26 SEPTEMBER 1829, Page 3


Sessions on Thursday, William, John, and Richard Cobbett, sons of the political writer, were tried fur the mysterious case of assault lately brought before the public by Mr. Daniel French, the Roman Catholic barrister. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Prendergast. Mr. French was the principal witness, and made the following statement. " On the 12th of August last, about half-past four in the afternoon, he met Mr. William Cobbett, jun. in Piccadilly. He passed by ice, looked at use very ferociously, and I returned a very stern look to him : he then came back, and said, 'Mr. French, I wish to put a few questions to you :' I I shall answer, with great pleasure, any questions you may have to put D me.' He said, that he did not like to put them there; he wished to know when he could see me. I invited him to nay house ; but he declined it, and said, I should like to put the questions in the presence of one or two witnesses.' 1 rep ied, that he must think me a very great fool, if I would answer any ques- tions that he chose to put, in the presence of any witnesses whatever that he might choose to bring, especially as there was a variance between some parts of his family and myself.' He then said, ' Will you meet me at Barn Elms, now or presently ?' 1 replied no, because his father was absent. He said, looking very mysteriously, and picking his teeth, 'So you have heard that my father is not at Barn Elms—who told you that ?' ' No matter,' I replied, have heard IC He again pressed me to meet him at Barn Elms, which I again declined ; adding, that I had an appointment at Hammersmith, at seven o'clock in the evening. Oh (said he, very significantly), you have an an appointment at seven o'clock, have you ? Good day;' and he left Die. Afterwards, about six o'clock, I set off very quietly, with a book in my breast; I was walking up Silver-street very leisurely; I looltek-onfiefore, expecting to see my son, but the road was quite vacant. On the left.hand side there was a large coal waggon standing, with three horses; on one side of this waggon were lurking in ambush the three Messrs. Cobbetts, so that they could not be seen. Suddenly William Cobbett came for- ward with a tremendous bludgeon in his hand, and gave me several blows. I shrunk back to avoid hint, and ran round the waggon. I received one blow on the thigh, and another on the side, which I have felt constantly since, and espe- cially now. I received one blow, which was received on the book, so as to in- dent the cover, and to mark thirteen pages of it, well counted. In consequence of that blow, I had a pain for three or four days. When I endeavoured to get away, the two younger Cobbetts came forward and stopped me ; and in attempting to extricate myself from them, one caught hold of my coat. At the close, when other persons came up, I said, I think I have strength to beat them still ; and endeavoured to strike William Cobbett in the face ; but I fell down quite ex- hausted. While I was on the ground I was beaten again, and kicked ; I think the bludgeon that was used was thicker than my wrist; but I was under con- sternation; I am no judge. The people who came up, said, that it was a mur- derous and butchery affair." Mr. French being asked by his counsel whether he had given the defendants any provocation, proceeded to state what he conceived to have been the cause of their attack upon him. " I have long been on habits of intimacy with Mrs. Cobbett's fancily. For nearly six mouths past (I can- not speak with perfect accuracy as to time), Mrs. Cobbett has been extremely communicative to me on the subject of her family concerns, which I always listened to with extreme reluctance. She used very plain and intelligible language as to the nature of her suspicions concerning her hus- band and Mr. Riley. I did not understand her meaning, notwitlistanding her plainness of language, for a long time; thinking she could know nothing of the crime to which sine alluded, and therefore I always upbraided myself for sus- pecting that a lady could allude to such a subject. A circumstance, however oc- curred sonic time ago, which induced me to put the question to her—whether she really imagined and meant to convey to me that she suspected anything unna- tural between Mr. Riley and Mr. Cobbett ? Upon which she replied that she did —what else could she possibly mean ? The circumstance which gave rise to my putting the question was the following. Some time previously to my putting the question to her—" The Chairman—" Really I do not know whether I am doing right in letting this go on. I could not refuse what Mr. French has said as yet, because it shows the ground of the quarrel ; but for him to describe what gave him a motive in questioning Mrs. Cobbet—" Mr. Phillips—" I believe I might have stopped this long ago, but the defendants are anxious to let the pro- secuter go as far as he pleases in the statements he has made." Mr. Prendergast —" You had better not go into all this statement." The Chairman—" eana thinking, of what course I ought to take ; for certainly these disclosures have takent me all aback. I had no idea of anything of the sort." Mr. Prendergast (to Mr. French—" You had better not go on with this." Mr. French—" But the Chair- man has desired me to go on." The Chairman—" No, I have desired you to go on with nothing that was not a part of the cause of the quarrel that led to this assault. Mr. French still intimated his desire to proceed with his statement relative to Mrs. Cobbett. The Chairman—" There are counsel on the other side—Mr. Phillips, I really think that you ought to stop this." Mr. Phillips—" The directions I have re- ceived from my clients, are to give to Mr. French carte blanche; however, Sir, where the character of a whole family is concerned, you must decide. I do not believe that a word of all this statement is legal evidence." Mr. French—" But I have only one more fact to add ; besides it is the inmost important of the whole." The Chairman—" Well, really, gentlemen, you leave me quite in the lurch ; and I do not like my position ; it is a very ticklish one." Mr. French continued- " She told me, that owing to those suspicions she had cut her throat a year be- fore ; that that was the very cause, and that she was very likely to do it again, unless Mr. Cobbett sent off Mr. Riley, left Barn Elms, and came to his family at Kensington, whither the sons and daughters were all alike determined to compel him to come, indignant at his goings on ; and that they were only awaiting the arrival of James and Nancy from Italy, to compel him to come. She told me likewise that the cook on one occasion—" The Chairman—" Only a part of this case has been made public ; or at least I never heard of it, for all this is as new to inc as if it cane from another world. I can now see the sense of what Mr. French meant, when he said that he had only told Mr. Cobbett and Mr. Riley of what had passed." Mr. Prendergast (to Mr. French)—" Had you any communication with Mr. Riley ?" Mr. French—" I cannot answer that fact without another, which is the most important one of the whole. Site told one • " The Chairmitit—" Indeed, this cannot go on." Mr. Prender- gast—" Mr. French, you had better—" Mr. French (to Mr. Prendergast) —" What, Sir, are you become counsel for the other side ? I wish (folding his arms) I could plead my own case." Mr. French proceeded to narrate what Mrs. Cobbett had told him. Mr. Prendergast—" Did you mention this to anybody but Mr. Cobbett and Mr. Riley, previous to the assault ? " " No, as God is my judge, and as I hope for mercy in heaven, I never did." The witness was now cross-examined by Mr. Phillips. "I communicated these facts first to Mr. Riley. I told Riley to tell Mr. Cobbett to come to me. When he came, I communicated the same facts to him. During the progress of the communications which Mrs. Cobbett made to me, I frequently saw Mr. Cobbett; but I did not understand what she alluded to. I have dined with the family once or twice. I was always treated with hospitality, Cobbett printed a book which I wrote, at his own cost. He said that I should have the profit after his expenses were paid. I told him he might do what he pleased with the book. I once showed Mr. Cobbett my bare breast. It bore the mark of nails. I told him that I was on my knees at prayer when I received them." Mr. Prendergast thought the rules of law ought to be adhered to as much as possible. The nail marks ap- peared to have nothing to do with the case. To Mr. French—" Was this some- thing that took place between you and your own wife ?" Mr. French—" Yes, in my own family alone. It is totally unconnected with the case, and is only mentioned to expose me. I am, however, most anxious to explain the circum- stances. [After a stormy discussion, the cross-examination was proceeded with, and the circumstance of the nail marks was for the present passed over.] During the time Mrs. Cobbett was making communications to me, I four or five times received little presents of game from Mr. Cobbett and members of his family. I considered them to be a tacit remuneration for assistance which I rendered Mr. William Cobbett in Latin. I have had the power of taking Mr. Cobbett's Re- gister gratuitously for three or four years. I omitted to take it, until at length Mr. Cobbett upbraided me, and I took it more to please hint than myself. I did tell Cobbett that Mrs. Cobbett had accused him of indulging in unnatural pro- pensities." Question—" Was any member of the family present when Mrs. Cob. bett commuuicated these facts to you ?" Answer—" No; but the sons and daughters were present when she said that Riley was worse than the imp of hell, and was capable of any thing." " Where did the communication take place ?" " Once in the parlour, once in the drawingroom, and once jan a private lodging of my own, where I never admit any women, and did not wish to admit her.

