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vestigated at still greater length, and the protestant people of Britain, the with more happy succe88. In the continued prejudices against their ca. meantime it is not to be denied, that, tholic brethren were gradually but in general, throughout the body of distinctly giving way.
Report of the Committees on the Mendicity and Vagrancy, and on the Police
of the Metropolis.- State of Manners as illustrated in the Evidence led be. fore these Committees.
Among the most interesting sub- of the inhabitants of the British mejects which came this year under the tropolis. attention of the House of Commons, From the evidence of a great num• were those investigated in the two se- ber of intelligent magistrates, clergyveral committees, on the mendicity and men, and church-wardens, who, in virragrancy, and on the police of the me tue of their offices, had seen and known tropolis. A committee on the former much of the indigent in their respec. of these subjects had sat during a con- tive neighbourhoods, it was very clearsiderable part of the last session, un- ly proved, that of that immense numder the direction of Mr Rose, and ber of mendicants wherewith the streets this year the same branch of enquiry of the metropolis are at all times inwas conducted with equal diligence. fested, a very small proportion indeed, The committee on the police, where consists of persons reduced by calaMr Bennet presided, were no less in. mity to the last state of penury, or defatigable, and, although in neither willing to escape from it by the hocase did any immediate legislative enact: nest labour of their hands. The begments ensue, yet the body of informa. gars in London (consisting on the tion collected was quite sufficient to most moderate computation of from shew the propriety, or rather the ne 15 to 20,000 persons) are in general, cessity, of some such measures. To according to this testimony, of the what conclusion the legislature may most abandoned character, indolent, come after a more ample consider- vicious, profligate, who prefer their ation both of evils and of remedies, own degraded life to every other, bewe cannot pretend to guess ; but the cause they consider it as a more lucrae minutes of the evidence led before the tive, lazy, and luxurious one than they committees, contain many very curious could otherwise easily command. These facts, well worthy in the meantime of voluntary outcasts are not, however, being recorded, were it only by reason without some laws of society and soof the light which they throw upon cial compact among themselves. The the manners of several numerous classes streets of the metropolis are portion,
ed out in fragments to the different last to the West Indies with a for. members of the community, who ex tune of 15001. change their stations for the sake of Gains so easily won are not often, varying the deception, or dispose of however, so carefully preserved. The them for money as if they were free. mode of living common amongst the holds. The profits of their base traffic mendicants, presents the strangest mix. are such as to furnish no mean temp. ture of misery and extravagance that tation to the lowest of the people. can well be imagined. Persons who The reward of ordinary labour is des- spend the whole day in the cold, pised by them, because it would ap- smarting under voluntary wounds, and pear they are accustomed to make five, shivering from voluntary nakedness, six, ten, or twelve shillings a-day, and are sure to prepare themselves for these yet not suppose themselves possessed of hardships by “ a breakfast of beafany extraordinary good fortune. The steaks and oyster sauce," and a “glass system of lies and tricks, and feigned or two of heated spirits.” One man diseases, both bodily and mental, by confesses, that “ he never takes the which these persons practise so powertrouble to pocket copper, but always fully upon the minds of the respect. spends that as it comes in the ginable inhabitants, opens up a view of shop.” In the evening after their la. wickedness not more novel than dis- bours are concluded, the beggars asgusting. Parents let out their chil. semble in public houses, some of these dren for hire, to be carried about in of no mean appearance, chiefly or ex. the arms of others, for the purpose of clusively frequented by persons of their exciting compassion ;*others send forth profession. À parish officer of Whitechildren more advanced in growth to chapel mentions, that he has been prebeg by themselves, and in order to en. sent at the banquets with which they hance the violence of their importuni: regale themselves in a house in that tics, punish them at night with stripes parish known by the name of the Begand hunger, if they dare to return gar's Opera. Hams and beef are their without the two or three shillings usual fare ; its inmates never touch which it is supposed possible for them broken victuals, but throw away what. to gain during the day. Old women ever is given them, or sell it to the hold schools in the night to teach these dealers in dogs-meat. On great occa. young creatures the arts of cursing and sions their table is graced by a goose reviling, the language of the streets.” roasted with sausages, which in their The more skilful proficients in this cant is called “ an alderman hung in shameful trade earn profits which it chains ;” and the evening uniformly is difficult for us to believe possible; closes in a scene of drunkenness and upone violent man, a lame sailor, possess roar. Some of the mendicants are proed of a pension from Greenwich Hos- vided with comfortable lodgings, but pital, whose stationis St Paul's Churchthe greater part are less careful as to yard, confessed that thirty shillings a. this, than as to their diet. Their geneday are with him no unusual gaio. And ral fashion is to sleep in houses set apart it is asserted that another artful beg- for their use, where a bundle of straw gar, a Negro, who had for many years is retained for a penny by the night. infested Finsbury Square, retired at In these habitations they are crowded
*“ I have seen a woman sit with twins for ten years," said one witness, “and they never exceeded the sane age."
