her friend’s young man, and this was the cause of furious 
enmity. A policeman stepped in and parted the girls, and 
I sat down beside one of them who collapsed in a heap on 
the pavement. She was much subdued, and in answer to my 
inquiries told me where she lived. I accompanied her to her 
home, stayed talking with her until eleven that night, and left, 
only after promising to come and join her to take the place of 
her faithless fiiend. Two days after, with my bundle, not on 
my shoulder, but under my arm, I made my way out to the 
suburban district where this girl lived. She bad one small 
room at the top of a block of tenement houses. The room 
was fiimished with a stove, which served the double purpose 
of cooking and heating, and she had all her possessions 
almost within hand-reach when she sat in the middle of her 
small domain. She suggested very kindly that I should share 
her bed, but I hardly felt equal to this philanthrq^iy, so we 
went out and purchased a folding-chair,, a kind of resting- 
place, whereon I have spent many nights. The chair cost 
seven and sixpence. My ulster had to serve as a blanket for 
the first nigb^ but the next day I bought a shawl and pillow. 

Annie was my finend’s naihe, and she worked in a fimtoiy a 
long distance fi»m where she lived. To reach her work she 
had to make a railway journey, the full fore of which would 



8o ZCbe Soul Aarftet 

have absorbed the greater part of her scanty wages. She 
thoefore took advantage of a workmen’s train, the last 
tickets for which were not sold later than 7 a.m. The 
particular hictory where Annie worked opened at 8.15, so 
that she had to travel to London and stand about in the 
streets until the gates of her factory opened. 1 have seen 
many times a number of these unfortunate girls huddled 
together on a wet morning beneath the friendly shelter of 
an arch or doorway. Anyone arriving at Liverpool Street in 
the early morning would notice many of these factory girls 
waiting about in the station until it is time for them to 
commence work. 

Annie took me to her factory, which was one for the manu- 
focture of fancy boxes. I had to answer a number of 
questions, and then was engaged as a learner. I was sent 
up to a girl whom I found at work at a bench in a long room 
crowded mth other benches and girls. My task was to work 
for her at no wages for one month. After this time I was to be 
put upon piece-work myself. This arrangement meant tljat I 
had to give my time to this girl for a month in return for the 
instruction she could give. 

On arriving at her bench I asked her if she was the person 
to whom I had been sent; she nodded. I gave her my 
message, and she glanced up at me, giving me a comprehensive 
and sweeping look. 

“ You’ve started late, ain’t yer ? ” 

"Yes,” I said; “but I hope not too late.” 

“Well, that depends,” she said. “You can’t pick up box- 
making in a minute, gal.” 

“ I will do my best,” I said humbly. 

“Thatll show willing, at any rate,” she answered, with a 
smile. 

Then she told me to follow her to the cutting-room. This 1 



fandcB ait^ facts si 

did, and was loaded with pieces of cardboard cut to rises, and 
ready to fasten together. Going back to the bench, my 
instructress began quickly gluing strips of paper with one 
finger, then transferring the glued strip to the edge of the card 
with her other fingers, keeping the one wet with glue out of 
the way. She worked with incredible speed. My first day’s 
work consisted in little more than fetching cardboard from the 
cutters and stacking boxes that my teacher seemed to produce 
on her work-bench much in the same manner that a conjuror 
produces valuable articles out of nothing. Once or twice I 
essayed the gluing of the boxes, but do what I would, 1 could 
not prevent my fingers getting glued together, and had to 
wash them, which, my companion told me, was waste of time. 
It seemed to me that I would never be able to accomplish 
box-making, and from conversation with other girls employed 
in the factory, I learned that it takes at least one year’s 
training to earn as much as six shillings a week, and expert 
box-makers require a training of three years. The girl who 
was teaching me earned fourteen shillings a week, and she 
was one of the smartest workers in the factory. 

About eighty girls and young women were employed in 
this place. All the young women were under the direct 
supervision of a foreman who gave out work to the piece- 
workers and examined it when finished. 

From this and other experiences of the same kind, I believe 
that the practice of putting men in charge of youhg girls and 
women is a very unsatisfactory one. It is a practice that 
should be discouraged as much as possible. How often I have 
heard the girls bitterly complain of the favouritism and injustice 
of the men in charge of their work. They rarely complain 
of their hours or their wages, but they are almost unanimous 
in complaining of their foremen and overlookers. Of course^ 
on behalf of the foremen it mgy be said, that if they are not 

f 



8 * 


^£bc Sonl Aarltet 


seme and exacting, this class of girl is apt to get out of hand ; 
but in my opinion, a very serious responsibility rests upon 
Uiose &ctory-owners who employ men overlookers in their 
women’s workshops. 

My hours of work in the box &ctory were from 8.15 until 
I a, then, after an hour’s rest for dinner, work started again, 
and continued until 6 p.m. In busy times the girls worked 
on until 8 p.m. As we had to come a long distance to 
our work, we generally brought our dinner with us. This 
consisted of slices of bread and butter with a bit of ham or 
beef between, but some of the girls went out to a coffee-house 
near by, and others to a little cook-shop, where they got meat 
and potatoes ready cooked and brought it to the doors of 
the factory, where they either sat in groups to eat it, or 
wandered about in the streets until the factory opened 
again 

Men have forced a netter state of things for themselves, 
tbanas to tne Trades Unions, factory-owners are obliged to 
provide suitable eating-rooms for their employees, but for 
women workers there is rardy any provision made for them 
to have their meals in comfort Long hours of standing 
and ill -chosen and unnutntioos food, swallowed in any 
chance comer, make it impossible for the girls to produce 
the good work they might, if they worked under better 
condition. 

At (he magnificent factory of the National Cash Register 
Company in America, where* I was a guest for soihe time^ I 
was shown the girls’ dining-room, where the Company pro- 
vided meals, that anyone might have enjoyed, at a very small 
cost to the workers, and the Directors jsssured me that since 
the estd>Ushinent of this room, where good food was com- 
fortably served, the girls’ capacity for work hadiieen increased 
at leut one-third, so that, as one of them put it, *'it paid in 



f aitcfef fiti& fact! tt 

actual cash to look after the workers.** The Company also 
had a splendid cooking school for the girls. 

My life with Annie was characteristic of a factory girl’s 
life. We lived together as friends, went to work together^ 
and returned home together. She took me to some of the 
clubs to which she belonged. 

Once I went with her to a “penny ’op.’* This was a dance 
given in the back parlour of a small public-house. I was 
afflicted with a sprained ankle, which is a disease I am very 
subject to on such embarrassing occasions, so I sat against 
the wall, and watched some of these young creatures disport 
themselvea The young men took them out occasionally into 
the bar and treated them to drinks. We did not get home 
until twelvie o’clock, and I found that these evening expedi- 
tions made it very difficult for us to rise in the morning in 
time for our work. 

We had to rise at six o’clock in order to catch our train, 
and to be sure of getting there in time we employed a 
“knocker-up” — quite an institution in factory life. He is a 
man who, for fourpence or sixpence a week, undertakes to call 
at any hour in the morning persons whose business requires 
them to be up at hours when more fortunate mortals are fast 
asleep. 

Annie and I took it in turns every morning to get our own 
breakfasts. We had, as a rul^ coffee and bread and butter, 
and as an occasional treat we would have a slice of bacon or 
a bloater, but we rarely spent more than twopence oh omr 
breakfast We almost always ran to the railway static 
where we had to |>ush our way through a crowd of mm th 
obtain our tickets at the booking-office. It was necessary frft 
us, as we took the workmen’s train, to heve the exact anuKmt 
of fare required, as no change was given, and we oondderid 
oursdves extremely furtunate if we were able to get a seat fo 



trbe Soul Aarftet 


84 

our destination. Why, I wonder, is it not made a punishable 
offence for railway companies to crowd their carriages in this 
shameful way, when omnibus companies are prosecuted for 
carrying an overplus of passengers ? What with the fatigue of 
the journey, and the waiting out in the streets until the factory 
gates were opened, I found that Annie and I were tired almost 
before work begun, and I hunted for some place where we 
might spend a little time while waiting to commence work. 

I found in the neighbourhood of our terminus a^hurch, 
which the sensible and Christian vicar had causea to be 
opened in the morning for the use of these very girls, and 
here I discovered from seven to nine o’clock crowds of young 
women seated quietly reading or sewing. To Annie and me 
this place was a God-send. It was close to the factory, and 
every morning while I worked at this place we found a shelter 
in this quiet sanctuary. It would be a good and noble use to 
which many churches in the metropolis might be put, and 
many a young life, unsheltered and uncared-for, might be 
saved and protected if such a place of refuge was open and 
easy of access. 

I made friends with several of the girls who worked in this 
fimtory, and sometimes we were accompanied home by a little 
throng, whose conversation was always full of interest to me. 
I was mterested to learn that the reading these girls most 
fiivoured was the novels we know as “Penny Shockers.” 
Annie told me that she only liked the ones “wif plenty 
of luv and blood in them.” They delight in the love-affairs 
and intrigues of earls and duchesses, and revel in the florid 
descriptions indulged in by the writers of this class of fiction. 

One day as I was returning from work with Annie a girl 
came up and joined us. She began telling Annie of a book 
she had just been reading. 

“ Yus,” she said ; “ I read it right through afore I went to 



fancies anD facts 85 

sleep. As I was a-sayin’, when the h’earl read this 'ere false 
letter what this ’ound, Sir Eustice, had sent Im, he ups and 
goes down the marble steps, an’ out inter the cold night air, 
and goes strite down the avenoo, and there he comes right 
atop of this 'ere Sir Eustice, who was a-standin’ theer wif 
Lidy Clarise in ’is arms.” 

“ Gawd 1 ” gasped the listener ; “ wot ’e do ? ” 

“ ’E jest folded ’is arms and gazed at 'em cold-like for a 
ninit.” 

"Yus; an’ then?" 

“ Why, Lidy Clarise, she tears ’erself out of the arms of Sir 
Eustice, and flings ’erself dahn on the ground at the h’earl’s 
feet.” 

“Wot’edo?” 

“ Why, ’e treated ’er wif scorn and spumery-like.” 

“ Oh, pore gal 1 Yus ? ” 

“ Then ’e goes for the ’ound wif 'is riding-whip. An’ the 
way ’e set abaht ’im was great, strite. Sir Eustice ’owled 
for mercy.” 

" Lor I I wouldn’t arf like to read it Bring it ter-morrer, 
will yer, Lizy ? ” 

"Right oh!” 

“Wotd’yercallit? ’ 

" ‘ The Luv wot Kills.’" 

I made the experiment of reading to some of these girls 
Stevenson’s. “ Treasure Island” and a story of Mrs. Hodgson 
Burnett’s, and I found thqr were much interested. But these 
books are not to be bought for a penny or twopence, and the 
factory girl has not surplus cash to stock a library. I went to 
three Girls’ Clubs tod took out books in order to see tho 
kind of literature {Mrovided for these hungry young minds. In 
one I had a choice siddy stories interlined with inmnl 
platitudes— in another, some educatiomd books, some not 



96 


tCbe Soul Aarftet 

very good itories^ and some books on general subjects not of 
much interest to the factory girls. In a third I found some 
well'known and quite excellent books, but nowhere was there 
a really wise selection. Factory girls have such hard, exacting 
toil, and as a rule, such a good supply of animal spirits and 
mental energy, that they must find an outlet for their pent-up 
feelings. They rush screaming out of their factory often — and 
will dance with perfect abandon and delight to the strains of 
a barrel-organ in the dinner-hour, and do all manner of 
strange things purely from relief at being out in the air. 

I used to grow faint very often in the cardboard box factory 
— ^the air was bad, the light bad too^ and the lack of good 
food, added to the hardship of the work. No woman earned 
quite a pound a week in this factory — ^we had continually to 
work overtime, and often workers were obliged to go out ill. 
There was absolutely no thought for the employees — ^yet in 
looking over the financial columns of a paper, I saw the. year’s 
dividend paid by this very factory — and the profits were 
most excellent : good commerce is the stay of the nation, but 
no nation can hold pre-eminence whose workers are underpaid, 
forced to labour in unwholesome conditions, and unprovided 
with suitable resting and eating places. 

My experience of work in a jam factory was very difiScult to 
endure. I got employment at a large factory of this sort. It 
would be a great mistake to put all fiictory workers in the 
same category. In some classes of trade they are superior 
girls. In a Freh«di polishing fimtory which I know, the giiis 
have to work hard, and have actual manual labour, but they 
are better pud than in many fimtories, and they ate intelligent 
and superior girls. But in the jam factories, tin-box factories, 
imd fiiMtewing houses, the workers a)re often of a very rough 
class. In these branches of trade many married women 
wotlq mid the betoviour and language of these women is 



fancies an& facts s? 

generally bad. One reason is, that a man must be low and 
degraded indeed to allow his wife to work in a factory. 
The women are therefore of a rough and bad type, and 
the young girls working with them gain no good from this 
companionship. 

In the jam factory where I worked, many of the women 
used " to keep Saint Monday ” — that is, they used to drink 
heavily on Sunday, and be so unfit for work on Monday that 
they were obliged to stay away, or work half time only. 

This work was a terrible experience for me. Some 
time before I obtained employment in this place I had 
occasion to assist at a treat a friend was giving for some 
factory grls. Many of her guests were employed in a jam 
factory. I had not realised what this meant, and presented 
twenty tins of the best jam and marmalade obtainable as a 
small contribution to the feast. On the night, I had the 
pleasure of hearing one of the girls say : 

“ Lor, what muck — I ain’t goin’ to eat none o’ that.” 

I tried to explain that the jam was the most expensive and 
best I knew of j . the girl laughed. 

“You doesn’t work in a jam factory, miss, ugh 1 ” 

The shudder was expressive. Later I thoroughly understood 
this disgust so openly expressed. 

It was not difficult to obtain employment this time^ for I 
had already picked fruits for bottling at a factory, shelled peas^ 
and got a lien, as it were, on work of this sort. The applicants 
were mostly casual workers, poor in physique and appearance. 
I was one of the twenty sel^ted. The salary agreed upon 
was seven shilling a week, and I yras engaged for “perhi^” 
three weeks “ regtdar.” It seemed that a “ heavy market ” 
was expected, as fruit was plentiful and of a petishAlde 
wdaire., 

I went to workat oncer The j^ls passed in file • 



88 tCbe Soul /Savltet 

door, and a foreman gave each one a brass tally; these we 
retomed at noon as we passed out, and our numbers were 
entered in a book to show we had arrived punctually. 

~ The first day I sat on a stool at a table heaped with fruit 
and “picked” as fast as I could. A big basket stood beside 
each picker, who tossed the fruit into it as she removed stems 
and leaves, etc. At intervals men came in and carried away 
the baskets, leaving others in their place. No talking was 
allowed. None of the women or girls washed their hands 
before beginning their work. We had to work at high 
pressure, and got only half an hour for dinner at midday. 

No one complained. Workers in factories do not often 
complain ; there are too many women in the labour market 
for them to be able to choose the conditions under which 
they wish to work, especially if they happen to be unskilled 
workers. 

In spite of their unlovely surroundings, the roughest of 
factory girls have many redeeming features. In this very jam 
factory, for instance, were two girls who were great “ churns.” 
They earned on an average six or seven shillings a week each, 
and lived together, sharing their possessions like sisters. The 
younger of these girls, a poor, anaemic creature, fell seriously 
ill and was obliged to keep her bed. Her companion kept 
her all through her illness. She was a wild girl and loved the 
streets, but when her friend was ill she flew home at nights to 
nurse her. Nobler devotion, or more unselfish service, no 
woman could render another than this girl rendered her 
dying friend. One day she fainted in the factory. I found, 
after many inquiries, that she was actually starving herself in 
order to provide food and tiny delicacies, such as an orange 
or whelks, for her friend. The sick girl was too near death to 
cate even for whelks, and when she died, as she did, partly of 
stamtion, her generous friend nearly broke her heazt 



f Aitcfes an& facta 89 

It would be leaving out one of the most pronounced 
attributes of these working girls did I not mention their 
extraordinary loyalty. In most of their miserable rooms they 
contrive to have cheap prints of the King and Queen. If ever 
any of them should have chanced to see the King or Queen, 
such an one acquires an added dignity among her companions. 
Now that I have shared their lives and understand them, T 
realise what splendid citizens might be made of these some- 
what reckless and lawless toiler^ if one could take them with 
all their enthusiasms and capacity for devotion and affection, 
their passionate love of colour and beauty, which has so little 
vent, their swift, dramatic perception, which might be trained 
to appreciate noble domestic virtues, and give them the 
opportunities of a saner, wholesomer life. 

Are they so much richer and wiser in America, I wonder, 
than we are in Great Britain ? England is a rich country, yet 
in America they give their women toilers splendid clubs and 
fine eating-houses, bright and comfortable places where they 
can enjoy the companionship of their lovers, brothers, and 
husbands under happy conditions. I visited scores of such 
places. They guard their people by such societies as the 
“Consumers’ League”— a League for the supervision of 
sweating, and the safeguarding of the workers. They shut 
out of their country, which is so vast that they might well find 
room for them, the hordes of alien starvelings that vre 
encourage to descend upon our already pressed working 
peoples 



CHAPTER V 


THE BRITISH *' JVMOLB WHAT 1 SAW OF THE PRESERVED 
FOOD TRADE 

When I first conceived the idea of enlisting myself in the 
great army of daily workers in the factories, I did not intend 
taking part in any reforms other than those which concerned 
the workers. Indeed, I had no idea of the revelations which 
work in such places would bring to me. It was long before 
the agitation in regard to clean food had begun, and I had 
paid no attention to the matter of food preparation; my 
chiefest interest lay in the workers of factories, and the stories 
that I am here going to relate are merely the outcome ot 
personal experience while trying to gain a knowle(!ge of 
factoiy girls and their lives. What changes have come over 
the canning trade since the days of my torment I am not 
able to say. I obtained, in various ways, employment in 
many factories of difierent kinds in and about London, so 
that my experience is fiurly varied. It must not be understood 
that the places I worked in are typical of all factories, but 
they, certainly are typical of a large number. For mstanc^ 1 
am aware that there are many up-to-date clean and sanitary 
jam fiidories. Indeed, I have visited the premises of some 
of thes% and have been a guest of some firms who own great 
fields and orchards in the country, and whose fiuit is b^ond 
reproadh. But the proprietors of the jam bctoiies I worked 

in dur^ my investigations owned no fruit lardeiu of thmr 

90 



Ube Xtmsb bundle" 


9 * 


own. They bought in the cheap^t markets, and sold in the 
dearest. There is only one consolation which comes to those 
who work in such places, and that is that even wealth does 
not protect people from the dirty and disgustingly manu- 
&ctured stuffs sent out from these places ; for their sale is not 
confined to the very poorest classes. It may be some little 
compensation to the miserable toilers to think that a fine lady, 
with all the dainty tastes fostered by great wealth and el^pmt 
surroundings, may perhaps partake of some preserved delicacy 
which has been made in filthy and insanitary workshops by 
suffering and dirty people. It is an unconscious levelling 
process which brings some small satisfaction when one is 
almost heart-broken with indignation and helplessness after 
experiences in such places. 

It was early in July, when the fruit season was almost at its 
height, that I obtained, after a long night out in the London 
streets with dejected and homeless creatures, a temporary job 
in a jam factory. It is generally known that there are 
very stringent factory regulations as to hours, cubic space of 
air, sanitary arrangements, and so forth. The place I worked 
in was within the area of the working of these Factory Acts ; 
but during the few days I was there, never a sign of an 
inspector did I see, nor indeed, from the conduct of the 
owners of the place, did I observe much spptehetuion on 
their part of raids by Government officials. Things went on 
in the even tenor of their way. There were some score 
more of women and g^ls who, like myself, had spent the; 
night wandering the streets of London. This kinder town 
had offered ns no place of rdfiige where we could have 
washed or mi^e ourselves in any way decent or fit to 
take op work in a fruit-preserving bctoiy. One of ^ 
women had some nasty ddn diseue; what it wa||i?f an 
not able to say. They were idl desperatdy dki^ wad 



9a tCbe Sonl Aatftet 

absolutely unfit to touch food that was meant for human 
consumption. 

As the fruit was brought in almost unexpectedly, and in 
great quantities, it was necessary that it should be disposed 
of immediately as the weather prevented its keeping. Straw- 
berries, plums^ and raspberries came in daily in enormous 
quantities. We were at the factory at seven in the morning, 
and worked all day, with about ten minutes for food at noon, 
and another ten minutes about four, till eight o’clock and 
after, thus exceeding the working limit allowed by the Factory 
Act This was done every day while I was in this particular 
place. Of course, no workers under such circumstances 
would ever make a complaint, seeing that this was their 
only plank between death by starvation and a chance of 
a meagre existence. The love of life seems so strongly 
implanted in human beings, that they are willing to prolong 
it even at hideous cost of suffering. One observation which 
a stranger, coming from what we are pleased to call heathen 
countries, cannot fail to make in Christian countri^ is the 
almost insane horror of death in their inhabitants. In no 
country have I seen this exemplified to a greater degree than 
in England. It is true that the poor possess this fear in a 
less degree than the well-to-do and better educated, but there 
is little of that calm expectation of Fate that one finds in the 
East I have often wondered, when working among the poor, 
and seeing their evil condition, how it is that they do not put 
an end to their sufferings by death ; but rather than that, they 
endure hunger and cold, awful fatigue and sleeplessness, day 
after day. i 

In the mornings we entered the jam factory and took our 
places at stools, on either side of which were placed two 
enormous basket^ the one filled with fitiit and the other 
Impty. It was our business to pick, as rapidly as possible^ 



m Brftteb bundle*’ 93 

the stems and leaves from the fruit in the one basket and 
throw the stuff thus prepared into the other, ready to be 
carried away to the boiling room. 

There was no place in this factory where the workers could 
wash their hands, nor were there sanitary arrangements of 
any description. We sat down as we had come out of the 
street and began work. The baskets of fruit were carried in 
by men, and sometimes, on days of great pressure, by women, 
and placed by the side of the stools, and we worked at high 
speed, the foreman coming along every few minutes to 
urge us to Hurry up ! ” and “Look sharp there ! ” The heat 
was so intense that the perspiration poured down the 
unfortunate workers, and every now and again a woman 
would put up her hand to dash off the moisture from her 
forehead and face. The fruit was, of course^ not washed. It 
came to the factory in huge vans, piled high in large baskets. 
It was the practice of this particular factory to buy at Covent 
Garden market the second or slightly “ off" fruit, which was 
unsaleable to fruiterers, costermongers, or green -grocers. 
Owing to the heat and pressure of packing, the fruit often 
arrived at the factory in a half-fermenting mass; indeed, 
so bad was it often, that it was impossible to pick out 
whole fruit All we could do was to take up the mess by 
handfuls, pick out any leaves or stems that were prominent^ 
and throw it into the next basket in a sort of pulp. 

Now this firm was by no means an unknown or poor one. 
Not very long ago I noticed with some amusement a case in 
the papers where several hundredweight of fruit, designed fot 
a factory, was seized by the inspector. A case was made, and 
the manager appeared in cout^ dreadfully distressed, of course; 
that such a thing should have taken place, declaring that it 
was entirely an accident, and that on arrival at the factuiy 
fruit; when discovered to be in a bad sta^ would inevit^i^ 



94 nibe sota iftweftet 

hatpe been destroyed. A small fine was inflicted, and the 
frint confiscated. No one, of course^ took any further notice 
of the matter. The incident amused me, because it was 
a common occurrence for fruit to arrive at the factory where 
I worked in such a state that any decent person would have 
considered it unfit for human consumption. 

Our wages never exceeded seven shillings a week, which 
was considered an extremely high rate of pay, though the 
hours of work were sometimes twelve or thirteen. The 
sugar used in the manufacture of these jams is almost in- 
variably what is called "grape” sugar — that is to say, it is 
manu&ctured from beetroot, potatoes, or any other substance 
yielding sugar, except cane. 

Another experience I had was in a marmalade factory. It 
was a well-advertised concern, and lay not far from London. 
The chief director of this factory (for it is owned by a small 
company) is a man of high standing in his church. He is 
noted for his charity and public beneficence, and indeed, he 
m^ht well afford this exhibition of piety, since the working of 
his business costs him so little. In this factory are employed 
some seventy women and girls, and between thirty and forty 
men. The women were of a very low class — ^foul-mouthed 
and drunken. The men were more respectable^ and carried 
more responsibility. Their wages were not high, but they 
were engaged chiefly in superintending the work. Every 
room had a foreman. In all my experience of factory work 
I have continually heard the same complaint made where men 
are employed to supervise girls and women. It would not, of 
course, be polite to retail all that one hears of the evils arising 
fi»m such a system, but it is sufficient to say that the fimt has 
come to my own knowledge of two girls who, rather than give 
up tbSr only means of livelihood, submitted i» the wishes of 
the foreman under whom th^ worked. It is not pleasing to 



TEbe Sri«6b 


.95 

contemplate the closing chapters of such histories. In the 
marmalade factory more r^rd was paid to the hours of 
work, and .as I entered here on what may be called the 
permanent staff, I did not see so much of dirt among the 
actual workers. The working space was very limited, and 
the atmosphere anything but pure, owing to insufficient 
ventilation. I was never able to find out where the oranges 
were bought, and I cannot give as authentic the story in 
common circulation in the factory, that the great quantities 
of orange peel which I myself saw brought in were swept off 
the streets. I had no means of verifying this statement, but 
this I do know, that the oranges which came in great baskets 
piled one on the top of the other in the company’s own vans 
were often in a state of decay. One morning the consign- 
ment of fruit for the day’s boiling was so bad that the workers 
made open jokes about it when the foreman was not too close. 
One basket of oranges which I had the pleasure of unpacking 
and counting contained fruit so bruised and crushed down, 
and evidently of such age, that there was a growth of greeny- 
white mildew on the top and between each layer. I pointed 
this out to the foreman, and was promptly told that that was 
no concern of mine, and that if I could not mind iny own 
business there were “ others as could.” 

The curious part of the food-preserving trade seems to me 
the marvellous way in which the ingenious owners of ttese 
factories can turn out quite nice-looking stulb from half- 
decayed and diseased material Of course there are frie 
usual dymng and other processes, and these have evidaMlir 
been brought to sudi a state of perfection that* in appeanp^ 
at least, the prepared articles pve no bint of their unsayhiiiify 
ori^ This, I think, might be considered a tribute to; title 
progress of modmm sd«hce in the rnmtor of food ad«di^lit|th^ 

X was particularly struck with the brutaluing 



9^ tEbe Soul iDArftet 

life seems to have on married women. These are often of a 
most degraded type. They are offensive personally, and use 
vile language. As a rule, their Aoms are miserable hovels. 
In India and Arabia the conditions among manied women in 
factories are very different to those obtaining in Great Britain. 
In those heathen countries the manied women, who work 
almost invariably, keep their earnings for themselves. Often 
the factory workers own a considerable amount of silver 
jewellery, which is, of course, an Eastern way of saving 
money. The women who have babies are given an oppor- 
tunity to feed their little ones, who are brought to the 
factories. There is no destruction of child-life, or degradation, 
as there is in Christian countries. The factories too are open 
and airy places. 

After my experiences in the jam and marmalade factories, I 
sought other places where I might make further investigations, 
in order that my experiences should not be one-sided. 

So it was that during my tours of discovery among the 
labouring and outcast people, I ventured, among mother 
experiments, upon a term of service in a butcher’s shop, 
and later, in order to learn something of the methods of trade 
exchange in this country, I became a seeking purchaser of 
several meat shops, and also of a pork pie shop. It was not 
with a view to investigating the food trade, however, that I 
did this, but more with a view to ascertaining the conditions 
under which girls work in these places, and also to find out 
for myself some of the fraudulent methods of shop sale and 
exchange of which 1 had heard a good deal at various times. 
These frauds have been many times exposed in the daily 
press; it-is a matter of common knowledge how the unwary 
purchaser of a small tobacco store is introduced by an 
tihscnipulous agent and taken over the fnemises by a wily 
proftrietor. He is shown a few boxes filled with cigars and 



Zbc JJrtttob 


97 


cigarettes, a few pounds of tobacco and other goods, which 
lead him to suppose that the whole stock is bon^ fide. When 
the purchase is complete, the victim discovers either that the 
back rows of boxes filling the shelves are empty or dummy 
boxes, or that they contain such inferior brands that the value 
is depreciated to an almost imperceptible amount. 

A friend of mine, the manageress of a well-known club, to 
whom I was speaking in reference to the catering of this 
establishment, told me that she was once companion to a rich 
old lady in the country. The hobby of this woman, was 
farming, and she bred cattle and sheep which she sold at 
considerable profit. The horrid part of the story, however, 
was the calm way in which my friend informed me that she 
never bought foreign meat because, not only was the meat 
not as economical as really good home-killed mea^ but that 
farmers and others who bred cattle for the market always sold 
their worst specimens to be killed and offered for public sale 
as foreign meat. The old lady who employed my fiiend had 
an invariable practice, when her sheep or cattle were tuber- 
culous or in any way diseased, of disposing of them at a 
cheaper price to be sold as foreign meat. My experience of 
the meat "trade in London caused me for a long time to 
become a vegetarian, and now when I use meat at all, it is 
only when it is bought at places like the Army and Navy 
Stores, or similar concerns, which gain no advantage from 
selling inferior and miscalled offal to the public 

I found it would be very difficult for me really to learn 
anything about the fraudulent disposal of petty shops unless 
I entered the market as a purchaser. With the help of a 
friend, I managed to get into touch with several small meat 
butchers in and about London, who had businesses for eate. . 
A method I found very effective in managing this was to put 
an advertisement stating that I required to boy a small 



98 trbe sotti Aarket 

butnness, in the weekly journal devoted to the meat trade. I 
usually had many answers each tim^ and was thus able to 
MBMninw the workings of small butchers’ businesses in various 
parts of the town. Then again, I obtained employment, also 
through the same paper, as book-keeper in a butcher’s shop, 
and it was during this period that I gained my knowledge of 
one side, at any rate, of the meat trade in this country. 

I worked as well in two meat-preserving factories, or rather 
one foctory where preserved meats were prepared, and another 
where table jellies were manufactured : they were not model 
&ctories. At the time, I was filled with disgust and indigna- 
tion at the way greedy and unscrupulous men made fortunes 
out of the unsuspecting public, by providing them with vile 
substitutes for food; but having other work to do at the time; 
I did not use, except in a casual way, the great mass of 
information which I was able to collect during this period. 
As meat is unfortunately the staple food of the British people, 
I will give a short description here of some of the bye-trades 
dealbg with meat and some of the products supposed to be 
meat I deal chiefly, of course with meat killed and manu- 
factured in this kingdom. With foreign tinned goods I do not 
concern myself. It is a matter of common knowledge that 
live cattle are brought over in thousands to this country, 
chiefly from the Argentina America, Australia, and New 
Zealand. The enormous growth of this trade during the 
last few years may be gathered from these figures. 

It was about the year 1876 that the American continent 
began to supply Britain with “ the roast beef of Old England.” 
In that year we imported 5,513 tons only. Last year we 
recmved 175,^11 tons. Australia began exporting meat 
about 1881. She sent over first 565 tons; and in 1905 
96,518 tons. But the most marvellous ihcrease is that from 
the Argentina from where we first imported 19 oxen and 375 



ICbe Brftteb "bundle** 


99 


sheep ; this was in 1889. In 1900 there were imported into this 
country 321079 oxen and I44i573 sheep. The trade was then 
stopped on account of the foot and mouth disease, and last 
year we received again 19,643 beasts and 65,493 sheep. Last 
year’s imports from the United States and the Argentine States 
reached the largest on record. They amounted to 175,611 
tons for 1905. Forty-two per cent of the supply is thus 
contributed by America, and the Argentine and Australia 
send 23 per cent., and only a 1*7 per cent is produced in this 
country. 

The number of inspectors of meat in the city of London is 
eight Last year there arrived in the London market 415,296 
tons. These figures speak for themselves. The inspectors 
are conscientious men, willing to do the best that lies in their 
power. The amount of work expected of them renders their 
office ridiculous. The animals slaughtered in the Metropolitan 
Cattle Market was 173,904 ; of this number 1,001 animals were 
condemned as totally unfit for food, at no less than twenty- 
eight river-side wharves at which food is received. There 
has lately arisen a custom for the whole-salers ” to send vans 
direct to these wharves, and have the goods delivered to the 
retailers direct, thus adding to the difficulties of meat inspec- 
tion. After having given these illuminating figures, some of 
my later experiences may not appear so astounding as they 
might otherwise da 

The meat-packing fiictoi^ I worked in was owned by 
large company and a very rich ona It is run in a name 
that has been familiar for many years to the British public, 
Among other abominations which anived in this factory, w^ *; 
enormous cases of meat, tongues, sheep’s hearts, and 
which were delivered here from America and other 
There is a class of goods which is called frmetiously, ih 
trade, “Bulgarian atrocities." This consists *0f she^ 



loQ Vbe Soul Aarftet 

comes from Servia. They are frozen, and often arrive 
in London in very indifferent condition; indeed, the con- 
signments are of such poor quality that they have earned 
the title; “ Bulgarian atrocities.” 

On one occasion there came into the factory where I worked 
four enormous wooden cases containing tongues and sheep’s 
hearts, which were mildewed over, and smelt so fearfully that the 
odour made one physically sick; the whole air was polluted by 
the smell from these horrid cases, and yet every scrap of that 
diseased offal was used in the preparation of potted tongues and 
savouries of different kinds. It is necessary, during the process 
of preservation, to season these goods very profusely, and also 
to use various dyes in order to bring the pulped meat to a 
proper appearance. Recently, a noted analyst described in 
the London press how it is possible to preserve and pack 
animal matter in a state of early decay without causing the 
tins wherein it is packed to bulge or show any sign of the 
generation of gases or decomposition. 1 know, froip my own 
observation of the stuffs packed in this factory, that this 
statement is absolutely correct, for the food preserved 
and packed was so effectually doctored that no further 
decomposition took place, once the tins were hermetically 
sealed. Large quantities of these preserved materials were 
sent abroad to firms of quite well-known reputation. The 
girls and women with whom I worked were case-hardened. 
They were among the lowest and most miserable 
specimens of humanity that I have come across. No woman 
or girl in this particular factory earned more than fifteen 
shillings a week, and indeed, the average wage was between 
eight shillings and eleven shillings. I did not notice any 
definite disease among the workers, but their bodily condition 
was so extremely unsavoury and disagreeable that added to 
the hideous smells of the animal matter that was being 



TTbe SHtfsb "bundle” loi 

preserved, it rendered life almost intolerable. The air-space 
for the workers was of course not anything like as great as 
that prescribed by the Factory Act Ventilation was insuffident, 
and the condition of the factory itself insanitary. It is true 
that in this case they had one domestic office which could be 
used by the hands. What its original condition was 1 am 
unable to sayj but owing to the number of people using 
it, and the character of the people themselves, who are not 
blessed with any large sense of decency, it became absolutely 
impossible. In this place, amid a perfect miasma of stench 
and animal organisms, was prepared food, which was placed 
upon the market and retailed to the unsuspecting and careless 
public. How much this individual factory has changed since 
I worked in it four years ago, I am not able to say ; but I am 
convinced of this, that a leopard would as soon change his 
spots, as the directors of that particular place would consent 
to any improvements which entailed the spending of money, 
unless, indeed, these were forced upon them by the strong 
hand of the law and a fear of complete exposure. 

A coster lad once boasted of how he had bought a Int of 
meat for a few pence that was worth as many shillings. At 
a small shop where the meat was exposed for sal^ almost on 
the pavement, he noticed a skewer in a bit of meat that was 
rotting. This he removed, and taking it to the other side of 
the counter, stuck it into a good joint. He inquired of 
the butcher the price of it, and was told its approxiniate 
value. 

“What I” he said; “three shillings for that offid? Smell 
it I " He drew out the tainted skewer, the butcher smdt i^ 
and let the lad have the meat for threepence. The questitm 
is. Whose morality was worse, the butchet’s or the boy's? 

In the matter of preserved foods, the responsibility for -the 
sort of goods that are constandy placed on the madimt is| 



109 tibe Sottt Aatftet 

divided among so many people that it is difficult to bring 
home to any particular se^ the crime which is undoubtedly 
perpetrated from day to day. I fancy that the recent public 
interest aroused in the matter of presenred foods, and the 
additional vigilance of factory inspectors, will tend greatly 
towards refonit in such matters. But human nature does not 
change, and unless a constant supervision of all food-preserving 
.ffictories is kept up, they will* of course, lapse into evil 
conditions. 

On one occasion I took a lodging in a little street where 
most of the houses were owned by a Polish Jew who rack- 
rented them. In another room in the same house, there lived 
a baker with bis wife and family. The man had himself, at 
one time, owned a small baker’s shop, but through drink and 
other misfortune he had contrived to bring himself down to 
the very dregs of the labour market. To supplement this 
man’s earnings, his wife worked for a Jew sweater — she made 
button-holes. This baker undertook to introduce me to some 
of the mysteries of the baking trade, and it was through his 
instrumentality that I learned the condition of some of the 
baking houses in London. It is true that these were not of 
the best class ; but it is equally true that people who use 
cheap tinned meat are not of the richest class either, and 
surdy the customers of the one class are of no less value than 
the customers of the other. In one big house, which was a 
sort of underground vault, damp and ill-smelling, there were 
thirty men employed, all of a very d^raded class and 
exceedingly filthy. The dough was being kneaded with the 
feet, u>d the air was so stifling and hot that the perspiration 
poured down in streams from the men into the dough. 
There were other abominations in this place which it is 
hardly possible to describe without trespaniiig too closely 
on the indecent 



tcbe S({tf 0 b <<9ttndle’' 


103 


They habitually used foreign eggs. These were broken 
indiscriminately into huge troughs, beaten up and used, 
whatever their condition. The stench from them was 
absolutely loathsome. 

In a baker’s shop where I obtained employment in the 
West End they used eggs which were sent from Holland in 
great casks — that is to say, the eggs were broken into these 
casks, and packed in Holland — they were not in their shells 
such as those that are sent over for household cooking or 
table use. This is decidedly a trade that ought to be stopped 
at once, for it was n usual occurrence that these eggs arrived 
in a semi-decayed state. Of course they were never destroyed, 
as the loss would have been too great. They were well beaten 
up, and owing to the flavourings used and the baking they 
were subjected to, it was remarkable how little apparently bad 
effect they had on the pastries and cakes they were used 
for. 

In a meat-packing factory, also in London, I saw tongues 
and pork that came in for pressing and to make brawn, 
actually in such a decayed condition that they were falling to 
pieces, and the smell was shocking. In this factory we were 
paid shamefully low wages, and we constantly worked longer 
hours than the law allows. The staff was reinforced in the 
heavy season by relays of tramps from the gutters and river- 
side. Their usual bodily condition was offensive and bqrond 
description. These people were employed to handle the food 
which the British public paid a good price for withoot 
requiring any assurance as to its purity and fibMss for 
consumption. For myself, with my intimate knowle^ ((d 
some of these factories, 1 would inquire very particularly as 
to the brand of preserved food I was invit^ to consuntei a^! 
would need an assurance that the factory where it fill « 
manufoctured was open to any, of the pubUc^' tfao 



TCbc Soul AatRet 

virit it i venture to say, an exceedingly small percentage 
of the manu&cturers of food stuffs would dare to invite 
unexpected or frequent inspection of their premises, 
employees, and materials by the pubjlic or by Government 
officials. 



CHAPTER VI 


ACROSS THE ** ^^RRIKG POND ” — MY AMERICAN EDUCATION — 
THE AMENITIES OF CHICAGO 

During my social and professional travels on the Continent 
and in Britain, I met a good many Americans, and 
received several invitations to visit America. This I bad 
always wished to do. Indeed, it had been a question, 
before I came to England, of deciding between London, 
Boston, and Paris for my professional education. The 
choice turned on London for various reasons, and I 
have no cause to complain of the consequences, but there 
had alfays existed the desire to visit America. I am 
afraid thE^ my ideas of this great country were, in spite 
of a^eat deal of reading, rather the ideas of the average 
Britisher. It the country of “I guess,” and *'l 
calculate,” and Tom’s Cabin”; of Abraham Lancoln 

and^iRumpkin . pieE^'^di^ists and women’s colleges which 
gave" that w|f^|ew very little about in other parts 

of the wbr^j^v. Still, ^t^r j^yre to see the new continent 
was strong in ifSil|^ip|p^h^. the Women’s Temperance 
Union of America and Cahadar^gave me an invitation to 
speak at their Convention at Cincinnati, and to give a 
recital there to several thousands^ of their members frdhi 
other- parts of the world, and when my agent in London 
advised me to go on a preliminary flip, prominng to do 
what hi- co^d for me, 1 desired to avail mysdf of ttie 

*05 



ip6 TEbe Son! 

opportunity ot trying my fate in this great world. Un- 
ft^natdy, however, though the promises of work and 
welo^me seemed fair enough, I had not the necessary 
^pital to make so expensive an experiment. One day, 
about that time^ I was working extremely hard, and got a 
sudden attack of illness. A dear friend who had asked 
me to come and spend Sunday with her was put off with a 
note in which I explained that I was not good company 
and was unfitted to see anyone. Shortly after, she arrived 
at my lodgings and carried me by storm. Now this lady 
belongs to the aristocracy of England ; she has a title, but is 
not rich; she had already been extremely kind to me, and 
had given me valuabl/ introductions. During the conver- 
sation she drew from me the real cause of my distress — 
the fimt that I did not dare to risk my small capital on a 
trip to America. She insisted on having a cab there and 
then and taking me off to her house, and that afternoon 
she gave me a cheque for ;^ioo, saying: "Return it when 
you can, my dear; of course we must do our bestvto help 
each other in this life.” She knew she had nothing to gain 
from me, and she was not a rich woman. The love and 
honour in which I hold her for that kindness has inspired 
some of my best efforts, and I hope my subsequent success 
justified her confidence in me. 

I went to America knowing only three people whom I was 
likely to meet; when I returned, five and a half months 
lateti 1 had visited seventy homes of people from millionaire 
to mechanic, and had travelled several thousands of 
mile% finding everywhere friends and welcome and the 
warm-hearted hoqtitality which is the characteristic of this 
magnificent oopntry. From New York, where 1 stayed in 
turn with four friends, I went to Evanston, near Chicago. 
ITbm deligbtful town is called the Athens of America. It is 



&cro09 tbe ibetrtttd pot(6 ** xo; 

a town of colleges and a community of travelled and cultivated 
people, than whom I never met any more charming. I 
gave several recitals in the State of Illinois, and while therc^ 
entered into a contract with a Lyceum Bureau for three 
seasons’ recitals in America, each season to last twdve 
weeks consecutively in each year. Subsequent illness and 
my marriage, however, altered my plans, and 1 have yet 
to renew my acquaintance with the American public from 
the platform, with now a new bond of friendship, since my 
husband has represented America for twenty-five years in 
Muscat Arabia. While here^ I was introduced to Mrs. 
Milward Adams, whose husband is manager of the Chicago 
Auditorium, which is famed as beinpr one of the largest and 
most perfectly-constructed opera houses and concert halls 
in the world. Mrs. Adams has a studio at the Auditorium 
Hotel for the study of expression, voice-culture, and gesture- 
She has lectured, by the invitation of the French Government, 
in Paris, and by invitation also in St Petersburg. She is 
one of the most brilliant of American women. To her classes 
came all manner of people from all parts of the world. 
They are open, and all strangers are welcome, provided they 
are really interested. Mrs. Adams stands on a small platfnm 
in front of her audience and lectures. Then the students 
are called out, one here^ and one ther^ to read „or rrate 
various passages, to demonstrate by gesture some striking 
passage, or to give examples of inflection on various wwd& 
Mrs. Adams did me the compliment of aridng me to- 
speak to her students. I did so with much diffidence^ and 
she was to me, from that day, one of the best fripnds 1 bed 
in America. By invitation of Professor M'Coluch, 1 idao 
gave a lecture to the students in the.iieairiiful Sc^I 
Oratory at the University of Evanston, and in semel ofs 
the Universities and CoUcgw. 



ios tCbe sottl Aatftet 

In Chicago is located the settlement which is organised 
and maintained by another lady of similar name, though 
having no connection with Mrs. Milward Adams. Miss 
Adams is a well-known student of sociology. She kindly 
invited me to visit the settlement which is placed in an 
extremely poor district in this city of evil reputation. A visit 
to the settlement is a liberal education, in the making of 
citizens. Here is a workmen’s restaurant, so delightfully 
appointed, so well equipped, so cheap and so comfortable, 
that any worker or artisan drawing an ordinary wage would 
find himself better catered for than the average city man in 
London. 

The people of Chicago are most appreciative of anything 
beautiful or artistic. One of the plans in the University 
settlement, which also I visited, is to educate the young 
children to a sense of the beautiful, and to cultivate mind 
and eye to an appreciation of "whatsoever things are true, 
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, 
whatsoevw things are pur^ whatsoever things are lovely and 
of good report.” 

