Homosexuality in Great Britain: Section Three: Scandals

Tuesday 21 March 2017.
 

Homosexuality in Great Britain: Scandals

This is the third sections in Homosexuality in Great Britain. The time period being covered is when the concept of the modern homosexual identity was coming into existence. What was scandalous then, today could still be considered scandalous. What was a part of the homosexual culture then is still a part of the homosexual culture today, cross-dressing and sexual relations between adults and adolescents. Today the term is transgender, a concept that only now in the 2nd generation of the modern homosexual movement is being advocated for as a normal gender/sexual identity. How quickly will follow the advocating for sex between adults and adolescents as being normal sexual behavior? One only needs to study history and specifically here speaking of homosexuality read a book published in 1989, After the Ball How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of gays in the ‘90s, by two self-identified homosexuals.

When you’re very different, and people hate you for it, this is what you do: first you get your foot in the door, by being as similar as possible; then, only then-when your one little difference is finally accepted-can you start dragging in your other peculiarities one by one. You hammer the wedge narrow end first. As the saying goes, Allow the camel’s nose beneath your tent, and his whole body will soon follow.(Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ‘90s, p. 146)

Scandals

In these lines, Wilde ventriloquizes Lady Bracknell in order to allude, obliquely and across gender, to a then notorious transvestite/ homosexual scandal, in which two men Frederick Park (aka Fanny) and Ernest Boulton (aka Stella) were arrested in drag in front of the Strand Theatre and later prosecuted for conspiracy to commit a felony-the felony being of course sodomy. Argued before Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, the case Regina v. Boulton and others opened on 9 May 1871, lasted for six days, aroused immense public interest, including extensive newspaper coverage, and resulted, thanks to paucity of evidence, in acquittal. Along with the Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889, the Boulton and Park case was Victorian England’s most prominent homosexual discursive event prior to the Wilde trails of 1895. (Craft, Another Kind of Love male Homosexual Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920, p. 122

The Cleveland Street scandal exposed the sexual exploitation in a West End male brothel of young telegraph messenger lads, one whom was under 16 years of age. The exposure of this scandal undoubtedly gained momentum in all the newspapers because of the connection between the male brothel and some of its clients, who were of the highest social and political standing. But the attraction for the press was, initially, the corrupting of telegraph boys by their elders. (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 96)

The three infamous Wilde trials five years later ran from 3 April to 25 May 1895. The first was a libel action taken by Wilde against the Marquis of Queensberry, who had left a card with the words posing as a sodomite [sic] for Wilde at his club, the Albemarle. During the trial Queensberry and his team set out to substantiate their plea of justification, prompting Wilde to withdraw. As a result of the revelations in the libel case Wilde was arrested, along with Alfred Taylor, one of his associates, and charged under the Labouchere Amendment. The two men were tried together between 29 April and 1 May, but the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judged ordered a retrial. This time Wilde and Taylor were tried separately, with Taylor’s case heard first. The Solicitor General, Sir Frank Lockwood, took up the case for the prosecution and the two men were found guilty and sentenced to the maximum term of two years imprisonment with hard labour. (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 51)

One of the consistent themes during Wilde’s trials was the youthfulness of his sexual partners, almost all of whom were under the age of twenty-one and some were around sixteen or seventeen. (Robins, Oscar Wilde The Great Drama of His Life How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality, p. 129)

1. 1871 Stella and Fanny

Historians have tended to assume that no one knew of or saw sodomy in the mid-nineteenth-century city and that, as a result, no one knew what to make of cross-dressers like Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park. The trial of these female impersonators, and their subsequent acquittal on the charge of conspiring to commit sodomy, is now one of the central parts of any history of male homosexuality and is justly one of the most famous criminal trials of the nineteenth century.
In April 1870, Ernest Boulton and Federick Park, dressed in women’s clothes and in character as Stella and Fanny, were arrested as they left the Strand theatre. It emerged at the committal hearings that they had been in the habit of attending fancy dress balls in fashionable hotels and walking the West End in female attire, under the gaze of police, since at least 1867. They had even attended the 1869 Varsity boat race in women’s clothes. It was soon revealed that Boulton had been living with a penurious aristocrat named Lord Arthur Clinton, who was the son of the fourth Duke of Newcastle, a former government minister.
(Cocks, Nameless Offences Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.105)

One of the most sensational trials of the century involved two of the most famous cross-dressers in Victorian Britain. Federick Park and Ernest Boulton were from respectable backgrounds, Park being the son of a judge and Boulton the son of a suburban clerk, but both were shown to have lived at the centre of a group of men who dressed, and in some cases, lived, as women. Their alleged crime was conspiring with others, both known and unknown, to commit sodomy. (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 121 in A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook.)

