Tumblety’s Spiel

A scene from an ongoing project of mine. A script about the infamous and illustrious career of Herbal Medicine Doctor and American Jack the Ripper suspect: Francis Tumblety.  So far, it is over a year in the making and I am pleased to say I have penned the first song. Yeah, it’s a musical.



FRANCIS TUMBLETY works the crowd as an Herbal Doctor, peddling his medicine. He strikes an imposing figure. Standing slightly over 6 feet, he is a head above the rest of the crowd, as they wave money and fight for his attention. Dressed in the most up to date fashion, he is clearly a man of means. Behind him is his equally amazing white stallion. What is most impressive about the well-spoken and charismatic gentleman is his mustache, dyed black to match his hair, it sweeps grandiosely off his upper lip. In fact, the only thing that can distract his clientele from doling out their hard earned money is the whorehouse across the street. With the utmost confidence and a cunning twist of his magnificent mustache he goes into his spiel.

Francis Tumblety unfurls his medical kit and holds it up for all to see and purposefully clears his throat.

The crowd is silenced.

Consumption, diphtheria, and cholera
whooping cough and scrofula
meningitis leprosy
no matter what ails you, whatever it be,
I will rid you of your malady.

Catalepsy, Effluvia, Pleurisy, Neuralgia,
Tetanus and Typhus, Grippe and Trush
Malaria and “Phossy jaw”
A case of Dropsy and even the chills,
My tonics here can cure ALL ills.

This is the edge in Allopathy.
And there is no need for surgery.
For I am a walking apothecary.
And if you have the decency…
Come see the Good Doctor Tumblety!

HECKLER calls out from the crowd

FRANCIS TUMBLETY doesn’t skip a beat and takes a flamboyant bow.
PRINCE of Quacks!!

He elicits and cheer from the crowd.


I’ve got tinctures and tonics, powders and pills!
Come on now and call out your ills!

Consumption, diphtheria, and cholera
whooping cough and scrofula
meningitis, leprosy
no matter what ails us, whatever it be

I shall rid you of your malady!

Catalepsy Effluvia, Pleurisy, Neuralgia,
Tetanus and Typhus, Grippe and Trush
Quincy and flux.
Malaria, “Phossy jaw”
A case of Dropsy and even the chills…

I’ll give you the vials when you hand me the bills.


He makes a big show of collecting the forms of payment from his clientele while passing out the medicine.

Whooping cough and scrofula!
Malaria and phossy jaw!


He shushes the chorus. In the brief moment of silence, Dr. Tumblety points to the gloomy whorehouse across the street.

From the wallowing whore knee deep in sleaze
to the all the trappings of highest society
Hell, I’ve even treated royalty.
You must see me before its too late,
better not hesitate for I will not discriminate!
I don’t need to beat my drum or even toot my own fife,
For I’m the Good Doctor you trust with your life!……

A Prostitute greets a John across the street. Side by side they  walk  inside.

Francis Tumblety’s face dawns in sudden horrid recognition. His eyes grow as dark as storm clouds.




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