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LONDON GOSSIP., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
[Fbom Oub Special Correspondent.] London, September 25. THE TRAIN MYSTERY. The coroner's jury have returned an open verdict in what is called the "train mystery " oase, but I have no doubt myself that Mrs Bryan committed suicide. The story unfolded through the catastrophe was chietly interesting because it did not develop at all after the ordinary fashion of the threevolume novel. The beginning certainly seemed quite in order. We have most of us met in fiction the busy professional man, strong and kindly though perhaps a little stem, who marries an hysterical girl of morbid tendencies aud badly-balanced mind. Dr and Mrs Bryan just answered to this description. Presently, of coarse, came along the young friend of the family, Harold Ashton. Mrs Bryan cheered up amazingly in his society, and the doctor gladly encouraged his visits, delighted to find his home rather more comfortable. By - and - bye commenced tbe primrose path of platomc affection. Ashton wanted nothing more. Mrs Bryan, however, evolved a grand passion. She was amorous, gushing, tempestuous. Let them fly together "all for love, and the world well lost." It was a beautiful programme, but to a reporter—a provincial pressman—on a pound a week hardly feasible. Dr Bryan interrupted, or was told of, these too affectionate demonstrations. He ought by the unalterable laws of romance to have bought ft horsewhip and fliyed Ashton alive. Instead, he had a friendly talk with him. The lover left Northampton, and the lady tried to end the story by taking poisoo. She did not, however, consumo enough, and, promptly repenting, was stomach-pumped by her husband and recovered. After t hat Dr Bryan appears to have had a pretty bad time. Hiß wife avowed herself a wicked woman and demanded a separation. He replied: *' Pooh ! She had been indiscreet, that was all. Let her behave herself and look to her home duties." This was, however, the last thing that the good lady desired. No heroine bereft of her lover ever behaved like that. A bleeding heart well in evidence and accompanied by gross hysteria and morbidity seemed far more appropriate. Dr Bryan appears to have shown wonderful patience and forbearance. At last, to give (as he said) her nerves a chance of righting themselves, he allowed his wife to go to Eastbourne lo a boardinghouse kept by friends. She was watched, and discovered to be writing to Ashton. The latter replied but tepidly. He was, I suspect, tired of the whole silly business. Mrs Bryan addressed theatrical epistles to the doctor, which he answored with much common sense. Here is a letter of hia that was read at the inquest:—" Your letter eard just received. You say you don't know how to act. 1 will tell you. Come back when you leave Eastbourne to your home. Nothing ia known. There is no necessity to separate. You will have peace here if you can get rid of morbid fancies.—Ever your husband." Finally Dr Bryan invoked the help of Ashton's mother. This lady visited Mrs Bryan and implored her to leave her son Harold alone; Dr Bryan wished it, Harold wished it, she wished it. Mrs Bryan was much older than Harold was, and ought not to lead him wrong. At this suggestion of being passi Mrs Bryan became furious. Accusations of immorality she could endure, but to asperse her age was intolerable. She despised the recreant Harold, and would return to her husband. Wring to the latter, she said : " I am a little uncertain whether I get back •to-night or to-morrow. Mrs Ashton came here and insulted me. You have always proved my best friend, and I am deeply grieved to have pained you. I will explain everything when we meet. I was misled, that is all, and, before God, I am sorry. Let me send you one word of love, and believeit. I am sorry I did not go to Devon with Amy. Give her my love. I expect I shall be baok before this letter arrives. With love,— Hilda." Later Mrs Bryan wired to Ashton to meet her at Euston, but he didn't turn up. This, I fear, gave the final chagrined impulse to her half-di3traught mind, and between Willesden and Bletchley she must have leaped from the railway carriage. On the whole,' it was perhaps the kindest thing she could have done for all parties. AN INTERESTING EMIGRANT. The announcement of Lewis Staunton's release and departure for Australia carries one back twenty years to the days when the Penge mystery was the topic par excellence of the hour. You will find the story told fully in