The man who has no self-respect, or principles of honour, is seldom virtuous; and, though reason may conduce to good conduct, yet ninety-nine men out of every hundred are influenced by feeling only; and, happily for society, the general feeling of mankind is on the side of virtue and morality.
In the case before us we have a deplorable instance of the bad consequences which uniformly proceed from conduct in opposition to what the world approves. Jesson married a woman with an illegitimate child, the daughter of a wealthy seducer, at her breast; and, though he promised to protect, and apparently did caress the infant, yet he privately hated and detested the innocent cause of his anger; for he was aware of the circumstances attending its birth and filiation before he married its imprudent mother.
Whoever reads the history of delinquents (and we know not one more copious than the 'Newgate Calendar') must be struck with the obvious advantages which, even in this world, attend a life of propriety and virtue. Scarcely a case of atrocity, horror, or dishonesty occurs, but we find the parties concerned immersed in sin and crime. If men, they are the companions of prostitutes, whose extravagance and dissipation are to be supported by illegal means; and, if women, we find them either abandoned to shame and infamy, or living in secret or open defiance of the laws of God and society. The parties before us, though not exactly of this class, were nevertheless far from being models of propriety: the woman was a mother before she was married; and the man undertook to father her child begotten in shame. From such a connexion little good was to be expected. though what followed could not possibly be anticipated.
Thomas Jesson, a nailer, aged twenty-five, was indicted at the Salop assizes, March the 24th, 1815, for the wilful murder of his wife's child, in the parish of Hale's Owen, on the night of Saturday, the 28th of the preceding January. By the evidence of a surgeon it appeared that the right cheek and temple were bruised very much, the skin was ruptured on the right side of the child, and the lower jaw was broken exactly in the centre. He observed a large fracture on the back part of the head: after removing the scalp two large portions of the bone were entirely detached, and pressed upon the brain. A single blow would not have caused the fracture of both the jaw and the head.
The prisoner stated that he was in a fit when it was done; and that he knew not how it happened. This, however. did not appear from the. evidence to be the fact; and the jury brought in a verdict of Guilty, in the propriety of which the judge fully concurred, and immediately passed sentence of death upon him.