" How long was it after you ascertained Mrs. Cobbett's meaning that you com- municated it to Mr. Riley ?"—" Not more than two or three days." " How did you account for the nail-marks in your breast?"—" Be connected in your exami- nation. You jump from one thing to another." Mr. Prendergast—" I thought it was settled that these questions were not to be asked ?" Mr. French—"But now that he has got that fact out of me, I would rather die than let the question rest there." Mr. French then told a long story about his having one evening seen Mrs. Riley, who is separated from her husband, part of her way home. He had occasion to stop at Pimlico on business till a late hour, and did not reach home until half-past two o'clock in the morning. His wife who was of a very jealous dis- position, supposing that he had been all the time in company with Mrs. Riley, attacked him whilst at prayers, and left the marks of her nails on his breast. He considered adultery an heinous crime, and would not associate with any man who was guilty of it. Nothing material was elicited by the re-examination of the witness. In reply to some questions put by Mr. Phillips, through the Chairman, the following statement was produced. " I told Mr. Cobbett to confront me with

his wife if necessary, I said, hope you believe every thing.' He said, Yes : it was always my firm conviction when the d—d b—h cut her own throat—(you must have heard something about that—The Times alluded to it—'" Mr. Phillips—" Do not mimick Mr. Cobbete„senior, Sir." Mr. French—" I am not mimicking. That is exactly the motion of his arm, and it is very proper. Mr. Cob- bett proceeded—' She came in with the fixed deliberate intention of cutting mine, but Riley accidentally being there, the d--d b—h cut her own.' Cobbett further said—'It was not Riley who shut the door, but I. I was apprehensive that she would cut my throat, or cut her own with the view of making the world believe that I had done it.' " Three witnesses were called, who saw the assault committed ; and from their description it certainly appeared to have been of a violent nature. One of them said, that Mr. William Cobbett had a stick with a knob at the end, not quite so large as his fist, with which he " paid into" Mr. French. He thought that if the stick had struck a vital part, it would have caused death. Mr. Riley was then called, and sworn, but Mr. Prendergast did not examine him. Mr. Phillips—" Is this gentleman here for ornament only ?" Mr. Prendergast—" I have called him that you might examine him if you please. However, I will ask whether Mr. French has correctly stated what took place between him and Mr. Cobbett in the

witness's presence ? He has." Mr. Phillips then addressed the Jerry for the defendants. He said that such a case had, perhaps, never before been introduced into a court of justice, and it reflected little honour on the English bar that it should have been so ostentatiously exposed before the public. He believed that Mrs. Cobbett never said any thing of the nature attributed to her. Mr. French was wise in one thing—in his conversations with Mrs. Cobbett he never had a single witness. His statements, therefore, could only be contradicted by the im- probabilities of the case. Mr. French interrupted the learned counsel, and declared in the most solemn manner his disbelief in the imputations made against Mr. Cobbett and Mr. Riley. Mr. Phillips said he was a little surprised that Mr. French had not made this declaration before in one of the many episodes with which he had indulged the Court. If Mr. French did put credit in the impu- tation, so did Mr. Cobbett not believe that it had ever been made by his wife. He was justified in stating this on two grounds—first, because Mr. Cobbett was living with her at this moment ; secondly, because he had been a witness for many a year to her faithful affection—to her more than feminine constancy with which, through good and evil report, she abided by him a kind mother and tender wife. What better proof could be desired of the falsehood of the prosecutor's statement as regarded Mrs. Cobbett, than that the three young men at the bar were fired almost to madness when they heard the slander that was directed against her. He believed that if the prosecutor had died under the blows which he received from the sons of the injured Mrs. Cobbett, thousands would have said that the prove- cation was commensurate with the punishment. The Chairman proceeded to recapitulate the evidence to the Jury. Whilst he was reading it Mr. and Mrs. Cobbett , sem entered the Court, and sat down at the extremity of the bench. It was, however, hinted to them that it might be unpleasant to hear some parts of the evidence, and they retired. The Jury found the defendants Guilty of the assault, but "under strong provocation." Mr. Phillips then said he had an affidavit to offer in mitigation of punishment. It was the affidavit of Mrs. Cobbett, denying that she had either directly or indirectly said any thing of the kind at- tributed to her by Mr.. French. Mr. Prendergast prayed that the prosecutor might be allowed to file affidavits in reply. The Court having, heard the beginning of the affidavit read, decided that it could not be received. The Chairman said, that the Court, taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration, sen- tenced the defendant William to pay a fine of 201. to the King, and the other two defendants to pay a fine of 40s. each. The Court likewise ordered that the defendants severally should enter into recognizances of 1001. to keep the peace towards Mr. French.

