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STUART CUMBERLAND AND JACK THE RIPPER.

[From Ocr Own Correspondent.]

London, August 10.

Stuart Cumberland has been dreaming in an altogether too delightfully apropos manner about“ Jack the Ripper,” Thought-reading as a profession having fizzled out, the enterprising Stuart appears to be plumbing society to ascertain how a course of prophotic dreaming would go down. After all if these visions have no other use they make capital “copy” for the‘Mirror,’ and also servo to advertise ‘ A Fatal Affinity,’ But I’ll Jet your recent visitor speak for himself. “I see it,” says Mr Cumberland, “repeatedly asked in both the English and foreign Press why, if I possess the power of thought-reading, I am unable to lay my hand upon the author of the Whitechapel murders, and from time to time I receive letters calling upon me to exert myself towards bringing the murderer to justice. To my critics and to my correspondents I can only reply that my power to read thoughts is limited, and that I can no more trace out the whereabouts of an assassin than I can see through a stone wall. In thoughtreading the operator must have the one whose thoughts are to be read in front of him in order that he, observing the physical indications that person may betray, may arrive at his thoughts. This is how it stands so far as I am concerned with the diabolical scoundrel called ‘ Jack the Ripper.’ I have nothing to go upon, no suspect to try my thought-reading upon ; were it otherwise I might possibly be able to bring the crime home to the guilty man. But although I have, for the reasons above stated, been unable up to the present to aid justice in the matter of the Whitechapel murders, I have none the less given the ghastly subject a good deal of thought, with the result thUt in my dreams the face of a man claiming to be the author of these murders has presented itself to me. The first time this face appeared to me was when I was in Dundee last October, soon after the perpetration of the sixth murdei, and tho next day I related the particulars of my dream to a representative of the ‘ Dundee Advertiser,’ who made, I believe, a note of them. A couple of weeks later I again saw the face, and I remarked to Dr Ruble, who was then editing the London ‘Evening News,’ I believed that within a couple of days we should have another Whitechapel murder, ‘ A couple of days,’ remarked the doctor; * why, that will make it Lord Mayor’s Day, and on that day I am to lunch with you ; and if “Jack tho Ripper” goes to work then I shall be detained at the office, and you won’t have me at lunch.’ Lord Mayor’s Day came round, and I was ar my club waiting for Dr Rubie j but the luncheon hour passed and he did not arrive. Presently there arrived a boy from the ‘ Evening News’ with a note. It was from my expected guest, and ran as follows * Your prophecy has come true. “Jack the Ripper” has been at work again. I am therefore detained at the office, and can’t, I am sorry to say, lunch with you.’ On Wednesday, the 17th, I went to Margate. I was out of sorts, and was suffering a good deal from sleeplessness. On retiring to bed, I for a long while lay awake, and when at length I fell asleep I did not precisely sleep the sleep of the just. In one of my dreamful moments a face appeared before me. It was but a passing vision, but there was sufficient time to recognise it as that of the one I had seen twice before—the face of the Whitechapel murderer of my imagination. Let me describe this face. It was thinnish and oval in shape. The eyes were dark and prominent, showing plenty of white. The brow was narrow, and the chin somewhat pointed. The complexion was sallow—somewhere between that of a Maltese and a Parsec. The nose was somewhat Semitic in shape, and formed a prominent feature of the face. Tho formation of the mouth I could not very well see, it was shaded by a black moustache. Beyond the hair on the upper lip the face was bare. It was not a particularly disagreeable face, but there was a wild intensity about tho dark full oyes that fascinated me as I gazed into them. They were the eyes of a mesmerist! The man of my dream wore a short-crowned chimney-pot bat; he stooped in his shoulders, and, although there was a wiry look about such portion of his figure that was visible to me, he did not have tho appearance of a man of muscular build. I am, alas! not an artist, and I can only describe in words what I fain would draw in pencil; but I have to the best of my ability endeavored to give a faithful likeness of the face of my dreams. 1 may mention that the first time I saw the man he seemed to draw with his right hand in the air as it were the figure 9. I at the time interpreted it as mean: ing that he would commit nine murders. Eight he has already committed. Will he commit the ninth ? It was the seeing of this man’s face and the indication of his intention as contained in bis drawing the figure 9 that determined mo to write my recent weird story ‘ A Fatal Affinity.’ This story is of course wholly fanciful, but many superstitiously inclined folk are inclined to find in it a solution of the Whitechapel mystery. People who have read the book, including the Bight Hon. W. E. Gladstone, have been haunted by the vision of the unearthly assassin who so prominently figures therein, and 1 have been inundated with letters requesting me to state whether the book was founded on faot, or whether it was solely tho outcome of my imagination, How strange it would be if the actual Whitechapel murderer were, as intimated in ‘ A Fatal Affinity,’ to commit his ninth murder, and then be delivered up to justice. I may, as a matter of course, bo all out of it with respect to the portrait of the murderer j for, after all, it was but a dream, and dreams count for but little, if anything, in the stern realities of life. But all the same, the vision which has appeared to me on three separate occasions has, as the reader may well imagine, not failed to make a deep impression upon me, and I cannot help thinking that what I have written will prove of some interest to the public. And if after all I should be right! If—well we shall see ! —Stuart Cumberland.” A week has elapsed and the famous thought-reader once more drags his theory to the front. It will be remembered that he gave it as his opinion that the Ripper was a mesmerist and hypnotised his victims before despatching them. This aroused a good deal of comment in the daily Press, moat papers somewhat rudely denouncing MrCumberland’a dreams and ideas as pure humbug, stigmatising the gentleman himself as a person of “ too vivid an imagination.” “ How,” they ask, scornfully, “ can a man mesmerise or hypnotise a woman ho has never seen before, and only met for the first time in his life in the dark.” Mr Cumber, land answers that there are numerous instances in which impressionable subjects have been put under control at the first attempt. This I personally can corroborate. Not many months ago a famous French mesmerist, calling himself “Milo De Meyer,” gave a series of “exhibitions ” of his wonderful power in tho St, James’s Hall. Believing tho whole thing to be a fraud I determined to go and test tho matter myself. I was quickly convinced. The man asked me to look into his eyes—a very ordinary request, by the way, that one might laughingly make to any woman when standing her a drink. 1 complied somewhat scornfully, but in a second was quite incapacitated from looking away. The eyes seemed almost to start out of the mesmerist’s head, and gradually all the faoe, with tho exception of one orb, faded away. The voices of the audience died away in a sort of hum, and finally everything vanished into a red cloud, containing a single spot of vividly bright light. After that I remembered nothing till 1 found myself standing opposite the fearful little Frenchman wide awake. He was smiling mockingly, and the audience laughing loudly. I felt mortified, and had had, in my own estimation, quite enough. I therefore made my way to the steps leading down to the auditorium, meaning to rejoin my friends, who were looking a bit scared through all their laughter. Before I bad gone half a dozen steps I felt an utterly unconquerable desire to turn round, and finally did so. As you will doubtless have guessed, I found the hypnotiser’s eye upon’me. “Go and sit there,” he said sharply; and though excessively angry, I had to go. A brother journalist who was present wrote me a desorip-

