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PEEL PLANS AND RUSSELL REMEDIES.

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CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.

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CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. A recent execution at Worcester has directed the attention of the good people of that city to this question. A clergy- man, the Rev. Mr. Havergal, has preached a sermon, justi- fying the present state of the law. The Rev. Dr. Redford has delivered an ably argumentative sermon on the general question, earnestly contending for a mitigation of the laws in this respect. A public meeting was held at the Guildhall, and was very numerously and respectably attended. As we wish to interest our readers in this question, we give Mr. Gilpin's speech entire from the Worcester Ilerald Charles Gilpin, Esq., said, he hoped he should not trench on the caution which had been given by the gentleman behind him, but if he spoke he must speak from the heart. To him it was not an unimportant thing whether the gibbet was abo- lished to-day or fifty years hence, and he thought the question was settled with the people of England while certain parties were discussing abstruse questions and disputed texts of Scrip- ture, public opinion had already doomed the gibbet to destruc- tion. He had to ask for the indulgence of the meeting, seeing that he had two speeches to make, one for himself and another for an absent friend, the Rev. H. Christmas, whose pamphlet had been attacked in the pulpit by the Rev. Mr. Havergal, the rector of St. Nicholas, in this city. He had been requested by Mr. Christmas to read a letter from him in reply. The speaker accordingly read a long but somewhat telling letter from Mr. Christinas in support of his pamphlet, and in opposition to Mr. Havergal's strictures upon it.. Mr. Gilpin then said that he could very well afford to leave the matters in dispute between Mr. Havergal and Mr. Christmas to be settled by them. He would not ground his arguments upon doubtful texts of Scrip- ture, but upon the general scope and tenor of the Bible. He appealed from Ararat to Calvary, from Moses to Jesus, from Sinai to the Mount of Olives, and he defied his opponents to adduce anything said or done by Jesus Christ that would justify capital punishments. One statement, however, of Mr. Haver- gal's he must allude to. He had said that the clergy of the Church of England and eminent men generally were almost unanimous in favour of capital punishments. Now, Mr. Christ- mas had lent him a bundle of 200 letters from clergymen of the Church of England (Mr. Gilpin read extracts from one or two) all approving of the sentiments contained in his pamphlet. What became then of the unanimity amongst the clergymen of the Church of England upon this subject ? And he would give them other authorities on this subject. He did not generally do so—he did not wish men to pin their faith upon authorities —he thought that the humble honest-hearted seeker after truth was as likely to get at the true meaning of his Bible as any cloaked or cassocked minister. But as Mr. Havergal had talked about the unanimity among eminent men upon this subject, he would give their authorities. Sir Thomas More, Sir William Jones, Dr. Johnson, Blackstone, Itomilly, Dr. Chellingworth (the brightest ornament of England's Church), Bishop Hall (another Church of England bishop), Dr. Ford, for 40 years chaplain of Newgate, Archbishop Whateley (whom he cited on the information of his friend Mr. Christmas), the Bishop of Norwich, and the Bishop of St. David's, were all opposed to capital punishments. There was not even unanimity amongst the bishops. But not to confine themselves wholly to the Church, the martyr, John Bradford the Rev. James Sherman, minister of the largest congregation in London; the Rev. John Burnet, of Camberwell, a man probably known to many of them, together with a great majority of Dissenting ministers generally, the philanthropists H.oWai'd, Clarkson, and Fry, were all opposed to capital punishments. And amongst poli- tical men, all the leading men of the movement party, Cobden z, and Bright, Sergeant Talfourd, Mr. Thompson, Lord Nugent, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly, with 100 other members of the House of Commons, were in favour of the abolition of capital punish- ments. What had become of Mr. Havergal's boasted unani- mity ? Mr. Gilpin then remarked upon the text in Genesis, of which so much had been made, Whoso sheddeth man's blood," &c. Able interpreters had differed as to its meaning —he thought it was a prophecy-but take it literally and as it stood. Were those who grounded their arguments upon it pre- pared to carry it out ? Then whoever drew blood was to be put to death, and what became of the hired battalions trained for slaughter ? What became of the manslayer and the accidental homicide ? What became of the hangman ? .