Touring The Sewers Of Victorian London

My last post was all sappy messages of love with pictures of pretty flowers and adorable children and adorable children holding pretty flowers. So, in the words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” This time I’m taking a journey into the dark, smelly, watery underbelly of Victorian London: the sewer.

I’m excerpting from a four-part article titled “Underground London” found in All The Year Round, edited by Charles Dickens. These articles were published in 1861, three years after the Great Stink (Here’s a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on the Great Stink) and during the time that Joseph Bazalgette worked on the sewers. After All The Year Round, I’m excerpting from London Labour and the London Poor, by Henry Mayhew from 1851.

I couldn’t find many images of Victorian London sewers, so I’m using this eerie image “The Silent Highway Man” from Punch in 1858. It depicts Death rowing on the polluted Thames River.

Excerpt from Underground London Part III:

On applying to the proper authorities, I was obligingly told that they had not the slightest objection to gratify what they evidently thought a very singular taste. I was even asked to name my sewer. They could favour me with an extensive choice. I might choose from about one hundred and seventy miles of legally constituted “main” sewers, running through some hundred and eighty outlets into the Thames; or, if I liked to trespass upon “district” and “private” sewers, they could put me through about sixteen hundred miles of such underground tunnels. They had blood-sewers—a delicate article—running underneath meat markets, like Newport-market, where you could wade in the vital fluid of sheep and oxen; they had boiling sewers, fed by sugar-bakeries, where the steam forced its way through the gratings in the roadway like the vapour from the hot springs in Iceland, and where the sewer-cleansers get Turkish baths at the expense of the rate pavers. They had sewers of various orders of construction—egg-shaped, barrel-shaped, arched, and almost square; and they had sewers of different degrees of rcpulsiveness, such as those where manufacturing chemists and soap and candlemakers most do congregate. They had open rural sewers that were fruitful in watercresses; and closed town sewers whose roofs are thickly clustered with what our scientific friends call “edible fungi.” The choice was so varied that it was a long time before I could make up my mind, and I decided, at last, upon exploring the King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer, which commences in the Finchley New Road, and ends in the Thames a little above Vauxhall-bridge.

If the literary executors of the late Mr. Leigh Hunt had not cut the ground from under me in the title of a book just published, I might possibly have called this chapter A saunter through the West-End. We have all our different ways of looking at London. The late Mr. Crofton Croker had his way, as he has shown in his Walk from London to Fulham; and I have mine.

Sewer-cleansers are a class of workmen who seldom come prominently before the public. They have never made any particular noise in the world, although they receive in London every year about five and twenty thousand pounds sterling of public money. Their wages, individually, may average a pound a week. They have never distinguished themselves by producing any remarkable “self-made men;” any Lord Chancellors, or even Lord Mayors; and have never attempted, as a class, to raise themselves in the social scale.” They are good, honest, hard-working underground labourers, who often meet extreme danger in the shape of foul gases, and sometimes die at their posts—as we saw the other day in the Fleet-lane sewer.

Some half-dozen of these men, with a foreman of flushers, attended me on the day I selected for my underground survey. They were not lean yellow men, with backs bent by much stooping, and hollow coughs produced by breathing much foul air. Their appearance was robust; and, as I measured bulk with one or two of them, I had no reason to be proud of any superior training.

There seems to be only one costume for underground or underwater work, and the armour necessary for sewer-inspecting will do for lobster catching on the coast, or for descending in a sea diving-bell. The thick worsted stockings coming up to the waist, the heavy long greased boots of the seven league character, the loose blue shirt, and the fan-tailed hat, may be very hot and stifling to wear, but no sewer inspector is considered properly fortified without them.

There is a fatal fascination about sewers; and, whenever a trap-door side entrance is opened, a crowd is sure to gather about the spot. The entrance to the King’s Scholars’ Pond Main Sewer, that I decided to go down by, is close to the cab-stand at St. John’s-wood Chapel, and twenty cabmen were so much interested in seeing me descend with my guides, that the offer of a fare would have been resented as an annoying interruption.

“Rather him than me; eh, Bill ?” said one.

“That beats cab-drivin’,” said another.

The side entrance is a square brick-built shaft, having a few iron rings driven into two of its sides. These rings form the steps by which you ascend and descend, putting your foot on one as you seize another. I felt like a bear in the pit at the Zoological Gardens, as I descended in this fashion; and I dare say many respectable members of parochial-sewer-eommittees have gone through the same labour, and have experienced the same feeling. Before the iron trap-door over us was closed by the two men left to follow our course above ground, I caught a glimpse of a butcher’s boy looking down the shaft, with his mouth wide open. When the daylight was shut out, a closed lantern was put in my hand. I was led stooping along a short yellow-bricked passage, and down a few steps, as if going into a wine-cellar, until I found myself standing knee-deep in the flowing sewer.

The tunnel here is about four feet high, and six feet broad; being smaller higher up towards the Finchley New Road,and growing gradually larger as it descends in a winding course towards the Thames. All main sewers may be described roughly, as funnel-shaped; the narrow end being at the source in the hills; the broad end being in the valley, where it discharges into the river. The velocity of their currents varies from one to three miles an hour. The most important of them discharge, at periods of the day, in dry weather, from one thousand to two thousand cubic feet of sewage per minute, the greatest height being generally maintained during the hours between nine in the morning and five in the afternoon. At other periods of the day the same sewers rarely discharge more than one-fourth of this quantity. The sizes of these underground tunnels, at different points of their course, are constructed so that they may convey the waters flowing through them with no prospect of floods and consequent bursting, and yet with no unnecessary waste of tunnelling. Here it is that the science of hydraulic engineering is required.

Turning our face towards the Thames, we waded for some time, in a stooping posture, through the sewer; three of my guides going on first with lanterns, and two following me. We passed through an iron tube, which conveys the sewage over the Regent’s Canal; and it was not until we got into some lower levels, towards Baker-street, that the sewer became sufficiently large to allow us to stand upright.

Before we arrived at this point, I had experienced a new sensation. I had had an opportunity of inspecting the earthenware pipe drain—I am bound to say, the very defective pipe drainage—of a house that once owned me as a landlord. I felt as if the power had been granted me of opening a trap-door in my chest, to look upon the long-hidden machinery of my mysterious body.

When we got into a loftier and broader part of the tunnel, my chief guide offered me his arm: an assistance I was glad to accept, because the downward flood pressed rather heavily against the back of my legs, and the bottom was ragged and uncertain. I could not deny myself the pleasure of calling this chief guide, Agrippa, because Agrippa is a Roman name, and the Romans have earned an immortality in connexion with sewers. Whatever doubts the sceptical school of historians may throw upon the legends of Roman history, they cannot shake the foundations of the Roman sewers. Roman London means a small town, bounded on the East by Walbrook, and on the West by the Fleet. You cannot touch upon sewers without coming upon traces of the Romans; you cannot touch upon the Romans without meeting with traces of sewers. The most devoted disciple of Niebuhr must be dumb before such facts as these, and must admit that these ancient people were great scavengers, as well as great heroes.

Agrippa took a real pleasure in pointing out to me the different drains, private sewers, and district sewers, which at intervals of a few yards opened into our channel through the walls on either side.

“We’ve nothin’ to do with the gover’ment of any of these,” he said; “they are looked after, or had ought to be looked after, by the paroch’al boards.”

“You look after branches?” I replied.

“Only when they’re branches of prop’ly construed main sewers. We,” he continued, and he spoke like a chairman, “are the Metropolitan Board of Works, and we should have enough to do if we looked after every drain-pipe in London.”

“What’s the length of those drain-pipes all over London,” I asked, “leaving out the sewers?”

“No one knows,” he said. “They do tell me somewhere about four thousand miles, and I should say they were all that.”

We went tottering on a little further, with the carriages rumbling on the roadway over our heads. The splashing of the water before and behind us, as it was washed from side to side by the heavy boots of all our party, added to the noise; and when our above around followers let the trap-door of some side entrance fall, a loud booming sound went through the tunnel, as if a cannon had been fired. The yellow lights of the lanterns danced before us, and when we caught a glimpse of the water we were wading in above our knees, we saw that it was as black as ink. The smell was not at all offensive, and Agrippa told me that no man, during his experience in the London sewers, had ever complained of feeling faint while he moved about or worked in the flood; the danger was found to consist in standing still. For all this assurance of perfect comfort and safety, however, my guides kept pretty close to me; and I found out afterwards that they were thus numerous and attentive because the “amateur” sewer inspector was considered likely to drop.

“There,” said Agrippa, pointing to a hole at the side, down which a quantity of road sand had been washed, “ that’s a gully-trap. People get a notion that heavy rains pour down the gutters and flush the sewers; for my part, I think they bring quite as much rubbish as they clear away.”

At different parts of our course we passed through the blue rays of light, like moonlight, that came down from the ventilator gratings in the highway above. While under one of these we heard a boy whistling in the road, and I felt like Baron Trenck escaping from prison. Some of these gratings over our heads were stopped up with road rubbish; and Agrippa, who carried a steel gauging-rod, like a sword, in his hand, pierced the earth above us, and let in the outer light and air.

“They’re nice things,” he said, alluding to the ventilating gratings, generally set in the top of a shaft-hole cut in the crown of the arch.

“I remember the time when we’d none of those improvements; no side entrances, no nothing When we wanted to get down to cleanse or look at a sewer, we had to dig a hole in the roadway, and sometimes the men used to get down and up the gully-holes to save trouble.”

“You must have had many accidents in those days?”

“Hundreds, sir, were suffocated or killed by the gas; but since Mr. Roe* (*The late Mr. Rose, for many years surveyor to the Holborn and Finsbury Commissioners of Sewers.) brought about these improvements, and made the sewers curve instead of running zigzag, we’ve been pretty safe.”

