RogerBW's Blog

Jack the Ripper unmasked 17 February 2018

For over a century, people have speculated about the identity of "Jack the Ripper", the unknown killer who butchered at least five women in Whitechaper during the latter half of 1888.

Over a hundred persons have been named as possible Rippers, from the plausible to the outlandish (Lewis Carroll, or Prince Albert Victor Duke of Clarence). But few speculations have turned on the original and artistic nature of the killings; such attention to detail would be the work of no common labourer, but of an educated man, someone accustomed to setting himself an unpleasant task and seeing it through with self-discipline.

A man, for example, who had written in a letter to a friend some six years earlier:

no beauty […] can make up for want of purity

A man who could write at the last of his task, of

The horror and the havoc and the glory

Clearly this was a fanatic in waiting – not to mention a member of a famously secretive religious order, known for covering up the more dubious activities of their members.

And, indeed, one known for holding an implausibly perfect picture of womanhood, the "mighty mother" against whom all other women would be compared and found wanting.

Yes, it is clear to me that Gerard Manley Hopkins was Jack the Ripper. This "listless stranger, beckoned by the noise" of London, convinced the world of his illness; of course he couldn't have been in London carving up prostitutes, the people who knew him foolishly believed, for he was on a sick-bed in Dublin.

But Hopkins is in London now; he

sees it is the best There; sweetest, freshest, shadowiest;

and indulges in his

paring of paradisaïcal fruit, | lovely in waning but lustreless,

(Catherine Eddowes was forty-three.)

The poems make all clear:

Man Jack the man is, just; his mate a hussy

Whether the strain was too much for him and he died of it the next summer (after all, the timing of the death of John Druitt is the main point in his favour as the Ripper), or whether his fellow Jesuits found out what he had done and prevented a repetition in the traditional manner, we shall probably never know.

I find it hard to believe that such obvious clues have been overlooked for so long, and hope that this piece may go some way to redressing the balance. "Tell Summer No," indeed.

Tags: history

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 11:24am on 17 February 2018

    Bad Roger! BAAAAAAAD!


    (MA Oxon: Eng Lang and Lit)

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