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But what has Mr. Marks done? He has thrown before Dr. Frey berger a bundle of evidence good and bad, of information accurate and inaccurate, and has left him to form an opinion on the whole, without, so far as appears, telling him that it was not all of equal authority. Dr. Freyberger has thus been led to pronounce an opinion, partly professional and partly historical, in which occur statements on matters of fact that are open to the gravest doubt. We find him (p. 113) stating that the night before his disappearance Godfrey burned his papers : as we have already seen, this story came at second-hand even to L'Estrange, from whom we have it in a deposition taken in 1686. He states categorically (p. 112), “Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was hereditarily tainted. His grandfather had suffered from melancholia. His father ... tried to commit suicide.' The evidence for this has been examined above and shown to be unreliable, and it is on this and similar evidence that Dr. Freyberger concludes Godfrey to have been insane. Mr. Marks states (p. 91), 'Godfrey's sword was, no doubt, the sword ordinarily worn by gentleinen at the time, quite flat and pointed sharply at the end,' and this is reproduced by Dr. Freyberger (p. 111) with the addition 'with blunt edges along the rest of the blade. Mr. Marks's information is inaccurate. So far from there being no doubt' on the subject, we are wholly without means of knowing what kind of sword Godfrey wore.

For all we can tell, he may have worn his father's or his grandfather's. In the history of the sword the latter half of the 17th century is a transitional period, and many different types of blade were in use. Godfrey's may have been a common cut-and-thrust rapier, a flamberge, transitional rapier, grooved, pierced, plain, or diamondshaped. But if it was a blade of the type in most general use, it was then not what Mr. Marks describes, but a triangular fluted blade of what is known as bayonet-shaped section, rather heavy, and tapered evenly from the hilt down to the point. This blade came into England from France after the Restoration, and preceded the colichemarde, invented about 1680, which became a regular type in the 18th century 1. Thus Dr. Freyberger's remarks on the probable shape of the wound are based on a misconception of the facts. These are a few instances of the faultiness of the method adopted; but the greatest objection to it is that we are unable to tell how far such bad evidence and incorrect statements of fact may have influenced Dr. Freyberger's mind in forming an opinion on the surgical questions submitted to him under cover of them.

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· Egerton Castle, Schools and Masters of Fence, 1892, 33 1-6. See Plates ii, 5, 6, 7; iii, 13, 14; V, 1, 2, 3, 5. See also Captain Hutton, The Sword and the Centuries, 185. R. C. Clephan, Defensive Armour, 170, 174.

When Godfrey's body was found, three main facts were noticed, His body was transfixed by his sword, which had been driven through it under the left pap, so that the point protruded two hand-fulls’ from the back; there was no blood on his clothes or in the bottom of the ditch, which was dry'; and on his neck a strange mark was indented. Five surgeons and two apothecaries saw the body, and on their evidence as to these facts the verdict was based that Godfrey had been strangled and thrust through with his sword only after death. It must be remembered that, though pathological science was at the time in its infancy, doctors undoubtedly had a large practical experience of sword wounds. L'Estrange and the authors of the letters to Prance maintained that the case was one of suicide, that Godfrey had planted the hilt of his sword in the bank across the ditch and fallen forward on to it, that the absence of blood (when the attempt to prove its presence had failed) was perfectly natural, and that the mark on Godfrey's neck was caused by the pressure of his collar after death. Though L'Estrange did not suggest it, there was one other way in which Godfrey might have stabbed himself. If he wore a short sword, he might, being a tall man, have held it by the hilt and driven it into his body; then, as he died, he might have fallen forward into the ditch. It would have been difficult, but possible.

The technical questions, therefore, for a modern expert are, whether a man could so stab himself with the results noted, whether if he fell on to his sword the absence of external haemorrhage would be natural, and whether the mark recorded on the neck could be caused as suggested by L'Estrange. When working on the case I combined the first two of these questions and submitted the point in general terms to Mr. W. M. Fletcher, M.D., Fellow and Lecturer of Trinity College, Cambridge, and since Senior University Demonstrator in Physiology. His opinion 2 being decidedly in the negative, it was not necessary to obtain advice as to the third. Dr. Freyberger does not appear to have examined the first question. His opinion as to the second is that, if the sword he describes were used, external haemorrhage need not have resulted. As to the third he says (pp. 110, 111): The mark encircling the neck ... was produced by the high collar which the deceased wore at the time of his death,' by the process of post


Nor, clearly, on the hilt of the sword; for, though this is nowhere stated, great efforts were afterwards made to prove the presence of blood, and had there been a trace of it on the hilt it could not have escaped attention. When the sword was withdrawn there was an effusion of blood and serum from the wound in the back : otherwise the clothes at the back were unstained. On the breast and the clothes in front there was no mark at all.

2 Printed at pp. 100, 101 n. in The Popish Plot.

mortem hypostasis. It will be remarked that, as Dr. Freyberger's

' information concerning the sword was incorrect, and as the evidence concerning the high collar 'is of the slightest, we should have every right to ask him to reconsider his opinion, formed, as it is, not on a careful hypothesis laid before him but on his own interpretation of particular evidence. He also says (p. 109), assuming the presence of rigor mortis in Godfrey's body, that it would have been impossible to arrange the body as it was found some considerable tiine after death. It is in fact doubtful whether and to what extent traces of rigor mortis were found in the body.

