The mob hitherto had been passive spectators of the scene, but as the intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread among them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity the propriety of enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition: and there is no saying what acts of personal aggression they might have committed, had not the affray
been unexpectedly terminated by the interposition of a new-comer.
Gang conflicts provided a systematic means for young men to prove themselves against their peers, and affrays were invested with great significance by the participants.
Moreover, scuttling affrays were characterised by the widespread use of weapons.
I have only been able to trace five fatalities inflicted by gang members during the period from 1870 to 1900.(24) Nonetheless, scuttlers appear to have carried weapons as a matter of course, and by the late 1880s, knives were increasingly used in affrays to inflict wounds (usually to the body) which required hospital treatment.(25) However, scuttlers' customary weapons were thick leather belts with heavy brass buckles.
Public displays of aggression and acts of violence in affrays between rival gangs allowed those on the brink of adulthood to derive considerable status, and to imagine themselves as "hard" men.
The vast majority of affrays reported by the local press, however, took the form of full "scuttles".