Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 7/The Notting Hill mystery - Section II

THE NOTTING HILL MYSTERY.

Notting Hill Mystery (OAW) 2.png

See remarks prefixed to the first of these papers, page 617.)

 

Section II.

1. Memorandum by Mr. Henderson.

We now come to that portion of Mrs. Anderton’s[1] history which embraces the period between her marriage and the commencement of her last illness. For this I have been compelled to have recourse to various quarters. The information thus afforded is very complete, and taken in conjunction with what we have already seen in Miss B——'s correspondence of the previous life of this unfortunate lady, throws considerable light upon two important points to be hereafter noticed. The depositions, however, unavoidably run to a greater length than at this stage of the proceedings, their bearing on the main points of the case would render necessary, and I have therefore condensed them for your use in the following memorandum. Any portion, not sufficiently clear, may be elucidated by a reference to the originals enclosed.

Mr. Anderton was a gentleman of good origin, closely connected with some of the first families in Yorkshire, where he had formed the acquaintance of Miss Boleton, while staying at the house of her great aunt, Miss B——. He appears to have been of a most gentle and amiable disposition, though unfortunately so shy and retiring as to have formed comparatively very few intimacies. All, however, who could be numbered among his acquaintance seem to have been equally astonished at the charge brought against him on the death of his wife, with whom he was always supposed, though from his retired habits little was positively known, to have lived upon terms of the most perfect felicity. As the event proved, the case would in effect never have come on for trial; but, had it done so, the defence would have brought forward overwhelming evidence of the incredibility of such a crime on the part of one of so gentle and affectionate a disposition.

During the four years and a-half of their married life there does not appear to have been a cloud upon their happiness. Mrs. Anderton’s letters to her great aunt, Miss B—— (to whom I am indebted for almost the whole of the important information I have been able to collect respecting the family) are full of expressions of attachment to her husband and instances of his devotion to her. Copies of several of these letters are enclosed, and from these it will be seen how unvarying was their attachment to each other. Throughout the entire series, extending over the whole period of her married life, there is not a single expression which could lead to any other conclusion.

It is, however, evident that the delicate health with which Mrs. Anderton had been afflicted from her birth, still continued, and in two instances we have indications of the same mysterious attacks noticed in the letter of Mrs. Vansittart, before quoted. These, however, appear to have been but very slight. They had for some years been of more and more rare occurrence, and from this date, (October, 1852), we have no further record of anything of the kind. Still Mrs. Anderton’s general health continued very unsatisfactory, and almost everything seems to have been tried by her for its improvement. Among the enclosed correspondence are letters dated from Baden, Ems, Lucca, Cairo, and other places to which the Andertons had, at different times, gone for the health of one or other, Mr. Anderton being also, as stated in Mrs. Ward’s letter of the 14th June, 1851,[2] extremely delicate.

Of this gentleman all accounts agree in stating that the chief ailment was a constitutional nervousness, mental as well as physical. The latter showed itself in the facility with which, though by no means deficient in courage, he could be startled by any sudden occurrence however simple; the former, in his extreme sensitiveness to the opinions of those about him, and his dread of the slightest shadow of reproach on the name of which he was so justly proud. In the accompanying documents you will find instances of both these idiosyncrasies.

In the summer of 1854 Mr. Anderton’s attention seems to have been drawn to the subject of Mesmerism. They had been spending some weeks at Malvern, where this science seems particularly in vogue, and had there made acquaintance with several of the patients at the different water-cure establishments, by some of whom Mr. Anderton was strongly urged to have recourse to mesmeric treatment both for Mrs. Anderton and himself.

The constant solicitations of these enthusiastic friends seem at length to have produced their effect, and the favourite operator of the neighbourhood was requested to try his skill on these new patients. On Mr. Anderton the only result seems to have been the inducing of such a state of irritation as might not unreasonably have been expected from so nervously excitable a temperament, in presence of the “manipulations” to which the votaries of mesmerism are subjected. In the case of Mrs. Anderton, however, the result was, or was supposed to be, different. Whether from some natural cause that, at the time, escaped attention, or whether solely from that force of imagination from which such surprising results are often found to arise, I cannot of course say; but it is certain that some short time after the mesmeric “séances” had commenced, a decided though slight improvement was perceptible. This continued until the departure of the operator for Germany, which country he had only recently left on a short visit to England.

