Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.

Rallying Point

Dear Gay News,

I saw Gay News on sale at Better Books Charing Cross Road – and my eagerness to find out about you overcame the diffidence/shyness that makes one hesitant at making a purchase which tactically ‘labels’ the purchaser. (Yes I know it’s foolish: why should we be furtive? It is a habit that many of us have grown into in self-defence but or rather thanks to GLF, CHE and publications like yours — it is becoming increasingly unnecessary).

The paper is just what was lacking, a sort of rallying point for all the progressive movements that have sprung up in recent years. Nothing is more encouraging to potential activists than news of what other people are doing. I’m sure you are going to do a great deal of good for the homosexual cause just by existing, for there is a danger of slipping back if the movements become splintered up with too much infighting. This is how ‘they’ have always kept the upper hand, divide and rule. By uniting all the various groups informally, which Gay News does simply by reporting what everyone is doing, we can avert this danger and continue to move forward. You are right to preserve your independence since this way you can be of greatest value to all groups and individuals… may you go from strength to strength.

Not the least pleasurable thing about Gay News is your selling price. For the first time we have a publication that everyone can afford, not just a rip-off ‘bold’ progressive Gay Magazine which just happens to cost 50p (or more) an issue. For far too long, gay people have been exploited by publishers who have artificially inflated prices just to make a quick profit – and this attitude extends to other spheres. Perhaps with your encouragement we can attack this particular injustice too. Readers will I’m sure, respond to your invitation on page ten to write in with comments on goods and services etc. This is a case where unity is strength since gay people are consumers with enormous total purchasing power – and only too eager to go where the best value is to be found.

Let me end with a practical suggestion for those readers like myself who are non-activist but feel they would like to do something tangible for the cause. Campaigning and street selling, etc are for the youngsters, and many of us cannot afford to be over-generous with our money or time. But there is one simple, and inexpensive thing we can do, buy two copies instead of one and leave the extra one on the train or bus or wherever it can do most good. With best wishes to everyone responsible for Gay News which is so beautifully produced in every way. Keep up the good work.

John

Vassall and Parole

Chiswick, London W4.

Dear Gay News,

Having read the letter from Michael, of Bromley, in yesterday’s Gay News, (GN12, page 6) I feel that it is imperative that the misconception raised thereby should be corrected without delay.

A person released on licence by the Secretary of State under Sec 60, Criminal Justice Act 1967 (CJA67) is only subject to supervision under that licence until the actual day upon which he would have normally been due for release from prison had he not been granted parole. After that date he is just as free from restrictions as if he had never been allowed early release on licence. This is an absolute rule (always provided that no further offence has been committed during the parole period); it could not be otherwise: to extend the period of supervision beyond the normal release-date would be to increase the sentence imposed by the judge at the trial. I quote:

“A licence granted to any person under this section shall … remain in force until a date specified in the licence, being …
… the date on which he could have been discharged from prison on remission of part of his sentence under the prison rules …”

CJA67, Sec 60(6) (b)

Therefore Vassall will only be subject to supervision for some TWO years – not eight as suggested – that is until the date upon which his release would have been due in any event.*

If any Gay News readers are troubled with legal problems on which they would like advice, I would be only too glad to anwer any enquiries, which should be sent to me c/o the Gay News Office. When writing, remember the more detail you give the easier it is to give advice. All letters will, of course, be treated in the strictest confidence. Love to all gays – everywhere,

Steve Williams

*Ps: The recently passed CJA72 in no way affects what I’ve said re parole.

Gay Public Relations

London, SW4

Dear GN Collective,

When I first started subscribing to Gay News I was none too sure of my motives. A homosexual newspaper must, by definition, be primarily concerned with sex. I have never bought or subscribed to any other sex-orientated paper or magazine before, so why do I read Gay News? Perhaps more than anything to be reassured that I am not some sort of freak, that, as Lord Arran put it in GN1, we are ‘… just human beings like anyone else.’

The problem is of course that society at large still has difficulty in believing this. Lord Arran suggested that publicity can only do us harm. It can ‘…only re-arouse the slowly dying hatreds… But without publicity we simply return to square one – those strange creatures who inhabit a twilight world — a subject best swept under the carpet. We can only become acceptable if we publicise the fact, as often as possible, that we are about as normal as anyone else, and not people to be despised or feared.

