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READING VICTORIAN LONDON:<br />

<strong>HENRY</strong> <strong>MAYHEW</strong> (<strong>1812</strong>-<strong>1887</strong>) <strong>AND</strong><br />

LONDON LABOUR <strong>AND</strong> THE LONDON POOR (1861-62)<br />

Nancy Catherine Grout<br />

B .A.Ap.Sc., Simon Fraser University, I986<br />

THESIS SUBMITIED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF<br />

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF<br />

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY<br />

Under Special Arrangements<br />

O Nancy Catherine Grout 1999<br />

SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY<br />

December I999<br />

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<strong>HENRY</strong> <strong>MAYHEW</strong>.<br />

CIk., 4-llr by mural


ABSTRACT<br />

London Labour und the London Poor (186 1-62) is one of England's most remarkable<br />

nineteenth-century urban documents. Henry Mayhew, journalist, playwright and novelist, paured<br />

the best of his life's work into London Labour, and the earlier Morning Clvonicle newspaper<br />

articles (1849-51) on which it was largely based London Labour encapsulates his mature thought<br />

and energy, and public attention, and at its most concentrated, it encapsulates a single intellectual<br />

pattern, the examination of Victorian badon's labouring pax seen through the communication<br />

and cultural prism of vernacular languages. And yet London Labour remains strangely<br />

unrecognized even though there is a substantial body of scholarship focused on Mayfiew's work,<br />

which I have examined. The challenge is to establish once again the theoretical power of<br />

Mayhew's vision of a Victorian society focused on urban relationships in the city.<br />

Reading Victorian London: Henry Mayhew (<strong>1812</strong>-<strong>1887</strong>) and London Labour and the<br />

London Poor (1861-62) considers how Victorian London was shapeb; Lonbon's spatial<br />

organization within the limit ations imposed by these structural determinations; and the patterning<br />

of group and class formations within this spatial domain. The communication issues of language<br />

- the increasingly secondary roles of the vernacular, the rise of modern reading communities,<br />

and the destruction or censorship of certain genres - are also examined The pivotal issues of<br />

folk culture, the labouring poor described as wandering tribes in the midst of Victorian<br />

civilization, are also examined as well as the significance of nimeenth-century travel literature<br />

for understanding these impartant issues. Lastly, the literary issues surrounding London Labour<br />

itself are also examined through the Menippean satire, which accounts for Mayhew's perplexing<br />

and sometimes violent juxtapositions of topics, genres, and attitudes. Fa Mayhew combined his<br />

philosophical and practical inquiries into the study of the street-folk's life, their entertainment,<br />

humour, and vernacular languages, Victotian socio-cultural history, adventure stories and travel<br />

literature, are combined in one literary genre, called the Menippean satire. I conclude that there is


the need for a more adequate theory of modern cities such as Victorian London, its history and<br />

cultures, which could be widened if scholars and journalists seriously included M am's Lon&n<br />

Labour and the London Poor in their discussions.


DEDICATION<br />

To Dr. Jack G dy and Father Walter Ong for their important support along life's way.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS<br />

To Dr. Jerry ZasIove fa his unstinting support and good humour.


"It surely may be considered curious as being the first attempt to publish<br />

the history of a people, fiom the lips of the people themselves - giving<br />

a literal description of their labour, their earnings, their trials, and their<br />

sufferings, in their own "unvarnished" language; and to pourtray the condition<br />

of their homes and their faes by personal observation of the<br />

places, and direct communion with the individuals."<br />

Henry Mayhew<br />

Preface. I: xv<br />

London Labour and !he London Poor<br />

1%8[1861-621


TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

TITLE PAGE / i<br />

APPROVAL I ii<br />

ABSTRACT I iii - iv<br />

DEDICATION / v<br />

QUOTATION / vii<br />

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 viii - ix<br />

PREFACE I x- xv<br />

CHAPTER 1:<br />

Readiag Victorian London: Aenty Mayhew and London fdonr and the London Poor<br />

(1) The Thecuetical Robiem / 1 - 14<br />

(2) Mayhew's London: The Rotoypical, Modern Capitalist City 1 15-22<br />

(3) The Post-War Period: Six Decades of Scholarship 1 22-39<br />

CHAITER 2:<br />

R~cmstructiag the Coastnrted: Space, Culture, and Expldtatian<br />

in Uenry Mayhew's London LPbour. Seeking the World of Henry Mayhew / 40-71<br />

CFiArnR 3:<br />

The Case for the Menlppean Satire: Henry Maybew's London fubour I 72-90<br />

CHAPTER 4:<br />

Space-Wars and Exploitation in Mayhew's London<br />

(1) lntroducti~a 1 91-92<br />

(2) The Historical Setting of Victorian London 1 92-104<br />

(3) Mayhew's Metropolitan London 1 105- 107<br />

(4) The Public and Rivate Spaces of Mayhew's London 1 107- 114<br />

(5) Home Spaces of Loadon / 1 15-119<br />

(6) S meet Spaces of London 1 119- 126<br />

(7) Policing the Street Spaces of London I 126- 130<br />

(8) Conclusion 1 130- 134<br />

CHAPTER 5:<br />

'Conversation Pieces": Vernacular Form of Representation in Mayhew's Londan<br />

(1) Introduction 1 135-136<br />

(2) Historical Background to the "OraVLiterate Debate" / 137- 143<br />

(3) Literacy and the Rise of the Victorian Reading Public 1 144- 157<br />

(4) Carnivatesque Street Literature / 157- 163<br />

(5) The Street Languages of Londoo / 163- 168<br />

(6) The Vmacular Voices of London:<br />

(a) The "Patterers" 1 169-177<br />

0) Standing Patterers, Chaunters, or Ballad-Singers I 177- 182<br />

(c) Reciters of Dialogues 1 183- 184<br />

(7) Other Vernacular Voices of Ladm I 184- 187<br />

(8) In Cooclusicm: ''Wads Haunted His Wak and their History<br />

Gave Clues to the Hidden History of the Crowd"/ 188- 198<br />

viii


CHAPIER 6:<br />

The Tqgkd Net: Critical Anthropolagy, Cultural Hegemony, and<br />

the *Tr~tive/CivUizcd Debate" In MaybewTs London<br />

( 1) Inuoducticm / 199-201<br />

(2) Cultural Hegemmy in Mayhew's London / 201-22 1<br />

(3) "Searching fa the Primitive": Mayhew's London Labour<br />

as Documam Travel Adventure / 221-235<br />

(4) Ethnographic Practices - Mayhew's Idea of "the Rimi tive" / 235-245<br />

CHArnR 7:<br />

'%eatling" beyond Eenry Mayhew and London &bow and the London Poor / 246-256<br />

BIBLIOGRAPHY I 257-272<br />

APPEMlIX I Selection of Illustratioas From London Labour and rhe LDndon Poor<br />

Volume. L II and IlI / 273-302<br />

Credit: London Labour and the London Poor. Dover edition. first published in 1968. is an unabridged<br />

republication of the work as published by Griffin, Bobn. and Company in 186 1-1 862. to which has been<br />

added a new Introduction by John D. Rasenberg.


Preface<br />

On the verge of tbe twenty-first century, we live in a predominantly urban world obsessed<br />

with the media, with upto-the minute news and the larger-than-We reporters that bring us that<br />

news. The grotesque, the honific, and the banal - these newspaper narratives about wars, rapes,<br />

murders, executions, loveaffairs, and wide-spread epidemics - still capture our collective<br />

imaginations. Who were the earlier reporters of the nineteenth-century befae Edward R.<br />

Murrow, Peter Kent, and Barbra Frum glued us to our radios and television sets Mae<br />

specifically, who were Victorian London's long-lost reporters Where did they come from and<br />

what mark did they make Who did they write about Who. in fact, were their readers and what<br />

were their newspapers in a wald where many people still did not read, or even own a book<br />

Rending Victorian bndon: Henry Mayhew (<strong>1812</strong>-<strong>1887</strong>) and London Labour and the London<br />

Poor (1 86 1-62) is an interdisciplinary examination of the Life and times of the Victorian<br />

newspaper reporter, novelist, and playwright, Henry Mayhew. Researching Hemy Mayhew has<br />

bcen a daunting and fascinating scholarly journey. Mayhew came into my life by accident. I was<br />

not searching for him directly, although I have been fascinated with the adwritten tradition ever<br />

since my undergraduate days, and even befae that, with human cultures, travel stories, and<br />

biographies, so that when I first came across E.P. Thompson's article on "The Political Education<br />

of Henry Mayhew" (1967)- I was very intrigued, and perplexed. I discovered that Mayhew's<br />

London Labor~r has suffered from long-term neglect in spite of the fact that Mayhew is the great-<br />

grandfather of today's aal historians like the American writers Studs Take1 and Alex Hailey.<br />

Mayhew, in fact, invented "oral history" a hundred years before it was coined Furthermore, I<br />

discovaed that London Labour, which has often been quoted by scholars such as Thompson, is<br />

still one of the least understood documents in tk canon of Victorian history and literature to re-<br />

emerge afta World War II.


Who is Hemy Mayhew What is his four-volume encyclopedia all about, with its small print<br />

in two columns running to over 1600 pages, and its pages interspersed with Richard Beard's<br />

images of London's street people, now long fagotten How does one read Mayfiew - in effect,<br />

get into Mayhew's life and times In fact, what has Mayhew to say to our generation While<br />

Thompson's article gave me some possible clues about Mayhew, it was reading London Labour<br />

itself that captured my imagination. And it still does. even more so today with its raucous quips,<br />

hilarious characters, and riveting settings; but it is impatant to qualify here that I was trained<br />

primarily in the visual arts in Taonto, Ontario, then I comp1eted an umkgraduate degree in<br />

communication in the mid-80's at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia. Crossing<br />

boundaries, creating new ways of looking at existing scholarly matmal, and translating<br />

educational material fa popular audiences has always been important to me. Furthermore.<br />

because this dissertation is neitkr a traditional cultural-historical, communication nor literary<br />

examination with all the intdlectual problems and tensions between fact and fiction that this<br />

brings, this immanent reading of Mayhew can hopefully make an interdisciplinary contribution to<br />

a major resurgence of interest in Mayhew's place in Victorian history.<br />

Victorian London was to Mayhew a paradigmatic place: something that was both elusive and<br />

clear. Victorians needed to construct a picture of their city, and in an age when film did not yet<br />

exist the only genre open to this kind of urban representation was the newspaper. Big-city<br />

newspapers like The Times and the Morning Chronicle wanted to give their readers - both the<br />

working-class and the middle-class - a picture of the big city. They also wanted to give the<br />

middleclasses a sense of community and adventure, even though most of them lived out their<br />

lives within the fluid boundaries of London This was the nineteenth-century fiamewak of a<br />

burgeoning print-oriented wald that is now so familiar to us, the beginning of the modern<br />

newspaper with its own vanacular in architecture and language. In order to create a dynamic<br />

sense of a living, breathing world, it was important for Mayhew to reconstruct the constructed,


and to point out the contradictions in a city filled with sufferjng and the effects of the urge toward<br />

moclemization. This was Mayhew's London.<br />

Here was a mebopolis that was basically a city of commercial and residential sectas -<br />

streets, squares, courtyards, and houses filled with an inexhaustible supply of people. The sense<br />

of different races constantly on the move, shoulder-t~shoulder, crowded together in bazaars,<br />

streets, and rooms scrambling to survive were completely reinforced in Mayhew's London<br />

Lzbour, as well as the sense of rampant exploitation at the docks, and in the 'sweat strops' too.<br />

Victorian London was also tk structure f a Maytrew. His newspaper articles explored how<br />

London was histaically shaped in the mid-Victorian period, how its emaging spaces were<br />

shaped by economic suuctures, 4 how its spatial domain, in turn, also shaped the cultural and<br />

communication patterns of the laboring poor and rniddleclasses. My own view is that Mayhew<br />

explored London through styles associated with the literary genre of the Menippean satire or,<br />

1<br />

more accurately, through the genre of the carnivaVgrotesque with its "patchwork" use of<br />

bombastic vocabulary, flagrant digressions of different kinds of information juxtaposed side-by-<br />

side, and the critique of fame, fortune, a d virtue, all at the same time. AIthough scholars have<br />

neglected this genre in comparison to other genres, it has attracted such literary giants such as<br />

Lucian, Varro, Bazthius, Burton, Sterne, Fielding, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Smollett . Joyce and<br />

others. These writers were compelled by the intellectual ferment of their times and like Mayhew<br />

used this genre with all its critical adaptability of form, effectiveness, and social commentary.<br />

The main reason that Mayhew probably adapted this genre to his own uses was its capacity for<br />

reaching a wide audience who were often less-educated, and certainly less intellectually<br />

committed than he was. In dialogue with his readers, Mayhew probably realized instinctively that<br />

its combination of humour, story-telling capabilities, and its capacity to turn the world-upside-<br />

down would convey his message to his readers.<br />

xii


London's street folk were mouthpieces of the public squares. Here was a carnivalesque folk<br />

culture with a completely different nonofficial existence outside of the church and politics.<br />

Mayhew was obsessed with recording their voices, memories, and experiences firsthand, so that<br />

for the first time, his recordings became one of the most sensitive, comprehensive indicators of<br />

Victorian communication practices. For Mayhew's Londm Labour was involved in a linguistic<br />

project. it can be argued, to achieve political refa but it was not as politically explicit as Home<br />

Tooke's 1790s discourse on language. "Surprisingiy, Mayhew chose to adopt the m t farreaching<br />

theory of language," Karel Williams has argued 'Words haunted his work and their<br />

history gave clues to the hidden history of the crowd" To Mayhew's credit, he attempted to do<br />

this through the Herculean task of reconciling differing f m of literacy. And he attempted to do<br />

this through documenting the most significant socializing event in the nineteenth-century; the rise<br />

of the Victorian reading public with its popular aal, written, and visual forms of representation.<br />

The growth of this diverse, new reading public - for novels, travel, and magazines - was<br />

the most important socializing event of the nineteenth-century in westem culture. Time fa<br />

reading and the money for shopping changed dramatically. In the midst of changing marketing<br />

practices, books, especially novels, became indispensable to Victorian Life. The novel - saleable,<br />

secular, and now, but a few pennies per installment - became a cultural commodity fa<br />

the first<br />

time, and central to the rise of this diverse reading public. Novels bound the generations and<br />

sexes together, and comics did likewise. Experientially, the act of reading meant different things<br />

to peoples with and without written history. Vast numbers of people lived out their lives without<br />

writing within the social constructs of mimetic-performative cultures such as tondon's streetfolk<br />

for example, whereas, literacy, fa people with written history in the nineteenth-century city,<br />

became a transcendent marker of the transfixmation of national identity.<br />

"Reading" the life and times of a nineteenth-century city such as London through several<br />

"perceptual lenses" meant that Mayhew's readers were involved in a crisis of vast cultural, social,


and political changes. What was so important about Queen Victoria's London (1 837-1901) in this<br />

regard was that it was probably the mast prototypical city f a understanding the growth and<br />

development of all<br />

expanding, market-based, capitalist economies. Mayhew was<br />

obsessed with the urban question aad the problems of London's casual labour within it. So in<br />

October, 1849, Mayhew persuaded the Morning Chronicle editors to publish a full, threepart<br />

series surveying poverty in England in six broad areas, and within these areas, Mayhew was<br />

appointed London's metropolitan coc~espondent. The breadth and depth of Mayhew's three-man<br />

series was a first for British newspapers, and this was Mayhew's particular task - to portray, for<br />

the first time, through his own on-thespot reporting as well as fiom direct interviews with the<br />

labouring pax, what their horns and families really looked like as well as what their work,<br />

wages, trials, and sufferings were all about. Conscious of working within and often against larger<br />

systems of representation, Mayhew was also fascinated with the 'nuts-and-bolts' of language. He<br />

was a grammarian, working within the English Romantic tradition, who attempted to propagate<br />

the ideas of comparative philology by examining languages fkom below. Mayhew used Loadon's<br />

urban spatial structure and paradigm to develop his own sense of place and self-reflections and<br />

self-consciousness as a journalist, urban explorer, reader, grammarian, and theorist of the city to<br />

reveal to his readers what the border-crmsings and spaces of their city were a11 about.<br />

Thus Mayhew became a themist of culture, of city-spaces, and capitahst exploitation, and<br />

because he is, in this sense, a theorist, he must be taken seriously, and not cast aside as just<br />

another impressionistic literary hack who wrote a substantive collection of now-irrelevant<br />

newspaper articles. Mayhew's place in Victorian history was preeminently based on these very<br />

newspaper articles that were collected together in Lon&<br />

Labour and the London Poor. Amidst a<br />

professional career that also brought the satirical Figaro in London and Punch magazine to life,<br />

the background to Mayhew's life on the streets of Loadon is worth examining foc the light it<br />

sheds on Hetlry Mayhew, the man. Although the lessons that Mayhew taught were, at best,<br />

xiv


inadequate, Mayhew's street-people embodied Victorian city-life with its quest for fieeQm,<br />

mobility, and authenticity - for in a very real and contemporary sense, tondon labour was<br />

Victorian history "as it happens". Controversy will always swirl around Mayhew's dominant<br />

political perspectives, whether he is a reformer or a radical thinker, but it is my belief that, as he<br />

becomes mae and m e committed to the plight of London's labouring poor, he uses another,<br />

almost prophetic genre, to lay open to his readers the contradictions of Life on the streets of mid-<br />

Victorian London.


Chapter 1<br />

Reading Victorian London: Henry Mayhew & London Labour<br />

and the London Poor<br />

(1) The Theomtical Problem<br />

Somehow, in the middle of the nhmimth century, in Victman London, London's 'unknown'<br />

streex-folk<br />

a histaical and cultural subject worth four vdumzs and nxrghiy sixteen hundred<br />

pages - not that Victorians weren't already fascinated reading about unhnwn places and 'the<br />

dangerous classes'.' which they<br />

Hemy Mayhew's emycllpedia - h don Labour and the<br />

Labouring Poor ( 1 86 1 -62) collected together in these f m<br />

v o l - ~ enjoyed a wick crms-section<br />

of readers fiom a general Victorian readership large enough to support many editions, to collectors<br />

of the street-cries of London, through to contempcxary historians aad critics in search of material.<br />

For Mayhew collected together and published, fa the first time, "from the lips of the people<br />

themselves," ' the Lives of London's street-folk He was obsased with folk culture. architecture,<br />

languages. customs as well as everyday life that included a vast domain of second-hand objects. '<br />

' Stedman Jones, Gareth. Outcast London: A Study in the Refasionship between Classes in Victorian<br />

Socie~, Clarendon Press, 2971 argues that, pitted against the daninant climate of moral and material<br />

improvement however was a minority of unregenerate poor - 'the dangerous class' - who turned against<br />

the idea of progress, a had been rejected by society (Stedman Jones, 1 1).<br />

' Maxwell. Richard, "Henry Mayhew and the Life of the Street," 7hc Journal of British Studies, 1973: 85-<br />

105. Paraphrasing Maxwell. 87.<br />

3<br />

Following E.P. Thompson, 'The Political Education of Henry Mayhew", Victoriun Studies, 1%7,2, 1,<br />

September (1967): 41-62.<br />

Mayhew, Henry. London Lobour and the London Poor. 4 vds. LooQo: m. Roseberg; New Yak:<br />

Dover Publicatiars. 1%8[1861-621. in the very first sentence of London LPbour. I. Mayhew stated:'The<br />

present volume is the first of an intended series, which it is hoped will farm, when complete, a cyclopaedia<br />

of the industry, the want and the vice of the great Metropolis" (Mayhew, I: xiv).<br />

' Mayhew. II: 16. Dickens was probably familip with Mayhew's work refariog to kook spcifically with<br />

his rag-and-bottle store in Bleak House. Didren's novel began its serial run in 1852; the first collected<br />

volumes of h4ayhew's work appeared in 1851, but the articles 00 the LmQD poor began apparing in 1849<br />

in the Morning Chronicle. Dickeos, who had earlier written f a the Chronicle and who was an avid


But he was also obsessed, as the title suggests, with Lorrdon's labour especially the casual labour of<br />

the me~opolis.~ Ma-<br />

thus poured the best of his life's wmk into London Labour, a d the earlier<br />

Morning Chronicle aewspaper articles ( 1849-51 ) on which it is largely based, to such a degree that<br />

it encapsulated his philosophical thoughts, practical emxgy as well as pubiic anention as none of his<br />

other works ever really did What was at stake kre, at ooe level, was a new relationship between<br />

Mayhew, the autha, and his wcxk<br />

Mayhew, the Chronicle's mar0polita.n investigative reports, became, ova time, che<br />

Chronicle's (and London Ldwur's) seeks of truth, attemping to bridge the gap between the street-<br />

folk's everyday experiences and his own intellectual cancans. Fa M a w umbstood himself to<br />

be, among aher things. a "standard-bearer of an expanding civiliution" ' with the result that<br />

London Labour was one of England's most remarkable nhtamth-tury<br />

urban documents. It was,<br />

at its m t concentrated, a vision that contained a single intellectual pattern woven togetha with<br />

several threads, the examination of London's labouring pom seen through the cultural prism of<br />

vemcular languages, a d set amidst one of the world's rnost dramatic urban senings, that of<br />

nineteenth-century Victorian London. And yet. despite its many 'firsts', ' London Lobour has<br />

remained strangely "unestablished" according to E.P. Thompson. The challenge, therefae, for a<br />

reading of Reading Victorion London: Henry Mayhew (1 8 12-1 887) and h don Labour and the<br />

London Poor (1 86 1 -62). is to establish once again the power of Mayhew's vision, which is focused<br />

on relationships in the city. This dissertation calls for a fiesh examination of the dimensions aad<br />

newspaper reader, may have seen Maybew's two articles, 'Qf the Rag and Bonle". "Marine-Store Shops",<br />

and "Of the Street-Buyers of Waste (Paper)" befae they appeared in 1851; See Maybew. 11: 108.<br />

The "great object" of Maybew's investigation was We condition and characteristics" of waking people<br />

and the "great evil of all casual labour" was 'rhe uncertainty of the incune*' (Mayhew, II: 216,224).<br />

' Elias, Norbert, Power and Civility. New Yak: Pantheon Books, 1982.49.<br />

* London Inbour was, following Mayhew, ''the first "blue book'' eva published in twojxmny numbers"<br />

(Mayhew, I: xiv).<br />

Thompson. 42.


significance of Mayhew's investigations into Loadoa's meet-fdk by historians, anthropologists.<br />

and literary scholars alike. Within this coatext, hen, the dissertation sets out in this introductory<br />

chapter to briefly evaluate the histmcal literature an Mayhew and will discuss c o w and<br />

merhodological oppornrnities and problems, as well as the histmcal setting of Victcrian London<br />

itself. Based on the wak of certain key historians, aottaopdogists, and Literary schdars, this<br />

chapter also sets out to establish the therxetical problems, w, and Qmains of the<br />

dissertation's interdisciplinary approach<br />

Reading Victorian London: considers<br />

intarefated questioas: firstly, how Victorian<br />

London was shaped, that is its dexerrninations as seen through Maws London Labour; secondly,<br />

it considers Lordon's spatial organization within the limitations inpod by these structural<br />

determinations in the mid-Victcxian period; and thirdly the cultural pattaning of group and ciass<br />

focmations within this spatial domain. Reading Vicrorian London uses an interdisciplinary approach<br />

into the conaections between Victorian i.nteUectual and mataid life, without reducing oae to the<br />

other, while also examining tk socidynamics of historical change. Mayhew, in short, struggled to<br />

incorporate the city into his developing social theay of exploitation, and in doing so, accounted fa<br />

the emergence of labouring and waking-class kinds of subjectivity. In pursuing his goals, he also<br />

introduced concrete issues surrounding urban spaces, languages, and cultures. Regarding urban<br />

spaces. he utilized the mganization and reorganization of built f m 'O (architecturaUengiIlsering)<br />

to show how London's spaces defined a dynamic, constantly changing domain. Victaian London<br />

appeared simultaneously to his readers as a given environment, as a relative space (in which the<br />

street folk and their everyday activities were embedded in deeply cultural pattans), and as<br />

- - . --<br />

'O Following Gottdciner, it is important to realize that "built fmns" a the "built eavironment" can mean<br />

"spatial organizatiao" and that the "city'' can also be defined as "the pdynucleated metropditan regioa"<br />

(Gottdeiner, M.. TRe Social Production of Urban SF. 2'* Editim, Austin: Uninnity of Texas Ress,<br />

1994).


elational space, which interiorized spatial dinmuions in objects ami social processes. " In other<br />

words, Mayhew's London has a certain shape within which the stra-people lived out their lives.<br />

Their spaces on the streets, homes, and places of wak are in dynamic relationship with each ather.<br />

and these self-same activities actually contain within tkm spatial elemmts as well." Funhermae.<br />

for Mayhew, the attitudes and behaviour of middle-class Laxbrm-s were lived out within spatial<br />

processes as well as they too jowneyed to wak. mved within tbe housing and labour markets, city<br />

places, and public and private domains. These material spatial practices actually referred to physical<br />

and material interactions that happen in and through Loadon's space in such a way that they assured<br />

production and social reproduction. Furthermae, spatial representations such as Loodon's symbolic<br />

spaces, particular built environments, bazaars, musauns, paintings and the like eaxmpassed all the<br />

signs and significations, codes and forms of knowledge that allowed such material practices to be<br />

talked about and undastood on the stre of London as well as in tk Morning Chronicle offices. l3<br />

The issue of languages are also examined in relationship to the increasingly secoadary roles of<br />

the vernacular that Mayhew documents: the rise of modern nhetamh-<br />

audiences and<br />

reading communities; the role of philology; and the destruction a ceasmship of certain genres that<br />

1 describe through the "aaVliterate debate". The pivotal issues of folk culture, the wandering tribes<br />

in the midst of Victman civilization, are also examirwl critically, as well as the significance of<br />

nineteenth-century travel litaature examined through the ''primitive/civilized debate." Here was a<br />

carnivalesque folk culture with a completely different, non-official existence outside of the church<br />

'I These spatial distinctioas are elaborated by David Harvey. Social Justice and the City. London: Edward<br />

Arnold 1973.<br />

" Harvey's relational model of spacial language as well as Bakhtin's model of verbal language were both<br />

rooted in Liebiu.<br />

l3 See David Harvey. 7 7 ~ Condition of PostmOdcrnify. Cambridge. Mass.:Basil Blackwell, Inc.. 1989.21 8-<br />

19, for Bordieu's (1977) concept of 'habitus'. 'Habitus' produced practices that reproduced the material<br />

experiences of objective spatial structures, which produced the generative principle in the fust place.


axxi of politics. " Lastly, this dissertation also the issue of London Labour itself a<br />

Literary genre. l5 Is it only an encyclopedia l6 as rhe subtitle suggests, only shea jamabsm, travel<br />

Literature, picturesque emataimnem, a soddtural documentaticm as E.P.Tholapsoa :' Gatnrde<br />

Himmelfarb. l8 Anne Humpkys. l9 H.J.Dym.<br />

aad John Rosenbag discuss This dissatation<br />

argues othawise - that it is. in fact, a Menippean satire cx gerne of the carnival/grotesque, which<br />

accounts for Mayhew's perplexing and somtbs violeat juxtapositions of topics, genres, and<br />

attitudes. Fa, however oae attempts to read London Labour, it still must be remembered that it is<br />

not a novel, nor does it read like a novel although mvelistic aspects are embakkd within it, yet it IS<br />

also more than just amther Victaian encyclopedia Fcr Mayhew cumbines his inteIlectua1 and<br />

'' Bakhtin, Wail, Problems of Dostoevsky 's Poetics. Edited and translated by Caryl Emerson.<br />

Inuoductian by Wayne Booth. University of Minneapolis, 1984,6.<br />

lS Todaov, Tzvetan. Introduction to Poetics, trans. by Richard Howard, The Harvester Ress: laadon,<br />

1981. The broader area of study is poetics. Todcrov argued that the "name of Poetics seems appropriate to<br />

such a study if we take the word in its etymological semse, that is, as a name f a everything that bears on the<br />

creation a composition of wcxks having language at axe as their substance and as their instrument - and<br />

not in the resviaed sense of a colleaim of aesthetic rules a precepts relating to poeuy" (Ibid., 7).<br />

l6 Lucian's satires, far example, taken as a group. were "an entire encyclopedia of his times." according to<br />

Bakhtin. (Bakhtin, 118).<br />

I7 E.P. Thompsoo believed that Mayhew9s "satire perhaps was (simply] a cover for a general ambivalence<br />

of political and social stance" (Thompscm, E.P.,The Politics of Education of Henry Mayhew," 42).<br />

l8 Himmelfarb. Gertrude, "Mayhew's Poa: A Problem of Identity," Victorian Studies, 14, March (1971):<br />

307-29. Himmelfarb argued that London Lobour was a bewildering array of facts, figures, images, and<br />

impressions with Mayhew alternating between the satirist, journalist, moralist, and a tre.<br />

l9 Humphays. Anne. Travefs into the Poor Man's Country: Thr Work of Henry Mayhew. Athens:<br />

University of Geagia Ress, 1977. Humpberys believed that London Labour was only a seccmdary and<br />

perhaps slightly embarrassing bodr, an assumptioa that ran throughout Trawls into the Poor Man 's<br />

Country.<br />

" Dyos, H.J., 'The Slums of Victorian England," Victorian Studies, 11, 1, September (1967): 5-40. Dyos<br />

believed rhat Maybew's work was only a form of higher journalism unequal to Booth's great studies. see<br />

Raymond Williams, Polirics andteners. Interviews with New teft Review, NLB, 1979. Williams compsred<br />

Henry Maybew's and Charles Booth's work: "Mayhew's work is composed of a constant interaction<br />

between the premises, observations, questions. He takes assumptions of how people are living back in the<br />

streets and talks to people to find out if they are we: if somebody tells him that they do not earn that much<br />

as a watercress seller, it modifies his view of the world." By comparison, Booth's mew was different,<br />

"Before be speaks to anybody in the East End of Loadon. he bas Mtaily paged its structure by s e t s . In an<br />

incredibly impressive job of work, he then takes his classification to the East End to prove tbat radical<br />

propaganda about it was false" (Williams, 17 1).


practical iaquiries into studymg tbe meet-fdk's everyday We,<br />

emsrainmeat, satire a<br />

vernacular (Chapter 5). socio-cdtural histay " (Chpers 4 and 5), adventUte stories and travel<br />

literature (Chapter 6) - all in om literary genre. The name I give to this gme (as others such as<br />

Bakhtin have also done) is the Menippean satire with some qualifications about its total relevance.<br />

In conclusion, I believe that future analysis of the city a including its cultures ami languages.<br />

and of Marxist critical analysis of the city in particular, could be widend if scholars read London<br />

through Maykw's Ladon Lobour. Engels was the faremaa piara in analyzing what David<br />

Carmadhe following Engels, has called the "links between shapes on tk ground - the physical<br />

farm which the evolving city took - and the shapes in society - the nature of the social<br />

relationships be~reen people who lived in tk towns." zs But Mayhew was important, too. as we<br />

shall see in this detailed examination of London Labour and the h nhn Poor. The theoretical<br />

grounding of most twentieth-century urban studies have unckaxed the concrexe and complex<br />

development of modern industrial countries. Ye& following Katzaelson. the tbmy of<br />

differentiation, on which they are based, is flawed in the assumptions that the basic units of social<br />

analysis should be the individual and society, and that the ways society and the individual relate to<br />

" Hobsbawm, Eric, "Histay and the Dark Satanic Milk" In lnbouring Men Studies in the Hislory of<br />

Lobour. New Yak: Basic Books, 1964 19%)- 105- 1 19. Hobhwm described three periods of the<br />

Industrial Revolution: (1) 1780-1840, the classical age; (2) 1840-1890, capitalism's rule; (3) 1890-1939,<br />

the age of imperialisn and mmopoly capitalism (Hobsbawm, 272).<br />

" The practice of cultural themy aims to understand the texture of social experiences and daily life<br />

including the material foondatioas of the production and aganizatim of power in time and space.<br />

'' Hobsbawm wrote: "Eagels' account of Britain in 1844 and Maor's descriptions of nineteenth-century<br />

social conditions were substantially accepted as standard9* (Ibid, 106, 116); see Marcus, Steven, "Reading<br />

the Illegible: Some Modern Representations of Urban Experience." In Visions of the Modern City. Essays<br />

in History, An, ond titcrarure. Edited by William Sharpe and Leonard Wallock, Baltimore: The John<br />

Hopkins University Ress, 1987,232.<br />

zs Cannadine. David, "Residential Differentiation in Nineteenth Century Towns: Ran Shapes on the<br />

Ground to Shapes in Society." In James H Johnson and Colin G. Mey (eds.), The Structure of Nimteeruh<br />

Cenrury Cities. Lardon: Croom Helm. 1982,235; Katznelsm, Ira, MamfUsm and the City. Oxfad:<br />

Clarendoa Press, 1992,154; see Wi's "Urbenism as a Way of Life*' (1938) and Roben Park's "The City<br />

Suggestions for the Investigatioa of Human Behaviour in he City Environment** (1915).


each otkr should be the main focus of social science investigatioas But la us think of the city. as<br />

Lewis Mumfnd does, as 'the point of rIlaximum conaxmation fa the powa and culture of a<br />

community." '' Tkn, the study or reading of cities like Victorian Loadoa is, at om level. a<br />

particular kind of study of human civilization in a particular time aad place. Given the far-reaching<br />

scope of urban analysis, it is hardly surprising that there continues to be such a vast array of<br />

definitions, specifications. and typologies of the city; yet Mumfud's summary amhues to provide<br />

an imputant analytical beach-mark:<br />

The essential physical means of a city's existence are the fixed site, the durable<br />

shelter, the pamanent facilities fa assembly, imerchange, and storage; the essential<br />

means are the social division of labour, which serves not merely the economic life<br />

but the cultural processes. The city in its complete sense, then, is a geographic plexus,<br />

an economic aganization, an institutional process, a theater of social action,<br />

and an esthetic symbol of collective unity. On the orher hand it is a physical Erm<br />

for the commonplace domestic and economic activities; on the other hand, it is a<br />

consciously dramatic sening fa the more significant actions and the m e<br />

sublimated urges of a human culture."<br />

Rejecting the approach to urban studies develaped in the late ninereenth- and early twentiethcenturies<br />

that was rooted in problems of differentiation, the resurgence of urban studies within<br />

Mancism has owed a great deal to a series of baks published in the late 1960s and early 1970s.<br />

Hemi Lefebvre's pioaeaing work as well as other early landmark works by Manud Castells (1972)<br />

and David Harvey (1972, 1973, 1982) were important in this development. Marxism. of course, was<br />

26 Abrarns. Phillip. Towns and Economic hwth: Some Themria and Problems." In Pbilip Abrams and<br />

E.A.Wrigley (eds.), Towns in Sociefies: Essays in Economic History and Historical Sociology. Camhidge:<br />

Cambridge University Press, 1978,9, 10; see also Gottdieaer, 1985, ch.2.<br />

" Mumfad, Lewis The Culture of Cifies. New Yak: Harm Brace. 1938.3,


developed around the controversial historical relationship between the development of capitalism<br />

and shifts in the maks of production on the olle hand, ard the growth of particular Ldnds of cities<br />

on the other. According to Karl Marx, the development of capitalism as an economic system is om<br />

of the central hallmarks of modernity in the west along with class relations. Regarding tk<br />

relationship between the explosion of space and the development of capital, Lefebwe stated:<br />

"Neitber capitalism nor the state can maintaia the chaotic, contradictory space they have prociuced.<br />

We witness, at all levels, the explosion of space. At the level of the hmdiate and the lived, space<br />

is exploding on all sides, whaher this be living space, personal space, scholastic space, prison<br />

space, army space a hospitd space. Everywhere. people are realizing that space relations are also<br />

social relations." 30 What is important about Casrells, Harvey, and Karmelson (1992) is that they<br />

turned away &om mere documentation towards Gramsci's (1971) critical analysis of hegemony,<br />

and metropolitan cultures within a global system. One maja contribution of this kind of Marxist<br />

analysis, continued by this thesis, was an increasingly --grained<br />

understanding of the structural<br />

crisis of the capitalist system, and class conflicts over languages, architecture, and the face of the<br />

city. Graxnsci elaborated on the most promising lines of inquiry embedded in Marx's historical<br />

writings. He developd a series of sociological, cultural, and political concepts - the most<br />

impartant being the concept of "hegemony" ard "historical bloc" (the specific historical situation in<br />

which an 'essential class' exercises hegemony). He also created, according to Katnelson, a<br />

sociology of conflict capable of dealing with the political complexities of the modem state and civil<br />

" The city as an Wect of study was virtually ignored in the development of Marxist theory for mcxe than a<br />

century after the publication of Engels's book. Perhaps it is true to say that Marx's The Eighfeenrh<br />

Brumaire of Louis Bompune (1950) with its focus cm Parisian class relations placed Manr in the faefrcmt<br />

of urban historians using detailed documentation to explain political events.<br />

" Lefebvre, Hemi, Everyday Life in the Modern Worfd. 197 1,290. Lefebne analyzed space as a political<br />

instrument of primary importance, ensuring its control of places, its strict hierarchy, hocnogeneity of the<br />

whole, and segregatim of the parts: "It is, in other wads, an administratively controlled and even policed<br />

space" (kfebvre, 288). Lefebvre was a pioneering thinker raising damant questions rather than a scholar<br />

who put answers to questions Pmdantas, 1978,201; quoted in Ray Fmest, Jeff Henderson and Peter<br />

Williams, Urban Polirical Economy and Social Theory, Tlre mory of Social Space in the Work of Henri<br />

Lefebvre, Loodcm: Gower, 1982, 180).


society. In this elabaation, the base-superstructure was developed as a complex web of relations in<br />

which the economic, political, and cultural elements of a situation are iatermmctd, and, which<br />

the historicity of social structure is made central. In U k wards, wbat did actually occur must be<br />

made the object of explanati~n.~' Thus the work of LefebVTe, Kaeaelso~ and Craig Calhoun " in<br />

urban studies. Eric Hobsbawm 33 and Stem<br />

Jo~es in British history, Raymond Williams (1958.<br />

1961. 1977). Richard Hoggart (1957) (who read cultural fa~nations of working-class cultures as<br />

ethnographic texts),Y aad E.P.Thornpson (1963, 1978);'<br />

in British cultural studies have grappled<br />

'' Gramsci, Antoaio. Selecsionsfiom the Prison Note6ooks. New Ydc Internatimal Pubtishers. 197 1 ;<br />

Gramsd, Lenersfrom Prison. New Yak: Harper and Row, 1973; Gramsci, Selecrionsfrom Political<br />

Writings, 1910-1920. New YorL: Intemacioaal Publishers, 1977.<br />

32 Worn, Craig, "Class, Plaoe and Industrial Revolution." In Nigel Thrift and Peter Williams (eds.),<br />

Class and Space: The Making of Urban Society. hdoa: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987. Calboun<br />

critiques Marx's treament of capital accumulatioo of class struggle in his logical account of capital<br />

accurnulaticm and his separate divisioa of social theufy. Scholars must join the aganizatid to the spatial<br />

analysis of class fmtim, Calhoun argued underscoring the significance of local community-based<br />

relationships for the development of natioaally distinctive features of class during the first Industrial<br />

Revolutim. Tbe direct, Cace-teface, social relatioasbips within segregated waking-class residential areas<br />

facilitated trust and solidarity that in sane cases came to be besed oa class understanding. Calhoun insisted:<br />

.'TO be salient in the class struggle engendered by capitalism, classes - bourgeoisie, proletariat - must be<br />

organized at the same level as capital acaunulation" (Calboun, 51).<br />

33 Wolf, Eric, Europe and tire People withau~ History. Berkeley, Califaaia- University of Califmia, 1983.<br />

Hobsbawm accepted Wolfs definition that rhe bese was "the complex set of mutually dependent relations<br />

among nature, wak, social labour and social aganization" Wolf, 74); see Ecic Mobsbawm, "Man and<br />

History," New Iefi Review, 143, (Jan.-Feb.1984). Hobsbawm chafacterized the base of determination<br />

between base and superstruaure in tern of the "materialist cmceptioa of history", which, within<br />

capitalism, had given a privileged status to the trajeaory of ecmomic praludcm as "the basis of historical<br />

explanation", though it was "not histmica1 explanation itself" (Hobsbawm, 4Z43.44). The key questions<br />

of determinatim in capitalist societies, fa Hosbawm, lay at the juncture of an expanded notion of capitalist<br />

accumulation, on the one side, and actual history, witb all its variety, on the other: "Thus we how of<br />

societies which have the same material base but widely varying ways of structuring their social relations,<br />

ideology, and other superstnraural features" (Hobsbawm, 44).<br />

"Interview with E.P. Thanpscm." lo Middle Atlantic Radical Historians' Organizatim. Visions of<br />

Hisrory, New York: Panthem Boob, 1984. Thatnpsm had chosen to develop the "real silence in Man,<br />

whicfi lies in the area that anthropologists would call value systems ... There is a silence as to cultural and<br />

moral mediations" ("Interview with E.P. Thanpson", 1984, 20; see E.P. Tbanpsotr, "The Poverty of<br />

Theory." In The Poveny of mory & Other Essays, Lon-: Merlin Press, 1978, 241-2; Raymond<br />

Williams, Marxism and Lircrature. Oxfad: Oxford University Press, 1977). The central coaceptual<br />

argument of Thmpsoo is to suggest how "expaience", located at the junaure of social being and social<br />

consciousness, provided a means of linkage between structure and ageacy. In 'The Poverty of Themy',<br />

Thompson exhated scholars to observe the evidence of deLetminatim in the sense of the "setting of limits"<br />

and the "exerting of pressures", which was drawn &an Raymond Williams's chapter m determinatim in<br />

Marxism and Lirercuure. There, Wiiliams argued emphatically that "A Marxism witbout sane mocept of<br />

determination is in effct worthless", yet "A Marxism with many of the concepts of determination it now


with the conceptual and merhoddogical E r m k of hdutrbl capitalism, class, and c u l ~ all f ~ ~ ~<br />

of which are central to my reading of Mayhew Is the city then just a set piece, a dramatic backcld~<br />

fa the real events that are now taking place today in Infocmation Capitais such as London or Paris<br />

Or should the study of the city, and in particular Victaian London, be more systematically joined to<br />

studies of other large-scale social processes City spaces are constructed realities within which<br />

human relationships are also constructed aod at one and the same time, they are "relational spaces",<br />

as Harvey has argued. Space, he beiieves, must be regarded "in the fashion of Leibnitz, as being<br />

contained in objects in the sense that an object can exist only insofar as it contains and represents<br />

itself within relationships to aha objects." "<br />

The dramatic changes that took place in Mayhew's Loadon were themselves aspects of a larger<br />

tapestry stretching back to "post-sixtamth-centwy transf-tions<br />

wke towns were a compound<br />

of political, economic and symbolic power," according to Katprelson. And one of the xxmt<br />

important post-feudal cities was the political capital of London, home of the royal court. Katznelson<br />

argues, socie$y was charactaized by "a new division of property aad sovereignty, and by a<br />

concentration of both in explosively growing urban centres. h bd, it is this very feature that<br />

allows us to define the modam city in terms of the spatial implosion of (machant and industrial)<br />

capital and political pow." " Here was the beginning of ~ RH panm in space. relating to places<br />

has is quite radically disabled (Thompson, 241-2; Williams, 83). Williams proposed to make "cultural<br />

history material" in order to capture "tbe fbll possibilities of the coacept of culture as a constitutive social<br />

process, creating specific and different "ways of life", which d d have been remarkably deepened by the<br />

emphasis on a material social process*'. He did so by incapaating language and consciousness "into the<br />

material social process itself." (Williams, 61). Culture, especially hegemony, Williams understood as a<br />

selective tradition of dominant meanings and values. which was materially produced, mediating being and<br />

consciousness.<br />

36 The project of a axial theory fa capitalist societies, perhaps. is tackled best by insisting on "the<br />

analytical distinctness of structure and agency" as Katzelson has argued (Kafznelson. 87).<br />

37 Harvey, 16, 13.<br />

3"ollowing Katznelm's reading of Jan & Vries's European Urbanimion. 1500-1800, broadly spealring<br />

this period can be divided into three: "In the first 150 years, fran 1500 to 1650, most llfban growth took<br />

place in smaller cities, and the overall number of towns did not inaease beyoad those of high feudalism. In<br />

the next 100 years, two monumental changes occuned. The growth of cities shifted in locatioa and scale,


of wak and places of resicleoce. Manchester belanged to a s e d group of large modern cities,<br />

which even more dramaticdly altaed the traditional aganization of urban space. Katndson argues<br />

that industrial centas such as Manchester were built in the --century<br />

on the sites of old<br />

villages; they were, in fact, built on places of wak accocding to the logic of capitalist<br />

accu~nulatioa~~ Here was "a culture of pastiche'* with its fragmented tempos of city life combiaed<br />

with an appeal to different classes amidst a vay diverse and growing population. Within the built-<br />

form of the city, new tranqmtation techadogies such as the railway and roads dramatically shaped<br />

new panaps of everyday life to and fiom wmk. There was also the "cam-on<br />

and demarcation<br />

definition of cross-class public space" " such as new railway stations Pnd marLaplaces as building<br />

blocks of the urban, industrial, capitalist social structure with its conflicts of class and culture.<br />

Historically, 'the literacy problem' in the ~~ also hinged on conflicts of class<br />

and culture,4' and it was, in fact, also intimately linked with 'We primitivdcivilited debate". Since<br />

the 1960~~ there has been tremendous interest in the history of literacy and "the aaVliterate debate"<br />

within it, with its conflicting problems of definitions, methods, classifications, and thecxies. Harvey<br />

Graff s wak (1970, 198 1) has been pivotal in its focus on hegemony within the practice of critical<br />

literacy. Also important are: R.RW&b*s (1950, 1955) wak on the changing factms of geography<br />

and migration; regionaylocal studies by Shepard (1962); Altick (1963), and V i ( 1982.1989)<br />

away from the Mediterranean to northern Europe, and away from smaller towas, which tended to stagnate,<br />

to a smatler number of large parts and political capitals. This pattern of uneven growth altered dramatically<br />

after 1750. Thereafter, at least until the middle of the nineteenth century, growth in the very large cities was<br />

brought to a halt, and a vigorous urban development took piace once again in smaller cities and towns"<br />

(Katznelson, 29); See Katznelsoa. 12.<br />

39 Ibid., 13.<br />

40 Ibid., 15.<br />

Aarsleff, Hans. The Study of hnguage in England, 1780-1860. Rinam, NJ.: Princeto. University<br />

Press, 1967; From Lock to Saussure: Essays on she Study of Lrurguage and lnrellectual History,<br />

Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Ress, 1982; The Language-Makers, Loadon: Dudrworth, 1980; The<br />

Language Machine, Laadon: Duchvacth, 1987; Harris Roy and Talbot J. Taylor, Landmods in Linguistic<br />

Thought: The Western Tradition From Socrates to Saussure, Loodoa; New Yak Routledge, 1989: Tile<br />

by Ray Mmk, Bristol, U.K: Tboez~lllles Ress,<br />

Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics, Re-<br />

1996; Smith, Olivia, Thc Politics of language. 1791-1819, Oxford; New York Clarendoa Ress, 1984.


have ali been important in showing how literacy is acquired and what its consapems are. The<br />

framewak I use in the approach to the histay of literacy reaches beyad the binary logic of aality<br />

and literacy, articulating instead the growth of V iean reading publics. I hqe to pvide insights<br />

into some of the ways in which "primitive*' labouring peoples and "'civilized" middle-class<br />

Victorians selectad and appropiaced metropolitan mab of written, d, and visual f m of<br />

representation Experientially, the act of reading meant different things to peoples with and without<br />

written histay. Vast numbers of people such as Laadon's street-folk fm example, lived out their<br />

lives without writing within the social constructs of mimtic-perf'dve cultures, whaeas,<br />

literacy, for people with wrinen history in the<br />

city, became a traasceadent<br />

marker of the mansfdon of national identity. It had an ideological objective, in aha wads.<br />

Arnold Hauser (1985) examined tbe growth of a new reading public in England while Naben Elias<br />

(1978.1982) " was mre cmumed with the civilizing procas itself Increasingly, the prominent<br />

well-to-do middle-classes in England broke "th cultufal prerogatives of the aristocracy" by<br />

becoming the ''producers of indispensable goods," not only in the main industrializing sectas, but<br />

also, in the equally impmtant cultural sectas of books. publishing, and education" The growth of<br />

the novel created an introspective, Victorian middle-class world, a private domesticating form of<br />

subjectivity and culture. Other fonns u gemes such as Lonhn Lobour were undestood only as<br />

pcm cousins, a subgenre that came and went with literary fashion, when compared to the novel with<br />

its focus on mural philosophy and nation building, which w e central to their development.<br />

Nevertheless, the novel m ated other genres such as Mayhew's encyclopedia creating "a certain<br />

42 Elias, Nabat, 77w Civilizing Process: Tlrc History of Munners. New Yak: Urizem Bodrs, 1978. Elias's<br />

"establishment/ou&ider theory" argued that it was the structure of emotions and their behavioural cbanges<br />

rather than the struaure of rational thought and technology, wbich underpinned all human expression<br />

(Elias, 1978, 116; 1982,254).<br />

43<br />

Hauser, Arndd, l%e Social History of Art. Rococo, Classicism. Romanticism. New Yak: Vintage Books,<br />

2nd Edition, 1985, 3: 43, 14.


sentantic opeoness. a Living com~ with untinirhPrl reality." Thus M a w s encyclopdia -<br />

situated within narrative structures. languages. aad texts " - revealed a histay of evayday Life<br />

rhat was aiso embedded in a Life history mahodology. * Tk life histay mahod is an imponant<br />

contribution to theories of everyday life, and the problm of cultural communities and identity, axl<br />

in Mayhew's case signified a critical m o m in Linguistic history, which Michela accading to<br />

Paul Thompson, described as an increasing class barrier to the practice of ad history in the<br />

nineteenth century.<br />

The "primitivdcivilized debate" in Chapter 6 examins the significance of Mayhew's<br />

investigation into wandaitlg tribes and Victaian civililation Erom within critical anthropology,<br />

beginning with Rousseau. The idea of ''tk mtive*' " has has a paem and highly innuemial<br />

concept in westem civilization In fact, it is axiomatic that as "the savage*' became the object in<br />

civilization, civilized humanity becam tk subjgt " Tk constitution of "the savage" a "the<br />

primitive" as an object of arnhropological discussion and the changing coacept of "culture*' have<br />

gone together, significantly influenad, of course, by w aphic documents and nineteenth-<br />

century travel literature such as the documents that Mayhew uses. Travel literature as well as the<br />

" La Capra, Dominick, "Bakhtin, Marxism and the Camivalesqw " In Refhiding Intellectual History.<br />

Texrs, Conreas, hguage. Ithaca and Lmdon: Carnell University Ress, 1983,291-324, 317.<br />

" Using Bakhtin's approach to history, La Capra highlighted border areas where reality was already<br />

situated in a shaped by textual processes that historians prefened not to examine. This, of course, raised<br />

questions of how histaians wrote histay in terms of its style as well as amtent that encanpassed these<br />

kinds of linguistic amplexities (La Capra, 1983,954).<br />

46 This methodology was crucial in the development of Jan Vansina's wock the BBC Sound Archives, and<br />

Paul Thompsm's TIte Edwardiuns. It was also crucial in the development of American anthropology in the<br />

1920s. For example, Paul Radin's Crashing Thundcr (1926) was the first unedited documentation of what<br />

an aboriginal way of life in North America was really Like, fian the inside out.<br />

*' Diamond, Stanley, In Search of the Primitive. A Cririque of Civilirarion. Faewad by Eric Wolf. New<br />

Jersey Transadion Books, 1974. Diamond argued that 'the primitive, then, refers to widely distributed<br />

well organized instituticms that had already existed just prim to the rise of ancient civilizatioa" (Diamond,<br />

127).<br />

Fabian* Johannes, Time and the Other. How Anzhrogology Makes rhe Objecr. New Yak: Cdumbia<br />

University Press, 1978.


study of nirreteenth-century languages have all hinged m "the primitidcivilized question". This<br />

question or debate has been expressed comparatively as the wlgar aad refined, the corrupt and<br />

pure, and the barbaric and civilizeb which can also be implicitly Undastood as problems of class<br />

and culture. 49 The "prirmtivefcivilized debateg* can also be urultrstmd as a battle berween realism<br />

with and without mimesis. It was an age-old battle that went right to the heart of romantic ideology<br />

and the romantic aesthetic of the image. This battle has infamed all our current umkstanriing of<br />

the superiority of representation of writing ova depictive-expressive. symbdic qxxxh genres, and<br />

other spoken genres that emaged with a variety of romantic thought in the nineteenrh-century.<br />

In the second half of ttLe ~ ~-century. fa a number of reasons, metropiitan London<br />

moved in new cultural directions as literate urban writers and artists such as Mayhew now came<br />

face-to-face with other cultures, languages, and institutions. Important implications are the fact that<br />

middle-class society - this literate, urbanized individualized hegemonic culture - increasingly<br />

undermid perfonaative. face-teface societies such as London's street-folk An exploited, sizable<br />

casual labour face with its own socimltural resources and forms of entertainment made up such<br />

peripheral and oppositional cultures as these. Mayhew's folk cultures with their local customs and<br />

languages contested the absolute domination of the Victorian middle-class. But these folk cultures<br />

remained, because of practical necessity, self-absabed with their own personal survival, fa<br />

the key<br />

cultural shift towards modernity was the co~cial<br />

character of London itself. The capital of<br />

London became - as did Paris - an important center of cosmopolitanism. As the Victorians<br />

moved into modanity, what was the soci*historical and cultural background, impact, and fate of<br />

Mayhew's London Labour, perhaps the most disturbing journalistic document to emerge out of<br />

England in 186 1 -62<br />

49 Smith, 1984.


(2) Mayhew's London: The Prototypical, Modem Capitatist City<br />

"Reading" a nhwmth-<br />

capitalist city such as Victorian Indon miant that the reader<br />

was implicated in a crisis of perception and represeatation of vast social, political, and cultural<br />

changes. Queen Victoria's London (1 837- 1901) was probably the rmst prototypical city fcx<br />

understanding the growth and development of all rmdernized expading marker-based, capitalist<br />

economies.<br />

Eric Hobsbawxn's dictum to histmans to explain tk past as well as provide a link<br />

with the present allows us to see in Mayhew's London Lzbour that the triumph of capitalism within<br />

bourgeois libal society in<br />

histay is something new, and not tk old uncien<br />

regime. Historically, tondon's economic impatance depended u p three closely related factors.<br />

London's port facilities were at the heart of England's ''import and trans-ship-<br />

trade;" London<br />

was England's single largest consuner market, by far; and as a royal court and govmment center,<br />

it was the trend-serter in conspicuous consumpti-<br />

and the luxury trades". Maeover, before the<br />

lnclusnial Revolution, "primitive transpatation faties" " coupled with handcraft production<br />

encouraged the growth of conmmer and finishing coasumer trades as well as "semi-processing and<br />

capital goods industries like lea- and sugar manufacture, shipbuilding. and silk productioa" "<br />

Eric Wolf pointed out that the "introduction of Kay's rrrmually -red Pying shuttle" in 1773 had<br />

doubled the weaver's output. In 1770 James Harpeaves introduced the "spinning jenny" wbicb enabled a<br />

spinner to spin several threads simultaneously. In 1769 ArMght patented tbe water frame, which drew<br />

the loosely twisted fibers on rollers and wound them on upright spindles in me continuous operation. In<br />

1779, Crompton introduced his "mule," axnbining features of botb water b e and jenny, to which stem<br />

power was applied in 1790. . . . In all of these machines, the applicatim of Watt's steam engine (1 764)<br />

provided the transition from manual to machine opxations" (Wolf, 273). Tbe key idea in modenrization<br />

theory is that underdeveloped societies rernain trapped in traditional institutions and fams of behaviow<br />

&om which they must break away if they are to approiacb the econarnic prosperity of the west.<br />

Ibid. The long term effeas of the Industrial Revolution upon Loodon ilself was to accentuate its "preindustrial<br />

characteristics" as a mter of small-scale production (bid.). In fact. after 1850 the London trades<br />

tended to produce "relatively high value and low bulk" goods. These goods involved specialized<br />

warehousing, a finishing center using "'many ancillary trades", requiring a great deal of labour coupled with<br />

very little "inputs of pcmd' and "relatively little space or fixed capital", wbich could be sold directly to the<br />

customer (Ibid.. 27). On the idea of flexible specialization as an alternative model m indusuialization, see<br />

Sabel and Zeitlin, 'Historical Alternatives to hdass Roduaim: Mtia Markets and Tefbnology in<br />

Nineteenth-Cen tury Industrialization," PUS and Presen~, 1983, 108, 133-176.


