I was particularly interested to read what one diarist of the day (a sort of ye olde bloguerre) had to say about the gradations of prostitution going on in London.
In his opinion, in 1758, this was the order of respectability:
- women of fashion who intrigue
- good natured girls
- kept mistresses
- ladies of pleasure
- park walkers
- street walkers
- bulk mongers
Having looked up ‘bunter’ in the OED I now know that she was a pretty desperate creature who picked up rags from the street and, in some cases, doggy poo. (Nice work if you can get it.)
You can imagine why she’s further down the list than the ladies who walk in parks.
‘Parkies’ are preferable to ladies who walk streets, perhaps because if the bunter has not been round collecting the doggy poos, she’s more likely to have encountered one on the pavement and be in no fit state to offer a gentleman a discreet encounter.
As for bulk mongers, I have no idea other than the suggestion of magnitude. Or perhap, since they are bottom of the list, they made some sort of living buying up ‘in bulk’ materials gathered by bunters.