WE should readily admit that some men are naturally depraved, did we not know the power of habit, whether good or bad; and this should be an inducement to parents to impress upon the minds of their children those principles of moral rectitude, which are generally found to lead the mind from such actions as bring in their train ignominy and disgrace.
We are persuaded that neither of those malefactors, whose case is before us, heard in their youth many useful lessons, or received, before their minds were depraved, much wholesome advice. We allude particularly to Rowell, who seems to have been habitually vicious; but the unhappy woman who shared his ignominious fate appears more imbecile than wicked, more weak than criminal; her conduct was perfectly unaccountable; and, though we must execrate her crime, we can scarcely refrain from pitying her; for she appears to have fallen a victim to the arts of Rowell, working on a weak mind, irritated by the brutal conduct of an unfeeling husband.
At the Lincoln assizes, on the 3d of August, 1813, Azubah Fountain, aged thirty-six, and George Turner Rowell, aged twenty-three, were indicted for the wilful murder of Robert Fountain, the husband of Azubah, by administering four ounces of laudanum in some elderberry-wine; and, thinking this quantity insufficient, a further dose of two ounces was given him in a cup of ale, of which he died.
Rowell, who at the time of the murder was, as we have observed, only twenty-three years of age, was a native of Melton-Mowbray, at which place he bore a very bad character. From 1807 to 1809 he worked, being a cooper, with Mr. Skinner, of Bingham, who frequently told him, when reproving him for his evil practices, 'that he was fearful, when he left his employ, it would be his lot to suffer the vengeance of the laws;' a prediction which was too truly fulfilled, for this vicious and irreclaimable young man was not to be advised.
In 1813 he went to lodge with Robert Fountain at Lincoln, and had not been in the house more than twelve weeks when the act for which he suffered took place, and in which the wife was deeply implicated. Of their guilt there cannot he a doubt; and what makes Rowell doubly culpable is the fact that he was shout to be married to the daughter of his host, having received his consent to that effect a day or two before the murder.
On the ensuing Friday they were both taken to the place of execution near Lincoln, where they were launched into eternity. Rowell persisted to the last in denying that he knew to what purpose the laudanum was to be applied; whilst his partner in guilt continued to assert that they both had frequent conversations on the subject, and that he knew, when he got it, that it was to poison her husband.