Notwithstanding the worse than failure in his own case, the certainly curious coincidence of his wife’s recovery seems to have entirely imposed on Mr. Anderton, whose susceptibility of disposition appears indeed to have laid him especially open to the practices of quacks of every kind. So great was now his faith in this new remedy that he actually proposed to accompany the Professor to Germany rather than that his wife should lose the benefit of the accustomed “manipulations.” He had proceeded to London, for the purpose of making the necessary preparations, when he was induced to pause by the remonstrances of several of his friends, who represented to him that a winter in the severe climate of Dresden—the place to which the Professor was bound—would probably be fatal to one of Mrs. Anderton’s delicate constitution.

His medical adviser also, though himself professing belief in mesmerism, gave a similar opinion, while at the same time he obviated the difficulty respecting the mesmeric treatment of Mrs. Anderton, by offering an introduction to “one of the most powerul mesmerists in Europe,” who had recently arrived in London, and who eventually proved to be the so-styled Baron R**.

This introduction appears to have finally decided Mr. Anderton against the Dresden expedition; and, after a brief experience of his manipulations, Mrs. Anderton herself seems to have derived, in imagination at least, more benefit from them than even from those of her late attendant. So thoroughly were they both impressed with the beneficial results of the Baron’s “passes,” &c., that Mr. Anderton, who had now resolved to settle in London for the autumn and winter, went so far as to take a ready-furnished house at Notting Hill, for the express purpose of having his new professor in his immediate neighbourhood. Here the séances were continued often twice or three times a day, and though, of course, no one in his senses could really attribute such a result to the exercises of the Baron, it is certain that, from some cause or other, the health of Mrs. Anderton continued steadily to improve.

Matters had continued in this position for some weeks, when objections were raised by some of Mr. Anderton’s relations to what they not unnaturally considered the very questionable propriety of the proceeding. There seems to have been a good deal of discussion on this point in which, however, Mr. Anderton’s constitutional susceptibility finally carried the day against his newly conceived predilections with respect to a practice so obviously calculated to expose him to unpleasant comment. The Baron, however, was not disposed so easily to relinquish a patient from whom he derived such large and regular profits. On being made acquainted with the decision respecting the cessation of his visits, he at once declared that his own direct manipulations were unnecessary, and that, if considered improper for one of the opposite sex, they could easily be made available at second-hand.

Having once swallowed the original imposition, any additional absurdity was of course easily disposed of, and it was now determined to avoid all occasion for offence; Mrs. Anderton should henceforth be operated upon through the medium of a certain Mademoiselle Rosalie, a clairvoyante in the employment of the Baron, who, after being placed “en rapport” with the patient, was to convey to her the benefit of the manipulations to which she was herself subjected by the operator.

Into the precise modus operandi I need not now enter, but will only remark upon the fresh instance of the extraordinary powers of imagination displayed in the still more rapid improvement of Mrs. Anderton under this new form of treatment, and the marvellous “sympathy” so rapidly induced between her and the Baron’s “medium.”

Mademoiselle Rosalie was a brunette rather below the medium height, with a slight but beautifully proportioned and active figure, sallow complexion, and dark hair and eyes. The only fault a connoisseur would probably find with her person would be the extreme breadth of her feet, though this might perhaps be accounted for by her former occupation, to be noticed later on. It is necessary for our purpose that this peculiarity should be kept in mind. In appearance she was at that time about thirty years old, but might very possibly have been younger, as the nature of her profession would probably entail a premature appearance of age. Altogether she formed a remarkable contrast to Mrs. Anderton, who was slight but tall, and very fair, with remarkably small feet, and notwithstanding her ill-health, still looking a year or two less than her age. Between these very different persons, however, if we are to credit the enclosed letters, such a “sympathy” sprang up as would, on all ordinary hypotheses, be perfectly unaccountable. Mrs. Anderton could feel—or imagined that she felt—the approach of Mademoiselle Rosalie even before she entered the room; the mere touch of her hand seemed to afford immediate benefit, and within a very few weeks she became perfectly convalescent, and stronger than she had ever been before.