Montague Williams's ' Leavea of a Life.' Suffice it to say here that Lewis Staunton was accused of deliberately starving his wife to death with the assistance and connivance of his brother (Patrick Staunton), of his sister-in-law (Mrs Patrick Staunton), and of his paramor (Alice Rhodes). At the Police Court the evidence for the prosecution seemed overwhelming. Such a tale of cold, passionless cruelty had seldom been heard even at Bow street; and if the people could have got at the prisoners they'd have torn them limb from limb. Poor Harriett Staunton was hidden away in a garret of a cottage at Cudham, and, lying on straw and covered with vermin, slowly done to death by her family. The process was deliberately and systematically carried out. On some daysthey gave her no food, on others just a little, and then they made a fatai'"mistake for themselves. Fearing trouble at Cudham, they hit upon the expedient of taking lodgings at Penge, under the pretext of seeking advice for their viotim. Lodgings were obtained, medical advice was forthcoming, and so, later, wa3 a post mortem. It was after this that the PeDge doctor withdrew his certificate of death, and communicated with the coroner. For a moment he had accepted the statements of the Stauntons, but on turning matters over in his mind he came to the conclusion that the neglected and verminous state of the woman's body pointed to something more than the explanation of meningitis offered. Then came the trial. It was the first criminal case ever taken by Sir Henry Hawkins (just translated from the Solioitor-Generalship to the Bench), and he displayed strong bias against the Stauntons. Mr Clarke (now Sir Edward) appeared for Patrick Staunton, and became famous through his eloquent and ingenious defence. His theory was that the deceased succumbed to a then but indifferently understood disease, meningitis, and he elaborated and backed it up with extraordinary skill. Harriett Staunton was admittedly almost imbecile, and her habits were filthy. None of the Stauntons were too particular about soap and water. She might not have been properly looked after, might even have been carelessly neglected, but between that and deliberately starving her there was a wide difference. The medical evidence was conflicting, as usual, but the leading doctors nearly all said Harriett Staunton died of meningitis. Mr Clarke made a great impression both on the jury and the public, bnt Judge Hawkins summed up for a conviotion, and all the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death. Mr Montagu Williams was counsel for Lewis Staunton, of whose guilt he seems to have felt little doubt. Nevertheless the final scene in court touched him nearly. He says:—' * I was watching the prisoners a3 the jurymen took their places, and the scene was, indeed, a moving one. Lewis Staunton stands at the corner of the dock, to all appearances dazed. In the centre sit Patrick Staunton and his wife, hand in hand, and apparently locked together. Alice Rhodes is in the further corner, and, like her paramor, is stricken motionless with terror. The former gives cut the verdict in a voice choked with emotion. Moaning pUeously, Alice Rhodes falls into the arms of the female gaoler, and is gently placed in a chair. Patrick Staunton sustains the body of his wife, and implores her to be calm, to which she answers: ' I will, I will.' Lswia Etill gazes into vacancy, with neither word nor look for Alice Rhodes." Though the verdict of the jury was generally approved, Mr Clarke had succeeded in raising uncomfortable doubts both in the minds of the public and the authorities. The more the latter inquired into the evidence the leis certain about the murder they became. Ultimately all the prisoners were reprieved and their sentences commuted to penal servitude for life. The Home Secretary very soon after.wards released Alice Rhodes, whose complicity was exceedingly doubtful. She became a waitress at a city restaurant, and made pots of money for her " enterprising "
