Saturday, 6 October 1888
Yesterday afternoon Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his inquiry at the Vestry-hall, Cable-street, St. George's-in-the-East, respecting the death of Elizabeth Stride, who was found murdered in Berner-street, St. George's, on the early morning of Sunday last. Superintendent T. Arnold and Detective-inspector Reid, H Division, watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Dr. Phillips was re-called and said:- After the last examination, in company with Dr. Blackwell and Dr. Brown, I went to the mortuary and examined more carefully the roof of the mouth. I could not find any injury to or absence of anything from the mouth. I have also carefully examined the two handkerchiefs, and have not found any blood on them. I believe the stains on the larger one were fruit stains. I am convinced that the deceased had not swallowed either skin or seed of a grape within many hours of her death. The abrasion which I spoke of on the right side of the neck was only apparently an abrasion, for on washing it the staining was removed and the skin was found to be uninjured. The knife that was produced on the last occasion was submitted to me by Constable 282 H. On examination I found it to be such a knife as would be used in a chandler's shop, called a slicing knife. It had blood upon it, which was similar to that of a warm-blooded being. It has been recently blunted and the edge turned by apparently rubbing on a stone. It evidently was before that a very sharp knife. Such a knife could have produced the incision and injuries to the neck of the deceased; but it was not such a weapon as I would have chosen to inflict injuries in this particular place; and if my opinion as regards the position of the body is correct, the knife in question would become an improbable instrument as having caused the incision.
The CORONER. - Could you give us any idea of the position of the victim? Witness. - I have come to the conclusion that the deceased was seized by the shoulders, placed on the ground, and that the perpetrator of the deed was on her right side when he inflicted the cut. I am of the opinion that the cut was made from the left to right side of the deceased, and therefore arises the unlikelihood of such a long knife having inflicted the wound described in the neck, taking into account the position of the incision.
The CORONER. - Was there anything in the cut that showed the incision first made was done with a pointed knife? Witness. - No.
The CORONER. - Have you formed any opinion how the right hand of the deceased was covered with blood? Witness. - No; that is a mystery. I may say I am taking it as a fact that the hand always remained the same position in which he found it resting across the body.
The CORONER. - How long had the deceased been dead when you arrived? Witness. - Within an hour she was alive.
The CORONER. - Would the injury take long to inflict? Witness. - Only a few seconds. It might be done in two seconds.
The CORONER. - Does the presence of the cachous in her hand show that it was done suddenly or would it simply show a muscular grasp? Witness. - No; I cannot say. You will remember some of the cachous were found in the gutter. I have seen several self-inflicted wounds more extensive than this one, but then they have not divided the carotid artery. You will see by that, as in the other cases, there appears to have been a knowledge where to cut the throat.
The CORONER. - Was there any other similarity between this and Chapman's case? Witness. - There is a great dissimilarity. In Chapman's case the neck was severed all around down to the vertebral column, the vertical bone being marked, and there had been an evident attempt to separate the bones.
The CORONER. - Would the murderer be likely to get bloodstained? Witness. - Not necessarily, for the commencement of the wound and the injury to the vessels would be away from him, and the stream of blood, for stream it would be, would be directed away from him, and towards the waterway already mentioned. There was no perceptible sign of an anaesthetic having been used. The absence of noise is a difficult question in this case, and under the circumstances, to account for, but it must not be taken for granted that I assumed there was no noise. If there was an absence of noise, there was nothing in this case that I can account for. She might have called out and not have been heard. As I said before, if there was a noise I cannot account for it.
The Foreman. - Was the wound caused by drawing the knife across the throat? Witness. - Undoubtedly. My reason for supposing deceased was injured when on the ground was partly on account of the absence of blood anywhere but on the left side of the body, and between that side and the wall.
The CORONER. - Was there any sign of liquor in the stomach? Witness. - There was no trace of it.
Dr. Blackwell, recalled, said:- I have little to say except to confirm Dr. Phillip's statement. I removed the cachous from the left hand, which was nearly open. The packet was lodged between the thumb and fourth finger, and had become almost hidden. That accounted for its not having been seen by several of those around. I believe the hand relaxed after the injury was inflicted, as death would arise from fainting owing to the rapid loss of blood. I wish to say that, taking into consideration the absence of any instrument it was impossible that the deceased could have committed suicide. With respect to the knife which was found, I should say I concur with Dr. Phillips in his opinion that although it might have possibly inflicted the injury it was extremely unlikely that such an instrument was used. The murderer using a sharp, round-pointed instrument would have severely handicap himself, as he could only use it in one way. He was informed that slaughterers always used round-pointed instruments.