The great homosexual scandal of the mid-Victoria period involved another Member of Parliament, thirty-year-old Lord Arthur Clinton, third son of the fifth Duke of Newcastle who sat for Newark in the House of Commons. Living in the same lodgings as Lord Arthur were two young men, Ernest Boulton, aged twenty-two, the son of a London stockbroker, and his inseparable companion, Frederick William Park, aged twenty-three, whose father was a Master in the Court of Common Please. Boulton and Park were both transvestite homosexuals, who liked to play female parts in amateur theatricals and frequently appeared in public dressed as women, rouged and painted, in low cut dresses. Bouton, familiarly known as Stella was an effeminate looking youth, extremely musical and the possessor of a fine soprano voice. A servant in the lodgings deposed that she thought Boulton was Lord Arthur’s wife and certainly his lordship did nothing to dispel this idea; on the contrary the evidence showed that he had visiting cards printed in the name of Lady Arthur Clinton and a seal engraved with the name Stella. Park, who was known as Fanny, was also on terms of intimacy with Lord Arthur, as appeared in some of his letters which the police seized. (Montogomery, A Tangled Web Sex Scandals in British Politics and Society, p. 83-84)

The Stella and Fanny trail has preoccupied the attentions of all historians of British homosexuality. However, most historians have, almost invariably, tended to concentrate on the last of the trials of Regina v. Boulton and Others in Westminster Hall in April and May of 1871. The ambivalence in definitions of sodomy and apparent confusion amongst authorities about the existence of sexuality between men in the Westminster Hall trial has led most historians since Weeks to conclude that there was little understanding of sex and sexuality between men in British society at this time. This argument fits neatly, in chronological terms¸ into arguments for the medico-legal construction of the homosexual towards the end of the century.
However, the most recent study of the Stella and Fanny trials by Charles Upchurch, strongly criticises the emphasis of studies by Neil Bartlett, Weeks, Sinfield and innumerable other works . . . [which] rarely move beyond the sensationalism of the 1871 newspaper reporting.
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain 1861-1913, p. 68-69)

2. 1889 Cleveland Street scandal

In the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889-1890 the police and the courts faced criticism for their handling of suspects, as will be shown later, and there was a lengthy exchange in parliament about the case which drew attention to an apparent increase in homosexual activity in the city. (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 47)

The Cleveland Street scandal was a protracted affair, involving three trails and heated exchanges in parliament. It began in July of 1889 when Charles Swinscow, a fifteen-year-old telegraph boy working from the General Post Office headquarters in St Martin-le-Grand, admitted being paid for sex with men at 19 Cleveland Street, just north of Oxford Street. Charles Hammond the proprietor of the Cleveland Street house fled abroad once he had been implicated by Swinscow, but his accomplice Charles Veck and the supposed ringleader at the GPO, Henry Newlove were tried at the Old Bailey on 18 September 1889, under the Labouchere Amendment. They were sentenced to nine and four months with hard labor respectively, but the case went unreported. (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 50)

The Cleveland Street scandal exposed the sexual exploitation in a West End male brothel of young telegraph messenger lads, one whom was under 16years of age. The exposure of this scandal undoubtedly gained momentum in all the newspapers because of the connection between the male brothel and some of its clients, who were of the highest social and political standing. But the attraction for the press was, initially, the corrupting of telegraph boys by their elders. (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 96)