employer. Patrick Staunton, died in prison two years later, his wife surviving him eight years. Lewis Staunton served his full term, less remissions for good conduct.. He proved a model prisoner, never having been punished once. The man is now forty-six years of age and in robust health. I do not know to what part of Australia Lewis Staunton is going, nor when he starts. If I did I shouldn't tell. The ex-convict adheres to the statement that, though extremely culpable in the treatment of his weak-minded wife, he had no idea of starving or actively ill-treating her. Furthermore, Sir Edward Clarke's theory finds far more medical support now than it did in 1877. In view of the terrible possibility that Staunton may be a man' appallingly punished for nothing worse than marital infidelity, one hopes that should aoy old acquaintance come across him at your end of the world he will hold his tongue and extend a helping hand. ROMANCE OR HOAX. The sensational statement disseminated toward the end of last week by the Continental newspapers to the effect that the Archduke Fratz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austrian throne, who represented the Austrian Court at the Queen's Jubilee, had secretly married in London the daughter of a Kohlscheid engineer, by name Maria Hu&smann, has not panned out well under investigation. The eccentricities of the House of Hapsburg in matters matrimonial rendered the tale of the Archduke's alleged mesalliance, highly probable ; but so far no proof of its truth is forthcoming. On the other hand, evidence is not wanting to show that the young lady in the case has been the victim of an impudent imposition, if nothing worse, The story now favored by the Berlin papers is to the effect that the supposed Archduke introduced himself to the Fraulein Husamann'a family as Dr Arend, and, having established himself in their good graces, revealed his pretended royal statues. He persuaded Maria to accompany him to London to be married, and on September 10 the couple disappeared, the girl leaving behind a letter in which she stated she was going into " the wide world." One paper suggests that the soidisant doctor is neither more nor less than an agent for procuring girls, and it appears that he did actually try to persuade a sister of his fiancSe to accompany them to London. The missing girl, it U said, took away with her 40,000 ma"rka in cash, her own little fortune. Some of the Austrian papers, however, still cling to the original story, in spite of official contradictions put forward in the semi-official organs. The ' Politischer Tageblatt,' indeed, goes so far as to say that the Archduke's intentions were well known in the Austrian Imperial circle. But it has been clearly provedsince that the story, so far as the Imperial house was concerned, had no foundation in fact. It appears that Miss Huesmann was entrapped into marriage by an impostor whoso real name is Emile Behrend, formerly a traveller to a Liege wine merchant. Behrend now declares that his marriage has not been legally celebrated, this statement being borne out by hia paramor, who further accepted Behreud's impersonation in the light of a joke. The couple had funds in their possession amounting to 7,000fr. Behrend was arrested for assuming a false name, while Marie Hussmann finally yielded to the entreaties of her brother to return with him to Germany. THE THAMES MYSTERY. The processes of the law, like those of the fat philosopher in ' The Crusaders,' are somewhat slow. On August 5 the body of a man was found in the Thames, naked and tied round with ropis. The inquest held on the corpse—that of a man Gfc4in in heightonly established the fact that death had been due to strangulation. There was nothing to establish the identity of the unfortunate fellow, and, the jury having returned what was practically an open verdict, the body was interred in a pauper's grave at Ilford Cemetery. Later—a week or ten days after the burial—a Madame Von Veltheim turned up and urged that the body was that of her recreant spouse. She obtained the Home Secretary's consent to an exhumation of the remains, but the forms and ceremonies connected with this ghastly process were only completed in time for the disinterment to take place on Saturday last, six weeks after the burial. Madame Von Veltheim's inspection of the remains convinced her that they were those of her faithless husband, and now wo are wailing a fresh inquiry into tho circumstances connected with Von Veltheim's death. That he was brutally murdered cannot well be doubted, for the rope which encircled his arms and neck was tied in a fashion which rendered the idea of suicide utterly untenable. The career of the dead man was a peculiar one. Ludwig Von Velthein, a German subject, lost his parents at a very tender age. A wealthy uncle made himself responsible for the child's upbringing. He gave him a good education, and whilst in his teens young Von Veltheim joined the German navy. A few years later he seems to have tired of the discipline of a man-o'-war, for we find him