Pioneers of Esperanto in Dover
Esperanto is a planned international language first published in 1887. Its first adepts lived in the then Russian Empire, but it began to gain adherents in Great Britain from about 1900 onwards.
The names (not always complete) and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in Dover, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists) of January 1904 to January 1905 (Series XXV, and subsequent series). All of the following are listed in Dover, Anglujo, i.e. England. The number given is a unique one for each individual. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could find their address in the Adresaro.
10709 A.F. Wealmisley (sic), “Atherstone, Castle Avenue
10710 H.R. Geddes, Northumberland House
10711 Fino (=Miss) Ewell,
10712 Fino (=Miss) Gibbs, 9 De Vere Gardens
10713 Fino (=Miss) Mc Neille, 1 Norman Terrace
10714 C. E. Beaufoy, High Street
10715 S.I. Hornby, H.M. Customs, 7 Esplanada (sic)
10716 E.E. Chitty, Castle Street
10717 Fino (=Miss) Geddes, Northumberland House
10718 Sino (=Mrs) Green, 1 Grabble Villas
10719 Sino (=Mrs) Hall, 8 De Vere Gardens
10720 Sino (=Mrs) L.V. Young, 188 Swargate Street
10721 Sino (=Mrs) Lawrence, International Dining Rooms, Swargate Street
10722 Sino (=Mrs) Reichman, 30 Biggin Street
10723 Sir William H. Crundall, “Woddside” (sic), Kearnsey
10724 W.H. East, “East Lea” Maison Dieu Road
10725 W.E. Wolsey, H.M. Customs
10726 Captain Dixon, 4 Waterloo Crescent
10728 Captain Iron, 3 Maison Dieu Road
10729 B. Foster, Casa Roumania, Kearnsey
10730 A. Van Hercke, 145 Buckland Avenue
10731 G.W.L. Ostermoor, Littlecott Peachery
10732 Fino (=Miss) Roberts, 2 Park Street
10733 Fino (=Miss) Marsh, 23 Cherry Tree Avenue
10734 Fino (=Miss) Chidwick, 96 Maison Dieu Road
10735 Fino (=Miss) Fry, 6 Burlington Villas, Townwall
10736 Fino (=Miss) Smith, 46 London Road
10737 Fino (=Miss) Welch, “Sonnenberg”, Castle Avenue
10738 Fino (=Miss) Thompson, 230 London Road
10739 Fino (=Miss) K. McNeille, 1 Norman Terrace
10740 Fino (=Miss) Underdown, 12 King Street
10741 P.W. Mackenzie, 25 Marine Parade
10742 F.H. Driscoll, 3 Esplanade
10743 Miller Junr, Esplanade Hotel
10744 A. Schulthers, 12 Millais Road
10745 R.G. Clifton, Custom House
10746 Woodhams, C/o stations sup.: Harbour Station
10747 W.E. Osborn, 4 Longfield Terrace
10748 Gardner, Swan Hotel, Stroud Street
10749 Musson, 23 East Cliff
10750 O’Connor, 2 Avenue Road, Frith Road
10751 H. Masters, Biggin Street
10752 Mangilli, café-restaurant, Bench Street
10753 Hawkins, 27 Pencester Road
10755 Law, 30 Biggin Street
12539 Noel Vaslet, c/o Mdlle A.J. Vaslet
Some of these individuals can be tracked through census records. Edward A. Walmisley (born in 1878) was a solicitor. Herbert Richard Geddes (1874-1952) was a Custom House Agent in 1901. Ten years later he was a manager at Friend & Co., Continental Carriers. Charles Edwin Beaufoy (1869-1955) worked all his life as a builder and undertaker. Ernest Edward Chitty (1882-1965) was a solicitor. William Henry Crundall (1847-1934) was a timber merchant and employer. He served as Mayor of Dover on many occasions between 1886 and 1910. Gerard William Ostermoor (1857-1911) was the son of a man born in Germany. Sadly, young Ostermoor ended his days in Chatham Lunatic Asylum. Noel Vaslet was the son of a Belgian-born professor of languages. In 1901 he was working as an engraver. Later in life he worked as a scientific researcher, and he also served as a Special Constable.
