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community-so will the attributes of the nomad tribe be found to be more or less marked."
To the same effect, read the following from July No. 1852, of Edinburgh Review, in article on "Mendicity; its causes and statistics:"
There live, then, in the midst and about all the English population, a distinct population, fearful in numbers, constantly and rapidly increasing, having a language, manners, and customs of its own-living, in nine cases out of ten, in a course of life the most immoral and profligate; and yet so living, and so increasing, in spite of the laws, in spite of the municipal arrangements of the last few years, so favorable to their detection and punishment; in spite of the new poor-law arrangements; and in spite of the general feeling that the poor-rates and the union ought to provide for all real cases of destitution and misery. This population has its signs, free-masonry, its terms of art, its correspondence, its halting-houses, its barns still kept open, and even well-strawed by farmers and country gentlemen; its public-houses, its wellknown and even recognized lodging houses; and its manifold plans to extract or extort, to win or to scold, out of its reluctant but deceived victims, sums amounting, we are inclined to believe, to not less than £1,375,000; being one-third of the total amount of poor-rates! This sum may at first appear utterly extravagant; but it will not be found to be so when it is remembered, that on an average each begging family extorts £55 per annum from the public. The annual
poor law expenditure for the year ending in March, 1840, in England, was, in round numbers, £4,300,000. In England, including the three ridings of Yorkshire, there are forty-two counties. The population of those counties is nearly fifteen millions. If we take at this moment a rough and general, though a tolerably correct estimate of that population, with its dense misery in towns and cities, and its diffused but not less individually intense misery in the agricultural districts, we may fairly calculate that one out of every one hundred is a beggar or lives in a state of practical vagrancy-looking in one form or other, to alms for support. The one-hundreth part of the population is 150,000; and if each begging family, raising £55 per annum from the public by alms, be estimated as consisting of six, we shall have 25,000 English begging families, raising £55 per annum each, or the total sum of £1,375,000. But we believe that we have underrated, instead of overstated the facts of the case in these calculations. In London alone and its vicinity, in spite of all the efforts of the police, a very large part of that sum is extorted; and we have not taken into consideration the wholesale mendicity which is now deplorably manifest in the larger English manufacturing towns. We have also omitted all Irish mendicants; and yet they are nearly in the proportion of one to three in the English agricultural districts. Naturally anxious as we are to avoid even the appearance of exaggeration, we are still bound to state, that the estimate we have made is greatly deficient, and that we have understated the real statistics.
The begging population of England, existing and in
creasing in spite of municipal police, and notwithstanding the penalties of the vagrant act, is divided into several classes; and we now propose to draw upon a little pamphlet, mentioned at the head of this article, which has been recently published at Birmingham, and which contains very accurate details of the mendicant population-written by one who long frequented the haunts of the vagrant community. The portion of the community to which his details extend, belong principally to the hereditary and professional class of beggars.
The writer of this family thus proceeds with his descriptive details:
In order fully to explain each individual character, I shall begin with those vagrants who generally obtain the most, and are considered of the first class, and are by some termed 'Silver Beggars,' but by travelers LURKERS.
'LURKERS are persons who go about with briefs, containing false statements of losses by fire, shipwrecks, accidents, &c. The seals and signatures of two or more magistrates are affixed to those briefs, and they are so well written, that thousands of persons are daily imposed upon by them. As there are so many different ways used by these persons, it will be necessary to explain each of them separately.'
The writer then enters into details as to the FireLurkers,' or those, 'who go about begging for loss by fire.' They have false briefs, pretended to be signed by two magistrates and the clergyman of the place where the fire is alleged to have taken place. The documents are accompanied by a sham subscription-book, and the brief is called, in the mendicant's pariance, 'a sham,' whilst the subscription-book they name 'a delicate.'
With this sham and delicate' the 'lurkers,' or beggars, proceed all over the country; and the author states that one man, with whom he was acquainted, 'had been a firelurker for fourteen years, and had travelled through every county in England, and the greater part of Wales.' Then there is,
'The Shipwrecked Sailor's Lurk.-Persons who go on this lurk, generally represent themselves as captains or masters of merchant ships, which have been wrecked, and they have, of course, lost all their property; and their pretended loss always amounts to many hundred pounds, sometimes even to thousands. This class of impostors are very respectably dressed, having moustaches, gold chains, &c.; they have either a well-written brief, or one partly printed and filled up with writing and the seals and signatures of two or three magistrates are placed at the bottom. I have seen briefs of this description from almost every part of the kingdom.'
He goes on to say, that one named Captain Johnstone had followed the lurk of a shipwrecked captain for many years, had been over every county in England and Wales many times, and obtained not only hundreds, but thousands of pounds.' He relates various anecdotes of the most successful 'Lurkers' in this department.
The Foreigner's Lurk.-Considerable numbers proceed on this lurk, representing themselves as foreigners in distress. Of late years, by far the greatest number have represented themselves as Polish noblemen or gentlemen, who had been driven by the tyranny of Russia from their native country to seek a refuge. Their briefs have the names and seals of two magistrates attached, and are always well written. Whenever they present their briefs, they affect not to be able to speak a word of English, and the few words they utter are spo
ken in broken accent. . . . One of these lurkers, known among mendicants by the nickname of Lord Dundas,' had often got several pounds in a day. . . . There are also many females who go on the foreigner's lurk. . . . I knew a female who went on the foreigner's lurk, who dressed very well; she had a boy with her, and often succeeded in getting two or three pounds in a day. When she called on any one, she pattered (spoke) in French, and affected not to be able to converse in the English language.'
4. The Accident Lurk.-Lurkers of this description have a sham and delicate, (brief and book,) and the sham states, that by some dreadful accident the bearer has lost all, or at least the greater part of his property, sometimes by storm, and at other times by a flood, or in some other way: but, in whatever way the accident has happened, the bearer has always suffered a very considerable loss, and is deprived of the means of supporting himself and family. The sums raised vary from five shillings to a pound per day.'
5. The Sick Lurk.-This is worked in so many dif ferent ways, that it will be necessary to say a little on each. It would seem, 1st, That a common method of imposing upon the public is, by applying blistering ointment to the arms, causing them to have the appearance of having been badly scalded. 2d, That others go about with hands and arms tied up, said to be injured by lightning, or by some other deplorable accident. 3d, Others affect fits. 4th, Others affect pregnancy and destitution. 5th, Others obtain alms by the husband remaining at home and affecting indisposition, in case any one should visit his lodgings to examine into the merits of the case, whilst the wife goes out begging for wine, rags, clothes, &c., for the sham invalid. 6th, Others pretend to have bad wounds, and beg for linen rags and small bottles to contain medicine necessary for their cure. I saw a man who got, in one day, by this means, thirteen pounds' weight of white rags, and more than five dozen of phial bottles. Rags and bottles sell well. 7th, Others affect