Friday 18 March 2016

Mrs Ormiston Chant and the Music Hall

Below is the full text of the LCC Theatres and Music Halls Licensing Committee's hearing on the Empire Theatre and Music Hall in October 1894. This was the famous session where Laura Ormiston Chant of the National Vigilance Association persuaded the authorities to enforce removal of the promenades at the theatre, notorious haunts of West End prostitutes. (LMA ref.  LCC/MIN/10803)

[see also ]

1894 Administrative County of London Sessions of the Licensing Committee
Sessions House Clerkenwell
Wednesday October 10th 1894

R.Roberts Esq. in the Chair

[transcript from the shorthand notes of Mr. E.Howard, 11 New Court, Lincoln's Inn WC]


Empire Theatre of Varieties

Mr. Gill: I appear for the applicant.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Gentlemen, I beg to oppose the licence.

The Chairman: Whom do you represent?

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I appear as an objector myself.

Mr. Gill: There are other objectors in order of time before you. Mr. Collin is the first objector that I have down here.

The Chairman: Has a notice been served?

Mr. Collin: Yes.

The Chairman (to Mr. Gill): Have you had proper notice?

Mr. Gill: Yes, we have had notice.

[2] The Chairman: Perhaps I had better read the notice of objection. "I beg to give you notice that it is my intention to appear before the Licensing Committee of the London County Council at this next sittings and object to the renewal of the Music and Dancing licence of the Empire Theatre and Music Hall, Leicester Square, on the ground that the place at night is the habitual resort of prostitutes in pursuit of their traffic, and that portions of the entertainment are most objectionable, obnoxious and against the best interests and moral well-being of the community at large."

Mr. Collins: If it should please the Committee I should be quite content that any general observations which may be addressed to you in respect to this licence should be made by Mrs. Ormiston Chant, and therefore should content myself with stating the bald facts of my own evidence as to repeated visits [3] to the Empire Theatre. I am well acquainted with the Theatre and since March of the present year have been to the theatre.

The Chairman: Are you giving evidence?

Mr. Collin: I should like to do it in that form, Sir.

The Chairman: Then you will of course have to submit yourself for cross-examination.

Mr. Collin: With pleasure. Mr. Gill suggests that I should go into the witness box. I will do so.

Mr. Gill: Whatever is convenient.

The Chairman: I think it would be convenient if you came into the witness box.

Mr. Collin: Would it meet the wishes of the Committee if Mrs. Ormiston Chant were to make a personal statement first?

The Chairman: And that you be called by Mrs. Chant?

Mr. Collin: Yes.

The Chairman: Mrs. Chant would you desire to call Mr. Collin?

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Yes, if you please.

The Chairman: We have some other objections to deal with before that. Miss Hood.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I am empowered to saw that Miss Hood was cabled for last Saturday to America and therefore cannot be here.

The Chairman: Then Mr. Fish, Are you going to object?

Mr. Fish: Yes, I object, but I should [4] like to follow the example of Mr. Collin.

The Chairman: And Mr. Brooks. Is he here?

Mr. Fish: He was here a short time ago.

The Chairman: Very well then, I will call upon Mrs, Chant.

A Member of the Committee: Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that this is Mrs. Chant's case, or Mr. Collin's?

The Chairman: I understand this is Mrs. Chant's case, and that she is going to call Mr. Collin. I understand, if you please, that these other names are practically witnesses of yours, Mrs. Chant.

Mrs. Chant: My attention was first called to the Empire in the past months of the year by two American gentlemen, one of whom was a guest at my house, and who went there to hear Chevalier sing. They went to the Empire and they complained that they were continually accosted at night and solicited by women. They were very much shocked at the character and the want of clothing in the ballet. For that reason I determined to visit the Empire but I did not do so till the Living Pictures had made so much stir in July. I therefore paid my first visit to the Empire on the 30th July, chiefly with a view [5] of seeing the living pictures, and of ascertaining whether this open solicitation went on in the promenades as stated. I did not find the living pictures there at all objectionable. But in regard to accusations that I make against the Empire - namely that the promenade is nightly used by men and women for the purposes of prostitution, I intend to give testimony to bear out what I say, and to call witnesses to corroborate that statement. The second indictment is that parts of the performances on the stage are exceedingly indecent, and I intend to give testimony that I agree with such an indictment, and to call witnesses to corroborate it. To begin with the promenades. I am quite aware what a serious charge it is to bring against a place, and also what a serious matter it is to state that a woman is a prostitute, but I think before I have finished you will see I have good grounds for making the accusation. During the first part of the performance I sat in the five shilling seats, unreserved. There were very few people in the promenade, but bye and bye, after 9 o'clock, I noticed to my asto[nishment] a number of young women coming [in] alone, most of them very much [--torn page--] all of them more or less gau[dily] [6] dressed. I noticed that they did not go into the stalls at all, with two exceptions, that first night. I noticed that they either sat on the lounges and sofas, or walked up and down the promenade, or took up their position at the top of the stairs and watched particularly and eagerly the men who came out of the stall and walked up and down the promenade. In no case were any of these young women to whom I have alluded, accompanied by a friend or accompanied by others except of their own type. I also noticed a middle-aged woman amongst them, and from the fact that I particularly noticed her, I am able to say that there were very few middle-aged women in this crowd of gaily dressed and painted women. I particularly noticed this middle-aged woman, because she seemed to know so many of the young women and because she seemed to introduce gentlemen to them. I was standing by a gentleman at the back of the stalls, and she came and tapped him on the shoulder, took him away, and I followed them. She introduced him to two very pretty girls, who were seated on a lounge, one of them very much painted and beautifully dressed and I noticed that he must have been a stranger to them because he raised his hat to one [7] during the introduction and he raised his hat and finally shook hands, with the other and sat down by her. He called for drinks and I saw them drinking together. The middle-aged woman left them. I then, bye and bye, when 'God Save the Queen' was being played, and we passed downstairs, saw this man and this girl go off together. I also saw an attendant call a hansom for them. I noticed these women most of them paid no attention whatever to the performance on the stage, and that during the necessary darkening of the theatre for the living pictures their behaviour and the behaviour of the men whom they were with, was very bad indeed. There was a great deal of pulling about, jostling, touching and very unpleasant language used: so much so that while the very beautiful picture of the "Lost Chord" was being exhibited and when the singer had come to the last words "only in Heaven I shall hear that grand Amen," the words were completely drowned by the loud and exceedingly objectionable conversation of one very tall, highly painted young woman who stood near the stalls, and to whom, if I had been there for any other purpose than I was, I should have called "silence" at once. But I was there to take notes and make my observations, and did not wish to attract unnecessary [8] notice. I also noticed that which will be corroborated by other witnesses, that when we went quietly dressed we were very much marked by the attendants, so much so that I, who was very quietly dressed, heard one of the attendants say to a girl who was laughing noisily and using unpleasant language, "You had better mind how you behave tonight as there are strangers around."
    I have also been making endeavours to lead some of these girls who use the promenade of the Empire to a better life and the testimony they all give is that the promenade at the Empire Theatre is the best place where they can carry on their trade. One and another have told me they get higher prices from the men that go with them, and that they could not do without the Empire. I have had one or two of these girls to afternoon tea in my drawing room and have talked over this matter with them as to what this life is leading, and their testimony, absolutely frankly and candidly given, is that they go to the Empire night after night beause they can meet with gentlemen, and make better bargains. So much for what I wish to say about the promenade. I have nothing to say at all as to whether the attendants do their  [9] duty or whether they know what these girls are, but I can say that they do appear to be on very familiar terms with a great many of them.
    Then as to the charge indecency of the performance on the stage, I can only say that "La Frolique" and "The girl I left behind me" seemed to me to be for the express purpose of displaying the bodies of women to the utmost extent. There is not the least attempt to disguise that which common sense and common decency requires should be hidden. To begin with, there was on dancer in flesh coloured tights, and I used no opera glasses at first, but at last I had to use them to see whether she even had tights on or not, so nearly was the colour of the flesh imitated. She had nothing on but a very short skit which when she danced and pirouetted flew right up to her head, and left the rest of the body with the waist exposed, except for a very slight white gauze between the limbs.
    Then there is another part of the ballet which is exceedingly objectionable, and that is where some girls come in dressed as monks. Opposite them stand a [illeg.] of girls certainly modestly and prettily dressed as Puritan maidens, and these monks stretch out their [10] hands in benediction on these girls, and then throw off their monkish robes, and cross and appear before the audience as cavaliers, with tights up to the waist with very little apology for extra clothing. Also there is one central figure as it were, in flesh coloured tights who wears a light gauzy lacy kind of dress, and when she comes to the front of the stage, it is a though the body of a naked women were simply disguised with a film of lace. There is also a dancer who dances in black silk tights, with a black lace dress and - I do hold no one, whatever their tastes may be, can question whether this is indecent or not - she gathers up all her clothing in the face of the man before whom she is dancing a stretches up her leg and kicks him upon the crowd of his head. I noticed that the audience took these peculiarly objectionable parts very quietly and that the audience threw much more enthusiasm into parts of the entertainments that were above reproach.
     Also there were some acrobats who performed, and the young of these performers is a little girl apparently of about 10. She is a very little person indeed, and I do submit to all of you that it is against decency and right feeling [11] and common kindness that this little girl of about 10 should stand on her head with her legs stretched out and that men should take her up, by her heels and then twist her round and kick her about the stage. I can only say to you gentlemen that even if you should not be able to feel as keenly on that subject as perhaps we should desire, we the women of England, in whose name I speak today, do feel the utmost confidence in approaching you in this matter and asking you to do what we have watched you do with so much interest, to purify our public amusements from those elements which we hold to be quite unnecessary and which we see bring so much shame and ruin in their train.
     I do not come before you as one who objects to dances or objects to theatres. I love these things, and because I love them I want other people to love them as well as I do, and to be able to look upon them without having the baser passions roused, and without having the standard of decency, which it has taken so much trouble to acquire, lowered and not raised; and if it should be said that these poor girls, who act in the ballet and are thus shamelessly exposed, do not mind it, I say that a civilized community is not to take its [12]  standard of decency from those who to being with are not in a position to hold the highest but from those of us who have but one object in making this opposition, and in doing the work we have, and that is that the amusements of our great city shall be such that young men can go to them without being entrapped and seduced by these sad poor women, and that our young women shall be able to go with their lovers and brothers without having to feel what I felt that night, when two Frenchmen stood behid the stalls, behind my sister and myself, and wondered that any virtuous woman could look up such a performance as that upon the stage; and at last when this black tight dancer kicked on to the crown of the man's head, said "C'est trop fort" and he left and I did not see him any more.
     It is for that reason I appear before you this morning and I hope my witnesses will be able to corroborate the points of my accusation, namely that the promenade is made nightly a common resort for women who are leading the life of prostitutes, not only once or twice, but every night, and that some of the performances on the stage are indecent and objectionable.
     I should now like to call upon Mrs. Anne Hicks to speak of [13] what she saw that leads her to help us in our opposition to this licence.

Mr. Gill: I have some questions to ask this lady, either now or presently. She has made statements with regard to having visited the place herself, and whenever it is convenient to ask her questions, I will do so.

The Chairman: Mrs. Chant has of course tendered evidence in her speech, but I think it would be more convenient that you should cross-examine her after she has called her evidence.

--- Mrs. Anne Hicks called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Will you tell these gentlemen when you visited the Empire Theatre?

Last Friday, October the 5th.

Will you tell us what you saw on the promenade to lead you to believe that it is a resort of prostitutes?

When I went to the theatre about 8 o'clock at night I was very much surprised to find the promenade almost empty, and simply the seats of the auditorium were fairly well filled. About 9 o'clock I noticed there were coming into the promenade from the various doors women in twos and threes, sometimtes one would come in alone. But they did not come evidently for the purpose of seeing the performance, seeing that they simply walked round the promenade and took their places on the various seats [14] that were there and the lounges, sitting at the tables, not paying the slightest attention to the performance at all. Later on, about half past 9, men began to come on, many of them in evening dress, and then these women began to be more active, and to walk from place to place, glancing at the men as they passed by. That went on while the living pictures were being exhibited. I left my seat just about 10 o'clock and stood in the crowd - for it had become a crowd by that time - of people walking up and down the promenade. I took my seat about the centre of the promenade, facing the stage. The crowd that was behind me were talking. Some words caught my attention and made me listen to what was going on. A man and woman were talking, and the reply of the man to something the woman had said was "Oh you are not very young." It was said in half a jesting tone. A few minutes more their conversation was going on, and then I heard her reply, "If you and so jolly particular, I can find you a nice little one, quite young," and after a few minutes more conversation they went off together. The impression in my mind then, or rather the conviction, was that it was a case of offer to procure. I have not the slightest doubt in my own [15] mind from various signs - from various things that were said - that that was the full intention of the conversation. They went off together. A little later on I moved my place again into another portion of the crowd, and there were men and women talking, and one man came up to a girl - a rather handsome girl - and he said, "Oh, where is little ----" but I did not catch the name. She said, "Oh, she is not here tonight; it is not her night; it is my night. She comes on night, and I come the other." Evidently those women were in the habit of resorting to that place. I was particularly attracted too by the appearance of an almost child. She was a girl of about 16, rather beautifully dressed with a crimson silk bodice and white lace. She was standing near the edge of the steps leading down to the seats, and she continually glanced over her shoulders to two or three women that were sitting at the back. But from the manner of the child, from the glances she give into the faces of the various men that passed her, and by her brilliant dress, I was able to trace her into various parts of the promenade, and I have not the slightest doubt that that child was brought there under the protection of these women, or under the influence of these [16] women and that child, beautiful as she was, was placed there to attract the attention of the men, from the very fact of her half consciousness as she glanced into the face of the men - not one man, not two men, but various men - one was able to notice the glance that the child gave, and then the half-frightened look over her shoulder. I am sure in my own mind that that child was taken there for immoral purposes.

Did you see girls asking me to treat them to drink?

No, I did not see that.

Did you notice girls going off with men?

