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Title: East London
Author: Besant, Walter
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              EAST LONDON



------------------------------------------------------------------------


[Illustration: A Street Row in the East End.]


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              EAST LONDON

                                   BY

                             WALTER BESANT



                               AUTHOR OF

             “LONDON,” “SOUTH LONDON,” “WESTMINSTER,” ETC.

                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                     PHIL MAY, JOSEPH PENNELL, AND
                             L. RAVEN-HILL


                    [Illustration: Publisher’s Logo]


                                NEW YORK

                            THE CENTURY CO.

                                  1901


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                    Copyright, 1899, 1900, 1901, by
                            THE CENTURY CO.



                           THE DEVINNE PRESS.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CONTENTS


                                                          PAGE

              I WHAT EAST LONDON IS                          1

             II THE CITY OF MANY CRAFTS                     19

            III THE POOL AND THE RIVERSIDE                  39

             IV THE WALL                                   101

              V THE FACTORY GIRL                           114

             VI THE KEY OF THE STREET                      153

            VII THE ALIEN                                  185

           VIII THE HOUSELESS                              209

             IX THE SUBMERGED                              227

              X THE MEMORIES OF THE PAST                   253

             XI ON SPORTS AND PASTIMES                     285

            XII THE HELPING HAND                           317

                INDEX                                      359


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                         PAGE

          A STREET ROW IN THE EAST END             _Frontispiece_

          MAP OF EAST LONDON                                5

          LONDON STREET, LIMEHOUSE                         11

          A TYPICAL STREET IN BETHNAL GREEN                15

          AN EAST END WHARF                                25

          AN EAST END FACTORY                              31

          BARGE-BUILDERS                                   36

          THE WATER-GATE OF LONDON: TOWER BRIDGE           43
            LOOKING TOWARD ST. PAUL’S

          THE BANK OF “THE POOL.” LOOKING TOWARD           49
            TOWER BRIDGE

          IN THE DOCKS                                     53

          THE TOWER OF LONDON                              57

          THE WATER-GATE OF LONDON: TOWER BRIDGE           63
            FROM THE EAST SIDE OF THE TOWER

          THE TURN OF THE TIDE ON THE LOWER THAMES         69

          COMING UP THE LOWER THAMES WITH THE TIDE         75

          OFF SHADWELL                                     80

          RATCLIFFE-CROSS STAIRS                           83

          LIMEHOUSE BASIN AND CHURCH                       89

          THE THAMES SIDE AT LIMEHOUSE                     93

          GREENWICH HOSPITAL                               97

          WADE STREET, LIMEHOUSE                          117

          IN AN EAST END GIN-SHOP                         125

          THE BRITISH WORKMAN IN EPPING FOREST            131

          BROOK STREET, LIMEHOUSE                         139

          AN AUGUST BANK-HOLIDAY IN THE EAST END          145

          A MUSIC-HALL                                    150

          THE WEST INDIA DOCK GATES                       157

          THE BARGES THAT LIE DOWN THE THAMES             163

          EAST LONDON LOAFERS                             169

          THE “HOOLIGANS”                                 175

          SUNDAY GAMBLING                                 179

          WHITECHAPEL SHOPS                               190

          A CORNER IN PETTICOAT LANE                      197

          A “SCHNORRER” (BEGGAR) OF THE GHETTO            200

          EAST AND WEST HAM                               215

          EAST AND WEST HAM, FROM THE MARSHES             215

          SALVATION ARMY SHELTER                          232

          SANDWICH-MEN                                    245

          “A QUIET DULLNESS”                              259

          THE STREET AND OLD CHURCH TOWER, HACKNEY        262

          AN EAST LONDON SUBURB, OVERLOOKING              265
            HACKNEY MARSHES

          CLAPTON                                         269

          THE OLD CHURCH, STOKE NEWINGTON                 272

          A STREET IN STOKE NEWINGTON                     274

          HOUSE IN STOKE NEWINGTON IN WHICH EDGAR         277
            ALLAN POE LIVED

          HAMPSTEAD HEATH, LOOKING “HENDON WAY”           293

          THE SHOOTING-GALLERY                            299

          ON MARGATE SANDS                                305

          TOYNBEE HALL AND ST. JUDE’S CHURCH              312

          THE NEW WHITECHAPEL ART GALLERY                 322

          THE EAST LONDON MISSION                         329

          THE NEW MODEL DWELLINGS                         336

          DR. BARNARDO’S HOME, STEPNEY CAUSEWAY           340

          MILE END ALMSHOUSES                             347

          “THE BRIDGE OF HOPE,” A WELL-KNOWN EAST         355
            END NIGHT REFUGE


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   I

                          WHAT EAST LONDON IS



------------------------------------------------------------------------


                              EAST LONDON



                                   I

                          WHAT EAST LONDON IS


IN my previous books on London I have found it necessary to begin with
some consideration of the history and antiquities of the district
concerned. For instance, my book on Westminster demanded this historical
treatment, because Westminster is essentially an old historical city
with its roots far down in the centuries of the past: once a Roman
station; once the market-place of the island; once a port; always a
place of religion and unction; for six hundred years the site of the
King’s House; for five hundred years the seat of Parliament; for as many
the home of our illustrious dead. But with East London there is no
necessity to speak of history. This modern city, the growth of a single
century,—nay, of half a century,—has no concern and no interest in the
past; its present is not affected by its past; there are no monuments to
recall the past; its history is mostly a blank—that blank which is the
history of woods and meadows, arable and pasture land, over which the
centuries pass, making no more mark than the breezes of yesterday have
made on the waves and waters of the ocean.

It is, however, necessary that the reader should understand exactly what
I mean by East London. For this purpose I have prepared a small map
showing the part of Greater London, which in these pages stands for East
London. I include all that area which lies east of Bishopsgate Street
Without and north of the river Thames; I include that area newly covered
with houses, now a densely populated suburb, lying east of the river
Lea; and I include that aggregation of crowded towns, each large enough
to form an important city by itself, formed of the once rural suburban
villages called Hackney, Clapton, Stoke Newington, Old Ford, Stepney,
Bow and Stratford.

In order to save the trouble of a long description, and because the
reader ought to know something of the natural features of the ground on
which East London stands, I have presented on the map certain
indications by which the reader, with a little study, may make out for
himself as much of these natural features as are necessary. He will see,
for instance, that the parts now lying along the bank of the river were
formerly either foreshore or marshland, overflowed at every high tide,
and lying below a low, natural cliff, which receded inland till it met
the rising ground of the bank of the river Lea. The figures on the map
mark the sites of villages successively reclaimed from the river by a
dyke or sea-wall; if the reader were to visit these riverside parishes
he would find in many places the streets actually lower than the high
tide of the river, but protected by this sea-wall, now invisible and
built over. North of the cliff was a level expanse of cultivated farms,
woods and orchards, common ground and pasture land.


[Illustration: Map of East London.]


This level ground was a manor belonging to the Bishop of London; the
farmers, huntsmen, fowlers, and fishermen occupying it were his tenants;
he was jealous over encroachments, and would not permit the City to
stretch out its arms over his domain. The history of the manor belongs
to the antiquary: to the East Londoner himself it has no interest; and
indeed, there is very little to tell. That Captain Courageous, Wat
Tyler, marched his men across this manor. They came by the road marked
“To Bow.” One of our kings held a Parliament in the Bishop’s Palace;
heretics were occasionally burned here; there were one or two monastic
houses; a bishop’s palace there was; and there was one parish church,
for the large parish called Stebenhithe, now Stepney. Farmhouses were
scattered about; there were orchards and gardens, lovely woods, broad
pastures, acres of waving corn. The citizens of London, though this
place belonged to the bishop, had the right of hunting and fishing in
its woods and over its low-lying levels; it was a right of the most
valuable kind, for the marshes were full of wild birds and the woods
were full of creatures fit for man’s food. In the year 1504, Sir Thomas
More, writing to his friend Dean Colet, then Vicar of Stepney, says:
“Wheresoever you look, the earth yieldeth you a pleasant prospect; the
temperature of the air fresheth you, and the very bounds of the heavens
do delight you. Here you find nothing but bounteous gifts of nature and
saint-like tokens of innocency.”

The whole of the area between the northern road, which is our western
boundary, and the river Lea is now covered with houses and people; the
peninsula, marked on the map by the number “VII,” consisting of low and
malarial ground, long stood out against occupation, but is now almost
entirely covered over and absorbed by factories and workmen’s
residences; what is more, the people of the original East London have
now overflowed and crossed the Lea, and spread themselves over the
marshes and meadows beyond. This population—not to speak of the suburban
villas, which now cover many square miles—represents a movement and a
migration of the last twenty years. It has created new towns which were
formerly rural villages. West Ham, with a population of nearly 300,000;
East Ham, with 90,000; Stratford, with its “daughters,” 150,000; and
other “hamlets” similarly overgrown. Including, therefore, as we must
include, these new populations, we have an aggregate of nearly two
millions of people, living all together in what ought to be a single
city under one rule. This should be a very remarkable city for its
numbers alone; the population is greater than that of Berlin or Vienna,
or St. Petersburg, or Philadelphia. As a crowded mass of humanity alone
it should demand serious consideration. In other respects, however, it
is more remarkable still. You will acknowledge with me that in these
respects and from these points of view, no other city in the world is
like East London.

To begin with, it is not a city by organization; it is a collocation of
overgrown villages lying side by side. It had, until this year (1900),
no center, no heart, no representative body, no mayor, no aldermen, no
council, no wards; it has not inherited Folk’s Mote, Hustings, or Ward
Mote; it has therefore no public buildings of its own. There are vestry
halls and town halls, but they are those of the separate hamlets—Hackney
or Stratford—not East London. It has no police of its own; the general
order is maintained by the London County Council. It is a city full of
churches and places of worship, yet there are no cathedrals, either
Anglican or Roman; it has a sufficient supply of elementary schools, but
it has no public or high school, and it has no colleges for the higher
education and no university; the people all read newspapers, yet there
is no East London paper except of the smaller and local kind; the
newspapers are imported from Fleet Street; it has no monthly magazines
nor any weekly popular journals, not even penny comic papers—these also
are imported; it has no courts of law except the police courts; out of
the one hundred and eighty free libraries, great and small, of London,
only nine or ten belong to this city—two of these are doubtful, one at
least is actually falling to pieces by neglect and is in a rapid state
of decay. In the streets there are never seen any private carriages;
there is no fashionable quarter; the wealthy people who live on the
northeast side near Epping Forest do their shopping in the City or the
West End; its places of amusement are of the humbler kind, as we shall
learn in due course; one meets no ladies in the principal thoroughfares;
there is not visible, anywhere, the outward indication of wealth.
People, shops, houses, conveyances—all together are stamped with the
unmistakable seal of the working-class.

Perhaps the strangest thing of all is this: in a city of two millions of
people there are no hotels! Actually, no hotels! There may be, perhaps,
sprung up of late, one or two by the docks, but I think not; I know of
none. No hotels. That means, of course, that there are no visitors. Is
there anywhere else in the world a great city which has no visitors? It
is related of a New Zealander that he once came over intending to make a
short stay in London. He put up at a hotel in the City of London itself,
on the eastern side; his wandering feet took him every day into
Whitechapel and Wapping, which, he imagined, constituted the veritable
London of which he had read. After three or four weeks of disappointed
monotony in search of London’s splendors he sought a returning steamer
at the docks. “London,” he said, “is a big place; but for public
buildings and magnificence and rich people, give me Canterbury, New
Zealand.”

There are no visitors to demand hotels; there are also none to ask for
restaurants. Consequently there are none. Dining-rooms, coffee-rooms,
and places providing for the working-men, places of the humbler kind
where things to eat may be had, there are in plenty. Most of the working
folk take their dinners in these places; but the restaurant of the
better kind, with its glittering bars and counters, its white tables,
its copious catering, and its civil waiters, does not exist in East
London. Is there any other city of the world, with even a tenth part of
this population, of which these things would be said? This crowded area,
this multitude of small houses, this aggregation of mean streets—these
things are the expression and the consequence of an expansion of
industries during the last seventy years on a very large and unexpected
scale; East London suddenly sprang into existence because it was
unexpectedly wanted. A map of London of the year 1830 shows a riverside
fringe of hamlets—a cluster of houses outside the City of London and
along the two principal roads marked on my map. For the whole of the
district outside and around there are lanes and paths through fields and
orchards and market gardens, with occasional churches and clusters of
houses and detached country residences.

I have said that there is no municipality, that there are no mayor,
aldermen, or wards; one reason is that it is a manufacturing, not a
trading, city; the wharves and docks are for the use and convenience of
the merchants of the great trading city, their neighbor; manufacturers
are not a gregarious folk; they do not require a bourse or exchange;
they can get along without a mercantile center; they do not feel the
want of a guildhall; they do not understand that they have any bond of
common interest except the necessity of keeping order. The city sprang
up so rapidly, it has spread itself in all directions so unexpectedly,
it has become, while men, unsuspecting, went about their daily business,
suddenly so vast that there has been no opportunity for the simultaneous
birth or creation of any feeling of civic patriotism, civic brotherhood,
or civic pride.


[Illustration: London Street, Limehouse.]


The present condition of East London suggests to the antiquary, in
certain respects, the ancient condition of the City of London before the
people obtained their commune and their mayor. For as the City was
divided into wards, which were manors owned and ruled by aldermen, with
no central organization, no chief or leader of the citizens, so East
London, until the changes in last year’s Act of Parliament, consisted of
parishes, vestries, boards of guardians, and other boards, with no
cohesion, no central government, and, in important matters, such as
fire, water, sanitation, police, education, law, subject to external
authority.

There are no newspapers, but then their newspapers are published in
Fleet Street, only two or three miles away. But their books—where do
they get their books? There are no book-shops. Here is a city of two
millions of people, and not a single bookseller’s shop. True, there are
one or two second-hand book-shops; there are also a few shops which
display, among other goods, a shelf or two of books, mostly of the goody
kind—the girls’ Sunday-school prize and the like. But not a single place
in which the new books of the day, the better literature, the books of
which the world is talking, are displayed and offered for sale. I do not
think that publishers’ travelers ever think it necessary to visit East
London at all. Considering the population, I submit that this is a very
remarkable omission, and one that can be observed in no other city in
the world a tenth part so thickly populated.

Some twelve years ago I was the editor of a weekly sheet called the
“People’s Palace Journal.” In that capacity I endeavored to encourage
literary effort, in the hope of lighting upon some unknown and latent
genius. The readers of the “Journal” were the members of the various
classes connected with the educational side of the place. They were
young clerks chiefly—some of them very good fellows. They had a debating
society, which I attended from time to time. Alas! They carried on their
debates in an ignorance the most profound, the most unconscious, and the
most self-satisfied. I endeavored to persuade them that it was desirable
at least to master the facts of the case before they spoke. In vain.
Then I proposed subjects for essays, and offered prizes for verses. I
discovered, to my amazement, that, among all the thousands of these
young people, lads and girls, there was not discoverable the least
rudimentary indication of any literary power whatever. In all other
towns there are young people who nourish literary ambitions, with some
measure of literary ability. How should there be any in this town, where
there were no books, no papers, no journals, and, at that time, no free
libraries?

Another point may be noted. Ours is a country which has to maintain, at
great cost, a standing army of three hundred thousand men, or
thereabouts, for the defense of the many dependencies of the Empire.
These soldiers are all volunteers; it is difficult, especially in times
of peace, to get recruits in sufficient numbers; it is very important,
most important, that the martial spirit of our youth should be
maintained, and that the advantages which a few years’ discipline with
the colors, with the subsequent chances of employment, possess over the
dreary life of casual labor, should be kept constantly before the eyes
of the people. Such is the wisdom of our War Office that the people of
East London, representing a twentieth part of the population of the
whole country, have no soldiers quartered on them; that they never see
the pomp of war; that they never have their blood fired with the martial
music and the sight of men marching in order; and that in their schools
they are never taught the plain duties of patriotism and the honor of
fighting for the country. In the same spirit of wisdom their country’s
flag, the Union Jack, is never seen in East London except on the river;
it does not float over the schools; the children are not taught to
reverence the flag of the country as the symbol of their liberties and
their responsibilities; alone among the cities of the world, East London
never teaches her children the meaning of patriotism, the history of
their liberties, the pride and the privilege of citizenship in a mighty
empire.


[Illustration: A Typical Street in Bethnal Green.]


What appearance does it present to the visitor? There is, again, in this
respect as well, no other city in the world in the least like East
London for the unparalleled magnitude of its meanness and its monotony.
It contains about five hundred miles of streets, perhaps more—a hundred
or two may be thrown in; they would make little difference. In his
haste, the traveler who walks about these streets for the first time
declares that they are all exactly alike. They contain line upon line,
row upon row, never-ending lines, rows always beginning, of houses all
alike—that is to say, there are differences, but they are slight; there
are workmen’s houses of four or five rooms each, all turned out of the
same pattern, as if built by machinery; there are rows of houses a
little better and larger, but on the same pattern, designed for foremen
of works and the better sort of employees; a little farther off the main
street there are the same houses, but each with a basement and a tiny
front garden—they are for city clerks; and there are dingy houses up
squalid courts, all of the same pattern, but smaller, dirty, and
disreputable. The traveler, on his first visit, wanders through street
after street, through miles of streets. He finds no break in the
monotony; one street is like the next; he looks down another, and finds
it like the first two. In the City and in the west of London there are
old houses, old churches, porches that speak of age, courts and lanes
that have a past stamped upon them, though the houses themselves may be
modern. Here there seems to be no past; he finds no old buildings; one
or two venerable churches there are; there is one venerable tower—but
these the traveler does not discover on his first visit, nor perhaps on
his second or his third.

As are its streets, so, the hasty traveler thinks, must be the lives of
the people—obscure, monotonous, without ambition, without aims, without
literature, art or science. They help to produce the wealth of which
they seem to have so little share, though perhaps they have their full
share; they make possible splendors which they never see; they work to
glorify the other London, into which their footsteps never stray. This,
says the traveler, is the Unlovely City, alike unlovely in its buildings
and in its people—a collocation of houses for the shelter of a herd; a
great fold in which the silly sheep are all alike, where one life is the
counterpart of another, where one face is the same as another, where one
mind is a copy of its neighbor.

The Unlovely City, he calls it, the City of Dreadful Monotony! Well, in
one sense it is all that the casual traveler understands, yet that is
only the shallow, hasty view. Let me try to show that it is a city full
of human passions and emotions, human hopes and fears, love and the joys
of love, bereavement and the sorrows of bereavement; as full of life as
the stately City, the sister City, on the west. Monotonous lines of
houses do not really make or indicate monotonous lives; neither tragedy
nor comedy requires the palace or the castle; one can be human without a
coronet, or even a carriage; one may be a clerk on eighty pounds a year
only, and yet may present, to one who reads thought and interprets
action, as interesting a study as any artist or æsthete, poet or
painter.

Again, this city is not, as our casual observer in his haste affirms,
made up entirely of monotonous lives and mean houses; there are bits and
corners where strange effects of beauty can be seen; there is a park
more lovely than that of St. James’s; there are roads of noble breadth;
there is the ample river; there are the crowded docks; there are
factories and industries; there are men and women in East London who
give up their lives for their brothers and their sisters; and beyond the
city, within easy reach of the city, there are woods and woodlands,
villages and rural haunts, lovelier than any within reach of western
London.

It will be my task in the following pages to lay before my readers some
of the aspects of this city which may redeem it from the charges of
monotony and unloveliness. Do not expect a history of all the villages
which have been swallowed up. That belongs to another place. We have
here to do with the people; humanity may be always picturesque; to the
philosopher every girl is beautiful because she is a girl; every young
man is an object of profound interest because he is a man, and of
admiration because he is young. You have no idea how many girls,
beautiful in their youth; how many women, beautiful in their lives; how
many young men of interest, because they have their lives before them;
how many old men of interest, because their lives are behind them, are
living in this city so monotonous and so mean.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   II

                        THE CITY OF MANY CRAFTS



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   II

                        THE CITY OF MANY CRAFTS


SOME time ago I compiled a list of the various crafts carried on in
London during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, simply using for
the purpose the more accessible books. It was a time when everything
wanted for the daily use of the people was made or prepared by the
craftsmen of the City, always excepting the things of luxury in demand
only by the richer sort, such as foreign wines, silks, velvets, fine
weapons, inlaid armor, swords of tempered steel, spices and oil and
carpets. The London weaver sat at his loom, the London housewife sat at
her spinning-wheel, the London cutler made knives for the Londoner, the
“heaumer” made helmets, the “loriner” made bits and spurs, and so on.
Yet the number of the crafts was only between two and three hundred, so
simple was the life of the time. Then I made another compilation, this
time for the eighteenth century. In the interval of four hundred years
many new inventions had been made, many new arts had come into
existence, many new wants had been created—life had become much more
complex in character. My list of crafts and trades had actually doubled,
though many things were made out of London. At the present moment even,
when dependence is largely necessary on outside industrial centers and
when no great city is sufficient to herself in manufactures, when whole
classes of manufactures have been localized in other parts, when one
might fairly expect a large reduction in the number of trades, we find,
on the other hand, a vast increase. Especially is this increase
remarkable in East London, which, as a home of industries, hardly
existed seventy years ago. It is now especially a city of the newer
wants, the modern crafts, the recent inventions and applications.

East London is, to repeat, essentially and above all things a city of
the working-man. The vast majority of the people work at weekly wages,
for employers great or small. But the larger employers do not live near
their factories, or among their people; you may find at Mile End and
elsewhere a few houses where wealthy employers have once lived, but they
have long since gone away. The chief difference between the present
“City,” properly so called, and East London is that in the City
everybody—principals, clerks, servants, workmen, all go away as soon as
the offices are closed, and no one is left; in East London the employers
go away when the factories are closed, but the employees remain. There
is therefore no sensible diminution in the population on Saturdays and
Sundays; the streets are never deserted as in the City. The
manufacturers and employers of East End labor live in the country or at
the West End, but for the most part in the suburbs beyond the river Lea,
on the outskirts of Epping Forest, where there are very many stately
houses, standing in their gardens and grounds, occupied by a wealthy
class whose factories and offices are somewhere about East London.

The distribution of the trades curiously follows the old mediæval
method, where the men of each trade inhabited their own district for
purposes of work and had their own place recognized and assigned to them
in the great daily fair or market of Chepe. In Whitechapel, for
instance, we may find gathered together a very large percentage of
those, men and women—Polish Jews and others—who are engaged in making
clothes. In Bethnal Green and in Shoreditch are found the followers of
the furniture and woodwork trade; the riverside gives lodging to those
who live by work in the docks; bootmakers are numerous in Mile End, Old
Town, and Old Ford; the silk trade still belongs especially to
Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. The large factories which turn out such
a boundless collection of useful, if unlovely, things line the riverside
of the Isle of Dogs, and the factory hands have their houses in newly
built streets near their work; in Hoxton there is carried on an entirely
different class of industries, chiefly of the smaller kind, such as fur
and feather dressing; their number and the number of their branches and
subdivisions are simply bewildering when one begins to investigate the
way in which the people live. In watchmaking, which belongs to
Clerkenwell, a man will go through life in comfort knowing but one
infinitesimal piece of work—how to make one small bit of a watch; so in
these East End trades a man or a woman generally knows how to do one
thing and one thing only, and if that one piece of work cannot be
obtained the man is lost, for he can do nothing else. In cigar-making,
for instance, there are many women who do nothing all their lives but
take out of the tobacco-leaf the mid rib; this must be done so that the
stalk will be pulled out readily without disturbing or abrading the
surface of the leaf. It is work, too, which is well paid, a “stripper”
getting from twenty-three to twenty-five shillings a week.

The division of labor among the population can be arrived at from a
study of certain tables prepared by Mr. Charles Booth for his great
work on the “Life and Labor of the People of London.” For his purpose
he takes a population of nearly a million—to be accurate,
908,958—inhabiting the area which he defines as East London and
Hackney. My own definition of East London, however, includes a much
larger area, and when we add West Ham, with its large population of
270,000, nearly all sprung up in the last quarter of a century; that
of East Ham, with 90,000, where, twenty years ago, there was but a
hamlet and a church in the fields; and Stratford, with Bow, Bromley,
and Forest Gate, with about 200,000 more, and Walthamstow, with Leyton
and the suburbs south of Epping Forest, we have a population nearly
amounting to two millions. Nor does he include the Isle of Dogs, now
very thickly populated. Let us, however, take Mr. Booth’s figures as
applicable to his district, which is that with which we are most
nearly concerned. He has ascertained, partly from the last census and
partly from independent research and investigation, the main divisions
of the various industries and the number of people dependent upon
each. Thus, out of his solid million he could find only 443 heads of
families, representing 1841 souls, and 574 women, representing 1536
souls, who were independent of work—that is to say, only one person in
600 lived on accumulated savings either of himself or his father
before him. This percentage in an industrial town is extremely small.
The whole of the rest live by their own work, the greater part by
industries, but a few by professions. Thus, of the latter there are
4485 persons—a very small proportion—supported by the professions,
meaning the clergy, the medical men, the lawyers, the architects, etc.
Of clerks and subordinates in the professions there are 79,000 persons
maintained, there are 34,600 persons supported by shops of all kinds,
there are 9200 persons supported by taverns and coffee-houses; this
accounts for less than 140,000. The whole of the remaining 726,000
live on the wages earned by the breadwinner.


[Illustration: An East End Wharf.]


It is, in fact, altogether an industrial population. If, again, we take
Mr. Charles Booth’s figures in greater detail there are seventy-three
thousand who depend upon casual employment; there are the railway
servants, the police, the road service, the sailors, and the officials.
There are, next, those employed in the main divisions of trade—dress,
furniture, building, and machinery—and there are the significant items
of “sundry artisans,” “home industries,” “small trades,” and “other
wage-earners,” amounting in all to the support of about eighty-five
thousand persons. It is among these “sundries” that we are to look for
the astonishing variety of industries, the strange trades that our
complex life has called into existence, and the minute subdivisions of
every trade into branches—say, sprigs and twigs—in which one man may
spend his whole life. We are now very far from the days when a shoemaker
sat down with the leather and his awl and worked away until he had
completed the whole shoe, perfect in all its parts, a shoe of which he
was proud as every honest workman should be, with no scamping of work,
no brown paper instead of leather for the heel. The modern system leaves
no room for pride in work at all; every man is part of a machine; the
shoe grows without the worker’s knowledge; when it emerges, not singly
but by fifties and hundreds, there is no one who can point to it and
say, “Lo! I made it. I—with my right hand. It is the outcome of my
skill.” The curse of labor, surely, has never been fully realized until
the solace of labor, the completion of good work, was taken away from
the craftsman. Look at the list, an imperfect one, of the subdivisions
now prevailing in two or three trades. Formerly, when a man set himself
to make a garment of any kind he did the whole of it himself, and was
responsible for it and received credit for it, and earned wages
according to his skill. There is now a contractor; he turns out the same
thing by the score in half the time formerly required for one; he
divides the work, you see; he employs his “baster, presser, machinist,
buttonholer, feller, fixer, general hand,” all working at the same time
to produce the cheap clothing for which there is so great a demand. In
bootmaking the subdivision is even more bewildering. There are here the
manufacturers, factors, dealers, warehouse men, packers, translators,
makers of lasts, boot-trees, laces, tips and pegs—all these before we
come to the bootmaker proper, who appears in various departments as the
clicker, the closer, the fitter, the machinist, the buttonholer, the
table hand, the sole maker, the finisher, the eyeletter, the rough-stuff
cutter, the laster, the cleaner, the trimmer, the room girl, and the
general utility hand. Again, in the furniture and woodwork trade there
are turners, sawyers, carvers, frame makers, cabinet-makers, chair
makers, polishers, upholsterers, couch makers, office, bedroom, library,
school, drawing-room, furniture makers; upholsterers, improvers,
fancy-box makers, gilders, gluers, and women employed in whichever of
these branches their work can be made profitable.

If we turn to women’s work as distinct from men’s, we find even in small
things this subdivision. For instance, a necktie seems a simple matter;
surely one woman might be intrusted with the making of a single tie. Yet
the work is divided into four. There is the woman who makes the fronts,
she who makes the bands, she who makes the knots, and she who makes the
“fittings.” And in the match-making business, which employs many
hundreds of women and girls, there are the splint makers, the dippers,
the machinists, the wax-vesta makers, the coil fillers, the cutters
down, the tape cutters, the box fillers, the packers, and so on.

It is not my intention in this book to enter into detail concerning the
work and wages of East London. To do so, indeed, with any approach to
truth would involve the copying of Mr. Charles Booth’s book, since no
independent single investigator could hope to arrive at the mass of
evidence and the means of estimating and classifying that evidence with
anything like the accuracy and the extent of information embodied in
those volumes. I desire, however, to insist very strongly upon the fact
that the keynote of East London is its industrial character; that it is
a city of the working-classes; and that one with another, all except a
very small percentage, are earners of the weekly and the daily wage. I
would also point out that not only are the crafts multiplied by the
subdivisions of contractors, but that every new invention, every new
fashion, every new custom, starts a new trade and demands a new set of
working folks; that every new industrial enterprise also calls for its
new workmen and its skilled hands—how many thousands during the last
twenty years have been maintained by the bicycle? As for wages, they
speedily right themselves as the employer discovers the cost of
production, the possible margin of profit, and the level of supply and
demand, tempered by the necessity of keeping the work-people contented
and in health.

Another point to observe is the continual demand for skilled labor in
new directions. A walk round the Isle of Dogs, whose shores are lined
with factories producing things new and old, but especially new, enables
one to understand the demand, but not to understand the supply. Early in
this century the general application of gas for lighting purposes called
for an army of gas engineers, stokers, and fitters and makers of the
plant required. The development of steam has created another army of
skilled labor; the new appliances of electricity have called into
existence a third army of working-men whose new craft demands far more
skill than any of the older trades. Consider, again, the chemical
developments and discoveries; consider the machinery that is required
for almost every kind of industry; the wonderful and lifelike engine of
a cotton mill, which deals as delicately as a woman’s fingers with the
most dainty and fragile fiber, yet exercises power which is felt in
every department of the huge mill; consider the simple lathe driven by
steam; consider the new materials used for the new industries; consider
the machinery wanted to create other machinery; and consider, further,
that these developments have all appeared during the nineteenth century,
that East London is the place where most of them, in our country, were
first put into practice. If, I say, we consider all these things we
shall understand something of the present population of East London.

Again referring to Mr. Charles Booth’s book, there you may learn for
yourself what is paid to men, women, and children for every kind of
work; there you may learn the hours employed and all the
conditions—sanitary, insanitary, dangerous, poisonous—of all the
industries. It must be enough here to note that there are, as might be
expected, great variations in the wages of the work-people. High skill,
whatever may be the effect, in certain quarters, of sweating, still
commands high wages; those trades which make the smallest demand for
skill and training are, as might be expected, poorly paid. For instance,
there is no work which calls for more skill than that of the electrical
or mechanical engineer, or the engineer of steam or of gas. Therefore we
observe without astonishment that such a man may receive £3 or £4 a
week, while the wage of the ordinary craftsman ranges, according to the
skill required, from 18_s._ to 35_s._ a week. In the work of women it is
well to remember that the lower kinds of work are worth from 7_s._ to
12_s._ in ordinary seasons, and that there are some kinds of work in
which a woman may make from 15_s._ to 25_s._ a week. In thinking of East
London remember that the whole of the people (with certain exceptions)
have to live on wages such as these, while the clerks, who belong to a
higher social level and have higher standards of comfort, are not in
reality much better off with their salaries ranging from £80 a year to
£150.


[Illustration: An East End Factory.]


It might be expected that in speaking of trade and industry we should
also speak of the sweating, which is so largely carried on in this city
of industry. There is, however, nothing on which so much half-informed
invective has been written—and wasted—as on the subject of sweating. For
my own part, I have nothing to say except what has been already said by
Mr. Charles Booth, who has investigated the subject and for the first
time has explained exactly what sweating means. The sweater is either
the small master or the middleman; the employer practically resigns the
responsibility of his workmen and makes a contract with a middleman, who
relieves him of trouble and makes his profit out of the workmen’s pay.
Or the employer finds a middleman who distributes the work and collects
it, does part of it himself, and sweats others, being himself sweated.
Or sometimes it is a “chamber master” who employs “greeners”—new
hands—for long hours on wages which admit of bare subsistence—sweating,
in fact, is the outcome in all its shapes of remorseless competition.
Many experiments have been tried to conduct business on terms which will
not allow the sweater’s interference. These experiments have always
ended in failure, often because the work-people themselves cannot
believe in the success of any system except that with which they are
familiar. Some twelve or fifteen years ago my friend Mrs. H—— started a
workshop at St. George’s-in-the-East on coöperative principles. She made
shirts and other things of the kind. At first she seemed to be getting
on very well; she employed about a dozen workwomen, including a
forewoman in whom she placed implicit confidence. Her successful start,
she said, was due entirely to the enthusiasm, the zeal, the devotion, of
that forewoman. Then a dreadful blow fell, for the devoted forewoman
deserted, taking with her the best of the workwomen, and started a
sweating shop herself—in which, I dare say, she has done well. My friend
got over the blow, and presently extended her work and enlarged her
premises. The enlargement ruined her enterprise; she had to close. Her
experience was to the effect that it is only by the sweated farthing
that in these days of cut-throat competition shops which sell things
made by hand or by the sewing-machine can pay their expenses, that the
sweater is himself sweated, and that the workwoman, starving under the
sweating system, mistrusts any other and is an element of danger in the
very workroom which is founded for her emancipation.

She also discovered that the workgirl requires constant supervision and
sharp—very sharp—admonition; she found that the system of fines adopted
by many workshops saves a great deal of trouble both in supervision and
in admonition; that a gentle manner is too often taken for weakness and
for ignorance. And she impressed upon me the really great truth that the
working girl is never employed out of sentimental kindness, but as a
machine, by the right and judicious use of which an employer may make a
livelihood or even perhaps a competence. In other words, when we talk
about miserable wages we must remember all the circumstances and all the
conditions, and, she insisted, we must set aside mere sentiment as a
useless, or even a mischievous, factor. For my own part, I do not
altogether agree with my friend. I believe in the power and uses of
sentiment. Let us by all means ascertain all the facts of the case, but
let us continue our sentiment—our sympathy—with the victim of hard
conditions and cruel competition.

A remarkable characteristic of East London is the way in which the
industrial population is constantly recruited from the country. I shall
speak of the aliens later on. I mean, in this place, the influx from the
country districts and from small country towns of lads or young men and
young women who are always pouring into East London, attracted by one
knows not what reports of prosperity, of high wages, and greater
comforts. If they only knew—most of them—what awaits them in the
labyrinthine city!

Long ago it was discovered that London devours her own children. This
means that city families have a tendency to die out or to disappear. All
the city families of importance—a very long list can be drawn up—of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries—the Bukerels, Basings, Orgars, Battes,
Faringdons, Anquetils—have disappeared in the fifteenth. All the great
names of the fifteenth—Whittington, Philpot, Chichele, and the rest—are
gone in the sixteenth; all the great names of the sixteenth century have
disappeared in the eighteenth, and we may ask in vain, “Where are those
families which were leaders of the City in the beginning of the
nineteenth?”

The same thing seems true of the lower levels. I cannot here inquire
into the reasons; the fact remains that London demands the continual
influx of new blood, whether for the higher or the lower work. At the
same time, there is also the continual efflux. I should like if it were
possible, but it would entail an enormous amount of work and research,
to ascertain how far the descendants of the old London families, the
rich merchants of the last three or four hundred years, are still to be
found among our county families. There are descendants of Henry Fitz
Ailwyn, first mayor of London, and there are also descendants of the
Thedmars, the Brembres, the Philpots, the Walworths. Are there
descendants of the Boleyns and the Greshams? Are there descendants among
the county families and the nobility of those city merchants who made
their “plum” in the last century, and were so much despised by the
fashion of the day? Further, I should like to ascertain, if possible,
how far the old London families are represented by descendants in
America. It would, again, be interesting to learn how many firms of
merchants still remain of those which flourished in London a hundred
years ago. And it would also be interesting if we could learn, in a
long-settled parish of working folk, such as Bethnal Green or
Spitalfields, how many names still survive of the families who were
baptized, married, and buried at the parish church in the year 1800. The
last would be an investigation of great and special interest, because no
one, so far, has attempted to ascertain the changes which take place in
the rank and file of a London parish, and because the people themselves
keep no record of their origin, and the grandchildren, as a rule,
neither ask nor seek to know where their grandfathers were born; they
care nothing for the rock from which they were digged.

Again I venture to borrow two or three simple figures from Mr. Booth. He
tested a small colony called an “Irish” neighborhood; it consisted of
160 persons. I presume that he means 160 heads of families; of these 57
were Londoners by birth; out of London, but in the United Kingdom, 88
were born; the remaining 15 were foreigners by birth. And out of 693
applicants for relief to the Charity Organization Society in Mile End,
Old Town, and St. George’s-in-the-East, 486, or seventy per cent., were
Londoners by birth; 207, or thirty per cent., were born out of London.


[Illustration: Barge-Builders.]


It may be added that if we take the whole of London it is roughly
estimated that 630 in the thousand of the population are natives of
London, that 307 come from other parts of England and Wales, that 13 are
Scotch, 21 Irish, 8 colonists, and 21 of foreign birth. This estimate
may have been slightly altered by the recent influx of Russian Jews, but
the difference made by a hundred thousand or so cannot be very great.
The settlements of the alien, especially in East London, will be
considered in another chapter. Meantime, to one who lives in the suburbs
of London—to one who considers the men of light and leading in London:
its artists, men of letters, architects, physicians, lawyers, surgeons,
clergy, etc.—it seems at first sight as if no one was born in London.
The City merchants, however, can, I believe, point to a majority of
their leaders as natives of London. It would be easy to overstate the
case in this respect.

The statistics, so far as they can be arrived at, as to religion are
startling. On October 24, 1886, a census was taken of church attendance.
The results were as follows: Over an area including 909,000 souls there
were 33,266 who attended the Church of England in the morning, and
37,410 who attended in the evening. This means 3.6 per cent. in the
morning and 4.1 per cent. in the evening, so that out of every 100
persons 96 stayed away from church. Taking the nonconformist chapels, it
was found that 3.7 per cent. attended some chapel, while 3.3 per cent.
attended the mission halls in the evening. These mission halls, with
their hearty services, the exhortations of the preacher, and the
enthusiasm of the singing, are crowded. So that, taking all together,
there were between seven and eight per cent. of the population who went
to some religious service in the evening. This leaves about ninety-two
per cent., men and women, boys and girls and infants, who did not attend
any kind of worship. This does not indicate the hatred of religion which
is found among Parisian workmen; it is simply indifference and not
hostility, except in special cases and among certain cranks. And
although he does not go to church the East Londoner is by no means loath
to avail himself of everything that can be got out of the church; he
will cheerfully attend at concerts and limelight shows; his wife will
cheerfully get what she can at a rummage sale; and they will cheerfully
send their children to as many picnics in the country, feasts, and
parties as may be provided for them by the clergy of the parish. But
they will not go to church. To this rule there are certain exceptions,
of which I shall perhaps speak in due time.

These few notes will not, I hope, be thought out of place in a volume
whose object it is to present the reader with some kind of portraiture
of the people of East London, the only study in that city which is
curious and interesting. I want, once more, these facts to be borne in
mind. It is a new city, consisting of many old hamlets whose fields and
gardens have been built upon chiefly during this century. It is a city
without a center, without a municipality, and without any civic or
collective or local pride, patriotism, or enthusiasm. It is a city
without art or literature, but filled with the appliances of science and
with working-men, some of whom have acquired a very high degree of
technical skill. It is a city where all alike, with no considerable
exceptions, live on the weekly wage; it is a city of whose people a
large percentage were born elsewhere; and it is a city which offers, I
suppose, a greater variety and a larger number of crafts and trades than
any other industrial center in the world—greater even than Paris, which
is the home of so many industries. And it is not a city of slums, but of
respectability. Slums there are; no one can deny them; there are also
slums in South London much worse in character, and slums in West London,
where the “Devil’s Acre” occupies a proud preëminence in iniquity; but
East London is emphatically not a city of slums.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  III

                       THE POOL AND THE RIVERSIDE



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  III

                       THE POOL AND THE RIVERSIDE


EAST LONDON, then, is a collection of new towns crammed with people; it
is also a collection of industries; it is a hive of quiet, patient,
humble workers; all its people live by their own labor; moreover, it is
a busy port with a population of sailors, and those who belong to
sailors, and those who make their livelihood out of sailors, and such as
go down to the sea in ships. Its riverside is cut up with docks; in and
about among the houses and the streets around the docks rise forests of
masts; there is no seaport in the country, not even Portsmouth, which is
so charged and laden with the atmosphere of ocean and the suggestion of
things far off as this port of London and its riverside. The port and
the river were here long before East London was begun. The port,
however, was formerly higher up, below London Bridge. It was one of
London’s sturdy mayors who bluntly reminded a king, when he threatened
to take away the trade of London, that, at least, he would have to leave
them the river. For, you see, while the river runs below London Bridge,
it is not much harm that any king, even a mediæval monarch, can do to
London trade.

And now come with me; let us walk quietly about this strange city which
has so little to show except its people and their work.

We will begin with the riverside, the port and the Pool and the
“hamlets” which lie beside the river.

There is one place in London where, at any time of day and all the year
round, except in days of rain and snow, you may find a long line of
people, men and women, boys and girls—people well dressed and people in
rags, people who are halting here on their errands or their business,
and people who have no work to do. They stand here side by side, leaning
over the low wall, and they gaze earnestly and intently upon the river
below. They do not converse with each other; there is no exchange of
reflections; they stand in silence. The place is London Bridge; they
lean against the wall and they look down upon the Pool—that is to say,
upon the reach of the river that lies below London Bridge. I have never
crossed the bridge without finding that long line of interested
spectators. They are not in a hurry; they seem to have nothing to do but
to look on; they are not, apparently, country visitors; they have the
unmistakable stamp of London upon them, yet they never tire of the
prospect before them; they tear themselves away unwillingly; they move
on slowly; when one goes another takes his place. What are they thinking
about? Why are they all silent? Why do they gaze so intently? What is it
that attracts them? They do not look as if they were engaged in mentally
restoring the vanished past; I doubt whether they know anything of any
past. Perhaps their imagination is vaguely stimulated by the mere
prospect of the full flood of river and by the sight of the ships. As
they stand there in silence, their thoughts go forth; on wings invisible
they are wafted beyond the river, beyond the ocean, to far-off lands and
purple islands. At least I hope so; otherwise I do not understand why
they stand there so long, and are so deeply wrapped in thought.


[Illustration: The Water-Gate of London: Tower Bridge Looking Toward St.
Paul’s.]


To those who are ignorant of the fact that London is one of the great
ports of the world the sight of the Pool would not convey that
knowledge. What do we see? Just below us on the left is a long, covered
quay, with a crane upon it. Bales and casks are lying about. Two
steamers are moored beside the quay; above them are arranged barges,
three or four side by side and about a dozen in all; one is alongside
the farther steamer, receiving some of her cargo; on the opposite shore
there are other steamers, with a great many more barges, mostly empty;
two or three tugs fight their way up against the tide; heavily laden
barges with red sails, steered by long sweeps, drop down with the ebb;
fishing smacks lie close inshore, convenient for Billingsgate market;
there is a two-masted vessel, of the kind that used to be called a
ketch, lying moored in midstream—what is she doing there?

The steamers are not the great liners; they are much smaller craft. They
run between London and Hamburg, London and Antwerp, London and Dieppe.
The ships which bring the treasures of the world to London port are all
in the docks where they are out of sight; there is no evidence to this
group of spectators from the bridge of their presence at all, or of the
rich argosies they bear within them.

You should have seen this place a hundred years ago. Try to carry your
imagination so far back. Before you lie the vessels in long lines moored
side by side; they form regular streets, with broad waterways between;
as each ship comes up-stream it is assigned its place. There are no
docks; the ships receive or discharge their cargo by means of barges or
lighters, of which there are thousands on the river; there are certain
quays at which everything is landed, in the presence of custom-house
officers, landing surveyors, and landing masters. All day long and all
the year round, except on Sunday, the barges are going backward and
forward, lying alongside, loading and unloading; all day long you will
hear the never-ending shouting, ordering, quarreling, of the bargees and
the sailors; the Pool is as full of noise as it is full of movement.
Every trade and every country are represented in the Pool; the rig, the
lines, the masts of every ship proclaim her nationality and the nature
of her trade. There are the stately East and West Indiamen, the black
collier, the brig and the brigantine and the schooner, the Dutch
galliot, the three-masted Norwegian, the coaster, and the multitudinous
smaller craft—the sailing barge, the oyster boat, the smack, the
pinnace, the snow, the yacht, the lugger, the hog boat, the ketch, the
hoy, the lighter, and the wherries, and always ships dropping down the
river with the ebb, or making their slow way up the river with the flow.

Steam is a leveller by sea as well as on land; on the latter it has
destroyed the picturesque stage-coach and the post-chaise and the Berlin
and the family coach; by sea it banishes the old sailing craft of all
kinds; one after the other they disappear; how many landsmen are there
who at the present day know how to distinguish between brig and
brigantine, between ketch and snow?

I said that there is no history to speak of in East London. The Pool and
the port must be excepted; they are full of history, could we stop for
some of it—the history of shipbuilding, the expansion of trade, the
pirates of the German Ocean; when one begins to look back the things of
the past arise in the mind one after the other and are acted again
before one’s eyes. For instance, you have seen the Pool in 1800. Look
again in 1400. The Pool is again filled with ships, but they are of
strange build and mysterious rig; they are short and broad and solidly
built; they are not built for speed; they are high in the poop, low in
the waist, and broad in the bow; they roll before the wind, with their
single mast and single sail; they are coasters laden with provisions;
they are heavily built craft from Bordeaux, deep down in the water with
casks of wine; they are weather-beaten ships bringing turpentine,
tallow, firs, skins, from the Baltic. And see, even while we look, there
come sweeping up the river the long and stately Venetian galleys, rowed
by Turkish slaves, with gilded masts and painted bows. They come every
year—a whole fleet of them; they put in first at Southampton; they go on
to Antwerp; they cross the German Ocean again to London. Mark the pious
custom of the time. It is not only the Venetian custom, but that of
every country; when the ship has reached her moorings, when the anchor
is dropped and the galley swings into place, the whole ship’s company
gather together before the mainmast—slaves and all—and so, bareheaded,
sing the Kyrielle, the hymn of praise to the Virgin, who has brought
them safe to port.

Of history, indeed, there is no end. Below us is the custom house. It
has always stood near the same spot. We shall see Geoffrey Chaucer, if
we are lucky, walking about engaged in the duty of his office. And here
we may see, perhaps, Dick Whittington, the ’prentice lad newly arrived
from the country; he looks wistfully at the ships; they represent the
world that he must conquer—so much he understands already; they are to
become, somehow, his own ships; they are to bring home his
treasures—cloth of gold and of silver, velvet, silk, spices, perfumes,
choice weapons, fragrant woods; they are to make him the richest
merchant in all the City; they are to enable him to entertain in his own
house the King and the Queen, and to tear up the King’s bonds, amounting
to a princely fortune. You may see, two hundred years later on, one
Shakspere loitering about the quays; he is a young fellow, with a rustic
ruddiness of countenance, like David; he is quiet and walks about by
himself; he looks on and listens, but says nothing. He learns
everything, the talk of sailors, soldiers, working-men—all, and he
forgets nothing. Later on, again, you may see Daniel Defoe, notebook in
hand, questioning the sailors from every port, but especially from the
plantations of Virginia. He, too, observes everything, notes everything,
and reproduces everything. As to the Pool and the port and their history
one could go on forever. But the tale of London Town contains it all,
and that must be told in another place.

Come back to the Pool of the eighteenth century, because it is there
that we get the first glimpse of the people who lived by the shipping
and the port. They were, first, the sailors themselves; next, the
lightermen, stevedores, and porters; then the boat builders, barge
builders, rope-makers, block-makers, ships’ carpenters, mast- and
yard-makers, shipwrights, keepers of taverns and ale-houses, dealers in
ships’ stores, and many others. Now, in the eighteenth century, the
shipping of London port increased by leaps and bounds; in 1709 there
were only five hundred and sixty ships belonging to this port; in 1740
the number was multiplied by three; this number does not include those
ships which came from other British ports or from foreign ports. With
this increase there was, naturally, a corresponding increase of the
riverside population. Their homes were beyond and outside the
jurisdiction of the City; they outgrew the inefficient county machinery
for the enforcement of order and the prevention and punishment of crime.
As years went on the riverside became more densely populated, and the
people, left to themselves, grew year by year more lawless, more
ignorant, more drunken, more savage; there never was a time, there was
no other place, unless it might have been some short-lived pirate
settlement on a West Indian islet, where there was so much savagery as
on the riverside of London—those “hamlets” marked on my map—toward the
close of the eighteenth century. When one thinks of it, when one
realizes the real nature of the situation and its perils, one is amazed
that we got through without a rising and a massacre.


[Illustration: The Bank of “The Pool.” Looking Toward Tower Bridge.]


The whole of the riverside population, including not only the bargemen
and porters, but the people ashore, the dealers in drink, the
shopkeepers, the dealers in marine stores, were joined and banded
together in an organized system of plunder and robbery. They robbed the
ships of their cargoes as they unloaded them; they robbed them of their
cargoes as they brought them in the barge from the wharf to the ship.
They were all concerned in it—man, woman, and child; they all looked
upon the shipping as a legitimate object of plunder; there was no longer
any question of conscience; there was no conscience left at all; how
could there be any conscience where there was no education, no religion,
not even any superstition? Of course the greatest robbers were the
lightermen themselves; but the boys were sent out in light boats which
pulled under the stern of the vessels, out of sight, and received small
parcels of value tossed to them from the men in the ships. These men
wore leathern aprons which were contrived as water-tight bags, which
they could fill with rum or brandy, and they had huge pockets concealed
behind the aprons which they crammed with stuff. On shore every other
house was a drinking-shop and a “fence” or receiving-shop; the evenings
were spent in selling the day’s robberies and drinking the proceeds.
Silk, velvets, spices, rum, brandy, tobacco—everything that was brought
from over the sea became the spoil of this vermin. They divided the
work, they took different branches under different names, they shielded
each other; if the custom-house people or the wharfingers tried to
arrest one, he was protected by his companions. It was estimated in 1798
that goods to the value of £250,000 were stolen every year from the
ships in the Pool by the men who worked at discharging cargo. The people
grew no richer, because they sold their plunder for a song and drank up
the money every day. But they had, at least, as much as they could
drink.

