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LONDON [Vol. II]
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"BOOZING-KEN" ONCE MORE.
must now direct our readers' attention for a short space to the parlour of the
Boozing-Ken on Saffron Hill.
It was nine o'clock in the evening; and, as usual, a
motley company was assembled in that place.
A dozen persons, men and women, were drinking the vile
compounds which the landlord dispensed as "Fine Cordial Gin,"
"Treble X Ale," "Real Jamaica Rum," " Best Cognac
Brandy," and "Noted Stout."
At one of the tables sate the Buffer, smoking a long
clay pipe, and from time to time paying his respects to a pot of porter which
stood before him. He occasionally glanced towards the clock as if he were
expecting some one; and then an impatient but subdued curse rose to his lips,
proving that the individual for whom he waited was behind his time.
"Well, as I was saying," exclaimed an old
shabbily-dressed and dissipated looking man, who sate near the fire, "it's
a burning shame to make people pay so dear for such liquor as this;" and
he made a quart-pot, which he held in his hand, describe sundry diminutive
circles, in order to shake up the liquor whereat he gazed with disgust.
" Why do you drink it, then, friend Swiggs?"
demanded the Buffer, in a surly tone. "You was once a licensed witler
yourself: and I'll be bound no one ever doctored his lush more than you
"Of course I did!" ejaculated the old man.
"The publican can't live without it. Look how he's taxed look
how the police preys upon him look at the restrictions as to hours
that he's subject to. I tell you the publican must adulterate his
liquor aye, even the most honest. But I don't like to drink it
so, none the more for all that. Besides, this beer is so preciously done up,
that one does not know whether there's most cocculus indicus or most
tobacco-juice in it."
"What's cocculus indicus!" asked the Buffer.
"An Indian berry of so poisonous a nature,"
was the reply, "that the natives throw it into the ponds to render the fish
insensible and make them float on the surface, when of course they're easily
caught. That will show you the strength of it ha! ha!"
And the old man chuckled with a sort of malignant
triumph, as be recalled to mind his own practices when he was to business, and
ere dissipation ruined him.
"Oh! I have the Vintners' Guides all by
heart, I can assure you," continued Swiggs; "and now that I'm out of
the business, and never likely to be in it again, I don't mind telling you a
secret or two. Let us begin with the beer. In the first place the brewer
adulterates it, to save his malt and hops; and then the publican adulterates it,
to increase its quantity. His business is to make one butt of beer into
two aye, and sometimes three. Ha! ha! Now, how do you think he
does it? He first deluges it with water: than, of course, it's so weak and flat
that no one could possibly drink it. It wants alcohol, or spirit in it; it wants
the bitter flavour; it wants pungency; it wants age; and it wants froth All
these are supplied by means of adulteration. Cocculus indicus, henbane, opium,
and Bohemian rosemary are used instead of alcohol: these are all poisons; and
the Bohemian rosemary is of so deadly a nature, that a small sprig produces a
raving intoxication. Ha! ha! that's good so far! Then aloes, quassia, wormwood,
and gentian supply the place of hops, and give bitterness to the hell-broth.
Ginger, cassia-buds, and capsicum, produce pungency. Treacle, tobacco-juice, and
burnt sugar give it colour. Oil of vitriol not only makes it transparent, but
also imparts to it the taste of age; so that a butt so doctored immediately
seems to be two years old. I needn't tell you what sort of a poison oil of
vitriol is: I don't want to suggest the means of suicide ha! ha!
But when the brew has gone so far, it wants the heading that
froth, you know, which you all fancy to be a proof of good beer. Alum, copperas,
and salt of tartar will raise you as nice a heading as ever you'd wish to dip
your lips in."
"You don't mean to say all that's true, Swiggs?"
exclaimed the Buffer; " for though I ain't partickler, I don't think I
shall ever like porter again."
"True!" ejaculated the old man,
contemptuously: "it's as true as you're sitting there! But there's a dozen
other ingredients that go into the [-139-] stuff
you lap up so pleasantly, and pay for as beer. What do you think of
extract of poppies, coriander, nux vomica, black extract, Leghorn juice, and
bitter beans? But all these names are Greek to you. They ain't to the publicans,
though ha! ha! Why, half the poor people that go to lunatic
asylums, are sent there by the poison called beer."
