Mr. SECRETARY WALPOLE AND THE JACOBIN'S FRIEND.
A GOVERNMENT ought to be more scrupulously just and
more considerately generous than private individuals, for they have
unlimited powers of damage, annoyance, and penal revenge in their hands.
They can strike at the innocent and guilty alike, and that passes for
commendable vigilance in them which in individuals would be seen to be
rank spite. The Dr. Bernard trouble did not end with his acquittal.
One not a Frenchman, but because he was a friend of Dr. Bernard, became a
person of so much interest or anxiety to the English Government that they
offered £200 for his head. They did not put it in that plain way,
but their object was to try him for his life. He was known as a man
of noble friendships and generous courage, or he had not permitted himself
to be regarded as Dr. Bernard's personal acquaintance.
His high spirit, his disinterestedness, his philosophic mind
and personal intrepidity, were a constant cause of inspiration to all who
knew him. He became, as I have said, the subject of solicitude on
the part of the Government, who thought they had international reason for
hanging him. They had no just cause for such belief, but made a show
of assiduity in the matter, to gratify the susceptibility of the Emperor
of the French, who was then considered our "good ally." The friend
whose death was sought Dr. Bernard and I sometimes met at the White Swan
Hotel, Covent Garden, and at Ginger's Hotel, which, as I have said, then
stood near Palace Yard, Westminster Bridge Road.
Spencer Horatio Walpole
After the Lepelletier affair, the Government were induced to
offer a reward of £200 for the discovery of my friend, who, having means
of knowing what was in their minds, was nowhere apparent in the British
dominions. For two years he was an exile. The reward for his
apprehension being still in force at the end of that period, I and Mr.
Baxter Langley waited upon the Home Secretary, who in those days was Mr.
Spencer Walpole. We presented ourselves to him as persons who had a
friend to sell, provided we were sure of payment. We were not so
lost to self-respect as not to put a price upon our virtue. We were
prepared to be perfidious for £200. On our being guaranteed the
reward, the gentleman the Government desired to see would appear. He
had no objections to being hanged if that was thought right, but, being
accustomed to outdoor life, he objected to be imprisoned, but would (he
instructed us to say) present himself on the day appointed for trial.
We stated that the reward offered for his appearance, which we applied
for, was to defray the cost of his defence, as it was not reasonable that
any one void of offence should be put to expense to prove it. Though
aided by gratuitous services on many hands, Dr. Bernard's defence cost him
£850. He, with no means but his earnings, had many lectures,
lessons, and prescriptions to give before he paid that serious bill.
All we asked further was that when our exiled friend appeared within
British precincts, the police who might become aware of it should not have
a right of reward as against us, who brought him within their range.
The Government took time to consider the proposition. The sagacious
Home Secretary surmised some plot, and Mr. H. Waddington, writing from
"Whitehall, June 18, 1858," told us that " he was desired by Mr. Secretary
Walpole to inform us that the reward of two hundred pounds offered by the
Government in the case referred to by us had not been withdrawn."
This was so far assuring—the money was to be had if we could induce Mr.
Walpole to sign a cheque for it.
My friend the "Man in the Street" (the writing name in the
Morning Star of Mr. Langley) took steps in his way, and I in mine,
to cause Mr. Walpole to know that the object of the application made to
him was simply the return home of the political wanderer in whom the
Government had taken such complimentary but mistaken interest. Mr.
Milner Gibson put one of his skilful questions in the House of Commons.
Mr. William Coningham, M.P. for Brighton, always for justice, spoke
with Mr. Walpole. In twenty-four days Mr. Waddington wrote a much
more intelligent and satisfactory letter, thus:—
July 12, 1858.
am directed by Mr. Secretary Walpole to inform you that, since the date of
my answer to your application, the law officers of the Crown have been
consulted and have expressed the opinion that it is not advisable to take
any further steps in the prosecution in question. The Government
have consequently determined to put an end to the proceedings against that
gentleman and to withdraw the offer of a reward of £200 for his
apprehension.—I remain, Gentlemen, your obedient servant, H. WADDINGTON.
"Mr. G. J. Holyoake—Mr. J. B.
This letter was a charter of freedom. Mr. Walpole, in his
gentlemanly way, so intended it. It was explicit and complete.
We have had Home Secretaries and Irish Secretaries who would have gone so
far as to say that the reward was withdrawn, and have kept silence as to
whether other "proceedings" might or might not take place at the
discretion of the Government. The terms of our letter of inquiry as
to the reward would have been answered and no more. All the
requirements of cold, contemptuous, red-tape courtesy would have been
fulfilled, and we could have made no complaint. Besides, Mr. Walpole
was under no necessity of showing civility to one reputed to be a friend
of Orsini and Dr. Bernard, however distinguished his social position might
be. In the opinion of Mr. Walpole's class, insolence would not only
have been condoned, it would have been applauded, as we have since seen
with Irish gentlemen. Silence as to future proceedings would have
been thought politic. The Emperor of the French had his views of the
affair; and silence as to whether "further steps were put an end to" would
have amounted to an unexpressed ticket-of-leave, without incurring the
odium of formally issuing it, although no trial had been held and no
verdict of guilty given. Dr. Bernard's friend, as a gentleman of
independent spirit, would have still remained under accusation and must
have stayed abroad. But this was not Mr. Walpole's way. He did
not agree with us on any question of opinion or politics, but he was a man
of honour—an adversary of generous instinct—and his letter was a charter
of acquittal. Withdrawing the reward, he withdrew the charge.
And the exile returned to England, and dwelt many years in the land with
LORD PALMERSTON AND FEARGUS O'CONNOR'S SISTER.
LORD PALMERSTON was a Minister
for whom I had respect without sympathy. He was without prejudice,
and without enthusiasm. Mr. Cobden said of him he was absolutely
impartial, having no bias, not even towards the truth. This was not
a general estimate of him, but provoked by an incident as to what Mr.
David Urquhart called the "falsification of the Burnes despatches."
Personally Lord Palmerston was capable of generous things, but in politics
he was a Minister of the stationaries, and for years was kept in office by
Whig and Tory, because he could be trusted not to do anything. He
never said he was the enemy of reform, but he never "felt like" promoting
The author of no great measure, the advocate of no great
cause; like the singer, the dancer, and the actor, Lord Palmerston's
genius was personal, and died with him. His power of waiting was
something like Talleyrand's. He became great simply by living long
and keeping his eyes open. His length of days was an advantage to
him in diplomacy, as he knew all the tricks of two generations of
intriguers all over the world, and had Palmerston any passion for the
service of the people he had opportunities to do them good. His face
was wrinkled with treaties. If pricked, he would have bled
The best thing ever said of him was that foreign tyrants
hated him. It was not clear in his day why they did. The
reason being he was seldom ready to befriend them. He caused the
recognition of Louis Napoleon's usurpation which disgraced England and set
France against us. Yet Palmerston had merits which those whose
aspirations he opposed were unable to estimate, or Mr. Gladstone would not
have esteemed him so highly as he did. It was brought against him by
Liberal leaders abroad, that he held out to them hopes of assistance, but
rendered none when the time for it came. Still it was to his credit
that he had diplomatic sympathy with their aims. It was seldom they
found that in an English Foreign Minister. Any foreign leaders whom
I knew, who spoke to me on the subject, I warned against expecting
anything more than sympathy (and they might be glad if they got that), as
the Foreign Office was quite independent of the people, and very often a
generous Minister could not, under dynastic restraints, do what he wished.
About 1838 I was asked to join a political society which met
at Mr. Jenkinson's (No. 6, Church Street, Birmingham), a bookseller
and politician. It proved to be a Foreign Affairs Committee,
established by David Urquhart. The object of the society I found to
be to cut off Lord Palmerston's head. Things were bad among workmen
in those days, and I had no doubt somebody's head ought to be cut off, and
I hoped they had hit upon the right one. The secretary was a
Chartist leader named Warden, who ended by cutting his own head off
instead, which showed confusion of ideas by which Lord Palmerston
profited. Poor Warden cut his own throat. He was a man of
ability, and had a studious mind. He gave me a volume of the
speeches of Demosthenes, which he often read. It bore his name
written in a neat hand. Lord Palmerston was not to be assassinated,
but "impeached" in a constitutional way, and the block at the Tower was to
be looked up, and the too long disused axe was to be furbished and
sharpened for the occasion. This was my first introduction to
Lord Palmerston always had an airy indifference of manner—Punch
drew him with a straw in his mouth, as though he regarded politics from a
sporting point of view. Buoyancy was his characteristic.
Shortly before his death, when he was more than 80, I watched him crossing
Palace Yard, one summer evening, when the House was up early. Cabs
were running about wildly, but he dodged them with agility, and went on
foot to Cambridge House, in Piccadilly, where he resided.
This notice of Lord Palmerston is, of course, confined to
matters of personal knowledge, or of the influence he exercised on
agitations in which I was concerned or interested. Cobden warned all
reformers anxious for an extension of the franchise that nothing would be
done while Lord Palmerston lived. There was no hope until heaven
called him away. When at length he died, I wrote that "the political
atmosphere was fresher, if not sweeter." The Reform Club draped
itself in black as his remains passed by its doors. The Carlton Club
might have done this consistently. The Princess of Wales sat at the
window of St. James's Palace, next her own house, to see the
Premier's funeral pass. How they bury public men in Denmark I know
not. She could not be favourably impressed with the English way.
A dreary, ugly hearse, with horses carrying on their ribs a tinfoil,
gingerbread-painted plate of the Palmerston arms, was the tinsel centre of
the pageant—not inappropriate considering the noble lord's career as far
as the people were concerned.
He learnt from Lord Melbourne the art of doing nothing.
Melbourne valued most those advisers who could show him how a public
question could be let alone. Palmerston had the merit in his turn of
impressing Disraeli with the advantage of gaiety in politics. The
rich were glad to have reform put back with a jest, but working men had
not the same reason for satisfaction.
Towards the end of his life, Lord Palmerston was invited to
Bradford to lay the foundation-stone of the new Exchange. On that
occasion, the working men were desirous of presenting an address to him,
upon their wish for an extension of the franchise. Mr. Ripley,
chairman of the Exchange Committee, utterly ignorant of Lord Palmerston's
nature, refused to permit any approach to him. The worst enemy of
Lord Palmerston could not have done him a worse service. Nothing
would have pleased him better than to have met a working-class deputation.
His personal heartiness, his invincible temper, his humour and ready wit
would have captivated the working men, and sent them away enthusiastic,
although without anything to be enthusiastic about.
At that time, 1864, I was editing the English Leader,
read by many working-class leaders in Bradford. What I could do by
articles and lectures in the town to encourage them to maintain public
silence on Lord Palmerston's visit I did. They put out an address in
which they told the people that more was involved in the visit than the
ceremony of laying a foundation stone.
"The principal actor," they said, "being no less a personage
than the Prime Minister of England, the working classes will be expected,
by the promoters of the visit, to assemble in thousands, and give his
lordship welcome—receiving him with plaudits without a thought as to
whether the object of their homage is a friend or foe to their just rights
and privileges. But will it be wise on your part—who are as yet
unenfranchised, and mainly so through the influence of this Minister's
antagonistic policy—to greet him with demonstrations of gladness? What has
he ever done to merit it? Nothing. Then reserve your enthusiastic
cheers for such men as have with talent and influence—on the platform and
by the pen—advocated your social and political advancement in society as a
class. Working men, would it not be more manly and becoming to
exhibit, in some measure, your disappointment at the manner in which your
claims have been received—not by hisses and groans—but by a dignified and
significant abstinence from all cheering, or other noisy demonstrations of
This was a remarkable address. I urged adherence to
this policy, saying, "The middle-class cannot cheer like the people.
Gentlemen never do it well; they don't think it respectable. It is
contemptuously said that the working class will cheer anybody, and Lord
Palmerston is just the man to make an argument against the people, if they
run after him. He is sure to say that 'they receive him with
acclamations as they do Mr. Gladstone; that their voices go for nothing,
for they have not the self-respect to keep their mouths shut, or sense to
tell a friend who would give them a right from one who will give them
Bradford men did act on the advice given them. There
were said to be 30,000 in the streets. The Exchange Committee, and
friends of their way of thinking, did set up a cheer for Lord Palmerston,
but, not being taken up by the people, it had a faint-hearted effect, and
soon ceased. Lord Palmerston, as Mr. W. E. Forster afterwards told
me, was "touched and pained" at standing as it were alone in that vast and
voiceless crowd. No hissing or groans would have produced such an
effect. Hooting would have called forth counter-cheers, which would
have been magnified in the press into effective applause. Silence
could not be misrepresented.
Lord Palmerston, apart from Liberalism, had popular
qualities. He had boldness and common sense. No Minister save
himself had ever told the Scotch elders that it was useless to proclaim a
public fast to arrest the cholera until they had cleaned the city.
He thought more of scavengers' shovels than bishops' prayers.
In anything I wrote of him it was always owned that he had
generous personal qualities which adversaries might trust. On one
occasion I wrote to him, informing him "there was a Miss O'Connor living,
a sister of Feargus O'Connor, and the only survivor of the family.
She had more eloquence than her brother, but the poor lady was in very
straitened circumstances; and although Feargus O'Connor often denounced
his lordship, I believed he would not remember that against his sister in
her day of need. It would he regarded as a very generous thing by
the Chartists if his lordship would advise her Majesty to accord some
slender pension to Miss O'Connor."
She had written to me at times, by which means I became
incidentally aware of her necessitous condition. My friend Mr.
Thornton Hunt conveyed my letter to Lord Palmerston, who kindly sent me
word that "though it was not in his power at that time (the appointments
of the Civil List being made for the year) to propose a pension, yet if
the gift of £100 would be acceptable to Miss O'Connor, that sum should be
at her disposal."
I sent her the letters, which otherwise I should quote here.
I never heard further from her. The poor lady often changed her
address. Whether the letters ever reached her—whether she died in
the meantime—whether she accepted the offer and informed Lord Palmerston
privately of it as I advised her, I never heard. But Lord
Palmerston's generosity is a matter I record in his honour.
It was on Thornton Hunt's representation that Lord Palmerston
agreed to procure me a seat in Parliament. He said "he knew Mr.
Holyoake would often vote against him, but at the same time he should find
in him a fair adversary." Lord Palmerston's object was to show that
a working-class representative could be brought into Parliament, and
therefore there was no necessity for a Reform Bill for that purpose.