tion of the various antics I was made to go through. How I was set across a chair and duly impressed with an idea I was once more astride a real bush buck-jumper, expecting every moment to feel the brute ‘prop.’ How I was made to believe I was a dentist, and, finally, after a great deal of trouble on the part of the diabolical Milo I)e Meyer, made to actually murder what I believed to be my father lying in bed. As a matter of fact it was a chair laid on the stage for the purpose. About two columns of how I behaved under the various circumstances were detailed by my friend, and published in your papers some three or four months ago. I myself had absolutely no knowledge of what I was doing ut the time, or any recollection of what had been done after it was all over. And this was the first encounter. I am, therefore, convinced that Mr Cumberland's theory, however impossible it may seem on other grounds, cannot be condemned on this particular point, But he does not press it either, “ I will, for the sake of argument, say that a man cannot mesmerise first time,” ho remarks, “ but is it not quite possible that the murderer does not meet his victims for the first time on the night of the murder. Is it not far more likely that, as a famous detective asserts, firstly, the murderer is resident in Whitechapel, probably a well known and seemingly respectable man upon whom no shadow of suspicion rests ; and secondly, that he some time during the day selects the woman he purposes murdering, making a rendezvous with her for such hour and place as may be most suitable for his fell purpose. In such case, supposing the fiend to have the power of mesmerising, what is to prevent him establishing an influence over the woman ho has selected as his next victim? It would appear that the murderer is no ordinary man, and that he does his work with a celerity and despatch that are little short of marvellous. He does not, it would seem, first chloroform his victims, and not one of them, as far as one can judge, appeared to have the slightest suspicion of the character of the man she was with. Is not this_ in itselt a very remarkable thing, considering the suspicion which, after all that had gone before, must have existed in the minds of at least his more recent selections ? Therefore, does it not, on the face of it, seem feasible that either the murderer is personally known to his victims, and thereby succeeds in allaying any fear or distrust that otherwise they might have concerning him, or that he is one who exercises over them an irresistible fascination, call it mesmerism or what you will ? I, as a rule, put no faith whatever in dreams, but I must confess that, willy-nilly, I am strangely impressed with the idea that ‘ Jack the Ripper,’ as he is called, will not commit a tenth murder. He may succeed in accomplishing the ninth, but either at or before perpetrating the tenth he will he captured or commit suicide! Of course I have no foundationforsuch belief; itiamerelyafancy of mine; but, so convinced am I that there may be something in it, that I have made a wager with the celebrated detective in question that the result will turn ont as I through my dream am led to anticipate.” Of course all this is very ingenious, and sounds very well, though a number of people will call it bosh, and be generally scornfully inclined. Personally I don’t much believe in Mr Cumberland’s dream of the “face,” but I do most undoubtedly think that it is more than possible—even likely—that the murderer may either be a mesmerist himself, and, as Cumberland says, hypnotise and then despatch his victims; or, on the other hand, may he himself not bo the victim of a ghoulish mesmerist? This would account for the utter absence of nervousness, and for the wonderful cunning and utter want of conscience or after suffering of mind which would appear to be one of the “Ripper’s” chief characteristics. When a guileless and filial individual like myself can, after a few seconds’ battle of will, be made to practically " murder his own father ,” and be perfectly happy and unconscious of having done anything wrong five minutes afterwards, it cannot be held to be impossible that just as respectable a member of society may be, perfectly innocently and unknowingly, committing a series of crimes which are unexampled in London’s history of crime, and which ho probably shudders at whenever he reads of their occurrence in the papers. But, on the other hand, those who believe that the “face” that Stuart Cumberland dreamt of was the actual face of the murderer may reasonably lay some stress on the following extraordinary letter which Mr Cumberland has received from a stranger—a Scotchman from Burntisland, in the Frith of Forth. The gentleman signs himself “T, Ross Scott,” and after saying that Mr Cumberland’s theory and dreams coincide with some he has himself had, tells his story in the following slightly verbose manner:—“Ou the afternoon of Thursday, the 4th inst., I spent a considerable time strolling about the docks at Burntisland. I had been suffering from headache all