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"Sir W.S. Gilbert among Hooligans."  Daily Mail issue 3830,
Tuesday, July 21, 1908, p. 3.




Sir W.S. Gilbert, the famous librettist, has been the victim of an attack by a hooligan, but, despite his seventy years, Sir William successfully beat off his assailant without loss of personal property.  The incident occurred as he was leaving Covent Garden Theatre after the performance.

"I left the opera at about a quarter-past eleven in company with two ladies," said Sir William yesterday to a representative of this journal in describing the attack.  "I looked for a cab and found one at the corner of Wilson-street--the first turning on the right down Endell-street.  As I was about to enter the cab I received a blow in the mouth from a young man apparently about twenty years of age, who made a grab at my watch-chain at the same time.

"The bow of the watch broke, so that the hooligan fortunately got nothing, except a blow which i succeeded in delivering at his head while I had hold of his coat.

"I would have given him more, but the two ladies I had with me had valuable jewellery upon them, so I let the ruffian go.  He bolted down Wilson-street, and I was prevented from following him by four or five men — evidently confederates — getting in my way.


"I contend that this class of outrage should not be possible within a stone's throw of the chief metropolitan police station (Bow-street), and at a time when the police must know that hundreds of people with valuables upon them are about.

"The police are too intent upon regulating the vehicular traffic.  They do that admirably, but there is not sufficient protection for individuals.  I can make no suggestions as to any new regulations.  The police know their duties, and it is for them to carry them out."

Interviewed on the subject yesterday a London stipendiary magistrate said:

"While there is not a great increase of hooliganism, it is noticeable that cases of assault and robbery in the streets do not decrease.  Our difficulty is the youth whose age varies from sixteen to nineteen — too old to be sent to a reformatory and too young to be ruined by being sent to gaol.

"Stipendiaries are happily independent, but so-called humanitarianism is really one of the difficulties with which they have to contend.  Humanitarians and faddists unwittingly do great harm.  If it were not for the firm hand magistrates show with hooligans in London I venture to say the metropolis would soon become uninhabitable."  

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