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CRIMINAL TRIALS-PUGILISM-BRUTAL EXHIBITIONS.
5 other utensils was scarcely fit for drinking attitude of the population. It was a time of after it had stood in filthy yards or in close transition, or rather we were on the edge of confined rooms, subject to all kinds of eman. further important changes in our political and ations from drains and other sources of in- social relations, and it was not to be wondered fection. As to daily ablutions, or even of a at that there were some extravagances which weekly bath, there was scarcely a poor neigh- were occasionally difficult to reconcile with bourhood where such a provision existed; and the belief in general moral and intellectual in London even the better class of houses progress: but in looking back it is more easy were not, and many of them are not now, to assign to them their true character as final provided with any water supply for bathing ebullitions of certain popular sports which purposes, nor with a bath to receive it even were becoming obsolete, or as peculiar results if they chose to pay the extra rate which the of the substitution of one kind of public companies demand for providing the means amusement for another, or even as the outof ordinary cleanliness.
come of those transmutations which follow a Other towns and cities of the kingdom have sudden endeavour to introduce the customs long been far in advance of London in this and recreations of other countries, where even respect. Among the great public enterprises amusements are directly controlled and regulof the year 1859 had been that of the Glasgow lated by government officials, Water Works Commissioners, who obtained The records of crime during this period were an abundant supply of fine water fronı Loch not remarkable for increased brutality, but it Katrine. To overcome the first great en- may be mentioned as having some relation to gineering difficulty they had been obliged to an account of the social aspects of the time, tunnel a mountain 600 feet below the summit that there appeared an increasing reluctance for 2325 yards in length and 8 feet in dia- to convict of crimes involving capital punishmeter, and this was only the first of a series ment, except on the most indisputable evidof seventy tunnels measuring altogether thir- ence, and with an evident desire to give any teen miles in length.
prisoner the benefit of the least doubt rather The boys were traversed by nearly four than inflict the extreme penalty of the law. miles of iron pipes and the rivers and valleys The consequence of this was a considerable by above nine miles of aqueducts. Londoners extension of the time during which every
immight well have looked with longing eyes portant trial lasted--the minute examination on a scheme which provided Glasgow with of the evidence of numerous witnesses, and fifty million gallons of pure soft water daily; the gradual adoption of the present cumberand the completion of the works, the total some and apparently unnecessary proceeding cost of which had been about £1,500,000, was of trying cases twice over-once before the sigualized by the presence of the Queen, with police magistrate or the coroner, and again Prince Albert and two of the princesses, her before the tribunal to which the accused was majesty having journeyed from Edinburgh committed. to the outflow at Loch Katrine on her way Perhaps one of the most remarkable evidsouthward, for the purpose of inaugurating ences of what many people regarded as a the new enterprise by putting in motion the declension of public morality, or at least a apparatus for admitting the waters of the reaction in favour of what may be called gross lake into the first tunnel.
and brutalexhibitions, was the almost universal
interest expressed in a great prize-fight beIncreased political and commercial liberty, tween the so-called pugilistic “champion of enormous additions to public works, the ex- England ” Tom Sayers, and an antagonist tension of the means of travelling, and nu- named Heenan, but known as the “Benicia merous adaptations of discoveries and inven- Boy," who came from America for the avowed tions, were accompanied by certain significant purpose of wresting the “ belt” from the man changes in the social if not in the moral who had been proclaimed the most formidable boxer in England. For some time it was tacle, but he also received severe though only found difficult to arrange a match, but the temporary injuries, and might have succumbed proposed conflict had caused so much excite- to Heenan, who, it was said, caught him at the ment, and was known to be regarded with so ropes and nearly strangled him, but that some much expectant attention among influential alleged unfairness in this proceeding caused persons, that, either the police were baffled, or the umpires to put an end to the fight, just as they made only a show of taking effectual the police, who had at last mustered in suffi. means for preventing what was clearly an cient force, broke their way into the ring. illegal assembly. On the 17th of April, 1860, This termination to the horrible spectacle a special train left London Bridge station, and, caused much dissatisfaction and a good deal eluding a number of mounted police who were of crimination between the rival backers, stationed for a considerable distance along the which was but imperfectly allayed by the line, where it was expected the passengers presentation of a belt to each of the comwould alight, turned off from the supposed batants. Sayers, however, who was regarded
