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  • Martin Fido

    If you really don't think there's any difference between saying "X might have happened", and "X did happen" - and if you are willing to dismiss the distinction as "splitting hairs" - then further discussion becomes rather pointless.

    But I will just point out that Jeff did not say that "Stewart said at conference that there is no doubt the notes were by Swanson". What Jeff actually said was "Stewart has stated very clearly that he does not believe the Marginalia is a forgery". As someone with scholarly training in English literature, you'll appreciate that not believing something is very different from believing its opposite!

    Comment


    • In 1987...

      In 1987, when addressing the vexed issue of Anderson's reliabilty, Martin Fido identified the the following 'anti-Anderson' arguments -

      1. That Anderson was lying as a face-saver for himself and the C.I.D.
      2. That no other police officer with 'inside information' agreed with Anderson's conclusions.
      3. That Anderson (as he did not name his Polish Jew suspect, was referring to Pizer, aka 'Leather Apron' who had been cleared.

      To refute these arguments he stated that -

      1. Anderson was 'a scrupulous born-again Christian, quite incapable of lying through vanity.'
      2. Sir Melville Macnaghten's notes [i.e. 'The Macnaghten Memoranda'] named a Polish Jewish lunatic called Kosminsky as a principal suspect.
      3. That the evidence which Anderson relied on was certainly that which had led to the search for 'Leather Apron' but that Pizer was not 'Leather Apron' and Sergeant Thick had no grounds for making such an assertion.

      Today it seems pretty obvious that Anderson's Polish Jew was almost certainly Macnaghten's Kosminski, although in 1987 Pizer had been assumed by some to be Anderson's suspect. Martin Fido undoubtedly corrected a misconception that was enjoying currency at that time. However, it may be difficult for most to agree that Anderson was 'incapable of lying through vanity' and that Pizer was not 'Leather Apron.' Certainly points to ponder.
      SPE

      Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

      Comment


      • Personally, I have never understood how anyone can interpet Anderson's statements as not containing any significant boasting tendencies. No doubt, religious men are just as capable of showing off as any other and Anderson, like many of his contemporaries, were Victorian authority figures which often meant possessing an unhealthy degree of self-importance and vanity. This was certainly not unheard of, and Anderson's wording in his memoirs is in my view a perfect example of plain boasting in order to show how important he is, which also is highlighted by the fact that no other official besides Swanson appears to have supported or shared Anderson's views.
        Unless one is bold to suggest that Anderson and Swanson were the ONLY ones among the police officials who really knew the truth, the idea that Anderson was promoting anything more but a personal opinion (although he tried desperately to pass it off as a fact) has to be cnsidered ludicrous.
        Macnaghten no doubt also refers to a Polish Jew and Kosminski, but he doesn't seem to have been his preferred suspect, which undoubtedly Druitt was.

        I have the highest respect for Martin Fido and his research into Anderson as an individual and professional man, but I find it strange to say the least to dismiss the possibility of Anderson as a boaster when this was one of the most common traits of the leading authority figures within the bureacry at the time, since they often believed they were God themselves. Anderson's 'religiosity' of course has nothing to do with it. To claim that boasting would be out of character for him just because he was a religious man is both naive and erronous and shows little understanding of how men in such high position looked at themselves during Victorian and Edwardian times, especially since Anderson's own wording and expressions clearly reveals a man with a high degree of self-importance typical for its time.
        As far as I am concerned, Anderson is not much better than Smith, although I agree that Smith has to be considered one of our worst unreliable sources in the whole Ripper case.

        I would also like to take the opportunity to say that I welcome Fido's apparence on these Boards, since he's been missed for a long time and it's obvious that the inputs of experienced researchers like himself and Stewart really brings on lot of interesting dicussions we would like to see more of and which I find especially rewarding.

