THE CLANGING CHIMES OF DOOM
The Clanger in #435 of the Special Announcement thread does his usual ‘why didn’t he mention this? Why didn’t he mention that?’ routine that I discussed in the last ‘Lord Orsam Says..’. He notes that Addison said in his opening speech that Florence came to London to be operated on whereas Hopper says she just came to see him. I didn’t mention this because it would have been an irrelevant diversion to the issue at hand, bearing in mind that the diary says nothing about an operation.Here are the Clanger's exact words:
'There is another significant difference between Addison’s opening statement and Hopper’s supplementary statement. Addison stated that the Countess came to London to be operated on by Sir James Paget, Hopper says she came just to ‘see’ him.
Which was it? Did Addison just embroider the information he had received, or did he have additional information that didn’t appear in Hopper’s written statement?
Lord Orsam is silent on the matter. As was the diary writer, who missed the opportunity to refer to ‘the sick bitch’ having gone under Paget’s knife.'
My response is that Addison obviously interpreted the words ‘to see Sir James Paget’ as to be operated on by him, bearing in mind that he was a well-known surgeon and this is the only thing that probably seemed to him to make sense of Florence travelling to London for a week.
However, if one takes the evidence of Hopper at face value, one could certainly conclude that the Countess was neither sick, in need of nursing, or going for an operation. All Hopper said was that he was told that the Countess had come to London to see Sir James Paget and that she wanted Florence to stay with her in lodgings (and also to dine with her in the Grand Hotel) during her visit to the capital. There’s nothing about her going into any hospital for an operation and the fact that she would be staying at lodgings suggests that there was no hospital involved (at least it does to me). Perhaps she just wanted a consultation with Sir James and, while she was in London, desired Florence’s company. That’s actually how I would interpret what Hopper was saying.
Thus, when the forger wrote, ‘She can nurse the sick bitch’ he has made exactly the same potential error as if he had written ‘She can nurse the sick bitch after her operation’. We are in no position to disprove either the nursing or the operation. Perhaps the Countess did come to London for an operation and/or perhaps she wanted Florence to nurse her while she was in London. How can we know? All we can say is that neither the operation NOR the requirement to be nursed is found in Hopper’s statement.
What we can also say is that Ryan’s book tells us that the Countess had come to London for an operation and ‘had asked Florence to stay with her for a week or so during her first days of recuperation’. There's a good chance that's where the forger took ‘nurse the sick bitch from’. It’s certainly not in Hopper's statement. However, an even better possible source is the 1977 book 'Victorian Murderesses' by Mary S. Hartman in which Hartman says of Florence (p.224):
'she told her husband she was visiting a sick aunt'
To the best of my knowledge there is no mention in any other book published prior to 1992 that the supposed 'aunt' to be visited by Florence was sick, and there is no evidence that Florence's godmother was, in fact, sick. So there's a reasonable chance that the forger had seen Hartman's book and that's where 'sick bitch' came from. Interestingly, the Baltimore Sun of 24 March 1903, when summarizing the case prior to Florence's anticipated release from prison, stated that when arranging to meet Brierley in London, Florence said she was 'going to nurse a sick aunt' which is curiously similar to 'she can nurse the sick bitch'.
Mind you, it's also possible that the forger's source was Richard Whittington-Egan's 1967 'Tales of Liverpool: Murder, Mayhem, Mystery' in which it is stated that Florence went to London 'on the pretext of paying a dutiful visit to an invalid aunt'.
The point, however, is that it would make not a blind bit of difference to anything had the forger mentioned an operation in the diary.
So the Clanger just hasn’t thought it through has he? It’s typical Clanger.
OH MY BLESSED AUNT
You would think that the master of mistakes would know all about them but he's now making mistakes about mistakes.
Proving he now can’t even speak English properly, in #558 of the 'Special Announcement' thread, in response to Iconoclast’s comment that, ‘I think Orsam said that James Maybrick wouldn’t have made that mistake’, the Clanger replies, ‘It’s only a mistake if the lady wasn’t ever referred to as Florrie’s aunt within the family’.
Does the Clanger think that if you refer to someone as an aunt she thereby becomes one? Of course she doesn’t.
Even when a non-relative is called an ‘Auntie’ all adults in the family know whether she is an aunt or not. So to record someone as an aunt who is not an aunt, regardless of how they might informally be referred to within a family, IS unquestionably a mistake and one which James Maybrick would simply not have made.
The Clanger keeps making his own mistake in focusing on whether the Countess de Gabriac might theoretically have been referred to as an auntie within the Maybrick family. It doesn’t matter what she was referred to! The point is that Maybrick would not have been confused by such chatter. He would have known she was Florence’s godmother and not her aunt. That being so, he would not have described her as Florence’s aunt in his personal journal when she was, in fact, Florence’s godmother.
If the Clanger wants to prove me wrong let him show me a similar mistake actually made by an adult family member confusing a faux aunt with a real one and especially (in the nineteenth century please) a godmother being confused by a sentient adult family member with an actual aunt.
THE BURNING CATALOGUE QUESTION
For reasons which I've been unable to fathom, Iconoclast directs this comment at me in his #436 of the Special Announcement thread:
'Incidentally, if His Lordship has similarly trawled the boxes of Home Office documents on the Maybrick Case as His Keith Skinnership evidently has, I hope he will have found of great assistance the catalogue prepared by Anne Graham in 1995, a copy of which she generously donated to The National Archives for the benefit of future researchers.'
For the record, and to the best of my recollection, I never saw any such catalogue in the Maybrick boxes or files at the National Archives. I did see a handwritten index entitled ‘Index to the Important Series of Papers in F.E. Maybrick’s Case’ but if Anne Graham created that she’s a talented forger of old documents because it looks old and uses the original Home Office file number rather than the National Archives number, and it's not in her handwriting either. So I’m pretty sure I never saw Anne’s catalogue. I wouldn’t have needed it anyway, in truth.
THE FINAL TEST
Anyone who still clings on to the delusional belief that an aunt is somehow the same as, or interchangeable with, a godmother, needs to consider this.
If you, a responsible writer/historian, as I assume you are, with all you now know from the results of my research, were to write a book about the Maybrick case, which of the following two sentences (adapted from Anne Graham's book) would you include in your book?
'Florence told her husband that her aunt, the Countess de Gabriac, had asked her to accompany her to see Sir James Paget, an eminent surgeon'.
'Florence told her husband that her godmother, the Countess de Gabriac, had asked her to accompany her to see Sir James Paget, an eminent surgeon'.
The only answer you can possibly give is VERSION 2. You know it.
I don't care how much of a diary defender you are, YOU will only write VERSION 2.
Anyone who says they would use VERSION 1 is a charlatan with no interest in history other than corrupting it.
The reason you will select VERSION 2 is because that is the accurate version whereas VERSION 1 would include a mistake and no-one would deliberately and knowingly include a mistake in their book.
So we see that the notion that it doesn't matter whether one writes 'aunt' or 'godmother' is entirely false. The same would have applied to Maybrick when he wrote his personal journal. He simply would not have made the mistake that YOU would not have wanted to make and would NOT have made if you were writing your own history of the period.
19 September 2020