10 August 1888
Undeterred by the general condemnation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a drama, another book of Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson's is being fitted for the stage-"Prince Otto." This is rather a less promising subject than the one now playing in London.
John Holland, who was attacked by three men in the Bethnal-green-road, and stabbed with a penknife in the abdomen, is progressing favourably. On inquiry at the London Hospital this morning, our reporter was informed that Holland's condition has vastly improved, and that he is not now on the "dangerous list."
What induced me to go out of the bright Italian sunshine of Tuesday, when London out of doors was simply delightful, and to plunge into the comparatively gloomy abode of the waxen effigies of kings and queens, statesmen and murderers, I know not. Possibly it was the morning edition of The Echo, containing the account of Jackson's execution, the scene on the scaffold, and other graphic details; and a certain morbid desire to see the counterpart of the Manchester murderer "fixed up" in the condemned cell, which is the latest addition to Madame Tussaud's. So I went.
Madame Tussaud's! I suppose there must be thousands who visit this famous exhibition weekly who are unaware that more than a century has passed since that bright-eyed little lady, who is now one of the figures in the central hall, commenced to model the celebrities of her day, and to travel with her modest show around the cities and villages of France. Or that, fifty years ago, the Exhibition, which is now one of the sights of London, was but a small collection of models and "moral statoos," as Mr. A. Ward was wont to say. Three grandsons and a grand-daughter now reign conjointly, and preside over the Exhibition, adding something to the four hundred and odd figures almost every week.
I was curious to see the modeling process, which is carried on in the building; but there was no modeling going on just then, so I had to be content with a casual look round at my old friends, the Kings of England, from William the Conqueror, who seems to be arguing a matrimonial point with Matilda, down to her Majesty Queen Victoria, as she appears in the many family and State groups; and to go to the region below; where a very busy throng were feasting on the prints of Bulgarian atrocities and racks and tortures, as a sort of appetizer to the Chamber of Horrors.
Sure enough Jackson was the hero of the hour, and the centre of attraction in the Chamber of Horrors, the crowd lingering around the corner in which he is located, and the scenic representation of his cell, with a singular fascination. For this latest criminal, scarcely cold in his grave within the Strangeways Gaol, the crowd passed the gallows of Thurtell and the guillotine, neglected the monkey-like features of Charles Pearce and the vacuous face of Percy Mapleton Lefroy. I could not do that, for Lefroy was a slight acquaintance of mine. I saw him as he came out from the cell into the courtyard of Lewes Gaol-saw him led tremblingly down to the black gallows; saw the last despairing look of his white face-white as the cap which Marwood drew over his head in the morning sunlight; and a second or two later saw his body go down quivering into the abyss below, and the memory of those few moments, brought vividly back to me by that figure, will last me a lifetime.
Must I confess it, that though I spent a couple of hours in the building looking once again at the familiar models, and duly admiring the more recent groups, my thoughts were constantly wandering downstairs-to Lefroy, with his long neck and receding forehead, his starchy blue eyes, and his weak mouth? I missed even the humour of the situation when a lady from the country sat down by the side of Cobbett and commenced a conversation with him on the subject of the weather! And I was only restored when Howard Reynolds played one of Schubert's sweetest serenades, and I came out once more from that world in wax to the living, laughing, working world of London.
TWO SOLDIERS UNDER ARREST.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE VICTIM.
EXTRAORDINARY CONFLICT OF OPINION.
"No crime more brutal has ever been committed in the East-end," said a Criminal Investigation officer, this morning, "than the one at George-yard-buildings." The murder to which allusion was made was that of the young woman found in a block of model dwellings in Whitechapel-road, with thirty-nine stabs on her body-one over her heart, and others of a nature too revolting to name is now supposed to be Martha Turner but of this nothing positive is yet known, for, strange to say, no less than four persons, of different families, have come forward and positively identified the deceased, and are apparently ready to swear as to the accuracy of their assertions. The woman's features are rapidly changing from post-mortem appearances. As soon as she was discovered the police had a photograph taken of her body, but the features were so distorted-possibly by an agonizing death-that some difficulty was at first experienced by her supposed friends in accurately recognizing her. A man, who declares the deceased is his sister, not only recognizes her face, but also asserts the boots belonging to her were those he had seen the murdered woman wearing.
"But what about the three missing persons?" asked our reporter of the officer, remarking that, as four people had claimed one body, there were evidently mysterious disappearances upon which some light might be thrown. "That I cannot say," was the answer. "Whitechapel is not like any other part of London, no portion of the Metropolis so crowded;" and the officer, in his own words, thus spoke:-"We have to be very particular about persons coming to identify bodies. I'll tell you why. Not long ago a man complained to the Thames Magistrate that he had lost his wife. What could his Worship do? Well, it so happened that a young female dropped down dead near Great Alie-street. The husband and a woman, said to be her sister, declared that they recognized the body. 'That's my missus,' said the man, 'That's her, right enough,' added the sister. Very poor people. The body was buried by the parish, and the man, armed with a burial certificate, showin that his wife was dead, married again." "The 'sister' who came with him to the station?" interposed the reporter. "That I don't know; but he did marry, and his 'dead' wife turned up. Well, the bigamist pleaded that he'd actually buried his first wife, and produced a copy of the certificate of burial and other evidence. What could be done? The man was acquitted though there seemed to me something queer about the whole business."
The case in question is in certain respects one of a very puzzling character, owing to the fact that so many stab wounds were inflicted, and that no cries were heard, although the poor woman was on some stone steps, close to the doors of small rooms wherein several separate families resided. It now appears that on the night of Bank Holiday there were several soldiers in the neighbourhood, some of whom were seen drinking in the Princess Alice-two minutes' walk from George-yard-buildings-and other taverns near. With these soldiers were the deceased and another woman, the latter being known in the district, so it is said, as "Mogg" and "Pearly Poll." One of these men was a private, the other a corporal. It has been ascertained that only corporals and sergeants are allowed to wear side arms when on leave. This fact, of course, narrows the issue as to the possible identity of the assailant-presuming he was a soldier.
Inquiries were at once set on foot by the police and military authorities, with the result that it is stated two soldiers have been placed under military arrest at the Tower. The authorities decline to give their names unless some definite charge is formulated. "Pearly Poll" has been invited by the detectives engaged in the case to give what assistance she can in the matter, and it is now thought that the officers engaged in the case-amongst whom are Detective-inspector Reid, Detective Leech, and Detective-sergeant Viner-have gained a substantial clue as to the perpetrator of the diabolical outrage.
A perplexing feature in connection with the outrage is the number of injuries on the young woman's body. That the stabs were from a weapon shaped like a bayonet, is almost established beyond doubt. The wound over the heart was alone sufficient to kill, and death must have occurred as soon as that was inflicted. Unless the perpetrator were a madman, or suffering to an unusual extent from drink-delirium, no tangible explanation can be given of the reason for inflicting the other thirty-eight injuries, some of which almost seem as if they were due to thrusts and cuts from a penknife. On the other hand, if the lesser wounds were given before the one fatal injury, the cries of the deceased must have been heard by those who, at the time of the outrage, were sleeping within a few yards of the spot where the deed was committed.
are at present as mysterious as those connected with the brutal and yet undiscovered murder perpetrated a few months ago, also in Whitechapel, where some miscreant, in the dead of night, murdered a woman in the street by thrusting a walking-stick or other blunt weapon into her body with great violence. For ferocity, the two cases are somewhat analogous, and some of the Scotland-yard experts in tracing criminals and fathoming crime incline to the opinion that one man is responsible for the two crimes.