Oh, I saw a great number. I saw several of the women that I had noticed on the promenade, when I came out at the close of the performance - I noticed several of them going away in various cabs, and once there was almost an accident outside, for a girl had got into the cab with one man, and another man stepped out quickly into the road and caught hold of the cab as it was turning round, and it was only by someone catching hold of him that prevented what in mind would have been an accident. He would have been run down by the cab. I saw numbers of them go away together.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I think that is the [17] evidence I wish to ask for from Mrs. Hicks who is very well known among the working classes of London, and I felt her testimony so far valuable that her impression as a common sense working woman is that these girls are prostitutes and that they are carrying on their trade there.

--- Cross-examined by Mr. Gill

I do not know whether you said where you live?

I live in Camden Town. I am pretty well known.

I am not arguing that you are not the best known woman in London, but I want to know where you live.

3 Wilmot Place, Camden Town.

 Do you occupy the house there?


Are you a married woman?


Living with your husband, there?

No, I am not. The house is mine.

Does your husband live there?

No, he does not.

Where does he live?

Am I bound to answer that question?

You put it upon me that you are very well known. I want to know something about you.

The Chairman: You must exercise your own discretion in the matter.

I think I will not answer that question. I think my character is [18] beyond any suspicion that you may cast upon it.

Mr. Gill: You are here opposing.

I am a ratepayer and I have been a ratepayer in St. Pancras for over 20 years.

You have had a very full opportunity of making an elaborate statemen. Now you will not mind answering just a few questions?

Not at all.

You understand that you are opposing a licence where a very large number of people are employed?

I do.

Do I understand you to say that you decline to answer whether your husband lives there or where he lives.

I told you he did not live there.

Or where he lives?

Yes, or where he lives.

Or what his occupation is?

I can tell you what his occupation is. He is a cabinet maker.

In London?

No, he is not in London.

In America?

No, my son is in America.

Are you an American?

No, I am English.

Living in Camden Town, are you?

Yes I am.

Have you any occupation?

I live with my children, who are [19] all grown up.

Have you any occupation?

My occupation as far as any paid occupation is I am National organiser for the British Woman.

Your paid occupation is national organiser for the British women?

The British Women's Temperance Association.

What does National organiser mean?

I go from place to place and organise branches of the British Women's Temperance Association. I think that is pretty clear.

Where are the headquarters?

Farringdon Hall.

What do you do? go about and address meetings or what?

I am sometimes in town, sometimes in the country.

That is your occupation. You go about and address meetings?


Paid a salary for it?

I told you I am the national organiser.

It is a very simple question.

I am paid a salary, yes.

Your time a good deal occupied, I suppose, by travelling about and addressing meetings.

Fairly well - not fully. I am with my family at home.

Are these subscriptions? Is the Society supported by subscriptions?


[20] They subscribe?

There is a membership of 70,000 people.

And what is your salary?

Am I bound to answer that question?

The Chairman: You are no bound to do so.

Then I refuse.

Mr. Gill: There is nothing derogatory in it.

I do not think it is at all relevant to the case, and I do not answer it.

I must not at the moment express any opinion as to that.

Mr. Chairman: It is a question for the Counsel.

Mr. Gill: I submit it is important that it should be shown who the people are or who the person is who is taking upon himself or herself the responsibility of objecting to this licence. Let us see what is the value of the evidence whether it is that of an independent person or whether it is that of a person who makes a trade of going about and speaking in public - whether this is done for advertising or for purposes of that kind.

I can answer you most assuredly.

I am addressing the Committee. Is this the first time that you have visited the Empire?

Yes it is the first time.

The first and only time?

The first and only time.

You did not, I suppose, while you [21] were there speak to any of the attendants in the place?

No I did not.

Did you see the entertainment?

Yes I did.

Did you take exception to the entertainment at all?

Some portions of it I did.

What do you say that you objected to?

I strongly objected as a mother to see that baby - for she was but a baby in size if she was more than a baby in years - I strongly objected to seeing her kicked and thrown about the building. I strongly objected to that.

Have you ever had an opportunity of seeing that child from what you saw on the stage?


You saw the Shaeffer family - she was one of the troupe?


Did you ever in your life see a more healthy or better looking family that the Shaeffer family?

I could not tell you, because painting so often gives a colour to the face.

You saw these people on the stage?

I saw them on the stage.

Did you ever in your life see more perfect specimens of human beings than those people you saw comprising that family?

I would not say.

Was this child that you saw there a very healthy happy looking child.


She was not?

No, not the night I was there at least.

You saw this performance once?


Now besides the Shaeffer family - there are very few people who have not seen them, and seen them often for years past - is there anything else you took exception to?

Yes, to some of the dancing.

The dancing generally?

Some of it.

What was it you took exception to in the dancing the night you were there?

Two girls and two men were dancing. The girls were in black skirts and wore tall hats - the whole four wore tall hats. I strongly objected to the kind of dancing - the gestures.

Have you ever seen dancing at the Opera?


Objectionable in your opinion?

Some of it.

And at the theatres also, no doubt?


And in the pantomimes?


Objectionable entertainments?


[23] Is the Society that you are the organiser of the same Society that Mrs. Chant belongs to?


And that Mr. Brooks belongs to?

I do not know Mr. Brooks. No we do not have any men belonging to our Society. It is a society of women.

Is Mrs. Bailache a member of that Society?

She is a member of that Society among others, but I believe -

Are you a member of other Societies?


How many?


What are they?

The East London Rope Makers Trade Union and the Women's Trade Union Association.

In what way are you connected with those Societies?

I am honorary secretary of the East London Rope Makers and have been for 5 years. I am on the Executive of the Women's Trade Union Association.

These are all the three societies you are connected with.


You are able to give, I dare say, a good deal of your time and attention to these matters.


Do you know Mr. Fish?

I saw him the other night - one [24] evening - and I have seen him here this morning: but I do not know him personally any more than I know you.

You said you were very well known - I am very well known too. Tell me where did you see Mr. Fish.

I saw him here in the hall.

And Mr. Collin, do you know him?

Yes, I saw him here too.

Now with regard to women entering places of amusement. You have no objection to women going in all these places?


It is perfectly reasonable that a woman should go to a place of entertainment if she pleases.


And if she conducts herself properly, do you think she ought to be interfered with?

I say that she ought not to be interfered with - that a woman ought to be able in a country like ours, to go into any assembly without being insulted.

A woman ought to have in fact exactly the same rights as a man.


She ought to go to any place entertainment that he goes to - have access to the same places.


To go by herself or go with a friend, apart from any question of whether it is [25] a music hall or any other form of entertainment.


And as long as she behaves herself properly she ought not to be interfered with.

Decidedly not.

And I suppose if a woman is a good looking woman you would not object to her dressing as well as she pleased.

Not the slightest.

There is nothing in that.

Nothing in that.

With regard to aids to the complexion, do you say a woman has no right to do that - to improve her appearance?

If she pleases.

She may do that?


She may go to places of entertainment; she may dress as she pleases, and she ought not to be interfered with if she behaves herself?

She may do as she pleases as long as she does not shock common decency.

That is to say as long as her clothes are all suitable and becoming.


Did you see any ladies whose dress shocked common decency at this place?


You did not?


[26] You saw a large number of men there?

Yes. You saw men in evening dress?


You do not attach any importance to the fact of their being in evening dress?

Simply I presume they had been to dinner somewhere and they had come there after dinner.

You would give them the same right, I suppose, to go to a place of amusement after dinner?


You attach no importance to the fact of their being in evening dress. They may do that?

Of course they may.

How long did you stay there?

The whole of the performance.

Moved about the whole time?

No. I sat on my seat some time. When I got tired of sitting down I got up and walked about.

And so did the other people?


You walked about the promenade, I suppose?


It is a relief from a variety entertainment?

Yes, but my statement was that certain persons did not sit down at all. They walked about the whole time. They did not come to see the performance.

Then you were not watching the entertainment?

A portion of the time.

[27] Where were you sitting?

In the five shilling seats.

In what row?

The row nearest the promenade.

Were you watching the entertainment?

A portion of it, yes. I got tired of it sometimes. It was tiresome and silly.

And then you looked about you.


Or walked about.


 And you saw a number of other people walking about.


Did you go to this place of your own accord, or were you asked to?

I was not asked to go.

Had you communicated with Mrs. Chant before you went?

No, not at all. I did not know anything about this affair.

[28] Do you mean you went entirely of your own volition?


Did you know that there was any question about an objection to the licence?

Well, I had heard things talked about it. I had heard the Empire and various theatres discussed.

May I ask you had you heard them discussed at  one of those meetings?


Had you discussed it with Mrs. Chant?


Then you went, I understand, upon this occasion entirely of your own accord.


You made, I suppose, no note of what it was you saw?

I could not help making a note of it in my own mind.

Did you make any written note of it?


Did you stay there till "God Save the Queen" was played?

I stayed there till the people were going out.

And the people all came out in a stream?


And drove off in cabs?

[29] Yes, some of them.

Was the house full?

The promenades were full.

Could you see the boxes occupied and the stalls?

They were not very full - not so full as I have seen many other houses.

The Chairman: Mr. Gill, before you go any further: you asked a question some little time ago about asking Mrs. Chant certain questions. It appears to me on consideration that Mrs. Chant is conducting the case and calling witnesses and under those circumstances you cannot well cross-examine her unless she chooses indeed to tender herself as a witness.

Mr. Gill: An enquiry of this kind is surrounded by difficulties. I have this sort of difficulty to contend with - that an objection can be made with regard to a licence and a statement made by an objector who can go into any subject and talk about the conversation had with some person who is in another country. This matter was introduced in the first instance by this lady saying that she had had her attention called to the Empire by a young American gentleman [30] who went there to hear Mr. Chevalier sing his coster songs. Those were the first words that were uttered by this lady. Now Mr. Chevalier never sung any coster songs -

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I did not say he did.

Mr. Gill: The thing must be surely imaginary - the young gentleman who went there to see it. Now I can have no opportunity of asking him anything and if those kind of statements are made and if those are to be accepted without any question, the position of a licensed holder is an extremely difficult one because there is no sort of notice with regard to a matter of this kind. If  it is said that this place is the resort of prostitutes there is the simplest possible means of testing it - that is to say, by an enquiry before a stipendiary magistrate where the evidence can be taken on oath and the rules of evidence would apply and persons would only be allowed to state that which they took the responsibility of stating upon their own knowledge which can be tested by giving dates and times and affording an opportunity of answering. [31] But as matters are now, a general statement of the vaguest possible description - hearsay of the wildest possible character - is permitted.

The Chairman: Mr. Gill, I am anxious that we should conduct our cases as regularly as possible and of course the Committee will be able to give due weight to such portions of Mrs. Chant's statements as may not be supported by evidence and the Committee will be able to judge of its value.

Mr. Gill: I have not intimated what I am going to ask in the event of her being called.

Mr. McDougall: Perhaps Mrs. Chant may submit herself for cross-examination,

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: If it does not interfere with my power of conducting the case I am perfectly willing that Mr. Gill should ask [32] me any questions he likes.

The Chairman: It will not interfere with your conducting of the case.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Then I am quite willing that Mr. Gill should ask me any questions.

Mr. Gill (to Miss Hicks): I am anxious to know whether you corroborate what Mrs. Chant has said with reference to women accosting men. Did you see any of the women in the Empire accost any men?

It would all depend on your definition of "accosting". There are various way, as you know, I daresay, as well as I do, in passing along the streets without actually speaking. There are ways of accosting and then I say distinctly I did see accosting.


Not in a plain open way as sometimes you may be accosted in the lower parts of London as you pass through - in a rude way - but certainly accosting.

Do you mean by that that two strangers - that is, a strange women and a strange man in the Empire - that the strange woman would go up and accost or speak to the strange man? Do you mean to imply that?

I do.

[33] Mr. Leon: you wish to imply that there are other ways of accosting besides speaking?


Will you tell the Committee anything that you saw of that kind - if you did see anything to lead you to think that accosting, other than speaking, went on?

For instance, the child that I speak of - her glances into the faces of the men as she passed - not one man and not two men - but several men - was certainly, in my opinion, an act of accosting.

The Chairman - Is there any special part of the empire where what you complain of took place?

It was in the promenade where the 5s seats are mostly.

You stated the promenade was full?

Yes - not the promenade below, on the ground floor, but the promenade above.

They were full.


Were there people there standing to look at the performance?

They were not looking at the performance. They were standing there and walking about, but not looking at the performance.

[34] The people in the promenade were not looking at the performance, according to your judgment?

The great majority of them were not looking at the performance. I was in the promenade. I was looking at the performance for a time until my attention was so markedly called to what I saw and heard and then I devoted my attention to what I saw.

--- Mrs. Ormiston Chant cross-examined by Mr. Gill

When did you know that Mrs. Hicks had been to the Empire?

I think it was the 16th September that I first knew it - when I was asked to meet her at a friend's house.

The 16th September?


 You were called to meet Mrs. Hicks?

Yes, at a friend's house to hear what she had seen at the Empire.

The 16th September?


Was it long before that that she had been there?

I do not know. I cannot speak as to the date of her visit. She gave it to you herself. I can speak for my own date.

I understood her to say she went there last Friday the 5th October. That was what she conveyed to me. That was her first visit to the Empire because I was a little anxious to know. That was her first and only visit.

I think I must recall about the 16th September. I have asked our friends to come to my house twice within the last week and I think I must withdraw that I met her at a friend's house. I think it was at those two meetings at my own house.

When the thing was discussed, I suppose?


When you had friends there?

We have had to discuss it you see, with a view to conducting the case.

Certainly, I quite appreciate that. You had consultations.


As to what would be the method to attack?


And then, I suppose, it was decided that you should speak and Mrs. Hicks should give evidence?

And I should call upon the others for their evidence.

And I thin you all gave the [36] same formal notice - word for word: I suppose it was settled amongst yourselves?

Yes, it was.

You all agreed that portions of the entertainment were most objectionable and obnoxious and so on.


And I see there are about 7 letter written in the same terms.


They are all written by people whom you of course know?

It depends upon what you mean by "knowing".

I see the name of Brook. Is that a person you know?

