by Arthur Posonby Moore-Anderson, 1947.
Full text below.
LONDON. THE HOME OFFICE AND SECRET SERVICE
Sir Robert Anderson, son of the late Crown Solicitor for Dublin, is one of those men to whom the country, without knowing it, owes a great deal. Silently and efficiently he and his family have worked for years in high Government positions. And they have worked with a sweet reasonableness and an absence of hide-bound, red-tape-tied officialism which is as delightful as it is exceptional. His brother, Sir Samuel Lee Anderson, was a singular instance of the level head and the sympathising mind. It is a rare combination and an exceedingly fine one. Hard heads, soft hearts. R. BLATHWAYT in Great Thoughts.
ROBERT ANDERSON may almost be said to have drifted into Secret Service work. He belonged to the fortunate class of barristers who become self-supporting from the start. In 1865 a number of persons were charged at State trials in Dublin with treason-felony. My grandfather, the Crown Solicitor, had deputed his duties to his eldest son, afterwards Sir Samuel Lee Anderson. Between the brothers there was unrestricted confidence ; so it came about that the Crown briefs were placed at my father's disposal, and all the confidential reports and secret information which led to the arrest of the leaders of the conspiracy.
There was then at Dublin Castle no Secret Service organisation or Intelligence Department, and all kinds of secret documents lay in an undigested mass in an office cupboard. The new Chief Secretary, Lord Naas, later Earl of Mayo, entrusted my father with the duty of preparing a precis of these and other official papers relating to Fenianism. The task completed, he wrote a history of the Fenian conspiracy up to date which proved of value to the government. This again led to his services being requisitioned by the Attorney-General when a Fenian outbreak occurred in 1867.
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was popularly known as the Fenian Society, or simply the Fenians. It was a political association of Irish or Irish-Americans for the overthrow of British authority in Ireland and the establishment of a republic. Centres were formed in the United States with the object of raising funds, especially for the purchase of arms and munitions of war. " Fenian Bonds " were issued for the purpose. I have one of these, beautifully engraved, which reads "The Irish Republic is indebted unto the bearer in the sum of ten dollars, redeemable six months after the acknowledgment of the Independence of the Irish Nation with interest from the date hereof at six per cent. per annum. The " date hereof " is 3oth March 1866, and it is signed by John O'Mahony, Agent for the Irish Republic.
Two abortive raids into Canada were staged in 1866 and 1871. Later developments (about 1883-85) were the formation of a " Skirmishing Fund," raised to promote the free use of dynamite for the destruction of English public buildings and English commerce ; and the rise of an extreme party called the Clan-na-Gael. Members known as the " Invincibles " were to make history by the removal of " tyrants."
But to return to my father's experiences in 1867. In order to secure the necessary evidence he obtained a permit to see all the prisoners without any restrictions. Going one morning to Kilmainham gaol, he took the Governor into his confidence. After visiting a number of the men he left the prison as openly as he had entered it. But, returning by way of the Governor's house during the officials' dinner hour, he was smuggled unobserved into the cell of the man he indicated. Determined that not even the police should get an inkling of his mission, he enjoined the Governor not to release him until after locking-up time, refusing to listen to the warning that he little realised the ordeal before him.
Long afterwards, when engaged in his campaign for prison reform, he described this experience. When his object had been attained he found that three hours remained before his release was due. The only thing distinguishing that cell from any, other barely furnished closet-room was that the aperture which passed for a window was, as in every prison cell, placed high up near the ceiling, obscured glass preventing the sight of even a few square yards of sky.
Although his mission had been successful beyond expectation, the prisoner having told all he knew of the Fenian leaders in America in addition to giving all the evidence required for the coming trials, my father said he felt a depression which would in time have become almost unbearable. And so, in after years, he made use of this never-forgotten ordeal in his plea for more -humane methods in the treatment of prisoners. There lies before me as I write a permit given by the Home Office in 1867. It reads
To THE GOVERNORS, respective Prisons. Allow Mr. Robert Anderson to have an interview in private, and without the presence
of any officer of the Prison or other person, with any prisoner whom he may desire to see.
(Signed) JAMES FERGUSON, Bart., Under-Secretary of State.
To continue the story of those early years I quote the words of an obituary notice in The Times fifty years later " It was in this almost accidental way that he was enlisted in the public service. His special knowledge of the ways of Irish political conpiracy became known in high official circles not only in Dublin but in London. After the famous Clerkenwell explosion in 1867-a warning of which he was able to transmit beforehand to the London police, although they failed to make use of the information-one of the results of what he himself termed the unreasoning panic that followed was the organisation of a Secret Service department of the police, and he was invited to take charge of it. But it only remained in existence for three months, and he was about to return to the Irish Bar when he was requested to take charge of Irish business at the Home Office. In this capacity he had a good deal to do with the surveillance of the Fenian conspirators-Irish and American-Irish -whose plots gave some anxiety to the Government in the years 1869 and 1870."
My father had what he called an intelligent aversion to the Civil Service. And he did not entertain a high opinion of the Home Office of those days. When he first took up work there in 1877 it was impressed on him that the way to get on was to do as little as possible and do it as quietly as possible. The ordinary work was light, and it was left to an industrious minority. The hours were from II a.m. to 5 p.m., a nominal II a.m. and a punctual 5 p.m. ; much of that time was given to luncheon, gossip and the newspapers ; and there was plenty left for games and ragging. However, about that time, with the advent of a new Under-Secretary, a new era of efficiency set in.
Looking upon his work in the Civil Service as temporary, he had no intention of abandoning his profession and was duly called to the English Bar, but never engaged in court practice in England. In the meantime, Sir Richard Mayne, Commissioner of the London police, had given him access to the detective department and, soon gaining the confidence and goodwill of the officers, he got to know all that was worth knowing about their work.
And the London life had great attractions for him, especially the House of Commons, where his friendship with Captain Gosset, then Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, gave him access to " Gosset's Room," which was in reality a sort of social club, invitations to which were extended (with the exception of two or three relatives) Only to M.P.s. In this way my father was brought into touch with all the by-play of the House, and met the elite of its members.
