6 October 1888
THE BERNER STREET MURDER
THE RESUMED INQUEST
THE BERNER STREET MURDER
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter resumed his inquiry yesterday into the circumstances attending the death of the woman who was found with her throat cut in Berner street, Spitalfields, early on the morning of Sunday last.
Dr. Phillips continuing his evidence, said: Since the last occasion I have examined the remains of the deceased more fully, and I cannot find any injury to or absence of any part of either the hard or the soft palate. I think also you, sir, requested me to examine the handkerchiefs. I have been unable to find any blood upon them, but I think the stains on the larger of them are those of fruit. I think it my duty to point out that I did not find any grapes in the hand of the deceased. I believe from an examination of the stomach that the deceased had not swallowed the skin or seed of a grape within many hours before her death. The neckerchief on the deceased was not torn as I first thought, but cut. The knife that was produced on the last occasion was delivered to me properly secured by Police constable 282 H. On examination I found it to be such a knife as is used in a chandler's shop, and is called a slicing knife. It has blood upon it, which has characteristics of the blood of a warm blooded animal. It has been recently blunted, and its edge turned by rubbing apparently on a stone such as a kerbstone. It evidently before was a very sharp knife. Such a knife could have produced the incision and injuries to the neck, but it is not such a weapon as I should have chosen to inflict the injuries in the present case; and if my opinion as regards the position of the body is correct, the knife in question would become an improbable instrument to have caused the incision. I have come to a conclusion as to the incision and also the perpetrator or the deed. I affirm that she was seized by the shoulder placed on the ground, and that the perpetrator of the deed was on her right side when he inflicted the cut. I am of opinion that the cut was made from the left to the right of the deceased, and therefore arises the unlikelihood of such a long knife causing the wound in the neck, taking into account the position of the incision. The knife I have seen was rounded at the point. It is a mystery how the right hand of the deceased became smeared with blood. I may say that I am taking it as a fact that the hand always remained in the same position as I found it in. The deceased when I saw her must have been alive within the hour.
Did the injury take long to inflict? - Only a few seconds. It might have been done in two seconds. I have seen several self inflicted wounds more extensive than this one, but then they have not usually involved the carotid artery. There seems therefore to have been in this case a knowledge of how to cut a throat in order to bring about a fatal result. There is a great dissimilarity between Chapman's case and this. In her case the throat was cut all round down to the vertebral column, which had two sharp cuts on it, and there had been an apparent attempt to separate the bone.
Would the man who committed the present murder be likely to be bloodstained? - Not necessarily, for the commencement of the wound and the injury to the vessels would be away from him, and the stream of blood would be directed away from him and towards the gutter, as already described. There was no perceptible trace of any anaesthetic or narcotic. The absence of noise is a difficult question under these circumstances to account for, but it must not be considered necessarily that there was no noise. If there was an absence of noise I cannot account for it, but she was in a neighbourhood where she might cry out very loudly without anybody taking notice of it. She may have cried out momentarily. A shoemaker's well ground knife would have made the cut. My reason for saying the deceased was injured when on the ground was partly on account of the absence of blood anywhere but on her left side and between her and the wall.
By the jury - There was no trace of morphia in the stomach.
Dr. Blackwell, recalled, said - I removed the cachous from the deceased's left hand, which was partly open. The packet was between the thumb and forefinger. I spilt some of them while removing them from the hand. My impression is that the hand gradually relaxed as the wound was being made. I do not think I made myself quite clear when I was asked if it might be a suicide. What I meant to say was that, under all the circumstances, and there being no instrument, I did not think it was a suicide. I have seen more severe cuts made by suicides. With respect to the knife which was found, I can confirm Dr. Phillips in his opinion that, although it might possibly have inflicted the injury, it is an extremely unlikely instrument to have been used. It appears to me that a murderer, in using a round pointed instrument, would severely handicap himself, as he would only be able to use it in one particular way. I am told that slaughterers only use sharp pointed knives. It is not a suggestion of mine that a slaughterer did the deed. We found what are called in post mortem examinations "pressure marks" on the shoulders of the deceased; but these are not what would ordinarily be called bruises, neither is there any abrasion of the skin. There is one on each shoulder about equally visible.
