George Cruikshank

Sinks of London - A Tour of the London Underworld

illustrations from the Sinks of London, a book published in 1822, with illustrations by George Cruikshank

This section features illustrations from the Sinks of London, a book published in 1822, with illustrations by George Cruikshank.

The Sinks of London by George Cruikshank

An Illustration from The Sinks of London - a book which exposed the underside of London Society. Illustrated by George Cruikshank.

The Sinks of London is a unique tour of the seedy Victorian underwold. The author takes the reader through the dark and filthy alleys inhabited by beggars, prostitutes and gamblers -- from the dingy flop houses to the gin houses.

The Sinks of London are the cesspools and low points of the great city. George Cruikshank illustrated this look at the hidden side of Victorian society. Here are some illustrations from the book.

In this illustration by George Cruikshank, a resident of a flop house that has not paid his bill is gently escorted out.

The Common Lodging House, as the reader no doubt understands, is a house of accommodation for all classes—no matter what may be their appearance or character—only provided that they can procure, when required, the necessary quantity of coins. In every considerable village in the kingdom there is a lodging-place called the “Beggars’ House;” The Lodging House
A landlord keeps order in a lodging house with a whip.

a beggarOn a form against the wall, sat a tall and aged man, with a beard like a hermit, all fluttering in rags—the very emblem of wretchedness. He was relieving his uneasiness by giving his back every now and then, a comfortable rub against the wall. A little on one side of this forlorn being, at the head of the table where the landlord sat, was a character that could hardly escape the notice of the most obtuse observer, a stout active young man, in the very perfect costume of a cadger. The upper part of his person was decorated with a piece of a garment that had once been a coat, and of which there yet remained a sleeve and a half; the rest was suspended over his shoulders in shreds. A few tatters were arranged around his nether parts, but they could scarcely be said to cover his nakedness; and as for shoes, stockings, and shirt, they doubtless had been neglected, as being of no professional use.

The Gin House
The Gin House
After this slight refection, like the rest of the gemmen who live by their means, they wiped their chins with their napkins—the cuffs of their coats—arose, and went out to that sink of ruin, the gin shop, to rinse their teeth with a little rum, that being the favourite stimulus of the begging tribe. The twopenny dram of pure Jamaica is preferred by them, and particularly those who live in the country, to any other kind of malt, or spirituous liqueurs.

And accordingly they prepared, the sluggard in a soldier’s flannel jacket, and a tattered pair of breeks, which was all that he considered requisite for the weather and his own particular profession. Paddy, a lean, pale-faced lad of eighteen, whose features bore the look of emaciation, from the continual use of tobacco—the pipe or quid ne47ver being out of his mouth, save at mealsA Beggar and His Dog
A Beggar and His Dog