Friday, 12 October, 1888
The Whitechapel murderer is still at large at the time of writing, and there is a strong impression that the police will not lay their hands upon him unless the monster is caught in flagrante delicto. The man has committed his terrible crimes with almost fiendish skill, and in no single instance has the least trace of the murderer been left on the scene. So far as is publicly known the police have no definite idea of the kind of man they want. This cold-blooded butcher of defenceless human beings may be old or young, English or foreign, respectable or depraved in appearance, sane or insane - no one has seen him, and nobody knows. There may be a cruel FRANKENSTEIN or a brutal EDWARD HYDE wandering night by night in search of victims in the parlieus of Whitechapel - who can tell? Is it surprising, then, that the police, so far, have failed to track down the murderer? It seems to us that the blame which has been placed on the authorities, from the HOME SECRETARY downwards, has not been deserved. The murders have been made the vehicle for bitter and unscrupulous attacks on public servants, checking their energy and damaging their efficiency. This is one of the most regrettable facts in connection with the public calamity. The outrages were limited to one particular quarter, and to a class of women whose habits render it extremely difficult for the police to afford them ordinary protection. The persons and dwellings of decent citizens have been as safe as at any other time. The police of the metropolis have been increased in numbers and efficiency during the last two years, and London, as regards ordinary crime, compares most favourably with any foreign capital. Yet, because a single murderer, acting with peculiar cunning, and with extraordinary advantages, has not been instantly captured, an outcry has been raised for the dismissal of the HOME SECRETARY, the resignation of SIR CHARLES WARREN, and a change in the whole system of police management. So recently as Tuesday night last, an envenomed attack was made upon SIR CHARLES WARREN by Mr. ASQUITH, M.P., at Sheffield. The followers of Mr. GLADSTONE in the Press have not hesitated to denounce the failure to secure the criminal as the natural result of the ineptitude of a Tory government, and the reader is left in doubt as to whether they or the unknown murderer deserve the greatest punishment. All this is, perhaps, the outcome of the new method of politics which has been introduced by Mr. GLADSTONE at the bidding of his Parnellite allies. To hamper and attack the constabulary in Ireland in the discharge of their duties has become one of the recognised weapons of the Gladstonian armoury. It had a certain amount of success for a time, but has latterly become somewhat rusty and ineffective. If we are now to have it brought into use in England, whenever a social calamity like the Whitechapel murders occur, political warfare will, indeed, have reached its lowest level.
A somewhat uneasy feeling, nearly allied to fear, has taken possession of many weak-minded people in connection with the recent atrocities in the Metropolis. The idle rumour that the notorious "Jack the Ripper" would shortly visit Manchester and continue his ghastly work is exercising a baneful influence among females and young persons which ought to be dispelled. The name of the now notorious personage mingles in the daily talk of children, and, in the country districts especially, the presence of a strange tramp, let him be ever so harmless, is a matter for the gravest suspicion, if not alarm. The circulation of sensational matter like that of the lives of BURKE and HARE, CHARLES PEACE, and other scoundrels of the same stamp is responsible for a good deal of the feeling which has taken possession of these people. The notorious "JACK" has had a long lease in the busy Metropolis, but any maniacal acts committed outside London would hasten the end of his atrocious career.
There has been no fresh murder in Whitechapel for twelve days and perhaps no stronger evidence could be given of the depth and intensity of the feeling of alarm that prevails than the fact that there was a feeling of positive relief at finding that the Sunday papers did not contain a report of one or more assassinations. A re-appearance of the murderer was almost expected. Twice has he chosen the end of the first week of the month for his operations, and it is not unreasonable to think that his omission to do so on Saturday night was due to the precautions which the police and the inhabitants are taking together. They left no dark corner unwatched and the number of police on patrol was greatly increased. The fact is, the whole population of Whitechapel are turned into detectives, and it is difficult to conceive how, under such circumstances, the assassin can be harboured amongst a people whose every movement, in the street and in their houses, is subject to the closest scrutiny.
I cannot help the apprehension that now when he finds the preparations for his capture in Whitechapel so complete, and the attention of the authorities so concentrated upon it, he will turn his attention to other less guarded localities, and there recommence his horrid work. There seems no reason why he should not turn to other quarters for the truth is that in many other parts of London the facilities for such crime are as great as they are in Whitechapel. Meanwhile, I anticipate that Sir Charles Warren will seize the opportunity of demanding more police. It is well known that the Chief Commissioner has long felt the necessity of increasing the police force of the metropolis, and I believe a proposal to that effect will be made to Parliament on its reassembling, and with every prospect of success. It is to be hoped that in that case special regard will be had to the necessity for improving the detective force - for it is not to be denied that in that department we are lamentably weak.
ADJOURNED INQUEST, THE VERDICT.