The “gas” alluded to by Agrippa includes carburetted hydrogen, sulphuretted hydrogen, and carbonic acid gas. The first is highly inflammable, easily explodes, and has frequently caused serious accidents. The second is the gaseous product of putrid decomposition; it is slightly inflammable, and its inhalation, when it is strong, will cause sudden death. The third is the choke damp of mines and sewers, and its inhalation will cause a man to drop as if shot dead. These are the unseen enemies which Agrippa and his fellows have constantly to contend against, more or less.

As we staggered further down the stream, it was evident that Agrippa had his favourites among the district sewers. Some he considered to be “pretty” sewers; others he looked upon as choked winding channels, not fit to send a rat up to cleanse, much less a Christian man. Looking up some of these narrow openings with their abrupt turns, low roofs, and pitch-black darkness, it certainly did seem as if sewer-cleansing must be a fearful trade. The sewer rats, much talked of aboveground, were not to be seen; and their existence in most of the main sewers is a tradition handed down from the last century. Since the improved supply of water, which is said to give to every dweller in London, man, woman, and child, a daily allowance of forty gallons per head, the rats have been washed away by the increased flood.

Although underground, we passed over the metropolitan railway in the New-road, and then along the line of Baker-street, under Oxford-street, and through Berkeley-square. This aristocratic neighbourhood was loudly announced to us by our aboveground followers, down an open “man-hole ;” but there was nothing in the construction of our main sewer, or in the quality of our black flood, to tell us that we were so near the abodes of the blest. Looking up the “man-hole,” an opening in the road, not unlike the inside of a tile-kiln chimney, down which some workmen had brought a flushing-gate, I saw another butcher’s boy gazing down upon his mouth wide open.

The flushing-gate was an iron structure, the exact width of the sewer, and about half its height. These gates are fixed on hinges at at the sides of the all the main sewers at certain distances from each other; and when they are closed by machinery, they dam up the stream, producing an artificial fall of water, and so scouring the bed of the sewer.

As we got lower down our great underground channel, the roof became higher and higher, and the sides broader and broader; but the flooring, I am sorry to say, became more jagged and uneven. The lower bricks had been washed out, leaving great holes, down which one or other of my legs kept slipping at the hazard of my balance and my bones. We peeped up an old red-bricked long-disused branch sewer, under some part of Mayfair, that was almost blocked up to the roof with mountains of black dry earthy deposit. Not even here did we see any traces of rats, although the sewer was above the level of the water in our main channel. The King’s Scholars’ Pond (so Agrippa told me) has had five feet of water in it, at this point, during storms; but this was not its condition then, or we should hardly have been found wading there. The bricks in this old Mayfair sewer were as rotten as gingerbread; you could have scooped them out with a teaspoon.

In Piccadilly wo went up the side entrance, to get a mouthful of fresh air and a glimpse of the Green Park, and then went down again to finish our journey. I scarcely expect to be believed, but I must remark that another butcher’s boy was waiting with open mouth, watching every movement we made, with intense interest.

We had not proceeded much further in our downward course, when Agrippa and the rest of the guides suddenly stopped short, and asked me where I supposed I was now?

 “I give it up,” I replied.

“Well, under Buckingham Palace,” was the answer.

Of course my loyalty was at once excited, and taking off my fan-tailed cap, I led the way with the National Anthem, insisting that my guides should join in chorus. Who knows but what, through some untrapped drain, that rude underground melody found its way into some inner wainscoting of the palace, disturbing some dozing maid of honour with its mysterious sounds, and making her dream of Guy Fawkes and many other subterranean villains?

Before I leave this deeply-interesting part of the King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer, I may as well say that I am fully alive to its importance as the theatre of a thrilling romance. That no writer of fiction may poach, upon preserves which I have made my own, I will state exactly what kind of story I intend to write, as soon as I have got rid of a row of statistics that are beckoning to me in the distance. My hero will run away with one of the Royal Princesses, down this sewer, having first hewn a passage up into the palace through its walls. The German Prince, who is always going to marry the Royal Princess, whether she likes him or not, will be murdered in mistake by a jealous sewer-flusher, the villain of the story; and the hero having married the Princess at some bankside church, will live happily with her ever afterwards, as a superintendent of one of the outfall sewers. If this story should meet with the success I anticipate, I promise to raise some memorial tablet in the sewer under the palace, to mark my gratitude and the royalty of the channel. If any reader think the mechanical part of this story impossible, let me tell him that two friends of mine once got into the vaults of the House of Commons through the sewers.

Soon after we left this spot, we came upon a punt that had been poled thus far up the stream to meet us, and carry us down to the Thames. I took my seat with Agrippa, while the other guides pushed at the sides and stern of the boat, and I thought this was a good time to put a few

questions to the men about the treasures usually found in the sewers. The journey was wanting in that calmness, light, and freshness, which generally characterise boat voyages; and while there was a good deal of Styx and Charon about it in imagination, there was a close unpleasant steam about it in reality. Still, for all this, it furnished an opportunity not to be thrown away, and I at once addressed Agrippa.

“Well,” he said, “the most awful things we ever find in the sewers is dead children. We’ve found at least four of ’em at different times; one, somewhere under Notting-hill; another, somewhere under Mary’bone; another, at Paddington; and another at the Broadway, Westminster.”

“We once found a dead seal,” struck in one of the men pushing the boat.

“Ah,” continued Agrippa, “so we did. That was in one of the Westminster sewers—the Horseferry-road outlet, I think, and they said it had been shot at Barnes or Mortlake, and had drifted down with the tide. We find mushrooms in great quantities on the roof, and icicles as well growing amongst ’em.”

“Icicles!” Isaid; “why, the sewers are warm in winter. How do you account for that?”

“I don’t mean what you call icicles,” he replied. “I mean those white greasy-looking things, like spikes of tallow.”

“Oh, stalactites,” I said.

“Yes,” he answered, “that’s the word. We sometimes find live cats and dogs that have got down untrapped drains after house-rats; but these animals, when we pick ’em up, are more often dead ones.”

“They once found a live hedgehog in Westminster,” said another of the men. “I’ve heard tell on it, but I didn’t see it myself.”

“Of course,” continued Agrippa, confidentially, “a good deal may be found that we never hear of, but there’s lots of little things picked up, and taken to the office. We’ve found lots of German silver and metal spoons; iron tobacco-boxes; nails, and pins; bones of various animals; bits of lead; boys’ marbles, buttons, bits of silk, scrubbing-brushes, empty-purses; penny-pieces, and bad half-crowns, very likely thrown down the gullies on purpose.”

“We’ve found false teeth—whole sets at a time,” said one of the men, “‘specially in some of the West-end shores.”

“Ah,” continued Agrippa, ” and corks; how about corks? I never see such a flood of corks, of all kinds and sizes, as sometimes pours out of this sewer into the Thames. Of course we find bits of soap, candle-ends, rags, seeds, dead rats and mice, and a lot of other rubbish. We enter these things in our books, now and then, but we’re never asked to bring’ em afore the Board.”

“Do any thieves, or wanderers, get into the sewers,” 1 asked, “and try to deprive yon of these treasures?”

“Very few, now-a-days,” he replied. “Some of ’em creep down the side entrances where the doors are unlocked, or get up some of the sewers on this side when the tide is low, under the idea that they’re going to pick up no end of silver spoons. They soon find out their mistake; and then they take to stealing the iron traps off the drains.”

By this time our bark had floated out of the broad archway of the sewer—an arch as wide as any bridge-arch on the Regent’s Canal, and we were anchored in that pea-soup-looking open creek that runs for some distance along the side of the Equitable Gas Works at Pimlico. The end of this creek, where it enters the Thames, is closed with tidal gates which are watched by a kind of sewer lock-keeper who lives in a cottage immediately over the sewer. He cultivates flowers and vegetables at the side of the channel, and his little dwelling is a model of cleanliness and tasteful arrangement. His health is good, and he seems satisfied with his peculiar position; for, instead of reading pamphlets on sewers and sewage-poison in the intervals of business, he cultivates game-cocks, and stuffs dead animals in a very creditable manner:

He dwells amongst the untrodden ways

Beside the spring of Dove—

A spring that very few can praise,

 And not a soul can love!

Let us hope that the sewer-doctors and their theories will never reach him, or they might painfully disturb his mind.

Excerpted from Underground London Part IV:

Still I asked for more. I wished to see one of lie oldest working hands on the sewer establishment; a hoary mudlark who had been seasoned by nearly half a century’s training, and who might fairly be regarded as a hermit of the sewers.

With some little difficulty, an old workman was found, who was not, surprised to hear that I had been down various sewers, and took a deep interest in them. Nothing appeared to him more natural than that people should like to go down sewers, and to talk about them for hours together.

My companion, encouraged from time to time by my questions, began to unfold his fifty years’ experiences. He was a stout, healthy-looking old man, with a face not unlike a large red potato. He was good-tempered, and proud of his special knowledge; but not presuming. In this be differed from one or two other workmen whom I had met, who seemed to wish me to understand that they, and they alone, knew all about the London sewerage system. His language was frequently rather misty; but a very little grammar will go a long way in the sewers, and working men have something else to think of beyond aspirating the letter H.

“They was like warrens,” he said, alluding to the old south-side sewers ; ” you never see such shores (sewers). Some on ’em was open; some was shut; an’ some was covered over with wooden platforms, so’s to make the gardings all the larger. Some o’ the shores was made o’ wood, spesh’ly about Roderide; an’ at S’uth’ark the people used to dip their pails in ’em for water. They made boles in ’em, so’s to get at the water when  the tide was up, an’ I’ve seen ’em dippin’ often nigh Backley and Puckins’s.”

 “Did you ever meet with any accident,” I asked, “during the long time you have worked in the sewers?”

“Oh yes,” he said; “I’ve bin knocked down a dozen times by the gas; spesh’ly nigh the dead ends o’ shores, an’ I’ve bin burnt over an’ over agen. When your light goes out, you may know summat is wrong, but the less you stirs about the muck the better. I’ve carried a man as ‘as bin knocked down, nigh a mile on my lines [loins] in the old days afore we could get to the man-hole. It’s pretty stuff, too, the gas, if you can only lay on your back when it goes ‘whish,’ an’ see it runnin’ all a-fire along the crown o’ the arch.”