Imagine, then, the consternation and disgust of this honest folk when
they found that the ships were in future going to receive cargo and to
discharge, not in the open river, but in dock, the new wet docks,
capable of receiving all; that the only entrance and exit for the
workmen was by a gate, at which stood half a dozen stalwart warders;
that the good old leathern apron was suspected and handled; that pockets
were also regarded with suspicion and were searched; and that dockers
who showed bulginess in any portion of their figures were ignominiously
set aside and strictly examined. No more confidence between man and man;
no more respect for the dignity of the working-man. The joy, the pride,
the prizes of the profession, all went out as if at one stroke. I am
sorry that we have no record of the popular feeling on the riverside
when it became at last understood that there was no longer any hope,
that honesty had actually become compulsory. What is the worth of virtue
if it is no longer voluntary? For the first time these poor injured
people felt the true curse of labor. Did they hold public meetings? Did
they demonstrate? Did they make processions with flags and drums? Did
they call upon their fellow-workmen to turn out in their millions and
protest against enforced honesty? If they did, we hear nothing of it.
The riverside was unfortunately considered at that time beneath the
notice of the press. After a few unfortunates had been taken at the dock
gates with their aprons full of rum up to the chin; after these captives
had been hauled before the magistrate, tried at the Old Bailey, without
the least sympathy for old established custom, and then imprisoned and
flogged with the utmost barbarity, I think that a general depression of
spirits, a hitherto unknown dejection, fell upon the quarter and
remained, a cloud that nothing could dispel; that the traders all became
bankrupt, and that the demand for drink went down until it really seemed
as if from Wapping to Blackwall the riverside was becoming sober.

Billingsgate, the great fish-market, is down below us, just beyond the
first wharves and the steamers. This is one of the old harbors of
London; it was formerly square in shape, an artificial port simply and
easily carved out of the Thames foreshore of mud and kept from falling
in by timber piles driven in on three sides. It was very easy to
construct such a port in this soft foreshore; there were two others very
much like this higher up the river. Of these one remains to this day, a
square harbor just as it was made fifteen hundred—or was it two
thousand?—years ago.


[Illustration: In the Docks.]


The first London Bridge, the Roman bridge built of wood, had its north
end close beside this port of Billingsgate. My own theory—I will not
stop to explain it, because you are not greatly interested, friendly
reader, in Roman London—is that the square harbor was constructed with
piles of timber on three sides and wooden quays on the piles, in order
to provide a new port for Roman London when those higher up the river
were rendered useless for sea-going craft by the building of the bridge.
If you agree to accept this theory without question and pending the time
when you may possibly take up the whole subject for yourself, you may
stand with me at the head of the present stairs and see for yourself
what it was like in Roman times, with half a dozen merchantmen lying
moored to the wooden quays; upon them bales of wool, bundles of skins,
bars of iron, waiting to be taken on board; rolls of cloth and of silk
imported, boxes containing weapons, casks of wine taken out of the ships
and waiting to be carried up into the citadel; in one corner, huddled
together, a little crowd of disconsolate women and children going off
into slavery somewhere—the Roman Empire was a big place; beside them the
men, their brothers and husbands, going off to show the Roman ladies the
meaning of a battle, and to kill each other, with all the grim
earnestness of reality, in a sham fight for the pleasure of these gentle
creatures. One does not pity gladiators; to die fighting was the
happiest lot; not one of them, I am sure, ever numbered his years and
lamented that he was deprived of fifty, sixty, seventy, years of life
and sunshine and feasting. Perhaps—in the other world, who knows?—in the
world where live the ghosts whose breath is felt at night, whose forms
are seen flitting about the woods, there might be—who knows?—more
battle, more feasting, more love-making.

They have now filled up most of the old port of Billingsgate, and made a
convenient quay in its place. They have also put up a new market in
place of the old sheds. With these improvements it is said to be now the
finest fish-market in the world. Without going round the whole world to
prove the superiority of Billingsgate, one would submit that it is
really a very fine market indeed. Formerly it was graced by the presence
of the fishwomen—those ladies celebrated in verse and in prose, who
contributed a new noun to the language. The word “Billingsgate” conveys
the impression of ready speech and mother-wit, speech and wit
unrestrained, of rolling torrent of invective, of a rare invention in
abuse, and a give-and-take of charge and repartee as quick and as
dexterous as the play of single stick between two masters of defense.
The fishwomen of the market enjoyed the reputation of being more skilled
in this language than any other class in London. The carmen, the
brewers’ draymen, the watermen, the fellowship porters were all skilled
practitioners,—in fact, they all practised daily,—but none, it was
acknowledged, in fullness and richness of detail, in decoration, in
invention, could rise to the heights reached by the fishwomen of the
market. They were as strong, also, physically, as men, even of their own
class; they could wrestle and throw most men; if a visitor offended one
of them she ducked him in the river; they all smoked pipes like men, and
they drank rum and beer like men; they were a picturesque part of the
market, presiding over their stalls. Alas! the market knows them no
more. The fish-woman has been banished from the place; she lingers still
in the dried-fish market opposite, but she is changed; she has lost her
old superiority of language; she no longer drinks or smokes or exchanges
repartee. She is sad and silent; we all have our little day; she has
enjoyed her’s, and it is all over and past.

If you would see the market at its best you must visit it at five in the
morning, when the day’s work begins—the place is then already crowded;
you will find bustle and noise enough over the sale of such an enormous
mass of fish as will help you to understand something of hungry London.
Hither come all the fishmongers to buy up their daily supplies. If you
try to connect this vast mass of fish with the mouths for which it is
destined you will feel the same kind of bewilderment that falls upon the
brain when it tries to realize the meaning of millions.

Next to Billingsgate stands the custom house, with its noble terrace
overlooking the river and its stately buildings. This is the fifth or
sixth custom house; the first of which we have any record, that in which
Chaucer was an officer, stood a little nearer the Tower. After keeping
the King’s accounts and receiving the King’s customs all day, it was
pleasant for him to sit in the chamber over the Gate of Ald, where he
lived, and to meditate his verses, looking down upon the crowds below.

Next to the custom house you see the Tower and Tower Hill. I once knew
an American who told me that he had been in London three years and had
never once gone to see even the outside of the Tower of London. There
are, you see, two varieties of man—perhaps they are the principal
divisions of the species. To the first belongs the man who understands
and realizes that he is actually and veritably compounded of all the
generations which have gone before. He is consciously the child of the
ages. In his frame and figure he feels himself the descendant of the
naked savage who killed his prey with a club torn from a tree; in his
manners, customs, laws, institutions, and religion, he enjoys,
consciously, the achievements of his ancestors; he never forgets the
past from which he has sprung; he never tires of tracing the gradual
changes which made the present possible; like the genealogist, he never
tires of establishing a connection. I am myself one of this school. I do
not know any of my ancestors by sight, nor do I know whether to look for
them among the knights or among the men at arms, but I know that they
were fighting at Agincourt and at Hastings, beside Henry and beside
Harold. If I consider the man of old, the average man, I look in the
glass. When I sit upon a jury I am reminded of that old form of trial in
which a prisoner’s neighbors became his compurgators and solemnly swore
that a man with such an excellent character could not possibly have done
such a thing. When I hear of a ward election I remember the Ward Mote of
my ancestors. I think that I belong more to the past than to the
present; I would not, if I could, escape from the past.


[Illustration: The Tower of London.]


But, then, there is that other school, whose disciples care nothing
about the past. They live in the present; they work for the present,
regardless of either past or future; their faces are turned ever
forward; they will not look back. They use the things of the past
because they are ready to hand; they would improve them if they could;
they would abolish them if they got in the way of advance. They are the
practical men, the administrators, the inventors, the engineers. For
such men the laws of their country, their liberties, the civic peace and
order which allow them to work undisturbed, all are ready made; they
found them here—they do not ask how they came. If they come across any
old thing and think that it is in their way, they sweep it off the earth
without the least remorse; they love a new building, a new fashion, a
new invention; they are the men who only see the Tower of London by
accident as they go up and down the river, and they think what a noble
site for warehouses is wasted by that great stone place. This is a very
large school; it embraces more than the half of civilized humanity.

Let me speak in this place of the Tower to the former school—the lesser
half.

Three hundred years ago Stow wrote of the Tower of London in these
words: “Now to conclude in summary. The Tower is a citadel to defend or
command the city, a royal palace for assemblies or treaties, a prison of
state for the most dangerous offenders, the only place of coinage for
all England, the armory for warlike provision, the treasury of the
ornaments and jewels of the Crown, the general conserves of the most
ancient records of the king’s courts of justice at Westminster.”

The history of the Tower would cover many sheets of long and gloomy
pages. There is no sadder history anywhere. Fortunately, we need not
tell it here. When you think of it, remember that it is still, as it
always has been, a fortress; it has been in addition a palace, a court,
a mint, a prison; but it has always been a fortress, and it is a
fortress still; at night the gates are shut; no one after dark is
admitted without the password; to the lord mayor alone, as a compliment
and a voluntary act of friendliness on the part of the Crown, the
password is intrusted day by day. The Tower was surrounded by a small
tract of ground called the Tower Liberties. Formerly the City had no
jurisdiction over this district. Even now the boundaries of the
Liberties are marked out again every three years by a procession
including the mayor of the Tower, the chief officials, including the
gaoler with his axe of office, and the school children carrying white
wands. They march from post to post; at every place where the broad
arrow marks the boundary the children beat it with their wands. In
former times they caught the nearest bystander and beat him on the spot,
in this way impressing upon his memory, in a way not likely to be
forgotten, the boundaries of the Tower Liberties. In such fashion, “by
reason of thwacks,” was the barber in the “Shaving of Shagpat” made to
remember the injunctions which led him to great honor. In every London
parish to this day they “beat the bounds” once a year with such a
procession. I know not if the custom is still preserved outside London.
But I remember such a beating of the bounds, long years ago, beside
Clapham Common, when the boys of the procession caught other boys, and,
after bumping them against the post, slashed at them with their wands.
We were the other boys, and there was a fight, which, while it lasted,
was brisk and enjoyable.

There are two places belonging to the Tower which should be specially
interesting to the visitor. These are the chapel, called “St. Peter ad
Vincula,” and the terrace along the river. The history, my American
friend, which this chapel illustrates is your property and your
inheritance, as much as our own. Your ancestors, as well as ours, looked
on while the people buried in the chapel were done to death. Look at
those letters “A. B.” They mark the grave of the hapless Anne Boleyn, a
martyr, perhaps: a child of her own bad age, perhaps—who knows? Beside
her lies her sister in misfortune,—no martyr, if all is true, yet surely
hapless,—Katherine Howard. Here lies the sweetest and tenderest of
victims, Lady Jane Gray; you cannot read her last words without breaking
down; you cannot think of her fate without tears. Here lies Sir Walter
Raleigh—is there anywhere in America a monument to the memory of this
illustrious man? For the rest, come here and make your own catalogue; it
will recall, as Macaulay wrote, “whatever is darkest in human nature and
in human destiny, with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with
all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame.”

The other place, the terrace along the river, is fit for the musing of a
summer afternoon. In front you have life—the life of the day; behind you
have life, but it is the life of the past. Nowhere in England can you
find such a contrast. Sit down upon this terrace, among the old, useless
cannon, among the children at play, and the contrast will presently
seize you and hold you rapt and charmed.

It is also the best place for seeing the gray old fabric itself, with
its ancient walls and towers of stone, its barbican, its ditch, its
gates, its keep, and the modern additions in brick and wood that have
grown up among the mediæval work—incongruities which still do not
disfigure. On the east of the Tower a new road has been constructed as
an approach to the Tower Bridge. From this road another and quite a new
view can now be obtained of the Tower, which from this point reveals the
number and the grouping of its buildings. I have not seen represented
anywhere this new side of the Tower.

I have said nothing all this time of London’s new gate. Yet you have
been looking at it from London Bridge and from the terrace. It is the
new Water Gate, the noblest and most stately gate possessed by any city:
the gate called the Tower Bridge. It is, briefly, a bascule bridge—that
is, a bridge which parts in the middle, each arm being lifted up to open
the way, like many smaller bridges in Holland and elsewhere, for a ship
to pass through. It was begun in 1884 and finished in 1894.

It consists of two lofty towers communicating with either shore by a
suspension bridge. There is a permanent upper bridge across the space
between the towers, access being gained from the lower level by lifts.
The lower bridge, on the level of the two suspension bridges, is the
bascule, which is raised up by weights acting within the two towers, so
as to leave the space clear.

The width of the central span is 200 feet clear; the height of the
permanent bridge is 140 feet above high-water mark, and the lower bridge
is 29 feet when closed. The two great piers on which the towers are
built are 185 feet long and 70 feet wide; the side spans are 270 feet in
the clear.

The bascule may be described as a lever turning on a pivot; the shorter,
and therefore the heavier, end is within the Tower. The weight at the
end of the lever is a trifle, no more than 621 tons. That of the arm,
which is 100 feet long, is 424 tons. If you make a little calculation
you will find that the action of one side of the pivot very nearly
balances that of the other, with a slight advantage given to the longer
side. You are not perhaps interested in the construction of the bridge,
but you must own that there is no more splendid gate to a port and a
city to which thousands of ships resort than this noble structure. The
bascule swings up about seventeen times a day, but the ships are more
and more going into the docks below, so that the raising of the arms is
becoming every day a rarer event. It is a pleasant sight to see the huge
arms rising up as lightly as if they were two deal planks, which the
great ship passes through; then the arms fall back gently and
noiselessly, and the traffic goes on again, the whole interruption not
lasting more than a few minutes—less time than a block in Cheapside or
Broadway.


[Illustration: The Water-Gate of London: Tower Bridge from the East Side
of the Tower.]


Beyond the Tower are the docks named after St. Katherine. They are so
named to commemorate an ancient monument and a modern act of vandalism
more disgraceful perhaps than any of those many acts by which things
ancient and precious have been destroyed.

On the site of those docks there stood for seven hundred years one of
the most picturesque and venerable of City foundations. Here was the
House called that of St. Katherine by the Tower. Its first foundress was
Matilda, queen of Stephen. She created the place and endowed it, in the
spirit of the time, in grief for the loss of two children who died and
were buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate. Later on,
Eleanor, Queen of Edward I, added certain manors to the little
foundation, which had hitherto been but a cell to the Holy Trinity
Priory. She appointed and endowed a master, three brethren, three
sisters, the bedeswoman, and six poor clerks. Fifty years later, a third
Queen, Philippa, wife of Edward III, increased the endowments. We should
hardly expect this ancient foundation to survive to the present day, but
it has done so. The house was spared at the Dissolution; it was
considered peculiarly under the protection of the Queen consort, since
three queens in succession had endowed it. Therefore, while all the
other religious houses in the country were swept away this was spared;
it received a Protestant form; it was called a college, a free chapel, a
hospital for poor sisters. The warden, who received the greater part of
the endowment, became a dignified person appointed by the Queen, the
brethren and sisters remained, the bedeswoman remained, the endowment
for the six poor clerks was given to make a school. The precinct became
a Liberty, with its own officers, court, and prison; the buildings were
retired and quiet, in appearance like a peaceful college at Cambridge;
the warden’s house was commodious; the cloisters were a place for calm
and meditation; there was a most beautiful church filled with monuments;
there was a lovely garden, and there was a peaceful churchyard. Outside,
the precinct was anything but a place of peace or quiet. It was a tangle
of narrow lanes and mean streets; it was inhabited by sailors and sailor
folk. Among them were the descendants of those Frenchmen who had fled
across the Channel when Calais fell; one of the streets, called
Hangman’s Gains, commemorated the fact in its disguise, being originally
the Street of Hammes and Guisnes, two places within the English pale
round Calais.

This strange place, mediæval in its appearance and its customs,
continued untouched until some eighty years ago. Then—it is too terrible
to think of—they actually swept the whole place away; the venerable
church was destroyed; the picturesque cloister, with the old houses of
sisters and of brethren, the school, the ancient court house, the
churchyard, the gardens, the streets and cottages of the precinct, were
all destroyed, and in their place was constructed a dock. No dock was
wanted; there was plenty of room elsewhere; it was a needless, wanton
act of barbarity. They built a new church, a poor thing to look at,
beside Regent’s Park; they built six houses for the brethren and
sisters, a large house for the warden; they founded a school, they
called the new place St. Katherine’s. But it is not St. Katherine’s by
the Tower, and East London has lost the one single foundation it
possessed of antiquity; it has also lost the income, varying from
£10,000 to £14,000 a year, which belonged to this, its only religious
foundation.

In the modern chapel at Regent’s Park you may see the old monuments, the
carved tombs, the stalls, the pulpit, taken from the ancient church; it
is the putting of old wine into new bottles. Whenever I stand within
those walls there falls upon me the memory of the last service held in
the old church, when, amid the tears and lamentations of the people who
loved the venerable place, the last hymn was sung, the last prayer
offered, before the place was taken down.

Outside the docks begins the place they call Wapping. It used to be
Wapping in the Ouze, or Wapping on the Wall. I have spoken of the
embankment on the marsh. All along the river, all round the low coast of
Essex stands “The Wall,” the earthwork by which the river is kept from
overflowing these low grounds at high water. This wall, which was
constantly getting broken down, and cost great sums of money to restore,
was the cause of the first settlement of Wapping. It was in the reign of
Queen Elizabeth that people were encouraged to settle here, in order
that by building houses on and close to the wall this work would be
strengthened and maintained.

Stow says that about the year 1560 there were no houses here at all, but
that forty years later the place was occupied and thickly settled by
“seafaring men and tradesmen dealing in commodities for the supply of
shipping and shipmen.” If this had been all, there would have been no
harm done, but the place was outside the jurisdiction of the city, and
grave complaints were made that in all such suburbs a large trade was
carried on in the making and selling of counterfeit goods. The arm of
the law was apparently unable to act with the same vigor outside the
boundaries of the lord mayor’s authority. Therefore the honest craftsman
was encouraged by impunity to make counterfeit indigo, musk, saffron,
cochineal, wax, nutmegs, steel and other things. “But,” says Strype,
“they were bunglers in their business.” They took too many apprentices;
they kept them for too short a time, and their wares were bad, even
considered merely as counterfeits. The making of wooden nutmegs has
been, it will be seen, unjustly attributed to New England; it was in
vogue in East London so far back as the sixteenth century. The craftsmen
of the City petitioned James I. on the subject; a royal commission was
appointed who recommended that the City companies should receive an
extension of their power and should have control of the various trades
within a circle of five or six miles’ radius. Nothing, however, seems to
have come of the recommendation.

Before this petition, and even in the lifetime of Queen Elizabeth, there
was alarm about the growth of the suburbs; it was argued that there were
too many people already; they were too crowded; there were not enough
provisions for so many; if the plague came back there would be a
terrible mortality, and so on. Therefore orders were issued that no new
buildings should be erected within three miles of the City, and that not
more than one family should live in one house. Nothing could be wiser
than these ordinances. But nature is not always so wise as human
legislators. It is therefore credible that children went on being born;
that there continued to be marrying and giving in marriage; that the
population went on increasing; and, since one cannot, even in order to
obey a wise law, live in the open air, this beneficent law was set at
defiance; new houses were built in all the suburbs, and if a family
could not afford a house to itself it just did what it had always
done—took part of a house. In the face of these difficulties East London
began to create itself, and riverside London not only stretched out a
long arm upon the river wall, but threw out lanes and streets to the
north of the wall.

Not much of Wapping survives. The London docks cut out a huge cantle of
the parish; the place has since been still further curtailed by the
creation of a large recreation ground of the newest type. Some of the
remaining streets retain in their name the memory of the gardens and
fields of the early settlements; there is Wapping Wall, Green Bank, Rose
Lane, Crabtree Lane, Old Gravel Lane, Hermitage Street, Love Lane,—no
London suburb is complete without a Love Lane or a Lovers’
Walk,—Cinnamon Street: does this name recall the time of the wooden
nutmegs?


[Illustration: The Turn of the Tide on the Lower Thames.]


Let me, at this point, introduce you to Raine’s Charity. Did you know
that in our East London, as well as in the French village, we have our
Rosière? The excellent Raine, who flourished during the last century,
built and endowed a school for girls who were trained for domestic
service; he also left money for giving, once a year, a purse containing
a hundred golden sovereigns, upon her wedding day, to a girl coming from
his own school who could show four years’ domestic service with
unblemished character. On the occasion when I assisted at this function
there was observed—I do not think that the custom has since been
abolished—a quaint little ceremony. The wedding was held in the church
of St. George’s-in-the-East. This church, a massive structure of stone,
built a hundred and fifty years ago, stands a little off a certain
famous street once called Ratcliffe Highway. They have changed its name,
and shamed it into better ways. When the marriage was celebrated the
church was crowded with all the girls, children, and women of the
quarter. This spontaneous tribute to the domestic virtues, in a place of
which so many cruel things have been alleged, caused a glow in the bosom
of the stranger. Indeed, it was a curious spectacle, this intense
interest in the reward of the Rosière. The women crowded the seats and
filled the galleries; they thronged the great stone porch; they made a
lane outside for the passage of the bridal party; they whispered
eagerly, without the least sign of scoffing. When the bride, in her
white dress, walked through them they gasped, they trembled, the tears
came into their eyes. What did they mean—those tears?

After the service the clergyman, with the vestrymen, the bridal party,
and the invited guests, marched in procession from the church through
the broad churchyard at the back to the vestry hall. With the procession
walked the church choir in their surplices. Arrived at the vestry hall,
the choir sang an anthem composed in the last century especially for
this occasion. The rector of St. George’s then delivered a short
oration, congratulating the bride and exhorting the bridegroom; he then
placed in the hands of the bridegroom an old-fashioned, long silk purse
containing fifty sovereigns at each end. This done, cake and wine were
passed round, and we drank to the health of the bride and her
bridegroom. The bride, I remember, was a blushing, rosy maiden of two
and twenty or so; it was a great day for her,—the one day of all her
life,—but she carried herself with a becoming modesty; the bridegroom, a
goodly youth, about the same age, was proposing, we understood,
something creditable, something superior, in the profession of carter or
carman. It is more than ten years ago. I hope that the gift of the
incomparable Raine—the anthem said that he was incomparable—has brought
good luck to this London Rosière and her bridegroom.

The church of St. George’s-in-the-East stands, as I have said, beside
the once infamous street called the Ratcliffe Highway. It was formerly
the home of Mercantile Jack when his ship was paid off. Here, where
every other house was a drinking den, where there was not the slightest
attempt to preserve even a show of deference to respectability, Jack and
his friends drank and sang and danced and fought. Portugal Jack and
Italy Jack and Lascar Jack have always been very handy with their
knives, while no one interfered, and the police could only walk about in
little companies of three and four. Within these houses, these windows,
these doors, their fronts stained and discolored like a drunkard’s face,
there lay men stark and dead after one of these affrays—the river would
be their churchyard; there lay men sick unto death, with no one to look
after them; and all the time, day and night, the noise of the revelry
went on—for what matter a few more sick or dead? The fiddler kept it up,
Jack footed it, one Jack after the other, heel and toe with folded arms,
to the sailors’ hornpipe; there were girls who could dance him down,
there was delectable singing, and the individual thirst was like unto
the thirst of Gargantua.

The street, I say, is changed; it has now assumed a countenance of
respectability, though it has not yet arrived at the full rigors, so to
speak, of virtue. Still the fiddle may be heard from the frequent public
house; still Mercantile Jack keeps it up, heel and toe, while his money
lasts; still there are harmonic evenings and festive days, but there are
changes; one may frequently, such is the degeneracy, walk down the
street, now called St. George’s, without seeing a single fight, without
being hustled or assaulted, without coming across a man too drunk to
lift himself from the kerb. It is a lively, cheerful street, with points
which an artist might find picturesque; it is growing in respectability,
but it is not yet by any means so clean as it might be, and there are
fragrances and perfumes lingering about its open doors and courts which
other parts of London will not admit within their boundaries.

There are two squares lying north of this street; in one of them is the
Swedish church, where, on a Sunday morning, you may see rows of
light-haired, blue-eyed mariners listening to the sermon in their own
tongue. In a corner, if you look about, you may come upon the quaintest
little Jewish settlement you can possibly imagine; it is an almshouse,
with a synagogue and all complete; if you are lucky you will find one of
the old bedesmen to show you the place. St. George’s Street, also,
rejoices in a large public garden; no street ever wanted one so badly;
it is made out of the great churchyard, where dead sailors and dead
bargemen and dead roysterers lie by the hundred thousand. And one must
never forget Jamrack’s. This world-wide merchant imports wild beasts; in
his place—call it not shop or warehouse—you will find pumas and wildcats
of all kinds, jackals, foxes, wolves, and wolverines. It is a veritable
Ark of Noah.

In the very heart of Wapping stands a group of early eighteenth century
buildings, with which every right-minded visitor straightway falls in
love; they consist of schools and a church; to these may be added the
churchyard—I suppose we may say that a churchyard is built, when it is
full of tombs. This sacred area is separated from the church by the
road; it is surrounded by an iron railing, and within there is a little
coppice of lilac, laburnum, and other shrubs and trees which have grown
up between the tombs, so that in the spring and summer the monuments
become half-revealed and half-concealed; the sunshine, falling on them,
quivering and shifting through the light leaves and blossoms, glorifies
the memorials of these dead mariners. The schools are adorned with
wooden effigies of boy and girl—stiff and formal in their ancient garb;
the church is not without a quiet dignity of its own, such a dignity as
I have observed in the simple meeting-house of an American town. In some
unexplained manner it seems exactly the sort of church which should have
been built for captains, mates, quartermasters, and bo’s’uns of the
mercantile marine in the days when captains wore full wigs and
waistcoats down to their knees. The master boat-builder and master
craftsman, in all the arts and mysteries pertaining to ships and boats,
their provision and their gear, were also admitted within these holy
walls. The church seems to have been built only for persons of
authority; nothing under the rank of quartermaster would sit within
these dignified walls. You can see the tombs of former congregations;
they are solid piles of stone, signifying rank in the mercantile marine.
The tombs are in the churchyard around the church, and in the churchyard
on the other side of the road. As you look upon the old-fashioned
church, this Georgian church, time runs back; the ancient days return:
there stands in the pulpit the clergyman, in his full wig, reading his
learned and doctrinal discourse in a full, rich monotone; below him sit
the captains and the mates and the quartermasters, with them the master
craftsman, all with wigs; the three-cornered hat is hanging on the door
of the high pew; for better concentration of thought, the eyes of the
honest gentlemen are closed. The ladies, however, sit upright, conscious
of the Sunday best; besides, one might, in falling asleep, derange the
nice balance of the “head.” When the sermon is over they all walk home
in neighborly conversation to the Sunday dinner and the after-dinner
bottle of port. The tombs in the churchyard belong to the time when a
part of Wapping was occupied by this better class, which has long since
vanished, though one or two of the houses remain. Of the baser sort who
crowded all the lanes I have spoken already. They did not go to church;
always on Sunday the doors stood wide open to them if they would come
in, but they did not accept the invitation; they stayed outside; the
church received them three times—for the christening, for the wedding,
for the burial; whatever their lives have been, the church receives all
alike for the funeral service, and asks no questions. After this brief
term of yielding to all temptations, after their sprightly course along
the primrose path, they are promised, if in the coffin one can hear, a
sure and certain hope.


[Illustration: Coming Up the Lower Thames with the Tide.]


Here are Wapping Old Stairs. Come with me through the narrow court and
stand upon the stairs leading down to the river. They are now rickety
old steps and deserted. Time was when the sailors landed here when they
returned from a voyage; then their sweethearts ran down the steps to
meet them.

           “Your Polly has never been faithless, she swears,
            Since last year we parted on Wapping Old Stairs.”

And here, when Polly had spent all his money for him, Jack hugged her to
his manly bosom before going aboard again. Greeting and farewell took
place in the presence of a theater full of spectators. They were the
watermen who lay off the stairs by dozens waiting for a fare, at the
time when the Thames was the main highway of the City. The stairs were
noisy and full of life. Polly herself had plenty of repartee in reply to
the gentle badinage of the young watermen; her Tom had rivals among
them. When he came home the welcome began with a fight with one or other
of these rivals. The stairs are silent now; a boat or two, mostly
without any one in it, lies despondently alongside the stairs or in the
mud at low tide.

Sometimes the boats pushed off with intent to fish; the river was full
of fish, though there are now none left; there were all kinds of fish
that swim, including salmon; the fishery of the Thames is responsible
for more rules and ordinances than any other industry of London. The
boatmen were learned in the times and seasons of the fish. For instance,
they could tell by the look of the river when a shoal of roach was
coming up stream; at such times they took up passengers who would go
a-fishing, and landed them on the sterlings—the projecting piers of
London Bridge—where they stood angling for the fish all day long with
rod and line.

Next to the Wapping Old Stairs is Execution Dock. This was the place
where sailors were hanged and all criminals sentenced for offenses
committed on the water; they were hanged at low tide on the foreshore,
and they were kept hanging until three high tides had flowed over their
bodies—an example and an admonition to the sailors on board the passing
ships. Among the many hangings at this doleful spot is remembered one
which was more remarkable than the others. It was conducted with the
usual formalities; the prisoner was conveyed to the spot in a cart
beside his own coffin, while the ordinary sat beside him and exhorted
him. He wore the customary white nightcap and carried a prayer-book in
one hand, while a nosegay was stuck in his bosom; he preserved a stolid
indifference to the exhortations; he did not change color when the cart
arrived, but it was remembered afterward that he glanced round him
quickly; they carried him to the fatal beam and they hanged him up. Now,
if you come to think of it, as the spot had to be approached by a narrow
lane and by a narrow flight of steps, while the gallows stood in the mud
of the foreshore, the number of guards could not have been many. On this
occasion, no sooner was the man turned off than a boat’s company of
sailors, armed with bludgeons, appeared most unexpectedly, rushed upon
the constables, knocked down the hangman, hustled the chaplain,
overthrew the sheriff’s officers, cut down the man, carried him off,
threw him into a boat, and were away and in midstream, going down
swiftly with the current before the officers understood what was going
on.

When they picked themselves up they gazed stupidly at the gallows with
the rope still dangling—where was the man? He was in the boat and it was
already a good way down the river, and by that kind of accident which
often happened at that time when the arrangements of the executive were
upset, there was not a single wherry within sight or within hail.

Then the ordinary closed his book and pulled his cassock straight; the
hangman sadly removed the rope, the constables looked after the
vanishing boat, and there was nothing to be done but just to return home
again. As for the man, that hanging was never completed and those
rescuers were never discovered.

As an illustration of the solitude of this place, before its settlement
under Queen Elizabeth, one observes that there was a field called
Hangman’s Acre, situated more than a quarter of a mile from the river,
where in the year 1440 certain murderers and pirates were hanged in
chains upon a gallows set on rising ground, so that they should be seen
by the sailors in the ships going up and down the river. There was not
therefore at that time a single house to obstruct this admonitory
spectacle.

The “hamlet” of Shadwell is only a continuation of St. George’s or
Ratcliffe Highway; its churchyard is converted into a lovely garden, one
of the many gardens which were once burial grounds; the people sit about
in the shade or in the sun; along the south wall is a terrace commanding
a cheerful view of the London docks, with their shipping. There is a
fish-market here, the only public institution of Shadwell; there are old
houses, which we may look at and perhaps represent, but there is little
about its people that distinguishes them from the folk on either hand.


[Illustration: Off Shadwell.]


In the year 1671 the church was built; Shadwell was already a place with
a large population, and the church was built in order to minister to
their spiritual wants. What could be better? But you shall learn from
one example how the best intentions were frustrated and how the
riverside folk were suffered to go from bad to worse, despite the
creation of the parish and the erection of the church. The first rector
was a nephew of that great divine and philosopher, Bishop Butler. He was
so much delighted with the prospect of living and working among this
rude and ignorant folk, he was so filled and penetrated with the spirit
of humanity and the principles of his religion, that his first sermon
was on the text, “Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in
the tents of Kedar!” This good man, however, received permission from
the bishop to live in Norfolk Street, Strand, about three miles from his
church. And so, with a non-resident clergy, with no schools, with no
restraints of example or precept, with little interference from the law,
what wonder if the people reeled blindly down the slopes that lead to
death and destruction?

The name of Ratcliffe or Redcliff marks a spot where the low cliff
which formerly rose up from the marsh curved southward for a space and
then receded. It is a “hamlet” which at first offers little to
interest or to instruct. It consists of mean and dingy streets—there
is not a single street which is not mean and dirty; none of the houses
are old; none are picturesque in the least; they are rickety, dirty,
shabby, without one redeeming feature; there is a church, but it is
not stately like St. George’s-in-the-East, nor venerable like that of
Stepney; it is unlovely; there are “stairs” to the river and they are
rickety; there are warehouses which contain nothing and are tumbling
down; there are public houses which do not pretend to be bright and
attractive—low-browed, dirty dens, which reek of bad beer and bad gin.
Yet the place, when you linger in it and talk about it to the clergy
and the ladies who work for it, is full of interest. For it is a
quarter entirely occupied by the hand-to-mouth laborer; the people
live in tenements; it is thought luxury to have two rooms; there are
eight thousand of them, three quarters being Irish; in the whole
parish there is not a single person of what we call respectability,
except two or three clergymen and half a dozen ladies; there are no
good shops, there are no doctors or lawyers, there is not even a
newsvender, for nobody in Ratcliffe reads a newspaper. But the place
swarms with humanity; the children play by thousands in the gutters:
and on the door-steps the wives and mothers sit all day long and in
all weathers, carrying on a perpetual parliament of grievance. Here
once—I know not when—stood Ratcliffe Cross, and the site of the
cross—removed, I know not when—was one of the spots where, in 1837,
Queen Victoria was proclaimed. Why the young Queen should have been
proclaimed at Ratcliffe Cross I have never been able to discover. I
have asked the question of many persons and many books, but I can find
no answer. The oldest inhabitant knows nothing about it; none of the
books can tell me if the accession of the Queen’s predecessors was
also proclaimed by ancient custom at Ratcliffe Cross. Unfortunately,
it is now extremely difficult to find persons who remember the
accession of the Queen, not to speak of that of William IV.

Ratcliffe has other historical memories. Here stood the hall of the
Shipwrights’ Company. This was a very ancient body; it existed as the
fraternity of St. Simon and St. Jude from time immemorial; the
Shipwrights’ Company formerly had docks and building yards on the south
of the Thames; then they moved their hall to this place on the north
bank, and seem to have given up their building yards.

Here was a school, founded and maintained by the Coopers’ Company, where
Lancelot Andrewes, the learned bishop, was educated.


[Illustration: Ratcliffe-Cross Stairs.]


There is another historical note concerning Ratcliffe. It belongs to the
year 1553. It was in that year that Admiral Sir Hugh Willoughby embarked
on that voyage of discovery from which he was destined never to return.
He was sent out on a roving commission to “discover regions, dominions,
islands, and places unknown,” and he began by an attempt to discover the
northeast passage. Remember that geographers knew nothing in those days
of the extent of Siberia. Willoughby had three ships; their tonnage was,
respectively, 160 tons, 120, and 90. His crews consisted of 50, 35, and
27 men, respectively. With such tiny craft they put forth boldly to
brave unknown Arctic seas. It was from Ratcliffe Stairs that Willoughby
went on board on May 10, 1553. Half a mile down the river the flotilla
passed Greenwich Palace, where the young King, Edward VI, was residing.
It was within a few weeks of his death; consumption had laid him low.
When the ships passed the palace they “dressed” with flags and
streamers, they fired cannons of salute, they blew their trumpets. The
young King was brought out to see them pass. It was his last appearance
in public; on July 6th he was dead. As for Willoughby, he parted with
one of his ships, and after being tossed about off the coast of Lapland
he resolved to winter at the mouth of the river Argina. Here, in the
following spring, he was found with his companions, all dead and frozen.
A strange story of English enterprise to be connected with these forlorn
and ramshackle stairs.

Here is another story about Ratcliffe. In a street by the river, beside
the stairs, are two or three big ruinous warehouses, mostly deserted.
One of these has a double front, the left side representing a private
house, the right a warehouse. What was stored in the warehouse I know
not; the whole riverside is lined with warehouses and stores. The place
is now for a third time deserted, and stands with broken windows. It has
been deserted, so far as the original purpose was concerned, for many
years. Some thirty years ago a young medical man began to live and to
practise in Ratcliffe. He became presently aware that the death-rate
among the children was frightful. There was no hospital nearer than the
London Hospital in the Whitechapel Road, and that was two miles away;
there were no nurses to be obtained and there were no appliances; if a
child was taken ill it had to lie in the one room occupied by the whole
family, without ventilation, without proper food, without skilled care,
without medicines. Therefore in most cases of illness the child died.

He found this rickety old warehouse empty; he thought that he would do
what he could, being quite a poor man, to make a hospital for children.
He did so; with his slender funds he got a few beds and quickly filled
them. He was physician, surgeon, dispenser, druggist, everything; his
wife was nurse and everything else. Together these two devoted people
started their hospital. Well, it grew; it became known; money began to
come in; other doctors and nurses were taken on; all the rooms, there
were many, were filled; the children began to recover. Presently the
house became so prosperous that it was resolved to build a separate
Children’s Hospital, which was done, and you may see it—a noble place.
But for the founder this crown of his labors came too late. The work
killed him before the new hospital was completed; one of the wards, the
Heckford Ward, is named after the man who gave all his strength, all his
mind, all his knowledge, all his thoughts; who gave his life and his
death; who gave himself, wholly and ungrudgingly, to the children. His
patients recovered, but their physician died. He gave his own life to
stay the hand of death.

Then the house stood empty for a time; it was presently taken over by
the vicar of the parish and made into a playhouse for the little
children in the winter after school hours, from four to seven; I have
told you how the children swarm in the Ratcliffe streets. After seven
the house was converted into a club for the rough riverside lads, where
they could box and play single stick and subdue the devil in them, and
so presently could sit down and play games and listen to reading and
keep out of mischief. But the house is condemned; it is really too
ramshackle; it is empty again, and is now to be pulled down.

There is still another story whose scene is laid at Ratcliffe. There is
a house beside the church which is now the vicarage. It is a square,
solid house, built about the end of the seventeenth century. It is
remarkable for a dining-room whose walls are painted with Italian
landscapes. The story is that there lived here, early in the eighteenth
century, a merchant who rode into London every day, leaving his only
daughter behind. He desired to decorate his house with wall-paintings,
and engaged a young Italian to stay in the house and to paint all day.
Presently he made the not unusual discovery that the Italian and his
daughter had fallen in love with each other. He knew what was due to his
position as a City merchant, and did what was proper for the
occasion—that is to say, he ordered the young man to get out of the
house in half an hour. The artist obeyed, so far as to mount the stairs
to his own room. Here, however, he stopped, and when the angry parent
climbed the stairs after the expiration of the half hour to know why he
was not gone, he found the young lover, dead, hanging to the canopy of
the bed. His ghost was long believed to haunt the house, and was only
finally laid, after troops of servants had fled shrieking, when the wife
of the vicar sat up all night by herself in the haunted chamber, and
testified that she had neither seen nor heard anything, and was quite
willing to sleep in the room. That disgusted the ghost, who went away of
his own accord. I wish I could show you one room in the house. It was
the old powdering-room. When your wig had been properly curled and
combed you threw a towel or dressing-gown over your shoulders and sat in
this little room, with your back to the door. Now, the door had a
sliding panel, and the barber on the other side was provided with the
instrument which blew the white powder through the panel upon the wig.
The operation finished, you arose, slipped off the dressing-gown and
descended to your coach with all the dignity of a gold-laced hat, a wig
white as the driven snow, lace ruffles, a lace tie, and a black velvet
coat—if you were a merchant—with gold buttons, and white silk stockings.
A beautiful time it was for those who could afford the dignity and the
splendor which made it beautiful. For those who could not— Humph! Not
quite so beautiful a time.

After Ratcliffe we pass into Limehouse. It was at Limehouse Hole that
Rogue Riderhood lived.

The place is more marine than Wapping; the public houses have a look, an
air, a something that suggests the sea; the shops are conducted for the
wants of the merchantmen; the houses are old and picturesquely dirty;
the streets are narrow; one may walk about these streets for a whole
afternoon, and find something to observe in every one, either a shop
full of queer things or a public house full of strange men, or a house
that speaks of other days—of crimps, for instance, and of press gangs,
and of encounters in the streets; there are ancient docks used for the
repair of wooden sailing ships; there are places where they build
barges; a little inland you may see the famous church of Limehouse, with
its lofty steeple; it was only built in 1730. Before that time there was
no church at Limehouse; since that time nobody has gone to church at
Limehouse, speaking of the true natives, the riverside folk, not of
those who dwell respectably in the West India Dock Road. It is, however,
doubtless a great advantage and benefit to a sea-going population to
have a churchyard to be buried in.


[Illustration: Limehouse Basin and Church.]


At Limehouse the river suddenly bends to the south, and then again to
the north, making a loop within which lies a peninsula. This is a very
curious place. It occupies an area of a mile and a half from north to
south, and about a mile from east to west. The place was formerly a dead
level, lower than the river at high tide, and therefore a broad tidal
marsh; it was, in fact, part of the vast marsh of which I have already
spoken, now reclaimed, lying along the north bank of the river. This
marsh was dotted over with little eyots or islets, sometimes swept away
by the tide, then forming again, composed of rushes, living and dead,
the rank grasses of the marsh, and sticks and string and leaves carried
among the reeds to form a convenient and secure place where the wild
birds could make their nests. When the river wall was built the marsh
became a broad field of rich pasture, in which sheep were believed to
fatten better than in any other part of England. Until recently it had
no inhabitants; probably the air at night was malarious, and the sheep
wanted no one to look after them; the river wall was adorned with half a
dozen windmills; dead men, hanging in chains, preached silent sermons by
their dolorous example to the sailors of the passing craft; there was
instituted at some time or other before the seventeenth century a ferry
between its southern point and Greenwich, a road to meet the ferry
running north through the island. Pepys crossed once by this ferry in
order to attend a wedding. It was in the plague year, when one would
have thought weddings were not common and wedding festivities dangerous
things. But there was still marrying and giving in marriage. He was with
Sir George and Lady Carteret; they got across from Deptford in a boat,
but found that their coach, which ought to have met them, had not come
over by ferry, the tide having fallen too low. “I being in my new
colored silk suit and coat trimmed with gold buttons and gold broad-lace
round my hands, very rich and fine, ... so we were fain to stay there in
the unlucky Isle of Dogs, in a chill place, the morning cool, the wind
fresh, to our great discontent.” Why does he call the Isle of Dogs
unlucky?

In the middle of the island stood, all by itself, a little chapel.
Nothing is known about its origin. I am inclined to think that, like
many other chapels built on this river wall, on town walls, and on
bridges, it was intended to protect the wall by prayers and masses, sung
or said “with intention.” We have already found a hermitage by, or on,
the wall at Wapping, another place of prayer for the maintenance of this
important work.


[Illustration: The Thames Side at Limehouse.]


Why this peninsula was called the Isle of Dogs no one knows. One learned
antiquary says that the King kept his hounds there when he stayed at
Greenwich Palace. Perhaps. But the antiquary produces no proof that the
royal kennels were ever set up here, and the person who trusts a little
to common sense asks why the King should have sent his hounds across a
broad and rapid river by a dangerous ferry when he had the whole of
Greenwich Park and Black Heath in which to build his kennels. “Drowned
dogs,” suggests another, but doubtfully. No. I have never heard of
drowned dogs being washed ashore in any number, either here or
elsewhere. Drowned dogs, it is certain, were never an appreciable factor
in the flotsam and jetsam of the Thames. “Not the Isle of Dogs,” says
another, “but the Isle of Ducks. Ducks, you see, from the wild ducks
which formerly—” No; when the wall was built, which was probably in the
Roman time, the wild ducks vanished, and as no tradition of any kind can
be traced among the Saxons concerning the Roman occupation they never
heard of these ducks. For my own part, I have no suggestion to offer,
except a vague suspicion that, as Pepys thought, there was a tradition
of bad luck attaching in some form to the place, which was named
accordingly. If a man on the downward path is said to be going to the
dogs, a place considered as unlucky might very well have been called the
Isle of Dogs. Now a level marsh without any inhabitants and adorned by
gibbets and dangling dead bodies would certainly not be considered a
lucky place. You must not expect anything in the place of the least
antiquity. Yet a walk round the Isle of Dogs is full of interest. To
begin with, the streets are wide and clean; the houses are all small,
built for working-men; there are no houses of the better sort at all;
the children swarm, and are healthy, well fed, and rosy; the shops are
chiefly those of provisions and cheap clothing. All round the shore
there runs an unbroken succession of factories. These factories support
the thousands of working-men who form the population of the Isle of
Dogs. All kinds of things are made, stored, received, and distributed in
the factories of this industrial island; many of them are things which
require to be carried on outside a crowded town, such as oil storage,
oil, paint, color, and varnish, works; disinfectant fluid works,
boiler-makers, lubricating-oil works; there are foundries of brass and
iron, lead-smelting works, copper-depositing works, antimony and
gold-ore works. All kinds of things wanted for ships are made
here—cisterns and tanks, casks, steering-gear, tarpaulin, wire rope,
sails, oars, blocks, and masts; there are yards for building ships,
barges, and boats.

Of public buildings there are few: two churches and one or two chapels.
There are Board-schools and church schools; there are no places of
amusement, but posters indicate that theaters and music-halls are within
reach. On the south of the island the London County Council has erected
a most lovely garden. It is four or five acres in extent; there are
lawns, trees, and flower-beds; there is a stately terrace running along
the river; there are seats dotted about, and on certain evenings in the
summer a band plays. Above all, there is the view across the river. All
day long that pageant, of which we have already spoken, goes up and
down, never ending; the ships follow each other—great ships, small
ships, splendid ships, mean ships; the noisy little tugs plow their way,
pulling after them a long string of lighters heavily laden; the
children, peeping through the iron railings, know all the ships, where
they come from and to what “line” they belong. Beyond the river is
Greenwich Hospital, once a splendid monument of the nation’s gratitude
to her old sailors, now a shameful monument of the nation’s
thanklessness. Would any other country so trample upon sentiment as to
take away their hospital from the old sailors, to whom it belonged and
to whom it had been given? The old pensioners are gone, and the people
have lost the education in patriotism which the sight and discourse of
these veterans once afforded them.

It is needless to say that there is not a single book-shop in the Isle
of Dogs; we do not expect a book-shop anywhere in East London; there are
also very few news-agents. I saw one, the whole of whose window was
tastefully decorated with pictures from the “Illustrated Police Budget.”
These illustrations are blood-curdling: a lady bites another lady, such
is the extremity of her wrath; a burglar enters a bedroom at night; a
man with a revolver shows what revenge and jealousy can dare and do, and
so on. I am sure that the people read other things; the “Police Budget”
is not their only paper, but I confess that this was the only evidence
of their favorite reading which I was able to discover when I was last
on the island. There are no slums, I believe, on the Isle of Dogs. I
have never seen any Hooligans, Larrikins, or any of that tribe—perhaps
because they were all engaged in work, the harder the better. You will
not see any drunken men, as a rule, nor any beggars, nor any signs of
misery. We may conclude that the Isle of Dogs contains an industrious
and prosperous population; the air that they breathe, when the fresh
breeze that comes up with the tide has dropped, is perhaps too heavily
charged with the varied fragrance of the multitudinous works, with the
noise of various industries: as for the hammering of hammers, the
grinding and blowing and whirring of engines, to these one gets
accustomed. It is a place where one might deliberately choose to be
born, because, apart from the general well-being of the people and the
healthfulness of the air, there is a spirit of enterprise imbibed by
every boy who grows up in this admirable island. It is engendered by the
universal presence of the sailor and the ship; wherever the sailor and
the ship are found there springs up naturally in every child the spirit
of adventure.

A large part of the island is occupied by docks—the West India docks,
the Blackwall Basin, and the Millwall Dock. We need not enter into the
statistics of the tonnage and the trade; it is sufficient to remember
that the docks are always receiving ships, and that the sailors are
always getting leave to go ashore, and that some of them have their
wives and families living in the Isle of Dogs. That would be in itself
sufficient to give this suburb a marine flavor; but think what it means
for a boy to live in a place where at every point his eyes rest upon a
forest of masts, where he is always watching the great ships as they
work out of dock or creep slowly in; think what it means when, in
addition to living beside these great receiving docks, he can look
through doors half open and see the old-fashioned repairing dock, with
the wooden sailing ship shored up and the men working at her ribs, while
her battered old figurehead and her bowsprit stick out over the wall of
the dock and over the street itself. The Tritons and the Oceanides, the
spirits of the rolling sea, open their arms with invitation to such a
boy. “Come,” they say, “thou too shalt be a sailor, it is thy happy
fate; come with a joyful heart; we know the place, deep down among the
tiny shells of ocean, where thou shalt lie, but not till after many
years. Come. It is the sweetest life of any; there is no care or cark
for money; there is no struggle on the waves for casual work and for
bare food; no foul diseases lurk on the broad Atlantic; the wind of the
sea is pure and healthy, the fo’c’sle is cheerful, and the wage is
good.” And so he goes, this favorite of fortune.

For some strange reason the gates of the docks are always bright and
green in spring and summer with trees and Virginia creepers, which are
planted at the entrance and grow over the lodge. Within, flower-beds are
visible. Outside, the cottages for the dock people also have bright and
pleasant little front gardens. To the forest of masts, to the bowsprit
sticking out over the street, to the ships that are warped in and out
the dock, add the pleasing touch of the trees and flowers and the
creepers before we leave the Isle of Dogs—that “unlucky” isle, as Pepys
called it.