Lord Palmerston's death prevented him carrying his intention into
execution. Therefore I had reasons personally to respect Lord
Palmerston. But respect does not imply coincidence of opinion, and
it was on public grounds of political policy alone that I ever wrote
dissenting words concerning him. He had secular views which I could
well agree with. When Sir James Graham spoke in the China debate of
the approval of conscience and the ratification of a Higher Power, Lord
Palmerston declared that for his own part he did not look so far, and was
content with the support of that House. This was the real
Palmerston. The approval of conscience was always to be regarded,
but he took a just view when he suggested that peace or war was better
determined in Parliament by human than by ecclesiastical considerations.
THOMAS SCOTT—THE FRIEND OF BISHOP COLENSO.
ONE morning, at the Reception Room we kept at 147, Fleet Street, a
gentleman was announced who wished to see me. He was a tall man, of
military bearing, with a long
grey beard, abundant hair, and a voice of explosive power. It was
Mr. Thomas Scott, then of Ramsgate, well known among scholars for his
attainments in Hebrew literature.
After some conversation on means of circulating works of theological
criticism he was issuing, he said, with a pleasant frankness which I
afterwards knew to be
characteristic, "I had a great repugnance to meeting you, but I have come
at the suggestion of Bishop Colenso. I was making in his presence some
remarks against you,
when the bishop said, 'You go and see Holyoake; you will find the devil
is not so black as he is painted.'" In those days I was commonly thought
of under some Satanic
similitude, and Bishop Colenso was the first ecclesiastic who suggested an
abatement in the colour. I suppose I fulfilled the bishop's forecast
in point of hue, as Mr. Scott's
acquaintance passed into friendship which only ended with his death; and
many were the happy days I spent when his guest at his home in Ramsgate
and Norwood, which Mrs. Scott made enchanting to all visitors.
Mr. Scott, I understood, had been employed in some military capacity among
North American Indians. He told me he had camped out for two years at a
sleeping in a house. The son of a Scotch professor of great learning, he
had Hebrew in his blood, and when he came home he was a Tory in politics
and a Liberal in religion. Dr. Colenso had so much confidence in his critical erudition that he
submitted the proofs of his celebrated works to him. Mr. Scott presented
to me a bound volume of proof
sheets which he had corrected or revised for the bishop.
When Bishop Colenso went down to Claybrook, in Leicestershire, to preach,
the then Bishop of Peterborough (the predecessor of Dr. Magee) sent an
inhibition. Mr. Scott,
who was skilled in things ecclesiastical, was waiting in the churchyard
the arrival of the inhibition. The bishop's messenger did not appear until
Sunday morning, shortly
before the service would commence. Mr. Scott met him and demanded the
inhibition from him. Whether, from Mr. Scott's magisterial manner or
authoritative voice—for he had
the appearance of one of the Sanhedrim—the messenger thought he was
Bishop Colenso, or an official representative thereof, was never known,
but he at once handed the inhibition to Mr. Scott, who dismissed him and put the document in his
pocket. As Bishop Colenso found the inhibition never came, he preached in
due course. The inhibition
would have been respected had it been delivered; but as it was not, the
Bishop of Peterborough could do nothing against Dr. Colenso. All the
bishop could learn was that his messenger had delivered his inhibition to
a gentleman whom he supposed to be authorised to receive it, and who
neglected to deliver it to Dr. Colenso until after the sermon
had been delivered. Dr. Colenso knew nothing of it until after, and was no
party to its being intercepted.
Mrs. Scott, who was in earlier years a ward of Mr. Scott, was a lady of
singularly bright ways—and the aptest, most indefatigable post parcel
maker in the world. The
innumerable pamphlets issued from their house were mostly made up by her.
No committee could have conducted the remarkable propagandist bureau Mr. Scott
administered. He being a gentleman, writers with a secret as to their
authorship could trust him, when a committee, however honourable, could
not command the confidence
which was accorded unhesitatingly to one. He was an institute in himself. Ecclesiastics (Bishop Hinde was one) professors, and others to whom it was
not convenient to give
their names to the public, wrote for him. His house was a theological
pamphlet manufactory. Ladies were among his contributors. In some cases
atheists wrote, whose names it would not have been prudent in Mr. Scott to print, as their
arguments on independent subjects would have been misjudged. Mr. Scott
himself was an ardent,
unswerving Theist. His own works were as remarkable as any he published
from the pens of others. He issued more than two hundred separate works to
of them mean or unimportant. The whole constituted a pamphlet library of
controversy never equalled.
Mr. Scott died, and no successor has appeared. As the wise adviser and
intrepid friend of Bishop Colenso, he will long live in the memory of all
who knew how great his
services were. To others, the old warrior devoting his years to scholastic
research and criticism, with the enthusiasm of a young professor, will be
a singular figure. He was
the greatest propagandist by pamphlets of his own origination ever known
to me, in reading or experience.
HOW BISHOP COLENSO BECAME CONVERTED.
ON one or two occasions I met Bishop Colenso. His earnest, alert,
inquiring demeanour, his frankness and tolerance would suggest to any one
that he was for truth first and
John William Colenso
One Sunday night I was lecturing at the Hall of Science, City Road. At the
conclusion notice was given out that it was expected Bishop Colenso would
speak in that place
next Sunday. He had been invited to lay his views before the audience
assembling there. Simple as a child in matters of duty, he was ready to
vindicate his views before any
whom he supposed to be earnest inquirers. He never counted the risks; he
never thought of them. Though he rejected the literary and arithmetical
errors of the Scriptures, he
was deeply Christian, while the audience he would have met were not so. I
at once said it would be unfortunate for the bishop's cause if he came
there, and I wrote and told
him so. The Hall of Science had an atheistic reputation, and his enemies,
who were then very fierce against him, would never dissociate his
appearance at the Hall of
Science from sympathy with the far-reaching heresy promulgated in it. It
would have been a distinction to the side to which I belonged that the
bishop should appear
among us, but it would not have been generous in us to have permitted it
at his peril. The audience, I was glad to see, thought so too.
The bishop sent me a brief note of thanks, and did not appear there.
He may have had this incident in his mind when he told Mr. Scott that I was a
paler sort of Satan than I
was usually represented to be.
Or Bishop Colenso may have had in memory an earlier incident. When he was
appointed to the See of Natal, he selected (I forget how it came to pass)
an intelligent Secular
carpenter and frequent correspondent of the Reasoner—Robert Ryder— to go
out and build his church and school-house. Mr. Ryder, when I first knew
him, was employed at
New Leeds, near Bradford. He afterwards came to London, and kept a small
inn off Gray's Inn Road, which he gave up to go to Natal. As Ryder had
never been abroad, he
asked my advice as to going, and I encouraged him to accept the Natal
engagement. He had become acquainted through the Reasoner with Herbert
Spencer's writings, and
was his earliest disciple whom I knew. His fascination was the first
edition of "Social Statics." It was to him as a new Gospel. He had a copy
with him wherever he went. Its
contents had coloured his mind, and he took the book with him to Natal. He
was in the bishop's employ several years, and sent me photographs which he
had taken of the
actual Zulus who were said to have converted the bishop, long before any
such conversion was heard of in England. This English carpenter and
builder was an agnostic, an
enthusiast, and a ready disputant. Zulus were workers under him, and the
bishop saw them daily and conversed with them as to their religious views,
so far as they had any.
They were very shrewd and good at argument, as the bishop admits in one of
his works. My friend told me that the Zulus used to remark upon the fact
that the bishop had a
room built in the rear of the church, in which he stored an
eighteen-pounder. They knew what that cannon was for, and they thought
that the bishop, fair-spoken as he was,
did not place his ultimate reliance on the "Good Father " in whom he told
them to trust.
Afterwards the bishop's builder came to consider that his contract was not
fairly fulfilled by the bishop, and sent me particulars for publication in
the Reasoner. I endeavoured
to dissuade him from an action at law which he contemplated. Being a
mathematician, the bishop was more likely to be right in matters of charge
than he. Besides, the
bishop was a gentleman as well as a Christian, and therefore to be
trusted. Further, it would be a scandal for a Secularist to go to law with
a good bishop, who had incurred
the enmity of his order by his splendid tolerance. It came to pass
that Mr. Ryder had to sue the bishop, when occurred the only instance in which
the bishop displayed the
prejudice and injustice too often the characteristics of his profession.
It was years before Bishop Colenso's criticisms of the Old Testament were
"noised abroad," when my friend Robert Ryder became his mechanical manager
of works in the
diocese of Natal. Mr. Ryder, in a letter which I published in the Reasoner
in June, 1858, said:—
"I am the same R. R. I was when you knew me in England. I have laboured
for the last three years to prove that it is possible for an atheist
(so-called), holding extreme
speculative views, to work with a party, for a secular object, whose views
are diametrically opposed to mine. I endeavour to prove in my own person
that duty, faithfulness,
and honesty are moral qualities independent of creed. I have risen to the
highest honour and confidence my employer can bestow upon me—not for what
I believe, but for what
I have done, and the manner in which I have served the mission in general. The bishop is quite familiar with my views, but he is one of those noble
men who adorn Christianity
by his consideration, his kindness, his life, and his freedom from all
intolerance. He often comes to get one of your works out of my library. I
have my esteemed employer's
certificate that I have served the cause well, and faithfully discharged
my duties for three years, and am going on for two more years. I have been
entrusted with thousands of
pounds. I have built three churches, three schools, a corn-mill, a 20-feet
water wheel fitted up with lathes and smithy, potter's wheel, and simple
machines; also an industrial
training school for the natives, one hundred of whom we have in training,
chiefly young boys. We do not attend much to the old ones. I brought a
brick and tile machine from
England, with which we have made about a million bricks. The natives have
made a great number by hand, a thing they never did before. I am now
building the Bishop's Palace, 120 feet frontage, with two wings of 80 feet
each, in the Elizabethan style of architecture."
This passage is interesting as showing how early and to how great an
extent the bishop provided, not only for the spiritual, but for the
material comfort and education of the
Zulus. In publishing Mr. Ryder's letter, I divested it of all names and
allusions by which any readers in England could connect it with the Natal
Mission. A letter from Brazil
and one from Mexico, equally divested of personal references, had brought
my correspondents trouble. Therefore no mention was made of any place in
Africa, and, as there
was no reason to suppose that the Reasoner circulated there, it was
concluded that any person referred to was sufficiently protected.
However, the Rev. Calvert Spensley,
being in England, called at the Reasoner office and purchased some
numbers, one of them containing the letter in question. He
recognized that the scene of Mr. Ryder's
work was at Ekukanyeni, and sent the letter in the Reasoner to the editor
of the Natal Mercury, who reprinted it under the imaginative title of
"Atheistic Socialism in Natal." Mr. Ryder had been before described by the editor of the
Mercury as "the
bishop's very liberal-minded, shrewd, and independent agent." All
that could be brought against Mr.
Ryder was that in 1848 he had been on a deputation to Paris to
congratulate the Government on the establishment of the "Republic
Democratic and Social." The bishop was
now assailed for employing such an agent, and charged with disseminating
"Atheistic Socialism." Not a thought was given nor a word of
consideration said that Mr. Ryder
had, in spite of his convictions, generously devoted himself to aiding the
mission work and in increasing its reputation and influence by building
the churches and schools, all
the while keeping silence on his own opinions that the bishop and his work
might not be compromised.
The Rev. C. Spensley was engaged upon a rival Dissenting Mission, and his
party naturally took pleasure in disparaging the Church Mission; but it
was not justifiable to do it
by untrue and venomous accusation.
Mr. Ryder defended himself in a clear, manly letter in the
Natal Star. He
said: "I have never made a profession of atheism. I engaged to the
Bishop of Natal as mechanical
manager to the Mission. My labours have been perfectly secular, having
nothing whatever to do with either Theism or Atheism. Neither have I taken
any part in matters political or religious, private or public, or sought
to obtrude any views of mine on those subjects since I came to this
He accounted for the hostility of the Natal Mercury, the organ of the
Dissenting Mission, by stating that the editor had made overtures to join
the Church, and "offered himself
to the bishop body, soul, and paper," which being refused, the editor was
The rival mission succeeded in doing the Church Mission some harm.
As soon as Mr. Ryder's letter to the Reasoner appeared in the colony—in
which letter Mr. Ryder had
said "the Zulus had intelligence, truth, probity, and chastity, all the
virtues of the Christian nations without their vices, and he did not see
what Christianity could do for them"—the bishop discharged him, lest the Church Mission should suffer;
and Mr. Ryder was obliged to appeal to the law to recover the claim he had
against the bishop. The decision was given in Mr. Ryder's favour. The bishop then appealed against
it and lost. The judges confirmed the decision in favour of his late
agent. An attempt was made to disqualify Mr. Ryder's evidence by reason of his opinions, but his word
was believed against the bishop. The judge who gave the judgment of the
court said: "If I followed feeling and class prejudice, I should
decide in favour of the educated man of my own class, rather than for the
uneducated man Ryder. But justice stands in the way."
Ryder had no written engagement, but his character went with his word.
It is singular that the bishop, whose characteristic was just-mindedness,
should have been unfair to one who was not a Theist. He was prejudiced
against heresy when he
was ignorantly described as having sympathy with it. He afterwards saw,
when Christian persecution befel him, that truth and fairness often
co-existed in persons who did not
hold his theistical belief—from which belief he never departed himself.
Mr. Ryder had seen frequent accounts and quotations in
the Reasoner of Lieut. Lecount's "Hunt after the Devil," and probably had the book in his
library. There was nothing
about the "Devil" in Lecount's three volumes, which were filled with
calculations of the dimensions of the ark, with reference to its required
capacity. The chief statements of
the Old Testament which could be tested by figures, Lecount, being a great
mathematician, had presented with an originality and vividness not before
shown. If the bishop
had not seen the book, it was a remarkable coincidence that he should go
over the same ground in the same way, applying the same methods, and
arriving at similar results.
Any reader of this chapter will see the bishop had ample means of becoming
acquainted with the intellectual difficulties of heretics. Being himself
arithmetician, the investigation by which he became distinguished was
natural to him, and it was quite out of the line of any Zulu to suggest
it. The Zulus were strongest
concerning the difficulties of Theism; but the bishop was never in any
degree moved by their arguments, except so far as their intelligence and
earnestness may have inspired
him with tolerance and respect for extreme difference of belief. The Zulus
had a quick sense of moral preception, of the discrepancies between
profession and practice, but
these were points upon which the bishop did not deal in his Pentateuchal
criticisms. He dwelt mainly with intellectual and scientific objections.
