Saturday, 13 October 1888
PANIC STRICKEN LONDON.
"Jack the Ripper" caused a greater panic amongst the women than any other man of modern times, and he has done more to break up the street-prowlers than all our modern missions. At Hackney and neighbourhood women and girls go about in fear and trembling after dark, and every unknown man that passes is looked at with a certain amount of suspicion. Nor does this panic extend only to the weaker sex, for many men shudder at the thought of meeting this blood fiend with his cold, keen and glittering knife. Every dark corner is periodically illuminated by the flashing light of a policeman's bullseye. Poor homeless wretches shiver and shudder as they lie huddled together for warmth and protection, fearing every moment to see the dreaded murderer appear before them. Children run from the mere mention of his name and dread his appearance as much as they would the King of the Lower Regions. Houses are locked and every fastening is securely fixed after dark, and of the people who are compelled to keep late hours many go about armed. The motive of the murderer in always attacking defenceless women is probably hatred and revenge, and now that his appetite for blood has been whetted he will not desist until caught and brought to justice. It is a fact that postcards purporting to come from the man-demon - this bloodthirsty Will-o-the-Wisp - "Jack the Ripper" were passed through the post, for we received one at our Chief Office, which we at once handed over to the police.
When the post-card arrived at our office last Friday evening signed "Jack the Ripper," containing a threat to murder a girl in the Hackney Churchyard on Saturday night, we at once informed the police. Within ten minutes every metropolitan police office was advised of the fact. The knife and cross bones in the corner were apparently drawn to add to the panic which such diabolical humour was bound to cause. [an illustration of card marks appeared here].
Within a short time of the arrival of the post our paper was in the hands of the public, whilst the post-card was in the custody of the police. Although it is not certain whether these communications received by the Central News, ourselves and the police are bona fide, yet it would not be wise to disregard them altogether. Our duty was to at once inform the authorities and the public, and we lost no time in giving publicity to the fact. For two or three hours our office was besieged with a crowd eager to read the news, and directly they had grasped all the details they carried the news east, west, north and south. Never did bad tidings travel faster in Hackney. Orders for the papers poured in from all parts of the east end, and the demand was far in excess of the supply - our machinery could not travel half fast enough to supply an eager and excited public. Never was a Hackney paper in such great demand. Enterprising newsagents in the city and west end bought up a large portion of our stock and retailed them at double and treble the ordinary rates in many cases they were sold for 6d. a piece in the Strand, before unequalled in the history of Hackney newspapers. Our machinery was running till nearly midnight on Friday and nearly all day Saturday to enable us to meet the demand. All day Saturday the principal topic of conversation in every public bar, saloon and shop was the terrible threat contained in the postcard. The singular coincidence of the postcard received by the Central News on Thursday in the previous week, followed by the double murder on the Sunday morning, gave importance to the threat and opinions were equally divided. The police authorities with commendable promptitude set an extra watch on the Hackney churchyard on Saturday night, and made crime impossible by guarding every inlet and outlet. The "unfortunates" disappeared at an early hour and the churchyard remained forsaken after dark. One gentleman who escorted his wife through the churchyard at nine p.m. was closely scrutinised by two detectives, and watched out of the precincts of the churchyard. The few pedestrians, who bolder than the rest, essayed to take that route, were scanned and examined by police, and every crowd that collected to watch the spot was interspersed with detectives. In the face of such extraordinary precautions crime was absolutely impossible, and no madman who desired to escape would have attempted crime in such a strongly guarded place. If there had been any intention to murder, for once "Jack the Ripper" was balked of his prey, for Saturday night passed away without the commission of any fresh outrage, and when morning came the watchers were allowed to take the much-needed rest. Never was the east-end of London so strongly guarded as on Saturday night, for in addition to the extra force of police and detectives, a large body of amateur detectives did duty throughout the night. We hear that the Hackney Churchyard is to be guarded in a similar manner this Saturday night, so that should "Jack the Ripper" pay us a visit he will certainly be captured. Every citizen should keep a strict watch and should they see anything suspicious inform the police at once. According to the statement of witnesses who are supposed to have seen "Jack the Ripper" we believe the murderer will be found to resemble the following: [illustration appeared here].
We are assured this is the nearest approach to a correct portrait of "Jack the Ripper". Witnesses who are supposed to have seen him can corroborate.