Monday 31 January 2011

Toll Rage

A random early-Victorian crime for you ... an incident of 'toll rage' reported in the Morning Post of 1 May, 1839:

WORSHIP STREET.—Yesterday the Duchess of Marlborough was summoned before Messrs. Codd and Mallard, a county magistrate, charged with having neglected to pay the toll of the Kingsland-gate ; and William Simpson, coachman in her Grace's employ, was also summoned on a charge of assaulting George Hawkins, the toll-collector.
    Mr. Simpson, superintendent of the collection of tolls under the commissioners of the metropolis roads, attended to support the case.
    James King, steward to the Duchess of Marlborough, stated the non-payment of the toll arose entirely from a mistake. In coming from Wanstead, where the Duchess had called upon a friend, the coachman came through the wrong gate, and her Grace was not aware that it was necessary to pay.
     Mr. Codd—Then as far as the Duchess is concerned she pleads guilty, and is ready to pay the toll?
    King said that he was ordered to pay.
     Mr. Codd—The charge against her Grace is then withdrawn, but that against the coachman is more serious, and we must proceed with that.
    The complainant stated that he was collector at the Kingsland gate on the 17th inst., between six and seven in the evening, when the defendant passed through with the carriage, which was drawn by two horses, and in which was her Grace and two children, he asked for the toll, when the defendant produced the Islington ticket. Complainant told him that it was not right. He then whipped his horses to go on. Complainant laid hold of their heads, and was carried about fifty yards, throughout which distance he, as well as the horses, was severely whipped. The coachman then showed the Dalsion-lane ticket, which complainant said was not right. The defendant again whipped his horses, which he continued doing for 30 yards. He then stopped, when her Grace, who was greatly frightened, offered complainant 10s. to compromise the alfair, which he refuoed to do.
    Mr. Codd—Are you sure that he struck you intentionally?
    Complainant—Yes, sir ; he cut my ears so that they bled most profusely.
    Mr. Wm. Fleetwood, Shacklewell-lane, stock-broker, said that he was in an omnibus when he saw the occurrence. The defendant whipped the complainant at least five-and-twenty times. The whipping was most severe and the conduct of the defendant was most shameful.
    By Mr. Codd—It appeared quite premeditated on the part of the defendant, and his conduct was most deliberate.
   Two other witnesses corroborated this statement, and who added that the complainant behaved very leniently.
    243 N said that he would have taken the defendant into custody but that the complainant objected.
    The defendant expressed his regret at his conduct, which he admitted was not to be justified, but he was very much excited. It was the first time that he had been through that gate, and it was entirely through error that he refused to pay. He was very sorry for the occurrence. He had been two years in the Marlborough family and had a wife and two children.
    Mr. Codd observed that, according to the act 4 Geo. IV. c. 95, he was liable to a penalty of 10l. He and his brother magistrate could scarcely make up their minds to reduce the fine; but it was only in consideration of his penitence, that he had a wife and family, and that he had been two years in his situation, that could induce a mitigation. Persons in his capacity must be taught that they would not be allowed to act with impunity; and if ever he should be brought to this office again, or should be taken to any other office another time, the full penalty would be levied. The defendant was fined 40s. and costs. The fine was paid.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Seaside Sights


Sandy stretches, surging surf, salty smells,
Shelving shore, scorching sun, shining shells,
Sprinkling spray, sparkling surface, stormy sky,
Stuffed stages, sprightly spinsters, suiters shy.
Stylish suits, soaked stockings, splashed skirts,
Sly sparking, soft speeches, summer shirts,
Shrieking swimmers, shapely shoulders, sick swains,
Skinny shins, sunshades, stretching seines,
Scudding schooners, screw steamers, sloops, sails,
Small smacks, strong sailors, silvery scales,
Saving stations, signals, streamers, shrouds, spars,
Skillful skippers steering ships, seats, stars.
Savage sharks, sea serpents, skates, soles,
Snipe, snappers, shrimp, scollops, sunken shoals,
Sea spiders, swarming skeeters, seagulls,
Silly singers, soulful strollers, swift sculls,
Solid-sleep, startling scores, saline sniffs,
Strapped strangers, stern sires, shallops, skiffs,
Splurging striplings, sappy snobs, sudden squalls,
Sedgy swamps, scarfs, satins, silks, shawls,
Sabbath sinners, social scandal, sinkers, snells,
Scheming scamps, Simple Simons, sporting swells.

H.C.DODGE, in Everybody's Book of Jokes, 1889

Friday 28 January 2011

It Is Not Always a Sign of Partial Insanity

An interesting 1860s article found in Google Books, on the subject of female 'self-abuse'. Note the mention of 'measures injudiciously or too frequently employed, however honestly, by a medical attendant' ... masturbation as medical treatment, which would later by automated by 'massage' devices.

Self Abuse in Women.—Dr. Horatio R. Storer has an article n the Western Journal of Medicine, on this subject, in which he enunciates opinions which are a disgrace to the profession of medicine and a libel on the women of America. The following is his statement:
    "Now I venture to say at the outset, that self abuse in women is not of rare occurrence; that it prevails alike in those who are married and who are unmarried; in the young, and in the old; that it is not necessarily a vice, nor primary, but that it may be the result of physical causes, and therefore is amenable to moral than to physical treatment; that it is not always a sign of partial insanity, its effect or its cause; that while far less frequently than in the male, productive of extreme nervous exhaustion, it is even more frequently than in him productive of partial or extreme nervous irritation, explaining many of the cases of so-called hysteria; and that in many instances the habit initiates from no normal or abnormal longing of the woman's own heart, from no direct or indirect physical sensation upon her part, from no endeavor to simulate previous sexual intercourse had with husband or lover, but from manual caresses conferred by some half-timid man, or from the measures injudiciously or too frequently employed, however honestly, by a medical attendant, or from certain legitimate and very common employments of life, such for instance, as the use of the sewing-machine. I have space but for a few words as to the causation of self abuse in women. The greater portion of my remarks I shall endeavor to devote to its rational treatment.
      "It may be permitted me here to say, that the views that I shall present are the result, not of thought alone, but of many hundreds of confessions, and many years observation of sick women. I acknowledge freely that the statements of women concerning sexual matters are often to be received with extreme caution, but I would call attention on the other hand to the fact that here, as elsewhere, a single positive case outweighs very many negative ones. With reference to the frequency of the habit to which I am alluding, it is as with the somewhat co-relative question of the frequency of criminal abortion. Both of them are matters of very delicate character ; concerning both of them, physician and patient would gladly preserve silence, were it not that by this means the evils referred to with all their train of deplorable results, would be sure to proceed unchecked. The frequency of unjustifiable abortion, is now recognized by every medical man, and reform is rapidly taking place. Ten years ago, howerer, the situation was very different. Upon my directing the attention of the profession to the matter in a paper read before the Suffolk District Medical Society at Boston, I think in 1856, I presented tables based upon confessions made to me within a given time by patients, said patients being married well to do in life, and professing, for the most part, to hold by the tenets of religion. In answer to my paper, the evidenee of which was irresistible, one of our oldest and most influential physicians, at that time Professor in Harvard University, felt called upon to express his astonishment and doubt, in as much as during some forty years or more of practice, he had never known a single case of criminal abortion.   The method of adjustment of our diverging experience I commend to the attention of all who may suppose that self abuse is comparatively unknown among women. My statements to the Society, as I have said, were based upon the confessions of patients. I asked the gentleman if, during his long experience, he had ever questioned a woman if her abortion had been an intentional one. "I consider, Sir, that I should have insulted her by so doing," was the reply. To obtain positive evidence in these matters, the physician must seek it; obtained, as I have said, the experience of the seeker will outweigh that of all who cross over and pass on the other side, without inquiry."
   It is probable that there are some cases of self abuse in woman, but these are very rare. I have taken occasion to make inquiry in such quarters as would be most likely to give definite information, in regard to two classes. The one had been for many years a teacher in a female college, the other was a noted courtezan, and for a dozen years the keeper of a house of prostitution. The answers were in both cases alike, "self abuse in women is of rare occurrence." The sexual orgasm is rarely strong in women, say in not more than ten per cent., and even in these cases, it is frequently associated with a strong will. It is my experience that such opinions grow out of a prurient imagination. As to the " many hundreds of confessions," which establish the fact of self abuse in women beyond peradventure, it sounds fishy for one small young man, and we would like to hear from some of his Boston confreres on the same subject. It is barely possible that the virtuous land of the pilgrims offers an exception in this respect, to more favored portions of our country."
Eclectic Medical Journal, 1867