Because of our limited acceptability we have practically no access to national newspapers, so the next best thing is our own newspaper. Gay News. We, like other minority groups — Naturists, Esperantists, Radio Hams, Women’s Lib (at least you may have heard of these) – are getting our own nationwide newspapers and journals, as well as clubs and societies for those who need them. Let’s hope Gay News becomes as acceptable and as popular as Hi-fi News, Woman’s Own or Dalton’s Weekly. More popular!

Chris

Correcting False Impressions

Dear Gay News,

In reference to Jakov Geissmann’s report on our recent Jewish national ”Think-In” entitled “Judaism and the Jewish Homosexual”, I became deeply disturbed on his very false impression in the way he described it as 8 hours of “boredom” to the extent that he himself left the meeting in the middle of our principal guest speaker’s talk. In order that your readers should not be misinformed, it’s my duty (as organiser of this think-in) to emphasise the positive structure and climax of this meeting. I have since discussed it with out Jewish group, and we are generally convinced that indeed it was a very successful meeting. Incidentally, no member of the group has ever heard of Jakov Geissmann so I can only presume that he sent in his report purely as an observer. Briefly, please allow me space in your column to inform your readers why we believe it was a success.

(1) Dr. Wendy Greengross in her opening remarks, accepting us as normal and healthy people, being part of society in the same way as heterosexuals.

(2) The vast number of Jewish gays who publicly declared themselves, just like an awareness group, where everybody quite freely spoke about themselves, especially in relationship to their families, followed by a general discussion.

(3) Last, but not least, our principal guest speaker, Dr Alan Unterman PhD, Student Chaplain to Manchester University, and a very humanistic and religious Jew, has made a deep research into the problems facing Jewish gays. Admittedly he quoted the Bible which forbids homosexuality, however he emphasised that according to “Judaism” there are no heterosexuals or homosexuals, basically we are all bi-sexual, although many people would disagree on this fact. He said, that Adam, being the first man was created both male and female, and at the birth of Eve, Adam was split.

He went on to define that “male and female are two halves of one whole”. His talk was obviously followed by a very heated discussion, but I stress at no time did he reject us, on the contrary he constantly accepted us as “normal” people, but insisted that we are all bi-sexual. The session ended with a very moving talk by Antony Grey of the Albany Trust, who throughout his ten years of counselling, mentioned the disturbing number of Jewish gays where marriage and family unity in the Jewish religion was the main problem facing the Jewish Gay. None of these points I’ve mentioned was remarked by Jakov Geissmann. Also since he even left before Antony Grey’s talk, on the contrary, Mr Grey himself said that he found the entire meeting most interesting and constructive and enjoyed every minute of it. In conclusion, due to our questionnaire form. I’ve had a massive response from Jewish gays interested to continue a Jewish group and I shall be pleased to answer anyone who wishes to write to me. Last, but not least, may I take this opportunity in congratulating Gay News . as Britain’s No 1 first class independent gay paper, you are doing a wonderful job and I sincerely hope that eventually your paper will be available over the counter at all national newsagents and bookstalls throughout the country.

Love and Peace,

Simon Benson, Albion Court, 75 Larkhall Rise, London SW4 6HS

Better Understanding

Dear GN,

I welcome the news that GN is branching further afield and featuring items of general interest.

This is a wise decision as it will strengthen the paper and attract heterosexuals to read Gay News, and also make them understand the problems we face and that our views on life are similar to theirs.

This in turn will make for a better understanding in our fight for equal recognition.

Carry on GN, you have my full support.

P Atkins (Miss)

Utterly Amazed

Osterley TW7 4PX
Middlesex.

Dear Gay News,

I have read and enjoyed all the issues of Gay News to date, but I find one startling fact about your ads, and that is that your paper puts an ad in pleading for new premises and has done so for quite a few months now, but to my utter amazement (and no doubt yours) you have had no response whatsoever. Surely there must be property owners in London who could help you out. In fact I would have thought that gay people all over London would wish to help THEIR paper out.

Sadly it is quite obvious to me that whilst it’s okay to read Gay News in private it is too much to help out a damn good paper openly.

