The Judge then addressed the prisoner in nearly the following words: – “John Bright, after a long and most painful trial, you have been by a considerate and intelligent Jury convicted of the dreadful crime of murder. It is seldom that this crime is capable of aggravation; and a Rev. Gentleman has already told you that the judgement of Heaven is denounced against it in the sacred volume, which declares that “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by men shall his blood be shed.”
If any case of murder can be capable of aggravation, your’s is that case; for it appears, from what passed early in the evening, that you led her to suppose you would make her your wife – one cannot doubt that you were the father of her child; and thus, by one wicked act, you deprived one human being of existence whom you out to have protected, and prevented another from coming into life with a similar claim on you. The practice has been that only one day shall intervene between the conviction and execution of a murderer, and it is therefore my duty to order that your sentence be carried into effect on Saturday – Probably circumstances may occur to prolong your existence a little longer; but let that encourage no hope.
All your prospects on this side of the grave are closed, and you have now only to prepare for an entrance upon another world. Whether you will find mercy there, I leave to your almighty Judge. I can only recommend you to employ your few reaming days in penitence and prayer. The mercy of heathen is inexhaustible if sought for a right – endeavour, therefore to reconcile yourself to God, repent of your crimes, and humbly ask forgiveness in the name of your Redeemer.
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Nothing now remains for me but to pass the awful sentence of the law, which is that you be taken to the prison from whence you came, and on the Saturday next to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck till you be dead, and your body to be delivered to the surgeons for dissection; and may Almighty God have mercy upon your soul!”
Immediately on his return to gaol he was visited by the Rev. Mr Chave, the Chaplain, to whom he on Friday had confessed, that he had resolved on the death of the unfortunate woman for seven or eight days before; the opportunity offered as they were walking by the river side on the night stated in the indictment, and when they came opposite the deepest water, he gave her a sudden push, by which she was precipitated into it; then without waiting to ascertain her fate, the murdered made the best of his way home.
He denied having struck her, and still says the apron was tied round her neck by her own hands as a protection from rain. He appeared sincerely penitent. We understand that the Judges have discretionary power to postpone execution till after the close of an assize; by the exercise of which the unhappy man was respited ‘till Monday.