W.T. Stead by Josephine Butler

Quoted in Harold Begbie, The Life of General William Booth (2 vols., New York, 1920)

Mr. Stead is publicly known only as a brave and enterprising reformer. But to my mind the memory is ever present of a dark night in which I entered his office, after a day of hand-to-hand wrestling with the powers of Hell. We stumbled up the narrow dark stairs; the lights were out, not a soul was there, it was midnight. I scarcely recognized the haggard face before me as that of Mr. Stead.

He threw himself across his desk with a cry like that of a bereaved or outraged mother, rather than that of an indignant man, and sobbed out the words, "Oh, Mrs. Butler, let me weep, let me weep, or my heart will break." He then told me in broken sentences of the little tender girls he had seen that day sold in the fashionable West-end brothels, whom he (father-like) had taken on his knee, and to whom he had spoken of his own little girls. Well might he cry, "Oh, let me weep!"


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Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil