The Tragedy in Judd Street, New Road
by Inspector F.

I ONCE lodged for a few months with Mrs. George, an elderly widow, in one of the roomiest houses in Judd-street, New-road. Mrs. George gained her living by letting furnished apartments. She and her maid-of-all-work dwelt in the under-ground rooms; Mr. and Mrs. Fordyce—a gouty old gentleman and amazingly corpulent wife—occupied the parlours; Mr. Faulkner, a youthful member of the Royal College of Surgeons, the first floor; Mr. Richard Bellingham, a native of Worcester, and articled clerk to Mr. Parkes, solicitor, of Mitre-court, Temple, the second; and myself, apartments on the third floor. The name of “Mr. Faulkner, Surgeon,” was inscribed on a brass plate fixed to the door, and “Surgery Bell” was neatly painted under one of the brightly-polished brass bell-knobs.

We were quite a friendly community, notwithstanding difference in social position. Mr. Fordyce, a retired drysalter, without any other incumbrance than his unwieldy wife, was never happy except he could prevail upon the surgeon, the articled clerk, and myself, to spend the evening at whist with him. When, as frequently happened, I was not able to make one, the landlady was caught and made to do duty in my stead—Mrs. Fordyce’s mind being a complete blank as respected the mysteries of whist or of any other card game. Mr. Fordyce, for his position, was a rich as well as liberal man. The good cheer was consequently abundant—wines, spirits, cigars, first-rate; suppers excellent! Occasionally whist was exchanged for Pope Joan, vingt-un, and other “quiet game”-substitutions for his beloved whist, which greatly fretted Mr. Fordyce, and generally brought on a violent fit of gout; one reason, no doubt, being that at such times he indulged more immoderately than usual in consolatory port. These occasions happened, upon an average, about once a fortnight, when his nieces, Julia and Laura Morris, with their mother, the widow Morris, paid their rich uncle a visit. Good-looking girls were both nieces, Julia particularly, though she was no beauty. I was somewhat prejudiced against them. Though by no means occupying a high social position (their father had been a baker, doing a good trade at Islington, and his widow still carried on the business), the young damsels were stuck-upish, and, it was plain enough to be seen, that they thought their uncle greatly lowered himself by entertaining a police-officer off duty, and dressed in plain clothes as he might be, at his table. Perhaps he did, but for all that, he was not going to give up his favourite whist partner. They were, however, amiable girls, and improved upon closer acquaintance; and yet it was to them that the tragedy in Judd-street was in the main attributable. It was well known—Mr. Fordyce made no secret of it—that the uncle’s will was made, and that each of’ his nieces would receive five thousand pounds at his death. Now both Julia and Laura would certainly not have thrown themselves away had they nothing to bestow but their pretty persons and hearts and lutes, which, if a song they both sang very sweetly was to be believed, would chase life’s [clouds] away, or gild them till they vanished; but when in addition to those sweet gifts they could each be able to bestow upon an eligible party five thousand pounds sterling, their own estimate of the social status to which they would be entit1ed was a pretty high one. Mr. Faulkner, for example, youthful, handsome, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, would be quite an eligible party when he should have succeeded in obtaining a lucrative practice that, with five thousand pounds added, would enable him to set up a modest carriage. Not certainly till then, though a little flirting in the interim would not be unpleasant. As to Richard Bellingham, I don’t think he would have stood a much better chance of obtaining one of the nieces for wife than I should. A clerk, indeed!—Preposterous! They were not perhaps aware that the richest of solicitors, the wealthiest of attorneys, must have all begun life as “clerks.”
 
It was clear that Mr. Faulkner understood the conditions of the matrimonial game he was soon very anxious to take a hand in, much better than he did that of whist, at which he was but a so-so player—a deficiency chiefly arising from absence of mind; he appeared to be always thinking of something else—of something infinitely more important and interesting than games of cards. It was not long, however, before I was quite satisfied that Julia Morris had caught his fancy, and with a firm hold, too. Yet Mr. Faulkner was a man of brilliant, high-reaching intellect, made of the stuff of which mental giants are created, needing only opportunity, emergence from the cold shade of obscurity—the slough of poverty—to swiftly rise to a lofty eminence in his profession; even I could discern so much as that. And Miss Julia Morris was, favourably considered, but a rather pretty, amiable, commonplace person; her acquirements nothing more than the rudimentary ones, with which well-to-do baker’s daughters are usually quite content.

