From around 11 they join gangs and these become alternative families. But they are ruled by brutal discipline that spills over into extreme violence. With such escalating numbers joining gangs it is little wonder then that, last week, the Commons home affairs select committee warned of a spiralling ''arms race'' among youths - some as young as seven - who carry knives. So who exactly are the young men and, disturbingly, the young woman who choose violence and gangland allegiance over family and community?
And what is the lure of territorial gangs whose defence of their ''turf'' demands total obedience from its members and why do so many of our inner city youngsters become embroiled? It offers an extended family with all the fierce, loyal protection that exists within blood families - something few of these young people know anything about.
It begins with bullying and, as they discover that that earns them respect, they crave yet more. Belonging to a brotherhood in which one is respected is particularly alluring to young, disaffected men. They become feral, mindless thugs.
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There isn't a lot of intelligence there. Nicco, 18, a member of one of London's estimated gangs snorts with laughter at the analysis. The ''general'' of a Peckham gang in south east London the most notorious are Shower, the Peckham Young Gungs Peel Em Crew and Gipset Taliban, although Nicco won't say to which he belongs he is scornful of academia's approach to understanding gangland culture.
Even the Boyden [police] respect me. Nicco was sucked into the gang culture at At first you run messages, then you get promoted. That means you hide the knives and guns. Kids ain't searched much. It's the noise. And it shreds the target. Then there's the rules. You never, ever talk to the Boyden. You don't snitch. That bitch who did her cousin?
She should be scared. What Nicco is loath to admit is that while inter-gang rivalry is rife and turf wars can erupt in an instant, the real lure of Britain's teen gangs are financial. As he speaks he fingers his ''blade'' - a steel kitchen knife, doubtless pinched during a burglary. A wealth of well meaning reports by liberal think-tanks will tell you that the majority of teens who carry knives unbelievably some 80 per cent of year-olds say they do so for protection.
It is impossible to know what is swagger and what isn't. But according to Nicco this is how the hierarchy breaks down. Middle ranking members, usually the year-olds, work as recruiters and enforcers. Having now reached the inn, and finding every thing adjusted for their procedure, our heroes mounted their vehicle, and went in full gallop for Real Life in London. They had scarcely entered the Park-gate, when Lady Jane Townley's carriage crossed them, and Tom immediately approached it, to pay his respects to an old acquaintance.
Her lady-ship congratulated him on his return to town, lamented the serious loss the beau-monde had sustained by his absence, and smiling archly at his young friend, was happy to find he had not returned empty-handed, but with a recruit, whose appearance promised a valuable accession to their select circle. When fine, it draws out as many insects as a hot sun and a shower of rain can produce in the middle of June. The vulgar plebeians flock so, that you can scarcely get into your barouche without being hustled by the men-milliners, linen-drapers, and shop-boys, who  have been serving you all the previous part of the week; and wet, or dry, there's no bearing it.
What impudence! What will the world come to!
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I really have not common patience with these creatures. I have long since left off going to the play on a Saturday night, because, independently of my preference for the Opera, these insects from Cornhill or Whitechapel, shut up their shops, cheat their masters, and commence their airs of importance about nine o'clock. Then again you have the same party crowding the Park on a Sunday; but on the following day, return, like school boys, to their work, and you see them with their pen behind their ear, calculating how to make up for their late extravagances, pestering you with lies, and urging you to buy twice as much as you want, then officiously offering their arm at your carriage-door.
He thrust his horse's head into the carriage, rather abruptly and indecorously, as one not accustomed to the haut-ton might suppose but it gave no offence. He smiled affectedly, adjusted his hat, pulled a lock of hair across his forehead, with a view of shewing the whiteness of the latter, and next, that the glossiness of the former must have owed its lustre to at least two hours brushing, arranging, and perfuming; used his quizzing-glass, and took snuff with a flourish. Lady Townley condescended to caress the horse, and to display her lovely white arm ungloved, with which she patted the horse's neck, and drew a hundred admiring eyes.
The exquisite all this time brushed the animal gently with a highly-scented silk handkerchief, after which he displayed a cambric one, and went through a thousand little playful airs and affectations, which Bob thought would have suited a fine lady better than a lieutenant in his Majesty's brigade of guards. Applying the lines of an inimitable satire, The Age of Frivolity to the figure before him, he concluded:. Although he talked a great deal, the whole amount of his discourse was to inform her Ladyship that Stilletto meaning his horse, who in truth appeared to possess more fire and spirit than his rider could either boast of or command, had cost him only guineas, and was prime blood ; that the horse his groom rode, was nothing but a good one , and had run at the Craven—that he had been prodigiously fortunate that season on the turf—that he was a bold rider, and could not bear himself without a fine high spirited animal—and, that being engaged to dine at  three places that day, he was desperately at a loss to know how he should act; but that if her Ladyship dined at any one of the three, he would certainly join that party, and cut the other two.
Tower of London
Tom, my dear fellow,—why where the devil have you hid yourself of late? Marvellous now drew up close to the party. I must tell you about the trial, and Lady Barbara's mortification, and about poor Mr.
