17 October 1888
Under this title Mr. and Mrs. Barnett have produced a volume of essays (Longmans, Green & Co.), which sum up the experience of fifteen years' work in the East-end. Men may enjoy listening to theories, but after all, an ounce of practice is worth a pound of precept, and fifteen years spent in the midst of poverty and misery is worth fifteen hundred years of talk on the same subjects. The great controversy as to what the State ought to do for the individual, and what the individual for himself, has left the sphere of abstract discussion and come down to earth. Men turn with a certain weariness from the warring philosopher to the practical man, and askk him, "What, as a matter of fact, do you find that the individual can do best for himself, and what the State best for him?" And in this book a reply is attempted to this question, and a more or less fragmentary scheme of "Practicable Socialism" set forth. We will try to summarise some of the conclusions arrived at for the benefit of our readers. Mr. Barnett leads off with an essay on the
And, after a careful analysis of the working man's present income and expenditure, he arrives at the conclusion that, "while wages are at the present rate the large mass of our people cannot get enough food to maintain them even in robust health," merely as far as the body is concerned, much less can they sustain their mental and moral health. And this evil cannot be removed by charity, or by free dinners - which lower wages and lighten parental responsibility - or, as Mr. Barnett says in the second essay, on "Relief Funds," by subscriptions-lists and wholesale doles. The relief fund of 1886 not only failed to relieve distress but
In the East-end by increasing faith in chance, and belief in the virtue of dishonesty, and by interfering with the slower and surer methods of systematic East-end workers. But there are more permanent causes for the steady increase of poverty in London. Among these are (1) the deterioration of physique going on in our lower urban population; (2) the disrepute into which saving has fallen; (3) the growing animosity of the poor against the rich; and, last but not least (4) the customs of the rich man in living where he pleases, and of everyone in getting the most for his money. Absenteeism and greed are to a large extent at the bottom of our poverty. Among the remedies he proposes are - (1) The organisation of unskilled labour, (2) the organisation of the helpers of the poor (3) the election of working men as guardians; and in later essays he adds to these - (4) University settlements as a means of bridging over the gulf between rich and poor, and (5) the action of Town Councils in applying the Sanitary Acts and the Acts for better housing of the people. As to the reluctance of the Council to apply these latter Acts on the ground of expense, he says, "it would not seem impossible if Town Councils recognised that on them has come the care of the people, and that money is not lost which is returned in longer and better life." There is
What is wanted is that Town Councils should realise their own legal powers. "The People, not Politics" should be the cry of social reformers. Other means of relieving poverty are (6) the assistance of volunteers in reading-rooms, clubs, or institutions; and (7) the conversion of the present English Church into a truly National Church. Mr. Barnett does not believe in either teetotalism or thrift as final; what he claims is more joy, more light and more life for the larger half of the English people. Mrs. Barnett supplements this demand by a charming essay on "Passionless reformers," in which she shows how flowers, music, and, art galleries may become real means of raising the people; while in her articles on "At Home to the Poor" and "Pictures for the People" she describes how human intercourse on an equal level - treating the poor as friends, and not as subjects for charity - may help to raise them to dignity and self-respect, and how a well-selected art gallery has proved an immense source of pleasure and education to those who are cut off from pictures. In an admirable article on "Sensationalism and Social Reform," Mr. Barnett condemns the "crying and striving" mode of reformation with its "bitter cries," as "modern Babylons." This method leads, he says, to apathy, to party spirit, to mere organisations in place of associations, and to impatience in applying remedies. The only political socialism that he advocates is the extension and development of the present socialistic laws - (1) of the Poor Law, so that the old may have pensions, the workhouses be made schools of industry, and medical relief be brought within the reach of every citizen in time of sickness; (2) of the Education Act, so that it should be possible for a child to mount up straight from the Board School to the University; (3) of the Free Libraries Act, and the Parks Act, and (4) of the Artisans' Dwellings Acts. Thus
Never heard of "blood books"? Ask the first street arab what are his main resources of his literary culture, and you will know what they are. Better still, consult some superintendent of a destitute boys' home - say, the Superintendent of the Shaftesbury Institute, in Shaftesbury-avenue, the new street leading from Oxford-street to Piccadilly-circus, whom I visited yesterday.
"You here - been reading blood books?" is the question which the superintendent is certain to put to any small refugee who looks plumper and less miserable than his fellow outcasts. And the answer oftener than not confirms the superintendent's suspicions.