The affair began on 4 July 1884, when a Post Office messenger named Charles Swinscow was found to be in possession of more money than he could have earned legitimately. He was questioned and admitted that he had received the money as payment for having sex with men at Number 19 Cleveland Street, off Tottenham Court Road. Another messenger named Alfred Newlove had induced Sinscow and at least two others to go to the house with him for the same reason. The house was run by a man named Charles Hammond, assisted by the self-styled Reverend George Veck, and its clients according to the Telegraph boys were army officers, businessmen and aristocrats. On 7 July Newlove was arrested. Attempts were also made to arrest Hammond but he had already escaped to France and eventually ended up in Seattle. The house at Number 19was found by the police to be closed. (Cocks, Nameless Offences Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.145)

Five years later, similar charges of cover-up and vices in high places rocked the Tory government and its supporters in England. The affair began in the unlikely environment of the postal sorting office at Mount Pleasant in central London. This office, in London¸ sent out an army of youthful, uniformed messengers to deliver telegrams throughout the city, By the 1800s, these youths, some as young as 14, were notorious for the fact that their principal sideline was prostitution. When one of them, Charles Swinscow, was discovered to have the suspiciously large sum of eighteen schillings in his possession, alarm bells began to ring. On being questioned about the money, Swinscow admitted that another Telegraph boy named Alfred Newlove had persuaded him to go to a house in Cleveland street, just north of Soho, in order to have sex with men for money. The house, at number 19, was run by two men, Charles Hammond and the self-styled Reverend George Veck. Its clients, according to Swinscow, were army officers, businessmen and aristocrats, among them Lord Euston and Lord Arthur Somerset, the latter an enquerry to the Prince of Wales and the son of the Duke of Beaufort. That was not all, as some of the boys hinted that Prince Albert Victor, known as Eddy the son of the Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne, was also one of Hammond’s customers. (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 131-132 in A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook.)

Once a man began to dabble, he discovered speedily that there were brothels where men and boys could be hired. This thriving underground world burst onto a rapt public when arrests were made at a whorehouse at 19 Cleveland Street in July 1889. The police stumbled onto the establishment in a kind of haphazard, pell-mell manner. It all started with the investigation into thefts at the central post office. A nineteen-year-old telegraph messenger boy, Charles Swinscow, was questioned by the police because he was spending more money than he could possibly earn as a messenger (these were the days before credit cards). Swinscow admitted quite openly that he and a number of other boys (including the wonderfully named Ernest Thickbroom) had been recruited by Harry Newlove(!), a former messenger, to perform all manner of sex acts with middle- and upper-class men at Cleveland Street. Most of these boys had started in on this life with some sexual fun in the lavatory at the central post office, with Newlove. (Lutz, Pleasure Bound Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism, p. 178-179)

Dubbed the Cleveland Street Affair after the small West End street where, at number 19, a male brothel proffering young postal employees to an upper-class and often titled male clientele became the center of a controversy that not only implicated severally highly placed men (including Prince Albert Victor, second in line to the throne) in a web of-to use the Public Prosecutor’s words-unnatural lust, but also put both the state prosecution and the public newspaper coverage themselves on trial. The circumstances of the affair are rather complex: on 4 July 1889, while pursuing an investigation of a small theft from the Central Telegraph Office, the police interrogated a fifteen-year messenger boy named Charles Swinscow who appeared to have more money in his possession than his meager salary could account for. Under questioning Swinscow revealed that he had earned the money by going to bed with gentleman at the house in Cleveland Street run by a man called Charles Hammond. He also volunteered that he knew of at least two other telegraph boys who had pursued similar outside employment and noted that they had all been introduced to the practice by another messenger, Henry Newlove(!). These revelations led to a further investigation culminating in the prosecution of Newlove and an older man, George Veck, for procuring boys to commit diverse acts of grow indecency with another [male] person. The third man, Charles Hammond was also indicted but fled the country to avoid persecution. (Cohen, Talk on the Wilde Side Toward a Genealogy of a Discourse on Male Sexualities, 121-122)