When his first volume on the Pentateuch came out it was
said of him—
"To Natal, where savage men so
Err in faith and badly live,
Forth from England went Colenso,
To the heathen light to give.
But, behold the issue awful!
Christian, vanquished by Zulu,
Says polygamy is lawful,
And the Bible isn't true!"
The bishop had not said this, but it was quite as near to the truth as
clerical criticism usually gets on its first effort. Dr. Cumming was one
of his adversaries. He was an
ingenious prophet who predicted the end of the world in a certain year,
and at the same time negotiated a lease of his house for a much longer
period, whereby he obtained a
reduction of rent to which he was not morally entitled. He issued some
frenzied pamphlets entitled "Moses right, Colenso wrong," which I
answered by another series
entitled "Cumming wrong, Colenso Right; by a London Zulu." Bishop
Colenso certainly showed that an educated Christian gentleman, who had
sympathy for the people and
a genial toleration of the pagan conscience, could do much for their
elevation in the arts of life.
The bishop took his beautiful electrical apparatus and delivered lectures
with experiments in Natal to the great delight of the Zulus, who in their
grateful and appreciative way
called him Sokululeka, Sobantu, "Father of raising up"—"Father of the
People." No Zulu heart would apply such honouring words towards Dr. Cumming, whose divinity was a
snarl and his orthodoxy a sneer. One day I sent the bishop a set of the
pamphlets I had written in reply to his adversary. Here in his answer
dated from Pendyffryn, Conway, July 25, 1 863:
"DEAR SIR,—I am much obliged by your note. I enclose a letter from
Professor Kuenen, of Leyden, which you may like to see. He ranks not
merely among the first—but, I believe, as the first—of living
Biblical critics, and treats my book rather differently from Dr. Cumming
and Co.—Faithfully yours, J. W. NATAL."
The bishop also sent me the third part of his "Examination of the
Pentateuch" on its publication.
Next to Hue and Gabet's Travels in Tartary, Bishop Colenso's " Ten Weeks
in Natal " is the most alluring missionary book I ever read. Had
ecclesiastical appointments gone
by merit in Colenso's time, he would have been made Archbishop of
Canterbury, as he had more learning and more Christianity, in the best
sense of the term, than any
contemporary prelate. With noble self-sacrifice he ended his days among
the Zulu people. He was the friend of their kings—he was ceaseless in
pleading for justice to
Cetewayo. He was the only bishop for centuries who won the love of a
Mr. Ruskin, whose regard is praise, presented his large diamond to the
Natural History Museum on the condition that the following words should
always appear on the label descriptive of the specimen:—"The Colenso
diamond, presented in 1887 by John Ruskin in honour of his friend, the
loyal and patiently adamantine first Bishop of Natal."
LORD COLERIDGE AND THOMAS HENRY BUCKLE.
Mr. JUSTICE ERSKINE, in his address to me, said in 1841, that "the arm of
the law was not stretched out to protect the character of the Almighty. The law did not assume
to be a protector of God." But he used it so all the same. His words,
however, admitted that blasphemy, as respects Deity, is not a crime which
the law takes cognizance
of. Blasphemy is only a secular concern, a crime that affects the
peace and taste of society.
Blasphemy is an erminic creation. In the eyes of a Theistical moralist,
orthodox Christianity is blasphemy of a bad kind. Yet a judge seldom
considers that the conscience of
an atheist is outraged by ordinary Christian language. Usually the judge
protects Christians alone, and, according as he is bigoted or tolerant
himself, his definition of
blasphemy is malignant or generous. In cases of opinion judges make the
law, and when a Lord Chief Justice is tolerant it is fortunate, since his
judgment becomes a
precedent which minor judges respect. Lord Coleridge, in giving
judgment on certain publications two or more years ago alleged to be
blasphemous, said to the jury:—
"If the law as I laid it down to you is correct—and I believe it has
always been so;  if the decencies of controversy are observed,
fundamentals of religion may be
attacked, without a person being guilty of blasphemous libel.
There are many great and grave writers who have attacked the foundations of
Christianity. Mr. Mill undoubtedly
did so; some great writers now alive have done so too; but no one can
read their writings without seeing a difference between them and the
incriminated publications, which I am obliged to say is a difference not of degree, but of kind. There is a
grave, an earnest, a reverent, I am almost tempted to say a religious tone
in the very attacks on
Christianity itself, which shows that what is aimed at is not insult to
the opinions of the majority of Christians, but a real, quiet, honest
pursuit of truth. If the truth at which
these writers have arrived is not the truth we have been taught, and
which, if we had not been taught it, we might have discovered, yet,
because these conclusions differ from ours, they are not to be exposed to
a criminal indictment. With regard to these persons, therefore, I
should say, they are within the protection of the law as I
This judgment gives protection against Christian penalties to such writers
as Buckle, Carlyle, Harriet Martineau, Huxley, Tyndall, Morley, and
Spencer. It is the amplest Charter of Free Discussion yet
promulgated on high authority in any nation or in any country.
One day Mr. William Coningham, then M.P. for Brighton, took me to call on
Thomas Henry Buckle, who was residing with his mother in Sussex Square in
that town. Mr.
Coningham had often spoken to me of Mr. Buckle as one who had long been
engaged on a great work which would make an impression upon the age. It
proved to be the
"History of Civilization," which was afterwards published. It was Sunday
morning when our visit was made. Mr. Buckle wore a light dress; he had a
fresh complexion, a
welcoming manner, and appeared to me as a country squire with unusual ease
and readiness in conversation. He did not give me the impression that he
was a philosopher, a man of ideas, of studious and immense research; but I
knew all this when I subsequently read his review in Fraser's Magazine for May, 1859,
of John Stuart Mill's famous
treatise on "Liberty." After thirty years I have read the review again
with equal wonder and admiration. We have no such reviews in these days. We have writers whose
sentences of light and music linger in the ear of the mind, but we have
none who have Buckle's passionate eloquence and generous eagerness in
defence of unfriended
It was in that review that he animadverted on the trial of Thomas Pooley
before Mr. Justice Coleridge, at Bodmin, in 1857, and on the part taken by
Mr. John Duke Coleridge
(now Lord Chief Justice Coleridge), who was the prosecuting counsel
pleading before his father. I had written a narrative of the career and
trial of Pooley, having been down to Cornwall, at the instance of the
Secularists of that day, to report upon Pooley's case. Mr. J. D.
Coleridge replied to Mr. Buckle in defence of his
father, Sir John Coleridge, and himself, and stated, in his remarks in Fraser's Magazine,
for June, 1859, "that every fact mentioned by Mr. Buckle is to be found n the
aforesaid report, and often nearly in the language of Mr. Holyoake." It was so.
Mr. Mill had mentioned my
name in " Liberty," and that of Pooley, which led Mr. Buckle to inquire of
me what the facts of the
case were. I sent him my published narrative. Though I had been long
before, and was at the time, exposed to a storm of clerical persecution,
no resentment colours that
story. There is no publication of mine which I would more willingly see
reprinted, and by which I would consent to be judged as a controversialist
narrator, than by that. But in any such reprint I should withdraw
the phrases in which I represent that Mr. J. D. Coleridge "concealed facts from the jury," or was otherwise
consciously unfair; nor should I
use the same accusatory words I did in speaking of Sir John Coleridge, the
judge. Afterwards, when the remission of Pooley's sentence was sought, and
the Judge consulted
upon it, he wrote to say that " he saw no reason why Pooley should not
receive a free pardon under the circumstances stated." At the same time he
remarked that he did not
suspect Pooley's insanity, that " there was not the slightest suggestion
made to him" thereunto, nor had he been led to inquire into it, and "he
should have been very glad "
to arrive at the conclusion he was insane and have " directed his
acquittal on that ground." Mr. J. D. Coleridge on his own part said
in his reply to Mr. Buckle: " I took pains to
open the case in a tone of studied moderation. I carefully explained to
the jury that the prosecution was not a prosecution of opinion in any
sense. I mentioned, and I beg their pardon for here repeating, the
names of Mr. Newman, Mr. Carlyle, and Miss Martineau, as persons who maintained what I and others might think
erroneous opinions, but who
maintained them gravely, with serious argument and with a sense of
responsibility, and whom no one would dream of interfering with. I said
that the time was long gone by for
persecution, which I thought as foolish as it was wicked; but that as
liberty of opinion was to be protected, so was society to be protected
from outrage and indecency." This is not only entirely fair; it is a
generous interpretation of freedom of speech, and is consistent with what
Mr. Coleridge, as Lord Chief Justice,
avowed in yet more remarkable
language twenty-six years later. There was no report of the trial. No one
whom I could meet in Cornwall was aware of what had been said to the jury,
and the strange severity
of the sentence hid from my mind the probability of its being said. The
letter of the judge and the speech of the counsel I have quoted show that
I was wrong in saying that
there was a "concealment" of facts, or "shameful reticence" on his part,
or in suggesting conscious unfairness on his father's part. As I am the
only person remaining on Pooley's side, conversant with the facts of the trial as they subsequently
transpired, it is a duty in me to make the correction.
Pooley had no counsel, no friend, and his side was not put before the
court. The Spectator, which in those days was always well informed on
these cases, had the only
report which appeared in the London press; the writer, probably a
barrister present, was struck with the signs of insanity in Pooley.
He remarks, however, that "Mr. Coleridge was quite correct in his
statement of the law as it stood."
My own opinion of the clergy of Liskeard, of public opinion there and in
Bodmin, of the extraordinary indictment, of the lack of discernment in the
jury, and of the strange
extent of the sentence pronounced, remain the same. At the same time, it
must be owned that Pooley's manner of acting, with which, as my narrative
shows, I did not
sympathize and did not conceal, must have set all uninquiring,
unsuspecting persons against him.
Had what I learned of Pooley's life been known to the counsel and judge,
their trial of Pooley would have ended differently. Had I known what
limited knowledge of facts the
court had of Pooley's history, I should have written differently of those
who conducted the trial and decided his fate. It did not seem to me to be
possible that the pathetic
facts of Pooley's life, for fifteen years known to his family, neighbours,
and employers, could be unknown to gentlemen in the same town. It was not
then known to me that
Truth is more lame-stepping than justice, and is very dilatory in making
known what she knows. It was not then known to me that the rich know no
more of the lives of the
poor than persons on land know or care to know of the ways of fish in the
sea. It was not known to me that theological prejudice may so close the
eyes and ears of the mind
that it neither sees nor hears outside itself. It was not known to me
then, as it has been since, that in political warfare educated gentlemen
on one side do not believe in the
integrity of equally educated gentlemen on the other side, and not only
put on their acts a construction never thought of by the actors, but will
report as true the falsest
charges after they have been publicly and often confuted. So I did think,
without misgiving, that the pagan insensibility of Pooley had excited the
indignation of counsel and
judge, and led them to ignore the facts which I supposed them to know.
Mr. Buckle, I doubt not, were he living to revise the statement he made, would
cancel all imputations upon the personal honour or conscious unfairness of
judge or counsel in this case, for Mr. Buckle himself invited all readers
of his to peruse the defence of Mr. J. D.
Coleridge, and he reprinted and circulated the most vehement passages
against himself, and they were hardly less fierce than his own. Mr. Buckle
always had fairness in his
mind, and his publishing and circulating the strongest passages in reply
to himself which his adversary had penned, is a proof of it. Only a candid
man who cared more for
the truth than for himself would do it.
That such a prosecution could take place and such a sentence as that upon
Pooley could be pronounced excited Buckle's generous indignation. His
brilliant defence of the
poor, crazed, but intrepid well-sinker of Cornwall, is the only example in
this generation or this century of a gentleman coming forward in that
personal way, to vindicate the
right of Free Thought in the friendless and obscure. Mr. Mill would
give money, which was a great thing, or use his influence, which was more,
to protect them, but Mr.
Buckle descended personally into the arena to defend and deliver them.
BEQUEST OF A SUICIDE.
IT is the common experience of those who advocate liberty in some new
direction to receive an unforeseen and undesirable adhesion of all the
"cranks," religious, social, and
political, extant in the innovator's day. I mean by a "crank" one who
mistakes his impressions for ideas, or, having ideas resting on proof only
perceived by himself, insists,
in season and out of season, on attention being given to them. He is a
crank, whatever his "views" may be, who persistently claims notice for
them before he has thought
them out to their consequences and described the grounds on which they
rest, so that others can discern and test them. The number of "cranks" are
much larger in most
parties than are supposed.
An innovator who knows his business presents his case as that of reasoned
truth. The "crank," not knowing the justification and conditions of
innovation, rushes at you from
all directions to carry his fad forward. But discrimination is necessary,
lest you repel a thinker who seeks direction or confirmation, which your
experience may afford him.
Sometimes a well-convinced but too ardent pioneer has fallen into evil
environments from which he cannot see his way out. Among these was
Bombardier Thomas B. Scott,
7th Battery, 8th Brigade, Royal Artillery, Cove Common, Aldershot. Having
the making of a good soldier in him, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery,
on being assured by the
recruiting officer that he should have the rank and pay of a bombardier
from the date of his entering the service. On this condition he
entered, but he soon found, as Mr.
