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[-188-]  

CHAPTER LXI.

THE "BOOZING KEN" ONCE MORE.

MORNING dawned upon the great metropolis.
    The landlord and landlady of the "Boozing-Ken" on Saffron Hill were busily employed, as we have seen them upon a former occasion, in dispensing glasses of all sorts to their numerous customers. The bar was surrounded by every thing the most revolting, the most hideous, and the most repulsive in human shape.
    "Well, Joe," said the landlord to a man dressed like a butcher, and whose clothes emitted a greasy and carrion-like smell, " what news down at Cow Cross?"
    "Nothink partikler," answered the man, who followed the pleasant and agreeable calling of a journeyman-knacker. "We have been precious full of work lately - and that's all I knows or cares about. Seventy-nine horses I see knocked down yesterday; and out of them, fifty-three was so awful diseased and glandered when they was brought in, that we was obleeged to kill 'em and cut em up with masks and gloves on. It was but three weeks ago that we lost our best man, Ben Biddle ;- you recollects Ben Biddle?"
    "I knowed him well," said the landlord. "He took his 'morning' here reglar for sixteen years, and never owed a penny."
    "But do you know how he died? " demanded the knacker, staring the landlord significantly in the face.
    "Can't say that I do."
    "He died of a fearful disease which is getting more and more amongst human creeturs every day," continued the knacker :-" he died of the glanders!"
    "The glanders!" ejaculated the landlady, with a shudder; and all the persons who were taking their "morning" at the bar crowded around the knacker to hear the particulars of Ben Biddle's death.
    "You see," resumed the knacker, now putting on a very solemn and important air, " there is more diseased horses sold in Smithfield-Market than sound [word missing, ed.]. The art of doctoring a dying horse so that he looks as lively and sound as possible to any one which ain't wery knowing in them matters, is come to sich a pitch, that I m blowed if the wisest ain't taken in at times. We have horses come into our yard that was bought the same morning in Smithfield, and seemed slap-up animals; but in a few hours the effects of the stimulants given to 'em goes off, the plugs falls out of their noses, and there they are at the point of death. Why - if a horse has got four white feet, they'll paint three, or perhaps all on 'em black; and that part of the deception isn't never found out till they're flayed in our yard."
    "But about poor Biddle?" said the landlord.
    "Well, in comes a horse one day," continued the knacker; "and although we saw he was dead lame and altogether done up, we never suspected that he had the glanders. So Ben Biddle had the killing on him. He drives the pole-axe into the animal's skull; and he takes the wire and thrusts it into the brain as business-like as possible. While he was stooping over the beast, his hat falls off his head, and his handkerchief, which he always carried in his hat, fell just upon the horse's mouth. The brute snorted out a last groan at the wery moment that Ben picks up his handkerchief. So Ben puts the handkerchief again into his hat, and puts his hat upon his head; and away we all goes to the public-house to have a drop of half-and-half."
    "Very right too," said the landlord, who no doubt spoke feelingly.
    "Well," proceeded the knacker, " Ben drinks his share, and presently he takes his handkerchief out of his hat quite permiscuous like, and wipes his face. In a few minutes he feels a strange pain in the eyes just as if some dust had got in ;- but he did'nt think much on it, and so we all goes back to the yard. In a few hours Ben was taken so bad he was obliged to give up work ; and by eight or nine o'clock we was forced to take him to Bartholomew's Hospital. He was seized with dreadful fits of womiting; and matter come out of his nose, eyes, and mouth. By the morning his face was all covered over with sores; holes appeared in his eyes, just for all the world as if they had got a most tremendous small-pox in 'em; and his nose fell off. By three o'clock in the arternoon he was a dead man; and I heard say that he died in the most awful agonies."
    "And that was the glanders?" said the landlady.
    "Yes he got 'em by wiping his face with the pocket-handkerchief that had fallen on the horse's nostrils."
    "How shocking!" ejaculated several voices.