The Rev. Sven Olsson, 32 Prince's square, said - I am pastor of the Swedish Church in Trinity square. I saw the body of the deceased on Tuesday last. I have known the deceased for about seventeen years. Her name is Elizabeth Stride, and she was the wife of John Thomas Stride. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Gustaafsdotter. She was born in Torslander, near Gottenberg, on the 27th November, 1843. I get these facts from our Church register. We register those who come into this country bringing with them a certificate and who desire to be registered. Her register is dated 10th July, 1866, and she was registered as an unmarried woman. She was not married in the Swedish church. In the register I find a memorandum undated in the writing of the Rev. Mr. Palmayer that the deceased was married to an Englishman named John Thomas Stride. I know the hymn book produced. I gave it to the deceased last winter. I think deceased was married to Stride in 1869. She told me that he was drowned in the Princess Alice disaster. She was very poor then, and would have been glad of any assistance. I gave her assistance about that time. We have no schools connected with the Swedish Church. I do not remember having heard that she had any children. If it were true that her husband went down in the Princess, I think she would have applied for relief from the fund which was raised at the Mansion House.
The Coroner - No one did apply in the name of Stride.
Witness - I never saw her husband. Before she told me he died we had given her some assistance. Two years ago she gave me her address in Devonshire street, Commercial road. She said she was doing a little work sewing. She could speak English pretty well. I think the deceased came to England a little time before the register was made.
William Marshall, 64 Berner street, labourer in an indigo warehouse, said - I saw the body of the deceased on Sunday. I saw her on the Saturday evening. She was in our street about three doors from where I am living. It was then about 11.45. She was standing talking to a man on the pavement. I recognised the deceased as the same woman both by her face and dress. I do not think she was wearing a flower in her breast when I saw her. She and the man were talking quietly together.
Can you describe the man? - There was no lamp nearer than the corner, and the man was standing in the dark. I could not see his face distinctly. He was dressed in a black small coat, and dark trousers. He seemed to me to be a middle aged man. He had a round cap with a small peak to it, somewhat like one of those worn by sailors. He was about 5ft 6in high and rather stoutish.
Did he look well dressed? - Yes. He did not look as if he was engaged in hard work. He had more the appearance of a clerk than anything I can suggest. I do not think he had any whiskers. He was not wearing gloves. He had no umbrella or stick in his hand. I did not see anything in the hands of then deceased. I was standing in my door.
What drew your attention to them? - I saw him kissing and cuddling her. I heard him say to the deceased, "You would say anything but your prayers." He was a mild speaking man, and spoke as if he were an educated man. I did not hear him say anything more. I only heard the woman laugh after the man made the observation I heard. When they left they went in the middle if the road in the direction of Ellen street. They would not have passed No 40 (the club) on their way. The deceased was dressed in a black jacket and skirt. Neither of them seemed to be the worse for drink. I went indoors about 12 o'clock. I heard nothing more till the cry of "Murder" was raised in the street, which occurred just after one o'clock.
By Inspector Reid - They were standing between my house and the club. They were there about ten minutes. They passed me as they went away, the man with his arms round the woman's neck. They were not hurrying at all.
