8 October 1888
We are asked to publish the following letter addressed to candidates for election at the forthcoming municipal elections all over the country:-
The period of the year at which most of the elections to municipal offices take place appears to be a fitting one for asking your attention to the open provocation to immorality with which so many of our cities and towns abound. It is to the electors we must look for the use they make of the franchise in selecting those only who will manfully strive for the protection of their property and the security of their own families and the public morals. In the metropolis and many other centres of population certain streets swarm at night with those whose life is one of shame, and the boldness with which they ply their trade is greatly on the increase. The places in which they reside or to which they resort are rapidly multiplying. The knowledge of evil is this spread out before the young of both sexes, and the downward path rendered both easy and attractive. Public decency is outraged, and proceedings tolerated which are a disgrace to our moral character and our Christian profession. Much, if not all, this display of profligacy it is in the power of civic, municipal, and parochial bodies to prevent. The law may and does require strengthening, but it is useless to cry out for more power whilst that which we have is not used, and it is in vain to expect that it will be used unless those having authority or influence are alive to the necessity. The purpose of this Society is not to usurp the functions of those in whom the power resides, but to so raise the tone of public opinion as to encourage and enforce its exercise. It is ready, however, to aid in preventing, repressing, and rescuing through the instrumentality of local associations; and, if necessary, by direct appeals to the law as circumstances may dictate. It would also point out that any two ratepayers may insist upon proceedings being taken, and under provisions of the law expressly devised for that purpose, to prosecute to conviction at then expense of the locality in which the mischief exists. The suppression of houses of ill fame, and the restraint of street solicitation, properly fall within the province of town councillors, overseers of the poor &c. The police authorities come in to aid the local officers. Proceedings in the first instance ought to be taken by those who suffer inconvenience from the presence of persons and places devoted to immorality; and the overseers, municipal authorities, and police should be ready to respond most vigorously to the calls of the public, and ought themselves to search out and proceed against this vice. Prostitutes, brothel keepers, and owners of premises rented for their purposes are alike subject to prosecution. Hitherto there has not been any general effort for repression and prevention, and interference has been too often limited to the abatement of the nuisance, where it had become too open, by simply driving the perpetrators out of the district, rather than extended to such a punishment as may deter them from a repetition of the offence elsewhere. Thus, by leaving them to renew their misconduct in other localities, the authorities have incurred a tedious repetition of the process, oftentimes ending in the return of the offenders to their original haunts. Our desire on the present occasion is to gain your attention to the serious nature of the evil which prevails in our midst, and to express our hope that, in seeking election to positions of local power, you will bring this matter prominently to the notice of those whom you are preparing to represent, and in so doing receive their mandate that it shall not continue. The records of our courts of justice, the diaries of our clergymen and district visitors, the facts to which none can shut their eyes, all unite in testifying that immorality is so rife as to be eating out the nation's life, sapping the sources of our greatness, and provoking the indignation of that Power which may either preserve our prosperity or pronounce out destruction, according as we are found honouring the purity in which He delights, or practising the profligacy which He abhors.
We have the honour to be,
Central Vigilance Society for the Repression of Immorality,
16 York buildings,
The president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee has received a letter from the Home Secretary stating his inability to advise the Queen that the ends of justice would be promoted by the offer of a reward on the part of the Government for the discovery of the perpetrator of the recent murders at the East end. During the last few nights the streets of Whitechapel have been patrolled by a large number of civilians as by the police.
It has been found that the remains brought from Guildford to London in the belief that they belonged to the human trunk discovered last week at Whitehall are not human.
J.H. writes from Putney on 5th October: "This afternoon being fine, my wife, with a lady friend, went out to walk as far as the Windmill on the Common, when, on passing a clump of trees and bushes halfway between the latter and the large red brick house, she was pounced upon by a man lying there in concealment, who, seizing her from behind by the shoulder and skirt, tried to pull her to the ground. She got away from his grasp. He made the second attempt, but with the loud screaming and terror of the ladies took to his heels across the Common in the direction of Wimbledon. No help was near. Time, 2.45 p.m. Short man, rather thickset, about 40, close shaven, round felt hat, shabby greenish coat.
On Saturday morning the body of a woman was found floating in the Thames off Pimlico Pier. It was conveyed to the mortuary at Ebury Bridge, and had been identified as that of Mrs. Judson, living in Ebury street, Pimlico. She was seen on Friday night about the neighbourhood, but how she got in the water is unknown. The death was due to drowning.