There is no accounting for such things, but most certainly Alfred Faulkner loved Julia Morris. At last he proposed; an explanation ensued. Mr. Faulkner frankly avowed that all his wealth was the hope—the strong hope—of rising to distinction in his profession; in which profession he as candidly avowed he had up to that time made no advance, his clientéle being nil. Still, the most eminent surgeons and physicians had been similarly circumstanced at their outset in life, and, though self-laudation was not his habit or to his taste, he felt confident that, if an opportunity were granted that would bring him prominently before the public, he could hold his own with the best in the career that would then be before him. The result was an understanding that when he had successfully climbed the lower steps of the ladder of life, and had a fair prospect of reaching the summit, or at all events a reasonable height thereon, Julia Morris should bestow herself and five thousand pounds, which dowry Mr. Fordyce, who very much liked Faulkner, spite of his bad whist-playing, gave his word to write a cheque for on the wedding morn. Meanwhile, Mr. Faulkner and Miss Julia Morris were to meet as friends, only friends.
 
I will now state what I subsequently discovered to be Mr. Faulkner’s actual position at the time that understanding between himself, Julia Morris, her mother, and Mr. Fordyce had come to. He was the son of a man who, having, through his own vices, fallen from an independent position into the mire of degradation, penury and want, hung loose upon the skirts of society for some years, and died wretchedly at a poor lodging in Somers Town. He left a widow, paralytic, half-blind, and utterly incapable of self-help. She was supported during the short time that she lingered upon earth by a relative, who had also defrayed the cost of her son Alfred’s education, and when he had concluded, with much éclat, his medical studies, presented him with one hundred pounds, bade him God speed, and distinctly intimated that he could do nothing more for him. Within three or four months of that time, the benevolent relative died, not in such prosperous circumstances as had been imagined. Well, the hundred pounds had gradually melted away. Mr. Faulkner’s practice did not certainly realize twenty shillings per week, and he was fast incurring debts to Mrs. George and others. This, briefly stated, was Alfred Faulkner’s true pecuniary position when he proposed for the hand of Julia Morris and the five thousand pounds of which that hand held the key. He did not take much by that motion.

Still the burden of the youthful, enthusiastic surgeon was: If but a chance were given me of signalizing myself, ay, if I could create a chance, all would be well, the goal as good as reached. He was familiar with me; I knew more of him than, I think, did any other person; yet how could I guess at what he meant by creating a chance of raising himself into distinction. To himself, till the terrible opportunity presented itself, it could only have existed in his teeming brain as a vague notion—a misty hope. He was of a loving, generous nature, but the master-passion which dominated his being was ambition, the sin by which the angels fell.

Mr. Faulkner’s practice did not increase, though the season was sickly, unusually hot, and even worse in the dog-days. His circumstances were getting desperate; he himself desperate as his circumstances. The manner of Julia Morris had certainly not improved in urbanity, not to speak of tenderness. The young lady, it struck me, though I had seen but very little of her for some time, had all but, if not quite, definitively made up her mind, that to wait for a husband till Mr. Faulkner attained the distinction of knighthood and a carriage, would be self-condemnation to life-long celibacy. She did not, however, break with him; and he made one of a picnic party to Hampstead Heath, at which Miss Julia, her sister Laura, Richard Bellingham, and Mr. Fordyce, provider-general, of course, were present.

The day was passing pleasantly, when a dreadful incident took place. A bull-terrier had broken its chain, and evidently mad, rushed upon the party, tore Richard Bellingham’s arm in a frightful manner, and then leapt at Julia Morris. Faulkner, a powerful, active man, had but just time to interpose between her and the rabid brute, which, with a tremendous kick in the belly, he laid prostrate, helpless on the grass, but not till he had himself been bitten on his naked hand. That the dog was rabid, no doubt could be entertained; it was secured, and in a few minutes afterwards shot by the owner, from whose yard it had got away.

