The Ashburton Guardian. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1880. “ Whoso Sheddeth Man’s Blood, by Man Shall his Blood he Shed.”
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We are aware that there are a great many, -estimable and well-meaning people who altogether dissent from the principle laid down in the scrap of Mosaic law with which this article, is headed —who look with horror upon the taking of human life, even though that life be taken in expiation of a great crime, and in theintrests of the general safety “of society. With these good and tender-hearted" people we do not for a moment agree j bur, assuming they aic right in their contention —that to take human life is against the canons of the
Most High, and antagonistic to the spirit of Jesus Christ’s gospel-would not their endeavors be more legitimate if they directed Them towards an alteration of the present law regarding capital punishment, instead of doing their best to secure its miscarriage at every recurrence of a death sentence. The law is for the protection ofsociety, and the annals of crime show that a second theft is more easy than a first, and third still more so, and so on in regular progres-. sion, on the principle that practice makes perfection. Once familiar with murder, a man becomes a dangerous animals in society, and the abhorrence in which he is held only heightens the danger that exists to society from his freedom. Society demands immunity from this danger, and the law supplies that demand by capital punishment. Imprisonment for life would, we daresay, serve the same end, but that punishment, it might be said would be a deterrent of far less power than the assurance before the would-be murderer that death must be the consequence of his act. So long as the law remains as it is, so long should it be carried out in its integrity, and every endeavor to save the lite of a criminal who. has earned a liability to a hempen necklet, is but a premium offered to the crime of murder. If every desperado, no matter how heinous his guilt, knows that, even after being tried and condemned by a jury of twelve intelligent men, he will still have the powerful advocacy of ninetenths of the clergy, who will bring, all possible pressure to bear upon those in whose hands rests the prerogative of mercy—knowing. this, we say, to .him the law will lose its greatest terror, and instead of • saving .life, those tenderhearted individuals, whose souls revolt at the thought.of sacrificing the life of a wretched murderer, will be instrumental in removing a great safeguard of the lives of law-abiding ,men, women, and children, who would thus be. in’con-; tinual danger from the blood-thirstiness of lust-impelled villians, whether that lust be of gain or otherwise. Never of late years has a criminal been convicted of a diabolical crime, but some misguided individuals have attempted- to shield him from , the consequences of his -act. .So; late as last week,- we had the head of the Episcopal Church in Dunedin endeavoring, by every means in his power, to gain a respite for the condemned criminal Ah Lee, convicted, after a patient and lengthy trial, of one of-the m’bst brutal and-cowardly murders ever perpetrated; and by our cablegrams on Saturday, we learn that a meeting in Melbourne on Friday night, attended’ by 6,000 persons, adopted a petition for a repreivo of the notorious Ned Kelly. . This latter movement was originated, we are told, by Mr. David Gaunson, a solicitor, and Ned Kelly’s legal adviser at the trial, but better known, perhaps, as the Larrikin of the Victorian Assembly. Now, we do not in the same breath bracket the endeavor of his Lordship the Bishop of Dunedin with that of the member for Ararat. In the case of the former, we hive a man striving for a principle which he believes to be right; in the latter we have the paid attorney trading upon the sympathies of men like his Lordship and backed up and paid—perhaps according to results — by the relatives and friends of the late Kelly gang, endeavoring to gain a respite for a wretch who. long ago should have expiated his crimes upon the scaffold. : But, while not considering the two cases as running in parallel lines, both are levelled at the same ob-ject--that of obtaining a miscarriage of justice. For if it is a miscarriage of justice for a man to escape the just punishment that follows murder, while the whole world is morally satisfied of his guilt, though the direct proof is wanting—as in the case of the convict Butler—most surely it is a grave miscarriage of JUS ice to reprieve a pronounced vihmn like Kelly after he has been convicted in fair, patient, and impartial trial of a foul murder—whether that reprieve be obtained through the agency of a minister ■of the gospel or through the agency of an attorney well paid for his trouble. In the case of the Kyeburn murderer, Bishop Neville sought to show that it was impossible to distinguish between the blood of a sheep and the" .blood' of a woman, and, so far as we learn, bn this ground alone sought the respite of the murderer, conveniently overlooking the other damming proofs of the man’s guilt. What can be the ground on which the reprieve of Ned Kelly is sought we are at a loss to know. If it is merely a point of law, some legal quibble "that a lawyer thinks he can successfully raise, then we say that the blood of the numerous victims of Kelly outrages cry aloud for justice oh the head of the sole survivor of the (jes* perate gang, and that, as in the case ofthe other felon we have mentioned, he be promptly sent to bis doom.
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