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Pall Mall Gazette
9 October 1888


When we introduced "The Bitter Cry of Outcast London" to the attention of the great public, five years ago, we suggested one thought which is never absent from our minds when confronted with the realities of life in the "Sunken Sixth" of London.

The grim Florentine might have added to the horror of his vision of hell by a sojourn in a London slum. For in his Inferno the damned at least did not breed. With us they do. Every year sees an addition to the long roll of the newborn list. Born in the fetid atmosphere of a crowded cellar, suckled on gin, and cradled in the gutter, they never have a chance.

The passage reverts to our memory as we read Dr. Barnardo's appeal in the Times for the establishment of casual wards for children at the East-end. The fate of the children is the climax of horror. The existence of hundreds and of thousands of children with no other parentage than women like Elizabeth Stride and Annie Chapman and Mary Ann Nichols, with no other home than the dossing-ken, and no other playground than the gutter, that is the abiding and appalling tragedy of the situation, beside which all other horrors pale and disappear.

Dr. Barnardo, in his letter to the Times, describing the lives of the children brought up in the common lodging-houses, says quite truly that it is impossible to describe the state in which myriads of children live in these human sewers, breathing from their birth an atmosphere fatal to all goodness. They are saturated from birth in vice and uncleanness, and Dr. Barnardo in his zeal would forbid all lodging-houses by law to shelter any children under sixteen. Therein he goes too far. Any of us may some day be driven by poverty to seek the shelter of a dossing ken; and, even in our direst extremity, we would not care to be separated from our children. But a great deal may be done short of legislative prohibition. The first thing obviously is to establish lodging-houses for boys and girls, if, as Dr. Barnardo says, they can be made "self-supporting, or nearly so." We confess that we have doubts as to the possibility of making these places self-supporting. Still, Dr. Barnardo is an authority second to none, and we hope he will explain how it can be done. If he can set out a practical plan by which all the homeless lads and lasses of London can be lodged decently in places where they would not be contaminated by the constant converse of prostitutes and thieves, we do not think that he will lack for funds--supposing that the first cost of the building is raised by a public subscription, and the coppers of the children pay the working expenses. One poor woman, who may have been Elizabeth Stride herself, for she was in the circle that listened to Dr. Barnardo's exposition of the advantages of his scheme, is said to have exclaimed: "We're all up to no good, and no one cares what becomes of us. Perhaps some of us will be killed next! If anybody had helped the likes of us long ago, we would never have come to this." "The likes of us" are indeed "up to no good," although the Bishop of Bedford does well to appeal for a laundry to help them earn a living, if they wish to do so decently. But it is the children who offer the best field for philanthropic activity, and in default of anything better Dr. Barnardo's scheme might well be tried.

Nothing will do any great good that is based on the principle of taking children from their parents. If a man and a woman are not fit to be trusted with the upbringing of their offspring, they ought not to be allowed to have any children. Mr. Arnold White pleads for "the sterilization of the unfit," but the plain English of it is that the human pair who bring a child into the world for whom they cannot provide food, clothes, and lodging are criminals, and should be punished as such. The immense responsibility of parentage can only be borne by parents. It cannot be thrust upon the State. That has been tried often enough with no other result than that of organized infanticide. The existing foundling hospitals--in Russia, for instance--are simply massacre-shops for nearly one-half their luckless inmates. It sounds excellent and philanthropic and altogether admirable that the State should undertake the mothering and fathering of those children whose own parents are unfit or incapable, but it would really be kinder to legalize infanticide sans phrase. It is true, as some ghastly figures in the following article seem to prove, that baby killing has ceased to be regarded as murder in London, but we have not yet arrived at the point where the State can deliberately decree the extinction of the life even of the rickettiest infant born in an East-end dossing ken. Under the reign of science and evolution, and the decay of the old theological bolts and bars against homicide, we may come to that, but as yet the old religion, with its conception of the soul, is still sufficiently potent to forbid the direct road followed by the ancients. Nowadays infanticide to be respectable must be circuitous. The question to-day, however, is not how to kill but how to save alive. And the public, for a moment conscience-stricken at the spectacle of how the poor live, will gladly co-operate with Dr. Barnardo if he can utilize his vast experience so as to help in establishing a self-supporting decent dossing ken for the homeless children of London.


The condition of the police force is unsatisfactory, but this is especially the case with the Detective Department. Of this the outward and visible sign was the resignation of Mr. Monro. It is that which warns the outside public how utterly the whole Criminal Investigation Department has gone to pieces under the new regime.