Finally I would like to stress that I am in no way connected with Gay News but felt so disgusted with the gay community to which this letter concerns that I felt something should be said publicly on your behalf,

Royston Williams

Lemon Drop Kids

London, N8

Dear Lemon,

When will you realise that throwing shit at Martin Stafford is counter-productive?

I know that Martin is a humourless little twerp who’s dreadfully hung up; but if that’s his kink, let him be.

It’s very wrong of you to think that Martin is alone in his opinions. He isn’t. Throughout the country he has a great deal of support – especially from the more paranoid ghetto queens. But his supporters are by no means confined to that group.

Fresh recruits flock to his counter-revolutionary banner all the time. Some just agree with everything he says: others feel sorry for him (if you’ve ever seen him you’ll know what I mean) and tend to be especially so after the sort of bollocking he got in GN11.

The Martin Staffords of this world have an annoying habit of having the last laugh. This may well not happen with the Martin Stafford, as he does not seem able to laugh.

The only way to get rid of this type of person who constantly tries to betray his own kind is to let him condemn himself with his own (incredibly silly) words. I suggest you forgo the Bitter Lemon and try a bit of arsenic and old lace.

James Knight

ED: Denis Lemon did not write the piece concerning Martin Stafford in GN11, although he does completely condone what was said.

No Drinking

Bedfordshire

Dear Sirs,

I would like to pass a mild comment on the article ‘Lancette’ by a ‘real doctor’, in Gay News No9

The author states that the only reason doctors advise against alcohol is that one is likely to have carefree sex if one is drunk; and that in no way does alcohol affect the treatment being given.

I’m undergoing a course of treatment of pills to clear myself of non-specific urethritis. After having taken them for nearly a week, my symptoms subsided to the extent that I had to look for them. One evening (still taking the pills) I had less than five drinks.

On awakening the next morning, my symptoms had re appeared, and the discharge I was suffering had worsened.

My I suggest to your author that he thinks before quoting age-old cliches, and that he doesn’t include us all in the sexist gay society in London, where sleeping with a man is as common as drinking a glass of water. Sex is, to me, still very beautiful and very personal.

N. Ferguson

The Other Love

Continued from front page

19720914-06This book, like Mr. Montgomery Hyde’s books about Wilde, is really a plea for tolerance from the rest of society towards a group of people who really need no more help from society than for it to realise that we are human beings with a great capacity for love and happiness which is so often stifled by fear; their fear, and its result in us. This study deals with the repression throughout history of this social group through ignorance, stupidity and fear. Because of the Puritan strain in our society they try to make us feel guilty, even now, about the freedom to love. Bernard Shaw said of Oscar Wilde that at the time of his trials he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the ‘offences’ of which he was accused because he did not feel ‘guilty.’

19720914-07The historical survey covers a range from Saxon times virtually to the present day but deals unfortunately with men only. Apparently women are more difficult to obtain information about. The three really important events were the changes of the law; that of Henry VIII’s time when in 1533 he made ‘the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind or beast’ a felony and so punishable by death and forfeit of property. This law continued in force until 1861 when the abolition of the death penalty for ‘offences against the person’, was commuted to penal servitude for life or any term not less than ten years at the discretion of the court. This, plus the additional clause in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, was in force until its repeal in 1967.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act was really a mistake. It was originally concerned with the protection of young girls against juvenile prostitution and white slavery, its principal aim being to raise the ‘age of consent’ from thirteen years of age to sixteen. It was during the committee stage, ‘taken late at night on August 6th, 1885’, that the amendment clause was inserted by Henry Labouchere, a Liberal-Radical M.P.

ANY MALE PERSON WHO, IN PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, COMMITS, OR IS A PARTY TO THE COMMISSION OF, OR PROCURES OR ATTEMPTS TO PROCURE THE COMMISSION BY ANY MALE PERSON OF, ANY ACT OF GROSS INDECENCY WITH ANOTHER MALE PERSON, SHALL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOUR, AND BEING CONVICTED THEREOF, SHALL BE LIABLE, AT THE DISCRETION OF THE COURT, TO BE IMPRISONED FOR ANY TERM NOT EXCEEDING ONE YEAR WITH OR WITHOUT HARD LABOUR.

