Tuesday 29 September 2015

A Dress Lodger

Dress lodgers were prostitutes who were kept in permanent 'debt' to a madam/pimp for the cost of a dress which the procurer 'loaned' to them, often their only garment, without which they could not leave the house - a form of sex slavery. They were sent out on the streets to pick up men, and carefully watched, in case they ran.

‘Mrs. Barrett had two dress lodgers (who gave up their infamous earnings to her) when I resided with her. Mrs. Barrett used to say to them at night, “Come, girls, the sooner you get out, the more chance you will have.” Mrs. Barrett had all the money they produced; if they were backward to go out, she would threaten them, and sometimes beat them. She would call 3l. 10s. a bad week’s work; a great number of boys under the age of 15 would come to the house, mostly on Sunday evenings. They were encouraged to do so. About the latter end of last December one of her dress lodgers left, and the same night Mrs. Barnett told me to get my bonnet and shawl and accompany her and Mrs. Phillips, her aunt, who keeps a house of the same description, over London-bridge. Near the Town-hall we met Charlotte Waller. We went out to look for honest girls. Mrs. Barnett said, ‘My dear, where are you going?’ She said she was looking for her father, and had travelled 112 miles, and could not find her parent. Mrs. Barrett said she hoped she was a good girl, that I was her servant, and that she wanted another to nurse her children and inquired if she would go home with her. The girl appeared surprised, but after a little consideration went along with us. When we got home, the girl appeared astonished at the house, and Phillips and Barnett talked together in the Hebrew language. I was then told to take her up stairs to bed, and by my mistress’s order I brought her clothes down, and the next morning took up a light dress, which she at first refused to wear, as she said she was in mourning; but on my telling her my mistress never allowed her servants to wear their own clothes, she consented. She had some money about her, which I took to my mistress, by her order. The girl had a bundle when we met her, which Barnett took, and I don’t know what came of it. The girl appeared surprised that she was not set out to work. The next night Barnett took her out, and they returned with a stout gentleman, between whom and Mrs. Barnett some conversation took place. Liquor was sent for, and Charlotte Waller was forced to drink; she was then sent up stairs ... I heard a shriek and went up stairs; the stout man was there with Miss Waller, who said ‘You are a witness to my murder’. My mistress called me down and scolded me, saying that I had no business there. The man went away out at the back door. After this Miss Waller was compelled to receive the visits of some man every night. Mr. Barnett was always watching her. I thought, if she was a virtuous girl, she was a great fool. On the following Sunday she was ill, and could not go out. Mrs. Barnett got her a bottle of physic, and brought home some boys. Waller was forced to go out afterwards but walked with great difficulty. On Tuesday, she said she would not go out any longer, she would sit on the steps of a door and die, before she would pursue such a horrible course of life any longer. Mrs. Barnett abused her, and she said she should not skulk there again, although she was very ill, and people remarked, ‘God help the poor creature, where did she come from?’ When she could scarcely move about, Mrs. Barnett used to abuse her dreadfully. Waller was a quiet inoffensive girl. I knew that Phillips and Barnett had agreed to divide her earnings, because they were both together when she was picked up and decoyed to Coburg-street. She often lamented her situation to me. She was sent to the hospital and died there.’

11 March 1835 Times

Thursday 10 September 2015

'London Brothels'


