SINS AND FOLLIES
“Melbourne’s Sins and Follies” was the title of an address
delivered by Mr W.H. Judkins, under great difficulties, in the Gaiety
afternoon. The meeting was for men only. Mr Judkins was subjected to
much interruption of
a personal character, and the disorder was almost continuous. At times
it was serious, and
eggs were showered upon the platform. Admission to the building was
obtained by ticket;
but many of these had got into the hands of the enemy, and half an hour
advertised time for starting the proceedings the theatre was densely
crowded, a large
proportion of the audience consisting of a rowdy element.
Mr Lyman Pearce, general secretary of the Y.M.C.A., under whose auspices the meeting was held, presided. Anticipating disturbance, he asked police to remove those guilty of disorder. He added.- “I shall be willing to stand against any man who disturbs this meeting this afternoon; and there are hundreds of others who would be willing to do the same thing.” (Cheers and laughter)
Mr. Judkins on rising to speak was received with mingled cheers and cat-calls.
He said.- “We are passing through a great crisis.”
A Voice.- You’ll pass through a crisis soon.
Mr. Judkins.- It’s time for men to make a choice. (Disorder)
A Voice.- I’ll give you ten to one. (Laughter)
Mr. Judkins.- For years the life of Victoria, politically, socially, and individually - (Uproar)
A Voice.- You’re a loafer, Judkins.
Mr. Judkins.- God has come down into the midst of the people.
Another Voice.- Praise the Lord!
Mr. Judkins.- And to the hearts of men. (Disorder) The door of opportunity is opened, but the pity of it is that men will not pass through the door. (Hooting) Doors of opportunity have the habit -------
A Voice.- Haven’t you had one?
Mr. Judkins.- of closing. I wish all men would embrace the opportunity.
A Voice from the corner of the gallery.- Why didn’t you marry that girl? (Great disorder)
Mr Judkins.- God has been flashing his ideals.
The Corner Man.- How do you know?
Mr. Judkins (impatiently).- What’s the use of speaking to me like that? Men have been staggered and confused ---------
The Corner Man.- Stuffed (Great laughter and prolonged interruption)
A Voice.- What does Miss --------- say?
Mr. Judkins.- People are beginning to understand that in the midst of Victoria there are evils ------
A Voice.- Yes- Judkins (laughter, cheers and disorder)
Mr. Judkins.- Against these sins and follies God and the children of God must fight.
A Voice.- Judkins is one of them
Another Voice.- He’s a blowfly.
A Third Voice.- What about Miss ---------?
Mr Judkins.- Look at Melbourne at night.
A Voice.- Be careful. This is for men only.
Mr. Judkins.- Then it is that evil reigns. You will have no doubt as to the extent of wrong in this city. It is not true that ----------
Voices.- No, no
Several minutes of disorder ensued, quite drowning the sound of Mr. Judkins voice.
Is it not time? he managed to ask again, when a hundred hoarse voices roared in a deafening chorus, “No, no, no!”
Other voices shouted, “Ask Miss -------”, and “Loafer.”
Then someone started a counter demonstration of applause, and at its conclusion Mr. Judkins resumed:- “It is not true that it sometimes seems as if God were cut out? Look at the haunts of Melbourne which some of you fellows frequent.”
The disturbers resented this rebuke and there was another outburst of disorder, cat calls, the stamping of many feet, and the cries of “Loafer” rising above the applause which was started in opposition to the disturbance. “Rub it in!” shouted a sympathiser with Mr. Judkins.
“We’ll rub him out” was the reply of a disturber.
Mr. Judkins waited till the interjectors were tired, and then continued.- “As soon as the days work is over there is a proportion of the population that plunge headlong into vice. You do not need to go to another city to see an inferno; it is here in Melbourne.”
A Voice.- Yes; Judkins is here.
This interruption was the signal for another outburst of hostility from a large portion of the audience.
“Rot!” shouted one.
“Loafer!” cried another.
“What about Miss ------? asked a third.
“You have the drunkard and the gambler!” shouted Mr. Judkins above the din. “And the swaggerer!” added an interjector.
Mr. Judkins (misunderstanding the interjection) said, “I am as much opposed to the sweater as you are.” (Laughter) He was allowed to proceed in comparative quietness for a time. Then he put a few questions to the audience essayed to answer. “ Are you going to help to purify Victoria?” he asked. “Yes” answered a youth with a squeaky voice. “What kind of record are you going to leave? pursued Mr. Judkins.
A Voice.- Not the same as you left at Creswick.
