Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Case of the "Growler" and the Handsome Hansom

A Hansom Cab

For many of us, especially those living in the "colonies", our introduction to the Hansom cab came as we first read the works of Dr John Watson about his sometime companion Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This is neither the time nor the place to explore the relationship between the two men or their involvement with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the well known literary agent for John (or was it James?) Watson. Rather such speculation should be left to those pseudo-scientists who delight in the name of "Sherlockians." Ours is a more serious business, to consider that most famous mode of transportation in the Victorian Era, the Hansom cab.

During Victoria's reign, two types of "hired" transport dominated the streets of London. The first of these was a four-wheeled vehicle, the Clarence or the "growler" (pictured left)which acquired its nickname as a result of the noise it made when driven over the cobblestoned streets. A closed, four-wheeled carriage, it was glass-fronted and seated four passengers in relative comfort. It was a popular vehicle holding more passengers and baggage than the hansom cab and for this reason was often found at railway stations. Indeed, so popular was it that as Mrs Beeton notes in 1861, "the family carriage of the day being a modified form of the clarence adapted for family use."

It was the two wheeled hansom cab, however, that was the most popular public vehicle of the century. Although named for its inventor, the coachbuilder Joseph Hansom (pictured right), the design of the cab which dominated the London streets was that of John Chapman. In many ways it was the ideal vehicle for moving through the crowded London streets quickly. The body was light enough to be pulled by a single horse and with only two wheels and a low centre of gravity could safely turn on a sixpence. Speed, coupled with maneuverability meant that the hansom cab could steer through the traffic jams so common in later Victorian London.

The driver of the hansom cab sat on a raised seat above and behind the passengers compartment. Two passengers could ride with reasonable comfort in the cab and a third might be squeezed in if necessary. Passengers spoke to and paid the driver through a trap-door in the roof which also provided a degree of security for the driver who had control of a lever used to release the doors once the fare had been paid. The reins used to control the horse at the front of the cab ran over the roof of the vehicle which meant that the only part of the horse visible to the driver was its head.

It is not surprising that our image of the Hansom cab is somewhat fogged by time. Comfortable, they were not, nor were they particularly clean. In the early days, with their open fronts, the passengers were likely to get wet if it rained or have to deal with whatever the horse's hooves threw up from the road. Later, they had folding half doors which protected the passengers' legs. Mr Udny Yule, in proposing a vote of thanks to a speaker at the Royal Statistical Society in 1936, took the ocassion to comment on London as he had known it as a boy. Among his observations was a comment on "giving unintended hospitality to a hungry flea picked up on some growler or hansom cab," which he went on to note "was not exceedingly rare." It was certainly a case for Keating's Powder, a well-known product advertised in the '80s with the lines: "Keating's Powder does the trick/Kills all Bugs and Fleas off quick".

Drivers of Hansom cabs were often before the courts for drunkeness and abusing or injuring their passengers or pedestrians. To cite only one example, from The Times of 12 April 1882.

At MARYLEBONE, ROBERT COOMBER, 38, hansom cab driver, was charged with being drunk and furiously driving his cab, thereby causing damage to the extent of £4 to another cab and seriously injuring Mrs. Elizabeth Griffin. ... On Monday night about half-past 11, the prisoner, who was intoxicated, was seen driving his cab at a very fast rate ... on the wrong side of the way. He was shouted to, but took no notice, and after going some 600 yards he came into collision with another cab, and the shaft of his cab struck Mrs. Griffin who, with her husband, was in the damaged vehicle. She was picked up senseless and was taken to a doctor's where it was found that she was seriously injured. During the night she only recovered consciousness for a few minutes. Her husband also received a severe shock.
Small children playing in the streets were particularly vulnerable. Only six weeks later two little boys, one sixteen months old and the other four and a half years were killed by horse drawn vehicles; the latter by a hansom cab.

Although the Hansom Cab continued in use until well into the twentieth century, its popularity waned and within the first decade of the new century it was being reported that "'London's gondola,' the hansom cab, has had its day, and the future is with the taximotor."

What amounts to an official recognition of the fact is to be found in a new police regulation on the subject of cab whistles. Hitherto one blast has signified a call for a hansom, two blasts meant a four wheeler, or 'growler,' and three were required to summon a taximotor.