An instance of the sang-froid which stood him in good stead when dealing with informers and people of that kidney in the course of secret service and police duties is given in one of his stories of those days:
" On the last evening of the historic debate on the Irish Church an old friend of my father's whom I met at dinner spoke of his fruitless efforts to get an order for the Peers' Gallery, and declared that he would give £100 for a seat. When we rose from dinner I asked him to come with me to Westminster. I passed with him through the lobbies and up to the gallery door. There, with the lordliest manner I could assume, I told the doorkeeper that I would be extremely obliged if he could find a seat for my friend. Whom he took me for I never knew, but he responded effusively, and begged me to bring him in. Later on I noticed that the official and a colleague were evidently discussing me, trying no doubt to make out who I was. So I thought it better to ` skip ' as the Yankees say ; but my friend kept his seat till the House rose. In passing out I thanked the doorkeeper for his courtesy and expressed regret that I could not stay longer myself. I should add that I never got the £100 ! "
The way in which my father became acquainted with Charles Reade, author of The Cloister and the Hearth, is worth telling again. In order to avoid an unwished-for visit from some relatives, the novelist told his housekeeper, Mrs. Seymour, to put the rooms on a house-agent's books, and to write the relatives that they must not come ; he himself then went off to Oxford, where he had a Fellowship at Magdalen. Within a few hours my father had taken the rooms in Reade's beautiful house at Albert Gate overlooking Hyde Park, without having any idea to whom they belonged. Finding him there on his return set Reade fuming more than the proposed visit of his relatives had done ; he wouldn't have lodgers in his house, he declared. But Mrs. Seymour knew how to manage him, and the lodger was left in possession, although for a time ignored by the " landlord." The way in which they made friends must be told in my father's own words
" Although I couldn't write Never too Late to Mend, I could make buttered eggs, and as Reade watched the operation in my room one night, his looks and words suggested that he thought the cooking more wonderful than the writing. We had met at the hall door on his return home very hungry from a theatrical supper at which, he explained, there was a division of labour, he doing the talking and the others the eating. In his handkerchief he had some baked potatoes purchased at a stall which stood in the street opposite his house ; and his apology for not offering to share them with me was that in his room he had neither knife, fork nor plate. So I begged him to come upstairs with me, and I disclosed the contents of my cupboard, which included all needed for an impromptu supper, not excepting a loaf and butter, eggs, a saucepan and an etna. As already intimated, the process of making buttered eggs excited his admiration, and from that hour I believe he regarded his lodger as a personage."
My father received many kindnesses from Reade, who even used to lend him his own pet room, built in the garden, when friends came to dinner, sometimes joining the party himself. In that same room, looking out on " the trees of the nation," is laid one of the chief scenes in A Terrible Temptation.
Charles Reade's house was, as far as I know, the first and last one that the future C.I.D. Chief broke into.
" I never realised," he wrote, " what an amount of determination and nerve it takes to break into a dwelling-house at night until I discovered my own deficiencies in these respects. Arriving home late one night I found I had forgotten my latch-key, and being unable to rouse the inmates I decided to enter burglariously. My experience of criminal courts had given me a theoretical knowledge of the business, and it was with a light heart that I dropped into the area and attacked the kitchen window. Of course I had no fear of the police. Neither had I any cause to dread a pistol shot on entering the house. Yet such was the effect on my nerves of spending twenty minutes in that area that the sound of a constable's tread in the garden made me retreat into the coal-cellar. I felt then that my case was desperate. As there were no steps to the area, escape was impracticable, and a new bolt on the window baffled me. So I was driven to break the glass. The passersby were attracted by the noise ; but they had no bull's-eye lantern to flash into the area, and as I had again taken refuge in the coal-cellar they could see nothing. As soon as they had gone it was an easy task to scramble in. . . . The police were sent for next morning. The broken glass and the marks inside and outside gave proof of a felonious entry ; but nothing had been stolen, nothing even disturbed. The case was most mysterious, and passed into the statistics as an undetected burglary. Charles Reade's delight was great when I told him the facts."
The moral of the story was that burglaries are usually committed by men who are burglars in the sense that other men are doctors, lawyers, architects, etc., the only difference being that in the burglar's trade success gives proof of greater proficiency than seems necessary in some other lines !
During the early years in London, in addition to his ordinary work, he was secretary to several government Commissions ; in this way, as related elsewhere in these pages, he gained the friendship of Lord Aberdeen, the 7th Earl, who became Viceroy of Ireland, 1886 and 1906-I5, and Governor-General of Canada, 1893-98. It was in connection with a Royal Commission on Railway Accidents that the first of three attacks was made upon him in Parliament, in replying to which Mr. W. H. Smith stated that he had discharged his duties with great ability and perfect faithfulness. When serving on the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh Commission he made the acquaintance of Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, whose help proved valuable when The Coming Prince was being written, one of his books referred to in Chapter X.
He also acted as secretary to the Royal Commission on Loss of Life at Sea. Lord Aberdeen, who was again the chairman, tells in his reminiscences (We Twa) that this Commission was appointed as the result of a vehement controversy arising from certain statements by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain regarding the excessive mortality amongst the crews of merchant ships, attributed largely to the overloading of vessels. Shipping interests as a whole strenuously challenged this inference. The controversial element was quickly manifested when the Commission met, and it was frequently the chairman's duty to throw oil on the troubled waters. On such occasions he often found it advisable to discover that it was just time to adjourn for luncheon, which usually had a soothing effect. This, however, would certainly not have been the case had not a private arrangement been entered into with the caterers whereby the Treasury allowance of 1s. 6d. per head was augmented. " Of course," wrote Lord Aberdeen, " this was kept a profound secret, known only to myself and our secretary - the late Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B., a very able and high-minded public servant." In this connection my father mentions that the Duke of Edinburgh did not approve of hurrying over the cigar stage of the luncheon recess, and when his colleagues rose, usually kept the secretary with him. On H.R.H.'s leaving to take up a command in the Mediterranean he desired my father to write to him regularly about the work of the Commission, and afterwards, after the well-known manner of our Royal Family, gave many proofs that he had not forgotten him.
Lord Aberdeen, by the way, seems to have shared my father's poor opinion of Treasury ways. He gave his support in a tussle over salary and pension rights, and wrote " If the object can be secured without making the Treasury feel they have been defeated it will be much better ; otherwise they will try to punish us all through the enquiry."
Another letter from him throws light on the almost incredible pettiness of some officials. " My dear Anderson," it reads, " I do now remember that I carried out (by stealth for fear of hurting the feelings of the Department) a private arrangement about a clock ! " In the same letter Lord Aberdeen said : " I am very sorry you have to cross again to that tiresome old island of yours in this weather." The following year however he became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and he then wrote from Dublin : " I think the Irish are still amenable to marks of sympathy." He was, of course, a strong supporter of Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule policy.
It was as secretary to the Prison Commission, which, unlike the others, was a branch of the permanent Civil Service, that my father gained experience which was to prove of great value in after years in his campaign for reforms in the treatment of criminals and in the nature of prisons.
Eighteen-eighty was an epoch-making year in Ireland, for it was then that " boycotting " was introduced-a crime which, according to an Irish judge, made the life of the victim a living death. At the same time a revival of Fenian activity in Ireland excited the conspirators in England to follow suit. It was in these circumstances that Sir William Harcourt, the Home Secretary, re-enlisted my father in Secret Service. "Such work was never to my taste," he wrote afterwards, " and I had definitely turned away from it. I was still in touch with le Caron and some prominent Fenians in America, but not with the leaders of the organisation at home. To ascertain who were the London leaders was an easy task, but how to get hold of them was the problem. They solved it by forming a plot to discover who their enemy was at Whitehall. A letter came from a man whom I knew by repute as one of the most dangerous of the London Fenians. He wished to give information to the government-that was the bait-but he would deal only with' the gentleman at the head of the Intelligence Department ' ; he would hold no communication with the police."
The sequel gives an idea of what Secret Service sometimes entails:
" I met the fellow by appointment one night. He lied to me for an hour whilst I listened as though I believed all he was telling me. This as I expected led him to ask for money. I then pretended to lose my temper. I said I had come prepared to pay him handsomely for information, but I was not to be fooled by the yarns he had been telling me. Taking a handful of sovereigns from my pocket I jingled them before him. The greedy look on his face told its own tale. He pleaded that if I would give him time he would tell me all I wished to know, and meekly asked for his expenses. I saw that the bait had taken, so I gave him a couple of pounds. . . . Within a few weeks I had two of the most influential London Fenians in my pay. . . . I will only add that the hold thus obtained upon the organisation pre vented the commission of outrages at a critical time, and further that the information received from these men was never used to bring a criminal charge against any member of the conspiracy."
