Largest Circulation of Any Evening Paper in the Kingdom.
LONDON. FRIDAY, 26 OCTOBER, 1888.
AN interesting discussion has arisen in our columns as to the advisability of encouraging the rich to spend money in luxuries. The controversy was started by a Radical clergyman in the South of London, who suggested as one of the innumerable "morals of the murders" that the rich should forego luxuries or that there would be a revolution. To this "A Fabian" replied that it would be very foolish for us to urge them to do anything of the kind, for as long as society remains as it is, the rich ought to be encouraged to employ as much labor as possible. For instance, if their tastes led them to footmen and champagne, by all means let them go on keeping "JEAMES," and helping to keep the men who make plush for him. Let them contribute to the sustenance of the bottle-makers who work for MOET and CHANDON, the peasants who gather the vintage and press the grapes, and all that large body of workers who toil for a pittance to keep the pillows of wealth well-stuffed, and its couch as soft as down. The same argument was used at the Jubilee, when work on the QUEEN'S carriages kept a few toilers busy in the East-end, and a few more pennies went into the pockets of the workers, and a good many pounds into the bags of the sweaters. It was employed with quite astonishing effrontery by an alderman who suggested as an excuse for drinking too much champagne at dinner that the more wine he drank the better it was for the poor. It is, in fact, a revival of a very old economic controversy. MILL held, and his doctrine had, after all, a sound core of truth about it, that a demand for commodities need not imply a demand for labor irrespective of the nature of the commodities called for.
NOW, it is clear that this is to a certain extent true. BASTIAT, the popular French economist, showed by a few simple examples that a demand for a certain kind of labor would not in the long run benefit labor. Take the case of a tradesman who breaks a window. There is at once a demand for the labor of the plumber. Now, let us see what happens. Having paid, say, half a crown for the repair of his window, the tradesman is no better off than before. Nay, he is worse, for he has his window, but he has lost his half-crown. The plumber has got it, but then the tradesman might have spent it in employing other laborers in productive work, i.e., in producing fresh wealth instead of replacing that which has been destroyed. Push the argument to its extreme, and it appears to be manifestly absurd, for it would obviously encourage every form of wasteful and wicked expenditure. It would justify the Government in spending fifty millions in powder and shell for the sake of giving employment to the arsenals. It would offer an excuse to landlords who turned half of their estates into shooting preserves. But what is still more to the point is that it is a dangerous argument - dangerous to the people, dangerous to the rich. You cannot separate political from moral considerations, and the man who, while the poor are struggling for their rights, tells them that for the present, at least, the rich may go on rioting in the full gaze of poverty, is offering a terrible temptation to revolution of the violent and useless kind.
But on the other hand there is something - nay much - to be said for the argument of "A Fabian." You cannot at once devote all labor to productive purposes, i.e. to the sustaining of fresh labor. Therefore you cannot at once support any proposal which would have the effect of turning swarms of milliners, footmen, and the thousand and one kinds of laborers who minister to luxury on to the streets - ignorant of any kind of toil but that to which they have devoted the nights and days of toilsome lives. If you could abolish the love of luxury at a stroke, and substitute at once for it both the love of the useful and the ability to find employment for laborers who desire useful work, then your problem would be solved, and you could thunder your sermon against luxury with the assurance of the man who preached "as never sure to preach again." The question is - can we wait till then? We think not. Even now we have some little power of preventing a rich man who cannot spend his money in luxuries doing what he pleases with his own, and we hope to have much more. For instance, "A Fabian" says that the sybarite landlord, deprived of his champagne, would simply let his land, out of the profits of which he paid for his MOET and CHANDON, grow waste. But in any properly organised community he would not be allowed to do anything of the kind. The community would insist on the land being utilised for the benefit of the people, and would probably end by taking it over (without compensation) themselves. As fast as the luxurious man turns from his luxuries must the stream of industry be diverted into more profitable channels. If the ground landlords leave the community to shift for itself as soon as their wealth is taxed, the community must stand on its defence and organise the labor which the lazy sybarite ceases to employ.