    "And is the glanders increasing?" asked the landlord.
    "The glanders is increasing," answered the knacker; "and I feel convinced that it will soon become a disease as reglar amongst human beings as the small-pox or measles; 'cos the authorities doesn't do their duty in preventing the sale of diseased animals."
    "And how would you remedy the evil?"
    "I would have the Lord Mayor and Corporation appoint a proper veterinary surgeon as Inspector in Smithfield Market - a man of great experience and knowledge, who wont let himself be humbugged or gammoned by any of those infernal thieves that gets a living - aye, and makes fortunes too, by selling diseased animals doctored up for the occasion."
    "Yes - that's certainly a capital plan of your'n," said the landlord approvingly. "But what becomes of all the flesh of the horses that go to your yards?"
    [-189-] "You may divide the horses that's killed by the knackers into three sorts," answered the man: "that is - first, those horses that is quite healthy but that has met with accidents in their limbs; second, those that is perhaps the least thing diseased, or in the very last stage through old age; and third, those that is altogether rotten. The flesh of the first is bought by men whose business it is to boil it carefully, and sell it to the sassage-makers: it makes the sassages firm, and is much better than beef. There isn't a sassage shop in London that don't use it. Then the tongues of these first-rate animals goes to the butchers, who salts and pickles 'em; and I'm blow'd if any one could tell 'em from the best ox- tongues."
    "Well, I'll never eat sassages or tongues again!" cried the landlady.
    "Oh! nonsense - it's all fancy!" exclaimed the knacker. "Half the tongues that is sold for ox-tongues is horses' tongues. A knowing hand may always tell 'em, cos they're rayther longer and thinner: for my part, I like em 'just as well - every bit."
    "And the flesh of the second sort of horses?"
    "That goes to supply the cat's-meat men in the swell neighbourhoods; and the third sort, that is altogether putrid and rotten, is taken up by the cat's-meat men in the poor neighbourhoods."
    "And do you mean to say that there a a difference even in cat's-meat between the rich and the poor customers?" demanded the landlord.
    "Do I mean to say so?" repeated the knacker, in a tone which showed that he was surprised at the question being asked: "why, of course I do! The poor may be pisoned - and very often is too - for what the rich cares a fig. I can tell you more too: some of the first class horses'-meat - the sound and good, remember  -is made into what a called hung-beef; some is potted; some is sold to the boarding-schools round London, where they takes in young gen'lemen and ladies at a wery low rate; and some is disposed of - but, no - I don't dare tell you —"
    "Yes - do tell us!" said the landlady, in a coaxing tone.
    "Do - there's a good fellow," cried the landlord.
    "Come, tell us," exclaimed a dozen voices.
    "No - no - I can't - I should get myself into a scrape, perhaps," said the knacker, who was only putting a more keen edge upon the curiosity which he had excited, for he intended to yield all the time.
    "We won't say a word," observed the landlady.
    "And I'll stand a quartern of blue ruin," added the landlord, "with three outs - for you, me, and the missus."
    "Well - if I must, I must," said the knacker, with affected reluctance. "The fact is,2 he continued slowly, as if he were weighing every word he uttered, "some of the primest bits of the first-rate flesh that goes out of the knackers' yards of this wast metropolis is sent to the workuses!"
    "The workhouses!" ejaculated the landlady: "oh, what a horror!"
    "An abomination!" cried the landlord, filling three wine-glasses with gin.
    "It is God's truth - and now that I've said it, I II stick to it," said the knacker.
    "It a a shame - a burning shame! " screamed a female voice. "My poor old mother's in the Union, after having paid rates and taxes for forty-two year; and if they make her eat horse's-flesh, I d like to know whether this country is governed by savages or not."
    "And my brother's in a workus too," said a poor decrepit old man; "and he once kept his carriage and dined in company with George the Third at Guildhall, where he'd no end of turtle and venison. But, lack-a-daisy! this is a sad falling off, it he's to come down to horse-flesh in his old age."