[Illustration: Greenwich Hospital.]


The last of the East London riverside hamlets is Blackwall. Where
Blackwall begins no one knows. Poplar Station is in the middle of the
place, included in the map within the letters which spell Blackwall. And
where are the houses of Blackwall? It is covered entirely with docks.
There are the East India docks and the Poplar docks and the basin. There
are also half a dozen of the little old repairing docks left, and there
is a railway station with a terrace looking out upon the river; there is
a street running east, and another running north. Both streets are
stopped by Bow Creek; the aspect of both causes the visitor to glance
nervously about him for a protecting policeman. And here, as regards the
riverside, we may stop. Beyond Bow Creek we are outside the limits of
London. There follow many more former hamlets—West Ham, East Ham,
Canning Town, Silverton, and others—now towns. These places, for us,
must remain names.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   IV

                                THE WALL



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   IV

                                THE WALL


I DO not mean the old wall of London, that which was built by the
Romans, was rebuilt by Alfred, was repaired and maintained at great cost
until the sixteenth century, when it began to be neglected, as it was no
longer of any use in the defense of the City. For two hundred years more
the gates still stood, but the wall was pulled down and built upon, no
one interfering. That wall is gone, save for fragments here and there. I
speak of another wall, and one of even greater importance.

No one knows when this other wall was first built. It was so early that
all record of its building has been lost. It is the wall by which the
low-lying marshes of the Thames, once overflowed by every high tide,
were protected from the river and converted into pastures and
meadow-land and plow-land. It is the wall which runs all along the north
bank of the river and is carried round the marshy Essex shores and round
those Essex islands which were once broad expanses of mud at low tide,
and at high tide shallow and useless stretches of water. It protects
also the south bank wherever the marsh prevails. It has been a work of
the highest importance, to London first, and to the country next. It has
converted a vast malarious belt of land into a fertile country, and it
has made East London possible, because a great part of East London is
built upon the reclaimed marsh, now drained and dry. In order to
understand what the wall means, what it is, what it has done, and what
it is doing, we must get beyond the houses and consider it as it runs
along the riverside, with fields on the left hand and the flowing water
many feet higher than the fields on the right.

In order to get at the wall, then, we must take the train to Barking,
about eight miles from London Bridge. This ancient village, once the
seat of a rich nunnery, some remains of which you may still see there,
is on the little river Roding; we walk down its banks to its confluence
with the Thames. There, after suffering a while from the fumes of
certain chemical works, we find ourselves on the wall, with no houses
before us; we leave the works behind us, and we step out upon the most
curious walk that one may find within the four seas that encompass our
island.

No one ever walks upon this wall; once beyond the chemical works we are
in the most lonely spot in the whole of England; no one is curious about
it; no one seems to know that this remarkable construction, extending
for about a hundred and fifty miles, even exists; you will see no one in
the meadows that lie protected by the wall; you may walk mile after mile
along it in a solitude most strange and most mysterious. Even the
steamer which works her noisy way up the broad river, even the barge
with its brown sail, crawling slowly up the stream with the flowing
tide, does not destroy the sense of silence or that of solitude. We seem
not to hear the screw of the steamer or even the scream of the siren;
overhead the lark sings; there are no other birds visible about the
treeless fields; the tinkle of a sheep-bell reminds one of Dartmoor and
its silent hillsides.

Presently there falls upon the pilgrim a strange feeling of mystery. The
wall belongs to all the centuries which have known London; it is a part
of the dead past; it speaks to him of things that have been; it reminds
him of the Vikings and the Danes when they came sweeping up the river in
their long, light ships, the shields hanging outside, the fair-haired,
blue-eyed fighting men thirsting for the joy of battle; they are on
their way to besiege London; they will pull down part of the bridge, but
they will not take the City. The fresh breeze that follows with the
flood reminds him of the pageant and procession, the splendid pageant,
the never-ending procession, of the trade which is the strength and the
pride and the wealth of London, which has been passing before this wall
for all these centuries, and always, as it passes now, unseen and
unregarded, because no one ever stands upon the wall to see it.

A strange, ghostly place. If one were to tell of a murder, this would be
a fitting place for the crime. Perhaps, however, it might be difficult
to persuade his victim to accompany him. The murderer would choose the
time between the passing of two ships; no one could possibly see him; he
would conduct his victim along the wall, conversing pleasantly, till the
favorable moment arrived. The deed accomplished, he would leave the wall
and strike across the fields till he found a path leading to the haunts
of man. Any secret or forbidden thing might be conveniently transacted
on the wall; it would be a perfectly safe place for the conjuration of
conspirators and the concoction of their plans, or it would be a place
to hide a stolen treasure, or a place where a hunted man could find
refuge.

Let us stand still for a moment and look around. The wall is about
fifteen feet high; at the base it is perhaps thirty feet wide; the sides
slope toward the path on the top, which is about seven feet across; the
outside is faced with stone; the inside is turfed. Looking south the
river runs at our feet, the broad and noble river which carries to the
port of London treasures from the uttermost ends of the earth and sends
out other treasures in exchange. There are many rivers in the world
which are longer and broader,—for instance, the Danube and the Rhine,
even the Oronoco and the Amazon,—but if we consider the country through
which the river flows, the wealth which it creates, the wealth which it
distributes, the long history of the Thames, then, surely, it is the
greatest of all rivers. As we stand over it we mark how its waters are
stirred into little waves by the fresh breeze which never fails with the
flood of the tide; how the sun lights up the current rolling upward in
full stream, so that we think of strong manhood resolved and purposed;
it is not for nothing that the tide rolls up the stream. Then we mark
the ships that pass, ships of all kinds, great and small; the ships and
the barges, the fishing smacks and the coasters, some that sail and some
that steam; the heavy timber ship from the Baltic, the Newcastle
collier, the huge liner; they pass in succession along the broad
highway, one after the other. This splendid pageant of London trade is
daily offered for the admiration of those upon the wall. But it is a
procession with no spectators; day after day it passes unregarded, for
no one walks upon the wall. And if a stray traveler stands to look on,
the pageant presently becomes a thing of the imagination, a dream, an
effect of animated photographs.

On the land side lie the fields which have been rescued from this tidal
flow; they are obviously below the level of the river; one understands,
looking across them, how the river ran of old over these flats, making
vast lagoons at high tide. It is useful to see the fact recorded in a
book or on a map; but here one sees that it really must have been so.
Gradually, as one passes along the wall and looks landward, the history
of the reclamation of the marsh unfolds itself; we see in places, here
and there, low mounds, which are lines of former embankments; these are
not all parallel with the river; they are thrust forward, protected by
banks at the side, small pieces rescued by some dead and gone farmer,
who was rewarded by having as his own, with no rent to pay, the land he
had snatched from the tide. Perhaps it was long before rent was thought
of; perhaps it was easier to build the bank and to take a slip of the
foreshore and the marsh, with its black and fertile soil, than it was to
cut down the trees in the forest and to clear the land; perhaps these
embankments were constructed by the lake dwellers, who made their round
huts upon piles driven into the mud, and after many thousands of years
made the discovery that it was better to be dry than wet, and better to
have no marsh fevers to face than to grow inured to them.

When was this wall built? How long has it been standing? Is it the first
original wall? Have there been rebuildings? Learned antiquaries have
proved that long before the advent of the Romans the south of Britain
was occupied by people who had learned such civilization as Gauls had to
teach them. This was no small advance, as you would acknowledge if you
looked into the subject; they knew many arts; they already had many
wants; they had arrived at a certain standard of comfort; they carried
on an extensive trade.

How long ago? It is quite impossible to answer that question. But there
are other facts ascertained. Let us sum them up in order.

1. South Britain, at least, and probably the Midland as well, had the
same religion, the same arts, the same customs, the same forms of
society, as Gaul.

2. There was an extensive trade between Britain and Gaul—of what
antiquity no one knows.

3. When we first hear of London it was a place of resort for many
foreign merchants.

4. Tessellated pavements of Roman date have been found in Southwark at a
level lower than that of the river.

5. Tacitus made Galgacus, the British leader, indignant because the
Britons were compelled by the Romans to expend their strength and labor
on fencing off woods and marshes.

6. Roman buildings are found behind the wall in Essex. To this point I
will return immediately.

7. No settlement or building or cultivation whatever was possible beside
the river anywhere near London until the wall had been built.

8. Are we to believe that a city possessing a large trade, attracting
many foreign merchants, would have continued to stand in the midst of a
vast malarious swamp?

9. Indications have been found of an older wall, consisting of trunks of
trees laid beside each other, the interstices crammed with small
branches. Such a rude wall might be effective in keeping back the great
body of water.

10. In order to arrive at the civilization represented by a large
foreign trade and a trading city there must have been many years of
communication and intercourse. In fact, I see no reason why London
should not have existed as a trading-place for centuries after Thorney
was practically deserted, having ferries instead of a bridge, and
centuries before the coming of the Romans.

These considerations show the conclusion to which I have arrived. For
centuries there had been a constant intercourse between the Gauls and
the southern Britons; trading centers had been established, notably in
Thorney Island, at Southampton, at Lymne, which was afterward an
important Roman station, and at Dover. When the ships began to sail up
the Thames the superior position of London was discovered, and that port
quickly took over the greater part of the trade by the Thorney route.
When London grew, it became important to reclaim the malarious marsh and
the wasted miles of mud. Some kind of embankment, perhaps that old kind
with trunks of trees, was constructed. At first they put up the wall on
the opposite side, which the Saxons afterward called the South Work
(Southwark), meaning the river wall and not a wall of fortification;
then they pushed out branches on the north side and they carried the
wall gradually, not all at once, but taking years, even centuries, over
the work, down the Thames, along the Essex shores and round the mud
islands, but the last not till modern times.

At the end of the Essex wall there is an instructive place at which to
consider its probable date.

It is a very lovely and deserted place, about a mile and a half from a
picturesque little village, five or six miles from a railway station,
called Bradwell—I suppose the meaning of the name is the broad wall.
When the visitor reaches the seashore he finds the wall running along, a
fine and massive earthwork; but behind the wall, and evidently built
after the wall, there are the earthworks of a Roman fortress; you can
still trace the ramparts after all these years though the interior is
now plowed up; this was one of the forts by means of which the count of
the Saxon shore (Comes littoris Saxonici) kept the country safe from the
pirates, always on the watch for the chance of a descent; his ships
patrolled the narrow seas, but always, up the creeks and rivers, all the
way from Ostend to Norway, lay the pirate,—Saxon, Dane,
Viking,—watching, waiting, ready to cross over if those police ships
relaxed their watchfulness, ready to harry and to murder. You may stand
on the wall, where the Roman sentinel kept watch; you may strain your
eyes for a sight of the pirate fleet, fifty ships strong and every ship
stout, clinker built, sixty feet long and carrying a hundred men. As
soon as the Romans took their ships away they did come, and they came to
stay, and as soon as the Saxons forgot their old science of navigation
the Danes came, and after the Danes, or with them, the men of Norway.
Long after this Roman fortress had been deserted and forgotten, so that
to the people it was nothing more than a collection of mounds round
which clung some vague tradition of terror, a person, whose very name is
now unknown, built here a chapel dedicated to St. Peter; the chapel,
still called St. Peter’s on the Wall, is now a barn. Ruined chapel,
ruined fortress, both stand beside the wall, which still fulfils its
purpose and keeps out the waters from the lowlands within.

Why do I mention this chapel? What has it to do with East London? Well,
consider two or three facts in connection with this chapel. If you walk
along the wall you presently come to a little village church; it is
called the Church of West Thurrock; the church, like that old chapel of
St. Peter, stands beside, or on, the wall; it is a venerable church; it
has its venerable churchyard; it is filled with the graves of rustics
brought here to lie in peace for a thousand years and more. And there is
no village, or hamlet, or farm, or anything within sight. It was built
beside the wall. Again, they built two churches at least, beside, or on,
the wall of London City, not to speak of the churches built at five
gates of the City; they built a hermitage beside the wall at Wapping;
another by the city wall at Aldgate; on London Bridge they built a
chapel; on the wall in Essex, as we have seen, they built a chapel. I
see in all these churches and chapels built beside, or on, a wall, so
many chapels erected for prayers for the preservation of the wall; at
West Thurrock the people of the farmhouses made the chapel their parish
church, and so it has continued to the present day. But it was
originally a chapel on the wall, intended to consecrate and protect the
wall. Perhaps there are others along the wall, but I do not know of any.

I have said that it is possible that the wall stands upon the site of
earlier attempts to rescue the land and to keep out the water. For
instance, when the excavations were made for the foundation of the new
London Bridge, three separate sets of piles for rescuing more and more
of the foreshore were laid bare, and lower down the river, as I have
said, the workmen found, in repairing the wall, a very curious
arrangement of trunks of trees laid one upon the other, with branches
and brushwood between, evidently part of a wooden work meant for a dam
or tidal wall.

The maintenance of the wall has always been a costly business; the tides
find out the weak places, and bore into them and behind them like a
gimlet that grows every day larger and longer and more powerful. For
instance, there was a flourishing monastery near the junction of the Lea
with the Thames; it was called the House of Stratford Langthorne. One
morning the brethren woke to find that the river wall had given way and
that their pastures and meadows, their cornlands and their gardens were
all three feet deep in water. They had to get away as fast as they could
and to remain in a much smaller and more uncomfortable cell, on higher
ground, until the wall could be patched up again. In the fifteenth
century the pious ladies of Barking Nunnery made a similar discovery;
their portion of the river wall had broken down. They had no funds for
its repair. Then King Richard, the third of that name, came to their
assistance. This pious monarch had got through with most of his enemies
and nearly all his relations, and was just then going off to settle
matters with his cousin, Henry the Welshman, when this misfortune to the
Barking nuns happened.

Fifty years later the Plumstead marshes were “drowned” by the breaking
of the wall. In 1690 the Grays Marsh, lower down the river, was
overflowed by the same accident; in 1707 the wall gave way at a place
called Dagenham; it took nearly twenty years to repair the wall, which
was carried away time after time; the receding tide carried out into the
bed of the river so much earth that a bank was formed in mid-channel,
and it seemed as if the river would be choked. At last, however, it was
found possible to construct a wall which would stand the highest tide.
If we walk along this part of the wall we observe a large black pool of
water; this was left behind when the wall shut out the river; the lake
still remains and is full of fish, and on Sundays it is surrounded by
anglers, who stand all day long intent upon expectations which are
seldom rewarded. Out of this lake and its fishing originated the
ministerial white-bait dinner. It began when the occupant of a house
beside this lake invited William Pitt to dine with him in order to taste
the eels of the pond and the white-bait of the river. Pitt brought other
members of the Cabinet, the dinner became a yearly institution, the
place was presently transferred from Dagenham to Greenwich, and the
ministerial white-bait dinner was held every year, in June or July,
until ten or twelve years ago, when the pleasant institution was
stopped.

To return to the date of the wall. We have seen that nobody knows when
it was put up, that it must have been there in some form or other for a
very long time. It is tolerably certain that the wall was either built
by the Romans or that it existed before their time. My own belief is, as
I have stated, that it was put up here and there as occasion or
necessity served, that some of the land was rescued strip by strip, each
time by a new wall advanced before the others. Embankments, mounds, and
traces of a more ancient wall can be observed, as I have said, at many
points; it is worthy of note that in the county of Lincoln, where there
is also the necessity of a sea-wall, there are two, one standing at a
distance of half a mile in advance of the other. And I think that this
process of rescuing the land has gone on at intervals to the present
day. Even now there are broad stretches of mud along the Essex shore
which might be reclaimed; at the present moment there are projects
afloat for reclaiming the whole of the Wash, but the conditions of
agriculture in England are no longer such as to encourage any attempts
to add more acres to estates which at present seem unable to pay either
landlord or farmer.

I have said enough, however, to show that this earthwork, so much
neglected and so little known, is really a most important structure;
that it has made East London possible, and London itself healthy, while
it has converted miles and miles of barren swamp into smiling meadows
and fertile farms.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   V

                            THE FACTORY GIRL



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   V

                            THE FACTORY GIRL


EAST LONDON—one cannot repeat it too often—is a city of working bees. As
we linger and loiter among the streets multitudinous, we hear, as from a
hive, the low, contented murmur of continuous and patient work. There
are two millions of working-people in this city. The children work at
school; the girls and boys, and the men and women, work in factory, in
shop, and at home, in dock and in wharf and in warehouse; all day long
and all the year round, these millions work. They are clerks,
accountants, managers, foremen, engineers, stokers, porters, stevedores,
dockers, smiths, craftsmen of all kinds. They are girls who make things,
girls who sew things, girls who sell things. There are among them many
poor, driven, sweated creatures, and the sweaters themselves are poor,
driven, sweated creatures, for sweating once begun is handed on from one
to the other as carefully and as religiously as any holy lamp of
learning. They work from early morning till welcome evening. The music
of this murmur, rightly understood, is like the soft and distant singing
of a hymn of praise. For the curse of labor has been misunderstood;
without work man would be even as the beasts of the field. It is the
necessity of work that makes him human; of necessity he devises and
discovers and invents, because he would die if he did not work; and
because he has to subdue the animal within him. The animal is solitary;
the man must be gregarious. He must make a friend of his brother, he
must obey the stronger, he must make laws, he must fight with nature,
and compel her to give up her secrets. It is only by means of work that
man can rise; it is his ladder; in the sweat of his face he eats his
bread—yea, the bread of life. It is not with any pity that we should
listen to this murmur. It should be with pure contentment and gratitude,
for the murmur, though it speaks partly of the whirr of ten thousand
wheels and partly of those who stand and serve those wheels, speaks also
of this blessed quality of work, that it enables men to use the body for
the sake of the soul. Man must work.

Imagine, if you can, what would follow if you held up your hand and
said: “Listen, all. There will be no more work. You may stop the
engines, or they may run down of their own accord. You may take off your
aprons and wash your hands. You may all sit down for the rest of your
lives. Your food will be waiting for you when you want it. Eat, drink,
and be happy if you can.” If they can! But can they, with nothing to
do—no work to do, only, like the sheep in the field, to browse, or, like
the wolves of the forest, to rend and tear and slay?

If you can use your eyes as well as your ears, look about you. It is
really like looking at a hive of bees, is it not? There are thousands of
them, and they are all alike; they are all doing the same thing; they
are all living the same lives; they wake and work and rest and sleep,
and so life passes by. If you look more closely you will observe
differences. No two human creatures, to begin with, are alike in face.
More closely still, and you will discover that in the greatest crowd,
where the people are, like sheep in a fold, huddled together, every one
is as much for himself—there is as much individuality here—as in the
places where every one stands by himself and has room to move in and a
choice to make.


[Illustration: Wade Street, Limehouse.]


Let us take a single creature out of these millions. Perhaps if we learn
how one lives, how one regards the world, we may understand, in some
degree, this agitated, confused, restless, incoherent, inarticulate
mass.

I introduce you to a baby. Her name is Liz. She has as yet but a few
days of life behind her. She is hardly conscious of hunger, cold, or
uneasiness, or any of the things with which life first makes its
beginning apparent to the half-awakened brain. She opens eyes that
understand nothing—neither form, nor distance, nor color, nor any
differences; she sees men, like trees, walking. When she is hungry she
wails; when she is not hungry she sleeps. We will leave the child with
her mother, and we will stand aside and watch while the springs and
summers pass, and while she grows from an infant to a child, a girl, a
woman.

The room where the baby lies is a first-floor front, in a house of four
rooms and a ruinous garret, belonging to a street which is occupied,
like all the streets in this quarter, wholly by the people of the lower
working-class. This is London Street, Ratcliffe. It is a real street,
with a real name, and it is in a way typical of East London of the lower
kind. The aristocracy of labor, the foremen and engineers of shipyards
and works, live about Stepney Church, half a mile to the north. Their
streets are well kept, their doorsteps are white, their windows are
clean, there are things displayed in the front windows of their houses.
Here you will see a big Bible, here a rosewood desk, here a vase full of
artificial flowers, here a bird-cage with foreign birds,—Avvadavats,
Bengalees, love-birds, or a canary,—here a glass case containing coral
or “Venus’s fingers” from the Philippines, here something from India
carved in fragrant wood, here a piece of brasswork from Benares. There
is always something to show the position and superiority of the tenant.
It is the distinctive mark of the lower grades of labor that they have
none of these ornaments. Indeed, if by any chance such possessions fell
in their way they would next week be in the custody of the pawnbroker;
they would “go in.”

We are, then, in a first-floor front. Look out of the window upon the
street below: meanwhile the baby grows. The street contains forty
houses. Each house has four rooms, two or three have six; most of the
people have two rooms. There are, therefore, roughly speaking, about one
hundred families residing in this street. The door-steps, the pavement,
and the roadway are swarming with children; the street is their only
playground. Here the little girl of six bears about in her arms,
staggering under the weight, but a careful nurse, her little sister,
aged twelve months; here the children take their breakfast and their
dinner; here they run and play in summer and in winter. It seems to be
never too hot or too cold for them. They are ragged, they are
bareheaded, they are barefooted and barelegged, their toys are bits of
wood and bones and oyster-shells, transformed by the imagination of
childhood into heaven knows what of things precious and splendid. Of
what they have not they know nothing; but, then, they mind nothing,
therefore pity would be thrown away upon them. It is the only world they
know; they are happy in their ignorance; they are feeling the first joy
of life. By their ruddy faces and sturdy limbs you can see that the air
they breathe is wholesome, and that they have enough to eat.

The room is furnished sufficiently, according to the standards of the
family. There is a table, with two chairs; there is a chest of drawers
with large glass handles. On this chest stands a structure of artificial
flowers under a glass shade. This is the sacred symbol of
respectability. It is for the tenement what the Bible or the coral in
the window is for the house. So long as we have our glass shade with its
flowers we are in steady work, and beyond the reach of want. On each
side of the glass shade are arranged the cups and saucers, plates and
drinking-glasses, belonging to the family. There are also exhibited with
pride all the bottles of medicine recently taken by the various members.
It is a strange pride, but one has observed it among people of a more
exalted station. There are also set out with the bottles certain
heart-shaped velvet pincushions, made by the sailors, and considered as
decorations of the highest æsthetic value. The chest of drawers is used
for the clothes of the family—the slender supplement of what is on the
family back. It is also the storehouse for everything that belongs to
the daily life. There is a cupboard beside the chimney, with two
shelves. Any food that may be left over, and the small supplies of tea
and sugar, are placed on the upper shelf, coals on the lower. On the
table stands, always ready, a teapot, and beside it a half-cut loaf and
a plate with margarine, the substitute for butter. Margarine is not an
unwholesome compound. It is perhaps better than bad butter; it is made
of beef fat, clarified and colored to resemble butter. I am told that
other people eat it in comfortable assurance that it is butter.

When the child grows old enough to observe things she will remark, from
time to time, the absence of the chest of drawers. At other times she
will discover that the drawers are empty. These vacuities she will
presently connect with times of tightness. When money is scarce and work
is not to be got things “go in” of their own accord; the pawnbroker
receives them.

She will learn more than this; she will learn the great virtue of the
poor, the virtue that redeems so many bad habits—generosity. For the
chest of drawers and the best clothes are more often “in” to oblige a
neighbor in difficulties than to relieve their own embarrassments. The
people of Ratcliffe are all neighbors and all friends; to be sure, they
are frequently enemies, otherwise life would be monotonous. Always some
one is in trouble, always some of the children are hungry, always there
is rent to pay, always there is some one out of work. Liz will learn
that if one can help, one must. She will learn this law without any
formula or written code, not out of books, not in church, not in school;
she will learn it from the daily life around her. Generosity will become
part of her very nature.

You will perceive, however, that this child is not born of the very
poor; her parents are not in destitution; her father is, in fact, a
docker, and, being a big, burly fellow, born and brought up in the
country, he gets tolerably regular employment and very fair wages. If he
would spend less than the third or the half of his wages in drink his
wife might have a four-roomed cottage. But we must take him as he is.
His children suffer no serious privation. They are clothed and fed; they
have the chance of living respectably, and with such decencies as belong
to their ideals and their standards. In a word, Liz will be quite a
commonplace, average girl of the lower working-class.

The first duty of a mother is to “harden” the baby. With this view, Liz
was fed, while still a tiny infant, on rusks soaked in warm water, and
when she was a year old her mother began to give her scraps of
beefsteak, slightly fried, to suck; she also administered fish fried in
oil—the incense and fragrance of this delicacy fills the whole
neighborhood, and hangs about the streets day and night like a cloud.
For drink she gave the baby the water in which whiting had been boiled;
this is considered a sovereign specific for building up a child’s
constitution. Sometimes, it is true, the treatment leads to unforeseen
results. Another child, for instance, about the same age as Liz, and
belonging to the same street, was fed by its mother on red herring, and,
oddly enough, refused to get any nourishment out of that delightful form
of food. They carried it to the Children’s Hospital, where the doctor
said it was being starved to death, and made the most unkind remarks
about the mother—most unjust as well, for the poor woman had no other
thought or intention than to “harden the inside” of her child, and all
the friends and neighbors were called in to prove that plenty of herring
had been administered.

As soon as Liz was three years of age she had the same food as her
parents and elder sisters. You shall dine with the family presently. For
breakfast and tea and supper, and for any occasional “bever” or snack,
she had a slice of bread and margarine, which she cut for herself when,
like Mrs. Gamp, so disposed. It was indeed terrifying to see the small
child wielding a bread-knife nearly as big as herself. She got plenty of
pennies when work was regular; nobody is so generous with his pennies as
the man who needs them most. She spent these casual windfalls in sweets
and apples, passing the latter round among her friends for friendly
bites, and dividing the former in equal portions. This cheap
confectionery for the children of the kerb and the door-step supplies
the place of sweet puddings, for the mystery of the pudding is
unfortunately little known or understood by the mothers of Ratcliffe.

In the matter of beer, Liz became very early in life acquainted with its
taste. There is a kind of cheap porter, sold at three farthings a pint,
considered grateful and comforting by the feminine mind of Ratcliffe.
What more natural than that the child should be invited to finish what
her mother has left of the pint? It would not be much. What more
motherly, when one is taking a little refreshment in a public house,
than to give a taste to the children playing on the pavement outside?
And what more natural than for the children to look for these windfalls,
and to gather round the public house expectant? It seems rough on the
little ones to begin so early; it is contrary to modern use and custom,
but we need not suppose that much harm is done to a child by giving it
beer occasionally. Formerly all children had beer for breakfast, beer
for dinner, and beer for supper. In Belgium very little children have
their bock for dinner. The mischief in the case of our Liz and her
friends was that she got into the habit of looking for drink more
stimulating than tea, and that the habit remained with her and grew with
her.

At three years of age Liz passed, so to speak, out of the nursery, which
was the door-step and the kerb, into the school-room. She was sent to
the nearest Board-school, where she remained under instruction for
eleven long years. She began by learning certain highly important
lessons; first, that she had to obey; next, that she had to be quiet;
and, thirdly, that she had to be clean. As regards the first and second,
obedience and order were not enforced in the nursery of London Street.
They were, it is true, sometimes enjoined with accompaniment of a cuff
and a slap, not unkindly meant, in the home. As for cleanliness, one
wash a week, namely, on Sunday morning, had hitherto been considered
sufficient. It was, however, a thorough wash. The unkempt locks, brown
with the dust and grime of a week’s street play, came out of the tub a
lovely mass of light-brown, silky curls; the child’s fair skin emerged
from its coating of mud; her rosy cheeks showed their natural color; her
round, white arms fairly shone and glowed in the sunshine. On Sunday
morning Liz presented the appearance of a very pretty child, clean and
fair and winsome. As soon as she went to school, however, she had to
undergo the same process every morning except Saturday. If she appeared
in school unwashed she had to go home again; not only that, but there
was often unpleasantness in the matter of pinafore. Saturday is a school
holiday, therefore no one washes on Saturday, and face and hands and
pinafore may all go grimy together.


[Illustration: In an East-End Gin-Shop.]


Liz remained at school from three to fourteen years of age. What she
learned I do not exactly know. Some years ago I looked through some
“readers” for Board-schools, and came to the conclusion that nothing at
all could be learned from them, counting scraps as worth nothing. But I
hear that they have altered their “readers.” Still, if you remember that
no one has any books at all in London Street, that even a halfpenny
paper is not often seen there, that no talk goes on which can instruct a
child in anything, you will own that a child may be at school even for
eleven years and yet learn very little. And since she found no means of
carrying on her education after she left school, no free libraries, no
encouragement from her companions, you will not be surprised to hear
that all she had learned from books presently dropped from her like a
cloak or wrapper for which she had no further use. Let us be reasonable.
The Board-school taught her, besides a certain small amount of temporary
and short-lived book-lore, some kind of elementary manners—a respect, at
least, for manners; the knowledge of what manners may mean. The clergy
and the machinery of the parish cannot teach these things. It can be
done only at the Board-school. It is the school, and not the church,
which softens manners and banishes some of the old brutality, because,
you see, they do not go to church, and they must go to school. How
rough, how rude, the average girl of Ratcliffe was before the
Board-schools were opened, Liz herself neither knows nor comprehends.
These schools have caused the disappearance of old characteristics once
thought to be ingrained habits. Their civilizing influence during the
last thirty years has been enormous. They have not only added millions
to the numbers of those who read a great deal and perhaps—but this is
doubtful—think a little, but they have abolished much of the old
savagery. I declare that the life of this street as it was thirty or
forty years ago simply could not be written down with any approach to
truth in these pages.

Let me only quote the words of Professor Huxley, who began life by
practising as a medical man in this quarter. “I have seen the Polynesian
savage,” I once heard him say in a speech, “in his primitive condition,
before the missionary or the blackbirder or the beach-comber got at him.
With all his savagery, he was not half so savage, so unclean, so
irreclaimable, as the tenant of a tenement in an East London slum.”
These words open the door to unbounded flights of imagination. Leave
that vanished world, leave the savage slum of Huxley’s early manhood, to
the region of poetry and fancy, to the unwritten, to the suggested, to
the half-whispered. It exists no longer; it has been improved.

Liz passed through school, then, from one standard to the next. We have
seen that she learned manners, order, obedience, and the duty of cleanly
clothes and cleanly language. She learned also to love teacher and
school. Teacher came to see her when she was ill, and brought her nice
things. Teacher kissed her. There were others, however, who took a mean
advantage of her affectionate nature, and used it as a means of keeping
her out of mischief—ladies who went in and out of the streets and
houses, not afraid of anything; who gathered the children together on
Sundays, and sang with them and talked to them, and gave them oranges.
These ladies knew all the children. When they walked down the streets
the very little ones ran after them, clinging to their skirts, catching
at their hands, in the hope of a word and a kiss. Liz, among the rest,
was easily softened by kindness. She had two schools,—that provided by
the country and that provided by these ladies, who taught her more than
books can teach,—and both schools, if you please, were provided for
nothing. Whatever may happen to Liz in after life, her respect for
manners and for the life of order will remain. And sometimes, when
things look very black and there is real cause for sadness and
repentance, this respect may be the poor girl’s most valuable asset.

At the age of fourteen, when she had to leave school, she was a sturdy,
well-built girl, square-shouldered, rather short, but of a better frame
than most of her companions, because her father was country-born; her
features were sharp, her face was plain, but not unpleasing; her gray
eyes were quick and restless, her lips were mobile; her cheek was
somewhat pale, but not worn and sunken. She looked abounding in life and
health; she was full of fun, and quick to laugh on the smallest
provocation; she was ready-witted and prompt with repartee and retort;
she danced as she went along the street, because she could not walk
sedately; if a barrel-organ came that way she danced in the road,
knowing half a dozen really pretty steps and figures. She had something
in her quick movements, in the restlessness of her eyes, in the
half-suspicious turn of the head, of the street sparrow, the only bird
which she knew. If you grow up among street sparrows there is every
reason for the adoption of some of their manners; the same resemblance
to the sparrow, which is an impudent, saucy bird, always hungry, always
on the lookout for something more, may be observed in other street
children. She was affectionate with her companions, but always watchful
for her own chance.

In her views of the conduct of life she was no strict moralist. She was
ready to condone some things which more rigid maidens condemn. She would
not, for instance, bear malice because her brother, for one of the
smaller crimes, such as gambling on the pavement, got into trouble; nor
would she judge him harshly if he was found in the possession of things
“picked up”—unconsidered trifles; nor would she resent being knocked
down by her brother when in drink. She had too often seen her mother
cuffed by her father when he came home drunk to feel any resentment
about such a trifle. In sober moments her brother did not use his fist
upon her, nor did her father, except under the provocation of drink,
drive the whole family flying into the street by “taking the strap” to
everybody.

What did she know about the outer world? From her books and her school
little enough. Her own country, like every other country, was to her a
geographical expression. Even of London she knew nothing, though from
the river stairs and foreshore she could see a good deal of it. Once a
year, however, she had been taken for a day in the country, either by
train to the nearest seaside place, or by brakes and wagonettes to
Epping Forest. She was therefore by no means ignorant of green fields.
Why, there was the “Island Garden,” in the Isle of Dogs, close at hand.
But of trees and flowers and birds individually she knew nothing, and
she never would know anything. A bird was a bird, a tree was a tree to
her. On the whole of nature her mind was a blank. About her own country,
its history, its position, its achievements, she had learned something,
but it was rapidly becoming a vague and dim memory; of literature she
knew nothing. She had learned a little singing, and had an ear for
melody. She never read either newspapers or books, not even penny
story-books, therefore she added nothing to her scanty knowledge.

What did she think about and what did she talk about? When one lives in
a crowded street, where every family lives in one room, or in two at the
most, there is an unfailing, perennial stream of interest in the fortune
and the conduct, the good luck and the bad luck, of the neighbors. Liz
and her companions did exactly what other people do in country towns
much duller than London Street—they talked about one another and the
people about them. They talked also of the time when they, like their
elder sisters, would go about as they pleased: to the Queen’s Music-hall
and to the Pavilion Theatre; when they could enjoy the delights of
walking up and down their favorite boulevard—it is called Brook
Street—all the long winter evening, each with her young man. The young
girls always talk about the life before them. They know perfectly what
it is going to be; they see it all round them. Who are they that they
should expect anything but the common round, the common lot? They also,
like their elder sisters, talk of dress. Already they plan and contrive
for some extra bit of finery. Let us not believe that Liz was ever
troubled with vacuity of mind or with lack of interest in her thoughts
and conversation. There is in London Street even too much incident.
Where there are always in the street men out of work, families whose
“sticks” are all “in,” children who are kept alive by the generosity of
other people, only not quite so poor as themselves; where there is
always sickness, always violence, always drunkenness, always lads taken
away by the man in blue, and always the joy of youth and the animation
of children and young girls—why, Piccadilly is a waste by comparison,
and Berkeley Square is like unto Tadmor in the desert.


[Illustration: The British Workman in Epping Forest.]


In the case of Liz and her friends there was an additional interest in
the river and the craft of all kinds. The children would stand on
Ratcliffe Cross Stairs and gaze out upon the rushing tide and upon the
ships that passed up and down. At low tide they ran out upon the mud,
with bare feet, and picked up apronfuls of coal to carry home. Needs
must that a child who lives within sight of ships should imagine strange
things and get a sense of distance and of mystery. And sometimes a
sailor would find his way to London Street—a sailor full of stories of
strange lands across the seas, such as would make even the dullest of
Ratcliffe girls launch out in imagination beyond the dim and dusty
street.

Once, for instance, a cousin came. It was at Christmas. Never was such a
Christmas. He was a sailor. He came from the West India docks—or was it
from Limehouse Basin? It was the only time; he never came again. But
could any one privileged to be present ever forget the celebration of
that home-coming? He had money in his pocket—lots of money. He threw it
all upon the table—nine pounds in gold, Liz remembered, and a heap of
silver and copper. On Christmas eve the feast began. Relations and
far-off cousins were found and invited. The family had two rooms. The
company, with the guests, numbered twenty-one. A barrel of beer and any
quantity of whisky and gin were laid in for the occasion. No more joyful
family reunion was ever known. Outside, there were the usual Christmas
rejoicings. In the street the drunken men reeled about; there was an
occasional fight; the houses were all lighted up, but nowhere was a
nobler spread or a longer feast or a more joyous Christmas known than in
those two rooms. It took three days and three nights. From Friday, which
was Christmas eve, till Monday, which was Boxing-day, this feast
continued. During all this time not one among them, man, woman, or
child, undressed or went to bed. The children fell asleep, with flushed
faces and heavy heads, in corners, on the landing, anywhere; the others
feasted and drank, danced and sang, for three days and three nights. Now
and then one would drop out and fall prone upon the floor; the others
went on regardless. Presently the sleeper awoke, sat up, recovered his
wandering wits, and joined the revelers again.

For plenty and profusion it was like unto the wedding-feast of Camacho.
There were roast geese and roast ducks, roast turkey and roast beef,
roast pork and sausages and ham, and everything else that the shops at
this festive season could supply.

On the third day, toward three in the afternoon of Monday, lo, a
miracle! For the money was all gone, and the barrel of beer was empty,
and the bottles were empty, and the bones of the geese and the turkeys
were all that was left of the feast. The company broke up, the cousin
departed, the family threw themselves upon the beds and slept the clock
twice round. Who could forget this noble Christmas? Who could forget a
feast that lasted for three whole days and three long nights?

Liz had got through her school-time; she must go to work.

Of course, she knew all along what awaited her. She must do as the
others did, she must enter a factory. She contemplated the necessity
without any misgiving. Why should she not go into a factory? It was all
in the natural order of things, like getting hungry or waking up in the
morning. Every girl had to be cuffed, every girl had to get out of the
way when her father was drunk, every girl had to go to work as soon as
she left school.

There is apparently a choice of work. There are many industries which
employ girls. There is the match-making, there is the bottle-washing,
there is the box-making, there is the paper-sorting, there is the
jam-making, the fancy confectionery, the cracker industry, the making of
ornaments for wedding-cakes, stockings for Christmas, and many others.
There are many kinds of sewing. Virtually, however, this child had no
choice; her sisters were in the jam factory, her mother had been in the
jam factory, she too went to the jam factory.

There are many branches of work more disagreeable than the jam factory.
Liz found herself at half-past seven in the morning in a huge building,
where she was one among a thousand working women and girls, men and
boys, but chiefly girls. The place was heavily laden with an
overpowering fragrance of fruit and sugar. In some rooms the fruit was
boiling in great copper pots; in some girls were stirring the fruit,
after it had been boiled, to get the steam out of it; in some machinery
crushed and ground the sugar till it became as fine as flour. The place
was like a mill. The flour of sugar hung about the room in a cloud of
dust; it lay in such dust on the tables and the casks; it got into the
girls’ hair, so that they were fain to tie up their heads with white
caps; it covered their clothes, and made them sticky; it made tables,
benches, floor, all alike sticky. There were other developments of
sugar; sometimes it lay on tables in huge, flat cakes of soft gray stuff
like gelatine; they turned this mass, by their craft and subtlety, into
innumerable threads of fine white silk; they drew it through machines,
and brought it out in all the shapes that children love. Then there were
rooms full of cocoanut. They treated casks full of dessicated cocoanut
till that also became like flour. There were other rooms full of
almonds, which they stripped and bleached and converted also into fine
flour; or they turned boxes of gelatine into Turkish delight and
jujubes. All day long and all the year round they made crackers; they
made ornaments for wedding-cakes; they made favors; they made caramels;
they made acidulated drops; they made things unnamed except by children.
In all these rooms girls worked by hundreds, some sitting at long
tables, some boiling the sugar, filling the pots with jam, stirring the
boiling fruit, feeding machinery, filling molds; all were as busy as
bees and as mute as mice. Some of them wore white caps to cover their
hair, some wore white aprons, some wore coarse sacking tied all round
for a skirt to keep off stickiness. All day long the machinery whirred
and pulsed an accompaniment to the activity and industry of the place.

“I like the smell,” said Liz. First impressions are the best; she
continued to like the smell and the factory and the work.

She was stouter and stronger than most girls. They gave her a skirt of
sacking, and put her where her strength would be of use. She liked the
movement, she liked the exercise of her strong arms, and she liked the
noise of the place; she liked the dinner-hour, with its talking and
laughing; she liked the factory better than the school; she liked the
pay-day, and the money which she kept for herself.

I say that she liked the work and the sense of society and animation.
About a year afterward, however, a strange and distressing restlessness
seized her. Whether she was attracted by the talk of the other girls, or
whether it was an instinctive yearning for change and fresh air, I know
not. The thing was infectious. Many other girls compared their symptoms,
and found them the same. Finally, the restlessness proving altogether
too much for the children, they took hands, thirty of them, and one
Saturday afternoon, without bag or baggage, they ran away.

They ran through Wapping and along Thames Street, which is empty on
Saturday afternoon; they ran across London Bridge, they poured into
London Bridge Station. One of the girls knew the name of the station
they wanted; it was in Kent. They took tickets, and they went off.

They had gone hopping.

Thousands of Londoners in the season go hopping. I wish I could dwell
upon the delights of the work. Unfortunately, like the summer, it is too
soon over. While it lasts the hoppers sleep in barns, they work in the
open, they breathe fresh air, they get good pay, they enjoy every
evening a singsong and a free-and-easy. The beer flows like a rivulet;
everybody is thirsty, everybody is cheerful, everybody is friendly.

When it was over Liz returned, browned and refreshed and strengthened,
but fearful of the consequences, because she had deserted her work. But
she was fortunate. They took her back into the factory, and so she went
on as before.

Let us follow her through a single day. She had to be at the factory at
half-past seven in the morning, and, with an hour off for dinner, to
work till six. She made her breakfast on tea, bread and margarine, and a
“relish.” The relish included many possibilities. It depended mainly on
the day of the week. It is obvious that what one can afford on a Monday
is unattainable on a Friday. On Monday it might be a herring or a
haddock, an egg or a rasher of bacon. On Friday and Saturday it would be
a sprig of water-cress or a pickle.

With all factory girls dinner is a continual source of anxiety and
disappointment, for the ambitions of youth are lofty, and the yearnings
of youth are strong, and the resources of youth are scanty. Within the
factory there were, for those who chose to use them, frying-pans and a
gas-stove. The girls might cook their food for themselves. There was
also hot water for making tea; but the factory girl detests cooking, and
may be trusted to spoil and make unfit for human food whatever cooking
is intrusted to her. Besides, there were the eating-houses. Here, if you
please, were offered to the longing eyes of Liz, always hungry at
half-past twelve, daily temptations to extravagance. Just think what the
bill of fare every day offered to a girl of discernment in the matter of
dinner.

                      Saveloy and Pease Pudding
                  German Sausages and Black Pudding
                        Fried Fish and Pickles
                              Meat-pie
                        Pie-crust and Potatoes
                      Fagots and Mustard Pickle
                Beans, Potatoes, Greens, Currant Pudding
                            Jam Pudding

The mere choice between these delicacies was bewildering, and, alas! on
many days only the cheapest were attainable. Every day Liz pondered over
the list and calculated the price. The meat-pie at twopence—glorious!
But could she afford twopence? The jam pudding at one halfpenny! It
seems cheap, and a good lump too, with a thick slab of red jam—plum
jam—laid all over the top. But yet, even a halfpenny is sometimes dear.
You see that dinner is wanted on seven days in the week. It was
impossible to afford jam pudding every day. Fagots, again. They are only
a penny hot, and three farthings cold. A fagot is a really toothsome
preparation. In appearance it is a square cake. In composition it
contains the remnants and odd bits of a butcher’s shop—beef, veal,
mutton, lamb, with fat and gristle contributed by all the animals
concerned. The whole is minced or triturated. It is treated with spices
and shreds of onion, and is then turned out in shapes and baked. No one
in the position of our Liz can withstand the temptation of a fagot. The
rich people who keep the shops, she believes, live exclusively on
fagots. Wealth cannot purchase anything better than a fagot.


[Illustration: Brook Street, Limehouse.]


To begin with, she had only five shillings a week. When we consider the
Sunday dinner, her clothes and her boots, her share of the rent, her
breakfast, her amusements, her clubs, of which we shall speak
immediately, I do not think that she was justified in laying out more
than twopence, or at the most twopence halfpenny, on her daily dinner. A
meat-pie with potatoes, a fagot with mustard pickles and greens, and a
jam pudding would absorb the whole of her daily allowance. It left this
growing girl hungry after eating all of it.

Meantime, the factory people are as careful about their girls as can be
expected. They insist on their making a respectable appearance and
wearing a hat. In many other ways they look after them. There is a good
deal of paternal kindliness in the London employer, especially when he
is in a large way.

The factory girls of East London have shown a remarkable power of
looking after themselves. Once or twice they have even had a strike. On
one occasion they made a demonstration which made the government give
in. It is old history now. Once there was a certain statesman named
Lowe—Bob Lowe, he was irreverently called. He made a considerable stir
in his day, which was about five-and-twenty years ago. He was then
Chancellor of the Exchequer. To-day I doubt if there are many young
people in England under five-and-twenty who could pass an examination in
the political career of Bob Lowe. He was a very fine scholar. He had
been a fellow and lecturer of his college at Oxford; he had been a
barrister practising in Australia, and he was believed to hold in
contempt our colonial empire, and to hunger after the time when Great
Britain would become a second Holland. Once he conceived the idea of a
tax on matches. His scholarship supplied him with a punning motto, “Ex
luce lucellum” (“from light a little profit”). The match-makers
rebelled. They marched down to Westminster in their thousands. They
demonstrated: they stated their grievance. Bob Lowe quailed, and the
government withdrew the bill.

Our young friend Liz had nothing to do with this prenatal business,
which, had it happened in her own time, she would have greatly enjoyed.
Where she showed her native ability was in the establishment of clubs.
They were practical clubs; they were organized upon an entirely new and
original method. I can best explain it by giving an illustration. Thus,
there is the one-pound club. Twenty girls agree to get up a one-pound
club. For twenty weeks they have to subscribe each a shilling. To
determine the order of taking the money they draw numbered tickets. The
girl who draws No. 1 receives twenty shillings in a lump the first week;
the girl who draws No. 2 takes the second week’s money, and so on. It is
obvious that this method can be applied to anything, provided the girls
who draw the earlier numbers play fair. It seems that they generally do.
Should they shirk their duty, there are “ructions.” The girl Liz could
not, at first, aspire to the one-pound club. But there were humbler
clubs—sixpenny, even penny, clubs. Thus, there were boot clubs, calico
clubs, petticoat clubs, tea-fight clubs, jewelry clubs, and, but
secretly and among the older girls who had sweethearts to consider and
to please, there were spirit clubs, for gin and whisky, not for
supernatural manifestations. A girl cannot belong to all these clubs at
once, but the convenience of belonging to two or three at a time is very
great. It enables a provident girl to keep her wardrobe in order by
small weekly savings which are not much felt. In the matter of boots,
now; if one draws No. 1 there is a new pair at once; suppose the pair
lasts for three months, after six weeks another boot club might give the
same girl the last number instead of the first, and so on.

Her days were not spent wholly in the factory. At seven in the winter
and at six in the summer she was free; she had also her Saturday
afternoons and her Sundays. In other words, she had a fair five hours of
freedom every day, ten hours of freedom on Saturdays, and the whole of
Sunday. Now, five hours a day of continuous freedom from work is as much
as in any working community can be expected. It is a third of the waking
day. How did Liz get through that time?

She very soon got beyond her mother’s control. It is not, indeed, the
custom with many mothers to exercise authority over a girl at work. Liz
did what other girls did. She therefore spent most of her evenings in
the boulevard of her quarter, a place called Brook Street. Here she
walked about, or ran about, or danced arm in arm with other girls,
chaffing the lads, whom she treated, if she had the money, to a drink.
She went sometimes to a music-hall, where some of the factory girls “did
a turn” or danced in the ballet. She wore no hat or bonnet in the
street, and she retained the apron which is the badge of her class. She
looked on with interest when there was a fight. She listened with a
critical mind when there was an exchange of reproaches between two
women.

Then a girls’ club got hold of her and persuaded her to come in. The
club was run by some of those ladies of whom I have spoken, the same who
trade on the affection of the children for their own purposes, which may
be described as a mean and underhand attempt to make the little ones
learn to prefer good to evil. At this club there was singing every
night, there was dancing with one another, there was reading, there was
talking; everybody behaved nicely, and for two or three hours it was a
restful time, even though young girls do not feel the need of rest or
understand its use.

When the club closed, the girls went away. If it was a fine night and
not too cold they went back for a while to Brook Street, where there was
neither rest nor quiet nor godly talk.

Besides her evenings, the girl had the four bank-holidays, and the
holidays of Christmas and Easter. Nobody in London does any work between
Thursday in Passion Week and Easter Tuesday, nor does any one work much
between Christmas eve, when that falls on Thursday or Friday, and the
following Tuesday.

These days and seasons are not only holidays, they are days reserved for
weddings and christenings. It is necessary, of course, that a girl who
respects herself should make a creditable appearance at such a time. She
must therefore save, and save with zeal. Saving up for bank-holiday
becomes a passion. Dinner is reduced to the lowest possible dimensions,
even to a halfpenny lump of currant pudding, which is as heavy as lead
and the most satisfying thing for the money that can be procured.

Bank-holiday demands a complete change of clothes, from the hat to the
boots. Everything must be new. There must not be an old frock with a new
hat, nor an old pair of boots with a new frock. This means a great deal
of saving. It must also be accompanied by a general cleaning up of the
windows, the door-steps, the stairs, the rooms. All over London Street
before bank-holiday there is unusual movement. Chairs are brought out,
and girls stand upon them to clean the ground-floor windows.

I have already spoken of the change that has come over this quarter.
Formerly a holiday was celebrated after the manner of the ancient Danes,
by long and barbaric drinking bouts. Early in the morning girls would be
seen lying helpless on the pavement. Lads ran about carrying bottles of
gin, which they offered to every one. These are customs of the past,
though complete soberness is not yet quite achieved.


[Illustration: An August Bank Holiday in the East End.]


Still, however, the Ratcliffe girl likes to keep her bank-holiday at
home among her own people, in her beloved Brook Street. She cheerfully
saves up all she can, so that there may be a good sum for bank-holiday,
enough for new clothes and something over, something to treat her
friends with. And when the day is over she must go back to her work with
an empty purse. Well for her if it is not also with an aching head.

