20th January 1861


While Maccomo, who is a very intelligent and courageous African, was going through his performance with the Bengal tigers, at Mander’s Menagerie, Liverpool, on Friday week, a tigress caught his hand in her mouth.

Planting his knee in the small of the tigress’s back, and pressing her against the bars of the cage, then seizing her lower jaw with the right hand, he held her powerless to do more than retain the hand in her mouth.

So cool was Maccomo in this trying position that lookers-on thought it part of his performance, but when Maccomo called to one of the keepers, “She has my hand fast in her mouth; get a bar of hot iron,” the truth of his dangerous position flashed through the minds of those present, and created the greatest excitement, one lady fainting away, others running from the painful sight.

Four or five minutes elapsed before the iron was ready, during which time Maccomo stood as a piece of statuary, not a quiver of lip to show the pain he was enduring. When ready, the hot iron was applied quickly and surely by one of the keepers to one of the large teeth in the upper jaw, and, as though she had been electrified, her mouth sprang open.

Maccomo, quick as lightning, drew his hand away, caught hold of a thick stick, struck the animal a tremendous blow on the skull, brought her down and forced her to finish her performance before he left the cage.

When Maccomo came out of the cage, his bleeding hand testified to the frightful struggle which had been going on between man and beast.

Surely it is high time that these dangerous exhibitions should be put an end to. They serve no object whatever and only tend to pander to a morbid species of excitement which is better avoided.


The town of Henley-on-Thames has for several days been in a state of excitement from reports which had been freely circulated that a young woman who had lived in the service of a gentleman had died from starvation.
Inquiries were set afloat, and the following particulars have been gathered:—Mr Robert Durno Mitchell, who is a retired naval surgeon, occupies a house in the suburban part of Henley, called New Town. The site is pleasant, but as a tolerably high wall surrounds the house, only the upper part of the building can be seen by persons walking along the road.

In the month of August last, a young woman named Clarke, about twenty-four years of age, was hired as a domestic servant to Mr Mitchell, and she entered upon her situation in the same month. Mr Mitchell has a wife and children and the habits of the family appear to have been those of seclusion. The gate in front of the house was kept locked, and the servant could seldom be seen.

The young woman Clarke was taken very ill at the beginning of the present year, and she was subsequently removed to the Henley Union Workhouse. Her appearance satisfied the officers of that establishment that she was in a state of starvation; and this opinion was confirmed by the avidity with which she ate the food given to her. She was very dirty and exhibited altogether signs of having been fearfully neglected, both with regard to food and other comforts of a domestic servant.

Every attention was paid to the poor creature, but she became delirious and, though she was subsequently more rational, her system was too far exhausted to be recovered and she died on the 9th inst.
The deceased, though 24 years of age and about five feet in height, only weighed 50lb after death—such was the extreme emaciation of her body.

It was reported in the town that not only was the deceased kept short of food, but that the bed for her to lie upon was little more than straw, and it is feared that there is some truth in this statement, four of her toes having been found frostbitten, and in a state of gangrene.

The inhabitants of the town were very indignant at the conduct of the deceased’s master, and nothing but the strictest inquiry would seem to calm them. An inquest was accordingly opened, and after taking voluminous depositions, the jury returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Mr Mitchell.


On Saturday night at a brilliant ball given by Madame de Errazu, the crinoline dress of a young Spanish lady, the daughter of a professor who was formerly tutor to Queen Christiana’s children, while walking round an illuminated fountain in the conservatory, caught fire, and in a moment the flames were over her head. The people despairing of extinguishing the fire by any other means, contrived to throw her bodily into the water, from which she was taken out very much injured, but it is hoped that her life will be saved.


2 thoughts on “20th January 1861

  1. What a tremendous thing to put on a website! I look forward indeed to future posts, and to finding many references to cudgel taking up and hullabaloos.

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