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EXPOSURE OF KATE MARSDEN.

(From the Special Correspondent of the Dunfdiu Star.) Loxdow, August 17th. The scandals iii connection with " that swoet woman " Miss Kate Marden have at last culminated, I am thankful to say, in the complete exposure of the lepers' friend. For some time past, as you know, Truth and the Charity Organisation Society have had Miss Marsden's case in hand, and a considerable time ago the former warned charitable persons against entrusting further moneys to her. It was not, however, till last December, when the "dear Bister" returned to St. Petersburg laden with plunder from the Chicago Exhibition, that her friends could be persuaded to take any action with regard to the charges against her. Then, in order to put an end to what they regarded as gross slanders, it was decided to thoroughly investigate them once and for all. The Secretary of this Committee was the Key. Alex. Francis, Pastor of the British - American Church at St. Petersburg. He now writes to The Times : — Sir — A Committee of Investil gation, composed of friends of Miss Marsden, was formed, with official sanction, at St. Petersburg in December of last year, for the purpose of investigating a number of serious charges preferred against Miss Marsden by various people ia England, America, and New Zealand. I communicated the result of the inquiry to Mies Marsden's London Committee, whose chairman informs me that he and his Committee recognise that Miss Marsden's leper work is necessarily at at end, and intend immediately to dissolve. His Excellency M. Pobedonostzeff, OberProcurator of the Most Holy Synod, has authorised me to state that he will be pleased to receive and forward to Siberia, for the relief of lepers there, any moneys contributed for that purpose which may still be in the hands of the London Committee. On the formation of the Investigation Committee, Miss Marsden engaged that, in the event of the enquiry resulting in a decision adverse to herself, she should surrender all the decorations, commendatory letters, etc., bestowed upon her by Imperial and Royal personages — an engagement which it is now my painful duty to call on her to fulfil. An acknowledgment of the truth of the gravest of the charges against her has at last been made by Miss Marsden in writing and communicated to me by her London Committee, and thus I have, at least, the sad satisfaction of knowing that no possible injustice is done to her. Valuable assistance was given to the St. Petersburg Committee of Investigation by, amongst others, the London Charity Organisation Society, the editor of Truth, Lady Henry Somerset, Miss Willard, Mrs. Andrews, Dr. Kate Bushnell, a large number of representative men in New Zealand, and especially by Miss Isabel F. Hapgood, of New York, U.S.A., to whom all who have the interests of true philanthropy at heart are deeply indebted for her public-spirited work in connection with this case. Miss Marsden's recent actions have imposed upon me the necessity, which I had hoped to be spared, of asking you to give publicity to those facts — ?I am, etc., Alexe. Francis, Pastor of the St. Petersburg British- American Church, * and Secretary of the Committee of Investigation. Kingswood, Loats Road, S.W., August 15th. Headers of your London correspondence will not require telling that for years past I have profoundly distrusted Miss Kate Marsden, and discredited her alleged good works. It was, indeed, Mr. Francis informs me, the sceptical paragraphs which .appeared in the New Zealand papers which first attracted tha attention of the Charity Organisation Society, and other English guardians of in- ( discreet philanthropists, to that lady's proceedings. My own recollection of Miss Marsden goes back to (I think it must have been) 1887, or even earlier. She then, you may remember, communicated some astonishing information regarding "lepers in New Zealand" to Mr. Stead and the old Pall Mall Gazette. This was roundly ridiculed by the colonial papers, and one of th9m (I think the Wellington Post) made exceedingly merry on the subject of Miss Marsden as an authority on leprosy. The article touched the lady on the raw. She was furiously angry, and wrote a violent letter to Mr. Mennell (the only correspondent then known to her), who passed it on to me. This epistle was the beginning of my prejudice against