No one who knows anything of Mr. Monro needs to be told that he would not have deserted his post in the midst of a campaign against murder if the friction had not been intolerable. He stood it as long as he could and then he gave up, and left his department to drift as it has drifted, and as it is drifting to this day.

What makes this all the more serious is that some time before Mr. Matthews had seen fit to get rid of Mr. Jenkinson, who was at the head of the secret political police attached to the Home Office. Mr. Matthews, therefore, when he entered office, had the advantage of having two highly trained and experienced officers, whose whole duty was the detection and prevention of crime. Last year he sacrificed Mr. Jenkinson. This year he has lost Mr. Monro. In both cases he may have been quite right. But it is well to remember that he is responsible for the policy which has brought him to the pass of having to confront a most serious condition of disorder and of murder panic without the two chiefs whom his predecessors deemed it essential to retain by their side. Mr. Jenkinson's departure, however, had nothing to do with the latest development of the Home Office policy.

In order to understand how it is that we have a detective department which cannot detect and a Criminal Investigation Department at which criminals snap their fingers, it is necessary to go back a little. The author and framer of the Criminal Investigation Department as it now exists was Mr. Howard Vincent, now M.P. for one of the divisions of Sheffield. It dates from the great outburst of public indignation at the discovery of the Druscovitch frauds, frauds which were carried on in the very heart of the department supposed to be charged with the detection of crime. Lord Cross, who was then Home Secretary, gave Mr. Vincent, who was a young and active member of a capable family, carte blanche to reorganize the Detective Department. Sir Edmund Henderson was then Chief Commissioner, and Mr. Howard Vincent was specially commissioned to carry out whatever reforms he thought necessary without much reference to the ideas of those who were nominally his official superiors. Mr. Vincent did his work with a will, and after a time he succeeded in establishing cosmos out of chaos. When Mr. Howard Vincent was director, and as long as he was director, the Detective Department was an imperium in imperio. When he left the force, in 1884, he handed over to his successor, Mr. Monro, an authority which, although exercised under another name, was hardly less absolute than that which he held. Colonel Henderson had acquiesced in the ascendancy of Mr. Vincent. He made no effort to assert his control over Mr. Monro. So it was that Mr. Monro began his career at Scotland-yard under auspices favourable to the development of self-reliance and independence. Mr. Monro, an old Anglo-Indian, was originally a man of strong will and of considerable resolution. Although only Assistant-Commissioner he was much the most capable man at the Yard, and when the Dodo was slain he was exempted from the general slaughter.

No sooner had Sir Charles Warren begun to feel at home in Scotland-yard than he decided that all authority must be centralized in himself. The capable, strong-willed man of energy always thinks everything will go better if he has got everything in his own hands. With Sir Charles action follows promptly upon resolution, and he speedily began to establish the supreme authority of the Chief Commissioner. Mr. Monro was only an Assistant-Commissioner. It was necessary, therefore, that he should be made to feel his place. This was done with a fine brutal frankness which certainly left its object in no doubt as to the intention of his chief. From of old the Detective Department was domiciled in the heart of Scotland-yard. Mr. Vincent's room, as Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, was one of the best in the collection of dogholes in which the metropolitan police have their headquarters. The department had outgrown its premises. The Hackney Carriage Department was crowding it: there was no place in which to put the official dossiers, and so it was decided to transfer the Detective Department to Whitehall-place. The staff of the Criminal Investigation Department were well-pleased, but Mr. Monro clung to his office in Scotland-yard. One fine day, however, he was bundled out without ceremony and packed off bag and baggage to Whitehall-place. This eviction, even if inevitable, might have been accomplished with more consideration, but as it was effected it did not conduce to the harmony of the office. The detectives began to feel that they were regarded as no longer part and parcel of the force. The department itself, established in another street, was looked upon somewhat in the light of "the concern over the way"--a rival rather than a branch of the same business. To such a length was this carried that detectives of long standing were made to feel that their presence in the Back Hall of Scotland-yard was regarded as an intrusion. The Chief Commissioner was believed to favour uniformed men, and to disparage the services of the plain-clothes branch. He could not be got to see that the detectives were in any way more efficient than his ordinary constables. If he wanted any work done that could not be done by Z 324, with his helmet on his head and his blue coat on his back, he would simply put Z 324 in ordinary clothes and expect him to do the work of a detective. The detectives were discouraged, discredited, and sat upon, and the dormant feeling of jealousy and animosity between the two branches began to grow apace, to the no small detriment of the efficiency of the service.