"What have you got to say agin blue ruin, old
feller!" demanded the Knacker, who was regaling himself with a glass of
"Blue ruin gin!" cried the old
man. "Ah! I can tell you something about that too. Oil of vitriol is the
chief ingredient: it has the pungency and smell of gin. When you take the cork
out of a bottle of pure gin, it will never make your eyes water: but the
oil of vitriol will. Ha! ha! there's a test for you. Try it! Oil of
turpentine, sulphuric ζther, and oil of almonds are used to conceal the vitriol
in the made-up gin. What is called Fine Cordial Gin is the most
adulterated of all: it is concocted expressly for dram-drinkers ha!
"Rum, I should think, is the best of all the
spirits," said the Buffer.
"Because you like it best, perhaps!" exclaimed
the old man. "Ha! ha! you don't know that the Fine Jamaica Rum is
nothing else but the vile low-priced Leeward Island rum, which is in itself a
stomach-burning fire-water of the deadliest quality, and which is mixed by the
publican with cherry-laurel water and devil."
"What's devil?" asked the Knacker.
"Aye, what is it, indeed? It's nothing but chilie
pods infused in oil of vitriol that's all! But now for Best
Cognac Brandy," continued the old man. "Do you think the brandy
sold under that name ever saw France ever crossed the sea? Not it!
Aqua ammonia, saffron, mace, extract of almond cake, cherry-laurel water, devil,
terra japonica, and spirits of nitre, make up the brandy when the British spirit
has been well deluged with water. That's your brandy! Ha! ha!"
"What a precious old sinner you must be, Swiggs,"
said one of the company, "if you used to make up such poisons as you're now
"Dare say I was-dare say I was," observed the
old man, composedly. "Nearly every publican does the same, I tell you.
Those who don't, go into the Gazette that's all. Ha! ha!
But if the poor are cheated and poisoned in that way, how do you think the
middle classes and rich ones are served? Shall I tell you any thing about
"Yes do," cried several voices.
"Let's hear how the swell cove is served out."
"Well, I'll tell you that too," continued the
old man. "There's hundreds of Wine-Guides that contain instructions for the
merchants, and vintners, and publicans. Take a bottle of cheap Port wine, and
get a chemist to analyse it: he'll tell you it contains three ounces of spirits
of wine, fourteen ounces of cyder, one ounce and a half of sugar, two scruples
of alum, one scruple of tartaric acid, and four ounces of strong decoction of
logwood. That's the way I used to make my Port wine. Not a drop not
a single drop of the juice of the grape. Ha! ha! Families bought it
wholesale-three-and-sixpence the bottle-rank poison! Ha! ha! Nearly all
fictitious wines possess too high a colour particularly sherry:
the way to make such wine pale is to put a quart of warm sheeps' blood in the
butt, and, when it's quite fine, to draw it off. I always did that but
I didn't tell the families so, though! Which do you think is the greatest cheat
of all the cheap wines! the Cape. The publicans sell it at
eighteen-pence and two shillings. Why it's nothing more than the
drippings from the casks, the filterings of the lees, and all the spoiled white
wines that happen to be in the cellar, mixed together with rum-cowe and cyder,
and fined with sheep's blood."
"I'm glad to hear the rich is humbugged as well as
the poor," observed the Knacker: "that's a consolation, at any
"So it is," said a cat's-meat man, nodding his
"Humbugged!" ejaculated Swiggs, triumphantly:
"I b'lieve you! I'll tell you how two-thirds of all the Port wine drunk in
the United Kingdom is made: Take four gallons of cyder, two quarts
of the juice of red beet-root, two quarts of brandy, four ounces of logwood,
half a pound of bruised rhatany root, and one ounce of alum: first infuse the
log-wood and rhatany root in the brandy and a gallon of the cyder for ten days;
then strain off the liquor and mix all the other ingredients with it; put it
into a cask, keep it for a month, and it will be fit to bottle. Not a drop of
grape-juice there. Ha! ha! If the colour isn't quite right, an infusion of
raspings of red sandars wood in spirits of wine will soon give it a beautiful
red complexion. But then the bees'-wing. Ha! the bees'-wing eh! A
saturated solution of cream of tartar, coloured with Brazil-wood or cochineal,
will give the best crust and bees'-wing you can imagine. There's for you! Port
made in a month or six weeks can be passed off for wine ten or a dozen years
old. The corks can easily be stained to indicate age and who's to
discover the cheat? Nobody but the chemist-ha! ha!"