The report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to the Home Secretary has been issued. It is for the year 1887, and its contents are of special interest at the present moment. It states that there was an increase of two superintendents and 168 inspectors over the numbers of the previous year, but a decrease of 89 constables. The number of police available for service in the metropolis is given as 12,460, which includes 26 superintendents, 766 inspectors, 1,174 sergeants, and 10,494 constables. An average of one fourteenth of the force is daily on leave. After deducting the casualties, there remained 8,773 police available for duty in the streets. Sixty per cent of this number is required for night duty, from six p.m. to six a.m. The Metropolitan Police are extended over a radius of 15 miles from Charing cross, embracing an area of 688 square miles. "It will be seem," the report goes on, "that there is a great need for a very considerable augmentation, and this has been so reported by the superintendents." The metropolis paid in rates for police during the year £727,351, and the Treasury contributed £575,141 to the Police Fund. The pay of the force was £1,096,277. Since 1849, when the authorised strength of the force was only 5,493, there have been built 500,852 new houses, while 3,463 are in course of erection, 1.833 miles of new streets have been added to the charge of the police, and the population has increased from 2,472,758 to 6,476,447. The Commissioner again points out that the rapid increase both of buildings and population of late years has outrun the increase which it has been possible to make to the police force. It will be interesting to a certain class of gentlemen to know that the policeman's truncheon is made of hard cocus wood. With regard to clubs, the Commissioner is of opinion that many of them are little better than unlicensed public houses, and thinks all clubs should be placed under supervision. The Commissioner refers to the "attempts" made by "unruly mobs" to riot in Trafalgar square, but the proceedings were "successfully coped with by the police." For these and other arduous services the special medals worn by the police were awarded. During the year 959 registered common lodging houses were under the control of the police, and these accommodated 31,351 lodgers. Of this large number only three keepers of registered houses were summoned and convicted for infringements of the Acts.
There are some interesting facts about locomotion in London in the Report of the Commissioner of Police for 1887. There is a rapid increase in all kinds of public vehicles, 1,524 new ones having been brought into use during the twelve months. This is the greatest number ever introduced in one year. Of these 934 were hansoms, all of an improved make, and 265 were clarences, or "four wheelers," many of which are among the best ever licensed. There were 13,966 public vehicles plying in the metropolitan area. Of these 1,783 were omnibuses, 937 tramway cars, 4,027 four wheel cabs, and 7,219 hansoms. The Commissioner says that tramway cars are pressing themselves into use, 69 additional cars having been licensed last year; and he adds that "the very general attempts to secure new routes, with the constant complaints of overcrowding, show them to be very acceptable to, and much patronised by, the general public." There is a very general improvement in the public vehicles, and the inspectors report that a commendable desire is springing up among builders of public vehicles to satisfy the public and act up to the regulations; but the Report adds, "Possibly the character of London for business rather than pleasure might account for the few vehicles of very high class or fanciful construction, and also for very much of the hesitancy to adopt designs formed for ease or indulgence."
Sir Charles Warren's reported determination to try what assistance bloodhounds may be able to afford the Police receives but cold encouragement from the statements of an expert in these matters who writes on the subject in the columns of The Field. The Cuban bloodhounds of the tyrant slave driver Legree, who play so terrible a part in "Uncle Tom's cabin," are still to be heard of in Mexican stories of hunting down criminals; but it is a suspicious circumstance that some Mexican planters who came to this country a few months ago purchased sundry English bloodhounds with a view to improve their own race of these animals, who were represented as sadly degenerating. It is still more significant that these Mexican visitors only knew their native bloodhound as useful in tracking a wounded stag or other big game, or occasionally tiring down the deer in a hunting run. the blood of the English hound can hardly be expected to do much to quicken his instincts, since the English bloodhound has, we are told, been treated for so many generations almost entirely as a fancy dog, that in a great measure the extraordinary powers of scent which undoubtedly once possessed have been lost for want of use. Had a trained hound been laid on the actual footsteps of the Whitechapel criminal immediately his deed was accomplished, this writer is of opinion that he might have run the murderer to bay. Twenty minutes to half an hour's grace to the murderer, on the other hand, would simply place the hound in the same humiliating position as that of our Metropolitan and City police. For generations past the bloodhound as a man hunter has not been required in this country. Two years ago at a dog show held at Warwick a novelty was introduced in the form of an experimental man hunt by bloodhounds. Several fine animals from the best kennels in the kingdom were entered, including Hector, believed to be at the present time the best in England on the human trail; but taken throughout their performances proved a failure. The statement that there are at the present time at least ten trained bloodhounds suited for the pursuit of criminals is stigmatised as thoroughly misleading. As some readers may recall the circumstance that a murderer at Blackburn a few years ago was reported to have been traced and arrested through the agency of a bloodhound, it may be as well to add that The Field writer assures us there was in this instance actually no tracking. The dog, which was no bloodhound at all, but only a cross bred mongrel, smelled out some clothes or something of that kind, which any ordinary terrier might have done.