Towards the middle of the eighties a male brothel was opened by a certain Charles Hammond in a house at 19 Cleveland Street, off Tottenham Court Road. It was soon doing highly successful business, its patrons including various aristocratic and well-to-do homosexuals, including, so it was rumoured, a member of the British royal family. (The suspected royalty was the twenty-five year old Prince Eddy, later Duke of Clarence, eldest son of the Prince of Wales.) A particular speciality of the house in Cleveland Street was telegraph boys¸ who were willing to go to bed with the customers¸ besides delivering telegraphs, for which in those days they only earned a few shillings a week. There was also more than a hint of blackmail about the place.
The police got on to Hammond’s trail after being called by in by the postal authorities to investigate the disappearance of some money from the General Post Office in the summer of 1889. Suspicion fell on one of the telegraph boys, who was observed to have more money to spend than his modest weekly earnings permitted. The boy was questioned by the police and under interrogation confessed that he had got money from Hammond, and that he was not the only one to receive payment for obliging Hammond’s customers. Other lads were questioned in turn, among them one called Algernon Alleys, who had received a number of comprising letters from a certain Mr. Brown.
(Hyde, The other Love, p. 123-124)

Hammond was thus indicted along with Newlove and Veck on thirteen counts of procuring six boys-Wright, Swinscow, Thickbroom¸ Perkins, Barber and Allies-to commit divers acts of gross indecency with another person between 20 December 1888 and 25 March 1889. There were also counts charging conspiracy to commit the same offense. In addition Veck was specifically charged with committing acts of gross indecency with Allies and Barber, contrary to section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and Newlove with similar acts with Swinscow as well as attempted buggery of Wright. (Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p.47)

Newlove and Veck were tried, on 18 September, for procuring the Telegraph boys and attempting to commit sodomy and were respectively sentenced to four and nine months imprisonment. (Cocks, Nameless Offences Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.145)

At the end of August, in an attempt to collect corroborating evidence against Somerset, the police went to interview another boy named in the enquiry, Algernon Allies, who was living with his family at Sudbury in Suffolk. Unfortunately for them, Allies had been tipped off about their visit and had destroyed a number in incriminating letters. (Cocks, Nameless Offences Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.145)

Charles Hammond 34 years old. He was a professional male prostitute, blackmailer and brothel-keeper. Hammond was married to a French prostitute known as “Madame Caroline, by whom he had two sons. Occupied the house at 19 Cleveland Street from the latter part of 1888 until his flight to Paris on 6 July 1889 and then to American in October 1889 and settled in Seattle. He fled to Paris and then to America with a boy named Ames.

George Daniel Veck 39 years old. Veck was an ex-Post Office employee who posed as a clergyman and lived with Hammond at 19 Cleveland Street. He was sentenced to 9 months hard labor under Clause 11 in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885.

Algernon Edward Allies 18 years old. Allies lived and worked as a waiter at the Marlbough Club and was dismissed for stealing. Allies then lived at 19 Cleveland Street with Hammond before moving home with his parents. He was befriended by Lord Arthur Somerset at the Marlbough Club where Somerset was a member and given money for support by him for sexual favors, which Allies reported to the police. Allies was under police protection for several months.

He was a good-looking curly-haired youth of twenty who had been out of a job for the past six months or so during that time had been living at home with his parents. Before that he had been employed as a house boy in the Marlborough Club, where he had attracted the attention of Lord Arthur Somerset. He had also stolen some money from the club premises as a result of which he was arrested and charged with theft. He appealed to Lord Arthur for help, and instead of being sent to prison, he was bound over, Lord Arthur going surety for his good behaviour. (Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 35-36)

George Barber: But there was a boy there aged seventeen who gave his name as George Barber and described himself as Veck’s Private Secretary. (Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p.34)

George and Veck lived together after Veck had left 19 Cleveland Street. Veck also passed him off as his son.

Henry Horace Newlove 17 years old. Newlove worked as a clerk in the GPO Secretary’s office. He initiated and committed sexual acts with Swinscow and Wright in a basement lavatory in the General Post Office.

