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


THE NOTTING HILL MYSTERY.

Notting Hill Mystery (OAW) 4.png

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

 

SECTION IV.

1.—Memorandum by Mr. Henderson.

In the following certificate[1] you will perceive that the lady is described as of “Acacia Cottage, Kensington.” The identity of the name with that given by both Julie and Leopoldo, as the proper designation of the Baron’s “medium,” confirmed that the Baron was married under that name, notwithstanding the strong opinion of Julie as to the impossibility of such being the case. Still, however, it was possible that this might, after all, be a mere coincidence; and I therefore proceeded to make such inquiries as seemed most likely to elucidate the point.

 

1854. Marriage solemnised at the Parish Church in the Parish of Kensington, in the County of Middlesex.

No. Date. Name and Surname. Age. Condition. Rank or Profession.
61 6 Nov. 1854. Carl Schwartz. Full age. Bachelor. Gentleman.
Charlotte Brown. Full age. Spinster.
Residence. Father’s Name. Rank or Profession of Father.
Windermere Villas, Notting Hill. Carl Schwartz. Gentleman.
Acacia Cottage. Not known. Not known.

Married in the Parish Church according to the rites and ceremonies of the Established Church, after banns, by me,

J. W. Edwards, B.A.

 
This marriage was solemnised between us, Carl Schwartz,
Charlotte Brown,
in the presence of us, Thomas Jones.
Frederick Coleman.
 

The above is a copy from the Register of Marriages belonging to this Church. Witness my hand 7th day of November, 1854.

R. Johnson.


 

I had considerable difficulty in finding the house, which two or three years back was included in the regular numbering of the row of similar tenements in which it stands; but I at last succeeded in identifying it. I found the landlady a very deaf old person, whose memory was evidently failing, and was at first unable to extract from her any kind of information on the subject, except that “she had had a great many lodgers, and couldn’t be expected to know all about all of them.” In the course of a second visit, however, I succeeded in persuading her to favour me with a sight of her books, and looking back to October and November, 1854, I found the sum of 2l. 5s., entered as payment from Miss C. Brown of three weeks’ rent, from the 18th October to the 8th November.[2] On further examining the books, I found that at this time, while the other lodger was charged sundry sums for fire, Miss Brown, though occupying the principal sitting-room, had no fire at all during the whole time of her tenancy, though the commencement of November in that year was unusually cold. There were also sundry other little charges invariable in the other cases, but omitted in the case of Miss Brown; and at length, on these things being pointed out to her, the old lady managed to remember that the rooms had been taken by a gentleman for a lady who was to give lessons in drawing. The gentleman had paid the three weeks’ rent in advance, and had specially requested that they might be kept vacant for her, as the time of her arrival was uncertain. He had also begged that any letters or messages received for her should be sent to a certain address immediately. After a great deal of searching, this address was at length found, and proved to be the square glazed card which I enclose.

 
2.Letters or messages for Miss Brown to be forwarded
immediately to care of

Baron R**,
Post Office, Notting Hill.

 

The old lady further stated that she never saw the gentleman again, and that she had never seen the lady at all. In fact, after payment of the money, nothing further had been heard of either of the parties concerned; and as no inquiries had been made for Miss Brown, the subject had altogether passed from her mind.

Being thus pretty well satisfied of the identity of Madame R**, my next care was to trace the proceedings of the Baron between the time of his marriage and the death of his wife, which took place, as you are aware, in London, about two years and a half subsequently; the insurances having, as you well know, been effected at about the middle of this period. The information afforded me by Dr. Jones, the medical man who signed the certificate to your office in connection with the policy on the life of Madame R**, first gave me the required clue, and you will, I think, find in the depositions immediately following, sufficient, at all events, to justify, if not entirely to corroborate, the suspicions which first gave rise to my inquiries. It is certainly unfortunate that here, too—as in the case of Mr. Aldridge, whose letter first aroused these suspicions—the witness on whose evidence the principal stress must be laid, is not one whose testimony would probably carry much weight with a jury. Such, however, as it is, I have felt it my duty to lay it before you; and I will now leave it, with such other as I have been able to collect, to tell its own tale.

 

3.—Statement of Mrs. Whitworth.