It depends upon what you mean by "know". I know his name in connection with this thing but I do not visit with Mr. Brook nor he with me.

How do you know him - in connection with what?

I really do no know him in connection with anything  - except that I think he is a clergyman.

You know the service he conducts perhaps, do you?


Nothing about him.


Do you know Mrs. Bailache of Hornsey Rise?

[37] [...] very well. I have known [...] for years.

[...] are connected, I daresay, with a good many societies?
A good many.

Actively engaged in the work?

Yes, I suppose so.

As much time as you can spare from your private affairs?

Yes, I suppose so.

I suppose you speak at meetings do not you?


A good deal, I think, do not you?

Yes, a great deal.

Do you know Mr. Fish?


He is a very active man, is he not?


And Mr. Collin - you know him?


He is engaged in the work?


Did you take anybody with you the first time you went to the Empire?

Yes, or rather they took me.

Somebody took you?


A lady who is not here?


And you both, I suppose, went [37] [...] dressed

[...] and did, very quietly dressed [...]

You would agree with me that there is no objection at all to any woman going where she pleases alone, or with another man?

No, I agree with you heartily about that.

Absolute freedom for women to go where they like unaccompanied?


You go the whole length with regard to that?


And she ought not to be interfered with if she conducts herself properly?

Not as a woman.

So long as she conducts herself properly she ought not to be interfered with?

Or he.

When you went there did you dress quietly?

The first time I dressed quietly. Three times I dressed quietly; twice gaily.

You and your friend, did you both dress yourselves to try and look like these women?


What did you mean by gaily?

[39] I mean putting on my prettiest evening dress. It is not a fast one.

Your most attractive dress, we will say?


Was that because you thought you might get more information if you were more smartly dressed?

Yes it was.

The idea was that if you went there more smartly dressed you might get more information?

When I went there quietly dressed they manifestly watched me very carefully.

You say you believe you were watched?

Yes, I was.

Did you upon any occasions that you went there ever see a woman accost a man - and I use the term "accost" as speaking to a man.


You saw women accost men?


Did you know whether women knew the men or not?

Their subsequent behaviour would show that they did not know each other.

That was the inference you drew?

From what they said.

[40] Then you spoke to these women did you?

Not those that were accosting men at the time that they were.

Is there any woman that you during your visits even saw accost a man that you can speak to of your own knowledge?


And can you say it was a woman who did not know the man she was speaking to?

My common sense would show me she did not know him.

That is the only way?


Assuming she did know the man there would not be the slightest impropriety?

Not the slightest.

There is no reason why a woman should not go to a Music Hall and speak to any man she knows?

Just so.

Did you go with the same lady upon each occasion?


A different lady?


Who was the lady you went with? Lady Henry Somerset?

[41] The first time.

She took you there did she?

Yes, I called for her.

Did you go with her more than once?


Afterwards, you went with other people?

Yes, I did.

You have been I suppose to the Opera and seen the ballet there?

Yes, I have.

Do you object to the ballet?

No, I do not object to the ballet as such.

You have seen the premiere danseuse at the Opera in a very short dress?

Yes, but not so bad as these.

You have been to the theatres and seen dancing there?


Did you object to it there?

No, the only theatre I have seen dancing at is Irving's and there is not an objection to be raised.

That is the only theatre.

That is the only theatre where I have seen dancing.

In the pantomimes have you seen dancing?

I have not been to pantomimes for the purpose of watching the performance.

[42] You have seen ladies very scantily attired?

I should not like to say I have been to a pantomime.

You would not like to say os?

No, because I have not been enough in the way of going to be a good judge.

You have often seen a premiere danseuse at the Opera?

No, I do not often go.

Whenever you have seen them were their skirts about the same length?

No, they were longer.

You think they were longer?

And they were kept down in some way which kept them from flying completely up.

Did you expect Mr. Edwardes to come and see you when you wrote this letter?

No, I did not expect anything.

Have you said if Mr. Edwardes had been an gentleman he would have come to see you?

Yes, I think I have.

That is to say, the manager of this place, receiving your letter, if he were a gentleman, would come to see you. He did not know you - a pretty strong thing for a gentleman who did not know you to come and see you.

[43] I think it was a strong thing that he did not.

You expected he would come and see you.

No, I did not expect anything.

That is your description, You said yourself if he had been a gentleman.

I made that remark to the person who has given you that information.

There are means of getting information.

Yes, I know that.

Did you invite some of these ladies to your house?

Yes, I did.

And gave them tea, I suppose, and entertained them.

One of them.

And had a party to meet them.

Oh no!

Do you mean that


Do you mean you only saw them yourself?

Oh yes, only by myself.

And more than one of them?

No, only one at a time.

Are any of them here?

Did you happen to meet any people who had been refused admission to the Empire?

No, I do not know that I have.

Did not you meet any ladies [44] who had been refused admission to the Empire who were desirious of importing information?

No, I do not think so. I have not said so either.

That is as far as you go?


That you do not think so?

No, I think not. I do not remember hearing them say that.

And your first anxiety I understand was for your young American friend who was staying in your house?

I did not say so.

Your first attention was directed to this matter on account of a young American friend who was a visitor at your house?

But that is a very different thing - that my attention was first called to it by a young American friend.

He was shocked?

Two of them.

They were both shocked?

Yes, they were.

Very much upset by it.

Yes, there were, both of them.

They had gone there to hear Chevalier?


And did they not hear him?


[45] Are you American?

No, I am very English.

And these young gentlemen have gone back to America?

They have.

I may take it you never spoke to any attendant there in the place?


Did you move about the promenade?


Other people walked about the promenade?


Great numbers?

Great numbers towards the close of the evening.

And when you saw the place, as a rule was the house full?

Not at the beginning of the entertainment.

Did you go downstairs and see the stalls?

No, the place to which I confined my testimony was the 5s promenade.

You do not know anything about the stalls or the boxes?

My other witnesses will give you information on that point.

Mr. Bull: I was not clear upon the question addressed to the last witness as to whether there was accosting. Did you see anyone absolutely accosted?

[46] The last witness did not say she absolutely saw anyone accosted in the way of speaking, but she told there were two or three ways of accosting. But I go further and I say I saw absolute accosting. I may also say I myself was accosted by men (laughter). This [is] nothing to laugh at gentlemen. You should be ashamed of that. [Mr. McDougall, crossed out in manuscript] (Hear Hear.)

The Chairman: In what part of the theatre did this conduct of which you complain take place?

In the promenade which I paid 5s to go into the unreserved seats upstairs.

In the promenade - not in the part that was seated?

No, I noticed particularly that there were no women whom one would imagine belonged to a certain class in the stalls or seat at any one time in the performance with two exceptions and that was when on two occasions two of these painted and gaily dressed women came and forcibly sat down between men where there was very little space on that unreserved row in which I was sitting. But that was the only time on which I saw any of them in the stalls or seats at all.

It was mostly in the promenade?

Almost entirely in the promenade.

Where did that incident take place?

In the promenade. May I just say for [47] the credit of that or the two gentlemen, that they both apologised when they looked into the face of the woman whom they had accosted.

Mr. Leon: May I ask Mrs. Chant whether she would be satisfied if the promenade were done away with in this particular place?

I should be very glad indeed to see the promenade done away with.

Do you see any objection to the rest of the house?

If there could be some terms about the modification of the ballet.

The Chairman: Now Mrs. Chant, you can call the remainder of your evidence.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: May I now call upon Mrs. Sheldon Amos to corroborate some of the statements I have made.

--- Mrs. Sheldon Amos, called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I understand you have been to the Empire Theatre?


Will you tell us when?

For the purpose of this enquiry I am prepared to give evidence as to two visits - Thursday and Friday the 4th and 5th of October.

Is it your impression that the promenade is used nightly as a resort for prostitutes?

Distinctly so.

[48] Will you kindly tell these gentlemen your reasons for saying so?

The first night I went there a little after the performance had begun and I went to the 5s seat and I found sitting there a girl whose character I thought doubtful. I therefore went and sat down beside her, being aware that perhaps my appearance would not be pleasant to a woman who was there for purposes I disapproved. She moved away at once and I watched her throughout the evening. Her conduct I should say was distinctly that of a person endeavouring to make arrangements with different men. I cannot say with  whom she went away. In the course of the evening these seats filled gradually. The promenade was very nearly empty at first and did not fill up so as to be well filled until just before about the time of the living pictures.

What time was that?

I should say about a quarter past 9, but I cannot tell. I had no watch on and did not look at the time - had no means to knowing exactly. Therefore I can best denote it by what was then going on on the stage. The lights were then lowered and it seemed to me at once that it was a known time and that more women and more men came into the  [49] promenade and I observed familiarity of conduct on the part of both the men and the women. Later on I myself left my seat and went into the promenade standing at point after point in order to watch what was going on, and I have no doubt as to its being a resort of women who are commonly called prostitutes, and of men who are of the same class.

Will you tell us what makes you think that these women were prostitutes?

Their dress, their manner, and their actual accosting of men and the scraps of conversation which I overheard.

Did you hear any bargains made?

I heard two or three in progress.

Did you hear the girls ask the men to treat them to drink?

I think in only one case actually asking for drink.

Did you notice whether they went into the stalls?

I should say I heard offers of drink made to women.

Did you notice whether they went into the stalls and watched the performance?

The next night I think there were three or four sitting in the stalls at first who got up and went into the promenade as the evening grew on and when when I should say their business hour arrived.

[50] You did not notice them return to the stalls?

No. Otherwise I should say the occupants of the stalls were respectable people.

Is it your impression that the majority of them kept to the promenade?

Solely to the promenade and in the promenade they paid no attention to the performance.

Were you much in the promenade?

Yes, a good deal the first night and rather less the second time.

Are there parts of the promenade from which the performance is not at all visible?

I should think a large proportion of the promenade. The people standing just in front of the promenade and wishing to see could see easily. The people walking about and casually looking, unless they were very tall, I think would not be able to see. The persons sitting on benches at the back could not see at all.

Have you been to many places of amusement of this kind?

"Many" is a very indefinite word. I have been to several.

Have you been to Operas and Theatres and Music Halls.


Is it your impression that the Empire is better or worse than most of those to [51] which you have been in this respect of the conduct of the women that are called prostitutes?

I think it the worst place that I know in civilised countries.

May I ask you now to tell those gentlemen your reasons for thinking that parts of the stage performance are indecent. Will you tell them about the dances?

On the whole I should say the dances are designed in order to excite impure thought and passions. There is a very great deal of high kicking and exposure of the person. There she dressed very carefully arrangement to call attention to parts of the figure which ought not to have attention called to them, and the skirts are a great deal too short and there are gestures which are improper and there are even whole parts of the exhibition which seemed to me ought not to be allowed from beginning to end.

Was it your opinion that during the darkening of the theatre for the living pictures the conduct was more than it was before?

Yes, I thought so.

If you have any other points will you state them.

I do not think I have anything else.

I am not asking any more questions of you because I wish to be as brief as possible with the other witnesses that are coming and I wished you merely corroborate [52] what I have stated by your impression of these women.

I think I had better just do what you want me to do.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

Just a word or two about the entertainment. You went there, I understand, on two occasions.


Did you carefully look at the entertainment?

I looked at the entertainment more the second time than the first. That was why I was a shorter time in the promenade the second time. But altogether I tried to keep my eye upon it.

The second time?

Both times.

Did you understand you to say it is the worst thing of the kind you ever saw in a civilised country?

I think so, taking everything together.

You have had experience both in civilised and uncivilised countries?

It is rather difficult to define civilised. I meant in European countries rather.

It is the worst entertainment you have seen in a European country?


Let us see about the entertainment - the variety part of it - did you object to that?

I do not know how to draw the line. I thought the whole thing was a variety entertainment.

You know there are a good many people who come on and sing. Did you object [53] to that?

Some of them, I think, are objectionable but I am not prepared to go into details of that. I think if I had the program in five minutes I could make it a respectable performance by cutting out certain parts and the lengthening of certain dresses.

You have not had any experience of providing entertainments for the public?

Not at all. I may be rash [?hard to read this word?] therefore.

Taking the entertainment generally, with regard to the people who came on and sang, do you take exception to that?

It was more on vulgarity than indecency.

All cannot be refined. So much for the singing. The living pictures. Did you take any exception to them?


Then there remains the ballet. What ballet did you see?

I saw "La Frolique."

You did not see the ballet of "The girl I left behind me"?


I do not know whether you have heard that described as being extremely wicked? You did not see that al all?

No, I did not see that. I understood it was taken off as the licensing session was coming on.

What was there in that ballet different from the ballet you would see at an opera?

Oh, it is far less carefully arranged; far [54] less properly arranged; far less decently arranged. I think the Opera ballet might be made far better but I think this needs it more.

You would improve that off the face of the stage?

Not off the face of the stage. I should improve it.

Let them dance in long dresses?

Let them dance in longer dresses.

You have seen people dance in long dresses, I daresay, abroad.


You think that is less objectionable?


Now is there in the ballet any particular matter that attracted your attention?

I objected very much to the dress that are made all in strips which float and fly about leaving the figure more noticeable than it would be without.

You mean the leg exposed?

The whole figure. That is one thing.

That you take exception to?


Is there anything else that occurs to you, that you would take exception to supposing you had the arrangement of the program.

I think it was not in the ballet, but I have a difficulty in remembering the program enough; but there was a person who came on - a sort of comic acrobat: there were two together. [55] One was dressed as a woman and the other was dressed as a man. I mean to say they wished to produce the impression that they were a man and a woman I suppose, or else not to produce that impression; and one of them, who purported to be a woman, was dressed in flesh coloured tights and a short scarlet skirt and the dress and gestures in that case were very objectionable.

You would object, I daresay, to a man taking a woman's part?

It would depend upon how it was done.

Have you been to a pantomime?

Oh, many years ago.

You have seen the dancing there?

I have no memory of it at all. I am not awake on these subjects.

Did you go by arrangement with Mrs. Chant?

No, I knew Mrs. Chant was going to conduct this case and I went there for the purpose of giving evidence.

Evidence hostile to the place.

