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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 3 Jan 2013 - 5:08

Fifty-seventh Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, February 27, 1889






"Has Pigott been arrested?" "Is he in custody?" "Will he be brought up?" These questions were discussed with great vivacity by the large crowd that besieged the Strand doors of the Royal Courts as early as half-past nine today. The extraordinary disappearance of the remarkable Times witness has created an unusual amount of excitement. The public have hitherto displayed comparatively little interest in the proceedings at the Commission Court, but this strange development since Friday has had an electrifying effect. This was evident in the great crowd that gathered around the Court doors this morning long before they were opened. It grew larger and larger every moment, and when the doors were unbolted, the crowd forced its way through en bloc, and rushed on across the great hall to the foot of the stairs leading up to the Probate Court. Here again it experienced a check. It was only for a few moments, however. Then the final barriers were passed and the little court was crammed as full as it would hold in less than five minutes. Mr. Tim Healy was the first member of the Nationalist Party to arrive. Mr. Labouchere came in a few minutes later, and the two conversed very confidentially. Then followed Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Jacob Bright, and Mr. J. Biggar.
Mr. Parnell, wearing his somewhat aesthetic plum-coloured Newmarket coat, and carrying his familiar black bag, entered a few minutes before half-past ten, Mr. Sexton dropping quietly into a seat on the Q.C.'s bench at the same time.
The public gallery presented a most congested aspect. Ladies and gentlemen alike strove energetically to procure seats, and when at length these had all been appropriated, several persons placed themselves on the window-ledges and recesses. The theme of conversation was "the truant Pigott." The pros and cons of the case, the probabilities and possibilities, and the eventualities, were discussed in every aspect, but without, of course, the slightest indication being obtainable as to the turn events would take.


The Attorney-General, holding a document in his hand, rose directly the Commissioners took their seats. "A document has," he said, "been received from Paris this morning, addressed to Mr. Shannon. It is in the handwriting of Pigott. It has not been opened, and I desire to hand it in to your Lordships at once. Immediately on the fact being known a communication was sent to Scotland-yard by Mr. Soames giving information, so far as we can tell from the outside of the letter, where the witness is supposed to be. Perhaps you will think it right to look at the document."


The President accepted the letter, and, after glancing at the outside, handed it back to Mr. Cunynghame, telling him to read it. The Secretary accordingly did so, observing that all the pages were signed "R.P." It was as follows: -

"Saturday, Feb. 23, 1889.

"I, Richard Pigott, am desirous of making a statement before Henry Labouchere and George Augustus Sala, and I make this of my own free will, and - without any monetary inducement, in the house of the former. My object is to correct inaccuracies in the report of my evidence in the Times, and to make other disclosures with reference to the facsimile letter which appeared in the Times, and the other letters said to be those of Mr. Parnell, Mr. Egan, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. O'Kelly, produced by the Times in evidence.


"CORRECTIONS. - I stated that, after I disposed of my newspapers in 1881, I continued in touch with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. That is not so. I also said, of my own knowledge, that Egan continued to be a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood after the resignation of the position held by him in the Supreme Council of that organisation. In my account of the interviews I had with Davis at Lausanne I said that I made notes on the backs of envelopes which were embodied in the statement produced in Court. That is not correct. I made no notes at all. The statements were made by Davis in the course of several conversations, and the next day I wrote them out from memory in the form of the statement handed in. I am now of opinion that he made no reference to the letter said to be that of Mr. Parnell, which I said was left in Paris by a fugitive Invincible. I left the notes with Houston, who was desirous of writing a pamphlet dealing with the matter.


"The circumstances as to the production of the letters as testified to by me are not true. No one save myself was engaged in the work. I grieve to have to confess that I myself forged them, using genuine letters of Mr. Parnell and picking out words and phrases to secure the proper handwriting. I traced some of the words by placing the letters to the window and drawing them on to a piece of tissue paper, and I thus procured the signatures. Some of the signatures were traced in this manner, and some I wrote.