Naturally Mr. Monro, an officer devoted to his work, and accustomed for years to be supreme in his own department, could not easily brook the arbitrary procedure of the Chief Commissioner. But Sir Charles is not the man to tolerate insubordination or resistance to his will. Mr. Monro was given to understand that if he did not know the place of an Assistant-Commissioner Sir Charles did, and would give him lessons in the art of keeping it. There were some stiff passages between the chief and his assistant. Mr. Monro had often the best of the argument, but the authority lay with Sir Charles. The old habit of familiar conference with his inspectors was placed under restrictions which robbed it of much of its value, and which injured the morale of the inspectors. The centre of everything of the detective police, as well as of everything else, was to be Sir Charles. It even became a high crime and misdemeanour to put any one's name upon the outside of an official envelope except that of the First Commissioner. There was bitter heartburning in the Criminal Investigation Department, and Mr. Monro at last began to feel that unless his authority could be re-established he had better give up the hopeless attempt to maintain the efficiency of his office.

The strength of the detective force is small. There are not quite 300 men, all told; 80 of whom are inspectors and 120 sergeants, with less than a hundred other distributed about the twenty-two metropolitan divisions. Mr. Monro wanted the strength of the force increased. The superintendents informed him that such an increase was necessary, and he applied for the addition of so many men to the strength of the C.I.D. This was like a red rag to the bull. Sir Charles would not hear of the proposed increase, and by the exercise of his immense authority over the superintendents he induced them to go back on their statement to Mr. Monro, and acquiesce in the Chief's favourite doctrine that constables in plain clothes were quite as good as detectives. So Mr. Monro did not get the desired addition to the detective force. He made another attempt however to restore efficiency to his department. He asked for a deputy to assist in carrying on the work of the central office, and named one Mr. Macnaghten, an old Anglo-Indian, for the post. Sir Charles Warren assented, and signed the papers. But hearing afterwards something which set him against Mr. Macnaghten he cancelled his signature to the papers, and asked Mr. Monro to nominate some one else. This Mr. Monro refused to do, making some excuse more or less hollow, which Sir Charles mercilessly exposed, and then, driven to bay, Mr. Monro resigned, on the ground that the constant interference of Sir Charles Warren had destroyed his authority and rendered it impossible for him to remain responsible for his department. The final cause of the rupture was comparatively trivial. Its very triviality shows how strained the relations must have been between the Chief and his assistant. The present impotence of the detective force when it is directed by Sir Charles in person is a grim justification of the accuracy of Mr. Monro's foreboding.


The personnel of the staff at Scotland-yard is as follows:--

Major-General Sir Charles Warren, K.C.M.G., Chief
    Commissioner, Salary ................................ £1,500
Colonel Pearson (Discipline), Assistant-Commissioner .... £1,250
A. C. Bruce (Civil business)        ditto            .... £1,250

When Sir Charles Warren was appointed he had the advantage of a legal adviser at £1,000 per annum. That office has been suppressed. Mr. Monro, who was Assistant-Commissioner, has disappeared. His successor has not yet arrived. Under the Chief Commissioner in 1886 were two District Superintendents, Mr. Walker and Mr. Howard. Mr. Walker resigned with Colonel Henderson. His place was filled up by the appointment of a soldier--

Lieut. Col. B. Monsell, Chief Constable of No. 1 District, at £625. The fourth Chief Constable is Major W. E. Gilbert: he has No. 4, Mr. Howard retaining No. 2. Two other soldiers were appointed as Assistant Chief Constables, namely:--

    Captain Knollys, Assistant Chief Constable (Education Dept.)
    Captain Dean,       Do.          Do.       (Police Cavalry)

From this it appears that Sir Charles Warren has practically added five new soldiers to the executive staff at Scotland-yard. It consisted when he joined it of--One soldier, two lawyers, one detective, and two policemen. It is now constituted as follows:--Six soldiers, one lawyer, and one policeman. The military element in 1886 was as one in six; it is now six out of eight. Sir Charles himself is soldier enough to supply militarism for the whole force, but instead of strengthening himself where he was weak he has done just the opposite. He has surrounded himself with soldiers and driven away the detective.