On a certain day in each week a lady attends in the book- 
lending room ; here are stored copies — engravings and prints, 
of all the most beautiful masterpieces in the world. Also 
pictures of flowers and plants and lovely places, all beautifully 
executed. These pictures are in cheap frames, arranged with 
ribbons or rings for hanging up, and they are lent out to the 
children for a week, at the end of which time the little ones 
bring back these treasures, and the lady generally questions 
them to see what ideas they have gathered firom the picture. 
Some of the remarks and thoughts elicited are most quaint 
and amusing. Each little bonower is then given a new 
picture^ and so they are taught to educate both eye and 
mind. One extraordinary thing about these children, wbo^ 



109 


Hcro06 tbe "Detting ponb” 

by the way, are almost all foreigners, is the fact that in the 
one generation they are transformed from wild little savages 
into bright and intelligent citizens. One of the wbrkers 
introduced me to a Polish family. The father and mother 
could speak only about six words of broken English. They 
had a tiny store of money, and were wholesome, and con* 
sidering that they were Polish, not very dirty. They them- 
selves had had no education, and belonged to the unskilled 
labouring classes. They came to America with two children, 
a boy and a girl, and two others, both boys, were born to 
them after their arrival in the United States. They lived in 
one room in a mean street in Chicago, the fiither working as 
parcels man in a “ dry goods store.” This man took advantage 
of the free education offered for his children. I saw his little 
girl at a dancing class held in the settlement, and his boys 
attended, besides the usual day school, evening classes, where 
one learnt the violin, one wood-carving, and another, having a 
perfect passion for pictures, was being taught drawing. These 
children all spoke English perfectly, with a fine Am^can 
accent, and were healthy and thriving-looking. They gave 
every promise of making admirable citizens, yet they were the 
children of immigrants who could neither read nor write. So 
much for the work of the American public schools and the 
settlements which are established in the mean places of nearly 
all large American cities. Whatever the evils rampant m 
America, and we are well acquainted with thes^ for it is 
human nature to delight to dwell on the sins and short- 
comings of our neighbours, magnificent tribute might justly 
be paid to the American charity which is practical, and I . 
might almost say gilt-edged, for it is so munificerit 
On one occasion, I was invited to give a recital for the . 
benefit of a local charity in a town about thr^ horns dislsht 
from New York. One wholesome trait about ' AmittFisah: 



i<9 TOe Som iAavk^ 

charity that when they ask entertainers or lecturers and 
other artistes to help in their philanthropic schemes, they do 
not expect them to be the donors of the entire entertainment. 
They are actuated by a sentiment of justice, and are willing to 
pay the people who thus help them to raise money. It is 
quite a matter of choice whether an entertainer cares to give 
his services for nothing, for if he is of good repute, and his 
work appreciated, he will always be able to demand a fee, 
even at a charity entertainment At one of these places, I 
found myself at the end of the journey met by a lady and her 
husband, who brought their sleigh for me. The temperature 
was below zero, and the snow lay thick on the ground. 
We were well wrapped up in furs, and I was driven to the 
outskirts of a little American town, there to find myself 
hospitably received in a small and comfortable house, a 
typical American home of a well-to-do working man. The 
recital was for the benefit of a Home for the orphan- children 
of workmen, mechanics, and others, and I was entertained by 
the Secretary of the Home. He was a man enga|(ed as an 
elecbic engineer in one of the great works of New York. All 
bis spare time was devoted to the interests of this Orphan 
Home. The little menage where I found myself installed 
gave me a delightful idea of the prosperity and comfort 
enjoyed by America’s working people. The house itself was 
the usual wooden structure common to all American towns. 
It contained only two storeys. Below was a large basement, 
in which the central furnace was kept burning day and night 
— ^the man himself attended to this. The house was warmed 
with hot air throughout, and was admirably comfortable, there 
being no draughts or chilly passages anywhere. The woman 
had clothes which in England would have been worn only by 
a lady who was accustomed to buy her thit^ from some 
gieat West End firm, and I found afterwards that, with the 



acro 09 tbe Pont** m 

help of an occasional dressmaker, she made almost all her 
own clothes. The entire cooking and house-work was 
done by the lady herself. The breakfast was served at 
a quarter to seven in the morning, and the day 1 was 
there it consisted of fish balls, such as one might get in 
England at the Carlton or Savoy; two kinds of hot bread, 
delicious coffee^ grape fruit, several kinds of preserves, and 
the inevitable buckwheat cakes with maple syrup. 1 
asked my hostess how she had managed to provide such an 
excellent meal so early in the morning without confusion 
or trouble of any kind. She took me into the kitchen 
and showed me how it was arranged with all conveni- 
ences for modern cookery and time-saving appliances, and 
she told me that she prepared most of the food the night 
before. 

We are so apt in this country to think of American 
women as people who neglect their homes and their 
husbands, while they dress up in fine clothes and go 
about spending the men’s hard-earned money. My visit, 
however, to the seventy American homes, certainly dissiiMited 
any such false impression. America is essentially a country 
of splendid housewives. On one other occasion I stayed in 
New York as guest in the house of one of the old American 
families. It was a beautifully-appointed dwelling, Ind eoor 
tained some priceless art treasures. The father was a great 
mill-owner, a man of charming and genial disposition. There 
were two girls, one extremely pretty, and they each took 
charge of the house by turns. Every morning one of the 
daughters breakfasted with her father before eight o’clock, 
though he was several times a millionaire he was always ih iris 
office by nine o’clock every morning, and did not retitohoi^; 
till six. The <koghters had travelled all over Eurtif# 
Aoderica, and bad been to Japan. They wei» botii 



it» TE6e Son! Aatftet 

educated, and their Ilousdceeping capacity was ddightful 

to see. 

One other characteristic of American fiunilies which strikes 
a stranger visiting the country in such an intimate way as I 
did, is the beautiful friendship that exists between fathers and 
their daughters. The American man seems to make real 
companions of his women-folk, and to- hold them in much 
chivalrous respect. The girls are usually given equal educa- 
tional privileges with the sons, and being a new country, there 
is no rule of entail, nor is it usual for the eldest son to inherit 
the entire property to the almost total exclusion of the younger 
sons and the daughters. A father’s property in America is 
divided on a just basis between all his children. Thus the 
country benefits, and women are at once put on a higher 
plane. 

A unique experience was the visit I paid of about three 
days to the Martha Washington Hotel in New York, which -is 
the only women’s public hotel in the world. Like all new 
venues, even in go-ahead America, it was considered soiiie- 
thing of a risk to devote an hotel entirely to the use of women. 
No men are received as guests there ; the place is always full, 
and commercially it has justified its existence. All the 
appointments and arrangements are such as one would meet 
with at a first-class general hotel in England ; in fact, there 
are a great many improvements which one does riot meet 
with in the older country. There are hair-dressing saloons, 
newspaper stalls, telegraph and telephone offices, typewriting 
offices where a stenographer may be hired by the hour or 
day, public dining and coffee-rooms, a florist’s shop, and all 
the ustud appurtenances of civilisation found in the one 
building. 

My experimental mind at once conceived the idea of a 
aimiilar hotel in London, which, if carried out on the same 



actoss tbe *' ‘bevdn0 ponb** its 

excellent plan as the Martha Washitigton, might be made to 
pay magnificently, for there is no place in the world to which 
more unattached females come than to this great dty. Besides 
the annual visitors, there are, of course, thousands of women 
working for their daily bread, for whom there is but meagre 
and most unsatisfactory accommodation in this dty. It 
would, however, require some educatioa to bring the British 
mind to realise that it would be well for her working women 
to have a place where they might obtain perfect comfort and 
independence. There is inherent in the English mind a 
deep-rooted idea that all women should he kept in a certain 
amount of tutelage. This would be extremely advantageous, 
no doubt, were they not obliged to bear so many public 
burdens, and to earn not only their own living, but often to 
support relations. 

Although I got as far as Milwaukee and Chicago in the 
west, I was not able to go further south than Baltimore in 
Maryland. Here I stayed with friends, and one of the 
daughters of the house was organising a fSte in aid of 
what she called the “ George Junior Republic.” I inquired 
as to what this might mean, and the inquiries led me to visit 
one of the most interesting places in the United States. 

This Junior Republic was formed after the model of one 
started by Mr. George, a philanthropist and student of 
sociology in New York State. The object was to take boys 
and girls, chiefly those who would have been condemned, 
perhaps to prison or punishment undey|hat we should here 
term the First Offenders’ Act, and place them in a colony 
where, to all intents and purposes, they were^ as one inight say, 
pioneers of thdr own fates. It was a marvdlous idea to give 
to these young people a feeling of responsibility and dtiaenship, 
and the plan has worked out satisfactorily. ' 

• To this Junior Republic come lawless young spirits who ate' 

■ ■ B - 



bunan beings. Every boy is expected 
of work for bis food, clothes, and 
..l^ey have a Conrt-house, in wbicb offenders 
: :afe;trid3 by tbenr peers — that is to say, the judge and jury are 
chosen from among the boys of the community, and they 
apportion and inflict the punishment. 

In the different houses where the boys and girls are located, 
there are grown-up citizens, men and women of means, who 
have given up their comfortable homes in order to live 
with and among these young people, helping them and 
training them for citizen duties. The “ Citizens ” are 
paid in the special coin of the Junior Republic, and all 
take a share in the daily work, whether in the house, 
in the fields, workshops, laundries, or any other avocation 
necessary to civilisation. 

There was a feeling of wonderful enthusiasm and com- 
radeship about the whole place. All the young dti^ns 
seemed to know each other, hs did also the adult members 
of the community, and a spirit of frendliness and prosperity 
pervaded the atmosphere. By this sensible method, boys 
and girls who might otherwise have turned out to be 
criminal, and a burden to the State, were converted into 
self-respecting and useful citizens. I was told that the effect 
on unruly characters of this government by other young 
people was wonderfully advantageous. A boy who, under 
chastisement and discipline by adult strangers, would probably 
become morose or sayage, would, if condemned to punishment 
by a committee of ^ys in the Republic, take his punishment 
.manfully, and set to work to redeem his character. There was 
not that sense of injury and desperation which is engendered 
by the administration of the adult criipinal law. 

in England, on one occasion, in conjunction with a 
girl friend, I helped to organise an entertainment on behalf of 



Hcro0» tbe ^tjetrfng g>ottb** tis 

the Police Court Home for bOTSy which is cwiied oh by a 
branch of the Church of England Temperance Sbde^. This 
Home is situated at Yiewsley. A Police Court missionary 
is often successful in preventing a first offendn bemg branded 
as a criminal with a sentence of imprisonment, by undertaking 
himself that the boy shall be kept under supervision at such 
a Home as Yiewsley. The lads there are taught all manner 
of useful crafts, and encouraged in every way to become self- 
supporting, useful, and respectable, and a more excellent work 
one can hardly find than this, which, to the benefit of all 
decent citizens, takes young hooligans and destitute lads and 
gives them a chance of becoming decent men. There is not, 
however, anywhere in England, not even at any of the colonies 
supported by the Salvation Army, anything at all analogous to 
the George Junior Republic in America. We still keep to the 
more old-fashioned methods. 

One other social reform in which America has taken the 
lead, is the separate court for the trial of child offenders. It 
was my privilege in Philadelphia to be the guest of the lady 
who was the President of the Mothers’ Congress, and was, I 
think, instrumental in gaining for the country the Government’s 
sanction for the Child Courts. I believe now the trials are not 
open to the public, and this is a very wise improvemaiL I 
was fortunate, however, in being present on the occasion when 
a boy of about twelve years was tried on a charge of theft. 
It was his first offence and the circumstances of the case were 
pathetic. The little fellow, it seemed, was a newspaper boy, 
and accustomed to'%am a small sum of money regularly. He, 
however, met with an acddent which prevented his getting 
about quickly, and he lost his work. He had two little sistets 
and a crippled mother, and it made a difference in the t^y 
home whether the boy earned money or not. Bebg led Away 
by bad example^ he fell into temptation,' and stole a 



tbe Soul Aavftet 


It6 

from a newspaper counter where a customer had put it down 
in payment of a bill. The little fellow was terribly frightened 
when he entered the court| and seemed like a hunted animal, 
casting terrified looks all round. The judge came in, and 
without ceremony or formality of any kind he sat down in a 
chair, and putting out his hand, drew the boy close to him. 
He spoke to the child long and earnestly, showed him the 
dreadful consequences of crime, and asked him whether he 
would like to disgrace his little sisters, and have people in the 
streets point to his poor old mother and say : ** That woman’s 
son is a thief in prison.” It was a wonderful lesson to see the 
wise, calm way in which this gentleman dealt with the child. 
The boy was in tears and perfectly heart-broken. He promised 
never to offend again, and instead of being sentenced to prison 
and branded as a criminal, he was made over to a settlement 
such as I have described, where the authorities guaranteed 
his good behaviour. The case of the mother and sisters was 
inquired into and relief was afforded them. Thu| one family 
was saved from disgrace and criminality. ^ 

During the time of my visit to Baltimore, the weather was 
extremely cold, indeed the temperature was often below zero ; 
but I gave several recitals in the city, and having an introduc- 
tion from a friend of the President’s I went to Washington to 
see Mr. Roosevelt Mr. Shaffer, who had entertained Mr. 
Roosevelt in Evanston, and who was one of the most kindly 
friends I had made in America, had made an appointment 
through Mr. Loeb, the President’s secretary, for me to be 
received at the White House. Washington was white with 
snow when 1 presented myself at the President’s residence, 
and there were waiting in the public hall several dozens of 
people, besides newspaper men, Senators from distant states, 
and various ladies who were bent on seeing the President for 
some purpose or another. The collection of females impressed 



2lcro00 tbe pond” 


"7 


me most. They were nearly all old, and rather unattractiTe 
— ^good people, no doubt — who were waiting to make the 
President’s life a burden to him by demanding the instant 
suppression, say, of corsets, or false hair, or patent medicine^ 
or some such reform as they panted after. Thqr all seemed 
weighed with enormous responsibilities, and it taxed my 
chaperon’s patience and temper to keep them from question- 
ing me with particular minuteness as to all my affairs. 
Presently one of the President’s secretaries came out, and 
announced that Mr. Boosevelt would be glad to see me. I 
had purposely put on a very pretty dress, and I went in with 
some misgiving, for I had no business with the President; but 
when I entered he received me with a cordial lumd-shake^ and 
said he was very pleased to see me. My dress seemed to 
please him, and when I apologised for taking up his time, not 
having the excuse of real business, he smiled, and said he was 
very glad of a little break. 

The President is a fine, strongly-built man, with a rough- 
hewn, honest face, and a very strong one too. Nobody who 
has ever seen Mr. Roosevelt could feel anything but the most 
cordial admiration and respect for him. He is so simple and 
straightforward in his manner, so kindly and so unaffected. 
His whole appearance gives one the impression of strength 
and wholesomenes^ both of body and mind. I heard some, 
delightful stories of the President’s home-lif^ and bow he is 
adored by his children. The White House is an unpreten- 
tious places rather like a good country house. There ate 
several beautiful apartments in it, all tastefully but very simply 
furnished ; there is no ostentation or display. One of the 
most interesting personages on the White House staff whom I 
saw was an old attendant who had been a servant of the 
former Presidents McKinley and Qevdand. Hebad humy 
amusing stories to tell of the receptions and other fuacdpns 



tih TCIte SOtlil 

held in the White House. He gave us the information that 
Jilrs. Cleveland’s receptions were the most crowded that had 
eva taken place there, and amusingly described how the 
people had to be push^ and pulled along in order that the 
crowds might be passed through quickly enough on reception 
evenings. 

One characteristic that must strike every visitor to America 
is the extreme courtesy extended to all strangers by 
public officials. At every place — not only at Washington, 
but at every other city that I visited— the officials were ex- 
ceedingly considerate and helpful, and most of them went 
out of their way to show me courtesy, and help me to 
understand and enjoy sight-seeing in their cities. 

The American newspapers are the bewilderment and 
despair of all new-comers. I remember one morning 
asking for a paper at a public stall, and being handed over 
a great pile of printed matter and pictorial advertisement, I 
explained carefully that I wanted only one paper — I seemed 
to have been presented with about three dozen — but the «man 
informed me that it all was only one Sunday paper, and I had 
the benefit of it for five cents. Of course one has to live in a 
country for a little while before knowing exactly what papers 
one is likely to read with pleasure and with confidence. I 
had necessarily a good deal to do with American journalists, 
although I avoided as much as possible interviews and 
paragraphs in the papers, because I wished to reserve these 
things until 1 had a better acqiuuntance with the country, and 
was visiting it for a longier period in a public way. However, 
the interviewers haunted the hotels and houses where I 
stayed, and it was very difficult to avoid them. I found them 
pleasant enough, and if they asked me any question I did 
not wish to answer, I merely said 1 did not consider it a 
subject that would interest the public. Of course I suffered, 



acro 09 tl>e ** ‘bevtfnd ponb ” 1 19 

like every visitor to the States, by having things imputed to 
me which I was not responsible for at all. My lectures and 
speeches were often reported not quite correctly. On one 
occasion, in a Western States the papers came out with an 
enormous head-line^ saying that I considered the American 
women neither beautiful nor clever. I had never, of course, 
said anything of the kind. What I had said was, that I had 
met as beautiful women in England, and certainly just as 
clever ones as I had met in America, which was perfectly 
true. 

I was entertained by some of the leading women’s cluhs, 
and had an opportunity of noting the differences of social life 
in America and in this country. In America the women’s 
clubs are all more or less what we should call in this country 
societies or associations. Each club is organised and main- 
tained, not for specific social purposes, as most of the clubs in 
England are, but with some definite philanthropic or more 
serious object in view, and in these clubs are bom most of 
the ideas which bear fruit in the shape of social reforms. 
For instance, the Consumers’ League^ which is a large 
organisation composed of women of every grade of society, 
was begun in one of the women’s clubs, and it was in a club 
in Chicago that I first heard an account of its work. The 
members bind themselves to buy no articles which are manu- 
factured under sweated conditions, and houses where work is 
done are under supervision, and are granted' special licenses 
for the purpose. They also bind themselves not to shop after 
certain hours, and to abstain from purchasing anything from 
shops which employ sweated labour. It need hiudly be 
pointed out what a boon sudr an organisation is, and what 
splendid fruit its work has born& Most of the dubs meet at 
the grtot hotels or public buildings. They give lund(ieoti| dr 
dinners, to which strangers ate invited, In Philadelj^|ua 



130 Ube Soul /Savftet 

New Centuiy Women’s Club has a fine building of its own, 
and in Chicago the Athletic Club, where I gave a recital in 
aid of one of the hospitals, is a splendid building. These 
dubs are not used only for social purposes, as we use our 
dubs in England. 

In New York and the "East” I was begged not to ex- 
press my admiration for the “West.” Chicago was not to 
be mentioned in polite sodetyi As a matter of fact, I 
enjoyed the “West” extremely, and admired the bright, 
kindly “Westerners.” I was obliged to explain, in self- 
defence^ that to a Far Easterner such as myself, there was 
no perceptible difierence in people who lived^ in a town one 
hundred years old and those who lived in one two hundred 
years old. As to American accents — New York folk pride 
themsdves on their voices and tones, and sneer at “ Western ” 
people. To a stranger, however, the difference in accents 
is hardly noticeable. 

All states are alike in one thing, and that is, the kindly 
hospitality shown to visitors. American men are perhaps 
the most gallant on earth. Their ideal of women is' so 
high that they are not afraid to fall in love with a girl at 
first sight and propose to her “right away.” Being only a 
girl myself, I simply loved all the delightful attentions that 
were shown me. I wished I could have brought home some 
of the wondrous Beauty Roses with which I was welcomed 
in most of the places where I visited. We have nothing like 
them in England. The “candies,” too, were in a girl’s par- 
lance “dreams.” Paris itself can show none better. Ameri- 
cans are extremely fond of sweets and bombard their guests 
with them, which is really a most pleasant habit 

I returned to New York in order to take my passage for 
England, as I had engagements to fulfil in this country. It 
'so happened, however, that instead of being able to return 



acro00 tbe ** t)evdnd |^on^ ” lat 

by the line which had brought me out, I was obliged 
to take a boat of another line in order to fulfil a last 
engagement in New York and keep my first one of the 
season in this country. It was a fearfully cold day, and 
ice lay thick in the streets. The cabman had to get off 
the box and lead the horse step by step. Every now 
and then the unfortunate animal seemed to slip back three 
or foiur steps, and I began to despair of ever reaching my 
boat. However, encouraged by a large bribe, the cabby did 
manage to get me to tbe wharf in time. I found several 
friends on board waiting for me, and my cabin was sweet 
with flowers. There were numbers of parcels containing 
parting gifts which had been sent to me by thoughtful 
friends. We started fairly enough, and the next day we 
were able to sit out on deck. The third day, however, 
some of the machinery seemed to have gone wrong, and we 
had to slow down. However, we eventually got to Plymouth, 
and those passengers who had decided to take rail there 
were indeed fortunate, though at the time, when watching, 
them embark in fearfully swaying boats in a heavy sea, 
we congratulated ourselves that we were going to land at 
a more convenient harbour. Before putting into South- 
ampton, we had to land some passengers and mails at 
Cherbourg. About three o’clock in the morning, we were 
awakbned by a dreadful shock to the vessel, which nearly 
flung us out of our berths. All the furniture in the cabins 
rattled, and the trunks broke away and rolled about on the 
floors. I waited for a few minutes to see if there would be 
any fresh shocks or sign of confusion. I heard passing and 
repassmg of people, and went to my cabin door to inquire 
the reason of the excitement. A steward fiu:etiously informed 
me thIEt -the captain had got tired of the sea-voyage and 
was taking) an overland route. It appears that through some 



12a XCbe Sonl Aarltet 

fault of the pilot, or through some mismanagement, we had 
touched the rocks ofif Cherbourg, and a large hole was stove 
in the ship, but we were able to proceed very slowly towards 
Southampton. Near the Isle of Wight, we found ourselves 
in a somewhat thick fog, and as we were at lunch, another 
dreadful shock caused us to rise hastily from the table and 
hurry on deck. An extraordinary sight met our eyes: our 
boat had collided with a troopship which was leaving 
Southampton. Both vessels of course backed apart j there 
was an awful splintering of wood, and fearful, jarring sounds, 
and we were afforded a view of the interiors of some of the 
cabins of the unfortunate vessel we had run into. A great 
spike on our boat brought away a portmanteau from one of 
the cabins. We all thought, of course, that the end of the 
vessel had come, and indeed for a few minutes it was feared 
that the troopship would jo down. Fortunately, however, the 
watertight and other compartments saved the vessel, and she 
was able to put back slowly into dock. We did not arrive 
at Southampton till late that afternoon, having beenvdue 
in the morning. Naturally, all waiting friends had grown 
extremely anxious, and we were glad enough to put foot 
on the shores of dear old England again. 

A friend met me and brought, as a welcome, a big bunch 
of primroses. The sight and sweet, tender perfume of them 
touched me as no foreign sight had done. It was good to be 



CHAPTER VII 

LITTLE SISTER SORROW 

In connection with my American experienceSi I might here 
tell a little story of two citizens of the great Republic 1 met 
under curious circumstances in London. 

1 had been making a lecturing tour in some of the great 
Provincial cities^ and on my way home had occasion to change 
my train and take the underground at Cannon Street. While 
waiting, I noticed an old lady who^as wandering somewhat 
close to the edge of the platform. She was small and a littl 
bent, and wore a neat, tiny black bonnet and a^very trim 
black dress with a little fur cape. I began speculating 
somewhat vaguely as to her history and circumstances, as 
one does when waiting idly about among streams of humanity 
which come and go. Suddenly, with a shrill shriek, a 
train came in, and the old lady either lost her balance or 
was startled into a false step, and almost fell over the platform. 
I was just able to grab her cloak and pull her back; she 
tumbled down, and in doing so, hurt her ankle. With a 
little difficulty I managed to help her up and support her to 
the waiting-room, where she sank into a chair as if very fisdnt 
and tired 

After a little time I asked her whether she would like me to 
accompany her part of the way home. She told me she was 
waiting for a frimid, but that she must have missed her fioe 

she had been due two hours aga She therefore made up 

133 



124 


Vbe SottI Aarftet 


her mind to return home, and I found that her way lay 
partly with miue if we went by ’bus; Before proceeding on 
our journey, however, we went to one of the little tea shops 
in a street near by the station, and as we had some refresh- 
ment the dear old lady told me something of her life. I 
happened to say that I had been attending a Social Service 
Convention in Birmingham. She put out her hands and took 
both of min^ and with tears in her eyes, prayed that God 
would bless every effort made to check drink and gambling — 
the fearful evils which had wrecked so many lives. Something 
in her manner struck me that there was a personal reason for 
her earnestness, and she so attracted me that I travelled with 
her from Cannon Street about two miles north. She told me 
that her gcodman had a little boot store, and that they 
prospered fairly well, but when she named the locality I 
wondered how anyone so respectable, with such sweet and 
refined speech, had come out of a place of such evil repute, 
for I knew the street she mentioned to be one of the worst 
in London. I asked her if there was any particular treason 
for her having chosen that locality, and told her that I myself 
was very keenly interested in the lives of the outcast and 
poor. She said very little, but before parting she asked if 
I would come some day to see her, and I gladly promised to 
do so. She wrote her address in my pocket-book, and on 
looking at the writing I knew its characteristics. It was the 
polished, rather ornate writing of an old-fashioned American 
lady, the fine hair-strokes with the full pen dashes being 
always recognisable in this special school of caligraphy. I 
have never seen writing resembling this done by any except 
the older generation of American ladies. 

I began punling in my mind as to who and what my 
charming old fnend could b^ for all the while she had been 
^leaking, I had noticed something unusually quaint and 



Xfttle Sistev Sorrow 


«*5 

unfamiliar in her accent She was not a formgner, so far as 
I could tell by the accent, nor an American, yet she certainly 
was not altogether English, but how to place the accent 
exactly I could not tell. It was several months after this 
little adventure before I found time to renew the acquaint- 
ance, and then one day I sent a post-card to the address she 
had given me, and there came back a neat little note asking 
me to meet the writer at a certain free library. Had it not 
been for the spice of adventure in my nature, I hardly think I 
should have ventured, for there seemed something odd in the 
invitation, but of course I knew that there could be no evil 
designs on m^ as a public library is not a place anyone 
would choose for malpractices of any kind. I presented 
myself at the appointed hour, and there was my old lady 
waiting. After a cordial hand-clasp she drew me out into 
the hall. 

“We must not talk in the reading-room,” she said, “for 
fear of disturbing the people, but I wanted to explain to you, 
my dear, that had I not been attracted by your interests in 
our brothers and sisters who suffer, I would not have asked 
you to come to-day. I do not think it right to take you to 
my place without warning you that it is not a choice or 
savoury locality.” 

I assured the old lady that I had already been aware of 
that fac^ and added that 1 should much enjoy seeing her 
home. 

“Well,” she said, “1 shall be glad to take you there 
myself.” 

It was an autumn evening, and a cold mist was gathering 
round the city. Never shall I forget the journey there^ 
through dark and narrow streets^- through miles of hideous 
brick buildings of the same form and description which go to 
make up the poorer streets of London. Part of the way we 



m Aarltet 


MOS 

went by omnibus, and part we had to walk. Presently we 
turned up a street more unsavoury and narrow and ugly- 
looking than the rest, and after walking between rows of 
narrow, grim-looking houses, we at last tamed into a little 
courtyard into which several buildings opened. We crossed 
this and ascended some rickety stairs, and presently my 
companion opened a door on the third landing and we 
entered a cosy little room. There was about it an atmosphere 
of home ; the walls were washed with a pretty blue paint, and 
were decorated with pictures in neat dark frames, which made 
a pretty effect At the fire was sitting an old man, and he 
rose as we entered. The little lady said : 

“John, this is the young lady I spoke to you of, who saved 
me from falling under the train.” 

He came forward and grasped my hand warmly. 

“You are very welcome” he said ; “but I hope Elizabeth 
told you where you would find yourself, for it would not be 
fair to bring strangers down here.” 

1 assured him I was very pleased to come, and wasrin no 
way disturbed by the strangeness of my surroundings. 

Away bustled the old lady, and in a few minutes she had 
laid a white cloth on the table and prepared a charming little 
tea. We all sat down, and for an hour or more we conversed 
on various subjects, and I gathered that my new friends had 
come originally from America. It was certainly not a part of 
the world where I had expected to find citizens of the great 
Republic, and it was my introduction to one of the strangest 
experiences that have befallen me in my life. It was the 
banning of many visits which I paid to that locality. For 
three years I constantly visited these people^ and was intro- 
duced by them to some of the strangest specimens of humanity. 
The little home exists no longer, so that the telling of this 
story can wound no tender hearts nor violate any confidence. 



Xfttle Sister Sotvow 137 

Had my old lady been alive I would have kept silence even 
now, but the last link that bound me to her in friendship was 
severed when I stood in a corner of one of those enormous 
cemeteries where thousands of London’s people go to res^ 
trying to coax from a little mould of ^th a draggle-tailed, 
rough-looking girl who had fallen across it, weeping her heart 
out. In answer to my pleading that she should come away, 
the girl said indignantly : 

Don’t you think she’s worth a few tears? There ain’t 
anyone likely to take her place.” 

The story of this old couple makes one of the romances of 
this strange city of London. They had been people of some 
consequence and a good deal of wealth in Boston, and they 
had one son, who was to them as the apple of their eye. This 
lad was a graduate of Yale^ he had been in Heidelberg and had 
spent two years at Oxford. He had made the grand tour, and 
finally returned to Boston to take his place as partner in his 
father’s business. While there he fell in love with the daughter 
of one of the leading citizens, a girl who eventually would 
inherit several million dollars. The young man had no 
expectation of enormous wealth, although he would be com- 
fortably enough provided for. But the girl’s parents considered 
that their wealth was enough to purchase a title for their 
daughter, and they looked unfavourably on the young couple’s 
fondness for each other. By-and-by the girl went to Europe and 
one day, while at breakfast, the young man gave an exclanur 
tion of pain, and the mother, looking up, saw that the paper 
he had been reading had dropped from his hand, and he had 
fallen back in bis chair almost fainting. The paper contained 
an account of the young lady’s engagement to an English peer, 
and described her fiancfs ancestral home and the splendid 
prospects thatawmted her. Her jilted lover left homel and 
being a lad of a weak character, he allowed despair to j^tey bd 



taS 


TCbe Soni Aarftet 


him, and took to drink and cards. Nothing that the love of 
his parents could devise was successful in inducing him to 
return to normal ways, and at last when the crash came, it 
was found that he had pledged his father’s credit to the hilt, 
and foiged the name of a prominent man in Boston. He was 
tried and sent to prison. The long years of discipline seemed 
to strengthen his character, and he returned to his faithful 
parents assuring them of his determination to redeem the past. 

He went, followed by many prayers, to one of the Southern 
States, and lost himself in one of those great cities whose 
very vastness and remoteness has enabled many a man 
before and since to bury his past and begin life again with 
new hope. The young man prospered wonderfully, and 
became a prominent citizen in the place he had chosen for 
his reincarnation. All went well till the devil sent there one 
winter a party of Boston society people on a pleasure trip. 
At a ball that was given in the city the young man met a lady 
who had known him and his parents in Boston. His heart 
turned to ice within him. She appeared friendly enough, and 
he led her aside and made an appeal to her chivalry, begging 
that she would forget she had ever met him before. 

One might have supposed that a Christian gentlewoman in 
the nineteenth century would have possessed decency enough 
to regard such a request as sacred. She knew the history of 
the cas^ she plied the man with impertinent question^ and 
the poor wretch supplied her with all the information she 
asked for with a sympathetic air. Two days after, the whole 
town was in possession of the man’s history, and every door 
was closed to him. He returned to his parents at Boston. I 
heard the story from his mother long years after, in that little 
room in a mean street in London, and even then my heart 
froze as I seemed to see the awfiil agony those three 
people had endured. The mother and the father striving to 



Xfttle Sister Sorrow 


129 


find some means whereby their son could again begin life, 
and his utter despair and determination to end it all. This 
is by no means a singular tragedy, resulting from that hateful 
love of scandal and gossip, which, alas ! even gentlewomen 
cannot forbear to indulge in. This hateful and sordid 
passion for evil-speaking has ruined many a life. The lad’s 
parents spent awful nights of waiting, with a burning horror 
at heart, listening for the footsteps mounting the stairs, and 
wondering at what dread hour the report of a pistol and the 
dull thud of a falling body might tell of the end of the 
tragedy. The young fellow waited about for a couple of 
weeks. His mother, facing the inevitable, had pleaded by all 
the love she bore him, that if he must make an end, it should 
be where they might care for him after. When it came she 
was prepared, and after all was over they sold their small 
possessions and left their native country for ever, to settle in 
London, where they sought, if possible, to drown their grief 
amid new surroundings and other scenes. 

For the love they bore this unfortunate son of theirs, the 
old lady and her husband determined that they would spend 
their lives for other lads who had been tempted, and had 
fallen as he had done. By degrees they came to know 
London exceedingly well, and step by step they found them- 
selves in possession of the confidence of some of the most 
dreadful characters about their neighbourhood. The better 
to serve these people, they took a small shop in the very 
midst of this slum; and there the old man plied his trade as a 
shoemaker, while his wife helped him by keeping the house. 
Their home was the rendezvous of the outcast and criminal in 
the district. Below their living-rooms, opening on to the 
courtyard, was the tiny shop, and behind that again was a 
large room with a sunken floor, which had doubtless at some 
time been used as a sort of store-place or small warehouse. 



13 ® 


TTbe Soul Atarftet 

Here were arranged some rough benches and tables, and 
nightly there was gathered into this room a strange medley of 
humanity. The old lady provided a cup of tea and slice of 
cake for each person, and the old man talked to the strange 
guests or read them interesting topical articles from the papers 
that might command their interest. 

It was the most extraordinary gathering. There were 
thieves and pick-pockets, girls and women associated with 
them, violent anarchists, and all those wild and desperate 
characters who hide themselves like beasts by day, and 
emerge in the darkness from their lairs. 

It was a usual custom when the old lady and her husband 
had need to walk about in the neighbourhood at night, that 
some one or two of the strange company formed a bodyguard 
for them. 

Here I heard discussed plans for the annihilation of the 
rich, murderous diatribes, and gloomy remarks made by men 
whom crime and want had driven to desperation. It seemed 
to me that we trod on a volcano when we placed ourselves 
within the power of these dreadful people ; but never once^ 
by manner or speech, did anyone of them betray anything 
but respect and . affection for the two old people who had come 
to dwell among them. I asked my two friends how it was 
that they could keep silence amid the fearful vapourings of 
these dreadful men, and look kindly upon women degraded 
out of all semblance of humanity. They explained to me 
that the little back room in the stuffy courtyard was, ia their 
ofunioh, a sort of safety-valve, and that where men and 
women were able to talk and relieve themselves of their 
grievances, and find sympathy and kindness, there was less 
likdihood of a violent explosion. There was one girl who 
came with unfailing regularity to these meetings. She was 
called *'Saucy Poll," and the old lady gave me an outline of 



Xittle Stotev Sottow ist 

ber history. She was "in with ” some of the worst characters 
among the thieves, and rather gloried in being unafraid of the 
police. One peculiar characteristic this girl had astonished 
us. Outcast herself, and owing nothing to society, she yet 
had a most ronuuitic attachment to the Queen and the 
" Prince of Wiles,” as she called him ; the reason of this 
loyalty I was never able to fathom. She was, however, on 
one occasion, through the influence of the old lady, instru- 
mental in saving the life of the Prince of Wales, or at any rate 
in frustrating an attempt on his life. The Prince of Wales, 
now our King, was going to dine one night at a mansion in 
Park Lane. Great preparations had been made for this dinner, 
and a secret plot had been formed by some red-handed 
anarchists to destroy him with a bomb as he entered, or as he 
left the house. The attempts on Royalty are so infrequent in 
this country, and our own sovereigns go about with such 
freedom among their people, that a diabolical plan of this sort 
would be far more likely of success than one conceived 
against a foreign potentate. By some means. Saucy Poll had 
acquainted herself with the whole plan, though the con- 
spirators used the utmost secrecy, and naturally such a hideous 
scheme was not even hinted at in the little meeting-room. 
One morning about three o’clock, before the dawn broke the 
darkness. Saucy Poll came to the old lady in an almost 
hysterical condition. The girl was so agitated and so teirifi(4 
that it was a long time before she could be got to speak of 
the matter that troubled her. Eventually, however, she told 
the old lady of the plan that had been formed to throw a bomb 
at the Prince of Wales, and then came that trial of nerves ai^ 
patience which those endure who deal with characters at 
enmity with all mankind. 

There was not enough definite evidence 'bf the fdbt to 
communicate to the police, and indeed Saucy Poll had 



XTbe Sonl Aarftet 


T3> 

made the confession on the absolute understanding that her 
confidence was not to-be violated, as it meant destruction for 
her. All through the cold, silent hours till daybreak those 
two dear old people sat up, praying and thinking over the 
matter, and at length they resolved on a wonderful 
expedient. 

The next evening, which was the evening before that on 
which the ruffians had planned the murder, they announced 
that it was the old man’s birthday, and they arranged a 
particular feast in the little meeting-room. They wrote out a 
letter purporting to come from some friend in a remote 
locality, who gave a description of an attempt that had been 
made on the life of the Queen, and they relied on the sentiment 
and romance which they might be able to awaken, to rouse 
the men and women to such a pitch of indignation and 
horror that the mad-brained conspirators would be driven to 
abandon their awful project. They spared nothing to. make 
the feast acceptable to the guests. Warmth, and plenty of 
food were provided. The old gentleman’s health had been 
drunk, and then out came the letter. My old lady told me 
that she sat there outwardly smiling, while every nerve in her 
body was strung to breaking-point, and her heart beat so hard 
that she was sure everyone in the room must hear its thumps. 
While her eyes sought the faces of the company, and her ears 
drank in the words which her husband was reading, her 
silent lips were praying that God might] speed their purpose 
and give success to their plans. As the old gentleman read 
the story of contemplated crime, painting with dramatic 
emphasis the whole hideous outline, the feeling among the 
guests grew stronger and stronger. Hisses and curses burst 
from them, and at last when he reached the point where the 
two men stood in the shadow of the house ready to cast the 
destroying instrument, the company leaped to their feet with 



Xtttle Sister Sorrow 133 

torrents of abuse and rage. The plan had been successful. 
Both conspirators were present ; one with white face and 
cursing lips, but none of the company save Poll and the two 
old people had the remotest idea of their terror and confusion, 
To cover their discomfiture and avoid suspicion they also 
joined in the hissing and cursing of the supposed anarchists. 

“ If we could ketch ’em,” said one of the men, speaking for 
the rest, ** we’d roast ’em by degrees, and give ’em time to see 
how it felt to be burnt up.” 

All sorts of horrible tortures were devised for the murderers. 
After a while the storm grew quieter, and the old gentleman 
was able to read them a little homely lesson on the absolute 
futility of murdering a king in order to bring about reforms. 
Criminal and vile as these people were, yet something in their 
distorted and ugly natures had responded to sympathy and 
reason. 

Many a time since then I have wondered how many 
devoted lives, such as these I have told of, are responsible 
for the peace that prevails in this seething and awful city. 
Sometimes I think that if the rich and noble at their banquets 
and feasts could only be translated to some of the hideous 
slums of London, a terrible fear would overtake them, for 
surely the thought would come to them that such places must 
be the breeding-places of anarchy and crime and bloodshed. 
Winter after winter, when the thousands of unemployed parade 
the streets, and day by day little children and feeble old 
people die of hunger and cold — and these things really 
happen : it is not fancy talk — those who have probed beneath 
the surface, who have lived and starved with just such 
creatures as these, wonder in their hearts how long the 
endurance will last, and what awful outcome will some day 
be the result of the fearful economic condition prevailing in 
the great towns of Britain. 



CHAPTER VIII 


GILDING THE GUTTER — MY EXPERIENCES OF COSTER LIFE 

Having become acquainted with some aspects of life among 
the poor, I resolved on making a trial of life among the 
costers. 

Tp the unitiated, it may come as a surprise to hear that 
among the poor and labouring classes of our great cities 
there are as many differences in mode and manners, as many 
nice distinctions of class, as there are among the higher grades 
of society. A coster girl would not associate on equal terms 
with a street pedlar any more than the squire’s wife with the 
village postmistress. Between the factory girl and domestic 
servant there is as much mutual contempt as between a belle 
of New York and a Chicago heiress. 

It took weeks of working and planning before I could 
translate myself into a bonS-fide coster girl. 

Fortunately, my familiarity with the many Girls’ Clubs in 
the poor districts of London gave me an insight into the 
minds and lives of the coster girls^ and I was able to profess 
some knowledge of the life before I entered the ranks as a 
worker. 

It is in no wise easy to sUp ” into a new life. Among the 

people;” as we term the labouring and poor classes, an out- 
sider is very quickly recognised. I found, however, that my 
foreign appearance really helped me, for as I dealt mostly 
with women and girls, they made their own stories about me. 

134 



135 


omim tbe Gutter 

By maintaining a discreet silence, I managed to get through. 
Being small and young-looking too, helped me. I get tired 
very quickly and show it, and poor Mr. C., who was nearly 
always with me, got the rough side of several “ gentle ” tongues 
for ill-treating me. It helped me wonderfully to have a 
man so big and burly, and such a splendid Cockney actor, to 
assume command of me. Together we were able to do what 
one alone could never have accomplished. 

I wished to get right in among the costers and be one with 
them. There were several aspects of the life I desired to 
see, and we set out to learn the best localities for our pur- 
pose. I dared not go to any neighbourhood where I was 
known. The members of the Girls’ Club, by whom I was called 
the ^'Little Princess,” would have thought it the most splendid 
joke ever conceived to see me impersonate a coster girl, and 
I would have been mobbed by a good-humoured but em- 
barrassing crowd. It is one of the extraordinary sights of 
a crowded slum to see a great rabble collect as if by 
magic. I did not care to risk this action, so Mr. C. enlisted 
the aid of a woman in Covent Garden, who introduced us 
to a likely and safe spot where we could sell things. 

It was a wet day when we started, and the potted plants 
and ferns we had bought were dreadfully damp and uncom- 
fortable to hold. Mr. C. went ofif to lean against a wall and 
smoke, and I stood with two pots in my hand. It was so 
cold and miserable that I almost determined to give up for 
that day, when I heard a loud but cheery voice say : 

^*Now then, missusi 'igher up; you’re right on my 
pitch.” 

The owner of the voice was a big, strong, red-faced girl, who 
<vas pushing, unassisted, a hand-barrow heavily laden with 
potatoes and cabbages. 

I moved up tbe street a little way, and the girl wiped her 



TCbe SonI Asvftet 

fiwe on her coarse white apron and gave me a good-humoured 
nod. 

"Lorlumme, that ain’t ’arf *eavy/’ she said, in answer to 
my inquiry as to whether it was a bad load. She swiftly set 
herself to dressing her stall by the kerb, and when finished 
she turned to me with ’’’Ow’s the gime — ’ad any luck, 
missus?” 

“ Non^” I answered. 

*' Ah 1 wet days same as this is rough luck on the likes of 
os. I wouldn’t ’ave come out at all to-day only my old man 
is down with luinbager or something, and the doctors said it 
might settle 'im to come out.” 

I drew near and ventured to sympathise. 

“ It won’t be much good trying to-day, but I wants to get 
enough for the roast and boiled to-morrow. I do think one 
ought to keep Sundays somehow Christian-like.” 

She was very friendly, and inquired where I came from. 

I pointed over my shoulder to Mr. C and said: 
brought me. I’m a stranger to these parts.” . ^ 

“ Is yer foreign ? ” she asked. 

"Not by half,” I said. "One can’t help one’s birth, but 
one can help one’s heart.” 

This sentiment pleased her extremely. Presently she asked 
me to mind her stall a minute, while she went and had a 
dnnk. 

While she was gone I sold two cabbages, and she was so 
gratified at my smartness when she returned, that I ventured 
to ask her to let me help her. 

"Does he knock yer about?” she inquired, referring to 
Mr. C. 

“ Not much ; but it would be a long way better for me to be 
earning a few coppers.” 

" Well, if yer ain’t particular about leaving him for a bit^ 




MY YOUNGEST CUSTOMER. 



OLD WtjMAN I’lCKlNG OAKUM IN A CASUAL WAKD. 


Ollbtm tbe Gutter 137 

ni let yer 'elp me while my old man’s ill, and find ycr a bed 
with the girl, a cousin of Bill’s, who lives near by.” 

. I ran across and told Mr. C. the joyful news of my 
apprenticeship, and he said he would look out for a room 
in the same street, so as to be able to reach me at any 
moment, if necessary. 

So began my first real taste of life as a coster girl. 

Mrs. Bolter was my friend’s name, but she was known as 
Bess. She took me home with her that night, and I helped 
her to get a “ bite.” 

You’re a ’andy sort of gal,” she said, when I joined her 
by the fire, after washing up the plates we had used at our 
meal. 

The room she lived in was of a fair size, and had a big 
window, which, however, was shut. They lived, cooked, and 
ate their meals and slept all in this one room ; fortunately 
Bess had no children. The husband was, I could see, far 
gone in consumption. I nearly gave myself away by advocat- 
ing more air. The one thing the poor will not tolerate in 
their dwelling-rooms is fresh air. Poor Bill was a nice sort of 
fellow, and the two were devoted to each other. 

'*Your bloke ain’t much class?” he asked me sym- 
pathetically. 

Bess had evidently told him of Mr. C. I nearly laughed, 
but managed to nod my head disconsolately. 

Never mind,” said Bill; "you’ll be all right along of 
Bess.” 

About eleven that night Sal came in, and I was introduced 
to the girl with whom I was to make my home for some time. 
Sal was a merry girl, with an enormous fringe and nice eyes. 
She had a huge mouth, and laughed most of the time. I 
began nodding, and Bess packed us off with an injunction to 
be spry in the morning. 



138 TTDe Soul Aarftet 

Sal grabbed my arm and dragged me down the steep stairs 
into the street. I saw Mr- C. hanging about, and felt quite 
happy. 

Sal’s room was up a narrow neighbouring alley, in a house 
let out to thirty-seven lodgers. Entering, the air felt thick 
and stuffy, and 1 was glad to find Sal’s room was a tiny attic 
right at the top. She paid half-a-crown a week for it. 

The bed was unmade, the window shut, of course, and 
ashes filled the grate. From one corner Sal pulled out an 
iron chair-bed j it did not look inviting, but fortunately, 1 
found it clean, so I forgave the hardness. I was awake 
practically all that night, and had the fire lighted before 
Sal woke. 

I took care to shut the window, which I had opened while 
she slept. At four o’clock I woke my companion. She 
sprang up and scrambled into her clothes without troubling 
to wash, though there was a basin and a jug of water in the 
little stand in the room. We breakfasted by the firelight on 
bread and 'coffee without milk. I always kept som^ meat 
lozenges and Flasmon biscuits in my pocket, and so managed 
to escape with very small quantities of the food taken by the 
people with whom I lived. 

I have never met a coster girl or a factory girl who 
could cook decently : their life does not foster housewifely 
instincts. 

Sal and I were at Covent Garden Market by five in the 
morning. There we encountered Bess. We bought the 
necessary stock of fresh vegetables to add to those we already 
had — Bess had deposited her unsold stock under her bed the 
night before. Bess and I then started back to our pitch. 
Sal, who was a flower-girl, went off elsewhere on her own business. 
Bess gave me a shilling a day for helping her. For this sum 
I helped to push her barrow and took her place at the stall 



<^flMnd tt>e dnttet 139 

virhen she ran in to look after Bill. I cooked the supper and 
washed the plates, and seeing how ill Bill was, I tried to do a 
little amateur nursing, and showed Bess how to make one or 
two simple things for him. Once having made a halfpenny 
worth of sago into a pudding, with a tiny stick of cinnamon in 
it, 1 prepared to offer it to Bill, Bess laughed and said: ** Lor, 
what’s the gal after ? Why, bless me ’art, Bill won’t swallow 
that mess.” But Bill did, and asked for more. 