In such work, however, kudos is not gained by preventing crimes, but by detecting them and successfully prosecuting the offenders. My father had again decided to turn from this branch of service, partly because he had received offers of more congenial work, when what he called a hateful and fateful murder drew him back into the toils. On 6th May 1882 Lord Frederick Cavendish, who had just been appointed Chief Secretary, and Mr. Burke, the Under-Secretary, were done to death within sight of the Viceregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Although creating such a sensation it was only the last of a series-one more added to the terrible list of Land League murders. And as my father pointed out it was in one respect of less significance than many of those which had preceded it. For the assassination of government officials could give no such indication of the state of Ireland as the murder of a lady returning home from church or of humble peasants whose only offence was obedience to the law. In many districts terror reigned in every cottage-home refusing allegiance to what was fitly called the de facto government.
The Phoenix Park murder, however, galvanised the British Government into action ; a new Coercion Act was passed, and special measures adopted to administer it, an Under-Secretaryship for Police and Crime being established in Dublin ; and under pressure from Sir William Harcourt my father agreed to represent this department in London.
At that time his work at Whitehall was many-sided. Whilst still Secretary to the Prison Commission, he was retained by the Irish government to look after their interests in London, and was also responsible to the Secretary of State in relation to political crime in general. When the dynamite campaign began he was in daily touch with Dublin Castle, and kept up a private correspondence with the British Consuls in America as well as with le Caron and other informants there. And never a week passed without his having to meet informants in London at his own home or sometimes in out-of-the-way places, for they never went to Whitehall.
But to return to the Dublin murders-my uncle, Sir Samuel Lee Anderson, was another of the officials marked down to be " put out of the way," his life being saved by what is commonly called a chance. His regular daily route to the Castle was known to anyone who cared to watch him. But once when within a stone's throw of where the murder gang were waiting for him, suddenly remembering some commissions he had promised to execute for his wife, he turned back and went round another way.
Having to keep a secret for twenty-one years for the sake of another's safety can hardly be a usual experience. In Major le Caron's life story (Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service) he pays this tribute to my father:
"He never wavered or grew lax in his care. He proved indeed to me not the ordinary official superior, but a kind, trusty friend and adviser, ever watchful in my interests, ever sympathising with my dangers and difficulties. To him and to him alone was I known as a Secret Service agent during the whole of the 21 years of which I speak. Therein lay the secret of my safety. If others less worthy of the trust had been charged with the knowledge of my identity, then I fear I should not be here on English soil quietly penning these lines."
Can the spy stories of fiction produce anything equal to the true narrative of this man's adventurous career ? His real name was Thomas Beach, son of a respected citizen of Colchester. A thirst for excitement led him to leave home again and again in early life ; and while still a boy he found himself in Paris without money or friends or knowledge of the language. Having been a choir-boy at home his singing gained the friendship of a member of the English church he attended in the French capital, and this led to his obtaining a good berth. But when the American Civil War broke out in 1861 he was on the move again ; crossing the Atlantic he enlisted in the Northern army, with the name of Henri le Caron. In due course he obtained a commission and rose to the rank of major. During his service he made the acquaintance of John O'Neill, who later became head of the American Fenians. It was from him that le Caron first heard of the Fenian schemes, including those for raids into Canada ; and this led to his becoming a spy in their ranks. The accusation that he undertook this hazardous task for the sake of financial gain is utterly false. He had become a qualified medical man, was happily married, and could have settled down to a quiet, comfortable life.
Le Caron joined the Fenian movement with the definite object of serving his country, and it was in letters to his father that he first reported all their doings and plans. These were shown to the local Member of Parliament, who passed on the information to the Home Office, no payment being given or asked for. But at a later date, the M.P., Mr. Rebow, urged that le Caron should be put into direct touch with a representative of the government, and my father was then asked to deal with him. Thus began a correspondence lasting for over twenty years until le Caron came into the open at the time of the Parnell Commission in 1889.
Morley's Life of Gladstone states that for more than twenty years le Caron was in the pay of Scotland Yard. " Scotland Yard," replied my father, " was not aware of the man's existence until he appeared as a witness at the Parnell Commission." As a matter of fact the correspondence was carried on through his wife in America and a relative of my father's in England, and was always treated as private. On his visits to London, le' Caron used to see my father at our own house ; I have a clear recollection of seeing him there and wondering who he was.
At the Special Commission he was denounced by Sir Charles Russell (afterwards Lord Russell of Killowen) as a " common informer who wormed himself into the confidence of men presumably honest, however mistaken their views, only to make money and betray them. " Actually," wrote my father, " the assassins and dynamiters whose plots were exposed by him were justly described by Sir Henry James, for The Times, as ` enemies of the human race, the lowest and most degraded of beings.' " Sir Henry went on to point out that the exertions of a man who apprehends a criminal after the crime are rightly praised, " but here you have a man who, running risks such as probably no one ever ran before, set himself to defeat crime before it was carried out, and thus to save the lives of those who had no other protection." Further, it was stated by my father that in no single instance was a criminal charge brought upon le Caron's testinx6ny. As regards financial gain, he was as indifferent to money as to danger ; anything he received was not enough to compensate him for having to employ a qualified locum tenens during his absence. The only really important payment he ever received was his reward for thwarting the I870 Fenian raid on Canada. From the first he considered his role to be that of a military spy in his country's service.
As illustrating the need for keeping their names secret, my father tells that his first Fenian informant was shot as the result of his name having been given to Lord Mayo, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, who passed it on to the Lord-Lieutenant during dinner at the Viceregal Lodge. A servant behind a screen repeated the information in the servants' hall. My father learned this from a detective officer at Dublin Castle, and states that from that time no informant of his was ever betrayed. His refusal to give their names and his insistence on treating their letters as private was objected to at one time by Sir William Harcourt, who remarked that " Anderson's idea of secrecy is not to tell the Secretary of State ! "
Another incident shows how easily secret information can become known. On the occasion of Mr. Gladstone's visit to Haddo House mentioned in another chapter, my father tells how the Premier, sitting beside him at a writing table, was busy with a file of Foreign Office papers when another guest brought a passage in the Odyssey to his notice. Mr. Gladstone discussed this as though the Foreign Office did not exist, but directly afterwards took up his pen and wrote a Minute of grave importance about Egypt. It was the time when excitement over the Sudan and General Gordon's position in Khartoum was at its height. " How do I know the purport of the Minute ? " said my father ; " it was perfectly legible on the blotting pad he had used ! Is it any wonder I refused to trust the lives of informants to ministers of state ? "
As another example of Mr. Gladstone's versatility Sir Robert mentions a long letter (a closely written four-page one which I have in my autograph album) about a book of his, written on the day which, according to Lord Morley's Life of Gladstone, was devoted to the reconsideration of the whole Irish question in view of Mr. Parnell's visit to Hawarden.
