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  • #31
    That's what swayed my opinion to purchase the book Deb

    I think there are 12 illustrations in Bolts and Bars

    It is mentioned that Harcourt travelled widely to investigate criminals and prisons so there is a chance one of the stories or illustrations will relate to a relevant prison such as Portland


    • #32
      Originally posted by Nemo View Post
      It is mentioned that Harcourt travelled widely to investigate criminals and prisons so there is a chance one of the stories or illustrations will relate to a relevant prison such as Portland
      The book arrived yesterday and I finished reading it earlier today

      Well, the narrator appears to be Harcourt himself who is invited by an old friend Dr Markham, who remembers Harcourt's interest in prison reform, to come and stay for a couple of months at the prison where he has recently been made Principal Medical Officer

      The prison? - Portland! - lol

      The whole book is a narrative of prison stories, both new and old, and of the narrator witnessing the prison regime in action

      There is therefore, a wonderful account of approaching the prison and ascending to the buildings, as well as descriptive accounts of the various parts of the prison, such as the punishment block and the infirmary

      In general, it gives an insight into the regime that Grainger, Le Grand and others would have experienced

      This includes your cell being an 8' x 4' corrugated iron box, no talking at all except on "association" with the threat of 3 days bread and water and being confined in a completely dark punishment cell with a plank for a bed for any offence

      Offences include any type of insubordination, talking, shirking work, applying to the infirmary with a false illness and the like

      At warder's discretion, the prisoner is sent to the hardest job, in the Portland quarries - the regime of bread, water and hard work often causing the prisoner to die or commit suicide

      At one point, the Governor states that he is going to do everything in his power to cause the prisoner to commit suicide

      There are stories of beatings and murder - mainly by the wardens!

      Millbank prison and Dartmoor get a couple of mentions

      Whitechapel is mentioned a number of times

      One in which a cad hanged himself in a "low lodging house in Whitechapel"

      The Jew in the picture below hails from Whitechapel

      The Whitechapel coster prisoner has some wonderful expressions and the conversation with him is expressed in a Cockney manner

      For example, in mentioning his sweetheart he says " I 'ad me eye on a gal wot was chief hengineer over a baked 'tater can" and when fighting a policeman said " at it we went 'ammer and tongs. But bless you, sir, e'd no science, and I walked round 'im like a cooper round a cask..."

      The illustrations are usually from a story taking place outside the prison, though there are a couple of the prisoners and wardens in uniform and the like

      Quite a good read all-in -all

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      • #33
        Oops - apologies for the size - lol

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        • #34
          These have probably been posted before...

          (Sorry about the sizes Howard - please alter them at your discretion and convenience)

          Portland Prison in the 1890's

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          Portland convicts at work

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          • #35
            Anyone with a "cushy" job, described in the book as an inside one, was almost always there due to infirmity or a disablement, otherwise they would be at work hewing stone like everybody else

            There is a tale of one man who got in with the chaplain and so succeeded in working his way as an assistant in the infirmary to such a cushy job, but he seems to be the exception

            There is a prisoner who was able to keep his antecedents to himself, away from warders and other prisoners, though the governor has the prisoners records and is able to see current and previous offences

            There are no newspapers or other news from the outside of the prison

            Any minor offence also means that the prisoner cannot write or receive letters for 6 months

            Years of earning remission are also wiped out by one minor offence


            • #36
              As I was writing the above, "From Stage to Cross" arrived

              It is the autobiography of FCVH and tells of some amazing adventures including reminiscences of the Crimea, being a Quack's assistant, joining the US army, a shark attack, Meeting General Gordon, deserting the army, escaping the Tay bridge disaster, escaping jail, joining the Confederate navy, helping to sink the Alabama, becoming an Evangelist etc etc

              Phew, quite a life!

              Here's the man himself and his wife...

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              • #37
                Hey, Vernon-Harcourt looks just like John Cleese.


                • #38
                  Ooh, I know....ooh, I know...ooh, I know... (Mrs Vernon-Harcourt)

                  Nemo, does he give his birth date and marriage date?


                  • #39
                    He does bear a resemblance Stephen

                    I'll check if there's a better date by reading the book Robert, but at the beginning he only says he was born on a midsummer's night 1845, when a really bad thunderstorm was at it's height - He was born and brought up when young in Edinburgh castle and says his cradle was over the crown-room where the regalia is kept

                    He doesn't give a date when he got married, but from the text it is shortly after the 1892 elections

                    Also at this time, he gets into a fight and the opponent dies - he says his trial, which took place at Leeds, lasting 2 days, caused widespread interest

                    He was acquitted

                    There may be more clues in the text Robert, I'll try and read it over the next few days


                    • #40
                      Thanks Nemo.


                      • #41
                        Hi Nemo. Those pics are amazing and new to me. Thanks for all the info on the book. I think I need to get my own copy.

                        Yours truly,

                        Tom Wescott


                        • #42
                          No problem Tom

                          I don't know if Tumblety scholars are familiar with a term FCV Harcourt always uses when referring to a quack - "Star Croaker"

                          In the book, a Whitechapel Coster says he would have been a "'croaker" if he had continued working in the quarry, but I don't know if it's used in the same manner by Harcourt

                          The coster also refers to a policeman as a "cove"

                          A lot of the warders have rifles and all seem armed with a cutlass

                          Later, I'll compare the probably fictional shark story in Bolts and Bars with the real life shark story in his autobiography and see if there are similarities


                          • #43
                            Another reference to the incident Debra Arif brought up before...

                            Illustrated Police News
                            December 17,1892


                            • #44
                              Robert, Harcourt says he was married "not long before" this incident

                              He's very sketchy on dates

                              Everyone probably has the impression, same as I had, that Harcourt is quite respectable

                              However, in his autobiography, he relates how his morals were very low until he found Jesus - it's that type of tale

                              Up to and beyond his marriage, he was a brawling drunk by the sound of it which puts him at over 40 years of age before he realised he was a bit of a waster

                              He was a skilled boxer and put it to good use on the street

                              The man he killed was a member of the opposing political party who had heckled him previously

                              After Harcourt had put him down verbally, the heckler promised to give Harcourt a good hiding

                              Harcourt was not particularly political and was only employed as a speaker due to his eloquence

                              He didn't get paid and was dropped like a stone by his candidate, who left him in the lurch after promising him many things after the election

                              Harcourt says that when anyone mentioned politics again, he got into a bit of a rage

                              It was then that he met the heckler in a pub and got into the fight

                              Here's a quote in regard to the Theosophists...

                              "Madame Blavatsky, and Mrs Besant I knew personally, and upon their pernicious edifice of infidelity I had built a superstructure of my own, more audaciously blasphemous than anything that had ever characterised their iconoclastic efforts to overthrow Christianity"

                              Sounds like he was sexually involved with the women Theosophists in some way

                              He was surgically knowledgeable

                              It's not him is it? - lol


                              • #45
                                Blimey, a new RDS!