13 October 1888
From an article entitled "Young London at School"
In the east end things are different. In suburban semi rural Dulwich land is comparatively cheap, and Young London may have playground space wherein to breathe fresh air and release his surplus energies. But in the Tower Hamlets and Hackney and Finsbury, and the other regions where the population is densely packed, land is dear, and often the schoolchildren must seek for air and light skywards - on the flat school roofs, over the level of the far stretching, stifling, sad looking expanse of red tiles. From the roof playground of the school in Buck's row Young London's future wife may drop a biscuit (when she has any to spare) upon the scene of Ann Nicholl's murder. Young London might do it, but the roof is reserved for the girls. Into looking into this matter of skyscraper playgrounds we find that there are over forty of them - more than one school in ten forced to find breathing room by that ingenious device. An unpleasantly suggestive fact, that. The larger proportion of them are in regions - like the Tower Hamlets - where the pressure of the population has reached the stage of explosive heat. Let is look around us, from this one which rises high over Buck's row. A sunlike flicker through the haze indicates the Crystal Palace, eleven miles off. The Alexandra Palace is seen some six miles distant, in the opposite direction, and between and beneath lies this grim East end. Yet this grim region, with its hungry, shabby interspaces, is pre-eminently the region of schools - the largest school in London is only ten minutes' walk off - the region also of University missions, and the cared of People's Palaces; and the region of Warren warnings. They are stuck up - these warnings - along the Whitechapel road, whereon Young London looks down from his playground on the school roof. "I, Sir Charles Warren," rightly announces that he has reason to believe that meetings in Trafalgar square and the streets leading thereto are likely to "create riot and obstruction," therefore, &c. This strange jumble of model schools (and model dwellings) and Toynbee Halls, and people's palaces, and rancid slums; of comfort (for there is much of it) and stark want; of the myriad voices of children swept into the schools, and the sound of adult discontent, and the classical concerts at a penny per ticket, and Scotland yard's stiff warning - as if one smelt revolution - all this may well make men pause and reflect, and wonder what it will be like a generation hence, when Young London, grown up, will turn the daylight of his educated intelligence upon the problems of the struggle for existence.
The lapse of time diminishes the prospect of the discovery of the Whitechapel murderer. No attempt is made by the police themselves to disguise the fact that arrest upon arrest, each equally fruitless, has produced in the official minds a feeling almost of despair. A corps of detectives left Leman street yesterday morning, and the officer, under whose direction they are pursuing their investigations, had in their possession quite a bulky packet of papers all relating to information supplied to the police, and all, as the detective remarked, "amounting to nothing." "The difficulty of our work," he said, "is much greater then the general public are aware of. In the first place there are hundreds of men about the streets answering the vague description of the man who is 'wanted' and we cannot arrest everybody. The reward for the apprehension of the murderer has had one effect - it has inundated us with descriptions of persons into whose movements we are expected to inquire for the sole reason that they have of late been noticed to keep rather irregular hours and to take their meals alone. Some of these cases we have sent men to investigate, and the persons who it has proved have been unjustly suspected have been very indignant, and naturally so. The public would be exceedingly surprised if they were made aware of some of the extraordinary suggestions received by the police from outsiders. Why, in one case, the officer laughingly remarked, it was seriously put to us that we should carefully watch the policeman who happened to be on the particular beat within the radius of which either of the bodies was found. The amount of work done by the detectives through this series of crime has been, he added, enormous. We do not expect that the batch of inquiries to be undertaken today will lead to any more satisfactory result than those of previous days." It is probable that the tragic fate of the woman who had been locked up for drunkenness and was discharged from Bishopsgate will result in a new regulation for such cases. Members of the detective force consider that one o'clock a.m. is a very improper hour to turn a half sober woman from a police cell into the street, and that she ought to be kept in custody until six or seven o'clock in the morning, at which time there would be a better chance of her getting home unmolested.
