Castle Yard, London, SE1. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
The Seven Curses of London – James Greenwood, 1869:
Observe the vast number of “city Arabs,” to be encountered in a walk, from Cheapside to the Angel at Islington, say. You cannot mistake them. There are other children who are constantly encountered in the street, male and female, who, though perhaps neither so ragged and dirty as the genuine juvenile vagrants, are even more sickly and hungry looking; but it is as easy to distinguish between the two types—between the home-owning and the homeless–as between the sleek pet dog and the cur of the street, whose ideas of a “kennel” are limited to that represented by the wayside gutter, from which by good luck edibles may be extracted. Not only does the youthful ragamuffin cry aloud for remedy in every street and public way of the city, he thrusts his ugly presence on us continuously, and appeals to us in bodily shape. In this respect the curse of neglected children differs widely from any of the others, beggars alone excepted, perhaps. And even as regards beggars, to see them is not always to believe in them as human creatures helpless in the sad condition in which they are discovered, and worthy of the best help we can afford to bestow on them. It is next to impossible by outward signs merely to discriminate between the impostor and the really unfortunate and destitute. The pallid cheek and the sunken eye may be a work of art and not of nature, and in the cunning arrangement of rags, so as to make the most of them, the cheat must always have an advantage over the genuine article.
[The cheek in the above photograph belongs to Tempesta, the Etruscan goddess of the wind, and is the work of sculptor Emily Young. R.D.]