THE occupation of sweeping Chimneys begins with the break of day. A master Chimney-sweeper patroles the street for custom, attended by two or three boys, the taller ones carrying the bag of soot, and directing the little diminutive creature who, stript perfectly naked, ascends and sweeps the Chimney. The common price is six pence per Chimney; but for those of large kitchens, where much scraping is required, they usually demand a shilling. The greatest profit arises from the sale of the soot, which is used for manure.
Formerly it was the custom to cry "Sweep for the Soot O!" the sale of the soot then being the only compensation of the sweeper. The hard condition of Chimney sweeping devolves upon the smallest and feeblest of the children apprenticed from parish workhouses. The employment in itself stints their growth, and it is unhappily too much the interest of the master so to feed his apprentices as they shall not be liable to outgrow their occupation. It is very common to see Chimney-sweepers of twelve and fourteen years of age who do not exceed the ordinary stature of boys of seven and eight. Many hardships to which these defenceless beings were subjected, have been alleviated by the exertions of the celebrated and benevolent Mr. Jonas Hanway, who obtained an act of parliament, enacting that every Chimney-sweeper's apprentice shall wear a brass plate in front of his cap, with the name and abode of his master engraved on it, thus enabling any humane person to take immediate cognizance of their treatment. Happily, however, for the cause of humanity, a society has been lately established to alleviate the misery of these unfortunate beings, by the adoption of a mode of sweeping Chimnies by a machine, which, upon the examination of several intelligent persons, has been highly approved.
Foundling Hospital, a handsome, plain, and commodious building in Guilford-street, to the north of Holborn, has a centre and wings, and stands at the upper end of a large piece of ground, in which the children of the foundation are allowed to play in fine weather. The whole is enclosed by a wall with gates. At the western gate is a neat porter's lodge. Divine service is performed in the chapel of the Foundling-hospital twice every Sunday, at eleven in the morning and seven in the evening, and is constantly attended by a crowded and elegant audience. Several of Hogarth's pictures, presented by himself, are in the Foundling-hospital, and claim the attention of strangers, particularly his celebrated March of the Guards to Finchley. The apartments of the Hospital may be seen Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. For particulars of this admirable institution see page 204.