The French Connection

By December the 1st 1888, the East End appeared to be undergoing something of a respite from the horrors of the Jack the Ripper murders.

This gave the newspapers something of a problem in that the coverage they had been able to afford the atrocities throughout September, October and November was in danger of drying up in view of there being no new facts to report on the case.


Many of the papers were, therefore, looking at other ways in which they could sensationalise the crimes; and, on the 1st of December 1888, The Pall Mall Gazette opted to discuss the nationality of the perpetrator and to put forward the idea that there might be an occult element to the killings.

To say the theory propagated by the Gazette was slightly on the weird side, would be an understatement. In fact, it was positively bizarre! However, as anyone who studies the Whitechapel murders knows, an outlandish theory has rarely proved a barrier to the author putting it forward; and, when all is said and done, since we don’t know who Jack the Ripper was, who’s to say one theory is any more ridiculous than another?

So, in favour of presenting you with all the facts on the mystery, as they were being discussed at the time, I bring you, in full, the theory of Jack the Ripper being a Frenchman committing his murders as a part of a black magic ritual.


To back up its case, the paper used the notorious graffito – The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing – that had been found in a doorway on Goulston Street, in the wake of the murder of Catherine Eddowes, which had taken place in nearby Mitre Square. There was, it appears, still some debate as to whether the message had been scrawled by the perpetrator of the crime as he fled eastwards from the square, having carried out the murder.

For the purposes of the article, the Gazette was emphatic that it was the murderer who had scrawled the message on the wall; albeit the author of the article was, it would appear, not conversant with the actual facts on the mysterious message, as he stated that it was scrawled on a wall in Mitre Square!

The article, in full, read as follows:-



“In calmly reviewing the whole chain of facts connected with these daring and bloodthirsty atrocities, the first thing which strikes one is the fact that the murderer was kind enough to (so to speak) leave his card with the Mitre-square victim.

But this most important clue to his identity, which “he who runs may read,” seems to have harried the combined intellects of all grades of the police.

This admits of no question, because we find in all the journals a note from Sir C. Warren to the effect that “no language or dialogue is known in which the word Jews’ is spelt Juwes.”

0! most sapient conclusion ! Let us see what we can make of the word.

It will be remembered that a chalk inscription (which it is not denied was written by the murderer) was found on the wall in Mitre-square, just above the body of the murdered woman.


It ran as follows – “The Juwes are the men who will not be blamed for nothing,” and was evidently intended to throw suspicion on the Jews.

This writing was only seen by the police by means of artificial light, and was unfortunately obliterated by them before daylight.

Why did the murderer spell the word Jews, “Juwes”?

Was it that he was an uneducated Englishman who did not know how to spell the word; was he in reality an ignorant Jew, reckless of consequences and glorying in his deeds; or was he a foreigner, well accustomed to the English language, but who in the tremendous hurry of the moment unconsciously wrote the fatal word in his native tongue?

The answers to these three queries, on which the whole matter rests, are easy.

Juwes is a much too difficult word for an uneducated man to evolve on the spur of the moment, as any philologist will allow.

Any ignorant Jew capable of spelling the rest of the sentence as correctly as he did, would know, certainly, how to spell the name of his own people.

Therefore, only the last proposition remains, which we shall now show, in the most conclusive manner, to be the truth.


To critically examine an inscription of this kind, the first thing we naturally do is not to rest satisfied with reading it in print, but to make, as nearly as we can, a facsimile of it in script, thus:-

A facsimile of the word Juwes.
How The Pall Mall Gazette Reproduced The Word Juwes. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Inspection at once shows us, then, that a dot has been overlooked by the constable who copied it, as might easily occur, especially if it were placed at some distance, after the manner of foreigners.

Therefore we place a dot above the third upstroke in the word Juwes, and we find it to be Juives, which is the French word for Jews.

The word Juives written by the Gazette.
The Pall Mall Gazette depiction of what the author actually wrote.


Strictly and grammatically speaking, of course, it is the feminine form of Juifs and means “Jewesses.”

But in practice it will be found that (Frenchmen being notoriously the worst linguists in the world) most Frenchmen who are not either litterateurs or men of science are very inaccurate as to their genders.

And almost all the ouvrier and a large majority of the bourgeois class use the feminine where the word should be masculine.

Even the Emperor Napoleon III was a great sinner in this respect, as his voluminous correspondence amply shows.


Therefore, it is evident that the native language – or, to be more accurate, the language in which this murderer thinks – is French.

