The Ninety and Nine


WE were, they said, a queer family. But in the late ’eighties and the ’nineties many people were queer, and they intended by their oddity to be the spearhead of a new age. Queen Victoria might very well be allowed her two jubilees without ungracious complaint; and there was no urgent call to be rude to the captains and the kings who came to London to blow out their chests on such occasions. But Victorianism, so far as it might be considered too conservative a check on conduct and ideas, was overdue to be got rid of; and those who now began to struggle out from under often made strange gestures.

For instance, in the matter of clothes. At school, our ladies were accused to me of odd dressing. ‘My mother saw them at church parade last Sunday, and she says they wear window curtains. Yah! Window curtains!’ Really it was a matter of sprigged muslin, unflounced and untrailing; the womenfolk of our family were feeling after a little grace and simplicity, as against the fearsome fashions of the time. Then my father, around ’86, took to wearing at all times a brown velveteen coat and an orange Windsor tie, somewhat incompatibly combined with a white shirt having an immense stiff front. This front had an extraordinary habit: when its wearer, presiding, as was his wont, at the forum conducted in his house, would move in his chair with a thoughtless jerk, the front would buckle about halfway up its east side with a sharp report; so that a speaker standing forward at the lectern was likely to take to feeling his back, from a subconscious fear that he had been shot. Did he look around and say, ‘Sir?’ he would meet only with an amused smile. My father loved his detonating shirt.

Politics and religion were in his blood, that he should come to conduct a forum. Two centuries earlier, Oliver Cromwell had lifted some psalmsinging Independent out of Lancashire and taken him along to help kill Irishmen and eventually to be planted out on some routed ‘papist’s’ acres. This was on my father’s mother’s side; as regards his father’s side the adventure went back only as far as the Restoration, when Charles II ‘granted’ Irish estates, first gained in some similarly devious fashion by the Crown, to another movable Englishman, who apparently paid cash for them.

Until the advent of my father, the whole family remained staunchly Tory; its head circa 1800, indeed, held the office of First Lord of the Treasury in the last Irish Commons, and, with a majority of the House (as everybody knows), sold out for a round sum to the Sassenach. He must have spent his thirty pieces — some hundred thousand dollars, it is said — during his remaining years, for, although certain of his children and grandchildren did nose around afterward in search of the remains, there were none that they could find. Had there been any, my father would have refused a share: he had experienced a change of soul. Being asked sometime in the ’seventies to fight the great Daniel O’Connell himself for the representation of Limerick in the English House, he discovered that he was no longer of the family way of thinking in politics, and refused. Henceforth he was a man outside the Pale. With characteristic Hibernian inconsequence he transferred his fortunes to London — to find, like his junior, Bernard Shaw, that the English, even if they were, for the purpose of an argument, tyrants and bloodsuckers, still were by no means ill to live among. But he devoured the writings of Carlyle and Ruskin and continued to think furiously for himself.

It was more immediately through religion that he broke into the movement for democracy-by-discussion. Among his ancestors was that queer Countess of Huntingdon who formed a select personal religious ‘connexion’ which still bears her name. And there was a close Irish forbear who insisted, when he married, that he and his bride should stand on his mother’s tombstone while the deed was done. Not that this necessarily indicated oddity: ethics has its geographical aspect; no doubt a man ought not anywhere to botanize on his mother’s grave; but why, say in Ireland, should he not get married on it? Still, it did hint at an independent mind. My father, whether through inherited religious willfulness or not, fell, in his middle years, into theological heresy. He came under the influence of Frederick William Farrar, who preached that there is no such place as Hell, and who, naturally enough, — for the doctrine must be especially comforting to politicians, — had been made chaplain to the Commons. My father’s humanitarian heart thrilled at the teaching; he wrote two novels based upon it; and Farrar, who had hard sledding because of his heterodoxy, so that in the end they shelved him in a deanery instead of making him a bishop, treated him with open recognition. We did not belong in Farrar’s historic parish of St. Margaret’s, Westminster; nevertheless he gave us rush-bottomed chairs just by his pulpit, where the pews of the Speaker of the House, the Master of the Rolls, and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod were adjacent. Musty company, no doubt, but the best he could provide.

