General Garibaldi in London – archive, 16 April 1864



From The Guardian World:

 

16 April 1864 A large number of policemen drove back the crowd as best they could; but again the cry arose, “Garibaldi for ever!”

Giuseppe Garibaldi (undated).




Giuseppe Garibaldi (undated).
Photograph: Alinari/Rex

On Thursday evening, the General dined with the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, and a select family party, including the Earl of Carlisle (who had just come over from Dublin), and at eight o’clock, accompanied by the Duke of Sutherland, proceeded to the Royal Italian Opera House, to witness the performance of the operas of Norma and Massaniello.

Garibaldi’s intention to visit Covent Garden had become pretty well known, and a large number of persons assembled to witness his departure. The large space in front of Stafford House was inconveniently crowded long before eight o’clock; in fact, many persons had taken up their positions as early as six o’clock. At five minutes past eight o’clock a closed carriage belonging to the Duke of Sutherland drove up to the mansion, and almost immediately afterward, Garibaldi came out and took his seat. His appearance was the signal for loud and continuous cheering.

As the carriage drove away crowds gathered round it, and, in spite of the pace at which it rolled along Pall Mall, a couple of dozen or more managed to hang on, in spite of the danger which they ran of being knocked down and run over by some rapidly-passing vehicle. The crowd along the streets took up the cry of “Garibaldi!” and followed with the others about the carriage, and soon there was quite an army following the General through the crowded thoroughfares of the West-end.

In the neighbourhood of Covent Garden thousands of persons had assembled, and from soon after seven o’clock carriages had been setting down at the entrance to the Floral Hall, which was thrown open, and brilliantly lighted up on this occasion. Down each side of the street a closely-packed crowd had assembled, believing that the General’s carriage would take up its turn at the end, and come quietly down to the entrance hall. In this, however, they were disappointed, and a scene of some confusion ensued in consequence of the arrangements being broken.

When the General’s carriage arrived the driver broke through the line, and at once proceeded to the Floral Hall entrance. This example was speedily followed by the crowd, who, in an instant, broke their ranks and surrounded the carriage. The shouts which were raised were perfectly deafening. The carriage was completely hemmed in – jammed as if in a vice. The Duke of Sutherland, apparently with a view to appease the crowd, let down the windows, when immediately hundreds of hands were held up in the air, and vain attempts were made by many to get near enough to get a shake from the General’s hand. Not a few succeeded in getting both their arms into the carriage.

Portrait of Italian soldier and political strategist Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 - 1882)


Portrait of Italian soldier and political strategist Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882) Photograph: Museum of the City of New York/Getty Images

A large number of policemen drove back the crowd as best they could; but again the cry arose, “Garibaldi for ever!” and thus incited the ranks were again broken, the carriage again surrounded, the hands again pushed through the window – and in every respect there was a repetition of the scene which was anywhere to be seen between Westminster Bridge and Charing Cross on Monday last.

At length the carriage got near the pavement; and, amidst the loud huzzas of the people, Garibaldi stepped into the grand entrance of the Floral Hall. He was received by Mr Gye, and conducted by him towards the centre of the hall; but the visitors immediately closed round him, and sought to shake hands, in accordance with the custom now apparently established wherever the General appears. For a few minutes this was submitted to, but it was soon found that if the distinguished visitor were to be permitted to gain his seat within a reasonable time, some method must be adopted to clear a passage for him. One or two inspectors of police and Superintendent Walker then interposed, and endeavoured to motion the crowd on one side; but their signs and entreaties were unheeded; and, as the space to be traversed became less and less, the crowd around the General became more and more dense, and it was necessary at last to use no inconsiderable degree of violence to force a passage for him.

Respect for truth renders it necessary to say that the female portion of those present were even more eager than their male companions to reach Garibaldi, and, if they could not shake hands with him, at least to touch the grey cloak he wore. With his customary good nature, he submitted most quietly to the persecution, and at last when by the aid of his friends he gained the top of the staircase leading to the boxes, he raised his cap several times and saluted the people below before disappearing from their sight.

During all the commotion which prevailed several persons audibly expressed the indignation they felt, and endeavoured to form a line, but without avail. The Duke of Sutherland and Mr Negretti, who were evidently much excited, remained on the staircase for some time with Garibaldi’s sons, and plainly expressed their annoyance. “It was clear,” says the Morning Post, “that the persons who had conducted themselves so indecorously were not the visitors to the house, as they remained in the hall for some time longer, but finally left when the act of turning off the gas admonished them that their presence was no longer desired.”

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The original content can be found here: General Garibaldi in London – archive, 16 April 1864

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