When Liz was approaching the age of seventeen she had learned, from
every point of view, all that she would ever learn; she had risen as
high as she could rise in the factory; she made as good wages as she
would ever make; she lived at home, sharing a room with two sisters; she
paid her mother sixpence a week for bed and lodging; her character was
formed; her acquaintance with good and evil was deep, wide, and
intimate; she was steady, as girls of her class go, thanks to those
ladies; if she ever drank too much she was ashamed of herself, and as
yet she had no sweetheart. She was affectionate and responded to
kindness, but she was self-willed, and would bear no thwarting. She was
deficient on the side of imagination. She could not enter into the
thoughts or the position of any one except herself; that was the natural
result of her narrow, groove-like life. She had rules of conduct and of
behavior; of religion she had little, if any, discoverable. She never
went to church or chapel. She was fond of every kind of excitement, yet
the emotional side of religion touched her not. The Irish girls, of whom
there are many at Ratcliffe, were Catholics, and sometimes went to
church. Once Liz went there, too, and seemed to like the music and the
lights, but she did not repeat her visit.

This was her life all through the week. On Sunday, however, she made a
difference.

On that morning she lay in bed till ten or eleven. She spent the time
before dinner over her wardrobe; at one o’clock she sat down with the
family to the most important ceremony of the week, the Sunday dinner. To
other people besides the working-folk of Ratcliffe the Sunday dinner is
an institution. Pope’s retired citizen, on Sundays, had, we know, two
puddings to smoke upon the board. To all people of the middle class the
Sunday dinner is the occasion for a little indulgence, for a glass of
wine after dinner. To the resident in Ratcliffe it means a big feed, as
much as a man can eat, and that of a popular and favorite dish. There
are many dishes dear to the heart of the working-man. He loves
everything that is confected with, or accompanied by, things of strong
taste. If he knew of the delicacy called lobscouse he would have it
nearly every Sunday; if he knew of that other delicacy called potato-pot
he would order it frequently. As it is, he relies for the most part upon
some portion of pig—that creature of “fine miscellaneous feeding.” He
loves roast pork, boiled pork, fried pork, baked pork, but especially he
loves pig’s head. His wife buys this portion of the animal, stuffs the
ears and eyes thereof with sage and onions,—a great deal of sage and
much onion,—and sends it to the bakehouse. Pig’s head thus treated and
done to a turn is said to have no fellow. It is accompanied by beer, and
beer in plenty. The family sit down to this meal when it is brought in
from the baker, and continue eating until they can eat no longer. So, in
Arabian deserts, if you would win the hearts of the Bedouin you give
them a sheep, and they will eat until they can eat no longer. It is part
of the Sunday dinner that there is to be no hint or suspicion of any
limit, except that imposed by nature. They eat till they can eat no
more.

When she was seventeen Liz found a sweetheart.

He was a young fellow of twenty or thereabouts. He had come out of his
native village, some place in the quiet country, a dull place, to enjoy
the life of London. He was a highly skilled agricultural laborer; there
was nothing on the farm that he could not do. He knew the fields and the
woods, the wild creatures and the birds; he knew how to plow and to
reap; he could keep an allotment full of vegetables all the year round;
he understood a stable and a dairy, a paddock and sheepfold. Yet with
all this knowledge he came to London, where it was of no earthly use to
him. He threw over the best work that a country lad can have, and he
became nothing but a pair of hands like this girl’s father. He was a
pair of hands; he was a strong back; his sturdy legs were fit to do the
commonest, the heaviest, the most weary work in the world. One evening
Liz was standing alone on the pavement, looking at something or other—a
barrel-organ, a cheap Jack, one of the common sights and sounds—when
this young fellow passed along, walking heavily, as one who has walked
chiefly over plowed fields. He looked at her. Something in her face,—it
was an honest face,—something in her attitude of alertness and the sharp
look of her eye struck his imagination. He hitched closer. In Brook
Street it is permissible, it is laudable, to introduce yourself. He said
huskily: “I’ve seen you here before. What’s your name? Mine is George.”

That was the beginning of it. Presently the other girls met Liz walking
proudly along Brook Street with a big, well-set-up young fellow. They
moved out of her way. Liz had got a chap. When would their turn come?

Next night they met again. On Sunday she walked with him along the Mile
End Road without her apron and in her best hat. It was a parade and
proclamation of an engagement. She told her mother, who was glad. “A
man,” she said, “is a better friend than a woman. He sticks.” Liz did
not tell the ladies of the club, but the other girls did, and the ladies
looked grave and spoke seriously to her about responsibilities.

George did stick to her. He was an honest lad; he had chosen his
sweetheart, and he stuck to her. When he had money he gave her treats.
He took her by train to Epping Forest, to North Woolwich Gardens, to the
theater, to the music-hall. In his way he loved the girl. She would not
leave the club, but she gave him part of every evening. He talked to her
about the country life he had left behind him. He told her the stories
about poachers which belong to every village ale-house. It pleased him
to recall the past he had thrown away. All day long he carried heavy
bales and boxes and burdens backward and forward. It was monotonous
work, cheered only by the striking of the hours and the thought of the
coming evening. The poor lad’s day was hallowed by his evening walk.


[Illustration: A Music-Hall.]


Six months later Liz was married. It was on the August bank-holiday. The
wedding took place at St. James’s Church, Ratcliffe. It was celebrated
in a style which did honor to the quarter. The bride was dressed in
heliotrope satin. She wore a large hat of purple plush. The bridesmaids
were brilliantly attired in frocks of velveteen, green and crimson and
blue. They too wore hats of plush. After the ceremony they adjourned to
the residence of the bride, where a great feast was spread. The
rejoicing lasted all day and all night. When the young couple began
their wedded life it was with an empty purse and a week of borrowed
food. I hope that George will not get drunk, will not knock his wife
down, and will not take the strap to her. If he does, we must comfort
ourselves with the thought that to Liz it will be no new thing, hitherto
unknown in the land, not an unnatural thing when the drink is in a man,
and, unless repeated in soberness, a trifle to be endured and forgotten
and forgiven, even seventy times seven.

Here we must leave our girl. She is now a wife. For a little while she
will go on at the factory; then she will stay at home. London Street
will be enriched by half a dozen children all her own. Like their
mother, these children will play in the dust and the mud; like her, they
will go to school and be happy; like her, they will go to work in the
factory. Liz will be repeated in her children. As long as she lives she
will know and enjoy the same life, with the same pleasures, the same
anxieties, the same luck. She will “do” for her girls when they grow up.
Now and then she will be taken on as a casual at the old factory. London
Street will always be her whole world; she will have no interests
outside, and when she dies it will be only the vanishing of one out of
the multitudes which seem, as I said at the beginning, to be all alike,
all living the same life, all enduring, hoping, loving, suffering,
sinning, giving, helping, condoling, mourning, in the same kindly,
cruel, beneficent, merciless, contradictory, womanly fashion that makes
up the life of London Street.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   VI

                         THE KEY OF THE STREET



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   VI

                         THE KEY OF THE STREET


DURING our walk along the riverside we passed here and there small
groups of men, either two and three together or in companies of ten or a
dozen. They were “hanging around,” hands in pockets, an empty pipe
between their lips, with a slouching, apathetic air; in every case a
public house was within very easy reach; in most cases the public house
afforded them door-posts and walls against which to lean. They were
observed in large numbers around the dock-gates and in long lines
leaning against the dock-walls. There was no alertness or activity in
the look or the carriage of any of these men; on the other hand, there
was no dejection or unhappiness. Had we stopped to ask any of them what
they were doing they would have assumed for the moment an imitation of
readiness indicated by a slight stiffening of the knee-joints, the
withdrawal of the hands from the pocket, and the attitude of attention
by which they gave the inquirer to understand that they were waiting for
a job.

This is their trade—waiting for a job; it appears to be a trade which
takes the spirit out of a man, which makes him limp, which makes him
unwilling to undertake that job when it arrives, which tempts him to
look for any other way of getting food than the execution of that job,
which narrows his views of life so that the haven where he would be is
nothing but the bar of the public house, and the only joy he desires is
the joy of endeavoring to alleviate a thirst that nothing can assuage.

This manner of life can hardly be reckoned among the more noble. It
demands no skill and no training. What they mean by a job is the
fetching or carrying something, either in the way of transferring cargo
from ship to quay or carrying something from one house to another. If it
is the former, if one of these fellows gets taken on at the docks, he
enters with a sigh; his work is not worth a fourth part of that done by
one of the regular staff, and as soon as he has earned enough for the
day’s wants he retires, he goes back to his street corner and his public
house, he once more seizes on the momentary rapture of a drink, and he
rejoins his limp companions.

I have considered the daily life of the factory girl. Let me now
consider that of the casual hand, almost as important an element on the
riverside as the girl.

In most cases he is a native of the place; he was born on the riverside;
he has been brought up on the riverside; he was born and brought up
conveniently near the public house, beside which he wastes the leaden
hours of his dreary life. A country lad cannot easily become a creature
so weak and limp; the father of the casual hand was himself in the same
profession, his mother was a factory girl like her of whom we have been
speaking.


[Illustration: The West India Dock Gates.]


This man—he never seems to be more than five-and-thirty, or less than
thirty—is one of the very few survivors of a numerous family; the
riverside families are very large if you count the graves, for the
mortality of the young fills the graveyards very rapidly; most of this
man’s brothers and sisters are dead—one can hardly, looking at the man
himself and his surroundings, say that they are “gone before”; it is
best to say only that they are gone, we know not whither. He himself has
been so unfortunate, if we may put the case plainly, as to escape the
many perils of infancy and childhood. He has not been “overlaid” as a
baby, nor run over as a child, nor carried off with diphtheria,
scarlatina, croup, or any other of the disorders which continually hover
about these streets, nor has he been the victim of bad nourishment and
food which was unsuited to him. He has become immune against contagion
and infection; wet feet and cold and exposure have been unable to kill
him; the close and fetid air of the one-family living room has carried
off his brothers and sisters, but has not been able to strike him down;
he is like a soldier who has come unscathed through a dozen battles and
a malarious campaign. Surely, therefore, this man ought to be a splendid
specimen of humanity, strong and upright. The contrary is the case,
however. You observe that he is by no means the kind of Briton we should
like to exhibit; he hath a sallow complexion, his shoulders are sloping
and narrow, his chest is hollow, his walk is shambling, he has no spring
in his feet, his hands betray by their clumsiness his ignorance of any
craft, he is flat-footed, his eye lacks intelligence, he is low-browed,
the intellectual side of him has not been cultivated or even touched; if
you talked with him you would find that he has few ideas, that his
command of language is imperfect, and that he is practically
inarticulate. The best thing that could happen to such a man would be
compulsory farm work, but no farmer would have him on any terms, and he
himself would refuse such work; he means to go on as he always goes on,
to wait outside the public house for the casual job.

As a child and as a boy he was made to attend school—indeed, he liked
nothing better than the hours of school. His mother, who found that in
order to send the children off clean and tidy to school she had herself
to get up early, and, besides, had to assume for herself some outward
appearance of cleanliness, threw every possible obstacle in the way of
school attendance. But she was firmly overruled by the school-board
visitor and by the magistrate. Therefore she abandoned opposition and
acquiesced, though with sadness too deep for words, in the inevitable.

The boy remained at school until his fourteenth year, when he was
allowed to leave, on passing the fourth standard. If you ask what he had
learned one might refer you to any of the “readers” used in London
Board-schools, but probably these interesting and valuable works are not
within easy reach. It must suffice, therefore, to explain, as in the
case of Liz, that the elementary school readers, as a rule, contain
selections, snippets, and scraps of knowledge, and that if a boy who
passed the fourth standard remembered them all, from the first to the
fourth inclusive, they would carry him a very little way indeed toward
the right understanding of the round world and all that is therein.

Now comes the question, What good will the boy’s education be to him in
the life that lies before him? Truly, in the case of the casual hand,
little or none. For, you see, although, apart from the encyclopedic
snippets and the scraps, the boy has learned to read and to write, he
never needs the latter accomplishment at all, and, as regards the
former, he has no books; his father had no books, his friends have no
books. But all the world read newspapers. Not all the world; there is a
considerable section, including the casual hand and certain others whom
we shall meet immediately, who never read the papers. This boy is not
going to read the papers; his father never did, his friends never do, he
will not. Why should he? The papers contain nothing that is of the least
importance to him; they are apparently in a conspiracy to make it
impossible for such as himself to drink unless they work. He speedily
forgets his scraps of information, and he gets no more from the usual
sources.

You must not, however, imagine that he never learns anything. It is
impossible for any boy to grow up in a crowded street in complete
ignorance. Something he must learn; some views of life he must be forced
to frame, though unconsciously. He will grow up in ignorance of the
things which form actual life in other circles, but it is with a
riverside lad as with a village lad. The latter, brought up in the
country, acquires insensibly a vast mass of information and knowledge
about the things of the country—the fields, the hedges, the woods, the
birds, the creatures—without book, without school, without master; so
the riverside lad, by running about on the Stairs and the foreshore,
acquires a vast mass of information about the port and the river and the
ships and the ways of those who go down to the deep. He knows the tides,
he knows the jetsam and the flotsam of the tides, he trudges and wades
in the mud of the foreshore to pick up what the tide leaves for him; he
knows all the ships, where they come from, whither they are bound, the
great liner which puts in at the West India docks, the packet boats, the
coasters, the colliers, the Norwegian timber ships, he knows them all;
he knows their rig, he knows their names and when to expect them—the
river and all that floats upon it are known to him as a book is known to
the student. Were it not for the work, the physical activity, the
discipline, the obedience, expected of the man before the mast, he would
be a sailor. Concerning the imports and the exports of London he knows
more than any official of the Board of Trade—that is to say, figures
concern him not, but he knows the bales and the casks and the crates and
the boxes: are not his friends engaged every day in discharging cargo
and taking it in? All this, you will acknowledge, means a good, solid
lump of knowledge which may occupy his brain and give him materials for
thought and conversation—if he ever did think, which is doubtful, and if
he could converse, which is not at all doubtful.

There is another kind of knowledge which the riverside lad picks up. It
is the knowledge of the various ways, means, tricks, craft, and cunning
by which many of his friends and contemporaries get through life without
doing any work. It is with him as with men in other lines; he knows how
things are done, but he cannot do them himself; he lacks courage, he
lacks the necessary manner, he lacks the necessary quickness; he would
be a rogue if he could; he admires successful roguery, but he is unable
to imitate or to copy or to practise roguery. Not everyone can defy the
law even for a brief spell between the weary periods of “stretch.”


[Illustration: The Barges that Lie Down the Thames.]


From picking up trifles unguarded and unwatched on the shore to doing
the same thing in the streets is but a step. There are plenty of these
lads who learn quite early to prey upon the petty trader. I have been
told by one of his victims how to watch for and to observe the youthful
prowler. You place yourself in one of the busy streets lined with shops
in some position, perhaps at a shop-door, where you may observe without
being suspected; it is like Jefferies’ rule for observing the wild
creatures; assume an attitude of immobility; the people pass up and
down, all occupied with their own affairs, unobservant; presently comes
along a boy, long-armed, long-legged; his step is silent and slouching,
his eyes beneath the peak of his cap glance furtively round; the stall
is unprotected; the goods exposed for sale are only guarded by a child,
who is looking the other way; then, in a moment, the hand darts out,
snatches something, and the lad with the long and slouching step goes on
without the least change in his manner, unsuspected. He is ready to pick
up anything—a loaf from the baker, an apple from the coster’s cart, an
onion from the green-grocer; nothing comes amiss. And he does it for the
honor and the glory of it and the joy in the danger. He is not going to
become an habitual criminal, not at all; that career requires serious
work; he is going to become a casual hand, and he will remember
pleasantly in his manhood the cunning and the sleight-of-hand with which
as a boy he knew how to lift things from shop and stall and barrow.

I have spoken of the unguarded things upon the foreshore at low tide.
There are still lingering by the riverside survivals of the good old
days when the whole people lived in luxury on the robberies they
committed from the ships loading and unloading in the river. There are
barges which go up and down with the tide. At ebb tide they lie in the
mud; the men in charge go ashore to drink; the boys then climb on board
in search of what they can get. If the barge is laden with sugar they
cut holes in the bags and fill their pockets, their hats, their boots,
their handkerchiefs with the stuff, which they carry ashore and sell.
They get a halfpenny a pound for their plunder. If the barge is laden
with coals they carry off all that their clothes will hold; one goes
before to warn the rest of danger; plenty of houses on the way are open
to them; it is a comparatively safe and certainly a pleasant way of
earning a penny or two. It is also a way which brings with it its own
punishment. For the great and ever present temptation with the riverside
lad is to shirk work; a physical shrinking from hard work is his
inheritance; every way by which he can be relieved from work strengthens
this physical shrinking; not at one step, not suddenly, does a young man
find work impossible for him; the casual hand grows slowly more casual;
the waiter on fortune’s jobs grows steadily more inclined to wait; he
finds himself tied to the lamp-post opposite the public house; chains
bind him to the doors; within is his shrine, his temple, his praying
place, his idol; he keeps his hands in his pockets while he keeps his
eyes on the swinging door and suffers his mind to dwell all day long on
the fragrance of the beery bar.

Every year there are thousands of boys who leave the London
Board-schools, their “education” completed, with no chance of an
apprenticeship to any trade, their hands absolutely untrained, just a
hanging pair of hands, prehensile, like the monkey’s tail. It is indeed
lucky that they are prehensile, otherwise what would be the lot of their
owners?

They leave school; they have to face the necessity of making a
livelihood for themselves, of earning their daily bread, perhaps for
sixty long years to come, without knowing any single one of the many
arts and crafts by which men live and provide for their families and
themselves. At the outset it appears to be a hopeless task. Of course,
it is the greatest possible misfortune for a lad to learn no trade. If
we consider the waste of intellectual power alone, where there is no
training to skilled labor, it must be acknowledged to be the greatest
misfortune that can befall a boy at the outset. Still, all is not lost.
For a steady lad, willing to work, this misfortune may be partly
overcome. There are many openings for such a boy. Let us consider, for
instance, what lines of work he may attempt, keeping only to those which
require no previous training and no skill.

He hears of these openings from other boys; he has heard of such
openings all his life. For instance, he would very much like to enter
the service of the City of London, as one of the boys whose business it
is to keep the streets clean. You may see these boys, in a red uniform,
running about among the horses and omnibuses in Cheapside; they are
always under the horses’ feet, but they never get run over; they are
active and smart lads; they seem to take a pride in doing their humble
work rapidly and thoroughly. They receive very good pay, which helps to
keep up their spirits—6_s._ 6_d._ a week, rising to 9_s._ or 10_s._ Even
better than this is the railway service, where a smart lad may very soon
get 9_s._ a week. He may then rise to the position of a railway porter.
Now, at the great London stations, in which the trains are coming in and
going out all day long, and every passenger with luggage is good for a
tip of threepence or sixpence, no one knows what the weekly earnings of
a railway porter may be. Things are whispered; nothing is known for
certain; the position, however, is recognized as one of the prizes in
the profession of the unskilled hand.

Then there are the factories—matches, jam, all kinds of factories—into
which, if a boy is fortunate enough to be taken, he may make at the
outset 5_s._ or 6_s._ a week. It is, however, generally felt that there
is a lack of interest about factory work. A much more enviable
occupation is that of a van boy, whose very simple duty is to sit behind
among the boxes and parcels, in order to take care that none of them are
stolen and that none drop off into the street. One is expected to assist
in loading and unloading, which means somewhat heavy work, but the
greater part of the day is spent in being pleasantly carried up and down
the streets of London and enjoying a moving panorama of the town in all
its quarters. There are great possibilities for the van boy; if he is
ambitious he may hope to become, in course of time, even driver of the
van, a post of real distinction and responsibility, with “good money,”
although the hours may be long.

Some boys, without taking thought for the future, jump at the post of
beer boy to a barge. It is attractive, it is light work, it is well
paid, but it leads to nothing. One would not recommend any young friend
to accept this post. Generally a barge is loaded and unloaded by one or
two gangs of men, seven in a gang. Each of these men pays the beer boy
twopence a day, so that if there are two gangs to the barge he will make
2_s._ 4_d._ a day, or 14_s._ a week, his simple duty being to carry beer
to the men at work from the nearest public house. The work seems easy,
but it requires activity; the gangs are thirsty, tempers are quick, and
cuffs are frequent.

This kind of errand situation is very easy to get; in every trade an
errand boy is wanted. I am surprised that no one has magnified the post
and preached upon the necessity, for the conduct of the internal trade
of the country, of the errand boy. As yet he has not found his prophet.
Thus a green-grocer is lost without his errand boys; a suburban
green-grocer in a flourishing way of business will have twenty boys in
his employ; every small draper, every shopkeeper, in fact, small or
great, must have his errand boy—but this is a post reserved for older
lads. Some one must carry round the things; it is the boy who has
learned no trade; the carriage of the basket is the first use to which
he puts his unskilled hands. I believe that five shillings a week is the
recognized pay for the situation. In one way or another, however, the
boy finds some kind of place and begins to earn a living.

As a rule, these boys live well. For breakfast they have bread and
butter and tea, with a “relish,” such as an egg or a piece of bacon; at
twelve they take their dinner at one of the humbler coffee-houses which
abound in the streets of East London; it consists of more bread and
butter and tea, with half a steak and potatoes. For tea they go to
another coffee-house; they can get two thick slices of bread for a
halfpenny each; butter or jam costs another halfpenny; a cup of coffee
costs a halfpenny, or a whole pint may be had for a penny. In the
evening their favorite supper is the dish familiarly known as “ha’porth
and ha’porth”—that is, fish and potatoes at a halfpenny each. So far
their life is healthy, with plenty of work and plenty of food, and, in
most cases, strong drink is neither desired nor taken. The craving for
drink comes later. The dangerous time of life is the age when the boy
passes into manhood. Then the simple meals at the coffee-house no longer
suffice. Then it becomes necessary to have beer, and beer in
ever-increasing quantities. Then the boy grows out of his work; he
becomes too big to carry beer for the bargees or to go round with the
newspapers, or to sit at the back of the van, or to carry about cabbages
in a basket.

What is he to do next?


[Illustration: East London Loafers.]


There are, even for a grown man, many situations which demand no
training and no apprenticeship. In all the warehouses, in the great
shops, in offices of every kind, there are wanted men to fetch and
carry, to load and unload, to pack and unpack. In the docks there are
wanted troops of men to load and to unload. In the markets and on the
railways there are wanted men to carry and to set out the goods. In
every kind of business servants must be had to do that part of the work
which requires no skill. Unfortunately the supply is greater than the
demand. There are many lads who get into the service of companies,
railways, or factories, and remain in steady work all their working
lives in the same employment. There are, on the other hand, a great
number who have to hang about on the outskirts of regular work, who are
taken on in times of pressure and find it difficult to get work when
times are slack; these are the men who become the casual hands; these
are the men who hang about the dock-gates and loaf round street corners.

The process of degeneration by which the promising lad sinks into the
casual hand is easy to follow.

The work, whatever it may be, is finished at half-past six or seven. The
lads have, therefore, like the factory girl already considered, four or
five solid hours every evening to get through. The other day I was
looking through some statistics of work in the eighteenth century. It
then began at six, sometimes at half-past five; it left off at eight in
the evening, with the exception of those trades which could not be
carried on by the light of tallow candles. The people went to bed before
ten. The time for supper, rest, and recreation was therefore reduced to
two hours. There was no Saturday afternoon holiday. All through the
pre-Reformation time there had been a Saturday half-holiday, because
Saturday was reckoned as the eve of a saint’s day, and every eve of an
important saint’s day was a half-holiday. The Reformation swept away
this grateful respite from work. Therefore, except for Sunday, the
craftsman’s working-day was practically the whole day long.

We have changed these long for shorter hours; the people have now a long
evening to themselves and the Saturday half-holiday, as well as Sunday.

Consider what this means to a lad of sixteen, one of the riverside lads.
He has, we have seen, no books and no desire for reading; a free library
offers no attractions to him; he has no study or pursuit of any kind; he
does not wish to learn anything; and he has four hours, perhaps five, to
get through every evening, except Saturday, when he has nine hours, and
Sunday, when he has the whole day—say sixteen hours. In every week he
has actually forty-five long hours in which to amuse himself as best he
can. What is that boy to do? He must do something which brings with it
excitement and activity; his blood is restless; he knows not what he
wants; it is an age which has its ideals, and his are of the heroic
kind, but too often of a perverted heroism.

A few of them, but in proportion very few indeed, belong to the boys’
clubs which are scattered about East London. They are the fortunate
boys; they contract friendships with the young men—gentlemen always—who
run the club; they can learn all kinds of things if they like; they work
off their restlessness and get rid of the devil in the gymnasium with
the boxing-gloves and with the single stick; they contract habits of
order and discipline; they become infected with some of the upper-class
ideals, especially as regards honor and honesty, purity and temperance;
the fruits of the time spent in the club are seen in their after life;
these are the lads who lead the steady lives and become the supporters
of order and authority. A few again, but very few, get the chance of
polytechnic classes and continuation schools, but these things are
mostly above the riverside folk. Here and there a class is formed and
taught by ladies in one or other of the minor arts, such as
wood-carving, in which the lads quickly take great delight.

Setting aside these, what becomes of all the rest?

They have the music-hall; there are half a dozen music-halls in which
the gallery is cheap; they go to one of these places two or three times
a week in winter; they have the public house, but these lads are not, as
a rule, slaves to drink so early in life; their own lodgings are not
inviting either for comfort or for rest or for society. They have,
however, the street.

It is the street which provides the casual hand; it is also the street
which produces the drunkard, the loafer, the man who cannot work, the
man who will not work, the street rough, the street sneak, and the
street thief. The long evening spent in the street nourishes and
encourages these and such as these of both sexes.

It is of course the old story—the abuse of liberty. We shorten the hours
of work, and we offer nothing in the place of work, except the street;
we leave the lads, whom we thought to benefit, to their own devices, and
to discover, if they can, the way to turn the hours thus rescued from
drudgery into a means of climbing to a higher life. We leave them, even,
in complete ignorance as to any higher life at all. Their own idea of
employing their idle time is to do nothing, to amuse themselves, and, as
the street is the only place where they can find amusement for nothing,
they go into the street.

They begin by walking about in little companies of two and three; by way
of asserting their early manhood the boys smoke cheap cigarettes,
called, I believe, “fags”; also, by way of asserting their own
importance—no one knows the conceit and vanity of lads of fifteen and
sixteen, the age between the boy and the man—they occupy a great deal of
the pavement, they hustle each other, regardless of other people; they
get up impromptu fights and sham fights; they wrestle; they make rushes
among the crowd; they push about the girls of their own age, who are by
no means backward in appreciating and returning these delicate
attentions; they whistle and sing, and practise the calls of the day and
the locality. A very favorite amusement, in which they are joined and
assisted by the girls, is to get up a little acting in dumb show; some
of them are excellent mimics. I have, for instance, read more than once
in the columns of temperance organs or the letters of philanthropists,
tearful or indignant, most melancholy accounts of precocious drunkenness
among the boys and girls of East London—that poor East London! “I have
seen,” writes the visitor to Ratcliffe and Shadwell, “with my own eyes,
boys and girls, quite young boys and girls, reeling about
drunk,—actually drunk, hopelessly drunk,—the girls, poor creatures,
worse than the boys. I spoke to one. She was no more than thirteen or
so—a pretty child, but helplessly intoxicated. When I spoke to her she
tried to reply, but became inarticulate; she gasped, she laughed—the
awful laugh of a drunkard! She made a gesture of helplessness, she fell
sideways on the pavement, and would not rise. Her companions, as far
gone as herself, only laughed. A sad sight, truly, in a civilized
country!”

A very sad sight, indeed! This observer, however, did not understand
that the personation of drunken people is one of the favorite amusements
of the boys and girls in the evening streets. They have every day
opportunities of studying their subject. A life school exists in every
street, and is thrown open every night, and the fidelity with which
every stage of drunkenness is represented by these young actors would be
remarkable even on the boards of Drury Lane. Had the indignant writer of
that letter known so simple a fact his pity and his wrath would have
been reserved for a more worthy object.


[Illustration: The “Hooligans.”]


Acting and running and shouting are amusing as far as they go, but they
are not enough. The blood is very restless at seventeen; it wants
exercise in reality. This restlessness is the cause of the certain
street companies of which the London papers have recently spoken with
indignation. They are organized originally for local fights. The boys of
Cable Street constitute themselves, without asking the permission of the
War Office, into a small regiment; they arm themselves with clubs, with
iron bars, with leather belts to which buckles belong, with knotted
handkerchiefs containing stones—a lethal weapon—with sling and stones,
with knives even, with revolvers of the “toy” kind, and they go forth to
fight the lads of Brook Street. It is a real fight; the field is
presently strewn with the wounded; the police have trouble in putting a
stop to the combat; with broken heads, black eyes, and bandaged arms,
the leaders appear next day before the magistrate.

The local regiment cannot always be meeting its army on the field of
glory; the next step, therefore, to hustling the people in the street is
natural. The boys gather together and hold the street; if any one
ventures to pass through it they rush upon him, knock him down, and kick
him savagely about the head; they rob him as well. In the autumn of last
year (1899) an inoffensive elderly gentleman was knocked down by such a
gang, robbed, kicked about the head, and taken up insensible; he was
carried home, and died the next day. These gangs are the modern Mohocks;
South London is more frequently favored with their achievements than the
quarter with which we are here concerned; they are difficult to deal
with because they meet, fight, and disperse with such rapidity that it
is next to impossible to get hold of them. It is an ugly feature of the
time; it is mainly due to the causes I have pointed out, and it will
probably disappear before long. Meantime, the boys regard the holding of
the street with pride; their captain is a hero, as much as the captain
of the Eleven at a public school.

Sometimes they devise other modes of achieving greatness. A year or two
ago half a dozen of them thought that it would be a good thing if they
were to attend Epsom races on the Derby Day, the great race of the year.
One can go to Epsom by road or rail; the latter is the cheaper and the
easier way, but the more glorious way is to go by road, as the swells
go. They hire a carriage and pair, and get a luncheon hamper from
Fortnum and Mason’s, and pay for a stand on the hill—the thing can be
done for about £25. These boys thought to emulate the swells; they would
drive to Epsom. They therefore helped themselves to a baker’s horse and
light cart, and, all in the gray of the morning, drove the whole way in
the greatest glory to the race-course. Arrived there they sold the horse
and cart to a Gipsy for three pounds, and spent the day in watching the
races, in betting on the events, and in feasting. When the glorious day
was over and their money all gone they found an outhouse near the
common, and there lay down to sleep, intending to walk home in the
morning. Now, the baker, on discovering his loss, had gone to the
police, and the police, remembering the day and suspecting the truth,
for the lads’ thirst for sport was well known, telegraphed to Epsom; the
horse and cart were recovered, and in the middle of the night the boys
themselves were found. They did return to town in the morning, but not
as they left. It was in the roomy vehicle commonly called “Black Maria”
that they were taken to the police court, and from the court to the
Reformatory, where they still languish.


[Illustration: Sunday Gambling.]


The boys are great gamblers. As gambling and betting are strictly
forbidden in the streets, they have to find places where they can play
undisturbed. Sunday is the day devoted to gambling. The boys get on
board a barge, where they sit in the hold and play cards—locally called
“darbs”—all day long; sometimes they find an empty house, sometimes a
room in a condemned row of crazy tenements. The favorite game, the name
of which I do not know, is one in which the dealer holds the bank; he
deals a card to every player and one to himself. Each player covers his
card with a stake, generally a penny: the cards are turned up; the
players pay the dealer for cards below, and are paid for cards above the
dealer’s card. It is quite a simple game, and one in which a boy may
lose his Saturday wages in a very short time. They also play “heads and
tails,” and they are said to bet freely among each other.

At this period of their career some of them begin to read a good deal.
Not the newspapers, not any books; their reading is confined to the
penny novelette; for them Jack Harkaway performs incredible feats of
valor; it is not for them that the maiden of low degree is wedded by the
belted earl—that is for the girls; for these lads, to whom a fight is
the finest thing in the world, the renowned Jack Harkaway knocks down
the wicked captain on the quarter-deck, rescues a whole ship’s company
from pirates, performs prodigies at Omdurman. His feats are described in
the amazing sheets which he calls “ha’penny bloods” or “penny
dreadfuls.” If the boys buy a paper it is one of like mind, such as are
written and printed especially and exclusively for him.

They go often, I have said, to the music-hall; there are three or four
in their own quarter—the Paragon, Mile End Road; the Foresters,
Cambridge Road; and the Queen’s, Poplar. But they go farther afield, and
may be found in the galleries of even West-End music-halls to see a
popular “turn.” As for concerts and lectures and entertainments given at
the Town Hall or other places, they will not go to them. There is too
much “class.”

At this time, namely, at sixteen or seventeen, the boys commonly take a
sweetheart; they “keep company” with a girl; night after night they walk
the streets together; what they talk about no one knows, what vows of
constancy they exchange no man hath ever heard or can divine; they take
each other, the boy paying when he can, to the music-hall or to the
theater; they stand drinks—it is at this period that the fatal yearning
for drink begins to fasten itself upon the lad. The “keeping company” is
perhaps a worse evil than the growing thirst for drink; it ends,
invariably, in the early marriage, which is one of the most deplorable
features in the lower life; the young girl of sixteen or seventeen,
ignorant of everything, enters upon the married life, and for the rest
of her days endures all the wretchedness of grinding poverty, children
half-nourished and in rags, a drunken husband and a drunken self. The
boys’ clubs, the girls’ clubs, the settlements, of which I shall speak
again presently, do all in their power to occupy the young people’s
minds with other things; but the club closes at ten, and the street
remains open all night.

None of these street boys and girls—or very few, as I have said
already—are country-born; the country lads come up to London Town, to
the city paved with gold, in thousands, but they are older than these
children of the street; they have not learned the fascination which the
street exercises upon those who have always lived in it and always
played in it.

Their martial tastes should make them enlist, but the discipline forbids
enlistment. Many of them, however, belong to the Tower Hamlets Militia,
a regiment called out for drill for six weeks every year. They enjoy
sporting the uniform ; they like marching; they like the band and the
mess in barracks, but they cannot endure the discipline for more than
six weeks, even in return for the grandeur and the glory of the thing.

What, then, is the connection between the casual hand and the lads of
the street? This: the life of the street is an ordeal through which
these lads must pass, since we give them no other choice; some of them
emerge without harm; for them the craving for drink has not become a
demoniac possession; they have never been haled before the police court;
they know not the interior of prison or reformatory; they have not
married at seventeen; these are the young fellows who get, and keep,
permanent places with “good money,” they are hewers of wood and drawers
of water like the children of Gideon, yet they live not in the slums;
their homes are in the Monotonies; theirs is a four-or six-roomed house,
one of a row, one of a street, a flat in a barrack; their houses and
dwelling-places stand side by side miles around. But the life that is
led in these streets is not monotonous, because every man has his own
life and his own experience, his birth and childhood, his manhood and
his age, and these can never be monotonous.

There remain, alas! those with whom we began, the company of two or
three who hang around the corner outside the public house or lean
against the walls of the docks. They are the men whom the ordeal of the
street, more than any other cause, has broken down. They have emerged
from that ordeal with a confirmed habit of taking the Easy Way, that of
no self-restraint, that which temptation indicates with beckoning finger
and false smiles; at nineteen they have lost any possible joy of work,
pride in work, desire for work—they know not any work which can afford
the workman joy or pride; to them the necessity for work is an
ever-present curse which corrupts and poisons life. Were it not for this
cruel necessity they might pass through the allotted span with no more
effort and no more ambition than the common slug of the hedge.

Alas! work must be done if they would drink; they do not mind being
badly fed; it is wonderful to think of the small amount of solid food
they get, but they must drink. In their single room they have wife and
children, but they must drink; they hang about waiting for work, in the
hope that no work may come, yet that food will appear; they have neither
honesty, nor self-respect, nor any sense of duty or responsibility at
all. But they must drink.

What to do for, or with, these unfortunates is the most difficult and
the most pressing question of the slums. The only hope seems to be to
get hold of the boys and girls and to spare them, if possible, the cruel
ordeal of the street.

And meantime, while we look and while we talk, lo! the company has
melted away; the cold wind and the rain have fallen upon them; drink has
robbed them of their immunity; the infirmary ward holds them to-day;
to-morrow the pauper’s funeral will wind up the sum and story of their
sordid days.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  VII

                               THE ALIEN



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  VII

                               THE ALIEN


LONDON has always held out hands of toleration, if not of welcome, to
the alien. He has come to London from every part of Great Britain and
Ireland, and from every country of Europe. Under the Plantagenets the
country lad was as much an alien or a foreigner as the Hollander or the
German. To country lads and the continental alike London was the city
paved with gold. First came Saxon, Jute, and Angle; then came Dane; then
Norman; after these came Fleming, French, German. The German, indeed,
laid hands on our foreign trade and kept it for six hundred years;
whenever one of our kings married a foreign princess the Queen’s
countrymen flocked over in swarms, to pick up what they could. William
the Conqueror’s consort brought over the weavers from her own country;
when Eleanor of Provence married Henry III her people came with her,
especially the ecclesiastics, seizing on dignities and benefices from
the Archbishopric of Canterbury downward; when Queen Mary married Philip
of Spain the streets of London were filled with Spaniards; when Charles
I married Henrietta of France French priests, for the first time since
the Reformation, paraded the streets by scores, offending the Protestant
conscience. Italy and the South of France sent usurers with the pope’s
license to prey upon the land.

London was a city of refuge as well as a city where gold was to be
picked up in the streets. Many exiles have sought and found protection
within its walls.

The most important of these arrivals was that of the French Huguenots
after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. An immense number came
over; in one year 15,500 were relieved by the collection of a fund
amounting to £63,713. A large colony of 13,500 of them settled in
London, most of them in Spitalfields, at that time still a place of
fields. Here they introduced the industry of silk-weaving, very much to
the profit of the country and city of their adoption.

The next invasion of aliens was that of the unfortunate Palatines, in
the year 1709. The Palatinate had been devastated by the French; it was
a vast battle-field plundered during every incursion of the enemy; in
despair, the people abandoned their country; they flocked over to
England in companies and troops; the immigration continued for three
years, during which time thirteen thousand thrust themselves upon the
mercy of the City. A collection was made for them amounting to £22,038.
These people, who seem to have been agricultural rather than industrial,
contributed little to the population of London; three thousand of them
were sent to Ireland; to each of the provinces of North and South
Carolina six hundred were sent; to New York nearly four thousand, but
seventeen hundred died on the voyage, no doubt enfeebled by their
sufferings and privations before embarking; they seem not to have met
with favor in New York; many of them emigrated to Pennsylvania, where,
it is said, their descendants still preserve the memory of their origin.
Those who settled in London got their names Anglicized, so that they
were entirely absorbed and lost in the general population.

At the beginning of the French Revolution, when the madness of the
revolutionaries fell upon the priests and nobles, there was an immense
flight of the persecuted classes into England. They did not however, as
a rule, come to settle; as soon as circumstances permitted they returned
to France; some, however, remained; it is not uncommon to find families
descended from the _émigrés_ of 1792–93 who preserve the memory of their
former nobility, though they have long since abandoned all intention of
claiming a title which carries with it neither privilege nor property
nor honor.

The _émigrés_ formed during their stay small colonies in and about
London. One of them was at St. Pancras, in whose churchyard many of them
are buried; another was a little further out, five or six miles out of
the City, at Hampstead—the Roman Catholic chapel built for them still
remains; there were other small settlements, and many of them remained
in Westminster and in Soho. The hospitality offered them, the pity shown
to them, the maintenance granted to them by our government, the cordial
friendship extended to them by our people, were worthy of all praise.
Yet it was remarked, with some bitterness, that when these refugees were
enabled to return to their own country they ignored every obligation of
gratitude, or even courtesy, and actually refused to admit their old
friends of the English gentry to their salons in Paris. Partly, I
believe, this apparent ingratitude was due to their poverty, of which
they were ashamed.

Another political invasion of refugees was that of the Poles after their
abortive rising in the thirties; they, too were received by our
government with a generosity unparalleled. There were many thousands of
them. They were granted barracks to live in and a small pension to live
upon; both were continued as long as they lived; they must now all be
dead; some of them no doubt married here, and their children must now be
part of the general population. A few of the most foolhardy ventured
back again, to lead one more forlorn hope in another mad attempt at
rebellion, and to die unprofitable patriots by the Russian bayonet.

In our own time there has been—it is still going on—a considerable
influx of Russian, Polish and German Jews flying from the Judenhetze of
the continent. I will speak of them immediately.


[Illustration: Whitechapel Shops.]


Every year there is an immigration as from a barren and an unfertile
soil to a land of promise. The immense strides made by industrial
Germany during the last few years will probably check this immigration.
Hamburg, Berlin, not to speak of Antwerp and Rotterdam, also rapidly
growing centers of trade, will attract some of those who have been
accustomed to look toward London as the land of promise. At present
there appear to be about ten thousand new immigrants every year, without
counting those who purpose going on to America. They consist of
Russians, Poles, Germans, Dutch, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Belgians,
French, Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, Swiss—but we have gone through
the whole of Europe. I find no mention of Spain or Portugal or Turkey;
nor are there, so far as I have heard, any aliens hailing from the
smaller peoples—the Croats, Celts, Servians, or Bulgarians. What becomes
of this array? What has become of the hundred thousand who have come
over during the last ten years? Go up and down the streets of East
London—over the shop-fronts you will see everywhere German and Jewish
names, which seem to answer this question in part. Walk along the
Whitechapel Road on a Sunday morning; there you will see most of the
hundred thousand, there you will see the peaceful invaders who have
occupied a large part of East London and have achieved for themselves,
by dint of unconquerable patience and untiring work, a far better
livelihood, with a far higher level of comfort, than could have been
possible for them in their native lands. As for their children, you may
look for them in the Board-schools; they have become English—both boys
and girls: except for their names, they are English through and through;
they accept our institutions, laws, and customs; they rejoice with our
successes, they grieve with our misfortunes; never yet has it been known
that the second generation of the alien has failed to become English
through and through. I believe that our power of absorbing alien
immigrants is even greater than that of the United States.

The foreign element, with the exception of the Polish Jews, and that
only for mutual help and at the outset, does not seek to separate itself
and to create its own quarter. In the West End, it is true, there are
streets principally inhabited by Italians, French, and Swiss; that is
because the people are employed in the restaurants as waiters and cooks,
in the laundries, in the _charcuteries_ and provision shops, which exist
for the use of the foreigner. But their children will become English;
you may see them playing on the asphalted pavements outside the schools;
you fail to perceive any difference between the children of the German
waiter and those of the English working-man. There are thousands of
German clerks in London; they come over, some to stay, some to learn the
conduct and the extent of English trade and to take back with them
information about markets and prices and profits, which may be useful to
their friends of Hamburg and Altona. In either case they learn English
as quickly as they can, and live in the English fashion. Where, again,
is the French colony? There are thousands of French people in London,
but there is no French colony. There is a society of Huguenot families,
there is a French hospital, there are two or three French Protestant
churches, but there is no part of East London, or of any other quarter
of London, where we may find French the prevailing speech. There are,
again, a good many Dutch. Where are they? Some of them have a kind of
colony in Spitalfields, where they make cigars; as for the rest, they
are scattered. One may see some of them any Sunday morning in their
church, all that is left of the great church of the Augustine Friars; in
that old place a scanty congregation meets for service in the Dutch
language and after the Dutch use. It is pleasant to sit among them and
to look around upon the serious faces of the Hollanders, our former
rivals, and to make believe to listen to the sermon, which sounds so
much like English until you try to make out what it means. The feet of
these honest burghers rest upon the dust of many great princes and lords
and noble dames buried in the church of the Augustines, because it was
so holy a place that sepulture here was a certain passport through
purgatorial fires, without a stay in purgatory, to the gates of heaven.
Hither, on the day after the battle of Barnet, which practically ended
the Wars of the Roses, they brought, in the long, grunting country
wagons, the bodies of the lords and knights who fell upon the field, and
buried them within this church. That of Warwick the king-maker lay here,
the face uncovered, for some days, so that the people might be assured
of his death. But I doubt whether the Hollander cares much about the
bones of ancient nobles. There are also Swedes in East London, but the
only place where I have met them is in their church near St.
George’s-in-the-East, where you may see them any Sunday at the Swedish
service. They are a pleasant-looking race, with brown hair and blue
eyes; they appear to be largely composed of seafaring folk; one would
like to be able to converse with them. However, they have no quarter of
their own.

Of course, the most important foreign element in East London is that of
the newly arrived Jewish immigrants. They are the poorest of the very
poor; when they come over they have nothing. They are received by the
Jewish Board of Guardians, which is, I believe, a model of a
well-managed board; work is speedily found for them; their own people
take them on at the lowest wage at which life can be sustained until
they learn enough to move on and get higher pay. Their ranks are always
recruited by new arrivals; there is talk of their taking work away from
English workmen. Yet there seem to be no signs, as on the continent, of
a Judenhetze, or any such wide-spread, unreasoning hatred of the Jew as
we lately saw in France, and such as we have seen in Russia and in
Germany.

The newly arrived Jews have their own colony. It has much increased of
late years. They now occupy, almost to the exclusion of others, a
triangular area of East London—without a map it is not easy to make the
limits understood—north of the Whitechapel Road immediately without the
city limits: it has a base of nearly half a mile and an altitude of
three fourths of a mile. Here, for the time, the poorer Jews are all
crowded together. It is alleged that they have ingenious ways of
sweating each other; as soon as the Polish Jew has got his head a little
above water he begins to exploit his countrymen; he acquires the
miserable tenements of the quarter and raises the rent and demands a
large sum for the “key”—that is to say, the fine on going in.

These Jews all succeed, unless they are kept down by their favorite vice
of gambling. It is perhaps as well for their own peace that for the
first few years of their residence in London they should live in their
own quarter, among their own people. For the transformation of the poor,
starving immigrant, willing to do anything at any wage, to the
prosperous master workman is unlovely. He succeeds partly because he is
extremely industrious, patient, orderly, and law-abiding. But there are
other reasons. It is sometimes pretended that the Jew is endowed
naturally with greater intellectual power than is granted to men of
other nationality. This I do not believe. The truth seems to be that
advanced by Mr. Charles Booth, I think for the first time. “The poorest
Jew,” he says, “has inherited through the medium of his religion a
trained intellect.” This fact, if you consider it, seems quite
sufficient, taken with those other gifts of industry and obedience to
order and law, to explain the Jew’s success among the poorer classes
through which he works his way upward.

He is a person of trained intellect. What does this mean? Poor and
miserable as he stands before you, penniless, ragged, half-starved,
cringing, this man has been educated in the history of his own people,
in the most ancient literature of the world, in a body of law which
exercises all the ingenuity and casuistry of his teachers to harmonize
with existing conditions. It is like putting into the works of an
engineer, among the general hands, one who has been trained in applied
mathematics. Into any kind of work which means competition, the Jew
brings the trained intellect and the power of reasoning due to his
religious training; he brings also the habit of looking about for
chances and looking ahead for possibilities which long generations of
self-defense have made hereditary. These faculties he brings into the
market; with them he contends against the dull mind, untrained and
simple, of the English craftsman. What wonder if he succeeds? Nothing
but brute violence, which he will not meet with here, can keep him down.

This I believe to be the great secret of the Jew’s success. It is his
intellectual superiority over working-men of his own class. Observe,
however, that we do not find him conspicuously successful when he has to
measure his intellectual strength against the better class. In law, for
instance, he has produced one or two great lawyers, but not more than
his share; in mathematics and science, one or two great names, but not
more than his share. I am inclined to think that in every branch of
intellectual endeavor the Jew holds his own. But I doubt if it can be
proved that he does more. So long as we can hold our own in the higher
fields there will be no Judenhetze in this country. I am informed,
however, that the leaders of the people in London are persistent in
their exhortations to the new-comers to make themselves English—to make
themselves English as fast as possible; to send their children to the
Board-schools, and to make them English. It is the wisest advice. There
should be no feeling as of necessary separation between Jew and
Christian. We ought to live in amity beside each other, if not with each
other; we should no more ask if a man is a Jew than we ask if a man who
has just joined our club is a Roman Catholic or a Unitarian.

Yet, even in this country, it cannot be said that the Jew is popular;
there are prejudices against him which are no longer those concerning
his religion. Here, again, I turn to the authority who has made so
profound a study of the question; the importance of the question is my
excuse. This is how Mr. Charles Booth explains the dislike and suspicion
with which the Jews are still regarded by many: “No one will deny that
the children of Israel are the most law-abiding inhabitants of East
London.... The Jew is quick to perceive that law and order, and the
sanctity of contract, are the _sine qua non_ of a full and free
competition in the open market. And it is by competition, and by
competition alone, that the Jew seeks success. But in the case of the
foreign Jews it is a competition unrestricted by the personal dignity of
a definite standard of life and unchecked by the social feelings of
class loyalty and trade integrity. The small manufacturer injures the
trade through which he rises to the rank of a capitalist by bad and
dishonest production. The petty dealer suits his wares and his terms to
the weakness, the ignorance, and the vice of his customers; the
mechanic, indifferent to the interests of the class to which he belongs,
and intent only on becoming a small master, acknowledges no limit to the
process of underbidding fellow-workers except the exhaustion of his own
strength. In short, the foreign Jew totally ignores all social
obligations other than keeping the law of the land, the maintenance of
his own family, and the charitable relief of coreligionists.”


[Illustration: A Corner in Petticoat Lane.]


