Intense Excitement In Whitechapel

The Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, in its edition of Wednesday, 3rd October 1888, published an editorial that defended the officers of the Metropolitan Police against accusations of incompetence:-


The intense excitement caused throughout the metropolis by the horrible murders that took place in Whitechapel in the early hours of Sunday does not seem to have diminished.

The public feeling has bordered upon a state of panic. The wonder has been, who will be the next victim of the unarrested human fiend?

That such savagery could have been fostered in any human bosom and carried out with such frenzied ferocity, exceeds one’s thought; and that it should have been accomplished with such marvellous skill, speed and ingenuity, is also passing strange.

It seems to be the very climax of human depravity, the personification of satanic fury, that nothing but stern justice can repress.


The public aspiration is that the assassin may soon be tracked out.

Happily such foul deeds are rare and exceptional, and these murders must have been, not the result of a homicidal epidemic amongst the people of Whitechapel, who have been sorely scandalised by recent events, but the diabolical work of one man, the incarnation of fiendish hate, and he, very probably, not an Englishman.


People are too ready to decry the vigilance of the police. But it should not be forgotten that they have overcome the cunning of a clever, ill designing man who knows evidently his murderous business and how to transact it, eluding the vigilance of the man in blue and with nice calculation selecting the aphelion of the policeman’s beat for his opportunity.

Moreover, it should remembered that, if the theory be correct that the poor unfortunates that he has selected for his victims were beguiled into dark cornets for ostensibly immoral purposes, that they would, unwittingly, facilitate the murderer’s operations by the choice of places unfrequented by police footsteps for their immoral deeds, and thus all the easier fall the prey.

So that the circumstances of the tragedies which blacken the page of London’s modern history were all in the miscreant’s favour and against the possibility of police surveillance and detection.

The Punch Cartoon Blind Mans Buff showing a blind-folded police officer being taunted by criminals.
Blind Mans Buff – A Punch Cartoon From 1888.


These are elements in the consideration of the case that do not appear to have been taken sufficient cognizance of.

Indeed, one can scarcely see how the police could have constant supervision of all the numberless dark places that abound in this vast metropolis, and which are remarkably adapted for the commission of the foulest crimes.

The police are not omnipresent, and cannot be so; but it would seem as if it were needful that, in Whitechapel at least, they should be reinforced, so that murderers may have less chance of pursuing their gory work and that crime may be more easily tracked out, if not actually prevented.


The tardy Government should surely do something in the shape of a large reward in order to bring to his speedy retribution the perpetrator of these ghastly tragedies, allay the public panic, and restore confidence and safety to the people at large.”


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