High Peak News

21 April 1888

Sudden death of a woman at whaley Bridge

To the Editor


If I had wished to reply to the attack made upon me in your issue of the 7th inst. by “A. Vicar” I could not have done so last week, as I was under the ban of a fearful (?) threat, which the sapient “A. Vicar,” boy-like held over my head.

He threatened that unless I replied to his letter he would publish some correspondence that had passed between us. This didn’t frighten me very much; and being anxious that the public should see how superlatively ridiculous such a threat was, I purposely refrained from replying, hoping and expecting that the said correspondence will appear in the same issue as this, for has not “A. Vicar” said “I shall publish the private correspondence.”

But don’t be alarmed, dear readers. You may safely read it; there is nothing shocking in it, no bad language, nothing half so bad as in “A. Vicar’s” last letter; in fact, except that he dates from “The Country Forum” and talks of his friends in the House of Commons, there is nothing even to laugh at, so why the correspondence is to be published I can’t tell.

When my former letter was written it was penned most temperately and to the point. I have just read it over, and find that except for the word “maudlin,” which surely is not a very savage word, and the word “philanthropist,” which I now apologise for using in connection with “A. Vicar’s” name, there is not a single word that even a young lady or an ordinary sensitive boy could cavil at. The case rested more on a plain statement of it than upon any strong language; and from all that comes to my ears the great majority of the Whaley Bridge people are satisfied that nothing more is required to be said in further vindication of the subject of that letter.

“A. Vicar” strongly objects to my quotation about robbing men of their good names; but before this is finished “A. Vicar” will be convicted by himself of being a robber of the meanest kind. “A. Vicar” quotes, in reference to himself, “I dare do all,” &c., but it shall be left to those who know the remainder of the quotation, who have read “A. Vicar’s” last letter, and who see his robbery, plagiarism, or whatever you like to call it, in this, to say whether he has not done more than “may become a man,” an, as a logical consequence, “is none.”

From his last letter I am inclined to think “A. Vicar” only a boy, perhaps a youth. Now, don’t let this vex “A. Vicar,” for youth is no disgrace, if it be found in the paths of innocence. My reason for judging him a “simple youth” is that he speaks of me as a very old man, for he goes on “Nor shall anything but age restrain my resentment.” I ought to be glad my appearance misled “A. Vicar” as so my age; for has it not saved me from his resentment?

“A. Vicar” describes me as one “who sprang into the controversy with the evident desire to make everybody think he was a descendant of the ‘Anarchy.’ “ Now, could a sensible person ever suppose for one moment that anyone would wish to be thought a descendant of the “Anarchy”? Why would they?

It would be quite out of reason to expect to be allowed to take up your valuable space by going seriatim over every line of “A. Vicar’s” letter, though every line is a joke in some form; but please let me cull a few of the expressions he uses in respect of me and my friends for writing the letter which I refer to at the beginning of this.

“Specious defender,” --- (will “A. Vicar” kindly look up his dictionary and see what “specious” means, and then explain how it applies?) – “would-be aristocrats,” “suckling sycophants,” “calumniator,” “villain,” “wealth and dignity,” “insolent,” “supercilious,” “aggressor.” Now, I would have forgiven “A. Vicar” the “suckling sycophant,” &c., if he had only spared me the bitter irony of connecting my name with “wealth and dignity.” Why, everybody at Whaley Bridge knows how lamentably deficient I am of the former and my writing this quite proves my want of the latter.

If “A. Vicar” will only apologise for ironically alluding to my “wealth and dignity,” and will retract the words “would-be aristocrat,” I really will forgive him. Perhaps he is already punished too much, for his mental anguish must have been great, or how could he write “I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty is invaded?” Who, in the name of fortune, has threatened to invade his liberty? Or who ever wanted to stop him exerting his “endeavour, at whatever hazard, to repel the aggressor?” What is the hazard and who is the aggressor?

“A. Vicar” goes on – “Should it be necessary, I shall be prepared at a future date to have the evidence of my informants placed in a court of law and attested on oath.” Who is going to law, and for what? Further on comes, “Having, then, shown the sincerity of my espousal of the case by my desire to obtain the truth ---------“and, as if he had not yet reached the height of his absurdity, he says “Should he (A.H. Colles) still disdain (prave ‘ords) to move in the manner I have indicated, it will be necessary for me , however regrettable (to whom?) to take other means to attain the desired ends; and should he not reply to this letter in your next issue, as a preliminary step to those means I shall publish the private correspondence between A.H. Colles and myself.” Well, I have not disdained at my own convenience to “answer a fool according to his folly;” and the old proverb, that “A man that driveth an ass must have a strong stick,” is my excuse for so pointedly calling attention to the nonsense contained in “A. Vicar’s” letter, and to which I have not done half justice.

