The Mud Lark
There is another class who may be termed river-finders, although their occupation is connected only with the shore; they are commonly known by the name of “mud-larks,” from being compelled, in order to obtain the articles they seek, to wade sometimes up to their middle through the mud left on the shore by the retiring tide.
Among the mud-larks may be seen many old women, and it is indeed pitiable to behold them, especially during the winter, bent nearly double with age and infirmity, paddling and groping among the wet mud for small pieces of coal, chips of wood, or any sort of refuse washed up by the tide.
The London Scavenger
These men, for by far the great majority are men, may be divided, according to the nature of their occupations, into three classes:—
1. The bone-grubbers and rag-gatherers, who are, indeed, the same individuals, the pure-finders, and the cigar-end and old wood collectors.
2. The dredgermen, the mud-larks, and the sewer-hunters.
3. The dustmen and nightmen, the sweeps and the scavengers.
The London Dustman
Were the collection of mud and dust carried on by a number of distinct individuals—that is to say, were each individual dustman and scavenger to collect on his own account, there is no doubt that no one man could amass a fortune by such means—while if the collection of bones and rags and even dogs’-dung were carried on “in the large way,” that is to say, by a number of individual collectors working for one “head man,” even the picking up of the most abject refuse of the metropolis might become the source of great riches.
The Bone Grubber
The Bone Grubbers go abroad daily to find in the streets, and carry away with them such things as bones, rags, “pure” (or dogs’-dung), which no one appropriates. These they sell, and on that sale support a wretched life.
The “Street Orderlies.”—These men present another distinct body. They are not merely in the employment, but many of them are under the care, of the National Philanthropic Association, which was founded by, and is now under the presidency of, Mr. Cochrane. The objects of this society, as far as regards the street orderlies’ existence as a class of scavengers, are sufficiently indicated in its title, which declares it to be “For the Promotion of Street Cleanliness and the Employment of the Poor; so that able-bodied men may be prevented from burthening the parish rates, and preserved independent of workhouse alms and degradation. Supported by the contributions of the benevolent.”
View of a Dust Yard
A dust-heap, therefore, may be briefly said to be composed of the following things, which are severally applied to the following uses:—
1. “Soil,” or fine dust, sold to brickmakers for making bricks, and to farmers for manure, especially for clover.
2. “Brieze,” or cinders, sold to brickmakers, for burning bricks.
3. Rags, bones, and old metal, sold to marine-store dealers.
4. Old tin and iron vessels, sold for “clamps” to trunks, &c., and for making copperas.
5. Old bricks and oyster shells, sold to builders, for sinking foundations, and forming roads.
6. Old boots and shoes, sold to Prussian-blue manufacturers.
7. Money and jewellery, kept, or sold to Jews.
The Rubbish Carter
Technologically there are several varieties of “rubbish,” or rather “dirt,” for such appears to be the generic term, of which “rubbish” is strictly a species. Dirt, according to the understanding among the rubbish-carters, would seem to consist of any solid earthy matter, which is of an useless or refuse character. This dirt the trade divides into two distinct kinds, viz.:—
1. “Soft dirt,” or refuse clay (of which “dry dirt,” or refuse soil or mould, is a variety).
2. “Hard-dirt,” or “hard-core,” consisting of the refuse bricks, chimney-pots, slates, &c., when a house is pulled down, as well as the broken bottles, pans, pots, or crocks, and oyster-shells, &c., which form part of the contents of the dustman’s cart.