"Then I stated that in the black bag with the letters there were some accounts and scraps of paper and an old newspaper. Those scraps of paper and accounts I produced to Mr. Houston, and after a very brief inspection he handed me a cheque on Cook's for 500 pounds, the price, I told him, I had agreed to pay for them, and at the same time he gave me 105 pounds in notes for myself. The accounts were leaves torn from an old account book of my own, containing details of the expenditure of Fenian money entrusted to me from time to time, and were in the handwriting of David Murphy, who was once in my employ. The scraps I found in the bottom of an old writing-desk, but I do not know in whose handwriting they are.


"The second batch of letters were also written by me. Mr. Parnell's signatures I imitated from the facsimile letter published in the Times. I do not remember where I got Egan's letter from, of which I copied the signature. I had no specimens of Campbell's handwriting beyond two letters of Mr. Parnell's, and which I presumed to be in the handwriting of Mr. Campbell. I wrote to Mr. Houston that the second batch was for sale in Paris, having been brought there from America. He wrote asking for them to be sent over to him. I sent them, and, after keeping them for three or four days, he sent me 250 pounds.


"The third batch contained a letter imitated by me from a letter written in pencil to me by Mr. Davitt. Another was a letter copied from a letter of an earlier date, written by Mr. O'Kelly to me while he was engaged on my newspaper. In the third letter some of the words I copied from an old bill of exchange signed by Mr. Egan. This is the letter known as the "Bakery" letter. 200 pounds was the price paid to me by Mr. Houston for these three letters. I have stated that for the first batch I received 105 pounds for myself, for the second, 50 pounds, and for the third I was supposed to have received nothing. I did not see Breslin in America. This was part of the deception. It was mutually agreed that I should not mention Mr. Houston's name, and he would not mention mine. I did not learn until Mr. Houston took me to Mr. Soames' office in October, that he had revealed my name to Mr. Macdonald. I had an angry correspondence with Mr. Houston and Mr. Soames, in consequence of what I considered to be a breach of faith.


With reference to my interview with Messrs. Parnell, Lewis, and Labouchere, my sworn statement is in the main correct. Now, however, I am of opinion that the offer made to me by Mr. Labouchere of 1,000 pounds was not for my evidence but for any documents in Mr. Parnell's or Egan's handwriting which I might have. My statement only referred to the first interview with these gentlemen. I stated that I had destroyed all of Mr. Houston's letters to me. I have some of them. I declare this statement is taken down by Mr. Labouchere at my dictation, in the presence of Mr. George Augustus Sala.

Then followed the signature of Mr. Labouchere and Mr. G. Augustus Sala.


Pigott also enclosed the letter he received from Mr. George Lewis, returning his written confession, and stating that Mr. Parnell declined to hold any further communication with him. With these documents was the following: - "Dear Sir, - Just before I left, the enclosed (confession returned by Mr. Lewis) was handed to me. It had been left while I was out. I will write again soon. - Yours truly, R. PIGOTT."


The Attorney-General (rising amid breathless silence) said - I need scarcely assure your Lordships that, since the adjournment yesterday, my learned friends and I have communicated with those for whom I appear, and we have carefully and anxiously considered the course which we consider it our duty to take in relation to that part of the inquiry now under your Lordships' consideration. It is unnecessary to say that the letters put in, the authenticity of which is disputed, including the letter of the 15th of May, 1882, also those which purport to bear the signature of Kelly, Davitt, and Patrick Egan, all came into the hands of the managers of the Times from one man, one source - Richard Pigott. I desire to say nothing of this witness except that no one ought to attach any weight to the evidence he has given; but, taking the most lenient view of his conduct, he certainly confessed in his statement to Shannon that he (Pigott) forged the letters.