My name is Jane Whitworth. I am a widow, and gain my living by letting furnished apartments at Bognor, Sussex. The principal season at Bognor is during the Goodwood races, and there are very few visitors there in the autumn and winter. On the 6th October, 1854, I let the whole upper part of my house to a lady and gentleman, who arrived there late that evening. They gave some foreign name; I forget what. It was some long German name. They did not give the name at first. Not till I asked for it. I don’t know that the gentleman was particularly unwilling. I said I wanted it for my bill; and he laughed, and said it did not matter,—anything would do. Then I said, if letters came, and he said:—“Oh! there won’t be any letters,” and went on reading the paper. I went down stairs, and as I was going down he rang, and I went back, and he told me of his own accord. That was at the end of the first week when I was making out my bill. They said they intended remaining for some weeks. It was the gentleman who said this. The lady took no part in the business, and seemed out of spirits, and very much afraid of her husband. He settled with me to take the apartments at thirty shillings a week. He was to remain as long as he liked. Not beyond the next race week, of course. We never let over the race week. He also made an agreement with me about board. I was to find for him and the lady, and the servant, for 2l. 15s. a week. That was without wine, beer, or spirits. It is not a usual arrangement. We do it sometimes—not often. The gentleman said it was because his wife was not well, and could not be troubled. The servant was his. It was a maid. She did not come with them. The gentleman hired her at Brighton. That is not a usual arrangement. Certainly not. I never made such a one before, and I told him so. He said it was because he was so particular about his servants. He said he never would live where the servants were not under his own hand—where he could not turn them away. I said I did not like it, it was not the custom. He said he was sorry, but he could not take the apartments without it, and then I gave way. Afterwards he followed me down stairs, and gave me to understand it was something about his wife. At first, I thought she was not quite right in her head. That was from what he told me. I said I should be afraid to have her in the house, but he laughed, and said it was not that. I then supposed it must be temper. He was very pleasant about it. He was always very pleasant to me. I don’t know what he may have been to other people. I always had my money to the day, and he was always pleasant. I can’t say better than that. He got a servant a few days after they came. I did not turn away my own. I had none at the time. The season being over, it was a great chance whether I let again, and I sent my servant away, and did for myself. A charwoman did for the gentleman till he got a servant. He got one from Brighton. I recommended two or three in Bognor, but they did not suit. The one he got was a girl about twenty. Her name was Sarah Something. I did not think much of her. I used sometimes to think my tea and sugar went very fast. I never caught her taking anything. She was very quiet and civil-spoken. She stayed with the gentleman about a month; not quite. She was sent away for giving the lady a dose of physic in her arrow-root to make her sick. The lady was very bad indeed. We thought she would have died. She was dreadfully sick, and had the cholera awfully bad. This was the 9th of December.[3] I know it from my books. The gentleman sent out for brandy and several things, and they are down in my book. On the following morning he sent for some stuff from the chemist.[4] Before that he had given her some medicine himself. I don’t know what it was. He had a lot of chemicals and things. He kept them in a back room. The lady had a doctor. Not at first. Not till the Monday after she was ill. I asked him to send for one, but he said he was a doctor himself. She continued very ill, and on the Sunday night I asked him again. He said if she was not better next morning, he would. I wanted him to send for Dr. Pesketh or Dr. Thompson, but he would not. He said they were no good. I have always heard them very highly spoken of. Dr. Pesketh I have always heard of as a first-rate doctor. He is since dead. Dr. Thompson is a very good doctor, too; but Dr. Pesketh, perhaps, had most practice. I don’t think the gentleman knew anything about either of them. He sent for a Doctor Jones, who was in lodgings in the Steyne. I believe he lived in London. He prescribed for the lady while he stayed in Bognor. He went away the week after. He was only there a fortnight. The gentleman heard of him through a friend of mine in the Steyne. He asked me to find out whether there was no London doctor in the place. He would not have any one who belonged to the place. He said country doctors were no good. The lady got better, but very slowly. She was ill several weeks. When she was strong enough they went away. He was very attentive to her. Never left her alone for a minute hardly. She did not seem very fond of him. I think she was afraid of him, but I don’t know why. He was very kind to her, and always particularly civil. Sometimes she seemed quite put out like by his civility. I thought sometimes she would have flown out at him. She never did fly out. He always seemed able to stop her. I don’t know how he did it. He never said anything; only looked at her; but it was quite enough. I thought she must have been doing something wrong, and he had brought her to Bognor to be out of the way. I do not know exactly what made me think so. It was the way they went on, and what he said to me. He never told me so. It was from things he said. I did not talk much to the lady. I thought her very ungrateful when he was so kind. Then she was hardly ever alone. Only once when the gentleman went out for something. Then she was left about an hour. She was writing part of the time. She borrowed writing materials of me. There were none in the sitting-room. There usually were, but the gentleman had sent the inkstand down-stairs. He said it was sure to be upset. I lent the lady the things, and she gave me two letters for the post. She did not say anything to me; only asked me to post them immediately. One was addressed to Notting Hill. I noticed that because I have a sister living there; the other was to some theatre. I forget where. It struck me, because I thought it odd that a lady should write to a theatre. I didn’t think it was right. I would rather not say what I thought. Well, it was that she was connected with some one there. Improperly, of course. The letter was not addressed to a man. It was “Miss Somebody,” but that might be a blind. I thought this might account for her behaviour to her husband. I was very angry. A woman has no business to go on so. It is particularly bad when she has such a good husband. I did not say this to her. I did not notice the address till I got down-stairs. I kept the letters, and told the gentleman when he came in. He seemed very much vexed. He took the letters, and was very much obliged to me. He put the letter to the theatre into the fire without opening it. The other he said he would post himself. I don’t know whether he did post it, or not. I suppose so, of course. I think he spoke to the lady about it. I am sure he did, for that night when I went up, I could see she had been crying, and she would never speak to me again. She spoke English quite well. The letters were addressed in English. When she spoke to the gentleman it was generally in some foreign language, but she could speak English perfectly. I do not know what became of the girl, Sarah. I think she went into service again at Brighton. I know the gentleman gave her a character. He was very kind to her. He was always very kind. He was the pleasantest and most civil-spoken gentleman I ever met, and I think his wife behaved very bad to him.

