THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE’S ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words OF FOUR MALEFACTORS, VIZ. Of ANNE HULLOCK who was executed at Tyburn, on Saturday the 24th of May, for Murder. Of FRANCIS DAVID STIRN, who died in Newgate, on Friday the 12th of September, being under Sentence of Death for Murder: AND Of WILLIAM ODELL, and JOHN DEMPSY, who were executed on Monday, the September the 15th, 1760.
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THE ORDINARYof NEWGATE'S ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, &c.
BY virtue of the King's commission of the peace, and oyer and terminer, for the city of London, and at the general sessions of gaol delivery of Newgate, holden for the city of London and county of Middlesex at Justice-hall in the Old Baily, before the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Chitty, Knt . Lord Mayor of the said city; the Honourable Sir Michael Forster, Knt . one of the Justices of His Majesty's court of King's Bench ; the Honourable Sir Richard Adams, Knt . one of the Barons of His Majesty's court of Exchequer ; Sir William Moreton, Knt . Recorder of the city of London, and others of His Majesty's Justices of oyer and terminer for the said city and County; on Wednesday the 21st, Thursday the 22d, and Friday the 23d May, 1760, in the 33d Year of His Majesty's reign, Anne Hullock was capitally convicted for the murder of her female bastard child, and sentence being pronounced immediately after her trial and conviction, on Thursday the 22d of May, to be executed at Tyburn on Saturday the 24th, she was accordingly executed.
And by virtue of His Majesty's commission of the peace, &c. holden for the city and county aforesaid, before the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Chitty, Knt . Lord Mayor , &c. the Honourable Mr. Justice Bathurst, one of the Justices of His Majesty's court of Commonpleas; Sir William Moreton, Knt . Recorder , and others of his Majesty's Justices of oyer and terminer, for the said city and county, on Wednesday the 10th, Thursday the 11th, and Friday the 12th of September, 1760.
John Dempsy, William Odell, and Francis David Stirn, were capitally convicted for three several murders, as in their indictments laid: And by their sentence, were ordered for execution on Monday, the 15th of September, and two of them, viz. John Dempsy, and William Odell, were executed on the same day; but Francis David Stirn, dying on Friday, the 12th of September aforesaid, about eleven o'clock at night, by poison, most probably, and the coroner's jury having given a verdict on the body, it was on Monday car
ried to Surgeon's hall, in order to be dissected, pursuant to his sentence.
It appears, from the presentment of the jury of inquest, and from the evidence given on the trial, that this horrid and most unnatural murder was perpetrated at Paddington in Middlesex, in a necessary, or privy-house, belonging to Mrs. Jane Dudman, about three or four o'clock in the morning; where, being alone, she brought forth the child, and then cut the throat of it, with a knife, till the head was almost severed from the body, the wound being three inches broad and four deep. That, in the opinion of a midwife, the child came to the birth, and was born alive. She had been about a fortnight in the said house, as a servant to a gentlewoman who lodged there; was observed to be with child a week before the fact, and taxed with it by Mrs. Dudman; on which occation she owned she never was married. The circumstances, after the fact, looked her in the face of plain and strong, that she could not stand out in denying it, but confessed the whole. The bloody knife was found, the murdered infant was pulled out of the soil, and bled afresh: she owned to the constable, "it was born alive; that she heard it cry;" and the reason she gave for murdering it, was, "because she did not know what to do with it." She confessed to the fame purpose before Justice Fielding. And what shews the fact to be, as emphatically set forth in the indictment, voluntary, and of her malice aforethought, not having God before her eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, she had provided no clothes for it, but owned she intended always to put it in the necessary.”
There aggravations are openly mentioned to deter other sinners, who, by their evil deeds, are, or may be, exposed to the danger or temptation of being betrayed into any like kind, or degree of guilt; demonstrating to them, that it is vain to attempt to hide their guilt and shame, even from the world, much less from the all-feeing eye, by adding one crime to another. The unhappy criminal, thus speedily detected, thus surrounded with the horrors of guilt, was committed to Bridewell. The sessions coming quickly on, before she was able to be brought to trial, it was put off, and she remained there till about May 15th, when she was removed thence to Newgate, in order to take her trial.
The defence she set up at her trial appears to be a kind of retracting what she had consessed when detected and apprehended; for she now pretended she took the knife, not with a design to murder, but to part the burden from the child; and also denied she ever heard the child cry: excuses, which, whether true or false, she did not wholly quit to the last; for, when visited and questioned at the chapel, she used both these pretences, by way of palliation for a crime, which, in its real circumstances, had so monstrous a deformity, so unnatural a horror in it, that she could not bear to look upon it herself, or let it be seen by others in that detestable view.
On this occasion she was warned not to attempt “to dissemble or cloak her sin before the face of Almighty God," or to deceive herself; attempts equally vain and dangerous.
Being then also asked, whether she believed there was proof and evidence of the charge said against her sufficient to convict her, she freely answered, "she did not know how it could be otherwise." In consequence of this ingenuous confession, which afforded some hope that her future behaviour would be equally sincere and consistent, she was most earnestly exhorted to an unfeigned repentance, being duly visited, and assisted by conversation, proper discourses, devotions, and books; to all which she seemed to give serious attention, so as to become daily more sensible of her crime, and exercise an hearty contrition for it. - Being asked how she spent her time in Clerkenwell Bridewell, she said she had been kindly assisted there by some neighbouring matrons, with good prayers, advice and necessaries, and that they continued to assist her even here; but that there was no regular minister to visit her in Bridewell, none being appointed for that place; nor had she seen one during the five weeks she was there confined; but that
several exhorters came and prayed with her, and spoke comfortably to her. She was then questioned why she did not send for a minister of the church of which she professed herself? She answercd, "that they told her she could not have one without paying a deal of money for his coming." A notorious slander, daily confuted by the contrary practice of the parochial clergy; and necessary to be yet more effectually confuted by all, whose lot it is to have prisons in their parishes, for which no chaplain is yet provided by the public charity. Is there no balm in Gilead? Jer. 8. Sure there are still genuine disciples of Him, to whom this prophecy was truly applied: "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isaiah lxi. I. St. Luke iv. 18.
May 17th she was brought up to chapel for the second time, and spoken to before prayers; the deep dye of that unnatural murder she had been guilty of, against: the strongest instinct and tye of nature, (i. e. the God of nature) and the clearest design and appointment of his providence was set before her - that this was expressed in that strong affection and guardian care of the mother, in every species, toward their offspring, and that provision of milk, &c. with which they are furnished for their nourishment: on reminding her of this, she bedewed her face and garment with tears.
She was then directed to read a part of the 9th chapter of Genesis; wherein the same guardian care and protection over the life of man is expressed in the volume of God's revealed will, as in the book of nature; that-fruitfulness, and the means of it, are the effect of the divine blessing, which, by a sad reverse, and perverting of the passions, she had turned into a curse. When she came to the 6th verse, Whose sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man; she seemed to pronounce and feel the sentence of death against: herfelf. 'She again burst into more plentiful tears, and was ready to sink under the apprehension of this divine judgement, often repeating, "Oh that I had known, and thought on this in time. "She was then asked, if she could patiently submit to this sentence and judgement of God? She answered, I do submit. She was then directed to pray daily, that this her first death might be accepted, through the merits of Christ, as a means to save her from the second death; she promised she would pray for this great mercy. At the same time other proper chapters and psalms were pointed out to her; a manuscript prayer for a murderer, properly adapted, was put into her hands, together with an address to prisoners for crimes; and an introduction, to the Holy Communion.
