26th May 1861

CRINOLINE ACCIDENTS

On Monday morning, as a lady and gentleman, whose names it is unnecessary to mention, were walking together along Tyrrel street, Bradford, John Rhodes, aged fourteen, an errand boy of a hatter in the Kirkgate, accidentally got his right foot entangled in the lower bar of the lady’s crinoline. The consequence was that he fell into a channel at the edge of the causeway, and his ankle was broken by the kerb-stone.

Another accident, attended with serious consequences to a poor man named John Wright, nearly sixty years of age, occurred in the Sheffield vegetable market, on Tuesday evening. That portion of the market where fruit and vegetables are sold is higher than the rest of the road, and as Wright was passing near the edge, a lady in a capacious robe which is now so fashionable, swept past him and unfortunately entangled the nails of his homely boots in the meshes of her crinoline, which threw him down the incline.

Assistance was procured, but the poor man was found unable to rise. He was conveyed to the hospital. He had sustained a severe fracture of both bones of his left leg, which were nearly protruding through the skin when he reached the institution.

DEATH OF AN INSANE WOMAN BY FIRE THROUGH CRINOLINE

Thursday evening, a painful inquiry was held respecting the death of Phoebe Grinley, aged 22 years, who died from the mortal effects of fire under very distressing circumstances.

The deceased was of weak intellect and subject to fits. On Tuesday evening last, the deceased was left alone in the kitchen for a short time, when two of the lodgers where the deceased resided, No 8 Somerset street, high street, Whitechapel, heard loud screams.

They ran into the passage and met the deceased running, enveloped in a mass of flame, to the sitting room.

By the aid of blankets, the burning dress was extinguished, but not before the deceased was fearfully blackened and blistered by the action of the fire. Her injuries were of such a character that she expired in four hours.

The deceased’s dress was ignited by being extended by a crinoline petticoat. A juror observed that the practice of wearing crinoline notwithstanding all the calamities it had caused was disgraceful.

19th May 1861

CORRESPONDENCE ON CRINOLINE

Medical men declare crinoline is unhealthy, but the ladies are ready to offer up their health on the altar of taste. Grumbling, prudish people call crinoline indelicate, but the ladies do not believe that a prevailing taste can be indelicate.

Many, many deaths have occurred from wearing crinoline but for the sake of a prevailing taste ladies are ready to brave death. Perhaps some centuries hence, when Macaulay’s New Zealander prowls about deserted, ruined London, he may light upon a mildewed half worm-eaten book of fashions of the nineteenth century and may propound a theory that the ancients were accustomed to wear balloons for the sake of easy, ready locomotion. And such a theory may be accepted as the only possible solution of the strange enigma.

LAND SHARKS AND SEA GULLS

Two cases of robbing sailors of their watches came before Mr Woolrych. In the first, Mary Mahoney, a well-known and desperate thief, was charged with stealing a gold watch from the person of a sailor named Skeepie, the second mate of the ship Dorothea.

The complainant was decoyed into a house in the vicinity of that dirty, noisy and disorderly place, Rosemary-lane, and when he lay down on a bed he fastened his watch-guard round his finger, and the watch under his pillow.

Soon afterwards, a person came into the room and tried to take away his clothes, which he had placed on a chair. He jumped out of bed and fought in the dark with a man who had his clothes, and recovered them with the exception of his “pants”, which were taken away. He alleged that while he was struggling with the ruffian for the possession of his clothes, Mary Mahoney stole his watch and guard and left the room.

The sailor called aloud for help. His “pants” were returned to him and he got out of the horrible den as soon as possible. Mary Mahoney was shortly afterwards taken into custody.

Mr Woolrych said, “The case is full of suspicion against the prisoner but not sufficient to justify me in sending her before the jury. She is discharged.”

In the second case, a large and vulgar-looking woman named Simmons, of Phillip street, St George-in-the-East, was charged with stealing a silver watch from the person of William Owen, a sailmaker who has been recently paid off from his ship. The circumstances of this case were similar to those of the first.

Mr Woolrych said this case was also too doubtful a one to justify him sending the prisoner for trial. The sailor was very fortunate in recovering his watch. Seafaring men are generally stripped of everything when they are inveigled in the odious dens of the district. He discharged the prisoner.

12th May 1861

FEARFUL INCIDENT AT FAIR

Tuesday last being the “pleasure fair” day in Bridgenorth, there was the usual assemblage of “shows”. Amongst these was a theatrical establishment, in front of which was erected a slack rope apparatus, consisting of two upright poles with a rope suspended across.

Between five and six o’clock in the evening, one of the company was engaged going through a variety of evolutions on this rope, in presence of a large concourse of people. One portion of the performance consisted in the man slipping from the cross rope to one suspended vertically from its centre, and from this he swung like a man hanging.