Now this is all changed by a regulation issued by the Chief Commissioner of Police and the 'taxi' takes the place of honor, the hansom going down, and the 'growler' being last in order. Henceforward one whistle summons a 'taxi.'
But there are still those of us who believe, as the yellow fog settles over London, that we can hear the footsteps of Holmes and Watson as they race towards a Hansom and in the ghostly stillness we can still hear Holmes' strident voice, "Come, Watson, come. The game is afoot."

There are numerous tales which involve hansom cabs. Here are two you might find of interest.

"The Adventure of the Hansom Cab," by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the stories in the compilation New Arabian Nights which can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, an Australian Novel (1886) by Fergus Hume can be downloaded by clicking here.

And of course, there are all those Sherlock Holmes stories!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Bridge Over the River Tay

Bridge Before the Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

Almost everyone would be familiar with the work of William Topaz McGonagall (pictured on the right). And among the very worst of his appalling output was The Tay Bridge Disaster! But while we laugh at McGonagall, we need to remember that there was, indeed, a terrible catastrophe when the railway bridge over the river Tay collapsed in 1879. Opened in May of the year before, it was the first rail bridge to cross the river and, with a length of two miles, was the longest bridge in the world. A single rail track ran the length of the bridge and the first crossing, by train, was on 26 September 1877.

The bridge, designed and built by Civil Engineer Thomas Bouch, was officially opened at the end of May 1878 after having been inspected and approved for use by the Board of Trade. It had taken six years to build and of the 600 men who worked on it, 20 or just under three and one-half percent lost their lives during construction. The Times of 8 June, in a report from Edinburgh on the official opening, noted that "Fragile as its appearance is, however, there is no doubt of its thorough stability."

Just a year after its opening, on 20 June 1879, Queen Victoria crossed the bridge on her return to Windsor from Balmoral. The Royal train arrived at Tay-bridge Station at 6.00pm and after the usual ceremonial niceties, including the presentation of Mr and Mrs Bouch to Her Majesty,departed at 6.05, crossing the bridge at a reduced speed of fifteen miles per hour "to allow the Royal visitors to enjoy the magnificent view." On 24 June, only three days after the Queen's return to Windsor, a short notice appeared in The Times.

The Queen has been graciously pleased to confer the honour of knighthood upon Mr. Thomas Bouch, C.E., chief engineer and projector of the Tay Bridge.
Six months later, and only three days after Christmas, on the night of 28 December, a heavy gale swept over the Dundee area as the train from Edinburgh made its way toward the city. The train was due to arrive at 7.15 after crossing the Tay Bridge but while the train was still crossing the river, the bridge collapsed, taking the train into the water far below and an estimated 75 passengers to their death. No survivors were found and only 60 bodies were recovered. First reports to The Times, filed at midnight, reported:

It is believed that the train is in the water, but the gale is still so strong that a steamboat has not yet been able to reach the bridge.
The train had rolled onto the bridge at 7.14 and appeared to be progressing normally when "sudenly there was observed a flash of fire. The opinion was that the train left the rails and went over the bridge."

When it was found that telegraphic communication between the north and south ends of the bridge were broken, the station-master and the locomotive superintendent walked out onto the bridge despite the fierce gale. They saw a gap in the bridge and realized that the bridge was down in part although they initially believed the train had crossed over the broken area before it had given way.

Reports continued to filter in through the night. By 1.30 in the morning there were thousands pf people at the Tay-bridge station and it was remembered that in October of 1877 during construction of the bridge, one of the girders was blown down during a gale and a workman had been killed. Two and a half hours later,it was reported that the portion of the bridge that had fallen into the river

consisted of several of the large superincumbent girders at the central and navigable portion of the river, which is on an average from 40ft. to 45ft. deep. The train would fal a distance of 88ft. before reaching the water. Some time elapsed before the nature of the accident was ascertained. Roberts, an official, walked along the bridge a certain distance, and then crawled till he came to the great chasm, when he was that the 13 girders had gone, and that nothing was left but the iron piers which had supported them. Smith, a station-master, went along in the same manner from the other end, and also saw that the girders had gone, thereby corroborating the statement of Roberts.
Initial estimates of the number of lives lost were as high as 300, although the final figure generally agreed upon was 75. As in the case of any great tragedy, all sorts of "experts" wrote to The Times to explain how and why the accident occurred. On 31 December, "The Thunderer" published letters from E. R. Robson, F.R.I.B.A., F.S.A., Architect to the School Board for London; J. D. Shakespear, The Scientific Club, Savile-row, W.; Charles B. King and a correspondent who signed himself as "Slow and Sure." Each pointed out deficiencies in the building of the bridge which would, accordingly, explain the accident. Another nine letters were published during the week, and then a few more as the initial shock wore off.

On 30 December 1879, The Times summed up the story.

All that will ever be known of the terrible calamity at the Tay Bridge is probably known, and it is sadly little. The huge gap, some three thousand feet in length, in the structure, the broken or dismantled piers left standing in the stream, and the motley wreckage washed ashore from hour to hour are the only evidence of an unexampled calamity. No one clearly saw the disaster. none have escapeed to tell how it occurred. A trail of fire and a sudden shower of sparks seen for a moment from the shore were the sole signal made by the train as it shot with a multitude of human beings into the abyss below.
The Report of the Court of Inquiry ordered by the Board of Trade was issued on Saturday, 3 July 1880, just over six months after the accident. It noted imperfect workmanship and changes in the specifications that would, in general, have weakened the structure. Nonetheless, it pointed out that during the inspection in February of 1878, "six locomotives coupled together, each weighing 73 tons, [were caused] to pass over the bridge at a speed of 40 miles per hour." Everything seemed fine at the time although it was recommended that a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour should be set as a limit, "not to be exceeded." But perhaps the most interesting finding to come out of the Inquiry was the statement made at the time of the inspection that the Inspector, General Hutchinson, "should wish, if possible, to have an opportunity of 'observing the effects of a high wind when a train of carriages is running over the bridge.'" A number of weaknesses in the bridge were identified but in the end the Report found

That the fall of the bridge was occasioned by the insufficiency of the cross bracings and its fastenings to sustain the force of the gale on the night of December 28, 1879, and that the bridge had been previously strained by other gales.
Mr Rothery, the Wreck Commissioner issued a separate report in which he wrote,

I apprehend that, if we think that blame attaches to anyone for this casualty, it is our duty to say so, and to say to whom it applies. I do not understand my colleagues to differ from me in thinking that the chief blame for this casualty rests with Sir Thomas Bourch, but they consider that it is not for us to say so.
As a result of the Inquiry, Bouch was released from his job with the Edinburgh and Northern Railway and died in disgrace at the end of October 1880, his ill-health undoubtedly exacerbated by his vilification at the Inquiry.

An exhibition for the 125th anniversary of the disaster, containing original "news" sketches and much, much more can be found by clicking here.

To see an 1880 ballad about the disaster, click here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Victorian Vegetarians

While modern vegetarians with an interest in the past may well know that a diet excluding meat has a long and honourable history, most of us tend to believe it is a fad of the middle years of the twentieth century. Those who think back as far as the beginning of the last century will remember that George Bernard Shaw was an advocate of vegetarianism but are still likely to think of it as a diet choice. The reality is that there has always been much more to it than that. Certainly in the nineteenth century, for some practitioners at least, it had a more radical sub-text. Before the nineteenth century the main argument for a vegetarian diet was the moral one. By the middle years of that century the organized movement seemed increasingly to be centered around a romantic sentimentality.

Health was one of the great obsessions of the Victorians. There were frequent and devastating outbreaks of disease during the Queen's reign. If it wasn't influenza, it was typhus, if not typhus, then cholera. And if that wasn't enough, there was always the possibility of acarlet fever or typhoid.

We can clearly see two streams of thought in support of vegetarianism. The first is medicinal, arguing that a diet which excludes meat is better for the health and more likely to help in the avoidance of certain types of disease as well as having curative properties. The other, even amongst medical practitioners, is essentially a moral argument that it is immoral to kill and eat animals.

The earliest reference to the term, "vegetarianism" is cited as 1851 in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and was found in Robley Dunglison's, Medical lexicon; A dictionary of medical science where it is described as "a modern term, employed to designate the view that man..ought to subsist on the direct productions of the vegetable kingdom and totally abstain from flesh and blood." However, "vegetarian" to refer to one who engages in this diet has many earlier examples of usage. In the earliest years of Victoria's reign, in 1839, the actress Fanny Kemble was commenting that if she had to do her own cooking she "should inevitably become a vegetarian."

While there has always been a degree of antipathy between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, it seems that both groups believe that the vegetarians are taking a position on the higher moral ground. This is evident when as early as 1854 Hugh Miller, in his Schools and Schoolmasters, argues that "a man can scarce become a vegetarian even without also becoming in some measure intolerant of the still large..class that eat beef with their greens, and herrings with their potatoes." And by 1885, one writer noted that "even those who used animal food themselves came to think of the vegetarian as one who lived a higher life."