It seems to us that the course we ought to take is clearly defined, and, believing we should merely be doing our duty on behalf of those we represent, we beg permission to withdraw the question of the genuineness of the letters which have been submitted to you, the authenticity of which has been denied, with the full acknowledgment that the evidence does not entitle us to say they are genuine. My Lords, though it is possible any expression of regret which may accompany any statement of mine may be subject to misapprehension, yet those for whom I appear desire me to express sincere regret that those letters were published, and that, following this, something more fully will be expressed by themselves.


If I am entitled to say it - as to the manner in which those whom I represent have been imposed on - I claim, with your Lordships' permission, that some words used by Sir Charles Russell yesterday did not escape our attention. My learned friend said that behind Pigott there had been a foul conspiracy. I desire emphatically to say that, if a foul conspiracy had existed, than those whom we represent have had no share in it. That they have been misled and imposed on it is true, and if it suggested that their error extends beyond this they earnestly desire that your Lordships will make the fullest inquiry into the matter, either in procuring those documents or placing them before the public.

* I guess it was safe to say that Labouchere and the Parnellites offered Pigott the greatest sum of money of all - anything he needed to go away and leave them alone.


Sir Charles Russell - I will trouble your Lordships with a few observations. I am sorry that my learned friend, in the statement he has thought it his duty to make, has made it out that, in the circumstances now before the Court, his clients say they are not entitled to state that the alleged incriminatory letters were genuine. I had hoped for a stronger statement at this juncture from my learned friend; but, whatever the course he adopts, it will in no jot alter the course which my clients will take. They will not only themselves go into the box when the proper time comes, but they will also ask your Lordships whether it is true that this young man Houston - alleged journalist and Secretary of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union - embarked on this venture solely.


It was thus (proceeded Sir Charles) that I pointed to a conspiracy between Houston and Pigott. If it would be your Lordship's view, I would ask your Lordships to make promptly an expression of your Lordships' opinion that these letters, upon the evidence, and under the circumstances under which they are given, are forgeries, so as to give, without delay, relief to one man particularly, who has suffered to an extreme which, it may be conceived, is difficult to describe; who has held a public position, and who has suffered the unmerited wrong of lying under this grievous accusation. I ask that he may be speedily relieved from such a gross and unfounded imputation.


Sir Charles Russell, who was handed a copy of the Special Commission Act, pointed out that their Lordships could, "if they think fit, make reports from time to time."
Sir James Hannen - Sir Charles, if this meets your wishes we are prepared to take this course - to allow you to call such evidence as you would think fit at this juncture as to the authenticity of the letters, and we will then consider the propriety of making a special report.
Sir Charles Russell said he would then call Mr. Parnell.


Mr. Charles S. Parnell was then called. He was handed the fac-simile letter.
Sir Charles Russell - Is that your signature? - It is not. The body of the letter is not in the handwriting of any one I know. It is not in Mr. Henry Campbell's handwriting. I never wrote any such letter, or authorised any such letter to be written. I never heard of any such letter until I saw it in the Times. At this moment Mr. Campbell is in Antwerp. I sent him last night to see if he could trace Pigott.
Mr. Parnell then categorically denied that the other letters handed to him were either written by him, or authorised to be written by him. Some of the writing, purporting to be Mr. Campbell's, was, he said, better imitated in some of the letters than in others.


You have had correspondence with Mr. Egan a number of years? - I have.
Have you that here? - I have gathered together what I could find during the past few months, and it will be produced for their Lordships' inspection.
I want you to take one of the Egan letters in your hand. This is the one that begins, "Write under cover to Madame Rouyer." (Handing the letter to Mr. Parnell.) Is that Egan's handwriting? - I am sure it is not.

The next begins, "I had a conversation with Mr. Parnell on Saturday," and the next is dated "8th March, 1882." Just tell me what you think of those? - I am clearly of the opinion that neither of these letters is in Mr. Egan's handwriting.
The next are the 10th of June, 1881, and the 18th of June, 1881. What do you say to those? - Neither of these is in Mr. Egan's handwriting.
The next is 11th March, 1882. - That is also a fabricated letter. It is not in Mr. Egan's writing.
Just look at the "2" of the letter; does it occur to you that it has been altered? - It looks to me as though it was originally "1881," altered to "1882."
(Handing up another letter.) Just look at that letter. Is that Mr. Egan's? - No, it is not; that does not look so shaky as the others. They appear to be traced, and this seems to be copied.
Just look at the "Bakery." Can you form an opinion of that? - That is also a fabrication. It is not in Mr. Egan's writing.


