Josephine Butler to Miss Forsaith

Archive Unit
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 3JBL/37/21
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 5125
  • Dates of Creation
      c. 13 Mar 1897
  • Physical Description
      1 item

Scope and Content

Written from King's Cross, London. Date believed to have been written when Josephine was about to travel to Northumberland to see her son at Ewart Park.

'My soul has been troubled within me, not only on account of the news Mr Stuart brought me, but on account of the dark Eastern Cloud'

Depressed by what she thinks is the decay of moral faith among the people.

'Olive Schreiner's book ... and I thought how entirely it confirms my poor son's [Charles] experience'. This referred to the well-known book 'The story of an African Farm' published in 1883.

Her son, Charles, spent several years in South Africa and the lands dominated by Cecil Rhodes. (For this see letters dated 8 Aug and 22 Aug 1890; 3 Feb 1891; 2 Dec 1893, 20 Feb 1895).

The Abolitionists must not be discouraged if the enemy seems to be winning for at the last ditch they will 'see the Arm of the Lord revealed.' 'I hope that the Manifesto will not be substantially changed ... only instead of saying 'we take our stand on the Army Sanitary Commission we must reiterate that we take our stand on the eternal principles of justice and truth'. The Manifesto referred to here might be the 'Women's Protest' made in Mar 1897, and signed by Josephine Butler and the wives of 6 Bishops (York, London, Southwell, Rochester, Manchester and Chichester) and many other distinguished and well-known ladies' (see the 'Shield' May 1897 p 7).

The Army Sanitary Commission had been opposed to regulation for many years but now said: 'The increase of disease since their complete abolition compels us to admit that ... They ... exercised a very sensible influence in checking increase ...'

(See the 'Shield' May 1897 p 2)

She would like Mr Stuart to see this letter but she does not care for most people to know her thoughts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Date: This letter was written in the same month as JB's letter to Mr GW Johnson from Buckingham Place Road 'Friday night', and one to Stanley 8 Mar (a Monday) both from Buckingham Palace Road, where JB was staying after her return from the Continent. This would make date of this letter 13 Mar when she was about to travel north to Northumberland to see her son (at Ewart Park).

Within a year of the enforcement of the Abolition of the Contagious Diseases Acts in India in 1895, there was an immense increase in venereal disease in the Indian Army reported by the medical officers. The Regulationists returned to the attack. In the autumn of 1896 a Conference was called by the British Committee to oppose any revival of Regulation in India. They met in Birmingham on 13 Nov presided over by Sir James Stansfeld. (See 'Shield' May 1897 p 5). A 2nd Conference was held in London on 30 Mar 1897.