When asked, next day, how she had spent her time, she answered, in reading what she was directed to, and in prayer; and by these means she was much easier, and felt lighter.
In the afternoon she was detained from chapel by some visitors, till sent for; and then they came up with her; they were her brotherin-law, and some good women who kindly contributed to keep her from the commonfide felons.
May 20th she was again more closely examined, whether she had not sinned against strong checks of conscience, in going on in that course of wickedness which led to these shameful circumstances? And were not the checks yet stronger against: committing this rash and dreadful fact? She answered, that she was betrayed into the first by promises of marriage; that she was very ill in body, uneasy in mind, and almost: stupid and insensible when she committed the last: and worst fact; after which she was seized with horror, which continued long upon her, and was not much lightened till Saturday or Sunday last.
At different times, she gave the following account of herself; that she was twenty-three years of age in August, 1759, born at great Tower-hill. Her father was a packing porter to the East-India-house, and died when she was about eight years of age; her mother worked hard to maintain this, and another sister, twenty months elder; had her taught to read well and work with her needle, till about eleven or twelve years of age, when she was put out to serve a friend in that neighbourhood, where she lived about two years, till her mother's
death. From thence she removed to a service in Goodman's-fields, for two years and a quater; then lived a year and quarter with Mrs. L - r - ce, a schoolmistress, near Aldgate; and from thence went to live at Mitcham in Surry, as a servant to Mrs. S - v - ny, a leather-dresser, for almost a year; during which she was seduced by J - ph H - d, a fellow-servant, to be lewd, on repeated promises of marriage. She left Mitcham near a year ago, and was ill at her sister's for some time; but still took opportunities to keep company with the person aforesaid; but she cannot say he knew her to be with child. About fix weeks before this fatal fact, she went to live with Mrs. PG - se, of Soho Square, but who lodged at Padington when this affair happened. Being asked how she came to be discovered? She answered, that she had called up the maidservant of the family where she lodged, about four in the morning; (it appears also on her trial, that she had awakened and alarmed the mistress) this early alarm from her illness, in she suspected condition she was in, caused further suspicion and search, which discovered the whole matter.
After an impartial and candid trial, she was found guilty; and Mr. Recorder having made an earnest and pathetic exhortation, representing to her the heinousness of her most monstrous crime, so contrary to that strong love toward their offspring, which the Author of Nature has given to the brute creation, aggravated by her neglect of the charitable provision made for both mother and child, in this christian land; and moving her to exercise a most serious repentance suitable to her offence; judgment was pronounced in a full court, deeply affected; so that in the general silence and awe which attended it, each one seemed to join in that companssionate and significantly servent prayer, with which the decree for the dissolution of the body is concluded; - The Lord have mercy upon your Soul.
So confounded and thunder-struck was she at receiving sentence, that she was scarce able to move from the bar; for even when arraigned she fobbed and caught her breath,asif foretasting the death she expected. Impatient to be visited as she was, and in extreme need of consolation and support, I went to her on the first opportunity of admission which the keepers employment in court would allow: When brought out of the cell she had all the dread and horrors of her sentence upon her: She looked earnestly up toward Heaven, she wrung her hands, she wept, and wailed afresh, as if this stroke had come sudden and unexpected upon her. She said, when asked, 'tis true, I had reason to expect this, but never thought of it before, as I now do, when it is actually come upon me. 'Tis true you never confidered it, nor realized this dreadful scene before I You had not the fear of God before your eyes.
When taken apart and examined why she had not applied to some good person for admission to a proper hospital? &c. she declared she was not sure, nor believed sh was so far gone, nor above six months pregnant, being ignorant of the signs, as this was her first time. O! said she, had I known and considered my cafe, I had rather have begged from door to door with my child at my back, than to have done as I did.
She was charged in the midst of this lamenting and excusing herself, to make no false pretences, but to be sincere in her acknowledgement and repentance; she promised she would be so: and then very earnestly joined in prayer for about half an hour; after which she seemed much composed, expressing great hope that her repentance would be accepted, and her sins pardoned; and then desired to be visited again early next morning. She acknowledged, when asked, that she had never been confirmed, nor received the holy communion.
May 23, she was visited and prayed with this morning, in which she humbly and heartily joined; she said she had been reading and praying in her cell till five this morning, when her candle went out, and she had slept quietly for some time, that she felt comfort in her mind, and a hope of mercy; particularly she had read part of the book of Deuteronomy, and St. Matthew's Gospel, and also read over the Introduction to the Lord's Supper, in order to receive the same.
When visited again this day for an hour or two, several others attended and prayed with and for her, with servent charity. She now
declared herself so reconciled and resigned to her lot, that she was easy if the time was come this very evening; she was reminded then that she had not yet communicated, and to prepare for it. She was asked if she knew what hunger and thirst are? So ought your soul to hunger and thirst, for that spiritual food you are now invited to; she answered, it was so with her. From five to near seven the same evening, she was again visited, and instructed in the words of our catechism, which explain all requisites to the holy communion, and prayed with.
At this time there was a very affecting interview, between herself and her own sister, who came with an infant in her arms, to take her last farewel; which is better imagined than described. She often wished she had known her duty to God in the time of her liberty, for then she should not have thus fallen! She earnestly warned all to profit by her sufferings, and avoid the snares she fell into. She forgave the partner of her shame and guilt, and prayed God to pardon him.
On the Morning of EXECUTION.
SHE went up to chapel, and before, as well as after divine service, answered some questions relating to her crime, to the same effect as they appeared on her trial; adding this with: O that the person who called to me going down stairs had come to me in that lucky moment, or that any one had ever put it home to me, I could not have stood in a lye, but must have told the truth. Being asked, why she had provided no clothes? She answered, her sister found a stay and a forehead-cloth in her box after she was taken up. She also declared, that her seducer was fled from his mistress on this occasion, where he had lived since the age of five years; and that he was the first and the only one who had ever thus seduced her, and that, by promises of marriage without number.
And let the worst of sinners be encouraged to a quick and timely repentance, by what she farther declared; that, she believed and felt God's pardoning mercy, and found greater comfort and hope in her soul than ever before. That she was patient and resigned, had slept two or three hours about midnight, and read, and prayed whenever she awaked.
After she had received the holy communion, she heartily wished she had thus done her duty with due preparation before, for then she was sure she should have escaped this snare; but she hoped the snare was now broken and her soul delivered; for she had uncommon comfort, behaved with remarkable composure, and calm resignation to the last. She took the opportunity of every moment for prayer, and joined in the usual and proper devotions at the place of execution; where, having also repeated the belief, she declared her lively hope that she was a partaker of the benefit of it, and that through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ she should be saved. Amen.
2. Francis David Stirn, late of the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn, was indicted for the wilful murder of Richard Matthews, of the same parish, by shooting him with a certain pistol charged with gunpowder, and one leaden bullet, in the left breast, four inches below the collar-bone, August 15.
When arraigned, on Wednesday, Sept. 10, he appeared composed, and decently habited in black, for the sad occasion; but, contrary to the general expectation, and his own most public declarations, even in print, since his consinement, he pleaded not guilty; and then addressed the court, that his trial might be put off till Friday the 12th. This, tho' no reason was offered for it, and several might have been urged against it, was, with humanity and condescension, granted.
But when he appeared again on Friday to take his trial, he had varied his dress (for no apparent reason) to that of a green night-gown; and it is said, he was advised, on this occasion,
by some under-casuists in the prison, to "sham madness:" but this, he is said, to have rejected and disdained as an artifice, notwithstanding lunacy was pleaded in his defence. The following account, the most authentic that could be collected, may give some light into his real character and state of mind.
