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tion, or that her father himself, from the state of her person, had not made some inquiries. It was not till it was impossible longer to conceal the business, that her father was found in company with his two daughters before the Rev. Mr. Hooper, a most respectable magistrate in the neighbourhood, preferring the charge against Mr. Harris. On that occasion Miss Susannah Woodward made the deposition which she afterwards gave on the trial; and her sister Sarah corroborated her testimony by the following statement:-"On Tuesday the 18th of October last, I was alone in the house; I heard the voice of my Sister Susannah calling out Sally!' as if in very great distress, from the garden. I immediately ran into the garden, and there saw my sister on the ground, and a young man, named James Harris, a saddler, of Harrold, holding her down upon the ground, with a knife in his hand close to her throat. I immediately cried out 'Murder!' and then Harris jumped up, and putting the knife close to my throat, said, if I cried out, he would run the knife into my throat. I said, if he would remove the knife, I would be silent. Harris then left the garden, after saying, 'that if I told my father, he, or some one else, would kill me or my sister." Upon these informations, Mr. Hooper granted his warrant for apprehending Harris. He was taken into custody; but, after protesting most solemn ly his innocence of the crime imputed to him, was committed for trial. On that trial, however, as he had already stated, he was acquitted in the most honourable manner. In this view of the case
it must be taken, that the charge of violation was altogether false. So it had been pronounced by a most respectable jury; and no man would have the hardihood to say after this, that the charge by Susannah was not foul and malicious. Thus, if the charge of violation was false, he apprehended no doubt could exist, that Sarah, who had sworn that she was present when it was committed, joined with her sister in the fabrication of a gross falsehood, and thus became a party to the conspiracy against the present prosecutor. The two sisters being clearly implicated in the transaction, the next question for him to consider was, how the father became affected. In establishing the guilt of the father, he was persuaded, he should have as little difficulty as with the daughters. He would ask, in the first place, whether it was within the scope of possibility, that a father, a man of sense and discrimination, could live in the same house with his daughter during eight months of her preg nancy, without discovering her situation? But, independent of this, when his daughter told him the story, which she afterwards swore to before a magistrate, could he believe it? But this was not all, for he would be found before the magistrate, as if to confirm his guilt more strongly, setting his daughter right as to the particular state of the night on which the violation was alleged to have taken place. When Mr. Hooper asked "what sort of a night it was?" Susannah said, "It was a dark night;" upon which the father stepped up, and placing his har on his daughter's shoulder,
Wm. Rogers, a constable, proved that he apprehended James Harris, in consequence of the warrant granted by the former witness, and conveyed him before Mr. Hooper. Recollected Mr. Hooper asking Miss Susannah how she came to recollect the particular night on which the violence was committed. She said she knew it, because it was the night after the gipsey row. [There had been some quarrel in the village with the gipsies.] Mr. Hooper then asked her, what sort of night it was she said it was a dark night: upon which her father stepped up
to her, and said, "No, my dear, it was not a dark night; it was a bright moon-light night." Witness took James Harris to Bedford gaol the same day. He utterly denied ever having had any connexion with Miss Woodward.
Mr. Marshall Eyles was present at the examination of the Miss Woodwards before Mr. Hooper. He heard Mr. Hooper ask Susannah whether it was a dark or a light night when the assault was committed? She said it was a dark night; but her father stepped forward and said, "No, my dear, you mistake: it was a light night."-Mr. Woodward spoke in an audible tone.
Mr. John Garrard, solicitor for Mr. Harris, said he was present at the last spring assizes, when Mr. Harris was tried on the indictment for the violation: he heard Miss Susannah Woodward give her evidence, and took a note of what she said. Witness then read his notes, which in substance accorded with the deposition given by Susannah before Mr. Hooper, except that the particulars of the assault were more minutely detailed.
James Harris examined. — I live at Harrold, and am 22 years of age. I am a saddler by trade. I know the three defendants perfectly well. I never had criminal intercourse with Sarah Woodward in my life. I went to school to her father for about a year. I was then between 13 and 14 years of age. I had no acquaintance with Mr. Woodward, except going to school to him. I had no acquaintance whatever with his daughters. I did not assault Miss Susannah on the night mentioned in July, nor on any subsequent
night. I spent the whole of the evening of the 18th of October with a Mrs. Reynolds and a Mr. Northern.
In cross-examination by Mr. Hunt, witness admitted that he occasionally went to fetch the newspaper from Mr. Woodward's house, and to take it back, but he did not see either of the young ladies there. He did not visit at Mr. Woodward's. He could play the flute. Once was invited to play the flute at Mr. Woodward's, when there was a party there. He did not see the young ladies there that evening; he was in another room, and when Mr. Woodward rapped at the door he played. He paid his addresses to Mr. Woodward's servant-girl. Admitted that he, on one occasion, accompanied Miss Susannah on the road towards Olney. She was on a pony; but being afraid to ride he took the pony back to Harrold, and she went on to Olney in a chaise.
Ann Robinson remembered having seen Susannah Woodward for a long time before her preg. nancy was publicly known. She appeared ill, and wore a large cloak. She saw her soon after James Harris was sent to prison. She then perceived she was in a family way very plainly. Her sister used to say she wore the cloak to keep out the fever. Her size was such, that no person could live with her and not see that she was pregnant.
Mr. Sergeant Blossett was about to call further evidence, but the learned judge conceived he had already submitted sufficient to support his case.
Mr. Sergeant Blossett said, he was prepared with witnesses who
would prove a clear alibi on the part of his client.
