Saturday, 13 October 1888
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - Will you allow me space to thank those who have responded to my appeal in The Times of Tuesday last and to say that a list of contributions will appear early next week. I am advised that the sum required will be larger than my first estimate of the probable cost of the home and the necessary plant; but the response is so encouraging that I have no doubt of success. Contributions and promises of support should for the present be sent to me.
R. C. BEDFORD, Bishop Suffragan for East London.
Stainforth-house, Upper Clapton, E.
Sir, - Will you allow space to an invalid East London clergyman to allude to the subject-matter of the Bishop of Bedford's appeal? To strike while the iron is hot is good. But it is also most desirable not to do anything in a panic, lest matters are made worse instead of better. The importance of care and mature consideration comes out from a public notice that the manager of the Lyceum Theatre is going to assist in raising funds for more night refuges.
What could be more foolish, and more likely to accentuate the evils of middle-life prostitution? The Bishop of Bedford has most wisely deprecated any increase of night refuges. My experience of nearly 20 years in East London corroborates the caution of the Bishop that if there is any remedy at all it must be otherwise than by the increase of night refuges. I believe that the police will substantiate this view.
What, then, is the remedy? This will depend upon the nature and causes of the evil. I agree with the Bishop of Bedford that sheer necessity has to do with middle-life prostitution. But I regret to differ from him as to the share which that cause has. We can only speak from personal knowledge; and I have found one thing far more conducive to the production of this evil than any other - viz., strong drink. In the vast majority of such cases drink has been the originating and continues the stimulating cause. The appalling facilities for drinking in East London explain much.
Will, then, a "laundry" such as the Bishop of Bedford proposes be of any benefit? I say that it will, but not, in my judgement, to the extent which the Bishop so sanguinely anticipates. It will no doubt save a few; and that is something for which to be thankful. But far more will have to be done than can possibly be achieved by the laundry system now suggested. The drink traffic of East London will have to be grappled with. Legislative restrictions of a drastic character will have to be introduced to lessen the temptations and to reduce the facilities for drinking.
The whole publichouse system demands reform, not merely in regard to the hours, but also as to harbouring or encouraging prostitution in and from them. The police should be freed from the supervision of the publichouse system, and a separate force of detectives in plain-clothes constituted to supervise and to prosecute, both for drinking offences and acts of prostitution. This is important. Steps must also be taken to punish the men as well as the women. The male sex have far too much licence allowed them by the law. At present the law is unfair and oppressive to one sex. Let the balance be adjusted, and considerable improvement will appear in the morals of the masses.
One thing is worthy of notice. These middle-life women, who are said to be driven by downright starvation to vice, can find a home in the unions. Why do they not? Some few dislike the unions from a feeling of shame, and so choose a greater shame. But clergy, guardians, and union officials know that most refuse the home thus offered because of the discipline maintained within and the difficulty of obtaining drink. Many loathe the honest existence within unions because they love licence (or, as they term it, liberty) and strong drink. It is better to face facts than to ignore them.
How is this to be grappled with? I have long thought that there should be two grades of unions; one for the lazy, vicious, and criminal, and the other for the honest, distressed, and industrious. They should not be required to herd together under one stigma of reproach. This would remedy many evils raging today, and it would do something to save a few women from starving and then sinking into prostitution. But the magnitude and aggravated character of the evil cannot be reached to any appreciable extent by any one or more of the proposals, or by any hasty, spasmodic, and temporary effort of sentiment. The whole community must rise to the emergency, and, putting their shoulders to the wheel, take no rest until by combination of remedies, an arrest has been put to a great extent upon the vicious traffic in our midst.
The £2,000 asked by the Bishop of Bedford and the laundry suggested ought to be at once forthcoming to save a few. But what are these compared with the many who must be reached, if at all, by vaster and more thorough efforts?
The Vicarage, Old Ford, London, E., Oct., 10.
Sir, - With reference to the trials made with bloodhounds (mentioned in The Times of yesterday) in some of the London parks with a view of determining the probability of tracking murderers by the aid of canine instinct, I think it will be readily admitted by any one who has the least knowledge of the scenting power of dogs that the experiments instituted by Sir Charles Warren, or whoever is responsible for such silly proceedings, are practically of no value whatever in deciding as to whether the splendid animals in question would be likely to track to his hiding place a murderer who committed a crime similar in character to those which have lately horrified the whole country. Instead of wasting time in these foolish experiments (we may hear of another murder at any hour), I would suggest that a practical test as to the power of the bloodhounds might be made by endeavouring to track a person under conditions which it may be supposed the murderer of the Whitechapel victims got free. Several tests as to the capabilities of the animals might be made. For instance, a man should be given 15 or 20 minutes' start, and should make his way out of some side street across some great thoroughfare, intersected by tramcar rails, and on to some low lodging-house. Again, a trail should be laid on a man who makes his way along both frequented and unfrequented streets and on to some railway station, where he should take his ticket and travel to the next station. Various other variations in tracking should also be made.
Should it be considered unadvisable to try the experiments in Whitechapel, there are surely other places in and around London very similar in their surroundings where the hounds, hunted on the leash, might get a trail at a time of night and morning when the general public would not be attracted. If these trials were properly carried out I think we might get at some practical knowledge as to the manner in which the hounds should be worked when required.
I think too much faith should not be placed on the use of bloodhounds as detectives. But, in the name of common sense, let us not waste precious time in testing their tracking powers under conditions totally dissimilar to those which accompanied the murders at Whitechapel.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - It seems to me that Mr. Dover, like many other persons, expects too much of the police. If a London householder goes away and shuts up his house, leaving no one in charge, he certainly runs the risk that somebody acquainted with the circumstances may carefully remove his household goods in broad daylight, leaving the front door wide open during the process. How is a policeman, seeing men who in appearance may be respectable upholsterers' men openly removing furniture from a house in broad daylight, to know that a robbery is being effected?
The shoulders of the police are broad, but it is unreasonable that every householder should seek to place upon them the consequences of his own imprudence.
Mr. Dover mentions that his house is 300 yards from a police fixed point, as if this were an aggravation of what he complains of. But I have always understood the object of the "fixed point" to be that a constable shall always be at a known place and at call in case of need, not that he shall take in and form an accurate judgement of everything that happens within a radius of 300 yards from his point.
33, Union-grove, Clapham, Oct. 11.
The man arrested at Belfast on Thursday night on suspicion of being concerned in the East end murders still remains in custody pending the result of investigations. He was brought up at the police court yesterday morning. Constable Carland, who arrested him, deposed that the prisoner first gave the name of William John Forster and then John Forster. He said he had been two days in Greenock, before that in Glasgow, and before that in Edinburgh. He would give no other information as to his movements. He had in his possession nearly £20 in money, a silver lever watch and chain, and lady's necklet and locket. On the locket was the monogram "A.M.R." He had also some keys, and in a bag in his possession were three razors, a table knife, a small knife, as well as some watchmakers' appliances. The number of the watch is 1265. The prisoner was remanded for a week.