In view of this opinion I have thought it proper to obtain fresh advice on the technical points involved, and I have been most fortunate in being able to consult so eminent an authority as Mr. Warrington Haward, F.R.C.S., Consulting Surgeon to St. George's Hospital, Hunterian Professor of Surgery and Pathology in the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and President of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society. I have submitted for Mr. Haward's consideration the five questions printed below, and by his kind permission now publish his answers. It is needless to say more than that his position and experience give decisive weight to his opinion on such matters.

Question 1. In your opinion, could a man, holding the pommel of his sword in his two hands and placing the point against his chest, exert enough force upon it to drive the sword through his heart and through his body, so that the point projected six or eight inches beyond his back ?


Question 2. If a man, in order to commit suicide, placed the pommel of his sword against or fixed it in a bank on the opposite side of a ditch from himself and flung himself forward upon it, transfixing himself with it, could he, in your opinion, having regard to the resistance offered by the bank to the hilt of the sword, fall into the ditch with the sword in his body without cutting or tearing open the orifice of the wound so as to cause considerable external haemorrhage?


Question 3. In your opinion, could the marks on a dead man's neck_described as follows-'Below the left ear was a contused swelling, as if a hard knot had been tied underneath. Round the neck was a mark indented in the flesh, merging above and below into thick purple creases. The mark was not visible until the collar had been unbuttoned ?? -- be produced by a cloth collar worn

· Popish Plot, 98. Evidence of Chase and Lazinby, 8 St. Tr. 1381-4.

by the man, by the action of post-mortem bypostasis, the head being found in a downward position ?

Answer-No. This mark certainly could not have been caused by the cloth collar, but is precisely what would be caused by a kerchief or cord tied tightly round the neck.

Question 4. Would such marks properly be attributed to the man having been strangled with a cloth, cord, or handerchief?

Answer— Yes.

Question 5. Would the presence of rigor mortis in the arms and legs prevent the disposal of a corpse in a ditch, with the head downwards and with the left hand under the head, owing to difficulty in flexing the limbs ?

Answer-No. If time were available, the body could certainly be thus arranged.

Mr. Fletcher also, learning from me that his opinion was thus traversed in Mr. Marks's book, has been kind enough to obtain other opinion on the subject. He has submitted to Professor Howard Marsh, F.R.C.S., Professor of Surgery in Cambridge University, Consulting Surgeon to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, &c., three questions, which, with Professor Marsh's answers, I have leave to print.

Question 1. Could a man with his own hands transfix his own body with a sword and in such a way that the sword-point should pierce the thorax, pass through the heart, and project some inches beyond the external skin wound in the back ?

Answer—I do not regard this as a possibility.

Question 2. Supposing suicide to have been committed in this manner, and a man to have fallen dead in a ditch after such selftransfixion of his own heart and body, is it possible, in your opinion, that there shall be no external haemorrhage from either of the two skin wounds, front and back?

Answer—This, I believe, is not possible.

Question 3. Supposing a man to have effected self-transfixion of his heart and body by flinging himself upon a sword-point whilst the sword-hilt rested on the ground or against a bank, and supposing him to have done this on or near the bank of a ditch so as to have fallen dead into the ditch, still transfixed by the sword, is it possible, in your opinion, that there should be no external haemorrhage from either of the skin wounds, front and back, having regard to the chances of a bending or twisting of the sword in the act of transfixion or in the subsequent falling of the body and the consequent enlargement of one or both of the wound orifices?

Answer-I believe it is not possible.


Mr. Fletcher further writes to me himself: 'I see no reason to alter my original opinion, as quoted by you. Certainly a stiff body can be “arranged ” in any attitude, and this would become easier as time passed, after the first hours from death.' Mr. Fletcher's questions cover only the ground of the original opinion he gave me, and therefore do not touch the condition of the neck; but his Question 3 covers the case of the sword having been rested on the near side of the ditch, which may be considered a bare possibility, though exceedingly remote. On these points Professor Marsh's opinion entirely confirms that of Mr. Haward : and Mr. Haward's opinion on my Question 5 is confirmed by that of Mr. Fletcher, who speaks on the point with perfect competence.

It will be seen that each question submitted for opinion is framed on a distinct hypothesis couched in general terms, so that the answer would be the same even though Godfrey had never been killed and had never been born, a method which precludes what are known as leading questions from being put directly or indirectly without immediate detection. It will also be seen that, when the opinions of Mr. Haward and Professor Marsh, to whom, as well as to Mr. Fletcher, my best thanks are due, are applied to Godfrey's case, they amount to proof that he did not commit suicide, but was murdered. According to the opinion of these distinguished surgeons we find that, Godfrey's body being discovered in the circumstances and with the marks on it above mentioned, he could not have stabbed himself, he could not have fallen forward on to his sword, he was strangled, and there was nothing to prevent his corpse from being placed in the ditch in the position recorded. It is therefore certain that he was murdered by being strangled, that he was transfixed by his sword after death, and that his corpse was laid where it was found in order to simulate the appearance of suicide. The reader who has followed me to this point has witnessed the delivery of the coup de gráce to a theory held by various writers at intervals for upwards of two

hundred years.

Lastly, we come to the principle of the lock and the key, enunciated by the late Dr. Gardiner in his book What Gunpowder Plot Was.' In dealing with a problem of evidence, said Gardiner, you should try one hypothesis after another until you find the one that fits the facts as the right key fits the lock: 'only when all imaginable keys have failed have you a right to call the public to witness your incompetence to solve the riddle.' The same principle is expressed conversely in the words : The force and effect of circumstantial evidence depend upon its incompatibility with, and incapability of, explanation or solution upon any other

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