| route and stopped at Farnborough. Not far as a hero, made a kind of triumphal entry into from Aldershott, in a field on the Hampshire London and afterwards into Liverpool, conside, a ring was formed, and the two men, siderable sums being collected for him on the who had there met for the first time, stood up Stock Exchange and at other places. The amidst a great crowd of spectators, largely event might not have found a record in these composed of noblemen, gentlemen of rank, pages but for the fact that one of those places members of parliament, members of the was the division lobby of the House of Comlearned and artistic professions, and even of mons, where “the great prize-fight” became clergymen. It is only reasonable to conclude the subject of part of the proceedings. Mr. that some kind of sentiment not very easy to W. Ewart, member for Dumfries, rose to ask explain had grown out of the public excite- whether steps would be taken to prevent such ment, and probably also out of the bellicose brutal exhibitions in future, Mr. Vincent spirit promoted by the recent aggressive tem- Scully, an Irishman with a considerable dash per of the country, which eclipsed the actual of humour in his character, gravely protested nature of an exhibition more brutal and sick against the “outrage of public morals,” which ening than had ever been witnessed even in he averred would not be tolerated in Ireland. the modern prize-ring. There is no need to Sir George Cornewall Lewis, as home secretary, follow the revolting details. Heenan, the made a half serious half humorous reply which American, was a youthful giant six feet two meant little or nothing, and in which he reinches in height, of enormous muscular pro
marked that "it had been said that pugilistic portions, with overwhelming strength, and in encounters afforded a model of fair fighting, perfect training. Sayers was but five feet and afforded an inducement to practise a mode eight inches high, and though a powerful man, of fighting better than the use of the bowieand rendered hard and enduring by constant knife or the stiletto, or that other mode of exercise, not comparable to his antagonist ex- fighting not uncommon in Ireland, namely, cept for activity, cool skill, and that sort of with the shillelagh.” This was, of course, one intrepidity which is of the bull-dog sort. For way of getting out of the difficulty, but Lord thirty-eight"rounds” these two men pounded Palmerston had declared that he saw nothing each other with blows, by which they were more demoralizing in a boxing-match than in frequently dashed to the ground. Heenan's an ascent in a balloon. This declaration may face was battered out of human semblance, have had some pungent truth in it, but the fact and when the fight was over he was com- remained that prize-fighting was an offence pletely blinded by the terrific and repeated against the law. Many of the members hits of his adversary, one of whose arms had chuckled or laughed outright at the home been completely disabled at an early period of secretary's evasion of the difficulty, and some the fight. Sayers was a less dreadful spec- of the sporting representatives of the nation
stationed themselves in the lobby and levied occasional resorts like the fairs, these places contributions for Tom Sayers which amounted were open nightly, to admit the debased and altogether to about a hundred pounds. But the degraded as well as the comparatively innofrom that time the prize-ring ceased to be ac- cent. In some instances the music-halls became knowledged as a national institution. It was, sinks of immorality, and in most cases they perhaps, a good thing that the latest attempt possessed dangerous facilities for contracting to revive it had been accompanied with so vicious habits and joining evil company. Since much that was revolting, and when the false the Great Exhibition of 1851, and subsequent enthusiasm cooled," the championship" of pro- on supposed familiarity with foreign customs fessional bruisers soon ceased to be of any and aniusements, there had been constant imperial or of much public concern.
endeavours to assimilate some of our public “I am not very proud," wrote Cobden to recreations to those which were represented to Mr. Hargreaves, “of the spectacle presented be the simple, gay, and sober amusements of the by our merchants, brokers, and M.P.'s in their people who resorted to the concert-rooms and ovations to the pugilist Sayers. This comes gardens of France, Italy, and Germany. The from the brutal instincts having been so sedu- most conspicuous result seems to have been lously cultivated by our wars in the Crimea, the multiplication of licenses, which included and especially in India and China. I have amusements neither simple nor sober even if always dreaded that our national character they could be called gay; and the resuscitation would undergo deterioration (as did that of of certain "gardens," where, if the “humours" Greece and Rome) by our contact with Asia. of old Ranelagh and Vauxhall were present, With another war or two in India and China, the gross immoralities of both were probably the English people would have an appetite sonetimes surpassed. Of these public gardens, for bull-fights, if not for gladiators."
