Behind Shoreditch

THAT vast district of eastern London familiar to the public under the broad title of Bethnal Green would exhaust a twelvemonth in a house-to-house visitation. It is flat, it is ancient, dirty, and degraded; its courts and alleys are almost countless, and overrunning with men, women, boys, dogs, cats, pigeons, and birds. Its children are ragged, sharp, weasel-like; brought up from the cradle - which is often an old box or an egg-chest - to hard living and habits of bodily activity. Its men are mainly poor dock labourers, poor costermongers, poorer silk-weavers, clinging hopelessly to a withering handicraft, the lowest kind of thieves, the most ill-disguised class of swell-mobsmen, with a sprinkling of box and toy makers, shoe-makers, and cheap cabinet-makers. Its women are mainly hawkers, sempstresses, the coarsest order of prostitutes, and aged stall-keepers, who often sit at the street corners in old sedan-chairs, and sometimes die, like sentinels, at their posts [1]. Its broadest highways are chiefly lined with the most humble shops. There are steaming eating-houses, half filled with puddings as large as sofa squabs, and legs of beef, to boil down into a cheap and popular soup; birdcage vendors; mouldy, musty dens full of second-hand garments, or gay "emporiums" in the ready-made clothing line; pawnbrokers, with narrow, yellow side entrances, whose walls are well marked with the traces of traffic; faded grocers; small print shops, selling periodicals, sweetstuff, and stale fruit; squeezed-up barbers, long factories and breweries, with the black arches of the Eastern Counties Railway running through the midst. Every street of any pretension is generally guarded at its entrances by public-houses smelling of tobacco, stale beer, and sawdust; and the corners of every leading thoroughfare cutting into the heart of the district are watched over by glittering genii in the shape of gin-palaces.

Concerts, which consist chiefly of street "nigger" singing, held in dingy, long rooms, over the bars of the public-houses in the interior, form the chief amusement of the common inhabitants in their hours of plenty, occasionally varied by dog-fights, rat-matches, and the sport of drawing the badger. On Sundays the whole neighbourhood is like a fair. Dirty men, in their sooty shirt-sleeves, are on the housetops, peeping out of little rough wooden structures built on tile roof to keep their pigeons in. They suck their short pipes, fly their fancy birds, whistle shrilly with their forefingers placed in their mouths, beat the sides of the wooden building with a long stick, like a fishing-rod, and use all their ingenuity to snare their neighbours' stray birds. Those they catch are not quite as valuable as the products of the Philoperisteron Society, but they have a value, varying from tenpence to half-a-crown, and long usage has settled the amount of redemption money which will buy back one of these captives. Down in some of the streets a regular exchange is held for the purpose of buying, selling, and comparing animals; and, as in Whitechapel and all such neighbourhoods, no difficulty is found in obtaining beer or spirits contrary to law, as long as the money to pay for it is forthcoming.

This enormous portion of London is divided into many small district parishes, each one watched over by a very active clergyman. Amongst the principal workers are the Rev. Mr. Christie, the Rev. Mr. Gibson, and the Rev. James Trevitt. I have taken the lower portion of Bethnal Green (the district parish of St. Philip), which has been carefully worked by the latter excellent gentleman for more than nine years, because it enables me to deal with certain social features common also to Shoreditch and Spitalfields.

I have known the neighbourhood I am describing for twenty years, and, if anything, it seems to me to be getting dirtier and more miserable every year. Old houses, in some few places, have been taken away - simply because they fell to pieces; but the new houses erected within the last ten years show little advance in the art of building dwellings for the poor. The whole present plan and arrangement of the district is against improvement, and the new structures sink to the level of the old.

