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VICTORIA., Taranaki Herald, Volume XIII, Issue 632, 10 September 1864, Supplement
EXECUTION OF HARRISON, WOODS, AND
The doubt (says the Herald of August 11th,) which has agitated the public mind regarding the' ultimate fate of the three convicts, Harrison, Woods, and Carver, was set at rest yesterday morning by the announcement that the Governor, with whom the prerogative of mercy rests, had declined to interfere with the action of the Executive, and that consequently the law would be allowed to take its course. The condemned men were fully apprised that no hope of a respite need be expected, and they were, therefore, prepared to undergo their punishment at the hour fixed, namely nine o'clock in the morning. Long before the appointed time a crowd of persons began to assemble outside the gaol walls, as the impression was still sttong in the minds of the public that Harrison, at least, would be reprieved from death . From the unseemly manner in which persons have conducted themselves when admitted to view previous executions, the Sheriff wisely decided not to admit anyone on this occasion who might desire to be present out of mere curiosity and, therefore, the spectators were limited to about two dozen people, many of these being doctors and official personages. There is no doubt but that an execution conducted privately has a greater effect upon the culprit. There is no gaping crowd to give him courage, among whom his behaviour aud nothis crimes, is the subject of contemplation, whilst his demeanour on the scaffold is the admiration of the bold and hardened. But there is also that connected with a private execution which inspires awe and dread. The spectators are brought more directly in contact with the apparatus of death. They stand around while the final terrible preparations are being made, and they follow the culprit to the scaffold. The criminal finds himself alone, for though he may look round he sees that he is only in the presence of those whose hard duty it is simply to carry out the law. Therefore as the law has wisely decided that the execution of criminals shall be conducted privately, the provisions of the act should be carried out in their integrity. The three convicts had been most assiduously attended by several clergymen, among whom were the very Rev the Dean of Melbourne, the Rev. H. Becher, the Rev. R, Barlow, the Rev. G. Mackie,and the Rev. George Studdert, gaol chaplain. The rev. gentlemen laboured hard to bring the convicts to a proper state of mind. Harrison would listen attentively to all that was said to him aud frequently join in prayer, but he never altered his opinion as to his being justified in what he did. Carver was very penitent, and frequently expressed his contrition. He was most attentive to the spiritual exhortations which were addressed to him, and appeared calmly resigned to his fate. Woods, who was frequently attended by the ministers of religion, paid little heed to him, and appeared utterly reckless as to the future. He would sometimes listen attentively to what was addressed to him, and to tließev.G. Mackie he said " 1 wish I could die a Christian," and would ask what was the use of praying, as he would soon he in the " universal ether, and his soul would come back to earth in another shape." It is to be feared that little or no impress ion was made on the mind of this man, as he seemed regardless of a future state, and declined to entertain the idea of confesssion and forgiveness of sins. The three culprits occupied the condemned cells in the lower corridor, aud precisely as the clock struck nine the
sheriff proceeded to first cell and informed the prisoner that his hour had come. Harrison stepped forth with a firm and steady step, but he was evidently suffering fiom intense mental excitement, and kept his hand to his forehead. The executioner who had been lurking at the far end of the corridor advanced to perform his terrible duties, when Harrison desired to address a few words, which request having been granted he took occasion to express his gratitude for the manner in which he had been treated by the officials whilst in gaol. He thought that if the thing was put fairly r that he could not be regarded other than a poor unfortunate man ; but he had everything to gain and* toothing to lose. He bore no malice towards those who had stood against him, and he did not wish to find any fault with the judge and jury, but he thought' that he had only done what any other man would have done under the circumstances. He did not ' desire to live for himself. He thought that it was* a very unwise thing that prisoners should be put into the prison yard indiscriminately. There the most desperate men— such as these who made 1 the attack on the bank, and himself, a murderer— were placed with the man that perhaps got drunk and quarrelled with his wife. They had nothing to occupy their minds, and therefore tbey discussed the matters before them and the greatest villain was the hero of the day. Thousands of pounds had been spent on the gaol, as it seemed to him, only to propagate crime, as by placing all the prisoners together, instead of affecting