'WHOM shall we Hang?' was the title of a pamphlet published when thousands of brave English soldiers were being immolated at the shrine of Routine on the dreary Crimean soil. 'Whom shall WE hang?' we enquire; whom shall we gibbet in public opinion for the disgraceful state of a not unimportant artery of our extensive district? Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can take our choice of culprits, and select from eight-and-thirty goodly Vestrymen, two-and-twenty Trustees, good men and true, a Street-keeper, gorgeous in silver, a beadle resplendent with gold, a whole Metropolitan Board of Works, with its papa, Sir Benjamin Hall; the entire Brigade of the Metropolitan Blues, from Sir Richard Mayne to R, 1,000. The Vestry toss the ball into Whitehall Place, Sir Richard pitches it back to the Trustees, the Trustees send it flying to Sir Benjamin Hall; Sir Ben flings it in amongst the eight-and-thirty again, and so on ad infinitum. 'Whom shall we hang?' Our course appears to be pretty clear. A crying evil is in our midst, and if we ascertain that our local boards do all in their power to abate it, if they continually and ineffectually surge on those who concentrate in themselves the conservancy of public order, the necessity of adopting more urgent measures to remedy the wrong, we must surely hold our local authorities blameless, and look for the culpable parties amongst those who continually and insidiously propagating concentration, ought surely to be held to accept the responsibility if they monopolise the power.

'Down the Highway'—west of Temple Bar, 'Down Whitechapel way' is identified with everything that is low, base, vulgar, and degraded; and the aristocratic mind, whose vision is bounded by the Bank, or, at furthest, by the East India House, sometimes dimly, as through a fog, admits that there may be people visible, existing further east than those institutions, when the knowledge of the locality is forced upon it by an occasional glimpse of an advertisement of E. Moses and Sons, or some casual allusion to Aldgate pump. 'Down the Highway,' a term well understood by us, is the most perplexing hieroglyphical sentence to my lord Nozoo. 'Down Ratcliff Highway' he may listlessly admit a community to exist, connected in his mind with pitch, tar, marine stores, and the Thames Tunnel. Yet in the region between the Great Eastern daily approaching maturity and the Tower, exists a large buying, selling, eating, drinking, fighting, loving, marrying, and dying population,—a population so entirely ignored by the governing powers of the country, that deputation after deputation vainly wait upon Sir Richard Mayne, urging him to take measures to suppress the frightful scenes of debauchery and vice that continually disgrace the neighbourhood.

For, my lord Nozoo, strange the fact may appear, in this long street of Crimps, Slopsellers, flaring Gin Palaces, Sailors' Boarding-houses, equivocal Coffee Shops, and flash Dancing Saloons, there are steady, hard-working, respectable, and—perhaps more important to you—wealthy tradesmen, with staid matrons, and pure-minded daughters, existing and growing up amidst all the filth and depravity that defective police arrangements permit to pollute the local atmosphere. These citizens pay rates and taxes; these citizens are entitled to protection; their wives and daughters ought not to be exposed to the continual insults of drunken brutality, or their ears be perpetually liable to be shocked by gruff blasphemy or shrilly-shrieked obscenity. How many a respectable woman has been forced into the roadway to avoid a reeking crowd that some easy swinging gin palace door belches forth. A crowd, a gap in which reveals for a moment, a pair of wretches, naked to the waist, madly whirling blows at each other with pewter pots, already dented and battered with their hard yet bleeding skulls? How many a modest woman is forced into the roadway to avoid the half-dozen caricatures of her sex, who, wildly [1] drunk, are walking abreast, occupying the whole of the footway, and singing, or rather screeching snatches of obscene songs at the very top of their voices. 'Where are the police?' Is there a street in this metropolis of the world where it is unsafe for a citizen to interfere in the cause of order to protect a woman from brutality, from fear that if he does so, he is almost certain to have a steel blade in his bowels? There is such a street, and it is known as Ratcliff-highway—politely as St. George-street. Is the picture exaggerated? See the Thames Police Reports. See the excellent letter from an 'East London Observer,' inserted in our impression of last week—Americans fighting with bowie knives—Italians and Greeks with stilettos—women screaming obscenity—men, wild with the 'vitriol madness' that

—Flushes up in the ruffian's head,
Where the filthy bye-lane rings with the cry of the trampled wife.

Such is Ratcliff-highway, such is the state of the street in which respectable ratepayers reside, and in which they have to carry on their business, and to train up their innocent children. We shall be told that such evils are irremediable, that they are inseparable from a port of a seafaring community. Away with such sophistry; efficient police arrangements have yet to be tried; if they fail, then preach endurance.