Closeness to the market, access to raw materials, the close intarelation of city and govmment plus<br />

a highiy skilled labour force gave London its solid indushial advantage. But it was also mrxe than<br />

this, historically. This was also an age of violent contrasts and mind-bogghg changes. During<br />

Queen Victoria's reign, " the first massive flights from the camtry to the provincial towns. the<br />

breakneck speed of urbanization, and several of the first momerrtous waves of immigrants were<br />

virtually completed during her reign, The rise of reading publics and the proliferatim of urban<br />

spaces can, in hindsight, now be seen in global tams. So can the rise of suburbia, the expanding<br />

supply of initially cheap aad ubotganized labour, and the eve-<br />

separation of home from wak It<br />

was an age of deep-seated rootlessness, denwxalizatioa misery, and suffixing. During the critical<br />

decades of the 1830s and early 1840s. it was 'the condition-of-England question', the social<br />

condition after the Industrial Revolution that obsessed writers like Carlyle, Dickens, Gaskell, and<br />

Engels.<br />

Engels's The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 was, in itself, a first-hand<br />

account of provincial life in Manchestex, in the mid-1840s. Engels combined mataial from<br />

newspapers, Blue books, aad other conteznpaary c0mnxmf.s with his own eyewitness accounts of<br />

working-class life. " Taken together. Mayhew's London Labour and Engels's Condition of the<br />

Working-Class are two of the first confissions " that revealed what the first full-blown crisis of<br />

53 Even the street-folk knew about Queen Victmia's reign. A boy told Mayhew 'Yictaia was Queen of<br />

Great Britain and Ireland. She was ban May 24, 18 19, and succeeded his late Majesty, King William IV,<br />

July 20, 1837. She was married to his Royal Highness Prince Albert, &c., grc" (Mayhew, I: 473).<br />

54 According to Hendersoa and Chaloaer, Engels Vrew very heavily on a relatively small number of ~XIOICS<br />

and pamphlets by Dr. J.Kay, Peter Gaskell, Dr. Andrew Ure, J.C.Symms, Sir Archibald Alison and James<br />

~WI. Two or three chapters are largely besed m evidence printed in the well-known Factmes Inquiry<br />

Commission of 1833-4 and the Children's Employment Ccunmission of 1841-3. The newspapers upon<br />

which Engels chiefly relied were the M~llchcner Guardian, the Nonhem Star and the Weekfy Dispatch<br />

(Engeis, rite Condition of the Working Cks<br />

in Englnnd in 1844. Written with pretaoe in 1892. Loadon:<br />

Ailen and Unwin, 1952 [Isel], xviii). Engels wrote from Barmen, Marcb 15, 1845: "I have met many<br />

workers and I have had long talks with them. Through personal coatact with the Englisb workers I have<br />

learned something of theif hopes and fears their joys and sarows. My own observatims have bem<br />

supplemented by studying authentic sources of information" (Engels, 5.3).<br />

" Hauser, 3: 177. Cmfessims are important in Nathrop Fr)t*s analysis of the Menippean satire.


industrialism Imkd like in the cities of Victman Eagland Like Engels, Mayhew was coacaned<br />

with the relationship baweea capitalism's social structure, tk devdopmea of its idustry, " a d<br />

urbanized spatial structure. Like EngeIs, Mayhew had a superb eye fm ethnography and analysis. ''<br />

They both had impressive novelistic skills of urban spatial design in all its fine-grained detail. ''<br />

They both guided readers through the "shapes on the ground", the mast densely populated slums<br />

and aeighbwhooQ with tkir unknown side streets. " problems of sanitation, sod ranshackle<br />

housing. Poverty was almmt ta~gible: audienas read about the economic linkages betwen the<br />

buildmg mdumy a d the aeation of mly-built envirommnm But it was only Engels who took his<br />

readers step-by-step through one crucial cham called 'The Great Towns' discussing in &tail the<br />

waking-class resifial mghbourhoods of Mmhesta. Steven Marcus argued that "what Engels<br />

has perceived [about Manchesta] and created in a general structure: [is a] fam "a coherent totality.<br />

a concrete, complex, and systematic whde, each of whose parts have a meaning, and more than one<br />

meaning, in relation to all the others." By cOmpariSOa Mayhnu appeared to take his readas<br />

through London's spaces more haphazardly. But his in-bepth investigations of Lordon's urban<br />

spaces were equally structured (as we shall see in Chapter 4). although his structure was a three-<br />

56<br />

Engels recocded statistics fa the cottoa and woollea industry, canals, roads, and slums (Engels, 15, 17,<br />

33-34). He also mentioaed Leeds, Dublin, Glasam ("the populafioo in 1840 was estimated at 282000, of<br />

which about 78 per cent klong to the wrking classes, 50,000 being Irish") and Nottingham ("1 1,000<br />

houses of which 7,000 and 8,000 are back--back houses, which have no through ventilaticm") (bid., 45,<br />

44). Regarding Maadester, Engels coocluded: "I may sum up the impressims of my visits to these districts<br />

by stating that 350,000 workers in Manchester and the surrounding districts nearly all live in inferia,<br />

damp, dirty cottages ... In a word, the worker's dwellings of ManChester are dirty, miserable and wholly<br />

lacking in comfarts'' (Ibid, 75).<br />

58<br />

The principle of panoramic representation provided, in fact. a sense of the panaamic cmstructioa of<br />

history, and a radical change in the scale in which reader's experienced everyday urban life.<br />

'' Engels explored "the most disgusting spot of all" which was "situated to the southwest of Oxfad Road<br />

and is called Little Ireland" (Engels, 71).<br />

60 The Great Towns Chapter*. 30-87.<br />

' Marcus, 263.


tiered economic analysis of casual labour as well as a three-tiered philasophical/m!mphoric system<br />

of heaven, hell, and the Victorian nebmmld Marcus argues that Engels's Condition ofthe<br />

Working Class (one of Engels's key analytical paragraphs desaves to be m eatid here in Ml) is<br />

the paradigm for capturing in its entirety the main OU~~IS<br />

of spatial development nd only for these<br />

early westan industrial cities, but also fm the tweatieth-ce~ltury:<br />

Owing to the curims lay-out of the town it is quite possible f a someone living f a years in<br />

Mancluster to travel daily to and fiom his wak without ever seeing a waking-class quarter<br />

u coming into caatact with an artisan. He w h visits Manchester simply on business u fa<br />

pleasure mmd beva see the slums, mainly because the wcrking-class districts and the<br />

middle-class districts are quite distinct . . . h tho6e areas wb%e the two social groups<br />

happen to come into contact with each akr the middle class s~moniously igmre the<br />

existence of their less fortunate 13eighbours. In the centre of MaDchester there is a fairly<br />

large c0mmtrcia.I district, which is about a half-mile long and a mile broad The district is<br />

almost entirely given over to offices abd warehouses. Nearly the whole of this district has<br />

no permaoent residences and is deserted at night, wkn only policemen patrol its dark,<br />

narrow throughfares with their bull's eye lanterns. The district is intersected by certain<br />

main streets which carry an enarmous vdume of traffic. The lower floors of the buildings<br />

are occupied by shops of dazzling spleadour. A few of the upper stories of these premises<br />

are used as dwellings and the streets present a relatively busy appearance until late in the<br />

evening. Around this commercial quarter there is a belt of built up areas on the average one<br />

and a half miles in width, which is occupied entirely by waking class dwellings. The area<br />

of wakers' houses includes all Mamhester propa, except the centre, all Salfad aml<br />

Hulme, an important part of Pemdlaon and Chorlton, twethirds of Ardwick and certain<br />

small areas of C khm Hil and Broughtcm. Beyond this belt of working-class houses a


dwellings lie the districts inhabited by the middle-classes and the upper-classes. The forma<br />

are to be found in regularly laid out streets mar the working-class districts - in Chalton<br />

and the rermta parts of Cheetham Hill. The villas of the upper classes are surrounded by<br />

gardens and he in the height and remoter parts of Chorlton and Ardwick a on the breezy<br />

heights of Cheezham Hill, Broughton and Peadleton. The upper classes enjoy healthy<br />

country art and live in luxurious and comfatable dwellings which are linked to the ceatre<br />

of Manchester by omnibuses which run every Eiftaen a thirty minutes ... These plutocrats<br />

can travel from their houses to tkir places of bushss in the centre of the town by the<br />

shortest routes, which run entirely through working-class districts without eva realising<br />

how close they are to the misery and filth which lie on both sides of the road This is<br />

because the main streets from b Exchange in all directions out of the town are occupied<br />

almost uninterruptedly on both sides of the shops, which are kept by members of the lower<br />

middle classes.<br />

In spite of Engels impressive scope, Katznelsoa argues that Manchester was "more varied as a<br />

social and spatial place than the book's portrait allows . . unrelieved misery was overstated even in<br />

Maochester, the country's mast class-divided sating." " Katznelson also challenges some of<br />

Engels's other assumptions. He believes that The Condition of the Working Class was too quick to<br />

assume, like Thompson's Making ofthe English Working Class, that there was a natural amf<br />

inevitable passage fiom the destitution and segregation of the waking-class to its focmation as a<br />

class with revolutionary pential. What is so impatant fa urban historians, geograpbs, a d<br />

writers to understand about Mayhew's London Labour, in this regard is that London tabour also a<br />

creates a paradigm. It is not a paradigm for industrial cities like Engels's Manchestex, but rather a<br />

6' Ibid.. 54-5.<br />

63<br />

Katznelsm. 144. Katznelson also argued that Engels's bodr was "sanething of a cartcxm" (Ibid., 144).<br />

But it was only Engels, Marcus argued, who came to describe the extremely desperate living areas of<br />

Manchester's industrial -king-class where "[o]n reaching them me meets with a degree of din and<br />

revolting filth, the like of which is not to be found elsewhere" (Marcus, 263).


paradigm fa c a m the main outliaes of spatial devdqm fm -.<br />

market-<br />

based capitalist cities - of which Loodoa was the largest What Mayhew was able to accomplish.<br />

among otha things, was to examine the maaced hegemmic relationships bawgll class formations<br />

and bourgeoning urban spaces in England's capital. Taken together. Maytuw's and Eagels's<br />

coaceprs of city space could prove to be, in the future, a very fde<br />

area of inquiry into the<br />

relatioaship between city spaces, capitalkt develop-.<br />

and class subjdvity. For in spite of the<br />

radical differences in the way their books were writtea, Ma*<br />

and Engets described the two key<br />

cities of Englad during the same decade of the Industrial Revdution<br />

Mayhew, the well-known satirist of Punch magazine and mwspaper columnist who. in mid-<br />

car-,<br />

became LonQn's metrcplitan curespoadent for the Morning Chronicle newspaper was<br />

obsessed with the urban question and the problems of casual labour within it. Ma*<br />

was also the<br />

most detamiaed anthropologist of Loadoa's developing urban mass culture, obsessed with roles,<br />

conflicts, and developments of English cultural litaacies. Thus Mayhew was unique in certain<br />

respects. "Among social anthropdogists Mayhew is unique," W.H.Au-<br />

the British pet,<br />

observed "In his combination of Fabian Socim passion f a statistics, a Ripley passion f a believe-<br />

it*-not<br />

facts as sheer oddities, and a passion f a the idiosyncracies of character and speech, such<br />

as the only very great novelists have exhibited." " He captured the gaiety, the jokes, and above all<br />

else, the voices of Loadon's strm life. It was a cultural stew brimming over with accents and<br />

nationalities - Irish, Jewish, Arab, Indian, Italian, Polish - cornbid with unfmgettable faces of<br />

people like Jack Black, the rat-killer." Mayhew's use of ad history in gathering urban rites of<br />

passage of the stseer-folk, as they moved unevenly fiom rural to urban, nomadic to settled, ma1 to<br />

written societies and cultures, is one of his most outstanding and lasting contributions to Victorian<br />

history and culture. Not only did Mayhew explae the face of the city, its architecture, languages,<br />

" Audem, Wystan Hugh, "A Very Inquisitive Party", The New Yorkr, February 24. (1968): 121-133, 122.<br />

" Mayhew, III: 11-20: See Appendix.


and nomadic street life, but also thrmgh his investigations, Maytrew examined the -Id<br />

of casual<br />

labour through the self-same cultural lens. It "is asuwishing. reading Mayhew, to learn how many<br />

of the poor were self-employed and the extraacbary diversity of the ways by which they managed<br />

to earn a Living. howeva meager." ' coacluckd AU&L Like Dickens. Maykw saught out<br />

forgotten peoples, unknown buildings. and hidden relationships beoveen capital and urban<br />

development in Victman culture. In doing so, he revealed that the common everyday objects and<br />

living facts of such an expanding, market-based capitalist society can teach us a great deal about<br />

urban history and culh~e. " la the end o m of Mayhew's gratest strengths may have been his<br />

openness to the varieties, similarities, and cmtradictions of human experiences. Fa perf-tive,<br />

community-based lives fascinated Ma*<br />

as they did Dickens. After Mayhew's abrupt resignation<br />

from the Chronicle in 185 1 over editorial -,<br />

Mayhew began to publish wepenny<br />

weeklies, unofficially ad &om his office, of LoaQa's street cultwe, which were later collected<br />

together by his publishers in London Labour and the hdon Poor (1861-62). London Labour<br />

which, followiug E.P.Thompson, contained "the theest and most vivid documentation of the<br />

economic and social problems, the customs, habits, grievances, and individual Life experiences of<br />

the labouring peclple of tk wdd's greatest city of the mid-."<br />

" But this was one<br />

of its dangers - it contained so much information that many scholars "can no mae imagine<br />

reading straight through it from beginning to end than . . . can imagine reading the Eacyclopedia<br />

Britannica." 69 This four-volume document 'O.<br />

which has often been quaed by scholars and<br />

67 Walter Benjamin takes up Engel's position that; "... [nust as Geidion teaches us that we can read the<br />

basic features of today's architecture out of the buildings of the 1850's, so we can read today's life, today's<br />

forms out of the life and the apparently mdary, fagotten forms of that era*' (Buck-Morse, Susan, The<br />

Diolec~ics of Seeing. Walter Benjamin Md the ~rcadcs Project. The MIT Ress: Cambidgr Mass.. 1982,<br />

291).<br />

68 Thompson, 42; see also Paul Thanpsoa. (ed.) l7u Victorian Poor, LcmQn, 1967.<br />

69 Auden, 44, 121.


journalists such as Thompson, is still one of the least uadastood texts and least read in its entirety<br />

of the canon of Victorian history and Litaature to rmge<br />

after Waid War I1 wkn a renewed<br />

resurgence of interest in Mayhew began in the twdeth-century.<br />

(3) The Post- War Period: Six Decades of Sdholadaip<br />

Scholarship relating to Mayfiew's life and work can be roughly divided into six decades<br />

beginning in the 1940s and ending in the 1990s. In the 1940s, there was a small literary resurgence<br />

of interest in Mayfiew's wak. It began with Dorothy Ciecxge's (1945) introduction to Stanley<br />

Rubenstein's The Street Trader's Lot: Being an accowrt ofthe lives, miseries, joys and chequered<br />

activities of the London sellers as recorded by their contemporary Henry Mayhew, together with<br />

R. J.Cruikshanlt's (1949) essay on Dicb and Mayhew. Charles Dickms and Early ~ n~lond " For<br />

Dorothy George, the "supreme merit of M a w s book is that it r6cocds the authenic voice and<br />

catches the view points of tkse vay diverse Londom." " Scholarly imerest in M a w grew by<br />

the late forties, yet it appeared that the talent and imagination that inspired attention to Dicken's<br />

social criticism remained unacknowledged in M a w until 1949-51. Peter Quennell edited three<br />

volumes from the 1862 edition of tondon Labour as well as three other books on Lortdun 's<br />

Underworld (1 950). Mayhew's Characters (1 95 I), and Mayhew's London ( 195 3). Mayhew's<br />

70<br />

Williams, Karel, "Mayhew." In From pouperim to poverty. Routledge & Kegan Paul: h don, 198 1,<br />

237-277. Karel Williams argued that 'The Criminal Risons book could h the missing fifth volume of<br />

London Labour" ('bib, 238).<br />

" Cruikshank, RJ. Charles Dickenr and Early Vi~t0n'~ England, Pitman. 1949.233: Hodcham. A.. "The<br />

Literary Career of Henry Mayhew." MA. Birmingham University* 1%2. Occasionally. Mayhew was even<br />

interpreted as a potential inspiration fa Charles Dickens's work: see also HS.Nelson, "Dickens' Mutual<br />

Friend and Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor", Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 1%5,20,<br />

207-222. Dorothy George stated that "Only volumes i-iv are called LDndon Lobour and the London Poor.<br />

Volume v is The Crimiml Prisons of bndon and Scenes of Prison Life, which "completes the series of<br />

papers on the lower phases of Loodon life.. .." See footnote 3, xi.<br />

Rubenstein. Stanley (ed), lk Sfreef Trader's Lot. London 1851, king an account of the lives. miseries,<br />

joys and chequered activities of the London Sfreef-Sellers. As fecolbed by their amtemporary H. May and<br />

now recalled for the edification of the public by Stanley Rubenstein, with an inrroducticm by Dorothy<br />

George, 1945, ix-xxiii.


h h n describes Lmdds ''extracrdinary diversity of trades by which the urban poor subsi~ted."~<br />

London 's Undenvorld explaes the mimid depths underlying the wald of harat casual labour,<br />

and Mayhew's Charocrers is a dlection of Mayhew's persoaal portraits: the flower-girl, a blind<br />

Mace-seller, a venda of ballads, a asspod-sewerman. Fa QUeam9.I. M aw's London Labour<br />

provided "a M e d pamama of London in tk 'Eifties- of that part of bndoa at least, which<br />

underlay the pompous urbanity of its fashionable str8etS a d squares." 74 Quennell's descriptive<br />

literary apprmch was primarily infamed by the criteria of a realist genre although he did meruion<br />

that Maykw dealt with the poa especially these whe<br />

livehmd was the mo6t precariclus.<br />

By 1955, the sociologist Ruth Glass, whose wcrk was later extended in the 1970s by Germ&<br />

Himmelfarb, the American historian, noted the sweep of Mayhew's wak while s imrl~sly<br />

castigating his writings:<br />

Despite his apt use of various methods of investigation and presentatiou, he<br />

did not produce a social survey but social reportage of a high a& of<br />

sympathy and versatility. There is no theme; by aDd large thae is description<br />

without selection and analysis . . . And although his volumes describe a large<br />

variety of occupations and types, their scope is rather narrow: they deal only<br />

with one nomadic heterogeneous section of the London working-class - those<br />

who traded, mrxally and immorally, in the street and those who workad in<br />

the streets. 75<br />

During the mid-1960s a group of British scholars and writers - John Bradley (1963. 1965).<br />

" Quennell, Peter. Mayhew's Characters: Sekcted/rom 'London Labour and the London Poor', Edited<br />

with a Note on the English Character, Landon: William Kimber, 1951, ix-xvi, p. xiv-xv.<br />

" QuennelL Percr (ed). Mayhew's London. Lmckm: Bracken B- 1984[1951], 27-28. Quennell stated:<br />

"Our text is derived 6an the Wee-volume editim of 1861; the amtents of a fatnb volme. published in<br />

1862, on prostitutes, thieves, swindlers and beggars. have been ami#ed in entirety" (bid., 28).


E.P.Thompson (1 967). H.J.Dyos ( 1967). John Rasenberg (1%8), W.H.Au&n (1968). and Asa<br />

Briggs (1968)- tackled Maytrew's impact on Victorian literamre. Then at the end of the 1960s.<br />

Cass and Dover published the 1862 edition of London Iabour and the London Poor. In the years<br />

1963 and 1965. Bradley's articles ad Briggs's review grappled with literary tkuy and the<br />

Literary reception of Maw. Although Audea and Bradley argued over Mayhew's precise<br />

importame in Victaian history, few schdars disputed the fact that Mayhew had a talent far writing<br />

superb. increELibly readable stories about the human condition. Aub was the most ebullient: " ... if<br />

I had to write down the of the ten gr-t Vicurian EngWumm, Herrry Mayhew would<br />

head the List."<br />

Auden's accolades aside. it is Bradley's focus on Mayhew's litffiuy carex in the<br />

1830s '' that has been fmtive to this dissstvion - that as a "mim Victorian figure" 79 he can<br />

lead scholars in "invariably significant Victorian by-ways." 'O Tension Ween<br />

lit-<br />

and<br />

anthropological i&as remained in Bradley's small essay, however, far as a classical Literary scholar<br />

he never really understood the mimetic-perfocmative cultures of Victman Jkmcbn. He describes<br />

how they "irdulged their vaacious appetites f a farce, burletta, metodrama, pantomime, spectacle,<br />

and extravaganza" " in the "long bill - o h exteading from 7pm until after midnight" with<br />

"roaring and ranting, expansive gesture, bombastic declamation." " He aeva comes to tams with<br />

sociocultural fixmations of 'We real comic Victorian spirit [which] lay in the farce and the<br />

- -- -<br />

76<br />

Briggs believed that Mayhew's reception in his own time - and later - deserved a full study.<br />

Ibid.. 121.<br />

'' Bradley. John. "Henry Mayhew Farce Writer of the 1830's". 7h Victorian Newsletter. 23. Spring, 1963.<br />

21-23. Bradley has written an introduction to Selections to London Lobour and the London Poor.<br />

79<br />

Mayhew. Henry- Selectionsfiom London Labour and rhe London Poor, chosen with an introduction by<br />

John Bradley, Loadoa: Oxfad University Ress. 1965, vii.<br />

Bradley argued that Mayhew was 'he supreme recader of mid-omtury urban squala" who seemed<br />

'from fust to Last, to have remained charming, amusing, consistently enterrajning, intermittently<br />

enthusiastic" (Ibid. xviii).<br />

Bradley, 1%5, 3.21.<br />

Bradley, footnote 3.2 1.


urlem." " which I argue are more adequately framed through Bakhh and Hobsbawm<br />

"The Political Education of Herlry Mayhew", 'Ilxmpon's 1967 essay, was tk first Marxist<br />

history to place Mayhew's texts within a larger political and histmcal context to ractify what<br />

Thompson perceived as the imbalance in scholarly writings about Mayhew's wak Thompson<br />

argues that Mayhew as a sociologist, by "'great face of comast",<br />

tackled the "'ovewklmhg<br />

problem of London poverty" as "'one of absolute insufficiency of wages." His thmy of exploitation<br />

was simple: "ove~rc~k maLes umbpay" and "underpay makes oveawak" Thoqson believes<br />

that Mayhew was "authentic", "meticulous", and 'kigaous" in his investigations of ''tk character<br />

of orthocbx political efoaomy as it was seen fma the mdmi&" " Maykw's obsession with<br />

urban London ad "tk problems of casual labour in ihe metropolis" " was a significant shift,<br />

according to Thompson, from the previous decabe's preoccupation with the factory question.<br />

Moreover, Thompson argues that although Mayhew was c axmd with "reconciliation ratha than<br />

revolution, nevertheless he demanded a reconciliation so searching that it was profoundly<br />

disturbing." " He was seized "imaginativeiy by the problems he was investigating" as much as he<br />

himself seized the problems, and was dtimately censored as well as "Wuged with carespondence"<br />

corraning "the! problems of urban demaalizatim"<br />

83 Ibid., 21.<br />

3 4<br />

E.P. Thompson, 58.<br />

86 Ibid.. 57. Thanpsm argued tha~ Mayhew's concept of poverty was not *he culture of povertf' but rather<br />

an 1849-50s "middle-class consciousness of poverty" (Thompson, 43).<br />

87<br />

hid.. 47.<br />

" Ibid Thompsm also ammented that ". . . these amstitute a moving record of the politid educatim of a<br />

man whose quaiities place him. with Wilriam Cobbett, in a class apirrt, and who shares with him certain<br />

qualities of responsiveness, independence of judgement, and an unerring ear fa significant anecdote."<br />

(Ibid., 56).<br />

89 hid. Imponantly, Thompsa, oaly touched peripherally m spatial issues that are crucial to chis<br />

dissertation: by axnmenting UI Mayhew's editorial in the Morning Chronicle, Oaober 9, 1849 that "[tlhe


H.J.Dyos (1967). tk British urban histman, tackled ' m t it miam to be alivep* in the slums of<br />

Victorian Loadon His essay ex-<br />

fa tk first time, the archival material on Ianch's slum<br />

life, the experieaces, the attitudes, the reasons fa its existerrce, and its survival. Although Dym<br />

laments that " the sheer bodily sensations," " the emotional &mads," "the mental reactions" and<br />

"the gaieties of living in rhe gutters of urban sociay."<br />

had almost disappeared one would almost<br />

think that he had not really read Mayhew at all. Dym's (1967) essay does not focus exclusively on<br />

Mayhew's experiences in the slums, but<br />

he found time to discount Mayhew's contribution<br />

beyond its I d colour and intarest in humanity by using two uamviacing and closely related<br />

armments. First,he argues that Mayhew was basically an "unda-disciplW journalist with a<br />

"spontaaeous desire to make tbe poa known to the rich" and mt a social analyst like Charles<br />

Booth. Mayhew provided little m e than a paarxamic view of poverty and itiaerant employment<br />

seen fiom the streets, Dyos argues. Stxoodly, he argues in my view inaccurately that Mayhew's<br />

investigations were not in-depth did not, in fact, ''take the reader very far off the streets into tfre<br />

choking wildaness of the slums themselves." Despite Dyos's unfava~able and inaccurate<br />

critique, his urban interests are a critical orientation that continues in this study. Using Booth's<br />

maps, for example, Dym was deeply interested in the g-al<br />

ecomrnic and social impact of city<br />

planning and railway expansion on London's spatial development<br />

A breakthrough year came in 1971. It restablistred Mayhew's London Labour together with<br />

the Morning Chronicle letters as important sociocultural documents fa sustained historical<br />

analysis. Two British colleagues, E.P.Thompson and Eileen ~ e o edited , ~ Mayhew's Morning<br />

--<br />

pestilence [Cholera] bas ravaged nor our parks, squares, and terraas, but the narrow courts and pent-up<br />

alleys of the metropolis" (bid., 42).<br />

Dyos, 1967.5; Buoth's fife and W u r of the People of london (1889-1903) used a variety of methods<br />

including participant observatim relying an reports fkm schools rather than on direct interviews.<br />

9' Dyos, 13.<br />

Thompaoa, E.P. and Eileen Yea 27te Uakmwn Mayhew, Merlin Press. 1971.


Chronicle articles. Thompson and Yeo argued that they had cliscovered Mayhew's earlier wak in<br />

his Morning Chronicle articles, the 'Answas to Ca~~espoadenrs' cdumns, aad Low Wages.<br />

Compared to H. J. Dm's wak, Thompson amtimed to reiterate that Ma-<br />

was completely<br />

absorbed in the problems of urban cbnmaiization as he walked through Lordon's back alleys.<br />

talked to people in their homes, and atteaded trade me&ngs. Thompson believed that Mayhew's<br />

work was a serious discourse on poverty when taka together in its betails; in fact, Thompson and<br />

Yeo both argued that it was "the the impressive survey of labcur a d of povtxty at the mid-<br />

century which exists." 93 Eil- Yeo also t d a slightly different tack Ha =say. "Malyhea, as a<br />

Social Investigator," * argued that Maykw's wock as an "gommic a d sociological analysis"<br />

entitled it to an imponnnt place in the history of social invstigatioa"<br />

Moreova. she situated<br />

Mayhew within the anthlqmlogical tradition, arguing that his ethnographic descriptions deserved<br />

the respect of today's social scientists. She believed, quite rightly, that Mayhew had "a sure sense<br />

that the opinions of the poor, their aspirations and expectations, their evaluation of tkir lot and life<br />

in general were as impanant to the iquiry as facts about wages." " Yeo assated that "Mayhew<br />

came to use the crucial idea that economic change was refkacted through a cultural lens." ''<br />

9 3<br />

Thompson, 1971.23.<br />

9J Yeo. Eileen, "Maybew as a Social Investigatcx." In 77ze Unknown Mayhew, 1971.51-95.<br />

96 Ibid., 57.<br />

9' Ibid, 84. Yeo asserted that Mayhew grouped toward me mcept of a subculture which he could not, in<br />

the end, successfully formulate*' (Ibid., 54). Yeo also argued that Mayhew tried "for the first time in the<br />

history of English social investigatim to define a poverty line" ('bid). bokhg briefly at the<br />

costermongers as a subculture, Yeo articulated how "tbe aaditiaos and memories of groups of wakers"<br />

were highlighted by Mayhew to show that Weir dignity and independence were being undermined as their<br />

relationship witb employers deteriorated into me of crude cash-nexus" (bid). Regarding the<br />

costexmongers, Yen stated: "It was in the case of the costermmgers that Maybew made most clear bow a<br />

sub-culture coloufed political a#itubes. The custers had the most irregular work and wage of all. But me<br />

fact was certain - they bated the police. The police harried them at wcxk pushing them off the streets<br />

when they tried to sell their wares; the police mtiaually interfieti with their fawluTjte amusements,<br />

gambling games and Pials of strength. In the coster cobe, "to serve out (beat up) a policeman is the bravest<br />

act by which a custermmger can distinguish himself." Mayhew observed that the casters were "nearly ail<br />

Chartists". But far fiam demanding their rights in the cOcpOrate m y of the natiaa like the artisans,<br />

Chartism meant to them first and faemost fighting the police, since they equated tbe police with "the


Compared to Row~ufee and Booth Mayhew had a much more developed socidogical awaremzss.<br />

she argued waking "coasl;lrmy to develop a claent fiamewak f a the survey." " Early in the<br />

Chronicle's survey, accocding to Yeo, before his mature analysis of casual labour and its causes,<br />

Mayhew was already examining th impact, boch moral and social, of a causal rhythm of work Fa<br />

instance, in his study of unskilled labour at London's docks, Ma-<br />

developed a conceptual<br />

framework of how irregular wak hours combiaed with unstable wages led to unstable habits, how<br />

Mayhew's coaceptual kamwak, in fact. Nraed "tk favwite Victorian shibboleth that bad<br />

morals cause poverty upside down"w<br />

Anne Hu-'s<br />

1977 book lrn was the fim large-scale American attempt to understand<br />

Mayhew's place in Victorian literature. Using a psychobiographical and farmal literary approach,<br />

Humpherys attempted "to bring together all known facts about Ma*<br />

while simultaneausly<br />

explaining the 'enlargeraents, hiatuses and abrupt abaadonmems that characrerize his wak" lo' For<br />

Humpherys, Mayhew made the recognizable deeply romantic, and the familiar strange, realizing<br />

r* 102<br />

that "in his long descriptions of various str8et smes, his style was at its best.<br />

But she has<br />

serious problems with his sense of journalism, his use of language, and his impact m Victorian<br />

history. Like Dyos, Humpherys feels that Mayhew's influence on the world of investigative<br />

reporting was minimal. She feels that his "inadequate" intaviews "subjugated tk interviewer to his<br />

governing power" (Ibid., 85). Yeo also briefly touched on '%he repercussions of economic change on a<br />

healthy W y life aad a seane old age" with such groups as the two old sawyers. Yeo recounted how the<br />

two saws<br />

reminisced that it was "a rule in our trade that the eldest son was en titled to his hther' s<br />

business. Now I don't see a sawyer in Loodon who has an apprentice" (Ibid., 84-85).<br />

99 Yeo, 69. For Yeo, Mayhew was "a relentless classifier" (Ibid.. 86).<br />

Humpherys, 1977.<br />

101<br />

Humphays, xi.<br />

Im Ibib, 139. Regarding the relationship becaam the author and his audience, Humpherys was mcxe<br />

concerned with moral issues sunamding coclarey language, "the obscenity inevitable in any fithful<br />

report", rather than witb issues surrounding literacy and the reading publics (bid., 152).


subjects by trying to eliminate the obsava's respmes and melt his questions into the answers."<br />

and that his techniques were "outstripped in tkir uefbkss almost at once." Qualitatively, she<br />

argues that "impovements in kid, scope and reliability of the dicennial census aim made this<br />

procedure obsolae." I"<br />

Her most scathing analysis fcruses on tk fact that "the m e precise and<br />

detailed Mayhew's picture was, the less sirmificant each example became. Furthermore. the overall<br />

picture of slum conditions and the causes of poverty was lost," lW<br />

that be took no part in "serious<br />

intellectual life" Io5 that his wak is truly "sui generis, " lM and that be "didn't really advance<br />

beyond the state of Lnowlalge at a particular timn" lo'<br />

Humpherys cmfludes that M aw's<br />

surveys were essentially fagotten after the 1860s because they were published in "an ephemeral<br />

newspaper famat, had even ye not been geuxally available in colllple form" lo'<br />

"By the time the<br />

four volumes ... finally appeared in 1861 -62," Humpherys coaclu~ "the revolutions were out of<br />

date and irrelevant to contemporary concerns. Fa this reason the four volume publications had<br />

practically no influence tither on the SOCidogy ar tk literature of tk late Victorian period" l"<br />

Stedman Jones's rebuttal of Hurnpherys was basically curect: "Where the book fails is in the<br />

thinness of its portrayal of the political and intellectual conjuncture within which Mayhew was<br />

writing . . . . No one reading through the Morning Chronicle survey could plausibly accuse<br />

Mayhew of laziness, or lack of systematic intellectual ambition. Something mure than peculiarities<br />

'03 Ibid. 164.<br />

Im Ibid.. 190.<br />

'OS bid, 11.<br />

106<br />

Ibid.. 144.<br />

'07 hid., 163.<br />

'OR Ibid, 164.<br />

'09 bid, 165-66.


of his teaperameat must account fa it." 'lo Tk American histaim. Gatrude Himmelfub, has a<br />

slightly different but similar coac1usion a ht Maw: "While many of his projects were left<br />

unfinished, "indolence*' hardly seems the right wmd for someone who produced as much as be did<br />

and sometimes at breathtaking speed If much of his wcxk was incomplete and ephemeral, that was<br />

the nature of his trade; he was primarily a journalist, not as we have come to think of him, a<br />

sociologist a histaian" " '<br />

In 1973, Himmelfarb established b nhn Labour as an iqa%mt document of Victorian urban<br />

histay. )Iar essay on Mayhew's "cuiture of pmertf was a law d m of andher essay that first<br />

appeared in 1971. 'I2<br />

Maykw's "subtitles r aw than the title*" Himmelfarb believed most<br />

accurately described London Labour's pian and the "bulk of its conterrts." Importantly fa<br />

Himmelfarb, Mayfiew's very first pamphlet, "Of wandaing tribes in general," which charactaized<br />

the streetfolk as a whole, was also the title of the opening chapter of the first volume of London<br />

Labour. In the final analysis, fa Himmelfarb, Mayhew's wcrk continued to be "an enquiry on tk<br />

subject of London Lubour md the London Pwr." 'I3 She is enthusiastic about Mayhew; he was<br />

"one of the m st remarkable chroniclers of the time," a "one-man Royal Commission," 'I4<br />

and an<br />

'I0 Stedman-Jones, Gareth. The Labours of Henry Mayhew. Metropolitan Correspmdent of the Morning<br />

Chronicle*', London Journal, 1984, 10, 1. 80-85. S tedman Jmes brought an importaat cultural and literary<br />

analysis to Mayhew's &don Luhur. He discussed three important issues: (1) changing academic<br />

attitudes and issues in anthropology and history, (2) changing coastituencies or "rather the rapid<br />

disappearance of a coostituency fa wharn Mayhew could have been writing", and (3) changing fams of<br />

inner and outer mloaization. S tedman Jones wrote: "Changes in the way anthropology and history have<br />

been understood in terms of Victorian culture now make Mayhew a much more central wimess to the<br />

shows and exhibitims of -don and the impact of racial attitudes ... Certainly the fears of the industrial<br />

revolu tioa .. . was driven into the exotic and be imaginary museums" (Ibid, 80). This impatan t cultural<br />

and historical approach concerning "'exotic and imaginary museums" of the mind is impatant to my<br />

dissertation.<br />

" ' Himmebb, Gertrude, nMayhew's Pm: A Roblem of Identity", Victorian Srdics. 1971, 14,307-329:<br />

"The Culture of Poverty." In Tire Victorian City, edited by HJ. Dp, 1973, 707-36; Tlre Idea of Poveny.<br />

England in the Early Indus1rial Age, Loadon: F ak & Faber, 1984.<br />

Himmelfarb, 1971, 313.<br />

"3 Himmelfarb, 1973, 718


ambitious saies<br />

but in tk d he was IXX she a r m that "original". HB views on Mayhew's<br />

reading public - that tbey "may have canied into later pamphlets and vdumes the impressions aod<br />

expenations &rived fmro earlier articles" 'I6<br />

- was clarified by Taithe's mdy (1996) revealing<br />

that Mayhew's readership was a new, rather than an dd reading public. Himmelfarb brings a<br />

powdid analysis to MaytLew's sueetscapes, battles over space and time as well as racial schemas.<br />

But her analysis is overshadowed by unconviaciag argum that he exploited the pour fa his own<br />

ends, that the book's mmkrical samples were insignificant (excluding the Morning Chronicle<br />

articles), and that Landon Labour was a middleclass ideological cmstnrctim that led to greater<br />

margidization of the poor. Mast impatamly, Himmelfaarb's intapretation of "tk culture of<br />

poverty" is problematic. London Labour, she argues, '%ad tk conceptual effect of pauperizing the<br />

poor by first creating the most distinctive, most dramatic image of the lowest class, and then<br />

imposing that image upon the lower classes as a wble." She argues that Mayhew's identification of<br />

the street-folk with the waking-class promoted an ideological paception of the poor. "Mayhew's<br />

'nomadic races' equated with problems, customs, life experiences of the 'labouring pocx' ," she<br />

argues, "the work itself reflects something in the ti-, so- in the substance, which permits<br />

the confusion of street-folk with the labouring poor ... [and] is not uacommon [with]<br />

contempaarier." l7 Sk coaclucks that he sucfeeded in ppulariziog "a ~lew idea and image of<br />

poverty, a poverty that was not so much an ecommic pkmmenon as a cultural om-a<br />

'culture of<br />

poverty*. as we have since learned to call it." Funhermrxe, she argues that tk culture of poverty<br />

was "a small and distinctive 'tribe' which was a pamanent feature of society, a testament to that<br />

part of society that resisted civilization" "To Mayhew, one suspects, chey wee a r&uk to the<br />

'I5 Ibid., 314.<br />

'I6 Ibid., 717.<br />

"' Bid.. 312.


ourgeois spirit, a saving r m t of dissent, an adversary culture wmhy of respect." "'<br />

Ultimately, for Himmelfarb they were more of "a species in the Darwinian serrse" 'I9<br />

than extended<br />

kin-based communities. She projects certain nktemth-<br />

bourgmishthrogological<br />

assumptions of distrust and sensationalism onto London's '"primitive" street-folk In the same vein.<br />

Himmelfarb denies the range of expectations and obligations to share responsibilities fa<br />

the<br />

subsistence. ma-<br />

social continuity, and cultural creation of thme kinds of mobile<br />

communities. Following E l m Burke Leacock's critique, a major assumption was made by many<br />

'culture of poverty' scholars in 1971 such as Himmelfarb. They believed that "a virtually<br />

autonomous subculture exists among the jmm, which is self-perpetuating and self-defeating. This<br />

subculture, it is argued, invdves a sense of resignation a fatalism and an inability to put off the<br />

satisfaction of immediate desires in ader to plan for the future." l"<br />

Moreover, tkse charactaistics<br />

were also linked with educational motives fostering illiteracy, fa example. Oscar L.ewis's view of<br />

the culture of poverty is worth quoting here:<br />

The culture of poverty is not only an adaptation to a set of objective<br />

conditions of the larger socieq. Once it comes into existence it tends to<br />

perpetuate itself from generation to generation because of its effect on the<br />

children. By the time slum children are age six or seven they have usually<br />

absorbed the basic values and attitudes of their subculture and are not<br />

psycholo@cally geared to take full advantage of changing conditions and<br />

incrd opportunities which may occur in their lifetime.<br />

Leacock has pointed out that ''through 'the culture of poverty' and similar notions, the<br />

'I8 bid., 366.<br />

--<br />

'I9 Ibid., 712.<br />

Iz0 7Xe CCuure of Poverry. A Critique. Edited by Eleana Burke Lero& New Yak Simm and Scbusta.<br />

1971, 11.


nineteenth-cenntry argument that the poor are poa through tbeif own lack of ability and initiative,<br />

has reentered che sce~e in a new form" Tlx! Chronicle's survey arrd London &ur did cover a<br />

major cross-section of Lodon's labouring and artisanal trades. acc


** 125<br />

otherwise lack-lustre tarts.<br />

Richard Maxwell for his part challenged scholars who emphasized '%he picturesque elements of<br />

Mayhew's work" and "thus ckqxived it of its theoretical face."I"<br />

Drawing on a sociogdc<br />

approach to adme and society. Maxwell's essay has deeply influenced my view on the power of<br />

Mayhew's urban vision - for Mayhew's decision "to devote so much atteation to the people of the<br />

streas came at a crisis-poist" I"<br />

in his jmmdistic cares. Maxwell sketched out his intapetation<br />

of M aw's theay of everyday life, which, he believed, embodied W ' s<br />

street-folk whose<br />

physiological axxi psychological characteristics wue material, cumemal, mnadc. and "absdutely<br />

[set] apart from aha city dwellers."<br />

Maxwell believed that Maykw wrote about Loadon's<br />

"undiscovered population" in a "state of 6~0~)mic crisis" '" to establish tkir imaginative and<br />

historical place in Victaian Lordm Secoadly, he created "a distinctive vision of city life" that<br />

.. "dreams of freedom, reconcllrn g an environment that 'assassinates you with reality' and an<br />

indivi&al seasibility that wants aiem~as and mobility."<br />

He advocated strong cultural<br />

continuities &wem Maybew's earha minx wak and "the huge monumem of L,ondon Labour".<br />

Maxwell concluded by calling for "a fresh urderstanding of how Maw's obsession with the<br />

streas allows him to move towards a disthmive vision of city We." 13'<br />

1971 to 1981 marked ten years of intease scholarly research on Mayhew with Karel Williams's<br />

'" Ibid., 52.<br />

Maxwell, 104.<br />

Ibid, 87.<br />

12' Ibid., 99.<br />

Ibid., 91.<br />

130 Ibid., 102.<br />

13' Ibid., 89-90.


essay in 198 1 .IJ2 Fa Williams. epistaaology foctlsS8d on tk nature of language within tk history<br />

of knowledge, and to this ed, he argued f a a Saussurian approach to language. Unfatunately,<br />

Mayhew exists fix Williams only as a text &8ct,<br />

aot as a c01lctete historical writer living in a<br />

particular time and place. From a publishing paspective, Williams also argues that Mayhew's<br />

Great WorM of London or The Criminal Pnsons of London (Ma*<br />

and Binny, 1862) was the<br />

most crucial document that histaims coatinually ignored. He based his a r m m the fact that<br />

the reprinted Great World of bndon was described by Mayhew's publishers in their catalogue as<br />

the "companion volume to the preceding," and was baud with the 1 86 1-2 four-volume edition of<br />

London tabour. ACC


contained new recycled mataial that focused mainly on the strm fdk so that now three volumes<br />

were now required The 1861 three-vd~~ edition by Griffin & Co, omitted material on<br />

prostitution and the 1861-62 faur-volume edition by Grim Bob included the aiginal material on<br />

prostitution as well as various essays on thieves, swindlers, and beggars.<br />

To conclude, there were two series of questions regarding Mayhew's Morning Chronicle and<br />

London Lubour that Williams fmulated- The 6rst set of questions concans the relation between<br />

these texts, and the second set of questions mncmu their conterrt. How did the various serial and<br />

book publications relate Were they part of aae pow. a were there breaks What was the<br />

relationship between the Morning Chronicle's investigative prom surrowrdiag manufacturing<br />

trades and the second London Labour investigative prom surraubg the street fdk Regarding<br />

content, were the Morning Chronicle letters a poverty survey as Thompson and Ym argued Or<br />

were they a theory of exploitation as Samuel argued in 1973 Was the concern with street folk in<br />

London Labour as trivial as some histmans make out Because Williams implicitly approached<br />

Lortdon Labour fkom a mvelistic point of view, he concludes u~lco~vincingly: "If Mayhew's texts<br />

are on the edge of modaaity, it is ... because it is the non-unitary and ul~controlled quality of the<br />

discourse in London Lobour which defines the modanity of Maykw's texts." i35 This appearance<br />

of "supposed carelessness" that results especially from the first impression revealed more about<br />

William's tendency to judge by "a novel-centred conception of fiction"<br />

rather than the real<br />

structure of the w ak<br />

Most currently. in 1996, Bemard Taithe<br />

has engaged in a Literary/historicaVphilological<br />

reinterpretation of Mayhew's publications. His reintapretation has contributed to literary theories<br />

'3 hid.. 239.<br />

-. ---<br />

135<br />

hid., 238.<br />

Relihan, 1993, 310.<br />

''' Taithe, Bernard, 7Re Essential Mayhew. Representing and Communicating the Poor, Lmdao: R im<br />

Oram Press, 1996.


of reception, histaical memory, and iinguistic histay. Taithe examkd the philological and<br />

ethnological &bate sunoundjng London Labour, using a cultural approach infamed by Norbert<br />

Elias and Roger Chartier. He was also inspired by Olivia Smith's The Politics of Language (1984).<br />

which emphasized the cotlllections between grammar, etymdogy and politics, an approach that also<br />

informs this dissertation. Fm Taithe, Mayhew's seose of "[wlads haunted his wak and their<br />

history gave clues to the hidden history of tk crowd" 13'<br />

Furthermrxe, Taithe's sense of Mayhew's<br />

contribution to historical memory desemes to be quoted here:<br />

To write the creator of such wideranging histmy of "Oursetves", was to<br />

venture into history in the making. Unlike mast jamalhtic faays,<br />

Mayhew's project was historical, a fact of which he was conscious. His<br />

perspective was also, perhaps, unwittingly, refaming most ideas of history.<br />

It negated the dogma of progress . . . Mayhew was writing a text that<br />

presented itself as an ideological slice of reality, as the transcription of the<br />

real fixed in a-tempma1 immediacy. What was then goal histaical practice:<br />

distance from the subject, work on archives, the choice of a political<br />

chronology, was aot part of Mayhew's project, He wrote histq without<br />

chronology, history that did not strecch further than human memory, history<br />

that virtually ipxed politics and favoured economics ... 13'<br />

At the literary level, Taithe argues that diffaem historical readings of Ma*<br />

were based<br />

upon different appeals to different texts - diffaent projects ovalap; some stop in mid-sentence;<br />

even London tabour, which llepdcd be studied more contextually, eaded in uncertainty. Taitk<br />

argues: "London Labour was perceived in various ways at every stage of its existence. It was read<br />

according to how it was presentat as part of an expensive aewspapa; as a cheap penny periodical<br />

13' Taithe, Bernard, 47.<br />

139<br />

bid., 28.


sold alongside 'penny dreadfuls', and as an expensive four-vdumc book" '" To this end, Taitk<br />

studies M aw's readers ad<br />

their literacy practices. The public ~~~~espondences between<br />

Mayhew and his readers, Taithe noted, were printed on and within the covers of the weekly issues<br />

of bndon Labour and the London Poor beween 185 1-52. Accocding to Taithe, this reflexive<br />

"sociQlhnographic'* form of writing was "an open cultural artefact." I*'<br />

It comprised mainly urban<br />

waking-class aad lowa-middle-class men and women with wornem writers, quite canectly, "in a<br />

minority, along class lines." '" Although Taithe aewr discusses the Menippean satire. he tacks<br />

on one central aspect of the satire, the Victorian adventure hero seeking mxal truth. Taithe argued<br />

that Mayhew's inductive mal pMosophy of education, described in his long pamphlet, 'What to<br />

Teach and How to Teach it (1842)". justified '%is pedagogic novels of tk 1850s and was behind<br />

his whole ouput."<br />

He argues that Mayhew's philosophy combW with the new photographic<br />

style of the Illuszrated London News aeated tk tkmerical backbo~ to London Labour.<br />

Furthermcxe, the Answers to Correspondents columns " fid London Labour as a paradoxical<br />

opea/closed text. It provides the long missing subtext that clarifies the underlying tkuies of<br />

London Labour. opening them up for public debate. MayW's early articles reveal poverty to the<br />

middle class, and the later penny articles of London Labour link isolated groups together. They<br />

point out parallels among the livin8/waking conditions of different groups as a f m of class<br />

140 Ibid., 5.<br />

I4 1<br />

Ibid., 6.<br />

'" Ibid., 30.<br />

143<br />

Maybew wrote:<br />

. . . the mode of education, a means of imparting a knowiedge of these subjects,<br />

should canmit in hinging before the pupil all the most extra


consciousmss."<br />

Fa Taithe, Maykw "wrote histmy without chronology, history that did na<br />

stretch furtha than hwnan memay, history that virtually ignaed politics and favoured txonomics.<br />

In this 'imitation* of daily Life, so much like daily life s~~<br />

the reader had tfie unique<br />

opportunity of emeriag by way of it lk 1-<br />

[as a Literary genre] framed this imemnioa" la<br />

Mayhew's Lorrdon &ur<br />

(1 86 1-62] has often beem quoted by scholars, poets, and journalists<br />

Like Thompson, Kimmelfarb, iuxi Audert Ad it may be a five-vdum corpus after all as Karel<br />

Witliams has argued Yet it still remains a challenge to scholars today, fa bndon Lubour still<br />

maintains a fascinatim and indesm~ctible longevity ova the last 150 years, which Lies, in part, with<br />

its challenge to literary and intellectual orthoboxy. This dissertation's imadisciplinary approach is<br />

important in order to kame the problems associated with Maytrew's urban docuIllen, fa few<br />

canonical Qcumerrts require, I believe, such sustained rs-evaluation as Hemy Mayhew's Lunhn<br />

Labour and the London Poor. 146<br />

144<br />

Ibid., 7.<br />

14' Ibid., 28.<br />

146<br />

Taithe argues: Tew texts have such an indistinct image and require such urgent re-evaluatim" (Taitbe,<br />

4).


Chapter 2<br />

Reconstructing the Constructed: Space, Culture,<br />

and Exploitation in Henry Mayhew's London hzbou~,<br />

Seeking the World of Henry Mayhew.<br />

Victorian Loadon was to Henry Mayhew - the journalist, noveiist, and playwright<br />

- a paradigmatic place: something that was both dusive and clear. Victaians needed to<br />

construct a picture of tk city, ard in an age wkm film did mt yet exist the oaly new<br />

genre open to this kind of urban representation was the newspapa. Big-city newspapers<br />

wanted to give their audiences - both the wotking-class and the middle-class - a fed<br />

as well as a picture of the big city. Newspapers wanted to give the anxiety-ridden middle-<br />

classes a sense of community as well as a sense of advenh~e, even though they lived<br />

mostly within the boundaries of the city. This was the nkenth-cemuy framewak of a<br />

burgeoning print-aiented wald, the beginning of tk modaa aewspapa with its own<br />

vecnacular idioms in architecture, languages, and the face of the city. In order to create a<br />

sense of authenticity, adventure, and living breathing facts, it was important to<br />

reconstruct the constructed, and to point out both the contradictions in a city filled with<br />

suffering masses. @ the effects of the movement toward moderaitation' This was<br />

Mayhew's London. Here was a meuqchs that was basically a city of commercial and<br />

resichtial sectas - streets. squares, neighh~bods, courtyards, and houses filled with<br />

an inexhaustible supply of people. * The sense of coastant movement. of shoulder-te<br />

shoulder cultures, of aowQd marketplaces, crowded sueas, and crowded rooms was<br />

completely reinfaced in Mayfiew's London Labour, as well as the sense of capitalist<br />

exploitation at the docks and in the 'sweat shops'. Victorian Loadon was, for Mayhew,<br />

' Paraphrasing conversations with Dr-Jerry Zaslove. As Mayhew recomuucced the constructed for<br />

Victorian London, Seigfried Kracauer also did this for Berlin in the 1920s.<br />

Mayhew, II: 328.


the therxaicd structure and the paradigm And Mayhew used this paradigm to develop<br />

his own sense of seWreflection and self-CO1LSCjaus~s as a journalistic adventurer, urban<br />

explorer-jkmeur, mde, gr.mmariPP and thsaist of tk city to reveal to his readers<br />

what tfie interstices, bcxda-crossings, and spaces of tk city were all about. Conscious of<br />

waking within and often against larger hegemOIljc systems of representation. Maytrew<br />

was also a grammarian workmg within the English Romantic tradition who attempted to<br />

propagate the ideas of comparative phildogy by examining historical languages and<br />

societies from below. Thus Mayhew became a tbxist of culture, of cityspaces, and<br />

capitalist exploitation, and because he is, in this<br />

a thaxist, k must be takm<br />

seriously, and wt cast aside as just aaotha impressionistic literary hack who wrote an<br />

amazing cdlection of now withzed and irrelevant newspaper articles.<br />

Of course, it was partly Mayhew's fault, accocding to Ralph Samuel, that his wak<br />

has not been taken as seriously as it deserves. His articles on Low Wages ceased<br />

publication after vay few publications. His "Answers to Cmespondeats", in which he<br />

developed a systematic attack on sweating, was never gathered togetha. His Morning<br />

Chronicle articles, aad the twepenay parts, were thrown together in a "quick and sloppy<br />

way," and most of his material on wage earners was omitted altogetha firom London<br />

Lobour so that Landon's strsa-folk eventually dominated his mnnrmemal book '<br />

Commenting on Mayhew's attitude to life, Athol Mayhew writes that he was "by turns<br />

sanguine and despondent - low in all the ecstasy of a perspective fomm, and now<br />

down in the dumps of impajhg bankruptcy." ' But beyoad this personal glimpse into<br />

his life, his place in Victorian history was pr e-emiaently based on these vay aewspaper<br />

articles that were collected together in London Labour and the London Poor. Amidst a<br />

professional car88 that brought Punch magazine to life as well,the background to<br />

Mayhew's life is worth examining f a the light it sheds on Henry Mayhew, the man.<br />

Civility appears to be intimately bound up with a particular way of seeing life, called the gwe;<br />

See Judith Walkowitz, Ciry of Drecrdf 1 Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Lnte-Victorian<br />

England, Chicago: University of Chicago Ress. See also Walter Benjamin's The Flaneur" in<br />

Baudelaire, Charles, A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, translated by Harry Zobn,<br />

London: NLB, 1973,37.54.<br />

5<br />

Samuel, 48; quoted firom The Unknown Mayhew, App. 1,477.


Henry Maytrew (1 8 12-87) entered the wdd of upper-middle-class Victman society<br />

on Novaxhx 25, 1 8 1 2 at 16 FitPoy Square, Londoa, the fourth son of Joshua Mayhew,<br />

a rich Carey Strea sdicitcr who fatked seventam childrm7 Maykw's fukr believed<br />

in ''the carcareer open to eaterpise and talent, and that their own lives proved their merit . . .<br />

but more than anything else. it meant superiaity," ' Joshua staunchly believed in the<br />

family tradition that his sons should be sdicitas like himself but mxmva, he firmly<br />

believed in 'jurisprudence'. Suthaland Edwards recalled Mayhew senior "having<br />

business sometimes to transact at a neighbouring pdice court, he had the distanee<br />

measured fiom the court to the square in which he lived Raclroning from some [one]<br />

particular point it was just one mile. But the cabman who drove him to tk court tharght<br />

it was m e than a mile; upan which Mr. Mayhew paid for two miles, summoned the<br />

cabman [to court], and obtained judgement fa eightpence with costs. . . . At last the<br />

cabmen in the nei-<br />

Then he took the offender's mmba, pr-<br />

got to how him, and seeing him approach, drove away.<br />

against him fa refusing the fare a d<br />

recovered as before." Years later it was no accideat tka that Hemy and his braha.<br />

Augustus, specifically satirized their father's eccentric behaviour in "A Highly<br />

Respectable Man", a poem especially written by them in 1848 f a the Comic Almanack<br />

Little is known about Mayhew's mother, Mary Ann Fenn. who married Joshua in 1806<br />

and died in obscurity in 1845.<br />

Mayhew attended Westminster S chl, but but Mayhew was fift8en years old after<br />

an argument with the headmaster. Dr. ~oo~mugh,'~ he ran away from school l' with his<br />

7<br />

Humpherys, 1.<br />

10<br />

Althol Mayhew reported that - instead of following the prayer book during a Saturday evening<br />

abbey service, Mayhew crammed fa a Monday maning Greek grammar exam and surnrulPn in<br />

clawing his way fram the bman to the middle of the Greek challenge candidates. But he was<br />

challenged fa his impropriety by me of the Masters and cunmanded to write out 500 lines of<br />

Virgil at the same time. Goalenough intervened with a further %hour delay, but m the following<br />

Tuesday aftertrooo, Mayhew now headed the Latin challenge witbout the impitim completed,<br />

he challenged the headmasm's autbmty to flog him, defied the orders and ran out of Wesaninster<br />

school along with his life-lag friend, Gilbert A'Beckett. (Athol Mayhew, 1895, 10-25; see The<br />

A 'Beckens of Punch, Coastable & Co., 1903.


clawst mend, Gilbat Abboct A'km ( I 8 1 1 - 1856). The glaring inadequacies and<br />

hypocrisies of &cation wlpre to haunt Mayhew for the rest of his life; k recalled at one<br />

point "that we were mt even taught cur own language, mr even writing or reckoaing, but<br />

bed to death with rban tongues." Furthenmxe, he recalled cynically: 'We were sent<br />

into the wald to get our living out of the elements by which we wae SUKOUXKW, in the<br />

same beastly igmraace as any Carib not only of the physical wald about us, but of our<br />

own natures and our fellow awes, as well as of all that was right, beautiful, hdexi<br />

noble in life." l2 In 1842, still grappling with pedantic phil-<br />

of education,<br />

M a w wrote a long educatid pclmphla. m t w Teach and How u, leach It (1842)<br />

as well as a philosophical article on surprise, "What is the Cause of Surprise And What<br />

Connection has it with the Lam of Suggestim' I3 Between 1854 and 1864, Mayhew<br />

also wrote sevaal popular biographies f a boys iac1udi.q<br />

Story of the Peasmt-Boy<br />

Philosopher (1 8%), The Wonders of Science; or, Young Hwnphry Davy (1 85s). Young<br />

Benjamin Franklin (1 86 1),and The Boyhood of Martin Luther (1 863). In writing f a a<br />

young audience, Mayhew used tk lives of Ferguson, Davy, Franklin, aod Luther as role<br />

models to teach the importance of virtuous conduct, unflagging &&mination,<br />

attainmeat of knowledge as the nreans to success.<br />

Following the Westminsttr fiasco, his father sent him away f a a year as a<br />

midshipman on the last East India C qmy boat bouad for Calcutta I'<br />

and<br />

Upon his return<br />

from India in 1829, attempting to follow in his faw's footsteps, he apprenticed as a<br />

lawyer in Wales, a profession to which he was exaemely unsuited'5 Neither Mayhew<br />

' ' A Dictionary of Contemporary Biography: hudhok of the peerage of rank wnh and intellect,<br />

G. Gfiffia and Co., 1860. mected prM quoted in Taithe, 19%. 3. According to Roberts, "two<br />

of the lawyers, Mr.AVBeckett and Mr. Mayhew, could afford to send their soas to Westminster<br />

School" ('Robens, 1972, 19). Accading to Roberts, "the educatim received . . . was mixed .. . F a<br />

A* Beckett and Mayhew it was Westminster, . . . fa Charles Dickens, Douglas Jenold, Henry<br />

Vizetelly, and Renm Nicbdscm it was attendance at schods named after their headmasters"<br />

Gbkrts. 16)-<br />

" Taithe, 3, footnote 3 and 4.<br />

All Joshua's sans except ALfred chose journalism instead of law, rebelling against their father's<br />

legal prof-icm (Athd Mayhew, 9).


himself nm most of his fiends went on to main for professional life so, on returning to<br />

Londoa Mayhew himself gave up the legal pofmsion to pursue the world of literature<br />

and the theatre. Droparts fiom the legal profession Mayfrew's and<br />

a c q u m eventually included "A'Beckett, Rede, Brooks, [in fact] all of tk Punch<br />

crowd" Accading to Thackeray. Maykw's friends w e also<br />

loved to go on "pulls on the river, delicious reading of mvels, mag-,<br />

and<br />

editas who<br />

saunterings in many studios; a land wfiere nren call each atha: by the Christian nams,<br />

where most are pocx. where ahmt all are young." Journalism offered Mayhew's crowd a<br />

retreat fiom conventional careers in law, the Church, aad tk military; but it also gave<br />

M a w the chance to work closely with his three younger br-, Hmace ( 1816-72),<br />

Augustus (1826-75), and JUI~US 17, on different creative projects, a d at different times.<br />

Two other brothers, Thomas (1 8 10-34) and Edward ( 18 1 3-68) along with Hem-y became<br />

journalists in the early 1830s. Edward became Fine Arts critic fa the Morning Post. Even<br />

with a mid-career change at thirty-five as a vererinary surg801l, he still retained his<br />

literary tastes publishing books on the ''Managenmt of the Dog", "The Illustrated Stable<br />

Management", ad "The Illustrated HorseDocta." '' Thomas, the ddest brotha, broke<br />

into radical journalism at the time of the Reform Bill crisis as the edita of Hemy<br />

Hetherington's Penny Papers. He was also the temporary edita of the Poor Man 's<br />

Guardian (July-December 1 83 I), tbe most important radical newspaper of the 1 830s.<br />

From 1832 to 1834, Thomas was invdved in the ''Penny National Library" but after the<br />

failure of his penny encyclopedia, k committed suicide in October 18%." Most of<br />

Mayhew's f'rierds - besides Charles Dickens and Douglas Jerrdd - came tiom<br />

comfocta ble middle-class homes: "Their fathers were bodrseilers, merchants, architects,<br />

musicians, journalists, naval officers, and lawyers, and in most cases quite successfir1 and<br />

l6 kherts, David, F., "Mae Early Victorian Editors." In Victorian Periodiculs Newsletter 16.<br />

June 1972, 17-28, 17,15.<br />

l7 Hodder, Memories of My 7he. 1872. Hodder reported that Julius was trained as an architect<br />

(Ibid.. 62).<br />

I* Ibid., 59. Edward bad "a paralytic affection which rendered it impotssible for him to walk,"<br />

according to Hodder (Ibid., 60).<br />

19<br />

Htlmpherys, 1-30; E.P. Thanpsm, 1967% 13-14.


prospaous." " Ad it was LoldoP tk catex of Eqhh theatre that also drew Maytrw<br />

and his fiierds Gilbert A'hkat, John SaunQrs. Thmcbe Hook, Mark Lamm,<br />

Douglas Jerrdd and George Godwin, with k g e Sala and Pierce Egan as scerre<br />

desigmm. 21 Bah tk editcxial -Id<br />

a d tk world of the theatre absolutely captivated<br />

Mayhew. When he was but twentya~ years old, M a w edited tk digest, The 7'hief;<br />

tog&& with A'Beckett, then just a year later, in January 1834, Mayhew's 6rst fare The<br />

Wmt&ring Minstrel, was probuC8d at tbe Fitz~~y Theatre.<br />

7%e Wanhring Minstrel<br />

was written fa the f m comectian, Reeves, while Mayhew's otk farce, Bur However<br />

(1838), was written fa the celebrated Beajamh Wrench Four art of five of Mayhew's<br />

plays including A Troublesome Lodger (1 832) wae written in the 1 830s as well as two<br />

bwlettas - The Barbers at Coun (1835) set in Charles Il's reign a d The Young Sculptor<br />

(1 839) ser in Michaelangelo's Italy. Mayhew's audiences came to enjoy themselves.<br />

They were mostly waking-class, according to Bradley, and used to the loag bill, which<br />

extended from seven in the evening to well after midnight. The long bill was often<br />

composed of a farce, burletta, three-act play and pantomime. Truth ad falsehood.<br />

sensibility a d foolishaess, dignity aad indignity were part of But Hawever's stay, and<br />

typical of certain geaeric threads reralling the genre of the Menippean satire.<br />

Thoughout his life, Mayhew was asdated with many influential newspapers and<br />

magazims such as Figaro in London, the Morning Chronicle newspaper, and Punch<br />

magazine. "'I'he early aiaereenth-ceatmy literary magazine and the journal of political<br />

satire prepared the way fa the Victorian comic journal," -ding<br />

to AIvin Sullivan.<br />

"When Punch appeared in 1841 ," Sullivan wrote, "its readers had already been exposed<br />

not only to the tactics of the political satirist in the Anti-Jocobin Review. John Bull ", the<br />

lo Roberts. 16.<br />

" Bradley, 22. It was at the minor theatres like the Fitzroy that Mayhew's farces, burlettas, and<br />

burlesques were staged becaw Dnvy Lane and Convent Garden had a moaopoly on theatre rights<br />

until 1843.<br />

'' Sullivan, Alvin, ed. British Lirerary Magazines: nK Victorian and Ehvardian Age, 1837-1 913.<br />

London: Greenwood Ress, 1984. According to Sullimn, John Bull (Deamber 17, 1820 - July 19,<br />

1892) was "established to suppat king and constitutiar and to attack Queen Cardine and the<br />

Whigs" (Ibid., 506).