        All the best
        Last edited by Glenn Lauritz Andersson; 08-03-2008, 01:26 PM.
        The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing

        Comment


        • Heigh-ho!
          Apparently Stewart knows what provenance is, but not why an impeccable provenance like that of the Swanson marginalia argues extremely powerfully against forgery or tampering, [I]unless[I] it can be shown that one of the owners had the temperament or motivation to tamper. This is not the case at all in the Swanson family, though by suggesting that the original approach to N.o.W. needs investigation, Stewart appears to mistrust Jim and his brother. Why? Because he spotted a difference in the pencil writing the margins and endpapers (something quite imperceptible to those of us who had only seen the photocopy at the time when Paul begg sent it for analysis, and I admit at once, undetected by me when I looked at the book in Jim Swanson's house)? Given that the writing is still Donald Swanson's, what is suspicious about the offer of the jnformation to N.o.W.? Is it suggested that the Swanson brothers doctored it? Does Stewart imagine that they had ever heard the name Kosminsky before they saw it in their grandfather's hand? Their belief that they had the true answer, and their completely innocent ignorance of the problems inherent in the notes is clear enough evidence that they had no basis on which to make any tempting alterations. I repeat that the idea that there is anything suspicious about the claim that Swanson wote all the marginalia is as utterly untenable as the idea that someone in possession of the Sims correpondence forged the Littlechild letter, knowing that a Ripper-related item would raise the marketability of the collection. And with that piece of poppycock I have at least proposed a more plausible motive than has ever been suggested for an owner of the Swanson marginalia tampering with them. I believe that some "theorist" has actually suggested that the Littlechild letter might have been forged. Well, Chris, I have no hesitation in saying that it wasn't, as firmly as I say the marginalia weren't. And I see no reason to cautiously hedge about my opinion with "in my belief", even though I can't prove that Stewart himself - with motive and opportunity - didn't create the letter that gave great interest to Sims' correspondence. I know him and I know it's out of the question. He knows me, and I take it he knows it's out of the question that I'm lying when I say my estimate that Cohen is the only asylum inmate in London who fits Andersons' account and is a plausible Ripper suspect rests on a complete search of all the asylum records. I might, of course, have only pretended to search all the records, and actually picked the first likely candidate I came across with a sigh of relief, and invented an account of my search. Only checking the records against my notebooks could prove that my acount is honest (if possibly mistaken), and nobody has made such a check of the records (though Paul Begg and Keith Skinner have done enough to know that we're talking about real and interesting entries). Many years as a police officer may have encouraged Stewart to continue to worry away at some tiny detail that appeared to have been settled, and it is possible that thereby he prevented or exposed a quantity of law-breaking. Scholarship like science, has to accept as provisional "fact" things that might be disproved in the long run (as Newton's perfectly valid laws have turned out to be inapplicable at sub-atomic scales which he couldn't possibly have known abuot or investigated). Sensible scholars with limited time and means don't waste time on things that seem well established. And as for making scientific tests on primary sources - I couldn't have done so if I'd wanted to. Policemen in the Thatcher years were well paid. As a free-lance writer I was extremely poor when I did my work on the Ripper, with just one year in which to complete all research and writing for the publisher. If I'd been able,as I wished, to buy all the birth and death certificates I traced in the registers ( something I believe Stewart and Keith take for granted) I'd have found Kosminsky first time round. I had him in my notebooks as a registered death, only seemingly far too late and in quite the wrong place.
          And Anderson's character? Heigh-ho! Here we go again, with a selective item known and attended to cited as if it undermined a thorough survey of the character. From the very outset I stated that Anderson could have been wrong and was always bigoted. Rose Mylett is an excellent example of his sticking to an opinion he had formed - apparently on the basis of his own observation of footmarks at the death scene coupled with the finding officer's report - and forcing a "scientific" support in the teeth of ovewhelming scientific opinion in the other direction. I've said Anderson was the sort of man who would stick to an opinion when it had been proved wrong. But no one has shown that anyone proved him wrong in his claim that there had been a positive identification of the Ripper. Well after 1891 and 1895 Macnagten was saying (for what his inaccurate recollections may be thought to be worth) that there were good reasons for thinking "Kosminsky" a strong suspect, even if he thought the case against Druitt outweighed them. Way after the events Swanson offered a glossing commentary which never suggests for a moment that the case against Kosminsky had been disproved. What Stewart claims is "pretty obvious" today is merely his firm (and perfectly acceptable) opinion based on his deductions and interpretations of the facts which happens to be opposed to my equally firm opinion based on my deductions and intepretations.
          As for Winston Churchill's remarks - here is a clear warning against selecting a statement without knowing the full context. As a Liberal Home Secretary at the time, Churchill was in a cleft stick. Anderson's admissions had the Irish Nationalists howling for his head and demanding the withdrawal of his pension, and the Tories were happy to make political capital that embarrassed the government. As minister i/c the Home Office, Churchill had to defend the continuation of Anderson's pension: his unprofessional leakage of oficial information was something the department had complained about for some years and taken into account, even if they didn't know he'd gone so far as to contribute to the "Parnellism and Crime" series. Yet as a Liberal Churchill had to deplore Anderson's bigoted Tory Unionist motivation. The answer was to make Anderson a stupid scapegoat: a boaster who was really too silly to deserve very serious punishment. Now why is Churchill's description of Anderson's memoirs taken as gospel? Like most autobiographers, Anderson doesn't accuse himself of many serious mistakes and blunders, particularly not once he was in office. And he is aggressively combative with those who have charged him or his department with incompetence. But he doesn't compare with (say) Howard Hunt in his recently published memoirs as a man who was apparently always right when everyone else was wrong or inferior. Of course Stewart may feel that he agrees with Churchill having read the whole book, and he is entitled to his impression. But my own feeling is that the man who admitted to his embarrassment that a lady had thought he was indecently exposed in a train, or that he found himself awkwardly breaking into his lodgings at Reade's house was not quite the self-perfecting swaggerer described by Churchill. And in assessing the likelihood of Anderson's making a deliberately false claim to have known who the Ripper was, I assert again that I am not likely to be swayed by the opinions of those whose dedication to primary sources has never led them to examine as an important primary source what Anderson wrote about his own moral codes and their basis, and the secondary source of how Anderson and his views impressed other writers on religious and ethical matters who either knew him personally or studied his work, together with the known characters of contemporaries who shared his basic beliefs. Anderson was much more than simply a politically motivated spymaster and police officer. He was a rigorous moralist whose self-righteous firmness made him frightening to his granddaughter. He was a man who worked out the circumstances under which he felt that misleading rather than telling the whole truth was morally acceptable. The conflict between him and Monro as to who said or approved what in 1888 is an absolutely typical situation when two people carry away different impressions of a conversation. It's happened to me frequently, and it has never occurred to me to imagine that people who think I said one thing when I intended them to understand quite another were lying or distorting. The controversial philosophy of Jacques Derrida is very much a propos.
          (If I disappear from the boards again for some time it is with an apology for my being relatively busy again: I have certainly not taken offence at any of the remarks made by disputants whose enthusiastic defence of their positions can only contribute to the necessary rigorous examiination of all opinions and points of view).
          All the best,
          martin F