With this brief, but at the same time comprehensive introduction, she lacerated the reputation of almost all her acquaintance, and excited great attention from the party, which had been joined by several during her truly interesting intelligence. Every other topic in a moment gave way to this delightful amusement, and each with volubility contributed his or her share to the general stock of slander. Scandal is at all times the sauce piquante that currys incident in every situation; and where is the fashionable circle that can sit down to table without made dishes?
A circle represents
Our heroes now took leave, and proceeded through the Park. She has been such as she now appears to be for these last five and twenty years; her figure as you see, rather en-bon point, is friendly to the ravages of time, and every lineament of age is artfully filled up by an expert fille de chambre, whose time has been employed at the toilette of a celebrated devotee in Paris. She drives through the Park as a matter of course, merely to furnish an opportunity for saying that she has been there: but the more important business of the morning will be transacted  at her boudoir, in the King's Road, where every luxury is provided to influence the senses; and where, by daily appointment, she is expected to meet a sturdy gallant.
She is a perfect Messalina in her enjoyments; but her rank in society protects her from sustaining any injury by her sentimental wanderings. Her understanding was ready, and at his death, which happened, luckily for her, before satiety had extinguished appetite, she was left with an annuity of twelve hundred pounds—improved beauty—superficial accomplishments—and an immoderate share of caprice, insolence, and vanity. As a proof of this, I must tell you that at an elegant entertainment lately given by this dashing cyprian, she demolished a desert service of glass and china that cost five hundred guineas, in a fit of passionate ill-humour; and when her paramour intreated her to be more composed, she became indignant—called for her writing-desk in a rage—committed a settlement of four hundred a year, which he had made but a short time previously, to the flames, and asked him, with, a self-important air, whether he dared to suppose that paltry parchment gave him an authority to direct her actions?
In his private character, as father, husband, friend, and polished gentleman, he has very few equals—no superior. His political career has been eventful, and perhaps has cost him more, both in pocket and person, than any Member of Parliament now existing. He took his seat in the House of Commons at an early age, and first rendered himself popular by his strenuous opposition to a bill purporting to regulate the publication of newspapers. The uniformly bold and energetic language made use of by the honourable Baronet upon that occasion, breathed the true spirit of British liberty.
He reprobated the unconstitutional measure of erecting what he termed a Bastile in the very heart of a free country, as one that could neither have its foundation in national policy, nor eventually be productive of private good. He remarked that prisons, at which private punishments, cruel as they were illegal, were exercised, at the mercy of an unprincipled gaoler—cells in which human beings were exposed to the horrors of heart-sickening solitude, and depressed in spirit by their restriction to a scanty and exclusive allowance of bread and water, were not only incompatible with the spirit of the constitution, but were likely to prove injurious to the spirit of the  people of this happy country; for as Goldsmith admirably remarks,.
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I promise you here that I will persevere to the last in unmasking this wanton abuse of justice and humanity. James's-street, Newmarket, or elsewhere. He labours in the vineyard of utility rather than in the more luxuriant garden of folly; and, according to general conception, may emphatically be called an honest man. They dashed through the Park, not however without being saluted by many of his fashionable friends, who rejoiced to see that the Honourable Tom Dashall was again to be numbered among the votaries of Real Life in London; while the young squire, whose visionary orbs appeared to be in perpetual motion, dazzled with the splendid equipages of the moving panorama, was absorbed in reflections somewhat similar to the following:.
Tom Dashall, and his enraptured cousin, reached the habitation of the former, who had taken care to dispatch a groom, apprizing Mrs. Watson, the house-keeper, of his intention to be at home by half past six to dinner; consequently all was prepared for their reception. The style of elegance in which Tom appeared to move, struck Tallyho at once with delight and astonishment, as they entered the drawing-room; which was superbly and tastefully fitted up, and commanded a cheerful view of Piccadilly.
Some particulars of him are worth knowing. He was early introduced into life, and often kept both good and bad company, associating with men and women of every description and of every rank, from the highest to the lowest—from St. James's to St. Giles's, in palaces and night-cellars—from the drawing-room to the dust-cart. He can drink, swear, tell stories, cudgel, box, and smoke with any one; having by his intercourse with society fitted himself for all companies.
His education has been more practical than theoretical, though he was brought up at Eton, where, notwithstanding he made considerable progress in his studies, he took such an aversion to Greek that he never would learn it. Previous to his arrival at his present title, he used to be called Honest George, and so unalterable is his nature, that to this hour he likes it, and it fits him better than his title.
But he has often been sadly put to his shifts under various circumstances: he was a courtier, but was too honest for that; he tried gaming, but he was too honest for that; he got into prison, and might have wiped off, but he was too honest for that; he got into the coal trade, but he found it a black business, and he was too honest for that. At drawing the long bow, so much perhaps cannot be said—but that you know is habit, not principle; his courage is undoubted, having fought three duels before he was twenty years of age.
Being disappointed in his hope of promotion in the army, he resolved, in spite of the remonstrances of his  friends, to quit the guards, and solicited an appointment in one of the Hessian corps, at that time raising for the British service in America, where the war of the revolution was then commencing, and obtained from the Landgrave of Hesse a captain's commission in his corps of Jagers.