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12. GIN, GIN

Never in history (not even in Prohibition America of the 1920s) has there ever been such an orgy of drunkeness as in London from 1720 to 1750.

Cheap, murderously strong gin was sold everywhere. It was sold from workhouses, brothels and barber shops. In fact one London house in six retailed gin.

13 DRUNK FOR A PENNY

In the slum quarters the streets were littered day and night with the bodies of men, women and children dead drunk.

Over the doorways to the drinking cellars of St. Gile's Rookery was the sinister inscription

Drunk for a penny
Dead drunk for twopence
Clean Straw for nothing

14. DISEASE, DRINK & DEATH

Those who did not drink themselves to death were so enfeebled that they easily succumbed to disease.

Smallpox the disfiguring killer struck again and again throughout the century.

The deadliest disease was the Fever - or typhus. It was spread by the body louse of humans.

Typhus attacks viciously where the poor and hungry are crowded together. In 1741 it accounted for a quarter of all London deaths

15. THE TOLL

Small wonder that more Londoners died in the first half of the century than were born.

The health of London was never worse. 3 out of 4 children died befor reaching the age of 5. If there had not been the constant flow of immigrants, London might have dwindled into a ghost town.

16. CITY OF CRIME

Although a capital of death, London was also a city of bustling, rough, often criminal life.

Gangs were often better organised than the law officers. One notorious criminal mafioso, Jonathan Wilde, anticipated Al Capone's Chicago activities by 200 years.


17. FOOTPADS IN ISLINGTON

Streets were unsafe. Even in rural Islington vigilantes offered £10 reward for anyone catching a mugger.

Islingtonians returning from the city after dark would wait at the end of St. John Street to be conveyed home by armed guards.

18. MELANCHOLY ENGLISH

It is not surprising that foreign visitors found the English a miserable nation.

They were shocked at the number of English who committed suicide. When Westminster Bridge was built in 1748 its parapets had to be raised to stop despairing Londoners from throwing themselves into the Thames.

19. ARTIST OF THE TIMES

There have been other unhappy cities in history. We have already written about the wretched flat dwellers in the Insulae of Imperial Rome.

The brutality of London life of the first two Georges still remains vivid for us because of the works of William Hogarth. He produced a series of engravings on London life that captured more effectively than any words the degradation of a city.

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