Francis David Stirn was born in the principality of Hesse-Cassel, being now about twentyfive years of age; his father is said to have been a minister; her brother is now a metropolitan minister at Hersfelds, i. e. a superintendent over the clergy of a certain district of the Calvinist persuasion and discipline; tho' they chuse rather to stile themselves the reformed, in contradistinction to the Lutherans. They differ from most of our domestic dissenters, in that they use forms of continued prayer, without responses; and they also use church music.
The first school he went to was a gymnasium, or public grammar-school in Hesse-Cassel, where he made a considerable progress; whence he was removed to the gymnasium, or college of the city of Bremen, endowed with professorships as an university. Here he became a tutor to the son of a doctor of laws, and a burgher of that city, of the name of Hallar - But here, by an unhappy turn of mind towards groundless suspicions, the object of which were his patron and his spouse, he forfeited their favour, and was dismissed from that station. During his studies here, he was exercised in preaching some probationary discourses, agreeable to the custom of the place.
After this he returned to his brother, who placed him at the university of Rintelen, belonging to Hesse, where he pursued his studies from the year 1756 till the middle of 1758. During this time he made a great proficiency in the Latin classics, above his years, and attained to a very improveable knowledge in the Greek and Hebrew, tho' not so extensive as that of the Latin; he became well skilled and practised both in vocal and instrumental music, fencing, and other genteel accomplishments.
A custom highly improper in itself, and often unhappy in its consequences, obtains in that, and most of the other universities of Germany, of permitting the wearing swords to the young students, and even using them frequently in duelling, without any other penalty than a slight pecuniary mulct, unless death ensue.
On the irruption of the French into the principality of Hesse, and by oppressive contributions exacted upon the inhabitants, his brother was incapacitated to assist him as usual; and therefore thought proper to send him to England, with strong recommendations to a friend here in a station of honour and interest; on which occasion, no opportuninity offering immediately, to place him agreeable to the wishes of his friends, he was recommended by the Reverend Mr. P - a, to succeed himself as an assistant to Mr. C - d in his school; Mr. P - a being preferred to an office in the British Musum. It was further intended that he should assist the German minister , in the chapel of the reformed (so called) at the Savoy; in order to which, he preached there thrice, to the great approbation of the minister; tho' his elegance of sentiments and expression might not be so striking to the audience, especially as he used notes, which they do not approve of.
He once chose to preach on the words of Solomon, “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour." One of those excellencies which he recounted, among many others was the mastery over his passions, by the want of which, he himself, is so lamentably fallen. In the interval of these probationary discourses, again taking up some strange and unreasonable suspicions against Mr. P - a and his congregation, defeated him in his prospect of succeedingon this occasion. After, which his mind turned towards a military life, for which he seemed formed by nature, as he himself has expressed his opinion since his fatal crime, lamenting at the same time, that he did not embrace some offer made him to that purpose; for in that case, said he, this unhappy affair might never have happened. - However he was strongly dissuaded from this way of life by his sagacious friends, foreseeing and predicting that his extravagant spirit not permitting him to submit to any superior in the way of discipline and obedience, would bring him under a military sentence.
After this, he turned his thoughts toward entering into one of our universities, by the assistance and interest of several of the reverend clergy, viz. Dr. A - n, Mr. P - ll and Mr. L - e, to whom he was recommended by Mr. C - d for that purpose. - But here also his groundless jealousies once more intervened to overset this scheme. This is said to have impelled him to utter some threats against those gentlemen for disappointing him, as he chose to express it.
Soon after this, and about a year since, his acquaintance with Mr. M - s began about which time he took it into his head to commence musician , together with teaching the classics, by the advice of Mr. M - s, who imagining him to be ill-treated by Mr. C - d, persuaded him to set up for himself in these branches.
Presently after his going to live with Mr. M - s, he found some pieces of bread in the dining-room, left by a child of the family; on which he concluded, that they were placed as reproachful expressive emblems of his poverty, and subsisting on the fragments of charity. On this trisling incident, with his own deep and ingeniously mischievous comment upon it, he ran up stairs and rapped suddenly and loud at Mr. M -s's chamber door, calling out, Mr. M - s! On being assured he was not there, he insisted on the door being opened, on which Mrs. M - s put on her clothes (it being eleven at night) and came out, asking him what he wanted? And what he meant by such behaviour? He answered, he sought Mr. M - s, and knew he was in the room. - At this instant Mr. M - s himself knocked at the street door; on his entrance, Mr. Stirn, in a furious manner, charged him with the affront before-mentioned. - But on their assuring him that the bread was carried there by the child, he was pacified for that time. Next day he waited on Mr. C - n, in order to praise and extol the patience of Mr. and Mrs. M - s, for so kindly passing over this fantastic behaviour of the preceding night.
During his residence at Mr. M - s's, he was by fits so visibly and remarkably pious, both in his reading and conversation, that he was there reproached with the name of a Whitfieldite.
In his reading the classics, he used to mark the virtuous sentiments and expressions, as well as the contrary, and committed both to memory; and would point out the one, or the other, according to his present caprice. - At some times, he was low and vulgar in his conversation, but only to those who, he thought, had offered him any indignity; and at other times, he was delicate to an extreme, so as not to bear the least deviation from it.
A gentleman who well knew the strange extravagant inconsistences in his character, used frequently to compare him to Catiline, which he did not seem displeased with, unless urged in resentment; and to verify the comparision, he himself would add, that one day he would perform a seat, which would make the city of London ring of his same.
He one day set out with Mr. C - d, and a Prussian gentleman, to dine at a Dutch merchant's, (Mr. V - t) at Mouswell-hill: in the way thither he quitted his company; and, by crossing the fields, got to the house before them; here he fell into some dispute with the merchant, called him a fool, and provoked the gentleman to have him put out of his gate by his servants, before his companions had go: thither.
On their arrival, the gentleman said to them here has been that mad-man Stirn. And on his return, and afterwards meeting his company at home, he charged them with having been there before him, and concealed in another room, and that he heard them rejoicing and laughing excessively, at the disgrace that was done him! So fruitful was his mind of imaginary affronts, that he might be stiled the Self-Tormentor.
This may suffice to give a general idea of this youth, relative to his birth, education, temper, and unhappy turn of mind. Let us now view him after the crime and his commitment. Having some intimation of the crime and character of the prisoner, and his several attempts on his own life, I hafted to visit him; found him walking in the Press-yard, apparently much
disordered and agitated in his mind, viewed him with horror and compassion, and said to him, after condoling with him in his sad situation - How could you do so horrid a deed? - At once take another's life and attempt your own? - Do not you know that every man is the image of his Maker: - How dare you to deface that image without his authority? - He stood silent; but on urging the same questions again, - he answered, with settled anguish in his face, - "Passion is ever an enemy to reason.”
On this occasion he entered into the rise and progress of the quarrel with Mr. M - s and himself, nearly as it afterwards appeared on his trial - Owned he had challenged him to fight, and, because he would not meet him, took this revenge. - He now acknowledged he could not bear the thoughts of the punishment to be inflicted for 1t; intimating, that he therefore attempted his own life.
He was therefore earnestly beseeched to recollect and return to those good and rational principles which he must have received in a christian and learned education, - intreated not to give himself up to despair and its effects! But remember, bad as his lot is at present, it may become worse, to a degree now inconceivable to us and therefore to think of the means of redeeming the past transgressions, with his future better thoughts, and behaviour. - When I recommended prayer and reading to him, he asked for Sherlock upon death, which I had not, but lent him a bible and prayer book, and pointed out proper places to him. - He desired also to have Young's Night Thoughts lent him.