It was a hard life enough, up at four each morning, to bed 
never before eleven, the long walks to the market, and the 
standing by that blessed barrow in rain and shine. Sometimes 
we took as much as eight and ten shillings in a day, at other 
times not more than four or five. But I wished now to find 
a new field for investigation, so one day, by a preconcerted 
plan, Mr. C. arrived and made a sort of row and ordered me 
to come off. I was sorry to leave Bess, but I was getting 
worn out. After about a month, Mr. C. and I went to look 
up a woman we had made friends with at Coven t Garden. 
She was also a coster woman, but lived in quite another 
district. She was out when we went, but we found her at the 
nearest “pub,” and getting into friendly conversation there, 
Mr. C. told her “the missus ’ad a aunt who was kind of 
heiress in her way, poor dear, but had gone and died and 
left her niece ^^ 5 .” With this he suggested that I should set 
up costering in “'slap-up style,’ so that a poor, ’ard-working 
man could get a bit of peace and rest” The woman quite 
sympathised with this laudable desire, and gave us advice 
very readily. 

It was arranged that I should meet her on the following 
Monday, which is the slackest day in the week for costers. The 
woman promised to take me to a place where I could hire a 
barrow of my own. On the following Monday morning she 
was waiting for me in her own house as she had promised. Her 



140 


TTbe Soul Autftet 


home was part of a small house in a narrow court off the 
Fulham Road. In front of the house, as in front of most of the 
others, were baskets, stalls, boards, and barrows. The majority 
of people occupying the houses were of the costermonger 
class. 

“ This is the gal I was telling yer about, ’Enery.” 

This was my introduction to my coster friend’s husband. 
He, a thick-set, short-haired man, w|s sitting in his shirt- 
sleeves smoking by the fire. 

The room in which the introduction took place was not 
much larger than a good-sized cupboard. It contained a bed, 
a deal tables a sack that served as a hearth-rug, and another 
as a door-mat. Some crockery and pots and pans were also 
visible, but what was most in evidence in the room was the 
mingled odour of smoke and vegetables. In one comer were 
piled sacks of potatoes j in another, half-a-dozen baskets of 
green stuff. Under the table, under the chairs, even under 
the bed, I noticed baskets containing fruit and vegetables. 
My friend’s bed and living-room was also her store-rbom. 
This unfortunately is the case with most of the lower class of 
costermongers. Sometimes, as I found out later, the stock 
was even kept in the dirty, ill-ventilated stables, in company 
with their donkeys. 

"’Enery, I’m going to take my pal over to Mrs. Rummings 
to get her a room.” 

"All right, Liz I ’Op it^ and look slippy about getting 
back.” 

She turned to me with " Come on, Emm ! ” I had told her 
my Christian name was Emma. 

The house we went to was situated in the same street as 
the one in which our new friend lived. It was a two-storied 
bouse with a basement below the pavement. Many of its 
windows were broken, os also were the railings in front of the 



61IMn0 tbe 6nttet 141 

house. The street door was open, and sitting on the doorstep 
were three or four poor little children without boots or 
stockings, and bare-headed. In one of the ground-floor 
windows was a card informing passers-by that a room was 
to let.” Pushing past the children, my companion gave a 
resounding knock at the door. This summons brought a 
very vicious-looking, dirty, untidy woman about forty years of 
age up from the underground regions. 

Well, Liz, what’s u^ ” she asked. 

My pal here wants a room ; you got one to let, ’aven’t 
yer?” 

** Yes ; come up and look at it ” — this after a very searching 
look at me. 

I followed her through the passage and up the stairs, past 
several more groups of little children. The house was 
swarming with them. 

The woman opened the door of a tiny, stuffy back room, 
containing a small iron bedstead, on which was a dirty, 
unmade bed, a small washstand, a common chest of drawers, 
and a chair. Fastened on the wall were two gaudy cards 
about twelve inches square. One asked, in crudely-coloured 
letters, the pertinent question of “ What is home without a 
mother?” and the other bore the legend '*Home, sweet 
Home.” 

‘‘ I ain’t ’ad time to tidy up this morning,” Mrs. Rummings 
said. “ I put up my brother Ben ’ere last night.” 

“ What ! is ’e out ? ” asked Liz, 

“ Yus ; come out a day afore yesterday.” 

“ Lor ! don’t time fly. I thought he got two stretch.” 

“ So he did,” said Mrs. Rummings ; “ but they knocked six 
months orf ’cos of ’is good behaviour.” 

By this conversation I understood that the bedroom offered 
,to me had lately been occupied by a recently discharged 



*42 


Zbc Soni AarRet 


criminaL Howeyer, I had made up my mind to go through 
with the adventure so I asked what rent was required. 

“ ’Arf-a-crown a week, and down on the knuckle.” 

This I interpreted to be a request for payment in advance. 
I paid at once. 

When do you want to come in ? ” said Mrs, Rummings. 

!' To-morrow, if possible,” I said. 

I also asked her to have the windows opened, to scrub the 
floor, and as a special favour not to allow the bed to be 
occupied that night. 

All this my landlady, as 1 must now call Mrs. Rummings, 
promised to do. 

And now followed a sad experience. After I had paid my 
half-crown, Liz said : 

“Let’s all go and have a gargle on the strength of the 
deal, eh?” 

<* Don’t mind if we do,” said my landlady. 

“ Come along, Emm,” Liz called to me, and we left the 
hous^ went through the court out into the main road, and 
straight into the common bar of a public-house. It was 
midday. The bar was full of women, some quite young, 
others grey-haired, but the majority middle-aged. 

All were drinking and loudly talking. The two or three 
men present were of the usual public-house loafer type. I 
found afterwards that this Monday drinking is quite a custom 
with women of the lower working class. In some parts of 
London, more drunken women can be seen on a Monday 
afternoon than at any other time during the week. A visit 
to the police courts on a Tuesday morning will illustrate 
to what a. shocking extent this Monday tippling has developed. 

As I stood in this particular bar and overheard the con- 
versations of the poor, wretched women gathered there, I grew 
convinced that the framers of our laws could do no better 



OUbitti) tbe Gutter 143 

than immediately make a law forbidding all women to be 
served with drink in public-houses. 

Leaving the bar, Liz suggested that we should go to a 
barrow-yard in the neighbourhood and hire a barrow. I was 
taken to a yard where there were a number of barrows of all 
descriptions. The owner, a fat, middle-aged woman, wearing 
a coarse apron in which was a pocket containing money, which 
she clinked with her hands as she talked to me, agreed to let 
me have a barrow for a shilling a week. 

This woman was also a money-lender to costermongers, 
lending them money to buy stock. She charged them as 
much as twopence for the loan of every shilling borrowed, the 
time of the loan lasting generally from Friday to Monday. 
But the money is sometimes repaid in a few hours. 

If bad luck should follow the transaction, the debt is an 
awful and growing burden to the borrower. The establishment 
of State banks, which would lend the respectable poor money 
at reasonable interest to start them in their small business, 
is much to be advocated. The system has been tried in 
Germany with good results. 

The next day I moved into the room I had engaged, with 
a few belongings, and Mr. C. got a lodging a few doors 
further down. 

That night I slept but little : the streets below echoed an& 
re-echoed with passing feet, coarse laughter, and drunken 
songs. In the middle of the night dreadful shrieks arose 
from the next house, where a woman was being beaten, and 
although she screamed " Murder I ” and her cries filled the 
neighbourhood, no one seemed to interfere. At last the 
place grew quiet, and 1 fell asleep, seemingly only for a few 
minutes. A loud knock at my door woke me, and on opening 
it I found Liz waiting for me to go to market with her. We 
started off with my empty barrow. 



(44 tCbe Soni Aarftet 

This was the hardest work I think I have ever done. My 
arms ached, and my legs almost refused to move; but my 
sturdy comrade made no trouble whatever about it. 

On arriving at the market we left our barrows in charge of 
a woman to whom we gave twopence each for minding them. 
These women are quite necessary to prevent petty peculations 
that would occur if the carts and barrows were not watched. 
We made up our minds to buy several boxes of tomatoes. By 
a system of mental arithmetic, my guide computed that the 
tomatoes which these boxes contained, and for which we pmd 
two shillings per box, would, if retailed at twopence per pound, 
bring us in a profit of one shilling a box. We bought twenty 
boxes. 

We also bought four bushels of plums at four shillings a 
bushel These, if sold at twopence a pound, would bring us 
in a gross profit of four shillings per bushel. We had to pay 
the porter who carried our purchases to our barrows a.penny 
per bushel and sixpence for the twenty tomato-boxes. I was 
unfortunate in loading my barrow, for when I tried to move it, 
I found the weight was so ill-planned that I could not push it 
My friend showed her trained skill and experience at this 
point She swiftly packed her own barrow, so that the weight 
was adjusted to a nicety, and then rearranged my load. Not- 
withstanding [this, I found it quite impossible to push the 
loaded barrow fiom Covent Garden to our pitch, and was 
obliged to engage a man to help me. 

On arriving at our chosen street I found the pitches,** or 
places that barrows occupy, are in many cases looked upon 
as fireeholds. Only in rare instances is it necessary for the 
costermonger to worry about his regular place in the street 
where he always sells. A stranger arriving earlier and taking 
up what the regular costermonger considers his own puticular 
poution would be very roughly handled indeed — that is, of 



»4S 


OUNttg tbe Gutter 

course, if the usurper happened to be a weaker man or had 
fewer friends than the rightful owner. The police often 
assist the regular costermonger to hold his position against 
interlopers. 

So much is this ownership of position respected, that it 
is no unusual thing to hear of quite respectable sums of 
money being paid for the goodwill of a pitch. I was 
told that as much as ;^8o was paid for a particularly 
popular haddock stall in Battersea. Of course, the posi- 
tion in the market quite governs the value of the stall, 
and one may take up a stand in the quiet parts of the 
street unmolested. 

The nominal owners of the best places in such busy 
markets as the New Cut or Lambeth Walk are quite well-to-do 
people. I have known as much as £ 1 $ to be taken on a 
Saturday evening at one of these stalls. 

There is also another type of costermonger who is com- 
paratively wealthy. He is the man who owns vans and 
horses and numbers of barrows in several market streets. 
These barrows he stocks and lets out on commission to the 
poorer class of costermongers. 

1 got to know the wife of one of these men. Her baby 
was ill, and she came in to see if Mrs. Rummings could send 
her a girl to help her for a bit. 

I offered to go, as I thought it possible I might help the 
woman, who seemed much distressed about her child. I was 
in and out of that home a good deal. The child died, and 
they spent ;^ 2 o on the funeral I never saw lovelier flowers 
than those that were laid on that tiny coffin. But the baby 
needn’t have gone to Heaven so early, if its mother had not 
fed it on potted salmon and salt bacon, and given it sips of 
gin to stop the pains. The bereaved mother paid for a 
black dress — and she could afford the luxury — her husband 



146 


TCbe Soul Aarftet 


got as much as fifteen shillings a day for the rent of a pitch 
in a very paying locality. 

The man had no more legal right to that money than I 
have, but it came to him as an acknowledged right. 

He had a cart and horse, and hired out barrows to 
costers. Early in the morning his cart, laden with fruit and 
vegetables, was driven round to the stalls he had contracted 
for. These were dressed and made over ready to the hirer. 
At night the stuff was all removed by the same man, so the 
hirer had no responsibility for loss, except by bad sales. 

Mr. Miff, this wealthy coster’s wife, got very friendly with 
me, and one day offered me the loan of to set up 
with a donkey of my own, and then huskily added that it was 
for the kid’s sake. I was much touched by this kindness, and 
have only to add my adventures with the donkey to 
finish my autobiography as coster girl. 

To be the proud possessor of a donkey seems to be the 
object in life of every costermonger. They practically 
monopolise the ownership of these patient, hard-working little 
beasts. 

As a rule, a coster’s donkey is his friend, and it is only very 
rarely that they are ill-treated. 

London costermongers have formed a donkey market for 
themselves. It is held every Friday at Islington, "on the 
stones,” as they say. 

About midday the market presents a very lively appearance. 
To the novice the bustle seems all confusion. Burly, shirt- 
sleeved men run the donkeys up and down, shouting, bandying 
chaff, and descanting on the merits of the animals they wish 
to sell Some of the criticisms made by the experts on the 
animals is amunng. 

What’s the matter with his eye ? ” 

“Nothink.” 



OflMng tbe (Bntter 147 

“No, it ain’t shut up. ’E’s a-vinking — that’s all.” 

Or it may be the donkey’s staying power is impeached. 

“ Don’t look strong, don’t ’e ? ” 

“What yer want for thirty bob, a push hard (Panhard) 
motor car ? ” 

Then, again, one may hear negotiations of this sort : 

“Yus’m ; he’s all right. H give yer ten nickers for him.” 

“No; fifteen pun ten is his price.” 

“ Ten jimmy o’goblins — I’ll give not a deaner more.” 

The buyer holds out his hand with ten shining sovereigns 
in it. This is no unusual price for a sturdy Spanish donkey, 
known as “fancy,” a type much coveted by the well-to-do 
costermongers. 

The average price paid for a “ moke ” is something between 
j £3 though some may be bought as low as a 

“ dollar a leg ” — that is, £1 a piece. 

All bargains are concluded with a sort of hand-shake; 

“ You shall ’ave ’im for two pun ten.” 

“ Ere ; smack my old ’and — buys ’im.” 

The owner holds his hand out, the purchaser smacks it, and 
the bargain is complete. 

Mr. C. and 1 bought a donkey for We had 

already hired a coster cart and some scraps of harness at the 
yard where I hired my barrow. It was extremely funny to 
see Mr. C. trying to lead the donk^ off amid a good-ruitured 
fire of chaff from brother costers. 

I longed to ride the beast, but Mr. C. assured me that 
such a proceeding would give the show away ; so we toiled 
off to the stable we had hired for two shillings a week. 

Our neighbours were very much interested in our purchase 
and our consequent rise in the world, but we were not 
allowed undue pride in our bargain. One man pointed out 
thjit the moke had weak legs, another that his mouth was 



>4S TSbc Soul Aarftet 

not symmetrical enough, and a girl politely told me that his 
tail was a lot longer than my tongue, which might have been 
taken for a compliment 

Mr. C. pointed out that these were the donkey’s misfortunes 
and not his faults, and that they would mellow by keeping. 

The days we spent with our moke and barrow were happy, 
though the life was fearfully hard. Our stock-in-trade cost 
us ios. We had cabbages, tomatoes, oranges, and 
bananas, and on that sum we made a profit of i8s. ; 
but our working hours were practically eighteen hours a 
day. We took turns at the barrow, and slipped away for 
a good bath and sleep between times. 

One day, when standing at my stall, a costermonger came 
to me and asked me to take a ticket for a " lead " that was 
being got up for poor old “Boss ’Ooker.” I showed my 
ignorance by asking some amateur questions as to this 
extraordinary invitation. The man luckily thought I was 
chafiBng him. He grinned at me for a moment and held 
out a small, black-edged card, saying : > 

'‘G)p, old missus; I ain’t got no time for kidding.” He 
pressed into my hand this curious advertisement : 

“MANY CAN HELP ON^ WHERE ONE CANNOT HELP MANY 

“A Harmonic Meeting 

will be held next Monday night at the Goat and Boots Hotel, 
by the kind permission of the landlord, Mr. James Downey, 
Esq., for the purpose of assisting our old friend Alfred Hook^ 
better known as ‘ Old ’Ooker,’ having met with the misfortune 
of losing his wife. The following gentlemen have promised 
thdr support, and the chair will be taken during the evening, 
amongst others, by Charles Neat, better known as Nipper 
Neat, Punch Dowsett, Flash Harry, and also good old 
Jibber will act as vice. Rally round one who has always 



( 3 UMno tbe Cutter 149 

been the first to drop to others. Harmony commences 
8.30 sharp. Ladies invited." 

This was an occasion not to be missed, and Mr. C. and 
I presented ourselves at this gathering, which is usually 
called “a friendly lead.” 

These benefits are arranged to alleviate all sorts of mis- 
fortunes. The room we entered was a long one in which 
were arranged a number of tables, with Windsor chairs 
down both sides. At one end a smaller table was placed, 
and near the door was a small stand on which lay two plates, 
one over the other, also a wooden hammer. There was a 
hammer of the same kind on the table at the end of the 
room. These hammers were used by the Chairmen and 
Mr. Vice, to call the friendly leaders to order. 

The business part of the meeting consisted in each guest 
delicately placing an offering of silver between the two 
plates. Sometimes as much as j £6 or j£S is collected at 
these meetings. The gaiety consisted of singing and 
drinking beer. 

It was very amusing to see the ceremony with which the 
proceedings were conducted. The Chairman, a red-faced 
coster of about fifty, took off his coat at the beginning 
to allow himself larger room. As each item on the 
programme became due, he rose in his authority, struck 
two smart taps on the table with his hammer, and turning 
towards the ‘'Vic^" a melancholy, cadaverous-looking man, 
would say in a husky voice: *'I believe the next worthy 
call lies in your 'ands, brother Vice." 

The exact direction of the call would be indicated by 
“brother Vice"; then after a few loud knockings of 
the hammer and various personal compliments and 
encouragements, the man indicated would rise and sing. 



Vbe Sotti AatRet 


150 

We left the entertainment before the men and women got 
drunk, pleading as our excuse that we had to find a new 
room a long way off. That night we slipped quietly back 
into civilisation. 

It was a real pang parting with “ the moke ” ; he was such 
a good-natured beast We sold him for “ thirty bob ” to the 
nicest coster we knew. The money was never paid, for we 
left before the man could collect the money. We always 
hope our donkey found a grateful friend. 



CHAPTER IX 


THE STORY OF THE SHOP 

From this open-air trading it was a strange transition into the 
ranks of the shop-girls. 

I have often wondered what the attraction in the life of a 
tea-shop waitress or shop-girl can be, for so many of the 
girls I know in domestic service and in working-class homes 
desire to become waitresses or “young ladies” in shops. 
Perhaps the life is supposed to be more dignified than a 
barmaid’s business, and more exciting than domestic 
service. 

But few of the girls seem to take into consideration the 
long hours, the shabby pay, and the many disadvantages of 
the work. Maybe the life is rather brighter than ordinary 
service, but it certainly is a very fatiguing one. There are 
also many regulations to be observed, and the pay, as I found, 
is nowhere extravagant About ten shillings a week is the 
average, and some firms oblige the girls to spend part of this 
on their dinners, which have to be purchased from the 
counters. 

The work generally commences about eight o^clock. 
Floors have to be scrubbed, tables and crockery cleaned, 
counters daintily arranged, then the girls are allowed a few 
minutes to make themselves neat and tidy. Until 7 pjn., 
with the exception of a few minutes for meals, there is a 

constant running to and fro attending to the wants of the 

151 



i5« tl^ ^out Aitrftet 

customers. The duties are not hard to learn, but some girls 
prove more attractive to customers than others. It is the aim 
of these girls to entice the same customers to their tables each 
day. Some of them have quite a large following, which by no 
means detracts from their value in the eyes of the managers of 
most small tea-shops.. It is amusing to observe how a regular 
customer, known to be mean, is neglected; but one who 
scatters largesse with a liberal hand is almost fought for. 

In many of the establishments " op gratuities ” is the rule, 
but the rule is very often broken. 

The girls frequently receive presents from the male 
customers who admire them; flowers, theatre and concert 
tickets are given, and many accept these favours. But as 
a rule, these young women, are . loyal to sweethearts of their 
own class ; and it would make inany a junior clerk writhe if 
he could hear the recipient'ttf: his gifts “ take him off” — that 
is, describe his physical pepuliarities or affected manner of 
speech — to h^^aweetheart. 

Perhaps there is no harder-working person in London than 
a coffee-shop waitress. I spent some time in this capacity. 
My hours were fourteen daily, and my wages eight shillings a 
week and my food. This food is ample, if coarse, and the 
same ^ epithet would describe my employer. He was the 
largest man I think I have ever seen, and an excellent 
advertisement of the possibilities of his eating-house. 

I commenced work at 6.30 a.m. After clearing the shop, I 
had to help in the kitchen. I had also to serve the occasional 
customers who came in before eight o’clock. Within five 
minutes of diat hour the shop was filled with customers, all 
simultaneously calling out their needs; and exhibiting the 
greatest impatience imaginable. 

“Now then, miss, ’arf of thick, three doorsteps, and a 
two-eyed steak.” 



Ube Stdi^ of tbe Sbop iss 

“ Rasher an’ two, three, and a pint” 

" I^rge tea, two slices, and a neg, my dear.” - 

These, and dozens of other equally strange and unintellig- 
ible requests, were shouted at me. I repeated these orders as 
far as my memory would allow me through a small window 
opening into the kitchen. There they were thoroughly 
understood. 

I quickly learned that “thick” meant coffee, “doorsteps” 
slices of bread, “ two-eyed steaks ” the pungent but much- 
favoured bloater, “ rasher and two ” ^s and bacon. 

After a few mornings they ceased to puzzle me, and I had 
learned enough of this strange language to comiule a slang 
dictionary. 

This rush of business in tke 'mar^g li^ed from eight 
o’clock until half-past. After t^ the shop would be empty, 
and but one or two customers rei&in. We, that is the coffee- 
housekeeper, his wife, and mysST, had breakfast, whilst a 
young girl who helped in the kitchen attended to the shop. 
After the meal, which was taken in the shop, washing-up 
commenced. This finished, more shop-cleaning, potato- 
peeling, and general help in preparation for the dinner 
occupied me. Then, after a few minutes devoted to a. hasty 
toilet, I returned to the shop again. More or less white dible- 
cloths were spread for the midday meal, and the menu for the 
day was chalked on a large piece of slate hung at the door. 

Almost Krfore the dock had finished striking twelve, the 
first dinner customers rushed in. The noise and bustle of 
the morning was repeated, the only difference being in the 
orders. 

After dinner followed the washing-up of platters and 
kitcuen utensils. Then we had our own dinner, served in 
the shop. 

. During the afternoon very few customers entered. 1 



154 Ube Soul Aarltet 

expected another rush in the afternoon at tea-time, but this 
did not occur ; our breakfast and dinner customers evidently 
went home to tea. At seven o’clock the shop was closed, and 
on Sundays I was allowed to leave at two o’clock. 

The hot air of the gas-lit shop, the constant smell of 
cooking, and the strain of serving impatient customers, 
combined with the lack of outdoor exercise, made me at 
last quite ill, and 1 now understand the reason why all 
advertisements requiring girls for coffee-shop work demand 
that the applicants shall be strong and healthy. 

One advantage of these places is, however, that the 
customers are, according to their standard, very respectful 
to the girls waiting on them. There is none of the coarse 
talk and dangerous familiarity which is characteristic of the 
^‘public-house.” From the amount of custom that comes 
to these places, I am sure they would vie successfully with 
the public-houses, if run upon more attractive lines, with a 
public hall where the men could smoke and read. 

My next venture at leading the life of a ** working girl was 
to become a “ shop-girl.” It required a considerable amount 
of influence on the part of my friends for me to obtain 
permission to spend a short time in the establishment of a 
general draper’s, who gave employment to a number of 
assistants of both sexes. 

One August morning I found myself, portmanteau in hand, 
following a rather prim, middle-aged housekeeper to a bed- 
room situated over the shop of one of the largest drapers in 
the West End of London. 

As far as she knew, or anybody else concerned in the 
business, with the exception of one of the partners, I was a 
young person joining the firm for the purpose of learning the 
arts and mysteries of the draper’s profession. I was a 
diaper’s assistant “living in.” 



*55 


Ubc stovs of tbe Sbop 

When the housekeeper left me, I looked round the place 
that was to be, for some time at least, my home. It was a 
large room with two windows looking out on to the main 
road. These were fitted with Venetian blinds, but no curtains. 
There was a large fireplace, but it had been boarded up. 
The floor was bare^ with the exception of strips of carpet about 
four feet long by eighteen inches wide, which were laid by the 
sides of the four bedsteads which stood in the room. 

The walls were bare of all ornament; but hanging near the 
door was a framed set of rules. These I read with interest : 
they numbered something over seventy, and the breach of any 
of the items seemed to be punishable with fines, which ranged 
in amount firom one penny to half-a-crown. There were also 
regulations as to dress, and as to general conduct for every 
hour of the day and night. 

Some of the rules are undoubtedly necessary, both for the 
welfare of the employ^ and the employer. But many of 
them struck me as frivolous, and merely vexatious. 

“ House door closed at ii p.m.; Saturdays la.” 

“ All lights out on closing of house door ; anyone leaving a 
light after that time in bedrooms will be discharged.” (This 
entails going to bed in the dark after a visit to the theatre.) 

** Assistants sleeping out without permission, for the first 
offence to be fined half-a-crown, for the second offence to be 
fined five shillings, and for the third offence to be discharged.” 

" All bedrooms to be cleared at 8 a.m., a fine of threepence 
for every five minutes late at breakfast” 

Eating sweets in shop was punished, and two and sixpence 
was the fine inflicted on the unfortunate assistant who did not 
inform the shop-walker that a customer was leaving without 
making a purchase. For putting flowers in a glass in a bed- 
room, or for fixing photographs or pictures to the walls of the 
same room, a fine of sixpence. 



156 


Xi;be Soul ifiarliet 


As I stood in the room the door opened, and three *' young 
ladies ” burst in. Two of them scarcely noticed me, but rushed 
at once to their looking-glasses and made a hasty toilet. The 
third on^ a pleasant-looking girl, came to me and said : 

“ Have you just joined the firm ? ” 

“ Yes,” I answered. 

** Oh, I am so glad I I am in charge of this room, and I 
hope we shall be friends.” 

I am sure we shall,” I said. 

“This will be your bed,” she continued, pointing out a single 
one. 

.1 was shown also the particular chest of drawers and 
tmlet-table that were to be for my own use. 

“Take off your things, my dear, and come down to dinner. 
Put everything away ; leave nothing about, or you will lose 
them or be fined.” 

I did as she bade me, and followed her down the stairs and 
along a gloomy passage into the basement of the building. 
We were joined by a growing crowd of other young people^ all 
hurrying to the dining-room. No one seemed to have a minute 
to spare. 

This want of proper time to take one’s meals is a serious 
grievance. Owing to the distance of the dining-room from 
the business parts of the firm, in some cases as much as five 
minutes was occupied out of the five-and-twenty that were 
allowed for each meal Then there was more waiting at the 
table, therefore the food had to be “bolted.” The dining- 
room was a long, bare room, with plain white walls, ^devoid of 
all decoration. 

The cooking was shocking. The meat was almost raw, 
the potatoes stodgy, the cabbage watery, and pudding cold. 
The food was sufficient in quantity — ^that is, for myself 
although perhaps for a growing, healthy country boy or girl 



Zbc Storg of tbe Sbop 157 

there would not be enough, for I have heard many complaints 
of the insufficiency of food. In many cases it is eked out by 
purchases from the house stewards. 

At one end of the dining-room in which I sat was a table 
temptingly laid out with- fruit, pastries, etc. : these were for 
sale, the steward being granted the privilege of selling them. 
At breakfast-time, fried bacon, eggs, sausages, and other 
relishes were displayed. These were also very often bought 
by the assistants. The firm only provided plain bread and 
butter for this meal, as also for tea and supper. This I 
consider to be unfair. There should be sufficient food provided 
by the firm, and their employes should not be tempted to 
spend their meagre wages on food, when its supply is part of 
the contract made with their employers. 

The chief grievance of the shop assistants may be described 
as a standihg one. The Shop Hours Regulation Act sets out 
that no young person — that is, anyone under eighteen yeajrs 
of age — shall be employed in or about a shop for more than 
seventy-four hours in any one week. Most firms work their 
young people up to this limit. Now, this means very many 
hours spent upon the feet, sometimes as many as ten in one 
day. “ Oh,” someone will say, “ there is in existence a Shop 
Seats Act, a law that orders every shop-keeper to place for 
his assistants seats in accessible places, so that they may sit 
down when not actually engaged in business.” Yes ; the seats 
are provided, but the assistants are afraid to use them. 
Something like, this happens if they do-: 

The shop-walker sees a girl sitting down. He approaches 
her and asks : “ Aiw you tired, miss ? ” 

If he sees her sitting agun, he will ask her if she is 
indisposed. The third time he catches her seated during 
business hours he will tell her that she is ill, and must go to 
her room. This means that she will be discharged. 



158 SoiU #jfirRet 

Of coune this does nor hai^en in all firms, but this 
disapproval of the girls resting during business hours is an 
unfortunate fact. 

Most firms like their assistants to look busy, even if they 
ate not serving customers, and often hours are spent in 
uselessly arranging and rearranging the stock. One has 
actually to suffer the hardships of counter-setA'ing to be able 
to understand thoroughly the courage that many a poor shop- 
girl exhibits. Suffering pain, and weary almost to the point 
of sinking, she will smile and endeavour to humour an 
exacting fault-finding customer — invariably one of our own 
sex — ^who seems to delight in giving all the trouble imaginable. 

Legislation may provide seats, reformers may cry out 
against the abuses of the “living in” system, but until the 
public grow more considerate and sympathetic — thus bringing 
about shorter hours of work for the poor c6unter-slaves of our 
large towns — very little will be done to ameliorate .the 
hardships of their lives. 

X^ere exists in the minds of most people a prejudice ekin 
to disrespect for the barmaid. Even the working class have 
ideas on this subject. If a young working man “ picks up ” — 
as becoming engaged is called — with a girl from behind the 
bar, many of his family consider that he is “ throwing himself 
away.” Even his male companions outside his home treat 
him to a certain amount of rode chaff. The women of his 
family imagine a barmaid to be someone who is in some 
subtle manner a fascinatingly wicked person. 

Thiais very unfair to the class. Many of the young girls who 
earn their living in this arduous calling are subjected to numer- 
ous temptations, yet remain good,' upright, and respectable 
women; Often they are obliged to stand behind a counter 
serving semi-drunken, coarse, and foul-mouthed persons of both 
sexes; obliged to hear bad language, and the vile talk of that . 



MISS MALVERY SERVING IN A CHEAP COFFEE 




SERVING CHILDREN IN A ** SWEET ’’ SHOP. 




Jibe iStotj? of tbe^^bop : 

class of man who makes it « pastime to in^t yoqng ^men 
engaged in this business. 

As a girl once said to me : *' The life is hard enough 
without having to be insulted by cads.” 

Indeed it is a hard life: no Roman sl^e lived a. harder. 
From early morning until late at night one has a constant round 
of severe work. When not serving, one is cleaning. The girl 
is often subjected to the bad temper of a harassed mistress, or 
the familiarities of a drunken master. Scarcely taking any out- 
door exercise^being too tired to go out during the two or 
three “rest-hours” which the custom of the trade allows 
these girls in the afternoon — the barmaid soon loses all her 
good looks, and is ruthlessly discharged. It is little wonder 
that many of these girls succumb to the temptation of drink, 
which is always at their elbow. It is their fond belief that it 
will revive their jaded spirits and restore their lost energy. 

The atmosphere of a public-house must weaken, in the 
course of time, the most exemplary, and undermine both 
health and moral calibre. It is Ian unnatural life for any 
young girl to live. Youth is destroyed. And to be pretty 
and young are qualifications demanded of a barmaid. It has 
often excited my compassion to see the early age at which 
some of the girls I know, engaged in this pernicious business, 
are discharged as worn-out I have often wondered what 
becomes of these young women when they grow old. One 
never sees an old barmaid, rarely a middle-aged one. 

With some difSculty I obtained a situation as barmaid in a 
public-house. 

My work commenced at 7.30 in the morning. Aft that 
hour I bad to be in the bar to clean «^d dust and generally 
make tidy. The pewter .counter and the brass taps were 
cleaned by the “ potman.” At 8.15 a.m. I wrat to breakfast 
Much better breakfasts were provided than those given to me 



i6o trbe Soul Aarftet 

at Uie drapo’s where 1 had worked. Then fifteen minutes 
waa allowed for my toilet, and at 9 a.m. I was back in the bar 
serving customers, who were chiefly women bringing jugs for 
lun<A or dinner beer. At twelve working men come in, some 
bringing their dinners wrapped up in handkerchiefs or news- 
pq)ers. Their orders, as a rule^ were for '"arfs of ale,” 
"oblige wif a knife,” and "a little bit of mustard.” Some 
would buy pennyworth’s of bread and cheese to eat with their 
beer. . It struck me that if the proprietors had sold cheap and 
good soup, coffee, cooked meat, and potatoes, we should have 
done as much business as the . coffee-shop where I had served. 

I am told that many publicans are catering for this kind of 
trade. If this is so, I am sure it is better for themselves and 
for their customers. The house I was in was called a 
"beerhouse”; spirits were not sold there at all, and it was a 
far better class of place than the ordinary " public.” 

The publican, like everyone else, begins to feel the stress of 
competition, and many of them are extending their attractions. 
Some display on their counters daintily-arranged plat^ of 
food, and everyone must notice how a number of public-houses 
now exhibit on their windows advertisements of food. 
" Sausages and mashed,” sandwiches sometimes, and frequently 
" tea and coffee.” 

After the dinner-time customers had returned to their 
work, there came a slack time. I was allowed forty minutes 
for dinner. After this I went into the bar until three o’clock. 
Thoe was a seat in the bar, and no objection was made if I 
or my companions sat down when there were no customers to 
save. At three I went to "rest.” I invariably spent this 
time walking or riding on a tram. At six tea was served, and 
at 6.30 I returned to the bar. Business retnained quiet until 
about 9 p.m. Then one by one the "regulars” dropped in. 
These customers generally used the saloon bar. Customers 



mie 9I0CV tbe Sbop i6i 

here had to pay aomethiiig like 05 per cent more for tfadr 
purchases. It seemed to me the room was used as a kind of 
cluts and I wonder why temperance reformers do not open 
coffee-houses on the same principle. My intimate knowtedge 
of the working people leads me to believe that if bright, well* 
furnished coffee-houses were opened side by side with every 
public-house in cities, where men and women could "step in*' 
for refreshment and social intercourse there would be an 
incredible reform worked among the drinking classes. Unfor* 
tunately, the only people who would be inclined to start on 
such a crusade would be the ones who would turn the bats 
into pulpits. 

To return to my duties. At 10 a.m. I went in to supper. 
At ia.30 the house was cleared, and after a few minutes spent 
in washing glasses, 1 was able to go to bed. < 

One of the worst sights I think I noticed was a young 
woman who gave a little baby, only a few months old, sips 
from her can.- When I remonstrated with her, she told me 
“ to mind my place,” and not " interfere with my betters.*’ 

Sometimes working men, especially on Sunday momiqg% 
would bring their little children into the bar, evidently ilter 
taking them for a walk. They often offered the little ones 
drink from their glasses — this, for the most part, was want of 
thought, for I have rarely met one of this class who did not 
condemn excessive drinking, and approve of their children 
being abstainers. The two children of the house were both 
Band of Hope members, and spouted temperance redtatiom 
to the great delight of their parents and friends. 

Many girls like the bannaid’s life. Tbqr are fond of the 
excitement^ and the opportunity of conversation with OMM^' 
To marry « gentleman is the amlntioo of many of tilMe 
"young ladies,” an ambiticm which, almost without exoeptian^ 
brings trouble in its train. 



ifi* 

, . The pay a bamudd genenlly langes from five to fifteen 
a week—Hiot much, constdering the long hours; tnit 
matrimony seems to be die stake nearly all these girls jday 
for, and a very dangerous game it is. 

The experiment that interested me as much as any i 
eq[>erienced while living the life of the poor and working 
classes was the one that gave me an insight into a trade that 
is really a benefaction to the poor, and that is the trade in 
fried fish. 

During my recent travels in Poverty Kingdom my attention 
was very often drawn towards a class of shop, the very 
existence of which may be described as an assault on one’s 
cdfimtory nerves, and seeing how these places were patronised, 
I determined to study the fried fish business from "inside** 
if possible. 

1 have many times stood outside these places, notwith- 
standing their atmospheric advertisement, and watched the 
crowd of customers streaming into them, eager, hungry^eyed 
work-frdk, anxiously purchasing thdr frugal dinners and 
suppers. 

So watching, I have grown convinced that these humble 
and often malodorous shops play a very important part in the 
social and domestic economy of London’s poor. From these 
shops many a workman’s wife is able to provide an ample 
meal for rix or even eight mouths for as small a sum as 
sixpence. Another advantage to die poor housekeq>er is the 
focility with which she can by the aid of these shops provide 
a hot meal without the expense or trouble of cooking. Fuel 
is a heavy item in small wages; therefore cheap and good 
oordted food is certainly an advantage to the people. 

We owe the introduction into London the firied fish 
barioem to the children of the Ghetto, and these peoide are 
even now pre-eminent in the preparation of this parricwUr 



Vbe 9t0iv or Ibe Wbcp ifs 

food. The custom of sdling hot fried potatoes ire got from 
die French, and until quite recently almost erery fried fish 
shop in London exhibited in its windows a notice that potatoes 
were cooked within d la mode. I fdt sure I shouM be able 
to get into close touch with many poor people if I could get 
work for a time in one of those shops. 

So I managed to get an introduction to a “lidy” in the 
trade. She was a big, good-tempered, good-natured widow, 
with a very flourishing business. 

“ I cuts two ‘trunks ’ a day, and do a ton of taters in the 
week," she told me 

Not then knowing to what she refened, I concealed my 
ignorance by looking as wise as possible — smiling and nodding 
my head. I bad to use all my persuasive powers to obtain 
from her a week’s employment as an assistant 

“ You’ll find it ’ard work, my gal, and don’t you forget it.** 

I told her 1 was not afraid of hard work. 

“ Well, start on Monday, and I’ll give yer five shillings to 
commence with. You can ’ave yer grub along o’ me, but 
you’ll 'ave ter sleep out” 

I thanked Heaven for this last condition, for I felt it would 
have been absolutely impossible for me to pass twenty-four 
consecutive hours in the atmosphere of the diop. 

“You *ad better be *ere about *arf*past four Monday 
momin’l” shecontbued. 

“Monday morning?” I hesitatingly asked — surely die 
must mean the afremoon, I thought But I was soqn 
undeceived. 

“Ye^ momin’, of course; w^re to go to matke^ you 
know.” 

Tholife is indeed a hard on^ if to cmiyit on it is neciM^ 
to commence work at 4.30 a.m. Neverthdesa 1 meant # 
“s$e die dung dnotdfh.” Tbeieforei on . dm Mtmdaj? I 



t 64 mcfBmmmet 

presented myself in the early morning at the shop door of 
my future employer. 

She was already dressed and waitmg when I arrived. She 
cheerily bade me “ Good morning,” and told me to come in 
and " ’ave a cup of corfee wif a drop of something in it to 
keep out the cold while we was waiting for the cart.” 

1 accepted her hospitality, but took my coffee without the 
"something in it,” which 1 found to be gin, of which she 
took quite half a cupful 

I had scarcely finished my coffee when the cart arrived. 
The driver of this vehicle proved to be a sleepy, surly youth, 
who scarcely spoke a word the whole of this or any other 
morning that he took us to market. 

At first the empty streets looked desolate and forsaken, but 
as we went on the trafiic increased so much, that notwith- 
standing the early hour of the morning, there was quite a 
stream of carts and vans passing from the south to the north 
of the river by way of London Bridge. Turning down Fish 
Street Hill, our horse’s head was seized by a rougb-lpoking 
man. 

"It’s all right, my dear; ’e’s the cart- minder,” said my 
employer. This man looks after the arrangement of carts 
and vans, and he drew us into our place alongside the kerb. 

There are numbers of these men, and sometimes women, 
who attend regularly every day and take op positions near the 
market, looking after probably forty or fifty vans and carts 
during the morning, the owners of these vehicles paying them 
one or two pence for their trouble. I alighted from my not 
too comfortable conveyance, and at her request, followed my 
employer, Mrs. M., as best I could along the crowded pavement 
of Thames Street She threaded her way quite unconcernedly, 
though to me the place was a chaotic pandemonium. 

Hundreds of rough, coarse-looking men, wearing dirty 



Vbe of tbe Sbop i6s 

white smocks, with trousers drawn up and tied in a peculiar 
fashion under their knees, passed along, carrying on their heads 
enormous curiously-shaped and padded hats, on which they 
balanced huge boxes and baskets of fish ; rushing and pushing 
along the street, getting out of no one’s way, and almost 
knocking me down every few yards I walked. These men pro- 
gressed, shouting at the top of their voices as they passed, the 
names of the people to whom their loads were to be delivered. 
These were the market porter^ and what with the owners of 
the hundreds of carts and barrows that were standing about, 
the crowds of retail fishmongers, hawkers, and male and female 
loafers, the whole place teemed with movement and noisy 
life. 

It was with the greatest difliculty imaginable that I followed 
Mrs. M. Fortunately, she was a tall woman, and wore red 
flowers in her bonnet; otherwise I am afraid I should have 
missed her. She waited for me in front of the market. 

“Keep close to me,” she said, “and I’ll put you up to 
the buying.” 

Billingsgate presented a busy scene indeed! On every 
side was heaped, in seeming confusion, boxes and baskets, 
or piles of glistening fish; mote porters carrying their loads, 
men shouting prices of fish, others selling by way of auction — 
the whole scene presenting a wonderful picture of work and 
energy. 

There are two ways in which fish is brought to Billings* 
gate. It may be water-borne or land-borne. If conveyed 
by water, it is brought by steam carriers, who collect the 
fish from the North Sea trawlers and deliver it at the market 
packed in ice^ in large boxes called “trunks,” weighii^ atxAit 
90 lbs. each. These are sold by the companies who owtt' 
the trawlers and carriets by auction. Thdr jnindpid - 
customers ere the dess knoira as “bummerees.” These 



m ^fsm mumtt 

ptiii^lktSfy middlfr-meti, and form die majority cS the 
two hundred or so tenants who rmit the market-stalls. 

The reason for the bummaree may be shortly explained 
thus: The trunks contain unassorted fish — the retailer 
cannot afford to buy whole trunks at one tim^ for he may 
only require plaice, soles, or some special kinds of fish. 
The auctioneers and commission salesmen having no time 
to sort the fish into lots, the bummaree buys it, separates 
it, and sells to the retailer exactly what he wants. 

It was from one of these men that Mrs. M. bought her 
fish. She paid her money, pointed out her purchases to a 
porter, told him her name and the name of the "standing” 
— that is, the place where her cart was. 

We now once more pushed our way through the crowd 
and found the cart. The fish that had been bou^t was 
already in i^ so we paid the "minder,” clambered op into 
the vehicle the horse started, and within half an hour we 
were back at the shop. After a substantial breakfast, taken 
with Mrs. M. in her tiny shop-parlour, work comnlienced. 
With the assistance of the surly driver, the fish purchased at 
the market was sorted, cleaned, and cut up into small pieces. 
Then several baskets of potatoes were scrubbed and washed. 
After this they were put in a machine which cut them up 
into small slices. Then followed a general clean op of the 
premises. This completed, fires had to be lit in the furnaces, 
over which the frying-pans were soon to be set The fish 
was fried in a specially prepared oil. Each piece^of fish, 
before fiying, was dipped in batter. 

It was now nearly twelve o'clock, and the dinner customers 
bepm to come ia Workbg men entered and asked for 
"Two and one.” They were immedfarteiy served by Mrs. 
M. vito two pennywwth M fish—tbat is^ four small pieces. 



Vbe #toc!r ot tte Sbop i«7 

and one pennyvwth of fried potatoes, the whdo making 
quite a good meat. 

“Eat 'era or take away?” she inTatiably asked each 
customer. 

If they answered “'Er^” the fish and potatoes were put 
on a small plate, then deluged with vinegar from a bottle 
with a hole in the cork. The customers were also 
supplied with a knife and fork, upon the handles of which 
were graven “Stolen from Mrs. M.” If the customers 
answered “Tike away,” the food was simply wrapped in 
a huge piece of newspaper and handed over to them. 

Many of the customers were little children who came 
straight from schooL Their purchases generally consisted 
of a halfpenn3rworth of fish and a halfpennyworth of 
potatoes. Sometimes, one more hungry-looking and mote 
raggedly-dressed than the others would come in and ask 
for “A 'aporth of cracklings.” Mrs. M. would give these 
poor children two large handfiils of tiny pieces of fish, 
broken potatoes, and the chips of fried batter which 
remained in the wire baskets after the cooked fish -bad 
been removed from them. 

After the midday customers were served, the shop was 
closed and our dinner taken, after which followed mote 
cleaning and preparation for the supper trade. It was 
always dose upon four o’clock when everything was ready 
for the evening. Now came a much-desired rest until seven, 
when frying commenced again, and customers began to dr^ 
in. Between the hours of eight and ten it was scaro^ 
possible to fiy fish fast enough for the buyers who crowded 
in and waited at the countor. After that time trade gradually 
fdl oSt Ohtil at twdve o’clock there were no saora cus|i«mcim 
and the Aop doors were dosed. 

.Hcnr hnmaii beuigi can stand the weu. and tear o( 



ti;be iSottliAiirket 

ft JMIb. ift beyond my understanding. I must say that I never 
had ft harder week in my life. I shall never pass a fried fish 
shop again without some feeling of sympathy and respect 
for those working in it, for they indeed are living the 
"strenuous life.” Moreover, they are a thoroughly respectable 
and thrifty class of people. 



CHAPTER X 


nr THE SWEATING DENS OF WEST AND EAST LONDON 

Life as a shop-girl seemed hard endugh to me, but in com- 
parison with some later experience in sweating dens it was 
luxurious. 

It is a common error to suppose that sweating is an 
evil conhned to the East End. Some of the most shameful 
sweating shops exist in the West End, and are the outcome, 
partly at any rate, of the wicked habit a large section of 
women have of not paying their dressmaking bills for months 
or even years. I have a friend, a girl, who is an officer’s 
daughter, and was trained at the Slade Art School, and in 
some Parisian studios for her work. She first took up 
dressmaking, and then designing, as a profession, and for 
this purpose apprenticed herself to a ffishionable dressmaker 
in Bond Street There she worked for three years. For 
the first year she was paid nothing, the second year she 
had five shillings a week, and the third year eight shilfing e 
a week. The dressmsJcer she worked for was a good womai^ 
and herself an exceedingly hard worker. She had, in the 
beginning of her career, a fearful struggle to make ends 
meet 

When, after her apprenticeship, my friend dt^sited to open 
a dressmaking establishment hersdf, she went very fully kito 
the details of die tiad^ and she found that she would reqtto 
capital enough to ke^ her entirely for duee yean befinp idbe 

*69 



any h<q>e of ultimate sucoesi. Hie necesaity 
iiw ca{i^^ being that society ladies sddom pay their 

dressmaleeirf bills before two or three years. The result is 
flat women who have not capital are obliged to borrow 
money at large interest to cany on thmr business. 

