Saturday, 29 September 1888
Sir, - You admitted a letter in which I suggested among other means for dealing with the lawless life of criminal districts that responsible persons should buy up the property, and as landlords enforce decency.
Various offers have been made by those willing to help in this plan, and the hope is encouraged that a company might be formed which could at once proceed with the purchase of such houses as can be bought.
Will you now permit me to express my willingness to receive the names of those who have money which they are able to invest at low interest, and who are concerned to prevent the present scandal?
SAMUEL A. BARNETT.
St. Jude's Vicarage, Commercial-street, Whitechapel, E., Sept. 24.
Sir, - With reference to the letter of your correspondent "Gamma" in last Saturday's issue, allow me to state that a company already exists for the purpose of buying up and improving such property as Mr. Barnett describes. It is known as the Tenement Dwellings Company (Limited). Mr. Alfred Hoare, the banker, of 37, Fleet-street, is the chairman, and Mr. Frederick H. Harvey-Samuel, 1, Whittington-avenue, Leadenhall-street, is the solicitor and secretary.
Cheshunt-park, Herts. Sept. 26.
Sir, - Your correspondent "Gamma" proposes that a number of philanthropic gentlemen should float a company for the purpose of buying up and improving the houses at present dedicated to vice and crime, and suggests that such a company would have every prospect of paying a good dividend.
Permit one who is well acquainted with the East-end slums to point out that the first step needful is the prosecution of the landlords of these rookeries of crime for keeping disorderly houses.
When the houses shall have been closed in consequence of such prosecutions, they will be purchaseable at a fair price that would, after improvement and reletting under conditions compatible with decency, yield a fair return to the philanthropic investor. If bought as "going concerns", the price would be simply prohibitive; for vice pays a higher rent then virtue, and the purchase money would be proportionate to the rental; while the large figure that would be paid by the philanthropist would only encourage the formation of new rookeries of vice to take the place of those suppressed.
The fact remains that the police must act before the philanthropist can step in.
Let an experiment be made in Dorset-street, Flower-and-Dean-street, and Thrawl-street, places made notorious in connexion with the recent Whitechapel murders. In these streets, literally within a stone's-throw of Toynbee-hall and the Rev. S.A. Barnett's Vicarage, are whole rows of so-called "registered" lodging-houses, each of which is practically a brothel and a focus of crime. The police authorities uniformly refuse to prosecute the owners of such places as keepers of disorderly houses, although the fullest evidence is in their possession to insure conviction, and they always throw the odious duty of prosecution on the neighbours who may feel aggrieved. These cannot prosecute in the cases of the Whitechapel rookeries without risking their lives; for such is the lawless nature of the denizens of these places that they would certainly, and probably with impunity, wreak their vengeance on any private individual who would dare to disturb them.
If the Home Secretary would give instructions for the simultaneous prosecution of the keepers of these nests of crime, the houses would be closed within a few weeks, and the owners would then gladly part with their bad bargains at a fair price to the philanthropic investor.
The suppression of these haunts of crime and the dispersion of their lawless population should be the watchword and cry - the Carthago delenda est of every social reformer. That such a seething mass of moral filth and corruption should exist in our midst is a disgrace to our much-vaunted civilization, and a danger to the State.
For obvious reasons I suppress my name and prefer to subscribe myself
The man John Fitzgerald, who was arrested at Wandsworth and who has been detained at the Leman street Police Station on his own confession, with having murdered Annie Chapman in Hanbury street on the 8th inst., has been liberated, exhaustive inquiries having proved his statement to be entirely unfounded.