By Lawrence Churton Collins, 1912
A distinguished literary critic of the late 19th and early 20th century, John Churton Collins seems to have also had a marked interest in the Whitechapel murders. His memoirs were published in 1912, four years after his death, by his surviving son Lawrence Churton Collins.
The following extract relates the story of a walk Collins took through the streets of Whitechapel in 1905, accompanied by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a slew of others interested in the crimes.
Yesterday, Wednesday, April , I went round all the scenes and sites of the Whitechapel Murders (the nine, as wlel as where the trunk was found) with Conan Doyle, Laurie, Ingleby Oddie, & Dr Crosse of Norwich. Dr Gordon Browne was our escort and two detectives also escorted us. In addition to these sites we visited Petticoat Lane, the Jews' fowl-slaughtering houses, a Dosshouse, and the like places. Dr Gordon Browne, who was concerned in all of them, seeing most of the corpses ust after they were murdered, conducting postmortems, etc., told me these particulars : . . He was inclined to think that he (the murderer) was or had been a medical student, as he undoubtedly had a knowledge of human anatomy, but that he was also a butcher, as the mutilations slashing the nose, etc., were butchers' cuts.
There was absolutely no foundation, in his opinion, for the theory that he was a homicidal maniac doctor, whose body was found in the Thames, tho' that is the theory at Scotland Yard,* because (1) the last murder, possibly the last two murders, were committed after the body was found, he was strongly of opinion that the last two were Ripper murders; (2) the murderer was never seen near enough for any trustworthy identification, and Dr G. Browne was absolutely of opinion that they still remain an unsolved mystery. He thought the murderer suffered from a sort of homicidal satyriasis-that it was sexual perversion. The trunk found in Finbury St. in September 1889 which he inspected, had the same incision as was characteristic of the Ripper murders, but it may have been an imitation, and it may have been one of the dynasty of murders---he could not say. Conan Doyle seemed very much interested, particularly in the Petticoat Lane part of the expedition, and laughed when I said " Caliban would have turned up his nose at this." We also saw the house where the Myers were murdered by the man who was executed when Fowler & Milsom were. The inscription about the Jews, " The Jewes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing," was probably genuine, as a portion of the Apron covered with blood, etc., on which the fiend had wiped his hands after the Mitre Square murder was found on the ground just beneath it.
*Unless Scotland Yard has more than one theory, this theory does not tally with that given by Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B., late head of the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard, who, in his book entitled a "The Lighter Side of my Official Life," says : One did not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to discover that the criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent type ; that he was living in the immediate vicinity of the scenes of the murders ; and that, if he was not living absolutely alone, his people knew of his guilt, and refused to give him up to justice. And the conclusion we came to was that he and his people were certain low-claw Polish Jews ; for it is a remarkable fact that people of that claw in the East End will not give up one of their number to Gentile justice.
And the result proved that our diagnosis was right on every point . . . And if the Police here had powers such as the. French Police possess, the murderer world have been brought to justice... .
Having regard to the interest attaching to this case, I am almost tempted to disclose the identity of the murderer.. But no public benefit would result from such a course, and the Traditions of my old department would suffer. I will merely add that the only person who had ever had a good view of the murderer unhesitatingly identified the suspect the instant he was confronted with him ; but he refused to give evidence against him.
In saying that he was a Polish Jew, I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact. And my words are meant to specify race, not religion. For it would outrage all religious sentiment to talk of the religion of a loathsome creature whose utterly unmentionable vices reduced him to a lower level than that of the brute.