Age ", a Figaro in hndon. but also to social and LitaYy satire a d mcsarirical humour<br />

ia Blackwod's, Fraser 's Magazine, the New Monthly, or Bentley 's Miscellany." Douglas<br />

Jmold wrae serials fa the New Monthly in the late 1830s, while William Malrepeace<br />

Thackaay (1 8 1 1- 1863) ma& similar contributions to Fruser's. They both created<br />

66h~maous papers as staff writers fa Pzmch in tk 1844k," afm&ng to Sullivan<br />

*'Thereafter, the humrrnulc Serial became an asdal feature of the successful comic<br />

journal. A unique synkFis of tk literary magazine ami the jamid of political satire,<br />

Punch bsame the praatype of ik Victman comic puraal." From its vay first<br />

pubtication, Punch 's prtxursa a6 - Figaro in London (183 1) - launched a wave of<br />

"Figam-mania" " with A'Beckat at tk editorial Wm 'The great succgs of tk Figaro<br />

published in Paris, and the extraam popliarity of th plan on which it is cmlucted,"<br />

A' Beckett CO-<br />

"have induced us to establish a similar periodical in London,<br />

which we humbly hope will be received with as much appbation as our sparkling,<br />

sharp-flavmed, and highly-relished paw'' " Mayherv's own editmal stance in<br />

1835 to 1836 can be linked directly with Figaro's growing @tical direction " acc


severely cens


journalists living ad working together in Paris a k tk War years. 32 During tk late<br />

1830s a d the early 1 Wk, accoccfing to E.P.Thompson, Ma* lived in Loodor! mainly<br />

in rwms near the British Museum in Hemming's Row trying ocld schemes for making<br />

money quickly. In fact. it was out of these bohemian years that Maytrew began to gain the<br />

literary r-tion<br />

that enhltcul into the twentiethamtmy. Spielman's analysis was<br />

correct: "There can be no doubt.," Spi- wrote, ''that Ma* was a genius, a<br />

fascinating companion, and a man of iaexhaustible resource axxi humour - although<br />

humour was but oae side of his brilliant raiad" 33 But Spi-<br />

Vily, Hodder, and<br />

other writers including Bradley mistakenly believed - as we shall see - that "InQlence<br />

was his beseahg sin; aad his will war, untutud"<br />

With Figaro behind him, and ebcouraged by his literary companions (some of whom<br />

were already waking on other titles such as Jerrold's Punch und Judy), Maybew hatched<br />

the idea of creating a sharply satirical mag-<br />

Charivari. 3"~ng<br />

called Punch, or the L mh<br />

to Ginswick it was duriag tk summer of 1 84 1, while walking<br />

across Hampstead Heath with George Hodda that Maykw conceived his idea. 36 Like<br />

" British bohemians were mostly journalists struggling in the limited market of the 1830s and<br />

1840s; see Ahdayhew, 1895, 1-10. Mayhew rescheduled Jarold's debt. The Parisian stage of<br />

Mayhew's life is debated; see Humpherys, 14, and footnote 18.<br />

33 Spielmann, M.H, Tire Hiszory of "Punch", by M.H Spielmann, Lmdcm. Paris, Melbourne,<br />

Cassell and Company, Limited, 1895.<br />

Vizettelly, Henry, Glances Back rhrough Sevenry Years. 2 vols. Loadon: Kegan, Paul and Co.,<br />

1895, foomote, 43.<br />

'' Thompsm, E.P., 17, fooarare 21. Cruikshank claimed that the idea of Punch was taken from<br />

George Cruikshank's Omnibus (May 1841-January 1842) (Sullivan, 505). Sullivan argued that<br />

73e Man in the Moon (January 1847 - June 1849) with writers such as Shirley Brodrs and<br />

Augustus Maybew was "the best written and most successful of Punch's literary rivals in the<br />

1840s" (Ibid, 507).<br />

36 Ginswick, J., Lnbour and rht Poor in England and Wales, 1849-1851. Vol. I, Lamashire,<br />

Cheshire, Yo&shire. Edited with an Lntroductioo by J-Ginswick, Frank Cass, 1983, xxii; HR Fox-<br />

Bourne, 117; M.H.Spielmann*s The Hisrory of "Punch ", 1895. rpt. New Yak, 1969, 17-34.<br />

Spieimann provided a detailed accumt of the magazine's first fifty years. h 1955, E. Williams<br />

edited an extensive cdlediaa of Rmch's cartootls in A Cenfury of "Punch" (London). This was<br />

followed by RG.G.Rice*s A History of "Punch" (Lmbon, 1957)- a commentary on the magazine<br />

and its dims from Mark Lemon to Ma1aA.m Muggeridge. Alan Rager in The Mahogany Tree:<br />

An infotmal Hisrory of "Punch " (New Yalr. 1979) gave another perspeaive of the magazine<br />

from its origins until the 1970s.


William Hogarth (1 697- 1 764) ", an<br />

theaetical prsdecesscr, May&<br />

deliberately used the eye of a caricaturist turning rmre and me<br />

to the pressing social<br />

issues of the day. He ckarnatically and sometimes vidently wasted virtue and vice<br />

among the labouring pocx with satire aad scathing political analysis. Mr. Punch, the<br />

mag-s<br />

logo, was depicted as a buffooa, dwarf, showman and high-min&d clown In<br />

Lorrdon Labour, Mayhew recaded a verbal history of Punch with Pwrch himself as a<br />

"short. dark pleasant-looking man, dressed in a very greasy and vay shiny green<br />

shooting-jack&"'<br />

The history or migination of Punch . . . is taken fiom Italy, and brought<br />

ova to Enghrl by Porsini, and exhr'bited in the streets of Ladm far<br />

the first time fiom sixty to seventy years ago; though he was mt the<br />

first man who exhibited, fa there was a female here befae him, but<br />

not to perf=<br />

at all in public - nam mkmwa but handed down to<br />

prosperity. She brought the figures and frame over with her, but neva<br />

showed 'em - keeping it an unLmwn<br />

and la&<br />

Pasini came from Italy,<br />

in England, and exhibited his perfmnances in the streets<br />

ofhadoa. aadrealizedan~sumofmoaey.<br />

Mayhew continued to reccxd that: ''tk @performance<br />

was quite different then to what<br />

it is now. It was all sentinrental tka and very touchy to the feelings, and full of good<br />

morals. Tbe first part was only made up of the killing of his wife and babby, and the<br />

37 Pevsner, Nikdaus, The Englishness of English An, 1964 [1956]. Pevsner wrote that Hogarth "is<br />

most tarnous fa his series of painrings and engravings such as Maniage a fa Mode tx Ihe Rake's<br />

Progress. But he began as a painter of what is called *bconversatioo pieces", small groups of<br />

people joined together in conversatiah a same other aftim, a type of painting the English were<br />

especially fmd of' (kvsler, 51). In turn, Mayhew seemed to have translated Hogarthian<br />

aesthetics for his own prrrposes by deliberately seeking out social outcasts. Heir, in part, to the<br />

Continental Baroque tradition, Mayhew created his own visual and verbal ideas in the<br />

development of time through narrative motion; see Kunzle, David, 77u Early Comic Strip:<br />

Namive Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c.1450 ro 1825. Berkeley;<br />

Lm Angeles; Loadon: University of California Press, 1973. David Kunzle argued that in 1753,<br />

Hogarth published his own themetical treatise, the Analysis of Beauty: "Hoganh's theory is<br />

chafaderized a h all by its dynamism . . no] Hogarth, art is a visual dynamics in itself. Its<br />

essence is motion, and although he does not speak explicitly of narrative motion, his entire<br />

thought, his very aeative process, is predicated u p variation, evolutim, the development of time<br />

of visual ideas', (Kunzle, 338).


second with the execution of the hangman and kiIling of the devil - that was the aiginal<br />

drama of Punch, hacded down to Rosperity fa 800 years." 39 Fa fmm the fim Punch<br />

was lamchi as 'tk veaaable s u m of English comic periodicals." " ad in the high<br />

Victorian era, paradoxically, it was the bastion of upper-middle-class consxvatisrn<br />

C hark L. Graves in Mr. Punch 's History of Modern England recarQd a different aspect<br />

of the magazine at its beginning:<br />

For Punch began as a radical and democratic paper, a resolute champion<br />

of the poa, and desolate and depressed, aad the early v d m abourd<br />

in evidences of the miseries of the 'Hungry Faties' and in burning pleas<br />

fa their removal. The strange mixture of jocularity with intense<br />

earnestness which confronts us on every page was due to the charactas<br />

andantecedentsofthe~whofouodedaodwrotefathepapaat<br />

its outse~"<br />

Mark Lemon, also the editor of Punch, wrote: '"Ihe Maal of Punch was to be the<br />

voice of the oppressed, especially victims of debtors* prisons, capital punishment, the<br />

P m Law, Sabbatarianism, and aha earnest abuses." 42 Bradley recalled: ''Looking<br />

through the early vdumes of Punch one notes the preponderaace of items concerning the<br />

condition of England", which was the social condition that arose with tk ladustrial<br />

Revolution. It was in the 1830s that Carlyle cuafroilted England with "the condition of<br />

England question*'. The fluctuating economy brought about a terrible imemrity forcing<br />

many people into "squalid lives in squalid towns." The middle- ami uppa-classes tried<br />

various sorts of ref=<br />

and investigations. "Tk waking-classes wavered betwm<br />

political and ecommic action; they struck in 1825, burned ricks and smashed machinery<br />

in 18 30, united in and felt cheated by the reform struggle of 1832, turned with enthusiasm<br />

* Bradley, Jobn, "Henry Mayhew Farce Writer of the 1830s," The Victorian Newslener 23,<br />

Spring, (1%3), 21 -23, xix. Accoeding to Sullivan, 77u Grem Gun (November 16, 1844 - June 28,<br />

1845) was "the first axnic weekly with enough literary and artistic talent to cunpete with Punch"<br />

(Sullivan, 505).<br />

41<br />

Bradley, xix-xx.<br />

42 Lemon, Mark, British Literary Magazines, 1884.


to the continuing trade union movement, a d were faced by governmeat repession to<br />

the points of the Charter.. . They r im petidom& marched, aganized quarrded, and<br />

usually lost." "<br />

With the launch of Punch, English caricature came alive. WeeLiy comic magazines<br />

were created by M aw, Dickens, and Thackeray, f a example. "Douglas Jmdd in his<br />

"Q" articles for Punch and in his weeklies took the lead in itrement attacks on all fams<br />

of humbug, just as k todt the lead in organizing cbkhg clubs in the taverns of Soho,"<br />

according to Roberts. Jarold was aciolowledged "tk kmg of wit, he combiaed a flair f a<br />

satire with a waspish anger at the high a d mighty and a warm feeiing fa the low and<br />

humble." Robats contiwed: "In his Punch articles aad his Shilling Mugane this wit,<br />

anger, and humanitarianism flowaed. TIE New Poor Law was "a terrible curses*; political<br />

economy "an economy that's to teach the poa to live on aothing'*; bishops are hypocrites<br />

who "bless war and call sddias peacemakers"; class legislation "no m e a less than<br />

robbery." In his oOening article in Aurch, Jardd anmuaced that Punch would reflect the<br />

"wisdom that crieah fiom the streas." Although Jefrold's own Weekly lasted only 18<br />

months, he was a constant contributor to Punch and sub-edit- of tk Daily News.<br />

Mayhew's bohemian friends can be found at every level of journalism, "'editing comic<br />

weeklies, reOating Parliament, writing leaders, working late hours as sub-editor,<br />

investigating social distress, a d engraving ad<br />

illustrating illusaations." ' What they<br />

brought to the world was "a compassion f a suffering, an irreverence fa all humbug, a<br />

disinterest in politics, and a romantic escape fkom reality in lurid nxhhmas fa<br />

the<br />

stage and sensational novels. The first of these four traits, compassion for all suffering, is<br />

perhaps" " their hallmark, following Robats. Mamva. tkir haums. where they found<br />

the 'makings of ttreir staies', could be found "in the filthiest rothxies and courtyards<br />

and the most dismal jails and workhouses, exposing the plight of tbe pm. " Years later<br />

even when M a w was waking as a seasoned journalist for the Chronicle, he met a<br />

03<br />

Bradley, xx.<br />

'' Ibid.. 18.<br />

Ibid<br />

46 Ibid., 19


man living in a cheap lodging-house ''whxe +ala and wretchedness [still] produced a<br />

feeling approaching awe. . . I mer b a d so gaunt a picture of famine To this day the<br />

figure of the man [still] haunts m" " Punch was Mayhew's braiachild but he lost<br />

editorial control, it seems, only a year after it was launched, and in the ad, M a w sold<br />

his shares to Mark Lemon fa a trifling amount of mmy. His braher, Gus, stayed on the<br />

editorial board of Punch until his death in 1875.- Lwking back. Maykw's bn&n<br />

Labour and the London Poor, Dick-'<br />

Household Words, Thackay's Cornhill<br />

Magazine, and Jendd's eclitorial directioa of Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper<br />

illustrated the achievenmts of a whde generation of Punch staff.<br />

Now with Punch behind him, Maykwjained faces with his broths in contributing<br />

to otkr aumaous magadaes a d periodicals.* During the 1840s. Mayhear wrae several<br />

works of fiction with Gus. Tog- they wr- The Greatest Plague of Lye: or the<br />

Adventures of a Ludy in Search of a G d Servant ( 1847), which was about the<br />

difficulties of finrting a want, while Whom to Marry (1848) was about the adventures<br />

of a young woman in search of a good husband. Ma* aiso published two fairy tales,<br />

The Good Genius that Turned Everything into Gold (1 B W ) , which was a 'Christmas<br />

Fairy Tale' and The Magic of Kinriness (1849). Ad during the euphoria of the world's<br />

first international exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, Ma* produced 1851: or<br />

the Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sondboys. so It was produced in monthly parts, beginning<br />

in February, 185 1 togetha with a 16-part series on the exhibition fa the Edinburgh News<br />

and Literary Chronicle " beginning in May. In N o v b<br />

1 85 1, Hemy and Gus began<br />

part publication of The Shabby Fatnmerley, a sequel to The Greatest Plague in Life;<br />

Mayhew also began issuing Low Wages in parts at the end of November. According to<br />

49 Comic Allfl~n~lck tine Comic Magazine (1846-50).<br />

IS51 was an adventure story about a middle-class north country iamily who visited Loodon and<br />

marvelled at England's cunmerciai supremacy Geage Cruikshank was the illusmta.<br />

Sixteen articles were anitten bxwetm May and Aug w 185 1. Almg with Gus, he also wrote a<br />

new novel, The Image of his Father, which was an intricate plot of mistaken identities, racism,<br />

seedy solicitas, and the like.


Karel Williams, s2 Maybew m y have also published TIe Mormas, or Latter-Day Saints<br />

in 1852." In 1856, Mayhew plunged into a new m y dofummsd sziahed survey of the<br />

Lo&<br />

prisms called the Great World of lon&n, which erded abruptly in &sentence<br />

with Part IX, a d which Wiliiams argues was a missing fifth volume. Mayhew's<br />

completed section dealt almost exclusively with criminal London and in the end his<br />

publishers commissioned John Binny to complete the volume to which Binny eventually<br />

added 150 pages of his own mataial to The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of<br />

Prison bye (1 862).<br />

From f 854 to 1864, Maytrew wrote three travel books on German culture He wrote<br />

The Rhine and Its Picturesque Scenery (1 856) togerber with tbe cornpaaim bodrs, The<br />

Upper Rhine: The Scenery of its Banks and the Manners of its People (1 858) and the two-<br />

volume German Life and Manners in Saxony as seen in Saxony at the Present Day<br />

(1 864). In monthly said fcxmat, Mayhew published 7%e Shops of London und the<br />

Trades and Man@mturers of Great Britain (1 865). which was a series of tributes to<br />

British industry design& to advertise a variety of collllll~rcial products. Undoubtedly<br />

Hemy Ma* wrde a remarkably diverse body of work including plays, novels,<br />

biographies, travelogues. and educational philoscrphy to make a living His complece<br />

sociological waks included the Morning Chronicle collation, which in itself was a<br />

major part of London Labour and the London: Poor, the 185 1-2 incomplete London<br />

Labour and the h don Poor, togetlax with the Answers to Carespondetlce, the Great<br />

World of London (1 856) running in monthly part publication from March to November<br />

1856. and later additional volumes by GrifFia Bohn & Co.<br />

'' Williams, Karel, "Mayhew." In From Paupenjm to Poveny. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul,<br />

I98 1,237-77,238.<br />

'' Men of the Timc: A Dictio~ry of ConIemporuries, Containing Biogruphicul Notices of Eminent<br />

Characrers of Both Sexes. 1 lLh Edition. Thompsoa Cooper, Loadon: Gemge Routledge and Sons,<br />

1884.<br />

54<br />

For mae detailed biographies, see E.P. Thompson, "Henry Mayhew and the Morning<br />

Chronicle," in Thampsoa and Yeo, Tirc Unknown Mayhew, Merlin Ress, 1971, 11-50; N. Crass,<br />

The Common Writer, Life in Nineteenrh-Cenfury Fleet, Cambridge University Ress, 1985.93-<br />

102; Anne Humpherys, Travels into the Poor Man's Country, University of Wgia Ress, 1977;<br />

John Bradley, "Henry Mayhew: Farce Writer of the 183Os," ThP Vierorion Newslener 23. Spring,<br />

(1963). 21-23.


Once he became financially SBCUT~, he married Daqlas Jardd's oldest daughter,<br />

Jane (1825- 1880), and moved fiom Clement's Inn to the Shrubbery, the West London<br />

suburb of Parson's Green where be ''m large debts fa furnishrag and<br />

ornatlleming the premises". " His wife work& direQly alongside him taking mast of his<br />

s6<br />

dictation fa the Morning Chronicle, and accoccfing to Ma* in his pef' to<br />

Gerntan Life and Manners, Jane cosainued to be "literally my right bar4 Scribbling to<br />

my dictation" But in 1846, Mayhew faced a huge financial setback Erom which k never<br />

eva recovere& His railway periodical. 7'he Iron Tines (July 1845-May 1846) along<br />

with Thomas Holt, tbe publisher, was bankrupt. Althargh Ma* made casual reference<br />

to bankruptcies in Lon& Lahour - there were "gluts in the markets, an increase of<br />

heavy bankruptcies and "panics," such as were srpaiared in the money marke& in 1825-<br />

26. and again in 1846. with the failure of banks and merchants" - he never mnioaed<br />

his own bankruptcy directly in the text. According to 7%e Times newspaper, however,<br />

dated February 12, 1847, Mayhew's "balance-sheet showed that fiom July, 1843, to July,<br />

1846, the debts amounted to 2.0 181.. . . . The bankrupt estimated his profits in 1844, at<br />

3001. ; in 1 845, the same; and in 1 846, he received fiom Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, on<br />

account of Punch, 2001.; from the iron Times, 1501.; fiom Bradbury and Co., Zl., for the<br />

Almanack; fiom Mr. Stevens. fa an interest in the Rioce of Wales's Prim, 251.; tiom<br />

Mr. Howe, f a certain literary labours, 1001.; fiom the Era, of which he is part progriaa,<br />

1001.; and 2Sl.fa tk Pocket Book" " With the failure of The Iron Times, Mayhew, his<br />

wife and two children, Amy and Athol, were faced to live out their lives on the verge of<br />

bankruptcy even after Jane's death in 1880.~<br />

55 Humpherys, 18.<br />

56<br />

Mayhew, Henry. G e m fife and Manners as Seen in Saxony at the Present Day, Vol. 1, Allen<br />

and Co., 1864; dedication To my wife, iiterally my right hand, scribbling to my dictation"; see<br />

Taithe. 67.<br />

57<br />

Regarding characteristics of the Menippean satire, Mayhew's bankruptcy destroyed 'We epic<br />

and tragic wholeness of a person and his fate" (Bakhtin, Mikhail, 1984, 116).<br />

'' Mayhew. II: 300.<br />

59 The Times, Friday, Fetxuary 12, 1847.8.<br />

60 Mayhew's bother, Horace, inherited their father's estate.


In Septemba 1849, Mayhew went to Bamoadsey, the ceater of the leather industry,<br />

for a tint-hand investigative repat m Jacob's I sle made famous in DicLat's Oliver<br />

Twist (1 8 37). His Morning Chronicle expose - unsigmxl and indignant - hit the stre%<br />

on September 24, 1849. Mayhew's coacern ova th sanitary coaditicm of tkse<br />

particular slums directly resulted from the chdtxa epidemic of 184849. In oap year<br />

alone, from September 184849, 14,000 people died in Laukm, and perhaps as many as<br />

53,000 died in Englaad and Wales altqgether. The tide reached its peak in LonQn ar<br />

September 10, 1849 when 432 people died fim this disease. At oae point. Ma*<br />

focused on the crucial relatiomhip betwleen it and social space. He anal@<br />

relationship between disease and ovacrowded waking-class nei-<br />

the<br />

that lay<br />

sandwiched between aims highly-diffaentiated city sectors: "So well kmwn are the<br />

localities of fever and disease," he argued, "that that would almofit admit of being<br />

mapped out pathologically. a d divided into its morbid districts aad deadly cantons''.61<br />

Mayhew's vivid description of Jacob's Island was also publishxi in Meliora:<br />

We then iourneyed on to LonQn-street, down which the tidal ditch<br />

continues its course. In No. 1 of this street the cholera first appeared<br />

seveateen years ago, and spread up with fearfirl videace; but this<br />

year it appeared at the opposite emf, and ran down it with like severity.<br />

As we passed along the reking banks of the sewer the sun shone upon<br />

a narrow slip of the water. In the bright light it appeared the colour<br />

of strong gram tea, and positively looked as solid as black marble in<br />

the shadow - ilYtYY1 it was more like watery mud than muddy water;<br />

and yet we were assured this was the only water the wretched inhabitants<br />

had to drink As we gazed in hcura at it, we saw drains and sewgs<br />

emptying their filthy contents into it; we saw a whole tier of doorless<br />

privies in the open road, common to men and women, built ova it;<br />

we heard bucket after bucb of filth splash into it, and the iimbs of<br />

the vagrant boys bathing in it waxxi, by pure face of comast, white<br />

as Parian marble . . . " In this wretched place we were taken to a house<br />

Humpherys, 16.<br />

62 Meliora, September 24. 1849. 21, fmote 26.


whae an infant lay dead of the cbdera We asked if they really did<br />

drink the warn The answer was, '"lhey were obliged to drink the<br />

ditch, withart they could beg a padfbll or thieve a paUU of water."<br />

But have you spoken to your landlad about having it laid m for you<br />

"Yes, sir; and he says he will do it, a&<br />

than to believe him.63<br />

do it, but we know him berter<br />

Following his first article on Bamondsey, Mayhew pasuacled the Morning<br />

Chronicle editas to publish a full-scale threepart series - om article appeariag daily -<br />

surveying poverty in England, and Mayhew was appointed London's 'Metropditan<br />

Correspondeat'. J3@and was divjded into six broad areas: the Manuf-<br />

Districts,<br />

the Agricultural Districts, tb Mining and M asllfm Districts of South Wales, the<br />

Mining Districts of Nath Wales, the Meuwtan Districts, and the towns of Liverpool<br />

and ~irmingham" Two orha meqomkm, Angus Bahune Reach and Charles<br />

Mackay, reported on "Labour and the Pocx" on alternate days in the rural districts and<br />

indusrrial areas outside of London. On October 18, 1849, the Chronicle anmunced that<br />

the series would provide "a full and npldled description of the mad, intellectual,<br />

material. and physical condition of the individual porx throughout England*' and wc~uld<br />

"equal, perhaps surpass, official or parliamentary reports in impartiality, authenticity, and<br />

cornprehensiveaess." " The propal Morning Chronicle inquiry had calren a novel d<br />

imponant turn; this was the very first time that a prow of this size had ever been<br />

undertaken by a British aewspaper. The Morning Chronicle admitted to its readers that in<br />

its efforts % settle the great social problems of tk day and ascertaia w ktk any (and<br />

what) legislative mwwes can be adopted to improve the mental and physical condition<br />

of the poor, we have invariably been stopped, embarrassed, thrown out, a compelled to<br />

pause and tum aside by the want of trustworthy infixmation as to the facts." ' The<br />

Chronicle set out to reconstruct the facts, and it fell to Mayhew to brilliantly reconstnrct<br />

63<br />

Thompson, 1967.44.<br />

-<br />

Ginswick, J. (ed.), LPbour and rhe Poor in England and Wales, 1849-1851. Volume 1.<br />

Lancashire, Chesire, Yorkshire; Frank Cass: Lardon, 1983, xiii.<br />

66<br />

Ginswick, xi.


tfiem fm LoaQa Fa the first time Carlyle's question about the ''condition of England"<br />

was about to be explffed as a conthous aad many-sided problem on the urban coadition<br />

and casual I-. which could n, 1- be igmed "<br />

Victorians were well-schoded in the social conditions of the rnrblstrial Revdution<br />

before Mayhew began his first sa&il sodaley with the Mming Chronicle. " b e had<br />

been numerous Royal Commission and Select Committee investigations into the<br />

condition of women and chilcken in factaies (1832). in mines (1842). and in potteries<br />

( 1843). all published in familiar blue covers. Statistical societies such as the Manchester<br />

Statistical Society existed in almost every ma.<br />

city fietping to conduct government<br />

survey work, so that taken together, they created tk first steps towards faming social<br />

policies and plans of<br />

Edwin Chadwick's 77te Repon on the Sanitary Conditions<br />

of the Labouring Population @Great Britain (1842) stated: 'We have found that the<br />

inhabitants of the fiont houses in many of the main streets of those towns and of the<br />

metropolis, have Ilever entered the adjoining courts, a seen the interiors of any of the<br />

tenements, situate at tk backs of their own houses. in which their own wak people<br />

reside." Gage Godwin, editcr of tk Builder, also champid bata public heath and<br />

housing for the par. B m and raised in Loadon he too lm~v of its wrackd housing.71<br />

According to Ginswick, as far as the press was coIlcetaed it had 'been taking an<br />

increasing interest in the wealrnesses of social arrangements, writing in strong terms of<br />

their social cast and advocating inquiries and repats which, if nor ~sarily instructing<br />

their readas, at least contirmed their prejudices." " The specitic policy driving the<br />

67<br />

bid., xvi.<br />

Boston, Ray. Tice EsserUial Fleet Street. Its Himry and Influence, Blandfad: Lmdon. 1990.<br />

Ray Boston wrote that James Perry (1756-1821) was 'the King of London journalism', and ownereditor<br />

of the Morning Chronicle, who ueated the professim of journalism, following press<br />

historian, Charles Peabody (Boston, 49).<br />

69<br />

Yeo, 53; see footnote txmom of p.55.<br />

" Robem, 20. Godwin was also somerhing of a bohemian, writing a farce fa the theatre when he<br />

was a young man, and moving fian archi tenure to journalism.


Morning Chronicle was clear and certain: "it was opposed to Palmerston's faeign policy<br />

and sought an improvemnt in the conditioas of life among the labouring class at<br />

home." AS a majm competita to the Times, tk Chronicle had a long histay. a<br />

substantial audience, an experienced team of parliamentary r w s like Hazlitt and<br />

Dickens, and a new Peelite group of propietcxs. Beginning on February 2 1, 1 848, new<br />

proprietars included the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Lincdn, Sidaey Haben, a&<br />

other influential Peelites, a d a xww edita, John Jhuglas Cook Cook had been a repona<br />

at The Times, and had gathered round him "a brilliant staff of cdbutas, including<br />

George Sydney SmythR afiawards Lard Strangfad, Gilbet Veaables, Abraham<br />

Hayward, William Vewn Harcou~t, and Thackay. Its bushss manager was William<br />

Dele the father of tlre clera y v edita for Thc Times". " Among tk LooQa<br />

dailies of the early 1850s, The Times was 'king'. It sold over 50,000 copies a day, more<br />

than all the akr Lamb dailig combiaed '' In 1855. the repeal of the aewspaper sump<br />

duty 76 rapidly transformed tk British newspaper industry. Penny daily papas now<br />

appeared led by the hew Daily Telegraph, which sold 141,700 co~ies daily by 1861,<br />

leaving The Times far behind. 7-1 Roughly ten years befme, in 1846, the press had been<br />

shackled by taxes, by excise, and by Revenue officas who dogged the steps of<br />

newspapermen and printers; ckre wae adveztjsement duties of 1 s.dd.each, a compulsory<br />

stamp of Id. on all aewspapers, wkher pted or not, and a heavy paper duty, so that, in<br />

effect, every pound of paper was weighed and stamped by a Revenue offica. In 1853 the<br />

advertisement duty was finally repealed. Then in 186 1, when Gladstone was Chancellor<br />

of the Exchequer, the paper duty was finally abolished "<br />

M a w published roughly 80 articles on London's manufacturing trades for about a<br />

73 Ibid., xii.<br />

7J English Newspapers. Chapters in the History of Jounralism, <strong>1887</strong>, 153.<br />

" Read, Dcmald. l%e Powr of News. The History of Reurers. 1849-1989. Oxfad University<br />

Press: Oxfa& 1992. 19.


year. first daily, then wePkly with Augustus klping him in the research aad writing<br />

Sutherland Fdwards recalled the excitement as well as the imaginative quality character-<br />

istic of Maw's Loadon office:<br />

He was in his glary at the time. He was largely paid ad, greatest joy<br />

of all. had an army of assistant Wfiters, stenographas, and hansom<br />

cabmen coastantly at his call. LoaQn labourers . . . were brought to<br />

the Chronicle office, wfrere they tdd their tales to Mayhew, who<br />

redictated them, with an atlrlcri dout of his own, to the shorthand<br />

writer . . . Augustus Mped him in his vivid descriptions, and an authority<br />

on @tical eammy contrdled his gay $-tics. "<br />

Uader the constant pressure of newspaper deadlines and persoaal carelessaess,<br />

Mayhew was undtubtedly slipshod with regard to his statistics even though he used<br />

standard sources including Pater and the Blue Boob, Registrar-Geaeral repats, the Post<br />

Office Directory, the Occupation Abstract of 1841, the Repat of the Constabulary Farce<br />

Commissionas, and the Official Returns of the Mmopditan Pdice. In spite of a wealth<br />

of resources, an "errata" slip insert& inside the frant of an 185 1 baund cdlection, f a<br />

example, listed 37 numtrical arm. Nevertheless, the maja thrust of Mayhew's work,<br />

with ewrmous and smmims viol-<br />

juxtapositions of detail, investigated the Victaian<br />

urban wald of casual wak. Mayhew was merciless "in exping the fact that destitution<br />

came not fiom a lack of self reliance but from unbelievable profits made by employers<br />

and the subsistence wages they paid" 'I Ma* divided th labowing poa into three<br />

broad classifications - 'Wose who will wak, won't wak, and can't wak". He then<br />

investigated five broad groups of manufactuting activities among the first group.<br />

Following Ginswick, Mayfiew examhd ''those that will wak": "the clothing trades,<br />

covering not only the tailoring industry but also dress-making and milhxy, the<br />

manufacture of gentiemen's hats, and the boot trade." He also examirred "the silk<br />

weaving of Spitalfidds, the manufacture of lea-<br />

and leather goods, the making of toys,<br />

80 Sutherland Edwards, George, 60; E.P. Thompsoa. 58; Mayhew also W T ~ that his jxnoaal<br />

interviews were "here given as they were spoken" (Mayhew, I: 46).


and finally a miscellanerxrs group of trades associatad with wood, consisting of sawyas,<br />

then turned to distribution activities of b&m. He Iodred into tk operations of the<br />

docks, their specialized activities and the life of mm wuking in them; he examined the<br />

merchant marine a d the difficulties of life as a saila, and the meboplitan transpcxt<br />

system, paying particular attention to the omaibus drivers and coaductas, the hackwy<br />

coachmen and cabmen, carmen and paters, and those who found their living on tk<br />

Thames, the watenaen, the ti%termerr, and skambmt men, Tbe wholesale distribution of<br />

food, meat, fish, and vegetables, also came under close scrutiny and tk "live" cattle<br />

mar& of Smithfield, the carcase meat marb of Newgate, r d Whitechapel,<br />

the fish market of Billingsgate, and the vegetable markets of Covent Garden, the<br />

Borough, Spitalfieids, Farringdon aod Portman w e all examinaLn<br />

Retail trades followed, and then London's street-fdk on the fringe of "those that will<br />

war'. The second classification - ''those that that war-<br />

consisted of a mixed<br />

group of pmple, the elderly, the destitute, aad the ummpioyed In examining the third<br />

classification - "thx that will not war-<br />

Maykw emxed an underground world of<br />

the vagrant, the criminal, and the prostitute. He used QQens of infamants - shore-<br />

hunters, tk little girl at the cat's-meat shop, and the ballast-heaver's wives U. fa<br />

instance - to guide him through the labyrinth of London's filthiest slums in search of his<br />

stories. LI At tk cheap lodging-houses. Maybew was presemed with "'so many peculiar<br />

features that I thought it better, even at the risk of being unnrPlhnlica1, to avail myself of<br />

'* Ginswick, xi.<br />

83<br />

Ginswick. xxiv.<br />

Maybew met the ballast-heaver's wives at the British and Faeign School, in Shakespeare-walk,<br />

Sbadwell to make the public aware that they were seeking "the same fieeban ban the control of<br />

the publican wbicb the caai-whippers had obtained" (Mayhew. HI: 286).<br />

Mayhear gained access to a court off RaremYy-lane "thrwgh a dark narrow enuance. scarcely<br />

wider than a doorway, nmning beneath the 6rst floor of me of the houses to the adjoining street+'*<br />

Once inside the cornt, he described it as "about 50 yards long, and not mae than three yards wide,<br />

surrounded by lofty wooden houses, with jutting abutments in many of the upper stories that<br />

almost exclude the light, and give them an appearance of being able to tumble down u p the<br />

heads of the intruders with roughly 1OOO people living there at my me time" (Mayhew, IlI: 1, 2,<br />

153, 141, 142).


tbe channels of infarnation opemj to rn ratha than defa the matter to its paper place,<br />

and lose the freshness of the impression it had made u p my miod" wi He double-<br />

checked the facts of the lodgers at th ckap ckspodging-house usiag insider infmnation."<br />

Ma*<br />

wrote: "I read to them the account (in the Morning Chronicle) of my previous<br />

interview with them, they were nmch delighted at saeiag tkamelves in print, and<br />

immediately arranged ckmselvcs on a seat all a r d the mom"<br />

Maykw recorded<br />

further: "As it was, the piace was cram so fill, that the light was completely blocked<br />

by the men piled up on the seats and lockm, and standing befae the win&ws. The room<br />

was thus remhed so dark that I was obliged to have tk gas light4 in ader to see to<br />

take my notes; I myself was obliged to mount the opxite lock to take the statistics of<br />

the meaing.'m<br />

Appalled by what k saw, Mayhew's particular choice of subject matter, as Raphael<br />

Samuel noted, seams to have beerr shaped largely by his rising anger at capitalist<br />

exploitation, particularly as it affected tk dda Loldoa occupations aad trades. " Above<br />

all else, he was fascinated by the sweat shops. Perhaps it was this f btioa with the<br />

sweat sbps, which accounted fa sol~le of the trades he omitted from his 'cyclopedia':<br />

railway servants and gas stolrers, compositors. eqgineers. bricklayes, a!xi bcdcbimkrs. 91<br />

Neither did he take his readers "inside the wulshop, except in the case of the domestic<br />

outwaks." g2 Ma* inteaded to focus on "that class of pm whose privations<br />

seemed to be dw to the insufficiency of their wages." " He revealed how the problems of<br />

Ibid.. 3 12.<br />

87 Ibid.. 314-15.<br />

89 Ibid., 239.<br />

Regarding capital, Engels stared: ^Capital is the all-important we- in the class war. Power<br />

lies in the hands of those who own. directly a indirectly, foodstuffs and the means of production"<br />

Engels, 32).<br />

9 1<br />

Samuel. 50.<br />

92 Ibid, 51.<br />

93<br />

Morning Chronicle, letter 11: Tbanpsar and Ym, 1971, 104.


casual labour in the l~l~opdis, the ovawfielming -going<br />

pmblans of London poverty,<br />

were directly related to orthodox political econamy and its callwaess. "Since the<br />

establishmat of slaughter-hruses, and aptly hckd from my LEnowledge of their effects<br />

upon the workmen, have thqr been namtul" an infamaat told Mayfrew, "- tk clemand<br />

for articles of the best cabinet-work. in tk manufacture of which th uxtliest woods and<br />

the most skilled labour Lordon can supply are required, has diminished upwards of 25<br />

per cent. The demand, mreover, continues still to diminish gradually." 'Y "Tk number<br />

of haads in the LonQa track fiom 1831 to 1841 de~lhxi 33 per cent relatively to the rest<br />

of the jmpulaticm*', accading to Maw. '' He visited a gang of men at work at six at<br />

night, ballasting a cdlie in tk Pod % to see &st-hand the intmsity of tkir wakgl He<br />

questioned and ems-questid the whistliug and &mmg boy wbo still clung to "his<br />

assertion that he ma& 2l.per we&'.<br />

Mayhew revealed how L axhfs abudant<br />

unskilled a d semi-skilled workface broke down peexisting trade customs thus<br />

creating new fams of overwork and explatation. To do this, Mayhew compared<br />

statistics with factual case histories such as the suffering of the labouring poor. On<br />

November 6, 1849. he r8cocded: "I had seen so much want since I began my investigation<br />

into the condition of the labouring porn of Lotdon that my feelings were almost blunted<br />

to sights of adraary misay. Still I was unprqared f a tbe amunt of suffering that I have<br />

lately witnessed I could na have believed that thae wae human beings toiling so long<br />

and gaining so little, and starving so silently and koically. round about our very<br />

homes." '' Maykw's manifesto prefigured some of his future conflicts:<br />

I aim to reveal the economic and social causes of povaty - I shall<br />

consick the wfrde of the Menopolitan poor under three separate<br />

9J Mayhew, III: 231.<br />

95 Ibid., 223.<br />

96 Ibid., 275.<br />

9' Mayhew rrpmed: "I ded a meeting of the coalwhippers. that I might take their opinion an the<br />

subject, when I found bat out of eighty individuals only four were satisfied that fermented liquas<br />

could be bspensed with by the labortring class" (Mayhew, ID: 244).<br />

99<br />

Thompsar, E.P.. 1967% 46.


phases as they will work, they can't wark aad they won't work<br />

While treating of the poorly paid I shall endeavout to lay befae<br />

the reads a catalogue of such occupations in Laodon . . . to ascertaia,<br />

by positive inspection the conditicms of their homes to learn by close<br />

communion with them not only how little they subsist on but how<br />

large a rate of profit they have to pay for tk little upon wfiich they do<br />

subsist . . . to calculate the West the petty capitalist reaps from their<br />

massitis. loo<br />

Besides the scale of London's casual labow, equally striking was the distribution of<br />

the menopditan work face, bdh men a d wotllen. Gittswick reptat<br />

Of nearly 633,000 males over the age of twenty who lived in Lordon,<br />

some 47,000 were skmmaktm and tailas, 26,000 were ckmstic servants<br />

of one type a amtha, about 5 1,000 were artisans in the building trades.<br />

nearly 42,000 were in the food and drink trades, about 13,500 were<br />

furniture makm and sellers, some 3 1.000 dther drove vehicles through<br />

the Lordon streets a wae messengers and paters, and at least 40,000<br />

were unskilled labourers, eking out an existence fiom &y to day and<br />

from season to season.<br />

Women were even more restricted: "Ma~ly, of course, were dependent on their<br />

husbands, or were widows, a were young girls without any employment; but of thme<br />

who earned their living thae wae about 1 19,000 domestic savants of various kinds,<br />

nearly 74,000 ntwoewomen and nearly 46,000 chanvomen, washawomen and manglers.<br />

In fact these three groups accounted fa marly twmhirds of the total number of adult<br />

women wbo had to wak fix a livelihad" lo'<br />

Readers reacted quickly, whole-heartedly, and genamsIy to some of the more<br />

horrifying stories. Hardly a day passed that tk Chronicle did mt receive money to<br />

relieve spific cases of personal distress a for relief in general. Publicity given to the


wretched cdtion of the worLers in ttre "&e<br />

trades", the Spitalfields silk weavers,<br />

and the ballast-heavers sparked a movement towards th geaaal impovement of their<br />

economic circumstil~lces. In London, tailas Md public m!&ngs at which Maybew and<br />

the Chronicle were publicly thanked fa the work which had bex~<br />

to bring tMr<br />

economic a d social condition to public notice. lrn Readas petitid Parliament "fa<br />

some means of restraining the present downward progress of the made to pauperism and<br />

misery." lo3 Whe. wak was available, they fonatd a "Guild** or House of Call where<br />

information could be supplied, and wtrere migrant tailas cculd call in, Some tailor's<br />

formed a workmg tailot's joint stock company to go into business fa themselves rather<br />

than being caught up in the "sweating" and middleman system. The Chronicle also acted<br />

as a f m of labour exchange fa aeedim cdlecting and keeping a list of nams of<br />

those wfio wanted wmk a d itaamittently infcxming the public of its existence. It also<br />

published from time to time, nams of pecple offering wcxk The ballast-heaving system<br />

attracted Sir J ams Duk M.P., John Delane of The Times, and even Henry Mayhew<br />

himself to improve the wages and employmem conditions of the ballast-heavers by taking<br />

up their case with the Governmeat. The Spitalfields silk weavers also berrefited<br />

Prompted by Mayhew's accounts, certain employers raised the wage rates and<br />

prominence was given to this in the press. 104<br />

Mayhew's investigation into London's street-folk had a vernacular characca all its<br />

own. Yet in spite of all he had sen and experienced as the Morning Chronicle's<br />

metropolitan journalist, the cultural distinctions he drew betwen Victorian civilization<br />

and the wandering tribes of street-folk still remained a crucial aspect of his analysis<br />

(Chapter 6). And the battles ova city-spaces were also crucial to his argument as we shall<br />

see in Chapter 4. Ginswick himself reconstructed certain facts regarding these city-<br />

spaces :<br />

Lawyers lived in Kensington in greater relative numbgs than in any<br />

other district, but law clerks, except those who lived round Chancery<br />

102<br />

Ibid., xxvi.<br />

lo3 Ibid.


~andtbelnasofCourt, wereto befouadinIslington Domestic<br />

savants, b& male and female, a d gov- wae found in the<br />

m e affluent areas of St. George's, Hanover Square, S~ianres's<br />

Wes-.<br />

Marleybooe arxl Kensiagtm Tailm were strong in<br />

St. James's, Marlyebolre and St. Pancras, but relatively mxe so<br />

in the east end of Lmdm, in Whitchapel, St.kge's in the East,<br />

and Stepney, where women tailas in particular ma& waistcoats<br />

and cheap goods fa the slop shops. The chief districts fa shoemalrers<br />

were St. Pancras and Maryl-<br />

in the oorth, Lambeth and Newington<br />

in the south, and Whitechapel and Berhaal grm in the east, Gardeners<br />

wtzemainiyinWandswarthandKeasingto11 Beyondall~districts,<br />

the City was the locality fa publishers and bodrsellers, in the area of<br />

Patamoster Row and in the nunwous courts ararnd Fleet Strm<br />

Watcfimalrers congregated in surpising rmmhtrs in Clerkenwell<br />

and St-Luke's. And the list goes on Coachmakers wae in S~Pancras and<br />

Marl-;<br />

shipbuildas in the dockland areas of Stepney and Poplar;<br />

dyers and calendeters in Sheditch and Bethnal Green, where the silk<br />

manufacture was also carried on; leatha workers in Bermoodfey;<br />

sugar refiners in Stepw, Whitechapel, and St. George's in the East;<br />

cabinet and furniture-makers wae in St.Pancras but more particularly<br />

in Shoreditch; coopers were in the districts marest the docks; rope<br />

and sail-maks in Berhnal Green a d Stepney; and wakers in gold,<br />

silver and precious stones were to be found in Clerkenwell.'OS<br />

In relationship to these prolifaating urban spaces and modes of exploitation,<br />

Mayhew's Morning Chronicle investigation was comp~ehensive, cultural, and<br />

compassionate. Like Marx, Mayhew was collcaaed with the circumstances that led to<br />

ovawak and wdapay. and like Marx. he idemifid low wages with the drive f a surplus<br />

value. On its own, this must entitle Mayhew to an impcrtanr place in the history of social<br />

investigation f a as Raphael Samuel argud "Mayhew am to iidemify povety neitha<br />

with character, like the mcxal reformas, nr even with 'casualism' and geaaal6commic<br />

'05 Ibib, xxiv.


inscmrity, like Bevetidge a Boork So far as the wage-earner was concaned he put it<br />

down quite definitely to capitalist super profit". 'His divisim between the 'honourable'<br />

and the 'dishot~n~able' ends of the trades." Samuel coathex& "b-<br />

wages regulated<br />

by 'custom' and those at the mercy of 'competition' provides a much betta starting point<br />

than a mere flat rate in&%.*' lM<br />

Inevitably, Ma*<br />

fell into arguments with the Economist over suppat fm the<br />

Tailor's Guild with Lad Ashley, patron and pesident, over tk Ragged Schools, and the<br />

Moming Chronicle ova Eree track He attearpted to trace the rehticmship becween<br />

juvenile delinquency and the Ragged Scboois, and his finfinn,c saiously questjorred the<br />

popular view that the schods reducedjuvenile dehpmq. In OCtObg 1850, Ma*<br />

abruptly resigaed owr editorial taqnxhg with his copy lo',<br />

while tk Chronicle claimed<br />

"our Special Correspondents were distinctly instructed to c d h Wmselves as much to<br />

facts. and not to trouble themselves abaut opinions cx infer-."<br />

'00 In 1 85 1 , the whole<br />

Morning Chronicle series on "Labour and the Poor" came to an official end, but as<br />

Thompson has argued Mayhew was transfamed by these events from a mere literary<br />

explorer into an aganizer and chronicla of the oppressions of tbe pax:<br />

It is reasonable to suppose that he had at first urulPrralen the<br />

'mea~litan commission' in the normal course of journalistic<br />

vocation: a serious and worth-while job, but at the same time<br />

a good money-spinaer, likely to last, But in a matter of weeks he<br />

had been totally seized by the problem and the seeds of the people<br />

who he was investigating. The discontents of the pocx of the world's<br />

largest metropolis beat upon the doa of his office. He heard and<br />

reported hundreds of life-stories, becoming the confessa and<br />

rector of the despairing and inarticulate ... in this way, a vocation<br />

had become a mission; and as he bumped up against one vested interest<br />

after anotha, whether in hard economic life a in academic political<br />

106<br />

Samuel, 52.<br />

lag Morning Chronicle. Oackr 31, 1850, 20.


armmy he was fad<br />

into a gram commiw ami leaduship." '09<br />

But as time went on, ''tk Ma*<br />

of the Morning Chronicle was already beginning<br />

to recede, and tk sonmht quahtt~ - but also mxe dramatic aad mxe readable -<br />

M a w of the street f& was taking his place. After amther decade a two, this was the<br />

only Mayhew that was reraembered - even pahap, by himself." "* Unofficially and<br />

now from his own office, Mayhew launched his own serial publication called t onah<br />

Labour und the London Poor, which first appeared on December 14,1850, but tkn it too<br />

stopped abruptly this time ova a financial displte with his pimers on February 21, 1852.<br />

The tailm had stood by him, because it was on their behalf that LIE break with tk<br />

Chronicle was first ma& TO publish his -penny<br />

weeLly pmphhs, Mayhw waked<br />

alongside Richard Knight, a salaried missionary of the LoaQn City Mission, and Henry<br />

Wood who, leaving the Chronicle along with Mayhew had made such a significant<br />

contribution to London Labour that Mayhew amsidered him to be c~le of its authors.<br />

Between 185 1-52, there was a palpable and overt sense of relationship between Mayhew<br />

and his audieace, which had originally been revealed through the Chronicle's<br />

coc~espondence cdurms.'" hnhn Lobour had d y just begun wkn Mayhew's readers<br />

asked him to answer their letters publicly. The "Answers to C o r r ~ . which "<br />

Mayhew printed on end papers, smumbd his wddy issues, but fiom the beginning<br />

Mayhew and his readas mght different aims. Mayhew saw the "Notices" as a platform<br />

for his own wak while his readers saw the "Answas" as a communication platform fa<br />

ideas, debates, contradictions, and coc~ections to borh his work and previous leners to the<br />

editor. It was an inmsely public dialogue: Ma*<br />

learned about his readm and they, in<br />

turn, leanred about each otha. Late in 1 85 1, Mayhew' s views on economics became a<br />

separate four-part publication called Low Wages: their Cause, Consequences and<br />

Remedies Il2, form& in part., in his "Answers to Cmespoadmrs".<br />

109<br />

Samuel, 50; quoted in Thompson and Yeo. 44.<br />

"I Mayhew was invited by the coalbearers 70 visit them at their houses whenever I should think<br />

fit" (Mayhew, XU: 251).


In ader to accomplish the task of his serial publication, Ma*<br />

rew~tked.<br />

expanded a d re-arranged much of the Chronicle's mataria1 oa the street-tracks fm his<br />

new publication. 0th new matarid was also created The cdlected rrurttr;d thn wem<br />

through several editions befae it was completed and published as a fow-volume wcxk in<br />

186 1-2, and it was then reprinted in 1864-65. Maybew's vision, as he stated in the<br />

Preface to Volume I, was to publish "tk history of a people, fiam the lips of the pmple<br />

themseives." l3 By 185 1, k had Qdicaced the first volume to Douglas Jarold "whom,<br />

knowing most intimately, the autha has learnt to love and honour most profoundly."<br />

Basic facts surrounding Mayhew's new pubiication, London Iabour, are relatively simple<br />

to gatha together but the historical process itself is more complex - fa Mayhew wrote<br />

a number of differeat texts ded Lon& tabour and the London Poor at different tinrec<br />

aod fcx different readas. As well, different publishers selected different parts of the<br />

original serial publications creating different editions, and diffkmt schdars have given<br />

different readings of M a w based upon an appeal to these different texts. In 1851-52,<br />

Griffin, Bdrn and Co. bound togetha two volumes of Mayhew's pamphlets as the I85 1<br />

edition of h don Labour with the cxiginal Setial numbas in the margins. But ova a 10-<br />

year span, Mayhew's publishers vacillated, finding Maytrew's material on prostitution<br />

problematic; some copies of the 185 1-52 edition of London Labour included Mayhew's<br />

treatment on prostitr~tion, others did wt. The 1861 Griffin & Co. threevolume edition<br />

omitted this material as well, but the 1 86 1 -62<br />

Bohn and Co. four-volume edition<br />

once again included the material on prastitution plus various contributions on thieves,<br />

swindlers and beggars.<br />

The 1861 and 1861 -2 London Lubour editions contairwl aew a d recycled material<br />

so that three volumes were now required. Lortdon bur Volume III wove together some<br />

of Mayhew's original Morning Chronicle laters (the last half of Volume III) with his<br />

interviews with street entertainers which came from the Great World ofLondm said of<br />

1 856. Mayhew reprinted descriptions of coal whippers, dock labouras, and hackney<br />

cabmen togetha with tk Morning Chronicle ankles on low lodging houses, vagrancy,<br />

and homelessness. "4 In akr wads. Mayhew's first three vd- of London Lobour<br />

113<br />

Mayhew, I, xiv.<br />

'I4 Williams, K*, 260.


examird a distinct aad diffaent group of "tho6e that will waY'. London Labour<br />

Volume N, which was largdy cdlabaative and examirwl ''the that will aor wak",<br />

was plblisbed in 1862. 'I5<br />

It comistsd of Mnytnv's han 37 pages, Heming's original<br />

15s pages on prostitution left unfinichal in 1852.'16 Bhy's ad Hailiday's essays on<br />

thieves and beggars, aod Revaend Tuclariess' survey on LonQa's<br />

charitable agencies.<br />

These four vdums comprised the histaiographic ca#m excluding The Criminal Prisons<br />

of bndun, but Mayhew's c~lltempaaries appeared to make no such division. Gccording<br />

to Karel Williams. Mayhew's publishx's catalogue, bound with the 186 1 -62 four-vdume<br />

edition of bn&n Ldwur, described Crimi~l Pn'sons as the ''companion vdume to tk<br />

preceding*" lL7<br />

The last twenty years of Mayhew's life - beginning with his German period until<br />

his death in London in Tavistock Garckns m July 25, <strong>1887</strong> - remain partly mysterious.<br />

In 1870, he appeared in Metz as a fdgn carepmht along with his son, Athol, who<br />

waked as a professional photograph%. lk<br />

following year he created a survey of<br />

working-men's clubs, Report Concerning the Trade and Hours @Closing Usual among<br />

the Unlicensed Victualling Establishmerrts Now Open for the Unresmkted Sale of Beer,<br />

Wine, and Spirits, as Certain So-Called "Working Men's Clubs", Dism'buted<br />

Throughout the Metropolis." Thee years befae his death, he and Atho1 produced<br />

L.undon Characters: nlustrations of the Humour, Pathos and Peculiarities of lonbn<br />

Life, a sseries of sketches, a part of which was drawn fiom the Chronicle's investigations.<br />

They also publiskd togaher a privately-printed bmk on Mowt Blonc. 'I8 At the time of<br />

Mayhew's death. the Illustrated London News cmmmmd:<br />

But of all of them being dead except Henry, who in his later years<br />

moved in rather a small circle, it was but natural that the wald<br />

should regard the literary Mayhews as extirrct. If the autha of<br />

"5 Mayhew had written mly the first 37 pages (Mayhew, IV: 37). Mayhew's c o l ~ twrote<br />

a<br />

another 155 pages leaving it unfinished in 1852.<br />

'I6 Mayhew, IV: 37.<br />

11 8<br />

Bradley, xxxi.


London Labour and the London Poor had died earha, many people<br />

would have been present at his furreral in Kensal-Green C m on Saturday<br />

last. As it was, those fa wbo6e cause be had so valiantly umtemkd<br />

seem to have fagotten him lg<br />

Regarding Mayhew's Morning Chronicle investigations, The British Quarlerly<br />

Review written in 1850 is worth quoring he:<br />

The publication of these letters has proved an epoch in our social<br />

history; and of the man by whom such a wmk of investigation<br />

was codved, and by whom it has been so far executed, it may sufdy<br />

be said in the mest sense of the fine dd Roman phrase, 'He has<br />

desaved well of his coumry.' Mr. MayIm"s primary object was<br />

simply to bring facts to light; to furnish, piece by piece, to tk Engiish<br />

public and the English legislature, a more thorough ad minute report<br />

than had ever befae been attemptad of the state of the wuking-classes<br />

and of the poor in London. Wben finished and thrown into the form<br />

of an encyclopaedia, alphabetically arranged, his 'Morning Chronicle'<br />

Lmas will form a wak unique in literature . . . a kiad of unofficial<br />

authority a chiefship in the meEcopolis. 120<br />

Not only did some of Mayhew's friends remember him this way as a kind of<br />

uoofficiai meuopditan chief but &so many ninereenth- and twentieth-century readers and<br />

historians remember Mayhew's London Lubour as "the thefulest and most vivid<br />

documentation of the ecommic and social problems, the customs, habits, grievances, and<br />

individual life experiences of the labouring people of the world's greatest city of tk mid-<br />

ninetenth-cenhrry." 12'<br />

Mayhew was deeply imaated in the world of the theatre and the<br />

burlesque as this chapter reveais. In conclusion, Henry Mayhew's hn&n Labour and<br />

Taithe, 2. Mayhew bad me very mcial prcdarsu* - Engels - but as Paul Thompo has<br />

argued "despite his popularity, Maybew had no direct successas" (Thompsoa, Paul, 1978, 36).<br />

The British Quanerly Review, May 11,1850,491493,491.<br />

''' Thanpsaa, 1967,445242; see also Paul Thompson. ed.. Tlre Victorian Poor, Landon. 1967.<br />

The later Great World and The Crimi~l Prisons (1862) were to examine another class of 'omwmkers',<br />

prostitutes, thieves, beggars, and swindlers.


the London Poor will always remain tk standard fa wxkmdbg tfre street Me of<br />

Victorian Loadon, and a paradigm fa u-<br />

the dynamic relationship benuam<br />

London's spatial envirommt and urban labarring ptm and waking-class<br />

consciousaess. As we move into C w 3, the dissatatioa turn to a small but very<br />

important chapter outlining the Menippean satire: its form, characteristics, and relevance<br />

to Mayhew's London La40ur. The dis~enation argues that the seemingiy fiagmemed<br />

issues, themes, and styles of Maytrew's histaical Qcument can be explained within the<br />

confines of this relatively unknown but impatant literary geme.