          Comment


          • Glenn - it's the type of boasting I think uncharacteristic of a man of Anderson's stamp. Of course he was deplorably convinced that his intensely antiCatholic Protestantism made him a better person than any member of the established churches (though concomitantly he believed that his work as spymaster and police officer was to some extent morally deforming).
            I'm sure he would boast like anything about what he was sure he had achieved, and I have no problem with people feeling that his persistent claims that the police are unfairly criticized is a boast about unrevealed success as well as a whine about criticism. But NOTHING in his personality suggests that he would make up something to substantiate a boast. If Anderson says there was an ID there was an ID. If he says it convinced him it convinced him. He wouldn't make it up, though I admit at once that if it had convinced him he would continue to assert that he was right if the angel Gabriel dropped in to tell him God disagreed!
            And of course Anderson would distort the truth when he thought it was in the public interest, and he was not especially good at distinguishing between his own interest and the public's. But it's making up an event out of whole cloth that I say he couldn't conceivably have done - and we have the evidence of Swanson and (to some extent) Macnaghten showing that he didn't.
            All the best,
            martin F
            All the best,
            martin F

            Comment


            • Martin Fido

              I still don't think you've got the point of what I'm saying.

              Simply put, it's this. Argue your case as strongly as you like. But please accept that others may have different opinions, and please don't discount those opinions on the basis that you are an academic (with "scholarly training") and they aren't.