II " Sieter Kate Maraden." Its c >mbination of nauseous piety and no id spite disgusted me. The final paragraph stated the writer was starting the next day for Siberia, in order to discover a specific for leprosy which, in shape of some plant, was said to grow there. Later on, I heard that Miss Marsden had resolved to follow in the footsteps of the sainted Damien, and to devote her life to nursing the Siberian lepers. Subscriptions were raised in all directions, and after many months of preparation, the fair missionary started. What followed, you know. For over eightoeu months Miss Marsden travelled about the Continent, enjoying (as she wrote herself) capital times, and raising money for "my lepers." Many great ladies were touched by her cheerful selfabnegation in wishing to bury herself for ever in the wild North land to nurse loathsome lepers. Among others, the Empress of Russia granted the heroine in embryo an interview. This made Miss Marden in Russia, and she had several more pleasant months in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. Ultimately, however, it became necessary to at least make a show of looking up "my lepers," so in 1890 (wasn't it?) she visited Siberia. In less than six months Miss Marsden was back in London, full as an egg of adventures, and with quite a changed programme. Before, Bhe said, the nursing of the lepers could be commenced, hospitals and a settlement would be necessary. For these she proposed to collect more funds. Some tiresome persons now began to ask what became of previous moneys given Miss Marden. In lectures, and interviews, and what not, one heard any amount concerning Sister Kate's adventures in the past and intentions in the future. What, however, one did not hear was how "my lepers" had benefited. After a time the Marsden " boom " — very brisk for a London season — declined. Even a visit to Balmoral, and the Queen's approving commendation of her mission, could not wholly suppress the persistent reports concerning the lady's financialirregularities. Ultimately, the C.O.S. took up the matter, and Miss Marsden prudently departed for Chicago. REPORT Of THE INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE. This afternoon I waited on the writer of the letter in The Times. At first, he was decidedly opposed to furnishing any information at all on the subject, but after a little explauatioD, and on learning the part I had taken in the earlier Bteps which led to the exposure of the archadventuress, and of the extent to which the question had Deen ventilated in the New Zealand Press, he put me on the track of the information I sought. The following has been, therefore, communicated through an absolutely reliable source, duly authorised by Miss Isabel F. Hapgood, of New York, U.S.A., who during a period of four years has been endeavouring to accomplish what at last has been achieved — the complete exposure of one of the most clever and daring female impostors of the day. The facts, which are thoroughly attostod by official documents which were laid before me, are of a very sensational character, and should all the details of the exposure fever see the light, a number of people moving in good society will be implicated. The following is a report of the interview with Miss Hapgood's accredited agent : — What is the nature of the letter in which Miss Marsden made the confession which is referred to in the letter to The Times?— We have a number of letters from Miss Marsden, which have been seized or secured by the Russian police, and which the Committee has obtained from London, Chicago, and New Zealand. The two main issues submitted to the Investigation Committee at St. Petersburg and the findings thereon were as follows : — (1) Did Miss Marsden endeavour to borrow money' upon property which she alleged she possessed in New Zealand ? — Yes. (2) Did Miss Marsden ever possess, or was she heiress to, any landed property in New Zealand, and, if so, where is it situated ? — Finding : Miss Marsden possessed no property whatever in New Zealand. (3) Was Miss Marsden guilty of grossly immoral conduct with any woman ? — Finding : Miss Marsden ha,d immoral relations with, several women in different countries. These questions were forwarded to St. Petersburg by the London Committee. My next question was — What was the total amount which Miss Marsden embezzled ? — We cannot say what the total amount was. The evidence shows that she robbed a large number of people, especially women with whom she had immoral relations. They were mostly wealthy women, and a good many of them moved in good society. The Investigation Committee bad the names of these women before it, and from some of them we have letters confessing their guilt. Who were the people in New Zealand who assisted the Investigation Committee ? — We have sworn documents from the managers of two accident insurance companies, with both of which Miss Marsden acted fraudulently. We have also sworn documents from the RegistrarGeneral of New Zealand, from two well-known medical men (one of whom has been in practice for forty years), from a savant who has resided there thirty years, from a colonist who has travelled over New Zealand during twenty years, from a lieute-nant-colonel, and a Judge of the Supreme Court. These gentlemen, in the words of the report, " are indignant to learn by the English newspapers that Miss Marsden has recounted statements which they know to be lies, and deceit towards the Queen of England, and other sovereigns, and other Royal families. This report is an expression of indignation at the statements Miss Marsden has published concerning her charitable activity in New Zealand and other countries, which statements are absolutely false, and that it was in consequence of these false statements that she was received by the Princess of Wales, and afterwards by the Queen of England and the Imperial Family of Russia. What action is Miss Marsden taking or threatening ? — Miss Marsden has gone over to the Roman Catholic Church, and is now in Germany, possibly to escape the consequences of her misdeeds, or to exploit the German people. But our report will follow her. She has written several letters at different times threatening legal proceedings, but has never followed them up. They were merely bluff. What were the decorations she held? — She held a letter from the Empress of Russia, recommending her mission, which gave her unprecedented privileges throughout the Empire. She also had a decoration from, the Queen of England, which only one other woman in the world posseeses — Miss Florence Nightingale. She has also an autograph letter from the Queen of England. What led the St. Petersburg Committee to enter upon the investigation ? — Rumours for a long time have been vaguely afloat, and these ; were formulated by Miss Isabel F.

Hapgood, of New York, of whose services I cannot speak too highly. She has shown great energy, and spent much money, in tracking down the impostor. What are the names of the Committee of Investigation ? — The Chairman was His .Excellency General Sabler (Adjunct Procurateur of the Most Holy Synod), Professor Paterson (a high authority upon questions of this kind), Rev. Dr. Parker (United States of America), Princess Tcherbatoff (of Bt. Petersburg), Mrs. Willard (of Berlin), and Rev. Alexander Francis. Did Miss Marsden offer any defence? — She attended some of the first meetings of the Committee, and | she answered certain questions in j writing, but when onfronted witu ! documentary evidence, she loft St. Petersburg while the Committoo was in sessiop, and returned to England. I may add that the Committee was really formed with the object and in the hope of clearing Miss Marsden's character, and of proving what liars the New Zealand newspapers are, and especially their London correspondent — I mean yourself (this with a capacious smile). Many of the facts which came before the Committee were supported by letters written by Miss Marsden to her victims. There they are (indicating a large envelope bearing various official seals). They were received by the Russian police, working in conjunction with the American and London and other authorities. Tho letters are a tissue of lies and daring misrepresentation. Look at this, for example — "I was met by the Russian Ambassador, and he entertained me at dinner." It was sworn in evidence that the Russian Ambassador was not theie at the time. In answer to my question whether there was any probability of any action by Miss Marsden, he remarked — "Not tho slightest. The evidence is too complote and unanswerable."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP18941006.2.47

Bibliographic details

EXPOSURE OF KATE MARSDEN., Evening Post, Volume XLVIII, Issue 84, 6 October 1894, Supplement

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EXPOSURE OF KATE MARSDEN. Evening Post, Volume XLVIII, Issue 84, 6 October 1894, Supplement

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