Chapter 3<br />

London -our<br />

and the London Poor: The Case for the Menippeon Satire<br />

The Menippean satire - more rarely calied the Varronian satire - was allegedly created by<br />

Menippus of Gadara (third century B.C.), a Greek cynic whose works are now lost.' Menippus<br />

had two important disciples, however, the Greek Lucian. and the Roman Marcus Varro who was<br />

recorded to have written 150 books of what he called Sarurnae Menippeae.' Vmo's works only<br />

survived in fragments, but the tradition of Lucian and Varro was carried on through Peuonius,<br />

and Apuleius, author of The Golden Ass. ' The traditional Menippean satire was treated in one of<br />

three ways according to Relihan. The Menippean satire developed mainly out of verse satire,<br />

which was most frequently used by adding prose interludes but it has now come down to us<br />

mainly as prose form with its incidental verse.' The Menippean satire is a form with its own 2,000<br />

year-old tradition even though contemporary scholars such as Relihan argued that "the bloom is<br />

off the rose of Menippean satire. What was once novel is [now] a somewhat discredited<br />

commonplace; the term has been long enough in vogue that it has been expanded beyond what<br />

many would consider its reasonable bounds, and its usefulness has justly been questioned."<br />

Mindful of Relihan's analysis, Chapters 4.5, and 6 will nevertheless argue that London Labour<br />

' Bakthin. Mikhail, Problems of Dostoevesky's Poetics. Edited and translated by Caryl Emerson.<br />

Introduction by Wayne Booth. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis. 1984.<br />

' Relihan. 49; Bakhtin. 1 12- 13.<br />

' Bakhtin. 1 13.<br />

Frye. 309. According to Relihan, two other developments included the restructuring or understanding of<br />

Menippus himself. which considered the genre a subdivision of the diatribe, and also "as a stylistic<br />

phenomenon known as prosimerrum"(Relihan, 3). Relihan separated out classical Mcnippcan satire from<br />

the confines of Cynicsm and verse satire. following Riikonen (1987). (Relihan, 3).<br />

' Relihan. 3.


preserved within it important Menippean characteristics even under modern pressures from the<br />

novel. " In fact, it absorbed the novelistic form, among other forms, into itself.<br />

The Menippean satire's existence can easily be demonstrated. according to the Canadian<br />

literary scholar, Northrop Frye: "No one will challenge the statement that the literary ancestry of<br />

Guliiver's Travels and Candide runs through Rabelais and Erasmus to Lucian. But while much<br />

has been said about the style and thought of Rabelais. Swift. and Voltaire, very little has been<br />

made of them as craftsmen working in a specific medium, a point dealing with a novelist we<br />

would not ignore."' Frye argues that: "Petronius. Apuieius, Rabelais, Swift, and Voitaire all use a<br />

loosely-jointed narrative form" relying on "the free play of intellectual fancy and the kind of<br />

humorous observation that produces caricature." "rye's<br />

argument can also be extended to<br />

include Henry Mayhew. If Mayhew had been a novelist primarily. his work on London Labour as<br />

a journalistic ''craftsmen working in a specific medium" ' with "its loosely-jointed narrative<br />

form," '" endless catalogues and lists, dialogues, humorous characterizations, and constant<br />

ridicule of philosophers and pedantic critics would not have been ignored. Therefore, starting<br />

with a theoretical examination of the structure and characteristics of Menippean satire I begin<br />

with Nonhrop Frye (1973) and Mikhail Bakhtin (1994). the two most important contemporary<br />

scholars of this relatively unknown genre. while I also rely heavily on Joel Relihan's study of<br />

Ancient Menippean Satire ( 1992).<br />

In his Anatomy of Criticism ( 19731, Frye distinguished four types of fiction that could occur<br />

alone or in various combinations with each other: novel, confession. anatomy, and romance. Of<br />

Frye. 308.<br />

7<br />

Frye. Nonhrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1973[ 19571.<br />

308.<br />

8<br />

Frye. 309.<br />

Ibid.


these four types. the term "anatomy" described the Menippean satire, a term which Frye<br />

considered misleading and is not. in all respects, appropriate to Mayhew:<br />

The Menippean satire deals less with people as such than with mental<br />

attitudes. Pedants, bigots, cranks. parvenus. virtuosi. enthusiasts,<br />

rapacious and incompetent professional men of all kinds. are handled in<br />

terms of their occupational approach to life as distinct from their social<br />

behaviour. The Menippean satire thus resembles the confession in its<br />

ability to handle abstract ideas and theories. and differs from the novel in<br />

its characterization, which is stylized rather than naturalistic. and<br />

presents people as mouthpieces of the ideas they represent. ... The<br />

novelist sees evil and folly as social diseases, but the Menippean satirist<br />

sees them as diseases of the inteilect, as a kind of maddened pedantry<br />

which the philosophus gloriosus at once symbolizes and defines."<br />

Importantly, Frye's "anatomy" was not described as a genre in the classical sense, it was a much<br />

broader literary classification that tended to blur distinctions between the novel, confession,<br />

romance. and anatomy. And he renamed the genre "anatomy", following Burton's Anatomy of<br />

Melanclzoly, to indicate to scholars that they should not identify immediately with the nuances<br />

peculiar to specific ancient texts." But beyond the world of classical scholarship, Menippean<br />

satire as a critical term has been used to discuss a vast genre of world literature, comprising the<br />

fulI range of seriocomic and learned fiction, and has denoted very generally a subversive<br />

combination of fantasy. learning and philosophic thinking." in other words, the genre of the<br />

'" Ibid.<br />

" Relihan. Joel. Ancient Menippean Satire. 1993.4; See Frye's analysis. 1957. 308- 12.<br />

I' Relihan. 5.<br />

13<br />

Ibid.. x.


During the Roman and Renaissance periods. the word "satire" meant either of two specific<br />

literary forms. one verse and the other prose but according to Frye. it meant "a structural principle<br />

or attitude." I'And in the case of the Menippean satire under discussion. the form and the attitude<br />

both applied to the same name. The term "satire" - as an attitude - combined fantasy and<br />

rnorafity, but it was more flexible, and could be either entirely fantastic or entirely moral - as a<br />

form - shading off into more purely fanciful discussions. The more purely moral type - a<br />

social utopia - was a serious vision of society as a single intellectual pattern. Is Sometimes this<br />

form became full length with more than two speakers as with Mayhew's use of multiple voices.<br />

The setting then was usually called a symposium or cem with strong Platonic influences, which<br />

stretched unbroken down through urbane conversations concerning everyday life, its opinions,<br />

ideas and cultures. '"n<br />

Mayhew's case, these urbane conversations appeared to be much closer<br />

structurally to Hogarth's eighteenth-century "conversation pieces", small groups of people joined<br />

together in conversation or some other action, a type of painting, following Pevsner, which the<br />

English were especially fond of." l7<br />

Frye defined the term "satire" as "irony which is structurally close to the comic: the comic<br />

struggle of two societies, one normal and the other absurd, is reflected in its double focus of<br />

morality and fantasy." In<br />

In his earlier 1944 article, "The Nature of Satire", Frye noted that there<br />

were two things essential to satire: "one is wit or humour, the other an object of attack". IY In the<br />

Amlomy, he added that the wit or humour was "founded on fantasy or a sense of the grotesque or<br />

" Frye. 310.<br />

Ibid.<br />

I" Ibid.<br />

l7 Pevsner. Nikolaus, The Englishness of English An. 1964 [ 19561.5 l .<br />

In Frye. Northrop. 1990, 149.


absurd," Imaginative fantasy alone then." according to Frye, "becomes the one essential element<br />

that elevates satire to a major literary form." ' The Menippean satire had other equally important<br />

characteristics. It was extroverted and intellectuai. argued Frye, while the novel tended to be<br />

extroverted and personal; its chief interest was in human character as it revealed itself in society."<br />

A Menippean satirist grappled with evil and foolishness as diseases more of the intellect. as a<br />

kind of educational madness while the novelist saw evil and foolishness more as social diseases."<br />

The Menippean satirist. in other words, 'strutted his stuff intellectually. He grappled with<br />

intellectual themes and attitudes. piling up as well as digressing upon an encyclopedic mass of<br />

information surrounding his story or overwhelming his scholarly targets with "an avalanche of<br />

their own jargon," as Mayhew did. The creative treatment of encyclopedic information<br />

combined with the analysis of evil and foolishness were two very important organizing principles<br />

in Mayhew's London Labour as we shall see. London Labour thus appears to have followed in<br />

the English tradition of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy that Frye argued was "the most<br />

comprehensive survey of human life in one book that English literature has seen since Chaucer.""<br />

In terms of defining this literary genre, Frye adopted the word "anatomy" to replace "the<br />

cumbersome and in modem times misleading "Menippean satire."" " Furthermore, he argued that<br />

Frye, Notthrop, 'The Nature of Satire," UTQ 14 (October 1944): 7589.76.<br />

'" Ibid.<br />

" Frye. 1973. 308.<br />

" Frye, 309.<br />

" Frye. 3 1 1<br />

" Ibid.; Frye stated: 'The word "anatomy" in Burton's title means a dissection or analysis. and expresses<br />

very accurately the intellectualized approach of his form"(Frye. 3 1 1 ).<br />

'' Ibid.. 3 1 1-12. Frye noted: 'The display of erudition had probably been associated with the Menippean<br />

tradition by Varro. who was enough of a polymath to make Quintilian, if not stare and gasp, at any rate call<br />

him vir Romanorurn eruditissimus" (Frye. 3 1 1 ); The tradition also continued in Martianus Capella and<br />

Boethius. as well as the Greek Julian (Relihan. 4-5): Relihan qualified his work as "Ancient Menippean<br />

Satire" because he meant "to speak of the specific relations among a limited number of texts, and to confine<br />

[himself] to the practical criticism of a genre that changes through time"(1bid.. 9).


"Menippean satire has no ancient sanction as a generic term,"'" that "there is no term to label a<br />

genre of literature until the sixteenth century, and I am free to attempt to make a meaningful term<br />

of it." " In fact, the only formal definition of satire preserved from antiquity spoke only of<br />

"morally corrective poems", according to Relihan." The popular belief that the Menippean satire<br />

was acknowledged in antiquity by this name as an "alternative convention" of satire was based on<br />

a misreading of Quintilian, he argued -historically,<br />

the term "Menippean satire" was not used as<br />

a generic term untiI 158 1. when Justius Lipsis wrote his Satyrs Menippea. Somnium. Lusus in<br />

noslri aevi critic~s.~ "Sarura" was an appropriate term for a mixture of prose and verse, which<br />

was first found in Lucian's work."' The Menippean satire, which parodied the practice of<br />

preaching was, on Roman soil at ieast, a parody of traditional satire in many ways, and militantly<br />

against authority. The loss of central authority in the Menippean satire, of the author's<br />

presentation of a single point of view, Bakhtin also noted, relating it to his dialogical principle."<br />

Relihan defined the term "genre" "as a body of [literary] conventions, in structures and in style, to<br />

which certain themes are more appropriate than others. The reader, aware of the conventions of<br />

the genre, pays attention to variations on these conventions. deviations from them, or simple<br />

compliance with them."" Relihan continued: "The point of the work is revealed in large part<br />

through the use of these conventions. The conventions themselves have a life of their own, obey<br />

an inner logic. and may be said to have a history independent of the text. One must look outside<br />

therefore, to the genre as a whole. in order to understand an individual work; by virtue of its<br />

" Ibid.. 9.<br />

" Ibid.<br />

'n Relihan. 12.<br />

Ibid.<br />

31' Frye, 1993, 13.<br />

" Frye. 17.<br />

" Relihan, 10.


generic affiliations, a text is not self-sufficient but makes sense in the context of its tradition1*."<br />

Historically. the Menippean satire began to merge with the novel, producing various hybrids. but<br />

the endless catalogues and lists, the dialogues. the characterization along humorous or<br />

carnivalesque lines. the narratives, and the constant ridicule of philosophers and pedantic critics<br />

were all central characteristic^.^ Relihan argued that only particular combinations of<br />

characteristics characterized the Menippea. whereas other combinations characterized only other<br />

related comic, or noncomic, genres." The Menippean satire - at its most concentrated -<br />

presented its readers with a world vision that had a single intellectual pattern. This intellectual<br />

structure made for "violent dislocations"<br />

in the way readers normally understood the logic of<br />

narrative or story telling. But this appearance of "supposed carelessness" 37, that resulted<br />

especially from first reading revealed more about the reader's tendency to judge by "a novelcentred<br />

conception of fiction" " than it did about the real structure of the work at hand. The<br />

importance of chronologica1 storytelling. as in the novel, is undeniable, but there are also other<br />

kinds of imaginative narratives that challenges the reader's perceptions of time and space<br />

including the Menippean satire.<br />

In Problems of Dostoevsky 's Poetics (1 984). Bakhtin documented the rise of the modem<br />

"polyphonic" novel, and crucial to its development, was the genre he called 'menippea*." '' The<br />

genre was essentially dialogic and comic; it was opposed to the monoiogic serious genres<br />

" Ibid.; See also Bakhrin. 106.<br />

Relihan. 3 12.<br />

'' Relihan. 5.<br />

'" Relihan. 3 10.<br />

" Ibid.<br />

" "id.<br />

'' Bakhtin. 132-47.


(tragedy. epic. history, rhetoric, the epistle). which took for granted "an integrated and stable<br />

universe of discourse." "' In this genre, the relationship of author to his readers that was cenual to<br />

the interpretation of the work. broke down. The narrator discovered that he "means more than one<br />

thing." and truth came about as a possibility that arose from the conflict of ideas. The polyphonic<br />

novel was a world of carnival, in which everything was turned upside-down. Carnival iife was<br />

more than "a mere safety value, deflecting attention from social reality," argued Natalie Davis in<br />

her study of sixteenth-century social life in France. She argued that "festive life can. on the one<br />

hand, perpetuate certain values of the community (even guarantee its survival), and on the other<br />

hand criticize political order. Misrule can have its own rigor and can also decipher king and<br />

state." "<br />

Socrates and Plato were also of great importance here. and Bakhtin postulated a prehistory of<br />

Menippean satire in which Menippus appeared as the only person who gave it fixed form. "<br />

Bakhtin, like Frye, cast his net wide: the diatribe. the soliloquy, the symposium, the novel and the<br />

utopian literature all developed under its influence. '3<br />

Sometimes Bakhtin was careful to<br />

distinguish between the genre and things merely influenced by it. while sometimes he was not. It<br />

seemed that the menippea could be viewed as an intellectual attitude adopted toward the value of<br />

truth and the possibility of meaning, as well as a particular world view, that might be revealed in<br />

a number of different genres. More importantly Bakhtin's attempt to define the genre in terms of<br />

a number of interrelated structural and thematic elements, most of which are also relevant to<br />

Relihan's more restricted study of the Menippean genre in antiquity is central to my approach to<br />

Mayhew. These characteristics - listed below - prove to be very important comparatively to<br />

- - -- - -<br />

*' Bakhtin. 6; quoted in Holland 1979. 36. n. l I.<br />

" Davis. Natalie Zemon. Society and Culture in Early Modem France. Stanford University Press. 1 975.<br />

97.<br />

'' Bakhtin. 6: quoted in Holland 1979.33. n. 12.<br />

'" For Bakhtin and his theories, see Todorov. 1984.


Frye's earlier discussions. and they are summarized as follows:<br />

( 1 ) As a genre of ultimate philosophic and religious questions. the Menippea contemplated<br />

the world on the broadest possible scale with fantasy and free invention following this.<br />

(2) The Menippea revealed an extraordinary freedom of plot and philosophical invention,<br />

and an independence from plausibility in its depictions: The most important characteristic of the<br />

Menippea was the creation of extraordinary adventures in which to test a truth or philosophical<br />

idea, which was embodied in the person of a wise man or sage. This accounted for the frequent<br />

journeys to heaven and hell. whose real purpose was the testing of an idea in the world. In<br />

Menippean sorire, the Odyssey was a series of more metaphysical quests where truth may be<br />

found."<br />

(3) The Menippea is characterized by an experimental fantasticality, which is very important.<br />

There is observation from an unusual point of view. typically from on high, as when Menippus<br />

looked down on the earth from the moon in Lucian's Icaromenippus. Visual representations of<br />

exotic places endemic to factual travel accounts also combine. This brings about a radical change<br />

in the way everyday life is observed as in London Labour. From its beginning, Mayhew opened<br />

London Labour with a broad theatrical sweep of London's street markets on a Saturday night as if<br />

one might imagine he is perched atop St. Paul's cathedral:<br />

Here, and in the shops adjoining, the working-classes generally purchase their Sunday's<br />

Dinner; and after pay-time on Saturday night. or early on Sunday morning, the crowd in<br />

the New-cut. and the Brill in particular. is almost impassable. Indeed the scene in these<br />

parts has more of the character of a fair than a market. There are hundreds of staIls, and<br />

every stall has its one or two lights: either it is illuminated by the intense white light of<br />

the new self-generating gas-lamp, or else it is brightened up by the red-smoky flame of<br />

Relihan. 33.


the oId-fashioned grease lamp. One man shows off his yellow haddock with a candle<br />

stuck in a bundle of fire; his neighbour makes a candlestick of a huge turnip, and the<br />

tallow gutters over the sides; whilst the boy shouting "Eight a penny, stunning pears!"<br />

has rolled his dip in a thick coat of brown paper. that flares away with the candle. Some<br />

stalls are crimson with the fire shining through the holes beneath the baked chestnut<br />

stove; others have handsome octahedral lamps; while a few have a candle shining<br />

through a sieve; these, with the sparkling ground-glass globes of the tea-dealers' shops.<br />

and the butchers' gaslights streaming and fluttering in the wind, like flags of flame, pour<br />

forth such a flood of light, that at a distance the atmosphere immediately above the spot is<br />

as lurid as if the street were on fire."<br />

(4) The Menippea is constructed on three levels (Olympus, earth, the underworld), which<br />

was a consequence of its wide-ranging philosophical univer~alism.~<br />

(5) The organic combination of fantastic, elevated, and even mystical or religious elements<br />

with the dregs of earthly life - robbers* dens, brothels, prisons and so on - was characteristic of<br />

slum naturalism. Bakhtin pointed out that slum naturalism was present in its fullest degree in the<br />

works of Petronius and Apuleius. As we shall see. Mayhew's adventures took place in<br />

marketplaces, bazaars, taverns. and slums as well as in prisons and dens of thieves." Mayhew<br />

collided with worldly evil, depravity, baseness, and vulgarity in their most extreme expression.<br />

(6) A wide use of inserted genres: novellas, letters, oratorical speeches, symposia, and so on,<br />

with varying degrees of distance from an authorial point of view, or parody is typical of the<br />

Menippea. Bakhtin here alluded to the mixing of prose and verse genres. The Menippea<br />

'' Mayhew, 9. See also Stafford, 1984.482.<br />

Jh Bakhtin, 1 14.<br />

47<br />

Mayhew recorded his visits to a den of thieves (Mayhew, IV: 31 1.316) and a rookery (Mayhew. IV:<br />

294).


penetrated large genres such as the novel and the encyclopedia. for example, subjecting them to<br />

certain transformations, mixing styles and tones. "What is coalescing here is a new relationship to<br />

the word as the material of literature." argued Bakhtin." In Menippean satire. the heroes of Old<br />

Comedy traveled to heaven and hell to find simple common sense answers; the genre championed<br />

common sense over chariatans, quacks and frauds. Humiliation followed pretenders to the truth.<br />

for the genre distrusted all philosophic systems. Furthermore, strange exotic languages and a<br />

great variety of styles were relied on; it dealt freely with personifications and abstractions."'<br />

These are important characteristics of Menippean satire but there are also important differences<br />

between Old Comedy and Menippean satire. When earthly problems proved insoluble in Old<br />

Comedy. the fantastic was invoked as a source of soiutions, and in the happy endings of comedy<br />

these solutions were found; but Old Comedy was not just present in Menippean satire - as a<br />

linguistic model and a thematic source for tales of the triumph of simple common sense over<br />

dogmatic formulations - it was also the source of specific plots. Old Comedy was the comedy of<br />

words. and comedy at the expense of words."<br />

(7) Violations of the established civilized norms of behaviour, including habits of speech '',<br />

words that seem inappropriate because of their "cynical frankness" and scandals were also<br />

typical of the Menippea. Such breaks in the normal order of the world freed human behaviour<br />

from the presuppositions that predetermined it. Moral-psychological experimentation and a<br />

representation of abnormal psychic states were observed: insanity of all son" split personality,<br />

Bakhtin. 1 18.<br />

'" Relihan, 33.<br />

"' Ibid.<br />

" Bakhtin. 117.<br />

" Ibid.<br />

'' Mayhew recorded his visit to the insane asylum. He stood at the window on an upper floor of the asylum<br />

looking down on the crowd of homeless men and women waiting for the door to open: "A few were<br />

82


unusual dreams, and so on. In Mayhew's case, as we shall see in Chapter's 2 and 4, bankruptcy<br />

and moral dilemmas destroyed "the epic and tragic wholeness of a person and his fate" *<br />

suggesting another person within. raising the question that characters do not coincide with<br />

themselves.<br />

(8) A greater imponance is given to the comic element in the Menippea than it is in the<br />

Socratic dialogue. The humour may be greatly exaggerated (as in Varro) or greatly reduced (as in<br />

Boethius). In the case of London Labour. the dialogic and comic are equally important.<br />

(9) The Menippea exhibits a love of sharp and oxymoronic contrast and abrupt transitions,<br />

unexpected comings together of distant and disunited things, and mesalliances of all sons.<br />

( 10) Elements of social utopias are common in the genre and are usually presented in the form<br />

of a journey to an unknown land. What functions did the adventure plot or quest fuffill in the<br />

whole of Mayhew's artistic designs To answer that question, according to Bakhtin, Leonid<br />

Grossman pointed to three basic functions concerning the novel. The adventure world expressed a<br />

very ancient trait: "the impulse to introduce the extraordinary into the very thick of the<br />

commonplace, to fuse into one, according to Romantic principles, the sublime with the grotesque,<br />

and by an imperceptibie process of conversion to push images and phenomena of everyday reality<br />

to the limits of the fantastic." ''<br />

( 1 I ) A concern with social and topical issues is often evident in the Menippea. Bakhtin spoke<br />

of journalistic overtones in the genre; and referred to the satires of Lucian as an "encyclopedia of<br />

without shoes: and these keep one foot only to the ground. while the bare flesh that has had to tramp<br />

through the snow is blue and livid-looking as half-cooked meat*' (Mayhew, III: 428).<br />

Bakhtin. 1 16.<br />

s5 Bakhtin. 85. 103. Yeo commented that this "'genre of literary rambles had much earlier roots in lighthearted<br />

and thrilling tours of quasi-criminal London. exhibiting its "cheats and villanies". still very much<br />

the subject of Tom and Jerry's camera obscura in 182 1 " ( 197 1.66). The introduction of an adventure world<br />

also guided the reader through "the labyrinth of philosophicai theories, images and human relationships",<br />

all packed together into an easy-to-read novel.


his times."<br />

a sort of Diary of a Writer. As a genre, it was especially relevant when disputes over<br />

"ultimate questions" had become an everyday phenomen~n,~ as was the case with Mayhew's<br />

concern with the impact of the Industrial Revolution SX and urbanism on the labouring poor in<br />

Victorian London.<br />

Bakhtin points to the essential unity of the Menippean satire over six hundred years of<br />

history. And although he did not consider all the different ways in which the various seriocomic<br />

genres were used, nevertheless Bakhtin created an important series of relations between<br />

Menippean structural elements and the corresponding search for newer ones. These interrelations<br />

between multileveled consuuc tion, stylistic and tonal variations, subsumed genres, the use of<br />

verse, mad characters, fantasy and voyages and thematic breakdowns of older notions of truth and<br />

order, were of course of crucial imp~rtance.~ In conclusion. both Frye and Bakhtin focused more<br />

on modem than ancient literature using Varro, Seneca, Petronius and Apuleis as a platform from<br />

which to leap into modem times. They both reiterated that much of what was strange in modem<br />

fiction belonged to an ancient tradition. Both claimed that the Menippean satire, however they<br />

had named it, had a profound influence on a wide range of other works. Both believed. like<br />

Re1 i han, that the Menippean satire "falls between the cracks of traditional literary categories."<br />

which is what had happened with London Labour. Frye argued: "A clearer understanding of the<br />

form and traditions of the anatomy would make a good many elements in the history of literature<br />

come into focus. . .. . In nearly every period of literature there are many romances, confessions,<br />

Bakhtin. 1 18.<br />

'' Ibid.. 1 19.<br />

5Wobsbawm described three periods of the Industrial Revolution: ( I ) 1780-1840. the classical age of the<br />

Industrial Revolution; (2) 1 840- 1890, capitalism's rule: and (3) 1890- 1939, the age of imperialism and<br />

monopoly capitalism (Hobsbawm. 1964.272).<br />

"' Relihan. 8.<br />

Relihan, 35.


and anatomies that are neglected only because the categories in which they belong are<br />

unrecognized." " Both of them agreed that a new relation of the author to the work was the issue.<br />

For Bakhtin. the Menippea expanded into the genre of the novel. "Thanks to this." Bakhtin wrote.<br />

"the genre of the Menippea was able to wield such immense influence - to this day almost<br />

entirely unappreciated in scholarship - in the history of the development of European novelistic<br />

prose."<br />

In terms of classical literary critici~rn,~ however, a serious and unfortunate consequence<br />

of their work (which this dissertation is not prepared to examine in any great detail) was that the<br />

ancient texts were themselves "deprived of a history". They were presented as one, and "that<br />

individual works were not so much subjected to analysis as used to exemplify elements important<br />

to the development of later literary traditions." When Bakhtin spoke of a "powerful and multibranched<br />

generic tradition," he did not, Relihan argued, contemplate the change in the classical<br />

genre through time, except to posit a prehistory for what he saw as a stable form."<br />

Inside classical scholarship. Relihan elaborated on three important aspects of Menippean<br />

satire - a fantastic narrative, the burlesque of language and literature. and practical jokes at the<br />

expense of academic learning - which were important to this discussion and to which we now<br />

briefly turn. The setting of Menippean satire was typically fantastic: such settings have been<br />

catalogued with "posthumous judgements, dialogues of the dead, divine assemblies, heavenly<br />

symposia, and sojorns in heaven or Hades." 65 In this fantastic setting, Menippean satire<br />

travestied important things (epic, myth, religion etc) using humour as a weapon towards literary<br />

and cultural authorities. Menippean sarire was true to the simplicity of its Cynic origins that<br />

" Frye. 1973. 3 12.<br />

h2 Bakhtin. 1 19.<br />

"' See Relihan, 8.<br />

Bakhtin, 1 15; Relihan. 8-9.<br />

" Relihan. 2 1-22.


maintained that "the simple life is best."<br />

It was not a great leap from this position to elaborating<br />

the characteristics of Menippean satire set forth by Bakhtin."' But it was important to see that<br />

fantasy served not only to undermine other forms of cultural and literary authority, but also to<br />

undermine the importance of particular Menippean satire itself. As Bakhtin points out, there is no<br />

consistent authorial point of view in Menippean satire. Menippean satire "tends to pull the rug<br />

out from under the reader." " Menippean satire created a narrator who was a fantastic<br />

experimenter. a traveler to impossible places and impossible sights to observe a world turned<br />

upside-down. Menippean sarire was not a comedy, and it had no happy ending." There was also a<br />

conventional Menippean ending, which bears some similarity to conventions of verse sarire. in<br />

that the lessons that were preached and taught in the narrative were eventually negated, or were at<br />

best, inadequate. Therefore, Menippean satire created an unreliable narrator, who was incapable<br />

of understanding all that he saw. He was oblivious to his own inadequacies and contradictions as<br />

he strove toward his intellectual goals.'"<br />

"Parodies of Platonic myth and writing are mpant" in Menippean satire, according to<br />

Relihar~.~' Moreover, Menippean satire was a parody of literature because it played with the<br />

traditional assumption of the author's control of a coherent work 7' using a multiplicity of styles.<br />

The genre was very tolerant of digressions whose sum total was a view of a universe - a<br />

universe which could not quite be understood. Vocabulary, dialects and grammar were as<br />

hn Relihan. 23.<br />

('' Ibid.. 22.<br />

" Ibid.. 23.<br />

'' Ibid.<br />

Ibid.. 22.24.<br />

'' Ibid.. 25.<br />

" Ibid.. 25-26.


fantastic as the actions they described, and alternated in "the wildest swings from grand to low<br />

style, from fustian to textbook simplicity. from the recherche to the banal." '' Parallel to the<br />

juxtaposition of language was the juxtaposition of relevant and seemingly irrelevant material -<br />

"the shocking juxtaposition of irreconcilable opposites" - which kept the narrative "from<br />

marching uninterrupted to its appointed ends." 7'<br />

There was more here than "the shocking<br />

juxtaposition of irreconcilable opposites" however. Frye also sought anatomy here, the ruthless<br />

compilation of facts and information observed with an ironic aye, and an attempt to get all of life<br />

between the covers of the book." 75 Menippean satire developed "philosophical formulations of<br />

the inadequacy of human knowledge and the existence of a reality that transcends reason; but in<br />

its origins the genre merely thumbs its nose at pretenders to the uuth by a denial that anything<br />

other than common sense is valuable or apprehensible." '" The world is, to the Cynic, irrational<br />

and incomprehensibie; even though Varro's massive erudition is displayed in "abstruse<br />

vocabulary, technical lists, etymologies. learned allusion. and philosophicaI arg~rnentation."~<br />

Viewing human folly from some great height was one of the genre's most important comic<br />

c~nventions.'~ In other words. the genre created characters who had achieved wisdom through<br />

reaching impossible heights through impossible means.<br />

Relihan submited that the various strange features of Menippean satire were logically derived<br />

from, and consistent with, a literary aesthetic that approved of the organic mixture of prose and<br />

verse in a single literary work. What transformed Old Comedy into Menippean sarire were the<br />

" Ibid.. 26-27.<br />

'" Ibid., 26.<br />

'' Ibid.. 28.<br />

7h Ibid., 29.<br />

Ibid.. 30.<br />

'' Ibid.


parody of the narrator and the narrator's quest (a gift of the Odyssey) and the parody of<br />

philosophical thought and philosophical genres, particularly those of Plato."j By insisting on such<br />

a literary form. Menippean satire was essentially "an antigenre. a burlesque of literature at<br />

large""' and therefore deeply anticultural. It played with "the underpinning of all ancient<br />

literature, the connection of aucror and auctoriras; in it the author is not a teacher. and it assumes<br />

no stable moral or didactic purpose. Thus the genre can be turned to specific parodies of those<br />

genres that are explicitly instructive: ... [as in] the encyclopedia in Vano (embryonically)."" In<br />

Menippean sarire, fantasy undermined interpretation of the frustration of reasonable expectations.<br />

and of irony. There was an unreliable narrator or source, no driving unity of purpose (hence the<br />

digressions), and no fixed point of view. Such a plot as there was was very sirnpte; rhetoric and<br />

persuasion were minimal. Because the genre strove for effect through impropriety, the author of a<br />

Menippean satire accused himself of a lack of respect for taste, tradition, and decorum, and this<br />

was usually translated into self-parody when the author identified himself with his narrator. Selfparody<br />

extended to the parody of the author's own knowledge. and the rejection of a11 dogma<br />

which the form implied led to the rejection of the author's ability to preach. Or even to<br />

understand. The narrator was central to the work only as the nexus of confusion." With these<br />

kinds of brief considerations. we can see that there was. following Relihan, a coherent Menippean<br />

tradition from Menippus into the Middle Ages.<br />

If, after reading this dissertation. the reader were asked to set down a list of the qualities that<br />

were memorable about Mayhew's London Labour, the list might reasonably look something like<br />

this; firstly. there is a richness and clarity with which the sights, sounds, spaces. and even smells<br />

of London's Victorian street life come to life in addition to the naturalness, diversity, localism,<br />

7v Ibid.. 34.<br />

'" ibid.<br />

'' Ibid.. 35.


and accuracy of the dialogues, and the immediacy and vividness of the street-folk themselves;<br />

second there is a constant obsession with encyclopaedic and exhaustive techniques as well as<br />

subject matter, which is used in highly intellectualized ways; third, the elaborate, charming and<br />

carnivalesque ways that Mayhew's nomadic characters parody civilized bourgeois Victorian<br />

patterns of thought and behaviour are certainly evident; founh, the revelation of characters.<br />

experiences, and events using dialogic interviewing techniques is noteworthy. It should not be<br />

difficult for the reader to see, as the dissertation unfolds. that these four points describe elements<br />

in London Labour, elements, which relate to the genre of the novel, satire and confession<br />

respectively. Lundon Labour is a complete Menippea. or more specifically, a genre of the<br />

carnival/grotesque (as in the illustrations in the Appendix and the humorous dialogue of Chapter<br />

5, etc. ). X3 HOW did this parricular literary genre actually work in practice, and how did ir fir info<br />

the history of documentation as well as reception This is why I introduce the question of genre.<br />

not simply to add a literary dimension to a complex prose documentation of urban life, but to<br />

explain its direct affect and ambivalence toward the subject itself as in the case of Mayhew's<br />

exhaustive documentation of "unreal facts" in relationship to a feeling of terror as well as fantasy<br />

(see page 108). At one level, Mayhew is trying to persuade his readers to accept his middle-class<br />

reformist values, but, in fact, what he creates is a tension between his poor and the middle-class<br />

readers. and that this inteltectual tension is central to the way Mayhew uses the Menippea. For<br />

Mayhew, the satirist. the genre of the Menippea (cornic/grotesque) was able to create a broad-<br />

brush, panoramic view of London from both inside and outside the city with the whole Victorian,<br />

middle-class world as its target. These, then. are some of these critical issues that are discussed in<br />

Chapters 4, 5,6.<br />

'' Ibid.


'' Relihan. 3 13-3 14.


Chapter 4<br />

Space-Wars and Exploitation in Mayhew's London<br />

(1) Introduction<br />

Through his scattered but detailed descriptions. Henry Mayhew in London Labour developed<br />

a theory of space in relationship to a theory of exploitation by focusing on how differing and<br />

opposed Victorian classes came to represent their lived experiences spatially. At one point he<br />

writes to his readers: "I have already portrayed to the reader the difference between the homes of<br />

the two classes - the comfort and well-furnished abodes of the one, and the squalor and bare<br />

walls of the other." ' Somewhere along the way in his travels. he hit upon a three-planed literary<br />

construction for London. From London's macadamized streets, to its lofty chimneys, to its<br />

underground sewers, Mayhew recorded his impressions of these vast spaces of London. Below<br />

goounnd' Mayhew wandered through 'hellish* sewer systems" ' aware that it was "dangerous to<br />

venture far into any of the smaller sewers branching off from the main."<br />

At street level. he<br />

analyzed the minurae of London's dust, din, and vermin. as well as its actual street construction.<br />

laws. and methods for cleaning. London Labour recorded London's embattled spatial terrain<br />

including everything from its housing, to its streets, and to its squares but it was also more than<br />

this. London Labour was a fantastic adventure quest set amidst extraordinary situations - from a<br />

Menippean point of view. Victorian city spaces. at one and the same time, were a tangible<br />

relational construction for Mayhew. They were, what David Harvey has called, "relational<br />

' Mayhew, 111: 22 1. Engels described St. Ciles as "situated in the most densely-populated part of London<br />

and is surrounded by splendid wide streets which are used by the fashionable world . . . Such dens of<br />

extreme poverty are often found close to the splendid mansions of the wealthy" (Engels. 33-34)-<br />

' Mayhew's ratcatchers and bugdestroyers also worked in dark places. In one of the most angular and<br />

obscure courts branching out into Chapel-street. Somers-town, Mayhew discovered "a perfect nest of ratcatchers"<br />

(Mayhew. 111: I ).<br />

' Mayhew. 11: 15 1.<br />

'' Ibid.


spaces". Social relationships were ordered within these lived spaces. that is. space was regarded,<br />

"in the fashion of Leibnitz, as being contained in objects in the sense that an object can exist only<br />

insofar as it contains and represents itself within relationships to other objects."<br />

Chapter 4 thus<br />

examines several problems concerning urban history that are framed by Mayhew's analysis of<br />

Victorian London's urban spaces - its docks. streets, marketplaces. houses. and railways -<br />

within the broader context of a developing new mass culture. But before plunging directly into<br />

Mayhew's descriptions and analysis of London's 'extraordinary' spacial situations. the<br />

dissertation establishes the broad historical conditions, both technological and social. of<br />

nineteenth-century England as well as the more specific historical setting and significance of<br />

London.<br />

(2) The Historical Setting of Victorian London<br />

The greatest migration of peoples in recorded history began in the nineteenth-century. and<br />

with it, the horrors of uncontrolled urbanization. From 1847-48, for instance. the catastrophic<br />

Irish famine uprooted 1% million out of a total 8% million people, producing a massive<br />

emigration to England's rapidly growing provincial towns and clusters of villages. It was in<br />

Liverpool, according to Mayhew. where "the tide of immigration flowed the strongest."<br />

Immigration coupled with industrialization uprooted generations from their traditional homes and<br />

workplaces, breaking down age-old local traditions and bringing about the emergence of a new<br />

middle-class.' And the ever-widening spatial segregation of nineteenthsentury city life began. in<br />

' Harvey. 16. 13. Space is understood here as the actual geographical-urban spaces of Victorian London.<br />

Regarding Liverpool. Mr. Rushton informed Mayhew: "Between the 13& Jan. and the 1 3h Dec.. both<br />

inclusive . . . 296.23 1 persons landed in this port (Liverpool) from Ireland. Of this vast number. about<br />

130.000 emigrated to the United States: some 50.000 were passengers on business: and the remainder<br />

( 16 1.23 1 ). mere paupers, half-naked and starving, landed. for the most part. during the winter. and became<br />

immediately on landing, applicants for parochial relief' (Mayhew. I: t 2).<br />

CIass existed in Marx's two senses: (1 ) according to the objective criterion of human relations to the<br />

means of production. especially as exploiters and exploited; (2) according to the subjective criterion of<br />

class consciousness. Marx and Engels defined the term "class" in the first sense to open the Communist<br />

Manifesro in what is called Marx's macro-theory. Class in the fullest sense only came into existence at the


part. here at the London Dock - "the very focus of metropolitan wealth."<br />

The Docks. together<br />

with its fleets, was part of Britain's greatest water-borne achievement. "So vast an amount of<br />

shipping and commerce had never been concentrated in any other single port." Mayhew claimed<br />

as he forced his readers to grapple with the reiationship between London's wealth and London's<br />

casual labour force with its inferior housing. He urged his readers to visualize London's Docks, to<br />

pass. in their imaginations, "from the quay and warehouses to the courts and alleys that surround<br />

them. and the mind is bewildered with the destitution of the one place as it is with the<br />

superabundance of the other. Many come to see the riches, but few the poverty, abounding in<br />

absolute masses round the far-famed port of London." "There are acres upon acres of treasure,<br />

more than enough, one would fancy. to stay the cravings of the whole world," he continued, "and<br />

yet you have to visit the hovels grouped round all this amazing excess of riches to witness the<br />

- - - -- - - - -- - -<br />

historical moment when classes began to acquire consciousness of themselves as such. (Genovese. 1984.<br />

13). Regarding the term '*class". Hobsbawm argued: "Class is not merely a relationship between groups. it<br />

IS also their coexistence within a social. cultural. institutional framework set by those above" (Genovese,<br />

2 I ). Regarding "subaltern". Hobsbawm also argued: 'The world of the poor, however elaborate, selfcontained.<br />

and separate. it is a subaltern and therefore in some sense incomplete world. . . . only because<br />

the initiative that changes conditions on a national scale comes from above or because the mechanism for<br />

diffusing ideas are generally outside". (Ibid.) The main characteristic of the bourgeois as a class was that it<br />

was "a body of persons of power and influence. independent of the power and influence of traditional birth<br />

and status" (Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Capital. 1848-1875. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1975.<br />

244). Working-class consciousness did not exist in 1778 or indeed during the French Revolution. For<br />

Hobsbawm: "It certainly came into existence between 18 15 and 1848. more especially around 1830. The<br />

very words 'working class' . . . occurs in English labor writings shonly after Waterloo. and perhaps even<br />

earlier. and in French working-class writing the equivalent phrase becomes frequent after 1830<br />

(Hobsbawm. The Age of Revolution. 1789-/848. New York: NAL. 1962,249). The most active, militant<br />

and politically conscious of the labouring poor were not the new factory proletarians but the skilled<br />

craftsmen. independent artisans. small-scale domestic workers, and others who lived and worked as they<br />

had done before the Industrial Revolution, but "under far greater pressure" (Hobsbawm. 1962. 253).<br />

Lefevbre stated: 'The proletariat. though predicated on the working class as the historical subject of<br />

alienated labour and living, was not an empirical category. It was a category of negation in both a critical<br />

and utopian sense. refemng to the fragmentation of human labour and existence and its dialectical opposite,<br />

the practical negation of existing conditions in their totality" (Lefevbre, 72-3). The labour movement was<br />

"rather a common front of all forces and tendencies representing the (mainly urban) labouring poor"<br />

(Hobsbawm, 1962,252). The labour movement began to emerge as a way of life during the first half of the<br />

nineteenth-century. and by 1848 the risings of the labouring poor were making the revolutionary demand<br />

for a new kind of society. "What was new in the labour movement of the early nineteenth-century was class<br />

consciousness and class ambition." argued Hobsbawm. "A specific class. workers. or proletariat. faced<br />

another. the employers or capitalist" (Hobsbawm 1962. 248).<br />

Mayhew. 111: 308.<br />

" Ibid., 302.


same amazing excess of poverty." Houses within the London Docks appeared to be "four times<br />

more crowded than in other parts of London, and more numerous by half as many again than<br />

those even in the low-rented district of Bethnai-green." The London Dock itself sprawled over<br />

ninety acres and three parishes of London, St-George's. Shadwell. and wapping." The docks<br />

were. according to Mayhew, "but one of six similar establishments - three being on the north<br />

and three on the south side of the Thames." " Another construction of docks, the West India<br />

Docks built in 1800'~. were the first docks ever built in London "about a mile and a-half from the<br />

London Dock" l3 on the north side of the Tharnes. Sprawling over 295 acres. they were nearly "3<br />

times bigger than the London Docks, and 12 times bigger than St. Katherine's." Here at the<br />

Docks - amidst "one of the most extraordinary and least-known scenes of this metropolis"-<br />

Mayhew also bore witness to the violent scramble for work. Among "masses of men" at "halfpast<br />

seven in the morning" at the gates of the London Dock, Mayhew reports that "many have<br />

gone there, and gone through the same struggle - the same cries; and have gone away, after all,<br />

without the work they have screamed for." '' The Tharnes. he theorized, was not only "the grand<br />

medium for carrying on the traffic of Great Britain in the world." It was also "the capital of an<br />

island which is a mere speck on the map of the earth, is centered and originated, planned and<br />

executed, so vast a portion of the trade of all the nations." He continued to draw word-pictures for<br />

his readers. He speculated that "in order to accommodate the whole of our merchant vessels. a<br />

dock of 15,000 square acres would be necessary." In other words. "there would be required to<br />

1 0<br />

Ibid. Mayhew recorded that "the cranes creak with the mass of riches" (Ibid.).<br />

!' Ibid.. 302.<br />

' Mayhew. 111: 65. According to Mayhew. the remaining docks included St. Katherine's Dock. the<br />

Commercial Docks and timber ponds. the Grand Surrey Canal Dock at Rotherhithe. the East Country Dock<br />

and the Regent's Canal Dock (Mayhew. 111: 3 1 I - 12).<br />

'I Mayhew. 111: 3 10. The warehouses for imported goods." according to Mayhew. %re on the four quays<br />

of the import dock. They are well contrived and of great extent. being calculated to contain 180.000 tons of<br />

merchandise; and there has been at one time on the quays. and in the sheds, vaults and warehouses. colonial<br />

produce worth 20,000.0001. sterling" (Ibid.).<br />

I' Ibid.. 304.


float them an extent of water sufficient to cover four times the area of the city of London. while<br />

the whole population of Birmingham would be needed to man them." " Mayhew concluded: "It<br />

would, perhaps. hardly be credited. that the value of the articles which our rnercantiie marine is<br />

engaged in transporting to and from the shores of the kingdom, amounts to upwards of one<br />

hundred million pound sterling. Such, then. is the extent of the external transit of this country.<br />

There is scarcely a comer of the earth that is not visited by our vessels." l6<br />

Britain's crowning transporntion achievement was the great trunk lines with their miles of<br />

iron tracks." The London to Birmingham Railway, engineered by Robert Stephenson in 1837.<br />

was the first great railway of the Victorian age with Euston tati ion" as its London terminus. In<br />

184 1, Bradshaw's national railway timetable, sporting its famous yellow wrapper, appeared<br />

inside the stations while inside the trains. Victorians 'whiled away the hours' reading the latest<br />

"yellow-back novels of G.P.R. James. Marryat and Mayne ~ eid.'~ There were 500 miles of track<br />

l5 Ibid.. 3 18.<br />

l6 1bid. Mayhew recorded: "From 500 to 800 vessels frequently arrive at one time in London after the<br />

duration of a contrary wind, and then such is the demand for workmen, and so great the press of business.<br />

owing to the rivalry among merchants. and the desire of each owner to have his cargo the first to the<br />

market. that a sufficient number of hands is scarcely to be found" (Ibid.. 3 12). Along the Thames, there<br />

were also new pier deveiopments: "Not only since the steam era have new boats and new companies<br />

gradually made their appearance. but new piers have sprung up in the course of the Tharnes from<br />

Gravesend to Richmond. Of these piers. that at Hungerford is the most remarkable, as it is erected fairly in<br />

the river: and on a fine summer's day. when filled with well-dressed persons. waiting "for their boat." it has<br />

a very animated appearance" (Ibid.. 335).<br />

" The Stockton and Darlington railway, according to Mayhew. was completed in 1825 when "steam-power<br />

was first used as a means of propulsion and locomotion on a railway" (Mayhew, 111: 322). According to<br />

EngeIs: 'The first of the important railways was the Liverpool and Manchester, opened in 1830. Today<br />

1 1 8451 all the big cities are linked by rail - London to Southampton. Brighton. Dover. Colchester.<br />

Cambridge, Exetcr (via Bristol) and Birmingham; Birmingham to Gloucester, Liverpool and Lancaster ...<br />

and also to Leeds ... Leeds to Hull and Newcastle via York" (Engeis. 23). Railways extended "upwards of<br />

12,000 miles, or four times the distance across the Atlantic." according to Mayhew. (Mayhew. 111: 32 1 ).<br />

'Thus we may conclude that each passenger has journeyed I7 !4 miles", Mayhew recorded, "and that the<br />

grand aggregate of travel by all the railway passengers of the kingdom will be 1.052.327.632 95 miles. or<br />

nearly eleven times the distance between the earth and the sun every year" (Ibid., 324).<br />

18<br />

Railway passengers approached Euston Station ( 1835-9) through the famous "Euston Arch." Euston<br />

Station reached back architecturally in history to the Greek propylaeum. while nineteenth-century arcades<br />

and railway spaces covered by a simple shed of metal construction interpenetrated its public space. (Dixon,<br />

Roger and Stefan Muthesius. Victorian Arcltirecrure. New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press,<br />

1978.99).<br />

l9 Altick. Richard D.. The English Common Reader. A Social History of the Mass Reading Public 1800-


y 1838.4.500 miles by 1840. and over 23.500 miles of railroad track by 1850.~~ Track was<br />

everywhere, " even below gound.= The national railway network. centred in London, and the<br />

Repeal of the Corn Law, in particular. substantially benefited the Port of London's import trade.<br />

which gave London a unique distribution trade advantage both internationally and nationally.l'<br />

Mayhew commented on the growing relationship between the railway and London's more<br />

spatiall y-extended markets:<br />

The facilities of railway conveyance. by means of which fish can be sent from<br />

the coast to the capital with much greater rapidity, and therefore be received<br />

much fresher than was formerly the case, have brought large supplies to London<br />

from places that beforehand contributed no quantity to the market. and so indeed,<br />

as I heard in all quarters of Billingsgate. an extraordinary lowness of price in<br />

this species of diet. This cheap food, through the agency of the costerrnongers,<br />

is conveyed to every poor man's door, both in the thickly-crowded streets where<br />

the poor reside - a family at least in every room - in the vicinity of Drury-lane<br />

and of Whitechapel, in Westminster, Bethnal-green. and St-Giies, and through<br />

1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Revised Edition I963[1957]. 299.<br />

"' There were speculative frenzies from 1835-37. especially 'he railway manias" of 1844-47 (Hobsbawm.<br />

1962.65). However, according to Mayhew. it was in 1845 that 'he rage for railway speculation was most<br />

strongly manifested" (Mayhew. 111: 322).<br />

' By the Iatc 1860s. the North Eastern Rail way controlled "every foot of rail between the Scottish border,<br />

the Pennine hills. the sea and the River Humber" (Dyos. 1973. I: 282-283).<br />

3 7<br />

" London's Underground opened in I 863. From 184 1 to I 85 I. rail ways formed within the metropolitan<br />

area were the Great Northern; the Camden Town and Bow; and the Northern Kent Lines. The extension of<br />

the Southampton Railway from Vauxhall to Waterloo-Bridge, as well as the Richmond Line were built<br />

during the same time but, according to Mayhew. "for these no cuttings have been made." By the end of<br />

June 1849. Mayhew recorded that the railways had carried 60.398.159 passengers (Mayhew, 111: 321 ).<br />

27<br />

Charles Booth wrote that London "is not only an unrivalled national emporium and world-market, but it<br />

is also the Mother-city of the Kingdom and of the Empire. . . . Everything can be bought in London, and<br />

therefore. everyone comes to buy. and the Metropolitan manufacturer himself finds his advantage as a<br />

buyer as well as seller in this great market. For London is as much an emporium for raw materials coming<br />

from all parts of the world. as for finished products" (quoted in Stedman Jones. 197 I. 160-6 1 ).


the long miles of the ~uburbs.'~<br />

But the railway's efficiency began to destroy London's urban spaces: "Cities were cut up . . .<br />

like so many pieces of pie."<br />

and the communities left intact were now cut off from one another<br />

by these very tracks. The railway's efficiency. in fact. began transforming whole neighbourhoods,<br />

following Dyos. Railway companies, like city planners. "mrnrned wide belts of lines and siding<br />

through city slums preferably where land costs and protests" were negligible, and beyond the<br />

railway's widespread technological and social ramifications, other social changes had taken place<br />

as well." The railway's mechanical efficiency began to replace natural rhythms of tide and wind.<br />

"I consider that the railways have injured me, and all wet fish-sellers, to a great extent,"<br />

complained a fresh-fish seller to Mayhew. "Fish now, you see, sir, comes in at all hours, so that<br />

nobody can calculate on the quantity that will be received - nobody. . . . Before the railways - and<br />

I never could see the good of them - the fish came in by the tide, and we know how to buy, for<br />

there would be no more till next tide. Now, we don't know+" "<br />

Apart from the railway and the docks, London itself became the most dramatic outward<br />

symbol of the nineteenth-cenmry capitalist ~ orld.~ By 1839, even though London had grown to<br />

688 square miles and rooghly 2 million." still people were on the move. Census repons of 1849-<br />

'" Mayhew. I: 62.<br />

Dyos. 1973. I: 212.<br />

" Ibid.. 282-3. 'The truth was that, here as ekewhere." writes Dyos, "the opening of the new rail way had<br />

simply increased the number of travelers who . - . obstinately preferred to travel by the streets. and to stay<br />

at least one night there" (Ibid., I: 21 2).<br />

" Mayhew. 1: 68.<br />

'' Concerning the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the population of industrial England. Engels<br />

stated: 'The face of the country has been completely changed . . . Lancashire's population has increased tenfold<br />

in 80 years: and many large towns have grown up there. Liverpool and Manchester, for example, have<br />

together 700.000 inhabitants. Near at hand are Bolton (50.000) inhabitants. Rochdaie (75,000). Oldham<br />

(50.000). Preston (60,000). Ash ton and Stal y bridge (40.000). These and many other factory towns have<br />

experienced mushroom growth" (Engels, 16). Engels also reported: "Between 1801 and 1844 the<br />

population of Birmingham rose from 73,000 to 200,000. while that of Sheffield rose from 46.000 to<br />

1 1 1.000 (Ibid.. 20).<br />

'9 Winter. James. London 's Teeming Streers. 1830-1 914. London and New York: Routledge. 1 994.55.<br />

According to Engels, the 184 1 census of London stated that its population was 1,949,277 (Engels, 23).


50 estimated that 2,363.14 1 people were t iving in London and the number of inhabited houses<br />

was 307,722," so that by the time of the 1851 census. city dwellers (51 per cent) began to<br />

outnumber Britain* s country folk.)' According to Stedman Jones. massive population increase<br />

was not paralleled, however, by the construction of additional housing in the centre of London;<br />

on the contrary, London's commercial and industrial developments were the primary reason for<br />

the removal of the working-class from the central area ." London's great expansion in the<br />

nineteenth-century. particularly in the 1830s and t 840s. was. in other words. due more to<br />

commerce than industry. Docks with their huge warehouses ", goods yards. railway line<br />

extensions Y. and new railway stations '' swept away certain residential areas. Godwin's Town<br />

Swamps and Social Bridges recorded:<br />

People have been driven in from the dwellings destroyed in Holborn, Clerkenwell<br />

and Spitalfrelds. and they have been thrust on the other population; huddled into<br />

any hole and comer they could put their head into - not from poverty, but from<br />

sheer want of any dwelling within reach of their work; respectable artisans,<br />

particularly among the class that work at their own homes, even makers of a little<br />

Mayhew estimated that there were 4 1.000 itinerants in London. 30,000 of these were costermongers (fish,<br />

fruit and vegetable sellers). 5.000 were manufacturers, and the rest were in greens, vegetables. and drinks.<br />

(Mayhew. I: 4); see David Alexander. Rerailing in England during the lndusrrial Revolution. University of<br />

London: The Athlone Press. 1970.65.<br />

30<br />

Mayhew. 11: 82.<br />

'' Hobsbawrn. 1975. 173. Victorian London had become W e largest city in the world. over twice as large<br />

as Paris. its nearest rival in 185 1 " (Stedman. Jones, 1973. 160).<br />

" -The warehouses for imported goods." according to Mayhew. "contain 180.000 tons of merchandise: and<br />

there has been at one time on the quays. and in the sheds. vaults and warehouses. colonial produce worth<br />

20,000,0001. sterling" (Mayhew, In: 304).<br />

.U<br />

Mayhew concluded that "we have of turnpike roads. railways. and canals. no less than 130.000 and odd<br />

miles. formed at an aggregate cost of upwards of 86.000.0001' (Mayhew, Ill: 327).<br />

In the 1830s. a new building type. the railway station. began with buildings such as King's Cross Station<br />

( 1850- 1852) and Paddington Railway Station (1 852-1 854). Their sheds eventually replaced some of the<br />

largest and finest of London's architectural examples of iron and glass construction (Hitchcock. Henry<br />

Russell, Architecrure: 19th and 20th centuries, Middlesex: The MIT Press, l963[ 19581, 12 1 ).


fancy articles and of part of watches. have been forced into the same dwellings<br />

with some of the worst class who have been driven from Field Lane and the<br />

slums near Sharp's ~ lle~.)~<br />

Mayhew discovered that "the population has diminished most of all in St. James's. and the<br />

houses the most in the City." " Mayhew reported. moreover. that suburban districts "such as<br />

Chelsea, Marleybone. St.Pancras, Islington, Hackney. Shoreditch, Bethnal-Green, Stepney,<br />

Poplar. Bermondsey, Newington, Lambeth. Wandsworth. Cambewell, Greenwich. and<br />

Lewisham. have all increased greatly within the last ten years. both in dwellings and people." ''<br />

Immense suburbs ". "unknown till recently." a according to Mayhew. branched off from "almost<br />

every street. labyrinths of courts and alleys. [are] teeming with human beings, [and] . . . almost<br />

every room has its separate family." " He estimated that along "200 miles of new streets" 42 built<br />

since 1839. "no less than 6405 new dwellings having been erected annually." *3<br />

he effect of new<br />

house construction, Mayhew claimed, was that "capitalists may in one year embark sufficient<br />

" Godwin. 1859.20.<br />

Ibid. Following Stedman Jones. between 1830 and 1856. New Oxford Street cut through St. Giles.<br />

Victoria Street cut through the rookeries of Westminster. Commercial Street cut throtigh Whitechapel.<br />

Farringdon Street, and New Cannon Street, and Victoria Street cut through the poorest. most densely<br />

populated parts of the City (Stedman Jones, 166). Furthermore. Stedman Jones argued: 'The building of<br />

New Oxford Street displaced over 5000 persons; it was estimated that the Farringdon Street clearances<br />

involved the displacement of up to 40.000 inhabitants" (Ibid.). Engels commented: "In London there is a<br />

well-known 'rookery' of St. Giies. which is to be demolished to make way for wide new thoroughfares"<br />

(Ibid.. 33).<br />

39<br />

Mayhew reported that there were also "remoter suburbs of Blackheath, Croydon. Richmond.<br />

Twickenharn. Isiewonh. or wherever thcrc are villa residences of the wealthy" (Mayhew. 11: 78). 'Two<br />

thousand miles of houses" had been built in London during the last twenty years. according to Mayhew<br />

(Mayhew. 11: 65).<br />

411<br />

hid. Asa Briggs described London as 'an urban jungle'. It was "a province covered with houses. its<br />

diameter from north to south and from east to west is so great that persons living in the furthest extremities<br />

have few interests in common; its area is so large that each inhabitant is in general only acquainted with his<br />

own quarter and has no minute knowledge of other parts of the town" (Briggs, Asa, Victorim Cities. New<br />

York: Harper & Row. 1963.332).<br />

4 I<br />

Mayhew, 11: 82.<br />

Mayhew. 111: 223.<br />

" Ibid.


means in building speculations to erect. say 500 new houses, in any particular distri~t.~ Mayhew<br />

argued that it was *a rage for building," " evoked. in part. by "the state of the money market." '<br />

were considered to be hot-spots of crime. disease, and the 'dangerous classes'. Nevertheless. the<br />

working-class "clung obstinately, regardless of discomfort to themselves, to the immediate<br />

neighbourhood, or at least within walking distance of it." "<br />

Victorians had been totally unprepared for the broad economic and social unrest coupled with<br />

the revolutionary technological changes that swept over England during the '30s and '40s.<br />

Politically. the revolutionary wave of 1830 had affected all of ~ uro~e~: more specifically. the<br />

British Reform Act of 1832 marked the final defeat of the aristocracy by bourgeois powers in<br />

Western Europe. Hobsbawm writes that "the ruling class of the next fifty years was to be the<br />

'grande bourgeoisie* of bankers, big industrialists, and sometimes top civil servant^.'^ " London<br />

was becoming an urban jungle, filied with a growing middle-class, the labouring poor, and a<br />

U<br />

Mayhew. 11: 2. Mayhew argued that "the inhabited houses in the five districts of the Registrar-General<br />

have increased to the extent of 45.000, or from 262.737 in I84 I. to 307.722 in 185 1 " flbid.). Engels<br />

commented on Manchester: "Builders who erected new houses put them up without regard to the situation<br />

of older neighbouring property. The tiny gaps which exist between the houses are called 'courts' for want<br />

of a more appropriate name. There is more evidence of planning in the rather newer parts of the Old Town<br />

. . . Here the spaces between the blocks of dwellings consist of regular - generally square - courts, from<br />

which there is access to the streets by a covered passage" (Engels. 65).<br />

J 5<br />

Mayhew. 11: 324.<br />

"" Ibid.<br />

47<br />

Stedman Jones. 197 1. 170. Stedrnan Jones argued that. despite a large growth in population, the<br />

industrial structure of London. and the geographical distribution of its inhabitants were little different from<br />

that of the eighteenth-century (197 1. 160). According to Mayhew. the Queen's ratcatcher, Jack Black. had<br />

a parlour that looked "more like a shop than a family apartment" (Mayhew. In: 1 1, 19).<br />

" Together with the emergence of the working-ciass in Britain. it marked a radical innovation in politics,<br />

which concluded with the defeat of the 1848 revolutions. In Britain, France. the German states and all of<br />

Italy. following Hobsbawm, "there has never been anything closer to the world-revolution of which the<br />

insurrectionaries of the period dreamed than this spontaneous and general conflagration" (Hobsbawm.<br />

1962. 139).<br />

"' Ibid. According to Hobsbawm. they were "accepted by an aristocracy which effaced itself or agreed to<br />

promote primarily bourgeois policies, unchallenged as yet by universal suffrage. though harassed from<br />

outside by the agitations of the lesser or unsatisfied businessmen, the petty-bourgeoisie. and the early<br />

labour movements" (Ibid., 353).


netherworld bulging with gangsters. tramps. prostitutes, and so on. This growing middle-class<br />

was highlycontrolied on the outside. and anxious and fearful on the inside - like the<br />

schoolmaster. Bradley Headstone. in Dickens* novel. Our Muruul ~riend.~ Writers expressed.<br />

most acutely, a kind of restlessness, ambivalence, and anxiety. "It was a strange isolation I then<br />

lived in.. . . recalled Carlyle. "In the midst of their crowded streets and assemblages. I walked<br />

solitary; and (except as it was my own heart, not another's that I kept devouring savage also). as<br />

the tiger in his jungle." 5' Charles Dickens captured a different but similar kind of experience:<br />

"Put me down on Waterloo Bridge at eight o'clock in the evening, with leave to roam about as<br />

long as you like, and I would come home. as you know. panting to go on. I am sadly strange as it<br />

is. and can't settle." '' Waiter Houghton believed that "Victorian society. particularly in the<br />

period before 1850, was shot through. from top to bottom, with the dread of some wild outbreak<br />

of the masses that would overthrow the established order and confiscate private property." 53 The<br />

political crisis came in 1848, according to him: "In February revolutions burst out on the<br />

continent. In March there were riots in London.. . . In April the government filled London with<br />

troops under the Duke of Wellington. . . . In June, the Houses of Parliament were provisioned for<br />

a siege. The strong measures were successful and the Chartist movement, already weakened by<br />

internal dissension collapsed. . . But the threat was revived by the Hyde Park riots in 1886. and<br />

the anxiety was kept alive by the existence of masses of dark, impenetrable, subterranean<br />

blackguardisms in the slums of every city." '' More than any other city, in the period after 1850.<br />

'" Ibid., 320.<br />

I' Carlyle. Sanor Resortus. The Life and Opinions of Herr Teu/elsdrockh. edited by Charles Harrold. New<br />

York: The Odyssey Press, Book 11.7, 1937[ 18371, 163-4.<br />

'' Christie. George Forstcr, 1939.69.<br />

" Houghton. Walter. The Victorian Frame of Mind 1830-1870. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1975.<br />

55.<br />

54<br />

Ibid., 55.<br />

55 Ibid., 58; Stedman Jones. 197 1,285.292; The word "mob" stemmed from the word "mobile". and<br />

British rulers had always regarded lower-class mobility as a threat. sometimes with good reason.


