Orsam Books

Anderson and The World

In his 1906 book, Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement, Robert Anderson refers to Henry Labouchere's allegation that Inspector Jarvis had been sent to Del Norte, Colorado, in December 1888 to tout for evidence for the Parnellites. Of this, he says (p. 83):

'I was naturally indignant, and I determined to bring him to book.  But I could take no action on words spoken in Parliament. The course I adopted, therefore, was to give the facts to the editor of the World; and as I expected, "Edmund" drew "Henry" in the "Par." columns of Truth.'

What did this mean?

Well, 'Edmund' was Edmund Yates, the editor of the weekly journal, The World, who wrote a column in that journal under the name of 'Atlas'.  'Henry' was, of course, Henry Labouchere.

So how did Edmund 'draw' Henry exactly?

Before answering this, we should note what Anderson said about the Labouchere allegations in his March 1910 article in Blackwood's Magazine entitled 'At Scotland Yard', under the general heading 'The Lighter Side of My Official Life', because it is different in a number of respects to the version of the story that ended up in Anderson's autobiography of the same year.  Under the page heading, 'Mr Labouchere outwitted', Anderson says:

'He [Labouchere] was shrewd enough to guess that I was studiously concealing the purpose with which an officer of my department had recently been sent to America. The C.I.D. habitually tries to conceal its action in dealing with crime, and in this instance it was a serious fraud to the prejudice of the L. & N.-W. Railway Co. that the officer was charged to investigate. But, duped by a satellite of his, Mr. Labouchere announced in Parliament that my officer had visited a leading Fenian named Sheridan, and had, in fact, tried to induce him to give evidence for 'The Times' - a proceeding that would have been a grave breach of discipline on the officer's part. At one time I was a contributor to 'The World' and my friend Edmund Yates allowed me to use his pages to trap the editor of 'Truth' into repeating the statement in its columns.'

Anderson's summary here is a little misleading because, by the time Labouchere made his allegations, it was well reported that Inspector Jarvis had been in the United States to secure the extradition of Thomas Barton on behalf of the London and North-Western Railway Company but, at the time that Labouchere claimed to have been told what Jarvis was doing - in December 1888 - there had been no public statements as to why Jarvis was in America.  This story, has, of course, been set out fully in the Suckered! Trilogy on this website but that trilogy does not deal with the way Anderson used Edmund Yates and The World to 'trap' Labouchere. That omission will be dealt with in this article - and we will also see if Anderson used The World in any other ways.

The first mention of the story was in the 'Atlas' column of The World of 10 March 1890.  This is what it said:

'In the line of reckless assertion Mr. Labouchere distances all rivals. He pledged his reputation to produce proof that two English detectives named Jervis (sic) and Shaw were in Kansas in December '88, abetting the Times agent in bribing Sheridan to give evidence against Parnell.  A friend in Kansas had betrayed the plot to him.  I have discovered his informant. His friend is a female friend.  Her son is employed in the office of a local newspaper.  In fact, she is "the office boy's mother." Taking advantage of the fact that fifteen months have elapsed since this same story appeared in the American newspapers, she has palmed it off upon Henry.  I have been at some pains to investigate this matter, and I have ascertained that the whole statement about the mission to Kansas of "Constables Jarvis and Shaw" (they are well-known inspectors of the Metropolitan Police), with which Mr. Labouchere astonished the House of Commons last Tuesday, is a silly newspaper canard, and absolutely devoid of truth.'

It's a little hard to know if the claim that Labouchere's source was an office boy's mother is a joke or not, but one assumes it is.  Anyway, the piece brought a response from Labouchere in the next issue of Truth, dated 20 March 1890:

'Yes, Edmund, I am fully prepared to prove that Jarvis (not Jervis), a policeman in the pay of the English Government, went, in November 1889 (sic), to Del Norte, a town close by Sheridan's ranche, and entered into conversation with Sheridan. To the best of my belief, the fact never appeared in any American newspaper. Anyhow, I never saw it in one.  I have no reason to suppose that the officials at home connected with Irish matters in America would deny the fact. Jarvis was tracked from Kansas City to Del Norte.  How you could have fully investigated the fact, I do not well understand.  Anyhow, there has been a good deal more in the relations between the Times and the Government than are dreamt of in your philosophy my friend.'