James Brown, 35 Fairclough street, a box maker, said - I have seen the deceased in the mortuary. On Sunday morning last about 12.45 I went from my own house to get some supper from a chandler's shop at the corner of Berner street. I was in the shop a few minutes and then went home. As I crossed the road I saw a man and woman standing by the Board school in Fairclough street. I was in the road just by the kerb and they were up against the wall. I heard the woman say, "Not tonight, some other night." This made me look round at them. I am almost certain the deceased is the woman who spoke. I did not notice if she was wearing a flower in her dress. The man was bending over her with his arm resting over hear head on the wall. She was facing him. I noticed that the man had a long dark coat on, which reached nearly down to his heels. I cannot say what sort of hat or cap he wore. I saw nothing light in colour about the dress of either of them. It was not raining at the time. I went home taking no further notice of them. When I had nearly finished my supper I heard screams and shouts for the police - that would have been in about a quarter of an hour. When I heard the shouts I did not go down. I should think the height of the man was about 5ft 7in, and he was of average build. Neither the man nor the woman appeared to be the worse for drink. I did not notice that the woman spoke with a foreign accent. When I heard the screams I opened the window, but the persons calling out had gone past, and I could see nothing. Shortly afterwards, I saw a policeman standing at the corner of Christian street. I heard a man opposite call out to him that he was wanted, and he ran along to Berner street. I believe the deceased to be the woman I saw.
Police constable William Smith, 452 H, said - Berner street was in my beat on the night in question. My beat takes between 25 minutes and half an hour to patrol. I was in Berner street about 12.35 and got back there about one o'clock. I was not called there but went in my ordinary round. I saw the disturbance outside the gates of No 40. I heard no cries of "Police." There were two policemen there. I do not remember passing any one on my way down Berner street. Having seen the deceased where she was lying I went to the police station for the ambulance. Mr. Johnston, Dr. Blackwell's assistant, arrived just as I was going away. When I was in Berner street at 12.30 or so I saw a man and a woman talking together. The woman was like the deceased - in fact, I am sure the woman is the deceased. The two stood a few yards up Berner street. I noticed the man who was talking to her. He had a parcel done up in newspaper in his hand, about 18 inches long and 6 to 8 inches broad. He was about 5ft 7in high, as near as I can say. He had a hard felt hat on, and was wearing dark clothes and a cutaway coat. I did not overhear any of their conversation. Both of them seemed to be sober. I did not see much of the man's face, but he had no whiskers, and as near as I could judge was about 28 years of age. He was respectably dressed. I noticed that the woman had a flower in her dress.
Michael Kidney, recalled, identified the hymn book given to the deceased by Mr. Olsson, as having belonged to her. He only said she was deficient in the roof of her mouth because she told him so. Philip Krantz - I live at 40 Berner street, and am editor of a Hebrew Socialist paper published at that address. I work in a room adjoining the printing room. It is on the ground floor of the club, and the entrance is from the yard. I was in this room on Saturday last from nine p.m. until the discovery of the body. I heard nothing until one of the members of the club came and told me that there was a woman lying in the yard. My window was not open nor was the door. There was singing upstairs; if it had been quiet I should have heard a scream, but I don't think I should have on that night in consequence of the music. When I got outside I saw a number of the members of the club round the body of the woman. I do not think it possible that any stranger could have escaped without notice after I arrived in the yard. He might have done so after Diemschitz left his barrow and went into the club.
The rest of the evidence was of a formal character, consisting of the proof of the plans of the locality in which the body was found, &c. Detective Inspector Reid deposed to being called from the Commercial street Police station, where he resides, to the scene, arriving there at about a quarter of two. He detailed to the Coroner the steps he took in conjunction with the other officers present to thoroughly search the neighbourhood for any trace of the criminal. Every portion of the club house at 40 Berner street, and all the surrounding property was carefully examined, but without any satisfactory clue being arrived at.
The inquiry was then adjourned until next Tuesday fortnight, the 23rd inst., at 2 o'clock.
On the question of identity of the woman stated to be Elizabeth Stride, a Greenwich correspondent writes:
At the inquest at the Vestry hall, Cable street, before Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, on Wednesday, Elizabeth Turner, deputy at the common lodging house at 32 Flower and Dean street, said she did not know the name of the deceased, but recognised the body as that of "Long Liz," who had lodged in her house on and off for about six years, and added, "She told me she was a married woman, and that her husband went down in the Princess Alice ship."