Of course those who were meat-eaters; to use a term which seems to carry less odium than those used by the more radical Vegetarians, argued just as strongly that it was healthy to eat meat. In addition they frequently argued that meat eating was an economic necessity. An editorial in The Times on Christmas Day, 1850, begins, "the laws of the human economy demand that we should consume animal food." The author then goes on to point out that the animals that will grace the Christmas table are subjected to terrible conditions and argues for the amelioration of these and the improvement of sanitary conditions under which the slaughter takes place. Frequently vegetarians argued that it was possible to have a better, and certainly cheaper, diet when one excluded meat. On the 24th of December 1878, William Gibson Ward, writing to The Times as "the oldest Vice-President of the Vegetarian Society" argued just this point and included a simple recipe for lentil soup which he described as "the cheapest and best soup, pleasant, nutritious and wholesome." But somehow, considering it was Christmas Eve on which the recipe was published, one is left with the distinct impression that most people would be having a traditional Christmas dinner. Five years later, on 7 December 1883, T. R. Allinson wrote to The Times arguing the lower cost of a vegetarian diet and its greater health benefits.

Those who supported the more radical view of vegetarianism often tied it to man's inherently warlike nature. A report in The Times of the fifteenth annual meeting of the Vegetarian Society on 5 September 1862, indicated that

a lengthy report was read, which stated that in one phase of the vegetarian question popular feeling and opinion had been upon the whole decidedly adverse, and that, as with other beneficial movements, its progress had been retarded by the present position of warlike and military preparations. While men were engaged in encouraging, without compunction, and even with studied delight, the destruction of human life produced by war, it was useless to expect any consideration towards the lower orders of animals.
By the 1870s, the battle lines appear to have been more clearly drawn. At the 1874 meeting of the Vegetarian Society, one speaker used terms like "blood-lappers" and "patronizers of slaughter-houses" to refer to those who ate meat. But even in their own meetings, Vegetarians clearly did not always have it their own way. At the same gathering, a gentleman was invited to the platform where he protested the language used.

He empatically repudiated, as an Englishman, the statement that he was a "blood-licker." He ate beef and mutton ; and if he had been one of the 5,000 who were fed by the two fishes, he should never have refused the food which the Lord gave to His people. He might be wrong ; but he must say that after what he had heard in favour of vegetarianism that night, he left the meeting less inclined to become a vegetarian than when he entered to room.

Anna Kingsford, in the 1880s, clearly reflected a similar view. Kingsford was a spiritualist, an anti-vivisectionist, a Theosophist and a Vegetarian. In 1872 she became the owner of The Lady's Own Paper and in 1880 after passing all of her medical examinations in France wrote, as her thesis, "De 'l'alimentation végétale chez l'homme" later published in English as The Perfect Way to Diet. In a lecture given at Girton College in 1882, she accused "the modern advocates of flesh-eating and vivisection" of "making ... the practice of the lowest in the scale of Nature the rule of the highest, and abasing the moral standard of mankind to the level of the habits of the most dangerous or noxious orders of brutes." Clearly Kingsford was speaking not as what today would be described as "a health professional," but rather as an advocate of particular social doctrines.

G Yeates Hunter probably gave the view supported by most Victorians. He wrote,

It is very far from my purpose to depreciate the value of vegetables, but I would caution the public against being led away by the outpourings of a fervid imagination, which mixes up in a hotch-potch and bears away in its wondrous flight thrones lentils, game preservers, and haricot beans. However, I think the common sense of your readers would rather tend to set them against a form of food or character of diet which would seem to heat the brain and produce such fevered effects.
To read about Anna Kingsford in the Archives of the Vegetarian Society of the UK, click here
A description of Victorian vegetarian restaurants and their menus can be found in the middle of the page reached by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Victorian Funerals and Mourning

Victorian funerals were big business. Indeed, there were funerals pitched at all levels of society. At their most elaborate, they could bring even the great metropolis to a standstill. When the Queen's Consort, Prince Albert, died, the whole of the realm went into mourning. Not only were church bells tolled throughout the land, many churches held special services and shops in many towns were closed. When the Duke of Wellington died, more than 65,000 people came to see him lying in state. On the day of the funeral itself, the bells in the Tower Hamlets were tolling at minute intervals throughout the day and, according to The Times, ninety percent of shops were completely closed and the remainder partially so.

