Saturday, 1 September 1888
IN A LONDON LODGING HOUSE.
At a little table in the corner of the room are seated men and women, roughly merry over their midday meal, while in friendly argument the inevitable can of beer circulates quickly among another group. Here is a woman busily preparing her wares from out her scanty stock of many-coloured tissues - fly-catchers, flowers, and grate ornaments while scattered about are the rest of the units that complete the scene. This is the abode of the most unfortunate of their class, the lowest rung of life's ladder, the last refuge of independent casual labour, of those who are too weak or too old for the more active ways of gaining a livelihood. Sellers of tapes, pins, and threads, of flowers (real and artificial), vendors of all kinds of penny toys and articles in daily use, matchboxes, tobacco-boxes, combs, photos and pictures, live here. This is generally the refuge of the "clapper" men, who, after vain attempts to gain a living, are at least thankful to earn a scanty meal at 1s. 3d. a day. Trudge, trudge, trudge over one beaten track, they exhibit the advertisements of some popular amusement or enterprising tradesman at 1½d. per hour. And even here the same fierce struggle is enacted, the same ravenous selfishness is uppermost where there is a chance of earning this miserable pittance.