1 December 1888
JACK THE RIPPER
One of the most extraordinary things in connection with the mysterious outrages in London lately was the receipt of several letters signed Jack the Ripper, purporting to have been written by the murderer. The Central News says:-
On Thursday week the following letter, bearing the E.C. postmark, and directed in red ink, was delivered to this agency:-
25th September 1888
Dear Boss:- I keep on hearing the police have caught me, but they won't fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on ______, and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work, and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle to write with, but it went thick, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, I hope. Ha! ha! The next job I do I clip the lady's ear and send to the police officers, just for jolly. Wouldn't you? Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp; I want to get a chance. Good luck-
Jack T. Ripper
Don't mind me giving the trade name. Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands. Curse it; no luck yet! They say I am a doctor now. Ha! ha!
The whole of this extraordinary epistle is written in red ink, in a free, bold, clerkly hand. It was, of course, treated as the work of practical joker, but it is singular to note that the latest murders have been committed within a few days of the receipt of the letter, and that apparently in the case of his last victim the murderer made an attempt to cut off the ears, and that he actually did mutilate the face in a manner which he has never before attempted. The letter is now in the hands of the Scotland Yard authorities.
The Central News says:-
A postcard, bearing the stamp "London E., October 1" was received on Monday morning, addressed to the Central News office; the address and subject matter being written in red; and undoubtedly by the same person from whom the sensational letter already published was received on Thursday week. Like the previous missive, this also has reference to the horrible tragedies in East London, forming, indeed, a sequel to the same letter. It runs as follows:-
I was not codding, dear old boss, when I gave you the tip. You'll hear about Saucy Jacky's work tomorrow. Double event this time. Number one squealed a bit; couldn't finish straight off. Had not time to get ears for police. Thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again. Jack the Ripper.
The card is smeared on both sides with blood, which has evidently been impressed thereon by the thumb or finger of the writer, the corrugated surface of the skin being plainly shown upon the back of the card. Some words are nearly obliterated by a bloody smear. It is not necessarily assumed that this has been the work of the murderer, the idea that naturally occurs being that the whole thing is a practical joke. At the same time the writing of the previous letter immediately before the commission of the murders on Sunday was so singular a coincidence that it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the cool calculating villain who is responsible for the crimes has chosen to make the post a medium through which to convey to the press his grimly diabolical humour.
The Central Press has received the following letter, bearing the E.C. postmark, written in red ink, in a round hand, apparently by a person indifferently educated. At the foot is a rude drawing of a sharp, pointed knife, measuring three inches and the handle one:-
Dear Boss - Since last splendid success, two more, and never a squeal. O, I am master of the art. I am going to be heavy on the gilded ______ now. We are. Some duchess will cut up nicely, and the lace will show nicely. You wonder how. O, we are masters; no education like a butcher's. No animal like a nice woman. The fat are best. On to Brighton for a holiday, but we shan't idle. Splendid high class women there. My mouth waters. Good luck there. If not, you will hear from me in the West End. My pal will keep on at the East a while yet. When I get a nobility _____ I will send it on to C Warren, or perhaps to you for a keepsake. It is jolly. George of the High Rip Gang
Red ink still, but a drop of real in it.
Below are facsimiles of some of the communications from Jack the Ripper.
The following interesting letter, head "A Voice from the East" appears in "The Surrey Advertiser and County Times":-
Your readers may care for an account of an experience which may be unusual to most of them. I shall not varnish my tale or dress it in horrors to suit a morbid taste. I would not wish to provide such entertainment, nor you to partake of it, but it is well at times that we in the country should realise the life of an enormous multitude of our brothers and sisters in the larger towns.