"Well, I've learnt someot to-night," said the
"Learnt something! You know nothing about it
yet," cried the old man, who was on his favourite topic. "You don't
know what poison rank poison there is in all these
cheap wines; aye, and in the dear ones too, for that matter. Sugar
of lead is a chief ingredient! I needn't tell you that sugar of lead is a deadly
poison: any fool knows that Sal enixum and slaked lime are used to clear muddy
wine; and litharge gives a sweet taste to wines that are too acid. Bitter
almonds imparts to port a nutty flavour; cherry-laurel water gives it a bouquet;
and tincture of raisin seeds endows it with a grapy taste which it
hasn't got and can't have otherwise. But I've told you enough for to-night. And
now I dare say you wonder why I drink beer or spirits at all! Because I am old
and miserable; because I am poor and wretched; because I must kill care somehow
or another; and therefore I take daily doses of those slow poisons."
With these words the old man rose, and shuffled out of
His denunciation of the abominable system of doctoring
wines, spirits, and malt liquors produced a gloomy effect upon the company whom
he left behind. The Buffer glanced often and often towards the clock: the time
was passing rapidly; and yet the person for whom he was waiting came not.
"Who'll tip us a song?" said the Knacker,
"There's Jovial Jenkins up in the corner
there," exclaimed the cat's-meat man. "He's the chap for a song."
'Well, I don't mind, pals," cried a diminutive
specimen of the male sex, dressed in a suit of clothes every way too large for
him. "What shall I sing yer? Oh! I s'pose it must be the favourite eh?
Come here goes, then."
And in another minute the parlour of the boozing-ken
reverberated with the intonations of the following strange song
THE MAN OF MANY PURSUITS.*
Come, lip us a chant, pals! Why thus mum your dubber?
My gropus clink coppers, and I'll fake the rubber:
Here's a noggin of lightning to slacken your glib;
Then pass round the lush, and cease napping the bib.
T'othEr night we'd a precious rum squeeze at the Spell,
And, togg'd as a yokel, I used my forks well;
From a Rum-Tom-Pat's kickseys I knapp'd a green twitch,
And nearly got off the gold gums from his snitch.
But a swell with hock-dockeys and silken gain-eases,
Put the parish prig up to the rig of such places;
So, finding the nib-cove was chanting the play,
I-shov'd my trunk nimbly and got clean away.
As a jolly gay tyke-boy I sometimes appear,
And chirp for the curs that are spelt in the leer;
Or as a leg-glazier, with fadger and squibs,
I work my way into the nibaomest cribs.
But when on these dodges the blue-bottles blow,
As a flue-flaker togg'd then at day-break I show:
And though from the slavey I get but a flag,
I can fly the blue-pigeon and thus bank the rag.
Sometimes as a mabber I dose the swell fred;
Or else as a vamper I mill for a ned;
And as soon as my man is tripp'd up by the gams,
A pal knaps his ticker, or frisks off his flamms.
But the life that I love is in Swell-street to shine,
With a Mounseer-fak'd calp, and my strummel all fine,
Heater-cases well polish'd, and lully so white,
And an upper ben fitting me jaunty and tight.
Then with nice silk rain-napper, or gold headed dick,
I plunge neck and heels into sweet river-tick,
And if in a box of the stone-jug I get,
Though hobbled for macing, 'twill prove but a debt.
Then lip us a chant, pals! Why thus mum your dubber?
My gropus clinks coppers, and I'll fake the rubber:
A noggin of lightning will slacken our glib;
So pass round the lush, and let none nap the bib.
"Brayvo, Jovial Jen!" shouted the inmates of
the boozing-ken parlour.
"You're the prince of good fellers at a
spree," said the Knacker: "and I'll stand a quartern of blue ruin and
two outs, in spite o' what old Swiggs said of the lush."