A coach was called in which were placed the terrified young ladies and Mr. Fordyce; Bellingham, who was in great pain, and still greater alarm, would have followed, had not Mr. Faulkner detained him.
 
“Come with me, Bellingham,” he said. “Not a moment must be lost. The actual cautery must be immediately applied; a poker will do, and there is a house close by. Come; with a little resolution, all will be well.”

Bellingham followed the young surgeon mechanically. He was not a man of nerve or resolution; and the idea of applying the actual cautery—that is, of burning out the wounds inflicted by the rabid brute, with red hot iron, seemed almost as frightful as taking the chance of dying of hydrophobia.
 
“Is,” he asked, as Faulkner hurried along, “is the actual cautery, as you term it, infallible in such cases?”
 
“‘No, certainly not infallible; there are no infallibly preventive remedies against the bite of a mad dog; dipping is old womanish humbug. Immediate recourse to actual cautery is, however, the most efficacious safeguard  known. Remember, too, that nineteen out of twenty persons bitten by dogs ascertained to be in a rabid state, are not affected by hydrophobia. You have this further consolation, that the animal’s teeth went through the cloth of your sleeve before contact with the flesh, and must consequently have been cleaned of the virus. My hand was naked. I have not much fear of a fatal issue, but will not throw away a chance.”
 
Faulkner made a poker red hot, and firmly burnt, cauterized the wound in his hand. But nothing could induce poor, chicken-hearted Bellingham to submit to the operation. Finding it impossible to prevail, Faulkner drove with him as quickly as possible to Judd-street, applied lunar-caustic to the wounds, administered a sedative, and all was done that surgery and medicine could do. Surely the faintest thought of having recourse to the expedient of creating for himself a chance of attaining distinction in his profession, by the means he subsequently had recourse to, could not then have dawned upon his mind. This opinion was not agreed with by many; but the prompt and proper remedies he applied prove at all events that he had—could have had—no design against Richard Bellingham’s life.

The picnic incident on Hampstead Heath made a noise in the papers. A controversy arose as to whether there were or were not specifics by which hydrophobia might be cured after the terrible malady had manifested itself. Alfred Faulkner entered into that discussion with eagerness; the gist of the three or four letters being, that he had discovered an infallible remedy which could not fail of arresting or eradicating hydrophobia after its manifestation had become palpable. He was derided as an empiric. He replied that he would resignedly accept that designation, did he not prove the specific he had devised to be infallible.
 
Richard Bellingham remained in a state of awful trepidation: six months at least he knew must pass before he could with anything like confidence believe himself secure; a whole twelvemonth, many said. I was surprised to observe that Faulkner, instead of rebuking the young man’s terrors, appeared to encourage, to stimulate them. One day, in particular, I well remember, he asked Bellingham, whilst a sudden expression of dismay gloomed his countenance—asked in a whisper if he, Mr. Bellingham, felt any unusual emotion when casting his eyes upon the pellucid surface of the large mirror, from which he feared he was not mistaken in observing that he turned shudderingly away. The whispered question did cause a very perceptible shudder through the nervous, imaginative young man’s frame. He dared not attempt to dissipate his fears by again confronting the mirror, and in the extremity of a horrible panic dread, averted his gaze from a goblet of water on the table, trembled in every limb, whilst the hot sweat streamed down his clammy forehead.

“Keep up heart,” said Faulkner; “I will soon put you all to rights. But come to bed at once. Take my arm.”

They left the room together; and I neither saw nor heard anything of either till late the next evening. Mr. Fordyce and Mrs. George were sitting together in grave discourse.
 
“Decided hydrophobia,” said Mr. Fordyce. “All the symptoms: Dr.— and Dr.—, celebrated men both, have been called in by Mr. Faulkner; they both declared there could be no mistake about it, and that, the usual course—the administering of morphine till a comparatively painless death ensued—ought not to be delayed. Mr. Faulkner, on the contrary, remains positive that his specific will cast out the hitherto incurable disease, and will not give the unfortunate sufferer morphine. All he demanded of the physicians was, that they should certify under their hands that Richard Bellingham is attacked by hydrophobia. This they did. I saw the sufferer,” added Mr. Fordyce, “three hours after the physicians had left, and certainly the violence of the symptoms was much subdued.”
 