    "What a the use of all this here whining and nonsense, oh?" exclaimed the knacker. "Don't I tell you that good horse-flesh answers all the purposes of beef, and is eaten by the rich in the shape of sassages and tongues? What a the use, then, of making a fuss about it? How do you suppose the sassage-shops can afford to sell solid meat, without bone, at the price they do, if they didn't mix it with horses'-flesh? They pays two-pence a-pound for the first-class flesh - and so it must be good."
    Never mind," ejaculated a voice: "it's a shame to give paupers only a few ounces of meat a-week, and let that be horses'-flesh. It's high time these things was put an end to. Why don't the people take their own affairs in their own hands?"
    "Come, now," said the knacker, assuming a dictatorial air, and placing his arms akimbo; "perhaps you ain't aweer that good first-class horses'-flesh is better than half the meat that is sold in certain markets - I shan't say which - for the benefit of the poor. Now you toddle out on Sunday night, on the Holloway, Liverpool, Mile End, and Hackney roads, and see the sheep, and oxen, and calves, coming into London for the next morning's market. Numbers of the poor beasts fall down and die through sheer fatigue. They're flayed and cut up all the same for the butcher's market. And what do you think becomes of all the beasts that die of disease and so on, in the fields? Do you suppose they're wasted? No such a thing! They are all cut up too for consumption. Just take a walk on a Saturday night through a certain market, after the gas is lighted - not before, mind - and look at the meat which is marked cheap. You'll see beef at two-pence halfpenny a pound, and veal at three-pence. But what sort of stuff is it? Diseased - rotten! The butchers rub it over with fresh suet or fat, and that gives it a brighter appearance and a better smell. Howsomever, they can't perwent the meat from being quite thin, shrunk, poor, and flabby upon the bone."
    "I'll bear witness to the truth of all wot you've been saying this last time," said a butcher's lad, stepping forward.
    "Of course you can," exclaimed the knacker, casting a triumphant glance around him. "And do you know," he continued, "that half the diseases and illnesses which takes hold on us without any visible cause, and which sometimes puzzles the doctors themselves, comes from eating this bad meat that I've been talkin' about. Now, tell me - ain't a bit out of a good healthy horse, that was killed in a reg'lar way, with the blood flowing, better than a joint off a old cow that dropped down dead of the yellows in a field during the night, and wasn't found so till the morning?"
    With these words the knacker took his departure, leaving his hearers disgusted, indignant, and astonished at what they had heard.
    As the clock struck nine, the Resurrection Man and the Cracksman entered the "Boozing Ken." They repaired straight into the parlour, and seemed disappointed at not finding there some one whom they evidently expected.
    "He ain't come yet, the young spark," said the Cracksman. "And yet he a had plenty of time to go home and get a change o' linen and that like."
    "May be he has turned into bed and had a good snooze," observed the Resurrection Man. " He is [-190-] not so accustomed to remain up all night as we are."
    "I think his head is reg'lar turned with what he has seen in the great crib yonder. He seemed to give sich exceeding vague answers to the questions we put to him as we walked through the park this morning. I've heard say that the conversation of great people is very gammoning, and that they can't always understand each other: so, if young Holford has been listening to their fine talk, it's no wonder he's got crankey."
    "Humbug!" ejaculated the Resurrection Man, sulkily. " Let a have some egg-flip, and we'll wait for him. If be comes he shall give us all the information we want; and if he doesn't, we will lay wait for him, carry him off to the crib, and let the Mummy take care of him till he chooses to speak."
    "Yes - that'll be the best plan," said the Cracksman. "But don't you think it a a wery likely thing he wants to have the whole business to himself?"
    "That's just what I do think," answered the Resurrection Man. "he'll find himself mistaken, though - I rather fancy."
    "So do I," echoed the Cracksman. "But let's have this egg-flip."