This noose was intended to fit under the chin and at the back of the head, but by some means it slipped from its position and encircled the neck of the performer. He was seen to struggle, but it being considered part of the performance, the people applauded and the band continued to play while the man was in the death agony.

At length, the performer’s hands dropped to his sides, his features beginning to blacken, with other unmistakeable evidences that he was suffering from strangulation.

A fearful scene of excitement ensued. Women ran about shrieking and wringing their hands, and for some time all was confusion.

At length, a ladder was procured and while several persons held it in an upright position as firmly as they could from below, a man out of the crowd climbed up and cut the poor fellow down.

Owing to the agitation that prevailed, and the imminence of the man’s danger, proper means were not used to catch him as he fell, and he dropped a distance of from twelve to fifteen feet on to the platform, his head striking the end of it with great force.

He was at once conveyed to the nearest public house. He remained for a considerable time in a state of insensibility, but at length suspended animation was restored, and he is now in a fair way of recovery.

EXTRAORDINARY CASE OF CONCEALMENT OF SEX

Thomas Green, was committed to the New Bailey for a period of twenty days, for contempt of court, or non-compliance with a judgment obtained at a previous court. The debt amounted in all to £1 14s 6d, and was the balance of an account for a suit of clothes.

The defendant was noted for his aversion to paying debts, and had had the opportunity of meditating upon the wickedness of the world in general, and the gross wickedness of creditors in particular, on two previous occasions, when he had “served time” in the New Bailey.

Defendant was supposed to be between thirty and forty years old and was a married man.

Mr Green was difficult to catch, but at length, on Friday evening, he was “snared” and conveyed to his comfortable old quarters. Mr Green, however, grumbled at the inconsiderateness of the judge in giving him another spell.

The warders thought a bath would tone his nervous system, and hinted as much. The bath room was reached, and the attendant urged Mr Green to “throw those things off, and step in.” Mr Green made a most unreasonable objection; the attendant interjected a threat, and then laid hands on the prisoner after the gentlemanly manner of Government officials.

Waistcoat followed coat, and both lay on the floor, when a long pause took place. Mr Green affirmed something which rather astonished his friend. Certain, other officials were immediately summoned, and the affirmation was confirmed. Mr Thomas Green was a lady!

A difficulty immediately arose in the minds of the officials with respect to the legality of detaining the “lady.” The county court offices are near the prison, and, we believe, one of the officials was summoned, the result was that “Mr Thomas Green.” after being subjected to a curious interrogation, was dismissed to her affectionate wife.

Green stated that when very young, she was in the service of a lady who, requiring the services of a little page, dressed her up as a boy, and she has retained the dress of a male ever since.

After leaving service, “Mr. Green” worked in a mill as a hooker and stitcher, drawing men’s wages. Being tolerably well off and lonely, he married. Mr Green’s marriage, the neighbours say, has been a very happy one.

5th May 1861

A NIGHT SCENE IN ST JAMES’S PARK

Mary Ann Simpson, an ugly, ragged and dirty prostitute, was charged with assaulting two working men, named Thomas Lort and Francis Chamberlayne.

It appeared from the evidence of the complainants that they were passing along the Mall in St James’s park, when they were accosted by the prisoner. She asked them to give her some money, which they refused, and upon her becoming importunate and pressing against them as she walked beside them, they pushed her away.

She then uttered a loud shriek; upon which four soldiers, who had hitherto kept out of sight, rushed upon them and attacked them with their belts, beating them about the head with the buckles and ultimately throwing them on the ground and kicking them as they lay there.

The prisoner assisted the soldiers and struck both complainants. Upon a policeman approaching the soldiers made their escape, but she was taken into custody.

The prisoner was fined 35 for each assault, making £10, or four months’ imprisonment.

THE IRISH QUESTION

It was broad noon when I paused at the mouth of Neale’s-passage, lying between Earl-street and Castle-street, and, attracted by the sound of music and rejoicing, looked down. Midway in the grimy thoroughfare (which contained about twenty tall houses), and reclining on a costermonger’s barrow, were two Irish pipers—real Irish pipers, such as never my life before have I seen in London—with genuine long tailed coats and tall, jauntily-cocked hats, piping an inspiring tune, while swarming the road and pathway were a great number of the female sex, some dancers, some lookers-on.

Some of the females were hideous, yellow-fanged, and smoke-dried hags, wearing nightcaps with full and flapping borders; some were muscular creatures, brawny-limbed, and middle-aged, with a manly expression of countenance, and with their hair first twisted into a wisp about as smooth and certainly as thick as a hayband, and then bundled up and secured by a substantial knot behind; some were little, old, slovenly-bosomed, draggle tailed women of sixteen; while others, again, were straight-limbed, comely damsels, with teeth defiant of neglect, and with rosiness of a strength superior to all opposition. These latter, for the most part, wore handkerchiefs over their heads and tied under the chin.