Michael Kidney, of 35 Dorset street, Spitalfields, who identified the body as that of Elizabeth Stride, said the woman told him she was a widow, and that her husband, who was drowned in the Princess Alice disaster, was a ship's carpenter belonging to Sheerness, and added, "She said she had nine children, and that two were drowned in the Princess Alice." Now the Bywell Castle, steam collier, ran down the Princess Alice off Tripcock Point, just below Woolwich Arsenal, on the evening of the 3rd September, 1878; and consequently at that time Elizabeth Stride was 25 years of age, and could not have had children over the age of ten years. Mr. C.J. Carttar, late coroner for West Kent, held an inquiry, extending over six weeks, on the bodies of 527 persons drowned by the disaster, at the Town hall, Woolwich, the majority of whom were identified and caused an alphabetical list of those identified, above 500, to be made by his clerk. An inspection of the list, which is in the possession of Mr. E.A. Carttar, the present coroner, and son of the late coroner, does not disclose the name of Stride. Whole families were drowned, but the only instance of a father and two children being drowned where the children were under the age of 12 years was in the case of an accountant named Bell, aged 38, his two sons being aged respectively 10 and 7 years. It is true that Mr. Lewis, the Essex coroner, held inquests on a few of the bodies cast ashore in Essex, but it is extremely improbable that the three bodies of Mr. Stride and his two children were cast ashore on that side of the river, or that they were all driven out to sea and lost. If the bodies were picked up and taken to Woolwich they must have been identified by Mrs. Stride. It is therefore possible that the body upon which the inquest is now being held is not that of Elizabeth Stride, but of some unknown woman.
The funeral of Kate Eddowes will take place on Monday next. The remains will leave the City Mortuary between two and three o'clock, and will be interred in the cemetery at Ilford. The relatives have accepted the offer of Mr. Hawkes, of Banner street, St Luke's, to bear the expenses of the funeral.
The Central news states that Sir Charles Warren has been making inquiries as to the practicability of employing trained bloodhounds for use in special cases in the streets of London; and, having ascertained that dogs have been accustomed to work in a town can be procured, he is making immediate arrangements for their use in London.
A man was yesterday arrested at Tiptree heath on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murders, but was released on satisfying the police as to his movements.
At the Marylebone Police Court, yesterday, Geo. Payne, who described himself as a labourer, and who spoke with a provincial dialect, was charged with being drunk in the street. Detective sergeant Gurtner, F Division, said he received information about eleven o'clock on Thursday night that a man in the Harrow road had been heard to say that he had committed half a dozen murders in the East end of London, and now he had come to the West end to commit half a dozen more. He had also made defiant remarks about the Home Secretary. Witness went after the man, whom he found to be drunk, and having questioned him took him into custody. There was great excitement in the neighbourhood. Mr. George Nash, the landlord of a beerhouse, No 51 Harrow road, said the prisoner entered his house and was supplied with half a pint of beer. At that time he appeared all right, but prisoner said he knew Mr. John Morley and the Home Secretary would like to get hold of him, but he was too clever for them. He had done five or six murders in Whitechapel, and now he thought he would come to the West end. Witness thought that even of what the man had said were not true he (the prisoner) ought not to escape punishment for making the statement.
Mr. de Rutzen - Was he drunk?
Witness - I did not think he was when he came in.
Mr. de Rutzen - You should be a judge.
Witness - Well, the prisoner is a curious sort of man to judge of.
Barrett, assistant gaoler, said the prisoner was charged at this court on Monday, and on the following day he was fined 3s. The prisoner said he had not insulted any one, and he appealed to the public at the rear of the court if he had insulted them. He lived at Whitechapel years ago, but had not been there since. Mr. de Rutzen told the prisoner he was one of those mischievous fellows who go about and terrify people by boasting that he had done some horrible crime in the East end. He would have to pay a fine of 10s, or go to prison for seven days.
The prisoner - "Boasting, eh?"
At the Guildhall, William Bull, who gave himself up to the police on Tuesday, for the Mitre square murder, came yesterday before Alderman Stone. Inspector Izzard stated that he was satisfied that the man had made his statement out of pure mischief. He was respectably connected, but was unfortunately the worse for drink when taken into custody. The Alderman discharged the prisoner, adding he was sorry there was no law to punish him. The young man said he had signed the pledge.