“I dare say,” I said; “but sewers are quite bad enough to walk in, without such illuminations.”

“Shores is all right,” lie returned, rather pettishly ; “it’s the people as uses ’em that don’t know how to treat ’em. There’s the naptchamakers, an’ those picklin’ yards where they soaks iron in some stuff to make it tough; they’re nice places, they ar, an’ nice messes they makes the shores in, at t imes. Then there’s can’le an’ soap-manyfact’rers, which sends out a licker, that strong, that it will even decay i’on an’ brickwork, Then there’s gas-tar-manyl’act’rers agen. We’re ‘bliged to go to all o’ these people afore we goes down the shore, an’ ask ’em to ‘old ‘ard. If we didn’t do that, there’d be more on us killed than is.”

“I suppose,” I said—of course with a view of getting information—” the sewers you go up are often very small?”

“Some is two foot shores,” he replied, “an’ they’re tighteners; others is three foot barrels; an’ others is larger.”

“Did you ever hear of any murder being committed in the sewers?” I asked, not being willing to give up the chance of a romantic story without a struggle.

“There was one open shore,” he said, “that some o’ the foremen used to call ‘old Grinacre,’ in the S’uth’ark districk, but that’s bin covered over many years.”

“What about that ?” I asked, eagerly.

“Well,” he said, “it used to bother us a good deal. One mornin’, when the tide was all right, we goes down to work, an’ picks up a leg !”

“A human leg?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “all that, an’not a wooden one neither. Another night, when the tide was all right agen, we goes down, an’ we finds another leg!”

“Another human leg?” I asked, in astonishment.

“Ev’ry inch on it,” he returned, “an’ that ain’t all. Another time we goes into the same shore, an’ we finds a arm, an’ another time we goes down, an’ we finds another arm.”

It seemed very annoying to me that my companion was compelled to sneeze and cough at this point of his story for about five minutes.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “the foreman put ‘cm down in his book, an’ they went afore the Board, an’ it was a long time afore the Board could make anythin’ of ’em. They sent a hinspector down, an’ we found a few more legs,—ah, an’ even ‘eads, to show ‘im.”

“What was the solution of the mystery?” I said, getting impatient.

“Well,” he replied, “the cat came out o’ the bag, at last. It was body-snatchers an’ med’cal studen’s. When the gen’elmcn at the hospital ‘ad clone cutting up the bodies, they gets rid o’ the limbs by pitchin’ ’em into the open shore.”

Excerpt from London Labour and the London Poor:

In my inquiries among that curious body of men, the “Sewer Hunters,” I found them make light of any danger, their principal fear being from the attacks of rats in case they became isolated from the gang with whom they searched in common, while they represented the odour as a mere nothing in the way of unpleasantness. But these men pursued only known and (by them) beaten tracks at low water, avoiding any deviation, and so becoming but partially acquainted with the character and direction of the sewers. And had it been otherwise, they are not a class competent to describe what they saw, however keen-eyed after silver spoons.

The following account is derived chiefly from official sources. I may premise that where the deposit is found the greatest, the sewer is in the worst state. This deposit, I find it repeatedly stated, is of a most miscellaneous character. Some of the sewers, indeed, are represented as the dust-bins and dung-hills of the immediate neighbourhood. The deposit has been found to comprise all the ingredients from the breweries, the gas-works, and the several chemical and mineral manufactories; dead dogs, cats, kittens, and rats; offal from slaughter-houses, sometimes even including the entrails of the animals; street-pavement dirt of every variety; vegetable refuse; stable-dung; the refuse of pig-styes; night-soil; ashes; tin kettles and pans (pansherds); broken stoneware, as jars, pitchers, flower-pots, &c.; bricks; pieces of wood; rotten mortar and rubbish of different kinds; and even rags. Our criminal annals of the previous century show that often enough the bodies of murdered men were thrown into the Fleet and other ditches, then the open sewers of the metropolis, and if found washed into the Thames, they were so stained and disfigured by the foulness of the contents of these ditches, that recognition was often impossible, so that there could be but one verdict returned—” Found drowned.” Clothes stripped from a murdered person have been, it was authenticated on several occasions in Old Bailey evidence, thrown into the open sewer ditches, when torn and defaced, so that they might not supply evidence of identity. So close is the connection between physical filthiness in public matters and moral wickedness.

The following particulars show the characteristics of the underground London of the sewers. The subterranean surveys were made after the commissions were consolidated.

“An old sewer, running between Great Smithstreet and St. Ann-street (Westminster), is a curiosity among sewers, although it is probably only one instance out of many similar constructions that will be discovered in the course of the subterranean survey. The bottom is formed of planks laid upon transverse timbers, 6 inches by 6 inches, about 3 feet apart. The size of the sewer varies in width from 2 to 6 feet, and from 4 to 5 feet in height. The inclination to the bottom is very irregular: there are jumps up at two or three places, and it contains a deposit of filth averaging 9 inches in depth, the sickening smell from which escapes into the houses and yards that drain into it. In many places the side walls have given way for lengths of 10 and 15 feet. Across this sewer timbers have been laid, upon which the external wall of a workshop has been built; the timbers are in a decaying state, and should they give way, the wall will fall into the sewer.”

Susanna’s note: You can find out more about sewer thieves in this Smithsonian article including additional excerpts from Mayhew.

Lest We Forget – Emmeline Pankhurst, Ada Wright and Black Friday

A few days ago, the above image was posted on my Facebook newsfeed. The caption claimed that the woman huddled on the ground was Susan B. Anthony and included an inspirational message about why women needed to vote in this election. Inspired by the striking photograph and being in my usual mode of avoiding housework, I began to surf Wikipedia for information about Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.  As I looked at the photographs of these women, I realized that something was off about the image on my newsfeed; it was too modern as compared to the stiffly posed images of the American women’s rights advocates.  I ran a quick search on the image and discovered that the photograph of the beaten woman originated from a horrifying event in the British history called Black Friday.

Black Friday occurred when a bill that would have helped women secure voting rights failed in parliament. Militant suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who was known for her window-smashing tactics, organized a peaceful protest on November 18, 1910.  The Home Secretary Winston Churchill authorized the London police to use aggressive means to dispel the women. The protesting suffragettes were beaten and molested before finally being arrested. Here is a letter to the editor of The Times concerning Black Friday.

The image that appeared on my Facebook stream is actually British suffragette Ada Wright as she appeared on the cover of The Daily Mirror on Saturday, November  19, 1910.  In the photograph, she protects her face after having been knocked to the ground several times by the police. The plain-clothed man in the picture is trying to shield her from further violence. You can read an account of the photograph at History Today.

Pankhurst in New York City

This is weird, but I’m having a great deal of difficulty sourcing information on Black Friday.  So, I’m excerpting text and using images from Pankhurst’s book My Own Story.

What the Government feared, was that the Liberal women would be stirred by our sufferings into refraining from doing election work for the party. So the Government conceived a plan whereby the Suffragettes were to be punished, were to be turned back and defeated in their purpose of reaching the House, but would not be arrested. Orders were evidently given that the police were to be present in the streets, and that the women were to be thrown from one uniformed or ununiformed policeman to another, that they were to be so rudely treated that sheer terror would cause them to turn back. I say orders were given and as one proof of this I can first point out that on all previous occasions the police had first tried to turn back the deputations and when the women persisted in going forward, had arrested them. At times individual policemen had behaved with cruelty and malice toward us, but never anything like the unanimous and wholesale brutality that was shown on Black Friday.

The Government very likely hoped that the violence of the police towards the women would be emulated by the crowds, but instead the crowds proved remarkably friendly. They pushed and struggled to make a clear pathway for us, and in spite of the efforts of the police my small deputation actually succeeded in reaching the door of the Strangers’ Entrance. We mounted the steps to the enthusiastic cheers of the multitudes that filled the streets, and we stood there for hours gazing down on a scene which I hope never to look upon again.

At intervals of two or three minutes small groups of women appeared in the square, trying to join us at the Strangers’ Entrance. They carried little banners inscribed with various mottoes, “Asquith Has Vetoed Our Bill,” “Where There’s a Bill There’s a Way,” “Women’s Will Beats Asquith’s Won’t,” and the like. These banners the police seized and tore in pieces. Then they laid hands on the women and literally threw them from one man to another. Some of the police used their fists, striking the women in their faces, their breasts, their shoulders. One woman I saw thrown down with violence three or four times in rapid succession, until at last she lay only half conscious against the curb, and in a serious condition was carried away by kindly strangers. (Susanna’s note: According to other accounts, some women actually died from injuries sustained in the protest.)

Every moment the struggle grew fiercer, as more and more women arrived on the scene. Women, many of them eminent in art, in medicine and science, women of European reputation, subjected to treatment that would not have been meted out to criminals, and all for the offence of insisting upon the right of peaceful petition.

This struggle lasted for about an hour, more and more women successfully pushing their way past the police and gaining the steps of the House. Then the mounted police were summoned to turn the women back. But, desperately determined, the women, fearing not the hoofs of the horses or the crushing violence of the police, did not swerve from their purpose. And now the crowds began to murmur. People began to demand why the women were being knocked about; why, if they were breaking the law, they were not arrested; why, if they were not breaking the law, they were not permitted to go on unmolested.

For a long time, nearly five hours, the police continued to hustle and beat the women, the crowds becoming more and more turbulent in their defence. Then, at last the police were obliged to make arrests. One hundred and fifteen women and four men, most of them bruised and choked and otherwise injured, were arrested.

While all this was going on outside the House of Commons, the Prune Minister was obstinately refusing to listen to the counsels of some of the saner and more justice-loving members of the House. Keir Hardie, Sir Alfred Mondell and others urged Mr. Asquith to receive the deputation, and Lord Castlereagh went so far as to move as an amendment to a Government proposal, another proposal which would have compelled the Government to provide immediate facilities to the Conciliation Bill.