Next morning I had some farther discourse with him, wherein he said, he was educated in calvinism, but willingly conformed to our church; but explained some opinions which he held not only contrary to our doctrine, but to the express words of scripture, to which I referred, and repeated to him.
He owned, that he firmly believed the resurrection of the body, and a future state of rewards and punishments; but yet I found he was warped by some Socinian tenets.- I perceived, however; his strongest error of mind, was his pride, vainglory, and idolizing his honour; to remove which, earnest prayer was recommended to him, and the words of Our blessed Saviour, St. Matthew the 18th. chap, and 3d. ver. - "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," were pointed out to him. As also his divine example, and the patience of Job, and other good men of all ages, in suffering, whether deservedly or not, was let before him; especially that pious resolution of Job, 14th chap. 14th ver. "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come," - in hopes to cure him of the very thoughts of suicide.
Yet so strong was his conviction of his crime, or rather his despair and pride combined, that he seemed determined to put an end to his own life by one means or other; if not by his own hand, yet by a firm resolution of starving himself to death; and he endeavoured to justify this, because as he had forfeited his life, to the law of both God and man, and that it was not lawful even for the government to pardon him; he argued with all the sophistry that his learning and pride could suggest, that he might inflict death on himself by any means in his power. - When urged with proofs the shew that his life was not in his own power, that as he did not, could not give it to himself, so, neither had he a right to take it away. - He still answered, would you persuade me to the gallows? No! but I persuade you to patience and submission, to that divine and human power you have offended, as the only means of pardon and peace: What is time with all its changes and chances, of shame and suffering, when compared to eternity? &c.
During the service of the day, I explained and applied, 2 Kings, chap. ix. and I Peter ii. to him; shewing, that Ahab's family, and Jezebel, both suffered for murder, according to God's express decree and prediction. And that it is our indispensible duty as Christians, to follow the example of Christ in suffering patiently, even for well doing, much more for evil doing.
Wednesday, August. 20th, he was visited for the first time by Mr. C - d, who was utterly melted into a flood of tears at the fight of him,, observing him loaded with fetters, and so greatly altered and emaciated by falling. - This
gentleman told me, he believes and thinks he can demonstrate him to be mad; not only from his own observation, but from concurrent evidence of gentlemen of the faculty, and others. Yet thinks him not a safe member of society as neither could he vouch for himself; for when that very question was put to him by Mr. C - d, Whether if his life were spared, he thought he should be guilty of the like again? he answered, God only knows that, whether he should or no!
When Mr. C - d first entered, Mr. Stirn stood motionless for some time, looking exceedingly wild and ghastly; and at last said, Come, Sir, behave like a man, what is past is irrevocable. - I have nothing now left but to make my peace with God, who has justly brought me hither. - I lament my rashness. - I am terribly wrecked, when I reflect upon the scene I have acted! -The thought of launching Mr. M - s, into eternity, in the midst of passion, and without a moment's preparation, fills my soul with horror!
I am thankful to the Almighty, for having delivered me from the like calamity. - I am now convinced, he cares for his creatures, and particularly directs the actions of them. - I now feel his grace is alone sufficient to keep us from falling. - I forgive all my enemies, whether real or imaginary. - Oh! Sir! Sir! I know not whether I have not committed as great a sin in abusing your goodness towards me, and in wickedly suspecting my father, my benefactor, and my friend, (for you have been all these to me) of every thing that was bad. - Here he burst into an agony, and presently fell to the ground weeping and sighing exceedingly. - After he was raised up, he repeated several times to Mr. C - d, Will you forgive me? Can you forgive me? On being answered in the affirmative, he replied, Then I die in peace; pray with me! Oh! pray with a wretched sinner. After we had prayed, being greatly affected with sorrow for the cause of his grief, and joyful at the extraordinary appearance of repentance discovered in him, Mr. C - d took his leave, intreating him, for God's fake to eat his victuals; to which he replied, he could not, but would drink some coffee, or a glass of wine.
The next day Mr. C - d visited him again; and when he persisted to assert the lawfulness of his dispatching himself, when he was assured he must otherwise suffer death by others, was answered, Though there was no reason to doubt it, yet you can never be so assured trill the rope is about your neck. - On mentioning the rope, he immediately started; and with great fury replied, "You are not, you cannot be my friend. - What, would you persuade me to the gallows; no, no, I don't go to the gallows like a calf, as you brutally carry, poor criminals; and then burst into, a fit of laughter. Mr. C - d then told him, that if he was placed in his unhappy situation, he would patiently submit to any death, even to be dragged by a horse's tail, and would, with his latest breath, pronounce the justice of his punishment.-
"Oh! (said Stirn) Sir, your conscience and mine are very different." - "Pray Sir (said he) how came you to tell me, in the fields, that you discovered I had some bad design?" He was answered by his having a very remarkable and frightful countenance. - "Why, (said Stirn) that was the mark impressed upon the countenance of Cain:- and how came you, who are a long-headed man, not to know it, and prevent my intention?" - Upon Stirn's asking this extraordinary question, he was desired to recollect, that he had never intimated his intention to fight, much less to murder Mr. M - s: - True, true, (said he) I was falling into my old error of suspicion," and immediately desired "never more to speak of the gallows, for that it should never happen."
The next Sunday evening, he was accompanied to chapel by Mr. C - d and Mr. C - n, where he behaved with decency and devotion for some part of the time, till the sermon was to begin, and then went out of the chapel, and stood behind the rails for awhile, but afterwards returned to his feat, His discourse in his chamber with the same gentlemen, after service seemed to flow from a disordered mind, repeating his unreasonable suspicions of some of his best friends.
In some succeeding conversations, he expressed the following sentiments. That the company of wicked and ignorant beings, seemed to him, most intolerable; for that the brutish and horrid behaviour of his fellowprisoners, was his greatest torment. From whence he concluded, that, when he should be separated from his present body, his soul would be assigned to an association with beings, whose delights consisted in the contemplation of wisdom and virtue.
The day before his trial, he seemed very penitent, and with great appearance of devotion, desired to be prayed by; and accordingly, upon addressing God to bring him to a proper sense of his guilt, and patience to submit to whatever he mould think fit to lay on him, - he hastily interrupted, saying, the prayer was not adapted to his mind, for that he would beseech him to pardon his weakness, and tho’ he should seem in the eye of the world to act wrong, he would, for the goodness of his intention, pardon him. - Hereupon, he was told that he still entertained the same horrid notion of self-murder, and the Almighty neither would, nor should, be addressed in so impious a manner; therefore exhorted him to join in praying sincerely to God, to deliver him from so strong a delusion. The substance of several of his conversations with Mr. C - d have been thrown together, tho’ other things intervened, which shall now be resumed.
So intent was he upon compassing this impious and unnatural purpose of suicide, from the first of his consinement, that when he was disappointed of other means, he abstained from all food, except a few liquids, with amazing obstinacy, in defiance of every persuasive that could be urged, and every bait that could be devised, even by his fellow-prisoners eating before him, and offering him a part of their food frequently, in hopes to break his resolution. Among other motives, he was reminded by me, that this part of his conduct would render him more inexcusable in the other; for had he used half the resolution to subdue his passions of anger and revenge, as he now did to gratify his pride, he might have avoided his present sad situation. He was farther pressed to consider how he could answer before the supreme Judge, for dreading worldly shame more than the vengeance threatened to the violation of the divine law; he made no direct answer, but said, he hoped God would save him from this great ignominy to which he must come if he lived.
