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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Thompson, Francis

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  #1  
Old 02-27-2015, 08:35 AM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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Default The True Face of Francis Thompson.

Don’t let anyone tell you my Ripper suspect was a nice guy. Here is the true face of Francis Thompson. This is what he said about his classmates,

‘a veritable demoniac revelation…these malignant school-mates who danced around me with mocking evil distortion of laughter...devilish apparitions….testimonies to the murky aboriginal demon in man.’

Here is what he thought of his readers,

‘‘The public has an odd kind of prejudice that poems are written for its benefit….’

In particular his London readers,

’…that infectious web of sewer rats called London...the villainous blubber brained public.’

And here he is about, all Londoners,

'We lament the smoke of London-it were nothing without the fumes of congregated evil, the herded effluence from millions of festering souls. At times I am merely sick of it....Nothing but the vocabulary of the hospital, images of corruption and fleshly ruin,...The very streets weigh upon me. These horrible streets with their gangrenous multitudes, blackening ever into lower mortifications [shame] of humanity! The brute men; these lads who have almost lost the faculty of human speech, who howl & growl like animals, or use a tongue which in itself a cancerous disintegration of speech…Seamed & fissured with Scarred streets under the heat of the vaporous London Sun, the whole blackened organism corrupts into foul humanity, Seething & rustling through its tissues.'

This is what he felt about leaving a woman in a home that he had set alight,

'A house on fire is no place for tarrying'

Here is what he wrote kept him up awake at night,

‘the dearest child has made friends with me in the park; & we have fallen in love with each other… I rather fancy she thinks me one of the most admirable of mortals…And now I am in fever lest…her kinsfolk should steal her from me. Result- I haven’t slept for two nights… Of course in some ways she is sure to vanish…’

Speaking of children, He didn’t forget the Downtrodden,

'…they are brought up in sin from their cradles,... the boys are ruffians and profligates, (Sexually unrestrained] the girls harlots in the mother's womb…, For better your children were cast from the bridges of London than they should become as one of those little ones.’

He contrasted them with himself when he was rescued from the streets,

‘As though one stirred a fusty rag in a London alley and met the eyes of a cobra scintillating under the yellow gas lamps.'

Even the little things like why he needed a razor,

'Dear Mr Meynell...Can you send me a razor?...Any kind of razor would do for me; I have shaved with a dissecting scalpel before now...I would solve the difficulty by not shaving at all., if it were possible for me to grow a beard, but repeated experiment has convinced me that the only result of such action is to make me look like an escaped convict.'

or the big things,

‘The world-the Universe-is a fallen world.’

Were not nice.
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2015, 10:55 AM
Pcdunn Pcdunn is offline
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Default From the Catholic Encyclopedia re Thompson

"Poet, b. at Preston, Lancashire, 18 Dec., 1859; d. in London, 13 Nov., 1907. He came from the middle classes, the classes great in imaginative poetry. His father was a provincial doctor; two paternal uncles dabbled in literature; he himself referred his heredity chiefly to his mother, who died in his boyhood. His parents being Catholics, he was educated at Ushaw, the college that had in former years Lingard, Waterton, and Wiseman as pupils. There he was noticeable for love of literature and neglect of games, though as spectator he always cared for cricket, and in later years remembered the players of his day with something like personal love. After seven years he went to Owens College to study medicine. He hated this proposed profession more than he would confess to his father; he evaded rather than rebelled, and finally disappeared. No blame, or attribution of hardships or neglect should attach to his father's memory; every careful father knows his own anxieties. Francis Thompson went to London, and there endured three years of destitution that left him in a state of incipient disease. He was employed as bookselling agent, and at a shoemaker's, but very briefly, and became a wanderer in London streets, earning a few pence by selling matches and calling cabs, often famished, often cold, receiving occasional alms; on one great day finding a sovereign on the footway, he was requested to come no more to a public library because he was too ragged. He was nevertheless able to compose a little — "Dream-Tryst", written in memory of a child, and "Paganism Old and New", with a few other pieces of verse and prose.

"Having seen some numbers of a new Catholic magazine, "Merry England", he sent these poems to the editor, Mr. Wilfrid Meynell, in 1888, giving his address at a post-office. The manuscripts were pigeonholed for a short time, but when Mr. Meynell read them he lost no time in writing to the sender a welcoming letter which was returned from the post-office. The only way then to reach him was to publish the essay and the poem, so that the author might see them and disclose himself. He did see them, and wrote to the editor giving his address at a chemist's shop. Thither Mr. Meynell went, and was told that the poet owed a certain sum for opium, and was to be found hard by, selling matches. Having settled matters between the druggist and his client, Mr. Meynell wrote a pressing invitation to Thompson to call upon him. That day was the last of the poet's destitution. He was never again friendless or without food, clothing, shelter, or fire. The first step was to restore him to better health and to overcome the opium habit. A doctor's care, and some months at Storrington, Sussex, where he lived as a boarder at the Premonstratensian monastery, gave him a new hold upon life. It was there, entirely free temporarily from opium, that he began in earnest to write poetry. "Daisy" and the magnificent "Ode to the Setting Sun" were the first fruits. Mr. Meynell, finding him in better health but suffering from the loneliness of his life, brought him to London and established him near himself. Thenceforward with some changes to country air, he was either an inmate or a constant visitor until his death nineteen years later."