Last night a friend with whom I was staying in the Northeast of London said to me "Let us go down and see Whitechapel Road and the scene of the murders." So leaving watches and purses behind we started off, and soon by road and rail reached Whitechapel Road. This in itself is a sight to see of a Saturday night. The glaring of lights, the shouts of itinerant vendors, the multitude of people, the crowded gin palaces, are not quite describable. On this particular night there was the additional excitement of the murder. The pavements were crammed with people talking of it, and one adventurous showman has already added the effigy of the unfortunate woman to his show. Into this we went. In the entrance room was the representation of the Last Supper which I have read of, and round about Kings, Queens, convicts, murderers, and other notables. The room, of course, was full of the lowest roughs in the world (at least, I thought so, but we found some lower later.) In the corner was a rickety staircase, down which we go to the chamber of horrors in the cellar beneath, and as you descend a villainous looking old woman whispers to us: "Mind your pockets." We went down; I didn't look at the horrors, but I looked very carefully at the men and women looking at them, with whom the cellar was crowded. There were some half dozen who, one would say, would cut your throat for twopence; and as we were the only people with decent coats on we thought five or six minutes sufficient. Then upstairs and along that extraordinary road, and past the mortuary, where, thank God, the poor soul was not, but such of her body as had been left, and then down into the back streets where it was done, meeting soon with a wildish looking tall man in trousers and white shirt, old, with long moustaches getting grey, and evidently an Irishman. He was holding forth at various corners, and professed to have been the finder of the body. After a while there was a cry that he was the murderer, but he moved on. Next, out of darkish side street, there came a true Hyde, only taller, muttering, growling; and, as we thought, some fellows were watching us, we moved on out of that and back round. Going accidentally to ask the way into a public house, we found it was the house where the poor creature was said to have been drinking early that morning, and in it were many sisters of hers, and brothers of the murderer perhaps. And so we gained the street and the house. Outside, these houses are not all of them so bad to look at. It is the people. A man came swearing out into the road, and a woman fled before him, and he burst out at me. "God," he screamed, "you rob me of this land of mine." I happened foolishly to be smoking a cigar, and I suppose he was a Socialist and took me for a more plutocratic personage. Well, then, this was pretty much all of it, so far as the sightseeing was concerned. We did not care to attract too much notice, so moved on and off. Now I looked at these many hundreds of men and women carefully. I suppose there was not anywhere in the world more of all things bad and miserable together in so small a space as in Hanboro (sic) street, and the streets round it, on Saturday night. And I thought a good deal, and examined very carefully. The faces were wretched and grievous beyond description - men, women, and children. There was amongst them nothing but horror and misery. Of course, all the horrid and miserable people for a mile round were thereabouts, but how many there were of them, young and old, well clothed and ill clothed, all degraded beyond words and thought. Could all this have been if there had been no civilisation? But I won't go into that. There they are, and here are we, and I take it we should be like them very soon were our circumstances the same. And I know not what we can do, save to do all we can - I am, etc.,
Charles S. Jerram
London papers by the incoming mail contain further news concerning the Berners street and Mitre Square murders.
The central News of October 12 says a startling fact has just come to light in connection with the recent Whitechapel murders. After killing Catherine Eddowes in Mitre square the murderer, it is now known, walked to Goulston street, where he threw away the piece of the deceased woman's apron upon which he wiped his hands and knife. Within a few feet of this spot he had written upon the wall: "The Jews shall not be blamed for nothing." Most unfortunately one of the police officers gave orders for this writing to be immediately sponged out, probably with a view of stifling the morbid curiosity which it would certainly have aroused; but in so doing a very important link was destroyed: for, had the writing been photographed, a certain clue would have been in the hands of the authorities. The witnesses who saw the writing, however, state that it was similar in character to that of letters sent to the Central News office and signed Jack the Ripper. Though it would be far better to have clearly demonstrated this by photography, there is no reason to believe that the writer of the letter and the postcard sent to the Central News, facsimiles of which are now to be seen outside of every police station, is the actual murderer. The police consequently are very anxious that every citizen who can identify the handwriting should without delay communicate with the authorities. The Central News, since the original letter and postcard of Jack the Ripper were published, have been receiving from 30 to 40 communications daily signed Jack the Ripper. These are evidently the concoction of silly notoriety hunters. A third communication, however, has been received from the writer of the original Jack the Ripper letter, and a postcard which, acting upon official advice, it has been deemed prudent to withhold for the present. It may be stated, however, that although the miscreant avows his intention of committing further crimes shortly, it is only against women of the unfortunate class that his threats are directed, his desire being to respect and protect honest women.