The CORONER. - No one suggested anything about a slaughterer. Is it your suggestion that this was done by a slaughterer? Witness. - No, I concur with Dr. Phillips as to the post mortem appearances. There were some pressure marks on the shoulders. These were not regular bruises, and there was no abrasion of the skin.
A juryman. - Do you know how these marks were likely to have been caused? Witness. - By two hands pressing on the shoulders.
Did you see any grapes in the yard? - No I did not.
Sven Olsson said:- I live at 36, Prince's-square, and am clerk to the Swedish Church in that square. I saw the body of the deceased in the mortuary on Tuesday morning. I have known deceased about 17 years.
The CORONER. - Was she a Swede? -Yes.
What was her name? - Elizabeth Gustafsdotter was her maiden name. Elizabeth Stride was her married name, and she was the wife of John Thomas Stride, a ship's carpenter. She was born on the 27th of November, 1843 at Forslander, near Gottenburg, in Sweden.
The CORONER. - Was she married in your church? Witness. - No. We register those who come to this country bringing with them a certificate and desiring to be registered.
The CORONER. - When was she registered? Witness. - Our register is dated July 10,1866. She was registered as an unmarried woman.
The CORONER. - How do you know she was the wife of John Thomas Stride? Witness. - I suppose she gave it to the clergyman, as it is written here. In the registry I find a memorandum, undated, in the handwriting of the Rev. Mr. Palmar, in abbreviated Swedish. It means, "married to an Englishman, John Thomas Stride." I do not know when this entry was made.
The CORONER. - How long has Mr. Palmar been at the church? Witness. - About a year. This registry is a new one and copied from an older book. I have seen the original entry, and it was written many years ago.
The CORONER. - Would you mind looking at the entry in the older book, and see in whose handwriting it is? Witness. - I will.
Inspector Reid. - Do you know this hymnbook? Witness. - Yes.
The CORONER. - Is there any name in it? Witness. - No; I gave it to the deceased last winter.
The CORONER. - Do you know when she was married to Stride? Witness. - I think it was in 1869. She told me her husband was drowned in the Princess Alice.
The CORONER. - Have you any schools connected with the Swedish Church? Witness. - No; I do not remember hearing she ever had any children. She told me her husband went down in the Princess Alice.
The CORONER. - Have you ever seen her husband? Witness. - No; I think we gave the deceased some assistance before we knew her husband was dead. I forget where she was living at the time, but two years ago she gave her address as Devonshire-street, Commercial-road. She said she was doing a little work - sewing. Deceased could speak English pretty well.
The CORONER. - Do you know when deceased came to England? Witness. - I cannot say, but I think a little before the name was registered.
William Marshall said:- I live at 64 Berner-street, Commercial-road, and am a labourer. On Sunday last I saw the body of deceased in the mortuary. I recognize it as that of a woman I saw on Saturday evening about three doors off from where I am living in Berner-street. That was about a quarter to 12. She was on the pavement opposite No. 63, and between Christian-street and Boyd-street. She was standing talking to a man. I recognize her both by her face and dress.
The CORONER. - Was she wearing a flower when you saw her? -No.
The CORONER. - Were they talking quietly? -Yes.
The CORONER. - Can you describe the man? -There was no lamp near and I did not see the face of the man she was talking to. He had on a small black coat and dark trousers. He seemed to be a middle-aged man.
The CORONER. - What sort of cap was he wearing? - A round cap with a sort of peak to it; something like what a sailor would wear.
The CORONER. - What height was he? - About 5ft. 6in., and he was rather stout. He was decently dressed, and I should say he worked at some light business, and had more the appearance of a clerk than anything else.
The CORONER. - Did you see whether he had any whiskers? - From what I saw of his face I do not think he had. He was not wearing gloves, and he had no stick or anything in his hand.
The CORONER. - What sort of coat was it? - A cut-away one.
The CORONER. - You are quiet sure this is the woman? -Yes, I am. I did not take much notice of them. I was standing at my door and what attracted my attention first was her standing there some time, and he was kissing her. I heard the man say to deceased. "You would say anything but your prayers." He was mild speaking, and appeared to be an educated man. They went down the street.
The CORONER. - Would they pass the club? -They had done so.
The CORONER. - How was she dressed? - In a black jacket and black skirt.