The Attorney-General, Sir Henry James, amended the original penalty to two years as a maximum penalty and as soon as the Royal Assent had been given there began a spate of correspondence in the newspapers; both legal and lay,… a learned Recorder dubbed it ‘The Blackmailer’s Charter’, and an eminent Q.C. prophesying that ‘juries would refuse to convict where the alleged acts were in private and not visible to any member of the public’.

‘On the other hand, those interested in the welfare of young girls welcomed the act so warmly (and indeed it was an excellent Act apart from section II), and it was so clearly impossible to do anything except let the law take its course, that after a few weeks the clamour died down and the public interest became centred upon some more savoury topic.’

So wrote Sir Travers Humphreys in 1948, one of the junior counsel during the trials of Oscar Wilde.

The new act was used extensively during the 82 years of its life, but apart from the Wilde trials which set several legal precedents and were until 1948 surrounded by an aura of mystery to all but the collector of rare books or privately printed editions, the period which I find the most intriguing is that of the early fifties, which some of us will remember slightly, but whose intrigues and scandals meant very little more than salacious newspaper reading.

It was in March 1951 that the drive against homosexuals became really intensified. This was due to the defection of the two British diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, to the Soviet Union. Maclean had been serving in a senior position in the British Embassy in Washington and is believed to have been blackmailed by Burgess and ‘Kim’ Philby – both Burgess and Maclean being homosexual, into handing over ‘top-secret’ information, to which he had access from American sources, to the Russians.

The Americans, apparently very concerned over Maclean’s sudden disappearance with Burgess, which had resulted from a ‘tip-off’ from Philby. They approached the British to weed out any of the known homosexuals from Government Service as bad security risks, as was being done also in the States. Macarthyism was ‘in full-swing’ over there too. The British campaign reached its height in the latter part of ‘53 and early ‘54, getting a good boost from the New Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Nott-Bower, who swore he would ‘rip the cover off all London’s filth spots’, according to one report. In October 1953 it was reported the Home Office had instructed the police to institute ‘a new drive against male vice.’

The new Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, (later Lord Kilmuir), had this to say in December 1953;

Homosexuals in general, are exhibitionists and pjoselytizers, (i.e. makers of converts!) and a danger to others, especially the young. So long as I hold the office of Home Secretary, I shall give no countenance to the view that they should not be prevented from being such a danger.

In the months that followed, many young men were trapped by the use of AGENTS PROVACATEURS. Peter Wildeblood in his excellent book, Against the Law, quoted here, witnessed two in action:

One night, when I had been working late at the office, I was walking along the Brompton Road towards my flat. Outside a closed public-house in a side turning I noticed two men loitering. A man aged about seventy, with white hair, walked past them and went into a lavatory at the side of the public-house. He was followed in by the younger of the two men. Almost immediately there was a sound of scuffling and shouting, and the older of the two men whom I had first noticed also ran into the lavatory. He and his companion dragged the old man out, each holding him by an arm. He was struggling and crying.

My first thought was that they must be local ‘roughs’ who were trying to rob the old man, so I went towards them and shouted at them to let him go, or I would call the police. The younger one said: ‘We are Police Officers.’ A woman who had joined us on the street corner asked what the old man had done, and was told that he had been ‘making a nuisance of himself’, He had now begun to struggle violently, and the two detectives pushed him up against the railings of the Cancer Hospital, outside which we were standing. His head became wedged between two iron spikes, and he started to scream. The detectives asked if one of us would ring up Chelsea Police Station and ask for a van to be sent: ‘Just tell them we’re at the top of Dovehouse Street, they’ll know what It’s about!’

The woman said: ‘You can do your own dirty work, damn you.’ It seemed to me, however, that the old man might be seriously injured if he continued to struggle, so I went into a telephone box a few yards away, telephoned the police station and spoke to the duty sergeant. He was evidently expecting a message, because the van arrived almost immediately. The old man, who by this time was lying on the pavement in a pool of blood, was picked up and taken away …

Of all the many cases which came before the courts, none caused as much stir as that involving Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Others involved were his cousin, Michael Pitt-Rivers, a film director, Kenneth Hume and Peter Wildeblood, at that time diplomatic correspondent for the Daily Mail.