That the funeral business was an excellent trade can hardly be doubted. One writer in Leisure Hour in 1862 describes the business as extortionate.
In numberless instances the interment of the dead is in the hands of miscreants, whom it is almost flattery to compare to the vulture, or the foulest carrion bird. . . the morality is, in their hands, to use a plain word, robbery.
The bereaved were often led into spending more than was either necessary or desirable and paying inflated prices for no purpose other than to increase the profits of those in the industry. But not everyone profited from a funeral. When a funeral became a major event, it had ramifications for tradesmen as well. A linen-draper, writing to The Times (4 June 1830), noted that when King George IV took ill, his very successful trade in "coloured silks, prints, ribands, and every kind of fancy and coloured goods" had stopped and he went on to say that "all my hopes are blighted." Three weeks later, the King died and a period of general mourning was declared which lasted 45 days. When the period of general mourning was brought to a close, on 11 August, it was "evidently . . . dictated by a considerate regard to the injury which the manufacturers . . . sustained by the event." Again, on the death of the Duke of Wellington letters appeared in The Times (24 September 1852) pointing out the impact a period of mourning would have on trade, and with the death of Queen Victoria, the Secretary to the Drapers' Chamber of Trade, wrote to The Times (26 January 1901) to suggest that the twelve months of Court Mourning would profoundly impact on the retail drapery trade which ordered their products three or four months in advance. He went on to suggest that the Earl Marshall fix a shorter period for public mourning; suggesting three months.

While great funerals were, of course, the exception, there seems to have been a funeral available for everyone as evidenced in a mid-century advertisement in The Times that offered six classes of funerals ranging in price from 21 pounds for a first-class burial down to 3 pounds, five shillings for the sixth class. Even these prices could be reduced further "by dispensing with the funeral cortege through the streets of London." Instead, the Necropolis Company suggested that the body be taken by special train from their private station to Woking Cemetery "to relieve the public from unnecessary and costly display."

If one was attending a funeral one needed to dress accordingly. There were outfitters prepared to provide appropriate clothing and other elements to the discerning mourner. The London General Mourning Warehouse located at 247 and 249 Regent street advertised in The Times (1 November 1845) that "millinery, dresses, cloaks, shawls, mantles, &c., of the best quality can be purchased at the most reasonable prices." Business must have been good, for by the 1870s it had taken over properties on either side and was now advertised at 245-251 Regent Street from where it offered, in The Illustrated London News (11 January 1873), "a Black Dress made up complete, sufficient Print for a Dress, also a Bonnet, Mantle or Shawl and Gloves, for 3gs." In addition to such large firms, there were many smaller ones and even those that specialized in particular articles of clothing. The Misses Lewis, for example, advertised as "mourning milliners" in the late 1840s.

Not only was the family expected to mourn (and to dress appropriately), the family's servants might be required to wear mourning clothing. Peter Robinson's at 256 to 262 Regent Street advertised "Mourning for servants at unexceptionably low rates, at a great saving to large or small families." Both Peter Robinson's and Jay's (also in Regent Street)offered to conduct funerals, in London or in the country although it is likely that they acted as middle-men, arranging for an undertaker to actually do the funeral while taking a profit for themselves.