London also became a symbol of the problem of the 'residu~rn'.~~ *Pitted against the dominant<br />

climate of moral and material improvement however was a minority of still unregenerate poor:<br />

those who had turned their backs on progress. or had been rejected by it". argued Stedman Jones.<br />

"This group was variously referred to as 'the dangerous class', the casual poor or most<br />

characteristically, as 'the resid~urn*.~ ... however the 'residuum* was explained, its continuing<br />

existence was a source of increasing anxiety." " In his investigations on this subject. Mayhew<br />

felt. however. it was his "duty also to deny" 59 that the coal-heavers were "the dangerous classes."<br />

"So far as my experience has gone. I am bound to confess. that I have found the skilled labourers<br />

of the metropolis the very reverse, both morally and intellectually, of what the popular prejudice<br />

imagines them." 60<br />

Nineteenth-century Victorian London was huge. and seemingly impenetrable. Here was a city<br />

in which one could roam for hours "without leaving the built-up area and without seeing the<br />

slightest sign of the approach of open country." 6' According to information Mayhew had<br />

retrieved from "respective districts in the Registrar General's department," 6' London contained<br />

''74.070 statute acres." 63 These acres were developed into "garden. arable or pasture ground. or<br />

as road or street, or waste place. or enclosed yard or lawn." " In fact, "the whole ground is<br />

s6 Ibid.. 12.<br />

57<br />

Ibid.. I I.<br />

58<br />

Ibid.<br />

6l)<br />

Ibid. Mayhew stated: 'The unskilled labourers are a different class of people. As yet they are as<br />

unpolitical as footmen. and instead of entertaining violent democratic opinions. they appear to have no<br />

political opinions whatsoever; or, if they do possess any. they rather lead towards the maintenance of<br />

"things as they are," than towards the ascendancy of the working people" (Mayhew, 111: 232).<br />

6 l<br />

Engels. 30.<br />

Mayhew, 11: 203.<br />

" Ibid. Spacial comdon existed on land as well as water. There were halls "'extending from the street to the<br />

water-sideWwhere basket-men or foremen waited in turn "to clear the ship that is offered. "basket-men's<br />

rooms" where gang foremen remained on the job. and "depots" or floating piers used as "a receptacle for<br />

the tackle with which the colliers are unloaded" (Mayhew. 111: 236).<br />

M<br />

Mayhew, 11: 203.


already occupied for a thousand purposes of a great commercial city."<br />

Mayhew reported. In a<br />

city of more than 2 million - in a city, in fact. that was to exceed 5 rniIiion by the end of the<br />

century - people were ton apart psychologicafly. Engels noticed that people rushed past each<br />

other "as if they had nothing in common." ''They are tacitly agreed on one thing only - that<br />

everyone should keep to the right of the pavement so as not to collide with the stream of people<br />

moving in the opposite direction."<br />

According to Stedman Jones. Victorians were tom "between<br />

feelings of complacent pride" in London's size and wealth. and "feelings of dread" 67 at the<br />

terrible threat that London represented. The problem was not one simply of size. however- For the<br />

distance between the rich and the poor expressed itself as well in the ever-widening spatial<br />

segregation of nineteenth-century urban life. Employers and merchants no longer lived above<br />

their places of work 68. although the labouring poor such as London's dust-men. born and bred in<br />

London's East-End. stayed put working where they lived, sometimes never passing Temple Bar.<br />

In fact, within the confines of a two-mile radius of Temple Bar, characteristically well-to-do<br />

artisans as well as poor casual labourers lived within walking distance of their work during the<br />

1830s and I 840s.~~ Cabinet-makers worked in their own rooms. in Spitalfields and Bethnal-green.<br />

65 Mayhew, 11: 339.<br />

66<br />

EngeIs. 3 1. Engels also commented on the fact that what was true of London was "true also of all the<br />

great towns, such as Manchester. Birmingham and Leeds" (Ibid.).<br />

67<br />

Ibid.. 3 1.<br />

" Urban areas in late eighteenth-century European cities were divided into industrial quarters. commercial<br />

districts, and residential areas. and the great processes of differentiation began with the trend toward class<br />

isolation where the wealthy separated themselves out spatially from the lower classes. This multiple<br />

revolution in territorial space as well as social segregation. even if somewhat fluid and incomplete, yet<br />

interlaced by older craft patterns. became a central phenomenon of the large-scale urbanization of<br />

nineteenth-century England. and Victorian London. for its pan. was embedded within this larger urbaneconomic<br />

network (Rasmussen. Steen Eiler. London: The Unique City. Introduction by James Bon, The<br />

MIT Press: Cambridge. Mass.. l967[ 19371).<br />

69<br />

Stedman Jones. 197 1. 14. The lower middidupper working class was characterized by lack of economic<br />

independence or real property, insecurity. mobility. and vulnerability. The stereotypical representative of<br />

the lower middle-class small capitalist was the grocer who was assumed to be the natural enemy of real<br />

workers and artists. Merging into it from above, there was a class characterized by its palpable possessions;<br />

"limited. fragile, independence. and small-capitalist ideology - a petty bourgeoisie of big-city and smalltown<br />

tradesmen". as "shopkeepers, Icsscr intcllcctuais and professionals such as school-masters and<br />

notaries. and landowning, educated farmers" (Kunzle. The History of the Comic Strip. The Nineteenth<br />

Century. 1990.7-8). These characteristics were also imbued. often enough, with upward and downward


Mayhew recalled, and. sometimes two or three men "in different branches occupied one<br />

apartment." 'O<br />

Working scavengers also lived close to where they worked, &"in the<br />

neighbourhood of the dust-yards, occupying "second-floor backs," kitchens (where the entire<br />

house is sublet. a system often fraught with great extortion), or garrets." " Mayhew observed that<br />

bone-grubbers, rag-gatherers, and pure-finders usually lived "in small garrets in Bermondsey's<br />

poorer parts carrying on their trade in their own rooms, 'using and keeping the 'pure' there; hence<br />

the 'homes' of these poor men are particularly uncornfortable. if not unhealthy." '' Poor districts<br />

such as these became an immense terra incognim periodically mapped out by urban explorers<br />

such as Mayhew, who catered to urban traveller's insatiable demands for travellers* tales,<br />

especially stories of the feared East-End. "a huge city itself in all but name." ''<br />

mobility. combining conservative. liberal, and radical tendencies within them. The threat of sinking was<br />

conjured up in the Communisr Manryesro of 1848: 'The lower strata of the middle-class . . . sink gradually<br />

into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modern<br />

industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists. partly because their<br />

specialized skill is rendered worthless by new means of production" (Marx and Engels, 1955. 2.252:<br />

quoted in Kunzle, 1990. 8).<br />

7()<br />

Mayhew. 111: 224. Mayhew described the cabinet-makers as "a sober class of men. who seem so perfectly<br />

subdued by circumstances, that they cannot or do not struggle against the system which several of them<br />

told me they knew was undoing them" (Ibid.). Engels referred to Rev.G.Alston's statistics on Bethnai<br />

Green: "It contains 1,400 houses. inhabited by 2.795 families. comprising a population of 12.000. The<br />

space within which this large amount of population are living is less than 400 yards square, and it is no<br />

uncommon thing for a man and his wife. with four or five children, and sometimes the grandfather and<br />

grandmother, to be found living in a room from ten to twelve feet square, and which serves !hem for eating<br />

and working in" (Engels. 35) (my italics).<br />

" Mayhew declared that there were '262 men employed in the Metropolitan Scavenging Trade; one-half of<br />

these at least may be said to work 16 hours per diem instead of 12, or one-third longer than they should"<br />

(Mayhew, 11: 222).<br />

" Mayhew. 11: 226.<br />

73<br />

Mayhew. 11: 143. Mayhew recounted the familiar smell of poverty: 'The rooms of the very neediest of<br />

our metropolitan population. always smell of fish; most frequently of herrings" (Mayhew, I: 62).<br />

74<br />

Stedman Jones remarked: 'The old methods of social control based on the model of the squire. the<br />

parson. face to face relations, deference. and paternalism. found less and less reflection in the urban reality.<br />

Vast tracks of working-class housing were left to themselves. virtually bereft of any contact with authority<br />

except in the form of the policeman or the bailiff' (Stedman Jones. 197 1. 14). "Slum" is the root word for<br />

the modern meaning of the word "slum" which includes whole houses and districts in town and country<br />

that are low. unfrequented parts of town.


(3) Mayhew's Metropolitan London<br />

During the 1820s. the term "metropolis" was first applied to London as an entire region,<br />

rather than to the City, which was. of course. the oldest-inhabited part of London. Along Fleet<br />

Street. which runs from Temple Bar to Ludgate Circus, stood St.Bride's Church. the parish<br />

church used by Fleet Street newspapermen. Giltspur Street led into the open space of<br />

~rnithfield.'~ There. until 1855, was held St.Bartholomew's Fair, one of the great cloth fairs of<br />

England, as was Sturbridge. England's greatest fair.76 Alongside the cloth fair. Smithfield Few<br />

up to be London's main cattle rnarket or exchange. "Smithfield, or the Cattle Exchange".<br />

Mayhew recorded, "is the oldest of all the markets; it is mentioned as a place for the sale of<br />

horses in the time of Henry 11." 77 "Billingsgate. or the Fish Exchange," he continued. "is of<br />

ancient but uncertain era. Covent Garden - the largest Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Exchange<br />

- first became established as the center of such commerce in the reign of Charles 11; the<br />

establishment of the borough and Spitalfields market. as other markets for the sale of fruits,<br />

vegetables. and flowers. being nearly as ancient." '' During Smithfield's early days. "jugglers.<br />

'' Saunders. Anne. The A n and Archirecrure of London. An Illustrated Guide. Oxford: Phaidon. 1984.23.<br />

26.43. 160.<br />

i6<br />

McCullough, Edo. World's Fair Midways. An Affectionate Account of American Amusement Areas.<br />

From the Crystal Palace fo rhe Crys~al Ball. New York: Exposition Press, 1966. 18.<br />

77<br />

Mayhew. n: 26.<br />

78<br />

Ibid. Mayhew writes that the Royal Exchange dated '%om the days of Queen Elizabeth, and the Bank of<br />

England and the Stock-Exchange from those of William 11. while premises for the Corn and Coal Exchange<br />

are modern" (Ibid.). Mayhew commented on the fact that there were now two Clothes Exchanges. "the first<br />

one opened by Mr. Isaac being the most important. This is 100 feet by 70, and is the mart to which the<br />

collectors of the cast-off apparel of the metropolis bring their goods for cast-off sale." The second<br />

Exchange, known as Simmons and Levy's Clothes Exchange. was for "more especial business purposes,<br />

except in the mornings." Although in neither of these places "is there even an attempt at architectural<br />

elegance, or even neatness". it is "the eagerness. crowding, and energy" that are "the grand features of the<br />

scene" (Ibid.). The second Royal Exchange was also destroyed by fire in 1838 (Mayhew, 11: 47 1 ). Covent<br />

Garden Market (1 827-30) and the elegant Hungerford Market (1 830-33) were designed by Fowler.<br />

Hungerford Market became a lecture hall (1 85 1 ). suffered a fire in 1854. then in 1862. Charing Cross<br />

Railway Station was built upon the former site. The Royal Exchange with its open piaua stood in between<br />

Threadneedle Street and Cornhill. It had roughly 100 shops packed with merchants who used it as a<br />

meeting-place, and it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The third Exchange (1 84 1-44) still<br />

remains (Geist. Johann Friedrich. Arcades. The History of a Building Type. Trans tated by Jane New man,<br />

John Smith. Cambridge. Massachusetts: The MIT Press. 1983. 10). The New Exchange was one of the<br />

most important prototypes of the English arcade. directly influencing Samuel Ware's conception of the


--<br />

tumblers. musicians, ballad-singers. conjurers, stilt-walkers. bear-leaders, and other strolling<br />

entertainers frequented the fair." 79 More recent market spaces such as the Caledonian Market<br />

( 1855) were filled primarily with animal stalls " but the most spectacular Victorian marketplace<br />

was the Columbia Market built in 1869 by the Baroness Burden-Coutts. which was closed in<br />

1885. then demolished for flats between 1958 and 1966. Nicholas Pevsner described it as "easily<br />

the most spectacular piece of design in Bethnal Green. and one of the great follies of the<br />

Victorian Age."<br />

At one level. London Labour was perhaps an exhaustive description of life in<br />

London's bazaars - a teeming sphere of commerciai enterprise. Paxron's Crystal Palace, the first<br />

international bazaar, built in 1851, continued the tradition of London's bazaars, most of which<br />

were built during 1816 to 1840 '' between Oxford Street, Piccadilly. and the Strand. Thus London<br />

was the prototypical metropolis, the dominant polis. the center of a web of dependencies until the<br />

late nineteenth-century when London became the imperial city. Concentration and growth,<br />

interdependence. and diversity helped to shape the spatial images of London itself. But how,<br />

following Mayhew, did the pubIic and private spaces of Victorian London, and the relations of<br />

- pp<br />

Burlington Arcade (Ibid.).<br />

79 l3en Johnson. in his comedy. Banholemew Fair. recorded: "Buy any ballads! New Ballads! Hey! cries a<br />

woman ballad-singer who printed sheets for sale: and while she is singing to a gentleman a confederate<br />

tickles his right ear with a straw. causes him to raise his right hand from this pocket to rub his ear, and then<br />

pick his pocket" (McKechnie. Samuel, Popular Enrertainments through the Ages. New York: Benjamin<br />

Blom: New York, 1969. 3 1). Henry Morley recorded: 'The right of levying a toll. sometimes even a right<br />

of coinage. was derived by the clergy from the crown: and to this day, throughout Europe. no fair can be<br />

lawfully held. except by grant from the crown. The fairs of the most popular saints. to which men flocked<br />

from afar in greatest numbers. became their chief marts in every country" (Memories of Baflholemew Fair,<br />

i 968[ 18801. 15. 17). Improved transportation and communication eventually undermined. then superceded<br />

the early eighteenth-century fair with its wholesale function. Traders had waited until the return of the fair<br />

ro stock their yearly goods; they had traveling-clerks from all sorts of houses connected with their business<br />

waiting every month for their orders. Trade was now eventually handled by barges, fly-waggons. vans.<br />

stage-coaches. or steam packets (Bristol Fair, bur no Preaching!, 1823. 32); see David Alexander.<br />

Retailing in England during rhe lndusrrial Revolution. 1970.40).<br />

no<br />

Hobhouse. Hermione. Last London. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1972. 186.<br />

81<br />

Ibid. When Burdett-Coutts heard that there were plans to extend Billingsgate Market. she decided to<br />

found an open market for fish as well as other provisions. which would benefit East Enders, who were<br />

being excluded from the traditional markets. Though no tolls were charged, the scheme was opposed by<br />

anxious dealers established elsewhere who prevented wholesalers from supplying the market.<br />

'' Geist. 1983, 49.


production and reproduction get to be the way they were by the mid-nineteenth-century<br />

(4) The Public and Private Spaces of Mayhew's London<br />

Henry Mayhew urged his readers 'to think of the big picture' by reconstructing the smallest<br />

of detak8%e<br />

urged them "to reflect on the vast amount of traFf~c" rattling along the streets of<br />

London even as he examined the minutae of London's dust, dirt. and vermin".<br />

Think of "the<br />

70,000,000 miles of journey through the metropolis annually performed by the entire vehicles<br />

( which is more than two-thirds the distance from the earth to the sun)," he urged his readers.<br />

Think of "the enormous weights and friction continually operating upon the surface of the streets<br />

- as well as the amount of grinding and pulverizing, and wear and tear, that must be perpetually<br />

taking place in the paving-stones and macadamized mads of London." 86 Form "some mental<br />

estimate as to the quantity of dust and din annually produced by this means alone." " Bear in<br />

mind, he told his audience, the fact that every part of London is "on the average gone over and<br />

over again 40,000 times in the course of the year, and some parts as many as 13,000 times in a<br />

day".<br />

An omnibus driver told Mayhew that he "had driven his "bus" seventy-two miles (twelve<br />

stages of six miles) every day for six years, with the exception of twelve miles less every second<br />

Sunday. so that this man had driven in six years 179.568 miles." 89 The "total number of<br />

83<br />

Because Mayhew was fond of the panoramic effect. his readers could lose their sense of depth. becoming<br />

part of the same painted surface that surrounded them (paraphrasing Stafford. Barbara. Voyage into<br />

Subsrance: Art, Science. Nature. and rhe lllusrrated Travel Account. 1760-1840. Cambridge, Mass. And<br />

London: The MIT Press. 1984. 1 89).<br />

Mayhew. 11: 185.<br />

US<br />

London was. of course, rat-infested. Jack Black told Mayhew: "Rats are everywhere about London. both<br />

in rich and poor places. I've ketched rats in 44 Portland-place. at a clergyman's house there. There was 200<br />

and odd. . . . This. thinks I. isn't the right thing for Portland-place" (Mayhew. 111: 3 19).<br />

H6<br />

Mayhew. 111: 3 19.<br />

87<br />

Ibid.. 185. Mayhew believed that London's house dust and rubbish accumulated primarily from "the<br />

residuum of fires, the white ash and cinders, or small fragments of unconsumed coke" (lbid.. 166).<br />

Ibid.<br />

Mayhew. 111: 338. The surface routes of the omnibuses *lend to common centres" or *We great trunklines<br />

of the streets" (Ibid.. 336).


omnibuses traversing the streets of London is about 3000." Mayhew calculated, "paying duty<br />

including mileage, averaging 9l.per month each. or 324.0001.per ann~m.~ Each omnibus<br />

averaged "between forty-five and fifty miles a-day," he reckoned. "computing the omnibuses<br />

running daily at 3000." '' London's omnibuses. he computed, traveled "upwards of 1 40.0 miles<br />

aday. or a yearly travel of more than 50.000.000 of miles: an extent that almost defies a parallel<br />

among any distances popularly familiar." " Mayhew calculated that each acre of London<br />

received "6.272.640 square inches" of rain. which was "almost beyond the terms of popular<br />

arithmetic." He calculated that the metropolitan area was "in square inches, 4646 14,444,800.<br />

Now, multiplying these four hundred and sixty four thousand, six hundred and fourteen millions,<br />

four hundred and forty-four thousand, eight hundred square inches, by 23, the number of inches<br />

of rain falling every year in London . . . the "total quantity of rain falling yearly in the metropolis.<br />

[was] lO,686.132,230,4OO cubic inches." Yearly rainfall in the metropolis computed to<br />

"35,399,721,220 lbs.. or 172,053,447 tons." Mayhew concluded that "it would appear that the<br />

rain falling in London in the course of the year is rather more than double that of the entire<br />

quanrity of warer annually supplied ro the metropolis by mechanical means, the rain-water being<br />

to the other as 2.005 to 1.000 9' (Mayhew's italics).<br />

There were already a number of open public and private spaces in London by the<br />

seventeenth-century, each with its own particular character. There was St. James's Park where<br />

King and Court took exercise, and of course, Hyde Park and Moorfrelds with its "Walks" and<br />

open fields for archery and games. There was Vauxhall Gardens. the New Spring Garden (1661),<br />

the most famous of all the London pleasure gardens<br />

as well as Gray's inn and Lincoln's inn<br />

-<br />

Ibid. 338.<br />

" Ibid.<br />

" Ibid. Mayhew calculated that "the extent of steam navigation on the Thames, performed daily in the<br />

season. is no less than 8280 miles" (Ibid.. 336).<br />

93<br />

Mayhew. 111: 230.<br />

w Vauxhall Gardens closed on July 25. 1859 (Wroth. Warwick. The London Pleasure Gardens ofthe


with their gardens too. All the nobility as well as other wealthy families left the narrow smoky<br />

town inside the walls and moved to the open quarters nearer the parks, the country, and the court<br />

during the seventeenth-century. according to Rasmussen. London's first private squares were<br />

created in these selfsame "open quarters near the parks and the country." 95 .4t the same time as<br />

London's first private squares developed. it was also the first time an outward residential<br />

appearance. "classical in style and Italian in name," 96 was determined by the upper middle-<br />

classes. But who of Mayhew's street-folk. in the middle of the nineteenth-century, cleaned these<br />

*'comfortable. self-confident. and above all else, private garden squares of London" '' '"I think<br />

I've got the best side of the square," an aristocratic crossing-sweeper named Billy, told Mayhew,<br />

"and you see my crossing is a long one, and saves people a deal of ground, for it cuts off the<br />

comer. It used to be a famous crossing in its time - hah! But that's gone." " Billy recounted that<br />

not only was he born-and-bred in Cavendish-square but that he had also been "sweeping a<br />

crossing - for now near upon fifty year." * His former aristocratic customers, he told Mayhew,<br />

included the Duke of Portland, Lord George Bentinck "at the comer of Holly Street," "Prince E<br />

-. as lived there in Chandros-street. the bottom house yonder." the Earl of ~ ainsborou~h'~ also<br />

Eighteenrh-Century, Foreword by A.H.Saxon, Hamden. Connecticut: Archon Books. 1979[ 18961,286).<br />

During its peak. the Vauxhall Gardens. had a bandstand in the center. refreshments to the left. and the game<br />

and spectacle area at the rear of the gardens (Kyriazi. Gay. The Great American Amusernenr Parks. A<br />

Pictorial History. Citadel Press: New Jersey. 1976. 13). Vauxhall Gardens is now marked by Goding Street<br />

in the west. Oswald's Place in the east, Leopold Street and a small portion of Vauxhall Walk to the north.<br />

and Upper Kennington Lane to the south.<br />

'' Rasmussen. Steen Eiler. London: The Unique Cizy. Introduction by James Bone. The M.I.T.Press:<br />

Cambridge. Mass., l967[ 19371, 165.97.<br />

97<br />

Ibid.. 733.724. The Repon of the Royal Commission on London Squares (1 928) placed the building peak<br />

between 1800 and 1850: 'The activity on the development of London's garden squares reaches its height in<br />

the early part of the nineteenth-century. By 1850, practically all the well-known squares were completed"<br />

(Rasmussen, 733). The only new public park constructed in the metropolitan area, following Mayhew, was<br />

Bishop Bonner's Fields. now called "Victoria Park at the east end of town" (Mayhew, 11: 286). By 1860,<br />

upper middle-class garden squares were supplanted by semi-detached suburban houses with their little<br />

garden plots. (Rasmussen, 7 16).<br />

9s Mayhew, 11: 470.<br />

99<br />

Ibid.. 467.<br />

"*' Ibid., 468.


from Chandros-street, and Lady Miidmay from Grosvenor-square. But what constituted "the<br />

"property," so to speak. in a crossing, or the right to sweep a pathway across a certain<br />

thoroughfare" queried "one of her Majesty's Ministers" lo'<br />

in conversation with Mayhew. "What<br />

were the rights of property. in such cases, and what constituted the title that such a man had to a<br />

particular crossing Why did not the stronger sweeper supplant the weaker Could a man<br />

bequeath a crossing to a son, or present it to a friend How did he first obtain the spo~'~ lo'<br />

According to Mayhew. battles over the rights to sweep London's squares were literally at<br />

ground level. We read that there are "few squares without a couple of these pathway scavengers.<br />

such as Cavendish or Ponman. [where] every comer has been seized upon." lo'<br />

" We can scarcely<br />

waik along a street of any extent, or pass through a square of the least pretensions to "gentility,"<br />

*r 10,<br />

Mayhew observed, "without meeting one or more of these private scavengers.<br />

The streets and<br />

squares were policed spaces-<br />

the street scavenger's property rights were basically "under the<br />

protection of the police." For it was the poiice, Mayhew discovered. who decided that "he who<br />

was oftener on the ground was the rightful owner; and the option was given to the former<br />

possessor, that if he would sweep there every day the crossing sweep should be his." The 'start-up<br />

capital* was ~rnali,'~~ Mayhew realized. while the *fringe benefits' -"small weekly allowances<br />

of "pensions" '06 from sympathetic neighbours - could be substantial. Regular crossing-sweeps<br />

had "kept to the same spot for more than forty years" taking "up their posts at the comers of the<br />

-- -<br />

'"I Ibid.. 11: 468. 465.<br />

I"'<br />

Ibid.<br />

103<br />

Mayhew. 11: 466. Following Mayhew. the "scavagers. it seems. are not required to sweep any places<br />

considered "private," nor even to sweep the public foot-paths" (Mayhew. 11: 220).<br />

"* Mayhew stated: 'That portion of the London street-folk who earn a scanty living by sweeping crossings<br />

constitute a large class of the Metropolitan poor." Mayhew divided the crossing-sweeps into causal and<br />

regular labour. but taken "as a class. crossing-sweepers are among the most honest of the London poor-"<br />

Mayhew continued: 'They all tell you that. without a good character and "respect of the neiphbourhod."<br />

there is not a living to be got out of the broom" (Mayhew, 11: 465).<br />

"15 Ibid., 465.<br />

I(&<br />

Ibid. A crossing-sweep recalled, in conversation with Mayhew. one of the houses in his neighbourhood.<br />

"Now. there's Lord Fitzhardinge, he's a good gentleman. what lives in Spring-gardens, in a large house.


streets or squares" as "a kind of stand." Regular crossing-sweeps together with butlers and<br />

servants in neighbouring mansions worked symbiotically together. Sweepers are often employed,<br />

Mayhew records, "by the butlers and servants in the neighbouring mansions for running errands,<br />

posting letters. and occasionally helping in the packing-up and removal of furniture or boxes<br />

when the family goes out of town." Moreover. "... one or two of this class have for years been in<br />

the habit of having new suits presented to them by the neighbours at Christmas." Irregular<br />

sweepers fmd badly by comparison; young people -"boys and girls who have formed<br />

themselves into a kind of company"-<br />

worked together day-by-day on three or four crossings<br />

especially around Trafalgar-square Im. Crossing-sweeps. scavengers, dustmen. and nightmen<br />

comprised one broad class of sueet-finders ",<br />

according to Mayhew. while bone-grubbers, rag-<br />

gatherers, pure-finders, cigar-end. and old wood collectors formed another, and sewer-hunters<br />

and mudlarks. dredgers or river-finden, who worked underground, formed yet another.'" Below<br />

ground, Mayhew tracked how the sewer-hunters, working together "in gangs," marked "the<br />

points and bearings of the subterraneous roads they traverse" in order "to know their way<br />

underground." 'lo<br />

Mayhew knew first-hand that sewer-hunters had "to stoop low down in order to<br />

proceed. and from the confined space, there are often accumulated in such places, large quantities<br />

of foul air, which. as one of them stated, will "cause instantaneous death." ''I In fact, a sewennan<br />

Mayhew interviewed, had "a stoop in his shoulders" I" from "living so much in the<br />

He's got a lot of servants and carriages" (Mayhew. Il: 496).<br />

Irn Ibid.. 466.<br />

It18<br />

Mayhew, 11: 136, 149. Rubbish carters collected house-refuse, both 'wet slops' together with 'nightsoil'.<br />

and 'dry house-refuse, or dust and soot'. and street-refuse. both 'mud and dirt' and 'dry rubbish'<br />

(Mayhew. In: 28 1 ).<br />

"* Sewer-hunters "belong to the same degree. to the same class as the "mud-larks," that is to say. they<br />

travel through the mud along the shore in the neighbourhood of shipbuilding and ship-breaking yards. for<br />

the purpose of picking up copper nails, bolts and old rope" (Mayhew. 11: 150).<br />

110<br />

Mayhew, 11: 137. 'They must be familiar with the course of the tides, or they might be drowned at high<br />

water" (Ibid.).<br />

Ill<br />

Ibid.. 11: 15 1.<br />

'I2 Mayhew, 111: 20.


113<br />

"shores"(sewers). Dredgers or river-finders worked the same watery domain. Using the<br />

Hercules, the Goliath, and the Samson, to name but three of seven dredging-engines, they<br />

extracted ballast from the riverbed.' ''<br />

Landon Labour's 'hell' was as much a psychological state as a physical one. Just as<br />

crossing-sweeps from the squares. main thoroughfares. or public buildings11s fared better than the<br />

regular crossing-sweeps. rubbish-carters fared differently in different areas as we11."~ In<br />

Hampstead. in "out of the way" places. a rubbish-carter earned 8s.more a week than a rubbish-<br />

carter working in ~reenwich.'" Mayhew concluded: "One of the main causes of the deteriorated<br />

wages of the rubbish-carters is the system of contracting and subletting. This, however, is but a<br />

branch of the ramified system of subletting in the construction of the "scamped" houses of the<br />

speculative builders. The building of such houses is sublet, literally from cellar to chimney." 'I8<br />

Spatial isolation played its part too. Garret-masters railed against the system for they had "no time<br />

for social intercommunication.^'<br />

Neither did the chairmasters or colliers. Mayhew recorded<br />

that "the struggle to live absorbs all their energies, and confines all their aspirations to that one<br />

endeavour. Their labour is devoted. with the rarest exceptions. to the 'slaughter-houses,<br />

linendrapers, 'polsterers. or warehouses'." '" One man flatly informed Mayhew: "I work from 6<br />

every morning to 9 at night - some work till 10 - I breakfast at 8, which stops me for 10<br />

minutes. I can breakfast in less time, but it's a rest; my dinner takes me say 20 minutes at the<br />

I"' These dredging-engines were "now stationed respectively in Barking Reach, Half Reach near<br />

Dagenham. and the bottom of Half-way Reach off Rainharn" (Mayhew. 111: 269).<br />

Mayhew. 11: 466.<br />

116<br />

Mayhew, 11: 335. According to the Post-Office directory of 1 85 I. "under the head of "Rubbish<br />

Carters," 28 are given, 9 names being marked as "Dust Contractors*' and 10 as "Nightmen" (Mayhew. It:<br />

2 12).<br />

" Mayhew. 11.335.<br />

"* Ibid.<br />

119<br />

Mayhew, In: 224.<br />

"" Ibid.


outside, and my tea eight minutes. All the rest of the time I'm slaving at my bench. How many<br />

minutes* rest is that. sir 38." 12' Slaughter-house men'" who depended "entirely on the<br />

slaughter-houses for the purchase of their articles. with all the disadvantages that I described in a<br />

former letter" I"<br />

usually worked "seven days a week the year through." "' "Slaughter-house<br />

men" were a "special race of employers".'3 Mayhew reported. They were "aware of the inability<br />

of the garretmasters to hold out against any offer. no matter how slight a renumeration it affords<br />

for their labours." They continually lower "their prices until the entire body of the competitive<br />

portion of the cabinet trade is sunk in utter destitution and misery."<br />

~ a ~ h reported e w that '*a<br />

coalwhipper's life is one of debt and struggles - it is a round of relieving, paying. and credit." 12'<br />

One of them claimed: "We should have taken a stand fourteen years ago . . . against this system;<br />

r* 128<br />

but then we must live.<br />

In response to these grueling kinds of working conditions, Mayhew<br />

concluded: 'This excessive toil . . . is but one element of over-production.**9 Mayhew's 'hell*<br />

even had its colour. Everything about the labour of the coalwhippers. for instance, was black.<br />

including their hair, whiskers. "stubbly beards and moustachios." the sails, "the gilding in the<br />

figurehead of the vessei" except "a portion of the [coal-whipper's] nails" which was "the only<br />

spot of white discernible on their hands." I-''<br />

These diffzring kinds of urban shapes on the ground - "the doors, the staircases, the<br />

"I Mayhew. 111: 230.<br />

I" Ibid.. 229. One of the *'worst wharfs in London**. according to Mayhew. was called We slaughterhouse"<br />

by the coaIbackers themselves because even the strongest were worn out through excessive toil and<br />

could only "last twelve years at work there" (Mayhew. 111: 251-252).<br />

"' Mayhew. 111: 229.<br />

"'Ibid.<br />

Ibid.. 224.<br />

'" Ibid.<br />

I" Mayhew, 111: 24 1.<br />

IZR Mayhew. 111: 225.<br />

It9 Ibid., 230.<br />

I" Mayhew. 111.238.


alustrades. the window-frames. the room-skirtings. [and] the closets" "' that Mayhew described<br />

- were integral to the new class-based shapes in society. Ira Katznelson writes that "the analysis<br />

of working-class formation is in significant measure the study of how working people construct<br />

images and mental maps of the remarkably innovative spatial terrains in which they found<br />

themselves forced to work and to live." 13'<br />

" Classes," he claims "can no longer be thought of as<br />

unified and uniquely determined objects set in an abstract space-less realm . . . The relations of<br />

production and reproduction do not float above places. They are co-constituted within them.<br />

Space is a material product of given social and cultural formations. With all its multifaceted<br />

aspects, it is determined by the productive forces and the relations of production that stem from<br />

them." "' Mayhew too came to realize that even the spacial bballotrnent of gardens. which yield a<br />

partial support to the allottee. are another means of cheap labour." IY<br />

The allotment was "by no<br />

means a thorough employment, but merely an "aid," and consequentiy a means, to low wages",<br />

according to Mayhew. "Such a man has the advantage of obtaining his potatoes and vegetables at<br />

the cheapest ate. and so can afford to work cheaper than other men in his class." '" Among all<br />

the spacial formations constructed in London. beyond the streets and squares themselves. lay the<br />

terraces and semi-detached houses. They formed the largest group of any Victorian building, and<br />

more than any other kind of building they determined the character of Victorian cities including<br />

London.<br />

''I Mayhew. 11: 300.<br />

'" Ibid.. 205.<br />

"' Class and Space. The Making of Urban Space. edited by Nigel Thrift and Peter Williams. New York<br />

and London: Routledge & Kcgan Paul. 1987. 13. When the population of England and Wales was 24<br />

million, a quarter of the land in England was owned by a mere 1200 people, according to Stcdman Jones.<br />

(Stedrnan Jones. I97 1.30-3).


(5) Home Spaces of London<br />

Mayhew calculated that the total number of metropolitan houses belonging to the wealthy<br />

classes were 54,000. the number of middle-class houses were 90.000, and the number of "the<br />

dwellings of the poor and labouring classes" were 165.000.'~~ During 1841 -51. London's new<br />

house construction soared to 46.901 homes. particularly in the north and south district^.'^' During<br />

the same period. on average, Mayhew estimated that there were "200 houses annually pulled<br />

down in London"<br />

and St-Giles. 18 1<br />

with the total decrease in the City itself. 592 homes, the Strand. 389 homes.<br />

in many cases. Victorian slums were Georgian buildings. although<br />

the worst kind of early Victorian building eventually became slums as well. Particularly after the<br />

cholera outbreaks of the 1840s. concern for public heath led to attempts to provide better homes<br />

for the working class.'" The most characteristic expression of middle-class ideals was the small<br />

suburban detached house with its own garden in both the country as well as in the suburbs."'<br />

Hobsbawm argued that "the home was the quintessential bourgeois world, for in it, and only in it<br />

'.'"bid., 56. In terms of habitation. Mayhew recorded in 181 1 that "the number of inhabited houses in the:<br />

metropolis was 146.0 19, and in 1821 it was I64.948." By 1841. the number of "inhabited houses had<br />

increased to 262.737" and by 1849, the number was 307,722 (Mayhew, 11: 340).<br />

13' Mayhew. 11: 285. The Returns of the Registrar General. according to Mayhew. indicated that 9. 624 new<br />

houses were constructed in the West Districts. 13.778 in the North Districts, 349 in the Central Districts,<br />

8.343 in the East Districts, and 14.807 in the South Districts (Ibid.)<br />

Ibid.. 284.<br />

139<br />

Mayhew recorded that "greatly as suburban dwellings have increased. and truly as London may be said<br />

to have "gone into the country," the greater quantity of the large, excellent. unfailing. and cheap supply of<br />

the fruits and vegetables in the London "green" markets are grown within a circle of from ten to twelve<br />

miles from St.Paul'sW (Mayhew, 11: 339).<br />

''" The Society for Improving the Conditions of the Labouring Classes (1 844) supported by Lord Ashley<br />

built a block of "Model Houses for Families" in Streatham Street, Bloomsbury. in 1 849-50, near the British<br />

Museum. This trend-setting four-story brick and stucco block contained self-contained flats arranged<br />

around three sides of a courtyard. which allowed air and light into the back of the building. Open brick<br />

galleries with iron balconies created access and were intended. according to Henry Roberts, the architect. to<br />

give each family the privacy of its own front door, while at the same time separating the flats to prevent the<br />

spread of contagious diseases (Dixon. 72-3).<br />

I" Hobsbawm, 1975.47.


could the problems and contradictions of society be forgotten or artificially eliminated." '" '"The<br />

most immediate impression of the bourgeois interior of the mid-century," he continued. "is<br />

overcrowding and concealment, a mass of objects ... its objects. like the objects which contained<br />

them, were solid. a term used, characteristically, as the highest praise for a business enterprise.<br />

They were made to last. and they did." "' Yet for all their solidity. comfortable middle-class<br />

homes were situated on streets that smelled "like a stable-yard" lU and were perfect dust mills"lS<br />

on windy days. But the dust that penetrated suburban houses la<br />

was a small price to pay for<br />

comfort compared to the most alarming, working-class living spaces that the labouring poor<br />

inhabited. At one point in London Labour. Mayhew angrily told his audience, "Society men<br />

rented houses of their own - some paying 70l.a-year, and the non-society men [were]<br />

overworked and underpaid, so that a few week's sickness reduced them to absolute pauperism."<br />

147<br />

Mayhew described an amazing cross-section of housing spaces. They ranged from "half-a-<br />

dozen houses of the very smallest dimensions, consisting of merely two rooms, one over the<br />

~ther"."'~ to rat-infested houses "on the north side of the river" '" approximately "5 1 feet above<br />

the high-water mark of the ~harnes".'~ to a "parlour" that "was overpowered by the odour of the<br />

"'Ibid.. 230-1.<br />

lJ3 Ibid.. 23 1.<br />

I44<br />

Mayhew. 11: 195. Mayhew commented: "Strangers coming from the country frequently describe the<br />

streets of London as smelling of dung like a stable-yard" (Ibid.) Three loads of London horse-dung -<br />

between Nash's Quadrant in Regent-street and Oxford-street. which was only 1/3 of a mile - was removed<br />

daily (Ibid.). A "regular frequenter of Smithfield market." told Mayhew that the best way to calculate the<br />

annual number of droppings from "1.67 1,300 sheep. calves. and pigs yearly coming to the metropolis". was<br />

to multiply "1,673,000 Ibs., or 7220 tons." divide by 4, to arrive at "1 805 tons per annum" (Ibid.).<br />

I45<br />

Mayhew. 11: 183. "Even around such places as the Repent's-park. Mayhew stated. "at many seasons<br />

this dust is produced largely, so that very often an open window for the enjoyment of fresh air is one for the<br />

intrusion of fresh air" (Mayhew. 11: 189).<br />

146<br />

Mayhew, 11: 183. According to a Board of Health Report. "the excess of dust arising from the imperfect<br />

scavenging of the roods and street" cost somewhere "between two and three millions sterling per annum"<br />

in the wear-and-tear of extra washing" {Ibid.).<br />

147<br />

Mayhew. 111: 22 I ,<br />

I48<br />

Mayhew, 11: 144.<br />

149<br />

Ibid.<br />

Ibid., 39 1


ats." Is'<br />

In Bethnal Green, Mayhew interviewed a penny mouse-trap maker who lived as a<br />

cripple in "a little room" about the "size of a hen-house" Is' adjoining a small cottage at the back<br />

of the road. Climbing boys sometimes slept in "barracks (large rooms), or in the ceIlar (where the<br />

soot was kept); some never slept upon anything that can be called a bed." "%ayhew<br />

discovered<br />

a coalwhipper who "resided in a wretched part of Wapping, called, appropriately enough. "the<br />

Ruins" where some houses had been pulled down forming an open space "at the end of a narrow<br />

rr 154<br />

airless alley.<br />

Slums or districts of the low lodging-houses for the poor. Mayhew found<br />

primarily in St.GiIesTs and Wentworth-street, Whitchapel. as well as Dnrry-lane, Gray's-inn<br />

Lane. Chancery Lane. Bloomsbury, Saffron-hill and ~estminster."~ Surprisingly Rubbish caners<br />

"abodes" were not generally crowded in with the poor.1s According to Mayhew. they lived "off<br />

the Edgeware and Harrow-roads. as buiIding has been carried on to a very great extent in<br />

Westbourne, Maida-hill. &c.; in Portland-town, Carnden-town, Sorners-town, about King's-cross;<br />

in Islington, Pentonville, and Clerkenwell; off the Commercial and Mile-end roads; in Walworth,<br />

Camberwell. Kennington. and Newington." Is'<br />

Is' Mayhew. 111: 20.<br />

'" Ibid.. 2 1.<br />

153<br />

Mayhew. 11: 252. Mayhew recorded: 'The circumstances and character of the chimney-sweeps have,<br />

since Parliament "put down" the climbing boys, and undergone considerable change. The sufferings of<br />

many of the climbing boys were very great. They were often il l-lodged. iIl-fed. barely-clad. forced to<br />

ascend hot and narrow flues. and subject to diseases - such as the chimney-sweep's cancer - peculiar to<br />

their calling" (Mayhew. 11: 137).<br />

15' Mayhew. 111: 243.<br />

Is' Mayhew. 1: 25 1-2. Compared to the middlc-class xnse of morality and space. *'in some [low-lodging]<br />

houses considered of the better sort, men and women, husbands and wives, old and young. strangers and<br />

acquaintances. sleep in the same apartment. and if they choose, in the same bed" (Ibid.. 257).<br />

IS6<br />

Mayhew, 11: 295.<br />

157<br />

Ibid. Mayhew recorded Charles Booth's comments on the effects of smoke on housing districts. "I<br />

think," said Mr-Booth. "one great effect of the evil of smoke upon the dwellings of the poor; it renders<br />

them less attentive to their personal appearance. and in consequence. to their social condition" (Mayhew,<br />

11: 342). Mayhew stated that the poor who lived in "St-George's-in-the-East and the neighbowhood of Oldstreet,<br />

St.Luke'sW do not wash their clothes because the air is so full of soot that they cannot hang out their<br />

clothes to dry (Ibid.).


Costerrnongers lived a little differently: sometimes they freely chose to live in "the yard" "'<br />

even though they normally controlled their own district's living spaces. as did the ~ews."~<br />

According to Mayhew, costers usually resided "in the courts and alleys in the neighbourhood of<br />

the different street-markets." IM 'They themselves designate the locality where." writes Mayhew,<br />

"so to speak. a colony of their people has been established. a 'coster district.' and the entire<br />

metropolis is thus parcelled out. almost as systematically as if for the purposes of registration." 16'<br />

New Cut (Larnbeth) ranked first, then Whitcross Street. then Leather-lane, Drury Lane. Petticoat<br />

and Rosemary Lane, and Camden own."^ Petticoat-lane itself comprised its own geographic<br />

area of 23 streets; according to Mayhew: "It embraces Sandys-row, Artillery-Passage, Artillery-<br />

lane, Frying-pan-alley, Catherine Wheel-alley, Tripe-yard . . . until the wayfarer emerges into<br />

what appears the repose and spaciousness of Devonshire square. Bishopsgate-street, up Borer's-<br />

lane . . . or into Houndsditch through the halls of the Old Clothes Exchange." '" Visually,<br />

Petticoat-lane was a panoramic "vista of many coioured garments, alike on the sides and on the<br />

ground," I" which presented "a scene which cannot be held in any other part of the greatest city<br />

of the world, nor in any other portion of the world itself." '65 Mayhew recorded, with<br />

"' Ibid. A chimney-sweeper who had been a servant-maid revealed to Mayhew: "Here are the stables and a<br />

couple of blind alleys. nameless. or bearing the same name as the yard itself. and wherein are huddles more<br />

people than one could count in a quarter of an hour. and more children than one likes to remember"<br />

(Mayhew. 111: 47).<br />

159<br />

Mayhew. 11: 39. Out of 35.000 Jews. 18.000 lived in the East-End of London where "their numbers were<br />

sufficient to institute a "settlement" or "colony'"' (Ibid.. I 18). Jewish neighbourhoods. where wholesale and<br />

retail traders lived. were also isolated East-end "settlements" or "colonies" "peculiar to themselves" (Ibid.)<br />

160<br />

Mayhew, 11: 28.<br />

16' Ibid.<br />

16' Mayhew. 1: 47.<br />

163<br />

Mayhew, II: 10. In Petticoat-lane. the headquarters of second-hand trade. traffic was the most enormous<br />

amongst its dark alleys (Mayhew. I: 26). Street-buyers worked "the more secluded courts. streets and<br />

alieys" or called "periodically at certain places to purchase articles" which were usually sold "at the door or<br />

within the house" (Mayhew, 11. 104, 103).<br />

I65<br />

Ibid. Monmouth-street. the great old shoe dismct. had been sketched by Dickens "as to its general<br />

character and appearance" (Mayhew. 11: 35). Dickens stated: 'The stranger who finds himself in 'The<br />

dials" for the first time, and stands. Belzoni-like. at the entrance of seven obscure passages, uncertain


characteristic detail, that all "these narrow streets. lanes. rows, passages. yards, courts, and places,<br />

are the sites of the street-trade carried on in this quarter. The whole neighbourhood rings with<br />

street cries. many uttered in those strange east-end Jewish ones which do not sound like English.<br />

Mixed with the incessant invitations to buy Hebrew dainties, or the "sheepest pargains." is<br />

occasionally heard the guttural utterance of the Erse tongue. for the "native Irish," as they are<br />

sometimes called, are in possession of some portion of the street-traffic of Petticoat-lane, the<br />

original Rag Fair." " Rosemary-lane also had "its off-streets." 16'<br />

Mayhew recorded. such as<br />

"Giass-house-street, Russell-court. Hairbrine-court. Parson's-court. Blue-Anchor-yard, Darbystreet,<br />

Cartwright-street, Peter's-court. Princes-street. Queen-street. and beyond these and in the<br />

direction of the Minories, Rosemary-lane becomes Sharp's-buildings and Sparrow-corner. There<br />

are other small non-thoroughfare courts. sometimes called blind alleys, to which no name is<br />

attached."<br />

(6) Street Spaces of London<br />

Spacial corridors called streets were themselves a contested spacial domain.Ib9 London's<br />

streets numbered over 10,000, according to Mayhew's calculations.'" Parallel to the Thames ran<br />

which to take. will see enough around him to keep his curiosity and attention awake for no inconsiderable<br />

time." Dickens continued: "From the irregular square into which he has plunged. the streets and courts dart<br />

in all directions. until they are lost in the unwholesome vapour which hangs over the house-tops. and<br />

renders the dirty perspective uncertain and confined" (Mayhew. 11: 35). For a further description of secondhand<br />

store shops. see Mayhew's record of Dickens's comments on p. 24.<br />

166<br />

Mayhew, 11: I I.<br />

'15' Mayhew. 11: 39.<br />

Ibid.<br />

'" Mayhew records that "'there were 200 miles of new streets formed within the metropolitan police district<br />

between the years 1839-49" (Mayhew. 11: 286). Mayhew documents Mr. Law's comments in his 'Treatise<br />

on Constructing and Repairing of Roads": "Of late years wood has been introduced as a material for paving<br />

streets. and has been rather excessively employed both in Russia and America. It has been tried in various<br />

parcs of London. and generally with small success. the cause of the failure being identical with the cause of<br />

the enormous sums being spent annually in the repairs of the streets generally, namely, the want of a proper<br />

foundation" (Mayhew, 11: 182).<br />

170 Mayhew. 11: 184. Peter Cunningham's "Handbook of Modern London" asserted that the rneuopolitan<br />

streets. "if put together. would measure 3.000 miles" (Ibid.). Regarding the amount of London traffic,<br />

Mayhew recorded that there were 1500 licensed omnibuses, 3000 licensed cabs. and 21.214 horses in 1849-


"two great lines of streets," roughly six miles each. 'I<br />

One line of streets extended "along<br />

Oxford-street. Holborn, Cheapside, Cornhill, and Whitechapel to the Regent's-canal, Mile-end,"<br />

while the other stretched "from Knightsbridge along Piccadilly, the Haymarket, Pall-mall East,<br />

the Strand. Fleet-street, Watling-street. Eastcheap. Tower-street. and so on by Ratcliffe-highway<br />

to the West India Docks." 17'<br />

"With its thousands of miles of streets and roads on the surface, and<br />

its thousands of miles of sewers and drains under the surface of the earth," ' Mayhew focused<br />

not only on these corridors themselves but also on the upkeep from a sanitary, social. and<br />

economic point of view.<br />

I74<br />

Not surprisingly. London's street-work was "elaborate and costly.""5<br />

The City of London's streets were about 50 miles long,"6 and beyond that. adjoining them<br />

directly were "I00 miles of paved streets" In<br />

plus there were an additional "200 more miles in the<br />

*t 178<br />

less central parts of London, following information received from the Surveyor to the City<br />

Commission of Sewers. Mayhew realized that, outside their own parish, London's inhabitants had<br />

a vested community interest in keeping up "the condition of other streets besides their own."<br />

"Besides the inhabitants of Regent-street. for instance, all the riders in the 5000 vehicles that<br />

daily pass through that great thoroughfare are affected by its condition." People who lived along<br />

-<br />

50. Furthermore. Paris traffic did not "even amount to one-half of what it is" in London. (Ibid., 184-5).<br />

171<br />

Mayhew. 11: 184.<br />

"' Ibid.<br />

173<br />

Mayhew. 11: 179.<br />

"' Ibid.<br />

f 75<br />

Mayhew, 11: 278. M ayhew re cords: "Streets tra ail y by what Cowper. even in his day. de scribed<br />

as "the ten thousand wheels" of commerce - is an elaborate and costly work (Ibid.). Mayhew also<br />

documents: 'We have ascertained the length of the streets of London - we have estimated the amount of<br />

daily, weekly, and yearly traffic -caIculated the quantity of mud, dung. "mac," dust, and surface-water<br />

formed and collected annually throughout the metropoIis" (Mayhew, 11: 207).<br />

I76<br />

Mayhew. 11: 27 I. The surveyor also calculated "about 5 1 miles lineal. about 770.157 superficial yards in<br />

area" (Ibid.). With the addition of the "precincts of Bridewell. St.Bartholomew, St.Jame's. Duke's-place,<br />

Aldgate. and others, have been added to the jurisdiction of the Sewers Commission by Act of Parliament."<br />

the Surveyor estimated 'the area of the carriage-way of the City of London at 44 1.250 square yards, and<br />

the footway at 328,907. making a total of 770,157 square yards" (Ibid.).<br />

177<br />

Mayhew. 11: 27 I.<br />

178<br />

Mayhew, 11: 201. Mayhew calculated that 'the 50 miles of the City may be safely calculated as yielding<br />

daily 1% load of street mud per mile" (Ibid.).


Regent Street, Mayhew realizes, had "to bear the cost of keeping that street in good repair and<br />

we1 lcieansed, for others ' benefir us well ar for their ~ ~vn"."~ City traffic was like the tide. The<br />

first flood came and went from 1 1 A.M. to 2 P.M., then the second flood rose gradually again till<br />

5 P.M..'~ and every day London's greatest traffic jams occurred on London-Bridge where 13.000<br />

"conveyances" passed over the bridge - every 12 hours."' Mayhew had calculated some<br />

fantastic figures about London's traffic, which has already been mentioned in part:<br />

We have merely to reflect upon the vast amount of traffic just shown to be<br />

daily going on throughout London - to think of the 70,000,000 miles of journey<br />

- through the metropolis annually performed by the entire vehicles (which is<br />

more than two-thirds the distance from the earth to the sun) - to bear in mind<br />

that each part of London is on the average gone over and over again 40.000 times<br />

in the course of the year, and some parts as many as 13,000 times in a day -<br />

and that every horse and vehicle by which the streets are furnished, the one with<br />

the four-ironed hoofs, and the other with the iron-bound wheels - to have an<br />

imperfect idea of the enormous weights and friction continually operating upon<br />

the surface of the streets - as well as the amount of grinding and pulverising<br />

taking place in the paving-stones and macadamized roads of London; and thus<br />

we may be able to form some mental estimate as to the quantity of dust<br />

and dirt annually produced by these means alone.18'<br />

179<br />

Mayhew. 11: 20 1.<br />

1M0<br />

Mayhew, 11: 280.<br />

"I Ibid. After dusk. the streets of London could not be traversed "without lanterns or torches*' (Mayhew. 11:<br />

180.) Mayhew reminisced that this was "the case until the last 40 or 50 years in nearly all the smaller towns<br />

of England. but there the darkness was the principle obstacle; in the inferior parts of "Old London,"<br />

however. there was the additional inconveniences of broken limbs and robbery" (Ibid.). In fact. the first<br />

experiments in modem public gas and electric illumination took place in the iron-bracketed lanterns. which<br />

illuminated London's Royai Opera Arcade. (Geist. 35).<br />

''' Mayhew, 11: 185.


The care of the streets generally-speaking was left "to the corporations and the parishes." Is'<br />

99 Is4<br />

while sewers remained "the object of national care.<br />

Recent improvement. according to<br />

Mayhew. seemed "to have established itself gradually from the improved tastes and habits of the<br />

people," Ia5<br />

although the streets of the poor, Mayhew discovered. were rarely swept at all until the<br />

turn of the century. According to Mayhew even streets "of the better order were often flooded<br />

during heavy and continuous rains, owing to the sewers and drains having been choked." "The<br />

sewage forced its way through the gratings into the streets and yards. flooding all the<br />

underground apartments and often the ground floors of the houses, as well as the public<br />

thoroughfares with filth." '" Cowper's ironic description of "going by water." was. in fact, how<br />

his contemporaries perambulated "some of these streets." '" What Mayhew also documented was<br />

the transition between manual and machine labour. Some streets were always cleaned manually<br />

-"St. Martin's-court; the flagged ways about the National Gallery; and the approach. alongside<br />

the church, to the Lowther Arcade; the pavement surrounding the fountains which adorn the<br />

"noblest site in Europe" and a variety of passages, yards. and minor streets."'"<br />

But street-<br />

machines had begun to clean "public thoroughfares under the control of the Commissioners of the<br />

18.1<br />

Mayhew, 11: 180. Historically. Mayhew discovered through examining he records of all civic<br />

corporations*' that legislation 'ordered that the streets should be swept" but these orders were not enforced<br />

"until after the great fire of London" (Ibid., 179). Mayhew recorded: "From the reign of Henry 111. down to<br />

the civil war which terminated n the beheading of Charles I., mention is more or less made of the<br />

combatants having availed themselves of the shelter of the rubbish in the streets. These mounds of rubbish<br />

were then kinds of street-barricades. opposing the progress of passengers. like the piles of overturned<br />

omnibuses and other vehicles of the modern French street-combatants" (Ibid.).<br />

184<br />

Mayhew, 11: 180. The 1848 Metropolitan Commission of Sewers was responsible for London's sewers<br />

with the exception of the Court of the Sewers of the City of London.<br />

I" Ibid.<br />

186<br />

Ibid. Mayhew recorded: "On the I " of August, 1846. after a tremendous storm of thunder. hail. and rain.<br />

miles of the capital were literally under water; hundreds of publicans' beer-cellars contained far more water<br />

than beer, and the damage done was enormous" flbid.).<br />

187<br />

Ibid., 179.<br />

188<br />

Mayhew. 11: 239. Mayhew believed that "the first mention of a scavenger in our earlier classical<br />

literature. is by Bishop Hall, one of the lights of the Reformation, in one of his "Satires." 'The Oath of<br />

Scavengers. or Scavengers, of the Ward" were sworn "on the Gospel": "Ye shal swear. Thatye shal we1 and<br />

diligently oversee that the pavements in every Ward be we1 and rightfully repaired. and not haunsed to the<br />

noyance of the neighbours; and that the Ways. Streets. and Lanes. be kept clean from Donge and other


Woods and Forests, running from Westminster Abbey to Regent-circus in Piccadilly. and<br />

including Spring-gardens, Carlton gardens. and a portion of the West Strand." '" By 1843. streetorderlies<br />

'" had also begun to take care of Regent-street between the Quadrant and the Regentcircus.<br />

and along Oxford-street between Vere-street and Charles-street. 191<br />

Besides street corridors, there were also canals that were "the most immediately connected<br />

with the interior pan of the metropolis." 19'<br />

On these canals, especially the Paddington, the<br />

RegentVs, and the Surrey," '9%arges plied to-and-fro loaded with "30 to 40 tons" '% of street-<br />

manure. Mayhew calculates the loads of manure or street mud. as we11 as defining them.<br />

Filth. for the Honesty of the City" (Mayhew. 11: 206).<br />

Ibid.. 238.<br />

190<br />

Street-Orderlyism was first "a new mode of improving "the health of towns." and secondly, "an<br />

improved method of employing the poor*' (Mayhew. Il: 257).<br />

19' Mayhew. 11: 259. Mayhew records that one man was "assigned the care of a series of courts, a street. or<br />

500, 1000. 1200. 1500 or 2000 yards of a public way. according to its traffic, aftcr the whole surface has<br />

been swept "the first thing in the morning" (Ibid.). "In Oxford-street, for instance. it has been estimated."<br />

Mayhew documents 'that 500 yards can be kept clear of the dirt continually being deposited by one man; in<br />

the squares. where there is no p t traffic, 200 yards: while in so busy a part as Cheapside. some nine men<br />

will be required to be hourly on the look-out" (Ibid.).<br />

192<br />

Mayhew. 11: 201. The Thames was more than a commercial conduit for world trade. It was also a watery<br />

medium for pagenay. Mayhew recalled Charles Knight's description in Knight's book called "London":<br />

In the time of Elizabeth and the first James. and onward to very recent days. the north<br />

bank of the Thames was studded with the palaces of the nobles: and each palace had<br />

its landing-place. and its private retinue of barges and wherries; and many a freight of<br />

the brave and beautiful has been borne. amidst song and merriment, from house to house,<br />

to join the masque and the dance. and many a wily statesman. muffled in his cloak.<br />

has glided unseen in his boat, to some dark conference with his ambitious neighbour<br />

(Mayhew. 111: 327).<br />

On the river's north bank. Mayhew reported that. for about 200 years, "all the magnates of the metropolis.<br />

the king, the members of the royal family. the great officers of state, the Archbishop of Canterbury. the<br />

noblemen whose mansions had sprung up amidst trees and gardens on the north bank of the Thames, the<br />

Lord Mayor, the City authorities. the City Companies. and the Inns of Court, all kept their own servants.<br />

attired in their respective liveries" (Ibid.). Mayhew stated: 'The Thames ... was then the principal arena for<br />

the display of pageants. These pageants, however. are now reduced to one - the Lord Mayor's show"<br />

(Ibid.. 328).<br />

193<br />

Mayhew, 11: 201.<br />

1%<br />

Ibid. A barge of street-manure contained 'about one-fourth (more or less) "rnac." or rather "rnac" mixed<br />

with its street proportion of dung, &c., and three-founhs mud. dung. &c., contains from 30 to 40 tons, or as<br />

many loads" (Ibid.).