The No-Hell idea, except for Farrar’s advocacy, made somewhat silent progress. To my father it seemed that it should be shouted by every adherent from his housetop, or such other spot on his premises as might be most convenient. Quaintly enough, he was also a passionate anti-Darwinian, and had stumped the country in defense of the Book of Genesis much as Mr. Bryan was to do in America — only that my father had a terrifying torrential eloquence, an undisciplined oratorical fury, which, I am sure, would have made even the silver-tongued Great Commoner shake in his shoes, as it did anybody else who heard it. But the newer propaganda, so truly liberating to agonized souls, had an even greater appeal; my father, craving to save poor distracted folk from the fear of Tophet, bought an offering of used conservatoire chairs, ebony-framed and seated with maroon rep, set me to row them out weekly in a big room in his house, and invited the world to hear him talk for a series of evenings, free of charge, on ‘Hell, Damnation, and Eternity.’

Various of the respectable daily organs of opinion to which he sent his advertisement declined it; in one instance explaining that the composing room had no insurmountable objection to setting up in type ‘Hell’ and ‘Eternity,’ but it drew the line at the second member of this dreadful trinity of words. Our experience did not happen to include the interior of a printing shop of that day, or we should doubtless have laughed loud and long at this excuse. As it was, this example of Victorian suppressions helped not a little toward my father’s determination, when he had done awhile with quenching the everlasting flames, to throw open his meeting place to all comers, and let who would, or who could be persuaded, take the rostrum and bang his or her drum.

William Morris, the poet and craftsman, it was true, had already got a forum going in a whitewashed stable in the Hammersmith Mall. But it was doctrinaire-socialist in intention, and its audience most glaringly queer. My father was bent on hearing all sides and getting them heard; and as for his audience, it was unusual only in being that hitherto unknown thing among audiences in Victorian London, a rough cross section of the social structure of a varied neighborhood of the time. Here were to be seen ladies and gentlemen, even lords, if not very many or very regularly; occasional clergy; representative local butchers and bakers and candlestick makers; butlers, footmen, cooks and ladies’ maids, carpenters, barbers, teachers, artists, politicians, undertakers, journalists, and even social wrecks.

The free-for-all discussion following the customary lecture was commonly opened by the most articulate of the butlers, continued by any except the lords and ladies, and closed by a pathetic foundling, the son, one suspected, of some backstairs misalliance; beautiful of face, compounding fine taste and the gutter in his speech; often startlingly acute in his judgments, but accustomed to slip out to the corner saloon on his bad evenings just before speaking — to return with a bold, bloodshot eye to contribute his five-minute harangue at the end. A medley of minds, they would crowd in on every Saturday evening, to sit on our ninety-nine chairs. Ninety-nine only there were; for the hundredth had been smashed in their original conservatoire by some early Paul Whiteman; and yet I do not remember that anybody dubbed us the Just Persons, or speculated whether, did a One Sinner arrive, he would miss the broken seat. Sinners enough were already there.


For years it was always a crowded house. And if as eminently respectable in the front rows as it was sometimes disreputable in the back ones, — through an intuitive process of social sorting, — the variety was due to the often sudden fame in those days of this queer person or that, who could be heard there. But partly also it was due to the mummies and the baked heads.

For, whatever William Morris might have to offer the Spartan-minded in the way of rough bricks and calcimine, as regards interest the environing details of our meeting place had him outclassed all the time. My father, having gone to New Zealand in young manhood to recruit his health, and to fight (quite harmlessly, I am sure) in one of the Maori wars, had brought home as mementos a sackful of sundried tattooed chiefs’ heads — those heads which a few years later used to be provided for sale, it was said, by the ruthless application of brummagem methods to desiccating one’s neighbor’s sconce. From dried Maori heads to Pharaohs is not, at least chemically, a very long stride, and to his collection of oddments thus begun my father had later added a couple of Theban priests in their coffins, unrolled, and a considerable selection of reputed North African sovereigns, named, addressed, and dated in a pretentious document which professed to translate the inscriptions on their tombs — but unfortunately without coffins, and rolled, therefore hard of further identification.