Mr. Hunt now addressed the court and jury on the part of the defendants. The indictment in this case had been prepared ever since last spring assizes, and had been laid before the grand jury as soon as ever James Harris, who was described as having been so much injured, was acquitted. He begged to state to the jury, that this acquittal had taken place, not from any direct discredit attached to the evidence of the prosecutrix, but upon a rule of law for as soon as ever Susannah Woodward had gone through her testimony, Mr. Sergeant Blossett got up and told the jury, that by a rule of evidence, which had been made a rule of law, the prisoner must be acquitted. The prosecutrix, he said, had concealed the fact of the violation of her person for eight months, and this concealment, by law, prevented the conviction of the person accused. It would be observed, from the course of cross-examination which he took, that he was anxious to see whether any attempt would be made to cast any reflection on the character of this young lady; and that, in no single instance, however minute, had any thing like levity or impropriety of conduct been attributed to her. The jury had, no doubt, watched with becoming attention the manner in which Harris had on this day given his testimony. They must have observed the boldness with which he, in the first instance, denied any acquaintance with Mr. Woodward or his daughters, after he quitted school; but upon being pressed, he admitted that he had
gone to the house to play the Hlute, and went there frequently for the newspaper: and, upon being still closer pushed, he allowed that he had once accompanied Miss Susannah towards Olney. How much oftener these meetings took place it was not his interest to confess. He was at a loss to know by what means Mr. Robert Woodward, the father, could be made a party to their crime. Had the character of that gentleman been impeached in the slightest degree? Had the breath of calumny in the most minute instance affected his moral conduct? Certainly not. Then what were the grounds upon which his guilt were supposed to rest? Why, forsooth, that his daughter could not have been 8 months pregnant in his house without his knowledge. Good God! Could any thing be more absurd than this? Was a father, who had brought up his children in the strictest paths of virtue, to be watching them with suspicion, and to be viewing them as common prostitutes? Could any parent, who loved and confided in his offspring, harbour a suspicion so foul as that they would prostitute their persons in the way in which they must have done to have produced the appearance described? Of all men living, a father, in his belief, was the last man who would have made such a discovery. What was Mr.Woodward's conduct when he did find out what had happened? Did he not immediately carry his daughters before a magistrate? What else could he have done to show his indignation? And then comes the last ground upon which suspicion could be attached to him.
It was said, that when before the magistrate he prompted his daughter as to the kind of night on which the violation had been committed. Why, could any thing have been more natural ? The unfortunate girl, in the agony of her mind, returned an answer different to that which she had before given him; and in the anxiety of a parent, alive to every circumstance which she could relate, Mr. Woodward set her right, openly, and in the hearing of every person. Was here any thing like secret concert?
Mr. Baron Graham observed, that the jury had to decide whether the three defendants, two, or any of them, had been guilty of the offence imputed to them. In order to commit the crime of conspiracy, two must necessarily have been concerned; therefore, in this case, the jury must either find two guilty, or acquit the defendants altogether. The learned judge then read over the whole of the evidence. From this evidence, he observed, it was clear that the father must have known that his daughter was in a state of pregnancy. In the first place it appears, that not a syllable of this charge came to the knowledge of James Harris till seven or eight months after the fact was alleged to have taken place; and then what was done? The charge is preferred, the prosecutrix is examined, and upon coming into a court of justice finds no credit. Now it is said, not with the strictest and most perfect correctness, that the prisoner was acquitted upon a point of law, and not upon the merits of the case. This, I am satisfied, is not true; the fact
is, that the improbability of the charge was the true ground upon which the acquittal took place; and certainly nothing could wear more the face of improbability than that, if the crime alleged had been committed, it would have been kept secret from the month of October to the June following; but it becomes still more improbable, when the situation of the parties is considered: the one a young woman of education and modesty, and the other a young man living in the same parish. Can any one believe, that the daughter of a clergyman could have been so ignorant of the state of society as not to know, that she would have been sufficiently protected from the violence with which she said she was threatened; or that she would, after having been so atrociously abused, under any feelings of terror, have lost a moment in proclaiming her disgrace, and asking for vengeance on her violater? but still less likely is it that she would have concealed a disgrace to which her own sister had been an eye-witness. These, I apprehend, were the grounds on which the acquittal took place, and not, as has been stated, on a mere rule of law. If the young woman had been treated with the violence she has described, she must and would have told her parent. That she was with child is a matter beyond doubt, and it might, by possibility, happen that this young man was the father of that child; but the violation must be put altogether out of the question. Even this surmise, which have made for the benefit of the young woman, is set aside by the oath of the young
man himself, who swears most positively that he never had any connexion with her whatever ; and that his evidence is at all deserving of discredit, I can in no respect discover. He is a respectable young man, and has given his testimony in a very unquestionable manner. I protest I was most anxious and desirous, for the sake of this unfortunate family, that something might occur which would lessen the enormity of their guilt. The natural compassion of one's feelings in seeing a man of education, and in holy orders, work up his mind to an offence for which there is no pa liation, without using a harsher observation, led me to hope some circumstance might arise to lessen the enormity of his guilt. It is with pain, however, that I am driven to say no such circumstance has transpired. What could be the motives for concealing the real father, and fixing it on an innocent man, is beyond our ability to discover? If the charge of violation against James Harris is false, the next question for our consideration is, did the defendants agree to bring forward the charge, knowing it to be false? respect to the young women, as they both swore to being present when the fact took place, no doubt of their guilt can exist. As to the father, perhaps the evidence is not so conclusive. In the defect of the evidence against the father, you have nothing but the general circumstances of the case, and the palpable falseness of the charge. You will consider whether the natural sagacity of a man of good education could really have persuaded him to give credit to so