[Description of Finsbury slums]
Many of the mothers did not know where their husbands worked or what their earnings were. Other mothers wished to conceal the occupations of their husbands. One such had stated that her husband was a carman. Later, they and their baby, 13 months old, were seen in a London square. The mother was soliciting money from passers-by. The father was playing a combination slum orchestra which included a violin, Pan’s pipes, drum, a triangle, and cymbals.
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Lowest in the scale are fathers who “work pitches” outside public houses for a living, organ grinders, and those who “go busking” or singing to theatre queues. Those who are attached to public house “pitches” act as messengers, porters, cartminders, or hold horses’ heads. They earn from 1s. to 2s. a day, but are often remunerated by having ale given to them instead of money. The takings of organ grinders are said to have materially lessened during the last 5 years. It would appear that 10s. to 15s. is now a fair average weekly amount.
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Some of the homes were in dark, dilapidated and domestically dirty basements or attics. It is noteworthy that families with numerous children are compelled by house owners in many instances to occupy the basements. Such families are precluded from living in upper rooms because when they occupy the higher storeys the children at play make much noise and interfere with the peaceable enjoyment of their holdings by those who occupy the rooms underneath. One mother observed, “If you have children, you are always pushed to the bottom of the house if you live with respectable people. My children have always been ill since we have had to live in these underground places.” Many of the tenements were verminous, many were crowded, a few were overcrowded.