I Love My Typewriter

A lovely vignette from 1889:-

"DARLING BESSIE," said Mr. Hoover to his lady typewriter, "will you marry me? Since you have come, like a gleam of sunshine to gladden my existence, I have lived in the radiant light of your ethereal presence, and passionately" — "Please speak a little slower, Mr. Hoover," said the fair typewriter, interrupting him while her fingers continued to fly over the keys of the machine. "Ethereal presence—passionately. Now I am ready to proceed."— "Great Scott, Miss Caramel!" exclaimed her employer, "you are not taking down my offer of marriage on that infernal typewriter, are you?" — "A proposal!" shrieked Miss Caramel. "Why, so it is! I didn't notice. I thought you were dictating. Forgive me, dear William, I am yours. And now since I have made this foolish blunder, please sign this paper, and I will keep it as a memento." The marriage took place according to contract.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Joking Aside

Regular followers will know that I sometimes Twitter Victorian jokes ... here's all the ones that have appeared:-
1907  Where had the kidney bean? To see the scarlet runner.
1903  When a young man and his best girl get into a swing, it is remarkable how they will mix up oscillation with osculation.
1903  Q: What does the child receive for free, the young man steal, and the old man buy? A. A kiss.
1903  Which is the most war-like nation? Vaccination. Why? Because it's always in arms.
1903  'See here, waiter, I've found a button in my salad.' - 'That's all right, sir, it's part of the dressing.'
1903  Marriage is an institution intended to keep women out of mischief and get them into trouble.
1897  I wish I knew how to tell a woman's age. -- The best way is to tell it in a soft and gentle whisper.
1897  Our servant lighted the fire with parafiin oil. -- Did you discharge her? -- We haven't found her yet.
1896  SERVANT: 'Ma'am, your husband has eloped with the cook!' WIFE: 'Good! Now I can have the maid to myself, once in a while.
1896  Is it correct to speak of a sick lawyer as an ill legal man?
1896  'Sadly, my husband hasn't done much for these last 25 years.' - 'Is he an invalid, then?' - 'No, he works for the government.'
1895  SNAPP is one man who knows how to manage his wife. What's his scheme? Let her have her own way always.
1895  'Anna, what must you do before everything else, to have your sins forgiven?' Anna: 'Commit the sin.' 
1895  About the only thing that prevents some men from telling bare-faced lies is a moustache.
1895  A suitable wife for an athlete would be a dumb bell.
1895  A society lady describing a grand ball to a friend was asked how she was dressed. 'Low - and behold,' was the response.
1895  The cabman has the only business in which you can drive your customers away and keep them, too.
1895  A morally-conducted family should have an upright piano.
1894  DEFINTIONS: A tumbler full of whisky. - A drunken gymnast.
1894  Yes, Roberts fell off a 50ft ladder, wasn't hurt a bit. I don't believe it! Quite true, fell off the bottom rung.
1894  Mrs. A.: 'The piano next door makes me swear every time I hear it played.' Mrs. B: 'That's odd - it's an upright piano.'
1893  'How did you come out of that scrape with your wife?' 'As usual, I apologised for being right.'
1893  What interjection is of the feminine gender? A-lass!
1893  Son: 'What makes the world go round, Papa?' Father:'Usually about four whiskies, my boy.'
1893  What cannot a gentleman possess a short walking-stick? Because it can never be-long to him!
1893  What is the proper way of addressing the Admiral of the Fleet? -- Your warship.
1893  Why is the medical profession the most tedious? Because it requires more patients than any other.
1893  Why is the polka like bitter beer? - Because it contains so many hops.
1893  Why are young ladies like arrows? Because they are all aquiver in the presence of a beau.
1893  He: 'Does a girl get mad if you kiss her without asking?' She: 'Not so much as if you ask her without kissing.'
1893  Mr. Dolley (bitterly): 'You refuse me, but you never refused my presents!' Miss Gilgal: 'Well, they were of some value.'
1892  Why are bachelors like criminals? Because they hate to go into court.
1892  There's a man at Camberwell so fat that they grease the omnibus-wheels with his shadow.
1892  Life is short - a four letter word. Three quarters of it is a 'lie' and half of it an 'if.
1892  If you pine to be introduced to a rich timberman's daughter, see that you look spruce.
1891  Mrs. A. What black eyes that baby has! Mrs.B: Yes, his father is a pugilist.
1891  Q. Why do they make straw hats in summer? A. Because they aren't felt.
1891  HE: 'I am a millionaire. Haven't I got money enough for both of us?' SHE: 'Yes, if you are moderate in your tastes.'
1891  Doesn't it make you dizzy to waltz? Yes, but one must get used to it, you know. It's the way of the whirled.
1890  WIFE: 'You loved me before we were married!' HUSBAND: 'Well, now it's your turn!'
1890  Why is a hen immortal? Because her son never sets.
1890  JOHN: 'Elvira, do you love me or is it my money?' ELVIRA: 'John, I love you both.'
1890  In this little casket I have preserved all these years the dearest remembrance of my honeymoon. The hotel bill.
1890  The intention of fencers is each to touch their opponent; but in this they are often foiled.
1890  'I never see you at the play nowadays' -- 'I prefer to stay at home.' -- 'Ah, I suppose you think there's no plays like home.'
1890  The undertaker's favourite sport is boxing.
1890  Did you ever notice that tall girls often marry beneath them?
1885  Soldiers will not read Robinson Crusoe, because it is the work of De Foe.
1885  The blonde is not in fashion and the brunette has come again. Blondes must dye.
1885  Mountains may not have mouths or noses, but there are plenty of mountaineers.
1885  Which is heavier, the half moon or the full moon? The half moon, because the full one is twice as light.
1885  What servants do stationers mostly keep? ... Pages.
1884  A happy set of men : Soldiers in transports.
1881  Q. In which part of the house would mesmeric operations be conducted with greatest success? A. The en-trance hall.
1875  There is a man in New York so fat that a child was recently killed by his shadow falling on it.
1872  'Say, boy, what is the quickest way to the railway-station?' -- 'Run.' 
1871  There's a great love of home amongst rabbits, even though they run down their own burrows.
1870  What word may be pronounced quicker by adding an extra syllable? 'Quick'.
1869  Q. Why is a man fond of writing like a cheap form of river travel? A. Because he's a pen-esteemer.
1865  Women, like historians, think no age so barbarous as the middle ages.
1865  What is the difference between two mermaids and spring & summer? The former are two sea-daughters, the latter two sea-sons.
1865  'Is there much fish in your bag?' asked the woman of the fisherman. 'Well, there's a good eel in it.'
1864  Why is a field of grass like someone older than yourself? Because it is pasturage.
1864  A lady wrote the following letters at the bottom of her flour barrel: O I C U R M T.
1864  The Law is a pretty bird and has charming wings. Pity it has so terrible a bill.
1864  Why is a confirmed invalid like an inveterate beer-drinker? Because he is always ale-ing!

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Where There's Muck

A reader asks about manure manufacture in Bermondsey, and how big a trade it was. I can't say for certain, but significant enough to warrant this court case in 1872:


MR. DAVID URQUHART, in one of his books, has predicted the ruin of his country if it persisted in eating three meals a day, and wasted its phosphates in the rivers. Mr. Urquhart will perhaps tale a more hopeful view of the destinies of England when he learns that the consumption of meat has been by no means so universal as he supposed, and that the high price to which it is now rising bids fair to make it a luxury of the upper classes; and also that a more profitable method has been discovered of turning our phosphates to account than draining them into the sea. It appears from a case which has just been tried that a gentleman, who was described by his counsel as a public benefactor, has for some years been carrying on a manufactory at Bermondsey in which he converts different kinds of filth and garbage into manure ; with one hand he relieves the city it of its refuse, with the other he supplies the country with a fertilizing substance of acknowledged value. Public benefactors, like prophets, are not always appreciated in their own neighbourhoods; and although the philanthropist of whom we are speaking finds a ready sale for his superphosphates in agricultural circles, he has not yet had a statue erected in his honour by the people among whom he lives. On the contrary, he has been the victim of a series of actions at law. The explanation of this is that the commodities in which he deals are said to be composed of old bones, rotten fish, the blood and offal of animals in a putrid state, and a variety of other articles of a similar kind, which are burnt up by vitriol, and which make "a very excellent manure, but it has a very horrible smell." It must have occurred to any one who has visited Bermondsey, or who has passed over its housetops in the train, that the inhabitants of this region are not likely to be morbidly sensitive or delicate in regard to smells. The whiffs that sometimes come through the windows of the railway carriage are not perhaps the best preparation for the whitebait dinner to which the traveller may possibly be journeying. Bermondsey is a highly perfumed region, but its perfumes are not " Sabaean odours from the spicy shore of Araby the blest." The local flavour is, on the whole, more akin to that of Cologne, except that the different smell's are not so numerous and well defined, but are rather of a blended character, the not unwholesome fragrance of tan being perhaps uppermost. It is certain, at any rate, that the people of that part of London are not very particular in regard to bad odours, and that they can stand a good deal in this way without grumbling, and possibly even—for use in such a case is second nature—without perceiving or being distressed by it. We should be prepared therefore to believe that when they rise up in protest against a bad smell it must be very bad indeed. It appears that the inhabitants of Bermondsey draw the line at Mr. Salmon's superphosphates and other artificial manures. The smell of these things is more than they can endure, and when we read the evidence on the subject we can hardly wonder at the resistance of the neighbourhood to the continuance of this manufacture.
    The nuisance is alleged to be of a twofold, or rather threefold, character. First, there is the accumulation of the materials of the manufacture, which are mostly rotten and foul-smelling ; next, there is the process of mixing and boiling them down with sulphuric acid; and then, after the manure has been manufactured, it is kept in great heaps, and an abominable smell is caused when it is dug up, and put into sacks for customers. It is asserted that the materials consist of the blood and refuse of slaughter-houses, stinking fish, putrid animal matter, and garbage of all sorts; and there is always a large stock of these things lying about the premises, while new supplies are frequently arriving. On "mixing days" —that is, days on which the materials are boiled down—there is said to be an escape of pestiferous gases, and a kind of heavy steam, which leaves mould where it falls, and is accompanied by an acrid sensation in the mouth and throat. " The fumes of the process," said the Inspector of Nuisances, " are particularly disgusting, and pervade the streets and gardens ; but the smell is worse in digging out the putrid mass, and putting it in bags, and taking it away." The premises of Messrs. Peek and Frean, the biscuit-bakers, adjoin the manufactory, and their workpeople, several hundreds in number, as well as other residents in the neighbourhood, suffer from the stench, which produces nausea, a burning in the throat, and other discomforts. Different kinds of manure are made, and some are less pestiferous than others. The worst smell is alleged by discriminating judges to be that given of by the superphosphate, which is made by pouring vitriol on the materials, the effect being " to raise a kind of white steam with a strong and pungent odour, smelling like lighted sulphur or brimstone, and catching the breath so as to cause the men at work to cough, and force them to cover their mouths with handkerchiefs." It was pleaded by the defence that there were "only three or four mixings" of this kind in a month ; but for people with moderate tastes in the way of asphyxiation it is more than can be agreeable to be subjected to this steaming once a week. Then there is "a pig and horse hair sort," the smell of which is also said to be very bad. In fact the whole description of the place, as given by the witnesses for the plaintiff, reminds one strongly of the "Sink of Filth " which Dante visited in the infernal regions, and in which all kinds of excrement and putrescent nastiness were gathered together to torment the noses of the wicked. Here, as one of the translators puts it
    Here we perceived a race who murmured low
    In the foul gulf, and snorted with the nose.
It is probable that Dante, who lived in a pre-sanitary age, and in a country which even now is far from particular as to smells, would be startled to hear it said that the abominations which he imagined to be appropriate in a fanciful and highly coloured sketch of hell are now reproduced on earth in the densely populated capital of a country which is under the impression that it is civilized, and which is supposed to have taken for its motto Sanitas sanitatum, omnia sanitas.
    It is perhaps not difficult to understand the reluctance of the jury to visit Mr. Salmon's place of business, as they were advised to do by the Lord Chief Justice; but at last they were persuaded to go. When a medical witness called the smell amonioniacal, the Chief Justice suggested that perhaps demoniacal would be nearer the mark. His lordship also observed that on his visit he was shocked at the horrible smells which proceeded from Rotherhithe, the parish which adjoins Bermondsey. Such atrocious stenches were, he said, a scandal to the sanitary condition of the country ; and he asked, not unnaturally, what was the use of Boards of Health and Inspectors of Nuisances if such abominable nuisances were allowed? Dr. Letheby, who is a Sanitary Inspector, appeared as a witness for the defence in this case. Dr. Letheby does not consider carbonic acid gas at all offensive; he had, indeed, "recognized" the effluvium from the manufactory, but he could not say that it amounted to a nuisance. In his opinion it was only "a slight annoyance." Dr. Letheby is a practical chemist, and spends a great deal of time among bad smells, but perhaps it might be considered desirable that a Sanitary Inspector should be more sensitive to the evils which afflict ordinary mortals. When the case commenced, the counsel, for the plaintiff offered evidence as to the effects of the nuisance on the health of people in the neighbourhood; but the Chief Justice decided that it was not necessary that the nuisance should be injurious to health; it was enough to show that it destroyed the comfort of the inhabitants. Soon afterwards the jury interfered to say that they had no doubt there was a shocking had smell, and the only question was whence it came. And, at it subsequent stage, the jury intimated that they had heard sufficient evidence from the plaintiffs on this pint, and the defendant was called upon to produce his case. His argument was in effect that he had, since 1868, when a judgment was given against him, made various improvements in his processes, by which the had smells were prevented; that the materials of the manufacture were by no means so bad as had been represented; and that moreover he had established himself at Bermondsey ten years ago, when it was comparatively open country, and that if people did not like his smells, they should not have come there. The people, he contended, had come to the nuisance, if it was a nuisance, not the nuisance to them. Upon this the Lord Chief Justice remarked that he could not allow that any neighbourhood was to be considered as given up to nuisances. "It was not to be endured that because people had the misfortune to live in a neighbourhood not over nice, and were in a humble position of life, therefore their existence was to be made wretched by the effluvia of foul materials brought to the place by some person for his own profit and advantage." One of the jury asked Mr. Salmon, junior, whether he thought the smell at a certain place offensive ; and the witness answered that he did not, upon which the juror lifted up his hands, and the Lord Chief Justice observed, that he did not wonder at the juryman's surprise, for the smell actually took one's breath away. De gustibus non disputandum, when there is a question as to the fragrance of manure between the person who manufactures it and the neighbours who have to inhale the odour. The jury, while holding that there was a nuisance, seem to have differed as to which of the materials produced it, and they exonerated the superphosphate of lime, on the offensiveness of which the plaintiff's had insisted most strongly. The Chief Justice accepted their verdict as one of guilty, and sentenced the defendant to a fine of 100l., unless he put his place in order before next Term. It will occur to every one that, if there is really a nuisance of this magnitude at Bermondsey, there should be some simpler and more summary process of dealing with it than an expensive prosecution. We can only echo the Lord Chief Justice's question, and ask what are the Inspectors of Nuisances about, and what has been done or is to be done with regard to the "atrocious stenches" at Rotherhithe ? It is to be hoped that the Public Health Bill will stimulate the energies of the authorities in this respect.

Saturday Review, 1872

Trollope in Barsetshire

My attention is drawn to a new production at Hammersmith Riverside Studios:

Edward Fox, the eminent British actor, brings to life the author and the world of Anthony Trollope in a one-man performance drawn from extracts of the Barchester Chronicles and from An Autobiography.

Anthony Trollope stands out as a hugely popular novelist, one of the greatest of the Victorian era, an author invested with a wonderful gift for words. For six of his novels he invented Barsetshire, both a county and a town. Here he filled this world with an astonishing range of characters from Dr. Harding, the gentle Warden, to Mrs. Proudie, the domineering Bishop’s wife. Like all truly celebrated novelists Trollope deals with conditions of life that touch men and women, against the background of country life and the complexities, plots and counter-plots of the cathedral close. Humane, witty and well-observed Edward Fox wields his magic to bring many of these much-loved characters to life.

There will be a post-show discussion with Edward Fox and Richard Digby Day on Fridays 25 February and 25 March.
Suitable for ages 14+.
110 minutes with one interval.

I am pleased to say that we have three pairs of tickets to give away for this one-man show ...

Sorry folks - the competition is now closed - congratulations to the three winners - hope that all have a great night out!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

We Are Amused

A marvellous article, filleted a little, about how to amuse small children, from the Leisure Hour, 1875. The detailed instructions on 'this little piggy' are brilliant.


Every mother who has babies of her own, and everyone who has other people's babies to mind and care for, is aware of the fact that when a baby is wide awake it must and will be amused. It is not only necessary for the peace of the household, but promotive of the health of Miss or Master baby, to amuse him, or her, as the case may be. It awakens the intelligence of the child, it exercises its limbs, and all the muscles of those limbs, for baby is a very demonstrative person, and his delight is expressed by a great deal of gesticulation. Even crying has some compensating good in exercising the lungs, but laughter is always useful by promoting the general circulation and digestion in particular.
    For the wee-wee earliest young, sounds alone  suffice, as with the triangle in our picture. Without any instrumental aids, animated movement, tone of voice, and manner, make up the chief attraction; but babies of two or three years old generally hare a keen perception of the humorous. They criticise from a different point of view from what we do, and they see fact and fiction in a totally different light, a vaster range of being than in after years is true and real for them. Babydom is a world separate from ours, and comparatively fow amongst us hare power to understand baby language, to sympathise with baby thought, and still less to compose works or use language mith sufficient merit to meet the approval of baby censorship. Few, if any, of us remember how we thought and felt, and from what point of view we regarded such things in our own child days. Success in amusing or interesting is best gained by observation of what things have most eff'ect on young imaginations. The keenest touch of wit, the rare tit-bits of fun contained in baby games and rhymes, seem to most grown people arrant nonsense. But happy he or she who can enter into the fairy world of the little ones, and bring the bright light into their little eyes and the rosy smiles on their dim led cheeks, and the merry laugh from their musical voices. There is more art and merit in composing a single nursery rhyme, mith the genuine ring about it, than in stringing together a whole sensational novel, or in writing volumes of verse such as the critics call poetry in these days. What intense fun and  amusement always exists in the juvenile mind in "Pat a cake, pat a cake!" Can any baby resist bursting into a merry peal of laughter invariably when it comes to "mark it with B" ? or fail to go into a fit of uproarious fun when the little pig "cried  tweek! tweek! tweek!" in the game of the three little pigs? . . .

 . . . . To amuse baby children requires considerable histrionic art. Eloquence and action must he infused into all that is said. "A plain unvarnished tale" will not suffice to interest them. It is the manner in which the rords are spoken that gives effect to the drama, or points to the tale. Various comic voices must be assumed, and sensational gestures
descriptive of the words employed.
    For instance, say quietly and tamely, as in ordinary reading :-
    This little pig went to market ;
    This little pig stayed at home;
    This little pig had roast beef;
    This little pig had none;
    This little pig cried, "Tweak! tweak! tweak!"
It wil1 have little or no effect on a very young child.
But mark the difference. Take the baby hand in one of yours. Spread out the hand. Point to the
thumb, and say decidedly, yet confidingly-
    1.  "This little pig went to market." (Grunt and let it be an ordinary pig's grunt.)
    Point to the next finger and say, in the deepest bass you can assume-
    2.  "This little pig stayed at home." (Give a morose bass grant and frown.)
    Point to the next finger and say, with an insinuating tone and smile, elevating your eyebrows and bowing-
    3.   "This little pig had roast beef" (and add three quick little grunts of satisfaction).
    Point to the next finger and say, in a voice just ready to cry-
    4.   "This little pig had none." (Give two low grunts of weariness, and look ready to cry.)
    Then pointing to the little finger, say very pleasantly, in a shrill, droll voice, laughing meanwhile, "This little pig cried, 'Tweak! tweak! tweak!'" pinching and twirling the child's finger gently, as if you had hold of the pig's tail.
    This makes a complete harmless drama of the story of the pigs, and rouses baby's feelings, sensations and ideas in a healthy manner. Five distinct emotions are raised: 1. Interest; 2. Fear; 3. Pleasure or sympathy; 4. Grief, almost to tears; 5. A sudden reversion to mirth, and "All's well that ends well," a great desideratum in baby estimation. We must remember too, that the feelings during babyhood are ephemeral in the extreme, light and evanescent. . . .
. . . Anumber of children of two or three years of age may be very well diverted with "the well-known toys," "the dancing sailor," or the celebrated donkeys that have been advertised as creating "roars of laughter." If the child or children are in cradles, a string may be tied from one leg to another of the table, and a figure or two of this sort suspended from it. The string across is not to be quite tight, so that by attaching another string long enough to reach where she is sitting, thw mother may, from time to time, renew the vibration  by a dexterous pull.
    Here is another way of amusing a cllild, or a whole room full of them, by a  performance sure to have "a long run" in babydom. All that is wanted is a sheet of paper, four large highly coloured figures, and a couple of common rattles. A common green lamp shade will be better than the sheet of paper. Pin the four figures round the shade, fix the shade over the jack, which must be suspended from the ceiling by a rope, and have a weight attached, such as the kitchen scales will afford, or an old flat-iron, to cause it to turn round. Below the weight set the rattles at the same distance with string. As the jack turns and shows the figures alternately, the rattles will knock against one another and make a noise.
    A moving diorama may also be constructed by the help of two jacks enclosed by cardboard cylinders, and fixed at opposite sides of the room. For durability the panorama had better consist of paper pasted on calico. On this paste all the coloured pictures you can get - figures, birds, flowers, fruit, etc. - after having neatly cut them out. An end is to be fixed to either of the jacks. Roll up one to within the length required, then roll up the other, hang a weight on, and the performance will commence. When it is desired to stop the performance, the weights must be removed. For a charitable institution no doubt friends would be willing to contribute the necessary materials.
     A simple way to amuse young children is by cutting rows of figures out of white paper, old letters etc. The paper is folded as many times as the scissors will cut through, and a whole row of young ladies, or milkmaids with their pails, brought into existence by a single cut of the scissors. The two ends of the paper should be held, and the young ladies or milkmaids caused to dance on the table.
    Children of two years to five years old can be taught to amuse themselves for hours by pricking pictures. Draw an outline of any object they can understand - a man, a woman, a house, a bird, a cat, a fireplace, etc. and fix the corners by four pins over a pincushion. Then show the child how to prick all round the outline with a pin, pricks at regular intervals. When finished, the pin-picture is held up to the light, which comes like rows of little stars through the pricks. Printed outlines for pricking can be bought at a small cost.
    The Kinder Garten is eminently suited for amusing, training and teaching very little children, especially when brought together in numbers. The little employments with sticks and peas are readily entered into by children from two to four years of age, and it is wonderful the ingenuity some of them soon begin to display. Of more value, whether at school or in the nursery at home, are various play games, such as "Here we go round the mulberry-tree," which promote healthy exercise and mirth.
The Leisure Hour, 1875

Monday 24 January 2011

Cursed Corsets

A late addition, a fact acknowledged by the author, to the literature against corsetry, with some fine prose ('Our women to-day are frilled and chiffoned to the eyes, are flounced and furbelowed to the heels ...'). The most surprising thing is the monkey experiment mentioned at the start - so Victorian - I will look into this ...