And Lady Aberdeen tells, in We Twa, how, on returning from church one morning, he asked for a hymn-book, which he took to his room, and in the afternoon produced a translation into Italian of the hymn, " Hark, my soul, it is the Lord." This was on a Sunday when he was in much anxiety over affairs in Egypt, with messengers from Downing Street coming and going, and he was conferring about a statement to be made next day in Parliament.
But to return to le Caron. My father paid this tribute to him ;
"During the four-and-thirty years of my official life I came to entertain a sincere regard for not a few of the Police Officers who assisted me in campaigns against criminals, but none of them did I esteem more highly than le Caron. And it is with them that I have always classed him, not with secret agents and informers. No bad man could win as he did the unbounded respect of wife and children. . . . And to personal charm he added sterling integrity. He was one of the most truthfully accurate men I have known . . . Though he deserves well of his country he will never get a statue. But if he is to be pilloried I will take my place by his side."
After le Caron's appearance at the Commission his life was in constant danger. There were many rumours as to. his whereabouts in various parts of the world. Actually he lived under an assumed name not far from Hyde Park. I remember more than once, when walking there with my father, his saying that he had to go and see a 'sick friend, never giving the slightest hint of his identity even to us. Afterwards he wrote:
" Though I had been in communication with him for so long, and seen him on his visits to England, I never really knew him until the illness which ended fatally on April 1st, 1894. With all his cynicism and coldness of manner he was a remarkably attractive man. . . . At first we used to talk over his adventures, but later on we often spoke on subjects of which I will make no mention here." What these subjects were may be gathered from the following letter " I -fully appreciate and will always endeavour to keep in my mind the pith, the main principle of what you have impressed upon me in reference to God's goodness and my duty to Him ; and if I live to get well again my earnest desire is that I may ever keep uppermost in my mind what I owe to Him and what He is willing to do for me.
Believe me to be, Yours sincerely,
H. LE CARON."
I have the original letter in my possession ; also his commission as Major and Military Organiser in the service of the Irish Republic, dated 5th August 1868. This is signed by John O'Neil, President, Fenian Brotherhood, Patrick J. Meehan, Acting Secretary of War, and John Byron, Assistant Adjutant-General F. B.
It was on account of his relationship with le Caron that my father was the subject of two violent attacks in Parliament. At this length of time the story would not be of sufficient interest to relate in detail. On the first occasion he was accused of handing over, in his capacity as head of the C.I.D., confidential documents to an informer. As already mentioned, le Caron's letters had always been deemed private, and he claimed accordingly that he should have access to them in preparing the evidence he was to give at the Parnell Commission. The letters had never been on record in any government office ; they had indeed been kept in our own home. My father was vigorously defended by the Home Secretary, Mr. Henry Matthews, afterwards Viscount Llandaff ; and his chief assailant, Sir William Harcourt, gave kindly proof afterwards that he bore no ill-will in spite of his violent political invective. In 1905 his son, later Viscount Harcourt, wrote to my father " I am most grateful to you for your kind words about him, which show a real appreciation of his character in spite of his hard-hitting propensities which showed themselves on the surface."
The second attack was made in 1910 in consequence of Sir Robert having mentioned in Blackwood that he was author of certain articles on the American Fenians published anonymously in The Times as far back as 1887. They were entitled " Behind the Scenes in America." In this case he was accused of having acted in a way contrary to the rules and traditions of the Civil Service. The fact that one of the articles exposed a plot to bring about a dynamite explosion in Westminster Abbey at the time of Queen Victoria's jubilee might, one would think, have excused any breach of official propriety had such been indeed committed. But naturally the wild Irishmen in the House were out for his scalp and demanded the withdrawal of his pension. Unfortunately, on this occasion the responsible Minister, instead of defending him, contented himself with appeasing his opponents by making light of the whole matter and minimising the services he had rendered to the State.
Of the many letters of sympathy and encouragement received at that time, only one will be quoted here. The writer was a Scottish lawyer, Mr. R. B. Stewart, a valued friend, who was wellknown in connection with the Keswick Convention and many other branches of Christian activity.
" To speak of a faithful and able servant of his country, who unsparingly gave himself to her service in work most trying and involving danger to his own life, during a perturbed time which it is difficult for any one who did not live through it to understand or even to credit, in the way in which you have been spoken of, is a lasting disgrace to British statesmanship. And it was in order that those might be kept sweet who are the representatives of the spirit and work condemned by the Parnell Commission !"
"What man can be zealous in his work if he feels that one day for party purposes he may be sacrificed to an opposing faction whom, in the line of his duty, he has offended, and that the sacrifice may be made for the sake of getting votes ? !"
"Politics are corrupt. Let us hope that the officials of the country may notwithstanding remain true, little as is the encouragement they sometimes get."
The next chapter goes back to the year 1888, when the period of service at Scotland Yard began. Incidentally it was the date of the appointment of the Parnell Commission to which reference has been made. The Times had published a series of articles entitled " Parnellism and Crime " which were a tremendous indictment of the chief Nationalist leaders. A Special Commission was appointed to inquire into the whole matter, the trial lasting for 128 days. Mr. Parnell was formally cleared of the charge of having been personally guilty of organising outrages ; but his Party was declared to have been guilty of incitement to intimidation, out of which had grown crimes that it had failed to denounce.
The period 1890 to 1900 proved to be one during which there was an almost continuous decrease in crime. . . . By signal successes in sensational cases, and by steady achievement in the less advertised everyday business of dealing with rogues in general, the C.I.D. built up in the 'nineties a world-wide reputation for efficiency in
Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police, by Sir JOHN MOYLAN.
SIR HARRY FURNISS, the famous artist, devotes a chapter of his book Some Victorian Men to the London Police, in which he says : " One of the hardest-working and most brilliant heads of the Criminal Investigation Department for many years was that eminent Victorian, Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B."
The " Jack the Ripper " scare, resulting from the Whitechapel murders of the year 1888, synchronised with my father's appointment as Assistant Commissioner of Metropolitan Police and Chief of the C.I.D. For reasons of health he was ordered two months' complete rest before entering upon his duties, and after a week at the Yard he left for the Continent. The second of the murders was committed the night before he took office and the third occurred during the night of the day on which he left London. The newspapers soon began to comment on his absence, and when two more victims had fallen to the knife of the murderer-fiend, an urgent appeal from the Home Secretary brought the new Chief back to duty. " We hold you responsible to find the murderer were the words which greeted him.
Thus he entered upon an office which was far from being a bed of roses.. Apart from the state of alarm produced by the murders, there had been a good deal to make conditions in the Police Force difficult at that period. Two years previously the Chief Commissioner, Sir Edmund Henderson, had resigned when called to account over a West End riot. There were constant bickerings between his successor, Sir Charles Warren, and Mr. James Monro, then in charge of the detective department. Further, the rank and file objected to the military discipline introduced by Sir Charles, who was a distinguished soldier. His popularity was established however by his defence of the Force against what were considered unjust strictures by the Home Office on the occasion' of further riots.
Anderson had been warned that he would " never get on with Warren." But he found the Commissioner frank and open ; he was treated as a colleague and left quite unfettered in the control of his department. It was therefore a matter of regret to him when Sir Charles became so annoyed by the ways of the Home Office that he in turn threw up his appointment. To my father's great satisfaction, however, the new Chief Commissioner was Mr. Monro, the former Head of the C.I.D., a personal friend. All seemed set fair for a time of happy and fruitful co-operation between them ; but once again friction between the Home Office and the Commissioner led to the latter's resignation.