I now hand the letter put in in Mr. Macdonald's examination, being one said to be from Mr. Parnell to Mr. Pigott (handing up another letter.) Can you explain that? - I may say that my secretary (Mr. Campbell) reminds me of the fact, which is clearly in his recollection, but which I don't remember, that in the spring of 1881 Mr. Pigott called at my hotel in Dublin, where I was staying, and asked for an interview. He was downstairs, and sent up a note with the request that I would see him. I think a similar letter to this was written and signed by me, and sent down to him. We believe that this letter has been traced from the genuine, but I should add that the remark about the interview has been added, because I am confident I never would grant an interview to Pigott.
This is in the handwriting of Mr. Campbell? - Yes.
The President - I may take this opportunity of saying I think Mr. Campbell should be sent for as soon as possible in order that we may hear him.
Sir Charles Russell - Immediately after we ascertained that Pigott did not put in an appearance we telegraphed to Antwerp.


Sir Charles Russell (again questioning Mr. Parnell) said - Now, after you had purchased the Irishman, did you carry on correspondence with Pigott? - I received letters from him; but I never answered or acknowledged them.
Or did you ever make an appointment with him? This letter purports to say that you would be glad to see him? - No, that passage has been placed in the letter.
What do you say as to the body of the letter? - It is a very bad imitation of Mr. Campbell's handwriting.


Mr. O'Kelly has been a colleague of yours in Parliament since 1880? - Yes, I have known him since about 1879.
Now take that letter in your hand (said Sir Charles, handing Mr. Parnell the alleged O'Kelly letter). Is that in Mr. O'Kelly's handwriting, or are you not sufficiently able to speak to it? - After examining the letter very carefully, Mr. Parnell answered, "I believe that letter to be a fabrication."


Sir Charles Russell then handed the alleged "Davitt" letter to him. "Examine this letter," he said, "It is purported to be signed by Mr. Davitt."
Mr. Parnell also carefully examined the document, and then replied, "I believe this to be an imitation of Mr. Davitt's handwriting also."
Sir Charles Russell intimated that he intended calling Mr. O'Kelly, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. Campbell also.


The Attorney-General next rose, and addressing the President said: -
As I understand, your Lordships wish this matter to be confined to this part of the case. I have no questions to ask Mr. Parnell. I regret on personal grounds (Sir Richard added) to have to ask for an adjournment until tomorrow morning to arrange the other evidence we have to bring. This matter has been so grave that I have devoted my attention almost consecutively to its consideration, because, seeing the responsibility of my position, I felt it my duty to make up my own mind on the matter before I stated what course I should take. I have, therefore, paid no attention to the other parts of the case, and must ask for an adjournment until tomorrow morning for the purpose of preparing and getting in proper order the witnesses on that part of the case.
Sir Charles Russell - I give my assent willingly. Neither Mr. Davitt, nor Mr. O'Kelly, nor Mr. Campbell are here, and it will therefore be convenient to adjourn until tomorrow morning. At this moment we are not aware as to where Mr. Campbell is, and shall not know until we receive a telegram from him, and cannot summon him until then. It is almost certain that he will be here on Friday, as also will Mr. Davitt and Mr. O'Kelly.
The President - Then I would suggest that we adjourn until Friday.
The Court rose at 11:20.


The Press Association has received further information this morning, which leads to the belief that Dr. Maguire committed suicide.


