GUY FAWKES and the METROPOLITAN POLICE
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
Sir,—During six years I have been a witness in the metropolis of a sight unparalleled for ruffianism, theft, and riotous conduct in any other civilised city.
Invariably, on the 5th of November, not less than 15,000 persons assemble on Tower-hill strictly for the purpose of robbery, brutal ruffianism, and to “let off fireworks.”
During my travels, several years, in many principal cities in the four corners of the globe, I never met with such a consolidated mass of villany; from all appearances every third person is a regular cadger or thief. The police confirm my opinion in this respect, and a walk through the mob will doubly qualify it.
From 6 o’clock in the evening till 11 at night Tower-hill and Trinity-square are perfectly impassable, business is all at stand; I am obliged to close my door, darken my windows, and desert the front part of my house entirely, and my premises are not approachable for five hours, yet I never escape without some serious injury.
Last night my child was saved, almost by a miracle, from having his brains dashed in by a large oyster shell being hurled with great violence by some miscreant in the crowd. My wife received the blow, which stunned her severely, as she sat, for a moment only, at my first floor window. I rushed out and found one solitary metropolitan policeman, 166H. He told me there were 30 policemen on the hill, “and about.” I struggled through the mob, at the imminent risk of losing an eye, and after 20 minutes found one more, No. 204. This man very reluctantly told me, after my urgent solicitations, that he would, “if he saw the sergeant of his force,” send him to my house. However, no policeman whatever, except the city force, came to my assistance, and two feet from my door they “cannot act.”
I was, consequently, handed over to the metropolitan force, who, in turn, referred me to the city force. The latter were most civil and obliging, and rendered every assistance possible; but, in the presence of not more than a couple of metropolitan policemen, a vagabond mob of 3,000 pelted, during two hours, the house of my neighbour, and smashed nearly the whole of his windows, while another neighbour on my left had his house set on fire, and two persons narrowly escaped with their lives; and I protest on oath that no attempt was made by the police to stop the scoundrels.
Will you give us a helping hand?—at least through you, there is a rescue from ruffianism and gross police mismanagement.
Nov 6. J.H.
The Times, Monday 7 November 1853