The effect of this is felt throughout the entire force. Felt, but not admired. Perhaps the maddest manifestation of this militarism rampant was the appointment of an ex-captain of the Guards to impart systematic instruction to the young constables. As the guardsman has no practical acquaintance with "how constabulary duty should be done," his systematic instruction naturally resolves itself into a poor kind of drill.

The essential difference between a soldier and a constable is that the former is seldom or never used out of formation, while the latter is seldom or never in formation. That is to say, the soldier is an integral part of a machine, the efficiency of which presupposes the absolute and mechanical obedience of all its parts. The constable, on the contrary, is called upon at all hours to exercise his own judgment, to solve knotty practical questions of law and of fact, to compose disputes, to dispense rough-and-ready justice, and, in short, to act as an independent unit. For every policeman is the bishop of his beat, with jurisdiction almost like that of a magistrate. If he winks he can suspend the operation of the law. If he pleases he can convert the law into a weapon of oppression. The soldier is never left alone. He never acts on his own initiative. He is always under the eye of his officer, and his supreme quality is unhesitating and unqualified obedience. The constable is always left alone. he is constantly acting on his own initiative, and his supreme duty is the habitual exercise of self-reliance and common sense. Hence militarism is fatal to the force. But with Sir Charles Warren militarism is supreme.


The Chief Commissioner, vehement and resolute, has a hand of iron. He has not a velvet glove. On the contrary, while he is fortiter in re he is fortissime in modo. Sir Charles Warren being a religious man does not swear. No round comfortable oath is ever discharged by him at recalcitrant officers. But the superintendent at whose head awe-struck rumour relates that a ruler was hurled in wrath would probably have preferred the bad word to the heavy stick. The unfortunate superintendents! Most of them have risen from the ranks; some of them are still in mind and character essentially of the type of the ordinary ranker. It is impossible not to pity them when confronted with a raging, roaring Major-General in his lair at Scotland-yard. On one occasion a luckless superintendent of Sir Charles Warren's own appointing--a very bad appointment too--happened to be circumvented by the Socialists, who held their meeting and broke a window pane in defiance of the Chief's orders. With quaking heart and trembling knees, he was ushered into the Chief Commissioner's presence. He had not long to wait for him mittimus. "You a superintendent!" roared Sir Charles, in a towering rage, "you a superintendent! You are not fit to be a third-class constable. Out of my presence this moment!" and the poor wretch slunk away, to find himself compelled to resign on the pension of an inspector. The result is that there is a veritable reign of terror among the superintendents. They hardly dare call their souls their own. From being more or less the independent chiefs of districts as large as a provincial town, they have been reduced to the position of so many toads under the harrow of an absolute autocrat.

The local inspectors do not, fortunately for themselves, come into contact with the Chief Commissioner. But their life is made a burden to them by the endless stream of confusing and often conflicting orders, all drawn up in the same peremptory fashion. No doubt much of this irritation is unavoidable. Sir Charles is honestly endeavouring to introduce some kind of order into the chaos which exists in the Force, but legislation by mandates in their daily orders is somewhat bewildering. If this is the condition to which he has reduced the superintendents and inspectors, the relations which have been established between the heads, of departments in Scotland-yard are simply indescribable. Mr. Pennefather is the Receiver. The salary of his office is equal to that of an Assistant Commissioner. He represents the Home Office and the Treasury, and in that capacity is the most important officer at Scotland-yard after Sir Charles. With the Receiver the Chief Commissioner is at open war. Six weeks ago it was currently reported that he had refused to allow his Assistant Commissioners to countersign the Receiver's cheques, so that 150 salaries had remained unpaid for a couple of months after they fell due. That difficulty, it is said, was patched up by the personal intervention of Mr. Goschen, but the feud remains. The two high officials are not on speaking terms, and the story goes that the latest order is that no member of the Force shall speak to the Receiver without a written permission from the Chief Commissioner! It is not true, of course, but it is ben trovato. In the Medical Department also, the Chief Surgeon is said to be at logger-heads with the Chief Commissioner.

Still, this may be necessary friction. It may be that King Stork is quite right, adn that all those who cry out against him deserve to be cleared out. But what is quite clear is that until they are cleared out nothing need be expected from Scotland-yard. Either Sir Charles Warren should be allowed to have his way, and be supported by officials who will do his bidding, or else he should be appointed to some other sphere where his qualities would be better appreciated by his subordinates and his superiors. It cannot be for the public interest that the bear-garden at Scotland-yard should continue much longer.


