By June, 1889, the general fear of Jack the Ripper that had been evident all over the country throughout the previous autumn had subsided, and the crimes themselves had become a source of curiosity with many sections of the Victorian media.
One journalist who continued to comment on the Whitechapel atrocities was George Sims who, in his weekly column, written under the pseudonym “Dagonet”, which appeared in The Referee newspaper, often used the crimes to poke fun at members of the establishment whom he considered to be a little too pompous for their, or for society’s, own good.
His columns proved extremely popular with other journalists, and many newspapers across the country often published his articles verbatim.
On Saturday, 22nd June, 1889, The Chard and Ilminster News republished a tongue-in-cheek article written by him which had appeared Sims’s previous week’s column:-
A WILD, STRANGE STORY OF TODAY
RUINED BY A WIFE’S KISS
“It would be imagined by people who have studied temperance literature and temperance speeches for the last twenty years that the Baron Munchausens of the movement had exhausted themselves, and that nothing startling remained to be told.
But it is the unexpected which always happens.
Some time ago, says “Dagonet,” in The Referee, a daring and original clergyman told a story which takes the pastry without one dissentient voice.
A reverend temperance gentleman has given to his congregation, and to the Press, a wild, strange story of today which must make Zola sick with envy and cause our own realists to go a ghastly shade of green.
HIS WIFE KISSED HIM GOODNIGHT
A young man who had taken to drink was reformed by the Blue Ribbon Army.
He signed the pledge, and became Ormande and Bendigo rolled into one for the Lemonade Stakes.
One day his wife, who was a temperate woman but not a total abstainer, took a glass of weak whisky-and-water for neuralgia before going to bed, and kissed him afterwards.
That kiss undid the glorious work of the blue Ribbon-men.
THE POISON ENTERED HIS SYSTEM
The poison of the weak whisky-and-water was there in five minutes, and the pledge was broken.
In four-and-twenty-hours, the kissed husband was blind drunk, in a week he had delirium tremens, and broke up his home.
HE BECAME JACK THE RIPPER
But from this point, the story becomes so lurid that I give it up in terror lest my reason should give way under the strain.
From the hasty glance I stole at the conclusion of the anecdote, I am under the impression that the poor fellow wound up by becoming Jack the Ripper.
And it was all through being kissed by a wife who had just tasted whisky-and-water.
THE MORAL OF THE TALE
The moral of this terrible tale is obvious, and should be a warning to wives and mothers.
Many a mother kisses her babe after a glass of nourishing stout. It was probably a kiss of that sort which made Charles Peace grow up to burglary and develop gallows form in his old age.
There is a beautiful song which says, “Mother kissed me in my dreams.”
Who can say that even that dream kiss may not have been given to us with a suspicion of port or sherry about it, and that it was from that hour that we began to be so wicked?”