fighting as a voluuteer under Prince Alexander in Bulgaria. When the Eastern question which that young man raised had been settled, Von Veltheim, then a stalwart young giant of eight-and-twenty, set out for Australia. Landing at Perth he made«the acquaintance of a Miss Yearsley, a young girl of eighteen. It was a case of lovo on sight, and a very brief courtship resulted in marriage on November 9, 1886. The happy pair commenced married life as travellers, but at length settled down in the United States. Von Veltheim became a naturalised Yankee, and in 1893 was appointed United States Consul at Santa Marta. But Von Veltheim's appetite for travel caused him to relinquish his position, and in 1896 he brought madame to London. The twain put up at the Metropole, but Von Veltheim's extravagant habits led hia relatives in Germany to reduce his remittances, and, possibly with a view to moving their hard hearts, he left madame in London and made a journey to Germany. Returning to this country on New Year's Day last, Von Veltheim appears to have taken up his quarters sans madame at a boarding-house in Gower street. Here he met, wooed, and won a fair young Greek named Marie Mavrogodato, who was engaged in nursing her brother. Either Von Veltheim's attentions distracted her too much from her charge, the doctors bungled, or the young man's case was hopeless—at any rate he died. Soon after M. Mavrogodato's decease Von Veltheim escorted Marie to a registrar's office at Kensington, and from thence they emerged as man and wife. The honeymoon had scarcely got to its fourth quarter ere Marie became aware of her lover's previous essay in matrimony, and a suit in the Divorce Court ensued. On July 9 Mr Justice Barnes granted Miss Mavrogodato's petition, and pronounced a decree of nullity. Von Veltheim did not, of course, contest the suit, but, according to his wife's-account, disappeared almost immediately tho trial terminated, and nothing was seen or heard of him thereafter. The police are now engaged in trying to trace his movements between July 9 and August 5, but the clue 3 they have to work upon are of the slightest, and it seems only too probable that the murder of Ludwig Von Veltheim will he added to the ever-growing list of Thames mysteries.
A CHAT WITH A " CRAMMER." The British Army of the future promises to be officered by a widely different class of men intellectually to the British Army of the past, and it will be interesting to note what sort of practical soldiers they make. I was talking the other day to Mr J. L. Stuart, of Brighton, who is in partnership with Professor Mitchell, the ablest and most successful of all army " crammers." Mr Stuart last term passed five young fellows out of six into the Service, a very remarkable achievement, bearing in mind there are on the average at least a dozen candidates for every vacancy. As proof of the- increasing severity of the entrance examination he pointed to the fact that amongst his present pupils were university graduates. This signifies that the accumulated learning of three years, which enables a man to describe himself as "Bachelor of Arts," is insufficient to get him into the army. Surely a curious anomaly. For tho education imparted by our public schools Mr Stuart has nob much respect. According to his theoiy masters devote themselves to half a dozen clever lads, likely to win scholarships and do the place credit, and leaveHhe ruok to learn what they choose. Asked on what subject he found the young men who came to him most ignorant, Mr Stuart replied
promptly " English." "It is (he adds) the rarest thing in the world to find a youth who can write his native tongue or understands the elements of English grammar. Australians and New Zeaknders are specially bad in this respect, and likewise ignorant of English history. I had a New South Welshman once with fists like legs of mutton and sufficient "side" on to Bink an ironclad. But he appeared lo have been educated chiefly on au atrocious print called, I believe, the ' Bulletin.' "
" Did you pass him ?"—" Ultimately, but we had failures first. The chap wasn't a fool. He meant to be a soldier, and when he found that there was only one way he worked like a Trojan." " What private means do you require to go into the army ?"—" It depends on the regiment. In the Guards, for example, or a crack cavalry corps, a man ought to have £3,000 or £4,000 a year. In the line he could get along with £6OO or £7OO. The expensive regiments are naturally the easiest to achieve." SNAKE STORIES : EXTRA SPECIAL.