POLICE PRECAUTIONS FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
POLICE PRECAUTIONS FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Much excitement prevailed in the Eastern districts of London both last night and on Saturday evening by the circulation of rumours that the police had received a number of letter intimating that the murderer intended to resume his terrible operations. The feeling was doubtless increased by the publication on Saturday afternoon of communications alleged to have been addressed by the apocryphal Jack the Ripper. As the hour named for the perpetration of other deeds passed the state of mind of residents in Whitechapel and neighbourhood became more composed, and the streets resumed their normal appearance. Extraordinary precautions had been adopted by the police to prevent or detect any repetition of the horrors of last week. Not only are members of then regular force displaying the utmost activity, but in their arduous labours they are receiving valuable aid from the volunteer police of the Vigilance Committee. Last night and on Saturday every nook and corner of the district was watched, and persons of at all suspicious appearance were tracked until reason for suspicion had been cleared away. The police and the men employed by the Vigilance Committee work very well together. As a proof of the thorough way in which they have respectively been carrying out their duties, it may be mentioned that in several instances some of the plain clothes men who were strange to the neighbourhood were watched by members of the Vigilance Committee, while they in their turn came under the scrutiny of the detectives. Despite the endeavours that are being made, however, the police as yet appear to be without any tangible or reliable clues as to the perpetrator of the recent murders. They have received so called descriptions of the murderer from a number of persons who think they have seen him, but they differ so much in detail that but little, if any, reliance can be placed upon them. It is satisfactory to be able to add that the activity of the police has not been confined to Whitechapel district, but that a sharp lookout is kept on other parts of the metropolis. Additional precautions have also been taken to watch the parks. The streets in the neighbourhood where the murders took place were unusually quiet by midnight on Saturday, and where any of the unfortunate class of women were seen they were in most cases walking in pairs. A large number of people yesterday visited the district, but the police had no difficulty in preserving order. Amongst the police the opinion is gaining ground that the murderer lives in the immediate vicinity of the spot where his crimes have been committed.
A letter from the Home Secretary has been received by the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, as under:-
"Whitehall, Oct. 6, 1888.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department has had the honour to lay before the Queen the petition signed by you, praying that a reward may be offered by the Government for the discovery of the perpetrator of the recent murders in Whitechapel, and he desires me to inform you that though he had given directions that no effort or expense should be spared in endeavouring to discover the person guilty of the murders, he has not been able to advise Her Majesty that in his belief the end of justice would be promoted by any departure from the direction already announced with regard to the proposal that a reward should be offered by the Government.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
E. Leigh Pemberton."
The Working Mens' Vigilance and Patrol Committee have been augmented by some thirty able bodied men well acquainted with the locality. These were selected by a special meeting of representative working men connected with the dock industries, who assembled at Bow common lane on Saturday night.
The following may be taken as samples of the many letters concerning which rumours were current on Saturday. Intimation was given to the City police on Saturday morning that Messrs. Bryant and May had received a letter from a person signing himself J. Ripper, couched in the following terms: "I hereby notify that I am going to pay your girls a visit. I hear that they are beginning to say what they will do with me. I am going to see what a few of them have in their stomachs, and I will take it out of them, so they can have no more to do on the quiet. (Signed) John Ripper. P.S. I am in Poplar today." The following postal telegram was received by the Metropolitan police at 11.55 p.m. Friday night. It was handed in at an office in the Eastern district at 8 p.m.:
"Charles Warren, head of the Police News, Central Office - Dear Boss, if you are willing enough to catch me I am now in the City road lodging, but number you will have to find out, and I mean to do another murder tonight in Whitechapel. Yours, Jack the Ripper."
