Thankfully, Williams was ‘happy to add that no unpleasant consequences resulted. The cigarette had a very soothing effect, but it neither drugged me nor made me ill.” Yes, a high court judge had a smoke of crack, but claimed he wasn’t high. Imagine the newspaper reports were that to be published today!
Sadly, the story ends badly for some residents of Ratcliff Highway. As Williams and his friends left the opium den, they heard a hue and cry, and were thrust into the middle of a panicked crowd. Apparently some ‘Chinamen’ had been robbed in a nearby pub, and had become embroiled in a fight. When a mob of Englishmen set upon them, the Chinese men (possibly members of a notorious East End gang) drew knives and fought their way to freedom, indiscriminately stabbing men and women in the process. Williams happened across a dead body first hand. Grim stuff!
And yet, he continued his journey ‘Round London’. Without his intrepid spirit, and that of men like him, we wouldn’t have such colourful records of life in the Victorian era. Raise your glass to Mr. Montagu Williams QC. Gawd bless ’im.