The appointment so young had been most unpopular in Parliament, but the physical attack on Pitt saved his bacon. His political opponents were blamed and he survived in office on a wave of public sympathy.
At the end of 1850, a penniless refugee from the Prussian revolution moved with his wife and four children into two miserable rooms on the top floor of this building (with a flag) in Dean Street, Soho.
The whole family, including the maid, slept in one dirty room. The other was full of broken furniture, unwashed plates and the refugee’s books and papers piled high on a table by the window.
The refugee was a dangerous political thinker. The Prussians distrusted him so much that they sent people here to spy on him. One of the spies was horrified at the refugee’s lifestyle:
‘He leads the life of a real Bohemian intellectual. Washing, grooming and changing his linen are things he does rarely, and he likes to get drunk… He has no fixed times for going to sleep and waking up. He often stays up all night, and then lies down fully clothed on the sofa at midday and sleeps till evening, untroubled by the comings and goings of the world.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 77. This unwashed political thinker later became world famous. Who was he?
‘As sharp as Evelyn Waugh and sometimes better’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Good, clean fun’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Pure comic pleasure’ – Spectator