But the other day, in the broad noon-day sun, a woman—a thing that bore woman's form—in a state of helpless intoxication—laid for half an hour across the footway of this thoroughfare, compelling every foot passenger to pass into the road, or step over her filthy form. Day by day, lurching scoundrels, with the true Old Bailey cast of countenance—fellows wearing guernseys and blue jackets, who have hung about the same public-house doors for years, and obtain credit for being seamen, on the strength of a coasting voyage to Newcastle, made some ten years ago, quarrel and fight amongst themselves, and get up crowds and pick pockets, and bustle Jack just arrived, 'homeward bound,' and clap the besotted fool on the back, and call him 'Shipmet,' and clean him out, and no police-law to touch them—no broom to sweep this accumulation of dangerous rubbish out of our thoroughfares.

Not a year ago, we penetrated, one morning, through a crowd of boys assembled in this street, and beheld, supporting herself against the closed shutters of a shop, miserable woman, stupidly, besottedly, stolidly, drearily drunk, clad in a masquerade dress, a ludicrous combination of the costumes of Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard. This brilliant specimen of gaiety, whose night had been spent at some twopenny bal masque, was feebly endeavouring to keep off the noisy jeering crowd, with a little riding whip, and this scene occurring at nine in the morning, and occupying some half hour in its performance, was never interfered with by any officious blue-coat. Really, the peculiar amusements of this class of females requires some limit. Time was when these interesting young ladies considered it quite a sufficient indication of the locality they 'hailed from' to parade the streets bare-headed, and with a red silk handkerchief—a bandanna—tied round their delicate shoulders; and always—always—a small halfpenny cane in their hands. But latterly the march of intellect amongst them has told them that they must resort to other advertisements. But, a few months ago, and it was considered 'the thing' for about twenty of them to disguise themselves in masquerade dresses, and cram themselves into and on several cabs and then in solemn procession parade up and down the Highway, halting occasionally at some hostelry to drink fiery blue sulphuric acid sold under the name of gin. Then they start again. See the first cab: inside tawdry spangles, broke feathers, soiled muslins, gin bleared eyes, and shrunken arms wildly gesticulating from the windows. On the roof Jack Sheppard, a military officer, a naval ditto, some very faded May-day queens, and a fiddler in a nankeen coat and white trousers, all, except the fiddler and the driver, women! and all, with the same exceptions, drunk! Drunk!—not inebriated—not hilariously intoxicated, but drunk in the full beastly significance of the word—their features are heavy and sleepy, their heads are nodding beneath their ghastly broken plumes, their hands hang nerveless, their finery is faded, dirty and torn. In the whole party their [2] is not one sign of merriment or enjoyment, only a dull, dreary, stupid, sottish, stupidity. Where are the police? In your kitchen, Sir! Flirting with your housemaid, madam? Chatting with your potman, or barman, or barmaid, mine host! anywhere but interfering to prevent our wives and children being sickened, horrified, and disgusted by drunken prostitutes and mad, inebriated seamen. Later we have this 'necessary evil' forcing itself upon our notice on hired donkeys racing with mad shouts from their drunken riders, through our thoroughfares; anon, it flashes upon us in its drunken hilarity in carts filled with screaming women and swearing sailors; then in the shape of an improvised baby-show, for amongst other uninterfered modes of forcing themselves upon public notice—conspicuity being the great object of these damsels—we had a little while ago, every young lady of this class burlesquing the sweet and holy badge of matronhood by appearing with an innocent hired infant in her arms. Drunkenness and noise—vice and blaphemy—robbery and obscenity by day—flaring gas lights—blue sulphuric acid—drunkenness and noise—vice and blasphemy—robbery and obscenity by night; and added to these—blood—murder—day by day the Thames police records teem with highway stabbing cases that sicken humanity. Either a gin-mad Malay runs a much with glittering kreese, and the innocent and respectable wayfarer is in as much danger as the brawler and the drunkard; or the Lascar, or the Chinese, or the Italian flash their sea knives in the air, or the American 'bowies' a man, or gouges him, or jumps on him, or indulges in some other of those innocent amusements in which his countrymen delight. Day by day we are horrified and disgusted—night by night the 'shrill edged shriek' of a woman 'divides the shuddering night.' Where are the police? In the City of London. Men in good coats and with linen of unexceptionable purity may not block up the thoroughfares with their respectable forms while laying a bet on 'Scaramouch' or taking the odds on 'Voltigeur.' If they do, they run the chance of X 999, truncheon in hand, valiantly charging the entire throng, and introducing as many as he can collar to Sir R. W. Carden or Mr. Alderman Hale. Yet here—here in this unfortunate and ignored locality, our pavement is obstructed for hours together with drunken beasts in women's apparel, fighting foreign sailors and blaspheming, obscene talking, lurchers, idlers, and thieves. Can nothing be done? Will not Sir Richard at last throw his protecting ægis over us, or if not over us, at least around poor Jack, and prevent, or at all events, so far as in him lies, modify the unenviable reputation the sailor always has of being ever connected with profligacy, filth, and vice!

[1] Obscured in the microfilm by a crease in the paper. It reads w***ly and I'm suggesting wildly rather than wholly for stylistic reasons, because the word whole appears soon afterwards.
[2] Sic.