     SOME years since a series of experiments for the purpose of showing the effects of tight-lacing were made upon monkeys by an enterprising scientist. A number of miniature corsets, exactly similar to those worn by women, were fashioned to size, and a number of poor little creatures encased in them.
     Their distress at the constriction and discomfort, their unceasing efforts to release themselves, did credit to their intellectual perception and sagacity. The physical results were as disastrous as they are instructive. For it was found that those which were corseted and laced at once to the regulation V-shape of fashionable woman died in the space of a few days, as though stricken by some mortal malady. Those in whose cases a more gradual process was adopted lived some weeks in sickliness and suffering. Whilst others, the 'improvement' of whose figures extended over a still more lengthy period, did not succumb at all, showing that tolerance became established. But the tolerance was established obviouslly at the expense of health and happiness. These rudimental martyrs to a civilised vice fell off grievously in appetite and spirits. They were attacked by gastric and other internal disorders. They moped and lost flesh, alternating between extreme languor and marked nerve-irritability. Their tempers rendered them unapproachable, and although they did not die actually of stays, they died within a few months of some disorder of which.stays with the health deterioration consequent on their use were the undoubted cause.
    It might be imagined that the subject were by this time threadbare, that.enough and to spare had been already said and written against corsets. But enough will never have been said or written until the evil has been exorcised.
     For at the present moment the use of corsets is more universal than has hitherto been known. The extravagance of modern dress — an extravagance never before reached — is evidence enough were evidence needed of this. Dress has been given to woman to conceal her deficiencies, and to this end she employs it, beauty and dress assuming generally an inverse ratio the one to the other. Our women to-day are frilled and chiffoned to the eyes, are flounced and furbelowed to the heels. Their toupées and love-locks come home in a box, or are the glorified apotheoses of tresses which lack the vitality to curl without the aid of pins or heated irons. The use of rouge, of powder and toilet accessories innumerable has at no time been so prevalent. The flush of our finger-tips, counterfeiting health, is the art of the manicure. Our modistes are taxed to the utmost in their necessity to simulate natural curves and to conceal unnatural deficiencies by means of folds and frillings. No doubt the wear and tear of modern life—the pace at which we live—has much to do with such physical decadence, but the deterioration is and has been largely hastened by the use of stays.
     Formerly the practice of tight-lacing was confined almost entirely to the fashionable and leisured classes. Now it permeates the humblest levels of society. You shall not find a housemaid or kitchen-maid, a shop-girl or a little slave of all work, who does not pinch her waist to a morbid and ridiculous extent. The thing has become, indeed, a national evil, for these wasp-waisted, chlorotic beings are the mothers of the race. They who observe cannot fail to have been struck by that which may best be described as a blighting process which falls upon many developing girls. We see them half-grown, more or less shapeless healthy creatures with the promise of a fine maturity about them. We see them some years later and exclaim in disappointment. The fine promise has belied itself. Development has given place to retrogression.
     The abnormal pressure upon vital organs which at this season is first put upon the girl has prevented the natural expansion and growth of liver and stomach and lungs, and of other internal organs whose proper and unhindered development is essential to the full growth of a human individual. Other influences doubtless are also at work, such as inherited degeneracy, over-education, and the strain civilisation puts upon young growing creatures ; but the unfortunate girl would be more in a condition to cope with these were her digestive and blood-making capacities left free to answer to her body's needs. Growth is largely a question of nutrition. Thorns are abortive buds. Starve a man and you stunt his nature, he becomes dwarfed or lop-sided. His brain develops at the expense of his body, or his body develops at the expense of his brain. The balance of his powers is lost for the reason that his vitality is not enough for healthy, all-round growth. So, we manufacture degenerates—men and women top-heavy with mentality, because the brain has robbed the body ; men and women over-weighted with animality, because the body has robbed the brain. As Herbert Spencer tells us: 'The unfolding of an organism after its special type has its approximately uniform course, taking its tolerably definite time, and no treatment that may be devised will fundamentally change or greatly accelerate these ; the best that can be done is to maintain the required favourable conditions. But it is quite easy to adopt a treatment which shall dwarf or deform, or otherwise injure; the processes of growth and development may be, and very often are, hindered or deranged, though they cannot be artificially bettered.'  The 'hindering and deranging' which in this particular relation takes place is somewhat as follows.
     The girl wakens in the morning, her expression calm, her features and outlines plumpened and rejuvenated by the even tide of blood which during sleep has been allowed to flow freely through her tissues. Her lungs and diaphragm have expanded, her liver, stomach, and other organs have relieved themselves in a measure from the cramped, congested state which is their daily normal. Her whole system is refreshed.
     She rises, and forthwith proceeds to thwart the healthful expansive processes which have gone on during the night. She encases herself in an abnormality of steel and whalebone, compressing vital organs in an unyielding grip. The resulting sense of constriction; more irksome as every woman knows but too well in the morning, where it does not induce actual nausea at all events occasions a feeling of pressure destructive of appetite; so that after a fast of some twelve or fourteen hours, the girl, whose growing, hungry tissues clamour for fresh supplies, is unable to take the food her system badly needs to start the day upon. Or if she takes it the cramped organs can but ill assimilate it. As the duty of the stomach is to convert food into soluble nutrition which the blood may carry to the tissues, so the duty of the liver is to store the surplus of a meal and to discharge it slowly as the system calls for it. But the capacity of the constricted stomach is so encroached upon that it will not without pain or discomfort contain enough material for the needs of nutrition. Consequently only half enough or even less is taken. The abnormal pressure prevents the natural churning movements essential to assimilation. Added to which there is grave interference with nerve and blood-supplies. Neither should it be supposed that digestive capacity can be gauged by the bulk of food swallowed. Digestion is a far more complex thing than this; a thing too complex, indeed, for organs hampered and degenerated by decades of constriction to achieve.
     The storage power of the liver, intended for the provision of nourishment during such times as the stomach is empty, is encroached upon by so many square inches as the waist is diminished. Moreover, the blood-currents through this organ, whose duty it is to keep the blood in condition, are impeded and become sluggish, and in time its structure shrinks. The same shrinking and degeneration go on in the lungs, which are not permitted full expansion during the hours of action, the hours that is of deepest breathing. And all these conditions from being merely temporary become permanent, resulting in organic change and deterioration. The starved blood is pallid, thin, and incapable of nourishing the tissues. These waste. The girl grows flat-chested and hollow-cheeked. Her ill-fed skin is dry and inelastic, and will early shrivel into wrinkles. At the same time the congestion and deterioration of internal organs result in lines and dragged furrows from the eyes and angles of the mouth. While she is yet a girl she has lost out of her face and figure nearly every curve and charm and softness that belongs to womanhood. For beauty is a luxury of Nature, it is something that is elaborated out of the surplus left over from the mere utilitarian demands of the body.
     Her abdominal muscles microscopically examined will be found to have atrophied, the healthy muscle-cells being replaced by fattily degenerate cells for the reason that the supple support it was their function to supply has been abnormally and stiffly supplied by steel and whalebone, and they have wasted from disuse. Later in life they will probably yield altogether, the woman becoming the shapeless personage we regard as the norm of middle-age. With this atrophy and atony of external muscles there goes on an associated atrophy and atony of internal muscles, leading to results which custom does not permit us to discuss out of the pages of medical literature.
     Dyspepsia may fairly be described as the feminine of digestion; to such an extent do women suffer from this most distressing and injurious of disabilities. Especially is this the case during girlhood. Just at the period when Nature is making great demands upon the resources, dyspepsia with its resulting starvation and impoverishment steps in. Development ceases, or if it continues does so at the expense of health. Either the girl never grows into a woman, or she grows into a sickly woman with ill-nourished and defective tissues. Her structure has been supplied from dyspeptic sources. Food which a capable digestion would have raised to its highest powers, supplying nutrition of the greatest efficiency, has, as a consequence of her poor assimilative capacity, rendered up only half or a third of its value. And this even at the cost of suffering. Small wonder:that women's tongues and tempers are not all they should be! The satisfaction of healthy appetite, grateful and pleasing to a healthy organisation, is to the corseted one an ever-recurring source of pain and irritation.
     Now the source of all power, physical or intellectual, being digestion, it follows that he who has the greatest capacity for turning food-stuff into energy is the person best equipped in life. Much depends of course upon the form into which the faculties further elaborate the energy derived from digestion, but digestion is the fons et origo of all capacity. Given a man. with a good digestion and a capable brain, that man will assuredly (all other things being equal) accomplish more than another with an equally good Intellectual organ and a poor digestion.
    Woman, then, in impairing her assimilative power is impairing her human power. She can never fairly keep up with man , whose assimilative capability, uninjured at all events by stays, is more according to his needs. It may be accepted indeed as fundamental truth that so long as women wear stays (for women seldom wear stays without lacing them too tightly) our sex can never properly take its place in the world of work. The inefficiency inseparable from anaemia and malnutrition may pass muster in homes where there is no standard of excellence, where the produce is not a marketable commodity :but merely offspring, and where lack of capacity and 'nerves' do not affect the affairs of nations, but it will not stand the strain of competitive life. So long as one sex wantonly curtails its powers and the other sex does not, so long will the sex which does be heavily and insuperably handicapped.
     It may be objected that woman is to-day stronger and more athletic than she has ever been. But it must not be forgotten that, not even in man, and certainly not in woman, is muscular capacity a test of health. On the contrary, its possession in very marked degree is one of the symptoms of degeneracy. And whatsoever may be advanced in evidence of modern woman's muscularity, it cannot be denied that she is physically immature. She may be tall, she may be sturdy and capable of great athletic feats; but is she womanly? The term is hard to define. Womanliness is not a thing of inches, nor of muscles, nor of strength, but inhuman and intrinsic value far superior to these: without it any member of the sex, be she as tall, as strong, and as muscular as she may be, is immature has fallen short in her development. In so far as she is not womanly she approximates the masculine type, and approximates it only in its cruder attributes. The blight of arrested growth has fallen upon her, and the fact that this arrested growth is not necessarily attended by muscular incompetence makes it none the less a blight.
     The writer can affirm without reservation that of the women she has known who have reached the highest ideals of their sex in mind and body, of those also who have preserved their youth and beauty into advanced years, each one has been a woman who has not worn stays, or has not at all events employed them as a means of constriction.
     In these days girls no longer marry in their teens (for which posterity will have every reason to be thankful), so that the preservation of good looks is indicated for a longer period than formerly. The haggardness and peevish furrows, the sallowness and pallor, . the 'nerves' and waspish temper, to say nothing of the angularity resulting from unnatural compression and its attendant malnutrition, show themselves in the well (?) be-corseted long before the average age of marriage.
     Once women realise this fact, that the expedient of tight-lacing, which they so short-sightedly adopt in the interests of their appearance, is in truth the most cruel and absolute destroyer of beauty that could have been devised, then maybe the practice will be threatened.
     That a leopard will change his spots or women discard the use of stays in the course of one generation is not to be expected. Progress  is far too slow a thing for that. Even the platform of woman's rights is an object-lesson in wasp-waistedness.  But if women will not themselves abandon this abomination of tight-lacing, with its multiple miseries and race-deterioration, at least they should so far yield to scientific representation as to  preserve their growing girls from the cruelty entailed in injured health, arrested growth, abortive womanhood, and restricted power.
     One cannot prevent a person come to years which stand for discretion from distorting her figure and spoiling her health, but public opinion should speak plainly and irresistibly, paternal authority should be exerted if need be, to rescue the already too fragile and devitalised girls of our day from this barbarity of corsets, which their own ignorance or the culpable ignorance or callousness of mothers puts upon them. One hears always the same cry, 'The stays are not tight!'  Tolerance, doubtless, as in the case of the monkeys, becomes established, but the tolerance is at the expense of pinched degenerating organs and arrested growth.
    That the stays are indeed tight is shown by the fact that although the physique and internal organs expand in every other direction, the waist of adult woman is actually less than that of the girl between ten and twelve. Moreover, it has been found that the waists of young women released from the abnormal bondage of corsets, described as "not the least bit tight," expand i n the course of a few months to the extent of some three to seven inches. The female waist is naturally two inches larger than that of a male of corresponding height and weight. Yet the waist of woman unnaturally compressed is a very great many inches smaller, as we know, than that of her masculine fellow.
     The medical aspects of the case, the displacement and disease of most important organs and the disastrous consequences to health, can only be suggested here. But the external physical decadence is a sign on the face of modern woman indicative of grave internal havoc.
    Let man, who rails at the proneness of a gentler sex to back-biting scandal, and pitiful spites, try for himself what it means to spend a day in well-laced corsets, a summer's day preferably, when the blood-vessels respond to the dilating warmth. How much amiability, tolerance, or generous feeling will he succeed in manufacturing during such a day?
     It would serve him for a liberal education, and temper for ever after his strange masculine and inartistic enthusiasm for wasp-waists. For it would prove to him once and for all time the cost at which the nineteen inches he applauds are gained. Also, it would bring home to him forcibly how much more delectable a place the world would be to live in, freer from jars and sordid bickerings, 'incompatibilities' and disunion, were woman but released from this her weariest burden, were she permitted to reach the full and healthy development of her womanhood, instead of remaining the immature, half-developed (though possibly muscular) being she is to-day. There is no doubt that dress is the charity which covereth multiple grievous deficiencies. The average woman, clothed as fashion clothes her, presents, I confess, an exterior pleasing to our artificial and acquired tastes. Unclothed—alas! she is that to make the physiologist and artist weep.