My knowledge of sweating was gained by »periences I had 
both in the East and the West End. How I came to enlist 
myself among the sweated workers of the West End was in 
this wise : A student friend of mine had a cousin who was 
the daughter of a bank clerk. The &ther had died without 
mi^ng provision for the large family he lef^ and the girl, 
widi her two sisters, found themselves obliged, without being 
educated for it, to take up work which would help Aem to 
snj^ort the young members of their fiimily. This girl elected 
to team millinery and dressmaking, being lured by various 
advertisements and florid accounts she had heard of ladies 
starting in business, and making tiiree or four thousand 
pounds a year without any capital. The girl was made the 
dope of a person who was pufied in a ladie^ paper, nis 
journal gave an account of a millmery school in the ' West 
End which was owned by a society lady, who was supposed 
to be a genius, not only in the way of her work, but ara 
teacher. The girl took advantage of the kind offer of a 
rdation who was willing to give her ^^50 for educational 
purposes^ to apprentice herself to this lady, who had a large 
and seemingly flourishing business. Poor child I how was 
she to know that the account in the ladies’ paper was 
probably paid for, and was a thinly>veited advertisement? 
People who know nothing of women’s journalism cannot be 
supposed to understand the littie intricacies of the trade. 
How wu she to know, for instance, that many of the 
fitahhmaldB writms on dress, beauty cidtnro^ and sndi 
dtiMhmk get dl thebr wardrobes^ t(^ leqoisitaiiS ood ai^ 



171 


Ubc Beitt .ef l^n^on 

other artideB iHiich Uiey may meotion in the aoc^y cl»^ 
free? Hoir was she to know that the joamalist who wrote 
this glowing description of Mrs. So-and>So^s millinery shop 
was probably paid a large sum of money for the **paff’’? 
The result to the girl was, of course^ practical ruia. She 
paid the ;^5o for a three months’ course of instruction, on 
the understanding that after that time she was to be found 
paid employment, 

Now the girl had a real gift for millinery; she had been 
accustomed to trim hats and make fiomiets constantly for her 
friends and relations, and her taste was acknowledged to be 
extremely good. She found herself howerer, set to work 
with twenty other girls, all of whom had paid 
strmigth of these ornamental advertisements to learn a 
"paying” tiada All of these twenty apprentices also were 
given definite promises of work on showing profidenqr at the 
end of the riiree rnonths. They made and trimmed all the 
hats, bormets, and old ladies’ dress caps, which were sold in 
the shop at extravagant prices. There were cards put in the 
show-room stating that Mrs. — — employed Frendi millinera 
for her work. These girls, as their time of apptenricediip 
expired, were sent adrift, their places being taken by odieis 
who had been in training for a month or two. In this way 
the proprietress ensured a constant supply of capable worken^ 
and at the same time replenished her coffins with additioaid 
fees from the new millinera Of course she was never 
able to find appointments for any of the g^ls; in fimt, enfa 
could hardly believe that she had ever intended to do* nq 
T he girl 1 knew came to visit a courin, vrith whom 1 VMS 
having tea one day, and she told the story of the ihaiw sftit 
treatment she had received, ^e had worked in this 
ev«y day widioiit a breaks from ^bt in ite' 
w^ht oMiine in die eveniiijg, wiaioot''wm'pe«bf 



Iff tie 

irt/tte ead of her time she lost her ;^5o and was cast adrift. 
1 diongbt it would be a splendid experiment for me to get 
iirto this sweating dra and gain a personal knowledge of this 
fraudulent method of obtaining money from girls who were 
anxious to . equip themselves for a trade. 1 was not in a 
position, however, to throw away ;^5o, and I determined that 
the contract I signed should be seen and revised by a lawyer, 
a friend of mine, who is an expert in such matters. I duly 
presented myself at this '* millinery school” one morning, and 
was received in the most courteous manner possible. The 
lady had indeed “kissed the blarney-stone” and her words 
were sweet as honey. She explained to me how lucrative a 
calling millinery was, how easy it was to make ^^500 a year 
in the trad^ and she added : “You see, my dear, if a lady of 
position like myself can afford to ttdre up business of this sort 
witiiout losing caste, and make a real success of it, no one 
need be ashamed or afraid of learning the work,” and she 
added: “There is always room at the top; good milliners 
are really very scarce in London.” ^ 

I professed myself charmed at the prospect, and ms 
handed a contract which I was to sign there and then. I, 
however, explained to the lady that I must take it home and 
read it over. After a great deal of hesitation, she agreed 
that I should do this, and 1 proceeded straightway to my 
lawyer. He read the contract over, and laughed, saying: 

*‘Well, they say women have no head for business; no 
man could have nwde a sharper or harder contract than this. 
However, I’ll put in a word or two which, without seeming to 
jdter die meaning, will give you a means of escape should 
you want to break the contract and get your money 
bade.” 

was vmy amdoos about tins matter, and said t 

You will make it quite sui^ won’t you, for I cannot afford- 



Vbe s#eiitHi0 Ms er xonbon 173 

to present Mrs. — - with ;^ 5 o } I don't get my money qttite 
so easily as she does ? 

“Oh, yes,” said my friend, “I will make that all r^htj 
and in any case, she will not dare to take the matter into 
court when she knows that you have had advice beforehand. 
The trouble with these matters is,” he continued, “ the fret 
that girls and women will enter into any agreement and 
contract in the most careless manner, without taking lq;al 
advice about it ; consequently they find themselves, in nine^ 
nine cases out of a hundred, victims of some person sharper 
than themselves.” 

The alterations having been made in the contract I 
returned next day to the shop. I said that I was willing 
now to sign the contract, and added carelessly that I had 
' just made one or two small differences in it, as, owing to 
circumstances, I might find myself called away for a week or 
so before the legal expiry of my term. 

“Oh,” said the lady, smiling, “that will not make any 
difference.” 

She read over the revised contract, frowned a little^ but did 
not seem afraid to trust to it She made me sign it, and 
signed it herself, and then gave me another copy, into which 
I inserted the changes my lawyer had made. This was duly 
signed. I gave her a cheque for jCso, and my apprenticeship 
was sealed. This was on a Thursday, and I was to bq;in 
work on the following Monday morning. Duly .at eight 
o’clock 1 presented myself. There was a charwoman «n!< 
ployed to sweep the shop and to whiten the steps. All the 
rest of the work was dqpe by the apprentices. Some pf the. 
more advanced ones “dressed” the window, while othm 
whOk like myself, were fresh hands, dusted the bch(e%df 
ribbons and flowers, and the showroases. , By baif*fMili»idi||\ 
.o'clock the shop and show-rooms were in orders aa^iii^ist|it 



M^ied ib m UtUe bade room. When 1 entered, there were 
■erontejm employed, each of ediom had paid jCso, 
wbidi gaTe the owner of the "sdiool” a capital of ;^ 85 a 
Sbe had on a° average between twelve and fifteen new 
iqiprentices every three months, so that her capital was 
always increasing. For the first wede my work consbted 
in opening and untwisting rolb of wire, putting in linings, 
tacking ribbons and feathers where they had been pinned in 
by the more experienced hands, fetching and carrying boxes, 
and at the end of the day packing away all the goods and 
tidying up the shop and workroom. We were allowed three 
quarters of an hour for dinner at twelve o’clock, and the girls 
went out in twos and threes, there being someone always in 
the workroom, so that some of os did not get our meal till 
neariy two o’clock, and even three. Half an hour was allowed 
for tea, which was taken in the same way. The girls began to 
go out for thb meal at four o’clock, and went by rebys till 
about half-past six. There was no r^larity as to the time 
for meals. ^ 

I very soon was made aware of the dbcontent that prevailed 
among the more ambitious of the girls, who had been there 
two months, or even mor^ and had not been advanced to the 
better and mote finished work. I studied in thb place for 
three weeks, and got thoroughly well acquainted with the 
whole routine of the place. The profib accruing fiem the 
work were exceedingly good. A hat costing in materbb 
and workmanship six shillings, was priced in the shop from one 
guinea to 'thir^-five shillings. Streams of fiuhionable ladies 
came in all day. For one week I wa^^emphyed tofetcb and 
cany hi the show-room. What a revebtimi of human vanity 
it was! Old'Women, painted and powdered, witii eUboratdy- 
dressed hair, would come in and tiy on, fieiliqis twenty or 
riiiity hats^ and esamine themsdlves critiedly in the great 



JOK flfiWJ i tiii ffepp ^ X(m^(m im 

fl^non UuU lined the walle. Tb^ might better have been 
thiiddng of the next world, for thdt inigiimage in tins wu 
more than three-parts don^ and they certainly succeeded in 
deceiving no one but themselves as to their age. To me^ with 
an Eastern’s idea of the dignity of years, there seemed something 
horrible in these masquerading women, whom no young person 
could honour or respect In the East, grey hairs are a sign of 
honour, and youth is obliged to pay a tribute of respect to 
such symbols of experience. Among the Arabs, no unbearded 
youth ever speaks in the presence of a bearded man unless he 
be addressed firsts and young people will always stand up and 
remain standing in the presence of thdr elders ; but in the 
West such instances of respect have long since become 
unfashionable, and partly, I think, age has itsdf to blame for 
being considered a dishonour. The way these old women 
flouted and posed would have been amusing had it not been 
so pathetic. Even after trying on twenty or thirty hats, thqp 
would go away without putchasmg anything. At other times, 
one would come in and perhaps order, or buy immediately, 
three or four hats in one day. There seems to be a erase for 
new hats in this country, and most extraordinary and wdrd 
ate the shapes that they take. The weary apprentices wtarked 
hour in and hour out without rest or change. After three 
weeks I felt I had had enough, and as I had learned very 
little more of the trade than when I went in, 1 considered 

mysdf justified in leaving. I went to Mrs. and exj Vunod . 

to her, tlmt accordmg to her advertisement I expected to he 
set to skilled wnfc, or rather to be given definite iiistroctUtt 
in ail the branches of ornery, and as the forewonum bip v 
for too mudi to do to allow of her teaefamg any of 
apprentices^ I declared that 1 wished to witbdtaiir from;i|nn 
coiitiact, Of comee rise wan mpemi# liogry^ 
tehised toretum methe or any pari of fti» I 



tl6 

food aomiifg and departed. 1 went straight to tnj lawyar, 
plained ererythingto him, told him how there was no definite 
instmction given to the apprentices, how Mrs — — had never 
Icinnd paid work for any of her workers, and gave instances of 
new apprentices taking the place of those who were sent 
adrift without any position being found for them. My lawyer 
sent her a very carefully expressed and explicit letter, stating 
that unless my j£so was forthcoming the matter would have 
to be decided in court After a great deal of correspondence, 

Mrs. evidently decided that the game was not worth the 

candle. She knew perfectly well that she was not in a position 
to.fitce judicial inquiry into her operations, and she sent me 
bftck £ 40 , deducting for loss of material and time. So 
much for my experience in a West End millinery establishmmrt. 
Now comes a picture of life in a Piccadily workroom. 

On this occasion I managed to get employment as a sewing 
girl, without a premium. It was a large and fashionable 
establishment with a ground-floor show-room and upstairs 
and basement workrooms — horrible little stuffy plac^, with 
inadequate ventilation and bad light There were tbi^ girls 
employed in this place. I, of course, at first bad nothii^ to 
do with the show-room, and when later on Madame, the 
^prietress, finding me willing and always presentably dressed, 
took to giving me jobs to do in the show-room, and employing 
me to write down measurements, hold pins, and so forth, I 
found opportunities of making myself acquainted with the 
details of the business. I maintained a discreet silence, and 
never spoke unless I was. spoken to. I never was reprimanded 
by the forewoman for being idle or gosdping in the workroom. 
Madame , evidently noticed this trai^ and became cardess of 
pfoat was ^d and done in my presence and in this way 1 
jflhtdnedinuch information which othmwise I woidd prbbably 
met have bew able to da It was at the. beginning of ^ 



*77 


TOe !0€iB X.on^on 

summer season when I took up work in this shop. Orders 
were coming in fast. All day long ladies came to choose 
their gowns and to be fitted. Many of them were content 
with nothing less than an original model, something that had 
to be designed and made especially for the individual. Of 
course Madame was always ready to do this, and it only 
meant an extra charge of five or ten guineas for the costume. 
The originality generally consisted in the lady’s getting what 
five or six other ladies from various localities had been given 
before^ with perhaps the variation of a few tucks or frills, or 
the addition of a yoke or couple of pleats. Modem fiuhion 
does not lend itself to any excess of originality. I remember 
being one day with a man friend in an omnibus going 
from Victoria to Piccadilly. It was the season when green 
was the fashionable colour, and ladies went about adorned 
with hats, on the back of which perched a composite bird of 
green. Now Nature has not been prodigal in the matter of 
green birds, and the number of these creatures known to 
naturalists would probably not be more than half a dozen, and 
one would hardly suppose that panots and green {Hgeons^ 
which are the commonest birds whose plumage is of this hue, 
were fitting ornaments for ladies’ headgear. However, by the 
time we had travelled from Victoria to Piccadilly, there luid 
been thirteen ladies in that ’bus, every single one of Whom 
wore identically the same sort of hat, trimmed in exactly the 
same manner, with the exception that the green bird was of a 
difiTerent variety, and the ribbons perhaps were a trifle vaiieA 
The absolute sameness of the hats was so remarkable that ww 
both noticed it and laughed. Indeed, it is this extr e i i s 
difllculty of procuring anything really smtaUe eiieept*^iafe 
enormous expense and a vast expenditure of time and tid^il 
that tiade me dedde on wearing In^an oostome 
pubHc work. X was constantly obliged to jjo amenir^ |M|li 

M 



:lliov^ DOtlung of speiu&ig from £40 to £»oo 
ton jft single coatume^ and it was necessary for my profes- 
sional success that I should be well and suitably attired. 
1 had so much work to do, and was kept so busy that I found, 
afiar a tim^ it was absolutely impossible for me to contend 
with insolent and expensive dressmakers. I could hardly 
ever get a dress made according to my oira ideas, and the 
trouble 1 experienced was so extreme that I solved the 
difficulty for ever by electing to wear nothing but Indian dress 
for my public work. In this way I saved myself many hours 
of vexatious trying on, and much useless expense. For the 
majority of ladies, however, life would lose its savour if they 
were denied the pleasure of spending hours every day at their 
dressmakers’ and milliners’ ; time seems to be a commodity of 
so little valu& From the people whose chief occupation in 
life is to dress themselves and amuse themselves any apprecia- 
tion of the value of time is not to be expected. There is 
nothing like idleness and vsuiity for making people seldsh smd 
crud. . - 

Some of the revdadons of dishonour smd mesumess which 
1 had while working in this Piccadilly shop disillusioned me 
-of any ideas I possessed of the responsibilities entertained by 
dioae of great positimi or wealth. There used to come to 
Madame’s a certain Isdy who is extremdy well known in 
-Mciely for her beauty smd her taste in dress. She is 
routed to be <me of the best-dressed women in London, 
mad to have «idi a reputation is considered better, in these 
day^ than godliness or virtue. She had been a customer of 
Madamds for about five years, during which time she had 
:paichaiBd dothos to the vahie of some £6^000, Of course 
ohe :*iteosivdy with other West End houses as well, 
Oisi ttO’douN owed them all money. Abcmt onoe^'d wedc 
used to cofuo in, smd her visits were (generally of two. or 



TTbe MW 0C Xoiwon tf 9 

three hoon* duration. She would order some ardde of 
appatd, and try on other goods which had been previously 
commissioned, and then would ensue the usual dispute 
between her and Iifadame about the payment of the l^ls. 
The dressmaker would say: "Madame is^ of course^ aware 
that this will bring her bill up to — say, ;^55o for this 
season’s goods; and of course Madame understands that, 
being a working wonutn, I am not able to supply Madame 
with these goods until some portion of this bill is paid.” 

Then Madame would reply: "Really, Madame, I think 
you: are a most ungrateful woman: 1 have introduced to 
you at least ten good customers this season.” 

"Ah, but,” the milliner would reply, "Madame will not 
forged of course, that she has. had a commission of so 
per cent on each jQioo order gpven by customers so 
introduced.” 

"Well, that is not very much,” said the lady. "I dmi’t 
see why you should be so troublesome about your miserable 
bills; you know, of course I will pay some time.” 

"Yes, Madame; but my work-people have to be paid 
every, week.” 

"Well, I have noUung to do with that; if yon are going 
to become troublesome, 1 shall simply be obliged to go to 
someone dlse.” 

"Madame knows,” the milliner would say anxiously, **1 
would not like to offend her; at the same time; it ia posi* 
tively necessary that something should be piud on the biB. 
I don't ask a very large amount: could not Madaaie 
pay £200 or £$oot" 

**£200 or ;f3eol” duidud the customer. "My deft 
good vroman, I have not two or diree hundred pence iiiiHit 
ittutib 19 from somewhere.” And so ACse dlqputei'wlpiid 
go on time after time, and instddl of payhig the 



i8o 

honourable lady would beg Madame to lend her £$ or 
£to in cash. On some occasions Madame would do so. 
If she lent her j£s, the amount would go down in the bill 
as "sundries," ;^i5. Again, when matters grew very 
strained, this lady would go in with a cheque from some 
man, and before, she would make it over to Madame, she 
would insist on having some part of it in cash for herself 
Often she was accompanied to the show-room by some vapid, 
idle-looking man about town, who would sit and wmt for 
her, or exchange remarks with her while she was being 
fitted, and sometimes she would issue forth in one of her 
new "creations” to dazzle the eyes of her admirer. This 
woman has a husband and some bonny-looking children. 
What becomes of these when she is engaged in the arduous 
business of dressing and amusing herself I am not able to 
say. Unfortunately, this is no uncommon picture of a 
London dressmaker’s establishment. I could give a dozen 
instances, but this is enough to show the fearful 
responsibility that lies on society of creating a; better 
public opinion in all matters regarding honour and justice. 
Day after day, in this miserable little workroom, half- 
starved and ailing girls were kept working at high pressure 
Ml wages which ranged from four shillings to thirty shillings 
a week. They had no time to live, but existed from day to 
day as the slaves of society. 

On one occasion, when I was there, a fearful confusion and 
panic took place about ten o’clock one night There were 
thirty of us working as fiut as our needles would fly in the 
workroom, to finish some dresses which had been ordered for 
a spedal function. A message came up from Madame — the 
one word " Inspector.” We heard voices downstairs. In the 
twuikling of an ey^ before the unwelcome visitor had fime to 
tdimb the stairs, most of the work had been put away, and all 





lEbe SvMfattftf} X)en0 ot Xon^on iSt 

the girls except two, who were resident in the house, were 
hidden behind wardrobes and curtains. The lady inspector 
entered. It was explained to her that the women she saw 
were engaged in tidying and putting away work which had 
been completed before the shop closed. Of course she saw 
signs of hurried confusion that her arrival had caused, but 
there was nothing definite she could lay hold of to make a 
case against Madame. Meanwhile we, from our hiding- 
places, could hardly contain ourselves, tired as we were, 
with laughter at the way the inspector was duped. Madame 
was with her, suave and gracious as you like, and they 
descended together. When the front door was shut and 
all was safe, we emerged from our hiding-places, and Madame 
came up so good-humoured and smiling that the poor, tired 
creatures she was sweating in defiance of the law were almost 
persuaded that she was hardly dealt with. She was so elated 
at the narrow escape she had had, and the good work that 
had been done, that to encourage us to stay till two o’clock 
that morning she had two great pots of tea brought up, and 
some bread and butter and cake, and we were regaled with 
the feast at the dead hour of night. Of course we stayed till 
the work was finished, which meant that some of us did not 
reach home till four o’clock, and we had to be back at work 
again at eight. 

The most curious of the chapters in the history of sweating 
must surely be those which teU of the unwillingness of the 
workers to have their wrongs adjusted ; so great is their fear 
that they will lose their employment altogether that they will 
connive and join hands with their employers in hoodwinking 
the inspectors^ and in breaking the- law also. 



CHAPTER XI 


WOMEN WHO WORK AND BABBS WHO WEBB— 'WHAT 
** HOME INDUSTRIES ” MEAN 

So much for the sweating shops in the West End, and now to 
tmyel eastward, where our poorer sisters pay with life and 
si^t and health — the price of this accursed system. 

Since the days when Charles Kingsley, in " Alton Locke,” 
tiirew a lurid light on the dark ways of *' sweating,” it would 
seem that very little headway has been made against this 
ne&rious system, which still continues not only to exist, but 
to thrive and that in spite of many enactments and Acts oi 
Parliament dealing with the matter. v 

My knowledge of the existence of some of the evils of 
"sweating” is personal. The first time I came into actual 
tondi with some of these slaves in England, I was startled at 
the ease with which it is possible to drive the proverbial 
" coach-and-four ” through Acts c^TParliament. 

One day as I was returning home through a part of Brixton, 
I noticed in the window of one of the houses a card setting 
forth the fiwt that the dressmaker within (a German) required 
apprentices. As I passed, several girls came op from the 
area door and walked down the street ih fixmt of me. I 
hettd aome of their remarks. One said: "lie’ll a tqpilar 
beeai* die is I The way she treats that something 
dtamefiill” I did not follow the eonveiMifion fortiier; bat 
l ema waiting at the station, 1 bought a lodd paper, and 



Momen wbo Ulock utib BiiDe« wbo tRUeep 183 

glancing through the advertisementi^ I waa struck by one 
which gave the address of the same house that I had latdy 
passed, where the card in the window indicated that the lady 
wbo advertised in the paper was one and the same person. 
The advertisement stated that an apprentice would be received 
by a dressmaker and taught the trade for a small premium. 
With the memory of the scrap of conversation overheard in 
the street still ringing in my ears, I resolved that I would 
make an opportunity as soon as possible of investigadog for 
myself the conditions of life in a dressmaker's shop. 

A couple of weeks later 1 made my way to the same house, 
carrying the advertisement in my hand. 1 was admitted and 
interviewed by a stout, severe-looking woman, who spoke with 
a strong German accent. She asked me if I had done any 
work of the sort before. On being answered in the negative^ 
she declared that “apprentices were more nuisance than they 
were worth,” but added that if I could pay the premium 
down, she might take me in. I inquired how much this 
premium would be, and was informed that for £to 1 would 
be given six months’ training. The conditions wete^ that I 
must appear at eight o’clock every momin{b and work nominally 
till 8 p.mf, “but,” said the lady who was to instruct me^ “1 
don’t have no nonsense— work is work, and if a got to be 
done.” It did not requiteenuch intelligence to interinet this. 
I apprenticed myself. 

The house where I worked was situated in one of dwie 
shabby-genteel streets that abound near the Brixton Boadt • 
street in which poverty tries to hide itself bdund dean bal 
painfully cheap and mended lace curtains. 

BefiHce entering on a farther description, it wffl be wdltoklailib , 
that there are dauses in the Factory Act which lindt die |^gpf^ 
of woric for ^dren under fourteen; thnrfi aiii mhfT 
of the same Act fast protect youitg penpns tfaddr 



i«4 ^ 

^pl<^ ia a fiu:toiy. I knew these tegulation^ 
bttt dedxed to see how they worked in private places of 
employment In the house in this delectable street where I 
apprenticed myself, I discovered a sufferer totally unprotected 
by any section of the Act 

“Madame Bavard,” as I will call the German slave-driver 
who occupied this house, and with whom I made only too 
close an acquuntance, was a dressmaker in a small way. She 
employed, chiefly, apprentices who gave her a small premium, 
and worked for a certain time without wages. At the 
e]q>iTation of that period, thqr were discharged, and new 
apprentices took their places, so Madame Bavard’s income 
never failed. 

It is not with these young people, however, that I wish to 
deal, miserable as their lives undoubtedly were, for Madame 
Bavard took the utmost advantage of the long hours allowed 
her by Parliament to work her employees, and indeed we 
always worked overtime. But it is of the life of a iittle 
white-faced, worn-out child, just over fourteen, I want to write, 
who, ostensibly employed as a domestic servant had to hdp 
in the workroom when not occupied with house-work. 

She lived out, and every morning at 7 a.m., wet or flne^ 
appeared at the house. Her duties commenced by lighting 
the fire and preparing the breakfast of her mistress. After 
tidying up, work in the dressmaking-room enj^ed her until 
it was time to prepare diimer. This meal finished, and its 
consequent deaning-up done, there followed errands to shops 
for the matching of silks and ribbons; the taking home of 
finished work, and the catering for the household. Bed- 
making, scrubbing, window-cleanmj^ were the recreations of 
this ftctotnai in fke intervals of dressmaking-^ which she 
tpiled ontil fl p-n. • After this, having prepaied onr siqqper, 
An was allow^ to go home— -to reach whkli she had to 



tmornen wbo TRRorlt ant wbo Tnuep 185 

traverse a low neighbourhood For all this drudgery, she 
was rewarded with the auniiicent sum of two shillings a 
week and her Yood. 

The hours she actually spent in the business of the ** work- 
shop” did not exceed those prescribed by the law, which 
takes no cognisance of time given to domestic work : besides^ 
having just pased the age of fourteen, she was liable under the 
clauses of the “ Domestic Workshop ” sections of the Factory 
Acts, to work from 6 a.m. till 9 p.m. — the hours permitted 
for those under eighteen. Imagine such hours of work for 
girls I I tried to help the little creature when possible, but 
was kept so hard at work that I had little time to do anything 
beside sewing. 

It has been realised in America that the creation of a 
public sentiment must precede any reform, and to this end 
an Association — the Consumers’ League, to which I have 
referred — is working in New York City. It was formed 
with the object of rousing customers to a sense of re- 
sponsibility for the treatment of workers, and also to enforce 
obedience to the State Factory Law. Under the “Sweat- 
shop” Law of the State of New York, the manufacture of 
articles of wearing apparel is now specifically forbidden in 
any tenement house without a license. For this, application 
must be made to a Factory Inspector, who, after ascertaining 
by inspection that the premises are in a clean and sanitary 
condition, grants such license. 

In England, not only is there lio license necessary, but no 
lists need be kept by employers of outside workers, unless “so 
required by the Secretary of State.” So that the inspecdpa 
of these “domestic workshops” depends upon the order df 
the Seaetary of State. 

This half-hearted measure goes far towards eq^ato^; 
the eastedoe of the many . fevet*dens of the Bast 



itfi m SOttI 

under a different system, would be summarily 

dosed. 

Vi^thin a stone’s-throw of the inn chosen by Chaucer as the 
sbuting'place of his pilgrims, may be found a nest of the 
rilest courts in London. One morning I passed under an 
archway which leads from Tabard Street, on my way to 
inves%ne what I consider to be the very worst form of home 
industry that ever existed in this or any other country. An 
industry so bad that it attracts only the most destitute and 
hopdess, and them only at certain seasons of the year, and 
these most submit to the fate which forces them to toil for 
foreigners. 

For-polling is a terrible means for keeping body and soul 
together at any time ; in the warm weather it is unbearable ; 
therefore many who are driven to the filthy trade in the 
winter by want of food and lack of rent, desert it entirely in 
the summer, and seek more wholesome employment in the 
orchards and hop - fields of adjacent Kent. The 'trade is 
almost entirely in the hands of foreigners — ^Jews mostl]^— and 
diey give out the work “on contract” to poor English 
workers. I do not personally know any foreigners engaged in 
die actual work. 

Ifare- skins and rabbit- skins are collected all over the 
country by dealers^ and most of these find their way to this 
part of Londoa Many skins of this class are also imported 
from Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. 

Aftar they are plucked and cleaned, they are made up 
into bales under hydraulic pressure^ and sent off to the 
manufoeturing centres. 

Tha woric of a fiir-puUer oonrists in removing the lpn{b 
coarse hairs tom the skins, allowing the sof^ down4ike fur to 
Ninainf : Hi|i» is made into felt. Nodiinft hosrei^, is wasted. 
Thi eearie hair that is jtom out is used to stuff dmf 



tmornen wDo Tnioi^ ittd Meep 187 

mattresses, and the skin itsdf is boOed down to make glue 
and size. 

After much inquiry, 1 at last found the home of a fiir- 
puller. She occupied a small, four-roomed cottage hidden 
away in a dark alley — a pestilentia, place ind^ 1 On either 
side, the houses were overtopped by huge factory buildings 
which backed on to the cottages and shut them out ftom 
sunshine and fresh air. Perhaps it was for this reason that 
the place was chosen : fur-pullers object to too much air, the 
slightest draught makes their work almost impossible. It 
drives the fine hair and fluff vnth which the work-places of 
these people is impregnated into their eyes, nostrils, and lungs. 
It is in this impalpable dust that the chief danger of this 
unsavoury occupation lies, bronchial catanh and “fur fever" 
are two diseases which attack the young worker, and are 
caused by inhaling this “ fluff” and dust. 

When I entered the cottage, I at once became acquainted 
with this distressing feature of the trade. The fluff was 
everywhere, on the floor, walls, ceilings, and staircases. The 
place also reeked with the sickly smell of decaying skbs, 
which was so nauseating, that when I got into the room where 
the “ pulling " was actually being done, I felt, for a moment, 
as if I could not breathe. Not only did the fine hair mid 
dust enter my lungs at every breath, but the overpowering 
stench arising from the skins, that w«fe heaped everyw h ere ^ 
made me almost sick. £9dns were piled upon the tablt^ ont- 
wbich also stood some crodmry, denoting that food had bi^ 
taken recently in this horrible place. In the comer stood a 
miserable bed — on whidi also was piled a heap of skins— anff 
in the midst of all this filihy horror a little bal^lay ftst asle^ 

To prevmt dtaui^t, the window was tightly dosed^ an^fb# 
the sime reason die door had been fllint b^ 

In this room three women were worldng* T^Sy isife^ 



i88 tEbe Soul Ainket 

OB low stools with a rough wooden trough in front of them. 
By the side of each was piled a number of skins ; those on 
which they worked were held in the left hand and between 
the knees, while the right hand grasped a short knifi^ and on 
the thumb was worn a kind of guard fastened like a finger- 
stall Seizing the long, coarse hairs between the thumb and 
the edge of the knife, with a wrench they were tom out, and 
thrown into the trough in front. Afterwards, this hair is 
carefiilly collected and taken to the factory. Sixty skins are 
supposed to produce two pounds of “fluff,” as this hair is 
called. The pay for this work, notwithstanding its unpleasant 
nature, is extremely poor. An experienced puller can only earn 
about one and sixpence a day when engaged on some 
of the skins; a bundle of sixty is called a “turn,” and the 
pullers receive from sevenpence to one and sixpence a 
“turn.” The average price paid is about elevenpence or a 
shilling. For “furriners,” as the Australian and New Zealand 
furs are called, a slightly higher rate is given, as they take 
longer to “pull" , 

The women have to provide their knives and finger-guards 
from their wages, and the occasional sharpening of the knives 
IS also paid for by the workers. The work is taken home at 
midday, and is paid for on delivery. 

It ’ is a wretched, ill-paid, unhealthy trade. May Heaven 
help those engaged in it I Many fur-pullers, however, do not 
co4sider their trade unhealthy. “Uncomfortable at first, but 
you soon get used to it,” one woman said. “Dust I lor, we 
don’t mind that. We eats it, drinks it, and sleeps on it,” said 
another. “ And die on it,” she might have added. 

“Peofde employing others in this trade ought to be 
prosecuted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animal^” said a man from whom I inquired the way to the 
home of a fiir-puller. 



Momen wbo VRotft Sates wbo TOeep 189 

There is an industry, however, which brings some beauty 
into the lives of those engaged at it— albeit their purses may 
be no heavier than those of others who have enlisted our 
sympathies. 

Artificial flower-making, as practised in France, becomes an 
art ; in England it is too often a bondage, and rarely more 
than a poorly-paid trade. A Parisian girl wishing to learn 
this business is taught something of botany, and studies 
natural flowers, to gain a knowledge of their structure and 
tints. She learns to copy faithfully every part of a flower — 
leaf, bud, and blossom. Herein probably lies the secret of 
French supremacy in this particular line. For years the world 
has looked to France for artificial flowers. Only once during 
the last half century has she disappointed her clients, and that 
was during the dark days of the Franco-Prussian War, when 
Paris was besieged, and London became the centre of the 
artiflcial flower trade. That was a golden time for English 
manufacturers ! Prosperity, however, in this line did not last 
The lack of taste and talent in England enabled France to 
recover the trade directly the war was over, and in London it 
fell away to what we now find it, a second-rate and poorly- 
paid one. 

I am aware that a healthy intoest is at present being taken 
in this industry, and that several firms are endeavouring to 
raise the tone of the English flower market. It is to be hoped 
they will succeed; for the making of artificial flowers is • 
trade pre-eminently suited to women and home-work. 

I have two young friends in Islington, who earn a living it 
this trader and it was to them I went, whyn seeking to eiiter 
the “Profession.” A description of their home and maimer 
of working may be interesting. They are cousins 
together, occup^g two unfurnished rooms, for which Amy 
pay seven shillings a wedc. One room th^ use as a bediedlli^ 



t9o laie Soitl Aiclii: 

the <Mlier ai a sitting and work room. They are employed by 
a wholesale firm whose business premises are. situated at 
CHerkenwell. As they are very clever and very diligent^ they 
earn a fiurly good living. Their day commences about 7.30 
a.m. Having cooked and eaten their breakfast, they start 
work, adhering to the same hours they used to keep in the 
days when they both made fiowers in a factory, although, as 
they point out, they really work fewer hours now, because 
they spend no time going to or coming firom business. 

My friends are chiefiy engaged in cheap rose-making ; this 
is the best paid branch of that class of work, and only clever 
hands are engaged upon it. It is paid for at the rate of two 
and siipence a gross, and each flower must have leaves, and at 
least one bud. Out of this money glue has to be provided, as 
well as several other necessary odds and ends. 

By working hard for about ten hours a day, they are able, 
each, to earn an average of fifteen shilling a week. Not an 
enormous sum for an artistic trade that requires skill' and 
patience I ^ 

Through their introduction I became acquainted with a poor 
woman who worked on the dieapest and commonest kinds 
of artificial flowers, assisted by a crippled daughter. Their 
home was one of the neatest, brightest little places I have ever 
seen amongst the poor homes I have visited. As is usual 
with the respectable poor, it contained two rooms. I have 
generally found that where a number of persons are content 
to live in one room without an effort to->acquite mote^ it is 
^er that they have pot themselves into bondage with the 
publican and money-lender, and have lost all ambition and 
strength of character, or they live in a neighbourhood where 
the prq^tety is in the hands of dishonest landlords— aliens 
mostly. It is no^ however, always poverty that drives a 
family into one room— a cabinet-maker who did small woric pt 



tmomen wbo iaom tub Banes wbo TUleep i9> 

hom^ regularly moved into one room in the winter, “because 
he did not like to go to bed in the cold.” It did not seem to 
occur to the man that a fire in the bedroom would have 
obviated this inconvenience— had he given up his beer, be 
could have afforded the fire and two rooms. 

To return to the widow and her daughter: as I say, tbqr 
occupied two rooms, one of which they used as their work* 
place: The afternoon I called on them, this room looked 
quite gay with the coloured material on which they were 
working. The daughter was seated on a sofii, surrounded 
with pillows, busily engaged making bunches of violets — ^this 
is the worst paid of all the branches — she received i^. only 
for a gross of blossoms. It was interesting to watch the 
thin white fingers of this poor crippled ^rl deftly forming 
the pretty blooms, while her mother occupied herself in 
making cornflowers, paid for at the rate of one and sixpence a 
gross. By working early and late, they were able to earn about 
fifteen shillings a week, and had but one complaint — trade 
was slack I “ We had to sit idle two days last week,” said 
the daughter, with a wan smile. 

*' I don’t know,” said the mother, “ if they will ^ve me any 
more out this week when I take these back. We don’t mind 
if we can earn enough to pay the rent ; it takes such a little 
to keep us, and anything is better than the ' big house.’ ” 

I have found that the fear of the big house — that it^ the 
Union — ^is a large factor in modem commercialism. To take 
work at any price j».ther than go into the workhouse is the 
resolve of many a poor work^ apd the empl(^tf often titles 
on thi% and endeavours to find out just how low he can cpt 
the price before his employ^ is forced into the Union. 

The Saturday morning after, when I called on mf poor 
friends^ I found them in great distress. The noth^ jhad 
t|l(an the Sewers to the ftctmy, but bad uitfmahuwlplf 



19* mSottlAarnet 

offended the forewoman, whose duty it is to tid:e in and 
examine the flowers made by the outworkers. This person 
had spitefully refused to pass more than half the poor woman’s 
work, therefore she bad returned home with scarcely any 
money, as from the amount due to her for the work accepted, 
there had to be deducted the cost of the material used on the 
flowers which were condemned. 

Both mother and daughter were in tears. I determined to 
help them, and after a deal of persuasion I induced the mother 
to return with me and interview her employer. We insisted 
on seeing this gentleman. I put the flowers before him and 
asked him to point out in what way they were defective. He 
proved to be not altogether an unreasonable man. After 
demurring, not so much at the quality of the work, as on the 
grounds of his having “ to keep up the authority of the fore- 
woman, don’t you know ! ” he finally passed the work himself, 
and the widow got her mite. 

In this trade, as in many others of the same class, the 
&cilities for employing children is a great temptation tjp the 
poor home-worker. School is often neglected, and the School 
Board visitor is met with every excuse arid subterfuge imagin- 
able. “ If the kids don’t help, I can’t make both ends meet,” 
is a remark one often hears. And Tommy and Lizzie, the 
home-worker’s babies, become conscripts in the army of 
labour at an age when the children of the rich have barely 
started at the kindergarten class. 

If one visits the streets in the houses of which much home- 
work is being done, one will only notice — during the interval 
of school-time — ^the smallest children playing ; the others are 
busy helping to earn their dinners. 

An amusing story is told of a little girl froin Hoxton, who 
saw teal roses for the first time^ and wanted to know who 
made them. Being told " God,” she answered that ** Gawd 



TRIlomen wbo Motlt anb JSabea wbo Meep 193 

made better flowers than her Aunt Poll ; 'spects He has more 
time to stick ’em together.” 

Take, for instance, match-box making. Few fingers are too 
old and few too tiny to help the match-box maker ; children 
and old people, therefore, are engaged in this occupation 
perhaps more than in any other. It is a trade that requires 
but little training, and is very quickly learned. Much dili- 
gence and industry — but little skill — is required to earn a 
scanty livelihood. The pay for this work is so mean that an 
adult, unassisted by children, could not earn a living, and few 
makers work without this help. This industry is the last 
resource of the very poor, and the first occupation of their 
children. 

That matches are too cheap, is the verdict of every person 
to whom I have spoken on the subject. No one would mind, 
as far as I can discover, if matches cost twice as much as they 
do now. If twice as much was paid for box-making, the lives 
of many poor women and numbers of children would be 
rendered more endurable. Matches are cheapened at the 
cost of human happiness. Weary, ill-fed women, and mirth- 
less, playless children — ^these are the prices to be added to 
the cheap box. of matches. 

Some economists tell us that we cannot pay more for our 
match manufacture because of foreign competitors, that we 
have to sell matches cheap, not because the consumers will 
not pay more, but because the foreign manufacturer supplies 
his so cheaply.. If this is so, the sooner some check is put 
upon this dumping, so that the trade may be in a position to 
pay a living wage to those engaged in it, the better it will be 
for many of our women and children. 

My friend, Mrs. R., is a match-box maker, and she lives in 
a small street near Bow Road. She is a married woman with 
five, children. Her husband describes himself as a casual 



" cdnfinned 

l|«jipj>orts%^ielf anl childi^ by her 
' ^et^^usband earns bi^ littl^ and what 
'{^hhplhis is spent ifi* beer and tobacco. ‘Mrs. R. rmts three 
ij^ms for she shillings { 0 ^ week. In one room a lodger sleeps 
#ith iliv ctf her Ijoys ; for this- accommodation he pays two 
whMhtgii a wedct thus reducing her rent to four shillings. Her 
aveirage earnings, when all her children are well, she estimates 
to be about fourteen shillings a week. 

** It runs a bit more when the children ’ave their 'olida3rs,” 
was one of her remarks. I took a room in a house next to 
hers and joined her for a little time at her trade. 

The daily work in this house commenced as early as 6.30 
a.m. A little work was done and then breakfast had to be 
prepared. We did not fare sumptuously. Weak tea, bread 
and treacle for the children, and bread and margarine for the 
elder ones. This eaten, the children went off to school and 
the man to ** loaf.” Mrs. R. and I worked at box-making all 
the morning. Any tidying up or domestic duties were left to 
the children to do. 

A short time after twelve noon, the little ones used to return 
from school One of the tables was cleared of the materials 
used in the box-making, and a meagre dinner hurriedly pre- 
pared and placed upon it — prepared not by the woman, for 
she had to continue working, but by one of the elder children. 
After bolting their food, these victims of toil began work at 
once. The dinner usually consisted of bread and cheese. 
On rare occasions there was a bit of bacon or fried fish ; at 
times, in the winter, the children told me they fetched soup 
from a neighbouring charitable institution. Very little time 
was spent over meals in this house : the table was cleared, 
and the children continued work until the last minute before 
departing for school The youngest, a tot of five years old, 






THE matchmaker’s HOME — BABES WHO TOIL. 





THE OLD CLOTHES MARKET AT ROME, WHERE INTENDING EMIGRANTS FIND THEIR OUTFITS. 




TPOlomen wbo TRnorft an^ Balb^ wbo Weep 19s 

"’elped muwer” by pressing down the pasted tissue-paper 
which is fastened round the boxes to keep them together. 

Every one of the family, except the lazy father, had his or 
her particular work to do on the boxes. The mother folded 
the material into shape, and put on the printed paper ; another 
made the "drawer,” as the inside is called. One of the 
biggest children fastened on sand-papers on which the thatch 
is struck. This is the work that the little ones most object 
to, " it 'urts yer fingers so ! ” Poor little fingers, that ought to 
have been making daisy-chains, or picking meadow Sowers on 
those warm June days I was with them working — or rather 
slaving — for existence in a hot, stuffy room. 

One of the very smallest of the children “ boxed op,” as 
fitting the "drawers” into the “covers” is called. This 
is absolutely wasted labour, because they have to be separated 
in the factory before they can be filled. Match-box makers in 
factories are not asked to do this, but home workers axe 
obliged to deliver theirs so fitted. 

The price that Mrs. R. was paid for her work is the pnce 
that rules throughout the trade — z^d. per gross. Think of it l 
s88 separate articles, from the drawer to the cover, to be 
handled for 2 Jd ! The price is monstrous I Even the deft 
fingers of this woman could not earn a penny an hour unless 
she was assisted by her children, and then, all she could 
hope to make was about twopence an hour. Out of this, she 
had to provide fire to dry the boxes, paste for fastemiig, and 
hemp to bind the boxes up in parcels when finished, for that 
is how they must be delivered at the factory. Then there is 
the time taken op in cariying the finished work there, the 
waiting while the parcels are counted and| the work examined, 
and for fresh work to be given out Mrs. R. was known as a 
"steady hand.” She always returned h^r work at the tine 
she was asked to do, therefore she obtained rq;nlar employ* 



Vbe Soul Aarltet 


196 

ment — ^but what, an employment 1 A veritable life of slavery. 
No time for motherhoodi affection, or pleasure. life one 
continual struggle, with the wolf ** Hunger ” ever on her very 
hearth-stone I Home a factory, her children human machines, 
deprived of all that makes child-life rosy and bright, their 
health undermined by long hours spent in the close confine- 
ment of overfull rooms — work, school, and work again till 
bed-time — that was the daily routine. 

<< We’ve got to work, or we will starve,” Mrs. R. impressed 
on me. Why? Well, perhaps first, because there is no law 
to compel men of the drunken, loafing type of this father, 
to work and support their families in a proper manner. 
Secoodiyf because of the curse of the foreign competition 
mkkb forces the wages of this industry down below a living 
margin. 

Surely it is a disgrace to our civilisation that any commodity 
should be produced at the expense of the health, strength, 
and happiness of frail women and children, who have to work 
long hours at a starving wage, in order that the conSiumer 
may be supplied at a cheap rate. 

Oh, God, to think that bread’s so dear. 

And flesh and blood so cheap.” 

—Hood. 

But the child’s sob curseth deeper in the silence, 

Than the strong man in his wrath ” 

— of the Children* 

I was much struck during the descents I made into Poverty 
Kingdom to find in how many cases the distress, overwork, 
and evilly bad pay was due to the trades worked in being 
monopolised by foreigners. And then again, the utter misery 
of the lives of the workers caused by overcrowding, insanitary 
condition of the bouses, inability to claim a sufficient water 



Momen wbo Motft lln^ SSa ^0 wbo Meep 197 

supply, and all the ugly results of desperate orer-populaden 
in certain districts, was due almost entirely to the fact that 
the property in those neighbourhoods had bhen, bit by bit, 
acquired by our alien friends. 

If I have to use severe language in describing the lives 
of the poverty-stricken creatures who are engaged in home 
industries, it must not be supposed that I believe the blame 
rests with them, though I am bound to admit, sorrowfully 
enough, what will, I am sure, be acknowledged by every 
philanthropic society in England to be true, that a great d^ 
of the want and destitution is caused by the fact that the men 
who ought to be supporting healthy and happy families by 
legitimate work, spend 95 per cent, of their earnings in the 
public-house — that is, if they are earning at all, as for the 
most part, the husbands of the women engaged in home 
employments are irredeemable loafers. The public-houses 
are very often held by foreigners, though this is not by any 
means universal. But there exists an evil as great, I deem 
it, as the public-house^ which is virtually the invention and 
monopoly of aliens. This is the sister institution of the 
public-house — I speak of the pawn-shop^ of which almost 
every street boasts one. 

1 found, during my life with the home-workers, that it was 
a usual practice of these distressed and over-driven people to 
walk out with a bundle containing almost all their worldly 
possessions on the Monday morning, to leave them en their 
way to work, at the pawn-shop — from which place they were 
redeemed on Saturday evening. In return for these clothes 
and household goods, they received small sums of money, for 
which I have known them to pay lop imd even 200 per cent; 
but not being able to calculate they could never be brought 
to sea how fearfully expensive this manner of raising money 



i9t Sbe Soul Aavftet 

Among the several branches of the home industry trade 
mto which I entered for the purpose of learning the conditions 
under which people employed in them live, was that of making 
petticoats — ^the silk petticoats and blouses one sees in most 
diapers' shops in London. 

