THE summary punishment of a ravisher, by a conscientious Emperor of the Turks, in days of old, if now, perchance, inflicted, might more tend to check the inordinate, unlawful, lust of men, than all the public execution of such destroyers of the peace of females.
Our laws, and certainly wisely too, restrain us from seeking redress at our own hands, except in case of self-defence: but where is the man, witnessing a brutal attack upon his wife or daughter, that would, by a jury of his fellow-men, be convicted of a deadly crime, in searching the heart's blood of their ravisher upon the guilty spot of his atrocity?
Mahmoud, Sultan of Damascus, one night while he was going to bed, was addressed by a poor villager, who complained that a young Turk of distinction had broken into his apartment, and forced him to abandon his wife and family to his abuses. The good sultan charged that, if the Turk returned, he should immediately give him notice of it. Three days after the poor man came again with the same complaint. Mahmoud took a few attendants with him, and, being arrived at the complainant's, commanded the lights to be extinguished, and, rushing in, cut the ravisher to pieces. He then ordered a light, to see whom he had killed, and, being satisfied, he fell on his knees, and returned God thanks; after which be ate heartily of the poor man's bread, and gave him a purse of gold. Being asked the reason of this extraordinary behaviour, he replied, 'I concluded this ravisher was one who might fancy himself entitled to my protection, and consequently might be no other than my son; therefore, lest the tenderness of nature should enervate the arm of justice, I resolved to give it scope in the dark. But, when I saw that it was only an officer of my guards, I joyfully returned God thanks. Then I asked the injured man for food to satisfy my hunger, having had neither sleep nor sustenance from the moment I heard the accusation till I had thus punished the author of the wrong, and showed myself worthy of my people's obedience.'
Princes, nobles, men of fortune --'read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!' The hut of the meanest peasant, by the law of Britain, is sacred as your own gorgeous palaces and castles; and, should you dare to violate his female relative therein, each injured owner may prove a Sultan Mahmoud.
John Whitmore was capitally indicted for a rape on the person of Mary, the wife of Thomas Brown, on the 24th of October, 1810, on the Common between Hayes and West Bedford. The prisoner was a labourer in the powder-mills at Harlington Common; and the prosecutrix, who lives at Hayes, having one of her sons by a former husband living as servant with Mr. Potts, a farmer, at West Bedford, had gone thither about twelve o'clock with some clean linen for her son. She stopped at a public house in the neighbourhood whilst he changed his linen, and there saw the prisoner, who, after asking her several questions, told her she had come much the longest way about, on her way from Hayes, and offered to show her a much shorter cut over the heath on her return. The prosecutrix thanked him, and accepted his offer. He accompanied her as if for that purpose, decoyed her two miles out of her way to an unfrequented part of the heath, amongst some bushes, under pretence of looking after a stray horse, and there brutally violated her person.
The poor woman, who was forty-seven years of age, as soon as she could, ran away from him, over the heath, and again lost her way; by accident she met a gentleman, who put her in the right road, and she reached her home about eight o'clock at night. She was afraid to tell her husband what had occurred till the following Sunday.
The husband next day set out with the constable in search of the prisoner, from the description given by his wife, and on Tuesday traced him to a public house at Twickenham, where he was known by the familiar appellation of 'Old Dasher;' and there, after a stout resistance, he was taken into custody. The facts were, on his trial, which took place at the Old Bailey, in October, 1810, clearly established by the poor woman, who evinced through the whole of her evidence traits of modesty and chastity of mind that would have reflected honour upon any character.
The prisoner, by the questions be asked her in making his defence, attempted to impeach her as consenting to his brutal purpose, and thereby only aggravated his crime.
The common-sergeant summed up the evidence for the jury; who, after a minute's consideration, found the prisoner Guilty -- Death. The fate of this malefactor received no commiseration.