Bradlaugh found, that faith is not kept with recruits in the army. Scott
found the condition was ignored, and when he complained, he was told it
was unauthorised and used
merely as an inducement for him to enlist. He concluded, therefore,
that as his enlistment was false and a fraud, it was illegal, and he wrote
to Mr. Sydney Herbert, who did
not deny the fraud, but did not redress it. The reply of the Secretary of
War was sent to me, which I returned or I would quote it. It seems strange
that a man of Sydney
Herbert's high character for honour neither accorded censure nor redress
for admitted deceit. Scott's personal character was good, but the position
assigned him was that of
a gunner merely. He was employed as schoolmaster, and received
certificates of competency from the General Inspector of Army Schools,
from two head normal
schoolmasters, and from his colonel, captain, and officers. He was
requested to stand examination as a candidate for a studentcy in the
Military Asylum at Chelsea. He did
so, and passed. He might have risen from the ranks, as was his ambition,
had it not been for his speculative opinions and his untimely zeal. He had
in camp some works I
had written, and others, "Volney's Ruins of Empires" among them. This
becoming known, he was arraigned before his colonel and officers on the
charge of being an
"atheist," though Volney was a Theist. A soldier enlists for the purpose
of being killed, as the exigence or convenience of war may warrant. Scott
did not object to this, and it
does not appear what these officers had to do with a gunner's opinions on
outside questions, entirely apart from his duty; and his trial for the
purely ecclesiastical offence
Scott made the mistake of considering it his duty to do as the apostles
did (which is only counted meritorious in them) of standing by his
opinions. For doing this he was
sent back to do his duty as a gunner, was denied the privilege of entering
the Normal School, and his prospects of military advancement were cut off. This made him
In December the same year (1860) Scott had written to me to advise him as
to some mode of obtaining his discharge; but as I had no means of
procuring funds for that
purpose then, I counselled him to observe circumspection as to his
opinions until he could be bought off. He then, through his captain,
sought to speak to his colonel on the subject of Mr. Sydney Herbert's letter. He was received in a very
forbidding way. The colonel denounced him for his opinions, and told him
that if he would abandon them, he
would do something for him, and further told him that, until he did, he
should not allow him to hold any rank or appointment in the Royal
Artillery. Scott replied that his
convictions were involuntary, which he could not change until stronger
evidence appeared before him; that, if the colonel believed him to be in
error, it was his duty, as a
Christian, to convince him rather than coerce him. Whereupon the colonel
sent for the sergeant-major and ordered him to confine Scott in the
guardroom, and the charge of
insubordination to be entered against him. After two days' imprisonment,
Sunday occurred, and he was marched under guard to church. Scott,
therefore, desired a
communication to be made to the officer in charge to the effect that he
did not wish to enter the church, as his habit was to attend the Wesleyan
Chapel, which he
frequented, as all soldiers are obliged to attend some place of worship. Scott did not refuse to go, but expressed his wish not to go to church,
and claimed liberty of
conscience, as he did not agree with what he should hear in church. Being
offensively addressed by the officer, he refused to go. He was then sent
back into confinement,
and an additional charge of "insubordination" was entered against him. Eventually he was taken before a court martial. Twelve hours prior to his
trial, a copy of the charges
against him was given to him, and he was told to frame his defence, but
was denied writing material. He sent me a very dramatic account, on eight
foolscap pages, of the
whole affair. Around a large table in the mess-room sat three lieutenants,
two captains, one major, and one colonel. On the table lay the Articles of
War, a large Bible, and
Jamison's Code. The officers seized the Bible, and, placing finger and
thumb upon it, each kissed it, like cabmen, and swore to give justice on
all sides, which they could not
intend to do, being a military court without ecclesiastical functions or
Scott found the court martial a mere department of the Church. Every scrap
of evidence was made the most of against him; but when he attempted to
misstatements of his judges, he was put down. He stood up manfully for his
principles, which was considered a new offence. He said he was ready to
render the best
service in his power to her Majesty, and give his life in discharge of his
duty, but his conscience was his honour, and he could not change. They
might drive him to suicide,
but he would not deny his conviction. They did drive him to suicide, which
was discreditable in gentlemen. Scott, on his own showing, spoke very
plainly, and the court
resented his contumaciousness; but they should have remembered that they
had got him into their power by fraud, and after knowing it, they kept him
there. Being an
intelligent, logical-minded man, this injustice preyed upon him. How long
he was imprisoned I never heard. His health was broken, and he became an
inmate of the hospital.
There he had been two months when I next heard of him. He was daily
harassed about his opinions. The doctor, the chaplain, the lieutenant, a
captain's wife, and others
assailed him from time to time. He stated to a Roman Catholic comrade, who
had great regard for him, that he would give four years' service to any
one who would get him
bought out, as I learned afterwards. His own family were unable to do it. He had religious connections better able; but his opinions prevented his
being aided in that
quarter. Solicitous always and to the end that no discredit should come
through him to the cause he espoused, he provided that all his few debts
should be paid. His
prospects in the army ended, friendless and assailed, he died by his own
hand. A faithful comrade of his, having occasion to write to me in 1862,
informed me, in answer to
my inquiry after Scott, that he had long been dead, of which no notice was
sent me, although he had bequeathed what little property he had to me. I
wrote to the colonel of
his troop, and otherwise obtained information of his bequest. On learning
that his family had need of anything he had, I transferred all his
possessions to them, valuing all the
same this proof of the dying regard of which he intended to assure me. Thus closed the career of the brave suicide, who will have no record save
In the Indian mutiny of 1857 the Mahometans would save any one who would
consent to profess himself a Moslem. Those who would not were knocked on
the head. Only
one half-caste saved his life by denying his faith. Mr. A. C. Lyall, an
eminent Indian official, wrote lines of noble praise of their heroic
honesty. One of those who thus died held
the same opinions as poor Scott. In Mr. Lyall's poem he tells of the
honest soldier's convictions and fate:—
"A bullock's death, and at thirty years!
Just one phrase, and a man gets off it.
Look at that mongrel clerk in his tears,
Whining aloud the name of the prophet!
Only a formula easy to patter,
And, God Almighty, what can it matter?
I must be gone to the crowd untold
Of men by the cause which they served unknown,
Who moulder in myriad graves of old,
Never a story and never a stone
Tell of the martyrs who die like me,
Just for the pride of the old countree.
Aye, but the word, if I could have said it,
I by no terrors of hell perplext—
Hard to be silent and get no credit
From man in this world, or reward in the next.
None to bear witness and reckon the cast,
Of the name that is saved by the life that is lost."
These lines may fitly serve as Scott's epitaph. The conscientious heroism
of the heretic is as noble as that of the Christian.
Other soldiers have written to me at times, who had found that
volunteering to fight for the liberty of others did not include freedom
for themselves—not even of their own
VISIT TO A STRANGE TREASURER OF GARIBALDI.
IN the year 1860 I was acting secretary to the
London "Garibaldi Fund Committee." In many towns money was
generously given for "the General," as Garibaldi was popularly and
affectionately called. In some cases money so subscribed was sent to
Garibaldi; in others taken to him, to prevent misadventure. Some
local treasurers neither sent it nor took it. Thus some sums were
lost, and others held back by persons who did not know where to send them
to; and in some cases a treasurer would refuse to part with the funds in
his hands until he was personally and specially certain of its reaching
the General. For the convenience and satisfaction of all who held
funds given for him, Garibaldi appointed Mr. W. H. Ashurst, his personal
friend, as his treasurer. Mr. Ashurst was known in America as well
as England for patriotic services and high character.
In an important town—not Newcastle-on-Tyne and not
Birmingham—it was known that a banker held upwards of £400, which the
General needed, but which never came to hand. I do not mention the
name of the banker, because he was much and justly esteemed for his
personal honour and interest in public affairs. In this narrative I
therefore speak of him as Mr. Marvell, itself an honourable name in
history. Mr. Ashurst wrote to him from 6, Old Jewry, London, E.C.
(April 15, 186 1), saying:—
received on Saturday a despatch from General Garibaldi, from which I beg
to forward you the following extract:—
"'I have already by my last letter requested you to act as treasurer, or
collector-general, in your country, of all monies raised in aid of the
cause of Italy, and subject to my order, and this position I request you
still to hold—advising me as before of the amount in hand, as to the
disposal of which you shall from time to time receive instructions from
"'I now urgently call upon you to let it be known to the various
committees and friends of Italy throughout Great Britain, that funds are
greatly needed to complete the good work of aiding in the emancipation of
those parts of our country which are still subject to priestly misrule and
foreign oppression, and the liberation of which will require all the
efforts of the patriots of Italy.'
"I have the pleasure of bringing this instruction under your notice, and
request that you will forward to me the balance remaining in your hands on
the General Garibaldi account.—I am, dear sir, yours respectfully,
"To D. M., Esq.
W. H. ASHURST."
To this friendly letter the following singular reply was sent, April 17,
have peculiar notions on some subjects, and do not sympathise in all the
views set forth in your favour of the 13th inst.
"We decline to send any contributions to London, as we prefer to act
independently, and shall take our own course when the proper time arrives,
—I am, dear sir, yours faithfully,
It had been known for some time that this gentleman was unwilling to pay
over the money in his hands to the General's treasurer. At length
the London Committee of the "Garibaldi Fund" instructed Captain de Rohan,
the General's aide-de-camp, to ask him for a special authorisation to be
shown for the fuller satisfaction of hesitating and "independent" persons
Mr. Ashurst, on April 25, 1861, wrote again to the banker in question:—
SIR,—I received your letter of
the 17th inst., and communicated its contents to the committee. I
found that they had already communicated with General Garibaldi in order
to obtain from him some authority which should satisfy you as to the mode
in which you should apply the money in your hands collected for him; and
it is now my duty to enclose to you the original authority from General
Garibaldi, received by me this day, to send to me, as his treasurer, the
money you have in hand. I have kept a copy of the authority and of
"In yours of the 17th, acknowledging mine of the 15th, you say that you
'do not sympathise in all the views set forth' in mine of that date.
On reference to my letter you will find I set forth no views, but simply
enclosed you the translation of a letter from General Garibaldi, and
requested you to act upon it.
"To me personally it is of course indifferent what you do with the money
the various contributors have confided to you for the Garibaldi Fund; my
duty is simply to follow out the instructions of General Garibaldi.
"I request the favour of your prompt acknowledgment of this letter,
stating the course you intend to pursue, and remain, dear sir, yours
W. H. ASHURST."
To this Mr. Ashurst received no reply.
Time went on and needs increased, for Garibaldi was still in
the field—but the money came not. Mr. E. H. J. Craufurd, M.P.
for the Ayr Burgh, being the Chairman of the Garibaldi Fund Committee,
then wrote to the banker resenting the distrust and non-compliance of the
request the general treasurer made in the name of the committee. No
notice was taken of this communication, and there was no prospect,
therefore, of obtaining the money. There was no legal remedy, and,
had there been, the committee would not have felt justified in expending
any funds to obtain it. I therefore proposed to the committee that
they should give me 30s., which would be the third class fare to and fro,
to go to the town where the money lay (I paying my personal expenses
myself), and I would collect the money for them. No one thought I
should succeed, but, as they were unable to obtain the money themselves,
leave was given me to try.
On arriving in the town I went to a society of working men,
some of whom had been subscribers to the local fund, and informed them
that the money intrusted to their treasurer had never been paid over,
although a request to do so had reached him from Garibaldi. Then I
asked them to make that fact known to other subscribers. Knowing
members of the congregation where Mr. Marvell worshipped, I asked them
whether it was possible that he could not be a man of good faith, or that
he could have any object in withholding the Italian fund which had been
intrusted to him from the uses for which it had been subscribed. We
could not understand in London why he should disregard the written request
of the General which had been sent him to forward the money to his
treasurer. My calculation was that Mr. Marvell would very shortly
have inquiries addressed to him by persons whose opinions he would not be
likely to disregard. He being mayor of the town, I next communicated
the information to such members of the Town Council as were known to me,
who were promoters of the subscription. They were astonished to
learn that the money was still in Mr. Marvell's hands. I remarked
that we understood him to be a man of unquestionable honour, which they
said was the case. I asked whether it was common in that town for a
banker to withhold money contrary to the wishes of the subscribers;
besides, it was not respectful to Garibaldi (to whom it was due), whose
friend he professed to be.
When I thought that news of these remarks made in the town by
me, as acting secretary of the Garibaldi Committee, who must know what he
was speaking of, had had time to reach the bank, I called there myself,
and asked for an interview with Mr. Marvell, on business of personal
importance. I was told that he was absent at his home, through
indisposition, and I was asked whether it was business the manager could
transact for him. I said I would explain my business to him, and he
might himself judge. I said we understood in London that Mr. Marvell
was a man of honour—that he not only kept public faith, but as a
magistrate was bound to vindicate it. The manager said that was so,
and Wished to know on what ground any question to the contrary could be
raised. I answered that he was aware that his principal was
treasurer to the Garibaldi Fund, and that subscribers in that town
entrusted their money to him in the implicit belief that it would, in
reasonable time, be paid over for the use of the General. But that
was not the case, as several hundred pounds were still detained at that
He admitted that the money was detained there, but said there
were reasons why it had not been paid over. I answered that I knew
that, but I had come down to inquire what those reasons were. Had
not Mr. Marvell received communications from the General authorising and
requesting him to pay all money in his hands for the General's use to his
treasurer in London, Mr. Ashurst? The manager admitted Mr.
Marvell had received them, but he was not satisfied with them. "That
means," I said, "that Mr. Marvell doubts their authenticity. If they
were genuine, he had no choice but to comply with them; and if he thought
they were not genuine, how came it to pass that he had taken no steps in
consequence? If they were not genuine, they were forgeries,
and it was an attempt, being practised upon him, to obtain by forged
documents money in his possession. Yet he had taken no steps to
expose the forgery, or warn the subscribers or the public that he held
proofs of so infamous a proceeding in his hands. The manager looked
a little confused at that aspect of the question. I therefore
added—"You are well aware who the persons are who have sent these
fraudulent communications from the General. One is Mr. W. H. Ashurst,
the Solicitor of her Majesty's Post Office, and the other is Mr. E. H. J.
Craufurd, a member of Parliament, and counsel for the Mint. If they
have taken to forgery, and have acquired such confidence in their success
that they can venture to practise upon a banker and a magistrate, so
distinguished for sagacity and public spirit as Mr. Marvell, that is a
very serious thing, which ought not to be concealed from the public.
The law ought to have been set in motion long ago. The
Attorney-General should have been informed of the proceedings of the
Solicitor of the Post Office, and the Speaker should have been made
acquainted with this conduct of a member of Parliament and counsel for the
Mint. If Mr. Marvell doubted the authenticity of Garibaldi's
communication, he could have sent it to Count Corti, or the Marquis
D'Azeglio, the Italian Minister in London, who knew the General's
handwriting well, and in twenty-four hours Mr. Marvell could have taken
proceedings; but he had, now for two months or more, concealed or condoned
this extraordinary and scandalous forgery. If he would give me Mr.
Marvell's address, I would at once proceed there, and speak to him upon
Upon being informed of his residence, I took a cab and drove
straight to his house in the suburbs, where I was received by Mrs.
Marvell, who informed me that her husband was unwell, and unable to see
visitors. I said in that case I would await his recovery, although
the matter upon which I wished to see him was serious and of public
importance. Upon her remarking that if it were a matter which I
could communicate to her she might, at a convenient opportunity, mention
it to him, I told her precisely what I had told the manager of the bank,
which she appeared to hear with some consternation. I learned by
post shortly after that Mr. Ashurst had received £411 from Mr. Marvell,
the amount of all the subscriptions received by him.