I will not say that. I do not accept that. Evidence hostile to that which is indecent and improper in the place. I am very anxious to have entertainments for the people.

Are you connected with any societies that Mrs. Chant is connected with?

I should think I must be. I am [56] connected with so many and so is she.

You don't know where they begin or end?

It would be really difficult.

You do not yourself take so active a part as she does, do you? Do you speak yourself on these subjects?

Yes, I do. I have done for 25 years.

I understand on the first night of the entertainment you gave your attention to the audience. I

I gave my attention to both in both case - rather more to the promenade on the first night.

And you directed your attention, I thought, particularly to one lady?

No, I directed my attention to everybody I could as far as I could.

But you said you directed your attention particularly to one person.

I spoke of her as being there when I went in, that was all.

You did not see her go away?

I did not see her go away.

You would not throw any obstacle in the way of women going to a place of public amusement by themselves?

Nor men, if they behaved properly.

That is to say, not to interfere with either.

It is very difficult to define that: it would take a week to do it.

But so long as they do behave properly you would not interfere with them.


[57] And I suppose you would not deny a woman of immoral character amusement?

Not if they behaved properly.

A woman of immoral character has as much right to go to a place of public entertainment as any other woman?

I should think so.

You would not cut them off.

You are asking questions very difficult to answer because they require a volume to answer them. You ask me to give in two or three words what wants a long conversation and therefore I rather decline to answer the question without being able to give you the surrounding considerations.

It is a wide subject.

Yes, I think a question which can hardly be answered in the witness box.

Broadly speaking you would allow a woman of immoral character amusements?

Broadly speaking I should allow men and women of bad character to go where they will behave themselves properly and will not get harm from what they go to see.

And you give to one sex as much right to do it as the other?

I do not think it is a question of right.

That would apply whether it was a place of amusement or a restaurant or whatever [58] it was?

All I desire to see if society conduct itself properly and happily.

How would you decide whether a woman was conducting herself properly or not?

You are asking really about the Empire Theatre and what happened there. Where I see open accosting -

Let us forget, if we can, the Empire Theatre for a moment and take an ordinary place of entertainment.

Then I should say the question is too large to be answered here.

We are agreed women can dress as they please - you would not interfere with their dress.

I should if it is undesirable.

You would interfere with the dress of the audience?

If people dress unsuitably?

Mr. Bull: I should like to repeat the same question I asked before: Did you see anyone accosted there?




Definite instances of women accosting men who were strangers?

Yes, unmistakeably.

Where did you see them accost?

In the promenade - one woman standing beside me.

Spoke to a man?

[59] Yes.

--- Mr. Shelton Collin, called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Will you kindly tell these gentlemen what was your impression about the promenade of the Empire Theatre as a place of nightly visit for the purpose of prostitution? When did you visit the Empire?

I visited it a great many times - probably 20 times - during the last 3 or 4 months and the circumstances of all these visits are so much alike in many cases that I have sifted the whole thing down so that very little will be repeated and I think if I just read to the Committee the facts without any comments, then the Committee could see if I was repeating anything and stop me and then I would go on to the next point. But on the several visits there were facts of a different kind and it is necessary to go through pretty fully the whole because these facts are germaine to the issue. You can judge for yourself Mr. Chairman as I go along [60]

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: If it is your pleasure, Mr Collin has written down his facts, and it will save time.

Mr. Gill: One can hardly conceive anything more objectionable than such a course, but I know the difficulty of objecting to anything of the kind.

The Chairman: I agree with you. [To the witness] You must give your evidence.

Mr. Collin: It amounts to the same thing, Mrs. Chant has a copy of the evidence and if she takes her copy we shall simply double time.

The Chairman: You must give your evidence in the usual way.

The Witness: Then I must say that I have been at the Empire as many a time as I have said - perhaps 20 in all - sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied - in three parts of the house - that is on the floor in the front seats, in the grand circle in the 3s. seats, in the box stalls the 5s. seats; and my evidence will chiefly relate to the grand circle up above the box stalls and to the stage. In regard to the stage I may say briefly that I think the ladies have said exactly what is right about it. The performance for the most part is objectionable, and I would go further than that, and say that individual items in the variety entertainment are objectionable. Dutch Daly's performance is [61] objectionable. The performance of a woman who introduces the names of Lord Rosebery and Sir. Wm. Harcourt and Mr. Gladstone into a very objectionable and indecent song is also offensive; and there are others - the case which is spoken to by Mrs. Amos. These individual items are indecent. There is innuendo in them; they is indelicacy. The dancing is also vulgar and indecent. It is not artistic; it is not pretty.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Please begin with the promenade and tell me was your impression about that?

The promenade I have been in as many times as I have been there, and it is always rather loosely occupied - I mean rather meagrely occupied - until about 9 o'clock, and then it beings to fill up. Later on the Crowd is a surging crowd on almost every night, and only the fringe of those who are standing  by the balustrade can possibly see the stage. I counted on one night the number of women there in the different sections of the house all of whom were of doubtful character. There were 170 women at one time in the box stalls and the grand circle and the large bar overlooking Leicester Square, and at the same moment I was not in the American bar, which judging by other occasions would be equally full. I should say there were 180 [62] women in these two sections on one night when I counted at 11 o'clock. The women go alone and in pairs. They sit down immediately on the lounges, where they cannot see the stage. If we had a plan here I could show the Committee how large a space there is in the Empire from which the stage cannot possibly be seen - as much [--illegible--] out from the stage as if it were in another in another building or in the street. And the women go and stand in these places, drinking at the tables, go into the American bar, go into the large lounge overlooking Leicester Square, never for a moment taking any interest in the entertainment. The conversation that one hears is quite sufficient to stamp the character of the women. The invitations given to drink are sufficient. I have seen women go away on different nights with different men - woman who came in alone. I have seen them leaving in hansoms. The attendants invariably call hansoms. These woman are known to the attendants. see gentlemen in Court none who are always moving about in the crowd - connected with the management of the place. [-- can't make sense of this sentence --]
I have seen drunken men there and drunken women. On Monday last I called attention of the attendant to a drunken man drinking brandy which [63] had been served after he was obviously drunk. The attendant said that that was the business of the waiter, and not his. I have seen the police there, Constable 3 of the C Division, moving about one night a good deal. Last Saturday night Constable 4 of the C Division was in the house most of the time, and there cannot be a doubt in the mind of any one who knows the place at all that it is a show-place for this particular kind of thing, and is notoriously so throughout the whole country, and I imagine throughout the whole of Europe.

Have you yourself been accosted in any way?

Oh yes, every night - every night I have been there.

Will you tell the Committee if you saw the same women there night after night?

I know the women's faces now as well as I know the faces of these attendants who are here today and belong to the place. The same women go every night in many cases.

Will you kindly tell us what is your reason for thinking they belong to the call which you say they do. What makes you think a woman is a prostitute?

Oh, there is an unmistakeable stamp - their behaviour altogether.

It is not their dress?

[64] Their conversation.

Not their dress?

Not their dress, certainly, not in this case.

Nor the painting?


Not that alone?

Not that all, necessarily.

Taken with their conduct, you say that a woman is a prostitute when she paints and dresses gaily and goes alone to a public place and behaves in a certain way with men.

Yes, and when she uses indelicate language with men and lurks about in public places of entertainment with one man and another on the same evening and goes away eventually with a third man.

Have you watched the performances? Have you any opinion about the indecent or objectionable nature of them?

Yes, I have a very strong opinion about it.

Will you give me one or two reasons for your opinion?

In both ballets - both "The girl I left behind me" and "La Frolique" the high kicking dancing is very bad indeed. It is accompanied by gestures and suggestion and mock disgust on the part of the people who are taking part on the stage, at which is supposed to be exposed.

Will you give us an instance?

The character that takes La Frolique - the whole ballet of La Frolique is based on [65] suggestiveness. The authorities in the town determine to prohibit an objectionable dance, and they send the gendarmes to stop the dance. Instead of carrying out their orders they become infected with the dance and abandon themselves to the atmosphere, and there is a very indelicate scene indeed, concluding by one of them women putting her foot up on the man's hand, and as the drop scene goes down he holds her foot up very disgustingly high, and the soldier comes and puts his cap on the foot, and then turns his head away as much as to say "Too much": he cannot look at that sort of thing. That is the atmosphere of the Empire. That is the spirit of the Empire from beginning to end.

May I ask you whether you were struck with the fact that the attendants seemed to know the girls in the promenade?

Yes, the attendants in some cases are on rather jovial terms with the women who go there frequently.

Have you been in all parts of the Empire, or does this only concern the 5s. promenade?

Is concerns the 3s. promenade as much, and the American bar as much.

Have you been down in the 2s. seats - the lower part of the promenade?

I was in the pit once in my life and of course I saw nothing there except what was on stage.

[66] In the Empire?

In the Empire.

And you saw nothing there of what we complain?

Nothing except on the stage. I am not aware that there is a promenade down in the pit. I could not say.

Have you any other points to give these gentlemen?

I was there on Monday night, and found things as bad as ever, and a new ballet up on Monday night, with distinctly objectionable features again - high kicking and the premiere danseuse as bad as ever.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

You say you saw a man served there who was under the influence of drink?

More than once. I have often seen men drunk there.

You know there is a very simple means of testing a question of the kind by taking out a summons before a magistrate?

I know it is not such a simple means at all.

You know it can be done?

Yes, I know it can be done, and I know certain people who ought to do it and do not do it.

You know that if it was done, then you would have to give evidence on oath.

I am quite aware of that.

But there is no provision for your [67] doing so here,

I should not object to give evidence on oath here today.

Do you remember the magistrate pointing out to you "If you are making a complaint against licensed premises, the proper course would to take out a summons."

I knew that long before the magistrate made the remark, that it was a course, but not, the more convenient or the more desirable.

I am reading from one of your own publication, for I will ask you in a moment whether it is not one of your publications, "The proper course would have been by summons under the Licensing Act, where the whole matter could be enquired into." Do you remember being that by the Justices?

Yes, and  I knew at the time, that I had found out a better way.

You know a better way?

Yes, a better way - much more effective.

The magistrates dismissed your opposition?

One does not attach much importance to what certain magistrates do at all.

You do not attach much importance?

To what some magistrates do. I have had a large experience of magistrates.

You know what they are?

Yes, I know pretty well what they are.

These magistrates that you are now speaking of were magistrates in the County of London?

[68] Yes.

In fact, the St. James's Bench?


Baron de Worms was the Chairman who told you what you ought to do.

Yes, he was. Therefore I was not much surprised.

Now as you have given your opinion about magistrates, let us know something about who you are. What is your occupation?

I am a merchant.

That is a wide description.

I am a tea merchant.

Where do you carry on your business?

In Mincing Lane, and Liverpool and other towns.

We will deal with Mincing Lane first. What are your premises there?

21 Mincing Lane.

What have you got there?

An office, a tasting room.

Do you mean a room there?

An office.

Do you mean a room?

I mean a room.

That is what you have got there?


How many other people have got the room?

No one else.

How many names are there on the door?

 I am connected with all the firms whose are on the door.

How many names are there on the [69] door of this one room where you carry on your business?

There are four names.

What are they - 4 different firms or held out to the public as four different firms?

No, they are 4 different firms in a sense, but they have all business relationships, and I am interested in them.

We have heard of firms that have different names. Let us understand. There is one room?


Have you got your name there?


How are you described?

D. Shelton Collin & Co. - my own name with "Company".

Is there another firm on the same door or Pegram & Co?


Another firm of James Pegram & Co?


Another firm of Alfred Cales and Co.


And then you say there is Shelton Collin & Co. What does the staff of all these firms consist of - a boy?

Of about -

What does the staff consist of at Mincing Lane, the place I am enquiring about?

At Mincing Lane, a salesman and [70] an assistant buyer.

All in this one room.

You must remember you are dealing with -

I am dealing with the address you have given on this notice of opposition. Do you live in Liverpool?

I live in Southport.

Have you got time to look after the morals of London as well as Liverpool?

I am in town once a week, sometimes twice. I have other businesses in London, Mr Gill is dealing with firms with 200 or 300 men - one of the largest firms in the country, only he does not know it.

Do you say that you visit London once a week?


Then do you go to the Empire every night you come to town?


How many times in the year?

I have told you.

You have not, or if you have repeat it.

I have been, I should say, nearly 20 times during the last 3 months.

Then may I take it during the last 12 week you have come to town more than once a week?

Occasionally I have been in town two nights a week, 3 nights in a week.

[71] Where do you live at Liverpool?

Southport. I do not live at Liverpool.

I suppose you have a Vigilance Committee there?

A very good one.

And you are no doubt an active member of it?

I am supposed to be.

Surely it must be the Vigilance Committee that prosecuted "Pick-me-up".

The Vigilance Committee had nothing to do with the prosecution of Pick-me-up. It was the Chief Constable of Liverpool that prosecuted Pick-me-up.

Set in motion by whom?

Set in motion by the police themselves or by the editor of a paper.

Do you mean to say that your Committee were not parties to that transaction?

Knew nothing about it.

Took no part in it?

Took no part in it.

What are you in the Vigilance Committee there - Chairman or what?

I am a member of the Executive.

Do you belong to a Vigilance Committee in London as well?


Connected with the National Vigilance?


Did you appear with Mr. Coote at the St. James's Licensing Meeting?

[72] Yes.

You and Mr. Fish?


You say, as I understand that you have been to the Empire 20 times in three months - is that what you say?

I won't swear to the number but it must be nearly 20. It is considerably over 12.

Did you keep a record of the number of times you went there?

More or less.

Did you keep a record of any kind?

If I have visited it on an important occasion, I have made notes.

Have you got any notes made during the last 3 months?

Do you mean note made at the time?


No, not here.

With regard to the women that have seen there, you say that they are immoral women?

And immoral men.

With regard to the immoral women, would you prevent them going to a place of entertainment?

It would depend,

I have asked you this before.

No, you have not.

At the St. James's meeting. I ask you now.

[73] You did not ask me that question.

Perhaps it was your friend Mr. Fish. Just tell me. Would you prevent immoral women going to places of public entertainment?