 

4. Statement of Dr. Jones, of Gower Street, Bedford Square.[5]

I am a physician, residing in Gower Street, Bedford Square. In the beginning of December, 1854, I was suffering from a severe cold, and being unable to shake it off, went for a fortnight to the sea for change of air. I selected Bognor, because I had been in the habit of spending my holidays there for two or three years. I was lodging in the Steyne. Some few days after my arrival, I received a message requesting me to call and see a lady who was dangerously ill at a lodging in another part of the town. At first I declined to go, not wishing to interfere with the established practitioners of the place. A gentleman then called upon me, who gave the name of the Baron R**. He informed me that the lady in question was his wife, and that she was dangerously ill from the effects of a considerable quantity of emetic tartar, administered to her by the maid. He was very urgent with me to attend, saying that he was in the greatest anxiety about his wife, and that he could not in such a case sufficiently rely upon the skill of any country doctor. He pressed me so strongly, that I at length consented to accompany him to his lodgings. I found the patient in a very exhausted condition, and evidently suffering from the effects of some irritant poison. From what the Baron told me, the symptoms were much abated, but the purging still continued, accompanied with severe griping pains and profuse perspirations. I learned from the Baron that, being himself a good amateur chemist, and having accidentally discovered at the outset the origin of his wife’s illness, he had so far treated her himself, rather than trust to the chance of a country physician. He described his treatment, which appeared to me perfectly correct. On becoming satisfied of the cause of the disturbance, he first promoted vomiting as much as possible by the exhibition of tepid water, and afterwards of warm water, with a small quantity of mustard. When no more food appeared to be left in the stomach, he then administered large quantities of a saturated infusion of green tea, of which he had a few pounds at hand for his own drinking, and, finally, at the time of my arrival was exhibiting considerable doses of decoction of Peruvian bark: both which remedies are recommended by Professor Taylor in cases of antimonial poisoning. Their action left no doubt on my mind as to the origin of the symptoms; but by desire of the Baron I proceeded to analyse with him portions of the vomited and excreted matter, as also a portion of the arrow-root in which the tartarised antimony was supposed to have been administered. To all of these we together applied the usual tests,—viz., nitric acid, ferrocyanide of potassium, and hydrosulphuret of ammonia,—and succeeded in ascertaining beyond doubt the presence of antimony in all three. The quantity, however, appears to have been small. So far as we could ascertain, there could not have been more than one, or at the most two grains of tartarised antimony in the arrow-root, of which not much more than three parts was eaten. I cannot account for the violent action of so small a quantity. I have frequently administered much larger doses in cases of inflammation of the lungs without ill effect. Two grains is by no means an unusual dose when intended to act as an emetic; but the action of antimony varies greatly with different constitutions. Having certified ourselves of the presence of the suspected poison, the question was, as to the person by whom it had been administered. The Baron said he had no doubt that it was a trick on the part of the servant maid, between whom and her mistress there had been some dispute a few days since. We therefore determined on taxing her with it; but before doing so, proceeded to examine a bottle of prepared tartar emetic, which, as the Baron informed me, he kept for his own use, being subject to digestive derangement. He was, I believe, addicted to the pleasures of the table, and was in the habit of taking an occasional emetic. The bottle was not in its usual place, but was standing on the table at the side of the dressing-case in which it was usually kept. It was labelled, “The emetic. One tea-spoonful to be taken as directed.” I remarked that it should be labelled “poison,” and the Baron quite agreed with me, and immediately wrote the word in large characters on a piece of paper and gummed it round the bottle. We then weighed the contents of the bottle, from which three doses only had been taken by the Baron, and, on comparing the results, we found that a quantity equivalent to about one grain and a-half of the tartarised antimony had been abstracted in excess of this amount. The servant maid was the