The Central News says: A woman was found lying insensible in Brick lane before midnight. A crowd quickly collected, and great excitement prevailed. It seems that about half past 11 o'clock three men noticed a hansom cab containing two men and a woman turn down Air street. Having reached a dark railway arch the men in the cab got out and deposited upon the ground the woman, who was apparently insensible. The three men who were watching, having their suspicions aroused, raised an alarm. The other two men jumped into the cab, and the cabman droved (sic) hurriedly off. One of the men, however, returned to the spot where the woman had been deposited, and was pointed out to a constable, who took him to the Commercial road Police station. he gave the name of Johnson, but as he was unable to dispel the suspicions of the police he was detained. A later message says: No further arrests have been made in connection with the East end murders up to ten o'clock this morning, and there is no one in custody under suspicion at any of the East end police stations. The man Johnson, who was arrested under a railway arch in Brick lane, about midnight, was released, it having been established that he had no connection with the murders. The woman who was with him was his wife, and as they were both intoxicated when they alighted from the hansom under the archway, which is a very dark spot, and failed to give any explanation, they were taken to Commercial street station. A relative named Mills, residing in the vicinity, to whom, it seems, they were going, called at the police station, and on his statement they were released. The incident happening as it did in a very dark and suspicious neighbourhood naturally attracted the attentions of passers by and no end of excitement prevailed, as the affair was speedily connected with the murders.
Detective Inspector Marshall yesterday morning went to Guildford to bring to London some human remains discovered near the railway there. A woman's leg has been found, and it is stated that it had been boiled in the first instance. The limb is to (be) brought to London to be compared with the trunk found at Whitehall. It is reported that very important information had been obtained, which will shortly lead to the identification of the murdered woman and to an arrest.
Mr. Baxter yesterday resumed the inquest on the body of the woman who was murdered in Berner street on Sunday morning last. Dr. Phillips and Dr. Blackwell gave further evidence as to the nature of the wounds, and the probable character of the instrument used to inflict them. Three witnesses who saw a woman, believed to be the deceased, with a man in or near Berner street, immediately before the murder was committed, gave important evidence, and the Rev. Sven Ollsen identified the deceased as Elizabeth Stride, a Swede. The inquiry was adjourned till the 23rd inst.
Though he bates no jot of his pretensions as a thought reader, Mr. Stuart Cumberland confesses himself unable to be of any use in bringing the Whitechapel assassin to justice "as matters at present stand." The difficulty is that you must, as Mr. Cumberland says, first have your murderer at hand to be operated on. A thought reader cannot, of course, operate on all Whitechapel - not to speak of the possibility of the murderer being somewhere outside the parish limits. All this is reasonable, but it is not the less unfortunate; because when the murderer is once found the thought reader's services will not be needed. It is only in the melodrama of "The Bells", and even then only in a dream, that the thought reader's testimony is evidence. Nevertheless, we are assured by Mr. Cumberland that he has on two separate occasions - once in Warsaw and once in Australia - successfully read the thoughts of prisoners if whom nothing could be made in the usual way. He has also, times without number, successfully experimented with imaginary criminals, reproducing in every detail the form of murder which they had in mind to commit. Mr. W.S. Gilbert, Mr. S.B. Bancroft, Signor Rossi, and General Ignatieff are named by him as among the well known men who have been his most pliant "subjects."
