Secret Service Theologian

The period 1860 to 1900 proved to be one during which there was almost continuous decrease in crime. . . . By signal successes in sensational cases, and by steady achievement in the less advertised everyday business of dealing with rogues in general, the C.I.D. built up in the ‘nineties a world-wide reputation for efficiency in crime detection.
"Scotland yard and the Metropolitan Police", by Sir John MOYLAN.

SIR HARRY FURNISS, the famous artist, devotes a chapter of his book Some Victorian Men to the London Police, in which he says “One of the hardest-working and most brilliant heads of the Criminal Investigation Department for many years was that eminent Victorian, Sir Robert Anderson, K.G.B.”
The “Jack the Ripper” scare, resulting from the Whitechapel murders of the year 1888, synchronised with my father’s appointment as Assistant Commissioner of Metropolitan Police and Chief of the C.I.D. For reasons of health he was ordered two months’ complete rest before entering upon his duties, and after a week at the Yard he left for the Continent. The second of the murders was committed the night before he took office and the third occurred during the night of the day on which he left London. The newspapers soon began to comment on his absence, and when two more victims had fallen to the knife of the murderer-fiend, an urgent appeal from the Home Secretary brought the new Chief back to duty. "We hold you responsible for finding the murderer" were the words which greeted him.
Thus he entered upon an office which was far from being a bed of roses. Apart from the state of alarm produced by the murders, there had been a good deal to make conditions in the Police Force difficult at that period. Two years previously the Chief Commissioner, Sir Edmund Henderson, had resigned when called to account over a West End riot. There were constant bickerings between his successor, Sir Charles Warren, and Mr. James Monro, then in charge of the detective department. Further, the rank and file objected to the military discipline introduced by Sir Charles, who was a distinguished soldier. His popularity was established however by his defence of the Force against what were considered unjust strictures by the Home Office on the occasion of further riots.
Anderson had been warned that he would "never get on with Warren." But he found the Commissioner frank and open; he was treated as a colleague and left quite unfettered in the control of his department. It was therefore a matter of regret to him when Sir Charles became so annoyed by the ways of the Home Office that he in turn threw up his appointment. To my father’s great satisfaction, however, the new Chief Commissioner was Mr. Monro, the former Head of the C.I.D., a personal friend. All seemed set fair for a time of happy and fruitful co-operation between them; but once again friction between the Home Office and the Commissioner led to the latter’s resignation.
His successor was Colonel Sir Edward Bradford of the Indian Army. Shortly after his appointment he wrote:
"19th August, 1890.
"My DEAR ANDER50N, - It was a pleasure to have your kind letter. . . . I had a most delightful morning with your people in the C.I.D., and look forward to many more of a similar nature after your return. Nothing I like so much as men who are enthusiastic in regard to their work; and I am delighted to find you are so about C.I.D. matters.
"Yours very sincerely,
"E. R. C. Bradford."
Going back to the time when my father entered upon his new duties, he found that the officers of the C.I.D. had become demoralised by the treatment accorded to Mr. Monro - a strong esprit de corps always existing in the department. They believed too that they were regarded with jealousy in the Force. The feeling of discouragement had affected their work, the Commissioner’s report for 1888 recording that crime had shown a decided tendency to increase. So strong was the feeling about Mr. Monro that the new Chief had some difficulty in persuading Chief-Superintendent Williamson not to resign. My father only learned afterwards that he himself had been protected by Sir Charles Warren when the Home Office wanted to call him to account because there was not an immediate change for the better.
Warren had not only to suffer the nagging ways of the Home Office, but to face considerable public criticism on account of failure to find "Jack the Ripper." A cartoon of the period in the Pall Mall Budget shows an East End deputation in the Commissioner’s office. Upon walls and desk and lying on the floor are regulations and instructions about drill. A police officer stands stiffly at attention. The deputation protests: "Another murder, Sir Charles, the fourth in . . ." The Commissioner in uniform with sword and medals replies: "Why bother me over such a trifle? Still, if something must be done, what do you say, Inspector, to another hour’s battalion drill?" The Home Secretary, Mr. Matthews, was also attacked in the Press. Innumerable letters with theories and suggestions were sent to the police and the papers. One theory propounded was that the murderer was a Malay serving in a ship, who committed the crimes during brief shore leave.