that called Cremorne, on the banks of the Lord Palmerston's remark that a boxing river near Chelsea, was most conspicuous and match was no more demoralizing than a bal- most largely patronized. It was known that loon ascent had more in it than may appear personages of high rank frequently visited it at first sight. There was a general tendency and joined with demi-reps and the demi-monde to increase exhibitions the chief attractions of in the bals masques and other amusements. which were the perils in which the performers For some time it was a resort of all the “fast” were placed, and balloon ascents, including set in society, and even some of the more a male or a female acrobat swinging from a prudent went occasionally to see what it was “ trapeze" fastened to the car,-or mounted or like; but a peculiar fatality attended it. To suspended on a kind of platform surrounded maintain its attractions constant changes of by fireworks, were found exceedingly attrac- performance and “sensational” exhibitions tive. Women, or youths pretending to be must be provided, and the proprietors could women, performed gymnastic feats, the least
not make it pay.
Among the excitements failure in which, or in the apparatus, would of Cremorne were the periodical insolvency be dangerous and might prove fatal. These of its entrepreneurs. Fortunately, perhaps, exhibitions took place in music-halls and other for our moral and social progress, the public places. The music-hall itself was becoming a bal masqué did not take any definite hold permanent institution. The old fairs like that on the class of persons whom it was most formerly held at Greenwich had been abol- likely to injure, and though such entertainished. Bartlemy and Bowand Stepney fairs had ments were frequently attempted, they evenbeen suppressed in the interests of public order tually became, like the modern bal de l'opéra and morality, but large buildings, licensed for in Paris, very dreary affairs, in which the music, for stage-dancing, and for performances performers were mostly of a low and degraded of other descriptions, and licensed also for the class, appearing in meaningless costumes, and sale of strong drink and tobacco to the audi- adiling to their ignorance the extravagant ence, began to multiply. Instead of being orly / imbecility produced by intoxication. The at
tempt to introduce the Parisian fashion of bringing up the fire-engines from every quarholding these assemblies at our theatres failed, ter of London at a tearing gallop to the scene as it deserved to do, but not before it had been of conflagration. There was no want of water, associated with a serious loss upon the public, but neither engines nor water were of any for even as early as March, 1856, one of the avail in saving the property. The theatre most calamitous results of a night's entertain- blazed within its four hollow walls like a furment of this description was the destruction nace, and at half-past five o'clock the roof fell of the Royal Italian Opera House at Covent in with a tremendous crash. The building Garden by fire, so suddenly that in two was uninsured, no office having been willing hours the stately fabric was in ruins. During to grant a policy after the fire of 1808. Mr. the operatic recess Mr. Gye, the lessee of the Gye had effected an insurance on his properties theatre, had sublet it to a performer of sleight- to the amount of £8000, and Mr. Anderson of-hand feats, who called himself Professor to the amount of £2000. Mr. Braidwood, the Anderson, and was known as “The Wizard experienced superintendent of the London of the North.” He brought his short season fire establishment, was of opinion that the to a close by an entertainment described as fire had originated from spontaneous combusa “grand carnival complimentary benefit and tion among the masses of waste stuff accumudramatic gala, to commence on Monday morn- lated in the workshops-an opinion strengthing and terminate with a bal masqué on Tues- ened by the evidence of Mr. Grieve, the sceneday night.” On the last day of the show the painter, who stated that on a previous occaamusements proceeded with animation, and if sion he had called attention to a heap of such with freedom still with decorum, until, as the materials allowed to gather, and which, when night advanced, the more respectable or cau- removed by his authority, were found to be tious withdrew, and the disreputable yielded too hot for handling. The theatre was not to the temptation of excitement and wine. rebuilt till May, 1858. After midnight the theatre is said to have But though many extravagances arose out presented a scene of undisguised indecency, of the changes in public customs, there were drunkenness, and vice, such as the lowest many indications of a remarkable improveplaces of resort have rarely witnessed. Be- ment in our popular amusements. The grand tween four and five o'clock the professor promenade concerts, over which M. Jullien thought it time to close the orgies, and com- presided, have already been mentioned, and manded the band to play the national anthem. they had been effectual not only in popuThe gas at the same time was turned down a larizing much of the best music, but in inlittle to warn the revellers to depart. At troducing some of the best performers in this moment the gasfitter discovered fire Europe to large audiences of the middle and issuing from the cracks of the ceiling, and even the decent lower classes in London. amid the wildest shrieking and confusion the From all parts of England people came to drunken, panic-stricken masquers rushed to “Jullien's concerts" at Covent Garden Theatre, the street. It was now hardly five o'clock, and along with the performances of oratorios and yet in the few minutes which had elapsed by the members of two harmonic societies at the doom of the theatre was sealed. The Exeter Hall, this “monstre orchestra” may flames had burst through the roof, sending be said to have developed a taste for the exehigh up into the air columns of fire, which cution on a grand scale of good vocal and inthrew into bright reflection every tower and strumental music. M. Jullien had but a short spire within the circuit of the metropolis, career. He died in an asylum for the insane brilliantly illuminating the whole fabric of in Paris, and his successors scarcely mainSt. Paul's and throwing a flood of light across tained the attractions which had made his Waterloo Bridge, which set out in bold re- concerts so famous, but performances by large lief the dark outline of Surrey Hill orch ras and “monstre" concerts of various This glare operated as a speedy messenger in kinds were not dependent on any particular
REFINED AMUSEMENTS-CONCERTS-ALBERT SMITH.