    With these words be ordered the beverage and, in due time a quart pot filled with the inviting compound, with a foaming head, and exhaling a strong odour of spices, was brought in by a paralytic waiter, who had succeeded the slip-shod girl mentioned on a former occasion.
    "Good stuff this," said the Cracksman, smacking his lips. " I wonder whether poor Buffer has got anythink half so good this morning."
    "What's to-day? Oh! Friday," mused the Resurrection Man, as he sipped his quantum of flip from a tumbler, with a relish equal to that evinced by his companion: "let's see - what's the fare to-day in Clerkenwell Prison?"
    "Lord! don't you recollect all that?" cried the Cracksman; and taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, he wrote the Dietary Table of Clerkenwell New Prison upon the wall:- 

  Soup Gruel Meat Bread
  Pint Pint Ounces Ounces
Monday .. 2 .. 20
Tuesday .. 1 6 20
Wednesday .. 2 .. 20
Thursday .. 2 .. 20
Friday 1 1 .. 20
Saturday .. 1 6 20
Sunday 1 1 .. 20
Total Weekly Allowance 2 13 12 140

    "That's a nice allowance for a strong healthy fellow!" exclaimed the Resurrection Man contemptuously. "One month upon that will make his flesh as soft and flabby as possible. It's a shame, by heavens! to kill human beings by inches in that way!"
    "What a precious fool the Buffer has made of himself! " said the Cracksman after a pause.
    "The Buffer!" ejaculated the paralytic waiter, who had been affecting to dust a table as an excuse to linger in the room with the chance of obtaining an invitation to partake of the flip: "is any thing wrong with the Buffer?"
    "Safe in lavender," answered the Cracksman, woolly; "and ten to one he'll swing for it."
    " My eyes! I'm very sorry to hear that," cried the waiter. "He was a capital fellow, and never took the change when he gave me a joey * [*Four penny pieces]  to pay for his three-penn'orth of rum of a morning."
    "Well, he's done it brown at last, at all events," continued the Cracksman.
    "What has he done ?" asked the waiter .
    "Why - what he isn't likely to have a chance of doing again," answered the Cracksman. "I sup pose you know that he married Moll Flairer, the; sister of him as was killed by Bill Bolter at the Old House in Chick Lane, three years or so ago? Well - he had a child by Moll; and a very pretty little creetur it was. Even a fellow like me that can't be supposed to have much feeling for that kind of thing, used to love to play with that little child. It was girl; and I never did see such sweet blue eyes, and soft flaxy hair. The moment she was born, off goes the Buffer and subscribes to half a dozen burying clubs. The secretaries and treasurers was all exceedin' glad to see him, took his tin, and put down his name. This was about two year ago. He kept up all his payments reg'lar; and he was also precious reg'lar in keeping up such a system of ill-treatment, that the poor little thing seemed sinking under it. Now, as I said before, I'm not the most remarkablest man in London for feeling; but I m blow'd if I couldn't have cried sometimes to see the way in which the Buffer and Moll would use that child. I've seen it standing in a pail of cold water, stark naked, in the middle of winter, when the ice was floating on the top; and because it cried, its mother would take a rope, half an inch thick, and belabour its poor back. Then they half starved it, and made it sleep on the bare boards. But the little thing loved its parents for all that; and when the Buffer beat Molt. I've seen that poor child creep up to her, and say in such a soft tone, 'Don't cry, mother?' Perhaps all the reward it got for that was a good weltering. How the child stood it all so long, I can't say: the Buffer thought she never would die so he determined to put an end to it at once. And yet he didn't want money, for we had had some good things lately, what with one thing and another. All I know is that he first takes the little child and flings it down stairs; he then puts it to bed, and sends his wife to the doctor's for some medicine, and into the medicine he pours some laudanum. The little creature went to sleep smiling at him; and never woke no more. This was two days ago. Yesterday the Buffer goes round to all the burying clubs, and gives notice of the death of the child. But some how or another the thing got wind; one of the secretaries of a club takes a surgeon along with him to the Buffer's lodgings, and all's blown."