Blood books, the superintendent in the Avenue tells me, are, in an enormous proportion of cases, the secret of juvenile vagrancy. They are the kind of literature which stuffs the juvenile imagination with the romance of crime, and the heroes of which are Dick Turpin, Jack Shepherd - sure to be followed by Jack the Ripper. Blood books, says the superintendent - and his experience is a long one - inspire their readers with an ardour for adventure to indulge in which one must bolt from home. The romance ends the very first night in a snooze in some blind alley, or on the Thames-embankment, and with every additional hour mis-spent the small prodigal finds it more difficult to make tracks for the parental hearth.
I was astounded when he assured me that fully three-fourths of the small vagrants, who excite the pity of the charitable, on the Thames bridges, on the Embankment, in the square, in the parks, are vagrants not from the street of poverty but from choice - determined, possible, by the diabolical fascination of the "blood book." "Blood book," be it understood, is the expressive slang word by which that sort of literature is known among its victims. The more blood the greater the romance. "Three-fourths!" I exclaimed; "is that possible?" "I am certain of it," was the answer; and he ought to know.
I wonder whether it is to their blood-book culture that some of these truant, sham destitutes owe their marvellous gift for inventing an account of themselves. Some of the stories about their readiness are very amusing. Some time ago a perfect cherub (as he appeared to be) of a destitute boy found his way to the Shaftesbury Refuge. With his long golden hair and pretty face, and unwashed grimy person, he looked like an angel dropped into the gutter. Yet he was in trouble for having "prigged" a pitchfork (!) in Covent-garden Market. "He as prigs what isn't his'n, when he's ketched he's put in prison." But the Cherub was given a trial at the refuge instead. And what a heartrending story the Cherub told! A little while before, father, mother, and he - the Cherub - had tramped from the country to London. He was a country-born Cherub this. His mother died. His father one day "sloped," when he and his boy were looking at some sort of a show in the street. On turning round he saw that his father had gone. So the Cherub slept on the sconce that night. He fell into the company of bad boys - blood-book boys, perhaps craving to try their Dick Turpin sleight of hand on pitchforks in Covent-garden. The Cherub told his mournful story so unaffectedly that the superintendent took him in, and the Cherub lived for a while in clover. Four weeks after that the superintendent wanted some boy to go on an errand to some distant part of town. "I know the place," exclaimed the Cherub, jumping up like a shot. "You do," returned the superintendent quietly; "how's that?" And the pair gazed hard at one another until the Cherub looked mightily foolish. He was watched. As Christmas day he grew more and more restless. He let out his secret. His father was discovered, and his mother also, both living comfortably in the quarter with which the Cherub in an unguarded moment declared his acquaintance. The prodigal fell on his mother's neck, and the chances are a thousand to one that he was stuffed pudding.
One other story. A small boy, hungry and destitute, knocked at the refuge door one night at 8 p.m. His tale was most pitiful, substance of it being that his father and mother were a year dead, and that all that time he had been wandering the streets. He was taken in. They gave him a warm bath. How he appreciated it! It reminded him of old times and better days. He was prospering in the Refuge, and time was gradually healing the wounds of his affectionate memory, when his father and mother were discovered living in a nice house at the East-end. He was restored to his sorrowing family. A few weeks subsequently an inquiry was made at the Refuge in reference to this very boy by the secretary of another charitable institution. The facts were that the boy ran away a second time, told the same cock-and-bull story at his new place of call, but was detected by the initials on the Shaftesbury Refuge shirt, which he appropriated when he was dismissed.
Such are the victims of "blood books." And now let us ask, Can nothing be done, legislatively, to prevent - by soundly punishing the publishers and vendors - the dissemination of this villainous rubbish? The Legislature has already done something, and will probably do more next session to punish those who corporeally maltreat children. Shall nothing be done to punish the corruptors of their souls? There is a law against immoral publications. But this law leaves untouched some of the very worst offenders against society is only too obvious from the profusion of this execrable literature, "blood books." I need not allude to the recent events which lend to such publications an additional significance.
Though we hear a great many generalities about the evil effects of sensational literature, it is rare that crime is so directly traceable to "penny dreadfuls" and suchlike publications as it is in the case of the lads who have confessed to committing murder, robbery, and arson at Tunbridge Wells. "Upon Dobell were found copies of a sensational publication," and "his mother recently burnt a number of penny dreadfuls in his possession." That is the whole explanation.
Mr. William Turnham, a licensed victualler and proprietor of the Fairleigh Hotel, Amhurst-road, Stoke Newington, committed suicide by hanging himself to a beam in the wine cellar. His body was discovered by his wife and son, who, missing him from the house, went in search of him.
Some further details of the alleged attempted murder of the woman, Sarah Brett, in Hornby-road, Peckham, on Monday night (for which the two men, Thomas Oulsy and Frank Hall, stand remanded from Lambeth Police-court), transpired this morning. The wound in the woman's neck is happily not of such a serious nature as was at first anticipated. Dr. Chabot, the medical officer of the infirmary, is now of the opinion that the sufferer will recover. She has been able to make a statement to the police. In effect, she says that on Monday night the two men came home drunk, and she heard one say to the other, "I'll give you 10s. if you'll do the Whitechapel job with her," or some words to that effect. She endeavoured to run out of the house, when one of the men struck her on the head with a hand sewing-machine, knocking her almost senseless to the ground. The other man seized the carving-knife, and hacked away at her throat.
MORE REMAINS FOUND
TRACKED BY A DOG
More remains have been discovered at Whitehall, at the very spot where the trunk of a female was found a fortnight since. Mr. Jasper T.C. Waring had placed a Spitzbergen dog at the service of the authorities, with the purpose, of course, of utilising its power of scenting. Between 11 and 12 this morning it was taken to the vault where the previous discovery was made. Soon the animal was sniffing suspiciously at a mound of earth. The policeman at once obtained some tools and proceeded to excavate. The excitement of the animal momentarily increased as the operation proceeded. At last he seized hold of an object which had been turned up by the spade. At once it was examined. A portion of the damp soil still adhered to it, but was easily seen to be a portion of a human leg - severed at the knee-joint. Upon the leg was a woollen substance, presumes to be a stocking. The doctor was at once sent for, and he immediately took charge of the limb. The singular part of the business is that the police had not hitherto discovered the leg. It had been thought that they had made a careful search of the whole surroundings of the spot where the trunk had been found. Some of the men maintain that they had. If their assertion is correct, then the leg must have been placed there since - which would appear to be impossible, considering the strict guard surrounding the premises since the first discovery. The detectives engaged in this affair have already had a consultation.
An Echo reporter visited the grounds of the New Police Buildings this afternoon. Every avenue of access to the buildings is jealously guarded by police officers. Indeed, this precaution has been taken ever since the discovery of the mutilated female body recently. During the interval that has elapsed since the discovery the police have pursued their inquiries with unrelaxed diligence. No clue, however, could be found. It was consequently suggested that, though the ground had been carefully searched, a dog should be employed, several of the officers engaged in the case expressing the opinion that other remains had been deposited within the building, owing to the fact that the soil is in a very loose condition. The vault in which the body was found is a cavity which will, when completed, be lighted artificially means. It is approached through winding and intricate passages, and the searching operations had to be carried on this morning by the aid of "bull's-eyes." The leg appeared to be enveloped in a portion of stocking, but this, on subsequent examination, was, it is said, proved to be of a texture somewhat similar to that in which the trunk was carefully enclosed. Dr. Bond, the Divisional Surgeon, was sent for immediately, and the leg was handed over to his care, to be compared in due course with the other portion of the body, which still lies at the Millbank-street Mortuary. The dog was again set to work in the vault, and one of the workmen told our reporter, succeeded in unearthing another fragment of a human frame. This is described as a portion of foot, and lay a few feet from where the body was found. With regard to this the police are extremely reticent. They refuse to satisfy any inquiries or to describe the second discovery. Amongst the workmen there is a great deal of excitement, and shortly after the discovery there was a small gathering of people in the vicinity of the Police Buildings.
LEG FOUND BELONGS TO THE TRUNK.
Dr. Bond, after an examination, has pronounced the limb to be the left leg of a well-developed woman; and there is no doubt that it belonged to the trunk which was discovered a fortnight ago.
SUSPECTED MURDERER TRACKED.