The facts were that the locality in which the crimes occurred was full of narrow streets with small shops over almost every one of which was a foreign name. The victims belonged to a small class of degraded women frequenting the East End at night. However the fact be accounted for, no further murder in the series took place after a warning had been given that the police would not protect them if found on the prowl after midnight. The criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent kind living in the immediate vicinity. The police reached the conclusion that he and his people were aliens of a certain low type, that the latter knew of the crimes but would not give him up. Two clues which might have led to an arrest were destroyed before the C.I.D. had a chance of seeing them, one a clay pipe, the other some writing with chalk on a wall. Scotland Yard, however, had no doubt that the criminal was eventually found. The only person who ever had a good view of the murderer identified the suspect without hesitation the instant he was confronted with him; but he refused to give evidence. Sir Robert stated as a fact that the man was an alien from Eastern Europe, and believed that he died in an asylum.
Probably few people know how the name Scotland Yard originated. From the time of the Norman Conquest there had been a place in Whitehall known as "Scotland," where Scottish kings and queens stayed when on visits to the English court. In Stuart days the Palace of Whitehall included a court or yard named Scotland Yard because it was part of the original "Scotland" or adjacent to it. The detective department of the police used to have its office there, and when the new headquarters on the Thames Embankment were built they were given the name of New Scotland Yard.
The Metropolitan Police district extended over a radius of fifteen miles from Charing Cross, covering an area of 700 square miles, with a population in 1900 of over seven and a half millions. The problem which daily faced the C.I.D. was to find criminals hidden in such a crowd. Like a spider in the midst of a monster web, the Chief was in touch with inspectors attached to each of the twenty-one divisions into which Greater London was subdivided.
"When I took charge," wrote my father, "I was no novice in matters relating to criminals and crime. I was not a little surprised therefore to find occasion for suspecting that one of my principal subordinates was trying to impose on me as though I were an ignoramus. For when any important crime of a certain kind occurred, and I set myself to investigate it in Sherlock Holmes fashion, he used to listen to me in the way so many people listen to sermons in church; and when I was done he would stolidly announce that the crime was the work of A, B, C, or naming one of his stock heroes. It was Old Carr, or Wirth, or Sausage, or Shrimps, or Quiet Joe, or Red Bob, etc., etc., one name or another being put forward according to the nature of the crime."
However, on putting the subordinate’s statements to the test, it appeared that he was generally right, for "great crimes are the work of great criminals, and great criminals are very few," that is, skilled and resourceful criminals capable of certain types of crime. The problem, then, is not to find the offender in a population of many millions, but to pick him out from a few definitely known "specialists."
In his reminiscences my father mentions a few cases in illustration. One was a "ladder larceny" at a country house in Cheshire. The Chief Constable of the county called next day to invoke the aid of the C.I.D. He gave a vague description of two strangers who had been seen near the house the day before the burglary. He was shown three photographs, and at once identified two of them as the men in question. One was "Quiet Joe," and the other his special pal. Arrest and conviction followed.
A man named Benson was the son of an English clergyman. He was a man of real ability, of rare charm of manner and an accomplished linguist. Upon the occasion of one of Madame Patti’s visits to America, he ingratiated himself with the customs officers at New York, and thus got on board the liner before the arrival of the reception committee. He was a stranger to the great singer, but she was charmed by his bearing and appearance and the perfection of his Italian, and had no reason to doubt that he had been commissioned for the part he was playing. And when the members of the Committee arrived they assumed that he was a friend of hers, with the result that she took his arm when disembarking. All this was done with a view to the carrying out of a huge fraud, the detection of which brought him to ruin. The man was capable of filling any position; but the life of adventure and ease provided by a criminal career had a fascination for him.
