The Autobiography of One of the Chartist Rebels of 1848
The next day I became a Rebel, and this was how it was, ‘Lord John,’ — all facts, without a comment. Going up Holborn on Friday morning, I met a man carrying a board with bills on it, having words to the following effect: — ‘Give no money to beggars, — food, work, and clothing, are given away to them by applying to the Mendicity Society, Red Lion Square.’ What, food, work, clothing, given away! O! here’s good news! Let them give me work though, and I’ll find food and clothing myself. — ‘I say, governor,’ to the man with the board, ‘what’s all that mean?’ ‘What’s all what mean?’ said as comical a looking figure-head as any Great Exhibition directed by phrenologists could well produce. ‘That bill.’ ‘Vy, dos’ent yer know?’ ‘No’ ‘Vell you is raw, and no flies.’ Now what this distinguished agent of the Association meant by raw, I did not then comprehend, and what flies had to do with his reply is also a mystery which future enlightened generations must unravel; for he did’nt tell, and I did’nt ask him. I wanted just then to get at something else. ‘Do, my good fellow,’ said I, ‘pray do tell me if I really can get food, work, and clothing, and how.’ ‘Is yer a beggar?’ ‘No — yes.’ ‘Now none of yer lies, ‘cos if yer is’nt a beggar, the gemmen vont giv yer not nuffin.’
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