Mayhew’s ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ online

Henry Mayhew’s ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ has been digitized and put online by the University of Virginia Library. We always had a Mayhew at home, but maybe it isn’t so well-known outside Britain. He was a journalist who interviewed and collected information on the poor (the ‘labouring poor’), street sellers for example, in the 1850s. Apparently he also wrote books on the boyhood of Martin Luther and on German life and manners in Saxony (see this site, which doesn’t want to be copied).

bq. The costermonger’s love of a good strong boot is a singular prejudice that runs throughout the whole class. From the father to the youngest child, all will be found well shod. So strong is their predilection in this respect, that a costermonger may be immediately known by a glance at his feet. He will part with everything rather than his boots, and to wear a pair of secondhand ones, or “translators” (as they are called), is felt as a bitter degradation by them all.

I meant to quote some of the text and dialogue, but I was diverted by the reference to second-hand boots as ‘translators’. There’s some truth in that.

(Via Boing Boing)

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