Esoteric London

No. 811: Dagmar Terrace, N1

Posted in Graffiti by esotericlondon on April 8, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_9311 copy

Dagmar Terrace, London, N1. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

The Policeman’s Lantern, Strange Stories of London Life – James Greenwood, 1888:

As regards canine creatures, Mr. Brownjohn’s experience, as might have been expected, is that there are comparatively few now of the homeless and masterless kind to be seen wandering about the streets during the small hours, or coiled up asleep in doorways and retired corners. They have been swept away by the Extermination Act. I was not aware, however, until enlightened by a perusal of the “notes,” that during their first few months of active service it was at night-time that the appointed catchers made their best hauls. During the hours of daylight it was easy enough for a dog possessed of average sagacity and shrewdness to evade the man with the lasso, and the gutter-bred cur – the mongrel that probably was littered in a cellar, who never in its life was beholden to man for so much as a pennyworth of paunch, and who from its earliest puppyhood has been driven from the society of respectable dogs, while its education has been entirely neglected, as no one will deny – is usually endowed with the qualities in question to a remarkable degree. With necessity for its schoolmaster, it is able to take care of itself from very early age indeed, and has ever a keen eye and a quick nose for discerning friends from enemies. Having once had its attention drawn to the legalised destroyer, and, as the vulgar saying is, taken stock of him – with his leather leggings, and his tooth-proof gloves, and his crook and cord – there is no doubt as to its ability to recognise him again next time they meet; and, given half-a-dozen yards start, it is long odds on the street cur escaping the impending danger, in the day-time, that is to say, and when there are plenty of carts and carriages in the road, and the multitudinous legs of the pedestrian public provide fair opportunity for dodging. Even at a time of panic, such has as prevailed during the past twelve mouths, the unmuzzled tyke that the catcher has marked as his own, although it found no favour, was pretty sure of an unimpeded field, and it would be its own fault if it did not get away. But at night-time it is different. The liveliest dog of the mongrel pack cannot be always wide awake ; its very liveliness, in fact, during business hours, would necessitate the refreshment of sleep at night-time, and in nobody’s way, it was quite content to seek midnight repose, curled up nose and tail, in some snug corner. It was then that he became an easy prey to the snarer, who, as need not be said, carried no lantern. Under the cloak of night, and with stealthy steps, the victim was approached, and before it could make an effort to escape, before it was more than half awake even, the noose was round its neck, and it was death-doomed, and bound for Battersea.

[The full text from which the above extract was taken can be read at www.victorianlondon.org. R.D.]

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