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There's Something Wrong with the Swanson Marginalia

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  • #46
    "Not even the subordinate officers" is a little insulting, isn't it.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Robert View Post
      "Not even the subordinate officers" is a little insulting, isn't it.
      I read it as more of a compliment, Rob - viz., "Scotland Yard men were men of integrity, irrespective of rank".
      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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      • #48
        Forgive me for weighing in on this. I'm no kind of expert on graphology or documents. But I examine text for a living. There are some anomalies here that I'd like to talk about:

        I'd expect to see the marginalia at the end begin something like 'after the suspect, who we knew as Kosminski', had been identified...' There's no reason to hang onto the guy's identity at that point. We know it's a Jew. He's dead. We know his fellow Jew wouldn't identify him etc etc. There seems to me to be no point in hiding the name. But he does hide it until the end of the document. He could have been endowed with a bestselling author's sense of drama. But I think it's more likely that 'Kosminski was the suspect' was added somewhat later to the marginalia, and that what looks like what I would call an 'em-dash' might have originally been a period. This might be a bit suspicious. Especially since there are other places in the marginalia where he might well have used a dash but doesn't. For example, right after 'Continuing from page 138'. He begins that sentence right after '138' with no attempt at a capital letter to 'after'. The thing is, not many people use dashes in script. I use them all the time. It's part of my written style. But they aren't common. And those who use them, tend to use them appropriately. It would have been appropriate right there. However Swanson only uses the em-dash at the end.

        Note the continuous use of the word 'suspect' as the first noun in sentences. 'After the suspect had been identified...'; 'on suspect's return'; 'after a very short time, the suspect, with his hands tied behind his back...' I'd expect that the last line would read 'The suspect was Kosminski'. But it doesn't. It reads 'Kosminski was the suspect'. There's a natural rhythm to speech. People tend to have a better ear than they think, and when they are writing down simple information, you'll find it tends to have a cadence. This has. Apart from the extraneous use of 'he' in 'he was sent to Stepney workhouse...' the writing flows pretty easily from 138 to the back and then to the end. But then we have that clunky last line.

        As well, who the hell was 'Kosminski'? We never see his name in the book in any other place, and now we have a name thrown at us as if we should know all about him. If he'd said 'the suspect's name was Lloyd George...' ok. But Kosminski? We don't even have a first name here. Swanson could have forgotten it, but I think that's unlikely. If that was the Ripper, Swanson would remember every detail.

        My 2 cents...

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        • #49
          Hi Chava,
          I can see what you mean here.I myself examined texts for a living for some years and agree that there is usually a pattern in a person"s speech that we might expect to "hear" traces of ,especially in the informal circumstance of writing marginalia and end notes in a domestic environment.But we dont.Instead we hear a rather disjointed staccato in the final sentence, together with the formality of his initials ,"DSS".
          I would infer from his talk of "only the heads" knew and not the subordinates ,to mean ----"the reason why it never became public knowledge was it was TOP SECRET between the very TOP BRASS [ policemen]".
          But then you cant help wondering why on earth the identity of a mentally ill Jewish man would have to be top secret? Especially if they were 100% sure he was Jack the Ripper.
          And we might ask who exactly were these " few" chiefs in the know? Certainly not the entire "top brass", because City Chief of Police ,Henry Smith ridiculed Anderson"s assertion and found the whole idea not only ridiculous but beneath contempt.Nor was the retired Abberline included,who had paid a pivotal role in the investigation, because Abberline emphatically dismissed it as "nonsense".As for Macnaghten didnt he famously hedge his bets and come down in favour of Druitt?

          Maybe he is referring to just himself , Anderson and perhaps Monro.
          If Monro was involved surely his "very hot potato" couldnt have been poor demented Kosminski?
          Last edited by Natalie Severn; 03-12-2009, 01:27 AM.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by m_w_r
            A few more Swanson signatures, all from the first decade of the twentieth century -
            Interesting. Do you have any indication of the dates - particularly for the second one?

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            • #51
              Hi -

              A few more Swanson signatures, all from the first decade of the twentieth century -

              Click image for larger version

Name:	Swanson (1).JPG
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ID:	656192

              Click image for larger version

Name:	Swanson (2).JPG
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ID:	656193

              Click image for larger version

Name:	Swanson (3).JPG
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ID:	656194

              Click image for larger version

Name:	Swanson (4).JPG
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ID:	656195

              Additional pen lines on the above images belong to other words in the vicinity of Swanson's signature.

              Regards,

              Mark

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              • #52
                Looks like Swanson had better signature days than others.

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                • #53
                  I assume the original post - the one that I replied to - was deleted?