Another great criminal was Raymond, who like Benson had a respectable parentage. His schemes were Napoleonic. His most famous coup was a great diamond robbery. His cupidity was excited by the accounts of the Kimberley mines, and he sailed for South Africa to investigate. He found that the arrival of the diamonds at the coast was timed to catch the mail steamer for England, but if accidentally delayed on the way they had to lie in the post office till the next mail left. He had no difficulty in obtaining wax impressions of the postmaster’s keys; in fact, the postmaster was one of a group of admiring friends whom he entertained at dinner the evening before he sailed.
Some months later he returned to South Africa under an assumed name and cleverly disguised. The diamond convoys had to cross a river ferry on their way to the coast. Making his way up-country to the place, he unshipped the chain of the ferry and let the boat drift down stream, and the next convoy missed the mail. £90,000 worth of diamonds had to be deposited in the post office strong-room. They reached England in Raymond’s possession, and he afterwards boasted that he sold them to their rightful owners in Hatton Garden!
Raymond loved his "work" for its own sake; and though he lived in luxury and style, he kept at it to the last, organising and financing many an important crime. It was he who stole the famous Gainsbprough picture for which the record price of £10,000 had recently been paid.
A doctor friend told my father of having an extraordinary patient. The man was wealthy and lived sumptuously, but was extremely hypochondriacal. Every now and then an urgent summons would bring the doctor to the house to find the patient in bed with nothing whatever the matter. He always insisted on having a prescription however, which was promptly sent to the chemist. The last summons had been exceptionally urgent; and when the doctor entered the room with unusual abruptness, the patient sprang up in bed and covered him with a revolver! Raymond (for it was he) knew that his movements were of interest to the police; and if he had reason to fear that he had been seen in dangerous company, he bolted home and sent for the doctor, whose evidence, confirmed by the chemist’s books, would prove that he was ill in bed until after the hour at which the police supposed they had seen him miles away.
My father put Dr. Max Nordau’s "type" theory to a test when the latter called on him at Scotland Yard. Dr. Nordau was shown two photos covered so that only the faces could be seen, and told that the one was an eminent public man, the other a notorious criminal. He was challenged to say which was the criminal "type." He shirked the challenge; for as a matter of fact the criminal’s face looked more benevolent than the other and certainly as "strong." "The one was Raymond alias Wirth - the most eminent of the criminal fraternity of my time - and the other was Archbishop Temple. Need I add that my story is intended to discredit, not his Grace of Canterbury, but the Lombroso ‘type’ theory?"
At the time of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887 there was a hellish plan to bring about a dynamite explosion in Westminster Abbey during the ceremony. The Irish Fenians in America had issued a circular announcing the early renewal of active operations, "a pyrotechnic display in honour of the Jubilee" being specially indicated. The scheme was discovered and thwarted by Mr. James Monro, then Chief of the C.I.D., with whom my father was in close touch in connection with his Secret Service work. Ten years later there occurred the last in the series of these plots. A gang of dynamiters crossed from America in August 1896. The leader, a man called Ivory alias Bell, landed at Antwerp and made his way to Glasgow, where he was arrested. His chief confederate, Tynan by name, the "No. 1 " of the Phoenix Park murders - was arrested by the local police at Boulogne, the others at Rotterdam. Ivory was put on trial, but the Law Officers of the Crown on learning that one of the gang had given information decided to withdraw from the prosecution. Just before this occurred, Ivory’s counsel had told my father in strict confidence that he would withdraw his plea of not guilty if he would promise to get him a light sentence. The C.I.D. Chief said he was confident he could obtain an early remission if Ivory would openly express regret for his share in the conspiracy. Ivory was just about to make such a statement when the Solicitor-General interposed to announce the decision at which the Law Officers had arrived.
