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RESURRECTION MAN'S HISTORY.
"I WAS born thirty-eight years ago, near the village of
Walmer, in Kent. My father and mother occupied a small cottage - or rather
hovel, made of the wreck of a ship, upon the sea-coast. Their ostensible
employment was that of fishing: but it would appear that smuggling and
body-snatching also formed a portion of my father's avocations. The rich
inhabitants of Walmer and Deal encouraged him in his contraband pursuits, by
purchasing French silks, gloves, and scents of him : the gentlemen, moreover,
were excellent customers for French brandy, and the ladies for dresses and
perfumes. The clergyman of Walmer and his wife were our best patrons in this
way; and in consequence of the frequent visits they paid our cottage, they took
a sort of liking to me. The parson made me attend the national school regularly
every Sunday ; and when I was nine years old he took me into his service to
clean the boot and knives, brush the clothes, and so forth. I was then very fond
of reading, and used to pass all my leisure time in studying books which he
allowed me to take out of his library. This lasted till I was twelve years old,
when my father was one morning arrested on a charge of smuggling, and taken to
Dover Castle. The whole neighbourhood expressed their surprise that a man who
appeared to be so respectable, should turn out such a villain. The gentlemen who
used to buy brandy of him talked loudly of the necessity of making an example of
him: the ladies, who were accustomed to purchase gloves, silks, and eau-de-cologne,
wondered that such a desperate ruffian should have allowed them to sleep
safe in their bed.; and of course the clergyman and his wife kicked me
ignominiously out of door.. As all things of this nature create a sensation in a
small community, the parson preached a sermon upon the subject on the following
Sunday, choosing for his text 'Render unto Caesar the things that are
Ceasar's, and unto God the things that are God's,' and earnestly
enjoining all his congregation to unite in deprecating the conduct of a man who
had brought disgrace upon a neighbourhood till then famed for its loyalty, its
morality, and its devotion to the laws of the country.
"My father was acquitted for want of evidence, and
returned home after having been in prison six months waiting for his trial. In
the mean time my mother and myself were compelled to receive parish relief: not
one of the fine ladies and gentlemen who had been the indirect means of getting
my father into a scrape by encouraging him in his illegal pursuits, would notice
us. My mother called upon several; but their doors were banged in her face. When
I appeared at the Sunday School. the parson expelled me, declaring that I was
only calculated to pollute honest and good boys ; and the beadle thrashed me
soundly for daring to attempt to enter the church. All this gave me a very
strange idea of human nature, and set me a-thinking upon the state [-192-]
ofsociety. Just at that period a baronet in the neighbourhood was proved
to be the owner of a smuggling vessel, and to be pretty deep in the
contraband business himself. He was compelled to run away: an Exchequer process,
I think they call it, issued against his property; and every thing he possessed
was swept sway. It appeared that he had been smuggling for years, and had
defrauded the revenue to an immense amount. He was a widower: but he had three
children - two boys and a girl, at school in the neighbourhood. Oh! then what
sympathy was created for these ' poor dear bereaved little ones,' as the
parson called them in a charity sermon which he preached for their benefit. And
there they were, marshalled into the parson's own pew, by the beadle; and the
parson's wife wept over them. Subscriptions were got up for them ;- the mayor of
Deal took one boy, the banker another, and the clergyman's wife took charge of
the girl; and never was seen so much weeping, and consoling, and compassion
"Well, at that time my mother had got so thin, and weak,
and ill, through want and affliction, that her neighbours gave her the name of
the Mummy, which she has kept ever since. My father came home, and was
shunned by every body. The baronet's uncle happened to die at that period, and
left his nephew an immense fortune :- the baronet paid all the fines, settled
the Exchequer matters, and returned to Walmer. A triumphal reception awaited
him: balls, parties, concerts, and routs took place in honour of the event ;-
and the mayor, the banker and the clergyman and his wife were held up as the
patterns of philanthropy and humanity. Of course the baronet rewarded them
liberally for having taken care of his children in the hour of need.