a reformation amongst the less hardened, it only tended to make them acornplished villains. Whereas if prisoners — like the boy who took a book from the Public Library, who was possessed of high mental feeling — were placed in seperate cells, the result would be different. He concluded by saying that he had done nothing wrong, and did not fear death at all. Whilst the executioner was performing the process of pinioning, Harrison exhibited the utmost com. posure, and seemed to take a lively interest in all that was going on. When he thought the cords were to tight, he called to the executioner to loosen them a little. The white cap having been placed on his head, he turned round to the sheriff and asked that he might make a present of his body to Professor Halford, which request was declined. Woods then stepped forth from his cell only to behold his fellow-culprit prepared for the gallows. Woods at once addressed those present in a loud and firm voice. He said that he had never committed murder, and the shadow of the 'tombstone would be better than his enemies.' He had always lived like a man, and would die like one. He had given to the poor. He had certainly liked money, but they were all fond of the root of evil. Whilst being prepared by Smith, Woods acted in a thoroughly reckless and flippant manner, saying to the executioner, "All right, my boy," as the cap was being pulled over his head. 'He then advanced a little distance along the corridor to where Harrison was standing, and they shook hands, Woods making some irreligious remark as to their different destinations in another world. He again' said that he had never intented any violence at the bank, and hoped that the most terrible punishment might be his doom if he purposely fired the pistol. He gave his blessing to his friends and curse to his enemies, naming Anderson and Phillips, alias Nayhr, formerly of Tasmania. He then sang a song pitched in a high key, and adopted every means to show his bravado and absolute want of feeling, a proceeding which told most painfully upon those assembled. Carver, on the contrary, was quite contrite. He showed a firm though quiet demeanour. He forgave everyone, and hoped that God would forgive him. At the trial, when he was cast for death, he had intenled to have asked that his head might not be placed in the waxworks, or himself caricatured in the papers, but he now hoped that this would be done as an example, and that it would be known that he had died repentant. The melancholy procession then proceeded slowly along the corridor, across the yard, and into the place of execution. All three men ascended the steps leading to the scaffold with firmness, and without assistance. They each looked around to obtain a last glance before the outer world should be for ever shut out to them. On the drop. Carver was placed between the other two. Harrison thanked the Governor for allowing him to be free from irons since his condemnation, and, at his request, the chaplain gave him his blessing. Woods denied that he new what hanging was, as had been stated by somebody. He was also very particular about the knot being properly placed ou his neck j and Carver only uttered a fervent prayer that the Lord would have mercy on his soul. The bolt was then drawn, and the three culprits were instantaneously launched into eternity. Harrison and Carver died without any visible struggle, and a slight twiching of the muscles was the only indication that the spirit had not so quickly fled from the body of the other man. After the corpses had'been allowed to hang the prescribed time indicated by the law, they were cut down for interment. Christopher Harrison was born in the year 1809, and came to the colony in the Great Britain in 1855. He was a native of Northampton, and a member of the Church of England. His history must be tolerably familiar from the statements which have been made by his re la-, tives through the columns of the press. Samuel Woods, as he chose to call himself, bat that was not his real name, was born at Bath, in 1823, and was a shoemaker by trade. His history is a peculiar one, and shows that the unfortunate man had been familiar with crime in all it phases from a very early age. - According to his own statement, which is very^doubtful, he was tne son of'a Church of England clergyman, at Bath. That at the age of nine years he Was imprisoned for some trivial offence, but in the gaol he met with & young man who recalled to his mind the pleasures which were to be found at races, and other places of public amusement. This same young man met him in the streets from time to time, and Woods was at length alluied into joining a band of thieves, and for some time he was employed as the " tiger "in creeping through window sashes after the panes had been removed, and opening the door for the burglars to enter the houses. At the age of 14, there was scarcely a crime, except murder, with which he was not familiar. In 1839 he was convicted, of burglary, and sent out to Tasmania, under a sentence of] 5 years. About this time his father died of a broken heart, caused by the sins of his son. During the last three years of Woods' career in Tasmania he iesided with a publican named Doming, at .Research Bay, and during the absence of the proprietor had entire charge of the placcv