Contributors to the Press do not, I am afraid, always realise their responsibility. There id among well-educated as well as working people a tendency to take every, thing that appears in print as gospel truth. The same people who swallow with perfect faith the most outrageous story appearing in their daily paper will, if by word of mouth you tell them a similar yarn, wink the other eye and murmur " Not taking any." And yet a story told and entirely disbelieved may not be half so improbable as one accepted because it is set forth plainly in black and white. It was not so many months ago that I saw an article on New Zealand in the ' Scotsman.' The writer for a time followed the strict path of truth, but after a while branched off into the purest fiction, without even hinting that he had entered the realms of romance. Among other things, he declared that the northern part of New Zealand is inhabited by cannibals, from the attacks of whom the white settler is protected by regular guards. Then he went on to say that the 100-mile bush in Taranaki was infested with suakes, reptiles, and wild animals, which frequently claim their victims from both white and black population. The tui or bellbird he described as about the size of a half-grown ostrich. This, no doubt, appeared very funny indeed to him, but it has a much more serious than humorous side. Very little is known about New Zealand, and it is my opinion that about three-fourths of the people who read that article accepted it as true in its entirety. A little story of much the same nature was gathered from somewhere, and appeared in the ' Westminster Gazatte ' last week. "Although most of the meinbew of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales are accustomed to seeing snakes," said the writer, "both in the bush and sometimes down in town, it is not often that they have an opportunity of seeing them in the Legislative Chamber itself. One of the members, Mr Griffiths, a supporter of the Government apparently, entered the House the other night with a huge snike coiled round his arm, and took his seat behind the Treasury bench. It was not long before several members rose to call the Speaker's attention to the presence of the objectionable 'stranger,' and the offending member slipped out of the Hou3e with alacrity before tho Speaker could bring him to order. Snakes appear, indeed, to be giadually making their way into public life in the present Australian colony. A little time ago at an election meeting up the country a black snake was was thrown at the candidate, and the meeting ended with a fight among the free and independent electors, who pulled snakes out of their coat pockets and lashed each other with them." Now, I am a fairly credulous sort of person, but I am distinctly not open to swallow this story. I should probably choke with it only halfway down if I made the attempt. 1 have no doubt but that there is a grain of truth in it, but 1 am afraid that it is a small fraction of the fabrication. The second part is the hardest to take in, and I can only see one explanation. The person who witnessed that election meetiDg and has since promulgated the story must have been at the time in a condition to see Bnakos, even in the Emerald Isle, from which we all know reptiles were banished many centuries ago by St. Patrick. THE WRATH TO COME.
Now is tho season of the prophets. " Old Moore" and the lesser lights of the almanacprogco3ticating profession have issued their usual annual forecasts, and mankind knows exactly what to expect in the year 1898. According to " Old Moore" we are in for a really bad time next year. " Dire distress and trouble," says the " Old 'Un," " will envelop the nations a3 with a garment. Crowns will fall, and in some cases heads with them." So much for Europe, but the trouble is not to be confined to the area of the older civilisation. In America " a fearful and bloody" racial war is to come about. The Southern States are to be "deluged with blood," and "scenes enacted recalling the days of '63 and '64. And in the end the nigger has got to go." Where he is going to the prophet doesn't condescend to explain. August ia to be an especially unlucky month. There will be "ruin, havoc, death," and a few other distressful things in the air, and the Ancient warns all good people to put their houses in order. In tha month London is to be startled by the news of a great riot in Sydney. This, the Old 'Un tells us, " will bo caused by a large and well-organised strike amongst many of the railway men, the grievance being that considering their prolonged hours of labor they feel they are justly entitled to better pay. The authorities will have to call out an armed force." Bloody murders in Africa and " a combination of events . . . will come as an astounding disclosure, involving as they will the whole of our commercial interests," are also down to August's share of calamitous '9B. And finally that unhappy monarch the Czir of Russia is to be translated to, let us hope, a happier sphere. But though August will have its full share of the good things going next year, the event par excellence, ia reserved for November. In that month of fogs, Lord Mayor's show days and Prince of Wales's Birthdays, communication is to be opened up with the planet Mars. It is to be hoped that they are a more lovable and less destructive race than Mr H. G. Wells makes them out to be in his ' War of the Worlds,' otherwise we may regret ever having attempted to exchange compliments with them.