The Exchange Telegraph Company learns that Mr. Parnell, accompanied by Mr. Tim Harrington, called at Scotland-yard this morning, and inquired whether Pigott had yet been arrested. The hon. gentleman saw Head Constable Williamson, who replied in the negative. It is generally believed, however (adds the Company), that the absconding witness will be arrested in Paris in the course of a few hours. It is considered doubtful whether the French Government will regard the charge of perjury as an extraditable offence.


A Press Association telegram says: - The Canterbury police received a telegram this morning with a description of Pigott, and a statement that he had booked by a train this morning from London to Canterbury. The train was watched on arrival by the superintendent of police and other officers, but there was no trace of Pigott.


The Second Edition of the Times, published today, appears without the advertisement - "Parnellism and Crime" - which was published as usual in the morning edition. The pamphlet containing the report of the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter" also ceases to be advertised. Persons applying for copies of "Parnellism and Crime" are informed that it is out of print."


This is what the Dublin Express says: -
"Pigott's disappearance does not affect the main issue. Whether he forged all or none of the letters remains an open question. The fact that though Pigott admitted to Mr. Labouchere and Mr. Lewis in October that he forged the letters, yet Mr. Parnell's advisers treated him as a hostile witness, calls for explanation. The Party are not yet out of the wood: Pigott's exposure does not ensure them a clean bill of health from Sir James Hannen."
This is what the Freeman's Journal says: - "The day of punishment, which the Times defied in its article two years ago, has now come. Pigott has gone; but is Pigott the real Catiline of the conspiracy? Shall the others, steeped to the eyes in this cesspool of lying, slander, and forgery, get off scot free?"


In 1887, when the "facsimile letter" was published, Truth suggested that Pigott had forged it. This was Pigott's reply to the suggestion - interesting (says Truth today) in the light of subsequent developments: -
"You are good enough to say in your paper that a person named Pigott (meaning me) is the party from whom the Times "had" the letter attributed to Mr. Parnell, whom he has facsimilied. Allow me to assure you that you are quite mistaken - the Times had not the letter from me. Furthermore, you say that I have made money by "what I call" revelations. My rejoinder to this, were I a Parnellite Member of Parliament, would be more forcible than polite - that "You're an infernal liar!" As it is, I content myself by saying that your statement is a malicious and cowardly libel, for which I would bring you to your knees and make you howl for pardon, as the Dublin Jew money-lender recently did, though in this case your libel could have been amply justified, were it not that circumstances prevent me doing so, as no doubt you are well aware."
Afterwards Pigott wrote, making an apology "for the tone of my letter, which was intemperate and offensive." He, however, declares that "I know nothing under heaven about this letter. I never had any communication with the editor of the Times, save that I have sent him, on one or two occasions, articles which he had the bad taste not to accept or return; and I am perfectly sure that I never made money by revelations, inasmuch as I never had anything to reveal that would be worth a farthing to anybody."


The Scotland-yard authorities have caused the following description of Pigott to be circulated to all police-stations throughout the country: -
"Aged 54 years, looks much older; height, 5ft. 7in.; stout build, florid complexion, grey moustache, beard and whiskers long and full, small eyes, large nose, receding forehead, hair grey, bald on crown of head, full face, slight stoop in shoulders. He wears an eyeglass."




Where has Pigott gone? Nobody seems to know positively; but this morning's announcement of the receipt of a communication from him throws a slight side light upon the mysterious disappearance. Yesterday he was, judging by the post-mark on the envelope in which this missive came, in Paris. Whether that is so or not is not really known. Up to last night, however, Mr. George Lewis believed that he had made no attempt to leave the country, that he was in hiding within a very short radius, and that he might be expected to surrender to the warrant now issued against him on the application of Mr. Parnell. Before he went he took care to write to his housekeeper at Sandycove, Kingston. This letter was received yesterday morning. It ran: - "I enclose you a blank signed cheque. Take it to Mr. ---, at the Ulster Bank in Lower Baggot-street, and he will fill it up and give you the cash. It will only be, I fear, some five pounds. I fear you may look out for the worst." The housekeeper added that on Monday she received a telegram from Pigott telling her to go to a black box which he had and to burn all the papers that were in it. She did so, but she could not say what they were about. The family at Sandycove consists of two of Pigott's boys, aged seven and six years; the housekeeper, who has been in his employment for some years; and a general servant. Two other boys are at school. Mrs. Pigott died eighteen months ago.