The CORONER. - Were either of them worse for drink? - They did not appear to be so. I went in about 12 o'clock and heard nothing more until I heard "Murder" being called in the street. It had then just gone 1 o'clock.
A juryman. - How long were you standing at the door? - From 11:30 to 12.
A juryman. - Did it rain then? - No, it did not rain until nearly 3 o'clock.
The Foreman. - What sort of bonnet had she on? - I believe it was a small black crape one.
Inspector Reid. - When you saw them first they were standing between your house and the club? - Yes, and they remained there for about 10 minutes. They passed me once, and I could not see the man's face, as it was turned towards the deceased. There was a lamp over No. 70.
Inspector Reid. - Were they hurrying along? - No.
Was it raining at the time? - No, it was not.
Mr. Olsson, recalled, said, - I find that the original entry of the marriage of the deceased is in the handwriting of Mr. Frost, who was the pastor for about 18 years until two years ago.
James Brown stated, - I live at 35, Fairclough-street. I saw the deceased about a quarter to 1 on Sunday morning. At that time I was going from my house to get some supper from a chandler's shop at the corner of Berner-street and Fairclough-street. As I was going across the road I saw a man and woman standing by the Board School in Fairclough-street. They were standing against the wall. As I passed them I heard the woman say, "No, not to-night, some other night." That made me turn round, and I looked at them. I am certain the woman was the deceased. I did not notice any flowers in her dress. The man had his arm up against the wall, and the woman had her back to the wall facing him. I noticed the man had a long coat on, which came very nearly down to his heels. I believe it was an overcoat. I could not say what kind of cap he had on. The place where they were standing was rather dark. I saw nothing light in colour about either of them. I then went on and went indoors. I had nearly finished my supper when I heard screams of "Police" and "Murder." That was about a quarter of an hour after I got in. I do not think it was raining at the time. I should say the man was about 5ft. 7in. in height. He appeared to be stoutish built. Both the man and woman appeared to be sober. I did not notice any foreign accent about the woman's voice. When I heard screams of "Police" and "Murder" I opened the window, but could not see any one and the screams ceased. The cries were those of moving persons, and appeared to be going in the direction of Grove-street. Shortly afterwards I saw a policeman standing at the corner of Christian-street. I heard a man opposite call out to the constable that he was wanted. I then saw the policeman run along to Berner-street.
By the CORONER. - I am almost certain it was the deceased.
Police-constable William Smith, 452 H, said that on Saturday night his beat was past Berner-street. It went from the corner of Jower's-walk, Commercial-road, as far as Christian-street, down Christian-street and Fairclough-street as far as Grove-street, then back along Fairclough-street as far as Backchurch-lane, up there as far as the Commercial-road, taking all the interior streets, including Berner-street and Batley-street [Batty-street]. The witness continued, - It takes me from 25 minutes to half an hour to go round my beat. I was last in Berner-street about half-past 12 or 12:35. At 1 o'clock I went to Berner-street in my ordinary round. I saw a crowd of people outside the gates of No. 40. I did not hear any cries of "Police." When I got there I saw constables 12 H R and 252 H. I then saw the deceased, and, on looking at her, found she was dead. I then went to the station for the ambulance. Dr. Blackwell's assistant came just as I was going away.
The CORONER. - Did you go up Berner-street into Commercial-road? - No I turned up Fairclough-street.
Did you see any one? -No, sir.
When you were in Berner-street the previous time did you see any one? - Yes, a man and a woman.
Was the latter anything like the deceased? - Yes, I saw her face. I have seen the deceased in the mortuary, and I feel certain it is the same person.
Was she on the pavement? - Yes, a few yards up Berner-street on the opposite side to where she was found.
Did you see the man who was talking to her? - Yes; I noticed he had a newspaper parcel in his hand. It was about 18in. in length and 6in. or 8in. in width. He was about 5ft. 7in. as near as I could say. He had on a hard felt deerstalker hat of dark colour and dark clothes.
What kind of coat was it? - An overcoat. He wore dark trousers.
Did you overhear any conversation? - No.
Did he seem sober? - Yes. I did not see much of the face of the man except that he had no whiskers.
Can you form any idea as to his age? - About 28 years.
Can you give any idea as to what he was? -No, sir, I cannot. He was of respectable appearance. I noticed the woman had a flower in her jacket.
When you saw them talking, which way did you go? - Straight up Berner-street into the Commercial-road. In the centre of Berner-street were some courts which led into Backchurch-lane.
