20 October 1888
CORRUPTORS AT LARGE.
In treating of "Blood Books," I observe that a certain superintendent's estimate of the proportion of young offenders and vagrants created not by poverty, but by the "romance of crime", seemed astonishingly large. However, I quoted the estimate just as it was given to me by an expert. Since then I have consulted two other experts. One of them considers the estimate too high; the other is disposed to accept it as not at all exaggerated. The former of the two is one of the inspectors at Scotland-yard. This gentleman - who had read the article in The Echo - has, however, no doubt whatever that an enormous proportion of juvenile vagrancy and crime is solely and entirely due to the dissemination of the villainous rubbish to which its willing victims have given the appropriate title of "Blood Books." But Scotland-yard has no power to stop the evil. Scotland-yard can promptly punish the vendors and publishers of "obscene" books and prints, but its definition of obscenity and if immorality is too narrow to cover the class of publications with which I am more immediately concerned.
Here the Secretary of the Harpur Society - the second of the two experts referred to above - quite agreed with me. "Can you not do something yourselves?" I asked. No; the Society could not. The Harpur-street Society will for the present confine itself to the prosecution of those who corporeally illuse the young; the prosecution of moral ill-usage may come afterwards. But I have learnt that other societies - or, at any rate, the most active members among them - are seriously thinking of adopting the course recommended in The Echo - the prosecution of those who disseminate the poisonous rubbish aforesaid. "Not for the first time," ays one of these gentlemen, "have juvenile criminals been found with a copy of @Jack Sheppard' in their pockets." The Young Men's Christian Association will, very probably, through its Secretary, take earl measures to suppress this evil of obscene and immoral publications. Others, connected with the National Vigilance Association, and the Central Vigilance Committee, have a like movement in contemplation.
You may be sure Government won't move to the matter, unless the public does - or so some charitable organisations fairly representative of the public. Certain police Magistrates, and other administrative officials, might grumble at fresh additions to their work, and at what they might regard as the fussy intervention of mere lay folk. But the analogous instances of the Harpur-street Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children shows that any inconvenience from this source would soon disappear. When the Harpur-street Society began its operations, most of the London police Magistrates gave it the cold shoulder. However brutally, maltreated a child might be by its parents, the ordinary Police Magistrate would justify his refusal to interfere, on the ground that parental "right" and parental responsibility were not to be tampered with. Of course, they were not. However, these Magistrates have - as the Secretary declares - become the cordial co-operators of the Harpur-street Society. Similarly, should the Societies which I have named, or any others of their class, take up their parable against this other species of cruelty to the young - cruelty to their mind and morals - they will in process of time find Rhadamanthus quite ready to sympathise with them and to back them up.
Germany and America are still ahead of us in this matter. The moral and respectable British citizen ought to know that publications of the kind which is here denounced - publications that fill young Arabs, and even youths above the Arab level, with the romance of crime; as also a certain class of translations from the French - are not permitted to cross the German frontier. At the German frontier, they would be confiscated as promptly as Sir Morell Mackensie's book.
In America, again, the Children's Protection Societies having made one new "departure", are contemplating a second. They are endeavouring to get a law passed for the regulation of child labour at places of entertainment; and they in view an agitation for the suppression of immoral juvenile "literature." It looks - as I have already shown - as if some organisations in this country mean to follow the American example. It was America that the "idea" of the Harpur-street Society, as it now exists, was borrowed.