His successor was Colonel Sir Edward Bradford of the Indian Army. Shortly after his appointment he wrote:
MY DEAR ANDERSON It was a pleasure to have your kind
letter. . . . I had a most delightful morning with your people in the C.I.D., and look forward to many more of a similar nature after your
return. Nothing I like so much as men who are enthusiastic in regard to their work ; and I am delighted to find you are so about C.I.D.
" Yours very sincerely,
" E. R. C. BRADFORD."
Going back to the time when my father entered upon his new duties, he found that the officers of the C.I.D. had become demoralised by the treatment accorded to Mr. Monro-a strong esprit de corps always existing in the department. They believed too that they were regarded with jealousy in the Force. The feeling of discouragement had affected their work, the Commissioner's report for 1888 recording that crime had shown a decided tendency to increase. So strong was the feeling about Mr. Monro that the new Chief had some difficulty in persuading ChiefSuperintendent Williamson not to resign. My father only learned afterwards that he himself had been protected by Sir Charles Warren when the Home Office wanted to call him to account because there was not an immediate change for the better.
Warren had not only to suffer the nagging ways of the Home Office, but to face considerable public criticism on account of failure to find " Jack the Ripper." A cartoon of the period in the Pall Mall Budget shows an East End deputation in the Commissioner's office. Upon walls and desk and lying on then- floor are regulations and instructions about drill. A police officer stands stiffly at attention. The deputation protests : " Another murder, Sir Charles, the fourth in . . ." The Commissioner in uniform with sword and medals replies : " Why bother me over such a trifle ? Still, if something must be done, what do you say, Inspector, to another hour's battalion drill ? " The Home Secretary, Mr. Matthews, was also attacked in the Press. Innumerable letters with theories and suggestions were sent to the police and the papers. One theory propounded was that the murderer was a Malay serving in a ship, who committed the crimes during brief shore leave.
The facts were that the locality in which the crimes occurred was full of narrow streets with small shops over almost every one of which was a foreign name. The victims belonged to a small class of degraded women frequenting the East End at night. However the fact be accounted for, no further murder in the series took place after a warning had been given that the police would not protect them if found on the prowl after midnight. The criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent kind living in the immediate vicinity. The police reached the conclusion that he and his people were aliens of a certain low type, that the latter knew of the crimes but would not give him up. Two clues which might have led to an arrest were destroyed before the C.I.D. had a chance of seeing them, one a clay pipe, the other some writing with chalk on a wall. Scotland Yard, however, had no doubt that the criminal was eventually found. The only person who ever had a good view of the murderer identified the suspect without hesitation the instant he was confronted with him ; but he refused to give evidence. Sir Robert states as a fact that the man was an alien from Eastern Europe, and believed that he died in an asylum.
Probably few people know how the name Scotland Yard originated. From the time of the Norman Conquest there had been a place in Whitehall known as " Scotland," where Scottish kings and queens stayed when on visits to the English court. In Stuart days the Palace of Whitehall included a court or yard named Scotland Yard because it was part of the original " Scotland " or adjacent to it. The detective department of the police used to have its office there, and when the new headquarters on the Thames Embankment were built they were given the name of New Scotland Yard.
The Metropolitan Police district extended over a radius of fifteen miles from Charing Cross, covering an area of 700 square miles, with a population in I900 of over seven and a half millions. The problem which daily faced the C.I.D. was to find criminals hidden in such a crowd. Like a spider in the midst of a monster web, the Chief was in touch with inspectors attached to each of the twenty-one divisions into which Greater London was subdivided.
" When I took charge," wrote my father, " I was no novice in matters relating to criminals and crime. I was not a little surprised therefore to find occasion for suspecting that one of my principal subordinates was trying to impose on me as though I were an ignoramus. For when any important crime of a certain kind occurred, and I set myself to investigate it in Sherlock Holmes fashion, he used to listen to me in the way so many people listen to sermons in church ; and when I was done he would stolidly announce that the crime was the work of A, B, C, or D, naming one of his stock heroes. It was Old Carr, or Wirth, or Sausage, or Shrimps, or Quiet Joe, or Red Bob, etc., etc., one name or another being put forward according to the nature of the crime."
However, on putting the subordinate's statements to the test, it appeared that he was generally right, for " great crimes are the work of great criminals, and great criminals are very few," that is, skilled and resourceful criminals capable of certain types of crime. The problem, then, is not to find the offender in a population of many millions, but to pick him out from a few definitely known " specialists."
In his reminiscences my father mentions a few cases in illustration. One was a " ladder larceny " at a country house in Cheshire. The Chief Constable of the county called next day to invoke the aid of the C.I.D. He gave a vague description of two strangers who had been seen near the house the day before the burglary. He was shown three photographs, and at once identified two of them as the men in question. One was " Quiet Joe," and the other his special pal. Arrest and conviction followed.
A man named Benson was the son of an English clergyman. He was a man of real ability, of rare charm of manner and an accomplished linguist. Upon the occasion of one of Madame Patti's visits to America, he ingratiated himself with the customs officers at New York, and thus got on board the liner before the arrival of the reception committee. He was a stranger to the great singer, but she was charmed by his bearing and appearance and the perfection of his Italian, and had no reason to doubt that he had been commissioned for the part he was playing. And when the members of the Committee arrived they assumed that he was a friend of hers, with the result that she took his arm when disembarking. All this was done with a view to the carrying out of a huge fraud, the detection of which brought him to ruin. The man was capable of filling any position ; but the life of adventure and ease provided by a criminal career had a fascination for him.
Another great criminal was Raymond, who like Benson had a respectable parentage. His schemes were Napoleonic. His most famous coup was a great diamond robbery. His cupidity was excited by the accounts of the Kimberley mines, and he sailed for South Africa to investigate. He found that the arrival of the diamonds at the coast was timed to catch the mail steamer for England, but if accidentally delayed on the way they had to lie in the post office till the next mail left. He had no difficulty in obtaining wax impressions of the postmaster's keys ; in fact, the postmaster was one of a group of admiring friends whom he entertained at dinner the evening before he sailed.
Some months later he returned to South Africa under an assumed name and cleverly disguised. The diamond convoys had to cross a river ferry on their way to the coast. Making his way up-country to the place, he unshipped the chain of the ferry and let the boat drift down stream, and- the next convoy missed the mail. £9o,ooo worth of diamonds had to be deposited in the post office strong-room. They reached England in Raymond's possession, and he afterwards boasted that he sold them to their rightful owners in Hatton Garden !
Raymond loved his " work " for its own sake ; and though he lived in luxury and style, he kept at it to the last, organising and financing many an important crime. It was he who stole the famous Gainsborough picture for which the record price of £10,ooo had recently been paid. A doctor friend told my father of having an extraordinary patient. The man was wealthy and lived sumptuously, but was extremely hypochondriacal. Every now and then an urgent summons would bring the doctor to the house to find the patient in bed with nothing whatever the matter. He always insisted on having a prescription however, which was promptly sent to the chemist. The last summons had been exceptionally urgent ; and when the doctor entered the room with unusual abruptness, the patient sprang up in bed and covered him with a revolver ! Raymond (for it was he) knew that his movements were of interest to the police ; and if he had reason to fear that he had been seen in dangerous company, he bolted home and sent for the doctor, whose evidence, confirmed by the chemist's books, would prove that he was ill in bed until after the hour at which the police supposed they had seen him miles away.
