Monday 5 November 2012

Train of Rubbish

One day last week a friend of mine walked down Piccadilly behind a lady who was wearing a dress fitted with the long train now in vogue. Opposite St. James's Club she got into a cab. She consequently left behind her on the pavement all the rubbish which her skirt had collected as it swept down Piccadilly. My friend, being of a scientific turn, proceeded to make an inventory of the collection, and he has been good enough to send it to me for publication. I give it below. In the days when germs and microbes play such an important part in social life, I question very much whether these trains should be permitted by law. This lady left her street sweepings on the curb-stone; but it might be remembered that many convey them into their own or their friends' houses:-

2 cigar ends.
9 cigarette do.
A portion of pork pie.
4 toothpicks.
2 hairpins.
1 stem of a clay pipe.
3 fragments of orange peel.
1 slice of cat's meat.
Half a sole of a boot.
1 plug of tobacco (chewed).
Straw, mud, scraps of paper, and miscellaneous street refuse, ad.lib.

Lady F.W. Harberton, "Symposium on Dress," Arena, vol. 6. New York, 1892, p. 334.

[with thanks to Chia Evers for pointing this out to me]


  1. Makes you see those Victorian outfits in a whole different way. Disgusting and hilarious.

  2. The author was as proponent of 'Rational Dress' for ladies. :-)

  3. ...and she may have been exaggerating just a tad. But really - street-sweeping skirts! What an idea!

  4. It is undoubtedly a piece of 'rational dress' propaganda, and not to be taken literally, I think - but the idea of wear such skirts out of doors in London was quite ridiculous.