We heard of what was going on, and I sent in for one and another friendly member and made every possible effort to influence them in favour of Lord Castlereagh’s amendment. I pointed to the brutal struggle that was going on in the square, and I begged them to go back and tell the others that it must be stopped.

But, distressed as some of them undoubtedly were,they assured me that there was not the slightest chance for the amendment. “Is there not a single man in the House of Commons,” I cried, “one who will stand up for us, who will make the House see that the amendment must go forward?”

Well, perhaps there were men there, but all all save fifty-two put their party loyalty before their manhood, and, because Lord Castlereagh’s proposal would have meant censure of the Government, they refused to support it. This did not happen, however, until Mr. Asquith had resorted to his usual crafty device of a promise of future action. In this instance he promised to make a statement on behalf of the Government on the following Tuesday.

The next morning the suffrage prisoners were arraigned in police court. Or rather, they were kept waiting outside the court room while Mr. Muskett, who prosecuted on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Police, explained to the astounded magistrate that he had received orders from the Home Secretary that the prisoners should all be discharged. Mr. Churchill it was declared, had had the matter under careful consideration, and had decided that “no public advantage would be gained by proceeding with the prosecution, and accordingly no evidence would be given against the prisoners.”

Subdued laughter and, according to the newspapers, some contemptuous booing were raised in the court, and when order was restored the prisoners were brought in in batches and told that they were discharged.

*Note 9/3/2017: I came across these photos of suffragettes on The National Archives UK  Flickr photostream.


Buying Fish and Shopping at Billingsgate Fish Market in Georgian and Victorian Times

It’s time to post another modern translation from John Trusler’s The London Adviser and Guide: Containing every Instruction and Information Useful and Necessary to Persons Living in London and Coming to Reside There published in 1786. In my last post from this book, we learned how to acquire poultry and meat in Georgian. Today, we will buy fish and visit Billingsgate Fish Market.  Once again, I am using information from both Trusler’s book and London Labour and the London Poor: a cyclopaedia of the condition and earnings of those that will work, those that cannot work, and those that will not work, by Henry Mayhew, published in 1851.

Billingsgate Fish Market in Trusler’s time was an open air market lined with booths and sheds.  An enclosed building had been erected approximately the same time that London Labour and the London Poor was printed. In 1877, the market again restricted and expanded. In this post, I’ll be using images from Trusler’s time and the new construction.

From Francis Wheatley's Cries of London. "New Mackerel. New Mackerel"

Let’s get started with Trusler

FISH is generally dearest and best, when in season.

1. Fish-mongers charge a price for fish according to their customers; to deal with one man regularly, and pay him once or twice a year, is as bad as dealing with butchers in the same way. A fish-monger near the squares will charge 2s. 6d. for a mackerel, which may be bought for half the money at Charing-cross; and for one third of the money from those who cry them about.

2. To such as live convenient, Billingsgate is the place to buy sea fish at, whether you want little or much. —— Market-days there are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; days; but market days are the dearest days. You may often buy them fresh, and forty per cent, cheaper, on the intermediate days. By purchasing at Billingsgate, you may buy at one-third of the price which fish-mongers charge; and if you lay out a few shillings, it will pay for a person to carry them home, or it may be sent by the Parcel-post. Fish-mongers, at this market, purchase at break of day; and, when the market is not glutted, they will, at those times, buy up all the largest fish, but there is always sufficient left to serve private families. There is an act of parliament to oblige fish-mongers to sell brill, bret, or small turbot, not exceeding 16 inches from eye to tail, for 6d. a pound, under a penalty of 20s. to the informer; for asking more or refusing to weigh or measure it, any person may seize the fishmonger and deliver him to a constable, to carry him before a justice, who will not only fine him, but make him return the money. But when turbot is in season, as in May and June, one of 6lb. weight may be bought at Billingsgate for 3s. 6d. or 4s. other fish in proportion.

3. Mackerel, in June and July, are in great plenty, and may be bought at Billingsgate by the quarter of a hundred, for 2d. or 3d. apiece. Mackerel and herrings, if fresh, will look bright, their gills red, and their eyes clear. Mackerel are reckoned cheap at 4.d. or 5d. each. If fish are not firm, not of a greenish hue, not flabby or slimy, the gills ruddy or bleeding, and the eyes bright, you may depend on it, it is fresh ; but if otherwise, not so. Salmon, when cut, should look red and bleeding fresh. But, put your nose to the gills, and you will soon find if it is stale. Thames salmon is always double the price of other salmon; not that it is better tasted, but being later out of the water, it can be crimped, which gives it firmness. The price of sea-salmon is from 9d. to 3s. a pound.

Billingsgate as an open market from Microcosm of London; or, London in miniature

Lobsters and crabs should always be bought a!ive.—Those of a middling size are always the best. No overgrown animal food is delicious; and the heaviest are fullest  of meat. A cock-lobster’s claw is larger than those of a hen. A hen-lobster’s-tail is broader in the middle than that of a cock. Hen-lobsters are reckoned best, on account of the spawn.

The average price of foals is about 1s. a pound, though they are not fold by the pound, but the pair. Herrings are bought for about one shilling a dozen; whitings 2s. a dozen; haddock according to their size, for about 6d. a pound. Large cod at the dearest time, may be purchased for about 1s., or 1s.3d. a pound; at the cheapest for one third of the money. Skate at about 6d. a pound, and barrel cod, in Lent, for about 6d. a pound. If a family could dispense with a quantity of salt-fish, dried cod may be bought at the dry fishmongers, in Thames-street, in winter, for about 5s. for 28lb. and barrel cod, or pickled salmon by the kit, at a very reasonable price. The price of a barrel of the best oysters, Colchester or Milton, is 3s. 6d. Dutch eels 4a. or 6d. a pound. Smelts from 2s. a hundred to 5s. Prawns from is. 6d. to 3s. a hundred.

Fresh-water fish is in price as follows:. Eels, jack, carp and perch, 1s. a pound; trout and tench is. 6d. gudgeons 6d. or 9d. a dozen; flounders from 3d. a piece, according to the size. Fresh-water fish are kept by fish-mongers, in cisterns, and should be bought alive.

Small turbots are easily distinguished from Dutch plaice; for plaice have many small yellow spots on their back, turbots have none.

Haddock may be known from small cod, by two black spots, one on each shoulder. Small cod is a bad fish, but the haddock is a good one.

Half a kit of pickled salmon, neat weight about 161b. may be purchased at the dry fish-mongers, in Thame-street, in summer time, May, June, July, &c. for 9s. and in September, &cwhen it is equally good, for 5 s. In winter-time it will keep a long while.

Billingsgate 1837

From London Labour and the London Poor: a cyclopaedia of the condition and earnings of those that will work, those that cannot work, and those that will not work.

Billingsgate. To see this market in its busiest costermonger time, the visitor should be there about Seven o’clock on a Friday morning. The market opens at four, but for the first two or three hours, it is attended solely by the regular fishmongers and ” bumniarees” who have the pick of the best there. As soon as these are gone, the costers’ sale begins.

Many of the costers that usually deal in vegetables, buy a little fish on the Friday. It is the fast day of the Irish, and the mechanics’ wives run short of money at the end of the week, and so make up their dinners with fish; for this reason the attendance of costers’ barrows at Billingsgate on a Friday morning is always very great. As soon as you reach the Monument you see a line of them, with one or two tall fishmonger’s carts breaking the uniformity, and the din of the cries and commotion of the distant market, begins to break on the ear like the buzzing of a hornet’s nest. The whole neighbourhood is covered with the hand-barrows, some laden with baskets, others with sacks. Yet as you walk along, a fresh line of costers’ barrows are creeping in or being backed into almost impossible openings; until at every turning nothing but donkeys and rails are to be seen. The morning air is filled with a kind of seaweedy odour, reminding one of the sea-shore ; and on entering the market, the smell of fish, of whelks, red herrings, sprats, and a hundred others, is almost overpowering.

Billingsgate 1876

The wooden barn-looking square where the fish is sold, is soon after six o’clock crowded with shiny cord jackets and greasy caps. Everybody comes to Billingsgate in his worst clothes, and no one knows the length of time a coat can be worn until they have been to a fish sale. Through the bright opening at the end arc seen the tangled rigging of the oysler-boats and the red worsted caps of the sailors. Over the hum of voices is heard the shouts of the salesmen, who, with their white aprons, peering above the heads of the mob, stand on their tables, roaring out their prices.

All are bawling together—salesmen and hucksters of provisions, capes, hardware, and newspapers—till the place is a perfect Babel of competition. “Ha-a-ansome cod! best in the market! All alive! alive! alive O!” “Ye-o-o! Ye-o-o! here’s your fine Yarmouth bloaters! Who’s the buyer?” “Here you are, governor, splendid whiting! some of the right sort!” “Turbot! turbot! all alive! turbot!” “Glass of nice peppermint! this cold morning a ha’penny a glass!” “Here you are at your own price!  Fine soles, O!” “Oy! oy! oy! Now’s your time! fine grizzling sprats! all large and no small!” “Hullo! hullo here beautiful lobsters! good and cheap! fine cock crabs all alive O!” “five brill and one turbot—have that lot for a pound! Come and look at ’em, governor; you wont see a better sample in the market.” “Here, this way! this way for splendid skate! skate O! skate O!” “Had– had —had—had—haddick! all fresh and good!” “Currant and meat puddings ! a ha’penny each!” “Now, you mussel – buyers, come along! come along! come along! now’s your time for fine fat mussels!” “Here’s food for the belly, and clothes for the back, but I sell food for the mind” (shouts the newsvender). “Here’s smelt O!” “Here ye are, fine Finney haddick!” “Hot soup! nice peas-soup! a-all hot! hot!” “Ahoy! ahoy here! live plaice! all alive O!” “Now or never! whelk! whelk! whelk!” “Who’ll buy brill O! brill O!” “Capes! water-proof capes! sure to keep the wet out! a shilling a piece!” “Eels O! eels O! Alive! alive O!” “Fine flounders, a shilling a lot! Who’ll have this prime lot of flounders?” “Shrimps! shrimps! fine shrimps!” “Wink! wink! wink!” “Hi! hi-i! here you are, just eight eels left, only eight!” “O ho I O ho! this way—this way—this way! Fish alive! alive! alive O!”