The moral of the controversy is that you must not preach the abstention from luxuries alone. Other things are needed. By all means let us have plain living and high thinking, which, after all, mean nothing more than a fairer and better distribution of the means of happiness. We dare not use such a double-edged argument as that luxury is good for the people, any more than we can assert that because the Vicar of Englefield allows skim milk to be sold to the poor at a penny a quart, he and the Squire should be allowed to order the life of the community as completely as if they were feudal lords and the people of Englefield the serfs and villeins of the middle ages. But we must not go in for destructive work alone. We must build as well as pull down. We must settle the people on the land simultaneously with our efforts to stop the turning of rural Scotland and England into playing-grounds for the "classes." If we tax - or even ultimately tax out - the ground landlords, we must see to it that the money which the landlords once spent in luxuries is still spent, only in a much healthier way. This is the true moral of political and social development.
THE Queen appears to have joined in the hunt of Sir Charles Warren. The other day a number of East-end women addressed a petition to her Majesty asking her to "call on her servants" to put the law in force for the closing of disorderly houses. Of course, the Queen has (happily) nothing to do with putting the law in force, but apparently some action was taken, for the Queen replied through the Home Office that Mr. Matthews was in communication with the Commissioners of Police with a view to investigating the evils complained of. Now this is delightful. It is notorious that Vestry after Vestry has petitioned the Home Office for the help of the police in putting down disorderly houses, and that Sir Charles Warren has, contrary to Mr. Matthews's directions, persistently refused that help! Applying to the Commissioners of Police is about as useful as applying to the monument.
MEANWHILE, the case against the Chief Commissioner must be resolutely pressed. His article in Murray's is, as we said yesterday, an impeachment of the democracy. What he calls the mob is only his insolent military fashion of speaking of the efforts of the people - whose servant he is - to enlarge their liberties. The pulling down of Hyde Park railings was, we suppose, an instance of the evil work of the "mob." That a man who can use this language should call himself a Home Ruler is sufficiently astounding, but that he should be allowed to govern a free city like London is more astounding still. What does Mr. ex-Fenian Matthews say to it?
Another case of police persecution of hawkers of The Star has been brought under our notice. Wm. Osborne was standing at the corner of Wellington-street, Strand, on Tuesday afternoon, and he complains that at one o'clock Sergeant 21 E kicked his Star bills away, telling him that he had received instructions that no Star bills were to be shown in the Strand. This did not apply to other contents bills.
VITRIOL ON LADIES' DRESSES.
The Gentleman Who was Arrested With a Bottle is Acquitted.
To-day at the Central Criminal Court, before the Recorder, William Martin, described as a gentleman, residing in Holloway-road, surrendered to answer the charge of wilfully throwing a quantity of sulphuric acid on Miss Winifred Brown, a governess. The evidence showed that while the lady was going to church she felt something touch her dress behind. She put her gloved hand to the place and the glove was scorched. The prisoner, who was immediately behind her, crossed to the other side of the street, and hurried away. The lady followed and gave him into custody. He indignantly protested against the charge. In his pocket, however, was found an empty bottle, which had continued sulphuric acid, and at his residence were found several bottles full of the same fluid. These he accounted for by saying that he was an amateur photographer. He further stated that finding he had a bottle of the fluid in his pocket, from which the cork had escaped, he emptied the bottle in the street, and some of the acid might have accidentally gone on the dress. He expressed his regret, and subsequently offered to make compensation. - After a long hearing the jury acquitted him. - It will be remembered that many ladies in the same district complained to the police of vitriol having been thrown on their dresses a little while before Mr. Martin's arrest.
The Socialists are preparing to commemorate the events of this time last year which took place in Chicago and in Trafalgar-square. The programme which has been drawn up extends over the week, which includes the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," beginning on Saturday, 10 Nov., when there will be a tea at St. Paul's Cafe, at which Mrs. Parsons, the Chicago anarchist, will receive an address and Mr. Cuninghame Graham will occupy the chair; and ending with a demonstration in Victoria-park on Sunday, 18 Nov. On Sunday, 11 Nov., there will be a mass meeting in Regent's-park in the morning, and one at Hyde-park in the afternoon, and there will be a gathering the next evening at Stone-street Hall, at which the whole of the released Trafalgar-square prisoners will be present. Resolutions will be passed throughout the week denouncing in strong terms the action taken by the Chicago and London authorities a year ago.
Tracked a Teapot.
Robert Stevens, a lodging-house deputy at 10, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, was found by a detective in possession of a teapot, stolen with other things from Grace-road, Stratford. He was charged at West Ham with being concerned in the burglary, and was remanded to be brought up with five others. He says he bought the teapot in Petticoat-lane.
Charles Percy was charged at the Thames with stealing three silver medals and a walking-stick. - A Poplar photographer named Plowright entrusted him with the medals to be engraved and a walking-stick to repair. A few days later he received a postcard from prisoner, in which he said he had had a misfortune with the medals. They were pawned. - Percy was committed for trial.