Not because they were immoral women, no. The law differentiates among women.

You would not prevent their going.

I would not prevent a solitary women or a number of women going for the purposes of seeing the entertainment. It would all depend upon the facts.

What is it that you would prevent their doing - soliciting?


Is there anything but solicitation you would prevent?

I would prevent disorderly behaviour.

Do you tell this Committee that you saw any disorderly behaviour at the Empire?

I saw a very great deal of disorderly behaviour at the Empire every time I went.



Do you mean soliciting in the sense of a woman speaking to a man?

Occasionally - often.

Which is it?

I wish you to understand that I -

Which is it?

That I mean oftener than I [74] first said.

Oftener than you said?

When I corrected my answer I meant that I had seen it oftener than just a moment before it occured to me I had seen it.

Do you know whether the women knew the men or not?

In many cases I should say they did. In many cases they did not.

How did you know the difference between the women who knew the men and those who did not?

When the men and women knew each other, or when I thought they knew each other, they approached each other in a familiar manner which would hardly have been possible had they not met on previous occasion.

Have you made a special study of this subject?

Not more than the state of Society has compelled me to make.

You mean your anxiety about the state of Society?

If you have a mind to put it in that way.

Do I understand you to say that you have made a special study of what amounts to accosting?

No, not a special study - not more than most men, I should say, who keep their eyes open.

How did you know the difference between [75] the women who knew men and the women who did not?

If I saw a man and woman meet each other as though they had been old acquaintances, I took it they had met before. But if I saw a woman sidle up to a man and elbow him, and ogling him, and not getting into conversation for 5 or 10 minutes, I took it they had not met before.

That is what you have stayed there to watch?

That is what I have seen without watching and what anybody else could see without watching.

Is that what you have gone to see?

No, I have gone to see the state of things there. I should have been better pleased to have given the place a good report.

Have you gone to see that, or gone to see the entertainment?

For the purpose of seeing the entertainment - I have never gone actually for that special purpose.

Has it always been the same , what you have seen?

Yes, I may say the first time I went it was quite a casual visit and it was what I saw then that led me to go again and take an interest in it.

And it has always been the same?

Always the same.

[76] You went 20 times in 3 months. How many times have you been there the last 12 months?

Before I made my purpose to investigate the state of things there, I think I had only been there once or twice.

How many times have you been there altogether?

Well, if we were to say 18 times during the last 3 months. I should just have to add two other occasions.

During the last year?

Yes, during the whole of my life.

Alderman Beachcroft: Do you know whether the women who go to the Empire pay for their admission 5s. apiece?

Alderman Russell: As I understand on the occasions of those visits there you were accosted yourself?

Well, every night one has to get out of the way of women who come to stand up against one, and try to put themselves in one's way. One has to get away to prevent being made uncomfortable or the women accosting.

You are no addressed by them?

Not directly spoken to.

Mr. Torr: May I ask did these women that you saw come in at the ordinary entrance with the other spectators, as far as you could tell?

[77] Yes.

Have you stood at the entrance to see them come in?

Yes, and to see them go out. I have spent an evening inside and they come out in the middle of the entertainment with men and get into hansoms which are hailed by the attendants and drive off.

The Chairman: Have you any more witnesses?

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: There are more witnesses. It depends upon whether you gentlemen feel you have heard enough.

The Chairman: That is for you to decide.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I think it might be well to ask one more witness to give testimony as to the indecency on the stage as shortly as possible.

--- The Revd. J.Brooks called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Will you kindly tell these gentlemen what has been your experience at the Empire. There are two points upon which we are opposing the licence - the prostitutes in the promenade and the indecency of parts of the performance. Will you just very briefly lay before them either of these points or both?

I corroborate all that has been said with regard to the entertainment, I think there were parts of it which were decidedly beautiful and entertaining in the highest degree, and it seemed to me that those parts were just the parts that were most applauded and most appreciated [78] by those who seemed to go there to see the entertainment and be amused. The parts of it to which I took special exception are the parts to which other witnesses have already given their evidence. Just with regard to the two ballets - the first one especially - the dancing of the premiere danseuse was especially, I think, indecent and suggestive. Not only was the length of the dress very short indeed, but her actions were such that the dress stood at right angles to her body, and with regard also to the amount of covering on those that took part in that ballet and the other I think it was obnoxious and hurtful in the highest degree, not only to those who took part in the entertainment, but also to those who witnessed it. I directed my attention more especially to the performance, because at that time of the evening, from 8 o'clock on to 9 or a quarter past, there was very little to be seen objectionable in any degree in the promenade. The promenade seemed to get most crowded from 9 o'clock onwards and before I left, which was about 11 o'clock, it was so crowded that it was with the greatest difficulty I could pass along. I have walked the streets of London a great many times and have noticed the women who promenade up and down Regent Street and Piccadilly from 11 o'clock on to 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning [79] and the women whom I saw on the promenade were, so far as I could judge by observation, of the same sort of character, and were going on in the same sort of way. I was not solicited myself (Laughter). Well I do not know why you should laugh, because I did not go dressed as a clergyman. I have been solicited be it paid to our shame, in the public streets dressed as a clergyman, but I did not go dressed as a clergyman on that occasion, because I thought I should not be able to see much evidence worth offering to the Committee. I went dressed as a layman on that occasion and the only remark I had address to me by a woman was "Why do you look so sad?". I think almost it would be a wonder if I did not look sad when I saw what went on in front and behind me. That is all the evidence I wish to give.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

Do you know the Vicar of the parish there?


You do not know his name, I dare say.

No, I do not know his name.

Do you hold services in the street?

I can answer the question but I do not see what on earth it has to do with the case.

Never mind. Answer the question.

[80] Then I refuse to answer it.

Do you parade the street at 12 o'clock at night with surplices on?


Did anybody else assist you in that?

Yes, the young men who form my choir.

Go abroad in surplices at 12 o'clock at night?

We have very good reason to.

The Chairman: Are you a clergyman of the Church of England?

I am.

Have you a church in the neighbourhood?

No, my parish is in St Silas, Islington.

You are the vicar?

No, I am not. I am senior curate.

Mr. Gill: You are the founder of what is called the White Cross League?

Oh no. I wish I were.

Is the White Cross League your league?

How do you mean my league?

Is it the league you are concerned with or connected with?

I do no think I am a member of the White Cross League?

You do not know?

It is a matter of detail with regard to giving in your name. I do the White Cross work, if that is important.

That is what I want.


--- Mr. J.K. Livesey called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Have you visited the Empire Theatre?

[81] Yes, several times.

Where do you live?

I live at Waterloo, near Liverpool. I am the representative of a tea firm.

Will you tell these gentlemen what you have seen on your visits to the Empire first of all in the promenade.

Speaking generally of the promenade, when I have got there about a quarter to 9, there have not been very many in the promenades, but by half past 9 both in the grand circle promenade which is 3s., and in the 5s., the one below there have been more. By 9.30 there would be a good many man and a good many women - women whom I should have no hesitation, in my experience in walking about the streets, and what I have come across in life, in considering as of the prostitute class. I simply say that of the promenade only - the promenade and the bar - apart from the seats.

You saw none of these women in the seats?

I cannot say none, but as regards the back seats of the promenade, when there was a vacancy there, perhaps towards the close of the performance, they would take a seat there - people had been walking about in the promenade.

That is to say you did not see take place in the seats what you saw take place in the promenade?

[82] No.

Have you any experience of the behaviour of these women?

On one occasion I went with a friend into one of the bars and we sat down at the only vacant table, and I saw a girl look at me and I took not the slightest notice. But before she passed out of the bar she came and stood with her hands on the table between me and my friend. But she turned to me and said "Will you stand me a drink?" I said, "no." She said, "Are you too fool?" I simply replied, "Too good for that, I hope." She then passed on. That was the only personal accosting that I have met with.

What struck you about this conduct?

Their lounging about from 9 o'clock until the performance is over at half past 11 and constantly going to the bar and sometimes wandering about for a long time and finding gentlemen. Then I would see a particular lady that I had noticed walking alone, and would find her in the bar sometimes with two gentlemen.

What was your impression of the ballet of the dancing on the stange, and of what we call indecency in the performance?

As regards "La Frolique", I support Mr. Collin's opinion - that is is not fit for any stage. The insinuations are not good. What struck me more particularly [83] was "The Girl I left behind me" where the girl indulges in high kicking. She faces two men that are dressed as soldiers, and she puts her foot above the level of her head, and the leering manner in which they turn away their faces - it is too suggestive for a public performance.

Have you anything more to state?

I cannot state anything beyond what has been already stated.

What would be your reason for classing these women as prostitutes?

Simply general observation and seeing them leering and looking at men as they passed by and from the fact that they went to walk in the promenade, and did not take seats.

There is no doubt in your mind that these women behaved and dressed in a way that ordinary respectable people would not do?

Certainly, especially women dressed as they are dressed. They were dressed  very nicely, some of them. Undoubtedly lady like women would not parade the place and do as they do.

Was it your opinion that they did not seem to pay any attention to the stage performance?

I was very much struck with that. Some of the people might by leaning on the back of the last seat see the performance. But just behind them women [90] would be standing - simply watching them pass to and fro. Then also I have seen them sit a long long time - the same women - on the seats at the back - where they could see nothing but simply watch the audience pass to and fro, and make gestures with their eyes and call out to friends - persons who have seemed friends, and men evidently they knew.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

You say you are a traveller for a tea firm?


Where does the firm carry on business?

In London?


Fenchurch Street?


4 Fenchurch Street. The name is Francis Pick & Co.

You say you live in Liverpool.

Waterloo, 6 miles from Liverpool. My business office is 7 North John Street.

In Liverpool?

In Liverpool.

And may I take it your business is entirely in Liverpool?

It is not.

Where do you travel?

I come down as near as Cheltenham.

Does your business take you any nearer London than that?

I shall have to think. I do not think so. Yes, I go to Bedford. [85] That is a little nearer.

Have you any place of residence in London?


Then how is it that you are interested in this matter - as a visitor to London?

Largely so, yes. Had I not been a visitor to London I should not have been in the matter.

What is it brings you to London? That is what I want to know.

Oh, to see my people - to see the people whom I represent.

How often do you come up?

I like to come once in 6 weeks. Sometimes I come once a month.

About 12 times a year?

Half a dozen times or so.

How often have you been to the Empire?

I cannot tell you. Several times.

Can you tell me how often you have been to the Empire?

No, I cannot.

You have no idea?

I have been there several times. I have been there more than 3 times, perhaps more than 5.

But the visits have no made sufficient impression on you to say how many times?

I have not made a note, therefore they have not.

Do you know Mr Collin?

I do.

Are you a member of the Vigilance [86] Society in Liverpool?

I am -

Cannot you answer a perfectly simple question? Are you a member of a Vigilance Society?

I can if time is given but not if I am interrupted. I was asked if I was a member of a Vigilance Society and I had to think. I am not a member in the sense that Mr. Collin is, but I am a general member of a Society of which there are 300 or 400 people.

Of the same Society?

Of the same Vigilance Society.

When did you know of the opposition to the Empire?

I had hoped -

Can you answer a perfectly simple question? When did you know of the opposition to the Empire?

I cannot give you the date if I am to be so precise. I cannot give you the exact date.

Within the last few days or a month ago?

I should say possibly 3 months ago.

From whom did you learn?

From my friend Mr. Collin.

The Chairman: Have you any further evidence?

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I have a witness whom I have omitted to call because I thought he was going to make a separate statement, but he desires me to call [87] him; that is Mr. Fish.

--- Mr. Thomas Fish called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: You have been to the Empire Theatre?


How often?

Three times.

What is your impression about the promenade?

I can generally corroborate what the witnesses have said - that it is a fact it is a place frequented by women of doubtful character for the purpose of prostitution.

Will you give us your reasons for thinking them to be of doubtful character?

I arrived on the three evenings about the same time as the other witnesses, and I walked about. First of all I sat on the seats looking at the performance, and then I walked about the promenade. About 9 o'clock the women began to assemble, and towards 10 the place was crowded. I was accosted myself personally several times in a variety of manners. I saw a great number of women accosting other gentlemen who seemed to be perfect strangers. Then I saw them adjourn upstairs to have drink. Then on one night - the second night - I went in and out of Leicester Square several times by permission of the attendant. I saw several of these women that had been previously promenading - I saw them go into cabs with gentlemen [88] and drive off. On the third night - that was on the Saturday - I noticed at least a dozen women that I had seen on the previous Wednesday soliciting men. And I should like to say that I saw several men drunk on the Saturday. I must say on the Saturday there were several respectable women who had evidence come up from the country, and they were walking about the promenade.

That was on the Saturday night?

On the Saturday night. Three nights I went.

How did you know them to be respectable women?

They were there with either their sweethearts or their husbands. They came in with them. They came upstairs. They came into the performance arm in arm, or together. They were talking the whole time, and I did not see these women accosting any other women.

You did not see them go to the bar to have drinks?

I do not remember to have seen these whom I call respectable women go to the bar at all.

You saw women go away with men with whom they did not go into the theatre?

Yes I did.

Did you see them get into the hansom cabs and drive away together?

Yes I did.

What was your impression of the [89] behaviour  of the attendants to most of the women?

Evidently they were on very familiar terms.

You noticed that?

I noticed that. I also noticed that at the time when the pictures were on, and the lights wer down - I noticed on the three occasions I was present there was a great deal of pushing and talking, and several objectionable remarks made by the women, and by the men too. The men were just as bad. I noticed when the lights were low the attendants did not seem to check this. The attendants were moving in and out among the people. I do not remember that ever any of them spoke to the women at all.

You never saw an attendant call a woman to order?

I did not.

For their loud laughter?

Not once.

What is your impression about the performance on the stage? Mr. Collin has told you that he objected also to one or two of the songs in the variety part, besides the ballet as being objectionable and suggestive. What is your impression?

The first night I went I heard Dutch Daly. I thought some of his remarks were very indecent and improper. But I must say, Mr. Chairman, that I do not consider that I am competent [90] witness as to the performance. I went with an open mind, and I felt sure it was the question of the promenade that I ought to give my full attention to, and therefore I could not say very much about the performance.