When did it last rain before 1 o'clock? -To the best of my recollection, it rained very little after 11 o'clock.
The Foreman. - Was the man or the woman acting in a suspicious manner? - No.
Did you see many prostitutes or people hanging about Berner-street? - No, very few.
Inspector Reid. - Did you see these people more than once? - No. When I saw deceased lying on the ground I recognized her at once and made a report of what I had seen.
The witness Kidney was recalled, and the CORONER said, - Have you ever seen that hymn-book before? -Yes; I recognize it as one belonging to the deceased. It used to be in my place. I found it in Mrs. Smith's room, next to my own. Mrs. Smith said deceased gave it to her to take care of when she left on Tuesday.
Inspector Reid. - When you and the deceased lived together I believe you had a padlock on the door? - Yes; there was only one key, which I had, but she got in and out somehow. The hymn-book was taken from the room on Wednesday week, the day after she went away. That was done during my absence.
The CORONER. - What makes you think there was anything the matter with the roof of her mouth? - She told me she was kicked when the Princess Alice went down.
Philip Krantz, who claimed to affirm, said, - I live at 40, Berner-street, and am the editor of a Hebrew paper called the Workers' Friend. I work in the room at the back of the printing office on the ground floor, and the entrance is from the yard. I was in the back room from 9 o'clock on Saturday night until one of the members of the club came and told me there was a woman lying in the yard.
The CORONER. - Had you heard any cry of scream? - None.
Was your window or door open? - No.
Is it a wooden structure? - No; brick.
Supposing a woman had screamed, would you have heard it? - I do not know. They were singing upstairs.
When you went out into the yard was there any one round deceased? - Yes, members of the club were near the woman, but there was no one there I did not know.
Were you on the look out to see if there was any stranger there? - No. I went out into the street to look for a policeman.
Do you think it possible for any one to escape without being noticed after you arrived there? - I do not think it was, but he might have done so before.
Did you see the face of the deceased? - No; my name and address was taken, and I was examined and searched by the police.
Constable 12 HR said, - At half-past 5 on Sunday morning I washed all traces of blood away. That was after the doctors had left. There were no traces of blood on the wall.
Detective-inspector Edmund Reid, H Division, stated, - I received a telegram at 1:25 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Commercial-street police office. I at once proceeded to 40, Berner-street. I saw there Chief Inspector West, Inspector Pinhorn, several sergeants and constables, Drs. Phillips and Blackwell, a number of residents in the yard, and club members, with persons who had come into the yard and had been shut in by the police. At that time Dr. Phillips, with Dr. Blackwell, was examining the throat of the deceased woman. Superintendent Arnold followed in, as well as several other officers. When it was found a murder had been committed a thorough search was made of the yard, houses, and buildings, but no trace could be found of any person likely to have committed the deed. As soon as the search was over the whole of the persons who had come into the yard and the members of the club were interrogated, their names and addresses taken, their pockets searched, and their clothes and hands examined. There were 28 of them. Each person was dealt with separately. They properly accounted for themselves, and were then allowed to leave. The houses were then visited a second time and the names of the people therein taken, and they were also examined and their rooms searched. The door of the loft was found locked on the inside, and it was forced. The loft was searched, but no trace of the murderer could be found. A description was taken of the body and circulated round the surrounding stations by wire. Inquiries were made in the street at the different houses, and no person could be found who heard any disturbance during the night. I minutely examined the wall near where the body was found, but could find no spots of blood. About 4:30 the body was removed to the mortuary. I then informed you (the coroner) verbally at your residence, and then returned to the yard and made another examination. It being daylight, I searched the walls thoroughly, but could find no marks of any person having scaled them. I then proceeded to the mortuary and took a correct description of the body and clothing, which is as follows :-I guessed her age at 42, length 5ft. 2in. complexion pale, hair dark brown and curly. I raised an eyelid and found that her eyes were light grey; I parted her lips and found that she had lost her upper teeth in front. She had an old black skirt and an old black jacket trimmed with fur. Fastened on the right side was a small bunch of flowers, consisting of maidenhair fern and a red rose. She had two light serge petticoats, white stockings, white chemise with insertion in front, side-spring boots, and black crape bonnet. In her jacket pocket I found two pocket-handkerchiefs, a thimble, and a piece of wool on a card. That description was then circulated. Since then the police engaged in the inquiry had made house to house inquiry in the immediate neighbourhood, with the result that we have been able to produce the witnesses which have appeared before you. The inquiry is still going on. Every endeavour is being made to arrest the assassin, but up to the present with success.
