The Bearded Crossing sweeper at the Exchange
That portion of the London street-folk who earn a scanty living by sweeping crossings constitute a large class of the Metropolitan poor. We can scarcely walk along a street of any extent, or pass through a square of the least pretensions to “gentility,” without meeting one or more of these private scavengers. Crossing-sweeping seems to be one of those occupations which are resorted to as an excuse for begging; and, indeed, as many expressed it to me, “it was the last chance left of obtaining an honest crust.”
The advantages of crossing-sweeping as a means of livelihood seem to be:
1st, the smallness of the capital required in order to commence the business;
2ndly, the excuse the apparent occupation it affords for soliciting gratuities without being considered in the light of a street-beggar;
And 3rdly, the benefits arising from being constantly seen in the same place, and thus exciting the sympathy of the neighbouring householders, till small weekly allowances or “pensions” are obtained.