At this point I must again refer you to the depositions themselves, that of Mr. Morton, which here follows, being of too much importance to admit of condensation.

 

2. Statement of Frederick Morton, Esq., late Lieutenant, R.A.

My name is Frederick George Morton. In 1854, I was a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and was slightly wounded at the battle of Inkermann, on the 5th of November of that year, the day after my arrival in the Crimea. It was before joining the battery to which I was appointed. I have since quitted the service, on the death of my father, and am now residing with my mother at Leeds. I was an old school friend of the late Mr. William Anderton, and knew him intimately for nearly fifteen years. I was present at his marriage with Miss Boleton, in August, 1851, and have since frequently visited at their house. During the time I was at Woolwich Academy, I spent every leave-out day with them, and frequently a good portion of the vacations. My father encouraged the intimacy, and I was as much at home in their house as in our own. My father was junior partner of one of the large manufacturing firms in Leeds. The Andertons generally lived in London, when they were not abroad; and on one occasion I went with them to Wiesbaden. I saw very little of them in 1854, as they were away the earlier part of the year, first at Ilfracombe, and then at Malvern, but I spent the 13th of October with them. I particularly remember the date, as I was on my way to the Crimea, where I was afterwards wounded, and the order had come very suddenly. When it came I had just gone to a friend’s house for some pheasant-shooting, and I remember I was obliged to leave the second morning, and I spent the night at Anderton’s, and embarked the next morning. I was to have gone for the first, but could not get away, and I lost the shooting altogether. It was on a Saturday that I embarked, because I remember we had church parade next day. That was the last time I saw Anderton. I was in Italy all that winter with my wound and rheumatic fever; and in the summer of 1855 I was sent for to my father, who was ill for several months before he died, and after that I could not leave my mother. We only took in a weekly paper, and I did not hear of his having been taken up till three or four days after. I started to see him immediately, but was too late. It was not on account of any quarrel that we had not met. Quite the reverse. We were as good friends as ever to the last, and I would have given my life to serve him. I was on the most friendly terms with Mrs. Anderton. He was dotingly fond of her. I used to laugh, and say I was jealous of her, and they used to laugh too. I never saw two people so fond of one another. He was the best and kindest-hearted fellow I ever knew, only awfully nervous, and very sensitive about his family and his name. The only time we ever quarrelled was once at school, when I tried to chaff him by pretending to doubt something he had said: it made him quite ill. He often said he would rather die than have any stain upon his name, which he was very proud of. On the day I speak of—13th October, 1854—I telegraphed to them at Notting Hill that I would dine and sleep there on my way out. I found Mrs. Anderton better than I had ever seen her before. She said it was all Baron R**’s doing, and that since Rosalie came she had got well faster than ever. She wanted to put off the Baron for that night, that we might have a quiet talk, but I would not let her; and, besides, I wanted to see him and Rosalie. They came at about nine o’clock, and Mrs. Anderton lay on the sofa, and Rosalie sat on a chair by her side, and held her hand while the Baron sent her to sleep. It was Rosalie he put to sleep, not Mrs. Anderton. The latter did not go to sleep, but lay quite still on the sofa, while Anderton and I sat together at the farther end of the room, because he said we might “cross the mesmeric fluid.” I don’t know what he meant. Of course I know that it was all nonsense; but I don’t think Rosalie was shamming. I should go to sleep myself, if a man went on that way. When it was over, Mrs. Anderton said she felt much better, and I couldn’t help laughing; then Anderton sent her up to bed, and he and I and the Baron sat talking for an hour and more. I never saw Mrs. Anderton again, for I went away before she was up, but I used to hear of her from