In our writings under this head, we wish it to be clearly understood that we are not the advocates of vice and profligacy. Our sketches are intended to serve a great moral purpose; and we shall endeavour to say nothing to offend the most fastidious.
    It has been calculated by the society for the prevention of juvenile prostitution, that, exclusive of the city, there are 1500 brothels in the metropolis, and we may presume this census only includes the houses of a public description, and principally in low neighbourhoods. The objects of this association, at once recommend themselves to the consideration of the humane and benevolent. As good wine needs no bush, so the cause of real philanthropy needs little comment at the hands of a public writer. It is not liekly that we should find amongst the 1500 houses many of the private aristocratical nunneries with which the west end abounds. In the most stylish streets where, from appearances, you would imagine, that none but the patrician hosts hold sway, we find, emblazoned in the Court Guide, the names and residences of the common prostitutes of ton. Jermyn-street, Cleveland-row, Bury-street, St. James’s Place, Piccadilly, Regent-street, and other streets in St. James’s may be mentioned as places where they are located. Again, in the fashionable purlieus of Portman-square, the ‘birds of paradise’ nestle in flocks, supported in splendour and luxury, in open defiance of popular prejudice and parochial interference. Somerset-street, Hereford-street, Connaught-terrace, Seymour-street, Berkeley-street, are all alike favoured in the season by the visits of the ‘terrestrial feathered race.’ That they are birds of passage is evident from the fact of their migrating with the rest of the elite of town, either to watering places or inland cities of amusement, as soon as the west-end of London assumes a dull appearance. In York-street, Baker-street, we find a brothel kept positively, for the sole accommodation of a noble duke, and he far advanced in years. Of this house, and some others, we shall treat more fully, under the head of Sketches of Courtezans in the future numbers of The Town. We shall, goodnaturedly, set forth the pecadilloes of his grace, and his fair hair’d inamorato; for we quarrel not with gallantry, and war not with the fair, however frail they may be. Still we can safely promise our readers much amusement at the expensive of his graceless grace.
    Lord Viscount Gage lately presided at a meeting of the society we have alluded to. His lordship concluded by stating that they had met to oppose the great Moloch which has impressed the foulest blot on a civilized community; the abandonment of thousands upon thousands of poor innocent female children to hopeless infamy and vice. We know not if the noble duke, so creditably mentioned, has enrolled his name amongst the list of subscribers to this laudable institution; perhaps his grace thinks it better to have a interview with the poor deluded creatures, and in private bestow that charity and advice, which would appear like ostentation to offer in public.
    The private brothels of the aristocracy seldom contain more than three women; the lady of the house, or lady abbess, generally occupies the parlours; Lord Squander keeps a lady on the first floor; and the second is rented by a damsel of doubtfl age, possessing the relics of great personal attraction, who piques herself upon her small ancle, &c., and whose friend does the mysterious, calls himself Mr. James, and is designated by his mistress as “my city man”. The soubriquet of “city man” is sometimes, however, changed for “my strawberry friend;” for, if the gentleman happens to have a penchant for that fruit, or any other, he gets baptized accordingly. In like manner, if he has ever, in the plenitude of his liberality, purchased half a dozen pair of silk stockings, for a new year’s gift for the lady, he immediately becomes “my stocking man;” so he is named according to his deeds or predilections.
    We do not mean to assert that these ladies, living thus privately, are constant to their respective protectors; it is the nature of women to this class to be faithless. The lady abbess in the parlours has got a good friend who pays her rent; the receipts of her house are not inconsiderable, considering it all let; still there are rumours than an old gentleman in black, with short inexpressibles, wearing powder and a pig-tail, is occasionally seen knocking at the door; and the big, broad-shouldered fellow from the barracks, who enters the house by the area steps, it is faintly conjectured, is not old Sarah the cook’s ‘cousin’; in fact, the boy that cleans the knives and shoes, upon one occasion, made a communication to Lord Squander’s lady, about the mysterious appearance of a pair of trooper’s boots, that occasionally obtruded themselves upon his notice to be cleaned; that he could not find the master for them, unless, as was faintly conjectured by the boy, he “vos in missus’s bed-room”. Lord Squander’s lady is sometimes seen riding out, in the cab of Lord Squander’s friend; and the top-sawyer  in the second floor, once a week regularly dresses herlsef as a respectable scullion, and is watched to an introducing-house kept by old Madame Somebody, in some street near to such a square.

