Thursday, 11 October 1888
A good deal of fresh evidence will be given at the adjourned inquest, which will be held to-day at the City Coroner's Court, Golden-lane, upon the body of the Mitre-square victim. Since the adjournment, Shelton, the coroner's officer, has, with the assistance of the City police authorities, discovered several new witnesses, including the daughter of the deceased, who was found to be occupying a respectable situation as a domestic in the neighbourhood of Kensington. She states that she had not seen her mother for some time, and certainly did not see her on the night she met her death. Two witnesses have also been found who state that they saw the deceased standing at the corner of Duke-street, Aldgate, a few minutes' walk from Mitre-square. This was as near as they can recollect about half-past 1 o'clock, and she was then alone. They recognized her on account of the white apron she was wearing. The contents of the deceased's stomach have been analysed, but no trace of a narcotic can be discovered. Ten witnesses will be called to-day, and the coroner hopes to conclude the inquiry this sitting.
Sir Alfred Kirby, colonel of the Tower Hamlets Engineers, recently made an offer to provide 30 or 50 men belonging to that regiment for service in connexion with tracking the perpetrator of the Whitechapel and Aldgate tragedies. The Home Secretary has just written to Sir Alfred saying that, having consulted Sir Charles Warren, he had come to the conclusion that it would not be advisable to put the men on for service. It is thought that several considerations have pointed to this determination, the principal being that in the event of any injury happening to the men the question of compensation might be attended with some difficulty.
Sir, - There is one statement in your otherwise very exact account of the trials of bloodhounds in Hyde Park which I shall be glad to be allowed to correct.
My hounds Barnaby and Burgho have not been purchased by Sir Charles Warren for the use of the police.
To the Editor of The Times
To the Editor of The Times
It is to be hoped that the excellent letter of Sir Charles Warren, which was given to your readers on the 4th, will have had the effect of somewhat allaying the misgivings as to the efficiency of the police force which recent events in the east of London appear to have roused among Londoners. To my mind there is not, and never has been, any substantial cause for apprehension on that score. It is always easy to jump from a minor premise to a foregone conclusion, provided that the major premise be dispensed with and by this process of reasoning, the fact that the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders has hitherto escaped detection may be held to prove that the police force is, as regards its detective element, inefficient, but by this process only. Those who thus hastily form their judgement of course assume that the police have opportunities which they are not turning to the best account. But where is the evidence of this? A detective, be it remembered, can no more get on the track of a criminal without a clue than a hound can hunt a fox without a scent; but - and here we come to the gist of the matter - while a fox cannot travel without leaving a scent behind him, a criminal may, although he seldom does, succeed in escaping from the scene of his crime without leaving the slightest trace of his route or indication of his personality. As a rule, either from want of education, from natural dullness, from carelessness or forgetfulness, some small thing is done or left undone which starts as the starting point of pursuit - it may be a bit of gravel in a horse's foot, a smear of brown paint on a lady's dress, or even a single straw. The slip of the tongue by which Houseman, the confederate of Eugene Aram, proclaimed his guilt will occur to many, "That is no more Dan Clark's bone than it is mine." Something, I say, there generally is, and something there must be for guidance if a crime is to be detected, so long a detectives are but human, whatever may be their skill and experience. But there is no reason why a particular criminal should not combine in himself the various qualifications requisite for eluding discovery. That these six murders have been the work of the same hand we are all, I think, pretty well agreed; and on this hypothesis the accumulated experience of the criminal tells in his favour and against detection on the very ratio of iteration. Now Sir Charles Warren has forcibly pointed out that the Whitechapel murders were so arranged as to leave no clue whatever; and it appears to be beyond question that in the present instance we are concerned with one who is a consummate master of his art and as wide awake to contingencies as any detective.
Sir Charles Warren has hit the right nail on the head in telling the Whitechapel District Board of Works that "the very fact that you (they) be unaware of what the Detective Department is doing is only the stronger proof that it is doing its work with secrecy and efficiency." There are apparently some wiseacres who cannot be satisfied unless they see everything, detectives included, with their own eyes, and hear everything with their own ears. If we all really knew exactly what detectives are doing and where they are working, then woe betide us. The detective for our wise friends would be the gentleman in the "House in the Marsh," who solemnly reports himself to another gentleman who proves to be the very man "wanted", and who forthwith proceeds to drug his interviewer in the most effective manner. Readers of Gaborian may remember by way of contrast the interview between the Mayor of Corbeil and M. Lecoq. A terrible murder has been committed, and as a matter of course the great detective is summoned from Paris. The civic dignitary, who is much scandalized by Lecoq's very ordinary dress, instead of the tightly buttoned frock coat with military stock collar, that he had expected, and by his somewhat late arrival in court, offers to explain what has occurred. "Oh, that's quite useless," retorted Lecoq... "I've been here the last two hours." In fact, he had been quietly poking about among the crowd, and had learned all that there was to know. It would be with some sense of humiliation that we should read the exciting tales of Gaboriac, of A.K. Green, and of Laurence Lynch (E. Murdoch), if we were obliged to believe that, whatever may be the case in France and America, we have at home no match for M. Lecoq, Dick Stanhope, Van Vernet and Mr. Gryce. I have little or no knowledge personally of our present detective staff; but if the history of the dynamite outrages is to be taken as a criterion I do not think that we have much cause for misgivings.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
To the Editor of The Times.