A Vienna correspondent states that Dr. Block, a member of the Austrian Reichsrath, has called his attention to certain facts which may throw a new light on the Whitechapel murders. In various German criminal codes of the 17th and 18th centuries, as also in statutes of a more recent date, punishments are prescribed for the mutilation of female corpses with the object of making from certain organs the so called "dietslichter" or "schlafslichter" respectively (thieves' candles and soporific candles). According to an old superstition still rife in various parts of Germany, the light from such candles will throw those upon whom it falls into the deepest slumbers, and they may consequently become a valuable instrument to the thieving profession. Among other cases the "schlafslichter" were heard of at the trial of the notorious German robber, Theodore Unger, surnamed Handsome Charley, who was executed at Mogdeluy in 1810. It was on that occasion discovered that a regular manufactory had been established by gangs of thieves for the production of such candles. That this superstition has survived among German thieves to the present day was proved by a case tried at Biala in Galica as recently as 1875. In this the body of a woman had been found mutilated in precisely the same way as were the victims of the Whitechapel murders.
The Daily News correspondent telegraphs: The Whitechapel murders have not only been a newspaper sensation of the first magnitude, but have got on weak brains and set madmen and lovers of practical jokes writing to the Prefect of Police. M. Gauren, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, receives letters written from both. The following was received by him recently:-
You must have heard of the Whitechapel murders. This is the explanation of their mysterious side. There are partners - I and another - in this business; one is in England and the other in France. I am at Brest, and am going to Paris to operate as does my London colleague in London. We are seeking in the human body that which the doctors have never found, and you will try in vain to hunt us down."
It is stated that the police authorities attach a great deal of importance to the spelling of the word Jews in the writing on the wall at the spot where the Mitre square murderer threw away a portion of the murdered woman's apron. The language of the Jews in the East End is a hybrid dialect known as yiddish, and their mode of spelling the word Jews would be "Juives." This the police consider a strong indication that the crime was committed by one of the numerous foreigners by whom the East End is infested. The order to erase the words on the wall, as stated in evidence at the inquest, was given by an officer in the Metropolitan Police Force with the humane intention of averting an increase of the anti-Jewish feeling which ism unfortunately, very general in the East End of London. So real were the apprehensions of the police authorities in this way, that on the Sunday night of the murders the chief police stations in the East End were reinforced by fifty constables each.
The police, says The Star, have reason to believe that the Whitechapel murderer is a man of several disguises. It will be remembered that Ann Nicholls was murdered on the night of August 30th, and on the following night it was reported that a woman was set upon by a gang of roughs in Cambridge Heath Road, one of whom had attempted to force her into an alleyway. This report proved to be false as far as the gang were concerned. The police ascertained however that a woman had been set upon by a man, and that her cries had attracted a number of others whose efforts to capture her assailants led to the gang story. The miscreant escaped in the direction of the Commercial Road. That was about 11 o'clock, and not later than quarter past 11 a man stepped hurriedly into a yard entrance at No. 2, Little Turner street, Commercial road. On one side of the yard is a milk stand; that man asked for a glass of milk, and when served drank it hurriedly, and then, looking about in a frightened manner, asked if he might step back into the yard. The proprietor, Henry Birch, did not object, but presently, his suspicions being aroused, he stepped towards the man and found him drawing on a suit of new overalls over his ordinary clothes. The pants were already on, and he was stooping to take a jacket from a black shiny bag which lay at his feet. When the proprietor Birch stepped up to him he seemed to be very much upset by the interruption, and for a moment could not speak; but presently he said, "That was a terrible murder last night, wasn't it?" and, before Birch could answer, he added, "I think I've got a clue", and snatching up his bag he disappeared down the street. Mr. Birch then thought he might be a detective adopting a disguise for some purpose, but the police believe he was the man who assaulted the woman in Cambridge Heath Road, and then donned the overalls to mislead anyone who might be tracing him. They have the name of the woman referred to, and her description tallies with that given by Birch of his mysterious caller whose clothing was described as a blue serge suit and a stiff brown hat.