WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 1888
TO THE EDITOR OF "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH."
SIR - I have read with considerable interest the letter of a "Ratepayer" under the above heading, and feel thankful that the subject of the housing of our London poor has been brought forward in so powerful a way in your columns. I can only hope the matter will not be allowed to rest here, but that some action will follow, for, indeed, some of us are weary of delay. Five years since I sent a memorial to the District Board of Works touching the "Pearl-street area" referred to by your correspondent, and which forms part of this parish, by way of following up a previous effort to get rid of so foul a spot. But in spite of these attempts and of repeated condemnation on the part of the authorities it exists to-day in all its terrible reality and abounding sin. A large number of so-called "Furnished Rooms" are here let out at 10d a day, introducing into our midst a terrible class, to the annoyance of many who, though poor, desire to be respectable. The sanitary arrangements of the place could not well be worse, no wonder, therefore, that the infant mortality is so great. Some years since a late medical officer of health in the Whitechapel district directed the attention of the Board of Works to the death-rate of this particular area. I quote the following from his report, "In the area known as the Great Pearl-street property, comprising 8,650 square yards, the courts and alleys are of a very unhealthy nature, and here the death-rate per annum is 33 3-10ths per 1,000, while for the whole district the death-rate was only 26 4-10ths per 1,000. The latter rate is serious enough, as will be perceived from the fact that there are parishes in London where the death-rate is only 16 or 17 per 1,000." A medical officer of the Whitechapel Union wrote, as far back as July, 1877: "I think I can assert most positively that diseases of a low type, and especially scrofula and mesenteric disease among children, prevail, and always have prevailed, to a larger extent than in any other part of my medical district in Great and Little Pearl-street."
As a plague spot, therefore, apart from any other consideration, this area should be dealt with. But I venture to hope, for the sake of those who cannot help themselves in the matter, some better house accommodation will here soon be found. That it would be remunerative there can be no question. The poor need to live near their work, and for this end they put up with much inconvenience, but they would gladly exchange their present abodes for more comfortable quarters, especially if these could be had at a less exorbitant rent than that they have now to pay. As public attention has again been called to the state of things in this parish, I cannot but express the hope that something may soon be done to help our present distressed condition. - Yours, &c.
St. Stephen's Vicarage, Sept. 25.
SIR - The lurid light which recent events have cast on the inner life of the great London "residuum" should not be allowed to die down without some good coming, if possible, out of the filthy exposures. We are, probably, all agreed that the very first step necessary to be taken, if we would try to raise some of our humbler fellow-creatures to the level of humanity, is to render it possible for them to live above the level of the brutes. It will be generally admitted, too, that one of the earliest requirements of civilisation, in its most unfledged condition, is a certain degree of privacy in sleeping arrangements. Without this the most elementary decency is out of the question. For its own sake, to put the matter on no higher ground, Society is bound to do its best to place this modicum of respectability within the reach of all, since the degradation bred of hopeless bestiality is a perpetual peril to the State, both physically, socially, and politically. From this point of view, then, since it is of pressing importance to bring as many waifs and strays as possible within the reach of humanising influences, it seems desirable not to aim at too great things at first, but to be content with endeavouring to provide, at a practicable rent, and for all comers (no questions being asked as to how the money is earned which pays for the nightly "doss"), sleeping accommodation such as they have been used to in the common lodging-houses, but differing from it toto culo in the fact of each sleeper having a separate compartment, closed by a door locking inside, but openable by a master-key, like the separate chambers at public baths. Very little more space would be required for this arrangement, since the compartments would be open at the top, the partitions (of double match-boarding) being about 8 ft. or 9 ft. high. If desired, the spaces might be roofed over with galvanised wire-netting, to prevent intercommunication. Such an "aviary" would not be very costly to construct, and its superior comfort, as compared with the common dormitory of the lodging-house, might be trusted to attract customers. Moreover, were a "model lodging" started on these lines and proved workable public opinion would not long tolerate the continuance of the present unsatisfactory system, and the existing places would have to be remodelled, with the best results to public decency. - I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
10˝, Ironmonger-lane, E.C., Sept. 25.