These two articles are made partly at home and partly in 
the workshops. I knew a woman who was in the petticoat 
bade, and another in the blouse-making industry. These 
workers allowed me to stay with them for a little time and find 
out how the work was done. The woman who made blouses 
lived in a room in one of the streets off the Euston Road ; 
about this locality there are a great many tailors’ shops which 
are run by Germans, Poles, and Jews. The woman lived alone 
— ^e was a widow — and she procured for me a small room 
in the same house in order that I might be able to help her 
with her work. The room was a mere cupboard made of 
match-boarding. For this den I was obliged to pay half-a- 
crown a week. The house contained fifty people. I promised 
to pay my friend two and sixpence a week for teaching nje the 
tiad^ and giving me work besides. I knew, of course, that 
I could not be a very valuable band. I settled myself in the 
room one afternoon, and spent the evening with the woman, 
turning down the hems of the endless lengths of silk frills which 
were to be sewn on to the petticoats. It was agreed that in the 
morning I was to accompany the woman to the shop^ and get 
from the *' boss ” some more work. 

The tiny room was furnished with a small stove^ upon which 
simple cooking might be done; but as long as I was there 1 
did not see the woman cook anything except a bit of bacon. 

She generally went out and got a meal "of sorts” at some 
dieap eating-house in the neighbourhood— it saved tim^ she 
said. I have descnbed these eating-houses before they are 
all mote or less alike. But what the woman always did have 



Momen wbo Motft finb SSabes wbo Weep 199 

ready was an enamelled tea-pot, full of an awful decoction she 
called tea, which rested on the stove all day and half the night, 
and was replenished with water from time to time. This drink 
the woman took while she worked. It kept her awak^ she 
said, and *' was comforting-like.” 

That night she worked till a a.m., and before I left the 
room we had folded up and made ready seven petticoats. 
Into these garments she had put literally hundreds of yards 
of stitching, providing the cotton herself, had made three 
button-holes for fastening the plaquet-hole of each one, sewing 
on three buttons to match, and putting two drawing ribbons 
into each garment. For each of these finished petticoats she 
received the magnificent sum of fourpenc^ the materials, 
except the sewing cotton, were provided, the garments and 
frills were cut out at the shop. 

Next morning we went together to the shop. The woman 
handed in her work, which was minutely examined by the 
*' boss ” himself. He gave out to her another half-dozen petti* 
coats, the cut-out silk for each being carefully folded together^ 
Then she introduced me. I was so desperately anxious to 
find out where this man was sending the garments for final 
sale^ that I forgot myself so far as to ask him where be sold 
them and for what price. I shall never forget the look he 
gave me — his fiice was absolutely distorted with passion. He 
poured forth such a volume of abuse, that I was really afraid 
he would commit some act of violence. My poor friend was 
frightened almost out of her wits. He threatened to tom us 
both out of the shop, but after a great deal of persuasion and 
humble apologies, he calmed down a little. I .expkined 1 
was anxious for work myself, and thinking that he mightn^ 
have any for m^ hoped he might be able to recommendmt 
to tile petqile with wh(Hn he dealt; Tlus seemed tp ih ft ke 
matters all right, for he gave tiie sroman tsfornttra pettiedltsfiv 



»oo Ube Sour Aarket 

me to sew, remarking politely that as “ I was such a ■*— fod,” 
1 wouldn't be able to do more, and also threatening that if 
the work was not up to the mark, she would have to pay for 
the material spoilt. The materials, I suppose, at the most 
liberal estimation, could not have cost, at wholesale prices, 
above five shillings. We took home our work. I think, even 
when I was engaged once in cutting tin during a visit to a tin 
factory, my fingers have never ached more than they did after 
sixteen hours of almost continuous work at those detestable 
petticoats. For me there was a hope of change, but for the 
other poor toiler, nothing in the world to look forward to 
but death. 

It would, of course, be extremely difficult to control this 
sort of work — the very employees themselves would endeavour 
to hide the evils of the system for fear of losing their only 
means of livelihood. It would be in such cases as these that 
the Consumers’ League would set its machinery in motion 
— follow the petticoats from the Jew’s shop back to the 
women’s rooms where they were made, and then to the^large 
houses which bought them wholesale. These garments would 
then be condemned as having been manufactured with what 
might be called the price of blood. Let us hope that no 
decent woman would purchase them. 

I found afterwards that these very petticoats made by us 
wexe sold to a large, well-known West End firm, who, in their 
turn, sold them to customers for prices ranging from fifteen 
shillings to thirty shillings. What the Jew’s profit was I am 
unable to say, but my experience with the class would con> 
vince me that he made an enormous profit on each. I have 
found that almost invariably the middleman, who is really the 
actual sweater, is a foreigner — either German or Polish. 

My next essay with the needle was when I joined forces 
with a woman who made blouses. She lived near PaddingtoO) 



TRnomen wbo Motft an^ Ba^ wbo TRlleep 

and also worked for a Jew. He had a shop in which he 
employed twenty-two women — all English — nearly all of them 
took away work to do at home besides. In the shop the 
blouses were cut out and sewn together — at home the finishing 
was done^ any trimming that might be necessary, the making 
of button-holes, putting on of buttons or hooks, and folding 
the goods. 

For work that occupied her from eight in the morning till 
eight at night, in the shop, with forty minutes for dinner in 
the middle of the day and half an hour for tea, and again the 
whole evening — except the hour that was spent in lighting her 
fire and getting some sort of meal ready, and in tidying her 
room — till one and two in the morning, my friend earned 
sixteen shillings a week. She turned out On an average from 
five to eight blouses a day. These were not of the very plain, 
cheap kind, but were made of pretty muslins and silk, were 
trimmed more or less elaborately with lace^ and sold firom six 
shillings to twenty shillings in a shop not far off. 



CHAPTER XII 


SIDS-UGHTS ON ALIEN LIFE IN LONDON 

Having returned to England from my visit to the Con- 
tinent with a great batch of immigrants from Hamburg, 
I rested a while, and then, after fulfilling some professional 
engagemeotf^ I undertook again another excursion among 
the outcast and poor. To accomplish this successfully, it was 
necessary, in a way, to get lost, to change one’s personality, 
one’s dress, one’s surroundings. This was accomplished by 
renting a room in a locality from where it was easy to sally 
forth in any guise, into the various slum districts select^ for 
purposes of investigation. In this room was stored a large 
amount of carbolic, Keating’s powder, and other disinfectants, 
and a varied assortment of old clothes to suit the difl!erent 
characters I intended to impersonate. To anyone studying 
the various grades of life in the working and submerged 
classes it will of course be apparent that one disguise would 
not effectually carry any person through the various phases. 
For instance, a factory girl is different in a hundred small 
ways^ in the fashion of her clothes, in her manner of walking 
and talking, from the girl employed in a small shop. Then 
again, a tramp is wholly different from a woman who obtains 
small jobs and seeks refuge in the various shdters. The 
coster gild has not much in common widi the labourer's 

dao^ter, and a street singer is entirely different from an 

2oa 



on lilfen Xffe in XonOon aoj 

oigan-grinder. There are infinite varieties, and any imper- 
sonation to be successful requires an intimate study of the 
class, a quick adaptation of speech, and a very decided 
dramatic instinct. Among the necessary paraphernalia for 
accomplishing these disguises were several wigs of different 
sorts specially bought and arranged, a box of theatrical paints, 
and about twelve different sets^of clothes. Before I really 
appreciated the difficulty of the undertaking, I went to several 
of the leading theatrical shops and overhauled their collec- 
tion of “costumes” for flower-girls, factory girls, and other 
characters. These I found extremely picturesque and quite 
suitable for stage wear, but absolutely useless for my purpose. 
The only thing to do, then, was either to buy the clothes from 
the different people themselves, or else to make the selection in 
old clothes' shops. An expedition into Petticoat Lane proved 
very useful to me. Many visits to Covent Garden and to the 
New Cut and other slum districts gave me a tolerably correct 
idea of what I would require and from various sources I 
managed to collect all the clothes necessary for my purpose. 
These were bought in various places — places not always 
savotiry or hygienic^ and to render them innocuous 1 had 
some boiled, and some disinfected, and all thoroughly aired. 
One of the most difficult things to manage successfully X 
found was the footgear. None of my own shoes could be got to 
present the desired appearance, and it took me days of hunting 
and manipulation before 1 got togeth^ the various of 
shoes and boots which would carry me through the journeys 
I intended to make. It must not be understood that these 
investigations were carried out consecutively, for sudi an 
undertaking would be almost impossibly the hatdsb^it 
entailed being so extreme. The way I did the work 'Wii 
to leave my things in this room and to go away for 
diqrs at a time. This was easy for me to aeoomplidi, as bs^ 



104 ‘a;f>e sotti Anrftet 

continuallj away on lecturing tours or for professional engage- 
ments, it was not an unusual thing for me to be away from 
home^ and I had two /riends who always had my address, and 
knew to within a mile or so where I might be found. When 
1 returned from the alien expedition in Europe, I was filled 
with a burning desire to make myself so completely master of 
the particulars of the subject from its various points of view, 
that I determined for a time to live in some of the alien 
quarters and also in those localities where the evils plant 
themselves upon the people, that I might know of the social 
and economic evils arising from this invasion, as well as 
any advantages that might accrue to the country or people 
from their presence among them. 

The Royal Commission of Immigration went very fully 
into the manner of life of the foreign Jews who live in the 
East End of London. Many newspaper articles have also 
been published on this subject, so that I will only give here 
accounts of the lives of a few of the immigrants now in our 
midst Every story recounted is a personal experience — not 
all were gleaned at one time, but the incidents and cases 
came within my personal knowledge while 1 was living and 
working among the London poor. 

In one of the streets of the East End, in a neighbourhood 
that is now taken up almost entirely by foreign Jews, there 
is a house where conditions obtain that are characteristic of 
parts inhabited by aliens — that this is by no means an 
isolated case, I know, but 1 prefer to speak here only of 
what I have seen. 

In this house there are several rooms which are occupied 
in the day-time, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., for purposes of 
''sweat-shop” operations. One of the rooms is about thirty 
feet long by eighteen feet wide, and in this room, when I 
blow it» there were twenty women working tm'ooats and 



Sibe«Xfdbt0 on Blton %fH in Xonbon tes 

trousers. They b^an work at eight in the morning and 
finished at 6 p.m. By 6.30 the sewing-machines in the 
room had all 'been moved to one side by the workers, the 
scraps and refuse of the day’s work were brushed away into 
corners, and pallets were laid down upon the floor. From 
about seven o’clock there began a stream of Jewish workmen, 
who were given tickets in the room below, permitting them 
to occupy these pallets from 8 p.m. till a p.m. 

At 2 p.m. these warm beds nad to be vacated for other 
workers — these were bakers, woo had been up all night 
They came in with tickets permitting them to sleep from 
3.30 to 7.30. Then the machines were brought out once 
more, the women arrived, and work began again. It is 
hardly necessary for me to describe the atmosphere of this 
room! It never was aired or unoccupied, and the women 
who worked in this hideous place had to perform their 
duties in an indescribably fetid and germ -laden air. I 
worked in this shop for two days, so I know. 

The owners of it were two Polish Jews, and the rent they 
paid for the house was almost fabulous. All 1 need say is, 
that after my knowledge of their life in their own country, 
I cannot blame them for pursuing the same occupations, 
under the same conditions, here. The fault does not lie 
with them, but is due to the non-enforcement of the sanitary 
regulations. 

1 might add here another characteristic story touching tlw 
housing problem: I made friends with a constable at the 
London Docks. He had a little house In one of the sfreets 
close by.. It was a comfortable cottage, and he had occuined 
it with his wife and two children for seven years. 1 met him 
one day, and he told me that he had been turned out oC his 
house; I gazed at him in astonishment 
* ^*But why?” 1 said. “Yoa were such a good tenant**- - 



«o« Sottl 

Itift man in his spare time had painted the woodwork of 
&« places repapered the walls, and took an infinite pride in 
his little home. 

**Ob,” he said gloomily, ‘ 4 hey got better tenants. I paid 
them only twelve shillings a week, but I improved the place, 
and added a lot of things to it; then the landlord gave me 
notice — said that the place was wanted by a foreigner, who 
was willing to pay thirty shillings a week for it.” 

In this case the incoming tenant converted the house into 
a lodging-house by night and a sweat-shop by day. Here 
were made those cheap flannelette dressing-gowns which may 
be seen in small drapers' shops in poor districts, marked from 
one shilling and ninepence to three shillings each. I got 
acquainted with one woman working there, and she told me 
that she earned threepence a day, and she worked for nine 
hours. I proved this statement to be absolutely correct. 

In many cases in these overteeraing streets the competition 
to obtain houses is so keen, that very often the tenant of a 
house will be ofiered a large sum of what is known as “ key- 
money.” For instance, two people desire the same house- 
one will hurry off to the outgoing tenant and say : *' If you 
give me the keys before you leave, I will pay you a certain 
sum as ' key-money ’ 1 ” 

This sum ranges from 30s. to ;^2o. The explanation of 
the “ key-money ” is, that as possession is nine points of the 
law,” the person who desires the house has a better chance of 
getting it from the landlord when he actually possesses the 
keys, than one who does not. The irony, however, comes in 
here: the landlord, not to be “bested” in the transaction, 
comes to the tenant and demands part of the key-money. 

The consequence of the key-money system is, that there 
Is an imloense competition among the Jews of the East End 
who- desire to become landlords for themsdves. Indeed, the 



Sibe»Xidt»t0onSUfen^!^^ *07 

rents have gone up to such an extent that persons of ordinary 
income find them prohibitive, and cannot live in the neigh* 
bourhood at all. I know houses in mean and filthy streets 
in the East End of London, whose rents are larger, in 
proportion to size, than those of houses in fashionable 
West End streets. I also know many English families I 
could name, who have been, through these circumstances, 
crushed out of the neighbourhoods they occupied, until th^ 
are living almost like beasts, herded into inconceivably small 
spaces. This is not an English characteristic ; these conditions 
are forced upon our people because there is no room for 
them. 

Foreign ideas of propriety in some of the lodging-houses 
are quite unique. If, for instance, you walk through certain 
streets at night, and if an intelligent constable, or friend who 
knows the district, is willing to conduct you, you will see 
sights that will be a revelation. I have peeped through 
windows, and seen rooms of ordinary size occupied by four or 
five families. No efforts were made to screen off portions of 
the rooms, yet the people seemed to live very contentedly. 

In one particular instance there was a father, mother, and 
grown son, making one family. A father, mother, two grown 
daughters and an infant made another family. A third 
family consisted of two sisters and a boy lodger; eleven 
persons all occupying the same room at night. 

I used to visit a family in a very poor district of London, 
who were well conducted and decent people. The father, H 
is true, spent far more than he ought to have done upon 
drink, which entailed upon the mother much harder work 
than would otherwise have been necessary. They had fiMir 
little children, three boys and a girl, of whom they were 
proud. The children were Intelligent and healthy, althmigh 
they lived’itt far from ideal oonditions. The ftmfiy had doty 



so8 lEbe SotH Aftrftet 

two XOOQI8 in a tenement houses where there was but one 
eommon staircase. Into this house came, one' day, what may 
be called a flood of aliens ; twenty Italians came in and rented 
the two vacant rooms in the building. These people had but 
lately come into the country, and they had, as is usual, 
numbers of children. 

These little creatures were filthily dirty and diseased, 
otherwise they were odd, bright, attractive children. IVhat 
happened, however, was that they grew friendly with these 
four children of English parents, and three weeks after, all 
four of these children had ringworm, and one of them had 
caught some disease of the eyes, which eventually caused her 
to lose one of them altogether. From what I have seen in 
India, I think it must have been a sort of severe ophthalmia; 
but I am not an expert in eye diseases ; I only know that the 
poor little girl suffered dreadfully. 

I am acquainted with some Italians who make their 
living by organ-grinding, street-trading, ice-cream vending, 
and such occupations, who are, as far as they go, (juiet and 
respectable people — ^personally, I like them very much. It is 
true, their ideas of hygiene are not what one might expect in 
an enlightened country ; but after my experience in Italy, I 
am quite willing to forgive them. That one of my ice-cream 
fnends makes his ice-cream in the family’s one living-room, 
and stores it under his bed, is not wrong to his way of 
thinking. The milk is obtained from a little shop in the 
neighbourhood, where it is exposed for as long as may be in 
a window open to the dusty street, and the ice-cream that is 
left over after the day’s work is stored, with a good amount 
of ice, under the family bed, and is retailed next morning 
before the new supply is touched. 

My next story is concerned with two Poles, who bought a 
null tailor’s sho;^ not in the East End at all, but in a little 



Side*Sidbt» en ttuett fn Xonbon >09 

street off Fulham Road. These men were tailors by pro- 
fession. The former owners of the shop had been an 
Englishman and his wife — ^the man died, and the woman 
went away into the country after selling her shop to these 
two foreigners. I happened to know two sisters who were 
employed in this shop and lived not very far off. One of 
them had earned sixteen shillings a week, and the other from 
twelve shillings to fourteen shillings, according to the state of 
trade. They had one room, which was kept in apple-pie 
order ; they were devoted to each other, and were thoroughly 
good, hard-working girls — ^both English. 

When the two Poles came into possession of the shop— they 
were not Jews, by the way — they changed the whole miuage. 
It is true that they gave these girls the option of working on 
at six shillings a week each, considering it splendid pay; 
when they refused, they put in their own people, and the 
girls lost their occupation, when times were bad and work was 
hard to get. 

I give here a table of wages which can be accepted as 
coming from an authoritative source, and will throw some light 
on what Italians look for on coming to this country : 

Brass workers, average pay per day, is. 6d. 

Founders, ss. 6d. 

Machinists, ss. 3d. 

Masons, ss. 3d. 

Carpenters, ss. 3d. 

Workers in chemical products, as. 6d. 

Workers in cotton, is. 3d. 

Workers in wool, IS. 4d. 

Miners, is. 3d. 

Farm labourers undm’ contract 8d. 

Fann labourers not under contract S^. 

0 



: F«rw kbourm not under contract in rammer, rod. 
labourers in hanrest-tim^ as. 3d. 

Women workers in silk, 6d. 

Women workers in cotton, rod. 

Women workers in wool, rod. 

Women workers in country, 5d. 

In Italy such wages would enable the labourers to live in 
fair comfort according to their ideas. In England, where rent 
is h^h and food dear, the wages mean a low standard of 
living, and such unfair competition with British labour, that 
ugly results to our own people follow. 

The Royal Commission on Alien Immigration bad much 
conflicting evidence to deal with, but on the labour question 
the following paragraph is included in their report : 

" Leaving the skilled labour market out of the question, we 
think it proved that the industrial conditions under which a 
large number of aliens work in London, &U ^below the 
standard which ought, alike in the interests of the workmen 
and the community at large, to be maintained.” 

Later on the following remwks appear : 

“ It must be recognised that the majority of these aliens 
arrive in this country in a state of comparative poverqr. For 
the most part they make their way to certain portioiu of the 
East End of London.' Here they find an insufficient house 
accommodation, and so being unwilling to leave the locality, 
they are housed under conditions most unfavourable to 
cleanliness and good sanitation. 

“ But as time proceeds, many these men rater upon a 
difietei^phase of existrace. With the poesesaiba dT greater 



Sf5e«Xfdlii ettltifeit tn Xonbon m 

■kill and knowledge, their earnings increase, and they are 
able to improve their modes of life. The balance of 
evidence before as is favourable to the aliens after they have 
reached this stage. They appear to be industrious and thrifty. 
One of the complaints against them is that their hours of 
labour are too long, and that their tendency is to grow rich.” 

Embodied in the report is a list of various classes of 
immigrants regarded as undesirable — criminal, diseased, 
weak-minded, and so on. If legislation were put in force to 
debar these from our shores, little or no complaint would be 
made. 

With regard to the pauper alien, the problem is different 
and it is with regard to him that the chief point with which 
the Alien Question concerns itself is raised. On the one 
hand, it is contended that a good and thrifty citizen, even if 
he be a poor one, is useful to any country ; on the other, that 
the lowering of the market value of labour must be bad for 
those who have to make their living by labour. It cannot, 
however, be good for a country to have its trade gradually 
slip, into the hands of foreigners, and the standard of living 
reduced to such a low level that no man can live decently, or 
bring up a fiunily in health and comfort if he happens to 
belong to a trade that is commandeered by the German Jews 
or other foreigners. For instance^ cabinet-making, which was 
once a flourishing trade, is now done almost entirely, by idiens. 
These people live together like rabbits. They fill the 
hospitals, and send their children r^larly to certain hospitals 
where they are recognised as suffering from ” mal-nutritioni” 
and given various foods and cod-liver oil. This fitct I lie'll 
from a well-known physician, who is attached to a big hoSffltiL 

Indeed, this alien pauper curse has grown to such' all 
eatent diat the public' is <M^;ed to siqipoit them tiiioitl^ 



i»»* TEbea^ 

hosintals. As in Chicago, so there are in London certain 
Itxeets and localities peopled almost entirely by foreigners, 
these strangers having " eaten out ” the original inhabitants. 
In England, however, it is the foreigner who preys on the 
native, which is perhaps a greater evil than has been shown 
to exist in America, where the native preys on the foreigner. 
The alien has always the choice of remaining in his own 
country. 

One ugly feature of the Alien Question in Britain is the 
increasing number of criminal men who live on the earnings 
of immoral women. It must not be supposed for one instant 
that the victims of these awful creatures are only women of 
their own nationality. Among the many cases which have this 
year come before the police courts, a large percentage of the 
women victimised by men of this class have been English. 
Most workers among girls and women in England — that is to 
say, ladies belonging to the Metropolitan Association for 
Befriending Young Servants, members of the Travellers’ Aid 
Society, or of the Girls’ Friendly Society, or of forking 
Girls’ Clubs, would be able to corroborate from personal 
experience the assertion, that in encouraging an indiscrimi- 
nate number of undesirable aliens to enter this country, we 
are putting a premium on some of the most dastardly and 
insidious forms of vice. There are to-day in London scores 
of girls who, but for these hideous foreign vampires, would be 
following decent employment in domestic service, or other 
spheres of usefulness. I give two cases out of many that have 
come under my own personal knowledge of this traffic in 
English girls. 

There was sent to me one day, with a recommendation from 
an office where she had applied for work, a young girl who 
was starting life as a typewriter. She had been educated in 
a convent school in the country, and was absolutdy innocrat 



St^e•Xf^bt0 on BUen Xlfe in Xonbon 

of any evil. I was not able at that time to find her a post/ 
but gave her several letters to offices in the city where I knew 
many girl clerks were employed. She was not successful 
in obtaining immediate employment, though one firm promised 
to engage her at the end of six weeks, as a clerk of their own 
was leaving to be married. Then this girl did what thousands 
of girls in London and other large cities do every day. She 
went to a free library to look through the advertisements in 
the papers. In one leading London daily she found an 
advertisement offering good wages and permanent employment 
to a young girl. An address was given in the city where the 
applicants were invited to attend personally. This girl went 
immediately. In a little top-storied room in an obscure back 
lane, two foreign scoundrels were waiting for their victims. 
They received the girl very pleasantly, and she found that 
there had been many applicants, and three young girls were 
waiting for an interview at that moment. She was taken into 
an inner room, and it was explained to her that the position 
offered was in Antwerp. She was to have a week 
and everything found ; and she was to sign a paper binding 
herself to be ready to leave for her post on a certain date. 
The child was so overjoyed at the liberality of the salary 
offered, and so carried away with the idea of going abroad and 
seeing the world, that she signed the paper. Two days after, 
the woman with whom she was living, who was also known to 
accompanied the girl, who came to say good-bye. I might 
mention here that she was an orphan, and had to depend on 
herself for earning a living. 

When I heard this story, and the promise offered, I 
inquired at once as to whether anyone had guaranteed the 
faith of these men at Antwerp. Of course such a questum 
had never entered the girl’s bead. She had made no ipquiriii 
•whatever, vbut bad believed everything to be 



1*4 trt)e«<mCAai^ 

on tHat strength of an advertisement Both the woman with 
whom she was staying and I pointed out to her that she 
m 4 ;ht be robbed or murdered, if she went abroad alone with* 
out protection. She was in genuine distress, for she had 
signed the paper and was to start in three days’ time. 
However, I persuaded her to allow me to make inquiries 
about these men and their iond Jldes, and had to promise that 
in case of her losing the appointment through my interference^ 
I would keep her until she could get some other post It is 
hardly necessary to give details of the result of the inquiry; 
suffice it to say that the men were able to give no guarantee at 
all, and inquiries at Antwerp proved that they had no office or 
standing in that city whatever. Indeed, one of the men was 
a known bad character. They would have decoyed away this 
girl, who was sixteen years of age, and probably have flung 
her out into the street to earn money for them. 

A case, also of traffic of this sort, which goes on constantly 
in London, was told me by a young governess. She also 
answered an advertisement. The post was represented^to be 
that of governess to an only child. The child’s mother, 
the advertisement stated, was dead, and the father required 
a young, accomplished, very bright and good • tempered 
governess-companion for his child. The girl was met in a 
good house in a well-known square by a lady who was very 
fashionably dressed, but who smelt strongly of drink ; also she 
was painted and appeared to have dyed her hair. The girl 
instantly became doubtful, but was reassured when the lady 
informed her that she was the gentleman’s sister, and was 
commissioned by him to interview the applicant for the 
portion. She said that she liked this applicant and would 
ofibr h«r a salary of ;^75 a year and everything found, end 
added that the position was a most comfortable and desiiible 
doe It was ^^ecessaiy, however, that tiw qipUeehe diould ' 



Si^e«Xf^bt 0 on Slfen X4fe in Xonoon atr 


take up the work the very next day, as the little girl would be 
coming up from the country, and her father did not wish her 
to be alone. The governess said she would let them know by 
that evening’s post whether she would accept the position. 
The lady appeared dissatisfied, and said she could not remain 
in uncertainty. As everyone knows, it is no easy matter for 
a governess to obtain a post carrying so good a salary; the 
labour market is overcrowded with women seeking every 
conceivable kind of work. The girl had a mother and two 
young brothers who were partly dependent on her exertions ; 
she hesitated a few mjnutes and then accepted the place, 
agreeing to come back the next evening. According to 
promise she arrived the next day, and was shown into a 
splendid suite of apartments. There were three rooms, 
opening one into the other, and she was told that one was to be 
hers. She noticed that there was no door between her room 
and the next, which seemed a large dressing-room, an open 
archway with a curtain between was the only partition. She 
hastily took oS her things and went downstairs, where she 
was met by another woman, whose appearance and general 
characteristics seemed to be much the same as those of the 
lady she had seen the day before. The girl asked her where, 
her charge was, and was told that the little girl had not yet 
arrived. Then she asked the lady where the gentleman’s 
sister was. 


*'Oh,” said the woman, “she is gone to fetch his daughter 
fixmi the country.” 

It grew dusk, and still there was no sign of the little girl nor 
of the woman the governess had seen first, neither were t^e 
any servants visible. The poor girl went up to her room and 
began unpacking a few of her things, when presently a fqjGt 
Sidd; 


^ ^‘Ifa^Ionneinl^ 



tEI>e Sottl iDarftet 

Hardly knowing what she did, she said "Yes,” and a 
f<»ejgn man entered the room. The girl was not a little 
startled, and when he explained that he was her employer, she 
said she would rather see him downstairs. 

The man said : “ Oh, very well,” and left her. 

Then instantly some instinct seemed to warn the girl that 
she had placed herself in a very dangerous position. She 
remembered that she had seen no servants, and grew almost 
hysterical as she pictured to herself the hopelessness of her 
position, if indeed she had been trapped. 

However, she went downstairs and found both the man 
and woman in the dining-room, where cake and wine were 
placed on the table. They asked her to have some refresh- 
ment^ which she declined. She realised that if she was ever 
to get out of that house she would have to keep absolutely 
calm and give no hint of the fears that possessed her. Both 
the man and woman indulged in coarse remarks and jokes ; 
they appeared to be on very friendly terms, and when the 
governess asked her when her charge was to appear, the mao 
said: 

“Oh, she'll be here quick enough, my dear; don’t he in 
a hurry, you shall see her to-morrow morning.” 

“To-morrow morning 1” said the girl. “1 was told she 
was to be here this evening.” 

“Ah, but she has missed the train,” said the man. 

Then in a careless manner, as if to dispel their suspicion 
the girl laughed and said : “Oh, well, 1 shall just go -upstairs 
and Write a letter.” 

She went to her room and hastily took an envelope out of 
her box, scribbled an address on it, stamped it, and putting 
on her hat, hurried downstairs again. In the hall she met 
the man, who offered to post her letter for her. She; how* 
ever,,, declued that she would rather post it herself ss she. 



Si^*%iQf)t§ on Alien Xife in XonOon >17 

would take a walk round the square. The man informed 
her that he did not like the women of bis house to do those 
things themselves. 

It was growing dusk, and a horrible terror seized on the 
girl that he would refuse to let her out of the house; but she 
assured him she was accustomed, always before the evening 
meal, to take a- quarter of an hour’s exercise, and she would 
just post the letter and come back. Very reluctantly the 
man let her out The girl went to the pillar-box, and then 
walked from there to the nearest police-station, where she 
explained that she had Ibeen obliged to leave her luggage in 
this house and desired to get home. She had, of course 
absolutely no case to make out against the people, but the 
inspector to whom she spoke seemed in no way astonished 
at her plight He asked the number of the house and con* 
suited with some other policeman, and then turning up a 
book, said : Ah, yes ; I have been watching that place for . 
some time.” It seemed that the owner, a Belgian, bore a 
very bad character, and kept several women — or rather tbqr 
kept him. But his affairs were managed in such a careful 
and cunning manner that it was months before any definite 
charge could be made against him. 

The dangers that menace young girls ffi the great cities ot 
Britain are increased a thousandfold by the unrestricted infiux 
of aliens of evil character. 

There are^me localities in London which are almost 
entirely foreign; indeed, some places are so alien in thmt 
characteristics that one might fiuicy oneself in anothot 
country on entering them. 

To-day, the Brick Lane end of Wentworth Street, White^ 
chapel, is one of the most un-English spots in the Britiilh 
Isles. On finding oneself there^ it irordd require but EtfiKii 
imagination to beUeve (meself in aome ^ 



-n8 

sights^ and incidentally the smells, are -so utterly 

didet^t .to those found in purely English slums. Which- 
ever way one turns, one sees nothing but foreign figures 
and hears nothing but foreign tongues. Fur-capped Russians 
tub shoulders with whiskered Hollanders; Jews from the 
Levantine mingle with their brethren newly arrived from the 
snows of Siberia. Here stands a bearded Jew, with the fiice 
and figure of a Raphael cartoon. . There is a woman selling 
lemons ; her shawl enwraps die face of a Botticelli Madonna. 
Thick-lipped "Fagins” and grey-haired philosophers, pretty 
faces and hook-nosed ugliness; nowhere perhaps in the 
whole of England can one see so varied or so picturesque 
a crowd. 

All these strange folks, be they ugly or beautiful, are bent 
on business. Every person one sees b either buying or 
selling. Rows of men stand hawking lemons; others sell 
onions, carrying them in long strings round their necks. 
Here comes a man calling out, in jargon, something that 
sounds like “sock o* lolly.” He carries a pail; l^k in it 
and you will see green gherkins floating in a mysterious 
liquid. Over there stands a grey-whiskered man surrounded 
with barrels of salted Dutch herrings. He thrusts his dirty 
hands into one of the barrels and brings out a handful of 
the fish, which he displays on a board on the top of one of 
his barrels, the while extolling his wares in the language of 
David. Here and therei, at the side of the kerb, are heaped 
piles of fusty old clothes, surrounded by stooping women 
and girls, turning over the bundles, seeking bargains. 

Barrows full of old boots and shoes stand next to Uiose, 
filled up with strange-looking bread stuffs, made in every kind 
of shape and colour conceivable. Gaudy splashes of odour 
are given to the markm by barrows heaped widt remnants of 
•yk, which ^k-eyed Jewesses examine iatersat Iveqp 



on BUen X 4 fe in Xon^on 319 

touse in the street is a shop, and in every shop there is a Jew. 
The whole gamut of petty business seems to be carried on in 
this thoroughfare — from the retfuling of cheap and shoddy 
jewellery to the vending of fried fish. In one shop is sold 
nothing but pickled cucumbers. There is a shop, little more 
than a hole in the wall, bung round with bullocks' offal, an 
awful-looking spot indeed. Some shops are stocked with 
curious -looking sacks of beans and peas; ethers retail 
scarcely anything but foreign-looking cheese. 

The prevailing note of the place is frankly foreign. The 
very costers pushing their barrows full of indifferent firuit and 
fish call attention to their wares with foreign cries. Little 
children trip along singing nursery songs learnt in some far-off 
land. The walls of the bouses are covered with Hebraic or 
Yiddish placards. The goods in the shops are marked with 
Hebrew prices. Here, fixed on the door-post of a closed 
butcher’s shop, is an order in Yiddish, issued by the Board 
of Sechedin, the body that takes on the management of the 
slaughtering of animals according to the Talmudic law. 
Could you but read it, you would learn that this body warns 
the orthodox Jew from purchasing anything at the closed 
butcher’s shop over the way, the botcher having been dis- 
covered iti the act of selling meat that was not Kosher — ^that 
is, the flesh of animals that had not been slaughtered in 
accordance with Jewish rite and fashion. 

No meal seems to be so popular with the foreign Jew as 
that consisting of fowl, or perhaps fried fresh - water ffdi.; 
Every Thursday Middlesex Streep Wentworth Streep and 
Matilda Place are all devoted to the sale of these foods. 
The kerbs are lined with banow-loads of fish and fbwL^ 
Jews who have been retailing old dotbes or boots dl tfaje-: 
odier days of the week blossom out at diis time, into poulte|(d|s> 
and fishmongers. PsobfUy thais are more fiiirla sold Id. dli;: 



aao Ube Soul iSarltet 

East End of -London on a Thursday afternoon than are sold 
in all the other parts of the metropolis, and fresh-water fish 
can hardly ever be obtained in London excepting at the fish 
nuurkets or in these East End streets. 

The original inhabitants of these places have all been 
crowded out The foreigners have no use for them, except 
as sweated menials. 

1 have visited, in company with Consular officials and 
Salvation Army officers, some of the bad European slums, 
and there is little difficulty in recognising the influence that 
immigrants from these places have had on the subnAerged 
population of our great cities. 



CHAPTER XIII 


THE SIMPLE LIFE, WITH VARIATIONS — HOW I LIVED 
ON SIXPENCE A DAY, AND EARNED IT 

The late famous Dr. Abernethy was reported to have given 
this prescription to a wealthy, gouty old patient who went to 
consult him : ** Live on sixpence a day,” said the famous 
professor, ^^and earn it,” and for this he pocketed a fee of 
two guineas. 

It might seem to the uninitiated that this advice was not 
worth the money, but Dr. Abernethy knew what he was 
talking about. He knew that the only hope for his overfed 
patient was work and exercise of some sort ; but it is never 
necessary for an East End physician to give prescriptions of 
this kind to his patients. 

The same sun shines upon the East and West alike. The 
same fogs descend upon rich and poor, and the Scriptures tell 
us that the same God made and created all men in His images 
with souls of equal value in His sight. 

In the light of modern civilisation, and with the experience 
of years of life in a Christian land, it might be forgiven to the 
sceptic that he doubts this assertion. It is very di6Scult to 
make a man who is sent to gaol for three years for stealing A 
sovereign to feed his starving family believe in the justice and 
equity of our laws, when he knows that a neighbour of his 

who has tortured his children and beaten his wife fill he left 

aai 



a hopdesa cripple ip the gutter receiTes a aentecoe of 
three monriia. 

Such contraats in the workings of the law, all those who 
fbllow the Police Court reports are constantly being made 
aware of. 

Since the publication of Charles Wagner’s beautiful book, 
"The Simple Life,” there have been columns in the daily 
press, besides discussions and articles in the various magarines, 
on the subject I have heard an American millionaire’s views 
tm the matter, and have also discussed it with an English 
lady whose income is ;^ii,ooo a year, and who spends about 
j^so a week, during the season, in the London beauty shops, 
under the conviction that because she pays her maid less 
a year than is usual, and requires her cook to give an account 
of the dripping used in her kitchen, she is really leading 
an ideally simple life. The American friend who descanted 
on the matter wrote several articles in his own papers, of 
which he owns some twenty or thirty in the United States. 
He, like Mr. Rockfeller, insists on the advantages of thrift 
and economy among the people. He had been travelling 
through Europe on a motor car, being followed in another 
by a courier, valet, und an enormous quantity of luggage. 
On. arriving in London, he installed -himself in a magnificent 
suite of rooms at the Savoy. The simplicity of his life con- 
sisted in reducing the tips of the waiters, and in taking a 
breakfast of fruit from a Bond Street shop, instead of the 
ordinary heavy repast of meat usually provided. 

His daughter is a friend of mine, and I stayed with them 
for a time as their guest, and accompanied tbmn on a motor 
toot through Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and some of the 
midland counties. The girl has an allowance of 10,000 
dollars a year. I am bound to say that she did not get 
fiito debt^^d I never heard a comiriaint firom her as to the 



msftii9iexife» M3 

■hortnew of her allowance, but these good people iriio 
advocate for the leading of a simple life gave me some 
pleasure \>j allowing me to tell them a little of the Simple 
Lif(^ as understood by an Arab chief and an East End 
worker. 

In Arabia, which is at the present day so unhappy as tc 
have eluded all efforts at Christian civilisation, a chief will live 
contented and respected, a man among men, with his fiunily, 
on £20 a year, and be passing rich at that 

Imagine a country where a man can live on a handful of 
dates and a drink of water, march thirty miles in the day, 
and fight half the night perhaps, without breaking down or 
running away. 

Imagine the degraded state of women who travel in the 
caravan with their husbands till within an hour of the birth of 
their children. The expectant mother on the march drops out 
of the caravan with some female attendant, brings forth her 
child, bathes it in the sand, ties it on to her back, and 
marches cheerfully on to rejoin the caravan, which has 
travelled perhaps some twen^ miles further on. 

Could one conceive of the deplorable state of a countey 
which has no factory laws, no poor law^^ no labour member^ 
and where there is not even a charity organisation? 

In such a benighted land a man sits in his little hut with 
his famQy round him on the floor, eating his simple meal of 
uuleavened bread and dates, or dried fish. The door is open, 
there passes a stranger who has, through some misfortune 
neither home nor food. The man of the bouse sees him, 
calls to him, and says : “ In the name of God enter and eat^ 
Water is given him to wash his hands and feet, he joins the 
little fiunily group and shares their homdy fare then 
them in the name of God, he departs. 

. Imagine a toamp entertabed at any dinidiMet# b A 



tObe Sottl AarHet 

Giristian eoimtty. Sudi a thing would not be ptmible^ 
because the tnunp, himself a product of high modem 
civilisation, is so filthy and degraded an object that he is 
only fit for the society of swine. 

Though I was not suffering from gout, I determined to 
try the Simple Life in London by living on the wages I 
earned with some of the outcast and poor of the city. In 
order to live on sixpence a day in London one has to be very 
far from simple. It is necessary to know where food can be 
bought cheapest, and where shelter may be obtained for next 
to nothing. 

Mr. Charles Booth, in his wonderful study of the economic 
conditions of the people of London, states that 30 per cent, 
of the inhabitants of this great city are living in poverty, 
and that about one in every ten of the homeless poor seek 
relief. 

An estimate, based upon the census of the poor in the 
East End of London, also compiled by Mr. Booth, gives the 
enormous percentage of one in every four of London’s popula- 
tion to be either a pauper, homeless, starving, or very poor. 
To these people the Simple Life becomes a daily reality ; in 
fact, it has been cultivated to such an extreme, that they are 
able to do without almost everything that other people would 
consider necessary to a civilised life. 

Like the famous professor’s hors^ they have been 
successfully trained to do without almost everything, and it is 
only just at the moment when thqr are reduced to the one 
straw a day that they inconsiderately “ go and die.” 

The difficulty of putting myself into a position where I 
Would have no money of my own, and of being able to earn 
not more than sixpence a day, was very great; but I at 
length, succeeded, with the help of a friend. To b^n with, 
I bad of^oopM to dress for the part 1 bad to leave p 



Ube Simple X<fe, witb tt^adatfone ms 

respectable neighbourhood and go forth looking as much like 
the people amongst whom I was going to live as possible. 

After some rummaging in my “ property box,” we secured 
a really dreadful assortment : boots three sizes too large for 
me^ down at the heel and tied with twine. 

The matter of a skirt was harder to manage. 1 had put on 
a very old black one, and as I had used it for scrambling up 
and down hills, lying out in the woods, day after day, one 
summer in it, I thought it was sufi5ciently disreputable, but 
Mr. C., my friend, on whom 1 depended for my introduction 
into Poverty Kingdom, was dissatisfied. 

“ It isn’t what you’d go to a duke’s lunch party in, exactly; 
but there’s something about it that won’t do.” 

Then I remembered. The wretched thing had been built 
by a fashionable tailor, and had an unmistakable hang about 
it Well, after some difficulty another skirt was found, a 
wibbly-wobbly thmg that translated me into Poverty Kingdom 
at once. I borrowed a dirty sailor hat, tore the crown from 
the brim, thinking that it would make it shabby enough, but 
Mr. C. insisted on sitting on it, and then it really did look 
awful. I wore an ancient blouse my landlady had done her 
washing in, and throwing over me an old shawl, we started 
out, a very questionable-looking pair. 

We left the house fiurly early in the evening, and did not 
return until six in the morning. 

Our way lay through mean streets in the Westminster 
borough. In these foetid alleys there seems no idea of 
bed-time for the babies: there were scores of Aem playing 
in the gutters. Untidy women and filthy men herded 
at lowering doors. Here and there a public -house 
flung broad beams of light on to the squalid pavement " 
Strange that these places should be the only spots in . p^(^- 
haunted streets that do not bear an- impress 6f jpdve%. It 



»»6 

is always a mystery to me why these miserable victims of 
drink and overcrowding do not rise in desperation and tear 
down the places that batten on their shrunken fortunes. 

When, after some^ wandering, we got out of Westminster 
slums, we found ourselves by the Houses of Parliament. The 
streets were alight and pulsating with life. 

We passed on to the Embankment, which might well be 
called the Waiting-Room of Travellers in Poverty Station. I 
was already tired — for we had covered about four miles, passing 
in and out of those horrid streets — so we sat down on one of 
the benches. 

Presently a woman came and dropped down on the other 
end of the bench ; her clothes were fairly good, but her shoes 
were battered and she limped slightly. We watched her 
quietly for a while, then my companion began talking to her. 

Conversation progressed very slowly. I have since learnt 
that these children of suffering speak but little. We were 
together some time, and bit by bit, in broken sentences, she 
told us some of the secrets of her life. I had detmufiined that 
nothing should compel me to any emotionalism, but I grew 
almost hysterical as Mr. C. drew from this poor creature 
particulars of the existence which we were trying to qualify 
for. 

She had been so tossed about and bruised herself, that one 
might have supposed that no touch of sympathy would have 
remained in her; but she stooped over and looked at me 
from time to time, she was so sorry for my evident suffering. 

Never mind, dearie, it won’t seem so awful when you get 
more used td it It is always dreadful at first You’ll find 
you can’t sleep out more than two nights, but if you go into 
the casuals,” she said, “don’t you mind them there. They 
will bully you shockingly, but hard words don’t kill. I was 
so fright<ioed the first night that I gave up the idea of going 



Vbe Sftni:>le Xtre, wftb i^avlations >27 

io, and tramped the streets all night instead, the man was 
such a big bully. But you get used to it,” she continued 
pathetically. “Just be deaf and dumb.” 

I was surprised at her speech, art found she was well 
educated. 

“Is there no other place I could find shelter in?” I asked her. 

“ Not unless you’ve got money, dear. There are very few 
places of shelter for women in London.” 

I then remembered reading that in the year 1903 the 
average numbers admitted into casual wards in London on a 
Friday night were 778 men, 188 women, and t9 children. It 
would be interesting to know how much it cost to shelter this 
comparatively small number of London’s outcasts. 

“Do the shelters cost much?” 1 inquired of my companion, 

“Mostly fourpence. There are one or two you can get 
into for twopence, and if you have nothing you just stay in 
the streets.” 

On another occasion I went into one of these shelters 
myself, but of them I shall write in another article, for to 
have even fourpence is to rise in the social scale, and means 
having work. 

The three of us on the Embankment were beginning to 
doze when a policeman came by and ordered us to move 
on. We walked towards the city, and the woman accompanied 
us, with the apologetic air of an ownerless dog who will sneak 
after anyone for companionship. 

We gathered from stray remarks that she had come from the 
country with a tiny capital to seek work in London. She never 
found ib The money was spen^ her clothes wore ou!^ and 
she found herself one of the many for whom the world had nb 
place. She noticed that I was crying, and thinking it itw. my 
own misfortune that troubled m^ she pressed a hal^^si^jr 
into my hand. 



tl!)e Sotti AarRet 

"You can’t buy anything for a ha’penny till morning,” she 
said. ”The coffee is a penny a cup at night, but at five 
o’dock you can get a £up for a ha’penny ; it is dreadful to 
be hungry till you’re luihd to it” I walked swiftly away, and 
she said to Mr. C. : “Don’t be bard on her, she’s such a little 
thing.” 

Can you imagine the heavenly charity of the poor creature ; 
she had eaten nothing that livelong day, but she gave me her 
last halfpenny. 

I never understood charity till I lived with the poor. The 
grand dames of London might do worse than study this grace 
with those who go hungry that some worse fated creature 
may be fed. 

We heard the Westminster clock chime two, and set our 
faces towards the Bridge. Mr. C. asked me if I would mind 
waiting there for a few minutes while he went to look for a 
coffee-stall. 

It was very quie^ and I stood under the shelter of the 
parapet. A little further down a woman was leaning over, 
looking into the water. Something in her attitude arrested 
my attention, and I walked on till I was within a few feet 
of her, and there I waited. No sound came up except the 
swirling of the water by the bridge piers, and I heard her say 
softly : “Ob, my God I my God I ” She dropped her head in 
her hands, and I knew she was crying. 1 went up very 
softly and put my hand on her. She threw me off roughly. 

