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The proof of the offence necessarily depends on the evidence of the complaining pårty : it is very rare that any other evidence can be obtained, farther than to prove that the parties were together at the place where the offence was alleged to have been conmitted. Thus, any bad-principled woman, from vindictiveness, desire to extort money, or some other cause, may obtain a conviction against an innocent man; it would be only necessary that he should have been alone with her at any time, and she may swear to the fact without any fear of contradiction; and the diftculty of proving the capital offence would here vanish; for such a woman could as easily swear to the fact of emission, as to that of forcible connection. Sometimes, the connection may actually take place, and yet not be such as to deserve punishment : the female may entice a man to the act, in order to charge him with it as a crime afterwards: she may even make a show of resistance, and yet entice; she may say no but motion yes. . Consequently, the character of the complaining party ought to be strictly attended to: and though it is but right to protect even the common prostitute from abuse, yet, I think, that the punishment ought to be in proportion to the character of the party injured. The most severe punishment ought to fall on those who violate children; but under the present system (excepting the child be under ten years of age, in which case the attempt is punishable by death) they can only be tried for the minor offence, the as. sault with intent, &c., as a child cannot prove the point required on the capital charge. The sitnation in which the crime is said to have been committed, ought likewise to receive partieular attention. Moses seems to have paid-attention to the situation in his punishments for this crime: « If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die ; the darasel because she crieD NOT being in the city, and the man because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her and lie with her; then the man only that lay with her shall die: but unto the damsel thou shall do nothing ; for as “when a man riseth against his neighbour and slayeth him, even so is this matter.' (Deut. c. xxii. v. 23.) I will not say but that a rapè may
take place in a city; but I should be very careful of giving a verdict for an offence of the kind committed within the hearing of other persons.
There is one more point, Sir, to which I shall call your attention; namely, the evidence of medical men respecting defloration. It is generally but erroneously supposed, that there are certain signs by which virginity may be known; and that these signs are wanting only with those who have had connection with
It is supposed, that there exists in all'virgins a part called
the hymen, which is ruptured during the first coition. We find that the aotion prevailed among the Jews in the time of Moses, or whoever wrote the Jewish laws: “ If any, man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and briug up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and, when I came to her, I found her not a maid : Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate; and the dansel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity; and they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.” If the tokens were not found, the poor damsel was to be put to death; rather severe lāws, but easily escaped, as it was not a difficult thing to forge the tokens.
Aristotle supports the same notion, but says, that other causes, besides actual copulation, may rupture the hymen. Still be states it as certain, that such a rupture must be effected by the first act of coition, if it had not taken place before; and that the existence of a perfect hymen was a sure sign of virginity. The same has been the opinion of many other physiologists. Haller says, Attamen prima venus debet esse cruenta. Modern physiologists, aided by anatomy, have exploded this ancient notion, Richerand says
“ The external orifice of the vagina, in women who have had no connection with men, iş, furnished with a membranous fold, varying in breadth, generally semicircular, and called hymen. Its existence is considered by many as the most certain sign of yirginity.. But all the marks by which it has been attempted to obtain a certainty of the presence of virginity are very equivocal. The relaxed state of the parts, from a quantity of mucus in a woman subject to the fluor albus, or from the blood of the menstrual discharge, may make the hymen yield and not rupture, so that a woman might seem a virgin without being suel; while another woman who has not lost ber virginity, might, from illness, have her hymen destroyed. There are, in the last place, persons i
in whom the hymen is so indistinct, that several anatomists have doubted its existence,”_ Blumenbach , and other modern physiologists have followed on the same side of the question.
Such being the uncertainty of the case, it is absurd to call-in the aid of medical men. Some of them, partaking of the common prejudices, may attempt to prove a defloration from appear. ances : but the more intelligent of their body, will not speak on the matter, excepting in cases where great bodily injury has been sustained. A medical gentleman told me, that, during his practice, he had been twice called in to examine females, one eleven
the other twelve years of age, who had made charges against men for defloration; and that he could not venture to speak to the fact in either case, although both of the offenders afterwards acknowledged the crime. The parts may sometimes appear inflamed, but that ought not to be a criterion, as it might have proceeded from other causes. The above is a common prejudice, but ought to be removed, at least, onght not to be encouraged and supported in our Courts of Justice. It is often productive of unhappiness in the married life, of which you, Sir, may be aware of an instance, if report speak true of the cause that prevented your Royal master's second bedding with his Royal wife,
Thus, Sir, I have put together a few arguments against the present system of treating the crime of rape, which, I trust, will receivė your attention. I have shown, that the punishment is too severe ; that the required proof is such as can be seldom or never obtained; that unnecessary cruelty is exercised toward the already injured party; and that a verdict is more likely to be obtained against an innocent man than against one really guilty. Should my showings fail to carry conviction, I trust that others more competent will bring the case before the public. That our Criminal Code is defective on this matter, must be evident to every observer, I am, Sir, respectfully, &c.
Postscript by the Editor.—Here is a case in point which illustrates the letter of R. H.; here we find a case where the most brutal violence was practised, and because that which the law calls the capital offence, but which, in reference to the treatment of this girl, I must call the minor offence, was not completed, the ruffian escapes with an imprisonment of two years; a moderate imprisonment in the eyes of a blasphemer of religion. Ought not such a ruffian as this Samuel Gilbert to have been hanged? I think so.