Billingsgate 1876

In the darkness of the shed, the white bellies of the turbots, strung up bow-fashion, shine like mother-of-pearl, while, the lobsters, lying upon them, look intensely scarlet, from the contrast. Brown baskets piled up on one another, and with the herring-scales glittering like spangles all over them, block up the narrow paths. Men in coarse canvas jackets, and bending under huge hampers, push past, shouting “Move on! more on, there!” and women, with the long limp tails of cod-fish dangling from their aprons, elbow their way through the crowd. Round the auction-tables stand groups of men turning over the piles of soles, and throwing them down till they slide about in their slime; some are smelling them, while others are counting the lots. “There, that lot of soles are worth your money,” cries the salesman to one of the crowd as he moves on leisurely; “none better in the market. You shall have ’em for a pound and half-a crown.” “Oh!” shouts another salesman, “it’s no use to bother him—he’s no go.”

Billingsgate 1876

Presently a tall porter, with a black oyster-bag, staggers past, trembling under the weight of his load, his bade uid shoulders wet with the drippings from the sack. “Shove on one side !” he mutters from between his clenched teeth, as he forces his way through the mob. Here is a tray of reddish-brown shrimps piled up high, and the owner busy sifting his little fish into another stand, while a doubtful customer stands in front, tasting the flavour of the stock and consulting with his companion in speculation. Little girls carrying matting-bags, that they have brought from Spitalfields, come up, and ask you in a begging voice to buy their baskets; and women with bundles of twigs for stringing herrings, cry out, ” Half-penny a bunch !” from all sides. Then there are blue-black piles of small live lobsters, moving about their bound-up claws and long “feelers,” one of them occasionally being taken up by a looker-on, and dashed down again, like a stone. Everywhere every one is asking, “What’s the price, master?” while shouts of laughter from round the stalls of the salesmen, bantering each other, burst out, occasionally, over the murmuring noise of the crowd. The transparent smelts on the marble-slabs, and the bright herrings, with the lump of transparent ice magnifying their eyes like a lens, are seldom looked at until the market is over, though the hampers and piles of huge maids, dropping slime from the counter, are eagerly examined and bartered for.


OF THE EXPERIENCE OF A FRIED FISHSELLER, AND OF THE CLASS OF CUSTOMERS. The man who gave me the following information was well-looking, and might be about 45 or 50. He was poorly dressed, but his old brown surtout fitted him close and well, was jauntily buttoned up to his black satin stock, worn, but of good quality; and, altogether, he had what is understood among a class as “a betterly appearance about him.” His statement, as well as those of the other vendors of provisions, is curious in its details of public-house vagaries.

“I’ve been in the trade,” he said, ” seventeen years. Before that, I was a gentleman’s servant, and I married a servant-maid, and we had a family, and, on that account, couldn’t, either of us, get a situation, though we’d good characters. I was out of employ for seven or eight months, and things was beginning to go to the pawn for a living; but at last, when I gave up any hope of getting into a gentleman’s service, I raised 10s., and determined to try something else, I was persuaded, by a friend who kept a beer-shop, to sell oysters at his door. I took his advice, and went to Billingsgate for the first time in my life, and bought a peck of oysters for 2s.  6d. I was dressed respectable then—nothing like the mess and dirt I’m in now” (I may observe, that there was no dirt about him) ; “and so the salesman laid it on, but I gave him all he asked. I know a deal better now. I’d never been used to open oysters, and I couldn’t do it I cut my fingers with the knife slipping all over them, and had to hire a man to open for me, or the blood from my cut fingers would have run upon the oysters. For all that, I cleared 2s. 8d. on that peck, and I soon got up to the trade, and did well; till, in two or three months, the season got over, and I was advised, by the same friend, to try fried fish. That suited me. I’ve lived in good families, where there was first-rate men-cooks, and I know what good cooking means, I bought a dozen plaice; I forget what I gave for them, but they were dearer then than now. For all that, I took between 11s. and 12s. the first night—it was Saturday—that I started; and I stuck to it, and took from 7s. to 10s. every night, with more, of course, on Saturday, and it was half of it profit then. I cleared a good mechanic’s earnings at that time —30s. a week and more. Soon after, I was told that, if agreeable, my wife could have a stall with fried fish, opposite a wine-vaults just opened, and she made nearly half as much as I did on my rounds.

London: A Pilgrimage published in 1872

I served the public-houses, and soon got known. With some landlords I had the privilege of the parlour, and tap-room, and bar, when other tradesmen have been kept out. The landlords will say to me still: ‘You can go in, Fishy.’ Somehow, I got the name of ‘Fishy’ then, and I’ve kept it ever since. There was hospitality in those days. I’ve gone into a room in a public-house, used by mechanics, and one of them has said: ‘I’ll stand fish round, gentlemen;’ and I’ve supplied fifteen penn’orths. Perhaps he was a stranger, such a sort of customer, that wanted to be agreeable. Now, it’s more likely I hear: ‘Jack, lend us a penny to buy a bit of fried;’ and then Jack says: ‘You be d—d! here, lass, let’s have another pint.’ The insults and difficulties I’ve had in the public-house trade is dreadful. I once sold 16d.worth to three rough-looking fellows I’d never seen before, and they seemed hearty, and asked me to drink with them, so I took a pull; but they wouldn’t pay me when I asked, and I waited a goodish bit before I did ask. I thought, at first, it was their fun, but I waited from four to seven, and I found it was no fun. I felt upset, and ran out and told the policeman, but he said it was only a debt, and he couldn’t interfere. So I ran to the station, but the head man there said the same, and told me I should hand over the fish with one hand, and hold out the other hand for my money. So I went back to the public-house, and asked for my money—and there was some mechanics that knew me there, then—but I got nothing but ‘—– you’s!’ and one of ’em used most dreadful language. At last, one of the mechanics said: ‘Muzzle him, Fishy, if he won’t pay.’ He was far bigger than me, him that was one in debt; but my spirit was up, and I let go at him and gave him a bloody nose, and the next hit I knocked him backwards, I’m sure I don’t know how, on to a table; but I fell on him, and he clutched me by the coatcollar—I was respectable dressed then—and half smothered me. He tore the back of my coat, too, and I went home like Jim Crow. The potman and the others parted us, and they made the man give me 1s., and the “waiter paid me the other 4d., and said he’d take his chance to get it— but he never got it. Another time I went into a bar, and there was a ball in the house, and one of the ball gents came down and gave my basket a kick without ever a word, and started the fish ; and in a souffle—he was a little fellow, but my master—I had this finger put out of joint—you can see that, sir, still—and was in the hospital a week from an injury to my leg; the tiblin bone was hurt, the doctors said” [the tibia.] “I’ve had my tray kicked over for a lark in a public-house, and a scramble for my fish, and all gone, and no help and no money for me. The landlords always prevent such things, when they can, and interfere for a poor man; but then it’s done sudden, and over in an instant. That sort of thing wasn’ t the worst. I once had some powdery stuff flung sudden over me at a parlour door. My fish fell off, for I jumped, because I felt blinded, and what became of them I don’t know; but I aimed at once for home— it was very late—and had to feel my way almost like a blind man. I can’t tell what I suffered. I found it was something black, for I kept rubbing my face with my apron, and could just tell it came away black. I let myself in with my latch, and my wife was in bed, and I told her to get up and look at my face and get some water, and she thought I was joking, as she was half asleep; but when she got up and got a light, and a glass, she screamed, and said I looked such a shiny image; and so I did, as well as I could see, for it was black lead—such as they use for grates—that was flung on me. I washed it off, but it wasn’t easy, and my face was sore days after. I had a respectable coat on then, too, which was greatly spoiled, and no remedy at all, I don’t know who did it to me. I heard some one say: ‘You’re served out beautiful’ Its men that calls themselves gentlemen that does such things. I know the style of them then— it was eight or ten years ago; they’d heard of Lord , and his goings on. That way it’s better now, but worse, far, in the way of getting a living. I dare say, if I had dressed in rough corderoys, I shouldn’t have been larked at so much, because they might have thought I was a regular coster, and a fighter; but I don’t like that sort of thing—I like to be decent and respectable, if I can.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Living in London on £100 a year in 1835

Tonight, I’m excerpting from a fun little volume titled The (Thorough-bred) Poor Gentleman’s Book; or, How to Live in London on £100 A-year, published in 1835. As usual, I can’t find many images of fashionable men doing fashionable things without spending hours digging through archives. And I’m too lazy for that. You can click on the meager images in this post to link to their original journals or books.

To begin then, as a general rule to make yourself respected, though poor:—

  • Never talk of it.
  • Never ask a favour (of a solid kind).
  • Never borrow money; (never lend!)
  • Never be in debt sixpence.
  • Never affect anything.
  • Never make up to richer people first; let them pass, whether in a carriage or on foot, if they do not see you, and nod first!
  • Refuse some invitations now and then of your best friends.
  • Never get into a cab or hackney-coach when you can possibly walk.
  • Buy no trifle you do not absolutely want.
  • Don’t lounge at pastrycooks’ eating cakes or soups.
  • Don’t smoke or snuff, or glide into any expensive and foolish habit; that leads to no good.
  • Never accept dinners at hotels from other single men, when you can by any means get out of the scrape.
  • Carry halfpence in your coat-pocket: never be without a halfpenny—for a distressed silent woman; pass all other loud beggars, street-sweepers, &c.—”’tis just as generous as if the Duke of Devonshire gave a crown on such occasions!
  • Never talk of rich titled people: if you do know any, keep it to yourself.
  • Pay your tailor cash, and he’ll take off fifteen per cent, which brings the first rate nearly on a level with the herd of botchers: but cash must be paid for every thing as the grand rule on which all others hang.
  • Never call a second time where your cards are not returned, unless on women, or the very old or infirm; let no rank be any exception; if you do, you will soon be cut more effectually! particularly where there are girls in the family.
  • Never go near a hotel or a tavern, if you can help it.