only person besides the Baron who usually had access to the apartment; and we at once sent for her and taxed her with having administered it to Madame R** in the arrow-root before mentioned. My own counsel was to give her immediately in charge, but the Baron pointed out, very justly, that there was nothing to show the girl that she was doing anything that could possibly affect life; and that, in the absence of any motive for such a crime, it was only fair to conclude that nothing was intended beyond a foolish practical joke. He said the same to the girl, and spoke to her very kindly indeed. At first she altogether denied it, and pretended to be quite astonished at such an imputation. The Baron, however, looked steadily at her and said, “Take care, Sarah! Remember what I said to you only three days ago.” She did not attempt then to deny it any longer, but said she was very sorry, but she hoped the Baron would forgive her. The Baron said he could not possibly retain her in his service, and she then begged of him not to send her away without a character. At this time I interfered, and said he would be very wrong to send her into any other family after playing such a trick. She again protested she had meant no harm, and the subject then dropped, the Baron saying he would take time to consider of it. From that time I attended Madame R** until my return to London, when she was clearly recovering. I did not enter into any conversation with her, as she seemed very reserved and of an unsociable disposition. The Baron seemed an unusually attentive husband. Talking over the subject of the seizure a day or two afterwards, he informed me that the death of his wife would also have been a severe loss in a pecuniary point of view, as if she lived she would inherit a considerable fortune. I asked him why he did not insure her life, and he said he should now certainly do so, but had not before thought of it. He called upon me about two months later, in passing through town, and informed me that he intended to travel abroad for some months. I recommended the German baths, and on his objecting to the crowds of English there, suggested Griesbach or Rippoldsau, in the Black Forest, where Englishmen are rarely to be encountered. It was too early for either place at that time, and I recommended the south of France until the season was sufficiently advanced. I did not see him again till October, 1855, when he again called upon me with Madame R**, who seemed perfectly restored, and of whom I had no difficulty in reporting most favourably to the —— Life Assurance Association, as also some weeks later to the —— Life Office of Dublin, when applied to for my professional opinion. I think Madame R**’s was an excellent life, and there could be no better proof of it than her entire recovery in the course of a very few months, or indeed weeks, from so severe an illness. The sensitiveness to antimony would not affect this opinion. Indeed Professor Taylor, in his work on poisons, points out distinctly the “idiosyncratic” action of antimony and other medicinals on certain constitutions, as “conferring on an ordinary medicinal dose a poisonous instead of a curative action.” I have a copy of his work now before me, in which he says that “daily experience teaches us that some persons are more powerfully affected than others by an ordinary dose of opium, arsenic, antimony, and other substances;” and again, in considering the probable amount of the “fatal dose,” he speaks of “that ever-varying condition of idiosyncracy, in which, as it is well known, there is a state of constitution more liable to be affected by antimonial compounds than other individuals apparently in the same conditions as to health, age,” &c. I did not, therefore, nor do I now, consider the sensitiveness of Madame R**’s constitution to that medicine any objection to her life, especially in view of the immense vitality shown by her recovery. With regard to the sleep-walking, I have had no hint from the Baron of such a propensity on the part of Madame R**. Certainly it was never suggested that she could have poisoned herself in that way. Indeed the servant girl admitted the act. The mode of Madame R**’s death does not in any degree shake my confidence in my former opinion, as such an occurrence might have happened, though by no means likely to do so, to any one in the habit of walking in their sleep, a propensity which in Madame R**’s case I had no means of ascertaining. I have been enabled to be thus precise in my statement, from the fact that the interesting nature of the case led me to make a special memorandum of it in my diary, from which the above is taken. I shall therefore have no difficulty in confirming any portion of it upon oath.