The first court I go into with my guide is called "Reform Square" - a bitter satire upon its aspect and condition [2]. It is nearly opposite the Church of St. Philip, and is a square yard - not much larger than a full-sized dining-room. It is entered by a mountainous slope of muddy brick pathway, under an archway; and contains half-a-dozen houses, which look out upon two dust-heaps, a pool of rain and sewage, mixed with rotten vegetable refuse, and a battered, lop-sided public privy. The houses are like doll's houses, except that they are black and yellow. The windows are everywhere stuffed with paper - rags being in too much demand at the marine store-shop, or for the clothing of the human child-rats, who are digging into the dust-heaps, with muddy oyster-shells. Every child must have its toys; and at the back of Shoreditch they play with rusty old saucepans, pieces of broken china, stones torn out of the roadway, or cinders that they search for laboriously. Very often the boys have to mind babies, while their mothers are out at work, and they sit about upon doorsteps with dirty brown limp bundles that never look like young children.

At the entrance to "Reform Square" is a row of zigzag two-roomed houses, let for about four shillings a week; the street-doors of which open into the lower rooms, almost upon the wretched tenants' beds. The staircases leading to the upper apartments are little more than ladders in one corner, and there is no space for more than the usual furniture - a table, two chairs, and a bedstead. The flooring of the lower rooms in these houses is so high above the pavement in the street, that three stones are placed at each of the street-doors for the inhabitants to climb into their dwellings by. I say climb, for the lower stone is so lofty, and the whole three are so shallow on their flat surfaces, that it is with difficulty a full-sized man can stride up them. When you stand in the narrow doorway, and look down into the street, it is like looking down into a deep pit. The comfort in the inside of these dwellings is about equal to the conveniences outside. The one we went into smelt so close and musty from overcrowding, neglect, and, perhaps, forty years' dirt, that it almost made me sneeze. It was occupied by a sallow-faced woman, who called herself a "gipsy," and who gets her living amongst servants and others as a fortune-teller.

In another house of greater height, with a close, black, uneven staircase, almost perpendicular, we found a mixed population of about fifty people. In one room was a labourer's wife and several children, yellow, eager, and very ragged; in another was a woman with a blighted eye; in another a girl making match-boxes, assisted by a boy, while her father, a hawker of bootlaces, crouched despondingly over the grate, groaning about the badness of trade, and her mother was busy about the room. The dirt in this apartment was the landlord's dirt, not the tenant's - a most important distinction. The walls were chipped and greasy - the one cupboard was like a chimney; but the few plates were clean and neatly arranged - clean, perhaps, for want of being used. The floor had been well scrubbed and sanded, the mantelshelf was set out with a few poor china ornaments, and there were a few pictures stuck up which had been cut out of an illustrated newspaper. One was a fancy portrait of Lord Brougham. This room was admittedly occupied by this family and another woman - a stranger - from necessity, not from choice. At the top of the house was a weaver's work-room, lighted by two long windows with diamond panes. It contained two idle shuttles, watched over by a sickly woman, almost sinking with anxiety, if not from want. The husband was out seeking work in the silk market, like hundreds of fellow-labourers, with little prospect of obtaining it. A change in fashion, and the inevitable operation of the French Treaty, have affected Spitalfields and Bethnal Green in the same way as Coventry, and a large mass of trained industry finds itself suddenly "displaced." It is not easy in middle life, with energies kept down by low living, little recreation, and bad air, to turn the mind and fingers into a fresh trade. The best of us are not always equal to such a task, and a poor weaver's wife may naturally sit on the edge of her scanty bed, and look into the future with little hope.

The statistics of silk-weaving show a melancholy decline. In 1824 there were 25,000 looms in and about Spitalfields, now there are only 8,000. In 1835 wages were lower by thirty per cent, than in 1824, and they did not average more than eight or nine shillings a week. Now they cannot be higher than seven shillings, or seven shillings and sixpence a week, on an average; and there are only from twenty-five to thirty master weavers. Perhaps, 20,000 working weavers are now struggling against this decay of their handicraft, and many of them, in despair, are taking to street hawking. The Rev. Mr. Trevitt has set up many of these skilled labourers in this rough calling, with a capital of a few shillings. Mr. Corkran, the excellent missionary connected with the London Domestic Mission, who knows more, perhaps, of the misery in Spitalfields proper, than most men, gives a very sad account of the poor in his district. I do not quote his admirable reports, because they deal with a period earlier than what I am dealing with [3].

