I must dedicate these the humble fruit of my undertakings to that king of kings and lord of lords which dwelleth in the heavenly firmament, St. Gove (sweet Gove!). Since t’is the first attempt I have made to be a public writer there can only be one to whom I might dedicate such a delicate undertaking. T’is he whose benificent gaze shines ever downward upon us (miscreant or otherwise) and whose divine goodness urges us to ever greater heights of quality and rigour the Sainted Gove. The subject of my account is such that were it not for the sake of moral instruction it should not be regaled ‘cept in company so disreputable as to be beyond all redeeming, save at the end of the hangman’s noose.
On the fourteenth day of February, 1876, the Albatross sailed, with full compliment of men and provisions, from the East India Docks in London. The ship was cheered the harbour cleared and merrily did they drop, it did seem, off the face of the earth. For when the ship had run six days out of the harbour the crew were spirited up to an act of piracy by a shipmate on board, one Robby Farthengrodden. An experienced sailor and the only son of a wealthy industrialist of Sloane Square, who had once given into his care two industrial schools (the value of which and its students he had squandered away in profligate degeneracy,drunkeness and riot).
The aforesaid Robby Farthengrodden and the crew having ditched the ship’s officers in a long boat on the high seas, went on a six month long rampage of terror, taking many prizes (amongst them the younger daughter of the governor of Windeypoole) before dropping anchor at the Isle of Hispaniola. Once there and having thoroughly quenched all his wicked and delusive desires he betook himself aboard the Beleaguered Watchman from which he was rescued (it having sunk mid-journey).
Having disembarked at the Royal Docks in London, he was identified by a cabin boy as that depraved miscreant whose wickedness had led to the hanging of the Albatross’s quartermaster. And once taken into custody it was further revealed that this dissolute and hell-bound soul was none other than the ‘Crinoline Jerker’. A licentious being who having taken to diving beneath the skirts of the gentler sex, proceeded to tug violently at their petticoats jerking them to and fro, till at length the fainting women would awaken to find themselves stripped of bonnet, and purse. This evil man had been indicted many times for this offence and had served three years at Newgate Prison as a result and, was to have served a further four, but he absconded having been permitted a day’s release from prison to attend his mother’s funeral.
Having been indicted for trial Robert Fathengrodden’s defence was this, that whilst Headmaster of St Tobias-in-the-North Industrial Academy, he had run up gambling debts to the sum of some four hundred pounds. Seeking some means whereby he might repay the debt, he had come upon that sum in the form of monies supplied for the purchase of a brass lavatorium and had stolen it (the monies not the lavatorium). Attributing his current predicament to that first misfortune he made his apologies and sought the forgiveness of the court for all offence caused whilst at sea. The court having been made aware of certain elements of his dissolute past (the deflowering and probable murder of Mary Parnham being among them),determined to send him to the gallows.
Indeed, had it not been for the testimony of the Most Reverend Father Antecletes the accused would have been for the long drop ere he departed the Old Bailey! At the place of his execution he stated that his would have been a joyous life devoted solely to the pursuit of ecstatic Goveen reflection had not several industrial schools and, the provision of a brass lavatorium fallen into his care. And that he knew there were many young men there, who followed the same evil course of life that he had done, and hoped they would take warning from his sad fate, and become in time honest and good men.
Reverend Amos Vanderbilt,
Ordinary of Newgate