    "Well - I never heard of such a rig as that before," exclaimed the waiter.
    "As for the rig," observed the Cracksman, coolly, "that is common enough. Ever since the burial societies and funeral clubs came into existence, nothink has been more common than these child-murders. A man in full work can very well afford to pay a few halfpence a-week to each club that he subscribes to, even supposing he puts his name down to a dozen. Then those that don't kill their children right out, do it by means of exposure, neglect, and all kinds of horrible treatment; and so it a easy enough for a man to get forty or fifty pounds in this way at one sweep."
    "So it is - so it is," said the waiter: " burial clubs afford a regular premium upon the murder of [-191-] young children. Ah! London is a wonderful place! Every thing of that kind is invented and got up first in London.  I really do think that London beats all other cities in the world for matters of that sort. Look, for instance, what a blessed thing it is that the authorities seldom or never attempt to alter what they call the low neighbourhoods. why, it's the low neighbourhoods that make such gentlemen as you two, and affords you the means of concealment, and existence, and occupation, and every thing else. Supposing there was no boozing-kens, and patter-cribs like this, how would such gentlemen as you two get on? Ah! London is a fine place - a very fine place; and I hope I shall never live to see the day when it will be spoilt by improvement!"
    "Come, there's a good deal of reason in all that," exclaimed the Resurrection Man. "Here, my good fellow," he added, turning to the waiter, "drink this tumbler of egg-hot for your fine speech."
    The waiter did not require to be asked twice, but imbibed the smoking beverage with infinite satisfaction to himself.
    "I never heard any thing more true than what that fellow has just said," observed the Resurrection Man to his companion in iniquity. "Only suppose, now, that all Saint Giles's, Clerkenwell, Bethnal Green, and the Mint were improved, as they call it, where the devil would crime take refuge ? - for no one knows better than you and me that we should uncommon soon have to give up business if we hadn't dark and narrow streets to operate in, cribs like this ken to meet and plan in, and the low courts and alleys to conceal ourselves in. Lord! what indeed would London be to us if it was all like the West- End?"
    "And so the fact is that the authorities very kindly leave in existence and undisturbed, those very places which give birth to you gentlemen in the first instance," said the waiter, "and sustain you afterwards."
    "Well, you ain't very far wrong, old feller," exclaimed the Cracksman. "But, blow me, if this ever struck me before."
    "Nor me, neither," said the Resurrection Man, "till the flunkey started the subject."
    "Ah! there's a many things that has struck me since I've been in the waiter-line in flash houses of this kind," observed the paralytic attendant, shaking his head solemnly; "but one curious fact I've noticed, - which is, that in nine cases out of ten the laws themselves make men take to bad ways, and then punish them for acting under their influence."
    "I don't understand that," said the Cracksman.
    "I do, though," exclaimed the Resurrection Man; "and I mean to say that the flunkey is quite right. We ain't born bad: something then must have made us bad. If I had been in the Duke of Wellington's place, 1 should be an honourable and upright man like him; and if he had been in my place, he would be - what I am."
    "Of course he would," echoed the waiter.
    "Now I understand," cried the Cracksman.
    "I tell you what we'll do," said the Resurrection Man, after a few moments' reflection ; "this devil of a Holford doesn't appear to hurry himself, and the rain has just begun to fall in torrents ;- so we'll have another quart of flip, and the flunkey shall sit down with us and enjoy it; and I will just tell you the history of my own life, by way of passing away the time. Perhaps you may find," added the Resurrection Man, "that it helps to bear out the flunkey's remark, that in nine cases out of ten the laws themselves make us take to bad ways, and then punish us for acting under their influence."
    The second supply of flip was procured; the door of the parlour was shut; room was made for the paralytic waiter near the fire; and the Resurrection Man commenced his narrative in the following manner.

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