Richard, I respect your persistence, but I think a number of your examples of Thompson's comments reflect a certain wry humor more than hatred of the human race. The man had mental issues, addictions, and yet managed to survive and overcome them. He had friends, too, and they did assist him to recover from his destitution. If he was such a vile person, why would they care or bother? He is recognized as a great poet, among Catholics, if nowhere else, and I think you really are joining the ranks of Ripperlogists who pick a random famous artistic person and try to pin the Whitechapel crimes on him, for no other reason than because his work "seems" to offer "clues" of varying degrees of vagueness.
It is no more than the "Royals" theory in a new disguise, when you think about it. Why on earth should the Ripper be a famous artist, poet, musician, author, etc.?
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  #3  
Old 02-27-2015, 02:56 PM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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This biography is full of factual errors. Thompson, for example was not a boy when he his mother died. On December the 19th, 1880, in the family home at Ashton, after suffering a complaint of the liver, Mary Morton Thompson, Francis' mother died. Mary was aged fifty-eight. It was the day after Francis Thompson's twenty-first birthday.

This is what Thompson, a knife carrying, surgeon trained, Providence Row living, drug addict said about prostitutes. 'These girls whose Practice is a putrid ulceration of love, venting foul and purulent discharge- for their very utterance is a hideous blasphemy against the sacrosanctity [sacred ways] of lover's language!'
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Old 02-27-2015, 04:38 PM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
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Richard, I do happen to think you've got a fairly decent suspect there, if not the Ripper then someone at least possible -and- interesting to read about.

I don't think, though, that it's helpful to offer up dissections of his creative works as proof of him being a murderer. God knows, anyone reading some of my poems and particularly short fiction and thinking this presented an accurate picture of me, as a person, in my daily life, would probably wonder why I haven't been locked up years ago. Yet, the poems are not all fictions, far from it. Just extremely condensed and symbolic representations of truths, some that nice people don't generally speak about aloud. Many poets are far different people that their poems may indicate, is my point. Poetic license and all.

Letters might be more telling of where his head was actually at, however, and it's interesting that he might have held such abiding hatred for the streets he lived on, the people he saw every day. One has to wonder why he chose to remain there.
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Old 02-27-2015, 09:59 PM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
Richard, I do happen to think you've got a fairly decent suspect there, if not the Ripper then someone at least possible -and- interesting to read about.

I don't think, though, that it's helpful to offer up dissections of his creative works as proof of him being a murderer. God knows, anyone reading some of my poems and particularly short fiction and thinking this presented an accurate picture of me, as a person, in my daily life, would probably wonder why I haven't been locked up years ago. Yet, the poems are not all fictions, far from it. Just extremely condensed and symbolic representations of truths, some that nice people don't generally speak about aloud. Many poets are far different people that their poems may indicate, is my point. Poetic license and all.

Letters might be more telling of where his head was actually at, however, and it's interesting that he might have held such abiding hatred for the streets he lived on, the people he saw every day. One has to wonder why he chose to remain there.
What I have quoted here are not dissections of his creative works. Apart from the one quote on the downtrodden, they are all from his private letters, written in confidence to people like his publishers, the Meynells. These quotes are not creative license on his part, they are his actual opinions and him being a poet does not come into this.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:23 PM
GUT GUT is offline
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Richard a reference to a child doesn't necessarily mean a child n the sense we use the term today, I have seen many letters [late 1800s early 1900s] referring to the dear child who was indeed the writer's fiancee, often I grant when there was a largish age gap.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:04 PM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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Originally Posted by Pcdunn View Post

He had friends, too, and they did assist him to recover from his destitution. If he was such a vile person, why would they care or bother?
The reasons why his ‘friends’ assisted him in recovering from his destitution was probably because they had no choice. Those who devoted so much time to Thompson, the homeless bum did so because probably by the time they had come to suspect him as being capable of more than writing poems, it may have been too late. In June of 1888, before the murders began the Meynells had already published Thompson’s poems. He had sent his submission to their magazine, almost a year before. The Meynell’s not being able to contact Thompson published one of his poems anyway. Thompson found out his, ‘The Passion of Mary’, poem had been accepted after he read it in their magazine. He contacted the Meynells and they paid him the money to spruce himself up. Amongst the poems he had first sent them was ‘the Nightmare of the Witch Babies’ which was very explicate in its talk of cutting women up with a knife. The Meynell’s son, Everard, then just a child wrote of his mother's Alice Meynell's opinion,

'Told by A.M at 21 Philimore Place, Mother read in bed the dirty ms of Paganism and along with it some witch-opium poems which she detested.'