I will suppose you dropped from the clouds (of dust or rain ?) in the Circus, Piccadilly. Down go your portmanteau and  bag. Recollect your hundred! Don’t go to a hotel; leave your luggage behind the counter of the office for two-pence, and start off for a lodging. Just behind Regent Street to the east, or north of Oxford Street, you’ll get a bed-room for seven or eight shillings; perhaps a parlour, with French bed, for half-a-guinea; that will do. Say you send your things at once, sleep there; giving a reference,—there is no difficulty. By this simple maneuver you save a seven or nine shilling bill, (nearly a week’s lodging !) Here lies the art of not spending your poor pittance foolishly.

I should say, breakfast at home (You lose the whole morning if you don’t breakfast at home—which is detestable. If you are not too far off, return directly, at any rate.)  if not, near the head of the Haymarket (there are others as good) is a decent coffee-room (Hope’s); go up-stairs; for five pence you have a roll and butter, and cup of coffee, put before you on a tray, with clean cloth, and in as good a room as more expensive coffee-rooms, with nearly all the daily and weekly papers (Pamphilion’s has books, but is crowded, in Sherard Street). Of course, you are not to know those who sit near you, though mostly decent people. You breakfast just as well in this way as if you paid two shillings, with a greater choice of papers. You give the girl a penny, instead of some waiter sixpence; and she, poor girl, thanks you more for it. There you may sit (if you bother your head about politics) all day, and read the millions of words pro and con, together with all the paid puffs, abuse, and nonsense of the weekly critiques on literature,—(“Literary Gazette,” to wit!) a busy feeble crew, who chatter as incessantly as the monkeys of the Brazils, with very little more intellect. Have you breakfasted badly? you will dine with the more appetite!

From Dickens's "Sketches by Boz"

Now, where is a man to dine on five and-sixpence a day, where he may not be ashamed to be seen? How restore exhausted nature about five o’clock? Alas! there is no help for it, you must condescend to pop yourself (incog. !) into an eating-house. London swarms with these refuges of destitute dandies, clerks, shopmen, half-pay officers, &c. There is nothing to be ashamed of except talking loud, and giving yourself airs, and finding fault! all which things mark the well-dressed aping set I have already alluded to. Of course, you avoid notice, and get to some table quietly alone if you can. You have a great choice of plain, roast, and boiled of the second-best meat and vegetables. As you are hungry, a plate of beef or veal, and potatoes, put before you, is delicious; washed down with a pint of heavy wet:—why, it is a feast for the gods! what more would you have? A silver fork? soup, fish, wine? The first you may take in your pocket, for fear you should forget yourself at some friend’s; but it would perhaps look affected: the rest you can have, all tol-lol of their kind, and wind up with a slice of pudding, or tart, and cheese, &c. But you will extend your shilling (which pays for the simple dinner) to one shilling and sixpence, or two shillings and sixpence, possibly five shillings, if you attempt finery; and besides, it is in bad taste: better go to the Blenheim in Bond Street, or York in St. James’s Street, or the Union in Cockspur Street, at once.

The worst of it is, on only one hundred pounds you cannot belong to a club, with propriety ! (Some men vegetate in boarding-houses;—but the cheap ones are dirty and skin-flinty; with a queer set of the “highest respectability.'”—the two guinea ones are a shade better;—bad are the best, town or country.) as you cannot well dine at the most moderate under three shillings and sixpence, besides your five or six guineas yearly subscription ; as at the Junior U. S. I will suppose you, poor fellow, a Sub. in the army or navy, or a Commander or Major: still, without private fortune, you must go to an Eating-house; and since there is no help for it, I will recommend you the best. If you come from the Park, go to the ” West-end Rooms” in Oxford Street, opposite Marsh’s; if from the Guards or East end, to the Shades’ Hotel, Leicester Square, half French. In Rupert Street, “John o’Groat’s” was good, but is spoiled, by affecting more and doing less! Men wait, and I prefer giving my two pence to the girls. There are a great many other houses of the same stamp scattered about, but as they stare a hungry man in the face at every turn, no need to enumerate them : another French house in Princes Street, close by: the York chop-house, Wardour Street, is the neatest and cleanest in town, and only two-pence more,—but at the worst of them a man can dine better (strange to say !) than for the same money in Paris ! (The city is full of eating-houses cheaper still! If a hotel man asks you “where you dine to-day?” always say “out;” and let no dashing fellow induce you to go to Vauxhall, or a Finish, or the Divans, or Shades, or Lush-houses, or Hells about Jermyn Street).

From Dickens's "Sketches by Boz"

Thus, having dispatched this very indispensable affair, a man naturally looks round him how to pass his evening; for I will even kindly suppose he knows nobody in town, and never by any chance goes to a party, dinner, or dance. Of theatres there are twelve or thirteen open every night; at half-price in the pit he may indulge himself now and then, when there is anything worth seeing. Concerts, and the King’s Theatre, while they are pitched at half-a-guinea, I fear, are out of the question; but if he has heard and seen the same people abroad for a dollar, he may talk of them, now and then in a way, (should he be asked the usual question,—Have you seen Taglioni? heard Malibran, Pasta, Grisi, and Paganini ?) as to give to understand he goes occasionally: but this requires tact; if he has no ear he had better say nothing about the matter. Once or twice in the year he may indeed venture into Fop’s Alley, and judge how miserably deficient our Opera is, compared with the Academie or San Carlos.

But how many tedious moments are there to be filled up in the twenty-four hours! each person’s taste and habit must manage in this as they please. Subscribe to Marsh’s Library, Oxford Street, or some other circulating library, for the novels, if any appear worth reading. Still there are Travels, Reviews, &c. always something new, to inform and amuse, besides the usual lounges in the Park about four and five o’clock, or along Oxford and Regent Streets; to Tattersall’s Mondays; to the Bazaar, Baker Street, on Tuesday and Saturday mornings; the Pantheon and rest of the bazaars (Adelaide Gallery, Colosseum, Picture Exhibitions, National Gallery, Surrey Zoological, Fancy Fairs, Dulwich Gallery (walk), Beulah Spa, Pantechnicon, &c.)  at any time in the afternoon, when pretty girls may be seen in hundreds with their sweet faces, to contemplate respectfully: for I do not recommend that impudent and insolent stare, that compels a modest girl to hold down her head; nor is it indeed the interest of those knowing blades who display their taste and admiration in this very equivocal manner. Sometimes Regent’s Park and the Zoological attract a parcel of gay-looking people and equipages; they become more frequented every day! But of all the metamorphoses about town for the better, St. James’s Park is the most striking and admirable. Here a man may take his book of a fine day, and seated (for a penny) beneath one of those noble elms near the water, fancy himself twenty miles in the country, and the grounds his own, with the additional pleasure of seeing groups of well-dressed people meandering along the paths, lending an interest to the fairy scene! We are in the habit of talking a great deal of common-place nonsense about London; but, in truth, there is no city in the world to compare with it for its riches, variety of amusements easily got at, its beautiful circumjacent walks and rides; St. James’s, Hyde, Green, Regent’s Parks, and Kensington Gardens; its noble streets, equipages, and the crowds of elegant people in circulation!

But to return to a poor Gentleman’s Economy—What is there left essential to say ?— If he has a good many friends who live in a certain style, so much the better. Always walk to dinner if the day is fine; for which purpose, have a second pair of rather stout-soled dress-shoes: and when you must have a jarvy, return home on foot; nobody asks or cares how you go or come: a hack is more annoying, seen at some doors, than nothing, but your shoes must not be soiled. As the most liberal people cannot avoid eyeing your dress, mind that “all‘s right.” Let Cooper in Sackville Street, or Nugee, St. James’s, or Stultz, or anybody that can, make your clothes, (coat, at least,) and be in the fashion quietly; fancy waistcoats and trousers are dangerous things (in bills); therefore be simple in your taste,—from necessity, if you cannot change often; for recollect, nobody is to remain unpaid. One dress-coat a year is quite enough, being careful of the last year’s as a hack: never have more; for a well-cut coat is better twenty times threadbare, than a bad-cut bran new! A dozen shirts are easily kept up, and all other linen stock exceedingly slender; it is only a lumber. In short, your whole dress, with care, need not cost you more than fifteen pounds, exclusive of washing (Don’t exceed four or five dean shirts a week, and wear a night-shirt,—with care the second day’s shirt will look fresh, and don’t wear collars. Washing bill per week—4 shirts, Is. 4d.; 5 pair socks, 5d.; 3 ‘kerchiefs, 4d.; drawers, 5d.—2s. 6d. or 2s. 9d.) Coat, charged six guineas, you pay five; two pair of trousers, three guineas and a half, cash; waistcoat, one guinea; make nine guineas and a half;— the rest in shoes and boots, and keeping up your linen. You must not go to the most expensive boot-makers; have but one best pair, and dress shoes; the rest thick soles and stout, to stand long walks. And here economy must be studied in soling, repairing, &c. ( Get your hair cut at—I forget the man’s name— between Twining’s door and Temple Bar, for sixpence. If at Truefit’s, it is Is. 6d.—but 1s. is taken, of customers.)   

In short, the minutest details are of vital importance: just as if the corner-stone of a building could be neglected or left out! down comes the whole fabric! How many young fellows are there about town, whose bootmaker’s bill alone (not a word of the tailor !) comes to a third of your whole income !—whether it is paid or not is another matter. Allowing, therefore, fifteen pounds for your dress—and on this, I know, you can appear, not only as a gentleman, but well-dressed—you have eighty-five pounds left for living and lodging, and menus plaisirs. 

