A public meeting was held in the Town Hall on Tuesday, the 18th inst., under the auspices of the above order, for the purpose of hearing and the address, as previously announced, from Mrs Jennie Walker, the ‘Yorkshire Nightingale’. The Town Hall was again crowded to its utmost capacity, many failing to obtain even standing room, but the good order that prevailed was particularly noticeable. The meeting was presided over by the Rev W Fisk, and the platform was packed by members of the Sons and Cadets of Temperance in their regalia, among whom, were Brothers W Garton, L Pewsey, F Ward, J Bryant, H Beddow, A Smith, G Ward (secretary); Sisters K Masters, K Line etc. Sister L Keen presided at the pianoforte. The Chairman in opening, appealed for perfect order, which was thoroughly sustained, and the proceedings commenced by a solo from Mrs Walker, ‘O, say you will sign to-night’ the chorus being heartily taken up. Prayer was then offered by the chairman, who afterwards complimented the Sons of Temperance upon their progress, and stated the cause of his transfer from being a temperate man to an abstainer, and also dwelt very strongly upon the effects of the drink traffic and the stupendous evils arising therefrom, likewise stating that our drink bill was no less than £136,000,000 carried out by 12,000 licence-holders, and that there were annually in the United Kingdom 60,000 convictions arising from the same, finally exhorting those present to join the temperance ranks.
The rev, chairman stated that he would not further occupy the time, as a lady was again present whom all were anxious to hear, and would therefore at once ask Mrs Walker to address the meeting, telling her that her allowance of time was unlimited, and that she could talk as long as she chose. Mrs Walker, who was received with a loud and continuous applause, commence her address by stating that with such an earnest body of temperance workers as were gathered together, it was a great pity that they were not in possession of a temperance hall, and she trusted that when she paid another visit to Amersham one would be obtained, so that all persons coming to a public meeting might be comfortably provided with a seat doe she liked to see everyone comfortable. A very thrilling and telling address was then delivered in Mrs Walker’s usual powerful style. In the course of her remarks she stated that no doubt Mr Galdstone- (cheers) – was an excellent man, but she feared he had made an error in establishing off licenses which were the cause of a great deal of secret drinking and had led to deception, illustrating her remarks by what she said she knew to be a fact, the largely increased sale of peppermint lozenges for the purpose of disguise and escaping detection. Mr Walker, referring to the hymn which had previously been sung, asked how many would dare even to lift a finger up in order to rescue the perishing and to care for the dying, and strongly dwelt upon the fact that all who professed to be Christians should be abstainers, for how could they admonish anyone (that might be called upon to visit), who might be suffering from the effects of drinking while they were in the habit of doing the same thing. She also strongly touched upon the fact that many were not abstainers from fear of offending customer, or losing trade, emphasising the fact that they were under a delusion. Her experience showed that abstainers were far more to be depended upon than others for purposes of trade and labour. Some very amusing and telling illustrations and anecdotes were received with enthusiasm, and after speaking for one hour and ten minutes Mrs Walker resumed her seat, and after an exhortation from the chairman to take the pledge. Mrs Walker sang a solo ‘Sign the pledge for mother sake’ which was heartily applauded and encore. The meeting was then brought to a close and upwards of forty signed the pledge and donned the blue. The Sons of temperance, Amersham branch now number 80 members, after being established 16 months, and it understood that a brass band is in the course of formation, and will shortly be in working order.
Interesting information: Sister L Keen mentioned in this article is probably Miss Lizzie Keen, teacher of music, and the aunt of Leslie Keen, future member of the band.