Let it be explained to the uninitiate that, where innocent persons might suppose a mummy deprived by unwinding of its mile or two of bandages to have been unrolled, in the vocabulary of the Egyptologist the deceased gentleman or lady has (like a ‘rummy’) been rolled. These remains which had passed to my father were purported to be those of one or another descendant of the generals whom Alexander the Great planted out as rulers in Syria or on the Nile; one, indeed, should have been great-grandfather to Cleopatra herself. The great Bonomi, of Sir John Soane’s museum, who examined them on a rumor of foreign transfer, reported with utter solemnity that they were ‘good mummies, and ought not be allowed to leave the country.’ Good mummies surely they were; they were perfect models of behavior, and they stood unmoving in their starkness, behind glass, along the walls of our forum chamber, never by so much as a wink of an eye suggesting a desire either for travel or for any other doubtful joy.

My father invariably presided, as he thought to be only right, in his own house. A man of protean personality — author, journalist, preacher, lecturer, traveler, phrenologist; crusader for prohibition, woman suffrage, republicanism, home rule for Ireland, antipoverty, trades-unionism, Utopia, personal immortality, what not. And with it all a great-hearted, though irascible, gentleman — things would not always go quite smoothly under his management. He had intense convictions, prejudices, proprieties; and the queer people sometimes tried them hard. Not irritable Wells, who must still have been grubbing at science in the South Kensington School a few blocks away, and who may or may not ever have sat in our midst. Not Chesterton, for he was only a Kensington boy in knickers like myself, we having been born in the same year, though not, doubtless, under the same star—and besides, when those joyful juvenilia of his did presently appear each Saturday in the Daily News, so that two young members of our household used to get up early to gloat over them undisturbed, my father thought them barely mitigated ‘tosh.’

But Shaw; inevitably there was a clash with Shaw. ‘I will speak for you,’ he wrote, ‘on “How to Become an Atheist.”' Fireworks! My father, in that early anxiety about, his health, had for a while peddled Bibles in Ireland from door to door. ‘Very well,’ replied Shaw to his protest, ‘I will not talk on that subject. Put me down to speak on “How We Become Atheists” instead.’ He was let in on that. He came in brown. Hair and beard red-brown; brown suit, hat, shirt, collar, tie, socks; shoes only not brown — brown shoes not yet having been devised. The Shaw shoes, if I remember rightly, were of black cotton with elastic sides; and their sole leather presumably had been stripped from some animal certified not to have been foully slain for food or glue, but merely to have fallen down dead.

The Shavian godlessness was of a sort that to-day would hardly disturb an Anglican bishop; and when later Shaw subscribed to the worship of a new sort of God, he did not thereby imply recantation of his old atheism. But this latter had an unpleasant sound in the ’eighties; and although Shaw did not on this occasion, as on a more notorious one, produce his watch and give the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob five minutes in which to strike him dead, we were all rather relieved when his visit was over. Free speech had been more or less vindicated, and that was enough.

William Morris tried us more severely; for he raised questions, not of religion or even morals, but of taste. To begin with, the great poet and PreRaphaelite wore a blue shirt. This was very early — we had not yet seen Shaw’s brown one; indeed, we had never seen any colored shirt except on some peasant or bricklayer, and my father’s immaculate stiff white one suffered an awful buckling at the sight of Morris’s butcher-blue. A Windsor tie was art, but a blue shirt was affectation — it was pretending to love the disinherited proletarian for what he was in his debasement instead of for what he would be after the Utopians should have done with him. It smacked of the Paris of Marat, and of blood.

But there was worse than this. The author of The Earthly Paradise in the course of his address actually referred to the ’fat guts’ of millionaires. Now, my father might talk about Hell and Damnation without feeling that he offended good taste; these were but dead dogs anyway. Also, no doubt, he had no great opinion of the propertied classes. But ‘fat guts’! Morris was never invited to address us again. He had appraised the tinkers and tailors, the scullions and cooks, scattered among his audience, and talked down to them; he had sought to tickle the groundlings, to play to the gallery. ‘Fat guts,’ indeed!