You cannot afford a sitting-room; and since it comes to that, have a cheap bedroom : one may always be got (not to be too far out of town) in that debatable region, between Tottenham Court Road and Regent Street,—or near the Edgware Road,—or where I have mentioned. Indeed, I once knew a young fellow hang out in Curzon Street on six shillings a-week; so that his address (he was never at home) was magnificent ! However, if your stock of philosophy is as slender as your purse, you must fee some hotel waiter to let you leave it, in Jermyn Street, or about the great squares; though there are many streets, such as Park, Great George, Green, Mount, Duke, Manchester, &c. where younger brothers of noble families have rooms, and where a poor fellow may obtain a bed, without being absolutely ashamed of the door, should a kind friend or two condescend to turn their horses’ heads that way. There is one comfort for a man of good connexions and family; the higher his friends and acquaintance are as to birth and rank, the less do they care about his lodging or his means: but beware of letting a parvenu know a bad address, or such people as are themselves struggling through a thousand meannesses and mortifications to get a step higher, or into the next circle above them; they would at once shake you off, without delicacy or ceremony. Enough of this.—Say your lodging comes to nine shillings a-week, (not to be too uncomfortable when at home,) and including a present to the maid-servant, will be twenty-six pounds a-year; and, for this shilling extra, you are always received and waited on with smiles. Always brush your own clothes, it does you both good! besides, one must not be troublesome!

Three hundred and sixty five dinners, at fourteen-pence a-day,(a liberal allowance!) are twenty-one pounds, which leaves thirty-eight pounds; breakfasts, nine pounds five shillings, leaves twenty-six pounds fifteen shillings; washing, seven pounds; library, two pounds, as a sort of food he cannot do without; coals, the winter months, three pounds, added, leaves fourteen pounds fifteen shillings as pocket money for all contingencies! This seems a desperate small sum for extras and pleasures! having, with the most rigid economy, got over living, and clothing, and warmth. For though, as the poet says, asking very pertinently what riches give us? only food, clothes, and fire, yet, I confess, this account staggers even me, who have lived on much less, without descending to dirt or bad company !

Let us, looking to wealth, take any one nobleman whom you so much envy, for instance, in his cab, or taking a canter at five or so in the Park. Where, in the twenty four hours, shall we begin? He has, possibly, ten thousand pounds a-year: reputed incomes are all a bubble,—3,000l. means 1,800l., and 2,000. 1,200. The poverty of fashionable families with a carriage on 3,000l. (granted) is pitiable, (hundreds have not a tithe of it.) Does this guinea an hour make him pass his time one bit more delightfully from its own weight? Not a jot, I suspect! He is tired of his cab, and horridly annoyed on seeing Booby Botheram with a more splendid turn-out than his; his reins were wrong, and his tiger was not so smart! He got home at seven to dress, tedious again: dines at home; they sit down very formally with some humble invite, as it is not one of their intimate days; how wearisome this formal politeness. He wishes the fellow (his wife’s cousin, or some scribbling critic) at the devil: they fly for refuge to the opera; too late for Pasta, Grisi, Malibran, Tamburini; Taglioni still pleases for a moment, spite of the tedium of repetition. The charm has lost its spring from being over-stretched: he yawns; nods across, and is bored by lookers-in, in some way or other; or he goes round himself to say ” How d’ye do?” to people he sees every hour! But suppose he passes a pleasing hour in a sly flirtation with a friend’s young wife, or some girl, whose eagerness for admiration does not care for his being married, as she hates his wife— perhaps an old flirt: this ends, he puts her in her carriage, and drops in at C—- ‘s, St.James’s Street, where he loses a thousand pounds, and goes home perhaps very philosophically, or swearing all the way; gets up next day at one or two, the weather heavenly; ay, but he knows nothing of the fresh mornings, —all is now dusty, noise, and bustle—the very thing for a town life: his wife persuades him to go and make a call or two with her; they see some pleasant people, and talk of music possibly, and get into a hot argument on Church Reform: away he comes, and gives his wife the slip at Howell and James’s for a lounge at the Alfred or U. S. club; takes up the papers; sees himself quizzed, perhaps abused; goes home in a rage, resolves not to notice it; dresses for a large dinner-party without curiosity, interest, or appetite. And thus his days drag on.

Do you long for two hundred pounds a-year? the pleasure of asking a few friends to a coffee-house dinner now and then? or a better room’ where you could ask them? and more cash in your pocket for cakes, jellies, and ices? all this would not increase your enjoyments one tittle; nor would I advise you to alter your rigid economy as to “food, fire, and clothes,” if you have two hundred. On three hundred you can make noappearance more than on one. On four hundred, if you kept a horse and groom, you would be still the poorer; and so on.

I went to the Opera last night, (you are not to suppose I have only 100l. a-year, if you please,)  (Getting my eight-and-sixpenny ticket of Marsh, who has besides lots of private boxes at the Opera and Theatres to dispose of for a mere nothing!)and there, amidst a wonderful number of good-looking young fellows, all busy displaying their white kids, glasses, fancy waistcoats, nods to known boxes, &c. sat one close to me who, not having the fear of ridicule very closely defined in his mind’s eye, must needs do a little bit of what he thought the right sort of thing; so he takes me a small, slender, economical, ancient opera-glass out of his pocket, and with a marvelous—(by the bye I forgot gloves !)—pair of dirty gloves on, did so be-eye all the lovely girls round about, that I was tempted to a smile in pity, as I myself was carrying on the same play of my opera double-barrelled gun, without however braqui-ing it point-blank at the pit tier, close to us, as my shabby friend did so unmercifully. To be sure, my glass was a superb “loup” carrying a golden shot to the opposite upper circles, while my poor third rate dandy’s was in sooth a most lamentable brass pop-gun. What malicious devils are we!

Thus, of flash-houses (except the Tun in Jermyn Street), shades, cellars, finishes, Offleys, Gliddon’s, White Conduit House, and Stingo tea-gardens, and lush-houses, I know absolutely nothing. Neither do I of shooting-galleries, divans, or billiard tables. I do not exactly object to them on the score of their best customers not being the kind of people one meets in the best society (or very rarely), but because they are expensive; on 200l. a year a man might drop into these places now and then—even smoke a cigar, as that sort of thing is now tolerated;—and billiards is (for the bare pleasure of playing) a delightful game; why is it still so expensive? Tattersall’s is amusing; if you don’t bid! The Fives Court is dished! I always patronised sporting, and have walked to more than one milling match; but, it became a cunning trade in the fists of a few, lost its honesty; and is out of date: though it is worth while to look in at the lushing covies now and then at Spring’s in Holborn, and one or two others; they are a hearty, brutal set of fellows, but still, I hope, true Englishmen.

Eating in Georgian London: How to Buy Meat and Poultry, Sample Menus and Much Much More

It’s time for another exciting installment from The London Adviser and Guide!  Today we will learn how to purchase meat and poultry in Georgian London. To break up the text, I’m inserting images of course settings from various cookbooks from the early 1800s.  

If you click on the pictures of menus, they will link you to the books where you can find the recipes !!!  

I’m also excerpting from A complete system of cookery, on a plan entirely new, consisting of every thing that is requisite for cooks to know in the kitchen business: containing bills of fare for every day in the year, and directions to dress each dish; being one year’s work at the Marquis of Buckingham’s from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, 1805, by John Simpson. Note to the lazy historical writer/researcher: this book really includes a dinner menu for every day of the year!

Let’s begin with our favorite: The London adviser and guide: containing every instruction and information useful and necessary to persons living in London and coming to reside there … Together with an abstract of all those laws which regard their protection against the frauds, impositions, insults, and accidents to which they are there liable, by John Trusler and published in 1790.


1. It  is by no means advisable to deal with one butcher, unless you can agree to have all your meat, viz. beef, mutton, veal, lamb, and pork, weighed in, at one and the same price, all the year round; which some butchers will do at 5d. a pound, and occasionally give you, at the same price, a quarter of house-lamb. If you enter into such an agreement, take care to have a bill of the weight always sent home with the meat, order it to be weighed by your own people, and agree not to pay for odd quarters of a pound.

If you make no such agreement, and deal regularly with one butcher, you will frequently be charged for a joint you never had; and for half a pound, or a quarter of a pound more than the joint weighs: and you will always pay a halfpenny, or a farthing more per pound, than were you to go to market and cheapen it yourself. In buying a joint at market, of seven pounds and a half,  you may often deduct the half pound, but when sent home by the butcher who credits you, never. This conduct in a family will occasion a great saving at the years end. If you pay your butcher but once a quarter, be sure to have a bill of the weight and price sent in with  your meat, and a regular bill of the week’s meat, every Monday morning. In this case you will see what you are about, and not be liable to be imposed upon.

2. Good meat should not be lean, dry, or shriveled the fleshy part should be of a bright red, and the fat of a clear white. When the flesh looks pale, and the fat yellow, the meat is not good. Cow-beef is worth a penny a pound less than ox-beef, except it be the meat of a maiden-heiser. In a buttock you may know it by the udder.

3. The average price of beef is from 4d. a pound to 5d. The prime boiling parts are the rump, buttock, edge-bone, briskit, thick and thin flank , roasting pieces, the sirloin and ribs.

Butchers make a difference in price between pieces of beef to roast and boil; if you take a piece of each, they will sell prime beef for 4d. halfpenny; if a boiling piece 4d. and often 3d. if roasting alone 5d.

If you want rump-steaks in any quantity, it is cheaper to give 7d. a pound without bone than 4d. halfpenny for the whole rump. A buttock is the cheapest joint, as it is free from bone; for if you wish it, the butcher will sell it you without the marrow-bone, which is worth it’s weight for the marrow.

In buying a buttock of beef, be careful you do not buy the mouse-buttock for the prime one. The difference is easily known; the prime buttock is first cut off the leg, and is the thickest; the mouse-buttock is thinner, and cut off the legs, between the buttock and the legbone, is coarse meat, and not so worth so much by one penny a pound.

A bullock’s tongue will sell from 2s. to 4s. 6d. according to its size and goodness. A good tongue should look plump, clear and bright, not of a blackish hue.

