Josephine Butler to Miss Priestman

Scope and Content

Written from Liverpool. She is feeling more hopeful about the Cause. She is preparing to distribute by post 1000 of Mr Collingwood's paper in which he makes public 'the machinations of these wicked doctors'.

Administrative / Biographical History

4 Jul [1874] year 1874 as son Charlie going to Clifton College is mentioned. See also letter of 23 Sep 1874 from the Butlers to Miss Priestman.

'I feared I should just miss you at York'

This refers to a Conference of Friends of Repeal held at York on 25 Jun 1874 with HJ Wilson in the Chair. It was an important meeting. JB saw clearly that just as supporters of the CD Acts maintained active interchange of ideas with promoters of regulated vice in foreign countries it was essential that Friends of Repeal should follow this example not only by promoting correspondence with other countries but also by starting a campaign on the Continent against the State regulation of vice. A resolution to this effect was passed.

The second item of importance was a paper read by the Rev CS Collingwood reviewing a book by Dr J Jeannel: 'De la Prostitution dans les grandes villes au 18ieme siecle et de l'extinction des maladies Venerieures; 2me ed Bailliere, Paris, 1874. (1st ed of this work published 1865)

This Paper 'I am preparing to distribute by post 1000 of them with a letter from myself'

In her letter she points out that the friends of legalised prostitution 'rejoice in the fact that the English have taken the step hitherto unattempted by any country of passing an Act of Parliament for the regulation of vice and that upon the bold attitude thus assumed by our Government they found their hopes of redoubled activity abroad and of a worldwide extension of the wicked and oppressive systems'

JB reports that she is already receiving support from their friends on the Continent; one she mentions especially from the Countess de Gasparin in which she urges that all Christian people throughout Europe should league themselves together to get rid of this 'patented leprosy' - the regulation of protection of prostitution (For detailed account of the Meeting at York and of JB's letter see 'Shield' Aug 1874 pp 157-158 and Sep p 176)

'Miss Wolstenholme and the VA' Being Secretary of the Vigilance Society was one of Miss Wolstenholme's (Wolstenholme-Elmy see Biog Index) numerous activities. JB often refers to the work of this Society and says how much of it touches the interests of the Repeal Societies.

'our son Charlie is going to Clifton College this autumn'

Charles was the youngest of the Butler boys, this year aged 17. He had always been delicate. On 4 May 1874 his mother writes to a friend about him: 'he has outgrown his strength and is like a languid hop pole, with a Creole's complexion and a melancholy unchildlike smile'

See letters of 23 Sep 1874 from the Butlers to Miss Priestman

Biog: Rev CS Collingwood; Mrs C Elizabeth Wolstenholme-Elny; Charles Butler; Dr J Jeannel; Countess de Gasparin