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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: September ::
Re: Scavengers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1618  Friday, 24 September 1999.

From:           Lawrence Manley <
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Date:           Thursday, 23 Sep 1999 13:32:14 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.1602 Re: Scavengers
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1602 Re: Scavengers

> Tim Brookes wrote:
>
> >I'm reading Stow's Survey, and with each ward he refers to its
> >complement of scavengers. Can anyone tell me exactly who these
> >characters were, and what their job was?

In addition to the sources already cited, here's Donald Lupton's
character-essay "Scavengers and Goldfinders" from _London & the Countrey
Carbonadoed and Quartered into Severall Characters_ (1632):

These two will keep all clean, the one streets, the other the backsides,
but they are seldom clean themselves; the one, like the hangman, doth
his work all by day; the other, ike a thief, doth theirs in the night.
The goldfinders hold the sense of smelling the least of use and do not
much care for touching the business they have in hand.  They both carry
their burdens out into the fields, yet sometimes the Thames carries away
their loads.  They are something like the trade of barbers, for both do
rid away superfluous excrements.  The barber's profession is held chief,
because that deals with the head and face, but these with the excrements
of the posteriorums.  The barber's trade and these have both very strong
smells, but the goldfider's is the greatest for strength, the other's is
safest and sweetest.  The barber useth washing, when he hath done, to
cleanse all, and so do these; the barber useth a looking-glass, that men
may see how he hath done his work, and these use a candle.  They are all
necessary in the city; as our faces would be foul without the barber, so
our streets without the scavenger and our backsides without the
goldfinder.  The scavenger sems not so great an officer as the
goldfinder, for he deals with the excrements chiefly of beasts, but this
latter of his own species.  Well, had they been sweeter fellows I would
have stood longeron them, but they may answer, they keep all clean and
do that work which scarce anyone but themselves would meddle withal.
(spelling modernized)

Fragrantly yours,
Lawrence Manley
Yale University
 

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