Yesterday morning Police Sergeant Gibbery, 13 G, had his attention called to the Duke of York public house, Clerkenwell road, by one of the barmen, who informed him that a pensioner from the Hussars, named Conway, had entered that house, and wished him to sign some papers to Captain Milne, with respect to his having lost his pension papers. It having transpired at the inquest that the police were searching for a pensioner named Conway, who had formerly lived with Catherine Eddowes, who was murdered in Mitre square, the barman thought this might be the man wanted. The sergeant at once went to the public house and took the pensioner to the King's Cross road police station, whence, after being questioned, he was removed to Bishopsgate street police station, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the City police authorities could obtain any information as to his identity. He was afterwards taken to Old Jewry, but as it was found that he was much younger than Eddowes' husband must have been the police did not think it necessary to send for Mrs. Phillips, the murdered woman's sister (sic), to see him, so the man went away. The police force was still further augmented last night, and foreign detectives, it is stated, are on the spot. A house to house visitation has been commenced in the district. The streets of Whitechapel have once more resumed their normal appearance.
The police authorities attach a great deal of importance to the spelling of the word Jews in the writing on the wall at the spot where the Mitre square murderer threw away a portion of the murdered woman's apron. The language of the Jews in the East end is a hybrid dialect known as Yiddish, and their mode of spelling the word Jews would be Juwes. This the police consider a strong indication that the crime was committed by one of the numerous foreigners by whom the East end is infested.
At the Belfast police court, yesterday, John Foster, a man who had been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murder, was brought up. Constable Carland deposed - From information I received I proceeded to No 11 Memel street. The prisoner was not there when I went first. I went back about half an hour afterwards, when I found the prisoner in, and I went upstairs to the room occupied by the prisoner, and rapped at the door. The prisoner said, "Come in." I went in, and found the prisoner in bed. I asked him his name, where he had come from, and how long he had been in Belfast. He gave the name of William John Foster, and said he had no fixed address. He arrived in town on Sunday from Greenock, where he had spent two days, but he could not say where he had stopped. Previous to that he was in Glasgow for four days, and before that in Edinburgh. He did not know how long he was there, nor did he know anyone living there. I found a clasp knife (produced) in his coat, a purse containing £19 4s five and a half pence, and the chisel and handle (produced) were lying on a table in the bedroom. These, when separated, fitted into the bag (produced). In the bag I found three razors, a table knife, a small knife and a number of watchmaking appliances. He said that he was watchmaker, but that he did nothing at the trade, as he had an income of his own, which he got from his father, who lived in London. He said his father was a brewer, but could not give the address. I found the silver watch and chain and locket (produced) in his pockets. He said the watch was his own. It bears the monogram "A.M.R." (The watch and chain were then handed to the bench for examination.) Witness (continuing): There was a piece of broken necklet in his coat pocket. I got the keys (produced). The watch is a lever without the maker's name. I examined the clothes of the prisoner, and found he was wearing boots similar to those worn by military men. The prisoner was remanded for a week.
The Parish of St. Luke, like some other places, has just now its little quarrel with Sir Charles Warren, the particulars of which are set forth in its annual report just published. It appears that the frequency with which street robberies have recently occurred in the parish, and the daring nature of the outrages committed, induced the Vestry at last to communicate with the Commissioner of Police upon the matter. The reply was to the effect that the Police "had taken all reasonable steps, and that there was nothing to justify any supposition that they were unable to deal with the crime of the locality." At the very meeting at which the letter was read, however, further cases of robbery with violence were reported, which were communicated to the Commissioner with an intimation of the Vestry's opinion that a larger number of constables was required in the parish. The Commissioner's reply to this was that further inquiries "confirmed the views already expressed by him." Hereupon it was determined by the Vestry to communicate particulars of the various complaints and occurrences to the Home Secretary, suggesting that an inquiry of an independent character should be made into the occurrences complained of. The matter having thus been carried by way of appeal from Sir Charles Warren to Mr. Matthews, "the rest," as Hamlet says, "is silence." So at least it is as regards the parish report.
