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IT is slippery walking up Ludgate Hill, early
on a mid-winter morning, with an atmosphere
well mixed with Thames fog and sea-coal
smoke, after a week of rainy days. Look up
for the dome of St. Paul's, and so much of it
as you can see looks unusually magnificent,
half-hidden in its bath of London yellow
clouds. You can scarcely see the large
clock-face, with the hands full six feet long,
and everything looks so dim and dark, that
when you hear it strike six, you fancy it
must have made a mistake, and gone too fast
in the night, in its desire to get through the
cold season as quickly as possible. Still, six
at night it cannot be, for the shops are all
shut, and there are no well-dressed people
about, hurrying on their way for business or
pleasure. A policeman sauntering, three
bricklayers' labourers hurrying, and one
fish-monger's boy in a cart, driving the horse within
an inch of a general smash, have this part of
the thoroughfare all to themselves. Turn to the
left up the Old Bailey, and the scene changes.
Newgate is there, hard, nubbly, and black as
usual, and St. Sepulchre's,with its tall tower and
bells that toll men to execution below,—both
stern, calm. But round about them both there
is a very whirlpool of life. Noise of all kinds
bellowings, bleatings, the rattle of wheels,
the barking of dogs, the sound of blows, many
and fast, the clatter of hoofs, the tramp of
hurrying feet, with ever and ever rising
above all a running chorus of execrations,
rude oaths launched by brutalised men
against infuriated over-driven brute-beasts.
Pass on from the Old Bailey towards Smithfield,
and the crowd thickens and thickens,
and, at each step you take, up splashes the
thick yellowish-black slush that, literally,
floats on all sides. Thousands of oxen are
packed in rows, as close as so many soldiers
in a line, shoulder to shoulder, whilst acres
of sheep are panting away the little span of
life now left in them, as butchers and salesmen
are making terms, and drovers are yelling
to dogs, and dogs plunging amongst herds
yet unpenned. Every animal you see has
heaving sides, and open mouth, and panting
breath; and, had they human voices, their
thousand drouthy throats, and lolled out
parching tongues, would join in one long, loud
wail, drowning all cries in one for Water!

Take care of your toes, or they will be
trodden down by drovers' hobnailed shoes;
take care of your eyes, or they may be probed
by the iron goads at the end of drovers'
sticks; take care of your head, or it may be
broken by blows meant for an unlucky ox;
take care of your pockets, for all the thieves
are not inside the building you have just
passed, and where canvas money-bags are seen,
there nimble fingers often congregate. The
human throng is as thick almost as the
quadruped one; and for blows or losses, there is
at Smithfield, on market morning, little time
either for sympathy or redress.

Look out upon the army of sheep, oxen, calves, and pigs there drawn up, all full of life, and remember, then, that all this is not three days' meat for London; that within a week all these living things will have been killed, cooked, eaten, and digested their skins in the tan-yards, their horns in the turner's workshop, and their hoofs in the glue-pot. Gone; used up; to help feed London for just a few days, and you will have one element for making up a notion of how vast an affair this same London is.

But Smithfield is not a safe place for abstraction.

A rush, and a shriek, and a heavy fall, and
a new shower of oaths and straightway part
of the crowd proceeds to pick up a wretched
woman who is trying to cross the way to her
work, just as an ox which had been driven
and goaded all night, makes a grand tilt at his
tormentors. The drovers had driven him to
mad fury, and the poor charwoman comes in
for the punishment.

"Take her to the hospital," grumbles a
fat salesman, whose proceedings are interrupted
by the thickening of the crowd round
about. Her bonnet has fallen off, and, as
they lift her up, her grizzled hair escapes
from her cap and hangs down, dabbled in the
slush. Her thin, poverty-stricken clothing
offers little resistance to the horn of the ox,
and the blood shows that the blow took effect
on her side.

"Take her to the hospital," repeats the
fat salesman; and straightway, as by one
consent, and with very few words, a policeman