A correspondent telegraphed last night: "A man answering in almost every particular the description of the person the police want in connection with the Gateshead murder was seen at Byer's-green Colliery about seven o'clock on Sunday morning by Mr. Robert Lodge, foreman coke-burner. The man was in a cabin near the coke-ovens, and when first observed was in a sitting posture, either whetting or cleaning a large knife on the leather of his boot. The stranger inquired the time and disappeared suddenly. Mr. Lodge speaks positively as to the description of the man. The distance from the scene of the murder to Byer's-green is about fourteen miles. Many persons cling to the belief that the crime has a connection with the Whitechapel butcheries. The murderer of Jane Savage does not appear, however, to have done his terrible work in so skilful a manner as the Whitechapel criminal, but rather to have hacked at the body with more brute force. Nevertheless, there is the similarity that the bodies in both cases were frightfully mutilated. Some of the pit shafts in the neighbourhood of Birtley are of great depth, and can only be explored with difficulty."
CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT - SEPT. 25
(Before Mr. Justice CHARLES.)
THE CHARGE AGAINST A MEDICAL MAN. - The trial was resumed of James Gloster, a duly qualified medical practitioner, residing at Upper Phillimore-place, Kensington, on a charge of having caused the death of a married woman named Eliza Jane Schumacher, who lived apart from her husband, in Moreton-place, Pimlico, and worked as a dressmaker. - Mr. Poland and Mr. Mead prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury; and the accused was defended by Mr. Gill and Mr. Horace Avory. - The previous day's evidence showed that the deceased, erroneously believing she was enceinte, had an unlawful operation performed on June 18 last, and died from the effects of it on the 27th of the same month. So clumsily had the operation been performed that the prosecution admitted it was difficult to imagine that it could have been done by a medical man with the skill Dr. Gloster undoubtedly possessed. The doctor himself emphatically denied the charge. Mrs. Schumacher had called at his house more than once, and asked him to give her something to get her out of her trouble, but he indignantly declined, and ordered her not to return. He had attended her during some illness several years ago. On June 17, the day before that on which the prosecution alleged the act was performed, he received a telegram from Moreton-place, asking him to call, and he did so, but did not treat Mrs. Schumacher. The main evidence on which the prosecution relied was a statement made by the deceased on the day on which she died, written down by Dr. Crane in the presence of Dr. Frankish and the deceased's sister, and signed by the deceased's own hand. There arose the question whether this statement could be admitted as evidence, that is to say, whether, when the woman made it, she was in "the settled and hopeless expectation of death." During her illness she had given her sister instructions about the disposal of her property in case she did not get better, and it was stated that she had also expressed on several occasions her belief that she would not get well again. - Mr. Poland submitted that under these circumstances the statement was admissible as evidence. - Mr. Gill objected, maintaining that the admission of such a statement was against the rules of evidence, which in a case like this ought, in the words of Mr. Justice Byles, to be applied not only scrupulously, but with almost superstitious care. When Mrs. Schumacher made it she was not in articulo mortis, neither was she warned that what she was going to say would be used as evidence. There were cases where women had made false charges against doctors, and, under all the circumstances, he submitted that the statement could not be admitted. - Mr. Justice Charles, in giving his decision, said: The law casts upon me the very heavy responsibility of saying whether the dying declaration, as it is called, of this deceased person is or is not admissible in evidence. The result of the decisions as to the admissibility of dying depositions comes to this; there must be an unqualified belief in the nearness of death - there must be a belief without hope that the declarant is about to die. In one case it was laid down that "all hope of this world must be gone"; and in another Mr. Justice Willes held that it must be proved that the declarant was dying, and that there must be a "settled and hopeless expectation of death." In the last case of all Mr. Justice Lush went even further, holding that there must be expectation of "immediate" death, adding, "if the declarant thinks he will die to-morrow, it will not do." With great deference to the learned judge whom I have just referred to, I would rather prefer to adopt the language of Mr. Justice Willes, and say that the declarant must be under the "settled and hopeless expectation of death" - immediate death in this sense that death is impending, not on the instant, but within a very short distance indeed. These are the principles which must guide me in the exercise of my judgement in this case. The admission of dying declarations at all is a great anomaly, and they ought only to be admitted, to use the language of Mr. Justice Byles, "with scrupulous and almost superstitious care." And for this reason. The accused is not present when it is made, there is no opportunity for cross-examination, and it is not made under the sanction of an oath. In the present case can I come to the conclusion that when this statement was made the woman was under a "settled and hopeless expectation of death?" After looking at all the facts carefully I find I cannot come to any such conclusion. She thought she might not recover, but she did not give herself entirely up for good, and unless I could come to the conclusion - which I cannot - that she did so give herself entirely up, her statement is not admissible. The conversations she had with her sister were simply those of a woman in dreadful illness, and her injunctions as to the disposal of her effects were such as would be given in case death should take place. I therefore hold that this statement cannot be admitted as evidence. - Mr. Poland then stated that after the ruling of his lordship it would be hopeless on the part of the prosecution to go on with any prospect of success, and he would therefore not proceed further with the case. - Mr. Gill said that Dr. Gloster was most anxious that the accusation should be investigated to the very foundation, in order that he might show his innocence of the charge brought against him, and he had a mass of evidence to prove that Dr. Gloster was not in Moreton-place at all on June 18, the day on which the prosecution alleged that the operation was performed. - The jury then returned a verdict of acquittal, and Dr. Gloster was discharged.