According to Mayhew. the manure or "street mud from the Hayrrwrket" 19' was a "1% load each<br />

wet day the year through." He also calculated that "Fleet-street, Ludgate-hiit, Cheap-side,<br />

Newgate-street, the "off' parts of St. Paul's Church-yard. Cornhill, Leadenhall-street. Bishopsgate-street,<br />

the free bridges. with many other places where locomotion never ceases, are in<br />

proponion to their width. as productive of street mud as the Haymarket." '% Mud. the scavengers<br />

told Mayhew, was "all that is srvepr from the granite or wood pavements. in contradistinction to<br />

"rnac." which is both scraped and swept on the macadamized roads." '" But it was "mac". above<br />

all eke. that had particular stay-power.<br />

198<br />

"Mac" stuck like glue: it was "the most adhesive street-<br />

din known." Mayhew recorded that on "busier macadamized roads" near "the interior of<br />

London" 20' it was commonplace to collect "two can-loads" '02 for every mile of road. But for all<br />

the problems of living with mud, mud transformed life out of death. "Out of the London mud<br />

come the London cabbages," wrote Mayhew. "So that an improvement in the scavaging of the<br />

metropolis tends not only to give people improved health, but improved vegetables: for that<br />

which is nothing but a pestiferous muck-heap in the town becomes a vivifying garden translated<br />

to the country." "beath also mysteriously extended the dust-men's own lives. During London's<br />

Ibid. Mayhew recorded that in the Haymarket. "which is about an eighth of a mile in length. and 18<br />

yards in width. a load and a half of street-mud is collected daily (Sundays excepted). take the year through<br />

Ubid.).<br />

Mayhew. 11: 201.<br />

19' Ibid.. 197. "Mac** was principally "the grinding and pounding of the imbedded pieces of granite. which<br />

are the staple of those roads" (Ibid.). "Mud in high-spirits" was how Miss Landon characterized London's<br />

street din. (Mayhew. 11: 183).<br />

19' "It IS, perhaps, the most adhesive street-dirt known." Mayhew believed. "Mac was kneaded and worked<br />

"into a paste" by London's street traffic (Ibid).<br />

'W Ibid.<br />

'"' Ibid.<br />

"" Ibid. Macadamization - introduced '*into the streets of London until about 25 years ago" - was<br />

constructed with "a layer of stones, broken small and regular in size, and spread evenly over the road, so<br />

that the pressure and friction of the traffic will knead. grind, crunch. and knit them into one compact<br />

surface" (Mayhew. 11: 18 1). Roads "even in the suburbs immediately connected with London. such as<br />

Islington. Kingsland. Stoke Newington. and Hackney. were 'repaired when they wanted it"' (Ibid.).<br />

'"' Mayhew, 11: 258.


plagues. dustrnen traditionally carted away the dead, yet "not one of them died of the plague.<br />

even during its greatest ravages." The plague also protected their health providing "extraordinary<br />

instances of longevity" even by modern standards - one dustman "lived to be 1 15 years;<br />

another, named Wood, died at 100; and the well-known Richard Tyrrell died only a short time<br />

back at the advanced age of 97." UY Death sometimes also opened up a business space directly on<br />

the street. The Portman Square sweep told Mayhew: "One of my neighbours persuaded me that I<br />

should pick up a good curmst at a crossing. The man who had been on my crossing was gone<br />

dead, and as it was empty, I went down to the poiice-office, in Marleybone Lane, and they told<br />

me I might take it, and give me li beny to stop.,' Different sectors of London's streets were<br />

covered with different materials - Aberdeen granite (now Tharnes ballast) m. macadamized<br />

road pavement =, and wooden pavement m. Ln upper-class middle-class ~itzro~-s~uare."~ where<br />

Mayhew was born, granite pavement kept in good condition lasted for 20 years whereas<br />

Cheapside neighbourhoods lasted only for three or four years. Four hundred miles of stone<br />

pavement covered 50 miles inside the City and. roughly six or seven times as much without<br />

"bearing down upon the Thames in all directions." "I<br />

according to Mayhew. Over thirteen<br />

'IU Mayhew. 11: 175.<br />

'"5 Mayhew, 11: 473.<br />

3 )6<br />

Ibid.. 182. Regarding statistical accuracy. Mayhew confirmed that it was only possible. however. "to<br />

arrive at an approximation as to the comparative extent I have spoken of; and in this attempt at<br />

approximation. in the absence of all means of a definite statistical computation. I have had the assistance of<br />

an experienced and practical surveyor. familiar with the subject" (Ibid.).<br />

'07<br />

Ibid.. 18 1. Granite was "brought by water from Scotland. and a small quantity from Guernsey" (Ibid.).<br />

YM<br />

"Macadamized was "a word adapted from the name of Sir. W. MacAdam, the originator or great<br />

improver of the system" (Ibid.). Engels stated: "Between 18 18 and 1829 a thousand miles of roads with the<br />

legal minimum width of 60 feet were constructed in England and Wales, and nearly all the old roads were<br />

remodeiled on Macadam's principles" (Engels. 22).<br />

2Im<br />

Ibid. Wooden pavement was formed of "blocks of wood. generally deal. fitted to one another by<br />

grooves. by joints, or by shape, for close adjustment. They are placed on the road over a body of concrete.<br />

in the same way as granite" (Ibid.).<br />

210<br />

Ibid., 18 1.<br />

'I' Ibid., 182.


hundred miles of macadamized roads were<br />

St. James's-square was first. then<br />

smaller streets in the aristocratic parish of St.James's and St-George's, and then Piccadilly<br />

according to Mayhew but not without a battle. Wooden pavement was a relative newcomer<br />

covering just "five miles of London's thoroughfares" including the Old ~ aiie~.~" The street<br />

implied "a certain loss of innocence or perhaps enjoyment of. the unbridled, the mean, and the<br />

obscene" "' and. as we shall see. different streetscapes and the people who inhabited them played<br />

by different rules. Space was thus a political instrument of primary importance. strictly<br />

controlled, with a hierarchy and segregation of all of its parts."5<br />

(7) Policing the Street Spaces of London<br />

Gutters were the coster's marginal territory2I6 while city streets proper were a playground and<br />

the promenade for the b~ur~eoisie.~" Michael Angelo Taylor's Act (Act of 1817) clarified who<br />

was responsible for removing different kinds of street nuisances. According to Mayhew. the<br />

"only acts now in force which regulate the government of the streets, so to speak, are these best<br />

"' Mayhew recorded that them roads were north of &he New-road and of io extension. as the City-road.<br />

and westward of the New-roads' junction with Lisson-grove"; west of "Park-lane and of the west-end<br />

parks"; east of "Brick-lane (Spitalfields) and of the WhitechapeI High-street": and south "(on the Surrey<br />

side) from the New-cut and Long-lane. Bermondscy. and both in the eastern and western direction of<br />

Southwark. Lambeth. and the other southern parishes" (Ibid.).<br />

"' Ibid.. 182. According to Mayhew. it was the implemented during the last I I or 12 years.<br />

214<br />

Winter. 1994. 8. Homelessness could also be found in the Asylum for the Houseless Poor where a man<br />

told Mayhew that he was quite literally thrown into the streets. going an entire week without resting.<br />

Engels commented on homelessness: "Every morning fifty thousand hndoners wake up not knowing<br />

where they are going to sleep at night" (Engels. 37-38).<br />

"' Regarding the policing of space. Lefevbre has argued: '*It is. in other words. an administratively<br />

controlled and even policed space" (Lefevbre. 288.) see also Poulantas 1978.201: quoted in Ray Forrest.<br />

Jeff Henderson and Peter Williams, Urban Political Economy and Social Theory, The Theory of Social<br />

Space in the Work of Henri Lefebvre. Gower: London. 1982, 180. The city for Lefevbre was as "an<br />

arrangement of objects in space: urbanism as a way of life" (Katznelson, 96). Lefebvre was a pioneer<br />

raising and pursuing longdormant questions rather than a scholar who answered theoretical and practical<br />

questions.<br />

=Ib Winter. James. London's Teeming Streets. 1830-1914. London and New York: Routledge. 1994. 100- 1.<br />

=I7 Corfield. Penelope. I.. 'Walking the City Streets: The Urban Odyssey in Eighteenth-Century England."<br />

Journal of Urban History. 16.2. February ( 1990): 132- 174. 132-3. 140.


known as Michael Angelo Taylor's Act. and the 2&3 Vic.. best known as the Police Act." 2'R<br />

According to James Winter, people were fined, for "sweeping rubbish into sewers, beating<br />

carpets over footways, allowing vehicles or animals to block the right of way, slaughtering pigs,<br />

slacking lime, piling up bricks or timers, and depositing wares. Eyewitnesses can arrest without<br />

warrant any vehicle driver who fails to place flash-boards around a load of night soil or noxious<br />

chemicals. thus allowing the contents to slip over on to the road." "9 Regarding the "rights to sell<br />

provisions from stands in the streets of the metropolis", it appeared to Mayhew "to be merely<br />

permissive.'* "O<br />

The regulatory history of Engiand's itinerant trade in manufactured goods went<br />

back at least to the eighteenth-century. According to David Alexander, William 111 passed a<br />

licensing Act for hawkers and pedlars, imposing a basic 4l.fee with an additional charge of 4l.for<br />

each animal pulling a cart. But the Act also exempted from Iicensing hawkers of foodstuffs,<br />

craftsmen selling their wares in markets and streets, and travelling tinkers. coopers, glaziers, and<br />

other repair men.r' In 1785, another Act was passed raising the tariff on using animals to 81.. and<br />

forbidding pedlars to sell in towns where they were not residents, except on market days. Four<br />

years later, in 1789, an amending Act added the additional constraint, that to obtain a licence<br />

pedlars required character statements from the parish clergyman and two other "respectable<br />

inhabitants.""<br />

Licensed pedlars were required to tack their name and license number<br />

conspicuously to their carts, packs or rented shops, and by the nineteenth-century no legislation<br />

had fundamentally changed these provisions.m It was also clear from Parliamentary Debates.<br />

218<br />

Mayhew. I: 59.<br />

219<br />

Winter incorrectly suggested that "Londoners. in effect, were taught how to behave on the streets but not<br />

how to move spatially through it" Winter, 42). According to Mayhew. the Act required "all householders<br />

every morning to remove all householders from the front of their premises any snow which may have fallen<br />

during the night" (Mayhew, 11: 180).<br />

"%ayhew. I: 58.<br />

2' Alexander. 65-6.<br />

" Ibid., 66.<br />

lbid.


according to Alexander, that shopkeepers had pressed to totally abolish the itinerant trade, yet<br />

none of this legislation applied directly to costermongers and peddling tradesmen. Control over<br />

unlicensed peddling was a local matter ultimately defined by town or market improvement<br />

Acts 224 as Mayhew had recorded.<br />

Shopkeepers had considerable influence on the poiicy adopted by town authorities towards<br />

hawkers. Even though licensed pedlars, not costermongers, were the shopkeeper's principal<br />

competitor. shopkeepers - in their symbiotic relationship with the costers - expressed real and<br />

imagined grievances from time-to-time against them as well. But, as Mayhew notes, shopkeepers<br />

could not control the working-class trade for they would "not be driven to buy at the shops."<br />

"They can't be persuaded that they can buy as cheap ay the shops," he continued. "Besides they<br />

are apt to think shopkeepers are rich and the street-sellers poor, and that they may as well<br />

encourage the poor." Mayhew concluded that "[tlhe poorer women, the wives of mechanics or<br />

small tradesmen, who have to prepare dinners for their husbands, like, as they call it, 'to make<br />

one errand do'." zi Working-class housewives purchased fruit, fish. and vegetables from street<br />

traders and the market, and their bread. meat. cheese. and groceries from shopkeepers. When the<br />

police suppressed a street market usually at the request of the London shopkeepers, trade in the<br />

shops fell sharply as women shopped elsewhere in other street markets and surrounding shops.<br />

Mayhew recalled the street battle over New Cut market:<br />

Within these three months, or a little more. there had been removals of<br />

the costermongers from their customary standings in the streets. This.<br />

I have stated, is never done, unless the shopkeepers represent to the potice<br />

that the costermongers are an injury and a nuisance to them in the<br />

prosecution of their respective trades. "Leather-lane," I was told, "looked<br />

2~' Ibid., 67.<br />

Ibid.. I: 60.


like a desert compared to what it was. People that had lived there for<br />

years hardly knew their own street; and those that had complained,<br />

might twiddle their thumbs in their shops for want of something better<br />

to do." 226<br />

In Leather-lane, Mayhew recorded the same battles over policed spaces. "The shopkeepers<br />

speedily retrieved what many soon came to consider the false step (as regards their interests)<br />

which they had taken, and in a fortnight or so, they managed, by further representations to the<br />

police authorities, and by agreement with the street-sellers, that the street-market people should<br />

return. In little more than a fortnight from that time, Leather-lane, Holborn, resumed its wonted<br />

busy aspect."<br />

Nevertheless, under pressure from the big shops, new laws were also passed<br />

affecting street trades. The most damaging was the law that prevented the costerrnongers from<br />

standing stitl; they were liable to arrest loosing their wheelbarrow and stock. Between November<br />

1849 when Mayhew began to write about the New Cut market and December 1850 when he<br />

returned to it again in London Lcabour, "the mob of purchasers diminished by half and many<br />

costerers with regular stands had been removed." "' Mayhew argued: "We should, therefore,<br />

remember while venting our indignation against pattering street-sellers, that they are not the only<br />

puffers in the world, and that they, at least, can plead poverty in the extenuation of their offence;<br />

whereas. it must be confessed, that shopkeepers can have no other cause for their acts but their<br />

own brutalizing greed of gain." z29 Mayhew concluded: "If ancient custom can be referred to. it<br />

will be found that the Shopkeepers are the real intruders, they having succeeded the Hawkers.<br />

226 Ibid., I: 59.<br />

227<br />

Ibid., 60.<br />

a Humpherys, 59.<br />

229 Mayhew. I: 3 10.


99 ZM<br />

who were, in truth, the original distributors of the country.<br />

(8) Conclusion<br />

In the end, it appeared as if Mayhew's labouring class itself was superfluous, a form of<br />

collective waste, if you will, cast aside by the city's economic machine. But paradoxically, a<br />

source of the labouring classes' identity was discovered in this selfsame economic irrelevance. It<br />

pointed people towards a world of nomadic, cast-off, and second-hand things that fascinated<br />

Mayhew so -"a universe they were specially equipped to transform, since only they could feel<br />

towards it that combination of empathy and miserly delight which London Lobour describes." Z)'<br />

But amidst this paradox, Mayhew had developed a theory of space in relationship to a theory of<br />

exploitation. For he had come to realize that there was a direct relationship between the means of<br />

production and the way urban space was both reproduced and experienced. "Go where we will,<br />

look into whatever poorly-paid craft we please," Mayhew stated, "we shall find this trading<br />

operative. this middleman or contractor. at the bottom of the degradation." =' " Of this contract or<br />

lump work, I received the following account from the foreman to a large speculative builder.<br />

when I was inquiring into the condition of the London carpenters. ..."How the work is done, or<br />

by whom, it's no matter to them. so long as they can make what they want out of the job. and<br />

have no bother about it," he continued. "Some of our largest builders are taking out this plan, and<br />

a party who used to have one of the largest shops in London has within the last years discharged<br />

all the men in his employ (he had 200 at least). and has now merely an office, and none but clerks<br />

and accountants in his pay.""3 Mayhew continued:<br />

Of course I need not tell you that the first contractor, who does the leust of all,<br />

gets the most of all; while the poor wretch of a working man, who positively<br />

30 Mayhew. 11: 4<br />

"I Maxwell. 96.<br />

'" Mayhew. 11: 329.<br />

XI-' Ibid.. 330.


executes the job, and is obliged to slave away every hour, night after night.<br />

to get a bare living out of it; and this is the contract system. A tradesman, or<br />

speculator. will contract, for a certain sum, to complete the skeleton of a house,<br />

and render it fit for habitation. He will sublet the flooring to some working joiner,<br />

who will, in very many cases, take it on such terms as to allow himself, by<br />

working early and late, the regular journeymen's wages of 30s.a week, or<br />

perhaps rather more. Now this sub-contractor cannot complete the work within<br />

the requisite time by his own unaided industry. and he employs men to assist<br />

him, often subletting again, and such assistant men will earn perhaps 4s.a day.<br />

It is the same with the doors, the staircases, the balustrades, the window-frames,<br />

the room-skirtings. the closets; in shon. all parts of the buildingLU<br />

Mayhew discovered the "same marked contrast" "' between the customary and competitive<br />

boot and shoemakers. the carpenters and joiners, and tailors. "The principle source of regret," for<br />

the London chairrnakers. was "that the public have no knowledge of the quality of the articles<br />

r* 236<br />

they buy.<br />

For Mayhew. "the decline which has taken place within the last twenty years in the<br />

wages of the operative cabinet-makers of London is so enormous, and moreover. it seems so<br />

opposed to the principles of political economy." "' Concerning the cabinet trade, Mayhew stated:<br />

.. . we find a collection of circumstances at variance with that law of supply<br />

and demand by which many suppose that the rate of wages is invariably determined.<br />

Wages. it is said. depend upon the demand and supply of labour; and it is commonly<br />

assumed that they cannot be affected by anything else. .. . the history of the cabinet<br />

trade for the last twenty years is a most convincing proof, for there we find.<br />

Mayhew. 11: 330.<br />

"' Mayhew. 111: 223.<br />

"6 Ibid.


that while the quantity of work, or in other words, the demand for labour,<br />

has increased, and the supply decreased. wages instead of rising, have suffered<br />

a heavy decline. .. . What other circumstances is there affecting the renumeration<br />

for work. of which economists have usually omitted to take cognizance The<br />

answer is. that wages depend as much on the distribution of labour as on<br />

the demand and supply of it."8<br />

"This law", Mayhew concluded, "may be summed up briefly in the expression that over-work<br />

rt 239<br />

makes under-pay.<br />

London's spaces - concreteiy expressed through its markets, streets, docks, squares. and<br />

fairs - were physical locations, real estate developments, and mentaI attitudes or consciousness.<br />

Diverse kinds of social activities constitute a fourth realm of social relations, that is, space itself.<br />

Especially through form or design together with production, consumption, and exchange. space in<br />

Victorian London must be considered as one major element of the productive forces of society. In<br />

Victorian London. then. there was increasing centralization of wealth on the one hand, and<br />

increasing poverty on the other. Londoners were segregated within a complex hierarchy of<br />

residential and non-residential domains, some of which were transformed into collections of<br />

ghettos. Mayhew's street-folk, for example, were at once socialized, integrated, submitted to<br />

artificial pressures and constraints. as well as separated and isolated People were segregated<br />

into functional and hierarchical ghettos: deluxe residential estates like the Grosvenor estates 2"<br />

'" Ibid., 226.<br />

"' Ibid., 227.<br />

'W Ibid.<br />

'"' Lefebvre 197 1, 168.<br />

-I I<br />

One master sweeper told Mayhew that "in his apprenticeship days ...[ he] had to wait at the great<br />

mansions in and about Grosvenor-square. on some bitter wintry mornings" while little children-sweepers<br />

waited at "rich men's doors" (Mayhew. 11: 366).


and slums like St-Giles ~ookery."' luxury clubs iike the Traveller's Club and working-class pubs<br />

and coffee houses like Rodney's coffee house; and public green spaces and private parks like St,<br />

James. These spatial ghettoes were not only juxtaposed with one another, but were also<br />

hierarchically arranged. spatially representing the economic and social hierarchy. dominant and<br />

subordinate sector^."^ Victorian London's personal and collective spaces existed sirnultaneously<br />

in relation to abstract spaces, which were seemingly homogenous but were, in fact, hierarchical.<br />

The essential spatial contradictions of Victorian society were the confrontations between them.<br />

Between socid spaces produced by the complex interaction of ail classes in the pursuit of<br />

everyday I i fe and abstract spaces, or the externaiization of economic and political practices<br />

originating within the capitalist class and the state, lay conflict.<br />

Cities are metropolitan forms with distinctive internal spatial configurations. Here in the<br />

cities, ciass-based communities create bases of imagery, identity, and organization, which are co-<br />

constituted in space as well as time. Mayhew's street-folk as well as the middle-class lived in<br />

spaces that were produced by specific on-going relationships between the natural environment<br />

and the dynamics of human labour. In these diverse spatial worlds, their battles over the Victorian<br />

social order with its spatial dimensions, mediated between large-scale social processes and the<br />

cultural activities that established human consciousness.2~ By focusing on Victorian London as a<br />

nineteenth-century locus for human activities with determinate forms, Chapter 4 has attempted to<br />

focus on ways that can help explain the development of modem western cities:"<br />

how people in<br />

differing and opposed classes came to represent their lived experiences spatially.2" which<br />

"'<br />

- - - -<br />

According to J.H.Vaux's Flash Dicrionaty (I 8 12)- "slum" is little more than a name for a room.<br />

Though by the 1820s. the word had three distinct meanings as a slang expression for various kinds of<br />

taverns and eating houses, for ioose talk and gypsy language. and more vaguely, for a room in which lowgoings-on<br />

occurred.<br />

"-' Lefebvre 1978,309- 10.<br />

2-44<br />

Katznelson, 203-4.<br />

24 5<br />

Ibid., ix.<br />

'" Ibid.. 210.


Mayhew wrote so powerfully and extensively about in London Labour and the London Poor<br />

( 1861-62). As we move into Chapter 5, the dissertation moves into Mayhew's examination of the<br />

domain of the "oral/literate debate" as well as popular oral, written, and visual forms of<br />

representation both as an aspect of the Menippea and also as a concrete aspect of reality. For<br />

Mayhew was obsessed with what Victorian street languages and cultures from below sounded<br />

like within the structure of a capitalist city cailed London.


Chapter 5<br />

6Conve~tioa ~ieces": Vernacular Forms of Representation<br />

in Mayhew's L~OIL<br />

(1) Introduction<br />

For the first time in mid-Victaian Loncbn, a major wak by Henry Ma*<br />

called<br />

Lundon Lobour and the hrrdan Poor (1 86 1-2) Qcumented popular Victaian oral.<br />

written, and visual f m of representation2 But ratkr than treat them primarily as<br />

Litaary issues (which Mayhew did not do either), this dissatation exa-<br />

Mayhew's<br />

perspective of tk speeh of London's smxtfdk as pimatiIy the circulatiociof alien<br />

utterances within bourgeois Victaian society, as well as their reception, representation,<br />

' Pevsner, Niltolaus, Englishness of English An, 1964 119561, 51. Impcxtantly, Pevsner wrote<br />

that Hogarth "is most famous fa his series of paintings and engravings such as Marriage a la<br />

Mode or The R&'s Progress. But he began as a painter of wbat is called "amversation pieces",<br />

small groups of people joined together in cunversatioa a some other action, a type of painting the<br />

English were especially fmd of." Mayhew, in turn, seemed to have translated Hogarthian<br />

aesthetics f a his own pupas by deliberately seeking out social outcasts. Heir, in part, to the<br />

Continental Baroque traditicm, Mayhew aeated his own visual and verbal ideas in the<br />

development of time through narrative mation. David Kunzle wrote that in 1753, Hogarth<br />

published his own theoretical treatise, the Analysis of Beaury: "Hogarth's theory if characterid<br />

above all by its dynamisn . . . to Hogarth, art is a visual dynamics in itself. Its esseuce is moticm.<br />

and although he dcxs not speak explicitly of narrative motion, his entire thought, his very creative<br />

process, is predicated upm variation, evolutioa, the development of time of visual ideas', (Kunzle.<br />

1973, 338).<br />

Following Roger Chartier, represeoutim is a temn that pnains to three levels of reality. Firstly,<br />

represen tatioo pertained to the level of collective represen tation that embodies within peapie, the<br />

divisioas of the social wmld and the aganizatim of the schemes of perceptioa by which people<br />

classified, judged and aaed in the world. Seumdly, representation pertained to the level of forms<br />

of such symbolic mamances" as images and rites, of exhibitim and stylization of identity.<br />

Thirdly, represmtatim pertained to the level of Qlegatim to representatives of the coherence and<br />

stability of their identity. (Chartier. Roger, On the Edge of the Clifl: History, Languuge, and<br />

Practices, 1997,5).


and repercussioas within the "'0caVliterate debate". By uriluiDg tk characteristics of the<br />

Menippea (comidgr~taque) as a fiamewuk this dissertation also examines Mayhew's<br />

consciousness of grotesque pafamances, multi-styled genres, the mixing of poetic and<br />

prose speech. which were central to linguistic repreSeLltatim What Mayhew examined<br />

with varying degrees of distance, were really violations of Victorian forms of behaviour<br />

such as habits of speech,' cynical wads: and scanc!ais. Tke violations broke in upon<br />

the ncxmal a& of Victorian life, freeing the strat-fdk from mtain 'civilized'<br />

presuppositions that predetamined their bebaviour. Along tk way, Mayhew also<br />

obswed unusual psychological states - insanit$ and unusual f m of dream states.<br />

Chapta 5 thus hits together some of the mcial historial and cultural threads behind<br />

Mayhew's work - late seventeenth-, dghteernh- ;tad<br />

British<br />

linguistic history (especially ad history) as well as other visual and written vernacular<br />

forms of representation, which were central to the rise of a reading public.<br />

Lovejoy, Arthur, l7u Greu Chain ofBeing, 1%5[1949] argued that the ward "romantic" bad<br />

come to mean so many things that, by itself, "it means nothing". Despite Lavejoy's coatention,<br />

Rene Wellek, in his loog paper, 'The Concept of Rananticism in Literary History", 1%4[1949],<br />

13 1-33, &fined Rananticism as (1) the attempt to overcome the opposition of subject and object<br />

in personal experienae; (2) the shift fian neoclassical theay to the dialectical and symbolic view<br />

of poetry and; (3) the attempted reconciliati011 of the self and be waid, the coascious and<br />

unconscious elemeats in our humanity.<br />

Mayhew described his visit to the asylum. There, he stood at the window an an upper flax of tbe<br />

asylum looking down oo the crowd of homeless merr and wanen waiting fa the dax to -0: "A<br />

few were without shoes; and these Leep one foot oaly t the ground while the bare flesb that has<br />

had to tramp through the snow is blue and livid-looking as halfcooLed meat" (Mayhew, m: 428).


(2) The Historid Bdcgnmd to the 'LOrslULiterote Debate''<br />

The "aayliterate debate" has been defiaeb. described, aad QbaW anmag scholars<br />

and intellgtuals in England since the sevemkmh-ceawy.' Job Lock's philosophy of<br />

language. elabaated in his Essay ( 1690). and murished by comparative anthropology<br />

and travel literature, was unquestionably the mast influential theay of language in<br />

Britain throughout the eighteenth-cennrr~~' For Lock language was bah a social<br />

institution, 'Wle great Insenunent, arrd commm Type of Sociay," and the vehicle for the<br />

communifuicm of ideas. '' hptady. rccardiDg to Harris, he re-<br />

tk idea that<br />

human ex@-<br />

were embedded in soci*histmcal coatexts in which languages were<br />

created. He also rejected the double &amity<br />

issue, which argued that firstly the<br />

linguistic sign could represent both things as well as ideas, and secondly, that the signifier<br />

and the signified f d a significant, mt arbitrary, linguistic relationship. In deferrse of<br />

' Vincent, David, 'The Decline of the Oral Traditioa in Popular Tradition." In Popufar Culrure<br />

and Custom in Nineteenth-Century England, edited by REStach. Loodon: Cram Helm, 1982.<br />

According to David Vincent: 'Tbe oral aaditioa is a seventeenth-cenw tenn fmt introduced by<br />

Joseph Hall, the Anglican Bishop, who uses Biblical authority as a weapon against the Ranan<br />

Catholic position oa the cxal tradition: 'As fa the aall Traditions, what certaintie can there be in<br />

them What foundation of truth can be layd upan the breath of man How doe they multiply in<br />

their passage, and either grow, ar dye u p hazards The English oral nadition and its amnectim<br />

with the study of popular culture began with John Brand's Observations on Popular Anziquities<br />

(1777), in which Brand told us tbat 'though erased fian public Authority fran ttre wn'rten Word',<br />

these records of popular culture '%me committed as a venerabie -it to the keeping of the oral<br />

Tradi tioa"*(Vincen t, 1982, 21 -22).<br />

"leff, 1982, 147. Aarsleff stated that in 1746, CcmcWads Essai sur L'origin des<br />

Conniossames Humoines, drew its inspiration from Lacke's Essoy (1690). in 1770, Hexder wrm<br />

his prizewinning essay Libcr Ubcr den Urspnrng der Sprache. I . Paris. the linguistic &bate<br />

raged over language witb DiQIot, Rwsseau, de Br- and Ccmciillac. The debate on Condillac's<br />

work also led Wder, Leibnitz and Michibelis to write heir own prize-winning essays on language.<br />

In Berlin, the debate raged with Maupertuis (1748) and in Scotland, witb Smitb (1761) and<br />

Monboddo (1773).<br />

Land, 1986.43.<br />

10<br />

Ibid.; See Aarsleff, 28. Locke's Works, vd. 9,512-554, gave "A Catalogue and Character of<br />

most Books of Voyages and Travels" in ratin,<br />

Spanish, Italian, French and English. There was<br />

some reasan to believe that Ldce compiled it himself (Aarsleff, 72).


his position Luck wrote:<br />

Wads conve to be ma& use of by Men as the Signs of tkir Ideas;<br />

not by their natural connexion, that there is between particular articulate<br />

Sounds and catain Ideas, for tkn there would be but one Language<br />

amongst all Men; but by a voluntary Imposition, whereby such a Wad<br />

is made Arbitrarily the Mark of such an Idea The use then of Wads. is<br />

to be sensible Marks of Ideas; and the Ideas they stad fa,are their<br />

propa a&<br />

immedi~te signification "<br />

Although Locke's views profoundly influenced theories about literacy, Ma*<br />

battled against Locke's conceptualitatim from within the English Romantic tradition.<br />

Mayhew tried to reconcile his journalistic dmmmlation of London street languages and<br />

the harsh realities of labouring and wcxking-class cultures with a deeper, richer sense of<br />

an urban world overflowing with "~aoglossia". In doing so, be implicitly challenged<br />

Locke's assumptions, that thae was an ideal speak in the text, that language was<br />

perfect, and that certain languages were civilized while others were not. Following Olivia<br />

Smith, eighteenth-<br />

scholars such as Lock attempted to c~ntr01 linguistic<br />

Locke's Works, Vo1.3, "On Wads"; quoted in AarslefT, 63.<br />

" Dixourse or metalinguistics was "language in its ccmuete living totality" (Bakhtin, 181). In<br />

tenns of dialogic canmunicatim. Jobannes Fabian wme: "Writers can be dumb and readers deaf<br />

as long as literacy is imagined to exist oa a plane of signs, above, outside of, a apan Erom the<br />

agitations of voice" (Fabian, Jobannes, Time and the Other. How Anrhropology Makes the Objecr.<br />

New Yak: Columbia University Press, 1983.84)- Fa Voloshinov (1930). "the wad is a two<br />

sided act. I give myself verbal shape Erom another's point of view, ul~hately frOm the point of<br />

view of the community to which I belong. A wad is a bridge thrown between myself and another.<br />

If one end of the bridge depends an me, then the orher depends on my addressee. Utteran- ate<br />

like DNA chains: eacb is a link in the chain. and none of them can be studied outside this<br />

(Bakhtin, 1986, 136).


categorig as c ell as tkir paceived relationship to<br />

qualities; l3 sc~ars were<br />

English The "aavliterate debate" tried to set limits - aad still amtimes to try to set<br />

Iimits - to what were consickred to be the rmst civihxi, moral, and rational practices<br />

during the last 250 years. Bearers of t r m techniques of self-knowledge such as<br />

h k e fiamed and sometimes tried to destroy other languages embedded in orher social<br />

practices. Or to put it aaaher way, they tried to desaoy bearers of differing COI~C~QB of<br />

Literacy by &migrating adhary dialects, argas. id patois. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary<br />

of the English Language (1755). which popularized standard dictioaaries and grammars,<br />

stated: "Illiterate writers, will at oae time a another, by public infatuation, rise into<br />

renown, wtro not knowing the aiginal h p t of wads, will use timm with colloquial<br />

Licentiaslless. cdouad distinction, and faget prqxiety."" Upper-class English was a<br />

monument to higb culture's mom eduhg characteristics, Juhson argued, whereas<br />

lower-and middle-class languages were "cant", just paishable commodities like the<br />

people themselves. He argued that this 'Yugitive cant, which is always in a state of<br />

increase or b y , cannot be regarded as any of the durable materials of a language. and<br />

thaefae must be Wered to perish with akr things unworthy of presavation." l5<br />

Mae<br />

than eighty years after it was first written Bishop L ows A Shun Introduction to English<br />

Grammar (1762) continued to warn its readers against imitating qualities found in<br />

I'<br />

Smith, Olivia. The Politics of lcutguage. 1791 -1819. Oxfad, New Yak: Clarendm Ress,<br />

1984.9.<br />

'' Smith, 13.<br />

'' Smith, 14, 16,22 24. Lmd Moaboddq James Harris's fiend, (Harris's Hems (1751).<br />

extended Johnson's notioa of "cant" to include the idea that "the languages of children, savages<br />

and tbe vulgar are [actually] imbruted in tbe material wald." and are "scattered througb different<br />

languages-"


primitive languages. But the literary mant gar&, among ortrers. demanded clarification<br />

of what "civilizatim" really meant - especially in regards to language - urging that<br />

there was a creative and @tical m~~sity to rediscova a written vaaa~ular.'~ Beyond<br />

the politics of priated texts. tk battle over language exrencCed into open political<br />

conflict." Political activists like the radical lawyer, writer, and linguist. John Home<br />

Tooke, argued that language was a public fam of dialogue abused by upper-class<br />

'netaphysical jargon and false maality which can ouiy be dissipued by aymdogy." "<br />

Tmke also argued that hguage was an evolutionary institution fa human<br />

communication, abd that primitive and civilized people perfarmed the same cognitive<br />

operations, although their linguistic differences were cultural a d colltextual. 'Ihe on-<br />

going Romantic &ate<br />

about languages, its orientation towards the "araVLiterate debate,"<br />

togaher with the developumt of a comparative-historical philology.19 all attempt& to<br />

dramatically refbte eighteeath-century thought= And although Toolre - as a Romantic<br />

polemicist himself- successfully wove togetha tk philosaphy of language as well as<br />

philology. by the l82Os, rhese two Qmdnc had followed separate paths.<br />

Established philology was closely associated with the Gmmn masters of the field,<br />

Bopp (1791-1867) and Grimm (1785-1863), who compared the grammars of Sanskrit,<br />

17<br />

Smith. 9-10.<br />

'' Tcmke (1736-<strong>1812</strong>) was tried fa sedition in 1777. He was rehrsed admissim to the bar in 1779,<br />

1782, and 1794, wbea he was imprisoaed fa seven months without any criminal charges, and in<br />

t 801, be was denied a seat in Parliarneat (Smith. 1983, 135); See Smith, 146, concerning the<br />

Annual Review and the British Critic's review of Took's Diversions of Purley (1 798).<br />

l9 Comparative philology was a term proQosed by Schlegel in 1808, when scholars began to<br />

embark oa the canpalive analysis of In&European languages; Sce Aarsleff, 1982, 73, %.


Old Slav. Lithuanian, ad Old GarnPa" Bawaen 1 8 1 1 and 1829, Jakob Grinnn togaha<br />

with his brotha W ' i pubW Hand md Gretel, and Snow White, tk most f-s<br />

tales of Gaman fdLIae with their universal tbeares and common ImbEufopean roots of<br />

European languages a d ~egencls.'~ Philology. as an histmeal science, mx only created<br />

chronological beachmarks f a languages thmdves but also to some extat exercised a<br />

reflexive exploration of itself. " By finding mmmm features vmag European cultures<br />

and languages, philology played an impMant part in highlighting perceived differemes<br />

between European and "primitive" cultures. " In otk wcxds, pbildogy, travel literature,<br />

and ethaography, with kir own abilities to distance other ptqles, combined to help<br />

establish a European idadty during the cdoaial period 24<br />

From the 1 840s to the 1 860s - duiag Mayhew's crucial investigative years - a<br />

Cambridge liaguist nand WiUiam Whew& led a second gemxatim of linguists against<br />

Locke, championing historical languages and located tk ''oravliterate debate" within this<br />

debate. By the 1860s, however, the linguistic ti&<br />

had turned yet again, and p&ap the<br />

fate of London Labow with it. Bred and Taine, Saussure's direct predecessas,<br />

challenged the pedominant notions within tk Romantic tradition, proposing a return to<br />

Lock instead. Accading to Aarsleff, they pitted the idedogy of Lake and the<br />

philosophes against Victorian sages like Mayhew and Carlyle who believed that "life and<br />

'O Williams, Karel, 46.<br />

" Ibid.<br />

" See P.B~trke and R POM. Zk Social History of hguage. Cambridge Studies in Oral and<br />

Lirerate Culture, Camtwidge University Press, 1987; P. Joyce, 193-214; L.Hunt (ed.), 73e New<br />

Cultural History. University of Califmia Ress, 1989.<br />

23 Ibid., 48.


meaning lay in the actual wads of the origiaal, in the sage's own use of language, [and]<br />

mt in what can survive !nuMlarizing~ of their 'content'." " Nevatheess. within this<br />

embattled terrain. Mayhew's comparative, histaical, aod s-c<br />

approach to languages<br />

became! one of nineumthamtury England's most hpmtamt Romantic refutations of<br />

eighteenth-century thinking about languages. Fu Mayhew's London Labour was<br />

involved in a linguistic proja it can be argued, to achieve political refam, but it was<br />

not as politically explicit as H m Todre's 1790s disccllrse on language "Surprisingly,<br />

Mayhew chose to adopt the rmst fat--<br />

tk%xy of language," Karel Williams<br />

argued 'Words haunted his wak a d their history gave clues to the hidden history of the<br />

crowd" 27 Mayhew was really an urban explaer and grammarian who attempted to<br />

propagate the ideas of comparative philology by examining histmcal languages and<br />

societies. He was also very conscious of waking within and against larga systems of<br />

representation. In examining wads, he sought tk linguistic roots of his own urban<br />

investigations by documenting the aal tradition of LooQn's street folk for "the very first<br />

time." " Mayhew's approach to popular philology as opposed to the establiskd<br />

philology of Bopp and Grimm was political, cultural, and epistemological, and as such it<br />

enabled him to construct an historical aDd mrxal dhmsioa, even fa secret words used<br />

24 Williams. Kprel, fmae 18.48: In 185 1, Mayhew's howledge of Orimm and Bopp p W<br />

him among an elite in the study ofphilology, according to Williams.<br />

" Aarsleff argued that Took interfered with the development of English Language tbsay and<br />

moreover, that the philological tradition is an abberation. Smith argued otherwise.<br />

Williams, Karel, 45.


on the streets of Loldrng In umclusim London Lobour was an attempt to develop an<br />

alternative histay of the people using a Romantic tkay of language. Ma*<br />

attanpted<br />

to reveal the comp1exities of Victaian urban life by repiacing the hkean tradition with<br />

Romantic f m of representation Fa Romantic idedogy has played an absolutely<br />

crucial role in Watern theories of language, history. sociology, literary, and artistic<br />

studies on a global scale over the course of the last two cemries. And fa his part,<br />

waking within this tradition, Ma*<br />

moved back and forth from Hinitions of wads to<br />

a theory of languages. just as he moved back and fath fiom descriptions of London's<br />

streets and the analysis of casual labour, to a<br />

of the capitalist city. To Maybew's<br />

credit, he attetnpted to reconcile differing fm of popular literacy and differing kinds of<br />

readerships, even though the Morning Chronicle aewspaper targeted primarily middleclass<br />

readas. Ad he attempted to do this thra~gh Qcumentiag the rise of the Victorian<br />

reading public with its popular ad. written, and visual forms of representation, to which<br />

we now tum30<br />

29<br />

Mayhew interviewed a Sunday cross-sweeper whose father "was a 'terpreter. and spdce seven<br />

different languages. m] used to go with Banaparte's army. and used to 'terpret fa<br />

him"(hlayhew, 11: 485).<br />

'O Wellek, 1964[1949], 131-33.


(3) Literacy and the Rise of the Victorian Reading Public<br />

Maybew's wcxld was saturated with diffaent. overlapping urban reading publics.<br />

Victorians gathered around the bookseMas's stalls, in tavm, wukshops, and<br />

coffeehouses, '' such as Beajamin's, " Rodway's. 33 a the British Coffehouse in<br />

Cockspur Sum .' There was a burgeoniDg commercial reading public, 35 the Churches<br />

and Mechanics's institutes reading public, and an active radical public, which "organized<br />

---<br />

3' Ma*ew recads that a scrrrflabourer's "'I read sametimes at ~&be-shops (Mayhew, II, 237).<br />

The negro aOGSiLLg-swbepc~, who had lost bolb his legs stated: "Afra I wcnt down to GLasoow fa<br />

my money, I qmed a little dee-house; it was called 'Uncle Tan's Cabin"' (Mayhew, II: 490).<br />

A regular scavenger told Mayhew "'Sartinly I've seen wcxking people reading in coffee-shops:<br />

but they might as well be resting theirselves to keep up their strength"' (Mayhew, 11: 225).<br />

" Mayhew, I: 86.<br />

Mayhew, ID: 350.<br />

'' One of the Six Acts, known as 60 George III, was put into effect by the upper-class in<br />

December 1819, "to wipe out [all] radical demagogues, anti-governmental and anti-religious<br />

papers" (Thompson, E.P., 1966,719-20). All printed matter wb subject to a four-penny surtax<br />

including newspapas. It was now defined as "'any periodical carraining news a comments<br />

published more often than every twenty-six days, printed on hwo sheers or less, and priced at less<br />

than 6 pence exclusive of the tax" (Altick, 1955,327-28). When the stamp duty was lowered to a<br />

penny from 1819 to 1846. the battle still involved editas, booksellers and printers as well as<br />

hundreds of news vendas. hawkers and agents. mere were aeative approaches to breaking the<br />

law. For example, John Cleave, publisher of the famous Wcal paper. the Police Gazetre.<br />

circumvented the tax in the 1830s by advenising the day-dd Times. Morning Chronicle and True<br />

Sun at half-price (Webb, 1955,32-33; Thanpsorr. 1%6,729-30). In some instances, the same dayold<br />

London newspaper changed hands over 30 times. La the 1850s. Mayhew desaibed how street<br />

hawkers dd<br />

"one straw for me newspaper9* to avoid breaking the law in selling the radical<br />

Republican newspaper. Mayhew recorded: 'The Svawer offers to sell any passer by in the streets a<br />

straw and to give the purchaser a paper. which be dares not sell. Accadingly as he judges of the<br />

character of his audience, so he intimates that the paper is political, libellous, irreligious, or<br />

indecent." Mayhew was told, that "as taf back as twenty-five a twenty-six years, straws were<br />

sold but only in the country, with leaves 6ran the Republican, a periodical published by Cariisle,<br />

then of Fleetstreet, which had been prosecuted by the government. But it seems that the trade died<br />

away, and was little or hardly known again until the time of the trial of Queen Caroline, and then<br />

but sparingly. Tbe straw sale reaches its highest commercial pitch at the era of the Refam Bill"<br />

(Mayhew. I: 239; see also Thompson, 1966, 719-20). A chaunter told Mayhew that when he was<br />

thirteen years old, Wadless, houseless, untaught, and without any means of getting a living":<br />

" . . . one of the Stampoftice spies got me to sell sane of the Poor Man's Guardians, (an<br />

unstamped paper of that time), so that his fellow-spy might take me up. This he did, and I bad a<br />

month at Coldbath-fields for the business" (Mayhew, m: 195).


itself in the face of tk Six Acts, sad the tax= on larowledge." " The first My years of<br />

the nimeenth-cennuy had seen swee~ing changs in ttre publishing industry in England<br />

in the different kids and amwnts of books that were sold as well as some of its<br />

marketing practices. -cling<br />

to Mayfrew. Odd Numbasellers, Steamboat<br />

Newsvendors, tk Sellers of Second Editions, Board-Wak, Tract-Sellers, Sellers of<br />

Childrens' B&<br />

d Song Books, Bodr-auctioaeers, Book-StaUqem, and Railway<br />

Newsvendors. with their high volume a&<br />

high leasing rates, '' sold to a diverse reading<br />

pubiic. Thae was a h a vast array of snuggling streex-seilers of stationery who sold<br />

sellers of almmacs, pocket-books, rrremnadum and account-books, odd numbers of<br />

periodicals and broad-sheets, playing cards, conversation cards, stenographic cards and<br />

racing cards. Sellers of penny shorthaod cards practiced a repetitive kind of street lecture,<br />

"embracing the same ideas in nearly the same wuds over and over and over again." 39<br />

Here was a Literary wald full of street-trading men As Maybew writes, they were<br />

iiterate, married, and "keeoish politicians, both fiee-tradas, and against freetrade wkn<br />

36 Thompson, 1966, 729. In tern of libraries fa reading, the wood-carvers* society, accocding to<br />

Mayhew, had among their colldm: 'The Architeaural Ornaments and Decaatims of<br />

Cottingham," The Gothic Ornaments" of Pugin, Tatham's 'Greek Relics," Raphael's "Pilaster<br />

Ornaments of the Vatican," Le Pautre's "Designs," and Baptiste's 'Collectioo of Flowers," large<br />

size; while among the casts are articles of the same choice desaiptioa. The objects of this society<br />

are, in the wocds of the preface to the printed catalogue, "to enable wood-carvers to ccqxme fa<br />

the advancement of their art, and by farming a deaicm of bodrs, prints, and drawings, to affad<br />

them facilities for self-improvement; alsa by the fism of infamatioa among its members, to<br />

assist them in the exercise of their art, as well as to enable them to obtain employment** (Mayhew,<br />

1x1: 221).<br />

37 Ibid., 289.<br />

38 Ibid.<br />

39 Mayhew recaded: The exhibilor. however. pleads that the anstant exchange and interchange<br />

of passengers, and his Qsire to give each and all a hir amount of infmtiar, makes the<br />

repetition admissible, and even necessary" (Mayhew. I: 261).


they was-a-talking of (he bats days when tky was young." "<br />

On the s tre, morning and evening aewspapers had "now become a trade of no<br />

small impmane" There was @&zing as well, accocding to Maybew. which was used<br />

for the "‘privilege of selling to railway-passengas within the precincts of the [railway]<br />

terminus." Railway News verdors sold "light reading," oae-vdum novels sold fa Is.<br />

and "monthly parts" of serials were published as well as "shilling bodrs of porn." One<br />

experienced railway book-seller tdd Maykw that his customas seamid "quite lost in a<br />

W* " often staading and read- "for half an bar cr an hour at a time." '* The<br />

imaginary dream wcxld of books, filled with adventure, violence, and sensationalism<br />

acted as a kind of emotioaal surrogate fm real-life urban experie~~~. 43 1 repressed the<br />

fact of the real dilemmas facing Victorian society by<br />

catain feelings of<br />

anxiety; yet at the same time, acuxding to mas, it produced peculiar intanalized<br />

tensions within everyday Victman life, which led to the W of lifelong restlessness<br />

that were seen in Dickens and Carlyle. Books even played a palliative role. The mousetrap<br />

maker tdd Mayhew that he used books to whileaway the pain in his thigh He<br />

- ----<br />

40<br />

Mayhew, I: 289. "A small libary of history, voyages, travels, and instructive and entertaining<br />

periodical wals, was placed" at the disposal of the street orderlies, a~cording to Mayhew<br />

(Mayhew, TI: 263).<br />

41 Ibid,. 295.<br />

'' Elias, 1982,42235,249-50; See also Robert Jauss, 1989.40: In Black Swine in the Sewers of<br />

HampsreadBe~h the Su@ce of Victorian Sensationalism (1989), Thomas Boyle tackled the<br />

problem of modernity in m id-Vim England from 1830 to 1870. Boyle argued that crime<br />

columns, eqeckdly fkan 1850 onwards, revealed that two Englands mxisted together aaoss the<br />

entire class spsmm. Ln fa4 aloogsik a civilized arthodox notim of AngbSaxm cultural<br />

superiority, with its "peculiar mixture of self-assured outrage and befuddlement", ran a brutal<br />

strain of murder and madness. (Boyle, 1989.34, 109); In The Other Victoriuns, Steven Marcus<br />

argued that Wictorian official cmsciousness of displacement and denial . . . repressed [ed)<br />

informati- about sexual indiscretion" altogether. (Boyle, T. Black Swine in the Sewers of<br />

Humpstead= Beneash the Suq7ace of Victorian Sensatio~lism. laadon: Penguin, 1989,22,24).


ecounted: that "wkn I I had in acute pain with my thigh a scientific book. or a wak<br />

on history, or a volume of travels. would carry my th~ghts far away, ad<br />

I shahd be<br />

happy in all my misay - hardly cmschs that I had a trauble, a care, a a pang to vex<br />

me." a<br />

Other books were now sold more 6requently fiom barrows. as street-sellers wae<br />

faced to keep moving by tk poiice, and this process, in turn. changed markethg<br />

practices along with the increasing tempo of life in Loah. Mayhew cammted on the<br />

fact that 'the weU-known light form of street conveyance is now fast superseding not<br />

only the book-auctiomx. but tk bookstall in rhe hmkm streets." 'Ihirry to f q<br />

years @a. street auctioaeers systematically and extensively "auctid* new books in<br />

front of public-houses or inns, accading to Mayhew; but now. only two auctiomxs<br />

waked irregularly aad chiefly in "the provincial towns, a d especially the country<br />

marlas." a In tbe midst of chac@ng marketing practices such as these. boolcs, especially<br />

novels. becaroe indispensable to Victcnian life." Tk novel - saleable and secular -<br />

became a cultural commodity central to tk rise of this diverse reading public.' Mayhew<br />

Maybew, III: 22. He also said that he thought "it is solely due to my taste fa mechanics and my<br />

love of reading scientific both that I am able to live so COtllfoctably as I do in my afflictim"<br />

(Mayhew, ID: 23).<br />

45 Maybew. II: 298.<br />

" Hauser. 1985.4.434; Tbanv, 1971.21: Frasa. Derek and Anthony Sutcliffe. (eds.) 7k<br />

Pursuit of Urban Hifiory. hQa: Edward Arnold 1983. see Blumin, quoted in Fraser &<br />

SutcWk, as producers of "the industrializatiaa of oar-industrial goods."<br />

At the turn of the amuqr, fa the first h e, the upper-class grasped the shea size of the reading<br />

publics. It also experienced firsthand "tbe problems of mass prabUicms and dismbution."<br />

Eventually, however, the entrepeneurial Victaian middle-class hoke down "the cultural<br />

prerogatives of the aristoaacy" (Haw. 1985.4.53; Altidr, 1955.8 1).


documenmi tbe fact that "English novels replace samons, wtLere "samoas, m ratha the<br />

works of the old divines . . . are rareiy see. at these stalls, a if seen, are rarely<br />

purchased'*g With the disappearance of the Messiah and the Death of Abel comes the<br />

rise of English novels such as The Vicar of Wakefield. Tom Jones and Richardson's<br />

Pamela. dictionaries and "Old Loadoa Mags." so<br />

Between 18 16 and 1850, the annual publishing rate fa novels hit 100, but the real<br />

public breakthrough in publishing came when tk price of serial mvels - reduced by<br />

onethird - bgame truly afTadable fa everycme~~' Mayhew's London Labour became<br />

serialized in<br />

185 1, selling 13,000 copies, twmpence f a a weekly copy and<br />

nine-pare for monthly inst-.=<br />

It was 'We fim "blue booY' eva publiskd in<br />

twopenny numbers," " accading to Mayhew. Dich's Pickwick Pqers (1837) became<br />

a sensation, after a discou~agingly slow start, so wfien Part 15 sdd fa 1 shilling each, the<br />

sale of Pickwick Papers reached 40,000 copies saializatim gave tbe waking class<br />

their first chance to own tkir own<br />

acc


dictionaries '6 also sold regularly. Maytnu's Ladon Lcrbour itself hluc&d an extensive<br />

refereace index and errata &on<br />

at the d of every volume which gave it as well a<br />

udjctim-Wre precisim~ n In many ways, L#z&m Lobour literally functioaed as a<br />

dictionary of tfre unckwc~ld including Lonbon's prostitutes and thieves, even its<br />

undagrouad sewers." To combat what the middle-class perceived as 'We mcarious twe<br />

penny trash,"<br />

at the turn of the century, Hannah Mae publkld tk Ckap Repository<br />

~racts.~ ''When pemy bmks were few and vsy sd." a religious tract seller told<br />

Maykw. ''religious tracts were by far the chapest things in prin~'* Tkn during the<br />

1820s. two powafirl religious institutions, TIE Society f a the ROI130tion of Christian<br />

Knowledge and Hemy Brougham's Wety fa the Difhsion of Christian Knowledge,<br />

were created to publish, among other things, religious tracts. During the 1830s and up<br />

until the 1870s, two otha middle-class institutions stood betrind the drive f a increased<br />

literacy levels: the British and Foreign S c M Sacie~y and the National Society fa<br />

56 Fifteen years after the Loodon Philological Society began in 1842, it began to canplement<br />

Richardson's 1836 diaimary with another additim. Earlier eighteenth-century dictionaries were<br />

more often a colleaion of rare wmds ( W i i Karel 1981,45). W i stated: 'Crucially, the<br />

national dimensim of any linguistics a philology amid not be beaer exemplified thao through<br />

this parallel aeatim of philology and fume!; both dig deeply into the roots of Kultur"<br />

(Wiliams, Karel, foomote 14-46).<br />

Ibid., 48-9.<br />

58<br />

Ibid.; See Mayhew. II: 18 1-37.<br />

j9 Ibid., 74. Alilrmed by the bisk tdfic in cbaphh, broadsides and bakds, Hannah Mae<br />

stated that "[vlulgar and indeceat penny baks were always common, but speatlative infidelity,<br />

brought down to the pockets and capacities of the poor, forms a new era in our histmy" (Alticlr.<br />

1955, 71-73). From 1813 onwards, the battle fa control of the publicatim of ninereenthceatq<br />

seeet literature and the revival of traditional ballads was fought out betweem Tanmy Pin and his<br />

greatest rival, James Camacb with his "cocks'* and "catchpennies"(Mayhew, 1: 289).


Educating the P m acmdiag to rhe Principles of tk Established Church6' In 1813. Tk<br />

National Society, during its early fotmative years, developed rarghly 230 schods with<br />

40.Q00 stu-; in 1 820 it deveioged 1,600 schods with 200,000 students; and in 1 8 30 it<br />

developed mare than 3.500 schools with 350,000 studmu."<br />

Dame schmls, penny-a-weelr e v e schools. Day ad Sdy-sfhods, @<br />

Workhouse schools, the Children's Frid Society, Roman Cathdic Schods "at charges<br />

suited to the pm," " as well as the Ragged Schods Union<br />

now studded &'the localities<br />

63 Webb, RIC, The Bnfish Working Class Reader 1790-1848. Lirctacy a d Social Tension.<br />

Loodoa: Gearge Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1955. Most people learned to read befae learning to write!<br />

(Webb, 1955, 17). The Swedish bistaian, Egil Johanssm, believed that "most peqle should be<br />

able to read as weil as canpose - but not necessarily write - in their own language in ader fa<br />

literacy to have any real meaning" (bustar, 1985, 162). His approach to universal literacy had<br />

particular relevance and support for Vida Neuberg wbo &fined Literacy in eighteenth-century<br />

England as "the ability to read a bodr a a single sheet printed in English" (Neuberg, 1971,93:<br />

quoted in Housmi, 1985,162). The mers" enjoy reading Charles Dickens, Eliza Cook,<br />

Cap~Marryaff. and Ainsworth (Mayhew, 1: 250). School Literacy was a very valuable, specif~c<br />

use of language, acorrding to Paul W i but as a form of axnmunicatioa, written literacy<br />

assmed that other ways of communicatioa were inferia. regardless of their significance in m s<br />

of people's Lived experiences. Furthermare, authority st~\~xutes were, and still are erected on this<br />

basis, supporting social differentiation, stignathtioa, and reinfacement of inequality (Willis,<br />

1977).<br />

68 Mayhew recaded: "As ammg olber classes, I met with uneducated men who had exaggerated<br />

notions of the advantages of the capability of reading and writing, and men who possessed sucb<br />

capability as a wathless achievement" (Mayhew, 11: 294). Regarding Jewish education, here<br />

were "seven Jewish schods in Lardan, four in the city, and three at the West-end, all supported<br />

by volunmry amtributions". There was the Jews* Free School, Bell-he, Spitalfields with "1200<br />

boys and girls*', the hhnt School Houadsditcb with '400 little scholars", the Orphan Asylum<br />

School, the Westem Jewish schods, Dean-street, fa girls, and in Greek-street, f a boys, and the<br />

West Meuopditan School, Linle Queen-street, f a girls, and High Hoiban, f a boys (Mayhew, II:


eading rooms had continued through the 1820s aod into the 1830s in small-tow "inns.<br />

"hush-shops'*. a "private houses". " A d in the process. post-war. anorkingclass reading<br />

societies like The H aqxh Clubs and political unions Lrept habred of tbe upper-class<br />

alive: "[Iln Blackburn," Thompson reminded us, " ~ of the Female s Refam<br />

Society use "The Bad Alphabet f a tk use of the Chil&en of Female Reformers": B was<br />

fix Bible. Bishop aad Bigary, K fa King, King's evil, Knave and Kidnapper; W f u<br />

Whig. Wealoless, Wavering. a wic~es'.'~ Sunday mmppem w e very irnponaat to<br />

wakingslass pmple; Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper and the News ofthe World were the<br />

most impmant of all. In a 1843 study of a London waking-class parish, 6 16 out of 1493<br />

families read the Sunday newspaper: 282 took Bell's Weekly Despatch; 79 todr the<br />

Sunday Times; 23 Bell's Life in h d n ; 15 the Penny Sun&<br />

Times aad 13 the Weekly<br />

~hronicle.'~ Costenaongers also had a taste fa boolrs; Mary, a crossing-sweeper " told<br />

Mayhew: ''When my sight was betux. I used to be very partial to reading; but I can't see<br />

the print, sir, now. I used to read the Bible, and the newspaper. Stmy-books I have read<br />

too. but not many novels. Yes. Robinson Cwoe I know, but not the Pilgrim 's Progress.<br />

128). Accnding to Mayhew. the "great majority of Jew boys, in the street, canna read" (bid.).<br />

The coal-whippers also '*estaMished a school. witb acaamodatioa f a six hundred scholars, out<br />

of their small earnings" (Mayhew, III: 237).<br />

69<br />

Hauser argued that three bistaical phases arose with the growth of the new reading publics: (1)<br />

17 10, with the rise of new periodicals and novels at midcennny; (2) 1770-1800, with the rise of<br />

pseud+historical thrillers; (3) and 1800, with Walter Scott and the rise of the ranantic novel.<br />

(Hauser, 1985,3,61.216).<br />

70<br />

Thompsm, 1966, 718; see also Shepard, -lie. History of Street Literature. The Story of<br />

Broadside Balladr, Chapbooks, Proclanratioons, New-Sheets, Elections Bills, Tracts. Pamphkrs,<br />

Cockr. Corchpc~ies, and other Ephemera Newtm Abbot: David & Charles, 1973. 110.<br />

Listmaking was also a very early form of the practice of literacy. Mr-Tiffin. the senia partner, in<br />

Tiffin and Son, 'Bug-Destroyers to Her Majesty and tbe Royal Family", told Maybew: "I have<br />

customers in an books fa whom an house has waked these 150 years; that is, my father and self<br />

have waked fa them and their fathers*' (Mayhew, m: 37).<br />

" Fraser, Hamish, Tlre Coming of the Mass Markt. 18504914. Arcbaa Books, 198 1.72.