The manager at Anderton's Hotel - who does not share in the view that Pigott has committed suicide, or that there has been foul play on the part of others - has given some particulars of Pigott's habits while at the hotel. "Mr. Pigott," says the manager, "took up his residence with us on this last occasion on January 27. He appeared to me and others to be a quiet old gentleman. At any rate, beyond saying "Good morning," or making a casual observation at times, he rarely conversed with anyone. He had very few visitors. Those who did call he generally saw in the coffee or smoking-room, where he passed most of the day assiduously reading the newspapers. During his residence with us he seemed to have nothing to do except to go backward and forward to the Law Courts, and when not engaged there he remained indoors as already mentioned, spending most of his time in the smoking-room. On Saturday Mr. Pigott did not appear in any way depressed, so far as I could observe, and we exchanged greetings in the customary way. On Sunday and Monday he seemed just as usual - quiet, but cheerful - and moved about, peeping first at one and then at another newspaper.


"About four o'clock on Monday afternoon (proceeds the manager) he made his way slowly down the corridor and turned into Fleet-street, down which he was last seen to saunter as if taking a walk. I believe there were neither police nor detectives watching him, as they had been withdrawn at his own urgent request on Saturday. Mr. Pigott was dressed when he left in a long thick brown overcoat, brown low-crowned hat, and dark trousers. He took none of his luggage away with him, but has left in the hotel a portmanteau, a handbag, and hat-box. Oddly enough he had paid his bill up to Sunday night, but as he did not leave till Monday there is now a sum of 15s. owing to us."


It seems likely that an attempt will be made to prove that Pigott's apparently bona-fide confession was but a very imperfect confession after all. Pigott's admission of forgery to Mr. Soames applied to only four of the letters. The second batch of letters, he said, consisted of two alleged Parnell letters and one of Egan. The two Parnell letters were, he declared, forged by Patrick Casey and himself. The last batch, he asserted, consisted of three - namely, one of Davitt, one of O'Kelly, and one of Egan. The two first-named - those alleged to be the letters of Messrs. Davitt and O'Kelly - were forged by Casey and himself in the same way - that is to say, Pigott wrote the body and Casey the signature. Casey has, however, been communicated with, and he gives the most unequivocal denial to the entire story. He declares, and is willing to testify on oath, that he never gave the first batch of eleven letters to Pigott, nor has he any knowledge of them. He is also equally positive in his repudiation of Pigott's assertion that he ever had any part in forging either the substance or signature of any letter or letters with Pigott or any other person.


Patrick Egan has been giving to a New York Herald Correspondent some of the experiences which he alleges he had with Mr. Pigott. He tells how, in 1869, at a meeting of the Amnesty Association in Dublin, he proposed to having taken all over Ireland a St. Patrick's Day collection for the wives and families of imprisoned Fenians. Pigott being informed of the proposal, forestalled him by publishing in the Irishman a slashing article appealing to the Irish people to raise such a national tribute. The article concluded: - "With the Lord there is plentiful redemption. He shall redeem Ireland from those who work iniquity." This appeal brought into Pigott's hands over $50,000, which was doled out through a committee of ladies; but Pigott kept his thumb on the money, and the funds were - says Egan - "never satisfactorily accounted for."


A couple of years later (says Egan) Pigott and his bookkeeper (Murphy) had a quarrel, and he had Murphy arrested on a charge of embezzlement. While this charge was being investigated by the police, Pigott showed around a letter written on official Castle paper, couched in ambiguous language, but making some references to information already conveyed. The letter was addressed to Murphy. Pigott claimed to have intercepted it. The result was to brand Murphy as an informer, and he was shot. Fortunately, the wound was not fatal.


