Death of Dr. Forbes Winslow Recalls Famous Murders of Women in Whitechapel.
London, July 5.
Dr. L. Forbes Winslow, who died suddenly at the age of 69, was the greatest authority in mental disorders in this country and the deepest student of the medical aspect of crime. His knowledge of the greatest criminals was more personal than that of Scotland Yard, for he studied the psychology of murder and the mental condition of the murderer more closely than any other physician of his day.
Hanging in frames in his reception room was a series of postcards which the doctor believed had come from Jack the Ripper. By some means - through an advertisement, it is said, in the agony column of a newspaper - Dr. Forbes Winslow got in touch with the man. When the third or fourth of the horrible murders and mutilations had been committed in Whitechapel the doctor received these cards stating that another crime was about to be carried out. In some cases the promise from the unknown Jack the Ripper was kept in a horrible manner.
Then the doctor told Scotland Yard that they would find the man they wanted on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral one Sunday morning. Scotland Yard had their own idea as to the murderer's identity, and sent no detectives to St. Paul's.
The doctor has said that he spent several nights in the East End in the neighbourhood of the Ripper murders stealing about in noiseless felt slippers in the hope that he might catch this criminal lunatic - of his insanity he was convinced from the first - but the Ripper had become too "shy" to be captured.
The dead physician formed many startling theories as the result of his close inquiries. One of the most striking of them all was that, calculating according to the growth of lunacy during the past fifty years, and allowing for a progressive increase, "we shall be a mad world in 300 years' time." Dr. Forbes Winslow quoted the saying of a well known English psychologist that "in order to have a genius born into the world you must get two lunatics to marry," to support the view that the great mad race will be followed by a race of geniuses.
Modern conditions of life the doctor looked upon with great disfavor, and the believers in race degeneracy had his support. In England, he declared in his book, "The Insanity of Passion and Crime", ever since the Norman conquest we have been intermarrying and inbreeding in consumption, lunacy, cancer, scrofula or hereditary peculiarities, the result being "a rapidly degenerating race of feeble minded and weakly constituted individuals."
To alcohol Dr. Forbes Winslow was bitterly opposed. More then 25 per cent of all the lunacy in the world, he declared, was due to alcohol, and more then two thirds of all crime was due to the same cause; while nearly every murder was the result of drunkenness, directly or indirectly. It was responsible, he said, for the ever increasing army of lunatics, and before many years it might be the means of converting a sane world into a mad one.
The popular fallacy that the man of intellect is the man of large brain found no sympathy with Dr. Forbes Winslow, who declared that the brain of an insane person weighs more than that of a healthy sane person. Insanity, to a greater or less degree, was frequent among criminals, said the doctor. The greatest number of crimes were committed while the criminal was in an insane condition or in a condition which might be changed into it.
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