Anderton. What we talked of after she was gone was mesmerism. Of course I did not believe in it, and I said so; and Anderton and the Baron tried to persuade me it was true. We were smoking, but Rosalie was there, and said she did not mind it. She always seemed to say whatever the Baron wanted, but I don’t think she liked him. She did not join in the conversation. She said—or at least the Baron said—she could not speak English, but I am quite sure she must have understood it, or at all events a good deal. I have learned German, and sometimes I said something to her, and she answered; and once I saw her look up so quickly when Anderton said something about “Julie,” and the Baron said directly, in German, “not your Julie, child.” I asked her, as she was going away, who Julie was, and she had just told me that she was her great friend, and a dancing girl, when the Baron gave her a look, and she stopped. That was as they were leaving. Before that, Rosalie was doing crochet, and we three were talking about mesmerism. They tried to make me believe it, and the Baron was telling all sorts of stories about a wonderful clairvoyante. That was his Julie, not Rosalie’s. Of course I laughed at it all, and then they got talking about sympathies, and what a wonderful sympathy there was between twins, and the Baron told some more extraordinary stories. And when I wouldn’t believe it, Anderton got quite vexed, and reminded me about the twin sister his wife had had, and who had been stolen by gipsies. And then the Baron asked him about it, and he told him the whole story, only making him promise not to tell it again, because they were afraid of her being reminded of it, and that was why it was never spoken of. The Baron seemed quite interested, and drew his chair close in between us. We were speaking low, that Rosalie might not hear. I remember the Baron said it was so curious he must take a note of it, and he wrote it all down in his pocket-book. He took down the dates, and all about it. He was very particular about the dates. I am sure Rosalie could have heard nothing of all this; not even if she had understood English. We had gone to the window, and were too far off. Besides, we spoke low. Afterwards the Baron seemed thoughtful, and did not speak for some time. Anderton and I got to mesmerism again, and he got a number of some magazine—the “Zoist,” or something of that sort—to prove to me something. He read me some wonderful story about eating by deputy, and when I would not believe it, he called the Baron and asked if it was not true, and he said perfectly, he had known it himself. He started when Anderton spoke to him, as if he had been thinking of something else, and he had to repeat it again. I know it was something about eating by deputy, because afterwards, when I was wounded and had the fever, I used to think of it and wish I could take physic that way. You will find it in the “Zoist” for that month—October, 1854.[3] I remember saying at the time, that it was lucky for the young woman that the fellow didn’t eat anything unwholesome, and Anderton laughed at it. The Baron did not laugh. He stood for ever so long without saying a word, and looking quite odd. I thought that I had offended him by laughing. Anderton spoke to him, and he jumped again, and I saw this time he had let his cigar out. I remember that, because he tried to light it again by mine, and his hand shook so he put mine out instead. He said he was cold, and shut the window. He would not have another cigar, but said he must go away, for it was late. Anderton and I sat smoking for some time. I tried to persuade him to give up mesmerism, and he said Mrs. Anderton was so well now, he thought she could do without it, and that she would give it up in a few weeks. I heard from him afterwards, in November, that the Baron had left town for some weeks. When I was ill at Scutari, after my wound, I wrote to ask him to meet me at Naples, and he started with Mrs. Anderton in December, but was stopped at Dover by Mrs. Anderton’s illness. I have had several letters from him since, and am quite ready to give copies of them; all but the bits that are private. I have read over this statement, and it is all quite true. I am quite ready to swear to it in a court of justice, if required. I wish to add, that I am quite certain poor Anderton had nothing to do with his poor wife’s death. I will swear to that.