Lord Montagu and Kenneth Hume appeared before Winchester Assizes on December 1953, accused of indecently assaulting two boy scouts (employed at his stately home as guides) who had gone with him and Hume to look for a camera he’d left at his beachhut. While there they had a bathe. He reported the loss of his camera to the police and while they were questioning the two boys they elicited an accusation of indecent assault from the two men.

While ‘enquiries were going on’ and rumours were making social life difficult for him, and particularly his sister, about to get married, Montagu went away to France and then to America. As soon as he heard there was a warrant out for his arrest he flew home, surrendering himself and his passport to the authorities. This proved to be an unwise move.

The prosecution sought to prove that instead of flying direct from Paris to New York on September 25th, as he swore in his evidence he had done, he had returned to England for a brief visit of a couple of days and had flown to America from England on September 25th. In support of this the prosecution pointed to an entry in his passport which seemed to indicate that he had been stamped out of Boulogne by the French Passport authorities on September 23rd. Montagu vigorously denied this, saying that he had not been in Boulogne for several years, and on examining the passport the judge pronounced that the date had been altered, the figure ‘5’ having been apparently changed from ‘4’.

Montagu was acquitted on the serious charge of committing an unnatural offence but on the lesser charge of indecent assault the jury disagreed and the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that he should be tried again.

Three weeks later the arrests of Pitt-Rivers and Wildeblood took place, the police searching their premises without warrants. They were charged with several specific indecency charges and of ‘conspiring’ with Montagu to commit them. This was highly prejudicial to Montagu’s pending second trial. This practice had been severely condemned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1948, when Mr. Justice Humphreys had remarked:

– if the law of criminal conspiracy is to be invoked, then each count of the indictment should be framed so as to enable the jury to put their fingers on the specific point of the conspiracy as to which they are satisfied that the particular defendant is proved to have been implicated and to convict him of that offence only. It is an essential feature of the criminal law that the accused person should be able to tell from the indictment the precise nature of the charge or charges against him so as to be in a position to put forward his defence and to direct his evidence to meet them.

Wildeblood and Pitt-Rivers were specifically accused of offences with two R.A.F. men, Edward McNally and John Reynolds, again at the beach-hut near Beaulieu, and at the Pitt-Rivers estate in Dorset. Wildeblood, his friend McNally and Reynolds, used the hut for a holiday in 1952 and on their First night, Montagu gave a party to welcome them

It was a small party, consisting of Montagu and some friends he had brought down who were at a house party at Beaulieu. It was this that the Press built up into a Bacchanalian orgy while reporting the trial.

Montagu, Pitt-Rivers and Wildeblood were tried together at Winchester Assizes in March 1954. The charges in respect of the boy scouts .. were not included in the indictment, since neither Pitt-Rivers not Wildeblood had nay-thing to do with these .. The principal witnesses against the defendants were the two airmen, both of whom had been thoroughly intimidated:

It also came out that Reynolds was interrogated by the police for a total of eighteen hours and that McNally had been persuaded to ‘confess’ on being told that Reynolds had already ‘squealed’ … ‘The fact that neither of them was charged with any offence’, Wildeblood afterwards wrote, ‘proves, I think, conclusively that the Crown in this case was not even concerned with the administration of the law as it stood. It was simply out to put Montagu behind bars.’

It did, Pitt-Rivers and Wildeblood got 18 months, Montagu 12.

Some good came out of this, however. One thing was Wildebloods own book which I have been forced to read again after reviewing this book; a very powerful evication of the period: the other was that the Sunday Times devoted its leading article in the next issue after the conviction at Winchester entitled Law and Hypocrisy. This was followed by an equally powerful article in the New Statesman on The Police and the Montagu Case. These were not before the Church had put in a plea for the reform of the law, even when the charges were still pending at Winchester – a blow for the police. This had come from The Church of England Council for Moral Welfare.

The Government eventually bowed to the storm of criticism. Just a month after the Montagu trial the Home Secretary, along with the Secretary of State for Scotland, agreed to the appointment of a Departmental Committee to examine and report on the law of homosexual offences and the ‘parallel’ problem of the law relating to prostitution!

Questions in Parliament seem to have given Conservative peers virtual heart attacks. In the House of Lords, Earl Winterton, then in his seventies, after apologising for bringing forward ‘this nauseating subject’ castigated the Church of England for publishing the report of its Moral Welfare Council and praised the police for their recent actions, barking back to Wilde: ‘It may well be said that the Oscar Wilde case was a moral purge, and it may be that certain recent cases will have the same effect. If this be so, the whispering campaign against the police, which is going on very strongly, and sometimes in circles which ought to know better, should cease..’

