SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1888
EXTRAORDINARY AFFAIR. - It has just transpired that a young woman, named Annie Murphy, living at Sanderstead-road, Croydon, was stopped on Monday night last, when in the Brighton-road, near her home, by a tall, thin man, who suddenly put his arm round her. She struggled and screamed, and a policeman who was near ran at once to the spot. By the time that he arrived, however, the man had got away, and the young woman only complaining that he had embraced her, the matter was not followed up. Later in the evening, however, she found that her dress was cut, and that she had been stabbed in the breast. She immediately went to a doctor, and informed the police, who are now searching for her assailant. The woman says she did not feel the stab at the time.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
The SPEAKER took the chair at three o'clock.
Mr. MATTHEWS stated, in answer to Mr. Howell, that in the main the regulations for the inspection, registration, and prevention of overcrowding of common lodging-houses in the metropolis were satisfactory. At the same time he thought they were capable of being strengthened, especially with reference to sanitary matters.
Mr. HOWELL asked whether the right hon. gentleman was aware that the majority of the dreadful crimes committed recently at the East-end were associated with common lodging-houses.
Mr. MATTHEWS: I cannot assent to that proposition in so general a form.
ALLEGED ILL-TREATMENT OF PAUPER CHILDREN.
Mr. RITCHIE, replying to Mr. Conybeare, said the alleged ill-treatment of children in the St. George's Workhouse, Southwark, was the subject of inquiry.
POLICE INTELLIGENCE. BOW-STREET. - MAN IN WOMAN'S CLOTHES. - A man named Edward Shannon, 44, a bricklayer, was brought up as a suspected person loitering for the supposed purpose of committing a felony. - Mr. Church, a jobmaster, of Keppel-street, stated that on Thursday night, at eleven o'clock, he saw the prisoner in the neighbourhood dressed in woman's clothes. He followed him into Bedford-place, and owing to the suspicious manner in which he entered a doorway witness gave information to the police, and the accused was taken into custody. - Police-constable 299 E deposed that he touched Shannon on the shoulder and really thought he was a woman until he spoke, and said, "I am here on a bit of business." At the station he stated that he was looking out for "Jack the Ripper." He was wearing a hat and veil and a skirt. - Mr. Bridge remanded him for inquiries.
IS A CIGAR "REFRESHMENT?" - John Cooper, manager of the Chancery Tavern (also known as "Webb's"), Chancery-lane, was summoned for serving Police-constable 158 E with a cigar during the time the said constable was on duty. - Mr. A. J. Ford appeared for the defendant. - The act was not disputed. - The constable was stationed on fixed duty at the top of Chancery-lane, and said that on the night of Saturday, the 10th inst., two gentlemen asked him to direct them as to which omnibus they should take to go to Walham-green. He told them; they asked him to drink, he refused, and they said they would leave the price of a cigar for him at the public-house. It was this he called for, first taking off his armlet so that the barmaid should not know he was on duty. - Mr. Ford observed that he had yet to learn that a cigar was "refreshment." He remembered a period of his youth when it certainly could not be so described. He thought there was no case to answer. - Mr. Bridge said really there was no case. He did not think the smallest blame attached to the landlord. It was not for him to say whether any blame attached to the constable, but he did not see it. - The summons was accordingly dismissed.