 

3. Statement of Julie.[4]

“Manchester, 3 Aug., 1857.

Dear Sir,

“In compliance with your instructions of the 11th ult., I forward deposition of Julia Clark, alias Julie, alias Miss Montgomery, &c., at present of the Theatre Royal, duly attested.

“Dear Sir,
“Yours faithfully,
William Smith.”
 

“I am a dancer, and my name is Julia Clark: I have performed under the name of Julie, and other names. I am at present called Miss Montgomery. I knew the girl called Rosalie. She was my particular friend. We were for several years together in Signor Leopoldo’s company. I forget how many. She did the tight-rope business, and had ten shillings a week and her keep. In our company she was called the ‘Little Wonder.’ Her real name was Charlotte Brown. She was about ten years old when I joined the company. I do not know her history. She did not know it herself. She often told me so. She would have told me if she did. She passed as the niece of old Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown was the money-taker. She took Lotty’s money and found her in clothes. Lotty is Rosalie. Some of our ladies said she had been bought from a tramp. Of course I did not believe it. They said it out of spite. Lotty did the tight-rope business for about five years after I knew her. She was a beautiful figure, only her feet were very broad.[5] All tight-rope dancers are. The rope spreads them. Otherwise her figure was perfect. She was nervous. Not very, but rather. She used to tremble before she went on. It was not from fear. She was ill sometimes. Not often. Sometimes she caught cold from sitting on the damp ground to undress when she was hot with dancing. She got stronger as she grew up. Sometimes she felt ill, and did not know why. She had bad headaches. When she was in that way physic was no good, only brandy. Brandy took away the headaches. She used to drink brandy sometimes, but not like some of our ladies. I never saw her the worse for liquor. Her headaches were not from drinking. Certainly not. They came and went away again. Brandy took them away. I only know of once that she has been ill since she left the company. She wrote and told me of it. I have the letter still. It is not dated, but there was an extract from a newspaper in it about her which is dated some time in October, 1852.[6] The day of the month is cut off. She gave up the tight-rope business because of a fall. That was from being nervous. She was not drunk. She had not been drinking. She was nervous. A glass drop fell from the chandelier and frightened her. That was all. She was very much hurt. One foot was sprained, and the doctors at the hospital said she must never go on the wire again. She was two months there. When she came out the circus was shut up. The company was all dispersed except her and me and Mr. Rogers, and the gentleman who did the comic business. Mr. Rogers was Signor Leopoldo. He took a music-hall. I think it was in Liverpool. He got another singing lady and gentleman, and we gave entertainments. Every evening Mr. Rogers gave a short lecture on mesmerism, and Lotty was his subject. She was very clever at that. Of course she was not really asleep. One night she stopped in the middle. The manager was very angry. She tried to go on, but she fainted, and had to be carried off. She said some gentleman in the stalls had done it. Next morning the gentleman called and took her away. He gave the Signor 50l. He was the Baron R**. I knew it from Lotty. She has written to me several times. These are her letters. They are rubbed at the edges. It is from keeping them in my pocket. I do not think she ever left the Baron, but I do not know. The last letter I ever had from her was from his house. It was in the first week of November, 1854. I got it in Plymouth. It was the only week I was there before I went to Dublin for the pantomime. She said she was going to be married, but must not tell me who to just yet. I never heard from her since. I have written several times, but my letters have been returned. I have no idea who she married. It could not have been the Baron. She disliked him too much. She stayed with him because he paid her well. Partly that, and partly because she said she couldn’t help doing what he told her. She said he really did mesmerise her, and that she could see in her sleep. She did not live with the Baron as his wife. Only as his medium. If she had she would have told me. I am quite sure she would. I am quite certain there was never any connection between her and the Baron except what I have said. Of course I cannot swear she did not marry him, but I should think it very unlikely. Why should she when she disliked him so much? All this is true. I believe Signor Leopoldo is now somewhere abroad.

(Signed)Julia Clark, alias Julie.”

Read over to the deponent, and signed by her in the presence of William Burton, J. P.
2nd August, 1857.

 

4. Statement of Leopoldo.

N.B.—This statement was obtained with some difficulty, and only on an express promise of immunity from any legal proceeding, in respect of the deponent’s relations with the girl Rosalie, alias Angelina Fitz Eustace, alias the “Little Wonder,” alias Charlotte Brown. The statement was enclosed in the following note:

 
“Signor Leopoldo, tragedian, &c., &c., &c., presents his compliments to R. Henderson, Esq., and in consideration of the assurance that ‘what is done cannot be now amended,’ I have the honour to forward the required information, in confidence that you will not keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope, and thus ‘my simple truth shall be abused.’

(Signed)
“Sir, your most humble servant,
Thomas Rogers.
 
Deposition of Signor Leopoldo, Tragedian; Professor of Fencing and Elocution; Equestrian, Gymnastic, and Funambulistic Artiste; Sole Proprietor and Manager of the Great Olympian Circus, &c., &c., &c.