I knew all the while why this banker wished to retain the
money in his hands, until he had opportunity of sending it to the General
himself. It was because he thought Garibaldi might direct its
employment by Mazzini, who was doing everything in his power to send
reinforcements into the field to aid the General. It was Mazzini who
inspired the men who shed their blood under Garibaldi's standard, and not
one sixpence of the money would have been used except in Garibaldi's
service. It was not the province of any treasurer to dictate how
money should be applied which was subscribed for services in Italy, of
which he was merely the custodian, and every hour he withheld it he was in
danger of imperilling Garibaldi's interest and his fortunes in the field.
ARE science and courage a match for overwhelming
strength? Can a man skilled in the art of hand-fighting
overcome an antagonist immensely his superior in stature and power?
I saw this done at Wadhurst in 1863.
J. C. Heenan vs. Tom Sayers, Farnborough, 1860.
After the fight between Sayers and Heenan it became a question whether
Heenan could be beaten. He certainly was not beaten by Sayers.
In his contest with Heenan, Sayers made a high name for English pluck.
Seldom had a short-built David of pugilism undertaken to fight such a
ponderous Goliath of Heenan's altitude. A single blow broke Sayers's
stout arm. Heenan struck like a battering-ram. It implied no
mean skill and pluck in Sayers to parry and return the blows of such a
tremendous assailant for many rounds, in that disabled condition.
Had not the ring been broken by the crowd, Heenan would have killed his
adversary. A subscription was made for Sayers at the House of
Commons, Lord Palmerston subscribing the first guinea. Exhaustive
training, excitement of victory and subsequent excess, have death in them,
and soon laid Sayers low. No contests or feats of great danger ought
to be encouraged. All whose presence incites them are morally
participants in self-murder, disguised as a spectacle in which the actor
kills himself for renown.
Heenan having a name of international repute, I reported the
last of his battles—which was with Tom King—for the Newcastle Daily
Chronicle. Washington Wilks, a journalist whom you could always
trust for chivalry, represented the Morning Star, and we agreed to
go together. I knew Mr. Feist, editor of the Sporting Life,
whose office was next to mine in Fleet Street, and by his invitation we
joined him. From him I obtained a railway ticket to the fight for £2
10s. At that time I was publishing in the English Leader Dr.
Shorthouse's articles on the "Biology and Pedigree of Racing Horses."
The Doctor afterwards continued them under the title of The Sporting
Times. He understood his subject so well that one year he
predicted the winner of the Derby, which no one else foresaw. Dr.
Shorthouse, knowing I had to write an account of the fight while it was
progressing, suggested that I should have a "nurse." On consulting
Feist, he named Johnny Broome as my "nurse," who in consideration of a
guinea, undertook to protect me from molestation probable in that
belligerent society of which I was not a recognised member. The duty
of a "nurse" is to secure you a good place close to the ring and to "punch
anybody's head" who interferes with you. Johnny was himself a
pugilist of renown. Some time later he killed himself, for which I
was sorry, for he was a good fellow according to his calling. He
rode with us to the fight. Feist wore a dark fur cap, which well
became him, and moreover was of excellent service in a blast or a rush.
When, some years later, Sir John Sinclair, M.P., sent me £5 to buy
something I liked, I bought a sealskin cap like Feist's, and had it on
when run over by an omnibus at Charing Cross. It kept well on my
head; had I worn a hat that day it would have fallen off, and getting
under the horses' feet embarrassed them in their friendly efforts not to
tread upon me, in which they succeeded.
It was midnight early in December, 1863, when the fighting
party assembled at the London Bridge railway station. There we hung
about the waiting-rooms until word was given to take the train, which had
glided noiselessly into the station. None of us knew where we were
going. About five o'clock we alighted in Sussex, at a place thought
convenient for the business in hand. A mounted policeman being
observed by the scouts sent out, it was conjectured he might ride for aid
and interfere, so we were recalled to the train and proceeded to Wadhurst,
where we again alighted and started about two miles or more to the
interior. Rain had fallen during the night, and the run over fences,
ditches, and stiles was more diverting than agreeable. We were a
rough, strong-footed gang. The wet, clayey mounds were as slippery
as hillocks of soap, and one or two noblemen, as well as others, were soon
on their knees. A field was chosen and the stakes set. Tom
King, though nearly as tall as Heenan, was but a handsome stripling
compared with him. Both were pallid, and their lips were pale and
bloodless. Experts said they were over-trained. Their flesh
seemed concreted as though no blow could indent it. Heenan won the
toss both for the higher ground and for the shade, and King had to take
the declivity of the field with the sun in his eyes. I had a seat on
the ground next the ring, in the circle of those who had paid for near
places. As the excitement of the fight grew, surrounding spectators
pressed down, and would have trampled on me had not the vigilant eyes of
Johnny Broome been upon them, who passed the word that he was "nursing"
me. That was sufficient to the wise, who knew they would have to
answer to him on the spot if they incommoded me. And those who were
not wise soon became so when they were subjected to a volley of Johnny's
threats, expressed in the minatory language of the Prize Ring.
Otherwise I could not have maintained my place when the fury of the fight
became contagious. At first King merely sparred at his great
antagonist, dancing round him, alluring him to parts of the ring in
shadow. This lasted some minutes. At last King struck Heenan a
series of blows on mouth and face with a rapidity the like of which I had
never seen. Heenan was not dazed, but amazed. Before he could
get his elephantine arms into play he was again and again subjected to a
rain of blows, resembling the Chinese punishment with the flat bamboo, in
which short, rapid strokes produce intensity of effect. These King
delivered in showers, and leaped back like a kangaroo, and Heenan was
never able to retaliate effectually. The monster could have knocked
his assailant over the ropes into the adjoining field could he have got a
fair blow at him. But the nimble King took care this chance should
not occur. Never was a more majestic figure than Heenan beheld in
the ring; such splendour of strength I have never seen since in combat.
As he stood up, his broad chest and massive arms were defiant, and more so
his mien, as, raising erect his colossal frame, he planted his spiked
boots well in the grass and strode down like a buffalo to his adversary,
with conscious pride of power and contempt for his foe. Up till the
seventh round he smiled as he met King; but it was observed then that his
smile was a squirm, as his mouth was so swollen that the laughing-lip was
no more in use; but his savage courage kept him from knowing it.
After this Heenan commenced his native mode of fighting. After the
battle with Sayers he said he would never again be fettered by English
rules, in which his prairie prowess could not express itself. His
policy was to seize his opponent, crush like a boa constrictor the
strength out of him, throw him down, and fall upon him with his elbow on
his neck. He did this. No doubt he could kill any single
antagonist who was unable to evade his strong grip. He rushed on
King, and compressed him under his arm. King was entirely helpless.
He fibbed away with one arm at Heenan's back in a feeble, ineffectual way.
He was thrown down and fallen on. When he was picked up his face was
black. Heenan had beaten him. King could not be brought up to
time. But "time" was not called according to rule. He was
given more. The barbaric restoratives of the ring were applied, when
he reappeared before his foe alert as a fox. Before long Heenan
became blinded by King's incessant blows. By the sixteenth round we
were all excited. We of the inner circle sat on the ground that the
outer crowd might the better see. But the fury of the battle took
possession of us. We all arose. When the combatants were on my
side of the ring it seemed as though they would fall over the ropes upon
us. Both fighters were raging, especially King, probably from spirit
given him, but more from the madness of battle. His eagerness to get
at his opponent was such that his feet were on the knees of his second and
he sat upon his shoulder. Instead of being behind, he was now ready
before his time. Cans of water were thrown in their faces to refresh
Heenan's eyes and enable him to see King. By this time Heenan fought
wildly. His senses were going under the fierce unparried blows of
King. The Jupiter of the Prize Ring was beaten: overwhelming
strength was defeated by science which waited for its chance and knew how
to profit by it.
By that time some policemen were on the ground, more anxious
to witness the fight than to prevent it. They were too few to stop
it, and they were told it would all be over before they could collect aid,
which they were quite willing to believe, and made no attempt to do so.
Subsequently the combatants were tried at the Lewes Sessions, but no
evidence was forthcoming and they were acquitted. Yet there was no
doubt of the fight. Heenan was led by his seconds to the train.
Besides being unable to see his way, his strength had been so reduced that
his arms were supported on the shoulders of his guides. Tom King,
with scarcely a mark upon him, came gaily round the carriage windows to
collect, as is the custom, a present for the loser of the battle. We
made up about £25.
Accustomed to write on the railway, ill boats, in cabs, and
crowds, making on occasion notes on a short man's hat, whom I allowed to
stand on my toes in order to raise himself higher, I had no difficulty in
getting my account of the fight (two thousand words) ready for the
telegraphist when I got to town. It was calculated that two thousand
words were all we could then get over the wires in time for the afternoon
edition. I was the first person at the telegraph office with a
report of the fight. The chief of the department on seeing it, came
to me to ask whether I could allow him to delay sending it on to Newcastle
that he might send it to Windsor, as the Prince of Wales wished to see the
first account of the fight. I answered the report was the property
of the paper I represented; I had no right in its disposal, but had no
doubt Mr. Cowen would himself assent to such an act of courtesy to His
Royal Highness; but I must ask that no other account should be sent
anywhere over the wires until the Chronicle report was despatched.
My condition was assented to, and the Prince first received the
description of the fight, which was at least unlike any other common in
that day, or since. There was no slang of the ring in it, no
technicalities of experts which confuse the general reader. My
object was to give a brief, vivid account of what took place which a
gentleman might peruse, and which would tell the readers of the Chronicle
what actually took place. Prize-fighting is not necessary for the
cultivation of public courage; but of the last fight of Heenan, in which
science was matched against strength, was not without instruction, and not
without national pride in the victory of skill.
To this day I look back with satisfaction to the Titan fight
on that December morning—it was the 10th—on the plateau at Wadhurst.
The passion of Newcastle-on-Tyne is for the oar, the naval sceptre of the
Norse kings, but one cannot carry an oar about for inland defence—hence
the Wadhurst fight had interest on the Tyne. Its purpose, its
swiftness, its pluck were unexampled in my experience. Passion,
pride and power struggled on both sides for mastery; the grand gleam of
disdain and conscious strength which shone in the eyes of the American
Ajax during the earlier rounds was a sight not seen more than once in a
generation. For fighting as Englishmen fight, King was the regal
type. Sayers was King's chief second, who astonished the boxers
present by appearing in a yellow shirt. English prejudice against
anything new at once burst out. The colour was too glaring, but some
distinctive colour was the right thing. But it was jeered down, and
Sayers who never gave in at a blow was beaten by a laugh, and put on a
coat over his yellow shirt. Why should not seconds be distinguished
from the umpire? Were jockies to ride in their daily attire,
the race for the Derby would be as dull as a run of mounted costermongers.
Sayers deserved credit for the sense and courage of his picturesque
device. Sayers died a year or two later, and his colossal dog lay on
his master's rug on his car and was chief mourner at his grave. King
died not long ago, well regarded for his character and accomplishments.
Heenan is no more now, and Ada Isaacs Menken, the dreamy-eyed,
spiritualistic poetess, whom we knew at the exhibition of the Davenport
Brothers, and as "Mazeppa" at Astley's—who was as lovely as she was
dreamy—was personally attached to the Bernicia athlete—is also dead: so is
Feist; and Dr. Shorthouse, for whom I had great regard. He was a
lineal descendant of Dr. Johnson's wife, who was a Shorthouse. He
became an LL.D. as well as an M.D. because he was proud of his descent,
and he wilfully resembled the Doctor in a rough frankness of manner; but
though he had the bear in his speech, he had an angel in his heart.
He practised, when I knew him, at Carshalton, and every poor creature for
miles round could command his services and his medicines, although they
were never able to pay him. Once, when I was unwell, I was a guest
six weeks in his house, and I saw what took place among his poor patients,
who had no other friend in their sickness. At my request Dr.
Shorthouse visited many publicists who needed the skill of the physician.
Though his speech was not encouraging or attractive, his kindly acts won
every heart. The only time I ever engaged in sporting was when he
asked me to join a sweepstake. I took two tickets, and forgot all
about them. Some time after he remarked to my brother Austin that he
had £50 due to some claimant who had never appeared; and one day my
brother Austin, who remembered I had tickets, looked among my papers and
found that one of them was the ticket wanted, and the £50 was paid to me.
Alas! the excitement of the turf was too much for Dr. Shorthouse, and he
died all too soon for those who had affection for him.
In my youth I had barbaric taste enough to look with favour
on fighting, and had some ambition that way. Once I went out on that
business. A tendon of one wrist had been cut when a boy, which lamed
me for life, and otherwise I found that prize fighting was not my
vocation. The war spirit, engendered by Napoleonic battles, had not
abated in my youth. Shaw, the famous Life Guardsman at Waterloo, was
a prize fighter. The Ring was popular in Birmingham in my time, and
would be again did invasion threaten us. Phil Sampson was a local
hero and, had Hammer Lane been successful in his amour, I should have been
nearly related to him. The first fight I witnessed was between two
women. It took place on the Old Parsonage ground, which was then
open previous to its being built over. The combatants were two lusty
women, between thirty and forty years old, as far as I judged. They
had come from courts adjoining the open ground. Having quarrelled,
they challenged each other to fight. In their neighbourhood fighting
would be common, their husbands might be boxers. There were few
persons about, and the women fought because they were enraged. Each
was so far stripped that their bosoms and arms were bare. They had
full breasts, and the strangeness of their appearance caused me to stop
and look at them. They sparred in the usual way, but after a few
blows they closed, and then seized each other by the hair. Some
women who had become aware of the fight rushed up and parted them.
There was only one round. That was the first fight I saw. I
have given an account of the last.
THE LAST LESSONS OF THE HANGMAN.
FOR fourteen years I wrote against the hangman,
intending to abolish him so far as any influence I had might go—and if not
abolish him repress him as a public teacher. Had I not been myself a
teacher in Glasgow, and found that pupils never seemed eager to come up
for instruction, I should never have felt jealousy of my successful rival,
Jack Ketch, who in those days was put forward with great parade and
circumstance as the chief moral teacher of the Government. I had
some knowledge of murderers besides that acquired by connection with the
press, through being ordered to report public executions. In the
days of the Leader newspaper, I was required to supply an account
of the hanging of a man and woman in jail Square, Glasgow. It was
then (1853) I first became envious of the success of the Professor of the
Gallows in drawing crowds of scholars to his classes.
