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Emily Soldene's 'My Theatrical and Musical Recollections' (1897)

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  • Emily Soldene's 'My Theatrical and Musical Recollections' (1897)

    I have been reading the memoirs of Emily Soldene (1838–1912), the English singer, drama critic and gossip columnist. I was pleased to find these two very creepy references to Jack the Ripper in her My Theatrical and Musical Recollections (London: Downey, 1897, pp.260-2). We now know how the Ripper lured his victims . . .

    Emily Soldene has just taken a part in Sir Augustus Harris’s production of Herve’s “Frivoli” at Drury Lane. . .

    “During the run of "Frivoli," we got a great fright. Mr. Harris received through the post a card, a threatening card, from "Jack the Ripper," and that deadly persuasive person not only expressed himself in very definite and distinct terms, but endorsed his views by impressing upon the document a bloody thumb and finger. Mr. Harris was kind enough to show us the card, and how we crowded round and gloated over the horrid thing, and the fascination of the bloody sign was irresistible.

    “Talking about "Jack the Ripper," one night, it must have been in 1888, I had been to Drury Lane on some business, and left there late, after twelve o'clock. The rush from the theatres was over, the public-houses were closed, the streets were quiet and empty. There was a moon, with dark scudding clouds, but altogether pretty clear, so I concluded to walk to Charlotte Street, Bedford Square, where I was then living. In the next house to me Lord Mandeville had rooms, and, strange to say, so had the Lady Elizabeth Bellwood.

    “I walked down Russell Street, from the stage door of Drury Lane, and as I turned into Bow Street saw drawn on the pavement in chalk, an arrow, a broad white arrow, pointing north. I had not gone a hundred yards before there was another, and at Menyweather's corner was still another, pointing slightly to the left. I crossed over to the west side of Endell Street, and had not gone far before I saw another, still pointing straight ahead. By this time I felt creepy and seemed to understand the arrows were a direction, also that I must follow that direction. I walked to the end of Endell Street, and then could see no more, they were finished. I was glad I had distanced them. It was nothing, only my fancy, but crossing the road to Bellew's Chapel I came on the direction again, broad, white, decided—it pointed to the north. At this moment of my midnight walk, to have had my head suddenly pulled back and the gleam of a razor flashed across my eyes would not have surprised me. "Jack the Ripper" was in the air. I stood still and looked round with apprehension, nobody, not a foot-step, only the sound of a distant cab. I walked quietly across Oxford Street. There was the confounded thing, against the doll shop, bright, shining, pointing straight ahead. I crossed over into Charlotte Street. There it was again, at the side of the house of Forbes Robertson. I felt a temptation, a dreadful curiosity, I must follow it, and went on opposite and past the house where I lived, on till I came to the Square, crossed over to the enclosure, and then, close to the railings, there
    it was again, palpable, commanding. "Come," it said, "follow."

    “Then suddenly I got a panic and ran back, fancying a step behind me, ran back as fast as my legs would carry me, to No. —, and, standing on the doorstep, breathless, shaking and trembling, had the unspeakable happiness of hearing the mellifluous voice of the celebrated Bessie, making the equally celebrated inquiry, "Wot cheer,' Ria?" What could the arrow have meant? Somehow, I felt that night I had been very close to a rat-trap."

  • #2
    Welcome back, David....and thank you for that informative post.
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