"This business again set me a-thinking; and I began to
comprehend that birth and station made an immense difference in the views that
the world adopted of men's actions. My father, who had only higgled and fiddled
with smuggling affairs upon a miserably small scale, was set down as the most
atrocious monster unhung, because he was one of the common herd; but the
baronet, who had carried on a systematic contraband trade to an immense amount,
was looked upon as a martyr to tyrannical laws, because he was one of the upper
classes and possessed a title. So my disposition was soured by these proofs of
human injustice, at my very entrance upon life.
"Up to this period, in spite of the contemplation of the
lawless trade carried on by my father, I had been a regular attendant at church
and at the Sunday-school; and I declare most solemnly that I never went to sleep
at night, nor commenced my morning's avocations, without saying my prayers. But
when my father got into trouble, the beadle kicked me out of church, and the
parson drove me out of the school; and so I began to think that if my religion
was only serviceable and available as long as my father remained unharmed by the
law, it could not be worth much. From that moment I never said another prayer,
and never opened a bible or prayer-book. Still I was inclined to labour to
obtain an honest livelihood and I implored my father, upon my knees, not to
force me to assist in his proceedings of smuggling and body-snatching, to both
which he was compelled by dire necessity to return the moment he was released
from gaol. He told me I was a fool to think of living honestly, as the world
would not let me; but be added that I might make the trial.
"Pleased with this permission, and sincerely hoping that
I might obtain some occupation, however menial, which would enable me to eat the
bread of honest toil, I went round to all the farmers in the neighbourhood, and
offered to enter their service as a plough-boy or a stable-boy. The moment they
found out who I was, they one and all turned me away from their doors. One said,
'Like father, like son;' - another asked if I was mad, to think
that I could thus thrust myself into an honest family ;- a third laughed in my
face ; - a fourth threatened to have me taken up for wanting to get into his
house to commit a felony ;- a fifth swore that there was gallows written upon my
countenance ;- a sixth ordered his men to loosen the bull-dog at me ;- and a
seventh would have had me ducked in his horse-pond, if I had not run away.
"Dispirited, but not altogether despairing, I returned
home. On the following day, I walked into Deal, (which almost joins Walmer) and
called at several tradesmen's shops to inquire if they wanted an errand-boy. My
reception by these individuals was worse than that which I had met with at the
hands of the farmers. One asked me if I thought he would run the risk of having
his house indicted as the receptacle for thieves and vagabonds ;- a second
pointed to his children, and said, 'Do you suppose I want to bring
them up in the road to the gallows?' - a third locked up his
till in affright, and threatened to call a constable ;- and a fourth lashed me
severely with a horse-whip.
"Still I was not totally disheartened. I determined to
call upon some of those ladies and gentlemen who had been my father's best
customers for his contraband articles. One lady upon hearing my business, seized
hold of the poker with one hand and her salts-bottle with the other ;- a second
was also nearly fainting, and rang the bell for her maid to bring her some eau-de-cologne
- the very eau-de-cologne which my father had smuggled for her
;- a third begged me with tears in her eyes to retire, or my very suspicious
appearance would frighten her lap-dog into fits ;- and a fourth (an old lady,
who was my father's best customer for French brandy), held up her hands to
heaven, and implored the Lord to protect her from all sabbath-breakers, profane
swearers, and drunkards.
"Finding that I had nothing to expect from the ladies, I
tried the gentlemen who had been accustomed to patronise my father previous to
his misfortune. The first swore at me like a trooper, and assured me that
he had always prophesied I should go wrong :- the second spoke civilly, and
regretted that his excellent advice had been all thrown away upon my father,
whom he had vainly endeavered to avert from his wicked courses (it was for
smuggling things for this gentleman that my father had been arrested) ;-and the
third made no direct answer, but shook his head solemnly, and wondered what the
world was coming to.
"I was now really reduced to despair. I, however,
resolved to try some of the very poorest tradesmen in the town. By these
miserable creatures I was received with compassionate interest; and my case was
fully comprehended by them. Some even gave me a few halfpence; and one made me
sit down and dine with him, his wife, and his children. They, however, one and
all declared that they could not take me into their service, for, if
they did, they would be sure to offend all their customers. Thus was it that
the overbearing conduct and atrocious tyranny of the more wealthy part of the
community, compelled the poorer portion to smother all sympathy in my behalf.