To the Editor of The Times.
Allow me to ask a question a propos of Sir Charles Warren's announcement published in your issue of this morning. Why should such a thing as a female detective be unheard of in the land? A clever woman of unobtrusive dress and appearance (she need not be 5ft 7in) would possess over her masculine rivals not a few advantages. She would pass unsuspected where a man would be instantly noticed; she could extract gossip from other women much more freely; she would move through the streets and courts without waking the echoes of the pavement by a sonorous military tread; and, lastly, she would be in a position to employ for whatsoever it may be worth that gift of intuitive quickness and "mother wit" with which her sex is commonly credited. Your readers who may be familiar with the "History of the Crimean War" will remember the splendid chapter wherein Mr. Kinglake sets forth how the masculine minds of all the generals and War Office dignitaries together failed to grapple with the problem of the hospitals, and how the feminine mind, impersonated in Miss Nightingale and her little band of nurses, came to the rescue and out of chaos and indescribable misery brought order and relief. Is it not worth trying now in another public difficulty whether womanly faculties may not again be useful? A keen eyed woman might do as well in her way as those keen nosed bloodhounds (of whose official engagement I rejoice to hear) may, we hope, do in their peculiar line. Should it so fall out that the demon of Whitechapel prove really to be, as Mr. Baxter seems to suspect, a physiologist delirious with cruelty, and should the hounds be the means of his capture, poetic justice will be complete.
I am, Sir, &c.,
Frances Power Cobbe.
No 1, Victoria street, S.W., Oct. 10.
WILLIAM GRIFFITHS, a young man, described as a general dealer, of 1, Mildmay-avenue, Islington, was charged before Mr. Bros with being drunk and disorderly at Essex-road, at 1 o'clock yesterday morning. Police-constable 200 J deposed that he was on duty in Essex-road, when the prisoner came to him and said, "I want to be taken to the police-station. If you do not take me I shall murder somebody to-night. I am Jack the Ripper." Prisoner at the same time produced a rough looking pocket-knife. He did not open it, but made an attempt to do so. Witness told prisoner to go home, but he went into a neighbouring publichouse and came out again and fell down. Witness, thinking he was in a fit, picked him up, and then, finding he was drunk, got assistance and took him to the police-station. In reply to the magistrate prisoner said he was very sorry. It was a drunken freak, and he had no intention of injuring any one. The magistrate said it was a very foolish freak, and prisoner must find one surety in £5 to keep the peace for three months, or go to prison for 21 days.
To the Editor of The Times
To the Editor of The Times
My attention has just been called to Mr. Walter Hazell's letter in Saturday's issue of The Times.
Nine years ago I came to live in Ratcliff Highway with the simple determination to find out how best to help that class of poor, miserable women whose mode of living has been so prominently brought forward by the horrible events of the past few weeks. During all this time I have been able to keep an open door for them, and with my fellow helpers have been learning, as we could only learn by experience, how most wisely and effectively to help those who come to us. The work has been very quietly carried on, but our houses have always been full to overflowing, and while hundreds of young girls and children have been rescued from the most dangerous surroundings, trained as little servants, emigrated to the colonies, and in other ways given a fair start in life, still many more from among the fallen have found our home a "bridge of hope" by which they have passed on to better things.
The revelation of existence in Whitechapel lodging houses and in the streets of our great city must not simply evoke words of commiseration or be allowed to die out as a nine days' wonder, but must surely result in very practical measures being adopted for permanently benefitting those at least who are willing to be helped. Hundreds of women in this sad East end lead their degraded lives of sin for daily bread, or to secure a night's shelter in a fourpenny lodging house, a fact of which none can now plead ignorance, for the horrors of a few weeks (to our shame as a nation be it said) have brought out in awful relief the conditions under which so many of our fellow creatures exist, and which, though told persistently and without exaggeration by East end workers, have made but little impression.
Finding that the missing link in the work in Ratcliff Highway was a night shelter, we have, during the past year, built one as a wing to our new refuge, and this will be opened on the 30th inst. by the Bishop of Bedford, although circumstances have compelled us already to give shelter in it to many who needed immediate help. Night shelters, answering only the purposes of a casual ward, may be the means of as much harm as good, but, managed with judicious discrimination and constant personal supervision, I believe that our "bridge of hope" night shelter will be an effectual means of helping not only those who have fallen but of saving very many friendless young girls from utter despair, when they come to their last resources. At this moment the strain of the work is very great. While people are devising, and very rightly so, how best to organise new methods and larger schemes, it sometimes appears that those who have been plodding on in the midst of the misery, and who have to bear the brunt of sudden emergencies, are apt to be forgotten, and however unwillingly we do so, it seems right to call attention to our present need of financial help. We are always thankful to see visitors, or to send reports if desired.
Apologising for taking up so much of your valuable space,
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
Mary H. Steer, Hon. Supt., Ratcliff Highway Refuge, St. George's in the Easy, London, E. October 8.