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A Visit to Whitechapel

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A Visit to Whitechapel

Post by Karen on Wed 1 Jan 2014 - 15:22

A VISIT TO "WHITECHAPEL."
Rev. C.M. Carpenter Describes the Scenes There on the Sabbath and also on a Week Day.

My Dear Chronicle: It was about eight o'clock in the evening when I first entered this famous and in many respects interesting section of the great city of London. One has only to recall some of the awful scenes enacted in this part of the world
to feel the cold shivers running all over him, and to experience a sudden attack of heart failure. However, I was not to be deterred from my purpose. I had determined to see "Whitechapel" by night, and after learning from the police at the station
some of the exact locations of the worst crimes, I started on a tour of investigation, "all by my lonesome," and lonesome enough it was, I assure you, readers.
My first point was a spot where the last murder was committed, and I was fortunate enough to meet the policeman who held the lantern for the surgeon to examine the lifeless form. I returned to this place, in daylight, and made the photograph which shows
the archway, under which the crime was committed, but cannot reveal the loneliness of the spot as I saw it by night. I passed through the place and passed the exact spot as the policeman had well described it, that I might realize, as far as possible, how easily
a crime of any kind might be perpetrated with few people near and under the cover of darkness.
After leaving the spot I retraced my steps past the police station, and entered a worse section of the district, if possible, stopping frequently to look into places where "the other half" live, or rather stay; then again into the dens of infamy, where crime is begotten.
Standing side by side in the saloons are men and women drinking, laughing and talking in loud, boisterous and rough language. Now rushing across the street comes a mother, and in her arms a little one who ought to have been in bed long before; with all speed
she rushes up to the bar, seizes her beer, and after the first drink sets down the glass, leans against the wall, where she stands talking with other loungers until we grow weary with waiting and pass on, to see the same sights and hear the same sounds oft repeated.
A hurdy-gurdy comes along, and almost with the first note the children begin to gather, but they get very little, for in a moment the bar-keeper comes out and the man of the crank enters the saloon, remains a little time, comes out, and moves on. The reason is plain.
His music was too much for the bar-keeper's endurance, because it drew off his customers, and for this reason the wiley dime catcher proceeds to deprive the children of the music which would charm their little souls, and afford a moment of brightness to their blighted
lives.
Turn now around the corner. The scene beggars description. The bowery of New York city, certain streets in Chicago and St. Mary's street in San Francisco never appeared to the writer's eye quite equal to the Whitechapel district by night; and is it better by daylight? I determined
to satisfy myself on this point, and decided upon an hour in the forenoon in which to visit some of the same retreats. Now all is hustle and hurry. Business of all kinds is in progress and teams fill the streets, while the people throng the walks. A policeman tells me where
"Jack the Ripper" performed his last awful crime, and another takes me to the spot, and I photographed it.
In the corner where the wall and buildings meet, the fiend performed the act and then fled through a lane at the opposite corner, and probably left London and the police hope forever.
I found myself wondering how these people spent the Sabbath. Could it be as quiet and orderly here as in many other parts of London, where the people are seen hastening to the churches in the morning, and where a comparative quiet is maintained until evening?
I go from Saint Paul's cathedral, where I have worshipped, directly to the Whitechapel and to "Petticoat Lane." What I saw I have attempted to reproduce in a photograph. (The only picture I ever allowed myself to make on Sunday, and now only that I might show my friends what
can be seen on no other day.) I was so impressed by the absolute indifference to the Sabbath, that I went to my room, for my camera and the picture will tell the result.
I urged my way into the surging mass and from one street through another, and into another. The Jews and others are trading, their stalls lining the walks. Everything can be bought, from a lock or door hinge, to a dress suit with its tall hat, or from a pickle to a roast of beef. Thousands,
I am told, are here from all parts of London, because on Sunday they can "buy cheap" from the Jewish traders, and pleasure seekers can witness the cheap shows which are open all day. All this and much more can be seen in this quarter of a Christian city on the Lord's day. At another
time I made a picture of the same street on a week day. The traders were gone, and the place had become a standing for the "busses."
Thus, by night Whitechapel district is the haunt of wretchedness and crime, by day God's sun "shines upon the just and unjust alike," and upon the Sabbath it becomes the rendezvous for all classes, and when, as the cab conductor told me, "if you have anything about you keep it buttoned up."
Once visited, the Whitechapel district can never be forgotten.
Yours respectfully,
C.M. Carpenter.

Source: Cambridge Chronicle, July 29, 1899, Page 9

***************************************
Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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