According to the inside cover (p.ii) of The British Esperantist magazine for January 1905, an Esperanto Society in Dover had been founded in June 1904. Its Secretary is given as Mr Geddes, Northumberland House, and the President is listed as T. Walmisley, Esq.
The British Esperantist for February 1905 reported bilingually that “The devoted secretary of the Dover Club (Mr H.R. Gesddes) gave an address on Esperanto at the monthly meeting of the Folkestone Chamber of Commerce on the 29th of November last (1904). The speech was a complete success, and in all probability the scheme will receive the official sanction and support of the Folkestone Chamber of Commerce”.
The British Esperantist reported in January 1906 that “During December (1905) the number of active members has shown satisfactory increase, forty of these being now entered on the books. Specially noteworthy has been the progress of the new ladies’ group from which several were able to assist at a meeting held in Deal.”
In the list of affiliated groups in 1907 (see The British Esperantist, vol. III, title page) the secretary was Mr W. Chitty, Mildura, Park Avenue, and the President is listed as Sir Wm. H. Crundall.
The number of Esperanto speakers registered in Dover is disproportionately large, compared with other British towns at this time. Can anyone account for this sudden outbreak of idealism and internationalism in the town in the years before the First World War?
Press reports and letters in the press give a flavour of Esperanto in Dover in 1904 and 1905.
ESPERANTISTS AT DOVER INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS.
On Monday Dover was the scene of a Congress of students of the new International language, Esperanto, which was attended by Esperantists from London, Calais, Boulogne, Nancy, Belgium, Valenciennes, Prague, and other parts of the Continent, from whence altogether there were nearly 120 present. The previous day nine delegates from the London and Dover Esperanto Clubs proceeded to Calais to take part in the Congress organsed by the Calais Groupe, They were received at the Gare Maritime a large number of Continental Esperantists and a most agreeable day was spent. The Dover delegates included Messrs. Wolsey, Hornby, Cowper, Finez, Geddes, etc., and from London, Messrs. H. Bolingbroke Mudie, Reeves, and Blot. The voyage to Dover on Monday was made in the Nord, and at Dover the foreign visitors were received by the Dover Esperanto Group, of which Mr. A. T. Walmisley, M.lnst.C.E., and Engineer to the Dover Harbour Board, is the President. The Hon. Secretary of the London Esperanto Group, Mr. H. Bolingbroke Mudie, was also present, together with members of the Dover Esperanto Group, including Mr. H. H. Geddes, Hon. Secretary, and M. Finez, vice- Consul for France at Dover, all of whom united in extending a cordial reception to the visiting Esperantists, who together sang " God save the King," " Dio Savu Regon," followed by the Marseillaise, both in Esperanto, whilst they formed up front of the Lord Warden Hotel. The towns represented by the visitors were: Boulogne (President, M. Michaŭ), Calais (Presi- dent, M. le Dr. Guyot; Secretary, M. Carpente), Lyons (M. Offret), CIermont-Ferrand (Commandant Matton), Valenciennes (M. Bastien), Iloubaix (M. Wicart), Paris (M. de Menil), Nancy (M. Pourcinnes), Algeria (Captain Cape), Courtrai (Dr. Seynaove, editor of the Belga Sonorilo), Prague (M. Kunhl), Lille, St. Omer, Bruges, and other French, German, and Belgian centres. English representatives came from London (Messrs H. Bolingbroke Mudie, Reeves, and Blott, Miss Lawrence, Miss Schafer, etc.), Wandsworth (Mr. Hayes), Deal (Mr. Cowper), Folkestone (Dr. Martyn Westcott), Hastings, Ashford, etc. The green star was much evidence. At the present time the Dover Esperanto Group is of only eight or nine weeks age, and though the progress of the members in the study of the language is great, it was too early to give evidence of it during the visit of the Esperantists on Monday. Mr. Mudie and M. Finez, whose acquaintance with the language is older, however proved themselves expert linguists in Esperanto. After the welcome on the Pier, it was arranged that the lady foreign members should be entertained by the Dover lady Esperantists during the afternoon, and they were taken charge of