Keir Hardie, the third of the halfdozen great bearded socialists of the day, was more to our taste. We loved his private sweetness equally with his prophetic fire. Hardie was the only man who ever dared pull out a pipe in our anti-tobacco house and smoke it. He smoked by the fireside, after an evening of oratory, and told us his fondest expectation. It was a vision of serene old age, of a white cottage on a Scotch hillside, of rambling red roses, of poetry books, a few friends, an earned peace. The same dream as Ramsay and Margaret MacDonald’s; but MacDonald’s always serving and never resting wife died (if we wan people of civilization may borrow the brave term) with her boots on. So did Hardie. So too will ‘Mac.’ There is no final peace for social malcontents like them; peace is only a pipe dream.

Hardie first came to us before his big days — before his election to be the original and for long the only partisan of Labor in the Commons, when his ‘rip-roaring’ friends put him on a commandeered bus, with a brass band and banners, and took him down to be sworn into the House. He wore a homespun suit and a cap; the Commons thought it was the Devil and the world’s end. And indeed he was a terror for wrath and foreboding, and only King Edward could gentle him at all. The King had his appendix out just when it was getting respectable to have, or to have had, that organ. Then Hardie had his out; the King sent flowers and daily inquiries; presently they met (by royal command) at a garden party, and the thing was done. The seventh Edward could play gentleman to a gentleman better than any other monarch of his time; not, however, that, though he could meet Hardie, he could meet Shaw. As everybody knows, when he sent for Shaw to come to the royal box and be congratulated on John Bull’s Other Island, Shaw would not come. ‘The silly ass,’ said Edward. But then Shaw had never had his appendix out; probably he had n’t any, and knew it; being a man singularly without other superannuated vestiges, it may well be so.


Our eyes would certainly have goggled could we have foreseen what some others of our platform guests would eventually make of themselves, or be made into by the chances of the time.

There was Sidney Webb, a nice, healthy, innocent-eyed little mouse of a man, who bubbled with intelligence, rather than scintillated like Shaw, and did not dream that the fellow Wells, biologizing those few blocks away, was one day to impale him in The New Machiavelli like a kicking beetle on a pin. And Sydney Olivier, correct, polite, and fated to be the first man pitchforked by a Labor government into the House of Lords. And of course MacDonald, who visited us fresh from famishing in his attic (it was said), addressing envelopes at half a crown a thousand, and who was one day to be prime minister, and with his dour astuteness to hold back a young and obstreperous party from splitting into rags. All we saw then was great sanity, a schoolmasterly sternness; all we heard, to remember it, was his Highland brogue, and that when he meant ‘dose’ he said ‘doze.’

And Annie Besant, who had been deprived of her child by process of law as being unfit to mother it, because she denied her unfortunate clerical husband’s God, and was to ache from that maternal wrenching for a lifetime until she should find solace in the vicarious grandmothering of a returning Christ. Mrs. Besant had just risen from sitting at the feet of Helena Blavatsky, and came to us to make her first public address as a theosophist. Surely the greatest woman orator of that or any time, she was yet very meek that evening, and even shy. Privately she confessed to fright — it was a plunge for life or death out of the socialism, materialism, birthcontrol advocacy of her early middle years into campaigning for a doctrine which traversed them all. Question time had almost unnerved her; ‘I know so little as yet,’ she said, ‘and I could not guess what they might ask me.’ But the butlers and bakers looked upon her graciously, and heaven knows they had speculated about abstruse matters even less than she. And, besides, who could at short notice cease loving the woman who had welded the tragic, sweated, starved phosphorus-match girls of London in a union, fought with them the first women’s strike, and won it?

And Emmeline Pankhurst. It was Mrs. Pankhurst’s husband who talked suffrage in those early days; his wife, who was to become a world’s wonder, then merely sat up against our rattlestring piano during the musical preliminaries of a forum meeting and watched with solicitude and severity for the errors that little Christabel and Sylvia, pink-faced and rat-tailed, might make as they favored us with classical duets. We were feminists to the core, and would have shouted at a peep into coming political history. But I do not know what we should have said could we have foreseen Miss Christabel preaching ‘British-Israel.’ Perhaps that there were surely enough both of Englishmen and of Jews in the world already, without anybody trying to see double, or to prove that all Jews are really Englishmen, or all Englishmen really Jews!