“I, Signor Leopoldo, tragedian, &c., &c., &c., do hereby depose and declare that the girl, Charlotte Brown, commonly known as the celebrated ‘Little Wonder,’ was transferred by me to my celebrated Olympian Company in the month of July, 1837, at Lewes, in the county of Sussex, where the celebrated Olympian Circus was at that time performing with great success and crowded houses. And this deponent further maketh oath and saith that I, the said Signor Leopoldo, tragedian, &c., &c., &c., did in consideration of the services of the said Charlotte Brown, commonly known as the celebrated Little Wonder, pay to a certain person or persons claiming to be the parent or parents of the said Charlotte Brown, commonly known as the celebrated Little Wonder, the sum of five pounds (5l.), which person or persons were of the tribe or tribes commonly known as gipsies or Egyptians. And this deponent furthermore maketh oath and saith that I, Signor Leopoldo, tragedian, &c., &c., &c., cannot tell whether the said Charlotte Brown, commonly known as the Little Wonder, was really the child of the person or persons, gipsy or gipsies aforesaid, or that her name was Charlotte Brown, or any other of the particulars hereinbefore stated and deposed, but only that her linen was marked C. B., which initials do set forth and represent the name of Charlotte Brown.

“Witness our hand and seal this 4th day of January, in the year of grace, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight.

(Signed)Thomas Rogers.

 

5. Statement of Edward Morris, Clerk in the Will Office, Doctors’ Commons.

“My name is Edward Morris. I am a clerk in the Will Office at Doctors’ Commons, and my duty is to assist those who wish to search wills deposited in our office. On the 14th October, 1854, Baron R** came to the office and searched in several wills. One was the will of a Mr. Wilson, copy of which is herewith enclosed. I remember this will particularly, because I had an altercation with the Baron respecting his wish to copy parts of it. He wished to make extracts, and I told him it was not allowed; only the date and the names of the executors. He persisted, and I said I must report it. He then laughed and said it did not matter, and he tapped his forehead and said he could make a note of it there. He read parts of the will over two or three times and gave it back to me. He then said, ‘You shall see, my friend,’ and laughed again, and he made me follow him while he repeated several pages of the will by rote. He laughed again when he had done, and asked if he might copy it now. I said no; and he laughed again, and wrote for some time in his note-book, looking up at me every now and then and laughing. I was angry, partly because he laughed, and partly because he kept me there when I wanted to get away. I had leave for a week to go to the Isle of Wight and see my aunt. I wanted to get there that night because the next day was my birthday. He made me miss the train, and as the next day was Sunday, I did not get there till late. That is how I remember the date. I am sure of the year because my aunt only went to the Isle of Wight the November previously, and died in the spring of 1855. I am quite sure it was the Baron. I should recognise him anywhere. He is a short, stout man, with a rather florid complexion and reddish hair, rather light. He has large fat hands, white and well kept, and an immense head. He dresses all in black, and wears large spectacles of light blue. I don’t think it is because his eyes are weak. I am sure it is not; for when he takes off his spectacles I never saw such extraordinary eyes. I can’t describe them, only that they are very large and bright. I never could look at them long enough to make out the colour, but they are very dark, I think black, and they put one out to look at them, otherwise there is nothing very remarkable about him. I recognised him that day from having seen him before at a mesmeric lecture, when I asked his name.”

 

6. Memorandum by Mr. Henderson.

I enclose the will of which the following is an abstract:

“Mr. Wilson, of the firm of Price & Wilson, Calcutta, who died in 1825, leaves the sum of 25,375l. three per cent. consols, to his niece, Gertrude Wilson (afterwards Lady Boleton), and to her children, if any, or their heirs in regular succession, whether male or female. In default of any such heirs, the money to be made over to trustees selected by the Governor General of India for the time being, from among the leading merchants of Calcutta, for the purpose of founding, under certain restrictions, an institution among the hills for the children of those who could not afford to send them home to England.”

The will also provides that should any female taking under it die during her coverture, the husband shall retain a life interest in the property.

 

 

  1. The late Miss Boleton.
  2. Section I. No. 12.
  3. An extract from the magazine here quoted will be given later on in the case.
  4. The difficulty of tracing this witness, from the slight clue afforded by Mr. Morton’s statement, occasioned considerable delay.
  5. Section II. No. 1.
  6. Section II. No. 1.