by Mrs. Geddes, the Misses McNeille, Ewell, Smith, Marsh, Chidwick, etc., whilst the gentlemen were shown over the Harbour Works. The Harbour tug was to have been requisitioned to carry the party to the Eastern Arm, but this proved to be impossible owing to the tug being required down Channel. Instead of this, Mr. Mudie gave the party a description of the Harbour in Esperanto from the promptings of his fellow local Esperantists, and then a move was made the Sea Front, and up to the Castle, where, however, an interfering soldier who lacked both authority and manners, rather upset the party by informing them that "No foreigners could enter Dover Castle." He probably intended this as a practical joke, for the sentry, on being appealed to by the English Esperantists, said he had no such orders, and the party promptly entered after giving up the cameras which many of the visitors were loaded with. The round of the Castle occupied some time, though most of the interesting parts, such as the top of the Keep and the Keep itself were closed. Afterwards the party went through Connaught Park, thence by the Town Hall and down Biggin Street to Mangilli's Restaurant, where dinner was served. A Re-Union of Esperantists subsequently took place in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall, the entrance of which was decorated with the emblem " Esperantistoj Bonvenon," the equivalent for "Welcome Esperantists." The Council Chamber was made gay with English and French flags, together with the green of Esperanto. There was a very crowded gathering of both ladies and gentlemen. The President (Mr. A. T. Walmisley) having expressed a welcome to the delegates in Esperanto, dropped into English, which was subsequently translated into Esperanto by Mr. Mudie. He said that he was very pleased to be able to welcome them to Dover. Their object, that of enabling people of different nationalities to express themselves in an intelligible way by one common language, was a very noble aim. Sir William Crundall, to whom as Mayor of Dover they were indebted for the use of that splendid Hall, was very sorry to be unable to present owing to another engagement, but he had asked him to wish them a pleasant and happy evening, and that success might attend their object. (Applause.) The Mayor had also provided refreshments, which would be served during the interval. (Applause.) In conclusion, the President expressed his own regret that he should be unable to be present during the whole of the proceedings, and that after the interval Mr. Mudie would occupy the chair. The speech was received with prolonged applause when translated into Esperanto by Mr. Mudie. For the rest of the evening Esperanto was the sole means of communication employed, and it speaks well for the practicability of the new aŭiliary language that English, French, and Belgians, and others, knowing only their own tongue, and Esperanto, were able to converse together with perfect ease. The next item of the programme consisted of a series of recitations by three young French girls, Mesdemoiselles Bergier of Boulogne, who gave recitations in Esperanto of fables de la Fontaine, whilst another young French girl, Mdlle. Michaŭ, of Boulogne, also gave a recitation. Next M. Derveaŭ sang a song Esperanto, Tagon Suza," after which a poem, "La Vojo," by Dr. Zamenhoff, the inventor of Esperanto, was recited by a M. Bastien, of Valenciennes. Refreshments were next served, and then the rest of the programme was gone through. An amusing item was a Coon song in Esperanto ''Lulu," after which M. A. Michaŭ, President of the Boulogne Group, gave what was understood to be a humorous recitation in Esperanto. After this the little Mesdemoiselles Bergier gave a united recitation about the ''Wolf and the Lamb," after which Madame Bergier sang, and then Mdlle Michaŭ gave a short recitation. M. Derveaŭ next sang a solo, and then the Congress was brought to a close with one or two speeches, which M. Finez, Mr. Geddes, Mr. Mudie, Dr. Guyot, of Calais, a Belgian gentleman, and a Czech from Prague expressed themselves in Esperanto. The last mentioned—a Mr. Kuhn—gave a very interesting account of his experiences in various parts of the world. For though speaking only Czech and Esperanto, he is a very great traveller in all Continental countries, well