W.T. Stead Journal Entry (c. July, 1886)
Quoted in J. W. Robertson Scott, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (1952) pp. 146-147
I am now about seven months out of gaol. The curious effect it has had on me has been that I have lost to some slight extent the nerve and dash which used to belong to me. This showed itself oddly enough in a certain timidity in getting into a train in motion in the crowd that rushes for the first carriage of the morning train. Before gaol I never cared. More important than this is the slight loss of nerve that makes me less unhesitatingly impudent, if I may borrow my enemies’ phrase, in tackling notabilities, etc. It supplies a palpable excuse for those who wish to evade me. Why should they see me or do what I ask them to do when, to a certain extent, I and my paper are under the cloud of imprisonment and social odium? I feel this the more because I see Mr. Thompson suffers from it. The devotion of personal adherents ill counterbalances the general unthinking shadow of the world’s displeasure, unless you can live solely among your devotees and avoid the constant struggle to be foremost in doing the worlds work, not for the sake of being foremost, but because if you let others take your place they will use it for war not for peace, for tyranny not for freedom, for man not for woman. I shrink from demanding, as an obvious right, interviews etc., from persons whom I know will have heard the censure and may not know the praise. Of course they do not know me, those persons. With those who know me I stand in a different category. They see me as I am. Those who only know of me through common report are in a society that is preponderatingly hostile to those who meddle with its vices, and they are naturally disposed to believe that I am a somewhat bad fellow, whom they will do well to avoid. To live this down I must do something splendaciously, something that will give the silly world some other label to paste against my name than that of criminal convict.
I am sorry for Thompson. I have injured his property and caused him untold pain. If God would only enable me to make him an immense return! But that must be as God wills. I will do all that mortal can. Before the end of this year I ought to see my way to placing the P.M.G. in a sound financial position. I wonder. I also wish, if God wills, that I may be able to do something to make my wife and family safe from monetary difficulties when I am called hence. If I could found them a little property? Nothing I have ever done for money has prospered. About public speaking, I feel as if I had said my say and had not to speak any more just now. I ought to write more religiously in the paper. Tolstoy attracts me enormously.