Front Page Titles (by Subject) 406.: A RECENT MAGISTERIAL DECISION MORNING POST, 8 NOV., 1854, P. 3 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV
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406.: A RECENT MAGISTERIAL DECISION MORNING POST, 8 NOV., 1854, P. 3 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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A RECENT MAGISTERIAL DECISION
This article reports on the trial of William Ebbs, an elderly bootmaker, for attempting to cut the throat of his wife, Matilda. Evidence was given by George Ebbs, their son. The case was heard on Friday, 3 Nov., before George Chapple Norton (1800-75), who had been M.P. for Guilford 1826-30, and a stipendiary magistrate at the Lambeth Street Police Court since 1845; however, it was on Saturday, 4 Nov., that Norton discharged the man (see 1197b-b). Mill quotes from the report “Police. Lambeth,” The Times, 6 Nov., 1854, p. 9. The letter, Mill’s only contribution to the Morning Post, is related to the series on domestic cruelty that he wrote with Harriet (see No. 303), though he does not identify it as a joint production. It is dated 6 Nov., 1854, and headed as title, with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter signed M. and headed ‘A recent Magisterial decision’ in the Morning Post of Nov. 8, 1854” (MacMinn, p. 88). The text below is that of the Morning Post, which has been collated with the MS draft in the Mill-Taylor Collection. In the variant notes the manuscript reading is signalled by “MS”.
Will you allow me to call your attention to the extraordinary decision of Mr. aNortona , in the case of a man named William Ebbs, on bFridayb last? This ruffian, after brutally beating his unfortunate wife (then ill of a fever, and with her baby in her arms), deliberately attempted to cut her throat with a razor, which was only prevented by the son, scarcely less brutal than the father, who advised the father not to beat his mother any more, because he had given her enough now! This son, who was himself brought to the police-court for assaulting the officer in order to rescue the father, made, to screen him, the evidently false, and, if true, frivolous excuse, that his mother had given provocation by her ill temper. The fellow, on being remanded for a week, threatened that he would do worse when he went home, or would not go home at all. At the end of the week Mr. cNortonc releases the man, gives him money (sent for his use by a “benevolent gentleman”), and warns the unfortunate woman not to make “such free use of her tongue in abuse of her husband.”
Is it thus that Parliament intended the new act for the protection of wives to be carried into effect?1 The man Ebbs, on the showing even of the son who begged him off, had been in the frequent habit of brutally ill-using his wife. After his threatening, and attempting, to cut her throat, she is again given into his power, without his being even required to give security for keeping the peace, which, from his circumstances, he probably could have given. Can it be doubted that only the most atrocious cases come to light? dAndd is it to be wondered at that even these are not at all diminished in frequency, when the perpetrators may hope for complete impunity, and the victims are entirely insecure of getting any eredress? Whilee , failing of redress, their situation, in the absolute power of a vindictive master, is frightful to contemplate.—I am, sir, your obedient servant,
[a-a]MS Morton [JSM’s error]
[b-b]MS Saturday [see the headnote]
[1 ]16 & 17 Victoria, c. 30 (1853), designed to protect women and children against aggravated assaults.