My father put Dr. Max Nordau's " type " theory to a test when the latter called on him at Scotland Yard. Dr. Nordau was shown two photos covered so that only the faces could be seen, and told that the one was an eminent public man, the other a notorious criminal. He was challenged to say which was the criminal " type." He shirked the challenge ; for as a matter of fact the criminal's face looked more benevolent than the other and certainly as " strong." " The one was Raymond alias Wirth -the most eminent of the criminal fraternity of my time-and the other was Archbishop Temple. Need I add that my story is intended to discredit, not his Grace of Canterbury, but the Lombroso 'type' theory ? "
At the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 there was a hellish plan to bring about a dynamite explosion in Westminster Abbey during the ceremony. The Irish Fenians in America had issued a circular announcing the early renewal of active operations, " a pyrotechnic display in honour of the Jubilee " being specially indicated. The scheme was discovered and thwarted by Mr. James Monro, then Chief of the C.I.D., with whom my father was in close touch in connection with his Secret Service work. Ten years later there occurred the last in the series of these plots. A gang of dynamiters crossed from America in August 1896. The leader, a man called Ivory alias Bell, landed at Antwerp and made his way to Glasgow, where he was arrested. His chief confederate, Tynan by name, the " No. I " of the Phoenix Park murders-was arrested by the local police at Boulogne, the others at Rotterdam. Ivory was put on trial, but the Law Officers of the Crown on learning that one of the gang had given information decided to withdraw from the prosecution. Just before this occurred, Ivory's counsel had told my father in strict confidence that he would withdraw his plea of not guilty if he would promise to get him a light sentence. The C.I.D. Chief said he was confident he could obtain an early remission if Ivory would openly express regret for his share in the conspiracy. Ivory was just about to make such a statement when the Solicitor-General interposed to announce the decision at which the Law Officers had arrived.
" Such are our ways with dynamiters," wrote my father " these men were aliens who came in time of peace to perpetrate outrages which if committed by soldiers in war-time would ensure them short shrift after trial by drumhead court-martial. . . . And yet these miscreants were treated with a quixotic leniency that would not be extended to ordinary criminals. For the measures adopted to detect quasi political crime in no way differ from those by which every competent police force deals with organised crime of any kind." In this case the information was given, not by one who could possibly be accused of being an agent provocateur, but by one who had gone as far as he safely could in checking the schemes of his confederates.
When the case was first reported to the Home Secretary he took the view which was finally adopted by the Law Officers, that there should be no prosecution. He decided, however, to put the matter before the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. So my father went with Sir Matthew Ridley, afterwards Viscount Ridley, to Walmer Castle. The Home Secretary after stating his own view said : " Anderson differs from me entirely." When the Premier had heard both sides and asked a number of questions, he gave his decision unreservedly in favour of the latter.
Incidentally, I remember my father coming home and telling us how much he had enjoyed his visit to Walmer, where Lord Salisbury was in residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports ; this included a very simple and informal luncheon at which he found himself seated between his host and hostess. During lunch and afterwards on the terrace many matters were discussed, amongst them the Channel Tunnel scheme and of course Ireland and the Irish. On the return journey Sir Matthew Ridley generously expressed his gratification at the Prime Minister's having been satisfied that the Ivory case might be allowed to proceed, and he afterwards noted his full approval of the police action. But, as already stated, the Law Officers decided to throw their hand in. An additional point however must be mentioned. It appeared from the evidence that Bell had left the Antwerp house before the arrival there of the explosives ; and, although his conduct gave cause for the gravest suspicion, the Solicitor-General felt unable to press for a conviction, the accused's counsel paying a tribute to Sir Robert Finlay's judicial fairness in the matter.
The case received a good deal of publicity, the police being complimented on the almost simultaneous arrest of the suspects in Glasgow, Boulogne and Rotterdam. There was on the other hand the usual attack by Irish members in the House, who asserted that the whole prosecution originated in a fraud concocted by the police and carried out by agents fbrovocateurs, a charge which was indignantly repudiated by the Home Secretary. In the course of a leading article on the case, The Times said:
" It is greatly to be regretted that no official notice was taken of the gross attacks upon Mr. Robert Anderson, the able and energetic Assistant-Commissioner who has the control of the Criminal Investigation Department, and to whose vigilance and activity it is undoubtedly due that so many detestable terrorist conspiracies have been nipped in the bud. . . . There can be no shadow of doubt that a great crime was being prepared in the bomb factory at Antwerp and that its execution was defeated by measures adopted by the C.I.D."
" Oct. I1th, 1896.
In The Lighter Side of My Official Life Sir Robert wrote " When Mr. Joseph Chamberlain visited America in 1896 there was a formidable plot to assassinate him at the home where he was sojourning. Facts which came to light convinced the local police of the truth of the information received, and the American authorities deemed it necessary to take very special measures for his protection." The following letter from Mr. Chamberlain refers to that time
" DEAR MR. ANDERSON,-... I feel that I ought to write at once to thank you for your activity on my behalf while I was in the United States. It is not pleasant to be accompanied everywhere by policemen, but I have undergone the experience before, and have no doubt that in the present case it prevented very disagreeable consequences. I was living in an isolated house in the country to which access was perfectly easy and open, so that any ill-intentioned person would have had no difficulty in reaching me, but for the guards placed there by the U.S. Government.
" There is one paragraph in your letter which I do not understand . You say the gentleman entrusted with the duty of despatching me was ' sent to the West.' But I was all the time in the East, at a small village in Massachussets. I do not know how they found out that I was guarded, for we managed to keep the matter very quiet and there was no notice of it in any of the papers till after I had sailed. .
" Please accept my renewed thanks. I am only sorry to have been the cause of so much trouble.
" I hope you will get Tynan ! Yours very truly,
The South Western Railway murder case in 1897 was of special interest for two reasons. First, it was a striking example of the difference between French and British methods of dealing with such crimes. A young woman was found dead in one of the coaches of a train arriving at the London terminus. It was obviously a case of murder. The French police would have closed the station, and no one would have been allowed to leave until they had finished their investigations. But at Waterloo, not only were all the passengers permitted to go their ways, but the body was removed and the carriage cleaned so that any possible clue was lost before the C.I.D. were informed.
The case was of particular interest also because in spite of this handicap an elaborate chain of circumstantial evidence closed round a certain person. The only apparent flaw in it was that a principal witness wavered in his identification of the suspected man. The ground of hesitation was that this man was clean-shaven, whereas the murderer had worn a moustache. The witness did not know, however, that an hour before the crime was committed the man whom he had singled out of a dozen paraded for inspection had purchased a false moustache at a barber's shop !
That fact seemed to render a case which was already strong both complete and irresistible. But it was inseparably bound up with another fact. The distance between the barber's shop and the station at which the murderer joined his victim on the train was adequate proof of an alibi which shattered the whole case against the accused. That one fact possibly saved him from the gallows.
This story was used by my father in his book Pseudo-Criticism to illustrate the fallacious arguments of some critics of the Bible, who thought that a seemingly complete case against the genuineness of a book was sufficient evidence to decide the issue as one of their " assured results."