A sudden thought now struck me. I resolved to call next
day upon the very baronet who had himself suffered so much in consequence of the
customs-laws. Exhilarated by the new hope awakened within me, I repaired on the
following morning to the splendid mansion which he now inhabited. I was shown
into a magnificent room, where he received me, lounging before a cheerful fire.
He listened very patiently to my tale, and then spoke, as nearly as I can
recollect, as follows :- 'My good lad, I have not the slightest doubt that you
are anxious to eat the bread of honesty, as you very properly express it. But that bread is not within the reach of every body;
and if we were all to pick and choose in this world, my God! what would become
of us? My dear young man, I occupy a prominent position amidst the gentry of
these parts, and I have also a duty to fulfil towards society.' Society has
condemned you - unheard, I grant you: nevertheless, society has condemned
you. Under these circumstances I have no alternative, but to decline taking you
into my service; and I must moreover request you to remember that if you are
ever found loitering upon my grounds, I shall have you put in the stocks. I
regret that my duty to society sunspots me thus to act.'
"You may conceive with what feelings I heard this long
tirade. I was literally confounded, and retired without venturing upon a
remonstrance. I knew not what course to adopt. To return home and inform my
parents that I could obtain no work, was to lay myself under the necessity of
becoming a smuggler and a body-snatcher at once. As a desperate resource I
thought of calling upon the clergyman, and explaining all my sentiments to him.
I hoped to be able to convince him that although my father was bad, or supposed
to be bad, yet I abhorred vice in all its shapes, and was anxious only to pursue
honest courses. As a Christian minister, he could not, I imagined, be so
uncharitable as to infer my guilt in consequence of that of my parent; and,
accordingly, to him did I repair. He had just returned to his own house from a
funeral, and was in a hurry to be off on a shooting excursion, for he had on his
sporting-garb beneath his surplice. He listened to me with great impatience, and
asked if my father still pursued his contraband trade. Seeing that I hesitated
how to reply, he exclaimed, turning his eyes up to heaven, 'Speak the truth,
young man, and shame the devil!' I answered in the affirmative; and he
then said carelessly, 'Well, go and [-194-] speak to my wife; she will act in the matter as she chooses.'
Rejoiced at this hopeful turn in the proceeding, I sought his lady, as I was
desired. She heard all that I had to say, and then observed, 'Not for worlds
could I receive you into my house again; but if your father has any silks said
very cheap and very good, I do not mind purchasing them. And remember,' she
added, as I was about to depart, 'I do not want these things; I only offer to
take them for the purpose of doing you a service. My motive is purely a
"I returned home. 'Well,' said my father,' what luck this
morning?' - 'None,' I replied. - 'And what do you mean to do, lad?' - 'To become a
smuggler, a body-snatcher, or any thing else that you choose,' was my reply; 'and
the sooner we begin, the better, for I am sick and tired of being good.'
"So I became a smuggler and a resurrection man.
"You have heard, perhaps, that Deal is famous for its
boatmen and pilots. It is also renowned for the beauty of the sailors'
daughters. One of those lovely creatures captivated my heart - for I can even
talk sentimentally when I think of those times; and she seemed to like me in
return. Her name was Katharine Price - Kate Price, as she was called by her
acquaintance; and a prettier creature the sun never shone upon. She was good
and virtuous, too - and she alone understood my real disposition, which, even now
that I bad embarked in lawless pursuits, still panted to be good and virtuous
also. At this time I was nineteen, and she was one year younger. We loved in
secret - and we met in secret ; for her parents would not for one moment
have listened to the idea of our union. My hope was to obtain a good sum of
money by one desperate venture in the contraband line, and run away with Kate to
some distant part of the country, where we could enter upon some way of business
that would produce us an honest livelihood. This hope sustained us!"
"At this time there were a great many sick sailors in
Deal Hospital, and numerous funerals took place in the burial-ground of that
establishment. My father and I determined to have up a few of the corpses, for
we always knew where to dispose of as many subjects as we could obtain.
