Ripper Letters
Police Officials
Official Documents
Press Reports
Victorian London
Message Boards
Ripper Media
Games & Diversions
Photo Archive
Ripper Wiki
Casebook Examiner
Ripper Podcast
About the Casebook

Most Recent Posts:
Pub Talk: Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts? - by cobalt 16 minutes ago.
Pub Talk: Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts? - by Abby Normal 48 minutes ago.
Pub Talk: Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts? - by Herlock Sholmes 1 hour ago.
Pub Talk: Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts? - by cobalt 2 hours ago.
Maybrick, James: One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary - by Iconoclast 2 hours ago.
Maybrick, James: One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary - by Iconoclast 2 hours ago.
Druitt, Montague John: Reasons why? - by Herlock Sholmes 3 hours ago.
Torso Killings: The Paris Torso Mystery - by John Wheat 3 hours ago.

Most Popular Threads:
Druitt, Montague John: Reasons why? - (37 posts)
Maybrick, James: One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary - (25 posts)
Pub Talk: Criminologist David Wilson - Y'all's Thoughts? - (23 posts)
Torso Killings: The Paris Torso Mystery - (15 posts)
Catherine Eddowes: From Mitre Square to Goulston Street - Some thoughts. - (5 posts)
Pub Talk: Nicola Bulley, what does everybody think? - (5 posts)

Port Philip Herald

9 March 1891






Julian Hawthorne, the American litterateur, has, with many other writers of ability, speculated upon the psychological characteristics of the London mystery fiend, "Jack the Ripper", and although the speculations, like the efforts of the keenest of London detectives, have failed to establish the personality of the dread assassinator, they are nevertheless highly interesting. Hawthorne compares "the Ripper" with an American criminal of great notoriety, one James Dougharty, and concludes that egotism run mad is the cause of his horrid deeds. Dugharty, in a journal which he kept, and which was published to the world, announced that private assassination is a divine right.

He regarded himself as a sort of Messiah. All his thoughts and deeds were, in his opinion, inspired and immaculate, though the beautiful actress, whom he conceived a violent affection for, and annoyed with his amorous attentions, did not think so. Certainly, the inoffensive old physician whom he murdered would not have thought so, were he capable of thinking at all. Dougharty believed he possessed the perfection of physical beauty, and it was his very egotism run wild which led him into crime. "The moment egotism reaches the pitch of active insanity," says Hawthorne, "it commits with ecstatic self-approval deeds which other men in their worst moments scarcely venture even to think about. It is the growing diabolical instinct, latent in all human nature, but kept down by the tremendous pressure of public opinion, private self restraint, moral training, and inherited habit. What we term insanity is the removal of this pressure or restraint, and the consequent supremacy of the ego. The essence of this species of maniac - transcendent egotism and vanity - appears to be that its subject holds himself to be altogether alien from, and superior to, all other beings; he is not of the same flesh and blood as they are, and they possess, comparatively, no rights and no standing. The one use which he recognizes their ability to perform is to swell the chorus of his praise, and it is largely in order to start that chorus that he perpetrates his enormities. He finds himself writ large in the newspapers, and he chews the sweet cud of satisfaction. With the numberless benefactions of the press we are all familiar, but the fact remains that had James Dougharty and Jack the Ripper not been assured of seeing the account of their performances printed in the daily journals, a large part (though by no means the whole) of the stimulus that moved them to their crimes would have been non-existent. Certainly the daily journals are not to blame for that; if anyone is to blame it is ourselves who insist upon having the news every morning. The high pressure at which modern civilization compels us to live not only tends to produce cases of paresis, but, as summarised and chronicled in the newspapers, it chances (?) to paresis patients one of the chief supports and incitements of their malady.


Jack the Ripper is, of course, a much more complex and subtle character than our james Dougharty. His vanity is of a finer, more abstract, quality; he is content that his deeds should be famous, while he himself remains invisible. He is gifted, too, with a feeling for art that is lacking in James; he plies his vocation among one class only of the community, and aims to observe certain physiological and geographical rules of procedure that shall render his work readily recognisable as his. He has evidently given the matter profound thought, and is as precise and fastidious in his methods and conditions as any Brummel in his toilet, or valetudinarian in his diet and regimen. A throat clumsily cut would bring tears of mortification to his eyes; and he would almost rather not slaughter than be credited with the botched jobs of would be imitators. Having decided to act incognito, he has invented an imaginary character for himself, has given it a striking name, and in all that he does or says before the public is careful to conform to the artistic demands of the role. We may be sure that the histrionic Jack is a very different personage from the real, unknown creature who is pulling his strings.

Jack is a rollicking, devil may care, mocking, audacious chap, twiddling his fingers in the policeman's face; and making a jest of horrors. The real man is very likely a moping recluse, afflicted with some bodily weakness, apart from his brain affection; a person of refined intellect, sensitive, whimsical, and rather effeminate. In fact, "he" might well be a woman; and were this the case, the mysterious insensibility of the murderer would be easily explained. as well as the extraordinary ease with which the victims were approached. Be that as it may, the ghastly antics of the suppositious Jack doubtless afford unspeakable relief and delight to the person for whom he stands, because the former does and is whatever the latter cannot do and is not. The psychological situation here is as interesting as it is intricate, and would repay careful study. Cinderella, who must be a scullion and sit in the ashes by day, at night puts on shining raiment and plays the princess at the ball. The ghoul, after enduring with exemplary patience the insipid meals and tedious respectability of domestic life, plunges forth with a havoc of joyous appetite into the graveyard and gluttonously indulges in the delicacies to be found there. And Jack the Ripper, after the long, arid wearisomeness of a curate's or a doctor's or a schoolmistress's round of duties chuckles with secret ecstasy over the prospect of a free, delirious dance of death in Whitechapel, and the public consternation and uproar the next morning. Which is the true nature - the diurnal or the nocturnal one? It is a curious question. Is man anything except the indifferent vehicle of heaven and hell? Insanity may sometimes raise the corner of a curtain behind which lurk the darkest secrets of humanity.


In conclusion, Hawthorne says:- "I do not attach much weight to the recent story about the discovery of Jack the Ripper's lodgings. It seems to fit the common anticipation too well. But the originator of the character must live somewhere, and be on terms of daily intercourse with other people. When his next season of activity arrives - and it is likely to be long delayed - it behooves these other people to be open eyed. Some alteration in the habits of their friend will be observable, contemporaneously with Jack's performance. Is their friend the very last person in the world who could possibly be Jack? Then the chances favor the conclusion that Jack is he. If, in addition, he has ever betrayed any of the symptoms pointing to lesions of the brain tissues, the case against him will be strengthened. And we may be sure that when he is discovered he will derive at least as much satisfaction from the revelation as anyone else. At that moment he will touch the apogee of glory as he understands it. For that he will be the cynosure of civilized mankind. And so alluring must be, to him, the prospect of this apotheosis, that it is highly probable he may be tempted to become his own discoverer. It will certainly be more artistic and dramatic than to await the tardy and blundering pursuit of Scotland Yard. Turn this over in your mind, Jack, and let us hear from you."