THAMES. - THE KNIFE IN WHITECHAPEL. - Charles Ludwig, 40, a decently-attired German, who professed not to understand English, and gave an address in the Minories, was brought up on remand, charged with being drunk and threatening to stab Alexander Finlay, of 51, Leman-street, Whitechapel. - The evidence of prosecutor showed that at three o'clock on the morning of Tuesday week he was standing at a coffee-stall in the Whitechapel-road, when Ludwig came up in a state of intoxication. The person in charge of the stall refused to serve him. Ludwig turned upon witness, and, pulling out a long-bladed knife, threatened to stab him with it. A constable came up, and the man was then given into custody. - Constable 221H deposed that he arrested the accused. On the way to the station prisoner dropped a long-bladed knife, which was open, and when he was searched a razor and a long-bladed pair of scissors were found on him. - Constable John Johnson, 868 of the City Police, deposed that early on the morning of Tuesday week he was on duty in the Minories, when he heard loud screams of "Murder" proceeding from a dark court. The court in question leads to some railway arches, and is well known as a dangerous locality. Witness went down the court and found the prisoner with a woman. The accused appeared to be under the influence of drink. Witness asked what he was doing there, and he replied "Nothing." The female, who appeared to be very agitated and frightened, said, "Oh, policeman, do take me out of this." She was so frightened that she could give no further explanation. Witness got her and the accused out of the court, and, having sent the latter off, walked with the woman to the end of his beat, when she said, "Dear me! he frightened me very much when he pulled a big knife out." Witness asked her, "Why didn't you tell me that at the time?" and she replied, "I was too much frightened." He then went to look for the prisoner, but could not find him, and therefore warned several other constables. On the last occasion witness was unable to procure the attendance of the woman. - On the application of Detective-Inspector Abberline, of Scotland-yard, Mr. Saunders again remanded the accused for full inquiries to be made. He also allowed Inspector Abberline to interview Ludwig with the interpreter, Mr. Smaje, to ascertain if he would give any information as to where he was on certain dates. - The woman Ludwig was alleged to have attempted to stab has been found. She is well known to the police. -
Adam Sherrif, 39, was charged with being drunk and threatening to stab Margaret Welsh. - Prosecutrix was unable to attend owing to the state of her health. - Jane Charles, twelve years of age, living at 82, Lambeth-street, Whitechapel, said that on Monday afternoon prisoner, who lived in the same house, came home and had a row with his wife. Afterwards, in a public-house, he went to hit his wife with a glass and a pot. Mrs. Welsh was there, and the accused, who was drunk, drew a knife to her. He called her names and said, "I'll cut you with this knife." - Constable 355H deposed that when he arrested Sherrif he said, "If I get six months I'll rip her up when I come out." He made an attempt to get at her when witness had hold of him. - Mr. Saunders remanded the accused.
James Gloster, a medical practitioner, was again put on his trial at the Central Criminal Court yesterday, on the charge of causing the death of Eliza Jane Schumacher, a married woman living apart from her husband, by performing an unlawful operation. The prosecution mainly relied on a statement made by the woman before she died, and the question was raised whether she was at that time in "the settled and hopeless expectation of death." The learned judge came to the conclusion that she was not, and that the statement could not be admitted as evidence. Counsel for the prosecution thereupon decided not to proceed further, and, it having been intimated that there was ample evidence to establish the absolute innocence of the accused, the jury returned a verdict of acquittal.