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Title: The Marylebone Penny Readings and their Critics
Author: Taylor, Henry Weston
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1869 Marylebone Penny Readings edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                              PENNY READINGS
                                AND THEIR

                                  OF THE
                        MARYLEBONE PENNY READINGS,
                              HENRY TAYLOR,
                           HONORARY CONDUCTOR.

                                * * * * *

             _The Harrow Road Hall_, _Cromwell Terrace_, _W._


                            [PRICE ONE PENNY.]

                                * * * * *



As Certain statements have appeared in the Local Journals reflecting upon
my character as the Honorary Conductor of “The Readings,” and upon the
Institution, I deem it my duty to send this statement to you, with the
request that you will give it your kind and impartial consideration.  I
should not have adopted this course had the Editors of those journals,
viz.: “The Marylebone Mercury” and “The Bayswater Chronicle,” inserted my
letters addressed to them, giving a denial of the misrepresentations.  I
think it may not be out of place to give you a sketch of the progress of
the Institution, and to mention from what cause I was induced to commence
the series of Penny Readings first known as “Praed Street Penny
Readings,” but afterwards more appropriately termed “The Marylebone Penny
Readings.”  I had attended many Penny Reading meetings within the
metropolis and was thoroughly convinced that such meetings were not only
calculated to do much good, but would be very acceptable to the working
classes if properly conducted; but, unfortunately, in many instances the
programmes abounded with Vulgar Comic Songs, while in others a religious
spirit was infused, rendering the programme monotonous and unattractive.
Having a little time at my disposal, I determined upon founding a series
of Penny Readings, having for its objects—“presenting a counter
attraction to haunts of vice and of creating and improving the tastes for
pure and standard literature.”  With this view, I gave an inaugural
meeting at the Foresters’ Hall, on Thursday evening, November 21st, 1867,
when our esteemed member, Mr. Thomas Chambers, M.P., Q.C., presided;
through the kindness of the Rev. John Clifford, LL.B., I was permitted to
hold a series of twenty-seven meetings in the small room beneath “Praed
Street Chapel;” the first meeting was held there on the 24th November,
under the Presidency of Mr. F. Berridge, F.R.G.S.  The first four
meetings were thinly attended, but the attendance gradually increased
until they acquired a popularity as the first of their class.

Encouraged by success, another branch was opened at “The Lecture Hall,
New Church Street.”  This branch, unfortunately, proved a financial
failure.  At the end of the series I found we were in debt to the extent
of £25: of this I paid £15, and with the consent of the creditors, about
£10 was allowed to remain until another season; under these circumstances
I did not feel justified in increasing our liabilities by publishing a
report.  Being now practically convinced that although these meetings
could not be a financial success, they would accomplish their object and
be very acceptable to the working classes—knowing that there were many
noblemen and gentlemen who would willingly assist such a good and really
charitable cause, I appealed to many I knew to be interested in the
welfare and progress of the working man, and had the pleasure of
receiving many affirmative and encouraging replies.  In November last I
wrote to the Rev. J. Moorhouse, (Vicar of St. James’s, Paddington), for
permission to hold meetings within the St. James’s National Schools,—this
was granted for a period of thirteen meetings; the series were duly
inaugurated at the Schools, and well attended.  After the seventh
Reading, I received an intimation from the Secretary of the School
Committee to the effect that they had resolved to withdraw their
permission on the ground that such Readings were not in conformation with
the objects for which the Schools were built, viz.: National Education.
I must confess I was greatly surprised at this declaration, inasmuch as
many gentlemen of eminence who had presided at the meetings, including
the Rt. Hon. A. H. Layard, M.P., and Thomas Chambers, Esq., M.P., had
publicly stated that they believed such meetings to be a certain and
valuable channel for the conveyance of learning.  Such being the decision
of the School Committee, however unjustified they may have been in
withdrawing the permission before the expiration of the stated time, I
had no alternative but to submit to that decision.  I then engaged the
large and commodious Hall known as “Providence Hall,” and this was
presided over by our esteemed patron the Hon. Lord Fitzmaurice, M.P., for
Calne.  We were again successful until a clique was formed against us by
members of a similar institution and others to disturb our meetings.
After vainly attempting to hold meetings, I called a private meeting, at
which Mr. Edmond Beales presided, and we decided upon holding no further
meetings for the present; at the same time a committee was formed at my
request to audit and investigate accounts, and to publish the report.

Having given you a brief, and I trust a satisfactory account of our
proceedings, I feel it incumbent upon me to comment upon the statements
referred to in the former part of this address.  The first subject of
comment will be the circular _purporting_ to be issued by Lord Lichfield;
the second, the case of Oetzmann _versus_ The Marylebone Penny Readings;
and thirdly, the scandalous and unfounded reports of the Local Journals.