ROMAN CATHOLIC MARIITAGES.—On Thursday, Norah Sullit an, an Irishwoman, complained at the Mansionhouse against the officiating females of a Benefit Society to which she belonged, for having refused to pay her the money usually granted to members to defray the expenses of childbirth. The demand was resisted on the ground that the complainant was not legally married, the cere- mony having only been performed by a Roman Catholic priest, whereas sire should also have been married by a clergyman of the Church of England. The Lord Mayor and Alderman Atkins expressed themselves with some warmth against the defence : they thought her claim was good, and that she was as much entitled to assistance as any other member ; and they should make out an order to oblige tire Society to pay tire poor woman. Mr. nobler, jun., on the part of the Society, said, that if the order was made out, he should appeal at the Sessions, where he knew it would be dismissed as illegal. The stewardess of the Society said, that if Mrs. Sullivan won't] get regularly and legally married, the money should be handed over to her without hesitation or delay. Mrs. Sullivan declared that she had' not the means to pay for the performance of the ceremony. The stewardess said she believed the Society would have no objection to give Mrs. Sullivan as much money as would enable her to get legally united to her husband. Upon `his understanding the Magistrates forbore to make tine order.

A SIMPLE MAN OF Kaa-r.—As Mr. Pond, an elderly gentleman residing in Kent, was passing along Holborn on Monday last, he was accosted by a person who pretended to come front the same part of the country, and was acquainted with several of his friends. They went to three different public-houses, and drank till Mr. Pond was intoxicated. The prisoner was observed, by a person passing, to be leading Mr. Pond along: witness at length seeing him draw the watch from Mr. Pond's fob and put it into his own, called the watch, and they were taken to the watchhouse. The prisoner is committed for trial.

On Saturday evening, as Mr. Laing, one of the Magistrates at Hatton-garden, was passing through Lamb's Conduit-street, he was accosted by a vagabond sell- ing matches in the front of a grocer's shop. Mr. Laing went into the shop, and

asked if a constable could not be procured ; none being near, Mr. Laing seized the mendicant by the collar, and drew him into the shop. The matt finding that the feeling of the crowd Which assembled was in his favour, endeavoured to get his liberty by force; but Mr. Laing kept him at bay with his umbrella. The crowd here burst open the shop-door, attacked Mr. Laing, took his hat from him, and assaulted him shamefully. The shopkeeper succeeded in dragging lam to another room ; the beggar was allowed to go, and his reappearance to the street was hailed with loud cheers.

Mr. Phipps the wine-merchant, at Blenheim-street, was assaulted on Tuesday by a porter whom he had discharged, and who fell upon him twice with loaded pistols, putting his life in the utmost danger.

Extensive forgeries, after the manner of Hunton's, have lately come to light in the course of proceedings under a commission of bankruptcy. William Robert Gardner, a plausible person who had long conducted business on a large scale as a mapseller and engraver, at Harpur-street, Red Lion-square, has gone cl; it is supposed for America; having, it is believed, been engaged in carrying on for. gerics for many years, by putting respectable names to bills, and taking them up just before they came due. Suspicion at last arose ; upon which Mr. Gardner disappeared suddenly, on the 29th of July, leaving his wife and four children be- hind, Mr. Josien, a young gentleman who lodged in the cashed many of the bills, and has lost nearly 4,0001. in consequence. The amount of the forgeries at present discovered is said to reach from house o


The night before he disappeared, he got several of the bills discounted, and ob- tained goods on credit. These facts came out at the first meeting of creditors, Gardner having been made a bankrupt.

Mr. R. Simpson, publisher, of Tottenham Court-road, has been held to bail in two sureties of 1001. each on charges of parchasing prints of works not yet pub. lished. Three cases were brought forward of his having sold prints of the Annuals of 1830, and proof given that they could only have been surreptitiously obtained.

In consequence of the numerous depredations committed at Romney and neigh. bourhood, three hundred householders officiate on alternate nights as watchmen.

Three persons have been apprehended at Westminster, caught in the act of coining. An illicit glass manufactory has hem discovered at Bethnal-green.

David Evans, who was convicted for the murder of his sweetheart Hannah Davies, was executed at Carmarthen on Monday. He had made a full confession of his guilt. The prisoner showed unusual firmness, and without much pausing, dropped the handkerchief: when the stand beneath him was withdrawn, the iron chain through which the rope was reeved gave way and the poor wreteh fell on his feet. It seems he was no stranger to a vulgar error that when the rope breaks a reprieve or pardon is the convict's due by immemorial custom. Accordingly, when he gained his feet a second time, he demanded his life, saying, " He had been hanged once, and they had no more to do with him'. Here it became the melancholy duty of those about him to convince him of the contrary ; bat it was with much difficulty he was brought up a second time. When every thg fur the purpose was now carefully adjusted, he dropped the handkerchief once mom, and the world closed on him for ever.