“Not a novel experiment”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but it appears there are those citizens out there today who believe a majority of street people are in some way comfortable with hand-outs. Those who blame the poor often wonder why do-gooders aren’t practical-minded enough to try to actually find vagrants paid work.  Their argument is that the vagrants would not take work if they were offered it. That kind of view cannot be right, can it?


St James’s Gazette, June 22, 1888

By the way, vagrom was a variant of vagrant, but petit bleu has me foxed. It’s obviously slang for a potent psychotropic alcoholic concoction, but the official meaning of petit bleu in the 1880s was a form of telegram (on blue paper, naturally enough) that was whizzed around Paris on a pneumatic distribution system. There, we’ve both learned something.

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