 

5. Statement of Mrs. Throgmorton.

Mrs. Throgmorton presents her compliments to Mr. R. Henderson, and begs to inform him that the girl Sarah Newman, who is still in her service, and continues to give entire satisfaction in every way, came to her about Christmas, 1854, with a written character from the Baron R**, then residing at Bognor, and with whom she had been as housemaid and parlourmaid for some weeks. The character given by the Baron was a most satisfactory one, but on Mrs. Throgmorton’s desiring to know the reason of Sarah Newman’s leaving the situation, she was informed by the Baron that it was on account of her having played a foolish trick upon her late mistress by administering an emetic to her without authority, a highly reprehensible proceeding, which rendered Mrs. Throgmorton very much indisposed to receive her into her family. On further correspondence with Sarah Newman’s late master, however, Mrs. Throgmorton received the impression that the fault had, in point of fact, been chiefly on the side of Madame R**, though, of course, as a gentleman, impossible to say so directly with respect to his own wife, and Mrs. Throgmorton therefore agreed to take Sarah Newman on trial, as she appeared truly penitent for her most reprehensible conduct, and has since proved a very valuable servant in every respect. Mrs. Throgmorton trusts that this information will be satisfactory to Mr. Henderson, as he appears interested in Sarah Newman’s welfare, in whom Mrs. Throgmorton herself takes great interest.

Cliftonville.

 

6. Statement of Mr. Andrews.

Sir,

“In reply to your letter of the 25th ultimo, I beg to inform you that the girl, Sarah Newman, certainly was in my service at Brighton for a month or two in the summer of 1854, but was discharged, I think, in September of that year, for various petty thefts. She was a very interesting girl, and took us in completely, but was accidentally discovered by one of our children, and after full proof of her delinquencies, turned away without a character. My own wish was to prosecute her, which indeed I considered almost a duty to others by whom she might hereafter be plundered, but I was persuaded to relinquish my intention by my wife, who had taken a great fancy to her. About two months after her dismissal, a gentleman, who gave some German name—I cannot now remember it—called to inquire our reasons for discharging her, and I then informed him of the whole case. He questioned me pretty closely as to my real opinion of the girl, stating that he was philanthropically disposed, and would give her a chance for reform, if there was any likelihood of her availing herself of it. I told him frankly my own opinion, viz., that the girl was a hardened offender; but my wife was very eager that she should have another chance, and I have very little doubt the German gentleman took her. He was, so far as I remember, a stout good-natured looking man, and he had with him a young lady whom he left in the carriage, and who was, he said, his wife. I think the name you mention—Baron R**, is the same name as that given—or at least something like it—but cannot be quite sure. I am,

“Dear sir,
“Faithfully yours,
Charles Andrews.

“P.S.—My wife begs me to ask that should you know anything of the after-career of her protégée, you will kindly communicate it to us.

“R. Henderson, Esq., &c. &c. &c.,
“Clement’s Inn, W. C.”

 

7. Statement of Sarah Newman.

N.B. This statement was not obtained without considerable difficulty, and must be taken for whatever it may be worth. The girl was naturally anxious to be secured against the possible consequences of her own admissions, and I only at last succeeded in inducing her to speak out by means both of a promise on the part of Mrs. Throgmorton not to discharge her, and a threat of police interference, if she did not confess the whole truth. I have, myself, no doubt whatever of the correctness of her statement as it now stands, and it is, as you will see, corroborated in several very important particulars, but whether it could be produced before a jury, or, if it were so, what effect it would have upon their minds, are both very doubtful questions. R. H.