I entered another street, not far from the one I have been speaking of, to witness more misery and more pain. There is nothing exceptional or transient in the conditions of life I am endeavouring faintly to describe. In Whitechapel, in St. George's in the East, and in Bethnal Green, the people have lived for nearly a quarter of a century as they are living now. Strike off a few cases of obvious imposition - of pardonable exaggeration on the part of Scripture readers - and make a little allowance for the late severe weather - and we shall find the social condition of nearly one-half of London to be nearly as low and degraded as that of Ireland in its worst days. Here is a representative street of houses - leading off from the road in which stands St. Philip's Church - the windows in the lower rooms of which are actually on the ground. These lower rooms are wells, dark and unventilated; and overcrowding, with all its attendant evils, can hardly be avoided in such a place. Just now we saw a row of houses where you had to climb up into the lower rooms; here you have to dive down into them. The first house we enter at random contains a suffering family. A large-headed, gaunt girl, tall and speechless, with arms like thin sticks, sits motionless in a chair. It scarcely requires a second glance at this poor creature to tell that she is an idiot. A man sits shivering by the fire - old-looking though not aged. He is a sawyer by trade. We ask after his health, and his wife, who struggles to speak cheerfully, answers for him:

"He went out, sir, to work, one morning early, without food, and the cold seems to have struck on his chest."

The man tries to tell us that he has never been warm since, but the words seem to hiss in his throat. I have spoken to scores of people who have nearly lost their voices from asthma and other diseases of the chest; and I have seen many poor deaf and dumb creatures who could only show their misery by their looks. One youth - a young coal-whipper, with scanty and uncertain work - was maintaining a father and mother who both suffered under this terrible affliction. The most melancholy sight, however, is to watch the blind when they hear that the visiting clergyman is in the street or court. They creep out of dark holes of doorways, feeling their road carefully, and throw out their arms widely as if to embrace the expected loaf.

Christopher Street, with its continuations, is a fair sample of an ordinary Bethnal Green street, and though short, it contains many varieties of low and humble life. In one two-roomed house is a notorious dog-trainer, who has lived there for many years, and who keeps a dog-pit for the gratification of his patrons. His yard is often crammed with every kind of terrier and fighting dog, and his upper room, where the pit is built, is reached by a ladder passing through a trap door. When you enter this room, the ladder can be drawn up and the trap-door shut down, and so far you are secure from interruption. The windows are boarded up behind the blinds, so that no noise within can reach the little street; and when a sufficient number of patrons are gathered together to pay the spirited proprietor of this den, the delights of Hockley-in-the-Hole are partially revived. Dogs are set together by the throat, cats are worried and killed by bull-terriers within a certain time, to show the training of the dog, and rats are hunted round the pit for the same purpose.

Within a few doors of this illegal sporting theatre is a family who have just been rescued from the lowest depths of wretchedness. They were found, a few days ago, [4] without food, without fire, or any other necessary, in a room nearly bare, their furniture having been seized for rent. There were a father, mother, and several children standing shivering within the bare walls, the children having nothing on them but sacks tied round their waists.

In Old Nichols Street, a turning in this district leading off from Shoreditch, we have a specimen of an east-end thieves' street. Its road is rotten with mud and water; its houses are black and repulsive; and at least fifty dark sinister faces look at you from behind blinds and dirty curtains as you pass up the rugged pavement.