The inquest on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the victim of the Mitre-square murder, was resumed this morning before Mr. Langham, the city coroner, at the mortuary in Golden-lane. Colonel Sir James Fraser and Chief Superintendent Foster represented the police, and Mr. Crawford, City Solicitor, watched the case on behalf of the City authorities. There was again a great amount of interest taken in the proceedings, and a considerable number of persons assembled outside the mortuary. - Dr. G. W. Sequeira, of Dewry-street [sic], Aldgate, deposed that he was the first medical man to reach the body in Mitre-square on the morning of the 30th ult. He entirely agreed with the evidence given on the last occasion by Dr. Gordon Brown, but supplemented it by stating in answer to Mr. Crawford, that though the body was lying in the darkest corner of the square, the lamps would give light enough to enable the murderer to inflict the injuries. He did not regard it as probable that the murderer had designs on any particular organ, and did not consider that he performed the mutilations with any anatomical skill. Life could not have been extinct for more than a quarter of an hour when he first saw the corpse. The person who committed the deed need not necessarily have been bespotted with blood. - Dr. Sedgwick Saunders, city analyst, stated that he made a careful examination of the deceased woman’s stomach, without, however, finding any trace of narcotic or other poisons. He supported the other doctors in the theory that anatomical skill was not shown by the murderer. - Annie Phillips, wife of a lamp black packer, living at 12, Dilston-park, Southwark Park-road, stated that she was the daughter of the deceased by Thomas Conway, to whom, her mother had always told her, she was married. He and her mother used to get on badly together because the latter used to drink, whereas he was a teetotaler. It was seven or eight years since Conway left her mother, whom she herself had not met for over two years. - Dr. Brown at this point took occasion to add to his previous evidence a refutation of the suggestion that the body had been conveyed to Mitre-square after the murder. - Evidence was then taken showing the movements of the murdered woman on the night of the 29th. At half-past eight P.C. Robinson saw her lying very drunk on the pavement in Aldgate High-street, and someone in the crowd which had gathered knew her. As she was unable to stand he took her to Bishopsgate-street station. She was wearing an apron, now identified as that subsequently picked up marked with bloodstains near the body. Deceased was locked up till one o’clock, when, as she had got sober, she was discharged on giving her name and address. These, she said, were Mary Ann Kelly, of 6, Fashion-street. On leaving the station she was seen by the gaoler to turn towards Houndsditch, which would lead her in the direction of Mitre-square. Before going, however, she remarked on learning the time, that she would get a "fine hiding" when she got home. - Joseph Lewindale [sic] stated that as he and some friends were leaving the Imperial Club, Duke-street, about half-past one, they saw a man and a woman talking together in Church Passage. He did not see the woman’s face, but deceased’s clothes looked like those she was wearing. The man had on a peaked cloth cap. - Mr. Crawford, interposing, asked that unless the jury particularly wished it, the man’s appearance should not be further described. - The jury agreed, and witness only added that he doubted whether he should recognise the man again. - Police-constable Alfred Lock [sic] proved the finding of the blood-stained apron in Goulston-street just before three o’clock on Sunday morning, and stated that on the wall just above the place where it was discovered were written in chalk the words, "The Jews are the men, and will not be blamed for nothing." He had previously passed the spot at 2:20, when the apron was not there. After searching the neighbourhood he reported the matter at Commercial-street. - Mr. Burrows: Was not this the sentence: "The Jews are not the men and will be blamed for nothing?" Witness replied that he thought he had copied the writing verbatim, but admitted that the first copy was in his pocket book, which he had not got with him. He would not swear that the word "Jews" was not written "Juess." At the request of the jury, the constable went for his pocket book. During his absence, Detective-Inspector Halse, one of the city police, proved that when the writing on the wall was reported to him he sent off an officer to make arrangements for having it photographed. Definite directions to this effect were given, but before a photographer could arrive, the Metropolitan Police Authorities, fearing that the words might lead to an outbreak against the Jews, had rubbed them out. - Mr. Burrows: Did no one suggest that it would be possible to rub out the word "Jews" only? - Witness: I suggested that the top line alone need be rubbed out, and the rest photographed. The words seemed to have been recently written in white chalk on the bricks, and were:- "The Juees (sic) are not the men that would be blamed for nothing." - The Foreman: Why did you allow the metropolitan police to rub the writing off? - Mr. Crawford: Did you not protest against its being rubbed out? - Witness: I did. - By the jury: The writing was like a schoolboy’s writing. Good round hand. - A juror regarded it as singular that the police did not make further inquiries at the lodging-house in the passage of which the apron was found - Mr. Crawford replied that a most vigilant search was made as soon as the matter came to the knowledge of the city police, but that, unfortunately, the apron was found by a member of the metropolitan force, and that some delay occurred. - Lock, on his return, adhered to his former reading of the sentence. - Mr. Crawford intimated that he could not carry the case any further, and the Coroner having briefly summed up, the jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."
The Central News says the Scotland Yard authorities, having satisfied themselves that the man arrested at Eltham could have had nothing to do with the Whitechapel murders, he will be set at liberty in due course. No arrests have been made to-day within the metropolitan district, and no persons are now in custody in connection with the East End atrocities. Public attention is at present absorbed with the revelations made at the inquest on the Mitre-square victim, which has caused a profound sensation in the East End of London.