It is Suggested, Why Not Refuse to Pay the Police Tax?
At the Central Finsbury Radical Club last night a crowded meeting condemned the turning of the London police into a semi-military body, and demanded that it should be placed under popular control. Mr. Conybeare, M.P., said he would do his best to make Sir Charles Warren odious to the people of London as a man who had initiated war against the industrial classes and despotically suppressed the rights of the people. He would like to see a strike against the police tax. (Hear, hear.) Warren's statement, quoted in The Star, that the "mobs" of last autumn were riotous was a barefaced lie, as was also his statement that the meetings were suppressed without loss of life. Every Londoner worth his salt would vote for no men but those who favored popular control of the police. They were not to be bullied out of their rights by a military martinet and carpet knight of the Warren type; or a dancing-master mountebank like Mr. Mantalini Matthews. (Laughter and cheers.)
During the last few days the meetings of the unemployed in Hyde-park have been marred by some disgraceful scenes. A gang of well-dressed roughs have come to the meetings and tried to break them up. Yesterday they turned up as usual, and commenced making a row. One with long hair, apparently the ringleader, held a meeting on his own account, and used most offensive language. For nearly an hour a scene of disorder and riot was allowed to go on. The police standing by laughed at the scene, and took no notice. A large portion of the unemployed still continue to meet in Trafalgar-square daily.
The supreme chief of the police and detectives is Sir Charles Warren, says the Baltimore Sun - a man who has not the first qualification, either by nature or education, for the position he fills. He illustrates the so-often unfortunate theory of primogeniture. Sir Charles had been a soldier, and served with fair credit, but had no executive experience or knowledge of police detail when he was placed in charge of the force of the greatest city in the world. If he had been a man content to pose as figure-head and allow the reins to be really held by capable lieutenants, not much harm would have been done, but unfortunately he is an irascible, stubborn martinet, who insists upon managing affairs solely to suit himself. He must certainly have succeded, for he has suited nobody else. He is said to have urged the Secretary not to offer a reward in the Whitechapel affair. Such a step would bring a multitude of shrewd private detectives into the cause, and Scotland-yard is not fond of rivalry. A rather curious fact, but one that explains away a good deal of failure, is that the best men of the office are constantly at work on political matters. In the turbulent state of British politics the party in power always has plenty of detective work to be done, and the Government resources are at their disposal. Such a thing is almost inconceivable in this country.
TWO GIRLS MURDERED AND MUTILATED IN MORAVIA.
They Were Gamekeeper's Daughters, and Jilted Their Plebeian Lovers for Gentlemen.
The bodies of two young girls, aged 17 and 19, have been found in the forest of Leskau, Moravia, murdered and mutilated. The elder sister was shot through the temple and her two breasts were cut off. The younger sister was shot in the breast and neck, while a wooden stave pierced the lower part of the body, running into the ground. They were the daughters of a gamekeeper who lived in the forest. Two brothers, the sons of a local merchant, had for some months past been regarded as the accepted suitors of the two girls, who were both of them renowned for their beauty. Lately there appeared on the scene two gentlemen, a civilian and an officer, who were observed by the villagers to pay conspicuous attention to the gamekeeper's daughters, and were seen in their company constantly. They went to Leskau partridge-shooting, and shortly after their arrival the merchant's two sons ceased their visits to the gamekeeper's. A few days ago there was a hare battue, to which both the two strangers and the merchant's sons were invited. The latter, however, refused. After the battue was over, the gamekeeper's daughters were seen in the Leskau Forest in company of the two strangers, but they never returned home, and for four days nothing was heard of them. On the fourth day a peasant discovered their bodies in the forest. The merchant's eldest son has disappeared. He is suspected of having committed the crime out of jealousy. His brother has been taken into custody.
How to Use Old "Stars."
SIR, - The man who borrows a halfpenny Star instead of buying one may lie under the imputation of meanness, but for all that I have found a very serviceable use for old Stars. I save a fortnight's issue, and then send them to the rural laborers in Sheppey, who always are glad to read them. Men who earn 15s. a week, when there are no wet days, and keep their families in respectability on that, cannot afford even threepence a week for The Star, even if they could obtain it in their villages. Still these men have votes, and are learning how to use them so as to make their powers of numbers felt, and it is important they should be well informed on the questions dealt with in The Star. - Yours, &c.,