By these means I proposed to raise enough money to purchase in France the
articles that I meant to smuggle into England and thereby obtain the necessary
funds for carrying out the plans upon which Kate and myself were resolved.
"Good luck attended upon my father and myself in respect
to the body-snatching business. We raised thirty pounds; and with that we set
sail for France in the boat which we always hired for our smuggling expeditions.
We landed at Calais, and made our purchases. We bought an immense quantity of
brandy at tenpence a quart; gloves at eightpence a pair; three watches at two
pound ten each ; and some eau-de-cologne, proportionately cheap. Our
thirty pounds we calculated would produce us a hundred and twenty. We put out to
sea again at about ten o'clock at night. The wind was blowing stiff from the
nor'east; and by the time we had been an hour at sea it increased to a perfect
hurricane. Never shall I forget that awful night. The entire ocean was white
with foam; but the sky above was as black as pitch. We weathered the tempest
until we reached the shore about a mile to the south'ard of Walmer, at a place
called Kingsdown. We touched the beach - I thought every thing was safe. A huge billow broke over the stern of the
lugger; and in a moment
the boat was a complete wreck. My father leapt on shore from the bow at the
instant this catastrophe took place: I was swallowed up along with the ill-fated
bark. I was, however, an excellent swimmer; and I combated, and fought, and
struggled with the ocean, as a man would wrestle with a savage animal that held
him in his grasp. I succeeded in gaining the beach; but so weak and enfeebled
was I that my father was compelled to carry me to our hovel, close by.
"I was put to bed: a violent fever seized upon me - I
became delirious - and for six weeks I lay tossing upon a bed of sickness.
"At length I got well. But what hope remained, for me? We
were totally ruined - so was the poor fisherman whose boat was wrecked upon that
eventful night. I wrote a note to Kate to tell her all that had happened, and to
make an appointment for the following Sunday evening, that we might meet and
talk over the altered aspect of affairs. Scarcely had I despatched this letter
to the care of Kate's sister-in-law, who was in our secret, and managed our
little correspondence, when my father came in and asked me if I felt myself well
enough to accompany him on a little expedition that evening. I replied in the
affirmative. He then told me that a certain surgeon for whom we did business,
and who resided in Deal, required a particular subject which had been buried
that morning in Walmer Churchyard. I did not ask my father any more questions;
but that night I accompanied him to the burial-ground between eleven and
twelve o'clock. The surgeon had shown my father the grave in the afternoon; and
we had a cart waiting in a lane close by. The church is in a secluded part,
surrounded by trees, and at some little distance from any habitations. There was
no danger of being meddled with :- moreover, we had often operated in the same
"To work we went in the usual manner. We shovelled out
the soil, broke open the coffin, thrust the corpse into a sack, filled up the
grave once more, and carried our prize safe off to the cart. We then set off at
a round pace towards Deal, and arrived at the back door of the surgeon's house
by two o'clock. He was up and waiting for us. We carried the corpse into the
surgery, and laid it upon a table. 'You are sure it is the right one?' said the
surgeon. - 'It is the body from the grave that you pointed out,'
answered my father. - 'The fact is,' resumed the surgeon, 'that this is a very
peculiar case. Six days ago, a young female rose in the morning in perfect
health; that evening she was a corpse. I opened her, and found no traces of
poison; but her family would not permit me to carry the examination any further.
They did not wish her to be hacked about. Since her death some love-letters have
been found in her drawer; but there is no name attached to any of them.' - I began
to feel interested, I scarcely knew why; but this was the manner in which I was
accustomed to write to Kate. The surgeon continued: 'I am therefore anxious to
make another and more searching investigation than on the former occasion, into
the cause of death. But I will soon satisfy myself that this is indeed the
corpse I mean.' - With these words the surgeon tore away the shroud from the face
of the corpse. I cast an anxious glance upon the pale, cold, marble countenance
My blood ran cold - my legs trembled - my strength seemed to have failed me. Was I
mistaken? could it be the beloved of my heart - 'Yes; that is Miss Price,' said
the surgeon, coolly. All doubt on my part was now removed. I had exhumed the [-195-]
body of her whom a thousand times I had pressed to my
sorrowful breast - whom I had clasped to my aching heart. I felt as if I had
committed some horrible crime - a murder, or other deadly deed!