WOMAN KILLING NO MURDER
WOMAN KILLING NO MURDER
All women must be grateful to Mrs. Fenwick Miller for her timely and courageous letter in your issue of Tuesday last. The callous indifference with which the English people at large view the wholly inadequate sentences meted out to ruffians who are daily and hourly committing the most dastardly assaults upon defenceless women is a crying shame upon our nineteenth century Christian civilization. It would almost seem as if magistrates and jury alike were in league with the prisoners against the protection of the assaulted women. And yet these men must have hearts and feelings, for we see the universal indignation aroused in their breasts by the present horrible succession of murders. The same men who have been settling a case of wife beating, almost amounting to murder, by three months' imprisonment in the morning, are throwing themselves heart and soul into vigilance committees in the evening, to unearth the greater monster. The only conclusion we can draw from Mrs. Fenwick Miller's able letter is, that the protection of women and children by law is a sham and a failure; and it can scarcely be otherwise because women are ciphers in the country as far as their own interests are concerned. In illustration of utterly inadequate sentences I would draw the attention of all thoughtful men and women to but one of two or three similar cases recorded in your issue of Tuesday. It occurred in the Police court at Dalston, before Mr. Horace Smith. A man, or rather a brute, James Henderson, 22 years of age, not only threatened to "rip up" an unfortunate woman who refused to accompany him, but actually struck her several heavy blows on the head with the buckthorn handle of his stick, causing blood to flow freely, and producing partial insensibility. Her screams attracted notice, and prevented further harm being done. The man pleaded drunkenness, and was let off with a fine of forty shillings, or one month's imprisonment. The man only just escaped being a brutal murderer such as the Whitechapel monster, and yet he was discharged with a fine only. Had he succeeded in achieving his evident intention, manslaughter would have been the verdict on account of his drunkenness. A crime appears to be less a crime when committed under the influence of drink. In my opinion - and that, I believe, of all total abstainers - it is doubly a crime, because we would make drunkenness a crime and not a venial offence to be lightly dealt with and even joked about. A man seems to think that he has only to plead drunkenness in cases of common or criminal assault, and that will be sufficient justification for his brutality, and will exonerate him. Evidently men of this class have studied the law according to the police courts. But, Sir, Mrs. Fenwick Miller asks in her concluding paragraph, "What are men going to do.... what are they going to do to check the ever rising flood of brutality to women, of which these murders are only the latest wave?" I think that all women who take any interest whatever in social questions, and who see and welcome the dawn of their emancipation rising before them - be it ever so faintly - will have but one answer, and that is, that the time has fully come when women must take a part, however indirectly it may be at first, in making the laws which govern their country. Also women ought to be called upon to serve on juries in such cases as the one I have quoted, and certainly many more women ought to be elected to serve as Poor Law Guardians, on the School Boards, and in fact in every capacity where the interests of women and children are at stake. I venture to state in conclusion, for I firmly believe it, that the extension of the franchise to women will do more to regenerate society and to solve all social problems than another hundred years of masculine legislation. The time and the necessity have come for women to be recognised as an active and integral part of this great nation, if England is to keep her place in the van of civilization.
Kate Mitchell, Licentiate of the King's and Queen's College of Physicians, &c.
Sloane street, S.W.
Attention has very properly been called in the Daily news to a case lately tried before Mr. Horace Smith at Dalston, in which a tailor had brutally struck an unfortunate woman who refused to listen to his improper proposals, was let off with a fine of 40s, or one month's imprisonment. I do not dwell here on the gross injustice of a prisoner who cannot pay 40s receiving as an alternative one month's hard labour; but it is very desirable that further notice should be taken of the reasons advanced by the magistrate for passing so light a sentence. Mr. Smith is reported to have said; "If it had not been that you were drunk, and may not have known exactly what you were doing, I should have dealt very severely with you. It is not because this class of women are unfortunate that they are to be knocked about. I have considered the good character you have hitherto borne, and also that I do not think it was wilful wickedness." Mr. Smith is of opinion, therefore, in defiance of the law, that a person who is drunk is not to be punished in the same way as if he were sober; his conduct is not "wilful wickedness." It follows that before committing any crime a person should take drink, or state that he has done so, when his punishment will be slight!
A Lover of Justice.