A long procession of the odd folk passes. R. B. Cunninghame Graham, whose hair stood on end, and who boosted his mental processes periodically by endeavoring to roll up a very large white handkerchief into the likeness of a tennis ball. Edward Pease, who sought to persuade us that since a bright American named Gatling had invented a machine gun there could be no more revolutions — unless soldiers made them.

Then Stewart Headlam, who, entering the Anglican Church and being appointed curate of a London parish which included the theatre district, was shocked by the request of certain quiet and devout chorus girls not to reveal to any other members of his congregation their means of livelihood. Was the theatre, then, he wanted to know, inevitably a socially and religiously disgraceful thing? He set himself to rehabilitate the theatre in the eyes of the Church, and incidentally to help make it worthy of such rehabilitation. Especially, his fellow clergy must stand by the denizens of the stage, and not allow them merely to be used for entertainment and ostracized otherwise, thereby estranging them from ideals of decency and social self-respect. He took to attending in his clerical clothes the less reputable theatres, proclaimed (this was before Pavlowa and Bakst) the æsthetic and ethical possibilities of the ballet, and would walk along the Strand side by side with Terpsichore, in the person of this dancing girl or that. The bishops inhibited him from preaching. He would, however, lecture — a cherubic and yet faintly ironic-looking man, with a Cambridge voice, and usually accompanied by one or more sample ballet girls, presumably just then ‘out of a shop,’ who would sit in our front row looking very bored indeed.

Moving for years among these old scenes, one recalls a figure more striking than any other, an Olympian figure, walking with majesty, talking with deep bell-like tones — and a Boston accent. We called him ‘Our American.’ He was living for an indefinite period in London, and he mentioned research work at the British Museum; more than this for a long time we did not know. Nor did we ask. Such a question was not to be put to a man in the England of those days without a breach of decorum; perhaps it is not to be put even now. In America, let us be asked to dinner, and the strange lady whom I am told off to take in looks me over and says with the most pleasant of smiles: ‘What do you do?’ But in England one did not ‘do’ anything. The social convention was that one had an income, or contrived in some way to exist — and details might be asked of one’s acquaintances, as a matter of gossip, but never, as a conversational opening, of one’s self.

Our American came and went, a mystery. There were absences, from one forum meeting or from a month or months of them, but never a word of explanation. And yet he was, in a way, for long our closest intimate, sharing our supper table after meetings as a matter of course, discussing science, religion, literature, America; the Pilgrim Fathers, of whom he thought very little; Negroes, whom he loved; and the Irish, whom he hated with a consuming hate which my father bore from him with a minimum of flinching when he would not have tolerated a hint of it from anybody else. As a young man he had presided for Sumner and Garrison at antislavery meetings; probably he had fought under McClellan or Grant, only he was the sort of man to die rather than mention it. He was six foot two, straight as an arrow, white-haired, moustached, lofty of brow, with sculptured features and a magnificent aristocracy of eye. Then there were his great fur ulster, his invariable frock coat, and his silk hat — and his habit, did he make a call, of standing solemnly on the doorstep, watch in hand, for the exactly correct moment to lift his hand and knock. He was soaked in such psychology as a man might know at that day, and often took the forum platform to speak on it. And he would take his five minutes in discussion among the butchers and bakers, modestly and yet a little oracularly, as became a man who had, he said, taught school in his time — and who would admonish me (but only in private) on my folly, which was English enough, of pronouncing ’either’ as though its first syllable were German, and ‘trait’ as though it were French. And we could make no more of him than that.