Telegraph boys: 1) William Meech Perkins. Telegraph boy at the General Post Office, procured by Newlove for Hammond, suspended from duty and dismissed in December of 1889. 2) Charles Thomas Swinscow 15 years old. Telegraph boy at the General Post Office, swore information against Lord Arthur Somerset, suspended from duty and dismissed in December of 1889. 3) Charle Ernst Thickbroom 17 years old. Telegraph boy at the General Post Office, swore information against Lord Arthur Somerset, suspended from duty and dismissed in December of 1889. 4) George Alma Wright 17 years old. Telegraph boy at the General Post Office, procured by Newlove for Hammond, suspended from duty and dismissed in December of 1889.

Lord Arthur Somerset: Lord Arthur was a Major in the Royal Horse Guards and superintendent of the Prince of Wale’s stables and known familiarly as Podge. He was the 3rd son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort. Somerset left England permanently, 18 October 1889, resigning his commission and appointment in the Prince of Wale’s household prior to the issue of a warrant for his arrest. He eventually settled at Hyeres on the French Riviera, where he died and was buried.

3. 1895 Oscar Wilde trials

Four days after the first night, on 18th February, he drove with a witness to the Albemarle Club in Dover Street, of which Oscar was a member, and left his card with the Hall Porter to be handed to Oscar. On the card he wrote the words: To Oscar Wilde, posing as a sodomite [sic].It transpired later that the offending word, whether because of its mis-spelling, or because he was unfamiliar with it, did not convey any meaning to the Hall porter; the circumstances were, however, so unusual, that he put it in an envelope, addressed it to Oscar Wilde, Esq. And stuck it in the letter-rack in the hall. And it was there Oscar received it ten days later, on his return from visiting friends in the country. Here it was that he made the fatal mistake that ruined him. He should have torn up the card, dismissed the incident from his mind and let Queensbury brood on in his fury. (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World. P. 102)

The facts of the case are well known and amply documented and commented on. Wilde’s trials progressed through three phases: the action for criminal libel he intitated against the Marquess of Queensbury; his persecution for sexual offenses as codendant with Alfred taylor, which ended in a hung jury; and a second trial of him alone leading to his conviction for "gross indecency" and imprisonment for two years at hard labor. Two aspects of Wilde’s case distinguished it from the earlier scandals involving love between men: his memorable writing and his extraordinary celebrity." (Kaplan, Sodom on the Thames Sex, Love, and Scandal in Wilde Times, p. 226)

The three infamous Wilde trials five years later ran from 3 April to 25 May 1895. The first was a libel action taken by Wilde against the Marquis of Queensberry, who had left a card with the words posing as a sodomite [sic] for Wilde at his club, the Albemarle. During the trial Queensberry and his team set out to substantiate their plea of justification, prompting Wilde to withdraw. As a result of the revelations in the libel case Wilde was arrested, along with Alfred Taylor, one of his associates, and charged under the Labouchere Amendment. The two men were tried together between 29 April and 1 May, but the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judged ordered a retrial. This time Wilde and Taylor were tried separately, with Taylor’s case heard first. The Solicitor General, Sir Frank Lockwood, took up the case for the prosecution and the two men were found guilty and sentenced to the maximum term of two years imprisonment with hard labour. (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 51)

Wilde was prosecuted to conviction under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, Section 11, which made homosexual acts between consenting males a criminal offence whether committed in public or in private, the section in question having been proposed by Henry Labouchere, editor of Truth, and agreed to in a thinly attended House in the small hours of an August morning on the eve of the parliamentary summer recess. (Hyde, A Tangled Web Sex Scandals in British Politics and Society, p. 208)

It is likely that Wilde first became a practicing homosexual in 1886 as the result of his meeting Robert Ross; the latter subsequently admitted to Frank Harris that he was the first boy Oscar ever had, and there seems to be no reason to doubt this statement, confirmed by a similar admission to Arthur Ransome, for whose well-known critical study of Wilde Ross supplied considerable information. (Hyde, The other Love, p. 141)

1st trial: Wilde vs Queensberry

The cause of Oscar Wilde’s first dramatic appearance at the Old Bailey was the friendship he had formed with Lord Alfred Douglas, third son of the eighth Marquess of Queensbury. The father objected to this association on his son’s part, and after numerous attempts to break it up, Lord Queensbury finally resorted to a characteristically vulgar and offensive action which was calculated to bring the issue to a head. On the afternoon of 18th February 1895 he called at Wilde’s club in London and left with the porter a card in which he had written some defamatory words. Wilde was handed the card on his next visit to the club, and, having taken legal advice, he embarked on the course which was eventually to land him in prison and his friend in exile. (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p.62)

