Tuesday, 27 November 1888
His Career in Canada and in Various Cities in the Country.
From the New York World.
The mysterious Dr. Twomblety, the American arrested in London November 18, suspected of having had some connection with the Whitechapel murders, seems to have figured extensively in Boston, where he is very well known. The same veil of mystery enveloped his private life in that city as everywhere else.
The first appearance of Twomblety was in 1860 and 1861, when he cut a great figure at St. John, N.B. He claimed to be an electric physician of international reputation. He put up at the leading hotel of the city, and by his pretentious airs convinced the people that he was all he represented himself to be. He adopted the same system of personal advertisement he has followed up ever since, only in those early days he was given to extremes in dress. He would dash through the streets mounted on a superb white horse, followed by a troop of thoroughbred hounds, and arrayed in the most gorgeous style. Practice poured into him, he charged whatever fee he pleased and made money rapidly.
Presently it began to be whispered about that the "doctor" was a pretentious humbug and vulgar charlatan. The more respectable portion of the community dropped him. Just at this time one of his patients died, and under very peculiar circumstances. The man's name was Portmore, and as he was well known and had many friends, his death created a sensation. A request was made by the family for an autopsy, and when it was held it was found that Potmore's death was entirely due to the "doctor's" astrocious (sic) treatment. So gross was the malpractice that the case was at once given to the coroner, and a jury was empanelled to more fully investigate.
There is a great deal of red tape about coroner's juries in that part of the country, and by the time the jury had thoroughly sifted all the evidence and proved that the "doctor" was guilty of manslaughter, he had fled to Boston. For some unknown reason he was never pursued, and he was soon as conspicuous in Boston as he had been in St. John. There was the same white horse, the same collection of dogs, the same gorgeous dressing.
His St. John experience made him careful about the general practice of medicine, and he appeared in Boston as the inventor of a sure cure for pimples. He devoted his time entirely to ladies and did a rushing business. His trade increased to such an extent that he opened a branch office in this city, and afterward he worked Jersey City and Pittsburg and many western cities, going as far as San Francisco.
He also made himself conspicuous in Canada, and his big form, set off by striking attire, is as familiar to Toronto and Montreal as it is to New York. In Canada he was very fond of exhibiting to newly-made acquaintances a medal which purported to be the gift of his admirers when he left Canada to begin what he termed his "crusade against the pimples which disfigured the faces of American women." In his wanderings he did not forget the fashionable watering-places, and at even so exclusive and aristocratic a spot at White Sulphur springs (sic) he paraded himself, with all his offensive vulgarity of attire, to the great horror of the staid old Virginia aristocracy.
By some it is said that Twomblety is not the man's real name at all, but that he was known as Sullivan and lived in Nova Scotia up to 1864. There is evidently either a confusion of names or dates about this statement, as there is conclusive proof that the "doctor" was known as Twomblety in St. John two years before 1862, and as Twomblety was quite well known in New York and Boston in 1864 and for many years afterward. There appears to be no doubt that Twomblety in his myriad of movings did at one time live in Nova Scotia, where it is said he behaved in such a scandalous manner as to bring himself into great odium.
In various cities the "doctor" has been shadowed by the police. Detectives have followed him, watched his office, dogged his footsteps, noted his companions, and tried in every way to find out the secret of his private life, which he so jealously guarded, and not one of them has been successful. Who is he? What is his nationality? Where is his home, his family? Who are his friends, his associates? None of these questions has ever been answered.
Innumerable stories are told of the "doctor," which are all more or less apocryphal. It is said that once, when he lived at Pittsburg, he was thrown from his horse while riding through the street and was carried home for dead. He lay in a trance for three days. Everyone considered him dead, and preparations were made for his funeral. At last the undertaker came with the coffin, and everything being ready the doctor was put into it. But, alas, the coffin was too short. When the "doctor" was safely stowed away out popped his feet, and when his feet were carefully tucked in, up bobbed his head. Here was a pretty muddle! The coffin could not be sent back, there was no time for that, and besides it was the longest one available. At last the undertaker determined that it was all obstinacy on the part of the corpse, and if the coffin did not fit him he was to blame, not the coffin, and should be made to fit it. Thus reasoning he provided himself with a saw and prepared to remove the "doctor's" legs, but they were the pride of the "doctor" in life and he was not going to desert them in death. So he sat bolt upright in the coffin and vigorously protested. The undertaker became a raving maniac and the "doctor" saved his legs.
A few years ago the pimple-banishing enterprise was moved to London, where the doctor for a time is said to have made money. It was his queer method of spending his money which first attracted the Scotland Yard detectives to him, and after a slight investigation he was arrested, the idea being that if he were not the Whitechapel fiend, he is a dangerous character, and is not entitled to his liberty.