At this stage the inquiry was adjourned to Tuesday week.
We are requested to state that Sir Charles Warren has been making inquiries as to the practicability of employing trained bloodhounds for use in special cases in the streets of London; and having ascertained that dogs can be procured that have been accustomed to work a town, he is making immediate arrangements for their use in London.
The police authorities of Whitehall have had reproduced in facsimile and published on the walls of London the letter and post-card sent to the Central News agency. The language of the card and letter is of a brutal character, and is full of Americanisms. The handwriting, which is clear and plain; and disguised in part, is that of a person accustomed to write a round hand like that employed by clerks in offices. The exact colour of the ink and smears of blood are reproduced in the placard, and information is asked in identification of the handwriting. The post-card bears a tolerably clear imprint of a bloody thumb or finger-mark.
No arrest has been made or reported in the City up to a late hour last night in connexion with the East-end murders.
Yesterday afternoon, shortly after 3 o'clock, information was given at the police-station in Moor-lane, City, as to a man who had been seen in Liverpool-street at 20 minutes past 1 o'clock, and who had been followed to a publichouse in Chiswell-street. His conduct was stated to have been suspicious, and he was said to resemble the description given of the East-end murderer.
The daughter of the woman who was murdered in Mitre-square has been found. Her age is 19, and she is married. She states that her father, Thomas Conway, with whom the deceased cohabited for some time before she met with Kelly, is still living, but he has not yet been traced. It will be remembered that Kelly stated in the course of his evidence on Thursday, before the coroner, that when the deceased left him early last Saturday afternoon she told him she was going to try to find her daughter Annie. The latter, however, now states that she did not see her mother that day.
The funeral of the Mitre-square victim will take place next Monday, at Ilford.
A news agency has received a telegram from New York with respect to a statement alleged to have been made in that city by an English sailor bearing the peculiar name of Dodge. The statement is that he arrived in London from China on August 13, by the steamship Glenorchy, that he met at the Queen's Music-hall, Poplar, a Malay cook, and that the Malay said he had been robbed by a woman of bad character, and that unless he found the woman and recovered his money he would murder and mutilate every Whitechapel woman he met. The statement also includes the following description of the Malay:- "He was about 5ft. 7in. in height, 130lb. in weight, and apparently 35 years of age." Judging from these precise figures relating to the Malay's appearance, it is evident that Dodge must have scrutinized him very closely. Inquiries have been made by the news agency in London, but no information has been obtained in verification of the sailor's story. It appears that the Glenorchy returned to London from China on August 14.
Yesterday, at the Guildhall Police-court, before Mr. Alderman Stone, William Bull, 27, living at Stannard-road, Dalston, was charged on remand with having committed the murder in Mitre-square, Aldgate, on Sunday morning. The facts were given in The Times of Thursday. Mr. Savill (chief clerk) asked Inspector Izzard if he had made inquiries during the remand. Inspector Izzard. - I have, and the result is perfectly satisfactory. The prisoner for several years was engaged at Messrs. Rylands's and bore an irreproachable character. Recently he has given away to drink, and this is the result. His family are highly respectable. The Alderman. - Have you ascertained where he was on Saturday night? Inspector Izzard. - Yes; I have a gentleman in Court, a Mr. Day with whom the prisoner was on Saturday night till 12 o'clock. The Alderman. - It is with great regret that I find the law does not permit me to punish you for your conduct. The statement you made to the inspector on Tuesday night was without the least foundation in fact. At a time like this your acts are perfectly inexcusable. I must discharge you, and I hope you will be thoroughly ashamed of your bad behaviour. Prisoner. - Since I have been in prison I have signed the pledge. The Alderman. - And I hope you will keep it. Accused was then discharged.
Sir, - Now twice again are we confronted with the atrocious work of this assassin who chooses his poor victims from a class whose lives at the best are, of all known classes, every way the most pitiable - a struggle for daily sustenance only to be purchased by the basest physical abasement.
There will be, nay, there is already, a panic on the pavement; those who have to tread it in their sad midnight calling, one to which they had served an early apprenticeship, must be content to starve; or seeking foul lodgings - trade - as sought, not seeking, and this with scarce the chance of earning the cost of lodging, much less that of the food to sustain life in it.
It has been no writing on the wall which has thus warned the "unfortunates;" the order to depart is writ in crimson on that pavement, in those secluded spots, to which the wearied feet of the midnight seeker of the harlot's hire, by force of necessity, are but too willingly led.