The case of Oscar Wilde versus the Marquess of Queensbury opened at the Old Bailey on 3 April 1895. As might be expected a suit between a world-famous dramatist and a notorious and highly eccentric sportsman who was also a lord attracted a great attention, and the court was full to overflowing, although there were no ladies present. (Hichens, Oscar Wilde’s Last Chance The Dreyfus Connection, p. 49)

On 3rd April the case of Regina v. the Marquess of Queensbury was opened at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Henn Collins and lasted three days, at the end of which Sir Edward Clarke, seeing the hopelessness of the position, withdrew from the case and a formal verdict of Not Guilty was returned in Queensbury favour. From that point the real debacle began. (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 105)

On hearing them, Humphreys before taking the case asked if there was any truth in Queensberry’s libelous accusation. Oscar said there was not; a warrant was obtained; and on March 2 Queensberry was arrested, and charged at the Marlborough Street Police Court with criminal libel. The case was then adjourned for a week. (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.143)

The judge insisted on a straightforward verdict of guilty or not guilty: Carson, Clarke, and the judge all agreed on a not-guilty verdict for Queensberry, which the judge directed the jury to bring in. (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.154)

Finally Carson, with the coolness of a poker player, produced his trump card; he said he would call as witnessed the boys who had been procured for Wilde. Oscar was thereby forced on the defensive and Carson had the upper hand. What enjoyment was it to you to entertain grooms and coachmen? The pleasure for me was being with those who are young, bright, happy, careless and free. I do not like the sensible and I do not like the old.; From this moment he was no longer believed when he posed as the champion of youth. Besides he had just shocked the Victorians by something far more important than his attachment to Lord Alfred, he had transgressed the social code: a gentleman does not sit at the same table with people of lower orders, he can give them tips, but not cigarette-cases, He had betrayed his class and for that he would not be forgiven. (Jullian, Oscar Wilde, p. 321)

2nd trial: Regenia v. Wilde and Taylor on 22 counts of gross indecency

The country had in effect allowed Oscar to leave and he had not done so. Now it was to visit upon him all the wrath of the English in one of the periodical fits of morality which Macaulay had found so ridiculous in Byron’s time seventy years earlier (Morely, Oscar Wilde, p. 119-120)

Schematically, the judicial process can be chronicled as follows: After his initial arrest (5 April) and subsequent formal indictment (25 April) for committing acts of gross indecency and conspiring to commit such acts along with Alfred Taylor-an unemployed gentleman of Wilde’s acquaintance who had recently run through a small inheritance, arrested on 6 April, and additionally charged with procuring young men for Wilde- the two defendants were remanded to police custody without bail until the indecisive conclusion of the first prosecution on 1 May. (Cohen, Talk on the Wilde Side Toward a Genealogy of a Discourse on Male Sexualities, 175-176)

The following morning, 6 April, Wilde was charged at Bow Street with offences under what became known as the blackmailer’s charter namely Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, for the protection of minors it having been established in court that some of the panthers were less than 18. (Morely, Oscar Wilde, p. 119)

On April 6, Oscar appeared in police court to be charged under a section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, which involved offenses against male persons. (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.161)

When it opened Oscar and Alfred Taylor were linked together under a single indictment of twenty-five counts that involved gross decency, conspiracy, and misconducts with young men. (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.163)

Wilde and Taylor were charged under a single indictment containing twenty-five counts and alleging: (a) the commission of acts of gross indecency by both men contrary to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, section 11; and (b) conspiracy to procure the commission of such acts by Wilde. There was a further charge against Taylor of having acted as a procurer for Wilde. The first nine counts of the indictment referred to misconduct with the two Parker brothers; the next three to Federick Atkins; two more incidents at the Savoy Hotel; two to the young man Sidney Mavor; three to charges of conspiracy; five to the blackmailer Alfred Wood; and the last to Wilde’s conduct in regard to Edward Shelly. In regard to Taylor, the most series counts in the indictment charged him with attempting to commit the felony of sodomy with both the Parkers. To all these counts the prisoners pleaded not guilty. (Hyde, Oscar Wilde A Biography, p. 234)

