28 September 1888
Is it the mission of a workhouse to manufacture paupers? A resolution recently passed by an association for the protection of one of our industries would seem to show that the metropolitan boards of guardians are apparently bent upon adding to the number of the inmates of these institutions. The firewood cutters find that the work, which hitherto they have done outside the house and by means of which they have supported themselves and their families in an honest if not luxurious fashion, is to a great extent to be done in future by paupers in the various workhouses. The Kensington Board, for instance, requires 80 fathoms of firewood, or 17, 280 cubic feet, representing something over 400,000 bundles; the work of cutting this and getting it ready is to be performed by the paupers. Similar operations are threatened in other districts of the metropolis; and the only result must be that the honest workman who has struggled to keep out of the workhouse will find himself reduced to absolute want and deprived of his means of livelihood by the unfair competition of pauper labour.
We thought that this question was practically settled, and that, as in prisons, so in workhouses it was an admitted principle that no work should be done which would unfairly press upon the honest and industrious classes. It seems however, that in this instance- ad, for all we know, in others, too- the principle has been thrown to the winds, and if some steps are not taken to put a stop to this competition of paupers, the result will be nothing more or less than an increase of the burdens of the ratepayers and an intensification of the distress too prevalent in the metropolis during the winter months. Let it not be supposed that anything is saved to the ratepayers be fairly reckoned up it will be found far to exceed the market price of the article delivered on the premises. The ratepayers are asked to allow their money to be misspent. No doubt the guardians mean well enough. They mean to try and effect an economy. But no economy will be effected; and even if it could be shown that a few shillings would be saved, what, we ask, is the value of such a saving when it is counterbalanced by the pauperization of two or three hundred families and the additional burden to the rates thereby incurred? Surely the Local Government Board, which looks so carefully after the doings of local guardians, could exercise its authority so far as to prevent an injury being done to a hardworking class of men. It is true that the guardians are acting within the law. But the law should be tempered with a prudent discretion; and for our part we can see no wisdom in any policy which only tends to increase the ranks of the unemployed in the metropolis .
Sir James Risdon Bennett is very much exercised at the theory which Mr. Wynne Baxter, the Whitechapel Coroner, recently put forward in connection with the murder of Annie Chapman. He declares that no one having any knowledge of medical science will for a moment believe that the parts of the body carried off were wanted for any quasi-scientific publication or any more or less legitimate purpose, and further that the facilities for obtaining such objects for any purpose of legitimate research, in any number, either here or in America, without having recourse to any crime, are such as to render the suggestion of the coroner utterly untenable. But how does Sir James know that the American who made the extraordinary offer to one of our medical schools wanted the particular organ in question for any legitimate purpose? There is no evidence that he did so; whilst the condition he is said to have made that the organ must be extracted from the body either before or immediately after death, would assuredly render it extremely difficult to obtain specimens. Sir James, in his anxiety to defend his own profession, seems not to have taken as calm a view of the facts as he might have done.
SEQUEL TO THE PIMLICO MYSTERY.
This morning, at about half-past seven o'clock, a horrible discovery was made in Southwark, which tallies with the late discovery at Pimlico. It appears that a lad was walking along the Lambeth-road, and on passing the Blind School, which has a garden protected by railings, he noticed a curiously-shaped paper parcel which was lying on the grass inside the railings. The lad managed to obtain possession of the parcel and upon opening it to his horror found it to contain the arm of a woman. It was somewhat decomposed and had lime thrown over it. The attention of a policeman of the L division was immediately called, and the limb given into his charge, who immediately took it to Lambeth Police-station, in Kennington-lane. The Lambeth-road at the Blind School is a very quiet place in the morning, but it is frequented by prostitutes at night, and it would have been impossible for the parcel to have been placed where it was found at that time. At half-ast seven o'clock, the time when it was found, not more than half a dozen people were on the spot. A brick-layer, named Moore, stated that "at about a quarter past seven o'clock, this morning, I was walking along Lambeth-road, when I saw a boy pick up a parcel, through the railings which surrounded the Blind School. He was opening it when I went up and saw the arm of a young woman, which had been put in lime."