"Such are our ways with dynamiters," wrote my father:
"these men were aliens who came in time of peace to perpetrate outrages which if committed by soldiers in war-time would ensure them short shrift after trial by drumhead court-martial. . . . And yet these miscreants were treated with a quixotic leniency that would not be extended to ordinary criminals. For the measures adopted to detect quasi political crime in no way differ from these by which every competent police force deals with organised crime of any kind."
In this case the information was given, not by one who could possibly be accused of being an agent provocateur, but by one who had gone as far as he safely could in checking the schemes of his confederates. When the case was first reported to the Home Secretary he took the view which was finally adopted by the Law Officers, that there should be no prosecution. He decided, however, to put the matter before the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. So my father went with Sir Matthew Ridley, afterwards Viscount Ridley, to Walmer Castle. The Home Secretary after stating his own view said: "Anderson differs from me entirely." When the Premier had heard both sides and asked a number of questions, he gave his decision unreservedly in favour of the latter.
Incidentally, I remember my father coming home and telling us how much he had enjoyed his visit to Walmer, where Lord Salisbury was in residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports; this included a very simple and informal luncheon at which he found himself seated between his host and hostess. During lunch and afterwards on the terrace many matters were discussed, amongst them the Channel Tunnel scheme and of course Ireland and the Irish. On the return journey Sir Matthew Ridley generously expressed his gratification at the Prime Minister’s having been satisfied that the Ivory case might be allowed to proceed, and he afterwards noted his full approval of the police action. But, as already stated, the Law Officers decided to throw their hand in. An additional point however must be mentioned. It appeared from the evidence that Bell had left the Antwerp house before the arrival there of the explosives; and, although his conduct gave cause for the gravest suspicion, the Solicitor-General felt unable to press for a conviction, the accused’s counsel paying a tribute to Sir Robert Finlay’s judicial fairness in the matter. The case received a good deal of publicity, the police being complimented on the almost simultaneous arrest of the suspects in Glasgow, Boulogne and Rotterdam. There was on the other hand - the usual attack by Irish members in the House, who asserted that the whole prosecution originated in a fraud concocted by the police and carried out by agents provocateurs, a charge which was indignantly repudiated by the Home Secretary. In the course of a leading article on the case, The Times said:
"It is greatly to be regretted that no official notice was taken of the gross attacks upon Mr. Robert Anderson, the able and energetic Assistant-Commissioner who has the control of the Criminal Investigation Department, and to whose vigilance and activity it is undoubtedly due that so many detestable terrorist conspiracies have been nipped in the bud. . . . There can be no shadow of doubt that a great crime was being prepared in the bomb factory at Antwerp and that its execution was defeated by measures adopted by the C.I.D."
In The Lighter Side of My Official Life Sir Robert wrote: "When Mr. Joseph Chamberlain visited America in 1896 there was a formidable plot to assassinate him at the home where he was sojourning. Facts which came to light convinced the local police of the truth of the information received, and the American authorities deemed it necessary to take very special measures for his protection." The following letter from Mr. Chamberlain refers to that time
"Oct. 11th, 1896.
"DEAR MR. ANDERSON, - . . . I feel that I ought to write at once to thank you for your activity on my behalf while I was in the United States. It is not pleasant to be accompanied everywhere by policemen, but I have undergone the experience before, and have no doubt that in the present case it prevented very disagreeable consequences. I was living in an isolated house in the country to which access was perfectly easy and open, so that any ill-intentioned person would have had no difficulty in reaching me, but for the guards placed there by the U.S. Government.
"There is one paragraph in your letter which I do not understand. You say the gentleman entrusted with the duty of despatching me was ‘sent to the West.’ But I was all the time in the East, at a small village in Massachussets. I do not know how they found out that I was guarded, for we managed to keep the matter very quiet and there was no notice of it in any of the papers till after I had sailed. . .
"Please accept my renewed thanks. I am only sorry to have been the cause of so much trouble.