Oscar’s trial started on 26th April and lasted five days, at the end of which the jury disagreed and a verdict of Not Guilty was returned on certain counts. So the whole wretched business had to be gone through again, about three weeks later. (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 105)

Clarke made an eloquent closing speech asking for a renowned and accomplished man of letters (happily he had not seen the one to Bosie) to be freed of any connection with the perjurer and blackmailers trying to ruin his reputation, and the jury was sent out; but (and this remains some tribute to Clarke’s skills as an advocate) they failed to agree on a verdict.”(Morely, Oscar Wilde, p. 125)

“The trial lasted five days. Sir Edward Clarke protested that the charge of conspiracy was unfair, for, should it be maintained, the two defendants who sat together in the dock, could not be called as witnesses. This the judge ruled against, but Clarke obtained an acquittal on the charge itself.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.163-164)

“The Hellenist’s discourse alone was a scaffold strained to its limits by the task of supporting the imaginary of criminalized and pathologized late-nineteenth-century homosexuals becomes clear if we return to Wilde’s speech from the dock about ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ and place it in its immediate context-the final day of Wilde’s first trial on 22 counts of gross indecency. The speech is made at the end of three days of unrelenting testimony regarding Wilde’s sexual encounters with young men. Witnesses have described his proclivities graphically; how he had anal intercourse with them, fondled their genitalia, tried have them perform fellatio on him, or enjoyed having them-in the words of Charles Parker-‘[toss] him off’, and hotel workers have described the ‘peculiar’ stains left on the sheets in Wilde’s rooms. Nineteen people have helped the prosecution argue its case that Wilde indulged regularly in ‘abominable traffic’, ‘sodomy’, ‘filthy practices’ and vice.’” (Ivory, The Homosexual Revival of Renaissance Style¸1850-1930, p.16)

“Before the jury retired to consider their verdict, Mr Justice Charles put four questions to them which he then wrote down and handed to the foreman”

1. Do you think that Wilde committed indecent acts with Edward Shelley and Alfred Wood and with a person or persons unknown at the Savoy Hotel, or with Charles Parker?
2. Did Taylor procure or attempt to procure the commission of these acts or any of them.
3. Did Wilde and Taylor or either of them attempt to get Atkins to commit indecencies?
4. Did Taylor commit indecent acts with Charles Parker or William Parker?

The jury then withdrew, and at the foreman’s request the judge ordered that they should be provided with a reasonable amount of food and drink to sustain them during their deliberations. It was just after half-past one when they filed out into the jury room. They returned to court at a quarter-past five, having sent a message to the judge that they had arrived at a negative finding in regard to the third question above, but they disagreed about the remainder.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde A Biography, p. 266)

“But after not quite four hours the jury returned to the courtroom, having found it impossible to agree.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.166)

“Before they left the box, the jury returned a formal verdict of “Not guilty” on the counts relating to Atkins, and also on those concerning Mavor, which had been struck out of the indictment on the judge’s directions for lack of evidence, as well as the conspiracy counts, which had been withdrawn by the prosecution. This disposed of nine counts in all, out of a total of twenty-five in the indictment which the prisons had to answer.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde A Biography, p. 267)

3rd trial The second criminal trial against Wilde

“The second trial opened on May 20 at the Old Bailey.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.170)

“Standing in the dock on May 22, Oscar pleaded Not Guilty to the charges against him, which was now reduced to acts of gross indecency with three men who were named and two who were unknown” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.171)