“ What do you want ? Who are you ? ” 1 saw by her face 
she was quite young. 

“ I am just a girl like you,” I said. Won’t you tell what is 
the matter; it is so dreadful to be alone?” Her pity was 
instantly reached. 

“ Poor .^ittle thing 1 ” she said gently ; “ have you. come— to 
end it all 7 ” pointing to the water below. 



TOic Simple Xfte» with Variatfoits 339 

" Oh, but that would be such a poor end,” I said. 

We talked for a little while : the girl said she was a colonel’s 
daughter. Unsuccessful as a governess, she had tried various 
other callings with moderate success till a severe illness over- 
took her, and she went into hospital, only to come out to find 
starvation or the streets waiting for her. She could face 
neither prospect and stood on the bridge waiting for an 
opportunity to pass into a world which could not be more 
cruel She jumped eagerly at the chance of going to America 
as a steerage passenger. 

I must say in reference to this story that I satisfied myself 
of the truth of the girl’s Statements, and discovered that she 
was very capable of domestic service. No one would 
recommend her in England, and she was incapable of further 
effort in seeking work. Introductions were secured for her 
to the right sort of friends in America. Left on the bridge, 
she would have added one to the hideous roll of suicides in 
1904. The number in 1901 was 3,057. 

I was terribly tired when my companion returned, and it 
was with very lading feet that we wandered on towards 
Blackfriars. We walked up Thames Street towards Billings- 
gate Market Who would know these long, soundless streets, 
with dark, gaping alleys here and there, for those same busy 
highways we are accustomed to in London. When we 
reached Billingsgate we felt we were in a dty of the dead — 
here and there a predatory cat or a skulking dog slipped past^ 
or a sleepy policeman yawned loudly as he strolled by. It 
was too early for the market, so we went on to Smithfield. ^ 
Sleepy butchers were dragging out sacks and carcases firom 
high-piled carts; here and there a iat cat rubbed hersdf 
against the bench^ 

It was not a very enlivening scen^ so we sought a coSi^ 
‘stall, and finding non^ went into Lockhart’s ; the butdu^ 



250 tEbe Aatftet 

boys afid carters were drinking coffee at little tablesi but they 
refused to serve us. ''No femmes in here,” said the man, 
lookiug suspiciously at me. 1 was ready to cry with disap- 
pointment, I wanted some coffee so much. However, 
presently we found a place where the despised sex niight 
slip in unostentatiously, swallow some food, and depart. 
We were served with two hot cups of coffee and an enormous 
hunk of cake each for fourpence. 

Somewhat refreshed, we travelled back to Fleet Street 

A s&ange white shimmer was on the streets. The weirdness 
of the empty Strand has a marvellous fascination, and we 
had a photograph taken of it. Tl^ picture was taken at a 
quarter to four one morning. Half an hour later this 
particular part of the Strand was blocked with market carts 
overflowing from Covent Garden — a sight never seen during 
the day. 

We wandered about for a while, and presently out of the 
printing-offices printers and pressmen issued. Long strings 
of red carts drew up outside the publishing builidings, to 
distribute the papers that had been printed while part, at 
least, of London slept. From here we dragged our weary 
limbs to Covent Garden. By this time we had both fallen 
into the unmistakable slouch of the drag-footed stray. My 
feet were so badly blistered that 1 could hardly move. Our 
friend on the Embankment had told us that we could 
probably get a job at shelling peas at Covent Garden, 
or bottling fruit at one of the frctories. I "went for” the 
peas. The "Garden” was absolutely choked with market 
carts ; we were obliged to crawl under the very wheels, and 
in and out of horses’ legs to get into the market I dis- 
covered here a new calling for women — that of C8r^min<flng. 
.We met a bright girl, with a saucy face and impimrinent 
tongue Nvho answered to the name of Meg. She took 



TTbe simple Xlfe. wftb Vatfatlons 231 

change of dozens of the market carts. Every owner was 
known to her by name, and every* horse too. She told us 
she was paid twopence for every cart she took in charge. 
I do not, however, feel justified in recommending the pro- 
fession, for it needs considerable training. It would be 
necessary to be prepared for physical encounters with 
thieving boys, and all-night duty. 

Early as we were at the pea-shed, some hundred wretched 
creatures were already busy shelling peas with incredible 
speed. Only women are employed at this work. They sit 
on upturned baskets or stools in rows down the length of 
the shed. A man at oin|' end gave each woman an apron or 
skirt full of peas. These she shelled into a flat tin pan and 
brought back to be measured. The boss ” poured the peas 
into a tin quart measure and gave the woman a metal disc 
for each quart done. These were exchanged later for three- 
pence each. I was so worn out and exhausted that I only 
managed to earn twopence. Then Mr. C. came and took 
me away. I had endured all that was possible for that one 
night. And following on that experience, I tasted the bitter 
cup of charity in a casual ward, an experience Z have 
described in another chapter. 

My second essay at earning a living by pea-shelling was 
more successful; this time I entered a &ctory where fruit 
and vegetables are preserved for table use and expcat trade. 

I earned from fourpence to sixpence a day, and managed my 
exchequer with the skill of a professional financier, fmr I 
continued to balance my expenditure exactly with my incmne. 

In the morning 1 spent a halfpenny on a mug of coc^ 
and a hal^tmy on a bun at Lockhart's. - 

In the day 1 bought two bananas for a penny ; this nnub 
my midday meaL Thus 1 had twopence left to payfr^ l ; 
box Id the Salvation Army SHdtert but 1 had nothiog\l^ 



»i» TTbe Sottl Aatfiet 

evening meal unless 1 was able to earn an extra penny or 
two. For me, of course, though this was bad enough at the 
time, it was no lifelong tragedy, but there are literally 
hundreds of creatures for whom this state of semi-starvation 
is a normal condition. Could any well-fed, comfortably- 
housed person imagine what suffering is endured by those 
who are always hungry i Yet hunger is not the worst evil 
those poor creatures have to endure. One of the bitterest 
parts of a respectable woman’s sufferings is the impossibility 
of keeping clean when driven from home. 

These wanderers make deliberate and futile efforts after 
cleanliness. I have seen them secretly trying to wash and 
wring out a garment in a Park pool, or Trafalgar Square 
fountains ; but this is strictly forbidden, and there is danger 
of their being caught by the police while so engaged. 

The suffering caused by dirt is, to many of these women, 
utterly intolerable. One woman told me she didn’t mind 
being hungry so much as being dirty. She said if she 
didn’t get something in a day or two she would thrpw herself 
into the Thames. " It’ll wash my soul and body too,” she 
said despairingly. 

The Salvation Army Shelters are excellent, but they cost 
from twopence to fourpence, and above all, are so crowded, 
it is quite impossible for women to find shelter there always. 
I have been in one of these Shelters myself, and know they 
are quite good. 

Let anyone who thinks it fun to be poor and homeless try 
the hospitality of the streets for even one night The humour 
of the situation palls after the first two hours. 

. There is a crying need in this wealthy city for decent 
shelters . for women. I counted during one of my weary 
nights in London thirty-three women in a small area who, 
to aU Appearances, seemed quiet and respectably though 



XTbe Simple Xffe, wftb IDadations 953 

homeless. I spoke to twenty of them. Out of the number, 
eleven offered to " share ” a cup of coffee or a bit of bread 
with me, or tried to leave a penny with me. I confess I 
cried a good deal, and these dear children of sorrow 
thought my trouble was greater than theirs. They are 
indeed homeless amid a thousand homes. 

One experience that broke me down utterly was outside a 
casual ward. 

We had been waiting a couple of hours to see the people 
come out; A- respectable but starved-looking working man 
came out from the men’s side. We talked with him for some 
time. He was a mechanic from Chatham, come with his wife 
to find work m London. They were obliged at last to seek 
refuge in the casual ward, and he waited for his wife to come 
out. They had not a penny. We gave him sixpence, and he 
said : “ Thank Gk)d, it’ll get a meal for the missus ; sh^s the 
best soul alive.” When the gates opened and the motley 
crew of women struggled out, he went forward to meet bis 
wife. She was not there. Presently he was told she bad 
been sent out the day before, and so had wandered out into 
the streets alone. The poor fellow put his hand to his head. 
“ My God, she’ll die alone in London,” and he fainted from 
pure agony of mind. Fleeing from this heart-rending sight, I 
came on a group of little children in an empty packing-case 
near the Opera House in Drury Lane. These three London 
sparrows were feeding themselves on little buUet-like green 
gooseberries they had picked up under the carts in Covent 
Garden. Green gooseberries form an ideal food to raise the 
sons of the Empire on I 

With such an excellent food supply one still wonders how 
was that in 1903, 9452 children und€r twelve years of age arm 
9,004 between that age and sixteen were convicted Of 
‘indictable offences. 



as4* ^eSottlAatitet 

From very close observation of their work I ‘feel sure that 
Dr. Barnardo or the Salvation Army, between them, could 
rescue and provide for all these unhappy victims of Fate, 
who now become such heavy charges on the State. 

I hold no brief for either of these magnificent organisations, 
I only speak from what I have seen. The splendid work* 
ability of their methods, and the quickness with which they 
act, are tremendously in their favour. But they have to beg 
and plead for money. It seems a curious policy to prefer to 
pay heavy rates for prisons and workhouses when money 
spent on curative and preventive measures would be far less 
expensive and far more efiectuaL 

Sometimes it is an affiiction to have a sense of humour ; 
one sees things in lights that more sober mortals are utterly 
unable to see. In the face of the awful conditions of our 
towns and streets in Britain it seems odd that such anxiety 
should be displayed about the souls of the heathen,” who, 
as far as my personal knowledge of them goes, compare 
favourably with the "heathen at home.” I thought of the 
sights and sounds I had seen and heard in London slums 
when attending a meeting where the awful sins of heathenism 
were being talked about. It seemed to me funny that souls ten 
thousand miles off should be accounted so much more precious 
than those in the London streets. Why, for instance, is it a 
more heinous crime for a Hindoo widow to be badly treated 
than for an English girl to be without shelter in London 
streets, starving and cold ? It will not avail to say they need 
not starve if they do not wish to. 

No one who has suffered hunger and cold is such a fool as 
to suppose any creature would choose to endure either. I 
have no Utopian scheme to suggest. But these homeless 
women lie heavy on my heart, and it is, I think, possible to 
secure them rest and shelter at small cost 



tTbe Simple Xtfe, vrttb tDarfatfons *335 

I am assured by several experts on matters of social service 
that it would be quite possible to provide a shelter capable 
of accommodating. 1,000 women nightly for ;^ 30 ,ooo. This 
place would have lavatories and wash-tubs underground, and 
a small room for a caretaker. 

It might be warmed with hot-water pipes. There need be 
no bedi^ only comfortable seats, and the place could be 
flushed every morning. Here women could rest in a clean, 
warm place. Cheap food might be provided at a rough bar 
at cost price if advisable. 

Such a shelter would be a God-send to the poor harried 
children of the night 



CHAPTER XIV 


ON OUTPOST DUTV 

My experience in the Salvation Army Shelters, and the help 
and sympathy extended by Salvationists to those in dire need, 
made me eager to examine for myself the effect of their work 
on the evil characters in really bad neighbourhoods, so when 
the opportunity presented itself I seized it. Now I know how 
it is that we sleep secure in our comfortable beds, when 
thousands are homeless, and how it is that despair and passion 
do not urge desperate, starving creatures to riot and murder. 
It is because, unknown to the careless world, ipimbers of 
God’s patient, loving servants devote their lives to caring for 
these dread people. Believe me, it is not the law and the 
police who effectually keep down awful demonstrations of 
crime — it is the Divine labour and lore of all those men and 
women who, being lost to the world, ceaselessly toil and suffer 
for humanity. 

I think it was the bonny foce peeping out from under the 
hideous pdke bonnet of blue adorned with the red badge of 
the Salvation Army, that won me to an interest in the 
peculiai: work the owner was engaged in. She was standing 
where rushing streams of London traffic made crossing 
imposribl^ and we waited on an island, clinging to a lamp- 
post to keep our balance, for the refugees were crowded thick. 

jShe eaised her head, and a sudden smile illuminated her 

236 



^ 9tttpo0t Btttv tsr 

freckled foce. My heart went out to her instantly. She 
looked so bright and wholesome — and as the girls say down 
Hoxton way — “ we spoke.” 

She told me as we rollicked citywards on the top of a 
bumpy ’bus, that she had been into the country on " exchange 
duty,” another Sister taking her place for three weeks on 

outpost duty.” She had enjoyed her holiday, if holiday it 
might be called, considering that she was at work the whole 
time, but it was the change into the pure air, and a sight of 
the trees and grass she had revelled in, and now she returned 
to the great city, fresh as a country flower, and as good to 
meet. She laughed merrily when I inquired innocently as to 
the meaning of “outpost duty,” “Slum Sister,” and other 
unfamiliar expressions she used, and said : “ Why, Sister, I 
guess you’d better come along with me to my room, and you’ll 
find out for yourself what it all means.” I was not able just 
then to accompany her, but before we reached Liverpool 
Street she had given me her address, and I had promised to 
meet her some day at a place named by her not far from 
where her work lay. “ As yet,” she said, “ we have not gone 
to live exactly at the worst spot,, but Lieutenant Francis and I 
mean to get there yet.” 

Some months after this meeting, when my heart was sore 
with much contact with poverty and misery, and I was 
burning, not only to touch “ the heart of things,” but to see 
some way out of the awful slough of crime and misery for the 
miserable creatures I had been travelling among, I thought, 
in my indignation and despair, of Captain Molly, and wrote^ 
claiming her promise to show me “light in dark places.” 
After the delay of a few days I received her answer, asking 
me to meet her at Barracks No. . I went 

“Well, I’m just as glad as can be to see you. I thought 
yon had forgotten,” she said; “but are you sure^ my deaty 



»3« ICbe Sent Amrftet 

70a teatito ivliat 70a are undertaking ? It isn’t a pleasant place 
for strangers, where I live.” 

1 am not afraid,” I said ; if 70U can live there, I can 
visit there.” 

It isn’t quite the same thing,” she said. Besides, 70U 
see, m7 uniform’s a protection.” 

" If 1 come with 70U I shall wear a uniform also, if 70U will 
let me.” 

She looked dubious. '‘Sit down,” she said, "and well 
talk and pra7 over it” 

We were in a little bare room. A picture of the Divine 
Master praying in the Garden hung on the whitewashed wall. 
In the picture the face was lifted to heaven, and the 7earning 
look in the e7es moved one to pit7 for a love that could so 
hunger for the outcast and the need7. Captain Molly saw me 
look at the picture. 

“ Can you understand it ? ” she said. 

" I think so,” I answered quietly. " It seems so sorrowful 
that so many human creatures should be wasted.”' 

She came and put her hand on my shoulder. “Com^ if 
you fed like that” 

- THE WORST STREET IH LONDON 

"I don’t know,” said Captain Molly, as we walked towards 
her "post” some days afterwards, both of us wearing the 
sombre dress of the "Soldiers of Salvation,” “that it really is 
the worst street in London ; but about here, the police and 
others say it is, and I don’t think it would be easy to beat it 
anywhere.” 

We were threading our way through crowds, in a narrow 
street flanked by barrows and coster-stalls. I noticed the 
folk made way for us as we went, and Captain Molly acknow- 
ledged all courtesies with a word or smile. And* by-and-^ 



*39 


^tpost S>ntis 

we came to a dingy court which seemed a veritable plague- 
spot— the haunt, as I afterwards learnt, of thieves and bad 
characters. And this was Green Arbour Court. Ye Shades! 
what a place I 

- “And why,” I asked my companion, "do they call it 
Green Arbour Court?” 

She smiled a trifle sadly. 

“The authority who christened it must have been an 
ironical wag and named it for its oppositeness to its title — or 
maybe,” she said slowly, “ once it was green and good, even 
here.” 

One might imagine the plac^ from its name, a spot redolent 
of flowers and melodious with song, instead of being, as it is, 
a group of dirty, dark, insanitary hovels, where the death-rate 
is four times as high as any street in its immediate neighbour- 
hood. A slum shutuied by all but the very lowest ; a modem 
Alsatia; a close borough of blackguardism, visited by the 
police only at rare intervals, and then only in couples. 
Practically ignored by the sanitary authorities, excepting on 
the occasion when the fever ambulance takes away one of its 
inhabitants, a victim, perhaps, to diphtheria or some other 
infectious horror, bom in the vile miasma arising from its filth 
and uncleanliness. 

For very obvious reasons, it is impossible for me to do 
more than barely indicate the exact locality of this wretched 
place. 

It is situated in the east of London, and its only entrance 
leads from a well-known thoroughfare. 

It was on a humid autumn evening that 1 first entered this 
narrow, paved court. It seemed as if 1 had entered an oven. 
The sun had beaten on the houses all day, and owing to fte 
lack of ventilation the small rooms had become abscflutiriy 
unbearable to the inhabitants. The beat bad driven |i^y 



tn»e Sotil Aatftet 


>40 

evwy inmate of the houses out of doors. Those who were 
not in the public-house that stood on one side of the entrance 
to the court were sitting on the doorsteps or paving in front 
of their houses. Quarrelsome, hot, dirty, and semi-naked 
children were crawling about or sitting on the hard stones, 
and every comer seemed alive — so much so that I feared I 
would have to step on someone if I wished to pass up the 
court at all. Little wonder that the place echoed with bad 
language and words not of the gentlest. 

“ Do you really live here ? ” 1 asked of Captain Molly. 

Surely,” she said, and I followed her obediently up the 
rickety stairway of a tenement house. At the third storey we 
halted on the tiny landing, and I noticed it was the only clean 
spot we had passed since entering the court. Captain Molly 
took out a key from her pocket, and we entered her “station.” 

She had two rooms opening into each other. The match- 
boarding between them was pmnted a pretty green, and hung 
with lovely prints in reed frames ; 1 noticed they were fixed 
bn with brass nails. 

“My sister, Mrs. , gave those to me,” said Captain 

Molly, mentioning a name well known in London society. 

There was no covering on the floor save a small mat^ and 
it was enamelled a pretty dark brown; the chairs were 
enamelled in green to match the partition, and the table 
was brown like the floor. There was a big, rough, green 
Jar of growing ferns in the window, and a blackbird in a 
cage hung there also. We went into the little bedroom. It 
was painted in dark blue, and a narrow trackle bed and one 
small trunk were the chief bits of fiimiture. Beside a tall, 
rush-bottomed chair was a tiny slip of carpet. A little table 
held a few books, and on the wall, above a small shelf, hung a 
six-inch looking-glass. “Just to show if the helmet’s on 
straight,” laughed Captain Molly. • • 



9tt Outpost Btttfi «4Z 

I pay six shillings a week for this place,” said Captain 
Molly, ** and am better provided with room than any of my 
neighbours.” 

The remembrance of my first night in that place will stay 
with me always. We went out to a meeting that evening, and 
returned eager to rest, but all through the night it was a 
pandemonium. There were horrid shouts and oaths, and 
sometimes a woman’a scream and the cry of a terrified child 
broke through the babel of noise. About three o’clock a 
knock came on our door. Captain Molly got up. A man 
stood outside, haggard and awfuMooking. “ My gal’s dying 
out there,” he said. On the steps of one of the houses, 
propped against the wall, sat a wasted girl panting for breath. 
At Captain Molly’s command, the man carried her up to our 
room. We laid a blanket on the floor and bathed her face 
with cold water. It was all marred and disfigured with marks 
of many battles. Once she spoke in broken gasps : Git ’old 
o’ Tom ; ’e ain’t a bad lot.” The man heard and bent down. 
The girl was dead. Remembering her words, *‘Tom” let 
Captain get hold of him, and became a valued helper and 
guide. 

For a time I hung on to Captain Molly’s skirts, till gradually 
I grew more familiar with the place, and made acquaintance 
with some of our neighbours. 

' One of the first persons I came to know in the bouse was 
a woman, who, with several other persons and a number 
of children, occupied a room on the next landing to ours. 
One night 1 had stumbled over her in the dark, when she 
was lying in a drunken sleep on the stairs near our room. 
At first I thought she was ill, and fetched a light to see how 
I could help her. But I soon discovered that she was insen- 
sibly drunk, and also that she had received a fall, and had 
badly cut her forehead. There was quite a pool of bliood 



•4a Soul 

irilere she lay. Making a bandage by tearing up one of 
our towels, 1 first bathed and then bound up the wound; 
then getting assistance, I had her taken to her room. 
Through this act of common duty, an acquaintanceship 
sprang up between us, from which 1 gathered a great deal 
of knowledge. From her I learned much of the habits of 
our neighbours. Of course many things that she told me 
would be utterly impossible to relate, and can only here be 
hinted at. From her I learned that most of the men in tbe 
house were “ hocks ” or " dead bents,” as she called common 
thieves. Nearly all of them had at some period of their lives 
“done time” — ^that is, been in prison. Several had been 
“ bashed ” ; or, in other words, flogged in prison for the crime 
of “ robbery with violence.” 

Crimes of the very worst description were openly and 
sympathetically discussed, and one cannot help wondering 
why the authorities allow such a hot-bed of sin to exist. 
That they know of its existence the periodical visits ‘ of the 
police testify, but 1 suppose even thieves must live somewhere, 
and perhaps it is thought best that they should congr^ate in 
a colony where they can be, as it were, under the eye of the 
police^ who often visited this locality at night, in order to 
find, if possible, some notorious criminal. This the people 
themselves call “turning them over.” 

Not an individual in the pltlce appeared to earn an honest 
livelihood. Boys started off in the morning in gangs, like 
wolves in search of prey. Men went into the country to “ do 
jobs,” which did not mean, as one might be led to believe, 
the carrying out of some respectable employment, but was 
the term applied to the committing of some well-planned 
criiQ^ generally directed by one of the “heads,” as these 
master -criminals are called. Young and old, feeble and 
strong, all were engaged in crime. The tiniest, boys and 



9n ^tpo0t smts »43 

girls crawled into shops “after the box,” as they called 
stealing tills, a kind of robbery inflicted on the small shop- 
keepers in the neighbourhood, and causing them much 
annoyance. The youths and young women infested the 
dark thoroughfares on the look-out for helpless women or 
drunken “mugs,” as they called their victims, in order to 
beat and rob them, while the greybeards of this banditti 
planned burglaries and crimes of a more daring -or dastardly 
nature. 

It was in this neighbourhood that I first came into actual 
contact with people who, at least one to another, openly 
admitted that they were thieves and vagabonds, though later, 
in company with a friend, I made a closer study of the 
criminal class. There criminal exploits and nefarious projects 
were discussed as calmly and quietly as my more respectable 
friends discuss their daily business. As may be imagined, it 
required a good deal of patience, and something of tact, to 
gain the confidence of these people, and Captain Molly’s 
friendship for me was a guarantee of my faith. Then, too, 
little acts of common charity — assistance in case of accident, 
advice in illness — all these things helped towards establishmg 
a fiiendly feeling. 

Honour amongst thieves obtains to a much greater extent 
than one would suppose. Low as these people are^ there is a 
viler being — the police-paid spy — often a thief himself who 
lives with, and on, his companions in crime, and then betrays 
them. These contemptible “mouchards” are known as 
“copper’s narks.” They are not officially recognised, of 
course^ but they are great ffictors in the discovery of crime 
and criminals, and from the point of view of law and ordm^ 
must be considered useful But the arm of the law is not 
long enough to readi these people and drag th^ inft> ifc^- 
spectability, nor is it strong enough to sweep them and 



tbe Soni Aatftet 

and divide her spare pence between the Salvation Army 
Prison Mission and a little hoard she was gathering to malr<» 
a home when the “bloke "was released. Captain Molly will 
take care he is met at the prison gate and helped to a new 
life if he so wishea 

In many of the noisome places of our great cities, among 
the slum-dwellers, there settle these devoted “Slum Sisters," 
living generally two together. We may never read the record 
of their golden deeds, but their names must be inscribed in 
letters of gold in God’s Book of Life^ for they have added 
many souls to His Kingdom. 



CHAPTER XV 


HOW WE ENCOURAGE OUR WORKING POPULATION — ^DUST-HEAPS 
AS ELIGIBLE ” BUILDING SITES— HANDICAPS ON BRITISH 
TRADE ■ 

It was after many evil experiences among the “homes’* of 
the poor that I turned with relief to a neighbourhood where 
I expected to find a fair ideal of working-class homes, and 1 
give my account of the place as I found it. 

I remember once at a matinee hearing the late Dan Leno 
descant upon the text, “ Why pay rent ? ’’ The little jester 
gave very excellent reasons for doing so, the chief one being 
that you paid rent because you could not help it. According 
to the advertisements, however, which one sees in the daily 
papers, one might purchase an “eligible’’ house in an 
“eligible’’ locality for next to nothing, and furnish it on 
the hire-purchase system, which, according to the ingenious 
advertisements, is the cheapest and most convenient form of 
purchase. These advertisements alwajrs have a certain 
attraction for me. 1 suppose deep in every human heart 
lies the desire to possess, and the possession of a house lAd 
land appears one of the most attractive assets. 

1 have followed, for many years nbw, the plans of tiis 
London County Council for the improvement or bettermeot 
of London, and it is because of (he interest 1 take , in the 
welfare of the working classes that 1 went for a time to i«^le 
among them in a locality wbkh was advertised as coni$mag - 

•47 



*48 


Zbc Soul Aarltet 

*' desiiable houses " for working people. A friend of mine, 
whose knowledge of the world is somewhat extensive, said 
to me, in reference to this often-expressed desire of mine to 
possess a really nice and comfortable house: “There are 
three classes of people whom you must never have any 
dealings with unless you have an ardent desire to be cheated. 
These three classes are — ^builders, house-agents, and outside 
brokers or tipsters. There has never been known,” he said, 
“an honest ban in any of these professions.” Without 
discussing the truth or falseness of this assertion, I will tell 
the story of the workman’s “desirable house” where I lived 
for some little time. If my description of this place brings 
a contradiction from any member of the London County 
Council or any person engaged in the building trade, I 
shall be charmed to conduct him personally to the place 
described. 

Holyhedge Street is the somewhat rural name of a mean 
little thoroughfare in one of the new districts which have 
sprung up with fungus-like rapidity on the outskirts c^f South 
London. This street is the most perfect example 1 know of 
what a street ought w/ to be. In the first place, the site of 
it is a disused dust-heap — the dumping-ground for years of 
the contents of the dust-holes and offal-pits of an enormous 
parish. After its capacity as a dumping - ground was ex- 
hausted, and before the advent of the huge board which 
proclaimed it to be “eligible ” for the erection of small villas, 
this place was practically a plague spot. Huge mounds of 
festering refuse, and pools of stagnant water, occupied the 
position where now “ desirable ” villas stand. They have been 
erected by a speculative builder who has bought the land, and 
eitl^ lets or sells these houses one by one as he puts them up. 
Of course he would never dream of occupying one of them 
himself. He is a gentleman who has studied sanitation and’ 



Dotv’ we enconta^e one Wotitind populatfon 349 

hygiene I suppose, and all the kindred subjects which go to 
make up the education of a professional builder. Therefore, 
when he erected these jerry-built places, he knew what he 
was doing. As residences suitable for decent, honest human 
beings I know of no modem houses more “undesirable.” The 
workmen, in digging out the trenches for the flimsy foundations 
these houses stand upon, had often to suspend their work 
owing to the stench which arose when the outer crust of 
these refuse mounds was broken or disturbed. Each spade 
thrust into this spot brought up old boots, tin cans, decaying 
bones, rotten rags, and other abominations. Not only were 
these houses built upon this reeking soil, but for the sake of 
the ashes it contained, it was sifted and made into mortar and 
plaster. The walls were built and the interior of the houses 
daubed with the germ-impregnated mud. The bricks which 
were used in the construction of these villas came chiefly 
from the condemned areas of the London County Council. 
When the houses in these districts are pulled down, the old 
microbe-laden bricks are carted away to some “desirable” 
site in some newly-formed district, and are there built into the 
walls of the new houses. In some cases whole streets are 
built of these materials. 

It was in a house built in just this manner, in one of 
these streets, that I elected to take up my residence and live 
as nearly as possible the life of the people who rush to this 
neighbourhood in the vain hope of securing comfortable 
homes. These people rent and occupy the bouses, in some 
cases, before they are finished, and while the walls are actually 
wet with moisture exuding from the mortar and plaster. The 
sanitary authorities do not permit a house to be occupied until 
the druns are inspected and a proper supply of mter is bud 
on. But to these excellent regulations might be added a nite 
Against the occupying of newly-built houses before they are 



*50 ttbe Soul AarRct 

dry. As it is, thoughtless and ignorant people rent these 
places, and old folks and children are put to sleep in damp 
and badly-ventilated rooms. After a few nights in such 
pestilent holes, they wake with disease, which hastens on that 
sleep from which there is no waking. The fact that the 
doctor's brougham and the ambulance of the Asylum’s Board 
were constantly in the street where I lived, points only too 
plainly to the dangers lurking in houses built upon muck- 
heaps, and occupied before they are dry. 

My neighbours, as I got to know them, with but few ex- 
ceptions were of that quickly disappearing type — honest 
working folks, whose wages ranged from eighteen shillings to 
j£a a week. Many of these people worked in the neighbour- 
hood ;• others went regularly to the city by workmen’s trains or 
trams. Some of them were frugal and sober, others drank 
and were rather thriftless, though none of them belonged to 
the hopelessly improvident class. I found, after living among 
these people and visiting them pretty frequently, that a good 
indication of the habits and industry of the inhabitants of the 
houses could be gathered from the way in which the tiny front 
gardens and the front windows were kept; In some cases 
the little slips of ground before the villas were gay with bright 
flowers, and perhaps a miniature lawn. In the evenings the 
owners might be seen busily watering the plants, mowing the 
lawn with a six-inch machine^ and otherwise occupying them- 
selves in beautifying and improving their gardens. Others of 
the front yards, however, became the jflay-grounds for the stray 
dop of the Streep or the receptacles of its rubbish. I found 
it was not always the gardens of the better paid inhabitants 
that looked the best. The house belonging to the postman, 
who perhiq>s had the most responsible position, and was 
probably the worst ^id of all my neighboursf, was always the 
brightest and neatest in the street. 



t)^ m encottVAde our tmorftfitd populatfon >51 

As it was with the gardens, so with the windows. In some 
were displayed hideous vases of wax fruit and flowers under 
glass shades, which stood upon the Family Bible, which, I regret 
to say, was seldom used except as a stand— or a brasa-bound 
album of family photographs. Other windows showed not a 
little taste in the selection of their neat curtains and the colour 
and drapery of their blinds. As the eyes are said to be the 
windows of the soul, so the windows of the working people’s 
cottages often proclaim the character of the inhabitants. It 
is a curious thing that in America, which we fondly regard as 
a crude and inartistic country, the dwellings of the working 
classes are often extremely beautiful, and are generally tastefully 
decorated. I was much struck, during the many visits I paid 
to the homes of mechanics and other workmen in .the United 
States, to notice that the papering of their walls was almost 
always carried out in self-coloured papers of really artistic 
shades, while their doors, instead of being piBnted, were 
beautifully polished. I found that the workmen themselves 
were often responsible for these pleasant attributes of the 
houses. In Hollyhedge Street I went to live with a young 
couple who had been married but a short time, and I was the 
lodger they took in to make ends meet. My host was a 
journeyman carpenter and joiner; he was, I think, about 
twenty-five years of age, and bis wif^ a comely little woman, 
could not have been more than about nineteen. They had, 
like many of their class, married without saving or having a 
home prepared. " We just married and chanced i^” my 
landlady told me. Their first home was one furnished room, 
for which they had paid seven shillings a week. The man was 
a hard-working young fellow, and, I believe^ a good ciaftsnmni 
who at the time of bis marriage was in fairly regular work ;;iii 
fact, be was engaged in work upon the houses in the street m 
Vhi^ we lived. The wife had been mopk^ed in a ^EKpl 



353 V %6eSouI/^ 

florist’s riiop : she possessed some instincts of taste and refine- 
ment. The husband was intelligent and very much interested 
in politicsi and was a member of a Trades Union. I mention 
these fiicts as an indication of the character of the people, for 
1 want to show that it was not for want of good behaviour, or 
through- culpable neglect, that they suflered the pitiable 
misfortunes which later befel them. 

They had been married but a few weeks when they decided 
to take one of the houses in this street, and furnish three 
rooms upon the hire-purchase system. The owner of the 
house at that time was a speculative builder, and he readily 
accepted this workman, who bore a good character, as a tenant. 
He knew also, that having the house occupied would make it 
easier to mortgage it or sell it to some house investor. 

The rent of the villa was thirteen and sixpence a week ; its 
accommodation consisted of six small rooms, one of which 
was fitted as a kitchen. The thirteen and sixpence was about 
one-third of the young man’s wages, but be hoped to let off 
three of his rooms for seven shillings, thus leavii^g himself 
with a rental of six and sixpence per week. With this end in 
view he took the house, and I became the tenant. To 
furnish his three rooms he bad gone to one of those firms 
who advertise in the daily papers their willingness to supply 
fiuniture upon what they are pleased to term the “easy pay- 
ment” or hire-purchase system. “You get married, and we 
will do the res^” is a famous formula of this sort of advertise- 
ment The young couplo, after anxious comparison of different 
advertisements, at last made up their minds, and visited the 
shop of a firm who are, if one may believe their advertise- 
ments, pure philanthropists, with an ardent desire to increase 
the marriage rate and help penniless lovers to tide safriy over 
the hidden rocks and snags of a moneyless marriage. At the 
fint interview my firiends were present^ with a ftirin to fiil 



Dow we encontade one TPnotMttd Doptiiatfon 953 

np, which consisted of intimate questions which would convey 
as much, if not more private information than that required 
by the Charity Organisation Society from a would-be recipient 
of its bounty. After much perturbation, the form was duly 
filled in and sent off to the furnishing firm, who were good 
enough to approve of and accept the applicants, and forthwith 
acquainted them with the fact. On the next visit to the shop 
these young people were ask^ to sign an agreement wherein 
they promised to pay immediately £2 los., and a further sum 
of £i a month until the sum of £2$ was paid, this being the 
price of certain articles of furniture which, according to this 
agreement, were to remain the property of the vendors until 
the amount of £2$ had been paid in full. The agreement 
having been signed, the purchasers proceeded to select 
furniture from the stock in the shop. They finally got a 
complete collection of as shoddy and flimsy a set of goods 
as was ever turned out of an alien’s sweating shop in the 
East End. The furniture was sent to their home^ and for 
a time at least, the varnish and paint made the goods, 
though very rickety, look bright and clean, and the heart 
of the neat little housewife was filled with pride in her new 
possessions. The young couple were delighted to have at 
last a home of their own. Shortly, the veneer on the top 
of the sideboard rose in a blister, and the green wood that 
had been used in the chest of drawers warped and twisted 
to such an extend that the drawers became very difficult to 
open, and the handles were dragged out in trying to accom* 
plish this feat Then again, the chairs did not long continue 
to appear the safest of receptacles for the human body. 
They looked quite nice as they stood against the wall, 
but creaked ominously when sat upon. I made a mental 
valuation of the furniture^ and came to the conclusion that 
£1 would have been a libend sum to pay for it Of omcse 



»S4 Ube 9mtl Aatftet 

I (fid not five in this house for the whole period during which 
die occupants paid this hire-purchase moneyl but I visited the 
people later in another house, and heard from them the story 
of their undoing. 

For ten months the regular payment of jCi each month was 
promptly made. Then the young people were visited by a 
representative from the furnishing firm. This gentleman was 
most affable and obliging, and succeeded in persuading these 
dupes to buy a small cottage piano, for which they entered into 
a new contract to pay £114, together with the balance still due 
on the original agreement. They were now indebted to the 
vendors for the sum of j£s6. Six more monthly payments 
were made, then a calamity overtook them. The builder 
who employed the young man sold his business, and this 
man, together with several of the other workmen, found 
themselves out of work. A long period of trouble and unem- 
ployment loomed ahead It was winter, and week, after week 
went by, and miles of London streets were traversed, but trade 
was bad, and no work was to be found. The Httte sum of 
money that had been saved vanished rapidly, until the poor 
young couple were absolutely penniless. Then oame the 
baby. Every futhing that could be boROwed or raised on 
their small personal treasures was swallowed up in this new 
expense. The man redoubled his search for employment 
Every morning he rose at five, caught the first women’s 
train to the city, and tramped the streets till the evening. 
One day he had gone off as usual upon his hopeless quest, 
when a van drove op to his house. From it four men 
descended. They claimed admittance^ and the leader of the 
party read to the frightened woman a document which stated 
that $a three months’ instalment of the furniture hire was due, 
the firm had decided to cancel the agreement. They promptly 
.collected all the furniture and departed with it. When the 



‘Ibow we encontaoe out IDlllovfiittd population 955 

husband returned, he found an empty house. So completdy 
had the work been done^ that the man and his wife and their 
young baby had to sleep upon the floor of their bedroom. 
Every stick of the flimsy, shoddy rubbish, for the hire of 
which they had paid something over ;^2o, was taken away by 
the men, who paid no heed to the distracted pleadings of the 
woman. 

Only a few months ago, a case of almost identically the 
same description was tried in the public courts. In this 
instance, however, the clients were not defenceless and 
ignorant working people, and the firm found themselves 
obliged to pay a large sum to the woman they bad attempted 
to rob. 

The lives of the people in Hollyhedge Street were cursed 
by many evils, which resulted not only from the insanitary 
spot upon which their dwellings were built — while I was in 
Hollyhedge Street, three of the babies bom there died — but 
from those pests of poorer neighbourhoods who are known as 
tally-men. As soon as houses in the street were occupied 
there swept down upon us a flock of human vultures eager to 
obtain as much money as they could possibly screw out of the 
people. These tally-men, who were generally either Jews or 
Scotchmen, were insurance agents, sewing-machine agents, 
fumiture-on-the-hire-system agents, and so forth. All had 
something to sell on the easiest possible terms ; in fact, one 
might suppose, taking them on their own valuation, that they 
were merely stray philanthropists, wandering about the world 
endeavouring to make life easier for those less fortunate than 
themselv^. In every case, however, that came under my 
own personal observation, I found that goods sold by these 
people had been purchased by my neighbours at three or four 
times their value. Here, ^ain, one sees how the Registr^s 
Cpurt and the County Court are made the debt coliectont pf 



trbc Soul ®arftet 


356 

the firms who sent out these men. They positively insisted 
on leaving their goods, and the next thing their victims were 
aware of was a summons from the Registrar’s or County 
Court Quite two-thirds of the cases heard in these courts 
are of this description. 

These tally-men, of course, are only visiting afflictions, but 
the pawnshop is a perpetual curse. At the end of our street 
there was a pawnshop. Before I became acquainted with 
these places, a friend of mine who used to pilot me about 
London a good deal had a joke at my expense to the effect 
that she could never get me past a pawnshop. The fact of 
the matter was, that the miscellaneous collection in the 
windows of the better class of these places used to attract 
me considerably. I did not at first even know they were 
pawnshops, but having a fondness for old things, and being 
lucky enough once or twice to pick up what turned out to be 
real bargains in the way of old prints, books, and china, I 
often stopped to look in at the window where I saw these 
articles displayed in delightful confusion. My acquaintance 
with the pawnshop was not personal until I began to know 
the poor intimately, and then, as one thing leads to another, 
by several strange coincidences, I was made acquainted with 
some curious tragedies among the rich and smart classes, 
some of the scenes of which were played in what practically 
was a pawnshop, though known under a more euphonious 
name of a “jeweller’s exchange.” Like all shops of this type, 
the pawn “ hole ” in Hollyhedge Street possessed two depart- 
ments — one for selling the goods exposed in its window, and 
another which was reserved for the pawning. It is of this 
latter department I wish to write. 

As I desired to obtain my experience at first hand, I 
inquired of my landlady if she knew of a friendly neighbour 
in our street who would accompany me to the pawnshop. 



poy iliii^iicpopntettdh ^ 


e# joei^ie tdo^ "You: mn^ gp..wtti 

M.-' 

•♦Whf Ml* Coll&igs?"! 

" WeD, she is tbe leaTeXt” she answered. 

“The leaver?” I said. “What may that be?” 

“Ohi die’s the agent<like. She goes to the pawnshop 
with '^er people’s goods— people who do not cate to gO: 
thahselvesr-^d she gets the best price she can for them.” 

*^Do: the people hereabouts employ her a good deal?” I< 
inquired. 

“Yes. You see, she is able to get more from the 
pawnbroker, being known to him, and then it saves a bit 
of trouble.” 


“How does Mrs. Collings get paid?” 

“She has a commission, my dear.” 

With the help of my landlady I was introduced to die 
“leaver.” > She was a woman of the frowsy, untidy type^ alx^ 
middle age, and, I am afraid, spent the greater part of Imk 
“ leavHig” commission on gin. She knew the business of 
everybody in the street, and seemed to take a hai;{|l. iqr, 
evetyihu^ tlmt happened, from births to funendsi. Wedj^ppi 
were her diief delight Whether she was a widow cnr.niojbr^ 
never knew. She lived in the most untidy^oolpng hof^,^:; 


the street, and let her rooms off as lodj^ngi for singfo 
wlfo ill tq^ieared to be of the bricklayer’s labourer typa 
Fncisa^tlnB woman I obtained il great deal of inforsiill^g^ 
ooiitorfjfog'thesearnMdO^^^ '.r..-: 

my dour,; irbil can 1 do for y» ?” sbe 
aft(^ sbe had been brought to me foy lai^^ 

■ t.aq^(jiB^;thaa.I ymntod. Jaw'..to-'^il‘)^ 
wito'li^'toidifo'Some-.moiaqf' 

offltowlai(i'#8l^d1tondie’for.jlapflii^aai^ 




i|^|^iild,*'tdEe a Uttle diq)i 

l 9 |iiHued quite ho^ «iieB I dedined t» foUdw tba coni^dal 

siiggestioD. ' ' 

**Coine on, then,” she cried, and iridiout ahotlier wdtrd 
lid ne to the pawnshop. She did not enter by the- door 
leading into the shop, but turned up an entry at die side, 
td)^’'*‘d6er stood open, whk;h gave entianoe to a dark 


passage. From out of this passage there opened a nuasber 
xjfrtiltlixK doors. These doors were the entrances to a niuttber 
Of iniBlt compartments about four feet square. 

My companion opened one door after another, but each 
conqMutmein; was crowded with as many women and girls as 
could squeeze into the space. At hut, m the end of die 
pajlage^ she discovered a compartment in which there ivere 
d|i^ A(eei.penons staiding. Into this she insinuated herself, 
•iiod>4'fo^edi 

ficstt of this compartment, as in front of all^ the otbeis, 
fVli^ oounter stood, uid behfod the counter were tbne or 
busily undoing or doii^ iqi {iarnels 
boots, and linen of evmy description. 
' .ttey^ curind^i^ an the same dme^ a fomiliu convenatkm 


die crowd oi women who foced them. The plaod ims 
with a curinus mnell of fusty liimn, and theic ^tm 
||f|iemt <:4ur musdness abpnt the qistciiNn.'' Miuty M 
wnmen se«ned to tm on iiuifo.friendijf tyin^tridiith^yding 
';^l)|||^|b(;lnnd' ^ cmiiddnad!; fhi, 'of cK^^iiDd 

;:|^|«|il^.hept up'beNmwi diom. 

. Mrs- 

lljf««.:lii'seieed‘^ 


Appn 




Dow we I 


ddttiDgii iuutf«K0d. ’ ' 

M sweetheart,’*' the ybbth answered, at he 
stiurfed to fold op the bnfidle again. ’’Make it two 
shilfihgS, ’Erjbert” This last renwrk to a small boy who 
was busy writing out the particulars of the transaction upon 
the piawn tickets. 

” No, Charley; ’arf-a-crown — there’s a dear. Make it ’arf 
8-crown, do, and you shall come to tea on Sunday.” 

’’Two shillings I’m making it, and I’m coming to dinner; 
foir one.” The young man turned to another customer. 

”He^s a one-er, ain’t he?” said one of the women in the 
box in a tone of admiration. 

Mrs. Collings picked up the money and the ticket which 
had been tendered to her by the boy, and we left the plac^ 
as I had whispered to her previously that I had found half^ 
a-cirown and wouldn’t pawn my things till some other day. 

The pawnshop occupies a most important place in the live# 
of the poor. It is their bank. Every Monday morning thesW 
places are crowded with women pawning the Sunday clothes 
of their husbands and children for a few shillings. Bteiy 
Sattlrday these clothes are redeemed. 

Although the law only allows the pawnbroker to chaigS 
I a| per cent, per annum upon the loans be advance^; yel be 
manages, by a number of other charge^ such as a bal^set^^ 
for the Bciket, or a penny for the accommodadon of a draWer}' 
or for foe iqiyil^ of hating a garment hung upv ahd 
to mfoe' np'hu pfoftt fo a coupte of hundredf per cent f /r ^ 

; iiumig m'y ihany adventurfo among the poor and 
clcW^ and indeed, in ordii^ lEi^' 1 hAvei fo^ 
the tittl tradeii of that 

douifor^'iCbi^; 


iGonxfoi''' Cfoorf’ ai'-'lilfor'iiii^ 





pafnbj'lee l;'’bitt;iiiiO^ 

%4tto|feai^j>i debt ^llectM^ and t)^:b lie 
l^Odt - All they d<^ if they meet ^th a r^iai^iy ctli^pd^ 
vhP objects to being ^landoed in this wholesale manlier^ is 
singly to put the case into the County Cour^ and th^ iuw 
immediately granted an injunction for the recovery of th^ 
pcop^ty, and they find their debt collected: for them Uritiiioat 
further trouble on their part Perhaps if a few rati^yOr^ 
whose money goes towards the up-keep of the police mid 
judicial forces, took this matter in hand, and begged for sbme 
iiiqouy to be made into the number of cases in which the 
County Court is used by alien traders who rob the inhabitants 
our towni^ some check might be put on this disastrous 
buaness. It is a most extraordinary policy that Britain 
pursues in regard to her commerce; considering tlud honest 
trade .is the whole foundation upon which her prosperity has 
been bufit up, and that her commerce is her strength and 
stay, the treatment that commercial matters receive horn the 
ll^ds of the Government and the mdraordinujy’' position 
,srbieh '‘society” takes with regard to peopld ih ’thid^ is 
jnbomprehensible. An American grocer’s wife^ who iea^ 
jl|^^.^bj>^band and all her household duties to take Care of 


dongas over to England with large sums of motis^, 
t^i^,a;hOuse in IlccadiUy, which her* hushand'probabl^ buys 
^|i^,puys^^^ amount to turo m t!>iae sotde^ b^^^ and 
p^entedat Com^ and mt^ndbci^ aod j^^ 
-as..i.most^.deshable ;addition : to Eng^^'st^ijid .f 



^ to eait her drmk her idhOs. 