"I hope you will get Tynan! Yours very truly,
The South Western Railway murder case in 1897 was of special interest for two reasons. First, it was a striking example of the difference between French and British methods of dealing with such crimes. A young woman was found dead in one of the coaches of a train arriving at the London terminus. It was obviously a case of murder. The French police would have closed the station, and no one would have been allowed to leave until they had finished their investigations. But at Waterloo, not only were all the passengers permitted to go their ways, but the body was removed and the carriage cleaned so that any possible clue was lost before the C.I.D. were informed.
The case was of particular interest also because in spite of this handicap an elaborate chain of circumstantial evidence closed round a certain person. The only apparent flaw in it was that a principal witness wavered in his identification of the suspected man. The ground of hesitation was that this man was clean-shaven, whereas the murderer had worn a moustache. The witness did not know, however, that an hour before the crime was committed the man whom he had singled out of a dozen paraded for inspection had purchased a false moustache at a barber’s shop!
That fact seemed to render a case which was already strong both complete and irresistible. But it was inseparably bound up with another fact. The distance between the barber’s shop and the station at which the murderer joined his victim on the train was adequate proof of an alibi which shattered the whole case against the accused. That one fact possibly saved him from the gallows.
This story was used by my father in his book Pseudo-Criticism to illustrate the fallacious arguments of some critics of the Bible, who thought that a seemingly complete case against the genuineness of a book was sufficient evidence to decide the issue as one of their "assured results."
Another story which he reckoned an instance of truth being stranger than fiction was that of a great City house which was victimised by a plausible swindler who had a recipe for multiplying gold! The firm actually advanced the man £20,000 in sovereigns; a house was hired in Whitechapel and a laboratory fitted up. The experiments ended in the complete disappearance of the scientist and of the £20,000. He had insisted on being searched every time he left the laboratory; so how the feat had been accomplished was a mystery until, in sheer bravado, he told his victims that on every occasion his hollow walking-stick had been packed with sovereigns! He was confident that the firm would not prosecute for fear of the ridicule which would be incurred; and he judged rightly.
Much ordinary police work has always been concerned with the prevention of crime rather than with its detection, and is of necessity performed behind the scenes. The duty of protecting royal personages visiting Britain fell to Scotland Yard, and Chief-Inspector Melville was frequently entrusted with this task. In a private letter to my father from Windsor in November 1899, he mentioned that when out shooting the previous day the Prince of Wales [afterwards Edward VII] and the Duke of York had cordially shaken hands with him, and the Prince had said the Queen was very pleased at his being sent down. He continued:
"I thanked H.R.H. and told him that every precaution was being taken, but in as quiet a manner as possible. Subsequently the Duke had several conversations with me as to the relative merits of the Continental police. I was surprised later on when the Emperor [Kaiser Wilhelm of the 1914 - I 8 war] came away from the Royal party and shook hands with me very heartily; he said: ‘You have a wonderful police force in England. Our detective force in Germany is very bad; there is always a lot of fuss, but nothing done.’ His Majesty spoke in this strain for several minutes, and I thanked him for his appreciation of the English police." For some time Mr. Melville was the officer personally responsible for the safety of Queen Victoria.
In his Memoirs of a Royal Detective, ex-Detective-Inspector H. T. Fitch writes : "It is certain that one of the Kaiser’s attendants for a long period was an English ex-detective of the name of Bell." He tells also of the last Emperor of Russia saying to him: "I wish you were in my police service, Mr. Fitch. My police are much harsher than yours in England, yet how much do they achieve? Yet you seem to have the measure of these revolutionaries." The detectives deputed to guard foreign royalties received many personal gifts. Occasionally their Chief was also remembered in this way, twice by the ill-fated Nicholas II of Russia, the first time when he was Czarevitch, the gift being a Russian salt-cellar. The second present was a diamond ring of such dimensions that it might fit a super-size thumb. The diamonds with the Imperial monogram made a fine brooch for my mother. The gold ring, reduced to normal size, with the Russian N, II and crown reproduced, I am wearing to-day.
