Doré, Roupell Street and Shifting Values

In 1869, French artist Gustave Doré, along with the British journalist Blanchard Jerrold, produced a landmark account of the deprivation and squalor of mid-Victorian London. Doré’s sketches, using dramatic variations in light, famously showed the cramped places that the poor had to inhabit, among the noisy and polluting railways and factories.

The street depicted is almost certainly Roupell Street in Waterloo, now part of Lambeth. I looked up the street’s property prices. The most recently sold, Number 55, went for a staggering £1,395,000 in the September of last year. Houses which were considered slums in the 1860s are now the preserve of millionaires. Doubtless, they’ve enjoyed a few licks of paint, and the filthy factories are all gone, but it’s still remarkable that so great a transformation should have taken place.  

Things previously despised are later articles of great value. There are persecuted believers languishing in prison cells right now in many countries of the world. There is no-one to speak up for them; their lives are cheap and their cries ignored. One day, they shall be revealed as galactic royalty whom angels will behold in awe. Similarly, virtues such as patience, compassion, forgiveness and meekness, though scorned by the world, will one day be reckoned as more precious than gold.