"The surgeon and my father did not notice my emotions,
but settled their accounts. The medical man then offered us each a glass of
brandy. I drank mine with avidity, and then accompanied my father from the spot
- uncertain whether to rush back and claim the body, or not. But I did not do
"For some days I wandered about scarcely knowing what I
did - and certainly not caring what became of me. One morning I was roving amidst
the fields, when I heard a loud voice exclaim,- 'I say, you fellow there,
open the gate, will you?' I turned round, and recognised the baronet on
horseback. He had a large hunting whip in his hand.- 'Open the gate!' said I; 'and whom for?'
'Whom for!' repeated the baronet; 'why, for me, to be
sure, fellow.-' 'Then open it yourself.' said I. The baronet was near enough to
me to reach me with his whip; and he dealt me a stinging blow across the face.
Maddened with pain, and soured with vexation, I leapt over the gate and
attacked the baronet with a stout ash stick which I carried in my hand. I
dragged him from his horse, and thrashed him without mercy. When I was tired, I
walked quietly away, he roaring after me that he would be revenged upon me as
sure as I was born.
"Next day I was arrested and taken before a magistrate.
The baronet appeared against me, and - to my surprise - swore that I had assaulted
him with a view to rob him, and that he had the greatest difficulty in
protecting his purse and watch. I told my story and showed the mark of the
baronet's whip across my face. The justice asked me if I could bring forward any
witnesses to character. The baronet exclaimed, 'How can he? he has been in Dover
Castle for smuggling.' - ' Never!' I cried emphatically.- 'Well, your father has,
then,' said the baronet. This I could not deny.-' Oh I that's just the same
thing!' cried the magistrate; and I was committed to gaol for trial at the next
"For three months I lay in prison. I was not, however,
completely hardened yet; nor did I associate with those who drank, and sang, and
swore. I detested vice in all its shapes; and I longed for an opportunity to be
good. It may seem strange to you, who know me now, to hear me speak thus
;- but you are not aware what I was then!
"I was tried, and found guilty. The next two years of my
life I passed at the hulks at Woolwich, dressed in dark grey, and wearing a
chain round my leg. Even there I did not grow so corrupted, but that I sought
for work the moment I was set at liberty again. I resolved not to return home to
my parents, for I detested the ways into which they had led me. Turned away from
the hulks one fine morning at ten o'clock, without a farthing in my pocket nor
the means of obtaining a morsel of bread, my prospects were miserable enough. I
could not obtain any employment in Woolwich: evening was coming on - and I was
hungry. Suddenly I thought of enlisting. Pleased with this idea, I went to the
barracks, and offered myself as a recruit. The regiment stationed there was about
to embark for the East Indies in a few days and wanted men. Although certain of
being banished, as it were, to an most unhealthy climate for twenty-one years, I
preferred that to the life of a vagabond or a criminal in England. The sergeant
was delighted with me, because I could read and write well; but the surgeon
would not pass me. He said to me 'You have either been half-starved for a length of time, or
you have undergone a long imprisonment, for your flesh is as flabby as possible.'
Thus was this hope destroyed.