As illustrating the slight measure of precaution considered necessary in the case of our own Royal Family, my father told of an experience which greatly impressed him. It was in 1894 when the Duke and Duchess of York were away on one of their tours and the Duke and Duchess of Teck were abroad. On returning from a holiday my father received a private letter telling him of things being said in anarchist clubs about "Prince Eddy," now the Duke of Windsor, who was then at the White Lodge in Richmond Park. Riding out there next morning he found that the nurse might be seen any day walking unattended in the Park with the baby in her arms. "What a delightful picture of the peace and security of life in this favoured land!" The lady in charge at the lodge gave cordial consent to certain police measures which seemed desirable, and my father’s visits passed as friendly calls. When the Duchess of Teck returned she expressed her gratitude, and a friendly discussion took place as to what might be done when the Duke and Duchess of York came back to St. James’s Palace. Appeals were made to my father to withdraw his objection to the child being taken to the Green Park for his daily outing. But the presence in London of foreign anarchists had to be taken into account. "Was there another capital in all Europe," he asks, "in which the suggestion would be entertained of an infant Prince in the direct line of succession to the throne being taken daily by his nurse to a public park?"
Some readers may be interested in knowing the impression made upon Press interviewers by the C.I.D. Chief. One of them said: "Dr. Robert Anderson is essentially a reticent and retiring man. Pressmen usually despair of getting any interesting information out of him, and he is one of the most difficult men in the public service to interview. He undoubtedly knows more about the criminal classes than any other man in this country." A representative of the Evening News had "A Chat with the Prince of Detectives," mainly about the finger-print system of indentification which was about to be adopted. "People who have not seen him," said the interviewer, "probably expect to hear that he possesses the ‘keen grey eyes’ with which writers of fiction have always endowed their criminal investigators. Mr. Anderson’s are like any other pair of pleasant eyes . . . He looks - this quiet gentleman who has had his finger unceasingly on the pulse of crime for so many years, and who has seen through the network of the Irish physical-force party’s conspiracies - a simple unobtrusive citizen, and such in private life he undoubtedly is." An article in Black and White on "The Detectives who Frustrated the Dynamite Plot" (in 1896) said : "In Dr. Anderson’s appearance there is more of the man of peace than of the, terror of conspirators. Yet it is certain that he has been a conspicuous success in his high office, thanks to his analytical mind, his keen reasoning powers, and his 'scent’ for the right trail. He is frigid and reserved when on duty at least, and his trifling hardness of hearing becomes practical stone-deafness when embarassing questions are asked. . . . Chief-Inspector Melville, the head of the Special Division of Scotland Yard, or the Dynamite Brigade as they are called, is a man of another type as far at least as personal appearance goes, though he is a great admirer of Dr. Anderson, whose patience, caution and discernment inspire the utmost confidence in all associated with him." Another impression, given two years later, was: "Dr. Anderson has been described and fitly as the ideal detective of real life, yet he bears but little resemblance to those of the novelists’ creation. . . His power of close and rapid reasoning from facts and his marvellous quickness in seizing on the essential points in difficult cases are at once the wonder and admiration of the men under his control. Naturally he is a discreet, silent and reserved man; his training has made him even more so, but no officer who has yet presided over the affairs of the C.I.D. can boast of being more popular or more genuinely respected by his subordinates."
In a report of a lecture on Professional Criminals before the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in 1903, the Yorkshire Weekly Post said "After many years’ service in the responsible position of spider in the centre of a web which reaches almost to the end of the earth, he is now a gray, elderly man, somewhat stern and searching, cool and calculating, as befits an official of Scotland Yard; but in truth warm-hearted and jocular, ever ready with a quip and a joke, and on the whole impressing one as a sane and delightful man of the world."
