Gough's Story in the National Police Gazette

As "Exposed" by the Police Gazette
By: Edward Van Emery
Chapter 4
Gough and the Gazette (The Trials of the Tippling Temperance Talker)

When the Gazette removed John B. Gough, one of the foremost of the
temperance lecturers of the Forties, from a bawdy house on Walker Street,
and in a very intoxicated condition, New York's crusading weekly started
something that not a few out-of-town papers were not pleased to copy.
Notwithstanding, the business got plenty of play in print all over the
nation. In fact it got the press quite roused, for some of the newspapers
were strong temperance organs, and certain dailies, particularly of Boston,
tried to undermine the Gazette articles and came back with all manner of
charges, and the Tribune and the Journal of Commerce, both of New York,
became very much embroiled. Really, it was a sad business.

On the other hand, as we have said, the Gazette claimed to have found
Mr. Gough right where they said and under conditions as stated. And,
unfortunately, as the paper proceeded to bring strong proof of its charges
the temperance disciple was forced more or less to admit as much,
but there was the Gough side of the affair to be taken into consideration.
It would appear from Gough's own lips in explanation, that he was the
victim, nothing more or less, of very dirty work on the part of dastardly
enemies to the cause of temperance.

His story, which he stuck to, explained how a most mysterious Jonathan
Williams, or it might have been Williamson, invited the temperance talker to
partake of a drink of raspberry soda, the Williams, or Williamson, person
"looked into my face with a devilish expression of exultation which I never
shall forget."

John B. Gough, it would appear, arrived in this city on his way to
Albany and put up at the Croton Hotel. After tea he went out and for an
entire week was among the missing. Alarmed at his disappearance, his friends
issued conspicuous placards with a description of his person and attributing
his singular disappearance to accident or foul play at the hands of the
rum-dealers. "The entire city was in a fever," so we read, "and the press
and the public made up their minds at once for an interesting horror."

Alas, acting on information which was brought to the Gazette in a
mysterious way, instead of directly to the police, George Wilkes, one of the
owners of the paper, made an investigation of the Walker Street address
given, which was located in a labyrinth of rookeries. After mounting two
flights of stairs in a rickety rear-building, directions were followed
through a passage that led to a bedroom and
"There we found him, John B. Gough, the mere shadow of a man,
pacing the floor with tottering and uncertain steps. He was pale as ashes;
(his eyes glared with a preternatural luster), his limbs trembled, and his
fitful and wandering stare evinced his mind was as much shattered as his
body. The pompous horror had dissolved from its huge proportions, and shrunk
into a very vulgar and revolting commonplace. The man was drunk.
That was all that was the matter with him — the man was drunk (and
apparently did not carry his liquor well).

After calling in an officer from the police station this
representative of law and order was sent to accompany Gough back to his
distressed friends, who were probably more distressed when they saw what had
been brought back to them. No immediate reference was made to the business
by the Gazette "out of respect to a worthy cause," so it was said, though
neither Wilkes nor Fox [Gazette publishers], judging by the examples of their artists, had much
respect for the temperance advocates. One cannot help having suspicions
that the spot was awaited until the desirable moment had come for its
"revolting revelations." Silence was maintained until Gough issued his
"confession" from Boston in explanation of his disappearance. Then the
Gazette was indeed heard from and from then on things got rapidly no better.

It was rather unfortunate that Gough had to be so vague in his facts
concerning the identity of Williams or Williamson; the exact location of the
place where he had imbibed the efficacious draught of raspberry soda; even
the name of the shop where he had been betrayed, to say nothing of other
essential details. And he questioned that the building in which he had been
found was a house of ill-fame and had much else to say, all of which was
endorsed by the Mount Vernon Congregational Church and other religious
bodies, by various temperance societies, and by quite a few newspapers as "a
free and artless confession of the truth." Against this there was plenty of
public, press, and even pulpit derision of the confession, and the
temperance advocates, themselves, came to odds over the business.
An article that got the Gazette going well was published in the Boston
under the signature of "Corporal"___to distinguish his rank among the
literary understrappers of his city," opines the Gazette. "Corporal" even
went so far as to insinuate that blackmail was back of the exposure of
Gough, and that the Gazette was an inveterate enemy of not only temperance,
but all religion as well.

To which the Gazette came back with the news that it was quite true
there had been some money handled. That friends of Gough, when the latter
had been delivered in their hands gave up one hundred dollars to the officer
under the impression that he had been the main agent in the backslider's
restoration. Evidently, the policeman did not feel that Gough's return was
worth all that money; though that may not have been the reason he brought
the amount back to the office of the Gazette. "And," reports the said
Gazette, "we refused the money, but divided it in two parts, giving half to
the officer and a like amount to the person who had furnished us with the
information that led to the discovery of Gough in the Walker Street
brothel — we kept the balance."

And then the Gazette started to fire its hottest shrapnel in the way
of printer's ink and proceeded to impart the news that the Walker Street
visit which had been exposed was not Mr. Gough's first escapade; that he was
neither a stranger to the use of liquor, nor to the slums of the
thoroughfare in question, and that he picked up a female on the Broadway
stage-coach. Which brought into the case "the woman in black" (who was
apparently the one who had supplied the Gazette with the information as to
Gough's whereabouts when he was where he most certainly should not have
been). Let us lift from the pages of the righteous Gazette:

We will now claim the privilege which the unjust imputations of the
"Corporal's" article confers upon us, of stepping beyond the immediate
transaction of the memorable week referred to, and examine some other
features that pertain to the same story. In these we will preserve the same
candor which has distinguished every portion of our statement.