day, and retired to rest rather earlier than I should otherwise have done. Shortly afterwards I fell into a light sleep. This, however, was frequently disturbed by passing dreams, tq which all sorts and conditions of vessels were prominently noticeable, I looked through several of these, bub so rapidly did I seem to pass from the one to the other, that I obtained only a very feeble idea of what I was seeing. There was, however, one noticeable exception. While rushing along the deck of one of the ships I instinctively stopped at a particular door, and, looking round, found myself face to face with a young man, evidently about twentyseven years of age. As far as I could see the room had the appearance of a small dispensary, but I was unable to note any of the details, because the man, whom I supposed to be the ship’s surgeon, had his eyes fixed on me, and J seemed quite powerless to withdraw mine from his gaze. Just then, however, I awoke, and my dream came to an end. Now, I could readily understand how ships, or even a dispensary, should enter into the formation of this dream, but one thing there was which I could not account for—where I had seen the face of my imaginary surgeon, The features, and more particularly that awful look, were impressed on my mind so vividly that it was some considerable time before I could altogether banish them from my thoughts, In vain I tried to recognise the fqoe—it was entirely strange to me. About a fortnight afterwards I again had a very restless night. 1 distinctly remember hearing the town clock strike twelve, but must have fallen asleep almost the next moment. On this occasion my dreams seemed to lead me along a narrow street. Suddenly a dark shadow fell in front of me and immediately a figure rushed past. It was all done in a moment, but I had time tq catch a glimpse of the face—it was that of the surgeon I had seen in my previous dream. In Burntisland we only got the first edition of the ‘ Scotsman,’ and as that is published at an early hour we were unaware that another outrage had been committed in London until observing it in the evening papers. By that time my dream was almost forgotten—at least J had pretty well shaken off the peculiar feeling whiph I experienced as the imaginary surgeon was passing me. Certain, however, it is, that I did not in any way oonneot the vision of my dreams with the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders. In Monday's ‘ Scotsman ’ I observed among the literary notes a short announcement of your article. I was anxious to see what you had to say on the subject, and took the earliest opportunity of procuring a copy of ‘The Mirror.’ This I did at one of the bookstalls in the Waverley station. I then proceeded to the waiting-room, but overcome by curiosity opened up the paper be- [ fore I had reached my destination. You I may well imagine the start I got when I disi covered in the midst of your article a porI trait which I at once recognised as being ■ that of the man I bad seen in my dreams, | You mention that you are not an artist; well, making some allowance for this, the likeness is remarkably true. The only difference, as far as I can make out, lies in the color of the moustache. In your description you say that it was black; I am under the impression it was auburn. Now, cf course, as you say, your portrait murderer may be entirely wrong. It seems rather strange, hdtvever, that we should both have visions of the same (or apparently the same) man, a man whom, in my case, at any rate, to the best of my recollection I have never seen. Dreams, however, are the outcome of impressions which have previously been

conveyed to the mind, and thus it is possible —nay, in fact, even probable—that though we are quite unconscious of the fact, we may at ooe time have seen with our own oyes this mysterious being. I shall be glad to hear what you think of this coincidence, which undoubtedly increases the significance of your own vision.” This is certainly queer, yet Mr C. declares there is no fakement about it; that it is a genuine letter from an utter stranger. Meanwhile the murderer is still at large. A gentleman with the brilliant inventive genius of the elder Weller, who wished to take Mr Pickwick out of the Fleet prison in a hollow pianoforte, writes to the papers to recommend that a steel collar should be worn by all women in the Whitechapel district, and sends a sample neatly covered in velvet to the Chief Commissioner of the Police, who answers that the simplicity of imagining that a determined murderer would be stopped by an iron collar is as absurd as to imagine that some thousands of women would wear it in anticipation of immediate slaughter.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890928.2.37.4

Bibliographic details

STUART CUMBERLAND AND JACK THE RIPPER., Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement

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STUART CUMBERLAND AND JACK THE RIPPER. Evening Star, Issue 8024, 28 September 1889, Supplement

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