The Edalji Case. Letter from the Mother

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Edalji Case. Letter from the Mother is a collection of 15 letters published in The Daily Telegraph on 18 january 1907 including one written by Charlotte Edalji, George Edalji's mother, and one written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Below is reproduced the Conan Doyle's letter only. The Charlotte Edalji's letter is here.

The Edalji Case. Letter from the Mother

The Daily Telegraph (18 january 1907, p. 9)

To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."

Sir — I believe that Mr. Aitchison has now come to the conclusion that it is feasible that Mr George Edalji, by the use of one eye only — that eye having 8 dioptres of myopia, accomplished a nocturnal journey of half a mile each way, which I can guarantee (having myself made it) to be a rough difficult one by day-light.

Mr. Hands, the bootmaker, deposed to seeing Mr. George Edalji at 8.35 in the village. He was again seen at 9.25 near the vicarage gate by an independent witness. There are fifty minutes unaccounted for ; but it is about a mile from the village shop to the spot where the winding track leaves the road for the field. It follows that Edalji could not have had more than thirty-five minutes for his double journey of half a mile each way, to say nothing of finding and mutilating the pony. All this by the according to Mr. Aitchison, of one highly myopic eye. The thing is to my mind perfectly impossible. I have already challenged anyone to cover the ground in the time with glasses which would represent Edalji's sight, but I now add to this a challenge to Mr. Aitchison to do it with his normal sight upon any night when the moon is not full. Let him go to Wyrley, as I did, and try it for himself. When he returns, he will be less dogmatic as to what is possible and what is not.

I am obliged to Mr. Aitchison for pointing out that the baby's eye is not quite the same as the adult's. When I spoke of there being no change in Mr. Edalji's eyes. I meant his adult eyes. There are some things one takes for granted, unless one is talking to a very youthful audience.

Mr. Aitchison offers himself as a referee upon the eye question. I am sure Mr. Edalji and his friends would agree to any test suggested by the Home Office, but they feel that the more eminent the authority the greater would be the public confidence.

One correspondent raises the point, that there may somewhere be a post-box by which a letter can be delayed in such a fashion as to take forty-eight hours to go twenty mile. If there is so strange a thing, it is for the prosecution to prove that it was used. No attempt was ever made to do so. At present their improved assertion is that a young lawyer wrote a post-card to his own offices accusing himself of scandalous offenses, but that he took immense pains, by the use of some unusual country post, to prove that he could not himself have written it. Is it a credible incident?

In the other point raised by the same correspondent the onus of proof again lies with the police. The vicar swears he was with his son all night. The household had heard no one leave. There is good reason to think the house was watched outside. There is certainty that twenty watchers were in the vicinity. Under these circumstances, the alibi holds unless the police can give evidence that anyone saw the accused outside the house. None such has ever been given.

Mr Cook opens the question of who did do these deeds. I think that the time for that discussion has not yet arrived, but I claim that it has already been shown to every man who is capable of reasoning that Mr. George Edalji did not do them, and could not possibly have done them. — Yours truly.