The Nineteenth Century, 1904

Sunday 23 January 2011

Waiters and Hotel Workers

A straightforward piece on the working conditions of waiters and hotel-workers:



     AMONG the many topics upon which society is just now exercised, the condition of the masses upon whose toil it subsists is one of the foremost. We want to know what they eat, where they sleep, how they amuse themselves, and what means of satisfying their requirements their daily toil brings within their reach. And this curiosity is naturally keenest and widest spread about the classes we are most immediately dependent upon. Among these are the employes who cook for us and wait upon us in the clubs and restaurants of the West End. A short study of the varying conditions of their work will perhaps be acceptable to some of the readers of this magazine. We take the waiters first, as being the class of employes most in evidence before the public, as well as the most numerous.
     The mode and amount of remuneration in this occupation varies extremely. The scale of wages in clubs is high, £50 to £60 a year for head-waiters, and £25 to £40, according to the class of work and length of service, for the rest, exclusive of board and lodging, which are provided for all classes of club servants. The conditions of service are much the same in the best hotels as in clubs, and so is the rate of pay. The wages in other hotels would range from ten to twenty shillings a week, with board and lodging as well; in the more luxurious society restaurants, from fifteen to twenty shillings (the headwaiter getting ten shillings more) ; and, in restaurants for business people, from ten to twelve shillings, in both cases without lodging. The men who are paid the smallest wages by their employers have, however, by no means the lowest incomes. The custom of tipping is pretty generally taken into account by master and man in fixing the rate of remuneration. Accordingly, other things being equal, the greater the opportunity for betting tips the lower the rate of wages. There is, indeed, no hard and fast rule of proportion between the amount of wages accepted and of tips expected. But, speaking generally, we should not be far wrong, I think, in reckoning the tips received in wage-paying restaurants as at least equal to the wages paid, and in hotels as half that proportion. I am speaking now especially of English hotel and restaurant waiters. English waiters in clubs, and foreign waiters in restaurants, who are mostly Italians or Italian-Swiss, are on quite different footings, In the club, tipping is not usual ; its place is taken by Christmas-boxes. Here and there, a proprietor may forbid domestics to receive tips, but so dear is the custom to the British public that, in spite of such a rule, a waiter sometimes finds his customer has in departing left a souvenir for him under his plate. In other cases the head-waiter gets the lion's share of tips. As each waiter has usually certain tables allotted to him (called his station), the number of persons whom he has to serve, and consequently the amount of his tips, will depend very much on the position of these tables. If they are in an out-of-the-way corner he will get few tips, and if they are near a window he will bet many. In order to equalise the chances, the waiters' stations are changed from day to day.
     While the English waiter, for the most part, stipulates for a fixed wage, however small, the foreign restaurant waiter is content not only to rely on tips alone (for which he is nevertheless not allowed to ask), but frequently has to pay his employer a considerable percentage on his gains. He arrives here almost ignorant of the language, and accepts a low wage to secure a situation where he will have an opportunity of learning it. When he has attained a certain degree of fluency he transfers himself to a restaurant, where, with long and incessant toil, he makes a fairly good living—perhaps a couple of pounds a week—in spite of the heavy tax his employer imposes on his industry. Hard-working and frugal, he keeps a comfortable home over his head, and puts by as well, so that by the time he attains middle life, he is in a position to emancipate himself. The amount he pays for his place depends on the position of lns station, on the class of customers he serves, and on the amount of tips that may consequently be reckoned on, but it may be roughly estimated at from half-a-crown to five shillings a da.y, or from one to two pounds a week. In other restaurants, the waiter pays to the master, instead, a commission of about sixpence in the pound on all orders ; that is to say, if the waiter has received five pounds for meals supplied during the day to customers, he pays the master £5 2s. 6d., so that until he has received half-a-crown in tips he has actually given his labour for nothing, and is out of pocket to boot. These payments are quite independent of the deposit required under the cheque system described later on. In most restaurants owned by foreigners, all waiters are free and equal, and there are no head-waiters ; but in some a few principal waiters are employed, who pay nothing for their places and who take all the tips, engaging all further help, when required, at their own expense. The under-waiters so employed will get about fourteen or fifteen shillings a week wages, and pick up an odd shilling or two besides by brushing customers' hats and coats. The remuneration in the smaller and cheaper restaurants owned by Italians does not fall very far short of the amount obtaining in those I have just referred to. The tips given are much smaller in amount, but greater in number, and the pence mount up.
     Breakages of glass and crockery by their servants are a fruitful source of loss to proprietors, and they have various modes of defending themselves against it. In one club breakages to the annual value of twenty pounds are allowed for as unavoidable. Breakages above that value are made good by a general levy throughout the staff. But a much more general practice is to have an indemnity fund, to which the employees are required to contribute a fixed weekly sum, ranging from fourpence to a shilling for each person, and to make good any breakages which may occur in excess of it. Under such a system the fund may easily be worked as a source of income to the proprietor. Other employers dispense with a fund, each employe making good any damage occasioned by him. Fines for lateness are very general —about threepence for each quarter of an hour being a frequent penalty.
     As a rule, except in clubs, waiters find their own clothes, and pay for their washing themselves.
     In restaurants where the customer pays his bill through the waiter, the latter is held responsible for its due payment from the moment he receives the articles ordered by the customer from the kitchen, and what is known as the "cheque " system is pretty generally adopted. The waiter, on beginning his day's work, pays in to the proprietor, or his clerk, from two to five pounds, to cover the value of the orders he is likely to receive during the day, and he is given in exchange a number of "cheques." For every order he gives he hands in cheques to an equivalent amount. If the value of the orders exceed the amount of deposit, the waiter must pay in more money before he receives the dishes. What the customers pay him he retains until settling time. If the customer goes away without paying, the waiter must bear the loss. In one instance I heard of, a customer, after enjoying a sumptuous dinner, suddenly discovered, with much apparent surprise, that he had not the wherewithal to pay for it, and told the waiter he must go to borrow it from a friend. He offered, very fairly, to take the waiter with him, and chartered a cab for the purpose. They drove to two or three places without finding the friend at home. At last they discovered him ; at least the customer disappeared through what he said was the door of his friend's room. He did not return ; and on the anxious waiter's inquiring whither the door led, he learnt that it communicated with a passage leading into the street at the back of the house. It was too late to follow in pursuit, and my unfortunate friend had not only the dinner to pay for, but the cabman engaged by the customer to settle with, which might be considered, under the circumstances, as insult added to injury. The waiter is the person on whom blame naturally falls if orders are not promptly executed. But lie is himself at the mercy of the kitchen porters, who pass him the dishes from the kitchen, and these men can seriously impede him by dawdling in carrying out his orders if he fails to square them with a fee. So that here we find an unexpected illustration of the truth of the late Professor Edward Forbes's scientific observation a propos of the infinitely little in nature :
     "Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
      And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum."
     The waiter, who lives in part upon the customer, is himself preyed upon by the kitchen porter.
     Waiters are engaged by the month, week, or day, and in some establishments they can leave or be discharged without notice. The longer periods are usual in clubs and hotels, but both in them and in restaurants a great number of waiters are employed by the evening, going on duty between four and six o'clock. Many of these evening waiters are employed in the daytime in city restaurants, which close early.
     A waiter's hours of duty strike us at first sight as longer than those of any other calling. But it must be remembered that he is not actively engaged the whole time. In this respect the waiter in small hotels and restaurants is worse off than in larger ones, since, as fewer hands are employed, it is less easy to arrange for relief. In clubs, the waiters are divided into sides, each of which is busy and slack on alternate days. The busy side is on duty all through the club day, except during a few hours' rest in the afternoon. The slack side is on duty for some six or seven hours in the busy part of the day. A hotel waiter has a rest in the afternoon, and in some places goes off duty an hour or two earlier on alternate nights. The same rule holds good as to restaurants, where the waiter goes between eight and nine in the morning, and helps to clean the plate and to set out the tables, and then goes home for an hour or two to dress. He has sometimes a rest in the afternoon as well. A waiter's working day (exclusive of rests) averages roughly twelve hours in an English house, and thirteen or fourteen in a foreign. In some houses the hours are longer. One Sunday in two or three, or half of every Sunday, is usually allowed the waiter, and this rule holds good throughout the trade.