May I offer a few remarks in endorsement of Mrs. Miller's splendid letter "Woman Killing No Murder," but principally to notice the absurd and ludicrous inequality of sentences? Your correspondent confines her remarks to lenient sentences, to use a very charitable expression, but haven't we almost as many the other side, disproportionately severe sentences, for often almost trivial offences. I contend that magistrates should have no power to deal with severe cases of assaults, as their sentences are restricted to six months' imprisonment, but let them go for trial, the verdict there may be most inadequate to the offence, but at any rate, they are more likely to meet with their deserts. I know of no society that especially interests itself in such matters, but I should be most happy to see one formed, their principal object being the consideration of disproportionate sentences, with the view of forwarding brief particulars and comments to the morning and evening papers with the name of the presiding judge or magistrate who was responsible for such mockery of justice. Such accounts from time to time would draw public opinion forcibly to such shameful legal farces; and our dispensers of justice (query) might be induced to think twice before making a public exhibition of themselves, and temper their judgements with common fairness and good practical common sense.
I trust Mrs. Fenwick Miller's letter may be productive of great good, the worn our arguments of "A.P." in answer thereto notwithstanding. The conduct of the judicial and magisterial bench is absolutely defenceless. First, as to wives pleading for mercy to their brutal husbands (and here let me say "A.P." should have taken notice Mrs. Fenwick Miller did not confine herself to cases alone of husband and wife), the wife's pleas are the result of sheer terror as to future consequences, and should always be interpreted in a contrary sense. Then as to the wife and family going to the workhouse when the husband is in prison; Suppose a brute for sheer amusement kicked "A.P." within an inch of his life, and the magistrate excused himself for giving a term of imprisonment long enough to be deterrent on the ground that the prisoner's family would have to go to the workhouse meanwhile. How would "A.P." appreciate his own arguments? Besides "A.P." ought to know the ruffians who knock their wives about do not usually work for them. And then there is the case in which men kill their wives, not mercifully - like the Whitechapel murderer - but by slow degrees. Extending the sphere of female labour to render them more independent of husbands is likely to influence Mrs. Fenwick Miller more than myself, for I clearly see, from practical experience, that it simply means extending the system of men living on the labour of their womenkind. In conclusion, I will give one example of judicial callousness in addition to those quoted by Mrs. Miller. Some roughs set upon a woman in the street, who took refuge in a small dairy, the woman in charge of which came forward with a poker to assist the one in distress. The poker was wrenched from her, and used about her with the result that she died. One of the miscreants was convicted of manslaughter; sentence - ten months with hard labour!
Oh Lord, our gentry care as little
For delvers, ditchers, and sic cattle,
They gang as saucy by poor folk
As I wad by a stinking brook.
In your report of the proceedings at the Worship street Police court on Tuesday last, which appeared in your columns on Wednesday, I am stated to have made an observation to the magistrate - Mr. Montagu Williams - which ( in consequence perhaps of my addressing the magistrate and not the reporter) has been somewhat misrepresented. The magistrate denounced in very strong language the tendency to immorality and crime which the common lodging houses of the East end fostered and the facilities they afforded for the concealment of the criminals and outcasts of society. The inspector of police present made a remark to the magistrate, and I, as amicus curiae, not as reported, that there was only one section in the Criminal Law Amendment Act which could deal with these cases, but that such cases - the indiscriminate letting of beds to strangers of both sexes - could not be dealt with under the Criminal Law Amendment Act unless it could be proved that the premises were used for habitual prostitution. The magistrate suggested that further legislation was required. That may be desirable, but does not suggest to any ordinary observer that the same law which prevents a travelling tinker and his wife or companion from staying at a common lodging house in a "double" would also apply to Lord Beldash and Lady Nocash staying at the Grand or any other hotel. I agree with the magistrate that these houses are the haunts of, to a large extent, the criminal class; but these houses are inspected by and are under the eyes of the police. Suppress the houses, and what becomes of the habitues? They are not suppressed; so long as the class exists they will have their haunts and resorts. You do not destroy the vermin simply by destroying their nests; neither can you suppress wickedness and crime by driving them into holes and corners. Mr. Montagu Williams professes to have had a large experience with this class of people. Suggestions for the amelioration of the criminal class, and for the prevention of criminal practices, from an authority such as Mr. Williams, are what society is now anxiously waiting for.
I am, &c.,
Vestry Clerk, St. Leonard, Shoreditch.