Clearly, without knowing that this was a response to Edmund Yates in The World it would make no sense.  We can also surmise today that the investigation that Yates spoke of involved a conversation with the Assistant Commissioner of the C.I.D.

Yates (and his puppet master, Robert Anderson) responded to Labouchere in The World of 26 March 1890 as follows:

'Henry is incorrigible! He asserted in his speech in the House of Commons on the 11th that Jarvis and Shaw, English police-officers, were in Kansas City on December 20th to 25th 1888, in the interests of the Times. This, he declared, "he was prepared to prove by any amount of evidence."  I warned him last week that he had been fooled by some one who had palmed off a silly canard which went the round of the American newspapers in January 1889.  To which he made reply in last week's Truth: "I am fully prepared to prove that Jarvis...went in November 1889 to Del Norte, a town close by Sheridan's ranche, and entered into conversation with Sheridan.  To the best of my belief" (he adds) "the fact never appeared in any American newspaper."  In this he is quite right. "The fact," as given in this new version, has not even the authority of American journalism to support it. But this is not all. In a House of Commons question, which he handed in last Thursday, he delivered himself of a third version of the story - namely, that Jarvis (for "Shaw" has now disappeared) was at Del Norte in December 1888.  Henry is getting "rather mixed." We have, first, Kansas City, Christmas 1888; second, Del Norte, November 1889; and third, Del Norte, December 1888.  But the whole story in all its versions is a sheer fabrication, without even a plausible pretence of truth to colour it. I again refer to it, not for the purpose of warning Henry against his "intelligence department," for, as I have said, he is incorrigible, but to call attention to the sort of "facts" upon which Gladstonian Radical M.P.s rely in support of their ravings about "the relations between the Times and the Government".'

Following the settlement of the Jarvis v. Labouchere libel action in October 1890, Yates, rubbing it in as deeply as possible, commented in The World of 29 October 1890:

'Last week's Truth contains an apology from Mr. Labouchere to Inspector Jarvis of Scotland Yard, for the reckless and scandalous charges he has brought against that office. But Truth omits to mention that this apology was dragged from him by fear of facing a jury in the libel action his charge provoked, and that it has been accompanied by substantial compensation to the officer.  I hear that Inspector Jarvis has very reluctantly consented to abandon his action on the terms of Mr. Labouchere paying all his costs together with £100 damages, and publishing in Truth the retraction and apology referred to. A cheque for the full amount was sent to him last week.'

Thus did Robert Anderson ensure that the facts of the settlement by Labouchere were as widely reported as possible.

Knowing that Anderson was leaking information to The World, is there anything else we can discover from what 'Atlas' said about police matters in The World? 

Well it is of interest that, following Monro's resignation as Commissioner of Police on 10 June 1890, The World of 18 June 1890 stated:

'Mr Monro, it is to be feared, has played a winning hand badly. He held all the cards, and might with a little more judgment have again turned the tables upon his chief. He beat Sir Charles Warren, it will be remembered, and now, instead of resigning himself, he might have forced Mr. Matthews to go.  His mistake was the letter he wrote the Home Secretary.  Had he said, as he would have been fully justified in saying, that from the position he held he had ample and complete knowledge of the dangerous disaffection that was widespread in his command, and that this could only be allayed by adequate concessions, he would have been master of the situation. To have read such a letter to the House of Commons would have been the Home Secretary's own condemnation.  A minister who had put the case so plainly before him by the responsible head of the police must have either justified his refusal to accept the warning conveyed - no easy matter - or be prepared to be impeached for suffering London's safety to be gravely imperilled.'

