Page:The bitter cry of outcast London.djvu/11

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Who can wonder that young girls wander off into a life of immorality, which promises release from such conditions? Who can wonder that the public-house is "the Elysian field of the tired toiler?"


is but the natural outcome of conditions like these. "Marriage," it has been said, "as an institution, is not fashionable in these districts." And this is only the bare truth. Ask if the men and women living together in these rookeries are married, and your simplicity will cause a smile. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Nobody expects that they are. In exceptional cases only could your question be answered in the affirmative. Incest is common; and a form of vice and sensuality causes surprise or attracts attention. Those who appear to be married are often separated by a mere quarrel, and they do not hesitate to form similar companionships immediately. One man was pointed out who for some years had lived with a woman, the mother of his three children. She died and in less than a week he had taken another woman in her place. A man was living with a woman in the low district called "The Mint." He went out one morning with another man for the purpose of committing a burglary and by that other man was murdered. The murderer returned saying that his companion had been caught and taken away to prison; and the same night he took the place of the murdered man. The only check upon communism in this regard is jealousy and not virtue. The vilest practices are looked upon with the most matter-of-fact indifference. The low parts of London are the sink into which the filthy and abominable from all parts of the country seem to flow. Entire courts are filled with thieves, prostitutes and liberated convicts. In one street are 35 houses, 32 of which are known to be brothels. In another district are 43 of these houses, and 428 fallen women and girls, many of them not more than 12 years of age. A neighbourhood whose population is returned at 10,100, contains 400 who follow this immoral traffic, their ages varying from 13 to 50; and of the moral degradation of the people, some idea may be formed from an incident which was brought to our notice. An East-end missionary rescued a young girl from an immoral life, and obtained for her a situation with people who were going abroad. He