We cannot refrain from presenting to the notice of our readers the circumstances of this very singular case.
At the assizes at Carlisle, on the 23rd of February 1841, Harrison Flather was indicted for stealing five sovereigns, a purse, and a pair of ear-rings, the property of Morris Davis.
It appeared from the opening statement of the counsel for the prosecution, that the prosecutor, Mr. Morris Davis, was a Pole, and had been for some time resident in Carlisle, where he carried on business as a furrier. The prisoner was writing-master to the grammar-school, and was on this account probably selected by the prosecutor to give him lessons in the English language, and especially in writing and accounts. In the course of this employment a friendship sprung up between them; and Mr. Flather was finally made, the confidant of the prosecutor in a matter of great delicacy, and was employed by him to conduct a correspondence with a young lady, to whom the prosecutor had become attached. Two letters were addressed by Mr. Davis to Miss Moore, the lady in question, the prisoner Flather being employed as amanuensis. Miss Moore was absent from Carlisle when these letters were sent to her residence; but immediately on her return she enclosed them to the prosecutor, and there, so far as she was concerned, all correspondence ceased. It appeared, however, that letters continued to be written in her name to the prosecutor, which he received through the Carlisle post. In these, reasons flattering to Mr. Davis were given for a renewal of the correspondence. Mr. Flather continued in Mr. Davis's confidence, read and explained the letters when received, wrote the answers, and to his hands the delivery of them was confided. Early in the correspondence, however, a circumstance occurred which, had Mr. Davis been better acquainted with the feelings and manners of English women, would certainly have awakened his suspicions; this was an application for money, specifying the precise sum which the lady wanted. Many of these applications were made, and always complied with. Among others was one on the 19th of November 1840, which formed the subject of the present charge. An application was made for five guineas, and, in replying to it, Mr. Davis took the opportunity of further inclosing a purse and a pair of jet ear-rings, which he had purchased for the purpose. One of the shillings enclosed was somewhat remarkable, being marked with the letter "A" on the head of the impression. About a month afterwards an inquiry took place, and it then appeared that Miss Moore knew nothing whatever of this pretended correspondence, and had never received any letter or communication from Mr. Davis whatsoever, except the two first, which she had promptly returned. The prisoner was apprehended; his house was searched; and there was found the identical shilling which Mr. Davis had so inclosed to Miss Moore some time before, and committed, as he had committed the other inclosures, to the hands of the prisoner.
To support this statement in evidence, Mr. Morris Davis and other witnesses were called. The simple Pole detailed the circumstances under which he had been so impudently bamboozled by the prisoner with much ingenuousness. He had set great store upon the supposed effusions of Miss Moore, which amounted to between twenty and thirty in number, and kept them tied up in a bundle in his parlour. On the Friday before the Christmas-day preceding the prosecution, however, he quitted his sitting-room, while the prisoner was there, for a short time, and, on his looking for the love-letters a few days afterwards, he found that they were gone. The letters were usually couched in the most affectionate terms, commencing "My dear, dear love," and terminating, "Your ever affectionate betrothed wife, E. Moore;" but the greater part of them contained requests for the loan of money, the amount of the sum demanded varying from 2l. to 5l. He invariably complied with the demands made, and advanced in all no less than 85l. Flather always took away the letters; and the answers either came by his hands or through the post. He never had any suspicion that anything was wrong until he learned that Miss Moore was at Liverpool at the same time that he supposed she was writing to him from her residence at Carlisle.
On his cross-examination, Davis admitted that he was a person of inferior education, and that he was scarcely able to read or write his own or any other language. He had paid Flather a guinea for the instruction which he received from him, and a guinea for the love-letters; but the schoolmaster frequently took his meals at his house. Flather had also kept his books and had written business-letters; and since this prosecution an attorney had applied for the amount of an alleged claim he had upon him in this respect, which, however, he had not paid. In reference to the love affair the witness said, that he knew nothing of Miss Moore except that she had dealt at his shop, and that she had never personally favoured his advances. After the first two letters had been returned, he asked her whether she had sent them back, and she answered in the affirmative. He replied that he was satisfied; but subsequently he was induced to recommence the correspondence, upon receiving a note, apparently from her, stating that she had been compelled to discourage his addresses in obedience to the wishes of her friends, and that she was desirous of maintaining a communication with him. In subsequent letters she made appointments to meet him, which, however, were invariably postponed; and she even went so far as to speak of running away with him to Gretna Green, for which purpose he sent her 5l. in obedience to her request; but this scheme was also abandoned.
Miss Moore, of Paternoster-row, Carlisle, was called to prove that she had never written letters to the prosecutor, and had never received any from him through the medium of the prisoner; and other witnesses spoke to the facts opened by the prosecuting counsel, as well as to the additional circumstance that green-edged paper, like that on which Miss Moore's supposed letters had been written, had been found in the possession of the prisoner.
The jury found the prisoner "Guilty." He was then tried upon a second indictment, charging him with a like offence in reference to some of the other sums which he had obtained of the prosecutor, and a similar verdict was returned.
Mr. Justice Maule immediately sentenced him to be confined in the House of Correction for sixteen months.