              Comment


              • That's quite funny to see that an "ascertained fact" can't be proven, despite the more respectable "academic" efforts...

                Amitiés,
                David

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Glenn Lauritz Andersson View Post
                  Personally, I have never understood how anyone can interpet Anderson's statements as not containing any significant boasting tendencies. No doubt, religious men are just as capable of showing off as any other and Anderson, like many of his contemporaries, were Victorian authority figures which often meant possessing an unhealthy degree of self-importance and vanity. This was certainly not unheard of, and Anderson's wording in his memoirs is in my view a perfect example of plain boasting in order to show how important he is, which also is highlighted by the fact that no other official besides Swanson appears to have supported or shared Anderson's views.
                  Unless one is bold to suggest that Anderson and Swanson were the ONLY ones among the police officials who really knew the truth, the idea that Anderson was promoting anything more but a personal opinion (although he tried desperately to pass it off as a fact) has to be cnsidered ludicrous.
                  Macnaghten no doubt also refers to a Polish Jew and Kosminski, but he doesn't seem to have been his preferred suspect, which undoubtedly Druitt was.

                  I have the highest respect for Martin Fido and his research into Anderson as an individual and professional man, but I find it strange to say the least to dismiss the possibility of Anderson as a boaster when this was one of the most common traits of the leading authority figures within the bureacry at the time, since they often believed they were God themselves. Anderson's 'religiosity' of course has nothing to do with it. To claim that boasting would be out of character for him just because he was a religious man is both naive and erronous and shows little understanding of how men in such high position looked at themselves during Victorian and Edwardian times, especially since Anderson's own wording and expressions clearly reveals a man with a high degree of self-importance typical for its time.
                  Hi Glenn,
                  right, so right!
                  Everybody acquainted with religious controversies knows there is nobody dishonest and fond of quibbles like religious apologists.
                  A low-class naive believer would be more reliable than an religious expert, that is obvious.
                  Furthermore, we know Anderson has a deep tendancy for escaping responsability (think of his own words when he came back from Switzerland...).
                  We can also remember his statements about "French police"...unfortunately for him, the French ripper Vacher, who killed many more people than Jack, was never caught by the police, but by a strong woman that he tried to murder.

                  Amitiés,
                  David

                  ps: rosé will be on the way Tuesday, sorry for delay, I was one week in Ethiopia for the funeral of a friend (who co-authored one book with me).

                  Comment


                  • You're indeed right, David.
                    As for the French police, however, he was right to some degree to be frustrated about the conditions since - although they may have failed to identify Vacher - it is an indisputable fact that the French police were the inventors of modern forensic science and that the French police used methods quite superior to those of the rather primitive ones applied by Scotland Yard. So Anderson was right in that regards.

                    But that aside, I agree with what you say.

                    P.S. That's quite all right, David. I've been delayed as well with sending the book since I've been working extra hours the past weeks and haven't managed to send it off during avaliable post office hours. The following week will be more quite and convenient, though.

                    All the best
                    Last edited by Glenn Lauritz Andersson; 08-03-2008, 05:52 PM.
                    The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Glenn Lauritz Andersson View Post
                      You're indeed right, David.
                      as for the French police, however, he was right to some dgree since - although they may have failed to identidy Vacher, it is an indisputable fact that the French police were the modern inventors of modern forensic science and that the French police used methods quite superior to those of the rather primitive ones applied by Scotland Yard. So Anderson was right in that regards.

                      All the best
                      Glenn,
                      I accept your precisions about French police methods. However, I'm not sure that Anderson was refering to theses methods, but rather to juridical powers. And if his suspect's guiltiness was an "ascertained fact", as he put it, I do not believe that Scotland Yard had not enough powers to incriminate him.

