[April 1, 2015 Vagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers through the Streets of London; Drawn from the Life, London 1817
In the first decade of the 19th century the bourgeoisie felt increasingly pestered by the exploding army of beggars and pedlars. A royal commission of inquiry was appointed to remedy this, and in 1815 published a first Mendicity and Vagrancy Report. The commission´s recommendations resulted in countering the problem of homelessness and beggary with strict police measures. The fear that the London vagabondage could be a fading cultural asset had prompted John Thomas Smith to accompany the work of the commission with a visual documentation seeking to preserve for posterity the activities of pedlars and beggars.
George Dyball, a blind beggar who sometimes dresses as a sailor, with his guide dog Nelson. When Dyball mutters, “Pray pity the blind” the dog whines and piteously uplifts his eyes.
A nameless foreign mendicant, who pretends to have lost his eyesight during the siege of Gibraltar. The seated beggar is frequently to be seen in Westminster.
This walking beggar, attended by a tricky boy, was sketched in West Smithfield.
This tall blind vendor of penny religious tracts was drawn when he stood against the wall of Mr. Whitebread´s brewhouse
A blind teetotaller, who is obtaining an honest livelihood by trafficking in halfpenny ballads.
This beggar has the ability to remain for many hours in one position, while singing obscene songs.
The blind Charles Wood with his organ and his French dancing dog, called Bob.
This blind woman called Priscilla is employed in the making of patchwork quilts.
A portait of Taylor, a shoe-maker, who lost his eyesight by a blight.
William Kinlock, a blind ex-service man, who´s stands are Furnival´s Inn and Portugal-Street.
This disabled person sells wooden chains, which he cuts out of pieces of ash.
Industrious Joseph Take and his son, vending self produced rattle-puzzles in the churchyard of St. Paul´s.
The disabled Ex-mariner Joseph Johnson, known as “Black Joe”, wears a spectacular model of the ship Nelson on his cap. He makes a living as a “Regular Chaunter”, by singing George Alexander Steven´s “Storm”.
One-eyed Charles M´Gee from Jamaica, 73 years old, usually stands with his broom nearby the Obelisk, at the foot of Ludgate-Hill.
The back view of Samuel Horsey, known as the “King of the Beggars”.
John Mac Nally, who lost both his legs when a log crushed his thighs, is well known about Parliament Street, Whitehall and the Surrey side of Westminster Bridge. He coupled dogs to his cart to get about.
A Jewish Mendicant who had lost the use of both of his legs. Each morning he is placed in his box and drawn about the neighbourhood of Petticoat Lane to collect alms.
William Tomlins, a street-crossing sweeper. His stand is very productive as it includes both Albemarle and St James´s streets.
A street sweeper of the crossing at the top of Ludgate Hill. He wears a cloth about his head, and therefore is frequently mistaken for a woman.
A lad who sweeps the crossing of Prince´s street, Hanover Square. He wears a large waistcoat, surmounted by a soldier´s jacket.
Two vendors of matches, singing old match songs.
Daniel Cropp, a filthy looking fellow, his hair wild from being combed with his open fingers. He sweeps the street crossing of Charles Street and Rathbone Place.
Mr. Lilly, who lost his leg while working on building repairs in Westminster. He generally beggs about Poet´s Corner in the Abbey.
William Frasier lost both his hands in battle. He sells bootlaces on the streets to support his large family.
Two street itinerants on May Day. dancing around a milkmaids garland.
Bill Row and John Taylor, two grubbers. They procured a living by whatever they find. . Grubbers are frequently employed to clean gully-holes and sewers.
William Friday from Croydon sells mushrooms on the streets of London. He is working also as a snail-picker, leech-bather and viper-catcher.
A bird-mimicker who pretends to use two tobacco pipes in order to generate bird tunes. In reality he uses a tin plate hidden between his teeth to create the bird song.
Beggars on their way back to the workhouse for the night.