The circular referred to was that issued by Mr. C. J. Ribton Turner (?),
and purporting to be signed by Lichfield, Hodgson Pratt, J. W. Probyn, H.
N. Hoare, Auberon Herbert, and Julian Goldsmid, who state that they have
withdrawn their names from the Patron List of “The Marylebone Penny
Readings” owing to reports which have appeared in “The Marylebone
Mercury” of proceedings taken against the Hon. Conductor in the
Bloomsbury County Court; and that “we beg further to state that though
Mr. Taylor was requested by Lord Lichfield on the 3rd inst., (March), to
furnish a statement of his receipts and expenditure, he has not, up to
the present time, thought fit to comply with the invitation.”  Whether in
issuing this circular Mr. C. J. Ribton Turner has been authorised to use
the names appended to it, I cannot say; but this I can truly affirm,—that
the said circular is a tissue of misrepresentations.  In the first place,
I was _never_ requested by Lord Lichfield to furnish any account
whatever.  The facts of the case are these:—On Tuesday, March 1st., the
Right Hon. the Earl of Lichfield (with authority) was announced to
preside at our usual weekly meeting; his Lordship came to the meeting, (I
am informed accompanied by Thomas Oetzmann and others, this being
previously arranged); his Lordship informed the audience that he had
never given his consent to preside at the meeting, and expressed his
dissatisfaction at the course Mr. Taylor had taken regarding the payment
of the account of Thomas Oetzmann, trading as Thomas Oetzmann & Company
(?).  With all due respect to his Lordship, I am assured that he gave his
consent to preside; and it may be desirable to mention, that on the
Thursday previous to the meeting, I sent a note reminding him of his
promise; and on the following Monday I sent a programme of the meeting.
If his Lordship had not promised to preside, why did he not send an
intimation?  On the 2nd March I addressed a letter to his Lordship
apologizing for the mistake, _if_ on our part, and asking whether I
should retain his Lordship on the Patron List, and adding that I should
be pleased to furnish him with a statement of receipts and expenditure.
I trusted that his Lordship would not be guided by _exparte_ statements.
On the 4th his Lordship replied, stating that he must decline to remain
on the Patron List, but would be willing to give any statement that might
be forwarded his impartial consideration.  I was prevented by ill health
from sending the account before the 20th.  On the 23rd his Lordship
returned the account for audit and publication, and it is now in the
hands of the Audit Committee.  As I had the authority to place the names
of Hodgson Pratt, Julian Goldsmid, H. N. Hoare, and J. W. Probyn,
Esquires, upon the List of Patrons, in the absence of any notification
that either of those gentlemen wished to have their names removed, I may
with justice consider them as belonging to the Institution.  A note is
appended to the effect that the Rev. James Moorhouse and Dr. Forbes
Winslow never authorized the publication of their names as Patrons; this
I beg to state is false, and that those gentlemen have taken very
prominent parts in our meetings; from these facts I consider that we may
very justly ignore the circular and its fallacious contents.

The next subject for comment is the case of Oetzmann _versus_ The
Marylebone Penny Readings, in which I was, as Hon. Conductor, sued for
the balance of accounts.  I think it necessary to state that the original
amount of account was £3 17s. 1d.; of this £2 1s. was paid, leaving a
balance of £1 16s.  For this balance I was sued!  A representative of the
firm (collector I presume) called upon me at the latter-end of December
for the amount.  I told him we were not in a position to pay, but would
guarantee its payment within three months; the collector expressed his
approbation, and withdrew.  On me 22nd January I received a copy of “The
Marylebone Mercury;” upon perusal I found, to my great surprise, a report
of the case in which I was sued for the balance of account at the suit of
“Thomas Oetzmann, trading as Thomas Oetzmann and Company.”  I did not
receive any summons, nor was I aware that proceedings were taken until I
saw the paper alluded to.  In support of the case, letters were put in,
in one of which it was stated I pleaded minority,—this I most
emphatically deny! and in support of this assertion, beg to state that I
called upon the said Thomas Oetzmann on the 16th of March to produce the
said letter, which of course was not done.  Comment is needless.  The
account is paid; but nevertheless, Thomas Oetzmann continues a system of
unjustifiable persecution, at once unmanly and cowardly; he has been to
our tradesmen and made gross misrepresentations; he has been to our Halls
and disturbed our meetings, and guilty of such conduct as any honest man
would be ashamed of.