 

My name is Sarah Newman. I was in the service of Mr. Andrews at Brighton for three months. I was discharged by him for stealing tea and sugar. Mr. Andrews wanted to take the law of me, but my mistress would not let him. My mistress would have kept me on, but master said, No. She was always very kind to me, and it was very ungrateful of me to rob her. I would never do so again. My present mistress is very kind to me, too. I have never robbed her of a pin. I declare to goodness I have not, nor I never will steal from anybody again. I have often wanted to tell Mrs. Andrews so since, but did not know where she was. I did not say it to her when I left. I felt quite hard like, because of master. I was out of place two months after that. No one would take me without a character. At last a friend at Bognor told me of a gentleman, and I got her to speak to him. It was the Baron. He came to see me one day when he was at Brighton. He insisted on knowing all about me—where I had been and why I had left Mr. Andrews. He was very kind, and said it was hard a poor girl should be ruined for one false step. He said if I would promise never to steal again he would give me a trial. I promised him faithfully, and he at last took me down to Bognor with him. I do not know whether he made any inquiries about me. I think not. He did not tell me he had. I meant to keep my promise. Indeed I did, and I did keep it, almost. I mean I only took one little thing, and I really did not think that was stealing. Nothing was ever locked up. The Baron always insisted on having the tea-chest and other things left open in case he wanted some. I never took any. I might have taken a great deal, but I did not. I used to think sometimes things were left on purpose to tempt me, but of course that was fancy. Often there were coppers left about, but I never touched them. I did take one thing at last. I did not think it was stealing. It was only some orange-marmalade. I am very fond of sweet things. One day there was a pot of orange-marmalade. It was left on the table. It was after they had gone away from breakfast. I couldn’t help it. It looked so nice. I just put in my finger. That was all. I declare to goodness that was all. I did not even taste it. The Baron came back and caught me. He did not say anything. He just shut the door close and walked straight up to me. I was so frightened I could not move. He took hold of my wrist and held up my hand. I burst out crying. He said it was no use crying; I had deceived him, and must go. He said if he did his duty he ought to give me up to the police. I said indeed I had taken nothing, but only that little taste of sweets. He said who would believe me with my character? He spoke very kind but very stern, and I was dreadfully frightened. I begged of him not to give me up, and he said he would give me one chance more; but I must go away. I said if he turned me out without a character I might as well drown myself at once. I begged him to let me stay; but he said that was impossible. Then I begged him not to say why I was sent away. He said, what else could he say? I begged him again very hard. At last he said he would think over it. He said he would try and make some other excuse for my going, but I must go next day, positive. He told me if he did make an excuse for me to be very careful not to contradict him. I was very grateful to him. He is a kind good gentleman, and I shall always bless him for it. I did not go next day. I was kept by my mistress’s illness. She was very bad indeed. I did all I could for her. I hoped the Baron had forgotten and would let me stay. He sent for me two or three days afterwards. There was another gentleman with him. It was the doctor. He charged me with having given some stuff to my mistress to make her sick. Of course I denied it. I never gave her anything, I never had any quarrel with her at all. She was always very good-natured to me, but I did not like her much. I don’t know why. I think it was because she did not like master. I said I had given her nothing. No more I had. I never saw the bottle, and don’t know what it was. I cannot read at all. I saw master look at me, and he said something about two or three days ago. I knew then that he was making an excuse to send me away. He made signs at me to abide by what he said, and I did abide by it. The other gentleman was very hard, but of course he did not know. What the Baron said was given as a reason for my going away. That was all. The real reason was my taking the marmalade. If you ask the Baron he will tell you so. I hope you will tell him how grateful I am for his kindness to me.

 

 

  1. See next page.
  2. Compare Sections II., 2 and 5; and III., 1.
  3. Compare Mrs. Anderton’s Journal, Dec. 9, p. 675.
  4. On inquiry I find this to have been the decoction of Peruvian bark.—R. H.
  5. Compare Section III., 2.