Courts of the filthiest description branch off on either side, filled with the usual dust-heaps, the usual pools of inky water, and the usual groups of children rolling in the dirt. There is a silence about the street and its houses indicative of the character of the place. The few trades that are carried on are in most cases merely masks - industry is the exception, robbery is the rule. A few hawkers, who have eaten up their "stock money," or capital, and have even pawned their baskets at the baker's for a loaf of bread, are to be found in some of the holes and corners, but the dark public-house with the green blinds is full of thieves, the houses on either side are full of thieves and prostitutes, and a tavern in a side street is full of swell-mobsmen. Even here, as in all these places, there is something to admire. A woman, who works at box-clump-making, with her husband, has picked an orphan boy from the streets, and given him a place amongst her own children. His father was a porter at one of the markets, and died suddenly in the midst of his work. The boy was tossed about for many days, fighting hard for food, until he found a home with people who were nearly as poor as himself. Many cases of such self-sacrifice, such large-hearted generosity, may be easily found amongst the poor. The cases of heroic endurance under the most frightful trials are even more frequent, and they make us respect these poor creatures even in their dirt and rags.

The Rev. Mr. Trevitt is unceasing in his labours within his own district, and he has called round him an efficient staff of assistants. He has about forty visitors who watch over the poor, and he draws about 80l. per annum from the Metropolitan District Visiting Society. He has two ragged schools, which collect about seven hundred children; two national schools, which collect about two hundred and fifty more; and an infant school, which gather about one hundred infants. His Sunday schools are attended by about eight hundred children, who have to work during the week, and his evening schools are generally attended by about eighty of the same class.

There is no public soup-kitchen, but the usual miscellaneous distribution at the parsonage, according to means. Mr. Trevitt looks sharply after the many hungry children in his district, and often has a soup-dinner for these alone. A few days ago a thin, sickly man came to the parsonage door, and asked to be admitted amongst the children. He was told that this was against the rules, and he went away in tears. He was called back before he had crawled out of the street; he crept in, like a poor dog, and was seated with the little ones. His case was inquired into, and it turned out that he was one of the most wretched of that very wretched class, an hospital "incurable." He had been turned out by the doctors a few weeks before, had been tossed about the streets unable to work, and was dying from starvation. His case may be only one out of thousands. [5]

There is a maternity society in the St. Philip's district, to lend necessaries for child-birth, and an excellent industrial school (built and presented to the district by Mr. Edward Thornton, at a cost of 3,000l.), where girls and women are taught needlework. The penny bank, in 1860, showed receipts to the amount of 9001., and this is the poorest of the Bethnal Green parishes.