     As in most trades, there is a wide fringe of casual labour, at least among the English waiters. The foreigner not only is cheaper, but speaks two or three languages to the Englishman's one. A large proportion of hotel and restaurant managers are foreigners, and they prefer to employ their own countrymen. Of the foreigners we probably have the pick; of our own countrymen we have, of course, all sorts—good, bad, and indifferent—and the latter naturally find it hard to get employment. The clubs, indeed, and many of the best hotels and restaurants (as well as most commercial hotels) employ none but English; and in such houses the steady and competent men find constant and well-paid work. But men who are intemperate, or slovenly, or careless while on duty, are only employed during a heavy press of work, or in suburban pleasure resorts during the summer season. The foreigners have organized some half-dozen clubs or unions with employment registries attached, and these clubs have established relations with employers, to whom they guarantee the character of the servants they supply. These unions combine the functions of social club, employment registry, and friendly society; and one at least of them lets furnished sleeping rooms to its bachelor members at a moderate rent, with the general comfort and cleanliness of which I was much impressed.
     The routine of a London hotel or restaurant exacts of the waiter a sharpness and agility that is only to be found among the comparatively young. A man over forty or forty-five is seldom to be found amogo the ranks. By that time he has either been promoted to a head-waitership or some such dignified and lucrative post, or he has betaken himself to some other calling, especially if he has saved money and can go into business. Germans are said to prefer returning to their own country when they can do so without fear of the military law. There they find many snug little berths as commissionaires, cicerones, or interpreters, for which they are well adapted. Italians often remain in England and become proprietors of restaurants themselves. Several of them will put their money together and make a venture on true co-operative lines. One will cook, another will wait on customers, whilst a third attends to the shop and takes the money, the profits being shared out among them.
     The foreigner strikes one as being generally the superior of his English comrade in intelligence, and this is hardly to be wondered at, since lie has been farther afield, and often belongs to a higher class in his own country. A German will sometimes adopt the calling of waiter here for the sake of the facilities it offers for learning the language,a knowledge which he can turn to account on his return. As has already been said, the newly-arrived foreigner undersells not only the Englishman but his own already established countrymen, who obtain quite as good pay as the average English waiter, though they perhaps work somewhat harder for it and whose standard of comfort is quite equal to his. There seems to be no data for ascertaining the exact number of foreign waiters in London. The restaurants are almost entirely manned by them. The German waiters' clubs alone are said to have twelve hundred members.
     The chef, whether of a club, hotel, or restaurant, is a very important officer. He stands in the front rank of his profession. He is responsible for any shortcomings on the part of his subordinates, appoints each day's menu, and supervises the composition of the various dishes. The actual handiwork is done, in large establishments, by the second chef and by women-cooks and kitchen-maids. Of the various departments of roasting, dressing vegetables, making pastry, and compounding sauces, the two last require the most skill. The chef's income would not be despised by many a struggling professional man. Even in first-class restaurants and vegetarian dining-rooms the pay is two or three pounds a week, while in clubs and the best class of hotels and restaurants it rises to £200 or £300 a year, and sometimes more. Besides this, the chef is allowed to increase his income ten or twenty per cent. by taking pupils, and members of a club will often put their cooks under him for a month's training, paying him a few guineas as a premium. It goes without saying that the majority of chefs are French.
     The chef is the only servant in a club who is not under the direction of the steward. This important official does the daily marketing for the club. An analogous post in restaurants is filled by the storekeeper. Other servants are the butler and hall-porter, whose duties are sufficiently intelligible ; the kitchen porter, who is the go-between of the tradesman and the cook, on the one hand, and of the cook and the waiter on the other ; the scullerymen and the luggage porters. The latter are the modern representatives of the "boots" of the old coaching days. The pay of these servants may be taken at about a pound a week either in money or in money's worth. The butler is of course paid more liberally.
     From men-servants we turn to women-servants. The housekeeper and female-clerk in hotels and clubs belong, like the steward and chef, rather to the salaried than to the wage-earning class. The housekeeper exercises a general supervision over the other employees (who usually live on the premises), and it is on her good temper and judgment, and capacity for organizing work with the least waste of labour, that their comfort mainly depends. The housemaids under her receive from £14 to £20, the kitchen and stillroom-maids a little more. Their working-day generally lasts twelve or thirteen hours, but this includes a rest in the afternoon. Chambermaids' wages are also about £20, but as they are in constant touch with the public, which values its night's rest, and is eager to conciliate the tutelary deities of the bedchamber, they, of course, derive a considerable auxiliary income from its bounty. If we turn from these menial employments to the more "select" ranks of barmaids, waitresses, and counter-girls in restaurants, we shall find that the profit of a post is in inverse ratio to its dignity, except when some responsibility attaches to it. Barmaids' wages hover between ten and fifteen shillings a week, with board, and sometimes lodging; counter-girls earn about the same, while waitresses average about eight or ten shillings,and have partial board as well. The manageress at a large bar or counter would receive half as much again, or even double. When we consider the appearance these young ladies are expected to maintain, and the long hours some of them remain on duty, their remuneration appears by no means high. But we must remember that they frequently receive substantial presents and gratuities, which materially enhance their incomes. And another point to be considered, and which applies also, to some extent, to counter-assistants and waitresses, is that these young ladies regard their present employment less as their life's business than as a stepping-stone to a desirable matrimonial alliance.
     Barmaids generally live on the premises, but the other employees are frequently outdoor hands. A great number of them are not entirely dependent on their own exertions. They live at home, sometimes paying their parents a few shillings a week for board, and sometimes having only to find their clothes. Others live in homes for business girls, where they are comfortably maintained at a far smaller cost than if they lived by themselves. Or they economise by living two or three together. The employment, too, especially behind the counter, is considered easy and genteel, and the daughters and sisters of clerks and small tradesmen, who are too proud or too delicate to undertake more laborious work. keenly compete for such situations. They are therefore content with a low rate of remuneration, compared with the wages received by the maids in hotels and clubs, who are mostly drawn from a rather lower class; and they thus make matters worse for the minority, who are entirely dependent on their own earnings, and have, perhaps, to help their relations as well. These find it hard to make both ends meet on remuneration which is sometimes little more than pocket-money wages, and from which ten or twenty per cent. has to be taken off for the cost of clean caps and aprons. It is a curious fact that, more than a century ago, the inquiring mind of Boswell had applied to Johnson for aid in solving the problem, why women-servants, who had to find their own clothes, were paid so much less than men-servants, whose liveries were provided by their masters. The omniscient lexicographer had to confess himself baffled.
     The life of servants in a club seems monotonous and dull. The hours of duty are long, and probably seem none the less so because there is no heavy pressure of work except at the usual meal times. There is something depressing, too, in the solemn and decorous atmosphere pervading club-rooms. On the other hand, for the solid creature comforts of good pay and fairly healthy conditions of life, club service compares favourably with other callings, but most of all in the constancy of employment. When off duty, the servants can sit in the servants' hall, which is kept supplied with books and games. Some clubs pension off their old servants, and encourage the formation of cricket and benefit clubs among their staff. For the amusement of the women servants a social club has been opened near Charing Cross, with the concurrence of many of the leading clubs and hotels. In many clubs, the leading servants have gradually worked their way up from the position of page-boys, so that the prospect of probable promotion imparts a zest to life. The conditions of service in the old-fashioned first-rate hotels approximate nearly to those in clubs, and servants who have been used to them generally prefer the kind of life to private service. The work is more systematic, and there is more society.
     But the formal epitome of the earnings and hours of work of these employes affords but an incomplete and partial test of their comfort and happiness. These depend largely on the character and demeanour of their immediate superiors. In the power of these latter it lies to combine firmness with fairness, to be lenient towards insignificant failings, to show consideration in illness, and so to apportion the work as to avoid friction and waste of time or labour. And the employes are very ready to recognise any consideration shown them by their employers. In this department of labour, no less than in others whose views and aspirations are find. ing public expression, we see that the concrete advantages of high wages and short hours are not the only points on which the workers set a value, but that personal kind. ness, consideration, and courtesy on the part of employers and managers meet with prompt recognition from their subordinates.