The place and time in which to see the poorer Jews of London collected
together is on Sunday morning in Wentworth Street and Middlesex Street,
Aldgate—the old Petticoat Lane. These streets and those to right and
left are inhabited entirely by Jews; Sunday is their market-day; all the
shops are open; the streets are occupied by a triple line of stalls, on
which are exposed for sale all kinds of things, but chiefly
garments—coats and trousers. There is a mighty hubbub of those who
chaffer and those who offer and those who endeavor to attract attention.
You will see a young fellow mounted on a pair of wooden steps,
brandishing something to wear; with eloquence convincing, with gesture
and with action, he declares and repeats and assures the people of the
stoutness of the material and the excellence of the work. The crowd
moves slowly along, it listens critically; this kind of thing may become
monotonous; the oratory of the salesman, in order to be effective,
continually requires new adjectives, new metaphors, new comparisons;
among the crowd are other professors of the salesman’s rhetoric. They
know the tricks, they have learned the art. One wonders how many such
fervid speeches this young man has to make before he effects a single
sale. We need not pity him, although at the close of the market his
voice is hoarse with bawling and the results are meager; he enjoys the
thing; it is his one day of glory, and he has admirers; he knows that
among the audience there are many who envy his powers and would fain
take his place and deceive the people.

Not all the holders of stalls are so eloquent. Here, before a miserable
tray resting on crazy trestles, stand a ragged old couple. They look
very, very poor; they cast wistful eyes upon the heedless crowd; their
wares are nothing but common slippers of bright red and blue cloth. Will
you buy a pair because the makers are so old and so poor? Alas! they
cannot understand your offer; their only language is Yiddish, that
remarkable composite tongue which in one place is a mixture of Russian
and Hebrew, in another of German and Hebrew, in another of Lettish and
Hebrew. They stare, they eagerly offer their wares; a kindly compatriot
from the crowd interprets. There is a little bargaining, and the
slippers are in your pocket. Very well. It is a piece of good luck for
the old pair; like unto him who had the splendid shilling “fate cannot
harm them; they will dine to-day.” True to their national instincts,
which are Oriental, they have made you pay three times as much for the
slippers as they would charge one of their own people. Going on slowly
with the crowd one admires the variety of the wares laid out on
trestles. Who wants these rusty iron things—keys, locks, broken tools,
things unintelligible? Somebody, for there is noisy chaffering.

You observe that the newly arrived Polish Jew is for the most part a man
of poor physique; he is a small, narrow-chested, pasty-faced person. “Is
this,” you ask, “a descendant of Joshua’s valiant captains? Is this the
race which followed Judas Maccabæus? Is this the race which defied the
legions of Titus?” “My friend,” replies a kindly scholar, one of their
own people, “these are the children of the Ghetto. For two thousand
years they have lived in the worst parts of a crowded city; they have
been denied work, except of the lowest; they have endured every kind of
scorn and contumely. Come again in ten years’ time. In the free air of
Anglo-Saxon rule they will grow; you will not know them again.”

It is among these new-comers that one recognizes the Oriental note;
there is among the women a love of bright colors; among the men, even
with the poorest, a certain desire for display; an assertion of
grandeur. Look at this little shop of one window on the ground floor. It
is crowded with girls. Outside the proprietor stands. He is not tall,
but he swells with pride; a large cigar is between his lips; it is a
sign and a symbol. His poorer countrymen look with envy upon that very
large cigar. He condescends to talk because he is so proud that he must
display the cause of his glory. “All the week,” he says, “I study what
to give them on Sunday. To-day it’s bonnets. Last Sunday it was fichus.
Next Sunday? That is my secret. My wife serves the shop. I furnish the
contents. All the week my son Jacob keeps it, but there is no trade
except on Sunday.”


[Illustration: A “Schnorrer” (Beggar) of the Ghetto.]


In a second-hand furniture shop, to which we have been directed, the
proprietor sits among his tables and chairs. He also has a large cigar
for the better display of his grandeur. He is conscious of the envy with
which the man who has a shop is regarded by a man who must work with his
own hands. This man has more—he has a father. You called on purpose to
see that father. You would like to see him? You are invited to step
up-stairs. There, in a high-backed chair, with pillows on either side,
sits a little shriveled-up creature. His eyes are bright, for he has
just awakened from the sleep which fills up most of the day and all the
night. Beside him is the Book of the Law in Hebrew. Upon the open book
there rests his pipe. Two girls, his great grandchildren, sit with him
and watch him. For the old man is a hundred and three years of age. Yet
he can still read his Hebrew Bible, and he can still take his pipe of
tobacco.

“Last night,” said one of the girls, “we carried him down-stairs into
the shop, and the people crowded round to see him. He drank a whole
glass of beer—in their sight.”

The patriarch nods and laughs, proud of the feat. He then talks about
himself. He was born in the Ghetto of Venice—you can see the place to
this day. His father came to London when he was a child. His occupation,
he tells us, was formerly that of cook. He was employed as cook for the
great banquets of the City companies; in that capacity he used to drink
as much wine as he wished to have, and in those days he wished for a
great deal. His lengthened years, therefore, are not due to abstinence
from strong drink. He was also a follower of the Ring, and was
constantly engaged as second or bottle-holder in the prize-fights so
common in the first sixty years of the century. He remembers what was
once considered a great political event, the committal of Sir Francis
Burdett to the Tower of London in 1808. Sir Francis was at the time a
leading Radical. He was afterward the father of Angela, Lady
Burdett-Coutts, a leader in the noble army of philanthropists.

We are not allowed to talk too long to this ancient and venerable
survival. After a quarter of an hour or so his watchful nurses dismiss
us, and he promises to see us again—“if I live,” he adds, with a sigh.
“If I live.” It is his constant refrain. He has outlived all his
friends, all his companions, all his enemies, all his contemporaries.
There is no pleasure left to him save that of being admired on account
of extreme old age. It is enough. It binds him to life; he would not
wish to die so long as that is left. “If I live,” he says.

For my own part, I like sometimes to sit in the synagogue on the Sabbath
and listen to the service, which I do not understand. For it seems to
explain the people—their intense pride, their tenacity, their separation
from the rest of the world. Their service—I may be mistaken; I have no
Hebrew—strikes upon my ears as one long, grand hymn of praise and
gladness. The hymns they sing, the weird, strange melodies of the hymns,
are those, they allege, which were sung when Israel went out of Egypt;
they are those which were sung when in the Red Sea the waters stood up
like a wall on either side to let them through; they are those which
were sung when Pharaoh’s hosts lay drowning and the walls of water
closed together. The service, the reading, the hymns, the responses—they
are all an assertion that the choice of the Lord hath fallen upon this
people; the Lord their God hath chosen them. Let no one speak of Jews
until he has listened to their service. By their worship the mind of a
people may be discerned.

I have already mentioned the settlement of the Huguenot silk-weavers at
Spitalfields—the fields behind the old hospital and monastery called St.
Mary’s. There they have remained. Until quite recently, they carried on
from father to son the trade of silk-weaving; there are silk-weavers in
Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. An attempt has been made to revive the
trade; meantime many of the old houses remain with their wide windows on
the first floor, and over the shops one may still see the French names,
or these names rudely Anglicized. But the French settlement no longer
exists; the French language has been forgotten, and the Huguenots are
completely absorbed. They are now like all the rest of us, a mongrel
blend of Celt, Saxon, Dane, Norman, Fleming, and everything else. It is
the Anglo-Saxon blend, or, as we ought rather to call it, the
Anglo-Celtic blend.

A small colony of Italians has settled in another part of London—not in
East London. You would know the colony, which does not belong to these
pages, if you were to stumble upon it accidentally, by the barrel-organs
in the courts, by the barrows on which the Italian costers carry round
their penny ices, by the bright-colored handkerchiefs and the black hair
of the women, and by the cheap Italian restaurants, where the colonists
can rejoice in Italian cookery and Italian wine.

In the West India Dock Road, before you reach the docks, there is a
building on the north side which contains a colony always changing. It
is the home of the Indian and Malay sailors—the Lascars and the Arabs. I
remember spending a morning there with one who was afterward murdered by
Cairene ruffians in the desert of Sinai. This man loved the place
because he loved the Oriental folk who lodged there, and because he not
only talked their languages, but knew their manners and customs, and
would sit with them after their manner, talk with them on their own
subjects, and become one of themselves. On this occasion he met a
certain poor Persian scholar down on his luck. He was a man of great
dignity and presence, insomuch that one realized the truth that in the
East clothes do not make the man. He was in rags, but he had lost
nothing of his dignity. It was pleasant to see them sitting down
together on the floor, side by side, discussing and quoting Persian
poetry, and still more pleasant to see the Persian quickly yielding to
the charm of a common love of literature and treating the infidel as a
friend and a brother. It is a strange place and full of strange people;
no one can understand how strange it is, how great is the gulf between
the Oriental and the Occidental, unless he can talk with them and learn
how they think and how they regard us. My friend interpreted for me,
afterward, something of what the Persian scholar had said. Colossal is
the pride of the Oriental; inconceivable the contempt with which he
regards the restless West.

             “Here as I sit by the Jumna bank,
                Watching the flow of the sacred stream,
              Pass me the legions, rank on rank,
                And the cannon roar and the bayonets gleam.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

          “When shall these phantoms wither away,
             Like the smoke of the guns on the wind-swept hill,
           Like the sounds and colors of yesterday;
            And the soul have rest and the air be still?”

Nearly opposite this house is a small street which contains the Chinese
colony. Compared with the Chinese colony of New York, part of which I
once visited, one sweltering night in July, that of London is a small
thing and of no importance. Yet it is curious. There are not, I believe,
more than a hundred Chinese, or thereabouts, in all; they occupy a few
houses in this street; there are one or two small shops kept by
Chinamen; it is considered quite safe to visit the place, at all events
in the daytime; I was myself taken there by one who was personally known
to the shopkeepers. There was not much that was attractive or
interesting offered for sale, except Chinese playing-cards, which are
curious; conversation in Pidgin-English is difficult at first, but one
quickly acquires enough of the _patois_. There is a boarding-house for
Chinese in the street; the ground floor we found furnished with a tiny
joss-house, in one corner, and a large table which occupied nearly the
whole of the room; the table was covered with Chinamen sitting and
sprawling; they were wholly absorbed in a little gamble with dominoes
and small Chinese coins; their absorption in the chances of the game was
complete. One of them, the banker, manipulated the dominoes; nobody
spoke; every time that a domino was turned there was the exchange of
coins in silence. The eager, intent faces were terrifying; one
recognized the passion which sees nothing, hears nothing, cares for
nothing, feels nothing, but the fierce eagerness of play. We looked on
for five minutes. No one spoke, no one breathed. Then I became aware
that in a room, a cupboard at the back, there was a fire, with a great
black pot hanging over it and a man with a spoon taking off the cover
and stirring the contents and inspecting the progress of the stew.
Presently he came out, ladle in hand, and bawled aloud, but in Chinese.
I took his bawling for an announcement of dinner. But none of the
players heard; the banker turned up another domino; there was another
exchange of coins; no one heeded the call.

Yet it was the dinner-bell; down-stairs came chattering, laughing, and
joking, half a dozen of the boarders, each with a basin in his hand. The
cook filled every man’s basin, and they went up-stairs again, and none
of the players marked them or heeded them, or turned his head, and none
of the boarders took the slightest notice of the players. Nobody
meanwhile paid the least attention to the joss-house, where burned the
candle which is said to be the Chinaman’s sole act of worship. And
nobody took the least notice of the stranger who stood at the door and
looked on.

Across the road, in another house, was an opium den. We have read
accounts of the dreadful place, have we not? Greatly to my
disappointment, because when one goes to an opium den for the first time
one expects a creeping of the flesh at least, the place was neither
dreadful nor horrible. The room was of fair size, on the first floor; it
was furnished with a great bed, covered with a mattress; there was a
bench against the wall, and there were half a dozen common cane chairs.
Two men were lying on the bed enjoying the opium sleep, perhaps with the
dreams that De Quincey has described—but one cannot, even the thought
reader cannot, read another man’s dreams. A third man was taking his
opium by means of a long pipe. Half a dozen men were waiting their turn.
One of them had a musical instrument. Except for the smell of the place,
which was overwhelming, the musical instrument was the only horror of
the opium den. When I think of it I seem to remember a thousand
finger-nails scratching the window, or ten thousand slate-pencils
scratching a schoolboy’s slate. It is one of those memories which sink
into the brain and never leave a man. Nor can I understand why, under
the weird and wonderful torture of the intolerable music of that
instrument, even the sleepers themselves did not awake, their dreams
dissipated, their opium, so to speak, wasted and rendered of none
account, and fly, shrieking, forswearing forever opium and the Chinese
quarter.

There are small colonies and settlements of other foreigners. Anarchists
make little clubs where murders are hatched, especially murders of
foreign sovereigns; they think to overthrow a settled government by the
assassination of a king; they succeed only in adding one more to the
anxieties and the dangers that accompany a crown. There are Orleanists,
Bonapartists, Carlists, and I know not what, who carry on their little
intrigues and their correspondence with partizans in France and Spain
and elsewhere, with a great show of zeal and much promise of results—the
day after to-morrow. But with these we have nothing to do. It is enough
for us to note the continual immigration into London of aliens who
become in a few years English in manners, and in the next generation are
English in speech and in thought, in will, as in manners. As it was in
the days of Edward I, when the men of Rouen, the men of Caen, the men of
the Empire, the Venetian, the Genoese, the Fleming, the Gascon, the
Spaniard, the Hamburger, from every part of western Europe came as
merchants to trade, and remained to settle. So it is in the days of
Victoria. They come to the banks of the Thames by thousands every year,
and they come to stay, and they are content to be absorbed.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  VIII

                             THE HOUSELESS



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  VIII

                             THE HOUSELESS


AT the present moment nearly all those parts of East London which are
inhabited by working-men of all kinds, from the foreman and the engineer
and the respectable craftsman in steady employ at good wages down to the
casual and the dock-hand and the children of the street, are suffering
from a dearth of houses. In this vast labyrinthine maze of streets—all
houses—there are not enough houses. The people are willing to incur
discomfort; a respectable household, accustomed to the decencies of life
and the wholesome separation of their children from themselves and from
each other, will consent to pack them all into one room, or into a
work-man’s flat of two rooms in a “model” barrack; they are ready to
offer double the former rent, with a tremendous premium on the “key,”
but still there are no houses and no lodgings to be had even on those
terms. The rents of the lowest tenements are mounting daily; there seems
to be no limit in the upward tendency; the landlord is no longer
doubtful as to the increased rent he can demand; the rise is automatic,
it goes on without any stimulus or grinding on his part. A single room,
in some quarters, is the very best that can be hoped for; the rent of
that room, which was formerly from three to four shillings, is now six
or more, while the charge for the “key,”—_i.e._, the fine on taking the
room,—which was formerly a few shillings, is now a pound or even more.

Meantime, although they are willing to pay the high rents, people are
everywhere found wandering in search of lodgings. A workman who has
found employment must be within easy reach of his work; if he cannot
find lodgings, what is he to do? The workhouse authorities have in some
cases risen to the occasion. They agree to take in a man’s wife and
family and to keep them at a fixed charge until the breadwinner finds a
lodging. He himself seeks a fourpenny bed at a “doss” house—_i.e._, a
common lodging-house.

In some parts it is reported that the overcrowding has actually led to
the letting, not of rooms, but of beds; the children are put to sleep
under the bed; men on night duty hire the bed for the day; nay, it is
even said that beds are divided among three tenants, or sets of tenants.
Of these one will occupy it from ten in the evening till six in the
morning, another from six in the morning till two in the afternoon, and
a third from two until ten. This Box and Cox arrangement would present
difficulties with the children.

The situation, which has been growing worse for a long time, has now
reached that acute stage in a social problem when it can no longer be
neglected by statesmen or by philanthropists. Attention, at least, has
been called to the evil—papers are read, articles are written, speeches
are made; so far we have got little farther than an understanding of the
difficulties which are such as to seem fatal to any proposed remedy that
has been yet advanced. For my own part, I have no views except a
conviction that something must be done, and that without delay, and that
the best that can be done will only be the least dangerous of many
proposed experiments.

The subject may appear technical and dry, but it is impossible to speak
of work-a-day London without touching on the difficulty of housing the
people. A speaker at a recent meeting took exception to the phrase
“housing of the people.” He said, which is quite true, that the people
are not cattle. We are not, yet we must be housed whether we are rich or
poor, or only middling. I am, myself, housed indifferent well, but I
feel no comparison with an ox or a cow when I am told so.

The facts of the case were first ascertained by a commissioner for the
“Daily News,” and published in that paper early in 1899. The work was
carried out by Mr. George Haw, a resident in one of the new settlements.
The reader who wishes to consider the subject from every point of view
is referred to the volume in which Mr. Haw has reprinted his valuable
papers.

It is not probable that the difficulties which any one populous city has
to encounter have no lesson to convey to other cities, though the
circumstances in each case must vary with the conditions of site,
access, and many other considerations. Overcrowding in New York or in
Boston would certainly present many features differing widely from those
in London. Moreover, the remedy or the alleviations which would serve in
one case might be impossible in another.

The principal causes operating to produce this overcrowding are
three—the vast and rapid increase of population, the extraordinary
development of new industries in East London, with a consequent demand
for more labor, and the flocking of country lads into the town.

For instance, there are two places, both lying outside the limits of the
London County Council, which twenty or thirty years ago were mere
villages or rural hamlets, the churches standing among market gardens
and fields, having still their great houses and gardens, the residence
of City merchants who drove in their own carriages to and from their
offices. One of them, called East Ham, I remember, a quarter of a
century ago, as a village spread about on a large area, as if land had
no value. It was a flat expanse, fertile, and lying close to the Thames
marshes. The map of that time shows farms and farmhouses, almshouses,
and a few cottages. This place has now a population of ninety thousand,
increasing every day, and consisting entirely of the working-class.

Its neighbor, formerly also a village a little nearer London and called
West Ham, presents on the map of 1891 the aspect, familiar to the
growing suburban town, of a small central area covered with streets, and
with new streets running out north, south, east, and west. It is quite
obvious from the map that West Ham was destined to be rapidly built
over. It is now a huge town of two hundred and seventy thousand people,
also, like East Ham, entirely consisting of working-people. It was at
one time a place much loved by Quakers; evidence of their occupation
still remains in certain stately old houses, now let out in lodgings;
their gardens are built over; the character of the place is changed; the
streets are crowded with people; trains and omnibuses run about all day;
one of the Quaker’s gardens still survives; it belonged to a member of
the Gurney family; the house has been pulled down, but the lordly garden
is kept up and the grounds around it have become the park for the West
Ham folk. The quickened demand for lodgings has caused the whole of this
town to be overrun with streets of small workmen’s houses, containing
four or six rooms each, most of which are let to families by two rooms
or by single rooms. But the demand still continues; by-streets are run
across, narrow lanes usurp the small backyard or little slip of garden;
when the whole available space is built over, what will happen next? The
crazy condition of these jerry-built houses, after a few years, opens up
another and a different set of questions. The case of West Ham
represents only on a more rapid scale what has been going on for many
years over the whole of industrial London. And now we seem at last to
have arrived at an end to the accommodation possible on the old method
of small houses and narrow streets.


[Illustration: East and West Ham.]


[Illustration: East and West Ham, from the Marshes.]


The results of the overcrowding are, as might be expected, deplorable in
the extreme. Among other evils, it kills the infants; it dwarfs those
who grow up among its evil influences; it poisons the air; it deprives
the house of comfort, of cleanliness, of decency; it drives the man to
drink; and it makes the life of their unhappy wives one long-continued
misery of hopeless battle with dirt and disease. The late Sir Benjamin
Richardson would allow, in his “City of Health,” no more than
twenty-five persons to an acre; in some of the outlying suburbs of
London there are no more; in others there are, or have been, actually as
many as 3000 people crowded together over a single acre of ground. Put
them up all together in a solid square; each person will take 2 feet by
1½ feet—that is, three square feet. The whole company of 3000 will stand
on 9000 square feet, or 1000 square yards. This is about a fifth of an
acre, so that if we spread them out to cover the whole of the acre each
person will have no more than a square yard and a half in which to
stand, to sleep, and to breathe.

Of course, the first effect of the overcrowding is the vitiation of the
air. The extent of this vitiation has been ascertained by chemical
analysis. But, indeed, the senses of sight and smell do not require the
aid of chemical analysis in order to prove that the air is corrupt and
unwholesome. It is poisoned by the breathing of so many; by the refuse
that will always be found lying about where a multitude of people are
massed together; by all the contributions of all the unwashed. Sometimes
the kindly rains descend and wash the pavements and the roads; sometimes
the fresh breeze quickens and drives out the malodorous air from the
narrow streets, but wind and rain cannot enter into rooms where the
occupants jealously keep the windows closed, and fear cold more than
they fear the fetid breath of diphtheria and fever; the wind drops; the
warm sun comes out; then from the ground under and between the stones,
from the saturated road, from the brick walls, from the open doors, the
foul air steals back into the street and hangs over the houses
invisible, yet almost as pestilential as the white mist of the morning
that floats above the tropical marsh.

The magnitude of the evil may be estimated by the fact that nearly a
million people have to live in London under these conditions. A whole
million of people are condemned to this misery and to the moral and
physical sufferings entailed—the degradation of decent women, the death
of children who might have grown up honest and respectable men and
women! A whole million! We cannot think in millions; the magnitude of
the number conveys no impression as to the magnitude of the evil. We can
only realize it by taking a single case. Let us take the case of A. B.
and his family. He was by trade a mechanical engineer; perhaps they
called him a fitter, but it matters nothing; he was a decent and a sober
man; he had a wife and five children, the eldest of whom was twelve and
as “likely” a girl as one would see anywhere—but they were all likely
children, clean and well kept and well fed and well mannered, the pride
of their mother. The man had employment offered him in some works. It
was absolutely necessary for him to live near his work. He broke up,
therefore, his “little home”—they all delight in making a “little
home”—and brought his children to live in the overcrowded quarter near
his work. After a great deal of difficulty he secured one room. It was
no more than ten feet square; in that room he had to pack all his
children and his wife and all his effects. There was simply no room for
the latter; he therefore pawned them; it would be only for a time, a few
days, a week or two, and they would find a house, or at least better
lodgings. Imagine, if you can, the change. This unfortunate family came
from a decent flat of three rooms, in which the two boys slept in the
living-room, the three girls in one bedroom and the parents in the
other. They had on the staircase access to a common laundry; the roof
was the place for drying the clothes; it was also a place where on a
summer evening they could breathe fresh air. In place of this flat they
had to accommodate themselves in a single small room. This had to
contain all their furniture; to be at once the common bedroom,
living-room, kitchen, wash-house, drying-room, dressing-room—think of
it! There was, however, no choice. They pawned most of their “sticks”;
they brought in nothing but absolute necessaries; they had a large bed,
a table, a cupboard, two or three chairs, some kitchen things, and a
washtub—little else. And so, uncomplaining, they settled down. It would
only be for a week or two. Meantime, the rent of this den was 6_s._
6_d._ a week, and a pound for the “key.”

Outside, the pressure grew worse; the more the factories flourished, the
more hands were wanted; new houses were run up with all the speed and
all the scamping of work that a jerry-builder could provide, but still
the pressure grew. For the man his home brought no comfort; he was not a
drinking man, but he began to sit in the public house and to spend his
evenings talking; his children could not sit at home; they ran about the
streets; the eldest girl, who was so pretty and had been so sweet, began
to assume the loud talk and rowdy habits of the girls around her; on the
unfortunate woman lay the chief burden of all. She toiled all day long
to keep things sweet and clean; alas! what can be done when seven people
have to sleep in a room with little more than a thousand cubic feet of
air between them all? She saw her husband driven away to the public
house, she saw her children losing their bright looks and their rosy
cheeks: what could she do? Many of the women around her, giving up the
struggle, went in and out of the public house all day. This woman did
not. But she was no longer the neat, clean housewife amid her clean
surroundings. The stamp of deterioration was upon her and upon the
others.

Then the summer came, with a week of hot weather to begin with, and the
foundation of the house asserted itself; the house, you see, was built
upon the rubbish of the dust-cart. You do not believe it possible? I can
show you whole streets in the suburbs which I have myself seen built
upon the rubbish of the dust-heap. It contains, among other things
useful and beneficial to the occupants, quantities of cabbage stumps and
other bits of vegetable matter. So when the hot weather came the cabbage
stumps behaved accordingly; the foul air from the foundations crept
through the floors and crawled up the stairs and poured under the doors.

First it was sore throat, then it was something else, and from house to
house it was spread, and the doctor came and went, and in the broad bed
of the little room lay four children sick at once; their soft, white
skins were hard and dry and red; their brains wandered; the mother, with
haggard face, bent over them.

It is all over now; three of the children lie in the new cemetery; the
man has got a house at last; he will not get back his children, nor will
the two who are left to him ever be again what they once were. This is
one story out of the thousands which may be told of the people who live
in the crowded quarters.

Another cause of overcrowding springs from the bad building of the
workmen’s houses. It is not only the foundation that is rotten: the
house itself is built of bad brick laid in single courses, the woodwork
is unseasoned and shrinks, zinc is used instead of lead, the stairs are
of matchboard—only the cheapest and worst materials are used. There are
laws, there always have been laws, against bad building; there are
inspectors, yet the bad building continues. A man who had been an
apprentice in the building trade told me how this surprising result of
our laws and our inspectors used to be possible twenty-five years ago.
“It is this way,” he said; “I was a boy when these houses were built.
For a house like this it was £15 to the inspector; for one of the
smaller houses it was £10.” We must not believe it possible for such a
thing to happen now; one’s faith in human nature would suffer too severe
a blow, but when one looks around in certain quarters that little
transaction between the honest builder and the faithful inspector recurs
to my unwilling memory.

In course of time authority interposes. The houses are condemned. Out go
the people, with their sticks, into the street; the houses are boarded
up, the boys throw stones at the windows; the place is deserted. But
where are the people to go?

There is a riverside parish entirely inhabited by the lowest kind of
working-people, chiefly dock laborers and casuals and factory girls.
There are literally no inhabitants of a higher class, except the clergy
and a few ladies who live and work among the people. There was until
recently a population of eight thousand in this parish. But street after
street has been condemned; the houses, boarded up, their windows broken
by the boys, stand miserably waiting to be pulled down; the parish has
lost three thousand of its population. Where have they gone? Nobody
knows; but they must go somewhere, and they have certainly gone where
the rents are higher and the crowding worse.

Or the London County Council, becoming aware of the insanitary condition
of a whole area, condemns it all, _en bloc_, takes it over, pulls down
the miserable tenements and erects new buildings in their place. Nothing
could be better; everybody applauds this vigorous action. Yet what
happens? I will show you from a single example.

There is an area of fifteen acres in Bethnal Green, one of the worst and
most overcrowded parts of London. It contains twenty streets, all small;
there were 730 houses, and there were 5719 people. About a third of this
army lived in tenements of one room each; nearly a half lived in
tenements of two rooms. This area has been entirely cleared away; the
London County Council turned out the people, and built upon the site a
small town whose streets are fifty feet wide, whose houses are five
stories high; water and gas are laid on, workshops are provided, there
are only thirty one-room tenements, there are only five hundred of two
rooms, and so on; the rent of the two-room tenements is six shillings a
week; the center of the area is occupied by a circular terraced garden.
Nothing could be better. Moreover, to crown all, the cost of the whole
will be repaid to the ratepayers by means of a sinking fund spread over
sixty years.

BUT—what became of the five thousand while these fine palaces were being
built? Did their condition improve? Or did it become worse during the
period of construction? They were turned out; they had to go somewhere;
they imposed themselves upon districts already overcrowded, their habits
most certainly grew more careless and more draggled, their condition
most certainly grew worse. How many of the five thousand will come back
to the old quarters and enter upon the civilized life offered to them? I
know not; but the experience is that the former occupants do not return.

London in all directions is now thickly planted with the huge, ugly
erections called model lodging-houses, workmen’s residences, and
barracks. South London, across the river, is especially rich in these
erections. Drury Lane, the historic Drury Lane, once the home of Nell
Gwynne, the site of the National Theatre, accommodates a vast number of
people in its barracks; it is favored also with two playgrounds for the
children; both are disused burial grounds—one of them is the burial
ground in “Bleak House.”

Opinions vary as to the success of these buildings. Their advantages at
first sight appear overwhelming. Step out of a Drury Lane block into one
of the courts beside it and a dozen advantages will immediately be
perceived by all your senses at once. It is a great thing to be clean if
you like cleanliness; to have a sanitary house if you like fresh air; to
have conveniences for washing if, unlike Dr. Johnson, you prefer your
linen to be clean. But there are certain losses about the block
building. I do not say that they are greater than the gains. It has
always been the instinctive desire of the Englishman to have his own
home, to himself, separate. It is a survival of the early Anglo-Saxon
custom when each family formed a settlement to itself. The working-man
would like to have his cottage and his bit of garden, and to enjoy his
own individuality apart from the rest of the world. In the block he
loses this distinction; his family is one of fifty, of a hundred; his
children are part of a flock, there is no more distinction among them
than in a flock of sheep. There are great dangers attending the loss of
the individual; it tends to destroy ambition, to weaken the power of
free thought, to injure the responsibility of self-government. This loss
is a very great danger among a people whose whole history illustrates
the value of a sturdy assertion of self, of personal independence, of
responsibility, and of a continual readiness to revolt against any
encroachments of authority. For these reasons many regard the barrack or
block system with suspicion and dislike.

Other reasons there are which make these flats unpopular, even though
they continue to be in great request. They are defects which might be
managed by the exercise of a little organization. But it has not yet
occurred to the managing bodies of these barracks that the tenants who
are intrusted with the votes for the government of the country might
also very well be intrusted with the government of their own dwellings.
Thus it is complained that a whole staircase is sometimes terrorized by
two or three roughs, that there are quarrels and drunken brawls on the
stairs at night, that there are continual disputes concerning the day
for using the laundry, that the stairs are not kept clean, that the
children see and hear and learn things which they should not—but then
the children of the streets learn things which they should not; I fear
we cannot keep the children from the tree of knowledge. The presence of
drunken rowdies, the objection of many to take their share in cleaning
the stairs, and other scandals of the kind ought all to be remedied or,
at least, attacked by the formation of committees of order composed of
the tenants themselves. I have long been of opinion that the real remedy
of most of the abuses of our streets and slums would be the organization
of the respectable inhabitants into committees of order and the
banishment of the police. Such committees in our barrack dwellings
should have power of ejectment against evil-doers; they should be their
own police.

It is characteristic of the Salvation Army that they sometimes attack a
rowdy staircase in their own way by sending two girl lieutenants to take
a flat and live there, setting an example of cleanly and orderly life,
and bringing round the women to a better mind. I have heard that their
success in this work has been marked, and I am prepared to believe it.
At the same time, the committee would be a permanent police, while the
appearance of the girls can only be occasional and only temporary.

Another result of the barrack life—one which the working-man himself
does not perceive—is that the children grow up slow of sight, not
short-sighted, but slow of sight. They have nothing to exercise their
eyes upon; in the country there are a thousand things; children are
always looking about them for the birds, the creatures, the flowers, the
berries; in the barracks their playground is an asphalted pavement, with
the high houses for boundary walls; there is nothing to look at. When
they are taken out for a day in the country, once or twice a year, they
see in a bank of flowers only a breadth of color, such as a
house-painter might spread; it takes time for them to discern the
flowers and the grasses which produce the pleasing effect; one bird is
to them the same as another; they are not quick enough to catch the
rapid flight of the swallow. One tree is the same as another; they do
not discern differences of shape or color in the leaf or in the bough. A
few summer days in the country cannot give to that child the training of
sight which the country-bred child receives every time it goes out into
the open.

Here, then, are the facts of the case: overcrowding, with results most
dangerous to the community, and the principal causes—increase of
population, rapid development of industries, the necessity of being near
the work, the condemnation of insanitary streets and areas. There remain
the remedies proposed. We have seen that the erection of blocks, while
it provides decent accommodation for a vast number of working-men, turns
out a large number into the streets to find what accommodation they can.
Obviously, therefore, the further extension of this method would result
in far worse overcrowding. The housing in big barracks has also, it has
been seen, its own dangers.

We come, next, to the proposal which seems to meet with the greatest
amount of favor. It is the creation and erection of industrial villages
within easy reach of town—say not more than twelve miles out. The
railways would have to sell cheap workmen’s tickets; the villages should
consist of three- or four-roomed cottages, each with a scullery and a
garden. There should be a common garden as well; there should be no sale
of drink in any of the villages; there should be in each a coöperative
store; the rent of a cottage ought not to exceed three shillings a week.

This is the proposal advanced by General Booth of the Salvation Army
(“Darkest England,” p. 210).

It is announced (“Times,” February 20, 1900) that the London County
Council is about to ask of Parliament an increase of its powers, so that
it may buy up land beyond its own limits, with a view of erecting some
such industrial villages. We must therefore wait to see the result of
this new experiment. We may be quite certain that it will prove to bring
with it dangers and evils at present unsuspected, but I think that the
gains will be greater than the losses. The country village will be as
much better than the barrack as the barrack is better than the narrow
and stinking court.

It is hoped that when the advantages of living in the country are
understood the men will not mind living at a distance from their work.
At the same time, the experiment must be on a very large scale, and if
it fails will prove very costly. Objections are taken to the
municipality acting as builder and landlord; it is urged that private
companies might take up the question; but the experiment made by a
private company, if it fails, costs the whole capital advanced by
private persons, whereas if the experiment of the County Council fails
it will be only the loss of the ratepayers’ money. Whatever is done must
be done quickly; mischiefs incalculable are inflicted upon the children
by the present overcrowding. To neglect it is to make the evils far
worse. The remedy requires a great mind and a clear vision and unlimited
powers. As yet little practical attention has been paid to the cry of
the houseless and the rack-rented, and to the sobs of the children
poisoned physically by the air, corrupt and vitiated, which they have to
breathe; poisoned morally by evil companionship, starved and cabined
mentally for want of light and air and sunshine, for want of the breeze
among the trees and the grass of the meadows and the flowers of the
field and the creatures of the air and of the hedge.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   IX

                             THE SUBMERGED



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   IX

                             THE SUBMERGED


THE word “submerged” likes me not. I have endeavored to find or to
invent another and a better word. So far without success. The word must
define the class. It is the unhappy company of those who have fallen in
the world. There are many levels from which one may fall; perhaps there
are many depths into which one may fall; certainly I have never heard of
any depth beyond which there was not another lower and deeper still. The
submerged person, therefore, may have been a gentleman and a scholar, an
officer, a prodigal; or he may have been a tradesman, or a working-man,
or anything you please; the one essential is that he must have stepped
out of his own class and fallen down below. He is a shipwrecked mariner
on the voyage of life, he is a pilgrim who has wandered into the dark
and malarious valleys beside the way. We have read in the annals of
luckless voyages how those who escaped with their lives wandered along
the seashore, living by the shell-fish they could pick up, moving on
when there were no more mussels, huddled together at night in the
shelter of a rock for warmth. We know and are familiar with their tales
of misery. As these shipwrecked mariners on the cold and inhospitable
coast, so are the unfortunates whom we call submerged; in a like misery
of cold and starvation do they drag on a wretched existence.

They have no quarter or district of their own; we come upon them
everywhere. In the wealthy quarters there are courts and alleys, lanes
and covered ways, where they find shelter at night; they slouch along
aimlessly, with vacant faces, in the most fashionable streets; they
stand gazing with eyes which have no longer any interest or expression
upon a shop-window whose contents would provide a dozen of them with a
handsome income for life; in the warm summer evenings you may see them
taking up their quarters for the night on the seats outside St. James’s
Park; if you walk along the Thames embankment you will see them sitting
and lying in corners sheltered from the wind; they seek out the dry
arches if they can find any, happy in the chance of finding them; they
sit on door-steps and sleep there until the policeman moves them on;
wherever a night watchman, placed on guard over an open excavation,
hangs up his red lamp and lights his fire in the workman’s grate you
will find one or two of the submerged crouching beside the red coals;
the watchmen willingly allow them their share of warmth and light. If
you are walking in the streets late at night you will presently pass one
of them creeping along looking about for a crust or a lump of bread.
Outside the Board-schools, especially, these windfalls are to be found,
thrown away by the children; it is a sign that food is cheap and work is
abundant when one sees lumps of bread thrown into the gutter. These are
the gifts of fortune to the submerged; the day has brought no jobs and
no pence, not even the penny for a bare shelter with the Salvation Army;
fate, relentless, has refused to hands willing to work—perhaps
unwilling, for the submerged are sometimes incapable of work; like their
betters, they have nerves. But in the night under the gas-lamps there
are the gifts of the great goddess, Luck—the children’s lumps of bread
lying white in the lamplight on kerb or door-step.

Or, again, if you are in the streets early in the morning, at the hour
when the cheap restaurants set out upon the pavement their zinc boxes
full of the refuse and unspeakable stuff of yesterday, you will find the
person submerged busy among this terrible heap; he finds lumps of food,
broken crusts, bones not stripped clean; he turns over the contents with
eager hands; he carries off, at last, sufficient for a substantial meal.

One would hardly expect to find history occupying herself with a class
so little worthy of her dignity. Yet have I found some account of the
submerged in the eighteenth century. They did not prowl about the
streets at night nor did they search the dust-box in the morning,
because there were no crusts of costly wheaten bread thrown away, and
there were no dust-boxes. But they had their customs. And the following
seems to have been the chief resource of the class.

There were no police walking about the streets day and night; there were
night watchmen, who went home about five in the morning; then for an
hour, before the workmen turned out on their way to the shops, the
streets were quite deserted and quiet. At that hour the submerged had
their chance; they were the early vultures that hovered over the City
before the dawn; they went out on the prowl, carrying lanterns in the
winter; they searched the streets; where the market carts had passed
there were droppings of vegetables and fruit, there were bones thrown
out into the streets, there were things dropped; drunken men were lying
on door-steps, stretched out on the pavement between the posts, or
propped up against the walls; the night watchmen paid no attention to
these common objects of the night, the helplessly drunk; they cleared
out their pockets of money no doubt, otherwise they left them. But the
prowlers, after another investigation of the pockets, carried off
everything portable—hat, wig, neck-tie, ruffles, boots, coat,
everything. The cold air quickened the recovery of the patient; when he
came to his senses and sat up he was ready to repent, not in sackcloth,
but in shirtsleeves. Later on in the day the prowlers inveigled children
into back courts, stripped them of their fine frocks, cut off their long
curls, and so let them go. Or they lay in wait for a drunken man and led
him carefully to some quiet and secluded spot, where he could be
stripped of all. But the submerged of George III were a ruder and a
rougher folk than those of Queen Victoria.


[Illustration: Salvation Army Shelter.]


The submerged do not, as a rule, give trouble to the police, nor are
they a terror to the householder; they do not rob, they do not brawl,
they do not get up riots, they do not “demonstrate,” they endure in
quiet. Their misery might make them dangerous if they were to unite; but
they cannot unite, they have no leader, they have no prophet; they want
nothing except food and warmth, they accuse nobody, they are not
revolutionaries; they are quite aware—those of them who have any power
of thought left—that no change in the social order could possibly
benefit them. They live simply, each man clothed with his own misery as
with a gaberdine. And they know perfectly well that their present
wretchedness is due to themselves and their own follies and their own
vices. They have lost whatever spirit of enterprise they may once have
possessed; in many cases long habits of drink have destroyed their power
of will and energy.

Many causes have made them what they are. As many men, so many causes.
They cannot be reduced to a class; they come from every social
station—many of them are highly educated men, born of gentle-folk, some
of county families, some of the professional classes. Their tale of woe,
if you ask it, is always the lamentation of the luckless; it should be
the lamentation of a sinner. Incompetence, especially that kind of
incompetence which belongs to an indolent habit of mind and body; the
loss of one situation after another, the throwing away of one chance
after the other, the shrinking from work either bodily or mental, which
grows upon a man until for very nervousness he is unable to do any work;
the worn-out patience of friends and relations, drink—always drink;
dismissal which involves the loss of character, the habit begun in
boyhood of choosing always the easier way; sickness, which too commonly
drives a man out of work and sends him on to the streets in search of
casual jobs; crime and the gaol—all these causes work in the same
direction; they reduce the unfortunate victim to the condition of
hopelessness and helplessness which is the note of the submerged.

I think that where the case is one in which the former social standing
was good the most common cause is loss of character. This does not mean,
necessarily, the taint of dishonesty. It means, in many cases, simply
incompetence. How shall a clerk, a shop assistant, find another place
when he can only give reference to a former employer who can say nothing
in his praise? He goes down, he takes a worse place with lower pay, he
continues in his incompetence, he is again dismissed. He falls lower
still. In any country it is a terrible thing for a young man to lose his
character; it is fatal in a country where laborers of his kind, at the
only work he can do, are redundant; while men with good character can be
obtained, who will employ a man without a character? For such a man it
would seem as if a new country—a new name—were the only chance left for
him. He tries the new country. Alas! Incompetence is no more wanted
there than at home. If, as sometimes happens, such an one yields to the
temptation that is always before the penniless and falls into crime, it
is no longer a descent along the familiar easy slope; it is a headlong
plunge which the unfortunate man makes, once for all, into the
Male-bolge of the submerged.

I was once in a London police court looking on at the day’s cases which
were brought up one after the other before the magistrate. The drunk and
disorderly came first; these were soon dismissed; indeed, there is a
terrible monotony about them; the reporters do not take the trouble even
to listen or to make a note of them unless the prisoner is a man of some
note. Then followed the case of a young man, apparently four- or
five-and-twenty years of age. He was described as a clerk; he was
dressed in the uniform of his craft, with a black coat and a tall hat;
it was the cold, early spring, and he had no overcoat or wrapper or
collar or neckerchief of any kind, and he was barefooted. The sight of
him filled one with a kind of terror. Now, the face of that poor wretch
told its own story; it was a handsome face, with regular features, light
hair, and blue eyes. As a boy he must have been singularly attractive;
as a child, lovely. But now the face was stamped and branded with the
mark of one who has always followed the Easy Way; his weak mouth, his
shifting eyes, the degradation of what had once promised to be a face of
such nobility and beauty, proclaimed aloud his history. I could see the
boy at school who would do no more work than he was obliged to do; the
young clerk at five shillings a week, who would do no more than he was
bidden, and that without intelligence or zeal; the lad rising, as even
the junior clerk rises, by seniority; the billiard-room, the public
house, the wasted evenings, the betting, the evil companions, the
inevitable dismissal for incompetence, the difficulty of finding another
place, the influence of friends not too influential, the second
dismissal, the tramp up thousands of stairs in search of a vacant desk
where character was not required, borrowing of small sums, with faithful
promises of repayment, the consequent loss of friends, the alienation
even of brothers, the inevitable destitution, the pawning of all but the
barest necessaries of clothes, even at last parting with his boots—all
this was revealed by the mere aspect of the man. He was charged with
stealing a pair of boots to replace those which he had pawned. There was
no shame in his face; the thing had come at last which he had felt
coming so long. It was not shame, it was a look of resigned
hopelessness; he was become the foot-ball of fate, he was henceforth to
be kicked about here and there as fate in her gamesome moods might
choose. Practically there was no defense; he had nothing to say; he only
shook his head; the magistrate was lenient because it was a first
offense. Leniency in such a case is only apparent, though the magistrate
means well, for a fortnight in prison is as ruinous for the rest of a
man’s life as a twelvemonth. So he stepped out of the dock, and
presently the wheels of Black Maria—sometimes called the Queen’s
omnibus—rolled out into the street with the day’s freight of woe and
retribution.

I met this poor creature afterward; I came upon him carrying a pair of
boards; I stumbled over him as he sat in the sun in St. James’s Park,
monumental in shabbiness; I met him once or twice shambling about the
Embankment, which was his favorite boulevard—a place where no work can
be picked up, and for that reason, I suppose, dear to him. London is a
very big city, but such men as this have their haunts; they are too weak
of will to wander far from the way of habit; it requires an effort, a
moment of energetic decision, to change his daily walk from the
Embankment to the Strand. I never saw him, except on that one occasion
when he was a sandwich man, doing any kind of work; I never saw him
begging; I never saw him in a shelter at night; I know not how he lived
or how, if ever, he procured a renewal of his rags when they fell off
him. Presently it occurred to me that I had not seen him lately. I
looked about for him. By this time I took an interest in the case; had
he asked me for money I should have given him some, I dare say. Why not?
The indiscriminate giving of alms is, one knows and has been taught for
years, a most mischievous thing; but in this case money will not lift a
man out of the slough, nor will it plunge him deeper; give him money and
he will devour it; refuse him money and he will go on just in the same
way. But I have never seen him since, and I am sure that in some
workhouse infirmary he lay lingering awhile with pneumonia, which
carries off most of the half-fed and the ill-clad, and that he died
without murmuring against his fate, resigned and hopeless. I dare say
that those who composed his limbs in death admired the singular beauty
of the face. For lo! a marvel—when the debased soul, which has also
debased the face, goes out of the body, the face resumes the delicacy
and the nobility for which it was originally intended.

Another case of a submerged. I knew something of the man, not the man
himself. He began very well; he was clever in some things; he could play
more than one instrument, he was a companionable person; he got into the
civil service by open competition very creditably; for some ten or
twelve years he lived blamelessly. It was known by his friends that he
was always thirsty; he would drink large quantities of tea for
breakfast; he drank pints of cold water with his pipe. Presently his
friends began to whisper—things. Then openly there were said—things.
Then I was told that A. A. had been turned out of his place, and that
meant a good many—things. For certain reasons I was interested in the
man. One evening in July I strolled in St. James’s Park after dinner;
the air was balmy; the benches of the park were nearly full. I found a
vacant seat and sat down. Beside me was a youngish man; by the light of
the gas-lamp I observed that the brim of his hat was broken, and that in
other respects rags were his portion. He entered into conversation by a
question as to some race-horse, to which I pleaded ignorance. He then
began to talk about himself. It was, as I have said above, the
lamentation of the luckless. “One man,” he said, “may steal a pig,
another may not look over the garden-wall. I, sir, am what I am; in
rags, as you see; penniless, or I should not be here; tormented by
thirst, and no means of procuring a drink. I, sir, am the man who looked
over the garden-wall.” He went on; suddenly the story became familiar to
me; he was the man of whose decline and fall I had heard so much.

He had not abandoned his grand air, for which he was always
distinguished. I offered him a cigar. He examined it critically. “A
brand of this kind,” he said, “I keep in tea for three years.” He lit
it. “A gentleman,” he reminded me, “is not lowered by bad luck, nor is
he disgraced by having to do work belonging to the service—the menial
service. The other day I was a sandwich man—in Bond Street. I met my
brother face to face. I have a brother—” the poor man is a member of the
Travelers and a few other clubs of that kind. “He will do nothing for
me. At sight of me he winced; he changed color. Do you think I flinched?
Not so, sir. The disgrace was his; he felt it.” And so on; he was
instructive. I believe his friends shipped him off somewhere.

Some of the submerged contrive to make their own livelihood; they are
even able, as a rule, to take a bed at the Sixpenny Hotel. One of these
institutions has, indeed, the credit of being the chosen haunt of the
brokendown gentlemen. Here they are all broken down together; to meet
here, to cook their own suppers, to rail at fortune like kings deposed
is an agreeable diversion. At least they talk with each other in the
language to which they are accustomed. And there is always something
about the manner of the brokendown “swell” which distinguishes him from
those of lower beginnings. There is something of the old gallantry left;
he does not sit down and hang a head and moan like the poor bankrupt
small trader; so long as the sixpence is forthcoming he is not unhappy.

It is a strange company; they were once soldiers, sports-men, billiard
players, betting men, scholars, journalists, poets, novelists,
travelers, physicians, actors. One of the submerged of whom I heard had
been a reader of some learned language at one of our universities;
another was a clergyman—not, if the story about him was true, quite
admirable professionally; both these gentlemen, however, found it best,
after a time, to exchange the Sixpenny Hotel for the workhouse, where
they are at least free from the anxiety about the sixpence.

One more illustration of the submerged who has been a gentleman. I met
him once, only once. It was in Oxford Street; he was standing before the
window of a very artistic and attractive shop—a china and glass shop.
The window was most æsthetically “dressed”; it contained, besides
Venetian glass and other glass of wondrous cunning and beauty, a small
dinner-table set out with flowers, glass, silver plate, costly china of
new design, some white napery, and those pretty little lights—called
fairy lights—which were a few years ago fashionable.

The man was unmistakably a gentleman; his dress betrayed his extreme
poverty ; his boots showed a solution of continuity between the upper
leather and the sole; his closely buttoned coat was frayed, his round
hat was broken, apparently he had no shirt; he certainly had no collar;
his red cotton handkerchief was tied round his neck; the morning was
cold and raw, a morning in November. Evidently, a gentleman. The poor
wretch was looking at the dinner-table; it reminded him of mess nights,
of dinner parties, of clubs, of evenings abroad and at home, before he
fell; of what else did that dinner-table remind him—of what light
laughter and music of women’s voices, while as yet he was worthy to sit
among them? One knows not. He was absorbed in the contemplation of the
table; as he gazed his face changed strangely; it went back, I know not
how many years; it became the face of a hawk, the face of a man keen and
masterful. How did he fall? How came the look of mastery and command to
go out of his face?

I spoke to the man. I touched him on the arm; he started; I pointed to
the fairy lights; “Do you remember,” I asked him, “when those things
came in?” “It was about ten years ago,” he said, without hesitation.
Then the present moment reasserted itself. He became again one of the
submerged. “Lend me half a crown,” he said. “On Monday morning I will
meet you here, and I’ll return it.” On the following Monday morning I
repaired to the china and glass shop. My friend, however, had forgotten
his appointment. Faith in my own expectations would have been shaken had
he kept it. I have only to add that he took the half crown as one
gentleman accepts, say, a cigar, from another. “Thanks, thanks,” he
said, airily, and he moved away with the bearing of one who is on his
way to his club. It was pleasant to observe the momentary return to the
old manner, though the contrast between the rags and the manner
presented an incongruity that could not pass unobserved, and I regret to
this day that I did not invite him to a chop-house and to a statement
from his own point of view as to the turning of fortune’s wheel.