Putting aside the prospective work of Society, let me say a word or two about its actual work. A new branch of the Society will be opened at Sheffield on the 25th of the present month, and one at York on the 1st of November. It is also proposed that Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees, and Darlington will unite to form a branch, or that each of them will affiliate itself, for the purpose to one of the larger towns. Since the time when, about a year ago, I described its origin and progress, the Society has established branches in the following towns:- Ipswich, Hastings, Scarborough, Bristol, Chester, Newcastle, Leeds, Gateshead, Middlesbrough, Bradford, Preston, Burnley, Birmingham. Previously, there were branches at Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and two or three other towns. The Birmingham branch is one of the newest; and it is very active. It should be understood that even in the provinces all the prosecutions are conducted by the London Office. When I called there yesterday, the seven children lately rescued from the bay-farmer at Swindon were under the matron's care, and doing well.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ECHO
SIR, - Every right-minded person must with you deplore the circulation of cheap books, which teach boys to admire brigands and murderers, equally with obscene books; but "how to check them" is a most difficult question. I believe, to define by a public law what books are prohibited is impossible or useless. We need higher morality in the whole community. Our remedy must go deep. We have to acknowledge that there is at present in the midst of our Christian pretensions, a most regrettable lack of public moral teaching. English boys think whatever they call fun allowable, however vexations or dangerous it may be to others. As women servants often have to say, when teased by "run-away rings," "Ah, what a pity that there is no one to teach them better." This example is a very small matter out of dozens of far worse things. The Turks (I learn) have good moral teaching for boys, we English have none; none in the lowest classes, and (in my youth) none in the higher schools beyond what the boys taught one another.
The cause of this, and the deficiency, are manifest. No one can use the pulpit to expound and reprove petty boyish vices and stupidities, nor to teach parents the details which need to be enforced on their children. Details of morality must be taught in the school, not in the church. To my knowledge (German) teaching of morality (based not on religious command, but on common sense intelligible children) is very popular in school, if the teacher is equal to the task. Mr. William Ellis taught to the boys in University College School, twenty-five years ago, political economy as a mere problem of morals, with great success. If people are satisfied with a savage's religion, that may be taught without a basis of morals; but if Jewish or Christian notions of God are to be intelligible, a sound moral basis is presupposed. I see that in Switzerland, to avoid religious jealousies, they claim to teach Humanity as the common basis. Jews, Christians, and Moslems will all agree to applaud such neutral teaching. It ought to be cardinal in our Board Schools.
For nineteen years I have contended that every Church needs Priestesses as well as Priests to teach girls the dangers of "this wicked world," and many important matters which male priests do not, will not and cannot teach. Now that Archbishops and Bishops are opening their eyes, the time is ripe for pressing this matter.
F. W. NEWMAN
The moral effect of the recent murders upon Whitechapel and the neighbourhood has been most conspicuous. The inhabitants who patrol the streets find that the murderer himself has been the best policeman, and that where all other motives to abstain from wrongdoing have been of no avail, fear has been omnipotent, Surely our "quaint" forefathers would have said that this murderer was a Heaven-sent cautery to cure an ill which no milder remedies would touch.
THE SEARCH STILL FRUITLESS
There have been no further remains discovered in Whitehall, notwithstanding the continued use of the bloodhounds and the zealous efforts of the police. The officers yesterday devoted their attention principally to excavating the ground in the basement floors, Sir Charles Warren himself being present during a portion of the operation. Though the search was fruitless it is their intention to persevere in it both at this particular spot and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the authorities are continuing their application for all particulars of missing young women from places at home or abroad, who answer the supposed description of the deceased person - namely, about 5ft.8in., plump, not used in manual labour, well formed, with fair skin and somewhat dark hair, and who had suffered from pleurisy. It is regarded as important that this description should be before the public.
THE "KIDNEY INCIDENT"
INQUIRING FOR THE MAN WHO SENT IT
POLICE FOLLOWING UP A CLUE
The "kidney incident" is still the chief topic of conversation in connection with the atrocities. There are a large who regard it - as Dr. Sedgwick Saunders regards it, - as "the disgusting trick of some practical joker"; but there are elements connected with the affair which induce some among the authorities to attach value to it. That it is a human organ is generally accepted. Of course, that in itself does not go for much, remembering that medical students can obtain such an organ without any great difficulty. A small portion of the renal artery is, however, attached to it. This is at least singular. It will be remembered that a large portion of the renal artery adhered to the body of the Mitre-square victim. The Curator of the Pathological Museum of the London Hospital generally agrees with Dr. Sedgwick Saunders' opinion of the affair. The article - which was the anterior of the left kidney - and had been, according to him in spirit for ten days. The Curator believes it to be a human organ, but he says that until it has undergone a more minute examination it is almost impossible to say whether it has been extracted from the body of a male or female.