By the middle of the century, funerals had become such big business that Mr Punch was drawn to comment on it. Referring to advertisements to perform funerals, he commented that there must be "different qualities of grief ... according to the price you pay."
For £2 10s., the regard is very small. For £5, the sighs are deep and audible. For £7 10s. the woe is profound, only properly controlled; but for £10, the despair bursts through all restraint, and the mourners water the ground, no doubt, with their tears.
Charles Manby Smith, writing in Curiosities of London Life (1853) had little to say that was favourable to the industries that provided for funerals.
Here, when you enter his gloomy penetralia, and invoke his services, the sable-clad and cadaverous- featured shopman asks you, in a sepulchral voice-we are not writing romance, but simple fact - whether you are to be suited for inextinguishable sorrow, or for mere passing grief; and if you are at all in doubt upon the subject, he can solve the problem for you, if you lend him your confidence for the occasion. . . .Messrs. Moan and Groan know well enough, that when the heart is burdened with sorrow, considerations of economy are likely to be banished from the mind as out of place, and disrespectful to the memory of the departed; and, therefore, they do not affront their sorrowing patrons with the sublunary details of pounds, shillings, and pence. ... For such benefactors to womankind - the dears - of course no reward can be too great; and, therefore, Messrs. Moan and Groan, strong in their modest sense of merit, make no parade of prices. They offer you all that in circumstances of mourning you can possibly want; they scorn to do you the disgrace of imagining that you would drive a bargain on the very brink of the grave; and you are of course obliged to them for the delicacy of their reserve on so commonplace a subject, and you pay their bill in decorous disregard of the amount. It is true, that certain envious rivals have compared them to birds of prey, scenting mortality from afar, and hovering like vultures on the trail of death, in order to profit by his dart; but such "caparisons," as Mrs. Malaprop says, "are odorous," and we will have nothing to do with them.
Although expected to mourn, women were generally advised against attending funerals, especially for those nearest and dearest to them. Cassell's Household Guide for 1878 discourages the practice pointing out that it is something done by female relatives in the poorer classes. It may also have been the case that the frequent practice of drinking both before and after the funeral not only by the funeral party, but by the undertaker and his assistants would have been upsetting. An article in Leisure Hour (1862) quotes the secretary of an English burial society that
Undertakers' men, . . . usually take whatever drink is given them, and are frequently unfit to perform their duty, and have reeled in carrying the coffin. The men who stand as mutes at the door are supposed to require most drink. I have seen these men reel about the road, and after the burial, we have been obliged to put these mutes and their staves into the interior of the hearse and drive them home, as they were incapapble of walking.
Aside from the clothes that were so much a part of mourning there were all the little things that had to be done and the appropriate appurtenances ranging from mourning envelopes and paper and black sealing wax to mourning jewellery. The selection of items was extensive. In a period when correspondence was far more formal than today, Parkins and Gotto, stationary manufactures of Oxford Street, advertised "50 different kinds of mourning stationary" and for those who wanted their mourning stationary to carry the appropriate monogram, there was always the service provided by firms such as Henry Rodrigues at 42, Piccadilly which offered:
Black bordered note paper and envelopes of every description, also ... paper every width of border. Memorial Cards and return Thanks of the newest patterns. Notepaper and envelopes stamped in black relief, and illuminated in a superior manner.
In addition there were the personal momentos of the deceased. In a period when death was likely to take people at a younger age and the body was kept in the home until the funeral, momentos provided a kind of therapy and a physical remembrance. It was a time before the widespread popularity of photography meant that one could go to one's photo album and see pictures from happier days and so rings, brooches and lockets containing hair from the dead were often kept by the immediate family and sometimes even by particularly close friends.
A Victorian Mourning Brooch with Hair

For those who could afford it the one picture of the loved one might be a post-mortem photograph taken and kept as a momento.

The mourning process was rigidly governed by convention. Clocks in the house were stopped at the time of death and mirrors were either draped or turned to the wall. Curtains were drawn. The length of time for mourning appropriate for a widow or widower, a child or a parent was clearly spelt out. Deep mourning, for example, for a widow might be two years, followed by a period of half-mourning. Within these times codes of dress, especially for women were quite detailed as were what was and was not appropriate activity. Men, because they still had to carry on the business of the day, were less bound by convention, but even they had to adhere to the appropriate dress and behaviour expected from them for their place in the family. Such patterns were followed by those in the "better" classes. Death in the lower and labouring classes was less bound up with the rituals. This, of course, was seen by the middle-classes as evidence for shallowness in feeling and a general lack of respectability.

By the later years of the century, the pattern and habits of mourning had begun to change. Cremation was more widely accepted and as Richard Davey noted in 1889, men no longer wore "full black for a fixed number of months after the decease of a near relation, and even content themselves with a black hat-band and dark-coloured garments." The funeral ceremony was becoming less elaborate and it was much more common to send flowers to the grave than in earlier years. This must have been a problem to the vast mourning industry which surely would have wanted to keep the whole process as complicated as possible. The mourning warehouses which had expanded from clothing to paraphernalia to funerals were, by the 1890s, advertising their knowledge of the appropriate behaviour for mourners. In a full column advertisement in The Times in 1894, Jay's Mourning House pointed out that
The etiquette of Mourning is continually changing in certain matters of detail, and a reliable guide to what may, and what may not, be worn under certain circumstances is almost necessary. That guide is to be found here--an authority on everything, from the length of a widow's veil to the texture of a ball dress.
For a collection of Victorian post-mortem photographs, click here.