The most eminent teachers lament the indocility of mankind to
receive moral impressions. They exhaust all the arts of blandishment
and persuasion, and win but scant pupils and reluctant learners. All
the while the Government were in possession of a secret which genius,
earnestness, and solicitude had failed to discover. Exchange the
blackboard of the teacher for the black cap of the judge, the desk for the
gallows, and the scholars rush up in crowds; every student 's eager: you
cannot count their numbers; you require strong and far-extended barriers
to restrain their impatience for instruction. In Jail Square at an
early hour of a Glasgow summer morning I found the Trongate impassable.
At every angle perspiring mobs of dirty men and tattered women came down
like an avalanche. Hans Smith Macfarlane and Helen Blackwood were
out in Jail Square, and the operation of strangling them was about to
commence. The Salt Market was wedged full of raw depravity.
You could take the dimension of villainy by the square inch. The
cubic measure of Scotch scoundrelism in the city of Glasgow could be
ascertained that morning.
A fog hung over the city, and the approaching spectator could
only discern the edge of the struggling mass in Glasgow Green. Its
thick murmur resounded like the coming of the cholera cloud, said to be
heard by its first victims. The vast span of the bridge adjoining
Jail Square was covered with human heads, gilded by beams from the
bursting sun. All beyond and before that living arch was an
undefined sea of glaring life. The huge city appeared to have lined
its square and streets to welcome home some national hero. The city
welcomed no victor—it was regaling its villains. The Lord Provost
had bestowed on the public another moralising and deterring spectacle of a
public strangling; the policeman and the gaoler profitted—and thus
civilisation was advanced.
Eleven years later (in 1864.) I had to report for the
Morning Star the "public killing" (as Douglas Jerrold called hanging)
of Franz Muller. That morning was devoted by the Government to
public instruction by the hangman. His subject was a German
In London professional debauchery and well-fed brutality
transcend in quantity that of Glasgow. Calcraft, the teacher, had
announced that he should give a lesson at Newgate. A surging throng
attended his summons. Housetops, windows, and streets were crowded
with pupils though a heavy rain was falling. What a commonplace,
contracted, unsightly, uncomfortable, hideous area is the popular
schoolroom of the Old Bailey! Well may the murderous teacher exult in the
punctuality of his pupils. No Pestalozzi, no Fellenburg, no Arnold,
no Key, no Temple, no De Morgan was ever able to command the painful,
prompt, and spontaneous allegiance of so many scholars. Neither
Cambridge nor Oxford can compare with the University of Newgate.
Ratcliffe Highway, Shoreditch, Houndsditch, and every other ditch that
harbours a thief; Billingsgate, the Seven Dials, and the Brill of Somers
Town sent their choicest representatives. The knave and the burglar
had run and raced from every purlieu of the metropolis in order not to
miss their Newgate lecture. The pickpocket was there. The
ticket-of-leave man was present. The drunkard and the wife-beater
found means to profit by this great State opportunity. The sickly,
the consumptive were among the throng—defying the cold, which must be
misery, and the damp, which may kill. Eager for the instruction the
gallows imparts, the most vicious business is suspended. The
garotter lets his intended victim pass; the burglar leaves the shutter
half splintered, and hastens on when the hangman is teaching. An
influence stronger than lust, more alluring than vice, more tempting than
plunder, is exercised by this seductive instructor. The condemned
has been kept a fortnight within hearing of the very footstep of Death,
daily coming nearer and nearer to him. He is brought out upon the
scaffold. Twenty thousand strange eyes glare upon him, with hungry
terror-striking warning. He is shown to the excited mob before his
face is covered. The spectators see the last spark of hope die out
of his soul. No reprieve has come; no horseman rushes up to the
throng; no shout of pardon is heard; no possible rescue, which always
lingers in the mind of the doomed, occurs. The wretch stands face to
face with inevitable, pitiless, pre-meditated Death, and the crowd know
that he knows it. They see the frame quiver and the blood rush to
the neck. A thrill passes through the congregated scoundrels whom
the Government has thus undertaken to entertain. If Godfrey Kneller
said he never looked upon a bad picture but he carried away a dirty tint,
we may be sure that no eye looks upon the scaffold but it takes or
transmits a tint of murder.
Public hangings at Newgate.
I was not much before my time in urging these arguments upon
public consideration. Two days after my last letter upon the subject
appeared in the Star (November 16, 1864), newspapers wrote against
the spectacle which had never so written before. No doubt the
distrust of public killing had crept into many minds. The Times
had a leader which might be taken as a summary of my statements (so
closely was it analogous to them), and admitted that public executions
were disastrous in London; but arguing that the hangman's lessons told on
those who were absent, treating the gallows as a school where only those
pupils profit who do not attend! The Standard afterwards published
a poem strenuously deploring the effect upon the public of the appearance
at the gallows of two teachers together—the Clergyman and the Strangler,
the one preaching mercy and the other murder. Soon after the Grand
Jury at Manchester protested against executions in that city, and advised
that they should "take place within the precincts of the gaol for the
hundred of Salford." This the law eventually conformed to, and
public instruction by the hangman ended.
AN ADVENTURE WITH GARIBALDI.
INCIDENTS when Garibaldi was at Brooke House in
1864, are worth relating. I was, by instruction, in attendance upon
him. I had been since he was received at Southampton. The
Ripon, which brought him there, was stormed by crowds of deputations
and persons who, in his day of insurgency and unpopularity, never showed
him friendship or sympathy, but were even among his defamers. They
were all anxious now to show themselves as his friends. The only
persons who displayed dignity, self-respect and knowledge of the situation
were Mr. Joseph Cowen—the general's old friend in adversity—and the Duke
of Sutherland. The Duke simply greeted Garibaldi, and, neither
officious nor persistent, gave him an invitation to his house in London
when it suited him to come, and then went away. Mr. Cowen
(Garibaldi's eyes brightened as he greeted him) explained to Garibaldi the
English situation, and what course would be best for Italy for him to
pursue, and left him.
After I had been a week at the Isle of Wight—often seeing
Garibaldi, once dining with him, and sometimes joining him in his morning
walk in the gardens of Brooke House—all Mr. Seely's guests returned to
England in the Medina. It was stated by members of Parliament
on board that 100,000 men intended to file before the General at Nine
Elms. As it was desirable to save him the fatigue of standing five
hours while this was done, a wish was expressed that a different
arrangement should be acted upon, but no one was willing to take the
responsibility of suggesting it. Mr. W. E. Forster, M.P., therefore,
said to me, "Holyoake, you do it."
Not being able to understand why Mr. Forster or any one
should hesitate about doing a right thing, I drew up and telegraphed to
London to personal friends at the head of the proposed procession, as
"ON BOARD THE 'MEDINA,'
"10 O'clock, Monday.
"If the 100,000 persons, as reported here, are to file before the General
at Nine Elms, he will have to stand five hours. He will be weary;
his entry into London will be delayed till dusk. If practicable, let
the General go first, and the procession follow and defile before him at
Stafford House. Nobody else here will take the responsibility of
saying this, although every one wishes it said."
There was also in the train a vain Italian tradesman who put himself
forward as representing the Italians in the metropolis. All the
years while the English friends of Italy had been working and subscribing
to promote Italian freedom, the name of this person was never heard; nor
was he ever seen at any of their meetings. He had no colour except
that of an enemy of Mazzini. He had met me in the Isle of Wight, and
knowing me to be in communication with Mazzini, had conceived against me
hostility on that account. With the wit which small enmity sometimes
has, he discerned that Mr. Seely might be acted upon. He went to
him, and, speaking English, which the General and Menotti (Garibaldi's
son) had but limited knowledge of, obtained from Mr. Seely authority, even
using Mazzini's name, to remove me from the train on the pretence that my
presence in it, on arriving at London, might compromise the General.
He then informed the stationmaster, one Mr. Godson, who (an exception to
railway officers) was a discourteous person, that he had Mr. Seely's
authority for my removal from the train at the Micheldever Station.
As I was the representative of the Newcastle Daily
Chrohicle and the Morning Star, I had a seat in the
press carriage. Menotti was with his father. Mr. Charles Seely,
M.P. for Lincoln, whose guest Garibaldi had been at Brooke House,
was with them. When we arrived at the station my removal was
attempted. My colleagues on the press, representing The Star,
Times, Standard, Daily News, Telegraph and Morning Post, were
in the same compartment with me. When Mr. Godson demanded that I
should leave, not one of them resented this proceeding, though two of them
had depended on me daily for information—which I alone could give them—for
their journals. For one of them I had myself, at a cost of fifteen
shillings, driven across the island to telegraph for his paper news in my
possession which he desired to have sent; and I had lent him thirty
shillings to pay his hotel bill, when he fell short of money.
Neither of these sums were ever repaid. I refused to leave the
train, and told Mr. Godson it was an outrage on a member of the English
Seeing on the platform my friend Mr. Forster, whose guest I
had twice been, and who the night before had obtained from me private
information of what had taken place concerning Garibaldi during the week
he had spent in the Isle of Wight, I felt sure of friendly interference.
Stepping out of the carriage, I told him what was being done, and said,
"Please speak to Mr. Godson, and tell him that an English member of the
press cannot be removed from a public train at the instigation of a
foreigner. A word from you, a member of Parliament, will prevent
this." He turned away, however, saying, "he could not interfere."
I saw then that he knew all about it, and was a party to it.
The stationmaster, seeing Mr. Forster turn away, prevented me
from returning to the carriage. Baffled thus, I would have opened
the General's carriage door, and leaped in. I well knew he would
never allow me to be removed, as I was the representative of the paper of
Mr. Cowen, his earliest and greatest English friend. But this would
have caused a scene. It would have got into the papers, and been
taken advantage of by the enemies of the Italian cause. So I said to
Mr. Godson that, "as the objection was to my entering London in the train
of the General, I would give my word that I would leave the train at Nine
Elms." I was then allowed to return to my carriage.
When we arrived at Nine Elms, I did what I could to fulfil my
promise; first waiting until the General and all other persons had passed
out. Then I found the station in possession of the police, who
informed me they had orders to prevent any one going out save through the
station exit. In a minute I was nearly under horses' feet in the
midst of the mighty throng. Here I found a number of carriages waiting.
I was invited by the Garibaldi Committee to take a seat with them, but I
preferred the private carriage of a friend, having first procured a seat
for Basso, who was in attendance upon Garibaldi. I had met Basso in
company with Menotti. Not knowing a word of English, he was
hopelessly lost amid the half million of people who lined the streets
between Nine Elms and Pall Mall.
Without perceiving it, the carriage I had chosen was next to the
General's, and thus, without any intention of my own, I rode right before
Garibaldi, in the centre of the mighty throng which lined the road all the
way to the Duke of Sutherland's.
The conduct of the eccentric Italian was all the more
preposterous, since I was elected at a large meeting of the London Tavern
on the same reception committee as himself, and I had as much right to
prevent him appearing in the General's train as he had to prevent me.
Yet this man, who never rendered assistance nor made sacrifice in any of
those enterprises which had built up Garibaldi's reputation, now thrust
himself forward, even to the exclusion of Menotti from his father's
carriage, taking his seat himself.
Mr. Washington Wilks, who was in the train on the part of the
Morning Star, was the only gentleman among the reporters of the
press present. His chivalry towards me I have never forgotten.
He expressed his contempt for my press colleagues in the carriage, because
of their cowardly silence when I was attacked in their company.
Afterwards, when some of them went abroad for their papers in the
Franco-German war, and met with outrage in a country in which they were
foreigners, at the hands of the inhabitants who had a right to object to
them, they had reason to remember their own conduct in tolerating and
conniving at an outrage instigated by a foreigner in their own country.
When it came to their turn, they sent home shrieks to the Foreign Office
Mr. Wilks went down to the House of Commons the same night.
Mr. Forster told me that he attacked him with fury in the lobby, and Mr. Seely also. Mr. Forster assumed not to know what the occasion of his
resentment was. The proprietor of the Newcastle Daily Chronicle,
with his customary public spirit, at once made known the personal
indignation with which he regarded this interference with its
representative. The Morning Star, as might be expected from
its independence, held the same tone. The editor of the Daily
News was prompt to animadvert upon the proceeding in its columns, not
knowing that its own reporter, to whom I had twice supplied information,
connived at it.
When Mazzini heard that his name had been used for a pretext
for the proceeding recounted, he at once sent me the following letter:—
"April 22, 1864.
"My DEAR FRIEND,—It
is with a deep regret and sense of humiliation for Italy that I have heard
of the uncourteous, ungentlemanly, ungrateful conduct of an Italian
towards you. I have written to him [Negretti] that he has offended
me, too, through the unwarranted use of my name. Let me apologise
for him to you. If he was different from what he is, I might proceed
further, and insist on his apologising to you. But he is, in
intellect, tendencies, and manners, belonging to that class of men whom I
call I 'irresponsible.' Forget him, and be contented with knowing that I
and we all are, not only esteeming and loving you, but grateful for your
efforts in our cause.—Ever faithfully yours,
In justice to the Italian nation, it ought to be said that every public
man who became acquainted with the facts volunteered his personal regret.
Guerzoni, Major Woolf, and others were foremost. On the day that his
illustrious father visited the House of Commons, Menotti stepped across
the lobby, from the side of the Earl of Shaftesbury, with whom he was
conversing, to stand by me and show by that act his disapprobation of the
occurrence. It is due to Italians to say that the outrage Menotti
resented was the act of a single "irresponsible" Italian.
The outrage was aimed at Mazzini (whose name had been
treacherously used), who could not be reached, and in whose place it was
an honour to stand. But the professional consequences were a very
different affair. A newspaper proprietor would have on important
occasions to despatch another representative to accompany me, to take my
place when under arrest, which would not conduce to engagements.
When Garibaldi learned what had occurred, his indignation was
unmeasured. My friend Mr. James Stansfeld, to whom meanness or
cowardice of any kind was instinctively abhorrent, did not conceal from
Mr. Forster or Mr. Seely his opinion of their conduct at Micheldever.
Mr. Seely was really a generous, kind-hearted man, but
without strength of intellectual conviction. I have seen him come
out of the House of Commons, and finding in the lobby two Chartist
agitators without means necessary for their work, give a £5 note to each.
He joined with Mr. Forster and Mr. Mundella in providing permanent means
of comfort in his declining years for another Chartist, Thomas Cooper,
whose honesty and ability they knew; and Colonel Seely, with the same
honourable kindness, continued the payment after his father's death.
