Saturday, 22 September 1888
The mysteries of Whitechapel continue still unsolved. In the face of such a fact, a sense of insecurity remains which the assurances of the statistician cannot countervail, however widely their appliances may seem to affect the common interest. The police are condemned for their failure to vindicate the ends of justice, and popular feeling runs strongly against them in the world of London. It is not our duty at this stage to pronounce any judgement upon them. But it does certainly suggest itself, that knowing from long practiced experience the dangerous character f this modern Alsatia, they were not prepared for a moment of special emergency. The murders that have been perpetrated under circumstances of such foul atrocity cannot be permitted to go unavenged, and the public demand that all the acts of the detective should be employed to run the special cause of evil to its wicked source. Happily for humanity, seldom in the history of a generation have so foul crimes baffled the penetration of the police. Murder will out, and sooner or later, as we cannot doubt, the criminals will be brought to justice, but the delay is demoralising and no finger of scorn can be pointed at those who most wholesomely condemn it. From all that has transpired, the Criminal Investigation Department should learn a stern lesson. It is not merely its duty to track crime when it is committed, but to prevent it before it can be accomplished. The condition of Whitechapel, with kindred districts which morally are no whit better, is a disgrace to the civilised community, and it is high time that the people of these countries should awake to the perils that threaten them lest worse things befall. There are hotbeds of crime in every great city, and these are at this hour breeding contagion, and propagating evils that the power of the law may occasionally overcome, but unaided cannot hope utterly to stamp out. Social reformers are very ready with abstract theory, but what have they done to help in the removal of the canker that knaws, even in our midst, at the very heart of society? The problem has lately been forced upon the consideration of every citizen of these countries with terrible meaning. It cannot be avoided. Much of the time that is idly wasted in popular naggings about small points of political and social economics might far more profitably and practically be devoted to this question, affecting as it does the most intimate interests of the people at large. Statistics may be made the text for general congratulations, but actual facts passing under our eyes are stubborn things, and must be grappled with. How the birth and growth of crime is to be stifled and held in control, is the great social difficulty of the day, and in dealing with it the truth unhappily is apparent, that we have begun at the wrong end.
We are still on the look out for murderers, and so highly strung are the nerves of the Londoners that should a crowd assemble anywhere east of Temple Bar immediately the rumour breaks out that the capture of the Whitechapel murderer is being effected. As an instance of the public feeling, an amusing anecdote is recorded of an incident which occurred in Cheapside last night. A constable's attention was called to the fact that somebody was knocking from the inside of a building in this thoroughfare, whereupon it was found hat the housekeeper and her two friends wanted to get out, but said they could not, as the door had jammed in some way. The constable tried to force the door but failed. Another constable arrived and then a sergeant, and a large crowd collected. The report quickly got wind that the police had at last got on the track of the Whitechapel murderer, and soon an excited mob filled the street. There being no way of opening the door a ladder was procured, and a constable entered the window quickly followed by the sergeant. Getting to the door it was found that the woman had bolted it, and then tried to open it, forgetting that it was bolted. The scene of the murder, it would appear, is now held as one of the sights of the metropolis, and thousands from al parts visit it daily. Our country cousins now up in town on their holidays particularly affect the locality.