When all the coroner's work is done, the sickening detail published for our whole Christian nation's perusal, then come the texts from which so many sermons will be preached, and now in ordinary pauper form these mangled remains will be committed to the earth, the fully ripened, but decayed fruit of "unfortunate" humanity; packed in the parish shells, scant covering of the shells which but lately clothed immortal souls. Then will be heard the voice of the cemetery chaplain - "It is sown in corruption; it is sown in dishonour." Had such graves echo power, how fitting would here be its effect! "God has taken to Himself the souls of our dear sisters here departed." Yes, ye of society, its upper class, ye, the dwellers in all attainable luxury, the fortunate of the earth, let your rank be what it may, your wealth a tale of millions, the Godward life of many of you ever in evidence, or the Godless life not less so; the Established Church of your nation proclaims in that solemn hour in which your own graves will be open, that these - the society labelled "unfortunates" - are before the God to whom you have been taken - your sisters. You may seek to ignore their existence. To speak of them at all is in bad taste; if forced to do so, it is as if they were a sort of human vermin, unclean parasites, a humanity affliction admitted in its existence, but so existent to be held as a matter of course; fortunately scattered where their presence does not intrude on that of those, the made of the same Creator, who dwell in all that the "fortunate" of this life can obtain of this life's enjoyment.
We seem to be on the verge of a creed that, as this state of things has so long existed, it is to be viewed as preordained, and therefore beyond human power to alleviate; it lies in our road of life, but we systematically pass by on the other side, and yet as Christians we affect to be taught of Christ.
The question, to me, seems now to be forced upon us. Is the arm of the Lord shortened, or are the hands which assume to be those by whom He would have his deeds of mercy done paralyzed? Is the axe to strike at the root of evil double-bladed, one edge fitted and sharp to deal with it in heathen lands, the other blunt and ill-adapted for home use? Are we to believe that tens of thousands of those our National Church proclaims to be our brothers and sisters, when dead, are living disgospelized, so born and reared as to be of a race the Gospel tidings and teachings cannot touch?
There is one crumb of comfort in the method by which these poor outcasts were done to death. There can have been little bodily suffering, yet who can say what that one instant feeling may have been, when the clutch of the murderer's hand on the throat of his victim flashed on her sense? This is he whose fell work had formed the theme of the "unfortunates'" talk for many an hour. How many hundreds of this class reach their graves, on the other hand, by a path of utter torment to mind and body, under all the suffering of the loathsome disease, the result of their foul lives? The "pavement" is a thing of the past, changed for the filthy bed from which they will never rise; no wages can now be earned. Those who still earn such, in compassion may help to stave off actual famine; may find the lodging-money. These can feel for a sister; every surrounding of these last days just such as that on which the life of sin has been spent. The end comes, scant preparation for removal to the contracting undertaker's premises, to wait a sufficient supply of such dead to remove to the cemetery - mere waste material of lodging-house life.
After all, some will say, is there anything novel in all this? Is it not just an everyday tale of the termination of the life of such sinners? Why force it on our attention? Why not confine all reading of this foul page of humanity to those whose official duty may force them to study it, or to those who have taken voluntarily on themselves the unsavoury task of trying to purify it; it is insulting to society that it should be written where society reads? I answer it is in society's own interest that I write. I wish to open eyes wilfully closed to dangers not less dangerous because thus shut out from sight.
It is well that the fact should be pressed that all rank, wealth, high position is held in trust, has its duties as well as its privileges. The deeds may not be engrossed, the breach penalty may not be open to the eye, the day of its enforcement may be delayed; but come it will, and that often when least expected. Long sufferance may seem to have indicated impunity, but such sufferance has its limits. Wealth and station in its embodiment may at one moment be inclined to cry "Ah, ha, I am warm." It may be the moment in which the warmth only precedes an eruption volcanic which brings destruction. In my poor opinion these are just the days when apathy to the condition of the lowest classes is most fraught with danger to all other classes.Lewes.
Sir, - It seems desirable, although it ought to be unnecessary, to point out, amid the general demand for further police action, that the citizens themselves of any city are the ultimate constabulary force of that city; that with them rests the final responsibility for the maintenance of order and decency in its streets; that without their support, readily and freely given under all circumstances, but specially organized in times of special danger, the Executive alone cannot fulfil its duties.
