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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1828, Sunday, April 10, 1831

Bow Street

Rival Exhibitors.

On Thursday Thomas John Potter, who stood nearly seven feet high, was brought before Mr. Halls, charged with having stolen a painting and a cloak, or dress, the property of one William Tarlton.

Tarlton, a little man, reaching to the elbow of the prisoner, began with—"This, your Worship, is a case of most uncommon hardship and ingratitude as ever was heard of. You most know, your Worship, that there tall young man is the Cumberland giant—though the fact is, your Worship, between ourselves, he is really a West India slave-driver. I was taking a pint of half-and-half and smoking my pipe, some few weeks ago, in a public house in Whitechapel, when he came in a-begging. He said he had not money to pay for his lodging, and I, thinking that he would make a good subject for exhibiting as a giant, made a proposal to him, which he at once agreed to. I accordingly handed him my half-and-half, and provided him with lodgings and money. I subsequently had a full-length portrait painted of him, in his exhibiting robes—to procure which, by-the-bye, I had to send the clothes of my wife and myself to the pawnbrokers, and in order that the thing might be done handsomely and respectably, I employed a first-rate artist, at a heavy expense, to execute the painting.

Mr. Halls—And, of course, you paid a heavy price?

Tarlton—I did, indeed, I paid as much as half-a-guinea (a laugh.).

Mr. Halls—Oh! it must have been a fine painting truly, but who christened the giant ?

Tarlton—I did, of course; 'twas I. I called him the Cumberland giant, and we should have done very well if he had not thought fit to walk off, and to take with him the painting and exhibiting cloak.

A publican stated that the giant had occupied a room in his house. This room was taken for him by Tarlton; but the rent not having been paid, he (witness) had taken possession of the articles alleged to have been stolen. He would, however, gladly surrender them up, on receiving the amount of his demand, for the picture was a mere daub, and the exhibiting cloak equally valueless.

The prisoner then stated that be had quitted Tarlton simply because he had refused to act fairly respecting the receipts. Tarlton was for putting all the money into his own pocket.

Tarlton—Pooh ! you say you are only 18, but any one who examines your teeth will find that you are at least 36.

Mr. Halls said he never knew before that the age of giants, like that of horses, was to be discovered by their teeth. The magistrate then observed, that there was no grounds for the charge. It arose out of a professional trick, and he should, therefore, discharge the prisoner.

The prisoner asked if be could have any remedy for the false imprisonment he had endured, and was by the magistrate referred to his attorney.