About the 21st. of August, his cell, in which he had hitherto lodged, was changed for a chamber, by the assistance of some friends; and the same day, two German gentlemen, one of them a clergyman of the Lutheran chapel at St James's, with two ladies, visited him, at the request of some of his friends and relations; but could make no better impression on him in this respect, tho' they all joined to dissuade him from starving himself, or being accessary to his own death; and agreed with me, in assuring him, that such a thought, or practice, is utterly inconsistent with natural morality, much more with christianity, or any, degree of true repentance. But to demonstrate his inconsistency, in the mean time he read Tillotson's sermons on repentance, &c. and other pious books, in his own, and our language, day and night, till he had scarce strength to walk, fit, or kneel; or attention to regard what was spoken or read to him, much less to go up to the chapel.
August 22d. When it was apprehended, that by these means, he could not live to be tried, it was suggested by a sagacious gentleman of the law, to treat him as they do lunatics in Bedlam, who refuse to eat or take medicines, (a common case) by forcing their food, or physic, into them; which, if done, might surely have been brought in evidence to support the defence of lunacy set up for him.
But instead of this, it was thought proper he should be acquainted by me, from authority, that if he were by any means accessary to his own death, he should be tried and found guilty of self-murder, on sufficient evidence to be produced from his own declarations, and attempts, and behaviour, and then be buried, with all the marks of infamy, according to law; with this addition, that a monument of stone should be erected, inscribed with his name and crimes at large, to defeat his purpose of evadeing public justice, and perpetuate his insamy.
This message was delivered to him in the softest and gentlest terms it would bear, and I could chuse, intreating his pardon, and acquainting him, that it was intended to save him from a greater degree of reproach to himself and family in this world, and from sure misery in the next; and that it was vain for him to persist in his purpose, for that "means, would be used by authority," (without descending to the particulars aforesaid) to defeat him! At this he started sudden, sat up in his bed, starirtg sierce; will they? said he, I will try that! rolling his eyes, and seeming to meditate some desperate attempt. Mr. A - k - n and Mr. Ch - n were present, or I know not what the consequence might have been. Immediately I thought to allay his rising fury, by adding, "do not mistake me, Sir, no personal force is intended, but only to dissuade you from bringing a greater, and more lasting infamy on yourself and family, than you could do by submitting to the law." On this he quickly lay down again. He was prayed for, both in the chapel, and in his chamber several times, this day, in hopes to bring him to a better mind. And tho' he persisted in the determined practice, yet he often possessed to renounce the principle in speculation; as may more fully be collected not only from some conversations I had with him, but also from his letter to Mrs. M - s, and his penitential elegiac verses, both presented to the public by the Gazetteer.
To give another proof of his self-contradiction, he declared to me, that he lately believed the sum of his duty consisted in a good moral behaviour; and in this persuasion he did behave so; and tho' he had often read and heard about grace, the holy spirit, and the assistances thereof, he had no expectation or opinion of it, for himself, and thought that any such profession, belief, hope, or expectation in others, was the effect of bigotry, hypocrisy, and enthusiasm; - but professed, he is now thoroughly convinced of his error in this respect, that he is persuaded he fell into the crime he has been guilty of, for want of the grace of God, and the aid of his Holy Spirit. - He acknowledged that he is persuaded there are many abuses of this doctrine, and many false pretences to it; but this doth not dissuade him from believing the reality and necessity of it. Let any one try to reconcile this with the design or act of suicide, to which there is not any temptation from nature, or right reason; and to which the dictates of grace are directly contrary.
It is not without reason inferred, that the poison with which he is believed to have destroyed himself, was promised him, or in his profession the day he began to eat, viz. Friday the 22d of August; because he was heard to say, that if he had not some comfort brought him, he never would have eaten, for that however strictly watched and guarded, "he could have poison here for money." And he usually burst into loud fits of laughter, on such occations.
It is also very probable he made some attempts to poison himself the day before sessions; he kept his bed, looked pale, his eyes rolled in his head. - He had been reaching to puke the preceding night and morning, and when gentleman, whom he frequently sent for, came to him, and observed all the symptoms, he shook his head at him, saying, Oh Sir, Sir, you have been doing something! To which he replied, he had been ill, and earnestly asked for an apothecary or surgeon to be sent for to him. So fixed was his determination to destroy himself, that he said, if no other means would do, he would either tear out his heart, or beat his brains out, rather than go to the gallows. - He had also devised other expedients to prevent it, by sharpening a long nail, which he picked out of the partition of his chamber, or even by a pin. - The same resolution also appears, from a piece of glass casually espied, by one of the runners during the first week of his confinement, which (tho' he endeavoured to cover, and held it in his hand) was immediately forced from him, and found to be a slender piece about three or four inches long with a point exceeding sharp, with which, he owned, he could have opened any veinhe had, when he thought proper, and had concealed it in his wig, notwithstanding several strict searches made of him.
It was immediately carried to Mr. A - n. He said then, that he had other means of concealing things, which he promised to discover, for preventing the like practice in others; but never did.
It was not mentioned in the proper place, that on his first confinement, The whole duty of man was put into his hands; and on my next visit, asking him how he liked it, he answered, he was much pleased to meet it, being an old acquaintance, for he had seen it translated into different languages, as Latin, German, &c. on account of its excellent matter and stile; he observed also, that the English language was more esteemed by foreigners than the French. This testimony, from an ingenious and learned classic scholar, no way partial to us, is a pointed satire, on that preference here given to the French language; even among those lower ranks of our people, who can neither read nor speak their own with propriety. So low indeed is this taste descended, that in the common course of things, like other French modes, it must soon change for another, and it is to be hoped, a better salhion.
This will apologize for my taking one step out of my way, to propose a short problem in political arithmetic, viz. How many English persons of each sex, do we compute to be supported in France, for teaching the English language? And vice versa, How many French persons of each sex, are supported in England for teaching the French? And what is the true ballance of trade on this article for words, and permit me to add, what is conveyed, by words; intelligence? A second question is, how many boarding schools in France, advertise both in print, and golden capitals over their houses, to teach English? And vice versa, as before. 'Tis humbly expected, and desired that the trading, travelling, and political part of the nation, will join in making an exact calculation, and striking a ballance in these articles.
In free conversation, Stirn thought he drew a natural picture of himself, tho' certainly not a delicate, nor, perhaps, a true one, when he said he had the disposition of a dog, faithful to those whom he took liking to, but eagerly and vengefully pursuing those who offended him.
In the course of Mr. C - d’s evidence relating to him, he is said to have attempted his own life about Christmas last; but this attempt, by his own confession, was not confined to himself, for he intended at the same time to have shot a Prussian gentleman whom he suspected to have prejudiced him in Mr. C - d’s esteem; but was providentially prevented, by an accident in loading the pistols, one of the balls sticking by the way broke the rammer; on which he immediately fell down on his knees, and glorified God who had saved him. from this danger.
His after-conduct in relapsing into the like behaviour to another and himself, and on his missing himself with a pistol, often returning hearty thanks to God again, in the hours of his cool reflection; and yet again persisting in his arguments and attempts to that purpose till he effected it, are as strong inconsistencies as can well be imagined; unless we add his prosessing to believe the holy scriptures, and at the same time disregarding, and acting contrary to some of the most necessary and essential precepts and examples therein established and set forth, particularly the sixth commandment, and the example of our blessed Saviour.
