Posted 20 hours ago

Her Benny

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If you are able to ignore the moralistic and didactic overtones of each chapter, the narrative is an important tale of the conditions on the streets of Liverpool when there was no Government safety net, healthcare, sanitation or empathy for the disadvantaged .

Cuffs and kicks they reckon upon every day of their lives; and in this they are rarely disappointed, and a lad who by dodging or cunning can escape this daily discipline is looked upon by the others as ” ‘mazin’ cute.

The harsh portrayal of street urchin Perks, alias John Cadger, contrasts with empathy of Charles Dickens in his creation of the Artful Dodger. The main character, Benny, is determined to stay honest and never slip into crime, like most of the other street boys of Liverpool. And a second time the affrighted agent fled, and gave up the situation at once, vowing he would never enter any one of those streets again while he lived. If I were to choose a reading list for those younger people interested in what life was like and still is for many on the streets of our cities even today, this book would be top of the list. Its form parallels, and was probably influenced by, Hogarth's well-known and widely distributed series of engravings of Industry and Idleness, which had also been aimed at the young.

Six years later, and by now grown up, he bravely stops a runaway carriage in a nearby lane; only afterwards does he discover that one of its occupants was Eva Lawrence.Didactic in intent, yet sympathetic in tone, his 'rags to riches' tale was well calculated to appeal to a contemporary audience.

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