                      Amitiés,
                      David

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by fido View Post
                        Glenn - it's the type of boasting I think uncharacteristic of a man of Anderson's stamp. Of course he was deplorably convinced that his intensely antiCatholic Protestantism made him a better person than any member of the established churches (though concomitantly he believed that his work as spymaster and police officer was to some extent morally deforming).
                        I'm sure he would boast like anything about what he was sure he had achieved, and I have no problem with people feeling that his persistent claims that the police are unfairly criticized is a boast about unrevealed success as well as a whine about criticism. But NOTHING in his personality suggests that he would make up something to substantiate a boast. If Anderson says there was an ID there was an ID. If he says it convinced him it convinced him. He wouldn't make it up, though I admit at once that if it had convinced him he would continue to assert that he was right if the angel Gabriel dropped in to tell him God disagreed!
                        And of course Anderson would distort the truth when he thought it was in the public interest, and he was not especially good at distinguishing between his own interest and the public's. But it's making up an event out of whole cloth that I say he couldn't conceivably have done - and we have the evidence of Swanson and (to some extent) Macnaghten showing that he didn't.
                        All the best,
                        martin F
                        Martin,
                        Thanks for the reply.

                        Now, I have little doubt that an identification of a suspect by a Jewish witness in connection with the Ripper case actually DID occur. I also have no doubt at all that Anderson really believed in his own claims. He seems clear enough on the matter, and his statement appaears to be made in true conviction.
                        However, what needs to be looked upon critically is his tendency to transform his personal opinions into 'ascertained facts'. If what he says was an 'ascertained fact' then we wouldn't have the problem of several officials delivering different theories and promoting different suspects.

                        And here is where I feel the matter of 'boasting' comes in.
                        Although Anderson's theories are clearly laid out in his memoirs as FACTS, they appear to be made for the purpose of displaying himself as the one who got all the answers and who sat with the key to the Ripper mystery.
                        This is also supported by the fact that the statement appeared in a commercial source, intended to sell copies.

                        And here is the rub: although major Smith (whom I generally see as a comic busybody, who shamelessly had no problem with boasting or showing off) was guilty of a number of exemples of artistic freedom as a writer and truth-bending, it is astonishing that he in spite of that was honest enough to admit that he had no clue of who the Ripper was and didn't promote a suspect of his own.

                        In contrast we have Swanson who penned down his margin annotations - if we just for the sake of simplicity take them as genuine - under more private circumstances where they were not intended for public viewing (which also supports the view upon Swanson as someone who himself objected to officials and policemen writing memoirs).

                        However, the question remains: what is Swanson actually saying?
                        Is he in fact saying that Kosminski was Jack the Ripper? No.
                        What he appears to be doing is 'correcting' or elaborating on Anderson's information about the suspect subjected to identification. There is no real confirmation of that he actually thought this suspect 'Kosminski' to be the Ripper - it's all just been assumed.
                        So Swanson's alleged 'support' for Anderson's very self-righteous and 'absolute' statements about the Polish Jew as the Ripper has to be viewed critically in this context.

                        And as far as Macnaghten is concerned, we all know that although his information to some degree confirms yet again that such an identification of a Jewish Ripper suspect took place, we also know that he rather preferred Druitt as a likely suspect for the Ripper. Thus Macnaghten can not be used as support for Anderson's very strong opinions.

                        All the best
                        Last edited by Glenn Lauritz Andersson; 08-03-2008, 06:02 PM.
                        The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by fido View Post
                          Many years as a police officer may have encouraged Stewart to continue to worry away at some tiny detail that appeared to have been settled, and it is possible that thereby he prevented or exposed a quantity of law-breaking. Scholarship like science, has to accept as provisional "fact" things that might be disproved in the long run (as Newton's perfectly valid laws have turned out to be inapplicable at sub-atomic scales which he couldn't possibly have known abuot or investigated). Sensible scholars with limited time and means don't waste time on things that seem well established.
                          I would prefer Stewart's 'investigative' approach to your "scholarly" approach, without hesitation.

                          Stewart does not presume to know anything with regard to the provenance of the margin/end notes purportedly scribbled by Donald Swanson. You, on the other hand, presume to know a great deal regarding this matter.

                          For the record - and at the risk of revealing my dire lack of "scholarly training": I am inclined to believe that the margin/end notes purportedly written by Swanson are not of genuine provenance. But I do not presume to know that this is the case.