I've heard of it: tky tell me it is a wry intersting book to read, but I aeva had it." "<br />

Anocha crossing-sweep responded to Maykw's questions about the practice of reading<br />

with the statement: "Sometimes, a k I get home, I read a bak if I can barrow one.<br />

What did I read last night Wd. Reynold's Miscelian~ befae that I read the Pilgrim's<br />

Progress. I have read it three tims ova; but tbae's always somahiag KEW in it." 74<br />

Costermongers were also fond of kuhg any-<br />

read aloud to them. Oae man fiom the<br />

beer-shop often read the Sunday paper dard, and during summs evenings a<br />

costermonger, a any neighbow trained as a "schollard," even read aloud in tkk own<br />

cou~yards.~* In a meaiag with Ma*.<br />

tifty thieves revealed hat they had read "lack<br />

Shepard," and the iives of Dick Turpin, Claude & Val. and all the other popular thieves'<br />

novels. as well as the "Newgate Caleniar" and '2iva of the Robbers and Pirates". Those<br />

"who could not read themselves" "had "Jack Shepard" read to them at the lodging<br />

houses." 76<br />

Surveys of reading, writing and counting skills began by the late eightcenth-century<br />

in ~ng1a.d.~ The 1811 census revealed that 3.500.000 adults mld read, while 1.750.000<br />

mld mt," and in 1 837. legislation (6 & 7 William N C86) required that "a state<br />

7' Mayhew. 1%8, II, 480.<br />

73 Ibid.<br />

75 Ibid.. 474.<br />

75 Ibid., 25.<br />

77 H~ston. R A. The Scottish Literacy and the Scottish Identity. Illiteracy and Society in<br />

ScotM and Nonhem England 1600-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Ress, 1985.163;<br />

see also Engels, 1844,250.<br />

78 Webb, 1955.21-22.


marriage document" 79 should be canplaed "with signatures."<br />

yean later. the<br />

fm national qcxt on literacy (1840) revealed that 67 pa cent of men and 5 1 pa cent of<br />

women were able to sign tk marriage register, and in 1851, litaacy levels increasd<br />

slightly (70 per cent of men and 55 pa cent of women could sign their mums).<br />

Regarding the practice of signing obe's nam% a woman told Mayhew:<br />

When she was "in place," and kept weekly accounts, she had been<br />

complimented by ha mistress m her neat haad but that she and her<br />

husband (a man of indiffaent character) had been streer-seUers fa seven<br />

a eight years, and during all that time she had only once had a pen in her<br />

hand; this was a few weeJFs back, in signing a petition - something<br />

about Sudays, she said - she wrote ha XWIE with great pain and<br />

difficulty. and feYed tbat she had<br />

even spelled it aright!"<br />

The 185 1 census Wmsifjed the campaign fa a national ducation system. and<br />

ninaeen years lam. fmmal schooling becam manrlatory with the Faster Act (1870)."<br />

In March 1 851, the Ragged Schods Union and Mayhew collided over the debate<br />

regarding the impact of literacy and schoding on crimecrimeo The Union claimed that their<br />

. - ---<br />

79 Schofield, Roger. "The Measurement of Literacy in Re-Industrial England." Ln Literacy in<br />

Traditio~f Societies. Jack Goody. ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.3 19-320.<br />

Ibid ; See also Gra€f.. Harvey. "Literacy and Social Structure in Elgin County, Canada West:<br />

1861." In Social Hisrory, 6, April (1973a): 25-47-28-29; What the 1861 Census can tell Us<br />

About Lilerocy: A Rqdy." In social History. 6. (19730: 337-349. 338.349. Thompsm. 1966.<br />

712.<br />

'' Mayhew, I: 462. Regarding Literacy rates ammg male rubbisb-carters, Mayhew reccxded: "I<br />

think I heard of fewer instanax of defeztive education ammg the rubbisb-carters than among<br />

other classes of unskilled labourers. The number of men who could read and not write, I found<br />

computed about half" (Mayhew, XI: 294).<br />

" Altick, 1955,170; see also Webb. 1950.349; Hobsbawm, 1973-94-95.


schools reduced juvenile deiinquency by teaching them to read and write. Mayhew<br />

argued otkrwise, refenkg ammg other thh&s, to a co~lversation he had with a boy at<br />

the Ragged School, High Street. Wapping:<br />

"They was saying what they used to learn We, . . . They asked me to<br />

come along with tkm for it was great ha . . . When I got there the<br />

master was vay kind to me. ... I soon got to like going there, and went<br />

every night fm six months. Tke was about 40 cr 50 boys in the school.<br />

'b most of them was thieves, a d thq, used to go thieving the cuais out<br />

of barges along We. and cutting the ropes off ships, and going and<br />

selling it at the rag-shops. . . . About half of the boys at schod w e<br />

thieves. . . . C - used to go a t of schod befixe any of US, and wait<br />

outside the door as the boys came out. Then he would call the boys he<br />

wanted fa his gangs on one side, and tell them to wfiere to go and steal.<br />

He used to look out in the daytime fa shops where things could be<br />

'prigged,' and at night he would tell the boys to go to then He was<br />

called the captain of tk gangs."<br />

Mayhew was deeply ambivalent about the Ragged Schools. On the one hand,<br />

Mayhew admitted that "in all probability" it was the Ragged Schools that created "this<br />

extension of the ability to read" from "twenty who d d read" about "a dozen years ago"<br />

to "upwards of thirty'* now. On the aher hand, Mayhew also felt that the Ragged


Schools were totally Mective as an educational resource. Mayhew argued: "the<br />

attendance of tk street children at tk Ragged Schod is most uncertain" He continred:<br />

". . . the avaage of these boys at t ke schods, &es not exceed two hours pa<br />

week, so that the amouat of education thus acquired . . . must narily be scanty in the<br />

extreme; and is frequently fagoctea as soon as learned" 'We are (also] teaching the<br />

thieves to prig the articles marked at the him figures," ' Maykw conclu6ed In the<br />

he remained umvioced about literacy's efficacy among London's street fdk He<br />

recurded: 'We think, if we teach thm reading and writing, and to chatter a creed, that we<br />

have armed them against the temptations, tk trials, a d the exaspaations of life ...We<br />

exercise their mtmrries, mak thm human parrots, and then woada that they do mt act<br />

as human beings." " Ultimately, M aws banle with Lord AsNey, president of the<br />

Ragged Schods. was a battle over the philosophy of culture and maality. Mayhew<br />

staunchly believed that 'Philanthropists always seek to Q too much, aad in this is to be<br />

found the main cause of their repeated failures. . . . this over-weening disposition to play<br />

the part of pedagogues (I use the ward in its literal sense) to the poor, proceeded rather<br />

from a love of powa than from a s-e<br />

regard for the people." 'We should, however.<br />

ask ourselves whether men can stay their hunga with alphabets a grow fat on spelling<br />

books," Mayhew quaid 'Wanting employmat, and consequently food. and objecting<br />

to the incarceration of the wakhouse, can we be astonished - inrleprl is it not a natural<br />

87<br />

Mayhew, I: 321.<br />

88<br />

Mayhew's analysis of language dealt with the complex socio-cultural acts of hegemony as<br />

battles over representatim within a broader theory of poiitical and cultural change (Mayhew, II:<br />

264).


law - that they shadd help rhemselves to tk popaty of ahas!" ''<br />

Throughart moderaity. iiteracy has mast often been repesented histaically as<br />

unifmm and universal practice across all times and places. It has been categaized as<br />

develaprnent/undardevelopment, literacyluality, print/aality, a litexacy/illittxacy.<br />

Literacies, however, are mt autonomous practices; rather, they are cultural fmns of<br />

social reproduction. These complex fixms are concrete, localized value-laden, mediated.<br />

aad indira combining technological and idedogical practices together. They are also<br />

enhdded within tht: daily lives of embodjeb speaking perm such as Mayhew's saw-<br />

folk At one level, Maytrew undastood that literacies were diffaentiated reading<br />

practices that wae continually chaagiog.'' Fa Mayhew's fascination with popular ad.<br />

written. and visual f m<br />

of representati011~ were marks. icom of inclusion; and to<br />

some degree, he escaped discussions of race and class by crossing cultural barriers,<br />

constructing an imaginary folkspirit among Londoa's street fdk that, we shail discover,<br />

-<br />

90<br />

Histaicaily, the way scholars tackle literacy coacepts, assumptiars and expeaatims related to<br />

basic Literacy levels, amditims and their accurafy, their uses and meanings, amtinuities and<br />

transfamatims, need to be radically revised Harvey the American historian. believed that<br />

nearly everything written oa the subject of literacy labours under "tbe spectre and shadows of<br />

maiemizatioa theories witb their sumg assumptioas of literacy's role, powers and provenance."<br />

Most scholars, he argues, either work within it, suffering "conceptual and interpretive difficulties,"<br />

or in rarer instances, challenge its assumprims and its relaticmsbip witb Literacy (M, 1988,8-9).<br />

The "shadow of modernization tbeaies" are easily found in Alticlr, 1955,94,97; G.M.Trevel yan,<br />

quoted in AJtick, 1955, 171: E.P.Thompsaa, 1966,713; Stedman Joaes, 1971,286; Viam<br />

Neuberg, 1973,192; Schdield, 1968.311; Shepard, 1973,110; Vincent, 1982,21-22: Humpherys,<br />

1977,90: Sanderson, 1972,89,93; Webb, 1955,15: and Thanas, 1986,97. Following Emerson<br />

(1983), to be successful. literacy must be an integrative, camparative, general tbeay, in which<br />

creation, receptim, text, ocher Yam-shaping idedogies" and perfimmce practices, are all<br />

considered together in the same terms.<br />

91<br />

Mayhew's investigative search fa "meaning" was, at ooe level, semantic and personalistic; it<br />

included a questimer, an addressee. and the anticipaticm of a response.<br />

9' Mayhew, U: 10S; See -A Ferret M a w advertisement (Mayhew. 11: 56).


was orally and rituall y-based<br />

(4) Carnivrrksque Str#t Literatun in Mayhew's London<br />

Carnivalesque sum literature was a powdid ccmkosx of a world tumd upside<br />

down. It m a t e d certain critical values, guaranteeing its opposition towards the<br />

political a&. interestingly and -y.<br />

Mayhew classified "all the street-sold<br />

Literature which due to the hanging of malefactas" " as "gallows" street Literature. As a<br />

specific kind of low literary genre, "gallows" street literature was very impatant in<br />

maintaining a carnival sense of tk panerer's world<br />

Natalie Davis has ranhki us that rather than being a mere comic 'safety valve',<br />

carnival everyday life d d decipha "king and states*. "Gallows" street literature farmed<br />

a "very extensive portion of the reading of the pmx" supplied by the "Sarowfirl<br />

Lammatiom" a d "Last Dying SpePrh Confession, and Exaxtion of crimirrals." An<br />

old man recounted Rush's execution. He tdd Ma*<br />

that not loag "after Rush was<br />

hung, he saw, one evening after dark, through the uncurtained canage window, eleven<br />

persons, young aai dd gathaed round a scanty fire," gs and tkre around the fire, he saw<br />

"an old man was reading to an aneative audieace, a broad-sheet of Rush's execution,<br />

which my informant had sold to him." % The patteers told Mayhew that they had<br />

developd - over the last twenty to thirty years - a publishing a d distribution program<br />

--<br />

93 hid. I: 280. A strolling aaa told Mayhew that while he was in jail far playing without a<br />

license: ". . . a little penny wak came out entitled the 'Groans of the Gallows' . . . a The<br />

Hangman's Career, illustrated with pictures" (Maybew, III: 143).<br />

9J Ibid.. 281.<br />

95 Ibid.. 280.<br />

96 Ibid.. 280-281.


for "gallows" literature, which was "almost entirely" Loldoa-based 97 Their publishing<br />

program included the first small hadbill to "half-sheers", broad-sheets, and "double<br />

broad-sheas" '' fa very spedal occasions such as Rush's execution Ma*<br />

r6cocQd<br />

that the broad skt - entitled "the Samwfd Lammation and Last Farewell of<br />

J.B.Rush, who was adered for Execution on Saturday oen at Ncxwich Castle" - was<br />

*'the best. in all respects. of any execution broad-shes" lrn<br />

he had ever seea He also felt<br />

that even "the "copy of verses" which. accadiag to tk establhkd custom, Rush had<br />

supposedly composed in his cell -"his being unable, in some &tams, to read and<br />

write being no obstacle to the composition" - seems, in a literary point of view, of a<br />

supaia strain. Despite the fact that Rush's copy of vases was a superior "death-vase",<br />

according to Mayhew, "one copy of [such] verses often did service fcx the canticles of all<br />

criminals condemned to be hung." In fact, the verses were written to "sacred a psalm<br />

tunes, such as Job, a the Old Hmdreth." AU execution broad-sheets firom the wast to<br />

the best were easy to unchmmt 'he narrative, ernbracing trial, biography, &c.. is<br />

usually prepared by the prints, being a condensation fiom the accounts in the<br />

newspapers, and is perhaps imelligible, simply because it is a coxuknsation" If, "'thm,"<br />

97 Ibid.. 281.<br />

98 Shepard, W e. History of Srreef Lifermure. Srory of Broadridc Balladr, Chapbooks,<br />

Proclamations, New-Sheers, Election Bills. Tracts. Pamphlets, Cockr, Catchpennies, and other<br />

Ephemera. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973,26. What were same of the aucial fmns of<br />

street literature A chapbook was a bit-ywrself kind of paperbedc It was a single sheet of paper<br />

folded fust in four, eight, twelve a sixteen pages, then sdd ^uncut and unstitched at a halfpenny<br />

or a penny each'' to a custaner who split the pages open and stitched them together in a form of a<br />

beak. A broad-sheet was either a large sheet of paper, uncut and printed on both sides. a a<br />

pamphlet folded fran oae of these single sheets (Shepard, 14 -15).<br />

loo Ibid. Acmding to Mayhew, Rvsb ad<br />

the Wnings sold 2,500.000 copies each (Ibid.).<br />

Execution braadsbeers ranged roughly Etam 14"x 29" to 19" x 29"wilh their "Sarowful<br />

Lamentatioos" and their "Last Farewells*' (Sbepd, 101 ; see also Mayhew. I: 234).


said one Death-hunter, "'tk murderer has not been apprehended, a is unknown. we has<br />

our fling, and I've hit tk mark a few chaaces that way."' Besides the written narrative,<br />

there w e three illustrations depicting tk execution (see Appendix). The largest<br />

illustration rep- "Rush, c i M and ISUS- s- Mr. Jamy. Sm" The<br />

smnd illustration depicted "Rush shooting Mrs. Jenny," a lady depicted with a<br />

'waspish* waist surrounded by an enamous bundle of gown-slirts, and a "prostrate<br />

body" at ha feet. A "curect" portrait of Rush "from one in the Nonuich Mercury" was<br />

W third. Sometimes the Last ScxrowfbI bnmtalicm also amtahxi a stez~aypic "Love<br />

Lener", written '%om the depths of the ccmhnd d, witb the amckmmd pen, ink,<br />

and paper," The next most hpmtant broad shea was the 'We, Trial, Confessioa and<br />

Execution." it coatained the same subject matux as the 'Zamentation", except that a part<br />

- "perhaps the judge's charge at the trial, a perhaps tfie biography - was removed,<br />

making rmm fa the 'Execution", and occasioaally for the "Colldemned Smnon." lo'<br />

Maeover, Rush's "COLlfession" to the cbapiain of Norwich Castle was published as a<br />

separate Cdession. In impatant cases, the "triai, &c." was also created into separate<br />

bills as part of the Smowful Lamentation The last publication (prepared by one man but<br />

with the same content) was called "the book", which sometimes set the title-page in hi1<br />

display such as "Horn-ble Murder and Mutilation of Lucy Game, aged 15, by her Cruel<br />

Brother, William Game, aged 9, at Westmill, He$mzMire. His Committal and<br />

Confession. With a Copy of Letter. Also, Full Particulars of the Poisonings in Esser " Irn<br />

"The booif' was usuaily constructed of eight, but sometimes only constructed of four,<br />

1°' Ibid. 284. Mayhew moved back and fartb fluidly between the visual traditions of lardon's<br />

street-folk. In the section pertaining to ^the Street-Sellers of Poison fa Rats*', he reprinted a copy<br />

of a bill complete witb "wcxds and type" showing "the nature of the sport of rat-catcbing."


large-sized pages.<br />

The street sale of "Comic Exhibitions" a street caricatures focused on "the sale of<br />

any humclrous. or meant to be humxw sheet of engravings" fa "a vay cheap<br />

pe~yworth." Io3<br />

accocding to Mayhew. Comic Exhibition No. 1 was &tied, "'The<br />

Ceremonial of the Opening of the Great Exhibition in 185 1, with Illustrations of the<br />

Contributions of All Nations. " 1°$<br />

The "contributions" were reserved fa Nas. 2 and 3 as<br />

two iarga "cuts", at the head of the broad w. The second larga cut showed "'the<br />

Crystal Palace ascend@ by a b ~ People ~ fiom every " cammy looited on fdlowed<br />

by the "Procession from Palace-yard to Hyde Park" of approximately nimty graesque<br />

figures with kads larger than their bodies and legs ridiculously small. Comic exhibitms<br />

also sold "Galleriesof Comicalities", a a series of figures "somerimes satirically,<br />

sometimes grotesquely given without any aim at satire." IM Olha popular grotesque<br />

pieces - twesided gutta-pecha heads as well as "comic heads" lM<br />

made "of clay<br />

ordinarily used in the making of pipes" lo'-<br />

wae sold as well. Gutta Pmcha toys were<br />

"small co10u~ed mode4s of the human face, usually with projecting me and chin, a d<br />

wide distmted mouth, which admit of being squeezed into a diffaent form of features,<br />

their elasticity causing them to recurn to the original caste." Politicians, royalty, and<br />

policemen. "who might be obnoxious to the strw-aadas," aII came in for a drubbing<br />

'03 Ibid., 286.<br />

'06 Ibid., 440.<br />

107 hid. Mayhew recaded- ^Sane of the 'canic heads* may be amsidered as hardly well<br />

described by the name. as amoag lhem are death's heads and faces of grinning Qvils. 'The best<br />

sale of the comic heads,* said me man, 'was den the Duke put the sddias' pipes out at the


from Mayhew's street-fdk as well. ""Here," one man used to say, "htxe's the Duke of<br />

Welhgtm's kul fa id. . . . His mse speaks for itself." la<br />

Tk grotesque was an<br />

historical pheammmn that reprrsened contradictory aspects of life 'Og Tk tam<br />

"grotesque" first appeared, in its narrowest sense, at the end of the fifieenth-cmury,<br />

when a catain kind of Roman anament called groresca was excavated from Titus' bath.<br />

These groresca a transfamation amfacts patrayed extremely inferwoven plant, animal,<br />

and human fm. which seemsd to be giving birth to each aha.l10 The challenge to the<br />

old stable a&, in this regard was inseparable fiom the birth of the new.<br />

As an impatant part of the carnivalesque, the graeque genre was composed of<br />

vezaacuIar parodies which were bab written and aral; "' thq, wee rituals that included<br />

comic shows of the rnarketplace,ll' as well as oaths and curses, which were billingsgate<br />

barracks; wouldn't allow them to smoke there. It was a Wellington's head with his thumb in his<br />

n- taking a sight, yw know, sir"' (Mayhew, I: 440).<br />

108<br />

Mayhew, I: 434.<br />

' Mayhew. UI: 5 1. The performer of Punch told Mayhew "Rmch, you know, sir, is a dramatic<br />

performance in two haas- . . . There is tragic parts, and canic and sentimental parts, too. . . . Sane<br />

tarniiies where I perfocms will have it most sentimental - in the original styie; them tamilies is<br />

generally sentimental themselves. Others is all fa the amic, and then I has to kick up all the<br />

games I can. . . . It's the march of hintelleu wot's a doing all this - it is. sir" (Mayhew, III: 43-<br />

44). Concerning changing Wetic styles, he also recounted: "Everybdy's h ny now-a-days,<br />

and they Like cunic business. They war't listen to anything sensible a sentimental, but they wants<br />

foolisboess. The bigger fml gets the most mmey" (Mayhew, IIX: 51).<br />

The grotesque played iwlf out in a gigantic Guy Fawks-day celebration. Mayhew remded:<br />

One of these shows was paraded m the Royal Exchange, the muchants<br />

approving of the exhibition to such an extent that six pences, shillings,<br />

and halfuowns were showered into the hats of the lucky casters who had made<br />

the spedatiar. So excited was the public mind, that at night, after business was<br />

over, processions were formed by tradespeople and reSpedabIe mechanics, who,<br />

with bends of music playing, and banners flying, on which were inscribed anti-papal -<br />

rnotms and devices, marcbed through the streets with hmhg torches, and after<br />

parading tbeir monster Popes and Cardinals until bout nine o'clock at night,


~unhamcrp tk wmld of the mask frw which tk graesque was daived.<br />

included caricatures, comic gestures, such as ''th spirit of emulation, of imitation, of<br />

bravado," "* which Ma* f d ~mrrg catpin boys k iaavimd, parodies, facial<br />

grimaces. and eccennic postures that were also cem!ral to mimcric culrwe~.~'~ "Tk role<br />

of historians and theaists of literature and art is to reconstnrct this canon in its me<br />

sense", argued Bakhtin "It should not be intupreted accading to the nams of modern<br />

times; nor should it be seen as deviation from present-day conceps. The grotesque canon<br />

must be appmkd -ding to its own mcpsracmmrs." 'I6 Accuding to Bakhtin, the<br />

carnivalesque fdlr culture of Victorian London offad "a completely diffaent,<br />

mmfficial, extraecclesiastical and extrapoiitical aspect of the wald, of maa and of<br />

human relations. "I1'<br />

The satirical broad-sheet, "whae comedy had always reigned in spirit if not in<br />

form""' was transformed by Hogarth's irmoduction of caricature into Englad,<br />

--<br />

eventually adjourned to sane open space - like Peckham-rye a Blackheath -<br />

where the guy was burned amid the mast boisterous applauses (Mayhew, I: 274).<br />

Acc


acclxding to David Kunzle, the cultural histman. Under the stylistic transfdon of<br />

caricature, ''tk broad-sheet be can^ truly comic, in fam and spirit; and it became, as<br />

never befue, a weapon in the politid and social struggle." 'I9<br />

'"k emfry of caricature<br />

into the broad-sheet took place umk the impetus of the great @tical-social events<br />

around the turn of the century," argued Kunzle. '"The shock of the loss of the Mcan<br />

colonies; the rapid strides of the Mustrial Revolution, and th cmsquent migration to<br />

the towns [mant that] the period c. 1780-c. 1820, [was] one of unique restlessness and<br />

litigiousmiss in Eaglish Life . . . In scope and vdume alaae. it desaves the nanre"<br />

of<br />

the golden age of English caricature.<br />

(5) The Street L v of Laadon<br />

In London's courtyards and alleyways, snea-folk culture121 had coditiooed Londoa<br />

life so profoundly that by 185 1, "half the -people<br />

of bmbn . . . strictly speaking, were not<br />

Loadoners at all, but had been born ekewhere." Ir<br />

Mayhew r8caded:<br />

They came with their ''penny gaffs", their running patteras and<br />

musicians like Brummagem Jack id the Country Paganini, and their<br />

'la Kunzle, 1973,359.<br />

'I9 bid. Acccxding P Mayhew, "The politics of these classes are, perhaps, far the most pan,<br />

'liberal Tory.' In most lodging-houses they take one a two papers: the Weekly Di~polch, and<br />

Bell's Weekly Messenger, are the two usually taka. I how of no exception to this rule. The<br />

beggars hate a Whig Miaisoy, and I know that many a tear was shed in the hovels and cellars of<br />

Loadon when Sir Roben Pet1 died" (Mayhew, I: 250).<br />

'O Kunzle, 1973, 359.<br />

12' Mayhew's stacistia o.the street folk popuhim fluctuated dramatically. At one poio~, he<br />

estimated that these groups accounted for sane 5~,000 men, women, and children. The street<br />

traders, the buyers and sellers, who daminated Lac~doo's street folk accwated fa 415th~ of the<br />

total populatioa, while the oosters accounted fa roughly 30,000 people. Mayhew also calculated<br />

that the street folL comprised 2.5 pa cent of LmQn's total popllatim. (Mayhew, I: 6; XX: I, 11).


various conflicting "faeign" dialects so nuanced in their linguistic<br />

hierarchies that even tk parterm scaaed tk mere casters with the<br />

contempt of the pickpocka fa the pure beggar. 'We are haristoc~acy of<br />

the strtx%", they exclaimrrl. 'T~eople doa't pay us fa what we gives 'em,<br />

but only to hear us talk We live like yourseU, sir, by the hexercise of our<br />

hintellens - we by talkiag. ard you by writing.13<br />

It was here that May-<br />

discovered larger-than-life pasooalities, mouth-pieces of the<br />

Menippean satire wtro were "a few of the m t mmwd 'pafocmefs' on this theacre of<br />

actioa"12' Beyoad Brummagan Jack and tk Carntry Paganhi. chae was Bristol<br />

George, Corpaai Casey, Jemmy tk Rake, a d Navy J em "a giant in size, and canck~"'~<br />

as well as a "giant in sh" [who] used to work fa his living Wviag "a barrow at the<br />

formation of the Great Western Railway." But mw, according to Mayfiew, his<br />

"prevailing plan" was to "waylay gentlemn in the decline of life, and to exhort m aq<br />

by threats of accusation and exposure." "Next to Navy Jem," Mayhew recclrdeb "may be<br />

perceived a little snrnted woman, of pretended Scorch, but really Irish extraction. wtrose<br />

husband has died in the hospital with ~~Llsumption at least as many rimes as the hero of<br />

Waterloo has ,caen engagemmfs." Mayhew a h described "Peter the crossing-sweeper, a<br />

rnan who fa years went about showing similar wounds, which he pretended had been<br />

inflicted W e fighting in the Spanish Legion - though, truth to say, he had never been


nearer Spain than Liwrpool is to New YcrL9* Tbxe was also "Captain Moody" who<br />

had "occasid interviews with some of tk gip~ey tribe, a d bearing fiom tkndves of<br />

their wonderfit1 amusemeats, he left the sober walks of life and joimxl this vagrant<br />

fraternity." lZ7 "His roving disposition tkn induced him to try che sea a d tk knowledge<br />

he obtained during several voyages fined him for those maritime Bauds which got him<br />

the nanui! of 'Csptain Moody. tk lurk*." I"<br />

" By far the most illustriars [was] 'Nicholas<br />

A -, a name kmum to the whole cadging frataaity as a real dsmxhnt fiom Bamfj.I&<br />

Mme Cumq and the 'prioce of lurbs'<br />

paaaers fm thirty yeas past" '" Ma*<br />

r8cocded: "Nichdas A - is now in his sixty-second year, a perfect hypochrmdnac. On<br />

his authaity - a d it is, no Qubt, too true - he has been 'lurking' on every<br />

conceivable system, fiom faging a bill of exchange Qwn to 'maundering on the fly,' for<br />

the gream part of his life; and, excepting the 'hundred aad thirteen times' he has been in<br />

provincial jails, society has endured tk scourge of his deceptions for a quarter of a<br />

century at least." '"<br />

Among Lmxbds streex-foW Mayhew discovered "a group whose lives were based<br />

on a code of shared w s as different from that of otha Loodoa walanen as from<br />

respectable middleclass Eaglishmen" "I<br />

It was the "curi&~seaa world of tk<br />

12' Ibid.. 244.<br />

"' Ibid., 245.<br />

Iza<br />

Ibid.<br />

'29 Ibid., 246.<br />

130 bid.<br />

Thomp~~~ and Yea 1971,86.


costmnongas who had a highly aster laaguage with "a Nde back-spellhg." 13'<br />

It was "reducible to rm rule a d seldom refmable to any origin" '" with "'classical<br />

crigin[s] of many of tk flash or slang wcxds." lY Furthermae, it was "communicatal, as<br />

in other slang, as much by the inflection of the voice, tk emphasis, the tone, the look, the<br />

shg, the nod. the wink. as by tk wmds spoken."<br />

According to Mayhew, tk object<br />

of their secret slang was "to shield their bargainings at mar&<br />

a theif conversation<br />

among themselves touching their day's wak and pofits, from the knowledge of any Irish<br />

or uninitiated feilow-traders."<br />

Tk language aim bad its own iphorismr. MayhAu<br />

recorded that the ''hasehldas in Duke's-place are all of the Jewish pasuasion, and<br />

among the wtas a saying has sprung up around it. When a man has been out of work<br />

fa some time, he is said to be 'Cursed like a pig in Duke's pla~e'."'~' Seaa names and<br />

CQ&S<br />

called "hieroglyphics of tramping9* "' had particular significance for tk casters as<br />

well as the pattars: "the thetetm~ngers, like the cabmen and pickpockets, are hardly<br />

ever known by their real xmxx!~; even the honest men among tfLem are distinguished by<br />

some strange appellation. Imkd, they are all known one to ahother by nicknames, which<br />

they acquire either by some mode of dress, some remark that has ensured costemanger<br />

13' Mayhew, I: 23. Mayhew believed that the language spoken primarily by boys was Wterly<br />

devoid of humour**.<br />

'33 Ibid.. 23.<br />

13' Ibid.. 1: 234. In amversation with a Regular scavenger, Maybew cunmented: "I have<br />

observed. by the by, that there is not any excessive vulgarity in these men's mes a -t so<br />

much as grossness in sane of their expressioas" (Mayhew, II: 224).<br />

136<br />

bid., 23. The Tbames Watermen, acuxding to Mayhew, were "often saucy, abusive. and even<br />

sarcastic. Their interchange of abuse with are another, as they rode on the Thames, dowa to the<br />

commencemeat of the present century, if not later, was reararkable fa its slang" (Mayhew, m:<br />

328).


applause, some peculiarity in trading, a some Mixt a singularity in persod<br />

appearance." 13' Tb "King" of the tumbling-boy amsing-sareepas told Maykw:<br />

"-e was a fight last night betwtxm 'Broke his Bones,' - as we calls Amoay Horns -<br />

sod Neddy Hall - tk 'Sparrow,' a 'Spidpr. ' we calls him". lo<br />

Whm two panam first<br />

met, M a w r8~01ded that they ofien began tbe conversation: '"Can you 'vdrer rorneny'<br />

(can you speak cant) What is your 'mone)reerV (name)" - Pefhaps it turns out that one<br />

is 'Whiteheaded Bob,' and the other 'Plymouth Ned' They have a 'slant of gatter' (pot of<br />

beer) at the lrearest 'boozing ken' (ale-hue), and swear eternal ~~p<br />

to each<br />

other." 14'<br />

Linguistic levels existed even baweea the straa-fdk tkxwlves. Tk<br />

costermonger's slang clr "cant" differed fiom the pattaer's: "The custer's slang was so<br />

interlarded with their getma1 remarks, while their ordinary language was so smothaed<br />

and subdued, that unless wkn they were professionally engaged and talking of their<br />

wares. they might almost pass for fa&gm7~."~'* Maykw, as a philologist, documented<br />

dozens of slang wads. '" Beyond the wud "bunse" manhg "OWXI profit." '" Mayhew<br />

13' hid., 247.<br />

la Mayhew, II: 502.<br />

I" Mayhew, I: 218. Mayhew reouded two other fine examples. When 3wo hawkers (pals) go<br />

together, but separate when they enter a village, me taking each side of the rotad, and selling<br />

different things; and, so as to infam each other as to the character of the people whose house they<br />

call, they chalk certain marks m their dcxr-posts." Or if "a 'patterer' has been 'aabbeb' that is<br />

(offended) at any of the 'cribbs' (houses), he mostly chalks a signal oa a near the door" with<br />

marks of diammds, inverted triangles, and squares meaning "good" ("Bate"), "spoiled by the<br />

impru&nce of some other patterer" ("Cooper'd"), and "likely to have taken you up" ("Gammy")<br />

(Ibid. ).<br />

142 Ibid.. 218.<br />

14' Amxding to Mayhew* the street sellers of arugh drops and medicinal amfecLi~~ary, fa<br />

example, d ed their "medicinal cmfeaiaa" "lohachs," whicb was an Arabic tenn signifying "a<br />

tbiag to be licked" (Mayhew. I: 206). Mayhew began an extended desmiptian of the wad "sewer"<br />

with his reference to "one of the earlier instances" of "any detailed meatim of sewers*' bet-


ecorded curious tams Iike "fenicadauzer'*:'"no fear of a femcodouzer fa the butcher.<br />

How is it spelled, sir Well, if yau can't find it in the dictionary, you must use your own<br />

judge. What dog it mean It mans a dewskitch (a good thrashing)."' '" Tk word<br />

"bummaree**- 'the jobber a speculata on the fish-exchange** a fishmonger tdd<br />

Mayhew. "was originally a bum-boat man, wb purchased of the wind-smacks at<br />

Gravesend a the Nae. aad seat the fish up rapidly to the market by I d " M a w<br />

concluded that the 'anpage spoken by this rambling class [tkstreet-fdlr] was peculiar<br />

in its co~~~tructim" It consisted of "an odb Hdky of coclollevf;Pn ED@&, rude<br />

provimialisms, and a large propmion of the slang c o d y used by gypsies and aher<br />

'travelas,' in cunveying their ideas to those whom they wish to purchase tkir<br />

c o ~ ~ e s 147 . -<br />

"the years 1660 and 1670" (Mayhew, XI: 403). Mayhew mxxded that The noun Scavenger is said<br />

by lexicographers to be derived ban the German schben, to shave or scrape, 'applied to those<br />

who saape and clear away the filth fram public street a orha places* (Mayhew, 11: 205). Mayhew<br />

documented that the word '%ug" was "a Celtic word signifying a ghost a gobtin." "It was applied<br />

to them after Ray's time, most probably because they were considerexi as 'terrors by night'. Hence<br />

our Englisb wad bug-kar. The wad in this sease often ocarrs in Shakespeare, Winter's Tale. act<br />

iii, sc.2. 3; Henry XI. act v. sc. 2; Hder, act v. sc.2. See Douce's Illurrrations of Shakespeare, i.<br />

329"' (Mayhew, IXI: 34).<br />

'a Ibid., 470. Mayhew recalled that in "almost every instance novel information which I gave to<br />

the public concerning the largest M y of the street-sellers, the ~06tennoagers, this word 'bunse'<br />

(probably a caruptian of bonus, bone being the slang for good) first appeared in print" (Ibid).<br />

14' Ibid., 478.


(6) The Vernacular Voices of London:<br />

(a) '4~attcre~n148<br />

The streauatcxs, known as pa#erers, included "the strw-sellas of stationery,<br />

literature and the fine arts." They were men who. in the wrxds of Strun." strove to 'Wp<br />

off their wares by pompous speeches, in which little regard is paid eitha to truth or<br />

propriety." Mayhew believed that the mountebank who sold ''medicins with pompous<br />

orarions," was axmxtd histmcally to 'Wle "puftering** part of tk stra# trd." I*<br />

To<br />

illustrate his point, Ma*<br />

rmded a "scene in Moaaieffs popular farce of<br />

'Rochester,' where tk hao personates a mountebank"<br />

with 'his 'pompous orations'<br />

indulged in by tk strgt orators in days of yore" I"<br />

Silence there, ad hear me, fa my wads, are m e precious than gold;<br />

I am the renowned Docta ParacelmS Bornbastes Esculapsu Galen dam<br />

Humburg von Quack, member of all the cdleges unrlE.r the Moon; M.D..<br />

L.M.D., F.R.S., L.L.D., A.S.S. - and all the rest of the lem of the<br />

alphabet: I am the seventh son of a sevearh son - kill a cure is my<br />

m o - and I always do it; I cured the Great Emperm of Nova Scotia,<br />

of a polypus, after he bad btm given over by the faculty - he lay to all<br />

appearance dead; the first pill he took he opened his eyes; the second, he<br />

raised his head; a d the third he jumped up and danced a hornpipe. ... I<br />

""TO patter. is a slang tenn. meaning to speak". aaxwding to Mayhew. (Mayhew, 1: 213).<br />

bid.<br />

lS0 Mayhew, I: 216.<br />

Is'<br />

bid.


anybody a sigh: verigo, pertigo, lumbago, a d all the other go's are sure<br />

to go. wtreoeva I come.1s=<br />

"Perhaps the latest ~ a nin England." k Mayhew recocded "was [seen] about<br />

twenty years ago. in the vicinity of Yanmuth." lS3 TIE moumebaok "was drssed in a<br />

periwig and an ernbroiched coat, with ruffles at his wrist. a s w d to his side. and was a<br />

repestmation, in shabby geneel, of che tite gd- of rhe reign of Quee. a"<br />

lY<br />

He addressed his audience "from a stage, a d ma& his music atOactive by mixing it up<br />

with music, dancing and tumbling; and sometimes, also, equestrianism on tk gtm of a<br />

village; a d by having always the swiss of a mery andrew, cr clown." '" According to<br />

Strun, in his "Sports and Pastimes of the People of England", the jestours, a "gesters" in<br />

the "old English dialectWwere "the relaters of the gestes, that is, the actions of famous<br />

15s Mayhew, I: 216. A penny-circus jester at the cheap circuses told Mayhew: Thexe are oaly two<br />

kinds of clowns, the stage, and the circus clown, only there is different denaninatiaas." "Fa<br />

instance, the clown at the fair and the clown at the regular theatre as well as the penny gaff (when<br />

they give panumimes there), are me and the same clown, mly beam a worse; accarding to the<br />

pay and kind of performance; but it's the same sort of business" (Mayhew. III: 131). Cmcerning<br />

the number of clowns in Iaadoa, he srared: "'I shouldn't think you would exaggerate, if you was<br />

to say there was from one hundred and fifty to two hundred who theanselves clowns" (bid.).<br />

"Funny Billy", a canvas ar penn y-gaff clown, told Mayhew "woaQrhrl staries of first-class aaors<br />

at ''The Effingham," and of astonishing pesfonners at '@The Bower," a "Rotunda", and of the great<br />

clowns, Paul Hening and Tam Matthews, and Heaor Simpson, the great pantomimist" (Mayhew,<br />

1II: 121). The causal clown a straggler has ruined the prdession of clowning acaxding to one<br />

clown. 'They take to the clown's business mly at holiday a fair time, when there is a little money<br />

to be picked up at if and after that they go back to their own uades' (Ibid., l20).A streetclown<br />

confided in Mayhew: 'Frequently when I am playing the fmt in the streets, I feel very sad at heart.<br />

I can't help thinking of the bare cupboards at hme' (Ibid.). Mayhew ccmmented: "His story was<br />

more pathetic than comic, and proved that tbe life of a street-clown is, perhaps, the most wretched<br />

of all existence- Jest as be may in the street, his life is literally no joke at hame"' (Mayhew, 111:<br />

119).


persons, w ktk fabulous or real." These "shon jocular stories"'% wee "calculated to<br />

promoce menimenf in which tk reciters paid little respect to the claims of propriety a<br />

even decency." The gesters called ''jjapers and juglers, and jangltxs of gests," wee 'the<br />

same as the bourdours, cx rybaubers, an inferior class of miastrek, and propaly called<br />

jestas in the mdern sense of th word; wbse wit, like that of tbe mary andfews of the<br />

present day (1800) consisted in low obscenity accompaaied with ludicrous<br />

gesticulatiar"'" Knigtnoa the poa. also described tkm, "As jlpcrs ad<br />

janglas. Judas'<br />

chyldren, Fa- chem fbtasies, old f& tkm mpluth" lY Maybew's literary<br />

descriptions of *'the public-house acta," *UE stading standing," and "th present reciters<br />

"of verses and mcxal speeches " was &signed to provide histaical Connectjons<br />

between the life of the mountebank and the modern nimanfh-century patterer.<br />

Maytrew's list of running and standing pattaers includd Death and Fire Hunters,<br />

Chaunters, Second Edition-sellers, Reciters, Conuadnrm-sellas, Board-waken,<br />

Strawers, Sellers of Indecent Publications, Street Auctioneers, C*<br />

Jacks,<br />

Mountebanks, Clowns, various Showmen, Jugglers, Conjurors. Ring-sellers for Wages,<br />

Sovaeign-sellas, Ccxn-curers, Grease-removers, French-polishers, Blacking-sellers,<br />

Stenographic Card-sellas, and Vendors of Raceurds u lists.la Ma-<br />

described the<br />

"panaers" as an "ingenious and wordy members of the same chanering. jabbaing, or<br />

'" Ibid.<br />

In Ibid., 119.<br />

'13 Ibid., 216.<br />

Is9 Ibid., 217.<br />

I6O Ibid.. 243.


panering*' fiatenrity*"'6' who "in their ckss and appear-<br />

peseat but little difference<br />

to that of the "gem"."L" Tbae were as many "different gndes of patteren" as thae wae<br />

divisions in literature, accocding to Maw. 'fke was a beggar's "patter patheric" as<br />

well as comic aad religious patter. TIrere was also desaiptive patter "where the veaxkx<br />

describes, however ornately, what he really sells". There was "bounciag. to puff off<br />

anything of little a no value" "classical, as in the case of the sale of stenographic cards."<br />

sporting, as in race cards," and "real patta (as it is unlPrstood by the profession) to make<br />

a thing believed to be umat it is m" Maybew's gentbum iaformant, w b had already<br />

written about 'the Religion, Mads, kc., of pattam," divided patteras into three social<br />

classes who all baame panerers tbrmgh misf-<br />

'First, - those w b wae well ban<br />

and brought up. Secondly, - those whose pare- have been dissipated and gave them<br />

little education. Thirdly, - base who - whatever their early histay - will not be a do<br />

anything but what is of an ithisant character." They were "as a My," however, "not<br />

distinguished by that good aad friendly feeiing to oae awrher which is remarkable<br />

ammag the castmmngers." 16'<br />

The first class of paotaers attracted "many men of<br />

respectable conmctions. and evea classical anainmemswLu including 'We son of a<br />

military officer, a clergyman, a man brought up to the profession of medicine, two<br />

Grecians of the Blue-mat School, clerks, shopmen, and a class who had been educated to<br />

no especial calling - some of the latter being the natural sons of gentlemen sod<br />

'63 Ibid.. 243.<br />

" Ibid.. 216; Aaordiog to Mayhew* ''sane wear a moustache, while others indulge in a Hmri-<br />

Quaue beard" (Mayhew, I: 214).


noblemea"165<br />

" I was once the inmate of a lodging-house," commeated his infcxmant. "in<br />

which there were at aae time five l.Jniversity-men, three surgeolrs, and several sons of<br />

brob-&wn clerks, a of other professid men." '-<br />

oaths were mme harid" he<br />

continued. "extravagant, and farfetched than anythins I had ever heard" The second class<br />

of street-patteras. like "three well known cbaractas - BristoI G age Corporal Casey.<br />

and Jemmy the ~ake."'" wae tk "most mcral"; many wae "devmt communicants at<br />

church a members of dissenting bodies" while ahers cauld "still be found once or twice<br />

a week in the lecture rooms of the Mechanics' Institute nearest to their residence." The<br />

third class of street-pattaers, liJce "a man . . . conspicuous by the misfatune of a sabre-<br />

wound on the check," had ''~ecled a predilection fa vagriilY:y, and can nor will settle<br />

to any ordinary calling." Mayhew, believed, however, there was a fourth "larger class.<br />

who are wanck~~<br />

fiom choice - who would rather be streetaaton, and quacks, and<br />

perfocmecs, than anything else in the waid" He subdivided them into three distinct<br />

labouring classes under the heading of "tk theam things they respectively sell or<br />

&/I67<br />

6<br />

'Pattam" consisted of 'Uxxe who sell soIl)ething, and patter to help sell off their<br />

goods; those who exhibit something, and p aw to help off the show; and those who Q<br />

nothing but paw. with a view to elicit alms." 16'<br />

Under the heading of ''Patterers who<br />

sell ."169 Maykw grouped together quack doctors, grease removers, wage panerers, ring<br />

sellers, dealers in can salve, r am paste, fiench pdish, plating balls, candleshades. rat<br />

lti5 bid.; "Many simillr cases might be mentimed," Mayhew cmunenteQ<br />

observation and experience" (Mayhew, I: 217).<br />

founded on real<br />

Maybew. I: 218.<br />

16' bid., 214.<br />

I6"d., 309.<br />

la9 Ibid.


those selling "tk several varieties of stm~ literature." Irn TIE semad class of paneras<br />

were those street-f&<br />

who exhibited objects; they included "juggiers, showmen, clowns<br />

and fortune-tellers." 171 Lastly. the third class of patlerers - those "who Q it on the<br />

bounce" 172<br />

to help off the show were "essentially distinct" fiom the first two classes of<br />

panerers, baause, according to Mayhew, they "aeitha sell na amuse, but only victimize<br />

those wtro get into their clutcb."<br />

Panering, that is the practice of -king pafocmatively, required a vay high I d of<br />

"professional skill." In 'Wmking the litanies." on the street cr in "an infma public-<br />

house. somerimes a br-.<br />

a a coffee-simp" '" was somaimes "very distressing to the<br />

voice," Mayhew discovered "Oae man told me that it had brdren his, and that very often<br />

while out he had lost his voice altogerher."<br />

Mayhew was told that 'Were are not<br />

twelve panerers in Londoa whom a critical professa of street elocution will admit to be<br />

capable of 'wocking a catechism' a a Litany." In<br />

Basically tk pattmx was a salesman<br />

with a sales strategy; he had "something in his hand, on whose maits, real a preterrkd,<br />

170 Ibid., 214.<br />

"I Ibid., 309.<br />

172 bid.<br />

'73 lbid. 310.<br />

"' Ibid.. 236.<br />

17' Ibid.<br />

I76<br />

Mayhew, IX: 53.<br />

lf7 Ibid


he talks people out of their mosey," '" Somaimg with ''sham official documems." aad<br />

cases "certified by the mhisttz ard churchwardens of a parish which exists only in the<br />

imagination." "lf the truth be saleable, a runniag patterar pefas selling the truth." as an<br />

informant told Maybew, "'fm theu he can "go the same round camfixtably anotha<br />

day."'179 If, however, Maybew continued that the are "no truths fu sale - no stories of<br />

criminals' lives and loves to be cordensed fram the diffusive biographies in the<br />

mapapers - no 'helegy* f a a great man gane - m prophecy aad no crim.mn-<br />

the<br />

death huntg invents, a ratha, anmums them He puts some one to death fm the<br />

masion, which is called 'a cock'. The title, a "Death Hunter", refared not only to the<br />

pattaas seiling staies of "all the murders that become topics of public conversation" but<br />

also referred to "his being a 'murder' on his own accowu, as in the sale of 'cocks"'. A<br />

death hunter told Mayhew that over the course of the last decacCe he had "singly or with<br />

hiS "&9*180<br />

put borh Louis Phillip and 'We Duke of Wellington to death" twice,<br />

following in tk footsteps of "the press", inventing a embellishmg "atrocities, which<br />

excite the public mind."<br />

To attract their audiences, 'Wle ruoning (a flying) trada"lal in "mobs" a "schools"<br />

of "two, three, a. four mar" In<br />

used the "hurly-burly" they created "on each side of the<br />

street," la3 creating the illusion that they were proclaiming such interesting a important<br />

'13 Ibid., 219.<br />

Ibid., 228.<br />

IEO Ibid., 229.<br />

lR1 Tbd., 215.<br />

' 8'bid*, 222.<br />

IE3 bid, 212.


"Barbarous. " Love," "Mystdous." 'Taraer Crimes." aad tk like"<br />

but wirhout<br />

announcing any bpaniculars." "It was usually the detail of some "'barbarious and honible<br />

murder", M a w ramntal, "or of same extraordhaq m e n ~ - e such as the attack<br />

on Marshal Haynau - which has roused public attention" '" ud "been the case during<br />

the progress of any absabing event subsequently." la' Running paEtaers cx "Death<br />

Huaters" dealt in fabulous camivalesque street genres - "murdas, seductions, &-<br />

cons, explosions, alarming acddents. 'assacsinatinnc' , deaths of public charaaers. hels.<br />

and love-Iatas. But popular, a notarious, murders are the "great goes".1ag A running<br />

panera disclosed that some of the mst popular fictidous murders ("cofks" '9 were the<br />

murcjms at Chigwell-row lW. Sarah Holmes at Lincoln 19', Scarbaough 19, ~ivapool~~~,"<br />

and the "Hmrid and Inhuman Murder, Committed by T. Dray, on the Body of Jael<br />

lss<br />

Ibid.<br />

lS6 Ibid.. 215-16.<br />

" Aamding to Mayhew. "When the Popish pla agitated England in the reign of Charles II, tbe<br />

"Narratives" of the design of a handful of men to assassinate a mole nation. were eagerly<br />

purchased in the streets and taverns. And this has been be case during the progress of any<br />

absorbing event subsequently" (Mayhew, I: 216,222; Shepard, 1973: 73-74).<br />

"' "A cock" is "a fictitim statement o evm a pretended fictitious statement**. acaxding to<br />

Mayhew (Mayhew, I: 222).<br />

190 Ibid.<br />

I9<br />

Ibid.<br />

193 Ibid., 223.


ecounted that ''there had been little a mthing &hg in the murder line - no ooe could<br />

cap him - till Rush turned up a regular oump." 19-' On the momiDg of Rush's exgution<br />

"we beat all the regular newspapers out of the field; fa we had the M, true, and<br />

particular account down, you see, by our own express, and that can beat anything that<br />

ever they can publish1% ... many's the pe~y I've turrpd away wkn I've been askd for<br />

an account of the whde business before it happeaed" lW Afk murdas. "'fires are tidy<br />

browns,"19' remumed aMher panere experiezxed in psnaing fires at the Houses of<br />

Parliament, the Royal Exchange, and the Tower. He explained to Mayhew that these<br />

. .<br />

stories were sold as "the work of incendaries, - of mmstts, to get rid of perplexing<br />

papers, - of government officers with troublesome accounts of balance. - of a sporting<br />

lad for a heavy wager, - of a conspiracy of builders, - and of 'a unsuspected<br />

party-"""<br />

(b) Standing Patterem, Chauntem, or BP1IPrl-Singers<br />

Occasionally running panaas became "staading pamers, chauntas, or ballad-<br />

singers."<br />

According to Mayhew's account of Srmn's "Spans aad Pastimes of the<br />

lg5 Ibid., 223.<br />

19' hid., 230.<br />

199 Ibid.<br />

'00 bid, 222. Mayhew reccxded: "Of the regular ballad-singers, sentimental and comic, there are<br />

not less than 250 in and about LonQa" (Mayhew, III: 1%). 'The street-ballads are printed and<br />

published chiefly in the Seven Dials* a Chaunter told Mayhew. 'Tbere are four ballad-publishers


Pqle of England," "in modern language, rhymers. singas, story-tellers, jugglas.<br />

relaters of koic actions. buffoons. and peas"'; . . . all of them anae kluded unk the<br />

name of minstreI."<br />

Following the Nomulll C~~~qllest. Strun reccxded that th minstrels<br />

"were pmnitted to perfam in the rich moaastaies, and in the mansions of the nobility,<br />

which they fkequently visited in large parties, and especially upon occasions of<br />

fesrivity."<br />

Minstrels "constituted the theatre, tk opaa and thhe of of powerfd<br />

and wealthy." Strun coaclucCed that he was "very certain that the po& the songster. and<br />

rhe musician were 6requently united in the same person" Mayhew also argued that<br />

running patttxers. lilce Brwnmagem Jack and the Country Paganini, were not only "the<br />

sufficiently legithate desceadaat of the jestour. sad in some respects of the<br />

mountebank" but they wae also mmxtd to the dent street-fdk. The ancient streetfolk<br />

were accompanied "gemrally by a chauntern "to reader their peafamances more<br />

attractive." Mayhew concludad that his own "account of the authors, &c.. of street<br />

literature shms that the analogy still holds." zm<br />

Every standing pattaa a "boardman" needed a "pitch", "board wak", and an<br />

audience." TO attract anemia to ckir pamphlets and papas. rhey used ei-<br />

"a board<br />

with colaured pictures upon it, illustrative of the amtents of what they sell, a else by<br />

in that quarter, and three at the East-end. Many tdhds are wrim expressly fa the Seven-Dials<br />

press, especially the Newgate and the political ones, as well as those upon any topic of the day.<br />

There are five known authors for the Dials press, and they are all suet ballad-singers. I am one of<br />

these myself" (Mayhew, m: 1%).<br />

lo2 Ibid., 226.<br />

lo3 Ibid.. 273.<br />

Ibid.. 237.<br />

'" Shepard, 1973.100; Webb. 1955.28.


gathering a crowd around them, in giving a lively a harible description of the papers a<br />

Wks they are ' wocking '." Tky too used "cocks" in stra paintiag as well as sum<br />

literanue. The low literary genres of street literature were saturated with the dialogues of<br />

admry everyday life. Two favourite tlrremes were the "Annals of the White House in<br />

Sobsquare," " and the "Mysteries of Mesmaisrn" Tk White House was "a notorious<br />

place of ill fame" and its board illustrated "skeJetolls, mffias, aad<br />

harm," while<br />

the "Mysteries of Mesmerism" was an accarnt of that "newly-discovaed and wonderful<br />

power in runrr and art9* ard its b d illustrated "womep in a state of coma."<br />

Sane of<br />

the most fashionable "illustrations" a visual f m of represensadon included "the<br />

flogging of the nuns of Minsk, the blood streamiag fkom tkir nakd shouldersm . . . the<br />

young girl, Sarah Thomas, who murderad ha mistress in Bristd, dragged to the gallows<br />

by the turnkeys and Calaaft, the hangman; [and] Calaaft himself, when charged with<br />

"starving his motfier." Two of the nmst elabaate illustrations - the Mannings aad the<br />

Sloanes - each had "a series of 'compartments', represenhg the different stages of the<br />

events in which thme heroes and heroines floltrished 99<br />

What 'WE s W 9 mxkd mst of all, however, was "the best of patter" "O<br />

or "the<br />

gifr of the gab" '1<br />

as k worked alone with a board which he consi&zed was "as good as<br />

206 Ibid., 232.<br />

Io7 Ibid., 233.<br />

"* Ibid., 232.<br />

209 Ibid.<br />

"O Ibid., 232.<br />

'" Ibid.. 234.


a man" 'IZ<br />

' AfGef ainaeen years' experience of the pvra and paps line in rhe streets." a<br />

sta.ding patux tdd Mayhew, 'I find that a fodish mmensical thing will sell twice as fast<br />

as a good ma1 sentimental one; and while it lasts, a good murder will cut out the whde<br />

of them. It's the best selling thing of any. I used at o m ti=<br />

to patter religious tracts in<br />

the stre& but I found no encu~aganea'~~ ... So I was ctiven ino the comic stamling<br />

panas"'. 214 'We dm*<br />

t care what's in tlr ' ~ s in ' w bar&.' he cominud 'All we<br />

want to do is sell 'em; and the me<br />

horrible we makes tk affairs, the m e sale we have.<br />

We do vay well with 'love-leners.' They are 'cocks;' that is, they are all fiaitiou~'."~<br />

"The last dying speeches and executions are all printed the day befae," he explairwi<br />

"They're always &ME on the Sunday, if the murderers are to be hung on tk Monday.<br />

I've been and got them myself on tk Sunday nighti over and ova again."' 'Here you<br />

have also an exact Ueuss,' he said to Mayhew, 'of the murderer, taken at the bar of the<br />

old Bailey!' wtren all the time it is an old woodat that's bm~ used fa every criminal<br />

for the last forty years."' Reflecting on one of his mxe m~mcrablexperiences. he<br />

recalled: 'I rememb a party d Jack Straw, who laid a wager, half-a-gallon of beer,<br />

that he'd bring home the morrey fa two Qzen blank papers in one hour's time. He . . .<br />

began a p aw about the political affairs of the nation. . . telling the public that he dared<br />

not sell his papas, they w e treasonable; so te gave them a maw - that he sold fa oae<br />

penny. in less than the hour he was sold clean out., and returned and drank the bea'."216<br />

"' Ibid., 235. Regarding religious tract sellsf Maybew nmded: "When penny bodrs wae few<br />

and very small, religious tracts were by hr the cbeapest things in print" (Mayhew, I: 241).<br />

Ibid.<br />

Ibid., 234.


"Jack Straw's priacipat "pitch" was at Hyde Park Cclraer, 'where,' said the man [who<br />

Mayfiew] &OQBd<br />

as wmking with him, ''kused to COUE it vay strong against Old<br />

Nosey. the Hy& Park bully as he called him. To my knowledge he's made IOs., and he's<br />

ma& 15s.on a night'.'""<br />

"Cocks" were also taken fiom quarter-sheets of recitations and dialogues. Mayhew<br />

recorded such "literary fmgeries" as "Good Advice to Young Men on Chmsing their<br />

Wives", "Drunkard's Catechism", "Rent Day; a, the Landlad gatbering his Rents", "A<br />

Hint to H usbh aad Wives", "DiunLard's Catechism", tk "Sddier's Prayer-book and<br />

Bible", mimicking the latest newspapa style. Oae of Maykw's shat accounts of "the<br />

bat and longest known" of these staeuypic '%Wary fcrgeries" a "cocks" bears<br />

repeating. The "Cruel and Inhuman Murder Committed on the Body of Capt. L~WSOLI"<br />

was illustrated showing "a lady, wearing a ('~xoaet, stabbing a gentleman, in firll dress,<br />

through the top button of his waistcoat."<br />

Amding to M aw, the narrative began:<br />

WITH surpise we have learned that this aeighbourhood fa a length of<br />

time was amazingly alarmed this day by a crowd of pecqle carrying the<br />

body of Mr. Jams Lawless, to a docta whiie streams of blad<br />

besmared the way in such a manrY.r that tk cries of Murder re-echoed<br />

"' Ibid.. 239. Mayhew reuxw 'This Jack Straw was, I am tola a fine-lodring man, a natural<br />

son of Henry Hunt, the blacking manuf8aurer" (Mayhew, I: 239).<br />

218 Ibid. 238. Mayhew also desaibed the "ExuaOrdinary and Funny Doings in This<br />

Neighbourhood" and "Married Man Caught in a Trap." He also described "a narrative "on a<br />

subject*', the differace between a narrative and a idad being chat "the narrative is fictitious, and<br />

the ballad must be found on a real event, however embellished" (Mayhew, I: 238-239).<br />

"O Ibid Mayhew acuxnpanied this narrative with an illustration of the Murder of Captain La-<br />

(A "Cock"); see Illusbatims of Street Art - No. II.


the sound of ~ o uvoices. s It appears that tk cause of alarm,<br />

aiginated through a caut-ship attea&d with a sdernn promise of<br />

marriage betwen him a d miss Lucy Guard a handsome young Lady of<br />

refined f-s<br />

with the intercourse of a superia minn she lived with her<br />

aunt uho spared neither pain nm cost to improve the talents of miss G.<br />

those seven years past, since the death of ha mother in Ludgate Hill,<br />

Londoa until she was entangled by the Mumps alcurement of M~.L.='<br />

The narrative continued deplaiag "Miss Guard's fall fhn virtue and her &senion<br />

by her betrayer, 'on account of her fortune being small'." James Lawless. a Captain<br />

Lawson, then '*woo6 a wealthy City maiden, and the banas are published" Then 'We<br />

find that the intebded bride learned that Miss Guard, held certain promissory 1-s<br />

of<br />

his, and that she was<br />

to errta an action against him fa a breach of promise,<br />

which moved clouded Eclipse over the extacy of the variable miss Lawless who kmw<br />

Miss G had the leners of his sufficient to substantiate ha claims in a court." The<br />

narrative concluded with Lawson visiting Miss Guard to wkde ha out of her lenas,<br />

but "she drew a large carving-We and stabbed him unrlpr the left breast," The chances<br />

of recovery fa Lawson were small, W e ''the valiant victress" was "adered to submit to<br />

judicial decorum in the nineteenth year of her age." Mayhew concluded that the "mders<br />

and other atrocities fa which this 'cock' had been sponsor, are - I was infmmxi<br />

emphatically - a thuadering lot!" 2"<br />

221 Ibid., 238.<br />

U2 bid. 253; See Appendix for dlustratiaas.


