"Let ignominy brand thy hated name;
Let modest matrons at thy mention start;
And blushing virgins, when they read out annals,
Skip o'er the guilty page that holds thy legend
And blots the noble work."
THOMAS JEWETT, of Old Malton, in the North Riding, aged 24 years, was charged with violating the chastity of Elizabeth Stabler, his master's daughter, a child under the age of ten.
The counsel for the prosecution stated, that the prisoner was servant to William Stabler, blacksmith, at Old Malton, and lived in the family as an inmate. On Sunday the 27th of July 1807, Mr. Stabler and his wife went to Castle-Howard, leaving the care of his family to the prisoner. The family consisted of five children, the eldest of which was the child on whom the injury was committed, and who was at that time under the age of nine years. The two eldest boys went to a Sunday school, leaving only this girl, the prisoner, an apprentice-boy, and two young children, under four years of age, in the house. The apprentice-boy was sent out of the way to fetch some water; and in his absence the prisoner committed the unmanly crime for which he now stood at the bar.
We shall briefly state the substance of the evidence in this case, without entering into any details of the testimony of the respective witnesses. As soon as the prisoner had got the apprentice out of the way, he proposed to Elizabeth Stabler to go with him into his lodging-room, and he would give her a glass of gin. The girl acceded to this proposal; and the prisoner gave her a glass of the liquor he had promised her, which she drank; he offered her more, which she refused. The prisoner then placed the child upon his bed, and ruin ensued. The child did not complain of his outrage until the following Wednesday, when upon being interrogated by her mother, she related the whole transaction, and whose evidence as to the situation of her daughter, materially corroborated the child's testimony. On the following day a surgeon was sent for, who examined the child, and whose evidence we cannot further notice than by stating that it placed beyond a doubt the truth of the previous testimony of the girl, and proved the actual perpetration of the crime. The prisoner, when charged by Mr. Stabler with the injury done to his child, at first denied it; but afterwards confessed it, so far as to beg forgiveness; but in a few days thought proper again to deny the charge, which so irritated his master, that he had him apprehended.
Many witnesses were examined on the part of the prisoner, who gave him an exceeding good character, but whose evidence no farther affected the charge against him than by proving that the girl had not been so much injured as to prevent her attending school the following week.
The judge in stating the law to the jury, said, "That the statute which took the benefit of clergy from persons convicted of rapes, had made it a capital offence for any man to have what the law calls carnal knowledge of a female child under the age of ten years; and that without any reference to consent or non-consent of the child. His Lordship then recapitulated the whole of the evidence. The jury, after consulting for a few moments, found the prisoner guilty, but recommended him to mercy on account of his general good character. His Lordship with the most impressive solemnity said, "Gentlemen, I always listen with pleasure to your recommendation, whenever I can do it consistently with my public duty; but I am afraid I should hand over the young and innocent part of the female sex to the lusts of the depraved part of the other sex, if I should in this instance yield to your suggestion; and it will be my painful duty to leave the prisoner to the unmitigated severity of the law." In passing sentence of death, he observed, "that it would be in vain that the law protected female youth and innocence, with the heaviest penalty against those who outraged them, if the ministers of the law had not courage fully to execute it."
The jury who tried him, though by their recommendation they evinced the quality of mercy, which the immortal bard says; "It is not strained, but droppeth like the gentle dew from heaven," yet they did not exercise the necessity of discrimination in the degree of crimes. Of twelve men, who are always empanelled in matters of life and death, several must have been fathers, and all related to some female of tender years;—how then could such men talk of mercy in this world for him who could first betray his trust, and then carnally assault his master's infant daughter. To such a man, we think, death was a mercy.