From almost every half-glazed, rag-stuffed window in the face of the tall houses protruded a head, sometimes two heads, more or less hideous, the lips, as a rule, bearing a filthy little pipe. Equally as a rule were the upper windows garnished with reeking rags suspended to dry on the thrust-forth clothes-prop, or with ropes of onions, or with shreds of dried cod or some other such dainty, the outer wall being the only place beyond the reach of the picking and stealing digits of little children, hungry as wolves in mid-winter.

Only two of the dancers—there were ten or a dozen of them—danced at one time, while the rest squatted on the thresholds of the wide-open doors, or leaned cross-legged against the walls, or sat on the kerb and regained their spent breath, while at the same time they cooled their slipshod feet in the gutter.

With the exception of the pipers there were no men present, which went far to show that it was neither wake, wedding, nor extraordinary merrymaking but merely an ordinary afternoon’s piping by the ordinary St. Giles’s pipers, whose Christian names were familiar in the mouths of the dancers who ordered Barney to play “fashter,” and rebuked ” Mike Sullivan, bad luck to yez!” for keeping incorrect time.

It is, of course, an extremely foolish idea; but when one sees nobody but Irish people, never Scotch never Welsh, the sole inhabitants of localities of the metropolis given over to filth and squalor, one is almost brought to entertain the question—is it the Irish that make wretchedness and depravity, or is it wretchedness and depravity that make people Irish?

28th April 1861

JEWS ATTACKED IN POLAND

Several arrests have taken plane at Warsaw in consequence of the singing of patriotic songs in the churches.

In the manufacturing town of Lodz the German manufacturers broke into the houses of their Jewish competitors, on the night of the 21st inst, and entirely demolished their factories.

The peasants in the immediate neighbourhood came to the assistance of the Jews, and a bloody conflict ensued. One person was killed and many were wounded.

INSULT TO A JEWISH POPULATION IN MOROCCO

Considerable disturbance and excitement mention occurred in Mazagan on the day after Good Friday.

The Roman Catholics of the lower order determined to enjoy the pious amusement appropriate to the day, of hanging and afterwards burning and dismembering stuffed figures representing Judas Iscariot.

Unfortunately, they dressed their figures as Jews with flowing beards, which costume, however historically correct, could not fail to be viewed as an insult by the Jewish population of the town.

The Jews collected in great numbers, and demanded that the figures should be removed. Failing in their request, they assaulted with stones the house from which one of the figures was suspended. This led to the Moorish soldiery being called out, by whom the crowd was quickly dispersed and order restored.

The Moorish population, we are told, entered into the amusement with the most exuberant joy, following the mock Judas, who was paraded on an ass through the streets, and yelling with delight when a leg or an arm of the supposed Jew was shot away.

ANOTHER FAKE ACCUSATION AGAINST THE JEWS IN RUSSIA

Authentic letters from Wilna, which have reached the metropolis, give a detailed account of an awful calamity which has befallen the Jews of a whole district, in the District of Kowno. The particulars are these:—

Last January, a little peasant girl, of the village of Schawlan, was missed. Suddenly the report was spread that the child had been kidnapped by the Jews, in order to make use of its blood in the Passover ceremonies. A judicial inquiry was at once instituted, the houses of the neighbouring Jews were thoroughly searched, but no trace of the girl could be discovered.

A month afterwards her body was found under a mass of snow, which had begun to melt.

The village priest then preached in the church that the Jews, after having drawn the blood from the child, had buried the corpse in the snow. The proprietor of the estate, equaling the priest in fanaticism, made the same assertion.

The excitement of the ignorant peasantry against the unfortunate Jews thus spread farther daily, and at last grew to such intensity that it became really furious. All intercourse with the Jews of the whole district was cut off, and any Jew that dared to show himself in the street was assailed with hatchets. Moreover, the leading Jews of Schawlan were at once thrown into prison, there to await their trial as murderers.

As is usual at such times of excitement, an informer, who had witnessed all the proceedings of the alleged crime, was not wanting. A worthless individual, a Jew by birth, and a thief by profession, who had just been discharged from gaol, came forward, stating that he was present when the Jew slaughtered the girl, and caught up her blood, and even named all the individuals who participated in the atrocity.

When this terrible news reached Wilna, the capital of the province, the Governor General Nasimow, a truly humane and enlightened gentleman, at once dispatched Count Tolstoi, accompanied by an intelligent Hebrew, to the spot, in order to inquire into the subject, and there can be no doubt but that the Russian authorities will thoroughly sift the matter. But the course of justice is naturally slow, the conspiracy against the Jews widespread, and the rage of the peasants ungovernable.

The sufferings of the Jews at this moment, from popular fanaticism, are truly awful. Nothing but the prompt and efficient protection of the Government can save them from impending destruction.