At the age of only 51, Mariano Batllori, a personal friend of Ferrer, has just died at Walthamstow.
As manager of Ferrer’s publishing business in Barcelona, he found himself exposed to the persecutions that followed the insurrectory movement of July 1909, and became one of its innocent and unfortunate victims.
Batllori had formed with Ferrer, during their schooldays, one of those solid friendships that resist time and all sorts of trials.
When Ferrer was charged with complicity in Morral’s attempt on the life of the King and Queen of Spain, and thrown in prison, some friends of Morral found in a letter addressed to them, by the latter, sentences which completely proved Ferrer’s innocence; but not daring to trust the post office with such a precious document, they sought in Ferrer’s surroundings for a trustworthy person who might carry it to Madrid and put it in the hands of the solicitor; the choice fell on Mariano Batllori.
As manager of the Modern School, he had had time already to endure the vexations and threats of the police, and for a whole year had been trembling for the life of his friend.
When, after his acquittal, Ferrer understood the uselessness of his efforts to restart his school, and decided to start a publishing business, it was upon Batllori he conferred the post of manager and his power of attorney.
Then came the tragic events of July 1909. Batllori was arrested in the shop, at the Calle Cortes, and to reach the prison he had to walk through the streets of Barcelona, handcuffed with Senor Casasola, the former headmaster of the Modern School. Without any preparation, without anything on him except a few bob, without even being allowed to go home to inform his family, he was taken to the station surrounded by the civil guard, and exiled to Alcaniz, in the province of Tarragona. There he found himself with Jose, Ferrer’s brother, Jose’s wife, and their little girl, the veteran Anselmo Lorenzo, the teacher Casasola, and other employees of Ferrer. It will be easily understood what anguishes Mariano must have gone through after he had left Barcelona without being able to address a word or two of farewell to his wife, who was thus left alone with a little girl of five and her ailing mother.
From Alcaniz the exiles were transferred to Ternel [ie Teruel], another Spanish province which is still under the yoke of the narrowest fanaticism and where life thus became unbearable. In fact, they were living in a house which was watched day and night by the police and the civil guard, who had erected, at a few yards distance, a wooden shelter, so that their watch should not belie itself for a single moment. Their house door was bolted at 7pm, and no one was allowed to enter or leave that kind of fortress after that time. During the day they were not allowed to go out without being accompanied by one or more policemen. The same escort followed the postman and the purveyors. Thus unable to do any work and to earn any money, they saw the spectre of famine threatening them, and especially so because their correspondence was opened and the registered letters containing money had disappeared. It was but in November, more than a month after the execution of Ferrer, that these tortures came to an end.
Back in Barcelona, Batllori had to seek employment for his living, for Ferrer’s publishing house had been closed; but for more than two years his efforts remained unfruitful. His exile, his relations with Ferrer had closed to him the doors of all the employers, and he saw with terror his scanty savings go. A bronchitis which he had caught during Ferrer’s first trial became more acute, and physical suffering adding itself to moral suffering, undermined his health every day a little more.
It was then that our friend Guy Bowman, informed of this sad situation, offered him a berth in his newly-opened publishing business, and that was how, submitting himself to a new exile, he came to England and settled down with his wife and his little girl.
The friends who are in the habit of visiting the little cottage at Maude Terrace will no doubt remember the kind and modest comrade whom an imperfect knowledge of our tongue rendered very coy, and whose face bore the indelible imprint of the torments he had previously undergone. In the midst of the sympathy with which he was surrounded, he looked at one time as if he was going to recover, but the illusion did not last long. Undermined by disease and grief, his organism had lost all resistance, and death met hardly any resistance to accomplish its work.
Mariano Batllori leaves to all those who have known him the memory of a loyal, disinterested [ie not selfish] and devoted friend.
Footnote [RA/KSL] :
Berthe J. Batllori, born 1873, is registered as having died in 1915 in West Ham. Her death certificate shows she was still living at 4 Maude Terrace, Walthamstow with her sister Leopoldine, who registered the death. She (Berthe) is given as widow of Mariano Batllori. Both Berthe and Leopoldine had the second name Jeanne. Berthe and Mariano had a daughter who I presume accompanied them to England, but I haven’t found any information about her.
Guy Bowman also lived in Walthamstow.
The original of this article spells the surname Battlori throughout, this is an error [which has been silently corrected]: on official documents, including death certificates it’s spelt Batllori.
Footnote 2 [PS]
His wife was Berthe Bonnard, a one-time student of Ferrer’s Spanish classes in Paris in 1897-98. She was the sister of another Spanish learner, Leopoldine Bonnard, a rationalist schoolteacher. Apparently Ferrer and Leopoldine lived together before declaring their “free union” to a gathering of friends in Barcelona on the very day that her sister, Berthe (Berta) entered into a civil marriage with Batllori. Ferrer and Leopoldine had a son, Riego, before their relationship ended in 1905.
Footnote 3 [KSL]
This article was illustrated with a photo of Batllori in exile, taken from a group shot. This image of Batllori (and the other Modern School exiles) in Teruel can be seen at https://manelaisa.com/ateneu-enciclopedic-fotos/. Batllori is number 3 at https://manelaisa.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/1-desterrados-a-teruel-1909.jpg
From: The Syndicalist, September 1912.