One of the little children there was almost brought up by him, and when Woods went to execution yesterday he held in his hand a lock of hair of this little child, now thirty months old. He has a brother who was also sent out to the same colony, and the other day, in Writing to him he said that he would " die like a Roman." Woods came to Victoria in January last, and he owns to having committed the robbery at 1 Bergin's store, and in mentioning this he remarked, " It shows I did not wish to do any dishonourable thing, as I did not .take the money from the boy, but only the money of those who could afford it." He was very fond of singing, and prevous to his condemnation copied a lot of music. He also used to play the harmonium in the gaol. His music book he gave to the senior warder. Woods was said to be generous in some of his actions. He has writteu on autobiography, which he has disposed of to some enterprising publisher ; the proceeds are to be given to a poor blind man and his daughter, who had been kind to him in other days. Wm. Carver was born in England, in 1824, and was a blacksmith by trade. He came to this colony in the Sea Queen, in 1852. It is doubtful whether Carver is his real name. He was for some time employed at his trade in Geelong, earning £4 a week. He was a married man, but his wifs— who was an abandoned and profligate woman—had long: been separated from him. Both of them were given to drinking, and they frequently quarrelled. It seems that he was formerly sent out to Tasmania, but he never met either Woods or Phillips there. It was only about a fortnight before the robber j that Carver met Woods, who persuaded him to join with him and Phillips in a " good thing," by which they could obtain plenty of money, then get clear of the colony and live like honest men.
The Champion Billiard Plater Losing a Match. The English champion billiard player has sustained a reverse in Melbourne at the hands of Mr. Lamb, the latter receiving a large proportion of points. The Argus says :— " Roberts' • billiard tournament' — to quote the phrase of the advertisement — came to a conclusion on Saturday even, ing last, and, to the surprise of all concerned, the end was the defeat of the champion by Lamb, who when half the game was given him, managed by fine play and a series of extraordi nary fortunate breaks, set off by even more than corresponding bad luck on the part of Rollers, to reach the ultimatum of a 1000 points when a long way ahead of his opponent. There were two^matches played on that day, and the first, which took place in the after, noon, was with Norcliffe, who received 600 point* in the 1000. Very little distinguished it from the more ordinary games in which Roberts has taken part. His breaks were few, and seventeen successive spot strokes his greatest effort in that way. But the play was wonderfully rapid, and by the time Norcliffe had scored 240 Roberts passed him and won by 60 points in not very much more than two huors and a half. It was the evening game that excited most interest. It began very quietly, Roberts, while scoring fairly, beiug evidently more anxious to amuse the spectators by surprising strokes, such as those played with his head away than to pass his adversary. After an hour, the scores stood : — Lamb, 510 ; Roberts, 210. At this point Lamb began to play very badly, and at 333 v. 687 it seemed as though Roberts was waiting for his opponent to recover himself. Befote long Lamb's style rapidly improved, and the balls btoke for him as they never broke before during the champion matches. His strokes, especially the losing hazards into the middle pockets, were executed with admirable skill, but fortune played some of the oddest tricks to place his balls in a favorable position for future scaring, no matter what he did. Aruoug other breaks he made one of 51 , and another of 46 ; while Roberts found his most strenuous efforts to keep up a long running score baulked by those trifling accidents which often iuflueuce a game nearly as much as the very best play. That the reel ball should catch the shoulder of the pocket the sixteenth of an inch wrong — that the white should swerve a hair's breadth — that the pace should carry a ball, that whirled from angle to angle three or four times, two or three -inches furtber thau was iutended, were all important incidents which in ninety nine cases out of a huudred, reach a certain average ; but on Saturday night Lamb had good luck enough for two men, and Roberts bad luck enough for half a dozen. It is certain however that the latter did not seriously exert himself at the early part of the game, and when the strain came he could hardly make ten strokes in a break, while Lamb, with less powerful play, went on to victory. The game proceeded till the scores were—Roberts, 622 ; Lamb, 996 ; when the latter after a few provoking failures, of which the champion could take no advantage, ecored out, amid loud applause."
VICTORIA., Taranaki Herald, Volume XIII, Issue 632, 10 September 1864, Supplement
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