The other side of Shoreditch - the Finsbury side - is quite as full of black courts and alleys as Bethnal Green. Walk along the main thoroughfare from the parish church towards the city, peep on one side of the hay-bundle standing at the corn-chandler's door; look through the group of rough, idle loungers, leaning against the corner of the gin-shop, or dive under the fluttering garments that hang across outside the cheap clothier's window, and you will see a dark, damp opening in the wall, like the channel of a sewer passing under and between the houses, and leading to one of the wretched courts and alleys. You enter the passage, picking your way to the bottom, and find a little square of low, black houses, that look as they were built as a penal settlement for dwarfs. The roofs are depressed, the doors are narrow, the windows are pinched up, and the whole square can almost be touched on each side by a full-grown man. At the further end you will observe a tap, enclosed in a wooden frame, that supplies the water for the whole court, with a dust-bin and privy, which are openly used by all. In the middle of the little sooty square, standing in the puddles always formed by the sinking stones, you will see three or four harrows belonging to street vendors, and you will gather from this that some of the stall-keepers you have noticed in the thoroughfare outside retire to these dark hiding-places when their labour is done. Glancing over the tattered green curtain at one of the black windows, you will see a room like a gloomy well, and in its depths perhaps a knotted old woman crouching over a small glow-worm of coal, gleaming in a grate full of dust; or the frowning face of some idle male inhabitant of the court, whose expression somehow reminds you of the felon's dock. If you pass to the right or left, you may find other oven-like entrances leading to other similar courts; or you may go out into the main thoroughfare, and, seeing a similar passage a few yards farther on, you may explore it, to find yourself in another twin huddling-place of the poor. The plan and design of this second court wiil be in all respects the same as those of the first, showing that the same master-mind has created them both. Who the owners of this class of property are may remain a mystery; they draw their rents in short, sharp payments, and they have no reason to complain of the unprofitable character of their investments. These settlements, of which there may be fifty scattered at the backs of the houses on each side of Shoreditch, within the space of half a mile, were all built thirty, forty, sixty, and even eighty years ago, when building regulations were not so strict as they are now; and they were nearly all framed to meet that desire of the English people to have a "house to themselves." The value of house property in these holes and corners of Shoreditch must be rising rather than falling. An ordinary room, in one of these courts, will fetch two shillings a week, and an ordinary house, which contains little more than one room covered with a loft, will fetch four shillings a week. In some cases these courts are choked up with every variety of filth; their approaches wind round by the worst kind of slaughter-houses; they lie in the midst of rank stables and offensive trades; they are crowded with pigs, with fowls, and with dogs; they are strewn with oyster-shells and fish refuse; they look upon foul yards and soaking heaps of stale vegetable refuse; their drainage lies in pools wherever it may be thrown; the rooms of their wretched dwellings have not been repaired or whitewashed for years; they are often smothered with smoke, which beats down upon them from some neighbouring factory, whose chimney is beyond the control of the Act of Parliament; rag-warehouses have their close store-rooms looking them full in the face; and cats'-meat preparers boil their cauldrons amongst them without fear. In most cases the inhabitants, as we might fully expect, are not superior to their surroundings, and in places like Bowl Court, Plough Yard, which contains a half-Irish colony, they form the greatest nuisance of all. An Irish landlord or landlady will rent a room at about two shillings a week, and then take in as many families, or individuals, at a small nightly rental, as the floor can possibly hold. This is openly done in defiance of the Lodging-house Act, or any other social reform law.

Red Lion Court, near the Shoreditch corner of the Kingsland Road, is another bad specimen of these alleys, being overcrowded with men and their families engaged in the watercress trade. Pierce's Court, New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, is another of the worst; and the whole line of Holywell Lane, on either side, is full of these holes and corners.