Except, indeed, that I did think him odd on the subject of music. For he showed a livelier enthusiasm than most for the parlous playing and singing which formed a regular feature of our meetings. The visit of little Christabel and Sylvia appeared to delight him, thump woodenly on our doubtful instrument though they did; and the ladies of our household or from a neighboring artists’ colony who sang only so-so — how vigorously he applauded them all! Not that I, being a boy against whose mouth the Chapel Royal organist who conducted chorus at our school would put his big ear and then give him a duck’s egg on the weekly report, had any particular right to an opinion. But still one could not help feeling our forum’s sad mediocrity in musical achievement; and yet Our American would clap his long hands as though our performers belonged to the Heavenly Choir.

Then, unexpectedly, came the revelation of his specialty. There was a prima donna living on the next street, whose funny little husband — the sort of business-managing, cab-calling husband such ladies are likely to have — one day came running in at the open door of our house. He barely knew us, but excitement lent him familiarity. He had just seen our Jove-like friend leave. ‘Do you know who that was?’ he cried, with a sort of ecstatic certainly that such mere worms as we could not possibly do so. ‘Yes,’ we replied, ‘that is a friend of ours,’ and we pronounced his name. ‘But do you know who he is?’ he pressed, his eyes protruding. ‘Do you know that he is the greatest teacher of singing alive in Europe to-day?’

Well, William Oscar Perkins may or may not have been quite that. But was he not a sweet and self-effacing gentleman? Of course when we taxed him, he blushed rosily, but we got this and that of his story. A Harvard man, and also a doctor of music, he was collecting buried and forgotten musical treasures at the Museum. Incidentally he had trained the best-known, most-loved quartette of men’s voices of that day, — the ‘Meistersingers,’ — and taken them here, there, everywhere in Europe, though as to America I cannot say. When he died, these four distinguished men dedicated a costly sacrifice to his memory — they never sang together in public again.


It was the cooks and scullions who, in the end, destroyed our forum. That is to say, it was the spirit of democracy that had been let loose among them which operated crudely, as could hardly be helped. Certain aristocratic timidities had made my father keep the institution a pocket one. He may have imagined, as young Porphyry Benham was to do in Wells’s The Research Magnificent, that ‘all organization corrupts.’

The corruption in the present instance began with a china tea service and ended with a resounding split. The heavyweight of our discussion period was a sort of Chief Butler, a major-domo who managed a large household of other servants for a widow lady who lived mostly in bed. He was a mild Liberal in politics, dressed impressively, and had a nose like Louis XVI and a chin like a frog. A well-meaning man, but naturally, like many other members of our audience, full of the repressed emotions of a servile class. It was he who one evening was deputed to present the tea service to my father, who received it with what his family knew to be signs of grave discomfort; and indeed he was much too shrewd not to suspect that this contribution to the art of feasting was accompanied by a writing on the wall. Assuredly it was. A few days later the Chief Butler headed a deputation including other butlers, a local baker, a carpenter, and a custom haberdasher, to request the democratic organization of the forum, so as to allow of dues being paid, and to provide for the functioning of officers, trustees, and all the machinery of popular rule. Fundamentally they were right, and my father could not with any countenance say them nay. He only stipulated that so long as they met in his house (and therefore could compromise him) they should pay no rent, allow him to continue presiding, and submit the names of all proposed speakers for his sanction. They agreed.

Then, one day, at the end of a year’s service as secretary, the Chief Butler requested and was granted the privilege of entertaining the new society at our house to tea. Alas, his highly formal card of invitation bore no sign that the private residence to which his friends were called was not his own. Of course everybody knew that, but a Chief Butler, of all people, ought to have had the social gumption to mention formally whose residence it was. The fat was in the fire. My father summoned the offending domestic on to his study carpet, and for a long afternoon they fought a battle which might be counted as one of the historic incidents of British democracy had there been anyone to record the argument. The major-domo, for all his weak chin, could fight hard to save his whole face. But he did not save it — in the end he was forced to issue a new and socially correct card. Thereafter my father had an enemy, who still sat well forward, and spoke regularly, but bit his thumb nails to the quick and waited like a jungle cat for the moment which must sooner or later come for a crashing spring.