It seems that a very great deal of unnecessary fuss is being made about the rubbing out of the "writing on the wall" in Whitechapel. It seems to be generally assumed that of the writing had been photographed the police would have been put in possession of a trustworthy means of identifying the "hand" of the murderer. Now, if any one will take the trouble to write a similar sentence upon a surface of the same kind, he will be astonished at the difference between his production and his ordinary writing. There are very few people who can write easily and freely upon a black board until they have had considerable practice, and writing upon a less regular surface is more difficult still. At first the letters are much more irregular and much more cramped than in ordinary writing, and the likeness between writing with a pen or pencil and the larger characters traced in chalk only comes out unmistakeably after long practice. I have indeed known men who wrote entirely different hands under the different circumstances, so that a knowledge of the true handwriting would by no means have been the necessary consequence of preserving a sentence written under the Whitechapel conditions. Of course the writer may have been an experienced hand at black board demonstrations, but the supposition is not likely. It seems therefore that is this writing had been preserved it might very possibly have thrown the pursuers off the scent instead of proving the invaluable clue that some suppose.
I am, &c.,
A Writer With Chalk.
Mary Hawkes, 18, and James Fordham, 21, the latter with several aliases, were charged on remand before Mr. Montagu Williams with having been concerned with others not in custody in assaulting Carl Edwin Newman, and robbing him of a pair of trousers and a sum of £4. Mr. Phillips appeared to defend Fordham. The prosecutor, a Scandinavian, who described himself as a student, met, while intoxicated, a woman with whom he went to Flower and Dean street, Spitalfields, and was taken by her into a common lodging house, where he paid 8d for a bed, and was shown to a room, where he found fault with the accommodation. He was left by the woman, and almost immediately afterwards was attacked by four or five men, who burst into the room and seized him, throwing him on the bed and rifling his pockets of a purse containing £4 in gold, as well as stealing his trousers. It happened that two police constables had been informed of the fact of the man being taken to the house by women, and the officers, remaining near the spot, heard the prosecutor's cries, and entered the place just as he was thrown down the stairs. Margaret Brown, a young woman, now deposed that she acted as "deputy" of the house in question, No 34 Flower and Dean street, erroneously stated last time by the witnesses to be 35. The house was owned by a Mr. Coates, who kept a chandler's shop in Dorset street, and live in Whitecross street. Replying to the magistrates, the witness said there were 19 "double" beds and seven "singles" in the place. She remembered letting in the female prisoner and a man - a foreigner - the latter paying 8d for the double bed. The witness also knew the prisoner Fordham, whom she let in at a quarter to one o'clock, or about ten minutes after the woman and the foreigner. She had known him before, he having slept there about once a week for some time past. She did not know the other four men who attacked the prosecutor. She had heard the prosecutor calling out, and went up when the prosecutor said the woman had robbed him. That was after the police were in the house. The witness went up with the police. She had sole charge of the place, and was paid 6s a week. Police constable Dennis, 57 H, said that the "single" beds were undivided, and stood in rows in a large room, the "double" beds being in small rooms made by partitions. The partitions did not touch the floor or the ceiling, a space of about 18in being left top and bottom. A person might pass from one room to another by "a good squeeze." Previous convictions were then proved against both prisoners. The man had been several times sentenced for felony, and the woman twice for cutting and wounding, her latest sentence being twelve months. Police sergeant 32 H said he had, with an inspector, to inspect the registered lodging houses in the district. They were 127 in number - common lodging houses, accommodating about 6,000 persons. They were all visited about once a week on an average. The house, 34 Flower and Dean street, had hitherto been a well conducted house. Of course it was frequented by thieves and unfortunate women. The witness doubted if a single registered lodging house would be found without such characters among the lodgers. The magistrate, having stated that he should send the case for trial, Mr. Phillips said Fordham would reserve his defence. The prosecutor was not in attendance, and it was said he was about to sail for America. Mr. Williams remarked that he should risk the prosecutor being in attendance at the trial. If he was not, the judge would probably deal with the matter. He directed that the proceedings at the lodging house in question should be reported at Scotland yard. The prisoners were then committed to the sessions.