POO^ 01$ oo^hed with tiie dihaus and wines ptbvidi^ 
hy tb(^ who^ a anxious to buy their way into this 
circle. Poor John Bull, with his uncertain It’s and hb 
oeryou8** my lady’s” flung desperately at the head of any 
titled dame he is brought into contact with, is eflfecthally 
snubbed and pushed out of the way. The Yankee lady sails 
hapi»ly forth to social distinction while the other droi» Out, 
bruised and disillusioned. I suppose the reason is that the 
Yankee grocer is too far away to be offensive, whereas one 
never knows that one may not meet the English one in one^s 
shopping expeditions, and be greeted fiuniliarly firom over the 
counter. 


In the same way the Government treats the British trader. 
In such foreign ports as Bombay, and in all the ports of the 
East India stations and our colonies, all British commmOhd 
ships are allowed to load only up to what is called the 
« PlimsoU Line.” This, of course, is an exceedingly wise ahd 
necessary regulation ; but look for the moment at the other aide 
of the question. There ue two ships in dock at the Bombi^ 
hatboqn One is a German vessel and one a British’}' sky 
they are both trading between Bombay and Zahabar, carrying 
CK^n, rke, and such other commodities as the cbmnietoe 
deffiandk^^ tonnage of the British vessd is strictiy Ufhlltod, 


The hnu^e of the Gemaan yessd is limited, not ; 

fiii^tiqiu W^h i^rd to the saife^ of the lives' of i j 

acc^'ng to the sfutce that is oontiuned 
'|fhju^';ev$ry its' utm(^.:.^^l^^'.;' 

as' 1^.' ' tesult : of ; .tfa^'y^'idijtish' 




r-^- - 

tttfU tike B^ping legiilatiQos of the Biifish Gofehuan^b - In 
laltUBMr '^hjple of yeftrs, ladies may Idol; forward to itoyNS 
lh%er prices for Feraan wool goods and Petsixm lamb fiUB. 
SOQseholdets who wish to cover their floors with Persian 
eirpefa, or decorate their walls with Eastern tapestrim, wUl 
find the prices raised so or 30 per cent Perfumers who 
deid in Persian or Turkish essential oils, such as oil of 
roses and other perfumes, will find that they have to pay a 
larger price for their goods, but they will probably find no key 
to tins mystery. There srill also be many families connected 
srito Eastern trade in this kingdom made considerably poorer, 
and openings in the East for the sons of Britishers will become 
perceptibly fewer. Why should these things be? For the 
sim{de reason that Unes of German Government subsidised 
diips owned by German companies, in which the Kaiser 
himself is said to have large interests, are now entering mto 
miflur competition with British vessels. These vessels ply in 
Bastem waters, and up the Persian Gulf, and because tbqr 
am allowed to leave British ports with far heavier, freigtos 
riiaa British steamers, and because the German traders will 
allow the natives longer credit, and be content to trade for 
ycry small profits, or even loss at first, being subsidised by 
Government, they will, with octopusdike tenadw, enfold 
in their gree<fy grip all, or most of the trade that lies in these 
waters. ' ' 

German clerks, German tailors^ and German shop-baepiNB 
of fBJdescriptions will go out on these vessels, payiiig jn* 
aiiMljihjy small fares, and take op poritimu in India and 
^teskt at tolaries upon wluch no Englishm^ . could 

innrtia^ it k a bad enoi^ condign: k 

but^^^t^ t^ys t^;;a;$k, 
a you^ 


fwwweencotu^^^^^f^^ aes 

afew yean this outlet for feminine ambition will also be dosed, 
for tbe yoimg men will no longm be able to obtain these well- 
paid derkships or positions in the large shops; their places 
will be taken by cheap foreigners. Looking at die matter in 
this way, it is one which concerns very dosdy, not only the 
British male, but alsatbe girls and women in this country. 

We are not content with encouraging the aliens to overflow 
the British Isles ; but we hdp them to crowd out our people 
even in our foreign possessions and trading ports. 



CHAPTER XVI 

SDOX OF TBB STRiCSt — PESTILEltT SHBLTBB 


British commerce filters through all grades of society^ jtnd 
l am able to give some homely examples of trade within our 
own borders, which may prove unfamiliar to many whom the 
laq^ matters of commerce interest considerably, 
t' It was some little time after I had started my journeys into 
Poverty. Kingdom that 1 became acquainted with several 
the '^gutter merchants” who advance the commerce of our 
ci^ 

lliese curious creatures are fitmiliar s^hts in almost every 


laige town ^ kingdom, and they are stracg^y ^like in 
gmemi appearance. The same musty« lack-li^ ' iigores^ the 
Bmpb ^Vasking” hand, and the common air of eapecUmcy, 
m^k the street hawkers. 

. ^myself learnt to my cost that the fortunes made by thm^ 
strict merchants exist only in the imaginations 
**si^dent8 of humanity /V whom Providence Ima Uest wi^ 
libeiid optimism in doling with facts. 7 , 

I ^ been a street pedto^ Studying 
localities^ and when I came m 


the efp^ment, I foi^^ 





virlkHtt made - Meindsi I hewd the marrelloin stot]^ 

ef 4; one iaever' tO'be-foigotttto 

diqr,'^ sic^tg ail krtide known as the ''Fifteen Puzzle ” in 
Fleet Streetj -aAd of another vho has made ;^i a day 
for three weeks by seilihg a mechanical toy. The men hold 
almost a monopoly of such quick-selling novelties as these. 

At this party I also learnt another secret of the pedlars' 
trade, and that is, that a “ pitch ” near the Stock Exchange is 
best for selling mechanical toys. “ The gents tike ’em 'ome 
to th4 kids to ‘ 'onie sweet 'ome, ’ ” said the man, who was 
deiSeatilig his knowledge to us at the feast for which we piaid. 

'The ftieiid who inidated me into the mysteries of thh 
peculiar tomch of trade was a woman 1 got acquainted atith 
one night on the steps near Waterloo Bridge. She had 
dra er h a Idank day : it was raining, and she had no money to 
bay a shdter or food; Her miserable stock was sodden add 
useless. Mr. C, the friend who accompanied me on nettfy 
all my wanderings in London^ was with me at the tim^ tmd I 
tcdd ber that he would give me some money if we ooulcf set 

Aomewheze as pedlars, and I promised her a share of die' 
trikhflgs if aiie woidd let me go alcmg in her coinpany.^ She 
waa, too Wpm-out and subdued to make terraA, aad^ t^ 
prospect of a mead and sbelto from the nun wai enOagb'ito 
ttoi'^Bto wss very as regards Mr. C., whOiniife 

jttd|jied ito: ^ hulking loafer Aedlipm . 

-ltse-’to:hfe:''|)oor.^^ _ 

'^^4ent ^ and mdaiec^^ 


fliS; icii(^ sad crushed, and die ebc^dei^pe bouidd 
A ^ sfieppgtrl ” nade up my cotAttme, Wbeo, 1 met 'the old 
ilfman in the monuog, she greeted me jridit . 

^; ;a'‘Youll have to get a brief, my dew.*^ 
brief?’' I asked. 

** Yes, a license.” 

*' And where shall I get one ?’* 

; *' Police station near where you live.” 

Accordingly, we presented ourselves at a West End p<^ce 
emtion. Paying the sum of five shillings, I was given a form 
.tcf fill upb naming a reference to my character. One of the 
quesdons asked me by the inspector in charge was : *' Have 
you ever been in prison ? ” 

1 am getting used to this inquiry, as it was one I had to 
answer when Ravelling to America the prenous year in a first 
aakon. 

r A license was pven to me without further difficulty. . 

. :-My; fiknd and 1 started off to a small drop .in. a court 
kadingfecfm the Strand, where 1 was to buy my siraft as the 
>atedt-ij^ttade of pedlars is invariably odled. There are taro 
Or three shops devoted to the busmess in this ndghbourhood. 
>Tluise supply the pedlars of the West End with their goods. 
The East End street sellers obtain their &ncy articles chiefiy 
«ftqm Houndsditch. Ohce I . bought wf stodr dieee firom a 
.Folidi Jew, and at another time feom a squirO-tqwd (Getsnlm 

'* WeV jntdr in Fleet Street,” my conqwidOR «ddlf,«AsrsK 
:dkad*lKiiqd>ti our jtiayftil oi wares fiorm^the biHKife 
ioiirokod a,{H^;aaii hddjmmy ift:.the-.)ifdeiw«sgldrcfi!'’ei|l^ 


of 1^ m 

U)e ftnd utiUty of li^ irues. For levend boon 1 

oideavoarad :.to mU ^koes atid matdiea, but 1 scarcely got 
so noch os a look at my tray. At last a small Ixqr boaght 
a box of matdies, and soon after a vorkman bought a pair 
of laces. An hour or so after this rush of business, a well- 
dressed woman wanted me to sell her two pairs of laces £« 
one penny. 

My price was one penny a pair. 

She refused to pay me this sum, and went off, dedaring 
that she had never heard of such a thing. 

It was now getting dusk. 1 felt tired and hungry. My 
takings during a long afternoon amounted to z^d., or }d. 
profit 

My companion had not done much better; she had tdcen 
fourpence for her day's work. 

She told m^ in answer to my inquiries as to where she 
intended sleeping, that she would go to Hanbury Sheet, 
Whitechapel, where the Salvation Army have a shdtee for 
women. I asked her if she 'would mind me going with her. > 

: *^Kot at all, my dear,” she rqilied. "You’ll have to pay 
tuppence fizr yer lay down, but it is as ecunferaUe ai^aeelhr 
rile mimey as you’ll find all over London.” 

It is a long walk from Fleet Street to Whiteduqid, and 
the time I arrived' there I was vary tiled. 

Eknbuiy Street is in the very cmtre of tite Jews* quertir. 
Lrirdi m<»t of the Salvation Army institutions, its erieitmnis 
not hi^iQring. When we arrived, gathered round a oeinllr 
rioer -'ireie >a nunfoer nf women of the homdesa dase 
of them weiw?olA Boam hafdtbn^ 
8aggc4''^'a<>ds: 'SOmw-apms ’idmost'^^hbariiMfc''^«K - 


1#8 


b5r' olie the hotbeless women dr(^>ped twq>ence into 
jutd passed in thtoogh the doorway. 

Following their example I also tendered my mcmey, and 
ipisted into a long hall— deanj and not without some effort at 
artistic decoration. In the centre of the hall burned a bright 
fir^ vdiich lent an air of cheerfulness and eren welcome to 
the place. 

Still following the lead of my companions, I purchased at 
a bar in the passage a mug of tea and a large piece of bread 
and jam, for which I had to pay one penny. I carried my 
bread and tea into a spacious room in which were ranged a 
number of backed seats, facing a platform. Several Salvation 
Army officials were present in the room. 

Seating myself, I ate my bread and jam and drank my tea 
—both of which were really good. Before my meal was 
finished a lady, clad in the familiar red and blue of the 
"Army," mounted the platform and commenced a service. 
Hymns were sung and prayers offered, and an earnest address 
delivered. 

V 

A remarkable feature of this place was, that' sis soon as 
the women got inside, they brightened up and became quite 
cheerful They seemed quite at home, and the Salvation 
Army lasses were sympathetic and homely. 

After the service we were allowed to go to b^. The bed- 
room bad evidently been at some period a chapd. At one 
end was a platform, and on either side were galleries. On the 
fioor were ranged a number of oblong boxes, the sidM of 
which are about twelve inches high. Inside these boxes are 
mattresses of ^^ericah leather stuffed with sesiweed. Another 
leathm is used for covering. UCany Of the lodgers bring 
Mfidles of old newspspeis and news’^^lacaids whkh^ ^ey 
ine'iimiiiHoiws^^ and eddUkuMl eoyering.-^ 



iliefltceet $t9 

nigfat TUs perluqps because I wa» so tired. IS; the nxming 
I had breakfast, which coat me ai)odiec:peim]^ aod at ^ht 
o'clock tbade my way westwards again, this time idone. 

I took my stand next to a woman whom X had often 
noticed standing near the Savoy Hotel in the Strand. In her 
arms she carried a baby, and by her side was a little boy. 
She offered matches to the passers-by with a very woeful look 
indeed. 

I noticed that several people gave her money and reftised 
to take her wares. After some little time 1 entered into 
conversation with her, and she confided to me that match- 
peddling was no good unless you had a baby. She also told 
me that the baby in her arms was not her own, but one 
that she got twopence a day for minding while its mother 
worked in a laundry. Thus the baby brought in money 
in two ways. I asked her if I could get a baby any- 
where. 

She told me then that a regular trade was done in hired 
babies, and that if you got the right sort it paid very w^ to 
have a baby — “ But they’re a job to carry, my dear,” she. said. 
However, she {aomised to find a baby by. next day that I 
could hire. 

My takings amounted to sixpence that day, but the woman 
with the babies took one Shilling and ninepence, thus prpving 
dearly that these poor mites do create sympathy and incmilo 
the profits of those who have them. ■ 

Tliime is not enough positive cruelty to these little oQe>iio 
warrant the intm-ference of the Society, for^ ?reyentkm-.of 
Cnidty te Children, but it re<|uires fittle 
.''koW^ruinifimt. iils't^^^ 

i lhese babies are hdd ^ 

.exposed to. 



SfBny of Ae littlo ones pine and di^ yet neither the 
OhSthent nor the hirers know why. 

I hired my baby for sixpence from a woman in a street off 
^ Fulham Road. The little thing was quite a professional, 
add I must submit in favour of the mother, that she was a 
working woman who had to leave her little children while she 
wais at work, and that she was earnest in her demand that I 
should look after her little one and keep it warm. 

1 had it long enough to prove that a baby is a valuable 
adjunct for a street pedlar. I took two shillings the first two 
hOtirs I had it. I could not bear to keep the mite out longer. 
It is a cruel practice. The whole life of the children of the 
vagabond class is cruel enough. No one who is not familiar 
with their surroundings can realise how grave a danger to the 
State are these children bred in crime and degradation who 
are growing up to infest our cities. 

I was very much impressed with the fact that the women 
street pedlars I had talked to had none of them any fixed 
abode. Later, I learned that as a class, the street pedlars 
frt^uent philanthropic shelters and common lodging-houses, 
and thus save a strain on their uncertain earnings that regular 
ro<^ rent would be. I asked the woman with the baby 
where she was going to sleep, and she told me at No. — , 
a- lodging-house for women in Kensington Street. It seemed 
so far off that I suggested Westminster. My companion 
told me that she would sooner walk the streets all night than 
sleep in one of them Westminster “kip” houses. 

“Why?" I had asked. 

“They ain't decent,” she answered ; "and them as go there 
would rob you of your shoe-strings if you gave ’em a 
^charicfe’’ 

"’“Surely they will not rob one of their own class ? ” 

“ Class, my gal, the likes of them ain’t no class." 




SINGING IN THE STKEETS 1-OK A LIVING. 



* 7 * 


Tbit' .4MEKrdb|g>''ai» 

advie^ 

able dMtJidti*^ WhtB tbe tniQ ^ I badb goocl-t]rft 
ta die bad^oisindo*, and lemmded ber of her promise tO jfittd- 
someone to lend me a baiby< 

Under die shadow of the venerable Abbey there ate • 
number of mean streets. There I intended to search imtti 


I found a suitable lodging-house wherein to investigate. 

Centuries have passed since this nmghbourhood offered 
shelter and immunity from arrest to cut-throats, thieves, irOd 
vagabonds. Here was situated the Abbey Sanctuary. Tithes 
have dianged : brick boxes with slate lids have taken the plaOh 
Of the old timber-built dens that once stood here, but the 
genawl bad character of the inhalhtants still remains. 

Some of the worst people in London may be met within A 
stone’s-throw of St. Stephen’s. 

*' Beds, fourpence a night” This, painted on the side Of A 
lamp fixed over a dingy doorway, led me to believe that hemt 
I diould find the lodging I was looking for. On the steps 
were three or four women, bareheaded and blasphemone. 
@M woman carried a tin beer-can; the other three cairieil 
baUes — ^poor litriA* iU-clad, ill-fed, white-faced mites. vi%ife 
I hesitated to enter, die woman With^ the beer-can aotoil^ 
put dre vessel to a baby^ lips and let it: drink. Someh(|^]r;t 
could not make up my mmd to enter here; and aftd , 
ffldtHtv Mr. C.; '1 nent on to another lodging-ho^ fei 


common lodgii^-boihes sedh: Idwa^: tb; 
m:i|lfo in ;'0e ' -riitt^bburhood::"'^ 


soufl^t was <c^ 

ijpWjinQjtariQn ^ to - ^ligit];^ jfoia :«ui,^..«one«^i|iiid^ mett 
8<Hne droadful specimens of the gen^" Si 9 c ^gltiMied 
1 ^ 1 ^ the. door. My eM>erlence ..i% thitt. when^i^ are 
4|ipp(|^ ^nd bni^isedt. they are even, more horrit^ than 
sito of ,the same cla^ Mr. C aadeil ercnt in togstherr 
thA fiifhy crowd at the ^entraanee which -was 

to all th^ loJpr*r« . . ■ - 

,.j^e. found ourselves in a badly-lighted hall, at the end. M 
t|^y|Gh ^fas^^ a to some mysterioas 

rei^ , below, from where rose an evil-smdling stream of 
hot, .bad ai)^ and such a babble of bad language^ that ibr 
% j|)OBient my courage hiiled, and I neady turned and fled. 
At last, mastering my fear and disgust, I descended the 
remaining steps^ with Mr. C. dose behind, me, and we 
Pgg^ into a long, double room filled with smoke . ■ 
.^^umbers of men wme smoking, and steam arose fiwm 
CQO^g . which was bdng done ova a laige: open ‘4bev.ot 
end. of the room. Hanging on lines ne^tr the fiieptane 
article of clothing^ which appeared to have, been 
Wimhed and placed to dry. In the centxe of the 'room 
wore two long, dirty deal tables. Beside^ these werp. several 
fmrms without . backs With the exception , of a rough dresser 
one of the walls and a l^fJini^hoaEd in x>ne |!^^ 
comers, the tables and bendies constijteted the whde furaji^ 
Mj^is strange apartment, 

, shall I forget mise^ oC. tl#. rdpsyrdh^dw^ 

untfl thejpprnijug that^^^^ 
ilpstijng . it^ w^^. ,The^..seip^||^!^^ 


273 


Ubc ot tbe Street 

teapots, mugs, and remains of food. The whole establish 
ment afforded an untidy, wretched, and . uncomfortable 
shelter. 

Bad as the place was, it was made yet more horrible by 
its inhabitants. The most appalling collection of villainous, 
dirty, and evil-smelling wretches were gathered there. 

It appeared that we had arrived at a time when the 
occupants of this kitchen were greatly excited. Just before 
we entered a man had been arrested in this very room for 
beating his wife so badly that she had had to be taken to 
the hospital. 

It was not until the woman was nearly murdered that the 
other cowardly occupants of the kitchen had interfered. It 
seems to be quite a creed with these vagabonds not to inter- 
fere in the fight between man and wife. Just now the whole 
affair was being excitedly discussed in the most terrible 
language I have ever heard. 

At the corner of the table nearest to which I stood sat an 
old grey-haired woman. Her bonnet hung down on her back 
supported by its strings tied round her neck, her thin arms 
bare to the elbows. On the table in front of her was a greasy 
paper filled with fried fish and scraps of fried potatoes. These 
she was eating with her fingers. How she masticated her 
food I could not imagine, as she seemed not to have a tooth 
in her head. Looking up she saw me watching her. A 
smile spread over her puckered old face. She moved a little 
further up the seat and beckoned me to sit down by her side. 
This I did. 

Then, with her mouth full of food she mumbled what I 
understood to be an invitation to me to eat with her. I 
think I must have shuddered, for she turned her bleary 
old eyes on me and gazed in my face for a moment 

•“You ain't been 'ere afore, gal ? ” she said. 

a 

s 



274 


xcbe Sottl Aarftet 


“ No,” I blurted out 

“ What’s brought ye here, then ? ” she queried. 

” Misfortune,” I answered. 

Ah ! down on your luck, eh ? Well, buck up and have a 
bit of grub— nothing like grub to buck you up, ’cept beer, 
when your luck’s out.” Then she pushed the paper of fish 
and potatoes towards me. 

Unlovely as these people are, they have the redeeming 
grace of charity. They are nearly always willing to share 
their food or covering with one of their own class who 
arouses their sympathy. And ignorant as they are, they 
all have their philosophy. 

As I sat near the old woman, a big, brutal-looking man 
came across the room, and staring at me for a moment, said 
to the old woman beside me : 

** Hallo, Liz, who is yer pal ? ” 

dunno, Jim, a lodger, ain’t she?” she asked; then 
turning to me she said: ‘^You are a-staying here, ain’t 
yer?” 

I said I wanted to, but I had not seen anyone in charge, 
and then I pointed to Mr. C., who pretended to be nodding 
near the door. 

Ob, that’s all right,” the man said. I am the depety ; 
give us yer ’oof.” 

The old woman had to explain to me that he was asking 
for my money. Mr. C. came up and gave him a shilling. 
He took it and told us to come up to the ‘‘orffice for yer 
smash.” This I understood to mean the change, so we 
followed him out of the kitchen and up the dark stairs to 
the entrance hall. He unlocked a door and entered a room, 
and presently returned with fourpence. 1 asked him where 
I was to sleep. 

“ Want to go to bed now ? ” he said. ^ 



Vbe of tbe street 275 

“Yes,” I answered, for I felt I could not face the kitchen 
again. 

“ Oh, well, go up them stairs, and your room will be the 
first on the left,” he said, pointing to the stairs that led to 
the rooms above. 

I mounted the stairs and found a landing dimly lighted by 
a gas jet turned very low. Near the gas bracket, fastened 
on the wall, were the rules and regulations issued by the 
London County Council, concerning the management of 
common lodging-houses. I paused for a moment to read 
these, then turned to the first door on the left, opened 
it, and found a dimly-lighted room containing ten beds very 
close together. The room was as yet unoccupied. 

I entered and turned up the gas and examined the beds 
and the room. The floor was bare and dirty. The walls and 
ceiling, however, were whitewashed. At the single window of 
the room a pair of dirty, tattered curtains hung. The bed- 
clothing appeared fairly clean. For a moment I stood and 
wondered which bed I ought to occupy for the night, not 
knowing if any were engaged. I did not care to go downstairs 
again and ask the man in charge, so making up my mind I 
took the one nearest the door. 

Tired out, I was soon asleep, but was speedily awakened, 
for the bed had other occupants besides myself, and the walls 
and ceiling, notwithstanding the whitewash, harboured all 
manner of creeping horrors. The noise downstairs continued, 
people began to come upstairs, in the hall below a fight took 
place, a number of men seemingly the worse for liquor 
stumbled up the stairs singing loudly. 

It was not until Big Ben had struck one o'clock that the 
house became comparatively quiet. One by one the other 
occupants of the room came to bed. There was not much 
conversation, but what there was, was profane. Once daring 



976 


Vbe Soul Aarftet 


the night the door was opened and a man’s head appeared ; 
he did not enter the room, but gently closed the door after he 
had looked in. 

I heard a distant clock strike three, and then, being unable 
to endure the stuffiness of that ugly room with its heavy- 
breathing occupants any longer, I crept down to the kitchen. 
Mr. C. had said he would spend the night there studying the 
various types of humanity that drifted in. 

I found him dozing, with his arms leaning on the table. 
We thought at first of slipping quickly away, but decided to 
stay and see the morning life of a mixed lodging-house. Mr. 
C. and I sat talking in low whispers of our plans. Several 
men and two women were lying on the forms and tables fast 
asleep, contrary to the regulations, which forbid the use of 
any room for sleeping that is not specially licensed for the 
purpose. 

At five o’clock a boy of about fourteen came into the room. 
The gas was then alight ; it had been burning all night. The 
boy began to poke up the almost dead fire. ^ 

In answer to my inquiry as to where I could wash, he 
showed me into a dark and evil-smelling place about eight 
feet square. Against one of the walls were four grimy 
earthenware troughs. Over each trough was a tap. Hanging 
on the door was a coarse towel absolutely black and stiff with 
dirt. Holding my hands underneath the running water, I 
washed them and wiped them on my handkerchief. This 
done, I returned to the kitchen. 

A woman and two small children had entered whilst I had 
been performing my very primitive ablutions. The woman 
took from the dresser a saucepan, went to the tap where I had 
been washing, filled it with water and put it on the fire to 
boil. When the water boiled she took a tea-pot from the 
dresser and made tea. She also took from the dresser* a 



XTbe Bbde of tbe street 977 

basin, into which she poured some of tbe hot water she was 
not using for tea-making. In this basin she washed the faces 
of her children, wiping them with her apron, then to my 
horror, she threw away the dirty water from the basin and 
filled it with tea, which she and the children drank. 

The tables were strewn with broken food, fish-bones, basins, 
and beer-cans. The floor was covered with filth and dirt to 
a most disgusting degree. The dreadful odours of this badly 
ventilated room were almost overpowering. A man rose from 
one of the seats, shook himself, lit a dirty clay pipe, and not 
ill-humouredly wished me “ Good morning.^* I saw that he was 
the man who had taken our money last night. He went to 
one corner of the room, took up a broom and commenced to 
clean up. This consisted of his dragging the biggest pieces 
of refuse that littered the floor towards the fireplace; he 
gathered them together in a shovel and threw them on the 
fire. Then he went across the room to a box that contained 
sand, and spread a few handfuls over the dirty floor. This 
constituted probably his daily hygienic eflbrts. 

I stumbled up the dark staircase and out into the street, 
thanking God for the clean, cool rain and sweet morning air. 

I have since been in a house reserved for women. There 
are, I think, about twenty-five licensed common lodging- 
houses for women only. These houses require from four- 
pence to sixpence for the use of a bed. As a general thing, 
the accommodation provided for women is inferior to that 
provided for men and the prices higher. 

There are, of course, many unlicensed places of refuge in 
London, but only the initiated can find these, and though I 
heard them talked of, I knew it would be impossible for me 
to investigate them. Of licensed common lodging-houses 
there are some 115 in London, and the prices for beds range 
from fpurpence to sixpence. 



278 XCbe Soul /Darliet 

The County Council regulations for these licensed lodging- 
houses are strict enough, 

A medical officer inspects the premises occasionally, but 
the conditions obtaining in most of them are bad. 

There can hardly be a remedy for breaking of laws, over- 
crowding, and insanitary conditions among a vagabond class, 
unless decency is enforced with a strong hand. 

No common lodging-house ought to be run as a private 
individual enterprise. I have been in a good many of these 
at different times, and everything I saw convinced me that a 
speedy reform is urgently needed. In the matter of securing 
for women in London respectable and sufficient shelter much 
yet remains to be done. 

The London County Council and several philanthropic 
institutions have built lodging-houses for men. There are the 
Rowton Houses, and the Deptford County Council Lodging- 
House, but there are no similar places for women. 

There are a very few scattered shelters, such as the Church 
Army Shelter, the Dormitory, Providence Row, Wihitechapel, 
which affords practically free shelter to destitute women, but 
such refuges are like wells in the Sahara, few and far between. 

A curious sight once attracted me during my journeyings 
in the East End, and it seemed to me an eloquent condemna- 
tion of our loafing men. This was the oasis of vagabondage 
in the alien quarter of Spitalfields. There, among a foreign 
population of hard, driving, greedy, dirty, but endlessly 
industrious folk, 1 found the lodging-houses in Brick Lane, 
Flower and Dean Streets, and Dorset Street, practically the 
only houses in the neighbourhood occupied by English 
people, and their condition was so destitute that they could 
afford no better shelter than was offered by these filthy 
places. The aliens could make homes for themselves, but our 
idle people lived in the streets and slept in doss-houses- 



CHAPTER XVII 


THE BREEDING-PLACE OP THIEVES 

I HAD been reading a variety of correspondence on the 
deterioration of the race, together with various panaceas for 
this evil. On one side were those tender humanitarians who 
think that all discipline and judicial or military severity 
emanate from the devil, and on the other hand, there was the 
reiterated cry of the necessity for conscription. I had seen a 
good deal of John Hooligan in his natlv^e haunts, and certainly 
my prescription for him would have been compulsory service 
in the Army, where he would have been licked into some 
semblance of humanity. I had seen little children crippled 
and tortured by hulking brutes of men who so swell the 
ranks of the unemployed. I have known women who, within 
an hour of their confinement, had been obliged to work for 
the support of such ruffians as these, enduring from them 
besides all manner of unspeakable brutality. My inclination, 
therefore, was to prescribe for these amiable gentlemen strictly 
judicial floggings. The only thing it seemed to me they had 
any regard for was their own precious skins. Nevertheless, 
though my experiences among these people had been fairly 
intimate, I felt that I was not capable of forming a just opinion 
of their character or needs till I had made more prolonged 
studies among them. I had several times, in company with 
friends interested in prison and rescue work, attended what 
•were practically thieves’ suppers. I had mad^ myself 

279 



280 


Ube Soul Aarftet 


acquainted with the working of several branches of the 
Prisongate Mission, and now my anxiety was by some 
possibility to place myself in a position to judge of the lives 
of these people without the prejudice that one naturally has 
while seeing them as an outsider. Of course it was an 
impossibility for me to get myself committed to jail, or to 
indulge in any crime that would have given me a passport into 
the select circle of criminals, and I was at my wits’ end to 
know how I might accomplish my purpose. Then I bethought 
me of my friend Mr, C. If there is one man in the whole of 
London who would be likely to know anything of this side of 
life, it would certainly be the man who had been my guide on 
many occasions when we had sallied forth to the haunts of 
misery and poverty, disguised beyond recognition, as wanderers 
ourselves. Mr. C. was not enthusiastic about this plan of 
mine. He considered that my knowledge of the people was 
quite intimate and extensive enough. But I said to him : 

wish you would help me. I really would like very 
much to spend some time among the hooligan and criminal 
poor without actually living among them night and day. I 
would like to form some idea as to what remedies might be 
applied to improving their condition and humanising them.” 

Mr. C. laughed. “ The best way to humanise that kind of 
character,” he said, “as everyone who has worked among 
them knows, is to have them flogged ' once a week 
reg’lar.’” 

Having, however, no hope at all that such a just state of 
affairs would come about on this side of the Millennium, I 
coaxed Mr. C. to make some investigations for me ; and he 
managed to get hold of a woman who was well acquainted 
with one of the most dreadful localities in London. She was 
a working woman, and at one time filled the office of district 
nurse, but she took to drink and lost her health, and so by . 



aSi 


TLbc SreeMiidi^pIace ot xrbfevea 

degrees had fallen very low. She had, however, been rescued 
by one of the missions working in the East End, and through 
this agency was introduced to one of the prison missionaries, 
who, seeing a possibility of making her useful, set her to work 
in this particular slum, where from time to time she visited 
the women, and gave notices of such children as she found 
starving or deserted. I think that her work had completed 
her reformation, for when we knew her, though she was very 
poor, she certainly was perfectly respectable. She was not 
exactly prepossessing to look upon, but seemed quite honest 
and straightforward. After hearing her talk for a little while, 
Mr. C. and I arranged with her to procure a slum residence, 
where I might go with her and stay for a day or so at a time. 
Between these two friends the necessary details were accom- 
plished. They rented a room, and fitted it with a few very 
rough pieces of furniture. The expenditure on household 
fittings, I think, amounted to about nine shillings, for we 
bought the things at one of those sad little second-hand 
furniture shops which are characteristic of the poorest neigh- 
bourhoods. I write ^‘sad" because the windows of these 
shops reveal so much more to me than their frowsy show of 
various odds and ends. The rickety tables, the broken chairs, 
the rusty fire-irons, the faded pictures and battered ornaments 
speak only too plainly of the struggles and miseries of the 
unfortunates who once owned them. Poor creatures ! who in 
numbers of cases had been forced to sell their miserable 
oddments in order to get food and warmth for hungry little 
ones perhaps. 

“ I don’t mind gettin’ rid of my clobber or tools so much ; 
but 'avin* to sell the poor old sticks fair breaks my ’art,” I 
once heard a disconsolate out-of-work say, as he described, in 
husky tones, the sale of his home for food. 

* I had arranged with Mr. C. and our new-found accomplice 



282 


Ube Soul Aarltet 


— if so I may term her — to meet me at a point which was 
within a few minutes’ walk of Providence Court, the slum we 
had chosen. When I arrived at this meeting-place I found 
both my champions waiting. Mr. C. shouldered my bundle 
of bedding and clothes, which, according to his advice, I had 
done up in an old piece of sacking, and bade us follow him. 
For a hundred yards or so, we had to pass along the crowded 
pavement of a poor people’s market, and I found it difficult 
to keep near my companions. It amused me to see the 
strenuous way in which Mr. C. pushed his way through the 
noisy, jostling crowd who, with the exception of a few good- 
humoured cries, such as “Mind the grease,” “Don’t push, 
governor, shove ! ” “ Anybody seen a moving job ? ” etc., 
paid no more attention to my burly companion’s butting and 
pushing — except to open a way for him — than if he had been 
doing them a favour. I have seen many crowds in many 
countries, but I do not think that a more good-humoured 
crowd exists than one sees on a Saturday night in a poor 
people’s market-place. 1 have often, on Saturday evenings, 
visited such market-places as Chapel Street, Islington, the 
New Cut, Lambeth, Lambeth Walk, East Lane, Walworth, 
and from twenty to thirty other places of this class to be 
found in and about London. At such times and in such 
localities, the working man is undoubtedly seen at his best. 
He has a whole day and two nights between him and the 
return of toil on Monday morning. For a little time at least, 
there is the luxury of wages to spendj and relaxation, and the 
comparative comfort of food and warmth, therefore there is 
much gaiety and lightness of heart. Only those who have 
actually lived by stress of muscle from Monday morning until 
Saturday noon, can appreciate the relief that comes with the 
weekly half-holiday and the Sunday’s rest. 

My guides turned from this market into a small street' 



XTbe SreeMttd^lMace of XTbfeves 283 

which appeared darker perhaps than it really was, owing to 
the contrast it made with the well-lighted thoroughfare we had 
just left. A few yards up this street Mr. C. halted, and 
pointing to a dismal- looking entry, told me it was down 
there that Mrs. Jebb had a room and had rented one for 
me. The place appeared so dark and so fearful that my 
heart failed, but Mr. C. and the woman encouraged 
me. 

“ Don't give the show away," said Mr. C. “ No one will 
interfere with you ; they think we are relations of Mrs. Jebb's, 
and she has given out that we are.” 

He went on and I followed with Mrs. Jebb, past a group of 
hooligan men and women who stood in the tunnel-looking 
entry which led into the cul-de-sac beyond, known as 
Providence Court. Providence! How came this awful 
place to have such a name? For every person who has 
dwelt within its area from the time of its insanitary inception 
until to-day, has daily tempted Providence and dallied with 
disease and death. The place is nothing but a stagnant, 
festering back-wash of humanity, where naught but crime 
and disease can flourish. The houses standing round this 
court were thirty in number, and with the exception of those 
facing the entry, none of them had any rear windows or back 
air outlets whatever. The only ventilation in them was from 
the narrow area in front, and in this yard all the sanitary 
conveniences for the houses were situated. What little wash- 
ing was done, the women-folk did in the open yard. The 
water for domestic use had to be drawn from two taps fastened 
to the sanitary offices in the middle of this place. The slops 
and dirty water were emptied into an open sink in the centre 
of the court. In wet weather pools of dirty water — ^in some 
places ankle-deep— had to be waded through to reach the 
houses. The whole place seemed nothing better than % 



984 XCbe Soul /Darltet ^ 

baleful bacteria farm spreading poison throughout the neigh- 
bourhood. The fever cart/' as the inhabitants of this court 
call the ambulance of the Asylum’s Board, constantly stopped 
at the entry, and hardly a week went by without the children 
of the place having an opportunity of crowding round the 
nurses as they carried from one or other of the houses a poor, 
dying child or a woman too ill to move, victims of rack-rent 
and sanitary negligence. It was in the early summer that 1 
went with Mrs. Jebb and Mr. C. to explore this region. Mrs. 
Jebb had two small rooms on the same landing as mine, and 
Mr. C. and she looked after me. Mrs. Jebb lived among 
these people, and had rendered herself so necessary to them 
that they accepted her at last as belonging to themselves. 
She had the women’s confidence, and nursed them and their 
babies in their hour of need. She rescued many a young 
child and girl from criminality, and many a budding 
hooligan was, through her influence, removed to happier 
surroundings. 

In making our way to the house where my room had been 
engaged we were obliged to step over several persons of both 
sexes who were lying upon the ground outside their houses. 
Others were sitting with their backs to the wall drinking beer 
from cans. It appeared that the inhabitants of Providence 
Court had elected to spend the night al fresco. Before I had 
been an hour in my own room I discovered the reason for this 
unusual desire for fresh air exhibited by my neighbours, and 
only fear and modesty restrained me from sleeping in the 
open air myself. The houses were all infested with vermin, 
and sleeping out was the rule for the simple reason that there 
could be no sleeping in. 

** Lots of us don’t never sleep inside durin’ the ’ot weather, 
me gal,” a woman declared to me. “ Yer see, yer can’t sleep 
indoors unless yer gets bug-proof.” 



t TEbe Sreebfnd«place of fEbieoea *85 

•‘Bug-proof?” I s^id. 

“ Yes, blind drunk, don’t yer understand ? ” 

My courage sank to zero, for I knew that this remedy did 
not lie within my reach. I invented, however, some other 
remedies for this disgusting form of insomnia. I began by 
carefully insulating my bedstead by standing its legs in four 
basins of water ; then I erected a canopy of net over my 
head, and by this means, together with a plentiful supply of 
carbolic and Keating’s powder, obtained a sleeping-place. My 
clothes 1 kept at the foot of my bed wrapped in disinfected 
sheets. 

The house in which Mrs. Jebb and I stayed was rented 
from a company who were the owners of the court. It 
consisted of six rooms and was tenanted by fifteen persons. 
There was the landlord himself, who paid the company ten 
shillings a week for the house, and sublet four of the rooms, 
retaining two for himself and his family, who numbered eight 
persons. The occupants of these two rooms were the landlord 
and his wife, a young man, a relative of the wife’s, and five 
children. What the landlord did for a living I never found 
out. The young man picked up precarious employment by 
daily attending, or ** hanging on,” as it is called, at a 
neighbouring cab-rank. This man, as far as I could judge, 
was the only man living in the court, except Mr. C., who had 
anything to do that bore any resemblance to honest effort. 
Most of the men in the place did not even make a pretence 
of honesty, and openly acknowledged that they lived “ on the 
cross ” — that is, by dishonesty. 

One evening, while sitting with Mrs. Jebb, we were startled 
by quite an uproar in the open yard, and on looking out from 
the window, which opened into the court, we found that the 
place had been raided by the police, who had swooped down 
'both in plain clothes and in uniform. The object of thdv 



*86 TCbe Sotti Aavftet f 

very unwelcome visit was to arrest a notorious criminal, and 
they soon led from one of the houses a sullen, low-browed 
ruffian and dragged him from the court, hand-cuffed and well 
guarded ; they had arrested him for burglary and supposed 
murder. 

For hours after the departure of the police and their 
prisoner, the inhabitants of this dreadful place stood round in 
groups discussing the affair, and although one heard many 
expressions of sympathy for the ruffian who had been arrested, 
and many denunciations of the police who had arrested him, 
not a single word of pity for the unfortunate victim of the 
crime was Ui^tered. Many minister threats of what was to 
happen to a certain person, an erstwhile inhabitant of the 
place, and companion of the arrested man, were prevalent 
that night. This man, in the general opinion of the others, 
had contributed to the discovery of the murderer by narking ” 
— that is, by acting as a police spy. I am sure that had the 
person so denounced presented himself in his old haunts that 
night, whether he had betrayed his companion or not, the 
feeling against him was so strong that he would have been 
done to death by those savages. All through the night crowds 
of men and women gathered round the door of the house 
from which the suspect had been dragged. These people were 
comforting, or trying to comfort, the woman who had lived 
with the arrested man. Every few minutes she gave vent to 
her feelings in a flood of screams, curses, and foul language. 

“ They’ll top him ; they’ll top him. I know they will ; I 
know they will!” she screamed. 

“ Oh, no, they won’t ; we’ll get him off, old girl. They 
can’t bring it ’ome to ’im, an’ they’ll ’ave to prove it plain 
afore they can ’ang ’im,” said a man, trying to calm her. 

* During the night, after the arrest, the children of the court 
wm mad with excitement. They tan from one group to* 



I XTbe Steebittd^place of XTbfeves 987 

another eagerly listening to the denunciations of the police 
and the copper’s “nark.” For days after, these precocious 
suites varied their games, which usually consisted of playing 
drunken mother and father, by inventing new ones, wherein 
the central figures were the suspected murderer and the police 
spy. At one time the murderer would escape from prison, 
and at another he would be rescued at- the moment he was 
about to be solemnly hanged by a diminutive Jack Ketch 
of ten. 

In all these slum games the policeman was treated as a 
natural enemy of mankind, and was invariably ill-treated and 
discomfited by these embryo gaol-birds. 

But to return to the discussions which followed the arrest. 
One speech which was repeated to me I think expressed 
clearly the feeling of hatred this class bears for the guardians 
of the peace. Beneath our window, in the centre of a group 
of young hooligans, stood a lad of not more than twenty. He 
said with curses : 

“ ’S ’elp my Gawd, if I knew for certain I was a-goin’ ter 
peg out ter-morrer, I’d go strite out o’ this ’ere court, an’ I’d 
out a b rosser ter-night.” 

The term “rosser” is the slang title applied to the 
police. 

A few days after the arrest, Mrs. Jebb and I were called 
down from our rooms one morning by the landlord, to see a 
man who was canvassing the neighbours on behalf of the 
suspected murderer. 

“ I ’ave called on yer,” he said, “ to see if yer will come a bit 
towards the mouthpiece of Ned Gilson.” 

This was the name of the arrested man. 

I did not dare to show that I was bewildered at the request, 
and my instinct told me, although the language was un* 
Xamiliar, that the man was asking for a subscription towards 



3S8 Ube Soul Aarbet 

the defencei and when I saw Mrs. Jebb give him sixpence, I 
did the same. 

He entered the amount on a dirty piece of paper. This 
practice of canvassing a neighbourhood on behalf of a criminal 
is quite common. Publicans and others are systematically 
terrorised into adding their names to these subscription lists. 
Gangs of brutal-looking men — friends of some ruffian upon 
whom the hand of justice has recently fallen — make their 
way into the small shops, and literally demand, with threats, 
money from the shop-keepers to defend their companions. 
From Providence Court there sallied forth every day such 
gangs, who, like packs of wolves, preyed in concert upon the 
unwary. Swooping down upon street book-makers, whose 
business lays them open to blackmail, they looted them of 
money. I have often heard descriptions of these “ ramping ” 
expeditions, bow such a man was ” bounced ” out of two quid 
(blackmailed for two sovcicigns), or another “held up for a 
fiver” — that is, robbed of a £5 note. Gangs of vaga- 
bonds lived about this neighbourhood, who dail^ obtained 
money by threat, making a trade of terrorism and a business 
of blackmail. Children scarcely able to walk crawled into 
shops and under the stalls of the adjoining market, filching 
tl>e fruit or anything their tiny hands could seize. 

Who’s a-comin* out nickin’?” some urchin of six or 
seven would say, and followed by a little gang of children, 
would go off on what was called a “nickin’” expedition, 
which means a thieving raid. As they grew older, they 
were initiated by more experienced criminals into the art 
of “box-lifting” — that is, till - stealing. A shop where 
the takings were kept in the old-fashioned sliding drawer 
under the counter would be marked. The shop would 
be watched, and if it was left a minute unattended, one of thv 
smaller boys would creep in on his hands and knees, insinuate 



ZTbe Sceebtndoplace of irbfe\>ed 289 

himself round the counter, gently withdraw the till, then creep 
out again, and hand it to one of his companions, who would 
immediately put it into a bag brought for the purpose ; then 
they would decamp. 

I had explained to me some of the mysteries of pocket- 
picking. This is a profession requiring a great deal of 
practice. To gently turn a man's pockets inside out without 
the wearer’s knowledge is a feat not performed without much 
skill. Those who follow this light-fingered business enter the 
profession young. Every year Providence Court turns out 
one or more efficient “hooks” — that is, pick-pockets who 
are adepts in “mugging a red” or “pinching a leather,” 
which in plain English means taking a watch or stealing 
a purse. Some of the women were passers of bad money, 
and once a creature came to Mrs. Jebb offering her a half 
share in the plunder if she would go out and change some 
counterfeit coin. Needless to say she pleaded fear, saying 
she was not experienced enough. The woman forthwith 
began telling her how she should go into the shop and buy 
some few articles with a careless air, for which she must pay 
with the false tokens, getting in return a considerable amount 
in change. This of course would be fair money. This 
person was extremely disgusted with Mrs. Jebb for refusing 
to “ risk ” doing such a thing. It seems that she was getting 
a little nervous about playing the game herself, because a 
great deal of bad money had lately been passed in the 
neighbourhood, and shop-keepers were beginning to get 
suspicious. The police also were on the look-out. The 
woman was in touch with a gang of coiners, and bought 
supplies from the “smashers,” as the men are called who 
act as agents for the coiners. The location of the coiners’ 
dens is kept secret even from the “snide-pitchers,” which 
is the slang name for the actual passers of the counterfeit 



Vbe Soul /l^arltet 


990 

coins, A few of the men — and these were the better dressed 
— were professional “ tale-pitchers.” These creatures went off 
every morning to the West End of London in search of 
plunder, or “mug-finding,” as they called their profession. 
They went with the regularity of respectable men going to 
do legitimate business, and it was from their ranks that the men 
came who were adepts at luggage-stealing at the London termini. 