as in America. He finds travelling, when provided with Esperanto vocabulary, easy matter. He stated that the Dover meeting was the most enjoyable he had witnessed. The proceedings broke up with the singing once more of "God save the King,' in Esperanto, followed by the Marseillaise.' Afterwards special tramcars carried the members of the Congress to the Admiralty Pier, where the French visitors embarked once more for the Continent on Le Nord, leaving England amidst further cheering find singing of the National Airs. Just previous to the departure of the boat, the Dover Hon. Secretary (Mr. Geddes) received atelegram sending hearty salutations to the English and Foreign Esperantists from the Esperanists attending the Science Congress at Grenoble, France. (Dover Express - Friday 12 August 1904)
DOVER ESPERANTO CLUB (To the Editor of "The Dover Express.") Sir, May I venture to ask you to grant me a line in your paper to reply to the letter from Mr. Edwards and to explain the objects of Esperanto? Many people still seem rather uncertain as to whether Esperanto is a new breakfast food or a sort of hygienic craze. Needless to say, it neither, but merely an aŭiliary language for International use—comparatively new, it can yet claim a respectable age, and a large number of adherents, being extensively employed in Russia, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, etc.. as a means of inter communication. its aid a Russian, knowing no English, could correspond or converse with an Englishman, the latter being acquainted with Esperanto, but knowing no Russian. In my own case, I have had the pleasure of interchanging ideas with a Hungarian gentleman, who is not at all acquainted with the English language, while it is perhaps unnecessary for me to say that my knowledge of Czech or Magyar is practically nil. I can claim from my own experience of Esperanto that a few hours study is sufficient to be able read, with some degree of comprehension, letters written in that language. As matter of fact, I wrote my first letter in Esperanto after about two hours' perusal of the text book, and made about half a dozen minor errors, but my correspondent had no difficulty in understanding what I desired to tell him. Can the same be said with regard to English, French, German, Russian, or any other modern language? The objection has been put forward that Esperanto has to be learnt—necessarily. Before anything is known it must be studied. I believe itis a fact that all languages, even the mother tongue, must be learnt. English children are taught speak English in their homes, and to write and read it in the schools. My contention is that it is easier to learn Esperanto than any other language, ancient or modern, and that Esperanto is thus admirably fitted to be used as the language of commerce, science, medicine, and other professions of international and world-wide importance. There is no wish on the part of advocates of Esperanto to supplant the National languages. We desire to teach an aŭiliary language, to be learnt by all people having correspondence with foreigners, thus making international business matters less complicated and costly than they are now. As regards the suggestion put forward by your correspondent that every person should be taught to draw correctly, and carry on conversations with foreigners by means of drawings, supplemented by imitative or other sounds, I fear that is an ideal hardly capable of realisation. Unfortunately only small percentage of the human race is gifted with the artistic sense, and the drawings would require, in most cases, a deal of explanation. it becan e necessary, when drawing (say) a horse, to say "This is a horse," and supplement the drawing with imitation of neighing, I fear the conversation would lag somewhat. Please excuse this frivolity, but that is how the idea presents itself to my inartistic nature. May I add that the Dover Esperanto Club meets every Thursday evening at 8 o'clock, at the School of Art, thanks the kindness of the Mayor in placing a room at our disposal. Non-members are always welcome, and I should be pleased at any time to give information, and to supply text books, etc. I remain, dear sir, yours obediently, H. S. GEDDES. Hon. Sec., Dover Esperanto Club. Northumberland House, Dover, 24th August, 1904.