As I often enquired of one of his fellow-prisoners, appointed to watch, and be in the chamber with him, what his behaviour was; he sometimes told me he prayed very earnestly, and then read most part of the night, and after that, got him to read; but in general, he said, he was very apt to fly out, which he explained, to be out of his mind. Other prisoners, who observed him in the Press-yard, confirmed this from several instances; one of which, was his laughing at the hopes of starving himself to death. Among other instances, the watcher said, he furiously attacked him one night, because he deprived him of knives, forks, and other offensive instruments, so desperately, that he was obliged to strike him down on the bed, and when he found himself overpowered, he begged that Mr. A - n might not hear any thing of it; apprehending he should be chained down in a cell. Yet so captious, suspicious and quarrelsome was he, that his chum had little ease or sleep in the room with him; and he, with some other prisoners expected to
be brought into court, to testify what they knew of his supposed infancy. - This notwithstanding, his sensible and devout behaviour at some times, gave me strong hopes that he would recover and keep his right mind, and die a penitent. About Aug, 30, he appeared more easy, chearful and composed than usual; said, he found hopeful comfort in his prayer, and though his load of guilt was not quite removed, yet he was more attached to God than ever; declared, he had changed his purpose to be any way accessary to his own death; and did not fear any punishment man could inflict. And as he made frequent excuses for not going to chapel, I took an opportunities to pray with him in his chamber, in which he sometimes kneeled and joined fervently, at other times, stood, fat, or laid in bed, as his disposition or strength would bear; in all which he had his own way.
On occasion or some Hebrew Words that occurred in Hosea, chap. ii. 1st and 16th verses, being the lesson for the day, we fell into conversation concerning his knowledge in that ancient language, and found him rather grammatically than extensively skilled in it. He said, he had only construed the Psalms and the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, in the Hebrew; he commended the practice of learning it without points, as he heard the method is here in England.
I have heard him also much admired by the learned, for his accurate and masterly skill in the Latin classics, and his just and enlarged observations on them; but his unhappy situation, since he became known to me, gave no opportunity for amusing ourselves in that charming field of knowledge. However he had collected some flowers from, thence to adorn the walls of his chamber, such as,
O mehi prteritos referat fi Jupiter annos!
Sperat insestis Metuit secundis Alteram sortem Bene prparatum pectus. HOR.
Pope. What’s same? A fancied life in other’s breath.
STIRN. Whats shame? A fancied death in others breath.
Under which parody of his on Pope, were scratched out a gallows to the left hand, and a cross to the right, with these two mottos made English; under the gallows, In hoc signo perdes, in this sign you will lose, and under the cross, In hoc signo vinces, in this sign you will conquer, but he did not fulfill his own prediction. - For neither did he take up this banner of conquest, the cross, so as manfully to overcome in it; nor did the gallows take up him, so as to lose (his life) on it. On the outside of the wall of the cells in the Press-yard, he had written in red chalk,
"O Lucifer, son of the morning, how art thou brought down to hell! to the sides of this pit."
He assured me, he sometimes spent whole hours in sighing and deploring his sad fate, crying, alas! my hard lot.
He now and then expressed an earnest desire to have the holy communion administered to him; but as this could not be done, till he gave proofs of an hearty repentance for the past, and stedfast good purposes for the future; he was answered, it would be equally desirable to me, to find him prepared to receive so great a blessing: but his secret thoughts of suicide, appearing by plain-signs, and at length breaking out into action, prove him wholly unprepared.
During his trial, which lasted about four hours, he appeared weak and ready to saint; on which he was indulged with a seat, and several refreshments: his taking some of these, immediately after sentence was pronounced, occasioned a strong surmise and report, that he took the mortal dose there; but this will appear improbable, from what shall be farther offered.
When, after sentence passed in a most solemn, serious, affecting, and companionate manner, he prayed the Court, that he might be allowed to go in the coach with the clergyman, to the place of execution, he was answered, that was in the Sheriffs breast, but by the court judged contrary to the intent of the law for distinguishing murderers, by a more exemplary punishment than other crimes, therefore not proper to be recommended to the Sheriffs.
How far this refusal might determine a person of his capricious, and irritable temper, to rush on the fatal exit he made, is left to the conjecture of the intelligent reader and observer of the preceding part of this account; from whence it may appear, he wanted, no blass toward such a determination, but every possible weight of argument, motive, and persuasion against it.
He was quickly after this, visited and prayed with, and spoken to in his chamber, together with one of his fellow-convicts, Odell, two of his countrymen being present. Stirn promised to renounce all thoughts of destroying himself, and submit to the execution of his Sentence, if it pleased God he should live to the day, but should accept it as a singular mercy to be taken out of this life before that.
Tho’ he had all along declared himself satisfied with my assistance without any other, he now desired to be visited also by a clergyman of his own language, country and mode of worship; saying, it was more natural and affecting to him: This I looked on as a good symptom, and heartily concurred in it. His countrymen, at his request, promised to send him a particular gentleman whom he named, (Capson, if I mistake not:) this was about two at noon, when he seemed hearty and welldisposed, without the least apparent symptoms or suspicion of poison.
After prayer, and a proper application to each on their crime, which they heard with attention, and seeming patience, Odell answered with calmness and courage, that he thanked God he was innocent of what he was to die for. On which Stirn observed, if he was convicted only on circumstances, the highest probability was full of uncertainties.
When I went to visit them again, about six the same evening, I met in the Press-yard a person waiting to go up to Stirn, who said he was a German minister, and the same Stirn had sent for; on asking his name, he answered Stapel, to which I replied, Capson was the name he mentioned to me; he said, I am the man; I examined yet closer, and found him a man of letters, and was told he had visited Stirn two or three times before, on which he went up with me to his chamber. He was now lying on his bed, and by his restless and uncommon behaviour, seemed uneasy at my presence; he hussed his chamber fellow M'D - l out of the room; and then said to me, I pay for my room, what business have you here, prying with your suspicions? You suspected me with a young woman, who came about business the other day. Surprized at this unexpected behaviour, this undeserved reproach, I turned to the minister (whose exhortation and prayer he had interrupted to affront me thus) and said to him, "certe omnino fallitur, indeed he is quite mistaken," and immediately quitting the room, I went home much dispirited with grief and companssion.
It was above an hour after, when a gentleman who came in from the court, alarmed me with the report which had been carried there, in a quarter of an hour after I left him, "that he was dead or dying of poison;" and that Mr. Sheriff and Mr. A - n had forthwith gone to his chamber and found him so. It was said by another, that tile German minister aforesaid, who was with him on their entrance, hurried away in a great fright; left, as I was well informed, "he should be taken and hanged in his stead." On asking how such a strange fear could come into his head I was answered, because he had lived under an arbitrary government, where such a thing might be done.
When viewed by the Sheriff, &c. he was not then convulsed as reported, but rather inclining to be stupified. He was asked, and earnestly pressed to declare, whether he had taken poison, but was so artfully cautious as to evade giving a direct answer. An apothecary being sent for he was let blood, but still grew worse.
When I went up to him, after these gentlemen were gone, it was about nine, he was pale and speechless, with his jaw fallen, and his eyes turned up. Mr. Ak - n, with surgeon Bl - n, quickly after came up, and tried to make him throw up the poison, but in vain, he only foamed at the nose and mouth.