"In 1870, John Casey, the poet and correspondent of the Boston Pilot, was (proceeds Egan) accidentally killed. He left his family penniless. Over 20 pounds, believed to be due to him from the Pilot, was declared to have been paid by the manager of that paper, who sent the second of exchange drafts, the originals having been sent to Casey, care of Pigott. They were payable at the Provincial Bank of Ireland. By request I called upon the assistant-manager of the said bank, George Cummins, who stated that the first exchange had been paid, and produced the drafts bearing the forged signature, John K. Casey, followed by the actual signature of Richard Pigott. I was informed that these drafts had come into their bank from, I think, the Royal Bank, where they had been deposited by Pigott to his own credit. Pigott was at once threatened with prosecution for forgery unless the amount be paid over to Mrs. Casey, and Pigott paid it."


"About 1875, at the instance of Isaac Butt and other leaders of the Home Rule League, I was (Egan concludes) negotiating with Pigott for the purchase of the Irishman. In the course of this negotiation, Pigott handed Butt a statement, extending over two years, showing large net earnings by that paper. This statement, he said, had been prepared by Cummins, the public auditor, from his books. Butt sent Kavins and Kean, auditors, into Pigott's office to verify the said account, and it was found to be based upon deliberate alterations in the cash-book kept by Pigott. These alterations, amounting in one year to 1,860, were made entirely and deliberately for the purpose of deceiving intended purchasers. These are but a few of the incidents which I could relate."



Mr. George Augustus Sala tells us how Pigott confessed. He does it in a column and a half in this morning's Daily Telegraph, couched in his most interesting vein. On Saturday - Mr. Sala calls it "the Sabbath of the daily journalist" - he was enjoying himself in one of the numerous pleasurable ways at his rooms in Victoria-street, Westminster, when he was handed the following note from Mr. Labouchere: - "Can you leave everything, and come here at once?" Most important business. - H.L."


"Mr. Labouchere was not alone. Ensconced in a roomy fauteuil a few paces from Mr. Labouchere's writing-table there was a somewhat burly individual of middle stature and of more than middle age. The individual had an eyeglass screwed into one eye, and he was using this optical aid most assiduously, for he was poring over a copy of that morning's issue of the Times, going right down one column and apparently up it again; then taking column after column in succession; then harking back as though he had omitted some choice paragraph; and then resuming the sequence of his lecture, ever and anon tapping that ovoid frontal bone of his, as though to evoke memories of the past, with a little silver pencil-case. When he was not tapping his cranium with the pencil-case he put it between his lips, as though he were chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancies, and then he would twiddle the case between his fingers. When Mr. Labouchere, in his most courteous manner and his blandest tone, said, "Allow me to introduce you to a gentleman of whom you must have heard a great deal, Mr. _____," I replied, "There is not the slightest necessity for naming him. I know him well enough. That's Mr. Pigott."


"The individual in the capacious fauteuil wriggled from behind the Times an uneasy acknowledgment of my recognition; but, if anything could be conducive to putting completely at ease a gentleman who, from some cause or other, was troubled in his mind, it would have been the dulcet voice in which Mr. Labouchere continued, "The fact is that Mr. Pigott has come here, quite unsolicited, to make a full confession. I told him that I would listen to nothing that he had to say, save in the presence of a witness, and, remembering that you lived close by, I thought that you would not mind coming here and listening to what Mr. Pigott has to confess, which will be taken down, word by word, from his dictation, in writing."

* This makes no sense to me, whatsoever. If Richard Pigott wished to confess to forging the letters, why did he not go directly to the Court to confess? Why would a man go to confess to his own enemies - especially with how violent and threatening these enemies have proven to be? Also, why was Pigott's confession written by Mr. Labouchere and company, upon Pigott's dictation? Was Pigott not capable of writing his own confession in these "gentlemen's" presence? Something stinks here!

