Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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274                Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. XX.
save our Army from starvation and annihilation. After all said and done, the idea was generally believed that the first of the Parnell letters (fac similes of all of which are before me as I write) was genuine, and that the work of Piggott was to forge the subsequent letters when he found what a good thing he had made out of the first. The mistakes made by John Walter over this business were 2 in number. Before embarking on litigation which cost 180,000, of which quite a small proportion fell on himself personally, he was under a moral obligation to have consulted his co-proprietors. His second mistake was that he ought not to have refused the offer of the Government of the day to provide out of the public funds the official expenses of the Parnell Commission, as distinguished from the personal expenses of The Times. This would have eased the main burden on the Proprietors very materially. The non-acceptance of the offer was the more blame-worthy because others and not himself were to be the chief sufferers. Lady St. Helier's account of John Walter as she knew him is life-like. It will be found in her Memories of Fifty Years, p. 213. There is no doubt that the partial failure of The Times to make out its case against Parnell, shook the credit of the paper and precipitated the gradual decay of its influence and circulation for a time, which culminated (in 1908) imder the incompetent management of his son, in the necessity of reconstructing the whole concern, and of turning it into a limited company with the Walter control reduced almost to zero. In the hands of the new Management under a Board of Directors of up-to-date journalistic experience, with Mr. Moberley Bell as the dominant influence, I still think the paper has a great future before it, and I have shown my confidence by retaining a considerable share in it, though my income from it will never be even one-tenth of what it once was. Whether it will ever regain its old financial position is another matter. For many years between 1868 and 1885, the annual dividends paid to the proprietors exceeded 80,000, and in 1876 amounted to 93,000. Great wars always had the effect of lowering
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