After some experience of what may be done in the back streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields by a few citizens who are prepared to guard the privileges they enjoy, we would urge Londoners to resume for a time their share of those functions which they have in part intrusted to the police, to lend their active and persistent support to that body, and to use the opportunity thus given for studying how our police force may be better fitted for its difficult task.
Members of the Streets Committee established in this neighbourhood for the maintenance of these principles are about in the streets every night under a systematic plan. They report every week in writing on the disturbances that have occurred, the action they or the police have taken, the state of the neighbourhood, &c. The materials thus accumulating will one day form the substance of a report which will be submitted to the public; but in the meantime the committee make representations, where it appears desirable, to the local and police authorities.
When the lovers of order have asserted their right to possess highway and byway alike in the face of those who brawl, when the owners of the houses that disgrace our byways have been obliged by the force of public opinion to perform their duties as landlords, when our local authorities have been roused by their masters, the people, to suppress disorderly houses, to cleanse and widen the streets, to pave and light the courts and alleys, the chief external conditions that favour murder will have been removed. But these things will never be accomplished so long as it is thought that the service of the State can be finally commuted by the payment of policemen, or that a public disaster like this series of murders is to be met by the offer of £1,000 reward.
Those of us who know Whitechapel know that the impulse that makes for murder is abroad in our streets every night; we are aware that these symptoms of unrighteousness can be made to disappear only by the salvation of individual character; but we feel that for this the action of the community must prepare the way. "Only the collected strength of the whole people, organized and (morally) armed to take the initiative - only it, is in a position to cope effectually with social misery. Well for us if we succeed in organizing our people in this sense."
THOMAS HANCOCK NUNN.
THOMAS G. GARDINER.
Toynbee-hall. Whitechapel, Oct. 3.
Sir, - You were good enough to insert a letter from Mr. F. Debenham in your issue of Sept. 29 calling attention to the Tenement Dwellings Company, and I should be glad if you would allow me to state more fully the aims of the company and some of the difficulties incident to its operations.
Our object is to buy at a fair price houses occupied in tenements by respectable people, to keep them in good repair and sanitary condition, and, when practicable, to reduce their rents; to act, in short, the part of a liberal landlord. It is a somewhat long step from this to the position proposed by Mr. Barnett in his recent letter to you. He asks that philanthropic persons should combine to buy up some of the property in the worst districts of Whitechapel, and manage it in such a way as to reform it. This is very easy to say; but there are few who know so well as Mr. Barnett how difficult it would be to carry out. There is, however, one difficulty of his own creating, which consists in the publicity he has given to his proposal, thereby inviting the owners of such property to raise their terms, as their houses are going to be bought by philanthropists, of course at a fancy price. I do not for a moment suppose that this view of the matter has escaped Mr. Barnett's notice, and I should be glad if he would state the reasons which have led him to set it aside. Whatever these may be, in the particular instance of Whitechapel, I cannot conceive that any material improvement in the dwellings and surroundings of the labouring classes can be effected so long as the execution of the sanitary laws is in the hands of authorities elected like the present local authorities, upon a franchise limited to the rate-paying class - the class many of whom are directly interested in high rents and absence of repairs. No doubt something may be done by the pressure of public opinion upon the local authority even as at present constituted, and particularly by such organized effort as the Mansion-house Council on the Dwellings of the Poor are able to apply; and I would urge upon all who have been moved to ask themselves if there is nothing they can do towards remedying the state of affairs depicted in connexion with the recent horrible murders to subscribe to the funds of the Council, the office of which is at 31, Imperial-buildings, Ludgate-circus. As things now stand, under what circumstances are owners of ill-built and worse repaired houses likely to offer them for sale? Will it not be when the question of executing repairs cannot be much longer delayed, or when the fear of dilapidations at the end of a lease begins to be felt? Then, if the owner can find a philanthropist foolish enough to buy his property upon the basis of the existing rents, he will drive a bargain in which there is likely to be a less of 20 or 30 per cent to the purchaser - a bargain which, if generally known, will tend to increase the value of dilapidated house property and raise rents of tenements. If, on the contrary, intending purchasers steadily decline to give more for houses than is consistent with moderate rents while keeping up repairs, laying by for rebuilding, and earning a safe 4 per cent upon the capital invested, while no stone is left unturned to make the ownership of bad property a losing game, we may then hope by degrees to remove much of the squalor of the poorer quarters of London.
ALFRED HOARE, Chairman Tenement Dwellings Company (Limited).