I have said that the submerged do not, as a rule, give much trouble to
the police. They may have had their lapses from virtue, their
indiscretions, but they are not habitual criminals. The way of the
latter, so long as he keeps out of prison, is much more comfortable; for
transgressors the prison in which they pass most of their time is hard,
but the intervals of freedom are often times of plenty and revelry. The
submerged have no such intervals. The common rogue is generally a brazen
braggart, while the submerged is timid and ashamed. Of course, too, it
is by no means a common thing that he has been a gentleman; in East
London there are over ten thousand of the homeless and the wanderers,
loafers, and the casuals, with some criminals. I have before me twelve
cases investigated by an officer of the Salvation Army. The men belonged
to the following trades: confectioner, feather-bed dresser, tailor,
riverside laborer, sawyer, distiller, accountant in a bank, builder’s
laborer, plumber’s laborer, carman, match-seller, slater. Out of the
twelve, one, you see, had been a gentleman. The cause of destitution was
variously stated: age—it is very difficult in some trades to resist the
pressure of the young; cataract in one eye; inability to find work,
though young and strong; cut out by machinery; last place lost, by his
own fault—an admission reluctantly made and not explained; arm withered;
brought up to no trade, and so on.

As for their attempts to get work, the odd job appears to be the most
common, if the most hopeless. It will be seen from the cases given above
that the men can no longer get work at their own trades; now, they know
no other; what, then, are they to try? One cannot expect much resource
in an elderly man who has been making confectionery all his life, when
he has lost his place and his work; nor in a feather-bed dresser, when
feather-beds are no longer made. The former can do nothing in the world
except make sugar plums according to certain rules of the mystery; the
latter can do nothing but “dress” feather-beds. The ignorance and
helplessness of our craftsmen outside their own branch of work are
astonishing. So that the run after the odd job is explained. There is
nothing else for them to try. A great many working hands are dock
laborers, and fight every day for the chance of being taken on; but a
man advanced in years, with the sight of one eye gone or with a withered
arm—what chance has he of getting employment?

Sometimes they try to sell things—boot-laces and useful odds and ends.
But capital is wanted, a few shillings that can be locked up, and the
returns are deplorable. Sometimes they try matches; the man with the
“box o’ lights” is busy on Sundays and holidays outside the railway
station or at the stopping places of omnibus or tram; I believe that
threepence or so represents the average daily profit to be made in this
branch of commerce. A few try to sell newspapers, but they are cut out
by the boys who run and bawl and force their “specials” on the public.
Newspaper selling in the streets is only good when one has a popular
“pitch.” For instance, at Piccadilly Circus, where the stream of life
runs full and strong, a news-vender must do very well, but such
“pitches” are rare. Sometimes they offer the latest novelty out for one
penny. The trade in “novelties” depends on the attractiveness of the
wares; they must be really novel to catch the eye, and they must seem
desirable. The principal markets for the penny novelties are the kerb of
Broad Street and that on the north side of Cheapside. There is generally
a new “novelty” every week, and the ingenuity, the resource, the
invention of the unknown genius who provides it are beyond all praise.
When he hits the popular taste you may see the dealers selling their
pennyworths as fast as they can lay them out on their trays. Sometimes
there is a “frost”; the novelty does not “catch on.” Then the poor
dealer loses his little capital, and what happens to the inventor no one
knows.

It is recorded of a certain collector, who spent his whole life in
making a collection of the penny novelties, that at his death his
museum, his life’s work, was sold for the enormous sum of £12. I suppose
he might have found comfort in the reflection that there are a great
many men whose whole life’s work would not fetch as many pence. But his
soul must have felt a certain amount of dejection after so busy a
pursuit—and one covering so many years—to find it valued at no more than
£12. How many poets, novelists, preachers, journalists, could get as
much as £12 for their contributions to literature? After all, he was
above the average, this collector.

One would think that journalism would offer chances to the submerged.
Here, at least, is a door always wide open. I know of one case in which
a man just let out of prison met with a singular piece of good luck; he
was a man whose character was hopelessly gone, and could never be
retrieved, who had committed frauds and cheats innumerable upon all his
old companions, whose friends had long since plainly told him that
nothing, nothing more would be done for him, and that no mercy would be
shown him in case of further frauds. The day came when he was released
from prison; he stood outside and looked up and down and across the
road; he saw a stony-hearted world; amid this multitude of people there
was not one single person to whom he could turn for help; it was a cold,
gray morning; he had concocted several little schemes of villainy in his
cell; now, in the open air, he realized that they were hopeless; prison
had somewhat reduced his strength of mind; he felt that just then he
could not sit down and work out any one of his schemes; he saw no
prospect before him but that of a casual loafer in the streets,
submerged for life.

He turned to the east; he wandered away, he knew not where; he had a
small sum of money in his pocket, enough for a short time. After that,
the slouch along the streets.

Suddenly he came upon a street scene, a short, quick, dramatic scene
enacted in a few minutes. It fired his imagination; he saw a chance; he
bought paper and pen at a stationer’s shop; he went into a coffee-house,
called for a cup of coffee and the ink, and wrote a descriptive paper on
that scene; when it was done he took it to the office of a great daily
paper, and asked to see one of the subeditors. His paper was read and
accepted; he was told that he might bring more; he did bring more; he
became one of the staff; he was presently sent abroad on the business of
that paper. I do not know whether he thought fit to tell the editor
anything about his own record. Well, the man ought to have become one of
the submerged; but, you see, he was a scholar and a man of imagination;
he had been engaged, it is true, in frauds, and was morally hopeless and
corrupt through and through, but he had not lost his power of will; he
had had no experience of the disappointments and the step-by-step
descent which rob the submerged of his energy and his resource. The
example only proves that journalism opens its doors in vain for the
ordinary submerged who has lost his grasp of realities.

For those who are strong enough to walk about the streets at an even
pace for a great many hours a day the sandwich offers a tolerably safe
means of living. Remember, however, that your truly submerged very
often, by reason of age and infirmities,—some physical weakness
generally appears after a time to aggravate the misery,—cannot undergo
the fatigue of carrying the boards all day. If, however, the strength is
there the work can generally be found at a shilling or one shilling and
twopence a day. It is work which entirely suits any man who has left off
trying. At the same time, it is a help to the young man who for the
moment may be down on his luck. For the former it means simply the
fatigue of walking about for so many hours on end. It is interesting to
walk slowly along the pavement while the single file of sandwich men
pass along, one after the other. They never talk, there is no exchange
of jokes, they never chaff the workmen or the girls or the lads or the
drivers who threaten to run over them; on the other hand, no one chaffs
them; they are by common consent held sacred, as men in the world but
not of the world. Some of them carry a pipe between their lips, but
merely as a habit; it is an empty pipe; there is no speculation in their
faces; they manifest no interest in anything; there may be a police row
and a fight, there may be a horse down, the sandwich man pays no
attention; he looks neither to the right nor to the left; the show that
he advertises is not for himself; the wares exposed in the shop-windows
are not for him to buy; the moving panorama, the procession of active
and eager life along which he marches is nothing to him; he takes no
longer any interest in anything; he is like the hermit, the anchorite,
the recluse—he is dead to the world; he is without friends, without
money, without work, without hope; his mind has nothing to occupy it; he
thinks of vacant space; he walks in his sleep; he is comatose; if he
lifts his eyes and looks upon the world it must be in wonder that his
own figure is not in its proper place, its old place—it ought to be
there. Why is it not? How did he get into the gutter, one of a line in
single file, with a board in front of him and a board behind him?
Newsboys shout their latest; the shops light up till every street is a
fairyland of brightness; the carriages go up and down. To all the sights
around him, to the meaning of the show and to the dance of life, which
is so often the dance of death, the sandwich man remains indifferent. He
has nothing left of all the joys and toys and dreams and vanities of the
world; the past is a blurred memory on which he will not dwell if he can
help it; there is no future for him, only the day’s tramp; the shilling
at the end of it; fivepence will give him warmth, light, a bed, and a
modicum of food; eightpence, or, if he is lucky, tenpence, must find him
food, drink, and tobacco for the following day, with some means of
keeping the mud and water out of his boots.


[Illustration: Sandwich-men.]


A small contingent of the submerged is formed by the men who, not being
habitual and hardened criminals, have been in prison and have not only
found employment difficult and even impossible in consequence of a
misfortune which many worse than themselves escape, but have returned to
the world broken down by the terrible discipline of an English prison.
The prison receives a man; it turns out a machine, an obedient machine,
as obedient as the dog which follows at heel: it obeys cowering; the
machine has no self-respect left, and no power of initiative; the prison
bird can only henceforth live in a cage where he is not called upon to
earn his livelihood or to carry on a trade. I know little about prisons
in other countries, but I doubt whether any system has ever been
invented more effective in destroying the manhood of the poor wretches
who are subjected to its laws than the prison system of Great Britain.
There is no sadder sight imaginable than the reception of a released
prisoner by the Salvation Army Refuge for these unfortunate men. Every
day their officer attends at the prison doors at the hour of discharge,
and invites the men, as they come out, to the refuge. They come in dazed
and pale; the light, the air, the freedom, the absence of the man of
authority with the keys—all together make them giddy; they are received
with a welcome and a handshake which make them suspicious; they are
invited to sit down and take food; they obey with a shrinking readiness
which brings a flush of shame to the spectator’s face. See; after a
little they push the plate away; it is solid food—they cannot take it;
they have been so long accustomed to gruel that a plate of meat is too
much for them; they can neither eat nor talk; they cannot respond even
to kindliness; they cannot understand it; the man—the lost manhood—has
to be built up again. The Salvation Army’s Helping Hand rescues some; it
fails with some; even where it fails, some good effect must be left in
their minds by the show of friendliness and kindness.

The best place to find the submerged is at one of the shelters of the
Salvation Army. Here they give for fourpence a large pot of coffee, tea,
or cocoa, with a hunch of bread; it is probably the best meal that the
men have had that day; the fourpence also entitles them to a warm and
well-lighted room with benches and tables, the means of getting a good
wash and a bed. For a smaller sum the accommodation is not so good.
Every evening the shelters are quite full; every evening there is held
that kind of service, with addresses, prayers, and the singing of hymns,
which is called a Salvation Meeting. Well, the men feel, at last, that
they are with friends; the lasses with the banjos and the tambourines,
the men in the jerseys who speak to them—these are not making any money
out of them, they are working for them, they are taking an immense
amount of pains entirely on their behalf; I cannot but believe—indeed, I
know—that among this poor wreckage of society their efforts meet with
the kind of response that is most desired.

Or, if you can get so far out, there is Medland Hall by the riverside at
Ratcliffe. It was formerly a Dissenting chapel; it is now a free
lodging-house. No one pays anything; there are bunks ranged in lines
over the floor—they are rather like coffins, it is true; these bunks are
provided with mattresses, and for sheet and blanket with American cloth,
which can be easily kept clean. I believe that bread is also provided.
An effort is made to find out a way of helping the men to work; the
likely young fellows are sent to the recruiting sergeants; some
connection has been formed with the railway companies for men young and
strong.

The casual ward is a place to which no one will go if he can possibly
avoid it. This refuge will only receive the actual destitute, those who
have no money at all; their rations of food are light, to say the least.
The allowance for young and old, strong and weak, is the same—for
breakfast, half a pound of gruel and eight ounces of bread; the same for
supper; for dinner, eight ounces of bread and an ounce and a half of
cheese; for drink, cold water. The casual is put into a cell by himself
and there locked up; in the morning, when he ought to be out and looking
for work, he is detained to do stone-breaking or oakum-picking—half a
ton of stone-breaking or four pounds of oakum, a task so heavy that it
takes him the best part of the day, and he is lucky if he is not
detained as a punishment for another night and day, with a corresponding
increase in the task imposed upon him.

One would like to take some of the permanent officials of the Local
Government Board and set them to the same work _on the same food_. What
is the man’s crime? Poverty. There may be other crimes which have
reduced him to this condition of destitution, but no questions are
asked. It is poverty, poverty, nothing but poverty, for which this
treatment is the punishment. I once visited a casual ward; it was, I
believe, Saturday afternoon. I was shown one cell occupied by a
woe-begone young country lad; he was sitting alone; I think he had done
his task; he was to be a prisoner till Monday morning—such was the
infamy of his poverty. Lucky for him if he was not kept over Monday, to
pick more oakum and to reduce his strength and impair his constitution
by more starvation on gruel and bread weighed out by ounces. With
refuges for the destitute where they are starved and made to work hard
on insufficient food, with prisons for the criminal where manhood is
crushed and strength is destroyed by feeding men on gruel, we support
bravely the character of a country obedient to the laws of God and
marching in the footsteps of Christ.

Such are the submerged—an army of brokendown gentlemen, ruined
professional men, penniless clerks, bankrupt traders, working-men who
are out of work through age or infirmity, victims of drink, ex-prisoners
and convicts, but not habitual criminals. It is a helpless and a
hopeless army; I have said already that this is the note of the
submerged. We shall see presently what is done for this great body of
misery. One thing must be remembered. There are lower levels than those
reached by this army; physicians, clergymen, missionaries, journalists,
whisper things far worse than can be alleged against the submerged. And
we have not included among them the tramp, that class whose blood is
charged with restlessness hereditary, who cannot remain long in any
place, who cannot enter upon steady work, who are driven by their
restlessness, as by a whip of scorpions, along the roads. Not the tramp,
nor the sturdy rogue, nor the professional criminal, nor the vile
wretches who live by the vilest trades, may be numbered among the
submerged. They fall noiselessly from their place of honor, they live
noiselessly in their place of dishonor; they might perhaps be brought
back to work, but the cases of recovery must be very few in proportion,
because the causes which dragged them down are those which prevent them
from being dragged up. If any physician can give back to the submerged
patience, resolution, will, courage, hope, he may reclaim them. If that
cannot be done they must remain as they are.

My illustration of the submerged seems to have little to do with East
London. As a fact, there is no respect paid to places. When a man has
belonged to the West End his wandering feet, over which, as over his
other actions, the patient has no control, carry him about the scenes of
his former prosperity without his taking any steps to prevent it. Old
acquaintances recognize him, and pass him by with a cold eye which
denies the recognition and conceals the pity. He himself sees nobody and
remembers nobody. In the same way a man who belongs by birth and habits
to East London will remain there after he has come to grief. Or, if the
former gentleman, for some reason, gets into East London and finds out
its ways, with the cheap lodgings, the shelters, the “ha’penny” cups of
cocoa, and the many helping hands from which he may get some kind of
relief he will stay in East London. We need not hesitate about awarding
the palm of nourishing or starving more or fewer of the submerged to
East or West London. It is enough to know that they exist in both
quarters, and that, according to statistics, there are over ten thousand
of them in East London alone. If any help can be found for this mass of
wreckage let us find that help and give it with full hands and in
measure overflowing, for indeed of all those who are poor and distressed
and unhappy the company of the submerged are the most wretched. Even if,
as is almost always the case, they have brought their punishment upon
themselves by the folly of the prodigal, the weakness of those who take
the Easy Way, and the wickedness of those who indulge the natural
inclination to vice, let us not inquire too closely into the record; let
us still stretch out our hand of help; if we can restore some of
them—even a few, even one here and there—to the life of honesty among
folk of good repute, we must still leave them the shameful memory of the
past. That punishment we cannot avert; we cannot remove it from them.
The world will forgive them, but how shall we find that Lethe whose
waters will enable them to forgive themselves? “Arise”—it is easy for
the world to say—“thy sins shall no longer be imputed to thee for a
reproach and a hissing.” Alas! When the better self returns, how shall
that poor wretch cease to reproach himself?


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   X

                        THE MEMORIES OF THE PAST



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   X

                        THE MEMORIES OF THE PAST


I HAVE so often insisted that East London must be regarded as a city of
many crafts—the working-man’s city—that it may seem contradictory to
call attention to another aspect. That part of East London with which we
have been most concerned is the densely populated part lying north of
the river and including all that part west of the river Lea as far north
as Dalston, Clapton, and Hackney, and east of that river, including Bow,
Stratford, Walthamstow, Wanstead, Forest Gate, Bromley West, and East
Ham and Barking. It includes, in a word, very nearly all the ancient
villages and hamlets whose names may be found upon the map. But there is
a fringe, and there are extensions. When one emerges at last from
streets which seem to have no end, when the nightmare of a world which
is all streets, with never a field or an orchard or a hillside left,
begins to break, when it is cleared away, as an ugly dream by the
daylight, by the reappearance of trees and large gardens and wide roads,
then we discover the fringe. Part of Stoke Newington, part of Stamford
Hill, a small part of Tottenham, part of Snaresbrook, belong to the
fringe. Here we get roads lined with trees, villas with trees in front
gardens, modern churches built all after the same half-dozen patterns,
in true proportions, correct and without inspiration; here we get
windows filled with flowers, and here presently we get houses well apart
and a wealth of creepers and of flowering shrubs; which means that the
breath of the crowded City is left behind.

But there are further extensions; the suburbs of East London are not
confined within the limits of the map of London; they stretch out far
afield, they include Chigwell and Chingford and Theydon Bois, and all
the villages round Epping Forest. Dotted about everywhere in this
extension are stately houses with large gardens and grounds, the
residences of the manufacturers and the employers, not those of the
small trades of East London, where the master is often but one degree
better off than the employee, but those of the factories and the works;
theirs is the capital invested; theirs is the enterprise; theirs the wit
and courage which have made them succeed; theirs is the wealth. This
extension is a delightful place in early summer; it is full of trees;
there are old churches, and there is “the” forest—the people of East
London always speak of “the” forest, for to them there is no other. It
is, also, a part of London very little visited; it is, to begin with,
somewhat inaccessible; one who would visit it from the West End has to
get first into the City. In the next chapter we will discourse on what
may be seen by the curious who would explore the forest and its
surroundings. Let us return to my group of villages.

To the American, and to most of my own people, the names of Stoke
Newington, Hackney, Stepney, Mile End, and the rest are names and
nothing else; they awaken no more memories than a list of Australian or
American townships. Let me try to endow these names with associations; I
would make them, if possible, venerable by means of their association
with those who have gone before. The suburban life of London belongs
essentially to the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. In the
former only the wealthy had their country, as well as their town,
houses; in the latter there have been no town houses left in the City at
all, and the whole of the people who every day carry on their business
in the City have now their suburban residences.

The introduction and the development of the suburban life effected a
revolution in the City. It destroyed the social side of the City by the
simple process of driving out all the people. When the citizens lived
over their offices and their shops they belonged to a highly sociable
and gregarious City, its society having no kind of connection with the
aristocratic side of the west, and its gregarious nature preserving due
respect and distinction to City rank and position. Every man had his
weekly club and his nightly tavern. Here, with his friends of the same
street or the same ward, he discussed the affairs of the day. He was a
politician of advanced and well-defined views; he confirmed, by many a
commonplace uttered with solemnity, his own and his friends’ prejudices;
the use of conversation, when men read nothing more than was provided by
an elementary press, was mainly the development and the maintenance of
healthy prejudice. This was all the amusement that the good man
desired—how great was the interval between two of John Gilpin’s pleasure
jaunts? “Twice ten tedious years!” Wonderful! To be sure, he had his
City company, and its dinners were events to be remembered. The City
madams had their card-parties; for the _élite_ there was the City
Assembly. For those who wanted pleasure there were the gardens—Vauxhall,
Ranelagh, Marylebone, Bagnigge Wells, any number of gardens.

The daily work, the business done on ’change, the counting-house, the
shop, all this formed part and parcel of the family life; it was not cut
off and separated as at present: from his counting-house the merchant
went to his “parlor”—it was under the same roof—when dinner was called.
And all the year round he slept under the same roof over his place of
business.

A hundred and fifty years ago the people began to leave the City; the
wealthiest merchants went first; then the less wealthy; finally the
shopkeepers and the clerks; the private houses were converted into
offices and warehouses and chambers; the old City life absolutely
vanished. Everything disappeared; the club, the tavern, the
card-parties, the assembly, the evenings at Vauxhall—all were swept
away. The life of the City man was cut in two, one half belonging to his
office in the City, the other to his suburban villa, with the night and
three or four of the waking hours. He took breakfast at eight; he went
off after breakfast, catching an early omnibus; he returned at six or
seven; he dined; he sat for an hour or two; he went to bed. No life
could be duller; of social intercourse the suburban resident had little
or none; visiting was limited; at rare intervals there were evenings
with a “little music”; dances were few and far between; the old circles
were broken up and no new ones formed; the occupation and social
position of neighbors were not known to each other. For amusements the
girls had their slender stock of accomplishments; the sons, whenever
they could, ran up to town and got into mischief; and the _père de
famille_, not knowing or suspecting the narrowness and the dullness of
his life, solemnly sat after dinner with a book in his hand or took a
hand at cribbage, and went to bed at ten. There were no theaters, no
evening entertainments, no lectures even, no concerts, no talk of
amusements. As the evangelical narrowness was widely spread over all the
London suburbs, if a young man spoke of amusements he was asked if he
could reconcile amusement with the working out of his own salvation. The
church, or the chapel, was in itself the principal recreation of the
ladies. They found in religious emotions the excitement and the interest
which their narrow round of life failed to supply.

As for the theater, it was natural that, with such views as to
amusement, it should be regarded with a shuddering horror. No young
woman who respected herself would be seen at a theater. However, it was
quite out of the question, simply because the theater was inaccessible.


[Illustration: “A Quiet Dullness.”]


Such has been the suburban life of London for a hundred years, so dull,
so monotonous, so destitute of amusement. So lived the residents of
Hackney, Clapton, and Stoke Newington before their quiet dullness was
invaded by the overflowing wave—irresistible, overwhelming—of the
working swarms.

This side of London life deserves to be studied more attentively; it
accounts for a great many recent events and for some of the governing
ideas of Londoners. This, however, is not the place; let it suffice to
pay it the tribute of recognition.

It is now fast passing away. New forces are at work; the old suburban
life is changing; the rural suburb has become a large town, with its
central boulevards, shops, and places of resort; there are theaters
springing up in all the suburbs; there are concerts of good music; there
are art schools; there are halls and public dances; there are late
trains connecting the suburb with the West End and its amusements; there
are volunteer corps, bicycle clubs, golf clubs, tennis clubs, croquet
clubs, amateur dramatic clubs; above all, there is the new education for
the new woman; whatever else she may do or dare, one thing she will no
longer do: she will no longer endure to be shut up all day in a suburb
left to the women and children, and every evening, as well as all day,
to be kept in the house, with no gaiety, no interests, no pursuits, and
no companions. In all these ways the dull suburban life has been swept
away, and a new social life, not in the least like that of a hundred
years ago, is being established and developed.

Let us pass on to the memories and associations of these hamlets. They
are of two kinds—those which appeal to all who belong to this country by
descent and inherit our literature and call our great men theirs as
well, and those which appeal to ourselves more than they can be expected
to do on the other side of the Atlantic. I propose to speak more
especially of the former class. It will be seen that the memories of the
past belong peculiarly to the history of Nonconformity, but I shall be
able to connect East London with many persons distinguished in
literature, art, science, and politics. East London has also its
eccentrics. And it has its villains.


[Illustration: The Street and Old Church Tower, Hackney.]


Let us, however, consider one or two of these places separately, and
note certain things worth visiting in those streets where no traveler’s
foot ever falls.

Hackney, to begin with, is a very ancient place; the manor belonged to
the Knights Templars for about two hundred years; a house, now taken
down, used to be shown as the Templars’ Palace. It was an ancient house,
but not of the thirteenth century: it probably belonged to the reign of
Henry VIII. On the suppression of the Templars the manor was given to
the Hospitallers, whose traditional house was also shown till about
sixty years ago, when it was destroyed. This house was also the
traditional residence of Jane Shore, one of those women who, like Agnes
Sorel and Nell Gwynne strike the imagination of the people and win their
affections. Even the grave and serious Sir Thomas More is carried away
by the beauty and the charm of Jane Shore, while the memory of so much
beauty and so many misfortunes demands a tear from good old Stow. The
name of a street—Palace Road—preserves the memory of the house.

Standing alone in its vast churchyard crammed with monuments, mostly
illegible, of dead citizens all forgotten long ago, stands a monument
for which we ought to be deeply thankful. They pulled down the old
church, but they preserved the tower. It is a tower of singular beauty,
the one ancient thing that is left in Hackney. Beneath the feet of the
visitor on the east side lie the bones of the buried Templars, proud
knights and magnificent once, beyond the power of the bishop, rich and
luxurious; with them the dust of their successors, the Knights
Hospitallers, and now all forgotten together. In another part of the
churchyard they erected a singularly ugly new church—a capacious barn.
Outside the churchyard the tower looks down upon a crowded and busy
thoroughfare, the full stream of life of this now great town of Hackney.
Omnibuses and tram-cars run up and down the street all day long; there
is an open market all the year round, with stalls and wheelbarrows
ranged along the pavement; a railway arch spans the street, the frequent
train thunders as it passes the Templars’ tower; the people throng the
place from six in the morning till midnight. In many towns I have
watched this stream of life flowing beside the gray survivals of the
past; nobody heeds the ancient gate, the tower, the crumbling wall;
nobody knows what they mean; the historical associations enter not at
all into the mind of the average man; even amid the ruins of Babylon the
Great his thoughts would be wholly with the present; he has no knowledge
or understanding of the past; his own life is all in all to him; being
the heir of all the ages, he takes his inheritance without even knowing
what it means, as if it grew spontaneously, as if his security of life,
his power of working undisturbed, the peace of the City, his freedom of
speech and thought and action were given to mankind like the sunshine to
warm him and the rain to refresh him. Yet the presence of this venerable
tower should have some influence upon him, if only to remind him that
there has been a past.

One who walks about an English town of any antiquity—most of them are of
very considerable antiquity—can hardly fail of coming from time to time
upon a street, a place, a square, a court, which takes him back two
hundred years at least, or even more, to the time of the first George,
or even to that of Charles II. Sometimes it is a single house; sometimes
it is a whole street. In this respect, one or two of the East London
suburbs are richer than those of the west or the south because they are
older. Hackney and Stoke Newington, Stepney and Tottenham, were villages
inhabited by wealthy people or noble people when the suburbs of the
south were mere rural villages, with farms and meadows among their
hanging woods.


[Illustration: An East London Suburb, Overlooking Hackney Marshes.]


There are two such places which I have found in Hackney. The first is a
wide and open place, not a thoroughfare for vehicles; it may be
approached by a foot-path through Hackney churchyard. It consists of a
row of early eighteenth century houses on the south side, and another
row of houses, probably of late eighteenth century, on the north. There
is nothing remarkable about the place except its peacefulness and its
suggestion of authority and dignity. You may frequently find such places
adjoining old churches. It is as if the calm of the church and the
tranquillity of the churchyard overflowed into one at least of the
streets beside it. The clergy who used to live in this claustral repose
have left this memory of their residence; in such a place we look up and
down expecting to see a portly divine in black silk cassock, full silk
gown, white Geneva bands, and wig theological, step out into the street
and magisterially bend his steps toward the church where he will
catechize the children.

The second place is also on the east of Hackney church; it is a long and
narrow winding street, called magnificently the High Street, Homerton.
It contains three great houses and many small ones, mostly old; in spite
of its name, which conveys the suggestion of a town, it is a secluded
street, remote from the ways of man; it might be a street of some
decayed old town, such as King’s Lynn or Sandwich; there are no children
playing in the road or on the door-steps. Half way down the street
stands a church, the aspect of which proclaims it frankly and openly as
belonging to the reign of the great George, first of the name. It was a
place of worship simply, without special dedication or presentation to
any religious body; it has been sometimes a chapel of ease to the parish
church; sometimes it has been an independent chapel, having a service of
its own. There it has stood since the year 1723, testifying to
possibilities in the way of ugliness which would seem like some dream of
architecture, fantastic and visionary, impossible of achievement. Yet it
somehow fits in with the rest of the street; the ugliness of the chapel
is not out of harmony with the street, for the early eighteenth century
claims the houses as well as the church. All should be preserved
together among the national monuments as a historical survival. This, it
should be said, was how they built in the twenties of the eighteenth
century.

If we leave Hackney and walk north we find ourselves in the village of
Clapton, more suburban than Hackney, but not yet rural. Clapton lies
along the western valley of the river Lea, which here winds its way at
the bottom of a broad, shallow depression. There is one spot—before the
place was built over there were many spots—where one may stand and, in
the summer, when the sunshine lights up the stream, gaze upon the green
meadows, the mills, the rustic bridges, the high causeways over the
marshes, and the low Essex hills beyond. The Essex hills are always far
away; there is always one before the traveler; if he stands on an
eminence he sees them, like gentle waves of the heaving ocean, across
other valleys, and I would not affirm that this is more lovely than any
other; indeed, one knows many valleys which are deeper and more
picturesque, planted with nobler woods, shadowed by loftier hills. Yet
look again. You remember the lines—

                 Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
                 Stand dressed in living green:
                 So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
                 While Jordan rolled between.

Mark how exactly the view fits the lines, and how the lines fit the
view. This is as it should be, for good old Isaac Watts stood often here
and gazed upon that scene; the swelling flood was the winding river Lea;
the sweet fields lay before him in living green. That is why I have
brought you to this place. Dr. Watts might have stood here at another
season, when a low, white mist hung over the sweet fields and obscured
the swelling flood, and when the Christian knew not what lay between him
and the everlasting hills beyond, where he fain would be at rest.


[Illustration: Clapton.]


He lived not at Clapton, but at Stoke Newington, on the west of Clapton.
If we could have seen this suburb seventy years ago! But the place is
overgrown and overcrowded; workmen’s houses cover its gardens like a
tangle of ugly weeds. Still there is one place left which it will please
you to visit; on the map of 1830 it is the only street in the village.
It is called Church Street; you enter it from the high road running
north; it promises at the outset to be common, mean, and without dignity
or character. Patience! we pass through the mean part and we emerge upon
a Street Beautiful. It consists of houses built of that warm red brick
which, as Ruskin has pointed out, grows richer in color with age; they
are houses of the early eighteenth century with porches and covered with
a wealth of creepers; the street has associations of which I will speak
presently. Meantime, it is delight enough merely to stand and look upon
it. The street ends with two churches. Happier than Hackney, Stoke
Newington has been able to build a new church, and has not been obliged
to pull down the old one. You see the new church; it is in the favorite
style of our time, perhaps as favorable a specimen as can be found; in a
word, a large, handsome, well-proportioned church. It was good that such
a church should be built, if only to show that when Stoke Newington
passed from a small rural village to a great town it did not outgrow its
attachment to the Anglican faith. The old church could no longer
accommodate the people; a new one therefore was built, a church urban,
belonging to a great population beside the other. The old church is not
dwarfed by the new; happily, the broad road lies between; it is a
charming and delightful village church, standing among the trees and
monuments of its churchyard. It has been patched, repaired, enlarged; it
is, I dare say, a thing of patchwork—an incongruous church; yet one
would not part with a single patch or the very least of its
incongruities. There is Perpendicular work in it, and Decorated work;
there is also nondescript work. They did well to keep it standing; it is
a venerable monument; its spire is much humbler than that of its
splendid successor, still it points to heaven; it has what the other
will never have, the bones of the villagers for two thousand years; and
still, to admonish the men of to-day as of yesterday and the day before,
over the porch hangs the dial, with the motto, “Ab Alto”—“From on High,”
that is, “cometh Safety, cometh Wisdom, cometh Hope” in the language of
the ancient piety.

I have spoken of the intimate connection of these villages with
Nonconformity. The Nonconformist cause was very strong among the better
class of London merchants during the hundred and fifty years from 1650
to 1800. Hackney and other places in this part of the London suburbs are
occupied to a large extent by their country houses. When the Act of
Uniformity was passed and the Nonconforming ministers were ejected, many
of them were received by the merchants of London in their country
houses, and when the Conventicle Act of 1663 forbade the Nonconformists
to frequent any place of worship other than the parish church, it was in
their private houses at Hackney and other suburbs that the merchants
were able, unmolested, to worship after their own consciences.

Before this, however, there had been Puritan leaders in the place. Two
of them were regicides. On the east of the tower in Hackney churchyard
stood until recently a chapel or mortuary chamber built by one of the
Rowe family and called the Rowe Chapel. There was a Sir Thomas Rowe (or
Roe), who was Lord Mayor of London in 1568; he married the sister of Sir
Thomas Gresham, who founded the Royal Exchange; his son was also lord
mayor in his time, his grandson, Sir Henry Rowe, built this chapel.
Among the descendants was one Owen Rowe, citizen and haberdasher, a
fierce partizan—in those days every one was a partizan and every one was
fierce. He was colonel of the Green Regiment for the Parliament, so that
he could fight as well as argue. Owen Rowe, unfortunately for himself,
was one of those who took a leading part in the trial and execution of
the King, being a signatory to the warrant for that execution. After the
Restoration he surrendered, and by an act of clemency, of which Charles
was sometimes capable, he was not executed, but sentenced to
imprisonment in the Tower of London for the rest of his days. He died in
the December following, and was buried in this chapel.

The other regicide of Hackney was John Okey, one of the Root and Branch
men. He was a very turbulent Parliamentarian; he was of humble origin,
beginning, it is said, as a drayman; he had no education, but he
developed military genius of a kind and became a colonel of cavalry
under Cromwell. After the Restoration he fled to Germany, where he might
have continued in security to the end of his days, but being tempted to
venture into Holland was there arrested by the English minister, Sir
George Downing, and brought over to England with two other regicides,
Miles Corbet and John Barkstead. Pepys records the event. It is
astonishing that Sir George Downing should have done this, since he owed
everything he had in the world to the favor of Cromwell. However, it was
done, and on March 16, 1662, Pepys says that the pink _Blackmore_ landed
the three prisoners at the Tower. He adds that the Dutch were a long
while before they consented to let them go, and that “all the world
takes notice of Sir George Downing as a most ungrateful villain for his
pains.” A month later, on April 19th, Pepys goes to Aldgate and stands
“at the corner shop, the draper’s,” to see the three drawn on their way
to execution at Tyburn. “They all looked very cheerful and all died
defending what they did to the King to be just.” While at Hackney, Okey
lived in a house called Barber’s Barn, formerly the residence of Lady
Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, and mother of Lord Darnley,
husband of Alary Queen of Scots, a curious little fact which connects
Hackney with Queen Victoria, Darnley’s descendant. The regicide’s estate
was confiscated, but his widow got permission to retain Barber’s Barn,
where she lived till her death. Okey himself was buried somewhere in
Hackney churchyard.


[Illustration: The Old Church, Stoke Newington.]


Let us turn to more pleasing associations. In the village of Hackney
during the Commonwealth there lived a certain Captain Woodcock. Among
his friends was the Protector’s Latin secretary, John Milton, a person
of very great consideration. John Milton in 1656 was a widower, but he
was not a man who could live without the society of a wife. Captain
Woodcock’s daughter, Catharine, pleased the Latin secretary; they were
married on November 12, 1656, and she died on October 17th in the
following year.

But there are other Cromwellian associations with Hackney and Stoke
Newington. The American visitor to London would do well to give a day to
a quiet ramble in this quarter, once so sturdy in its Puritanism and
independence.

Leading out of Church Street, Stoke Newington, there is a place called
Fleetwood Street. This street covers the site of an Elizabethan house
which was once the residence of Colonel Fleetwood, Cromwell’s
son-in-law. His second wife, Bridget Cromwell, however, did not live in
this house, because Fleetwood got it, after her death, with his third
wife, Lady Hartopp. He was left unmolested by the government at the
Restoration, and died in this house in 1692. He lies buried in the
Nonconformist cemetery of Bunhill Fields.

Another member of the Cromwell family, Major Cromwell, was a resident of
this quarter. He was the son of Henry, and the grandson of the
Protector. He married, in 1686, Hannah, eldest daughter of Benjamin
Hewling, whose sons suffered for joining Monmouth. One of her children,
at least, was born at Hackney. This was Richard, who became an attorney
and solicitor in chancery. It is pleasant to record that when this
Richard married the wedding was solemnized in the chapel of Whitehall,
in memory of his great grandfather’s occupation of the palace.

I have already mentioned Isaac Watts as a resident in this part of
London. He was born at Southampton in 1674. At the age of sixteen he was
placed under the care of the Rev. Thomas Rowe of London, and chose the
calling of a Nonconformist minister. For five years he was tutor in the
family of Sir John Hartopp, Colonel Fleetwood’s stepson, at Stoke
Newington; he there became acquainted with Sir Thomas Abney, whilom Lord
Mayor of London. He preached for ten years in London, under the Rev. Dr.
Chauncey. Then an attack of fever prostrated him, and he was obliged to
give up preaching altogether for the rest of his life. He was invited by
Sir Thomas Abney to his house at Theobald’s, where he stayed till Sir
Thomas’s death. He then removed with Lady Abney to her house at Stoke
Newington, where he remained an honored guest, or rather one of the
family, until his death in 1748. He was a painter as well as a poet, and
until the house was pulled down certain paintings on the walls were
shown as his.


[Illustration: A Street in Stoke Newington.]


A more sturdy and combative Nonconformist was Daniel Defoe, also a
resident of Stoke Newington. The site of his house survives in a small
street named after him. He was born at Cripplegate, just outside the
walls of London. He was sent to school at Newington Green, so that he
was more or less connected with this quarter all his life. The school
was kept by one Murton, and among his school-fellows was Samuel Wesley,
father of John and Charles. Defoe came to live in Stoke Newington early
in the eighteenth century. It was here that he wrote “Robinson Crusoe”
and his novels. His house has long been pulled down, but a large part of
his garden-wall still stands.

Matthew Henry, the commentator, lived at Hackney for some time. Among
Nonconformists we must not forget Mrs. Barbauld. Her husband, Rougemont
Barbauld, of French descent, was Unitarian minister at Newington Green.
Unfortunately, his mental powers declined, and in a fit of insanity he
threw himself, or fell, into the New River. Mrs. Barbauld’s brother, Dr.
Aikin, lived also at this time at Stoke Newington. Mrs. Barbauld removed
to his house and died there. She is buried in the churchyard of the old
church. There are many better poets than Mrs. Barbauld, but her memory
should survive for one little scrap in which for once she is inspired,
and speaks, as a poet should, out of the fullness of heart common to all
humanity.

            “Life! we have been long together
             Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
             ’T is hard to part when friends are dear,—
             Perhaps ’t will cost a sigh, a tear;
             Then steal away, give little warning,
             Choose thine own time;
             Say not ‘Good night,’ but in some brighter clime
             Bid me ‘Good morning.’”

Also in Church Street, Stoke Newington, lived Isaac Disraeli, author of
the “Curiosities of Literature” and the “Quarrels and Calamities of
Authors.” This estimable and amiable writer died in 1848. His son, Lord
Beaconsfield, born here in 1805, was educated in a private school in the
neighborhood until he was articled to a lawyer. He belonged, therefore,
essentially to a middle-class family; he was not wealthy by birth, but
he was not poor; he had the advantage, or the reverse, of being a Jew by
descent and a Christian by conviction. To the former fact he owed much
of his intellectual powers, to the latter the possibility of rising to
the highest distinction and responsibility that the state has to offer,
because at the outset of his career even the beginning would have been
impossible to one of the ancient Hebrew faith.

The philanthropist John Howard was also a native of Hackney. He
belonged, like so many others of the place, to the Nonconformists. His
father was an upholsterer in the City, and he himself was at first made
apprentice to a wholesale grocer. He was, however, unfitted for that
kind of work, and as soon as he could he bought himself out. This is not
the place to enlarge upon the work accomplished by this extraordinary
man. After being a prisoner of war in France he became wholly possessed
with one resolution—to reform the management of prisons. How he traveled
through Great Britain first and the continent afterward, how he
published reports which revealed the plague spots called prisons all
over Europe, is matter of common fame and history.

I think that my claim for these suburbs, that they were a stronghold of
Nonconformity, has been proved by these associations. There are,
however, more. Everybody has read “Sandford and Merton,” both that of
Mr. Thomas Day and the other, equally instructive, of Mr. Burnand.
Thomas Day belonged by residence to Stoke Newington. His house is still
pointed out. In Clapton, on the other side of the high road, lived and
died an amiable and accomplished novelist, Grace Aguilar. Here was born
a philanthropist, also among the Nonconformist ranks, the late Samuel
Morley. Here was born another Nonconformist, the late Sir William Smith,
editor of so many classical and antiquarian dictionaries and other aids
to learning.


[Illustration: House in Stoke Newington in which Edgar Allan Poe Lived.]


Enough of Nonconformists. Let us turn to other associations. Stoke
Newington is connected with the name of Edgar Allan Poe. It was here
that he was at school, where he was brought over by the Allans as a
child. The house still stands; it is at the corner of Edward’s Lane,
which runs out of Church Street. Let us hope that the eccentricities of
this wayward poet were not due to the influences of Nonconformist
Newington.

In the churchyard of Hackney may be seen the tombs and monuments of
certain members of the André family. The unfortunate Major André was
born at Hackney. His history is well known; our American visitors have
been taught to think that Washington’s act, severe indeed, was just and
warranted by the facts of the case. That will not stifle the regret that
a soldier of so much promise should have met with such a death. The time
has gone by, or should have gone by, when the name of André called forth
bitterness and recrimination.

One more note to connect suburban East London with America. In the year
1709 a great number of refugees—Palatines, Swabians, and others—came
over to England, being driven out of their own country by the desolation
of war. There were between six and seven thousand of them, all, or
nearly all, being quite destitute. The Queen ordered a daily allowance
of food to be bestowed upon these unfortunates, and tents were put up
for them in various parts round London. The parish of Stoke Newington
possessed at that time a small piece of ground, which was lying
unoccupied. The parishioners undertook to build four houses on this
field, and to receive twenty persons from the refugees. Other parishes
offered to do the same. Finally, however, the government disposed of
them. The Roman Catholics were sent back to their own country; the
Protestants were settled, some in Ireland and the rest in the American
colonies. A few went to Carolina; the rest, twenty-seven hundred in
number, were shipped to New York, where they arrived in June, 1710. They
were allotted ten acres of land to each family. Most of them, however,
for reasons of some dissatisfaction, removed to Pennsylvania, where they
settled, and where their descendants, it is said, still preserve the
history of their misfortunes and their emigration.

The history of these suburbs is unlike that of any other part of London.
From the middle of the seventeenth century until far in the nineteenth
they were rural retreats; a few houses were clustered about a church; a
meeting-house stood here and there; upon the whole place, on the faces
of the residents, was the stamp of grave and serious religious thought
and conviction; grave and serious Nonconformist divines or grave and
serious merchants of the City professing Nonconformity walked about its
lanes and among its gardens. As recently as the thirties they retained
this character. The map of 1834 shows fields and pasture and garden
where there is now a waste of brick and mortar; the little stream known
as Hackney Brook meandered pleasantly through these fields; Stoke
Newington, though it could boast so many distinguished natives and
residents, consisted of one long street, mostly with houses on one side
only, and a church. The place is now entirely built upon; a few of the
old houses remain, but not many, and the old atmosphere only survives in
places which I have indicated, such as Sutton Place, High Street,
Homerton, and Church Street, Stoke Newington. And I fear that to the
visitor, to whom these associations are not familiar, there is no
dignity about these streets other than is conferred by the few surviving
mansions.

We have seen that the suburb of Hackney is connected with Queen Victoria
by the early residence there of Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
There is, strangely, another house connecting this suburb with the Queen
by another ancestress. Darnley was the father of James I; the Princess
Elizabeth, known afterward as the Queen of Bohemia, was the daughter of
James. Elizabeth had twelve children; the youngest, Sophia, was the
mother of George I. Elizabeth lived for a time at Hackney, in a house
called the Black and White House near the church—it is now destroyed;
the house had formerly been the residence of Sir Thomas Vyner, Lord
Mayor of London.

There are still more associations. Hackney is, in fact, richer in
memories of this kind than any other suburb of London. Sir Walter
Raleigh and Sir Thomas More belong to American as well as English
history, both of them because they precede the colonial time and the
former because he foresaw the boundless possibilities of America and
attempted to found a colony there. Tradition—a vague tradition
only—assigns to Sir Walter a residence in Hackney. History points with
certainty to Sir Thomas More’s connection with the place. His daughter
Cecilia married one George Heron, son of Mr. Thomas Heron, Master of the
jewel house to Henry VIII. The family house was a mansion, long since
pulled down, on Shacklewell Green, and hither Sir Thomas must have come
to visit his daughter.

All Americans who visit London go to see the Charter House. It is one of
the really ancient and beautiful things still left standing. One can
make out the disposition of the buildings, the cloisters, refectory,
chapel, and cells of the Carthusian monks. One can also study the more
recent buildings which converted the monastery into an almshouse and a
school. The transformation was effected by Thomas Sutton.

This excellent person, the son of a country gentleman, filled many
offices during a long life of over eighty years. He was Master of the
Ordnance to Queen Elizabeth; he became, at the advanced age of fifty, a
citizen of London, joining the Girdlers’ Company, and married the widow
of one John Dudley, lord of the manor of Stoke Newington. On her death
he removed to Hackney, living in a great house which you may still see
standing at the present day, one of the very few old houses remaining.
It is a house with a center and two wings; formerly there was a large
garden behind it. Sutton died in 1614, only a few weeks after signing
deeds by which he endowed the Charter House with his estates for the
maintenance of eighty almsmen and a school of boys. The foundation still
exists; they have foolishly removed the school; the almsmen remain,
though reduced in numbers. Colonel Newcome, as of course you remember,
became one of them.

Enough of great men. Let us speak of smaller folk who have distinguished
themselves each in his own way.

It is given to few to achieve distinction by ways petty and mean and
miserable, or bold and villainous. These suburbs can point to one or two
such examples, adduced here on account of their rarity. Perhaps the most
illustrious of the former was a certain hermit. His name was Lucas; he
belonged to a West Indian family; he became a man of Hackney only when
he was buried in the churchyard. His house was about thirty miles north
of London; on the death of his mother he became suddenly morose; he shut
himself up alone in the house; he refused all society; he barricaded his
room with timber and lived by himself in the kitchen, where he kept a
fire burning night and day, wrapped himself in a blanket, slept upon a
bed of cinders, and neither washed nor cut his hair nor shaved, but
remained in this neglected condition, which he seems to have enjoyed
greatly, after the manner of hermits, for twenty-five years, when he
died. He lived on bread, milk, and eggs, which were brought to him fresh
every day. He was an object of great curiosity; people came from all
parts to gaze upon the hermit; he was very proud of a notoriety which he
would probably have failed to acquire by any legitimate efforts; and he
conversed courteously with everyone. He was found in a fit one morning,
after this long seclusion, and was removed to a farmhouse, where he died
the next day.

We may revive the memory of John Ward, formerly of Hackney, as a
specimen of the villainous resident.

His career was chequered with coloring of dark, very dark, and black
shade. He began life in some small manufactory; he wriggled up, and
became a member of Parliament; he was prosecuted for forgery, he was
pilloried, he was imprisoned, and he was expelled the House of Commons.
He was also prosecuted by the South Sea Company for feloniously
concealing the sum of £50,000. He suffered imprisonment for this crime.
He is held up to execration by Pope:

                 “there was no grace of Heaven
             Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil;
             To Ward, to Waters, Charters and the Devil.”

He added to his villainies a kind of pinchbeck piety, that perverted
piety which manifests itself in beseeching the Lord to be on his side in
his money-getting. The following is, I imagine, almost unique as a
prayer.

    “O Lord, thou knowest that I have nine estates in the City of
    London and likewise that I have lately purchased an estate in
    fee simple in the county of Essex: I beseech thee to preserve
    the two counties of Middlesex and Essex from fire and
    earthquakes: and as I have a mortgage in Hertfordshire, I beg of
    Thee likewise to have an eye of compassion on that county and
    for the rest of the counties Thou mayest deal with them as Thou
    art pleased. O Lord, enable the bank to answer all their bills,
    and make all my debtors good men.

    “Give prosperous voyage to the _Mermaid_ sloop, because I have
    insured it: and as Thou hast said that the days of the wicked
    are but short, I trust in Thee that Thou wait not forget Thy
    promise, as I have purchased an estate in reversion, which will
    be mine on the death of that profligate young man Sir J. L.”

Such a prayer would seem to argue some mental twist; but strange are the
vagaries of the pinchbeck pious.

Two more villains, and we make an end. The first of them was the bold
Dick Turpin. Have the achievements of Dick Turpin crossed the ocean?
Surely they have, if only in the pages of the “Pickwick Papers,” where
Sam Weller sings part of a song written in praise of the highwayman. The
verses are generally believed to be by Charles Dickens himself, but that
is not so. They are by James or Horace Smith, or both, the authors of
the “Rejected Addresses,” and are the two opening stanzas of a long
poem. Dick Turpin lived for a time at a house in Hackney Marsh, near a
tavern and a cockpit, and passed for a sporting gentleman free with his
money. Few highwaymen were so successful as the gallant rider of Black
Bess, and very, very few arrived, as he did, at the age of thirty-four
before undertaking that drive to Tyburn Tree, which was the concluding
act in his profession. Indeed, the grand climacteric for a highwayman
seems to have been twenty-four.

The other villain for whom Hackney blushes was a native of Homerton.
This was none other than the famous “Jack the Painter,” who formed the
bold design of setting fire to all the dockyards in the country. The
story of his attempt in Portsmouth Dockyard, and of his failure and
trial, forms one of the most singular chapters in the criminal history
of the last century. He was executed in 1776, and his body hung in
chains on the shore near Portsmouth for a great many years. I have
myself conversed with persons who could remember the gibbet of Jack the
Painter, and his blackened, tarred remains dangling in chains. But they
were old men, and they were seafaring men. And when the mariner grows
old his memory lengthens and strengthens and spreads.


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                                   XI

                         ON SPORTS AND PASTIMES



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   XI

                         ON SPORTS AND PASTIMES


WE have dwelt so long on the melancholy pictures of the houseless and
the starving that there is danger of falling hastily into the conclusion
that East London is the favorite residence of Poverty, Misery, and
Necessity—those Furies three. We must not think this. East London is, as
I have said before, above all things the city of the working-man—the
greatest city of the respectable working-man in the whole world.
Fortunately he is, for the most part, in good and steady work. Those are
not his daughters who march arm in arm down Brook Street, lifting the
hymn, which has no words, of irrepressible youth; nor are those his sons
who hang about the corners of the streets near the public house; nor has
he any connection with the shuffling, ragged outcasts whom we call the
submerged.

The great mass of the population consists of the steady craftsmen, with
the foremen, and the managers of departments, and the clerks employed in
the factories and the works. I am about to point out some of the ways in
which these people brighten and enliven their days.

