16 November 1888
To the Editor of the St. James's Gazette
Sir,- The "extraordinary statement" - very properly so headed - which appeared in today's papers about the Whitechapel murderer's cousin, whose conscience suddenly impelled him to make a confession to a fruiterer from whom he had just chanced to buy twelve shillings' worth of rabbits, seems rather to lack finish. It omits to add how many rabbits the murderer's cousin got for his twelve shillings. In justice to the fruiterer this should have been told, and I think there might also have been some slight acknowledgement of the zeal and intelligence of the reporter who was conveniently at hand to take down the fruiterer's story and convey it promptly to the Home Secretary - and to the News Agencies. It has doubtless occurred to many people, and it is well known to the police, that extraordinary statements of this kind and the extraordinary proceedings of the amateur detectives who nightly patrol Whitechapel are of great help - to the murderer in evading discovery. Every wrongful arrest and every wild goose chase after the murderer's cousin on which the police are sent tends distinctly in the murderer's favour. You cannot play the fool in these ways with men, however efficient, without lessening their efficiency. And, unfortunately, just at present the police dare not, as they should, tell the amateur detectives to go home, and the murderer's cousin to make his confession, if he has any to make, at the nearest police station. If the murderer be possessed, as I imagine he is, with the usual cunning of lunacy, I should think it probable that he was one of the first to enrol himself amongst the amateur detectives.
As to the disgusting Jack the Ripper letter and post card of which facsimiles were published, the detective police are much less intelligent than I suppose them to be if they do not know where to look for the writer if they want him.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Inquirers at the east end police stations this morning were informed that no arrest that could be considered important had been made during the night. Several men whose conduct had been considered suspicious were denounced to the police by amateur detectives and conveyed to the stations; but were released after a short detention, being able to clear themselves. At Commercial street a man was taken into custody who had aroused suspicion by visiting the various lodging houses in the neighbourhood. He stated he was on the look out for Jack the Ripper. After being detained some hours he was liberated.