First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories
Star of Gwent. 6th January, 1877
William Lawrence, who was represented by his wife, was charged with allowing a mule to stray on the highway at St. Brides, near Newport, on Sunday the 17th instant. P.C. Rowen proved the offence, defendant had been cautioned and reported before. His wife said the mule had got out unknown to them. She and her husband always tried to keep the mule in. She promised to keep it in, in future, and was only fined five shillings including costs.
Knowing your strict sense of honour, and your love of justice, will perhaps be sufficient excuse for requesting a few lines, in your issue this week. Last week's Star of Gwent under the heading 'Police Proceedings' my name is mentioned under the heading 'A Landlady Charged with Drunkeness'
The facts of the case are these: On the night in question, Sgt. Winmill entered my house and found two gentlemen connected with the trade of the Port, awaiting the arrival of two captains lodging at my premises. They had gone to the theatre to witness the pantomime, and on the way back had been delayed. Sgt. Winmill subsequently summoned myself and the two gentlemen, who were waiting the settlement of accounts, now the captains' ships were ready for sea. As proof of the 'weight attached' to the matter the Magistrates dismissed all the summonses.
On the day in question I had a hard day's toil; and after the house had been closed I entered a page and a half of accounts, besides some matters connected with the business; and at the time of Winmill's visit I had dropped asleep from sheer fatigue.
Now Sir, I think it is a cruel thing for any police officer to jump at such a hasty conclusion, which might injure a person's credit and character; but as I am known to the firm, with whom I deal, and have been dealing for many years, trying to injure my credit is out of the question. Had it been otherwise, Sgt. Winmill would find himself subject to the unpleasantness of an action at law.
The gathering which took place on Thursday night at the invitation of the Mayor of Newport is the first of the kind which has taken place in Newport for many years. No pains seem to have been spared by the Mayor to make his guests as comfortable as possible, and the result was that the banquet and ball were a thorough success. No one who was present at the banquet could fail to see that these assemblages of men, holding opinions widely different and so pronounced that they agree to differ, was of considerable value, for there is nothing so productive of good results as a free interchange of opinion.
The speeches were not brilliant. The Conservative M.P. for Monmouth Boroughs contrived to make a clever little speech about nothing, and was heartily cheered for doing so. Lord Tredegar and his brother Colonel Morgan were also there. Lord Tredegar is a humorous man. He evidently reads humorous books and he is often very smart in his sayings. He is a tactician, and he knows what form of speech at a banquet will make people laugh. He made the gathering laugh, and his brother seemed to possess the same virtue. There were, therefore, three Conservative Members of Parliament at the banquet. It is hardly necessary to recapitulate' the speeches that were delivered.
On Saturday 3rd inst. some young gentlemen of Newport who, (finding life flavourless and insipid) are desirous of violent deaths, were in solemn conclave and striped jerseys assembled on the Marshes, where they will be joined by a few kickers from Swansea, who, weary of the insanity of contemporary existence, as practised in their part of the principality, have reconciled themselves to the severance of all earthly ties and the adoption of varied hose. The final ceremony will comprise an energetic wrangle for a piece of puffed out, leather covered, never-to-be-sufficiently-condemned bladder, which has been chosen the inanimate recipient of the departing, before mentioned, life weary. A few wild yells, a few murmured 'good-byes' and the Marshes will again be peaceful and down trodden; while the inquest will be held in the adjoining inn. They call it 'football' while they live!
Sir Edward Watkin is engaged in promoting a subscription on behalf of Mr. John Frost; the well known Welsh Chartist, who was sentenced to death in 1839 through his participation in the rising at Newport. Mr. Frost is 93 years of age and still lives in the neighbourhood of Bristol. It is somewhat singular that the jury, judge, and counsel engaged in his prosecution, thirty eight years ago, are all dead. His sentence was commuted to one of transportation for life, and he was sent to Van Diemen's Land. He lived through it all, and when the amnesty was granted to political prisoners at the close of the Crimean War, he was able to return to his native country.
Mr. Frost was a Justice of the Peace, had been Mayor, and was a successful tradesman in Newport at the time of the Chartist Rising. He very ardently, but not very wisely, espoused their cause and lost both property and liberty for what he conceived to be his patriotic duty.
He is in fair health now, but his memory at times somewhat wanders. He lives with his daughter who has attended his declining years with affectionate care and solicitude. Sir Edward Watkin hearing of his position, voluntarily sent his family £20 a few days ago, and he is now engaged in the benevolent work of trying to raise £200 or £300 to solace the old Chartist's exile in the days of proper forgetfulness.
It is difficult to keep pace with the rapid progress which science is making in every direction, and men hardly realise the improvements and wonderful discoveries which are being made. One of which promises to be of great importance and convenience in business affairs, is the telephone, which has recently been constructed and practically developed by Professor A. Graham Bell, and by means of which, it is possible to send articulate sounds over ordinary telegraph wire. Professor Bell is now able to communicate planely between any points, however distant.
There is an extraordinary want of uniform severity displayed by Magistrates when dealing with the punishment of crimes of brutal violence, and the consequences which the perpetrators are too often visited with, are given penalties ludicrously inadequate to the atrocity of their acts.
There is absolutely no ground of reason or sentiment, upon which it is possible to justify the strange forbearance of the various Benches, towards pure and simple cruelty. If the malignity of the motive is the essence of crime, what can be more detestably wicked than the attempt to maim a poor fellow creature, who has given no cause of offence, or the policeman who is doing his duty? If, on the other hand, the heinousness of the crime is to be measured by the amount of distress inflicted on these occasions, what comparison is there between violent personal assaults and depredations upon properties? If there are any crimes which are capable of being checked by fear of consequences, they are crimes perpetrated out of sheer brutality, and without even the hope of gain.
There is but one way to deal effectively with such cases, that is to employ physical pain as a deterrent. The lash is not yet obsolete, and we confess that we do not desire that it should be abolished, until human creatures with the instincts of brutes are obsolete also.
We understand that Mr. John Frost, the old Chartist, died at his daughter's home in Stapleton, Bristol on 27th inst. at the ripe old age of 93.
Mr. John Frost, prior to the lamentable outbreak in which he was the prime leader, commenced business in Newport as a tailor and draper in 1811, in a house belonging to his step-father, near the Royal Oak, Mill Street. Shortly after this he married a widow named Geach, who, with her two children, resided with her uncle, Mr. William Foster, a member of the old Corporation and Mayor of the Borough in the years 1804, 1812 and 1817. At Mr. Foster's demise Mrs. Frost and her children derived a handsome property. By Mr. Frost, she became the mother of two sons and five daughters. About the year 1822 Mr. Frost first displayed aspirations to rank as a public writer, and pamphleteering was a favourite mode of showing his hostility.
Mr. Frost was an early convert to the cause of the Chartists. His earnest
advocacy and strong expression of language soon got him into trouble.
His prosecution for libel and committal to prison tended to increase his
popularity and brought him more into public favour. He was elected one
of the Council of the Borough at the close of 1835 and was recommended
to the King, by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for appointment
as one of the Justices of the Peace for the Borough. He is said to have
performed the duties with diligence, zeal, independence and impartiality.
In 1837 he was elected to fill the civic chair, and during his year of
office as Mayor, acted with becoming dignity. He subsequently became so
extreme in his political views, and so violent in his language that the
attention of the authorities was called to the matter, the result being
that Mr. Frost's name was obliterated from the list of Justices of the
Peace. From thereon his life is a matter of history, made poignant by
the utter futility of the enterprise in which he participated
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First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories