By Karl Radl
The novels of the son of the founder of the Pinkerton detective agency, Allan Pinkerton, are not that well known today, (1) but having read them I found them to be surprisingly refreshing, well-written works with simple plots. In terms of comparison, I would style them to the ‘Lady Molly of Scotland Yard’ novels of Baroness Emma Orczy from the same period.
The best known novels of Pinkerton’s son, A. Frank Pinkerton, are his ‘Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective’ and ‘Jim Cummings’. However, in his work ‘Won by Crime’, Pinkerton demonstrates an interesting antipathy towards the jews.
He describes an old jew named Feeney who is a shopkeeper in Goa, India. We are explicitly told by Pinkerton that Feeney’s jewishness is proclaimed by his ‘hooked nose and piercing eyes’, in addition to his typically jewish profession of being a pawnbroker where he knowingly acts as fence for stolen goods for criminals.
He uses this knowledge of the illegal nature of his transactions with the criminal fraternity of India to drive harder bargains and then sells the fenced goods at approximately ten times what he paid for them. The result of this is that Feeney and his ‘dark-haired and beautiful’ granddaughter, Miriam, are extremely rich.
Interestingly, Pinkerton makes Miriam the heroine of the story, but only after she abandons her jewish ways and become the wife of a Portuguese Christian whom she meets in the course of her adventures in India.
Now, while it is clear that Pinkerton defines jewishness biologically (hence his references to jewish physiognomic characteristics) and believes in so-called ‘anti-Semitic canards’ about jews being heavily involved in the criminal underworld as fences for stolen goods, he also sees the possibility of redemption for the crime of jewishness in the form of personal and religious assimilation into Christian Europe.
As such, we can see the role of the jew in Pinkerton’s thought as being similar to that used by Martin Luther whereby jews are intrinsically an evil people, but they can genuinely change their ways and be saved from oblivion if they are inspired to do so by others.
[Not that any of us seriously believe that shit, but it's a noble idea. -TPSEditor]