The defendant was indicted for burning a dwelling house, me property of A. J. Beagle and others, trustees of the Presbyterian Church, used at the time of the burning as a dwelling b)r the defendant “as lessee.” There were two counts in the indictment, each concluding against the form of the Statute in such cases made and provided and against- the peace and dignity of the State.
The State introduced evidence to show that the dwelling was burned on the 5th of March, 1896, and that it was at that time the dwelling of the defendant and used by him as lessee of the owners.
The State also offered evidence tending to show that on May the 8th, 1895, the defendant occupied a rented cottage, the property of Mrs. Fry, and that after defendant had insured his. effects, said cottage and contents were burned on May 20th, 1895. This evidence was admitted to show the similarity of the offences and defendant excepted.,
After verdict of guilty the defendant moved in arrest of judgment, because there was no offence charged in the'bill either at common law or under our Statutes. On the motion in arrest of judgment we were favored with an argument against the sufficiency of the bill as a common law offence, charging the defendant with arson. We will not stop to pass upon that question as the case falls easily within The Code, 1761, which declares that any tenant,- who shall injure any tenement-house, &c., of his landlord, by burning or in any other manner, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined or imprisoned at the discretion of the Court. Indeed, it is manifest to us that the bill, whether so intended or not, by its express terms is embraced by the *627language of the Statute. The indictment charges the defendant “as lessee,” (i. e., as tenant) of the landlord, and the trial, conviction and sentence, fortunately for the defendant, were had upon that view of the offence. The offence could not have been included under any of the sub-sections of The Code, 985.
^ We think that the exception to the admission of evidence tending to show the burning of the cottage on May 20, 1895, was well taken. Evidence of a distinct, substantive offence cannot be admitted in support of another offence, as a general rule. State v. Shuford, 69 N. C, 486; State v. Alston, 94 N. C., 930. If A steals a horse on January 1, and is indicted for stealing another horse on July 1, proof of the first taking is not competent on trial-for the second stealing, as that would be proving-a collateral offence. The State could not introduce such evidence on the question of defendant’s character, unless he has put his character in issue.
To this general rule there is an exception, that is, when the evidence tends to prove guilty knowledge of the defendant, when that is an essential element of the crime, that is, the quo animo, the intent or design. Illustrations, — passing counterfeit money, of like kind; sending a threatening letter, when prior and subsequent letters to the same person are competent in order-to show the intent and meaning of the particular letter in question. In these and other instances, the evidence is admissible to prove the scienter only, and it must be excluded when it does not fall legitimately within the scope of the exceptions. Rex v. Boucher, 4 C. & P 562; Thorp v. State, 15 Ala., 479; Wharton’s Cr. Law, Section 650; State v. Murphy, 84 N. C., 742.
It. is when the transactions are so connected or contemporaneous as to form a continuing action that evidence of the collateral offence will be heard to prove the intent of the offence charged. State v. Jeffries, 117 N. C., 727.
*628The defendant being charged with firing an outhouse, the State was permitted to prove that at the same time he made an attempt to fire a dwelling near it, the evidence directly connecting the defendant with the latter attempt. State v. Thompson, 97 N. C., 496.
There was error in admitting the evidence to which defendant excepted. No other exception need be considered.