The Town, June 10 1837

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Strict Ballroom

Sometimes, when you are asked to dinner, your host and hostess will conduct you with them to a ball, your conduct on this occasion, therefore, will form our next subject of comment. The proprieties of ball-room etiquette are very nice and should be carefully studied by those who wish to keep on good terms with that sex which forms the great charm and ornament of all society. Dancing is an accomplishment which, though generally assiduously cultivated by the female sex, is too often neglected or disregarded as a necessary branch of a gentleman's education.In our great public schools no provision is made for it in the academical course; and the boy of good family who is sent to them must learn the art, if he learn it at all, by fits and starts, during his holidays, and, as is very often the case, he will dislike to do so even then, for fear of being laughed at by his schoolfellows for cultivating so effeminate an accomplishment. Nature has made every Frenchman and Frenchwoman agile, and has implanted in all classes as love - almost a passion - for dancing; and if Art were called in to enforce universally on our countrymen the elegancies and proprieties of this delightful exercise, she might, without injury to our more manly virtues, make us "a nation of dancers" as well musicians. Many object to dancing because it has been abused to bad purposes, but is has been abused only in company with many other good things; and if late hours, bad associations, and habits of excitement - often ending in a languor as mischievous as dangerous - are the common results of this exercise, these surely are not inseparable from dancing; and the best way to counteract these results is to provide proper hours, proper places, and proper rules and regulations for its enjoyment.

On entering a ball-room and especially when the company is large, you will perceive several individuals who officiate as 'masters of ceremonies', or stewards for the occasion. We are here, of course, speaking of a public ball-room, for, at a private party, the host and hostess will introduce parties to each other. The duty of the steward is to see that everything is conducted with order and propriety in a way conducive to the enjoyment of the company, and to procure partners for any strangers that may be present. If a stranger see a young lady in the room, apparently disengaged, with whom he desires to dance, the steward will present him to her, unless there be a material difference of rank between the two parties. But a stranger must, on no account, go up to a lady in a public room and ask her to dance with him, as that is considered to be presumption. A ball-room acquaintance does not constitute an acquaintance out of the ball-room, and, therefore, you must not consider that you have a right to address your partner of the night before, should you happen to see her elsewhere. If you find her conversation agreeable, and she appears to find your conversation to her taste, she will give the first sign of recognition herself, on the next occasion of meeting. Do not appear in a ball-room with black gloves on. It is said to be a sign that the person wearing them does not intend to dance, but this is an innovation. White gloves are always the etiquette of a ball-room; and you must be careful not to dance without gloves, as this is considered offensive to a lady. Lead your partner in the dance; do not drag her, or take hold of her hand too tightly.

It may not be considered a disgrace not to be able to dance, as we are not obliged to learn that accomplishment unless we please; but it is quite evident that it is better for those who do not dance to stay away from a public ball-room. But, if anyone in the ball-room ask you, with a kind of sneer: "Don't you dance?" there is no occasion for feeling ashamed to reply in the negative.

A ball-room dress should be as light, and as little cumbersome, as possible - such as, in fact, is most desirable for the purposes of quick movement. Gentlemen should wear black trousers; white waistcoat, or an embroidered black one; black dress coat; black or white neck-cloth; dress boots or pumps; and black silk stockings, with light-coloured gloves. Ladies should have their hair neatly and prettily done, and should not wear flowers and bows of a mixed colour. Dingy white should be avoided in shoes, and other things, and cleaned gloves should never be worn. The top of the ball-room is at the same end as the orchestra, when that is at the end. When the music is in the middle the top is farthest from the door.

If a lady be taken by a gentleman to a ball, he leads her to a seat. While dancing with her, he will pay her exclusive attention, and at the close of a dance will invite her to take refreshments. After leading the lady to her seat, he will leave her with a bow, or, if she think proper, will converse with her for a little time before leaving her. He may claim her hand for one of the subsequent dances, and then he will seek another partner for the ensuing dance.

Usually, both at public and private balls, the dancing is adjourned between twelve and one o'clock to allow time for the supper. To this necessary refreshment, each gentleman must escort his partner in the last dance, or if she has been already engaged for that purpose, he should then offer his services to any lady who may have accompanied him. Should he be alone in the ball-room, it would be polite in him to offer his arm to any lady in the room who is without a companion, and it would be very proper, during the dancing, to engage with a lady for a partner. The gentleman must wait up on the lady whom he has escorted to the supper-table, and not venture to take any refreshment himself until all her wants have been attended to. The gentlemen of the company, in most cases, prefer to stand and wait upon the gentler sex, and when their fair partners have retired (it being considered good manners to do so as soon as the demands of the appetite are satisfied), to sit down to this refection together.