It was one thing, however, to be told that Mr. Pigott intended to confess and quite another to get the confession from his lips.

* Sounds like he was under duress to me!

As in the case of the gentleman at Tyburn, who "oft fitted the halter, oft traversed the cart, And often took leave, but seemed loth to depart," so it did appear that Mr. Pigott, although he had screwed his courage to the sticking-place of saying that he was going to confess, manifested considerable tardiness in orally "owning up." So we let him be for about ten minutes.

* Maybe he displayed this reluctance or hesitency (oops....hesitancy) Laughing in confessing or "owning up" because he knew it was the wrong thing to do, but financially had no choice.


"At length he stood up and came forward into the light by the side of Mr. Labouchere's writing-table. He did not change colour, he did not blench; but when at length - out of the fullness of his heart, no doubt - his mouth spake, it was in a low, half-musing tone, more at first as though he were talking to himself than to any auditors. By degrees, however, his voice rose, his diction became more fluent, it was rarely necessary to halt, to reconstruct a phrase; and the confession which subsequently found its way into the possession of Mr. George Lewis, and a copy which has no doubt been produced before the Special Commission, was from beginning to end, literally and verbally, the composition, as well as the utterance, of Mr. Richard Pigott. It was to my mind as frank, free, and full a confession as that of the notorious George Frederick Manning, who, after repeatedly denying that he had anything to do with the murder of Patrick O'Connor, at length, in quite an effusive outburst of confidence, remarked, "I never liked him, so I finished him off with a ripping chisel!"

* And that just might have been the instrument used to acquire the confession!!


"To my mind he seemed to be confessing facts and nothing but facts. No pressure was put upon him; no leading questions were asked him; and he went on quietly and continuously to the end of the story. As a rule, when a witness of a certain class is telling lies he breathes hard; and you may have observed that he is very apt to break out in perspiration and to mop his forehead with a pocket-handkerchief squeezed into a spheroid shape. If he has a hat in his hand it is pretty sure that he will finger the brim, or smooth the crown, or caress the band while he is lying; and of course I do not ignore the existence of the bare-faced liar, who has learnt his lesson, and knows it thoroughly, and who pours out his falsehoods with brazen resonance. Richard Pigott's manner did not in any resemble that of the ordinary false witness. He was not voluble but he was collected, clear, and coherent; nor, although he repeatedly confessed to forgery, fraud, deception, and misrepresentation, did he seem overcome with anything approaching active shame. His little peccadilloes were plainly owned, but he appeared to treat them more as incidental weaknesses than as extraordinary acts of wickedness."


Presently, as Mr. Sala explains, he and Pigott were left alone for a while. "We did get into conversation, but our talk was curt and trite. He remarked, first taking up that so-often-conned Times, that the London papers were inconveniently large. This, being a self-evident proposition, met with no response from me; but on his proceeding to say, in quite a friendly manner, that I must have found the afternoon's interview rather stupid work, I replied that, on the contrary, so far as I was concerned, I had found it equally amusing and instructive. The whole of Pigott's confession, beginning with the declaration that he had made it uninvited and without any pecuniary consideration, was read over to him line by line and word by word. He made no correction or alteration whatsoever. The confession covered several sheets of paper, and to each sheet he affixed his initials. Finally, at the bottom of the completed document he signed his name, beneath which I wrote my name as a witness. Recalling the substance of the confession and its particulars, it seems to me to bear the impress of truth, if it be read with the postulate that the man who made the confession was a thorough-paced and unscrupulous rascal, hopelessly needy, and who, vexed by the perpetual want of pence, became incited to that which was to him the easy resource of forgery and perjury, in order to full his deplenished purse. When he had signed his confession he bade us farewell, remarking that he had suffered much, especially from nervousness, during his examination before the Special Commission, and that his appearance there had been the first that he had ever made in a witness-box."

* I'm really sure he did!!!

Source: The Echo, Wednesday February 27, 1889, pages 2-3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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