4. The flesh of mutton should be of a bright red, and its fat of a clear white; and unless it is very fat, it is worth little. Ewe-mutton is not worth so much as weather, by a penny in the pound; mutton five years old, if it can be got, is the most delicious; its natural gravy is brown. After it is dressed, if the meat flies from the bone, the sheep was not sound. A leg of ewe-mutton may be known by the udder on its skirt. The udder of a maiden-ewe is little more than a kernel. The skirt of a leg of wether mutton has a lump of hard fat on it, on the inside of the thigh. The shoulder of a wether maybe known by the skin or shank-bone being more covered with flesh, fat and stouter than that of a ewe. The average price of prime wether-mutton is 4d. halfpenny a pound, though it will sell often for 5d. halfpenny.

Sheeps’ tongues for salting or pickling, may be bought in any quantity, in Field-lane, near Fleet-market, from 1sw. 3d. to 2s. a dozen, according to their size.

5. The average price of veal is 6d. though it will often sell for 8d. particularly the fillet. A leg of veal may, in summer, be bought for 4d. the lb. by which means the fillet: will cost 5d. the knuckle 3d. Large veal is seldom good. Veal should be fat and very white, like rabbit or chicken, not red or look as if it was much blown up. Cow calves generally yield the best veal, and the leg and fillet of cow calves may be known by the udder.

6. The average price of grass-lamb is 6d. a pound, that of pig-pork the same, though pork chops will often sell for 7d. or 8d. Butchers seldom sell pork. There are pork-shops in all parts of the town; Sausages are 8d. a pound.

House lamb at Christmas is dear, and if fine and fat well sell for 7s. 6d. a quarter, the leg 5s. At other times it may be bought so low as 3s. 6d. a quarter.

7. If your butcher sends you any tainted meat, he may be fined, bv complaining to a magistrate; but the readiest and least troublesome method of redress, is to put up with a trifling loss, and deal with such a butcher no more.

8. The best markets in town are St. James’s, Newport, Clare-market, Honey-lane, and  Leadenhall, for meat; for vegetables, Covent-garden, and Leadenhall; for fresh butter, Leadenhall, particularly for Epping butter and cream cheese.


1. POULTRY of all sorts may be purchased cheaper  of the higlers at the several markets, than at the Poulterers shops; but of the higler you must take care what you buy: fowls and chickens should be fat, plump and look white, and be particularly white-legged. Chicken may be known by their size, and fowls are young, if they have no spurs, and the side-bones, near the rump, will give way to the fingers; tho’ artful sellers will sometimes break these by way of deception.

By the same marks you may judge of turkies. A large cock-turkey at Christmas cannot be bought for less than 6s. or 7s. at other times 5s.; a hen-turkey from 4s. to 5s. 6d. Fat, crammed chickens, about ten weeks old, om or about Lady-day, are worth about 3s. 6d. each, and a fine fowl at Midsummer is worth 3s. 6d. at other times chickens may be bought of higlers for 3s. 6d. or 4s. a.couple, and fowls at the same price.

Ducks and geese should look white, very plump, and broad over the breast. If the bill will bend back, the duck or goose is young. A fat goose, weight about 10lb. on Michaelmas-day, is worth 5s. at other times about 3s. 6d. giblets included. A green goose in May is worth 4s. The price of ducks is from 3s. a couple, to 5s. Wild-ducks, in frosty weather, may be bought in Fleetmarket for 2s. 6d. a couple; at other times they are worth 2s. each. If they smell fishy, they are of little value; to know this, take one of the pen-feathers from the wing, and put it down the throat; if it smells fishy in drawing it out, the bird will taste so. Dove-house pidgeons, in May or June, may be bought for 3s. 6d. or 4s. a dozen. In winter-time, poulterers will ask 1s. 6d. a piece. Larks, in hard weather, may be had for is. 6d. a dozen. They are best, soon after harvest. Guinea-fowls are best in Spring, when they get fat without feeding. At this time they are worth from 7s. to 10s. each; at other times they are worth little : these last can be bought only of the Poulterers, of whom quails also may be had after harvest, at 2s. 6d. each. Woodcocks are from 2s. to 4s. each, according to the plenty or scarcity.

2. Game may sometimes be procured of the bookkeepers at inns, by those who are known to them. A hare for 4s. 6d. or 5s.; a pheasant for 5s. or 6s. and a brace of partridges, for 3s. 6d. or 4s.

3. Eggs are from 3 a-groat to 8, according to the time of the year; they are dearest in winter: but such as wish for new-laid eggs may frequently get them at the livery stables, for one penny or three half-pence each.

The following is excerpted from, A complete system of cookery, on a plan entirely new, consisting of everything that is requisite for cooks to know in the kitchen business: containing bills of fare for every day in the year, and directions to dress each dish; being one year’s work at the Marquis of Buckingham’s from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, 1805, by John Simpson, published in 1806. The author describes how to preserve meat once it is brought into the household.

In the summer time, cooks should be very exact with the butchers; and make them bring their meat in not later than six o’clock in the morning, for when the sun gets warm, the flies do much mischief; and it is next to an impossibility to prevent them blowing the meat. The pieces of beef that are kept for roasting should be closely examined (the sirloins particularly) to see if the flies have been about them; if they have, cut the piece out, and sprinkle them with salt. The flies are very apt to get under the fat of the right side of the sirloin. There is a pipe that runs along the chine bone, which the flies are sure to get in: this pipe should be taken out without fail, at all times.

It should be made a general rule, to sprinkle salt on all the meat that is hung up either for roasting or boiling—beef, mutton, veal or lamb. The first part that spoils of a leg of veal is where the udder is skewered back; that skewer should be taken out, the under part of the udder wiped very dry, and then rub a little salt on it, and on the udder; by so doing, a leg of veal will keep very good four days, let the weather be ever so sultry. Do by a loin of veal as is directed for a sirloin of beef. The skirt should be taken off the breast of veal, and the inside of the breast wiped and scraped, and sprinkled well with salt. There is a pipe that runs along the chine bone of a neck of veal, which should be taken off, and the chine bone and ribs rubbed with salt. As for a shoulder, that is a joint that is seldom or ever kept above a day or two; nevertheless, sprinkle it with salt When a sheep is brought in and cut up, take the kidney fat from the saddle, and the pipe that runs up the back bone, and then sprinkle the inside of the saddle with salt. A chine of mutton frequently spoils first at the tail, where there is a kernel: to prevent its spoiling, rub that part well with salt, and it will keep five or six days in the heat of summer. A leg of mutton frequently will spoil in two days, and where it spoils first is at the fat that is on the upper part of the leg: there is a kernel in that part which ought to be taken out by the butcher in dressing the sheep. The chine bone of the neck should be rubbed dry with a cloth, the ribs the same, and the inside of the scrag trimmed. Sprinkle the inside of the neck of mutton with salt.

A breast of mutton spoils first in the brisket part: if you wish to keep them, sprinkle both sides with salt Observe the same rules with lamb as have been directed for mutton. The rumps of beef are generally kept for steaks, or daubing, &c. &c. in hot weather, the fat that the butcher usually leaves in should be taken out, and the beef sprinkled well with salt; and the brisket that is hung up for stewing must be salted, if wanted to be kept for a few days. In the summer-time, the boiling pieces require equal attention,. Salt alone will not preserve them from turning. When the beef is cut up in the number of pieces that is wanted, then see that the butcher takes out the kernels from neck pieces, where the shoulder clod is taken off; two from the rounds, one in the middle, which is commonly called the Pope’s eye, the other from the fat lap; and there is another in the thick flank, in the middle of the fat. If these are not taken out, in the summer particularly, salt them ever so much, they will not keep. There is one between the rump and edge bone, which ought to be taken out; when all this is done (which the cook should actually see to himself, and trust to no butcher) then stand by, and see that the butcher salts the meat properly, on a table or board for that purpose. The salt should be rubbed in well with the heel of the hand. When all this is done, then it should be packed up tight in the salt bin; the prime pieces all at the bottom, as they will keep better, and require more time to take the salt.

The roasting pieces of pork at all times should be sprinkled with salt, before used, for the salt makes the meat eat pleasanter to the palate.

Another rule that cooks should strictly attend to, is this, all beasts that are to be slaughtered should fast twenty-four hours in winter, and forty-eight in summer. There is a. great quantity of meat spoiled by killing it with a full stomach. Haunches of venison, when brought into the kitchen, should be wiped very dry, and examined very closely, to see if the flies have been about them. The keepers in general use ground ginger to preserve their venison from the fly, but I am well convinced, from experience; that pepper and salt is far superior, and that nothing else will preserve meat of any kind in the summer; for which reason I rub the inside of the haunch with it, and salt the ribs and chine of the side: they should be looked at every day. There is a kernel in the same part of a haunch of venison, as in a leg of mutton, which ought to be taken out. I strongly recommend these rules to all cooks, whether men or women; and, if they strictly adhere to them, they will seldom, or ever, have any bad meat in the hottest part of summer. A thunder storm, or lightning, will change meat sometimes; against which there is no precaution.

One more rule I wish to enforce, which is, not to have the larders overstocked with fresh meat, in the summer; one days meat beforehand is quite sufficient. It is my firm opinion that a cook ought to pay as much attention to the management of his larder, as any one branch of his business, which will gain him credit with his employer, and give satisfaction to all other parts of the family.

Here is a last minute addition to the post that I didn’t have time to clean up. So, I’m just posting the page images. It’s from A modern system of domestic cookery, or, The housekeeper’s guide: arranged on the most economical plan for private families … a complete family physician, and instructions to female servants in every situation, showing the best methods of performing their various duties … to which are added, as an appendix, some valuable instructions on the management of the kitchen and fruit gardens, by M. Radcliffe and published in 1823.

That’s all I have for now. The next blog post from London’s Adviser and Guide will be on fish.  I just need to find some interesting images of Billingsgate and fishsellers.