                  The signature I was particularly asking about is the first one in the revised version.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Chris View Post
                    Interesting...
                    Hi Chris -

                    Sorry - I posted the signatures, and then realised that I wanted to retitle the images, so I deleted the post. You replied in the meantime, and we got out of sync. All signatures are 1903, and digitally photographed from Metropolitan Police files.

                    Regards,

                    Mark

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                    • #55
                      Thank you.

                      I think there's some food for thought there.

                      To my untutored eye, that first signature seems visibly different from the others, but in some ways resembles the endpaper annotations.

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                      • #56
                        That first signature looks like a faulty pen to me.

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                        • #57
                          New Information

                          Even if we assume that some well meaning member of the Swanson family appended these notes on the end paper, where did the information come from? There is nothing new said on page 138, but the end paper tells us fresh information.
                          It either came from Donald Swanson by his own hand or because he had related it to another family member or it is a total fabrication. I tend to believe it because some of it ties up with the City police recollections.

                          The problem as I see it is the last sentence - Kosminski was the suspect-

                          If that is ignored and somebody found to fit the other facts, I feel progress could be made.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Chava
                            There's no reason to hang onto the guy's identity at that point. We know it's a Jew. He's dead. We know his fellow Jew wouldn't identify him etc etc. There seems to me to be no point in hiding the name. But he does hide it until the end of the document. He could have been endowed with a bestselling author's sense of drama. But I think it's more likely that 'Kosminski was the suspect' was added somewhat later to the marginalia, and that what looks like what I would call an 'em-dash' might have originally been a period. This might be a bit suspicious.
                            I agree that 'Kosminski was the suspect' was likely added later or as an afterthought to the rest, although I'm not sure there's anything suspicious about that.

                            As I pointed out in an earlier post, Swanson had highlighted the portions of the book talking about how tight-lipped the police were and although Swanson noted on the page that the (alleged) author of the 'Dear Boss' letter was known to him, he chose not to name him.

                            MWR (M-Dubs to his homies), thanks for the scans!

                            Yours truly,

                            Tom Wescott

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                            • #59
                              I agree that 'Kosminski was the suspect' was likely added later or as an afterthought to the rest, although I'm not sure there's anything suspicious about that.
                              I think the dash is suspicious. Judging by the way the rest was written, I would expect there to be a period after the last word of the main paragraph, and then 'Kosminski was the suspect' to come after that. But the dash links that to the rest of the 'graph. If Swanson wanted to append that line afterwards, I don't think he would feel the need to disguise a period to do so. And I don't know, looking at the page on the 'net, that the dash does disguise a period. But the beginning of it seems to have a slight tail that might suggest something like that.

                              Look at what happens at the beginning of the marginalia. It starts after the printed words 'refused to give evidence against him.' There is no dash after that. Swanson simply begins to run the sentence on as if there were no period there: 'because the suspect was also a Jew...' I would expect that he would do the same at the end. He doesn't need to run the sentence on. He can allow the period to stand, and then write 'Kosminski was the suspect'. But I would still expect, given the rhythm of what's gone on before, that he would write 'The suspect was Kosminski'.

                              The signature examples we've got are all on lined paper, so that leads me to another small question: Swanson signes the first page of the marginalia 'DSS'. He signs the second page in the same way, but he puts a line underneath it. Do we have any other examples of Swanson underlining his signature in this way? I think he wouldn't do this on a lined paper, as the line itself kind of stands in visually for the underline. I'd love to see a freehand signature with that underline.
                              Last edited by Chava; 03-12-2009, 10:16 PM.

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                              • #60
                                Thanks to Stewart Evans and Rob Clack for their replies to my query on another thread about which Ripper author was the first to refer to the serial publication of Sir Robert Anderson's memoirs in Blackwood's Magazine.

                                As Rob points out, Martin Fido referred to the serial publication in his 1987 book (p. 123). But, as far as I can see, he quoted only the subsequent book publication and doesn't seem to have examined the differences between the two versions.

                                The reason I asked is that one of the changes Anderson made between the two, no doubt in response to the accusations of anti-semitism that followed the serial publication, was to remove the statement that the witness who refused to give evidence was himself Jewish. And at the time the marginalia made their appearance, the prevailing published opinion seems to have been that Anderson's witness was a Gentile. Thus Fido himself suggested that the witness was a City PC who refused to give evidence because of pressure from Henry Smith, and Howells and Skinner (also writing in 1987) accepted Rumbelow's earlier suggestion that the witness was Violina/Violenia (and that the suspect was John Pizer).

                                So it seems to me that the marginalia's statement "because the suspect was also a Jew" is something that would be unlikely to have been picked up from the current Ripper literature, and in particular unlikely to have been written by someone basing their account on Martin Fido's book.

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