2. Spring-Heeled Jack became the New Bogeyman of Victorian Society
The Ripper Murders were just one example of how Spring Heeled Jack had become Victorian society’s new bogeyman. Parents began to use the threat of Spring Heeled Jack to scare their children into submission. However, the danger of a brush with Spring Heeled Jack was not just used against children. In the Black Country, local preachers used Spring Heeled Jack as a warning against the perils of getting drunk- or drinking at all.
It was not just the temperance movement that employed Spring Heeled Jack. For he also became a crucial player in Victorian morality tales. One such story appeared in Franklin’s Miscellany in 1838. In “The Spring Jack” written by a “Peter PiperSpring Heeled Jack visits a pub in Peckham Rye where his devilish antics force the landlord to mend his ways. After Spring Heeled Jack melts his pots and burns his provisions, the landlord begins to “punctually attend the neighboring church.” He also ensures that he stops cheating his customers by making sure he “filled his pots and given good measure.”
In short, Spring Heeled Jack’s story captured the popular imagination. Henry Mayhew in his Labour and the London Poor shows the character of the devil in Punch and Judy shows was renamed Spring Heeled Jack. Jack also became the villainous subject of several plays. The perfect embodiments of this were the popular Penny Dreadfuls, cheap magazines of sensationalist stories. Here, Spring Heeled Jack was portrayed either as an object of horror- or a kind of Victorian superhero.