"John 0’ London," in his Unposted Letters, writing of some remarks concerning Sherlock Holmes by Sir Basil Thomson, then Chief of the C.I.D., goes on to say: "This brought back to me an interesting experience. Nearly twenty years ago, when the Sherlock Holmes stories were being read and talked about every-where, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to obtain Scotland Yard’s opinion of Conan Doyle’s hero. Accordingly I wrote to Sir Robert Anderson, who two years earlier had retired from his post as Head of the C.I.D. Hardly hoping for results, I was gratified when his card was handed to me, and was followed by the expert himself. He sat down and at once began to talk. I saw a keen and kindly old gentleman who looked like a super-detective by not looking like one at all. He was indeed better known to me as a distinguished theologian and scholar. Still, there was that in his eye which one could connect with the penetralia of the Yard. The result of our talk was that he undertook to write an article. It was entitled ‘Sherlock Holmes as seen by Scotland Yard,’ and it is as interesting to-day as when it was written." Referring to the article, John 0’ London says:
"The real relation of a Sherlock Holmes to a first-class Scotland Yard detective was put to me by Sir Robert very simply: the inventor of a detective story makes both the lock and the key, whereas Scotland Yard is limited to finding the key to the lock.... In a detective story we are interested from first to last in the solution of the mystery; that solution is the detective’s triumph.
But in real life the elucidation of the mystery is only the first chapter; if there is no second there is no story and no triumph."
My father’s private diaries contain a few brief references to his official work. In April 1893 there is this note: "Saw Bradford. By his desire I saw Mr. Asquith on Townsend’s case. (Attempt to shoot Mr. Gladstone.) Later to see Sir Algernon West about protecting Mr. G." In October 1893: "4 o’c to Trafalgar Square with Macnaghten to see an Anarchist meeting." In June of the same year: "The Australian cricketers came to see the Museum. Had chats with Bannerman, Giffen, Blackham, Lyons,’ etc." (The "Black Museum" at Scotland Yard was full of gruesome records of crime and criminals; I have a vivid recollection of it.) A week later he went with Sir Evelyn RugglesBrice to Paris: "Called on M. Lepine, who received us with great cordiality. To Bertillon’s Bureau. Saw Cochefort of the Sureté and Guillot, head of the uniform police. To a reception by the President and Madame Faure at the Elysee. Saw Marie Antoinette’s cell in the Conciergerie."
On 18th October 1898 : "Col. Dawson, Military Attaché of our Embassy in Paris, called with an introduction from the Foreign Office to ask my help in finding agents to keep our government informed of movements of the French army and navy in the event of war, which he deemed probable." There are many notes of visits by parents whose sons or daughters were missing or in trouble, and by society people concerned about lost possessions. One entry is of a very different kind: "Lady W. called by appointment, and I had an hour’s talk with her. Found her ‘tender’ and eager to hear the Gospel. I had sent her The Silence of God."
The last incident suggests a reference to the many meetings addressed in connection with the Christian Police Association;
Miss Catherine Gurney, its founder, wrote after my father’s death: "I shall always remember the very many kindnesses and encouraging words and all the kind help he gave us in the early part of our work." At a convention of the Association in Bolton the diary notes that he spoke on police duty being in the line of God’s government of the world (Romans xiii). There are several mentions of "Maud Colley’s Police Class; about 100 young P.C.s." Meetings on behalf of the Police Court Mission are also referred to, one of them in the Mansion House, London. Many others are mentioned in connection with Police Institutes and Orphanages in Birmingham, Leeds, Harrogate, Glasgow and other cities. At a Police Institute meeting in Grosvenor House, London, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir Robert were the speakers.
There are frequent references to lectures and addresses on crime and its problems, one to the Whitefriar’s Club, another to a large audience in the Cory Hall, Cardiff. On the lighter side was a dinner of the County Chief-Constables’ Club, at which Lord Desart and my father were the chief guests. Many of these activities were of course after his resignation.
Returning now to his service at "the Yard": Sir John Moylan in his Scotland lard and the Metropolitan Police states that "the period 1890 to 1900 proved to be one during which there was an almost continuous decrease in crime." He continues: "By signal successes in sensational murder cases such as that of Neil Cream the poisoner, and Milsom and Fowler the Muswell Hill murderers, and by steady achievement in the less advertised everyday business of dealing with rogues in general, the C.I.D. built up in the "nineties’ a world-wide reputation for efficiency in crime detection . . . Crime reached a low watermark in 1899." The period of my father’s service as Chief of the C.I .D. was 1888 to 1901.