When the ball is approaching its termination, or when the ladies of a party appear desirous to leave the festive scene, the gentlemen who have danced with them will consider it their privilege to call their carriage, and escort them to it; but the gentlemen must be careful not to volunteer their services in escorting their partners home, as that is considered an impropriety. If they have engaged in an animated and agreeable conversation, it may no be out of place, on leaving, to express a respectful hope that the acquaintance may be further cultivated; but this should be only ventured upon in a case where little doubt is entertained of the propriety and acceptability of the offer.

These rules are applicable to private as well as to public balls.

With regard to the dancing itself, we may make a few remarks on the most popular dances, and the etiquette required in engaging in them. The Quadrille may be considered old fashioned by certain young persons, but it will always retain its place in our assemblies as the most pleasant and entertaining dance, and therefore, we give it the first place. It is very easy to learn this dance, for it requires little agility and skill; indeed, little beyond actual walking through the steps is required. If possible, a gentleman will escort his partner to the "top" place; should that be occupied, he will secure the next in position. There were originally six figures in the Quadrille; but, of these, only five are danced now - "Paine's first set," two sets of "Lancers," the "Caledonians," and the "Parisian."

The "Schottische" is the favourite dance of the German peasants, and is a kind of mixture of the waltz and the polka. Some people dance it advancing and retiring, but it is more convenient to dance it to the right and left. In this dance the gentleman will exercise caution in taking hold of his partner's waist; and avoid pressing it, except in the lightest manner, as any such dereliction of good manners may entail angry looks on the part of the lady, and, probably, result in a disinclination on her part, to accept the hand of the offender in future. This caution will apply to the "Waltz" and the "Polka" equally with the "Schottische."

The "Waltz" (which it may be observed, should be pronounced "valtz") is of various kinds; there are the common waltz, the waltz a deux temps, the waltz called the "Redows", and the waltz "Cellarius". Of these, the second is the most fashionable.

The "Polka" is a foreign novelty, and its popularity is almost unprecedented. From its nature, great decorum and propriety are necessary in dancing it; that the lady should lean too heavily on the gentleman, or that the latter should press too closely on his partner, is considered a violation of good manners, which is not tolerated either in private circles or in public assemblies of reputation.

These are the chief dances in vogue. We may here remark that, although it is necessary in a public room to abstain from forcing an acquaintance on anyone, yet acquaintances are made in ball-rooms which, carefully prosecuted, ripen into friendships and not unfrequently terminate in a still dearer connection. Good temper is an essential element of ball-room success. Do not unnecessarily allow any little annoyance resulting from another couple coming into collision with you in the dance, or from your partner being found engaged to another after she has declined the offer of your hand - to irritate you, or to deprive you of the polite calmness which good-breeding requires. Avoid these indications of ill-temper, be polite to your partner, gentlemanly and obliging to all the company with whom you may happen to converse, and your society will be considered acceptable. If these are the necessary formalities of a gentleman's conduct in a ball-room, they may, with a few alterations, comprise those of a lady's on the same occasion. A lady has a perfect right to exercise her own choice in accepting or declining the offer of a gentleman for her hand in a dance and no man of sense would consider a refusal in the light of a personal objection, or resent it as a personal insult. It is only necessary that politeness and proper consideration should be shown in the manner of the lady declining the offer; of course, she should never, either from a motive of vanity, or from a change of temper, or a whim, accept another partner after such a refusal. A lady should always adopt this simple rule of good-breeding when she refuses to dance. In the ball-room, she should be neatly but not gaudily dressed, graceful and gentle, and, at the same time, cautious not to overstep the bounds of propriety and modesty, and she may rely upon it that she will never want a partner in the dance, or continue without  the companionship of a gentleman through the joyous whirl of life.

'The Science of Etiquette, Deportment and Dress', in The London Journal, 16 May 1857