The Edalji Case. Summing Up by Sir A. Conan Doyle

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Edalji Case. Summing Up by Sir A. Conan Doyle is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Daily Telegraph on 26 january 1907.

The Edalji Case

The Daily Telegraph (26 january 1907, p. 11)

Summing Up by Sir A. Conan Doyle.

To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph."

Sir — I am unable now to find any point which have act been already dealt with in my original articles or in the long correspondence which has ensued. I claim that every point has been fairly met, and that as impartial man must do violence to his reason in having any doubts as to the propriety of a public inquiry into all the circumstances of the case.

Council has been somewhat darkened by the multitude of opinions, conjectures, and false statements which have bean made. May I be permitted for the last time to remind your readers of those points of defence, briefly stated, which combine to make up the case :

1. The inherent improbability of a man of Edalji's virtuous, studious, and retiring habits committing them brutal crimes.

2. The proofs that a long conspiracy, extending back for fifteen years, had existed against the Edalji family.

3. The fact that Edalji's evening up to 9.30 is fully accounted for, save for fifty minutes between 8.35 and 9.25. That in this time it was not possible for him to have walked first a mile along the raid and then half a mile each way over difficult country, including the finding of the pony and its mutilation. The evidence of the veterinary surgeon proved the wound to have been indicted in the early morning.

4. The impossibility of Edalji having done it after 9.30. His father, sleeping in the same room, his mother, his sister, and the maid, all agree that no one left the house. There is the strong probability that the house was watched outside, and the certainty that twenty watchers were scattered round. There was heavy rain all night, and every garment must have been soaking wet.

5. The fact that the evidence was nearly all police evidence, open, as I have shown, to the gravest suspicion, and contradicted at every point by reputable witnesses.

6. The fact that the writing expert was shown to have blundered in the Beck case.

7. The physical disability produced by the myopia from which Mr. Edalji suffered.

Those are the main headings which I have previously elaborated, and they are all immensely strengthened by the continuance of the letters and the outrages after Mr. Edalji's arrest, and by the connivance at the flight of Green, who had confessed to a similar offence. This is the case which I present in favour of a miscarriage of justice having occurred. I claim that it is a very strong one, and has in no respect been shaken by subsequent inquiry or debate.

Dealing with point 7, I would say that I would by no means wish that this technical professional point should take undue prominence over all the other considerations which I have alleged. Perhaps, having myself some special ophthalmic knowledge, and having been over the ground, I was inclined to make too much of it, forgetting that others could not appreciate obstacles which they had not seen. To me the idea of a myope of eight dioptres doing in so short a time, upon a pitch-dark night, what I, a fairly active man, did not do so quickly in daylight, is inexpressibly absurd. I have really suffered somewhat by understating my case, for I might well have taken the broader ground that a normal man could not have done it in the time. My argument really was that, à fortiori, a myope could not have done it. Many correspondents have ignored this, however, and, taking for granted that the normal man could have done it, have contented themselves with drawing comparisons between the powers of the normal and myopic eye, and how far deftness of touch can make up for dimness of vision. I am sending in the opinions to the Home Office to-day. The great majority are to the effect that such a crime, with such eyes, under such circumstances, is either "quite impossible" or "highly improbable." Both Sir Anderson Critchett and Mr. Nettleship have favoured me with opinions.

I have now done what I could, drawing largely upon the stores which Mr. Yelverton had ready for me, to present this case to the British public and also to the Home Office. I do not know that more can be done until we hear from the authorities. — Yours faithfully,

Grand Hotel, Jan. 25.