Each one has got its story to tell, like more ambitious thoroughfares, and here is a narrative of a Shoreditch Court, told in the words of the Reporters:- "A middle-aged, poor-looking woman, who stated her name to be Sarah Wilkinson, and who was accompanied by a pale-faced little girl, dressed in black, said to be eleven years old, but who seemed about seven or eight, applied at the beginning of December, 1860, to Mr. Leigh, the sitting magistrate at the Worship Street police court, for advice, with the following strange statement:- Mrs. Wilkinson said that the object of her application to the magistrate was to learn what she was to do with the little girl she had with her, who had neither home nor food, and was utterly friendless. The child's name was Eliza Clarke, and she was the daughter of an engineer of the same name, who formerly worked for Mr. Ramsay, in the same business, near Shoreditch Church, but who abandoned the girl's mother about seven years ago, to go to Australia, and had never since been heard of. About two years ago the mother was taken into custody, and brought to this court, charged with selling spirits without a licence, as she believed, and on her being committed for that offence her child was taken into Shoreditch Workhouse, and remained there as long as the mother's term of imprisonment lasted, for as soon as the mother was liberated she instantly went to the work house, and claimed and took away her daughter. The mother and child had since lived in a court called Mark's Place, Leonard Street, Shoreditch, in one of the houses of which she had a small ready-furnished room, which she held up to the morning of the previous Monday week, when she went out, as usual, leaving the little girl at home, and had never again been seen from that time to this. Inquiries had been made about her, but she could not be traced anywhere, and she (the applicant) and all the neighbours felt quite sure that something must have occurred to the woman, as she was such a good and affectionate mother she would be certain to come back to her child if she could. They were all poor people down that court, and, as the mother did not come back, and it was unsafe to leave so young a girl in charge of the room, which was wanted for some one else, the landlady had accordingly resumed possession of her room and goods, and then the child had no place to go to. All the neighbours liked the mother, and pitied the child, and they had all given her something to eat and drink by turns; but they had too many incumbrances of their own for any one to take her in and lodge her; and the little girl had consequently been sleeping about anywhere she could, and on Monday slept all night upon the stairs of one of the houses. She (Mrs. Wilkinson) was a widow, and had been so three years, and had three little children to keep. She had only one room herself, and could not possibly take the child in. Besides, she was only a charwoman, and that occupation was so uncertain that she could hardly keep herself and family. She did not live in Mark's Place, but a short distance off; and on going there that morning to see about some work, she met the little girl, sopped through with rain, and in such a pitiable state that, knowing how fond her mother was of her, she could not bear it, and determined to go at once with her to Shoreditch workhouse, and induce them to admit the girl till something was heard of the mother. She accordingly took the child there, and some person seated at a desk told her she must see Mr. Cole. Who Mr. Cole was she did not know, nor whether she did see Mr. Cole, but a thin gentleman inquired her business, and she explained to him the forlorn state of the little girl, and told him everything that she had now told the magistrate. Instead of admitting the child, however, the gentleman did not even take down her name or address, but told the witness she had no business to interfere, and as she had interfered so much, she had better look after her herself, which, as she had already explained, she could not do. On receiving this refusal, she told the gentleman that she must take the little girl before a magistrate, and he replied that she might do so if she liked. She then walked out of the house, leaving the child behind her, thinking that they might perhaps keep her, as she was there, but in a minute or so afterwards the girl was turned out into the street, although a shower of rain was coming down at the time. She had now, therefore, brought the child to the magistrate, to know what was to be done with her, as it was enough to make any heart ache to see a child in such a state as this was. Mr. Leigh said it was certainly a strange story the woman had told. The child seemed to him to have been wholly deserted, and if the applicant had really told the workhouse authorities all that she had told him, and she said she had, it did seem surprising that they should see a child like this, with no food, no mother, and no place to go to, and yet refuse to take her in. He thought some explanation would be given of it, and the warrant officer of that district must take the woman and child to the house, state the particulars, and inquire why they did not admit her. - Mr. Edwards, of the Shoreditch Board of Guardians, and Mr. Cole, relieving officer, waited upon Mr. Leigh to explain that part of the above case with which they are connected. Mr. Cole stated that the woman did attend with the child, and made the application referred to. She said she was a widow with three children of her own, and that she could not keep the child, and although he told her that she would be compensated by the parish for her trouble, and any expense she might incur by tending it while the inquiry was made, she refused to have anything more to do with it, and took the child away with her without further parley, and expressed her determination to take her before a magistrate. The officer said that if she was resolved upon doing that he could not help it, and the woman went out with the child, and did not leave it behind her at the house, as she stated, nor was it, as she also said, thrust out into the street. Mr. Edwards said that every anxiety was felt by the guardians to attend to all cases of this kind, as far as possible, and he could confidently appeal to the warrant officer whether immediate attention was not paid to any recommendation or order of the magistrates, whether verbal or written. The child had been admitted the same night without hesitation, and when he stated that they had an ancillary establishment at Brentwood , now full of children, many of whom had been cruelly deserted by their parents, with the object of getting them there, it was obvious that some previous inquiry was imperative, and Mr. Cole had been appointed as an extra overseer for that especial purpose. Some further observations of a similar tenor followed, and ultimately Mr. Leigh expressed himself satisfied with the explanation now given, and thanked the gentlemen for their waiting upon him to afford it."