The promised treat was called, paid for, and disposed
Scarcely had the applause, which greeted this song,
terminated, when the door opened, and Lafleur, Mr. Greenwood's French valet,
entered the room.
He was disguised in a large rough coat and slouched hat;
but the Buffer immediately recognised his countenance, and hurried to meet him.
"You're late," said the Buffer, in a tow tone.
"Yes I could not come before,"
answered the valet. "But I knew that you would wait for me, as I told you
yesterday that the business was important." [-141-]
"Well, we can 't talk here," observed the
"There's a snug room up-stairs devoted to them
that's got private business: and I'll show you the on way."
The Buffer left the parlour, followed by Lafleur, whom
he conducted to a private apartment on the first floor. A bottle of wine was
ordered; and when the waiter had withdrawn, the Buffer made a sign for his
companion to explain the object of the interview.
"You know very well that I am in the service of Mr.
Greenwood, the Member of Parliament?" began Lafleur.
"Yes me and two pals once did a
little job for him on the Richmond road," answered the Buffer.
"You mean the affair of the robbery of Count
Alteroni?" said Lafleur.
"Well I do, since you know it. Does
your master tell you all his secrets?" demanded the Buffer.
"No no," was the reply; and the
Frenchman gave a sly laugh. "But he can't very well prevent me listening at
the door of his room, when he's engaged with people on particular business. I
know enough to ruin him for ever."
"So much the better for you. There's nothing like
being deep in one's master's secrets: it gives you a hold on him."
"Let us talk of the present business," said
Lafleur. "Are you the man to do a small robbery on the Dover road, as
skilfully as you helped to do it on the Richmond road?"
"I'm the man to do any thing for fair reglars"
answered the Buffer. "Go on."
"I will explain myself in a few words,"
continued Lafleur. "By dint of listening at doors and looking over my
master's papers when he was out, I have made a grand discovery. To-morrow
evening Greenwood leaves town in a post-chaise and four for Dover. It seems that
he has embarked in some splendid speculation with a house in Paris, and the
success of it depends on influencing the rates of exchange between English and
French money. He will take with him twenty thousand pounds in gold and Bank of
England notes to effect this purpose."
"Never mind the rigmarole of the reasons,"
said the Buffer; "for I don't understand them no more than the Queen does
the papers she signs, they say, by dozens and dozens at a sitting."
"It is sufficent, then, for you to know that
Mr. Greenwood will leave London to-morrow evening on with twenty thousand
pounds, in a post-chaise," proceeded Lafleur. "His Italian valet and
myself are to accompany him; and we are all to be well armed."
"What sort of a feller is your Italian wally?"
demanded the Buffer.
"Not one of our sort," replied Lafleur;
"he will do his duty to his master, although I don't think he has any very
great love for him."
"Greenwood believes you to be stanch also, s'pose?"
"Of course he does. I shall have to see that his
master's pistols are in proper order, and place them in the chaise; but the
Italian will take care of his own. There will, consequently, only be one pair
loaded with ball."
"I understand you," said the Buffer.
"Still that one pair of pistols may send two good chaps to Davy
"Risk nothing, get nothing," observed Lafleur.
"The chances are that Filippo and I shall ride together on the dickey: if
so, the moment the horses are stopped, I shall have nothing more or less to do
than turn suddenly on Filippo and prevent him from doing any mischief."
"So far, so good," said the Buffer. "But
I ought to have at least three pals with me. Remember, there's two postillions;
Greenwood himself won't part with his tin without a struggle; and Filippo, as as
you call him, might master you."
"Can you get three men as resolute as yourself to
accompany you?" asked Lafleur.
"The notice is so deuced short," returned the
Buffer; "but I think I can reckon on two. Long Bob and the Lully
Prig," he added, in a musing tone, "are certain to jine in."
"Three of you will scarcely be sufficient,"
said Lafleur. "Only think of the sum that's at stake: we mustn't risk the
loss of it by any want of precaution on our parts."
Well I must see," cried the Buffer.
"It isn't that I don't know many chaps in my line; but the thing is to get
one that we're sure on that won't peach either afore or arterwards.
Ah! I lost my best pal in Tony Tidkins poor feller!"
