+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

dispensing cats' meat, from silver spoons to a
litter of spaniels at their feet; an archbishop,
seated in his study, in lawn sleeves, tempting a
poodle to sit up by the promise of cats' meat;
and an elderly lady of evidently high rank, for
her coronet stood on the breakfast-table at her
side, like a coffee-pot, coaxing a monster tabby
with milk and meat, were among the pictures
on the cart-sides. The ponies drawing them
were smart trotters, well groomed and cared
for; but the most celebrated were not brought
out through the wetness of the morning. The
owners were as artistic as their vehicles: some
in long drab coats reaching to their heels; some
in strange jackets in which one patch of colour
had been so intertwined with another that the
original hue was lost; some in nondescript
garments, of which it was difficult to discern
the beginning or end; all wonderfully brisk,
funny, and personal. One man takes away
a bag of horse tongues, which are so wonderfully
like those we see in the windows of ham
and beef shops that we avoid asking its
destination; others purchase horses' hearts, which
we, at least, could not distinguish from those
of bullocks; but the majority take the "meat"
as it comes, pay for it, and go on their
way. "It's a curious thing," said the stout
proprietor, "that they're all so particular about
having it boiled fresh. The act of parliament
says horses are only to be slaughtered in
certain hours; but that part of it has become a dead
letter, simply because cats prefer the taste of
horse-flesh which has been newly killed.
Custom, sir, has overridden law, as it often does,
and all because the London tabbies are so dainty
that they don't like horse that's been killed too
long over-night. Do the old favourite horses I
told you of as being slaughtered to prevent their
ever being ill treateddo they get sold for
cats' meat too? I ask. That's just as gentlemen
like. They can have the body buried, and, if
they prefer it, we'll send men to their own
places to kill for them. If they come here, it
can be made quite private. We'd a baronet
here, with an old pet, only yesterday. We
always close these gates at such a time; for,
hang me (with much vigour) if people don't
seem to rise out of the pavement when
anything's going on on the quiet. The great thing
we guarantee is that a horse shall be put out
of the way painlessly, and in the presence of
witnesses, if it's wished; and that he'll not
be found, ill-treated, in a cab, perhaps, ten
years after he's supposed to be killed, as I've
known happen before now."

Remarking, as we take our leave, that the
smell of slaughtering and boiling is far less offensive
than we had supposed, we learn that "it's
the varnish-makers close to us that get us such
a bad name. It's their stench, not ours, that
sends people's fingers to their noses. The smell
from those factories is horrible, and we have
the credit of it. Horse-slaughtering doesn't
cause any smell to speak of. I don't mean to
say that we're at all times perfectly pure; but
our business is a regular nosegay compared to
the varnish trade, so it's hard we should be
blamed for what we've no connexion with, and
what is a greater nuisance to us than to any
one else."


YES, I am one of the twenty-eight, I am
proud to say. We were pioneers, for we
cut down the jungle of monopoly, broke up
the boulders of high profits, and cleared the
road for ourselves and our children of not a
little roguery. See how many armies of
co-operatives are marching triumphantly in our
wake! We, the Rochdale twenty-eight, were
pioneers, made the path for them, as the
British engineers made the road to Senafe.
Twenty-eight of us met together, exactly
twenty-three years ago, and thought we might
as well put in our own pockets the profits
made by stiff butchers, uncivil grocers, and
pitiless tally-men. So we clubbed together, and
made up a pound a mantwenty-eight pounds
in alland began to sell tea, sugar, and coffee,
in a small shop in a back street. Of course we
were laughed at. Our fellow-workmen called
us the twenty-eight merchant princes; but we
persevered, and sold our two ounces of tea and
half pounds of sugar cheerfully. One of our
number took it in turn to attend three days
each week at breakfast and dinner hour to
sell. At first a penny pass-book did for a
ledger, as we kept no accounts. We never
went in debt, and we gave no credit. In two or
three years our fellow-workmen found their
laugh was on the wrong side. Our business
became a thriving one, and the lads and lasses
came in crowds to take shares and become their
own merchants. We are an institution now,
sira great English institution, with our well-paid
managers, clerks, buyers, shopkeepers, and
unpaid committee-men. Our books are always
open to inspection, and every member learns
once a quarter how his capital is growing.

We began, I said, with twenty-eight
members; there are very nearly seven thousand of us
now in this one society. If you want the exact
numbers, you can have them: they were, on the
1st of January, 1868, precisely six thousand
eight hundred and twenty-three. We are more
now than we were this time last year by five
hundred and seventy-seven; that proves how we
are getting on. Here is our grand sheet
almanack for 1868we publish an almanack
every year now, which our members fix up at
home, and point to as an authentic record of
our progress. You see by the directors' report
for 1867, contained in the first column, that we
don't do business in a back street now. How
much money do you think we received last year
across the counter for goods? Here it is:
"Money received for goods sold, two hundred
and eighty-four thousand nine hundred and ten
pounds:" there is a trade for you! I wonder
what the twenty-eight original pioneers would
say if they looked out of the window of the
back street shop and saw this almanack to-day.
You will find we did more business by thirty-four