THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1888
WORSHIP-STREET - A Disciple of "Buck's-row." - Henry Hummerston, 32, labourer, of Key-street, Hoxton, was charged, on remand from the previous day, with having assaulted and attempted to murder Eliza Smith. - The prosecutrix, a young woman, said she had been cohabiting with the prisoner for about two years. He had often assaulted her, and on this occasion he returned home the worse for drink, and, having a black eye, asked her who had done it. She told him she did not know, but supposed he had quarrelled with somebody when drunk. He began to abuse her, and said she had done it. He threw her down. She escaped from him and ran downstairs. He pursued her, and she fled into the back-yard, where he knocked her down and kicked her. Whilst she was down he threw himself upon her, and she saw that he had a knife in his hand, which he drew across her throat (the prosecutrix produced a table-knife with a large blade, and she showed the magistrate a slight cut passing half-way round her throat on the right side), and said that he meant making a second "Buck's-row murder" of it. She was rescued by the neighbours, who witnessed part of the assault. - After hearing the evidence, the magistrate dealt with the case as one of common assault. The prisoner was now sentenced to six months' hard labour.
At the present moment the nerves of the Metropolis are stirred and thrilled by the appalling Whitechapel murder; while in the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of the tragedy nervousness has been aggravated to the proportions of a panic. Nothing is easier under such circumstances than to preach superfine homilies about "morbid curiosity," "a diseased appetite for sensation," and the like. In "Barnaby Rudge" SIR JOHN CHESTER'S chief objection to a murder was that it led to such an uncomfortable amount of running up and down stairs; and the superfine censors of human nature, when it behaves as human nature has invariably done, seem desirous of emulating the equanimity of DICKENS'S typical coxcomb. The simply philosophy of the matter is, we apprehend, that humanity has a rooted aversion to having its throat cut by a midnight assassin, and that it is apt to remain in a perturbed condition of mind until the assassin has been brought to justice and hanged. As for the curiosity which never fails to be engendered by a crime of peculiar barbarity, the critics are, of course, justified in deprecating it as "morbid"; but the curiosity will not thereby be diminished one jot or tittle. People at the East-end are talking to-day about the more appalling features of the Whitechapel murder, just as their grandfathers and grandmothers eighty years ago eagerly canvassed the details of the "MARR and WILLIAMSON" murders; while those with retentive memories may be comparing notes regarding the strange similarity existing between the Whitechapel case and that of ELIZA GRIMWOOD, who about half a century ago was found in a house in the Waterloo-road under circumstances of closely analogous horror, her murderer never having been discovered. No class in the community is free from this "morbid curiosity." The assassination of Lord WILLIAM RUSSELL by COURVOISIER shook the equanimity of the West-end quite as violently as the crime of WAINWRIGHT startled the East; and there is little - on the face of it - of exaggeration in the story that SAMUEL FOOTE, the comedian, who was of the family of the notorious Captain GOODERE, who murdered his brother, made his entry, and with applause, into fashionable London society, as "the nephew of the gentlemen who was lately hung in chains for killing his uncle."
Whether the Whitechapel murder is destined to pass into the long and ghastly list of undiscovered crimes it would be perfectly useless to discuss, seeing that at any moment the hand of justice may clutch the criminal or criminals. As yet, also, it is clearly premature to speculate whether the foul deed has been wrought by a lunatic suffering from a recognised and hideous form of homicidal monomania - possible in the case of ELIZA GRIMWOOD, and incontrovertibly established in that of the "Monster" RENWICK WILLIAMS, whose intended victims, however, escaped with life - or whether the poor waif and stray of a woman in Whitechapel was done to death by a gang of fiendishly ferocious roughs. The police have ample scope and verge for action, and we would wish unhesitatingly to record our conviction that no stone is being left unturned, either in the administrative or the executive departments at Scotland-yard, and the Metropolitan Police districts generally, to bring home this dreadful crime to its perpetrators. At the same time, while it is but an act of common justice morally to strengthen the hands of the police by the assurance that the public have full confidence in their vigilance, energy, and intelligence, it behoves the authorities to be unrelaxing in their efforts to increase the efficiency of the protective force, and especially to develop the facility of communication between headquarters and the various metropolitan districts, even to the most outlying ones. We yesterday published a remarkably interesting and instructive article on "Police Alarms," in which it was pointed out that, in the matter of telegraphic communication, there are at present, out of upwards of two hundred stations attached to the twenty-three divisions, less than ten remaining in an isolated state; that those in connection are provided with simple alphabetical instruments, by means of which the divisional office may be placed in communication with any one of the stations in the district. Furthermore, it is now practicable for an inspector, say at Highgate, to telegraph information to Sutton, while the message can be read, in course of its transit, all along the route. Again, the police are, in some instances, enabled to wire to the nearest Fire Brigade station, but there still remain a number of localities where it is requisite that the constables and the Brigade should be informed separately of the outbreak of a conflagration. It has sometimes happened that the first intimation of such a casualty has been received by the police, who have been fain to despatch special messengers to the fire stations; but since the introduction of the street alarms the public have been able to warn the Fire Brigade without the occurrence of any such delay. An extensive development, however, of the system of police alarms seems to be urgently needed. Not only in London, but in all large English towns, it would be clearly expedient to place such alarms, constructed on the American principle, at every main street corner, and the apparatus should be in consonance with the latest scientific appliances. A telephone kept in unfailing working order would appear to be the best mode of rapid signalling; although it may prove to be a somewhat difficult task to prevent the apparatus from being abused by idle or mischievous persons. At all events, the system, it is stated, has been adopted in New York, and has given general satisfaction in the Empire City, since it not only permits the police on their rounds to communicate with the central station, but also enables the station to issue immediate and detailed instructions to its subordinates on the beats. Under these last circumstances, it would seem that the keys to the telephone boxes would be in the custody of the patrolling constables; but is there any reason why the respectable inhabitants of a street should not also be entrusted with keys, to be used in cases of urgent need? On the whole, anything that can conduce to the increase of rapid and intelligible communication with the guardians of the peace must be hailed as an important factor in the preservation of order and the prevention and detection of crime in a densely-populated city.