together in such a noisome and offensive able distance from London, which cirmanner, that it is no wonder all manner cumstanceaffords, of course, every faciof foul diseases are engendered within lity of escape to those who desire not their walls. A witness asserts to the the voyage. Neither has it been attempt. committee, that he has seen forty beg. ed (nor indeed is it easy to conceive by gars, male and female, young and old, what means such an attempt could be spending the night in “ one large made,) to prevent vagrants, who have round bed,” in a house in St Giles's ! submitted to one voyage homewards, It is ascertained that a very large pro- from crossing the sea again to Eng. portion, at least one fourth, of the land the moment they please to do so. whole of the beggars in London are The apprehension of a mendicant, alIrish. These live together chiefly in though for every such apprehension a the district which has last been men. statute reward of ten shillings is protioned, huddled together in immense vided, is a matter of comparatively rare multitudes, (700 in one small court for occurrence, and of some difficulty. example) and presenting in the midst The seizing of a beggar is always reof London, and in the immediate sisted by himself, and very frequently neighbourhood of some of its most his part is taken by the byestanders. elegant squares and streets, a spectacle The reward, when he is finally seized, of vice and misery no less disgraceful is diminished by the levying of fees in to the police, than disagreeable to the theoffice of the magistrate before whom inhabitants. To remove these objects he is brought. The purpose of the sei. of just condemnation, but certainly zure is nullified by the facility with not the less on that account of just which magistrates dismiss offenders, pity, from the habitations they have whom it it so difficult a matter to disthus selected for themselves, in one pose of; and still more by the facility great city, and disperse them among of escape, to which allusion has already their native parishes, is the first ob- been made. ject in the eyes of every magistrate
There is too much reason to suspect under whose inspection these cases that a very considerable number of the come ; but in comparatively very few mendicants in London are paupers be. instances can this be accomplished. longing to the parishes of the metro
The English vagrants sent by passes polis, and farmed, as is the custom of to their native districts, are indeed most of these parishes, to persons who, carried a stage or two from London, having no object in view but gain, are but as those to whom the business of very willing to allow their inmates to conveying them is farmed out have no go out and beg for the sake of the interest in the safe conclusion of their consequent saving in the expenses of journey, they then very frequently make their own establishment. Another, their escape, and return to the scene of and by far the most dangerous and oftheir former depravities by some dif- fensive class of mendicants, consists of ferent route. The removal of the Irish pensioners of Greenwich and Chelsea, is attended with still greater difficulties; men who scruple not in the less frefor the seaports from which they are quented outskirts of the city to be commonly and most conveniently em. sometimes more than beggars. basked, are situated at a very consider. Whether the evils implied in these
That is when the mendicant is begging out of his own parish. The reward is enly five shillings when the transgression is committed within his own parish.
facts have for some years past been on polis, from the darker nature of the the increase or the 'decrease, it is far offences into which it was their purfrom easy to form any opinion ; on pose to investigate, was of a still more this point the most opposite state. distressing nature. While it appearments were brought forward by gen. cd from every testimony that the num. tlemen of high respectability, who had, ber of offences of the more violent and as it seemed, enjoyed nearly equal op- desperate kind had been for some years portunities of obtaining accurate in- very much on the decrease, and that the formation. The increased number of institution of a regular horse patrole had juvenile offenders, however, which was almost entirely delivered the environs uniformly admitted in the evidence be- of the metropolis from the more dar. fore the police committee, would lead ing species of depredators with which to a suspicion, that the symptoms on they had formerly been infested, there which some persons thought there was no evidence of any proportionate was a diminution in the number of diminution in regard to the less fero. mendicants must have been illusory. cious kinds of depravity-above all, The use of ardent spirits has become there seemed to be but too much reaevery year more prevalent among the son, as has already been stated, to vulgar of all classes, and while that conclude that the number of juvenile tendency continues, it is not likely offenders and depredators had been rethat the sum of any species of misery markably on the increase. The pracor vice among them shall be lessened. tised thieves, grown skilful in avoiding Testimony, however, and that of the by the manner of their offences the strongest kind, was borne to the par- more terrible punishments of the law, tial efficacy of various benevolent have learned with equal success to schemes set on foot by the zeal of in- transfer, in the greater number of individuals for the reforming and re- stances, the risk of what does remain claiming of the poor. The effects from themselves, to corrupted chilproduced by attendance on Sunday dren, theinstruments and companions of schools, as it appeared from many their guilt. Boys of twelve, nine, nay pleasing examples cited to the com- of six years, have been found capable, mittee, had been very generally of the not of executing merely, but of planmost salutary nature, both on the pu- ning and directing, the most cunning pils and on their parents. Neither schemes of wickedness. With prehad one great establishment for re. mature violence and deceit, these creaceiving vagrants, and supplying those tures have mingled premature desires. willing to work with the means of They game, they drink, they entertain labour, prored without benefit. Es- mistresses of years proportionate to tablishments of the same species, and their own ; *they share all the vices upon a larger scale, were indeed among of men, and in not a few cases, they the few means of remedy hitherto tried, have undergone the last severity of the which it appeared probable the com- law. Their instructors in the arts of mittee would in the end of their en- wickedncss, lead, like the mendicants quiries recommend to the adoption of whom we have already described, lives the legislature.
of merriment among themselves, cut The evidence brought before the off from all other society, except, as it committee on the police of the metro- would seen:, that of the inferior officers
These creatures, sometimes of seven or eight years of age, they call by the cant name of “ Flash-girls.”