A statement which apparently gives a clue to the sender of the strange package received by Mr. Lusk was made last night by Miss Emily Marsh, whose father carries on a business in the leather trade at 218, Jubilee-street, Mile-end-road. In Mr. Marsh's absence Miss Marsh was in the front shop, shortly after one o'clock on Monday last, when a stranger, dressed in clerical costume entered, and, referring to the reward bill in the window, asked for the address of Mr. Lusk, described therein as the president of the Vigilance Committee. Miss Marsh at once referred the man to Mr. J. Aarons, the treasurer of the committee, who resides at the corner of Jubilee-street and Mile-end-road, a distance of about thirty yards. The man, however, said he did not want to go there, and Miss Marsh thereupon produced a newspaper in which Mr. Lusk's address was given as Alderney-road, Globe-road, no number being mentioned. She requested the stranger to read the address, but he declined, saying, "Read it out," and proceeded to write something in his pocket-book, keeping his head down meanwhile. He subsequently left the shop, after thanking the young lady for the information, but not before Miss Marsh, alarmed by the man's appearance, had sent the shopboy, John Cormack, to see that all was right. This lad, as well as Miss Marsh, gave a full description of the man, while Mr. Marsh, who happened to come along at the time, also encountered him on the pavement outside.
The stranger is described as a man of some forty-five years of age, fully six feet in height, and slimly built. He wore a soft felt black hat, drawn over his forward, a stand-up collar, and a very long black single-breasted overcoat, with a Prussian or clerical collar partly turned up. His face was of a sallow type, and he had a dark beard and moustache. The man spoke with what was taken to be an Irish accent. No importance was attached to the incident until Miss Marsh read of the receipt by Mr. Lusk of a strange parcel, and then it occurred to her that the stranger might be the person who had despatched it. His inquiry was made at one o'clock on Monday afternoon, and Mr. Lusk received the package at eight p.m. the next day. The address on the package, curiously gives no number in Alderney-road, a piece of information which Miss Marsh could not supply. It appears that on leaving the shop the man went right by Mr. Aaron's house, but did not call. Mr. Lusk has been informed of the circumstances, and states that no person answering the description has called on him, nor does he know anyone at all like the man in question. Meantime, while the City police are having a careful examination made of the contents, the authorities at Scotland-yard are giving attention to the wrapper of the parcel, with a view of ascertaining where it was posted.
The police complain that their work is increased, and morbid excitement created, by the statements made as to alleged arrests of an important character. Both the Metropolitan and City police deny that there was an American or any other man suspected at Bermondsey, whose apprehension was reported to have taken place. There is a clue upon which the authorities have been zealously working for some time. This is in Whitechapel, not far from the scene of the Berner-street tragedy, and the man is, indeed, himself aware that he is being watched; so much so, that, as far as observation has gone at present, he has scarcely ventured out of doors. The police called on Mr. Packer, of 44, Berner-street, yesterday morning; and later on an Echo reporter also saw him as to what had transpired. Mr. Packer was rather reticent; but, when asked his opinion as to where the murderer lodged - for he had seen him several times before the fatal night - remarked, "In the next street." It is considered he is not far wrong in his conjecture; but the police do not deem it prudent to say what steps are being taken in the matter.
Late yesterday afternoon, the City and Metropolitan police received an intimation that a man had written "I am Jack the Ripper" on a wall in Islington. He was pursued, but escaped. It is thought he was not in any way connected with the crimes, but his description has, nevertheless, been circulated by the authorities, who state that any persons found in the act of perpetrating such hoaxes will be immediately arrested.