Mr. Charles Russell Q.C on Rebecca Jarrett

The Old Bailey (October 29, 1885). Quoted in Alison Plowden, The Case of Eliza Armstrong: A Child of 13 Bought for £5 (1974)

The Jury must know how, for years in this country, good and earnest men and women have deplored the injuries to which little girls, especially in crowded cities, were exposed; how they became objects on which debased passion centred itself; how, to gratify depraved tastes, children have been ruined for life; how they were made subjects almost of mercantile traffic; and how apparently this great country, with all its civilization and wealth, and its appliances of police and judicial machinery, was unable satisfactorily to deal with their protection. It is all very well for the armchair moralist to express decorous sentiments in denunciation of crime, and discourse placidly on the evils of the age, but there are times when special means must be resorted to, and when enthusiasm is necessary to rouse and, if need be, create popular feeling. It was for this reason that it occurred to these persons, to Mr. Stead and Mr. Bramwell Booth and to Rebecca Jarrett - to demonstrate that such a traffic was being carried on; that it was possible to get hold of a child of tender years, to get her examined by a midwife, to introduce her to a brothel, to administer chloroform so that a vile purpose could be accomplished and, finally, to deport the child from this country without leaving a trace.

It is my duty, gentlemen of the Jury, to address you on behalf of Rebecca Jarrett. Her history is a sad one. She herself, when a child of fifteen, was seduced by a person of position and, being eventually thrown aside as a worthless thing, has since led a life - as she will tell you - alternating between fits of decent employment, a weak desire for a better life and a relapse into her old paths of sin. In January of this year she was attracted by the Salvation Army service and again made an effort to quit the life she was leading. She was getting on in years and saw nothing but a dreary life and a shameful death before her. Whether her heart was touched, who shall say? At any rate, she professed to be touched and she came into the kindly care of the Salvation Army. She was afterwards taken charge of by Mrs. Josephine Butler of Winchester, and at the end of May she was in that lady's service.


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Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil