CHAPTER XLIV. KIT BURNS'S.

Having given the reader a description of the "Wickedest Man in New York," we must now introduce him to Mr. Christopher Burns, or, as he is familiarly called, Kit Burns, the compeer of the noted John Allen.

In walking through Water street, you will notice a plain brick building, rather neater in appearance than those surrounding it. The lower part is painted green, and there is a small gas lamp before the door. The number, 273, is very conspicuous, and you will also notice the words over the door, rather the worse for exposure to the weather, "Kit Burns" "Sportsman's Sail".

The ostensible business of Kit Burns, is that of a tavern keeper, and it is said that his house is well kept for one of its class. The bar does a thriving business, and is well stocked with the kind of liquor used in Water street.

Attached to the tavern, however, are the principal attractions of the place to those who frequent it. These are the rat and dog pits.

                     THE RAT PIT.

Rats are plentiful along the East River, and Burns has no difficulty in procuring as many as he desires. These and his dogs furnish the entertainment, in which he delights. The principal room of the house is arranged as an amphitheatre. The seats are rough wooden benches, and in the centre is a ring or pit, enclosed by a circular wooden fence, several feet high. A number of rats are turned into this pit, and a dog of the best ferret stock is thrown in amongst them. The little creature at once falls to work to kill the rats, bets being made that she will destroy so many rats in a given time. The time is generally "made" by the little animal, who is well known to, and a great favorite with, the yelling blasphemous wretches who line the benches. The performance is greeted with shouts, oaths, and other frantic demonstrations of delight. Some of the men will catch up the dog in their arms, and press it to their bosom in a frenzy of joy, or kiss it as if it were a human being, unmindful or careless of the fact that all this while the animal is smeared with the blood of its victims. The scene is disgusting beyond description.

                     THE DOG FIGHTS.

Kit Burns is very proud of his dogs, and his cellar contains a collection of the fiercest and most frightfully hideous animals to be found in America. They are very docile with their owner, and seem really fond of him. They are well fed and carefully tended, for they are a source of great profit to their owner.

Notice is given that at such a time there will be a dog fight at "Sportsman's Hall," and when that time arrives the roughs and bullies of the neighborhood crowd the benches of the amphitheatre. A more brutal, villainous-looking set it would be hard to find. They are more inhuman in appearance than the dogs.

Two huge bull-dogs, whose keepers can hardly restrain them, are placed in the pit, and the keeper or backer of each dog crouches in his place, one on the right hand, the other on the left, and the dogs in the middle. At a given signal, the animals are released, and the next moment the combat begins. It is simply sickening. Most of our readers have witnessed a dog fight in the streets. Let them imagine the animals surrounded by a crowd of brutal wretches whose conduct stamps them as beneath the struggling beasts, and they will have a fair idea of the scene at Kit Burns's.

                     THE REVIVAL AT KIT BURN'S.

During the summer of 1868, while the Water street revival was going on at John Allen's, the parties conducting the movement endeavored to induce Kit Burns to join them. He refused all their offers, and at last they hired his rat pit at a high price, for the purpose of using it for religious services for one hour in each day. This was done, and the meetings held therein were sadly disgraceful to the cause of Christianity. We take the following account of one of these meetings from the New York World, our apology for intruding it, being our desire to present a truthful picture.

The Water street prayer-meetings are still continued. Yesterday at noon a large crowd assembled in Kit Burns's liquor shop, very few of whom were roughs. The majority seemed to be business men and clerks, who stopped in to see what was going on, in a casual manner. In a few minutes after twelve o'clock the pit was filled up very comfortably, and Mr. Van Meter made his appearance and took up a position here he could address the crowd from the centre of the pit, inside the barriers. The roughs and dry goods clerks piled themselves up as high as the roof, tier after tier, and a sickening odor came from the dogs and debris of rats' bones under the seats.

Kit stood outside, cursing and damning the eyes of the missionaries for not hurrying up.

Kit said, 'I'm d - - d if some of the people that come here oughtn't to be clubbed. A fellow 'u'd think that they had niver seen a dog-pit afore. I must be d - - d good-looking to have so many fellows looking at me.'

Inside, the exhortations were kept up to fever heat. In a little gallery above the pit, not more than four feet from the dirty ceiling, there were half a dozen faded and antiquated women, who kept chorus to the music of the Heavenly Jerusalem, as follows: 
          'To God, the mighty Lord 
              Your joyful thanks repeat; 
            To him due praise afford, 
              As good as he is great. 
                   For God does prove 
                     Our constant friend; 
                   His boundless love 
                     Shall never end-a-a-h.'

'That's what I call singing the bloody gospil. The man that wrote that ballad was no slouch,' cried out George Leese, alias 'Snatchem,' one of the worst scoundrels in New York, who is now in the saving path of grace. As a beastly, obscene ruffian, 'Snatchem' never had his equal in America, according to his own account. The writer has seen this fellow at prize fights, with a couple of revolvers in his belt, engaged in the disgusting office of sucking blood from the wild beasts who had ceased to pummel each other for a few seconds. This man, with his bulging, bulbous, watery-blue eyes, bloated red face, and coarse swaggering gait, has been notorious for years in New York. The police are well acquainted with him, and he is proud of his notoriety.

'Snatchem' asked our reporter if he ever saw such 'a-rough and-tumble- stand-up-to-be knocked-down son of a gun as he in his life.'

Did you ever see such a kicking-in-the-head-knife-in-a dark-room fellow as I am, eh?'

Our reporter meekly answered 'no.'

I want a quarter-stretch ticket to go to glory, I do. I can go in harness preaching the bloody gospil against any minister in New York. I know all Watts' Hymns and Fistiana, and I'd like to be an angel and bite Gabriel's ear off.'

A man got upon one of the benches in the pit and commenced to preach in a frenzy to the crowd. He related his experience as a gambler at several gambling houses in Ann street and on Broadway. He told very affecting stories about young men who bought stacks of chips and were afterwards reduced to their bottom dollar and misery.

The minister asked 'if any one present was in need of his prayer, or of water from the Jordan to wash out his sins, to let him hold up his hand.'

George Leese did so. 'He wanted all the water he could get from the Jordan or any other river.'

A man who announced that his name was Sam Irving, and had been a great scoundrel and dog-fighter, said he used to go to Harry Jenning's; to Butler's, in Ninth Avenue; to McLaughlin's, in First Avenue; and to Kit Burns's, to see dogs fight and snarl at each other; he went to Ireland once to bring over a fighting-dog; the man who gave him that dog came to a terrible end by his own hand. The speaker had been reared in sin and shame; he had known the life of the streets; but now Jesus had grabbed him where he lived, and he was going to do better. He wanted every one to take warning by him. They could get Christ as well as him. The prayer-meeting ended by the singing of the Doxology.