The licensed shoeblack who stands at the corner of a public-house facing the Blind School said: "Seeing some people round a parcel which had been fished out of the garden I went over. The parcel lay opened, and I saw the arm of a woman, which had been cut from the body. It was decomposed, and had been laid in lime. The fingers were clenched."
A LETTER FROM SIR J.R. BENNETT.
An extraordinary story was current at Portsmouth, yesterday morning, to the effect that the police the previous night had effected the capture of the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders. The authorities were very reticent about the affair, but the inquiry resulted in the prisoner being merely bound over to keep the peace for assaulting a woman.
The Law Journal says: The summing-up of the coroner in the Whitechapel case, although at certain points, particularly when he communicated the information given to himself personally, somewhat sensational, on the whole promoted the true function of a coroner's inquest, which is as near to an approach to a proceeding in rein as is known to common law. The regular course would have been to have summoned the person who gave the information as a witness, and the coroner's own evidence, not on oath, of what was told him was technically out of order. Possibly to summon the witness would not have encouraged the production of further evidence, and no doubt the able exposition of the coroner of the case as it now stands is a valuable contribution towards justice, and from one point of view a relief to the public mind. Every one will be glad to know that Whitechapel, whatever its shortcomings, cannot be hels in any sense responsible for this murder, except in so far as it happened to afford conveniences for the execution of its horrible motive.
The following letters appear in the Times:
SIR- The statement made by the coroner to the jury in the inquest in the death of the woman Chapman, and your comments thereon, induce me, in the interests of humanity as well as justice, to request your serious attention to the injurious influence which the theory referred to in your article of this morning is calculated to exert on the public mind.
I will, for the sake of argument, assume that the information given to the coroner by the officer of one of the medical schools is correct, and that, Dr. Phillips is right in considering that the character of the mutilation in question justifies the assumption that the perpetrator was probably one who possessed some knowledge of anatomy.
But that the inference which has been deduced is warranted, any one who is the least acquainted with medical science and practice will unhesitatingly deny and indignantly repudiate. That a lunatic may have desired to obtain possession of certain organs for some insane purpose is very possible, and the theory of the murdering fiend being a madman only derives confirmation from the information obtained by the coroner. But that the parts of the body carried off were wanted for any quasi-scientific publication or any other more or less legitimate purpose no one having any knowledge of medical science will for a moment believe. To say nothing of the utterly absurd notion of the part, or organ, being preserved in a particular way to accompany each copy of an intended publication , the facilities for obtaining such objects for any purpose of legitimate research in any number, either here or in America, without having recourse to crime of any kind are such as to render the suggestion made utterly untenable. There can be no analogy whatever with the atrocious crimes of Burke and Hare, the merest insinuation of which is a gross and unjustifiable calumny on the medical profession and is calculated both to exert an injurious influence on the public mind and defeat the ends of justice,
If I have expressed myself strongly you will, I trust, ascribe it to my anxiety that neither you nor the officers of justice should be misled, and not to say mere feeling that discredit has unjustly been thrown on the medical profession. Jas. Risbon Bennett.
The theory of the coroner is too horrible; but those of us who remember the days of Burke and his pitch plaister murder of poor boys for the sake of their bodies may well accept it. Have the remains of the other murdered woman been exhumed to confirm the suggestion, and to connect the three murders with the same diabolical trade? C.H. Bromby, Bishop.