SOME weeks ago a little girl named SHANNON was rescued from a house frequented by disorderly women and sent by a magistrate to the St. George's Workhouse. She had splendid golden hair when she was admitted; but when she came out her shinning locks were four or five inches shorter, and the missing hair was actually traced to the shop of a doll-maker in the neighbourhood. The master of the workhouse could not give any explanation. CHARLES DICKENS used to say that whenever any attack was made on any public official it invariably turned out that the particular person impeached was remarkable above his colleagues for devotion to duty. So we are not at all surprised that the child "had been in charge of an attendant named RIXON, who had occupied the position for seven years, and had always been found to give the children every care and attention." But, then, who cut off the child's hair, and who sold it to the doll-maker? The Vicar of Wakefield remarked that the indigent could be clothed in the trimmings of the vain; but here we have the poor child, orphaned through the death or degraded life of her mother, forced to give up her long golden hair in order that a doll might be decked out for some little aristocrat at the West-end. We know that Breton girls sell their magnificent tresses to adorn the heads of beauties in London and Paris; still the sacrifice is voluntary and the reward high. The poor little thing in the workhouse, however, was deliberately robbed, and the woman who cut off the hair and sold it is simply a thief who ought to be in gaol. Nor can we acquit the master of neglect, when such things are done in his workhouse without his knowledge or with his consent. Nor does the scandalous case end here. Why was the girl sent to the workhouse at all? Under no circumstances should a child be forced to herd with adult paupers. There are district schools and several refuges where young people can be brought up without the inevitable workhouse taint. When the little girl was rescued from the low lodging-house, why was she not sent to some institution in town or country where she could escape the harsh manners and bad influence of workhouse officials, who may know how to deal with hardened adults, but are utterly unfit to manage children? Our only hope of lifting our poor populations out of the grimy groove of their industrial life in large cities is to educate and train the children, separating them from the taints of pauperism and dependence, and infusing into them fresh life. To bring up children in the workhouse is to create the adult paupers of twenty years hence.
How to deal with destitute children is the most difficult problem of our day. No one solution will meet the case, because the children left to the compassion of the community are of all kinds and conditions. Some are orphans who while their parents' lived were decently reared; others are the offspring of men in prison, or of women who lead vicious lives. Then there are the boys and girls whose parents are too poor to clothe and feed them. The children of pauper inmates form another class. On Tuesday there was an influential meeting at Stepney to discuss a proposal for the establishment of two lodging-houses in the lowest districts of East London to be devoted to the nightly reception of boys and girls found destitute. The object is humane, but may there not be some danger that if we take off the street and shelter and feed for the night all the children found starving we shall make young vagabondage a delightful occupation? If every boy and girl, as the promoters propose, is to be sure of a lodging, a bed, and a little warm food every night, they will not have much inducement to seek permanent occupation and hard work. At present there is the greatest difficulty in securing labour, when the worker must also be steady, cleanly, civil, and submissive to discipline. The lower ranks of domestic service, where very little is required, instead of being crowded with candidates, are not even fairly supplied. Our young poor in cities and large towns prefer liberty and half-starvation to ample diet coupled with anything like restraint. The key of the streets is valued by them as highly as the latch-key of his father's house by a gay bachelor of twenty-one. For their undisciplined natures the shops, the sights, the cheerfulness, and the chances of the vast Metropolis have a fatal fascination. The causes that turn them away from this open-air career are, first, our climate, which drenches and pinches them in winter-time, and secondly, the pangs of hunger, which drive them back into what they consider the slavery of steady toil. We doubt, therefore, the wisdom of shelter and food, offered indiscriminately and by the night, to every street Arab who chooses to accept it. A like objection applies to the great majority of the soup-kitchens opened at the East-end during winter. The more you proffer food to persons who are not at work the more you take away that conscription of hunger which is now the recruiting-sergeant of the army of toil. But are the children, then, to starve? Certainly not. We agree with the promoters that they should not be allowed to wander homeless and hungry through our streets either by night or day; but we contend that any assistance should be directed, not to casual help, but to permanent elevation. Find out why the boy or girl is destitute. Trace them to their homes. If the parent is neglectful either through drunkenness or hardness of heart, summon him to a police-court, get him punished, and send the child to a reformatory, making the father pay for its maintenance if he can afford it. Doles of money or food and casual lodgings for waifs and strays simply encourage idleness, vagabondage, and mendicity. As it is, there are thousands of disreputable fathers and mothers who send their children into the streets, compelling them to beg. When they learn that some benevolent ladies and gentlemen are going to give their outcast boys and girls a bed and a bowl of soup every night, any reluctance they may have hitherto felt about turning them out will disappear. Other fathers and mothers, who now strive to feed and house their children, will discover that they can throw off parental responsibility, and entrust their children to the hospitality of the new refuges. We do not object to the relief itself; we object to the manner of giving such aid. It should be accompanied by inquiry; the parents should have the responsibility brought home to them; the care, assistance, and control should not be occasional, but steady. If you pour alms recklessly amongst the needy of the East-end, you water the plant of pauperism, making it flourish, when all your care ought to be directed to rooting it out. The curse of London is casual help given by thoughtless Samaritans, who fling away their twopences and never come back to ask for an account.