Another story which he reckoned an instance of truth being stranger than fiction was that of a great City house which was victimised by a plausible swindler who had a recipe for multiplying gold ! The firm actually advanced the man £2o,ooo in sovereigns ; a house was hired in Whitechapel and a laboratory fitted up. The experiments ended in the complete disappearance of the scientist and of the £2o,ooo. He had insisted on being searched every time he left the laboratory ; so how the feat had been accomplished was a mystery until, in sheer bravado, he told his victims that on every occasion his hollow walking-stick had been packed with sovereigns ! He was confident that the firm would not prosecute for fear of the ridicule which would be incurred ; and he judged rightly.
Much ordinary police work has always been concerned with the prevention of crime rather than with its detection, and is of necessity performed behind the scenes. The duty of protecting royal personages visiting Britain fell to Scotland Yard, and Chief-Inspector Melville was frequently entrusted with this task. In a private letter to my father from Windsor in November 1899, he mentioned that when out shooting the previous day the Prince of Wales [afterwards Edward VII] and the Duke of York had cordially shaken hands with him, and the Prince had said the Queen was very pleased at his being sent down. He continued " I thanked H.R.H. and told him that every precaution was being taken, but in as quiet a manner as possible. Subsequently the Duke had several conversations with me as to the relative merits of the Continental police. I was surprised later on when the Emperor [Kaiser Wilhelm of the 1914-18 war] came away from the Royal party and shook hands with me very heartily ; he said : `You have a wonderful police force in England. Our detective force in Germany is very bad ; there is always a lot of fuss, but nothing done.' His Majesty spoke in this strain for several minutes, and I thanked him for his appreciation of the English police." For some time Mr. Melville was the officer personally responsible for the safety of Queen Victoria.
In his Memoirs of a Royal Detective, ex-Detective-Inspector H. T. Fitch writes : " It is certain that one of the Kaiser's attendants for a long period was an English ex-detective of the name of Bell." He tells also of the last Emperor of Russia saying to him : " I wish you were in my police service, Mr. Fitch. My police are much harsher than yours in England, yet how much do they achieve? Yet you seem to have the measure of these revolutionaries."
The detectives deputed to guard foreign royalties received many personal gifts. Occasionally their Chief was also remembered in this way, twice by the ill-fated Nicholas II of Russia, the first time when he was Czarevitch, the gift being a Russian salt-cellar. The second present was a diamond ring of such dimensions that it might fit a super-size thumb. The diamonds with the Imperial monogram made a fine brooch for my mother. The gold ring, reduced to normal size, with the Russian N. 11 and crown reproduced, I am wearing to-day.
As illustrating the slight measure of precaution considered necessary in the case of our own Royal Family, my father told of an experience which greatly impressed him. It was in 1934 when the Duke and Duchess of York were away on one of their tours and the Duke and Duchess of Teck were abroad. On returning from a holiday my father received a private letter telling him of things being said in anarchist clubs about " Prince Eddy," now the Duke of Windsor, who was then at the White Lodge in Richmond Park. Riding out there next morning he found that the nurse might be seen any day walking unattended in the Park with the baby in her arms. " What a delightful picture of the peace and security of life in this favoured land ! " The lady in charge at the lodge gave cordial consent to certain police measures which seemed desirable, and my father's visits passed as friendly calls. When the Duchess of Teck returned she expressed her gratitude, and a friendly discussion took place as to what might be done when the Duke and Duchess of York came back to St. James's Palace. Appeals were made to my father to withdraw his objection to the child being taken to the Green Park for his daily outing. But the presence in London of foreign anarchists had to be taken into account. " Was there another capital in all Europe," he asks, " in which the suggestion would be entertained of an infant Prince in the direct line of succession to the throne being taken daily by his nurse to a public park ? "
Some readers may be interested in knowing the impression made upon Press interviewers by the C.I.D. Chief. One of them said : " Dr. Robert Anderson is essentially a reticent and retiring man. Pressmen usually despair of getting any interesting information out of him, and he is one of the most difficult men in the public service to interview. He undoubtedly knows more about the criminal classes than any other man in this country." A representative of the Evening News had " A Chat with the Prince of Detectives," mainly about the finger-print system of identification which was about to be adopted. " People who have not seen him," said the interviewer, " probably expect to hear that he possesses the ' keen grey eyes ' with which writers of fiction have always endowed their criminal investigators. Mr. Anderson's are like any other pair of pleasant eyes . . He looks-this quiet gentleman who has had his finger unceasingly on the pulse of crime for so many years, and who has seen through the network of the Irish physical-force party's conspiracies--a simple unobtrusive citizen, and such in private life he undoubtedly is."
An article in Black and White on " The Detectives who Frustrated the Dynamite Plot " (in 1896) said : " In Dr. Anderson's appearance there is more of the man of peace than of the terror of conspirators. Yet it is certain that he has been a conspicuous success in his high office, thanks to his analytical mind, his keen reasoning powers, and his ` scent' for the right trail. He is frigid and reserved when on duty at least, and his trifling hardness of hearing becomes practical stone-deafness when embarassing questions are asked. . . . Chief-Inspector Melville, the head of the Special Division of Scotland Yard, or the Dynamite Brigade as they are called, is a man of another type as far at least as personal appearance goes, though he is a great admirer of Dr. Anderson, whose patience, caution and discernment inspire the utmost confidence in all associated with him."
Another impression, given two years later, was : " Dr. Anderson has been described and fitly as the ideal detective of real life, yet he bears but little resemblance to those of the novelists' creation. . . His power of close and rapid reasoning from facts and his marvellous quickness in seizing on the essential points in difficult cases are at once the wonder and admiration of the men under his control. Naturally he is a discreet, silent and reserved man ; his training has made him even more so, but no officer who has yet presided over the affairs of the C.I.D. can boast of being more popular or more genuinely respected by his subordinates."
In a report of a lecture on Professional Criminals before the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in 1903, the Yorkshire Weekly Post said:
" After many years' service in the responsible position of spider in the centre of a web which reaches almost to the end of the earth, he is now a gray, elderly man, somewhat stern and searching, cool and calculating, as befits an official of Scotland Yard ; but in tr6t-h warm-hearted and jocular, ever ready with a quip and a joke, and on the whole impressing one as a sane and delightful man of the world."
"John O' London," in his Unposted Letters, writing of some remarks concerning Sherlock Holmes by Sir Basil Thomson, then Chief of the C.I.D., goes on to say : " This brought back to me an interesting experience. Nearly twenty years ago, when the Sherlock Holmes stories were being read and talked about every where, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to obtain Scotland Yard's opinion of Conan Doyle's hero. Accordingly I wrote to Sir Robert Anderson, who two years earlier had retired from his post as Head of the C.I.D. Hardly hoping for results, I was gratified when his card was handed to me, and was followed by the expert himself. He sat down and at once began to talk. I saw a keen and kindly old gentleman who looked like a super-detective by not looking like one at all. He was indeed better known to me as a distinguished theologian and scholar. Still, there was that in his eye which one could connect with the penetralia of the Yard. The result of our talk was that he undertook to write an article. It was entitled ' Sherlock Holmes as seen by Scotland Yard,' and it is as interesting to-day as when it was written." Referring to the article, John 0' London says " The real relation of a Sherlock Holmes to a first-class Scotland Yard detective was put to me by Sir Robert very simply : the inventor of a detective story makes both the lock and the key, whereas Scotland Yard is limited to finding the key to the lock.... In a detective story we are interested from first to last in the solution of the mystery ; that solution is the detective's triumph.... But in real life the elucidation of the mystery is only the first chapter ; if there is no second there is no story and no triumph."