A certain joyousness has always been the keynote of London life. A
volume might be written on the cheerfulness of London; it is not
gaiety—Paris or Vienna is a city of gaiety; it is a more valuable
possession; the citizen of London is not light-hearted; he is always, in
fact, possessed with a wholesome sense of individual responsibility; but
he is cheerful, and he loves those amusements which belong to the
cheerful temperament. It must also be acknowledged that he loves sport,
and everything connected with sport. Now this cheerfulness of London a
hundred years ago seemed well-nigh destroyed. The old social life of the
City was broken up by the abandonment of the City; the suburban life,
without centers of attraction, such as the little City parish, or the
ward, or the City company was wont to offer, was dull and monotonous;
the working-men, long left to themselves without schools, or leaders, or
masters, or discipline of any kind, were sunk deep in a drunken slough,
and the industrial side of London had hardly yet sprung into existence.
In another place I have considered the suburban life; here let me speak
only of the people who make up the crowds of East London. Without
apparent centers round which they could group themselves, the people, by
instinct, when they found themselves thus massed together, revived the
old cheerfulness of their ancestors. East London, for its sports and
pastimes, when we look into them, reminds us of London of the twelfth
century as described by Fitzstephen—a city always in good spirits,
joyous, and given to every kind of sport. Not quite in the same way; the
houses are no longer decked with flowers—it would be too ridiculous to
decorate a street leading out of the Commercial Road with flowers; nor
do we see any longer the old procession where the minstrels went
before,—if it was only the tabor and the pipe,—while the lads and lasses
followed after. Yet in its own way this new city is full of
cheerfulness; it contains so many Hooligans and casuals and outcasts
that it ought to go about with a face of dismal lines; but there were
outcasts and casuals even in the twelfth century; quite another note
will be struck by one who investigates; there is no city more cheerful
and more addicted to enjoyment than East London.

Like all industrial cities—you may note the fact especially in
Brussels—the young seem out of all proportion to the old; this is of
course partly because the young people come out more; they crowd the
leading streets and the boulevards; they seem to have nothing to do, and
to want nothing but to amuse themselves every evening.

I have already twice called attention to the very remarkable change that
has gradually transformed the life of the modern craftsman. We have
given him his evenings—all his evenings; we have postponed his going to
work by an hour at least, and in many cases by two hours; this means a
corresponding extension of the evening, because when a man had to
present himself at the workshop at 5:30 or 6 A.M. he had to get up an
hour before that time, therefore he had to be in bed by an early hour in
the evening. This point is of vital importance; it is affecting the
national character for good or evil; it is full of possibilities and it
is full of dangers.

Our young people, who are those most to be considered, for obvious
reasons, are now in possession of the whole evening. From seven o’clock
till bedtime, which may be eleven or twelve, they are free to do what
they please; the paternal authority is no longer exercised; they are, in
every sense, their own masters. In addition, we give them the Saturday
afternoon and the whole of Sunday free from the former obligations of
church. We also give them the bank-holidays, with Christmas Day and Good
Friday. In other words, we give them, if you will take the trouble to
calculate, more than a quarter of the solid year, reckoned by days of
twenty-four hours. If we reckon by days of sixteen hours we give them
more than one third of the whole year, and we say to them, “Go; do what
you please with one third of your lives.” This is a very serious gift;
it should be accompanied by admonition as to responsibilities and
possibilities. Anything may be done for good or for ill, with a whole
third part of the working year to work at it. The gift, so far, and with
certain exceptions, as of the ambitious lad who means to rise, and will
rise, though it means hours of labor when others are at play, has been,
so far, generally interpreted to mean, “Go and do nothing, except look
for present enjoyment.”

The winter, by universal consent, comes to an end on Easter Sunday,
which may fall as early as the fourth week in March or as late as the
fourth week in April. The breath of the English spring is chill, but the
snow and the cold rains and the fogs have gone; if the east wind is keen
it dries the roads; the bicycles can come out; there is not yet much
promise of leaf and flower, but the catkins hang upon the trees and the
hedges are turning green, and the days are long and the evenings are
light. I think that Easter Monday is the greatest holiday of the year to
East London.

It has replaced the old May-day. Formerly, when by the old style May-day
fell on what is now the 14th, it came very happily at the real
commencement of the English spring. We are liable to east winds and to
cold and frost till about the middle of May, after which it is seldom
that the east wind returns. On that day the whole City turned out to
welcome summer. Think what they had gone through; the streets unpaved,
mere morasses of mud and melting snow; the houses with their unglazed
windows boarded up with shutters; the long evenings spent crouching
round the fire or in bed; no fresh meat, no vegetables, only salted meat
and birds, and, to finish with, the forty days of fasting on dried fish,
mostly so stale that it would not now be allowed to be offered for sale.
And here was summer coming again! Out of the City gates poured the young
men and the maidens to gather the branches and blossoms of the
white-thorn, to come back laden with the greenery and to dance and sing
around the May-pole.

May-day has long ceased to be a popular festival. The Puritans killed
it. Yet there still linger some of the old signs of rejoicing. To this
day the carmen deck their horses with ribbons and artificial flowers on
May-day. Until quite recently there were one or two May-day processions
still to be seen in the streets. The chimney-sweeps kept up the custom
longest. They came out in force, dressed up with fantastic hats and
colored ribbons. In the midst was a moving arbor of green branches and
flowers, called Jack in the Green. Beside him ran and danced a girl in
gay colors, who was Maid Marian. Before him went a fife and drum or a
fiddler, and they stopped at certain points to dance round Jack in the
Green. Another procession, discontinued before that of the
chimney-sweeps, was that of the milkmaids. The dairy women, dressed in
bright colors and having flowers in their hair or in their hats, led
along a milch cow covered with garlands. After the cow came a man inside
a frame which bore a kind of trophy consisting of silver dishes and
silver goblets, lent for the occasion and set in flowers. Of course they
had a fiddler, always represented in the pictures as one-legged, but
perhaps the absence of a leg was not an essential.

May-day is gone. Its place is taken, and more than taken, by Easter
Monday. It is the fourth and last day of the longest holiday in the
whole year. From Good Friday to Monday, both inclusive, no work is done,
no workshops are opened. The first day, the Day of Tenebræ, the day of
fasting and humiliation, is observed by East London as a day of great
joy; it is a day on which the men seek their amusements without the
women; on this day there are sports, with wrestling and boxing, with
foot-ball and athletics; the women, I think, mostly stay at home. On the
Saturday little is done but to rest, yet there are railway excursions;
many places of amusement, such as the Crystal Palace and the Aquarium
(they offer a long round of shows lasting all through the day), are
open. Easter Sunday is exactly like any other Sunday. But Monday—Monday
is the holiday for all alike, men, women, and children. Poor and
miserable must that man be who cannot find something for Easter Monday.

There used to be the Epping Hunt. This absurd burlesque of a hunt was
the last survival of the right claimed by the citizens of London to hunt
in the forests of Middlesex. On Easter Monday the “hunt” assembled; it
consisted of many hundreds of gallant huntsmen mounted on animals of
every description, including the common donkey; there were also hundreds
of vehicles of every kind bringing people out to see the hunting of the
stag. It was a real stag and a real hunt. That is to say, the stag was
brought in a cart and turned out, the horsemen forming an avenue for him
to run, while the hounds waited for him. There was a plunge, a shout;
the stag broke through the horsemen and ran off into the cover of the
forest, followed by the whole mob at full gallop; the hounds seem to
have been for the most part behind the horses, which was certainly safer
for them. The stag was not killed, but was captured and taken away in
the cart that brought him. The Epping Hunt is no longer celebrated, nor
is Epping Forest any longer one of the haunts of Easter Monday.


[Illustration: Hampstead Heath, Looking “Hendon Way.”]


Five miles from St. Paul’s cathedral lies a broad heath on the plateau
of a hill. This is Hampstead Heath. Two hundred years ago, on the edge
of the heath was a Spa, with a fashionable assembly-room and a tavern.
The Spa decayed, and the place became the residence of a few wealthy
merchants, each with his stately garden. Some of these houses and these
gardens survive to this day; most of them are built over, and Hampstead
is now a suburb of eighty thousand people, standing on the slope and top
of a long hill rising to the height of nearly five hundred feet. The
heath, however, has never been built upon. It is a strangely beautiful
place; not a park, not a garden, not anything artificial, simply a wild
heath covered with old and twisted gorse bushes, with fern and bramble,
and in spring lovely with the white-thorn and the blackthorn and the
blossoms of the wild crab-apple, Britain’s only native fruit. The heath
is cut up into miniature slopes and tiny valleys; a high causeway runs
right across it; the place is so high that there is a noble view of the
country beyond, while at rare intervals, when the air is clear, the
whole valley of the Thames lies at the spectator’s feet, and London,
with her thousand spires and towers is clearly visible, with St. Paul’s
towering over the whole.

The heath is the favorite resort of the holiday makers of Easter Monday;
a kind of fair is permitted on one side, with booths and the customary
bawling. There are never any shows on Hampstead Heath—I know not why.
The booths are for rifle galleries, for tea and coffee and ices, for
cakes and ginger-beer, for crafty varieties in the game of dropping
rings or pretty trifles for bowls and skittles, and for “shying” sticks
at cocoanuts. No stalls are allowed for the sale of strong drink. Here
the people assemble in the morning, beginning about ten, and continue to
arrive all day long, dispersing only when the sun goes down and the
evening becomes too cold for strolling about. They may be numbered by
the hundred thousand. Here are the factory girls, going about in little
companies, adorned with crimson and blue feathers; they run about
laughing and shrieking in the simple joy of life and the exhilarating
presence of the crowd; they do not associate with the lads, who dress up
their hats with paper ribbon and hurl jokes, lacking in originality as
in delicacy, at the girls as they run past. There are a great many
children; the policemen in the evening bring the lost ones,
disconsolate, to the station. Some of them have come with their parents;
some of them, provided with a penny each, have come alone; it is
wonderful to see what little mites run about the heath, hand in hand,
without any parents or guardians. There are young married couples
carrying the baby. All the people alike crowd into the booths and take
their chance at what is going on; they “shy” at the cocoanuts as if it
were a new game invented for that day, they dance in the grass to the
inspiring strains of a concertina, they swing uproariously in the high
wooden carriages, they are whirled breathlessly round and round on the
steam-conducted wooden cavalry, and all the time with shouting and with
laughing incessant. For, you see, the supreme joy, the true foundation
of all this happiness, is the fact that they are all out again in the
open, that the winter is over and gone, and that they can once more come
out all together, as they love, in a vast multitude. To be out in the
open, whether on the seashore or on Hampstead Heath, in a great crowd,
is itself happiness enough. There is more than the joy of being in a
crowd; there is also the joy of being once more on the green turf. Deep
down, again, in the hearts of these townbred cockneys there lies,
ineradicable, the love of the green fields and the country air. So some
of them leave the crowd and wander on the less frequented part of the
heath. They look for flowers, and pick what they can find; the season is
not generally so far advanced as to tempt them with branches of
hawthorn, nor are the fields yet covered with buttercups; the buds are
swelling, the grass puts on a brighter green, but the spring as yet is
all in promise. There are other country places of resort, but Hampstead
is the favorite.

For those who do not go out of London on Easter Monday there are more
quiet recreations. On that day Canon Barnett opens his annual exhibition
of loan pictures at his schools beside his church at Whitechapel; to the
people of his quarter he offers every year an exhibition of pictures
which is really one of the best of the yearly shows, though the West End
knows nothing about it, and there is no private view attended by the
fashionable folk, who go to see each other. There is a catalogue; it is
designed as a guide and an aid to the reader; it is therefore
descriptive; in the evening ladies go round with small parties and give
little talks upon the pictures, explaining what the artist meant and how
his design has been carried out. Such a party I once watched before
Burne-Jones’s picture of “The Briar Rose.” The people gazed; they saw
the brilliant coloring, the briar-rose everywhere, the sleeping knights,
the courtyard—all. Then the guide began, and their faces lit up with
pleasure and understanding, and all went home that evening richer for
the contemplation and the comprehension of one great work of art.

At the People’s Palace there are concerts morning and evening; perhaps
also there is some exhibition or attraction of another kind; there are
other loan exhibitions possible besides those of art.

Some of the people, but not many, go off westward and wander about the
halls of the British Museum. I do not know why they go there, because
ancient Egypt is to them no more than modern Mexico, and the Etruscan
vases are no more interesting than the “Souvenir of Margate,” which
costs a penny. But they do go; they roam from room to room with listless
indifference, seeing nothing. In the same spirit of curiosity, baffled
yet satisfied, they go to the South Kensington Museum and gaze upon its
treasures of art; or they go to the National Portrait Gallery, finding
in Queen Anne Boleyn a striking likeness to their own Maria, but
otherwise not profiting in any discoverable manner by the contents of
the gallery. And some of them go to the National Gallery, where there
are pictures which tell stories. Or some get as far as Kew Gardens,
tempted by the reputation of the houses which provide tea and shrimps
and water-cresses outside the gardens, as much as by the Palm House and
the Orchid Houses within.

The streets on Easter Monday present a curious Sunday-like appearance,
with shops shut and no vehicles except the omnibus, but in the evening
the theater and the music-hall are open, and they are crammed with
people.

Therefore, though Easter Monday is the greatest of the people’s
holidays, it is so chiefly because it is the first, and because, like
the May-day of old, it stands for the end of the long, dark winter and
the first promise of the spring. Even in the streets, the streets of
dreary monotony, the East Londoners feel their blood stir and their
pulses quicken when the April day draws out and once more there comes an
evening light enough and long enough to take them out by tram beyond the
bricks.

The holiday of early summer is Whit-Monday, which is also a movable
feast, and falls seven weeks after Easter, so that it is due on some day
between May 12th and June 12th. I have already observed that the cold
east wind, which retards our spring, generally ceases before the middle
of May, though in our climate nothing is certain—not even hot weather in
July and August. When it falls reasonably late, say in the first week of
June, there is some probability that the day will be warm, even though
there may be showers; that the woods will be resonant with warblers, the
fields golden with buttercups, the hedges bright with spring flowers,
the bushes white and pink with May blossom, and the orchards glorious
with the pink of the apple and the creamy white of the cherry and the
pear. On this day the East Londoner goes farther afield; he is not
content with Hampstead Heath, and he will not remain under cover at the
Crystal Palace. Trains convey him out of London. He goes down to
Southend, at the mouth of the Thames; there, at low tide, he can gaze
upon a vast expanse of mud or he can walk down a pier a mile and a half
long, or, if it is high tide, he may delight in the dancing waters with
innumerable boats and yachts. Above all, at Southend he will find all
the delights that endear the seaside to him; there is the tea with
shrimps—countless shrimps, quarts and gallons of shrimps; he is among
his own kind; there is no one to scoff when, to the music of the
concertina, he takes out his companion to dance in the road; he sings
his music-hall ditties unchecked; he bawls the cry of the day, and it is
counted unto him for infinite humor. Southend on Whit-Monday is a place
for the comic man and the comic artist; it is also the place for the
humorist.


[Illustration: The Shooting-Gallery.]


One must not be hard upon the Whit-Monday holiday-maker. He is at least
good-humored; there is less drunkenness than one would expect; there is
very little fighting, but there is noise—yes, there is a good deal of
noise. These children of nature, if they feel happy, instinctively laugh
and shout to proclaim their happiness. They would like the bystanders to
share it with them; they cannot understand the calm, cold and
unsympathetic faces which gaze upon them as they go bawling on their
way. They would like a friendly chorus, a fraternal hand upon the
shoulder, an invitation to a drink. Let us put ourselves in their place
and have patience with them.

I have already mentioned Epping Forest in connection with the cockney
hunt of Easter Monday. But to be seen in the true splendor of its beauty
Epping Forest must be visited in early June. It is the East Londoner’s
forest; fifty years ago he had two; on the east of Epping Forest lay
another and a larger, called Hainault Forest. It was disforested and
cleared and laid out in farms in the year 1850. Epping, however,
remains. It is about sixteen miles north of the river; encroachments
have eaten into its borders, and almost into its very heart. For a long
time no one paid any attention. Suddenly, however, it was discovered
that the forest, which had once covered twelve thousand acres, now
covered only three thousand. Three fourths had been simply stolen. Then
the City of London woke up, appointed a verderer and rangers, drew a map
of what was left, and sternly forbade any more encroachments. What is
left is a very beautiful wild forest; deer roam about its glades; for
the greater part of the year it is quite a lonely place, only receiving
visitors on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. It is a narrow,
cigar-shaped wood about a mile broad and eight miles long. There are
outlying bits on the north and on the south. The ancient continuity of
the forest is gone, but there are tangles of real wood and coppice here
and there; the central point of the forest, that which attracts most
people, is a small bit of wild wood lying on a hill. Here the ground is
rough and broken; everywhere are oaks, elms, beeches, and hornbeams,
with a veritable jungle of wild roses, sloes, thorns, and brambles. The
woods are filled with singing birds; the ground is covered with wild
flowers. Imagine the joy of the East Londoner on Whit-Monday when he
plunges up to his knees in the buttercups, the wild anemones, and the
flowering grasses, while the lark sings overhead, and thrush and
blackbird call from the woods around him, and the sun warms him and the
sweet air refreshes him. Such an one I followed once and watched. He was
a young fellow of twenty-one or so, with his wife, a girl of nineteen,
behind him. He had taken the pipe out of his mouth; instinctively he
felt that the pipe was out of place; he threw himself down upon the
grass and clasped his hands under his head. “Gawspel truth, old gal!” he
cried, out of the fullness of his heart. “It’s fine! It’s fine!”

It was fine, and it was Whit-Monday, and a hundred thousand others like
unto this young fellow and his bride were wandering about the forest
that day.

There are not many students of archæology in East London, which is a
pity, since there are many points of interest within their reach. All
round the forest, for instance, and within the forest there are
treasures. To begin with, there are two ancient British camps still in
good preservation; there is a most picturesque deserted church, called
old Chingford church; there is the ancient Saxon church, whose walls are
oaken trunks, put up to commemorate the halt of those who carried St.
Cuthbert’s bones; there is Waltham Abbey, where King Harold lies buried;
and if you take a little walk to the east you will find yourself at
Chigwell, and you may dine at the inn where, in the Gordon troubles, as
presented in “Barnaby Rudge,” the landlord found a trifle of glass
broken. But the joy in things ancient has not yet been found out by the
London workman. Now and again he is a lover of birds or a student of
flowers; for such an one Epping is a haunt of which he can never tire,
for it is the only place near London where he can watch heron, hawk,
kingfisher, and the wild water-fowl.

Or the people go farther afield by cheap excursion trains. Their coming
is not welcomed by the inhabitants of the towns which are their
destination. They go to Brighton or to Hastings; they sit in long rows,
side by side, upon the shingle idly watching the waves; they go to
Portsmouth and sit on Southsea beach watching the ships. They even get
across to the Isle of Wight. Last year I was at a little town in that
island called Yarmouth. I there made the acquaintance of an ancient
mariner who was employed by Lloyd’s to take the names of all the ships
which passed into the Solent, here a narrow strait. He told me in
conversation that I ought to see their church, which is old and
beautiful. I replied that I had attempted to do so, but found the door
shut. Upon which he gave me the following remarkable reason for this
apparent want of hospitality. I quote his words to show the local
opinion of the tripper. “You see,” he said, “it’s all along of they
London trippers. One Whit-Monday they came here and they found the
church doors open and in they went, nosebags and cigarettes and all.
Then the parson he came along, and he looked in. ‘Well,’ says the
parson, ‘Dash my wig!’ he says. ‘Get up off of them seats,’ he says,
‘and take your ’ats off your ’eads,’ he says, ‘and take they stinkin’
bits o’ paper out of your mouths,’ he says, ‘and get out of the bloomin’
church,’ he says. And he puts the key in his own pocket, and that’s why
you can’t get into the church.” The remarkable language attributed to
the parson on this occasion illustrates the depth of local feeling about
East London out on a holiday.

The August bank-holiday is a repetition of Whit-Monday, without the
freshness of that early summer day. By the end of July the foliage of
the trees has become dark and heavy; the best of the flowers are over in
field as well as garden; the sadness of autumn is beginning. All through
the summer, especially on Saturdays and Sundays, the excursion trains
are running in all directions, but especially to the seaside; the
excursion steamers run to Southend, Walton, Margate, and Ramsgate. For
those who stay at home there are the East-End parks, Victoria Park, West
Ham Park, Finsbury Park, Clissold Park, Wanstead Park. They are thronged
with people strolling or sitting quietly along the walks. All these
parks are alike in their main features; they are laid out in walks and
avenues planted with trees; they contain broad tracts of green turf;
there is an inclosure for cricket; sometimes there is a gymnasium, and
there is an ornamental water, generally very pretty, with rustic
bridges, swans, and boats let out for hire. Where there is no park, as
at Wapping and Poplar by the riverside, there are recreation grounds. In
all of them a band of music plays on stated evenings.


[Illustration: On Margate Sands.]


This restoration of the garden to the people is a great feature of
modern attempts at civilization; it seems terrible that there should be
no place anywhere for children to play except the streets, or for the
old people to sit except in the public house. London is now dotted with
parks, chiefly small and covered with gardens. Nearly all the
churchyards have been converted into gardens; the headstones are ranged
along the walls; they might just as well be taken away; one or two
“altar tombs” are left. The rest of the ground is planted with flowering
shrubs—lilac, laburnum, ribes, the Pyrus Japonica, and the like; the
walks are asphalted, and seats are provided. Nearly all the year round
one may see the old people walking about the paths or sitting in the
sun; part of the ground is given to the children. It is difficult,
indeed, to exaggerate the boon conferred upon a crowded city by these
breathing-places, where one can be quiet. The summer amusements of the
people, you will observe, are not all made up of noisy crowds and
musical trippers; add the summer evening walk in the park and, all the
year round, the rest in the garden that is a disused burial-ground.

For the children there is the day in the country. Every summer day long
caravans of wagons filled with children, singing and shouting as they
go, drive along the roads to the nearest country place, or excursion
trains crammed with children are carried off to the nearest seaside
places. They run about on the seashore, they bathe, they sit down to a
tea of cake and buns, and they are taken home at night tired out but
singing and shouting to the end. This summer “day out” is the one great
holiday for the children; they scheme to get put on the lists of more
than one excursion; they look forward to it; they count upon it. Every
year vigorous appeals are made in the papers for help to send the
children away upon their annual holiday; these appeals are of course
pitched extravagantly high; they talk a conventional jargon about the
little ones who grow up without ever gazing upon a green leaf or a tree.
Rubbish! There is not a street anywhere in London where a garden, if it
is only a disused burial-ground, is not accessible if the children
choose to go there. Mostly the very little ones prefer the dirt pies in
the gutter, but even for them the wagonette comes now and then to carry
them off for the whole day to the grass of Victoria Park. Still, it is a
very great thing that they should, once at least in the year, be carried
away into real country and have a glimpse of meadows, woods, and cows
and sheep.

When they grow older they are still better off. It is quite common now
for young men who carry on the Settlements and the boys’ clubs to get
the lads under their care to save up week by week until they have
amassed the sum of five shillings. On this capital, with management,
they are enabled to get a week’s holiday by the seaside. It is a
glorious time for them. A convenient place is found; it must be on the
seashore; it should be quite free from any town or village; there must
be no temptations of any kind; the lads are there to breathe fresh air
and life, quite cut off from any suggestion of town life. They sleep,
every boy in his own rug, on dry, clean straw in a barn, which is also
their refectory, their lecture-hall, their concert and their
singing-room. On the seashore there are boats for them; they row and
sail and they go deep-sea fishing; they bathe every day, and they have
swimming matches; on the sands they run races; in the evening they sing,
they box, they look at dissolving views, and they lie down on the straw
to rest. Their food is plain; it consists principally of boiled beef and
potatoes, with cocoa and coffee and bread and butter. Of course this
magnificent holiday demands a head and leader and obedience. But there
is hardly ever any hitch or breakdown or row among the lads.

The hopping, considered as an amusement, should be placed next, but we
have already shown the place it takes in the year of the factory girl.
It is indeed amusement to all concerned, especially if the weather be
fine; it is amusement with profit; the hoppers come home with a pocket
full of money; they have left their pasty cheeks in the country, and
they bring back rosy cheeks and freckled noses and sunburned hands, with
the highest spirits possible. The hopping, I confess, is not always
idyllic. Last autumn it was reported that Maidstone Gaol was filled with
hoppers charged with being disorderly; their camps might be conducted
with more care for cleanliness; London roughs should not be allowed to
come down on Sunday and mar this Arcadia. But the complainant, a
well-known clergyman of the district, spoke with moderated condemnation.
A more careful classification of the families in each encampment, he
thinks; some check on the Sunday drink, which now flows at the sweet
will of the people; some hindrance to the incursion of the Sunday rough;
a more careful system of inspection—these things would go far to remove
all reproach from the hopping. Meantime, as a proof of the substantial
results of the work the roadway outside the principal station for their
return was this year observed to be strewn with the old boots discarded
by the hoppers when they bought new ones on their way home.

The river Lea, which, according to some, is the natural boundary of East
London,—but it has leaped across that boundary,—is part of the summer
amusements. The stream at its mouth, where it is a tributary to the
Thames, is a black and murky river indeed. Higher up above the works it
is a pleasant little river, winding along at leisure through a broad,
marshy valley. The ground is soft and easy to be worked, the incline is
so gradual that it might easily and at small expense be made an
ornamental stream, moderately broad and able to carry racing boats,
flowing beside gardens and under summer-houses and between orchards from
its source to its mouth. Instead of this, it has been mercilessly
divided into “cuts,” channels, and mill-streams running off at wide
angles, joining again lower down, separating again into other cuts and
channels, again to unite. On its way it receives the refuse of mills,
the refuse of towns; it passes Ware and Ryehouse, Tottenham, Clapton,
and Hackney; its course unfortunately lies for the most part through a
broad level of soft earth—marshy and low—which permits these cuttings
and humiliations. It is accused of being a sewer; young men row upon it;
boys bathe in it, but with remonstrance and complaint. The stream is, it
must be confessed, in its lower reaches, offensive. Sore throats are
caught beside its banks; sometimes people write indignantly about it to
the papers. There is a little fuss, summer passes, in the winter no one
goes near the river Lea, things are forgotten, and all goes on as
before.

It is not possible for a river to flow for thirty miles without having
lovely stretches and picturesque corners. The Lea, with all its
drawbacks, does possess these inevitable lapses into beauty. But in
these pages we cannot stop to point them out. Where the Lea is beautiful
it is outside the widest limits assignable to East London. Where the Lea
is ugly, dirty, and disreputable, it used to form the eastern boundary
to East London.

In the brief sketch of the summer amusements I have said nothing of the
bicycle. Now, all the roads outside London are on Saturday and Sunday
dotted with the frequent bicycle. It goes out in companies of twenty and
thirty; it goes out by twos and threes; it goes out singly. On one
Sunday twenty-five thousand bicycles were counted crossing one bridge
over the Thames and making for the country beyond. And it seems that
there are none so poor as not to afford a bicycle. The secret is, I
believe, that a second-hand bicycle, or a bicycle of the last fashion
but one, or a damaged bicycle, may be purchased of its owner for a mere
trifle, and these lads learn very quickly how to repair the machine
themselves.

But the summer all too quickly draws to an end. By the middle of
September twilight falls before seven. There are no more evening spins
ten miles out and back again; by the end of October twilight falls at
five; then there are no more Saturday afternoons on the road. The
weather breaks, the roads are heavy, the bicycle is laid aside for the
next four months, perhaps for more, because the cold east wind of early
spring does not make the roads pleasant except for the hardiest and the
strongest. The winter amusements begin. For the factory girls and the
dockers we have seen what they are: the street first and foremost;
always the street, imperfectly lit, the pavement crowded; always the
street, in which the girls march up and down three or four abreast.
Their laugh is loud, but it is not forced; their jokes and their
badinage with the lads are commonplace and coarse, but they pass for
wit; they enjoy the quick pulse when all the world is young; they are as
happy as any girls in any other class; they need not our pity; youth, if
it has enough to eat and its evening of amusement, is always happy.

They have, then, the boulevard without the café, the street with the
public house and the invitation from youth, prodigal of its pence, to
step in and have a drink. In addition, they have the music-hall and the
theater. For some there is the club; but only a few, comparatively, can
be persuaded to go into the club for an hour or two every evening. Most
of them have no desire for a quiet place; they are obliged to be quiet
in the factory; at night they like to make up for the day’s long
silence.

So with their companions, the casual hands, the factory lads, the
Hooligans, the children of the kerb, they rejoice in the days of their
youth.

Let us mount the social scale; we come to the craftsman in steady work,
to the small clerk, to the small shopkeeper. Not that these are of equal
rank. The working-man consorts with other working-men; the small clerk
calls himself a gentleman; the small shopkeeper is a master. What have
they for amusements? The small shopkeeper seems to get along altogether
without any amusement. He keeps his “place” open till late in the
evening; he shuts it, takes his supper, and goes to bed. His social
ambitions are limited by the distinctions to be acquired in his chapel;
he reads a halfpenny journal for all his literature.

As for what is offered to those who will accept these gifts, there are
lectures first and foremost; there are the lectures offered every winter
at Toynbee Hall. These lectures are not, if you please, given by the
“man in the street”; the lecturers are the most distinguished men in
their own lines to be found; there is no talking “down” to the
Whitechapel audience; those serious faces show that they are here to be
taught, if the lecturer has anything to tell them, or to receive
suggestions and advice; they are all of the working-class; they are far
more appreciative than the audiences of the West End; they read and
think; they have been trained and encouraged to read and think by Canon
Barnett for many years; they are very much in earnest, and they do not
come with vacuous minds; as Emerson said of the traveler so we may say
of a man who listens to a lecture—he takes away what he brought with
him. About the Settlements and the gifts which they offer, with full
hands, to the people, I speak in the next chapter.


[Illustration: Toynbee Hall and St. Jude’s Church.]


What Barnett and Toynbee Hall have done for the intellectual side the
People’s Palace has done for the musical side. Its cheap concerts have
led the people, naturally inclined to music, insensibly into ways of
good taste; the palace was fortunate, at first, in getting a musical
director who knew how to lead the people on; one of the most gratifying
successes of this institution has been its music. They have now their
own orchestra, vocal and instrumental. At the same place are held
exhibitions, from time to time, of East London industries, of pictures,
of arts and crafts of all kinds. Here is the finest gymnasium in London,
and here are many clubs—for foot-ball, cricket, and games of all kinds.

One omission in the amusements of London must be noted. There are no
public dancing-halls. I see no reason at all why a public dancing-hall
should not be carried on with as much attention to good behavior as a
private dance, or a theater, or any other place where people assemble
together. It requires only the coöperation of the people themselves,
without the aid of the police. Meantime, there is no form of exercise,
to my mind, so delightful to the young and so healthful as dancing;
nothing that more satisfies the restlessness of youth than the rapid and
rhythmic movement of the limbs in the dance. Nature makes the young long
to jump about; education should take in hand their jumping and make it
part of the orderly recreation which we are substituting for the old
brutal sports. Dancing was tried at the People’s Palace; it was a great
success; the balls given in the Queen’s Hall were crowded, and the
people were as orderly as could be desired. But, indeed, the whole
feeling of the assembly was in favor of order.

The theater and the music-hall claim, and claim successfully, their
supporters; concerning the former one has only to recognize that it may
be a school of good manners, as well as of good sentiments, and that it
is also an institution capable of ruining a whole generation. The pieces
given at the theaters of East London are, so far as I have observed,
chiefly melodramas. The music-halls are places frankly of amusement, and
for the most part, I believe, vulgar enough, but not otherwise
mischievous.

And there is the public billiard-room, with all that it means—the
betting man, the professional player, the proximity to the bar, the beer
and the tobacco, and the talk. It attracts the young clerk more readily
than the young craftsman. It is his first step downward. If it does not
plunge him beneath the waves after the fashion that we have witnessed,
it will keep him where he is and what he is—a writing machine, a machine
on hire at a wage not so very much better than a typewriting instrument,
all his life. Let us rather contemplate the thousands of lads who attend
the classes at the palace, the polytechnics, and the Settlements; let us
rather think of those who crowd into the concerts, sit as students at
the lectures and listen and look on while the guide leads them round the
exhibitions.

In this long list of amusements I must have omitted some, perhaps many.
For instance, I have not spoken of reading or of literature. The
craftsman of East London has not yet begun to read books; at present he
only reads the paper; his children read the penny dreadfuls, and are
beginning to read books.

Considering that Sunday afternoon is especially the time of rest, we
must not forget one form of recreation peculiar to that time. It takes
the form of an address given in some chapel. There is generally a short
service, with prayer and the singing of a hymn; the people who attend
and crowd the chapel seem to like this addition to the address which
follows. It is intended to be of a kind likely to interest and to
instruct; the first duty of the lecturer is to choose a subject which
does both; I have myself on more than one occasion attempted to address
working-men on the Sunday afternoon; I have found them easy to interest
and quick to take up points. As at Toynbee Hall, one must not talk
“down” to them. Indeed, the men who come to such lectures are the most
intelligent and the best educated of the whole population. It is
pleasant and restful for them; the chapel is warm; the singing is not
disagreeable, even though in their own homes psalmody is not commonly
practised; to be called away on a dark and gloomy November afternoon and
led gently into another world, with new scenery and other conditions, is
that complete change which is the best rest of all. The lecturer need
not be afraid of tiring his audience; he may go on as long as he
pleases; when he leaves off they will crowd round him and beg him to
come again.

Many other omissions I have made purposely. There are the drinking and
the gambling clubs, the betting clubs, haunts, and dens, if one choose
to consult the police and to hunt them up, which would enable one to
finish this chapter with a lurid picture. Where there are so many men
and women there will always be found a percentage of the bad, the worse,
and the worst. It is the hopeful point about East London that wherever
the better things are offered they are accepted by the better sort; not
by a few here and a few there, but by thousands who are worthy of the
better things.


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                                  XII

                            THE HELPING HAND



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                                  XII

                            THE HELPING HAND


THE work that lies before us in every city waiting for the Helping
Hand—the human wreckage, bankruptcy, age, sickness, poverty, which must
always be forming anew however we may meet it and find alleviation—will
certainly not decrease as the years roll on. The point for us to
consider here is not the volume and variety of the forces which cause
this wreckage, but the attempts which are now being made to find this
alleviation and, if possible, a remedy.

The Helping Hand has a history, and it is very simple:

1. First of all it threw a penny to the beggar because he was a beggar.

2. Secondly, it offered free meals and free quarters in every monastic
house to every beggar because he was a beggar.

3. It continued to give the penny and the free meals and the lodging to
the beggar because he was a beggar, but it ordered the beggar to go back
to work.

4. It arrested, imprisoned, branded, and flogged the beggar because he
was a beggar. It continued also to give him a penny for the same reason.

5. It founded almshouses for some of the aged poor; those who could not
get in continued to receive their penny and their flogging because they
were beggars.

6. It founded workhouses, Bridewell, and houses of correction for the
beggar. And it continued to give that penny to the beggar because he was
a beggar.

7. It built houses for the reception of the poor who could no longer
work, infirmaries for the sick, orphanages and homes for poor children,
casual wards for the homeless. It made begging an offense in the eyes of
the law. Yet it continued to give the beggar a penny because he was a
beggar.

8. It discovered that a multitude of rogues and people who will not work
trade upon the charity and the pity of people, sending around letters
asking for help. It therefore established an association, with branches
everywhere, to expose the fraudulent. Yet it continued to give the
beggar a penny because he was a beggar.

In other words, the Helping Hand has never been able to refrain from
giving that penny which encourages the “masterless” man, and the man who
will not work, and the fraudulent, and the writer of the begging letter.
Could the Helping Hand be persuaded to refuse that penny for a single
fortnight, to turn a deaf ear resolutely to the starving family on the
road, to the starving children on the pavement, to the starving woman
who stands silent, mournful, appealing with mute looks of misery, only
for a single fortnight, the existence of the beggar would come to a
sudden end. This the Helping Hand can never be persuaded to do.
Therefore we have with us not only the real misery caused by fate, by
fortune, by the natural consequences of folly and weakness and crime,
but also the pretended misery of those who live upon the pity of the
world and trade on that strange self-indulgence which gives the dole to
remove an unpleasant object out of sight and to awaken the glow which
follows with the sense of charity.

I leave aside in this place the casual dole—the penny to the beggar
because he is a beggar; it is illustrated for all time by the partition
of the cloak between St. Martin and the beggar. The saint, then a
gallant cavalryman, did not stop—or stoop—to inquire into the merits of
the case; here was a beggar. Was he really starving? could he work? were
his sufferings pretended? was he really cold? did he deserve any help at
all? Was he, on the contrary, well fed and nourished, money in purse,
food in wallet, a sufficiency of clothes on his back, a fire and a pot
over it at home, with a well-fed family and a wife on the same “lay” at
the other gate of the city? Let us leave the Bishop of Ligugé as a type
for all the centuries of the unthinking charity which gives the penny to
the beggar because he is a beggar.

Let us turn to other and later developments. The Helping Hand has
founded and endowed and now maintains by voluntary contributions
hospitals of every kind for the sick; by rates and taxes, workhouses for
the poor, schools for the children. Yet there has passed—there is now
passing—over the work of charity a great and most remarkable revolution;
it is a revolution characteristic of a time in which every theory of
social life, social conditions, and social responsibilities has been
completely changed. The old duties remain still; schools and hospitals
have been multiplied; if almshouses have not increased, the workhouse
system has become better organized. But we have become aware of other
duties, of new responsibilities. It is now understood that it is not
enough to put the children to school from one to fourteen; they must be
looked after when they leave school; it is not enough to provide for the
diseases of the body; we must make provision for the diseases, and the
cause of the diseases, of the mind. The Helping Hand is at work in these
days for the arrest of degeneracy; for the opening up of art,
literature, music, science, culture of all kinds, to the better sort
among the working-classes; for the wider extension of the area and the
depth of culture; for the creation of that kind of public opinion which,
more than anything else, makes for public order and the maintenance of
law; for the care and safeguarding of young people at the perilous time
of emancipation from school; for the rescue of those who can be rescued;
for the cleansing of the slums; for the restoration to the world of
those who, as we have seen, have dropped out; and for the prevention of
pauperizing by ill-considered schemes of ill-informed benevolence.


[Illustration: The New Whitechapel Art Gallery. (The building to the
right is a free library.)]


These are general terms. In order to carry out its work in detail, the
Helping Hand looks after the children in their homes, while the
Board-school looks after their teaching; it provides cases for the
hospital, and aids the parish authorities during sickness in the home;
it introduces the social side into the lives of the better sort; it
devises attractions for the young people who stand at the parting of the
ways, where temptation is strong and the primrose path is bright with
flowers; it teaches the lads a trade, and the girls a love for the quiet
life; it wages war with the public house and the street; it endeavors to
bring back the lowest strata to a sense of religion which they have come
to think the peculiar and rather unaccountable property of “class”; it
brings friendliness among folk who have only known the order of the
policeman.

These are some of the functions which to-day are exercised by the
Helping Hand. In East London we can see the hand at work with greater
energy, wiser supervision, and in directions more varied than in any
other city of Great Britain. I do not venture, for the obvious reason of
ignorance, upon comparison with American cities, but I should think that
we have in East London, with its vast population of working-people of
all kinds, ranging from the highly-paid foreman to the casual hand, the
lad of the street, the wastrel, and the wreck, a mass of humanity which
is not paralleled anywhere, and a corresponding amount of philanthropic
endeavor which it would be impossible to equal elsewhere.

In this immense multitude there are many slums of the worst kind; but
they are now much fewer, and they are much less offensive, than they
were; the most terrible of the plague spots seem to have been improved
away; to find the real old slum, the foul, indescribable human pigsty,
one must no longer look for it in East London. That is to say, there
are, I dare say, a few of the old slums left, but the places—there were
then many of them—into which one peered, shuddering, twenty years ago,
have now vanished. The police, the clergy, the ladies who go about the
parish, can still take the visitor into strange courts and noisome
tenements, but he who remembers the former state of things feels that
light and air and a certain amount of public opinion, with some measure
of cleanliness, have been brought to the old-fashioned slum by the
modern Helping Hand.

If the American visitor to London desires to see a real old-fashioned
slum—one where all the surroundings, physical and moral, are, to use the
mild word of the day, absolutely “insanitary”—I would recommend him not
to try East London, where he would have to search long for what he
wants, but to pay a visit to Guy’s Hospital on the south side of the
Thames and to seek the guidance of one of the students through the
courts of crime and grime which still lie pretty thickly round that
fortress of the army of health.

If you read novels of the day describing things brutal beyond belief, it
will be well to suspect that the situations are a little mixed. Art must
exaggerate; art must select; art must group. In this way it is quite
possible that a picture tendered as of to-day may really belong to
twenty years ago. There is still plenty of misery left in East London—we
need, in fact, no exaggeration; I could fill these pages with lamentable
histories; the people are still very much “down below”; some of them are
a long way down; they are not only suffering for the sins of their
fathers, they are busily piling up by their own sins sufferings for
their children. Terrible has been their own inheritance; more terrible
still will be the inheritance of the children.

Among these people, being such as they are, a whole army is at work
continually. Let me now, in such short space as is at my command,
consider in detail some of the more important methods by which this army
is at work. It is not yet an army completely drilled and subdivided and
commanded; some of their work overlaps, or hinders, other work. Perhaps
it is not to be desired that this army should be completely drilled and
organized. We do not ask for the crystallized methods of French
education, or the iron drill of the Prussian sergeant. Let us leave some
room for individual choice. Given certain principles of action, the
element of personal freedom in carrying out these principles becomes of
vital importance.

I have spoken of the revolution in opinion as to the responsibilities of
the better educated and the wealthier toward those below them. Perhaps
the situation may be illustrated by considering the change that has
passed over us in our conception of what civilization should mean. The
view of the eighteenth century was that civilization, culture, the
pursuit of art, reading, learning of all kinds, science, the power, as
well as the right, of government belonged essentially to the upper
classes. When the good people of Spalding, for instance, in the year
1701, founded a literary society they called it the “Spalding
Gentlemen’s Society”—only gentlemen, you see, could be expected to take
any interest in things that belong to civilization. It was further
considered that it was impossible to expect civilizing influences to
bear upon the working-classes. They were kept in order by discipline, by
the prison, and by the lash. To open the doors of education, to give
them access to the tree of knowledge, would be a most dangerous, a most
fatal, mistake. Even at the present day one hears, at times, the belated
cry that the working-classes need no more than the barest elements of
learning.

In certain circles the distinction between the cultured class and those
outside was marked by artificial notes of manner and of speech. The
limits were intolerably narrow; outside these circles there was no
leadership, no statesmanship, possible.

But apart from the pretensions of the eighteenth-century aristocracy it
was considered by the middle class and the professional class alike
dangerous to interfere with Providence; the working-class were born to
do service; let them learn to do it. Religion, of course, they could
have if they wanted it; the church was there, the doors were open every
Sunday, anybody might go in; the clergyman would visit the sick, if he
were invited; the children were baptized in the church; some of the
people were married in the church; all the people were buried in the
churchyard, with the service of the church by law established. That was
all; there were very few schools; education, even if the parents wished
it, was not to be had, and the folk were left altogether to their own
devices. They had been forced out of the City to make room for
warehouses and offices; they lived in their own quarters, especially
along the riverside and in Whitechapel, and they were left quite alone
to their own devices.

There were no police; the hand of the law among these crowded streets
was weak; they did what they pleased. There is a story belonging to the
year 1790, or thereabouts, of a man living in Wapping, just outside the
Tower of London, which was always garrisoned with troops. This man gave
offense to his neighbors by complying with some obnoxious law. He heard
that they were going to attack him, meaning that they were going to
murder him. The man had the bulldog courage of his time; he sent away
his wife and children; he got a friend as brave as himself to join him;
he closed his lower shutters and barricaded his door; he laid in
ammunition, and he brought in and loaded two guns, one for himself and
one for his friend.

At nightfall the attacking party arrived; they were armed with guns and
stones. They began with a volley of the latter; the besieged paid no
attention; they then fired at the windows; the besieged received their
fire, and while they were loading again let fly among them, and killed
or wounded two or three. They retired in confusion, but returned in
larger numbers and with greater fury. All night long the unequal combat
raged. When their ammunition was spent the two men dropped out of a back
window into a timber yard, where they hid in a saw-pit. Observe that
this battle lasted all the night, close to the Tower, and that no
soldiers were sent out to stop it till the morning, when the mischief
was done and the house was sacked. And no one was arrested, no one was
punished, save the men who were shot. Can any story more clearly
indicate the abandonment of the people to their own devices?

Reading these things, remembering how brutal, how ignorant, how degraded
were whole masses of our people at that time, I am amazed that we came
out of that long struggle of 1792–1815 without some awful outburst, some
Jacquerie, like that of the Parisian mob, which might have drenched our
land, as it did that of France, with blood and murder. And I think that
when the social history of the nineteenth century, which we who have
lived in it cannot grasp, save in parts, comes to be really and
impartially considered, the chief feature, the redeeming point, will be
that it began to recognize in practice the elementary truths that we are
all responsible for each other, that each is his brother’s keeper, that
no class can separate itself from the rest, and that no civilization is
durable or safe unless it includes the whole people.

What, then, have we done? What have we attempted? What are our present
aims? It is not my purpose either to defend or to attack. I have only to
state what is being done. Nothing can be attempted in this direction
that is not open to abuses of one kind or another. The relief of
distress encourages the idle; help of every kind is seized upon by the
fraud and the impostor; if we feed and clothe the children their parents
have more money for drink; the most we can do is to choose the line that
seems open to the fewest objections and to exercise the most unremitting
vigilance, care, and caution. The worst feature in the whole chapter of
modern charity is that love and forbearance the most unwearied, devotion
the most unselfish, seem too often only to pauperize the people, to
induce more impudent frauds. But not always; we must take the line of
the greatest, not the least, resistance,—that which is hardest for the
worker, and certainly most unpopular with the subjects,—and we must
judge of results from what follows. All modern philanthropic effort
must, in order to be successful, be based upon the people understanding
quite clearly that such effort cannot, by any ingenuity or any lies and
legends, be turned to the encouragement of those who will not work.

I begin with the parish. There is at the present moment no more active
clergy in the world than our own; there is no organization more complete
than that of a well-worked London parish. The young men who now take
Holy Orders know, at the outset, that they must lead lives of perpetual
activity. There are the services of the parish church, with outlying
mission churches; there are Sunday-schools, there are clubs, there are
mothers’ meetings, there are amusements for the people—concerts and
entertainments for the winter; there is the supervision of the visiting
ladies who go about the parish and learn the history of all the tenants
in all the courts. There is the choir to be looked after, there are the
sick to be cared for, there are always people in distress and in need of
help—people for whom the vestry officers and workhouse officers can do
nothing; the despairing young clergyman very soon finds out that the
more you give to people who want help, the more people there are who
clamor for help; he has to learn, you see, the great lesson that in
certain social levels, where not to work should mean not to eat, no one
will do a stroke of work if he can avoid it. Some of the clergy never do
learn this lesson; they go on, all their lives, giving, doling,
distributing, and pauperizing.

The organization of a London parish on the modern line is amazing in the
extent of the aims and the variety of the work done. I have before me
the annual report of a parish. From this document, which is like most of
the other parochial annuals, it would seem the resolved endeavor of the
clergy to make every kind of helpful and civilized work spring from the
church and rest upon the church. In this report there are notices of
seventy-five associations of various kinds; among them are gilds and
fraternities, schools and classes; there are institutions purely
religious and purely secular; with the Bible classes and the gilds we
find the penny bank, the sharing club, the sale of clothes, the library,
the maternity society, the mothers’ meetings, the cookery class, and the
blanket society. All these associations are conducted by the vicar and
his four curates, assisted by a voluntary staff of about twenty ladies.
It is evident that without unpaid and voluntary assistance the work
could not be even attempted. The remarkable point—the “note” of the
time—is that this voluntary assistance is like the widow’s cruse—it
never fails.


[Illustration: The East London Mission.]


If, on the other hand, it is asked how far the people respond to the
assumption that everything is done by the church, it is necessary to
reply that the church, as a rule, remains comparatively empty. We have
seen elsewhere that the percentage of attendance at the Sunday services
of the parish or the district church was, fourteen years ago, a little
over three. Occasionally, however, when the vicar is a man of
exceptional character, one who succeeds in winning the respect and the
affection of the people so that they will follow him even into his
church, the services are well attended, and in the evening crowded.
There is, for example, a church in a district—a very poor and humble
district near Shoreditch: the church was built through the exertions of
the present vicar, who has succeeded in making the people attend. The
history of the man partly explains the phenomenon. Fifteen years ago,
when he went there, the place, consisting of a dozen miserable streets,
was one of the vilest kind. Violence, robbery, drunkenness, murder, life
in the most uncleanly forms imaginable prevailed in this slice of a
large, crowded parish, which this man cut off to make a parish by
itself. He sat down in the midst of them all, and he began. Observe that
the first lesson he had to teach them was that he was not afraid of
them; he was neither afraid of their threats nor of their proffered
violence nor of their tongues; he went about among the women—the owners
of those tongues—and opened up conversation with them; he spoke them
friendly; they gave him the retort unfriendly; he replied readily and
boldly, carrying the laugh against his adversaries; the common bludgeon
of Billingsgate he met with the gentle rapier of “chaff,” insomuch that
the women were first infuriated, then silenced, and then reduced to
friendliness, and, in this more desirable frame of mind, so remain. He
put up a temporary church; beside the church he started schools; he
opened a club for lads and the younger men; he provided his club with
things that attracted them—rough games and gymnastics; more than this,
he gave them boxing-gloves and taught them how to fight according to the
strict rules of the prize-ring. You think that this is not the ideal
amusement for a clergyman—wait a bit. The rules of the prize-ring are
rigid rules; they demand a good deal of study; they make boxing a duello
conducted according to rules of honor and courtesy. Now, when a lad has
learned to handle the gloves according to the rules he becomes a
stickler for them. Like Mrs. Battle over a game of whist, he exacts the
rigor of the game. As for the old methods—the stones in the knotted
handkerchief, the club, the short iron rod, and the cowardly boot—he
will have no more of them. Moreover, fifteen minutes with a stout
adversary, two or three returns to earth, and a shake-hand at the end,
knock the devil out of a lad—the devil of restlessness and of
pugnacity—give him a standard of honor, and make the rough-and-tumble in
the street no longer worthy of consideration.