A letter was also received at the Commercial street Police station by the first post on Saturday. It was addressed to the "Commercial street Police station," in blacklead pencil, and the contents, which were also written in pencil, were couched in ridiculous language, the police believing it to the work of a lunatic. It was signed Jack the Ripper, and said he was "going to work" in Whitechapel last night. He added that he was going to commit another murder in the Goswell road, and spoke of having "several bottles of blood underground in Epping Forest," and frequently referred to "Jack the Ripper under the ground."
With reference to the identity of Elizabeth Stride, the Woolwich newspapers of the time of the Princess Alice disaster have been referred to, and it is stated that a woman of that name was a witness at the inquest, and identified the body of a man as her husband, and of two children then lying in Woolwich Dockyard. She said she was on board and saw them drowned, her husband picking up one of the children, and being drowned with it in his arms. She was saved by climbing the funnel, where she was accidentally kicked in the mouth by a retired Arsenal police inspector, who was also clinging to the funnel. The husband and two children are buried in Woolwich Cemetery. The body of the deceased woman Kate Eddowes has been placed in a handsome polished coffin with oak mouldings. It has a block plate with gold letters with the following inscription: "Katherine Eddowes, died Sept. 30th, 1888, aged 43 years." The City authorities, to whom the cemetery at Ilford belongs, have arranged to remit the usual fees.
An extraordinary statement bearing upon the Whitechapel tragedies was made to the Cardiff police last night by a respectable looking elderly woman, who stated that she was a spiritualist, and in company with five other persons held a seance in Saturday night. They summoned the spirit of Elizabeth Stride, and after some delay the spirit came, and in answer to questions stated that her murderer was a middle aged man, whose name she mentioned, and who resided at a given number in Commercial road or street, Whitechapel, and who belonged to a gang of twelve.
Since Saturday there have been a dozen arrests, but after inquiries the "suspects" have been liberated.
On Saturday afternoon a single woman named Margaret Cooper, about 31 years of age, who lived in a house in Marlborough street, Newcastle, had her throat cut by a man, whose name is known to the police, and with whom she had previously cohabited. Screams were heard from the room occupied by the woman, and a neighbour saw a man jump out of the window. The man made off down the lane, walking at a quick pace. Mrs. Fordham, the neighbour, looked in at the open window and saw Margaret Cooper lying on the floor trying to raise herself by her hands, and moving slowly towards the door. Mrs. Fordham endeavoured to open the door, but failed, and a man who was near burst it open. Mrs. Fordham went in and found Cooper lying on the floor with blood running from a great wound in her throat. She gave the alarm, and Dr. Dixon, of Derwent place, which is close by the spot, and Superintendent Campbell and several other constables from the Westgate Police station, soon arrived at the place. The police found a knife lying on the floor besmeared with blood. On being asked a question or two by the police and the doctor, Cooper said the man had come into the house and wished to renew their acquaintance. She refused. His look alarmed her, and she ran towards the window to shout for assistance, when he attacked her. The injured woman was soon afterwards removed to the Royal Infirmary. The man was taken into custody about 8 o'clock last night. His name is Benjamin Dunnell. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary, and in his presence the sworn deposition of his victim was taken before Dr. Philipson J.P. The poor woman is in a critical condition.
An examination of the remains brought to London on Friday night from Guildford by Inspector Marshall was on Saturday made by Mr. Bond, the head surgeon at Westminster Hospital, and Dr. Hibbert, and it has been ascertained that they do hot belong to the trunk discovered in the vault at Whitehall. In fact the opinion of the medical men is that they are not human remains at all. In connection with the mystery the detective police are most assiduously investigating cases of missing young women, and their attention has been specially directed to the remarkable disappearance of a girl named Lilly Vass, between 17 and 18 years of age, who left her home, No 45 Tettcott road, Chelsea, on July 19 last, and has not been seen or heard of since. The police have obtained information which, it is thought, will lead ot the identification of the murdered woman, and possibly to the arrest of the perpetrator of the crime. The maker of the silk skirt in which the body was found has been discovered. He is the proprietor of a West end establishment. The police are working on this clue. The inquest on the remains will be held today.
In reference to the lighting of Commercial street, Whitechapel, I may say about two months ago I moved a resolution (which was passed by the Whitechapel District Board of Works) that it was desirable to improve the lighting of Commercial street. I may inform you that the matter is in the hands of the contractor, when in the course of a few days Commercial street for appearance and light will be second to none in the metropolis, and that, as far as regards minor streets, the lighting will compare favourably with any other district in the metropolis, as it would be utterly impossible to light all holes and corners.
79 High street, Whitechapel, Oct. 6.