SIDNEY SMITH ON CHIMNEY SWEEPERS
washed? No. — Not once in three months No, not once a year. — Did not he find you soap? No; I can take my oath on the Bible that he never found me one piece of soap during the time I was apprentice." — Lords' Minutes, p. 41.
■ The sight of a little chimney sweeper often excites pity: and they have small presents made to them at the houses where they sweep. These benevolent alms are disposed of in the following manner: —
"Do the boys receive little present of money from people often in your trade? Yes, it is in general the custom. — Are they allowed to keep that for their own use> Not the whole of it, — the journeymen take what they think proper. The journeymen are entitled to half by the master's orders; and whatever a boy may get, if two boys and one journeyman are sent to a large house to sweep a number of chimneys, and after they have done, there should be a shilling or eighteenpence given to the boys, the journeyman has his full half, and the two boys in general have the other. — Is it usual or customary for the journeyman to play at chuck farthing or other games with the boys? Frequently. — Do they win the money from the boys? Frequently; the children give their money to the journeyman to screen *) for them. — What do you mean by screening? Such a thing as sifting the soot. The child is tired, and he says, 'Jem, I will give you twopence if you will sift my share of the soot;' there is2) sometimes twenty or thirty
1. to screen, in non-technical language, means to hide partlyorcompletely so as to protect; it is often taken f igurati vely: to protect by taking the blame upon oneself.
2. The singular verb is used because there is a sort of pro visional subject; the construction is still quite common in familiar English.