The murderer is, therefore, a Frenchman.

It may here be argued that both Swiss and Belgians make French almost their mother-tongue; but Flemish is the natural and usual vehicle for the latter, while the idiosyncrasy of both those nationalities is adverse to this class of crime.

On the contrary, in France, the murdering of prostitutes has long been practised: and has been considered to be almost peculiarly a French crime.

Again, the grammatical construction of the sentence under examination is distinctly French in two points. First, in the double negative contained; and, secondly, in the employment of the definite article before the second noun.

An Englishman or an American would have said, ” The Jews are men who, &c.”

But, the murderer followed his native idiom, “Les Juifs sont des hommes”, in his thoughts, and when putting it into English rendered des hommesthe men.”

Again, neither Belgians nor Swiss entertain any animosity to the Jews, whereas the hatred of the French proletarian to them is notorious.


The ground for research being thus cleared and narrowed, the next question is, what is the motive ?

Speculation has been rife, theories are many; almost every man one meets, who is competent to form an opinion, having a different one.

And, in endeavouring to sift a mystery like this, one cannot afford to throw aside any theory, however extravagant, without careful examination, because the truth might, after all, lie in the most unlikely one.

There seems to be no doubt that the murderer, whether mad or not, had a distinct motive in his mutilations; but one possible theory of that motive has never yet been suggested.

In the nineteenth century, with all its enlightenment, it would seem absurd, were it not that superstition dies hard, and some of its votaries do undoubtedly to this day practise unholy rites.


Now, in one of the books by the great modern occultist who wrote under the nom de plume of “Eliphaz Levy,” “Le Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie,” [The English translation of this is “Dogma and Ritual of High Magic”] we find the most elaborate directions for working magical spells of all kinds.

The second volume has a chapter on Necromancy, or black magic, which the author justly denounces as a profanation.

Black magic employs the agencies of evil spirits and demons, instead of the beneficent spirits directed by the adepts of la haute magic.

At the same time he gives the clearest and fullest details of the necessary steps for evocation by this means, and it is in the list of substances prescribed as absolutely necessary to success that we find the link which joins modern French necromancy with the quest of the East-end murderer.


These substances are in themselves horrible, and difficult to procure.

They can only be obtained by means of the most appalling crimes, of which murder and mutilation of the dead are the least heinous.

Among them are strips of the skin of a suicide, nails from a murderer’s gallows, candles made from human fat, the head of a black cat which has been fed forty days on human flesh, the horns of a goat which has been made the instrument of an infamous and capital crime, and a preparation made from a certain portion of the body of a harlot.

This last point is insisted upon as essential; and it was this extraordinary fact that first drew my attention to the possible connection of the murderer with the black art.


Further, in the practice of evocation the sacrifice of human victims was a necessary part of the process, and the profanation of the cross and other emblems usually considered sacred was also enjoined.

In this connection it will be well to remember one most extraordinary and unparalleled circumstance in the commission of the Whitechapel murders, and a thing which could not by any possibility have been brought about fortuitously.

Leaving out the last murder, committed indoors, which was most probably not committed by the fiend of whom we speak, we find that the sites of the murders, six in number, form a perfect cross.

That is to say, a line ruled from No. 3 to No. 6, on a map having the murder sites marked and numbered, passes exactly through Nos. 1 and 2, while the cross arms are accurately formed by a line from No. 4 to 5.


The seventh, or Dorset-street murder, does not fall within either of these lines, and there is nothing to connect it with the others except the fact of the mutilations.

But, the mutilations in this latter case were evidently not made by any one having the practical knowledge of the knife and the position of the respective organs which was exhibited in the other six cases, and also in the mutilated trunk found in the new police-buildings, which was probably the first of the series of murders, and was committed somewhere on the lines of the cross, the body being removed at the time.

The illustration that accompanied the article showing the murders on a sign of the cross.
From The Pall Mall Gazette, 1st December 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Did the murderer, then, designing to offer the mystic number of seven human sacrifices in the form of a cross – a form which he intended to profane – deliberately pick out beforehand on a map the places in which he would offer them to his infernal deity of murder?

If not, surely these six coincidences(?) are the most marvellous event of our time.

To those persons to whom this theory may seem somewhat far-fetched, we would merely remark that the French book referred to was only published a few years ago; that thousands of copies were sold; that societies have been formed for the study and practice of its teachings and philosophy; and, finally, that within the last twelve months an English edition has been issued.


In all things history repeats itself, and the superstitions of yesterday become the creeds of to-day.”