It has been ascertained that the incident to which Mr. Wynne Baxter, coroner for East Middlesex, so emphatically referred in his summing up of the evidence given at the inquest concerning the death of Annie Chapman, occurred some months since, towards the close of last year. The person who made the singular application as described, at one of the great London hospitals, and which he repeated at a scientific institution, was for some time a student at the hospital in question, and it is stated he would have been able to procure what he required without incurring any risk. As a matter of fact, according to the experience of demonstrators of anatomy, there is no such value to be attached to what was mentioned by the coroner, who was informed that £20 would be given by the American in every case. In a pecuniary sense there would be no value attaching at all. As a student the applicant must have been conversant with the rules of the dissecting room and with the very strict regulations of the Government in regard to the disposal of post-mortem subjects. He certainly would have excited suspicion by pressing a demand with unusual conditions, the more especially as under proper treatment glycerine, as the medium of preservation, would have been totally unnecessary. This at all events is the view taken by some experts, while others state that the use of glycerine, as opposed to spirits of wine, as a preserving agent would depend to a great extent upon the experiment subsequently intended to be made.
Inquiry at the London Hospital, Whitechapel-road, the nearest institution to the scene of the murder, elicited the fact that no applications of the kind indicated have recently been made to the warden or curator of the pathological museum. An opinion was expressed that an American pathologist would scarcely endeavour to obtain his specimens from London, when the less stringent laws prevailing on the Continent would render his task comparatively easy there. It was stated, however, that a considerable number of Americans, holding medical degrees of more or less value, were in the habit of studying at London pathological museums. On the other hand, if the real object was to add to the practical value of a technical publication in preparation, as alleged, the purposes in view could have been easily attained in America, without the necessity of committing murder. It is the theory, however, of some among those who are well acquainted with the medical details of the recent mysterious deaths in Whitechapel that the offer of £20 must have become known to some one in the habit of frequenting dissecting rooms, and that, under temptation, this individual had yielded to the impulse of taking life.
The circumstances that two murders had been perpetrated in the streets of Whitechapel within a short period without causing much comment would have led, it is supposed, the miscreant to assume that the police protection in the neighbourhood was so insufficient that he might commit a third murder with impunity. Upon the body of Mary Anne Nichols, the Buck's-row victim, there were indications that the murderer had entertained, but not fully carried out his project, and had had to hurry away to evade discovery. In the case of Annie Chapman, the opportunity was more favourable and the object was attained. Both women had had their throats cut by a left-handed assailant. Although many hospital authorities do not attach very great importance to the story, the police have given due attention to the matter. In their view, however, it does not provide a clue which will facilitate the identification of the murderer. - Daily Telegraph
On Wednesday night a young girl named Duffy, residing with her parents in Chapel-street, Newry, ran home from a field in the suburbs of the town, where she had gone to fetch cows home for the night, and stated that she had been accosted by a strange man only partially dressed, who leaped out of a hedge and chased her through the field, saying he was "Leather Apron," and the murderer of the Whitechapel victims. When the girl reached home without waiting to bring the cows she was almost breathless and in a very excited state. Her father informed the constabulary of the affair, and they went to the field, but failed to find the mysterious stranger. An alarm of a similar kind has been exciting the minds of the people of Warrenpoint and the district for the past three or four days. So great is the panic amongst the female portion of the community that not one of them can be induced to go out on the Newry road after dark. The police believe the mysterious man is some half-crazy individual.
The Lancet, in discussing "murder-culture by the pictorial art," says, while we empower the police to put down with a strong hand the exhibition in shop windows, and the censor of stage plays and spectacles to interdict the parade in theatres of pictures and scenes of an "immoral character," because it is recognized that these have a tendency to corrupt the mind of youth, and age too, nothing whatever is done to restrain the daily increasing evil of pictorial placards displayed on every hoarding, and of highly-wrought scenes produced at nearly all the theatres, which not only direct the thoughts but actively stir the passions of the people in such a way as to familiarize the average mind with murder in all its forms, and to break down that protective sense of "horror" which nature has given us with the express purpose, doubtless, of opposing an obstacle to the evil influence of the exemplification of homicide.
The educationary use of the pictorial art has not been checked by public authority. We have no wish to make wild affirmations, but knowing what we do as observers of development, we can have no hesitation in saying that the increasing frequency of horribly brutal outrages is by no means unaccountable. It is high time that this ingenious and persistent murder-culture should cease.