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Pall Mall Gazette
6 December 1888

IS JACK THE RIPPER FRENCHMAN?
To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette

Sir,

I venture to offer you a few remarks upon the singular article which appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette last Saturday upon the Whitechapel murders. Under some circumstances I might comment upon the inferences drawn by your contributor, "One Who Thinks He Knows," from the fact that straight lines, drawn through the point at which the outrages were committed cross one another, but, remembering that I am in a country where Mr. Ignatius Donnelly and his Great Cryptogram are the subjects of serious discussion, I, as a native of a frivolous land, abstain from saying more than that I am myself engaged in preparing a diagram by which I hope to prove that the crimes were really the work of a Unionist who is gradually marking out in the East end of London an exact reproduction of the Union Jack.

Now, Sir, to speak seriously, I do not at all deny that the assassin may be a Frenchman; there are plenty of French assassins in the world, and, though I venture to think that in London English assassins are more plentiful, I am willing to admit the possibility of "Jack the Ripper" being my compatriot. But I say that the arguments by which "One Who Knows" seeks to establish this are utterly baseless and absurd. Frenchmen may be, as he says "the worst linguists in the world," but if he were a better "linguist" himself he would know that bad "linguists" may know their own language, and in this respect, Frenchmen may be compared favourably with any other people. As to his assertion that they constantly make mistakes in gender, it is simply untrue. There are a few substantives, such as "hotel," "ouvrage," &c., which have a feminine sound to the ear, and as to which some utterly uneducated French people fall into the error of applying to them feminine articles or adjectives; such a person might therefore talk of "une hotel juive," or "une ouvrage juive," but no French man, woman, or child would ever mistake a feminine for a masculine substantive, and the idea that they could, under any circumstances, write Juives for Juifs when using the word as a substantive is enough to make a Frenchman hold his sides with laughter. Perhaps "One Who Thinks He Knows" also thinks that the uneducated Frenchman speaks of femmes when he means hommes!

Your contributor refers for proof of his assertions to the "voluminous correspondence of Napoleon III." As I have not had access to this source of information - and, indeed, though tolerably conversant with the literature of my country, now hear for the first time of its existence - I should be much obliged if "One Who Thinks He Knows" would send you for publication a few extracts from this "voluminous correspondence" containing examples of mistakes in gender. He would be a doing a kindness to a poor French professor, who has always held that Napoleon III did much harm to his country, but who has hitherto held him guiltless of having introduced into its literature a new form of grammatical error.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
A FRENCHMAN
December 4.


Related pages:
  Graffito
       Dissertations: A Curious Find in Goulston Street 
       Dissertations: A Piece of Apron, Some Chalk Graffiti and a Lost Hour 
       Dissertations: Jacob the Ripper? 
       Dissertations: Off the Wall 
       Dissertations: Stephen White, Amos Simpson and Eddowes' Shawl 
       Dissertations: The Goulston Street Graffito Debate 
       Official Documents: Warren's Report to the Home Secretary - 6 November 1888 
       Press Reports: City Press - 17 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 13 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 13 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 17 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 8 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 20 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 12 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 08 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 1 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 12 October 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 15 October 1888 
       Ripper Letters: Ripper Letters 
       Victorian London: Goulston Street 
  Robert Donston
       Dissertations: Crowley’s Ripper: The Collected Writings of Roslyn D’Onst... 
       Dissertations: DOnston Stephenson: Dissecting the incident off Flamborou... 
       Dissertations: Jack the Ripper - by Aleister Crowley 
       Dissertations: Letter from the Sickbed: Donston Writes to the Police 
       Message Boards: Robert Donston Stephenson 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 3 December 1888 
       Ripper Media: Did Aleister Crowley Know the Identity of Jack the Ripper... 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper by Aleister Crowley 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands - Anne Deary 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Robert Donston Stephen... 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Rippers Black Magic Rituals 
       Ripper Media: The Ripper File 
       Ripper Media: The True Face of Jack the Ripper 
       Suspects: Robert Donston Stephenson