During this interval, I saw in his room a manuscript copy, which seemed a poem in the German language and letter, which in the concern for him, I neglected for the present;
but suppose it to be the same which was afterwards given by some officious person to the printer of the Gazetteer, and by him printed in German and English, as the work of Stirn, of which I knew nothing, pro or con; but find now in the said Gazetteer, of the 23d of Sept. claimed to be Mr. Stapel’s aforesaid. - Let those who know, decide this controversy.
The surgeon being asked his opinion what the poison was, seemed to think from the effects, that it was opium, as also because a piece of the same, as big as a little-finger, was then said to be found on his table: there was also flour on a paper, with which it was thought some arsnic was mixt. That gentleman being farther asked, how long he might live, supposing he had taken opium? he answered, that was according to the quantity he took; that it would begin to operate by stupefaction in a quarter of an hour, and finish him in five or six hours. It was then strongly suspected, that the person who appeared as a German minister, by the name of Stapel, was more likely a quack who brought him this dose, which seemed to be favoured by his sudden getting away; and great concern was expressed by Mr. Ak - n, that in the hurry they had let him escape. However this may be, I am since well informed, that he is a minister from Prussia, come to sollicit a collection for his suffering countrymen.
Stirn is said to have expired the same night, about five minutes before eleven. After he was known to be dead, he was laid across the bed, with his face toward the floor, to bring up what he had taken; when a quantity of water discoloured, brown, as if with opium, was discharged from his stomach. It has been since told me, that the handkerchief with which his mouth and nose were wiped while struggling, being casually used by M'D - l to his own face, had raised a stinging pain thereon; whence he suspected arsnic mixt with the opium.
The specimens already given of his temper and behaviour, both before and after his consinement, may be deemed sufficient to form a judgment of the rest, many of which must be omitted. In a word, his jealousies, suspicions, and resentments, were without bounds; his opinions, however wrong and dangerous, were not to be moved by reason, or even by divine authority, tho' he would seem to acknowledge the power of both. Tho' unanswerably confuted, he was neither convinced nor persuaded, verifying that maxim.
"He that's convinced against his will
"Is of his own opinion still.
"Tho' very ingenious, of fine address, and adorned with most agreeable accomplishments, yet in many points he was utterly irrational and inconsistent with himself; with all his piety and devotion at some times, he was profane and impious at others; and with all his love of virtue, and even the practice of it in many instances, he was in some points an open and declared, enemy to morality and laws, both human and divine: with all his critical learning and politeness, he was now and then ignorant and rude. Thus was he, in truth, a composition of inconsistences and self-contradictions.
And yet whoever knew him - must weep over his failings, (or distempers of soul! shall I call them?) and pity, as much as he abhors their consequences!
To say all, his imagination and his passions were too strong for the hands of reason and religion to rein in; and thus he fell, like the fabled Phaeton, from the bright chariot of divine light; or, like that Lucifer, poetically represented by him, and (to our present view) perished by the fall.
This character may properly be concluded with a parallel or two from one of his own favourite authors.
- Nil fait unquam Sic impar fibi. - Hor. fat. 3.
'Sure such a various creature ne'er was known.'
- Sit jus liceatque perire poetis Invitum qui servat, idem facit occidenti. Nec semel hoc fecit; nec fi retractus erit, jam Fiet homo, & ponet famos mortis amorem.
‘Let wits be licens'd then themselves to kill; Tis murder to preserve them gainst their will. But more than once this frolic he hath play'd, Nor, taken out, will he be wiser made, Content to be a man; nor will his pride Lay such a glorious love of death aside.'
Hor. ars poet, v. 266-9.
As soon as it was known to me that he was charged with the aforesaid murder, he was sent for to chapel in order to be advised and directed
to proper means of making his peace with God; for this purpose, as he said he could read, a book was put into his hands, called A Compassionate address to prisoners for Crimes. Which he was exhorted to make good use of, at the same time reminding him, that tho' he might conceal his guilt of the crime, charged upon him from others, before his trial, yet, he could not hide it from divine justice, or his own conscience - he was desired to recollect and examine himself seriously touching his past life, especially considering, to how many temptations and sins the life of a seaman is generally exposed; and also representing to him, that irregular and profane character of our seamen, in which, they too often take pride to surpass each other - all which he acknowledged to be too true. - Being questioned of what profession he was, and being backward to answer me, I told him, I presumed, that he was of the church of Rome, but hoped, he had conformed to the established church, since he had entered into his Majesty's service; and would now continue therein, as reason and truth should direct him - his answer was remarkable - that he thought, "the one religion was as good as the other:" however I found that he was quickly after tutored by others, to another mind; for he refused ever after, to come up to chapel.
He was about twenty-four years of age, born in Dublin, and about four years ago, he entered on board his majesty's ship the Amazon, then of 22, but now of 26 guns; with which he was three years in the West-Indies; the ship being returned, was docked at Woolwich, and about three months since, he was sent into sick quarters, in the interval of which time this unhappy affair fell out. - He denied that he knew any thing more of it, but that it happened in asray, by a blow on the head of the deceased; but hearing afterwards that he charged him with it, he went to see him, when he appeared to be pretty well recovered, and could not say that he was the person who struck him, or gave him that blow: but it appears on the trial, that the uncertainty of his evidence is sufficiently made up by other witnesses.
After trial, conviction and sentence; going to visit the prisoners, I met Dempsy in the pressyard, and told him, I hoped, he would now give glory to God by an humble and sincere confession; but he still persisted to deny the fact: adding, that they were four common women that swore against him, and that they did not get above half a pint of gin a-piece, as a bribe for swearing his life away.
Notwithstanding this ludicrous way of talking, he had his manual in his breast, which, he said, he was continually employed in, calling to the queen of Heaven, there also stiled the queen of saints and angels, (as if to be allured by flattering titles) and then to Christ Jesus, as the Lamb of God, in the same page - any one may look into this book, and with half an eye see the absurdity, the profaneness and the idolatry, of perferring, equalling, or comparing the creature, to the CREATOR, even GOD our Saviour who is over all, blessed for ever - read your bibles (ye English Catholics! as you love to call yourselves) and see the necessity of a reformation; but do not reform your selves out of Christianity and the Catholic Faith, truly so called.
He was likewise indicted, on the coroner's inquest for the same.
He was born in the parish of Cowley near Uxbridge, Middlesex; his father was a shoemaker in the said parish, who brought him up in the same trade, and he followed it till the age of 17, when he took to the business of husbandry , in which he used to labour very hard (as he said) by day for the farmers, and often by night for the jockeys, by whom he meant, the people who buy straw and hay of the farmers, and repack their loads again in the night, for the London market.
By his own account, he married this wife, for whose death he was convicted, about 12 or 13 years ago; me was then a widow, living at Turnham-green, he has had since eleven children by her, two of which are still living, viz. a boy about 10 years of age, and a girl of six or seven. Both left to the care of the aforesaid parish, where he was born. - He-desired they might be earnestly recommended (with his fervent prayers for them) to the care of the family of Dagenels - one of whom is generally an officer of the said parish.
He is said to have insisted himself into the first regiment of foot guards about a year ago, on account of some debt he had contracted, and had it not in his power to pay; but gave up his pay as a soldier , some weeks before
this charge against him, to live near his wife and children, and his work.
The 20th of August, he attended prayers at the chapel; - being afterwards questioned about the murder of his wife? - He denied knowing any thing of it, and said, that he was six miles off, when the affair happened; and wished that he was as clear from all other offences, as he was of this, he should then have nothing to trouble him.
He attended chapel again, on Friday the 22d, and Sunday the 24th of August, where he behaved with decency.