One day, about six or seven weeks previous to the 6th of September, the
period of Gough's last arrival in New York, he accosted a certain tall,
good-looking woman dressed in black and with dark hair and eyes while in the
Broadway stage. This was between the hours of nine and ten o'clock in the
evening. In the conversation which ensued, he said he had been out riding on
horseback, that he was very much fatigued, and that he wanted to accompany
her home.

To this she replied that she could not take him to her home, but would
take him somewhere else. The arrangements being thus concluded, she conveyed
him to the same house in Walker street which he afterward rendered so
memorable. We are further informed, that for certain reasons nothing further
of a criminal nature took place, and that the parties after an interview of
considerable length, withdrew to different rooms, Gough giving his
interesting new acquaintance a five-dollar gold-piece before retiring, and
leaving the house at an early hour in the morning. Nothing more is heard of
him in this quarter until the afternoon of Friday, September 6, when he
arrived in the New Haven steamboat at Peck Slip, with the intention of
proceeding to Albany. Immediately, on landing from the boat, he was seen by
a gentleman of high standing and unimpeachable character, walking up the
pier in company with a woman who must have met him by agreement. That we may
no longer grope in mystery, we will mention the name of the gentleman, Dr.
Joel G. Candee, Dentist, No. 20 Park Place, of this city, and our informants
on this point are Mr. Flanagan, a Deputy United States Marshall, and Mr.
Stockwell, keeper of the Temperance Croton Lunch, on the corner of the
Bowery and Division Street.

That this circumstance is positively true we therefore cannot doubt.
It is certain that the lady was not Mr. Gough's wife, for that lady was in
Albany. It is certain that Mr. Gough's friends, upon his recovery, made him
acquainted with the charge. Well, Mr. Gough gets to the Croton Hotel that
evening, goes out after tea and with the "woman in black" goes to the Walker
Street house, and by which time he is already intoxicated. He remained there
until the following evening, when he slipped out, went privately to his
hotel and returned again immediately to his cyprian retreat. On the
following Monday the "woman in black" came back to the house to pay a visit
to a friend there. Her female acuteness at once detected that there was more
than ordinary mystery in relation to an inmate of an upper room, and setting
in operation that ingenuity with which woman is so ready, she induced the
girl in charge to go to the corner for a pint of cherry brandy. During which
absence she slipped into the mysterious closet, and at once recognized the
occupant of the room, and he immediately recognized her. It was Gough, and
with the exlamation that she was the person he wanted to see, besought her
to remain.

But the owner of the apartment coming, the conversation was broken
off, and poor Gough lost his inamorata altogether. His subsequent delivery
from the house is already known.

Then the Gazette proceeded to show Gough up even further. For
attention was called to "two other drunken sprees of the drunken apostle,"
and evidence was then produced of his fall from grace some months later,
"both these cases of fatigue taking place in Massachusetts." Before closing
with the regret that they should be accused "of writing in a bitter and
unfeeling spirit" the Gough career was reviewed in this wise:

Take one look back through his whole history, and the mind reels
back sickened and disgusted with the spectacle. We first find him a mere
brute wallowing in the mire and degradation of continual drunkenness; next a
temperance apostle and member of a church, who, notwithstanding his solemn
vows and pledges before the altar of his God, and his sacred pledges before
man, returns back to his vomit, and seeks solace for his forced
abstemiousness in the secret orgies and caresses of drunken prostitutes. A
beast in the commencement, next a mountebank and a hypocrite; and a wretch
and villain in the last. And he must remain so branded until he can
translate a brothel to an honest dwelling and make a holy sanctuary of a
harlot's bosom....We do not consider the letter of Mr. Bates as any
testimony at all, for though it represents the writer as traveling with his
wife (whom he had married the day before) and in company with Gough from the
4th to the 7th of August, inclusive (dates when the Gazette accused Gough of
being elsewhere) it says he was not out of the company of Bates for a single
hour in the whole four days. This was a very extraordinary way of passing
the honeymoon, to say the least.

Mr. Candee was prevailed upon to come to the defense of Gough, but
did so rather weakly by saying that he had no knowledge that the lady seen
walking the Peck Slip pier with Gough was no lady, but might have been the
latter's wife. This refutation did not help the Gough cause to any extent,
as it was known that Mrs. Gough was elsewhere at the time. Other papers than
the Gazette asked pointedly why Gough did not act on the request of the
Mayor of New York, to furnish such information as was needed to further an
investigation that would permit of getting to the bottom of his alleged

Gough advocates rallied vigorously to his support and tried their
utmost to pull down the Gazette charges, only to be confounded completely
when such a high personage in temperance work as B.F. Goodhue came through
with the report of his personal investigation of the sad business. "I love
the temperance cause — but will not lie to bolster up hypocrisy," he said
in a letter that teemed with the straight-forwardness of a sincere man.
Goodhue had been instrumental in bringing about Gough's entry into the field
of temperance. His letter was about 3,500 words in length and took up more
than three columns of the Gazette. It is sufficient to reproduce the
headlines and it can be judged quite well, whether or no, this was another
Gazette victory.

Statement of
Mr. B. F. Goodhue,
The celebrated Temperance Missionary,
Of the Drunkenness, Debaucheries, and Blasphemies of
With an exposure of the Forgeries and
other vile and villanous practises which
have been resorted to by his unprincipled
associates, to sustain him in his Infamy.

And in the end, when Gough failed to make good a threat to sue the
Gazette, then the Gazette started suit against Gough. This led to a backdown
on the part of the tippling temperance talker and the suit was not pressed.
The Gazette being satisfied to make Gough take water, especially as Gough
would not seem to have liked so doing, having a preference for raspberry