Here are sections of this poem which features a lusty knight hunting down woman and ripping their stomachs open with a knife, to look for their ‘witch’ babies in their womb, (This is a short version of the poem, I am happy to supply the full version)

'Two witch-babies,
Ha! Ha!...
A lusty knight,
Ha! Ha!
Rode upon the land…
What is it sees he?
There he saw a maiden
Fairest fair,…
'Swiftly he followed her
Ha! Ha!
Eagerly he followed her
Ho! Ho!
Lo, she corrupted
Ho! Ho!
Comes there a Death
And its paunch [stomach] was rent
Like a brasted [bursting] drum;
And the blubbered fat
From its belly doth come
It was a stream ran bloodily
Under the wall
O Stream, you cannot run too red…
It was a stream ran bloodily
Under the wall.
With a sickening ooze-Hell made it so!
Two witch babies, Ho! Ho! Ho!'

Nobody would have accepted that these literary folk were so naive as to take it all as art. These were the early days of the Ripper crimes, and the pardon for accomplices had not been issued. When the Meynells published Thompson’s poem, the new very little about him including his ill fated relationship with a prostitute, one that would end with her rejection of him, once she discovered the very publication of Thompson’s poem by the Meynells. His publishers probably simply dismissed these macabre verses from their minds. Once the murders had begun the Meynells were possibly already beyond extricating themselves from Thompson and his verses. If they had spoken up, they could have been implicated by outraged public and press. They might have also faced the gallows. This could by why they took him in and confined him in the Storrington Priory in the countryside.

That the Meynell’s were compelled to assist Thompson, in case he were caught, exposing him as the Ripper and them as his unwitting accomplices is all conjecture, but what seems more plausible? The Meynell’s helping a homeless man, all their life solely from the goodness of their heart or the husband and wife caught up in events beyond their control. To me it’s more likely they were two writers duped by a desperate man in extreme events. To avoid the scandal that would ensure, they were forced to help a man who would boast in a poem, ‘Sister Songs’ that he dedicated to their daughters:

‘You are mine through the times!
I have caught you fast for ever in a tangle of sweet rhymes.’
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:20 AM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GUT View Post
Richard a reference to a child doesn't necessarily mean a child n the sense we use the term today, I have seen many letters [late 1800s early 1900s] referring to the dear child who was indeed the writer's fiancee, often I grant when there was a largish age gap.
Thank you, then you may have seen one letter Thompson wrote to Wilfrid Meynell, July 19th 1900. In which he gets to feel a child's hair and falls in love with her. I would say a very concerning age gap, considering he was 40 and she maybe 13,

‘We had a Carnival hereabouts…The sold sport…was for girls to dab you in the face with a peacock’s feather…Only the children made amends for their elders…I cheerfully submitted my neck to be tickled on my cheek, by the feathery weapons of the kids…One charming child of 13 or 15 had a veritable impromptu game of ‘tick’ with me…at last she allowed me to ‘tick’ here; and then, feeling my hand among her bright tresses…I fell in love with her at first sight for she was delightful: of antelope-lightness, fair complexion and long glittering hair…I retained my old attraction for children…Any way, not even the chicks tempted me forth among the crowd on Friday.’
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:34 AM
GUT GUT is offline
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Thank you, then you may have seen one letter Thompson wrote to Wilfrid Meynell, July 19th 1900. In which he gets to feel a child's hair and falls in love with her. I would say a very concerning age gap, considering he was 40 and she maybe 13,

‘We had a Carnival hereabouts…The sold sport…was for girls to dab you in the face with a peacock’s feather…Only the children made amends for their elders…I cheerfully submitted my neck to be tickled on my cheek, by the feathery weapons of the kids…One charming child of 13 or 15 had a veritable impromptu game of ‘tick’ with me…at last she allowed me to ‘tick’ here; and then, feeling my hand among her bright tresses…I fell in love with her at first sight for she was delightful: of antelope-lightness, fair complexion and long glittering hair…I retained my old attraction for children…Any way, not even the chicks tempted me forth among the crowd on Friday.’


If she was 15 it was really not uncommon you know for her to even marry.

And in all honesty I see nothing BAD about what you just quoted, it seems he was happy that he retained his attraction for children, I too am glad that I retain my attraction for children, does that make me JtR.

You have a suspect that holds some attraction, but keep wanting to over egg the pudding which does little for your case.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:16 AM
Richard Patterson Richard Patterson is offline
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If she was 15 it was really not uncommon you know for her to even marry.

And in all honesty I see nothing BAD about what you just quoted, it seems he was happy that he retained his attraction for children, I too am glad that I retain my attraction for children, does that make me JtR.

You have a suspect that holds some attraction, but keep wanting to over egg the pudding which does little for your case.
In 1885 the age of consent was raised to 16. When, in 1900, Thompson wrote about this girl, it was not only uncommon for her to marry, it was a felony. If I were to fall in love with a child, it were a criminal offense to marry, simply because I had felt her hair, then I hope I would see something bad in it.
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