His conduct was worse than a murder, It comprised the greatest injury that could be inflicted on one human being by another. Two years imprisonment! To me it appears a joke. Hard and profitable labour for life, with the profit applied to the use of the girl, was the slightest punishment that should have been passed upon him. The subject is a delicate one, or it would have been discussed before; but it is high time that ideas of delicacy should cease to keep such imperfections on our statute books. Our ancestors were not wise on this head.
BRUTAL ASSAULT. WELLS, AUGUST 11. SAMUEL GILBERT, a robust looking fellow, aged 18, was indicted for ass saulting Charlotte Smith. with intent to ravish her. The principal of the case was established by the evidence of Charlotte Smith, the prosecu.
trix, a young woman of a slight, genteel appearance, who described herself to be 23 years of age; and the circumstances showed one of the most heroic instances of resistance by a woman in defence of her bonour that has ever been recorded. Her father was a clothier residing near Frome. On the 26th of November last she went to the fair at that place, in order 10 induce her younger brotbers to come home. In her way home, at about nine o'clock, she was overtaken by the prisoner, who asked her to walk in his direction, and call and see an aunt of his. She, believing he meant no harm, agreed to do so. When they arrived at au unfrequented part of the road, he began to take liberties with her, at which she expressed her resentment, and asked if he knew who she was. He said, “ Yes; she was Mr. Smith's daughter, but he cared not a d- who she was.” He threw her down; she screamed out. He took her by the throat, and stopped her almost even to choking. A man named Chilcot passed by, and called out “ Holloa! Why, you villain, you have got a woman there; are you going to murder her?” The prisoner said, “D-n you, you had better go ofi, or I'll mutder you;” and he again threw the prosecutrix down, who during the conversation had got up. Chilcot on ibis aimed a blow at the prisoner with his stick. The prisoner got up and turned upon him with great ferocity. The poor girl clung round Chilcot, imploring him to protect her. He, it seems, was terrified at the prisoner's strength and violence, and would not let her hold him. She found that this man wanted either strength or firmness to protect her; and slie ran away. In her agitation she ran the wrong way, and when she had run about a mile she was overtaken by the prisoner, who took her in his arms threw her over the gate, dragged her along a piece of waste ground, threw her down, and endeavoured to accomplish bis purpose. She resisted him with so much effect, that from disappointment and rage, he beat her dreadfully, in the hope that to preserve her life she would yield. He struck her with both his fists on the eyes, so that she said they appeared to flash fire. He knelt
aud trampled npon her, swearing that he would effect his purpose. Her face streamed with blood; she took some of it in ber hand, and showing to hiin (it being moonlight) asked him, “ How he could have the heart to treat her so?” He cursed her in the most brutal language; dragged her to the side of the adjoining river, and swore he would throw her in. She inplored his mercy. Ile pulled her to a part of the ground where there was deep dirty water, almost mud; and throwing her down again, lield her head uuder water until she was nearly suffocated. This barbarous conduct continued for several hours, until half-past two in the morning; she steadily persevering in her resistance whenever he endeavoured to effect his object. She at lengih heard a dog bark; and, iu order to intimidate the prisoner, she called out“ God be praised! here is my father.” This had the desired effect, and he left ber. She went to her bed, which she kept for nearly three weeks, for the first two or three days of which she was entirely blind.
Chilcot, who had partially endeavoured to assist her, corroborated her testimony as to what had passed within his kuowledge. Her brother and father proved the state in which she was when she came home. She was covered with mud; was without shoes; her bonnet was crushed, and her clothes torn ro rags aud strips.
Mr. Bush, a surgeon, who attended the girl, said she was dreadfully bruised all over: and her person showed marks of great violence. There were deep scratches (appareatly by a person's nails) below her stomach.
The prisouer called no witnesses; and the Jury returned 'a verdict of Guilty:' He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and hard labour.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE REPUBLICAN.
R. H. says,
Tollington Park, Aug. 20, 1826. On reading an article on the poor laws, signed “ R. H." in No. 4, vol. 14, of “ The Republican." It struck me that the writer, able and intelligent as he certainly is, has something yet to learn on that part of his subject, where he takes the land and the
progress of a new community under consideration,
I shall 'not attempt to make a general reply: my object, in taking up the pen, is not to refute an opponent, but to lay down such principles, and to propose such arrangements in political economy that shall render not only poor laws, but poor rates, and even charitable institutions unnecessary for ever.
“ We oftep hear men prating about an equal division of land, on the supposition that every man has an equal claim to it. If a number of men were to go out from this or any other country to take possession of an uninhabited island, this claim would be just; but in an old established community, it is not so." Now, as to rights, titles, claims, and possessions of land, I must refer R. H. to No. 13, vol. 10, of " The Republican;" There he will find, under the title AGRARIAN EQUALITY, every thing that is necessary to be known on that very interesting subject. 6s Let us follow up," continues R. H., “ the
progress of our supposed community, and we shall find, that it leads to the same state of things, the same monopoly of the good things in the hands of a few persons, as at present exists. When some of the estates became so divided, that one portion would not produce the means of subsistence, it is a natural consequence, that some will sell their shares to those who can supply, their immediate wants. Now those shares can only be purchased by those who have before more than a sufficiency for their own cultivation. The men who thus sell their birth-right have no more claim on the land,” &c.
Very true! but would their children have no claim on the land? This is a shocking way of beginning and legislating for a new community. If the land of an uninhabited island were to be divided among a number of men, who should take possession
· Rather a large saying, unless Allen Davenport includes the notes on bis “ Agrarian Equality."—R. C.