21 September 1888
TO THE EDITOR OF THE STANDARD
SIR,- As the question has once or twice arisen, in connection with the last murder in Whitechapel, as to whether an image of the murderer might me found on the retina of the victim, perhaps you will allow me to say that, under the circumstances, such a thing would be impossible.
I have gone somewhat deeply into the subject of the effect of light and colour on the retina, and I know, from repeated experiments, that an impression of an object can only be retained on the retina by fixing the eye immoveably on one particular point on the object for several seconds; and, even in that case, the object must be strongly illuminated. It is not conceivable, in the terrible struggle which must have taken place, that the woman's eye could have been immoveably fixed for any appreciable period; but even if it had been, the retina would require to be chemically treated almost instantly to retain even a faint impression.
There is no doubt that a kind of bleaching process goes on while the retina is under the influence of strong light, and this is corrected, when the light is removed, by the colouring matter which probably exists among the rods and cones of the retina. The photochemical changes which take place in the retina under strong light are an abstruse but deeply interesting study; but so far as investigations have hitherto gone, there is no ground whatever for supposing that an image of any object could be discerned on the retina after death. Those who are interested in he subject will find an account of some curious experiments of mine in the "Nineteenth Century" for October, 1883.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
19, Pont-street, September 20
BALMORAL, SEPT. 20
The Queen went out yesterday morning, accompanied by Princess Beatrice and Princess Alice of Hesse, and in the afternoon her Majesty drove out, attended by the Dowager Lady Churchill, the Dowager Marchioness of Ely, and the Hon. Harriett Phipps.
Prince and Princes Henry of Battenberg drove out, accompanied by Princess Alice of Hesse and Prince Albert Victor of Wales.
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Albany dined with the Queen and Royal family.
Earl Cadogan and Sir Robert Collins were included in the Royal dinner party, and Lady Collins, and the other ladies and gentlemen, joined the Royal circle in the evening.