“Wilde entered the dock at the Old Bailey to stand trial for the second time on 22 May 1895. There were certain notable differences from the previous occasion. The counts relating to Aktins and Mavor had likewise disappeared, and with them the testimony of these youths-Atkins, because he had perjured himself in the witness box, and Mavor, because he had persisted in denying that any indecencies had ever taken place between himself and Wilde. Nevertheless, the accused still had a formidable series of eight accounts to meet. Four of these charged him with committing acts of gross indecency with Charles Parker at the Savoy Hotel, St. James’ Place, and elsewhere; two counts charged him with committing similar offences with unknown persons in the Savoy Hotel; one count related to alleged indecency with Wood in Tite Street; and the final count concerned Shelly.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde A Biography, p. 277)

“Wilde entered the dock at Old Bailey to stand trial for the second time on 22 May 1895. There were certain noticeable differences from the previous occasion. The defendant no longer had to meet any charges of conspiracy. The counts relating to Atkins and Mayor had likewise disappeared from the indictment, and with the testimony of these two youths – Atkins, because he had perjured himself in the witness box, and Mayor, because he had persisted in denying that any indecencies had ever taken place between himself and Wilde. Nevertheless, the accused still had a formable series of eight counts to meet. Four of these charged him with committing acts of gross indecency with Charles Parker at the savory Hotel, St James’s Place, and elsewhere; two counts charged him with committing similar offences with unknown persons in the Savory Hotel; one count related to alleged indecency with wood in Tite Street; and the final count concerned Shelley.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 233-234)

“There had been twenty-five counts against the two prisoners when they were tried jointly. In the second trial, which began on 20 May before Mr Justice Wills and in which the prisoners were tried separately, the counts against Taylor were reduced to fourteen and those against Wilde to eight, this being due mainly to the dropping of the conspiracy counts by the prosecution.” (Hyde, Lord Alfred Douglas A Biography, p. 87-88)

“But very soon after this they returned to deliver their verdict: Oscar was found guilty of the seven charges against him in the indictment.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.173)

“The second trial started on 20th May at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Wills and a jury of 12 men. It was dreary repetition of the first trial and dragged on for 6 days. The judge was obviously against Oscar from the very start and he summed up dead against him. The jury bought in a verdict of guilty, and the learned judged addressed Oscar Wilde with such venom as has seldom been heard in a British Court of Law:

‘. . . It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame . . . I shall be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of this Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for two years.’” (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 109)

Bibliography

(Brady, “Masculinity and the Construction of Male Homosexuality in Modern Britain Before the First World War”, p. 115-120 in Masculinity and the Other: Historical Perspectives editors Heather Ellis and Jessica Meyer)

Ellis, Heather & Jessica Meyer Editors. Masculinity and the Other: Historical Perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2009.

Harris, Frank. Oscar Wilde. Michigan State University Press. 1959.

Hichens, Mark. Oscar Wilde’s Last Chance – The Dreyfus Connection. The Pentland Press. Edinburgh, Cambridge, Durham, USA, 1999.

Holland Vyvyan. Oscar Wilde and His World. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York, 1960.

Hyde, H Montgomery. The Trials of Oscar Wilde. Dover Publications, INC. New York, 1962.

Hyde, H Montgomery. The Other Love An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. Heineman. London, 1970.

Hyde, H Montgomery. Oscar Wilde A Biography. Farrar, Staus and Giroux. New York, 1975.

Hyde, H Montgomery. The Cleveland Street Scandal. W. H. Allen. London, 1976.

Hyde, H Montgomery. Lord Alfred Douglas A Biography. Methuen. London, 1984.

Hyde, H Montgomery. A Tangled Web Sex Scandals in British Politics and Society. Constable. London, 1986.

Jullian, Philippe. Translated by Violet Wyndham. Oscar Wilde. The Viking Press. New York, 1969.

Kaplan, Morris B. Sodom on the Thames Sex, Love, and Scandal in Wilde Times. Cornell University Press. Ithaca and London, 2005.

Kronenberger, Louis. Oscar Wilde. Little, Brown and Company. London and Toronto, 1976.

Morley, Sheridan. Oscar Wilde. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York, 1976.

Robins, Ashley H. Oscar Wilde The Great Drama of His Life How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality. Sussex Academic Press. Brighton, Portland and Toronto, 2011.

Winwar, Frances. Oscar Wilde and the Yellow’ Nineties. Harper and Brothers Publishers. New York and London, 1940.


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