On Friday being asked, why his trial was put off last sessions? - He answered, it was chiefly by Mr. F - g's means, that the truth might by some means come out. - He added, that the body of his wife was found in a pond, after a fortnight's missing her, putrefied and ftid; that on view, the jury brought it in, willful murder: and being asked, why he was suspected? He answered, because he used to have words with his wife. He said, that she was given to liquor, but otherwise, was a good wife; that she lived, and was found in the parish of Ealing; that he was in London, in company with his serjeant and corporal when her death happened (and that he knows not how it came) that the said serjeant and corporal are now abroad in Germany. - He at another time, asked me, if their affidavits now in Mr. F - g's hands, should not be produced an his trial in court? I referred him to an attorney for an answer.
On Friday, the 29th of August, he again attended chapel as usual; where he continued to behave decently and properly. - Said he was allowed no pay, nor any thing but bread and water, the goal allowance, to subsist on.
When conversed with again, on the 6th of September, he seemed to speak a little obscurely of the charge against him, and said, of the two chief evidences, that one was a butcher, who swore by mistake, that he saw him that night the fact was done, or his wife missing; Whereas, it must be the night after. The other witness, a woman, who, as he said, swore, that Odell advised her, to murder her husband.
But after prayers, exhortation, and instructtion, being seriously and solemnly questioned, he declared, he knew nothing of the fact, and that it would be a sad thing for them to put him to death for it. - That the loss of his wife was very great to him, for that she was a very good wife in all respects, but liquor; that they endeavoured to persuade his step-son, to swear against him, which he wanted to have proved in court.
Being again, visited and exhorted to true repentance; on the 11th and 12th of September, and prayed with, he then solemnly returned thanks to God, that he was as innocent as a babe, of the crime he was charged with, and this he persisted to declare, notwithstanding he was instructed, and seemed persuaded that he should be the vilest of men, if he continued to deny the fact, supposing he were guilty. - I told, and warned him over and over again, that there can be no possibility of advantage to him, even in this life, by denying it, and every thing in the next, to be dreaded, for not confessing it, if guilty.
He owned the truth of this, and yet openly and freely declared his innocence, in the strongest terms, so as really to stagger my opinion of the veracity of the witnesses against him, and induce a strong doubt of his guilt.
Being then asked, how he could account for their swearing such strong circumstances relating to the fact, such former cruel treatment, bitter words, and wicked expressions against him?
He answered, by declaring, first, that many of them were false; that the witnesses were, some. of ill same, and prejudiced against him on several accounts. - Such as, that one, viz. M - y M - n the first, and strongest female witness against him; was a person of bad repute, and, he had spoken of it to her husband and others, for which, she declared she would hang him, - Another cause of prejudice mentioned, was, that he enlisted two men out of the town of Acton, and took up a third there for desertion, for which -several of their friends and acquaintance, must. be piqued against him; but especially, as there had been formerly quarrels and blows between him and his wife, for she had been long given to liquor. - But that, since he had been a soldier (August was twelve-months) she had never felt the weight of his hand. - He asserted, it was the night after she was missing, and not the same night, that he went to look for her;. for that he never saw her, from the time she got up in the morning, and went to harvest work at Esquire Fish's, the day before she was loft. - That he believes, she might be in liquor, and fall into the pond, where she was found a fortnight after.
On the whole, he acknowledged, he had been guilty of many other sins; as common profane swearing and drunkenness, to repent of which,
he here employed every hour and minute; and in praying forgiveness for them; but took great comfort, that he was to suffer innocently for this, and hoped that he should be forgiven his other sins, on account of his present suffering patiently, and without cause, in this respect.
On this occasion he was instructed, that he was to expect the forgiveness of his sins, only for the merits of Christ's sufferings, and not his own, however undeserved, in this particular case. - That God indeed, brings sinners to a sight and sense of the sins they have been guilty of, by letting them fall under the imputation, and sometimes the punishment of crimes, which they never committed. - For his judgments are a great deep, and his ways unsearchable to us shortsighted sinners, in this life.
He was ready, by such discourse and reasoning, to correct his wrong opinion, and acknowledged another excellent end was answered by his present sufferings. - That he, might have gone on in his other sins, to the end of his life, if God had not brought him to repentance, by this dreadful and awakening punishment, and he believed this was the design of his goodness in this punishment, to bring him to repentance, and to save him.
He seemed so well to understand and apply the love of God in correcting sinners in this life, that on comparing the decent and pious behaviour, the patient submission of this poor illeterate soldier, and but lately profligate and abandoned sinner, with the contrary behaviour, of the learned and ingenious scholar, Mr. Stirn; - it brought to my mind, the wonderful dispensation of divine providence, which our blessed Saviour celebrates with thankful admiration of the manifold and deep wisdom of God.
St. Luke chap. x. 21st verse, "I thank thee, O father, lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wife and prudent, and revealed them to babes: even so, father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." And reminded me that I had warned Stirn, quickly after, his committal, to descend from the pride of knowledge and learning, to the simplicity and dove-like innocence of a child: if he would learn Christ Jesus in sincerity - not that the religion of Christ fears sagacious learning, or learned men. No! True and found learning is religion s natural friend, and inseparable ally. - It is vain deceit, and airy hypothetic philosophy, without experience, or nature's laws', that is unfriendly to sacred truth.
On the Morning of EXECUTION.
WHEN Odell was visited this morning, he appeared decent, composed, and ready to attend the duties of the chapel. Being asked how he had spent the night, he said, he had been reading and praying, with another prisoner, who assisted him in the cell most part of the night; that he found his mind easy and resigned, was in good .heart, (for he really looked and spoke chearfully) and had endeavoured, by earnest prayer and repentance, and attending to the reading of proper books, (for he could not read well himself) to be prepared to receive the holy communion; for which purpose we immediately went up to chapel, with two serious friends from without-doors, who piously and kindly came, by request, to make up a proper number at the administration; all other prisoners, except those to be executed, being kept locked up en this morning.
Being again strictly and solemnly questioned on this awful occasion, whether or no he was guilty of the murder of his wife, he declared, as he has done all along, that he was innocent of it as a child, and that, as he said a day or two before, he would live and die by the truth; yet he forgave the witnesses, and prayed to God to forgive them and turn their hearts. He again repeated, he knows the denial of it can do him no good at this time, but great harm, for that he must be punished for it in the life to come, if false. He persisted in the same expressions at the place of execution to to last moment.
When we came down from chapel, Dempsy was answer no questions; and seeming uneasy to be asked, was left to himself.
They were carried out in one cart about half an hour after eight, and got to the place of execution about ten, where Dempsy was invited to join in our prayers, but instead of complying, he turned his shoulder, and said, he should read in his own book, and so kept reading aloud, either to prevent his hearing our prayers, or to interrupt our attention. Being again charged in the sacred name of God, if guilty, to acknowledge the justice of his sentence; he answered, it would do him no good to confess it here.
Odell heartily joined in prayers, and confession of his faith, continued stedfast and resigned, and expressed a lively hope that he was going to a better place. He made an odd request to the Sheriff, that he would be pleased to stop at the house of M - y M - d - n, a door or two beyond the Black-lion at Action, with his body, and get her to touch it, or shake hands with him; Mr. Sheriff with great humanity, promised to perform his request.
After the blessing and commendation of their souls, (for I included Dempsy in our payers,) I asked him whether he was in charity with us, he answered, he died in charity with all the world. Odel returned ids last and hearty thanks for the services done him, and said now again, as he had before, that he believed I had been the instrument of saving his soul. We parted, and they were both consigned to eternity.
This is ail the account given by me,