(Dover Express - Friday 26 August 1904)
THE ESPERANTO CONGRESS PROCEEDINGS AT BOULOGNE. VISIT TO DOVER YESTERDAY. At Boulogne this week, for the first time in the history of the world since the confusion of tongues at Babel, a Congress of representatives of all parts of the world—or, at any rate, of 35 distinct nationalities—has met and been able to speak to one another in a language common to all. Esperanto, the language which made this possible, is the invention of Polish gentleman, Dr. Zamenhof, of Warsaw. At an early age he recognised that if it were possible to introduce a universal language to use as a means of communication between different nations he would be conferring a benefit mankind. It is not a new idea. In the Middle Ages Latin was to a certain extent a universal written language, but as a spoken tongue it never was universal, because of the differing pronunciations and because of its intricate grammar. Volapuk was another attempt at a universal language, and Bolak was another. Each, however, proved useless for reasons of want of simplicity and from artificial ideas in forming the words. Esperanto is claimed to be and is so absolutely simple that its grammar may be learnt in a day; its words are not artificial, but derived from the roots of European tongues, and a large proportion are very similar to English. Its pronouncation based the Phonetic principle of one letter -one sound. Each sound is to be found in every spoken language in the world, and therefore there is no danger of Esperanto being pronounced dif ferently by different peoples. Esperanto being so simple, has made wonderful progress in the short time, comparatively, that it has been before the public. In every country Societies, National with local branches, have been formed to teach and practice the new language, the Dover Esperanto Club being a local example. There are similar organisations at Deal and Folkestone, the latter being an outcome of the propagandist work of Mr. H. R. Geddes, of Messrs. Friend and Co. 's Continental Agency, who was the original Secretary of the Dover Esperanto Club. Representatives from such organisations all over the world gathered together to tho number of between three thousand and four thousand s>t Boulogne for this first Universal Esperanto Congress. Dr. Zamenhoff, the inventor of the language, met with hero-worship sufficient to turn the head of anyone, but he seemed to keep cool and by turning the energies of his devotees into propagandist work to profit, the cause of Esperanto thereby. The Congress opened on cay at tho Municipal Theatre of Boulogne, a handsomely decorated building about the size of one of the large London Theatres. The Mayor of Boulogne, M. Peron. presided, and welcomes were addressed to the Esperantists by him and lv M. Michaŭ, a well known French barrister, who is President of the Boulogne Esperanto Club, and both an enthusiast and an accomplished speaker the new language. Dr. Zanienhof met with an enthusiastic reception, in the which enthusiastic Esperantists cheered, viva-ed, waved handkerchiefs, until fatigue alone brought quiet and allowed the doctor to speak. He dealt mainly with Esperanto as a means of cementing the brotherhood of mankind, and by furthering mutual understanding lead to idealistic state of International peace. A superb concert followed, all performances being in Esperanto. The Congress has attracted great deal of attention from both the English and French Press, but the stories about everyone in Boulogne wearing the green Esperanto star and Esperanto being heard everywhere, were quite far of the mark. Boulogne is still French, and the general prevalence of "English spoken here" not yet superseded by the green symbol, and the words "Oni Parolas Esperanton." but there were, all the same, plenty of such signs to seen. The visitors, though so large iri numbers, are out-distanced by the ordinary visitors to Boulogne, which is very full just now, with the result that the hotels and lodging houses were all crowded. Excellent arrangements had been made at Boulogne for the accommodation of the visitors, who had also been well prov'ded for with railway facilities by the enterprising and well managed Northern of France Railway. Amongst the Dover visitors were Mr. W. Chitty (Hon. Secretary Dover Esperanto Club), Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Beaufoy, Mr. and Mrs.W. L. Law, and M. J. M. Finez, vice-Consul of France at Dover, and Agent for the Nord Railway, who was one of the organising Committee the Boulogne Congress, and responsible with the Agence Voyages Modernes—the chief French Tourist Agency—for the arrangements for the visit. of the Esperantists to England. This latter would have been a much larger affair but for the lack of cheap facilities offered the S.E.R. Co., as a result of which, instead of 800visitors staying at Dover, a large number will return the same night. At Boulogne, the Congressists spent Sunday in various ways. Some churches had Esperanto sermons; at others the ordinary services were attended; buit the majority spent their time visiting tho surroundings of Boulogne. In the evening a concert was given at the Municipal Theatre, in which all performers used Esperanto, and there was also acted Moliere's " Marriage forcee," translated into Esperanto, and acted by amateurs of about a dozen different nationalities. On Monday, a good deal of Congress work, dealing with with the details of Esperanto, was got through before noon, when a grand banquet tcok place at the Casino, where over 400 delegates, representing 35 nationalities, were present-. M. Michaŭ. the President of the Boulogne Esperanto Club, was in the chair. The health of Dr. Zamenhof was submitted in enthusiastic terms by him, and he referred to the rapid development of Esperanto throughout the world, and predicted that it would fulfil the aim of its inventor by becoming a universal aŭiliary language for the purposes of commercial correspondence, etc. Dr. Zamenhof, in the course of his reply, urged the importance of Esperanto as factor in the world's peace by breaking down the language barrier, and enabling the nations better to understand each other. Then followed a remarkable scene, as for nearly two hours representatives of one nationality after another, twenty in all, from both hemispheres, rose and paid glowing tributes to Dr. Zamenhof as inventor of the common language in which they all spoke. The almost frantic applause with which tlioir speeches were received, proved how efficient an instrument is Esperanto. The English speaker probably created the most interest by calling upon his co-patriots to join in giving Dr. Zamenhof musical honours with "For he's jolly good fellow!" sung in English by way of a change. In the evening a grand costume ball took place at the Casino, when distinctive national costumes wore worn to a very large extent by the delegates. The Casino was crowded with visitors, who undoubtedly had both curiosity and interest aroused in the new language by the novelty of the event.
