… you had to penetrate courts reeking with poisonous and malodorous gases arising from accumulations of sewage and refuse scattered in all directions and often flowing beneath your feet … many of them which the sun never penetrates … You have to ascend rotten staircases, which threaten to give way beneath every step, and which, in some places, have already broken down, leaving gaps that imperil the limbs and lives of the unwary. You have to grope your way along dark and filthy passages swarming with vermin. Then, if you are not driven back by the intolerable stench, you may gain admittance to the dens in which these thousands of beings … herd together.
O’Neill, Gilda. The Good Old Days: Poverty, Crime and Terror in Victorian London (p. 24). Endeavour Press. Kindle Edition.