Friday 6 April 2007

The Physiology of London


A selection of quotes from John Fisher Murray's The Physiology of London in Bentley's Miscellany, 1844, have been added to the web site. Includes comments on angling ("On a fine, warm day in September, we have counted in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, no less than two hundred and eighty-four anglers, large, small, and intermediate, including gentlemen, chimney-sweepers, military officers, blackguard boys, in short, every gradation of the indefinitely graduated scale of metropolitan social life, was here represented"), child poverty ("I have seen little children, fat enough for the spit, wrapped in woolpacks of fleecy hosiery, seated in their little carriages, drawn by goats, careering over the sward of Hyde Park; and at the same moment, crawling from the hollow trunks of old trees, where they had found refuge for the night, other children, their nakedness hardly concealed by a few greasy rags flapping against the mottled limbs of the creatures, heirs of shame and sorrow, and heritors of misery and its necessary crime." --- goats? was this a commonplace sight!?), a visceral description of the jobbing knacker ("The pole-axe is driven at one blow through the frontal bone of the expiring animal ;a willow wand, finger thick, is pushed into the hole, and twisted about in the brain pan with great dexterity ; the animal is fearfully convulsed, writhing in the most intense agony - the mob is quite in raptures at every kick of one brute and twist of the other - fainter and fainter become the death struggles of Dobbin - another turn or two, as a finisher - he is dead.") and various others (see Bibliography under "Bentley's Miscellany" in Journals).

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