"Now what pains had the law taken to make me good
- even supposing, that I was really bad at the time of my condemnation? The
law locked me up for two years, half-starved me, and yet exacted from me as much
labour as a strong, healthy, man could have performed then the law turned me out
into the wide world, so weak, reduced, and feeble, that even the last resource
of the most wretched - namely, enlisting in a regiment bound for India - was closed
"Well - that night I wandered into the country and slept
under a hedge. On the following morning I was compelled to satisfy the ravenous
cravings of my hunger with Swedish turnips plucked from the fields. This food
lay so cold upon my stomach that I felt ready to drop with illness, misery, and
fatigue. And yet, in this Christian land, even that morsel, against which my
heart literally heaved, was begrudged me. I was not permitted to satisfy my
hunger with the food of beasts. A constable came up and took me into custody for
robbing the turnip field. I was conducted before a neighbouring justice of the
peace. He asked me what I meant by stealing the turnips? I told him that I had
fasted for twenty-four hours, and was hungry. 'Nonsense, hungry!' he exclaimed;
'I'd give five pounds to know what hunger is! you kind of fellows eat turnips by
way of luxury, you do - and not because you re hungry.' I assured him that I
spoke the truth.-' Well, why don t you go to work?' he demanded.- 'So I will,
sir, with pleasure, if you will give me employment.' I replied.-' Me give you
employment,' he shouted, 'I wouldn't have such a fellow about me, if he'd work for
nothing. Where did you sleep last night?' - 'Under a hedge, sir,' was my answer.
- 'Ah! I thought so,'
he exclaimed: 'a rogue and vagabond evidently.' And this excellent specimen of
the 'Great unpaid' committed me forthwith to the treadmill foe one month as a
rogue and vagabond.
"The treadmill is a horrible punishment: it is too bad
even for those that are really rogues and vagabonds. The weak and the strong
take the same turn, without any distinction; and I have seen men fall down
fainting upon the platform, with the risk of having their legs or arms smashed
by the wheel, through sheer exhaustion. Then the miserable fare that one
receives in prison renders him more fit for an hospital than for the violent
labour of the treadmill.
"I had been two years at the hulks, and was not
hardened: I had been a smuggler and a body- snatcher, and was not hardened :-
but this one month's imprisonment and spell at the treadmill did harden
me - and hardened me completely! I could not see any advantage in being good. I
could not find out any inducement to be honest. As for a desire to lead an
honourable life, that was absurd. I now laughed the idea to scorn; and I swore
within myself that whenever I did commence a course of crime, I would be
an unsparing demon at my work. Oh! how I then detested the very name of virtue.
The rich look upon the poor as degraded reptiles that are born in infamy and
that cannot possibly possess a good instinct. I reasoned within myself. 'Let a
rich man accuse a poor man before a justice, a jury, or a judge, and see how
quick the poor wretch is condemned! The aristocracy hold the lower classes
in horror and abhorrence. The legislature thinks that if it does not make the
most grinding laws to keep down the poor. the poor will rise up and commit the [-196-]
most unheard-of atrocities. In fact the rich are prepared to
believe any infamy which is imputed to the poor.' It was thus that I reasoned;
and I looked forward to the day of my release with a burning - maddening -
"That day came. I was turned adrift, as before, without
a shilling and without a crust. That alone was as bad as branding the words rogue
and vagabond upon my forehead. How could I remain honest, even if I had any
longer been inclined to do so, when I could not get work and had no money - no
bread - no lodging? The legislature does not think of all this. It fancies that
all its duty consists in punishing men for crimes, and never dreams of adopting
measures to prevent them from committing crimes at all. But I now no more
thought of honesty: I went out of prison a confirmed ruffian. I had no money -
no conscience - no fear - no hope - no love - no friendship - no sympathy - no kindly feeling
of any sort. My soul had turned to the blackness of hell!
"The very first thing I did was to cut myself a good
tough ash stick with a heavy knob at one end. The next thing I did was to break
into the house of the very justice who had sentenced inc to the treadmill for
eating a raw turnip; and I feasted jovially upon the cold fowl and ham which I
found in his larder. I also drank success to my new career in a bumper of his
fine old wine. This compliment was due to him: he had made me what I was!
"I carried off a small quantity of plate - all that I
could find, you may be sure - and took my departure from the house of the justice.