In between numing and standiag patterm, M a w desaibed "anaha species of<br />

patterers. wtm . .. belonged rather to an m a t e class "who walk at such a slow rate<br />

that. though never stationary. they can hardly be said to move." These patterers were<br />

"reciters of dialogues, Litanies, and tk various street 'squibs' upon passing events; they<br />

also include tk public popoumhs of conunctrums, and the 'hundred and fifty popular<br />

song* enumtm." They were c ldy wmxtd with the ''chaunters" who "sing the<br />

comerns of the 'p;lpers' tky vead" 'To ~k a @tical litany, wtdcb ref- to<br />

ecclesiastical matters," a man told Mayhew, that he ''ma& himSeif up," as well as limited<br />

means would permit. as a bisbp!**m 'Our mob ooce thought of start@ a cardinal's<br />

dress. and I thought of wearing a red hat<br />

recalled a m ~ r&ng k<br />

patterer.<br />

"They shod me, sir," he continued 'My shoes I call Pope Pius; my trowsers and braces,<br />

Calaaft; my waistcoat and shirt, Jael Denny; a d my coat, Love<br />

Somaimes<br />

"a dialogue" was of "a satirical nature9* such as tk "Conversation Ween Achilles and<br />

the Wellington Statue," with two lhs in couplet fam preceding "every two paragraphs<br />

of dialogue" seeming "as if they represent the speakers wrongfblly." Amther elderly man<br />

told Mayhew that he worked "Hone's parodies on the Catechism, Litany, St. Athanasius'<br />

Creed, &c. in the streets, after the three co~lsecutive trials and the three acquittals of Hone<br />

*' Ibid., 215.<br />

'24 bid. 236. Accading to Maybew. "It was an old snuggles's mck to sell a sack and give the<br />

keg of contraband spirit placed within it and padded out with straw so as to resemble a sack of<br />

corn Wayhew, I: 239).<br />

'" Ibid., I: 224.<br />

Ibid.


had made tk parodies famous and Hm<br />

popular." "<br />

Strea Recitas were bard to fiad =. but Mayfiew finally faurd an "extrdy good-<br />

lookh~g''~ boy aamed S-e,<br />

with "a soft voice alman like a girl's." " who tdd<br />

Mayhew that he played "ShaLerpeare's tragedies. aad selections from pa%."<br />

Performing with a young male fiiead h "tk most theatrically iaclined aeighbour~~"'<br />

called Wdworth-road, he coacluded: 'The pieces that draw best with the public are, 'The<br />

Gipsy's Revenge,' 'The Gold Digger's Revenge,' "I'k Miser,' 'The Robber.' 'The<br />

7 -233<br />

Felm'aad 'The Highwayman .<br />

')'<br />

(7) Other Vemacujar Voices of London<br />

Mayhew's othar vernacular voices iacluded "street-sellers of stationery - such as<br />

note-paper, envelopes, pens, ink, peacils, sealing-wax, and wafas" as well as "street-<br />

vendas of ahmacs, pocket-books. memxatYhlm ad account-books." rU According to<br />

him they were "hffmive" labouring people u h sold tkir goods with "a simple<br />

"' Mayhew, III: 15 1. Maybear told his readers: ". . . fhough I could always trace them through their<br />

wanderings about the streets, and learn where they had been seen the night befae, still I could<br />

never find one myself' (bid). One Reciter told Mayhew: "I only know about four who Live that<br />

way, and I have heard of the others ban hearsay - not that I have seen them myseif* (Mayhew,<br />

I: 154). Reading in Eustoa-square and Mcxning-uescent, a Blind Reciter "read nothing but the<br />

Scriptures, as 'blind printing,' - so it's sometimes called - has only been used in the Scriptures"<br />

(Mayhew, m: 155).<br />

"9 Mayhew, IH: 151.<br />

"I Ibid. 152.<br />

232 Ibid., 154.


cry'*'j5 - b eyd tkse ''trtnftks [who] camitUte the principal strea-sellers of<br />

literature, or 'paper-wakers,' of the 'pattering' class "=-andwerenotof6'tk<br />

'enterprising' class of street trackma" 23'<br />

"The maprity of them have bgn<br />

mechanics,'* he recocdd, "a in the employ of tradesrtm whoa callings were not<br />

mechanical (as regards handiaafi labour) but what is best described as c~mmeccial; a as<br />

sang bur oat producing; as in the instances of tk large body of 'warehousemen' in the<br />

different depamnem~ of trade."<br />

Mayhew also included 'tbe sellers of odd numbers of<br />

periodicals and brdsheets, and those who vend either playing cards, -aphc<br />

cards. and (at Epsom. Asca. kc.) racing cards" D9 as well as "the veadors of illustrated<br />

cards, such as those embellished with engravings of the Crystal Palace, Views of the<br />

Houses of Parli- as well as the gel- poerry cards." UO "Ihose in the greatest<br />

demand contain representations of tfre Crystal Palace, th outlines of the structure being<br />

given in gold delineation in the deep purple, a mulbeny, of the srmorh aad s him<br />

gelathe." Mayhew's list cuncluded with "tk vvendas of old engravings out of inve-ted<br />

umbrellas, and the hawkas of cdoured pictures in frm~~," "tk old book-stalls and<br />

barrows, and the 'phers-up,' or sellas of old songs pinned against the wall, as well as<br />

'% Maybew, I: 237.<br />

235 md<br />

236 Ibid., 215.<br />

237 bid.<br />

bid., I: 261-<br />

239 Ibid.<br />

hid.


tk veodas of mpmrscript music."<br />

The 'pimasup' a wall song-sellers sold "songs<br />

which they have ''pimd" to a sort of screen a large board, a have anached them. in any<br />

convenient way, to a blank wall; and they differ from the other song-sellers, inasmuch as<br />

that they are not at ail c~~aected with pa-,<br />

and have gwally beerr mechanics, portas.<br />

or savant^".^' A man ftom Harewood Place. Oxfad Stre& i nfh Ma*:<br />

b"Geogally, these dealers know bale of the songs they sell, - taking the printer's wad,<br />

when they purchase. as to 'what was Young boys Qmaaded songs such as "A<br />

Life on r k Ocean Wave", "I'm Afloat", "The's a Gaxi Tinre coming", and 'Farewell<br />

to the Mountain" 2U Mayhew reaxQd that thae was also che "Lag-song sellas" whase<br />

songs were geaerally '3rd to the top of a long pole, and the venda 'cried* the different<br />

titles as k went alcmg." The long-song sellers depaded cm the c ~ and novelty ~ s<br />

of the form in which tky sold their songs. The paper songs, printed on wide paper. ''thre<br />

songs abreast" and about a yard long, fluttered faowing Mayfiew, from a pole l a g<br />

at a distance, 'like huge much-soiled wfiite ribbons." The yard-long paper constituted the<br />

'three' yards of song, although sometimes three slips were pasted together. Long-song<br />

sellers paraded through the summer streets fa a penny with their "three yards of new and<br />

poplar songs." U6 kre was also whistling illy who began his whisthg car= in<br />

New-street, Covent Garden, the young whistling man with "cheeks so hollowed by long<br />

--- --<br />

241 bid., I: 266.<br />

'" Ibid., I: 272.<br />

243 Ibid., 273.<br />

2" bid.<br />

245 Mayhew , I: 221.<br />

244 bid.


whistling. that they appeared idmst to have a rowd piece of flesh scooQed out of the<br />

cemre of each of them" as ad Englads om whistling a&<br />

-<br />

daDdag boysw T he warae<br />

glee-singersu0. Ethiopian saecladas U1, and oegro saezmks *'. Many of Mayhew's<br />

readas must have irltntified with the m t customafy cries: '"'ha! yards a penny! Three<br />

yards a penny! Beautifid songs! Newest songs! Popular Songs! Three yards a pemy!<br />

Song, song, songs!" Sellers of Race Cards aad Lists - like Tom Cole, the Wooden Lzg,<br />

Old Bnunmagem, and Hell-Fire Jack who wae all famous sellers of "secoad editions"<br />

ar later editious of the mxning ard evening newspapers, especial.ly the Globe and<br />

Standard - cried out: "Here's Daling's Correct Card of the Races. - Names. weights.<br />

and cdours of the Riders. - Lmgh of Bridle, and Weight of addle**' b effect. in an<br />

oral culture such as this, it must have been impossible to read London Labour silently all<br />

the way through The street voices of London at tk very least must have been read aloud<br />

248 Ibid, 197.<br />

2'9 Ibid.. 199.<br />

One gleesinger told Mayhew "We have been streec vocalists f a twenty-five years. We sing<br />

solos, duets, and glees, and only at night" (Maybew, m: 194).<br />

ZSI<br />

he of the sereDadets told Mayhew: "Sometimes, when we are engaged fa it, we go to<br />

concert-roans and do the nigger-statues, which is the same as the tableaux vivants. We illusuate<br />

the adventures of Pampey, a the life of a negro slave*' (Ibid, 193).<br />

32<br />

Acco~ding to Mayhew, there were "50 Ethiopian serenaders, and above 250 who Live by balladsinging<br />

alme" (Mayhew, IT: 190).<br />

253<br />

Mayhew, I: 221.


(8) In Condubon: 'Words haunted his work and their history gave dues to<br />

the hidden history of the cmwd9'*<br />

Mayhew's obsession with wads signaled affinities behveen languages and cultures.<br />

Mayhew had travelled to India, was flueat in &man and French, and had expaiermd<br />

fusthand the ''primitive" Indo-European languages of Wa, which spearheaded most of<br />

the actual field of philological nsearch at that<br />

And so k attempted to create an<br />

ethnography and history of the street people of LonQn, and by exteasion, ptzhaps a<br />

history of hwmnkid Maytrew's London Labour was a vast<br />

encyclopedia, a library as well as dictionary of Victaian languages, dialects. and<br />

histories. Fa London Labour was riddled with the Romantic befief that 'We aod meaning<br />

lay in the actual wads of the aiginal, and in the use of heir own language."<br />

As<br />

journalist and autha, Mayfrew was "de-heraized*'. brought closer as a kind of evayman<br />

to his readers, and in the process, LoaQn's '-' cultures wae brought closer aad<br />

were leveled too' London fubour was, in effa a Living testimmy to the historywriting<br />

epidemic that swept Victaian society creating some of the most lasting results in<br />

the field of dommntation and historical technique.Y8<br />

The significance of visual fams of representation in Lunhn Labour was made<br />

possible, in pan, by Mayhew's experience with Punch magazim. Punch itself was an<br />

=* bid., 47.<br />

"* Williams, Karel, footnote 1 1-45.<br />

u6 The fovndatim of the expressive thmy of Ranantic aesthetics was the eightgoth-oeocury idea<br />

that language played a central role in knowledge and power, communicatioa and tbe potentials of<br />

human expression.


urban invention. The illustratd magiizh was a rnicr~~~~rn of the modam city. a hodge-<br />

podge of usefbl aad amusing infixmation - short essays and staies. reviews, potted<br />

wisdom. aphaisms, jokes, cartoons, puzzles, and advertisements. Maeover. the Punch<br />

years had given Mayhew the o9pcxtunity to wark with illustrators who used a more<br />

photographic Illustrated Lonhn News style. These London News engravings gradually<br />

took over the rde of broad sheet woodcuts. causing as new communication mdia aiways<br />

do, a major communication shakeup in Fi-<br />

Street journalism. Along with the<br />

devaluation of the labatring pax axxi the -king-ciass<br />

gerrerally, thae was a marked<br />

devaluation of their artistic life, including their traditional aafts fa, as Walter Benjamin<br />

argued traditional arts aod crafts were rmst directly affected by the developments in<br />

mechanical reptoduction, Yet paradoxically, the selfsame development of mechanical<br />

reproduction. that was the endless multiplication of images, created art fix the masses.<br />

both in mass newspapers such as the Morning Chronicle and periodicals such as Punch,<br />

and mass education which made all these accessible to a new insatiable reading public.<br />

The important implications of such a cultural revolution as this, was that bourgeois<br />

sociexy, this literate, urbanized. individualized hegemonic culture, increasingly<br />

undermiaed face-toface traditional saieties "with its emphasis of extending<br />

relationships."*<br />

And Mayhew Lived on the cusp of tk phaographic revolution. He was<br />

an eyewitness to mid-Victorian history, and as an eyewitness, he was deeply concerned<br />

about the impact of written mil, and visual f m of representation on Victorian society<br />

and cultures. This communication revolution must have influeacsd Mayhew in his<br />

approach to the artistic conventions and innovations he eventually used in his weekly<br />

259 Williams, Raymond, 1957.31; Mobsbarn, 1975.300-302.


London Lobwr as he worked alongside Richard BeardZM Beard, England's fjrst<br />

professional photographer, created xmst of the daguarorype, which were the basis of<br />

London Labour's engravings during the late 1840s."' Each weekly issue began with one<br />

of Beard's woodcuts. usually a woodcut of oae of tk streaselem 262. aad although his<br />

work was done in the studio, he portrayed Mayhew's strtxtfdk sympathetically in their<br />

own social and cultural contexts Mayhew reaunt& biind "Old Sarah's" trip to<br />

Beard's studio:<br />

When conveyed to Mr.Beard's establishment to have kr dagumtxxype<br />

taken, she fa the first time in her life rode in a cab; and then her fear at<br />

being pulled "back'ards" as she tamxi it (fa she sat with her back to the<br />

horse), was almost paintirl. She felt about fa soxmbhg to lay hold of,<br />

and did not appear comfortable umil she had a 6rm grasp of the pocket. .<br />

.. Whilst asceading tk high flight of stah that led to the portraitrooms,<br />

she laughed at every progosal ma& to her to rest. When the<br />

mait was hished she expressed a wish to fael it."<br />

260 see Joyce. Visions of the People, 199 1, 230-255.<br />

Taithe. 1996, 10.<br />

263 Taithe, 1996.96.<br />

264 Mayhew, III: 159. "One canna wak 6Ay yards without pwing scme photogr~phic<br />

establishment1', Mayhew commented as he walked along Bermondsey. the New-Cuk and<br />

Whitechapel-rd It was "in Bermoadsey", Mayhew recalled, "that I met with the first instanae of<br />

what may be called pure photograpby" Mere a Mr.F-1 was "taking sixpenny patraits in a booth<br />

built up out of old canvas, and erected aa a piece of spare ground in a furniture-bdrerls yard"<br />

(Mayhew, IIX: 204). One photographic man told Mayhew: 'The faa is, people don't know their<br />

own faces. Half of 'em have never laoked in a glass half a dozen times in their life, and direaly<br />

they see a pair of eyes and a nose, they fancy they are their own" (Mayhew, IIX: 207). Mayhew had<br />

been told: ".. thae arc near u p 250 houses in hdoo now gating a livelihood taking sixperrny<br />

pntraits" (Mayhew. El:210).


The street fdlr's staies wae Maytrew's m t impatant single satrce of information,<br />

In fact, M a w cdlected tens of hwads of wmds of direct qmctage, and in the<br />

dynamic act of recocding aal histay, his Qcuments challenged the writing of Victorian<br />

'canonical' history. In questioning a "regular scavager" about the histay of the streets.<br />

the scavenger took offeace: "Did I eva hear what str-<br />

were like a thousand years ago<br />

It's nothing to me, but they must have been like what they is now. Yes, the was always<br />

streets, or how was people that has tin ever to get their coals takem to them, sod how was<br />

the public houses to ger their beer It's talking noasense, talking that way, a-asking sich<br />

in awha interview with a dustman (rccanmoded to MayhRu by the<br />

dustman's master), "I was proceediag to mte down what he said when the moment I<br />

opened my note-book and took the pedl in my hand, he started up, exclaiming, -'No.<br />

no! I'll have none of that there wmk - I'm not such a b- fml as you takes me to be -<br />

I don't rlnrbrstand it, I tells you, and I'll aot have it, now that's plain;' - and so saying<br />

he ran out of the room, and descended the entire flight of stairs in two jumps. 1 followed<br />

him to explain, but datunately the pencil was still in oae hand and the book in the<br />

other. and immediately I made my appearance at the door he took to his heels, again with<br />

three akn who sgmed to be waiting f a him there."<br />

In the late 1830s. Statistical<br />

Societies in London and Maachmer, compased mainly of professional men, suppressed<br />

most original interview material such as Mayhew's material in favour of statistical<br />

infcxmation. In the 1840s, however, newspaper investigations became, on their own, a<br />

kind of ehogaphic specialty that culminated in Mayhew's Morning Chronicle surveys.


His small-sale interviews were an hpmtant historical collection of the street-fdk's<br />

exmares within single languages as well as differern social languagesm experienced<br />

from within a single ilatid language M a w often recacki tk mas-fdl's<br />

memories as groupings of uttaances, italicizing key pl~as aad sometimes emphasizing<br />

an almost spoken accent. Fa instaace, "'My Little girl began about six, a nitre is the<br />

usual age," a 'Yancy cabinet" wcxler dded<br />

in Mayhew. "Oh, poor little things. " said<br />

the wife,"they are obliged to begin the very minure they can use theirfingzrs at<br />

all. "26g.. . "I've worked more thon a month together, Md the longest night's rest I've had<br />

has been an hour and a quarter; aye, and I've been up three nights a week besides. " . . .<br />

'Why, I stood at this bench" said the wife, "with my child, only ten years of age, from<br />

faur o'clock on Friday mxning till ten minutes past seven in the evening, without a bit to<br />

eat or drink" . . . "Here she burst out into a violent flood of tears, saying, 'Oh, sir. it is<br />

hard to be obliged to labourfhorn morning to night as we do, all of us, little ones and all,<br />

-<br />

-<br />

267 Italians Lived around Lather-lane and Saffron-hill (Mayhew* III: 177). The Italian agan man<br />

told Mayhew: "'I belong to Parma, - to the small village in the duchy. My Eather keep a farm, but<br />

I had three year Id, I think, when he died. There was ten of us altogeder' (bid., 174). The French<br />

hurdy-gurdy player told Mayhew: 'I am Dijon. The vineyard of Cia Nangent is near Dijm. You<br />

have heard ofthat wine. Oh, yes, of cuxse you have!' (bid, 171). A Scottish bagpipe player told<br />

Mayhew: 'My fatber is a Highlander, and was hm in Argyhbire, and there, when he was 14 or<br />

15. he enlisted fa a piper in the 92** (Ibid, 168). A yamg "Qaxen-haired" German told Mayhew:<br />

'I am German and have baen six year in zis country. I was nearly fourtea when I come. I come<br />

firom Oberfeld, eighteen miles firan Hanover' (Ibid, 164). A very handsome native of Bengal told<br />

Mayhew: 'I was bm~ in Calcutta and was Musulman - my parents was Mussulrnan - but I<br />

Christian now. I have been in dis cuatree ten year"' (Ibid.188).<br />

Mayhew's investigative style, his questions and answers, enamaged the ammunicatim of<br />

pre-established themes, whicb regulated or seleaed pertineat topics in everyday discourse. Signs<br />

such as these were invested within the axnplex web of Victorian social values and practices,<br />

which were ultimately traceable to various behavioural genres (Bakhtin, 1986, 123). These genres,<br />

as signs, were thus intertwined within the entire range of affective, moral and emotive Viamian<br />

values (Bakhtin, 1981c[194Ol, 275).<br />

269 Mayhew, 11: 314. The italics are Mayhew's.


and yet not to be able to live by it either. "' 270 Mayhew wove tog-<br />

the mm-folk's<br />

experiences so pmdidly that tkir memaies kan~ the ceata of Mayfrew's own<br />

investigative authority. There were mmmies of ck Crimean "', the Afghan 22,<br />

and tk<br />

Indian war m, mermries of revd~tion~~*, Chartism, th secret life of aristaxatic men 275,<br />

laug)aei', and fagiveaess' "Billy" the aristocratic amsing-sweeps. urged Mayhew<br />

"' A swleeper in Portman Square told Mayhew: "'One of my son's died in the Crimmy, he was in<br />

the 13" Light Dragoons, and died at Scutari. oo the 29' of May' (Mayhew. II: 473). A tan-tcm<br />

Player named Usef Asmaa toid Mayhew 'My braher is thirty-six, and he was in the Crimea, as<br />

steward on b d the Royal Hlydaspes, a steam screw she is"' (Mayhew, Ill: 186).<br />

'7' A streetudesly - a "tall sddierly-1-g man" tdd Mayhew: "'I was in the East India<br />

Company's artillery, 4* crmpsny and 2* httahm. Why. ycs sir. I saw a little of what you may<br />

call 'service.' I was at be fighting at Candahar Bowlinglen, Bowiiag-pass, Clatigillsy, Ghuznee,<br />

and Caboul'" (Mayhew, II: 262).<br />

'73 A bagpipe player told Mayhew T ve served in India and I was at the base of Punjaub. 1848,<br />

and Moultan, 1849. Sir Cdin Campbell crrnmanded us at both"' (Mayhew, ID: 165)-<br />

274 An aaobat told Mayhew "'I was in Paris, tax at the revolutim of 1848, when Philippe<br />

had to nm a. I was in bed, about two o'clock in the morning, when thme that began the<br />

revolutim was coming round - men armed; and they come into ewrybody's bed-room and said,<br />

'You must get up, pu're wanted' I told them I was Englist; and they said, 'It Qesn' t maw; you<br />

get your living here, and you must fight the same as we fight for our liberty'** @layhew, m: 92).<br />

'75 A hackney MBCb driver reminisced about his life with Mayhew: "One night yw sx, sir. I was<br />

called off the stand, and told to take up at the British Coffee-house in Codcspur Street. I was a lad<br />

then, and men I pulled up at the dorx, the waiter ran out and said 'You jump down and get<br />

inside, the Rince is going to drive hisself.'"'<br />

"'I didn't much like tbe notim oa it' be continued,<br />

"'but I didn't exaaly bow what to do, and was gating off my seat to see if the waiter had put<br />

anything inside, for he let down the glass, and just as I was getting down, and had my foot oa the<br />

wheel, out came the Race of Wales. and four a five ratflehahed fellows like himself. . . Well,<br />

sir, rhe Rime drove tbat night to a house in King Street, Saint James's"' (Mayhew, III: 350). He<br />

had further suxies to tell of h d Barryxnore: "'Then me seasm I used to drive Lord Banymore in<br />

his rounds to the brothels - twice a thrice a-week sometimes. He used always to take his own<br />

wine with him. After waiting till near daylight, a till daylight, I've carried my lad, girls and all<br />

- fine dressed-up madams - to Billingsgate, and there left them to healdast at soare queer<br />

place, a to slang with the fishwives"' (Ibid).<br />

276 Mayhew recmjed a cmversatim with a strolling aaor, who was thrust into prism, fa<br />

performing without a license stated:<br />

We were ail in an a wl fright when we found ourselves in the police-cell<br />

that night. . . . 'We were all in our theatrical costumes. I was Hammer, the<br />

auaioaeer, dressed in a lmg white cmt, with the swallow-tails touching


to recad his stories: "'I shodd like y a to ~ put these things down, 'cos it's a fine thusg fa<br />

my character, and I can show my face with any man fa being hoaest, that's me goud<br />

Mayhew was profoundly interested in systems of representation, and the role of the<br />

media in Victorian life. He commented on tk fact that patterm invented a embellished<br />

"avocities which excite the public mid," 2n that 'Vie street-ballad and t l street- ~<br />

mative. Like all pcrprlar -. have ckir influeace on massg of peop1e." a d<br />

the 'pditical charactet and * t of tbe -king-classes appear to me to be a<br />

distinctive feature of the age, and they are a necessary cuusqumce of the dawning<br />

that<br />

intelligare of the mass."<br />

But be was probably unaware that tkse litaiuy genres<br />

profoundly shaped Victaian thinking as did the infamal street genres of ''Punch talk" a<br />

even ''Busiaas calk,'' 2n which was repted to Mayhew by an dd cloths collector.<br />

"'How much is this here"' says the man who c


the Jewish seller. "'I won't give you above half the mnrey. *" "'Half & money, "' cries<br />

the salesman. "'I can't take dat. Vat above tb 16s. dat you offa now vill give you fm it<br />

Vill yau give me eightam Vd, come. give ush your money, I've got ma rent to pay. 9 99283<br />

Regarding "Ptmh talk". the ''shat, dark paforma of Punch" 2Y tdd Mayhew that<br />

"'Bona parlare' mans language; nzum of patter, Yuete munjare' - no food 'Yeute<br />

lente' - no bad 'Yeute bivare' - no drirk I've 'yeute munjare,' ami 'yeute bivare,'<br />

and, what's w;cxse, 'pte lente.' This is better than the costas' talk, because that ain't no<br />

slang at all, and this is a brokea Itaiian, and much hi*<br />

than the casters' lingo. We<br />

know what o'clock it is. besides."<br />

Mayhew's great cdlection of aha area gemes<br />

communicated particular sets of pre-established ttremes as well, such as "murQrs,<br />

seductions, aim. -coos, explaions, alarming accickms, 'assassinations', deaths of public<br />

charactas. duels, and love-letters." X6 Although the fam*ar. i n f i and relatively<br />

flexible sociogenetic structures were seamlessly woven into the entire landscape of<br />

Victcxian affective and maal values, they auld be repressed a lost, potentially<br />

eliminated from uwps of contact by tk cuasensual Victorian society' Mayhew's<br />

representation of Victorian society was not a seamless web, however. It was an urban<br />

"' bid.: Mayhew stated: "[Tbis is still a ma.<br />

*deal." I am assured by me who beg= the<br />

business at 13 years dd, and is now upwards of 60 years of age. The Penicoat-her will always<br />

ask at least twice as much as he means to take] (Mayhew, LI: 29).<br />

Bakhrio's amtributim to the remoceptualizp(ica of Literacy mok plrc around cbe idea that<br />

some of the greatest theoretical discoveries had tab place first, a exclusively, in the conaete<br />

visualizatioa of artistic forms. In other wards, Bakhtin's work c dd be said to be excursions into<br />

the means of representation, whicb enabled the visible, that was, spoken utterances to become<br />

visible as literary genres. Fa Bakhtin, street genres mediated between sociopolitical and ecmanic<br />

life oo the one hand, and language oa the otha. In effect, they were "the drive belts between<br />

history of society and the histcxy of language" (Bakhtin, 1986'65).


wald filled with disparate a d heteroglot manhgs, discoufses, a d symbols culled fiom<br />

a wick variety of written, ad, and visual sources, histmcal periods, and social<br />

experieaces. These meanhgs, discourses, aad symbols were stratified in a spatial main<br />

of mcre inclusive social. political, mi cultural struggles.ag Mayhew was as fascinated<br />

with London's street language as he was with London's spatial seaings. As a result.<br />

London Lobour was created out of a healthy common sense, filled with a love f a<br />

immediate realiflg9 and a clear sense of etymology. What was so important and path<br />

breaking about bndon bur was Mayfiew's sense that London's street-languages were<br />

anything but abstract, rather they w e contexnral, holistic, and me<br />

often than not,<br />

merapharic. Mayhew's recmd of the voices, feelings, a d experieaces of Lordon's<br />

streeddk tint hand, his capacity to bring the ma1 tradition alive fa the first tirm!, was<br />

undrubtedly one of the most sensitive in-depth indicators of chaagiag mid-Victorian<br />

social and cultural practices. By cdlecting aal histay verbatim, he actually staked out<br />

new tenitmyVm like Jules Micklet, the French historian and Maykw's co~ltemp~cary. In<br />

the very act of reaxding dialogue, Mayhew battled his way out of the inherent textual<br />

assumptions about writing into mcxe direct, intense relationships with the people aad<br />

places he described. And in the ead, Lon&<br />

hbour's novelistic elanens "' provided a<br />

'" Mayhew's ~116dous research. documeatatim and wak transfamed his reading of Victoria.<br />

London, which included literacy's msnission, uses and meanings.<br />

See Gardner, 1992, 77.<br />

'' ' Mayhew desaibed a small ehprsccaistic detail about a Regent-Street awing-sarecper: "Once<br />

or twice whilst I was Listening to his statement he insisted upar removing sane dirt fiom my<br />

shoulder, and, on leaving, he by force seized my hat and bushed it - all which habits of atteation<br />

he had coatracted whist in service" (Mayhew, U: 475). Mayhew r ded his first impessims of<br />

the Fantoccini man: 'Wen he paid me a visit, his pearliar erect bearing struck me as he entered.


privileged urban Mntage point fa witmssing saoe of the most mamxable dialogues of<br />

the Victman street-folk without high levels of literacy. Ultimately, Ma*<br />

was looking<br />

fa the ioterstices of history and ~~lemxy, which lay, in part, in an histaid<br />

U-g<br />

of linguistic utlaances in everyday Victaian<br />

We now turn to Chapter 6, 'm Tangled Net: Critical Anthropology, Cultural<br />

Hegemony, and the "Rirnitive/Civilized Debate", which examims several problems<br />

concerning the culhual teasions between the "primitive" street-fdk and the "civiIized"<br />

bourgeois; the dissertation will also lodr at the idea of travel as perfarmance that was<br />

very impommt to Maytrew's urban vision.<br />

He walked without bending his knees. stamped with his heels, and often rubbed his hands together<br />

as if washing them with invisible soap. He wore his hair with the curls arranged in a Brutus, a la<br />

George the Fourth, and his &in was faced up into the air by a high black st* as though he<br />

wished to inaease his stature" (Mayhew. ITI: 60). In Cannabstreet, City, Mayhew recalled that<br />

large "cypbers, scrawled in whitewash on tbe walls and woodwtxk. intimated the different "lots,"<br />

and all spoke of ckmion; the ooly moving thing to be seen, perhaps, was some flapping paper,<br />

t m fran the sides of a roan and which fluwed in the wind" (Mayhew, 11: 293).<br />

'92~ohann Michaelis, the great eighteenth-century Oriental philologist. was also fascinated with<br />

vernacular languages, as 'history Ban below'. Michaelis argued that languages were "an immense<br />

heap of truths and errm of the peapie". They were a special kind of library 'Wexe the discovaies<br />

of men are safe fian any accidents, archives which are proof against fire, and which cannot be<br />

destroyed but with the mal ruin of the people" (Aarsleff, 1967, 146). In The Brief Exposition of<br />

Thoughrs concerning the Origins of Nations, Principally Draun fiom the Evidence of Languages<br />

( 17 lo), Leibnitz also tejeaed Lodre' s semiolic theories, arguing that wds are also signs of<br />

things as well as thoughts. kibitz Weved that there was a natural relatimship between Wings,<br />

sounds and movements of the vocal cads" (Ibid., 88,288). kibitz argueQ as did Bakhtin<br />

centuries later, that doliars must turn to the invisible bonds of language, the ''universal<br />

intermnectioo of things", custom and e m cunmm name in ader to understand the origins of<br />

nations. HiStOCically, he believed that the srnallest details of everyday We, ofren unseen and<br />

unnoticed, were the true and profound causes for things. Mhitz felt that "being the most ancient<br />

of monuments of peoples, before writing and the arts, languages in general best indicate the<br />

cognations and migraticms of peoples" (Ibid., 8692-93). Herder bought sanething new and<br />

synthetic to Gaman Ranantic th- of Language. Fa Herder, language had a -genetic<br />

"altogether inseparable** historical life of its own. In the end, it seems that Herder, Michaelis,


kibitz, Humboldt, Mayhew, and the later Bakhtin Circle, drew on separate h t crmmm<br />

linguistic mces (Ibid, 220).


Chapter 6<br />

The Tsllgled Net: Critid Anthropology, Cultural Hegemony,<br />

and the 'TPrlmitive/Civbed Debate" in Mayhew's London<br />

(1) lntrodurtion<br />

Critical anthropology - as the cultural practice of a comparative, histclcical, and<br />

revolutionary perspective on contemporary Western civilization - also reflects on the<br />

practice of writing as the dominant way that knowledge is productxi in the west. ' And it<br />

cannot fail but argue that Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (1 86 1-62)<br />

was, in certain regards, not only a r md of an expanding civilization, but also the<br />

handmaiden of imperialist litaature and Victman ernpire-building. Fa within the<br />

broader domain of literature, writing practices were Wed to bourgeois domination<br />

within modernity because writing, acccxding to Rousseau, was part of a vast and tangled<br />

net of social ad<br />

cultural factas, which predominated during the niaaeenth century.'<br />

From the very lirst pages of Volume I - "Of Wandering Tribes in ~enaal,'" - London<br />

Labour began with the "primitive/civilized debate" and the practice of cultural<br />

hegemony, which was very central to the ideology of Victorian civilization. The term<br />

"cultural hegemony" refers genaally to a complex set of ideas, meanings. and<br />

associations coupled with ways of expressing those mpanings and associations that depict<br />

unequal circumstances and other fonns of domination, In regards to London Labour more<br />

Roseberry, William, "Mam and Culture." In The Polilics of Culture, ed. by Brett Williams,<br />

Washington and -don: Smithsarian Institution Ress, 1991, 19-43,33.<br />

' Rousseau ("On Script," 1%6,24) understood that as written languages especially scripu became<br />

more analytical and mathematical, the variety of spoken languages became inaeasingly mae<br />

homogenous: The mae a people learn to read, the more are its dialects obliterated."


directly. it can be unlPrstood as a s pdc coaceptual weapon used by ninetemh-<br />

century, middle-class intellectuals such as Maytrew to establish cultural supremacy over<br />

other peaples. gpecially London's labouring par and wakmg<br />

In the end.<br />

despite hundreds of interviews with LonQn's nomadic streer fdk, Maybew still<br />

staunchly believed that he was a standard-bearer of an expanding civilization. Fa<br />

accading to Mayhew, even the most "degraded" master scavengers in the act of publicly<br />

cleaning London's byways symbdized in their own small way progress inherent in<br />

Victorian civilization5 Chap~a 6 seeks to examine several historical and cultural<br />

problems conceming the place of "primitive*' people within Victorian culture. These<br />

intardated problems must also be seen within the context of the Menippea<br />

(cornidgrotesque) with its ckply practical and ethical colrerm6 wkein Henry<br />

Mayhew. as the cultural hao. wamked throughout London's uniolown str-<br />

in search<br />

of adventure. For Mayhew's London fabout thus played an impatant role both within<br />

the 'primitive/civilized debate*', and the "aaVliterate debate". which was discussed in<br />

Chapter 5. Chapter 6 examines how these groups and class formations were patterrred as<br />

well as the practice of nineteenth-century travel literature.<br />

Elias, NorbaL Power and Civility, 198249: Hauser believed that the amcept of the civilizing<br />

proctxs itself was an intellectual weapon. But the thrust of Hauser's argument focused on the<br />

points of cultural tension between ranaatic middle-class sentimentahty and aristocratic classicism<br />

using the dialectic of "roman tic imiratiar and oppositim" (The Social History of An, 1985.3: 55).<br />

Mayhew, IX: 205. However. Mayhew believed that the street-folk, in general. were primitive<br />

even in their diets: 'the uneducated palates of the po


(2) Cultural Hegemony in Mayhew's Lobdon<br />

As we have seen in Chapters 4 and 5, hegemonic culture in bndon Lobour consisted<br />

in the experiences of the street-folk, who did not produce wealth and power. and also had<br />

sharply diminished access to power. Mayhew's folk cultures. for their part, functiod as<br />

a critique of the domination of the Victorian middle-class.' But the subaltern world of<br />

Mayhew's street-folk also normally took fa granted the existence of the frarnewak of<br />

those groups who practiced hegemony. And Mayhew recorded such hegemonic practices.<br />

For events experienced by middle-class Victorians produced fams of ctiscaurse as well<br />

as meanings that were extended apparently successfirlIy to London's street-folk who<br />

could mt have experienced themg In ocha words, the subaltern world of tondon's<br />

street-folk accepted the practices of bourgeois hegemony, even when they challenged<br />

some of irs implications, largely because they had to.' Two ballast heavers. for example.<br />

confided in Mayhew that "they were oppressed by the publican" as well as "the<br />

foreman." 'O Mamva. one of them revealed: "'We are robbed of alI we get by the<br />

foreman and publicans. I was eight years a teetotaler before I went to ballast-work, and<br />

now I am forced to be a drunkard, to my sorrow, to get a job of work"' " " This man<br />

reiterated the constant story of being compelled to drink against his will," Mayhew<br />

recorded, "hating the stuff supplied to him, being kept fa hours waiting before he was<br />

-- -- -- -<br />

'"'Every time the question of language surfaces in one way a the other", Grarnsci argued, "it<br />

means that a series of otbef problems are beginning to emerge: the formation and expansion of the<br />

ruling class, the necessity of establishing closer and formal ties between the leading groups and<br />

national-popular masses, that is of reorganizing the cultural hegemony"' (Gramsci, 198,5,2;<br />

quoted in Gardner, 1993, 232).<br />

8<br />

Ibid.<br />

9<br />

Genevese, 1984.21; quoted in Roseberry, 1991.<br />

lo Mayhew, III: 278.<br />

Ibid., 278-9


paiddbeiagf~dtogacfnrnkwktkrhe~dano."12~newaldadsof<br />

destructive social and ecoaomic pressures also threatend the str-<br />

fdk's ways of life.<br />

For example, they told Mayhew that they had me m~ey ten a twenty years ago than<br />

they had now, and that many occupations seemed to be disappearing by midumtury:<br />

A few years ago the street pie-trade was vay profitable, but it has btxn almost<br />

destroyed by the "pie-shogs" . . . The sale of books by auction in the streets, is now<br />

inconsiderable and irregular. From the historical sketch it appears evident that the<br />

ballad-singer and s e k of today. . . is, hxkk the minstrel having lost caste and<br />

being driven to play cheap. The number of Vermin-Destroyers and Rat-Catchers who<br />

ply their avocation in W has of late years becollle greatly diminished One<br />

cause, which I heard assigned f a this was that many ruinous buildings and old streets<br />

had barn removed, and whole colonies of rats had been thereby extirpated. The<br />

street-sweeping machine therefme, assums an importance as aaother instaace of the<br />

displacement, a attempted displacement, of the labour of man by the mechanism of<br />

an engine."<br />

However hegdc processes were even me<br />

complex. indirect, and problematic<br />

than this. fa understanding the struggle betwea these cultural groups and classes.14<br />

Writers and thinlers, fa iastaace, during the previous mmries, pushed-and-pulled ova<br />

the standardization of the English language with ''tk correspondiog rupproachemenrs,<br />

" bid.. 279.<br />

" Mayhew. 1: 195,295,274,450,23. 22.<br />

l4 William Rosebary argued that *a direct a amneaim between class and culture" implied "mucb<br />

too direct a cooneuion b e m meaning and experience and ignaes the political implications of<br />

cultural insaiptim, the m a r of meaning ban experience in the context of doahation.<br />

Second it ignaes the ambiguous and cmttadictny nature of experierrce itself, which can produce<br />

on 1 y a ccmtradiaay consciousness" (Roseberry. 1991.34; see also Gramsci, 1971,333).


enclosures and s o w ananpced destnrcticm of vernacuiar languages" l5 which<br />

revealed how the dominant educational systexn had hardened into leading groups of<br />

authority. It was not just simply a struggle between oppressors and oppressed. however.<br />

but rather it was a me<br />

complicated process wtrereby the middle-class successfirlly<br />

avoided direct w&ontations with working-class especially in the meas of language and<br />

culture. l6 Mayhew obviously sensed that the battle ova the oral adition was also a battle<br />

over culture. Fcr within this battlegraurd, he staked out his own small claim to history by<br />

recording London's street cultures, their customs, and languages for the very first time.<br />

But in the end, the public wald of Mayhew's strtxt-culture was the place where the<br />

street-folk lost ground by &gas, slowly and unevenly, because they w e largely<br />

divided'' as we have seen in Chapter 5. Increasingly, these kinds of bourgeois hegemonic<br />

practices determined Victorian public social policy and its laws so that in effect to simply<br />

reject Victorian bourgeois culture was really no longer possible. Ihe laws coocerning the<br />

streets of London not only constituted a p owd ally in the multiplicity of cultural<br />

struggles but also constituted, at other times, a powerfbl hegemonic f ad8 Ultimately<br />

the street-folk remained because of practical mcessity, deeply self-absorbed with the<br />

most immediate concans of their own, that is personal day-to-day survival as well as<br />

" Rosebeny* 1991.33. Raymond W i s argued that dinleas and accents, far example, were<br />

rank-ordered in terms of political status and legitimacy. There was, however, no "working-class<br />

speech" in Britain, accocding to Williams,"the oaly class speech in Britain is that of the middle<br />

and upper classes; the remaining variatioos are regiaral" (Williams, 1974, 30).<br />

l6 Lears, T. J. Jackmn, 'The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Roblems and Possibilities." In<br />

American Historical Review, 3 (1990): 567-593, 572.<br />

" Stuart Hall's w k oo "EncodinglDecdng" thinks through linkages tocultural hegemony at the<br />

level of particular social and cultural analysis. Hall argued f a "a canplex structure in dominance"<br />

produced and sustained through linked but distinctive moments in 'pobuctim, circulation,


issues of mobility and freedom, But in tfreir private spaces and private realms of "primary<br />

affections and allegiances in family and aeighbourhood"<br />

these practices proved more<br />

effective in promoting resistance, than did the rational perceptian of class interest as<br />

Raymond Williams has argued. Mayfiew's panerers combined in other words. their own<br />

indigenous cultural leadership with their own sense of prestige and culture. Mayhew<br />

recorded how:<br />

the patterers laugh at telegraph and express trains for rapidity of communication,<br />

boasting that the press strives in vain to rival them - as at a 'hang@ match", for<br />

instance. that the pattaers has the full particulars, dying speech and confission<br />

included - if a cdession be feasible - ready fa the customers the moment the<br />

drop falls, and while the criminal may be struggling. at the very scene of the hanging.<br />

At a distance, he sold it befae the hanging: "if the Times was aoss-examirred about<br />

it", observed oae patterer, "he must confess he's outdone, Wgh he's a rich Times,<br />

and we is pm-fellows." "<br />

Mayhew r8cocded a number of other battles, both public and private, concaning<br />

resistance. outright intimidation, and subordination. Typically, Mayhew found that<br />

bureaucracies wasted his time suppressing or withholding the very information he<br />

required: "Finding my time. therefme, only wasted in dancing attendance upon city coal<br />

officials, I made the best of my way down to the Coal-whippers' Office. to glean<br />

distribution, amsumptim. and reproductim." Each practice retains its own uniqueness and its own<br />

"specific modality, its own forms and conditions of existence" (Hall, 1980, 128).<br />

l9 Williams, Raymoad, 1973. 31.<br />

'O Mayhew, I, 229.


infmtion axxmg tk men ihanselvec." " In an interview. this time. with Loadon's<br />

Dockworkers, Mayhew documented that "om gentleman seemed as anxious to withhdd<br />

information as the oae was to impart it." " Ma*<br />

discovaeb in fact. that the Qpu ty-<br />

superintendent's orders were different with each subcxdinate officer. M a w recorded<br />

that "no answers should be made to any inquiries I might put to them; and it was not until<br />

I had communicated my object to the secretary that I was able to obtain the least<br />

infixmation coacerning even the number of hands employed at different times, a the<br />

armunr of wages paid to thm" " Regarding intimidatinn a lulnpa unwillingly leaked<br />

information to Mayhew that his colleagues intimidated him at wak M a w found that<br />

"only by a series of cross-questionings that any approximation to the truth could be<br />

extracted from him. He was evidently in fear of losing his work a d the tavern to which I<br />

had go= to take his statemem was filled with fa- watching and intimidating him." 24<br />

"We shall be discharged if they know we have told you the truth," several men confided<br />

in ~ a~hew.~ Mayhew revealed some of tk details of che battle for industry control in<br />

the developumts of London's early omnibus industry. He stated that it was "but a series<br />

of struggles and ruimus lawsuits, om proprietor with amher. umil many were ruit~d"~<br />

"Several opposed companies a individuals coalesced or aged," Mayhew discovertxi,<br />

"and these propriaas mw present a unified, and, I believe, a prospaous body." " The<br />

remaining omnibus companies, mw successful and increasingly pow&ul, represeated<br />

Ibid., 111: 234.<br />

'' Ibid., 302.<br />

23 bid.<br />

2' bid.. III: 290.<br />

'5 Ibid., 276.<br />

26 bid.. m: 342.<br />

" bid.


their past struggles and lawsuits as if they were equal and reciprocal. and the praiucts of<br />

history were natural conditions, when in fact they were<br />

Fa his part, M a w<br />

concluded in a maalizing toae - "the proprietors pay their servants fairly, as a general<br />

rule: while. as a g-al<br />

rule. they rigidly exact sobriety, punctuality and cleanliness."<br />

The idea of "culture" is. in any context, vay difficult to grasp, accading to Raymond<br />

Williams. There have been many histmcal changes through which the idea of "culture"<br />

has passed which have eventually influenced its coatempaary meaning. Until the<br />

industrial Revolution, the wad "culture" indicated a process of training animals and<br />

plants, thm by analogy, human beings and the mid Beyond the culture of animals or<br />

crops, there were the brd ategmes'g William argued Tkre was "the general<br />

process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development." 30 k e was also "a<br />

particular way of life, ~ ~~YJNx of a people, a period a a group", which was the basis of a<br />

E.P. Tylor's new and important sense of culture. " Lastly, thae was ''the wmks and<br />

practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity." " There had also been a<br />

widespread association of "culture" with wads such as b'precious" since Mathew Arnold<br />

so to speak of primitive "waking-class culturep* as "culture" has seemed bizarre. To<br />

some, in fact. "waking-class culture is precisely what culture is against." 33<br />

'* Ibid.. 343.<br />

*' Williams, Raymond 1973, 31.<br />

30 Ibid.<br />

31 Ibid., 80.<br />

" bid.<br />

33 Williams, Raymmd 1974, 29.


But it was not chat the world of writing<br />

which was cenaal to London's<br />

"lower sorts" of whom "tk public had less knowledge than the mc~t distant tribes of the<br />

earth", 35 it was tkir capacity to mime a d retell aaies that comprised the outstanding<br />

part of their everyday lives. In fact, their mimetic practices were very important cultural<br />

threads conmcting imagination and physical perf~~na~l~e together that were being<br />

snapped apart in bourgeois culture. The strtxt-fdk's capacity fa play and delight in their<br />

senses was, in many ways, part of rheir schooling." TO get hdd of soxmthing by means<br />

of its likeness - that is, to copy a imitate through "a palpable, sensuous, connection<br />

between the very body of the perceiver and the paceived" '' - was crucial to London's<br />

sum-folk3' For instance, the half-blind fum-yard player told Mayhew how he learned<br />

his crafi: "'I imitate all the animals of the farm-yard on my fiddle: I imitate the bull. the<br />

calf, the dog, the cock, the hen when she's laid an egg, the peacock and the ass. . . . I<br />

studied from nature . . . and I then imitated them on my in strum en^"' " To teach his<br />

goldfinch to sing, the stout exhibitor of birds and mice confided in Mayhew: "'I whistie<br />

to the bird to make it sing. and then when it sings I feed, and pet, and fondle it. until it<br />

Regarding s mt perfmers, Mayhew recaded that street musicians numbered "1000. and the<br />

ballad singers at 250" (Mayhew, III: 158, 162). Concerning street vocalists, there were "50<br />

Ethiopian serenaders, and above 250 who lived by ballad-singing alone" (Tbid.. 190).<br />

35 Mayhew, 1: xv.<br />

36 Mayhew, IU: 149. A father of two little tight-rope dancers and stilt-vaulters told Mayhew:<br />

'Some people, when they teacb their children fa any enrertainmenf torture the little things most<br />

dreadful. There is a great deal of barbarity in teaching cbildren f a the various lines. It's very silly,<br />

because it only frightens the little things, and sane children often will do mucb more by kindness<br />

than ill-usage' (Ibid.).<br />

37 Ibid., 22.<br />

38 A street-danoa told Mayhew that the ballet aras 'all amic like pantomime; indeed, they cune<br />

under that term. only there's no canic scenes a transfamatioas. . . . Nearly all the popular clowns<br />

are famous for their ballet perfamances* (Mayhew, III: 145). The sueet-dancer personally had<br />

made 'Paul Haring my study, and I try to get to perform with him, for be's the best clown of the<br />

day, and a aedit to wak with* (Ibid.).<br />

j9 Ibid., 161.


gets to sing without my whistling - understanding my motioas."'<br />

The happy fantily<br />

exhibitor reiterated his deague's comments: "It's principally done . . . I may tell you. by<br />

continued kindness and petting, and studying tk name of the creatures."' *' The snake.<br />

sword aad knife-swallowa with the strange ''mehod of gaining his livelihood" stated:<br />

"'It was a mate of mine that I was with that first put me up to sword-and-snake<br />

swallowing. I copied of him. and it took me about three months to learn it."' " Dust-men<br />

loved the perfkrmative life too. Mayhew recalled: "They are aiways f d in the gallery.<br />

and greatly enjoy the melodramas perfocmed at the second-class miKlr themes,<br />

especially if there be plenty of murdering scenes in them. The Gamck, previous to its<br />

being burnt, was a favourite resort of the East-end dust-nm. Since that perid they have<br />

patronized the Pavilion and the City of London," " Beyold its inevitable "great<br />

temptation to drink and such-like,"<br />

perfamative life had its unusual. surprising. and<br />

sometimes subconscious advantages. Whithead, the chimney sweep, escaped Newgate<br />

prison using his great 'perfonnative' skills. A colleague rded how Whithead<br />

"'climbed by the aid of his lrnees and elbows a height of nearly 80 feet, though the walls,<br />

in the ccxna of the prison yard, whae this was done, was nearly of an even surface; the<br />

slightest slip could not have failed to have precipitated the sweeper to the bottom."' "<br />

The street risley with ann muscles "as hlly developed as the gilt arms placed as signs<br />

over the gold-beater's shops' ' told Mayh: "'My brotk Sam can dislodge his limbs<br />

bid., 220.<br />

Ibid.<br />

" bid., 117.<br />

" Mayhew, 11: 176-77.<br />

Ibid.. 95.<br />

45<br />

Mayhew, 11: 353.<br />

Ibid.. 98.


and replace them again; and when sleeping in bed, I very often find him lying with his<br />

legs behind his neck It's quite accidental, and Qne without Irrmwing, and comes natural<br />

to him, from being always tumbling. Myself. I ofien in my dreams. often fiighten my<br />

wife by starting up and fialf throwing a summasault, fancying that I am at the theatre,<br />

and Likewise 1 often lie with my heels against my Wd"' " Walter Benjamin's materialist<br />

formulation on "The Mimeric Faculty," written in f 933, substantiates the street-folk's<br />

kinds of experiences:<br />

Nature produces similarities. Oae has only to think of mimicry [of, e-g.,<br />

insects to leaves]. But the highest talent in producing similarities belongs to<br />

human beings. The gift of seeing similaritis that they psess is merely a<br />

rudiment of the famerly powerful drive to make oneself similar, to act<br />

mimetically. Perhaps there is not one of the higher human firnctions that is<br />

not decisively detamiaed at least in part, by the mimetic capacity."<br />

The practice of mimesis has had a history as well." Mimetic cultures waldwide have<br />

left records that were astonishing in their complexity and diversity; not only were they<br />

very differentiated in their regional and ethnic origins, languages, and occupations, but<br />

" Ibid. Mayhew writes: Tumbling is different fian posturing, and means throwing summersets<br />

and walking m your hands; and acrobating means the two together, with mounting three stcxies<br />

high, and balancing each other. These are the definitions I make*' Waybew, III: 98). Mayhew also<br />

records: ''The prinapal distinction betweeo panrrraimes and ballets is that there are mae<br />

cascabes, and trips, and valleys in pantomime. and noae in ballets" (Mayhew, 1x1: 146).<br />

48 Taussig. Michael. Mimesis and Alterity: A Panicukr History of the Senses. London; New York:<br />

Routledge, 1993, 21. Taussig wrote tbat Benjamin's fascinatim with mimesis stemmed fran two<br />

concerns witb "primitive" culture, one was Otherness a alterity, and the other was the resurgence<br />

of mimesis within mobernity. Benjamin affirmed that mimesis was a central human characteristic<br />

"to become and behave like sanething else" (bid., 19).<br />

'' Even with the street-folk, it was probable that "the gift of producing similyities, for example, in<br />

dances, of wbicb mimesis was the ddest hmctioa, and thus also the gift of recognizing them, have<br />

changed with changing history" (Morse, 1982,266).


also they drew heavily on shared genres, fonns, and contents." During the late<br />

eighteenth-and early -es,<br />

peoples we mw label ''popular cultures" were<br />

labeled the "illiterate and inarticulate", ''the pogulace", and 'e public." These peripheral<br />

cultures were also part of widespread unofficial, ~311~0mmacial cultures. As part of these<br />

customary cultures, London's street-fdk appeared "to live mcxe fully in accordance with<br />

their own mvlaas a d custom," " fdlowing NarbeR Elias.<br />

At the "Vic" gallery, Mayhew noted that working-class audiences wae mved by<br />

''vigaous exercise to any emotional speech" rather than uvduptu~ness of sentiment."<br />

Shrill "wfiistling and the brayvos that fdlowed the czar's perfamance9* coupled with<br />

"'dances and comic songs. bawePn tk piecg, are Wred bdca than anything else." "<br />

Mayhew wrote about 'Wle mimic sensuality of the 'penny gaff". " with its ''deafening<br />

shouts" which accompanied the "comic singer, in a battered hat and the huge bow in his<br />

cravat". There were also "[llads jumping hysterically on girls' shoulders, atd girls<br />

laughing hysterically born being tickled by the youths behind them, every one shouting<br />

and jumping. presented a mad sceme of Wghtful enjoyment." To Mayhew's horror -<br />

whether it was at the "Vic"gallery a the 'Temy Gaff" " - tkse dens were the class-<br />

rooms "whae the guiding morals of a life are picked up." " Whetha it was in the town<br />

or in the country, the same exuberant rituals prevailed during harvest-time in the south of<br />

- - - - - -- -<br />

See Neuberg, Victor. Popular Literature: A History and Guide. 1977; Vicinus, Martha The<br />

Industrial Muse: A Study of Nineteen th-Century Britisb Waking-Class Literature, 1974: Burke,<br />

Peter. Popular Culture in Early Modem Europe, hdoa: Temple Smith, 1978.<br />

55<br />

Penny Gaffs were "shops turued into tempaary theatres" (Mayhew, I: 40).


England. Whistling Billy recalled: '"Sometimes, whm tfre last load of the day was going<br />

home . . . they'd make me ge8 up to tfre top of the load and then whistle to them. they<br />

was all merry."'-<br />

"' The men d women used to sleep in a kind of barn. among the<br />

clean straw,"' he recalled '"And afta the --shops<br />

had closed . . . they'd say to me,<br />

"Come up to the dose and give us a tux!,"' and they'd come outside and dance in the<br />

open air. f a they wouldn't la them have no d e s m matches. "* ''<br />

Broad1 y-speaking, the street-folk's "primitive" range of m;mners and customs were<br />

copulating. inflicting pain on animals a oSha human beings. All customs came unda<br />

siege, falling sway under ''civilized" starrdards of Victman delicacy ard self-contro~.~~ At<br />

one pint, Mayhew numed to his readers with a question regarding entacaiament. 'What<br />

notions can the young female fam of marriage and chastity," he queried "whm the<br />

penny theatre rings with applause at the perfmnance of a<br />

wbw sole poiat turns<br />

upon the pantomimic imitation of the umestrahxi indulgence of the most c mpt<br />

appetites of mr nature"<br />

Mayhew lectured his readers that 'Vie first step must be to<br />

provide them with wholesome entenainment," which "would really lift them out of the<br />

moral mire in which they are wallowing." In the process of thinking through his<br />

59 see Kasson, 1984, 144-5. Mayhew's omnibus drivers were ordered "to maintain order in their<br />

vehicles, and to observe that the passengers place themselves so as not to inmode one another.<br />

They are not to take mae persons than they are autharised to carvey, which number must be<br />

notified in the interim and on the exterior of the omnibus." Furthermore, Mayhew recounted that<br />

they were farbidden "'to admit individuals who may be c!nmk, or clad in a manner to disgust a<br />

annoy the aha passengers; neither must they admit dogs, or suffer persons who may drink, sing<br />

a smoke to remain in the carriages; neither must they carry parcels which. &om their size, a the<br />

nature of their amtecrts, may incanmode the passengers" (Mayhew, III: 341).<br />

Mayhew, I: 40.


"civilized" solution, he t u d very briefly to the cultural discussion about how taste was<br />

actually developed within cultures: 'We faget how we ourselves were originally won by<br />

our emotions ", he recalled But thea he quickly returned to his '"primiti~e/civilized'~<br />

analysis. He concluded philosophically: "We exact too much of the paor - because we.<br />

as it were, strive to make true knowledge and true beauty as forbidding as possible to the<br />

uneducated and unrefined, that they fly to theif pmy gaffs . . . their gambling grounds<br />

far pleasures which we deny them, and which we, in our arrogance, believe it is possible<br />

for them to Q without." ''<br />

Mayhew's attitudes wae commonplace. Douglas Jerrdd wrcUe to a friend praising<br />

'%hose thoseeilous revelations of the infettl~ of misery, of wre~chednass, that is<br />

smouldering under w fe&"<br />

adding, with typical self-reproach, "we know mthg of<br />

the terrible life chat is about us. - us, in our smug respenability.'"<br />

Fa all Jarold's<br />

sympathy and respectability, Hobsbawm was right. 'The massive contempt of the<br />

'civilized' fa the 'barbarians' (who included the bulk of labouring porn at home) rested<br />

on this feeling of demonstratad superiority ... the poor, like the outa barbarians, were<br />

talked of as though they were mt properly human at all."<br />

While middle-class<br />

Victorians like Jerrold decried "buttoned-up respectability" on the home fiont, on the<br />

public front the middle-class school system formalized techniques for repression<br />

CiOmiIUtioII, and physical control." "Yet why should a society," Hobsbawm continued,<br />

"dedicated to an economy of profit-making competitive enterprise, to the efforts of the


isolated individual, to equality of rights and opportunity and freedom, rest on an<br />

institution which so t d y denied all of tkse"<br />

It was aot quite that simple: in the first place, bourgeois hypocrisy was not simply a<br />

lie. Mare broadly speaking, bourgeois morality became wuking-class morality as 'the<br />

masses of the 'respectable' wakingclasses" " thmselves rumnly and hesitatingly<br />

adopted the values of tk hegemonic culture." For th tiae between Loadon's dominant<br />

bourgeuis and subordinate labamng poor and waking-class cultures was not an<br />

i-able<br />

border but was rather a permeable memhrm which was interpenetrated<br />

with multiple contradictory voices. But so were the baders betwtsm the labouring poor<br />

themselves. The smx&ras,<br />

M a w recaded, consicked the death huntas to be "the<br />

lowest grack in the ma&." The patterers considaed themselves to be "the aristocracy<br />

of the streas," 'O ('Vr mountebank of old descended from his platfarm into the sneas -<br />

but without his music. his clown or his dress" 71) while, at the same time, they considaed<br />

the waking chimoey-sweeps "as the lowest ader of walas." " Conscious of &'their<br />

mental superiority," the pattaers looked down "upon the costmgers as an inferia<br />

body, with whom they object either to be classed or to associate. The scmn of some of<br />

the pattaers fa the mere msters is as profound as the contempt of the piclcpocker for the<br />

pure beggar." " Patterers wae hardly "bred to a strea life." "This constitutes andha Line<br />

66 Hobsbawm, 1975,237.<br />

67 Ibid., 235.<br />