Have you any further statement to make?

No, I have not.

Alderman Beachcroft: You say you were accosted on several occasions.

I was.

Will you tyell us what words were used by the women to you?

Many of them wished me good evening, and asked me whether I would take them to drink, and one of the women was rushing about and saying "do not look at the wicked pictures" when the lights were out. They seemed to roam among the audience and say "do not look at the wicked pictures". She particularly spoke to me.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

What part of London do you come from?

Finsbury Park.

And you I suppose are also a member of the Vigilance Committee.

A similar work.

Vigilance Committee?


That is the work you are engaged in?


What part of London do you direct your enquiries to - the whole of it [91] or any particular part of it?

North London generally.

You have been engaged in it for years I suppose?


You gave evidence, I think, with another witness before the St. James's Licensing Bench, did you not?

I did.

You speak of seeing person under the influence of drink. Was it pointed out to you on that occasion that the proper course was to take out a summons before a magistrate?

Are you referring to St. James's?


I do not think it was referred to.

You do not remember that?

I did not think that was particularly referred to.

Do you remember the Chairman saying that if there was cause of complaint that -

Cause of complaint with reference to prostitution but not for drinking.

For harbouring prostitutes?


But he pointed out to you that the proper course was to take out a summons before a magistrate?

He did.

The Chairman: You saw the St. James's Bench and did you state what you have stated here wit regard to prostitution?

It was as to the St. James's Hall.

[92] --- Miss Mary E, Phillips called and examined

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: You visited the Empire Theatre?

Yes, on the 14th September.

Is that the only time?

The only time.

What induced you to go?

Mrs. Bailache asked me to accompany her.

What was your impression about the promenade?

We went into the promenade at half past 10 and we remained there till 20 minutes past 11, and my impression was that with the exception of Mrs. Bailache and myself, and one women who passed through, the whole of the women there and most of them were persons of immoral character.

What makes you make such a statement?

Well, I have been a good deal accustomed to speak and deal with that class of women, and I have frequently spoken to them, and I have never made a mistake outside the Empire. There is a generaol carriage and manner which to those who are engaged in such work as I am is very unmistakeable. They were not attending to the performance at all. Many of them were standing - quite a row of them  - in a part where the performance could not be seen. Some were sitting and those who did turn towards the performance seemed not to be occupied with the performance, but with rather edging up to [93] some gentleman who was looking at it.

The fact of the matter is that you wish to convey the strong assertion that these women were wholly taken up with the men who were in the promenade?

Yes, if they turned their attention to anything they did.

Did they turn much attention to the men in the promenade?

We went in our ordinary dresses and we were so marked , and two men hustled me so, and one smoked to persistently in my face, it was extremely difficult to observe what was going on. Of course I felt if men would behave to an elderly lady in that way, they would behave rudely to a young lady.

You say you were so marked. Can you give evidence of what it means to be marked and followed?

I heard some men turn to the attendant and ask if they knew who these women were, who had been walking up and down, and the attendant apparently called out in a rather loud rude way, as though he wanted us to hear, "They have been walking up and down here: they don't seem to know their way in or out," or something of that kind he said.

Did you observe girls going up to men or being introduced to men by a [94] third person?

No, we were too closely watched ourselves for that. I saw one man making up to a woman in a way that gave the idea he was soliciting her. I did not see any women attempt more than pushing up a little and edging up to men and looking in their faces. I did not see anything more than that.

Were you able to see anything of the performance?

I watched the performance the whole of the time, till we went up into the promenade. The promenade was very crowded and you could hardly see anything of the performance unless you pushed to the front, from the promenade. I had never been in a regular theatre before. It was an astonishment to me that any English public would tolerate it. I think it is a disgrace to the whole nation that such a performance should be tolerated. I could not have believed it. I expected to see what I disapproved of, but certainly no imagination of mine reached anything of the disgustingness of some of the performances on that stage.

What was it you saw  on the stage that you particularly objected to?

Several of the figures were so clothed and their clothes so arranged that you could entirely see their figures. Those that had skirts on wore ribbons, but [95] more what one sees like the [--illegible - "beads" or "rends"?--] of savages than anything I can compare them to. Then of clothing there were some women apparently nude wrapped in gauze but I hardly think that was so objectionable as were their attitudes, and I think three who had longish skirts were almost more indecent than those that were unclothed, for they simply used their skirts for purposes of indecency. As I said before, I never could have believed that any English public would have tolerated such a thing.

You have had a good deal of experience in rescue work, I take it?

Perhaps you would call it a good deal - hardly as much as you have, I think.

Have you found that some of these young people are led into a life of shame by facilities of this character -

Mr. Gill: I have not objected to anything this lady has said, because I desired that she should have opportunity of saying anything she wished; but this is getting -

The Chairman: It is a very leading question.

The Witness: I think it may be taken for granted that everybody would understand that it would be so.

--- cross-examined by Mr. Gill

I understand this was about your first experience of a theatre?

I have seen parts of plays at the [96] Crystal Palace and that kind of thing.

It was your first experience of a theatre?

I have been to a Temperance meeting in a theatre - Covent Garden Theatre.

You have seen performances at temperance meetings, have you?

Yes, performances if you like to give a wide meaning to the word.

Do you come from Edmonton?


This was practically your first appearance in  a theatre.


And anything more terrible you never witnessed in your life. It was the most distressing thing that you ever had beheld.

Yes, my imagination had never reached it.

There was something apparently very distressing in the naked savage, but you say it would not have been worse than seeing this.

It was the seeing an Enlglishwoman exhibiting herself in that way for the purposes of indecency.

The form of women exposed at all is as very distressing thing?

Certainly not, under suitable conditions - under innocent conditions.

That depends in a very great measure upon the people who are looking on, does it not?

The Chairman: I understand your case is now concluded.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Yes.

[97] The Chairman: Now it is Mr. Gill's opportunity. You will be able to cross-examine Mr. Gill's witnesses.

Mr. Gill: I do not intend to avail myself at any length of the opportunity of addressing you upon this case. I should be quite willing to take any one of these witnesses who are called here for the purpose of giving evidence against this place of entertainment, and naturally the evidence of the witness last called is freshest in one's memory, and it certainly is an appalling condition of things when one realizes that it is possible that a body such as that I have the honour to address should be called upon to listen to such evidence - that is to say that a lady should come forward whom you have just seen in the witness box to tell you her experience of life has been such that she has seen practically nothing of theatrical entertainments except upon some occasions at the Crystal Palace or temperance meetings. Her visit to the Empire was practically the first time that she had been to a theatre, and she says that the performance and what she saw was so appalling that it went far beyond what her imagination could ever have pictured. Would it be too much to say that you have before you people of most violently extreme [98] views? People who are taking upon themselves - well-meaning people no doubt - the very onerous duty of arranging what entertainment should be offered to the people living in London or to people visiting London from different parts of the world. No single independent witness has been called before you. No witness who was not a person of the most extreme views - a band of them all closely connected together, all of exactly the same class - the class of persons who instead of attending to their affairs take upon themselves the responsibility of looking after the morals of others, and who will go the length of not merely attending to their own immediate neighbourhoods, and the places in which they live, but persons who come from places so far away as Liverpool, and who are taking upon themselves the duty of settling the kind of entertainments to be presented to London audiences. I submit to you that it is an extraordinary state of things that one shall have to listen to evidence of this kind at all. It is given in the most unsatisfactory way. I take no exception to any questions the lady asked, though the questions are ridiculous and absurd as questions which are asked for the purpose of getting reliable testimony; because although the questions put to the witnesses were "Was [99] your impression as the result of your visit so and so", of course if such a question were asked under other circumstances what would happen one can well imagine. But these people with minds made up - because they are persons who are prepared to see in entertainments that which is not apparent to the ordinary observer, and who go there, having talked this thing over - having discussed this at the house of Mrs. Chant, where from time to time consultation have apparently been held so that the form of attack should be decided upon, and each of them over the tea supplied I hope by one of those numerous firms which have their names on the door in Mincing Lane - over the tea so supplied they have discussed the form which their evidence will take, and each of them has given to the other his or her experience of this place, and one call well imagine how they have each view in telling stories so that each might have seen something which was worse than the other. If it was shown that the witnesses in a County Court case where the question was an accident with a tram car had in some room at a solicitor's office talked the matter over that they were going to give evidence about - if such a thing were once established the greatest discredit would at once [100] be thrown upon their evidence. These people have discussed this matter. That they all come in the same way and that they are speaking in the same words is shown most conclusively by the fact that Mr. Edwardes received 7 letters from different addresses, all couched in exactly the same language - word for word the same, though written upon different paper, and written by different persons, following to the very syllable the objection that is taking by these different people. This shows that it was a question of arrangement between them, and they are here all for the purpose of saying exactly the same thing with regard to this place.
    [101] Now what is it that they say? They attack the entertainment at this place. It is a very strong thing to do, that entertainment has been witnessed by an enormous number of people during the time this place has been licensed. There has been no difference in the class of entertainment that has been presented to the public. All that has been done there is this. Men with large capital - men with a knowledge of their business - men of great enterprise - have been lavish in their expenditure in putting upon the stage the best entertainment that money can possibly produce; and whether it was an acrobatic performance; whether it was a ballet;whether it was a juggler; whether it was a singer; they very best that was obtainable has always been found upon the Empire stage; with the result that during the years that this place has been licensed the place has been continually full; and to make reflections upon the entertainments upon that stage is as I said in another case, a reflection upon the persons who have gone to see that entertainment and who have gone over and over again. Members of the Royal Family have been there repeatedly as spectators of that entertainment. Members of both Houses have been there. Persons of all classes have been there and apparently it [102] has been largely visited by members of Vigilance Committees so much so that the gentleman from Liverpool, who pays these frequent visits to London to the office with so many names on the door, must have gone to the Empire every night he was in London; and one is somewhat surprised at the curious condition of the mind of a man who devotes himself to this sort of occupation, going there prying and watching, looking at everything from the point of view of seeing whether he can get hold of something that is objectionable in an entertainment which is of course open to everybody and which is witnessed by persons of every class and which is criticised by every journal.  Now here, with regard to this entertainment, what suggestion is there that there has ever been placed upon that stage any ballet or any singer or any performance of any sort or kind to which the slightest exception could be taken? Of course it is unnecessary for me to tell you that the practice is adopted here that is adopted at other places of keeping a record of the criticisms passed upon the different entertainments; and with regard to one matter that is introduced her, the ballet called "The girl I left hind me", ut us really almost inconceivable that persons could be found to come here and take exception to that entertainment. If any [103] of the Committee saw that entertainment - and I hope they did - if they saw it once I am certain they saw it upon many other occasions. But how any human being could come forward and say that in the ballet of "The girl I left behind me" there was anything to take exception to of any sort of kind I cannot conceive. I am indeed very much in the position of the lady who was last called. My imagination cannot grapple with the situation: it goes far beyond anything that I could possibly look forward to or could possibly suppose to be the case.
     With regard to the ballet here produced at great cost; the best dancers procurable secured for the purpose of the entertainment; the dresses designed by persons of the greatest possible skill and the greatest possible taste; with the result that a spectacle is there to be seen which no place in Europe can equal; and as to the evidence of these people who come and see something that is objectionable in an entertainment of that kind, it is not difficult to understand that if their minds are in that condition they see in the audience and see in the conduct of persons  that they are brought into contact with that which is not observable to the ordinary spectator. One of the children performing in the [104] Shaeffer troupe - a troupe that any person who has been to places of entertainment for years past must have seen - a troupe which all the time it is on stage is received with thunders of applause - applause from every part of the house - unceasing applause; and looking at the family which has been brought up to the calling of acrobats or athletes, it only would require the slightest observation to see that to suggest that there was anything damaging to them in that which they were performing is the idlest possible nonsense; that it is a statement absolutely without foundation and that their performance is in every way without objection. Now so much for the entertainment. What is produced there is the subject of careful consideration: whether it is the ballet, or whether it is the living pictures, or the persons that are engaged, the greatest possible care is taken by the management with regard to the entertainment of the public.
     With regard to the place what is it that is said? It is said that in parts of the house - in the promenade - persons of objectionable character are to be found. Now where is the independent evidence with regard to this? I am not going to say for a moment that there are [105] no persons of immoral character in the promenade of the Empire. But what I do say is that: that to any place of entertainment persons of immoral character are perfectly entitled to go and going there are not and ought not to be interfered with so long as they conduct themselves properly in that place of entertainment. Now, here there has not been the slightest complaint of any sort or kind with regard to the conduct of the spectators - with regard to the conduct of the persons in that place of entertainment - made during the time that has elapsed since this licence was renewed by the County Council. Now if there was the slightest ground for supposing that there was truth in the statement that persons were served there who were under the influence of drink - that prostitutes were harboured in the sense of being served at the bars, and that a nuisance was therefore created - surely an enquiry with regard to that should take place before a magistrate who could take evidence which is really evidence - that is to say, a definite positive statement of the individual who takes upon himself the responsibility of saying, "I  saw this  take place" and of giving an account of when it took place so that that evidence [106] could be reduced to writing in order that the person upon whom the reflection is made might have an opportunity of answering it. That is surely the desirable course to take; and I submit to you it is clear when such statement are made that they are statement without foundation - that they must be so; that as a matter of ordinary precaution in an establishment of this kind, persons would not be served when under the influence of drink and that to assert the contrary is a statement that carries with it a denial: that is it no possible that such things should take place. But if anything of the kind takes place, what is more simple than to draw the attention of some official or police constable to it? Is it to be said that everyone is false to the duties they have to discharge: that no one is to be trusted? Reflections are made here upon a Bench of Magistrates; and one of these gentlemen who takes upon himself the guidance of us all with regard to morality speaks lightly of the honesty of magistrates. Is the same sort of criticism to be passed upon all persons who have duties to discharge - upon the persons who are employed at a place of this kind - [107] upon all the police? Are they all people who are unreliable, and do these people stand alone as honest people in this great city? As one lady said, "With the exception of myself and my friend, every man and women in the place was an immoral person. That shows the Christian spirit: that shows the class of persons who give utterance to such statements.
     Now the Empire authorities have taken every possible precaution. They have acted in this year as upon other occasions - that is to say, no woman has been allowed in  that place to misconduct herself in any way. No woman who is known as a woman walking the streets or who may be identified as a prostitute has been allowed into the place. A large number of women undoubtedly from time to time come in there but there is no attempt upon their part to solicit men in the place; and if anything of the kind takes place - either an act of solicitation by a woman to a man or an act of solicitation by a man to a woman - at once the thing is stopped and the women prevented from going there and prevented from going there ever afterwards: with the result that nothing of the kind does in fact take place - no solicitation in the sense of persons speaking. If you ask whether persons look at one another or whether there is some definition of [108] solicitation which is the result of long study by people who have given their attention to matters of this kind, that is a matter no Board of Management can deal with. It is impossible that they can deal with it. All they can deal with is to see that their instructions are carried out with regard to the general character of the audience. And a very difficult matter it is.
     In this place there are paid in wages, during the course of the year, between £70,000 and £80,000 - a very large sum which gives employment to an enormous number of people. There are nearly 700 people employed there and numbers of other people are dependent upon those who are employed there and very large capital is embarked in such an enterprise. It is to the interest of those who are concerned in a matter of this kind, to take every precaution that is possible. What are they to do? This is a very difficult matter to exercise right discretion as to how an individual should be dealt with. A lady not very long ago was spoken to there with regard to her dress. She resented it and within a few minutes an American gentleman demanded to see the person who has responsible for his wife being spoken to. Instances of that kind have occurred, and have [109] occurred as a the result of attention being attracted to women in the place who have been spoken to. A very difficult duty it is for persons to discharge who are looking after the government of this place and the conduct of the persons in the house.
     Now these witnesses go so far as to say this, that women should be allowed to go a place of entertainment as much as men. They accept that position. That they may go unaccompanied by men. They accept that position. There is no suggestion here, of course,  that women are allowed to go into the place who do not pay for that any woman going there does not pay for the purpose of going into the place. Now if you get an admission that women are to have the same rights with regard to a place of amusement as men and are to be allowed to go into a place, what right is there to interfere with them so long as they do, in fact, behave themselves properly in a place of entertainment? I submit that there is no such right - that the management of an entertainment of this kind cannot take upon themselves any such responsibility, and that they ought not to be called upon to take upon themselves any such responsibility. The [110] reflection cast upon this entertainment by the notice being given by persons coming forward here and saying that the entertainment is of an objectionable character - that the dancing is improper - is most mischievous and most damaging to any place of entertainment, and would be still more damaging if it were not from the fact that it is too widely known that it is not the case, and those who read this sort of attack will most likely be people who have themselves seen the entertainment, and, reading that kind of statement, will appreciate that the evidence is utterly valueless of persons who make such reckless charges as are made by the persons who are called upon the part the objectors in this case. They have had an opportunity of being fully heard here. No objection has been taken to anything upon the ground that it was not evidence. Each witness has been allowed to make the fullest possible statement of matters, whether they would be evidence or whether they would not be evidence and indeed you have got the whole matter before you.
     I will call before you the gentlemen who has held this licence for years past - Mr. Edwardes - and I will ask him some questions with [111] regard to the management of the Empire, and our excellent friend who is opposing this licence will have the opportunity of putting any questions she pleases to Mr. Edwardes; but I do in conclusion suggest to you that you should not be led by any body of people of extreme views - that you should look with suspicion upon the statements made by persons who are persons of extreme views - that you should weigh any statement made under those circumstances with the greatest possible care, and then I will satisfy you that, in the conduct of this place of entertainment, every possible precaution has been taken by the managing director and by the other directors to see that no act of impropriety of any sort or kind should take place upon the stage or in the house at any time.