September is to he a comparatively dull month, but "Old Moore" gravely informs us that " the bushrangers of Australia will be getting more reckless than usual, and we may expect to hear of the capture of a gang of ruffians which has long been the terror to the squatters over a very large area." Among the minor happenings during the year may be scheduled the discovery of the North Pole, " a calamity of unprecedented magnitude on the Thames," the kidnapping of the little King of Spain, "a terrible family bereavement" for the Prince of Wale?, the attainment of the dearest wish for the German Emperor's heart—whatever that may be and the dekilting of our Highland regiments. For February "Old Moore" opens his predictions by expressing satisfaction that "the time is close at hand when a universal charge for postage will be made in regard to our colonies. The long-felt want of a penny postage between England and Australia will come as a great boon, and help to stimulate a friendly feeling for the Mother Country." The "Old'Un," however, "can hardly say that he thinks it possible that Australia will ever be as prosperous as she was years ago. Although there may be many discoveries of the precious metal, still it will scarcely be sound speculation, as most of the finds of gold run in small pockets." But I'm forgetting one important item in " Old Moore's " predfeiions. During May a collision will occur between "the greatest two European Powers," so the Australias must hold themselves prepared to make good their Jubilee boasts. The " Old 'Un" doesn't say Eugland is to be one of the contending parties, but of course " the greatest two " must include the greatest Power. The rest of his prophetic utterances are of the usual ambiguous character, as, for instance, the announcement that in July " uneasy crowds will be seen gathered round the Mansion House waiting in dead silence for a bulletin the contents of which will cause a piofound sensation throughout the Empire." rRINCE RANJITSINHJI. At the Cambridge Guildhall, on the night before he left to join the Qrmuz, Prince
Ranjitsinbji, who has already distinguished himself as an author, made a capital speech in answer to the toast (proposed by the mayor) of his health. He thanked them very much indeed for the kind and hearty way they had responded to the toast proposed by their able mayor, and for the kind reception they had again offered him. It brought before him vividly the very generous way they feasted him exaotly twelvemonths ago, when he had the proud privilege of being at the top of the batting averages.— —(Applause, and a voice: "So you will be again.") Although this did not nece3satily mean being the best batsman of the year, yet he must say (and he said it with pardonable pride) that it was an honor he considered second to none —an honor he considered equal to playing for Eogland against Australia. It was also a pride to him to know that while he was playing cricket against Australia a relative—and a dear one, his uncle—was fighting for his Queen—(cheers)—on the frontier in India. He could assure them that if they knew the feelings', as he did, of the Indian troops, and especially the Rajputs, England need never fear a foreign foe. They all knew the composition of the team of which Mr Stoddart would be captain. It was never safe to predict in cricket, but he~ thought that they might rest assured that the team who were going out would in no way disgrace England, and, well knowing that they were backed up by public opinion in England, he was quite sure they would fight with all the keennesß and pluck which were ever so characteristic of English cricket, as well as for everything else English. It had been a real privilege to be there that evening, because it had given him an opportunity of seeing so many of his well-wishers and friends. He thanked them for the kind way they had treated him all those nine years. He had tried to do hia best, he could assure them, and he hoped when he came back—and he trusted it would' not be very long—he might still have their regard, esteem, and affection (Great cheering.)
At the conclusion of Prince Ranjitsinhji's speech the audience sang ' For he's a jolly good fellow' and gave three times three both for the speaker and Mr Stoddart's team.
Everybody ia very glad that Australia will, after all, see the great Indian batsman. In Brighton last Saturday, at the Orleans Club, I wa3 assured by a venerable gentleman, whose reverent aspect precluded tho suspicion that he might be Ananias in disguise, that money matters would prevent "pore dear RaDJi" joining Mr Stoddart. This, indeed, appeared to be the common talk of the Sussex watering place, where the young Indian has always been extremely popular. The legend there run 3 that " Ranji" is hard up, owing to the machinations of scheming relatives, who have persuaded his uncle, the Rajah, to disinherit him in favor of an infant born comparatively recently. The go3sip3 say that Ranji had originally £3,000 a year and has now but £6OO. This, if true, would account for a good deal. The falling off in his averages is certainly explained by nearly everybody on the ground that he was worried this year by family and financial troubles.
LONDON GOSSIP., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
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