Mr. Judkins.- I am not ashamed of any record I have left anywhere. The gamblers ought to know that because they had detectives looking into every year of my life. (Cheers, groans and hoots) Do you stand for righteousness?
A Voice.- Yes, and good wages, which you do not.
Mr. Judkins.- Has the vote God gave you been cast for him every time?
A Voice.- Yes, I vote for the Labour Party. (Cheers, laughter and hooting)
Mr. Judkins proceeded to speak of the duty of men to try and make the world better than they had found it. There was a lull in the storm of interruption, particularly in the corner of the gallery to the left of the stage, whence most of the disturbance had come. Evidently something was being arranged. Then, without warning, a shower of eggs was thrown onto the stage from that quarter.
In a moment the house was in uproar. One of the eggs struck Mr. Judkins on the forehead, and with the contents streaming onto his face he hastily retired for a “clean up”. Several of the reporters were struck, one egg falling on the wrist of one and then upon a lady vocalist, who was sitting upon the platform. About a dozen persons were hit directly, or else splashed, as the eggs struck the curtain near them. There was a temporary scatter on the stage. One ready witted gentleman, with the yolks of several eggs running down his clothing, seized a chair, and, holding it aloft to protect the lady, hastened her off the platform..
Tumultuous scenes followed the throwing of the eggs. Excited men jumped to their feet, and, pointing in a hundred different directions, shouted to the police. “There he is!” The bewildered constables darted about from place to place, but some of them had apparently witnessed the throwing. They hastened to the corner of the gallery, and, amidst tremendous excitement, seized their man. They were loudly hooted by a section of the audience as they left the building with him, while another section cheered. Then a group in the centre of the building started hooting in chorus. This was followed by singing of
“We’ll hang old Judkins on a sour apple tree,
but we’ll go marching on”
Someone called “Cheers for Judkins” which were given with an accompaniment of hooting. An altercation in a group among the audience concentrated attention for a time, and lessened the general uproar.
A gentlemen on the platform collected the scattered forces, and formed them on the front of the stage in a straight line, the object being, as he put it, to “take the fire.” But no more eggs came.
Mr. Judkins having mopped his brow, again essayed to speak, but a young man in the gallery shouted savagely at him, where upon he cried in a loud voice “ This is the man who is trying to swear a man’s life away”. The interjector was bundled out by police. There was another scene of disorder, scattered groups of men in various parts finding something exciting to occupy their attention.
After a while Mr. Judkins was able to make his voice heard. He said referring to the shower of eggs.- It is a very small thing to suffer in the cause of righteousness. Ten thousand blows like that will not stop me (Interruption). Every man here this afternoon will have to take his stand before the bar of God, and be judged.”
A Voice.- So will you!
Another Voice.- What about Judge Neighbour?
At this point another was ejected expostulating volubly as he was pushed through the crowd.
A voice.- Tell us about the challenge. (Great uproar)
Sounds of disturbance came from the back of the gallery. Two stalwart policeman were struggling with a man near the ceiling. He was dragged down the steps amidst yells of execration from a number of the audience and cheers from others.
Mr. Judkins.- God wants to stretch out loving arms to you. We are not out as individuals in this great fight. We are out after evil.
A Loud Voice.- Liar! (Uproar)
Another interjector was ejected, the crowd surging round and hustling the constable as he removed the man.
Mr. Judkins.- If a man desires forgiveness, God will forgive. (Disorder) Will you turn your thoughts towards God?
Many Voices.- No, no.
Other Voices.- What about Miss -------- ?
Mr. Judkins.- You must get down upon your knees and ask for it.
A Voice.- You ask Miss --------.
Again a period of disorder ensued. By this time the air in the building was thick with dust caused by the removal of interrupters and the stamping of feet. From the platform it was impossible to see the edge of the great crowd, but hoarse, dust choked voices were shouting, and cries of “Out with him!” and “Leave him alone” proclaimed that the police were putting someone out. This disturbance over Mr. Judkins related an anecdote, amongst much interruption, and then concluded.- “there is a pardon waiting at the foot of the cross. Thousands of men have died without seeking it. Seek the face of the lord for His name’s sake.” (Cheers and hooting)
Nearly all the audience then left the building. Outside in Bourke-Street, a large crowd waited, occasionally giving vent to angry and excited cries. Within, a short service of prayer was held; and then Mr. Judkins, escorted by sub-inspector Biggs, several constables, and a handful of friends, made a quiet exit from the back of the theatre into Little Collins-Street. The crowd in Bourke-Street, after waiting a little while longer, dispersed.
From: THE ARGUS October 1st 1906