28 September 1888
AN EMINENT MEDICAL MAN ON THE CORONER'S THEORY
In a letter which he publishes in The Times today, Sir James Risdon Bennett comments upon the statement made by the coroner to the jury at the inquest on the death of the woman Chapman, and refers to the injurious influence which the coroner's theory is likely to exert on the public mind. Sir James says:-
I will, for the sake of argument, assume that the information given to the coroner by the officer of one of the medical schools is correct, and that Dr. Phillips is right in considering that the character of the mutilation in question justifies the assumption that the perpetrator was probably one who possessed some knowledge of anatomy. But that the inference which has been deduced is warranted, any one who is the least acquainted with medical science and practice will unhesitatingly deny and indignantly repudiate. That a lunatic may have desired to obtain possession of certain organs for some insane purpose is very possible, and the theory of the murdering fiend being a madman only derives confirmation from the information obtained by the coroner. But that the parts of the body carried off were wanted for any quasi scientific publication, or any other more or less legitimate purpose, no one having any knowledge of medical science will for a moment believe. To say nothing of the utterly absurd notion of the part, or organ, being preserved in a particular way to accompany each copy of an intended publication, the facilities for obtaining such objects for any purpose of legitimate research, in any number, either here or in America, without having recourse to crime of any kind, are such as to render the suggestion made utterly untenable. There can be no analogy whatever with the atrocious crimes of Burke and Hare, the merest insinuation of which is a gross and unjustifiable calumny on the medical profession.