Good Words, 1892   

Wednesday 19 January 2011

How do you walk London? The Left-Right System. (aka The Right-Left System)

Someone close to my heart has a marvellous system for walking round London.

She invented it herself, although I'd be interested to know if anyone else is a follower of this methodology.

Essentially, you pick a direction for your walk, then decide whether you're going to go left then right at every junction, or, alternatively, right then left.

Then you stick to it.

That would be a simple 'diagonal' through the London streets, except for the variables ...

You have to stay on your original side of the road (ie. you cannot cross the road in order to take a turning) except when you see a zebra crossing (in which case, you must cross the road, if you are waiting to turn in that particular direction). Example below:

A pelican crossing is identical, but you can only cross if the pedestrian light is on green at the time you reach the crossing. No waiting!

At crossroads with traffic lights, a similar lighting rule applies - you can only effect a right or left turn if the green man allows it. If, for example, you want to go right, but the first green man showing is for straight ahead, then you carry on in a straight line.

It swiftly becomes a peculiar, semi-random trawl through London, effecting divergent walking results.

(You are allowed to reverse out of dead-ends; and, no, you don't have to walk backwards, although it might make it more interesting.)

I am almost tempted to start a Left/Right London Walking Club; there would have to be a splinter-group for Right/Left, which I don't really favour.

It would need a better name.

The Almost Random Walking Club?

Anyone interested?

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Cadger's Map

An interesting map in the Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words (1860) ... showing the street markings of professional beggars. I've always been a little skeptical about how much such marks were used, but you find this stuff in various sources:

"There is a sort of blackguards' literature, and the initiated understand each other by slang [cant] terms, by pantomimic signs, and by HIEROGLYPHICS. The vagrant's mark may be seen in Havant, on corners of streets, on door posts, and on house steps. Simple as these chalk lines appear, they inform the succeeding vagrants of all they require to know; and a few white scratches may say, 'be importunate,' or 'pass on.' [Mr. Rawlinson's Report to the General Board of Health, Parish of Savant, Hampshire]"

Monday 17 January 2011

Drithel or Complete Dribble?

The "London Journal" is, I rather suspect, not the most reliable and weighty of nineteenth century periodicals: a very populist magazine with plenty jokes and 'fascinating facts' (the latter of which often look suspiciously like they were made up by a weary copy-editor). Having found this intriguing article on local drinks, I am left wondering if there really was a drink called "drithel" consumed by thousands of Manchester factory-hands, which happened to include hemlock as part of its ingredients. One brief mention of it on Google in an 1906 US paper, which doesn't really prove anything ... any Mancunian local history buffs out there?

Queer Drinks.

NEARLY every county in Britain has its own pet drink, and very queer beverages some of them are. Some are harmless, and some are deadly, but millions of gallons of unheard-of liquids are consumed every year.
    Devon and Somerset people go is largely for a drink called "slipper," made from stewed poplar-leaves and burdock-seed. It is really a sort of sleeping-draught, and over 30,000 West-county people indulge in it. There are dealers in Exeter and Plymouth whose sole business is "slipper" making, and a very fair business they make of it. The price is about threepence a pint, and there are very few villages in West Britain where you can't buy unlimited "slipper."
    It is calculated that over four million pints of the stuff are consumed every year. It is to be had in London, too, at many hotels. It has an acid taste, and it one of the sleepiest drinks in existence. However, it's absolutely harmless.
    A much more deadly beverage is the drink called "drithel," popular in the North. The cotton-hands of Manchester and the factory-workers of Yorkshire get through nearly ten million pints of this stuff every year. It is made of hops, hemlock-root, parsley, and clove, and is one of the most dangerous liquors ever brewed. The northern counties pay about £18,000 a year for the output of "drithel." Many of the factory bands drink it daily, and there are any number of brewers and sellers of "drithel" scattered about Yorkshire and Lancashire.
    The stuff leads to frantic excitement, followed by exhaustion, and a confirmed "drithel" maniac loses his eight sight and hearing after long excesses in the poisonous stuff. It turns the skin to a dull leaden line, and destroys the memory even more effectually than the worst kinds of alcohol.
    Drithel-drinking is an acquired taste, for the decoction is not pleasant to a novice ; but it is cheap—about threepence a pint—and some victims of the habit get through five or six pints a day. The hemlock, together with a faint sprinkling of a drug which gives the whole thing its piquancy, is the deadly element in "drithel."
    Warwick and the Midlands boast a much more innocent beverage. It is a concoction of ginger, buttercup-seed, cayenne, and beet-juice, and is calculated to scorch the lining from a traction-engine. Taken raw, it is probably the hottest drink in the country ; but it does no harm, and, if well watered, is pleasant enough. The natives of the Midlands, however, drink it raw.
    About 40000 people go in for this mixture, which is known as "poker," and one dealer alone sells 300,000 pints annually. Altogether the yearly disposal of "poker" in the Midlands rune to nearly 400,000 gallons.

The London Journal, 1898