[112] --- Mr. George Edwardes called and examined

Mr. Gill: You are the holder of this  licence?

I am.

You have had a very large experience in connection with places of entertainment?

I have had some fifteen years' experience.

You have been and are now connected with various theatres?

I am.

And you have from time to time had the licence of the Empire renewed and you have held it.


With regard to the conduct of the Empire last year, has it been conducted as it always has been in the past.

Exactly the same.

There are employed in the place altogether between 600 and 700 people? And I think in actual salaries and wages in the place there is paid something like £1600 a week?


With regard to the entertainment that you put upon the stage is the question of each production the subject of careful consideration?

Very careful indeed.

Exception has been taken to a ballet known as "The Girl I left behind me." Were you yourself the author [113]  of that in the first instance?

I was.

Was that ballet a great success?

A very great success indeed.

How long did it run for?

It was practically a year.

And was of course seen by an enormous number of people.


Was there with regard to that ballet from its beginning to the end any thing which was in the smallest degree objectionable?

Absolutely nothing.

Was the slightest reflection made by any of the papers upon that ballet in any of the criticisms?

Not that I heard of.

With regard to a recent ballet - the ballet that is now there "La Frolique" - was that produced during this year?


And something has been said with regard to the dresses in that ballet. What would you desire to say to the Committee with regard to the dresses?

The dresses of the premiere danseuse in every theatre of the country and abroad have been exactly the same length. Therefore the dress of the premiere danseuse at the Empire is the same as the dress of the premiere danseuse at the opera. It is about 62 inches - it is the same dress, made of tulle that is always the same. [114] There has been no difference in every theatre all over Europe. So far as  the other dresses are concerned the long skirts referred to by one of the witnesses - that one of the girls lifted her foot up, absolutely if she did lift her foot up, her skirts were tied down and it was impossible to see anything beyond her knee.

Are these dresses designed by persons of considerable skill and a great deal of care taken in the selection of colours for the purpose of getting the result on the stage?

They are designed by Mr. Wilhelm, one of the greatest designers in the country.

On the production of a ballet of that kind is a very large sum of money expended?

Of several thousands of pounds.

Now with regard to the other part of the entertainment where there are acrobatic performances and singing and so on, is each item put upon the stage the subject of careful selection?

Each item is as a rule exhibited before it is put upon the stage.

And is the best of its kind procurable?


Has there ever been any sparing of expense in securing the best talent?

None whatever.

Some reference has been made to the [115] Schaeffer troupe of acrobats. Are they people with a world-wide reputation?

People of the greatest reputation.

And during their performance is the applause almost continuous?

Yes, unquestionably there is nothing in the entertainment given by the Schaeffers which would injure the child in any way. I have constantly seen the child myself before she has gone on the stage and when she has come off the stage. She is more anxious for the entertainment really than her father.

Thoroughly enjoys it?


With regard to the conduct of any person singing do you take every precaution against there being any impropriety either in the words of the song or the conduct of the actor or singer on the stage?

Every song has got to be submitted and it is read over before it is allowed to be sung.

Now with regard to the building itself and with regard to the audience tell me who are the people employed in the front of the house with regard to looking after the audience?

We have a very large staff in the front of the house, principally for the good conduct of the people going to the theatre. I think we have a retired Inspector of Police. We have several [116] Sergeants and on the whole I should say there are a hundred people absolutely employed for taking the money and for the good conduct of the people going to the theatre; and every one going to the theatre must pass the Box Office and must pay for a ticket, and every one absolutely is inspected before they are allowed to go in.

The question was asked by me of the members of the Committee as to whether every one pays who goes in there - would any women going in there pay just as an ordinary member of the audience?

Absolutely there has been no woman in London ever allowed in the Empire free.

Now with regard to the conduct of persons when they are in the house - either men or women - have the attendants instructions as to how they are to act in the event of any act of impropriety upon the part of any member of the audience?

We have a Serjeant and a Detective walking up and down during the Promenade to see if any of these ladies who have been so graphically described by other witnesses -  to see in what way they behave themselves. If they are seen soliciting any one markedly they are touched on the shoulder and cautioned and if a second time they do they they [117] are not allowed in the theatre again, and they are at once taken out of the building.

If there is any offence of any kind does that apply equally to men?

Certainly. A man would not be allowed to do so. This case of a man being served when drunk - I do not believe it is possible - I do not believe it ever occurred.

From your knowledge of the place and the persons employed there do you think it is possible such a thing would occur?

I do not think so. Of course, everything is practically possible, but such as thing has never to my knowledge taken place, and both the Inspector and the Sergeant on duty would have been instantly dismissed had it come before us, or had we known in any way about it.

Have there been many instances in which persons have been prevented from going in?

Oh frequently. Possibly three or four women a night have been stopped.

There is somebody stationed at the door to see the persons as they pass in?

Absolutely, at each door.

In your opinion, with your knowledge of places of entertainment, and your knowledge of how this place is conducted, is every possible precaution taken to insure  [118] the good conduct of the persons who constitute the audience?

Yes, no doubt it is.

I ought to ask you perhaps this question. This lady seems to have been amazed or thought you not act as a gentleman in  not answering her letter - did such a thing ever occur to you at all?

I should have thought Mrs. Chant would not have liked to have seen me fearing I might have tried to influence her.

--- cross-examined by Mrs, Chant

You say how very carefully you scan the songs before they are put upon the stage. I do admit frankly it is an exceedingly unpleasant question to ask you; but I must ask in both your interest and mine, One of your performers I named Dutch Daly - I am not very certain about the name - but he sang a song in which in the course of his  singing with a very unpleasant gesture he tell us how a young lady comes up to his counter and says I wish to see your winter night-wear. Do you mean to say you passed that?

No, madam. That line I never saw in a song. It is possible you may have heard it on the stage; but you may possibly have been mistaken also. It is more than Mr. Dutch Daly dare do.

[119] He did do it.

Did he really?

But I am glad to hear that you would not have passed it.

Certainly not.

Then you have said that the skirt of this dancer to whom I have taken particular exception is 62 inches long.

I believe that is the length.

I am a better judge of length of skirts than you are?


And you could will that a skirt when it flies up direct from the waist show from the knees above the head cannot possibly be 62 inches long. [-- cannot make sense of this sentence --]

Well I do not know the exact measurement. It may be 32 inches.

There is a great difference between 32 and 62. I should say the skirts are not a yard too long.

The exact length of the skirt of a premiere danseuse has been the same as long as I can remember. In every theatre it is the same length and this is made of tulle, and as you know they wear tights and there are trunks, and it is absolutely the same back in the opera and in every theatre in the world - there is no difference in the skirt of a premiere danseuse at the Empire and anywhere else.

Now may I ask you another question? I spoke in my opening statement of the [120] night that the "Lost Chord" was being beautifully sung and that picture exhibited of how the last two lines of that lovely song were totally drowned by the rude loud laugh and the unpleasant words of a painted woman in the promenade. I distinctly stated - Mr. Gill will perhaps remember that - that there seemed to be no effort to stop her. Can you account for that?

Well it is possible that such a thing could on any single occasion take place; but I assure you, as I said, there are people walking up and down to wait for such occurrences as those and if they sing or make any disturbance or do anything of that sort they are quietly told they will not be allowed in the theatre again. They are taken to the theatre door and thy never are allowed to enter again; and there is a list of these people now at at the Empire door. If you can suggest anything else as a means of stopping these people I shall be very glad to hear it.

You have assured these gentlemen that you saw nothing at all objectionable in any single part of the ballet "The Girl I left behind me" or the ballet called "La Frolique". But I should like to ask you one very delicate question. I admit it is. But we are not here before a Court of Justice in the ordinary sense of the term; we  [121] are before gentlemen who are hearing what we have to say at great and kindly and patient length and who are drawing their own conclusions. I should like to ask whether, in saying that you know nothing at all objectionable in this ballet you would wish me to infer that if it were your own wife whose body were exposed as these are, you would not object to it -

Mr. Gill - I take exception to such a question as that.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: I think it is a fair one.

I will answer it, if you will allow me, Mr.Gill. In the first place, my wife is not a dancer, and secondly there is absolutely nothing indecent in any dress on the Empire stage. It does show the form it is true, and in every opera in the world there are tights; there are trunks, and there is a gauze, which is in every ballet, absolutely, to cover the trunks. Therefore nothing can possibly be seen but simply the shape of the leg can be seen and that is all. Now if you consider that is indecent then it has been considered by everybody practically in this country as indecent.

The gauze is not visible from the promenade?

It is.

Then I should like to ask you this question, from no wish to be insulting [122] in the slightest degree, but because I simply wish to make it plain that necessarily our standard of decency and yours are apparently very different, and I am not at all ashmed to confess it -

I do not think so.

But my standard is an exceedingly different one from yours -

The Chairman: I think you must confine yourself to questions to your Witness.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Then I think I have only one more question to ask Mr. Edwardes. It is distinctly denied that it would be possible that drink should be supplied to a person who is areadly drunk, Our witnesses say they have seen it.

Well, madam, of course, I do not wish to say your Witnesses have been mistaken, but if such an event did take place, it is but one event in the entire year. It is practically impossible for such a thing to take place I can assure you, and I may mention also that I heard some of the Witnesses say that the women were taken to the bars to drink.


Now, believe me, madam, that is not so. Women do not go to the bars to drink. They are not allowed to drink at the bars.

They stand round the bars.

No they do not.

I have seen them.

[123] I assure you, you are mistaken. Such a thing as never taken place. They can go to the tables; they are not allowed to drink at the bar.

Do you say that in the American Bar the women are not allowed to stand there?

Not to drink at the bar itself. They are allowed to go to a table and be served by a waiter; but they are not allowed to go to a bar. I gathered just now one of these women was supposed to have accosted a man and to have said "Come to the bar and get me a drink." That is giving the impression that these women if they can induce men to give them drinks. That is a totally false impression: it is absolutely wrong: it is not so. I do not know these people who have given evidence here today are accustomed to go to Theatres of Variety, or to draw proper conclusions at all. I have never heard of such extraordinary statements in my life about the Empire as from these good ladies, who have come here today - it is absolutely totally false in a good many instances.

Mr. Torr: Mr. Edwardes, with regard to the continuous applause you referred to - is that from all parts of the theatre?

Do you mean the continuous applause [124] in regard to the acrobats?

Yes, when the performance was going on.


Was that from all parts of the theatre?