This system of crime, too, has its particular slang, and is 
known as “ toby-lifting ” by the rogues who practise it. The 
thieves’ vocabulary is a somewhat large one and needs a 
dictionary to itself. To “out a man” is to murder him. 
To “do a burst” is to commit a burglary. To “chive” a 
man is to stab him, and the expression “ to put him through 
it” means assault. Stealing is called “lifting.” Cheating at 
cards, as is done with the three card trick, is to “ work the 
boards.” To pass forged cheques or worthless ones is to 
“fly the kite.” A forger is a “blacksmith,” and a race- 
course swindler or welsher is spoken of as a “shiser.” A 
thief is a “head”j a policeman in uniform a .“flat” or a 
“rosser.” A detective is called a “split”; while prison is 
known as “Joe ger ” or “ stir ” ; and a warder is a “screw.” 

Of course all this knowledge of the criminal classes was 
not gathered by Mr. C. and myself in Providence alone, 
though this place afforded a liberal education in crime and 
misery. A district nurse visiting in a similar locality once 
took me to see a girl of seventeen who had a baby two days 
old. There was absolutely nothing in the room when the 
nurse arrived, and she wrapped the child up in her apron 
while she went to seek a few rags and food for the two 
unlucky mortals born into a world that had no room for them. 
There is nothing picturesque or romantic about life in the 
slums. It is an awful revelation of crime and misery such as 
I venture to say no “ heathen ” country could outrival. 



CHAPTER XVIII 


THE INFLUENCES OF MODERN LITERATURE — FANCIES 
IN FEASTS 

Only twice during the time I have been in England have I 
heard sermons preached in church which dealt with the 
question of literature, which is perhaps one of the most 
important factors in influencing the minds and conduct of 
the present generation. And the subject of literature is a 
fitting one, I think, to follow the description of hooligans 
and thieves. I believe that more criminals and sinners are 
made by the influence of the books and papers which are 
to-day thrown into the hands of the public than almost by 
any other means. 

The first occasion upon which I heard literature dis- 
cussed from the pulpit was in a little provincial town, in a 
Nonconformist chapel — Baptist, I think. I had gone there 
with some friends. I was struck with the truth underlying 
the minister’s utterances, although amazed at the narrowness 
and bigotry of a man who could condemn wholesale all novel- 
reading and theatre-going. His own knowledge of modern 
contemporary literature was confined probably to a few 
notices which he read from time to time in the particular 
religious journals he patronised. He had never entered a 
theatre in his life — not that I think he was much poorer 
for this — but he was hardly in a position to criticise 

dramatic art, or the dramatic profession. 

29X 



«9> Vbe Sotti Aarftet 

The other occasion on which I heard a sermon dealing 
with the influence of literature was in an Anglican church 
in London which I had attended pretty frequently. In this 
case the criticism was in favour of reading good books and 
“keeping abreast with the times.” Incidentally the preacher 
asked for subscriptions towards a library for a Boys’ Club 
which had just been started. I was glad to add my humble 
mite^ hoping much that the selection of books would be 
such as might be read by the boys with both pleasure and 
profit. I have been more than shocked with instances that 
have come within my own personal knowledge of the evil 
done by the unscrupulous and really bad “ literature” shall we 
call it ? which is flooding the market to-day. 

In my student days I came across a girl whose history, I 
think, is one of the saddest I have ever known. At the time 
I knew her she was twenty-two years of age. Her mother 
was a worldly but practical woman, who was ambitious for 
this, her only daughter. She had, however, a nagging tongue, 
and none of the wisdom that is bred of great lowe. The 
girl was high-spirited, wilful, and intolerant of the constant 
badgering to which she was subjected. Her father, whom she 
had adored, was dead. He had been a man of considerable 
means, but had died without making a suitable provision for 
his family, or rather, he had left his property in such a way 
that the girl would not benefit by it till she was twenty-five 
years of age. 

This girl began her reading with Ibsen’s plays and 
theatrical records. At eighteen she left her home, and as she 
expressed it, “ went on the stage” — that is to say, she joined a 
travelling theatrical company. She had the usual experience 
of such people. After a time her mother, seeing that she 
was determined to go on with this career, consented to send her 
to a dramatic school, where she studied for six months.. She 



Ubc influences of AoOevn Xitetatuve 293 

naturally believed herself the equal of any actress yet seen on 
the boards, but she had no outstanding talent, though her 
aptitude for declamation and acting was considerable. She 
had the good fortune, after this training, to be engaged by 
some really first-rate managers, and she played also for some 
months with Mr. Benson’s Shakespearian company. Then 
she dropped out for a little while, and during her “ resting ” 
period she fell in with one of those human sharks who go 
about the world seeking whom they may devour. 

I have met this man several times, and he has been intro- 
duced to me afresh on each occasion because I persistentlyforget 
that I have ever met him before. Knowing what I do of him, 
1 could not possibly bring myself to touch his hand. He is 
extremely good - looking, and tried to be an actor. Not 
succeeding, he became what he calls an artist.” He has 
been so spoilt and petted by women, that he could not do an 
honest day’s work to save his life. When he met this girl, he 
had a wife and three children, was well fed, and a hero among 
the people he illuminated with his society. He was a clever 
talker, an infidel, of course, disguised under various pretty 
names — having neither religion, nor honour, nor manliness. 
He had, however, a beautiful head. He insinuated himself 
into this girl’s heart. She was unaware at the time that he 
was married, and he began educating ” her. He supplied 
her with all the modern books which make a jest of things 
that are holy and of good repute. He gave her all Ibsen’s 
plays and others of that ilk. One book which she continually 
quoted to me was **The Irrational Knot.” She knew the volume, 
I think, almost by heart from cover to cover. Now, I have 
often heard Mr. Bernard Shaw speak, and have myself read, 
with the keenest pleasure, many of his books. I never miss 
an opportunity of going to see a play of his. His plays are 
almo^ the only intellectual treats one gets in a London 



294 XTbe Soul AatRet 

theatre. But I feel sure Mr. Bernard Shaw would feel 
desperately sorry if he knew that any of his young admirers 
misread his intentions, and set out alone to live in revolt 
against present laws. This girl lent me “The Irrational 
Knot,” all scored and underlined by her “ tutor.” She was 
fully convinced that she was required to be an apostle, 
preaching the new gospel of free love. By slow degrees her 
excellent teacher accomplished his desire, and she went to 
live with him. Of her undoing and suffering and shame 1 
cannot speak at length. She was absolutely honourable 
herself, and would rather starve than owe anyone a penny. 
She was also generous to a degree, and would share her last 
crust with anyone in worse plight than herself. 

The man in whom she had put her trust, and to whom she 
gave all her love, habitually got into debt, and when pressed 
hard, had a neat little habit of giving cheques on his bank 
where he had no money to his credit : they were invariably 
returned with “refer to drawer.” The girl was humiliated 
and distracted at these occurrences, which he regarded 
with the utmost philosophy. Any money that she earned 
was used for the house; he was too artistic to earn 
money; but his relations often sent him some, and 
occasionally he borrowed from friends — women mostly, who 
were only too pleased to accommodate him — this he spent on 
himself. By the time the child came, he had, of course, 
tired of his new plaything. Her education was complete. 
She believed in nothing. All responsibilities and ties were to 
her “irrational,” she found herself an outcast; but when I 
knew her she still clung to her favourite literature. I think 
I have never seen such a collection of pernicious print in 
any one place. There were the novels of a degraded Anglo- 
Indian woman, and various French writers, and agnostic 
authors, huddled in delightful confusion upon her deal* shelf. 



Ubc influences of fl^o^ern Xtterature 295 

The extraordinary part of the business was, that the girl, with 
all the trouble she had taken to smirch and mar her mind, 
had yet a good heart. She was refined in thought and speech, 
absolutely honest, but she was to me a living example of what 
irresponsible literature does for people of the better classes. 

I know another girl, whose father is Squire in a Yorkshire 
country village. They have an ideal home, but the eldest 
daughter has made herself absolutely mad by reading bad 
literature, both French and English. She has so often dis- 
graced her parents, and has such a warped mind, that they 
are obliged to keep a chaperon for her, who is never able to 
trust her out of her sight. There is nothing wrong with the 
girl except that she has read some hundreds of evil books, 
and imagines herself the heroines of them all. 

The girl who was such an admirer of Mr. Bernard Shaw, and 
a staunch believer in the doctrine of The Irrational Knot,’’ 
was of course abandoned by her lover, and for a year, having 
to support the child, and not being able to obtain work, she 
endured a very hell. For weeks she had to live on threepence 
or fourpence a day, eating a pennyworth of fish from a fried fish 
shop with a halfpenny roll, and on Saturdays allowing herself the 
enormous treat of a lunch at Lyons’,” which consisted of a 
twopenny sandwich and a twopenny cup of coffee. She had 
hardly clothes enough to cover herself decently, and endured 
unspeakable anguish, while the man who had educated her 
and ruined her, lived in comfort, and succeeded in doing 
some work in artistic circles for which he was extolled to the 
skies. 

Among the very poor, the chiefest literature of the lads and 
girls consists of the JVewSt and those cheap halfpenny 

papers which give detailed accounts of all crimes and acts of 
violence, together with the photographs of the heroes and 
heroines of these exploits. 



TTbe Soul AatRet 


^96 

I came across a girl, who lives in a slum near Notting 
Dale, who has her walls plastered with prints of murderers, 
divorcees, and other infamous characters which have appeared 
in cheap papers ; and a hooligan lad of about seven years of age, 
with whom 1 became extremely friendly, confided to me that 
his greatest ambition in life was to get a two stretch ” — that is, 
a term of two years* imprisonment, “ like Tom Sharp,’* whose 
picture was in several of the cheap papers which this lad had 
bought. It is a horrible thing to think that the press, which 
might be the greatest instrument for good in the land, is being 
used to encourage such a lad as this to a life of infamy. He 
is mad to secure the notoriety of having his picture produced 
in the papers read by his companions. I suppose it would be 
too much to suggest that some member of Parliament, or some 
women’s council in the land, might take up this question, 
and agitate, and plead, and petition, till a law was passed 
forbidding the publication of the picture of any notorious 
evil-doer. 

While I lived in the slums I had an opportunity, of seeing 
the avidity with which even the little children seized upon the 
cheap illustrated papers, and hunted out pictures of criminals, 
or sites of places where violent deeds had been done. They 
gloated over these, and made games in which they impersonated 
the hero or heroine of some dreadful act. The pulpit too, 
perhaps, could be used for worse purposes than for advice 
and counsel upon recreative and educational reading. 
People must and will read, and indeed it is advisable that 
they should do so, but for pity’s sake, let someone advise the 
young what they should read, and what they should avoid. 



I 

^ JLbc Snfittcncesj of /©oOerii Xfteratuce 397 

THERE ARE OTHER EVILS, TOO, RESULTANT UPON THE 
DAILY PRESS 

If our newspapers lived up to their vaunted ideal, which is 
that they desire to create a wholesome public opinion and be 
an induence for good in the land, they would cease to 
advertise from time to time the horrible gourmandising of 
the idle rich. They could, in actual fact, be instrumental in 
abolishing the senseless feasts which are constantly given in 
the great hotels, merely as an advertisement for some 
miserable snob. What useful purpose can it possibly serve 
to give a full description of a saturnalia given by some ill-brcd 
American or wealthy parvenu, the cost of which works out at 
something like ^£50 a head ? One such entertainment given 
in a leading London restaurant was chronicled in almost every 
paper printed in the Metropolis. Accounts of this entertain- 
ment filtered into the great provincial papers as well. At the 
time this particular feast was given, there were parading in the 
London streets thousands of wretched unemployed. During 
that very winter little children might have been seen any day 
in any thoroughfare where there were eating-shops, pressing 
their little bodies and cold faces against the glass behind 
which the food was displayed. These were little starving 
things whom nobody cared to feed, of whom the papers took 
no notice, though they fought for news of the degenerate 
who organised a huge advertisement for himself by giving a 
;^2,ooo dinner to light women, and others who would 
accept such hospitality. If the newspapers had refused to 
take any notice of this grotesque affair the man would have 
sat in dust and ashes, and regretted all his life, spending the 
money which brought him no notoriety. It is useless for the 
British press to rave over the misdeeds of the “ smart set,” 
while it chronicles every inane entertainment and idiotic 



Zbc Soul /iDarlftet ^ 

remark that is made by those who are rich enough to pay for 
the notice. It is not only one journal, unfortunately, which 
is guilty of this practice. Every single paper that is printed 
in this country encourages vice and prodigality every time it 
advertises the degrading exhibitions of sensuality which such 
entertainments undoubtedly are. 

Turning from the picture of one of these dreadful feasts to 
the other side of the road, I may give here the story of a lady 
whom I will call the “ Economist.” I met her one evening 
on the outskirts of a" small crowd which had gathered round 
the door of a well-known restaurant. The people were 
watching the advent of a gay party of men and women 
in evening dress, who had arrived in a splendid motor car. 
The Economist was a woman of some fifty summers, perhaps 
I might more fitly say winters, as it was a very shivery time 
of the year. She was, I guessed, either an office-cleaner or 
a charwoman. From her first remark to me I gathered that 
she did not approve of the ostentatious display of shoulders 
and bare arms exhibited by the ladies of the mptor party, 
when they removed their cloaks in the vestibule of the 
restaurant. “ Disgustin’, I calls it,” she said to me. “ Gettin 
theirselves up like that, like a brazen parrit, I calls it ! ” i 
nodded my head discreetly, not liking to admit that 1 was 
unfamiliar with brazen parrots, and the lady went on : “ To 
think, me dear, it is the likes of us that keeps the likes of 
them” — she viciously tugged at her bonnet-strings — “them 
as is goin’ to gorge theirselves whilst we ’ard-workin’ folks 
is out ’ere a-starvin’” — the lady, by the way, looked in 
extremely good condition. “They ought to ’ave a day or 
two’s charin’ like me an’ you,” she went on, “ and then they 
would understan’ the value o’ the money they chucks away in 
them places with their five-course dinners for five bob, and 
elch-like.” Again I nodded my head, not venturing to 



tTbe influences of flbobem Xitevatute 299 

inform the lady that such a thing as a five -bob dinner 
was unheard of at the restaurant near which we were 
standing. ^£5 would have been nearer the price or a feast ; 
but I was there to learn, not to teach. “Eatin* money, 1 
calls it,” my new acquaintance continued, “fair chuckin’ it 
away. Why, what they pays for their little bits of furrin 
muck would keep our ’ard-workin’ family a week. I ’ad 
a brother what was a waiter, and ’e used to make us larf when 
’e told us o’ the goin’s on in them there places, ’ow the toffs 
pays an* ’ow they don’t know what they’re eatin* of. Five 
courses for five bob,” she went on contemptuously. “ Why, 
I’d give you a better dinner nor they’ll get for threepence, 
yus, and you’d get yer five courses too, if yer wanted ’em.” 

“ Where ? ” I inquired, scenting an adventure. 

“ Over the water,” she answered. 

“Shall we go and get it ?” I asked. “ I have got a shilling 
or two, so can pay for both,” I added. 

“Can you?” she said delightedly. “Well, that’s jouick, 
come on and I’ll take yer.” She led me past Charing Cross, 
down Parliament Street, and over Westminster Bridge, then 
she turned down a narrow street leading towards Lambeth. 
“ 'And us yer bob,” she said, holding her hand out. I gave 
her a shilling. “ Ah, you’re one of the right sort,” she was 
good enough to say, clutching the money. We dived deeper 
into this low quarter, and at length stopped outside a grimy- 
looking shop, the windows of which bore certain inscriptions 
proclaiming the fact that pea-soup was on sale at a penny, and 
a halfpenny a basin. “We’re goin’ to start our dotty 
’ere,” my companion declared, “ an* you mark me words, if 
I don’t get yer five bloomin’ courses for threepence, soop, 
fish, hontray, and jint, an’ a sweet to finish up with, may I 
be blowed ! ” “ Well,” I said, “ I am quite content to leave 
it ty you.” “ Right yer are, come in,” she said. “ We’ll start 



300 ube Soul ADacRet 

^ere, and well begin with pea-soup.” We entered the little 
shop, and found it unattended. However, after much strenu- 
ous thumping upon the not over-clean counter by my friend, 
a frowsy, middle-aged woman emerged from a door at the 
back of the shop. She had evidently been disturbed 
whilst at her toilet, for her hair was still flecked with 
curl-papers. ‘*Wot’s the row about?” she demanded, 
“Two a’porths o’ mud,” was the only answer my com- 
panion deigned to give. The irate soup -vendor, without 
so much as a remark, and without further notice, proceeded 
to a large tin can behind the counter and ladled into two 
great earthenware basins two semi-fluid portions of some 
queer-looking substance. She set one before each of us, 
with two tin tea-spoons. Then she took up the shilling which 
my companion threw on the counter, and gave her back 
elevenpence in change. My Epicurean friend ate her portion 
before I had tasted mine, then she kindly ate mine also. 
“Now we’ll tike our fish course,” she said. I followed her to 
a fried fish shop; into this she pushed her way through a 
crowd of children. “ Two a’porths middle bits,” she ordered 
in this place. A hot, perspiring woman, who was attending to 
the customers, took two bits of fish from a wire tray which 
hung over a pan of boiling fat, and wrapping them in two 
pieces of paper, handed them to us. My friend opened the 
parcels, and turning over the fish, snorted in disgust. 
‘^Them’s 'addick.” 

“Well, wot do yer want for a ’apenny, brill or turbit?” 
asked the woman of the shop angrily. “ Wot yer goin' to do, 
tike ’em or leave ’em ? ” 

We took them, and paid her a penny for the two pieces. 
“ Come along ! ” cried my mess-mate, after she had deluged 
her fish with vinegar out of a bottle that stood on the counter. 
The bottle was corked, but a little hole was pierced in (he 



^ Ube ?nllttence0 of Aobern Xfteratnre 30X 

cork, and through this the vinegar was dashed over the fish. 
“ We'll eat 'em as we go along for our next bits," and this she 
proceeded to do rapidly, using her fingers for the purpose. 
For our next course she led me to another shop, on the 
windows of which was inscribed the legend that here was the 
only old-established cow-heel and tripe shop in the neighbour- 
hood. Placards further announced that Faggots and pease 
pudding” were always ready. “Here's where we'll git our 
hontray,” remarked my guide, as she finished my fish in the 
same generous manner which she had displayed when helping 
me with my soup course. The third course consisted of a 
cube of curious brown stuff, presumably a food, for my 
companion devoured both mine and her own portions with 
huge relish. Complying with her order for “ two pennyworth 
'ot faggits,” the shop-keeper cut from a large lump two portions 
of this stuff and handed them to her upon two pieces of paper. 
After we left the shop I no longer doubted the marvellous 
resources, and economic abilities of this gutter Epicure, still 
I could hardly understand how it was possible to obtain a cut 
from a joint for the sum of one penny each, and I expressed 
my misgivings on this subject. She laughed me to scorn. 
“Why, that's easy; 'ere we are,” and she halted in front of an 
old woman who sat at the door of a dirty public-house, 
nursing upon her knee a basket, the contents of which wete 
hidden under a white cloth. To this old woman my com- 
panion addressed herself. “Two 'apenny 'oofs!” The old 
lady turned down her cloth and from her basket took out two 
sheep's feet or trotters. “Ain't them jints?” my companion 
demanded, and I had to confess that they certainly were. 
We had now accomplished four courses and had spent on 
soup one penny, on the fish one penny, on the faggots 
twopence, and on the joints one penny. There remained 
'only the last course, and my friend was as resourceful as ever, 

. / 



302 wbe Soni AarRet ^ 

She took me to a cook-shop, where she purchased two half- 
penny lumps of plum duff, or plum pudding. “ There you 
are!” she cried triumphantly; “ain’t I got you five courses 
for threepence? And it ain’t been no messy foreign muck 
neither, but good English grub, and I proved me words, ain’t 
I, my dear? — and — may I keep the tanner change for luck ?” 



CHAPTER XIX 


IN “real" ENGLAND 

It is a relief to turn from such sordid pictures of lost (deals io 
a vision of wholesomeness and beauty. I will give here a little 
description of a country home such as I knew it, in contrast 
to the hideous jumble that life assumes in London. 

As I look back to that quiet summer spent with friends in 
the sweet little English village in Wiltshire, I seem to live 
again, and to renew hope, and a belief in a better life for the 
unfortunates among whom, for so long a time, I sojourned. If 
only we could get our people away from the slums into the 
country places, where wholesome work would be rewarded 
fairly and justly, and where a man might bring up a family to 
serve God and the State, we might lessen the growing burden 
of misery which is settling upon this country like a palL 

During the months I have spent in London, going both 
socially and professionally into “Society,” I have seen the 
frantic struggle that women make to attract men to their 
homes. The hospitality which is offered to the Lords of 
Creation is lavish, and every inducement is held out to them, 
and yet I fear that these fine ladies have not really learnt the 
art of attracting and winning the devotion of the best sort of 
men. 

In the sweet country Rectory where I spent so many happy 
days, I found a woman who glorified life and enriched all 
who came within her influence. She had four sons and two 

303 



304 


TTbe Soul AarRet 


r 

daughters, and on an income that would hardly have paid for 
a society woman’s dress, she brought these children up, giving 
them every advantage of education. The boys all went to 
public schools, having been trained entirely by their mother, 
and from there three of them, while I was with her, went to 
Oxford. The elder girl was a friend of mine at college, and 
she had enjoyed the advantage of travelling and studying 
abroad, procured for herl^y her mother. It was such a home 
as one may fortunately meet with still in the quiet country 
places. The little church was across the garden, and in the 
summer mornings we gathered there for a simple service. 

And the mother of this household — what shall I say for her ? 
With never a dress from a fashionable dressmaker, with never 
any smart ways, and yet possessing such intellect and charm, 
such absolute holiness of life, that men from the university, 
friends of her sons, and lads from the public schools where 
the boys had been, counted among their greatest treats a visit to 
her home. How she thought of us all, befriended us, advised 
and helped us. At one time she had under her roof some eight 
young men, friends of her sons, university men, and all of them 
richer than her own boys. Young men who in town would have 
probably been fited and made much of, who were yet supremely 
happy enjoying the simple hospitality of that sweet home. 
Fancy eight modern young men sitting down to a dinner of 
boiled beef and vegetables and some simple puddings, and 
drinking ginger beer. One learnt while in this wonderful 
home, that a house is a place to live in, and to be comfortable 
in. There was not a room in the old rectory kept for show, 
it was all homely and sweet and simple. There was no room 
where the boys might not smoke and read, or occupy them- 
selves as they pleased. ** I wish,” said the dear mother, “ that 
my children should always find their own home the most com- 
fortable place they have been in. The carpets and curtains 



5n ‘‘IRcar’ Bn^land 305 

are of no value to me beyond the fact that they serve their 
purpose ; but the comfort of my sons and daughters certainly 
is a matter of consideration.” So we enjoyed the whole 
beautiful house. The great old schoolroom, which looked 
over the wooded grounds, was a favourite haunt of ours. Here 
we might make horrid experiments in chemistry, here was 
kept an aquarium, and various collections of beasts alive and 
dead. In the drawing-room, with its sweet-toned piano, 
which had been a wedding gift to the mother, we gathered 
in the evenings, and there the daughter of the house 
would make music for us, while the boys smoked and 
read. 

Not once m a year, perhaps, did the dear lady of the house 
leave her home for “ town ” ; she found no necessity for so 
doing, and yet I have not met, among all the women in this 
great city, anyone with a more cultivated mind or richer 
graces. Of all the young people whom she gathered under 
her roof, there was not one who did not give her affection and 
devotion, and we all went out into the world richer and better 
for having known her. 

Many invitations came for the Rectory party. There was no 
house in all the neighbourhood where so many young men 
were to be found. But we were all so happy that we cared 
little to seek entertainment abroad. 

How often in the clean, cool summer mornings I have got 
up before the house was astir, and stolen forth into the fields, 
where the daisies grew thick, and a wealth of orchis scented 
the air with their strange, illusive perfume. Under the great 
trees the mushrooms grew, and in the dewy fields the daisies, 
with their fresh-washed faces, looked up with inviting grace. 
Those lonely morning rambles made me richer by many a 
comforting thought. After a simple, merry breakfast, when 
the whole household gathered together, we strayed across the 



tCbe Soul AarRet 


306 

garden to the little church. I think we all felt that life was 
worth living; that ‘'God was in His heaven, and all was 
right with the world/' 

Once we all went to a garden-party given at a country house, 
whose owners counted their income by many thousands a 
year. All the people of any consequence in the county were 
invited, and we thoroughly enjoyed the treat. The house lay 
some miles away, beyond walking distance, so some of us 
went on bicycles, and some in an old waggonette hired from 
the village wheelwright. It was not at all a fashionable 
vehicle, but some of the young men who were able to keep 
their own motor cars were perfectly content with this mode of 
conveyance. There was the daughter of the house in a simple 
muslin dress and a flop hat, with a wreath of roses round it, 
looking like a picture. And so we all went to mingle with 
the gay crowd of fashionably-dressed personages, many of 
whom were satiated with such simple gaieties. We were 
able to enjoy the tennis, and wandered about the beautiful 
grounds without a fear of spoiling our clothes,^ and enjoyed 
every minute of the time. As we had exercised ourselves 
violently, we were able to do justice to the good fare pro- 
vided. It was not a case of going to a late reception after a 
good dinner, and taking quantities of rich food merely for the 
sake of eating ; we enjoyed the good things because we were 
genuinely hungry. 

It is indeed because many such homes as I have described, 
still exist in England, and because there are hundreds of 
devoted mothers and faithful wives, that the country holds 
her own. When these cease to exist, then England’s day will 
be done, for all those who have tasted life and touched the 
heart of things know that a “ smart ” woman’s life is not worth 
one jot to her country. 

Then turning from this lovely country life back to the 



9n ^'IReal” £n^lan^ 3*7 

burned town again, I must make for my readers a little 
picture such as is seldom described in print. 

There were two dear sisters of my friend, who asked me to 
abide with them until I was settled in London. One was a 
Deaconess, a dear little, loving creature, who had spent all 
her life in serving and caring for others in a huge and poor 
parish. She always said she was not clever, but that God had 
given her one gift, and that was the gift of loving ; and seeing 
her life and all that she was able to accomplish, I think that 
if this gift of loving were more common, the world would be 
richer and better. The other sister, who spent much of her 
life looking after poor servant girls, and controlling and 
managing a* Home for them, was a different character 
altogether. She possessed a great, loving heart, but hid it 
under a somewhat stern exterior. True as steel, and just and 
generous, she was a woman who, for righteousness^ sake, would 
have faced martyrdom. She used her strength to protect the 
weak. And these two dear little ladies lived in a little house 
in an unfashionable suburban street, devoting themselves and 
their incomes to the service of others. They were always 
ready to play the mother to the children of their married 
sisters and brothers, always ready in time of sickness and in 
need, and their little home was always sheltering those who 
needed their protection and care. Here, again, I saw the 
influence which really good women are able to exercise over 
men. These two ladies had both of them collections and 
Savings Banks for the poor women and girls in their district. 
These benefactions entailed an enormous amount of clerical 
work and accountancy. Time and again the young nephews, 
or their college friends, would come for the day to share the 
simple meals, and work hard to help the two ladies. I 
suppose that ultra-smart and fashionable woman would have 
considered them dowdy and dull ; they indulged in no society 



trbe Soul AarFtet 


30* 

small-talk, and never knew anything of the latest scandal. 
Their clothes were often made by a little dressmaker who was 
kept in work, in home and food, by their patronage. The 
materials were old-fashioned and good, and everything about 
them was wholesome and good too. These two women had 
the power of attracting to themselves young men and girls for 
whom society might spread its allurements in vain. Dear 
Auntie C., how clever she was, able to discuss topics of real 
moment, and having travelled abroad with an intelligent 
perception of all she saw, she was always a most delightful 
companion. Then how good she was, and how unselfish. 
That little house radiated goodness and virtue over all that 
thick-peopled neighbourhood. 

We may reverently thank God that all through our great 
cities there are such homes and such women dotted about. 
Their lives are entirely unknown to “ Society,” and yet their 
very breath is more precious than all the useless lives of those 
much-advertised individuals whom the world imagines as 
keeping poverty and crime at bay by their vaunted “ charity ” 
— charity which buys for the donors titles, and honours which 
are as dust in the eyes of honest men and women. 



CHAPTER XX 


THE CURTAIN 

THE CONCLUSIONS OF AN “INSIDER*' 

This chapter is written with all respect and deference to those 
whose magnificent work among the lost tribes of Britain have 
made their names golden words in the land. My work has 
been nothing. It has only been the surveying of the land, as 
it were. Wiser and better people than I am must take it up, 
and reclaim it. One sees things, however, with altogether 
different eyes when one lives among people as one of them- 
selves, and perhaps my story may be of use to others. In all 
these seething parishes, where I have lost myself among the 
thousands who swarm in the localities, I have found perhaps 
half-a-dozen different religious denominations struggling for 
the betterment of these people. 

When I came to England, eight years ago, there was just 
beginning the public outcry about the unemployed. The 
Salvation Army and the Church Army have been at work 
many years. It is not far from twenty years ago that 
“ General ** Booth wrote his wonderful book, “ Darkest 
England and a Way Out," which startled the world, and which 
travelled perhaps to every English-speaking country. He 
hoped, in fact I think he declared, that, given a certain sum 
,of money he would be able to convert “ Darkest England " 

into a realm of light. Since the book appeared that sum of 

309 



310 


XTbe SottI Aarftet 


t 

money has, I believe, been subscribed many times over, but I 
venture to say that if the slums he describes have some of 
them been wiped away, others no less hideous have taken 
their places, and the dwellers in these plague spots are as 
unlovely, as wicked, and as hopeless as those described in 
“ Darkest England.” 

There are, situated in the East End of London, countless 
missions sending out devoted servants into the midst of these 
unhappy people, and yet evil is rampant among the poor, 
and society grows no better; indeed, so bad is it that the 
abuse of the smart set has become a cult. Society is reputed 
as wicked to-day as it was in the days of the Beauty of Bath. 
But even Society ” has not been neglected by the fishers of 
men, as witness the crusades of Father Vaughan, the writing 
of Mr. Bernard Shaw, the meetings held by such missionaries 
as Alexander and Torrey in the Albert Hall. Close upon 
twenty years ago Moody and Sankey, I have been told, held 
similar missions for the naughty West End people, and still 
there is no visible difference in the lives and conditions of 
the people, either poor or rich. 

Every winter since I have been in England, the begging 
for the poor has grown worse. Every year since I have been 
here has steadily been “ the worst on record.” In the winter 
the cold is cruel, in the summer the heat is murderous. 

When the Conservatives were in power they made a war, 
and the Liberals said it was that which nearly ruined the 
country, but the war has been over four years now, and there 
is no decrease in unemployment or in poverty. 

In the face of these unhappy conditions, those who care at 
all for the welfare of the people, and the good of the country, 
will naturally bethink themselves of some reason for the 
failure of all these philanthropic schemes for the redemptioa 
of humanity. 



xrbe Conclustona of an **5ns(betr” 3 " 

i 

It might come as a revelation to them to see their own 
affairs through new eyes, and there are two stories I would 
earnestly commend to their particular notice, stories which 
some philanthropist ought to have printed in penny editions, 
and distributed free among all the peoples of this kingdom, 
for their enlightenment. The stories occur in Kipling’s book 
of “Many Inventions.” The first is called “One View of 
the Question,” and consists of the letter of a “barbarian” 
heathen from Northern Hindustan to a Minister in the service 
of the Khan of that country. It is written from the North- 
brook Club, which, for the enlightenment of readers is, I may 
mention, located in the Imperial Institute, in the parish of 
South Kensington, London. One might do better than pray 
to the Lord that the people of this Christian land would read 
that letter. It is too perfect to be quoted from. I might, 
however, venture upon giving a few sentences from it. 
“Honour and stability have departed from their councils, 
and the knife of dissension has brought down upon their 
heads the flapping tent-flies of confusion. All these things,” 
he writes, “ I have seen whom they regard as a wild beast 
and a spectacle.” 

Describing the House of Parliament, he writes : 

“ Some of them are well-born, but the greater part are low- 
born, coarse-skinned, waving their arms, high-voiced, without 
dignity, slack in the mouth, shifty-eyed, and as I have said, 
swayed by the wind of a woman’s cloak. 

“Now this is a tale but two days old. There was a 
company at meat, and a high-voiced woman spoke to me, in 
the face of the men, of the affairs of our womankind. It was 
her ignorance that made each word an edged insult. Re- 
membering this, I held my peace till she had spoken a new 
law as to the control of our zenanas, and all who are behind 
the 'curtain. 



312 


Vbe Soul AavRet 


I 

“Then I : ‘Hast thou ever felt the life stir under thy heart 
or laid a little son between thy breasts, O most unhappy?’ 
Thereto she hotly, with a haggard eye: ‘No, for I am a free 
woman, and no servant of babes.’ Then I softly : ‘God deal 
lightly with thee, my sister, for thou art in heavier bondage 
than any slave, and the fuller half of the earth is hidden from 
thee. The first ten years of the life of a man are his mother’s, 
and from the dusk to the dawn surely the wife may command 
the husband. It is a great thing to stand back in the waking 
hours while the men go abroad unhampered by thy hands on 
the bridle-rein ? ’ Then she wondered that a heathen should 
speak thus : yet she is a woman honoured among these men, 
and openly professes that she hath no profession of faith in 
her mouth. Read this in the ear of the Rao Sahib, and 
demand how it would fare with me if I brought such a woman 
for his use. It were worse than that yellow desert-bred girl from 
Cutch, who set the girls to fighting for her own pleasure, and 
slippered the young prince across the mouth. Rememberest 
thou?” 

But the document is too long and too precious for quotation 
to do it justice. 

The other history I recommend for the enlightenment of 
the thoughtful British public is “The Record of Badalia 
Herodsfoot.” 

The description of the workers in Gunnison Street is an 
absolutely true picture of the workers in a thousand such 
streets in every great city of the kingdom. Mr. Kipling is a 
genius ; I am only a very poor recorder of such things as I 
have seen. I give the description of philanthropy in Gunnison 
Street in his own words, and pray that the Lord may put it 
into the minds of the people to read the story for themselves, 
and set about finding the means whereby these overlappings 



tibe Conclusions of an “ Jnsibec” 


3*3 


I 

of charity and fierce bickerings among Christians may be 
prevented. 

“These were a mixed corps, zealous or hysterical, faint- 
hearted or only very wearied of battle against misery, 
according to their lights. The most part were consumed 
with small rivalries and personal jealousies, to be retailed 
confidentially to their own tiny cliques in the pauses between 
wrestling with death for the body of a moribund laundress, or 
scheming for further mission-grants to resole a consumptive 
compositor’s very consumptive boots. There was a rector 
that lived in dread of pauperising the poor, would fain have 
held bazaars for fresh altar-cloths, and prayed in secret for a 
large new brass bird, with eyes of red glass, fondly believed to 
be carbuncles. There was Brother Victor, of the Order of 
Little Ease, who knew a great deal about altar-cloths, but kept 
his knowledge in the background while he strove to propitiate 
Mrs. Jessel, the secretary of the Tea-cup Board, who had 
money to dispense, but hated Rome — even though Rome 
would, on his honour, do no more than fill the stomach, 
leaving the dazed soul to the mercies of Mrs. Jessel. There 
were all the little sisters of the Red Diamond, daughters of 
the horseleech, crying ‘ Give ’ when their own charity was 
exhausted, and pitifully explaining to such as demanded an 
account of their disbursements, in return for one half- 
sovereign, that relief-work in a bad district can hardly be 
systematised on the accounts’ side without expensive 
duplication of staff. There was the Reverend Eustace 
Hanna, who worked impartially with Ladies’ Committees, 
Androgynous Leagues and Guilds, Brother Victor, and any- 
body else who could give him money, boots, or blankets, or 
that more precious help that allows itself to be directed by 
those who know. And all these people learned, one by one, 



3^4 TTbe SonI fssavhct 

i 

1 j consult Badalia on matters of personal character, right to 
relief, and hope of eventual reformation in Gunnison Street. 
Her answers were seldom cheering, but she possessed special 
knowledge and complete confidence in herself. 

“*Fm Gunnison Street/ she said to the austere Mrs. 
Jessel. ' I know what's what, I do, an' they don't want your 
religion, mum, not a single — Excuse me. It's all right 
when they comes to die, mum; but till they die what they 
wants is things to eat. The men they'll shiP for themselves. 
That’s why Nick Lapworth sez to you that 'e wants to be 
confirmed -an’ all that. 'E won't never lead no new life, nor 
'is wife won't get no good out o' all the money you ^gives 'im. 
No more you can't pauperise them as 'asn't things to begin 
with. They're bloomin’ well pauped.' " 

Were a decent woman or a good man to go down among 
these miserable specimens of humanity, and for the sake of 
the fearful suffering they had seen endured by the children, 
plead with them to refrain from bringing into the world 
countless numbers of these diseased little ones to suffer and 
to starve, the whole Christian Church would rise up and 
denounce these two as worse than murderers. But mothers 
who have to work to support drunken and professionally 
unemployed fathers, receiving in return blows and curses, are 
not, 1 maintain, fit people to add to the population of the 
nation. We are supporting at the present day more lunatics, 
cripples, and criminals than we can afford. These people are 
all kept chiefly by the middle classes, and the awful result is 
while they breed and increase like rabbits, the women who 
might give wholesome and healthy children to the nation are 
being disqualified for maternal duties by the heavy burdens 
which society and philanthropy lay upon them. There are 
hundreds of young people who have married for love in our 



Uftc Conclusfotts of an "jnslOct ” 31s 

I 

great cities, who would give much to have their little homes 
brightened by the laughter of children, whom they might 
bring up to be useful and decent citizens, but the demands of 
modern life are so exacting that children are luxuries they 
cannot afford. 

The poor are on their backs like the Old Man of the Sea. 
They may never be shaken off. The rich grab the land and 
own it, so that where were bred men in the country places, 
now are profitless lands. The fair Scotch hills may no more 
nourish strong sons to fight for the land they love. The 
Scottish Highlands are bought and reserved as shooting, 
grounds by rich folks from over the seas. Here is a story to 
show the futility of honest men trying to build up homes for 
themselves and their families. 

My friend, Miss R., has lived all her life in a house in 
Albermarle Street, Piccadilly. The house was built by her 
grandfather, a well-known physician, who left it to his 
daughter, who married a literary man. They lived honest 
and useful lives. Her daughter, my friend, became an Art 
teacher and has many pupils. Her home, as she fondly 
considered this house, it being the only home she has ever 
known, is centrally situated, and she is able to support 
her aged mother and an orphan nephew and niece by her 
teaching, supplemented by rent she gets fltom apartments 
in her house which she lets off. 

A little while ago she had a notice from the trustees of the 
“ground rents,” informing her that her lease would expire 
within a few months. The rent of the house will then be 
more than doubled. My friend is herself close upon sixty 
years of age, and her mother is eighty-eight. Their income 
will not permit of their taking a really good house, so Miss 
R. will probably lose her pupils. In rates alone they have 
paid over and over again the value of the house. But they 



XTbc Soul /©arftct 

will soon find themselves without any home, while the hei/to 
this ground rent comes in automatically for a fine house which 
has not cost him a penny, nor did his ancestors work for it. 

The workers are crushed, and the drones eat their harvests. 

As I have pointed out all through this book, my experience 
both among the rich and the poor, convinces me that it is 
the idlers who are the burden and curse of society. A very 
curious example of this came to my notice one day, when in 
company with a friend I wandered down into a very poor 
neighbourhood in order to take some photographs. 

A policeman met us and said : ‘‘ You are not going down 
that street surely ? ” 

“Yes,” we said, “we are going to take some photbgraphs.” 

“ Well,” he said, “ I would not advise you to. Since these 
notices have been put up by Will Crooks and his gang, 
promising aid to the unemployed, we have had such a heap 
of trouble in this district, that we have doubled the number 
of constables on duty. The men hereabouts are very idle 
and dangerous characters. In these days, when everything is 
forgiven a man if he says he is unemployed, I wouldn’t advise 
you to go about in places like this.” Now, all that I know 
personally of Mr. Crooks is in his favour. He is a man, I 
should think, whom everyone must respect and honour, and 
he has worked hard all his life ; but from my own experience, 

I think that in a very large percentage of cases, the men who 
are unemployed remain unemployed for the simple reason 
that they are unemployable, and have absolutely made up 
their minds that they will not work. I have followed, in com- 
pany with a friend, a procession of the unemployed, dressed 
in poor and shabby clothes myself, in order to study the ways 
and methods of these people. We have had some extremely 
amusing conversations with these applicants for public pity. 
Often the cases are genuine, and men have been driven 



XTDc Conclustons of an 


3n 

alrftost to the verge of desperation by suffering and hope- 
lessness, but in other cases, loafers and hooligans of the 
worst description have openly boasted to us that they never 
had such a good time in their lives as when they went about 
in the processions of the unemployed, sharing the harvest of 
money which the public gave these people. 

The condition of affairs in Poplar and these localities are 
only aggravated by the heavy taxes and extravagant local 
government. Great business firms employing hundreds of 
workmen are obliged, owing to the undue taxation, to 
remove their factories and workshops to cheaper localities. 
Thus the “ Killing the goose that lays the golden egg ” has 
not prov^ a happy expedient; In Battersea, where I have 
wandered about a good deal among the poor, I found a 
different state of things. Here, although the local rates are 
heavy and the Government expensive enough, a great deal 
of sound, practical work is done with the money spent in the 
borough; Mr. John Burns is not a sentimentalist; He is a 
very strong and practical man; 

I begin to think that, instead of putting intolerable 
burdens on those of us who work, and taxing great 
industries to death, it would be better to compel men to 
work for the support of themselves and their families: 

Any fool, of course, can find fault with existing methods. 
I know a lady who holds the enviable position of being 
dramatic critic to three newspapers. They are not first-class 
newspapers, it is true, but still she makes a good living out 
of them. She told me that she was bound to, what she 
called “slate” one out of every three plays or performances 
she saw, because her criticisms would become so monotonous 
otherwise, and her editors would begin to grow uneasy. 
Another lady I know, who is book-reader to one of the 
evening journals — her only qualification for the post being 



XCbe Soul Aarftet 


that she has an uncle who is an editor, who recommended 
her to the proprietor of the said paper — also gave me some 
curious information about the way she did her work. She 
informed me that she was only able to read one or two 
books out of each batch sent to her, and always chose the 
one that “looked exciting.” The others, she said, she 
noticed with a passing word if she saw them reviewed in any 
papers which she happened to come across. Once in a 
while she would take up a book and, as she called it, “pull* 
it to pieces” — this by way of variation and excitement. 
How long she held her post I am not able to say, but the 
art of pulling things to pieces is certainly far more common 
than the art of building up and putting together, t 

It is thus, with the greatest diffidence that I venture to 
make any comments on the charity or religion which has 
done, in spite of all disadvantages, so much for thousands 
of those who have needed the ministrations of both. Any 
man or woman who has travelled much and spent years of 
life in foreign lands — more especially those which are 
commonly called heathen — will be at once struck with the 
innumerable differences and dissensions among the Christians. 

The vicar of a very poor parish once said to me that he 
would rather nothing was ever done for his people, and that 
they were lost body and soul, than that they should be 
corrupted and led into heresy. By that he meant that he 
would rather the thousands of souls in his great parish were 
absolutely neglected — for he could not possibly look after 
them all himself— than that any Nonconformists or workers 
of any other denominations should care for them or labour 
amongst them. It is to these small bigotries and to the 
constant overlapping of charity that we owe much of the 
evil conditions which now prevail among our people. If 
there was unity among Christian workers, and one whole, 



TTbe Conclttstons of an insider” 319 

delprmined system by which charity was distributed, much 
could be done, not only towards alleviating the fearful 
sufferings of the very poor, and also in compelling the 
idlers to work, but in compelling legislation which would 
make it impossible for idlers to live upon the earnings of 
others. Although it is, I believe, against the law for anyone 
in this country to be without a visible means of subsistence, 
I have never known personally of a case where a man or 
%oman has been brought to book and questioned because 
of not having any definite occupation. 

One other little suggestion I might put forward very 
humbly, and that is with regard to the work undertaken in 
the various clubs for women and lads and girls. Would it 
not be possible to have some of these, at least, open to both 
sexes ; places where, under proper supervision and in decent 
surroundings, the lads and the girls could meet each other, 
and have an opportunity of knowing each other and doing 
their courting respectably, instead of being obliged to seek 
the streets as the only place where they might meet? This is 
but one of the improvements which have lately been made 
at our Hoxton Club. We have now a literary and debating 
society, and the lads and girls are able to meet and enjoy each 
other^s company under comfortable and decent conditions. 

It was, I think, at a debate on a Ladies’ Night at the 
Hardewick Society, held at one of the Inns of Court, that 
I heard that clever speaker, Lady Hamilton, describe how 
courtship and marriage were carried on in society. I thought 
when listening to her, that the very rich and the very poor 
suffer many similar disabilities. The society girl, according 
to Lady Hamilton, was never allowed to meet a man except 
in company with her chaperon, and if some man did happen 
to take an interest in her, and dance with her, perhaps three 
or four times within a week or so. and met her perhaps in the 



3*0 TEbe ^ttl A^rftet 

Park once, he was immediately called upon by her guardian 
to render an account of his intentions. It was her opinion 
that if the girls and men were allowed to meet, to talk to each 
other, and to have some sinall means of intimacy before the 
question of marriage was broached or thought of, that there 
would be far fewer cases in the divorce courts. Certainly 
the upper middle-class girls have in these days a thousand 
advantages over their richer or poorer sisters. A woman is 
so often robbed of one of the most delightful and useful 
things in life — a man’s real friendship — because of the 
difficulties which are put in the way of an open and easy 
intercourse;. My own life has been made so much richer 
and fuller by the devoted friendship of two men^ and the 
affection and care of two of the best of women, that I 
feel a very sincere compassion for both girls and men who 
are deprived of friendship which makes for so much happiness. 

For middle-class girls the clubs are comfortable and proper 
meeting-places for men and women. Among the poor the 
public-house often fills this office. ^ 

When I was serving as a barmaid in a public-house, I 
realised how the poor look upon the **pub” as a sort of 
club. It is often the only place where they have any comfort 
and light and warmth. If there were established in our great 
cities, public clubs for men and women^ much of the drinking 
and consequent vice would be done .away with. 

I do not expect vfor this book a great popular reception, but 
I send it out with a growing hope that some may read it 
who are strong enough and wise enough to lend their influence 
towards the suppression of some of the more hideous evils 
which I have in these pages only hinted at 

THE END 


Printed hy Cewan 6* CV?,, Limited ^ Perth.