Every so often it is nice to turn away from reporting on the horror of the social conditions in the East End of London in the latter years of the 19th century; or to focus on a story that is not about murder, bloodshed horror and mayhem.
In a blog that is primarily about the Jack the Ripper crimes in particular, and the Whitechapel murders in general, it might seem strange to want to focus on something that is a little more pleasant and report a story that warms the heart, as opposed to chilling the marrow and turning the stomach.
A PLEASANT STORY
But, every so often, I come across a story that has that rare feel-good factor about it, and, in searching for newspaper reports on the death of Emma Smith – which took place at the London Hospital, on Whitechapel Road in early April, 1888 – I came across the following story, which I thought would make a welcome change to the usual diet of murderous roughage that I serve up in my blogs!
The story, which evidently originated from a press agency, since it appeared in newspapers all over the country, must a raised many a smile from the jaded Victorian who read it, and it still has the ability to raise a smile today.
Indeed, if it doesn’t make you smile, might I suggest a little chilling out, and a little softening of the heart?
The following version of the story appeared in The Chelmsford Chronicle, on Friday, 16th March, 1888:-
A FOUR – FOOTED PATIENT AT THE LONDON HOSPITAL
THE SAGACITY OF A DOG
“A few nights since, about nine o’clock, a valuable retriever dog presented itself at the London Hospital and made its way straight to the receiving-room.
It went to the house physician on duty, and looking at him in the face, put one of its paws up, but the physician being busy attending to his patients, and thinking the dog belonged to one of them, did not take any particular notice of it, and it was driven out.
THE DOG RETURNS
A little after ten o’clock it again made its appearance at the gate and tried to gain admittance, but it was driven back.
A few minutes later it reappeared, and was noticed this time to walk very lame.
So it was conducted into the receiving room and handed over to the night receiving room nurse.
AN INJURY TO ITS FOOT
This officer, having called the attention of one of the house surgeons to it, the dog was carefully examined and was found to have an injury to its foot.
The limb was bandaged by one of the dressers, and the dog was dismissed, but, seeming very reluctant to leave, it was allowed to remain and rest for the night, during which time it was well cared for, its foot being bathed occasionally by the nurse.
TAKEN TO THE POLICE STATION
In the morning, at six o’clock, it went a little way into the Whitechapel-road, but soon returned, and when the night porters went off duty at seven, as there had been no inquiry for it, the porter placed it in safe hands at the Arbour-square Police-station.
SENT TO THE DOGS’ HOME
Upon making inquiry on Monday he was told that no owner had been found, so it was sent to the Dogs’ Home by the police, where it is hoped the owner has found his faithful and intelligent friend.”
I WONDER WHAT BECAME OF HIM?
And there the story ends. I’ve searched the newspaper accounts to see if any of the papers felt the necessity to report on the fate that befell the dog, but to no avail.
It’s just one of those stories that crop up every now and again in the Victorian newspapers, to which no “closure” is possible, as once the story had appeared the press lost interest in it.
Personally, I hope the dog was reunited with its owner, or, if not, that it was taken in by a nice family who cared for it and ensured that it enjoyed a pleasant remainder of its days.
Go on, be honest, are you smiling?