With such a spectacle at headquarters, it cannot be wondered at that the rank and file are discontented and out of hand. The ordinary constable has been severely tried of late. He hates the military drill and the martinet ways of his new chief. He dislikes the severity with which Sir Charles is endeavouring to restore a higher standard of morality. The laxity of the previous régime makes him resent all the more bitterly the régime of his new masters. And then, as if to make these hardships quite intolerable, there has come a very unpleasant antagonism between the constables on duty and a very considerable number of their fellow citizens.

Sir Charles has tried to do two things at once. He is using the Metropolitan Force as janissaries to suppress by force all attempts of the people to exercise their ancient and accustomed liberties, while he is at the same time screwing up the standard of personal conduct by punishments which even the strictest Puritan must regard as excessive. The offence of drinking when on duty is, no doubt, serious. But when it comes to what is equivalent to a fine of £50 for taking a glass of beer when on duty, it is not surprising that the constables feel that it is more than human nature can stand. It takes a policeman eight years to rise from the third class, with 24s., to a first class, with 30s. He loses all his eight years' service if he is caught taking a glass of beer without the permission of his commanding officer. The number thus reduced is stated at about a score a week; but this seems exaggerated. Even at half that figure, this would account for 500 constables per annum reduced in rank, and all smarting with a sense of being unjustly treated. Hard as this is to bear, it is perhaps less grievous than the altered relations in which the police stand to the people among whom they exercise their functions. No doubt the bludgeoning of the mob out of Trafalgar-square was very popular in the clubs and in society. But the bludgeoned mob naturally took another view of it. The applause of society is but faintly audible in the slums of Whitechapel or in the squalid streets of Southwark. It may be only a minority that distrusts the police and remembers Trafalgar-square, but it is a very blatant minority, which makes its existence felt on every beat throughout London. Thus, at the same time that Sir Charles was making the discipline of the service harder, the service itself was rendered more unpopular. Instead of according more licence to the praetorians


The editor of the Independance Belge has had an interview at Brussels with Lord Mayor De Keyser, and the conversation naturally turned on the murder mania in London. As the "first magistrate of the city" the Lord Mayor was invited to give his theory on the crimes. The Independance Belge summarises the Lord Mayor's answers as follows:-


The theories propounded on the subject of the character and motive of the murderer made Mr. De Keyser shrug his shoulders. He does not believe either in the enraged moralist theory, or the coroner's theory, or the scientific Socialist theory. In his opinion the murderer is simply a maniac; a kind of human mad dog - a proper subject for M. Pasteur - a man whose whole physical; and intellectual being is so set on the single object of his monomania that he has been able to evade all the professional and amateur detectives.


"Will he finally be caught?" asked the interviewer. "Yes," replied the Lord Mayor, "he will be caught when he commits his next crime." A whole army of bloodhounds (metaphorical and literal) will be on his track the moment he draws blood again. If he does not begin again, it is a corpse - the corpse of a suicide - that will ultimately be found. With a whole community against him, he cannot long escape.


On the subject of the reward, the Lord Mayor is reported as saying that it was meant more for show than for use. A reward would only discover the murderer if he had accomplices; and the Lord Mayor does not believe he has any. Sometimes, too, rewards do more harm than good, by creating crime. But the Lord Mayor felt compelled to offer the reward in order to appease popular clamour. As the offer will cost nothing, it would have been absurd not to make it.


As for the general excitement about the murders, the Lord Mayor treated it very lightly. How could London expect, he said, to be the centre of everything else, and not also of crime? There is no hiding place from justice so secure as the vast city which keeps secrets so well.

"But why not increase your police?" asked the editor. "Why should we?" replied the Lord Mayor. "It would cost much money; and the taxpayer would resent it. Besides, the English do not like to meet authority in uniform at every turn. It would offend their instincts of liberty."

"And the liberty of the criminals, I suppose?" asked the sarcastic editor.

"But the liberty of private individuals also," rejoined the Lord Mayor, "and of individual energy."

Finally, the Lord Mayor is reported to have described the efforts to purify the slums as a piece of utopianism. The people are, he said, "miserable by taste and idlers by profession." And as for the philanthropists, who are so exceptionally pushing just now, Lord Mayor De Keyser ascribes their zeal to the fact that many of them are currying favour with a view to the approaching County Council elections. With these digs all round at the foreign community in which Lord Mayor De Keyser has been good enough to take up his abode, the interview appears to have been terminated.

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