conductor, and associated “choirs," includ- given with an easy rapidity which carried the ing those of Sunday scholars and various audience with him from beginning to end. societies, repeatedly appeared at the Crystal He was perfectly familiar with the scenes he Palace and at Exeter Hall. At the former described, and the characters he portrayed place the great "Handel centenary,” which were familiar to the audience. Perhaps his was celebrated by a performance of the great was at one time the most popular entertaincomposer's works, was an important event. ment in London for refined and educated It lasted three days, the 20th, 21st, and people, and as he himself used archly to ob22d of June, 1859. The central transept was serve, numbers of persons would attend it converted into a vast concert ball 360 feet and would secure seats for their families, who long by 216 wide, containing an
would on no account enter a theatre to witness 77,000 feet, and there were also several tiers a regular dramatic performance. The queen of galleries. The choir numbered 2765 per- and the royal family were particularly desons, the band 393. On the first day above lighted with Mr. Albert Smith's performance, 17,000 persons were present, on the second and the Prince Consort notices it in his jour18,000, and on the third nearly 27,000. The nal with the words “very amusing" appended receipts of the three days were above £33,000 to the entry which appears among much and the expenses about £18,000. Thencefor- graver matters. The lectures which had deward the Handel Festival became an annual lighted London, and had made the fortune of celebration, and was looked forward to by Chamounix, by sending thousands of English large numbers of persons in London with as travellers thither, were continued and repeated much interest as the annual musical festivals with almost undiminished success, till, unhapin some of our cathedral cities excite in the pily, the genial author and raconteur was almost inhabitants of those districts, and the musical worn out, and though a robust man, he fell connoisseurs who attend the performances. into ill-health, and to the great grief of a wide It is scarcely possible to refer to the numerous circle of friends to whom he was much enand varied forms of public amusement which deared, died at the age of forty-four, on the 22d seem to have made this period the commence- of May, 1860. It
be mentioned that Mr. ment of a new era in the art of “entertain- Albert Smith had married Miss Mary Keeley, ment," without mentioning the charming de- the daughter of the famous comedian, and scriptions and humorous sketches of character herself well known as an actress at the Adelphi by Mr. Albert Smith at the Egyptian Hall in Theatre. Numerous entertainments of a simiPiccadilly. Albert Smith, already well known lar elegant and refined description attracted as a witty journalist and novelist, whose con- considerable audiences. Lectures on science tributions to Punch and other periodicals had at the Royal Institution, where Professor often made the world laugh, was also distin- Faraday showed brilliant experiments, were guished for genial bonhonie, an attractive supplemented by others at various institupresence, and for that rare and valuable art tions, and notably at the “Polytechnic” in of becoming in a moment on good terms with Regent Street, a great resort for juveniles his audience, which is certain to command whose parents or guardians believed in comsuccess for a lecturer. His entertainments bining instruction with anıusement, and therewere humorous, but graphic and striking de- fore were willing to devote a long eveuscriptions of the journey to Switzerland and ing to the diving-bell machinery in motion, the Bernese Oberland, especially to Chamounix: the diorama, a lecture on chemistry, a great gas of the ascent of Mont Blanc, and,-as a separ- microscope reflecting objects on a screen by ate lecture,—of the overland route to Hong means of a magic lantern, and a series of songs Kong. The course of his “lectures” was di- in the nature of an "entertainment” to accomversified, not only by excellent panoramic pany the beautiful series of dissolving views. views painted by Mr. Beverley, but by stories, The “Polytechnic" had formerly had a rival sketches of character, and original songs, all in the “Adelaide Gallery,” near the Lowther