Bloomerism in Finsbury
Yesterday evening an immense number of people assembled at the Royal British Institution, Cowper-street, City-road, to hear a lecture announced by the “apostle of Bloomerism,” Mrs. C. H Dexter. Every door of the building was regularly besieged, and two or three times stormed by the advancing party, who regardless of the intreaties of the doorkeeper, would come in and see the fun. By 8 o’ clock every nook and corner of the large school-room was completely filled, the ledges of the wall and even the rafters being turned into the “perch” of some adventurous spirits. When this inflowing had been accomplished to the full capacity of the building, those within set their backs against the doors and successfully resisted the further influx of the sightseeing mob, of whom, by the by, the greater part were males. Half past 8 arrived (as was shown by a tell tale clock in the room), but no Mrs. Dexter. Those who had paid their money naturally waxed impatience and began to indulge themselves in a few noises and other popular amusements so thoroughly congenial to the tastes of a large set of enlightened waiting Englishmen. But time wore on, and at least someone in authority (one of the committee, we believe), announced that Mrs. Dexter would appear as soon as the audience conducted themselves properly. This, perhaps, was not the most judicious way of securing silence. By and by, Mr. Dexter appeared in the nondescript dress of his order and said that his lady would appear as soon as the police could clear a way for her outside; and a few afterwards announced that she was in the building and only waited till silence could be commanded to come forward. This alternate speechifying of Mr. Dexter and the committee man continued till nearly 10 o’ clock, not one word out of a dozen being heard on account of the cries for order and facetious observations of the visitors. At least the combined expression of the feelings of those who had paid their threepences for the sake of being very much pushed and crowded, found utterance in one of the platform audience, a young lady, who stepped forward and asserted that her idea of it was that it was a hoax and defied Mr. Dexter to produce his wife. Mr. Dexter had apparently found his vanishing point, but the poor committee man was pounced on and ranged beside her and on his devoted head were wreaked the flowers of oratory of the indignant lady. What the explanation that took place between them was we could not hear, but from the few isolated sentences that reached us through the conflicting noise we learnt that Mr. Dexter had left the building, that there was no chance of Mrs. Dexter’s appearing that there was a proposition to give a lecture next Monday instead and that the young lady was of opinion that they (the audience) were made fools of by letting Mr. Dexter escape without having the money returned. And so ended the attempt at a Bloomer lecture in Finsbury. It was past 10 o’ clock before the audience began to disperse and then but slowly and when we left, the building was nearly still full.
The Times, Tuesday, Sep 30, 1851; pg. 8