Some of the alleys, which are sometimes called "rents," sometimes "rows," sometimes "gardens," "places," "buildings," "lanes," "yards," "squares," and sometimes "walks," - situated near Mark's Place, on the other side of the Curtain Road, down Holywell Mount - still maintain a little of a certain rural aspect which they must have had in full bloom when they were first built and occupied. Their houses are not larger, but they have each a piece of ground in front, which, though it grows nothing, to all appearance, but broken, uneven railings, serves to ventilate the place, and keep the opposite dwellings at a proper distance. In other alleys, even in the thickest part of Shoreditch, there is, here and there, a desire shown to be clean; and I may mention one little, ill-constructed court in Holywell Lane, which is quite a flower in the wilderness. Its entrance is low and gloomy, but the rugged stones on its footway are carefully swept, and the uneven steps leading down to its little row of houses are white with hearthstone. The first dwelling - a small room with a staircase like a ladder, leading up into the top loft (the plan upon which nearly all the small houses in these courts appear to be built) - has nothing about it to account for its luxurious look, and yet it seems to be a palace compared with its neighbours. Its owner is an humble working man, with one child, and an cleanly, decent wife, and all the magic that struck me, or that would strike any one who took the trouble to pay it a visit, was produced by nothing more wonderful than a little soap and water.

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[1] Last Monday evening, December 24, 1860, the deputy coroner for East Middlesex held an inquest at the "Marquis of Cornwallis" public-house, Curtain Road, Shoreditch, relative to the death of Agnes Edgell, aged seventy-three years, who died from exposure to the weather. It appeared from the evidence that the deceased had kept an oyster-stall at the corner of Charles Street, Pitfield Street, and on Saturday night last she was seen sitting on a chair by her stall. When her daughter and a lodger called upon her and asked her if she wanted anything, she replied, "Yes, I am very cold." The daughter went for some tea and bread and butter, but about half-past eleven o'clock the deceased suddenly became ill, and died in her chair before medical assistance could be got. The deceased had been in charge of the stall about thirty years, and was a decent woman, much noticed by the neighbours for her cleanly and sober habits. Mr. John George Blackall, surgeon, of Pitfield Street, Hoxton, stated that the deceased was dead when he was called. Life had been extinct five minutes, and he found her dead in a chair. He had made a post-mortem examination of the body, and found that the various organs were healthy and free from disease. The heart and lungs were congested, and the immediate cause of death was cold and exposure to the severity of the weather. On the night in question the deceased complained of the cold, and had once had some warm rum and water, although she was an abstemious woman. The jury returned a verdict that "The deceased died from congestion of the heart and lungs, brought on by exposure to the cold and inclemency of the weather while sitting at a public stall."

[2] For another description of this square, in 1866, see Bethnal-green fever haunts again - THHOL.

[3] 1850 to 1859 inclusive. 1860 is not yet published.

[4] January, 1861.

[5] The following is another "incurable" case, from the same neighbourhood, bearing date January 20, 1861:-
"Inspector Armstrong, of the H division of police, mentioned to Mr. Leigh, the sitting magistrate at the Worship Street police court, the following pitiable case of distress, to which his attention had been called, and which he had himself visited. The inspector said that on entering the top room of a house situate in Thomas Street, Brick Lane, Spitalfields. He found a man and woman lying in what might with due allowance be termed a bed; covering or blanket there was none. The rooms were nearly bare. The inmates were evidently very ill, and they looked much older than they really were. They were man and wife; Copeland by name. The man was formerly a cabinet-maker. His mother was present, and doing all she could to comfort them. From her the inspector learned that they were both in a consumption, the husband having been turned out of the London Hospital a fortnight since as incurable, after a seven weeks' attendance there. The inspector added that the wretched couple were incessantly obliged to be raised to a sitting position, in consequence of inability to breathe otherwise. The mother of Copeland was called for by Mr. Leigh, and vouched for the truth of her miserable relative's condition. A fortnight since a son of Inspector Constable, H division, in pity for the sufferings he witnessed, gave them lOs. Mr. Leigh, for present aid, ordered that two blankets and 10s. should be instantly sent them."