In Criminals and Crime he himself wrote : "It is to the habit of dealing with criminals instead of with crime that the phenomenal success of the C.I.D. is largely due. I have no reserve in praising a department of which I was recently the Chief, and for the excellent reason that no one knows better than I do to whom the praise for that success is due. With a chief who did not enjoy the fullest confidence and respect of his subordinates success would be impossible. But the best of chiefs can do little more than stand behind the working staff - a body of officers that as a body when judged by the double test of efficiency and character are unequalled in the world. Character I include with emphasis because it is often overlooked when judging the relative merits of different Forces."
Amongst those who supported him so loyally and effectively at Scotland Yard, Sir Melville Macnaghten, Superintendent Frederick Williamson and Chief-Inspector William Melville have already been mentioned. Others whose names frequently appear in the records of causes célebres were Inspector (later Sir Patrick) Quinn, who went after Pigott the forger when the latter fled to Spain, and Chief Inspector Frank Froest, who brought Jabez Balfour back from the Argentine and who was concerned also in the Adolph Beck case.
In the words of George Dilnot in his interesting Story of Scotland Yard, "Sir Robert Anderson after honourable and distinguished service for many years retired from the Criminal Investigation Department in 1901." His friend Major-General J. C. Russell, C.V.0., Equerry to King Edward VII, wrote : - "I don’t know whether to congratulate you or to condole with the State. . . . As a wretched item in the Commonwealth I feel that my person and goods are no longer so safe as they were."
The New Year honours in 1896 had included the Companionship of the Order of the Bath, the decoration being bestowed by Queen Victoria at Windsor. He found the lack of ceremony there somewhat embarrassing, Her Majesty being seated in an armchair in the middle of the drawing-room. His loyalty and veneration betrayed him into giving her hand a real kiss instead of the correct purely ceremonial touch, and he noticed an amused smile on her face as he bowed himself out. To his reief however, Sir Fleetwood Edwards, who was in attendance, followed him to say that the Queen wanted to know more about him. After relinquishing office, the rank of K.C.B. (Knight Commander) was conferred on him by King Edward VII in 1901. Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi, wrote: "The honour must be greatly enhanced by the consciousness that it has been earned by diligent labour. ‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before Kings.’"
Amongst other letters of congratulation which gave him special pleasure was one from Inspector Kirchner quoting Browning’s lines, "The best is yet to be, The last of life for which the first was made," and one from Superintendent Donald Swanson who wrote: "It was with real pleasure that I read this morning that my old master was the recipient of honour from H.M. the King. Everybody I have spoken to here is pleased." Every Christmas thereafter brought greetings from Mr. Swanson; in 1917 he wrote:
"My best wishes to Lady Agnes and you my dear former master. I often think of you and your kindnesses to me which are remembered with pleasure and are impossible to forget."
The reply said:
"I was greatly gratified by your remembrance of me. My very pleasant memories of my service at ‘the Yard’ are mainly associated with the Staff of the department, and very specially with my senior officers. I don’t believe there was one of you who had an unkind thought about me. . . . Very heartily do I wish you all good during the year about to begin. ‘Tis a sad and a solemn time we are living in. As for me, its sadness would overwhelm me were it not for the Faith and the Hope which become more real and more gladdening as the days go by." In a letter to myself after my father’s death Mr. Swanson said:
"Yes, certainly you have my willing permission to publish any letter to me from my dear respected master, if it will help you to portray his character as I found him during the many years I was under him. . . . He was able, just, firm, good and kind. We never knew an unpleasantness, though we differed sometimes, but very seldom and then over very trivial matters. I am conscious that I owe him very much and shall always feel grateful. Under him were spent the happiest of my thirty-five years’ service."
Another chapter will tell of Sir Robert’s long campaign, waged both before and after his retirement, for drastic reforms in the methods of dealing with criminals and crime.
Chapter Five

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