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The Crawlers | by LSE Library
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The Crawlers

From 'Street Life in London', 1877, by John Thomson and Adolphe Smith:


“But old age, and want of proper food and rest, reduces them to a lethargic condition which can scarcely be preferable to death itself. It will be noticed that they are constantly dozing, and yet are never really asleep. Some of them are unable to lie down for days. They sit on the hard stone step of the workhouse, their heads reclining on the door, and here by old custom they are left undisturbed. Indeed, the policeman of this beat displays, I am told, much commiseration for these poor refugees, and in no way molests them. When it rains, the door offers a little shelter if the wind is in a favourable direction, but as a rule the women are soon drenched, and consequently experience all the tortures of ague and rheumatism in addition to their other ailments. Under such circumstances sound sleep is an unknown luxury, hence that drowsiness from which they are never thoroughly exempt. This peculiarity has earned them the nick-name of" dosses," derived from the verb to doze, by which they are sometimes recognized. The crawlers may truly be described as persons who sleep •with one eye open.”


For the full story, and other photographs and commentaries, follow this link and click through to the PDF file at the bottom of the description

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Taken on July 19, 2010