Victorian London - Entertainment - Freak-shows - East End shows (2)

    But, speaking of shops, we must not omit some mention of one certainly peculiar in its appearance, and totally distinct from the many which surround it. It is a dingy, sinister- looking shop, at the corner of Ship-alley, bearing the ambitious name of the "British and Foreign Medicine Institution;" and its proprietor, a tall, white-haired man, clad in a loose-coloured dressing-gown, such as Nicholas Flamel or Cornelius Agrippa might have worn without loss of reputation, rejoices in the rather ominous title of Dr. Graves. Our business, however, is with the window and its collection of horrors, before which Jack stands aghast, his bronzed face changing to the pallor of ashes. Wax models of terrible diseases, "rarely to be met with," says the card attached. We think so too-very rarely, and only then, we trust, in the nightmare-like imagination of Dr. Graves himself. Bottled babbies in plenty; children with two heads-who, if we are to believe in time assertion that "two are better than one," must have been invaluable to their parents. Here is a small serpent, taken from the body of a sailor; and here the skeleton of a small sailor, taken from the body of a serpent - with other horrors, too numerous to mention. Sick at heart, we turn away, and seek amusement and instruction elsewhere.

Watts Phillips, The Wild Tribes of London, 1855