This objection does not apply to the feeding of the children in elementary schools. The State has taken these children from their homes, where they might be helping their mothers, and from the streets, where they might pick up odd jobs. As we insist on their time and attention and debar them from work, in order that they may be educated, we owe them something in return. We ought to see that their stomachs are not empty while we are cramming their little heads. They are not like the casual night-birds whom the new scheme would take in and feed; they are steady and punctual scholars, doing their best to learn. They deserve assistance, and at very little cost we could give them all a penny dinner. We can compel the parents, if able, to repay the cost; but, at all events, we ought to secure the food. No statute of our time has been so beneficial as the great Act of 1870, associated for ever with Mr. FORSTER'S name. It was not a party measure; he offended extreme Liberals and extreme Tories by his moderation and statesmanship. Yet, in years to come, when the deeds and words of garrulous party leaders are forgotten, his splendid victory will be remembered. Especially marked are its results on juvenile crime. In 1869 - the year before the Act was passed - there were over ten thousand children committed for various offences. At that time England had a population of twenty-one millions. In 1886 there were six millions more, and in the increased proportion there might have been thirteen thousand young criminals, and probably would have been, had the Education Act not been passed. Yet the number had actually decreased to more than one-half; their were not five thousand children committed when the Act had been in operation for sixteen years. At Birmingham on Wednesday Mr. DALE quoted these statistics, and added forcibly: "It costs less to educate a child, in order to save the child from being a criminal, than to keep the child when it has become a criminal through want of education. The school is cheaper than the gaol, and the teacher is cheaper than the warder. That, however, is a very ignoble view of the great results which have been achieved by the extension of elementary education. Let me put the statistics in another form. Eight thousand children have been saved from a criminal life. Can you imagine what that means for their fathers and mothers, to whom they are as dear as your children are to you? Some of these children, who might have been led into crime by association with evil companions, are the children of honest, upright, and industrious working people. Can you imagine the misery and shame that have been saved to all those homes, the anguish that has been saved to the hearts of all those parents, by protecting the eight thousand children from the temptations that would have led them into crime? Some of those children, no doubt, are children of parents themselves criminal; they would have grown up to become criminal men and women, and the parents of other criminals, and we have cut off the entail." It is in this direction of education, and all that goes with steady training and care, that we must seek salvation - not in alms, or doles, or casual assistance. If we throw halfpennies into the mud we make gutter-babies of our street boys and girls, and if we squander help without rigid inquiry we shall perpetuate the pauperism of the East-end.
A CURIOUS addition to the inner history of the Theatre Royal, Drury-lane, has been made by an incidental allusion in Mr. JOHN COLEMAN'S entertaining "Players and Playwrights" to the bygone custom of "packing" theatrical audiences. The vivacious writer tells us that a former lessee of Old Drury maintained in permanent employment a functionary known as "Jack the Packer," who was always ready to provide a compact cohort of loud-voiced and horny-handed auxiliaries to make an uproar in the theatre in the interests of the management. These trusty myrmidons were known as "bulldogs"; and on one occasion the lessee in question, being anxious to counteract a quasi-political demonstration which he had reason to believe would be attempted on a given evening, sent for "jack the Packer," and instructed him to lay on a hundred of his bulldogs. Next the energetic manager arranged with a friend who was in the building line to secure the services of another five-score strong men and willing, to shout down the potential political demonstrators; and finally, he enlisted the aid of another confidential friend, who was well-known in athletic circles, to send him fifty muscular runners, wrestlers, "walkists," and so forth, with lungs of leather and arms to match. ...
[Continues for another column and a half giving instances of other forms of "packing." I simply include this brief extract for the naming of "Jack the Packer."]