                          I am not impressed by your "scholarly" demeanor - it reeks a most pretentious air; and I am most unimpressed by your obvious presumption to know that the margin/end notes in question were in fact written by none other than Donald Sutherland Swanson. You don't know that to be the case !!! Period !!!

                          I can't read your mind (must be that lack of "scholarly training"); so your "obvious presumption to know", in this instance, must be attributed to speculation on my part. If you do in fact presume to know; then you are a fool !!!


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                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Glenn Lauritz Andersson View Post
                            Martin,
                            Thanks for the reply.

                            Now, I have little doubt that an identification of a suspect by a Jewish witness in connection with the Ripper case actually DID occur. I also have no doubt at all that Anderson really believed in his own claims. He seems clear enough on the matter, and his statement appaears to be made in true conviction.
                            However, what needs to be looked upon critically is his tendency to transform his personal opinions into 'ascertained facts'. If what he says was an 'ascertained fact' then we wouldn't have the problem of several officials delivering different theories and promoting different suspects.

                            And here is where I feel the matter of 'boasting' comes in.
                            Although Anderson's theories are clearly laid out in his memoirs as FACTS, they appear to be made for the purpose of displaying himself as the one who got all the answers and who sat with the key to the Ripper mystery.
                            This is also supported by the fact that the statement appeared in a commercial source, intended to sell copies.

                            And here is the rub: although major Smith (whom I generally see as a comic busybody, who shamelessly had no problem with boasting or showing off) was guilty of a number of exemples of artistic freedom as a writer and truth-bending, it is astonishing that he in spite of that was honest enough to admit that he had no clue of who the Ripper was and didn't promote a suspect of his own.

                            In contrast we have Swanson who penned down his margin annotations - if we just for the sake of simplicity take them as genuine - under more private circumstances where they were not intended for public viewing (which also supports the view upon Swanson as someone who himself objected to officials and policemen writing memoirs).

                            However, the question remains: what is Swanson actually saying?
                            Is he in fact saying that Kosminski was Jack the Ripper? No.
                            What he appears to be doing is 'correcting' or elaborating on Anderson's information about the suspect subjected to identification. There is no real confirmation of that he actually thought this suspect 'Kosminski' to be the Ripper - it's all just been assumed.
                            So Swanson's alleged 'support' for Anderson's very self-righteous and 'absolute' statements about the Polish Jew as the Ripper has to be viewed critically in this context.

                            And as far as Macnaghten is concerned, we all know that although his information to some degree confirms yet again that such an identification of a Jewish Ripper suspect took place, we also know that he rather preferred Druitt as a likely suspect for the Ripper. Thus Macnaghten can not be used as support for Anderson's very strong opinions.

                            All the best
                            Glenn,

                            This is pretty much my take on the events also.

                            I agree some sort of identification occurred. We also have Sims' claim that the Jewish suspect had the same "height and build" as The Ripper.

                            I do have qualms with those who use Anderson's deep religious or political beliefs as a stick to dismiss him with.

                            Comment


                            • See, this is what you get, when scholars, writers, drunks, investigators, and observers indulge in suspect based research in an effort to support their own favoured 'it were im wot did it'.
                              They'll argue - with good logic, but good logic is like good washing powder, you put it in the machine and it makes a lot of soap - and they'll twist and turn, arguing that their particular piece of paper is as sound as a pound, because they say so, whilst the other says his particular paper is as sound as a pound because he says so... and then by innuendo, rather than straight forward shooting from the hip, they'll accuse each other of owning a fake document, but you just sort of know if they swapped documents and then owned the others then they would support whatever or whichever document they owned.
                              It's not about fact, but rather possession.
                              To the devil with the lot of you.

                              And yes, I seriously question the authenticity of any document, not in the public domain since it was written or produced, that advances the ambitions of any author... it is most likely a fake or a forgery.

                              Comment


                              • Martin,

                                why are you so defensive about the idea that the Swanson Marginalia could possible not be written by Donald Swanson? It is not like anyone is suggesting that you added something to the marginalia yourselves, and if you have had it examined as you say, there's no need to be defensive at all - I expect that counts as taking precautions.

                                I dont like to see things get so heated over nothing!
                                Jenni
                                “be just and fear not”

                                Comment

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