There are indications in official circles that at no period during the search for the miscreant has there been so much chance of an arrest as at the present moment. From more than one source the police authorities have received information tending to show that the criminal is a foreigner, who was known as having lived within a radius of a few hundred yards from the scene of the Berner-street tragedy. The very place where he lodges is asserted to be within official cognisance. If the man be the real culprit, he lived some time ago with a woman, by whom, he has been accused. Her statements are, it is stated, now being inquired into. In the meantime the suspected assassin is "shadowed." Incriminating evidence of a certain character has already been obtained, and, should implicit credence be placed in the woman already referred to, whose name we will not transpire under any circumstances until after his guilt is prima facie established, a confession of the crimes may be looked for at any moment. The accused is himself aware, it is believed, of the suspicions entertained against him.
An Echo reporter called this afternoon upon Mr. Packer, the Berner-street fruiterer, where the murderer bought the grapes for Elizabeth Stride. It now appears that the man was known by Mr. Packer, who positively asserted, "I had seen him in this district several times before, and if you ask me where he lives I can tell you within a little. He lodges not a great way from the house where Lipski, who was hanged for poisoning a woman, lived." "How many times have you seen him?" was asked Mr. Packer. "About twenty; and I have not seen him since the murder."
The laundress at 22, Batty-street, where a German left a blood-stained shirt, is Mrs. Kuer, also a German. The man, who was arrested, as already stated, and liberated, explained the blood-stains by the fact that he was with a friend who was cutting his corn, when the knife slipped and inflicted a wound, when the injured man stanched the cut by using the sleeves of his companion's shirt. There were, however, extensive stains upon the front of it as well, and this the man asserts was done by the blood spurting on to it. Mrs. Kuer denied that she gave information to the police, who were told of the circumstances by a neighbour. Mrs. Kuer says the man had occasionally called with a shirt to be washed. She feels certain she says that the man is entirely innocent of any such offence as was at first suggested by the police. Inspector Reid, Inspector Helson, and other detective officers are pursuing their investigation.
A man was arrested and taken to Commercial-street Police-station last night, but was released shortly afterwards.
The Press Association says:- Much importance is attached by the police to the arrest made at King-street Police-station yesterday morning. As published this morning, the man entered the station about nine o'clock, and complained of having lost a black bag. While officials were taking note of the case he commenced to talk about the women murdered in Whitechapel, and offered to cut off the sergeant's head, and spoke in a rambling nonsensical manner. In answer to what his business was, he said he studied some years for the medical profession, but gave it up for engineering and that he had been staying for some nights in coffee-houses. His talk became of such a rambling character that Dr. Bond, the Divisional Surgeon, was sent for, who examined him, and pronounced him to be a very dangerous lunatic of a homicidal nature. The man is described as favouring the description of the party seen with women at the East-end on different occasions. He was dressed in a serge suit, with a hard felt hat, and is of very strong build. Although he gave his age as 67, he looks much younger. Before his removal to Bow-street photographs of his person were taken. He was also asked to write his name, and it is stated the writing is somewhat similar to that of letters received by the police and others. The detectives have the matter in hand, and they are tracing the man's antecedents and his recent movements.
The Press Association says that some strange statements have been made with reference to a German named Ludwig, residing in the Leman-street district, who has already been in custody on suspicion of being concerned in the murders, and who was released after an exhaustive inquiry. It has, it is said, been reported to the authorities that this man has again been seen flourishing a knife and acting in a suspicious manner in the neighbourhood. The police are keeping him under surveillance at present, as there are some doubts as to his state of mind. It should be mentioned, however, that while the man was previously in custody a doctor declined to pronounce him insane.
A MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR
PRECAUTIONS OF THE POLICE
The startling story published first in The Echo of Monday, with reference to the finding of a blood-stained shirt and the disappearance of a man from a certain house in the East-end, proves to be, from investigations carried out by a Press Association reporter yesterday, to be not altogether devoid of foundation; though on Monday afternoon the truth of the statement was given an unqualified denial by the detective officers immediately after its publication, and this presumably because they were anxious to avoid a premature disclosure of facts of which they had been for some time cognisant. The police have taken exceptional precautions to prevent a disclosure, and while repeated arrests have taken place, with no other result that that of discharging the prisoner for the time being in custody they have devoted special attention to one particular spot, in the hope that a few days will suffice to set at rest the public anxiety as to further deeds of murder in the district.