I wrote to Mr. Seely to ask for an explanation, whether he had given
authority for my removal from the train. Mr. Seely gave no denial,
but drove over to my house and left word with my son, I being out, that he
wished me to call on him and talk the matter over. This I declined,
as "no private word was a compensation for a public affront." I
wrote to him saying:—
"Either you were a
party to the outrage upon me or you were not. If you were, why
should you hesitate to say so? Mr. —, whom you authorise to write to me,
fixes upon you as the authority under which he acted. I always
understood that an English gentleman neither did a wrong nor suffered the
imputation of sanctioning it; his pride dictated, if his honour did not,
instant reparation. Had not you and your confederate calculated that
my independent opinions would prevent me having friends to publicly take
my part, you had not ventured to treat me thus—neither he by his act, nor
you by your silence."
Shortly afterwards Mr. Forster again met me at the House of Commons, when
he mentioned Mr. Wilks's vehemence to him, and said he had no power to
interfere with the arrangement of the train. I answered, "That was
not it, Mr. Forster; you did not want to know me in public. I did
not ask you to know me—I did not appeal to you as a friend. I
addressed you as I would any other member of Parliament whom I knew to be
such. I claimed, as a stranger might, your political protection of
my civil right, and you refused it. Had it been Mr. Newdegate who,
though Tory and Churchman, was passing as you were, and I had claimed his
interference, he would have stopped twenty trains before he would have
permitted an Englishman to be seized and detained at the instigation of a
foreigner." Mr. Forster spoke some general words of regret, and
hoped I would dismiss the subject from my mind. On leaving me, he
offered me his hand, which I took, because I had memory of his former
courtesy, and had been his guest; but I addressed him no more for twenty
At the end of his Irish Secretaryship, and when he had
volunteered to go back after the murder of Mr. Burke and Lord F. Cavendish, notwithstanding the many perils of assassination through which
he had himself passed, I again conceived a great admiration of his courage
and noble spirit of duty. I was proud that an Englishman should show
these qualities. For when intimidation or murder is attempted, it is
not English to submit to it, and not English to give in, and I forgot and
forgave everything. One night at the House of Commons, as I was
standing in the lobby, Mr. Forster came by. I assured him I had
honour for his courage, and was glad that adversaries he had tried to
serve had not succeeded in killing him. He said "They certainly did
their best." He asked kindly after Mr. Thomas Cooper and the
comforts of his home, of which I gave him an account. We parted
friends again, and remained so all his days, and he saw many proofs in the
press of my regard for him.
In accepting the office of Irish Secretary in succession to
Lord Cavendish, Mr. George Otto Trevelyan was in one sense yet more to be
honoured. Mr. Forster was naturally indifferent to danger, and
rather liked it. Mr. Trevelyan was less adventurous by nature.
His was the courage of duty; he was intrepid by force of will. One
night when I spoke to him of the manner in which he had undertaken the
Irish Secretaryship he appeared gratified, and added lightly, "They do not
particularly wish to kill me, but to make a protest against English rule."
"Yes," I rejoined; "but it is not particularly pleasant to be the subject
of the protest"—at which he went away laughing.
UNPUBLISHED INCIDENTS IN THE CAREER OF W. E. FORSTER.
Mr. FORSTER has been described
mainly by those who happened to agree with him in the respects in which he
was wrong, saving Mr. Justin McCarthy, who, differing from him
discerningly, gave, in an article in the Contemporary for August,
1888, a true impression of him.
William Edward Forster
Mr. Forster was ambitious, and without recognising that there
is no understanding him. Ambition was stronger in him than any other
sentiment. Humanity and liberal principles were, to the end of his
days, characteristic of him, and he preferred advancing his personal
ascendency by these means; but they had not the personal dominion over him
that ambition had.
When I first knew him he gave me this impression. He
did not profess to share my opinions, but he had an inquiring mind, and
wished to know what the opinions of others were, and on what they were
founded. Had he not been of a liberal and just mind himself, he
would not have cared to know such views as I held. His choice would
have been not to know them. He would have judged them without
knowing them. Because Mr. Forster was friendly to me, I never
assumed that he agreed with me. I never assume this of any one,
unless he tells me so. It would make friendship impossible with
independent thinkers, if it were held to imply coincidence of ideas.
Mr. Forster told me at that time the nature of his opinions
on education. Had he likewise told his friends in Bradford, and they
had understood him as I did, they would not have been disappointed in
their reliance on his educational policy, as they would never have had any
expectation of his going in the direction they wished.
What he said to me was—"Those who stand at the head of
society and argue that the minds of the people must be left alone or they
will break loose from the religious ties which are supposed to bind them,
and drift away no one knows whither, must take a new course, as the people
are already free from those ties; and they who mean to guide them must
guide them speedily, or some one else will do it for them."
Mr. Forster had been present at lectures and discussions in
which I took part. He was surprised very much to see that the
majority of large meetings were entirely in sympathy with what were then
regarded as the heretical views submitted to them. He was then quite
resolved, should he attain power, that the authority of the State Church
should be the agent of national religious instruction. My impression
was that his marriage with Dr. Arnold's daughter further excited his
ambition to serve the ends of the Church.
In my time I have seen many men treat every principle in
which they were interested as subordinate to ambition. Also, I have
seen opponents who, disliking the ambition, shut their eyes to every other
quality the ambitious man had, and overlook the services he might render
to right principles when they did not interfere with his personal ends.
I have known many men promote movements they did not much care for, their
object being to obtain influence in them in favour of some view of their
own. Thus the recruiting sergeant will have honest admiration of a
straight, well-made man, because he has the qualities of a soldier in him.
The sergeant will be civil to such a man, will praise him, will take an
interest in him, and even desire his welfare from a professional point of
view; but his main object all the while is to enlist him.
Rev. F. D. Maurice
Thus the Rev. Frederick Denison Maurice took interest in co-operation, not
because he cared for it for its own sake. As he said himself, "his
object was not to socialise Christianity, but to Christianise Socialism."
So far as co-operation infused morality into trade Mr. Maurice did care
for it, and his sympathy was of great service to it. I have known
many Christians, whose ability and good feeling commanded regard, take
part in social and political efforts, without caring intrinsically for
them; but, as Comtists do in like cases, they sympathised to what extent
they can from quite a different motive from that which inspires those whom
they serve. It would, however, be most unjust to many not of my way
of thinking to conceal my knowledge that they do often promote the
interests of others without any considerations of their own. For
myself, I never cared one jot whether the persons whose movements I
promoted adopted my views or not. I never, with a view to their
adopting my views, treated Christians with fairness and respect, or spoke
with courtesy to them. I acted so solely because courtesy, fairness,
justice, and discernment of the good qualities of others were right
principles in themselves, and should for their own sake be observed
towards all persons, whether adversaries or friends.
A fortnight before his marriage Mr. Forster had driven me
over to Burley for a night's conversation. We did not set out until
after my lecture that night in Bradford. Burley was ten or more
miles away. We had a fine high-stepping horse; the night was dark,
and the roads were steep. Never before nor since have I ridden with
any one who drove so furiously as Mr. Forster. I fully expected to
be found next morning distributed on the wayside banks between Bradford
and Burley. The anecdote of Mr. Forster's dare-devil driving which
Mr. Wemyss Reid relates in his "Life" of Mr. Forster accords with my
Shortly after his marriage, I was again a guest at Burley.
Mrs. Forster appeared to me a pretty and gentle lady—in every way a
contrast to her tall and energetic husband. She lent me the travels
of Huc and Gabet in Tartary, which has seemed to me, ever since, one of
the brightest of all books of missionary adventures. She walked by
my side as we went down to dinner. Being a stranger, and diffident,
I did not offer her my arm, doubtful whether it might not be presuming.
Afterwards I asked Miss Martineau what I was free to do under such
circumstances. With that ready condescension and instructiveness,
always a conspicuous grace in her, she wrote me a letter of great
interest, telling me that, being a guest, I was for the time being an
equal, and might have complied with the opportunities of the hour with
propriety. Some time previous to Mr. Forster's death I mentioned the
letter to him, and he asked me to let him see it, but some person who
admired it had retained it.
In a town of influence where the question of education was
much discussed, Mr. Forster one day sought an interview with the leaders
whose influence might facilitate his entrance to the Cabinet. He had
a communication to make of importance, it was said. Those interested
in hearing it were present in assembly. Mr. Forster suggested that
it would be better not to have reporters present, as what he wanted to say
might, in the hands of adversaries, produce obstacles. The
communication was made, and filled the little assembly with enthusiasm for
the ascendency of one so likely to carry their wishes into legislation.
When Mr. Forster obtained the position in which he could give effect to
what he was understood to have in his mind, his proposal and his speeches
did not correspond with the expectations entertained by his hearers.
They thought they might have misunderstood him, and were about to refer to
some independent record of what he did say, when they remembered his
objection to reporters being present. The impression they had,
therefore, was that they had been outwitted; and they certainly thought
that what appeared reasonable diplomatic precaution was a trick.
Whether they ever wrote to Mr. Forster to ask him what he did say, I know
not. They probably distrusted him then so much that they thought the
proceeding futile. Mr. Forster was a man of truth, and would
probably have answered frankly, as he was not lacking in courage to stand
by what he had thought proper to do. Judging of Mr. Forster by his
antecedents, they might have interpreted his words through his character
and Nonconformist predilections, while his actual words might have
admitted of the interpretation he put upon them. But the indignation
with which the narrative was related to me by one who was present showed
that the impression was strong that they had been deceived, and that they
had used influence they never would have exercised had they understood
what was afterwards to happen.
I was in the House when Mr. Forster made his declaration that
"he had Puritan blood in his veins." He held out his arm as he
spoke, as though he would bare it that the House might see the blood
throbbing. I said at the time, to a member who was speaking to me,
that if Mr. Forster would put a drop of that Puritan blood into his bill,
his adversaries would all be satisfied. Afterwards I asked Professor
Huxley or Professor Tyndal to get a drop of that Puritan fluid and analyse
it, to see if some adulteration were not present.
Soon after, at a large deputation of Nonconformist ministers
at Downing Street, Mr. Forster put to them the plain question whether, as
the character of religious education to be given in Board Schools seemed
to present irreconcilable difficulties, they were prepared to give
education without the Bible. There was an immediate and general
response "without." Mr. Forster in the House described this
deputation of three hundred Nonconformist ministers as though they were
three hundred infidels; though any one of them had stronger religious
convictions than Mr. Forster, who said at the same time that "there was no
Church which satisfied him to which he could attach himself." It was
this rancorous tone on the part of Mr. Forster, unbecoming in a Minister
and unseemly in him, which embittered the controversy. He might have
said that it was a question between no national education at all and the
concessions he made to the ascendency of the Church; and that he would
have done better if he could, but he thought so much of national education
that we had better have it, and leave the Church to manipulate it, than to
be without it. This would have justified Mr. Forster. Such a
policy might have been the necessity of statesmanship.
Nonconformists might have thought Mr. Forster wanting in judgment in not
better interpreting the temper or liberalism of the nation, but there
would have been no abiding anger, and he would never have forfeited the
personal respect of his adversaries of another way of thinking. Mr.
Forster did not do this. He said he would not do other than he did
if he could. He spoke in Parliament in terms which seemed intended
to elicit the applause of the ancient enemies of Nonconformists, and at
times spoke of Nonconformists as unpleasantly as ever they did of him.
They spoke in defence of their traditional principle, and he spoke in
defence of his departure from it. This came from his early Quaker
training, which made resentment in him more determined and persistent than
in other Christians, for reasons which I explain elsewhere in the chapter
on Mr. Bright.
To give ascendency to the Church as against the
Nonconformists, and say he "would not do better if he could," took all his
neighbours and supporters by surprise. Their familiar friend, whom
they had placed where he was, was henceforth to them a man of almost
When the election came again he refused to trust those who
had trusted him, and appealed to the Tories whose interest he had served,
and who had done their best to keep him out of Parliament. This was
neither chivalry nor gratitude, nor cordiality to those who had been his
friends when other friends he had none. If they were less
enthusiastic for him than heretofore, it was not he who could reproach
them. Mr. Forster had his reasons, and they the disappointment.
A man cannot command trust and not reciprocate it. One bold, frank,
generous speech such as Mr. Forster at other times was capable of, would
have bound his old constituents to him all his days.
Towards the close of his career, he made a speech, or gave
some vote, the effect of which was hostile to Mr. Gladstone, or was so
interpreted by the Tories. I was given to understand by a
confidential friend of his that Mr. Forster regretted this. This was
like his real self, whose instincts were liberal. One of his last
speeches in Bradford was too plaintive, and made too much of the
"anxieties" of statesmanship. He went to Ireland, he said, with a
"heavy heart," and he had more reason for disquietude than we know.
Yet it is the common place experience of statesmanship to find
difficulties. To have a "heavy heart " about it is entirely a waste
of time. Unpleasantnesses fall to every statesman who does his duty.
One half of his friends will complain of him not going far enough; the
other half for going too far; and his adversaries will denounce him
whichever way he goes, and not less if he stands still. However, Mr.
Forster made it clear that, while Liberal Irish advocates were denouncing
him for considering landlord interests, the landlords denounced him
because he was utterly neglecting them. They were right; Mr. Forster
in his heart was always with the people.
I was myself of Mr. Forster's opinion that a law should be
enforced against crime that was clearly crime. It seemed to me that
Irish Americans were attempting to run secession in Ireland, as they had
tried to do in America—out of spite to England, and not unnaturally, so
long as Nationalist aspiration was regarded as a form of crime. The
more a Minister exerted himself and conferred upon them local benefits to
divert their minds from nationality, amelioration seemed hateful to them.
The Chartists in England manifested precisely the same spirit when they
were offered ameliorative measures to divert their minds from
enfranchisement. When the Irish were generally enfranchised, and
they sent eighty-six members to represent the national demand for
self-government, and Mr. Gladstone showed that that was possible without
separation, the Irish people became our friends, and no longer desired
separation. The offer of substantial independence cancelled the
hatred and distrust of seven centuries.
One day, when the agitation for a real Reform Bill in England
was in progress, a conference was held in Leeds to promote it. A
gentleman entered the room who had spent more money than any man in
England to bring it to pass. His mode of attire was far from
fashionable. He despised fashion—but he cared for service.
Seeing Mr. Forster, whose political interests he had strenuously promoted,
he went up to him first to greet him. Whether it was that Mr.