Yes, indeed it was. It is from the gallery, pit, stalls, everywhere.

Just follow me. There is a fringe of people standing in the Grand Circle, for instance.


Three or four deep?


When your house is full the people behind certainly cannot see so well as those in front of the fringe.

Perfectly so.

Does the applause come from the people who can see or from the people who cannot see?

It is very difficult to tell where the applause comes from. It comes from all over the building.

Even from those people who cannot see?

Certainly they can hear the Orchestra very often. They hear lots of things. It is impossible for me to say that the applause comes from the Gallery or where it comes from.

Now, women are inspected night after night before they are admitted?

Yes; they pass under the box office; they have got to pass.

Who is the person who decides whether they can be admitted or not?

[125] The acting Manager.

Are you constantly in the House yourself?

I am there about two or three nights a week.

Do you recognise faces readily?


Are there not hundreds of women who go to that place that there practically night after night?

No: there are not hundreds; there are several perhaps who have been there once or twice a week.

When you say "several" how many do you mean by that?

I should say possibly three or four faces have been familiar to me that I have noticed before; and I have called the attention of the Inspector of Police to the matter - saying "Have you noticed these women before?" "Yes" "How did they behave themselves?" "Quite properly." What can we do?

Pardon me, that is not the point. I am suggesting to you that these women are behaving most excellently low [-- transcriber has 'insolently' crossed out replaced by 'excellently', not clear if they caught words properly here--could be 'now' instead of 'low', or even 'but'--] the point is, Do they come to your place to see performances or are they there night after night during the performances?

Well, I should say they come to see the performances, and the only evidence I have got of that is that when we produce new Ballet we play to £250 a night more, and we get a large part of the money from the very places you are [126] speaking of.

One of your Ballets ran I think you said for a year.


During that time are you in a position to state whether or not more than 100 or more than 500 perhaps of the audience has not seen that at least 20 or 30 or 40 times?

Would you mind repeating your question?

In the run of a piece as long as you put it, during a year, do you suggest to me that there are not members of that audience, who may have seen or 20,30,40 times?

I say there are several members of that audience who may have seen it say 15 or 20 times.

In fact, a very large proportion.

No, not a large proportion.

In fact a very large proportion of the female portion of the audience have seen the performance much more than 10 times.

No, I should say a small proportion of the audience, and not a large one.

You are not able to give me any figures as to that.


You have had your attention directed as to whether they behaved properly and decently.


[127] That has been your object?


Mr. Gill: I do not know whether there could be any objection to my calling attention to the fact - no doubt the learned member of the Committee will correct me if I am wrong - the first witnesses who have been called here are several of them members of the Council of the National Vigilance Association. I see the name of Mr. James F. Torr as one of the Council, and if that is so I think perhaps it would be a desirable thing that Mr. Torr should not take part -

Mr. Torr: Do I understand that these proceedings are brought about by the Council of which Mr. Gill is speaking?

Mr. Gill: Mrs. Chant is a member of the Council and Mrs. Sheldon Amos is a member of the Council: perhaps it would be desirable that a member of the same Council should not take part in the consideration of the matter.

Mr. Torr: If Mr. Gill desires to put it on that ground I do not desire to say any more.

The Chairman: I think it would be perhaps betters Mr. Torr as you are on that Council.

Mr. Torr: I was not aware the proceedings are instituted by them.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: No, they are not.

Mr. Torr: I do not ask any more. But may I ask Mr. Gill whether he will object [128] to my voting on the question for the same reason.

Mr. Gill: I have no power to object and I do not put it in the form of an objection. My attention has been drawn to the fact that several of the people who have given evidence and who have given these notices in the same terms are members of the General Council of the National Vigilance Society and that Mr. Torr is also a member.

Mr. Torr: That is right.

Mr. Gill: Having drawn Mr. Torr's attention to that, I do not make it any objection if he thinks it desirable to vote or take any part in this. I accept whatever his conduct may be in the matter.

-- Mr. Charles Dundas Slater called and examined

Mr. Gill: You are acting Manager at the Empire?


I do not propose to take you through this matter. Have you heard the evidence given by Mr. Edwardes with regard to the instructions given to persons employed.


Were those instruction carried out to the best of your ability?

Yes, to the letter.

--- cross-examined by Mrs. Ormiston Chant

Do you know the difference when you see it between a very well dressed respectable [129] woman and a woman who is not respectable? How would you know the difference?

I could not judge by their dress.

How would you judge when she comes into the theatre?

As to whether she was respectable or not?


I could hardly judge that.

How do you refuse her admittance, then?

She must be known to me, for me to refuse her admission; to be a street walker or a prostitute.

Who will know that she is a street walker?

I should myself.

Do you know all the women that are street walkers?

Most of them.

--- re-examined by Mr. Gill

With regard to the question you have been asked as to forming an opinion as to whether a woman was a respectable women or the contrary, have you spoken to a woman with regard to her dress?

Yes, unfortunately. I did on one occasion. She was a lady, gaudily dressed, with an opera cloak on, and her hair down her back. I then told her she would have to put her hair up and cover her body. On that she fetched her husband and I got into a good deal of trouble. He was an American gentleman on his first [130] visit to this country and he felt very sore.

Did he tell you his wife had been to the Opera and the Lyceum in the same dress?

He did, and that she had not been objected to.

Mr. Bull: Are you in the house every evening?

Every week.

--- Mr. Robert William Ahern called and examined

Mr. Gill - You are Superintendent over the persons employed at the Empire I think?


You were formerly an Inspector at Scotland Yard?

You have heard what Mr. Edwardes has said as to the instructions given with regard to the audience of the Empire?

I have.

Are these instructions carried out strictly?

They are.

--- cross-examined by Mrs. Ormiston Chant

May I ask you whether your exclusion of women that you know to be street walkers also includes men whose character you know to be that of bullies?

I make it a practice to walk about the streets of London in different characters.

[131] At the Empire do you make a practice of not only refusing admission to women whom you know to be street walkers but to men whom you know to be bullies.

Yes I do.

And these men have been sent away from the Empire.

They have.

And refused admission.


How have you refused them?

If I have found them in the house they would go out at once.

And you do the same with the women?


Can you account then for the number of made up painted women in the promenade?

I cannot account for it.

Cannot you account for it by their being street walkers?

They are not known to me as such.

Are you prepared to say as the last Witness did that you know all the street-walkers in London?

The bigger portion of them.

And you do not see them in the Empire Promenade?

I have a few.

Would you be surprised to hear that at least four told me how they came off the streets on to the promenade of the Empire?

Mr. Gill: I object. They may have enjoyed themselves [132] at this lady's tea party.

Mr. Chairman: That is not a proper question.

Mr. Leon: Mrs. Chant mentioned a certain class of men, and you said you would not allow them to come in.


Tell me how many have been sent out of the house?

Within the last month I have sent out about four men.

For what reason?

I have known them to be men who live on women. I could not allow them in the house.

--- Mr. Hitchins called and examined

Mr. Gill: you have considerable experience in the management of places of public entertainment. You are Manager in front of the Empire.


And we are told that a very large number of persons are employed in front.

Yes, between 600 and 700 altogether. In front of the house over 80.

With regard to the persons coming into the house there is no re-admission to the house at all?


And with regard to the orders given to you  by Mr. Edwardes or by the Directors are they carried out strictly to the letter?


[133] You are always there?

Always there.

Those orders, I think, apply to objectionable characters of either sex.

Of either sex.

Mr. Beachcroft: They are only very high class women who are admitted into the promenade?

Well dressed people - different parts of the house different classes of people. Pits and so on, gallery and so on, different classes of people.

--- cross-examined by Mrs. Ormiston Chant

Are you prepared to say that these women who are admitted to the promenade are women of respectable character?

To the best of my knowledge.

You are prepared to say that those of them who come in and use very unpleasant language are respectable women?

Mr. Gill: He does not say they do.

The Witness: If they did such a thing as that they would be immediately ejected from the house and not readmitted.

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: Do you say they are always ejected? How was it that the woman was not ejected?

Any persons misconducting themselves are immediately put out of doors and not re-admitted.

Why was not the woman ejected that night she prevented us from  [133] hearing the last words of the song in The Lost Chord?

My attention was not called to that thing occurring, madam. It did not come to my knowledge.

Are you there every night?

I cannot be in every part of the house at the same time. I am always in the house - going from top to bottom.

Can you account for that gentleman who was very drunk being served with drink?

I cannot indeed; and I say such a thing could not have occurred. If a man had been drunk it could not have occurred.

We saw him drinking from his glass and dropping the drink because he was too drunk to hold the glass steady.

I am sorry to doubt your statement.

There are two witnesses to that, you know. Do you grant passes out?


Therefore, when a witness stated that he got a pass to go out from one of your attendants, how do you account for that?

We give a pass to go from one floor to another.

But not to pass out of the building?

Not out of the building.

Did you hear him state that he passed out two or three times?

I did not.

Mr. Gill: It was upon that I asked the [135] question as to whether there was a re-admission at all. there is no such thing as a pass out allowed.

Mr. Collin: There is a question of fact. May I state-

The Chairman: I cannot hear you.

Mr. Gill: I do not call any other witnesses. I suppose the Police of the district are here. I do not call them at Witnesses.

Mr. Chairman: You do not call them?

Mr. Gill: They are here and prepared to give information. Where is the Inspector of the District?

The Chairman: Will you call the Police then?

Mr. Gill: Yes, I will call the Inspector of the District.

--- Mr. Harry Tildensley, Inspector C Division called and examined

Mr. Gill: Have you been frequently at the Empire?


Of course the Police can go in there at any hour - at any time?


Free access to the whole of the building?

That is so.

It has been said here that persons under the influence of drink have been served there and seen to be served. Have you ever seen anything of the kind?


Not upon any occasion?

Not upon any occasion.

[136] With regard to the conduct of the audience - are they all a well-conducted audience.

Well conducted.

--- cross-examined by Mrs. Ormiston Chant

Do you remember my face?

I do not, madam.

You have not seen me at the Empire?


You did not see me that night that gentleman spilled his drink and I called upon somebody - I will not swear it was you - but it was an official - to witness he was drunk.

It was not me.

You are certain?


I could not swear it was.

I am not there every night. I make periodical visits. I am not there every night.

Are you prepared to say that all these women in the promenade painted and dressed are of a respectable character?

I would not like to say that, no.

You know many of them are not that?

Reputed prostitutes - I cannot say they are prostitutes.

But they are reputed prostitutes?

Some of them are - not all of them are - some of them are.

Are you aware that men of bad character are there?

No doubt about that sometimes - but I do not interfere with them as long as they [137] conduct themselves with propriety. The same applies to the women.

And would you interfere is they behaved badly?

Yes; I should call the attention of the management.

Can you tell me why no one interfered the night I am speaking of?

I should say they did not see it?

They did not hear?

They did not hear and did not see it.

Is it possible for you to be at one end of the promenade and not know what goes on at the other end?

Quite possible.

A former witness said no orders were given for the going out of the theatre and coming back again. But permission is given by an attendant to go outside and come back again..

That is not within my knowledge.

Mr. Gill: With regard to anything approaching disorderly conduct; is your experience  of the place that a person would be immediately told to leave?


Is there anything like any ground for suggesting that people are allowed to stay there under the influence of drink?

No, I am positive.

Mr. MacDougall: What are the women doing in the promenade. Are they attending to the performance - watching the performanes on the stage?

[138] Some of them are. Some are promenading, talking together. I may say I have never seen any one single case of solicitation.

You are there in uniform?

In a uniform. I do not suppose they would do that to let me see them. I am there in uniform, so that they can see me and I can see them.

Mr. Yates: In the course of these occasional visits have you ever known a case of a woman being admitted free of charge?

No, sir.

Mr. Doubleday: How often are you there a week?

Sometimes twice a week; but the hall is visited every night.

And you yourself twice a week.

Twice a week.

Do you go into the lounge occasionally?

Yes, I go through the whole of the place.

As you are there twice a week - nearly 100 times in the year - are you familiar at all with the faces of the women you have seen there?

Yes, some of them.

You have seen some of them frequently?

Some of them.

Almost every night.

I would not say that.

When you say "some of them" do you mean a large number that you know and have seen there repeatedly.

I have, some of them.

You do not like to say a large [139] number; but more than 20?

I would not go so far as that; a few of them.

Mr. McDougall: Unless you saw solicitation you would not take any notice at all.


Although they were upon licensed premises?

They are witnessing a performance. It is not like a public house. You cannot deal with people there as you can in a public house. You could not deal with these people for permitting them to remain longer than necessary. They are there from the time that the performance commences and may remain there till it ends.

You do not look upon it as a public house.

They are only allowed to remain in a public house so long as to take refreshment?


Have any people been ejected from the Empire and charged?


For disorder within the Empire?

Sometimes within and sometimes outside when people in a drunken condition have been refused admittance.

Have women been mixed up in such disorders?

No, I have never known a woman [140] brought in from that.

Mr. Bull: What do you say about it being visited every night by the police?

By an Inspector and a Sergeant.

An Inspector and a Sergeant visit the place every night?

Yes,  and the result of their visits are repeated to the Superintendent.

And entered into the book?


Do they go at different times or at a special time?

At different times.

During every night?


Mr. Torr: Before the Committee retire may I make a statement. I do not profess after what has fallen from the learned Counsel in this case to vote upon this matter at all. I should have thought that Mr. Gill would have seen that my only object was to ascertain whether the performance was not a colourable excuse for the presence of the women. I shall not vote.

Mr. Leon: Has any of the Vigilance Society money been used for the purpose?

Mrs. Ormiston Chant: No.

--- the Committee retired

The Chairman: The decision of the Committee with regard to the case of the Empire is, that they will recommend the renewal of the licence on the condition [141] that the promenades be abolished and the space now occupied by them disposed of to the satisfaction of the Council and that no intoxicating drinks be sold in the auditorium.
     Mr. Torr wishes me to state with regard to the question that has been raised, that, as membership of the National Vigilance Association may be supposed in any degree to affect his impartiality or efficiency as a County Councillor, he has decided to at once tender his resignation of that Association.


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