As I was hurrying away from this scene of my first exploit, I passed by a fine
large barn, also belonging to my friend the magistrate. I did not hesitate a
moment what to do. I owed him a recompense for my month at the treadmill; and I
thought I might as well add Incendiary to my other titles of Rogue and
Vagabond. Besides, I longed for mischief - the world had persecuted me
quite long enough, the hour of retaliation had arrived. I fired the barn and
scampered away as hard as I could. I halted at a distance of about half a mile,
and turned to look. A bright column of flame was shooting up to heaven! Oh I how
happy did I feel at that moment. Happy! this is not the word! I was mad -
intoxicated - delirious with joy. I literally danced as I saw the barn
burning. I was avenged on the man who would not allow me to eat a cold turnip to
save me from starving :- that one cold turnip cost him dear! The fire spread,
and communicated with his dwelling-house; and there was no adequate supply of
water. The barn - the stacks - the out-houses - the mansion were all destroyed. But
that was not all. The only daughter of the justice - a lovely girl of nineteen -
was burnt to death. I read the entire account in the newspapers a few days
"And the upper classes wonder that there are so many
incendiary fires: my only surprise is, that there are so few! Ah! the
Lucifer-match is a fearful weapon in the hands of the man whom the laws, the
aristocracy, and the present state of society have ground down to the very dust.
I felt all my power - I knew all my strength - I was aware of all my importance as a
man, when I read of the awful extent of misery and desolation which I had thus
caused. Oh! I was signally avenged!
I now bethought me of punishing the baronet in the same
manner. He had been the means of sending me for two years to the hulks at
Woolwich. Pleased with this idea, I jogged merrily on towards Walmer. It was
late at night when I reached home. I found my mother watching by my father's
arrived just in time to behold him breathe his last. My mother spoke to me about
decent interment for him. I laughed in her face. Had he ever allowed any one
to sleep quietly in his grave? No. How could he then hope for repose in
the tomb? My mother remonstrated: I threatened to dash out her brains with my
stout ash stick; and on the following night I sold my father's body to the
surgeon who had anatomised poor Kate Price! This was another vengeance on my
"Not many hours elapsed before I set fire to the largest
barn upon the baronet's estate. I waited in the neighbourhood and glutted myself
with a view of the conflagration. The damage was immense. The next day I
composed a song upon the subject, which I have never since forgotten. You may
laugh at the idea of me becoming a poet; but you know well enough that I
received some trifle of education - that I was not a fool by nature - and that in
early life I was fond of reading. The lines were these:-
THE INCENDIARY'S SONG.
Lucifer-match! the Lucifer-match!
'Tis the weapon for us to wield.
bonnily burns up rick and thatch.
the crop just housed from the field
proud may oppress and the rich distress,
And drive us from their door;-
cannot snatch the Lucifer-match
From the hand of the desperate poor
purse proud squire and the tyrant peer
May keep their Game Laws still;
the very glance of the overseer
continue to freeze and kill.
wealthy and great, and the chiefs of the state,
May tyrannise more and more;-
But they cannot snatch the Lucifer-match
From the hand of the desperate poor!
" 'Oh! give us bread!' is the piteous wail
That is murmured far and wide;
echo takes up and repeats the tale-
But the rich man turns aside.
Justice of Peace may send his Police
To scour the country o'er;
they cannot snatch the Lucifer-match
From the hand of the desperate poor!
hurrah! hurrah! for the Lucifer-match;
'Tis the weapon of despair.-
blaze up barn and thatch-
The poor man's revenge is there!
the worm will turn on the feet that spurn-
And surely a man is more ?-
Oh! none can e'er snatch the Lucifer match
From the hand of the desperate poor!
"The baronet suspected that I was the
cause of the fire,
as I had just returned to the neighbourhood; and he had me arrested and taken
before a justice; but there was not a shadow of proof against me, nor a pretence
to keep me in custody. I was accordingly discharged, with an admonition 'to
take care of myself '- which was as much as to say, 'If I can find an opportunity
of sending you to prison, I will.'
"Walmer and its neighbourhood grew loathsome to me.
of Kate Price constantly haunted me; and I was moreover shunned by every one who
knew that I had been at the hulks. I accordingly sold off all the fishing
tackle, and other traps, and came up to London with the old Mummy.
"I need say no more."
"And there's enough in your history to set a man
a-thinking," exclaimed the waiter of the boozing-ken; "there is indeed."
"Ah! I b'Iieve you, there is," observed the Cracksman,
draining the pot which had contained the egg-flip.
clock struck mid-day when Holford entered the parlour of the boozing-ken.
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