"The Resurrection Man, you mean?" said Lafleur.
"The same. Greenwood was a good patron of his'n,"
observed the Buffer; "but that wouldn't have perwented him from jining in
along with me."
"I remember that Greenwood wanted Tidkins for some
business or another nearly a year ago," said the French valet; "and he
sent me with a note to him at this very place. He did not, however, come; but I
called here a few days afterwards, and heard that he had received the
"That was just about the time poor Tidkins was
desperately wounded by Crankey Jem," said the Buffer, rather speaking to
himself than to his companion; "and circumstances forced him to keep deuced
close arterwards. But that's neither here nor there: let's talk on our own
business. Leave me to get a proper number of pals; and now answer me a question
or two. At what time does Greenwood intend to start?"
"At seven o'clock. He means to get to Dover so as
to have a few hours' sleep before the packet leaves for Calais."
"Then the business mustn't be done this side of
Chatham," said the Buffer: "it would be too early. There's a nice
lonely part of the road, I remember, between Newington and Sittingbourne, with a
chalk-pit near, where we can divide the swag, and each toddle off in different
directions arterwards. The chaise will reach that place about ten. Now, one more
question: where will the blunt be stowed away?"
"Under the seat inside, no doubt," answered
Lafleur. "Then I may consider the business agreed upon between us?"
"As good as done, almost," said the Buffer.
At this moment the conversation was interrupted by a
knock at the door.
The waiter entered, and whispered something to the
"By God, how fortunate!" ejaculated this
individual, his countenance suddenly assuming an expression of the most
unfeigned joy. "Show him up this minute!"
[-142-] The waiter disappeared.
"Who is it?" demanded Lafleur.
"The very person we are in want of! He has turned
up again: that feller has as many lives as a cat."
"But who is it!" repeated Lafleur impatiently.
Before the Buffer could answer the question, the door was thrown open, and the
Resurrection Man entered the room.
order to avoid breaking the sense of this song by a constant repetition of those
typographical signs which point a reference to foot-notes, we have deemed it
best to give a complete glossary:-
Lip us a chant. Sing us a song.
Mum your dubber. Keep your mouth shut.
My gropus clinics coppers. My pocket has got
money in it.
Fake the rubber. Stand treat this time.
Noggin of lightning. Quartern of gin.
Slacken your glib. Loosen your tongue.
Cease napping the bib. Leave off whining.
Precious-rum squeeze at the Spell. Good evening's
work at the theatre.
Twitch. Silk net purse.
Parish prig. Parson.
Chanting the play. Explaining the tricks and manuvres
Shov'd my trunk Moved off.
Chirp. Give information.
Spelt in the leer. Advertised in the newspaper.
Leg-glazier. A thief who carries the apparatus of
a glazier, and calls at houses when he knows the master and mistress are out,
telling the servant that he has been sent to clean and mend the windows. By
these means he obtains admission, and plunders the house of any thing which he
can conveniently carry off.
Fedger. Glazier's frame.
Squibs. Paint brushes
Nibsomest cribs. Best houses.
Slavey. Female servant.
Fly the blue-pigeon. Cut the lead off the roof.
Bank the rag. Make some money.
Dose the swell fred. Inveigle the fare into a
public-house and hocus him.
Vamper. A fellow who frequents public-houses,
where he picks a quarrel with any person he has got a ring or a watch about him,
his object being to lead the person into a pugilistic encounter, so as to afford
the vamper's confederate, or pal, the opportunity of robbing him.
Mill for a ned. Fight for a sovereign.
Swell-street. The West End.
Mounseer-fak'd calp. A hat of French manufacture.
Heater-cases. Wellington boots.
Upper ben. Coat.
Gold-headed dick. Riding-whip.
River-tick. Tradesmen's books.
Box of the stone-jug. Cell in Newgate.
Hobbled. Committed for trial.
'Twill prove but a debt. Swindlers of this class
usually arrange their business in such a manner as to escape conviction on the
plea that the business is a mere matter of debt. In order to induce the jury to
come to this decision, recourse is had to the assistance of pals, who depose to
conversations which they pretended to overhear between the prosecuting tradesman
and the swindling prisoner, but which in reality never took
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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