\Yhat right had the Queen to reprieve any criminal to whom the judge said, Die," if there was an imperative command from the King of Kings to put every murderer to death ? The people of Eng- land were far before their rulers in this matter. He had gone with thousands of petitions on the subject to the House of Commons till he was. sick in spirit, and now he-turned from the representatives to the people, and he everywhere met with a (-, w 11 hearty response from them. The age was fast advancing in the spirit of humanity and mercy. Lord Eldon had said, on a dis- cussion on the question of whether they should abolish death for forgery, that this morbid humanity, if not checked, would undermine the very foundations of society; and another noble lord said that if they abolished death for burglary, they should all be murdered in their beds but capital punishment for these things had been abolished, and yet the consequences foretold had not resulted. The influence of public executions on the mind must be most evil. If lie wished to impress a reverence of human life on a poor boy in one of the Ragged Schools, the last place he would take him to was the scaffold, but he would take him there if he wished to stimulate every evil passion which existed in the human heart. The man who died penitent on the scaffold was hissed and hooted as a coward, while he who died defying all the terrors of this world and the next, died amidst the cheers of his companions. A Dissenting minister, the Rev. W. Roberts, of Bristol, who had visited 167 criminals under sentence of death, found that 161 out of them had witnessed previous executions. Mr. Gilpin proceeded, here to give a graphic description of the scene before Newgate on a hanging Monday; pictured a boy as mixing in it and gloating over the spectacle of the execution, and asked whether it could be matter of astonishment that the pickpocket of to-day became, under the influence of such a scene, the har- dened ruffian of to-morrow. He next objected to capital punishments because they were irremissible and human judg- ment was so fallible. He recited two or three affecting cases in which parties who had been executed had been proved sub- sequently to be innocent. Men should not assume the attributes of Omnipotence till they were partakers of His omniscience also. The feeling of the people of England towards the gibbet might be fairly judged of by the feeling towards the executioner; and Mr. G. related an amusing scene which had taken place not long ago between Calcraft and oneof the sheriffs, when the former brought the latter the rope, and said he must hang the next culprit himself, because he (Calcraft) had been deprived of some of his usual fees. If the law was a righteous one, the ex- ecutioner of it ought to be respected. A petition was lately sent from Rochdale, numerously signed, to this effect—" Whereas, clergymen have been found in this; iieighbourliood the warmest advocates of capital punishments, your petitioners pray that your hon. House would pass a law compelling clergymen to be the executioners" (great cheering); and certainly, if capital punishments were a religious duty, who more proper to execute them than th3 ministers of religion ? Mr. Gilpin then made a di- gression to defend his friend, ElihuBurritt, against the strictures and remarks of Mr. Havergal, and then concluded as follows :— I demand the abolition of capital punishments in the sacred name of justice as well as mercy. I demand it in the name of our common Christianity, disgraced and degraded as it is by the crimes committed in its name. I demand it for the security of society, endangered by the frequent verdicts of acquittal in cases of unquestionable murder, given by juries who have per- jured themselves rather than be the means of inflicting the ex- treme sentence of the law. I demand it for the sake of the poor criminals themselves, who, however degraded, are our brothers and our sisters still, and respecting whom it is our duty as well as our privilege toredaim them rdtherthandestroy them. I demand it in the name and for the honour of that God, who proclaims himself as the God of love, and whose first attribute is mercy. The days of the gibbet are iiurnbered it is already tottering to its fall. I am here to-night to say that I have great hopes in the spirit of progress. It appears to me that that spirit has .drunk deep, of late years, of the streams of civilisation, huma- nity, and Christianity. I regret, as much as one can possibly do, some of the manifestations of that spirit which we have seen; but when I beheld, at a time when the whole French kingdom was convulsed, Lmbrtine and his colleagues uttering such a glorious truth as this—4 Whereas the life of man IS a sacred thins, henceforth the punishment of death shall not be inflicted for any political offences'—when I see the first act of the people of Rome, after they have rolled the Pope's tiara from the eternal city to little Gaeta, is to throw open the dungeons of the Inquisition and abolish that sacred office for ever —when I see these things I think I have reason to rejoipe that the spirit of this age is deeply imbued with the spirit of mercy and Christianity.. It 'will not be long before this spirit demands that the gibbet shall be swept away as a cursed and abhorred thing, and though at its fall some solitary voice (Heaven grant it may not be from the pulpit !) may mourn its overthrow, I am sure it will be welcomed by the rejoicing shouts of thousands upon earth, and these will be joined by the harpings of angel choirs -the burden of their mutual song being that ancient, yet ever new and glorious announcement—' Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth' (continued cheering). i

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