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CRIPPEN, Hawley Harvey - YELLON, Evan.

Surdus in Search of his Hearing:

An Exposure of Aural Quacks and a Guide to Genuine Treatments and Remedies, Electrical Aids, Lip-Reading and Employments for the Deaf.

London: The Celtic Press, 1906 Stock Code: 135206
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First edition of this extremely uncommon account of an encounter with Dr Crippen in his guise as homoeopathic doctor ear doctor. Evan Yellon, resident in 1906 at Eton Wick and in 1910 in St Albans, had made it his business to expose quacks who tried to con money from people with deafness or hearing problems with the lure of "cures". Yellon was himself deaf, editor of The Albion Magazine for the Deaf.

Drouet's Institute for the Deaf was a quack institute, supposedly founded by a Dr Drouet in 1888, established at 72 Regent's Park Road. Late 19th-century newspapers carried adverts for this place as well as planted articles praising it: "To cure is more noble than to kill; to save is a grander work than to destroy. The lover of mankind dwells more gladly on the labours of Harvey, Sydenham, Boerhaave, Jenner, Bichat, Pasteur, and Koch than on the triumphs won on the field of Battle. The opening of the Drouet Institute in the North-west of London, as a branch of the great and famous establishment in Paris, brings before the people of England the name of one of these benefactors of the human race" (The Standard).

In the first section of the book Yellon describes a visit to the institute, by this time established at 10 Marble Arch. He describes the secretary's office. "Open upon the desk was a huge ledger, and standing by it was a pile of cards. Just above the ledger a number of labelled bottles were arranged in careless order; while over the fireplace was affixed a great frame containing a selection of letters thanking Drouet's for wondrous - in fact, staggering - "cures." All very artistic!".

Yellon was taken to see Dr Cuppen. "The carpet was fine, really fine, and the chairs were good specimens of modern Chippendale, and upholstered with refined regard to fitness A pair of tapestry curtains hid from my wandering eye a room adjoining that I was seated in".

The curtains were flung aside and a shortish man beckoned him into the consulting room, which "was one better than the secretary's office, and more than one below the waiting room; for that was a really nice drawing room, while by all the signs this was a quack's den." On the desk were several dirty instruments. The man before him was got up in a "fantastic fashion". "His frock-coat was orthodox enough; but he wore with it a shirt of startling hue, adorning the front of which was a "diamond" as big as a marble; and the jaunty butterfly tie vied in hue with the shirt. His patent leather shoes were a trifle cracked, and his face a warning to all observant beholders. The flabby gills, the shifty eyes, and the man's appearance generally, would effectually have prevented me from being taken in, even had all else failed to do so".

The doctor proceeded to examine Yellon's ears with a filthy speculum. "He took altogether not five minutes to make an examination a famous aurist took twenty-five over; and without the least regard for nose and throat." Back in the reception room, Yellon offered a "no cure no payment" deal. Having in the meantime been apparently writing out some bill, the secretary hastened upstairs with Yellon's offer, and on returning wrote "charge you nothing" on the paper with red ink. Marvelling that anyone should be taken in by the "transparent fakery" and smiling at "the secretary's disgusted look when reading my offer to pay by results", Yellon left.

The man behind the Drouet Institute was the fraudster J. H. Nicholson, who was sent to prison in 1902. The French doctor Drouet who lent his name to the enterprise was an obscure practitioner in Paris who died of drink. Henry Labouchere, that fascinating newspaper man and politician, campaigned against the Institute in his weekly journal Truth. In a 1904 libel action Dakhyl v. Labouchere (Surdus 1906 p. 8), a great deal of light was thrown upon the Drouet Institute, Lord Chief Justice Mathew describing it as "a disgraceful institution carried on for unworthy objects by discreditable means."

In the second volume of his enquiry, published in 1910, Yellon revealed that Dr Cuppen had been none other than the murderer, Dr Crippen. He had been London manager of the disreputable Drouet's Institute for the Deaf from 1901 until its bankruptcy in 1908. He then went under the name Franckel, in New Oxford Street in 1908, selling a "Catarrh Tonic", and had used his wife's maiden name, calling himself "Barron sic Mackamotzki". That this was the same person as Cuppen (also Kupfinn) or Crippen, only emerged in 1910 after his arrest (information from the University College London Ear Action Institute & Hearing Loss Libraries website, retrieved 4 Jan 2016).

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Octavo. Original red pictorial cloth.


Numerous illustrations to the text, line-drawings and from photographs.


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