37, Fleet-street, London, Oct. 3.
Sir, - The terror which has naturally been so widespread among the masses in the districts where the recent shocking murders were committed was intense enough without its being aggravated by the gratuitous theory of the Coroner, that these horrible outrages were not the act of a maniac, but had been coolly committed by a sane person, who wished to earn a few pounds by gratifying the whims of an eccentric American anatomist. It will, no doubt, be found that the idea that Yankee enterprise gave a stimulus to these terrible atrocities is utterly baseless.
For weeks I have been expecting that some one would draw attention to the fact that precisely the same crimes were many years ago committed in Paris, and were ultimately found to have been the acts of a monomaniac.
Last summer, while travelling in France, I picked up and glanced over a French work resembling "Hone's Every Day Book," which gave an account of a remarkable criminal who must have strongly resembled the fiend who has created such consternation in the East-end of London. For months women of the lowest class of "unfortunates" were found murdered and mutilated in a shocking manner. In the poorest districts of the city a "reign of terror" prevailed. The police seemed powerless to afford any help or protection, and in spite of all their watchfulness fresh cases were from time to time reported, all the victims belonging to the same class, and all having been mutilated in the same fiendish way.
At last a girl one night was accosted in the street by a workman, who asked her to take a walk with him. When, by the light of a lamp, she saw his face, it inspired her with a strange feeling of fear and aversion; and it instantly flashed upon her that he must be the murderer. She therefore gave him in charge of the police, who, on inquiry, found that her woman's instinct had accomplished what had baffled the skill and the exertions of all their detectives. The long-sought criminal had been at last found.
It subsequently came to light that he had been impelled to commit these crimes by a brutal form of homicidal monomania. He had sense enough to know that from this class of women being out late at night, and being friendless and unprotected, he could indulge his horrible craze on them with comparative safety and impunity, and he therefore avoided selecting his victims from a more respectable class.
He was convicted and executed, to the great relief of the public; and if any persons were afterwards tempted to imitate him, his prompt punishment effectually deterred them.
This notorious case must be well known to the Parisian police and to thousands of persons in France, and if inquiry is made its history can be easily procured.
No doubt a ruffian like him has turned up in East London, and will be also detected. When he is, we must trust that he will meet with the same stern justice that was meted out to his French prototype.
Sir, - While the public are aghast at the atrocities against women of a certain class at the East-end of London is it not possible that out of this appalling evil some good may come if only suitable and prompt action be taken?
Great fear has come upon these unfortunate women, and for a time they avoid their accustomed haunts, though to many of them the loss of the wages of shame brings instantly the want of the barest necessities of life. Now is the opportunity to offer to these poor people, who at all times deserve our sympathy and help, a specially open invitation to forsake their evil lives and to return to the paths of virtue. The various societies which are constantly at work in this direction could not bear the strain of a sudden and large influx of refugees from the streets without large additional funds, and if the panic continues it might be needful to strengthen the organization as well as the finances of these societies. Among these who thus fly from the horrors of the streets, some no doubt would return to their old life when the panic was past, but if only a small proportion of the tens of thousands of London street walkers were rescued this crisis would not have occurred in vain.
If such a fund can be raised, I shall be willing to contribute £50 towards it, and many others will doubtless do much more than this.
15, Russell-square, Oct 2.
Sir, - In the Fortnightly of last January I ventured to recommend certain remedies for "distress in London." It was impossible in writing on that subject to omit reference to the lowest class of our population; and at this moment, when the veil that hung over the lives of that class has been rudely torn away, I beg that you will kindly allow me to repeat what I then suggested. My words were:-
"That some agency, official and voluntary, be formed to explore the haunts and lairs of the criminals and dangerous refuse of the population. It would need local authorities, detectives, laymen, and ministers of religion acting together. Such a raid might be tried on one district at first. We need knowledge in order to cope with the evil. Police facilities granted by Government to a volunteer committee would help in any organized effort to discover how deep the disease may penetrate. We must make a determined effort to deal with paupers and criminals, instead of, as at present, winking at their existence in our midst."
We have it on the authority of the Rev. S. Barnett, who, at all events, knows Whitechapel thoroughly, that the infected area there is not large. This may also be the case in other parts of London; but this will make the matter easier to deal with.
If the above suggestion is not considered feasible, I hope that the member for Whitechapel will, when Parliament meets, move for a Select Committee to inquire into the number of plague-spots, into the "dossing," or lodging-house system, and into the amount of supervision exercised by our police.