The struggle was carried on by a number of people who met incredible opposition on all sides. In their speeches at the time they said things which are now liable to strike us quite amusing or amaze us with their naivete. But the most important thing to remember is that they were fighting for our future dignity. Even so I still can’t help smiling when I read phrases like:

‘These people are self-eliminating. They do not breed. They do very little harm if left to themselves .. ’ (‘makes us sound like rabbits.’) On the other hand we had remarks like this from Field-Marshall Montgomery of Alamein:

To condone unnatural offences in male persons over 21, or indeed in male persons of any age, seems to me to be utterly wrong .. – My main reason is that a weakening of the law will strike a blow at all those devoted people who are working to improve the moral fibre of the youth of this country. And heaven knows, it wants improving! Lord Kilmuir spoke of ‘the proselytisation which goes out from sodomitic societies and buggery clubs which everyone knows extsts,’ while Goddard expressed the conviction that if Arran’s Bill were passed it would be ‘a charter for these bugger’s clubs, ‘and they would consequently be able to spring up all over the place.’

Apparently no evidence could be discovered to prove the two distinguished lawyer’s statements about the existence of the bugger’s clubs, and when invited by the Homosexual Law Reform Society, ‘declined or were unable to do so.

The Departmental Committee, known as the Wolfenden Committee eventually produced its report in 1957 and although the Conservative Government of the time showed some reluctance to implement its suggestions, a prominent Labour front-bencher, Lord Pakenham (now Earl of Longford), spoke in favour in the House of Lords.

Things were still moving too slowly and so in 1958 the Homosexual Law Reform Society was formed with many famous supporters. Th They sent a letter to The Times in March, with about thirty well known signatures. More letters followed. However the Government still continued to take its time. Eventually, over a year after its publication after some prodding at the beginning of the session, the Government put down a motion in the Commons ‘that this House takes note of the Report,’ an ineffective and inconclusive motion expressly designed to avoid a vote.

In 1960 the Society held a meeting at The Caxton Hall in Westminster. Shortly before it, Mr. Butler, The Home Secretary received a deputation from the Society and informed its members that, since:

‘the public had not shown its feelings in the matter,’ it would be premature for the Government to introduce legislation.

Matters were further complicated by another spate of ‘spy cases’; the Vassall affair in 1962 seemed to be the culmination of them which had included Gordon Lonsdale and the Profumo affair. At the end of this period Mr. Macmillan resigned. He was succeeded by his Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas Home; He saw ‘no reason to think there had been a significant change in the balance of opinion since that time (the motion was heavily defeated in a debate in 1960), and I know that the Home Secretary, who has been keeping the matter under view, agrees with me.’

Further interruptions included the General Election when Labour was returned with a majority of five. We all know that it was not until July 27th 1967 that the Sexual Offences Act received the Royal Assent.

In moving that ‘this Bill do now pass’, Lord Arran said:

When we first debated these affairs – and how long ago it seems! – I said that your Lordships had it in your power to remove fear from the hearts of men. This you have done. It was this House that gave the lead. Because of the Bill now to be enacted, perhaps a million human beings will be able to live in greater peace. I find this an awesome and marvellous thing … My Lords, Mr. Wilde was right: the road has been long and the martyrdoms many, monstrous and bloody. Today, please God! sees the end of that road.

Mr. Montgomery Hyde’s book is a good account of the years leading up to the passing of the Act in 1967 and the years immediately following but I would now like to see a sequel dealing with our hopes for the future and the way these achieved. Many older homosexuals think that now the law has changed they do not need any thing further. They are free to live together as they choose, so long as they are over 21 etc., and can do so now without fear of summary arrest and search without warrant. But it is very important that the element who are dedicated to general liberation should agitate for those who are to come later. There is certainly nothing to be complacent about. We are bound to be unpopular. Oscar Wilde, writing quite some time before his trial had this to say:

Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent among them. That is why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation.

This book is about an advance towards civilisation. We have come a long way since the | days of the capital offence but we have a long way still to go.