A reporter yesterday elicited the fact that from the very morning of the Berner-street and Mitre-square murders the police have had in their possession a shirt saturated with blood. Though they say nothing, they are evidently convinced that it was left in a house in Batty-street by the assassin after he had finished his work. Having regard to the position of this particular house, its close proximity to the yard in Berner-street where the crime was committed, and to the many intricate passages and alleys adjacent, the police theory has in all probability a basis of fact. From an examination of the surroundings (says the reporter) I should say that in the whole of Whitechapel there is no quarter in which a criminal would be more likely to evade police detection, or observation of any kind, than he would be in this locality. At the inquest on Mrs. Stride, one of witnesses deposed to having seen a man and woman standing at the junction of Fairclough and Berner streets early on the morning of the murder. Assuming that the man now sought was the murderer, he would have gained instant access to the house in Batty-street by rapidly crossing over from the yard and traversing a passage, the entrance of which is almost immediately opposite to the spot where the victim was subsequently discovered. The statement has been made that the land-lady of the lodging-house, 22, Batty-street - the house in which the shirt was left - was at an early hour disturbed by the movements of her lodger,, who changed some of his apparel and went away - first, however, instructing her to wash the cast-off shirt by the time he returned.
But in relation to this latter theory, the question is (says the Press Association) how far the result of the inquiries is affected by a recent arrest. Although, for reasons known to themselves, the police during Saturday, Sunday, and Monday answered negatively all questions as to whether any person had been arrested, or was then in their charge, there is no doubt that a man was taken into custody on suspicion of the missing lodger from No, 22, Batty-street, and that he was afterwards set at liberty. The German lodging-house keeper could clear up the point as to the existence of any other lodger supposed to be absent from her house under the suspicious circumstances referred to, but she is not accessible, and it easy of understanding that the police should endeavour to prevent her making any statement. From our own inquiries in various directions yesterday afternoon, a further development is very likely to take place.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ECHO
SIR, - the letter of the Rev. Hugh B. Chapman, which appeared in your issue of Saturday last, struck the correct key with reference to the recent murders.
At the same time I would remind him that, however eloquent one may be in the pulpit or in the Press, such eloquence will be of no avail unless one is game enough to put their shoulders to the wheel, and to do all in their power to get such sentiments carried out into practical effect. The recent murders have had one effect: viz., to bring the conditions of the residents in East London under public notice, and what is now wanted is for earnest men like Mr. Chapman to apply a practical remedy for the evils which exist. It is all very well to talk about the coming revolution; but what we should do, if we are in earnest, is to try and avert such a mishap, and, as a worthy City rector has well said, "It is far better to unloose the knot than to have it cut," a process always to be avoided, if possible. The remedy is, as the saintly Bishop of Lincoln has truly said, "to disarm the so-called dangerous classes by improving their condition," and by bringing them out of their environment. Let all practical men, including clergy and statesmen, consider such plans as the better housing of the poor, the taxation of ground-rents and values, and a better distribution of the land which is the source of all wealth, and in general all schemes for the social improvement of the people. If this done, good will have risen out of evil, and the suffering of the poor in some degree alleviated. No one who has spent any time in East London can gainsay the fact that the poverty, the distress, the mode of life under which men exist compared with the West is enough to make one's heart ache and to view the future with fear. What is wanted is more sympathy between men and men, less distinction between class and class, and for men to realise more than they do the Christian brotherhood.
Men of the East-end do not want patronage, they want sympathy and help to allow them to fight the battle of life, and if the Church, instead of giving so much attention to the science of ritual and to the propagation of dogma. And turned its attention to the moral and social condition of mankind it would have a power which very few Churchmen now realise. The Church holds the key to the social problem, and it will be her own fault if she allows the coming Democracy to be the atheistic instead of Christian. I would appeal to all earnest men to take the social questions of the day into their consideration, and by practical methods arrive at a solution of our present difficulties.
Peckham, Oct. 13.
Santiago Dias, a foreign cabinet-maker, from Albany-street, appeared at the Marlborough-street Court to-day. A constable explained that he saw him knock down a woman names Rebecca Crawford in Cleveland-street at one o'clock this morning. The man, indeed, twice repeated this operation. The constable then found that the woman was bleeding from the nose. After a great deal of difficulty he got the man to the station. Mrs. Crawford, the wife of a tailor, living in Whitfield-street, told the Magistrate she was one her way home from a place of amusement, when the prisoner, without her having said a word to him, or given him the slightest provocation, struck her and knocked her down three times. She would have been further beaten by a lot of foreign women if a constable had not come to her aid. Mr. Hannay said it might be that prisoner mistook the prosecutor for someone else, and fined him 40s.