It is not less strange than true that mysteries, enigmas which for a time baffle the highest intellects, show themselves in their bare nudity to the common-sense mental glance of a very inferior man. In this very case, that which the learned physicians had not dreamed of, was plain to me. Alfred Faulkner, to create for himself a chance of notoriety, had, by the agency of medicine, aided by the excited imagination, the mortal terrors of Richard Bellingham, induced symptoms of hydrophobia, which, their judgments being misled by a foregone conclusion, those skilled practitioners had pronounced to be unmistakable hydrophobia! Feeling quite sure that Alfred Faulkner intended no lasting harm to Richard Bellingham, I thought it best to keep my suspicions—my convictions, to myself.

Mr. Faulkner sent the written voucher of the two physicians that Mr. Richard Bellingham was rapidly sinking under paroxysms of hydrophobia when they saw him, for publication to the evening papers, accompanied by a certificate from another physician of eminence, that he had just seen the patient, and though there was intense nervous prostration, hydrophobia appeared to have been thoroughly subdued by Mr. Faulkner’s remedy or remedies.

Great hubbub amongst the faculty, who resolved upon an immediate verification of the case, if it could be verified.
 
Three first-rate professional gentlemen—two surgeons, one physician—arrived for that purpose in Judd -street, before I, having endured much fatigue the day before, had risen. I rose quickly upon the servant-of-all-work telling me what was going on, went downstairs, and saw Mr. Faulkner, white as his shirt, and his eyes on fire with excitement, terror, listening at the keyhole of the chamber where the three professional gentlemen were in consultation upon the state of Richard Bellingham.
 
I lingered about on the first floor landing, unseen by Mr. Faulkner; presently, I heard the patient’s door open; the three medical gentlemen came out, and walked with grave, solemn steps down-stairs, Mr. Faulkner following. One, by whom I was known,
catching sight of me, said—

“Mr. Police Officer, you must remain; your services will be required.”
  
I necessarily obeyed, and followed the four into Mr. Faulkner’s private apartment. I had felt a strong attachment for that desperate, maddened, impulsive gentleman, and gladly averted my eyes from his white, haggard countenance.

“Mr. Faulkner,” said the oldest of the strangers, “your wretched device is seen through. The young man dying upstairs—he is dying—. “

A spasmodic scream interrupted him; and Faulkner dropped, as if stricken by a thunderbolt, upon a chair.

“Richard Bellingham has no more been attacked by hydrophobia than I have myself. You, by the exhibition of well-known agents, have contrived to induce symptoms which, not carefully examined, would lead skilful men to believe that that terrible malady had seized the patient. We do not believe for a moment,” added the venerable gentleman, “that you intended to destroy the young man. Nor is it, in fact, the poisonous minerals you have administered under which he is sinking; it is simply nervous prostration caused by mortal terror by, I doubt not, total disbelief in your pretended nostrums, and that he would necessarily perish of hydrophobia. From that state he will never rally, take our words for it. Police officer, you must not lose sight of this gentleman till the proper authorities have been made fully acquainted with all the circumstances of this shocking affair.”
 

“Stay one moment,” exclaimed the physician, who I observed had been watching poor Faulkner with strained attention, as it were. “Stay one moment, Mr. Faulkner, let me feel your pulse.” Stretching out his hand, as if to grasp the young man’s wrist, he instead caught up a pocket mirror lying on the table, and flashed it before Mr. Faulkner. A frightful convulsion was the instant result.
 
“Unfortunate young man,” said the physician; “this is hydrophobia. Beseech God for pardon whilst you have still time. Officer,” he added, “call the servants, and help them to carry Mr. Faulkner to bed; he is no longer amenable to human tribunals.”

 

From Experiences of a Real Detective by Inspector F.
Edited by “Waters,” author of Recollections of a Police Officer, Leonard Harlowe, etc.
London: Ward, Lock, & Tyler, 1862. 17-28.