My father's private diaries contain a few brief references to his official work. In April 1893 there is this note : " Saw Bradford. By his desire I saw Mr. Asquith on Townsend's case. (Attempt to shoot Mr. Gladstone.) Later to see Sir Algernon West about protecting Mr. G." In October 1893 : " 4 o'c to Trafalgar Square with Macnaghten to see an Anarchist meeting." In June of the same year : " The Australian cricketers came to see the Museum. Had chats with Bannerman, Giffen, Blackham, Lyons, etc." (The " Black Museum " at Scotland Yard was full of gruesome records of crime and criminals ; I have a vivid recollection of it.) A week later he went with Sir Evelyn RugglesBrice to Paris : " Called on M. Lepine, who received us with great cordiality. To Bertillon's Bureau. Saw Cochefort of the SOW and Guillot, head of the uniform police. To a reception by the President and Madame Faure at the Elysee. Saw Marie Antoinette's cell in the Conciergerie."
On I8th October 1898: " Col. Dawson, Military Attache of our Embassy in Paris, called with an introduction from the Foreign office to ask my help in finding agents to keep our government informed of movements of the French army and navy in the event of war, which he deemed probable." There are many notes of visits by parents whose sons or daughters were missing or in trouble, and by society people concerned about lost possessions. One entry is of a very different kind : " Lady W. called by appointment, and I had an hour's talk with her. Found her 'tender' and eager to hear the Gospel. I had sent her The Silence of God."
The last incident suggests a reference to the many meetings addressed in connection with the Christian Police Association ; Miss Catherine Guerney, its founder, wrote after my father's death : " I shall always remember the very many kindnesses and encouraging words and all the kind help he gave us in the early part of our work." At a convention of the Association in Bolton the diary notes that he spoke on police duty being in the line of God's government of the world (Romans xiii). There are several mentions of " Maud Colley's Police Class ; about too young P.C.s." Meetings on behalf of the Police Court Mission are also referred to, one of them in the Mansion House, London. Many others are mentioned in connection with Police Institutes and Orphanages in Birmingham, Leeds, Harrogate, Glasgow and other cities. At a Police Institute meeting in Grosvenor House, London, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir Robert were the speakers.
There are frequent references to lectures and addresses on crime and its problems, one to the Whitefriar's Club, another to a large audience in the Cory Hall, Cardiff. On the lighter side was a dinner of the County Chief-Constables' Club, at which Lord Desart and my father were the chief guests. Many of these activities were of course after his resignation.
Returning now to his service at " the Yard " : Sir John Moylan in his Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police states that "the period 1890 to I900 proved to be one during which there was an almost continuous decrease in crime." He continues : " By signal successes in sensational murder cases such as that of Neil Cream the poisoner, and Milsom and Fowler the Muswell Hill murderers, and by steady achievement in the less advertised everyday business of dealing with rogues in general, the C.I.D. built up in the ''nineties' a world-wide reputation for efficiency in crime detection . . . Crime reached a low watermark in 1899." The period of my father's service as Chief of the C.I.D. was 1888 to 1901.
In Criminals and Crime he himself wrote : " It is to the habit of dealing with criminals instead of with crime that the phenomenal success of the C.I.D. is largely due. I have no reserve in praising a department of which I was recently the Chief, and for the excellent reason that no one knows better than I do to whom the praise for that success is due. With a chief who did not enjoy the fullest confidence and respect of his subordinates success would be impossible. But the best of chiefs can do little more than stand behind the working staff -a body of officers that as a body when judged by the double test of efficiency and character are unequalled in the world. Character I include with emphasis because it is often overlooked when judging the relative merits of different Forces."
Amongst those who supported him so loyally and effectively at Scotland Yard, Sir Melville Macnaghten, Superintendent Frederick Williamson and Chief-Inspector William Melville have already been mentioned. Others whose names frequently appear in the records of causes celdbres were Inspector (later Sir Patrick) Quinn, who went after Pigott the forger when the latter fled to Spain, and Chief Inspector Frank Froest, who brought Jabez Balfour back from the Argentine and who was concerned also in the Adolph Beck case.
In the words of George Dilnot in his interesting Story of Scotland Yard, " Sir Robert Anderson after honourable and distinguished service for many years retired from the Criminal Investigation Department in 1go1." His friend Major-General J. C. Russell, C.V.O., Equerry to King Edward VII, wrote:" I don't know whether to congratulate you or to condole with the State. . . . As a wretched item in the Commonwealth I feel that my person and goods are no longer so safe as they were."
The New Year honours in 1896 had included the Companionship of the Order of the Bath, the decoration being bestowed by Queen Victoria at Windsor. He found the lack of ceremony there somewhat embarrassing, Her Majesty being seated in an armchair in the middle of the drawing-room. His loyalty and veneration betrayed him into giving her hand a real kiss instead of the correct purely ceremonial touch, and he noticed an amused smile on her face as he bowed himself out. To his relief, however, Sir Fleetwood Edwards, who was in attendance, followed him to say that the Queen wanted to know more about him. After relinquishing office, the rank of K.C.B. (Knight Commander) was conferred on him by King Edward VII in 1901. Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi, wrote : " The honour must be greatly enhanced by the consciousness that it has been earned by diligent labour. ` Seest thou a man diligent in his business ? He shall stand before Kings.' "
Amongst other letters of congratulation which gave him special pleasure was one from Inspector Kirchner quoting Browning's lines, " The best is yet to be, The last of life for which the first was made," and one from Superintendent Donald Swanson who wrote : " It was with real pleasure that I read this morning that my old master was the recipient of honour from H.M. the King. Everybody I have spoken to here is pleased." Every Christmas thereafter brought greetings from Mr. Swanson ; in 1917 he wrote:
" My best wishes to Lady Agnes and you my dear former master. I often think of you and your kindnesses to me which are remembered with pleasure and are impossible to forget."
The reply said:
" I was greatly gratified by your remembrance of me. My very pleasant memories of my service at ` the Yard ' are mainly associated with the Staff of the department, and very specially with my senior officers. I don't believe there was one of you who had an unkind thought about me. . . . Very heartily do I wish you all good during the year about to begin. 'Tis a sad and a solemn time we are living in. As for me, its sadness would overwhelm me were it not for the Faith and the Hope which become more real and more gladdening as the days go by."
In a letter to myself after my father's death Mr. Swanson said:
" Yes, certainly you have my willing permission to publish any letter to me from my dear respected master, if it will help you to portray his character as I found him during the many years I was under him. . . . He was able, just, firm, good and kind. We never knew an unpleasantness, though we differed sometimes, but very seldom and then over very trivial matters. I am conscious that I owe him very much and shall always feel grateful. Under him were spent the happiest of my thirty-five years' service."
Another chapter will tell of Sir Robert's long campaign, waged both before and after his retirement, for drastic reforms in the methods of dealing with criminals and crime.