Then the vicar built a “doss-house,” a place where men could sleep in
peace and cleanliness. And he lived among his people, spending every
evening of his life in club and doss-house and all day in the parish, so
that the people trusted him more and more; and not only did his club
overflow, but his church also began to fill—by this time it is no longer
a temporary thing of iron, but a lovely church, with painted windows and
carved work. In his services there is plenty of singing; he has
processions, which the people like, with banners and crosses, the choir
singing as they go. He also has incense, which I have never understood
to be other than a barbaric survival. Nor can I understand how any one
can endure the smell. Still, I suppose the people like it or he would
not have it, and, after all, for those who do like the smell it is
apparently harmless.

How many others have tried the same methods, but have failed! Why?
Because the one thing necessary for success in such work as this—nine
parts philanthropic and one part religious—is the magnetic power which
we call, in practical work, sympathy, and, in art or literature, genius.

The clergy, with or without this magnetic power, work day and night.
Never before has the Church of England possessed a clergy more devoted
to practical work. Never before, alas! has the Church possessed so few
scholars or so few preachers. Learning, save for a scholar here and
there, has deserted the Church of England. Eloquence has passed from her
pulpits to those of the Nonconformists. But the clergy work.
Unfortunately, the parishes are large; even a district church has often
ten thousand people or more, and those mostly poor, so that the struggle
would be, if it were not supplemented, almost hopeless.

It is supplemented in many ways. To begin with, in its civilizing work,
by the Board-school. The action of the London School Board is always
subjected to the fiercest light of hostile criticism, especially that of
the ratepayers, who have seen with disgust the rate mounting year by
year. There is, however, a consensus of agreement that the influence of
the schools has been to humanize the people in a manner actually visible
to all. The results are before us. The children of to-day are, it is
confessed even by opponents to the policy of the School Board, in every
respect better than those of twenty years ago, and this although,
despite laws and inspectors, there are still many children who escape
the meshes of the school net. The mothers understand that the teachers
demand certain things of them; that the children must present themselves
with hands and faces washed and with some attempt at neatness in their
dress; this gives rise to a certain shame at letting the children go
unwashed; perhaps, also, the thought of the school tyranny makes the
father remember on Saturday afternoon the responsibility of the
children, even to knocking off a pint or so.

As for the children themselves, they love the school and the teachers
and the lessons; this part of the day is their happiness. Whether in the
after life they will remember much of the scraps they learned—crumbs of
knowledge: the historical crumb, the geographical crumb—I know not, but
the important lessons of order and obedience are not readily forgotten;
they will remain; when these children grow up some of them will perhaps
join the company of disorder; but they will be rebels, not untaught
savages who know no law.

I have already spoken of the clubs for boys and girls. These clubs are
simply invaluable. They take the young people at a time when habits are
most easily formed, at a time of life when it is most desirable to give
them occupation and pursuits which will take them away from the dangers
of the streets.

For the better class of boys, those who should be taught the better
trades, especially those which require a knowledge of drawing,
designing, or machinery, there are the continuation schools, which are
carried on in the evening, and the Polytechnics. A Polytechnic is to the
young working lad what a public school or a college is to the upper
class. It not only teaches him a trade, that by which he is to live, but
it gives him discipline, obedience, responsibility, and the sense of
duty. It makes a man of him; it gives him honor and self-respect. There
are now lads in the London Polytechnics by thousands; many of them will
go out to the colonies; whether they emigrate or whether they stay at
home, they will become the very cream and flower of the working-people;
they will stand up wherever fate leads them as lifelong champions for
soberness and for industry. Not for them will be the wild dreams of
anarchy; not for them the follies of an impossible socialism; not for
them the derision of religion; not for them the hatred of the rich or
the jealousy of class. Not the least among the benefits and advantages
of the Polytechnic is the _esprit de corps_ promoted among them; they
are as proud of their “Poly” as any lad of Eton or any man of Balliol.
And the latest arrival from the place, wherever he goes, is sure to find
friends and advisers and helpers among the old boys of his “Poly.”

The Helping Hand in education is of such great importance that one may
dwell a little upon the machinery by which a clever and persevering lad
may rise from the very lowest levels to any honor or distinction which
the country has to offer. It is chiefly the Technical Education Board, a
body which has been in existence for some ten years, which supplies the
ladders. This Board is empowered by the London County Council to assist
in supplying technical instruction to schools and institutions which are
not conducted for private profit. The Board spends the sum of £170,000 a
year in maintaining and developing classes for technical education. The
most important of these institutions are the Polytechnics above
mentioned. There are twelve of these in and about London, of which two
are in our quarter of East London. The number of students in
Polytechnics—all of them, it is needless to say, of the
working-class—amounts to 45,000. The cost of maintaining them is
£120,000, of which the Board of Technical Education contributes £30,000;
a large sum is given by the City Charities Commission, and the rest is
given by half a dozen rich City companies. It is evident we have here a
very serious attempt at providing technical education for lads who are
to become the skilled workmen of the future. Formerly they were
apprenticed to various trades; the system of apprenticeship has fallen
into disuse; but it is found highly necessary, if this country is to
hold her own against foreign competition, to train the lads in workshops
and laboratories where they may learn every branch of their own trade.
There are excellent and fully equipped laboratories at the People’s
Palace and one or two other Polytechnics. As for the trades taught, they
are far too numerous to set down. All those trades which are connected
with engineering, with metal work, with gold- and silver-smiths’ work,
with enameling, wood engraving, bookbinding, decorating and painting,
carpentry, furniture- and cabinet-making, and a hundred other trades are
taught in these colleges of industry. There are art schools also for the
teaching of design, decoration, and all the art requirements of the
trades.

For the encouragement of the lads who have left school and are willing
to carry on their work the continuation classes were formed. The
Technical Board has established a system of scholarships by which a
ladder is placed in readiness for any boy or girl who can climb it.
There are six hundred small scholarships given every year by examination
to boys and girls who have passed the sixth standard in the elementary
schools; they are in value £8 for the first year, and £12 for the second
year. After two years the second ladder is reached. The student who has
shown, so far, that he is able to climb the ladder and would now give
further proof of ability, must be under sixteen, and his parents must
not be in the receipt of more than £400 a year. He may then gain by open
competition a scholarship giving him free education at some recognized
college of higher education, together with about £30 a year in money.
After three years, if he is able to climb still higher,—the number of
competitors now narrows,—he has a grand chance before him; he may win a
scholarship giving him free education at any university he may choose,
with £60 a year, tenable for three years. There are at present many such
scholars in residence at Oxford, Cambridge, and other universities.

In addition to these, the Board gives scholarships for art, for science
and technology, for horticulture, for sanitary science, and for domestic
economy. Besides this industrial help, the Board provides lectures,
especially for clerks, on commercial subjects.

It will be understood that by means of these scholarships a boy may work
his way, at little or no cost to his friends, from the position of
craftsman to that of a graduate in honors of Oxford and Cambridge. Think
what this means! The boy is lifted straight from the life of manual
labor, very likely monotonous labor, which is the lot of most, in which
he can never attain to fortune, honor, or distinction, to the life of
intellectual work; his companions will be those who stand in the very
forefront of science, literature, and art. A fellowship at his college
will enable him to be called to the bar; he may then aspire, with
reasonable hopes of success, to the honors of Queen’s counsel, Judge,
Solicitor-General, Chief Justice, or even Lord Chancellor. He may go
into the Church, and look forward, if with learning he has acquired
administrative power and preaching power, and, let us add, manners, to
becoming a bishop; he may remain at the university, a lecturer and
teacher of his own subject; he may become a professor of science, or he
may become an expounder of history. He may become a physician or a
surgeon. He may become a journalist, a dramatist, a novelist, a poet.
Whatever line he enters upon, he has climbed, by means of these three
ladders, up into the higher ranks, with all that the word means. He has
become, if he chooses,—and he cannot help choosing,—a gentleman. The
poor lad who climbs up does not always, it is true, become a gentleman.
Sometimes there remain still clinging to him certain rusticities;
sometimes ancestral traits, such as a thirst for strong drink, seize
him. As a rule, however, the lad who has climbed remains, he and his
children after him, in the rank, so dear to the British soul, of
undoubted gentility. If the sins of the father are visited upon the
children, then, surely the achievements and the virtues of the father
shall bring their rewards to the children—yea, even unto the third and
fourth generation.


[Illustration: The New Model Dwellings.]


After the parish work and the work of education I had placed that of
housing, but this has already been sufficiently considered.

The care of the sick comes next upon my list. There is a continual cry
ascending to the regions of the rich concerning the insufficiency of
hospital endowments. There is certainly no city better provided with
hospitals than London, nor any city where more money is annually
subscribed for their maintenance, nor any where the medical staff are
paid so little and do so much. In East London there is the magnificent
foundation of the London Hospital, which receives 11,500 in-patients
every year, has an endowment of £20,000 a year, and an additional
income, from voluntary subscriptions, of £40,000 a year. The story of
the Children’s Hospital and its beginnings in the hamlet of Ratcliffe
has been already told. And there are, in addition, “homes” of all kinds,
crêches for infants, nursing societies, and dispensaries. One mentions
these in passing, but a catalogue of endowments is not necessary.

Among the organizations for help must not be forgotten the fraternities
for mutual assistance, such as the Odd Fellows, the Foresters, and the
Hearts of Oak. These associations do not belong exclusively to East
London, but they have extensive branches here, and are, I believe, well
managed and on sound principles. They offer assistance in times of
misfortune, medical aid in sickness, and care of the widows and
fatherless. In this place they can only be mentioned.

For the women, a very large society is that called the
M.A.B.Y.S.—_i.e._, the “Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young
Servants.” It began by befriending young servants from the
workhouse—girls generally friendless and very forlorn—and has now
extended its work to include all young servants. Every lady in the
society undertakes the care of one or more servants, whom she visits or
invites to her own house on the Sunday “out.” These friendships are
often lifelong, and produce the best possible results.

The position of the workhouse girl is sometimes very pitiful. One such
girl recently came to my knowledge. In this case the girl had been
picked up as a baby in the streets; she had no family, no name, no
friends, no birthday even. When she found a friend in the M.A.B.Y.S. she
asked permission to take her friend’s birthday for her own, and to call
her friend’s cook her aunt, so that she might feel that she too could
enjoy, if only in imagination, what all the rest of the world
possesses—a birthday and a family.

There are six or seven free libraries in East London. Who was the
benefactor to humanity who first invented or discovered the free
library? Who was the philanthropist who first advocated the free
library? I do not know. But when one realizes what the free library
means one is carried away by admiration and gratitude. By means of the
free library we actually give to every person, however poor,—we _give_
him, as a free gift,—the whole of the literature of the world. If he
were a millionaire he could not acquire a greater gift that the poorest
lad enjoys who lives near a good free library. He can take books home
with him; he can study any subject he likes, if he is a student; or he
may read for his own pleasure only, and for amusement. More than this,
since none but good and worthy literature should be admitted to the free
library the readers cannot use its treasures without forming, purifying,
and elevating their taste. Now, taste in literature leads naturally, it
is believed by some, to corresponding preferences as regards the major
and the minor virtues and their opposites. For my own part, I regard the
librarian of a free library as a guardian of morals, a censor, a
teacher; those who receive books of him receive the continual
admonitions of the wisest and the best of men. A course of Shakspere is
in itself an education; a course of Scott may be said to teach history;
and a course of the best fiction in our language teaches what is meant
by the grand old name of gentleman. I look for the time when the demand
for books by the mass of the public will be in itself a selection of the
best and finest; when it will be impossible to reproach the people, as
is done to-day, with buying the ephemeral trash that is offered at a
penny, and neglecting the scholars and the poets and the wise ones of
ancient days. The free library is doing for the working-people what the
circulating library cannot do for its readers who go in broadcloth and
in silk. In the time to come, in the immediate future, it will perhaps
be the latter who read the rubbish and the former who will create the
demand for the nobler and the higher work.

Mention has already been made of the Sunday afternoon lecture. Other
attempts have been made to brighten the Sunday afternoon, always in
winter a difficult time to get through. There are organ recitals at the
People’s Palace, social meetings, with talk and sometimes lantern views,
and short addresses.

Perhaps the work that is done in East London for the waifs and strays is
the most remarkable, as it is certainly the most interesting.


[Illustration: Dr. Barnardo’s Home, Stepney Causeway.]


Those who have read Defoe’s “Colonel Jack” will remember the wonderful
picture which he presents of the London street boy. That boy has never
ceased to live in and about the streets. Sometimes he sleeps in the
single room rented by his father, but the livelong day he spends in the
streets; he picks up, literally, his food; he picks it up from the
coster’s barrow, from the baker’s counter, from the fishmonger’s stall,
when nobody is looking. For such boys as these there are Barnardo’s
Homes, where waifs and strays to any number are admitted, brought up,
trained to a trade, and then sent out to the colonies. Five thousand
children are in these homes. The history is very simple. Dr. Barnardo, a
young Irish medical student, came to London with the intention of giving
up his own profession and becoming a preacher. He began by preaching in
the streets; he picked up a child, wandering, homeless and destitute,
and took it home to his lodgings; he found another and another, and took
them home too. So it began; the children became too many for his own
resources; they still kept dropping in; he took a house for them, and
let it be known that he wanted support. The rest was easy. He has always
received as much support as he wanted, and he has already trained and
sent out to the colonies nearly ten thousand children. There are also
many less important homes and associations for indigent children, homes
for homeless boys, homes, refuges, and societies for girls; industrial
homes, female protection societies, orphanages, in long array. Most of
these societies are, however, limited as to income; a great part of
their funds goes in management expenses. If they would be persuaded to
unite, a great deal more might be done, while each society, with its
honorary officers, could be carried on in accordance with the intentions
and ideas of its founders and supporters.

Homes and schools for the boys and girls, hospitals for the adult, there
remain the aged. Dotted about all over London there are about a hundred
and fifty almshouses; of these about half are situated in and about East
London. Not that the people of East London have been more philanthropic
in their endowments than those of the west, but, before there was any
city of East London, almshouses were planted here on account of the
salubrity and freshness of the air and the cheapness of the ground. Some
of these have been moved farther afield, their original sites being
built over. The People’s Palace, for instance, is built upon the site of
the Bancroft almshouses, founded in 1728 for the maintenance and
education of one hundred poor. Their original house has gone, but the
charity is still maintained.

I have always been astonished to think that this most excellent form of
charity, one least of all liable to be abused, has gone out of fashion.
If I were rich I should rejoice in creating and founding an almshouse
for the admission and maintenance of as many old men and old women as I
could afford, or as the college which I should build would admit. There
are still some delightful almshouses left in London, although so many
have been removed; those that remain stand beside the crowded
thoroughfares, each one a lesson in charity and pity; there is the
stately Trinity Almshouse in the Whitechapel road, with its two courts
and its chapel and its statue of the founder and the good old men, the
master mariners, who live there; and close beside, unless it has been
lately removed, an almshouse of the humbler kind, but quite homely and
venerable. My almshouse, if I were privileged to build and endow one,
should have its refectory, as well as its chapel; my old people should
have their dinner together, and their common hall for society in the
winter evenings; they should have, as well, their gardens and their
quadrangle and the sense of belonging to a foundation beautiful in its
buildings, as well as charitable in its objects.

The existing almshouses by themselves go very little way toward keeping
the aged out of the workhouse; but there are other aids which carry us
on a little farther, societies which give annuities and pensions to
various persons. On the list more than a hundred different trades are
represented. Among them is one for flower girls and water-cress venders.
This, however, despite its unpretending title, has grown into a very
large and important society. Under this title are conducted industrial
and servants’ training homes, a cottage hospital, a home for waif girls,
an orphanage, a shelter and clubroom for street flower-sellers, and a
seaside holiday home for blind and helpless and crippled girls,
ineligible for ordinary homes—the whole with an income of over £7000,
and giving assistance to 12,000 girls a year. This, like the association
for befriending young servants, has grown gradually out of small
beginnings, and in a space of thirty years has attained to its present
dimensions.

So numerous are the societies and the charities of every kind that one
thinks there ought not to be any distress, any destitution, any vice in
this City of London. Alas! It is a city of five millions, and out of
this multitude there are many who will not work, many who deliberately
desire the life of vice and crime, and still more who, if the Helping
Hand offers relief without question or condition, will swell the numbers
of those who are wilfully helpless and deliberately destitute. The power
of working is easily lost, and with difficulty regained. The
administration of charitable funds is a most difficult task.

Fourteen years ago, in a time of exceptional distress, the Lord Mayor,
in the kindness of his unreflecting heart, opened a subscription for the
relief of the unemployed. A very large sum was collected in a few days.
Of course this became known not only over all London, but over the whole
country. Then there began a mighty migration; wave after wave of hungry
applicants arrived by every train; the glorious prospect of obtaining a
gift of money without doing anything for it attracted thousands; they
gave up work in order to be eligible; they magnified the amount of the
gift, in anticipation; when the day of distribution arrived they fought
for admission, they threatened to brain the distributors, they took
tickets which entitled them to food and sold them at the public house;
in the end that act of charity developed and strengthened the pauper
spirit in hundreds of thousands; those who had been working for the
better exercise of charity were in despair; to this day the memory of
that day of free gifts, without question and without conditions, lies in
the mind of the working-man who will not work, and nerves him for
another spell of idleness and starvation.

In this attempt to stay the hand that grants the unthinking dole the
Charity Organization Society stands in the forefront. It has offices and
branches everywhere; it intervenes between the rich man and the poor; it
says to the former, “Never give him money, you will only keep him poor;
make him understand that money means conditions of work and effort; do
not turn the unemployed into a pauper.” To the workhouses the Charity
Organization Society says, “Do not give outdoor relief; do not accustom
the sturdy poor to look for doles of bread and orders on the butcher.
Make them go into the house if they want help.” It is better to be cruel
when kindness means weakness, and doles mean pauperizing. The temptation
to give is like the temptation to take opiates. To give relieves the
discomfort of knowing how others are suffering. To give brings food to
the children, fire to the hearth; it also enables the breadwinner to
spend in drink what he should take home to his wife, and it makes the
wives and children accustomed to receive alms, and to look to alms for
the supplies which are only deficient through their own improvidence and
vice. The Charity Organization Society is known and detested by every
thriftless loafer, every beggar, every impostor, every begging-letter
writer in the country; it is also known and detested by that large class
of sentimentalists who give money wherever there is none, who bribe the
women by doles to come to church, and who interpret certain words of our
Lord, as they were interpreted by the monastic houses, into an
injunction to give without question and to relieve without condition.

I come next to a form of philanthropic endeavor concerning which it is
difficult to speak unless in terms of extravagant admiration.

I mean the Settlement, which is spreading and taking root in all great
cities both in America and in Great Britain.

The Settlement very properly began in East London, as the place which
stood most in need of it. There are now some thirteen or fourteen
Settlements in London, of which six, I believe, belong to East London.
There are Settlements in Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester, and Edinburgh.
There are, I believe, speaking under correction, more than twenty in the
greater cities of the United States.

It is now fifteen years since the first creation of the Settlement. What
is it? What was at first proposed? What has it done? We may answer these
questions by the help of Canon Barnett, its real founder. (See
“University and Social Settlements,” chapter ii.)

The Settlement sprang out of a profound distrust of the machinery by
which the Helping Hand could reach the people. It seemed to many that
this machinery hindered rather than helped. The Charity Organization
Society was proving with pitiless statistics and cruel logic that the
widespread system of doles was crushing the spirit of independence in
the poor; the experience of the present, as well as that of the past
taught them that laws cannot touch the restless and the improvident;
they saw that refuges might receive the unhappy, but could not touch or
remove the cause of unhappiness; they discovered that societies for
relieving the poor were too often machines which blindly acted by a
hard-and-fast rule, maintained many officials, and made no attempt at
prevention or improvement. Also they saw that with all the machinery of
the parish and despite the self-denying work of the clergy there had
been little less than a complete failure in inspiring among the people
the faith and hope of religion and its self-restraining powers.

There was also, thanks to certain influences which it would take us long
to discuss, a growing recognition of certain evils, such as the
separation of the rich from the poor, the withholding from the poor of
so many things enjoyed by the rich, the condescension of rich to poor,
an exclusive spirit on the one side and a natural resentment on the
other, and a conviction that something should be done to resist these
evils. In other words, the feeling was gradually growing, especially
among certain groups of young men of Oxford and Cambridge, that
civilization should belong not to one class but to all classes; that the
things which we believe to be the most important—knowledge, art,
manners, beauty, purity, unselfishness—should be made possible for the
working-man, if he will accept them, as well as for the rich. The root
idea, therefore, of a Settlement is the example, the teaching and the
maintenance of what we call the life of culture among the
working-classes.

By example—for the members of the Settlement live among them, go about
with them, live in the sight of all The working-man dines with them,
spends the evening with them, talks with them. He finds that their mode
of life is simple; that the luxury he has been taught to believe as the
common rule among the easy class does not exist among these members of
that class; that cleanliness, using the word to cover everything—the
home, the meals, the person, the daily habit—is the first thing
necessary; that knowledge may be pursued for its own sake, and not
because it has a commercial value and is saleable; and that these men
and women have come to live in his quarter without the least intention
of giving him any money or of taking off his shoulders any one of his
own responsibilities.

Next, by teaching. The Settlement has its library, its class-rooms, its
lecture-room, and its fifteen hundred students—yet it is not a college.
The residents do not all teach. The visitor thinks perhaps that if they
are not come to teach, their object is to preach temperance and to get a
hold over the criminal classes. Nothing of the kind; the Settlement is
not a mission. Nor, again, is it a Polytechnic, despite the manifold
studies that are carried on. The lads of the Polytechnic learn a trade
by which to live; the students at the Settlement make a study of some
science. Nor is it in the narrow sense a charitable institution. In a
Settlement every resident carries on his own life in his own way; he
does not stoop to the ways of the people around; he is not their
benefactor; he is not a superior person; he is just one man among the
men all round him into whose interests he enters and whose ideas he
endeavors to understand.

In all countries governed by our institutions or by those which have our
institutions as their basis the duty of the individual citizen to his
town and to his state is assumed as essential for the government of the
people by the people. A man who deliberately abstains from exercising
the right to vote, who leaves to any who please to snatch it the
government of his own city, is little less than a traitor to the cause
of freedom; he enjoys rights which have been won for him by his fathers,
but refuses to watch over and to defend those rights. It is the work of
the Settlement to teach this duty and to set the example. The
constitution of a municipality assumes that citizens will give, freely
and without pay, such time as is wanted for the conduct of the municipal
affairs. In local government the Settlement carries on a quiet work
which is perhaps more effective than its classes and its lectures. The
members become guardians and vestrymen; they sit on school boards, they
are school visitors, they inspire every branch of local government with
the sense of duty and of principle. For the members themselves the
Settlement teaches and requires, as Canon Barnett points out, “the
surrender of self-will and of will worship.”


[Illustration: Mile End Almshouses.]


For those who come under the influence of the Settlement it destroys
class suspicion, it removes prejudices; the working-men discover that
those whom they call, in a lump, the rich are not what their radical
orators of Whitechapel Waste believe and teach; they make friends where
they thought to find only enemies; they learn the things in which the
rich are happier than themselves—the cleanly life, the power of
acquiring knowledge, the possession of, or the access to, art of all
kinds, more gentle manners, greater self-restraint, and in the cases
before their eyes unselfishness and the power of working without pay,
without praise, without apparent reward of any kind. Above all, there is
no hidden motive; Canon Barnett’s church stands beside the Settlement of
Toynbee Hall, but there is no invitation, no condition, no pressure put
upon the people to step out of the Settlement into the church. There is
no teaching of politics; there is no attempt to introduce shibboleths;
there are no bribes, unless it is the pressure of the friendly hand and
the pulse of the sympathetic heart; the evenings spent with gentlewomen
and gentlemen, the patient teaching, the lecture by a man whose name is
known over the whole world—unless these things be considered bribes,
then the Settlement offers none.

In education, then, the Settlement has classes which learn all kinds of
sciences, but not for trade purposes; it has lectures by great, or at
least by distinguished, men; it offers exhibitions of pictures the same
as those presented to West End people; it encourages the formation of
clubs and associations of all kinds; it opens the library to everyone;
it leads the way in local government; it offers recreation that shall be
really _recreative_; it enrolls the boys in athletic clubs, and gives
them something to aim at and to think about; it gathers in the girls and
keeps them from the dangers of long evenings with nothing to do; it is a
center for the study of the labor problems and difficulties of all
kinds. In one word, the Settlements of East London, where I know most of
their workings, are set up as lamps in a dark place; they are not like
an ordinary lamp which at a distance becomes a mere glimmer; the lamp of
the Settlement, the more widely its light penetrates, the farther the
darkness recedes; the deeper is the gloom, the more brightly shines the
light of this lamp so set and so illuminated and so maintained.

Should the workhouse be considered as any part of the work of the
Helping Hand? It should be, but it cannot be. Whatever the state touches
in the way of charity or philanthropy it corrupts and destroys, whether
it is the workhouse or the prison or the casual ward. As for the London
workhouse, it is simply a terrible place. It is a huge barrack; it
contains over a thousand inmates; they are all alike herded and huddled
together, the respectable and the disreputable; there is no distinction
between misfortune and the natural consequence of a wasted life. The
system is a barbarous survival of a time when the system was not so
barbarous because the respectable poor were much rougher, coarser,
ruder, and nearer to the disreputable poor. It must be reformed
altogether. There ought not, to begin with, to be this kind of barrack
life for the respectable poor; there should be municipal almshouses.
Meantime the poor folk themselves hate the workhouse; they loathe the
thought of it; they are wretched in the shelter of it; you may see the
old men and the old women sitting in gloomy silence, brooding over their
own wreck; they have nothing else to do; they are prisoners; they cannot
go in and out as they please; they are under strict rule, a rule as
rigid as that of any prison; they have no individuality; they all try to
cheat the officers by smuggling in forbidden food; they are at the mercy
of Bumble, who may be a very dreadful person, not comic in the least.
The most unhappy are those who should be the objects of the greatest
pity, the brokendown, able-bodied man, too often bent with
rheumatism—the English agony—or some other incurable disease. Such an
one enters into this place, where all hope must be abandoned; we use the
phrase so often that we hardly understand what it means. No hope at
forty but to lead the rest of life without work, without change, without
comforts; to be deprived of tobacco, beer, meat, society, mental
occupation; to live on among the other wrecks of humanity, with so much
bread every day, so much suet pudding, so much cocoa, so much pea soup,
so much tea. Can the workhouse be truly called part and parcel of the
work of the Helping Hand?

Let us end, as we began, with the lower levels. Very far, indeed, below
the working-men who attend the lectures and the drawing-room of Toynbee
Hall are the submerged and the casuals, the dockers, the wanderers, and
the criminals at large. What is done for them? They are, of course,
looked after with the utmost zeal and attention by the police, by the
officers of the vestry, and by the magistrates. But these agencies are
not exactly reformatory in their character.

I have spoken of the Settlement as one of two forces now acting upon the
mass of the people which seem to promise the most powerful influence
upon the future. The second of these two forces I believe to be the
social work of the Salvation Army. I am not speaking of their religious
efforts; they do not appeal, as a rule, to the educated; on the other
hand, I would not speak a word in disrespect of efforts which I know to
be genuine and which I know to have been attended with signal success in
the reclaiming of thousands from evil ways.

The first step in the social work of the Salvation Army is the opening
of a lodging-house of the cheapest kind. So far, against great
opposition, they have, I believe, succeeded in keeping it free from the
ordinary law as regards common lodging-houses—viz., the visit of the
policeman whenever he chooses either to see that there is no disorder or
because he “wants” somebody, and so in the middle of the night tramps
round the dormitories, turning his bull’s eye upon the faces of the
sleepers. It is most important that the poor creatures in the place
should feel that in that shelter at least they will not be hunted down.
The men have to pay for their lodging—the price of a bed varies from
twopence to fourpence; the beds are laid in bunks; they are covered with
American cloth; they are provided each with a thick blanket; foot-baths
and complete baths are ready for them; a cup of cocoa and a large piece
of bread cost a trifle; they are received in a light, warm, and spacious
hall; they are invited every evening to join in a short service, with
singing and an address. In the morning those of them who choose lay
their cares before the superintendent, who sends them on to the Labor
Bureau, where in most cases, if the man is willing to work, something is
found for him.

They have, next, workshops where all kinds of work are undertaken and
turned out; homeless and friendless lads are received in these workshops
and taught trades. Whatever may be the previous record of a case, the
man received is treated as a friend; his past is regarded as already
finished and done with, perhaps already atoned. He is made to understand
that if he would return to the world he must work for every step; by
work alone he is to get food, shelter, and clothes; beside him at every
step stands the officer in whose charge he has been placed. He is
constantly watched, without being allowed to entertain any suspicion
that his conduct is under careful supervision.

If you visit one of these workshops you will be astonished at the show
of cheerful industry. Everyone seems doing his very best. Some of this
apparent zeal is genuine; some of it is inspired by passing emotion and
evanescent passion or repentance; out of the whole number so many per
cent. give up the work and go back to the old life. But some persevere.

I have already spoken of the English prison. The cry of the wretched
prisoner goes up continually, but in vain. The long agony and torture,
especially to the young, of the solitary cell, the enforced silence, the
harsh punishments, the insufficient food, the general orders which will
allow of no relaxation in any case, the system which turns the most
humane of warders into a machine for depriving his prisoner of
everything that makes a man—these things crush the unhappy victim. After
a long sentence—say of two years—this poor wretch comes out broken; he
has no longer any will, any resource, any courage; he is like a cur
whipped and kicked into a thing that follows when it is bidden.

Let me again recall the appearance of these unhappy creatures on the
morning of their deliverance. They sit spiritless, obedient, not
speaking to each other or to their new friends, waiting for some fresh
order. It is pitiful to look at the semblance of manhood and to think
that this—this is the method adopted by the nation in its wisdom in
order to punish the crime and to reform the criminal. When the sentence
is over they escort him to the gates of the prison; they throw the doors
open wide and say, “Go, and sin no more.” What is the wretched man to
do, but to go and sin again? No one will employ him. He has lost his
skill and sleight of hand. He has lost his old pride in his work; he
cares for nothing now. It is a hard world for many; it is a black,
hopeless, despairing world for the man who once enters or comes out of
an English prison. There is a poem, written the other day, by one who
endured this awful sentence—a scholar and a man of culture:

               “With midnight always in one’s heart,
                    And twilight in one’s cell,
                We turn the crank, we tear the rope,
                    Each in his separate hell.
                And the silence is more awful far,
                    Than the sound of a brazen bell.”

               “And never a human voice comes near,
                    To speak a gentle word.
                And the eye that watches through the door
                    Is pitiless and hard;
                And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
                    With soul and body marred.”

The officers of the Salvation Army’s Home welcome their guests with warm
hand grasps and friendly words. What, however, is to be done to find
them work to go on with? Not far from the home there is a disused
chapel; in this place some thirty or forty of the discharged prisoners
are engaged in sorting waste paper. Others go out and collect it; there
is paper of all sorts—fine note-paper, coarse paper, packing paper,
newspaper, everything. The men sort this in crates, and so earn a few
pence a day. It is a rude beginning for the new life; many of them lose
heart; the uphill fight, the long strain of patience until work of a
better kind is found is too much for them; they relapse, they disappear
in the streets, they are seen no more for a time, until one day they are
met again at the prison gates and are led back to the home they
deserted, where they meet with the same welcome and where they are
encouraged to make another attempt.

Some five and thirty miles from London on the east, where the coast of
Essex rises in a low hill facing the Thames estuary and overlooking an
island which has been reclaimed from the mud, there lies a large farm,
which is unlike any other farm in the country. It is, in fact, the
colony of the Salvation Army. Here they bring men whom they have dragged
out of the mire and the depths. They bring here the clerk who has ruined
himself by a loose life, the working-man who has fallen by reason of
drink, the weak creature who has habitually taken the Easy Way, the
criminal from the prison, the sturdy rogue, the slouching thief—they are
all brought here and they are turned on to the farm. There are between
two and three hundred of them. When they come here they are for the most
part unable to do a day’s work; they are unable to lift a spade or to
wield a hoe. They are set to light work until they recover a little
strength and muscle—there is work of all kinds on a farm. On this farm
they grow fruit and vegetables; they have dairies, and make butter and
cheese; they have cattle and sheep and pigs and poultry. And they have a
very large brick-making industry. The men live in small detached
barracks; there are not many rules of conduct; they are paid by the
piece, and they buy their own food, which is sold at prices as low as
will pay for the cost; they may smoke in the evening if they please;
they may read; they may go to bed when they please; they are not
perpetually exhorted to religion, but they are made to feel that the
house rests on a religious foundation.


[Illustration: “The Bridge of Hope,” a Well-known East End Night
Refuge.]


How does the farm get on as a commercial venture? Does it pay its way?
To begin with, it belongs to the Salvation Army; there is consequently
no rent to pay; against this advantage must be set the fact that the
men, when they are first sent down, are practically useless, and that it
takes three or four months before their strength returns to them. The
farm, however, pays its way, or very nearly. If it did not, it would
still, with certain limits, be an economical concern. For, if we
consider, every one of these men, if left to himself and his own
promptings, would cost the country, including his maintenance, without
counting the loss of his labor and including the expenses of prisons and
police to take care of him, at least £100 a year. We have, therefore, a
very simple sum. How much can the colony afford to lose every year, and
yet remain an economical gain to the country? On a roll of 250 there is
the gain to the community of £25,000 a year. If, therefore, the colony
shows a deficit of £3000 a year the country is still a gainer of
£22,000. Any one may carry on this little calculation. Suppose, for
instance, that even fifty per cent. of the cases prove failures; the
remaining fifty save the country £12,500 a year. And, what is much more,
they, being honest themselves, bring up their children to ways of
honesty—their children and their grandchildren for generation after
generation, and who can calculate the gain in a single century?

I do not speak here of other branches of the Salvation Army’s social
work. To receive the discharged prisoner, to find him work, to train
lads to steady work, to give back to the soil the wastrels who were
devouring and spoiling honest men’s goods in the cities, to restore to a
man his pride and his self-respect, to give him back his manhood, to
fill him with new hopes and a new purpose—this is surely a great and a
noble work.

On more than one occasion I have publicly testified to my own belief in
the efficacy of the social work of the Salvation Army. There is one
point on which it contrasts with every other effort either of
philanthropy or of religion. The work is carried on by a vast multitude
of eleven thousand officers, men and women, young men and maidens. They
are bound by no vows; but they might, if they chose, wear the rope with
the triple knots of the Franciscans. For they follow, without vows, the
three Franciscan virtues of obedience, poverty, and chastity. Add to
these, if it is a virtue, total abstinence from strong drink. They go
where they are sent, they do what they are ordered to do, they carry out
the military duties of obedience, they draw pay barely enough for the
most modest standard of living, and their lives are blameless on the
score of purity. So long as these virtues remain with them, so long will
they prevail. If, as happened with the Franciscans, the praise of the
world, which certainly is coming to the Army as well, turns their heads
and corrupts their zeal, if they take money and make money by their
work, then the social side of the Salvation Army will, like so many
human systems, fall to the ground and be trampled in the dust. At
present they are all poor together; poor and not dissatisfied; not a man
or woman among the whole eleven thousand has a bank account of his own;
they all live from hand to mouth, and when the word comes from
headquarters that there is to be a week of self-denial they live for
that week as they can, without any pay. And if we are fain to confess
that their work is good for the unfortunates, whom they chiefly
befriend, what are we to say or to think of the good which their work
confers upon themselves? Surely, the Helping Hand raises its owner as
well as those whom it lifts. The twopenny doss-house, the refuge, the
home, the rescue, the colony—do they not also raise and rescue and
strengthen the people who administer and direct them?

Matthew Arnold once visited East London in verse:

        “I met a preacher whom I knew and said:
         ‘Ill and o’erworked, how fare you in this scene?’
         ‘Bravely!’ said he; ‘for I of late have been
         Much cheered with thoughts of Christ, the living bread.’
         O human soul! as long as thou canst so
         Set up a mark of everlasting light,
         Above the howling senses’ ebb and flow,
         To cheer thee and to right thee if thou roam—
         Not with lost toil thou laborest through the night!
         Thou mak’st the heaven thou hop’st indeed thy home.”


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                                 INDEX



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                                 INDEX


 Abney, Lady, 274

 Abney, Sir Thomas, 274

 Aguilar, Grace, 276

 Aikin, Dr., 275

 Aliens in London, 187

 Anarchists, 206

 Appeals for day in country, 307

 August holiday, 303


 Bad building, bribery of inspectors, 220

 Bancroft almshouses, 341

 Barbauld, Mrs., 275

 Barking, 104, 111

 Barnardo’s homes, 339

 Barrack Life, 223, 224;
   and Salvation Army, 224

 Beating the bounds, 60

 Beds hired out, 212

 Bethnal Green crowded district, 221

 Bicycle round London, 310

 Billingsgate, 52, 54, 55

 Bishop’s Manor, 4;
   Palace, 7

 Blackwall Basin, 95

 Booth, General, 225

 Boundaries of East London, 4

 Bow Creek, 99

 Bradwell, 109

 Breathing places, 302

 Bridge, first London, 53


 Casual ward, stupidity of, 249

 Census, Religious, 37

 Centenarian, The, 201

 Chapels on the wall, 110

 Chapels on bridges and walls, 110

 Charity Organisation Society, 343

 Charter House, 280

 Chaucer, 47, 55

 Children’s Day in country, 307

 Chinese in London, 204

 Church of England, 331

 City, 257

 Clapton, 267

 Club of factory girls, 142;
   of the baser sort, 315

 Colet, Dean, 7

 Continuation Schools, 333

 Coopers’ Company, 82

 Cromwell, Major, 273

 Cromwell, Oliver, 271

 Crowded part of Bethnal Green, 221

 Custom House, 55


 Dagenham, 111;
   white-bait dinner, 111

 Dancing, none in East London, 313

 Day in country for children, 307

 Defoe, 47, 274

 Discharged prisoners, 241

 Disraeli, Benjamin, 275;
   Isaac, 275

 Docks, St. Katherine, 62;
   London, 68;
   West India, 95;
   Blackwall, 95;
   Millwall, 95;
   attractions for boys, 96

 Dogs, Isle of, 91

 Drury Lane, Barracks in, 222

 Dutch in Spitalfields, 192;
   Church, 192


 East End Parks, 304

 East Ham, 7, 213

 East London, history mostly a blank, 3;
   boundaries of, 4;
   nature of ground, 4;
   collection of villages, 8;
   no center, 8;
   not a city, 8;
   no newspapers, 8;
   no people of fashion, 8;
   filled with working class, 8;
   population of, 8;
   no hotels, 9;
   New Zealander in, 9;
   no restaurants, 9;
   rapid rise, 10;
   a manufacturing city, 10;
   not a trading city, 10;
   resembles Old London, 10;
   no book shops, 13;
   no literary power, 14;
   no garrison, 14;
   no recruiting, 14;
   monotony, 15;
   meanness, 15;
   streets all alike, 15;
   no old buildings, 16;
   an unlovely city, 16;
   fine roads, 17;
   life not monotonous, 16, 17;
   city of many crafts, 21;
   distribution of trades, 22;
   factories in, 23;
   proportion of professions to crafts, 24;
   the curse of labor, 27;
   division of labor, 28;
   demand for skilled labor, 29;
   wages in, 30;
   sweating, 30;
   co-operative labor, 33;
   an experiment, 33;
   not a slum, 38;
   a hive of workers, 116;
   Huxley on, 127;
   ministering ladies, 128;
   fringe of, 255;
   Matthew Arnold on, 358

 Easter Monday, 290, 291, 295

 Eighteenth century, 325

 Emigrés, 189

 Epping Forest, 256

 Epping Hunt, 291, 301

 Excursion trains, 303

 Excursion Dock, 78;
   escape of a man, 78


 Factory girl, Chapter V.

 Fairy lights, 239

 Fight near Tower, 326

 Fleetwood, Cromwell’s son-in-law, 271

 Flower Girls’ Society, 342

 Foreshore, rescue of, 110

 Fraternities, 337

 French Revolution, 188

 French in Spitalfields, 188

 Fringe of East London, 255

 Future—the man who looks forward, 56


 Gambling, Chinese, 205

 Gardens in London, 304

 George’s, St., in the East, 72, 73

 German clerks, 191;
   Jews, 190, 192

 Ground, lie of, 4


 Hackney churchyard, 263;
   Old Town, 263;
   18th-century houses, 264;
   Barber’s barn, 272;
   Darnley, 272;
   Captain Woodcock, 273;
   Major Cromwell, 273;
   Hartopp, Sir John, 274;
   John Howard, 276;
   André, 277;
   Princess Elizabeth, 279;
   Sir Walter Raleigh, 279;
   Sir Thomas More, 279;
   Thomas Sutton, 280;
   John Ward, 281;
   Lucas, 281

 Ham, West, 7

 Hampstead Heath, 292;
   on Easter Monday, 295

 Hangman’s Acre, 79

 Heckford, Dr., 85, 86

 Helping Hand, the, Chapter XII.;
   history of, 319;
   and the beggar, 320;
   and St. Martin, 321;
   new developments, 321

 Henry, Matthew, 275

 Hewling, Benjamin, 273

 Holidays, 289

 Homerton, High Street, 267

 Hopping, 308

 Hospitals, 337

 Housing of the people, 212;
   and London County Council, 225

 Huguenots in London, 188, 192

 Hunting rights, 7

 Huxley on East London, 127


 Idlers on London Bridge, 42

 Immigration, 190

 Increase of population, 213

 Industrial villages, 225

 Irish colony, 36

 Isle of Dogs, 91;
   origin of name, 92

 Italians, 191, 203


 Jack the Painter, 283

 Jay, Osborne, the Rev., 329

 Jewish quarter, 193

 Jews, alleged superiority, 194;
   trained intellect, 194;
   unpopularity of, 195;
   Sunday morning with, 196;
   salesmen, 196;
   physical degeneration, 199;
   oriental note, 200;
   the, old man, 201;
   the Synagogue, 202

 Journalism and the gaol bird, 242

 Judenhetze, 195


 Key of the street, 155

 Key, price of the, 211


 Laboratories at People’s Palace, 334

 Labor aristocracy, 119

 Ladies in East London, 128

 Lads in the country, 307

 Lawlessness in 18th century, 325

 Lea River, 7

 Libraries, free, 338

 Liz, the baby, 119

 London Street, 119, 120;
   home, 120;
   furniture of home, 120;
   hardening the baby, 122;
   parents of, 122;
   food of, 121, 122, 123;
   beer, 123;
   the school, 124;
   washing of, 124;
   leaves school, 127;
   forgets her teaching, 127;
   appearance of, 128;
   character of, 129;
   ignorance of, 129, 130;
   conversation and ideas, 130;
   interests of place, 130;
   sailor cousin, 133;
   Christmas feast, 133;
   goes to work, 134;
   in a jam factory, 135;
   goes a-hopping, 136;
   a day at factory, 137;
   breakfast, 137;
   dinner, 137, 138;
   on strike, 141;
   independence of, 143;
   ladies’ club, 143;
   bank holiday, 144;
   at seventeen, 147;
   on Sunday, 147;
   her sweetheart, 148;
   marriage of, 150;
   a wife and a mother, 151

 London, the old families, 34;
   devours her children, 34;
   vanishing of old families of, 35;
   influx of new blood, 36;
   the port of, 41, 42;
   docks, 68;
   street, 119, 120;
   a city of refuge, 187;
   and the alien, 187,
   County Council, 225;
   School Board, 332

 Long hours of idleness, 289

 Lord Mayor’s fund, 343

 Lowe, Bob, 141

 Lucas, 281


 Man, two varieties of, 56

 Manor of Bishop of London, 4

 Match tax, 141

 May-day, 290

 Medland Hall, 248

 M.A.B.Y.S., 337

 Memories of the past, Chapter X.

 Millwall Dock, 95

 More, Sir Thomas, 7, 279, 280

 Morley, Samuel, 276


 Music halls, 322

 Nantes, Edict of, 188

 New docker, the, 52


 Okey, John, 271

 Opium den, 205

 Organized robbery, 48

 Osborne, Jay, the Rev., 329;
   work of, 330;
   the boxing class, 330;
   the doss-house, 331

 Overcrowding, 213, 214;
   a million affected, 218;
   case of A. B., 218;
   vitiation of air, 217


 Palace of bishop, 7

 Palatines, the, 188, 278

 Parish work, 327;
   unpaid assistants, 328

 Past, the man who loves the, 54

 People, housing of, 221

 People’s Palace, 297, 312, 313, 334

 Pepys, 91

 Persian scholar in East London, 204

 Peter, St., ad Vincula, 60

 Polish Jews, 192

 Polytechnics, 333

 Poor, generosity of, 121

 Popular recreation ground, 304

 Population of East London, 8;
   proportion of those born, 36;
   rapid increase, 213

 Port of Billingsgate, ancient, 52

 Port of London, A.D. 1400, 46;
   increase of trade, 48;
   Riverside people, 48;
   A.D. 1700, 48;
   lightermen formerly organized plunderers, 51

 Prisoners, wreck of manhood, 351;
   welcomed
   in the Salvation Army, 247, 353

 Prisons, 352, 353, 357

 Raines Charity, 68, 71

 Ratcliffe, 81;
   highway, 71;
   stairs, 81, 85;
   cross, 82;
   shipwrights’ company, 82;
   the Italian ghost, 87

 Refuge, the city of, 187

 Religion, indifference, not hatred, 37

 Rent, increase of, 211

 Rescue of Foreshore, 110

 Revolution, French, 181

 River Lea, 309

 Riverside, 48

 Riverwall, 103, 104, 105, 107, 109, 112

 Rowe, Owen, 271


 St. Austin’s Church, 192

 St. Katharine’s by the Tower, 65;
   dock, 62;
   liberty of, 65;
   destruction of, 66;
   Regent’s Park, 66

 Salvation Army barracks, 224;
   shelters of the, 248;
   the farm, 353;
   social work, 350;
   lodging houses, 350;
   work shops, 350;
   prisoners, 247, 353;
   does it pay? 354;
   the modern friars, 357;
   a company of self-denying workers, 357

 Sandwich man, the, 240

 Scholarships, 334;
   possibilities of, 335

 School children, 332;
   humanizing influence of, 332

 Settlement, the, and lads, 307;
   origin of, 344;
   working of, 345;
   what it is, 346, 348

 Shacklewell Green, 280;
   and Sir Thomas More, 280;
   Shadwell, 79

 Shakspere, 47

 Shopkeepers, no amusement for the smaller sort, 311

 Shipwrights’ Company, 82

 Sick, care of, 337

 Slums, 323;
   exaggeration of novelists, 324

 Smith, Dr. William, 274

 South London, barracks in, 222

 Spitalfields and French, 188

 Sports and Pastimes, Chapter XI.;
   in the street, 310

 Stepney, 7

 Stoke Newington, Dr. Aikin, 275;
   Mrs. Barbauld, 275;
   Church Street, 269;
   Thomas Day, 276;
   Defoe, 274;
   Isaac Disraeli, 275;
   Fleetwood House, 273;
   nonconformity in, 270;
   Puritan leaders in, 271;
   John Okey, 271;
   Palatines, 278;
   E. Allan Poe, 277;
   Owen Rowe, 271

 Stow, 59, 67

 Stratford Langthorne, 111

 Strype, 67

 Submerged, of all classes, 229;
   where found, 230;
   of the eighteenth century, 232;
   inoffensive, 233;
   causes of wreck, 233;
   in police court, 234;
   the case of A. A., 237;
   in the Sixpenny Hotel, 238;
   in Oxford Street, 239;
   of various trades, 240;
   the odd job, 241;
   pennyworths, 241;
   the sandwich man, 244;
   ten thousand of them, 251;
   a lower depth still, 250

 Suburban life changing, 261;
   destruction of city social life, 257;
   dullness of, 258;
   clubs and amusements, 261;
   awakening of society, 261;
   theatres in, 261

 Suburbs, growth of, 67

 Sunday lectures, 339

 Sutton, Thomas, 280

 Swedish Church, 73


 Technical Education Board, 333

 The lad of the street, 156;
   at school, 159;
   leaves school, 160;
   prospects, 160;
   what he knows, 161;
   his temptations, 162;
   the barges left in the mud, 165;
   his pair of hands, 165;
   city boys, 166;
   railway for, 166;
   factories for, 167;
   van and horse, 167;
   beer boy, 167;
   meals, 168;
   porter’s work, 168;
   degeneration of, 171;
   long evenings, 171;
   boys’ clubs, 172;
   classes, 172;
   music halls, 173, 181;
   mimicry of, 174;
   casual hand, 177;
   street amusements, 177;
   at Epsom, 177;
   Hooligans, 177;
   street fights, 177;
   the Reformatory, 178;
   gamblers, 178;
   reading, 181;
   keeps company, 181;
   ordeal of street, 182;
   loafers, 183

 Theatre regarded with horror, 258

 Thousands driven out homeless, 222

 Tower Hill, 55, 56;
   terrace on, 55, 56, 59, 61;
   of London, 59;
   bridge, 61, 62;
   liberties, 66

 Toynbee Hall, lectures at, 311

 Tramps and rogues, 250

 Trinity almshouses, 341

 Turpin, Dick, 282


 Wall by river, 103

 Wapping, school and churchyard, 73, 74;
   old stairs, 77;
   recreation ground, 304

 Ward, John, 281

 Wat Tyler, 7

 Watts, Dr. Isaac, 268, 273

 West Ham, 7, 214

 West India Dock Road, 203

 West India Docks, 95

 Whit Monday, 298

 Whitechapel picture exhibition, 296

 Whittington, 47

 Willoughby, Sir Hugh, 85

 Winter amusements, 310

 Woodcock, Captain, 272

 Workhouse, the, 349

 Working class, better sort, 119


 Yarmouth Church, why closed, 303


------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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