Now I would refer to the unwarrantable attacks made upon me, and “the
readings” in the columns of “The Marylebone Mercury” and “The Bayswater
Chronicle.”  I am an ardent advocate for the liberty of the press; but I
think all will agree with me that as the press have undoubted power, they
should be careful how that power is used in giving currency to personal
attacks and _exparte_ statements; when this is done, they should at least
give the attacked party an opportunity of replying to the
accusations;—this has not been done in my case.  My letters addressed to
the Editors of both journals, containing denials to unfounded statements
and inaccurate reports, have been suppressed in many cases; while in
others disjointed and useless extracts have been made from them.  I would
appeal to you, is this justice?  You will, I am sure, say “No!”  “The
Marylebone Mercury” has been extremely bitter and unjust in its
criticism.  I think it a disgrace that any journal having the Flag of
Freedom hanging over its head, should insert petty, and of course
anonymous attacks at the instance of any one who advertises largely in
their columns; but in the Mercury, (or more appropriately speaking,
“Múckery”), Editorial Office Justice is most decidedly blind.  As to “The
Bayswater Chronicle,” Bacchus and prejudice seem to be the presiding
Gods—it has been of late a repertoire of unwarrantable attacks and false
reports, such as it is plainly perceptible emanate from a malicious pen.
It may not be out of the place to state that the Editor of “The Bayswater
Chronicle”—a Mr. Myers (?)—came to our meeting one evening in a state of
intoxication, having, as his friend informed us, been tasting wine at the
Docks.  After vainly endeavouring to disturb the meeting, the gentleman
(?) conducted himself in a most abominable and disgusting manner—so much
so, that appeals were made to me from all parts of the Hall to expel him;
but being unwilling to do so, I allowed him to remain; however, the
audience violently expelled him by sundry kicks and a good bonnetting;
this may be sufficient to account for the bitter spirit in which “Mr.
Editor” discharges that which he has the audacity to term a public duty.

Comparisons have been drawn between the meetings of our Institution, and
those of a similar character, which it is asserted not only pay their own
expenses, but yield a surplus for charity; but it must be borne in mind
that our meetings are very superior to any of the same class, and that we
have to pay for the hire of halls, for hirage of pianos, and occasionally
for artistes, while the majority of other Readings have their rooms and
pianos lent to them; these items, though not very great, materially
increase the expenditure; but for all this, I feel justified in stating
that had it not have been for the malicious intervention of “the clique,”
“the Readings” would have been almost self-supporting.

I trust I may not be thought egotistical in the few remarks I am
compelled to make concerning myself, as you are aware there is much
labour attached to the post which I hold.  I have laboured unceasingly,
and I trust successfully, to establish a Penny Reading Institution after
the design of its originators,—Mr. Sergeant Cox and Professor
Plumptre;—but this labour has had the effect of greatly injuring my
health,—of preventing the application of my energies to a lucrative
undertaking.  I do not complain, for my task has been a labour of love to
me, but am naturally grieved to find that, after having devoted so much
valuable time and hard-earned cash, I should meet with such unwarrantable
and unjustifiable attacks and absurd opposition.  I cannot but accept
this as a good omen, for every good movement meets with great opposition.
This I think proves the truth of that great Shakesperian quotation:—

    “Let Hercules do what ere he may,
    Cats will mew, and every dog will have his day!”

Even that horrid dog opposition.  I have much pleasure in stating that
the affairs of the Institution will in future be managed by a President,
Chairman, Treasurer, Auditors, Secretaries, and a council elected of
Noblemen and Gentlemen, selected from the List of Patrons and Artistes.
A subscription list is opened for the purpose of liquidating the debts of
the Institution.  Those who desire to testify their appreciation of our
labours, will kindly send their subscriptions to our esteemed friend
Edmond Beales, Esq., 4, _Stone Buildings_, _Lincoln’s Inn_, _W.C._, who
has kindly consented to receive subscriptions, and to see that they are
applied to the liquidation of our debts.  I cannot conclude without
returning my sincere thanks to Earl Spencer; the Hon. Lord Arthur
Clinton; Thomas Chambers, Esq., M.P.; Edmond Beales, Esq.; the Hon.
Auberon Herbert; the Rev. J. Clifford; the Rev. Jas. Moorhouse; Mr.
Sergeant Cox; Professor Plumptre; Frederick Berridge, Esq.; H. W. Oatway,
Esq.; Dr. J. E. Carpenter; Dr. Atlschul; Dr. Yewen; Mesdames Rudersdorff
Leupold, Harrie Oatway, H. B. Stemson, and H. Elmer; Mr. D. Ellis Howe;
Mr. Charles Arnold; Mr. John Rowe; to my assistants—Messrs. D. B. Croft,
C. H. Liddon, and Walter Mallett; to the Editors of “The Times,”

“Star,” “Standard,” “Lloyd’s,” and the Press generally, for the valuable
support accorded to us in the promotion and continuance of “The
Marylebone Penny Readings.”

With these remarks, I am content to leave the judgment in your hands,
feeling assured that this statement will meet with your impartial
consideration.  With many thanks for the kindness and courtesy I have
ever received at your hands,

I have the honor to be,

                         MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,

                                                    Your faithful Servant,
                                                              HENRY TAYLOR
                                                         _Hon. Conductor_.

         Cromwell Terrace, Harrow Road, W.
            JULY, 1869.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                 FIELD AND TUER, PRINTERS, LONDON.  7769.

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