Forster thought a further acquaintance unimportant, or whether he did not
care to identify himself with a man of the determined views his friend was
known to entertain, Mr. Forster took no notice of him. Mr. Bright at
once rose to greet the unimportant looking delegate. Then Mr.
Forster went over and offered his hand, which the repulsed delegate in his
turn declined to take, long afterwards entertaining contempt for Mr.
Forster. Many years later, when both were members of Parliament, I
was with the delegate at Wimbledon Station when Mr. Forster stood there in
volunteer uniform waiting for a train; but my friend kept me in
conversation, walking up and down the platform lest Mr. Forster, to whom
he would not speak, should accost him. For some reason I never knew,
my friend afterwards became reconciled to him. Something
inexplicable had been explained.
When I was in frequent communication with Mr. Forster, he
passed me by without notice when I stood by accident in his way.
When I came to know that Mr. Forster was short-sighted, I thought this
explained much; men engrossed in thought will often pass by persons
without seeing them, and, if short-sighted, may do this without knowing
it. Many persons are indignant at being slighted when no slight is
intended. If we only knew everything, many men would be acquitted
who are now condemned.
In 1875, when an annuity was given me, there appeared in the
list, "An Old Friend," £20. I asked who that was, but was told I was
not to know. After Mr. Forster's death Major Bell told me the "Old
Friend " was Mr. Forster. I never experienced any act more delicate
and generous than this. It was during our feud when he sent the
subscription which he suspected I should refuse if I knew who gave it; or
he might think that if I knew I might regard it as intended to mitigate my
anger against him. He was too manly to incur that suspicion.
But he wished to serve me, and took a way of doing it which I could
neither resent nor acknowledge. When I learned this I was glad we
had become friends, and that I had done him some service in his later
years, which he acknowledged in a letter he sent me from Torquay shortly
before his death.
NAPOLEON III. IN LONDON.
LANDOR'S injunction—"Watch him and wait"—was
followed both by the Government and the people. Every year Louis
Napoleon was on the throne of France it cost us millions a year to watch
him, since no Bonaparte was to be trusted. Palmerston, though a
comrade of the false President, never trusted him. The people
waited, and they saw him twice—once a visitor and then a fugitive.
Had a bill been passed for giving up Dr. Bernard, no Royal exile had any
more found peace on these shores.
When the Queen
went to Paris on a visit to the Emperor, I was instructed by the Leader
to proceed there and report the features of the Royal journey. I
then saw the Emperor for the first time. He was smoking a cigar on a
verandah in Boulogne. His 70,000 troops were massed for review
below, awaiting the arrival of the Queen. The Emperor was then in
the prime of his usurpation. The next time I saw him it was before
my door in Fleet Street, where he stopped some time and read some placards
which interested him, and which met his inquiring eye.
It came about in this wise. He was then on a visit to
the Queen in London. Great preparations had been made for his
safety, as he had not many friends in the metropolis, and the natural
anxiety of the Court was that nothing unpleasant should happen to him on
that occasion. In those days Daniel Whittle Harvey was Commissioner
of Police in the City of London, and things were always pleasant between
the City police and the people. The City police always treated the
working class as citizens, and as such entitled to protection in their
political processions; whereas Sir Richard Mayne, as all Metropolitan
Commissioners do, treated the working class as a criminal class, and more
frequently attacked them than assisted them. Commissioner Harvey,
therefore, knew he could count upon the goodwill of the people in any
regulation he wished observed. Sir Richard Mayne had no such ground
of confidence; and, on the night before the arrival of the Emperor, he and
Commissioner Harvey met together on horseback in Fleet Street before my
publishing house, to consult as to what they should do with regard to it.
They suspected that some unpleasant persons might be within who had good
reasons not to be amiable towards the Emperor. Police agents had
been to me several times, making inquiries, which I answered in a manner
calculated to satisfy them that they need be under no apprehension on my
account. I said I regarded the French Emperor as the guest of the
nation, and should oppose any discourtesy being shown to him while he
appeared in that character. At that time Mazzini and Professor
Francis William Newman were both contributors to the Reasoner, and,
with the "courage of conviction" characteristic of them, permitted me to
make the announcement. It happened that their names appeared in
large red letters on a placard which stretched across the fanlight of my
door. The question discussed by the two Commissioners when they met,
was whether I should be asked to take that placard down, lest it might
meet the eye of the Emperor and produce disquietude in his mind.
Mazzini had addressed an eloquent and indignant "Letter to Louis Napoleon"
which had not contributed to his peace of mind. The Commissioners
came to the conclusion that they had no right to ask me to take down a
business placard, and, next, they did not think I should do it if they
did. Commissioner Harvey respected City independence.
The next day the Emperor duly came by, accompanied by guards,
and seated in a carriage said to be lined with plates of steel, lest a
stray shot from some Fieschi might strike the panel. There was a
great throng in the street, and every house had its windows let to curious
and other spectators. I gave orders that my house should be closed
as on Sundays, and that no persons employed in it should appear at the
windows. I would show the unwelcome visitor no active disrespect,
neither would I show him any attention, and least of all any jubilation.
It happened that at that time Mr. Samuel Bright, brother of John Bright,
was at the office of Diogenes, with which he was connected.
It had a window in Fleet Street, but he did not wish to appear there, and
he came over with his pretty wife, to whom he had not long been married,
to ask me if I would allow them to see the Emperor from my window.
This was contrary to the rule I had laid down; but as I had been his guest
at Spotland, I could not refuse him. He had just returned from the
Continent. He had a dark flowing beard, and wore a high Hungarian
hat, and might be mistaken for a brigand or for the heir-at-law of William
Tell. As he sat on the windowsill he certainly looked a suspicious
person. The Emperor could not fail to see him as he glanced up the
street. The moment he arrived opposite Mr. Bright, his horses reared
and the carriage suddenly stopped. The air was filled with thousands
of pieces of white paper, like a heavy snowstorm. This sudden
descent of floating, flickering flakes had frightened the horses.
Not knowing what could be the matter, the Emperor looked for a moment out
of the carriage at the house, and then his eye met the name of Mazzini in
red letters, which was not reassuring. In a minute the horses were
calmed, and the procession passed on.
The next house to mine was the office of the Sporting Life,
then a new journal. Mr. Feist had printed 50,000 small bills
announcing the paper, and the printers were out on the house top showering
them down on the procession. It was this that caused the procession
to stop. It was odd that it should have occurred before my door.
There were many patriots very indignant at the Queen for
kissing the Emperor on his arrival, and they said so in the newspapers.
It might be a regal ceremony, but it was not pleasant to think of.
It was bad enough to have such a visitor, but to kiss "false, fleeting,
perjured Clarence" was worse. It made people think that Royalty was
unfortunate, or was not fastidious.
VISITS FROM A MURDERER.
WHEN I had chambers in Cockspur Street, London, a
man called upon me several times who stated himself to be "Ernest W.
Southey." His real name was Stephen Forward. I suppose, from
what I afterwards knew of his character, that he had taken the name of
"Southey" as more imposing, and as suggesting that he was a possible
relative of the poet; but his proper name, Forward, much better suited his
disposition. He was a somewhat handsome man, with a glistening,
feverish eye. He had a grievance which he represented was against
Lord Dudley. So far as my visitor was known to have an occupation,
it was that of a billiard-marker at some hotel in Brighton. His
story was that Lord Dudley, being there, had sometimes played with him
(which he might have done for practice when he found no one else at hand,
Forward being an intelligent person). His account was that Lord
Dudley played him a match for £1,000 and of course lost it. He
refused to pay it. If Forward had lost, it is quite clear he could
never have paid it; and it is not supposable that his lordship would play
a match for such a sum with a billiard-marker who had no money. His
primary grievance was the claim for this debt of honour. Afterwards
he went down to Witley Court, Worcestershire, Lord Dudley's country seat,
with a person professing to be his wife, and demanded of Lord Dudley the
billiard money. In the end, a charge was brought against Lord Dudley
of accosting the woman in the Court grounds and making some improper
overtures to her. The case was heard at the local police court, and,
being without any foundation, was dismissed. As "Southey" pressed
his tale of distress upon me, I procured him some aid from friends, and
sometimes met him in the lobby of the House of Commons. He had
written to Mr. Gladstone and Lord Russell, representing he was in distress
and should commit some dreadful crime unless he had assistance. Earl
Russell gave him five pounds. One day, after a protracted visit, he
told me that, since he could not get his £1,000 from Lord Dudley, he
should murder his wife and children. I told him that "it was very
absurd to kill them because of the fault of another. The logical
thing was to go and kill Lord Dudley!" My impression was that a man
who talked of killing people was not at all likely to do it. Great
was my astonishment when, a few days later, I found from the newspapers
that he had killed seven persons—his wife and six children. Five
children of his by another person he took to a coffee-house off Holborn,
and poisoned the whole of them in one night. Then he went down to
Ramsgate, and killed his wife, who resided there, and one of two children
whom she provided for. The other child fortunately escaped.
His object was to make a great sensation by a great crime.
Tropmann in France had obtained notoriety even in the English press in
this way. "Southey" coveted this sort of attention. He knew
that any one who perpetrated a murderous atrocity could depend upon having
his statements and remarks published in the newspapers. He knew that
ladies, who forgot that their sympathies were due to the unhappy victims
or their unhappy relatives, sent delicacies to the cells of famous
murderers. Clergymen were assiduous in their attentions to them, and
promised them certain and early admission to Paradise. This
notoriety and distinguished attention induced Forward to qualify himself
for them. I thought it impossible, until I knew him, that any man
would sacrifice his life for this brief and perilous applause. I
remembered afterwards that he had said that he thought it would be "a fine
thing to call attention to the injustice of society," which neglected
persons in his condition—meaning the hard-heartedness of gentlemen who
would not give money to an intelligent man who was not willing to work.
I understood too late that killing his wife and children was the "fine
thing" he had in his mind.
After he had committed the crime, he wrote to me from
Sandwich Gaol inviting me, as "a leader of enlightened opinion, and
connected with the press," to come down and see him early, as I might
thereby "serve my own interests by striking a blow at the hypocrisies and
superstitions of the country." He informed me that "he was aiding,
as far as he could, in the work in which I was engaged"—that was, any one
would think, murdering innocent persons wholesale! His desire was,
he said, "to obtain respect for the class of opinions we mutually hold."
This monstrous letter I knew would be read by the governor of the gaol
before he despatched it to me. I read it with indignation, as the
governor must have regarded me as a confederate abroad, engaged in the
atrocious propagation of opinion by blood. The following are copies
of his letter, and the reply which I returned to it:—
"Sunday, August 13, 1865.
"SIR,—As a leader
of enlightened opinions, as an advocate of the abolition of capital
punishment, as a man connected with the press and publishing houses, if
you would run down here and see me at an early opportunity, I assure you
you might find such an opportunity of serving your own interests, as well
as an opportunity of striking a great blow against the hypocrisies,
superstitions, and ignorance of the country, such as you could not
estimate. I ask you to send me a line, for I am aiding so far as I
can in the work you are also engaged in, and with help I may be enabled to
assist in obtaining respect for that class of opinion we mutually hold,
and which I should be sorry to be the means of bringing into disrepute.—I
am, dear sir, yours faithfully,
ERNEST W. SOUTHEY."
"20, COCKSPUR STREET,
"August 14, 1865.
"SIR,—I am reluctant to kick a
man when he is down, even though he be a murderer; but the letter you send
me strongly inclines me to do it. I am sorry to give you pain,
unless I could increase the deep remorse which I trust you are beginning
to feel for the frightful guilt you have incurred. I can have no
'interest' to serve by seeing you. Were you innocent, I would not
try to make anything out of your misfortunes, and I scorn to do it out of
your crimes. I know not what you mean by 'opinions' we mutually
hold. I knew you had a grievance, and I was sorry to hear you say
your family were suffering. You came to me a stranger. I never
saw you but four times. I treated you kindly, because I thought your
mind unhinged. When I last saw you at the House of Commons I
counselled you to dismiss the idea of suicide from your mind, and with
your busy intelligence not to be afraid of honest work to extricate
yourself. Don't write to me any more. Your prate about justice
must end, now you have imbrued your hands in blood. I can only feel
sorrow for you if you show contrition.
G. J. HOLYOAKE."
The vain scoundrel did not attempt to kill the mother of the five children
whom he put to death, probably because she was inaccessible, being out at
work earning means to feed the poor things. The wife who was
keeping, by her own industry, her two deserted children he did kill, and
one of the little ones. The knave had religious belief, and carried
a Bible in his pocket. It may be that he pretended to be a
Christian, as he pretended to be of my opinions, with a view to obtain
money and notice.
Afterwards I reflected that, had he acted on my preferential
suggestion, and killed Lord Dudley, and said that I had advised it, it had
been unpleasant for me. He murdered for publicity. It was a
frightful taste, but it was his. Madame Tussaud put the scoundrel in
her Chamber of Horrors. It was his grim ambition to figure there.
On the last Sunday before his execution, he arose in the
chapel, and addressed his fellow-criminals there assembled. No
murderer before had thought of this expedient for obtaining notice in the
press. There is no doubt "Southey" would make a speech in the
infernal regions if they would condescend to hear him there, and he
thought the Satanic reporters would publish it. When on the scaffold
he had the impudence to stop the chaplain in the prayer he was reading,
and request him to say only what he would dictate, which the compliant
chaplain did. It was imprudent in the chaplain to consent, for
"Southey" might have said something which it would be unbecoming in a
clergyman to repeat, and an altercation with a man with a noose round his
neck would not have been edifying. He had the effrontery to make the
chaplain "commend him, his brother, to God who had redeemed him."
Not even the gallows could repress his lust of notoriety.
Wherever I could I called attention in the press to the evil
effects of publicity at that time accorded to murderers; as I had
previously written against hanging in sight of a crowd of ruffians, who
were afforded the gratification of "assisting" at murder without
responsibility. Forward's trial was but briefly mentioned in the
newspapers, and less distinction has since been accorded to murderers.
A writer, signing himself "H. B. Dudley," wrote to the
Newcastle Chronicle, apparently with authority, to explain that the
gentleman who played with "Southey" was a "relative" of Lord Dudley, whom
Southey understood to be Lord Dudley. I wrote to "H. B. Dudley," who
professed to have written "without consulting any member of the late
lord's family," for such authentication as would warrant me in making
corrections. due to the late lord. But no answer came.
Nor did Lord Dudley himself question my statement, which I sent to him at