It was Henry Mayers Hyndman, another of the great bearded socialists, who unwittingly provided the opportunity for the Chief Butler’s blow. Hyndman came to us in order to expose what he considered to be the fallacies of William Booth’s notorious scheme for rejuvenating all the British downand-outs, for which he was asking the public to give him a million pounds and some arable land. In the course of his criticism Hyndman saw fit to describe the head of the Salvation Army as a ‘pious fraud.’

Now, at that my father made (or did not make, as you please) the presidential error of his life. He rose, whitefaced and trembling with anger, and unprecedentedly called the lecturer to order. He could not, he said, in any meeting where he presided, permit General Booth to be called a pious fraud.

It was not that he had any particular love for Booth, who was, indeed, a Hell-Firer of the most pronounced kind. But my father, as a side issue of the forum, had delivered a long and crowded course of addresses advocating the raising of a hundred or so million pounds on the security of the local poor rates, and the absorption of the ‘submerged tenth’ in a chain of national agricultural and craft villages in which the desperately poor, the old, and the weak might be trained in doing, under joyous conditions, such work as might fit their powers. It would in the end, he claimed, cost less than poor relief, and produce better results. It was a drastic, brave, and doubtless quite unsound proposal. But Booth had sent his latest ‘commissioner,’ Frank Smith (at one time Commander of the Salvation Army in America, and author of The Betrayal of Bramwell Booth), to get a view of the idea and report. Smith beat out with the old evangelist the terms of the modified, dirt-cheap scheme which Booth presented to England with the waving of banners and the crash of tambourines — the scheme which Smith himself was presently to wash his hands of when he entered the Labor movement, and which a quarter of a century later was to be pilloried with such terrible and even cruel scorn by Miss Rebecca West in The Judge. But to my father’s always kind heart anybody who got busy abolishing poverty, no matter how, was an angel from God; in his presence no such person should be called without challenge a pious fraud.

Of course Hyndman, who was some sort of cousin or connection of the Cecils, and a frequenter of Lady Salisbury’s salon, for all his Mormon whiskers and his Marxism, knew how to behave in another man’s house. He withdrew the harsh epithet graciously and without a hint of irony, and continued his discourse in strict parliamentary terms to its end. But the Chief Butler’s moment, after months of waiting, had come. He knew that the radical section of the audience loathed the Booth scheme, as did also the proponents there or elsewhere of the individualist doctrine that you must not undermine character and self-help. He was ordinarily a windy and grammarless speaker. Now in discussion time he rose to a crude oratory, and denounced the slight which had, he said, been put upon an honored guest, the foul suppression of free speech, the truckling to a ‘cheap-jack’ charitymonger, the dreadful pit of infamy into which this forum was about to fall if it did not revolt against its paternalistic president’s rule. Heaven alone may remember what magnificent nonsense he uttered. Anti-Boothists, suddenly discovering a fierce and unexpected Danton in their midst, cheered him to the echo. He called on all real democrats and patriots to gather with him presently on the pavement outside that they might at once plan a hegira to free and untrammeled quarters.

My father answered him never a word. They gathered, they planned, they went. Not all; the storekeepers, the governesses, the more genteel of the ladies’ maids, and the odds and ends of higher respectability stayed with us awhile; it was the joiners, the plumbers, the pastry cooks, the footmen, the gardeners, the between-maids, who set up elsewhere. In truncated fashion they lasted half a season; we a little longer; then, as it happened, my father’s health broke down, and the remnant of his forum eventually collapsed with it.

Before the end came Lewis Appleton, the Quaker dandy, the beau sabreur of peace. ‘Let me arbitrate,’ he said; ‘that is the sort of thing I am for; let me get you together over a cup of tea [unhappy phrase!], bury the axe for you, make this wilderness to blossom again like the rose.’ But my father had for once condescended to wrangle with a man who was a mere butler and to get the better of him; now he had permitted the mere butler to make his return. He had paid his scot to democracy and to the organization that corrupts; there was, for him, no more to be said. Like Shaw’s Cæsar, he wrapped himself in the mantle of an impenetrable dignity. He withered poor Appleton with a glance and a word. The peacemaker retired chapfallen and without a blessing; there was, he saw, no more to be done.