I must not forget that “A. Vicar” is to be proved a robber. Dr Johnson, speaking of a man who was using “tall” words, described him as one who has been to a “feast of languages and stolen the scraps.” Now Dr Johnson practically called that man a thief, but if the said man had not only stolen the language, but also the ideas of a great man, and prostituted them both, what would Dr Johnson have called him? But it does not much matter what Dr Johnson would have called him; the question is – What will the Whaley Bridge people call such a person? But that there may be no mistake as to “A. Vicar” having committed a robbery, please allow me to put in two columns what “A. Vicar” wrote in his last letter, and what Pitt spoke in reply to Walpole.

what “A. Vicar” wrote                         What pitt said

I am always careful in                        If any man shall, by charg-

controversies of any descrip-               ing me with theatrical be-

tion of the language I use,                 haviour imply that I utter

but when a man implies                     any sentiment but my own,

in a meeting where he can-                I shall treat him as a calum-

not be answered that I and                niator and a villain; nor

others wish to damage his                 shall any protection shelter

character, I shall treat him                 him from the treatment

as a calumniator and a vil-                 which he deserves. I shall

lain, nor shall any protec-                  on such an occasion, with-

tion shelter him from the                   out scruple, trample upon

treatment which he de-                     all these forms, with which

serves. I shall on such an                  wealth and dignity entrench

occasion without scruple                    themselves; nor shall any-

trample upon all those                      thing but age restrain my

forms with which wealth                    resentment – age which al-

and dignity entrench them-                ways brings one privilege –

selves, nor shall anything                  that of being insolent and

but age restrain my resent-                supercilious without punish-

ment; age which always                     ment. I will not sit uncon-

brings with it one privi-                      cerned while my liberty

lege, that of being insolent                invaded, nor look in silence

and supercilious without                    upon public robbery. I will

punishment. I will not sit                   exert my endeavours at

unconcerned while my                        whatever hazard to repel

liberty is invaded, nor                        the aggressor, and drag the

look in silence on public                     thief to justice, what power

calumny. I will exert my                     soever may protect the vil-

endeavours at whatever                     lainy, and whoever may par-

hazard to repel the aggres-                take of the plunder. --- See

sor, and wring from him a                   “Lewis’s Penny Readings,”

full and complete apology.                 Page 17.

Just fancy even a schoolboy attempting to pass off the words of Pitt as his own, and trying to apply them to a case to which they are not applicable – it must have been Pitt’s strong language that tempted him. Will “A. Vicar” blush when he sees the above or not? I cannot tell, not knowing him; but if he does not, why then any further writing would be wasted on him.

Please notice that “A. Vicar” would pose as a philanthropist who has a mission. Let him remember the fable of the frog and the ox, and the untimely fate of the frog.

I would also advise “A. Vicar” not to copy that prince of would-be philanthropists, Don Quixote, or he may find he is attacking a windmill now and then, and share Don Quixote’s discomfiture.

I don’t for a moment think this letter will have any effect on “A. Vicar,” nor do I for a moment think he won’t reply, and no doubt “villain, “suckling sycophants,” &c., &c., will be mild language to what will appear in the next, and I shall look forward to it with considerable interest, for I know that young blood as a rule does not weigh its words.

“A. Vicar” writes, “I am always careful in controversies of any description of the language I use.” You have had specimens of the guarded language he uses towards a humble individual like myself who has only done what I believe every decent person in Whaley Bridge will give me credit for, i.e., sticking up for a friend, who was disgracefully attacked. (Ah, so they were friends then)

If “A. Vicar” gets up a public meeting, we shall then know who “we of the middle and upper class” are, and as, of course, his friends will be there, we shall be able to identify “Observer,” “Verax,” and Company, (I don’t have copies of these articles) and perhaps have a word to say to them. But who would condescend to notice the comments of one who dare write on a case wherein a gentleman’s name is publicly mentioned and attempted to be damaged, and yet dare not sign his own. I venture to quote that such a man “is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; let no such man be trusted.”

I hope, Mr. Editor, you will not consider I have infringed the rules that may be called Parliamentary. If the word “robber” is rather strong, though the stolen goods are before your eyes, I will retract it and say “A. Vicar” merely “appropriates” without leave or acknowledgment.

Yours &c,

A.H. Colles

1, Belmont, Higher Broughton, Manchester,

April 17th 1888.