ESPERANTISTS' VISIT TO DOVER. Yesterday, a largo party of Esperantists came on an excursion to England, and after crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone, where they received a hearty welcome, they were entertained by the Mayor and Corporation of Folkestone in the Council Chamber. Subsequently, about. 250 came on to Dover, arriving the Dover Town Station 6.18. The party included Dr. Zamenhof, the inventor of language, who is staying with M. Finez 25. Poncester Road. The party is very much smaller than was anticipated owing to the fact that it was impossible to arrange a cheap trip across the Channel. The Voyages Modernes Agency, accordingly, was unable undertake to provide for the party, who had to arrange matters for themselves, with the assistance cf the officers of the Dover Esperanto Club. Last evening at 9 p.m. the Esperantists were the guests of the Mayor (Sir William Crundall), President the Dover Esperanto Club, at a reception in the Council Chamber. The Mayor, however, was absent in London at the Anglo- French Guildhall Banquet, and Mr. A. T. Walmisley ex-President of the Club, took the chair, and welcomed the guests. On his right sat Dr. Zanienhof, the founder of the new language, and on his left sat Mme. Zamenhof, whilst others supporting him were Mr. Michaŭ (President of the Boulogne Esperanto Club), Dr. Guyot. (President of the Calais Group), Messrs. Finez and Geddes (of the Dover Esperanto Club) were there act as interpreters to those who did not grasp the meaning of the lingvo internacia. Others present were Messrs. H. Hayward, J. R. Mundy, H. Leney, H. F. Edwin, J. Falconer, W. Chitty, C. E. Beaufoy, and a number of Dover ladies, whilst the Esperanto guests included French. Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Italians, etc. There were about 200 present altogether. Mr. Walmislev. having apologised and explained the absence of the Mayor, who deputed him to welcome them and offer the delegates the hospitality had provided for them. reminded the visitors of the important part Dover had taken in the history of this country, and of its progress in late years. At Dover the f : rst Esperanto Congress was held on a smaller scale last year, and it was from Wimereŭ near Boulogne that the first wireless telegraphic message was sent across the Channel to Dover. He considered that the International aŭiliary language would do a great deal to unite nations, and that Dr. Zamenhof had done a great work. He proposed his health, and also that of Mr. Michaŭ, President the Boulogne Congress. (Cheers.) Dr. Zamenhof, responding to the toast, said that though he regretted his inability to speak English, it would not be necessary to regret it, because of the progress the English were making in Esperanto. (Cheers.) M. Michaŭ said that it. gave him very great pleasure once more in England, because ofthe recollections it brought them of their pleasant visit last summer to the Dover Congress, which, though small one. gave rise to the idea of the great universal congress just held at Boulogne. Dover was the first town in England to show its Esperanto scholarship, and to express on the entrance to its Town Hall a welcome in Esperanto all who spoke that language. He expressed his high appreciation of the the work of the chief members of the Dover Esperanto Club for the new language, and especially referred to Messrs. Geddes and Finez. (Cheers.) . M. Gromoski, of Warsaw, b?? on behalf of all the other nations, return ??? to their English hosts—(cheers) —and the ??? endorsed it singing "Dio Regon Savu" (God save the King.) Dr. Guyot (President of the Calais Esperanto Group) also spoke, and cordially invited all to come to the Calaisien reception the following day. The health of the Chairman was next proposed by Madame Zamenhof, and duly honoured, after which the proceedings closed. About 50 returned by the night Calais boat, the remainder staying in Dover. About 50 go on to London, but the others will leave Dover this afternoon for Ostend. (Dover Express - Friday 11 August 1905)
One wonders about the later history of Esperanto in the town. Are there minute books in existence?