A second piece continued:

'A little more reticence, too, would have served Mr. Monro better.  He had been rather too easily inveigled by the reporters into stating his own case.  It was distinctly premature for him to publish any defence, even indirectly. He will find that he has defenders in plenty on the night that the whole question is fully discussed in the House.  For all through London - the reasonable and intelligent part of London, that is to say - Mr. Monro has crowds of approving supporters. Regret at his retirement just when he was most firmly seated in his saddle is nearly universal. The pity of it is that his line of procedure has made any rapprochement nearly impossible. Yet the intervention of some prominent and impartial person as peacemaker might have a good effect. It would be  the best possible solution of a great and pressing difficulty if the services of Mr. Monro could be retained; yet it is obvious that neither he nor his chief can well make the necessary overtures. But his reappointment would undoubtedly relieve the present tension, just as the appointment of an unpalatable successor would aggravate it, perhaps hopelessly.'

Yates also had a suggestion as to who should replace Monro as Commissioner:

'If a police officer is to succeed Mr Monro, he should be sought in the force itself: Mr. Anderson, for instance, who, although he has not held the post of Assistant Commissioner for more than a couple of years, has given undoubted proofs of great administrative capacity, and has won golden opinions on every side.'

Who'd have thought it?

Leaving aside the promotion (or self-promotion) of Anderson, the interesting thing here is that Anderson stated in his memoirs that he had a falling out with Monro on the eve of Monro's resignation.  There has been much speculation as to what this could have been over but perhaps it was a simple dispute about strategy, with Anderson disagreeing with Monro's decision to resign for the reasons that ended up in The World

Following the suicide of Richard Pigott on 1 March 1889, Edmund Yates had this to say in The World of 13 March 1889:

'Pigott's career would be found one of the strangest in this strange world if all its extraordinary episodes were laid bare. Time was when he was petted and made much of as the truest of patriots by those who are now the loudest in reviling his baseness.  To whatever depths he might have sunk, one of his last acts shows that the man who has a leaven of good in his questionable character.  I am told, as a fact, that on the very eve of his flight, when every penny he could collect was of vital consequence to him and when penury, to be soon followed by suicide, stared him in the face he remitted a large sum (for him) in bank-notes for his children in Dublin.'

This story was essentially true, for it was privately reported to the Foreign Office by the British Ambassador in Spain that the last cheque drawn out of Pigott's cheque book, dated 7 February 1889, in the sum of just over £48, had been made out to Clargows, which was the private school to which Pigott's children went.  This was not widely known information and is thus likely to have come to Yates'  knowledge directly from Anderson.

Yates also said in the 12 March 1890 issue of The World:

'The Pigott fiasco was a terrible awakening to Mr. Macdonald, and the insinuation that he knew the letters to be forgeries is a shameful slander upon one who, as all who knew him can testify, was singularly honest and upright.  It is perfectly true, however, that to the last he believed that the celebrated letter of May 1882 was genuine, and he gave very strong reasons for his belief. It has been overlooked in the general screaming about the forgeries that that letter was certainly not written by Pigott, and its origin remains to this moment a mystery.'

This opinion, of course, matched Anderson's that the May 1882 letter was not written by Pigott.

As a final point of interest in the story, amongst Anderson's letters held at the National Archives in HO 144/1538/8, there is a curious letter from an unknown person in Brighton (connected to Edmund Yates) addressed to a 'Mr Doolan' which discusses a payment to Doolan, apparently for an article in The World.

It was sent from 125 Marine Parade, Brighton, (9 Norfolk Street, Park Lane W crossed out) and dated 27 November 1887.  The text reads:

Dear Mr Doolan,

Don't be surprised - Yates & I thought you would not like our monthly cheque made out in the name of L.L.D. - so your account will stand as Mr Doolan's.  Yates was very pleased with the copy, & hopes you will send in plenty more. [Illegible....] and made it rather longer.

It seems that Parnell has been living with Mrs O'Shea, the Capt having withdrawn altogether - is that what you are hearing or am I telling you news? 

Is this 'Mr Doolan'  none other than Anderson himself?

I have not been able to work out what 'L.L.D.' means in this letter and have wondered if it actually says 'C.I.D.' but Anderson was not part of the C.I.D. in November 1887 so that is unlikely.

If Anderson was Doolan it is rather ironic because it would mean that both he and Parnell were using false names in November 1887!

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